Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Luna's Hubby

The Third Task

by Meteoricshipyards 2 reviews

Harry faces the third task, with a little help from his friends.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Humor,Romance - Characters: Harry,Luna,Neville - Published: 2007-12-17 - Updated: 2007-12-17 - 6899 words - Complete

Chapter 19
The Third Task

Harry couldn't believe it! By some miracle, he was the first back. He landed, deflated the balloon Luna was in, and watched as she was removed from the gray material by Professor Flitwick. He and Luna were given seats in the special section set aside for the returning champions near the Judge's table . Fleur flew in about fifteen minutes later, and Harry thought it was just luck that he arrived before her. They watched in the mirrors as Cedric fought with the gray material and Victor flew through the trees of the Forbidden Forest with Daphne tied to the bottom of his broom. Harry found out later that Cedric was so late because he had been driven into the forest and encountered a group of Cornish Pixies who had stolen his broom. He had lost a lot of time fighting them.

Harry watched Victor fly his broom around a tree. From the way they moved, he deduced that Victor hadn't thought about lightening Daphne. Luna didn't know what happened after Professor Flitwick brought her and Cho to the Quidditch stadium after breakfast, so Harry filled her in while watching the last two champions complete the task.

To the astonishment of the judges, (and happy excitement of Professor Flitwick who had devised it,) Cedric succeeded in extricating Cho from the balloon. They both got on the broom, Cho sitting behind Cedric and wrapping her arms around him. Then they launched over the cliff. Harry thought Cedric's flying was amazing. Going from a power dive to horizontal flight, Harry was sure that he had chosen his path carefully to avoid as many 'griffs as possible. The pair tilted in unison as they flew around one white winged creature after another. Harry counted at least four near misses. Cho, being a good flier herself, moved in unison with Cedric. Harry doubted that he could have made the same moves with Luna on his broom.

Victor reached the edge of the Forest, and sped up. People (on Harry's side of the stadium) stopped watching the magic mirrors and concentrated on the figures flying towards the pitch. Cedric beat Victor by a broom length. The crowd cheered.

After all the champions were back, the mirrors magically put themselves away and the champions were asked to wait at the starting pavilion for their scores.

After a few minutes of consultation, Bagman stood up, looked at the other judges, and touched his throat with his wand.

"Witches and wizards, friends, family, champions! Here are the scores, already tallied. For Victor Krum, being the last to arrive back at the pitch, and losing points for killing a Thestral during the contest, although one judge felt his arriving first at the mountain top deserved extra points, he gets twenty-five."

Harry noticed that Bagman had looked at Karkaroff when he spoke of getting extra points. The cheering was more than just the Durmstrang students. Harry clapped along with them, as did the other champions. Victor seemed a little confused by the sincerity expressed by the other competitors.

"Cedric Diggory received extra points for the excellent charms work used to free his kidnap victim. He was also the only contestant to encounter one of the swarms of Cornish Pixies, but that's the way it sometimes happens. He received twenty-eight points."

There was cheering from a lot of the crowd as Hogwarts congratulated its own. Victor joined the other champions in clapping for Cedric, although he wasn't very enthusiastic.

"Second to arrive was Fleur Delacour, awarded points for a nearly flawless performance. She receives thirty two points."

She received her applause with a smile and gave her sister a hug.

"And finally, Harry Lovegood arrived back first, receiving points for ingenious tactics and making sure the griffin wasn't harmed by his actions. He receives 38 points and is now in the lead."

Harry wasn't sure if his applause was louder than Cedric's, but then he didn't care. He was in this for the fun, and because he had to. If he won, that would be nice. He was a lot less worried about just surviving, now. He had to admit that his plan of riding the balloon through the guardians was pretty dangerous, but it had seemed a good idea at the time. And it had been exhilarating.

Bagman continued with the snippet of information for the last task.

"The third and final task will be held at noon on May 31. This will again be a test of magical skill, but also of leadership and teamwork. You will be given further instruction three days before the contest."

