J_K_Rowling_-_HP_4_-_Harry_Potter_and_the_Gobl

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Harry Potter
AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

also by j. k. rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer ’s Stone
Year One at Hogwarts

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Year Two at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Year Three at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Year Four at Hogwarts

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Year Five at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Half -Blood Prince
Year Six at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Year Seven at Hogwarts

H arry P otter
and the goblet of
fire









BY
J. K. Rowling
ILLUSTRATIONS BY M ary
G randPr й

ARTHUR A. LEVINE BOOKS
AN IMPRINT OF SCHOLASTIC Press.

T o Peter Rowling,
In Memory of Mr.
Ridley And to Susan
Sladden, Who helped
Harry Out of his
cupboard



Text copyright © 2000 by J.K. Rowling Illustrations by Mary GrandPre copyright © 2000 Warner Bros. All rights
reserved. Published by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic Inc., Publishers since 1920. SCHOLASTIC , SCHOLASTIC PRESS , and the LANTERN LOGO are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc. HARRY POTTER and all related characters and elements are trademarks of Warner Bros. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without written permission of the publisher. For information regarding permission, write
to Scholastic Inc., Attent ion: Permissions Department, 555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.
Library of Congress Cataloging -in-Publication Data Available
Library of Congress catalog card number: 00 -131084 ISBN 0 -439 -13959 -7 Sequel to: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azk aban Summary: Fourteen -year -old Harry
Potter joins the Weasleys at the Quidditch World Cup, then enters his fourth year at Hogwarts
Academy where he is mysteriously entered in an unusual contest that challenges his wizarding
skills, friendships and charact er, amid signs that an old enemy is growing stronger. 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 Printed
in the U.S.A. 55 First American edition, July 2000

Contents
ONE
Th e Riddle House · 1
TWO
The Scar · 16
THREE
The Invitation · 26
FOUR
Back to the Burrow · 39
FIVE
Weasleys ’ Wizard Wheezes · 51
SIX
The Portkey · 65
SEVEN
Bagman and Crouch · 75
EIGHT
The Quidditch World Cup · 95
 vii ‘

Contents
NINE
The Dark Mark · 117
TEN
Mayhem at the Ministry · 145
ELEVEN
Aboard the Hogwarts Express · 158
TWELVE
The Triwizard Tournament · 171
THIRTEEN
Mad -Eye Moody · 193
FOURTEEN
The Unforgivable Curses · 209
FIFTEEN
Beauxbatons and Durmstrang · 228
SIXTEEN
The Goblet of Fire · 248
SEVENTEEN
The Four Champions · 272
 viii ‘

Contents
EIGHTEEN
The Weighing of the Wands · 228
NINETEEN
The Hungarian Horntail · 313
TWENTY
The First Task · 337
TWENTY -ONE
The House -Elf Liberation Front · 363
TWENTY -TWO
The Unexpected Task · 385
TWENTY -Three
The Yule Ball · 403
TWENTY -FOUR
Rita Skeeter ’s Scoop · 433
TWENTY -FIVE
The Egg and the Eye · 458
TWENTY -SIX
The Second Task · 479
 ix ‘

Contents
TWENTY -SEVEN
Padfoot Returns · 509
TWENTY -EIGHT
The Madness of Mr. Crouch · 535
TWENTY -NINE
The Dream · 564
THIRTY
The Pensieve · 581
THIRTY -ONE
The Third Task · 605
THIRTY -TWO
Flesh, Blood, and Bone · 636
THIRTY -THREE
The Death Eaters · 644
THIRTY -FOUR
Priori Incantatem · 659
THIRTY -FIVE
Veritaserum · 670
 x ‘

Contents
THIRTY -SIX
The Parting of the Ways · 692
THIRTY -SEVEN
The Beginning · 716


























 xi ‘

Harry Potter
And the GOBLET of FIRE

C H A P T E R O N E









THE RIDDLE
HOUSE




he villagers of Little Hangleton still called it “the Riddle
T
House, ” even though it had been many years since the Rid -
dle family had lived there. It stood on a hill overlooking the village,
some of its windows boarded, tiles missing from its roof, and ivy
spreading unchecked over its face. Once a fine -looking manor, and
easily the largest and grandest building for miles a round, the Rid - dle
House was now damp, derelict, and unoccupied.
The Little Hangletons all agreed that the old house was “creepy. ” Half a
century ago, something strange 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 times, and had been embroidered in so many places, that
nobody was quite sure what the truth was an ymore. Every version of
the tale, however, started in the same place: Fifty years before, at
daybreak on a fine summer ’s morning, when the
 1 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

Riddle House had still been well kept and impressive, a maid ha d
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! Still in their dinner
things! ”
The police were summoned, and the whole of Little 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. Ri ddle had been
rich, snobbish, and rude, and their grown -up son, Tom, had been, if
anything, worse. All the villagers cared about was the identity of their
murderer — for plainly, three apparently healthy people did not all
drop dead of natural causes on t he same night.
The Hanged Man, the village pub, did a roaring trade 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 dramatically in their midst a nd announced to the suddenly
silent pub that a man called Frank Bryce had just 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. Fran k had come back
from the war with a very stiff 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 e agerly listening vil -
 2 ‘

THE RIDDLE HOUSE

lagers, after her fourth sherry. “Unfriendly, like. I ’m sure if I ’ve of -
fered 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 cottage far back as
I can remember! Nobo dy 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 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 fervently. “I remember, when
he was a kid . . . ”
By the following morning, hardly anyone in Little Hangleton doubted
that Frank Bryce had killed the Riddles.
But over in the neighboring town of Great Hangleton, in the dark and
dingy police station, Frank was stubbo rnly repeating, 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
stranger, dark -haired and pale. Nobody else in the village had seen any
such boy, and the police were quite sure that Frank had invented him.
Then, just when things were looking very serious for Frank, the report
on the Riddles ’ bodies came back and changed everything.
 3 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

The police had never read an odder report. A team of doctors had
examined the bodies and had concluded that none of the Rid - dles had
been poisoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, suffocated, or (as far as they
could tell) harmed at all. In fact (the report con tinued, in a tone of
unmistakable bewilderment), the Riddles all appeared to be in perfect
health — apart from the fact that they were all dead. The doctors did
note (as though determined to find some - thing wrong with the bodies)
that each of the Riddles had a look of terror upon his or her face — but
as the frustrated 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 Riddl es were buried in the
Little Hangleton churchyard, and their graves remained objects of
curiosity for a while. To everyone ’s surprise, and amid a cloud of
suspicion, Frank Bryce returned to his cottage 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 wh o lived in the Riddle House, and then the next — for neither
family stayed long. Perhaps it was partly 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
 4 ‘

THE RIDDLE H OUSE

be. The wealthy owner continued to pay Frank to do the garden - ing,
however. Frank was nearing his seventy -seventh birthday now, very
deaf, his bad leg stiffer than ever, but could be seen pottering around
the flower beds in fine weather, even though the weeds were starting to
creep up on him, try as he might to suppress them.
Weeds were not the only things Frank had to contend with ei - ther.
Boys from the village made a habit of throwing stones thro ugh 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 devotion to the
house and grounds amounted almost to an ob session, and it amused
them to see him limping across the gar - den, brandishing his stick and
yelling croakily at them. Frank, for his part, believed the boys
tormented him because they, like their parents and grandparents,
thought 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 fur - ther in their attempts to punish
him.
It was Frank ’s bad leg that woke him; it was paining him worse than
ever in his ol d age. He got up and limped downstairs into the kitchen
with the idea of refilling his hot -water bottle to ease the stiffness in his
knee. Standing at the sink, filling the kettle, he looked up at the Riddle
House and saw lights glimmering in its up - per w indows. 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, and in any case, he had deeply mis - trusted
the police ever since they had taken him in for questioning about the
Riddles ’ deaths. He put down the kettle at once, hurried
 5 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

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 stick, 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
until he reached a door almost completely hid - den 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 en - tered it
for many years; nevertheless, although it was very dark, he
remembered where the door into the hall was, and he groped his way
toward it, his nostrils full of the smell of decay, ears pricked for any
sound of footsteps or voices from over head. He reached the hall,
which was a little lighter owing to the large mullioned win - dows 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 st ick.
On the landing, Frank turned right, and saw at once where the
intruders were: At the very end of the passage a door stood ajar, and a
flickering light shone through the gap, casting a long sliver of gold
across the black floor. Frank edged closer and closer, grasping his
walking stick firmly. Several feet from the entrance, he was able to see
a narrow slice of the room beyond.
The fire, he now saw, had been lit in the grate. This surprised him.
Then he stopped moving and listened intently, 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. ”
 6 ‘

THE RIDDLE HOUSE

“Later, ” said a second voice. This too belonged to a man — but it was
strangely 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. ”
Fr ank turned his right ear toward the door, the better to hear. There
came the clink of a bottle 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, h is 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 fir st voice nervously. “She set
out to explore the house, I think. . . . ”
“You will milk her before we retire, 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 still 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. “Perhaps longer. The place is mod - erately
comfortab le, 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. Ow - ing, 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.
 7 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

(Frank dug his finger still 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
country from all over the world, and every meddler from the Min - istry
of Magic will be on duty, on the watch for signs of unusual ac - tivit y,
checking and double -checking identities. They will be obsessed with
security, lest the Muggles notice anything. So we wait. ”
Frank stopped trying to clear out his ear. He had distinctly heard the
words “Ministry of Magic, ” “wizards, ” and “Muggles. ” Pla inly, 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 tightened his hold on his walking stick once more, and listened
more closely still.
“Your Lordshi p 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 then Wormtail spoke, the words
tumbling from him in a rush, as though he was forcin g 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
 8 ‘

THE RIDDLE HOUSE

wi zard — 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 effectively — I could be back here in as
little 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 volun teer to go and fetch me a substitute? I won - der . . .
perhaps the task of nursing me has become wearisome for you,
“Wormtail? Could this suggestion of abandoning the plan be nothing
more than an attempt to desert me? ”
“My Lord! I — I have no wish to leav e you, none at all — ” “Do not lie
to me! ” hissed the second voice. “I can always tell, Wormtail! You are
regretting 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 devoti on to Your Lordship — ”
“Your devotion is nothing more than cowardice. You would not be
here if you had anywhere else to go. How am I to survive with - out 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 stronger, and a few days alone would be
enough to rob me of the little health I have re -
gained under your clumsy care. Silence !”
Wormtail, who had been sputtering i ncoherently, fell silent at
 9 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

once. For a few seconds, Frank could hear nothing but the fire
crackling. Then 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 protection sur - rounding
the boy, I believe my plan will be effective. All that is needed is a little
courage from you, Wormtail — courage you will find, unless you wish
to feel the full extent of Lord Voldemort ’s wrath — ”
“My Lord, I must speak! ” said Wormtail, panic in his voice now. “All
through our journey I have gone ove r the plan in my head — My Lord,
Bertha Jorkins ’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 h as died.
You will do it quietly and without fuss; I only wish that I could do it
myself, but in my present condition . . . Come, Wormtail, one more
death and our path to Harry Potter is clear. I am not asking
you to do it alone. By that time, my faithf ul servant will have re -
joined us — ”
“ I am a faithful servant, ” said Wormtail, the merest trace of sul -
lenness in his voice.
“Wormtail, I need somebody with brains, somebody whose loy - alty
has never wavered, and you, un fortunately, fulfill neither
requirement. ”
“I found you, ” said Wormtail, and there was definitely a sulky edge to
his voice now. “I was the one who found you. I brought you Bertha
Jorkins. ”
 10 ‘

THE RIDDLE HOUSE

“That is true, ” said the second man, sounding amused. “A stroke of
brilliance I would not have thought possible from you, Worm - tail —
though, if truth 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 informa - tion was invaluable.
Without it, I could never have formed our plan, and for that, you will
have your reward, Wormtail. I will al - low you to perform an essential
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 s poil the surprise? Your part will
come at the very end . . . but I promise you, you will have the honor of
being just 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 af - ter my
questioning, quite useless. In any case, awkward questions would have
been asked if she had gone back to the Ministry 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 muttered something so quietly that Frank could not hear it,
but it made the second man laugh — an entirely mirthless laugh, cold
as his speech.
 11 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

“ We could have modified her memory ? But Memory Charms can
be broken by a powerful wizard, as I proved when I questioned her.
It would be an insult to her memory not to use the information I ex -
tracted from her, Wormtail. ”
Out in the corridor, Frank suddenly became aware that the hand
gripping his walking stick 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 time to go to the
police. He would creep out of the house and head straight for the
telephone box in the village . . . but the cold voice was speaking again,
and Frank remained where he was, frozen to the spot, listen - ing with
all his might.
“One more murder . . . my faithful servant at Hogwarts . . . Harry
Potter 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 spitting 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 pas - sageway.
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 gigantic snake, at least twelve feet long. Horrified,
transfixed, Frank stared as its undulating body cut
 12 ‘

THE RIDDLE HOUSE

a wide, curving track 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 two men sat plotting murder, yet if he stayed where he
was the snake would surely kill him —
But be fore he had made his decision, the snake was level with him, and
then, incredibly, miraculously, it was passing; it was fol - lowing the
spitting, hissing noises made by the cold voice beyond the door, and in
seconds, the tip of its diamond -patterned tail h ad vanished through the
gap.
There was sweat on Frank ’s forehead now, and the hand on the
walking stick was trembling. Inside the room, the cold voice was
continuing to hiss, and Frank was visited by a strange idea, an im -
possible 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 bottle. The problem
was that his legs didn ’t seem to want to move. As he stood there
shaking and trying to mas ter 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? ”
 13 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

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 rotting hearth rug, like some horrible travesty of a pet
dog.
Wormtail beckoned Frank into the ro om. Though still deeply shaken,
Frank took a firmer grip upon 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
m an inside it seemed to be even smaller than his ser - vant, 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, n ow that the time had come for some sort of action, 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 you this 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 the cold voice, very quietly. “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? W ell, I don ’t
think much of your manners, My Lord. Turn ’round and face me
like a man, why don ’t you? ”
 14 ‘

THE RIDDLE HOUSE

“But I am not a man, Muggle, ” said the cold voice, barely audi - ble
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, a s 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 triangular head and hissed slightly as the legs of the
chair sn agged on its rug.
And then the chair was facing Frank, and he saw what was sit - ting in it.
His walking stick fell to the floor with a clatter. He opened his mouth
and let out a scream. He was screaming so loudly that he never heard
the words the thing i n 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.











