Book 4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

To Peter Rowling.
In Memory of Mr. Ridley.
And to Susan Sladden.
Who Helped Harry
Out of His Cupboard.
CONTENTS :
ONE
The Riddle House
TWO
The Scar
THREE
The Invitation
FOUR
Back to the Burrow
FIVE
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
SIX
The Portkey
SEVEN
Bagman and Crouch
EIGHT
The Quidditch World Cup
NINE
The Dark Mark
TEN
Mayhem at the Ministry
ELEVEN
Aboard the Hogwarts Express
TWELVE
The Triwizard Tournament
THIRTEEN
Mad-Eye Moody
FOURTEEN
The Unforgivable Curses
FIFTEEN
Beauxbatons and Durmstrang
SIXTEEN
The Goblet of Fire
SEVENTEEN
The Four Champions
EIGHTEEN
The Weighing of the Wands
NINTEEN
The Hungarian Horntail
TWENTY
The First Task
TWENTY-ONE
The House-Elf Liberation Front
TWENTY-TWO
The Unexpected Task
TWENTY-THREE
The Yule Ball
TWENTY-FOUR
Rita Skeeter’s Scoop
TWENTY-FIVE
The Egg and the Eye
TWENTY-SIX
The Second Task
TWENTY-SEVEN
Padfoot Returns
TWENTY-EIGHT
The Madness of Mr. Crouch
TWENTY-NINE
The Dream
THIRTY
The Pensive
THIRTY-ONE
The Third Task
THIRTY-TWO
Flesh, Blood, and Bone
THIRTY-THREE
The Death Eaters
THIRTY-FOUR
Priori Incantatem
THIRTY-FIVE
Veritaserum
THIRTY-SIX
The Parting of the Ways
THIRTY-SEVEN
The Beginning
– THE RIDDLE HOUSE
The villagers of Lit t le Hangleton st ill called it “the Riddle House,” even though
it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there. It stood on a hill
overlooking the village, some of its windows boarded, t iles missing f rom its roof, and
ivy spreading unchecked over its face. Once a fine-looking manor, and easily the
largest and grandest building for miles around, the Riddle House was now damp,
derelict, and unoccupied.
The Lit t le Hangletons all agreed that the old house was “creepy.” Half a
century ago, something st range and horrible had happened there, something that the
older inhabitants of the village still liked to discuss when topics for gossip were scarce.
The story had been picked over so many t imes, and had been embroidered in so many
places, that nobody was quite sure what the t ruth was anymore. Every version of the
tale, however, started in the same place: Fifty years before, at daybreak on a fine
summer’s morning when the Riddle House had st ill been well kept and impressive, a
maid had entered the drawing room to find all three Riddles dead.
The maid had run screaming down the hill into the village and roused as many
people as she could.
“Lying there with their eyes wide open! Cold as ice! St ill in their dinner
things!”
The police were summoned, and the whole of Lit t le Hangleton had seethed
with shocked curiosity and ill-disguised excitement . Nobody wasted their breath
pretending to feel very sad about the Riddles, for they had been most unpopular.
Elderly Mr. and Mrs. Riddle had been rich, snobbish, and rude, and their grown-up son,
Tom, had been, if anything, worse. All the villagers cared about was the ident ity of
their murderer — for plainly, three apparent ly healthy people did not all drop dead of
natural causes on the same night.
The Hanged Man, the village pub, did a roaring t rade that night ; the whole
village seemed to have turned out to discuss the murders. They were rewarded for
leaving their firesides when the Riddles’ cook arrived dramat ically in their midst and
announced to the suddenly silent pub that a man called Frank Bryce had j ust been
arrested.
“Frank!” cried several people. “Never!”
Frank Bryce was the Riddles’ gardener. He lived alone in a run-down cottage on
the grounds of the Riddle House. Frank had come back from the war with a very st iff
leg and a great dislike of crowds and loud noises, and had been working for the Riddles
ever since.
There was a rush to buy the cook drinks and hear more details.
“Always thought he was odd,” she told the eagerly listening villagers, after her
fourth sherry. “Unfriendly, like. I’m sure if I’ve offered him a cuppa once, I’ve offered
it a hundred times. Never wanted to mix, he didn’t.”
“Ah, now,” said a woman at the bar, “he had a hard war, Frank. He likes the
quiet life. That’s no reason to –”
“Who else had a key to the back door, then?” barked the cook. “There’s been a
spare key hanging in the gardener’s cot tage far back as I can remember! Nobody
forced the door last night ! No broken windows! All Frank had to do was creep up to
the big house while we was all sleeping…”
The villagers exchanged dark looks.
“I always thought that he had a nasty look about him, right enough,” grunted a
man at the bar.
“War turned him funny, if you ask me,” said the landlord.
“Told you I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of Frank, didn’t I, Dot?” said
an excited woman in the corner.
“Horrible temper,” said Dot , nodding fervent ly. “I remember, when he was a
kid…”
By the following morning, hardly anyone in Lit t le Hangleton doubted that Frank
Bryce had killed the Riddles.
But over in the neighboring town of Great Hangleton, in the dark and dingy
police stat ion, Frank was stubbornly repeat ing, again and again, that he was innocent ,
and that the only person he had seen near the house on the day of the Riddles’ deaths
had been a teenage boy, a st ranger, dark-haired and pale. Nobody else in the village
had seen any such boy, and the police were quite sure Frank had invented him.
Then, j ust when things were looking very serious for Frank, the report on the
Riddles’ bodies came back and changed everything.
The police had never read an odder report . A team of doctors had examined
the bodies and had concluded that none of the Riddles had been poisoned, stabbed,
shot , st rangles, suffocated, or (as far as they could tell) harmed at all. In fact (the
report cont inued, in a tone of unmistakable bewilderment ), the Riddles all appeared
to be in perfet health — apart f rom the fact that they were all dead. The doctors did
note (as though determined to find something wrong with the bodies) that each of the
Riddles had a look of terror upon his or her face — but as the frust rated police said,
whoever heard of three people being frightened to death?
As there was no proof that the Riddles had been murdered at all, the police
were forced to let Frank go. The Riddles were buried in the Lit t le Hangleton
churchyard, and their graves remained obj ects of curiosity for a while. To everyone’s
surprise, and amid a cloud of suspicion, Frank Bryce returned to his cot tage on the
grounds of the Riddle House.
“‘S far as I’m concerned, he killed them, and I don’t care what the police say,”
said Dot in the Hanged Man. “And if he had any decency, he’d leave here, knowing as
how we knows he did it.”
But Frank did not leave. He stayed to tend the garden for the next family who
lived in the Riddle House, and then the next — for neither family stayed long. Perhaps
it was part ly because of Frank that the new owners said there was a nasty feeling
about the place, which, in the absence of inhabitants, started to fall into disrepair.
The wealthy man who owned the Riddle House these days neither lived there
nor put it to any use; they said in the village that he kept it for “tax reasons,” though
nobody was very clear what these might be. The wealthy owner cont inued to pay
Frank to do the gardening, however. Frank was nearing his seventy-seventh birthday
now, very deaf, his bad leg st if fer than ever, but could be seen pot tering around the
flower beds in fine weather, even though the weeds were start ing to creep up on him,
try as he might to suppress them.
Weeds were not the only things Frank had to contend with either. Boys from
the village made a habit of throwing stones through the windows of the Riddle House.
They rode their bicycles over the lawns Frank worked so hard to keep smooth. Once or
twice, they broke into the old house for a dare. They knew that old Frank’s devot ion
to the house and the grounds amounted almost to an obsession, and it amused them to
see him limping across the garden, brandishing his st ick and yelling croakily at them.
Frank, for his part , believed the boys tormented him because they, like their parents
and grandparents, though him a murderer. So when Frank awoke one night in August
and saw something very odd up at the old house, he merely assumed that the boys had
gone one step further in their attempts to punish him.
It was Frank’s bad leg that woke him; it was paining him worse than ever in his
old age. He got up and limped downstairs into the kitchen with the idea of refilling his
hot-water bot t le to ease the st if fness in his knee. Standing at the sink, filling the
ket t le, he looked up at the Riddle House and saw lights glimmering in its upper
windows. Frank knew at once what was going on. The boys had broken into the house
again, and judging by the flickering quality of the light, they had started a fire.
Frank had no telephone, in any case, he had deeply mist rusted the police ever
since they had taken him in for quest ioning about the Riddles’ deaths. He put down
the ket t le at once, hurried back upstairs as fast as his bad leg would allow, and was
soon back in his kitchen, fully dressed and removing a rusty old key from its hook by
the door. He picked up his walking st ick, which was propped against the wall, and set
off into the night.
The front door of the Riddle House bore no sign of being forced, nor did any of
the windows. Frank limped around to the back of the house unt il he reached a door
almost completely hidden by ivy, took out the old key, put it into the lock, and opened
the door noiselessly.
He let himself into the cavernous kitchen. Frank had not entered it for many
years; nevertheless, although it was very dark, he remembered where the door into
the hall was, and he groped his way towards it , his nost rils full of the smell of decay,
ears pricked for any sound of footsteps or voices from overhead. He reached the hall,
which was a lit t le lighter owing to the large mullioned windows on either side of the
front door, and started to climb the stairs, blessing the dust that lay thick upon the
stone, because it muffled the sound of his feet and stick.
On the landing, Frank turned right , and saw at once where the int ruders were:
At the every end of the passage a door stood aj ar, and a flickering light shone through
the gap, cast ing a long sliver of gold across the black floor. Frank edged closer and
closer, he was able to see a narrow slice of the room beyond.
The f ire, he now saw, had been lit in the grate. This surprised him. Then he
stopped moving and listened intent ly, for a man’s voice spoke within the room; it
sounded timid and fearful.
“There is a little more in the bottle, My Lord, if you are still hungry.”
“Later,” said a second voice. This too belonged to a man — but it was st rangely
high-pitched, and cold as a sudden blast of icy wind. Something about that voice
made the sparse hairs on the back of Frank’s neck stand up. “Move me closer to the
fire, Wormtail.”
Frank turned his right ear toward the door, the better to hear. There came the
clink of a bot t le being put down upon some hard surface, and then the dull scraping
noise of a heavy chair being dragged across the floor. Frank caught a glimpse of a
small man, his back to the door, pushing the chair into place. He was wearing a long
black cloak, and there was a bald patch at the back of his head. Then he went out of
sight again.
“Where is Nagini?” said the cold voice.
“I — I don’t know, My Lord,” said the first voice nervously. “She set out to
explore the house, I think…”
“You will milk her before we ret ire, Wormtail,” said the second voice. “I will
need feeding in the night. The journey has tired me greatly.”
Brow furrowed, Frank inclined his good ear st ill closer to the door, listening
very hard. There was a pause, and then the man called Wormtail spoke again.
“My Lord, may I ask how long we are going to stay here?”
“A week,” said the cold voice. “Perhapse longer. The place is moderately
comfortable, and the plan cannot proceed yet . It would be foolish to act before the
Quidditch World Cup is over.”
Frank inserted a gnarled finger into his ear and rotated it . Owing, no doubt , to
a buildup of earwax, he had heard the word “Quidditch,” which was not a word at all.
“The — the Quidditch World Cup, My Lord?” said Wormtail. (Frank dug his finger
st ill more vigorously into his ear.) “Forgive me, but — I do not understand — why
should we wait until the World Cup is over?”
“Because, fool, at this very moment wizards are pouring into the count ry from
all over the world, and every meddler from the Minist ry of Magic will be on duty, on
the watch for signs of ususual act ivity, checking and double-checking ident it ies. They
will be obsessed with security, lest the Muggles notice anything. So we wait.”
Frank stopped t rying to clear out his ear. He had dist inct ly heard the words
“Minist ry of Magic,” “wizards,” and “Muggles.” Plainly, each of these expressions meant
something secret , and Frank could think of only two sorts of people who would speak
in code: spies and criminals. Frank t ightened his hold on his walking st ick once more,
and listened more closely still.
“Your Lordship is still determined, then?” Wormtail said quietly.
“Certainly I am determined, Wormtail.” There was a note of menace in the cold
voice now.
A slight pause followed — and the Wormtail spoke, the words tumbling from
him in a rush, as though he was forcing himself to say this before he lost his nerve.
“It could be done without Harry Potter, My Lord.”
Another pause, more protracted, and then —
“Without Harry Potter?” breathed the second voice softly. “I see…”
“My Lord, I do not say this out of concern for the boy!” said Wormtail, his voice
rising squeakily. “The boy is nothing to me, nothing at all! It is merely that if we were
to use another witch or wizard — any wizard — the thing could be done so much more
quickly! If you allowed me to leave you for a short while — you know that I can
disguise myself most ef fect ively — I could be back here in as lit t le as two days with a
suitable person –”
“I could use another wizard,” said the cold voice softly, “that is true…”
“My Lord, it makes sense,” said Wormtail, sounding thoroughly relieved now.
“Laying hands on Harry Potter would be so difficult, he is so well protected –”
“And so you volunteer to go and fetch me a subst itute? I wonder…perhaps the
task of nursing me has become wearisome for you, Wormtail? Could this suggest ion of
abandoning the plan be nothing more than an attempt to desert me?”
“My Lord! I — I have no wish to leave you, none at all –”
“Do not lie to me!” hissed the second voice. “I can always tell, Wormtail! You
are regret t ing that you ever returned to me. I revolt you. I see you flinch when you
look at me, feel you shudder when you touch me…”
“No! My devotion to Your Lordship –”
“Your devot ion is nothing more than cowardice. You would not be here if you
had anywhere else to go. How am I to survive without you, when I need feeding every
few hours? Who is to milk Nagini?”
“But you seem so much stronger, My Lord –”
“Liar,” breathed the second voice. “I am no st ronger, and a few days alone
would be enough to rob me of the little health I have regained under your clumsy care.
Silence!”
Wormtail, who had been sput tering incoherent ly, fell silent at once. For a few
seconds, Frank could hear nothing but the fire crackling. The the second man spoke
once more, in a whisper that was almost a hiss.
“I have my reasons for using the boy, as I have already explained to you, and I
will use no other. I have waited thirteen years. A few more months will make no
difference. As for the protect ion surrounding the boy, I believe my plan will be
ef fect ive. All that is needed is a lit t le courage from you, Wormtail — courage you will
find, unless you wish to feel the full extent of Lord Voldermort’s wrath –”
“My Lord, I must speak!” said Wormtail, panic in his voice now. “All through
our j ourney I have gone over the plan in my head — My Lord, Bertha Jorkin’s
disappearance will not go unnoticed for long, and if we proceed, if I murder –”
“If?” whispered the second voice. “If? If you follow the plan, Wormtail, the
Ministry need never know that anyone else has died. You will do it quietly and without
fuss; I only wish that i could do it myself, but in my present condit ion…Come,
Wormtail, one more death and our path to Harry Pot ter is clear. I am not asking you
to do it alone. By that time, my faithful serant will have rejoined us –”
“I am a faithful servant ,” said Wormtail, the merest t race of sullenness in his
voice.
“Wormtail, I need somebody with brains, somebody whose loyalty has never
wavered, and you, unfortunately, fulfill neither requirement.”
“I found you,” said Wormtail, and there was def initely a sulky edge to his voice
now. “I was the one who found you. I brought you Bertha Jorkins.”
“That is t rue,” said the second man, sounding amused. “A st roke of brilliance I
would not have thought possible from you, Wormtail — though, if t ruth be told, you
were not aware how useful she would be when you caught her, were you?”
“I — I thought she might be useful, My Lord –”
“Liar,” said the second voice again, the cruel amusement more pronounced than
ever. “However, I do not deny that her information was invaluable. Without it, I could
never have formed our plan, and for that , you will have your reward, Wormtail. I will
allow you to perform an essent ial task for me, one that many of my followers would
give their right hands to perform…”
“R-really, My Lord? What — ?” Wormtail sounded terrified again.
“Ah, Wormtail, you don’t want me to spoil the surprise? Your part will come at
the very end…but I promise you, you will have the honor of being j ust as useful as
Bertha Jorkins.”
“You…you…” Wormtail’s voice suddenly sounded hoarse, as though his mouth
had gone very dry. “You…are going…to kill me too?”
“Wormtail, Wormtail,” said the cold voice silkily, “why would I kill you? I killed
Bertha because I had to. She was fit for nothing after my quest ioning, quite useless.
In any case, awkward quest ions would have been asked if she had gone back to the
Minist ry with the news that she had met you on her holidays. Wizards who are
supposed to be dead would do well not to run into Ministry of Magic witches at wayside
inns…”
Wormtail mut tered something so quiet ly that Frank could not hear it , but it
made the second man laugh — an entirely mirthless laugh, cold as his speech.
“We could have modif ied her memory? But Memory Charms can be broken by a
powerful wizard, as I proved when I quest ioned her. It would be an insult to her
memory not to use the information I extracted from her, Wormtail.”
Out in the corridor, Frank suddenly became aware that the hand gripping his
walking st ick was slippery with sweat . The man with the cold voice had killed a
woman. He was talking about it without any kind of remorse — with amusement. He
was dangerous — a madman. And he was planning more murders — this boy, Harry
Potter, whoever he was — was in danger —
Frank knew what he must do. Now, if ever, was the t ime to go to the police.
He would creep out of the house and head st raight for the telephone box in the
village…but the cold voice was speaking again, and Frank remained where he was,
frozen to the spot, listening with all his might.
“One more murder…my faithful servant at Hogwarts…Harry Pot ter is as good
as mine, Wormtail. It is decided. There will be no more argument. But quiet…I think
I hear Nagini…”
And the second man’s voice changed. He started making noises such as Frank
had never heard before; he was hissing and spit t ing without drawing breath. Frank
thought he must be having some sort of fit or seizure.
And then Frank heard movement behind him in the dark passageway. He
turned to look, and found himself paralyzed with fright.
Something was slithering toward him along the dark corridor floor, and as it
drew nearer to the sliver of firelight , he realized with a thrill of terror that it was a
gigant ic snake, at least twelve feet long. Horrified, t ransfixed, Frank stared as its
undulat ing body cut a wide, curving t rack through the thick dust on the floor, coming
closer and closer — What was he to do? The only means of escape was into the room
where the two men sat plot t ing murder, yet if he stayed where he was the snake
would surely kill him —
But before he had made his decision, the snake was level with him, and then,
incredibly, miraculously, it was passing; it was following the spit t ing, hissing noises
made by the cold voice beyond the door, and in seconds, the t ip of its diamondpatterned
tail had vanished through the gap.
There was sweat on Frank’s forehead now, and the hand on the walking st ick
was t rembling. Inside the room, the cold voice was cont inuing to hiss, and Frank was
visited by a strange idea, an impossible idea…This man could talk to snakes.
Frank didn’t understand what was going on. He wanted more than anything to
be back in his bed with his hot -water bot t le. The problem was that his legs didn’t
seem to want to move. As he stood there shaking and t rying to master himself, the
cold voice switched abruptly to English again.
“Nagini has interesting news, Wormtail,” it said.
“In-indeed, My Lord?” said Wormtail.
“Indeed, yes,” said the voice, “According to Nagini, there is an old Muggle
standing right outside this room, listening to every word we say.”
Frank didn’t have a chance to hide himself. There were footsteps and then the
door of the room was flung wide open.
A short , balding man with graying hair, a pointed nose, and small, watery eyes
stood before Frank, a mixture of fear and alarm in his face.
“Invite him inside, Wormtail. Where are your manners?”
The cold voice was coming from the ancient armchair before the fire, but Frank
couldn’t see the speaker. the snake, on the other hand, was curled up on the rot t ing
hearth rug, like some horrible travesty of a pet dog.
Wormtail beckoned Frank into the room. Though st ill deeply shaken, Frank
took a firmer grip on his walking stick and limped over the threshold.
The fire was the only source of light in the room; it cast long, spidery shadows
upon the walls. Frank stared at the back of the armchair; the man inside it seemed to
be even smaller than his servant, for Frank couldn’t even see the back of his head.
“You heard everything, Muggle?” said the cold voice.
“What’s that you’re calling me?” said Frank defiantly, for now that he was inside
the room, now that the t ime had come for some sort of act ion, he felt braver; it had
always been so in the war.
“I am calling you a Muggle,” said the voice coolly. “It means that you are not a
wizard.”
“I don’t know what you mean by wizard,” said Frank, his voice growing steadier.
“All I know is I’ve heard enough to interest the police tonight , I have. You’ve done
murder and you’re planning more! And I’ll tell youthis too,” he added, on a sudden
inspiration, “my wife knows I’m up here, and if I don’t come back –”
“You have no wife,” said te cold voice, very quiet ly. “Nobody knows you are
here. You told nobody that you were coming. Do not lie to Lord Voldemort , Muggle,
for he knows…he always knows…”
“Is that right?” said Frank roughly. “Lord, is it? Well, I don’t think much of your
manners, My Lord. Turn ’round and face me like a man, why don’t you?”
“But I am not a man, Muggle,” said the cold voice, barely audible now over the
crackling of the flames. “I am much, much more than a man. However…why not? I
will face you…Wormtail, come turn my chair around.”
The servant gave a whimper.
“You heard me, Wormtail.”
Slowly, with his face screwed up, as though he would rather have done
anything than approach his master and the hearth rug where the snake lay, the small
man walked forward and began to turn the chair. The snake lifted its ugly t riangular
head and hissed slightly as the legs of the chair snagged on its rug.
And then the chair was facing Frank, and he saw what was sit t ing in it . His
walking st ick fell to the floor with a clat ter. He opened his mouth and let out a
scream. He was screaming so loudly that he never heard the words the thing in the
chair spoke as it raised a wand. There was a flash of green light , a rushing sound, and
Frank Bryce crumpled. He was dead before he hit the floor.
Two hundred miles away, the boy called Harry Potter woke with a start.
CHAPTER TWO – THE SCAR
Harry lay flat on his back, breathing hard as though he had been running. He
had awoken from a vivid dream with his hands pressed over his face. The old scar on
his forehead, which was shaped like a bolt of lightning, was burning beneath his
fingers as though someone had just pressed a white-hot wire to his skin.
He sat up, one hand st ill on his scar, the other hand reaching out in the
darkness for his glasses, which were on the bedside table. He put them on and his
bedroom came into clearer focus, lit by a faint , misty orange light that was f iltering
through the curtains from the street lamp outside the window.
Harry ran his fingers over the scar again. It was st ill painful. He turned on the
lamp beside him, scrambled out of bed, crossed the room, opened his wardrobe, and
peered into the mirror on the inside of the door. A skinny boy of fourteen looked back
at him, his bright green eyes puzzled under his unt idy black hair. He examined the
lightning-bolt scar of his reflect ion more closely. It looked normal, but it was st ill
stinging.
harry t ried to recall what he had been dreaming about before he had awoken.
It had seemed so real…There had been two people he knew and one he didn’t …He
concentrated hard, frowning, trying to remember…
The dim picture of a darkened room came to him…There had been a snake on
a hearth rug…a small man called Peter, nicknamed Wormtail…and a cold, high
voice…the voice of Lord Voldemort . Harry felt as though an ice cube had slipped
down into his stomach at the very thought…
He closed his eyes t ight ly and t ried to remember what Voldemort had looked
like, but it was impossible…All Harry knew was that at the moment when Voldemort ‘s
chair had swung around, and he, Harry, had seen what was sit t ing in it , he had felt a
spasm of horror, which had awoken him…or had that been the pain in his scar?
And who had the old man been? For there had def initely been an old man;
Harry had watched him fall to the ground. It was all becoming confused. Harry put his
face into his hands, blocking out his bedroom, t rying to hold on to the picture of that
dimly lit room, but it was like t rying to keep water in his cupped hands; the details
were now t rickling away as fast as he t ried to hold on to them…Voldemort and
Wormtail had been talking about someone they had killed, though Harry could not
remember the name…and they had been plotting to kill someone else…him!
Harry took his face out of his hands, opened his eyes, and stared around his
bedroom as though expect ing to see something unusual there. As it happened, there
was an ext raordinary number of unusual things in this room. A large wooden t runk
stood open at the foot of his bed, revealing a cauldron, broomst ick, black robes, and
assorted spellbooks. Rolls of parchment lit tered that part of his desk that was not
taken up by the large, empty cage in which his snowy owl, Hedwig, usually perched.
On the floor beside his bed a book lay open; Harry had been reading it before he fell
asleep last night . The pictures in this book were all moving. Men in bright orange
robes were zooming in and out of sight on broomst icks, throwing a red ball to one
another.
Harry walked over to the book, picked it up, and watched on of the wizards
score a spectacular goal by put t ing the ball through a fifty-foot-high hoop. Then he
snapped the book shut . Even Quidditch — in Harry’s opinion, the best sport in the
world — couldn’t dist ract him at the moment . He placed Flying with t he Cannons on
his bedside table, crossed to the window, and drew back the curtains to survey the
street below.
Privet Drive looked exactly as a respectable suburban street would be expected
to look inthe early hours of Saturday morning. All the curtains were closed. As far as
Harry could see through the darkness, there wasn’t a living creature in sight , not even
a cat.
And yet …and yet …Harry went rest lessly back to the bed and sat down on it ,
running a finger over his scar again. It wasn’t the pain that bothered him; Harry was
no st ranger to pain and inj ury. He had lost all the bones f rom his right arm once and
had them painfully regrown in a night. The same arm had been pierced by a venemous
foot-long fang not long afterward. Only last year Harry had fallen fifty feet from an
airborn broomst ick. He was used to bizarre accidents and inj uries; they were
unavoidable if you at tended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and had a
knack for attracting a lot of trouble.
No, the thing that was bothering Harry was the last t ime his scar had hurt him,
it had been because Voldemort had been close by…But Voldemort couldn’t be here,
now…The idea of Voldemort lurking in Privet Drive was absurd, impossible…
Harry listened closely to the silence around him. Was he half expecting to hear
the creak of a stair or the swish of a cloak? And then he j umped slight ly as he heard
his cousin Dudley give a tremendous grunting snore from the next room.
Harry shook himself mentally; he was being stupid. There was no one in the
house with him except Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley, and they were plainly
still asleep, their dreams untroubled and painless.
Asleep was the way Harry liked the Dursleys best; it wasn’t as though they were
ever any help to him awake. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley were Harry’s
only living relat ives. They were Muggles who hated and despised magic in any form,
which meant that Harry was about as welcome in their house as dry rot . They had
explained away Harry’s long absences at Hogwarts over the last three years by telling
everyone that he went to St . Brutus’s Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys. They
knew perfect ly well that , as an underage wizard, Harry wasn’t allowed to use magic
outside Hogwarts, but they were st ill apt to blame him for anything that went wrong
about the house. Harry had never been able to confide in them or tell them anything
about his life in the wizarding world. The very idea of going to them when they
awoke, and telling them about his scar hurt ing him, and about his worries about
Voldemort, was laughable.
And yet it was because of Voldemort that Harry had come to live with the
Dursleys in the first place. If it hadn’t been for Voldemort , Harry would not have had
the lightning scar on his forehead. If it hadn’t been for Voldemort , Harry would st ill
have had parents…
Harry had been a year old the night that Voldemort — the most powerful Dark
wizard for a century, a wizard who had been gaining power steadily for eleven years —
arrived at his house and killed his father and mother. Voldemort had then turned his
wand on Harry; he had performed the curse that had disposed of many full-grown
witches and wizards in his steady rise to power — and, incredibly, it had not worked.
Instead of killing the small boy, the curse had rebounded upon Voldemort . Harry had
survived with nothing but a lightning-shaped cut on his forehead, and Voldemort had
been reduced to something barely alive. His powers gone, his life almost
extinguished, Voldemort had fled; the terror in which the secret community of witches
and wizards had lived for so long had lifted, Voldemort ‘s followers had disbanded, and
Harry Potter had become famous.
It had been enough of a shock for Harry to discover, on his eleventh birthday,
that he was a wizard; it had been even more disconcerting to find out that everyone in
the hidden wizarding world knew his name. Harry had arrived at Hogwarts to find that
heads turned and whispers followed him wherever he went . But he was used to it
now: At the end of this summer, he would be starting his fourth year at Hogwarts, and
Harry was already counting the days until he would be back at the castle again.
But there was st ill a fortnight to go before he went back to school. He looked
hopelessly around his room again, and his eye paused on the birthday cards his two
best friends had sent him at the end of July. What would they say if Harry wrote to
them and told them about his scar hurting?
At once, Hermione Granger’s voice seemed to fill his head, shrill and panicky.
“Your scar hurt? Harry, that’s really serious…. Write to Professor Dumbledore!
And I’l l go and check Common Magical Ailments and Af flict ions…. Maybe t here’s
something in there about curse scars. . . .”
Yes, that would be Hermione’s advice: Go st raight to the headmaster of
Hogwarts, and in the meant ime, consult a book. Harry stared out of the window at
the inky blue-black sky. He doubted very much whether a book could help him now.
As far as he knew, he was the only living person to have survived a curse like
Voldemort ‘s; it was highly unlikely, therefore, that he would find his symptoms listed
in Common Magical Ailment s and Af f l ict ions. As for informing the headmaster, Harry
had no idea where Dumbledore went during the summer holidays. He amused himself
for a moment , picturing Dumbledore, with his long silver beard, full length wizard’s
robes, and pointed hat , st retched out on a beach somewhere, rubbing suntan lot ion
onto his long crooked nose. Wherever Dumbledore was, though, Harry was sure that
Hedwig would be able to find him; Harry’s owl had never yet failed to deliver a let ter
to anyone, even without an address. But what would he write?
Dear Professor Dumbledore, Sorry to bot her you, but my scar hurt t his
morning. Yours sincerely, Harry Potter.
Even inside his head the words sounded stupid.
And so he tried to imagine his other best friend, Ron Weasley’s, reaction, and in
a moment , Ron’s red hair and long-nosed, freckled face seemed to swim before Harry,
wearing a bemused expression.
“Your scar hurt ? But … but You-Know-Who can’t be near you now, can he? I
mean … you’d know, wouldn’t you? He’d be t rying t o do you in again, wouldn’t be? I
dunno, Harry, maybe curse scars always twinge a bit… I’ll ask Dad. . . .”
Mr. Weasley was a fully qualified wizard who worked in the Misuse of Muggle
Art ifacts Office at the Minist ry of Magic, but he didn’t have any part icular expert ise in
the mat ter of curses, as far as Harry knew. In any case, Harry didn’t like the idea of
the whole Weasley family knowing that he, Harry, was get t ing j umpy about a few
moments’ pain. Mrs. Weasley would fuss worse than Hermione, and Fred and George,
Ron’s sixteen- year-old twin brothers, might think Harry was losing his nerve. The
Weasleys were Harry’s favorite family in the world; he was hoping that they might
invite him to stay any t ime now (Ron had ment ioned something about the Quidditch
World Cup), and he somehow didn’t want his visit punctuated with anxious inquiries
about his scar.
Harry kneaded his forehead with his knuckles. What he really wanted (and it
felt almost shameful to admit it to himself ) was someone like — someone like a
parent: an adult wizard whose advice he could ask without feeling stupid, someone
who cared about him, who had had experience with Dark Magic….
And then the solut ion came to him. It was so simple, and so obvious, that he
couldn’t believe it had taken so long —Sirius.
Harry leapt up from the bed, hurried across the room, and sat down at his desk;
he pulled a piece of parchment toward him, loaded his eagle-feather quill with ink,
wrote Dear Sirius, then paused, wondering how best to phrase his problem, st ill
marveling at the fact that he hadn’t thought of Sirius straight away. But then, perhaps
it wasn’t so surprising —after all, he had only found out that Sirius was his godfather
two months ago.
There was a simple reason for Sirius’s complete absence from Harry’s life unt il
then —Sirius had been in Azkaban, the terrifying wizard j ail guarded by creatures
called dementors, sight less, soul-sucking fiends who had come to search for Sirius at
Hogwarts when he had escaped. Yet Sirius had been innocent — the murders for which
he had been convicted had been commit ted by Wormtail, Voldemort ‘s supporter,
whom nearly everybody now believed dead. Harry, Ron, and Hermione knew
otherwise, however; they had come face-to-face with Wormtail only the previous year,
though only Professor Dumbledore had believed their story.
For one glorious hour, Harry had believed that he was leaving the Dursleys at
last , because Sirius had offered him a home once his name had been cleared. But the
chance had been snatched away from him —Wormtail had escaped before they could
take him to the Minist ry of Magic, and Sirius had had to flee for his life. Harry had
helped him escape on the back of a hippogrif f called Buckbeak, and since then, Sirius
had been on the run. The home Harry might have had if Wormtail had not escaped
had been haunt ing him all summer. It had been doubly hard to return to the Dursleys
knowing that he had so nearly escaped them forever.
Nevertheless, Sirius had been of some help to Harry, even if he couldn’t be with
him. It was due to Sirius that Harry now had all his school things in his bedroom with
him. The Dursleys had never allowed this before; their general wish of keeping Harry
as miserable as possible, coupled with their fear of his powers, had led them to lock
his school t runk in the cupboard under the stairs every summer prior to this. But their
attitude had changed since they had found out that Harry had a dangerous murderer
for a godfather —for Harry had convenient ly forgot ten to tell them that Sirius was
innocent.
Harry had received two let ters from Sirius since he had been back at Privet
Drive. Both had been delivered, not by owls (as was usual with wizards), but by large,
brightly colored tropical birds. Hedwig had not approved of these flashy intruders; she
had been most reluctant to allow them to drink from her water t ray before flying off
again. Harry, on the other hand, had liked them; they put him in mind of palm t rees
and white sand, and he hoped that , wherever Sirius was (Sirius never said, in case the
let ters were intercepted), he was enj oying himself. Somehow, Harry found it hard to
imaging dementors surviving for long in bright sunlight , perhapse that was why Sirius
had gone South. Sirius’s let ters, which were now hidden beneath the highly useful
loose floorboards under Harry’s bed, sounded chearful, and in both of them he had
reminded Harry to call on him if ever Harry needed to. Well, he needed to right now,
all right…
Harry’s lamp seemed to grow dimmer as the cold gray light that precedes
sunrise slowly crept into the room. Finally, when the sun had risen, when his bedroom
walls had turned gold, and when sounds of movement could be heard from Uncle
Vernon and Aunt Petunia’s room, Harry cleared his desk of crumpled pieces of
parchment and reread his finished letter.
Dear Sirius,
Thanks for your last let t er. That bird was enormous; it could hardly get
t hrough my window. Things are t he same as usual here. Dudley’s diet isn’t going t oo
wel l . My aunt found him smuggl ing doughnut s int o his room yest erday. They t old him
t hey’d have t o cut his pocket money if he keeps doing it , so he got real ly angry and
chucked his PlaySt at ion out of t he window. That ‘s a sort of comput er t hing you can
play games on. Bit stupid really, now he hasn’t even got Mega-Mutilation Part Three to
take his mind off things.
I’m okay, mainly because t he Dursleys are t errif ied you might turn up and t urn
them all into bats if I ask you to.
A weird t hing happened t his morning, t hough. My scar hurt again. Last t ime
t hat happened it was because Voldemort was at Hogwart s. But I don’t reckon he can
be anywhere near me now, can he? Do you know if curse scars somet imes hurt years
afterward?
I’ll send this with Hedwig when she gets back; she’s off hunting at the moment.
Say hello to Buckbeak for me. Harry
Yes, thought Harry, that looked all right . There was no point put t ing in the
dream; he didn’t want it to look as though he was too worried. He folded up the
parchment and laid it aside on his desk, ready for when Hedwig returned. Then he got
to his feet , st retched, and opened his wardrobe once more. Without glancing at his
reflection he started to get dressed before going down to breakfast.
CHAPTER THREE – THE INVITATION
By the t ime Harry arrived in the kitchen, the three Dursleys were already
seated around the table. None of them looked up as he entered or sat down. Uncle
Vernon’s large red face was hidden behind the morning’s Daily Mail , and Aunt Petunia
was cutting a grapefruit into quarters, her lips pursed over her horselike teeth.
Dudley looked furious and sulky, and somehow seemed to be taking up even
more space than usual. This was saying something, as he always took up an entire side
of the square table by himself . When Aunt Petunia put a quarter of unsweetened
grapefruit onto Dudley’s plate with a t remulous “There you are, Diddy darling,” Dudley
glowered at her. His life had taken a most unpleasant turn since he had come home
for the summer with his end-of-year report.
Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had managed to find excuses for his bad marks
as usual: Aunt Petunia always insisted that Dudley was a very gifted boy whose
teachers didn’t understand him, while Uncle Vernon maintained that “he didn’t want
some swot ty lit t le nancy boy for a son anyway.” They also skated over the accusat ions
of bullying in the report —”He’s a boisterous lit t le boy, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly!”
Aunt Petunia had said tearfully.
However, at the bot tom of the report there were a few well-chosen comments
from the school nurse that not even Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia could explain
away. No mat ter how much Aunt Petunia wailed that Dudley was big-boned, and that
his poundage was really puppy fat , and that he was a growing boy who needed plenty
of food, the fact remained that the school out fit ters didn’t stock knickerbockers big
enough for him anymore. The school nurse had seen what Aunt Petunia’s eyes —so
sharp when it came to spotting fingerprints on her gleaming walls, and in observing the
comings and goings of the neighbors —simply refused to see: that far from needing
ext ra nourishment , Dudley had reached roughly the size and weight of a young killer
whale.
So —after many tant rums, af ter arguments that shook Harry’s bedroom floor,
and many tears from Aunt Petunia —the new regime had begun. The diet sheet that
had been sent by the Smelt ings school nurse had been taped to the f ridge, which had
been empt ied of all Dudley’s favorite things —fizzy drinks and cakes, chocolate bars
and burgers and filled instead with fruit and vegetables and the sorts of things that
Uncle Vernon called “rabbit food.” To make Dudley feel bet ter about it all, Aunt
Petunia had insisted that the whole family follow the diet too. She now passed a
grapefruit quarter to Harry. He not iced that it was a lot smaller than Dudley’s. Aunt
Petunia seemed to feet that the best way to keep up Dudley’s morale was to make sure
that he did, at least, get more to eat than Harry.
But Aunt Petunia didn’t know what was hidden under the loose floorboard
upstairs. She had no idea that Harry was not following the diet at all. The moment he
had got wind of the fact that he was expected to survive the summer on carrot st icks,
Harry had sent Hedwig to his friends with pleas for help, and they had risen to the
occasion magnificent ly. Hedwig had returned from Hermione’s house with a large box
stuf fed full of sugar-free snacks. (Hermione’s parents were dent ists.) Hagrid, the
Hogwarts gamekeeper, had obliged with a sack full of his own homemade rock cakes.
(Harry hadn’t touched these; he had had too much experience of Hagrid’s cooking.)
Mrs. Weasley, however, had sent the family owl, Errol, with an enormous fruitcake and
assorted meat pies. Poor Errol, who was elderly and feeble, had needed a full five
days to recover from the j ourney. And then on Harry’s birthday (which the Dursleys
had completely ignored) he had received four superb birthday cakes, one each from
Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, and Sirius. Harry st ill had two of them left , and so, looking
forward to a real breakfast when he got back upstairs, he ate his grapefruit without
complaint.
Uncle Vernon laid aside his paper with a deep sniff of disapproval and looked
down at his own grapefruit quarter.
“Is this it?” he said grumpily to Aunt Petunia.
Aunt Petunia gave him a severe look, and then nodded pointedly at Dudley,
who had already finished his own grapefruit quarter and was eyeing Harry’s with a very
sour look in his piggy little eyes.
Uncle Vernon gave a great sigh, which ruffled his large, bushy mustache, and
picked up his spoon.
The doorbell rang. Uncle Vernon heaved himself out of his chair and set off
down the hall. Quick as a flash, while his mother was occupied with the kettle, Dudley
stole the rest of Uncle Vernon’s grapefruit.
Harry heard talking at the door, and someone laughing, and Uncle Vernon
answering curt ly. Then the front door closed, and the sound of ripping paper came
from the hall.
Aunt Petunia set the teapot down on the table and looked curiously around to
see where Uncle Vernon had got to. She didn’t have to wait long to find out ; after
about a minute, he was back. He looked livid.
“You,” he barked at Harry. “In the living room. Now.”
Bewildered, wondering what on earth he was supposed to have done this t ime,
Harry got up and followed Uncle Vernon out of the kitchen and into the next room.
Uncle Vernon closed the door sharply behind both of them.
“So,” he said, marching over to the fireplace and turning to face Harry as
though he were about to pronounce him under arrest. “So.”
Harry would have dearly loved to have said, “So what?” but he didn’t feel that
Uncle Vernon’s temper should be tested this early in the morning, especially when it
was already under severe st rain from lack of food. He therefore set t led for looking
politely puzzled.
“This j ust arrived,” said Uncle Vernon. He brandished a piece of purple writ ing
paper at Harry. “A letter. About you.”
Harry’s confusion increased. Who would be writ ing to Uncle Vernon about him?
Who did he know who sent letters by the postman?
Uncle Vernon glared at Harry, then looked down at the let ter and began to
read aloud:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dursley,
We have never been int roduced, but I am sure you have heard a great deal
from Harry about my son Ron.
As Harry might have told you, the final of the Quidditch World Cup takes place
t his Monday night , and my husband, Art hur, has j ust managed t o get prime t icket s
through his connections at the Department of Magical Games and Sports.
I do hope you wil l al low us to t ake Harry t o t he mat ch, as t his real ly is a oncein-
a-l ifet ime opport unit y; Brit ain hasn’t host ed t he cup for t hirt y years, and t icket s
are ext remely hard t o come by. We would of course be glad t o have Harry st ay for
t he remainder of t he summer hol idays, and t o see him safely ont o t he t rain back t o
school.
It would be best for Harry t o send us your answer as quickly as possible in t he
normal way, because t he Muggle postman has never del ivered t o our house, and I am
not sure he even knows where it is.
Hoping to see Harry soon,
Yours sincerely,
Molly Weasley
P.S. I do hope we’ve put enough stamps on.
Uncle Vernon finished reading, put his hand back into his breast pocket , and
drew out something else.
“Look at this,” he growled.
He held up the envelope in which Mrs. Weasley’s let ter had come, and Harry
had to fight down a laugh. Every bit of it was covered in stamps except for a square
inch on the front , into which Mrs. Weasley had squeezed the Dursleys’ address in
minute writing.
“She did put enough stamps on, then,” said Harry, t rying to sound as though
Mrs. Weasley’s was a mistake anyone could make. His uncle’s eyes flashed.
“The postman not iced,” he said through grit ted teeth. “Very interested to know
where this let ter came from, he was. That ‘s why he rang the doorbell. Seemed to
think it was funny.”
Harry didn’t say anything. Other people might not understand why Uncle
Vernon was making a fuss about too many stamps, but Harry had lived with the
Dursleys too long not to know how touchy they were about anything even slight ly out
of the ordinary. Their worst fear was that someone would find out that they were
connected (however distantly) with people like Mrs. Weasley.
Uncle Vernon was st ill glaring at Harry, who t ried to keep his expression
neut ral. If he didn’t do or say anything stupid, he might j ust be in for the t reat of a
lifet ime. He waited for Uncle Vernon to say something, but he merely cont inued to
glare. Harry decided to break the silence.
“So — can I go then?” he asked.
A slight spasm crossed Uncle Vernon’s large purple face. The mustache
brist led. Harry thought he knew what was going on behind the mustache: a furious
bat t le as two of Uncle Vernon’s most fundamental inst incts came into conflict .
Allowing Harry to go would make Harry happy, something Uncle Vernon had st ruggled
against for thirteen years. On the other hand, allowing Harry to disappear to the
Weasleys’ for the rest of the summer would get rid of him two weeks earlier than
anyone could have hoped, and Uncle Vernon hated having Harry in the house. To give
himself thinking time, it seemed, he looked down at Mrs. Weasley’s letter again.
“Who is this woman?” he said, staring at the signature with distaste.
“ You’ve seen her,” said Harry. “She’s my f riend Ron’s mother, she was meet ing
him off the Hog — off the school train at the end of last term.”
He had almost said “Hogwarts Express,” and that was a sure way to get his
uncle’s temper up. Nobody ever ment ioned the name of Harry’s school aloud in the
Dursley household.
Uncle Vernon screwed up his enormous face as though t rying to remember
something very unpleasant.
“Dumpy sort of woman?” he growled finally. “Load of children with red hair?”
Harry frowned. He thought it was a bit rich of Uncle Vernon to call anyone
“dumpy,” when his own son, Dudley, had finally achieved what he’d been threatening
to do since the age of three, and become wider than he was tall.
Uncle Vernon was perusing the letter again.
“Quidditch,” he muttered under his breath. “Quidditch — what is this rubbish?”
Harry felt a second stab of annoyance.
“It’s a sport,” he said shortly. “Played on broom— ”
“All right , all right !” said Uncle Vernon loudly. Harry saw, with some
sat isfact ion, that his uncle looked vaguely panicky. Apparent ly his nerves couldn’t
stand the sound of the word “broomst icks” in his living room. He took refuge in
perusing the letter again. Harry saw his lips form the words “send us your answer … in
the normal way.” He scowled.
“What does she mean, ‘the normal way’?” he spat.
“Normal for us,” said Harry, and before his uncle could stop him, he added, “you
know, owl post. That’s what’s normal for wizards.”
Uncle Vernon looked as out raged as if Harry had j ust ut tered a disgust ing
swearword. Shaking with anger, he shot a nervous look through the window, as though
expecting to see some of the neighbors with their ears pressed against the glass.
“How many t imes do I have to tell you not to ment ion that unnaturalness under
my roof?” he hissed, his face now a rich plum color. “You stand there, in the clothes
Petunia and I have put on your ungrateful back —”
“Only after Dudley finished with them,” said Harry coldly, and indeed, he was
dressed in a sweatshirt so large for him that he had had to roll back the sleeves five
t imes so as to be able to use his hands, and which fell past the knees of his ext remely
baggy jeans.
“I will not be spoken to like that!” said Uncle Vernon, trembling with rage.
But Harry wasn’t going to stand for this. Gone were the days when he had been
forced to take every single one of the Dursleys’ stupid rules. He wasn’t following
Dudley’s diet , and he wasn’t going to let Uncle Vernon stop him f rom going to the
Quidditch World Cup, not if he could help it . Harry took a deep, steadying breath and
then said, “Okay, I can’t see the World Cup. Can I go now, then? Only I’ve got a let ter
to Sirius I want to finish. You know — my godfather.”
He had done it , he had said the magic words. Now he watched the purple
recede blotchily from Uncle Vernon’s face, making it look like badly mixed black
currant ice cream.
“You’re —you’re writ ing to him, are you?” said Uncle Vernon, in a would-be
calm voice — but Harry had seen the pupils of his tiny eyes contract with sudden fear.
“Well —yeah,” said Harry, casually. “It ‘s been a while since he heard f rom me,
and, you know, if he doesn’t he might start thinking something’s wrong.”
He stopped there to enj oy the effect of these words. He could almost see the
cogs working under Uncle Vernon’s thick, dark, neat ly parted hair. If he t ried to stop
Harry writ ing to Sirius, Sirius would think Harry was being mist reated. If he told Harry
he couldn’t go to the Quidditch World Cup, Harry would write and tell Sirius, who
would know Harry was being mistreated. There was only one thing for Uncle Vernon to
do. Harry could see the conclusion forming in his uncle’s mind as though the great
mustached face were t ransparent . Harry t ried not to smile, to keep his own face as
blank as possible. And then —
“Well, all right then. You can go to this ruddy … this stupid … this World Cup
thing. You write and tell these —these Weasleys they’re to pick you up, mind. I
haven’t got t ime to go dropping you of f all over the count ry. And you can spend the
rest of the summer there. And you can tell your —your godfather … tell him … tell
him you’re going.”
“Okay then,” said Harry brightly.
He turned and walked toward the living room door, fight ing the urge to j ump
into the air and whoop. He was going … he was going to the Weasleys’, he was going
to watch the Quidditch World Cup!
Outside in the hall he nearly ran into Dudley, who had been lurking behind the
door, clearly hoping to overhear Harry being told off. He looked shocked to see the
broad grin on Harry’s face.
“That was an excellent breakfast , wasn’t it?” said Harry. “I feel really full, don’t
you?”
Laughing at the astonished look on Dudley’s face, Harry took the stairs three at
a time, and hurled himself back into his bedroom.
The f irst thing he saw was that Hedwig was back. She was sit t ing in her cage,
staring at Harry with her enormous amber eyes, and clicking her beak in the way that
meant she was annoyed about something. Exact ly what was annoying her became
apparent almost at once.
“OUCH!” said Harry as what appeared to be a small, gray, feathery tennis ball
collided with the side of his head. Harry massaged the spot furiously, looking up to
see what had hit him, and saw a minute owl, small enough to fit into the palm of his
hand, whizzing excitedly around the room like a loose firework. Harry then realized
that the owl had dropped a let ter at his feet . Harry bent down, recognized Ron’s
handwriting, then tore open the envelope. Inside was a hastily scribbled note.
Harry —DAD GOT THE TICKETS—Ireland versus Bulgaria, Monday night . Mum’s
writ ing t o t he Muggles t o ask you t o st ay. They might al ready have the let t er, I don’t
know how fast Muggle post is. Thought I’d send this with Pig anyway.
Harry stared at the word “Pig,” then looked up at the t iny owl now zooming
around the light fixture on the ceiling. He had never seen anything that looked less
like a pig. Maybe he couldn’t read Ron’s writing. He went back to the letter:
We’re coming for you whet her t he Muggles l ike it or not , you can’t miss t he
World Cup, only Mum and Dad reckon it ‘s bet t er if we pret end t o ask their permission
f irst . If t hey say yes, send Pig back wit h your answer pront o, and we’l l come and get
you at f ive o’clock on Sunday. If t hey say no, send Pig back pront o and we’l l come and
get you at five o’clock on Sunday anyway.
Hermione’s arriving this af ternoon. Percy’s st art ed work —t he Department of
Int ernat ional Magical Cooperat ion. Don’t ment ion anyt hing about Abroad while you’re
here unless you want the pants bored off you.
See you soon — Ron
“Calm down!” Harry said as the small owl flew low over his head, twit tering
madly with what Harry could only assume was pride at having delivered the let ter to
the right person. “Come here, I need you to take my answer back!”
The owl fluttered down on top of Hedwig’s cage. Hedwig looked coldly up at it,
as though daring it to try and come any closer.
Harry seized his eagle-feather quill once more, grabbed a fresh piece of
parchment, and wrote:
Ron, it ‘s al l okay, t he Muggles say I can come. See you f ive o’clock t omorrow.
Can’t wait. Harry
He folded this note up very small, and with immense difficulty, t ied it to the
t iny owl’s leg as it hopped on the spot with excitement . The moment the note was
secure, the owl was off again; it zoomed out of the window and out of sight.
Harry turned to Hedwig.
“Feeling up to a long journey?” he asked her.
Hedwig hooted in a dignified sort of a way.
“Can you take this to Sirius for me?” he said, picking up his let ter. “Hang on … I
just want to finish it.”
He unfolded the parchment and hastily added a postscript.
If you want to contact me, I’ll be at my friend Ron Weasley’s for the rest of the
summer. His dad’s got us tickets for the Quidditch World Cup!
The let ter finished, he t ied it to Hedwig’s leg; she kept unusually st ill, as
though determined to show him how a real post owl should behave.
“I’ll be at Ron’s when you get back, all right?” Harry told her.
She nipped his finger affect ionately, then, with a soft swooshing noise, spread
her enormous wings and soared out of the open window.
Harry watched her out of sight , then crawled under his bed, wrenched up the
loose floorboard, and pulled out a large chunk of birthday cake. He sat there on the
floor eat ing it , savoring the happiness that was flooding through him. He had cake,
and Dudley had nothing but grapefruit ; it was a bright summer’s day, he would be
leaving Privet Drive tomorrow, his scar felt perfect ly normal again, and he was going
to watch the Quidditch World Cup. It was hard, j ust now, to feel worried about
anything — even Lord Voldemort.
CHAPTER FOUR – BACK TO THE BURROW
By twelve o’clock the next day, Harry’s school t runk was packed with his school
things and all his most prized possessions — the Invisibility Cloak he had inherited from
his father, the broomst ick he had got ten from Sirius, the enchanted map of Hogwarts
he had been given by Fred and George Weasley last year. He had empt ied his hiding
place under the loose floorboard of all food, double-checked every nook and cranny of
his bedroom for forgot ten spellbooks or quills, and taken down the chart on the wall
count ing down the days to September the first , on which he liked to cross off the days
remaining until his return to Hogwarts.
The atmosphere inside number four, Privet Drive was ext remely tense. The
imminent arrival at their house of an assortment of wizards was making the Dursleys
upt ight and irritable. Uncle Vernon had looked downright alarmed when Harry
informed him that the Weasleys would be arriving at five o’clock the very next day.
“I hope you told them to dress properly, these people,” he snarled at once.
“I’ve seen the sort of stuff your lot wear. They’d bet ter have the decency to put on
normal clothes, that’s all.”
Harry felt a slight sense of foreboding. He had rarely seen Mr. or Mrs. Weasley
wearing anything that the Dursleys would call “normal.” Their children might don
Muggle clothing during the holidays, but Mr. and Mrs. Weasley usually wore long robes
in varying states of shabbiness. Harry wasn’t bothered about what the neighbors would
think, but he was anxious about how rude the Dursleys might be to the Weasleys if
they turned up looking like their worst idea of wizards.
Uncle Vernon had put on his best suit . To some people, this might have looked
like a gesture of welcome, but Harry knew it was because Uncle Vernon wanted to look
impressive and int imidat ing. Dudley, on the other hand, looked somehow diminished.
This was not because the diet was at last taking ef fect , but due to fright . Dudley had
emerged from his last encounter with a fully grown wizard with a curly pig’s tail poking
out of the seat of his t rousers, and Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had had to pay for
its removal at a private hospital in London. It wasn’t altogether surprising, therefore,
that Dudley kept running his hand nervously over his backside, and walking sideways
from room to room, so as not to present the same target to the enemy.
Lunch was an almost silent meal. Dudley didn’t even protest at the food
(cot tage cheese and grated celery). Aunt Petunia wasn’t , eat ing anything at all. Her
arms were folded, her lips were pursed, and she seemed to be chewing her tongue, as
though biting back the furious diatribe she longed to throw at Harry.
“They’ll be driving, of course?” Uncle Vernon barked across the table.
“Er,” said Harry.
He hadn’t thought of that . How were the Weasleys going to pick him up? They
didn’t have a car anymore; the old Ford Anglia they had once owned was current ly
running wild in the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts. But Mr. Weasley had borrowed a
Ministry of Magic car last year; possibly he would do the same today?
“I think so,” said Harry.
Uncle Vernon snorted into his mustache. Normally, Uncle Vernon would have
asked what car Mr. Weasley drove; he tended to j udge other men by how big and
expensive their cars were. But Harry doubted whether Uncle Vernon would have taken
to Mr. Weasley even if he drove a Ferrari.
Harry spent most of the afternoon in his bedroom; he couldn’t stand watching
Aunt Petunia peer out through the net curtains every few seconds, as though there had
been a warning about an escaped rhinoceros. Finally, at a quarter to f ive, Harry went
back downstairs and into the living room.
Aunt Petunia was compulsively st raightening cushions. Uncle Vernon was
pretending to read the paper, but his t iny eyes were not moving, and Harry was sure
he was really listening with all his might for the sound of an approaching car. Dudley
was crammed into an armchair, his porky hands beneath him, clamped firmly around
his bot tom. Harry couldn’t take the tension; he lef t the room and went and sat on the
stairs in the hall, his eyes on his watch and his heart pumping fast from excitement
and nerves.
But five o’clock came and then went . Uncle Vernon, perspiring slight ly in his
suit , opened the front door, peered up and down the st reet , then withdrew his head
quickly.
“They’re late!” he snarled at Harry.
I know,” said Harry. “Maybe — er — the traffic’s bad, or something.”
Ten past five … then a quarter past five … Harry was start ing to feel anxious
himself now. At half past, he heard Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia conversing in terse
mutters in the living room.
“No consideration at all.”
“We might’ve had an engagement.”
“Maybe they think they’ll get invited to dinner if they’re late.”
“Well, they most certainly won’t be,” said Uncle Vernon, and Harry heard him
stand up and start pacing the living room. “They’ll take the boy and go, there’ll be no
hanging around. That ‘s if they’re coming at all. Probably mistaken the day. I daresay
t heir kind don’t set much store by punctuality. Either that or they drive some t in-pot
car that’s broken d— AAAAAAAARRRRRGH!”
Harry j umped up. From the other side of the living room door came the sounds
of the three Dursleys scrambling, panic-st ricken, across the room. Next moment
Dudley came flying into the hall, looking terrified.
“What happened?” said Harry. “What’s the matter?”
But Dudley didn’t seem able to speak. Hands still clamped over his buttocks, he
waddled as fast as he could into the kitchen. Harry hurried into the living room.
Loud bangings and scrapings were coming f rom behind the Dursleys’ boarded-up
fireplace, which had a fake coal fire plugged in front of it.
“What is it?” gasped Aunt Petunia, who had backed into the wall and was
staring, terrified, toward the fire. “What is it, Vernon?”
But they were left in doubt barely a second longer. Voices could be heard from
inside the blocked fireplace.
“Ouch! Fred, no —go back, go back, there’s been some kind of mistake —tell
George not to — OUCH! George, no, there’s no room, go back quickly and tell Ron—”
“Maybe Harry can hear us, Dad — maybe he’ll be able to let us out—”
There was a loud hammering of fists on the boards behind the electric fire.
“Harry? Harry, can you hear us?”
The Dursleys rounded on Harry like a pair of angry wolverines.
“What is this?” growled Uncle Vernon. “What’s going on?”
“They —they’ve t ried to get here by Floo powder,” said Harry, fight ing a mad
desire to laugh. “They can travel by fire — only you’ve blocked the fireplace — hang on
—”
He approached the fireplace and called through the boards.
“Mr. Weasley? Can you hear me?”
The hammering stopped. Somebody inside the chimney piece said, “Shh!”
“Mr. Weasley, it ‘s Harry … the f ireplace has been blocked up. You won’t be
able to get through there.”
“Damn!” said Mr. Weasley’s voice. “What on earth did they want to block up the
fireplace for?”
“They’ve got an electric fire,” Harry explained.
“Really?” said Mr. Weasley’s voice excitedly. “Eclect ic, you say? With a plug?
Gracious, I must see that…. Let’s think … ouch, Ron!”
Ron’s voice now joined the others’.
“What are we doing here? Has something gone wrong?”
“Oh no, Ron,” came Fred’s voice, very sarcast ically. “No, this is exact ly where
we wanted to end up.”
“Yeah, we’re having the t ime of our lives here,” said George, whose voice
sounded muffled, as though he was squashed against the wall.
“Boys, boys. . .” said Mr. Weasley vaguely. “I’m t rying to think what to do….
Yes … only way. . . Stand back, Harry.”
Harry retreated to the sofa. Uncle Vernon, however, moved forward.
“Wait a moment!” he bellowed at the fire. “What exactly are you going to —”
BANG.
The elect ric f ire shot across the room as the boarded-up fireplace burst
outward, expelling Mr. Weasley, Fred, George, and Ron in a cloud of rubble and loose
chippings. Aunt Petunia shrieked and fell backward over the coffee table; Uncle
Vernon caught her before she hit the floor, and gaped, speechless, at the Weasleys, all
of whom had bright red hair, including Fred and George, who were identical to the last
freckle.
“That ‘s bet ter,” panted Mr. Weasley, brushing dust from his long green robes
and straightening his glasses. “Ah — you must be Harry’s aunt and uncle!”
Tall, thin, and balding, he moved toward Uncle Vernon, his hand outst retched,
but Uncle Vernon backed away several paces, dragging Aunt Petunia. Words ut terly
failed Uncle Vernon. His best suit was covered in white dust , which had set t led in his
hair and mustache and made him look as though he had just aged thirty years.
“Er —yes —sorry about that ,” said Mr. Weasley, lowering his hand and looking
over his shoulder at the blasted fireplace. “It ‘s all my fault . It j ust didn’t occur to me
that we wouldn’t be able to get out at the other end. I had your fireplace connected
to the Floo Network, you see —j ust for an afternoon, you know, so we could get
Harry. Muggle fireplaces aren’t supposed to be connected, st rict ly speaking —but I’ve
got a useful contact at the Floo Regulat ion Panel and he fixed it for me. I can put it
right in a j iffy, though, don’t worry. I’ll light a fire to send the boys back, and then I
can repair your fireplace before I Disapparate.”
Harry was ready to bet that the Dursleys hadn’t understood a single word of
this. They were st ill gaping at Mr. Weasley, thunderst ruck. Aunt Petunia staggered
upright again and hid behind Uncle Vernon.
“Hello, Harry!” said Mr. Weasley brightly. “Got your trunk ready?”
“It’s upstairs,” said Harry, grinning back.
“We’ll get it ,” said Fred at once. Winking at Harry, he and George left the
room. They knew where Harry’s bedroom was, having once rescued him from it in the
dead of night . Harry suspected that Fred and George were hoping for a glimpse of
Dudley; they had heard a lot about him from Harry.
“Well,” said Mr. Weasley, swinging his arms slightly, while he tried to find words
to break the very nasty silence. “Very — erm — very nice place you’ve got here.”
As the usually spot less living room was now covered in dust and bits of brick,
this remark didn’t go down too well with the Dursleys. Uncle Vernon’s face purpled
once more, and Aunt Petunia started chewing her tongue again. However, they
seemed too scared to actually say anything.
Mr. Weasley was looking around. He loved everything to do with Muggles.
Harry could see him itching to go and examine the television and the video recorder.
“They run off eckelt ricity, do they?” he said knowledgeably. “Ah yes, I can see
the plugs. I collect plugs,” he added to Uncle Vernon. “And bat teries. Got a very large
collection of batteries. My wife thinks I’m mad, but there you are.”
Uncle Vernon clearly thought Mr. Weasley was mad too. He moved ever so
slight ly to the right , screening Aunt Petunia from view, as though he thought Mr.
Weasley might suddenly run at them and attack.
Dudley suddenly reappeared in the room. Harry could hear the clunk of his
t runk on the stairs, and knew that the sounds had scared Dudley out of the kitchen.
Dudley edged along the wall, gazing at Mr. Weasley with terrified eyes, and attempted
to conceal himself behind his mother and father. Unfortunately, Uncle Vernon’s bulk,
while suf ficient to hide bony Aunt Petunia, was nowhere near enough to conceal
Dudley.
“Ah, this is your cousin, is it , Harry?” said Mr. Weasley, taking another brave
stab at making conversation.
“Yep,” said Harry, “that’s Dudley.”
He and Ron exchanged glances and then quickly looked away from each other;
the temptat ion to burst out laughing was almost overwhelming. Dudley was st ill
clutching his bot tom as though afraid it might fall off. Mr. Weasley, however, seemed
genuinely concerned at Dudley’s peculiar behavior. Indeed, from the tone of his voice
when he next spoke, Harry was quite sure that Mr. Weasley thought Dudley was quite
as mad as the Dursleys thought he was, except that Mr. Weasley felt sympathy rather
than fear.
“Having a good holiday, Dudley?” he said kindly.
Dudley whimpered. Harry saw his hands t ighten st ill harder over his massive
backside.
Fred and George came back into the room carrying Harry’s school t runk. They
glanced around as they entered and spotted Dudley. Their faces cracked into identical
evil grins.
“Ah, right,” said Mr. Weasley. “Better get cracking then.”
He pushed up the sleeves of his robes and took out his wand. Harry saw the
Dursleys draw back against the wall as one.
” Incendio!” said Mr. Weasley, point ing his wand at the hole in the wall behind
him.
Flames rose at once in the fireplace, crackling merrily as though they had been
burning for hours. Mr. Weasley took a small drawst ring bag from his pocket , unt ied it ,
took a pinch of the powder inside, and threw it onto the flames, which turned emerald
green and roared higher than ever.
“Off you go then, Fred,” said Mr. Weasley.
“Coming,” said Fred. “Oh no — hang on —”
A bag of sweets had spilled out of Fred’s pocket and the contents were now
rolling in every direction — big, fat toffees in brightly colored wrappers.
Fred scrambled around, cramming them back into his pocket , then gave the
Dursleys a cheery wave, stepped forward, and walked right into the fire, saying “the
Burrow!” Aunt Petunia gave a lit t le shuddering gasp. There was a whooshing sound,
and Fred vanished.
“Right then, George,” said Mr. Weasley, “you and the trunk.”
Harry helped George carry the t runk forward into the flames and turn it onto
its end so that he could hold it bet ter. Then, with a second whoosh, George had cried
“the Burrow!” and vanished too.
“Ron, you next,” said Mr. Weasley.
“See you,” said Ron bright ly to the Dursleys. He grinned broadly at Harry, then
stepped into the fire, shouted “the Burrow!” and disappeared.
Now Harry and Mr. Weasley alone remained.
“Well . . . ‘bye then,” Harry said to the Dursleys.
They didn’t say anything at all. Harry moved toward the fire, but j ust as he
reached the edge of the hearth, Mr. Weasley put out a hand and held him back. He
was looking at the Dursleys in amazement.
“Harry said good-bye to you,” he said. “Didn’t you hear him?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Harry muttered to Mr. Weasley. “Honestly, I don’t care.”
Mr. Weasley did not remove his hand from Harry’s shoulder.
“You aren’t going to see your nephew till next summer,” he said to Uncle Vernon
in mild indignation. “Surely you’re going to say good-bye?”
Uncle Vernon’s face worked furiously. The idea of being taught considerat ion
by a man who had just blasted away half his living room wall seemed to be causing him
intense suffering. But Mr. Weasley’s wand was st ill in his hand, and Uncle Vernon’s t iny
eyes darted to it once, before he said, very resentfully, “Good-bye, then.”
“See you,” said Harry, put t ing one foot forward into the green f lames, which
felt pleasant ly like warm breath. At that moment , however, a horrible gagging sound
erupted behind him, and Aunt Petunia started to scream.
Harry wheeled around. Dudley was no longer standing behind his parents. He
was kneeling beside the coffee table, and he was gagging and sput tering on a foot –
long, purple, slimy thing that was prot ruding from his mouth. One bewildered second
later, Harry realized that the foot-long thing was Dudley’s tongue — and that a brightly
colored toffee wrapper lay on the floor before him.
Aunt Petunia hurled herself onto the ground beside Dudley, seized the end of
his swollen tongue, and at tempted to wrench it out of his mouth; unsurprisingly,
Dudley yelled and sput tered worse than ever, t rying to fight her off. Uncle Vernon was
bellowing and waving his arms around, and Mr. Weasley had to shout to make himself
heard.
“Not to worry, I can sort him out !” he yelled, advancing on Dudley with his
wand outst retched, but Aunt Petunia screamed worse than ever and threw herself on
top of Dudley, shielding him from Mr. Weasley.
“No, really!” said Mr. Weasley desperately. “It ‘s a simple process it was the
toffee — my son Fred — real practical joker — but it’s only an Engorgement Charm — at
least, I think it is —please, I can correct it —”
But far from being reassured, the Dursleys became more panic- st ricken; Aunt
Petunia was sobbing hysterically, tugging Dudley’s tongue as though determined to rip
it out ; Dudley appeared to be suf focat ing under the combined pressure of his mother
and his tongue; and Uncle Vernon, who had lost cont rol completely, seized a china
figure from on top of the sideboard and threw it very hard at Mr. Weasley, who
ducked, causing the ornament to shatter in the blasted fireplace.
“Now really!” said Mr. Weasley angrily, brandishing his wand. “I’m t rying to
help!”
Bellowing like a wounded hippo, Uncle Vernon snatched up another ornament.
“Harry, go! Just go!” Mr. Weasley shouted, his wand on Uncle Vernon. “I’ll sort
this out!”
Harry didn’t want to miss the fun, but Uncle Vernon’s second ornament narrowly
missed his left ear, and on balance he thought it best to leave the situat ion to Mr.
Weasley. He stepped into the fire, looking over his shoulder as he said “the Burrow!”
His last fleet ing glimpse of the living room was of Mr. Weasley blast ing a third
ornament out of Uncle Vernon’s hand with his wand, Aunt Petunia screaming and lying
on top of Dudley, and Dudley’s tongue lolling around like a great slimy python. But
next moment Harry had begun to spin very fast , and the Dursleys’ living room was
whipped out of sight in a rush of emerald-green flames.
CHAPTER FIVE – WEASLEYS’ WIZARD WHEEZES
Harry spun faster and faster, elbows tucked t ight ly to his sides, blurred
fireplaces flashing past him, unt il he started to feel sick and closed his eyes. Then,
when at last he felt himself slowing down, he threw out his hands and came to a halt
in time to prevent himself from falling face forward out of the Weasleys’ kitchen fire.
“Did he eat it?” said Fred excitedly, holding out a hand to pull Harry to his fee
“Yeah,” said Harry, straightening up. “What was it?”
“Ton-Tongue Toffee,” said Fred bright ly. “George and I invented them, and
we’ve been looking for someone to test them on all summer. . . .”
The t iny kitchen exploded with laughter; Harry looked around and saw that Ron
and George were sit t ing at the scrubbed wooden table with two red-haired people
Harry had never seen before, though he knew immediately who they must be: Bill and
Charlie, the two eldest Weasley brothers.
“How’re you doing, Harry?” said the nearer of the two, grinning at him and
holding out a large hand, which Harry shook, feeling calluses and blisters under his
fingers. This had to be Charlie, who worked with dragons in Romania. Charlie was
built like the twins, shorter and stockier than Percy and Ron, who were both long and
lanky. He had a broad, good-natured face, which was weather-beaten and so freckly
that he looked almost tanned; his arms were muscular, and one of them had a large,
shiny burn on it.
Bill got to his feet , smiling, and also shook Harry’s hand. Bill came as
something of a surprise. Harry knew that he worked for the wizarding bank, Gringotts,
and that Bill had been Head Boy at Hogwarts; Harry had always imagined Bill to be an
older version of Percy: fussy about rule-breaking and fond of bossing everyone around.
However, Bill was —there was no other word for it —cool. He was tall, with long hair
that he had tied back in a ponytail. He was wearing an earring with what looked like a
fang dangling from it . Bill’s clothes would not have looked out of place at a rock
concert , except that Harry recognized his boots to be made, not of leather, but of
dragon hide.
Before any of them could say anything else, there was a faint popping noise,
and Mr. Weasley appeared out of thin air at George’s shoulder. He was looking angrier
than Harry had ever seen him.
“That wasn’t funny Fred!” he shouted. “What on earth did you give that Muggle
boy?”
“I didn’t give him anything,” said Fred, with another evil grin. I j ust dropped
it…. It was his fault he went and ate it, I never told him to.”
“You dropped it on purpose!” roared Mr. Weasley. “You knew he’d eat it , you
knew he was on a diet —”
“How big did his tongue get?” George asked eagerly.
“It was four feet long before his parents would let me shrink it!”
Harry and the Weasleys roared with laughter again.
“It isn’t funny!” Mr. Weasley shouted. “That sort of behavior seriously
undermines wizard-Muggle relat ions! I spend half my life campaigning against the
mistreatment of Muggles, and my own sons
“We didn’t give it to him because he’s a Muggle!” said Fred indignantly.
“No, we gave it to him because he’s a great bullying git ,” said George. “Isn’t he,
Harry?”
“Yeah, he is, Mr. Weasley,” said Harry earnestly.
“That’s not the point!” raged Mr. Weasley. “You wait until I tell your mother —”
“Tell me what?” said a voice behind them.
Mrs. Weasley had j ust entered the kitchen. She was a short , plump woman
with a very kind face, though her eyes were presently narrowed with suspicion.
“Oh hello, Harry, dear,” she said, spot t ing him and smiling. Then her eyes
snapped back to her husband. “Tell me what, Arthur?”
Mr. Weasley hesitated. Harry could tell that , however angry he was with Fred
and George, he hadn’t really intended to tell Mrs. Weasley what had happened. There
was a silence, while Mr. Weasley eyed his wife nervously. Then two girls appeared in
the kitchen doorway behind Mrs. Weasley. One, with very bushy brown hair and rather
large front teeth, was Harry’s and Ron’s friend, Hermione Granger. The other, who was
small and red-haired, was Ron’s younger sister, Ginny. Both of them smiled at Harry,
who grinned back, which made Ginny go scarlet —she had been very taken with Harry
ever since his first visit to the Burrow.
“Tell me what, Arthur?” Mrs. Weasley repeated, in a dangerous sort of voice.
“It ‘s nothing, Molly,” mumbled Mr. Weasley, “Fred and George j ust —but I’ve
had words with them —”
“What have they done this t ime?” said Mrs. Weasley. “If it ‘s got anything to do
with Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes —”
“Why don’t you show Harry where he’s sleeping, Ron?” said Hermione f rom the
doorway.
“He knows where he’s sleeping,” said Ron, “in my room, he slept there last —”
“We can all go,” said Hermione pointedly.
“Oh,” said Ron, cottoning on. “Right.”
“Yeah, we’ll come too,” said George.
“You stay where you are!” snarled Mrs. Weasley.
Harry and Ron edged out of the kitchen, and they, Hermione, and Ginny set off
along the narrow hallway and up the rickety staircase that zigzagged through the
house to the upper stories.
“What are Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes?” Harry asked as they climbed.
Ron and Ginny both laughed, although Hermione didn’t.
“Mum found this stack of order forms when she was cleaning Fred and George’s
room,” said Ron quiet ly. “Great long price lists for stuff they’ve invented. Joke stuff,
you know. Fake wands and t rick sweets, loads of stuff. It was brilliant , I never knew
they’d been inventing all that . . .”
“We’ve been hearing explosions out of their room for ages, but we never
thought they were actually making things,” said Ginny. “We thought they just liked the
noise.”
“Only, most of the stuff —well, all of it , really —was a bit dangerous,” said
Ron, “and, you know, they were planning to sell it at Hogwarts to make some money,
and Mum went mad at them. Told them they weren’t allowed to make any more of it ,
and burned all the order forms…. She’s furious at them anyway. They didn’t get as
many O.W.L.s as she expected.”
O.W.L.s were Ordinary Wizarding Levels, the examinat ions Hogwarts students
took at the age of fifteen.
