|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event
|Triwizard Tournament - The Third Task
|Hogwarts - the Quidditch pitch
|Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, June 24
|Harry Potter, Cedric Diggory, Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour
The Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament is to negotiate a maze that has been grown in the Quidditch pitch at Hogwarts. At the center of the maze is the Triwizard Cup, and whoever touches the Cup first is the outright winner of the Tournament
Exactly one month before the Third Task, the four Champions are brought to the Quidditch pitch, where they receive a briefing on what the task is to be. Cedric and Harry are dismayed to discover that the pitch has been planted with hedges, but Ludo Bagman, a one-time professional Quidditch player, is quick to reassure them that it would be restored to pristine condition once the Task is finished. The Champions are informed that the object of the Task is to navigate the labyrinth, which would be seeded with various spells and creatures, and reach the Triwizard Cup, located in the center of the maze. The first Champion to touch the Cup would be the outright winner.
Immediately following this meeting, Viktor Krum asks Harry for a private conversation, to Ludo's apparent dismay; we gather that Ludo had been about to offer Harry help once again. While Harry and Krum are speaking, Mr. Crouch, apparently having some mental issues, appears out of the Forbidden Forest. While Harry runs to the school to get Professor Dumbledore to help him, Crouch disappears, leaving Krum Stunned. Karkaroff, summoned to the scene, accuses Dumbledore of interfering with his Champion, but retreats after a forceful response from Hagrid. Presumably, at this point the Ministry checks Mr. Crouch's house and finds it empty. Percy Weasley, who had been filling in for Mr. Crouch, is chastised for not being aware that his boss was in such dire shape, and is replaced as a judge for the Third Task by Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic.
The Third Task takes place "at dusk on the 24th of June." The hedges have grown to more than twice head height, and the maze is now stocked with dangerous creatures by Hagrid and the Ministry. The order in which the Champions are sent into the maze depends on their previous standings in the tournament, with the highest-scoring Champion entering first. Harry and Cedric, tied for first after the Second Task, enter the maze at the same time. Viktor Krum, with the next-highest score, enters five minutes after them, and Fleur Delacour enters last.
Creatures that Harry encountered included Blast-Ended Skrewts and giant spiders. Harry also encountered a Dementor, which turned out to be a Boggart, and an anti-gravity mist. Harry's path to the maze's center was protected by a Sphinx with a riddle to answer. The Champion, encountering the Sphinx, could choose to try and solve the riddle; if they chose not to attempt it, they could continue to proceed towards the center via an alternate route, if there was one. If they attempted the riddle, and answered wrong, they would be killed—or at least eliminated from the competition. Harry chose to answer the riddle, and answered it correctly.
While within the maze, Harry hears Fleur scream, but did not encounter her, so we do not know if she was incapacitated at that point. He also heard someone performing the Cruciatus curse; burning a hole through the hedge, he was able to get into the next pathway, where he discovered Krum jinxing Cedric. Harry Stunned Krum, and sent up red sparks to indicate that he was out of the contest, before he and Cedric went their separate ways. In the end, Harry and Cedric were both within sight of the Cup, with Cedric in the lead; Harry called his attention to a giant spider coming up behind him, and the two of them joined forces to disable it, though Harry's leg was injured in the process. Cedric then decided that the only thing to do was to let Harry take the Cup; Harry counter-offered that they should both take it at the same time, and Cedric accepted.
As the Triwizard Cup has been made into a Portkey, it carries Cedric and Harry to the graveyard in Little Hangleton, where Voldemort was waiting with Wormtail. The major consequences, then, are the death of Cedric (he was killed on the spot) and the return of Voldemort.
Ludo Bagman, despite being a Judge in the Tournament, has been taking bets on Harry's winning, in order to recover from a series of bad bets he had made with a group of goblins. His finances would have been completely resolved if Harry had won the Tournament outright. The goblins, however, held that as Harry and Cedric had both touched the Cup at the same instant, it was not an outright win for Harry but a draw. Bagman, being unable to pay his gambling debts, flees. Later negotiations with the Goblins are likely to be hindered by this; they no doubt feel that, as Bagman is a Ministry representative, the Ministry of Magic should repay Bagman's debts, and may be less willing to deal with Ministry wizards, having been so badly short-changed by a senior Ministry official.
As joint winner of the Tournament, Harry is entitled to half of the Tournament prize of a thousand Galleons; as Cedric has died, however, the entire prize has been deemed his. He doesn't feel he has any right to this, because it was his efforts to win the Tournament that resulted in Cedric's death. He tries to give the entire prize to Cedric's father, but is rebuffed. In the end, he gives it to Fred and George, for use in setting up their joke shop, with the sole condition that they use some of the money to buy Ron some proper dress robes. The products of the joke shop are likely to be of use in later books, as Fred and George are quite able and innovative wizards.