Dumbledore stepped forward then and said, with a slight scowl, "You will also be required to answer under Veritaserum if you have received any outside help or information about the upcoming contest. There was a report of possible cheating on the first contest, and this will not be tolerated. Do I make myself clear?" At that he turned to the other judges. Karkaroff scowled, Maxime put on an indignant expression, and Bagman looked anywhere but at Dumbledore. They were then dismissed.

Luna, who had been waiting until after the official end of the task, grabbed Harry in a hight hug. Once again, Selene and Larry, and, this time, Uncles Ollie, Sirius, and Remus were waiting for him. They had a family reunion and stopped in the Great Hall where snacks had been set out for an impromptu party with all the spectators and champions (except for the Durmstrang group, who went back to their ship).

The party continued in the Ravenclaw common room after the outside guests had left. As the party was winding down they asked about the next contest. He told them that he didn't know any more than what they heard from Bagman, but he wasn't going to worry about it for a few months. He got an agreement from his support group to leave him alone until the first of May. They had N.E.W.T.s to study for, anyway.

He was a bit dazed by the whole experience. He had originally been worried about just staying alive, and now he was first in the standings. People were talking about him actually winning! He smiled when he heard that and wondered if it was possible.

At the party, he kept his hand in Luna's. He felt that he could face anything as long as she was next to him, and he was feeling a bit intimidated by all the attention he was getting.

She finally asked to go to bed. She let him off without brushing her hair, and he gave a "public" kiss at the base of the steps to the girls' dorms. Harry went to bed soon after that.

- - -

Things got back to normal, or as normal as they got around a school of magic. They carved runes in wood, plaster, clay, and stone. They broke down, resolved, decoded, and rebuilt Arithmancy problems. They transformed animals, brewed potions, charmed objects, learned history, and practiced "Constant vigilance!" They played Snap, gobstones, and those who cared for it, chess. Mike Daley introduced the wizarding world to Parcheesi, Risk, and Clue. The wizards in turn introduced him to Jumanji.

Harry, Mike, Colin Creevey, Liz Erickson, and Mary Shake worked on creating a Wizarding Monopoly. Instead of the utilities they had Hogwarts and St. Mungos. Instead of Park Place and Broadwalk they had Diagon Alley and Fae Street (the wizard street in Dublin). They were having trouble coming up with other places, though. The railroads also gave them trouble, but they settled on The Apparition Department, the Floo Network, Nimbus Company, and Persians' Carpets (the biggest flying carpet maker in the Near East). It was an ongoing project.

Luna went to Charms Club and Harry and Neville and a few other students got Dueling help from Professor Flitwick. It wasn't an actual club, and he warned them if it became too popular and thus more time consuming, he'd call an end to it, so those in the unofficial club kept quiet about it.

Easter break came and the Lovegoods had a relaxing time together. Selene and Larry didn't mention anything about their little group to Harry and Luna. They did ask if it would be alright if Sirius told Hestia and Remus told his girlfriend Tonks about Harry's real identity. Harry didn't want to, but eventually allowed Hestia to know, because Sirius was marrying her. He wanted to wait on Tonks until that relationship looked like it was going to be permanent, too. Selene and Larry accepted his decision.

Also over the Easter break Harry had a couple of sessions with Sirius as he tried to complete his animagus transformation. He wasn't any more successful than over Christmas holiday.

- - -

Summer term started and soon there was just one month until final task. Harry's self imposed vacation from the Triwizard was over. He called the "Pit crew" together May 1st, and held the meeting in the unused classroom one floor down from the Ravenclaw Tower entrance. He insisted that Luna and Neville be there, too.

"What's up, Lovegood?" Ragingstorm asked.

"The third task."

"They tell you anything more about it?"

"No, just that it will test our magical skill, leadership, and teamwork."

"Leadership and teamwork? How are they going to do that?"

"I don't know. But I have some ideas," Harry answered. "Teamwork could be tested by giving us a task that required that the champions work together to complete it. But that wouldn't test our leadership. One of us would have to be in charge, but unless they forced the others to accept me, they wouldn't take me as their leader. So I'm thinking we'll still be in competition, but we'll each have to make our own teams and lead them."