 15 ‘

C H A P T E R T W O









THE SCAR




arry lay flat on his back, breathing hard as though he had
H
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 still on his scar, the other 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 filtering through the curtains from the street l amp outside the
window.
Harry ran his fingers over the scar again. It was still 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 in - side of the
door. A skinny boy of fourteen looked back at him, his bright green
eyes puzzled under his untidy black hair. He examined
 16 ‘

THE SCAR

the lightning -bolt scar of his reflection more closely. It looked normal,
but it was still stinging.
Harry tried 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 dow n into his stomach
at the very thought. . . .
He closed his eyes tightly and tried to remember what Volde - mort 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 sitting 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 definitely been an old
man; Harry had watched him fall to the ground. It was all be - coming
confused. Harry put his face into his hands, blocking out his bedroom,
trying to hold on to the picture of that dimly lit room, but it was like
trying to keep water in his cupped hands; the details were now trickling
away as fast as he tried to hol d on to them. . . . Voldemort and
Wormtail had been talking about some - one 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, ope ned his eyes, and stared
around his bedroom as though expecting to see something unusual
 17 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

there. As it happened, there were an extraordinary number of un - usual
things in this room. A large wooden trunk stood open at the foot of his
bed, revealing a cauldron, broomstick, black robes, and assorted
spellbooks. Rolls of parchment littered that part of his desk that was
not taken up by the large, empty cage in which his snowy owl, Hedwig,
usually perche d. 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 or - ange robes were zooming in
and out of sight on broomsticks, throwing a red ball to one another.
Harry walked over to the book, picked it up, and watched one of the
wizards score a spectacular goal by putting 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 w orld —
couldn ’t distract him at the moment. He placed Flying with the
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 in the 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 restlessly ba ck 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 stranger to pain and in - jury. He had lost
all the bones from his right arm once and had them painfully regrown
in a night. The same arm had been pierced by a venomous foot -long
fang not long afterward. Only last year Harry had fallen fifty feet from
an airborne broomstick. He was used to bizarre accidents and injuries;
they were unavoidable if you
 18 ‘

THE SCAR

attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and had a
knack for attracting a lot of trouble.
No, the thing that was bothering Harry was that the last time 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 jumped slightly 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 un - troubled 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 relatives . 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 perfectly well that, as an underage wizard,
Harry wasn ’t allowed to use magic out - side Hogwarts, but they were
still apt to blame him for any thing that went wrong about the house.
Harry had never been able to confide in them or tell them anything
about his life in the wizard - ing world. The very idea of going to them
when they awoke, and telling them about his scar hurting him, and
about his wo rries about Voldemort, was laughable.
 19 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

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 still 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 gain - ing 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 Volde - mort had been reduced to something barely alive. His
powe rs 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 s hock for Harry to discover, on his eleventh
birthday, that he was a wizard; it had been even more dis - concerting 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
fo llowed 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 still a fortnight to go before he went back to school. He
looked hopelessly around his room again, and his eye
 20 ‘

THE SCAR

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 ’ll go and check Common Magical Ailments and
Afflictions. . . . Maybe there ’s something in there about curse scars. . . . ”
Yes, that would be Hermione ’s advice: Go straight to the head - master
of Hogwarts, and in the meantime, consu lt 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 Volde - mort ’s; it was highly
unlikely, therefore, t hat he would find his
symptoms listed in Common Magical Ailments and Afflictions. As
for informing the headmaster, Harry had no idea where Dumble - dore
went during the summer holidays. He amused himself for a moment,
picturing Dumbledore, with his lo ng silver beard, full - length wizard ’s
robes, and pointed hat, stretched out on a beach somewhere, rubbing
suntan lotion onto his long crooked nose. Wherever Dumbledore was,
though, Harry was sure that Hedwig would be able to find him; Harry ’s
owl had neve r yet failed to de - liver a letter to anyone, even without an
address. But what would he write?
Dear Professor Dumbledore, Sorry to bother you, but my scar hurt
this morning. Yours sincerely, Harry Potter.
Even inside his head the words sounde d stupid. And so he tried to
imagine his other best friend, Ron Weasley ’s,
 21 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

reaction, and in a moment, Ron ’s red hair and long -nosed, freckled
face seemed to swim before Harry, wearing a bemused expressi on.
“ 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 trying to
do you in again, wouldn ’t he ? 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 Artifacts Office at the Ministry of Magic, but he didn ’t have
any particular expertise in the matter of curses, as far as Harry knew. In
any case, Harry didn ’t like the idea o f the whole Weasley family
knowing that he, Harry, was getting jumpy 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 wer e Harry ’s favorite family in the world; he was
hoping that they might invite him to stay any time now (Ron had
mentioned some - thing about the Quidditch World Cup), and he
somehow didn ’t want his visit punctuated with anxious inquiries about
his scar. Harr y 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 ad -
vice he could ask without feeling stupid, someone who cared about
him, who had had experience with Dark Magic. . . .
And then the solution came to him. It was so simple, and so ob -
vious, 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, still marveling
 22 ‘

THE SCAR

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
lif e until then — Sirius had been in Azkaban, the terrifying wizard jail
guarded by creatures called dementors, sightless, 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 committed by Worm - tail, 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 Pro fessor 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 Ministry of
Magic, and Sirius had had to flee for his life. Harry had helped him
escape on the back of a hippogriff called Buckbeak, and since then,
Sirius had been on the run. The home Harry might have had if
Wormtail had not escaped had been haunting him all summer. It had
been doubly hard to return to the Dursleys know - ing 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 miser - able
as possible, coupled with their fear of his powers, had led them to lock
his school trunk in the cupboard under the stairs every
 23 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

summer prior to this. But their attitude had changed since they had
found out that Harry had a dangerous murderer for a god - father —
for Harry had conveniently forgotten to tell them that Sirius was
innocent.
Harry had received two letters 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 tray before flying off again. Harry,
on the other hand , had liked them; they put him in mind of palm trees
and white sand, and he hoped that, wherever Sirius was (Sirius never
said, in case the letters were inter - cepted), he was enjoying himself.
Somehow, Harry found it hard to imagine dementors surviving fo r
long in bright sunlight; perhaps that was why Sirius had gone south.
Sirius ’s letters, which were now hidden beneath the highly useful loose
floorboard under Harry ’s bed, sounded cheerful, and in both of them
he had reminded Harry to call on him if ever Harry needed to. Well, he
needed to 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 parch - ment and
reread his finished letter.

Dear Sirius,
Thanks for your last letter. That bird was enormous ; it
could hardl y get through my window.
 24 ‘

THE SCAR

Things are the same as usual here. Dudley ’s diet isn ’t going too well. My
aunt found him smuggling doughnuts into his room yesterday. They told
him they ’d have to cut his pocket money if he keeps doing it, so he got really
angry and chucked his PlayStation out of the window. That ’s a sort of
computer thing 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 the Dursleys are terrified you
might turn up and turn them all into bats if I ask you to.
A weird thing happened this morning, though. My scar hurt again. Last
time that happened it was because Voldemort was at Hogwarts. But I
don ’t reckon he can be anywhere near
me now, can he ? Do you know if curse scars sometimes hurt
years afterward ?
I’ll send this with Hedwig when she gets back ; she ’s off hunt -
ing at the moment. Say hello to Buckbeak for me.



Yes, thought Harry, that looked all right. There was no point putting 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, stretched, and opened his
wardrobe once more. Without glancing at his re - flection, he started to
get dressed before going down to breakfast.



 25 ‘

C H A P T E R T H R E E









THE INVITATION




y the time Harry arrived in the kitchen, the three Dursleys
B

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 Du dley ’s
plate with a tremulous “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 Dud - ley was a
very gifted boy whose teachers didn ’t understand him,
 26 ‘

THE INVITATION

while Uncle Vernon maintained that “he didn ’t want some swotty littl e
nancy boy for a son anyway. ” They also skated over the accu - sations
of bullying in the report — “He ’s a boisterous little boy, but he
wouldn ’t hurt a fly! ” Aunt Petunia had said tearfully.
However, at the bottom of the report there were a few well - chosen
comments from the school nurse that not even Uncle Ver - non and
Aunt Petunia could explain away. No matter 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 outfitters 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 ob - servi ng the comings and goings of the
neighbors — simply refused to see: that far from needing extra
nourishment, Dudley had reached roughly the size and weight of a
young killer whale.
So — after many tantrums, after arguments that shook Harry ’s
bedroom fl oor, 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 fridge, which had been emptied of all
Dudley ’s favorite things — fizzy drinks and cakes, chocolate bar s and
burgers — and filled instead with fruit and veg - etables and the sorts of
things that Uncle Vernon called “rabbit food. ” To make Dudley feel
better about it all, Aunt Petunia had insisted that the whole family
follow the diet too. She now passed a gr apefruit quarter to Harry. He
noticed that it was a lot smaller than Dudley ’s. Aunt Petunia seemed to
feel 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.
 27 ‘

CHA PTER THREE

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 s ticks, Harry had sent
Hedwig to his friends with pleas for help, and they had risen to the
occasion magnificently. Hedwig had returned from Hermione ’s house
with a large box stuffed full of sugar -free snacks. (Hermione ’s parents
were dentists.) Hagrid, th e 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 asso rted meat pies. Poor Errol, who was elderly and
feeble, had needed a full five days to recover from the journey. And
then on Harry ’s birthday (which the Dursleys had completely ignored)
he had received four superb birthday cakes, one each from Ron,
Hermion e, Hagrid, and Sirius. Harry still 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 disap - proval
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
 28 ‘

THE INVITATION

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 curtly. 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 curi - ously
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 time,
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 strain from lack
of food. He therefore settled for looking politely puzzled. “This just
arrived, ” said Uncle Vernon. He brandished a piece of purple writing
paper at Harry. “A letter. About you. ”
Harry ’s confusion increased. Who would be writing 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 letter and
began to read aloud:
 29 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dursley,
We have never been introduced, 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 this Monday night, and my husband, Arthur, has just
managed to get prime tickets through his con -
nections at the Department of Magical Games and Sports.
I do hope you will allow us to take Harry to the match, as this really is
a once -in-a-lifetime opportunity; Britain hasn ’t hosted the cup for thirty
years, and tickets are extremely hard to come b y. We would of course be
glad to have Harry stay for the remainder of the summer holidays, and to
see him safely
onto the train back to school.
It would be best for Harry to send us your answer as quickly as possible
in the normal way, because the M uggle postman has never delivered to our
house, and I am not sure he even knows
where it is.
Hoping to see Harry soon,
Yours sincerely,



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 letter 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
 30 ‘

THE INVITATION

which Mrs. Weasley had squeezed the Dursleys ’ address in minute
writing.
“She did put enough stamps on, then, ” said Harry, trying to sound as
though Mrs. Weasley ’s was a mistake anyone could make. His uncle ’s
eyes flashed.
“The postman noticed, ” he said through gritted teeth. “Very in -
terested to know where this letter came from, he was. That ’s why he
rang the doorbell. Seemed to thi nk 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 slightly out o f 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 still glaring at Harry, who tried to keep his ex -
pression neutral. If he didn ’t do or say anyt hing stupid, he might just be
in for the treat of a lifetime. He waited for Uncle Vernon to say
something, but he merely continued 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 bristled. Harry thought he knew what was going on be - hind
the mustache: a furious battle as two of Uncle Vernon ’s most
fundamental instincts came into conflict. Allowing Harry to go would
make Harry happy, something Uncle Vernon had struggled 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
 31 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

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 friend Ron ’s mother, she was
meeting 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 mentioned the name of
Harry ’s school aloud in the Dursley household.
Uncle Vernon screwed up his enormous face as though trying 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 l etter 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 satisfaction,
that his uncle looked vaguely panicky. Appar - ently his nerves couldn ’t
stand the sound of the word “broom - sticks ” 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.
 32 ‘

THE INVITATION

“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 outraged as if Harry had just uttered a
disgusting swear word. Shaking with anger, he shot a nervous look
through the window, as though expecting to see some o f the neigh -
bors with their ears pressed against the glass.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to mention that un -
naturalness 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 times so as to be able to use his hands, and which
fell past the knees of his extremely 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 from 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? Onl y I ’ve got a letter 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.
 33 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

“You ’re — you ’re writing 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 b een a while since he heard
from me, and, you know, if he doesn ’t, he might start think - ing
something ’s wrong. ”
He stopped there to enjoy the effect of these words. He could al - most
see the cogs working under Uncle Vernon ’s thick, dark, neatly parted
hair. If he tried to stop Harry writing to Sirius, Sirius would think Harry
was being mistreated. 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 o nly 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
transparent. Harry tried not to smile, to keep his own face as blank as
possible. And then —
“Well, all right th en. 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 time to go dropping you off
all over the country. And you can spend the rest of the summer t here.
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, fighting the urge
to jump 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
 34 ‘

THE INVITATION

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 first thing he saw was that Hedwig was back. She was sitting 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. Exactly
what was annoying her became apparent al - most at once.
“OUCH! ” said Harry as what appeared to be a small, gray, feathery
tennis ball collided with the side of his head. Harry mas - saged the spot
furiously, looking up to see wh at 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 letter at his feet. Harry bent down, recognized Ron ’s
handwriting, then tore open the en - velope. Inside was a hastily
scribbled note.

Harry — DAD GOT THE TICKETS — Ireland versus
Bulgaria, Monday night. Mum ’s writing to the Muggles to ask you to
stay. They might already have the letter, 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 tiny owl now
zooming around the light fixture on the ceiling. He had never
 35 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

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 whether the Muggles like it or not, you can ’t miss
the World Cup, only Mum and Dad reckon it ’s better if we pretend to
ask their permission first. If they say yes, send Pig back with your answer
pronto, and we ’ll come and get you at five o ’clock on Sunday. If they say
no, send Pig back pronto
and we ’ll come and get you at five o ’clock on Sunday anyway.
Hermione ’s arriving this afternoon. Percy ’s started work —
the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Don ’t mention
anything about Abroad while you ’re here unless you
want the pants bored off you.
See you soon —


“Calm down! ” Harry said as the small owl flew low over his head,
twittering madly with what Harry could only assume was pride at
having delivered the letter 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 all okay, the Muggles say I can come. See you five
o’clock tomorrow. Can ’t wait.


 36 ‘

THE INVITATION

He folded this note up very small, and with immense difficulty, tied it
to the tiny owl ’s leg as it hopped on the spot with excite - ment. 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 Quid -
ditch World Cup !


The letter finished, he tied it to Hedwig ’s leg; she kept unusually still, 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 affectionately, 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 eating it, savoring the hap - piness that was
flooding through him. He had cake, and Dudley had nothing but
grapefruit; it was a bright summer ’s day, he would
 37 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

be leaving Privet Drive tomorrow, his scar felt perfectly normal again,
and he was going to watch the Quidditch World Cup. It was hard, just
now, to feel worried about anything — even Lord Voldemort.



























 38 ‘

C H A P T E R F O U R









BACK TO THE
BURROW




y twelve o ’clock the next day, Harry ’s school trunk was packed
B

with his school things and all his most prized possessions —

the Invisibility Cloak he had inherited from his father, the broom - stick
he had gotten from Sirius, the enchanted map of Hogwarts he had
been given by Fred and George Weasley last year. He had emp - tied his
hiding place under the loose floorboard of all food, double - checked
every nook and cranny of his bedroom for forg otten 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 extreme ly tense.
The imminent arrival at their house of an assortment of wiz - ards was
making the Dursleys uptight 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 d ay.
“I hope you told them to dress properly, these people, ” he
 39 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

snarled at once. “I’ve seen the sort of stuff your lot wear. They ’d better
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 “nor - mal. ”
Their children might don Muggle clothing during the holi - days, but
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley usually wore long robes in va rying states of
shabbiness. Harry wasn ’t bothered about what the neigh - bors 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 bes t 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 intimi - dating. Dudley,
on the other hand, looked somehow diminished. This was not because
the diet was at la st taking effect, 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 trousers, and Aunt Petunia and Uncle
Vernon had had to pay for its removal at a private hospita l in London.
It wasn ’t altogether sur - prising, 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 di dn ’t even protest at the
food (cottage cheese and grated celery). Aunt Petunia wasn ’t eating
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 thro w at Harry.
“They ’ll be driving, of course? ” Uncle Vernon barked across the table.
 40 ‘

BACK TO THE
BURROW


“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 currently running wild in the Forbidden For - est 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 Ver - non
would have asked what car Mr. Weasley drove; he tended to judge
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 es - caped
rhinoceros. Finall y, at a quarter to five, Harry went back downstairs
and into the living room.
Aunt Petunia was compulsively straightening cushions. Uncle Vernon
was pretending to read the paper, but his tiny eyes were not moving,
and Harry was sure he was really listeni ng 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 bottom.
Harry couldn ’t take the tension; he left the room and went and sat on
the stairs in the hall, hi s eyes on his watch and his heart pumping fast
from excitement and nerves.
But five o ’clock came and then went. Uncle Vernon, perspiring slightly
in his suit, opened the front door, peered up and down the street, then
withdrew his head quickly.
“They ’re late! ” he snarled at Harry.