“And then there was this big row,” Ginny said, “because Mum wants them to go
into the Ministry of Magic like Dad, and they told her all they want to do is open a joke
shop.”
Just then a door on the second landing opened, and a face poked out wearing
horn-rimmed glasses and a very annoyed expression.
“Hi, Percy,” said Harry.
“Oh hello, Harry,” said Percy. “I was wondering who was making all the noise.
I’m t rying to work in here, you know I’ve got a report to finish for the office —and it ‘s
rather difficult to concentrate when people keep thundering up and down the stairs.”
“We’re not thundering, “said Ron irritably. “We’re walking. Sorry if we’ve
disturbed the top-secret workings of the Ministry of Magic.”
“What are you working on?” said Harry.
“A report for the Department of Internat ional Magical Cooperat ion,” said Percy
smugly. “We’re trying to standardize cauldron thickness. Some of these foreign imports
are j ust a shade too thin —leakages have been increasing at a rate of almost three
percent a year —”
“That ‘ll change the world, that report will,” said Ron. “Front page of the Daily
Prophet, I expect, cauldron leaks.”
Percy went slightly pink.
“You might sneer, Ron,” he said heatedly, “but unless some sort of internat ional
law is imposed we might well find the market f looded with flimsy, shallow—bottomed
products that seriously endanger —”
“Yeah, yeah, all right ,” said Ron, and he started off upstairs again. Percy
slammed his bedroom door shut . As Harry, Hermione, and Ginny followed Ron up
three more flights of stairs, shouts from the kitchen below echoed up to them. It
sounded as though Mr. Weasley had told Mrs. Weasley about the toffees.
The room at the top of the house where Ron slept looked much as it had the
last t ime that Harry had come to stay: the same posters of Ron’s favorite Quidditch
team, the Chudley Cannons, were whirling and waving on the walls and sloping ceiling,
and the fish tank on the windowsill, which had previously held frog spawn, now
contained one ext remely large frog. Ron’s old rat , Scabbers, was here no more, but
instead there was the t iny gray owl that had delivered Ron’s let ter to Harry in Privet
Drive. It was hopping up and down in a small cage and twittering madly.
“Shut up, Pig,” said Ron, edging his way between two of the four beds that had
been squeezed into the room. “Fred and George are in here with us, because Bill and
Charlie are in their room,” he told Harry. “Percy gets to keep his room all to himself
because he’s got to work.”
“Er — why are you calling that owl Pig?” Harry asked Ron.
“Because he’s being stupid,” said Ginny, “Its proper name is Pigwidgeon.”
“Yeah, and that ‘s not a stupid name at all,” said Ron sarcast ically. “Ginny
named him,” he explained to Harry. “She reckons it ‘s sweet . And I t ried to change it ,
but it was too late, he won’t answer to anything else. So now he’s Pig. I’ve got to keep
him up here because he annoys Errol and Hermes. He annoys me too, come to that.
Pigwidgeon zoomed happily around his cage, hoot ing shrilly. Harry knew Ron
too well to take him seriously. He had moaned continually about his old rat, Scabbers,
but had been most upset when Hermione’s cat , Crookshanks, appeared to have eaten
him.
“Where’s Crookshanks?” Harry asked Hermione now.
“Out in the garden, I expect ,” she said. “He likes chasing gnomes. He’s never
seen any before.”
“Percy’s enj oying work, then?” said Harry, sit t ing down on one of the beds and
watching the Chudley Cannons zooming in and out of the posters on the ceiling.
“Enj oying it?” said Ron darkly. “I don’t reckon he’d come home if Dad didn’t
make him. He’s obsessed. Just don’t get him onto the subj ect of his boss. According
t o Mr. Crouch … as I was saying t o Mr. Crouch … Mr. Crouch is of t he opinion … Mr.
Crouch was telling me … They’ll be announcing their engagement any day now.”
“Have you had a good summer, Harry?” said Hermione. “Did you get our food
parcels and everything?”
“Yeah, thanks a lot, ” said Harry. “They saved my life, those cakes.
“And have you heard from —?” Ron began, but at a look from Hermione he fell
silent . Harry knew Ron had been about to ask about Sirius. Ron and Hermione had
been so deeply involved in helping Sirius escape f rom the Minist ry of Magic that they
were almost as concerned about Harry’s godfather as he was. However, discussing him
in front of Ginny was a bad idea. Nobody but themselves and Professor Dumbledore
knew about how Sirius had escaped, or believed in his innocence.
“I think they’ve stopped arguing,” said Hermione, to cover the awkward
moment , because Ginny was looking curiously from Ron to Harry. “Shall we go down
and help your mum with dinner?”
“Yeah, all right ,” said Ron. The four of them left Ron’s room and went back
downstairs to find Mrs. Weasley alone in the kitchen, looking extremely bad-tempered.
“We’re eat ing out in the garden,” she said when they came in. “There’s j ust not
room for eleven people in here. Could you take the plates outside, girls? Bill and
Charlie are set t ing up the tables. Knives and forks, please, you two,” she said to Ron
and Harry, point ing her wand a lit t le more vigorously than she had intended at a pile
of potatoes in the sink, which shot out of their skins so fast that they ricocheted off
the walls and ceiling.
“Oh for heaven’s sake,” she snapped, now direct ing her wand at a dustpan,
which hopped off the sideboard and started skat ing across the floor, scooping up the
potatoes. “Those two!” she burst out savagely, now pulling pots and pans out of a
cupboard, and Harry knew she meant Fred and George. I don’t know what ‘s going to
happen to them, I really don’t . No ambit ion, unless you count making as much t rouble
as they possibly can….”
Mrs. Weasley slammed a large copper saucepan down on the kitchen table and
began to wave her wand around inside it. A creamy sauce poured from the wand tip as
she stirred.
“It ‘s not as though they haven’t got brains, she cont inued irritably, taking the
saucepan over to the stove and lighting it with a further poke of her wand, “but they’re
wast ing them, and unless they pull themselves together soon, they’ll be in real
t rouble. I’ve had more owls from Hogwarts about them than the rest put together. If
they carry on the way they’re going, they’ll end up in front of the Improper Use of
Magic Office.”
Mrs. Weasley j abbed her wand at the cut lery drawer, which shot open. Harry
and Ron both j umped out of the way as several knives soared out of it , flew across the
kitchen, and began chopping the potatoes, which had j ust been t ipped back into the
sink by the dustpan.
“I don’t know where we went wrong with them,” said Mrs. Weasley, put t ing
down her wand and start ing to pull out st ill more saucepans. “It ‘s been the same for
years, one thing after another, and they won’t listen to — OH NOT AGAIN!”
She had picked up her wand f rom the table, and it had emit ted a loud squeak
and turned into a giant rubber mouse.
“One of their fake wands again!” she shouted. “How many t imes have I told
them not to leave them lying around?”
She grabbed her real wand and turned around to find that the sauce on the
stove was smoking.
“C’mon,” Ron said hurriedly to Harry, seizing a handful of cut lery from the open
drawer, “let’s go and help Bill and Charlie.”
They left Mrs. Weasley and headed out the back door into the yard.
They had only gone a few paces when Hermione’s bandy-legged ginger cat ,
Crookshanks, came pelt ing out of the garden, bot t le-brush tail held high in the air,
chasing what looked like a muddy potato on legs. Harry recognized it instant ly as a
gnome. Barely ten inches high, its horny lit t le feet pat tered very fast as it sprinted
across the yard and dived headlong into one of the Wellington boots that lay scat tered
around the door. Harry could hear the gnome giggling madly as Crookshanks inserted a
paw into the boot , t rying to reach it . Meanwhile, a very loud crashing noise was
coming from the other side of the house. The source of the commot ion was revealed
as they entered the garden, and saw that Bill and Charlie both had their wands out ,
and were making two bat tered old tables fly high above the lawn, smashing into each
other, each at tempt ing to knock the other’s out of the air. Fred and George were
cheering, Ginny was laughing, and Hermione was hovering near the hedge, apparent ly
torn between amusement and anxiety.
Bill’s table caught Charlie’s with a huge bang and knocked one of its legs off.
There was a clat ter from overhead, and they all looked up to see Percy’s head poking
out of a window on the second floor.
“Will you keep it down?!” he bellowed.
“Sorry, Perce,” said Bill, grinning. “How’re the cauldron bottoms coming on?”
“Very badly,” said Percy peevishly, and he slammed the window shut .
Chuckling, Bill and Charlie directed the tables safely onto the grass, end to end, and
then, with a flick of his wand, Bill reat tached the table leg and conj ured tablecloths
from nowhere.
By seven o’clock, the two tables were groaning under dishes and dishes of Mrs.
Weasley’s excellent cooking, and the nine Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione were settling
themselves down to eat beneath a clear, deep-blue sky. To somebody who had been
living on meals of increasingly stale cake all summer, this was paradise, and at first ,
Harry listened rather than talked as he helped himself to chicken and ham pie, boiled
potatoes, and salad.
At the far end of the table, Percy was telling his father all about his report on
cauldron bottoms.
“I’ve told Mr. Crouch that I’ll have it ready by Tuesday,” Percy was saying
pompously. “That’s a bit sooner than he expected it, but I like to keep on top of things.
I think he’ll be grateful I’ve done it in good t ime, I mean, its ext remely busy in our
department j ust now, what with all the arrangements for the World Cup. We’re j ust
not get t ing the support we need from the Department of Magical Games and Sports.
Ludo Bagman —”
“I like Ludo,” said Mr. Weasley mildly. “He was the one who got us such good
t ickets for the Cup. I did him a bit of a favor: His brother, Ot to, got into a spot of
trouble — a lawnmower with unnatural powers — I smoothed the whole thing over.”
“Oh Bagman’s likable enough, of course,” said Percy dismissively, “but how he
ever got to be Head of Department … when I compare him to Mr. Crouch! I can’t see
Mr. Crouch losing a member of our department and not t rying to find out what ‘s
happened to them. You realize Bertha Jorkins has been missing for over a month now?
Went on holiday to Albania and never came back?”
“Yes, I was asking Ludo about that ,” said Mr. Weasley, frowning. “He says
Bertha’s got ten lost plenty of t imes before now —though must say, if it was someone
in my department, I’d be worried. . . .”
“Oh Bertha’s hopeless, all right ,” said Percy. “I hear she’s been shunted from
department to department for years, much more t rouble than she’s worth … but all
the same, Bagman ought to be t rying to find her. Mr. Crouch has been taking a
personal interest , she worked in our department at one t ime, you know, and I think
Mr. Crouch was quite fond of her —but Bagman j ust keeps laughing and saying she
probably misread the map and ended up in Aust ralia instead of Albania. However” —
Percy heaved an impressive sigh and took a deep swig of elderflower wine — “we’ve got
quite enough on our plates at the Department of Internat ional Magical Cooperat ion
without t rying to find members of other departments too. As you know, we’ve got
another big event to organize right after the World Cup.”
Percy cleared his throat significant ly and looked down toward the end of the
table where Harry, Ron, and Hermione were sit t ing. “You know the one I’m talking
about, Father.” He raised his voice slightly. “The top-secret one.”
Ron rolled his eyes and mut tered to Harry and Hermione, “He’s been t rying to
get us to ask what that event is ever since he started work. Probably an exhibit ion of
thick-bottomed cauldrons.”
In the middle of the table, Mrs. Weasley was arguing with Bill about his earring,
which seemed to be a recent acquisition.
“. . . with a horrible great fang on it . Really, Bill, what do they say at the
bank?”
“Mum,.no one at the bank gives a damn how I dress as long as I bring home
plenty of treasure,” said Bill patiently.
“And your hair’s get t ing silly, dear,” said Mrs. Weasley, fingering her wand
lovingly.” I wish you’d let me give it a trim. . . .”
“I like it ,” said Ginny, who was sit t ing beside Bill. “You’re so old-fashioned,
Mum. Anyway, it’s nowhere near as long as Professor Dumbledore’s….”
Next to Mrs. Weasley, Fred, George, and Charlie were all talking spiritedly
about the World Cup.
“It ‘s got to be Ireland,” said Charlie thickly, through a mouthful of potato.
“They flattened Peru in the semifinals.”
“Bulgaria has got Viktor Krum, though,” said Fred.
“Krum’s one decent player, Ireland has got seven,” said Charlie short ly. “I wish
England had got through. That was embarrassing, that was.”
“What happened?” said Harry eagerly, regret t ing more than ever his isolat ion
from the wizarding world when he was stuck on Privet Drive.
“Went down to Transylvania, three hundred and ninety to ten,” said Charlie
gloomily. “Shocking performance. And Wales lost to Uganda, and Scot land was
slaughtered by Luxembourg.”
Harry had been on the Gryffindor House Quidditch team ever since his first year
at Hogwarts and owned one of the best racing brooms in the world, a Firebolt . Flying
came more naturally to Harry than anything else in the magical world, and he played
in the position of Seeker on the Gryffindor House team.
Mr. Weasley conj ured up candles to light the darkening garden before they had
their homemade st rawberry ice cream, and by the t ime they had finished, moths were
flut tering low over the table, and the warm air was perfumed with the smells of grass
and honeysuckle. Harry was feeling extremely well fed and at peace with the world as
he watched several gnomes sprint ing through the rosebushes, laughing madly and
closely pursued by Crookshanks.
Ron looked carefully up the table to check that the rest of the family were all
busy talking, then he said very quiet ly to Harry, “So —have you heard f rom Sirius
lately?”
Hermione looked around, listening closely.
“Yeah,” said Harry sof t ly, “twice. He sounds okay. I wrote to him yesterday.
He might write back while I’m here.”
He suddenly remembered the reason he had writ ten to Sirius, and for a
moment was on the verge of telling Ron and Hermione about his scar hurt ing again,
and about the dream that had awoken him … but he really didn’t want to worry them
just now, not when he himself was feeling so happy and peaceful.
“Look at the t ime,” Mrs. Weasley said suddenly, checking her wristwatch. “You
really should be in bed, the whole lot of you you’ll be up at the crack of dawn to get to
the Cup. Harry, if you leave your school list out, I’ll get your things for you tomorrow in
Diagon Alley. I’m get t ing everyone else’s. There might not be t ime after the World
Cup, the match went on for five days last time.”
“Wow — hope it does this time!” said Harry enthusiastically.
“Well, I certainly don’t ,” said Percy sanct imoniously. “I shudder to think what
the state of my in-tray would be if I was away from work for five days.”
“Yeah, someone might slip dragon dung in it again, eh, Perce?” said Fred.
“That was a sample of fertilizer from Norway!” said Percy, going very red in the
face. “It was nothing personal!”
“It was,” Fred whispered to Harry as they got up from the table. “We sent it.”
CHAPTER SIX – THE PORTKEY
Harry felt as though he had barely lain down to steep in Ron’s room when he
was being shaken awake by Mrs. Weasley.
“Time to go, Harry, dear,” she whispered, moving away to wake Ron.
Harry felt around for his glasses, put them on, and sat up. It was st ill dark
outside. Ron mut tered indist inct ly as his mother roused him. At the foot of Harry’s
mattress he saw two large, disheveled shapes emerging from tangles of blankets.
“‘S’ time already?” said Fred groggily.
They dressed in silence, too sleepy to talk, then, yawning and st retching, the
four of them headed downstairs into the kitchen.
Mrs. Weasley was st irring the contents of a large pot on the stove, while Mr.
Weasley was sit t ing at the table, checking a sheaf of large parchment t ickets. He
looked up as the boys entered and spread his arms so that they could see his clothes
more clearly. He was wearing what appeared to be a golfing sweater and a very old
pair of jeans, slightly too big for him and held up with a thick leather belt.
“What d’you think?” he asked anxiously. “We’re supposed to go incognito —do I
look like a Muggle, Harry?”
“Yeah,” said Harry, smiling, “very good.”
“Where’re Bill and Charlie and Per—Per—Percy?” said George, failing to st ifle a
huge yawn.
“Well, they’re Apparat ing, aren’t they?” said Mrs. Weasley, heaving the large
pot over to the table and start ing to ladle porridge into bowls. “So they can have a bit
of a lie-in.”
Harry knew that Apparat ing meant disappearing from one place and
reappearing almost instant ly in another, but had never known any Hogwarts student to
do it, and understood that it was very difficult.
“So they’re st ill in bed?” said Fred grumpily, pulling his bowl of porridge toward
him. “Why can’t we Apparate too?”
“Because you’re not of age and you haven’t passed your test ,” snapped Mrs.
Weasley. “And where have those girls got to?”
She bustled out of the kitchen and they heard her climbing the stairs.
“You have to pass a test to Apparate?” Harry asked.
“Oh yes,” said Mr. Weasley, tucking the t ickets safely into the back pocket of
his j eans. “The Department of Magical Transportat ion had to fine a couple of people
the other day for Apparat ing without a license. It ‘s not easy, Apparit ion, and when it ‘s
not done property it can lead to nasty complicat ions. This pair I’m talking about went
and splinched themselves.”
Everyone around the table except Harry winced.
“Er —splinched?” said Harry.
“They left half of themselves behind,” said Mr. Weasley, now spooning large
amounts of t reacle onto his porridge. “So, of course, they were stuck. Couldn’t move
either way. Had to wait for the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to sort them out .
Meant a fair old bit of paperwork, I can tell you, what with the Muggles who spot ted
the body parts they’d left behind…..”
Harry had a sudden vision of a pair of legs and an eyeball lying abandoned on
the pavement of Privet Drive.
“Were they okay?” he asked, startled.
“Oh yes,” said Mr. Weasley mat ter-of-fact ly. “But they got a heavy fine, and I
don’t think they’ll be t rying it again in a hurry. You don’t mess around with Apparition.
There are plenty of adult wizards who don’t bother with it . Prefer brooms —slower,
but safer.”
“But Bill and Charlie and Percy can all do it?”
“Charlie had to take the test twice,” said Fred, grinning. “He failed the f irst
t ime. Apparated five miles south of where he meant to, right on top of some poor old
dear doing her shopping, remember?”
“Yes, well, he passed the second t ime,” said Mrs. Weasley, marching back into
the kitchen amid hearty sniggers.
“Percy only passed two weeks ago,” said George. “He’s been Apparat ing
downstairs every morning since, just to prove he can.”
There were footsteps down the passageway and Hermione and Ginny came into
the kitchen, both looking pale and drowsy.
“Why do we have to be up so early?” Ginny said, rubbing her eyes and sit t ing
down at the table.
“We’ve got a bit of a walk,” said Mr. Weasley.
“Walk?” said Harry. “What, are we walking to the World Cup?”
“No, no, that ‘s miles away,” said Mr. Weasley, smiling. “We only need to walk a
short way. It ‘s j ust that it ‘s very diff icult for a large number of wizards to congregate
without at t ract ing Muggle at tent ion. We have to be very careful about how we t ravel
at the best of times, and on a huge occasion like the Quidditch World Cup…”
“George!” said Mrs. Weasley sharply, and they all jumped.
“What?” said George, in an innocent tone that deceived nobody.
“What is that in your pocket?”
“Nothing!”
“Don’t you lie to me!”
Mrs. Weasley pointed her wand at George’s pocket and said, “Accio!”
Several small, brightly colored objects zoomed out of George’s pocket; he made
a grab for them but missed, and they sped right into Mrs. Weasley’s outstretched hand.
“We told you to dest roy them!” said Mrs. Weasley furiously, holding up what
were unmistakably more Ton-Tongue Toffees. “We told you to get rid of the lot! Empty
your pockets, go on, both of you!”
It was an unpleasant scene; the twins had evident ly been t rying to smuggle as
many toffees out of the house as possible, and it was only by using her Summoning
Charm that Mrs. Weasley managed to find them all.
“Accio! Accio! Accio!” she shouted, and toffees zoomed from all sorts of unlikely
places, including the lining of George’s jacket and the turn-ups of Fred’s jeans.
“We spent six months developing those!” Fred shouted at his mother as she
threw the toffees away.
“Oh a fine way to spend six months!” she shrieked. “No wonder you didn’t get
more O.W.L.s!”
All in all, the atmosphere was not very friendly as they took their departure.
Mrs. Weasley was st ill glowering as she kissed Mr. Weasley on the cheek, though not
nearly as much as the twins, who had each hoisted their rucksacks onto their backs
and walked out without a word to her.
“Well, have a lovely t ime,” said Mrs. Weasley, “and behave yourselves,” she
called after the twins’ retreating backs, but they did not look back or answer. “I’ll send
Bill, Charlie, and Percy along around midday,” Mrs. Weasley said to Mr. Weasley, as
he, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny set of f across the dark yard af ter Fred and
George.
It was chilly and the moon was st ill out . Only a dull, greenish t inge along the
horizon to their right showed that daybreak was drawing closer. Harry, having been
thinking about thousands of wizards speeding toward the Quidditch World Cup, sped up
to walk with Mr. Weasley.
“So how does everyone get there without all the Muggles noticing?” he asked.
“It ‘s been a massive organizat ional problem,” sighed Mr. Weasley. “The t rouble
is, about a hundred thousand wizards turn up at the World Cup, and of course, we j ust
haven’t got a magical site big enough to accommodate them all. There are places
Muggles can’t penet rate, but imagine t rying to pack a hundred thousand wizards into
Diagon Alley or plat form nine and three-quarters. So we had to find a nice deserted
moor, and set up as many ant i-Muggle precaut ions as possible. The whole Minist ry’s
been working on it for months. First , of course, we have to stagger the arrivals.
People with cheaper t ickets have to arrive two weeks beforehand. A limited number
use Muggle t ransport , but we can’t have too many clogging up their buses and t rains—
remember, wizards are coming from all over the world. Some Apparate, of course,
but we have to set up safe points for them to appear, well away from Muggles. I
believe there’s a handy wood they’re using as the Apparit ion point . For those who
don’t want to Apparate, or can’t , we use Portkeys. They’re obj ects that are used to
t ransport wizards f rom one spot to another at a prearranged t ime. You can do large
groups at a t ime if you need to. There have been two hundred Portkeys placed at
st rategic points around Britain, and the nearest one to us is up at the top of
Stoatshead Hill, so that’s where we’re headed.”
Mr. Weasley pointed ahead of them, where a large black mass rose beyond the
village of Ottery St. Catchpole.
“What sort of objects are Portkeys?” said Harry curiously.
“Well, they can be anything,” said Mr. Weasley. “Unobt rusive things, obviously,
so Muggles don’t go picking them up and playing with them … stuff they’ll j ust think is
litter….”
They t rudged down the dark, dank lane toward the village, the silence broken
only by their footsteps. The sky lightened very slowly as they made their way through
the village, its inky blackness dilut ing to deepest blue. Harry’s hands and feet were
freezing. Mr. Weasley kept checking his watch.
They didn’t have breath to spare for talking as they began to climb Stoatshead
Hill, stumbling occasionally in hidden rabbit holes, slipping on thick black tuffets of
grass. Each breath Harry took was sharp in his chest and his legs were starting to seize
up when, at last, his feet found level ground.
“Whew,” panted Mr. Weasley, taking off his glasses and wiping them on his
sweater. “Well, we’ve made good time — we’ve got ten minutes.”
Hermione came over the crest of the hill last, clutching a stitch in her side.
“Now we j ust need the Portkey,” said Mr. Weasley, replacing his glasses and
squinting around at the ground. “It won’t be big…. Come on…”
They spread out , searching. They had only been at it for a couple of minutes,
however, when a shout rent the still air.
“Over here, Arthur! Over here, son, we’ve got it.”
Two tall figures were silhouet ted against the starry sky on the other side of the
hilltop.
“Amos!” said Mr. Weasley, smiling as he st rode over to the man who had
shouted. The rest of them followed.
Mr. Weasley was shaking hands with a ruddy-faced wizard with a scrubby brown
beard, who was holding a moldy-looking old boot in his other hand.
“This is Amos Diggory, everyone,” said Mr. Weasley. “He works for the
Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. And I think you know
his son, Cedric?”
Cedric Diggory was an ext remely handsome boy of around seventeen. He was
Captain and Seeker of the Hufflepuff House Quidditch team at Hogwarts.
“Hi,” said Cedric, looking around at them all.
Everybody said hi back except Fred and George, who merely nodded. They had
never quite forgiven Cedric for beat ing their team, Gryffindor, in the f irst Quidditch
match of the previous year.
“Long walk, Arthur?” Cedric’s father asked. “Not too bad,” said Mr. Weasley.
“We live just on the other side of the village there. You?”
“Had to get up at two, didn’t we, Ced? I tell you, I’ll be glad when he’s got his
Apparit ion test . St ill … not complaining … Quidditch World Cup, wouldn’t miss it for
a sackful of Galleons —and the t ickets cost about that . Mind you, looks like I got off
easy. . . .” Amos Diggory peered good-naturedly around at the three Weasley boys,
Harry, Hermione, and Ginny. “All these yours, Arthur?”
“Oh no, only the redheads,” said Mr. Weasley, point ing out his children. “This is
Hermione, friend of Ron’s — and Harry, another friend —”
“Merlin’s beard,” said Amos Diggory, his eyes widening. “Harry? Harry Potter?”
“Er — yeah,” said Harry.
Harry was used to people looking curiously at him when they met him, used to
the way their eyes moved at once to the lightning scar on his forehead, but it always
made him feel uncomfortable.
“Ced’s talked about you, of course,” said Amos Diggory. “Told us all about
playing against you last year… I said to him, I said —Ced, that ‘ll be something to tell
your grandchildren, that will…. You beat Harry Potter!”
Harry couldn’t think of any reply to this, so he remained silent . Fred and
George were both scowling again. Cedric looked slightly embarrassed.
“Harry fell off his broom, Dad,” he mut tered. I told you … it was an
accident….”
“Yes, but you didn’t fall off, did you?” roared Amos genially, slapping his son on
his back. “Always modest, our Ced, always the gentleman … but the best man won, I’m
sure Harry’d say the same, wouldn’t you, eh? One falls off his broom, one stays on, you
don’t need to be a genius to tell which one’s the better flier!”
“Must be nearly t ime,” said Mr. Weasley quickly, pulling out his watch again.
“Do you know whether we’re waiting for any more, Amos?”
“No, the Lovegoods have been there for a week already and the Fawcet ts
couldn’t get t ickets,” said Mr. Diggory. “There aren’t any more of us in this area, are
there?”
“Not that I know of,” said Mr. Weasley. “Yes, it ‘s a minute of f … We’d bet ter
get ready….”
He looked around at Harry and Hermione.
“You just need to touch the Portkey, that’s all, a finger will do —”
With diff iculty, owing to their bulky backpacks, the nine of them crowded
around the old boot held out by Amos Diggory.
They all stood there, in a t ight circle, as a chill breeze swept over the hilltop.
Nobody spoke. It suddenly occurred to Harry how odd this would look if a Muggle were
to walk up here now … nine people, two of them grown men, clutching this manky old
boot in the semidarkness, waiting….
“Three. . .” muttered Mr. Weasley, one eye still on his watch, two. . . one. . .”
It happened immediately: Harry felt as though a hook just behind his navel had
been suddenly j erked irresist ibly forward. His feet left the ground; he could feel Ron
and Hermione on either side of him, their shoulders banging into his; they were all
speeding forward in a howl of wind and swirling color; his forefinger was stuck to the
boot as though it was pulling him magnetically onward and then —
His feet slammed into the ground; Ron staggered into him and he fell over; the
Portkey hit the ground near his head with a heavy thud.
Harry looked up. Mr. Weasley, Mr. Diggory, and Cedric were st ill standing,
though looking very windswept; everybody else was on the ground.
“Seven past five from Stoatshead Hill,” said a voice.
CHAPTER SEVEN – BAGMAN AND CROUCH
Harry disentangled himself f rom Ron and got to his feet . They had arrived on
what appeared to be a deserted st retch of misty moor. In f ront of them was a pair of
t ired and grumpy-looking wizards, one of whom was holding a large gold watch, the
other a thick roll of parchment and a quill. Both were dressed as Muggles, though very
inexpert ly: The man with the watch wore a tweed suit with thigh-length galoshes; his
colleague, a kilt and a poncho.
“Morning, Basil,” said Mr. Weasley, picking up the boot and handing it to the
kilted wizard, who threw it into a large box of used Portkeys beside him; Harry could
see an old newspaper, an empty drinks can, and a punctured football.
“Hello there, Arthur,” said Basil wearily. “Not on duty, eh? It ‘s all right for
some…. We’ve been here all night …. You’d bet ter get out of the way, we’ve got a big
party coming in from the Black Forest at five fifteen. Hang on, I’ll find your
campsite…. Weasley … Weasley….” He consulted his parchment list . “About a
quarter of a mile’s walk over there, f irst f ield you come to. Site manager’s called Mr.
Roberts. Diggory … second field … ask for Mr. Payne.”
“Thanks, Basil,” said Mr. Weasley, and he beckoned everyone to follow him.
They set off across the deserted moor, unable to make out much through the
mist . After about twenty minutes, a small stone cot tage next to a gate swam into
view. Beyond it , Harry could j ust make out the ghost ly shapes of hundreds and
hundreds of tents, rising up the gentle slope of a large field toward a dark wood on the
horizon. They said good-bye to the Diggorys and approached the cottage door.
A man was standing in the doorway, looking out at the tents. Harry knew at a
glance that this was the only real Muggle for several acres. When he heard their
footsteps, he turned his head to look at them.
“Morning!” said Mr. Weasley brightly.
“Morning,” said the Muggle.
“Would you be Mr. Roberts?”
“Aye, I would,” said Mr. Roberts. “And who’re you?”
“Weasley — two tents, booked a couple of days ago?”
“Aye,” said Mr. Roberts, consult ing a list tacked to the door. “You’ve got a
space up by the wood there. Just the one night?”
“That’s it,” said Mr. Weasley.
“You’ll be paying now, then?” said Mr. Roberts.
“Ah — right —certainly —” said Mr. Weasley. He retreated a short distance from
the cottage and beckoned Harry toward him. “Help me, Harry,” he muttered, pulling a
roll of Muggle money from his pocket and start ing to peel the notes apart . “This one’s
a — a — a ten? Ah yes, I see the little number on it now… So this is a five?”
“A twenty,” Harry corrected him in an undertone, uncomfortably aware of Mr.
Roberts trying to catch every word.
“Ah yes, so it is…. I don’t know, these little bits of paper…”
“You foreign?” said Mr. Roberts as Mr. Weasley returned with the correct notes.
“Foreign?” repeated Mr. Weasley, puzzled.
“You’re not the first one who’s had t rouble with money,” said Mr. Roberts,
scrut inizing Mr. Weasley closely. “I had two t ry and pay me with great gold coins the
size of hubcaps ten minutes ago.”
“Did you really?” said Mr. Weasley nervously.
Mr. Roberts rummaged around in a tin for some change.
“Never been this crowded,” he said suddenly, looking out over the misty field
again. “Hundreds of pre-bookings. People usually just turn up….”
“Is that right?” said Mr. Weasley, his hand held out for his change, but Mr.
Roberts didn’t give it to him.
“Aye,” he said thoughtfully. “People from all over. Loads of foreigners. And not
j ust foreigners. Weirdos, you know? There’s a bloke walking ’round in a kilt and a
poncho.”
“Shouldn’t he?” said Mr. Weasley anxiously
“It ‘s like some sort of… I dunno … like some sort of rally,” said Mr. Roberts.
“They all seem to know each other. Like a big party.”
At that moment , a wizard in plus-fours appeared out of thin air next to Mr.
Roberts’s front door.
“Obliviate!” he said sharply, pointing his wand at Mr. Roberts.
Instant ly, Mr. Roberts’s eyes slid out of focus, his brows unknit ted, and a took
of dreamy unconcern fell over his face. Harry recognized the symptoms of one who
had just had his memory modified.
“A map of the campsite for you,” Mr. Roberts said placidly to Mr. Weasley. “And
your change.”
“Thanks very much,” said Mr. Weasley.
The wizard in plus-fours accompanied them toward the gate to the campsite.
He looked exhausted: His chin was blue with stubble and there were deep purple
shadows under his eyes. Once out of earshot of Mr. Roberts, he mut tered to Mr.
Weasley, “Been having a lot of t rouble with him. Needs a Memory Charm ten t imes a
day to keep him happy. And Ludo Bagman’s not helping. Trotting around talking about
Bludgers and Quaffles at the top of his voice, not a worry about ant i-Muggle security
Blimey, I’ll be glad when this is over. See you later, Arthur.”
He Disapparated.
“I thought Mr. Bagman was Head of Magical Games and Sports,” said Ginny,
looking surprised. “He should know bet ter than to talk about Bludgers near Muggles,
shouldn’t he?”
“He should,” said Mr. Weasley, smiling, and leading them through the gates into
the campsite, “but Ludo’s always been a bit … well . . . lax about security. You
couldn’t wish for a more enthusiast ic head of the sports department though. He
played Quidditch for England himself , you know. And he was the best Beater the
Wimbourne Wasps ever had.”
They t rudged up the misty field between long rows of tents. Most looked
almost ordinary; their owners had clearly t ried to make them as Muggle-like as
possible, but had slipped up by adding chimneys, or bellpulls, or weather vanes.
However, here and there was a tent so obviously magical that Harry could hardly be
surprised that Mr. Roberts was get t ing suspicious. Halfway up the field stood an
ext ravagant confect ion of st riped silk like a miniature palace, with several live
peacocks tethered at the ent rance. A lit t le farther on they passed a tent that had
three floors and several turrets; and a short way beyond that was a tent that had a
front garden attached, complete with birdbath, sundial, and fountain.
“Always the same,” said Mr. Weasley, smiling. “We can’t resist showing off when
we get together. Ah, here we are, look, this is us.”
They had reached the very edge of the wood at the top of the field, and here
was an empty space, with a small sign hammered into the ground that read WEEZLY.
“Couldn’t have a better spot!” said Mr. Weasley happily. “The field is just on the
other side of the wood there, we’re as close as we could be.” He hoisted his backpack
from his shoulders. “Right,” he said excitedly, “no magic allowed, strictly speaking, not
when we’re out in these numbers on Muggle land. We’ll be put t ing these tents up by
hand! Shouldn’t be too difficult …. Muggles do it all the t ime…. Here, Harry, where
do you reckon we should start?”
Harry had never been camping in his life; the Dursleys had never taken him on
any kind of holiday, preferring to leave him with Mrs. Figg, an old neighbor. However,
he and Hermione worked out where most of the poles and pegs should go, and though
Mr. Weasley was more of a hindrance than a help, because he got thoroughly
overexcited when it came to using the mallet , they finally managed to erect a pair of
shabby two-man tents.
All of them stood back to admire their handiwork. Nobody looking at these
tents would guess they belonged to wizards, Harry thought , but the t rouble was that
once Bill, Charlie, and Percy arrived, they would be a party of ten. Hermione seemed
to have spot ted this problem too; she gave Harry a quizzical look as Mr. Weasley
dropped to his hands and knees and entered the first tent.
“We’ll be a bit cramped,” he called, “but I think we’ll all squeeze in. Come and
have a look.”
Harry bent down, ducked under the tent f lap, and felt his j aw drop. He had
walked into what looked like an old-fashioned, three room flat , complete with
bathroom and kitchen. Oddly enough, it was furnished in exactly the same sort of style
as Mrs. Figg’s house: There were crocheted covers on the mismatched chairs and a
strong smell of cats.
“Well, it ‘s not for long,” said Mr. Weasley, mopping his bald patch with a
handkerchief and peering in at the four bunk beds that stood in the bedroom. I
borrowed this f rom Perkins at the of fice. Doesn’t camp much anymore, poor fellow,
he’s got lumbago.”
He picked up the dusty kettle and peered inside it. “We’ll need water….
“There’s a tap marked on this map the Muggle gave us,” said Ron, who had
followed Harry inside the tent and seemed completely unimpressed by its
extraordinary inner proportions. “It’s on the other side of the field.”
“Well, why don’t you, Harry, and Hermione go and get us some water then” —
Mr. Weasley handed over the ket t le and a couple of saucepans —”and the rest of us
will get some wood for a fire?”
“But we’ve got an oven,” said Ron. “Why can’t we just —”
“Ron, ant i-Muggle security!” said Mr. Weasley, his face shining with
ant icipat ion. “When real Muggles camp, they cook on fires outdoors. I’ve seen them at
it!”
After a quick tour of the girls’ tent , which was slight ly smaller than the boys’,
though without the smell of cats, Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off across the
campsite with the kettle and saucepans.
Now, with the sun newly risen and the mist lift ing, they could see the city of
tents that st retched in every direct ion. They made their way slowly through the rows,
staring eagerly around. It was only j ust dawning on Harry how many witches and
wizards there must be in the world; he had never really thought much about those in
other countries.
Their fellow campers were start ing to wake up. First to st ir were the families
with small children; Harry had never seen witches and wizards this young before. A
t iny boy no older than two was crouched outside a large pyramid-shaped tent , holding
a wand and poking happily at a slug in the grass, which was swelling slowly to the size
of a salami. As they drew level with him, his mother came hurrying out of the tent.
“How many times, Kevin? You don’t —touch —Daddy’s —wand — yecchh! ”
She had t rodden on the giant slug, which burst . Her scolding carried after
them on the st ill air, mingling with the lit t le boy’s yells —”You bust slug! You bust
slug!”
A short way farther on, they saw two lit t le witches, barely older than Kevin,
who were riding toy broomst icks that rose only high enough for the girls’ toes to skim
the dewy grass. A Minist ry wizard had already spot ted them; as he hurried past Harry,
Ron, and Hermione he mut tered dist ractedly, “In broad daylight ! Parents having a liein,
I suppose —”
Here and there adult wizards and witches were emerging from their tents and
start ing to cook breakfast . Some, with furt ive looks around them, conj ured fires with
their wands; others were st riking matches with dubious looks on their faces, as though
sure this couldn’t work. Three Af rican wizards sat in serious conversat ion, all of them
wearing long white robes and roasting what looked like a rabbit on a bright purple fire,
while a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a
spangled banner st retched between their tents that read: THE SALEM WITCHES’
INSTITUTE. Harry caught snatches of conversation in strange languages from the inside
of tents they passed, and though he couldn’t understand a word, the tone of every
single voice was excited.
“Er — is it my eyes, or has everything gone green?” said Ron.
It wasn’t j ust Ron’s eyes. They had walked into a patch of tents that were all
covered with a thick growth of shamrocks, so that it looked as though small, oddly
shaped hillocks had sprouted out of the earth. Grinning faces could be seen under
those that had their flaps open. Then, from behind them, they heard their names.
“Harry! Ron! Hermione!”
It was Seamus Finnigan, their fellow Gryffindor fourth year. He was sit t ing in
front of his own shamrock-covered tent , with a sandy-haired woman who had to be his
mother, and his best friend, Dean Thomas, also of Gryffindor.
“Like the decorations?” said Seamus, grinning. “The Ministry’s not too happy.”
“Ah, why shouldn’t we show our colors?” said Mrs. Finnigan. “You should see
what the Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents. You’ll be support ing
Ireland, of course?” she added, eyeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione beadily. When they
had assured her that they were indeed support ing Ireland, they set off again, though,
as Ron said, “Like we’d say anything else surrounded by that lot .” I wonder what the
Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents?” said Hermione.
“Let’s go and have a look,” said Harry, pointing to a large patch of tents upfield,
where the Bulgarian flag — white, green, and red — was fluttering in the breeze.
The tents here had not been bedecked with plant life, but each and every one
of them had the same poster at tached to it , a poster of a very surly face with heavy
black eyebrows. The picture was, of course, moving, but all it did was blink and scowl.
“Krum,” said Ron quietly.
“What?” said Hermione.
“Krum!” said Ron. “Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker!”
“He looks really grumpy,” said Hermione, looking around at the many Krums
blinking and scowling at them.
“‘Really grumpy?” Ron raised his eyes to the heavens. “Who cares what he looks
like? He’s unbelievable. He’s really young too. Only just eighteen or something. He’s a
genius, you wait until tonight, you’ll see.”
There was already a small queue for the tap in the corner of the field. Harry,
Ron, and Hermione j oined it , right behind a pair of men who were having a heated
argument . One of them was a very old wizard who was wearing a long flowery
nightgown. The other was clearly a Minist ry wizard; he was holding out a pair of
pinstriped trousers and almost crying with exasperation.
“Just put them on, Archie, there’s a good chap. You can’t walk around like
that, the Muggle at the gate’s already getting suspicious —
I bought this in a Muggle shop,” said the old wizard stubbornly. “Muggles wear
them.”
“Muggle women wear them, Archie, not the men, they wear these,” said the
Ministry wizard, and he brandished the pinstriped trousers.
“I’m not put t ing them on,” said old Archie in indignat ion. “I like a healthy
breeze ’round my privates, thanks.”
Hermione was overcome with such a st rong fit of the giggles at this point that
she had to duck out of the queue and only returned when Archie had collected his
water and moved away.
Walking more slowly now, because of the weight of the water, they made their
way back through the campsite. Here and there, they saw more familiar faces: other
Hogwarts students with their families. Oliver Wood, the old captain of Harry’s House
Quidditch team, who had j ust left Hogwarts, dragged Harry over to his parents’ tent to
int roduce him, and told him excitedly that he had j ust been signed to the Puddlemere
United reserve team. Next they were hailed by Ernie Macmillan, a Huf flepuff fourth
year, and a lit t le farther on they saw Cho Chang, a very pret ty girl who played Seeker
on the Ravenclaw team. She waved and smiled at Harry, who slopped quite a lot of
water down his front as he waved back. More to stop Ron from smirking than
anything, Harry hurriedly pointed out a large group of teenagers whom he had never
seen before.
“Who d’you reckon they are?” he said. “They don’t go to Hogwarts, do they?”
“‘Spect they go to some foreign school,” said Ron. “I know there are others.
Never met anyone who went to one, though. Bill had a penfriend at a school in Brazil
… this was years and years ago … and he wanted to go on an exchange t rip but Mum
and Dad couldn’t afford it . His penfriend got all offended when he said he wasn’t going
and sent him a cursed hat. It made his ears shrivel up.”
Harry laughed but didn’t voice the amazement he felt at hearing about other
wizarding schools. He supposed, now that he saw representat ives of so many
nat ionalit ies in the campsite, that he had been stupid never to realize that Hogwarts
couldn’t be the only one. He glanced at Hermione, who looked ut terly unsurprised by
the informat ion. No doubt she had run across the news about other wizarding schools
in some book or other.
“You’ve been ages,” said George when they finally got back to the Weasleys’
tents.
“Met a few people,” said Ron, set t ing the water down. “You’ve not got that fire
started yet?”
“Dad’s having fun with the matches,” said Fred.
Mr. Weasley was having no success at all in light ing the fire, but it wasn’t for
lack of t rying. Splintered matches lit tered the ground around him, but he looked as
though he was having the time of his life.
“Oops!” he said as he managed to light a match and prompt ly dropped it in
surprise.
“Come here, Mr. Weasley,” said Hermione kindly, taking the box from him, and
showing him how to do it properly.
At last they got the fire lit , though it was at least another hour before it was
hot enough to cook anything. There was plenty to watch while they waited, however.
Their tent seemed to be pitched right alongside a kind of thoroughfare to the f ield,
and Minist ry members kept hurrying up and down it , greet ing Mr. Weasley cordially as
they passed. Mr. Weasley kept up a running commentary, mainly for Harry’s and
Hermione’s benefit ; his own children knew too much about the Minist ry to be great ly
interested.
“That was Cuthbert Mockridge, Head of the Goblin Liaison Office…. Here
comes Gilbert Wimple; he’s with the Commit tee on Experimental Charms; he’s had
those horns for a while now… Hello, Arnie … Arnold Peasegood, he’s an Obliviator —
member of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, you know… and that ‘s Bode and
Croaker … they’re Unspeakables….”
“They’re what?”
“From the Department of Mysteries, top secret, no idea what they get up to….”
At last, the fire was ready, and they had just started cooking eggs and sausages
when Bill, Charlie, and Percy came strolling out of the woods toward them.
“Just Apparated, Dad,” said Percy loudly. “Ah, excellent, lunch!”
They were halfway through their plates of eggs and sausages when Mr. Weasley
j umped to his feet , waving and grinning at a man who was st riding toward them.
“Aha!” he said. “The man of the moment! Ludo!”
Ludo Bagman was easily the most noticeable person Harry had seen so far, even
including old Archie in his f lowered nightdress. He was wearing long Quidditch robes
in thick horizontal st ripes of bright yellow and black. An enormous picture of a wasp
was splashed across his chest . He had the look of a powerfully built man gone slight ly
to seed; the robes were st retched t ight ly across a large belly he surely had not had in
the days when he had played Quidditch for England. His nose was squashed (probably
broken by a st ray Bludger, Harry thought ), but his round blue eyes, short blond hair,
and rosy complexion made him look like a very overgrown schoolboy.
“Ahoy there!” Bagman called happily. He was walking as though he had springs
attached to the balls of his feet and was plainly in a state of wild excitement.
“Arthur, old man,” he puffed as he reached the campfire, “what a day, eh?
What a day! Could we have asked for more perfect weather? A cloudless night coming
… and hardly a hiccough in the arrangements…. Not much for me to do!”
Behind him, a group of haggard-looking Minist ry wizards rushed past , point ing
at the distant evidence of some sort of a magical fire that was sending violet sparks
twenty feet into the air.
Percy hurried forward with his hand outst retched. Apparent ly his disapproval
of the way Ludo Bagman ran his department did not prevent him from wanting to make
a good impression.
“Ah —yes,” said Mr. Weasley, grinning, “this is my son Percy. He’s j ust started
at the Minist ry —and this is Fred — no, George, sorry —that’s Fred — Bill, Charlie, Ron
—my daughter, Ginny and Ron’s friends, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter.”
Bagman did the smallest of double takes when he heard Harry’s name, and his
eyes performed the familiar flick upward to the scar on Harry’s forehead.
“Everyone,” Mr. Weasley cont inued, “this is Ludo Bagman, you know who he is,
it’s thanks to him we’ve got such good tickets —”
Bagman beamed and waved his hand as if to say it had been nothing.
“Fancy a flut ter on the match, Arthur?” he said eagerly, j ingling what seemed
to be a large amount of gold in the pockets of his yellow-and-black robes. “I’ve already
got Roddy Pontner bet t ing me Bulgaria will score first — I offered him nice odds,
considering Ireland’s front three are the strongest I’ve seen in years — and little Agatha
Timms has put up half shares in her eel farm on a weeklong match.”
“Oh … go on then,” said Mr. Weasley. “Let ‘s see … a Galleon on Ireland to
win?”
“A Galleon?” Ludo Bagman looked slight ly disappointed, but recovered himself.
“Very well, very well … any other takers?”
“They’re a bit young to be gambling,” said Mr. Weasley. “Molly wouldn’t like —”
“We’ll bet thirty-seven Galleons, fifteen Sickles, three Knuts,” said Fred as he
and George quickly pooled all their money, “that Ireland wins —but Viktor Krum gets
the Snitch. Oh and we’ll throw in a fake wand.”
“You don’t want to go showing Mr. Bagman rubbish like that ,” Percy hissed, but
Bagman didn’t seem to think the wand was rubbish at all; on the cont rary, his boyish
face shone with excitement as he took it from Fred, and when the wand gave a loud
squawk and turned into a rubber chicken, Bagman roared with laughter.
“Excellent ! I haven’t seen one that convincing in years! I’d pay five Galleons for
that!”
Percy froze in an attitude of stunned disapproval.
“Boys,” said Mr. Weasley under his breath, “I don’t want you betting…. That’s all
your savings …. Your mother —”
“Don’t be a spoilsport , Arthur!” boomed Ludo Bagman, rat t ling his pockets
excitedly. “They’re old enough to know what they want ! You reckon Ireland will win
but Krum’ll get the Snitch? Not a chance, boys, not a chance…. I’ll give you excellent
odds on that one …. We’ll add five Galleons for the funny wand, then, shall we….”
Mr. Weasley looked on helplessly as Ludo Bagman whipped out a notebook and
quill and began jotting down the twins’ names.
“Cheers,” said George, taking the slip of parchment Bagman handed him and tucking it
away into the front of his robes. Bagman turned most cheerfully back to Mr. Weasley.
“Couldn’t do me a brew, I suppose? I’m keeping an eye out for Barty Crouch.
My Bulgarian opposite number’s making difficult ies, and I can’t understand a word he’s
saying. Barty’ll be able to sort it out. He speaks about a hundred and fifty languages.”
“Mr. Crouch?” said Percy, suddenly abandoning his look of poker-stiff
disapproval and posit ively writhing with excitement . “He speaks over two hundred!
Mermish and Gobbledegook and Troll. . .”
“Anyone can speak Troll,” said Fred dismissively. “All you have to do is point
and grunt.”
Percy threw Fred an ext remely nasty look and stoked the f ire vigorously to
bring the kettle back to the boil.
“Any news of Bertha Jorkins yet , Ludo?” Mr. Weasley asked as Bagman set t led
himself down on the grass beside them all.
“Not a dicky bird,” said Bagman comfortably. “But she’ll turn up. Poor old
Bertha … memory like a leaky cauldron and no sense of direct ion. Lost , you take my
word for it . She’ll wander back into the office somet ime in October, thinking it ‘s st ill
July.”
“You don’t think it might be time to send someone to look for her?” Mr. Weasley
suggested tentatively as Percy handed Bagman his tea.
“Barty Crouch keeps saying that ,” said Bagman, his round eyes widening
innocent ly, “but we really can’t spare anyone at the moment . Oh —talk of the devil!
Barty!”
A wizard had j ust Apparated at their f ireside, and he could not have made
more of a cont rast with Ludo Bagman, sprawled on the grass in his old Wasp robes.
Barty Crouch was a st iff , upright , elderly man, dressed in an impeccably crisp suit and
t ie. The part ing in his short gray hair was almost unnaturally st raight , and his narrow
toothbrush mustache looked as though he trimmed it using a slide rule. His shoes were
very highly polished. Harry could see at once why Percy idolized him. Percy was a
great believer in rigidly following rules, and Mr. Crouch had complied with the rule
about Muggle dressing so thoroughly that he could have passed for a bank manager;
Harry doubted even Uncle Vernon would have spotted him for what he really was.
“Pull up a bit of grass, Barry,” said Ludo bright ly, pat t ing the ground beside
him.
“No thank you, Ludo,” said Crouch, and there was a bite of impat ience in his
voice. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere. The Bulgarians are insist ing we add
another twelve seats to the Top Box.”
“Oh is that what they’re after?” said Bagman. I thought the chap was asking to
borrow a pair of tweezers. Bit of a strong accent.”
“Mr. Crouch!” said Percy breathlessly, sunk into a kind of halfbow that made
him look like a hunchback. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Oh,” said Mr. Crouch, looking over at Percy in mild surprise. “Yes— thank you,
Weatherby.”
Fred and George choked into their own cups. Percy, very pink around the ears,
busied himself with the kettle.
“Oh and I’ve been want ing a word with you too, Arthur,” said Mr. Crouch, his
sharp eyes falling upon Mr. Weasley. “Ali Bashir’s on the warpath. He wants a word
with you about your embargo on flying carpets.”
Mr. Weasley heaved a deep sigh.
“I sent him an owl about that j ust last week. If I’ve told him once I’ve told him
a hundred t imes: Carpets are defined as a Muggle Art ifact by the Regist ry of
Proscribed Charmable Objects, but will he listen?”
“I doubt it ,” said Mr. Crouch, accept ing a cup f rom Percy. “He’s desperate to
export here.”
“Well, they’ll never replace brooms in Britain, will they?” said Bagman.
“Ali thinks there’s a niche in the market for a family vehicle, said Mr. Crouch. “I
remember my grandfather had an Axminster that could seat twelve —but that was
before carpets were banned, of course.”
He spoke as though he wanted to leave nobody in any doubt that all his
ancestors had abided strictly by the law.
“So, been keeping busy, Barty?” said Bagman breezily.
“Fairly,” said Mr. Crouch dryly. “Organizing Portkeys across five cont inents is no
mean feat, Ludo.”
“I expect you’ll both be glad when this is over?” said Mr. Weasley.
Ludo Bagman looked shocked.
“Glad! Don’t know when I’ve had more fun…. Still, it’s not as though we haven’t
got anything to took forward to, eh, Barty? Eh? Plenty left to organize, eh?”
Mr. Crouch raised his eyebrows at Bagman.
“We agreed not to make the announcement until all the details —”
“Oh details!” said Bagman, waving the word away like a cloud of midges.
“They’ve signed, haven’t they? They’ve agreed, haven’t they? I bet you anything these
kids’ll know soon enough anyway. I mean, it’s happening at Hogwarts —”
“Ludo, we need to meet the Bulgarians, you know,” said Mr. Crouch sharply,
cutting Bagman’s remarks short. “Thank you for the tea, Weatherby.”
He pushed his undrunk tea back at Percy and waited for Ludo to rise; Bagman
struggled to his feet, swigging down the last of his tea, the gold in his pockets chinking
merrily.
“See you all later!” he said. “You’ll be up in the Top Box with me — I’m
commentat ing!” He waved, Barty Crouch nodded curt ly, and both of them
Disapparated.
“What ‘s happening at Hogwarts, Dad?” said Fred at once. “What were they
talking about?”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” said Mr.Weasley, smiling.
“It’s classified information, until such time as the Ministry decides to release it,”
said Percy stiffly. “Mr. Crouch was quite right not to disclose it.”
“Oh shut up, Weatherby,” said Fred.
A sense of excitement rose like a palpable cloud over the campsite as the
afternoon wore on. By dusk, the st ill summer air itself seemed to be quivering with
ant icipat ion, and as darkness spread like a curtain over the thousands of wait ing
wizards, the last vest iges of pretence disappeared: the Minist ry seemed to have
bowed to the inevitable and stopped f ight ing the signs of blatant magic now breaking
out everywhere.
Salesmen were Apparat ing every few feet , carrying t rays and pushing carts full
of ext raordinary merchandise. There were luminous roset tes —green for Ireland, red
for Bulgaria —which were squealing the names of the players, pointed green hats
bedecked with dancing shamrocks, Bulgarian scarves adorned with lions that really
roared, flags from both count ries that played their nat ional anthems as they were
waved; there were t iny models of Firebolts that really flew, and collect ible figures of
famous players, which strolled across the palm of your hand, preening themselves.
“Been saving my pocket money all summer for this,” Ron told Harry as they and
Hermione st rolled through the salesmen, buying souvenirs. Though Ron purchased a
dancing shamrock hat and a large green rosette, he also bought a small figure of Viktor
Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker. The miniature Krum walked backward and forward over
Ron’s hand, scowling up at the green rosette above him.
“Wow, look at these!” said Harry, hurrying over to a cart piled high with what
looked like brass binoculars, except that they were covered with all sorts of weird
knobs and dials.
“Omnioculars,” said the saleswizard eagerly. “You can replay act ion … slow
everything down … and they f lash up a play-by- play breakdown if you need it .
Bargain — ten Galleons each.”
“Wish I hadn’t bought this now,” said Ron, gesturing at his dancing shamrock hat
and gazing longingly at the Omnioculars.
“Three pairs,” said Harry firmly to the wizard.
“No —don’t bother,” said Ron, going red. He was always touchy about the fact
that Harry, who had inherited a small fortune f rom his parents, had much more money
than he did.
“You won’t be get t ing anything for Christmas,” Harry told him, thrust ing
Omnioculars into his and Hermione’s hands. “For about ten years, mind.”
“Fair enough,” said Ron, grinning.
“Oooh, thanks, Harry,” said Hermione. “And I’ll get us some programs, look —”
Their money bags considerably lighter, they went back to the tents. Bill,
Charlie, and Ginny were all sport ing green roset tes too, and Mr. Weasley was carrying
an Irish flag. Fred and George had no souvenirs as they had given Bagman all their
gold.
And then a deep, booming gong sounded somewhere beyond the woods, and at
once, green and red lanterns blazed into life in the trees, lighting a path to the field.
“It ‘s t ime!” said Mr. Weasley, looking as excited as any of them. “Come on, let ‘s
go!”
CHAPTER EIGHT – THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP
Clutching their purchases, Mr. Weasley in the lead, they all hurried into the
wood, following the lantern-lit t rail. They could hear the sounds of thousands of
people moving around them, shouts and laughter, snatches of singing. The
atmosphere of feverish excitement was highly infect ious; Harry couldn’t stop grinning.
They walked through the wood for twenty minutes, talking and j oking loudly, unt il at
last they emerged on the other side and found themselves in the shadow of a gigant ic
stadium. Though Harry could see only a fract ion of the immense gold walls
surrounding the field, he could tell that ten cathedrals would fit comfortably inside it.
“Seats a hundred thousand,” said Mr. Weasley, spot t ing the awest ruck look on
Harry’s face. “Minist ry task force of five hundred have been working on it all year.
Muggle Repelling Charms on every inch of it . Every t ime Muggles have got anywhere
near here all year, they’ve suddenly remembered urgent appointments and had to dash
away again … bless them,” he added fondly, leading the way toward the nearest
entrance, which was already surrounded by a swarm of shouting witches and wizards.
“Prime seats!” said the Minist ry witch at the ent rance when she checked their
tickets. “Top Box! Straight upstairs, Arthur, and as high as you can go.”
The stairs into the stadium were carpeted in rich purple. They clambered
upward with the rest of the crowd, which slowly filtered away through doors into the
stands to their left and right . Mr. Weasley’s party kept climbing, and at last they
reached the top of the staircase and found themselves in a small box, set at the
highest point of the stadium and situated exact ly halfway between the golden goal
posts. About twenty purple-and-gilt chairs stood in two rows here, and Harry, filing
into the front seats with the Weasleys, looked down upon a scene the likes of which he
could never have imagined.
A hundred thousand witches and wizards were taking their places in the seats,
which rose in levels around the long oval f ield. Everything was suffused with a
mysterious golden light , which seemed to come from the stadium itself. The field
looked smooth as velvet from their lofty posit ion. At either end of the field stood
three goal hoops, fif ty feet high; right opposite them, almost at Harry’s eye level, was
a gigantic blackboard. Gold writing kept dashing across it as though an invisible giant’s
hand were scrawling upon the blackboard and then wiping it off again; watching it ,
Harry saw that it was flashing advertisements across the field.
The Bluebot t le: A Broom for Al l t he Family —safe, rel iable, and wit h Buil t -in
Anti-Burgler Buzzer … Mrs. Shower’s Al l Purpose Magical Mess Remover: No Pain, No
Stain! … Gladrags Wizardwear — London, Paris, Hogsmeade…
Harry tore his eyes away from the sign and looked over his shoulder to see who
else was sharing the box with them. So far it was empty, except for a t iny creature
sit t ing in the second from last seat at the end of the row behind them. The creature,
whose legs were so short they stuck out in front of it on the chair, was wearing a tea
towel draped like a toga, and it had its face hidden in its hands. Yet those long,
batlike ears were oddly familiar….
“Dobby?” said Harry incredulously.
The t iny creature looked up and st retched its fingers, revealing enormous
brown eyes and a nose the exact size and shape of a large tomato. It wasn’t Dobby —
it was, however, unmistakably a house-elf, as Harry’s friend Dobby had been. Harry
had set Dobby free from his old owners, the Malfoy family.
“Did sir j ust call me Dobby?” squeaked the elf curiously f rom between its
fingers. Its voice was higher even than Dobby’s had been, a teeny, quivering squeak of
a voice, and Harry suspected though it was very hard to tell with a house-elf —that
this one might j ust be female. Ron and Hermione spun around in their seats to look.
Though they had heard a lot about Dobby from Harry, they had never actually met
him. Even Mr. Weasley looked around in interest.
“Sorry,” Harry told the elf, “I just thought you were someone I knew.”
“But I knows Dobby too, sir!” squeaked the elf . She was shielding her face, as
though blinded by light , though the Top Box was not bright ly lit . “My name is Winky,
sir —and you, sir —” Her dark brown eyes widened to the size of side plates as they
rested upon Harry’s scar. “You is surely Harry Potter!”
“Yeah, I am,” said Harry.
“But Dobby talks of you all the t ime, sir!” s he said, lowering her hands very
slightly and looking awestruck.
“How is he?” said Harry. “How’s freedom suiting him?”
“Ah, sir,” said Winky, shaking her head, “ah sir, meaning no disrespect , sir, but I
is not sure you did Dobby a favor, sir, when you is setting him free.”
“Why?” said Harry, taken aback. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Freedom is going to Dobby’s head, sir, ” said Winky sadly. “Ideas above his
station, sir. Can’t get another position, sir.”
“Why not?” said Harry.
Winky lowered her voice by a half-octave and whispered, “He is want ing paying
for his work, sir.”
“Paying?” said Harry blankly. “Well — why shouldn’t he be paid?”
Winky looked quite horrified at the idea and closed her f ingers slight ly so that
her face was half-hidden again.
“House-elves is not paid, sir!” she said in a muffled squeak. “No, no, no. I says
to Dobby, I says, go find yourself a nice family and set t le down, Dobby. He is get t ing
up to all sorts of high jinks, sir, what is unbecoming to a house-elf. You goes racketing
around like this, Dobby, I says, and next thing I hear you’s up in front of the
Department for the Regulat ion and Cont rol of Magical Creatures, like some common
goblin.”
“Well, it’s about time he had a bit of fun,” said Harry.
“House-elves is not supposed to have fun, Harry Potter,” said Winky firmly, from
behind her hands. “House-elves does what they is told. I is not liking heights at all,
Harry Pot ter” —she glanced toward the edge of the box and gulped —”but my master
sends me to the Top Box and I comes, sir.”
“Why’s he sent you up here, if he knows you don’t like heights?” said Harry,
frowning.
“Master —master wants me to save him a seat , Harry Pot ter. He is very busy,”
said Winky, t ilt ing her head toward the empty space beside her. “Winky is wishing she
is back in master’s tent , Harry Pot ter, but Winky does what she is told. Winky is a
good house-elf.”
She gave the edge of the box another frightened look and hid her eyes
completely again. Harry turned back to the others.
“So that’s a house-elf?” Ron muttered. “Weird things, aren’t they?”
“Dobby was weirder,” said Harry fervently.
Ron pulled out his Omnioculars and started test ing them, staring down into the
crowd on the other side of the stadium.
“Wild!” he said, twiddling the replay knob on the side. I can make that old
bloke down there pick his nose again … and again … and again. . .”
Hermione, meanwhile, was skimming eagerly through her velvetcovered,
tasseled program.
“‘A display from the team mascots will precede the match,”‘ she read aloud.
“Oh that ‘s always worth watching,” said Mr. Weasley. “Nat ional teams bring
creatures from their native land, you know, to put on a bit of a show.”
The box f illed gradually around them over the next half hour. Mr. Weasley
kept shaking hands with people who were obviously very important wizards. Percy
j umped to his feet so often that he looked as though he were t rying to sit on a
hedgehog. When Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic himself, arrived, Percy bowed
so low that his glasses fell off and shat tered. Highly embarrassed, he repaired them
with his wand and thereafter remained in his seat , throwing j ealous looks at Harry,
whom Cornelius Fudge had greeted like an old friend. They had met before, and
Fudge shook Harry’s hand in a fatherly fashion, asked how he was, and int roduced him
to the wizards on either side of him.
“Harry Pot ter, you know,” he told the Bulgarian minister loudly, who was
wearing splendid robes of black velvet t rimmed with gold and didn’t seem to
understand a word of English. “Harry Pot ter … oh come on now, you know who he is
… the boy who survived You-Know-Who … you do know who he is —”
The Bulgarian wizard suddenly spot ted Harry’s scar and started gabbling loudly
and excitedly, pointing at it.
“Knew we’d get there in the end,” said Fudge wearily to Harry. “I’m no great
shakes at languages; I need Barty Crouch for this sort of thing. Ah, I see his house-elf’s
saving him a seat…. Good job too, these Bulgarian blighters have been trying to cadge
all the best places … ah, and here’s Lucius!”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned quickly. Edging along the second row to
three st ill-empty seats right behind Mr. Weasley were none other than Dobby the
house-elf’s former owners: Lucius Malfoy; his son, Draco; and a woman Harry supposed
must be Draco’s mother.
Harry and Draco Malfoy had been enemies ever since their very first j ourney to
Hogwarts. A pale boy with a pointed face and white-blond hair, Draco great ly
resembled his father. His mother was blonde too; tall and slim, she would have been
nice-looking if she hadn’ t been wearing a look that suggested there was a nasty smell
under her nose.
“ Ah, Fudge,” said Mr. Malfoy, holding out his hand as he reached the Minister
of Magic. “ How are you? I don’ t think you’ ve met my wife, Narcissa? Or our son,
Draco?”
“ How do you do, how do you do?” said Fudge, smiling and bowing to Mrs.
Malfoy. “And allow me to introduce you to Mr. Oblansk – Obalonsk – Mr. – well, he’s the
Bulgarian Minister of Magic, and he can’ t understand a word I’m saying anyway, so
never mind. And let’s see who else – you know Arthur Weasley, I daresay?”
It was a tense moment . Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy looked at each other and
Harry vividly recalled the last t ime they had come face-to-face: It had been in
Flourish and Blot ts’ bookshop, and they had had a f ight . Mr. Malfoy’ s cold gray eyes
swept over Mr. Weasley, and then up and down the row.
“Good lord, Arthur,” he said soft ly. “What did you have to sell to get seats in
the Top Box? Surely your house wouldn’t have fetched this much?”
Fudge, who wasn’ t listening, said, “ Lucius has j ust given a very generous
cont ribut ion to St . Mungo’ s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Inj uries, Arthur. He’ s
here as my guest.”
“How – how nice,” said Mr. Weasley, with a very strained smile.
Mr. Malfoy’ s eyes had returned to Hermione, who went slight ly pink, but stared
determinedly back at him. Harry knew exact ly what was making Mr. Malfoy’ s lip curl
like that . The Malfoys prided themselves on being purebloods; in other words, they
considered anyone of Muggle descent , like Hermione, second-class. However, under
the gaze of the Minister of Magic, Mr. Malfoy didn’ t dare say anything. He nodded
sneeringly to Mr. Weasley and cont inued down the line to his seats. Draco shot Harry,
Ron, and Hermione one contemptuous look, then set t led himself between his mother
and father.
“ Slimy gits,” Ron mut tered as he, Harry, and Hermione turned to face the field
again. Next moment, Ludo Bagman charged into the box.
“Everyone ready?” he said, his round face gleaming like a great, excited Edam.
“Minister – ready to go?”
“Ready when you are, Ludo,” said Fudge comfortably.
Ludo whipped out his wand, directed it at his own throat , and said “Sonorus!”
and then spoke over the roar of sound that was now f illing the packed stadium; his
voice echoed over them, booming into every corner of the stands.
“Ladies and gentlemen. . . welcome! Welcome to the final of the four hundred
and twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!”
The spectators screamed and clapped. Thousands of flags waved, adding their
discordant nat ional anthems to the racket . The huge blackboard opposite them was
wiped clear of its last message (Bert ie Bot t ’ s Every Flavor Beans – A Risk With Every
Mouthful!) and now showed BULGARIA: 0, IRELAND: 0.
“ And now, without further ado, allow me to int roduce. . . the Bulgarian
National Team Mascots!”
The right -hand side of the stands, which was a solid block of scarlet , roared its
approval.
“I wonder what they’ve brought,” said Mr. Weasley, leaning forward in his seat.
“Aaah!” He suddenly whipped off his glasses and polished them hurriedly on his robes.
“Veela!”
“What are veel –?”
But a hundred veela were now gliding out onto the field, and Harry’ s quest ion
was answered for him. Veela were women. . . the most beaut iful women Harry had
ever seen. . . except that they weren’t – they couldn’t be – human. This puzzled Harry
for a moment while he t ried to guess what exact ly they could be; what could make
their skin shine moon-bright like that , or their white-gold hair fan out behind them
without wind.. . but then the music started, and Harry stopped worrying about them
not being human – in fact, he stopped worrying about anything at all.
The veela had started to dance, and Harry’ s mind had gone completely and
blissfully blank. All that mat tered in the world was that he kept watching the veela,
because if they stopped dancing, terrible things would happen.
And as the veela danced faster and faster, wild, half-formed thoughts started
chasing through Harry’ s dazed mind. He wanted to do something very impressive,
right now. Jumping from the box into the stadium seemed a good idea. . . but would
it be good enough?
“Harry, what are you doing?” said Hermione’s voice from a long way off.
The music stopped. Harry blinked. He was standing up, and one of his legs was
rest ing on the wall of the box. Next to him, Ron was frozen in an at t itude that looked
as though he were about to dive from a springboard.
Angry yells were filling the stadium. The crowd didn’ t want the veela to go.
Harry was with them; he would, of course, be support ing Bulgaria, and he wondered
vaguely why he had a large green shamrock pinned to his chest . Ron, meanwhile, was
absentmindedly shredding the shamrocks on his hat . Mr. Weasley, smiling slight ly,
leaned over to Ron and tugged the hat out of his hands.
“You’ll be wanting that,” he said, “once Ireland have had their say.”
“ Huh?” said Ron, staring openmouthed at the veela, who had now lined up
along one side of the field.
Hermione made a loud tut t ing noise. She reached up and pulled Harry back
into his seat. “Honestly!” she said.
“ And now,” roared Ludo Bagman’ s voice, “ kindly put your wands in the air. . .
for the Irish National Team Mascots!”
Next moment , what seemed to be a great green-and-gold comet came zooming
into the stadium. It did one circuit of the stadium, then split into two smaller comets,
each hurt ling toward the goal posts. A rainbow arced suddenly across the f ield,
connect ing the two balls of light . The crowd oooohed and aaaaahed, as though at a
fireworks display. Now the rainbow faded and the balls of light reunited and merged;
they had formed a great shimmering shamrock, which rose up into the sky and began
to soar over the stands. Something like golden rain seemed to be falling from it –
“ Excellent !” yelled Ron as the shamrock soared over them, and heavy gold coins
rained f rom it , bouncing off their heads and seats. Squint ing up at the shamrock,
Harry realized that it was actually comprised of thousands of t iny lit t le bearded men
with red vests, each carrying a minute lamp of gold or green.
“ Leprechauns!” said Mr. Weasley over the tumultuous applause of the crowd,
many of whom were st ill fight ing and rummaging around under their chairs to ret rieve
the gold.
“ There you go,” Ron yelled happily, stuffing a fist ful of gold coins into Harry’ s
hand, “for the Omnioculars! Now you’ve got to buy me a Christmas present, ha!”
The great shamrock dissolved, the leprechauns drifted down onto the field on
the opposite side from the veela, and set t led themselves cross-legged to watch the
match.
“ And now, ladies and gent lemen, kindly welcome – the Bulgarian National
Quidditch Team! I give you – Dimitrov!”
A scarlet -clad figure on a broomst ick, moving so fast it was blurred, shot out
onto the field from an ent rance far below, to wild applause f rom the Bulgarian
supporters.
“Ivanova!”
A second scarlet-robed player zoomed out.
“Zograf! Levski! Vulchanov! Volkov! Aaaaaaand – Krum!”
“ That ’ s him, that ’ s him!” yelled Ron, following Krum with his Omnioculars.
Harry quickly focused his own.
Viktor Krum was thin, dark, and sallow-skinned, with a large curved nose and
thick black eyebrows. He looked like an overgrown bird of prey. It was hard to believe
he was only eighteen.
“ And now, please greet – the Irish Nat ional Quidditch Team!” yelled Bagman.
“Presenting – Connolly! Ryan! Troy! Mullet! Moran! Quigley! Aaaaaand – Lynch!”
Seven green blurs swept onto the field; Harry spun a small dial on the side of
his Omnioculars and slowed the players down enough to read the word “ Firebolt ” on
each of their brooms and see their names, embroidered in silver, upon their backs.
“ And here, all the way from Egypt , our referee, acclaimed Chairwizard of the
International Association of Quidditch, Hassan Mostafa!”
A small and skinny wizard, completely bald but with a mustache to rival Uncle
Vernon’ s, wearing robes of pure gold to match the stadium, st rode out onto the f ield.
A silver whist le was prot ruding from under the mustache, and he was carrying a large
wooden crate under one arm, his broomst ick under the other. Harry spun the speed
dial on his Omnioculars back to normal, watching closely as Mostafa mounted his
broomst ick and kicked the crate open – four balls burst into the air: the scarlet
Quaf fle, the two black Bludgers, and (Harry saw it for the briefest moment , before it
sped out of sight ) the minuscule, winged Golden Snitch. With a sharp blast on his
whistle, Mostafa shot into the air after the balls.
“ Theeeeeeeey’ re OFF!” screamed Bagman. “ And it ’ s Mullet ! Troy! Moran!
Dimitrov! Back to Mullet! Troy! Levski! Moran!”
It was Quidditch as Harry had never seen it played before. He was pressing his
Omnioculars so hard to his glasses that they were cut t ing into the bridge of his nose.
The speed of the players was incredible – the Chasers were throwing the Quaffle to
one another so fast that Bagman only had t ime to say their names. Harry spun the
slow dial on the right of his Omnioculars again, pressed the play-by-play but ton on the
top, and he was immediately watching in slow motion, while glittering purple lettering
flashed across the lenses and the noise of the crowd pounded against his eardrums.
HAWKSHEAD ATTACKING FORMATION, he read as he watched the three Irish
Chasers zoom closely together, Troy in the center, slight ly ahead of Mullet and Moran,
bearing down upon the Bulgarians. PORSKOFF PLOY flashed up next , as Troy made as
though to dart upward with the Quaffle, drawing away the Bulgarian Chaser Ivanova
and dropping the Quaffle to Moran. One of the Bulgarian Beaters, Volkov, swung hard
at a passing Bludger with his small club, knocking it into Moran’ s path; Moran ducked
to avoid the Bludger and dropped the Quaffle; and Levski, soaring beneath, caught it –
“ TROY SCORES!” roared Bagman, and the stadium shuddered with a roar of applause
and cheers. “Ten zero to Ireland!”
“What?” Harry yelled, looking wildly around through his Omnioculars. “ But
Levski’s got the Quaffle!”
“ Harry, if you’ re not going to watch at normal speed, you’ re going to miss
things!” shouted Hermione, who was dancing up and down, waving her arms in the air
while Troy did a lap of honor around the field. Harry looked quickly over the top of his
Omnioculars and saw that the leprechauns watching from the sidelines had all risen
into the air again and formed the great , glit tering shamrock. Across the f ield, the
veela were watching them sulkily.
