Disclaimer: You know, I've never even been to England.
Groggy. That was the best way to describe how Harry felt the morning after the Yule Ball. He didn't know how late it was, but he knew he had to have slept in pretty late since the sun was already high in the sky and pouring light in through the window. He slowly got dressed before making his way down to the Great Hall for a late breakfast, or possibly lunch. Upon reaching the common room, he ran into Neville, who closed his book, vacated his seat and silently fell into step next to Harry.
"So, Daphne Greengrass hmm?" Was all Neville said as they descended the stairs into the Entrance Hall.
"Yeah..." Harry let it hang, not sure what else to add.
"How did that happen?" His curiosity was radiating off him.
"Long story mate," He was definitely not in the mood to talk about her, but he could hardly blame Neville for being curious. He would probably be just as curious if the situations were reversed.
"You two like, a thing?" he asked. "Or something?" he added awkwardly.
"No, and definitely not after last night," Harry told him as they took their seats away from everyone at the Gryffindor table.
"What happened?" Neville asked as he reached for some bacon.
Harry began calmly explaining how the ball went last night to Neville. He had barely gotten halfway through the story before Hermione joined them and he had to start over. To his astonishment, neither of them really seemed surprised at the news that Hagrid was half-giant. Hermione had assumed because she was just smart like that while Neville had heard from his grandmother when he told her Hagrid was taking over Care of Magical Creatures. Though, apparently, he too had his suspicions as well, no doubt from his upbringing. What had surprised them, however, was the row he had with Daphne about it.
"Harry, please don't get mad or upset with me, but you don't think you overreacted just a tad with Daphne?" Hermione asked cautiously.
"Overreacted? You think I overreacted?" He wasn't necessarily mad or upset, just well...does frustrated count as mad?
"It doesn't sound like she was trying to say she was better than Hagrid, or anyone really. Don't look at me like that Harry," she added sternly as she saw the incredulous look he was now wearing.
"Well then, what does it sound like to you?"
"It sounds like she was making a simple fact about how giants are dangerous. Which is true Harry, everyone knows that. She never actually said Hagrid was dangerous and horrible, did she?"
"Well, no. But what about when she was talking about his classes?" He argued.
"Oh come on Harry. You know how everyone feels about the Skrewts," she put as much emphasis onto everyone as she could muster. "And it wasn't Hagrid's fault Malfoy got attacked by Buckbeak, but Hippogriffs are listed as a four on the five star danger chart in 'Fantastic Beasts and where to find them.'" Hermione pointed out.
"What's your point?" was all he could think to say.
"That it sounds as if she wasn't saying anything about Hagrid personally, but was just talking about giants in general and you perceived it as racism against giants, and Hagrid by extension." She explained calmly. "It doesn't sound like she was being a Pureblood Supreme-ist like Malfoy and his pathetic gang."
Harry opened his mouth for a few seconds, before promptly closing it. He did this three times. He loved Hermione, he really did, but curse her and her stupid logic.
"Why don't you try talking to her about it?" Hermione suggested helpfully.
"Maybe later," he told her. He had to admit that Hermione had a point, but he still did not really want to talk to Daphne Greengrass right now.
"At least think about what I said?" Harry wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a question or not.
Harry, against his will, found himself later that day in the library with Hermione and Neville, working on their Transfiguration homework that had been assigned over the holidays. Hermione was revising her own essay while Neville was pouring over his book and rubbing his temple with the end of his quill in a confused fashion. Harry gave a silent, half-laugh at his friends antics, but then remembered he wasn't doing any better. He was frustratingly biting his own quill, as if inspiration and understanding would magically come to him by doing this. He began rereading what he had already wrote, but stopped when the words began blurring together. He slowly blinked and looked away from the word salad on the parchment, only to find a familiar figure walking towards their table.
"Hey guys." Hermione and Neville both looked up when they heard the newcomer speak. Harry saw Hermione give the briefest of eye rolls as she noticed Ron standing beside them.