 41 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

“I know, ” said Harry. “Maybe — er — the traffic ’s bad, or
something. ”
Ten past five . . . then a quarter past five . . . Harry was starting 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 d aresay their
kind don ’t set much store by punctuality. Either that or they drive
some tin -pot car that ’s broken d — AAAAAAAARRRRRGH! ” Harry
jumped up. From the other side of the living room door came the
sounds of the three Dursleys scrambling, panic -stricken, 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 hangings and scrapings were coming from 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 wal l 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.
 42 ‘

BACK TO THE
BURROW


“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 th e 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 tried to get here by Floo powder, ” said Harry,
fighting 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 c himney piece said,
“Shh! ”
“Mr. Weasley, it ’s Harry . . . the fireplace 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. “Eclectic, 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 sarcastically. “No, this is exactly where
we wanted to end up. ”
 43 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

“Yeah, we ’re having the time 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 trying 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 electric fire 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 we re identical to the last freckle.
“That ’s better, ” 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
outs tretched, but Uncle Vernon backed away several paces, dragging
Aunt Petunia. Words utterly failed Uncle Vernon. His best suit was
covered in white dust, which had settled 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
 44 ‘

BACK TO THE
BURROW


my fault. It just 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 — just for an afternoon, you know, so we could get Harry.
Muggle fireplaces aren ’t supposed to be connected, strictly speaking —
but I ’ve got a useful contac t at the Floo Regu - lation Panel and he fixed
it for me. I can put it right in a jiffy, 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 ha dn ’t understood a single
word of this. They were still gaping at Mr. Weasley, thun - derstruck.
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, hav - ing once
rescued him from it in the dead of night. Harry suspected that Fred
and George were hoping for a gl impse 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 spotless living room was now covered in dust and bits of
brick, this remark didn ’t go down too well with the Durs - leys. Uncle
Vernon ’s face purpled once more, and Aunt Petunia started chewing
her tongue again. However, they seemed too scare d to actually say
anything.
 45 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

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 eckeltricity, do they? ” he said knowledgeably. “Ah yes, I
can see the plugs. I collect plugs, ” he added to Uncle Vernon. “And
batteries. Got a very large collection of batteries. My wife thinks I ’m
mad, but there you are. ”
Uncle Vernon clearl y thought Mr. Weasley was mad too. He moved
ever so slightly 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 trunk 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 Ver - non ’s bulk, while
sufficient 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 exchang ed glances and then quickly looked away from
each other; the temptation to burst out laughing was almost
overwhelming. Dudley was still clutching his bottom as though afraid
it might fall off. Mr. Weasley, however, seemed genuinely concerned at
Dudley ’s pe culiar 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.
 46 ‘

BACK TO THE
BURROW


“Having a good holiday, Dudley? ” he said kindly. Dudley whimpered.
Harry saw his hands tighten still harder over his massive backside.
Fred and George came back into the room carrying Harry ’s school
trunk. 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, pointing 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. Weasle y took a small draw - string bag
from his pocket, untied 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 little
shuddering gasp. There was a whooshing sound, and Fred vanished.
“Right then, George, ” said Mr. Weasley, “you and the t runk. ” Harry
helped George carry the trunk forward into the flames and turn it onto
its end so that he could hold it better. Then, with
 47 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

a second whoosh, George had cried “the Burrow! ” and vanished too.
“Ron, you next, ” said Mr. Weasley.
“See you, ” said Ron brightly 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 just 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
consideration 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 still in his hand, and Uncle Vernon ’s tiny eyes darted to it
once, before he said, very resentfully, “Good -bye, then. ” “See you, ”
said Harry, putting one foot forward into the green flames, which felt
pleasantly 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
 48 ‘

BACK TO THE
BURROW


his parents. He was kneeling beside the coffee table, and he was
gagging and sputtering on a foot -long, purple, slimy thing that was
protruding from his mouth. One bewildered second later, Harry
realized that the foot -long thing was Dudley ’s tongue — and that a
brightly colored toffee wrapp er lay on the floor before him.
Aunt Petunia hurled herself onto the ground beside Dudley, seized the
end of his swollen tongue, and attempted to wrench it out of his
mouth; unsurprisingly, Dudley yelled and sputtered worse than ever,
trying to fight her off. Uncle Vernon was bellow - ing 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 outstretched, 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
Engorgemen t Charm — at least, I think it is — please, I can correct it
— ”
But far from being reassured, the Dursleys became more panic -
stricken; Aunt Petunia was sobbing hysterically, tugging Dudley ’s
tongue as though determined to rip it out; Dudley appeared to be
suffocating under the combined pressure of his mother and his tongue;
and Uncle Vernon, who had lost control 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 shatt er in the blasted
fireplace.
“Now really! ” said Mr. Weasley angrily, brandishing his wand.
“I’m trying to help !”
 49 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

Bellowing like a wounded hippo, Uncle Vernon snatched up an - other
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 or -
nament narrowly missed his left ear, and on balance he thought it best
to leave the situation to M r. Weasley. He stepped into the fire, looking
over his shoulder as he said “the Burrow! ” His last fleeting glimpse of
the living room was of Mr. Weasley blasting a third or - nament 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 be - gun to spin very fast, and the
Dursleys ’ living room was whipped out of sight in a rush of
emerald -green flames.
















 50 ‘

C H A P T E R F I V E









WEASLEYS ’
WIZARD
WHEEZES



arry spun faster and faster, elbows tucked tightly to his
H
sides, blurred fireplaces flashing past him, until 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 fal ling face forward out of the Weasleys ’ kitchen
fire.
“Did he eat it? ” said Fred excitedly, holding out a hand to pull Harry to
his feet.
“Yeah, ” said Harry, straightening up. “What was it? ”
“Ton -Tongue Toffee, ” said Fred brightly. “George and I in - vented
them, and we ’ve been looking for someone to test them on all
summer. . . . ”
The tiny kitchen exploded with laughter; Harry looked around and saw

that Ron and George were sitting at the scrubbed wooden table with
two red -haired peop le Harry had never seen before,
 51 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

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 lo ng 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. Bi ll 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 eve ryone 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
 52 ‘

WEASLEYS ’
WIZARD WHEEZES

just 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 se -
riously undermines wizard –Muggle relations! 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 just 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, spotting 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.
 53 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

Weasley eyed hi s 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 just
— but I ’ve had words with them — ”
“What have they done this time? ” said Mrs. Weasley. “If it ’s got
anything to do with Weasleys ’ Wizard Wheezes — ”
“Why don ’t you show Harry where he ’s sleepin g, Ron? ” said
Hermione from 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
 54 ‘

WEASLEYS ’
WIZARD WHEEZES

Fred and George ’s room, ” said Ron quietly. “Great long price lists for
stuff they ’ve invented. Joke stuff, you know. Fake wands and trick
sweets, loads of stuff. It was brilliant, I never knew they ’d been
inventing all that . . . ”
“We ’ve been hearing explosions out of their ro om 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 dan -
gerous, ” 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 Ordinar y Wizarding Levels, the examinations 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 trying to work i n here, you know — I’ve got a report to
finish for the office — and it ’s rather difficult to con - centrate 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 to p-secret workings of the Ministry of Magic. ”
“What are you working on? ” said Harry.
 55 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

“A report for the Department of International Magical Cooper -
ation, ” said Percy smugly. “We ’re trying to standardize cauldron
thickness. Some of these foreign imports are just a shade too thin —
leakages have been increasing at a rate of almost three per - cent 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
international law is imposed we might well find the market flooded
with flimsy, shallow -bottomed produc ts that seriously endanger — ”
“Yeah, yeah, all right, ” said Ron, and he started off upstairs again.
Percy slammed his bedroom door shut. As Harry, Hermi - one, 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 time 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
extremely large frog. Ron ’s old rat, Scabbers, was here n o more, but
instead there was the tiny gray owl that had delivered Ron ’s letter 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 b een squeezed into the room. “Fred and George are
in here with us, because Bill and Charlie are in their room, ” he
 56 ‘

WEASLEYS ’
WIZARD WHEEZES

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 sarcastically.
“Ginny named him, ” he explained to Harry. “She reckons it ’s sweet.
And I tried 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 be - cause
he annoys Errol and Hermes. He annoys me too, come to that. ”
Pigwidgeon zoomed happily around h is cage, hooting 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 Hermion e now.
“Out in the garden, I expect, ” she said. “He likes chasing gnomes.
He ’s never seen any before. ”
“Percy ’s enjoying work, then? ” said Harry, sitting down on one of the
beds and watching the Chudley Cannons zooming in and out of the
posters on the ceiling.
“Enjoying 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
subject of his boss. According to Mr. Crouch . . . as I was saying to Mr.
Crouch . . . Mr. Crouch is of the 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. ”
 57 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

“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 from the Ministry 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 themse lves 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 he lp 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 eating out in the garden, ” she said when they came in. “There ’s
just not room for eleven people in here. Could you take the plates
outside, girls? Bill and Charlie are setting up the tables. Knives and
forks, please, you two, ” she said to Ron and Harry, pointing her wand
a little more vigorously than she had in tended 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 directing her wand at
a dustpan, which hopped off the sideboard and started skati ng 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 go - ing to
happen to them, I really don ’t. No ambition, unless y ou count making
as much trouble as they possibly can. . . . ”
Mrs. Weasley slammed a large copper saucepan down on the
 58 ‘

WEASLEYS ’
WIZARD WHEEZES

kitchen table and began to wave her wand around inside it. A cre amy
sauce poured from the wand tip as she stirred.
“It’s not as though they haven ’t got brains, ” she continued irrita - bly,
taking the saucepan over to the stove and lighting it with a fur - ther
poke of her wand, “but they ’re wasting them, and unless th ey pull
themselves together soon, they ’ll be in real trouble. 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 jabbed her wand at the cutlery drawer, which shot open.
Harry and Ron both jumped out of the way as several knives soared
out of it, flew across the kitchen, and began chopping the potatoes,
which had just been tipped back into the sink by the dustpan.
“I don ’t know where we went wrong with them, ” said Mrs. Weasley,
putting down her wand and starting to pull out still 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 from the table, and it had emitted a loud
squeak and turned into a giant rubber mouse.
“One of their fake wands again! ” she shouted. “How many times have
I told them not to leave them lying around? ”
She grabbed her real wand an d 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
 59 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

ginger cat, Crookshanks, came pelting out of the garden, bottle - brush
tail held high in the air, chasing what looked like a muddy potato on
legs. Harry recognized it instantly as a gnome. Barely ten inches high,
its horny little feet pattered very fast as it sprinted across the yard and
dived headlong into one of the Wellington boots that lay scattered
around the door. Harry could he ar the gnome giggling madly as
Crookshanks inserted a paw into the boot, trying to reach it.
Meanwhile, a very loud crashing noise was coming from the other side
of the house. The source of the com - motion was revealed as they
entered the garden, and saw t hat 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 attempting to knock the other ’s out of
the air. Fred and George were cheering, Ginny was laughing, and
Hermione was hovering near the hedge, apparently 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 clatter from overhead, and they all looked up to
see Percy ’s head poking out of a wi ndow on the sec - ond floor.
“Will you keep it down?! ” he bellowed.
“Sorry, Perce, ” said Bill, grinning. “How ’re the cauldron bot - toms
coming on? ”
“Very badly, ” said Percy peevishly, and he slammed the window shut.
Chuckling, Bill and Charlie direct ed the tables safely onto the grass,
end to end, and then, with a flick of his wand, Bill reattached the table
leg and conjured 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,
 60 ‘

WEASLEYS ’
WIZARD WHEEZES

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
repo rt 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 time,
I mean, it ’s extremely busy in our department just now, what with all
the arrangements for the World Cup. We ’re just not getting 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 tickets for the Cup. I did him a bit of a favor: His brother,
Otto, got into a spot of trouble — a lawnmower with un - natural
powers — I smoothed the whole thing over. ”
“Oh Bagman ’s likable enough, of course, ” said Per cy dismis -
sively, “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 mem - ber
of our department and not trying to find out what ’s happened to them.
You realize Bertha Jorkins has been mi ssing 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
gotten lost plenty of times before now — though I 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
 61 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

trouble than she ’s worth . . . but all the same, Bagman ought to be
trying to find her. Mr. Crouch has been taking a personal interest, she
worked in our department at one time, you know, and I think Mr.
Crouch was quite fond of her — but Bagman just keeps laugh - ing and
saying she prob ably misread the map and ended up in Aus - tralia
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 International Magical Cooperation
without trying to find members of other departments too. As you
know, we ’ve got another big event to organize right af - ter the World
Cup. ”
Percy cleared his throat significantly and looked down toward the end
of the table where Harry, Ron, and Hermione were sitt ing.
“ You know the one I ’m talking about, Father. ” He raised his voice
slightly. “The top -secret one. ”
Ron rolled his eyes and muttered to Harry and Hermione, “He ’s been
trying to get us to ask what that event is ever since he started work.
Probably an exhibition 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 getting 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 sitting beside Bill. “You ’re so old -
fashioned, Mum. Anyway, it ’s nowhere near as long as Professor
Dumbledore ’s. . . . ”
 62 ‘

WEASLEYS ’
WIZARD WHEEZES

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, tho ugh, ” said Fred. “Krum ’s one
decent player, Ireland has got seven, ” said Charlie shortly. “I wish
England had got through. That was embarrassing, that was. ”
“What happened? ” said Harry eagerly, regretting more than ever his
isolation 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 Scotland 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 conjured up candles to light the darkening garden before
they had their homemade strawberry ice cream, and by the time they
had finished, moths were fluttering low over the table, and the warm
air was perfumed with the smells of grass and hon - eysuckle. Harry was
feeling extremely well fed and at peace with the world as he watched
several gnomes sprinting through the rose - bushes, laughing madly and
closely pursued by Crookshanks.
Ron looked c arefully up the table to check that the rest of the family
were all busy talking, then he said very quietly to Harry,
“So — have you heard from Sirius lately? ”
 63 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

Hermione looked around, listening closely.
“Yeah, ” said Harry softly, “twice. He sounds okay. I wrote to him
yesterday. He might write back while I ’m here. ”
He suddenly remembered the reason he had written to Sirius, and for a
moment was on the verge of telling Ron and Hermione about his scar
hurting 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 time, ” 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 getting everyone else ’s. There might not be time 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 sanctimoniously. “I shudder
to th ink 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. ”





 64 ‘

C H A P T E R S I X









THE PORTKEY




arry felt as though he had barely lain down to sleep in
H

Weasley.
Ron ’s room when he was being shaken awake by Mrs.
“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 still
dark outside. Ron muttered indistinctly 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 alr eady? ” said Fred groggily.
They dressed in silence, too sleepy to talk, then, yawning and
stretching, the four of them headed downstairs into the kitchen. Mrs.
Weasley was stirring the contents of a large pot on the stove, while Mr.

Weasley was sitting at the table, checking a sheaf of large parchment
tickets. He looked up as the boys entered and spread his arms so that
they could see his clothes more clearly. He
 65 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

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? ”
“Ye ah, ” said Harry, smiling, “very good. ”
“Where ’re Bill and Charlie and Per -Per -Percy? ” said George, fail - ing
to stifle a huge yawn.
“Well, they ’re Apparating, aren ’t they? ” said Mrs. Weasley, heav - ing
the large pot over to the table and starting to ladle porridge into bowls.
“So they can have a bit of a lie -in. ”
Harry knew that Apparating meant disappearing from one place and
reappearing almost instantly in another, but had never known any
Hogwart s student to do it, and understood that it was very difficult.
“So they ’re still 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 tickets safely into the back pocket of h is jeans.
“The Department of Magical Transporta - tion had to fine a couple of
people the other day for Apparating without a license. It ’s not easy,
Apparition, and when it ’s not done properly it can lead to nasty
complications. This pair I ’m talking about went and splinched
themselves. ”
Everyone around the table except Harry winced.
 66 ‘

THE PORTKEY

“Er — splinched ?” said Harry.
“They left half of themselves behind, ” said Mr. Weasley, now
spooning large amounts of treacle 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 w ho 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 matter -of -factly. “But they got a heavy fine,
and I don ’t think they ’ll be trying 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
first time, 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 time, ” said Mrs. Weasley, marching
back into the kitchen amid hearty sniggers.
“Percy only passed two weeks ago, ” said George. “He ’s been
Apparating 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 sitting
down at the table.
“We ’ve got a bit of a walk, ” said Mr. Weasley.
 67 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

“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 just that it ’s very difficult for a large number of
wizards to congregate without attracting Muggl e atten - tion. We have
to be very careful about how we travel 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 nob ody.
“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 destroy 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 evidently been trying 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.
 68 ‘

THE PORTKEY

“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 still 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 time, ” said Mrs. W easley, “and behave your -
selves, ” 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 se t off across the dark yard after Fred and
George.
It was chilly and the moon was still out. Only a dull, greenish tinge
along the horizon to their right showed that daybreak was drawing
closer. Harry, having been thinking about thousands of wizards
speedi ng toward the Quidditch World Cup, sped up to walk with Mr.
Weasley.
“So how does everyone get there without all the Muggles notic -
ing? ” he asked.
“It’s been a massive organizational problem, ” sighed Mr. Weasley.
“The trouble is, about a hundred thousand wizards turn up at the
World Cup, and of course, we just haven ’t got a magical site big
enough to accommodate them all. There are places Mug - gles can ’t
penetrate, but imagine trying to pack a hundred thousand wizar ds into
Diagon Alley or platform nine and three -quarters. So we had to find a
nice deserted moor, and set up as many anti - Muggle precautions as
possible. The whole Ministry ’s been work - ing on it for months. First,
of course, we have to stagger the
 69 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

arrivals. People with cheaper tickets have to arrive two weeks
beforehand. A limited number use Muggle transport, but we can ’t have
too many clogging up their buses and trains — 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 Apparition point.
For those who don ’t want to Apparate, or can ’t, we use Portkeys.
They ’re objects that are used to transport wizards from one spot to
another at a prearranged time. You can do large groups at a time if you
need to. There have been two hundred Portkeys placed at strategic
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 cur iously. “Well, they
can be anything, ” said Mr. Weasley. “Unobtrusive things, obviously,
so Muggles don ’t go picking them up and play - ing with them . . . stuff
they ’ll just think is litter. . . . ”
They trudged 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 black - ness diluting 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.
 70 ‘

THE PORTKEY

“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 just 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 cou - ple of
minutes, however, when a shout rent the still air.
“Over here, Arthur! Over here, son, we ’ve got it! ”
Two tall figures were silhouetted against the starry sky on the other
side of t he hilltop.
“Amos! ” said Mr. Weasley, smiling as he strode 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 oth er 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 extremely handsome boy of around sev -
enteen. He was Captain and Seeker of the Hufflepuff House Quid -
ditch 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 beating their team,
Gryffindor, in the first Quidditch match of the previous year. “Long
walk, Arthur? ” Cedric ’s father asked.
 71 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

“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 Apparition test. Still . . . not complaining . . . Quidditch World
Cup, wouldn ’t miss it for a sackful of Gal - leons — and the tickets 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, pointin g out his
children. “This is Hermione, friend of Ron ’s — and Harry, an - other
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 muttered. “I told you . . . it was an
accident. . . . ”
“Yes, but you didn ’t fall off, did you? ” roared Amos genially, slap -
ping his so n on his back. “Always modest, our Ced, always the gen -
 72 ‘

THE PORTKEY

tleman . . . 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 time, ” 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 t he
Fawcetts couldn ’t get tickets, ” 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 off. . . .
We ’d better get ready. . . . ”
He looked around at Harry and Hermione.
“You just need to touch the Portkey, that ’s all, a finger will do — ”
With difficulty, 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 tight circle, as a chill breeze swept ove r 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 be - hind his
navel had been suddenly jerked irresistibly 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 for - ward 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 —
 73 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

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 still
standing, though looking very windswept; everybody else was on the
ground.
“Seven past five from Stoatshead Hill, ” said a voice.
