"Doing what?"

"That, I can't begin to guess."

"And why is he here?" one of the seventh years asked about Neville.

"Because Neville and I trained last summer. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses already. He's going to be on my team."

"How big a team?"

Harry shook his head. "I can't guess that either."

Ragingstorm spoke slowly, thinking as she did. "It can't be smaller than a team of three; having one leader and one follower doesn't really test leadership. I would guess it isn't open ended, either. If you could field a team of two hundred wizards, even if they're students, they could take down a nundu."

"Yeah, but how many would still be alive afterwards," a seventh year boy asked.

"Not many. But it would be a test of leadership to see if the leader survived."

"Like Fudge -- leading from behind."

Harry pulled the conversation back on track. "Anyway, if I remember right, they'll tell us three days before the contest. My guess is that's so we can get our team together, and work on teamwork. With only three days, I don't think they want a large team. So my guess is no more than ten, and probably not that many."

"But what will the teams do?"

Harry smiled. "Think about it -- a competition between teams of witches and wizards?" He looked around.

Neville was the one who came up with the answer first.


With seven seventh year Ravenclaws, Luna, and Neville, Harry and the group worked out signals, formations that used some people to attack and others to defend, transformation in combat (a topic not talked about much in Defense, and definitely not practiced), first aid, and spell lists. They deduced from Krum's loss of points for harming the dragon eggs and the thestral, that spells that hurt the other teams would be frowned upon and cause point loss. They also worked on plays for fewer than ten people -- as few as three. Everyone had to practice the new formations, they could (and probably would) end up with fewer people during the task, and they couldn't guarantee who the remaining players would be. The schedules of the students affected the practices, as the seventh years (and fourth and third years a few days) had to break off for school work. But they progressed.

As the days counted down towards the contest several incidents happened. The Quidditch stadium was hidden behind a magical darkness. No one could see what was going on inside.

Harry reminded the team of the fake "ruins" they saw inside the pitch during the second task. There might be an obstacle course aspect to the fight. They knew from their research that obstacle courses were popular for the third task. Their variety was almost frightening.

The other thing that happened was they noticed that the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students also seemed to have worked out that they needed to practice teamwork. Harry smiled to himself when he saw that. He had kept his exercises in the large dungeon room in which he had played Dodge Spell until one week before the announcement of the details of the contest. It was deliberate on their part. They needed outside practice, but wanted to wait until the last minute. They had also worked out a set of signals for communicating between groups over a distance, and needed to make sure they were visible in the afternoon sun.

But they also wanted to see if they could observe the other teams practicing. And they could, from the astronomy tower using some sets of Omnioculars. They met each night in the classroom beneath the Ravenclaw tower.

"What have we learned?"

One of the fifth years that had been drafted to do spying stood up and brought out his notes.

"Durmstrang continued their practice with three teams. It seemed each of the teams had four people. Lots of stunners and shielding spells."

Harry nodded. Since they had started practicing, the Durmstrang group had used teams of four. That could be because they brought a dozen people and teams of four worked out well, or it could be inside knowledge.

"Meanwhile the Beauxbatons started with a group of eight, but switched to two groups of six. They also were rotating people into Fleur's team. It tells me that they, like us, are not sure how many people are going to be on the team.

"Finally, a new development: Cedric and a group of twelve people went to the other side of the Quidditch stadium where we couldn't see them."

"YES!" Harry exclaimed.

"What?" Ragingstorm asked.

"I was afraid Cedric wouldn't get the hint."

"You mean you wanted him to guess what we're doing?"

"Yes. He is the real Hogwarts champion. I wouldn't mind if he won. I'm going to try my hardest, but if Cedric wins, I'm going to be happy.

"But he raises a good question -- Beauxbatons and Durmstrang each brought a dozen students. What if we were wrong, and the teams will be a dozen? Do we have time to get anyone else up to speed?"

"Kieth and Dorothy?" someone suggested.

Ragingstorm nodded. "Why don't you go get them? We can fill them in on the signals and strategies tonight, and start them practicing on spell accuracy and review our spell list tomorrow."

