In Chapter 26, Harry makes it through the second task. Let’s go!
Boy, does Harry have a lot to tell Ron and Hermione! He gets his chance during Charms class, explaining how Moody seems awfully suspicious of Snape. Did Snape put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire? Why is everyone, from Moody (when he first arrived) to Crouch (in the middle of the night) searching Snape’s office? Dumbledore is known as being very forgiving and willing to give people second chances, but what is making everyone else so suspicious?
“I just want to know what Snape did with his first chance, if he’s on his second one,” said Harry grimly . . .
A valid question.
Harry sends a note to Sirius letting him know about all the strange goings on and then tries to prepare for the second task. He knows what to do, just not how to do it. He’ll have to breathe underwater and probably swim a fairly long distance. Speaking of that, when did Harry learn how to swim? I can’t imagine the Dursleys paying for swimming lessons or taking him on trips to the beach or the pool in the summer. In any case, both Ron and Hermione help Harry try to find something to help, but come up with nothing.
Sirius also sends a message back to Harry asking when their next Hogsmeade weekend is. Harry is now also worried that Sirius is back in town and could possibly get caught trying to help him.
The night before the second task, Harry is feeling awful. They still haven’t figured out what to do.
“There must be something,” Hermione muttered, moving a candle closer to her. Her eyes were so tired she was poring over the tiny print of Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes with her nose about an inch from the page. “They’d never have set a task that was undoable.”
“They have,” said Ron. “Harry, just go down to the lake tomorrow, right, stick your head in, yell at the merpeople to give back whatever they’ve nicked, and see if they chuck it out. Best you can do, mate.”
Yeah, Ron, I don’t think that will work, but it was a funny idea. I also think it’s funny how Hermione is upset that the library is failing her in this endeavor. She’s almost taking as a personal affront! Harry just wishes he had learned how to be an Animagus so he could have turned into a fish or a frog, but it’s a little late for that now. As they continue searching and searching through books, Fred and George turn up. Professor McGonagall sent them for Ron and Hermione. They are to meet up with her at her office. Harry heads back to the dorms with as many books as he can and flips through them all, still trying to find an answer, before falling asleep.
After a very bizarre dream where the mermaid in the stained glass window of the prefects bathroom had stolen his broom, Harry wakes up to find Dobby telling him that the task starts in 10 minutes. Dobby is terrified and knows that Harry hadn’t found the right book to help him, but he has to go now because the merpeople have taken “his Wheezy.”
“What’s a Wheezy?”
“Your Wheezy, sir, your Wheezy — Wheezy who is giving Dobby his sweater!”
I know this is supposed to be terrifying, because according to the golden egg’s song, whatever the merpeople took is going to turn black and never come back, but it’s so cute that Dobby refers to Ron as Harry’s “Wheezy.” Dobby’s more than cute, though — he’s a lifesaver. He hears things as he’s going around the castle and was able to find something that will help Harry through the task: gillyweed. It’s green, it’s slimy, it tastes terrible, but it will help Harry breathe underwater.
Harry runs down to the lake just in time, stuffs the gillyweed into his mouth, and heads out into the water. The gillyweed gives him gills and webbed hands and feet. As he swims through the murky water, he is attacked by a grindylow, a “small, horned water demon,” but gets rid of it easily. He also sees Moaning Myrtle, who points him in the direction of the merpeople, and soon enough, he hears their singing.
“. . . your time’s half gone, so tarry not Lest what you seek stays here to rot . . .”
That’s not creepy at all.
Harry finally arrives at a sort of merpeople village and finds four people tied up to a large statue: Ron, Hermione, Cho and a little girl who looks very similar to Fleur. The merpeople will not help him free them, so Harry finds a sharp rock to try and cut at the ropes. He gets Ron free and starts to cut the ropes off the others, but the merpeople stop him, saying that he is only allowed to free his hostage. He tries to explain that Hermione is also his friend, and he doesn’t want the others to die either, but they won’t listen. Finally Cedric arrives and rescues Cho, telling Harry that Krum and Fleur are on their way. Krum arrives a short time later, partially transformed into a shark, and rescues Hermione.
Harry waits for Fleur, but she doesn’t turn up. He goes to cut the ropes off the little girl and, when the merpeople try to stop him again, he draws his wand at them, making them scatter. As he swims back to the surface with them both, he feels the gillyweed start to wear off and makes it to the top just in time. Ron and the little girl both wake up as soon as they hit the air and Ron immediately berates Harry for taking the time to bring her.
“Fleur didn’t turn up, I couldn’t leave her,” Harry panted.
“Harry, you prat,” said Ron, “you didn’t take that song thing seriously, did you? Dumbledore wouldn’t have let any of us drown.”
Okay, Ron. First, be happy that you mean so much to Harry that you were chosen as his hostage and that Harry was willing to rescue you. Of course it makes sense that Dumbledore wouldn’t have let them drown, but it was also really super scary down there and you slept through the whole thing. It makes sense that Harry wanted to make sure everyone was safe, you prat.
Fleur is also panicking since she couldn’t get to the little girl, her sister Gabrielle, and she was afraid that Gabrielle had died down there because of it. These kids are going to be traumatized by this stupid tournament, aren’t they. She is very, very grateful to Harry and Ron for helping her. Hermione is just proud that Harry figured out a way to complete the task, although Harry doesn’t tell her about Dobby’s help.
They announce the scores for the champions, marks out of 50 possible points. Fleur used a Bubble-Head Charm, but couldn’t get past the grindylows and didn’t get her hostage, so she only gets 25 points (she is pleased, since she thought she deserved zero). Cedric was the first one back; he also used the Bubble-Head Charm and was given 47 points. Krum was the second one back, using his weird partial-shark transformation, and gets 40 points.
Now we get to Harry:
“Harry Potter used gillyweed to great effect,” Bagman continued. “He returned last, and well outside the time limit of an hour. However, the Merchieftainess informs us that Mr. Potter was first to reach the hostages, and that the delay in his return was due to his determination to return all hostages to safety, not merely his own . . .
“Most of the judges,” and here, Bagman gave Karkaroff a very nast look, “feel that this shows moral fiber and merits full marks. However . . . Mr. Potter’s score is forty-five points.”
There you have it! Harry is rewarded for his willingness to rescue everyone, as he should be. Ron teases him, but is very happy for Harry, who is now tied for second place in the tournament with Cedric. The final task isn’t until June, which gives Harry more time to recover from this ordeal, and to buy Dobby all the socks he could ever want as a thank you.
See you next time for Chapter 27!