"Hey Ron," Neville greeted politely as Harry motioned to the vacant chair between him and Neville, but Ron didn't budge.
"Look, Harry, I thought about what you said last night and you were right. I wanted to apologize to you and Hermione about how I acted at the ball."
Hermione looked utterly surprised at this point. As much as he and Hermione loved Ron, this was quite un-Ronish.
"Hermione, sorry that I said that Krum only asked you to the ball in order to get information on Harry. Oh and for thinking you were just saying you had a date so you wouldn't be embarrassed by going alone. Harry, sorry I accused Greengrass of only being with you in order to try and curse you or something of that nature. I was just really surprised when you guys showed up with a Slytherin and THE Viktor Krum," he stared at his sneakers, a rather guilty look on his face.
"Thank you Ronald." Hermione said coolly. "I suppose no one expected bookworm Hermione to get asked by Viktor to a ball. I was surprised myself when he asked me."
"Sit down mate." Harry said simply.
"Thanks guys. What are we working on?"
"Transfiguration," Neville replied as he subconsciously rubbed his temple with his quill again.
"Oh thank Merlin. I have no idea what any of it means," Ron said with relief before taking a series look again. "You guys don't mind helping me do you?"
"Let me see how much you have done so far," Hermione held out her hand, which Ron filled with a roll of parchment he pulled from his bag. Unrolling it, Hermione scanned over it, quite quickly too.
"You have the title and your name," Hermione deadpanned. Harry supposed that was why it took her only a second to review it.
"Yeah," Ron said slowly, a sheepish smile appearing on his face.
Hermione sighed, rolled her eyes and tried to suppress a grin. "Alright, let's get started then."
That was how things went for the next hour. While Hermione caught Ron up, Harry and Neville began working together and got excited when they found that they were making progress on the theory. They were both glad that they finally understood just what they were supposed to be writing about, only to be told by Hermione that they were horribly wrong, thus setting them back even further. At least she told them in a nice way without making them feel too stupid. Harry was glad another interruption came in the form of Cedric. Breaks were always appreciated.
"Hey Harry, can I have a word?" the Hufflepuff asked as he approached their table.
"Uh, yeah," he said, shuffling some parchment around so as to have something to do with his hands. "Sure."
Cedric lead him to small table tucked away in a corner of the library rarely used. Checking to make sure no one was around, he faced Harry, a secretive look on his face.
"I told you I would let you know if I made any progress on the egg. Have you made any progress yet?" Harry's heart sank. He had completely forgotten about the golden egg, he was so caught up in the stupid ball.
"If you count headaches from wailing as progress, then yes. I've made plenty," he grinned.
"I've found a way to fix that." Harry gaped at him.
"Take a bath mate."
"Come again?" Did Cedric really just say what Harry thought he said?
"Take a bath. Bring the egg with you and you know, mull things over in the hot water," he explained seriously.
"Hmm strange, but ok. I'll check it out. Thanks Cedric."
"Don't mention it. Also, use the prefects bathroom. More privacy and all. Password's pine fresh," Cedric said. After he explained where the prefects bathroom was, he left, stating that he had plans with Cho.
"What was that about?" Hermione asked when Harry took his place again at their table.
"I need to take a bath," Harry answered dryly.
"Err, sorry?" Hermione looked confused.
"You don't smell that badly," Neville joked.
"Remember how I told Cedric about the dragons?" Harry told them in a hushed voice. "Well he was repaying the favor. He said take a bath and bring the egg with me."
"Sounds like he's throwing you for a loop mate," Ron said. "How will taking a bath help?"
"Good point, I mean it just sounds fishy," Neville added.
"Still, what have I got to lose? I haven't the foggiest what the wailing is supposed to mean," Harry sighed.
"True that Harry. When do you plan on going to check it out?" Ron asked curiously, although that may be because he was doing his best to avoid the homework sprawled out in front of him.
"Cedric told me how to use the prefects bathroom. I guess I'll go tonight when everyone else is in bed. I'll just take the cloak and the map with me."