Harry agreed, and they spent the rest of the evening working with the new people.

As Neville was leaving, he said, "You know, Harry, I could have let slip what we were doing while in earshot of Cedric."

"I know, but this way he can say that no one told him. I am a little worried about our Veritaserum questioning."

"You didn't cheat, did you?"


"Then don't worry about it."

But Harry did worry about it. He sent off a note to Larry and Selene about his worry. They sent back a note saying they would be at the questioning and he shouldn't worry.

The last few days before the meeting, they worked with a team of 12, officially. At other times, away from the rest of the Ravenclaws, he worked with Neville and Luna, practicing speed casting, shielding, and accuracy. They basically practiced the training they received from Mad Eye Moody the previous summer.

Friday, May 29, Harry was instructed to be in the Great Hall for dinner. Selene and Larry had shown up and ate with Luna and Harry at the Ravenclaw table. After dinner they went with Harry, the other three champions, the four judges, Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape into the private dining room where they had assembled after the Goblet of Fire had chosen them.

Bagman began, "Well, here we are, to find out what you're going to be facing on Monday. You'll have the weekend to prepare, so good luck to you all. The final task will be you and a team of your choosing, up to four people in a team, in a race to be the first one to reach the prize. It will be like a game of 'capture the flag,' if you've ever played that Muggle game. Points will be taken for harming the other players, but incapacitating them is perfectly fine."

Dumbledore looked at the other judges briefly, and continued, "You all know the rules of the tournament. You were not to receive any information from your instructors on the details of the tasks. You will be given Veritaserum to confirm compliance. You will only be asked about the third task, as you were given fair warning that this would happen. Mr. Lovegood, being under age, will have his guardians supervise the administration, and have been provided with a set of the questions that will be asked. We will begin with him.

"Professor Snape, if you please."

"I have spent the last month brewing this: Veritaserum, the truth potion. It is as pure as alchemetical science can make it. You will each receive three drops."

Harry sat in a chair, opened his mouth, and received three drops of the elixir. It didn't taste bad. Why don't other potions have that taste, he wondered, as he felt a warmth of good feelings flow through him. He resisted. Then he heard a voice like it was far away, and he felt that he should answer the question and he'll feel even better. This felt like the time he was put under the Imperius curse.

Dumbledore asked, "Did anyone give you any knowledge of third task?"

Harry felt like he wanted to give a speech, but kept his answer short, and factual. "Yes, Mr. Bagman."

Bagman's eyes opened wide and he started sputtering denials.

Dumbledore turned to the Lovegoods, "I'd like to ask him about that, please?" They consented.

"When did he give you this information, Mr. Lovegood?"

"At the end of the second task. He announced it to everyone."

"Nothing wrong with what I did!" Badman said, relieved.

"Did anyone since then give you any help on the third task?"

"Yes, lots of people."


"Most of the students in Ravenclaw N.E.W.T.s classes."

Karkaroff blurted out, "Does everybody in this whole school know?"

Harry answered, "I assume only the teachers know, and probably not all of them."

"He is resisting the potion, Headmaster," Snape said.

"He's lying!" Karkaroff insisted.

"No," the potion master replied. "Everything he says is true. He's just not talking as much as most people would under Veritaserum."

Selene spoke up. "If I may be allowed to try?"

Dumbledore nodded.

"Harry, did anyone with knowledge of the third task give you information about it besides Mr. Bagman when he announced it?"

"Not that I know."

Karkaroff interrupted again, "Then how did you know to practice with a team?"

Madam Maxime nodded, "That I would like to know, too."

"I thought about it. It was the only thing that made sense."

Selene glared at the others; then asked, "So, no one gave you inside information on the third task?"


Selene looked at the judges, and asked, "Any further questions?"

Harry answered, "Yes. Why did Krum only train with groups of four?"

"I wasn't asking you," Selene said.