 74 ‘

C H A P T E R S E V E N









BAGMAN AND
CROUCH




arry disentangled himself from Ron and got to his feet.
H
They had arrived on what appeared to be a deserted
stretch of misty moor. In front of them was a pair of tired 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 inexpertly: 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 Portk eys
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 better get out of the
way , we ’ve got a big party coming in from the Black For - est at
five -fifteen. Hang on, I ’ll find your campsite. . . . Weasley . . .
 75 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

Weasley . . . ” He consulted his parchment list. “About a quarter of a
mile ’s walk over there, first field 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, un able 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 just make out the
ghostly shapes of hundreds and hundreds of tents, rising up the gentle
slope of a large fiel d 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 sev - eral 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,
consulting 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 starting
to peel the notes apart. “This one ’s
 76 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


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, uncomfort - ably
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 trouble with money, ” said Mr.
Roberts, scrutinizing Mr. Weasley closely. “I had two try 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
th is 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 for -
eigners. And not just 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.
Instantly, Mr. Roberts ’s eyes slid out of focus, his brows
 77 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

unknitted, and a look of dreamy unconcern fell over his face. Harry
recognized the symptoms of one who had just had his mem - ory
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 muttered to Mr. Weasley, “Been having a lot of
trouble with him. Needs a Memory Charm ten times 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
anti -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 better 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
enthusiastic 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 trudged up the misty field between long rows of tents. Most
looked almost ordinary; their owners had clearly tried to make them as
Muggle -like as pos sible, but had slipped up by adding chimneys, or
bellpulls, or weather vanes. However, here and
 78 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


there was a tent so obviously magical that Harry could hardly be
surprised that Mr. Roberts was getting suspicious. Halfway up the field
stood an extravagant confection of striped silk like a miniature palace,
with several live peacocks tethered at the entrance. A little farther on
they passed a tent that had three floo rs and several tur - rets; 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 pu tting these tents up by hand!
Shouldn ’t be too difficult. . . . Muggles do it all the time. . . . 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, preferri ng 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 ma llet, 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 trouble was that once Bill, Charlie, and Percy

 79 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

arrived, they would be a party of ten. Hermione seemed to have
spotted 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 flap, and felt his jaw 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 from Perkins at the of - fice. Doesn ’t
camp much anymore, poor fellow, he ’s got lumbago. ” He picked up
the dusty kettle an d 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 com - pletely
unimpressed by its extraordinary inner proportions. “It’s on the other
side of th e field. ”
“Well, why don ’t you, Harry, and Hermione go and get us some water
then ” — Mr. Weasley handed over the kettle 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,
anti -Muggle security! ” said Mr. Weasley, his face shining with
anticipation. “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 slightly smaller
 80 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


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 lifting, they could see th e
city of tents that stretched in every direction. They made their way
slowly through the rows, staring eagerly around. It was only just
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 starting to wake up. First to stir were the
families with small children; Harry had never seen witches and wizards
this young before. A tiny 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 trodden on the giant slug, which burst. Her scolding carried
after them on the still air, mingling with the little boy ’s yells — “You
bust slug! You bust slug! ”
A short way farther on, they saw two little witches, barely older than
Kevi n, who were riding toy broomsticks that rose only high enough
for the girls ’ toes to skim the dewy grass. A Ministry wiz - ard had
already spotted them; as he hurried past Harry, Ron, and Hermione he
muttered distractedly, “In broad daylight! Parents having a lie -in, I
suppose — ”
Here and there adult wizards and witches were emerging from their
tents and starting to cook breakfast. Some, with furtive looks around
them, conjured fires with their wands; others were striking

 81 ‘

CH APTER SEVEN

matches with dubious looks on their faces, as though sure this couldn ’t
work. Three African wizards sat in serious conversation, 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 stretched between their
tents that read: the salem witches ’ institute. Harry caught snatches of
conversation in strange lan - gu ages 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
just 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 na mes. “Harry! Ron! Hermione! ”
It was Seamus Finnigan, their fellow Gryffindor fourth year. He was
sitting 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 supporting Ireland, of course? ” she added, eye -
ing Harry, Ron, and Hermione beadily. When they had assured her that
they were indeed supporting Ireland, they set off again, though, as
Ron said, “Like we ’d say anything else surrounded by that lot. ”
 82 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


“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 upheld, where the Bulgari an 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 attached to it, a poster of a very
surly face with heavy black eyebrows. The picture w as, 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 s cowling 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 joined 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
Ministry wizard; he was holding out a pair of pin - striped 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 suspi - cious — ”
“I bought this in a Muggle shop, ” said the old wizard stubbornly.
“Muggles wear them. ”
 83 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

“Muggle women wear them, Archie, not the men, they wear
these, ” said the Ministry wizard, and he brandished the pinstriped
trousers.
“I’m not putting them on, ” said old Archie in indignation. “I like a
healthy breeze ’round my privates, thanks. ”
Hermione was overcome with such a strong 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
m ore familiar faces: other Hogwarts students with their families.
Oliver Wood, the old captain of Harry ’s House Quidditch team, who
had just left Hogwarts, dragged Harry over to his par - ents ’ tent to
introduce him, and told him excitedly that he had just b een signed to
the Puddlemere United reserve team. Next they were hailed by Ernie
Macmillan, a Hufflepuff fourth year, and a lit - tle farther on they saw
Cho Chang, a very pretty girl who played Seeker on the Ravenclaw
team. She waved and smiled at Harry, w ho 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 Ho g- warts,
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 exchan ge trip but Mum and Dad couldn ’t
 84 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


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 rep -
resentatives of so many nationalities 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 utterly unsurprised by the
information. 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, setting the water down. “You not got
that fire started yet? ”
“Dad ’s having fun with the matches, ” said Fred. Mr. Weasley was
having no success at all in lighting the fire, but it wasn ’t for lack of
trying. Splintered matches littered 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 promptly dropped
it in surprise.
“Come here, Mr. Weasley, ” said Hermione kindly, taking the box fr om
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 alongs ide a kind
of thoroughfare to the field, and Ministry members kept hurrying up
and down it, greeting Mr. Weasley cor - dially as they passed. Mr.
Weasley kept up a running commentary,
 85 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

mainly for Harry ’s and Hermione ’s benefit; his own children knew too
much about the Ministry to be greatly interested.
“That was Cuthbert Mockridge, Head of the Goblin Liaison Office. . . .
Here comes Gilbert Wimple; he ’s with the Committee 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 D epartment 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 jumped to his feet, waving and grinning at a man who was
striding toward them. “Aha! ” he said. “The man of the moment!
Ludo! ”
Ludo Bag man was easily the most noticeable person Harry had seen so
far, even including old Archie in his flowered nightdress. He was
wearing long Quidditch robes in thick horizontal stripes of bright
yellow and black. An enormous picture of a wasp was splashed a cross
his chest. He had the look of a powerfully built man gone slightly to
seed; the robes were stretched tightly 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 stray Bludger, Harry thought),
but his round blue eyes, short
 86 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


blond hair, and rosy complexion made him look like a very over -
grown 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 Ministry wizards rushed past,
pointing at the distant evidence of some sort of a mag - ical fire that was
sending violet sparks twenty feet into the air. Percy hurried forward
with his hand outstretched. Apparently his disapproval of the way
Ludo Bagman ran his department did not prevent him from wanting to
make a good impression.
“Ah — ye s,” said Mr. Weasley, grinning, “this is my son Percy. He ’s
just started at the Ministry — 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 d id 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 continued, “this is Ludo Bagman, you know
who he is, it ’s thanks to him we ’ve got such go od tickets — ” Bagman
beamed and waved his hand as if to say it had been nothing.
“Fancy a flutter on the match, Arthur? ” he said eagerly, jingling what
seemed to be a large amount of gold in the pockets of his
 87 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

yellow -and -black robes. “I’ve already got Roddy Pontner betting 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 s hares in her eel farm on a week - long
match. ”
“Oh . . . go on then, ” said Mr. Weasley. “Let ’s see . . . a Galleon on
Ireland to win? ”
“A Galleon? ” Ludo Bagman looked slightly disappointed, but re -
covered himself. “Very well, very well . . . any other ta kers? ” “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 contrary, his boyish face shone with exci tement 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 stu nned 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, rattling 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
 88 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


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 carefully. 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 difficul - ties, and I
can ’t understand a word he ’s sayi ng. 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 positively writhing with excitement. “He speaks over
two hundred! Mermish and Gobble degook and Troll . . . ”
“Anyone can speak Troll, ” said Fred dismissively. “All you have to do
is point and grunt. ”
Percy threw Fred an extremely nasty look and stoked the fire vig -
orously to bring the kettle back to the boil.
“Any news of Bertha Jorkins yet, Ludo? ” Mr. Weasley asked as
Bagman settled 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
direction. Lost, you take my word for it. She ’ll wander back into the
office sometime in October, thinking it ’s still 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 t ea.
“Barty Crouch keeps saying that, ” said Bagman, his round eyes
 89 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

widening innocently, “but we really can ’t spare anyone at the mo -
ment. Oh — talk of the devil! Barty! ”
A wizard had just Apparated at their fireside, and he could not have
made more of a contrast with Ludo Bagman, sprawled on the grass in
his old Wasp robes. Barty Crouch was a stiff, upright, el - derly man,
dressed in an impeccably crisp suit and tie. The p arting in his short gray
hair was almost unnaturally straight, and his nar - row 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 be liever 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, Barty, ” said Ludo brightly, patting the ground
beside him.
“No thank you, Ludo, ” said Crouch, and there was a bite of im -
patience in his voice. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere. The
Bulgarians are insisting 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 half - bow
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 ”
 90 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


Fred and George choked into their own cups. Percy, very pink around
the ears, busied himself with the kettle.
“Oh and I ’ve been wanting 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 just last week. If I ’ve told him once I ’ve
told him a hundred times: Carpets are defined as a Muggle Ar - tifact by
the Regist ry of Proscribed Charmable Objects, but will he listen? ”
“I doubt it, ” said Mr. Crouch, accepting a cup from 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 continents 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
 91 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

though we haven ’t got anything to look 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,
Wea therby. ”
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 commentating! ” He waved, Barty Crouch nodded curtly, 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 in formation, until such time as the Ministry de - cides 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 camp - site as
the afternoon wore on. By dusk, the still summer air itself seemed to be
quivering with anticipation, and as darkness spread like a curtain over
the thousands of waiting wizards, the last
 92 ‘

BAGMAN AND
CROUCH


vestiges of pretence disappeared: the Ministry seemed to have bowed
to the inevitable and stopped fighting the signs of blatant magic now
breaking out everywhere.
Salesmen were Apparating every few feet, carrying trays and pushing
carts full of extraordi nary merchandise. There were lumi - nous rosettes
— 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 countries that played their national anthems as they
were waved; there were tiny models of Firebolts that really flew, and
collectible 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 strolled 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 w ere covered
with all sorts of weird knobs and dials.
“Omnioculars, ” said the saleswizard eagerly. “You can replay ac -
tion . . . slow everything down . . . and they flash 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
 93 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

touchy about the fact that Harry, who had inherited a small for - tune
from his parents, had much more money than he did.
“You won ’t be getting anything for Christmas, ” Harry told him,
thrusting Omnioculars into his and Hermione ’s h ands. “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 sporting green rosettes 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 time! ” said Mr. Weasley, looking as excited as any of them. “Come
on, let ’s go! ”













 94 ‘

C H A P T E R E I G H T









THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP



lutching their purchases, Mr. Weasley in the lead, they all
C

hurried into the wood, following the lantern -lit trail. 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 infectious; Harry couldn ’t stop grin - ning. They

walked through the wood for twenty minutes, talking and joking loudly,
until at last they emerged on the other side and found themselves in the
shadow of a gigantic stadium. Th ough Harry could see only a fraction
of the immense gold walls sur - rounding the field, he could tell that ten
cathedrals would fit com - fortably inside it.
“Seats a hundred thousand, ” said Mr. Weasley, spotting the awestruck
look on Harry ’s face. “Mini stry task force of five hun - dred have been
working on it all year. Muggle Repelling Charms on every inch of it.
Every time Muggles have got anywhere near here all year, they ’ve
suddenly remembered urgent appointments
 95 ‘

CHAP TER EIGHT

and had to dash away again . . . bless them, ” he added fondly, lead - ing
the way toward the nearest entrance, which was already sur - rounded
by a swarm of shouting witches and wizards.
“Prime seats! ” said the Ministry witch at the entrance 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 s lowly 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 high - est point
of the stadium and situated exac tly 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 thousan d witches and wizards were taking their places in
the seats, which rose in levels around the long oval field. Everything
was suffused with a mysterious golden light, which seemed to come
from the stadium itself. The field looked smooth as velvet from thei r
lofty position. At either end of the field stood three goal hoops, fifty
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 Bluebottle: A Broom for All the Family
— safe, reliable, and with Built -in Anti -Burglar Buzzer . . .
Mrs.
 96 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP
Skower ’s All -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 tiny creature sitting 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 chai r, 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 tiny creature looked up and stretched 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 just call me Dobby ?” squeaked the elf curiously from
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 just 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 shield - ing her
face, as though blinded by light, though the Top Box was
 97 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

not brightly 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 time, sir! ” she said, lowering her ha nds
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 dis - respect, 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 w hispered, “ He is
wanting 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 fingers slightly
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 settle
down, Dobby. He is getting up to all sorts of high jinks, sir, what is
unbecoming to a house -elf. You goes racketin g around like this,
Dobby, I says, and next thing I hear you ’s up in front of the
Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, like
some common goblin. ”
“Well, it ’s about time he had a bit of fun, ” said Harry. “House -elves
is not supp osed to have fun, Harry Potter, ” said
 98 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

Winky firmly, from behind her hands. “House -elves does what they is
told. I is not liking heights at all, Harry Potter ” — 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 Potte r. He is
very busy, ” said Winky, tilting her head toward the empty space beside
her. “Winky is wishing she is back in master ’s tent, Harry Potter, 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 testing them, star - ing
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 velvet -
covered, tasseled program.
“‘A display from the team mascots will precede the match, ’” she read
aloud.
“Oh that ’s always worth watching, ” said Mr. Weasley. “National teams
bring creatures from their native land, you know, to put on a bit of a
show. ”
The box filled gradually around them over the next half hour.
 99 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

Mr. Weasley kept shaking hands with people who were obviously very
important wizards. Percy jumped to his feet so often that he looked as
though he were trying to sit on a hedgehog. When Cor - nelius Fudge,
the Minister of Magic himself, arrived, Percy bowed so low that his
glasses fell off and shattered. Highly embar rassed, he repaired them
with his wand and thereafter remained in his seat, throwing jealous
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 intro - duced him to the wizards on
either side of him.
“Harry Potter, you know, ” he told the Bulgarian minister loudly, who
was wearing splendid robes of black velvet trimmed with gold
and didn ’t seem to understand a word of English. “ Harry Potter . . .
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 spotted 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 th e best places . . . ah,
and here ’s Lucius! ”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned quickly. Edging along the second
row to three still -empty seats right behind Mr. Weasley were none
other than Dobby the house -elf ’s former owners: Lucius Malfoy; his
son, Draco; a nd a woman Harry supposed must be Draco ’s mother.
Harry and Draco Malfoy had been enemies ever since their very first
journey to Hogwarts. A pale boy with a pointed face and
 100 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

white -blond hair, Draco greatly 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, hold ing 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. Oblans k —
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 eac h
other and Harry vividly recalled the last time they had come
face -to -face: It had been in Flourish and Blotts ’ bookshop, and they
had had a fight. Mr. Malfoy ’s cold gray eyes swept over Mr. Weasley,
and then up and down the row.
“Good lord, Arthur, ” he said softly. “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 just given a very
generous contribution to St. Mungo ’s Hospital for Magical Mal - adies
and Injuries, 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 slightly pink,
but stared determinedly back at him. Harry knew exactly what was
maki ng Mr. Malfoy ’s lip curl like that. The Malfoys
 101 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

prided themselves on being purebloods; in other words, they con -
sidered anyone of Muggle descent, like Hermione, second -class.
However, under the gaze of the Minister of Magic, Mr. Malfoy did - n’t
dare say anything. He nodded sneeringly to Mr. Weasley and continued
down the line to his seats. Draco shot Harry, Ron, and Hermione one
contemptuous look, then settled himself between h is mother and
father.
“Slimy gits, ” Ron muttered 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
filling the packed stadium; his voice echoed over them, bo oming 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 national an thems to the racket. The huge blackboard
opposite them was wiped clear of its last message
( Bertie Bott ’s Every Flavor Beans — A
Risk With
Every Mouthful! ) and now showed
BULGARIA: 0, IRELAND: 0.
“And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce . . . the
Bulgarian National Team Mascots! ”
The right -hand side of the stands, which was a solid block of scarlet,
roared its approval.