Furious with himself, Harry spun his speed dial back to normal as play resumed.
Harry knew enough about Quidditch to see that the Irish Chasers were superb.
They worked as a seamless team, their movements so well coordinated that they
appeared to be reading one another’ s minds as they posit ioned themselves, and the
roset te on Harry’ s chest kept squeaking their names: “Troy – Mullet – Mo ran!” And
within ten minutes, Ireland had scored twice more, bringing their lead to thirty-zero
and causing a thunderous tide of roars and applause from the green-clad supporters.
The match became st ill faster, but more brutal. Volkov and Vulchanov, the
Bulgarian Beaters, were whacking the Bludgers as fiercely as possible at the Irish
Chasers, and were start ing to prevent them f rom using some of their best moves;
twice they were forced to scat ter, and then, finally, Ivanova managed to break
through their ranks; dodge the Keeper, Ryan; and score Bulgaria’s first goal.
“ Fingers in your ears!” bellowed Mr. Weasley as the veela started to dance in
celebrat ion. Harry screwed up his eyes too; he wanted to keep his mind on the game.
After a few seconds, he chanced a glance at the field. The veela had stopped dancing,
and Bulgaria was again in possession of the Quaffle.
“Dimitrov! Levski! Dimitrov! Ivanova – oh I say!” roared Bagman.
One hundred thousand wizards gasped as the two Seekers, Krum and Lynch,
plummeted through the center of the Chasers, so fast that it looked as though they
had j ust j umped from airplanes without parachutes. Harry followed their descent
through his Omnioculars, squinting to see where the Snitch was –
“They’re going to crash!” screamed Hermione next to Harry.
She was half right – at the very last second, Viktor Krum pulled out of the dive
and spiraled off. Lynch, however, hit the ground with a dull thud that could be heard
throughout the stadium. A huge groan rose from the Irish seats.
“Fool!” moaned Mr. Weasley. “Krum was feinting!”
“ It ’ s t ime-out !” yelled Bagman’ s voice, “ as t rained mediwizards hurry onto the
field to examine Aidan Lynch!”
“ He’ ll be okay, he only got ploughed!” Charlie said reassuringly to Ginny, who
was hanging over the side of the box, looking horror-st ruck. “Which is what Krum was
after, of course… .“
Harry hast ily pressed the replay and play-by-play but tons on his Omnioculars,
twiddled the speed dial, and put them back up to his eyes.
He watched as Krum and Lynch dived again in slow mot ion. WRONSKI
DEFENSIVE FEINT – DANGEROUS SEEKER DIVERSION read the shining purple let tering
across his lenses. He saw Krum’ s face contorted with concent rat ion as he pulled out
of the dive j ust in t ime, while Lynch was f lat tened, and he understood – Krum hadn’ t
seen the Snitch at all, he was j ust making Lynch copy him. Harry had never seen
anyone fly like that; Krum hardly looked as though he was using a broomstick at all; he
moved so easily through the air that he looked unsupported and weight less. Harry
turned his Omnioculars back to normal and focused them on Krum. He was now
circling high above Lynch, who was being revived by mediwizards with cups of pot ion.
Harry, focusing st ill more closely upon Krum’ s face, saw his dark eyes dart ing all over
the ground a hundred feet below. He was using the t ime while Lynch was revived to
look for the Snitch without interference.
Lynch got to his feet at last , to loud cheers from the green-clad supporters,
mounted his Firebolt , and kicked back of f into the air. His revival seemed to give
Ireland new heart . When Mostafa blew his whist le again, the Chasers moved into
action with a skill unrivaled by anything Harry had seen so far.
After fifteen more fast and furious minutes, Ireland had pulled ahead by ten
more goals. They were now leading by one hundred and thirty points to ten, and the
game was starting to get dirtier.
As Mullet shot toward the goal posts yet again, clutching the Quaffle t ight ly
under her arm, the Bulgarian Keeper, Zograf, flew out to meet her. Whatever
happened was over so quickly Harry didn’t catch it, but a scream of rage from the Irish
crowd, and Mostafa’s long, shrill whistle blast, told him it had been a foul.
“ And Mostafa takes the Bulgarian Keeper to task for cobbing — excessive use of
elbows!” Bagman informed the roaring spectators. “ And – yes, it ’ s a penalty to
Ireland!”
The leprechauns, who had risen angrily into the air like a swarm of glit tering
hornets when Mullet had been fouled, now darted together to form the words “ HA,
HA, HA!” The veela on the other side of the f ield leapt to their feet , tossed their hair
angrily, and started to dance again.
As one, the Weasley boys and Harry stuffed their fingers into their ears, but
Hermione, who hadn’ t bothered, was soon tugging on Harry’ s arm. He turned to look
at her, and she pulled his fingers impatiently out of his ears.
“Look at the referee!” she said, giggling.
Harry looked down at the field. Hassan Mostafa had landed right in front of the
dancing veela, and was act ing very oddly indeed. He was flexing his muscles and
smoothing his mustache excitedly.
“ Now, we can’ t have that !” said Ludo Bagman, though he sounded highly
amused. “Somebody slap the referee!”
A mediwizard came tearing across the field, his f ingers stuffed into his own
ears, and kicked Mostafa hard in the shins. Mostafa seemed to come to himself; Harry,
watching through the Omnioculars again, saw that he looked except ionally
embarrassed and had started shouting at the veela, who had stopped dancing and were
looking mutinous.
“ And unless I’m much mistaken, Mostafa is actually at tempt ing to send off the
Bulgarian team mascots!” said Bagman’ s voice. “ Now there’s something we haven’ t
seen before. . . . Oh this could turn nasty. . .
It did: The Bulgarian Beaters, Volkov and Vulchanov, landed on either side of
Mostafa and began arguing furiously with him, gest iculat ing toward the leprechauns,
who had now gleefully formed the words “HEE, HEE, HEE.” Mostafa was not impressed
by the Bulgarians’ arguments, however; he was j abbing his f inger into the air, clearly
telling them to get flying again, and when they refused, he gave two short blasts on
his whistle.
“Two penalt ies for Ireland!” shouted Bagman, and the Bulgarian crowd howled
with anger. “ And Volkov and Vulchanov had bet ter get back on those brooms. . . yes.
. . there they go. . . and Troy takes the Quaffle. .
Play now reached a level of ferocity beyond anything they had yet seen. The
Beaters on both sides were act ing without mercy: Volkov and Vulchanov in part icular
seemed not to care whether their clubs made contact with Bludger or human as they
swung them violent ly through the air. Dimit rov shot st raight at Moran, who had the
Quaffle, nearly knocking her off her broom.
“ Foul !” roared the Irish supporters as one, all standing up in a great wave of
green.
“ Foul!” echoed Ludo Bagman’ s magically magnified voice. “ Dimit rov skins
Moran – deliberately flying to collide there – and it ’ s got to be another penalty – yes,
there’s the whistle!”
The leprechauns had risen into the air again, and this time, they formed a giant
hand, which was making a very rude sign indeed at the veela across the field. At this,
the veela lost cont rol. Instead of dancing, they launched themselves across the field
and began throwing what seemed to be handfuls of fire at the leprechauns. Watching
through his Omnioculars, Harry saw that they didn’ t look remotely beaut iful now. On
the cont rary, their faces were elongat ing into sharp, cruel-beaked bird heads, and
long, scaly wings were bursting from their shoulders –
“And that, boys,” yelled Mr. Weasley over the tumult of the crowd below, “ is
why you should never go for looks alone!”
Minist ry wizards were flooding onto the field to separate the veela and the
leprechauns, but with lit t le success; meanwhile, the pitched bat t le below was nothing
to the one taking place above. Harry turned this way and that , staring through his
Omnioculars, as the Quaffie changed hands with the speed of a bullet.
“Levski – Dimit rov – Moran – Troy – Mullet – Ivanova – Moran again – Moran –
MORAN SCORES!”
But the cheers of the Irish supporters were barely heard over the shrieks of the
veela, the blasts now issuing from the Minist ry members’ wands, and the furious roars
of the Bulgarians. The game recommenced immediately; now Levski had the Quaffle,
now Dimitrov –
The Irish Beater Quigley swung heavily at a passing Bludger, and hit it as hard
as possible toward Krum, who did not duck quickly enough. It hit him full in the face.
There was a deafening groan from the crowd; Krum’s nose looked broken, there
was blood everywhere, but Hassan Mostafa didn’ t blow his whist le. He had become
dist racted, and Harry couldn’ t blame him; one of the veela had thrown a handful of
fire and set his broom tail alight.
Harry wanted someone to realize that Krum was inj ured; even though he was
supporting Ireland, Krum was the most excit ing player on the f ield. Ron obviously felt
the same.
“Time-out! Ah, come on, he can’t play like that, look at him -“
“Look at Lynch!” Harry yelled.
For the Irish Seeker had suddenly gone into a dive, and Harry was quite sure
that this was no Wronski Feint; this was the real thing…
“He’s seen the Snitch!” Harry shouted. “He’s seen it! Look at him go!”
Half the crowd seemed to have realized what was happening; the Irish
supporters rose in another great wave of green, screaming their Seeker on. . . but
Krum was on his tail. How he could see where he was going, Harry had no idea; there
were flecks of blood f lying through the air behind him, but he was drawing level with
Lynch now as the pair of them hurtled toward the ground again –
“They’re going to crash!” shrieked Hermione.
“They’re not!” roared Ron.
“Lynch is!” yelled Harry.
And he was right – for the second t ime, Lynch hit the ground with t remendous
force and was immediately stampeded by a horde of angry veela.
“The Snitch, where’s the Snitch?” bellowed Charlie, along the row.
“He’s got it – Krum’s got it – it’s all over!” shouted Harry.
Krum, his red robes shining with blood from his nose, was rising gent ly into the
air, his fist held high, a glint of gold in his hand.
The scoreboard was flashing BULGARIA: 160, IRELAND: 170 across the crowd,
who didn’t seem to have realized what had happened. Then, slowly, as though a great
j umbo j et were revving up, the rumbling from the Ireland supporters grew louder and
louder and erupted into screams of delight.
“ IRELAND WINS!” Bagman shouted, who like the Irish, seemed to be taken
aback by the sudden end of the match.
“ KRUM GETSTHE SNITCH – BUT IRELANDWINS– good lord, I don’ t think any of
us were expecting that!”
“What did he catch the Snitch for?” Ron bellowed, even as he j umped up and
down, applauding with his hands over his head. “ He ended it when Ireland were a
hundred and sixty points ahead, the idiot!”
“ He knew they were never going to catch up!” Harry shouted back over all the
noise, also applauding loudly. “ The Irish Chasers were too good. . . . He wanted to
end it on his terms, that’s all. . .
“ He was very brave, wasn’ t he?” Hermione said, leaning forward to watch
Krum land as a swarm of mediwizards blasted a path through the bat t ling leprechauns
and veela to get to him. “He looks a terrible mess. . .”
Harry put his Omnioculars to his eyes again. It was hard to see what was
happening below, because leprechauns were zooming delightedly all over the f ield,
but he could j ust make out Krum, surrounded by mediwizards. He looked surlier than
ever and refused to let them mop him up. His team members were around him,
shaking their heads and looking dej ected; a short way away, the Irish players were
dancing gleefully in a shower of gold descending from their mascots. Flags were
waving all over the stadium, the Irish nat ional anthem blared from all sides; the veela
were shrinking back into their usual, beaut iful selves now, though looking dispirited
and forlorn.
“Vell, ve fought bravely,” said a gloomy voice behind Harry. He looked around;
it was the Bulgarian Minister of Magic.
“ You can speak English!” said Fudge, sounding out raged. “ And you’ ve been
letting me mime everything all day!”
“Veil, it vos very funny,” said the Bulgarian minister, shrugging.
“ And as the Irish team performs a lap of honor, f lanked by their mascots, the
Quidditch World Cup itself is brought into the Top Box!” roared Bagman.
Harry’ s eyes were suddenly dazzled by a blinding white light , as the Top Box
was magically illuminated so that everyone in the stands could see the inside.
Squint ing toward the ent rance, he saw two pant ing wizards carrying a vast golden cup
into the box, which they handed to Cornelius Fudge, who was st ill looking very disgruntled
that he’d been using sign language all day for nothing.
“ Let ’ s have a really loud hand for the gallant losers – Bulgaria!” Bagman
shouted.
And up the stairs into the box came the seven defeated Bulgarian players. The
crowd below was applauding appreciat ively; Harry could see thousands and thousands
of Omniocular lenses flashing and winking in their direction.
One by one, the Bulgarians filed between the rows of seats in the box, and
Bagman called out the name of each as they shook hands with their own minister and
then with Fudge. Krum, who was last in line, looked a real mess. Two black eyes were
blooming spectacularly on his bloody face. He was st ill holding the Snitch. Harry
not iced that he seemed much less coordinated on the ground. He was slight ly duckfooted
and dist inct ly round-shouldered. But when Krum’ s name was announced, the
whole stadium gave him a resounding, earsplitting roar.
And then came the Irish team. Aidan Lynch was being supported by Moran and
Connolly; the second crash seemed to have dazed him and his eyes looked st rangely
unfocused. But he grinned happily as Troy and Quigley lifted the Cup into the air and
the crowd below thundered its approval. Harry’s hands were numb with clapping.
At last , when the Irish team had left the box to perform another lap of honor
on their brooms (Aidan Lynch on the back of Confolly’ s, clutching hard around his
waist and st ill grinning in a bemused sort of way), Bagman pointed his wand at his
throat and muttered, “Quietus.”
“They’ ll be talking about this one for years,” he said hoarsely, “ a really
unexpected twist , that . . . . shame it couldn’ t have lasted longer. . . . Ah yes… . yes,
I owe you. . . how much?”
For Fred and George had j ust scrambled over the backs of their seats and were
standing in f ront of Ludo Bagman with broad grins on their faces, their hands
outstretched.
CHAPTER NINE – THE DARK MARK
Don’t tell your mother you’ ve been gambling,” Mr. Weasley implored Fred and
George as they all made their way slowly down the purple-carpeted stairs.
“ Don’ t worry, Dad,” said Fred gleefully, “ we’ ve got big plans for this money.
We don’t want it confiscated.”
Mr. Weasley looked for a moment as though he was going to ask what these big
plans were, but seemed to decide, upon reflection, that he didn’t want to know.
They were soon caught up in the crowds now flooding out of the
stadium and back to their campsites. Raucous singing was borne toward them on the
night air as they ret raced their steps along the lantern-lit path, and leprechauns kept
shoot ing over their heads, cackling and waving their lanterns. When they finally
reached the tents, nobody felt like sleeping at all, and given the level of noise around
them, Mr. Weasley agreed that they could all have one last cup of cocoa together
before turning in. They were soon arguing enj oyably about the match; Mr. Weasley
got drawn into a disagreement about cobbing with Charlie, and it was only when Ginny
fell asleep right at the t iny table and spilled hot chocolate all over the f loor that Mr.
Weasley called a halt to the verbal replays and insisted that everyone go to bed.
Hermione and Ginny went into the next tent , and Harry and the rest of the Weasleys
changed into paj amas and clambered into their bunks. From the other side of the
campsite they could still hear much singing and the odd echoing bang.
“Oh I am glad I’m not on duty,” mut tered Mr. Weasley sleepily. “ I wouldn’ t
fancy having to go and tell the Irish they’ve got to stop celebrating.”
Harry, who was on a top bunk above Ron, lay staring up at the canvas ceiling of
the tent , watching the glow of an occasional leprechaun lantern flying overhead, and
picturing again some of Krum’ s more spectacular moves. He was itching to get back
on his own Firebolt and t ry out the Wronski Feint . . . . Somehow Oliver Wood had
never managed to convey with all his wriggling diagrams what that move was supposed
to look like.. . . Harry saw himself in robes that had his name on the back, and
imagined the sensat ion of hearing a hundred-thousand-st rong crowd roar, as Ludo
Bagman’s voice echoed throughout the stadium, “I give you. . . Potter!”
Harry never knew whether or not he had actually dropped off to sleep – his
fantasies of flying like Krum might well have slipped into actual dreams – all he knew
was that, quite suddenly, Mr. Weasley was shouting.
“Get up! Ron – Harry – come on now, get up, this is urgent!”
Harry sat up quickly and the top of his head hit canvas.
“S’ matter?” he said.
Dimly, he could tell that something was wrong. The noises in the campsite had
changed. The singing had stopped. He could hear screams, and the sound of people
running. He slipped down from the bunk and reached for his clothes, but Mr. Weasley,
who had pulled on his j eans over his own paj amas, said, “ No t ime, Harry – j ust grab a
jacket and get outside – quickly!”
Harry did as he was told and hurried out of the tent, Ron at his heels.
By the light of the few fires that were st ill burning, he could see people
running away into the woods, fleeing something that was moving across the field
toward them, something that was emit t ing odd flashes of light and noises like gunfire.
Loud j eering, roars of laughter, and drunken yells were drift ing toward them; then
came a burst of strong green light, which illuminated the scene.
A crowd of wizards, t ight ly packed and moving together with wands point ing
st raight upward, was marching slowly across the field. Harry squinted at them. . . .
They didn’ t seem to have faces. . . . Then he realized that their heads were hooded
and their faces masked. High above them, float ing along in midair, four st ruggling
figures were being contorted into grotesque shapes. It was as though the masked
wizards on the ground were puppeteers, and the people above them were marionet tes
operated by invisible st rings that rose f rom the wands into the air. Two of the figures
were very small.
More wizards were j oining the marching group, laughing and point ing up at the
float ing bodies. Tents crumpled and fell as the marching crowd swelled. Once or
twice Harry saw one of the marchers blast a tent out of his way with his wand.
Several caught fire. The screaming grew louder.
The float ing people were suddenly illuminated as they passed over a burning
tent and Harry recognized one of them: Mr. Roberts, the campsite manager. The
other three looked as though they might be his wife and children. One of the
marchers below flipped Mrs. Roberts upside down with his wand; her nightdress fell
down to reveal voluminous drawers and she st ruggled to cover herself up as the crowd
below her screeched and hooted with glee.
“ That ’ s sick,” Ron mut tered, watching the smallest Muggle child, who had
begun to spin like a top, sixty feet above the ground, his head f lopping limply from
side to side. “That is really sick. . . .“
Hermione and Ginny came hurrying toward them, pulling coats over their
nightdresses, with Mr. Weasley right behind them. At the same moment , Bill, Charlie,
and Percy emerged from the boys’ tent, fully dressed, with their sleeves rolled up and
their wands out.
“We’ re going to help the Minist ry!” Mr. Weasley shouted over all the noise,
rolling up his own sleeves. “You lot – get into the woods, and stick together. I’ll come
and fetch you when we’ve sorted this out!”
Bill, Charlie, and Percy were already sprint ing away toward the oncoming
marchers; Mr. Weasley tore after them. Minist ry wizards were dashing from every
direction toward the source of the trouble. The crowd beneath the Roberts family was
coming ever closer.
“C’mon,” said Fred, grabbing Ginny’ s hand and start ing to pull her toward the
wood. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and George followed. They all looked back as they
reached the t rees. The crowd beneath the Roberts family was larger than ever; they
could see the Minist ry wizards t rying to get through it to the hooded wizards in the
center, but they were having great difficulty. It looked as though they were scared to
perform any spell that might make the Roberts family fall.
The colored lanterns that had lit the path to the stadium had been
ext inguished. Dark figures were blundering through the t rees; children were crying;
anxious shouts and panicked voices were reverberat ing around them in the cold night
air. Harry felt himself being pushed hither and thither by people whose faces he could
not see. Then he heard Ron yell with pain.
“What happened?” said Hermione anxiously, stopping so abrupt ly that Harry
walked into her. “Ron, where are you? Oh this is stupid – lumos!”
She illuminated her wand and directed its narrow beam across the path. Ron
was lying sprawled on the ground.
“Tripped over a tree root,” he said angrily, getting to his feet again.
“Well, with feet that size, hard not to,” said a drawling voice from behind
them.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned sharply. Draco Malfoy was standing alone
nearby, leaning against a t ree, looking ut terly relaxed. His arms folded, he seemed to
have been watching the scene at the campsite through a gap in the trees.
Ron told Malfoy to do something that Harry knew he would never have dared
say in front of Mrs. Weasley.
“ Language, Weasley,” said Malfoy, his pale eyes glit tering. “ Hadn’ t you bet ter
be hurrying along, now? You wouldn’t like her spotted, would you?”
He nodded at Hermione, and at the same moment , a blast like a bomb sounded
from the campsite, and a flash of green light momentarily lit the trees around them.
“What ’ s that supposed to mean?” said Hermione defiant ly. “ Granger, they’ re
after Muggles, “ said Malfoy. “ D’ you want to be showing off your knickers in midair?
Because if you do, hang around. . . they’ re moving this way, and it would give us all a
laugh.”
“Hermione’s a witch,” Harry snarled.
“ Have it your own way, Pot ter,” said Malfoy, grinning maliciously. “ If you think
they can’t spot a Mudblood, stay where you are.”
“ You watch your mouth!” shouted Ron. Everybody present knew that
“Mudblood” was a very offensive term for a witch or wizard of Muggle parentage.
“ Never mind, Ron,” said Hermione quickly, seizing Ron’ s arm to rest rain him as
he took a step toward Malfoy.
There came a bang f rom the other side of the t rees that was louder than
anything they had heard. Several people nearby screamed. Malfoy chuckled softly.
“ Scare easily, don’ t they?” he said lazily. “ I suppose your daddy told you all to
hide? What’s he up to – trying to rescue the Muggles?”
“Where’re your parents?” said Harry, his temper rising. “ Out there wearing
masks, are they?”
Malfoy turned his face to Harry, still smiling.
“Well. . . if they were, I wouldn’t be likely to tell you, would I, Potter?”
“Oh come on,” said Hermione, with a disgusted look at Malfoy, “ let ’ s go and
find the others.”
“Keep that big bushy head down, Granger,” sneered Malfoy.
“Come on,” Hermione repeated, and she pulled Harry and Ron up the path
again.
“I’ll bet you anything his dad is one of that masked lot!” said Ron hotly.
“Well, with any luck, the Minist ry will catch him!” said Hermione fervent ly.
“Oh I can’t believe this. Where have the others got to?”
Fred, George, and Ginny were nowhere to be seen, though the path was packed
with plenty of other people, all looking nervously over their shoulders toward the
commotion back at the campsite. A huddle of teenagers in paj amas was arguing
vociferously a lit t le way along the path. When they saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a
girl with thick curly hair turned and said quickly, “ Oü est Madame Maxime? Nous
l’avons perdue -“
“Er – what?” said Ron.
“Oh. . .“ The girl who had spoken turned her back on him, and as they walked
on they distinctly heard her say, “Ogwarts.”
“Beauxbatons,” muttered Hermione.
“Sorry?” said Harry.
“ They must go to Beauxbatons,” said Hermione. “ You know… Beauxbatons
Academy of Magic. . . I read about it in An Appraisal ofMagical Education in Europe.”
“Oh. . . yeah. . . right,” said Harry.
“ Fred and George can’ t have gone that far,” said Ron, pulling out his wand,
light ing it like Hermione’ s, and squint ing up the path. Harry dug in the pockets of his
j acket for his own wand – but it wasn’ t there. The only thing he could find was his
Omnioculars.
“Ah, no, I don’t believe it. . . I’ve lost my wand!”
“You’re kidding!”
Ron and Hermione raised their wands high enough to spread the narrow beams
of light farther on the ground; Harry looked all around him, but his wand was nowhere
to be seen.
“Maybe it’s back in the tent,” said Ron.
“Maybe it fell out of your pocket when we were running?” Hermione suggested
anxiously.
“Yeah,” said Harry, “maybe. .
He usually kept his wand with him at all t imes in the wizarding world, and
finding himself without it in the midst of a scene like this made him feel very
vulnerable.
A rust ling noise nearby made all three of them j ump. Winky the house-elf was
fight ing her way out of a clump of bushes nearby. She was moving in a most peculiar
fashion, apparent ly with great difficulty; it was as though someone invisible were
trying to hold her back.
“ There is bad wizards about !” she squeaked dist ractedly as she leaned forward
and labored to keep running. “ People high – high in the air! Winky is get t ing out of
the way!”
And she disappeared into the t rees on the other side of the path, pant ing and
squeaking as she fought the force that was restraining her.
“What ’ s up with her?” said Ron, looking curiously after Winky. “Why can’ t she
run properly?”
“ Bet she didn’ t ask permission to hide,” said Harry. He was thinking of Dobby:
Every t ime he had t ried to do something the Malfoys wouldn’ t like, the house-elf had
been forced to start beating himself up.
“ You know, house-elves get a very raw deal!” said Hermione indignant ly. “ It ’ s
slavery, that ’ s what it is! That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium,
and she was terrified, and he’ s got her bewitched so she can’ t even run when they
start trampling tents! Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?”
“Well, the elves are happy, aren’t they?” Ron said. “You heard old Winky back
at the match.. . ‘House-elves is not supposed to have fun’ . . . that ’ s what she likes,
being bossed around. . . .“
“ It ’ s people like you, Ron,” Hermione began hot ly, “ who prop up rot ten and
unjust systems, just because they’re too lazy to -“
Another loud bang echoed from the edge of the wood.
“ Let ’ s j ust keep moving, shall we?” said Ron, and Harry saw him glance edgily
at Hermione. Perhaps there was t ruth in what Malfoy had said; perhaps Hermione was
in more danger than they were. They set of f again, Harry st ill searching his pockets,
even though he knew his wand wasn’t there.
They followed the dark path deeper into the wood, st ill keeping an eye out for
Fred, George, and Ginny. They passed a group of goblins who were cackling over a
sack of gold that they had undoubtedly won bet t ing on the match, and who seemed
quite unperturbed by the t rouble at the campsite. Farther st ill along the path, they
walked into a patch of silvery light , and when they looked through the t rees, they saw
three tall and beaut iful veela standing in a clearing, surrounded by a gaggle of young
wizards, all of whom were talking very loudly.
“ I pull down about a hundred sacks of Galleons a year!” one of them shouted.
“I’m a dragon killer for the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures.”
“ No, you’ re not !” yelled his friend. “ You’ re a dishwasher at the Leaky
Cauldron. . . . but I’m a vampire hunter, I’ve killed about ninety so far -“
A third young wizard, whose pimples were visible even by the dim, silvery light
of the veela, now cut in, “ I’m about to become the youngest ever Minister of Magic, I
am.”
Harry snorted with laughter. He recognized the pimply wizard: His name was
Stan Shunpike, and he was in fact a conductor on the t riple-decker Knight Bus. He
turned to tell Ron this, but Ron’ s face had gone oddly slack, and next second Ron was
yelling, “Did I tell you I’ve invented a broomstick that’ll reach Jupiter?”
“Honestly!” said Hermione, and she and Harry grabbed Ron firmly by the arms,
wheeled him around, and marched him away. By the t ime the sounds of the veela and
their admirers had faded completely, they were in the very heart of the wood. They
seemed to be alone now; everything was much quieter.
Harry looked around. “ I reckon we can j ust wait here, you know. We’ ll hear
anyone coming a mile off.”
The words were hardly out of his mouth, when Ludo Bagman emerged from
behind a tree right ahead of them.
Even by the feeble light of the two wands, Harry could see that a great change
had come over Bagman. He no longer looked buoyant and rosy-faced; there was no
more spring in his step. He looked very white and strained.
“Who’ s that?” he said, blinking down at them, t rying to make out their faces.
“What are you doing in here, all alone?”
They looked at one another, surprised.
“Well – there’s a sort of riot going on,” said Ron.
Bagman stared at him.
“What?”
“At the campsite. . . some people have got hold of a family of Muggles. . .
Bagman swore loudly.
“ Damn them!” he said, looking quite dist racted, and without another word, he
Disapparated with a small pop!
“Not exactly on top of things, Mr. Bagman, is he?” said Hermione, frowning.
“ He was a great Beater, though,” said Ron, leading the way off the path into a
small clearing, and sit t ing down on a patch of dry grass at the foot of a t ree. “ The
Wimbourne Wasps won the league three times in a row while he was with them.”
He took his small figure of Krum out of his pocket , set it down on the ground,
and watched it walk around. Like the real Krum, the model was slight ly duck-footed
and round-shouldered, much less impressive on his splayed feet than on his
broomst ick. Harry was listening for noise from the campsite. Everything seemed
much quieter; perhaps the riot was over.
“I hope the others are okay,” said Hermione after a while.
“They’ll be fine,” said Ron.
“ Imagine if your dad catches Lucius Malfoy,” said Harry, sit t ing down next to
Ron and watching the small f igure of Krum slouching over the fallen leaves. “ He’ s
always said he’d like to get something on him.”
“That’d wipe the smirk off old Draco’s face, all right,” said Ron.
“ Those poor Muggles, though,” said Hermione nervously. “What if they can’ t
get them down?”
“They will,” said Ron reassuringly. “They’ll find a way.”
“Mad, though, to do something like that when the whole Minist ry of Magic’ s
out here tonight !” said Hermione. “ I mean, how do they expect to get away with it?
Do you think they’ve been drinking, or are they just -“
But she broke off abrupt ly and looked over her shoulder. Harry and Ron looked
quickly around too. It sounded as though someone was staggering toward their
clearing. They waited, listening to the sounds of the uneven steps behind the dark
trees. But the footsteps came to a sudden halt.
“Hello?” called Harry.
There was silence. Harry got to his feet and peered around the t ree. It was too
dark to see very far, but he could sense somebody standing j ust beyond the range of
his vision.
“Who’s there?” he said.
And then, without warning, the silence was rent by a voice unlike any they had
heard in the wood; and it uttered, not a panicked shout, but what sounded like a spell.
“MORSMORDRE!”
And something vast , green, and glit tering erupted from the patch of darkness
Harry’ s eyes had been st ruggling to penet rate; it flew up over the t reetops and into
the sky.
“What the – ?“ gasped Ron as he sprang to his feet again, staring up at the
thing that had appeared.
For a split second, Harry thought it was another leprechaun formation. Then he
realized that it was a colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald stars, with
a serpent prot ruding from its mouth like a tongue. As they watched, it rose higher and
higher, blazing in a haze of greenish smoke, etched against the black sky like a new
constellation.
Suddenly, the wood all around them erupted with screams. Harry didn’ t
understand why, but the only possible cause was the sudden appearance of the skull,
which had now risen high enough to illuminate the ent ire wood like some grisly neon
sign. He scanned the darkness for the person who had conj ured the skull, but he
couldn’t see anyone.
“Who’s there?” he called again.
“ Harry, come on, move!” Hermione had seized the collar of his j acket and was
tugging him backward.
“What ’ s the mat ter?” Harry said, start led to see her face so white and
terrified.
“ It ’ s the Dark Mark, Harry!” Hermione moaned, pulling him as hard as she
could. “You-Know-Who’s sign!”
“Voldemort’s – “Harry, come on!”
Harry turned – Ron was hurriedly scooping up his miniature Krum – the three of
them started across the clearing – but before they had taken a few hurried steps, a
series of popping noises announced the arrival of twenty wizards, appearing from thin
air, surrounding them.
Harry whirled around, and in an instant , he registered one fact : Each of these
wizards had his wand out , and every wand was point ing right at himself, Ron, and
Hermione.
Without pausing to think, he yelled, “DUCK!”
He seized the other two and pulled them down onto the ground.
“STUPEFY!” roared twenty voices – there was a blinding series of flashes and
Harry felt the hair on his head ripple as though a powerful wind had swept the
clearing. Raising his head a fract ion of an inch he saw j ets of f iery red light flying
over them f rom the wizards’ wands, crossing one another, bouncing off t ree t runks,
rebounding into the darkness–
“Stop!” yelled a voice he recognized. “STOP! That’s my son!”
Harry’ s hair stopped blowing about . He raised his head a lit t le higher. The
wizard in front of him had lowered his wand. He rolled over and saw Mr. Weasley
striding toward them, looking terrified.
“Ron – Harry” – his voice sounded shaky – “Hermione – are you all right?”
“Out of the way, Arthur,” said a cold, curt voice.
It was Mr. Crouch. He and the other Minist ry wizards were closing in on
them. Harry got to his feet to face them. Mr. Crouch’s face was taut with rage.
“Which of you did it?” he snapped, his sharp eyes dart ing between them.
“Which of you conjured the Dark Mark?”
“We didn’t do that!” said Harry, gesturing up at the skull.
“We didn’ t do anything!” said Ron, who was rubbing his elbow and looking
indignantly at his father. “What did you want to attack us for?”
“ Do not lie, sir!” shouted Mr. Crouch. His wand was st ill point ing direct ly at
Ron, and his eyes were popping – he looked slightly mad. “You have been discovered
at the scene of the crime!”
“ Barty,” whispered a witch in a long woolen dressing gown, “ they’ re kids,
Barty, they’d never have been able to
“Where did the Mark come from, you three?” said Mr. Weasley quickly.
“Over there,” said Hermione shakily, point ing at the place where they had
heard the voice. “ There was someone behind the t rees. . . they shouted words – an
incantation -“
“ Oh, stood over there, did they?” said Mr. Crouch, turning his popping eyes
on Hermione now, disbelief etched all over his face. “ Said an incantat ion, did they?
You seem very well informed about how that Mark is summoned, missy -“
But none of the Minist ry wizards apart f rom Mr. Crouch seemed to think it
remotely likely that Harry, Ron, or Hermione had conj ured the skull; on the
cont rary, at Hermione’ s words, they had all raised their wands again and were
pointing in the direction she had indicated, squinting through the dark trees.
“We’ re too late,” said the witch in the woolen dressing gown, shaking her
head. “They’ll have Disapparated.”
“ I don’ t think so,” said a wizard with a scrubby brown beard. It was Amos
Diggory, Cedric’ s father. “Our Stunners went right through those t rees. . . . There’ s
a good chance we got them. . .
“ Amos, be careful!” said a few of the wizards warningly as Mr. Diggory
squared his shoulders, raised his wand, marched across the clearing, and
disappeared into the darkness. Hermione watched him vanish with her hands over
her mouth.
A few seconds later, they heard Mr. Diggory shout.
“Yes! We got them! There’s someone here! Unconscious! It’s – but – blimey. .
“ You’ ve got someone?” shouted Mr. Crouch, sounding highly disbelieving.
“Who? Who is it?”
They heard snapping twigs, the rust ling of leaves, and then crunching
footsteps as Mr. Diggory reemerged f rom behind the t rees. He was carrying a t iny,
limp figure in his arms. Harry recognized the tea towel at once. It was Winky.
Mr. Crouch did not move or speak as Mr. Diggory deposited his elf on the ground
at his feet . The other Minist ry wizards were all staring at Mr. Crouch. For a few
seconds Crouch remained t ransfixed, his eyes blazing in his white face as he stared
down at Winky. Then he appeared to come to life again.
“This – cannot – be,” he said jerkily. “No -“
He moved quickly around Mr. Diggory and st rode off toward the place where he
had found Winky.
“ No point , Mr. Crouch,” Mr. Diggory called after him. “ There’ s no one else
there.”
But Mr. Crouch did not seem prepared to take his word for it . They could hear
him moving around and the rustling of leaves as he pushed the bushes aside, searching.
“ Bit embarrassing,” Mr. Diggory said grimly, looking down at Winky’ s
unconscious form. “Barty Crouch’s house-elf. . . I mean to say…”
“Come off it, Amos,” said Mr. Weasley quietly, “you don’t seriously think it was
the elf? The Dark Mark’s a wizard’s sign. It requires a wand.”
“Yeah,” said Mr. Diggory, “and she had a wand.”
“What?” said Mr. Weasley.
“Here, look.” Mr. Diggory held up a wand and showed it to Mr. Weasley. “Had it
in her hand. So that ’ s clause three of the Code of Wand Use broken, for a start . No
non-human creature is permitted to carry or use a wand.”
Just then there was another pop, and Ludo Bagman Apparated right next to Mr.
Weasley. Looking breathless and disorientated, he spun on the spot , goggling upward
at the emerald-green skull.
“ The Dark Mark!” he panted, almost t rampling Winky as he turned inquiringly
to his colleagues. “Who did it? Did you get them? Barry! What’s going on?”
Mr. Crouch had returned empty-handed. His face was st ill ghost ly white, and
his hands and his toothbrush mustache were both twitching.
“Where have you been, Barty?” said Bagman. “Why weren’ t you at the match?
Your elf was saving you a seat too – gulping gargoyles!” Bagman had j ust not iced
Winky lying at his feet. “What happened to her?”
“ I have been busy, Ludo,” said Mr. Crouch, st ill talking in the same j erky
fashion, barely moving his lips. “And my elf has been stunned.”
“Stunned? By you lot, you mean? But why – ?“
Comprehension dawned suddenly on Bagman’ s round, shiny face; he looked up
at the skull, down at Winky, and then at Mr. Crouch.
“No!” he said. “Winky? Conjure the Dark Mark? She wouldn’t know how! She’d
need a wand, for a start!”
“ And she had one,” said Mr. Diggory. “ I found her holding one, Ludo. If it ’ s all
right with you, Mr. Crouch, I think we should hear what she’s got to say for herself.”
Crouch gave no sign that he had heard Mr. Diggory, but Mr. Diggory seemed to
take his silence for assent . He raised his own wand, pointed it at Winky, and said,
“Ennervate!”
Winky st irred feebly. Her great brown eyes opened and she blinked several
t imes in a bemused sort of way. Watched by the silent wizards, she raised herself
shakily into a sitting position.
She caught sight of Mr. Diggory’ s feet , and slowly, t remulously, raised her eyes
to stare up into his face; then, more slowly st ill, she looked up into the sky. Harry
could see the float ing skull reflected twice in her enormous, glassy eyes. She gave a
gasp, looked wildly around the crowded clearing, and burst into terrified sobs.
“ Elf!” said Mr. Diggory sternly. “ Do you know who I am? I’m a member of the
Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures!”
Winky began to rock backward and forward on the ground, her breath coming in
sharp bursts. Harry was reminded forcibly of Dobby in his moments of terrified
disobedience.
“ As you see, elf, the Dark Mark was conj ured here a short while ago,” said Mr.
Diggory. “And you were discovered moments later, right beneath it! An explanation, if
you please!”
“I – I – I is not doing it, sir!” Winky gasped. “I is not knowing how, sir!”
“ You were found with a wand in your hand!” barked Mr. Diggory, brandishing it
in front of her. And as the wand caught the green light that was filling the clearing
from the skull above, Harry recognized it
“Hey – that’s mine!” he said
Everyone in the clearing looked at him.
“Excuse me?” said Mr. Diggory, incredulously.
“That’s my wand!” said Harry. “I dropped it!”
“ You dropped it?” repeated Mr. Diggory in disbelief. “ Is this a confession? You
threw it aside after you conjured the Mark?”
“ Amos, think who you’ re talking to!” said Mr. Weasley, very angrily. “ Is Harry
Potter likely to conjure the Dark Mark?”
“Er – of course not,” mumbled Mr. Diggory. “Sorry. . . carried away. .
“I didn’t drop it there, anyway,” said Harry, jerking his thumb toward the trees
beneath the skull. “I missed it right after we got into the wood.”
“ So,” said Mr. Diggory, his eyes hardening as he turned to look at Winky again,
cowering at his feet. “You found this wand, eh, elf? And you picked it up and thought
you’d have some fun with it, did you?”
“ I is not doing magic with it , sir!” squealed Winky, tears st reaming down the
sides of her squashed and bulbous nose. “ I is. . . I is. . . I is j ust picking it up, sir! i is
not making the Dark Mark, sir, i is not knowing how!”
“ It wasn’ t her!” said Hermione. She looked very nervous, speaking up in f ront
of all these Minist ry wizards, yet determined all the same. “Winky’ s got a squeaky
lit t le voice, and the voice we heard doing the incantat ion was much deeper!” She
looked around at Harry and Ron, appealing for their support. “It didn’t sound anything
like Winky, did it?”
“No,” said Harry, shaking his head. “It definitely didn’t sound like an elf.”
“Yeah, it was a human voice,” said Ron.
“Well, we’ ll soon see,” growled Mr. Diggory, looking unimpressed. “ There’ s a
simple way of discovering the last spell a wand performed, elf, did you know that?”
Winky t rembled and shook her head frant ically, her ears flapping, as Mr.
Diggory raised his own wand again and placed it tip to tip with Harry’s.
“Prior Incantato!” roared Mr. Diggory.
Harry heard Hermione gasp, horrified, as a gigant ic serpent -tongued skull
erupted from the point where the two wands met , but it was a mere shadow of the
green skull high above them; it looked as though it were made of thick gray smoke:
the ghost of a spell.
“Deletrius!” Mr. Diggory shouted, and the smoky skull vanished in a wisp of
smoke.
“So,” said Mr. Diggory with a kind of savage triumph, looking down upon Winky,
who was still shaking convulsively.
“ I is not doing it !” she squealed, her eyes rolling in terror. “ I is not , I is not , I
is not knowing how! I is a good elf, I isn’t using wands, I isn’t knowing how!”
“ You’ ve been caught red-handed, el f !” Mr. Diggory roared. “ Caught wit h t he
guilty wand in your hand!”
“Amos,” said Mr. Weasley loudly, “think about it. . . precious few wizards know
how to do that spell. . . . Where would she have learned it?”
“ Perhaps Amos is suggest ing,” said Mr. Crouch, cold anger in every syllable,
“that I routinely teach my servants to conjure the Dark Mark?”
There was a deeply unpleasant silence. Amos Diggory looked horrified. “Mr.
Crouch.. . not. . . not at all.
“ You have now come very close to accusing the two people in this clearing who
are least likely to conjure that Mark!” barked Mr. Crouch. “Harry Potter – and myself.
I suppose you are familiar with the boy’s story, Amos?”
“Of course – everyone knows -“ mut tered Mr. Diggory, looking highly
discomforted.
“ And I t rust you remember the many proofs I have given, over a long career,
that I despise and detest the Dark Arts and those who pract ice them?” Mr. Crouch
shouted, his eyes bulging again.
“Mr. Crouch, I – I never suggested you had anything to do with it !” Amos
Diggory muttered again, now reddening behind his scrubby brown beard.
“If you accuse my elf, you accuse me, Diggory!” shouted Mr. Crouch. “Where
else would she have learned to conjure it?”
“She – she might’ve picked it up anywhere -“
“Precisely, Amos,” said Mr. Weasley. “She might have picked it up anywhere.. .
. Winky?” he said kindly, turning to the elf, but she flinched as though he too was
shouting at her. “Where exactly did you find Harry’s wand?”
Winky was twist ing the hem of her tea towel so violent ly that it was fraying
beneath her fingers.
“I – I is finding it. . . finding it there, sir. . . .“ she whispered, “there . . . in the
trees, sir.
“ You see, Amos?” said Mr. Weasley. “Whoever conj ured the Mark could have
Disapparated right after they’d done it, leaving Harry’s wand behind. A clever thing to
do, not using their own wand, which could have bet rayed them. And Winky here had
the misfortune to come across the wand moments later and pick it up.”
“ But then, she’ d have been only a few feet away from the real culprit !” said
Mr. Diggory impatiently. “Elf? Did you see anyone?”
Winky began to t remble worse than ever. Her giant eyes flickered from Mr.
Diggory, to Ludo Bagman, and onto Mr. Crouch. Then she gulped and said, “ I is seeing
no one, sir. . . no one. .
“ Amos,” said Mr. Crouch curt ly, “ I am fully aware that , in the ordinary course
of events, you would want to take Winky into your department for quest ioning. I ask
you, however, to allow me to deal with her.”
Mr. Diggory looked as though he didn’ t think much of this suggest ion at all, but
it was clear to Harry that Mr. Crouch was such an important member of the Minist ry
that he did not dare refuse him.
“You may rest assured that she will be punished,” Mr. Crouch added coldly.
“M-m-master. . .“ Winky stammered, looking up at Mr. Crouch, her eyes
brimming with tears. “M-m-master, p-p-please. . .“
Mr. Crouch stared back, his face somehow sharpened, each line upon it more
deeply etched. There was no pity in his gaze.
“Winky has behaved tonight in a manner I would not have believed possible,”
he said slowly. “ I told her to remain in the tent . I told her to stay there while I went
to sort out the trouble. And I find that she disobeyed me. This means clothes.”
“ No!” shrieked Winky, prost rat ing herself at Mr. Crouch’ s feet . “ No, master!
Not clothes, not clothes!”
Harry knew that the only way to turn a house-elf free was to present it with
proper garments. It was pit iful to see the way Winky clutched at her tea towel as she
sobbed over Mr. Crouch’s feet.
“ But she was frightened!” Hermione burst out angrily, glaring at Mr. Crouch.
“ Your elf’ s scared of heights, and those wizards in masks were levitat ing people! You
can’t blame her for wanting to get out of their way!”
Mr. Crouch took a step backward, f reeing himself f rom contact with the elf,
whom he was surveying as though she were something filthy and rot ten that was
contaminating his over-shined shoes.
“ I have no use for a house-elf who disobeys me,” he said coldly, looking over
at Hermione. “ I have no use for a servant who forgets what is due to her master, and
to her master’s reputation.”
Winky was crying so hard that her sobs echoed around the clearing. There was
a very nasty silence, which was ended by Mr. Weasley, who said quiet ly, “Well, I think
I’ ll take my lot back to the tent , if nobody’ s got any obj ect ions. Amos, that wand’ s
told us all it can – if Harry could have it back, please -“
Mr. Diggory handed Harry his wand and Harry pocketed it.
“ Come on, you three,” Mr. Weasley said quiet ly. But Hermione didn’ t seem to
want to move; her eyes were st ill upon the sobbing elf. “ Hermione!” Mr. Weasley
said, more urgently. She turned and followed Harry and Ron out of the clearing and off
through the trees.
“What ’ s going to happen to Winky?” said Hermione, the moment they had left
the clearing.
“I don’t know,” said Mr. Weasley.
“ The way they were t reat ing her!” said Hermione furiously. “Mr. Diggory,
calling her ‘ elf’ all the t ime. . . and Mr. Crouch! He knows she didn’ t do it and he’ s
still going to sack her! He didn’t care how frightened she’d been, or how upset she was
– it was like she wasn’t even human!”
“Well, she’s not,” said Ron.
Hermione rounded on him.
“That doesn’t mean she hasn’t got feelings, Ron. It’s disgusting the way -“
“Hermione, I agree with you,” said Mr. Weasley quickly, beckoning her on, “but
now is not the t ime to discuss elf rights. I want to get back to the tent as fast as we
can. What happened to the others?”
“We lost them in the dark,” said Ron. “ Dad, why was everyone so upt ight
about that skull thing?”
“I’ll explain everything back at the tent,” said Mr. Weasley tensely.
But when they reached the edge of the wood, their progress was impeded. A
large crowd of frightened-looking witches and wizards was congregated there, and
when they saw Mr. Weasley coming toward them, many of them surged forward.
“What’s going on in there?”
“Who conjured it?”
“Arthur – it’s not – Him?”
“Of course it ’ s not Him,” said Mr. Weasley impat ient ly. “We don’ t know who it
was; it looks like they Disapparated. Now excuse me, please, I want to get to bed.”
He led Harry, Ron, and Hermione through the crowd and back into the
campsite. All was quiet now; there was no sign of the masked wizards, though several
ruined tents were still smoking.
Charlie’s head was poking out of the boys’ tent.
“ Dad, what ’ s going on?” he called through the dark. “ Fred, George, and Ginny
got back okay, but the others -“
“ I’ ve got them here,” said Mr. Weasley, bending down and entering the tent .
Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered after him.
Bill was sit t ing at the small kitchen table, holding a bedsheet to his arm, which
was bleeding profusely. Charlie had a large rip in his shirt , and Percy was sport ing a
bloody nose. Fred, George, and Ginny looked unhurt, though shaken.
“ Did you get them, Dad?” said Bill sharply. “ The person who conj ured the
Mark?”
“ No,” said Mr. Weasley. “We found Barry Crouch’ s elf holding Harry’ s wand,
but we’re none the wiser about who actually conured the Mark.”
“What?” said Bill, Charlie, and Percy together. “Harry’s wand?” said Fred.
“Mr. Crouch’s elf” said Percy, sounding thunderstruck.
With some assistance from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Mr. Weasley explained
what had happened in the woods. When they had finished their story, Percy swelled
indignantly.
“Well, Mr. Crouch is quite right to get rid of an elf like that !” he said.
“ Running away when he’ d expressly told her not to. . . embarrassing him in front of
the whole Minist ry. . . how would that have looked, if she’ d been brought up in f ront
of the Department for the Regulation and Control -“
“ She didn’ t do anything – she was j ust in the wrong place at the wrong t ime!”
Hermione snapped at Percy, who looked very taken aback. Hermione had always got
on fairly well with Percy – better, indeed, than any of the others.
“ Hermione, a wizard in Mr. Crouch’ s posit ion can’ t afford a house-elf who’ s
going to run amok with a wand!” said Percy pompously, recovering himself.
“ She didn’ t run amok!” shouted Hermione. “ She j ust picked it up off the
ground!”
“ Look, can someone j ust explain what that skull thing was?” said Ron
impatiently. “It wasn’t hurting anyone. . . . Why’s it such a big deal?”
“ I told you, it ’ s You-Know-Who’ s symbol, Ron,” said Hermione, before anyone
else could answer. “I read about it in The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts.”
“ And it hasn’ t been seen for thirteen years,” said Mr. Weasley quiet ly. “Of
course people panicked. . . it was almost like seeing You-Know-Who back again.”
“ I don’ t get it ,” said Ron, frowning. “ I mean. . . it ’ s st ill only a shape in the
sky. . .
“ Ron, You-Know-Who and his followers sent the Dark Mark into the air
whenever they killed,” said Mr. Weasley. “ The terror it inspired. . . you have no idea,
you’ re too young. Just picture coming home and finding the Dark Mark hovering over
your house, and knowing what you’ re about to find inside. . . .” Mr. Weasley winced.
“Everyone’s worst fear. . . the very worst..
There was silence for a moment . Then Bill, removing the sheet from his arm to
check on his cut , said, “Well, it didn’ t help us tonight , whoever conj ured it . It scared
the Death Eaters away the moment they saw it . They all Disapparated before we’ d
got near enough to unmask any of them. We caught the Robertses before they hit the
ground, though. They’re having their memories modified right now.”
“Death Eaters?” said Harry. “What are Death Eaters?”
“ It ’ s what You-Know-Who’ s supporters called themselves,” said Bill. “ I think
we saw what ’ s left of them tonight – the ones who managed to keep themselves out of
Azkaban, anyway.”
“We can’ t prove it was them, Bill,” said Mr. Weasley. “ Though it probably
was,” he added hopelessly.
“ Yeah, I bet it was!” said Ron suddenly . “ Dad, we met Draco Malfoy in the
woods, and he as good as told us his dad was one of those nutters in masks! And we all
know the Malfoys were right in with You-Know-Who!”
“ But what were Voldemort ’ s supporters -“ Harry began. Everybody flinched –
like most of the wizarding world, the Weasleys always avoided saying Voldemort ’ s
name. “ Sorry,” said Harry quickly. “What were You-Know-Who’ s supporters up to,
levitating Muggles? I mean, what was the point?”
“ The point?” said Mr. Weasley with a hollow laugh. “ Harry, that ’ s their idea of
fun. Half the Muggle killings back when You-Know-Who was in power were done for
fun. I suppose they had a few drinks tonight and couldn’ t resist reminding us all that
lots of them are still at large. A nice little reunion for them,” he finished disgustedly.
“ But if they were the Death Eaters, why did they Disapparate when they saw
the Dark Mark?” said Ron. “They’d have been pleased to see it, wouldn’t they?”
“ Use your brains, Ron,” said Bill. “ If they really were Death Eaters, they
worked very hard to keep out of Azkaban when You-Know-Who lost power, and told all
sorts of lies about him forcing them to kill and torture people. I bet they’ d be even
more frightened than the rest of us to see him come back. They denied they’ d ever
been involved with him when he lost his powers, and went back to their daily lives. . .
. I don’t reckon he’d be over-pleased with them, do you?”
“So. . . whoever conjured the Dark Mark. . .“ said Hermione slowly, “were they
doing it to show support for the Death Eaters, or to scare them away?”
“ Your guess is as good as ours, Hermione,” said Mr. Weasley. “ But I’ ll tell you
this. . . it was only the Death Eaters who ever knew how to conj ure it . I’ d be very
surprised if the person who did it hadn’ t been a Death Eater once, even if they’ re not
now. . Listen, it ’ s very late, and if your mother hears what ’ s happened she’ ll be
worried sick. We’ ll get a few more hours sleep and then t ry and get an early Portkey
out of here.”
Harry got back into his bunk with his head buzzing. He knew he ought to feel
exhausted: It was nearly three in the morning, but he felt wide-awake – wide-awake,
and worried.
Three days ago – it felt like much longer, but it had only been three days – he
had awoken with his scar burning. And tonight , for the first t ime in thirteen years,
Lord Voldemort’s mark had appeared in the sky. What did these things mean?
He thought of the let ter he had writ ten to Sirius before leaving Privet Drive.
Would Sirius have got ten it yet? When would he reply? Harry lay looking up at the
canvas, but no flying fantasies came to him now to ease him to sleep, and it was a long
time after Charlie’s snores filled the tent that Harry finally dozed off.
CHAPTER TEN – MAYHEM AT THE MINISTRY
Mr. Weasley woke them after only a few hours sleep. He used magic to pack up
the tents, and they left the campsite as quickly as possible, passing Mr. Roberts at the
door of his cot tage. Mr. Roberts had a st range, dazed look about him, and he waved
them off with a vague “Merry Christmas.”
“ He’ ll be all right ,” said Mr. Weasley quiet ly as they marched off onto the
moor. “ Somet imes, when a person’ s memory’ s modif ied, it makes him a bit
disorientated for a while…and that was a big thing they had to make him forget.”
They heard urgent voices as they approached the spot where the
Portkeys lay, and when they reached it , they found a great number of witches and
wizards gathered around Basil, the keeper of the Portkeys, all clamoring to get away
from the campsite as quickly as possible. Mr. Weasley had a hurried discussion with
Basil; they j oined the queue, and were able to take an old rubber t ire back to
Stoatshead Hill before the sun had really risen. They walked back through Ot tery St .
Catchpole and up the damp lane toward the Burrow in the dawn light , talking very
lit t le because they were so exhausted, and thinking longingly of their breakfast . As
they rounded the corner and the Burrow came into view, a cry echoed along the lane.
“Oh thank goodness, thank goodness!”
Mrs. Weasley, who had evident ly been wait ing for them in the f ront yard, came
running toward them, st ill wearing her bedroom slippers, her face pale and st rained, a
rolled-up copy of the Daily Prophet clutched in her hand.
“Arthur – I’ve been so worried – so worried-”
She flung her arms around Mr. Weasley’s neck, and the Daily Prophet fell out of
her limp hand onto the ground. Looking down, Harry saw the headline: SCENES OF
TERROR AT THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP, complete with a twinkling black-and-white
photograph of the Dark Mark over the treetops.
“ You’ re all right ,” Mrs. Weasley mut tered dist ractedly, releasing Mr. Weasley
and staring around at them all with red eyes, “you’re alive. . . . Oh boys. .
And to everybody’ s surprise, she seized Fred and George and pulled them both
into such a tight hug that their heads banged together.
“Ouch! Mum – you’re strangling us –“
“ I shouted at you before you lef t !” Mrs. Weasley said, start ing to sob. “ It ’ s all
I’ve been thinking about! What if You-Know-Who had got you, and the last thing I ever
said to you was that you didn’t get enough OW.L.s? Oh Fred. . . George. .”
“ Come on, now, Molly, we’ re all perfect ly okay,” said Mr. Weasley soothingly,
prising her off the twins and leading her back toward the house. “Bill,” he added in an
undertone, “pick up that paper, I want to see what it says. . .”
When they were all crammed into the t iny kitchen, and Hermione had made
Mrs. Weasley a cup of very st rong tea, into which Mr. Weasley insisted on pouring a
shot of Ogdens Old Firewhiskey, Bill handed his father the newspaper. Mr. Weasley
scanned the front page while Percy looked over his shoulder.
“ I knew it ,” said Mr. Weasley heavily. “Minist ry blunders. . . culprit s not
apprehended. . . lax security. . . Dark wizards running unchecked… national disgrace.
. . Who wrote this? Ah. . . of course. . . Rita Skeeter.”
“ That woman’ s got it in for the Minist ry of Magic!” said Percy furiously. “ Last
week she was saying we’ re wast ing our t ime quibbling about cauldron thickness, when
we should be stamping out vampires! As if it wasn’ t specifically stated in paragraph
twelve of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans –“
“Do us a favor, Perce,” said Bill, yawning, “and shut up.”
“ I’m ment ioned,” said Mr. Weasley, his eyes widening behind his glasses as he
reached the bottom of the Daily Prophet article.
“Where?” splut tered Mrs. Weasley, choking on her tea and whiskey. “ If I’ d
seen that, I’d have known you were alive!”
“ Not by name,” said Mr. Weasley. “ Listen to this: ‘ If t he t errif ied wizards and
wit ches who wait ed breat hlessly for news at t he edge of t he wood expect ed
reassurance f rom the Minist ry ofMagic, t hey were sadly disappoint ed. A Minist ry
of f icial emerged some t ime af t er the appearance of t he Dark Mark al leging t hat
nobody had been hurt , but ref l ising t o give any more informat ion. Whet her t his
statement will be enough to quash the rumors that several bodies were removed from
t he woods an hour lat er, remains to be seen.’ Oh really,” said Mr. Weasley in
exasperat ion, handing the paper to Percy. “ Nobody was hurt. What was I supposed to
say? Rumors t hat several bodies were removed f rom t he woods. . . well, there
certainly will be rumors now she’s printed that.”
He heaved a deep sigh. “Molly, I’m going to have to go into the office; this is
going to take some smoothing over.”
“ I’ ll come with you, Father,” said Percy important ly. “Mr. Crouch will need all
hands on deck. And I can give him my cauldron report in person.”
He bust led out of the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley looked most upset . “ Arthur,
you’ re supposed to be on holiday! This hasn’ t got anything to do with your office;
surely they can handle this without you?”
“ I’ ve got to go, Molly,” said Mr. Weasley. “ I’ ve made things worse. I’ ll j ust
change into my robes and I’ll be off. . . .“
“Mrs. Weasley,” said Harry suddenly, unable to contain himself, “Hedwig hasn’t
arrived with a letter for me, has she?”
“ Hedwig, dear?” said Mrs. Weasley dist ractedly. “ No. . . no, there hasn’ t been
any post at all.”
Ron and Hermione looked curiously at Harry. With a meaningful look at both of
them he said, “All right if I go and dump my stuff in your room, Ron?”
“Yeah. . . think I will too,” said Ron at once. “Hermione?”
“ Yes,” she said quickly, and the three of them marched out of the kitchen and
up the stairs.
“What ’ s up, Harry?” said Ron, the moment they had closed the door of the
attic room behind them.
“ There’ s something I haven’ t told you,” Harry said. “ On Saturday morning, I
woke up with my scar hurting again.”
Ron’ s and Hermione’ s react ions were almost exact ly as Harry had imagined
them back in his bedroom on Privet Drive. Hermione gasped and started making
suggest ions at once, ment ioning a number of reference books, and everybody from
Albus Dumbledore to Madam Pomfrey, the Hogwarts nurse. Ron simply looked
dumbstruck.
“But – he wasn’ t there, was he? You-Know-Who? I mean – last t ime your scar
kept hurting, he was at Hogwarts, wasn’t he?”
“ I’m sure he wasn’ t on Privet Drive,” said Harry. “ But I was dreaming about
him.. . him and Peter – you know, Wormtail. I can’ t remember all of it now, but they
were plotting to kill…someone.”
He had teetered for a moment on the verge of saying “me,” but couldn’ t bring
himself to make Hermione look any more horrified than she already did.
“It was only a dream,” said Ron bracingly. “Just a nightmare.”
“ Yeah, but was it , though?” said Harry, turning to look out of the window at
the brightening sky. “ It ’ s weird, isn’ t it?. . . My scar hurts, and three days later the
Death Eaters are on the march, and Voldemort’s sign’s up in the sky again.”
“Don’t – say – his – name!” Ron hissed through gritted teeth.
“ And remember what Professor Trelawney said?” Harry went on, ignoring Ron.
“At the end of last year?”
Professor Trelawney was their Divinat ion teacher at Hogwarts. Hermione’ s
terrified look vanished as she let out a derisive snort.
“Oh Harry, you aren’t going to pay attention to anything that old fraud says?”
“You weren’t there,” said Harry. “You didn’t hear her. This time was different.
I told you, she went into a t rance – a real one. And she said the Dark Lord would rise
again. . . great er and more t errible t han ever before. . . and he’ d manage it because
his servant was going to go back to him. . . and that night Wormtail escaped.”
There was a silence in which Ron fidgeted absentmindedly with a hole in his
Chudley Cannons bedspread.
“Why were you asking if Hedwig had come, Harry?” Hermione asked. “ Are you
expecting a letter?”
“ I told Sirius about my scar,” said Harry, shrugging. “ I’m wait ing for his
answer.”
“Good thinking!” said Ron, his expression clearing. “ I bet Sirius’ll know what to
do!”
“I hoped he’d get back to me quickly,” said Harry.
“ But we don’ t know where Sirius is. . . he could be in Africa or somewhere,
couldn’ t he?” said Hermione reasonably. “ Hedwig’ s not going to manage that j ourney
in a few days.”
“ Yeah, I know,” said Harry, but there was a leaden feeling in his stomach as he
looked out of the window at the Hedwig-free sky.
“ Come and have a game of Quidditch in the orchard, Harry” said Ron. “ Come
on – three on three, Bill and Charlie and Fred and George will play. .. . You can try out
the Wronski Feint… .“
“ Ron,” said Hermione, in an I-don’t-think-you’re-being-very-sensit ive sort of
voice, “ Harry doesn’ t want to play Quidditch right now… . He’ s worried, and he’ s
tired. . . . We all need to go to bed…”
“ Yeah, I want to play Quidditch,” said Harry suddenly. “ Hang on, I’ ll get my
Firebolt.”
Hermione left the room, mut tering something that sounded very much like
“Boys.”
Neither Mr. Weasley nor Percy was at home much over the following week.
Both left the house each morning before the rest of the family got up, and returned
well after dinner every night.
“ It ’ s been an absolute uproar,” Percy told them important ly the Sunday
evening before they were due to return to Hogwarts. “ I’ ve been put t ing out fires all
week. People keep sending Howlers, and of course, if you don’ t open a Howler
straight away, it explodes. Scorch marks all over my desk and my best quill reduced to
cinders.”
“Why are they all sending Howlers?” asked Ginny, who was mending her copy
of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi with Spellotape on the rug in front of the
living room fire.
“ Complaining about security at the World Cup,” said Percy. “ They want
compensat ion for their ruined property. Mundungus Fletcher’ s put in a claim for a
twelve-bedroomed tent with en-suite Jacuzzi, but I’ ve got his number. I know for a
fact he was sleeping under a cloak propped on sticks.”
Mrs. Weasley glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner. Harry liked this
clock. It was completely useless if you wanted to know the t ime, but otherwise very
informative. It had nine golden hands, and each of them was engraved with one of the
Weasley family’ s names. There were no numerals around the face, but descriptions of
where each family member might be. “ Home,” “ school,” and “ work” were there, but
there was also “ t raveling,” “ lost ,” “ hospital,” “ prison,” and, in the posit ion where the
number twelve would be on a normal clock, “mortal peril.”
Eight of the hands were current ly point ing to the “ home” posit ion, but Mr.
Weasley’s, which was the longest, was still pointing to “work.” Mrs. Weasley sighed.
“ Your father hasn’ t had to go into the off ice on weekends since the days of
You-Know-Who,” she said. “ They’ re working him far too hard. His dinner’ s going to
be ruined if he doesn’t come home soon.”
“Well, Father feels he’ s got to make up for his mistake at the match, doesn’ t
he?” said Percy. “ If t ruth be told, he was a tad unwise to make a public statement
without clearing it with his Head of Department first -“
“ Don’ t you dare blame your father for what that wretched Skeeter woman
wrote!” said Mrs. Weasley, flaring up at once.
“ If Dad hadn’ t said anything, old Rita would j ust have said it was disgraceful
that nobody from the Minist ry had commented,” said Bill, who was playing chess with
Ron. “ Rita Skeeter never makes anyone look good. Remember, she interviewed all
the Gringotts’ Charm Breakers once, and called me ‘a long-haired pillock’?”
“Well, it is a bit long, dear,” said Mrs. Weasley gently. “If you’d just let me -“
“No, Mum.”
Rain lashed against the living room window. Hermione was immersed in The
St andard Book of Spel ls, Grade 4, copies of which Mrs. Weasley had bought for her,
Harry, and Ron in Diagon Alley. Charlie was darning a fireproof balaclava. Harry was
polishing his Firebolt , the broomst ick servicing kit Hermione had given him for his
thirteenth birthday open at his feet . Fred and George were sit t ing in a far corner,
quills out, talking in whispers, their heads bent over a piece of parchment.
“What are you two up to?” said Mrs. Weasley sharply, her eyes on the twins.
“Homework,” said Fred vaguely.
“Don’t be ridiculous, you’re still on holiday,” said Mrs. Weasley.
“Yeah, we’ve left it a bit late,” said George.
“ You’ re not by any chance writ ing out a new order form, are you?” said Mrs.
Weasley shrewdly. “You wouldn’t be thinking of restarting Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes,
by any chance?”
“ Now, Mum,” said Fred, looking up at her, a pained look on his face. “ If the
Hogwarts Express crashed tomorrow, and George and I died, how would you feel to
know that the last thing we ever heard from you was an unfounded accusation?”
Everyone laughed, even Mrs. Weasley.
“Oh your father’s coming!” she said suddenly, looking up at the clock again.
Mr. Weasley’ s hand had suddenly spun from “ work” to “ t raveling” ; a second
later it had shuddered to a halt on “home” with the others, and they heard him calling
from the kitchen.
“Coming, Arthur!” called Mrs. Weasley, hurrying out of the room.
A few moments later, Mr. Weasley came into the warm living room carrying his
dinner on a tray. He looked completely exhausted.
“Well, the fat ’ s really in the f ire now,” he told Mrs. Weasley as he sat down in
an armchair near the hearth and toyed unenthusiast ically with his somewhat shriveled
caulif lower. “ Rita Skeeter’ s been ferret ing around all week, looking for more Minist ry
mess-ups to report . And now she’ s found out about poor old Bertha going missing, so
that ’ ll be the headline in the Prophet tomorrow. I told Bagman he should have sent
someone to look for her ages ago.”
“Mr. Crouch has been saying it for weeks and weeks,” said Percy swiftly.
“ Crouch is very lucky Rita hasn’ t found out about Winky,” said Mr. Weasley
irritably. “ There’ d be a week’ s worth of headlines in his house-elf being caught
holding the wand that conjured the Dark Mark.”
“I thought we were all agreed that that elf, while irresponsible, did not conjure
the Mark?” said Percy hotly.
“ If you ask me, Mr. Crouch is very lucky no one at the Daily Prophet knows how
mean he is to elves!” said Hermione angrily.
“ Now look here, Hermione!” said Percy. “ A high-ranking Minist ry official like
Mr. Crouch deserves unswerving obedience from his servants –“
“His slave, you mean!” said Hermione, her voice rising passionately, “because
he didn’t pay Winky, did he?”
“ I think you’ d all bet ter go upstairs and check that you’ ve packed properly!”
said Mrs. Weasley, breaking up the argument. “Come on now, all of you. . . .“
Harry repacked his broomst ick servicing kit , put his Firebolt over his shoulder,
and went back upstairs with Ron. The rain sounded even louder at the top of the
house, accompanied by loud whist lings and moans from the wind, not to ment ion
sporadic howls from the ghoul who lived in the attic. Pigwidgeon began twittering and
zooming around his cage when they entered. The sight of the half-packed t runks
seemed to have sent him into a frenzy of excitement.
“ Bung him some Owl Treats,” said Ron, throwing a packet across to Harry. “ It
might shut him up.”
Harry poked a few Owl Treats through the bars of Pigwidgeon’ s cage, then
turned to his trunk. Hedwig’s cage stood next to it, still empty.
“It’s been over a week,” Harry said, looking at Hedwig’s deserted perch. “Ron,
you don’t reckon Sirius has been caught, do you?”
“ Nah, it would’ ve been in the Daily Prophet ,” said Ron. “ The Minist ry would
want to show they’d caught someone, wouldn’t they?”
“Yeah, I suppose. . . .“
“ Look, here’ s the stuff Mum got for you in Diagon Alley. And she’ s got some
gold out of your vault for you. . . and she’s washed all your socks.”
He heaved a pile of parcels onto Harry’ s camp bed and dropped the money bag
and a load of socks next to it. Harry started unwrapping the shopping. Apart from The
Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4, by Miranda Goshawk, he had a handful of new quills,
a dozen rolls of parchment , and ref ills for his pot ion-making kit – he had been running
low on spine of lionfish and essence of belladonna. He was j ust piling underwear into
his cauldron when Ron made a loud noise of disgust behind him.
“What is that supposed to be?”
He was holding up something that looked to Harry like a long, maroon velvet
dress. It had a moldy-looking lace frill at the collar and matching lace cuffs.
There was a knock on the door, and Mrs. Weasley entered, carrying an armful
of freshly laundered Hogwarts robes.
“ Here you are,” she said, sort ing them into two piles. “Now, mind you pack
them properly so they don’t crease.”
“Mum, you’ve given me Ginny’s new dress,” said Ron, handing it out to her.
“Of course I haven’t,” said Mrs. Weasley. “That’s for you. Dress robes.”
“What?” said Ron, looking horror-struck.
“ Dress robes!” repeated Mrs. Weasley. “ It says on your school list that you’ re
supposed to have dress robes this year. . . robes for formal occasions.”
“ You’ ve got to be kidding,” said Ron in disbelief. “ I’m not wearing that , no
way.”
“ Everyone wears them, Ron!” said Mrs. Weasley crossly. “ They’ re all like that !
Your father’s got some for smart parties!”
“I’ll go starkers before I put that on,” said Ron stubbornly.
“ Don’ t be so silly,” said Mrs. Weasley. “ You’ ve got to have dress robes, they’ re
on your list! I got some for Harry too. . . show him, Harry… .“
In some t repidat ion, Harry opened the last parcel on his camp bed. It wasn’ t as
bad as he had expected, however; his dress robes didn’t have any lace on them at all –
in fact , they were more or less the same as his school ones, except that they were
bottle green instead of black.
“ I thought they’ d bring out the color of your eyes, dear,” said Mrs. Weasley
fondly.
“Well, they’ re okay!” said Ron angrily, looking at Harry’ s robes. “Why couldn’ t
I have some like that?”
“ Because. . . well, I had to get yours secondhand, and there wasn’ t a lot of
choice!” said Mrs. Weasley, flushing.
Harry looked away. He would willingly have split all the money in his Gringot ts
vault with the Weasleys, but he knew they would never take it.
“I’m never wearing them,” Ron was saying stubbornly. “Never.”
“ Fine,” snapped Mrs. Weasley. “ Go naked. And, Harry, make sure you get a
picture of him. Goodness knows I could do with a laugh.”
She left the room, slamming the door behind her. There was a funny
splut tering noise from behind them. Pigwidgeon was choking on an overlarge Owl
Treat.
“Why is everything I own rubbish?” said Ron furiously, st riding across the room
to unstick Pigwidgeon’s beak.
CHAPTER ELEVEN – ABOARD THE HOGWART EXPRESS
There was a definite end-of-the-holidays gloom in the air when Harry awoke
next morning. Heavy rain was st ill splat tering against the window as he got dressed in
j eans and a sweatshirt ; they would change into their school robes on the Hogwarts
Express.
He, Ron, Fred, and George had just reached the first-floor landing on their way
down to breakfast , when Mrs. Weasley appeared at the foot of the stairs, looking
harassed.
“ Arthur!” she called up the staircase. “ Arthur! Urgent message from the
Ministry!”
Harry flat tened himself against the wall as Mr. Weasley came clat tering past
with his robes on back-to-front and hurt led out of sight . When Harry and the others
entered the kitchen, they saw Mrs. Weasley rummaging anxiously in the drawers – “I’ve
got a quill here somewhere!” – and Mr. Weasley bending over the fire, talking to –
Harry shut his eyes hard and opened them again to make sure that they were
working properly.
Amos Diggory’ s head was sit t ing in the middle of the flames like a large,
bearded egg. It was talking very fast , completely unperturbed by the sparks flying
around it and the flames licking its ears.
“. . . Muggle neighbors heard bangs and shouting, so they went and called those
what-d’you-call-’ems – please-men. Arthur, you’ve got to get over there –“
“ Here!” said Mrs. Weasley breathlessly, pushing a piece of parchment , a bot t le
of ink, and a crumpled quill into Mr. Weasley’s hands.
“ – it ’ s a real st roke of luck I heard about it ,” said Mr. Diggory’ s head. “ I had to
come into the office early to send a couple of owls, and I found the Improper Use of
Magic lot all setting off — if Rita Skeeter gets hold of this one, Arthur –“
“What does Mad-Eye say happened?” asked Mr. Weasley, unscrewing the ink
bottle, loading up his quill, and preparing to take notes.
Mr. Diggory’ s head rolled its eyes. “ Says he heard an int ruder in his yard. Says
he was creeping toward the house, but was ambushed by his dustbins.”
“What did the dustbins do?” asked Mr. Weasley, scribbling frantically.
“Made one hell of a noise and fired rubbish everywhere, as far as I can tell,”
said Mr. Diggory. “Apparently one of them was still rocketing around when the pleasemen
turned up -“
Mr. Weasley groaned.
“And what about the intruder?”
“ Arthur, you know Mad-Eye,” said Mr. Diggory’ s head, rolling its eyes again.
“ Someone creeping into his yard in the dead of night? More likely there’ s a very shellshocked
cat wandering around somewhere, covered in potato peelings. But if the
Improper Use of Magic lot get their hands on Mad-Eye, he’s had it — think of his record
— we’ ve got to get him off on a minor charge, something in your department — what
are exploding dustbins worth?”