They had no more questions for Harry, and they moved on to Cedric, Fleur, and Victor. It seemed that after they saw Harry's group practicing outside, the others figured out what he might be doing. Victor had been forced to sit down and work it out by Karkaroff, but they couldn't get him to say that Karkaroff actually told him anything. It's just that Karkaroff wouldn't let him do anything until he came up with the right answer. The other judges decided that the Durmstrang team would be penalized a point for the inappropriate help. Karkaroff was angry, but couldn't do anything about it. The meeting broke up soon after that.

Harry, Selene, and Larry re-entered the Great Hall to find the tables re-configured for the nightly study hall. The Ravenclaws were there making this the first time the seventh year table had been used. Harry quickly informed them that the team would be 4 people, and there would be try outs for the two open slots the next morning. He insisted that Luna was going to be on his team. He could see the resentment in a number of the student's faces, but they weren't going to say anything with Selene and Larry right beside him. He did introduce his guardians to his "pit crew" and told them what help each had given in the previous tasks. His appreciation of what they had already done helped to alleviate some of the anger.

Selene and Larry sat with the third years for a little while, reminiscing about their time at Hogwarts (and how things seemed to have changed -- like the inter-house study group). They visited for a little while, until Selene picked up the students (at least the Ravenclaw students) desire to get back to homework. They said their goodbyes and promised to be at the final task on Monday. They also promised a surprise after the task.

- - -


"Yes, my lord!"

"Is everything prepared?"

"Yes, my lord. The potion will be complete by Monday. Our hireling will signal when he is ready to have the trophy enchanted. By the end of Monday you will have a body."

"I do not like the fact that it is Walpurgis. That is too light for me to be completely comfortable."

Pettigrew kept his mouth closed, and looked away from the distorted creature that housed his master's spirit.

Voldemort sensed his disagreement. "You think that the day doesn't matter? Yet why do we do rituals on All Hallows Eve and the winter solstice? Some days are better for magic than others. I will overcome the day. Nothing will stand in my way."

- - -

Harry wiped his brow. The day wasn't particularly warm, but he was worn out from both the activities and the feeling of responsibility. He and Luna had set up a series of tests to choose the other two members of the team. There was a simple ward (that Harry had to keep replacing) that the candidates had to get past. Then there was a spell shooting gallery, with points for both accuracy and speed, and a short interview with Harry that usually included a demonstration of spells. There was also a dodging contest, with Neville casting spells, and a test of the contestants shield. When it was Neville's turn, Harry was the one casting spells at him.

Ragingstorm had the quickest time getting through the ward. She also was the most accurate with her spells, but not the fastest at casting them. Harry weighted accuracy a bit more than speed, his reasoning being that getting one spell off that hits it's target is better than two that don't. She was also good at dodging.

Second place was surprising. Harry insisted that Neville try out, since he had been practicing with the group since Harry recruited them. He was very fast and accurate enough, so that his score came in second. Shields were powered by the magical strength of the caster, and Neville showed that he was a powerful wizard. Harry also was happy that he didn't have an all Ravenclaw team.

- - -

The four practiced shielding themselves and each other. They came up with a default plan of attack, so they wouldn't target the same person if they got into a spell fight with another team. They made sure they knew their hand and wand signals so they could communicate without telling the other teams what their plans were should they get separated.

Ragingstorm kept complaining about missing a whole weekend of N.E.W.T. study, but every time Harry offered to replace her, she declined.

- - -

Sunday afternoon found Larry and Selene, in the Ministry of Magic talking to Amelia Bones, Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

"This is it," Larry said. "From what Crouch, Jr. said, this was a Voldemort plot, and tomorrow is the last chance to do whatever he wanted to do. Any possibility that he's using our attention on the contest to keep us busy and attack somewhere else?"

Amelia shook her head. "Of course, anything is possible, but Crouch said that the plot was to kidnap Neville. Harry's in there instead, and from what I learned from the headmaster, Neville will be in Harry's team. They should be visible to everyone for the whole task. I can't see how they could do it. But just in case, I'll have several Aurors stationed around the field for the sole purpose of watching Harry and Neville."

"Are you going to be there tomorrow?"

"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for the world!"