"You sure about this Harry? What if you get caught, or worse?" Hermione inquired cautiously. She did look mighty concerned.
"What do you mean 'or worse?'"
"Well, we know there is someone dangerous in the castle who put your name in the Goblet. Don't forget what Snuffles keeps telling you about not wandering around after dark?"
"Hermione has a fair point Harry. You sure about this?" inputted Neville, putting aside his Transfiguration essay.
"I'm just going to a bathroom guys. What, is someone going to sneak up on me and drown me in the bath?" Harry commented with mirth.
"Yes." Hermione deadpanned.
"Look, would it make you feel better if one of you guys comes with me? That way, while I try to sort out the clue, one of you can keep an eye on the map," Harry suggested half-heartedly.
"I'll do it," Ron threw out there energetically. "I know I still got a lot to make up for, so let me do this."
"Sounds like a plan," Neville nodded, but Hermione looked deep in thought.
"Hmmm...alright." she finally conceded. "Just be careful you two. Don't take any unnecessary risks."
Harry and Ron sat in a corner of the Common Room late that night, waiting for everyone to clear out. It was almost eleven when the last yawning Gryffindor made their way to bed. Harry grabbed the bag he had next to him which contained the cloak, the map, and the egg. Harry handed Ron the map and grabbed the invisibility cloak, throwing it over the pair while Ron pointed his wand at the map and swore that he was up to no good.
"Yeah, looks good," Ron answered as he squinted at the map. "Filch is in his office, and Mrs. Norris is in the dungeons."
"Near North Tower. Let's go," Ron suggested as though this was a casual walk in the park.
They had to walk almost painstakingly slow as they could only move so fast without making noise. They silently agreed that it was better to be safe than sorry and cautiously made their way to the fifth floor.
"Ok, we should be there," Ron finally whispered after nearly ten minutes of silence. "Yeah this is it. There's the painting of that nutter with his gloves on the wrong hands."
"Pine fresh," Harry whispered to the right door. 'Well, Cedric was right so far.'
They both slipped into the bathroom and gasped. This place was, well there was no other word for it, gigantic. Just the bathtub looked to be the size of the swimming pool with what looked to be about 50 taps.
"Well, I'll just uh, wait over here, stare at the map and try not to make this awkward while you, uh, bathe," Ron shuffled over to the marble step in front of the sinks. Why a bathroom had a step leading to a sink was quite a mystery to him.
"I'm wearing trunks underneath my robes Ron," Harry chuckled at his friend as he turned on some of the taps. "So it won't be that awkward."
"Well, that's a bit better. Not quite as embarrassing at least."
Ron still hid behind the Marauder's Map when Harry pulled off his robes and plunged into the now full bathtub. For such a large tub, it filled quite quickly. Gotta love magic. He swam around for a few minutes to get adjusted to the water before swimming over to the side and grabbing the golden egg. He hesitantly opened it, and it wailed.
"Bloody hell!" Ron, who had been paying attention to the map and not Harry, nearly fell over in surprise while dropping the map. While retrieving the parchment, he heard the wailing stop as Harry closed the egg. "That worked out brilliantly, I'd say."
"Now what?" Harry stared at the egg, asking it more so than Ron.
"No idea mate," Ron answered from the behind the map, no doubt assuming that Harry was talking to him.
"Should I just, I don't know, try again?" Harry asked, rather confused. Cedric really could have been a little more clear with the instructions.
"Maybe you need to open it inside a flushing toilet or something," Ron suggested wildly.
"...Really? That's the best you got?" Harry couldn't help but laugh at his friend.
"I don't know. Let's see you come up with something," Ron replied defensively.
"What about, maybe I should put it, like, in the water or something?" Harry said unsure.
"Yeah, there's a good idea! Go for it," Ron encouraged enthusiastically. Although that might have been to make up for his terrible idea.