“Might be a caut ion,” said Mr. Weasley, st ill writ ing very fast , his brow
furrowed. “Mad-Eye didn’t use his wand? He didn’t actually attack anyone?”
“ I’ ll bet he leapt out of bed and started j inxing everything he could reach
through the window,” said Mr. Diggory, “ but they’ ll have a j ob proving it , there aren’ t
any casualties.”
“ All right , I’m off,” Mr. Weasley said, and he stuffed the parchment with his
notes on it into his pocket and dashed out of the kitchen again.
Mr. Diggory’s head looked around at Mrs. Weasley.
“ Sorry about this, Molly,” it said, more calmly, “ bothering you so early and
everything…but Arthur’ s the only one who can get Mad-Eye of f, and Mad-Eye’s
supposed to be starting his new job today. Why he had to choose last night. .”
“ Never mind, Amos,” said Mrs. Weasley. “ Sure you won’ t have a bit of toast or
anything before you go?”
“Oh go on, then,” said Mr. Diggory.
Mrs. Weasley took a piece of but tered toast from a stack on the kitchen table,
put it into the fire tongs, and transferred it into Mr. Diggory’s mouth.
“Fanks,” he said in a muffled voice, and then, with a small pop, vanished.
Harry could hear Mr. Weasley calling hurried good-byes to Bill, Charlie, Percy,
and the girls. Within five minutes, he was back in the kitchen, his robes on the right
way now, dragging a comb through his hair.
“ I’ d bet ter hurry – you have a good term, boys, said Mr. Weasley to Harry, Ron,
and the twins, fastening a cloak over his shoulders and preparing to Disapparate.
“Molly, are you going to be all right taking the kids to King’s Cross?”
“Of course I will,” she said. “You just look after Mad-Eye, we’ll be fine.”
As Mr. Weasley vanished, Bill and Charlie entered the kitchen.
“Did someone say Mad-Eye?” Bill asked. “What’s he been up to now.”
“He says someone tried to break into his house last night,” said Mrs. Weasley.
“Mad-Eye Moody?” said George thought fully, spreading marmalade on his toast .
“Isn’t he that nutter -“
“Your father thinks very highly of Mad-Eye Moody,” said Mrs. Weasley sternly.
“ Yeah, well, Dad collects plugs, doesn’ t he?” said Fred quiet ly as Mrs. Weasley
left the room. “Birds of a feather. . .“
“Moody was a great wizard in his time,” said Bill.
“He’s an old friend of Dumbledore’s, isn’t he?” said Charlie.
“ Dumbledore’ s not what you’ d call normal, though, is he?” said Fred. “ I
mean, I know he’s a genius and everything.. .“
“Who is Mad-Eye?” asked Harry.
“ He’ s ret ired, used to work at the Minist ry,” said Charlie. “ I met him once
when Dad took me into work with him. He was an Auror – one of the best . . . a Dark
wizard catcher,” he added, seeing Harry’ s blank look “ Half the cells in Azkaban are
full because of him. He made himself loads of enemies, though. . . the families of
people he caught , mainly. . . and I heard he’ s been get t ing really paranoid in his old
age. Doesn’t trust anyone anymore. Sees Dark wizards everywhere.”
Bill and Charlie decided to come and see everyone off at King’ s Cross stat ion,
but Percy, apologizing most profusely, said that he really needed to get to work.
“ I j ust can’ t j ust ify taking more t ime off at the moment ,” he told them. “Mr.
Crouch is really starting to rely on me.”
“ Yeah, you know what , Percy?” said George seriously. “ I reckon he’ ll know
your name soon.”
Mrs. Weasley had braved the telephone in the village post office to order three
ordinary Muggle taxis to take them into London.
“ Arthur t ried to borrow Minist ry cars for us,” Mrs. Weasley whispered to Harry
as they stood in the rain-washed yard, watching the taxi drivers heaving six heavy
Hogwarts t runks into their cars. “ But there weren’ t any to spare. . . . Oh dear, they
don’t look happy, do they?”
Harry didn’t like to tell Mrs. Weasley that Muggle taxi drivers rarely transported
overexcited owls, and Pigwidgeon was making an earsplit t ing racket . Nor did it help
that a number of Filibuster’ s Fabulous No-Heat , Wet -Start Fireworks went off
unexpectedly when Fred’s trunk sprang open, causing the driver carrying it to yell with
fright and pain as Crookshanks clawed his way up the man’s leg.
The j ourney was uncomfortable, owing to the fact that they were j ammed in
the back of the taxis with their t runks. Crookshanks took quite a while to recover from
the fireworks, and by the t ime they entered London, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were
all severely scratched. They were very relieved to get out at King’ s Cross, even though
the rain was coming down harder than ever, and they got soaked carrying their t runks
across the busy road and into the station.
Harry was used to get t ing onto plat form nine and three-quarters by now. It
was a simple mat ter of walking st raight through the apparent ly solid barrier dividing
plat forms nine and ten. The only t ricky part was doing this in an unobt rusive way, so
as to avoid at t ract ing Muggle at tent ion. They did it in groups today; Harry, Ron, and
Hermione (the most conspicuous, since they were accompanied by Pigwidgeon and
Crookshanks) went first ; they leaned casually against the barrier, chat t ing
unconcernedly, and slid sideways through it . . . and as they did so, plat form nine and
three-quarters materialized in front of them.
The Hogwarts Express, a gleaming scarlet steam engine, was already there,
clouds of steam billowing from it , through which the many Hogwarts students and
parents on the plat form appeared like dark ghosts. Pigwidgeon became noisier than
ever in response to the hoot ing of many owls through the mist . Harry, Ron, and
Hermione set of f to find seats, and were soon stowing their luggage in a compartment
halfway along the t rain. They then hopped back down onto the plat form to say goodbye
to Mrs. Weasley, Bill, and Charlie.
“ I might be seeing you all sooner than you think,” said Charlie, grinning, as he
hugged Ginny good-bye.
“Why?” said Fred keenly.
“ You’ ll see,” said Charlie. “ Just don’ t tell Percy I ment ioned it .. . it ’ s
‘classified information, until such time as the Ministry sees fit to release it,’ after all.”
“ Yeah, I sort of wish I were back at Hogwarts this year,” said Bill, hands in his
pockets, looking almost wistfully at the train.
“Why?” said George impatiently.
“ You’ re going to have an interest ing year,” said Bill, his eyes twinkling. “ I
might even get time off to come and watch a bit of it.”
“A bit of what?” said Ron.
But at that moment , the whist le blew, and Mrs. Weasley chivvied them toward
the train doors.
“Thanks for having us to stay, Mrs. Weasley,” said Hermione as they climbed on
board, closed the door, and leaned out of the window to talk to her.
“Yeah, thanks for everything, Mrs. Weasley,” said Harry.
“Oh it was my pleasure, dears,” said Mrs. Weasley. “ I’ d invite you for
Christmas, but…well, I expect you’ re all going to want to stay at Hogwarts, what with.
. . one thing and another.”
“Mum!” said Ron irritably. “What d’you three know that we don’t?”
“ You’ ll find out this evening, I expect ,” said Mrs. Weasley, smiling. “ It ’ s going
to be very exciting – mind you, I’m very glad they’ve changed the rules –“
“What rules?” said Harry, Ron, Fred, and George together.
“ I’m sure Professor Dumbledore will tell you. . . . Now, behave, won’ t you?
Won’t you, Fred? And you, George?”
The pistons hissed loudly and the train began to move.
“ Tell us what ’ s happening at Hogwarts!” Fred bellowed out of the window as
Mrs. Weasley, Bill, and Charlie sped away from them. “What rules are they changing?”
But Mrs. Weasley only smiled and waved. Before the t rain had rounded the
corner, she, Bill, and Charlie had Disapparated.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione went back to their compartment . The thick rain
splattering the windows made it very difficult to see out of them. Ron undid his trunk,
pulled out his maroon dress robes, and flung them over Pigwidgeon’ s cage to muffle
his hooting.
“ Bagman wanted to tell us what ’ s happening at Hogwarts,” he said grumpily,
sit t ing down next to Harry. “ At the World Cup, remember? But my own mother won’t
say. Wonder what –“
“ Shh!” Hermione whispered suddenly, pressing her f inger to her lips and
point ing toward the compartment next to theirs. Harry and Ron listened, and heard a
familiar drawling voice drifting in through the open door.
“ . . . Father actually considered sending me to Durmst rang rather than
Hogwarts, you know. He knows the headmaster, you see. Well, you know his opinion
of Dumbledore – the man’s such a Mudblood-lover – and Durmstrang doesn’t admit that
sort of riffraff. But Mother didn’ t like the idea of me going to school so far away.
Father says Durmst rang takes a far more sensible line than Hogwarts about the Dark
Arts. Durmstrang students actually learn them, not just the defense rubbish we do. . .
.“
Hermione got up, t iptoed to the compartment door, and slid it shut , blocking
out Malfoy’s voice.
“So he thinks Durmstrang would have suited him, does he?” she said angrily. “I
wish he had gone, then we wouldn’t have to put up with him.”
“Durmstrang’s another wizarding school?” said Harry.
“Yes,” said Hermione sniffily, “and it’s got a horrible reputation. According to
An Appraisal ofMagical Educat ion in Europe, it puts a lot of emphasis on the Dark
Arts.”
“I think I’ve heard of it,” said Ron vaguely. “Where is it? What country?”
“Well, nobody knows, do they?” said Hermione, raising her eyebrows.
“Er – why not?” said Harry.
“ There’ s t radit ionally been a lot of rivalry between all the magic schools.
Durmst rang and Beauxbatons like to conceal their whereabouts so nobody can steal
their secrets,” said Hermione matter-of-factly.
“ Come off it ,” said Ron, start ing to laugh. “ Durmst rang’ s got to be about the
same size as Hogwarts — how are you going to hide a great big castle?”
“But Hogwarts is hidden,” said Hermione, in surprise. “Everyone knows that.. .
well, everyone who’s read Hogwarts, A History, anyway.”
“Just you, then,” said Ron. “So go on – how d’you hide a place like Hogwarts?”
“ It ’ s bewitched,” said Hermione. “ If a Muggle looks at it , all they see is a
moldering old ruin with a sign over the ent rance saying DANGER, DO NOT ENTER,
UNSAFE.”
“So Durmstrang’ll just look like a ruin to an outsider too?”
“Maybe,” said Hermione, shrugging, “ or it might have Muggle-repelling charms
on it , like the World Cup stadium. And to keep foreign wizards f rom finding it , they’ ll
have made it Unplottable -“
“Come again?”
“Well, you can enchant a building so it ’ s impossible to plot on a map, can’ t
you?”
“Er. . . if you say so,” said Harry.
“ But I think Durmst rang must be somewhere in the far north,” said Hermione
thought fully. “ Somewhere very cold, because they’ ve got fur capes as part of their
uniforms.”
“ Ah, think of the possibilit ies,” said Ron dreamily. “ It would’ ve been so easy to
push Malfoy off a glacier and make it look like an accident … . Shame his mother likes
him. . . .“
The rain became heavier and heavier as the t rain moved farther north. The sky
was so dark and the windows so steamy that the lanterns were lit by midday. The
lunch t rolley came rat t ling along the corridor, and Harry bought a large stack of
Cauldron Cakes for them to share.
Several of their friends looked in on them as the afternoon progressed,
including Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, and Neville Longbot tom, a round-faced,
ext remely forget ful boy who had been brought up by his formidable witch of a
grandmother. Seamus was st ill wearing his Ireland roset te. Some of its magic seemed
to be wearing off now; it was st ill squeaking “Troy – Mullet – Moran!” but in a very
feeble and exhausted sort of way. After half an hour or so, Hermione, growing tired of
the endless Quidditch talk, buried herself once more in The Standard Book of Spel ls,
Grade 4, and started trying to learn a Summoning Charm.
Neville listened j ealously to the others’ conversat ion as they relived the Cup
match.
“Gran didn’ t want to go,” he said miserably. “Wouldn’ t buy t ickets. It sounded
amazing though.”
“It was,” said Ron. “Look at this, Neville. . .
He rummaged in his t runk up in the luggage rack and pulled out the miniature
figure of Viktor Krum.
“Oh wow,” said Neville enviously as Ron tipped Krum onto his pudgy hand.
“We saw him right up close, as well,” said Ron. “We were in the Top Box -“
“For the first and last time in your life, Weasley.”
Draco Malfoy had appeared in the doorway. Behind him stood Crabbe and
Goyle, his enormous, thuggish cronies, both of whom appeared to have grown at least
a foot during the summer. Evident ly they had overheard the conversat ion through the
compartment door, which Dean and Seamus had left ajar.
“Don’t remember asking you to join us, Malfoy,” said Harry coolly.
“Weasley. . . what is that?” said Malfoy, point ing at Pigwidgeon’ s cage. A
sleeve of Ron’ s dress robes was dangling from it , swaying with the mot ion of the t rain,
the moldy lace cuff very obvious.
Ron made to stuff the robes out of sight , but Malfoy was too quick for him; he
seized the sleeve and pulled.
“ Look at this!” said Malfoy in ecstasy, holding up Ron’ s robes and showing
Crabbe and Goyle, “Weasley, you weren’ t thinking of wearing these, were you?I mean
– they were very fashionable in about eighteen ninety. . .
“ Eat dung, Malfoy!” said Ron, the same color as the dress robes as he snatched
them back out of Malfoy’ s grip. Malfoy howled with derisive laughter; Crabbe and
Goyle guffawed stupidly.
“ So. . . going to enter, Weasley? Going to t ry and bring a bit of glory to the
family name? There’ s money involved as well, you know. . . you’ d be able to af ford
some decent robes if you won. . . .“
“What are you talking about?” snapped Ron.
‘Are you going t o ent er?’ Malfoy repeated. “ I suppose you will, Pot ter? You
never miss a chance to show off, do you?”
“ Either explain what you’ re on about or go away, Malfoy,” said Hermione
testily, over the top of The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4.
A gleeful smile spread across Malfoy’s pale face
“ Don’ t tell me you don’ t know?” he said delightedly. “ You’ ve got a father and
brother at the Minist ry and you don’ t even know? My God, my father told me about it
ages ago. . . heard it from Cornelius Fudge. But then, Father’ s always associated with
the top people at the Minist ry. . . . Maybe your father’ s too j unior to know about it ,
Weasley. . . yes. . . they probably don’ t talk about important stuff in front of him. . .
.“
Laughing once more, Malfoy beckoned to Crabbe and Goyle, and the three of
them disappeared.
Ron got to his feet and slammed the sliding compartment door so hard behind
them that the glass shattered.
“Ron!” said Hermione reproachfully, and she pulled out her wand, mut tered
“Reparo!” and the glass shards flew back into a single pane and back into the door.
“Well.. . making it look like he knows everything and we don’ t .. . .“ Ron
snarled. “ Fat her’ s always associat ed wit h t he t op peopie at t he Minist ry.’ . . . Dad
could’ve got a promotion any time… he just likes it where he is. . . .“
“Of course he does,” said Hermione quiet ly. “ Don’ t let Malfoy get to you, Ron –

“ Him! Get to me!? As if!” said Ron, picking up one of the remaining Cauldron
Cakes and squashing it into a pulp.
Ron’ s bad mood cont inued for the rest of the j ourney. He didn’ t talk much as
they changed into their school robes, and was st ill glowering when the Hogwarts
Express slowed down at last and finally stopped in the pitch-darkness of Hogsmeade
station.
As the t rain doors opened, there was a rumble of thunder overhead. Hermione
bundled up Crookshanks in her cloak and Ron left his dress robes over Pigwidgeon as
they left the t rain, heads bent and eyes narrowed against the downpour. The rain was
now coming down so thick and fast that it was as though buckets of ice-cold water
were being emptied repeatedly over their heads.
“ Hi, Hagrid!” Harry yelled, seeing a gigant ic silhouet te at the far end of the
platform.
“ All righ’ , Harry?” Hagrid bellowed back, waving. “ See yeh at the feast if we
don’ drown!”
First years t radit ionally reached Hogwarts Cast le by sailing across the lake with
Hagrid.
“Oooh, I wouldn’ t fancy crossing the lake in this weather,” said Hermione
fervent ly, shivering as they inched slowly along the dark plat form with the rest of the
crowd. A hundred horseless carriages stood wait ing for them outside the stat ion.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville climbed gratefully into one of them, the door shut
with a snap, and a few moments later, with a great lurch, the long procession of
carriages was rumbling and splashing its way up the track toward Hogwarts Castle.
CHAPTER TWELVE – THE TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT
Through the gates, f lanked with statues of winged boars, and up the sweeping
drive the carriages t rundled, swaying dangerously in what was fast becoming a gale.
Leaning against the window, Harry could see Hogwarts coming nearer, its many lighted
windows blurred and shimmering behind the thick curtain of rain. Lightning flashed
across the sky as their carriage came to a halt before the great oak front doors, which
stood at the top of a flight of stone steps. People who had occupied the carriages in
front were already hurrying up the stone steps into the cast le. Harry, Ron, Hermione,
and Neville j umped down from their carriage and dashed up the steps too, looking up
only when they were safely inside the cavernous, torch-lit ent rance hall, with its
magnificent marble staircase.
“Blimey,” said Ron, shaking his head and sending water everywhere, “ if that
keeps up the lake’s going to overflow. I’m soak – ARRGH!”
A large, red, water-f illed balloon had dropped from out of the ceiling onto
Ron’ s head and exploded. Drenched and sput tering, Ron staggered sideways into
Harry, j ust as a second water bomb dropped – narrowly missing Hermione, it burst at
Harry’ s feet , sending a wave of cold water over his sneakers into his socks. People all
around them shrieked and started pushing one another in their efforts to get out of the
line of fire. Harry looked up and saw, float ing twenty feet above them, Peeves the
Poltergeist , a lit t le man in a bell-covered hat and orange bow t ie, his wide, malicious
face contorted with concentration as he took aim again.
“PEEVES!” yelled an angry voice. “Peeves, come down here at ONCE!”
Professor McGonagall, Deputy Headmist ress and head of Gryffindor House, had
come dashing out of the Great Hall; she skidded on the wet f loor and grabbed
Hermione around the neck to stop herself from falling.
“Ouch – sorry, Miss Granger -“
“That’s all right, Professor!” Hermione gasped, massaging her throat.
“ Peeves, get down here NOW!” barked Professor McGonagall, st raightening her
pointed hat and glaring upward through her square-rimmed spectacles.
“ Not doing nothing!” cackled Peeves, lobbing a water bomb at several fifthyear
girls, who screamed and dived into the Great Hall. “ Already wet , aren’ t they?
Lit t le squirts! Wheeeeeeeeee!” And he aimed another bomb at a group of second
years who had just arrived.
“I shall call the headmaster!” shouted Professor McGonagall. “I’m warning you,
Peeves –“
Peeves stuck out his tongue, threw the last of his water bombs into the air, and
zoomed off up the marble staircase, cackling insanely.
“Well, move along, then!” said Professor McGonagall sharply to the bedraggled
crowd. “Into the Great Hall, come on!”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione slipped and slid across the ent rance hall and through
the double doors on the right , Ron mut tering furiously under his breath as he pushed
his sopping hair off his face.
The Great Hall looked its usual splendid self, decorated for the start -of-term
feast . Golden plates and goblets gleamed by the light of hundreds and hundreds of
candles, float ing over the tables in midair. The four long House tables were packed
with chat tering students; at the top of the Hall, the staf f sat along one side of a fifth
table, facing their pupils. It was much warmer in here. Harry, Ron, and Hermione
walked past the Slytherins, the Ravenclaws, and the Hufflepuffs, and sat down with
the rest of the Gryffindors at the far side of the Hall, next to Nearly Headless Nick, the
Gryf findor ghost . Pearly white and semit ransparent , Nick was dressed tonight in his
usual doublet , but with a part icularly large ruff, which served the dual purpose of
looking ext ra-fest ive, and insuring that his head didn’ t wobble too much on his
partially severed neck.
“Good evening,” he said, beaming at them.
“ Says who?” said Harry, taking off his sneakers and emptying them of water.
“Hope they hurry up with the Sorting. I’m starving.”
The Sort ing of the new students into Houses took place at the start of every
school year, but by an unlucky combinat ion of circumstances, Harry hadn’ t been
present at one since his own. He was quite looking forward to it . Just then, a highly
excited, breathless voice called down the table.
“Hiya, Harry!”
It was Colin Creevey, a third year to whom Harry was something of a hero.
“Hi, Colin,” said Harry warily.
“ Harry, guess what? Guess what , Harry? My brother’ s start ing! My brother
Dennis!”
“Er – good,” said Harry.
“ He’ s really excited!” said Colin, pract ically bouncing up and down in his seat .
“I just hope he’s in Gryffindor! Keep your fingers crossed, eh, Harry?”
“Er – yeah, all right,” said Harry. He turned back to Hermione, Ron, and Nearly
Headless Nick. “ Brothers and sisters usually go in the same Houses, don’ t they?” he
said. He was j udging by the Weasleys, all seven of whom had been put into
Gryffindor.
“Oh no, not necessarily,” said Hermione. “ Parvat i Pat il’ s twin’ s in Ravenclaw,
and they’re identical. You’d think they’d be together, wouldn’t you?”
Harry looked up at the staff table. There seemed to be rather more empty
seats there than usual. Hagrid, of course, was st ill fight ing his way across the lake
with the first years; Professor McGonagall was presumably supervising the drying of the
ent rance hall floor, but there was another empty chair too, and Harry couldn’ t think
who else was missing.
“Where’s the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?” said Hermione, who
was also looking up at the teachers.
They had never yet had a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who had lasted
more than three terms. Harry’ s favorite by far had been Professor Lupin, who had
resigned last year. He looked up and down the staff table. There was definitely no
new face there.
“Maybe they couldn’t get anyone!” said Hermione, looking anxious.
Harry scanned the table more carefully. Tiny lit t le Professor Flitwick, the
Charms teacher, was sit t ing on a large pile of cushions beside Professor Sprout , the
Herbology teacher, whose hat was askew over her flyaway gray hair. She was talking
to Professor Sinist ra of the Ast ronomy department . On Professor Sinist ra’ s other side
was the sallow-faced, hook-nosed, greasy-haired Pot ions master, Snape – Harry’ s least
favorite person at Hogwarts. Harry’ s loathing of Snape was matched only by Snape’ s
hat red of him, a hat red which had, if possible, intensif ied last year, when Harry had
helped Sirius escape right under Snape’ s overlarge nose – Snape and Sirius had been
enemies since their own school days.
On Snape’ s other side was an empty seat , which Harry guessed was Professor
McGonagall’ s. Next to it , and in the very center of the table, sat Professor
Dumbledore, the headmaster, his sweeping silver hair and beard shining in the
candlelight , his magnificent deep green robes embroidered with many stars and
moons. The t ips of Dumbledore’ s long, thin fingers were together and he was resting
his chin upon them, staring up at the ceiling through his half-moon spectacles as
though lost in thought . Harry glanced up at the ceiling too. It was enchanted to look
like the sky outside, and he had never seen it look this stormy. Black and purple
clouds were swirling across it, and as another thunderclap sounded outside, a fork of
lightning flashed across it.
“Oh hurry up,” Ron moaned, beside Harry, “I could eat a hippogriff.”
The words were no sooner out of his mouth than the doors of the Great Hall
opened and silence fell. Professor McGonagall was leading a long line of first years up
to the top of the Hall. If Harry, Ron, and Hermione were wet , it was nothing to how
these f irst years looked. They appeared to have swum across the lake rather than
sailed. All of them were shivering with a combinat ion of cold and nerves as they filed
along the staff table and came to a halt in a line facing the rest of the school – all of
them except the smallest of the lot , a boy with mousy hair, who was wrapped in what
Harry recognized as Hagrid’ s moleskin overcoat . The coat was so big for him that it
hooked as though he were draped in a furry black circus tent . His small face
prot ruded from over the collar, looking almost painfully excited. When he had lined
up with his terrified-looking peers, he caught Colin Creevey’ s eye, gave a double
thumbs-up, and mouthed, I fell in the lake! He looked positively delighted about it.
Professor McGonagall now placed a three-legged stool on the ground before the
first years and, on top of it, an ext remely old, dirty patched wizard’ s hat . The first
years stared at it . So did everyone else. For a moment , there was silence. Then a
long tear near the brim opened wide like a mouth, and the hat broke into song:
A thousand years or more ago,
When I was newly sewn,
There lived four wizards of renown,
Whose names are still well known:
Bold Gryffindor, from wild moor,
Fair Ravenclaw, from glen,
Sweet Hufflepuff, from valley broad,
Shrewd Slytherin, from fin.
They shared a wish, a hope, a dream,
They hatched a daring plan
To educate young sorcerers
Thus Hogwarts School began.
Now each of these four founders
Formed their own house, for each
Did value different virtues
In the ones they had to teach.
By Gryffindor, the bravest were
Prized far beyond the rest;
For Ravenclaw, the cleverest
Would always be the best;
For Hufflepuff, hard workers were
Most worthy of admission;
And power-hungry Slytherin
Loved those of great ambition.
While still alive they did divide
Their favorites from the throng,
Yet how to pick the worthy ones
When they were dead and gone?
‘Twas Gryffindor who found the way,
He whipped me off his head
The founders put some brains in me
So I could choose instead!
Now slip me snug about your ears,
I’ve never yet been wrong,
I’ll have a look inside your mind
And tell where you belong!
The Great Hall rang with applause as the Sorting Hat finished.
“ That ’ s not the song it sang when it Sorted us,” said Harry, clapping along with
everyone else.
“ Sings a different one every year,” said Ron. “ It ’ s got to be a pret ty boring
life, hasn’t it, being a hat? I suppose it spends all year making up the next one.”
Professor McGonagall was now unrolling a large scroll of parchment.
“When I call out your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool,” she
told the first years. “When the hat announces your House, you will go and sit at the
appropriate table.
“Ackerley, Stewart!”
A boy walked forward, visibly t rembling f rom head to foot , picked up the
Sorting Hat, put it on, and sat down on the stool.
“RAVENCLAW!” shouted the hat.
Stewart Ackerley took off the hat and hurried into a seat at the Ravenclaw
table, where everyone was applauding him. Harry caught a glimpse of Cho, the
Ravenclaw Seeker, cheering Stewart Ackerley as he sat down. For a fleet ing second,
Harry had a strange desire to join the Ravenclaw table too.
“Baddock, Malcolm!”
“SLYTHERIN!”
The table on the other side of the hall erupted with cheers; Harry could see
Malfoy clapping as Baddock j oined the Slytherins. Harry wondered whether Baddock
knew that Slytherin House had turned out more Dark witches and wizards than any
other. Fred and George hissed Malcolm Baddock as he sat down.
“Branstone, Eleanor!”
“HUFFLEPUFF!”
“Cauldwell, Owen!”
“HUFFLEPUFF!”
“Creevey, Dennis!”
Tiny Dennis Creevey staggered forward, t ripping over Hagrid’ s moleskin, j ust as
Hagrid himself sidled into the Hall through a door behind the teachers’ table. About
twice as tall as a normal man, and at least three times as broad, Hagrid, with his long,
wild, tangled black hair and beard, looked slight ly alarming – a misleading impression,
for Harry, Ron, and Hermione knew Hagrid to possess a very kind nature. He winked at
them as he sat down at the end of the staff table and watched Dennis Creevey put t ing
on the Sorting Hat. The rip at the brim opened wide– –
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat shouted.
Hagrid clapped along with the Gryff indors as Dennis Creevey, beaming widely,
took off the hat, placed it back on the stool, and hurried over to join his brother.
“ Colin, I fell in!” he said shrilly, throwing himself into an empty seat . “ It was
brilliant! And something in the water grabbed me and pushed me back in the boat!”
“Cool!” said Colin, just as excitedly. “It was probably the giant squid, Dennis!”
“Wow!” said Dennis, as though nobody in their wildest dreams could hope for
more than being thrown into a storm-tossed, fathoms-deep lake, and pushed out of it
again by a giant sea monster.
“ Dennis! Dennis! See that boy down there? The one with the black hair and
glasses? See him? Know who he is, Dennis?”
Harry looked away, staring very hard at the Sort ing Hat , now Sort ing Emma
Dobbs.
The Sort ing cont inued; boys and girls with varying degrees of fright on their
faces moving one by one to the three-legged stool, the line dwindling slowly as
Professor McGonagall passed the L’s.
“Oh hurry up,” Ron moaned, massaging his stomach.
“ Now, Ron, the Sort ing’ s much more important than food,” said Nearly
Headless Nick as “Madley, Laura!” became a Hufflepuff.
“Course it is, if you’re dead,” snapped Ron.
“ I do hope this year’ s batch of Gryf findors are up to scratch,” said Nearly
Headless Nick, applauding as “McDonald, Natalie!” j oined the Gryf findor table. “We
don’t want to break our winning streak, do we?”
Gryffindor had won the Inter-House Championship for the last three years in a
row.
“Pritchard, Graham!”
“SLYTHERIN!”
“Quirke, Orla!”
“RAVENCLAW!”
And f inally, with “Whitby, Kevin!” (“ HUFFLEPUFF!” ), the Sort ing ended.
Professor McGonagall picked up the hat and the stool and carried them away.
“About time,” said Ron, seizing his knife and fork and looking expectantly at his
golden plate.
Professor Dumbledore had got ten to his feet . He was smiling around at the
students, his arms opened wide in welcome.
“ I have only two words to say to you,” he told them, his deep voice echoing
around the Hall. “Tuck in.”
“ Hear, hear!” said Harry and Ron loudly as the empty dishes filled magically
before their eyes.
Nearly Headless Nick watched mournfully as Harry, Ron, and Hermione loaded
their own plates.
“Aaah, ‘at’s be’er,” said Ron, with his mouth full of mashed potato.
“ You’ re lucky there’ s a feast at all tonight , you know,” said Nearly Headless
Nick. “There was trouble in the kitchens earlier.”
“Why? Wha’ ‘appened?” said Harry, through a sizable chunk of steak.
“ Peeves, of course,” said Nearly Headless Nick, shaking his head, which
wobbled dangerously. He pulled his ruff a lit t le higher up on his neck. “ The usual
argument , you know. He wanted to at tend the feast – well, it ’ s quite out of the
question, you know what he’ s like, ut terly uncivilized, can’ t see a plate of food
without throwing it . We held a ghost ’ s council – the Fat Friar was all for giving him
the chance – but most wisely, in my opinion, the Bloody Baron put his foot down.”
The Bloody Baron was the Slytherin ghost, a gaunt and silent specter covered in
silver bloodstains. He was the only person at Hogwarts who could really cont rol
Peeves.
“ Yeah, we thought Peeves seemed hacked off about something,” said Ron
darkly. “So what did he do in the kitchens?”
“Oh the usual,” said Nearly Headless Nick, shrugging. “Wreaked havoc and
mayhem. Pots and pans everywhere. Place swimming in soup. Terrified the houseelves
out of their wits–“
Clang.
Hermione had knocked over her golden goblet . Pumpkin j uice spread steadily
over the tablecloth, staining several feet of white linen orange, but Hermione paid no
attention.
“ There are house-elves here?” she said, staring, horror-st ruck, at Nearly
Headless Nick. “Here at Hogwarts?”
“ Certainly,” said Nearly Headless Nick, looking surprised at her react ion. “ The
largest number in any dwelling in Britain, I believe. Over a hundred.”
“I’ve never seen one!” said Hermione.
“Well, they hardly ever leave the kitchen by day, do they?” said Nearly
Headless Nick. “ They come out at night to do a bit of cleaning.. . see to the fires and
so on.. . . I mean, you’ re not supposed to see them, are you? That ’ s the mark of a
good house-elf, isn’t it, that you don’t know it’s there?”
Hermione stared at him.
“ But they get paid?” she said. “ They get holidays, don’ t they? And – and sick
leave, and pensions, and everything?”
Nearly Headless Nick chort led so much that his ruf f slipped and his head
flopped off, dangling on the inch or so of ghost ly skin and muscle that st ill at tached it
to his neck.
“ Sick leave and pensions?” he said, pushing his head back onto his shoulders
and securing it once more with his ruff. “ House-elves don’ t want sick leave and
pensions!”
Hermione looked down at her hardly touched plate of food, then put her knife
and fork down upon it and pushed it away from her.
“Oh c’mon, ‘Er-my-knee,” said Ron, accidentally spraying Harry with bits of
Yorkshire pudding. “ Oops — sorry, ‘Arry –“ He swallowed. “ You won’ t get them sick
leave by starving yourself!”
“ Slave labor,” said Hermione, breathing hard through her nose. “ That ’ s what
made this dinner. Slave labor.”
And she refused to eat another bite.
The rain was st ill drumming heavily against the high, dark glass. Another clap
of thunder shook the windows, and the stormy ceiling flashed, illuminat ing the golden
plates as the remains of the first course vanished and were replaced, instant ly, with
puddings.
“ Treacle tart , Hermione!” said Ron, deliberately waft ing its smell toward her.
“Spotted dick, look! Chocolate gateau!”
But Hermione gave him a look so reminiscent of Professor McGonagall that he
gave up.
When the puddings too had been demolished, and the last crumbs had faded off
the plates, leaving them sparkling clean, Albus Dumbledore got to his feet again. The
buzz of chat ter filling the Hall ceased almost at once, so that only the howling wind
and pounding rain could be heard.
“ So!” said Dumbledore, smiling around at them all. “ Now that we are all fed
and watered,” (“ Hmph!” said Hermione) “ I must once more ask for your at tent ion,
while I give out a few notices.
“Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to tell you that the list of obj ects
forbidden inside the cast le has this year been extended to include Screaming Yo-yos,
Fanged Frisbees, and Ever-Bashing Boomerangs. The full list comprises some four
hundred and thirty-seven items, I believe, and can be viewed in Mr. Filch’ s office, if
anybody would like to check it.”
The corners of Dumbledore’ s mouth twitched. He cont inued, “ As ever, I would
like to remind you all that the forest on the grounds is out -of-bounds to students, as is
the village of Hogsmeade to all below third year.
“It is also my painful duty to inform you that the Inter-House Quidditch Cup will
not take place this year.”
“What ?” Harry gasped. He looked around at Fred and George, his fellow
members of the Quidditch team. They were mouthing soundlessly at Dumbledore,
apparent ly too appalled to speak. Dumbhedore went on, “ This is due to an event that
will be start ing in October, and cont inuing throughout the school year, taking up much
of the teachers’ time and energy – but I am sure you will all enjoy it immensely. I have
great pleasure in announcing that this year at Hogwarts -“
But at that moment , there was a deafening rumble of thunder and the doors of
the Great Hall banged open.
A man stood in the doorway, leaning upon a long staff, shrouded in a black
t raveling cloak. Every head in the Great Hall swiveled toward the st ranger, suddenly
bright ly illuminated by a fork of lightning that flashed across the ceiling. He lowered
his hood, shook out a long mane of grizzled, dark gray hair, then began to walk up
toward the teachers’ table.
A dull clunk echoed through the Hall on his every other step. He reached the
end of the top table, turned right , and limped heavily toward Dumbledore. Another
flash of lightning crossed the ceiling. Hermione gasped.
The lightning had thrown the man’ s face into sharp relief , and it was a face
unlike any Harry had ever seen. It looked as though it had been carved out of
weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what human faces are
supposed to look like, and was none too skilled with a chisel. Every inch of skin
seemed to be scarred. The mouth looked like a diagonal gash, and a large chunk of
the nose was missing. But it was the man’s eyes that made him frightening.
One of them was small, dark, and beady. The other was large, round as a coin,
and a vivid, elect ric blue. The blue eye was moving ceaselessly, without blinking, and
was rolling up, down, and f rom side to side, quite independent ly of the normal eye –
and then it rolled right over, point ing into the back of the man’ s head, so that all they
could see was whiteness.
The st ranger reached Dumbledore. He st retched out a hand that was as badly
scarred as his face, and Dumbhedore shook it, muttering words Harry couldn’ t hear.
He seemed to be making some inquiry of the st ranger, who shook his head unsmilingly
and replied in an undertone. Dumbledore nodded and gestured the man to the empty
seat on his right-hand side.
The st ranger sat down, shook his mane of dark gray hair out of his face, pulled
a plate of sausages toward him, raised it to what was left of his nose, and sniffed it.
He then took a small knife out of his pocket , speared a sausage on the end of it, and
began to eat . His normal eye was f ixed upon the sausages, but the blue eye was st ill
darting restlessly around in its socket, taking in the Hall and the students.
“May I int roduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?” said
Dumbledore brightly into the silence. “Professor Moody.”
It was usual for new staf f members to be greeted with applause, but none of
the staff or students chapped except Dumbledore and Hagrid, who both put their
hands together and applauded, but the sound echoed dismally into the silence, and
they stopped fairly quickly. Everyone else seemed too t ransf ixed by Moody’ s bizarre
appearance to do more than stare at him.
“Moody?” Harry muttered to Ron. “Mad-Eye Moody? The one your dad went to
help this morning?”
“Must be,” said Ron in a low, awed voice.
“What happened to him?” Hermione whispered. “What happened to his face?”
“Dunno,” Ron whispered back, watching Moody with fascination.
Moody seemed totally indifferent to his less-than-warm welcome. Ignoring the
j ug of pumpkin j uice in front of him, he reached again into his t raveling cloak, pulled
out a hip flask, and took a long draught from it. As he lifted his arm to drink, his cloak
was pulled a few inches from the ground, and Harry saw, below the table, several
inches of carved wooden leg, ending in a clawed foot.
Dumbledore cleared his throat.
“ As I was saying,” he said, smiling at the sea of students before him, all of
whom were st ill gazing t ransf ixed at Mad-Eye Moody, “ we are to have the honor of
hosting a very exciting event over the coming months, an event that has not been held
for over a century. It is my very great pleasure to inform you that the Triwizard Tournament
will be taking place at Hogwarts this year.”
“You’re JOKING!” said Fred Weasley loudly.
The tension that had filled the Hall ever since Moody’ s arrival suddenly broke.
Nearly everyone laughed, and Dumbledore chuckled appreciatively.
“I am not joking, Mr. Weasley,” he said, “though now that you mention it, I did
hear an excellent one over the summer about a t roll, a hag, and a leprechaun who all
go into a bar.
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat loudly.
“Er – but maybe this is not the t ime.. . no. . .“ said Dumbledore, “ where was I?
Ah yes, the Triwizard Tournament . . . well, some of you will not know what this
tournament involves, so I hope those who do know will forgive me for giving a short
explanation, and allow their attention to wander freely.
“The Triwizard Tournament was first established some seven hundred years ago
as a friendly compet it ion between the three largest European schools of wizardry:
Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmst rang. A champion was selected to represent each
school, and the three champions competed in three magical tasks. The schools took it
in turns to host the tournament once every five years, and it was generally agreed to
be a most excellent way of establishing t ies between young witches and wizards of
different nationalities – unt il, that is, the death toll mounted so high that the
tournament was discontinued.”
“ Deat h t ol l?” Hermione whispered, looking alarmed. But her anxiety did not
seem to be shared by the maj ority of students in the Hall; many of them were
whispering excitedly to one another, and Harry himself was far more interested in
hearing about the tournament than in worrying about deaths that had happened
hundreds of years ago.
“ There have been several at tempts over the centuries to reinstate the
tournament ,” Dumbledore cont inued, “ none of which has been very successful.
However, our own departments of Internat ional Magical Cooperat ion and Magical
Games and Sports have decided the time is ripe for another attempt. We have worked
hard over the summer to ensure that this t ime, no champion will find himself or
herself in mortal danger.
“ The heads of Beauxbatons and Durmst rang will be arriving with their short –
listed contenders in October, and the select ion of the three champions will take place
at Halloween. An impart ial j udge will decide which students are most worthy to
compete for the Triwizard Cup, the glory of their school, and a thousand Galleons
personal prize money.”
“ I’m going for it !” Fred Weasley hissed down the table, his face lit with
enthusiasm at the prospect of such glory and riches. He was not the only person who
seemed to be visualizing himself as the Hogwarts champion. At every House table,
Harry could see people either gazing rapt ly at Dumbledore, or else whispering
fervent ly to their neighbors. But then Dumbledore spoke again, and the Hall quieted
once more.
“ Eager though I know all of you will be to bring the Triwizard Cup to
Hogwarts,” he said, “ the heads of the part icipat ing schools, along with the Minist ry of
Magic, have agreed to impose an age rest rict ion on contenders this year. Only
students who are of age – that is to say, seventeen years or older – will be allowed to
put forward their names for considerat ion. This” — Dumbledore raised his voice
slight ly, for several people had made noises of out rage at these words, and the
Weasley twins were suddenly looking furious – “ is a measure we feel is necessary,
given that the tournament tasks will st ill be difficult and dangerous, whatever
precaut ions we take, and it is highly unlikely that students below sixth and seventh
year will be able to cope with them. I will personally be ensuring that no underage
student hoodwinks our impart ial j udge into making them Hog-warts champion.” His
light blue eyes twinkled as they flickered over Fred’ s and George’ s mut inous faces. “ I
therefore beg you not to waste your t ime submit t ing yourself if you are under
seventeen.
“ The delegat ions from Beauxbatons and Durmst rang will be arriving in October
and remaining with us for the greater part of this year. I know that you will all extend
every courtesy to our foreign guests while they are with us, and will give your wholehearted
support to the Hogwarts champion when he or she is selected. And now, it is
late, and I know how important it is to you all to be alert and rested as you enter your
lessons tomorrow morning. Bedtime! Chop chop!”
Dumbledore sat down again and turned to talk to Mad-Eye Moody. There was a
great scraping and banging as all the students got to their feet and swarmed toward
the double doors into the entrance hall.
“ They can’ t do that !” said George Weasley, who had not j oined the crowd
moving toward the door, but was standing up and glaring at Dumbledore. “We’ re
seventeen in April, why can’t we have a shot?”
“ They’ re not stopping me entering,” said Fred stubbornly, also scowling at the
top table. “ The champions’ ll get to do all sorts of stuff you’ d never be allowed to do
normally. And a thousand Galleons prize money!”
“Yeah,” said Ron, a faraway look on his face. “Yeah, a thousand Galleons. . .“
“ Come on,” said Hermione, “ we’ ll be the only ones left here if you don’ t
move.”
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George set off for the entrance hall, Fred and
George debat ing the ways in which Dumbledore might stop those who were under
seventeen from entering the tournament.
“Who’ s this impart ial j udge who’ s going to decide who the champions are?”
said Harry.
“ Dunno,” said Fred, “ but it ’ s them we’ ll have to fool. I reckon a couple of
drops of Aging Potion might do it, George.. .”
“Dumbledore knows you’re not of age, though,” said Ron.
“ Yeah, but he’ s not the one who decides who the champion is, is he?” said
Fred shrewdly. “ Sounds to me like once this j udge knows who wants to enter, he’ ll
choose the best from each school and never mind how old they are. Dumbledore’ s
trying to stop us giving our names.”
“ People have died, though!” said Hermione in a worried voice as they walked
through a door concealed behind a tapest ry and started up another, narrower
staircase.
“Yeah,” said Fred airily, “ but that was years ago, wasn’ t it? Anyway, where’ s
the fun without a bit of risk? Hey, Ron, what if we find out how to get ‘ round
Dumbledore? Fancy entering?”
“What d’ you reckon?” Ron asked Harry. “ Be cool to enter, wouldn’ t it? But I
s’pose they might want someone older…. Dunno if we’ve learned enough.. .
“ I definitely haven’ t ,” came Nevihle’ s gloomy voice from behind Fred and
George.
“I expect my gran’d want me to try, though. She’s always going on about how I
should be upholding the family honor. I’ll just have to — oops. . .”
Neville’ s foot had sunk right through a step halfway up the staircase. There
were many of these t rick stairs at Hogwarts; it was second nature to most of the older
students to j ump this part icular step, but Neville’ s memory was notoriously poor.
Harry and Ron seized him under the armpits and pulled him out , while a suit of armor
at the top of the stairs creaked and clanked, laughing wheezily.
“ Shut it, you,” said Ron, banging down its visor as they passed. They made
their way up to the ent rance to Gryffindor Tower, which was concealed behind a large
portrait of a fat lady in a pink silk dress.
“Password?” she said as they approached.
“Balderdash,” said George, “a prefect downstairs told me.”
The port rait swung forward to reveal a hole in the wall through which they all
climbed. A crackling fire warmed the circular common room, which was full of squashy
armchairs and tables. Hermione cast the merrily dancing flames a dark look, and Harry
distinct ly heard her mut ter “ Slave labor” before bidding them good night and
disappearing through the doorway to the girls’ dormitory.
Harry, Ron, and Neville climbed up the last , spiral staircase unt il they reached
their own dormitory, which was situated at the top of the tower. Five four-poster
beds with deep crimson hangings stood against the walls, each with its owner’ s t runk
at the foot . Dean and Seamus were already get t ing into bed; Seamus had pinned his
Ireland roset te to his headboard, and Dean had tacked up a poster of Viktor Krum over
his bedside table. His old poster of the West Ham football team was pinned right next
to it.
“Mental,” Ron sighed, shaking his head at the completely stat ionary soccer
players.
Harry, Ron, and Neville got into their paj amas and into bed. Someone – a
house-elf, no doubt – had placed warming pans between the sheets. It was ext remely
comfortable, lying there in bed and listening to the storm raging outside.
“ I might go in for it, you know,” Ron said sleepily through the darkness, “ if
Fred and George find out how to. . . the tournament. . . you never know, do you?”
“S’pose not. .. .“
Harry rolled over in bed, a series of dazzling new pictures forming in his mind’s
eye. . . . He had hoodwinked the impart ial j udge into believing he was seventeen. . .
he had become Hogwarts champion. . . he was standing on the grounds, his arms
raised in t riumph in front of the whole school, all of whom were applauding and
screaming. . . he had j ust won the Triwizard Tournament . Cho’ s face stood out
particularly clearly in the blurred crowd, her face glowing with admiration….
Harry grinned into his pillow, except ionally glad that Ron couldn’ t see what he
could.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN – MAD-EYE MOODY
The storm had blown itself out by the following morning, though the ceiling in
the Great Hall was st ill gloomy; heavy clouds of pewter gray swirled overhead as
Harry, Ron, and Hermione examined their new course schedules at breakfast . A few
seats along, Fred, George, and Lee Jordan were discussing magical methods of aging
themselves and bluffing their way into the Triwizard Tournament.
“ Today’ s not bad.. . outside all morning,” said Ron, who was running his finger
down the Monday column of his schedule. “Herbology with the Hufflepuffs and Care of
Magical Creatures… damn it, we’re still with the Slytherins. . . .“
“ Double Divinat ion this afternoon,” Harry groaned, looking down. Divinat ion
was his least favorite subj ect , apart from Pot ions. Professor Trelawney kept
predicting Harry’s death, which he found extremely annoying.
“ You should have given it up like me, shouldn’ t you?” said Hermione briskly,
but tering herself some toast . “ Then you’ d be doing something sensible like
Arithmancy.”
“You’re eat ing again, I not ice,” said Ron, watching Hermione adding liberal
amounts of jam to her toast too.
“ I’ ve decided there are bet ter ways of making a stand about elf rights,” said
Hermione haughtily.
“Yeah. . . and you were hungry,” said Ron, grinning.
There was a sudden rust ling noise above them, and a hundred owls came
soaring through the open windows carrying the morning mail. Inst inct ively, Harry
looked up, but there was no sign of white among the mass of brown and gray. The
owls circled the tables, looking for the people to whom their let ters and packages
were addressed. A large tawny owl soared down to Neville Longbot tom and deposited
a parcel into his lap – Neville almost always forgot to pack something. On the other
side of the Hall Draco Malfoy’ s eagle owl had landed on his shoulder, carrying what
looked like his usual supply of sweets and cakes from home. Trying to ignore the
sinking feeling of disappointment in his stomach, Harry returned to his porridge. Was
it possible that something had happened to Hedwig, and that Sirius hadn’t even got his
letter?
His preoccupat ion lasted all the way across the sodden vegetable patch unt il
they arrived in greenhouse three, but here he was dist racted by Professor Sprout
showing the class the ugliest plants Harry had ever seen. Indeed, they looked less like
plants than thick, black, giant slugs, prot ruding vert ically out of the soil. Each was
squirming slight ly and had a number of large, shiny swellings upon it , which appeared
to be full of liquid.
“ Bubotubers,” Professor Sprout told them briskly. “ They need squeezing. You
will collect the pus -“
“The what?” said Seamus Finnigan, sounding revolted.
“ Pus, Finnigan, pus,” said Professor Sprout , “ and it ’ s ext remely valuable, so
don’ t waste it . You will collect the pus, I say, in these bot t les. Wear your dragonhide
gloves; it can do funny things to the skin when undiluted, bubotuber pus.”
Squeezing the bubotubers was disgusting, but oddly satisfying. As each swelling
was popped, a large amount of thick yellowish-green liquid burst forth, which smelled
strongly of petrol. They caught it in the bottles as Professor Sprout had indicated, and
by the end of the lesson had collected several pints.
“This’ll keep Madam Pomfrey happy,” said Professor Sprout, stoppering the last
bot t le with a cork. “ An excellent remedy for the more stubborn forms of acne,
bubotuber pus. Should stop students resort ing to desperate measures to rid
themselves of pimples.”
“Like poor Eloise Midgen,” said Hannah Abbott, a Hufflepuff, in a hushed voice.
“She tried to curse hers off.”
“Silly girl,” said Professor Sprout, shaking her head. “But Madam Pomfrey fixed
her nose back on in the end.”
A booming bell echoed from the cast le across the wet grounds, signaling the
end of the lesson, and the class separated; the Hufflepuffs climbing the stone steps for
Transfigurat ion, and the Gryf findors heading in the other direct ion, down the sloping
lawn toward Hagrid’ s small wooden cabin, which stood on the edge of the Forbidden
Forest.
Hagrid was standing outside his hut , one hand on the collar of his enormous
black boarhound, Fang. There were several open wooden crates on the ground at his
feet , and Fang was whimpering and st raining at his collar, apparent ly keen to
invest igate the contents more closely. As they drew nearer, an odd rat t ling noise
reached their ears, punctuated by what sounded like minor explosions.
“Mornin’ !” Hagrid said, grinning at Harry, Ron, and Hermione. “ Be’ er wait fer
the Slytherins, they won’ want ter miss this – Blast-Ended Skrewts!”
“Come again?” said Ron.
Hagrid pointed down into the crates.
“ Eurgh!” squealed Lavender Brown, j umping backward. “ Eurgh” j ust about
summed up the Blast -Ended Skrewts in Harry’ s opinion. They looked like deformed,
shell-less lobsters, horribly pale and slimy-looking, with legs st icking out in very odd
places and no visible heads. There were about a hundred of them in each crate, each
about six inches long, crawling over one another, bumping blindly into the sides of the
boxes. They were giving off a very powerful smell of rotting fish. Every now and then,
sparks would f ly out of the end of a skrewt , and with a small phut, it would be
propelled forward several inches.
“On’ y j us’ hatched,” said Hagrid proudly, “ so yeh’ ll be able ter raise ‘ em
yerselves! Thought we’d make a bit of a project of it!”
“And why would we want to raise them?” said a cold voice.
The Slytherins had arrived. The speaker was Draco Malfoy. Crabbe and Goyle
were chuckling appreciatively at his words.
Hagrid looked stumped at the question.
“I mean, what do they do?” asked Malfoy. “What is the point of them?”
Hagrid opened his mouth, apparent ly thinking hard; there was a few seconds’
pause, then he said roughly, “ Tha’ s next lesson, Malfoy. Yer j us’ feedin’ ‘ em today.
Now, yeh’ ll wan’ ter t ry ‘ em on a few diff’ rent things – I’ ve never had ‘ em before, not
sure what they’ll go fer – I got ant eggs an’ frog livers an’ a bit o’ grass snake – just try
‘em out with a bit of each.”
“First pus and now this,” muttered Seamus.
Nothing but deep affect ion for Hagrid could have made Harry, Ron, and
Hermione pick up squelchy handfuls of frog liver and lower them into the crates to
tempt the Blast -Ended Skrewts. Harry couldn’ t suppress the suspicion that the whole
thing was entirely pointless, because the skrewts didn’t seem to have mouths.
“Ouch!” yelled Dean Thomas after about ten minutes. “It got me.”
Hagrid hurried over to him, looking anxious.
“Its end exploded!” said Dean angrily, showing Hagrid a burn on his hand.
“Ah, yeah, that can happen when they blast off,” said Hagrid, nodding.
“ Eurgh!” said Lavender Brown again. “ Eurgh, Hagrid, what ’ s that pointy thing
on it?”
“ Ah, some of ‘ em have got st ings,” said Hagrid enthusiast ically (Lavender
quickly withdrew her hand from the box). “ I reckon they’ re the males. . . . The
females’ ve got sorta sucker things on their bellies. . . . I think they might be ter suck
blood.”
“Well, I can certainly see why we’ re t rying to keep them alive,” said Malfoy
sarcastically. “Who wouldn’t want pets that can burn, sting, and bite all at once?”
“ Just because they’ re not very pret ty, it doesn’ t mean they’ re not useful,”
Hermione snapped. “ Dragon blood’ s amazingly magical, but you wouldn’ t want a
dragon for a pet, would you?”
Harry and Ron grinned at Hagrid, who gave them a furtive smile from behind his
bushy beard. Hagrid would have liked nothing bet ter than a pet dragon, as Harry, Ron,
and Hermione knew only too well – he had owned one for a brief period during their
first year, a vicious Norwegian Ridgeback by the name of Norbert. Hagrid simply loved
monstrous creatures, the more lethal, the better.
“Well, at least the skrewts are small,” said Ron as they made their way back up
to the castle for lunch an hour later.
“ They are now,” said Hermione in an exasperated voice, “ but once Hagrid’ s
found out what they eat, I expect they’ll be six feet long.”
“Well, that won’ t mat ter if they turn out to cure seasickness or something, will
it?” said Ron, grinning slyly at her.
“ You know perfect ly well I only said that to shut Malfoy up,” said Hermione.
“ As a mat ter of fact I think he’ s right . The best thing to do would be to stamp on the
lot of them before they start attacking us all.”
They sat down at the Gryffindor table and helped themselves to lamb chops
and potatoes. Hermione began to eat so fast that Harry and Ron stared at her.
“Er – is this the new stand on elf rights?” said Ron. “ You’ re going to make
yourself puke instead?”
“ No,” said Hermione, with as much dignity as she could muster with her mouth
bulging with sprouts. “I just want to get to the library.”
“What?” said Ron in disbelief. “ Hermione – it ’ s the first day back! We haven’ t
even got homework yet!”
Hermione shrugged and cont inued to shovel down her food as though she had
not eaten for days. Then she leapt to her feet , said, “ See you at dinner!” and
departed at high speed.
When the bell rang to signal the start of afternoon lessons, Harry and Ron set
off for North Tower where, at the top of a t ight ly spiraling staircase, a silver
stepladder led to a circular t rapdoor in the ceiling, and the room where Professor
Trelawney lived.
The familiar sweet perfume spreading f rom the fire met their nost rils as they
emerged at the top of the stepladder. As ever, the curtains were all closed; the
circular room was bathed in a dim reddish light cast by the many lamps, which were
all draped with scarves and shawls. Harry and Ron walked through the mass of
occupied chintz chairs and poufs that clut tered the room, and sat down at the same
small circular table.
“Good day,” said the misty voice of Professor Trelawney right behind Harry,
making him jump.
A very thin woman with enormous glasses that made her eyes appear far too
large for her face, Professor Trelawney was peering down at Harry with the t ragic
expression she always wore whenever she saw him. The usual large amount of beads,
chains, and bangles glittered upon her person in the firelight.
“ You are preoccupied, my dear,” she said mournfully to Harry. “My inner eye
sees past your brave face to the t roubled soul within. And I regret to say that your
worries are not baseless. I see difficult t imes ahead for you, alas. . . most diff icult .. .
I fear the thing you dread will indeed come to pass. . . and perhaps sooner than you
think…”
Her voice dropped almost to a whisper. Ron rolled his eyes at Harry, who
looked stonily back. Professor Trelawney swept past them and seated herself in a
large winged armchair before the f ire, facing the class. Lavender Brown and Parvat i
Pat il, who deeply admired Professor Trelawney, were sit t ing on poufs very close to
her.
“My dears, it is time for us to consider the stars,” she said. “The movements of
the planets and the mysterious portents they reveal only to those who understand the
steps of the celest ial dance. Human dest iny may be deciphered by the planetary rays,
which intermingle. . .“
But Harry’ s thoughts had drifted. The perfumed fire always made him feel
sleepy and dull-wit ted, and Professor Trelawney’ s rambling talks on fortune-telling
never held him exact ly spellbound – though he couldn’ t help thinking about what she
had just said to him. “I fear the thing you dread will indeed come to pass…’”
But Hermione was right, Harry thought irritably, Professor Trelawney really was
an old fraud. He wasn’ t dreading anything at the moment at all. . . well, unless you
counted his fears that Sirius had been caught . . . but what did Professor Trelawney
know? He had long since come to the conclusion that her brand of fortunetelling was
really no more than lucky guesswork and a spooky manner.
Except , of course, for that t ime at the end of last term, when she had made
the predict ion about Voldemort rising again. . . and Dumbledore himself had said that
he thought that trance had been genuine, when Harry had described it to him.
“Harry!” Ron muttered.
“What?”
Harry looked around; the whole class was staring at him. He sat up straight; he
had been almost dozing off, lost in the heat and his thoughts.
“ I was saying, my dear, that you were clearly born under the baleful influence
of Saturn,” said Professor Trelawney, a faint note of resentment in her voice at the
fact that he had obviously not been hanging on her words.
“Born under – what, sorry?” said Harry.
“ Saturn, dear, the planet Saturn!” said Professor Trelawney, sounding
definitely irritated that he wasn’ t riveted by this news. “ I was saying that Saturn was
surely in a posit ion of power in the heavens at the moment of your birth. . . . Your
dark hair. . . your mean stature…t ragic losses so young in life. . . I think I am right in
saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?”
“No,” said Harry, “I was born in July.”
Ron hastily turned his laugh into a hacking cough.
Half an hour later, each of them had been given a complicated circular chart ,
and was at tempt ing to fill in the posit ion of the planets at their moment of birth. It
was dull work, requiring much consultation of timetables and calculation of angles.
“ I’ ve got two Neptunes here,” said Harry after a while, frowning down at his
piece of parchment, “that can’t be right, can it?”
“ Aaaaah,” said Ron, imitat ing Professor Trelawney’ s myst ical whisper, “ when
two Neptunes appear in the sky, it is a sure sign that a midget in glasses is being born,
Harry. . . .“
Seamus and Dean, who were working nearby, sniggered loudly, though not
loudly enough to mask the excited squeals from Lavender Brown – “Oh Professor, look!
I think I’ve got an unaspected planet! Oooh, which one’s that, Professor?”
“It is Uranus, my dear,” said Professor Trelawney, peering down at the chart.
“Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?” said Ron.
Most unfortunately, Professor Trelawney heard him, and it was this, perhaps,
that made her give them so much homework at the end of the class.
“ A detailed analysis of the way the planetary movements in the coming month
will af fect you, with reference to your personal chart ,” she snapped, sounding much
more like Professor McGonagall than her usual airy-fairy self. “ I want it ready to hand
in next Monday, and no excuses!”
“Miserable old bat ,” said Ron bit terly as they j oined the crowds descending the
staircases back to the Great Hall and dinner. “That’ll take all weekend, that will. . .”
“Lots of homework?” said Hermione brightly, catching up with them. “Professor
Vector didn’t give us any at all!”
“Well, bully for Professor Vector,” said Ron moodily.
They reached the ent rance hall, which was packed with people queuing for
dinner. They had j ust j oined the end of the line, when a loud voice rang out behind
them.
“Weasley! Hey, Weasley!”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were standing
there, each looking thoroughly pleased about something.
“What?” said Ron shortly.
“ Your dad’ s in the paper, Weasley!” said Malfoy, brandishing a copy of the
Daily Prophet and speaking very loudly, so that everyone in the packed ent rance hall
could hear. “Listen to this!
FURTHER MISTAKES AT THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC
It seems as though the Minist ry of Magic’ s t roubles are not yet at
an end, writ es Rita Skeet er, Special Correspondent . Recently
under fire for its poor
crowd cont rol at the Quidditch World Cup, and st ill unable to
account for the disappearance of one of its witches, the Minist ry
was plunged into fresh embarrassment yesterday by the antics of
Arnold Weasley, of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.”
Malfoy looked up.
“ Imagine them not even get t ing his name right , Weasley. It ’ s almost as though
he’s a complete nonentity, isn’t it?” he crowed.
Everyone in the entrance hall was listening now. Malfoy straightened the paper
with a flourish and read on:
Arnold Weasley, who was charged with possession of a flying car
two years ago, was yesterday involved in a tussle with several
Muggle law-keepers (“ policemen” ) over a number of highly
aggressive dustbins. Mr. Weasley appears to have rushed to the
aid of “Mad-Eye” Moody, the aged ex-Auror who ret ired from the
Minist ry when no longer able to tell the difference between a
handshake and at tempted murder. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Weasley
found, upon arrival at Mr. Moody’ s heavily guarded house, that
Mr. Moody had once again raised a false alarm. Mr. Weasley was
forced to modify several memories before he could escape f rom
the policemen, but refused to answer Daily Prophet questions
about why he had involved the Minist ry in such an undignified
and potentially embarrassing scene.
“ And there’ s a picture, Weasley!” said Malfoy, flipping the paper over and
holding it up. “ A picture of your parents outside their house – if you can call it a
house! Your mother could do with losing a bit of weight, couldn’t she?”
Ron was shaking with fury. Everyone was staring at him.
“Get stuffed, Malfoy,” said Harry. “C’mon, Ron. . .”
“ Oh yeah, you were staying with them this summer, weren’ t you, Pot ter?”
sneered Malfoy. “So tell me, is his mother really that porky, or is it just the picture?”
“ You know your mother, Malfoy?” said Harry – both he and Hermione had
grabbed the back of Ron’ s robes to stop him f rom launching himself at Malfoy – “ that
expression she’ s got , like she’ s got dung under her nose? Has she always looked like
that, or was it just because you were with her?”
Malfoy’s pale face went slightly pink.
“Don’t you dare insult my mother, Potter.”
“Keep your fat mouth shut, then,” said Harry, turning away.
BANG!
Several people screamed – Harry felt something white-hot graze the side of his
face – he plunged his hand into his robes for his wand, but before he’ d even touched
it, he heard a second loud BANG, and a roar that echoed through the entrance hall.
“OH NO YOU DON’T, LADDIE!”
Harry spun around. Professor Moody was limping down the marble staircase.
His wand was out and it was point ing right at a pure white ferret , which was shivering
on the stone-flagged floor, exactly where Malfoy had been standing.
There was a terrified silence in the ent rance hall. Nobody but Moody was
moving a muscle. Moody turned to look at Harry — at least, his normal eye was looking
at Harry; the other one was pointing into the back of his head.
“Did he get you?” Moody growled. His voice was low and gravelly.
“No,” said Harry, “missed.”
“LEAVE IT!” Moody shouted.
“Leave – what?” Harry said, bewildered.
“Not you – him!” Moody growled, jerking his thumb over his shoulder at Crabbe,
who had just frozen, about to pick up the white ferret. It seemed that Moody’s rolling
eye was magical and could see out of the back of his head.
Moody started to limp toward Crabbe, Goyle, and the ferret , which gave a
t errified squeak and took off, streaking toward the dungeons.
“ I don’ t think so!” roared Moody, point ing his wand at the ferret again – it flew
ten feet into the air, fell with a smack to the floor, and then bounced upward once
more.
“ I don’ t like people who at tack when their opponent ’ s back’ s turned,” growled
Moody as the ferret bounced higher and higher, squealing in pain. “ St inking,
cowardly, scummy thing to do…”
The ferret flew through the air, its legs and tail flailing helplessly.
“Never – do – that – again -“ said Moody, speaking each word as the ferret hit
the stone floor and bounced upward again.
“Professor Moody!” said a shocked voice.
Professor McGonagall was coming down the marble staircase with her arms full
of books.
“ Hello, Professor McGonagall,” said Moody calmly, bouncing the ferret st ill
higher.
“What – what are you doing?” said Professor McGonagall, her eyes following
the bouncing ferret’s progress through the air.
“Teaching,” said Moody.
“Teach – Moody, is t hat a st udent ?” shrieked Professor McGonagall, the books
spilling out of her arms.
“Yep,” said Moody.
“ No!” cried Professor McGonagall, running down the stairs and pulling out her
wand; a moment later, with a loud snapping noise, Draco Malfoy had reappeared, lying
in a heap on the floor with his sleek blond hair all over his now brilliant ly pink face.
He got to his feet, wincing.
“Moody, we never use Transfigurat ion as a punishment !” said Professor
McGonagall wealdy. “Surely Professor Dumbledore told you that?”
“ He might ’ ve ment ioned it , yeah,” said Moody, scratching his chin
unconcernedly, “but I thought a good sharp shock -“
“We give detentions, Moody! Or speak to the offender’s Head of House!”
“I’ll do that, then,” said Moody, staring at Malfoy with great dislike.
Malfoy, whose pale eyes were st ill watering with pain and humiliat ion, looked
malevolent ly up at Moody and mut tered something in which the words “my father”
were distinguishable.
“Oh yeah?” said Moody quiet ly, limping forward a few steps, the dull clunk of
his wooden leg echoing around the hall. “Well, I know your father of old, boy… . You
tell him Moody’ s keeping a close eye on his son. . . you tell him that from me. . . .
Now, your Head of House’ll be Snape, will it?”
“Yes,” said Malfoy resentfully.
“Another old friend,” growled Moody. “I’ve been looking forward to a chat with
old Snape. . . . Come on, you. . .”
And he seized Malfoy’s upper arm and marched him off toward the dungeons.
Professor McGonagall stared anxiously after them for a few moments, then
waved her wand at her fallen books, causing them to soar up into the air and back into
her arms.
“Don’t talk to me,” Ron said quietly to Harry and Hermione as they sat down at
the Gryffindor table a few minutes later, surrounded by excited talk on all sides about
what had just happened.
“Why not?” said Hermione in surprise.
“ Because I want to f ix that in my memory forever,” said Ron, his eyes closed
and an uplifted expression on his face. “Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret.”
Harry and Hermione both laughed, and Hermione began doling beef casserole
onto each of their plates.
“ He could have really hurt Malfoy, though,” she said. “ It was good, really, that
Professor McGonagall stopped it –“
“ Hermione!” said Ron furiously, his eyes snapping open again, “ you’ re ruining
the best moment of my life!”
Hermione made an impatient noise and began to eat at top speed again.
“ Don’ t tell me you’ re going back to the library this evening?” said Harry,
watching her.
“Got to,” said Hermione thickly. “Loads to do.”
“But you told us Professor Vector -“
“ It ’ s not schoolwork,” she said. Within five minutes, she had cleared her plate
and departed. No sooner had she gone than her seat was taken by Fred Weasley.
“Moody!” he said. “How cool is he?”
“ Beyond cool,” said George, sit t ing down opposite Fred. “ Supercool,” said the
twins’ best friend, Lee Jordan, sliding into the seat beside George. “We had him this
afternoon,” he told Harry and Ron.
“What was it like?” said Harry eagerly.
Fred, George, and Lee exchanged looks full of meaning.
“Never had a lesson like it,” said Fred.
“He knows, man,” said Lee.
“Knows what?” said Ron, leaning forward.
“Knows what it’s like to be out there doing it,” said George impressively.
“Doing what?” said Harry.
“Fighting the Dark Arts,” said Fred.
“He’s seen it all,” said George.
“Mazing,” said Lee.
Ron dived into his bag for his schedule.
“We haven’t got him till Thursday!” he said in a disappointed voice.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN – THE UNFORGIVABLE CURSES
The next two days passed without great incident , unless you counted Neville
melt ing his sixth cauldron in Pot ions. Professor Snape, who seemed to have at tained
new levels of vindict iveness over the summer, gave Nevihle detent ion, and Neville
returned from it in a state of nervous collapse, having been made to disembowel a
barrel full of horned toads.
“ You know why Snape’ s in such a foul mood, don’ t you?” said Ron to Harry as
they watched Hermione teaching Neville a Scouring Charm to remove the frog guts
from under his fingernails.
“Yeah,” said Harry. “Moody.”
It was common knowledge that Snape really wanted the Dark Arts j ob, and he
had now failed to get it for the fourth year running. Snape had disliked all of their
previous Dark Arts teachers, and shown it – but he seemed st rangely wary of displaying
overt animosity to Mad-Eye Moody. Indeed, whenever Harry saw the two of them
together – at mealt imes, or when they passed in the corridors – he had the dist inct
impression that Snape was avoiding Moody’s eye, whether magical or normal.
“I reckon Snape’s a bit scared of him, you know,” Harry said thoughtfully.
“ Imagine if Moody turned Snape into a horned toad,” said Ron, his eyes mist ing
over, “and bounced him all around his dungeon…”
The Gryffindor fourth years were looking forward to Moody’ s first lesson so
much that they arrived early on Thursday luncht ime and queued up outside his
classroom before the bell had even rung. The only person missing was Hermione, who
turned up just in time for the lesson.
“Been in the -“
“ Library.” Harry finished her sentence for her. “ C’mon, quick, or we won’ t
get decent seats.”
They hurried into three chairs right in f ront of the teacher’ s desk, took out
their copies of The Dark Forces: A Guide t o Sel f -Protection, and waited, unusually
quiet . Soon they heard Moody’ s dist inct ive clunking footsteps coming down the
corridor, and he entered the room, looking as st range and frightening as ever. They
could just see his clawed, wooden foot protruding from underneath his robes.
“ You can put those away,” he growled, stumping over to his desk and sit t ing
down, “those books. You won’t need them.”
They returned the books to their bags, Ron looking excited.
Moody took out a register, shook his long mane of grizzled gray hair out of his
twisted and scarred face, and began to call out names, his normal eye moving steadily
down the list while his magical eye swiveled around, fixing upon each student as he or
she answered.
“ Right then,” he said, when the last person had declared themselves present ,
“ I’ ve had a let ter from Professor Lupin about this class. Seems you’ ve had a pret ty
thorough grounding in tackling Dark creatures – you’ ve covered boggarts, Red Caps,
hinkypunks, grindylows, Kappas, and werewolves, is that right?”
There was a general murmur of assent.
“ But you’ re behind – very behind – on dealing with curses,” said Moody. “ So
I’m here to bring you up to scratch on what wizards can do to each other. I’ve got one
year to teach you how to deal with Dark -“
“What, aren’t you staying?” Ron blurted out.
Moody’ s magical eye spun around to stare at Ron; Ron looked ext remely
apprehensive, but after a moment Moody smiled – the first time Harry had seen him do
so. The effect was to make his heavily scarred face look more twisted and contorted
than ever, but it was nevertheless good to know that he ever did anything as friendly
as smile. Ron looked deeply relieved.
“ You’ ll be Arthur Weasley’ s son, eh?” Moody said. “ Your father got me out of
a very t ight corner a few days ago. .. . Yeah, I’m staying j ust the one year. Special
favor to Dumbledore. . . . One year, and then back to my quiet retirement.”
He gave a harsh laugh, and then clapped his gnarled hands together.
“ So – st raight into it . Curses. They come in many st rengths and forms. Now,
according to the Minist ry of Magic, I’m supposed to teach you countercurses and leave
it at that . I’m not supposed to show you what illegal Dark curses look like unt il you’ re
in the sixth year. You’ re not supposed to be old enough to deal with it t ill then. But
Professor Dumbledore’ s got a higher opinion of your nerves, he reckons you can cope,
and I say, the sooner you know what you’ re up against , the bet ter. How are you
supposed to defend yourself against something you’ ve never seen? A wizard who’ s
about to put an illegal curse on you isn’ t going to tell you what he’ s about to do. He’ s
not going to do it nice and polite to your face. You need to be prepared. You need to
be alert and watchful. You need to put that away, Miss Brown, when I’m talking.”
Lavender j umped and blushed. She had been showing Parvat i her completed
horoscope under the desk. Apparent ly Moody’ s magical eye could see through solid
wood, as well as out of the back of his head.
“ So. . . do any of you know which curses are most heavily punished by
wizarding law?”
Several hands rose tentat ively into the air, including Ron’ s and Hermione’ s.
Moody pointed at Ron, though his magical eye was still fixed on Lavender.
“ Er,” said Ron tentat ively, “my dad told me about one.. . . Is it called the
Imperius Curse, or something?”
“ Ah, yes,” said Moody appreciat ively. “ Your father would know that one. Gave
the Ministry a lot of trouble at one time, the Imperius Curse.”
Moody got heavily to his mismatched feet , opened his desk drawer, and took
out a glass jar. Three large black spiders were scuttling around inside it. Harry felt Ron
recoil slightly next to him – Ron hated spiders.
Moody reached into the j ar, caught one of the spiders, and held it in the palm
of his hand so that they could all see it . He then pointed his wand at it and mut tered,
“Imperio!”
The spider leapt from Moody’ s hand on a fine thread of silk and began to swing
backward and forward as though on a trapeze. It stretched out its legs rigidly, then did
a back flip, breaking the thread and landing on the desk, where it began to cartwheel
in circles. Moody j erked his wand, and the spider rose onto two of its hind legs and
went into what was unmistakably a tap dance.
Everyone was laughing – everyone except Moody.
“ Think it ’ s funny, do you?” he growled. “ You’ d like it , would you, if I did it to
you?”
The laughter died away almost instantly.
“ Total cont rol,” said Moody quiet ly as the spider balled itself up and began to
roll over and over. “I could make it jump out of the window, drown itself, throw itself
down one of your throats. . .“
Ron gave an involuntary shudder.
“ Years back, there were a lot of witches and wizards being cont rolled by the
Imperius Curse,” said Moody, and Harry knew he was talking about the days in which
Voldemort had been all-powerful. “ Some j ob for the Minist ry, t rying to sort out who
was being forced to act, and who was acting of their own free will.
“ The Imperius Curse can be fought , and I’ ll be teaching you how, but it takes
real st rength of character, and not everyone’ s got it . Bet ter avoid being hit with it if
you can. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” he barked, and everyone jumped.
