Creatures Games Herbology

The Second Task

- Chapter 26

"Harry Potter has to go into the lake and find his Wheezy - "
-- Dobby

GF26: The Second Task

Harry, Ron and Hermione discuss the situation in Charms class, they search for spells to help with the second task, and Hagrid returns to Care of Magical Creatures. Harry continues his studying all through the night before the second task, to be awakened by Dobby (who gives him gillyweed for breathing underwater). Harry performs the second task: to recover from the merpeople what was taken from each Champion. Harry rescues Ron and Fleur’s sister, tying with Cedric on points.

Calendar and Dates

This chapter begins the morning after Harry's visit to the prefects' bathroom, and ends just after the second task on the 24th of February.

Interesting facts and notes

This chapter echoes the pattern of the first task: frantic preparation at the last minute, and the unexpected attendance of one of the three elder Weasley brothers.

"You said you'd already worked out that egg clue!" said Hermione indignantly.

From the tone of Hermione's remark, it is clear that Harry has just told her and Ron what he learned from the golden egg. This suggests that the conversation is taking place at Harry's first opportunity to talk with his friends in private that day, which in turn strongly suggests that Charms class takes place before lunch, at least on this particular day of the week.

He, Ron, and Hermione were sitting at the very back of the Charms class with a table to themselves.

Since this conversation is taking place on a Friday (see below), this tells us that Harry's fourth-year Charms class meets on Fridays.

Neville's aim was so poor that he kept accidentally sending much heavier things flying across the room - Professor Flitwick, for instance.

Neville's aim is not necessarily due to poor hand/eye coordination. Harry and Ron similarly display bad aim at various points during the lesson, and they have good hand/eye coordination (or they'd never be able to play Quidditch properly). Neville's difficulties, like those of Harry and Ron, may be due to difficulty in concentrating properly.

Neville's difficulties with the Banishing Charm are interesting, because instead of (for instance) having no effect, we are told that his problem is that he is accidentally moving much heavier objects than what he is supposed to be aiming at. This may be an indication that Neville has strong magical ability that just isn't being properly controlled. Professor Flitwick went whizzing resignedly past them, landing on top of a large cabinet.

Apart from telling us that the furnishings of the Charms classroom include a large cabinet as well as the tables at which the students are working, this shows us how patient Flitwick is with his students.

Harry had been recounting his adventures of the previous night in whispered installments for the last half hour.

Consequently, this scene is taking place on the day after Harry's visit to the prefects' bathroom. Since that was on a Thursday, this scene is on a Friday. Furthermore, the length of Harry's explanation suggests that Charms class on Fridays is at least an hour long.

"If only we'd done human Transfiguration already! But I don't think we start that until sixth year, and it can go badly wrong if you don't know what you're doing..."

This tells us a little about the expected sixth-year Transfiguration curriculum. Hermione's remarks on the danger of such Transfiguration expand upon what we have already been told about one of the reasons the Ministry keeps tabs on people who can perform an Animagus Transfiguration.

Whether Hagrid was trying to make up for the Blast-Ended Skrewts, or because there were now only two skrewts left, or be­cause he was trying to prove he could do anything that Professor Grubbly-Plank could, Harry didnt know...

Perhaps all three? Poor Hagrid, worrying so much about what his students think of him.

...two unicorn foals. Unlike full-grown unicorns, they were pure gold. Parvati and Lavender went into transports of delight at the sight of them, and even Pansy Parkinson had to work hard to conceal how much she liked them.

So Pansy isn't all bad.

"Easier ter spot than the adults," Hagrid told the class. "They turn silver when they're abou' two years old, an' they grow horns at aroun' four."

We don't know whether unicorns are velveted when first grown, or if their horns periodically shed and regrow like those of deer.

"Don' go pure white 'til they're full-grown, round about seven. They're a bit more trustin' when they're babies...don' mind boys so much...c'mon, move in a bit, yeh can pat 'em if yeh want...give 'em a few o'these sugar lumps..."

So unicorns take a couple of years longer to reach maturity than horses do, but like horses they enjoy the occasional lump of sugar.

He looked up at Hagrid - per­haps he had to go into the lake sometimes, to deal with the crea­tures in it? He looked after everything else on the grounds, after all-

Interesting idea! Who does interact with the lake residents? We haven't had much mention of or dealings with the lake thus far, except for first-year crossings.

'Take two pints of water, half a pound of shredded mandrake leaves and a newt...'

This tells us that newts are Potion ingredients.

"There's a way of doing it!" Hermione said crossly. "There just has to be!"

She seemed to be taking the library's lack of useful information on the subject as a personal insult; it had never failed her before.