Harry opened the egg, which wailed loudly for a moment before he dropped in into the bath. The wailing stopped abruptly. The Gryffindor boys both stared wild-eyed at each other for several moments before Harry broke eye contact and dove underwater, following the golden egg. After several long moments, Harry surfaced and took a large breath of air. Both boys stared at the each other for a brief moment before opening their mouths and trying to speak at the same time.
"I think I know what the second task is."
"I just saw something interesting on the map."
"Is Filch coming?" Harry couldn't help but get a little anxious at that. "You don't think he heard the wailing earlier?"
"Nah. But come look at this." Harry climbed out of the water and grabbed a conveniently placed towel and tried to dry himself off as he walked over to Ron.
"What is it?"
"Where'd that towel come from?"
"Oh. Well what is Mr. Crouch doing in Snape's office at half past eleven at night?" Ron wondered as he pointed it out on the map to Harry.
"Oh no Harry. We are not sneaking off to Snape's office," Ron added upon catching the look on Harry's face.
"Come on Ron, you know you're curious," Harry argued.
"Yeah I am, but we told Hermione we wouldn't take any unnecessary risks. Unnecessary risk is a bit of an understatement for that," Ron retorted defiantly.
"Don't you want to know what Crouch is up to though? I mean, first he doesn't show up for the Yule Ball, and now he is sneaking around Snape's office," That was when it dawned on him. He was sure his face showed it. "You don't reckon Snape is up to something do you?"
"Harry, you know I think Snape is always up to something," Ron laughed. "What makes you think this is any different? I mean he did save you in first year."
"Then why are so many people investigating him? Moody searched his office when he first arrived I heard. And now Crouch is poking around it in the dead of night? Seems strange."
"Course it seems strange, but we're not going. Think about it Harry, what would Hermione and Sirius say when they find out?"
That made Harry deflate instantly. He should've come alone. Then he would see what Crouch was up to. Curse Ron and his Hermione logic. That was certainly a new one. He couldn't help but grin at that. "Who are you and what have you done with Ron?"
"Yeah, no kidding mate. I must sound mental," Ron chuckled amusedly. "Now about that second task..."
"So you have to survive under the lake for an hour to rescue...something?"
"Look Hermione, just forget the second task for a moment," Harry said. becoming slightly aggravated. "Snape and/or Crouch is up to something."
"Do you reckon Snape is up to something?" Neville mimicked Harry's question from the night before.
"Look, I don't care what you guys say, Dumbledore trusts Snape," Hermione said shortly, as though that settled the matter. They were currently sitting around a table in the corner of the Gryffindor common room, Harry and Ron explaining the adventurous tale from the night before. Neville and Hermione had both sat up close, taking in every word. Now Neville had leaned back in his chair, contemplating what these strange series of events could possibly mean, while Hermione reached into her bag and pulled out, three guesses what, a book.
"Then why is Crouch pretending to be ill?" Harry kept interrogating her, not allowing her to hide behind The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4.
"Who says he is pretending?" Hermione challenged, setting the book on the table.
"Oh come off it. You can't tell me that he isn't well enough to attend the ball, but is able to sneak up in the middle of the night to search Snape's office?"
"Maybe ball's aren't his thing," Neville interjected humorously, to which Ron joined in the laughter.
"Neville has a point," Hermione replied, rather seriously.
"But that was just a joke," Harry disagreed.
"Doesn't mean it doesn't hold water. Maybe he really didn't want to go the ball. He could of had something to do at the Ministry."
"Fine," Harry finally gave in. "But, if he isn't at the Second Task then I'm going to talk to Snuffles, see what he thinks."