Moody picked up the somersaulting spider and threw it back into the jar.
“Anyone else know one? Another illegal curse?”
Hermione’ s hand flew into the air again and so, to Harry’ s slight surprise, did
Neville’ s. The only class in which Neville usually volunteered informat ion was
Herbology which was easily his best subj ect . Neville looked surprised at his own
daring.
“Yes?” said Moody, his magical eye rolling right over to fix on Neville.
“There’s one – the Cruciatus Curse,” said Neville in a small but distinct voice.
Moody was looking very intently at Neville, this time with both eyes.
“ Your name’ s Longbot tom?” he said, his magical eye swooping down to check
the register again.
Neville nodded nervously, but Moody made no further inquiries. Turning back
to the class at large, he reached into the jar for the next spider and placed it upon the
desktop, where it remained motionless, apparently too scared to move.
“ The Cruciatus Curse,” said Moody. “ Needs to be a bit bigger for you to get
the idea,” he said, pointing his wand at the spider. “Engorgio!”
The spider swelled. It was now larger than a tarantula. Abandoning all
pretense, Ron pushed his chair backward, as far away from Moody’s desk as possible.
Moody raised his wand again, pointed it at the spider, and muttered, “Crucio!”
At once, the spider’ s legs bent in upon its body; it rolled over and began to
twitch horribly, rocking from side to side. No sound came from it , but Harry was sure
that if it could have given voice, it would have been screaming. Moody did not remove
his wand, and the spider started to shudder and j erk more violent ly – “ Stop it !”
Hermione said shrilly.”
Harry looked around at her. She was looking, not at the spider, but at Neville,
and Harry, following her gaze, saw that Neville’s hands were clenched upon the desk
in front of him, his knuckles white, his eyes wide and horrified.
Moody raised his wand. The spider’s legs relaxed, but it continued to twitch.
“Reducio,” Moody mut tered, and the spider shrank back to its proper size. He
put it back into the jar.
“ Pain,” said Moody soft ly. “ You don’ t need thumbscrews or knives to torture
someone if you can perform the Cruciatus Curse. . . . That one was very popular once
too.
“Right. . . anyone know any others?”
Harry looked around. From the looks on everyone’ s faces, he guessed they
were all wondering what was going to happen to the last spider. Hermione’ s hand
shook slightly as, for the third time, she raised it into the air.
“Yes?” said Moody, looking at her.
“Avada Kedavra,” Hermione whispered.
Several people looked uneasily around at her, including Ron.
“ Ah,” said Moody, another slight smile twist ing his lopsided mouth. “ Yes, the
last and worst. Avada Kedavra. .. the Killing Curse.”
He put his hand into the glass j ar, and almost as though it knew what was
coming, the third spider scut t led frant ically around the bot tom of the j ar, t rying to
evade Moody’s fingers, but he trapped it, and placed it upon the desktop. It started to
scuttle frantically across the wooden surface.
Moody raised his wand, and Harry felt a sudden thrill of foreboding.
“ Avada Kedavra!” Moody roared.
There was a f lash of blinding green light and a rushing sound, as though a vast ,
invisible something was soaring through the air – instantaneously the spider rolled over
onto its back, unmarked, but unmistakably dead. Several of the students st ifled cries;
Ron had thrown himself backward and almost toppled off his seat as the spider skidded
toward him.
Moody swept the dead spider off the desk onto the floor.
“ Not nice,” he said calmly. “ Not pleasant . And there’ s no countercurse.
There’ s no blocking it . Only one known person has ever survived it , and he’ s sit t ing
right in front of me.”
Harry felt his face redden as Moody’ s eyes (both of them) looked into his own.
He could feel everyone else looking around at him too. Harry stared at the blank
blackboard as though fascinated by it, but not really seeing it at all.…
So that was how his parents had died. . . exact ly like that spider. Had they
been unblemished and unmarked too? Had they simply seen the flash of green light
and heard the rush of speeding death, before life was wiped from their bodies?
Harry had been picturing his parents’ deaths over and over again for three
years now, ever since he’ d found out they had been murdered, ever since he’ d found
out what had happened that night : Wormtail had bet rayed his parents’ whereabouts
to Voldemort , who had come to find them at their cot tage. How Voldemort had killed
Harry’ s father f irst . How James Pot ter had t ried to hold him off, while he shouted at
his wife to take Harry and run. . . Voldemort had advanced on Lily Pot ter, told her to
move aside so that he could kill Harry.. . how she had begged him to kill her instead,
refused to stop shielding her son.. . and so Voldemort had murdered her too, before
turning his wand on Harry.
Harry knew these details because he had heard his parents’ voices when he had
fought the dementors last year – for that was the terrible power of the dementors: to
force their vict ims to relive the worst memories of their lives, and drown, powerless,
in their own despair.
Moody was speaking again, from a great distance, it seemed to Harry. With a
massive effort , he pulled himself back to the present and listened to what Moody was
saying.
“ Avada Kedavra’ s a curse that needs a powerful bit of magic behind it – you
could all get your wands out now and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt
I’ d get so much as a nosebleed. But that doesn’ t mat ter. I’m not here to teach you
how to do it.
“Now, if there’s no countercurse, why am I showing you? Because you’ve got to
know. You’ ve got to appreciate what the worst is. You don’ t want to find yourself in
a situat ion where you’ re facing it . CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” he roared, and the whole
class jumped again.
“ Now. . . those three curses – Avada Kedavra, Imperius, and Cruciatus – are
known as the Unforgivable Curses. The use of any one of them on a fellow human
being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban. That ’ s what you’ re up against .
That’s what I’ve got to teach you to fight. You need preparing. You need arming. But
most of all, you need to pract ice const ant , never-ceasing vigilance. Get out your
quills. . . copy this down. . . .“
They spent the rest of the lesson taking notes on each of the Unforgivable
Curses. No one spoke unt il the bell rang – but when Moody had dismissed them and
they had left the classroom, a torrent of talk burst forth. Most people were discussing
the curses in awed voices – “ Did you see it twitch?” “ – and when he killed it – j ust like
that!”
They were talking about the lesson, Harry thought , as though it had been some
sort of spectacular show, but he hadn’ t found it very entertaining – and nor, it
seemed, had Hermione.
“Hurry up,” she said tensely to Harry and Ron.
“Not the ruddy library again?” said Ron.
“ No,” said Hermione curt ly, point ing up a side passage. “ Neville.” Neville was
standing alone, halfway up the passage, staring at the stone wall opposite him with
the same horrified, wide-eyed look he had worn when Moody had demonst rated the
Cruciatus Curse.
“Neville?” Hermione said gently.
Neville looked around.
“Oh hello,” he said, his voice much higher than usual. “ Interest ing lesson,
wasn’t it? I wonder what’s for dinner, I’m – I’m starving, aren’t you?”
“Neville, are you all right?” said Hermione.
“Oh yes, I’m fine,” Neville gabbled in the same unnaturally high voice. “ Very
interesting dinner – I mean lesson – what’s for eating?”
Ron gave Harry a startled look.
“Neville, what – ?“
But an odd clunking noise sounded behind them, and they turned to see
Professor Moody limping toward them. All four of them fell silent , watching him
apprehensively, but when he spoke, it was in a much lower and gent ler growl than
they had yet heard.
“It’s all right , sonny,” he said to Neville. “Why don’ t you come up to my
office? Come on. . . we can have a cup of tea. . . .“
Neville looked even more frightened at the prospect of tea with Moody. He
neither moved nor spoke. Moody turned his magical eye upon Harry.
“You all right, are you, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry, almost defiantly.
Moody’ s blue eye quivered slight ly in its socket as it surveyed Harry. Then he
said, “ You’ ve got to know. It seems harsh, maybe, but you’ ve got t o know. No point
pretending. . . well.. . come on, Longbot tom, I’ ve got some books that might interest
you.”
Neville looked pleadingly at Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but they didn’ t say
anything, so Neville had no choice but to allow himself to be steered away, one of
Moody’s gnarled hands on his shoulder.
“What was that about?” said Ron, watching Neville and Moody turn the corner.
“I don’t know,” said Hermione, looking pensive.
“ Some lesson, though, eh?” said Ron to Harry as they set off for the Great Hall.
“ Fred and George were right , weren’ t they? He really knows his stuff, Moody, doesn’ t
he? When he did Avada Kedavra, the way that spider just died, just snuffed it right -“
But Ron fell suddenly silent at the look on Harry’ s face and didn’ t speak again
unt il they reached the Great Hall, when he said he supposed they had bet ter make a
start on Professor Trelawney’s predictions tonight, since they would take hours.
Hermione did not j oin in with Harry and Ron’ s conversat ion during dinner, but
ate furiously fast , and then lef t for the library again. Harry and Ron walked back to
Gryffindor Tower, and Harry, who had been thinking of nothing else all through dinner,
now raised the subject of the Unforgivable Curses himself.
“Wouldn’ t Moody and Dumbledore be in t rouble with the Ministry if they knew
we’d seen the curses?” Harry asked as they approached the Fat Lady.
“ Yeah, probably,” said Ron. “ But Dumbledore’ s always done things his way,
hasn’ t he, and Moody’ s been get t ing in t rouble for years, I reckon. At tacks first and
asks questions later – look at his dustbins. Balderdash.”
The Fat Lady swung forward to reveal the ent rance hole, and they climbed into
the Gryffindor common room, which was crowded and noisy.
“Shall we get our Divination stuff, then?” said Harry.
“I s’pose,” Ron groaned.
They went up to the dormitory to fetch their books and charts, to find Neville
there alone, sitting on his bed, reading. He looked a good deal calmer than at the end
of Moody’s lesson, though still not entirely normal. His eyes were rather red.
“You all right, Neville?” Harry asked him.
“Oh yes,” said Neville, “ I’m fine, thanks. Just reading this book Professor
Moody lent me. . .”
He held up the book: Magical Water Plants of the Mediterranean.
“ Apparent ly, Professor Sprout told Professor Moody I’m really good at
Herbology,” Neville said. There was a faint note of pride in his voice that Harry had
rarely heard there before. “He thought I’d like this.”
Telling Neville what Professor Sprout had said, Harry thought , had been a very
tact ful way of cheering Neville up, for Neville very rarely heard that he was good at
anything. It was the sort of thing Professor Lupin would have done.
Harry and Ron took their copies of Unfogging t he Fut ure back down to the
common room, found a table, and set to work on their predict ions for the coming
month. An hour later, they had made very lit t le progress, though their table was
lit tered with bits of parchment bearing sums and symbols, and Harry’ s brain was as
fogged as though it had been filled with the fumes from Professor Trelawney’s fire.
“ I haven’ t got a clue what this lot ’ s supposed to mean,” he said, staring down
at a long list of calculations.
“ You know,” said Ron, whose hair was on end because of all the t imes he had
run his f ingers through it in frust rat ion, “ I think it ’ s back to the old Divinat ion
standby.”
“What – make it up?”
“ Yeah,” said Ron, sweeping the j umble of scrawled notes off the table, dipping
his pen into some ink, and starting to write.
“ Next Monday,” he said as he scribbled, “ I am likely to develop a cough, owing
to the unlucky conj unct ion of Mars and Jupiter.” He looked up at Harry. “ You know
her – just put in loads of misery, she’ll lap it up.”
“ Right ,” said Harry, crumpling up his first at tempt and lobbing it over the
heads of a group of chat tering first years into the f ire. “ Okay. . . on Monday, I will be
in danger of- er – burns.”
“ Yeah, you will be,” said Ron darkly, “ we’ re seeing the skrewts again on
Monday. Okay, Tuesday, I’ll. . . erm. .
“ Lose a t reasured possession,” said Harry, who was flicking through Unfogging
the Future for ideas.
“Good one,” said Ron, copying it down. “ Because of… erm. . . Mercury. Why
don’t you get stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend?”
“ Yeah. . . cool. . .“ said Harry, scribbling it down, “ because… Venus is in the
twelfth house.”
“And on Wednesday, I think I’ll come off worst in a fight.”
“Aaah, I was going to have a fight. Okay, I’ll lose a bet.”
“Yeah, you’ll be betting I’ll win my fight. ..
They cont inued to make up predict ions (which grew steadily more t ragic) for
another hour, while the common room around them slowly empt ied as people went up
to bed. Crookshanks wandered over to them, leapt light ly into an empty chair, and
stared inscrutably at Harry, rather as Hermione might look if she knew they weren’ t
doing their homework properly.
Staring around the room, t rying to think of a kind of misfortune he hadn’ t yet
used, Harry saw Fred and George sit t ing together against the opposite wall, heads
together, quills out , poring over a single piece of parchment . It was most unusual to
see Fred and George hidden away in a corner and working silent ly; they usually liked
to be in the thick of things and the noisy center of at tent ion. There was something
secret ive about the way they were working on the piece of parchment , and Harry was
reminded of how they had sat together writ ing something back at the Burrow. He had
thought then that it was another order form for Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, but it
didn’ t look like that this t ime; if it had been, they would surely have let Lee Jordan in
on the j oke. He wondered whether it had anything to do with entering the Triwizard
Tournament.
As Harry watched, George shook his head at Fred, scratched out something
with his quill, and said, in a very quiet voice that nevertheless carried across the
almost deserted room, “ No – that sounds like we’ re accusing him. Got to be careful. .
.“
Then George looked over and saw Harry watching him. Harry grinned and
quickly returned to his predict ions – he didn’ t want George to think he was
eavesdropping. Short ly after that , the twins rolled up their parchment , said good
night, and went off to bed.
Fred and George had been gone ten minutes or so when the port rait hole
opened and Hermione climbed into the common room carrying a sheaf of parchment in
one hand and a box whose contents rat t led as she walked in the other. Crookshanks
arched his back, purring.
“Hello,” she said, “I’ve just finished!”
“So have I!” said Ron triumphantly, throwing down his quill.
Hermione sat down, laid the things she was carrying in an empty armchair, and
pulled Ron’s predictions toward her.
“ Not going to have a very good month, are you?” she said sardonically as
Crookshanks curled up in her lap.
“Ah well, at least I’m forewarned,” Ron yawned.
“You seem to be drowning twice,” said Hermione.
“Oh am I?” said Ron, peering down at his predict ions. “ I’ d bet ter change one
of them to getting trampled by a rampaging hippogriff.”
“Don’t you think it’s a bit obvious you’ve made these up?” said Hermione.
“ How dare you!” said Ron, in mock out rage. “We’ ve been working like houseelves
here!”
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
“It’s just an expression,” said Ron hastily.
Harry laid down his quill too, having j ust finished predict ing his own death by
decapitation.
“What’s in the box?” he asked, pointing at it.
“ Funny you should ask,” said Hermione, with a nasty look at Ron. She took off
the lid and showed them the contents.
Inside were about fifty badges, all of different colors, but all bearing the same
letters: S. P. E .W.
“Spew?” said Harry, picking up a badge and looking at it. “What’s this about?”
“Not spew,” said Hermione impat ient ly. “ It ’ s S-P-E-W. Stands for the Society
for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.”
“Never heard of it,” said Ron.
“Well, of course you haven’ t ,” said Hermione briskly, “ I’ ve only j ust started
it.”
“Yeah?” said Ron in mild surprise. “How many members have you got?”
“Well – if you two join – three,” said Hermione.
“And you think we want to walk around wearing badges saying ‘spew,’ do you?”
said Ron.
“S-P-E-W!” said Hermione hotly. “I was going to put Stop the Outrageous Abuse
of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status – but
it wouldn’t fit. So that’s the heading of our manifesto.”
She brandished the sheaf of parchment at them.
“ I’ ve been researching it thoroughly in the library. Elf enslavement goes back
centuries. I can’t believe no one’s done anything about it before now.”
“Hermione – open your ears,” said Ron loudly. “ They. Like. It . They like
being enslaved!”
“Our short -term aims,” said Hermione, speaking even more loudly than Ron,
and act ing as though she hadn’ t heard a word, “ are to secure house-elves fair wages
and working condit ions. Our long-term aims include changing the law about non-wand
use, and t rying to get an elf into the Department for the Regulat ion and Cont rol of
Magical Creatures, because they’re shockingly underrepresented.”
“And how do we do all this?” Harry asked.
“We start by recruit ing members,” said Hermione happily. “ I thought two
Sickles to j oin – that buys a badge – and the proceeds can fund our leaflet campaign.
You’ re t reasurer, Ron – I’ ve got you a collect ing t in upstairs – and Harry, you’ re
secretary, so you might want to write down everything I’m saying now, as a record of
our first meeting.”
There was a pause in which Hermione beamed at the pair of them, and Harry
sat, torn between exasperation at Hermione and amusement at the look on Ron’s face.
The silence was broken, not by Ron, who in any case looked as though he was
temporarily dumbst ruck, but by a soft t ap, tap on the window. Harry looked across
the now empty common room and saw, illuminated by the moonlight , a snowy owl
perched on the windowsill.
“ Hedwig!” he shouted, and he launched himself out of his chair and across the
room to pull open the window.
Hedwig f lew inside, soared across the room, and landed on the table on top of
Harry’s predictions.
“About time!” said Harry, hurrying after her.
“ She’ s got an answer!” said Ron excitedly, point ing at the grubby piece of
parchment tied to Hedwig’s leg.
Harry hast ily unt ied it and sat down to read, whereupon Hedwig f lut tered onto
his knee, hooting softly.
“What does it say?” Hermione asked breathlessly.
The let ter was very short , and looked as though it had been scrawled in a great
hurry. Harry read it aloud:
Harry –
I’m flying north immediately. This news about your scar is the latest in a
series of st range rumors t hat have reached me here. If it hurt s again, go
st raight t o Dumbledore – t hey’ re saying he’ s got Mad-Eye out of ret irement ,
which means he’s reading the signs, even if no one else is.
I’ll be in touch soon. My best to Ron and Hermione. Keep your eyes open,
Harry.
Sirius
Harry looked up at Ron and Hermione, who stared back at him.
“He’s flying north?” Hermione whispered. “He’s coming back?”
“ Dumbledore’ s reading what signs?” said Ron, looking perplexed. “ Harry –
what’s up?”
For Harry had j ust hit himself in the forehead with his fist , j olt ing Hedwig out
of his lap.
“I shouldn’t’ve told him!” Harry said furiously.
“What are you on about?” said Ron in surprise.
“ It ’ s made him think he’ s got to come back!” said Harry, now slamming his fist
on the table so that Hedwig landed on the back of Ron’ s chair, hoot ing indignant ly.
“ Coming back, because he thinks I’m in t rouble! And there’ s nothing wrong with me!
And I haven’ t got anything for you,” Harry snapped at Hedwig, who was clicking her
beak expectantly, “you’ll have to go up to the Owlery if you want food.”
Hedwig gave him an ext remely of fended look and took off for the open
window, cuffing him around the head with her outstretched wing as she went.
“Harry,” Hermione began, in a pacifying sort of voice.
“I’m going to bed,” said Harry shortly. “See you in the morning.”
Upstairs in the dormitory he pulled on his paj amas and got into his four-poster,
but he didn’t feel remotely tired.
If Sirius came back and got caught , it would be his, Harry’ s, fault . Why hadn’ t
he kept his mouth shut? A few seconds’ pain and he’ d had to blab. . . . If he’ d j ust
had the sense to keep it to himself.
He heard Ron come up into the dormitory a short while later, but did not speak
to him. For a long t ime, Harry lay staring up at the dark canopy of his bed. The
dormitory was completely silent, and, had he been less preoccupied, Harry would have
realized that the absence of Neville’ s usual snores meant that he was not the only one
lying awake.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN – BEAUXBATONS AND DURMSTRANG
Early next morning, Harry woke with a plan fully formed in his mind, as though
his sleeping brain had been working on it all night . He got up, dressed in the pale
dawn light , left the dormitory without waking Ron, and went back down to the
deserted common room. Here he took a piece of parchment from the table upon
which his Divination homework still lay and wrote the following letter:
Dear Sirius,
I reckon I j ust imagined my scar hurt ing, I was hal f asleep when I wrot e
t o you last t ime. There’ s no point coming back, everyt hing’ s f ine here.
Don’t worry about me, my head feels completely normal.
Harry
He then climbed out of the port rait hole, up through the silent cast le (held up
only briefly by Peeves, who t ried to overturn a large vase on him halfway along the
fourth-floor corridor), finally arriving at the Owlery, which was situated at the top of
West Tower.
The Owlery was a circular stone room, rather cold and drafty, because none of
the windows had glass in them. The floor was ent irely covered in st raw, owl
droppings, and the regurgitated skeletons of mice and voles. Hundreds upon hundreds
of owls of every breed imaginable were nest led here on perches that rose right up to
the top of the tower, nearly all of them asleep, though here and there a round amber
eye glared at Harry. He spot ted Hedwig nest led between a barn owl and a tawny, and
hurried over to her, sliding a little on the dropping-strewn floor.
It took him a while to persuade her to wake up and then to look at him, as she
kept shuffling around on her perch, showing him her tail. She was evident ly st ill
furious about his lack of grat itude the previous night . In the end, it was Harry
suggest ing she might be too t ired, and that perhaps he would ask Ron to borrow
Pigwidgeon, that made her stick out her leg and allow him to tie the letter to it.
“ Just find him, all right?” Harry said, st roking her back as he carried her on his
arm to one of the holes in the wall. “Before the dementors do.”
She nipped his finger, perhaps rather harder than she would ordinarily have
done, but hooted soft ly in a reassuring sort of way all the same. Then she spread her
wings and took off into the sunrise. Harry watched her fly out of sight with the
familiar feeling of unease back in his stomach. He had been so sure that Sirius’ s reply
would alleviate his worries rather than increasing them.
“ That was a lie, Harry,” said Hermione sharply over breakfast , when he told
her and Ron what he had done. “ You didn’t imagine your scar hurt ing and you know
it.”
“So what?” said Harry. “He’s not going back to Azkaban because of me.”
“ Drop it ,” said Ron sharply to Hermione as she opened her mouth to argue
some more, and for once, Hermione heeded him, and fell silent.
Harry did his best not to worry about Sirius over the next couple of weeks.
True, he could not stop himself from looking anxiously around every morning when the
post owls arrived, nor, late at night before he went to sleep, prevent himself from
seeing horrible visions of Sirius, cornered by dementors down some dark London
st reet , but betweent imes he t ried to keep his mind off his godfather. He wished he
st ill had Quidditch to dist ract him; nothing worked so well on a t roubled mind as a
good, hard t raining session. On the other hand, their lessons were becoming more
difficult and demanding than ever before, part icularly Moody’ s Defense Against the
Dark Arts.
To their surprise, Professor Moody had announced that he would be put t ing the
Imperius Curse on each of them in turn, to demonst rate its power and to see whether
they could resist its effects.
“But – but you said it ’ s illegal, Professor,” said Hermione uncertainly as Moody
cleared away the desks with a sweep of his wand, leaving a large clear space in the
middle of the room. “You said – to use it against another human was -“
“ Dumbledore wants you taught what it feels like,” said Moody, his magical eye
swiveling onto Hermione and fixing her with an eerie, unblinking stare. “ If you’ d
rather learn the hard way – when someone’ s put t ing it on you so they can cont rol you
completely – fine by me. You’re excused. Off you go.”
He pointed one gnarled finger toward the door. Hermione went very pink and
mut tered something about not meaning that she wanted to leave. Harry and Ron
grinned at each other. They knew Hermione would rather eat bubotuber pus than miss
such an important lesson.
Moody began to beckon students forward in turn and put the Imperius Curse
upon them. Harry watched as, one by one, his classmates did the most ext raordinary
things under its influence. Dean Thomas hopped three t imes around the room, singing
the nat ional anthem. Lavender Brown imitated a squirrel. Neville performed a series
of quite astonishing gymnast ics he would certainly not have been capable of in his
normal state. Not one of them seemed to be able to fight off the curse, and each of
them recovered only when Moody had removed it.
“Potter,” Moody growled, “you next.”
Harry moved forward into the middle of the classroom, into the space that
Moody had cleared of desks. Moody raised his wand, pointed it at Harry, and said,
‘1mperio!”
It was the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a float ing sensat ion as every
thought and worry in his head was wiped gent ly away, leaving nothing but a vague,
unt raceable happiness. He stood there feeling immensely relaxed, only dimly aware of
everyone watching him.
And then he heard Mad-Eye Moody’ s voice, echoing in some distant chamber of
his empty brain: Jump onto the desk. . . jump onto the desk. . .
Harry bent his knees obediently, preparing to spring.
Jump onto the desk….
Why, though? Another voice had awoken in the back of his brain.
Stupid thing to do, really, said the voice.
Jump onto the desk….
No, I don’t think I will, thanks, said the other voice, a little more firmly. . . no,
I don’t really want to.
Jump! NOW!
The next thing Harry felt was considerable pain. He had both jumped and tried
to prevent himself from j umping – the result was that he’ d smashed headlong into the
desk knocking it over, and, by the feeling in his legs, fractured both his kneecaps.
“ Now, that ’ s more like it !” growled Moody’ s voice, and suddenly, Harry felt
the empty, echoing feeling in his head disappear. He remembered exact ly what was
happening, and the pain in his knees seemed to double.
“ Look at that , you lot . . . Pot ter fought ! He fought it , and he damn near beat
it ! We’ ll t ry that again, Pot ter, and the rest of you, pay at tent ion – watch his eyes,
that ’ s where you see it – very good, Pot ter, very good indeed! They’ ll have t rouble
controlling you!”
“ The way he talks,” Harry mut tered as he hobbled out of the Defense Against
the Dark Arts class an hour later (Moody had insisted on put t ing Harry through his
paces four t imes in a row, unt il Harry could throw off the curse ent irely), “ you’ d think
we were all going to be attacked any second.”
“ Yeah, I know,” said Ron, who was skipping on every alternate step. He had
had much more diff iculty with the curse than Harry, though Moody assured him the
effects would wear off by lunchtime. “Talk about paranoid. . .“ Ron glanced nervously
over his shoulder to check that Moody was definitely out of earshot and went on. “ No
wonder they were glad to get shot of him at the Minist ry. Did you hear him telling
Seamus what he did to that witch who shouted ‘Boo’ behind him on April Fools’ Day?
And when are we supposed to read up on resist ing the Imperius Curse with everything
else we’ve got to do?”
All the fourth years had not iced a definite increase in the amount of work they
were required to do this term. Professor McGonagall explained why, when the class
gave a part icularly loud groan at the amount of Transfigurat ion homework she had
assigned.
“You are now entering a most important phase of your magical education!” she
told them, her eyes glinting dangerously behind her square spectacles. “Your Ordinary
Wizarding Levels are drawing closer –“
“We don’t take O.W.L.s till fifth year!” s aid Dean Thomas indignantly.
“Maybe not, Thomas, but believe me, you need all the preparation you can get!
Miss Granger remains the only person in this class who has managed to turn a hedgehog
into a sat isfactory pincushion. I might remind you that your pincushion, Thomas, st ill
curls up in fright if anyone approaches it with a pin!”
Hermione, who had turned rather pink again, seemed to be t rying not to look
too pleased with herself.
Harry and Ron were deeply amused when Professor Trelawney told them that
they had received top marks for their homework in their next Divinat ion class. She
read out large port ions of their predict ions, commending them for their unflinching
acceptance of the horrors in store for them – but they were less amused when she
asked them to do the same thing for the month after next ; both of them were running
out of ideas for catastrophes.
Meanwhile Professor Binns, the ghost who taught History of Magic, had them
writ ing weekly essays on the goblin rebellions of the eighteenth century. Professor
Snape was forcing them to research ant idotes. They took this one seriously, as he had
hinted that he might be poisoning one of them before Christmas to see if their
ant idote worked. Professor Flitwick had asked them to read three ext ra books in
preparation for their lesson on Summoning Charms.
Even Hagrid was adding to their workload. The Blast -Ended Skrewts were
growing at a remarkable pace given that nobody had yet discovered what they ate.
Hagrid was delighted, and as part of their “ proj ect ,” suggested that they come down
to his hut on alternate evenings to observe the skrewts and make notes on their extraordinary
behavior.
“I will not,” said Draco Malfoy flatly when Hagrid had proposed this with the air
of Father Christmas pulling an ext ra-large toy out of his sack. “ I see enough of these
foul things during lessons, thanks.”
Hagrid’s smile faded off his face.
“ Yeh’ ll do wha’ yer told,” he growled, “ or I’ ll be takin’ a leaf out ta Professor
Moody’s book. . . . I hear yeh made a good ferret, Malfoy.”
The Gryffindors roared with laughter. Malfoy flushed with anger, but
apparently the memory of Moody’s punishment was still sufficiently painful to stop him
from retort ing. Harry, Ron, and Hermione returned to the cast le at the end of the
lesson in high spirits; seeing Hagrid put down Malfoy was part icularly sat isfying,
especially because Malfoy had done his very best to get Hagrid sacked the previous
year.
When they arrived in the ent rance hall, they found themselves unable to
proceed owing to the large crowd of students congregated there, all milling around a
large sign that had been erected at the foot of the marble staircase. Ron, the tallest
of the three, stood on t iptoe to see over the heads in front of them and read the sign
aloud to the other two:
TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT
THE DELEGATIONS FROM BEAUXBATONS AND
DURMSTRANG WILL BE ARRIVING AT 6 O’CLOCK
ON FRIDAY THE 30TH OF OCTOBER. LESSONS WILL
END HALF AN HOUR EARLY —
“ Brilliant !” said Harry. “ It ’ s Pot ions last thing on Friday! Snape won’ t have
time to poison us all!”
STUDENTS WILL RETURN THEIR BAGS AND BOOKS
TO THEIR DORMITORIES AND ASSEMBLE IN FRONT
OF THE CASTLE TO GREET OUR GUESTS BEFORE
THE WELCOMING FEAST.
“Only a week away!” said Ernie Macmillan of Hufflepuf f, emerging from the
crowd, his eyes gleaming. “I wonder if Cedric knows? Think I’ll go and tell him. . . .“
“Cedric?” said Ron blankly as Ernie hurried off.
“Diggory,” said Harry. “He must be entering the tournament.”
“ That idiot , Hogwarts champion?” said Ron as they pushed their way through
the chattering crowd toward the staircase.
“ He’ s not an idiot . You j ust don’ t like him because he beat Gryffindor at
Quidditch,” said Hermione. “ I’ ve heard he’ s a really good student – and he’ s a
prefect.”
She spoke as though this settled the matter.
“You only like him because he’s handsome,” said Ron scathingly.
“ Excuse me, I don’ t like people j ust because they’ re handsome!” said
Hermione indignantly.
Ron gave a loud false cough, which sounded oddly like “Lockhart!”
The appearance of the sign in the ent rance hall had a marked ef fect upon the
inhabitants of the cast le. During the following week, there seemed to be only one
topic of conversat ion, no mat ter where Harry went : the Triwizard Tournament .
Rumors were flying from student to student like highly contagious germs: who was
going to t ry for Hogwarts champion, what the tournament would involve, how the
students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang differed from themselves.
Harry not iced too that the cast le seemed to be undergoing an ext ra-thorough
cleaning. Several grimy port raits had been scrubbed, much to the displeasure of their
subj ects, who sat huddled in their f rames mut tering darkly and wincing as they felt
their raw pink faces. The suits of armor were suddenly gleaming and moving without
squeaking, and Argus Filch, the caretaker, was behaving so ferociously to any students
who forgot to wipe their shoes that he terrified a pair of first-year girls into hysterics.
Other members of the staff seemed oddly tense too.
“ Longbot tom, kindly do not reveal that you can’ t even perform a simple
Switching Spell in front of anyone from Durmst rang!” Professor McGonagall barked at
the end of one part icularly difficult lesson, during which Neville had accidentally
transplanted his own ears onto a cactus.
When they went down to breakfast on the morning of the thirt ieth of October,
they found that the Great Hall had been decorated overnight . Enormous silk banners
hung from the walls, each of them represent ing a Hogwarts House: red with a gold
lion for Gryffiindor, blue with a bronze eagle for Ravenclaw, yellow with a black
badger for Huf flepuff, and green with a silver serpent for Slytherin. Behind the
teachers’ table, the largest banner of all bore the Hogwarts coat of arms: lion, eagle,
badger, and snake united around a large letter H.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat down beside Fred and George at the Gryffindor
table. Once again, and most unusually, they were sit t ing apart from everyone else and
conversing in low voices. Ron led the way over to them.
“It’s a bummer, all right,” George was saying gloomily to Fred. “But if he won’t
talk to us in person, we’ ll have to send him the let ter after all. Or we’ ll stuff it into
his hand. He can’t avoid us forrever.
“Who’s avoiding you?” said Ron, sitting down next to them.
“Wish you would,” said Fred, looking irritated at the interruption.
“What’s a bummer?” Ron asked George.
“Having a nosy git like you for a brother,” said George.
“ You two got any ideas on the Triwizard Tournament yet?” Harry asked.
“Thought any more about trying to enter?”
“ I asked McGonagall how the champions are chosen but she wasn’ t telling,”
said George bit terly. “ She j ust told me to shut up and get on with t ransfiguring my
raccoon.”
“Wonder what the tasks are going to be?” said Ron thought fully. “ You know, I
bet we could do them, Harry. We’ve done dangerous stuff before. . . .“
“ Not in front of a panel of j udges, you haven’ t ,” said Fred. “McGonagall says
the champions get awarded points according to how well they’ve done the tasks.”
“Who are the judges?” Harry asked.
“Well, the Heads of the part icipat ing schools are always on the panel,” said
Hermione, and everyone looked around at her, rather surprised, “ because all three of
them were inj ured during the Tournament of 1792, when a cockat rice the champions
were supposed to be catching went on the rampage.”
She not iced them all looking at her and said, with her usual air of impat ience
that nobody else had read all the books she had, “ It ’ s all in Hogwart s, A History.
Though, of course, that book’ s not entirely reliable. A Revised Hist ory of Hogwart s
would be a more accurate title. Or A Highly Biased and Selective History of Hogwarts,
Which Glosses Over the Nastier Aspects of the School.”
“What are you on about?” said Ron, though Harry thought he knew what was
coming.
“House-elves!” said Hermione, her eyes flashing. “ Not once, in over a
thousand pages, does Hogwart s, A Hist ory ment ion that we are all colluding in the
oppression of a hundred slaves!”
Harry shook his head and applied himself to his scrambled eggs. His and Ron’ s
lack of enthusiasm had done nothing whatsoever to curb Hermione’ s determinat ion to
pursue justice for house-elves.
True, both of them had paid two Sickles for a S.P.E.W. badge, but they had
only done it to keep her quiet . Their Sickles had been wasted, however; if anything,
they seemed to have made Hermione more vociferous. She had been badgering Harry
and Ron ever since, f irst to wear the badges, then to persuade others to do the same,
and she had also taken to rat t ling around the Gryffindor common room every evening,
cornering people and shaking the collecting tin under their noses.
“ You do realize that your sheets are changed, your fires lit , your classrooms
cleaned, and your food cooked by a group of magical creatures who are unpaid and
enslaved?” she kept saying fiercely.
Some people, like Neville, had paid up j ust to stop Hermione from glowering at
them. A few seemed mildly interested in what she had to say, but were reluctant to
t ake a more active role in campaigning. Many regarded the whole thing as a joke.
Ron now rolled his eyes at the ceiling, which was flooding them all in autumn
sunlight , and Fred became ext remely interested in his bacon (both twins had refused
to buy a S.P.E.W. badge). George, however, leaned in toward Hermione.
“Listen, have you ever been down in the kitchens, Hermione?”
“ No, of course not ,” said Hermione curt ly, “ I hardly think students are
supposed to -“
“Well, we have,” said George, indicat ing Fred, “ loads of t imes, to nick food.
And we’ ve met them, and they’ re happy. They think they’ ve got the best j ob in the
world -“
“That’s because they’re uneducated and brainwashed!” Hermione began hotly,
but her next few words were drowned out by the sudden whooshing noise from
overhead, which announced the arrival of the post owls. Harry looked up at once, and
saw Hedwig soaring toward him. Hermione stopped talking abrupt ly; she and Ron
watched Hedwig anxiously as she flut tered down onto Harry’ s shoulder, folded her
wings, and held out her leg wearily.
Harry pulled off Sirius’ s reply and offered Hedwig his bacon rinds, which she
ate gratefully. Then, checking that Fred and George were safely immersed in further
discussions about the Triwizard Tournament , Harry read out Sirius’ s let ter in a whisper
to Ron and Hermione.
Nice try, Harry.
I’m back in t he count ry and wel l hidden. I want you t o keep me post ed
on everyt hing that ’ s going on at Hogwart s. Don’ t use Hedwig, keep
changing owls, and don’ t worry about me, j ust wat ch out for yoursel f
Don’t forget what I said about your scar.
Sirius
“Why d’you have to keep changing owls?” Ron asked in a low voice.
“ Hedwig’ ll at t ract too much at tent ion,” said Hermione at once. “ She stands
out. A snowy owl that keeps returning to wherever he’s hiding. . . I mean, they’re not
native birds, are they?”
Harry rolled up the let ter and slipped it inside his robes, wondering whether he
felt more or less worried than before. He supposed that Sirius managing to get back
without being caught was something. He couldn’ t deny either that the idea that Sirius
was much nearer was reassuring; at least he wouldn’ t have to wait so long for a
response every time he wrote.
“ Thanks, Hedwig,” he said, st roking her. She hooted sleepily, dipped her beak
briefly into his goblet of orange juice, then took off again, clearly desperate for a good
long sleep in the Owlery.
There was a pleasant feeling of ant icipat ion in the air that day. Nobody was
very attentive in lessons, being much more interested in the arrival that evening of the
people from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang; even Potions was more bearable than usual,
as it was half an hour shorter. When the bell rang early, Harry, Ron, and Hermione
hurried up to Gryffindor Tower, deposited their bags and books as they had been
instructed, pulled on their cloaks, and rushed back downstairs into the entrance hall.
The Heads of Houses were ordering their students into lines.
“Weasley, st raighten your hat ,” Professor McGonagall snapped at Ron. “Miss
Patil, take that ridiculous thing out of your hair.”
Parvat i scowled and removed a large ornamental but terf ly from the end of her
plait.
“ Follow me, please,” said Professor McGonagall. “ First years in front . . . no
pushing.. .
They filed down the steps and lined up in front of the cast le. It was a cold,
clear evening; dusk was falling and a pale, t ransparent -looking moon was already
shining over the Forbidden Forest . Harry, standing between Ron and Hermione in the
fourth row f rom the front , saw Dennis Creevey posit ively shivering with anticipation
among the other first years.
“ Nearly six,” said Ron, checking his watch and then staring down the drive that
led to the front gates. “How d’you reckon they’re coming? The train?”
“I doubt it,” said Hermione.
“How, then? Broomsticks?” Harry suggested, looking up at the starry sky.
“I don’t think so. . . not from that far away.. .
“ A Portkey?” Ron suggested. “Or they could Apparate – maybe you’ re allowed
to do it under seventeen wherever they come from?”
“ You can’ t Apparate inside the Hogwarts grounds, how often do I have to tell
you?” said Hermione impatiently.
They scanned the darkening grounds excitedly, but nothing was moving;
everything was st ill, silent , and quite as usual. Harry was start ing to feel cold. He
wished they’ d hurry up. .. . Maybe the foreign students were preparing a dramat ic
entrance. . . . He remembered what Mr. Weasley had said back at the campsite before
the Quidditch World Cup: “ always the same – we can’ t resist showing of f when we get
together. ..”
And then Dumbledore called out from the back row where he stood with the
other teachers – “ Aha! Unless I am very much mistaken, the delegat ion from
Beauxbatons approaches!”
“Where?” said many students eagerly, all looking in different directions.
“There!” yelled a sixth year, pointing over the forest.
Something large, much larger than a broomst ick – or, indeed, a hundred
broomsticks – was hurt ling across the deep blue sky toward the cast le, growing larger
all the time.
“It’s a dragon!” shrieked one of the first years, losing her head completely.
“Don’t be stupid. . . it’s a flying house!” said Dennis Creevey.
Dennis’ s guess was closer. . . . As the gigant ic black shape skimmed over the
t reetops of the Forbidden Forest and the lights shining from the cast le windows hit it ,
they saw a gigant ic, powderblue, horse-drawn carriage, the size of a large house,
soaring toward them, pulled through the air by a dozen winged horses, all palominos,
and each the size of an elephant.
The front three rows of students drew backward as the carriage hurt led ever
lower, coming in to land at a t remendous speed – then, with an almighty crash that
made Neville j ump backward onto a Slytherin fifth year’ s foot , the horses’ hooves,
larger than dinner plates, hit the ground. A second later, the carriage landed too,
bouncing upon its vast wheels, while the golden horses tossed their enormous heads
and rolled large, fiery red eyes.
Harry j ust had t ime to see that the door of the carriage bore a coat of arms
(two crossed, golden wands, each emitting three stars) before it opened.
A boy in pale blue robes j umped down from the carriage, bent forward,
fumbled for a moment with something on the carriage f loor, and unfolded a set of
golden steps. He sprang back respect fully. Then Harry saw a shining, high-heeled
black shoe emerging from the inside of the carriage – a shoe the size of a child’ s sled –
followed, almost immediately, by the largest woman he had ever seen in his life. The
size of the carriage, and of the horses, was immediately explained. A few people
gasped.
Harry had only ever seen one person as large as this woman in his life, and that
was Hagrid; he doubted whether there was an inch difference in their heights. Yet
somehow – maybe simply because he was used to Hagrid – this woman (now at the foot
of the steps, and looking around at the wait ing, wide-eyed crowd) seemed even more
unnaturally large. As she stepped into the light f looding from the ent rance hall, she
was revealed to have a handsome, olive-skinned face; large, black, liquid-looking eyes;
and a rather beaky nose. Her hair was drawn back in a shining knob at the base of her
neck. She was dressed from head to foot in black sat in, and many magnificent opals
gleamed at her throat and on her thick fingers.
Dumbledore started to clap; the students, following his lead, broke into
applause too, many of them standing on tiptoe, the better to look at this woman.
Her face relaxed into a gracious smile and she walked forward toward
Dumbledore, extending a glittering hand. Dumbledore, though tall himself, had barely
to bend to kiss it.
“My dear Madame Maxime,” he said. “Welcome to Hogwarts.”
“Dumbly-dort,” said Madame Maxime in a deep voice. “I ‘ope I find you well?”
“In excellent form, I thank you,” said Dumbledore.
“My pupils,” said Madame Maxime, waving one of her enormous hands
carelessly behind her.
Harry, whose at tent ion had been focused completely upon Madame Maxime,
now not iced that about a dozen boys and girls, all, by the look of them, in their late
teens, had emerged from the carriage and were now standing behind Madame Maxime.
They were shivering, which was unsurprising, given that their robes seemed to be
made of fine silk, and none of them were wearing cloaks. A few had wrapped scarves
and shawls around their heads. From what Harry could see of them (they were
standing in Madame Maxime’ s enormous shadow), they were staring up at Hogwarts
with apprehensive looks on their faces.
“As Karkaroff arrived yet?” Madame Maxime asked.
“ He should be here any moment ,” said Dumbledore. “Would you like to wait
here and greet him or would you prefer to step inside and warm up a trifle?”
“Warm up, I think,” said Madame Maxime. “But ze ‘orses -“
“ Our Care of Magical Creatures teacher will be delighted to take care of
them,” said Dumbledore, “ the moment he has returned from dealing with a slight
situation that has arisen with some of his other – er – charges.”
“Skrewts,” Ron muttered to Harry, grinning.
“My steeds require – er – forceful ‘ andling,” said Madame Maxime, looking as
though she doubted whether any Care of Magical Creatures teacher at Hogwarts could
be up to the job. “Zey are very strong. . . .“
“I assure you that Hagrid will be well up to the job,” said Dumbledore, smiling.
“ Very well,” said Madame Maxime, bowing slight ly. “Will you please inform zis
‘Agrid zat ze ‘orses drink only single-malt whiskey?”
“It will be attended to,” said Dumbledore, also bowing.
“ Come,” said Madame Maxime imperiously to her students, and the Hogwarts
crowd parted to allow her and her students to pass up the stone steps.
“ How big d’ you reckon Durmst rang’ s horses are going to be?” Seamus Finnigan
said, leaning around Lavender and Parvati to address Harry and Ron.
“Well, if they’ re any bigger than this lot , even Hagrid won’ t be able to handle
them,” said Harry. “ That ’ s if he hasn’ t been at tacked by his skrewts. Wonder what ’ s
up with them?”
“Maybe they’ve escaped,” said Ron hopefully.
“Oh don’ t say that ,” said Hermione with a shudder. “ Imagine that lot loose on
the grounds. . . .“
They stood, shivering slight ly now, wait ing for the Durmst rang party to
arrive. Most people were gazing hopefully up at the sky.
For a few minutes, the silence was broken only by Madame Maxime’ s huge
horses snort ing and stamping. But then – “ Can you hear something?” said Ron
suddenly.
Harry listened; a loud and oddly eerie noise was drift ing toward them from
out of the darkness: a muffled rumbling and sucking sound, as though an immense
vacuum cleaner were moving along a riverbed.
“The lake!” yelled Lee Jordan, pointing down at it. “Look at the lake!”
From their position at the top of the lawns overlooking the grounds, they had
a clear view of the smooth black surface of the water – except that the surface was
suddenly not smooth at all. Some disturbance was taking place deep in the center;
great bubbles were forming on the surface, waves were now washing over the
muddy banks – and then, out in the very middle of the lake, a whirlpool appeared,
as if a giant plug had just been pulled out of the lake’s floor. .
What seemed to be a long, black pole began to rise slowly out of the heart of
the whirlpool. . . and then Harry saw the rigging….
“It’s a mast!” he said to Ron and Hermione.
Slowly, magnificent ly, the ship rose out of the water, gleaming in the
moonlight . It had a st rangely skeletal look about it , as though it were a resurrected
wreck, and the dim, misty lights shimmering at its portholes looked like ghost ly
eyes. Finally, with a great sloshing noise, the ship emerged entirely, bobbing on the
turbulent water, and began to glide toward the bank. A few moments later, they
heard the splash of an anchor being thrown down in the shallows, and the thud of a
plank being lowered onto the bank.
People were disembarking; they could see their silhouet tes passing the lights in
the ship’ s portholes. All of them, Harry not iced, seemed to be built along the lines of
Crabbe and Goyle… but then, as they drew nearer, walking up the lawns into the light
st reaming from the ent rance hall, he saw that their bulk was really due to the fact
that they were wearing cloaks of some kind of shaggy, mat ted fur. But the man who
was leading them up to the cast le was wearing furs of a different sort : sleek and
silver, like his hair.
“Dumbledore!” he called heartily as he walked up the slope. “How are you, my
dear fellow, how are you?”
“ Blooming, thank you, Professor Karkaroff ,” Dumbledore replied. Karkaroff
had a fruity, unctuous voice; when he stepped into the light pouring from the f ront
doors of the cast le they saw that he was tall and thin like Dumbledore, but his white
hair was short, and his goatee (finishing in a small curl) did not entirely hide his rather
weak chin. When he reached Dumbledore, he shook hands with both of his own.
“ Dear old Hogwarts,” he said, looking up at the cast le and smiling; his teeth
were rather yellow, and Harry not iced that his smile did not extend to his eyes, which
remained cold and shrewd. “ How good it is to be here, how good.. . . Viktor, come
along, into the warmth. . . you don’ t mind, Dumbledore? Viktor has a slight head
cold…”
Karkarof f beckoned forward one of his students. As the boy passed, Harry
caught a glimpse of a prominent curved nose and thick black eyebrows. He didn’ t
need the punch on the arm Ron gave him, or the hiss in his ear, to recognize that
profile.
“Harry – it’s Krum!”
CHAPTER SIXTEEN – THE GOBLET OF FIRE
I don’ t believe it !” Ron said, in a stunned voice, as the Hogwarts students filed
back up the steps behind the party from Durmstrang. “Krum, Harry! Viktor Krum!”
“For heaven’s sake, Ron, he’s only a Quidditch player,” said Hermione.
“Only a Quiddit ch player?” Ron said, looking at her as though he couldn’ t
believe his ears. “ Hermione – he’ s one of the best Seekers in the world! I had no idea
he was still at school!”
As they recrossed the ent rance hall with the rest of the Hogwarts students
heading for the Great Hall, Harry saw Lee Jordan j umping up and down on the soles of
his feet to get a bet ter look at the back of Krum’ s head. Several sixth-year girls were
frantically searching their pockets as they walked – “Oh I don’t believe it, I haven’t got
a single quill on me -“
“D’you think he’d sign my hat in lipstick?”
“Really,” Hermione said loft ily as they passed the girls, now squabbling over
the lipstick.
“I’m get t ing his autograph if I can,” said Ron. “ You haven’ t got a quill, have
you, Harry?”
“Nope, they’re upstairs in my bag,” said Harry.
They walked over to the Gryffindor table and sat down. Ron took care to sit on
the side facing the doorway, because Krum and his fellow Durmst rang students were
st ill gathered around it , apparent ly unsure about where they should sit . The students
from Beauxbatons had chosen seats at the Ravenclaw table. They were looking around
the Great Hall with glum expressions on their faces. Three of them were st ill
clutching scarves and shawls around their heads.
“ It ’ s not that cold,” said Hermione defensively. “Why didn’ t they bring
cloaks?”
“Over here! Come and sit over here!” Ron hissed. “Over here! Hermione,
budge up, make a space -“
“What?”
“Too late,” said Ron bitterly.
Viktor Krum and his fellow Durmst rang students had set t led themselves at the
Slytherin table. Harry could see Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle looking very smug about
this. As he watched, Malfoy bent forward to speak to Krum.
“ Yeah, that ’ s right , smarm up to him, Malfoy,” said Ron scathingly. “ I bet
Krum can see right through him, though. . . bet he gets people fawning over him all
the t ime.. . . Where d’ you reckon they’ re going to sleep? We could offer him a space
in our dormitory, Harry. . . I wouldn’ t mind giving him my bed, I could kip on a camp
bed.”
Hermione snorted.
“ They look a lot happier than the Beauxbatons lot ,” said Harry. The
Durmst rang students were pulling off their heavy furs and looking up at the starry
black ceiling with expressions of interest; a couple of them were picking up the golden
plates and goblets and examining them, apparently impressed.
Up at the staf f table, Filch, the caretaker, was adding chairs. He was wearing
his moldy old tailcoat in honor of the occasion. Harry was surprised to see that he
added four chairs, two on either side of Dumbledore’s.
“ But there are only two ext ra people,” Harry said. “Why’ s Filch put t ing out
four chairs, who else is coming?”
“Eh?” said Ron vaguely. He was still staring avidly at Krum.
When all the students had entered the Hall and set t led down at their House
tables, the staff entered, f iling up to the top table and taking their seats. Last in line
were Professor Dumbledore, Professor Karkarof f, and Madame Maxime. When their
headmist ress appeared, the pupils from Beauxbatons leapt to their feet . A few of the
Hogwarts students laughed. The Beauxbatons party appeared quite unembarrassed,
however, and did not resume their seats unt il Madame Maxime had sat down on
Dumbledore’ s left -hand side. Dumbledore remained standing, and a silence fell over
the Great Hall.
“Good evening, ladies and gent lemen, ghosts and – most part icularly – guests,”
said Dumbledore, beaming around at the foreign students. “ I have great pleasure in
welcoming you all to Hogwarts. I hope and t rust that your stay here will be both
comfortable and enjoyable.”
One of the Beauxbatons girls st ill clutching a muff ler around her head gave
what was unmistakably a derisive laugh.
“No one’s making you stay!” Hermione whispered, bristling at her.
“ The tournament will be officially opened at the end of the feast ,” said
Dumbledore. “I now invite you all to eat, drink, and make yourselves at home!”
He sat down, and Harry saw Karkaroff lean forward at once and engage him in
conversation.
The plates in front of them filled with food as usual. The house-elves in the
kitchen seemed to have pulled out all the stops; there was a greater variety of dishes
in front of them than Harry had ever seen, including several that were def initely
foreign.
“What’s that?” said Ron, point ing at a large dish of some sort of shellfish stew
that stood beside a large steak-and-kidney pudding.
“Bouillabaisse,” said Hermione.
“Bless you,” said Ron.
“It’s French,” said Hermione, “ I had it on holiday summer before last . It ’ s very
nice.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” said Ron, helping himself to black pudding.
The Great Hall seemed somehow much more crowded than usual, even though
there were barely twenty addit ional students there; perhaps it was because their
different ly colored uniforms stood out so clearly against the black of the Hogwarts’
robes. Now that they had removed their furs, the Durmst rang students were revealed
to be wearing robes of a deep bloodred.
Hagrid sidled into the Hall through a door behind the staff table twenty
minutes af ter the start of the feast . He slid into his seat at the end and waved at
Harry, Ron, and Hermione with a very heavily bandaged hand.
“Skrewts doing all right, Hagrid?” Harry called.
“Thrivin’,” Hagrid called back happily.
“ Yeah, I’ ll j ust bet they are,” said Ron quiet ly. “ Looks like they’ ve finally
found a food they like, doesn’t it? Hagrid’s fingers.”
At that moment, a voice said, “Excuse me, are you wanting ze bouillabaisse?”
It was the girl f rom Beauxbatons who had laughed during Dumbledore’s speech.
She had finally removed her muffler. A long sheet of silvery-blonde hair fell almost to
her waist. She had large, deep blue eyes, and very white, even teeth.
Ron went purple. He stared up at her, opened his mouth to reply, but nothing
came out except a faint gurgling noise.
“Yeah, have it,” said Harry, pushing the dish toward the girl.
“You ‘ave finished wiz it?”
“Yeah,” Ron said breathlessly. “Yeah, it was excellent.”
The girl picked up the dish and carried it carefully off to the Ravenclaw table.
Ron was still goggling at the girl as though he had never seen one before. Harry started
to laugh. The sound seemed to jog Ron back to his senses.
“She’s a veela!” he said hoarsely to Harry.
“Of course she isn’ t !” said Hermione tart ly. “ I don’ t see anyone else gaping at
her like an idiot!”
But she wasn’ t ent irely right about that . As the girl crossed the Hall, many
boys’ heads turned, and some of them seemed to have become temporarily
speechless, just like Ron.
“I’m telling you, that ’ s not a normal girl!” said Ron, leaning sideways so he
could keep a clear view of her. “They don’t make them like that at Hogwarts!”
“ They make them okay at Hogwarts,” said Harry without thinking. Cho
happened to be sitting only a few places away from the girl with the silvery hair.
“When you’ ve both put your eyes back in,” said Hermione briskly, “ you’ ll be
able to see who’s just arrived.”
She was point ing up at the staff table. The two remaining empty seats had j ust
been filled. Ludo Bagman was now sit t ing on Professor Karkaroff’ s other side, while
Mr. Crouch, Percy’s boss, was next to Madame Maxime.
“What are they doing here?” said Harry in surprise.
“ They organized the Triwizard Tournament , didn’ t they?” said Hermione. “ I
suppose they wanted to be here to see it start.”
When the second course arrived they not iced a number of unfamiliar desserts
too. Ron examined an odd sort of pale blancmange closely, then moved it carefully a
few inches to his right , so that it would be clearly visible from the Ravenclaw table.
The girl who looked like a veela appeared to have eaten enough, however, and did not
come over to get it.
Once the golden plates had been wiped clean, Dumbledore stood up again. A
pleasant sort of tension seemed to f ill the Hall now. Harry felt a slight thrill of
excitement , wondering what was coming. Several seats down from them, Fred and
George were leaning forward, staring at Dumbledore with great concentration.
“ The moment has come,” said Dumbledore, smiling around at the sea of
upturned faces. “ The Triwizard Tournament is about to start . I would like to say a few
words of explanation before we bring in the casket –“
“The what?” Harry muttered.
Ron shrugged.
“ – j ust to clarify the procedure that we will be following this year. But f irst ,
let me int roduce, for those who do not know them, Mr. Bartemius Crouch, Head of the
Department of Internat ional Magical Cooperat ion” – there was a smat tering of polite
applause – “ and Mr. Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games and
Sports.”
There was a much louder round of applause for Bagman than for Crouch,
perhaps because of his fame as a Beater, or simply because he looked so much more
likable. He acknowledged it with a j ovial wave of his hand. Bartemius Crouch did not
smile or wave when his name was announced. Remembering him in his neat suit at the
Quidditch World Cup, Harry thought he looked st range in wizard’ s robes. His
toothbrush mustache and severe part ing looked very odd next to Dumbledore’ s long
white hair and beard.
“Mr. Bagman and Mr. Crouch have worked t irelessly over the last few months
on the arrangements for the Triwizard Tournament ,” Dumbledore cont inued, “ and
they will be joining myself, Professor Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime on the panel that
will judge the champions’ efforts.”
At the ment ion of the word “ champions,” the at tent iveness of the listening
students seemed to sharpen. Perhaps Dumbledore had not iced their sudden st illness,
for he smiled as he said, “The casket, then, if you please, Mr. Filch.”
Filch, who had been lurking unnot iced in a far corner of the Hall, now
approached Dumbledore carrying a great wooden chest encrusted with j ewels. It
looked ext remely old. A murmur of excited interest rose from the watching students;
Dennis Creevey actually stood on his chair to see it properly, but , being so t iny, his
head hardly rose above anyone else’s.
“ The inst ruct ions for the tasks the champions will face this year have already
been examined by Mr. Crouch and Mr. Bagman,” said Dumbledore as Filch placed the
chest carefully on the table before him, “ and they have made the necessary
arrangements for each challenge. There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the
school year, and they will test the champions in many different ways.. their magical
prowess – their daring – their powers of deduction – and, of course, their ability to
cope with danger.”
At this last word, the Hall was filled with a silence so absolute that nobody
seemed to be breathing.
“As you know, three champions compete in the tournament,” Dumbledore went
on calmly, “ one from each of the part icipat ing schools. They will be marked on how
well they perform each of the Tournament tasks and the champion with the highest
total after task three will win the Triwizard Cup. The champions will be chosen by an
impartial selector: the Goblet of Fire.”
Dumbledore now took out his wand and tapped three t imes upon the top of the
casket . The lid creaked slowly open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a
large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been ent irely unremarkable had it not
been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames.
Dumbledore closed the casket and placed the goblet carefully on top of it ,
where it would be clearly visible to everyone in the Hall.
“ Anybody wishing to submit themselves as champion must write their name and
school clearly upon a slip of parchment and drop it into the goblet ,” said Dumbledore.
“ Aspiring champions have twenty-four hours in which to put their names forward.
Tomorrow night , Halloween, the goblet will return the names of the three it has
j udged most worthy to represent their schools. The goblet will be placed in the
ent rance hall tonight , where it will be freely accessible to all those wishing to
compete.
“ To ensure that no underage student yields to temptat ion,” said Dumbledore,
“I will be drawing an Age Line around the Goblet of Fire once it has been placed in the
entrance hall. Nobody under the age of seventeen will be able to cross this line.
“ Finally, I wish to impress upon any of you wishing to compete that this
tournament is not to be entered into light ly. Once a champion has been selected by
the Goblet of Fire, he or she is obliged to see the tournament through to the end. The
placing of your name in the goblet const itutes a binding, magical cont ract . There can
be no change of heart once you have become a champion. Please be very sure,
therefore, that you are wholeheartedly prepared to play before you drop your name
into the goblet. Now, I think it is time for bed. Good night to you all.”
“ An Age Line!” Fred Weasley said, his eyes glint ing, as they all made their way
across the Hall to the doors into the ent rance hall. “Well, that should be fooled by an
Aging Pot ion, shouldn’ t it? And once your name’ s in that goblet , you’ re laughing – it
can’t tell whether you’re seventeen or not!”
“But I don’t think anyone under seventeen will stand a chance,” said Hermione,
“we just haven’t learned enough. . .“
“ Speak for yourself,” said George short ly. “ You’ ll t ry and get in, won’ t you,
Harry?”
Harry thought briefly of Dumbledore’ s insistence that nobody under seventeen
should submit their name, but then the wonderful picture of himself winning the
Triwizard Tournament filled his mind again. .. . He wondered how angry Dumbledore
would be if someone younger than seventeen did find a way to get over the Age Line.
“Where is he?” said Ron, who wasn’ t listening to a word of this conversat ion,
but looking through the crowd to see what had become of Krum. “ Dumbledore didn’ t
say where the Durmstrang people are sleeping, did he?”
But this query was answered almost instant ly; they were level with the
Slytherin table now, and Karkaroff had just bustled up to his students.
“ Back to the ship, then,” he was saying. “ Viktor, how are you feeling? Did you
eat enough? Should I send for some mulled wine from the kitchens?”
Harry saw Krum shake his head as he pulled his furs back on. “ Professor, Ivood
like some vine,” said one of the other Durmstrang boys hopefully.
“ I wasn’ t offering it to you, Poliakoff,” snapped Karkaroff, his warmly paternal
air vanishing in an instant . “ I not ice you have dribbled food all down the f ront of your
robes again, disgusting boy -“
Karkarof f turned and led his students toward the doors, reaching them at
exactly the same moment as Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Harry stopped to let him walk
through first.
“ Thank you,” said Karkaroff carelessly, glancing at him. And then Karkaroff
froze. He turned his head back to Harry and stared at him as though he couldn’ t
believe his eyes. Behind their headmaster, the students from Durmst rang came to a
halt too. Karkarof f’ s eyes moved slowly up Harry’ s face and fixed upon his scar. The
Durmst rang students were staring curiously at Harry too. Out of the corner of his eye,
Harry saw comprehension dawn on a few of their faces. The boy with food all down
his front nudged the girl next to him and pointed openly at Harry’s forehead.
“Yeah, that’s Harry Potter,” said a growling voice from behind them.
Professor Karkaroff spun around. Mad-Eye Moody was standing there, leaning
heavily on his staff , his magical eye glaring unblinkingly at the Durmst rang
headmaster.
The color drained from Karkarof f’ s face as Harry watched. A terrible look of
mingled fury and fear came over him.
“You!” he said, staring at Moody as though unsure he was really seeing him.
“Me,” said Moody grimly. “ And unless you’ ve got anything to say to Pot ter,
Karkaroff, you might want to move. You’re blocking the doorway.”
It was t rue; half the students in the Hall were now wait ing behind them,
looking over one another’s shoulders to see what was causing the holdup.
Without another word, Professor Karkaroff swept his students away with him.
Moody watched him unt il he was out of sight , his magical eye fixed upon his back, a
look of intense dislike upon his mutilated face.
As the next day was Saturday, most students would normally have breakfasted
late. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, however, were not alone in rising much earlier than
they usually did on weekends. When they went down into the ent rance hall, they saw
about twenty people milling around it , some of them eat ing toast , all examining the
Goblet of Fire. It had been placed in the center of the hall on the stool that normally
bore the Sort ing Hat . A thin golden line had been t raced on the floor, forming a circle
ten feet around it in every direction.
“Anyone put their name in yet?” Ron asked a third-year girl eagerly.
“ All the Durmst rang lot ,” she replied. “ But I haven’ t seen anyone from
Hogwarts yet.”
“ Bet some of them put it in last night after we’ d all gone to bed,” said Harry.
“ I would’ ve if it had been me. . . wouldn’ t have wanted everyone watching. What if
the goblet just gobbed you right back out again?”
Someone laughed behind Harry. Turning, he saw Fred, George, and Lee Jordan
hurrying down the staircase, all three of them looking extremely excited.
“ Done it ,” Fred said in a t riumphant whisper to Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
“Just taken it.”
“What?” said Ron.
“The Aging Potion, dung brains,” said Fred.
“One drop each,” said George, rubbing his hands together with glee. “We only
need to be a few months older.”
“We’ re going to split the thousand Galleons between the three of us if one of
us wins,” said Lee, grinning broadly.
“I’m not sure this is going to work, you know,” said Hermione warningly. “ I’m
sure Dumbledore will have thought of this.”
Fred, George, and Lee ignored her.
“ Ready?” Fred said to the other two, quivering with excitement . “ C’mon, then
– I’ll go first -“
Harry watched, fascinated, as Fred pulled a slip of parchment out of his pocket
bearing the words Fred Weasley – Hogwart s. Fred walked right up to the edge of the
line and stood there, rocking on his toes like a diver preparing for a fifty-foot drop.
Then, with the eyes of every person in the ent rance hall upon him, he took a great
breath and stepped over the line.
For a split second Harry thought it had worked – George certainly thought so,
for he let out a yell of t riumph and leapt af ter Fred – but next moment , there was a
loud sizzling sound, and both twins were hurled out of the golden circle as though they
had been thrown by an invisible shot -put ter. They landed painfully, ten feet away on
the cold stone floor, and to add insult to inj ury, there was a loud popping noise, and
both of them sprouted identical long white beards.
The ent rance hall rang with laughter. Even Fred and George j oined in, once
they had gotten to their feet and taken a good look at each other’s beards.
“ I did warn you,” said a deep, amused voice, and everyone turned to see
Professor Dumbledore coming out of the Great Hall. He surveyed Fred and George, his
eyes twinkling. “I suggest you both go up to Madam Pomfrey. She is already tending to
Miss Fawcett, of Ravenclaw, and Mr. Summers, of Hufflepuff, both of whom decided to
age themselves up a lit t le too. Though I must say, neither of their beards is anything
like as fine as yours.”
Fred and George set of f for the hospital wing, accompanied by Lee, who was
howling with laughter, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione, also chort ling, went in to
breakfast.
The decorat ions in the Great Hall had changed this morning. As it was
Halloween, a cloud of live bats was flut tering around the enchanted ceiling, while
hundreds of carved pumpkins leered from every corner. Harry led the way over to
Dean and Seamus, who were discussing those Hogwarts students of seventeen or over
who might be entering.
“ There’ s a rumor going around that Warrington got up early and put his name
in,” Dean told Harry. “That big bloke from Slytherin who looks like a sloth.”
Harry, who had played Quidditch against Warrington, shook his head in disgust.
“We can’t have a Slytherin champion!”
“ And all the Hufflepuffs are talking about Diggory,” said Seamus
contemptuously. “ But I wouldn’ t have thought he’ d have wanted to risk his good
looks.”
“Listen!” said Hermione suddenly.
People were cheering out in the ent rance hall. They all swiveled around in
their seats and saw Angelina Johnson coming into the Hall, grinning in an embarrassed
sort of way. A tall black girl who played Chaser on the Gryff indor Quidditch team,
Angelina came over to them, sat down, and said, “Well, I’ ve done it ! Just put my
name in!”
“You’re kidding!” said Ron, looking impressed.
“Are you seventeen, then?” asked Harry.
“Course she is, can’t see a beard, can you?” said Ron.
“I had my birthday last week,” said Angelina.
“Well, I’m glad someone from Gryffindor’ s entering,” said Hermione. “ I really
hope you get it, Angelina!”
“Thanks, Hermione,” said Angelina, smiling at her.
Yeah, bet ter you than Pret ty-Boy Diggory, said Seamus, causing several
Hufflepuffs passing their table to scowl heavily at him.
“What ’ re we going to do today, then?” Ron asked Harry and Hermione when
they had finished breakfast and were leaving the Great Hall.
“We haven’t been down to visit Hagrid yet,” said Harry.
“Okay,” said Ron, “ j ust as long as he doesn’ t ask us to donate a few fingers to
the skrewts.”
A look of great excitement suddenly dawned on Hermione’s face.
“ I’ ve j ust realized – I haven’ t asked Hagrid to j oin S.P.E.W. yet !” she said
brightly. “Wait for me, will you, while I nip upstairs and get the badges?”
“What is it with her?” said Ron, exasperated, as Hermione ran away up the
marble staircase.
“Hey, Ron,” said Harry suddenly. “It’s your friend. . .“
The students from Beauxbatons were coming through the front doors from the
grounds, among them, the veela-girl. Those gathered around the Goblet of Fire stood
back to let them pass, watching eagerly.
Madame Maxime entered the hall behind her students and organized them into
a line. One by one, the Beauxbatons students stepped across the Age Line and dropped
their slips of parchment into the blue-white flames. As each name entered the fire, it
turned briefly red and emitted sparks.
“What d’ you reckon’ ll happen to the ones who aren’ t chosen?” Ron mut tered
to Harry as the veela-girl dropped her parchment into the Goblet of Fire. “ Reckon
they’ll go back to school, or hang around to watch the tournament?”
“Dunno,” said Harry. “Hang around, I suppose… . Madame Maxime’s staying to
judge, isn’t she?”
When all the Beauxbatons students had submit ted their names, Madame
Maxime led them back out of the hall and out onto the grounds again.
“Where are they sleeping, then?” said Ron, moving toward the front doors and
staring after them.
A loud rat t ling noise behind them announced Hermione’ s reappearance with
the box of S. P. E.W. badges.
“Oh good, hurry up,” said Ron, and he j umped down the stone steps, keeping
his eyes on the back of the veela-girl, who was now halfway across the lawn with
Madame Maxime.
As they neared Hagrid’s cabin on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, the mystery
of the Beauxbatons’ sleeping quarters was solved. The gigant ic powder-blue carriage
in which they had arrived had been parked two hundred yards from Hagrid’ s f ront
door, and the students were climbing back inside it . The elephant ine flying horses
that had pulled the carriage were now grazing in a makeshift paddock alongside it.
Harry knocked on Hagrid’s door, and Fang’s booming barks answered instantly.
“ Bout t ime!” said Hagrid, when he’ d flung open the door. “ Thought you lot ’ d
forgotten where I live!”
“We’ ve been really busy, Hag -“ Hermione started to say, but then she stopped
dead, looking up at Hagrid, apparently lost for words.
Hagrid was wearing his best (and very horrible) hairy brown suit, plus a checked
yellow-and-orange t ie. This wasn’ t the worst of it , though; he had evident ly t ried to
tame his hair, using large quant it ies of what appeared to be axle grease. It was now
slicked down into two bunches – perhaps he had t ried a ponytail like Bill’ s, but found
he had too much hair. The look didn’ t really suit Hagrid at all. For a moment ,
Hermione goggled at him, then, obviously deciding not to comment , she said, “ Erm –
where are the skrewts.”
“Out by the pumpkin patch,” said Hagrid happily. “ They’ re get -t in’ massive,
mus’ be nearly three foot long now. On’ y t rouble is, they’ ve started killin’ each
other.”
“Oh no, really?” said Hermione, shooting a repressive look at Ron, who, staring
at Hagrid’s odd hairstyle, had just opened his mouth to say something about it.
“ Yeah,” said Hagrid sadly. “ S’ okay, though, I’ ve got ‘ em in separate boxes
now. Still got abou’ twenty.”
“Well, that’s lucky,” said Ron. Hagrid missed the sarcasm.
Hagrid’ s cabin comprised a single room, in one corner of which was a gigant ic
bed covered in a patchwork quilt. A similarly enormous wooden table and chairs stood
in front of the fire beneath the quant ity of cured hams and dead birds hanging from
the ceiling. They sat down at the table while Hagrid started to make tea, and were
soon immersed in yet more discussion of the Triwizard Tournament . Hagrid seemed
quite as excited about it as they were.
“ You wait ,” he said, grinning. “ You j us’ wait . Yer going ter see some stuff
yeh’ve never seen before. Firs’ task. . . ah, but I’m not supposed ter say.”
“Go on, Hagrid!” Harry, Ron, and Hermione urged him, but he j ust shook his
head, grinning.
“ I don’ want ter spoil it fer yeh,” said Hagrid. “ But it ’ s gonna be spectacular,
I’ll tell yeh that. Them champions’re going ter have their work cut out. Never thought
I’d live ter see the Triwizard Tournament played again!”
They ended up having lunch with Hagrid, though they didn’ t eat much – Hagrid
had made what he said was a beef casserole, but after Hermione unearthed a large
talon in hers, she, Harry, and Ron rather lost their appet ites. However, they enj oyed
themselves t rying to make Hagrid tell them what the tasks in the tournament were
going to be, speculat ing which of the ent rants were likely to be selected as
champions, and wondering whether Fred and George were beardless yet.
A light rain had started to fall by midafternoon; it was very cozy sit t ing by the
fire, listening to the gent le pat ter of the drops on the window, watching Hagrid
darning his socks and arguing with Hermione about house-elves – for he flat ly refused
to join S.P.E.W. when she showed him her badges.
“ It ’ d be doin’ ‘ em an unkindness, Hermione,” he said gravely, threading a
massive bone needle with thick yellow yarn. “ It ’ s in their nature ter look after
humans, that ’ s what they like, see?Yeh’ d be makin’ ‘ em unhappy ter take away their
work, an’ insutin’ ‘em if yeh tried ter pay ‘em.”
“ But Harry set Dobby f ree, and he was over the moon about it !” said
Hermione. “And we heard he’s asking for wages now!”
“ Yeah, well, yeh get weirdos in every breed. I’m not sayin’ there isn’ t the odd
elf who’ d take freedom, but yeh’ ll never persuade most of ‘ em ter do it – no, nothin’
doin’, Hermione.”
Hermione looked very cross indeed and stuffed her box of badges back into her
cloak pocket.
By half past five it was growing dark, and Ron, Harry, and Hermione decided it
was t ime to get back up to the cast le for the Halloween feast – and, more important ,
the announcement of the school champions.
“ I’ ll come with yeh,” said Hagrid, put t ing away his darning. “ Jus’ give us a
sec.”
Hagrid got up, went across to the chest of drawers beside his bed, and began
searching for something inside it . They didn’ t pay too much at tent ion unt il a t ruly
horrible smell reached their nostrils. Coughing, Ron said, “Hagrid, what’s that?”
“ Eh?” said Hagrid, turning around with a large bot t le in his hand. “ Don’ yeh
like it?”
“Is that aftershave?” said Hermione in a slightly choked voice.
“Er – eau de cologne,” Hagrid muttered. He was blushing.
“Maybe it’s a bit much,” he said gruffly. “I’ll go take it off, hang on…”
He stumped out of the cabin, and they saw him washing himself vigorously in
the water barrel outside the window.
“Eau de cologne?” said Hermione in amazement. “Hagrid?”
“And what’s with the hair and the suit?” said Harry in an undertone.