 102 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

“I wonder what they ’ve brought, ” said Mr. Weasley, leaning for - ward
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
question was answered for him. Veela were women . . . the most
beautiful women Harry had ever seen . . . except that they weren ’t —
they couldn ’t be — human. This puzzled Harry for a moment while he
tried to guess what exactly 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 mu - sic 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 com -
pletely and blissfully blank. All that mattered in the world was that he
kept watching the veela, because if they stopped dancing, terri - ble
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 enou gh?
“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 resting on the wall of the box. Next to him, Ron was frozen in
an attitude that looked as thou gh he were about to dive from a
springboard.
Angry yells were filling the stadium. The crowd didn ’t want the
 103 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

veela to go. Harry was with them; he would, of course, be sup - porting
Bulgaria, and he wondered vaguely why he had a large green shamrock
pinned to his chest. Ron, meanwhile, was absent - mindedly shredding
the shamrocks on his hat. Mr. Weasley, smil - ing slightly, leaned over
to Ron and tugged the hat out of his han ds.
“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 tutting 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 hurtling toward the goal posts. A
rainbow arced suddenly across the field, connecting the two balls of
light. The crowd oooohed and aaaaahed, as thou gh at a fireworks
display. Now the rainbow faded and the balls of light re - united and
merged; they had formed a great shimmering sham - rock, 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 from it,
bouncing off their heads and seats. Squinting up at the shamrock,
Harry realized that it was actually comprised of thousands of tiny little
bearded men wit h red vests, each carrying a minute lamp of gold or
green.
“Leprechauns! ” said Mr. Weasley over the tumultuous applause
 104 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

of the crowd, many of whom were still fighting and rummaging around
under their chairs to retrieve the gold.
“There you go, ” Ron yelled happily, stuffing a fistful 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 leprecha uns drifted down onto the
field on the opposite side from the veela, and settled themselves
cross -legged to watch the match.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, kindly welcome — the Bulgar - ian
National Quidditch Team! I give you — Dimitrov! ”
A scarlet -clad figure on a broomstick, moving so fast it was blurred,
shot out onto the field from an entrance far below, to wild applause
from 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 e yebrows. He looked like an over - grown bird of
prey. It was hard to believe he was only eighteen. “And now, please
greet — the Irish National 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
 105 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

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,
strode out onto the field. A silver whistle was protruding from under
the mustache, and he was carrying a large wooden crate under one arm,
his broomstick under the other. Harry spun the speed dial on his
Omnioculars back to normal, watching closely as Mostafa mounted his
broomstick and kicked the crate open — four balls burst into the air:
the scarlet Quaffle, 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 cutting
into the bridge of his nose. The speed of the players was in - credible —
the Chasers were throwing the Quaffle to one a nother so fast that
Bagman only had time to say their names. Harry spun the slow dial on
the right of his Omnioculars again, pressed the play -by -play button on
the top, and he was immediately watching in slow motion, while
glittering purple lettering flash ed across the lenses and the noise of the
crowd pounded against his eardrums.
H AWKSHEAD A TTACKING FORMATION , he read as he
watched the
three Irish Chasers zoom closely together, Troy in the center, slightly
ahead of Mullet and Moran, bearing down upon the Bul -
garians. P ORSKOFF PLOY flashed up next, as Troy made as
though to
dart upward with the Quaffle, drawing away the Bulgarian Chaser
 106 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

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, soar ing 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 Om - nioculars. “But Levski ’s
got the Quaffle! ”
“Harry, if you ’re not going to watch at normal speed, you ’re go - ing 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 Omni - oculars and saw
that the leprechauns watching from the sidelines had all risen into the
air again and formed the great, glittering shamrock. Across the field,
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 move - ments so well
coordinated that they appeared to be reading one another ’s minds as
they positioned themselves, and the rosette
on Harry ’s chest kept squeaking their names: “ Troy — Mullet —
Moran !” 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 still faster, but more brutal. Volkov and
Vulchanov, the Bulgarian Beaters, were whacking the Bludgers as
fiercely as possible at the Irish Chasers, and were starting to prevent
 107 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

them from using some of their best moves; twice they were forced to
scatter, 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 celebration. 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.
“Dimit rov! 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 just jumped from airplanes without
parachutes. Harry followed their descent through his Om - nioculars,
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 spi raled off. Lynch, however, hit the ground with a dull thud that
could be heard throughout the sta - dium. A huge groan rose from the
Irish seats.
“Fool! ” moaned Mr. Weasley. “Krum was feinting! ” “It’s time -out! ”
yelled Bagman ’s voice, “as trained 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 -struck. “Which is what Krum was after, of course. . . . ” Harry
hastily pressed the replay and play -by -play buttons on his Omnioculars,
twiddled the speed dial, and put them back up to his eyes.
 108 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

He wat ched as Krum and Lynch dived again in slow motion.
W RONSKI D EFENSIVE F EINT —
DANGEROUS S EEKER DIVERSION read
the shining purple lettering across his lenses. He saw Krum ’s face
contorted with concentration as he pulled out of the dive just in time,
while Lynch was flattened, and he understood — Krum hadn ’t seen
the Snitch at all, he was just making Lynch copy him. Harry had never
seen anyone fly like that; Krum hardly looked as t hough he was using a
broomstick at all; he moved so easily through the air that he looked
unsupported and weightless. Harry turned his Omnioculars back to
normal and focused them on Krum. He was now circling high above
Lynch, who was being re - vived by med iwizards with cups of potion.
Harry, focusing still more closely upon Krum ’s face, saw his dark eyes
darting all over the ground a hundred feet below. He was using the
time while Lynch was revived to look for the Snitch without
interference. Lynch got to h is feet at last, to loud cheers from the
green -clad supporters, mounted his Firebolt, and kicked back off into
the air. His revival seemed to give Ireland new heart. When Mostafa
blew his whistle again, the Chasers moved into action with a skill unri -
vale d 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
tightly 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 —
 109 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

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
glittering hornets when Mullet had been fouled, now darted to - gether
to form the words “HA, HA, HA! ” The veela on the other side of the
field leapt to their fe et, 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 i mpatiently 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 acting 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 fingers stuffed into his
own ears, an d kicked Mostafa hard in the shins. Mostafa seemed to
come to himself; Harry, watching through the Om - nioculars again,
saw that he looked exceptionally 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 attempting 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, Volko v and Vulchanov, landed on either
side of Mostafa and began arguing furiously with him,
 110 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

gesticulating toward the leprechauns, who had now gleefully formed
the words “HEE, HEE, HEE. ” Mostafa was not impressed by the
Bulgarians ’ arguments, however; he was jabbing his finger into the air,
clearly telling them to get flying again, and when they refused, he gave
two short blasts on his whistle.
“ Two penalties for Ireland! ” shouted Bagman , and the Bulgarian
crowd howled with anger. “And Volkov and Vulchanov had better 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 acting without mercy: Volkov and
Vulchanov in particular seemed not to care whether their clubs made
contact with Bludger or human as they swung them violently through
the air. Dimitrov shot straight at Moran, who h ad 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. “Dimitrov
skins Moran — deliberately flying to collide the re — 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 con trol. 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 beautiful now.
On the contrary, their f aces were elongating into sharp, cruel -beaked
bird heads, and long, scaly wings were bursting from their shoulders —
 111 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

“And that, boys, ” yelled Mr. Weasley over the tumult of the
crowd below, “is why you should never go for looks alone! ” Ministry
wizards were flooding onto the field to separate the veela and the
leprechauns, but with little success; meanwhile, the pitched battle
below was nothing to the one taking place above. Harry turned this
way and that, staring through his Omnioculars, as the Quaffle changed
hands with the speed of a bullet.
“Levski — Dimitrov — Moran — Troy — Mullet — Ivanova —
Moran again — Moran — MORAN SCORES! ”
But the cheers of the Irish supporters were barely heard o ver the
shrieks of the veela, the blasts now issuing from the Ministry mem -
bers ’ 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 e verywhere, but Hassan Mostafa didn ’t blow
his whistle. He had become distracted, 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 injured; even though
he was supporting Ireland, Krum was the most exciting player on the
field. 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
 112 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

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 bloo d flying 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 time, Lynch hit the ground with
tremendous 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. K rum, his
red robes shining with blood from his nose, was ris - ing gently 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 hap -
pened. Then, slowly, as though a great jumbo jet 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.
 113 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

“KRUM GETS THE SNITCH — BUT IRELAND WINS — good
lord, I don ’t think any of us were expecting that! ”
“What did he catch the Snitch for? ” Ron bellowed, even as he jumped
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 battli ng 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 de - lightedly
all over the field, but he could just make out Krum, sur - rounded 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 dejected; a short way away, the Irish players were dancing
gleefully in a shower of gol d descending from their mascots. Flags
were waving all over the stadium, the Irish national anthem blared
from all sides; the veela were shrink - ing back into their usual,
beautiful selves now, though looking dispirited and forlorn.
“Vell, ve fought brave ly, ” said a gloomy voice behind Harry. He
looked around; it was the Bulgarian Minister of Magic.
“You can speak English! ” said Fudge, sounding outraged. “And you ’ve
been letting me mime everything all day! ”
 114 ‘

THE
QUIDDITCH
WORLD CUP

“Vell, it vos very funny, ” said the Bulgarian minister, shrugging. “And
as the Irish team performs a lap of honor, flanked 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. Squinting toward the entrance, he saw two
panting wizards carrying a vast golden cup into the box, which they
handed to Cornelius Fudge, who was still looking very dis - gruntled
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 s even defeated Bulgarian
players. The crowd below was applauding appreciatively; 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 spectac - ularly on
his bloody face. He was still holding the Snitch. H arry noticed that he
seemed much less coordinated on the ground. He was slightly
duck -footed and distinctly round -shouldered. But when Krum ’s name
was announced, the whole stadium gave him a resounding, earsplitting
roar.
And then came the Irish team. A idan Lynch was being sup - ported by
Moran and Connolly; the second crash seemed to have dazed him and
his eyes looked strangely unfocused. But he grinned
 115 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

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 ba ck of Con - nolly ’s,
clutching hard around his waist and still grinning in a be - mused 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 t wist, that. . . . shame it couldn ’t have lasted longer. . . . Ah
yes. . . . yes, I owe you . . . how much? ”
For Fred and George had just scrambled over the backs of their seats
and were standing in front of Ludo Bagman with broad grins on their
faces, the ir hands outstretched.
















 116 ‘

C H A P T E R N I N E









THE DARK MARK




on ’t tell your mother you ’ve been gambling, ” Mr. Weasley
D
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 goin g 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 nigh t air as they retraced their steps along the

lantern -lit path, and leprechauns kept shooting 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
th em, Mr. Weasley agreed that they could all have one last cup of cocoa
together before turning in. They were soon arguing
 117 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

enjoyably about the match; Mr. Weasley got drawn into a disagree -
ment about cobbing with Charlie, and it was only when Ginny fell
asleep right at the tiny table and spilled hot chocolate all over the floor
that Mr. Weasley called a halt to the verbal replays and in - sisted that
everyone go to bed. Hermione and Ginny we nt into the next tent, and
Harry and the rest of the Weasleys changed into pa - jamas 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, ” muttered 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 lep - rechaun
lantern flying overhead, and picturing again some of Krum ’s more
spectacular moves. He was itching to get back on his own Firebolt and
try out the Wronski Feint. . . . Somehow Oliver Wood had never
managed to convey with all his wriggling dia - gra ms what that move
was supposed to look like. . . . Harry saw himself in robes that had his
name on the back, and imagined the sensation of hearing a
hundred -thousand -strong 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! ”
 118 ‘

THE DARK MARK

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 jeans over his own pajamas, said, “No time, Harry — just 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 still burning, he could see people
running away into the woods, fleeing something that was moving
across the field toward them, something that was emitting odd flashes
of light and noises like gunfire. Loud jeering, roars of laughter, and
drunken yells were drifting toward them; then came a burst of strong
green light, which illuminated the sce ne.
A crowd of wizards, tightly packed and moving together with wands
pointing straight 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, floating along in midair, four struggling 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
marionettes operated by inv isible strings that rose from the wands into
the air. Two of the figures were very small.
More wizards were joining the marching group, laughing and pointing
up at the floating bodies. Tents crumpled and fell as the
 119 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

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 floating 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 struggled to cover herself up as the crowd
below her screeched and hooted with glee. “That ’s sick, ” Ron
muttered, watching the smallest Muggle child, who had begun to spin
like a top, sixty feet above the ground, his head floppi ng 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 Ministry! ” 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 sprinting away toward the
oncoming marchers; Mr. Weasley tore after them. Ministry 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 starting to pull her
toward the wood. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and George fol - lowed. They
all looked back as they reached the trees. The crowd
 120 ‘

THE DARK MARK

beneath the Roberts family was larger than ever; they could see the
Ministry wizards trying 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
extinguished. Dark figures were blundering through the trees; children
were crying; anxious shouts and panicked voices were re - verberating
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 abr uptly 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 tree, looking utterly re - laxed. 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 glittering. “Had -
n’t you better be hurrying along, now? You wouldn ’t like her spot -
ted, would you? ”
 121 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

He nodded at Hermione, and at the same moment, a blast like a bomb
sounded from the campsite, and a flash of green light mo - mentarily lit
the trees around them.
“What ’s that supposed to mean? ” said Hermione defiantly.
“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, Potter, ” said Malfoy, grinning mali - ciously. “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 a rm to
restrain him as he took a step toward Malfoy.
There came a bang from the other side of the trees 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. ”
 122 ‘

THE DARK MARK

“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 Ministry will catch him! ” said Her - mione
fervently. “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 n ervously over
their shoulders toward the commotion back at the campsite. A huddle
of teenagers in pajamas was arguing vociferously a little way along the
path. When they saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a girl
with thick curly hair turned and said quickly, “ Oщ 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
of Magical Education in Europe. ”
“Oh . . . yeah . . . right, ” said Harry.
“Fred and George can ’t have g one that far, ” said Ron, pulling out his
wand, lighting it like Hermione ’s, and squinting up the path. Harry dug
in the pockets of his jacket 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! ”
 123 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“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 times in the wizarding world,
and finding himself without it in the midst of a scene like this made
him feel very vulnerable.
A rustling noise nearby made all three of them jump. Winky the
house -elf was fighting he r way out of a clump of bushes nearby. She
was moving in a most peculiar fashion, apparently with great diffi -
culty; it was as though someone invisible were trying to hold her back.
“There is bad wizards about! ” she squeaked distractedly as she leaned
forward and labored to keep running. “People high — high in the air!
Winky is getting out of the way! ”
And she disappeared into the trees on the other side of the path,
panting 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 time he had tried to do something the Malfoys wouldn ’t
like, the house -elf had been forc ed to start beat - ing himself up.
 124 ‘

THE DARK MARK

“You know, house -elves get a very raw deal! ” said Hermione in -
dignantly. “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 hotly, “who prop up
rotten and unjust systems, just because they ’re too lazy t o — ”
Another loud bang echoed from the edge of the wood.
“Let ’s just keep moving, shall we? ” said Ron, and Harry saw him
glance edgily at Hermione. Perhaps there was truth in what Malfoy
had said; perhaps Hermione was in more danger than they were.
They set off again, Harry still searching his pockets, even though he
knew his wand wasn ’t there.
They followed the dark path deeper into the wood, still 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 un - doubtedly won
betting on the match, and who seemed quite unperturbed by the
trouble at the campsite. Farther still along the path, they walked into a
patch of silvery light, and when they look ed through the trees, they saw
three tall and beautiful 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 drag on killer for the Committee for the Dis - posal of
Dangerous Creatures. ”
 125 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“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
triple -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 time the sounds of the veela and their admirers had faded
comp letely, 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 just wait here, you know. We ’ll
hear anyone coming a mile off. ”
The words were hardly out of his mouth, wh en 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 buoy - ant 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, trying 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.
 126 ‘