In fact, the library was instrumental in helping solve the riddle of the Chamber of Secrets' occupant two years ago.

"It takes years to become an Animagus, and then you have to register yourself and everything," said Hermione vaguely, now squinting down the index of Weird Wizarding Dilemmas and Their Solutions. "Professor McGonagall told us,'ve got to register yourself with the Improper Use of Magic Office...what animal you become, and your markings, so you can't abuse it..."

This is one of the earliest indications that the Improper Use of Magic Office has a function other than monitoring under-age magic; they maintain the Animagus registry.

...snapping Weird Wizarding Dilemmas shut. "Who on earth wants to make their nose hair grow into ringlets?"

This tells us a little about the contents of the book, although not why that particular situation is either a weird wizarding dilemma nor what its solution is.

By eight o'clock, Madam Pince had extinguished all the lamps and came to chivvy Harry out of the library.

So the Hogwarts library closes at eight o'clock in the evening, and apparently teachers do not commonly grant notes of permission to stay late (or Harry - and certainly Hermione - would have asked before now).

Wand tip alight, he crept along the bookshelves, pulling down more books -

We know that none of the spellbooks in this chapter appears to mention the Bubble-Head Charm - at least, not in any context that suggests using it underwater.

...books of hexes and charms, books on merpeople and water monsters, books on famous witches and wizards, on magical inventions, on anything at all that might include one passing reference to underwater survival.

Interesting. The discoverer of gillyweed is on a famous wizard card, so Harry just had bad luck in not finding out about gillyweed this way.

Percy Weasley was sitting at the judges' table - Mr. Crouch had failed to turn up again.

How mysterious!

Four people were bound tightly to the tail of the stone merperson.... appeared to be in a very deep sleep. Their heads were lolling onto their shoulders, and fine streams of bubbles kept issuing from their mouths.

Harry turned and saw something monstrous cutting through the water toward them: a human body in swimming trunks with the head of a shark. ... It was Krum. He appeared to have transfigured himself- but badly.

As mentioned earlier by Hermione, human transfiguration is learned in sixth-year. What spell(s) could one use for such a purpose?

Their yellowish eyes were fixed upon Harry's wand, and they looked scared. There might be a lot more of them than there were of him, but Harry could tell, by the looks on their faces, that they knew no more magic than the giant squid did.

Is it because they don't practice magic? (a definitive answer to which we would love to receive) Or because they are afraid of (to them) this stranger and how unpredictable he seems to be?

Merpeople were rising with him. He could see them swirling around him with ease, watching him struggle through the wa­ter. .. . Would they pull him back down to the depths when the time was up? Did they perhaps eat humans?

The answers to both of which we are unfortunately not given.

"It was only to make sure you got back inside the time limit!" said Ron. "I hope you didn't waste time down there acting the hero!"

Surely you know your friend well enough by now to know the answer to that, Ron.

Triwizard Tournament "hostages" tied to merpeople statue.

Percy, who looked very white and somehow much younger than usual, came splashing out to meet them....Percy seized Ron and was dragging him back to the bank ("Gerroff, Percy, I'm all right!")

A rare touching moment of brotherly concern from Percy.

she turned to Harry. "You saved 'er," she said breathlessly. "Even though she was not your 'ostage...." Fleur bent down, kissed Harry twice on each cheek...then said to Ron, "And you too-you 'elped -"
"Yeah," said Ron, looking extremely hopeful, "yeah, a bit -"
Fleur swooped down on him too and kissed him. Hermione looked simply furious.

All Ron's dreams come true.

Exceptional character moments

Harry, for whom Ron is the thing he'd miss the most. (At least in the opinion of the Triwizard judges.)

Memorable lines

"I don't care what Moody says," Hermione went on. "Dumble­dore's not stupid. He was right to trust Hagrid and Professor Lupin, even though loads of people wouldn't have given them jobs, so why shouldn't he be right about Snape, even if Snape is a bit -"

"- evil," said Ron promptly.

"I know now yeh can do anythin' yeh set yer mind ter. I'm not worried at all."--Hagrid to Harry

Ron merely expelled a great spout of water, blinked in the bright light, turned to Harry, and said, "Wet, this, isn't it?" Then he spotted Fleur's sister. "What did you bring her for?"

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced

GF 26 — The Second Task
Abbreviation GF26: The Second Task
Canonicity Primary Canon


Note that references to the Triwizard tasks are not capitalized in the UK editions, although they are capitalized in the US editions. Except where we refer to the chapter titles themselves, we are following the UK convention of not capitalizing "first task," "second task", and "third task".

Related Images:

    Triwizard Tournament "hostages" tied to merpeople statue.

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The Harry Potter Canon