- - -

He finished packing the office. Now he had only his personal items from his bedroom left. He'd finish that in the morning. It was like 1935 all over again -- he was running for his life. Well, not exactly the same. Then he had been running from the thing that guarded the Grail. This time there was very little chance of someone finding out what he had done. But "very little chance" could still mean some chance, and if that chance happened, he would have his trunk in his pocket, ready to go. If no one figured out that he had done it -- then he'd be teaching class again tomorrow as usual.

Giles Tumulty mused that with the money Voldemort's servant had given him, he was set for several years. But money had many uses. There was a supposedly magic stone that he might be able to acquire in Africa: The End of Desire, once embedded in the crown of Suleiman ben Daood. He'd have to see if his contacts were still in place. . . .

- - - -

Monday morning found Harry pacing the Ravenclaw common room. Luna and Liz Ragingstorm calmly studied.

"Harry, go flying or something. All this worrying isn't helping."

"I can't. They won't let me. They think I'll fly through the black screen around the Quidditch pitch and see the obstacle course."

"Then go for a walk to the lake. Just stop pacing. It's annoying," Luna answered, without looking up.

"Alright! I'll see you in the Great Hall at eleven."


Luna's voice took on a dreamy sound as her eyes lost focus. "Don't forget to bring Sirius' knife."

Harry looked at her for a moment, and headed up the stairs. A clarification of the rules had said that they could only use their wands. But Harry had learned that when Luna sounded like that, she was right. He put the knife in his boot, and hoped that the judges didn't find it.

- - -

The team did meet in the Great Hall at eleven. Neville, Liz, Luna, and Harry, and an Auror that Harry had found was following him once he left the Ravenclaw tower, had a quick meal, and were escorted to the Quidditch pitch. When Harry had been outside, the black, privacy magic surrounding it had still been in place. Now the stands were visible, and Professor Flitwick led his team to the north end of the stadium and in through a door. Flitwick kept apologizing that he couldn't give them any help, but wished them well in the task. They entered the pitch.

The interior had been expanded. It was now almost a half kilometer long. The ruins they had seen before were now spread across it. The whole thing depressed like a bowl with the center the lowest point -- he assumed that was to give the spectators easy viewing of the proceedings. There was a river -- or, perhaps more accurately, a moat -- running all the way around the field less than half way down. There were two bridges across it, on the east side and on the west side. It looked as if the pitch wasn't as wide as it was long, maybe 400 meters. Fleur Delacour's team and an adult that he didn't recognize were just on the inside of the tunnel under the stands that Harry's team came through. Harry smiled and walked over to her.

"Good luck on the third task, Fleur."

"An' you, 'Arry."

They shook hands, and he returned to his group. They watched the stands filling up.

They were led away from the other group to the north-east corner. The Beauxbatons group was led to the north-west corner. They would not be in direct competition for crossing the bridge. He could see the group at the south-east corner wasn't Cedric's Hufflepuff's so he assumed it was Durmstrang. They were too far away to get a good look, though. Flitwick was handing out chains and pendants.

"You have to wear these. If you get seriously injured they will automatically portkey you to the healers. It won't work for any other reason, but you are forbidden from taking it off. You will lose points if you hex to maim any of your human opponents. Should you desire to be rescued from anything, just shoot sparks from your wand into the air. I believe there will be a final announcement in a few minutes. Good luck, Mr. Lovegood and all of you. I'd say make Ravenclaw proud, but with Mr. Longbottom here, I'll say make Hogwarts proud!"

"Thank you professor. We will," Harry answered, and shook the little man's hand. He turned to the others.

"The bridge will be a bottleneck. Anyone interested in bypassing it?"

"How?" Neville wanted to know.

"Levitation? Two people levitate the other two. Then we return the favor."

"I don't know. The moat looks about ten meters wide. Can someone on the other side levitate the ones who are left?"

"I think I can," Harry answered.

"Then you go over first. Who else?"

"Who else thinks they can get a levitate at that distance?"

"Maybe," Neville said.

"OK, Neville and I first, then we get you two."