THE DARK MARK

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 distracted, 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 sitting down on a patch of dry grass at the
foot of a tree. “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 slightly duck -footed and round -shouldered, much less impressive
on his splayed feet than on his broomstick. Harry was listening for
noise from the campsite. Everything seemed much quieter; per haps
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, sitting down
next to Ron and watching the small figure of Krum slouch - ing over
the fallen leaves. “He ’s always said he ’d like to get some - thing 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 Ro n reassuringly. “They ’ll find a way. ”
 127 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“Mad, though, to do something like that when the whole Min - istry 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 drink - ing, or are
they just — ”
But she broke off abruptly and looked over her shoulder. Harry and
Ron looked quickly around too. It sounded as though some - one was
staggering toward their clear ing. They waited, listening to the sounds
of the uneven steps behind the dark trees. But the foot - steps came to
a sudden halt.
“Hello? ” called Harry.
There was silence. Harry got to his feet and peered around the tree. It
was too dark to see very far, but he could sense somebody standing just
beyond the range of his vision.
“Who ’s there? ” he said.
And then, without warning, the silence was rent by a voice un - like 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 glittering erupted from the patch of
darkness Harry ’s eyes had been struggling to penetrate; it flew up over
the treetops and into the sky.
“What the — ?” gasped Ron as he sprang to his feet again, star - ing up
at the thing that had appeared.
For a split second, Harry thought it was another leprechaun for -
mation. Then he realized that it was a colossal skull, comprised of what
looked like emerald sta rs, with a serpent protruding 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.
 128 ‘

THE DARK MARK

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 entire wood like some grisly neon sign. He scanned the
darkness for the person who had conjured 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
jacket and was tugging him backward.
“What ’s the matter? ” Harry said, startled 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 hi s miniature Krum
— the three of them started across the clearing — but be - fore 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 t hem 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 fraction of an
inch he saw jets of fiery red light flying over them from the
 129 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

wizards ’ wands, crossing one another, bouncing off tree trunks, re -
bounding 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 little 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 y ou all
right? ”
“Out of the way, Arthur, ” said a cold, curt voice. It was Mr. Crouch.
He and the other Ministry wizards were clos - ing 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 s napped, his sharp eyes darting be - tween
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 d id you want to at - tack us for? ”
“Do not lie, sir! ” shouted Mr. Crouch. His wand was still point - ing
directly 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, pointing at the place where they
had heard the voice. “The re was someone behind the trees . . . they
shouted words — an incantation — ”
 130 ‘

THE DARK MARK

“Oh, stood over there, did they? ” said Mr. Crouch, turning his
popping eyes on Hermione now, disbelief etched all over his face.
“Said an incantation, did they? You seem very well informed about
how that Mark is summoned, missy — ”
But none of the Ministry wizards apart from Mr. Crouch seemed to
think it remotely li kely that Harry, Ron, or Hermione had conjured the
skull; on the contrary, 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 trees. . . . There ’s a good chance we go t 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 rustling of leaves, and then crunching
footsteps as Mr. Diggory reemerged from behind the trees. He was
carrying a tiny, limp figure in his arms. Harry recog - nized the tea towel
at once. It was Winky.
Mr. Crouch did not m ove or speak as Mr. Diggory deposited his
 131 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

elf on the ground at his feet. The other Ministry wizards were all
staring at Mr. Crouch. For a few seconds Crouch remained trans - fixed,
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 strode 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 si gn. 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.
 132 ‘

THE DARK MARK

“The Dark Mark! ” he panted, almost trampling Winky as he turned
inquiringly to his colleagues. “Who did it? Did you get them? Barty!
What ’s going on? ”
Mr. Crouch had returned empty -handed. His face was still ghostly
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 gar - goyles! ”
Bagman had just noticed Winky lying at his feet. “What
happened to her ?”
“I have been busy, Ludo, ” said Mr. Crouch, still talking in the same
jerky fashion, barely moving his li ps. “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? S he 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, “ Rennervate !”
Winky stirred feebly. Her great brown eyes opened and she blinked
several times in a bemused sort of way. Watched by the silent wizards,
she raised herself shakily into a sitting position.
 133 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

She caught sight of Mr. Diggory ’s feet, and slowly, tremulously, raised
her eyes to stare up into his face; then, more slowly still, she looked up
into the sky. Harry could see the floating skull reflected twice in her
enormous, glassy eyes. She gave a gasp, looked wildly around the
crowded clearing, and burst into terr ified 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 wa s reminded forcibly of Dobby in his
moments of terrified disobedience.
“As you see, elf, the Dark Mark was conjured 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 know - ing how,
sir! ”
“You were found with a wand in your hand! ” barked Mr. Dig - gory,
brandishing it in front of her. And as the wand caught the green light
that was filling the clearing from the sk ull 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 an -
grily. “Is Harry Potter likely to conjure the Dark Mark? ”
 134 ‘

THE DARK MARK

“Er — of course not, ” mumbled Mr. Diggory. “Sorry . . . car - ried
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 stream - ing
down t he sides of her squashed and bulbous nose. “I is . . . I is . . . I is
just 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, speak - ing up
in front of all these Ministr y wizards, yet determined all the same.
“Winky ’s got a squeaky little voice, and the voice we heard doing the
incantation was much deeper! ” She looked around at Harry and Ron,
appealing for their support. “It didn ’t sound any - thing 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 unim - pressed.
“There ’s a simple way of discovering the last spell a wand performed,
elf, did you know that? ”
Winky trembled and shook her head frantically, her ears flap - ping, as
Mr. Diggory raised his own wand again and placed it tip to tip with
Harry ’s.
 135 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“ Prior Incantato !” roared Mr. Diggory.
Harry heard Hermione gasp, horrified, as a gigantic 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, elf !” Mr. Diggory roared.
“ Caught with the 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 suggesting, ” 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 i n 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 — ” muttered Mr. Diggory, look - ing
highly discomforted.
“And I trust you remember the many proofs I have given, over a
 136 ‘

THE DARK MARK

long career, that I despise and detest the Dark Arts and those who
practice 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 twisting the hem of her tea towel so violently 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 conjured 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 betrayed them. And Winky here had the misfor tune 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 tremble worse than ever. Her giant eyes flick - ered 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
curtly, “I am fully aware that, in the ordinary course of events, you
would want to take Winky into your
 137 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

department for questioning. I ask you, however, to allow me to deal
with her. ”
Mr. Diggory looked as though he didn ’t think much of this sug -
gestion at all, but it was clear to Harry that Mr. Crouch was such an
important member of the Ministry 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 be - lieved 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, prostrat 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 pre - sent
it with proper garments. It was pitiful 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
levitating people! You can ’t blame her for wanting to get out of their
way! ”
Mr. Crouch took a step backward, freeing himself from contact with
the elf, whom he was surveying as though she were something filthy
and rotten that was contaminating his over -shined shoes.
“I have no use for a house -elf who disobeys me, ” he said coldly,
 138 ‘

THE DARK MARK

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 clear - ing.
There was a very nasty silence, which was ended by Mr. Weasley, who
said quietly, “Well, I think I ’ll take my lot back to the tent, if nobody ’s
got any objections. 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 quietly. But Hermione didn ’t seem to
want to move; her eyes were still upon the sobbing elf. “Hermione! ”
Mr. Weasley said, more urgently. She turned and followe d Harry and
Ron out of the clearing and off through the trees.
“What ’s going to happen to Winky? ” said Hermione, the mo - ment
they had left the clearing.
“I don ’t know, ” said Mr. Weasley.
“The way they were treating her! ” said Hermione furiously. “Mr.
Diggory, calling her ‘elf ’ all the time . . . 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, beck - oning
her on, “but now is not the time to discuss elf rights. I want to get back
to the tent as fast as we can. What happened to the others? ”
 139 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“We lost them in the dark, ” said Ron. “Dad, why was everyone so
uptight 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 comin g to - ward
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 impatiently. “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 en - tering
the tent. Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered after him. Bill was sitting
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
sporting a bloody nose. Fred, George, and Ginny looked unhurt,
though shaken.
“Did you get them, Dad? ” said Bill sharply. “The person who conjured
the Mark? ”
“No, ” said Mr. Weasley. “We found Barty Crouch ’s elf holding
 140 ‘

THE DARK MARK

Harry ’s wand, but we ’re none the wiser about who actually con - jured
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 . . . em - barra ssing
him in front of the whole Ministry . . . how would that have looked, if
she ’d been brought up in front of the Department for the Regulation
and Control — ”
“She didn ’t do anything — she was just in the wrong place at the
wrong time! ” 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 position can ’t afford a house -elf
who ’s going to run amok with a wand! ” said Percy pomp ously,
recovering himself.
“She didn ’t run amok! ” shouted Hermione. “She just picked it up off
the ground! ”
“Look, can someone just 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
 141 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

quietly. “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 still 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 com - ing home and
finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, an d 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 toni ght,
whoever conjured 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 modi - fied 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. Every -
 142 ‘

THE DARK MARK

body 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 hollo w 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 reu nion 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 fright - ened than the rest of
us to see hi m 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
conjure it. I ’d be very surprise d if the person who did it hadn ’t been a
Death Eater once, even if they ’re not now. . . .
 143 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

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 try 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
time in thirteen years, Lord Voldemort ’s mark had ap - peared in the
sky. What did these things mean?
He thought of the letter he had written to Sirius before leaving Privet
Drive. Would Sirius have gotten 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 af ter Charlie ’s snores filled the
tent that Harry finally dozed off.















 144 ‘

C H A P T E R T E N









MAYHEM AT
THE MINISTRY


r.Weasley woke them after only a few hours sleep. He
M
used magic to pack up the tents, and they left the campsite as quickly as
possible, passing Mr. Roberts at the door of his cottage. Mr. Roberts
had a strange, dazed look about him, and he waved them of f with a
vague “Merry Christmas. ”
“He ’ll be all right, ” said Mr. Weasley quietly as they marched off onto
the moor. “Sometimes, when a person ’s memory ’s modified, 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 joined the queue, and
were able to take an old rubber tire back to Stoatshead Hill before the
sun had really risen. They wal ked
 145 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

back through Ottery St. Catchpole and up the damp lane toward the
Burrow in the dawn light, talking very little because they were so
exhausted, and thinking longingly of their breakfast. As they rou nded
the corner and the Burrow came into view, a cry echoed along the lane.
“Oh thank goodness, thank goodness! ”
Mrs. Weasley, who had evidently been waiting for them in the front
yard, came running toward them, still wearing her bedroom
slippers, her face pale and strained, 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 QUID -
DITCH WORLD CUP , complete with a twinkling black -and -
white photograph of the Dark Mark over the treetops.
“You ’re all right, ” Mrs. Weasley muttered distractedly, 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 left! ” Mrs. Weasley said, starting 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
O.W.L.s? Oh Fred . . . George . . . ”
“Come on, now, Molly, we ’re all perfectly okay, ” said Mr. Weasley
soothingly, prising her off the twins and leading her back
 146 ‘

MAYHEM AT
THE MINISTRY

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 tiny kitchen, and Hermione had
made Mrs. Weasley a cup of very strong 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 i t,” said Mr. Weasley heavily. “ Ministry blunders . . . cul -
prits 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 Ministry of Magic! ” said Percy
furiously. “Last week she was saying we ’re wasting our time quib - bling
about cauldron thickness, when we should be stamping out
vampires! As if it wasn ’t specifically stated in paragraph twelve of th e
Guidelines for the Treatment of Non -Wizard Part -Humans — ”
“Do us a favor, Perce, ” said Bill, yawning, “and shut up. ”
“I’m mentioned, ” said Mr. Weasley, his eyes widening behind
his glasses as he reached the bottom of the Daily Prophet article.
“W here? ” spluttered 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 the terrified
wizards and witches who waited breathlessly for news at the edge of the wood expected
reassurance from the Ministry of Magic, they were sadly disappointed. A Ministry
official emerged some time after the appear - ance of the Dark Mark alleging that
nobody h ad been hurt, but refus - ing to give any more information. Whether this
statement will be enough to quash the rumors that several bodies were removed from
the
woods an hour later, remains to be seen .’ Oh really, ” said Mr. Weasley
 147 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

in exasperation, handing the paper to Percy. “Nobody was hurt.
What was I supposed to say? Rumors that several bodies were re -
moved from the 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 importantly. “Mr. Crouch
will need all hands on deck. And I can give him my cau l- dron report in
person. ”
He bustled out of the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley looked most upset.
“Arthur, you ’re supposed to be on holiday! This hasn ’t got any - thing
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
just 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 distractedly. “No . . . no, there
hasn ’t been any post at all. ”
Ron and Hermione looked curiously at Harry. With a meaning - ful
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 Satur - day
morning, I woke up with my scar hurting again. ”
 148 ‘

MAYHEM AT
THE MINISTRY

Ron ’s and Hermione ’s reactions were almost exactly as Harry had
imagined them back in his bedroom on Privet Drive. Hermione
gasped and started making suggestions at once, mentioning a number
of reference books, and everybody from Albus Dumble - dore to
Madam Pomfrey, the Hogwarts nurse. Ron simply looked
dumbstruck.
“But — he wasn ’t there, was he? You -Know -Who? I mean — last time
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 remem ber 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 bracin gly. “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 Divination 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
 149 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

was different. I told you, she went into a trance — a real one. And
she said the Dark Lord would rise again . . . greater and more terri -
ble than ever before . . . and he ’d manage it because his servant was
going to go back to him . . . and that n ight 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 Sir - ius ’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 journey 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 - sensitive 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, muttering something that sounded
very much like “ Boys. ”
 150 ‘

MAYHEM AT
THE MINISTRY


* * *
Neither Mr. We asley nor Percy was at home much over the follow - ing
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 importantly the
Sunday e vening before they were due to return to Hogwarts. “I’ve
been putting 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
wan t compensation 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 grand father clock in the corner. Harry
liked this clock. It was completely useless if you wanted to know the
time, 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 nume rals around the face, but de - scriptions of where
each family member might be. “Home, ” “school, ” and “work ” were
there, but there was also “traveling, ” “lost, ” “hospital, ” “prison, ” and,
in the position where the number twelve would be on a normal clock,
“mortal peril. ”
Eight of the hands were currently pointing to the “home ”
 151 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

position, but Mr. Weasley ’s, which was the longest, was still point - ing
to “work. ” Mrs. Weasley sighed.
“Your father hasn ’t had to go into the office 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,
do esn ’t he? ” said Percy. “If truth be told, he was a tad un - wise 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 just have said it was
disgraceful that nobody from the Ministry had commented, ” said Bill,
who was playing chess with Ron. “Rita Skeeter never makes anyone
look good. Remember, she interviewed al l 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 im -
mersed in The Standard Book of Spells, 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
broomstick servicing kit Hermione had given him for his thirteenth
birthday open at his feet. Fred and George were sit - ting in a far corner,
quills out, talking in whispers, their heads bent over a piece of
parchment.
 152 ‘

MAYHEM AT
THE MINISTRY

“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 writing out a new order form , are
you? ” said Mrs. Weasley shrewdly. “You wouldn ’t be thinking of re -
starting 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, look ing up at the clock
again.
Mr. Weasley ’s hand had suddenly spun from “work ” to “travel - ing ”; 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, hurryi ng 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 fire now, ” he told Mrs. Weasley as he sat
down in an armchair near the hearth and toyed unenthusiasti - cally with
his somewhat shriveled cauliflower. “Rita Skeeter ’s been ferreting
around all week, looking for more Ministry mess -ups to report. And
now she ’s found out about poor old Bertha goin g
 153 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

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 tha t 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 Min - istry
official like Mr. Crouch deserves unswerving obedience from his
servants — ”
“His slave, you mean! ” said Hermione, her voice rising passion -
ately, “because he didn ’t pay Winky, did he? ”
“I think you ’d all better 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 broomstick 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 whistlings and
moans from the wind, not to mention 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 -pa cked trunks
seemed to have sent him into a frenzy of excitement.
 154 ‘

MAYHEM AT
THE MINISTRY

“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 caug ht, do you? ”
“Nah, it would ’ve been in the Daily Prophet, ” said Ron. “The
Ministry 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 un -
wrapping the shopping. Apart from The Stan dard Book of Spells,
Grade 4, by Miranda Goshawk, he had a handful of new quills, a
dozen rolls of parchment, and refills for his potion -making kit — he
had been running low on spine of lionfish and essence of bel - ladonna.
He was just 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, car - rying
an armful of freshly laundered Hogwarts robes.
 155 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

“Here you are, ” she said, sorting 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 for - mal
occasions. ”
“You ’ve got to be kidding, ” said Ron in disbelief. “I’m not wear - ing
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 trepidation, 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, th ey were more or less the same
as his school ones, except that they were bottle green in - stead 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 r obes. “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.
 156 ‘

MAYHEM AT
THE MINISTRY

Harry looked away. He would willingly have split all the money in his
Gringotts 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, Harr y, 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
spluttering noise from behind them. Pigwidgeon was chok - ing on an
overlarge Owl Treat.
“Why is everythin g I own rubbish? ” said Ron furiously, striding across
the room to unstick Pigwidgeon ’s beak.


