The attentive reader will wonder about two points in this Task. First, when we first see the Maze, the hedges are only knee-high. We are told that cheating is quite often a significant part of the Tournament, and it would be a very simple matter indeed for one of the Champions to visit the Quidditch stands and, with a full view of the maze, determine the correct path to the center before the hedges reach their full, and confusing, height. Yet we do not hear that any of the Champions have done this. Harry's use of the Four Point Spell would, of course, assist him, in that he would be able to retain his orientation no matter how many times he got turned around in the maze, but is quite insufficient for finding the center, as Harry would have little idea where he was relative to the center of the maze, only the direction that was North.
Secondly, one gathers that to the audience, this Task would be very dull to watch, as the four Champions would vanish into the Maze over the course of a few minutes, and then apart from screams, or occasional showers of wand sparks or flashes, nothing would happen until the victor appeared outside the Maze. One wonders also what the four Marshals are expected to be able to do, particularly as one of them, Hagrid, is believed to not have any significant magical ability. It is possible that the Maze is charmed to be somehow transparent to the watchers, so that they can see what the Champions are doing within it, but that seems unlikely, as there is no notice when the Trophy, acting as a Portkey, removes Harry and Cedric from the maze and deposits them four hundred miles away. Professor Moody, of course, is able to watch by means of his magical eye, but he has ulterior motives; we suspect he arranged to be made a Marshal, if he was not automatically put in that position because of his eye.
Looking at this Task, we feel, as Harry does at the time, that things are far too easy for him. With his use of the Four-Point-Spell, he is able to navigate the maze easily enough; the only obstacles he encounters are the anti-gravity spell, one of Hagrid's Blast-Ended Skrewts, a Boggart, the Sphinx, a giant spider, and Viktor Krum who he surprises in the act of using the Cruciatus curse on Cedric. Additionally, the Boggart, in disguise as a Dementor, is uncharacteristically clumsy; Harry realizes it is a Boggart when it trips over the hem of its own robe. This is actually a jarring moment for the attentive reader: a Boggart would never do anything to inspire laughter, which could destroy it, unless forced by the Riddikulus charm. It turns out later that Barty Crouch Jr. has been clearing obstacles away for him from outside the maze. It is possible that the Boggart's behaviour is because of Barty's intervention, but this is never confirmed. Barty does know about the Triwizard Cup being a Portkey, as it was he who created it, and is attempting to ensure that Harry reaches it first.
We should also note that Barty is also intervening to hamper or remove the other contestants. Harry seems to believe that Krum is under the Imperius curse when he is cursing Cedric, a point which is later partially confirmed by Barty's comments. We never do find out what happened to Fleur, but it is likely that Krum, under the same compulsion, disabled her as well. Barty, in the best Death Eater tradition, is trying to assure Harry's victory in the Task by eliminating his competition. Harry's disabling of Krum somewhat cripples Barty's efforts, as Cedric remains active, and this leaves Barty with no active participation inside the Maze.
The appearance and subsequent disappearance of Bartemius Crouch are mentioned in passing, but have little to do with the Third Task directly. The one effect on the Tournament of Mr. Crouch's appearance is the removal of Percy as judge. This means that the Minister of Magic is on the scene at the conclusion of the Third Task, and so is able to be present to dismiss Harry's "story" about the return of Voldemort without being summoned. As we mention in the article on the Cemetery Duel, Fudge's immediate denial of the duel and Voldemort's return, with the associated "spinning" of Cedric's death as nothing more than a tragic accident, is the set-up for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, with its whole-sale year-long denigration of both Harry and Dumbledore in an attempt to de-emphasize their story. The understanding we gain of Fudge through the resulting attempt to save his power would be diluted if we had to wait for him to be summoned to the school before we saw that response.
We should also mention what we eventually understand about Crouch's disappearance. Crouch has escaped Peter Pettigrew's use of the Imperius curse and is seeking Dumbledore. In his travels through the Forbidden Forest, Crouch is tracked by his son Barty Jr., making use of the Marauder's Map which Professor Moody has borrowed from Harry. Barty Stuns Krum and kills Bartemius, then Transfigures the body into a bone, which he buries. We believe that he may have buried the bone in the patch of earth which Hagrid had earlier disturbed for his lesson on Nifflers, but this is not confirmed. The nature of those who would follow Voldemort here is highlighted by Barty's murder of his own father, though we will accept that Barty is an unusual case; he is portrayed as being mentally unbalanced, as is Bellatrix Lestrange, another member of the group who were trying to bring Voldemort back in the days immediately after his first defeat.
Following this task, Harry is thrown into the rapid-fire completion of the story, with the return of Voldemort, the duel in the Cemetery, Barty Crouch's unmasking, and the interrogation by Dumbledore of both Barty and Harry. We will note in passing that the disclosure, by Barty, that he had been helping Harry win the Tournament was probably meant to affect Harry's self-esteem; learning that it was not through his own efforts that the Tournament had fallen to him was likely a stratagem by Barty to further weaken Harry's ability to fight back. Harry, though, already knows that the effort was not all his, but was shared with many of his friends, so this revelation has little immediate effect.
It is interesting to note how Harry refuses the Triwizard prize. He feels that this money was won through the machinations of Barty and with the loss of Cedric's life, and he does not want any part of it. The Twins, however, seem quite willing to accept it. Perhaps, not having had Harry's direct involvement in the Tournament, they do not feel there is any stigma on the money.