Meanwhile someone was flying over the field on a broom. He must have cast a Sonorus charm because soon everyone in the stadium could hear him.

"Witches and wizards, students, guests, and champions! Welcome to the final task of the renewed Triwizard Tournament! The goal is to be the first to get the winners cup, which is placed in the middle of the field. The obstacles include traps, creatures, and your fellow competitors. Part of the score will be the students' knowledge of what they are facing -- any rare creatures must be subdued with the minimum of harm to them. Extremely dangerous spells cast on the other contestants will also cause loss of points. At the sound of the canon, the contest will begin! Good luck, and may the best team win!"

The canon sounded, and Harry's group raced towards the moat. It may have been only ten meters wide, but the ground around it was very swampy, and they couldn't get all the way to the moat because of that. Once their feet were in the muck, Liz pointed her wand at Harry and cast "Leviosa!" Harry started floating over the swamp, but as he neared the water the spell gave way, and he fell into the swamp.


"It's not my fault! There must be some anti magic field around it! They want us to use the bridge!"

"It's all over the swamp," Luna said.

"You could have warned me," Harry grumbled, drying off. "We can't go to the bridge, now. We lost too much time! Krum will have someone there to hold us back." Harry slogged back to the others. He cast a spell at a water weed and it grew to a ten meter column. He cast again, and a platform was on top. Once more, and he transfigured a stick into a ladder to the top.

"Come on!"

"What are you doing?" Luna called, climbing behind him.

He reached the top, and transfigured the platform to have a railing on two sides. Getting up, he yelled to Liz, "We need a rope. A long one. Can you conjure us one?"

"Sure," she said, reaching the top, followed by Neville who was bringing up the rear.

She quickly created a coil of rope. Harry had Luna tie one end to the railing. He took the other and waved his wand, transfiguring the end into a very large stone. Checking to see that Luna was done, he banished the stone towards the other side of the moat. Liz conjured some rings around the rope, grabbed one, and slid down the rope. The rock started sliding towards the water with her weight on it, but she made it across. She magicked the rock away from the water, enlarged it, and signaled the others. Luna, Neville, and finally Harry slid across.

Elsewhere, Cedric and his group were holding off Fleur's team while trying to drive away the giant squid that was keeping people off the bridge. On the other side of the field Victor's people were casting spells at the troll that climbed up from under the bridge as they got on it. The direct spells weren't having much luck against its thick hide, but they had started banishing rocks against it to drive it back. After Victor's loss of points on the last task, they were being careful to do as little harm as possible to the creatures they encountered. They didn't know they were giving Harry's team the time it needed to get over the moat.

Harry, meanwhile, was picking himself off the ground.

He said, "Quick vote -- stay together? Or send some people off to slow Krum down? Never mind," looking at the bridge, "they're crossing. To the trophy!"

He ran ahead, aiming between two "ruins" but an Acromantula suddenly appeared ahead of them.

"They're not protected or anything!" Neville called, firing several stunners at it. The rest of the group joined in and the thing collapsed. They moved around it still heading downhill, though there seemed to be a tall hedge in front of them. Liz yelled, and Harry spun to see her thrown forward. She hit her head and Harry saw blood a moment before she was portkeyed away. A red spell, probably a stunning spell, almost hit Luna but she dodged. The air was filled with spells as Harry's slightly smaller group tried to get cover and fight the Durmstrang group, which was hiding in the ruins they had just run through. They transfigured some stones into stone walls, and the two sides were at a stalemate. They kept trying to catch the other team, but the spells were too slow -- they couldn't fire until they saw where their opponent was appearing, but by the time the spell reached them, they could be under cover again. They kept exchanging stunners, but the lack of cover around Harry's group (except for what they conjured up) meant that Victor's people couldn't sneak out easily to flank attack. After what seemed a long time, but was probably less than a minute of taking pot shots at each other, Luna came up with a plan.

Harry shouted "Now!" and all three of them came out from behind the walls to cast a spell. They dived behind the walls as their opponents cast their spells in return.