“ Look!” said Ron suddenly, point ing out of the window. Hagrid had j ust
st raightened up and turned ‘ round. If he had been blushing before, it was nothing to
what he was doing now. Get t ing to their feet very caut iously, so that Hagrid wouldn’ t
spot them, Harry, Ron, and Hermione peered through the window and saw that
Madame Maxime and the Beauxbatons students had j ust emerged from their carriage,
clearly about to set of f for the feast too. They couldn’ t hear what Hagrid was saying,
but he was talking to Madame Maxime with a rapt , misty-eyed expression Harry had
only ever seen him wear once before – when he had been looking at the baby dragon,
Norbert.
“ He’ s going up to the cast le with her!” said Hermione indignant ly. “ I thought
he was waiting for us!”
Without so much as a backward glance at his cabin, Hagrid was t rudging off up
the grounds with Madame Maxime, the Beaux-batons students following in their wake,
jogging to keep up with their enormous strides.
“ He fancies her!” said Ron incredulously. “Well, if they end up having
children, they’ll be setting a world record – bet any baby of theirs would weigh about a
ton.”
They let themselves out of the cabin and shut the door behind them. It was
surprisingly dark outside. Drawing their cloaks more closely around themselves, they
set off up the sloping lawns.
“Ooh it’s them, look!” Hermione whispered.
The Durmst rang party was walking up toward the cast le from the lake. Viktor
Krum was walking side by side with Karkaroff, and the other Durmstrang students were
straggling along behind them. Ron watched Krum excitedly, but Krum did not look
around as he reached the front doors a lit t le ahead of Hermione, Ron, and Harry and
proceeded through them.
When they entered the candlelit Great Hall it was almost full. The Goblet of
Fire had been moved; it was now standing in front of Dumbledore’ s empty chair at the
teachers’ table. Fred and George – clean-shaven again – seemed to have taken their
disappointment fairly well.
“Hope it’s Angelina,” said Fred as Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat down.
“So do I!” said Hermione breathlessly. “Well, we’ll soon know!”
The Halloween feast seemed to take much longer than usual. Perhaps because
it was their second feast in two days, Harry didn’ t seem to fancy the ext ravagant ly
prepared food as much as he would have normally. Like everyone else in the Hall,
j udging by the constant ly craning necks, the impat ient expressions on every face, the
fidget ing, and the standing up to see whether Dumbledore had finished eat ing yet ,
Harry simply wanted the plates to clear, and to hear who had been selected as
champions.
At long last , the golden plates returned to their original spot less state; there
was a sharp upswing in the level of noise within the Hall, which died away almost
instantly as Dumbledore got to his feet. On either side of him, Professor Karkaroff and
Madame Maxime looked as tense and expectant as anyone. Ludo Bagman was beaming
and winking at various students. Mr. Crouch, however, looked quite uninterested,
almost bored.
“Well, the goblet is almost ready to make its decision,” said Dumbledore. “ I
est imate that it requires one more minute. Now, when the champions’ names are
called, I would ask them please to come up to the top of the Hall, walk along the staff
table, and go through into the next chamber” – he indicated the door behind the staff
table – “where they will be receiving their first instructions.”
He took out his wand and gave a great sweeping wave with it ; at once, all the
candles except those inside the carved pumpkins were ext inguished, plunging them
into a state of semidarkness. The Goblet of Fire now shone more bright ly than
anything in the whole Hall, the sparkling bright , bluey-whiteness of the flames almost
painful on the eyes. Everyone watched, wait ing. . . . A few people kept checking their
watches. . .
“Any second,” Lee Jordan whispered, two seats away from Harry.
The flames inside the goblet turned suddenly red again. Sparks began to fly
from it . Next moment , a tongue of flame shot into the air, a charred piece of
parchment fluttered out of it – the whole room gasped.
Dumbledore caught the piece of parchment and held it at arm’ s length, so that
he could read it by the light of the flames, which had turned back to blue-white.
“ The champion for Durmst rang,” he read, in a st rong, clear voice, “ will be
Viktor Krum.”
“No surprises there!” yelled Ron as a storm of applause and cheering swept the
Hall. Harry saw Viktor Krum rise from the Slytherin table and slouch up toward
Dumbledore; he turned right , walked along the staff table, and disappeared through
the door into the next chamber.
“ Bravo, Viktor!” boomed Karkaroff, so loudly that everyone could hear him,
even over all the applause. “Knew you had it in you!”
The clapping and chat t ing died down. Now everyone’ s at tent ion was focused
again on the goblet , which, seconds later, turned red once more. A second piece of
parchment shot out of it, propelled by the flames.
“The champion for Beauxbatons,” said Dumbledore, “is Fleur Delacour!”
“ It ’ s her, Ron!” Harry shouted as the girl who so resembled a veela got
gracefully to her feet , shook back her sheet of silvery blonde hair, and swept up
between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables.
“Oh look, they’ re all disappointed,” Hermione said over the noise, nodding
toward the remainder of the Beauxbatons party. “ Disappointed” was a bit of an
understatement , Harry thought . Two of the girls who had not been selected had
dissolved into tears and were sobbing with their heads on their arms.
When Fleur Delacour too had vanished into the side chamber, silence fell again,
but this t ime it was a silence so st iff with excitement you could almost taste it . The
Hogwarts champion next…
And the Goblet of Fire turned red once more; sparks showered out of it ; the
tongue of flame shot high into the air, and from its t ip Dumbledore pulled the third
piece of parchment.
“The Hogwarts champion,” he called, “is Cedric Diggory!”
“ No! “ said Ron loudly, but nobody heard him except Harry; the uproar from
the next table was too great . Every single Hufflepuff had j umped to his or her feet ,
screaming and stamping, as Cedric made his way past them, grinning broadly, and
headed off toward the chamber behind the teachers’ table. Indeed, the applause for
Cedric went on so long that it was some t ime before Dumbledore could make himself
heard again.
“ Excellent !” Dumbledore called happily as at last the tumult died down.
“Well, we now have our three champions. I am sure I can count upon all of you,
including the remaining students from Beauxbatons and Durmst rang, to give your
champions every ounce of support you can muster. By cheering your champion on, you
will contribute in a very real –“
But Dumbledore suddenly stopped speaking, and it was apparent to everybody
what had distracted him.
The fire in the goblet had j ust turned red again. Sparks were flying out of it . A
long flame shot suddenly into the air, and borne upon it was another piece of
parchment.
Automatically, it seemed, Dumbledore reached out a long hand and seized the
parchment . He held it out and stared at the name writ ten upon it . There was
a long pause, during which Dumbledore stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone in
the room stared at Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat and read out
– “Harry Potter.”
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN – THE FOUR CHAMPIONS
Harry sat there, aware that every head in the Great Hall had turned to look at
him. He was stunned. He felt numb. He was surely dreaming. He had not heard
correctly.
There was no applause. A buzzing, as though of angry bees, was start ing to f ill
the Hall; some students were standing up to get a bet ter look at Harry as he sat ,
frozen, in his seat.
Up at the top table, Professor McGonagall had got to her feet and swept past
Ludo Bagman and Professor Karkaroff to whisper urgent ly to Professor Dumbledore,
who bent his ear toward her, frowning slightly.
Harry turned to Ron and Hermione; beyond them, he saw the long Gryffindor
table all watching him, openmouthed.
“I didn’t put my name in,” Harry said blankly. “You know I didn’t.”
Both of them stared just as blankly back.
At the top table, Professor Dumbledore had st raightened up, nodding to
Professor McGonagall.
“Harry Potter!” he called again. “Harry! Up here, if you please!”
“Go on,” Hermione whispered, giving Harry a slight push.
Harry got to his feet , t rod on the hem of his robes, and stumbled slight ly. He
set off up the gap between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables. It felt like an
immensely long walk; the top table didn’t seem to be getting any nearer at all, and he
could feel hundreds and hundreds of eyes upon him, as though each were a
searchlight . The buzzing grew louder and louder. After what seemed like an hour, he
was right in front of Dumbledore, feeling the stares of all the teachers upon him.
“Well.. . through the door, Harry,” said Dumbledore. He wasn’t smiling.
Harry moved off along the teachers’ table. Hagrid was seated right at the end.
He did not wink at Harry, or wave, or give any of his usual signs of greeting. He looked
completely astonished and stared at Harry as he passed like everyone else. Harry
went through the door out of the Great Hall and found himself in a smaller room, lined
with paint ings of witches and wizards. A handsome fire was roaring in the f ireplace
opposite him.
The faces in the port raits turned to look at him as he entered. He saw a
wizened witch flit out of the frame of her picture and into the one next to it , which
contained a wizard with a walrus mustache. The wizened witch started whispering in
his ear.
Viktor Krum, Cedric Diggory, and Fleur Delacour were grouped around the fire.
They looked st rangely impressive, silhouet ted against the f lames. Krum, hunched-up
and brooding, was leaning against the mantelpiece, slight ly apart from the other two.
Cedric was standing with his hands behind his back, staring into the fire. Fleur
Delacour looked around when Harry walked in and threw back her sheet of long,
silvery hair.
“What is it?” she said. “Do zey want us back in ze Hall?”
She thought he had come to deliver a message. Harry didn’ t know how to
explain what had j ust happened. He j ust stood there, looking at the three champions.
It struck him how very tall all of them were.
There was a sound of scurrying feet behind him, and Ludo Bagman entered the
room. He took Harry by the arm and led him forward.
“ Ext raordinary!” he mut tered, squeezing Harry’ s arm. “ Absolutely
ext raordinary! Gent lemen. . . lady,” he added, approaching the f ireside and
addressing the other three. “May I int roduce – incredible though it may seem – the
fourth Triwizard champion?”
Viktor Krum st raightened up. His surly face darkened as he surveyed Harry.
Cedric looked nonplussed. He looked f rom Bagman to Harry and back again as though
sure he must have misheard what Bagman had said. Fleur Delacour, however, tossed
her hair, smiling, and said, “Oh, vairy funny joke, Meester Bagman.”
“ Joke?” Bagman repeated, bewildered. “ No, no, not at all! Harry’ s name j ust
came out of the Goblet of Fire!”
Krum’ s thick eyebrows cont racted slight ly. Cedric was st ill looking politely
bewildered. Fleur frowned.
“ But evident ly zair ‘ as been a mistake,” she said contemptuously to Bagman.
“E cannot compete. ‘E is too young.”
“Well. . . it is amazing,” said Bagman, rubbing his smooth chin and smiling
down at Harry. “ But , as you know, the age rest rict ion was only imposed this year as
an ext ra safety measure. And as his name’ s come out of the goblet .. . I mean, I don’ t
think there can be any ducking out at this stage. . . . It ’ s down in the rules, you’ re
obliged. . . Harry will just have to do the best he –“
The door behind them opened again, and a large group of people came in:
Professor Dumbledore, followed closely by Mr. Crouch, Professor Karkaroff, Madame
Maxime, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape. Harry heard the buzzing of the
hundreds of students on the other side of the wall, before Professor McGonagall closed
the door.
“Madame Maxime!” said Fleur at once, striding over to her headmistress. “Zey
are saying zat zis little boy is to compete also!”
Somewhere under Harry’s numb disbelief he felt a ripple of anger. Little boy?
Madame Maxime had drawn herself up to her full, and considerable, height .
The top of her handsome head brushed the candle-filled chandelier, and her gigant ic
black-satin bosom swelled.
“What is ze meaning of zis, Dumbly-dorr?” she said imperiously. “ I’ d rather
like to know that myself, Dumbledore,” said Professor Karkarof f. He was wearing a
steely smile, and his blue eyes were like chips of ice. “Two Hogwarts champions? I
don’ t remember anyone telling me the host school is allowed two champions – or have
I not read the rules carefully enough?”
He gave a short and nasty laugh.
“C’est impossible,” said Madame Maxime, whose enormous hand with its many
superb opals was rest ing upon Fleur’ s shoulder. “Ogwarts cannot ‘ ave two champions.
It is most injust.”
“We were under the impression that your Age Line would keep out younger
contestants, Dumbledore,” said Karkaroff, his steely smile st ill in place, though his
eyes were colder than ever. “Otherwise, we would, of course, have brought along a
wider selection of candidates from our own schools.”
“ It ’ s no one’ s fault but Pot ter’ s, Karkaroff,” said Snape soft ly. His black eyes
were alight with malice. “ Don’ t go blaming Dumbledore for Pot ter’ s determinat ion to
break rules. He has been crossing lines ever since he arrived here –“
“ Thank you, Severus,” said Dumbledore firmly, and Snape went quiet , though
his eyes still glinted malevolently through his curtain of greasy black hair.
Professor Dumbledore was now looking down at Harry, who looked right back at
him, trying to discern the expression of the eyes behind the half-moon spectacles.
“Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harry?” he asked calmly.
“ No,” said Harry. He was very aware of everybody watching him closely.
Snape made a soft noise of impatient disbelief in the shadows.
“ Did you ask an older student to put it into the Goblet of Fire for you?” said
Professor Dumbledore, ignoring Snape.
“ No,” said Harry vehemently.
“ Ah, but of course ‘ e is lying!” cried Madame Maxime. Snape was now shaking
his head, his lip curling.
“ He could not have crossed the Age Line,” said Professor McGonagall sharply.
“I am sure we are all agreed on that -“
“Dumbly-dorr must ‘ ave made a mistake wiz ze line,” said Madame Maxime,
shrugging.
“It is possible, of course,” said Dumbledore politely.
“ Dumbledore, you know perfect ly well you did not make a mistake!” said
Professor McGonagall angrily. “ Really, what nonsense! Harry could not have crossed
the line himself, and as Professor Dumbledore believes that he did not persuade an
older student to do it for him, I’m sure that should be good enough for everybody
else!”
She shot a very angry look at Professor Snape.
“Mr. Crouch.. . Mr. Bagman,” said Karkaroff , his voice unctuous once more,
“you are our – er – objective judges. Surely you will agree that this is most irregular?”
Bagman wiped his round, boyish face with his handkerchief and looked at Mr.
Crouch, who was standing outside the circle of the f irelight , his face half hidden in
shadow. He looked slight ly eerie, the half darkness making him look much older,
giving him an almost skull-like appearance. When he spoke, however, it was in his
usual curt voice.
“We must follow the rules, and the rules state clearly that those people whose
names come out of the Goblet of Fire are bound to compete in the tournament.”
“Well, Barty knows the rule book back to front ,” said Bagman, beaming and
turning back to Karkaroff and Madame Maxime, as though the matter was now closed.
“ I insist upon resubmit t ing the names of the rest of my students,” said
Karkaroff. He had dropped his unctuous tone and his smile now. His face wore a very
ugly look indeed. “ You will set up the Goblet of Fire once more, and we will cont inue
adding names until each school has two champions. It’s only fair, Dumbledore.”
“ But Karkaroff , it doesn’ t work like that ,” said Bagman. “ The Goblet of Fire’ s
just gone out – it won’t reignite until the start of the next tournament -“
“ – in which Durmst rang will most certainly not be compet ing!” exploded
Karkaroff. “ After all our meet ings and negot iat ions and compromises, I lit t le expected
something of this nature to occur! I have half a mind to leave now!”
“ Empty threat , Karkaroff,” growled a voice from near the door. “ You can’ t
leave your champion now. He’ s got to compete. They’ ve all got to compete. Binding
magical contract, like Dumbledore said. Convenient, eh?”
Moody had j ust entered the room. He limped toward the fire, and with every
right step he took, there was a loud clunk.
“Convenient?” said Karkaroff. “I’m afraid I don’t understand you, Moody.”
Harry could tell he was t rying to sound disdainful, as though what Moody was
saying was barely worth his not ice, but his hands gave him away; they had balled
themselves into fists.
“ Don’ t you?” said Moody quiet ly. “ It ’ s very simple, Karkaroff. Someone put
Potter’s name in that goblet knowing he’d have to compete if it came out.”
“ Evident ly, someone ‘ oo wished to give ‘Ogwarts two bites at ze apple!” said
Madame Maxime.
“ I quite agree, Madame Maxime,” said Karkarof f, bowing to her. “ I shall be
lodging complaints with the Minist ry of Magic and the Internat ional Confederat ion of
Wizards -“
“ If anyone’ s got reason to complain, it ’ s Pot ter,” growled Moody, “ but . . .
funny thing. . . I don’t hear him saying a word. . .
“Why should ‘ e complain?” burst out Fleur Delacour, stamping her foot . “ E ‘ as
ze chance to compete, ‘ asn’ t ‘ e?We ‘ ave all been ‘ oping to be chosen for weeks and
weeks! Ze honor for our schools! A thousand Galleons in prize money – zis is a chance
many would die for!”
“Maybe someone’ s hoping Pot ter is going to die for it ,” said Moody, with the
merest trace of a growl.
An ext remely tense silence followed these words. Ludo Bagman, who was
looking very anxious indeed, bounced nervously up and down on his feet and said,
“Moody, old man. . . what a thing to say!”
“We all know Professor Moody considers the morning wasted if he hasn’ t
discovered six plots to murder him before luncht ime,” said Karkarof f loudly.
“ Apparent ly he is now teaching his students to fear assassinat ion too. An odd quality
in a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dumbledore, but no doubt you had your
reasons.
“ Imagining things, am I?” growled Moody. “ Seeing things, eh? It was a skilled
witch or wizard who put the boy’s name in that goblet. . .
“Ah, what evidence is zere of zat?” said Madame Maxime, throwing up her huge
hands.
“ Because they hoodwinked a very powerful magical obj ect !” said Moody. “ It
would have needed an exceptionally strong Confundus Charm to bamboozle that goblet
into forget t ing that only three schools compete in the tournament .. . . I’m guessing
they submitted Potter’s name under a fourth school, to make sure he was the only one
in his category.. . .“
“ You seem to have given this a great deal of thought , Moody,” said Karkaroff
coldly, “and a very ingenious theory it is – though of course, I heard you recently got it
into your head that one of your birthday presents contained a cunningly disguised
basilisk egg, and smashed it to pieces before realizing it was a carriage clock. So
you’ll understand if we don’t take you entirely seriously. . . .“
“ There are those who’ ll turn innocent occasions to their advantage,” Moody
retorted in a menacing voice. “It’s my job to think the way Dark wizards do, Karkaroff
– as you ought to remember…
“ Alastor!” said Dumbledore warningly. Harry wondered for a moment whom
he was speaking to, but then realized “Mad-Eye” could hardly be Moody’ s real f irst
name. Moody fell silent, though still surveying Karkaroff with satisfaction – Karkaroff’s
face was burning.
“ How this situat ion arose, we do not know,” said Dumbledore, speaking to
everyone gathered in the room. “ It seems to me, however, that we have no choice
but to accept it . Both Cedric and Harry have been chosen to compete in the
Tournament. This, therefore, they will do. . .
“Ah, but Dumbly-dorr -“
“My dear Madame Maxime, if you have an alternat ive, I would be delighted to
hear it.”
Dumbledore waited, but Madame Maxime did not speak, she merely glared.
She wasn’ t the only one either. Snape looked furious; Karkaroff livid; Bagman,
however, looked rather excited.
“Well, shall we crack on, then?” he said, rubbing his hands together and
smiling around the room. “ Got to give our champions their inst ruct ions, haven’ t we?
Barty, want to do the honors?”
Mr. Crouch seemed to come out of a deep reverie.
“Yes,” he said, “instructions. Yes . . . the first task . . .“
He moved forward into the firelight . Close up, Harry thought he looked ill.
There were dark shadows beneath his eyes and a thin, papery look about his wrinkled
skin that had not been there at the Quidditch World Cup.
“ The f irst task is designed to test your daring,” he told Harry, Cedric, Fleur,
and Viktor, “ so we are not going to be telling you what it is. Courage in the face of
the unknown is an important quality in a wizard. . . very important.
“ The first task will take place on November the twenty-fourth, in front of the
other students and the panel of judges.
“ The champions are not permit ted to ask for or accept help of any kind from
their teachers to complete the tasks in the tournament . The champions will face the
first challenge armed only with their wands. They will receive informat ion about the
second task when the first is over. Owing to the demanding and t ime-consuming
nature of the tournament, the champions are exempted from end-of-year tests.”
Mr. Crouch turned to look at Dumbledore.
“I think that’s all, is it, Albus?”
“ I think so,” said Dumbledore, who was looking at Mr. Crouch with mild
concern. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to stay at Hogwarts tonight, Barty?”
“ No, Dumbledore, I must get back to the Minist ry,” said Mr. Crouch. “ It is a
very busy, very dif ficult t ime at the moment …. I’ ve left young Weatherby in charge..
. . Very enthusiastic. . . a little overenthusiastic, if truth be told. . .
“You’ll come and have a drink before you go, at least?” said Dumbledore.
“ Come on, Barry, I’m staying!” said Bagman bright ly. “ It ’ s all happening at
Hogwarts now, you know, much more exciting here than at the office!”
“I think not, Ludo,” said Crouch with a touch of his old impatience.
“Professor Karkaroff – Madame Maxime – a nightcap?” said Dumbledore.
But Madame Maxime had already put her arm around Fleur’ s shoulders and was
leading her swift ly out of the room. Harry could hear them both talking very fast in
French as they went of f into the Great Hall. Karkaroff beckoned to Krum, and they,
too, exited, though in silence.
“ Harry, Cedric, I suggest you go up to bed,” said Dumbledore, smiling at both
of them. “I am sure Gryffindor and Hufflepuff are waiting to celebrate with you, and it
would be a shame to deprive them of this excellent excuse to make a great deal of
mess and noise.”
Harry glanced at Cedric, who nodded, and they left together.
The Great Hall was deserted now; the candles had burned low, giving the
jagged smiles of the pumpkins an eerie, flickering quality.
“ So,” said Cedric, with a slight smile. “We’ re playing against each other
again!”
“ I s’ pose,” said Harry. He really couldn’ t think of anything to say. The inside
of his head seemed to be in complete disarray, as though his brain had been
ransacked.
“ So. . . tell me. . .“ said Cedric as they reached the ent rance hall, which was
now lit only by torches in the absence of the Goblet of Fire. “ How did you get your
name in?”
“ I didn’ t ,” said Harry, staring up at him. “ I didn’ t put it in. I was telling the
truth.”
“Ah. . . okay,” said Cedric. Harry could tell Cedric didn’t believe him. “Well .
. . see you, then.”
Instead of going up the marble staircase, Cedric headed for a door to its right .
Harry stood listening to him going down the stone steps beyond it , then, slowly, he
started to climb the marble ones.
Was anyone except Ron and Hermione going to believe him, or would they all
think he’ d put himself in for the tournament? Yet how could anyone think that , when
he was facing competitors who’d had three years’ more magical education than he had
– when he was now facing tasks that not only sounded very dangerous, but which were
to be performed in front of hundreds of people? Yes, he’ d thought about it . . . he’ d
fantasized about it .. . but it had been a j oke, really, an idle sort of dream. . . he’ d
never really, seriously considered entering. .
But someone else had considered it . . . someone else had wanted him in the
tournament, and had made sure he was entered. Why? To give him a treat? He didn’t
think so, somehow…
To see him make a fool of himself? Well, they were likely to get their wish. .
But to get him killed?
Was Moody j ust being his usual paranoid self? Couldn’ t someone have put
Harry’ s name in the goblet as a t rick, a pract ical j oke? Did anyone really want him
dead?
Harry was able to answer that at once. Yes, someone wanted him dead,
someone had wanted him dead ever since he had been a year old. . . Lord Voldemort .
But how could Voldemort have ensured that Harry’ s name got into the Goblet of Fire?
Voldemort was supposed to be far away, in some distant count ry, in hiding, alone. . .
feeble and powerless….
Yet in that dream he had had, j ust before he had awoken with his scar hurt ing,
Voldemort had not been alone. . . he had been talking to Wormtail.. . plot t ing Harry’ s
murder.
Harry got a shock to find himself facing the Fat Lady already. He had barely
not iced where his feet were carrying him. It was also a surprise to see that she was
not alone in her frame. The wizened witch who had flit ted into her neighbor’ s
paint ing when he had j oined the champions downstairs was now sit t ing smugly beside
the Fat Lady. She must have dashed through every picture lining seven staircases to
reach here before him. Both she and the Fat Lady were looking down at him with the
keenest interest.
“Well, well, well,” said the Fat Lady, “ Violet ’ s j ust told me everything. Who’ s
just been chosen as school champion, then?”
“Balderdash,” said Harry dully.
“It most certainly isn’t!” said the pale witch indignantly.
“ No, no, Vi, it ’ s the password,” said the Fat Lady soothingly, and she swung
forward on her hinges to let Harry into the common room.
The blast of noise that met Harry’ s ears when the port rait opened almost
knocked him backward. Next thing he knew, he was being wrenched inside the
common room by about a dozen pairs of hands, and was facing the whole of Gryffindor
House, all of whom were screaming, applauding, and whistling.
“ You should’ ve told us you’ d entered!” bellowed Fred; he looked half
annoyed, half deeply impressed.
“How did you do it without getting a beard? Brilliant!” roared George.
“I didn’t,” Harry said. “I don’t know how -“
But Angelina had now swooped down upon him; “Oh if it couldn’ t be me, at
least it’s a Gryffindor -“
“ You’ ll be able to pay back Diggory for that last Quidditch match, Harry!”
shrieked Katie Bell, another of the Gryffindor Chasers.
“We’ve got food, Harry, come and have some -“
“I’m not hungry, I had enough at the feast -“
But nobody wanted to hear that he wasn’ t hungry; nobody wanted to hear that
he hadn’ t put his name in the goblet ; not one single person seemed to have not iced
that he wasn’ t at all in the mood to celebrate. . . . Lee Jordan had unearthed a
Gryff indor banner f rom somewhere, and he insisted on draping it around Harry like a
cloak. Harry couldn’ t get away; whenever he t ried to sidle over to the staircase up to
the dormitories, the crowd around him closed ranks, forcing another but terbeer on
him, stuf fing crisps and peanuts into his hands. . . . Everyone wanted to know how he
had done it , how he had t ricked Dumbledore’ s Age Line and managed to get his name
into the goblet….
“I didn’t,” he said, over and over again, “I don’t know how it happened.”
But for all the not ice anyone took, he might j ust as well not have answered at
all.
“ I’m t ired!” he bellowed finally, after nearly half an hour. “ No, seriously,
George – I’m going to bed -“
He wanted more than anything to f ind Ron and Hermione, to f ind a bit of
sanity, but neither of them seemed to be in the common room. Insist ing that he
needed to sleep, and almost flat tening the lit t le Creevey brothers as they at tempted
to waylay him at the foot of the stairs, Harry managed to shake everyone off and climb
up to the dormitory as fast as he could.
To his great relief, he found Ron was lying on his bed in the otherwise empty
dormitory, still fully dressed. He looked up when Harry slammed the door behind him.
“Where’ve you been?” Harry said.
“Oh hello,” said Ron.
He was grinning, but it was a very odd, st rained sort of grin. Harry suddenly
became aware that he was st ill wearing the scarlet Gryffindor banner that Lee had
t ied around him. He hastened to take it off, but it was knot ted very t ight ly. Ron lay
on the bed without moving, watching Harry struggle to remove it.
“ So,” he said, when Harry had finally removed the banner and thrown it into a
corner. “Congratulations.”
“What d’ you mean, congratulat ions?” said Harry, staring at Ron. There was
definitely something wrong with the way Ron was smiling: It was more like a grimace.
“Well. . . no one else got across the Age Line,” said Ron. “ Not even Fred and
George. What did you use – the Invisibility Cloak?”
“The Invisibility Cloak wouldn’t have got me over that line,” said Harry slowly.
“Oh right ,” said Ron. “ I thought you might ’ ve told me if it was the cloak. . .
because it would’ ve covered both of us, wouldn’ t it? But you found another way, did
you?”
“ Listen,” said Harry, “ I didn’ t put my name in that goblet . Someone else
must’ve done it.”
Ron raised his eyebrows.
“What would they do that for?”
“I dunno,” said Harry. He felt it would sound very melodramatic to say, “To kill
me.”
Ron’ s eyebrows rose so high that they were in danger of disappearing into his
hair.
“ It ’ s okay, you know, you can tell me the t ruth,” he said. “ If you don’ t want
everyone else to know, fine, but I don’ t know why you’ re bothering to lie, you didn’ t
get into t rouble for it , did you? That f riend of the Fat Lady’ s, that Violet , she’ s
already told us all Dumbledore’ s let t ing you enter. A thousand Galleons prize money,
eh? And you don’t have to do end-of-year tests either. . .”
“I didn’t put my name in that goblet!” said Harry, starting to feel angry.
“ Yeah, okay,” said Ron, in exact ly the same scept ical tone as Cedric. “Only
you said this morning you’ d have done it last night , and no one would’ ve seen you.. . .
I’m not stupid, you know.”
“You’re doing a really good impression of it,” Harry snapped.
“ Yeah?” said Ron, and there was no t race of a grin, forced or otherwise, on his
face now. “ You want to get to bed, Harry. I expect you’ ll need to be up early
tomorrow for a photo-call or something.”
He wrenched the hangings shut around his four-poster, leaving Harry standing
there by the door, staring at the dark red velvet curtains, now hiding one of the few
people he had been sure would believe him.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN – THE WEIGHING OF THE WANDS
When Harry woke up on Sunday morning, it took him a moment to remember
why he felt so miserable and worried. Then the memory of the previous night rolled
over him. He sat up and ripped back the curtains of his own four-poster, intending to
talk to Ron, to force Ron to believe him – only to find that Ron’ s bed was empty; he
had obviously gone down to breakfast.
Harry dressed and went down the spiral staircase into the common room. The
moment he appeared, the people who had already finished breakfast broke into
applause again. The prospect of going down into the Great Hall and facing the rest of
the Gryffindors, all t reat ing him like some sort of hero, was not invit ing; it was that ,
however, or stay here and allow himself to be cornered by the Creevey brothers, who
were both beckoning frant ically to him to j oin them. He walked resolutely over to the
port rait hole, pushed it open, climbed out of it , and found himself face-to-face with
Hermione.
“ Hello,” she said, holding up a stack of toast , which she was carrying in a
napkin. “I brought you this. . . . Want to go for a walk?”
“Good idea,” said Harry gratefully.
They went downstairs, crossed the ent rance hall quickly without looking in at
the Great Hall, and were soon st riding across the lawn toward the lake, where the
Durmst rang ship was moored, reflected blackly in the water. It was a chilly morning,
and they kept moving, munching their toast , as Harry told Hermione exact ly what had
happened after he had left the Gryffindor table the night before. To his immense
relief, Hermione accepted his story without question.
“Well, of course I knew you hadn’ t entered yourself,” she said when he’ d
finished telling her about the scene in the chamber off the Hall. “ The look on your
face when Dumbledore read out your name! But the quest ion is, who did put it in?
Because Moody’s right, Harry… I don’t think any student could have done it. . . they’d
never be able to fool the Goblet, or get over Dumbledore’s -“
“Have you seen Ron?” Harry interrupted.
Hermione hesitated.
“Erm. . . yes. . . he was at breakfast,” she said.
“Does he still think I entered myself?”
“Well. . . no, I don’t think so . . . not really,” said Hermione awkwardly.
“What’s that supposed to mean, ‘not really’?”
“Oh Harry, isn’t it obvious?” Hermione said despairingly. “He’s jealous!”
“Jealous?” Harry said incredulously. “ Jealous of what? He wants to make a
prat of himself in front of the whole school, does he?”
“ Look,” said Hermione pat ient ly, “ it ’ s always you who gets all the at tent ion,
you know it is. I know it ’ s not your fault ,” she added quickly, seeing Harry open his
mouth furiously. “ I know you don’ t ask for it .. . but – well – you know, Ron’ s got all
those brothers to compete against at home, and you’ re his best friend, and you’ re
really famous – he’ s always shunted to one side whenever people see you, and he puts
up with it, and he never mentions it, but I suppose this is just one time too many. . .
“Great ,” said Harry bit terly. “ Really great . Tell him from me I’ ll swap any
t ime he wants. Tell him from me he’ s welcome to it …. People gawping at my
forehead everywhere I go. . .”
“ I’m not teiling him anything,” Hermione said short ly. “ Tell him yourself. It ’ s
the only way to sort this out.”
“I’m not running around af ter him t rying to make him grow up!” Harry said, so
loudly that several owls in a nearby tree took flight in alarm. “Maybe he’ll believe I’m
not enjoying myself once I’ve got my neck broken or –“
“ That ’ s not funny,” said Hermione quiet ly. “ That ’ s not funny at all.” She
looked ext remely anxious. “ Harry, I’ ve been thinking – you know what we’ ve got to
do, don’t you? Straight away, the moment we get back to the castle?”
“Yeah, give Ron a good kick up the -“
“Writ e t o Sirius. You’ve got to tell him what ’ s happened. He asked you to
keep him posted on everything that ’ s going on at Hogwarts. . . . It ’ s almost as if he
expected something like this to happen. I brought some parchment and a quill out
with me -“
“ Come off it ,” said Harry, looking around to check that they couldn’ t be
overheard, but the grounds were quite deserted. “ He came back to the count ry j ust
because my scar twinged. He’ ll probably come burst ing right into the cast le if I tell
him someone’s entered me in the Triwizard Tournament -“
“ He’ d want you t o t el l him,” said Hermione sternly. “ He’ s going to find out
anyway.”
“How?”
“ Harry, this isn’ t going to be kept quiet ,” said Hermione, very seriously. “ This
tournament ’ s famous, and you’ re famous. I’ ll be really surprised if there isn’ t
anything in the Daily Prophet about you compet ing. . . . You’ re already in half the
books about You-Know-Who, you know.. . and Sirius would rather hear it from you, I
know he would.”
“Okay, okay, I’ ll write to him,” said Harry, throwing his last piece of toast into
the lake. They both stood and watched it float ing there for a moment , before a large
tentacle rose out of the water and scooped it beneath the surface. Then they
returned to the castle.
“Whose owl am I going to use?” Harry said as they climbed the stairs. “ He told
me not to use Hedwig again.”
“Ask Ron if you can borrow -“
“I’m not asking Ron for anything,” Harry said flatly.
“Well, borrow one of the school owls, then, anyone can use them,” said
Hermione.
They went up to the Owlery. Hermione gave Harry a piece of parchment , a
quill, and a bot t le of ink, then st rolled around the long lines of perches, looking at all
the different owls, while Harry sat down against a wall and wrote his letter.
Dear Sirius,
You t old me t o keep you post ed on what ’ s happening at Hogwart s, so
here goes – I don’ t know if you’ ve heard, but t he Triwizard
Tournament ’ s happening t his year and on Sat urday night I got picked as
a fourth champion. I don’ t who put my name in t he Goblet of Fire,
because I didn’t. The other Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory, from
Hufflepuff
He paused at this point , thinking. He had an urge to say something about the
large weight of anxiety that seemed to have set t led inside his chest since last night ,
but he couldn’ t think how to t ranslate this into words, so he simply dipped his quill
back into the ink bottle and wrote,
Hope you’re okay, and Buckbeak – Harry
“ Finished,” he told Hermione, get t ing to his feet and brushing st raw off his
robes. At this, Hedwig fluttered down onto his shoulder and held out her leg.
“ I can’ t use you,” Harry told her, looking around for the school owls. “ I’ ve got
to use one of these.”
Hedwig gave a very loud hoot and took of f so suddenly that her talons cut into
his shoulder. She kept her back to Harry all the t ime he was tying his let ter to the leg
of a large barn owl. When the barn owl had flown off, Harry reached out to st roke
Hedwig, but she clicked her beak furiously and soared up into the rafters out of reach.
“First Ron, then you,” Harry said angrily. “This isn’t my fault.”
If Harry had thought that matters would improve once everyone got used to the
idea of him being champion, the following day showed him how mistaken he was. He
could no longer avoid the rest of the school once he was back at lessons – and it was
clear that the rest of the school, j ust like the Gryffindors, thought Harry had entered
himself for the tournament . Unlike the Gryff indors, however, they did not seem
impressed.
The Hufflepuffs, who were usually on excellent terms with the Gryff indors, had
turned remarkably cold toward the whole lot of them. One Herbology lesson was
enough to demonst rate this. It was plain that the Hufflepuffs felt that Harry had
stolen their champion’ s glory; a feeling exacerbated, perhaps, by the fact that
Hufflepuff House very rarely got any glory, and that Cedric was one of the few who
had ever given them any, having beaten Gryffindor once at Quidditch. Ernie Macmillan
and Just in FinchFletchley, with whom Harry normally got on very well, did not talk to
him even though they were repot t ing Bouncing Bulbs at the same t ray – though they
did laugh rather unpleasant ly when one of the Bouncing Bulbs wriggled free from
Harry’ s grip and smacked him hard in the face. Ron wasn’ t talking to Harry either.
Hermione sat between them, making very forced conversat ion, but though both
answered her normally, they avoided making eye contact with each other. Harry
thought even Professor Sprout seemed distant with him – but then, she was Head of
Hufflepuff House.
He would have been looking forward to seeing Hagrid under normal
circumstances, but Care of Magical Creatures meant seeing the Slytherins too – the
first time he would come face-to-face with them since becoming champion.
Predictably, Malfoy arrived at Hagrid’ s cabin with his familiar sneer firmly in
place.
“ Ah, look, boys, it ’ s the champion,” he said to Crabbe and Goyle the moment
he got within earshot of Harry. “Got your autograph books? Bet ter get a signature
now, because I doubt he’ s going to be around much longer. . . . Half the Triwizard
champions have died.. . how long d’ you reckon you’ re going to last , Pot ter? Ten
minutes into the first task’s my bet.”
Crabbe and Goyle guffawed sycophant ically, but Malfoy had to stop there,
because Hagrid emerged f rom the back of his cabin balancing a teetering tower of
crates, each containing a very large Blast -Ended Skrewt . To the class’ s horror, Hagrid
proceeded to explain that the reason the skrewts had been killing one another was an
excess of pent -up energy, and that the solut ion would be for each student to fix a
leash on a skrewt and take it for a short walk. The only good thing about this plan was
that it distracted Malfoy completely.
“ Take this thing for a walk?” he repeated in disgust , staring into one of the
boxes. “ And where exact ly are we supposed to fix the leash? Around the st ing, the
blasting end, or the sucker?”
“ Roun’ the middle,” said Hagrid, demonst rat ing. “ Er – yeh might want ter put
on yer dragon-hide gloves, jus’ as an extra precaution, like. Harry – you come here an’
help me with this big one….
Hagrid’ s real intent ion, however, was totalk to Harry away from the rest of the
class. He waited unt il everyone else had set off with their skrewts, then turned to
Harry and said, very seriously, “ So – yer compet in’ , Harry. In the tournament . School
champion.”
“ One of the champions,” Harry corrected him.
Hagrid’s beetle-black eyes looked very anxious under his wild eyebrows.
“No idea who put yeh in fer it, Harry?”
“ You believe I didn’ t do it , then?” said Harry, concealing with dif ficulty the
rush of gratitude he felt at Hagrid’s words.
“ Course I do,” Hagrid grunted. “ Yeh say it wasn’ you, an’ I believe yeh – an’
Dumbledore believes yer, an’ all.”
“Wish I knew who did do it,” said Harry bitterly.
The pair of them looked out over the lawn; the class was widely scattered now,
and all in great difficulty. The skrewts were now over three feet long, and ext remely
powerful. No longer shell-less and colorless, they had developed a kind of thick,
grayish, shiny armor. They looked like a cross between giant scorpions and elongated
crabs – but st ill without recognizable heads or eyes. They had become immensely
strong and very hard to control.
“ Look like they’ re havin’ fun, don’ they?” Hagrid said happily. Harry assumed
he was talking about the skrewts, because his classmates certainly weren’ t ; every now
and then, with an alarming bang, one of the skrewts’ ends would explode, causing it to
shoot forward several yards, and more than one person was being dragged along on
their stomach, trying desperately to get back on their feet.
“ Ah, I don’ know, Harry,” Hagrid sighed suddenly, looking back down at him
with a worried expression on his face. “ School champion. . . everythin’ seems ter
happen ter you, doesn’ it?”
Harry didn’ t answer. Yes, everything did seem to happen to him. . . that was
more or less what Hermione had said as they had walked around the lake, and that was
the reason, according to her, that Ron was no longer talking to him.
The next few days were some of Harry’s worst at Hogwarts. The closest he had
ever come to feeling like this had been during those months, in his second year, when
a large part of the school had suspected him of at tacking his fellow students. But Ron
had been on his side then. He thought he could have coped with the rest of the
school’ s behavior if he could j ust have had Ron back as a friend, but he wasn’ t going
to t ry and persuade Ron to talk to him if Ron didn’ t want to. Nevertheless, it was
lonely with dislike pouring in on him from all sides.
He could understand the Hufflepuffs’ at t itude, even if he didn’ t like it ; they
had their own champion to support. He expected nothing less than vicious insults from
the Slytherins – he was highly unpopular there and always had been, because he had
helped Gryffindor beat them so often, both at Quidditch and in the Inter-House
Championship. But he had hoped the Ravenclaws might have found it in their hearts
to support him as much as Cedric. He was wrong, however. Most Ravenclaws seemed
to think that he had been desperate to earn himself a bit more fame by t ricking the
goblet into accepting his name.
Then there was the fact that Cedric looked the part of a champion so much
more than he did. Except ionally handsome, with his st raight nose, dark hair, and gray
eyes, it was hard to say who was receiving more admirat ion these days, Cedric or
Viktor Krum. Harry actually saw the same sixth-year girls who had been so keen to get
Krum’s autograph begging Cedric to sign their school bags one lunchtime.
Meanwhile there was no reply from Sirius, Hedwig was refusing to come
anywhere near him, Professor Trelawney was predict ing his death with even more
certainty than usual, and he did so badly at Summoning Charms in Professor Flitwick’ s
class that he was given ext ra homework – the only person to get any, apart from
Neville.
“ It ’ s really not that diff icult , Harry,” Hermione t ried to reassure him as they
left Flitwick’ s class – she had been making obj ects zoom across the room to her all
lesson, as though she were some sort of weird magnet for board dusters, wastepaper
baskets, and lunascopes. “You just weren’t concentrating properly -“
“Wonder why that was,” said Harry darkly as Cedric Diggory walked past ,
surrounded by a large group of simpering girls, all of whom looked at Harry as though
he were a part icularly large Blast -Ended Skrewt . “ St ill – never mind, eh? Double
Potions to look forward to this afternoon. . .”
Double Pot ions was always a horrible experience, but these days it was nothing
short of torture. Being shut in a dungeon for an hour and a half with Snape and the
Slytherins, all of whom seemed determined to punish Harry as much as possible for
daring to become school champion, was about the most unpleasant thing Harry could
imagine. He had already st ruggled through one Friday’ s worth, with Hermione sit t ing
next to him intoning “ ignore them, ignore them, ignore them” under her breath, and
he couldn’t see why today should be any better.
When he and Hermione arrived at Snape’ s dungeon after lunch, they found the
Slytherins wait ing outside, each and every one of them wearing a large badge on the
front of his or her robes. For one wild moment Harry thought they were S.P.E.W.
badges – then he saw that they all bore the same message, in luminous red letters that
burnt brightly in the dimly lit underground passage:
SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY–
THE REAL HOGWARTS CHAMPION!
“Like them, Potter?” said Malfoy loudly as Harry approached. “And this isn’t all
they do – look!”
He pressed his badge into his chest , and the message upon it vanished, to be
replaced by another one, which glowed green:
POTTER STINKS!
The Slytherins howled with laughter. Each of them pressed their badges too,
unt il the message POTTER STINKS was shining bright ly all around Harry. He felt the
heat rise in his face and neck.
“Oh very funny,” Hermione said sarcast ically to Pansy Parkinson and her gang
of Slytherin girls, who were laughing harder than anyone, “really witty.”
Ron was standing against the wall with Dean and Seamus. He wasn’ t laughing,
but he wasn’t sticking up for Harry either.
“Want one, Granger?” said Malfoy, holding out a badge to Hermione. “ I’ ve got
loads. But don’ t touch my hand, now. I’ ve j ust washed it , you see; don’ t want a
Mudblood sliming it up.”
Some of the anger Harry had been feeling for days and days seemed to burst
through a dam in his chest . He had reached for his wand before he’ d thought what he
was doing. People all around them scrambled out of the way, backing down the
corridor.
“Harry!” Hermione said warningly.
“Go on, then, Potter,” Malfoy said quietly, drawing out his own wand. “Moody’s
not here to look after you now – do it, if you’ve got the guts –“
For a split second, they looked into each other’ s eyes, then, at exact ly the
same time, both acted.
“Funnunculus!” Harry yelled.
“Densaugeo!” screamed Malfoy.
Jets of light shot from both wands, hit each other in midair, and ricocheted off
at angles — Harry’ s hit Goyle in the face, and Malfoy’ s hit Hermione. Goyle bellowed
and put his hands to his nose, where great ugly boils were springing up – Hermione,
whimpering in panic, was clutching her mouth.
“Hermione!”
Ron had hurried forward to see what was wrong with her; Harry turned and saw
Ron dragging Hermione’ s hand away from her face. It wasn’ t a pret ty sight .
Hermione’ s front teeth – already larger than average – were now growing at an
alarming rate; she was looking more and more like a beaver as her teeth elongated,
past her bot tom lip, toward her chin – panic-st ricken, she felt them and let out a
terrified cry.
“And what is all this noise about?” said a soft, deadly voice.
Snape had arrived. The Slytherins clamored to give their explanat ions; Snape
pointed a long yellow finger at Malfoy and said, “Explain.”
“Potter attacked me, sir -“
“We attacked each other at the same time!” Harry shouted.
“ – and he hit Goyle – look -“
Snape examined Goyle, whose face now resembled something that would have
been at home in a book on poisonous fungi.
“Hospital wing, Goyle,” Snape said calmly.
“Malfoy got Hermione!” Ron said. “Look!”
He forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth – she was doing her best to hide
them with her hands, though this was diff icult as they had now grown down past her
collar. Pansy Parkinson and the other Slytherin girls were doubled up with silent
giggles, pointing at Hermione from behind Snape’s back.
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”.
Hermione let out a whimper; her eyes filled with tears, she turned on her heel
and ran, ran all the way up the corridor and out of sight.
It was lucky, perhaps, that both Harry and Ron started shout ing at Snape at the
same t ime; lucky their voices echoed so much in the stone corridor, for in the
confused din, it was impossible for him to hear exact ly what they were calling him.
He got the gist, however.
“ Let ’ s see,” he said, in his silkiest voice. “ Fifty points from Gryf findor and a
detent ion each for Pot ter and Weasley. Now get inside, or it ’ ll be a week’ s worth of
detentions.”
Harry’ s ears were ringing. The inj ust ice of it made him want to curse Snape
into a thousand slimy pieces. He passed Snape, walked with Ron to the back of the
dungeon, and slammed his bag down onto the table. Ron was shaking with anger too –
for a moment , it felt as though everything was back to normal between them, but
then Ron turned and sat down with Dean and Seamus instead, leaving Harry alone at
his table. On the other side of the dungeon, Malfoy turned his back on Snape and
pressed his badge, smirking. POTTER STINKS flashed once more across the room.
Harry sat there staring at Snape as the lesson began, picturing horrific things
happening to him. . . . If only he knew how to do the Cruciatus Curse. . . he’ d have
Snape flat on his back like that spider, jerking and twitching.
“ Ant idotes!” said Snape, looking around at them all, his cold black eyes
glittering unpleasantly. “You should all have prepared your recipes now. I want you to
brew them carefully, and then, we will be select ing someone on whom to test one. .
.”
Snape’ s eyes met Harry’ s, and Harry knew what was coming. Snape was going
to poison him. Harry imagined picking up his cauldron, and sprint ing to the front of
the class, and bringing it down on Snape’ s greasy head – And then a knock on the
dungeon door burst in on Harry’s thoughts.
It was Colin Creevey; he edged into the room, beaming at Harry, and walked up
to Snape’s desk at the front of the room.
“Yes?” said Snape curtly.
“ Please, sir, I’m supposed to take Harry Pot ter upstairs.” Snape stared down
his hooked nose at Colin, whose smile faded from his eager face.
“ Pot ter has another hour of Pot ions to complete,” said Snape coldly. “ He will
come upstairs when this class is finished.”
Colin went pink.
“Sir – sir, Mr. Bagman wants him,” he said nervously. “ All the champions have
got to go, I think they want to take photographs. . .”
Harry would have given anything he owned to have stopped Colin saying those
last few words. He chanced half a glance at Ron, but Ron was staring determinedly at
the ceiling.
“ Very well, very well,” Snape snapped. “ Pot ter, leave your things here, I want
you back down here later to test your antidote.”
“ Please, sir – he’ s got to take his things with him,” squeaked Cohn. “ All the
champions…”
“Very well!” said Snape. “Potter – take your bag and get out of my sight!”
Harry swung his bag over his shoulder, got up, and headed for the door. As he
walked through the Slytherin desks, POTTER STINKS f lashed at him from every
direction.
“ It ’ s amazing, isn’ t it , Harry?” said Colin, start ing to speak the moment Harry
had closed the dungeon door behind him. “Isn’t it, though? You being champion?”
“ Yeah, really amazing,” said Harry heavily as they set off toward the steps into
the entrance hall. “What do they want photos for, Colin?”
“The Daily Prophet, I think!”
“Great,” said Harry dully. “Exactly what I need. More publicity.”
“Good luck!” said Colin when they had reached the right room. Harry knocked
on the door and entered.
He was in a fairly small classroom; most of the desks had been pushed away to
the back of the room, leaving a large space in the middle; three of them, however,
had been placed end-to-end in front of the blackboard and covered with a long length
of velvet. Five chairs had been set behind the velvet-covered desks, and Ludo Bagman
was sit t ing in one of them, talking to a witch Harry had never seen before, who was
wearing magenta robes.
Viktor Krum was standing moodily in a corner as usual and not talking to
anybody. Cedric and Fheur were in conversat ion. Fheur looked a good deal happier
than Harry had seen her so far; she kept throwing back her head so that her long
silvery hair caught the light . A paunchy man, holding a large black camera that was
smoking slightly, was watching Fleur out of the corner of his eye.
Bagman suddenly spotted Harry, got up quickly, and bounded forward.
“ Ah, here he is! Champion number four! In you come, Harry, in you come.. .
nothing to worry about , it ’ s j ust the wand weighing ceremony, the rest of the j udges
will be here in a moment -“
“Wand weighing?” Harry repeated nervously.
“We have to check that your wands are fully funct ional, no problems, you
know, as they’ re your most important tools in the tasks ahead,” said Bagman. “ The
expert ’ s upstairs now with Dumbledore. And then there’ s going to be a lit t le photo
shoot . This is Rita Skeeter,” he added, gesturing toward the witch in magenta robes.
“She’s doing a small piece on the tournament for the Daily Prophet. .. .“
“Maybe not that small, Ludo,” said Rita Skeeter, her eyes on Harry.
Her hair was set in elaborate and curiously rigid curls that cont rasted oddly
with her heavy-j awed face. She wore j eweled spectacles. The thick fingers clutching
her crocodile-skin handbag ended in two-inch nails, painted crimson.
“ I wonder if I could have a lit t le word with Harry before we start?” she said to
Bagman, but st ill gazing fixedly at Harry. “ The youngest champion, you know. . . to
add a bit of color?”
“Certainly!” cried Bagman. “That is – if Harry has no objection?”
“Er -“ said Harry.
“ Lovely,” said Rita Skeeter, and in a second, her scarlet -taloned fingers had
Harry’ s upper arm in a surprisingly st rong grip, and she was steering him out of the
room again and opening a nearby door.
“We don’t want to be in there with all that noise,” she said. “Let’s see . . . ah,
yes, this is nice and cozy.”
It was a broom cupboard. Harry stared at her.
“ Come along, dear – that ’ s right – lovely,” said Rita Skeeter again, perching
herself precariously upon an upturned bucket , pushing Harry down onto a cardboard
box, and closing the door, throwing them into darkness. “Let’s see now. .”
She unsnapped her crocodile-skin handbag and pulled out a handful of candles,
which she lit with a wave of her wand and magicked into midair, so that they could
see what they were doing.
“ You won’ t mind, Harry, if I use a Quick-Quotes Quill? It leaves me free to talk
to you normally. ..”
“A what?” said Harry.
Rita Skeeter’ s smile widened. Harry counted three gold teeth. She reached
again into her crocodile bag and drew out a long acid-green quill and a roll of
parchment , which she st retched out between them on a crate of Mrs. Skower’ s All-
Purpose Magical Mess Remover. She put the t ip of the green quill into her mouth,
sucked it for a moment with apparent relish, then placed it upright on the parchment ,
where it stood balanced on its point, quivering slightly.
“Testing. . . my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter.”
Harry hooked down quickly at the quill. The moment Rita Skeeter had spoken,
the green quill had started to scribble, skidding across the parchment:
At t ract ive blonde Rit a Skeeter, fort y-three, who’ s savage quil l has punct ured
many inflated reputations –
“ Lovely,” said Rita Skeeter, yet again, and she ripped the top piece of
parchment off, crumpled it up, and stuffed it into her handbag. Now she leaned
toward Harry and said, “ So, Harry… what made you decide to enter the Triwizard
Tournament?”
“Er -“ said Harry again, but he was dist racted by the quill. Even though he
wasn’ t speaking, it was dashing across the parchment , and in its wake he could make
out a fresh sentence:
An ugly scar, souvenier of a tragic past, disfigures the otherwise charming face
of Harry Potter, whose eyes —
“ Ignore the quill, Harry,” said Rita Skeeter firmly. Reluctant ly Harry looked up
at her instead. “Now — why did you decide to enter the tournament, Harry?”
“ I didn’ t ,” said Harry. “ I don’ t know how my name got into the Goblet of Fire.
I didn’t put it in there.”
Rita Skeeter raised one heavily penciled eyebrow.
“Come now, Harry, there’s no need to be scared of getting into trouble. We all
know you shouldn’ t really have entered at all. But don’ t worry about that . Our
readers hove a rebel.”
“But I didn’t enter,” Harry repeated. “I don’t know who -“
“How do you feel about the tasks ahead?” said Rita Skeeter. “ Excited?
Nervous?”
“ I haven’ t really thought . . . yeah, nervous, I suppose,” said Harry. His insides
squirmed uncomfortably as he spoke.
“ Champions have died in the past , haven’ t they?” said Rita Skeeter briskly.
“Have you thought about that at all?”
“Well. . . they say it’s going to be a lot safer this year,” said Harry.
The quill whizzed across the parchment between them, back and forward as
though it were skating.
“Of course, you’ ve looked death in the face before, haven’ t you?” said Rita
Skeeter, watching him closely. “How would you say that’s affected you?”
“Er,” said Harry, yet again.
“ Do you think that the t rauma in your past might have made you keen to prove
yourself? To live up to your name? Do you think that perhaps you were tempted to
enter the Triwizard Tournament because – “
“I didn’t enter,” said Harry, starting to feel irritated.
“Can you remember your parents at all?” said Rita Skeeter, talking over him.
“No,” said Harry.
“How do you think they’ d feel if they knew you were compet ing in the
Triwizard Tournament? Proud? Worried? Angry?”
Harry was feeling really annoyed now. How on earth was he to know how his
parents would feel if they were alive? He could feel Rita Skeeter watching him very
intent ly. Frowning, he avoided her gaze and hooked down at words the quill had j ust
written:
Tears f il l t hose st art l ingly green eyes as our conversat ion t urns t o t he parent s
he can barely remember.
“I have NOT got tears in my eyes!” said Harry loudly.
Before Rita Skeeter could say a word, the door of the broom cupboard was
pulled open. Harry looked around, blinking in the bright light . Albus Dumbledore
stood there, looking down at both of them, squashed into the cupboard.
“ Dumbledore!” cried Rita Skeeter, with every appearance of delight – but
Harry not iced that her quill and the parchment had suddenly vanished from the box of
Magical Mess Remover, and Rita’ s clawed fingers were hast ily snapping shut the clasp
of her crocodile-skin bag. “How are you?” she said, standing up and holding out one of
her large, mannish hands to Dumbledore. “ I hope you saw my piece over the summer
about the International Confederation of Wizards’ Conference?”
“ Enchant ingly nasty,” said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. “ I part icularly
enjoyed your description of me as an obsolete dingbat.”
Rita Skeeter didn’t look remotely abashed.
“ I was j ust making the point that some of your ideas are a lit t le old-fashioned,
Dumbhedore, and that many wizards in the street –“
“ I will be delighted to hear the reasoning behind the rudeness, Rita,” said
Dumbledore, with a courteous bow and a smile, “but I’m afraid we will have to discuss
the mat ter later. The Weighing of the Wands is about to start , and it cannot take
place if one of our champions is hidden in a broom cupboard.”
Very glad to get away from Rita Skeeter, Harry hurried back into the room.
The other champions were now sitting in chairs near the door, and he sat down quickly
next to Cedric, hooking up at the velvet -covered table, where four of the five j udges
were now sitting – Professor Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Mr. Crouch, and Ludo
Bagman. Rita Skeeter set t led herself down in a corner; Harry saw her slip the
parchment out of her bag again, spread it on her knee, suck the end of the Quick-
Quotes Quill, and place it once more on the parchment.
“May I int roduce Mr. Ollivander?” said Dumbledore, taking his place at the
judges’ table and talking to the champions. “He will be checking your wands to ensure
that they are in good condition before the tournament.”
Harry hooked around, and with a j olt of surprise saw an old wizard with large,
pale eyes standing quiet ly by the window. Harry had met Mr. Ollivander before – he
was the wand-maker from whom Harry had bought his own wand over three years ago
in Diagon Alley.
“Mademoiselle Delacour, could we have you first , please?” said Mr. Ollivander,
stepping into the empty space in the middle of the room.
Fleur Delacour swept over to Mr. Olhivander and handed him her wand.
“Hmm…” he said.
He twirled the wand between his long fingers like a baton and it emit ted a
number of pink and gold sparks. Then he held it chose to his eyes and examined it
carefully.
“ Yes,” he said quiet ly, “ nine and a half inches. . . inflexible.. rosewood.. . and
containing. . . dear me. . .“
“An ‘air from ze ‘ead of a veela,” said Fleur. “One of my grandmuzzer’s.”
So Fleur was part veela, thought Harry, making a mental note to tell Ron. . .
then he remembered that Ron wasn’t speaking to him.
“Yes,” said Mr. Ollivander, “yes, I’ve never used veela hair myself, of course. I
find it makes for rather temperamental wands…however, to each his own, and if this
suits you..”
Mr. Ollivander ran his fingers along the wand, apparently checking for scratches
or bumps; then he mut tered, “ Orchideous!” and a bunch of flowers burst from the
wand tip.
“ Very well, very well, it ’ s in fine working order,” said Mr. Ollivander, scooping
up the flowers and handing them to Fleur with her wand. “Mr. Diggory, you next.”
Fleur glided back to her seat, smiling at Cedric as he passed her.
“ Ah, now, this is one of mine, isn’ t it?” said Mr. Ollivander, with much more
enthusiasm, as Cedric handed over his wand. “ Yes, I remember it well. Containing a
single hair from the tail of a part icularly fine male unicorn. . . must have been
seventeen hands; nearly gored me with his horn after I plucked his tail. Twelve and a
quarter inches. . . ash. . . pleasant ly springy. It ’ s in fine condit ion…You t reat it
regularly?”
“Polished it last night,” said Cedric, grinning.
Harry hooked down at his own wand. He could see f inger marks all over it . He
gathered a fist ful of robe from his knee and t ried to rub it clean surrept it iously.
Several gold sparks shot out of the end of it . Fleur Delacour gave him a very
patronizing look, and he desisted.
Mr. Ollivander sent a st ream of silver smoke rings across the room from the t ip
of Cedric’ s wand, pronounced himself sat isf ied, and then said, “Mr. Krum, if you
please.”
Viktor Krum got up and slouched, round-shouldered and duck-footed, toward
Mr. Ollivander. He thrust out his wand and stood scowling, with his hands in the
pockets of his robes.
“ Hmm,” said Mr. Olhivander, “ this is a Gregorovitch creat ion, unless I’m much
mistaken? A fine wand-maker, though the styling is never quite what I. . . however. .”
He lifted the wand and examined it minutely, turning it over and over before
his eyes.
“ Yes.. . hornbeam and dragon heartst ring?” he shot at Krum, who nodded.
“Rather thicker than one usually sees. . . quite rigid. . . ten and a quarter inches. . .
Avis!”
The hornbeam wand let off a blast hike a gun, and a number of small,
twit tering birds flew out of the end and through the open window into the watery
sunlight.
“Good,” said Mr. Ollivander, handing Krum back his wand. “Which leaves. . .
Mr. Potter.”
Harry got to his feet and walked past Krum to Mr. Ollivander. He handed over
his wand.
“ Aaaah, yes,” said Mr. Ohlivander, his pale eyes suddenly gleaming. “ Yes, yes,
yes. How well I remember.”
Harry could remember too. He could remember it as though it had happened
yesterday….
Four summers ago, on his eleventh birthday, he had entered Mr. Ollivander’ s
shop with Hagrid to buy a wand. Mr. Ollivander had taken his measurements and then
started handing him wands to t ry. Harry had waved what felt like every wand in the
shop, unt il at last he had found the one that suited him – this one, which was made of
holly, eleven inches long, and contained a single feather from the tail of a phoenix.
Mr. Ollivander had been very surprised that Harry had been so compat ible with this
wand. “ Curious,” he had said, “ curious,” and not unt il Harry asked what was curious
had Mr. Olhivander explained that the phoenix feather in Harry’ s wand had come from
the same bird that had supplied the core of Lord Voldemort’s.
Harry had never shared this piece of informat ion with anybody. He was very
fond of his wand, and as far as he was concerned its relat ion to Voldemort ’ s wand was
something it couldn’ t help – rather as he couldn’ t help being related to Aunt Petunia.
However, he really hoped that Mr. Ollivander wasn’ t about to tell the room about it .
He had a funny feeling Rita Skeeter’ s Quick-Quotes Quill might j ust explode with
excitement if he did.
Mr. Ollivander spent much longer examining Harry’ s wand than anyone else’ s.
Eventually, however, he made a fountain of wine shoot out of it, and handed it back to
Harry, announcing that it was still in perfect condition.
“ Thank you all,” said Dumbledore, standing up at the j udges’ table. “ You may
go back to your lessons now – or perhaps it would be quicker just to go down to dinner,
as they are about to end –“
Feeling that at last something had gone right today, Harry got up to leave, but
the man with the black camera jumped up and cleared his throat.
“ Photos, Dumbledore, photos!” cried Bagman excitedly. “ All the j udges and
champions, what do you think, Rita?”
“Er – yes, let ’ s do those f irst ,” said Rita Skeeter, whose eyes were upon Harry
again. “And then perhaps some individual shots.”
The photographs took a long t ime. Madame Maxime cast everyone else into
shadow wherever she stood, and the photographer couldn’ t stand far enough back to
get her into the frame; eventually she had to sit while everyone else stood around her.
Karkaroff kept twirling his goatee around his finger to give it an ext ra curl; Krum,
whom Harry would have thought would have been used to this sort of thing, skulked,
half-hidden, at the back of the group. The photographer seemed keenest to get Fleur
at the front , but Rita Skeeter kept hurrying forward and dragging Harry into greater
prominence. Then she insisted on separate shots of all the champions. At last , they
were free to go.
Harry went down to dinner. Hermione wasn’ t there – he supposed she was st ill
in the hospital wing having her teeth fixed. He ate alone at the end of the table, then
returned to Gryffindor Tower, thinking of all the ext ra work on Summoning Charms
that he had to do. Up in the dormitory, he came across Ron.
“ You’ ve had an owl,” said Ron brusquely the moment he walked in. He was
pointing at Harry’s pillow. The school barn owl was waiting for him there.
“Oh – right,” said Harry.
“ And we’ ve got to do our detent ions tomorrow night , Snape’ s dungeon,” said
Ron.
He then walked st raight out of the room, not looking at Harry. For a moment ,
Harry considered going after him – he wasn’ t sure whether he wanted to talk to him or
hit him, both seemed quite appealing – but the lure of Sirius’ s answer was too st rong.
Harry strode over to the barn owl, took the letter off its leg, and unrolled it.
Harry –
I can’t say everything I would like to in a letter, it’s too risky
in case t he owl is int ercept ed – we need t o talk face-to-face. Can you
ensure that you are alone by the fire in Gryffindor Tower at one o’clock
in the morning on the 22nd ofNovember?
I know bet t er t han anyone t hat you can look af t er yoursel f and
while you’re around Dumbledore and Moody I don’t think anyone will be
able t o hurt you. However, someone seems t o be having a good t ry.
Ent ering you in that t ournament would have been very risky, especial ly
right under Dumbkdore’s nose.
Be on t he wat ch, Harry. I st il l want t o hear about anyt hing
unusual . Let me know about t he 22nd ofNovember as quickly as you
can.
Sirius
CHAPTER NINETEEN – THE HUNGARIAN HORNTAIL
The prospect of talking face-to-face with Sirius was all that sustained Harry
over the next fortnight , the only bright spot on a horizon that had never looked
darker. The shock of finding himself school champion had worn off slight ly now, and
the fear of what was facing him had started to sink in. The first task was drawing
steadily nearer; he felt as though it were crouching ahead of him hike some horrific
monster, barring his path. He had never suf fered nerves like these; they were way
beyond anything he had experienced before a Quidditch match, not even his last one
against Slytherin, which had decided who would win the Quidditch Cup. Harry was
finding it hard to think about the future at all; he felt as though his whole life had
been heading up to, and would finish with, the first task.
Admit tedly, he didn’ t see how Sirius was going to make him feel any bet ter
about having to perform an unknown piece of diff icult and dangerous magic in front of
hundreds of people, but the mere sight of a friendly face would be something at the
moment . Harry wrote back to Sirius saying that he would be beside the common room
fire at the t ime Sirius had suggested; and he and Hermione spent a long t ime going
over plans for forcing any st ragglers out of the common room on the night in quest ion.
If the worst came to the worst , they were going to drop a bag of Dungbombs, but they
hoped they wouldn’t have to resort to that – Filch would skin them alive.
In the meant ime, life became even worse for Harry within the confines of the
cast le, for Rita Skeeter had published her piece about the Triwizard Tournament , and
it had turned out to be not so much a report on the tournament as a highly colored life
story of Harry. Much of the f ront page had been given over to a picture of Harry; the
art icle (cont inuing on pages two, six, and seven) had been all about Harry, the names
of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang champions (misspelled) had been squashed into
the last line of the article, and Cedric hadn’t been mentioned at all.
The art icle had appeared ten days ago, and Harry st ill got a sick, burning
feeling of shame in his stomach every t ime he thought about it . Rita Skeeter had
reported him saying an awful lot of things that he couldn’t remember ever saying in his
life, let alone in that broom cupboard.
I suppose I get my st rength from my parents. I know they’ d be very
proud of me if they could see me now. . . . Yes, somet imes at night I
st ill cry about them, I’m not ashamed to admit it . . . . I know nothing
will hurt me during the tournament , because they’ re watching over me.
. .
But Rita Skeeter had gone even further than t ransforming his “ er’ s” into long,
sickly sentences: She had interviewed other people about him too.
Harry has at last found love at Hogwarts. His close friend, Colin
Creevey, says that Harry is rarely seen out of the company of one
Hermione Granger, a stunningly pret ty Muggle-born girl who, like Harry,
is one of the top students in the school.
From the moment the art icle had appeared, Harry had had to endure people —
Slytherins, mainly — quoting it at him as he passed and making sneering comments.
“Want a hanky, Potter, in case you start crying in Transfiguration?”
“ Since when have you been one of the top students in the school, Pot ter? Or is
this a school you and Longbottom have set up together?”
“Hey – Harry!”
“Yeah, that’s right!” Harry found himself shouting as he wheeled around in the
corridor, having had j ust about enough. “ I’ ve j ust been crying my eyes out over my
dead mum, and I’m just off to do a bit more. . .
“No – it was just – you dropped your quill.”
It was Cho. Harry felt the color rising in his face.
“Oh – right – sorry,” he muttered, taking the quill back.
“Er. . . good luck on Tuesday,” she said. “I really hope you do well.”
Which left Harry feeling extremely stupid.
Hermione had come in for her fair share of unpleasantness too, but she hadn’ t
yet started yelling at innocent bystanders; in fact , Harry was full of admirat ion for the
way she was handling the situation.
“ St unningly pret t y?Her?” Pansy Parkinson had shrieked the first t ime she had
come face-to-face with Hermione after Rita’ s art icle had appeared. “What was she
judging against – a chipmunk?”
“ Ignore it ,” Hermione said in a dignified voice, holding her head in the air and
stalking past the sniggering Slytherin girls as though she couldn’ t hear them. “ Just
ignore it, Harry.”
But Harry couldn’ t ignore it . Ron hadn’ t spoken to him at all since he had told
him about Snape’s detentions. Harry had half hoped they would make things up during
the two hours they were forced to pickle rats’ brains in Snape’ s dungeon, but that had
been the day Rita’ s art icle had appeared, which seemed to have confirmed Ron’ s
belief that Harry was really enjoying all the attention.
Hermione was furious with the pair of them; she went from one to the other,
t rying to force them to talk to each other, but Harry was adamant : He would talk to
Ron again only if Ron admit ted that Harry hadn’ t put his name in the Goblet of Fire
and apologized for calling him a liar.
“I didn’t start this,” Harry said stubbornly. “It’s his problem.”
“You miss him!” Hermione said impatiently. “And I know he misses you -“
“Miss him?” said Harry. “I don’t miss him. . .
But this was a downright lie. Harry liked Hermione very much, but she j ust
wasn’t the same as Ron. There was much hess laughter and a lot more hanging around
in the library when Hermione was your best friend. Harry st ill hadn’ t mastered
Summoning Charms, he seemed to have developed something of a block about them,
and Hermione insisted that learning the theory would help. They consequently spent a
lot of time poring over books during their lunchtimes.
Viktor Krum was in the library an awful lot too, and Harry wondered what he
was up to. Was he studying, or was he looking for things to help him through the f irst
task? Hermione often complained about Krum being there – not that he ever bothered
them – but because groups of giggling girls often turned up to spy on him from behind
bookshelves, and Hermione found the noise distracting.
“ He’ s not even good-looking!” she mut tered angrily, glaring at Krum’ s sharp
profile. “ They only like him because he’ s famous! They wouldn’ t look twice at him if
he couldn’t do that WonkyFaint thing -“
“Wronski Feint ,” said Harry, through grit ted teeth. Quite apart from liking to
get Quidditch terms correct, it caused him another pang to imagine Ron’s expression if
he could have heard Hermione talking about Wonky-Faints.
It is a st range thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give
anything to slow down t ime, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up. The days unt il
the f irst task seemed to slip by as though someone had fixed the clocks to work at
double speed. Harry’ s feeling of barely cont rolled panic was with him wherever he
went, as everpresent as the snide comments about the Daily Prophet article.
On the Saturday before the f irst task, all students in the third year and above
were permit ted to visit the village of Hogsmeade. Hermione told Harry that it would
do him good to get away from the cast le for a bit , and Harry didn’ t need much
persuasion.
“What about Ron, though?” he said. “Don’t you want to go with him?”
“Oh. . . well.. .“ Hermione went slight ly pink. “ I thought we might meet up
with him in the Three Broomsticks. . . .“
“No,” said Harry flatly.
“Oh Harry, this is so stupid -“
“I’ll come, but I’m not meeting Ron, and I’m wearing my Invisibility Cloak.”
“Oh all right then. . .“ Hermione snapped, “ but I hate talking to you in that
cloak, I never know if I’m looking at you or not.”
So Harry put on his Invisibility Cloak in the dormitory, went back downstairs,
and together he and Hermione set off for Hogsmeade.
Harry felt wonderfully free under the cloak; he watched other students walking
past them as they entered the village, most of them sport ing Support Cedric Diggory!
badges, but no horrible remarks came his way for a change, and nobody was quot ing
that stupid article.
“ People keep looking at me now,” said Hermione grumpily as they came out of
Honeydukes Sweetshop later, eat ing large cream-filled chocolates. “ They think I’m
talking to myself.”
“Don’t move your lips so much then.”
“Come on, please j ust take off your cloak for a bit , no one’ s going to bother
you here.”
“Oh yeah?” said Harry. “Look behind you.”
Rita Skeeter and her photographer friend had j ust emerged from the Three
Broomst icks pub. Talking in low voices, they passed right by Hermione without
hooking at her. Harry backed into the wall of Honeydukes to stop Rita Skeeter from
hit t ing him with her crocodile-skin handbag. When they were gone, Harry said, “ She’ s
staying in the village. I bet she’s coming to watch the first task.”
As he said it , his stomach flooded with a wave of molten panic. He didn’ t
ment ion this; he and Hermione hadn’ t discussed what was coming in the first task
much; he had the feeling she didn’t want to think about it.
“She’s gone,” said Hermione, looking right through Harry toward the end of the
st reet . “Why don’ t we go and have a but terbeer in the Three Broomst icks, it ’ s a bit
cold, isn’ t it? You don’ t have to talk to Ron!” she added irritably, correct ly
interpreting his silence.
The Three Broomst icks was packed, mainly with Hogwarts students enj oying
their f ree afternoon, but also with a variety of magical people Harry rarely saw
anywhere else. Harry supposed that as Hogsmeade was the only all-wizard village in
Britain, it was a bit of a haven for creatures like hags, who were not as adept as
wizards at disguising themselves.
It was very hard to move through crowds in the Invisibility Cloak, in case you
accidentally t rod on someone, which tended to lead to awkward quest ions. Harry
edged slowly toward a spare table in the corner while Hermione went to buy drinks.
On his way through the pub, Harry spot ted Ron, who was sit t ing with Fred, George,
and Lee Jordan. Resist ing the urge to give Ron a good hard poke in the back of the
head, he finally reached the table and sat down at it.
Hermione j oined him a moment later and slipped him a but terbeer under his
cloak.
“ I look like such an idiot , sit t ing here on my own,” she mut tered. “ Lucky I
brought something to do.”
And she pulled out a notebook in which she had been keeping a record of
S.P.E.W. members. Harry saw his and Ron’ s names at the top of the very short list . It
seemed a long t ime ago that they had sat making up those predict ions together, and
Hermione had turned up and appointed them secretary and treasurer.
“ You know, maybe I should t ry and get some of the villagers involved in
S.P.E.W.,” Hermione said thoughtfully, looking around the pub.