Harry dropped onto the near deserted bench of the Gryffindor table. He didn't want to say he was mad, but he was rather frustrated at the lack of useful information the library contained about breathing underwater. His head was starting to hurt just thinking about the second task coming up, but at least on the brightside, he still had a little over a month left. Tossing that subject aside though, he scanned the Great Hall and subconsciously, he told himself that anyway, found Daphne. He saw her pick up a copy of the Daily Prophet off her plate and toss it to the side before she took a bite from the toast in her hand. Harry assumed it was getting cold as she pulled her head away from it with a frown on her face. That was when he saw a handful of Ravenclaws pass by her, give her a judgmental look and kept walking. Harry sighed. He found it pretty ironic that everyone had been giving him flak for supposedly entering himself in the tournament. Now they are talking about how it must've been Daphne all along, she somehow used her Slytherin dark magic on him. He sighed again. Really, this place needed something better to do than gossip. Maybe if they did something really cool like teach magic then people wouldn't need to gossip so much. Perhaps it was just him though. That was when he saw Daphne talking to Malfoy.
He vaguely wondered if they were giving her a hard time about going to the ball with him. Either that or they were no doubt trying to convince her to use the relationship to help them get revenge or something. You can never tell with Malfoy. Harry imagined him convincing Daphne to allow their Skrewt to no doubt eat him in class today. Skrewts. Class...shit. He knew that today was the first day back from break, but it didn't quite register with him until now. Today was Care of Magical Creatures. That meant he had to not only be face-to-face with Daphne, but he had to work with her. Well, that'll be an awkward encounter for the history books.
Harry slowly walked down to the edge of the forest for class accompanied by Ron, Neville, and Hermione. They were still laughing at Ron's joke of how the Skrewts would prevent them from freezing in the snow, as they will either be having to run away from them, or they would blast off so hard Hagrids hut might catch fire, when they reached the class. The laughter stopped abruptly when they saw, not Hagrid, but a woman with close cropped grey hair.
"Where's Hagrid?" Harry asked, staring at the lady, confused.
"Never you mind," she answered shortly. "I am Professor Grubbleyplank. I am the temporary Care of Magical Creatures teacher."
"Gather around!" she called to the class, who fell into place in front of her. "Today we will be learning about unicorns. Boys, keep back! Unicorns prefer the woman's touch. Ladies, approach slowly and carefully."
Harry, completely done with this class already, turned to Ron and Neville hastily. "What do you thinks wrong with Hagrid?"
"You don't reckon a Skrewt..." Neville started.
"Oh he hasn't been attacked," Malfoy cut in gleefully. "No, he's just too ashamed to show his big ugly face."
He tossed a copy of the Daily Prophet over to Harry, who unfolded it and felt his heart dive bomb his stomach. He could feel Ron, Neville, Dean and Seamus reading the article over his shoulder. He could feel the paper shaking in his hands from rage. He barely remembered the class at all. He seemingly blinked and it was over. He shuffled angrily away from the class with Ron, Neville and Hermione. He hardly felt the snow's bitter cold compared to the angry fire burning away inside of him.
"That was a really good lesson," Hermione began. "I didn't know half the things about-"
"Look at this!" Harry snapped hotly. He thrust the paper in front of her and she scanned it, her eyes becoming wider by the line.
"How did she-" Harry heard Hermione start to say, but stopped listening when he saw Daphne standing still, staring at them. He casually let the three of them walk ahead of him, discussing the article while he walked over to the Slytherin girl.
"You seen this?" he asked as calmly as he could. It was taking extreme willpower to stay this calm and keep his voice even.
"Uhh, yeah," she said finally. She looked almost, what was that, ashamed? Harry ignored it though. She continued briefly. "I saw it this morning..."
"You happy now?" Harry asked openly. He looked into her blue eyes, and saw regret. He was almost positive she saw the anger and hurt behind his. He dropped the paper by her feet, not wanting it to torment him any longer, Daphne bashfully looked at it. As soon as she had broken the eye contact, he turned on his heels and walked back to the castle, feeling more dejected than when everyone had shunned him for his name firing out of the Goblet.
The next couple of weeks seemed to fly by in Harry's mind. He still did not have a great idea about what he was going to do, at least until the trip into Hogsmeade. It was still extremely cold and windy as they hurriedly made their way to the village, making sure to huddle close together as they walk. Their plan on keeping warm was far from foolproof, but it was at least a tiny bit effective. After arriving at the village and poking around a bit, they had come to the conclusion that Hagrid wasn't at any of the shops. One of the unspoken items on the agenda today was to try and see if Hagrid was in the magic village. They unanimously agreed on going to the Three Broomsticks next. There was several reasons for this. One, there was a slim chance Hagrid was there getting his bucket size glass of mead, and also because, you know, it was significantly warmer inside the pub with warm butterbeer than outside.