But Harry hadn't cast at the Durmstrang group. They had cast the spell to awaken someone after being stunned and they cast it on the giant spider that they had just defeated. Suddenly the Durmstrang team had something besides Harry to worry about. Seizing the opportunity they created, Harry's group raced towards the hedge.

As they reached it they stopped, because the hedge was moving.

"I don't believe it!" Neville said. "These are African Stranglers! They're really rare. And dangerous -- don't let them bite you, they're poisonous, and if they grab you that's the first thing they'll do."

Harry looked behind -- the Durmstrang team wasn't chasing them, but they needed to get past the hedge.

"This way," he said, leading them mostly north, which put more distance between them and Victor's group.

They soon reached the end of the Stranglers, but that just meant they had reached another problem. A nightmare creature scuttled beyond the hedge. A full grown (at least Harry hoped it didn't grow any larger) Blast-Ended Skrewt faced them. Three meters long with its long sting curled over its back. Light from the sun shone off its thick armor giving it an iridescent sheen. It was almost beautiful, but the thick armor deflected their stunning spells. It let lose with a spray of fire from somewhere around its head and Harry threw up a fire shield. The burning wall absorbed the fire from the Skrewt. It then blasted forward, flying right through the shield, but because it couldn't see Harry beyond it, it went right by him. That just put it right in front of Neville. The Skrewt stabbed at the surprised Hufflepuff who tried to dodge. The stinger, much thinner than a manticore's, struck his arm, as Luna tried to hex it. Again, the spell reflected off the carapace, and Neville fell to the ground. The thing moved over him, as Harry tried a cutting curse aimed at the tail -- if it was a manticore that would work.

But it didn't matter. The creature stopped and Harry saw Neville spin away as the portkey activated.

"He hit it with a spell right on it's underbelly," Luna said, running up to Harry.

"Alright, it's just us now. Let's go get a trophy for our fallen companions."

"Yes, sir!" Luna said, saluting. They could see their goal ahead of them.

"Harry," Luna said, running after him.


"We have two problems."

He could see two other groups heading for the goal, too.

"Only two? Good."

"There's a ward between us and the trophy."

"Oh," he slowed down to let her catch up. "And the other problem?"

"The Skrewt is after us again."

He looked behind her, and it was indeed moving towards them on its multi-jointed legs.

"Just wonderful. A stunner on it's belly only puts it out for a few minutes," he said, as the Skrewt blasted forward with an explosion of fire from its tail end.

"Get working on the ward, and I'll take care of Hagrid's pet."

She nodded and raced ahead. Harry ran towards the chitinous monstrosity and it adjusted its direction to intercept him. He threw up a small wall between him and the Skrewt, and hoped his plan worked. The wall wasn't much of a wall, but it forced the Skrewt to climb over it, which gave Harry a shot at its unprotected underside. After he got his spell off, he ran in the other direction. As he heard the Skrewt blast, he threw himself to the ground. The Skrewt, reaching speeds no Skrewt had ever achieved before, flew over Harry, the table with the trophy on it, a wall that appeared to be the equivalent of the Strangler hedge on other side, and was still going as Harry lost sight of it.

"What did you do?" Luna asked, not even looking away from where she was working on the ward.

"I cast a feather light charm on it. When it let loose with its blast, it hardly weighted anything. Probably blasted itself right out of the stadium."

Harry joined her at the invisible ward. He had no sooner added some power to hers than Luna grabbed him and pulled him through. Harry saw someone on the other side running towards the table. Harry sprinted at it, too. A stunner barely missed the other contestant, and Harry hoped that no one was targeting him, because he was running all out to make up for the fact that he was getting a slightly later start than the other person. The tall, ginger haired person stumbled, but kept moving, and Harry recognized him as Cedric. Cedric regained his balance, and caught Harry's eyes. He smiled, and put on a burst of speed. Harry tried to increase his speed, and as he got to the table, he leaped at the trophy and grabbed it as Cedric did the same.

He felt a pull behind his navel and saw the shocked look in Cedric's face as they both were pulled away by an active portkey. For a brief moment, Harry thought they were being taken to the judges. But when the twisting stopped, there was no one around.
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