“ Yeah, right ,” said Harry. He took a swig of but terbeer under his cloak.
“Hermione, when are you going to give up on this spew stuff?”
“When house-elves have decent wages and working condit ions!” she hissed
back. “ You know, I’m start ing to think it ’ s t ime for more direct act ion. I wonder how
you get into the school kitchens?”
“No idea, ask Fred and George,” said Harry.
Hermione lapsed into thought ful silence, while Harry drank his but terbeer,
watching the people in the pub. All of them looked cheerful and relaxed. Ernie
Macmillan and Hannah Abbot were swapping Chocolate Frog cards at a nearby table;
both of them sport ing Support Cedric Diggory! badges on their cloaks. Right over by
the door he saw Cho and a large group of her Ravenclaw friends. She wasn’t wearing a
Cedric badge though. . . . This cheered up Harry very slightly.
What wouldn’ t he have given to be one of these peophe, sit t ing around
laughing and talking, with nothing to worry about but homework? He imagined how it
would have felt to be here if his name hadn’t come out of the Goblet of Fire. He
wouldn’ t be wearing the Invisibility Cloak, for one thing. Ron would be sit t ing with
him. The three of them would probably be happily imagining what deadly dangerous
task the school champions would be facing on Tuesday. He’d have been really hooking
forward to it , watching them do whatever it was…cheering on Cedric with everyone
else, safe in a seat at the back of the stands…
He wondered how the other champions were feeling. Every t ime he had seen
Cedric lately, he had been surrounded by admirers and looking nervous but excited.
Harry glimpsed Fleur Delacour from t ime to t ime in the corridors; she looked exact ly
as she always did, haughty and unruffled. And Krum just sat in the library, poring over
books.
Harry thought of Sirius, and the t ight , tense knot in his chest seemed to ease
slight ly. He would be speaking to him in j ust over twelve hours, for tonight was the
night they were meet ing at the common room fire – assuming nothing went wrong, as
everything else had done lately…
“Look, it’s Hagrid!” said Hermione.
The back of Hagrid’ s enormous shaggy head – he had mercifully abandoned his
bunches – emerged over the crowd. Harry wondered why he hadn’ t spot ted him at
once, as Hagrid was so large, but standing up carefully, he saw that Hagrid had been
leaning low, talking to Professor Moody. Hagrid had his usual enormous tankard in
front of him, but Moody was drinking from his hip flask. Madam Rosmerta, the pret ty
landlady, didn’ t seem to think much of this; she was looking askance at Moody as she
collected glasses from tables around them. Perhaps she thought it was an insult to her
mulled mead, but Harry knew bet ter. Moody had told them all during their last
Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson that he preferred to prepare his own food and
drink at all times, as it was so easy for Dark wizards to poison an unattended cup.
As Harry watched, he saw Hagrid and Moody get up to leave. He waved, then
remembered that Hagrid couldn’ t see him. Moody, however, paused, his magical eye
on the corner where Harry was standing. He tapped Hagrid in the small of the back
(being unable to reach his shoulder), mut tered something to him, and then the pair of
them made their way back across the pub toward Harry and Hermione’s table.
“All right, Hermione?” said Hagrid loudly.
“Hello,” said Hermione, smiling back.
Moody limped around the table and bent down; Harry thought he was reading
the S.P.E.W. notebook, until he muttered, “Nice cloak, Potter.”
Harry stared at him in amazement . The large chunk missing from Moody’ s nose
was particularly obvious at a few inches’ distance. Moody grinned.
“Can your eye – I mean, can you – ?“
“ Yeah, it can see through Invisibility Cloaks,” Moody said quiet ly. “ And it ’ s
come in useful at times, I can tell you.”
Hagrid was beaming down at Harry too. Harry knew Hagrid couldn’ t see him,
but Moody had obviously told Hagrid he was there. Hagrid now bent down on the
pretext of reading the S.P.E.W. notebook as well, and said in a whisper so low that
only Harry could hear it , “ Harry, meet me tonight at midnight at me cabin. Wear that
cloak.”
St raightening up, Hagrid said loudly, “ Nice ter see yeh, Hermione,” winked,
and departed. Moody followed him.
“Why does Hagrid want me to meet him at midnight?” Harry said, very
surprised.
“Does he?” said Hermione, looking startled. “I wonder what he’s up to? I don’t
know whether you should go, Harry. . . .“ She looked nervously around and hissed, “ It
might make you late for Sirius.”
It was t rue that going down to Hagrid’ s at midnight would mean cut t ing his
meet ing with Sirius very fine indeed; Hermione suggested sending Hedwig down to
Hagrid’ s to tell him he couldn’ t go – always assuming she would consent to take the
note, of course – Harry, however, thought it better just to be quick at whatever Hagrid
wanted him for. He was very curious to know what this might be; Hagrid had never
asked Harry to visit him so late at night.
At half past eleven that evening, Harry, who had pretended to go up to bed
early, pulled the Invisibility Cloak back over himself and crept back downstairs through
the common room. Quite a few people were st ill in there. The Creevey brothers had
managed to get hold of a stack of Support Cedric Diggory! badges and were t rying to
bewitch them to make them say Support Harry Pot t er! instead. So far, however, all
they had managed to do was get the badges stuck on POTTER STINKS. Harry crept past
them to the port rait hole and waited for a minute or so, keeping an eye on his watch.
Then Hermione opened the Fat Lady for him from outside as they had planned. He
slipped past her with a whispered “Thanks!” and set off through the castle.
The grounds were very dark. Harry walked down the lawn toward the lights
shining in Hagrid’ s cabin. The inside of the enormous Beauxbatons carriage was also
lit up; Harry could hear Madame Maxime talking inside it as he knocked on Hagrid’ s
front door.
“You there, Harry?” Hagrid whispered, opening the door and looking around.
“ Yeah,” said Harry, slipping inside the cabin and pulling the cloak down off his
head. “What’s up?”
“Got summat ter show yeh,” said Hagrid.
There was an air of enormous excitement about Hagrid. He was wearing a
flower that resembled an oversized artichoke in his buttonhole. It looked as though he
had abandoned the use of axle grease, but he had certainly at tempted to comb his
hair – Harry could see the comb’s broken teeth tangled in it.
“What’re you showing me?” Harry said warily, wondering if the skrewts had laid
eggs, or Hagrid had managed to buy another giant three-headed dog off a stranger in a
pub.
“ Come with me, keep quiet , an’ keep yerself covered with that cloak,” said
Hagrid. “We won’ take Fang, he won’ like it. . .
“ Listen, Hagrid, I can’ t stay long. . . . I’ ve got to be back up at the cast le by
one o’clock -“
But Hagrid wasn’ t listening; he was opening the cabin door and st riding of f into
the night . Harry hurried to follow and found, to his great surprise, that Hagrid was
leading him to the Beauxbatons carriage.
“Hagrid, what – ?“
“ Shhh!” said Hagrid, and he knocked three t imes on the door bearing the
crossed golden wands.
Madame Maxime opened it . She was wearing a silk shawl wrapped around her
massive shoulders. She smiled when she saw Hagrid.
“Ah, ‘Agrid . . . it is time?”
“Bong-sewer,” said Hagrid, beaming at her, and holding out a hand to help her
down the golden steps.
Madame Maxime closed the door behind her, Hagrid offered her his arm, and
they set off around the edge of the paddock containing Madame Maxime’ s giant
winged horses, with Harry, totally bewildered, running to keep up with them. Had
Hagrid wanted to show him Madame Maxime? He could see her any old t ime he
wanted.. . she wasn’t exactly hard to miss….
But it seemed that Madame Maxime was in for the same treat as Harry, because
after a while she said playfully, “Wair is it you are taking me, ‘Agrid?”
“ Yeh’ ll enj oy this,” said Hagrid gruffly, “ worth seein’ , t rust me. On’ y – don’ go
tellin’ anyone I showed yeh, right? Yeh’re not s’posed ter know.”
“Of course not,” said Madame Maxime, fluttering her long black eyelashes.
And still they walked, Harry getting more and more irritated as he jogged along
in their wake, checking his watch every now and then. Hagrid had some harebrained
scheme in hand, which might make him miss Sirius. If they didn’ t get there soon, he
was going to turn around, go st raight back to the cast le, and leave Hagrid to enj oy his
moonlit stroll with Madame Maxime.
But then – when they had walked so far around the perimeter of the forest that
the cast le and the lake were out of sight –Harry heard something. Men were shout ing
up ahead. . . then came a deafening, earsplitting roar. . .
Hagrid led Madame Maxime around a clump of t rees and came to a halt . Harry
hurried up alongside them – for a split second, he thought he was seeing bonfires, and
men darting around them – and then his mouth fell open.
Dragons.
Four fully grown, enormous, vicious-looking dragons were rearing onto their
hind legs inside an enclosure fenced with thick planks of wood, roaring and snort ing –
torrents of fire were shoot ing into the dark sky from their open, fanged mouths, fifty
feet above the ground on their outst retched necks. There was a silvery-blue one with
long, pointed horns, snapping and snarling at the wizards on the ground; a smoothscaled
green one, which was writhing and stamping with all its might ; a red one with
an odd fringe of fine gold spikes around its face, which was shooting mushroom-shaped
fire clouds into the air; and a gigant ic black one, more lizard-hike than the others,
which was nearest to them.
At least thirty wizards, seven or eight to each dragon, were at tempt ing to
cont rol them, pulling on the chains connected to heavy leather st raps around their
necks and legs. Mesmerized, Harry looked up, high above him, and saw the eyes of the
black dragon, with vert ical pupils like a cat ’ s, bulging with either fear or rage, he
couldn’t tell which. . . . It was making a horrible noise, a yowling, screeching scream.
“ Keep back there, Hagrid!” yelled a wizard near the fence, st raining on the
chain he was holding. “ They can shoot fire at a range of twenty feet , you know! I’ ve
seen this Horntail do forty!”
“Is’n’ it beautiful?” said Hagrid softly.
“ It ’ s no good!” yelled another wizard. “ Stunning Spells, on the count of
three!”
Harry saw each of the dragon keepers pull out his wand.
“ St upefy!” they shouted in unison, and the Stunning Spells shot into the
darkness like fiery rockets, bursting in showers of stars on the dragons’ scaly hides –
Harry watched the dragon nearest to them teeter dangerously on its back legs;
its j aws st retched wide in a silent howl; its nost rils were suddenly devoid of flame,
though st ill smoking – then, very slowly, it fell. Several tons of sinewy, scaly-black
dragon hit the ground with a thud that Harry could have sworn made the t rees behind
him quake.
The dragon keepers lowered their wands and walked forward to their fallen
charges, each of which was the size of a small hill. They hurried to t ighten the chains
and fasten them securely to iron pegs, which they forced deep into the ground with
their wands.
“Wan’ a closer look?” Hagrid asked Madame Maxime excitedly. The pair of
them moved right up to the fence, and Harry followed. The wizard who had warned
Hagrid not to come any closer turned, and Harry realized who it was: Charlie Weasley.
“All right, Hagrid?” he panted, coming over to talk. “They should be okay now
– we put them out with a Sleeping Draft on the way here, thought it might be bet ter
for them to wake up in the dark and the quiet – but, like you saw, they weren’t happy,
not happy at all -“
“What breeds you got here, Charlie?” said Hagrid, gazing at the closest dragon,
the black one, with something chose to reverence. Its eyes were still just open. Harry
could see a strip of gleaming yellow beneath its wrinkled black eyelid.
“ This is a Hungarian Horntail,” said Charlie. “ There’ s a Common Welsh Green
over there, the smaller one — a Swedish Short -Snout , that blue-gray — and a Chinese
Fireball, that’s the red.”
Charlie looked around; Madame Maxime was st rolling away around the edge of
the enclosure, gazing at the stunned dragons.
“ I didn’ t know you were bringing her, Hagrid,” Charlie said, frowning. “ The
champions aren’ t supposed to know what ’ s coming – she’ s bound to tell her student ,
isn’t she?”
“ Jus’ thought she’ d like ter see ‘ em,” shrugged Hagrid, st ill gazing,
enraptured, at the dragons.
“Really romantic date, Hagrid,” said Charlie, shaking his head.
“ Four. . .“ said Hagrid, “ so it ’ s one fer each o’ the champions, is it? What ’ ve
they gotta do – fight ‘em?”
“ Just get past them, I think,” said Charlie. “We’ ll be on hand if it gets nasty,
Ext inguishing Spells at the ready. They wanted nest ing mothers, I don’ t know why. . .
but I tell you this, I don’ t envy the one who gets the Horntail. Vicious thing. Its back
end’s as dangerous as its front, look.”
Charlie pointed toward the Horntail’ s tail, and Harry saw long, bronze-colored
spikes protruding along it every few inches.
Five of Charlie’ s fellow keepers staggered up to the Horntail at that moment ,
carrying a clutch of huge granite-gray eggs between them in a blanket . They placed
them carefully at the Horntail’s side. Hagrid let out a moan of longing.
“ I’ ve got them counted, Hagrid,” said Charlie sternly. Then he said, “ How’ s
Harry?”
“Fine,” said Hagrid. He was still gazing at the eggs.
“ Just hope he’ s st ill fine after he’ s faced this lot ,” said Charlie grimly, looking
out over the dragons’ enclosure. “ I didn’ t dare tell Mum what he’ s got to do for the
first task; she’ s already having kit tens about him. . . .“ Charlie imitated his mother’ s
anxious voice. “ How could t hey let him ent er t hat t ournament , he’ s much too young!
I thought they were all safe, I thought there was going to be an age limit!’ She was in
floods after that Daily Prophet article about him. ‘He still cries about his parents! Oh
bless him, I never knew!”
Harry had had enough. Trusting to the fact that Hagrid wouldn’t miss him, with
the at t ract ions of four dragons and Madame Maxime to occupy him, he turned silent ly
and began to walk away, back to the castle.
He didn’ t know whether he was glad he’ d seen what was coming or not .
Perhaps this way was bet ter. The first shock was over now. Maybe if he’ d seen the
dragons for the first t ime on Tuesday, he would have passed out cold in front of the
whole school. . . but maybe he would anyway. .. . He was going to be armed with his
wand – which, just now, felt like nothing more than a narrow strip of wood — against a
fifty-foot-high, scaly, spike-ridden, fire-breathing dragon. And he had to get past it .
With everyone watching. How?
Harry sped up, skirt ing the edge of the forest ; he had j ust under fifteen
minutes to get back to the fireside and talk to Sirius, and he couldn’t remember, ever,
want ing to talk to someone more than he did right now — when, without warning, he
ran into something very solid.
Harry fell backward, his glasses askew, clutching the cloak around him. A voice
nearby said, “Ouch! Who’s there?”
Harry hastily checked that the cloak was covering him and hay very still, staring
up at the dark out line of the wizard he had hit . He recognized the goatee. . . it was
Karkaroff.
“Who’ s there?” said Karkaroff again, very suspiciously, looking around in the
darkness. Harry remained st ill and silent . Af ter a minute or so, Karkaroff seemed to
decide that he had hit some sort of animal; he was looking around at waist height , as
though expect ing to see a dog. Then he crept back under the cover of the t rees and
started to edge forward toward the place where the dragons were.
Very slowly and very carefully, Harry got to his feet and set of f again as fast as
he could without making too much noise, hurrying through the darkness back toward
Hogwarts.
He had no doubt whatsoever what Karkaroff was up to. He had sneaked off his
ship to t ry and find out what the first task was going to be. He might even have
spot ted Hagrid and Madame Maxime heading off around the forest together – they
were hardly diff icult to spot at a distance. . . and now all Karkaroff had to do was follow
the sound of voices, and he, like Madame Maxime, would know what was in store
for the champions.
By the looks of it , the only champion who would be facing the unknown on
Tuesday was Cedric.
Harry reached the cast le, slipped in through the front doors, and began to
climb the marble stairs; he was very out of breath, but he didn’ t dare slow down. . . .
He had less than five minutes to get up to the fire.
“ Balderdash!” he gasped at the Fat Lady, who was snoozing in her frame in
front of the portrait hole.
“ If you say so,” she mut tered sleepily, without opening her eyes, and the
picture swung forward to admit him. Harry climbed inside. The common room was
deserted, and, j udging by the fact that it smelled quite normal, Hermione had not
needed to set off any Dungbombs to ensure that he and Sirius got privacy.
Harry pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and threw himself into an armchair in
front of the fire. The room was in semidarkness; the flames were the only source of
light . Nearby, on a table, the Support Cedric Diggory! badges the Creeveys had been
t rying to improve were glint ing in the firelight . They now read POTTER REALLY
STINKS. Harry looked back into the flames, and jumped.
Sirius’s head was sitting in the fire. If Harry hadn’t seen Mr. Diggory do exactly
this back in the Weasleys’ kitchen, it would have scared him out of his wits. Instead,
his face breaking into the f irst smile he had worn for days, he scrambled out of his
chair, crouched down by the hearth, and said, “Sirius – how’re you doing?”
Sirius looked different from Harry’ s memory of him. When they had said goodbye,
Sirius’ s face had been gaunt and sunken, surrounded by a quant ity of long, black,
mat ted hair – but the hair was short and clean now, Sirius’ s face was fuller, and he
looked younger, much more like the only photograph Harry had of him, which had
been taken at the Potters’ wedding.
“Never mind me, how are you?” said Sirius seriously.
“I’m -“ For a second, Harry t ried to say “ fine” – but he couldn’ t do it . Before
he could stop himself, he was talking more than he’ d talked in days – about how no
one believed he hadn’ t entered the tournament of his own free will, how Rita Skeeter
had lied about him in the Daily Prophet, how he couldn’t walk down a corridor without
being sneered at – and about Ron, Ron not believing him, Ron’s jealousy…
“ . . . and now Hagrid’ s j ust shown me what ’ s coming in the first task, and it ’ s
dragons, Sirius, and I’m a goner,” he finished desperately.
Sirius looked at him, eyes full of concern, eyes that had not yet lost the look
that Azkaban had given them – that deadened, haunted look He had let Harry talk
himself into silence without interrupt ion, but now he said, “ Dragons we can deal with,
Harry, but we’ ll get to that in a minute – I haven’ t got long here. . . I’ ve broken into a
wizarding house to use the fire, but they could be back at any time. There are things I
need to warn you about.”
“What?” said Harry, feeling his spirits slip a further few notches.. . . Surely
there could be nothing worse than dragons coming?
“ Karkaroff,” said Sirius. “ Harry, he was a Death Eater. You know what Death
Eaters are, don’t you?”
“Yes – he – what?”
“ He was caught , he was in Azkaban with me, but he got released. I’ d bet
everything that ’ s why Dumbledore wanted an Auror at Hogwarts this year – to keep an
eye on him. Moody caught Karkaroff. Put him into Azkaban in the first place.”
“ Karkaroff got released?” Harry said slowly – his brain seemed to be st ruggling
to absorb yet another piece of shocking information. “Why did they release him?”
“ He did a deal with the Minist ry of Magic,” said Sirius bit terly. “ He said he’ d
seen the error of his ways, and then he named names. . . he put a load of other people
into Azkaban in his place. . . . He’s not very popular in there, I can tell you. And since
he got out , from what I can tell, he’ s been teaching the Dark Arts to every student
who passes through that school of his. So watch out for the Durmst rang champion as
well.”
“Okay,” said Harry slowly. “ But . . . are you saying Karkaroff put my name in
the goblet? Because if he did, he’ s a really good actor. He seemed furious about it .
He wanted to stop me from competing.”
“We know he’ s a good actor,” said Sirius, “ because he convinced the Minist ry
of Magic to set him free, didn’ t he? Now, I’ ve been keeping an eye on the Daily
Prophet, Harry..”
“ – you and the rest of the world,” said Harry bitterly.
“ – and reading between the lines of that Skeeter woman’ s art icle last month,
Moody was at tacked the night before he started at Hogwarts. Yes, I know she says it
was another false alarm,” Sirius said hast ily, seeing Harry about to speak, “ but I don’ t
think so, somehow. I think someone t ried to stop him from get t ing to Hogwarts. I
think someone knew their j ob would be a lot more difficult with him around. And no
one’ s going to look into it too closely; Mad-Eye’ s heard int ruders a bit too often. But
that doesn’ t mean he can’ t st ill spot the real thing. Moody was the best Auror the
Ministry ever had.”
“So. . . what are you saying?” said Harry slowly. “Karkaroff’s trying to kill me?
But – why?”
Sirius hesitated.
“ I’ ve been nearing some very st range things,” he said slowly. “ The Death
Eaters seem to be a bit more act ive than usual lately. They showed themselves at the
Quidditch World Cup, didn’ t they? Someone set off the Dark Mark.. . and then – did
you hear about that Ministry of Magic witch who’s gone missing?”
“Bertha Jorkins?” said Harry.
“ Exact ly. . . she disappeared in Albania, and that ’ s definitely where Voldemort
was rumored to be last . . . and she would have known the Triwizard Tournament was
coming up, wouldn’t she?”
“ Yeah, but . . . it ’ s not very likely she’ d have walked st raight into Voldemort , is
it?” said Harry.
“ Listen, I knew Bertha Jorkins,” said Sirius grimly. “ She was at Hogwarts when
I was, a few years above your dad and me. And she was an idiot . Very nosy, but no
brains, none at all. It ’ s not a good combinat ion, Harry. I’ d say she’ d be very easy to
lure into a trap.”
“So. . . so Voldemort could have found out about the tournament?” said Harry.
“Is that what you mean? You think Karkaroff might be here on his orders?”
“ I don’ t know,” said Sirius slowly, “ I j ust don’ t know…Karkaroff doesn’ t st rike
me as the type who’ d go back to Voldemort unless he knew Voldemort was powerful
enough to protect him. But whoever put your name in that goblet did it for a reason,
and I can’ t help thinking the tournament would be a very good way to at tack you and
make it hook like an accident.”
“ Looks hike a really good plan from where I’m standing,” said Harry grinning
bleaky. “They’ll just have to stand back and let the dragons do their stuff.”
“Right – these dragons,” said Sirius, speaking very quickly now. “ There’ s a
way, Harry. Don’ t be tempted to t ry a Stunning Spell – dragons are st rong and too
powerfully magical to be knocked out by a single Stunner, you need about half a dozen
wizards at a time to overcome a dragon -“
“Yeah, I know, I just saw,” said Harry.
“ But you can do it alone,” said Sirius. “ There is away, and a simple spell’ s all
you need. Just -“
But Harry held up a hand to silence him, his heart suddenly pounding as though
it would burst. He could hear footsteps coming down the spiral staircase behind him.
“Go!” he hissed at Sirius. “ Go! There’s someone coming!”
Harry scrambled to his feet, hiding the fire – if someone saw Sirius’s face within
the walls of Hogwarts, they would raise an almighty uproar – the Minist ry would get
dragged in – he, Harry, would be questioned about Sirius’s whereabouts –
Harry heard a t iny pop! in the fire behind him and knew Sirius had gone. He
watched the bot tom of the spiral staircase. Who had decided to go for a st roll at one
o’clock in the morning, and stopped Sirius from telling him how to get past a dragon?
It was Ron. Dressed in his maroon paisley paj amas, Ron stopped dead facing
Harry across the room, and looked around.
“Who were you talking to?” he said.
“What ’ s that got to do with you?” Harry snarled. “What are you doing down
here at this time of night?”
“ I j ust wondered where you -“ Ron broke off, shrugging. “ Nothing. I’m going
back to bed.”
“ Just thought you’ d come nosing around, did you?” Harry shouted. He knew
that Ron had no idea what he’ d walked in on, knew he hadn’ t done it on purpose, but
he didn’ t care – at this moment he hated everything about Ron, right down to the
several inches of bare ankle showing beneath his pajama trousers.
“ Sorry about that ,” said Ron, his face reddening with anger. “ Should’ ve
realized you didn’ t want to be disturbed. I’ ll let you get on with pract icing for your
next interview in peace.”
Harry seized one of the POTTER REALLY STINKS badges off the table and
chucked it , as hard as he could, across the room. It hit Ron on the forehead and
bounced off.
“There you go,” Harry said. “Something for you to wear on Tuesday. You might
even have a scar now, if yon’re lucky.. . . That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
He st rode across the room toward the stairs; he half expected Ron to stop him,
he would even have liked Ron to throw a punch at him, but Ron j ust stood there in his
too-small paj amas, and Harry, having stormed upstairs, lay awake in bed fuming for a
long time afterward and didn’t hear him come up to bed.
CHAPTER TWENTY – THE FIRST TASK
Harry got up on Sunday morning and dressed so inattentively that it was a while
before he realized he was trying to pull his hat onto his foot instead of his sock. When
he’ d finally got all his clothes on the right parts of his body, he hurried off to find
Hermione, locat ing her at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, where she was eat ing
breakfast with Ginny. Feeling too queasy to eat , Harry waited unt il Hermione had
swallowed her last spoonful of porridge, then dragged her out onto the grounds.
There, he told her all about the dragons, and about everything Sirius had said, while
they took another long walk around the lake.
Alarmed as she was by Sirius’s warnings about Karkaroff, Hermione still thought
that the dragons were the more pressing problem.
“ Let ’ s j ust t ry and keep you alive unt il Tuesday evening,” she said desperately,
“and then we can worry about Karkaroff.”
They walked three t imes around the lake, t rying all the way to think of a
simple spell that would subdue a dragon. Nothing whatsoever occurred to them, so
they ret ired to the library instead. Here, Harry pulled down every book he could find
on dragons, and both of them set to work searching through the large pile.
“Talon-cl ipping by charms. .. t reat ing scale-rot. . .‘ This is no good, this is for
nutters like Hagrid who want to keep them healthy. ..
“ Dragons are ext remely dif f icul t t o slay, owing to t he ancient magic t hat
imbues t heir t hick hides, which none but t he most powerful spel ls can penet rat e. . .‘
But Sirius said a simple one would do it.. .
“ Let ’ s t ry some simple spellbooks, then,” said Harry, throwing aside Men Who
Love Dragons Too Much.
He returned to the table with a pile of spellbooks, set them down, and began
to flick through each in turn, Hermione whispering nonstop at his elbow.
“Well, there are Switching Spells. . . but what ’ s the point of Switching it?
Unless you swapped its fangs for wine-gums or something that would make it less
dangerous.. . . The t rouble is, like that book said, not much is going to get through a
dragon’ s hide. . . . I’ d say Transfigure it , but something that big, you really haven’ t
got a hope, I doubt even Professor McGonagall. . . unless you’ re supposed to put the
spell on yoursel f? Maybe to give yourself ext ra powers? But they’re not simple spells,
I mean, we haven’ t done any of those in class, I only know about them because I’ ve
been doing O.W.L. practice papers. . . .“
“ Hermione,” Harry said, through grit ted teeth, “ will you shut up for a bit ,
please? I m trying to concentrate.”
But all that happened, when Hermione fell silent , was that Harry’ s brain filled
with a sort of blank buzzing, which didn’ t seem to allow room for concent rat ion. He
stared hopelessly down the index of Basic Hexes for t he Busy and Vexed. Inst ant
scalping. . . but dragons had no hair. . . pepper breath.. . that would probably increase
a dragon’ s firepower. . . horn t ongue. . . j ust what he needed, to give it an
extra weapon…
“Oh no, he’ s back again, why can’ t he read on his stupid ship?” said Hermione
irritably as Viktor Krum slouched in, cast a surly look over at the pair of them, and
set t led himself in a distant corner with a pile of books. “ Come on, Harry, we’ ll go
back to the common room. . . his fan club’ ll be here in a moment , twit tering away…
.“
And sure enough, as they left the library, a gang of girls tiptoed past them, one
of them wearing a Bulgaria scarf tied around her waist.
Harry barely slept that night . When he awoke on Monday morning, he seriously
considered for the first t ime ever j ust running away from Hogwarts. But as he looked
around the Great Hall at breakfast t ime, and thought about what leaving the cast le
would mean, he knew he couldn’ t do it . It was the only place he had ever been
happy. . . well, he supposed he must have been happy with his parents too, but he
couldn’t remember that.
Somehow, the knowledge that he would rather be here and facing a dragon
than back on Privet Drive with Dudley was good to know; it made him feel slight ly
calmer. He finished his bacon with difficulty (his throat wasn’ t working too well), and
as he and Hermione got up, he saw Cedric Diggory leaving the Hufflepuff table.
Cedric st ill didn’ t know about the dragons. . . the only champion who didn’ t , if
Harry was right in thinking that Maxime and Karkarof f would have told Fleur and
Krum….
“ Hermione, I’ ll see you in the greenhouses,” Harry said, coming to his decision
as he watched Cedric leaving the Hall. “Go on, I’ll catch you up.”
“Harry, you’ll be late, the bell’s about to ring -“
“I’ll catch you up, okay?”
By the t ime Harry reached the bot tom of the marble staircase, Cedric was at
the top. He was with a load of sixth-year friends. Harry didn’ t want to talk to Cedric
in front of them; they were among those who had been quot ing Rita Skeeter’ s art icle
at him every t ime he went near them. He followed Cedric at a distance and saw that
he was heading toward the Charms corridor. This gave Harry an idea. Pausing at a
distance from them, he pulled out his wand, and took careful aim.
“Diffindo!”
Cedric’s bag split. Parchment, quills, and books spilled out of it onto the floor.
Several bottles of ink smashed.
“ Don’ t bother,” said Cedric in an exasperated voice as his friends bent down to
help him. “Tell Flitwick I’m coming, go on. . .
This was exact ly what Harry had been hoping for. He slipped his wand back
into his robes, waited unt il Cedric’ s friends had disappeared into their classroom, and
hurried up the corridor, which was now empty of everyone but himself and Cedric.
“ Hi,” said Cedric, picking up a copy of A Guide t o Advanced Transf igurat ion
that was now splattered with ink. “My bag just split. . . brand-new and all. . .“
“Cedric,” said Harry, “the first task is dragons.”
“What?” said Cedric, looking up.
“ Dragons,” said Harry, speaking quickly, in case Professor Flitwick came out to
see where Cedric had got to. “ They’ ve got four, one for each of us, and we’ ve got to
get past them.”
Cedric stared at him. Harry saw some of the panic he’ d been feeling since
Saturday night flickering in Cedric’s gray eyes.
“Are you sure?” Cedric said in a hushed voice.
“Dead sure,” said Harry. “I’ve seen them.”
“But how did you find out? We’re not supposed to know. . . .“
“ Never mind,” said Harry quickly – he knew Hagrid would be in t rouble if he
told the t ruth. “ But I’m not the only one who knows. Fleur and Krum will know by
now – Maxime and Karkaroff both saw the dragons too.”
Cedric st raightened up, his arms full of inky quills, parchment , and books, his
ripped bag dangling off one shoulder. He stared at Harry, and there was a puzzled,
almost suspicious look in his eyes.
“Why are you telling me?” he asked.
Harry looked at him in disbelief. He was sure Cedric wouldn’ t have asked that
if he had seen the dragons himself. Harry wouldn’ t have let his worst enemy face
those monsters unprepared – well, perhaps Malfoy or Snape…
“ It ’ s j ust . . . fair, isn’ t it?” he said to Cedric. “We all know now. . . we’ re on
an even footing, aren’t we?”
Cedric was st ill hooking at him in a slight ly suspicious way when Harry heard a
familiar clunking noise behind him. He turned around and saw Mad-Eye Moody
emerging from a nearby classroom.
“Come with me, Potter,” he growled. “Diggory, off you go.”
Harry stared apprehensively at Moody. Had he overheard them?
“Er – Professor, I’m supposed to be in Herbology -“
“Never mind that, Potter. In my office, please…
Harry followed him, wondering what was going to happen to him now. What if
Moody wanted to know how he’ d found out about the dragons? Would Moody go to
Dumbledore and tell on Hagrid, or j ust turn Harry into a ferret? Well, it might be
easier to get past a dragon if he were a ferret , Harry thought dully, he’ d be smaller,
much less easy to see from a height of fifty feet..
He followed Moody into his of fice. Moody closed the door behind them and
turned to look at Harry, his magical eye fixed upon him as well as the normal one.
“That was a very decent thing you just did, Potter,” Moody said quietly.
Harry didn’t know what to say; this wasn’t the reaction he had expected at all.
“Sit down,” said Moody, and Harry sat, looking around.
He had visited this office under two of its previous occupants. In Professor
Lockhart ’ s day, the walls had been plastered with beaming, winking pictures of
Professor Lockhart himself. When Lupin had lived here, you were more likely to come
across a specimen of some fascinat ing new Dark creature he had procured for them to
study in class. Now, however, the office was full of a number of except ionally odd
objects that Harry supposed Moody had used in the days when he had been an Auror.
On his desk stood what looked hike a large, cracked, glass spinning top; Harry
recognized it at once as a Sneakoscope, because he owned one himself , though it was
much smaller than Moody’s. In the corner on a small table stood an object that looked
something like an ext ra-squiggly, golden television aerial. It was humming slight ly.
What appeared to be a mirror hung opposite Harry on the wall, but it was not
reflect ing the room. Shadowy figures were moving around inside it , none of them
clearly in focus.
“ Like my Dark Detectors, do you?” s aid Moody, who was watching Harry
closely.
“What’s that?” Harry asked, pointing at the squiggly golden aerial.
“ Secrecy Sensor. Vibrates when it detects concealment and lies.. . no use
here, of course, too much interference – students in every direct ion lying about why
they haven’ t done their homework Been humming ever since I got here. I had to
disable my Sneakoscope because it wouldn’ t stop whist ling. It ’ s ext ra-sensit ive, picks
up stuff about a mile around. Of course, it could be picking up more than kid stuf f,”
he added in a growl.
“And what’s the mirror for?”
“Oh that ’ s my Foe-Glass. See them out there, skulking around? I’m not really
in trouble until I see the whites of their eyes. That’s when I open my trunk.”
He let out a short , harsh laugh, and pointed to the large t runk under the
window. It had seven keyholes in a row. Harry wondered what was in there, unt il
Moody’s next question brought him sharply back to earth.
“So. . . found out about the dragons, have you?”
Harry hesitated. He’ d been afraid of this – but he hadn’ t told Cedric, and he
certainly wasn’t going to tell Moody, that Hagrid had broken the rules.
“ It ’ s all right ,” said Moody, sit t ing down and st retching out his wooden leg with
a groan. “ Cheat ing’ s a t radit ional part of the Triwizard Tournament and always has
been.”
“ I didn’ t cheat ,” said Harry sharply. “ It was – a sort of accident that I found
out.”
Moody grinned. “ I wasn’ t accusing you, laddie. I’ ve been telling Dumbledore
from the start, he can be as high-minded as he likes, but you can bet old Karkaroff and
Maxime won’ t be. They’ ll have told their champions everything they can. They want
to win. They want to beat Dumbledore. They’d like to prove he’s only human.”
Moody gave another harsh laugh, and his magical eye swiveled around so fast it
made Harry feel queasy to watch it.
“ So. . . got any ideas how you’ re going to get past your dragon yet?” said
Moody.
“No,” said Harry.
“Well, I’m not going to tell you,” said Moody gruffly. “ I don’ t show favorit ism,
me. I’m just going to give you some good, general advice. And the first bit is – play to
your strengths.”
“ I haven’ t got any,” said Harry, before he could stop himself. “ Excuse me,”
growled Moody, “ you’ ve got st rengths if I say you’ ve got them. Think now. What are
you best at?”
Harry tried to concentrate. What was he best at? Well, that was easy, really —
“Quidditch,” he said dully, “and a fat lot of help -“
“ That ’ s right ,” said Moody, staring at him very hard, his magical eye barely
moving at all. “You’re a damn good flier from what I’ve heard.”
“ Yeah, but .. .“ Harry stared at him. “ I’m not allowed a broom, I’ ve only got
my wand…”
“My second piece of general advice,” said Moody loudly, interrupt ing him, “ is
to use a nice, simple spell that will enable you to get what you need.”
Harry looked at him blankly. What did he need?
“ Come on, boy. . .“ whispered Moody. “ Put them together… it ’ s not that
difficult…”
And it clicked. He was best at flying. He needed to pass the dragon in the air.
For that, he needed his Firebolt. And for his Fire-bolt, he needed –
“ Hermione,” Harry whispered, when he had sped into greenhouse three
minutes later, ut tering a hurried apology to Professor Sprout as he passed her.
“Hermione – I need you to help me.”
“What d’you think I’ve been trying to do, Harry?” she whispered back, her eyes
round with anxiety over the top of the quivering Flutterby Bush she was pruning.
“Hermione, I need to learn how to do a Summoning Charm properly by
tomorrow afternoon.”
And so they pract iced. They didn’ t have lunch, but headed for a free
classroom, where Harry t ried with all his might to make various obj ects fly across the
room toward him. He was st ill having problems. The books and quills kept losing
heart halfway across the room and dropping hike stones to the floor.
“Concentrate, Harry, concentrate. . . .“
“What d’ you think I’m t rying to do?” said Harry angrily. “ A great big dragon
keeps popping up in my head for some reason…Okay, try again. . . .“
He wanted to skip Divinat ion to keep pract icing, but Hermione refused point –
blank to skive off Arithmancy, and there was no point in staying without her. He
therefore had to endure over an hour of Professor Trelawney, who spent half the
lesson telling everyone that the posit ion of Mars with relat ion to Saturn at that
moment meant that people born in July were in great danger of sudden, violent
deaths.
“Well, that ’ s good,” said Harry loudly, his temper get t ing the bet ter of him,
“just as long as it’s not drawn-out. I don’t want to suffer.”
Ron looked for a moment as though he was going to laugh; he certainly caught
Harry’ s eye for the f irst t ime in days, but Harry was st ill feeling too resent ful toward
Ron to care. He spent the rest of the lesson trying to attract small objects toward him
under the table with his wand. He managed to make a fly zoom straight into his hand,
though he wasn’ t ent irely sure that was his prowess at Summoning Charms – perhaps
the fly was just stupid.
He forced down some dinner af ter Divinat ion, then returned to the empty
classroom with Hermione, using the Invisibility Cloak to avoid the teachers. They kept
pract icing unt il past midnight . They would have stayed longer, but Peeves turned up
and, pretending to think that Harry wanted things thrown at him, started chucking
chairs across the room. Harry and Hermione left in a hurry before the noise at t racted
Filch, and went back to the Gryffindor common room, which was now mercifully
empty.
At two o’ clock in the morning, Harry stood near the fireplace, surrounded by
heaps of obj ects: books, quills, several upturned chairs, an old set of Gobstones, and
Neville’ s toad, Trevor. Only in the last hour had Harry really got the hang of the
Summoning Charm.
“ That ’ s bet ter, Harry, that ’ s loads bet ter,” Hermione said, looking exhausted
but very pleased.
“Well, now we know what to do next t ime I can’ t manage a spell,” Harry said,
throwing a rune dictionary back to Hermione, so he could try again, “threaten me with
a dragon. Right…“ He raised his wand once more. “Accio Dictionary!”
The heavy book soared out of Hermione’ s hand, flew across the room, and
Harry caught it.
“Harry, I really think you’ve got it!” said Hermione delightedly.
“ Just as long as it works tomorrow,” Harry said. “ The Firebolt ’ s going to be
much farther away than the stuff in here, it ’ s going to be in the cast le, and I’m going
to be out there on the grounds. . . .“
“ That doesn’ t mat ter,” said Hermione firmly.“ Just as long as you’ re
concentrating really, really hard on it, it’ll come. Harry, we’d better get some sleep..
. you’re going to need it.”
Harry had been focusing so hard on learning the Summoning Charm that evening
that some of his blind panic had heft him. It returned in full measure, however, on
the following morning. The atmosphere in the school was one of great tension and
excitement . Lessons were to stop at midday, giving all the students t ime to get down
to the dragons’ enclosure – though of course, they didn’ t yet know what they would
find there.
Harry felt oddly separate f rom everyone around him, whether they were
wishing him good luck or hissing “We’ l l have a box of t issues ready, Pot t er” as he
passed. It was a state of nervousness so advanced that he wondered whether he
mightn’ t j ust lose his head when they t ried to lead him out to his dragon, and start
t rying to curse everyone in sight . Time was behaving in a more peculiar fashion than
ever, rushing past in great dollops, so that one moment he seemed to be sit t ing down
in his first lesson, History of Magic, and the next , walking into lunch.. . and then
(where had the morning gone? the last of the dragon-free hours?), Professor
McGonagall was hurrying over to him in the Great Hall. Lots of people were watching.
“ Pot ter, the champions have to come down onto the grounds now… . You have
to get ready for your first task.”
“Okay,” said Harry, standing up, his fork falling onto his plate with a clatter.
“Good luck, Harry,” Hermione whispered. “You’ll be fine!”
“Yeah,” said Harry in a voice that was most unlike his own.
He heft the Great Hall with Professor McGonagall. She didn’ t seem herself
either; in fact, she looked nearly as anxious as Hermione. As she walked him down the
stone steps and out into the cold November afternoon, she put her hand on his
shoulder.
“ Now, don’ t panic,” she said, “ j ust keep a cool head. . . . We’ ve got wizards
standing by to control the situation if it gets out of hand. . . . The main thing is just to
do your best, and nobody will think any the worse of you. . . . Are you all right?”
“Yes,” Harry heard himself say. “Yes, I’m fine.”
She was leading him toward the place where the dragons were, around the
edge of the forest , but when they approached the clump of t rees behind which the
enclosure would be clearly visible, Harry saw that a tent had been erected, its
entrance facing them, screening the dragons from view.
“ You’ re to go in here with the other champions,” said Professor McGonagall, in
a rather shaky sort of voice, “ and wait for your turn, Pot ter. Mr. Bagman is in there. .
. he’ll be telling you the – the procedure. . . . Good luck.”
“ Thanks,” said Harry, in a flat , distant voice. She left him at the ent rance of
the tent. Harry went inside.
Fleur Delacour was sit t ing in a corner on a how wooden stool. She didn’ t look
nearly as composed as usual, but rather pale and clammy. Viktor Krum looked even
surlier than usual, which Harry supposed was his way of showing nerves. Cedric was
pacing up and down. When Harry entered, Cedric gave him a small smile, which Harry
returned, feeling the muscles in his face working rather hard, as though they had
forgotten how to do it.
“ Harry! Good-o!” said Bagman happily, looking around at him. “ Come in,
come in, make yourself at home!”
Bagman looked somehow like a slightly overblown cartoon figure, standing amid
all the pale-faced champions. He was wearing his old Wasp robes again.
“Well, now we’ re all here – t ime to fill you in!” said Bagman bright ly. “When
the audience has assembled, I’m going to be offering each of you this bag” – he held
up a small sack of purple silk and shook it at them – “from which you will each select a
small model of the thing you are about to face! There are different – er – variet ies,
you see. And I have to tell you something else too.. . ah, yes… your task is to collect
the golden egg!”
Harry glanced around. Cedric had nodded once, to show that he understood
Bagman’ s words, and then started pacing around the tent again; he looked slight ly
green. Fleur Delacour and Krum hadn’ t reacted at all. Perhaps they thought they
might be sick if they opened their mouths; that was certainly how Harry felt . But
they, at least, had volunteered for this. .
And in no t ime at all, hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of feet could be heard
passing the tent , their owners talking excitedly, laughing, j oking. . . . Harry felt as
separate from the crowd as though they were a dif ferent species. And then – it
seemed like about a second later to Harry – Bagman was opening the neck of the
purple silk sack.
“Ladies first,” he said, offering it to Fleur Delacour.
She put a shaking hand inside the bag and drew out a t iny, perfect model of a
dragon – a Welsh Green. It had the number two around its neck And Harry knew, by
the fact that Fleur showed no sign of surprise, but rather a determined resignat ion,
that he had been right: Madame Maxime had told her what was coming.
The same held t rue for Krum. He pulled out the scarlet Chinese Fireball. It
had a number three around its neck. He didn’ t even blink, j ust sat back down and
stared at the ground.
Cedric put his hand into the bag, and out came the blueish-gray Swedish Short –
Snout , the number one t ied around its neck. Knowing what was left , Harry put his
hand into the silk bag and pulled out the Hungarian Horntail, and the number four. It
stretched its wings as he looked down at it, and bared its minuscule fangs.
“Well, there you are!” said Bagman. “You have each pulled out the dragon you
will face, and the numbers refer to the order in which you are to take on the dragons,
do you see? Now, I’m going to have to leave you in a moment , because I’m
commentat ing. Mr. Diggory, you’ re first , j ust go out into the enclosure when you hear
a whistle, all right? Now. . . Harry. . . could I have a quick word? Outside?”
“ Er. . . yes,” said Harry blankly, and he got up and went out of the tent with
Bagman, who walked him a short distance away, into the t rees, and then turned to
him with a fatherly expression on his face.
“Feeling all right, Harry? Anything I can get you?”
“What?” said Harry. “I – no, nothing.”
“Got a plan?” said Bagman, lowering his voice conspiratorially. “ Because I
don’ t mind sharing a few pointers, if you’ d like them, you know. I mean,” Bagman
cont inued, lowering his voice st ill further, “ you’ re the underdog here, Harry. . . .
Anything I can do to help. . .“
“ No,” said Harry so quickly he knew he had sounded rude, “ no – I – I know what
I’m going to do, thanks.”
“Nobody would know, Harry,” said Bagman, winking at him.
“ No, I’m fine,” said Harry, wondering why he kept telling people this, and
wondering whether he had ever been less fine. “I’ve got a plan worked out, I -“
A whistle had blown somewhere.
“Good lord, I’ve got to run!” said Bagman in alarm, and he hurried off.
Harry walked back to the tent and saw Cedric emerging from it , greener than
ever. Harry t ried to wish him luck as he walked past , but all that came out of his
mouth was a sort of hoarse grunt.
Harry went back inside to Fleur and Krum. Seconds hater, they heard the roar
of the crowd, which meant Cedric had entered the enclosure and was now face-toface
with the living counterpart of his model.
It was worse than Harry could ever have imagined, sit t ing there and listening.
The crowd screamed. . . yelled.. . gasped like a single many-headed ent ity, as Cedric
did whatever he was doing to get past the Swedish Short -Snout . Krum was st ill staring
at the ground. Fleur had now taken to retracing Cedric’s steps, around and around the
tent . And Bagman’ s commentary made everything much, much worse.. . . Horrible
pictures formed in Harry’s mind as he heard: “Oooh, narrow miss there, very narrow”.
. . “He’s taking risks, this one!”. . . “Clever move – pity it didn’t work!”
And then, after about fif teen minutes, Harry heard the deafening roar that
could mean only one thing: Cedric had got ten past his dragon and captured the golden
egg.
“ Very good indeed!” Bagman was shout ing. “ And now the marks from the
judges!”
But he didn’ t shout out the marks; Harry supposed the j udges were holding
them up and showing them to the crowd.
“One down, three to go!” Bagman yelled as the whist le blew again. “Miss
Delacour, if you please!”
Fleur was trembling from head to foot; Harry felt more warmly toward her than
he had done so far as she heft the tent with her head held high and her hand clutching
her wand. He and Krum were left alone, at opposite sides of the tent , avoiding each
other’s gaze.
The same process started again. . . .“Oh I’m not sure that was wise!” they
could hear Bagman shout ing gleefully. “Oh. . . nearly! Careful now. . . good lord, I
thought she’d had it then!”
Ten minutes later, Harry heard the crowd erupt into applause once more. . . .
Fleur must have been successful too. A pause, while Fleur’ s marks were being shown.
. . more clapping.. . then, for the third time, the whistle.
“ And here comes Mr. Krum!” cried Bagman, and Krum slouched out , leaving
Harry quite alone.
He felt much more aware of his body than usual; very aware of the way his
heart was pumping fast , and his fingers t ingling with fear. . . yet at the same t ime, he
seemed to be outside himself, seeing the walls of the tent , and hearing the crowd, as
though from far away.
“ Very daring!” Bagman was yelling, and Harry heard the Chinese Fireball emit
a horrible, roaring shriek, while the crowd drew its collect ive breath. “ That ’ s some
nerve he’s showing – and – yes, he’s got the egg!”
Applause shat tered the wintery air like breaking glass; Krum had finished – it
would be Harry’s turn any moment.
He stood up, not icing dimly that his legs seemed to be made of marshmallow.
He waited. And then he heard the whist le blow. He walked out through the ent rance
of the tent, the panic rising into a crescendo inside him. And now he was walking past
the trees, through a gap in the enclosure fence.
He saw everything in front of him as though it was a very highly colored dream.
There were hundreds and hundreds of faces staring down at him from stands that had
been magicked there since he’d last stood on this spot. And there was the Horntail, at
the other end of the enclosure, crouched low over her clutch of eggs, her wings halffurled,
her evil, yellow eyes upon him, a monst rous, scaly, black lizard, thrashing her
spiked tail, heaving yard-long gouge marks in the hard ground. The crowd was making
a great deal of noise, but whether f riendly or not , Harry didn’ t know or care. It was
t ime to do what he had to do. . . to focus his mind, ent irely and absolutely, upon the
thing that was his only chance.
He raised his wand.
“Accio Firebolt!” he shouted.
Harry waited, every fiber of him hoping, praying. . . . If it hadn’ t worked. . . if
it wasn’ t coming. . . He seemed to be looking at everything around him through some
sort of shimmering, t ransparent barrier, like a heat haze, which made the enclosure
and the hundreds of faces around him swim strangely….
And then he heard it , speeding through the air behind him; he turned and saw
his Firebolt hurt ling toward him around the edge of the woods, soaring into the
enclosure, and stopping dead in midair beside him, wait ing for him to mount . The
crowd was making even more noise. . . . Bagman was shout ing something. . . but
Harry’s ears were not working properly anymore. . . listening wasn’t important….
He swung his leg over the broom and kicked off from the ground. And a second
later, something miraculous happened….
As he soared upward, as the wind rushed through his hair, as the crowd’ s faces
became mere flesh-colored pinpnicks below, and the Horntail shrank to the size of a
dog, he realized that he had heft not only the ground behind, but also his fear. . . . He
was back where he belonged….
This was j ust another Quidditch match, that was all. . . j ust another Quidditch
match, and that Horntail was just another ugly opposing team.
He looked down at the clutch of eggs and spot ted the gold one, gleaming
against its cement -colored fellows, residing safely between the dragon’ s f ront legs.
“Okay,” Harry told himself, “diversionary tactics. . . let’s go. . .”
He dived. The Horntail’ s head followed him; he knew what it was going to do
and pulled out of the dive j ust in t ime; a j et of fire had been released exact ly where
he would have been had he not swerved away. . . but Harry didn’t care.. . that was no
more than dodging a Bludger.
“Great Scot t , he can fly!” yelled Bagman as the crowd shrieked and gasped.
“Are you watching this, Mr. Krum?”
Harry soared higher in a circle; the Horntail was st ill following his progress; its
head revolving on its long neck – if he kept this up, it would be nicely dizzy – but
better not push it too long, or it would be breathing fire again –
Harry plummeted j ust as the Horntail opened its mouth, but this t ime he was
less lucky – he missed the flames, but the tail came whipping up to meet him instead,
and as he swerved to the left , one of the long spikes grazed his shoulder, ripping his
robes —
He could feel it st inging, he could hear screaming and groans from the crowd,
but the cut didn’ t seem to be deep. . . . Now he zoomed around the back of the
Horntail, and a possibility occurred to him….
The Horntail didn’ t seem to want to take off, she was too protect ive of her
eggs. Though she writhed and twisted, furling and unfurling her wings and keeping
those fearsome yellow eyes on Harry, she was afraid to move too far from them. . .
but he had to persuade her to do it, or he’d never get near them. . . . The trick was to
do it carefully, gradually….
He began to fly, first this way, then the other, not near enough to make her
breathe fire to stave him off, but st ill posing a suf ficient threat to ensure she kept her
eyes on him. Her head swayed this way and that , watching him out of those vert ical
pupils, her fangs bared…
He flew higher. The Horntail’ s head rose with him, her neck now st retched to
its fullest extent, still swaying, hike a snake before its charmer. . .
Harry rose a few more feet, and she let out a roar of exasperation. He was like
a fly to her, a fly she was longing to swat ; her tail thrashed again, but he was too high
to reach now. . . . She shot fire into the air, which he dodged.. . . Her j aws opened
wide….
“ Come on,” Harry hissed, swerving tantalizingly above her, “ come on, come
and get me. . . up you get now. .”
And then she reared, spreading her great, black, leathery wings at last, as wide
as those of a small airplane – and Harry dived. Before the dragon knew what he had
done, or where he had disappeared to, he was speeding toward the ground as fast as
he could go, toward the eggs now unprotected by her clawed front legs – he had taken
his hands off his Firebolt – he had seized the golden egg –
And with a huge spurt of speed, he was off, he was soaring out over the stands,
the heavy egg safely under his uninj ured arm, and it was as though somebody had j ust
turned the volume back up – for the first t ime, he became properly aware of the noise
of the crowd, which was screaming and applauding as loudly as the Irish supporters at
the World Cup –
“ Look at that !” Bagman was yelling. “Will you look at that ! Our youngest
champion is quickest to get his egg! Well, this is going to shorten the odds on Mr.
Potter!”
Harry saw the dragon keepers rushing forward to subdue the Horntail, and, over
at the ent rance to the enclosure, Professor McGonagalh, Professor Moody, and Hagrid
hurrying to meet him, all of them waving him toward them, their smiles evident even
from this distance. He flew back over the stands, the noise of the crowd pounding his
eardrums, and came in smoothly to land, his heart lighter than it had been in weeks. .
. . He had got through the first task, he had survived.
“ That was excellent , Pot ter!” cried Professor McGonagall as he got off the
Firebolt – which from her was ext ravagant praise. He not iced that her hand shook as
she pointed at his shoulder. “ You’ ll need to see Madam Pomfrey before the j udges
give out your score. . . . Over there, she’s had to mop up Diggory already. . . .“
“ Yeh did it , Harry!” said Hagrid hoarsely. “ Yeh did it ! An’ agains’ the Horntail
an’ all, an’ yeh know Charlie said that was the wors’ – “
“ Thanks, Hagrid,” said Harry loudly, so that Hagrid wouldn’ t blunder on and
reveal that he had shown Harry the dragons beforehand.
Professor Moody looked very pleased too; his magical eye was dancing in its
socket.
“Nice and easy does the trick, Potter,” he growled.
“Right then, Potter, the first aid tent, please. . .“ said Professor McGonagall.
Harry walked out of the enclosure, st ill pant ing, and saw Madam Pomfrey
standing at the mouth of a second tent, looking worried.
“ Dragons!” she said, in a disgusted tone, pulling Harry inside. The tent was
divided into cubicles; he could make out Cedric’ s shadow through the canvas, but
Cedric didn’ t seem to be badly inj ured; he was sit t ing up, at least . Madam Pomfrey
examined Harry’ s shoulder, talking furiously all the while. “ Last year dementors, this
year dragons, what are they going to bring into this school next? You’ re very lucky. . .
this is quite shallow. . . it’ll need cleaning before I heal it up, though… .“
She cleaned the cut with a dab of some purple liquid that smoked and stung,
but then poked his shoulder with her wand, and he felt it heal instantly.
“ Now, j ust sit quiet ly for a minute – sit ! And then you can go and get your
score.”
She bust led out of the tent and he heard her go next door and say, “ How does
it feel now, Diggory?”
Harry didn’t want to sit still: He was too full of adrenaline. He got to his feet,
wanting to see what was going on outside, but before he’ d reached the mouth of the
tent, two people had come darting inside – Hermione, followed closely by Ron.
“ Harry, you were brilliant !” Hermione said squeakily. There were fingernail
marks on her face where she had been clutching it in fear. “ You were amazing! You
really were!”
But Harry was looking at Ron, who was very white and staring at Harry as
though he were a ghost.
“ Harry,” he said, very seriously, “ whoever put your name in that goblet – I – I
reckon they’re trying to do you in!”
It was as though the last few weeks had never happened – as though Harry were
meeting Ron for the first time, right after he’d been made champion.
“Caught on, have you?” said Harry coldly. “Took you long enough.”
Hermione stood nervously between them, looking f rom one to the other. Ron
opened his mouth uncertainly. Harry knew Ron was about to apologize and suddenly
he found he didn’t need to hear it.
“It’s okay,” he said, before Ron could get the words out. “Forget it.”
“No,” said Ron, “I shouldn’t’ve -“
“Forget it, “Harry said.
Ron grinned nervously at him, and Harry grinned back
Hermione burst into tears.
“There’s nothing to cry about!” Harry told her, bewildered.
“ You two are so stupid!” she shouted, stamping her foot on the ground, tears
splashing down her front . Then, before either of them could stop her, she had given
both of them a hug and dashed away, now positively howling.
“ Barking mad,” said Ron, shaking his head. “ Harry, c’mon, they’ ll be putting
up your scores. . . .“
Picking up the golden egg and his Firebolt , feeling more elated than he would
have believed possible an hour ago, Harry ducked out of the tent , Ron by his side,
talking fast.
“ You were the best , you know, no compet it ion. Cedric did this weird thing
where he Transfigured a rock on the ground. . . turned it into a dog. . . he was t rying
to make the dragon go for the dog instead of him. Well, it was a pret ty cool bit of
Transfigurat ion, and it sort of worked, because he did get the egg, but he got burned
as well – the dragon changed its mind halfway through and decided it would rather
have him than the Labrador; he only just got away. And that Fleur girl tried this sort of
charm, I think she was t rying to put it into a t rance – well, that kind of worked too, it
went all sleepy, but then it snored, and this great j et of flame shot out , and her skirt
caught f ire – she put it out with a bit of water out of her wand. And Krum – you won’ t
believe this, but he didn’ t even think of f lying! He was probably the best af ter you,
though. Hit it with some sort of spell right in the eye. Only thing is, it went trampling
around in agony and squashed half the real eggs – they took marks off for that , he
wasn’t supposed to do any damage to them.”
Ron drew breath as he and Harry reached the edge of the enclosure. Now that
the Horntail had been taken away, Harry could see where the five judges were sitting –
right at the other end, in raised seats draped in gold.
“ It ’ s marks out of ten from each one,” Ron said, and Harry squint ing up the
field, saw the first j udge – Madame Maxime – raise her wand in the air. What hooked
like a long silver ribbon shot out of it, which twisted itself into a large figure eight.
“ Not bad!” said Ron as the crowd applauded. “I suppose she took marks off for
your shoulder. . .
Mr. Crouch came next. He shot a number nine into the air.
“Looking good!” Ron yelled, thumping Harry on the back.
Next , Dumbledore. He too put up a nine. The crowd was cheering harder than
ever.
Ludo Bagman – ten.
“Ten?” said Harry in disbelief. “But. . . I got hurt. . . . What’s he playing at?”
“Harry, don’t complain!” Ron yelled excitedly.
And now Karkaroff raised his wand. He paused for a moment , and then a
number shot out of his wand too – four.
“What?” Ron bellowed furiously. “ Four? You lousy, biased scum-bag, you gave
Krum ten!”
But Harry didn’ t care, he wouldn’ t have cared if Karkaroff had given him zero;
Ron’ s indignat ion on his behalf was worth about a hundred points to him. He didn’t
tell Ron this, of course, but his heart felt lighter than air as he turned to leave the
enclosure. And it wasn’ t j ust Ron. . . those weren’ t only Gryffindors cheering in the
crowd. When it had come to it , when they had seen what he was facing, most of the
school had been on his side as well as Cedric’ s. . . . He didn’ t care about the
Slytherins, he could stand whatever they threw at him now.
“ You’ re t ied in first place, Harry! You and Krum!” said Charlie Weasley,
hurrying to meet them as they set off back toward the school. “Listen, I’ve got to run,
I’ ve got to go and send Mum an owl, I swore I’ d tell her what happened – but that was
unbelievable! Oh yeah – and they told me to tell you you’ ve got to hang around for a
few more minutes.. . . Bagman wants a word, back in the champions’ tent.”
Ron said he would wait , so Harry reentered the tent , which somehow looked
quite different now: friendly and welcoming. He thought back to how he’ d felt while
dodging the Horntail, and compared it to the long wait before he’ d walked out to face
it…. There was no comparison; the wait had been immeasurably worse.
Fleur, Cedric, and Krum all came in together. One side of Cedric’ s face was
covered in a thick orange paste, which was presumably mending his burn. He grinned
at Harry when he saw him.
“Good one, Harry.”
“And you,” said Harry, grinning back.
“Well done, all of you!” said Ludo Bagman, bouncing into the tent and looking
as pleased as though he personally had j ust got past a dragon. “ Now, j ust a quick few
words. You’ ve got a nice long break before the second task, which will take place at
half past nine on the morning of February the twenty-fourth – but we’ re giving you
something to think about in the meant ime! If you look down at those golden eggs
you’re all holding, you will see that they open. . . see the hinges there? You need to
solve the clue inside the egg – because it will tell you what the second task is, and
enable you to prepare for it! All clear? Sure? Well, off you go, then!”
Harry left the tent , rej oined Ron, and they started to walk back around the
edge of the forest , talking hard; Harry wanted to hear what the other champions had
done in more detail. Then, as they rounded the clump of trees behind which Harry had
first heard the dragons roar, a witch leapt out from behind them.
It was Rita Skeeter. She was wearing acid-green robes today; the Quick-Quotes
Quill in her hand blended perfectly against them.
“ Congratulat ions, Harry!” she said, beaming at him. “ I wonder if you could
give me a quick word? How you felt facing that dragon? How you feel now, about the
fairness of the scoring?”
“Yeah, you can have a word,” said Harry savagely. “Good-bye.”
And he set off back to the castle with Ron.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE – THE HOUSE-ELF LIBERATION FRONT
Harry, Ron, and Hermione went up to the Owlery that evening to find
Pigwidgeon, so that Harry could send Sirius a letter telling him that he had managed to
get past his dragon unscathed. On the way, Harry filled Ron in on everything Sirius had
told him about Karkaroff . Though shocked at first to hear that Karkaroff had been a
Death Eater, by the t ime they entered the Owlery Ron was saying that they ought to
have suspected it all along.
“ Fits, doesn’ t it?” he said. “ Remember what Malfoy said on the t rain, about
his dad being friends with Karkaroff? Now we know where they knew each other.
They were probably running around in masks together at the World Cup…. I’ ll tell you
one thing, though, Harry, if it was Karkarof f who put your name in the goblet , he’ s
going to be feeling really stupid now, isn’ t he? Didn’ t work, did it? You only got a
scratch! Come here – I’ll do it -“
Pigwidgeon was so overexcited at the idea of a delivery he was f lying around
and around Harry’ s head, hoot ing incessant ly. Ron snatched Pigwidgeon out of the air
and held him still while Harry attached the letter to his leg.
“ There’ s no way any of the other tasks are going to be that dangerous, how
could they be?” Ron went on as he carried Pigwidgeon to the window. “ You know
what? I reckon you could win this tournament, Harry, I’m serious.”
Harry knew that Ron was only saying this to make up for his behavior of the last
few weeks, but he appreciated it all the same. Hermione, however, leaned against
the Owlery wall, folded her arms, and frowned at Ron.
“ Harry’ s got a long way to go before he finishes this tournament ,” she said
seriously. “If that was the first task, I hate to think what’s coming next.”
“ Right lit t le ray of sunshine, aren’ t you?” said Ron. “ You and Professor
Trelawney should get together sometime.”
He threw Pigwidgeon out of the window. Pigwidgeon plummeted twelve feet
before managing to pull himself back up again; the letter attached to his leg was much
longer and heavier than usual – Harry hadn’t been able to resist giving Sirius a blow-byblow
account of exact ly how he had swerved, circled, and dodged the Horntail. They
watched Pigwidgeon disappear into the darkness, and then Ron said, “Well, we’ d
bet ter get downstairs for your surprise party, Harry – Fred and George should have
nicked enough food from the kitchens by now.”
Sure enough, when they entered the Gryf findor common room it exploded with
cheers and yells again. There were mountains of cakes and flagons of pumpkin j uice
and butterbeer on every surface; Lee Jordan had let off some Filibuster’s Fireworks, so
that the air was thick with stars and sparks; and Dean Thomas, who was very good at
drawing, had put up some impressive new banners, most of which depicted Harry
zooming around the Horntail’ s head on his Firebolt , though a couple showed Cedric
with his head on fire.
Harry helped himself to food; he had almost forgot ten what it was like to feel
properly hungry, and sat down with Ron and Hermione. He couldn’ t believe how
happy he felt ; he had Ron back on his side, he’ d got ten through the first task, and he
wouldn’t have to face the second one for three months.
“ Blimey, this is heavy,” said Lee Jordan, picking up the golden egg, which
Harry had left on a table, and weighing it in his hands. “ Open it , Harry, go on! Let ’ s
just see what’s inside it!”
“ He’ s supposed to work out the clue on his own,” Hermione said swif t ly. “ It ’ s
in the tournament rules. . . .“
“ I was supposed to work out how to get past the dragon on my own too,” Harry
muttered, so only Hermione could hear him, and she grinned rather guiltily.
“Yeah, go on, Harry, open it!” several people echoed.
Lee passed Harry the egg, and Harry dug his fingernails into the groove that ran
all the way around it and prised it open.
It was hollow and completely empty – but the moment Harry opened it , the
most horrible noise, a loud and screechy wailing, filled the room. The nearest thing to
it Harry had ever heard was the ghost orchest ra at Nearly Headless Nick’ s deathday
party, who had all been playing the musical saw.
“Shut it!” Fred bellowed, his hands over his ears.
“What was that?” said Seamus Finnigan, staring at the egg as Harry slammed it
shut again. “ Sounded like a banshee …Maybe you’ ve got to get past one of those
next, Harry!”
“It was someone being tortured!” said Neville, who had gone very white and
spilled sausage rolls all over the floor. “You’re going to have to fight the Cruciatus
Curse!”
“Don’t be a prat , Neville, that ‘s illegal,” said George. “They wouldn’t use the
Cruciatus Curse on the champions. I thought it sounded a bit like Percy singing . ..
maybe you’ve got to attack him while he’s in the shower. Harry.”
“Want a jam tart, Hermione?” said Fred.
Hermione looked doubtfully at the plate he was offering her. Fred grinned.
“It’s all right,” he said. “I haven’t done anything to them. It’s the custard creams
you’ve got to watch -”
Neville, who had j ust bit ten into a custard cream, choked and spat it out . Fred
laughed.
“Just my little joke, Neville.. . .”
Hermione took a j am tart . Then she said, “Did you get all this f rom the
kitchens, Fred?”
“Yep,” said Fred, grinning at her. He put on a high-pitched squeak and imitated
a house-elf . “‘Anything we can get you, sir, anything at all!’ They’re dead helpful…
get me a roast ox if I said I was peckish.”
“How do you get in there?” Hermione said in an innocently casual sort of voice.
“Easy,” said Fred, “concealed door behind a paint ing of a bowl of fruit . Just
tickle the pear, and it giggles and -” He stopped and looked suspiciously at her. “Why?”
“Nothing,” said Hermione quickly.
“Going to try and lead the house-elves out on strike now, are you?” said George.
“Going to give up all the leaflet stuff and try and stir them up into rebellion?”
Several people chortled. Hermione didn’t answer.
“Don’t you go upset t ing them and telling them they’ve got to take clothes and
salaries!” said Fred warningly. “You’ll put them off their cooking!”
Just then, Neville caused a slight diversion by turning into a large canary.
“Oh – sorry, Neville!” Fred shouted over all the laughter. “I forgot – it was the
custard
creams we hexed -”
Within a minute, however, Neville had molted, and once his feathers had fallen
off, he reappeared looking entirely normal. He even joined in laughing.
“Canary Creams!” Fred shouted to the excitable crowd. “George and I invented
them – seven Sickles each, a bargain!”
It was nearly one in the morning when Harry f inally went up to the dormitory
with Ron, Neville, Seamus, and Dean. Before he pulled the curtains of his four-poster
shut . Harry set his t iny model of the Hungarian Horntail on the table next to his bed,
where it yawned, curled up, and closed its eyes. Really, Harry thought , as he pulled
the hangings on his four-poster closed, Hagrid had a point .. . t hey were al l right ,
really, dragons. . . .
The start of December brought wind and sleet to Hogwarts. Drafty though the
cast le always was in winter. Harry was glad of its fires and thick walls every t ime he
passed the Durmstrang ship on the lake, which was pitching in the high winds, its black
sails billowing
against the dark skies. He thought the Beauxbatons caravan was likely to be pret ty
chilly too. Hagrid, he not iced, was keeping Madame Maxime’s horses well provided
with their preferred drink of single-malt whiskey; the fumes wafting from the trough in
the comer of their paddock was enough to make the ent ire Care of Magical Creatures
class light -headed. This was unhelpful, as they were st ill tending the horrible skrewts
and needed their wits about them.
“I’m not sure whether they hibernate or not ,” Hagrid told the shivering class in
the windy pumpkin patch next lesson. “Thought we’d j us’ t ry an see if they fancied a
kip . . . we’ll jus’ settle ’em down in these boxes. . . .”
There were now only ten skrewts left ; apparent ly their desire to kill one
another had not been exercised out of them. Each of them was now approaching six
feet in length. Their thick gray armor; their powerful, scut t ling legs; their fireblast
ing ends; their st ings and their suckers, combined to make the skrewts the most
repulsive things Harry had ever seen. The class looked dispiritedly at the enormous
boxes Hagrid had brought out, all lined with pillows and fluffy blankets.
“We’ll j us’ lead ’em in here,” Hagrid said, “an’ put the lids on, and we’ll see what
happens.”
But the skrewts, it t ranspired, did not hibernate, and did not appreciate being
forced into pillow-lined boxes and nailed in. Hagrid was soon yelling, “Don panic, now,
don’ panic!” while the skrewts rampaged around the pumpkin patch, now st rewn with
the smoldering wreckage of the boxes. Most of the class – Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle
in the lead – had fled into Hagrid’s cabin through the back door and barricaded
themselves in; Harry, Ron, and Hermione, however, were among those who remained
outside t rying to help Hagrid. Together they managed to rest rain and t ie up nine of
the skrewts, though at the cost of numerous burns and cuts; finally, only one skrewt
was left.
“Don’ frighten him, now!” Hagrid shouted as Ron and Harry used their wands to
shoot j ets of f iery sparks at the skrewt , which was advancing menacingly on them, its
st ing arched, quivering, over its back. “Jus’ t ry an slip the rope ’round his st ing, so he
won hurt any o’ the others!”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t want that!” Ron shouted angrily as he and Harry backed into
the wall of Hagrid’s cabin, still holding the skrewt off with their sparks.
“Well, well, well. . . this does look like fun.”
Rita Skeeter was leaning on Hagrid’s garden fence, looking in at the mayhem.
She was wearing a thick magenta cloak with a furry purple collar today, and her
crocodile-skin handbag was over her arm.
Hagrid launched himself forward on top of the skrewt that was cornering Harry
and Ron and flat tened it ; a blast of fire shot out of its end, withering the pumpkin
plants nearby.
“Who’re you?” Hagrid asked Rita Skeeter as he slipped a loop of rope around the
skrewt’s sting and tightened it.
“ Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter,” Rita replied, beaming at him. Her gold
teeth glinted.
“Thought Dumbledore said you weren’ allowed inside the school anymore,” said
Hagrid, frowning slight ly as he got off the slight ly squashed skrewt and started tugging
it over to its fellows.
Rita acted as though she hadn’t heard what Hagrid had said.
“What are these fascinat ing creatures called?” she asked, beaming st ill more
widely.
“Blast-Ended Skrewts,” grunted Hagrid.
“Really?” said Rita, apparent ly full of lively interest . “I’ve never heard of them
before…where do they come from?”
Harry not iced a dull red f lush rising up out of Hagrid’s wild black beard, and his
heart sank. Where had Hagrid got the skrewts from? Hermione, who seemed to be
thinking along these lines, said quickly, “They’re very interest ing, aren’t they? Aren’t
they. Harry?”
“What? Oh yeah . . . ouch . . . interest ing,” said Harry as she stepped on his
foot.
“Ah, you’re here. Harry!” said Rita Skeeter as she looked around. “So you like
Care of Magical Creatures, do you? One of your favorite lessons?”
“Yes,” said Harry stoutly. Hagrid beamed at him.
“Lovely,” said Rita. “Really lovely. Been teaching long?” she added to Hagrid.
Harry not iced her eyes t ravel over Dean (who had a nasty cut across one
cheek). Lavender (whose robes were badly singed), Seamus (who was nursing several
burnt fingers), and then to the cabin windows, where most of the class stood, their
noses pressed against the glass waiting to see if the coast was clear.
“This is o’ny me second year,” said Hagrid.
“Lovely… I don’t suppose you’d like to give an interview, would you? Share
some of your experience of magical creatures? The Prophet does a zoological column
every Wednesday, as I’m sure you know. We could feature these – er – Bang-Ended
Scoots.”
“Blast-Ended Skrewts,” Hagrid said eagerly. “Er – yeah, why not?”
Harry had a very bad feeling about this, but there was no way of
communicat ing it to Hagrid without Rita Skeeter seeing, so he had to stand and watch
in silence as Hagrid and Rita Skeeter made arrangements to meet in the Three
Broomst icks for a good long interview later that week. Then the bell rang up at the
castle, signaling the end of the lesson.
“Well, good-bye, Harry!” Rita Skeeter called merrily to him as he set off with
Ron and Hermione. “Until Friday night, then, Hagrid!”
“She’ll twist everything he says,” Harry said under his breath.
“Just as long as he didn’t import those skrewts illegally or anything,” said
Hermione desperately. They looked at one another – it was exact ly the sort of thing
Hagrid might do.
“Hagrids been in loads of t rouble before, and Dumbledores never sacked him,”
said Ron consolingly. “Worst that can happen is Hagrid’ll have to get rid of the
skrewts. Sorry . . . did I say worst? I meant best.”
Harry and Hermione laughed, and, feeling slight ly more cheerful, went off to
lunch.
Harry thoroughly enj oyed double Divinat ion that afternoon; they were st ill
doing star charts and predict ions, but now that he and Ron were friends once more,
the whole thing seemed very funny again. Professor Trelawney, who had been so
pleased with the pair of them when they had been predict ing their own horrific
deaths, quickly became irritated as they sniggered through her explanat ion of the
various ways in which Pluto could disrupt everyday life.