 157 ‘

C H A P T E R E L E V E
N









ABOARD THE
HOGWARTS
EXPRESS


here was a definite end -of -the -holidays gloom in the air
T
when Harry awoke next morning. Heavy rain was still splat -
tering against the window as he got dressed in jeans and a sweat - shirt;
they would change into their school robes on the Hogwarts Express.
He, Ron, Fred, and George had just reached the first -floor land - ing on
their way down to breakfast, when Mrs. Weasley appeared at the foot
of the stairs, looking haras sed.
“Arthur! ” she called up the staircase. “Arthur! Urgent message from
the Ministry! ”
Harry flattened himself against the wall as Mr. Weasley came clattering
past with his robes on back -to -front and hurtled 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 —
 158 ‘

ABOARD THE
HOGWAR TS
EXPRESS

Harry shut his eyes hard and opened them again to make sure that they
were working properly.
Amos Diggory ’s head was sitting in the middle of the flames like a large,
bearded egg. It was talking very fast, completely unper - turbed 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 parch - ment,
a bottle of ink, and a crumpled quill into Mr. Weasley ’s hands.
“— it’s a real stroke 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
fo und 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, un -
screwing the ink bottle, loading up his quill, and preparing to take
notes.
Mr. Diggory ’s head r olled its eyes. “Says he heard an intruder 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 every where, as far as I can
tell, ” said Mr. Diggory. “Apparently one of them was still rocketing
around when the please -men turned up — ”
Mr. Weasley groaned.
“And what about the intruder? ”
“Arthur, you know Mad -Eye, ” said Mr. Diggory ’s head, rolling
 159 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

its eyes again. “Someone creeping into his yard in the dead of night?
More likely there ’s a very shell -shocked 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, some - thing in
your department — what are exploding dustbins worth? ” “Might be a
caution, ” said Mr. Weasley, still writing very fas t, 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 jinxing everything he could
reach through the window, ” said Mr. Diggory, “but they ’ll have a job
proving it, there aren ’t any casualties. ”
“All right, I ’m off, ” Mr. Weasley said, and he stuffed the parch - ment
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, mo re calmly, “bothering you so early and everything . . .
but Arthur ’s the only one who can get Mad -Eye off, 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 buttered 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,
 160 ‘

ABOARD THE
HOGWARTS
EXPRESS

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 better 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 t he 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 thoughtfully, spreading mar - malade
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 quietly 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 retired, used to work at the Ministry, ” 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, see - ing Harry ’s blank
look. “Half the cells in Azkaban are full because

 161 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

of him. He made himself loads of enemies, though . . . the families of
people he caught, mainly . . . and I heard he ’s been getting 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
station, but Percy, apologizing most profusely, said that he really
needed to get to work.
“I just can ’t justify taking more time off at the moment, ” he told the m.
“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
tried to borrow Ministry cars for us, ” Mrs. Weasley whispered to Harry
as they stood in the rain -washed yard, watch - ing the taxi drivers
heaving six heavy Hogwarts trunks into their ca rs. “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
earsplitting racket. Nor did it help tha t a number of Filibuster ’s
Fabulous Wet -Start, No -Heat 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 journey was uncomfortab le, owing to the fact that they were
jammed in the back of the taxis with their trunks. Crook - shanks took
quite a while to recover from the fireworks, and by the time they
entered London, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were all
 162 ‘

ABOARD THE
HOGWARTS
EXPRESS

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 trunks across the busy road and into the station.
Harry was used to getting onto platform nine and three -quarters by
now. It was a simple matter of walking straight through the ap -
parently solid barrier dividing platforms nine and ten. The only tricky
part was doing this in an unobtrusive way, so as to a void at - tracting
Muggle attention. They did it in groups today; Harry, Ron, and
Hermione (the most conspicuous, since they were accompa - nied by
Pigwidgeon and Crookshanks) went first; they leaned casu - ally against
the barrier, chatting unconcernedly, an d slid sideways through it . . .
and as they did so, platform nine and three -quarters materialized in
front of them.
The Hogwarts Express, a gleaming scarlet steam engine, was al - ready
there, clouds of steam billowing from it, through which the many
Ho gwarts students and parents on the platform appeared like dark
ghosts. Pigwidgeon became noisier than ever in response to the
hooting of many owls through the mist. Harry, Ron, and Hermione set
off to find seats, and were soon stowing their luggage in a
co mpartment halfway along the train. They then hopped back down
onto the platform to say good -bye 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 mentioned it . . . it ’s
‘classified information, until such time as the Ministry sees fit to release
it,’ after all. ”
 163 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

“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 interesting year, ” said Bill, his eyes twinkling.
“I might even ge t time off to come and watch a bit of it. . . . ”
“A bit of what ?” said Ron.
But at that moment, the whistle 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 win - dow 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 yo u’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, smil - ing.
“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, Georg e? ”
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? ”
 164 ‘

ABOARD THE
HOGWARTS
EXPRESS

But Mrs. Weasley only smiled and waved. Before the train 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 ma de 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, sitting down next to H arry. “At the World Cup, remember?
But my own mother won ’t say. Wonder what — ” “Shh! ” Hermione
whispered suddenly, pressing her finger to her lips and pointing
toward the compartment next to theirs. Harry and Ron listened, and
heard a familiar drawling voi ce drifting in through the open door.
“. . . Father actually considered sending me to Durmstrang 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 Durmstrang takes a far more sensible line than
Hogwarts about the Dark Arts. Durmstrang students actually learn
them, n ot just the defense rubbish we do. . . . ”
Hermione got up, tiptoed 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.
 165 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

“Yes, ” said Hermione sniffily, “and it ’s got a horrible reputation.
According to An Appraisal of Magical Education 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 traditionally been a lot of rivalry between all the magic
schools. Durmstrang and Beauxbatons like to conceal their where -
abouts so nobody can steal their secrets, ” said Hermione matter -of -
factly.
“Come off it, ” said Ron, star ting to laugh. “Durmstrang ’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. “Every -
one 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 entrance 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 for - eign wizards from
finding it, they ’ll have made it Unplottable — ” “Come again? ”
 166 ‘

ABOARD THE
HOGWARTS
EXPRESS

“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 Durmstrang must be somewhere in the far north, ” said
Hermione thoughtfully. “Somewhere very cold, because they ’ve got
fur capes as part of their uniforms. ”
“Ah, think of the possibilities, ” said Ron dreamily. “It would ’ve been
so easy to pus h Malfoy off a glacier and make it look like an
accident. . . . Shame his mother likes him. . . . ”
The rain became heavier and heavier as the train moved farther north.
The sky was so dark and the windows so steamy that the lanterns were
lit by midday. The lunch trolley came rattling 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 pro -
gressed, including Seamus Finnigan, Dea n Thomas, and Neville
Longbottom, a round -faced, extremely forgetful boy who had been
brought up by his formidable witch of a grandmother. Seamus was still
wearing his Ireland rosette. Some of its magic seemed to be
wearing off now; it was still squeaki ng “ 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 Spells, Grade 4, and
started trying to le arn a Summoning Charm.
Neville listened jealously to the others ’ conversation as they re - lived
the Cup match.
“Gran didn ’t want to go, ” he said miserably. “Wouldn ’t buy tick - ets.
It sounded amazing though. ”

 167 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

“It was, ” said Ron. “Look at this, Neville. . . . ”
He rummaged in his trunk 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 appear ed to have grown at
least a foot during the summer. Evi - dently they had overheard the
conversation through the compart - ment door, which Dean and
Seamus had left ajar.
“Don ’t remember asking you to join us, Malfoy, ” said Harry coolly.
“Weasley . . . wha t is that ?” said Malfoy, pointing at Pigwid -
geon ’s cage. A sleeve of Ron ’s dress robes was dangling from it, sway -
ing with the motion of the train, the moldy lace cuff very obvious. Ron
made to stuff the robes out of sight, but Malfoy was too quick fo r 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? Go ing to try and bring a bit of
 168 ‘

ABOARD THE
HOGWARTS
EXPRESS

glory to the family name? There ’s money involved as well, you know . . .
you ’d be able to afford some decent robes if you won. . . . ” “What are
you talking about? ” snapped Ron.
“ Are you
going to enter ?” Malfoy repeated. “I suppose you will,
Potter? 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 Ministry and you don ’t even know ? My
God, my father told me about it ages ago . . . heard it from Cor -
nelius Fudge. But then, Father ’s always associated with the top peo -
ple at the Ministry. . . . Maybe your father ’s too junior to know about it,
Weasley . . . yes . . . they probably don ’t talk about impor - tant 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, muttered “ Reparo !” and the glass shards flew back into a sin -
gle pane and back into the door.
“Well . . . making it look like he knows everything and we
don ’t. . . . ” Ron snarled. “‘ Father ’s always associated with the top peo -
ple at the Ministry. ’. . . Dad could ’ve got a promotion any time . . .
he just likes it where he is. . . . ”
“Of course he does, ” said Hermione quietly. “Don ’t let Malfoy get to
you, Ron — ”

 169 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

“Him! Get to me!? As if! ” said Ron, picking up one of the re -
maining Cauldron Cakes and squashing it into a pulp.
Ron ’s bad mood continued for the rest of the journey. He didn ’t talk
much as they changed into their school robes, and was still glowering
when the Hogwarts Express slowed down at last and fi - nally stopped
in the pitch -darkness of Hogsmeade station.
As the train doors opened, there was a rumble of thunder over - head.
Hermione bundled up Crookshanks in her cloak and Ron left his dress
robes over Pigwidgeon as they left the train, heads bent and eye s
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 gigantic silhouette 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 traditionally reached Hogwarts Castle by sailing across the
lake with Hagrid.
“Oooh, I wouldn ’t fancy crossing the lake in this weather, ” said
Hermione fervently, shivering as they inched slowly along the dark
platform with the rest of the crowd. A hundred horseless carriages
stood waiting for them outside the station. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and
Nev ille 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.



 170 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E L V
E









THE
TRIWIZARD
TOURNAMENT


hrough the gates, flanked with statues of winged boars, and
T
up the sweeping drive the carriages trundled, swaying dan -
gerously in what was fast becoming a gale. Leaning against the win -
dow, Harry could see Hogwarts coming nearer, its many lighted
windows blurred and shimmering beh ind 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 th e stone steps into the castle. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and
Neville jumped down from their carriage and dashed up the steps too,
looking up only when they were safely inside the cavernous, torch -lit

entrance hall, with its magnificent marble staircase.
“Blimey, ” said Ron, shaking his head and sending water every - where,
“if that keeps up the lake ’s going to overflow. I ’m soak — ARRGH! ”
 171 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

A large, red, water -filled balloon had dropped from out of the ceiling
onto Ron ’s head and exploded. Drenched and sputtering, Ron
staggered sideways into Harry, just 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. Peo - ple 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, floating twenty feet above
them, Peeves the Poltergeist, a little man in a bell -covered hat and
orange bow tie, 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 Headmistress and head of Gryf -
findor House, had come dashing out of the Great Hall; s he skidded on
the wet floor 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 McGona gall,
straightening her pointed hat and glaring upward through her
square -rimmed spectacles.
“Not doing nothing! ” cackled Peeves, lobbing a water bomb at several
fifth -year girls, who screamed and dived into the Great Hall. “Already
wet, aren ’t they? Little 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 — ”
 172 ‘

THE
TRIWIZARD
TOURNAMENT

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 entrance hall
and through the double doors on the right, Ron muttering furiously
under his breath as he pushed his sopping hair off his face.
The Great Hall looked its us ual splendid self, decorated for the
start -of -term feast. Golden plates and goblets gleamed by the light of
hundreds and hundreds of candles, floating over the tables in midair.
The four long House tables were packed with chattering students; at
the top of the Hall, the staff 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 si de of the Hall,
next to Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost. Pearly white and
semitransparent, Nick was dressed tonight in his usual doublet, but
with a particularly large ruff, which served the dual purpose of looking
extra -festive, and insuring th at 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 Sorting of the new students into Houses took place at the start of
every school year, but by an unlucky combination of cir - cumstances,
Harry hadn ’t been present at one since his own. He
 173 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

was quite looking forward to it. Just then, a highly excited, breath - less
voice called down the table.
“Hiya, Harry! ”
It was Colin Creevey, a third year to whom Harry was some - thing of
a hero.
“Hi, Colin, ” said Harry warily.
“Harry, guess what? Guess what, Harry? My brother ’s starting! My
brother Dennis! ”
“Er — good, ” said Harry.
“He ’s really excited! ” said Colin, practically 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 Hermi - one, Ron,
and Nearly Headless Nick. “Brothers and sisters usually go in the same
Houses, don ’t they? ” he said. He was judging by the Weasleys, all seven
of whom had been put into Gryffi ndor.
“Oh no, not necessarily, ” said Hermione. “Parvati Patil ’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 still fight - ing his
way across the lake with the first years; Professor McGonagall was
presumably supervising the drying of the entrance hall floor, but there
was another empty chair too, and Harry couldn ’t think who else was
miss ing.
“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
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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 little Professor Flitwick,
the Charms teacher, was sitting 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 Sin - istra of the
Astronomy department. On Professor Sinistra ’s other side was the
sallow -faced, hook -nosed, greasy -haired Potions mas - ter, Snape —
Harry ’s least favorite person at Hogwarts. Harry ’s loathing of Snape
was matched only by Snape ’s hatred of him, a ha - tred which had, if
possible, intensified 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, wh ich 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 s tars and moons. The tips 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. ”
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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 to p of the Hall. If Harry, Ron, and
Hermione were wet, it was nothing to how these first years looked.
They appeared to have swum across the lake rather than sailed. All of
them were shivering with a combination of cold and nerves as they
filed along the sta ff 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 looked as
though he were draped in a furry black circus tent. His small face
protruded 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 extremely old, dirty, patched
wizard ’s hat. The first years star ed at it. So did every - one 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,
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Shrewd Slytherin, from fen.
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!
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The Great Hall rang with applause as the Sorting Hat finished. “That ’s
not the song it sang when it Sorted us, ” said Harry, clap - ping along
with everyone else.
“Sings a different one every year, ” said Ron. “It’s got to be a pretty
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 ha t announces your House,
you will go and sit at the appropriate table.
“Ackerley, Stewart! ”
A boy walked forward, visibly trembling from head to foot, picked up
the Sorting Hat, put it on, and sat down on the stool.
“RAVENCLAW! ” shouted the hat.
Stewar t 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 fleeting 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 joined 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! ”
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“Cauldwell, Owen! ”
“HUFFLEPUFF! ”
“Creevey, Dennis! ”
Tiny Dennis Creevey staggered forward, tripping over Hagrid ’s
moleskin, just 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 slightly alarming — a mis - leading 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 putting on the Sorting Hat. The rip at the
brim opened wide — “GRYFFINDOR! ” the hat shouted.
Hagrid clapped along with the Gryffindors as Dennis Creevey,
be aming 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 t he 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, fath -
oms -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 Sorting Hat, now Sorti ng
Emma Dobbs.
The Sorting continued; boys and girls with varying degrees of
 179 ‘

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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 Sorting ’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 Gryffindors are up to scratch, ” said
Nearly Headless Nick, applauding as “McDonald, Natalie! ” joined the
Gryffindor 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 finally, with “Whitby, Kevin! ” (“HUFFLEPUFF! ”), the Sorting
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 gotten to his feet. He was smiling aro und
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.
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“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.
“Pe eves, of course, ” said Nearly Headless Nick, shaking his head,
which wobbled dangerously. He pulled his ruff a little higher up on his
neck. “The usual argument, you know. He wanted to attend the feast
— well, it ’s quite out of the question, you know what he ’s like, utterly
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 Sl ytherin ghost, a gaunt and silent specter
covered in silver bloodstains. He was the only person at Hogwarts who
could really control 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 house -elves out of their wits — ”
Clang.
Hermione had knocked over her golden goblet. Pumpkin juice 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 -struck, at
Nearly Headless Nick. “Here at Hogwarts ?”
“Certainly, ” said Nearly Headless Nick, looking surprised at her
 181 ‘

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reaction. “The largest number in any dwelling in Britain, I believe.
Over a hundred. ”
“I’ve never seen one! ” said Hermione.
“Well, the y 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 sup - posed to see them,
are you? That ’s the mark of a good house -elf, is n’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 chortled so much that his ruff slipped and his
head flopped off, dangling on the inch or so of ghostly skin and muscle
that still attached 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
wan t 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 still drumming heavily against the high, dark glass.
Another clap of thunder shook the windows, and the stormy
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ceiling flashed, illuminating the golden plates as the remains of the first
course vanished and were replaced, instantly, with puddings. “Treacle
tart, Hermione! ” said Ron, deliberately wafting its smell toward her.
“Spotted dick, look! Chocolate gateau! ”
But Hermione gave him a look so reminiscent of Professor
McGonagal l 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 chatter filling the Hall ceased almost
at once, so that only t he 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 attention, while I give out a few notices. “Mr. Filch, the
caretaker, has asked me to tell you that the list of objects forbidden
inside the castle 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 continued, “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 Hogs - meade 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
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soundlessly at Dumbledore, apparently too appalled to speak.
Dumbledore went on, “This is due to an event that will be starting in
October, and continuing 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 dea fening 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 traveling cloak. Every head in the Great Hall swiveled toward the
stranger, suddenly brightly 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 be - gan 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 diago nal 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, electric blue. The blue eye was mov -
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ing ceaselessly, without blinking, and was rolling up, down, and from
side to side, quite independently of the normal eye — and then it rolled
right over, pointing into the back of the man ’s head, so that all they
could see was whiteness.
The stranger reached Dumbledore. He stretched out a hand that was
as badly scarred as his face, and Dumbledore shook it, mutter - ing
words Harry couldn ’t hear. He seemed to be making some in - quiry of
the stranger, 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 stranger 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 fixed upon the sausages, but the blue eye was still darti ng restlessly
around in its socket, taking in the Hall and the students.
“May I introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? ”
said Dumbledore brightly into the silence. “Professor Moody. ”
It was usual for new staff members to be greeted with applause, but
none of the staff or students clapped 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 transfixed 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? ”
 185 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