"There's a table," Hermione pointed to an open booth in the middle of the pub. They pushed their way through the crowd and claimed it for themselves. They were in the midst of talking about who was getting the drinks and who was paying for them when there was a rhythmic, muffled clunking noise.
"Hello Professor Moody," Hermione greeted cheerfully.
"Everyone doing alright? Potter?" Moody growled politely. Harry wasn't sure if you could growl politely or not, but that's what it sounded like anyways.
"Good Professor." They all answered like that in some form or another.
"Well, best be on my way. Oh Longbottom, how're you liking that herbology book I lent ya?" He added as an afterthought.
"Wha-oh!" Neville looked confused before a moment before it dawned on him just what their potentially crazed teacher was referring to. "Yes sir, it's excellent. Were you needing it back?"
"Good, good," Moody nodded once. "Keep it son," he added before limping away from them.
"Well that was a bit-" Harry started.
"Weird? Yeah," Ron finished his sentence.
"Oh Merlin, I'm an idiot!" Neville spontaneously announced, clutching his head in hands, as though this epiphany was causing him headache.
"Neville," Hermione's voice was soft with friendly affection. "What did we say about working on your self-esteem."
"Yeah Nev, you are not an idiot," Ron agreed.
"No, I know. But this time I mean it. How did I forget?"
"Do you know what he's talking about?" Ron muttered to Harry.
"No idea mate. What did you forget?"
"I know how you get past the Second Task!" Neville declared with excitement. Everyone leaned closer at those words. "In the Herbology book Professor Moody leant me, Magical Water Plants of the Mediterranean, it talks about Gillyweed!"
"Gilly what?" Ron expressed, clearly being unable to help himself.
"Gillyweed! It's a magical plant from the Mediterranean Sea. It gives you gills so you can breathe underwater!" Neville explained with an air of fascination surrounding him.
"Brilliant! But," Harry's train of thought was derailed as he saw Daphne look at the empty table next to them, glance at their table, and drag her friend to the opposite side of the pub. Where was he? Oh yes, gillyweed. "Where are we going to find a Mediterranean plant at Hogwarts?"
"Well, I can write to Gran and see if she is able to get some for us?" Neville suggested. "But if not, then I'm willing to bet that Snape will have some in his private storeage."
"Is Neville Longbottom suggesting we steal from Snape?" Ron looked shell-shocked. Everyone knew how Snape frightened Neville.
"Well, I mean, I..." Neville bumbled awkwardly. "I'm just saying it's an option. Unless you'd rather Harry drown."
"Yeah, I really don't feel like drowning. Death seems like such an inconvenience," Harry laughed.
"Ok, so Neville why don't you write to your Gran, and we'll go from there," Hermione suggested to which Neville nodded his affirmation. "Now, why don't you boys go get drinks while I hold the table?"
"Time to fight our way to the bar," Ron joked as he began working his way through the crowd while the Harry and Neville followed in the path he made. Harry searched the pub, but it was pretty apparent that Hagrid wasn't there. He did, however, see Bagman wave at him. Harry had the sneaking suspicion that Bagman was actually trying to wave him over, but Harry ignored it. Bagman kept trying to help him for some reason. He hoped he wasn't making bets on his like he was doing at the World Cup, but that would explain why he kept trying to help him. Then again, he was probably over thinking this whole matter. The drinks must have been ready because he felt a tankard of foaming butterbeer thrust into his hand by Neville. Turning around to follow his friends to a table, he found himself face-to-face with Daphne Greengrass. She tried to maneuver around him, but it was far too crowded for that to be very useful.
"Do you mind getting out of the way Potter?" she seemed rather calm, but there was an cool bite to that sentence.