“I would think,” she said, in a myst ical whisper that did not conceal her obvious
annoyance, “that some of us” – she stared very meaningfully at Harry- “might be a little
less f rivolous had they seen what I have seen during my crystal gazing last night . As I
sat here, absorbed in my needlework, the urge to consult the orb overpowered me. I
arose, I set t led myself before it , and I gazed into its crystalline depths . . . and what
do you think I saw gazing back at me?”
“An ugly old bat in outsize specs?” Ron muttered under his breath.
Harry fought hard to keep his face straight.
“Death, my dears.”
Parvati and Lavender both put their hands over their mouths, looking horrified.
“Yes,” said Professor Trelawney, nodding impressively, “it comes, ever closer, it
circles overhead like a vulture, ever lower. . . ever lower over the castle. . . .”
She stared pointedly at Harry, who yawned very widely and obviously.
“It ‘d be a bit more impressive if she hadn’t done it about eighty t imes before,”
Harry said as they f inally regained the fresh air of the staircase beneath Professor
Trelawney’s room. “But if I’d dropped dead every time she’s told me I’m going to, I’d be
a medical miracle.”
“You’d be a sort of ext ra-concent rated ghost ,” said Ron, chort ling, as they
passed the Bloody Baron going in the opposite direct ion, his wide eyes staring
sinisterly. “At least we didn’t get homework. I hope Hermione got loads off Professor
Vector, I love not working when she is. . . .”
But Hermione wasn’t at dinner, nor was she in the library when they went to
look for her afterward. The only person in there was Viktor Krum. Ron hovered
behind the bookshelves for a while, watching Krum, debat ing in whispers with Harry
whether he should ask for an autograph – but then Ron realized that six or seven girls
were lurking in the next row of books, debating exactly the same thing, and he lost his
enthusiasm for the idea.
“Wonder where she’s got to?” Ron said as he and Harry went back to Gryffindor
Tower.
“Dunno . . . balderdash.”
But the Fat Lady had barely begun to swing forward when the sound of racing
feet behind them announced Hermione’s arrival.
“Harry!” she panted, skidding to a halt beside him (the Fat Lady stared down at
her, eyebrows raised). “Harry, you’ve got to come – you’ve got to come, the most
amazing thing’s happened- please -”
She seized Harry’s arm and started to try to drag him back along the corridor.
“What’s the matter?” Harry said.
“I’ll show you when we get there – oh come on, quick -”
Harry looked around at Ron; he looked back at Harry, intrigued.
“Okay,” Harry said, start ing off back down the corridor with Hermione, Ron
hurrying to keep up.
“Oh don’t mind me!” the Fat Lady called irritably after them. “Don’t apologize
for bothering me! I’ll just hang here, wide open, until you get back, shall I?”
“Yeah, thanks!” Ron shouted over his shoulder.
“Hermione, where are we going?” Harry asked, after she had led
them down through six floors, and started down the marble staircase into the entrance
hall.
“You’ll see, you’ll see in a minute!” said Hermione excitedly.
She turned left at the bot tom of the staircase and hurried toward the door
through which Cedric Diggory had gone the night after the Goblet of Fire had
regurgitated his and Harry’s names. Harry had never been through here before. He
and Ron followed Hermione down a f light of stone steps, but instead of ending up in a
gloomy underground passage like the one that led to Snape’s dungeon, they found
themselves in a broad stone corridor, bright ly lit with torches, and decorated with
cheerful paintings that were mainly of food.
“Oh hang on . . .” said Harry slowly, halfway down the corridor. “Wait a minute,
Hermione. . . .”
“What?” She turned around to look at him, anticipation all over her face.
“I know what this is about,” said Harry.
He nudged Ron and pointed to the paint ing j ust behind Hermione. It showed a
gigantic silver fruit bowl.
“Hermione!” said Ron, cot toning on. “You’re t rying to rope us into that spew
stuff again!”
“No, no, I’m not!” she said hastily. “And it’s not spew, Ron -”
“Changed the name, have you?” said Ron, frowning at her. “What are we now,
then, the House-Elf Liberat ion Front? I’m not barging into that kitchen and t rying to
make them stop work, I’m not doing it -”
“I’m not asking you to!” Hermione said impat ient ly. “I came down here j ust
now, to talk to them all, and I found – oh come on, Harry, I want to show you!”
She seized his arm again, pulled him in front of the picture of the giant fruit
bowl, st retched out her foref inger, and t ickled the huge green pear. It began to
squirm, chuckling, and suddenly turned into a large green door handle. Hermione
seized it, pulled the door open, and pushed Harry hard in the back, forcing him inside.
He had one brief glimpse of an enormous, high-ceilinged room, large as the
Great Hall above it , with mounds of glit tering brass pots and pans heaped around the
stone walls, and a great brick fireplace at the other end, when something small
hurt led toward him from the middle of the room, squealing, “Harry Pot ter, sir! Harry
Potter!”
Next second all the wind had been knocked out of him as the squealing elf hit
him hard in the midriff, hugging him so tightly he thought his ribs would break.
“D-Dobby?” Harry gasped.
“It is Dobby, sir, it is!” squealed the voice from somewhere around his navel.
“Dobby has been hoping and hoping to see Harry Potter, sir, and Harry Potter has come
to see him, sir!”
Dobby let go and stepped back a few paces, beaming up at Harry, his
enormous, green, tennis-ball-shaped eyes brimming with tears of happiness. He
looked almost exact ly as Harry remembered him; the pencil-shaped nose, the bat like
ears, the long fingers and feet – all except the clothes, which were very different.
When Dobby had worked for the Malfoys, he had always worn the same filthy
old pillowcase. Now, however, he was wearing the st rangest assortment of garments
Harry had ever seen; he had done an even worse j ob of dressing himself than the
wizards at the World Cup. He was wearing a tea cozy for a hat , on which he had
pinned a number of bright badges; a t ie pat terned with horseshoes over a bare chest ,
a pair of what looked like children’s soccer shorts, and odd socks. One of these, Harry
saw, was the black one Harry had removed from his own foot and t ricked Mr. Malfoy
into giving Dobby, thereby set t ing Dobby free. The other was covered in pink and
orange stripes.
“Dobby, what ‘re you doing here?” Harry said in amazement . “Dobby has come to
work at Hogwarts, sir!” Dobby squealed excitedly. “Professor Dumbledore gave Dobby
and Winky jobs, sir!
“Winky?” said Harry. “She’s here too?”
“Yes, sir, yes!” said Dobby, and he seized Harry’s hand and pulled him off into
the kitchen between the four long wooden tables that stood there. Each of these
tables, Harry not iced as he passed them, was posit ioned exact ly beneath the four
House tables above, in the Great Hall. At the moment , they were clear of food, dinner
having finished, but he supposed that an hour ago they had been laden with dishes
that were then sent up through the ceiling to their counterparts above.
At least a hundred lit t le elves were standing around the kitchen, beaming,
bowing, and curtsying as Dobby led Harry past them. They were all wearing the same
uniform: a tea towel stamped with the Hogwarts crest , and t ied, as Winky’s had been,
like a toga.
Dobby stopped in front of the brick fireplace and pointed.
“Winky, sir!” he said.
Winky was sit t ing on a stool by the fire. Unlike Dobby, she had obviously not
foraged for clothes. She was wearing a neat lit t le skirt and blouse with a matching
blue hat, which had holes in it for her large ears. However, while every one of Dobby’s
strange collect ion of garments was so clean and well cared for that it looked brandnew,
Winky was plainly not taking care other clothes at all. There were soup stains all
down her blouse and a burn in her skirt.
“Hello, Winky,” said Harry.
Winky’s lip quivered. Then she burst into tears, which spilled out of her great
brown eyes and splashed down her front , j ust as they had done at the Quidditch World
Cup.
“Oh dear,” said Hermione. She and Ron had followed Harry and Dobby to the
end of the kitchen. “Winky, don’t cry, please don’t…”
But Winky cried harder than ever. Dobby, on the other hand, beamed up at
Harry.
“Would Harry Potter like a cup of tea?” he squeaked loudly, over Winky’s sobs.
“Er – yeah, okay,” said Harry.
Instant ly, about six house-elves came t rot t ing up behind him, bearing a large
silver t ray laden with a teapot , cups for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a milk j ug, and a
large plate of biscuits.
“Good service!” Ron said, in an impressed voice. Hermione frowned at him,
but the elves all looked delighted; they bowed very low and retreated.
“How long have you been here, Dobby?” Harry asked as Dobby handed around
the tea.
“Only a week. Harry Pot ter, sir!” said Dobby happily. “Dobby came to see
Professor Dumbledore, sir. You see, sir, it is very diff icult for a house-elf who has
been dismissed to get a new position, sir, very difficult indeed -”
At this, Winky howled even harder, her squashed-tomato of a nose dribbling all
down her front, though she made no effort to stem the flow.
“Dobby has t raveled the count ry for two whole years, sir, t rying to find work!”
Dobby squeaked. “But Dobby hasn’t found work, sir, because Dobby wants paying now!”
The house-elves all around the kitchen, who had been listening and watching
with interest , all looked away at these words, as though Dobby had said something
rude and embarrassing. Hermione, however, said, “Good for you, Dobby!”
“Thank you, miss!” said Dobby, grinning toothily at her. “But most wizards
doesn’t want a house-elf who wants paying, miss. ‘That ‘s not the point of a house-elf,’
they says, and they slammed the door in Dobby’s face! Dobby likes work, but he wants
to wear clothes and he wants to be paid. Harry Potter…. Dobby likes being free!”
The Hogwarts house-elves had now started edging away from Dobby, as though
he were carrying something contagious. Winky, however, remained where she was,
though there was a definite increase in the volume other crying.
“And then, Harry Pot ter, Dobby goes to visit Winky, and f inds out Winky has
been freed too, sir!” said Dobby delightedly.
At this, Winky flung herself forward off her stool and lay face-down on the
flagged stone floor, beating her tiny fists upon it and positively screaming with misery.
Hermione hast ily dropped down to her knees beside her and t ried to comfort her, but
nothing she said made the slightest difference. Dobby cont inued with his story,
shouting shrilly over Winky’s screeches.
“And then Dobby had the idea. Harry Pot ter, sir! ‘Why doesn’t Dobby and Winky
find work together?’ Dobby says. ‘Where is there enough work for two house-elves?’
says Winky. And Dobby thinks, and it comes to him, sir! Hogwarts! So Dobby and
Winky came to see Professor Dumbledore, sir, and Professor Dumbledore took us on!”
Dobby beamed very brightly, and happy tears welled in his eyes again.
“And Professor Dumbledore says he will pay Dobby, sir, if Dobby wants paying!
And so Dobby is a free elf , sir, and Dobby gets a Galleon a week and one day off a
month!”
“That ‘s not very much!” Hermione shouted indignant ly f rom the f loor, over
Winky’s continued screaming and fist-beating.
“Professor Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends of f,”
said Dobby, suddenly giving a lit t le shiver, as though the prospect of so much leisure
and riches were frightening, “but Dobby beat him down, miss. . . . Dobby likes
freedom, miss, but he isn’t wanting too much, miss, he likes work better.”
“And how much is Professor Dumbledore paying you, Winky?” Hermione asked
kindly.
If she had thought this would cheer up Winky, she was wildly mistaken. Winky
did stop crying, but when she sat up she was glaring at Hermione through her massive
brown eyes, her whole face sopping wet and suddenly furious.
“Winky is a disgraced elf, but Winky is not yet get t ing paid!” she squeaked.
“Winky is not sunk so low as that! Winky is properly ashamed of being freed!”
“Ashamed?” said Hermione blankly. “But – Winky, come on! It’s Mr. Crouch who
should be ashamed, not you! You didn’t do anything wrong, he was really horrible to
you -”
But at these words, Winky clapped her hands over the holes in her hat ,
flat tening her ears so that she couldn’t hear a word, and screeched, “You is not
insult ing my master, miss! You is not insult ing Mr. Crouch! Mr. Crouch is a good
wizard, miss! Mr. Crouch is right to sack bad Winky!”
“Winky is having t rouble adj ust ing, Harry Pot ter,” squeaked Dobby
confident ially. “Winky forgets she is not bound to Mr. Crouch anymore; she is allowed
to speak her mind now, but she won’t do it.”
“Can’t house-elves speak their minds about their masters, then?” Harry asked.
“Oh no, sir, no,” said Dobby, looking suddenly serious. “‘Tis part of the houseelf’s
enslavement , sir. We keeps their secrets and our silence, sir. We upholds the
family’s honor, and we never speaks ill of them – though Professor Dumbledore told
Dobby he does not insist upon this. Professor Dumbledore said we is free to – to-”
Dobby looked suddenly nervous and beckoned Harry closer. Harry bent
forward. Dobby whispered, “He said we is free to call him a – a barmy old codger if we
likes, sir!”
Dobby gave a frightened sort of giggle.
“But Dobby is not wanting to, Harry Potter,” he said, talking normally again, and
shaking his head so that his ears flapped. “Dobby likes Professor Dumbledore very
much, sir, and is proud to keep his secrets and our silence for him.”
“But you can say what you like about the Malfoys now?” Harry asked him,
grinning.
A slightly fearful look came into Dobby’s immense eyes.
“Dobby – Dobby could,” he said doubt fully. He squared his small shoulders.
“Dobby could tell Harry Potter that his old masters were – were – bad Dark wizards’.”
Dobby stood for a moment , quivering all over, horror-st ruck by his own daring –
then he rushed over to the nearest table and began banging his head on it very hard,
squealing, “Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!”
Harry seized Dobby by the back of his tie and pulled him away from the table.
“Thank you. Harry Pot ter, thank you,” said Dobby breathlessly, rubbing his
head.
“You just need a bit of practice,” Harry said.
“Pract ice!” squealed Winky furiously. “You is ought to be ashamed of yourself,
Dobby, talking that way about your masters!”
“They isn’t my masters anymore, Winky!” said Dobby defiant ly. “Dobby doesn’t
care what they think anymore!”
“Oh you is a bad elf, Dobby!” moaned Winky, tears leaking down her face once
more. “My poor Mr. Crouch, what is he doing without Winky? He is needing me, he is
needing my help! I is looking after the Crouches all my life, and my mother is doing it
before me, and my grandmother is doing it before her … oh what is they saying if they
knew Winky was freed? Oh the shame, the shame!” She buried her face in her skirt
again and bawled.
“Winky,” said Hermione firmly, “I’m quite sure Mr. Crouch is getting along
perfectly well without you. We’ve seen him, you know -”
“You is seeing my master?” said Winky breathlessly, raising her tearstained face
out of her skirt once more and goggling at Hermione. “You is seeing him here at
Hogwarts?”
“Yes,” said Hermione, “he and Mr. Bagman are j udges in the Triwizard
Tournament.”
“Mr. Bagman comes too?” squeaked Winky, and to Harry ‘s great surprise (and
Ron’s and Hermione’s too, by the looks on their faces), she looked angry again. “Mr.
Bagman is a bad wizard! A very bad wizard! My master isn’t liking him, oh no, not at
all!”
“Bagman – bad?” said Harry.
“Oh yes,” Winky said, nodding her head furiously, “My master is telling Winky
some things! But Winky is not saying.. . Winky – Winky keeps her master’s secrets. …”
She dissolved yet again in tears; they could hear her sobbing into her skirt ,
“Poor master, poor master, no Winky to help him no more!”
They couldn’t get another sensible word out of Winky. They left her to her
crying and f inished their tea, while Dobby chat ted happily about his life as a free elf
and his plans for his wages.
“Dobby is going to buy a sweater next , Harry Pot ter!” he said happily, point ing
at his bare chest,
“Tell you what , Dobby,” said Ron, who seemed to have taken a great liking to
the elf, “I’ll give you the one my mum knits me this Christmas, I always get one from
her. You don’t mind maroon, do you?”
Dobby was delighted.
“We might have to shrink it a bit to fit you,” Ron told him, “but it ‘ll go well with
your tea cozy.”
As they prepared to take their leave, many of the surrounding elves pressed in
upon them, offering snacks to take back upstairs. Hermione refused, with a pained
look at the way the elves kept bowing and curtsying, but Harry and Ron loaded their
pockets with cream cakes and pies.
“Thanks a lot!” Harry said to the elves, who had all clustered around the door to
say good night. “See you, Dobby!”
“Harry Pot ter . . . can Dobby come and see you somet imes, sir?” Dobby asked
tentatively.
” ‘Course you can,” said Harry, and Dobby beamed.
“You know what?” said Ron, once he, Hermione, and Harry had left the kitchens
behind and were climbing the steps into the ent rance hall again. “All these years I’ve
been really impressed with Fred and George, nicking food from the kitchens – well, it’s
not exactly difficult, is it? They can’t wait to give it away!”
“I think this is the best thing that could have happened to those elves, you
know,” said Hermione, leading the way back up the marble staircase. “Dobby coming
to work here, I mean. The other elves will see how happy he is, being free, and slowly
it’ll dawn on them that they want that too!”
“Let’s hope they don’t look too closely at Winky,” said Harry.
“Oh she’ll cheer up,” said Hermione, though she sounded a bit doubt ful. “Once
the shock’s worn off , and she’s got used to Hogwarts, she’ll see how much bet ter off
she is without that Crouch man.”
“She seems to love him,” said Ron thickly (he had just started on a cream cake).
“Doesn’t think much of Bagman, though, does she?” said Harry. “Wonder what
Crouch says at home about him?”
“Probably says he’s not a very good Head of Department ,” said Hermione, “and
let’s face it… he’s got a point, hasn’t he?”
“I’d still rather work for him than old Crouch,” said Ron. “At least Bagman’s got a
sense of humor.”
“Don’t let Percy hear you saying that,” Hermione said, smiling slightly.
“Yeah, well, Percy wouldn’t want to work for anyone with a sense of humor,
would he?” said Ron, now start ing on a chocolate eclair. “Percy wouldn’t recognize a
joke if it danced naked in front of him wearing Dobby’s tea cozy.”
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO – THE UNEXPECTED TASK
Potter! Weasley! Will you pay attention?”
Professor McGonagall’s irritated voice cracked like a whip through the
Transfiguration class on Thursday, and Harry and Ron both jumped and looked up.
It was the end of the lesson; they had finished their work; the guinea fowl they
had been changing into guinea pigs had been shut away in a large cage on Professor
McGonagall’s desk (Neville’s st ill had feathers); they had copied down their homework
from the blackboard (“Describe, wit h examples, the ways in which Transforming Spells
must be adapt ed when performing Cross-Species Swit ches”}. The bell was due to ring
at any moment , and Harry and Ron, who had been having a sword fight with a couple
of Fred and George’s fake wands at the back of the class, looked up, Ron holding a t in
parrot and Harry, a rubber haddock.
“Now that Pot ter and Weasley have been kind enough to act their age,” said
Professor McGonagall, with an angry look at the pair of them as the head of Harry’s
haddock drooped and fell silent ly to the floor – Ron’s parrot ‘s beak had severed it
moments before – “I have something to say to you all.
“The Yule Ball is approaching – a t radit ional part of the Triwizard Tournament
and an opportunity for us to socialize with our foreign guests. Now, the ball will be
open only to fourth years and above – although you may invite a younger student if you
wish -”
Lavender Brown let out a shrill giggle. Parvat i Pat il nudged her hard in the
ribs, her face working furiously as she too fought not to giggle. They both looked
around at Harry, Professor McGonagall ignored them, which Harry thought was
distinctly unfair, as she had just told off him and Ron.
“Dress robes will be worn,” Professor McGonagall cont inued, “and the ball will
start at eight o’clock on Christmas Day, finishing at midnight in the Great Hall. Now
then -”
Professor McGonagall stared deliberately around the class.
“The Yule Ball is of course a chance for us all to – er – let our hair down,” she
said, in a disapproving voice.
Lavender giggled harder than ever, with her hand pressed hard against her
mouth to st if le the sound. Harry could see what was funny this t ime: Professor
McGonagall, with her hair in a t ight bun, looked as though she had never let her hair
down in any sense.
“But that does NOT mean,” Professor McGonagall went on, “that we will be
relaxing the standards of behavior we expect from Hogwarts students. I will be most
seriously displeased if a Gryffindor student embarrasses the school in any way.”
The bell rang, and there was the usual scuff le of act ivity as everyone packed
their bags and swung them onto their shoulders.
Professor McGonagall called above the noise, “Potter – a word, if you please.”
Assuming this had something to do with his headless rubber haddock, Harry
proceeded gloomily to the teacher’s desk. Professor McGonagall waited unt il the rest
of the class had gone, and then said, “Potter, the champions and their partners -”
“What partners?” said Harry.
Profesor McGonagall looked suspiciously at him, as though she thought he was
trying to be funny.
“Your partners for the Yule Ball, Potter,” she said coldly. “Your dance partners.”
Harry’s insides seemed to curl up and shrivel.
“Dance partners?” He felt himself going red. “I don’t dance,” he said quickly.
“Oh yes, you do,” said Professor McGonagall irritably. “That ‘s what I’m telling
you. Traditionally, the champions and their partners open the ball.”
Harry had a sudden mental image of himself in a top hat and tails,
accompanied by a girl in the sort of frilly dress Aunt Petunia always wore to Uncle
Vernon’s work parties.
“I’m not dancing,” he said.
“It is t radit ional,” said Professor McGonagall firmly. “You are a Hogwarts
champion, and you will do what is expected of you as a representat ive of the school.
So make sure you get yourself a partner, Potter.”
“But-I don’t-”
“You heard me, Potter,” said Professor McGonagall in a very final sort of way.
A week ago. Harry would have said finding a partner for a dance would be a
cinch compared to taking on a Hungarian Horntail. But now that he had done the
lat ter, and was facing the prospect of asking a girl to the ball, he thought he’d rather
have another round with the dragon.
Harry had never known so many people to put their names down to stay at
Hogwarts for Christmas; he always did, of course, because the alternat ive was usually
going back to Privet Drive, but he had always been very much in the minority before
now. This year, however, everyone in the fourth year and above seemed to be
staying, and they all seemed to Harry to be obsessed with the coming ball – or at least
all the girls were, and it was amazing how many girls Hogwarts suddenly seemed to
hold; he had never quite not iced that before. Girls giggling and whispering in the
corridors, girls shrieking with laughter as boys passed them, girls excitedly comparing
notes on what they were going to wear on Christmas night… .
“Why do they have to move in packs?” Harry asked Ron as a dozen or so girls
walked past them, sniggering and staring at Harry. “How’re you supposed to get one on
their own to ask them?”
“Lasso one?” Ron suggested. “Got any idea who you’re going to try?”
Harry didn’t answer. He knew perfect ly well whom he’d like to ask, but working
up the nerve was something else. . . . Cho was a year older than he was; she was very
pretty; she was a very good Quidditch player, and she was also very popular.
Ron seemed to know what was going on inside Harry’s head.
“Listen, you’re not going to have any t rouble. You’re a champion. You’ve j ust
beaten a Hungarian Horntail. I bet they’ll be queuing up to go with you.”
In t ribute to their recent ly repaired friendship, Ron had kept the bit terness in
his voice to a bare minimum. Moreover, to Harry’s amazement , he turned out to be
quite right.
A curly-haired third-year Hufflepuff girl to whom Harry had never spoken in his
life asked him to go to the ball with her the very next day. Harry was so taken aback
he said no before he’d even stopped to consider the mat ter. The girl walked off
looking rather hurt , and Harry had to endure Dean’s, Seamus’s, and Ron’s taunts about
her all through History of Magic. The following day, two more girls asked him, a second
year and (to his horror) a fifth year who looked as though she might knock him out if
he refused.
“She was quite good-looking,” said Ron fairly, after he’d stopped laughing.
“She was a foot taller than me,” said Harry, st ill unnerved. “Imagine what I’d
look like trying to dance with her.”
Hermione’s words about Krum kept coming back to him. “They only like him
because he’s famous!” Harry doubted very much if any of the girls who had asked to be
his partner so far would have wanted to go to the ball with him if he hadn’t been a
school champion. Then he wondered if this would bother him if Cho asked him.
On the whole. Harry had to admit that even with the embarrassing prospect of
opening the ball before him, life had definitely improved since he had got through the
first task. He wasn’t at t ract ing nearly as much unpleasantness in the corridors
anymore, which he suspected had a lot to do with Cedric – he had an idea Cedric might
have told the Hufflepuffs to leave Harry alone, in grat itude for Harry’s t ip-off about
the dragons. There seemed to be fewer Support Cedric Diggory! badges around too.
Draco Malfoy, of course, was still quoting Rita Skeeter’s article to him at every possible
opportunity, but he was getting fewer and fewer laughs out of it – and just to heighten
Harry’s feeling of well-being, no story about Hagrid had appeared in the Daily Prophet.
“She didn’ seem very int ‘rested in magical creatures, ter tell yeh the truth,”
Hagrid said, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione asked him how his interview with Rita
Skeeter had gone during the last Care of Magical Creatures lesson of the term. To
their very great relief, Hagrid had given up on direct contact with the skrewts now,
and they were merely sheltering behind his cabin today, sit t ing at a t rest le table and
preparing a fresh selection of food with which to tempt the skrewts.
“She jus’ wanted me ter talk about you, Harry,” Hagrid continued in a low voice.
“Well, I told her we’d been friends since I went ter fetch yeh from the Dursleys. ‘Never
had to tell him off in four years?’ she said. ‘Never played you up in lessons, has he?’ I
told her no, an she didn’ seem happy at all. Yeh’d think she wanted me to say yeh
were horrible, Harry.”
” ‘Course she did,” said Harry, throwing lumps of dragon liver into a large metal
bowl and picking up his knife to cut some more. “She can’t keep writ ing about what a
tragic little hero I am, it’ll get boring.”
“She wants a new angle, Hagrid,” said Ron wisely as he shelled salamander eggs.
“You were supposed to say Harry’s a mad delinquent!”
“But he’s not!” said Hagrid, looking genuinely shocked.
“She should’ve interviewed Snape,” said Harry grimly. “He’d give her the goods
on me any day. ‘Pot ter has been crossing l ines ever since he f irst arrived at t his
school. . . .'”
“Said that , did he?” said Hagrid, while Ron and Hermione laughed. “Well, yeh
might’ve bent a few rules. Harry, bu’ yeh’re all righ’ really, aren’ you?”
“Cheers, Hagrid,” said Harry, grinning.
“You coming to this ball thing on Christmas Day, Hagrid?” said Ron.
“Though’ I might look in on it , yeah,” said Hagrid gruffly. “Should be a good do,
I reckon. You’ll be openin the dancin’, won yeh, Harry? Who’re you takin’?”
“No one, yet ,” said Harry, feeling himself going red again. Hagrid didn’t pursue
the subject.
The last week of term became increasingly boisterous as it progressed. Rumors
about the Yule Ball were flying everywhere, though Harry didn’t believe half of them –
for instance, that Dumbledore had bought eight hundred barrels of mulled mead from
Madam Rosmerta. It seemed to be fact , however, that he had booked the Weird
Sisters. Exact ly who or what the Weird Sisters were Harry didn’t know, never having
had access to a wizard’s wireless, but he deduced from the wild excitement of those
who had grown up listening to the WWN (Wizarding Wireless Network) that they were a
very famous musical group.
Some of the teachers, like lit t le Professor Flitwick, gave up t rying to teach
them much when their minds were so clearly elsewhere; he allowed them to play
games in his lesson on Wednesday, and spent most of it talking to Harry about the
perfect Summoning Charm
Harry had used during the first task of the Triwizard Tournament . Other teachers
were not so generous. Nothing would ever deflect Professor Binns, for example, from
plowing on through his notes on goblin rebellions – as Binns hadn’t let his own death
stand in the way of cont inuing to teach, they supposed a small thing like Christmas
wasn’t going to put him of f. It was amazing how he could make even bloody and
vicious goblin riots sound as boring as Percys cauldron-bot tom report . Professors
McGonagall and Moody kept them working unt il the very last second of their classes
too, and Snape, of course, would no sooner let them play games in class than adopt
Harry. Staring nast ily around at them all, he informed them that he would be test ing
them on poison antidotes during the last lesson of the term.
“Evil, he is,” Ron said bit terly that night in the Gryffindor common room.
“Springing a test on us on the last day. Ruining the last bit of term with a whole load of
studying.”
“Mmm . . . you’re not exact ly st raining yourself, though, are you?” said
Hermione, looking at him over the top of her Pot ions notes. Ron was busy building a
card castle out of his Exploding Snap pack – a much more interesting pastime than with
Muggle cards, because of the chance that the whole thing would blow up at any
second.
“It ‘s Christmas, Hermione,” said Harry lazily; he was rereading Flying wit h t he
Cannons for the tenth time in an armchair near the fire.
Hermione looked severely over at him too. “I’d have thought you’d be doing
something constructive, Harry, even if you don’t want to learn your antidotes!”
“Like what?” Harry said as he watched Joey Jenkins of the Cannons belt a
Bludger toward a Ballycastle Bats Chaser.
“That egg!” Hermione hissed.
“Come on, Hermione, I’ve got till February the twenty-fourth,” Harry said.
He had put the golden egg upstairs in his t runk and hadn’t opened it since the
celebrat ion party after the first task. There were st ill two and a half months to go
until he needed to know what all the screechy wailing meant, after all.
“But it might take weeks to work it out !” said Hermione. “You’re going to look a
real idiot if everyone else knows what the next task is and you don’t!”
“Leave him alone, Hermione, he’s earned a bit of a break,” said Ron, and he
placed the last two cards on top of the cast le and the whole lot blew up, singeing his
eyebrows.
“Nice look, Ron … go well with your dress robes, that will.”
It was Fred and George. They sat down at the table with Harry, Ron, and
Hermione as Ron felt how much damage had been done.
“Ron, can we borrow Pigwidgeon?” George asked.
“No, he’s off delivering a letter,” said Ron. “Why?”
“Because George wants to invite him to the ball,” said Fred sarcastically.
“Because we want to send a letter, you stupid great prat,” said George.
“Who d’you two keep writing to, eh?” said Ron.
“Nose out , Ron, or I’ll burn that for you too,” said Fred, waving his wand
threateningly. “So . . . you lot got dates for the ball yet?”
“Nope,” said Ron.
“Well, you’d bet ter hurry up, mate, or all the good ones will be gone,” said
Fred.
“Who’re you going with, then?” said Ron.
“Angelina,” said Fred promptly, without a trace of embarrassment.
“What?” said Ron, taken aback. “You’ve already asked her?”
“Good point ,” said Fred. He turned his head and called across the common
room, “Oi! Angelina!”
Angelina, who had been chat t ing with Alicia Spinnet near the f ire, looked over
at him.
“What?” she called back.
“Want to come to the ball with me?”
Angelina gave Fred an appraising sort of look.
“All right , then,” she said, and she turned back to Alicia and carried on chat t ing
with a bit of a grin on her face.
“There you go,” said Fred to Harry and Ron, “piece of cake.”
He got to his feet , yawning, and said, “We’d bet ter use a school owl then,
George, come on. .. .”
They left . Ron stopped feeling his eyebrows and looked across the smoldering
wreck of his card castle at Harry.
“We should get a move on, you know . . . ask someone. He’s right . We don’t
want to end up with a pair of trolls.”
Hermione let out a sputter of indignation.
“A pair of… what, excuse me?”
“Well – you know,” said Ron, shrugging. “I’d rather go alone than with – with
Eloise Midgen, say.”
“Her acne’s loads better lately – and she’s really nice!”
“Her nose is off-center,” said Ron.
“Oh I see,” Hermione said, bristling. “So basically, you’re going to take the bestlooking
girl who’ll have you, even if she’s completely horrible?”
“Er – yeah, that sounds about right,” said Ron.
“I’m going to bed,” Hermione snapped, and she swept off toward the girls’
staircase without another word.
The Hogwarts staff, demonst rat ing a cont inued desire to impress the visitors
from Beauxbatons and Durmst rang, seemed determined to show the cast le at its best
this Christmas. When the decorat ions went up. Harry not iced that they were the most
stunning he had yet seen inside the school. Everlast ing icicles had been at tached to
the banisters of the marble staircase; the usual twelve Christmas t rees in the Great
Hall were bedecked with everything f rom luminous holly berries to real, hoot ing,
golden owls, and the suits of armor had all been bewitched to sing carols whenever
anyone passed them. It was quite something to hear “0 Come, All Ye Faithful” sung by
an empty helmet that only knew half the words. Several t imes, Filch the caretaker
had to ext ract Peeves from inside the armor, where he had taken to hiding, filling in
the gaps in the songs with lyrics of his own invention, all of which were very rude.
And st ill. Harry hadn’t asked Cho to the ball. He and Ron were get t ing very
nervous now, though as Harry pointed out , Ron would look much less stupid than he
would without a partner;
Harry was supposed to be starting the dancing with the other champions.
“I suppose there’s always Moaning Myrt le,” he said gloomily, referring to the
ghost who haunted the girls’ toilets on the second floor.
“Harry – we’ve j ust got to grit our teeth and do it ,” said Ron on Friday morning,
in a tone that suggested they were planning the storming of an impregnable fort ress.
“When we get back to the common room tonight, we’ll both have partners – agreed?”
“Er . . . okay,” said Harry.
But every t ime he glimpsed Cho that day – during break, and then luncht ime,
and once on the way to History of Magic – she was surrounded by friends. Didn’t she
ever go anywhere alone? Could he perhaps ambush her as she was going into a
bathroom? But no – she even seemed to go there with an escort of four or five girls.
Yet if he didn’t do it soon, she was bound to have been asked by somebody else.
He found it hard to concent rate on Snape’s Pot ions test , and consequent ly
forgot to add the key ingredient – a bezoar – meaning that he received bot tom marks.
He didn’t care, though; he was too busy screwing up his courage for what he was about
to do. When the bell rang, he grabbed his bag, and hurried to the dungeon door.
“I’ll meet you at dinner,” he said to Ron and Hermione, and he dashed off
upstairs.
He’d j ust have to ask Cho for a private word, that was all. … He hurried off
through the packed corridors looking for her, and (rather sooner than he had
expected) he found her, emerging from a Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson.
“Er – Cho? Could I have a word with you?”
Giggling should be made illegal. Harry thought furiously, as all the girls around
Cho started doing it . She didn’t , though. She said, “Okay,” and followed him out of
earshot other classmates.
Harry turned to look at her and his stomach gave a weird lurch as though he
had missed a step going downstairs.
“Er,” he said.
He couldn’t ask her. He couldn’t . But he had to. Cho stood there looking
puzzled, watching him. The words came out before Harry had quite got his tongue
around them.
“Wangoballwime?”
“Sorry?” said Cho.
“D’you – d’you want to go to the ball with me?” said Harry. Why did he have to
go red now? Why?
“Oh!” s aid Cho, and she went red too. “Oh Harry, I’m really sorry,” and she
truly looked it. “I’ve already said I’ll go with someone else.”
“Oh,” said Harry.
It was odd; a moment before his insides had been writhing like snakes, but
suddenly he didn’t seem to have any insides at all.
“Oh okay,” he said, “no problem.”
“I’m really sorry,” she said again.
“That’s okay,” said Harry.
They stood there looking at each other, and then Cho said, “Well-”
“Yeah,” said Harry.
“Well, ‘bye,” said Cho, still very red. She walked away.
Harry called after her, before he could stop himself.
“Who’re you going with?”
“Oh – Cedric,” she said. “Cedric Diggory.”
“Oh right,” said Harry.
His insides had come back again. It felt as though they had been filled with
lead in their absence.
Completely forget t ing about dinner, he walked slowly back up to Gryffindor
Tower, Cho’s voice echoing in his ears with every step he took. “Cedric – Cedric
Diggory.” He had been start ing to quite like Cedric – prepared to overlook the fact
that he had once beaten him at Quidditch, and was handsome, and popular, and nearly
everyone’s favorite champion. Now he suddenly realized that Cedric was in fact a
useless pretty boy who didn’t have enough brains to fill an eggcup.
“Fairy lights,” he said dully to the Fat Lady – the password had been changed
the previous day.
“Yes, indeed, dear!” she t rilled, st raightening her new t insel hair band as she
swung forward to admit him.
Entering the common room, Harry looked around, and to his surprise he saw
Ron sit t ing ashen-faced in a distant corner. Ginny was sit t ing with him, talking to him
in what seemed to be a low, soothing voice.
“What’s up, Ron?” said Harry, joining them.
Ron looked up at Harry, a sort of blind horror in his face.
“Why did I do it?” he said wildly. “I don’t know what made me do it!
“What?” said Harry.
“He – er – just asked Fleur Delacour to go to the ball with him,” said Ginny. She
looked as though she was fight ing back a smile, but she kept pat t ing Ron’s arm
sympathetically.
“You what?’ said Harry.
“I don’t know what made me do it !” Ron gasped again. “What was I playing at?
There were people – all around – I’ve gone mad – everyone watching! I was j ust
walking past her in the ent rance hall – she was standing there talking to Diggory – and
it sort of came over me – and I asked her!”
Ron moaned and put his face in his hands. He kept talking, though the words
were barely distinguishable.
“She looked at me like I was a sea slug or something. Didn’t even answer. And
then – I dunno – I just sort of came to my senses and ran for it.”
“She’s part veela,” said Harry. “You were right – her grandmother was one. It
wasn’t your fault, I bet you just walked past when she was turning on the old charm for
Diggory and got a blast of it – but she was wast ing her t ime. He’s going with Cho
Chang.”
Ron looked up.
“I asked her to go with me just now,” Harry said dully, “and she told me.”
Ginny had suddenly stopped smiling.
“This is mad,” said Ron. “We’re the only ones left who haven’t got anyone –
well, except Neville. Hey – guess who he asked? Hermione!”
“What?” said Harry, completely distracted by this startling news.
“Yeah, I know!” said Ron, some of the color coming back into his face as he
started to laugh. “He told me after Pot ions! Said she’s always been really nice,
helping him out with work and stuff- but she told him she was already going with
someone. Ha! As if! She just didn’t want to go with Neville … I mean, who would?”
“Don’t!” said Ginny, annoyed. “Don’t laugh -”
Just then Hermione climbed in through the portrait hole.
“Why weren’t you two at dinner?” she said, coming over to join them.
“Because – oh shut up laughing, you two – because they’ve both j ust been
turned down by girls they asked to the ball!” said Ginny.
That shut Harry and Ron up.
“Thanks a bunch, Ginny,” said Ron sourly.
“All the good-looking ones taken, Ron?” said Hermione loft ily. “Eloise Midgen
starting to look quite pretty now, is she? Well, I’m sure you’ll find someone somewhere
who’ll have you.”
But Ron was staring at Hermione as though suddenly seeing her in a whole new
light.
“Hermione, Neville’s right – you are a girl. . . .”
“Oh well spotted,” she said acidly.
“Well – you can come with one of us!”
“No, I can’t,” snapped Hermione.
“Oh come on,” he said impatiently, “we need partners, we’re going to look really
stupid if we haven’t got any, everyone else has . . .”
“I can’t come with you,” said Hermione, now blushing, “because I’m already
going with someone.”
“No, you’re not!” said Ron. “You just said that to get rid of Neville!”
“Oh did I?” said Hermione, and her eyes f lashed dangerously. “Just because it ‘s
taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn’t mean no one else has spotted I’m a girl!”
Ron stared at her. Then he grinned again.
“Okay, okay, we know you’re a girl,” he said. “That do? Will you come now?”
“I’ve already told you!” Hermione said very angrily. “I’m going with someone
else!”
And she stormed off toward the girls’ dormitories again.
“She’s lying,” said Ron flatly, watching her go.
“She’s not,” said Ginny quietly.
“Who is it then?” said Ron sharply.
“I’m not telling you, it’s her business,” said Ginny.
“Right ,” said Ron, who looked ext remely put out , “this is get t ing stupid. Ginny,
you can go with Harry, and I’ll just -”
“I can’t ,” said Ginny, and she went scarlet too. “I’m going with – with Neville.
He asked me when Hermione said no, and I thought . . . well. . . I’m not going to be
able to go otherwise, I’m not in fourth year.” She looked extremely miserable. “I think
I’ll go and have dinner,” she said, and she got up and walked off to the port rait hole,
her head bowed.
Ron goggled at Harry.
“What’s got into them?” he demanded.
But Harry had j ust seen Parvat i and Lavender come in through the port rait
hole. The time had come for drastic action.
“Wait here,” he said to Ron, and he stood up, walked straight up to Parvati, and
said, “Parvati? Will you go to the ball with me?”
Parvat i went into a fit of giggles. Harry waited for them to subside, his fingers
crossed in the pocket of his robes.
“Yes, all right then,” she said finally, blushing furiously.
“Thanks,” said Harry, in relief. “Lavender – will you go with Ron?”
“She’s going with Seamus,” said Parvat i, and the pair of them giggled harder
than ever.
Harry sighed.
“Can’t you think of anyone who’d go with Ron?” he said, lowering his voice so
that Ron wouldn’t hear.
“What about Hermione Granger?” said Parvati.
“She’s going with someone else.”
Parvati looked astonished.
“Ooooh – who?” she said keenly.
Harry shrugged. “No idea,” he said. “So what about Ron?”
“Well. . .” said Parvat i slowly, “I suppose my sister might . . . Padma, you know
… in Ravenclaw. I’ll ask her if you like.”
“Yeah, that would be great,” said Harry. “Let me know, will you?”
And he went back over to Ron, feeling that this ball was a lot more t rouble
than it was worth, and hoping very much that Padma Patil’s nose was dead center.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE – THE YULE BALL
Despite the very heavy load of homework that the fourth years had been given
for the holidays. Harry was in no mood to work when term ended, and spent the week
leading up to Christmas enj oying himself as fully as possible along with everyone else.
Gryf findor Tower was hardly less crowded now than during term-t ime; it seemed to
have shrunk slight ly too, as its inhabitants were being so much rowdier than usual.
Fred and George had had a great success with their Canary Creams, and for the first
couple of days of the holidays, people kept burst ing into feather all over the place.
Before long, however, all the Gryffindors had learned to t reat food anybody else
offered them with ext reme caut ion, in case it had a Canary Cream concealed in the
center, and George confided to Harry that he and Fred were now working on
developing something else. Harry made a mental note never to accept so much as a
crisp f rom Fred and George in future. He st ill hadn’t forgot ten Dudley and the Ton-
Tongue Toffee.
Snow was falling thickly upon the cast le and its grounds now. The pale blue
Beauxbatons carriage looked like a large, chilly, frosted pumpkin next to the iced
gingerbread house that was Hagrid’s cabin, while the Durmst rang ship’s portholes were
glazed with ice, the rigging white with frost . The house-elves down in the kitchen
were outdoing themselves with a series of rich, warming stews and savory puddings,
and only Fleur Delacour seemed to be able to find anything to complain about.
“It is too ‘eavy, all zis ‘Ogwarts food,” they heard her saying grumpily as they
left the Great Hall behind her one evening (Ron skulking behind Harry, keen not to be
spotted by Fleur). “I will not fit into my dress robes!”
“Oooh there’s a tragedy,” Hermione snapped as Fleur went out into the entrance
hall. “She really thinks a lot of herself, that one, doesn’t she?”
“Hermione – who are you going to the ball with?” said Ron.
He kept springing this quest ion on her, hoping to start le her into a response by
asking it when she least expected it . However, Hermione merely frowned and said,
“I’m not telling you, you’ll just make fun of me.”
“You’re j oking, Weasley!” said Malfoy, behind them. “You’re not telling me
someone’s asked that to the ball? Not the long-molared Mudblood?”
;
Harry and Ron both whipped around, but Hermione said loudly, waving to
somebody over Malfoys shoulder, “Hello, Professor Moody!”
Malfoy went pale and j umped backward, looking wildly around for Moody, but
he was still up at the staff table, finishing his stew.
“Twitchy lit t le ferret , aren’t you, Malfoy?” said Hermione scathingly, and she,
Harry, and Ron went up the marble staircase laughing heartily.
“Hermione,” said Ron, looking sideways at her, suddenly frowning, “your teeth
…”
“What about them?” she said.
“Well, they’re different. . . I’ve just noticed. . . .”
“Of course they are – did you expect me to keep those fangs Malfoy gave me?”
“No, I mean, they’re different to how they were before he put that hex on you.
. . . They’re all… straight and – and normal-sized.”
Hermione suddenly smiled very mischievously, and Harry not iced it too: It was
a very different smile from the one he remembered.
“Well. . . when I went up to Madam Pomfrey to get them shrunk, she held up a
mirror and told me to stop her when they were back to how they normally were,” she
said. “And I j ust . . . let her carry on a bit .” She smiled even more widely. “Mum and
Dad won’t be too pleased. I’ve been t rying to persuade them to let me shrink them for
ages, but they wanted me to carry on with my braces. You know, they’re dent ists,
they just don’t think teeth and magic should – look! Pigwidgeons back!”
Ron’s t iny owl was twit tering madly on the top of the icicle-laden banisters, a
scroll of parchment t ied to his leg. People passing him were point ing and laughing,
and a group of third-year girls paused and said, “Oh look at the weeny owl! Isn’t he
cute?”
Stupid lit t le feathery git !” Ron hissed, hurrying up the stairs and snatching up
Pigwidgeon. “You bring letters to the addressee! You don’t hang around showing off!”
Pigwidgeon hooted happily, his head prot ruding over Ron’s f ist . The third-year
girls all looked very shocked.
“Clear off!” Ron snapped at them, waving the fist holding Pigwidgeon, who
hooted more happily than ever as he soared through the air. “Here – take it , Harry,”
Ron added in an undertone as the third-year girls scut t led away looking scandalized.
He pulled Sirius’s reply off Pigwidgeons leg. Harry pocketed it , and they hurried back
to Gryffindor Tower to read it.
Everyone in the common room was much too busy in let t ing off more holiday
steam to observe what anyone else was up to. Ron, Harry, and Hermione sat apart
from everyone else by a dark window that was gradually filling up with snow, and
Harry read out:
Dear Harry,
Congrat ulat ions on get t ing past t he Hornt ail . Whoever put your
name in t hat goblet shouldn’t be feel ing t oo happy right now! I was
going t o suggest a Conj unct ivit us Curse, as a dragon’s eyes are it s
weakest point – “That ‘s what Krum did!” Hermione whispered – but your
way was better, I’m impressed.
Don’t get complacent, though. Harry. You’ve only done one task;
whoever put you in for t he t ournament ‘s got plent y more opport unit y if
t hey’re t rying t o hurt you. Keep your eyes open -part icularly when t he
person we discussed is around and concent rate on keeping yoursel f out
of trouble.
Keep in touch, I still want to hear about anything unusual.
Sirius
“He sounds exact ly like Moody,” said Harry quiet ly, tucking the let ter away
again inside his robes. “‘Constant vigilance!’ You’d think I walk around with my eyes
shut, banging off the walls. …”
“But he’s right , Harry,” said Hermione, “you have st ill got two tasks to do. You
really ought to have a look at that egg, you know, and start working out what it
means. . . .”
“Hermione, he’s got ages!” snapped Ron. “Want a game of chess, Harry?”
“Yeah, okay,” said Harry. Then, spot t ing the look on Hermione’s face, he said,
“Come on, how’m I supposed to concent rate with all this noise going on? I won’t even
be able to hear the egg over this lot.”
“Oh I suppose not ,” she sighed, and she sat down to watch their chess match,
which culminated in an excit ing checkmate of Ron’s, involving a couple of recklessly
brave pawns and a very violent bishop.
Harry awoke very suddenly on Christmas Day. Wondering what had caused his
abrupt return to consciousness, he opened his eyes, and saw something with very
large, round, green eyes staring back at him in the darkness, so close they were almost
nose to nose.
“Dobby!” Harry yelled, scrambling away from the elf so fast he almost fell out
of bed. “Don’t do that!”
“ Dobby is sorry, sir!” squeaked Dobby anxiously, j umping backward with his
long fingers over his mouth. “Dobby is only want ing to wish Harry Pot ter ‘Merry
Christmas’ and bring him a present , Sir! Harry Pot ter did say Dobby could come and
see him sometimes, sir!”
It ‘s okay,” said Harry, st ill breathing rather faster than usual, while his heart
rate returned to normal. “Just – j ust prod me or something in future, all right , don’t
bend over me like that. ..”
Harry pulled back the curtains around his four-poster, took his glasses from his
bedside table, and put them on. His yell had awoken Ron, Seamus, Dean, and Neville.
All of them were peering through the gaps in their own hangings, heavy-eyed and
tousle-haired.
“Someone attacking you, Harry?” Seamus asked sleepily.
“No, it’s just Dobby,” Harry muttered. “Go back to sleep.”
“Nah . . . presents!” said Seamus, spot t ing the large pile at the foot of his bed.
Ron, Dean, and Neville decided that now they were awake they might as well get down
to some present-opening too. Harry turned back to Dobby, who was now standing
nervously next to Harrys bed, st ill looking worried that he had upset Harry. There was
a Christmas bauble tied to the loop on top of his tea cozy.
“Can Dobby give Harry Potter his present?” he squeaked tentatively.
“‘Course you can,” said Harry. “Er. . . I’ve got something for you too.”
It was a lie; he hadn’t bought anything for Dobby at all, but he quickly opened
his t runk and pulled out a part icularly knobbly rolled-up pair of socks. They were his
oldest and foulest , mustard yellow, and had once belonged to Uncle Vernon. The
reason they were ext ra-knobbly was that Harry had been using them to cushion his
Sneakoscope for over a year now. He pulled out the Sneako-scope and handed the
socks to Dobby, saying, “Sorry, I forgot to wrap them…”
But Dobby was utterly delighted.
“Socks are Dobby’s favorite, favorite clothes, sir!” he said, ripping off his odd
ones and pulling on Uncle Vernon’s. “I has seven now, sir. . . . But sir …” he said, his
eyes widening, having pulled both socks up to their highest extent , so that they
reached to the bot tom of his shorts, “they has made a mistake in the shop, Harry
Potter, they is giving you two the same!”
“Ah, no, Harry, how come you didn’t spot that?” said Ron, grinning over from his
own bed, which was now st rewn with wrapping paper. “Tell you what , Dobby – here
you go – take these two, and you can mix them up properly. And here’s your sweater.”
He threw Dobby a pair of violet socks he had j ust unwrapped, and the handknitted
sweater Mrs. Weasley had sent, Dobby looked quite overwhelmed.
“Sir is very kind!” he squeaked, his eyes brimming with tears again, bowing
deeply to Ron. “Dobby knew sir must be a great wizard, for he is Harry Pot ter’s
greatest friend, but Dobby did not know that he was also as generous of spirit , as
noble, as selfless -”
“They’re only socks,” said Ron, who had gone slight ly pink around the ears,
though he looked rather pleased all the same. “Wow, Harry -” He had j ust opened
Harry’s present , a Chudley Cannon hat . “Cool!” He j ammed it onto his head, where it
clashed horribly with his hair.
Dobby now handed Harry a small package, which turned out to be – socks.
“Dobby is making them himself, sir!” the elf said happily. “He is buying the wool
out of his wages, sir!”
The lef t sock was bright red and had a pat tern of broomst icks upon it ; the right
sock was green with a pattern of Snitches.
“They’re . . . they’re really . . . well, thanks, Dobby,” said Harry, and he pulled
them on, causing Dobby’s eyes to leak with happiness again.
“Dobby must go now, sir, we is already making Christmas dinner in the
kitchens!” said Dobby, and he hurried out of the dormitory, waving good-bye to Ron
and the others as he passed.
Harry’s other presents were much more sat isfactory than Dobby’s odd socks –
with the obvious except ion of the Dursleys’, which consisted of a single t issue, an allt
ime low – Harry supposed they too were remember ing the Ton-Tongue Toffee.
Hermione had given Harry a book called Quiddit ch Teams of Brit ain and Ireland; Ron,
a bulging bag of Dungbombs; Sirius, a handy penknife with at tachments to unlock any
lock and undo any knot; and Hagrid, a vast box of sweets including all Harrys favorites:
Bert ie Bot t ‘s Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, and
Fizzing Whizbees. There was also, of course, Mrs. Weasley’s usual package, including a
new sweater (green, with a picture of a dragon on it – Harry supposed Charlie had told
her all about the Horntail), and a large quantity of homemade mince pies.
Harry and Ron met up with Hermione in the common room, and they went
down to breakfast together. They spent most of the morning in Gryffindor Tower,
where everyone was enj oying their presents, then returned to the Great Hall for a
magnificent lunch, which included at least a hundred turkeys and Christmas puddings,
and large piles of Cribbage’s Wizarding Crackers.
They went out onto the grounds in the af ternoon; the snow was untouched
except for the deep channels made by the Durmst rang and Beauxbatons students on
their way up to the castle. Hermione chose to watch Harry and the Weasleys’ snowball
fight rather than j oin in, and at f ive o’clock said she was going back upstairs to get
ready for the ball.
“What , you need three hours?” said Ron, looking at her incredulously and
paying for his lapse in concentration when a large snowball, thrown by George, hit him
hard on the side of the head. “Who’re you going with?” he yelled af ter Hermione, but
she just waved and disappeared up the stone steps into the castle.
There was no Christmas tea today, as the ball included a feast , so at seven
o’clock, when it had become hard to aim properly, the others abandoned their
snowball fight and t rooped back to the common room. The Fat Lady was sit t ing in her
frame with her friend Violet from downstairs, both of them ext remely t ipsy, empty
boxes of chocolate liqueurs littering the bottom other picture.
“Lairy fights, that’s the one!” she giggled when they gave the password, and she
swung forward to let them inside.
Harry, Ron, Seamus, Dean, and Neville changed into their dress robes up in
their dormitory, all of them looking very self-conscious, but none as much as Ron, who
surveyed himself in the long mirror in the corner with an appalled look on his face.
There was j ust no get t ing around the fact that his robes looked more like a dress than
anything else. In a desperate at tempt to make them look more manly, he used a
Severing Charm on the ruff and cuffs. It worked fairly well; at least he was now lacefree,
although he hadn’t done a very neat j ob, and the edges st ill looked depressingly
frayed as the boys set off downstairs.
“I st ill can’t work out how you two got the best -looking girls in the year,”
muttered Dean.
“Animal magnetism,” said Ron gloomily, pulling stray threads out of his cuffs.
The common room looked st range, full of people wearing different colors
instead of the usual mass of black. Parvat i was wait ing for Harry at the foot of the
stairs. She looked very pret ty indeed, in robes of shocking pink, with her long dark
plait braided with gold, and gold bracelets glimmering at her wrists. Harry was
relieved to see that she wasn’t giggling.
“You – er – look nice,” he said awkwardly.
“Thanks,” she said. “Padma’s going to meet you in the ent rance hall,” she added
to Ron.
“Right,” said Ron, looking around. “Where’s Hermione?”
Parvati shrugged. “Shall we go down then, Harry?”
“Okay,” said Harry, wishing he could j ust stay in the common room. Fred
winked at Harry as he passed him on the way out of the portrait hole.
The ent rance hall was packed with students too, all milling around wait ing for
eight o’clock, when the doors to the Great Hall would be thrown open. Those people
who were meet ing partners from different Houses were edging through the crowd
t rying to find one another. Parvat i found her sister, Padma, and led her over to Harry
and Ron.
“Hi,” said Padma, who was looking j ust as pret ty as Parvat i in robes of bright
turquoise. She didn’t look too enthusiast ic about having Ron as a partner, though; her
dark eyes lingered on the frayed neck and sleeves of his dress robes as she looked him
up and down.
“Hi,” said Ron, not looking at her, but staring around at the crowd. “Oh no …”
He bent his knees slight ly to hide behind Harry, because Fleur Delacour was
passing, looking stunning in robes of silver-gray sat in, and accompanied by the
Ravenclaw Quidditch captain, Roger Davies. When they had disappeared, Ron stood
straight again and stared over the heads of the crowd.
“Where is Hermione?” he said again.
A group of Slytherins came up the steps from their dungeon common room.
Malfoy was in front ; he was wearing dress robes of black velvet with a high collar,
which in Harry’s opinion made him look like a vicar. Pansy Parkinson in very frilly
robes of pale pink was clutching Malfoy’s arm. Crabbe and Goyle were both wearing
green; they resembled moss-colored boulders, and neither of them, Harry was pleased
to see, had managed to find a partner.
The oak front doors opened, and everyone turned to look as the Durmst rang
students entered with Professor Karkaroff. Krum was at the front of the party,
accompanied by a pret ty girl in blue robes Harry didn’t know. Over their heads he saw
that an area of lawn right in front of the cast le had been t ransformed into a sort of
grot to full of fairy lights – meaning hundreds of actual living fairies were sit t ing in the
rosebushes that had been conj ured there, and flut tering over the statues of what
seemed to be Father Christmas and his reindeer.
Then Professor McGonagall’s voice called, “Champions over here, please!”
Parvat i readj usted her bangles, beaming; she and Harry said, “See you in a minute” to
Ron and Padma and walked forward, the chattering crowd parting to let them through.
Professor McGonagall, who was wearing dress robes of red tartan and had arranged a
rather ugly wreath of thistles around the brim other hat, told them to wait on one side
of the doors while everyone else went inside; they were to enter the Great Hall in
procession when the rest of the students had sat down. Fleur Delacour and Roger
Davies stat ioned themselves nearest the doors; Davies looked so stunned by his good
fortune in having Fleur for a partner that he could hardly take his eyes off her. Cedric
and Cho were close to Harry too; he looked away from them so he wouldn’t have to
talk to them. His eyes fell instead on the girl next to Krum. His jaw dropped.
It was Hermione.
But she didn’t look like Hermione at all. She had done something with her hair;
it was no longer bushy but sleek and shiny, and twisted up into an elegant knot at the
back of her head. She was wearing robes made of a floaty, periwinkle-blue material,
and she was holding herself different ly, somehow – or maybe it was merely the
absence of the twenty or so books she usually had slung over her back. She was also
smiling – rather nervously, it was t rue – but the reduction in the size of her front teeth
was more not iceable than ever; Harry couldn’t understand how he hadn’t spot ted it
before.
“Hi, Harry!” she said. “Hi, Parvati!”
Parvat i was gazing at Hermione in unflat tering disbelief. She wasn’t the only
one either; when the doors to the Great Hall opened, Krum’s fan club from the library
stalked past , throwing Hermione looks of deepest loathing. Pansy Parkinson gaped at
her as she walked by with Malfoy, and even he didn’t seem to be able to find an insult
to throw at her. Ron, however, walked right past Hermione without looking at her.
Once everyone else was set t led in the Hall, Professor McGonagall told the
champions and their partners to get in line in pairs and to follow her. They did so, and
everyone in the Great Hall applauded as they entered and started walking up toward a
large round table at the top of the Hall, where the judges were sitting.
The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost , with
hundreds of garlands of mist letoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The House
tables had vanished; instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones,
each seating about a dozen people.
Harry concentrated on not tripping over his feet. Parvati seemed to be enjoying
herself; she was beaming around at everybody, steering Harry so forcefully that he felt
as though he were a show dog she was put t ing through its paces. He caught sight of
Ron and Padma as he neared the top table. Ron was watching Hermione pass with
narrowed eyes. Padma was looking sulky.
Dumbledore smiled happily as the champions approached the top table, but
Karkaroff wore an expression remarkably like Ron’s as he watched Krum and Hermione
draw nearer. Ludo Bagman, tonight in robes of bright purple with large yellow stars,
was clapping as enthusiast ically as any of the students; and Madame Maxime, who had
changed her usual uniform of black sat in for a flowing gown of lavender silk, was
applauding them politely. But Mr. Crouch, Harry suddenly realized, was not there. The
fifth seat at the table was occupied by Percy Weasley.
When the champions and their partners reached the table, Percy drew out the
empty chair beside him, staring pointedly at Harry. Harry took the hint and sat down
next to Percy, who was wearing brand-new, navy-blue dress robes and an expression of
such smugness that Harry thought it ought to be fined.
“I’ve been promoted,” Percy said before Harry could even ask, and from his
tone, he might have been announcing his elect ion as supreme ruler of the universe.
“I’m now Mr. Crouch’s personal assistant, and I’m here representing him.”
“Why didn’t he come?” Harry asked. He wasn’t looking forward to being lectured
on cauldron bottoms all through dinner.
“I’m afraid to say Mr. Crouch isn’t well, not well at all. Hasn’t been right since
the World Cup. Hardly surprising – overwork. He’s not as young as he was – though st ill
quite brilliant , of course, the mind remains as great as it ever was. But the World Cup
was a fiasco for the whole Minist ry, and then, Mr. Crouch suffered a huge personal
shock with the misbehavior of that house-elf of his, Blinky, or whatever she was
called. Naturally, he dismissed her immediately afterward, but – well, as I say, he’s
get t ing on, he needs looking after, and I think he’s found a definite drop in his home
comforts since she left . And then we had the tournament to arrange, and the
aftermath of the Cup to deal with – that revolting Skeeter woman buzzing around – no,
poor man, he’s having a well earned, quiet Christmas. I’m j ust glad he knew he had
someone he could rely upon to take his place.”
Harry wanted very much to ask whether Mr. Crouch had stopped calling Percy
“Weatherby” yet, but resisted the temptation.
There was no food as yet on the glit tering golden plates, but small menus were
lying in front of each of them. Harry picked his up uncertainly and looked around –
there were no waiters. Dumbledore, however, looked carefully down at his own
menu, then said very clearly to his plate, “Pork chops!”
And pork chops appeared. Get t ing the idea, the rest of the table placed their
orders with their plates too. Harry glanced up at Hermione to see how she felt about
this new and more complicated method of dining – surely it meant plenty of extra work
for the house-elves? – but for once, Hermione didn’t seem to be thinking about
S.P.E.W. She was deep in talk with Viktor Krum and hardly seemed to not ice what she
was eating.
It now occurred to Harry that he had never actually heard Krum speak before,
but he was certainly talking now, and very enthusiastically at that.
“Veil, ve have a cast le also, not as big as this, nor as comfortable, I am
thinking,” he was telling Hermione. “Ve have j ust four floors, and the fires are lit only
for magical purposes. But ve have grounds larger even than these – though in vinter,
ve have very lit t le daylight , so ve are not enj oying them. But in summer ve are flying
every day, over the lakes and the mountains -”
“Now, now, Viktor!” said Karkaroff with a laugh that didn’t reach his cold eyes,
“don’t go giving away anything else, now, or your charming friend will know exact ly
where to find us!”
Dumbledore smiled, his eyes twinkling. “Igor, all this secrecy ., . one would
almost think you didn’t want visitors.”
“Well, Dumbledore,” said Karkaroff, displaying his yellowing teeth to their
fullest extent , “we are all protect ive of our private domains, are we not? Do we not
j ealously guard the halls of learning that have been ent rusted to us? Are we not right
to be proud that we alone know our school’s secrets, and right to protect them?”
“Oh I would never dream of assuming I know all Hogwarts’ secrets, Igor,” said
Dumbledore amicably. “Only this morning, for instance, I took a wrong turning on the
way to the bathroom and found myself in a beaut ifully proport ioned room I have never
seen before, containing a really rather magnificent collect ion of chamber pots. When
I went back to invest igate more closely, I discovered that the room had vanished. But
I must keep an eye out for it . Possibly it is only accessible at five-thirty in the
morning. Or it may only appear at the quarter moon – or when the seeker has an exceptionally
full bladder.”
Harry snorted into his plate of goulash. Percy f rowned, but Harry could have
sworn Dumbledore had given him a very small wink.
Meanwhile Fleur Delacour was crit icizing the Hogwarts decorat ions to Roger
Davies.
“Zis is nothing,” she said dismissively, looking around at the sparkling walls of
the Great Hall. “At ze Palace of Beauxbatons, we ‘ave ice sculptures all around ze
dining chamber at Chreestmas. Zey do not melt, of course . . . zey are like ‘uge statues
of diamond, glit tering around ze place. And ze food is seemply superb. And we ‘ave
choirs of wood nymphs, ‘oo serenade us as we eat . We ‘ave none of zis ugly armor in
ze ‘alls, and eef a poltergeist ever entaired into Beauxbatons, ‘e would be expelled like
zat.” She slapped her hand onto the table impatiently.
Roger Davies was watching her talk with a very dazed look on his face, and he
kept missing his mouth with his fork. Harry had the impression that Davies was too
busy staring at Fleur to take in a word she was saying.
“Absolutely right ,” he said quickly, slapping his own hand down on the table in
imitation of Fleur. “Like that. Yeah.”
Harry looked around the Hall. Hagrid was sit t ing at one of the other staff
tables; he was back in his horrible hairy brown suit and gazing up at the top table.
Harry saw him give a small wave, and looking around, saw Madame Maxime return it ,
her opals glittering in the candlelight.
Hermione was now teaching Krum to say her name properly; he kept calling her
“Hermy-own.”
“Her-my-oh-nee,” she said slowly and clearly.
“Herm-own-ninny.”
“Close enough,” she said, catching Harry’s eye and grinning.
When all the food had been consumed, Dumbledore stood up and asked the
students to do the same. Then, with a wave of his wand, all the tables zoomed back
along the walls leaving the floor clear, and then he conj ured a raised plat form into
existence along the right wall. A set of drums, several guitars, a lute, a cello, and
some bagpipes were set upon it.
The “Weird Sisters now t rooped up onto the stage to wildly enthusiastic
applause; they were all ext remely hairy and dressed in black robes that had been
artfully ripped and torn. They picked up their instruments, and Harry, who had been so
interested in watching them that he had almost forgot ten what was coming, suddenly
realized that the lanterns on all the other tables had gone out , and that the other
champions and their partners were standing up.
“Come on!” Parvati hissed. “We’re supposed to dance!”
Harry tripped over his dress robes as he stood up. The Weird Sisters struck up a
slow, mournful tune; Harry walked onto the bright ly lit dance floor, carefully avoiding
catching anyone’s eye (he could see Seamus and Dean waving at him and sniggering),
and next moment , Parvat i had seized his hands, placed one around her waist , and was
holding the other tightly in hers.
It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Harry thought , revolving slowly on the
spot (Parvat i was steering). He kept his eyes fixed over the heads of the watching
people, and very soon many of them too had come onto the dance floor, so that the
champions were no longer the center of at tent ion. Neville and Ginny were dancing
nearby – he could see Ginny wincing frequent ly as Neville t rod on her feet – and
Dumbledore was waltzing with Madame Maxime. He was so dwarfed by her that the
top of his pointed hat barely t ickled her chin; however, she moved very gracefully for
a woman so large. Mad-Eye Moody was doing an ext remely ungainly two-step with
Professor Sinistra, who was nervously avoiding his wooden leg.
“Nice socks. Pot ter,” Moody growled as he passed, his magical eye staring
through Harry’s robes.
“Oh – yeah, Dobby the house-elf knitted them for me,” said Harry, grinning.
“He is so creepy!” Parvat i whispered as Moody clunked away. “I don’t think
that eye should be allowed.”
Harry heard the final, quavering note from the bagpipe with relief. The Weird
Sisters stopped playing, applause filled the hall once more, and Harry let go of Parvat i
at once.
“Let’s sit down, shall we?”
“Oh – but – this is a really good one!” Parvati said as the Weird Sisters struck up
a new song, which was much faster.
“No, I don’t like it ,” Harry lied, and he led her away from the dance floor, past
Fred and Angelina, who were dancing so exhuberant ly that people around them were
backing away in fear of inj ury, and over to the table where Ron and Padma were
sitting.
“How’s it going?” Harry asked Ron, sit t ing down and opening a bot t le of
butterbeer.
Ron didn’t answer. He was glaring at Hermione and Krum, who were dancing
nearby. Padma was sit t ing with her arms and legs crossed, one foot j iggling in t ime to
the music. Every now and then she threw a disgrunt led look at Ron, who was
completely ignoring her. Parvat i sat down on Harry’s other side, crossed her arms and
legs too, and within minutes was asked to dance by a boy from Beauxbatons.
“You don’t mind, do you, Harry?” Parvati said.
“What?” said Harry, who was now watching Cho and Cedric.
“Oh never mind,” snapped Parvat i, and she went off with the boy from
Beauxbatons. When the song ended, she did not return.
Hermione came over and sat down in Parvat i’s empty chair. She was a bit pink
in the face from dancing.
“Hi,” said Harry. Ron didn’t say anything.
“It ‘s hot , isn’t it?” said Hermione, fanning herself with her hand. “Viktors j ust
gone to get some drinks.”
Ron gave her a withering look. “Viktor?” he said. “Hasn’t he asked you to call
him Vicky yet?”
Hermione looked at him in surprise. “What’s up with you?” she said.
“If you don’t know,” said Ron scathingly, “I’m not going to tell you.”
Hermione stared at him, then at Harry, who shrugged.
“Ron, what – ?”
“He’s from Durmst rang!” spat Ron. “He’s compet ing against Harry! Against
Hogwarts! You – you’re -” Ron was obviously cast ing around for words st rong enough to
describe Hermione’s crime, “fraternizing with the enemy, that’s what you’re doing!”
Hermione’s mouth fell open.
“Don’t be so stupid!” she said after a moment . “The enemy! Honestly – who was
the one who was all excited when they saw him arrive? Who was the one who wanted
his autograph? Who’s got a model of him up in their dormitory?”
Ron chose to ignore this. “I s’pose he asked you to come with him while you
were both in the library?”
“Yes, he did,” said Hermione, the pink patches on her cheeks glowing more
brightly. “So what?”
“What happened – trying to get him to join spew, were you?”
“No, I wasn’t ! If you really want to know, he – he said he’d been coming up to
the library every day to t ry and talk to me, but he hadn’t been able to pluck up the
courage!”
Hermione said this very quickly, and blushed so deeply that she was the same
color as Parvati’s robes.
“Yeah, well – that’s his story,” said Ron nastily.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Obvious, isn’t it? He’s Karkaroff’s student , isn’t he? He knows who you hang
around with. . . . He’s j ust t rying to get closer to Harry – get inside informat ion on him
– or get near enough to jinx him -”
Hermione looked as though Ron had slapped her. When she spoke, her voice
quivered.
“For your information, he hasn’t asked me one single thing about Harry, not one
-”
Ron changed tack at the speed of light.
“Then he’s hoping you’ll help him find out what his egg means! I suppose you’ve
been putting your heads together during those cozy little library sessions -”
“I’d never help him work out that egg!” said Hermione, looking out raged.
“Never. How could you say something like that – I want Harry to win the tournament .
Harry knows that, don’t you, Harry?”
“You’ve got a funny way of showing it,” sneered Ron.
“This whole tournament ‘s supposed to be about get t ing to know foreign wizards
and making friends with them!” said Hermione hotly.
“No it isn’t!” shouted Ron. “It’s about winning!”
People were starting to stare at them.
“Ron,” said Harry quiet ly, “I haven’t got a problem with Hermione coming with
Krum -”
But Ron ignored Harry too.
“Why don’t you go and find Vicky, he’ll be wondering where you are,” said Ron.
“Don’t call him Vicky!”
Hermione j umped to her feet and stormed off across the dance floor,
disappearing into the crowd. Ron watched her go with a mixture of anger and
satisfaction on his face.
“Are you going to ask me to dance at all?” Padma asked him.
“No,” said Ron, still glaring after Hermione.
“Fine,” snapped Padma, and she got up and went to j oin Parvat i and the
Beauxbatons boy, who conj ured up one of his friends to j oin them so fast that Harry
could have sworn he had zoomed him there by a Summoning Charm.
“Vare is Herm-own-ninny?” said a voice.
Krum had just arrived at their table clutching two butterbeers.
“No idea,” said Ron mulishly, looking up at him. “Lost her, have you?”
Krum was looking surly again.
“Veil, if you see her, tell her I haff drinks,” he said, and he slouched off.
“Made friends with Viktor Krum, have you, Ron?”
Percy had bust led over, rubbing his hands together and looking ext remely
pompous. “Excellent ! That ‘s the whole point , you know – internat ional magical
cooperation!”
To Harry’s displeasure, Percy now took Padma’s vacated seat . The top table
was now empty; Professor Dumbledore was dancing with Professor Sprout , Ludo
Bagman with Professor McGonagall; Madame Maxime and Hagrid were cut t ing a wide
path around the dance floor as they waltzed through the students, and Karkaroff was
nowhere to be seen. When the next song ended, everybody applauded once more, and
Harry saw Ludo Bagman kiss Professor McGonagall’s hand and make his way back
through the crowds, at which point Fred and George accosted him.
“What do they think they’re doing, annoying senior Minist ry members?” Percy
hissed, watching Fred and George suspiciously. “No respect…”
Ludo Bagman shook off Fred and George fairly quickly, however, and, spot t ing
Harry, waved and came over to their table.
“I hope my brothers weren’t bothering you, Mr. Bagman?” said Percy at once.
“What?Oh not at all, not at all!” said Bagman. “No, they were j ust telling me a
bit more about those fake wands of theirs. Wondering if I could advise them on the
market ing. I’ve promised to put them in touch with a couple of contacts of mine at
Zonko’s Joke Shop. …”
Percy didn’t look happy about this at all, and Harry was prepared to bet he
would be rushing to tell Mrs. Weasley about this the moment he got home. Apparent ly
Fred and George’s plans had grown even more ambit ious lately, if they were hoping to
sell to the public. Bagman opened his mouth to ask Harry something, but Percy
diverted him.
“How do you feel the tournament ‘s going, Mr. Bagman? Our department ‘s quite
satisfied – the hitch with the Goblet of Fire” – he glanced at Harry – “was a lit t le
unfortunate, of course, but it seems to have gone very smoothly since, don’t you
think?”
“Oh yes,” Bagman said cheerfully, “it ‘s all been enormous fun. How’s old Barty
doing? Shame he couldn’t come.”
“Oh I’m sure Mr. Crouch will be up and about in no t ime,” said Percy
important ly, “but in the meant ime, I’m more than willing to take up the slack. Of
course, it ‘s not all at tending balls” – he laughed airily – “oh no, I’ve had to deal with all
sorts of things that have cropped up in his absence – you heard Ali Bashir was caught
smuggling a consignment of flying carpets into the count ry? And then we’ve been
trying to persuade the Transylvanians to sign the International Ban on Dueling. I’ve got
a meeting with their Head of Magical Cooperation in the new year -”
“Let’s go for a walk,” Ron muttered to Harry, “get away from Percy. …”

Tentang taoefiq27

I'm only usual man
Pos ini dipublikasikan di Harry Potter, Novel dan tag . Tandai permalink.

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