In Chapter 31, the final task is upon us. Let’s go!
You know things are getting serious when Dumbledore is worried, or at least, that’s how Ron and Hermione feel. They are also very surprised that Dumbledore still trusts Snape, knowing that he had been a Death Eater. Hermione is frustrated by many things: one, that Rita Skeeter was the one who told them that Bagman had a troubled past, and two, that Fudge would dare accuse Maxime just because of her heritage.
One thing that Harry hasn’t mentioned is what he had learned about Neville’s parents. He kept his word that he wouldn’t tell, but he can’t help thinking about it.
In the meantime, they continue researching and practicing spells for Harry to use in the maze. While practicing in an empty classroom, they see Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle standing outside. Malfoy is holding his hand up to his mouth and speaking into it, “like he’s using a walkie-talkie,” according to Harry. Hermione reminds them that electronic devices don’t work around Hogwarts and gets them back on task, but it’s still weird.
The morning of the third task, Rita Skeeter strikes again. There is a new article in the Daily Prophet about how Harry is possibly “disturbed and dangerous” due to his collapsing in class and complaining about his scar hurting. There are also quotes from Draco Malfoy, explaining that Harry can speak Parseltongue, which connects Harry to the Dark Arts. Harry doesn’t seem too upset by the article, but Hermione is still trying to figure out how Rita Skeeter seems to know all this stuff when she’s been banned from the grounds completely.
An odd, dreamy expression suddenly came over Hermione’s face. She slowly raised a hand and ran her fingers through her hair.
“Are you all right?” said Ron, frowning at her.
“Yes,” said Hermione breathlessly. She ran her fingers through her hair again, and then held her hand up to her mouth, as though speaking into an invisible walkie-talkie. Harry and Ron stared at each other.
“I’ve had an idea,” Hermione said, gazing into space. “I think I know . . . because then no one would be able to see . . . even Moody . . . and she’d have been able to get onto the window ledge . . . but she’s not allowed . . . she’s definitely not allowed . . . I think we’ve got her! Just give me two seconds in the library — just to make sure!”
When Hermione gets excited about an idea, she stops making sense. It’s really funny. She runs off, leaving Harry and Ron staring after her. Professor McGonagall comes up to tell Harry that the champions are having a reception after breakfast for their families who have come to watch the final. Harry doesn’t think he’ll have anyone, as he can’t imagine the Dursleys coming to Hogwarts for anything, but instead the Weasleys come! This is why they are the best! They knew that Harry wouldn’t have any family at the final task and decided to stand in for them. I love them so much!
Also, Cedric’s dad, Amos, is there and is mean to Harry because of all the attention Harry has been getting taking away from Cedric’s place as champion. Dude, it’s not Harry’s fault! Mr. Weasley even points out that Mr. Diggory should know how horrible Rita Skeeter is, but he doesn’t seem to care.
We also find out that Percy has not been doing well due to Mr. Crouch’s disappearance. The Ministry keeps questioning him about the instructions that Mr. Crouch was supposedly sending in.
They walk around the grounds and then go back to the Great Hall for lunch, surprising Ron and Hermione. Harry notices that Mrs. Weasley is behaving a bit coldly towards Hermione.
Harry looked between them, then said, “Mrs. Weasley, you didn’t believe that rubbish Rita Skeeter wrote in Witch Weekly, did you? Because Hermione’s not my girlfriend.”
It’s funny though. I have no idea which reason was behind Mrs. Weasley’s concern: worried about Harry getting his heart broken, worried about Ginny getting hers broken (since she has a crush on Harry), or worried about Ron getting his heart broken (since he definitely has a crush on Hermione at this point, and you know Mrs. Weasley knows that). In any case, it’s time for the third task! Everyone heads down towards the Quidditch pitch and, oddly enough, Harry actually feels somewhat confident about things. He at least feels more prepared this time. The champions are told that teachers will be patrolling the outside of the maze, so they can send up sparks to call for help. This actually seems much easier than the other two tasks.
Harry and Cedric get to enter the maze first, since they are currently tied for first place. They enter together and then split apart. Harry goes for a while without seeing any obstacles, but soon runs into Cedric again, who just got away from one of Hagrid’s Blast-Ended Skrewts. Harry does see a dementor, but casts his Patronus and finds out that it’s a boggart and dispatches it quickly.
The next obstacle is a weird golden mist that reverses gravity or something. Harry feels like he’s dangling from the ground, which is suddenly above him. He is able to pull away from it and starts looking for Fleur, who he heard scream, but doesn’t see her anywhere. He does run into another Skrewt, but is able to slow it down and get away. He keeps hitting dead ends, but then hears Krum casting a Crucio on Cedric. He stuns Krum and helps Cedric up. Cedric is surprised, because he thought Krum was a good guy. Harry did too. They send up red sparks so that Krum can be picked up and then set off in different directions again.
Harry comes upon another new creature: a sphinx. It tells him that he has to solve a riddle to get past.
“First think of the person who lives in disguise,
Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.
Next, tell me what’s always last thing to mend,
The middle of middle and end of the end?
And finally give me the sound often heard
During the search for a hard-to-find word.
Now string them together, and answer me this,
Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?”
There are several creatures Harry doesn’t want to kiss. Blast-Ended Skrewts come to mind! I was worried about Harry with this one, as he’s not necessarily known for his riddle solving skills. That’s more Hermione’s forte. Harry does figure it out though – the answer was a spider. True, I wouldn’t want to kiss a spider either.
Harry can see the Triwizard Cup now. He also sees Cedric ahead of him running towards it, but Cedric is attacked by a giant spider. Maybe the spider just wants a kiss? It’s feeling a bit miffed about the riddle? Together, Harry and Cedric manage to fight it off, but Harry’s leg is badly injured in the process. He tells Cedric to take the cup since he got there first. Cedric pulls Harry up and tells him to do it, since he’s helped him so much. They argue back and forth about who should take the cup.
“Both of us,” Harry said.
“We’ll take it at the same time. It’s still a Hogwarts victory. We’ll tie for it.”
It’s a noble idea, and great for the school, but it sets in motion a tragedy that will take Harry a long time to get over. When they grab the cup, they are jerked away into a “howl of wind and swirling color.”
See you next time for Chapter 31!