"No I don't mind at all," he replied simply. He thought back to when he confronted her about the article on Hagrid after that dreadful class and recalled the look of regret she had worn. Maybe..? Perhaps Hermione was right. Was it so unlikely that Daphne hadn't meant any ill towards Hagrid at the ball and was merely stating facts about real giants like Hermione suggested? He knew he needed to talk to her. He didn't know when another opportunity would present itself, so why not now?
"You are such an ass," she glared at him determinedly. Well, that certainly makes it more difficult for him to try and talk to her when she throws around words like ass, and directed at him no less!
"So I've heard," his words dripped with facetiousness. 'Well Harry,' he told himself, 'that is certainly the wrong words to use when trying to talk to someone civilly. Let's see how she reacts.'
Daphne merely looked at him with a puzzled expression. That was short lived, however. Doing the last thing Harry had expected, Daphne made quite a big spitball for a woman, and politely delivered it straight into his tankard of butterbeer. Did that really just...?
"...Really?" Had that really just happened? So much for a civil conversation.
"That's what you get for being an ass," she sighed knowingly before brushing past him to the bar. Harry simply blinked while Ron and Neville began howling with laughter. That did not help.
"Do you think I deserved that?" They were now sitting back at their booth in the middle of the pub. None of his friends answered, which was probably for the better as he had asked rhetorically. "Yeah, I probably deserved that."
"If you say so mate," Ron gargled between mouthfuls of butterbeer. Hermione scowled at this.
"You know, I was going to try to apolo..."
"You horrible woman!" Hermione was suddenly shrieking. And right into his ear no less. He rubbed his ear blankly as Hermione jumped out of the booth and began a row with Rita Skeeter. Harry just so happened to see Daphne tucked away in a corner with her dark haired friend. Now she wore a face of, disappointment? She wasn't doing a good job of hiding it, but maybe it was just him. All he knew was this girl made no sense to him. The next thing he was aware of was being jerked out of the pub by a fuming Hermione Granger.
Harry spent the next few weeks trying not to dread the Second Task too horribly much. Neville's Gran did come through and get him some gillyweed for the task, but there was a downside as well. Apparently, gillyweed isn't the cheapest plant ever. Due to this unexpected complication, Mrs. Longbottom was only able to get enough for one use. Another plot twist in the story that was the pre-Second Task adventures, was that Harry was unable to use any extra gillyweed for potential practice. So they took to looking up alternatives in the library just in case. During one such trip to the library, Neville casually mentioned the fresh vs. salt water debate Herbologists had about the time range of gillyweed. Naturally, this made them delve deeper into their quest for other possible ways of breathing underwater. Ron, suggested stealing some from Snape again, but that idea got shot down instantly. They agreed it would pretty obvious who stole it when Snape notices it missing from his private stores and Harry just happens to have such a rare plant for the Second Task. Seems like a pretty reckless risk in his humble opinion.
On the plus side, things, besides the looming underwater excursion, seemed to be looking up for once. After the thoroughly verbal debate Hermione had with Skeeter in the Three Broomsticks, they had set a course for Hagrid's Hut, where they weren't leaving until the saw Hagrid. Hermione had gone so far as to shout at the door, threatening the door's very existence if Hagrid had not opened up. Thankfully, for Hagrid's door at least, Professor Dumbledore had been there and had let them in. They had all managed to convince Hagrid to return. Due, no doubt, to Professor Dumbledore flat out telling Hagrid he refused to accept his resignation. Hagrid had come back to teaching classes that very Monday. Harry still grinned internally at the stunned look Malfoy had had. Hagrid had even continued the lessons on Unicorns, for which they were all secretly grateful. Everyone was looking good, all except for one thing.
Harry had been having a dilemma. He really felt that he should try to talk to Daphne about their heated argument. It seemed like a good idea and he finally admitted to himself that he maybe sort-of missed her a little bit. Then he would remember her slobbery gift she had presented to him at the Three Broomsticks and decided that maybe trying to talk to her wouldn't be such a good idea after all. Daphne seemed like one of those girls who guys really should be afraid of pissing off. He was a little late for that one, but, he decided, he supposed it could have been worse. At least she hadn't hexed him yet. He still remembers what happened to that Hufflepuff guy, Stebbins, when he made Stacey Fawcett mad after the Yule Ball. He had been in the Hospital Wing for several days. Harry shuddered just thinking about it. Harry eventually decided that he would try to talk to Daphne if the opportunity arose. Until then, he would just keep doing what he was doing.
Harry slowly awoke and had come to the conclusion that some rocks must have decided to take up residence in his throat. Reaching for the glass of water next to his bed, he hungrily begin to drink it when it clicked. Today was February 24th. Today was the day of the Second Task. This sudden news alert startled him so much he jumped slightly, spilling the rest of the water down his chest. Well, at least he was already prepping himself for the challenge ahead. Checking the time, Harry saw that he had just over an hour and a half before he had to be by the lake.
Ron and Neville flanked him as they made their way down to the Great Hall. Hermione was nowhere to be found. Strange. Walking into the Great Hall, Harry couldn't help but notice the buzz of excitement that filled the room. He saw Cedric scan the Ravenclaw table, looking for Cho no doubt. Not being able to locate her, he turned his sights to the door and met Harry's eyes. Both champions nodded to each other before going back to their own business. Taking a seat at the Gryffindor table, all three boys looked up and down for Hermione. When Harry realized that she wasn't at the table, he cast a quick look at the Slytherin table. He located Daphne's friend Tracey sitting next to Blaise Zabini, but Daphne was nowhere to be found. He noted that even her friends were glancing around the table, no doubt also curious about her absence. Well, if Daphne isn't here, who was going to tell him to make sure he didn't die?
"Champions," Dumbledore was standing behind his owl podium that stood in front of the teacher's table. Harry vaguely wondered how Dumbledore made his voice sound so powerful without yelling or the use of magic. "If you would please follow Mr. Bagman, he will escort you to where the Second Task will be held. Students, if you would kindly wait for just a few more minutes, then we will follow them and begin the Second Task."
Not realizing he had been holding his breath, in a determined, but slightly nervous fashion, Harry released the large amount of air trapped in his lungs. Many Gryffindors wished him luck as he stood and made his way to where Mr. Bagman was waiting at the entrance of the Great Hall. Being unable to find any alternatives, Harry reached into his pocket and felt the slimy, gooey gillyweed, praying that this stuff worked.
A/N: Damn! I feel like I've been gone forever. Well I'm glad to be back. How I have missed writing this story. Long story short is life. That annoying thing that likes to get in the way of things you enjoy doing. So, I'd like to apologize for my absence and for the wait on this update. I hope I didn't disappoint anyone with this chapter after such a wait.
That being said, I hope everyone enjoys this chapter. I did try to give a little insight on Harry's side of the argument, as I did with Daphne last chapter. I know people say Daphne was being childish a bit last chapter, but both she and Harry are a bit stubborn. As far as the spiting in the drink scene, yes I agree it was a bit of an overreaction, but you know, some girls just do weird things like that. (no offense to any girl reading this, guys do strange things as well) Like this stuff really happens! As a writer, I like to take small things that actually happen in my life in include them in my stories. It just adds to the enjoyment I get when writing and it makes me feel like I'm a part of the story, not just writing it. That probably sounds weird. Oh well. And yes, I've seriously had a girl spit in my beer before and you know what? It was just no bueno. If me taking real life events and putting them in the story bothers you guys then I will stop, just gotta say the word.
So yeah, hope you guys liked this chapter. I hope I can update soon, but it might take me at least a week or two since I'm writing longer chapters now. Coming up next...the Second Task!
If anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to drop a review or a PM. That would, that would just butter my parsnips, to quote one of my favorite Doctors David Tennat. Who, funnily enough, played Barty Crouch Jr in Goblet of Fire. The more you know.