“Must be, ” said Ron in a low, awed voice.
“What happened to him? ” Hermione whispered. “What hap -
pened to his face ?”
“Dunno, ” Ron whispered back, watching Moody with fasci - nation.
Moody seemed totally indifferent to his less -than -warm wel - come.
Ignoring the jug of pumpkin juice in front of him, he reached again
into his traveling 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, b elow 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 still gazing transfixed at Mad -Eye Moody, “we are to
hav e 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 Tour - nament 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 chuck - led
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 troll, a
hag, and a leprechaun who all go into a bar . . . ”
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat loudly.
“Er — but maybe this is not the time . . . no . . . ” said Dumble - dore,
“where w as I? Ah yes, the Triwizard Tournament . . . well, some of you
will not know what this tournament involves, so I
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hope those who do know will forgive me for giving a short expla -
nation, and allow their attention to wander freely.
“The Triwizard Tournament was first established some seven hundred
years ago as a friendly competition between the three largest European
schools of wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang. 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 es - tablishing ties between young
witches and wizards of different na - tionalities — until, that is, the
death toll mounted so high that the tournament was discontinued. ”
“ Death toll ?” Hermione whispered, looking alarmed. But her
anxiety did not seem to be shared by the majority 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 tourna -
ment than in worrying about deaths that had happened hundreds of
years ago.
“There have been several attempts over the centuries to reinstate the
tournament, ” Dumbledore continued, “none of which has been very
successful. However, our own departments of Interna - tional Magical
Cooperation and Magical Games and Sports have decided t he time is
ripe for another attempt. We have worked hard over the summer to
ensure that this time, no champion will find himself or herself in
mortal danger.
“The heads of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang will be arriving with their
short -listed contenders in October, and the selection of the three
champions will take place at Halloween. An impartial judge will decide
which students are most worthy to compete for
 187 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

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 s eemed to be visualizing himself as the Hogwarts
champion. At every House table, Harry could see people either gazing
raptly at Dumbledore, or else whispering fervently 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 participating schools, along with
the Ministry of Magic, have agreed to impose an age restriction on
contenders this year. Only students who are of a ge — that is to say,
seventeen years or older — will be allowed to put for - ward their
names for consideration. This ” — Dumbledore raised his voice
slightly, for several people had made noises of outrage at these words,
and the Weasley twins were suddenly looking furious — “is a measure
we feel is necessary, given that the tournament tasks will still be
difficult and dangerous, whatever precautions 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 under - age student
hoodwinks our impartial judge into making them Hog - warts
champion. ” His light blue eyes twinkled as they flickered over Fred ’s
and George ’s mutinous faces. “I therefore beg you not to waste your
tim e submitting yourself if you are under seventeen.
“The delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang will be ar - riving
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 guest s while
they are with us, and will give your whole -hearted sup -
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port 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 en - trance hall.
“They can ’t do that! ” said George Weasley, who had not joined the
crowd moving toward the door, but was standing up and glar - ing 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 en - trance hall,
Fred and George debating the ways in w hich Dumble - dore might stop
those who were under seventeen from entering the tournament.
“Who ’s this impartial judge 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 dr ops of Aging Potion might do it, George. . . . ” “Dumbledore
knows you ’re not of age, though, ” said Ron.
 189 ‘

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“Yeah, but he ’s not the one who decides who the champion is, is he? ”
said Fred shrewdly. “Sounds to me like once this judge 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 giv - ing our names. ”
“People have died, though! ” said Hermione in a worried voice as they
wa lked through a door concealed behind a tapestry and started up
another, narrower staircase.
“Yeah, ” said Fred airily, “but that was years ago, wasn ’t it? Any - way,
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 Neville ’s gloomy voice from b ehind 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 w ere many of these trick stairs at Hogwarts; it was second
nature to most of the older students to jump this particu - lar 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 a t 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 entrance to Gryffindor Tower,
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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
portrait swung forward to reveal a hole in the wall through which th ey
all climbed. A crackling fire warmed the circular com - mon room,
which was full of squashy armchairs and tables. Her - mione cast the
merrily dancing flames a dark look, and Harry
distinctly heard her mutter “ 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 un - til they
reached their own dormitory, which was situated at the top of the
tower. Five four -poster beds with deep cr imson hangings stood
against the walls, each with its owner ’s trunk at the foot. Dean and
Seamus were already getting into bed; Seamus had pinned his Ireland
rosette to his headboard, and Dean had tacked up a poster of Viktor
Krum over his bedside table. H is old poster of the West Ham football
team was pinned right next to it. “Mental, ” Ron sighed, shaking his
head at the completely sta - tionary soccer players.
Harry, Ron, and Neville got into their pajamas and into bed. Someone
— a house -elf, no doubt — had placed warming pans between the
sheets. It was extremely 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 tourna - ment . . .
you never know, do you? ”
 191 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

“S’pose not. . . . ”
Harry rolled over in bed, a series of dazzling new pictures form - ing in
his mind ’s eye. . . . He had hoodwinked the impartial judge into
believing he was seventeen . . . he had become Hogwarts champion . . .
he was standing on the grounds, his arms raised in triumph in front of
the whole school, all of whom were applauding and screami ng . . . he
had just 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, exceptionally glad that Ron couldn ’t see
what he could.



















 192 ‘

C H A P T E R T H I R T E
E N









MAD - EYE MOODY




he storm had blown itself out by the following morning,
T
though the ceiling in the Great Hall was still gloomy; heavy clouds of
pewter gray swirled overhead as Harry, Ron, and Hermi - one examined
their new course schedules at breakfast. A few seats along, Fred,
George, and Lee Jordan were discussing magical meth - ods 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. “Her - bology
with the Hufflepuffs and Care of Magical Creatures . . . damn it, we ’re

still with the Slytherins. . . . ”
“Double Divination this afternoon, ” Harry groaned, looking down.
Divination was his least favorite subject, apart from Potions. Professor
Trelawney kept predicting Harry ’s death, which he found extremely
annoying.
“You should have given it up like me, shouldn ’t you? ” said
 193 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Hermione briskly, buttering herself some toast. “Then you ’d be do -
ing something sensible l ike Arithmancy. ”
“You ’re eating again, I notice, ” said Ron, watching Hermione adding
liberal amounts of jam to her toast too.
“I’ve decided there are better ways of making a stand about elf rights, ”
said Hermione haughtily.
“Yeah . . . and you were hungry, ” said Ron, grinning. There was a
sudden rustling noise above them, and a hundred owls came soaring
through the open windows carrying the morning mail. Instinctively,
Harry looked up, but there was no sign of white among the mass of
brown and gray. The owls circled the tables, look - ing for the people to
whom their letters and packages were ad - dressed. A large tawny owl
soared down to Neville Longbottom and deposited a parcel into his
lap — Neville almost always forgot to pac k 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 por - ridge. Was it possible that
something had happened to Hedwig, and that Sirius hadn ’t even got
his letter?
His preoccupation lasted all the way across the sodden vegetable patch
until they arrived in greenhouse three, but here he was dis - tract ed by
Professor Sprout showing the class the ugliest plants Harry had ever
seen. Indeed, they looked less like plants than thick, black, giant slugs,
protruding vertically out of the soil. Each was squirming slightly and
had a number of large, shiny swelli ngs upon it, which appeared to be
full of liquid.
“Bubotubers, ” Professor Sprout told them briskly. “They need
squeezing. You will collect the pus — ”
 194 ‘

MAD -EYE MOODY

“The what ?” said Seamus Finnigan, sounding revolted.
“Pus, Finnigan, pus, ” said Professor Sprout, “and it ’s extremely
valuable, so don ’t waste it. You will collect the pus, I say, in these
bottles. Wear your dragon -hide gloves; it can do funny things to the
skin whe n 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 Profes sor 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 bottle with a cork. “An excellent remedy for the
more stubborn forms of acne, bubotuber pu s. Should stop students
resorting 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 castle across the wet grounds,
signaling the end of the lesson, and the class separated; the Huf -
flepuffs climbing the stone steps for Transfiguration, and the
Gryffindors heading in the other direction, 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
en ormous black boarhound, Fang. There were several open wooden
crates on the ground at his feet, and Fang was whimpering and
straining at his collar, apparently keen to investigate the con - tents
more closely. As they drew nearer, an odd rattling noise
 1 95 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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, jumping backward. “Eurgh ” just
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 sticking 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 anot her, 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 fly out of the end of a skrewt, and with a small phut, it
would be propelled forward several inches.
“On ’y jus ’ 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, apparently thinking hard; there was a few
seconds ’ pause, then he said roughly, “Tha ’s next lesson, Mal - foy. Yer
jus ’ feedin ’ ’em today. Now, yeh ’ll wan ’ ter try ’em on a few diff ’rent
things — I’ve never had ’em before, not sure what they ’ll
 196 ‘

MAD -EYE MOODY

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 affection 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 stings, ” said Hagrid enthusiastically
(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 trying 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 pretty, 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 bear d. Hagrid would have liked
 197 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

nothing better 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 matter if they turn out to cure seasickness or
something, will it? ” said Ron, grinning slyly at her.
“You know perfectly well I only said that to shut Malfoy up, ” said
Hermione. “As a matter 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. ”
The y 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 go - ing
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 continued 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.
 198 ‘

MAD -EYE MOODY

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 tightly spiraling
staircase, a silver stepladder led to a circular trap - door in the ceiling,
and the room where Professor Trelawney lived. The familiar sweet
perfume spreading from the fire met their nostrils as they emerged at
the top of the stepladder. As ever, the curtains were all closed; the
circular room was bathed in a dim red - dish light cast by the many
lamps, which were all d raped with scarves and shawls. Harry and Ron
walked through the mass of occupied chintz chairs and poufs that
cluttered the room, and sat down at the same small circular table.
“Good day, ” said the misty voice of Professor Trelawney right behind
Harry, ma king 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 tragic expression she always wore whenever she saw
him. The usual large amount of beads, ch ains, 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 troubled soul within. And I
regret to say that your worries are not baseless. I see difficult times
ahead for you, alas . . . most difficult . . . 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 fire, facing the
class. Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil, who deeply ad - mired
Professor Trelawney, were sitting on poufs very close to her.
 199 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“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 celestial dance. Hu - man
destiny 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 -witted, and Professor Trelawney ’s rambling talks
on fortune -telling never held him exa ctly spell - bound — 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 fortune - telling was really no more
than lucky guesswork and a spooky manner.
Except, of course, for that time at the end of last term, when she had
made the prediction about Voldemort rising again . . . and
Dumbledore himself had said that he thought th at 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
 200 ‘

MAD -EYE MOODY

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 position of pow er in the heavens at the
moment of your birth. . . . Your dark hair . . . your mean stature . . .
tragic 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
attempting to fill in the position of the planets at their moment of birth.
It was dull work, requiring much consultation o f 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, imitating Professor Trelawney ’s mystical 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 Laven - der Brown
— “Oh Profes sor, 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 Trela wney heard him, and it was
 201 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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 affect you, with reference to your personal chart, ” she
snapped, sounding much more like Professor McGona - gall than her
usual airy -fairy self. “I want it ready to hand in next Monday, and no
excuses! ”
“Miserable old bat, ” said Ron bitte rly as they joined 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 entrance hall, which was packed with people queuing for dinner.
They had just joined 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 every -
one in the packed entrance hall could hear. “Listen to this!
FURTHER MISTAKES AT THE MINISTRY
OF MAGIC
It seems as though the Ministry of Magic ’s troubles
are not yet at an end, writes Rita Skeeter, Special
Correspondent. Recently under fire for its poor
 202 ‘

MAD -EYE MOODY

crowd control at the Quidditch World Cup, and still
unable to account for the disappearance of one of its
witches, the Ministry 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 getting 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 invo lved 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 retired
from the Ministry 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
coul d escape
from the policemen, but refused to answer Daily
Prophet questions about why he had involved the
Ministry in such an undignified and potentially
embarrassing scene.
 203 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“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 los - ing a bit of
weight, couldn ’t she? ”
Ron was shaking with fury. Eve ryone was staring at him. “Get stuffed,
Malfoy, ” said Harry. “C’mon, Ron. . . . ” “Oh yeah, you were staying
with them this summer, weren ’t you, Potter? ” 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 from
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
be cause 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 pointing 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 entrance hall. Nobody but Moody
was moving a muscle. Moody turned to look at Harry —
 204 ‘

MAD -EYE MOODY

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 terrified squeak and took off, streaking toward the dungeons.
“I don ’t think so! ” roared Moody, pointing 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 attack wh en their opponent ’s back ’s turned, ”
growled Moody as the ferret bounced higher and higher, squealing in
pain. “Stinking, 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 McG onagall, ” said Moody calmly, bouncing the
ferret still higher.
 205 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“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 that a student ?” shrieked Professor McGo -
nagall, 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 lo ud snapping noise,
Draco Malfoy had reappeared, lying in a heap on the floor with his
sleek blond hair all over his now brilliantly pink face. He got to his feet,
wincing.
“Moody, we never use Transfiguration as a punishment! ” said
Professor McGonagal l weakly. “Surely Professor Dumbledore told
you that? ”
“He might ’ve mentioned 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 still watering with pain and hu - miliation,
looked malevolently up at Moody and muttered some - thing in which
the words “my father ” were distinguishable.
“Oh yeah? ” said Moody quietly, 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? ”
 206 ‘

MAD -EYE MOODY

“Yes, ” said Malfoy resentfully.
“Another old friend, ” growled Moody. “I’ve been looking for - ward
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 mo -
ments, 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, sur - rounded by
excited talk on all sides about what had just happened. “Why not? ” said
Hermione in surprise.
“Because I want to fix tha t 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 dol - ing 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 beg an 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
 207 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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, sitting 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 exch anged 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.









 208 ‘

C H A P T E R F O U R T E
E N









THE
UNFORGIVABL
E CURSES


he next two days passed without great incident, unless you
T
counted Neville melting his sixth cauldron in Potions. Pro -
fessor Snape, who seemed to have attained new levels of vindictive -
ness over the summer, gave Neville detention, and Neville returned
from it in a state of nervous collapse, having been made to disem -
bowel 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 Scour - ing Charm
to remove the f rog guts from under his fingernails. “Yeah, ” said Harry.
“Moody. ”

It was common knowledge that Snape really wanted the Dark Arts job,
and he had now failed to get it for the fourth year run - ning. Snape had
disliked all of their previous Dark Arts teacher s, and shown it — but
he seemed strangely wary of displaying overt animosity to Mad -Eye
Moody. Indeed, whenever Harry saw the two of them together — at
mealtimes, or when they passed in the
 209 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

corridors — he had the distinct impression that Snape was avoid - ing
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 misting 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 lunchtime and queued up
outside his classroom before the bell had even r ung. 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 front of the teacher ’s
desk, took out their copies of The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self -
Protection, and waited, unusually quiet. Soon they heard Moody ’s
distinctive clunking footsteps coming down the corridor, and he
entered the room, looking as strange and fr ightening as ever. They
could just see his clawed, wooden foot protruding from under - neath
his robes.
“You can put those away, ” he growled, stumping over to his desk and
sitting down, “those books. You won ’t need them. ”
They returned the books to th eir 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 mag - ical eye swiveled around,
fixi ng upon each student as he or she answered.
 210 ‘

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“Right then, ” he said, when the last person had declared them - selves
present, “I’ve had a letter from Professor Lupin about this class. Seems
you ’ve had a pretty 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 wiz - ards 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
extremely 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 tight corner a few days ago. . . . Yeah, I ’m stay - ing just
the one y ear. 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 — straight into it. Curses. They come in many strengths and forms.
Now, according to the Ministry 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 until you ’re in the sixth year. You ’re not
supposed to be old enough to deal with it till then. But Professor
D umbledore ’s got a higher opinion of your nerves,
 211 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

he reckons you can cope, and I say, the sooner you know what you ’re
up against, the better. 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 watchfu l. You need to put that away, Miss
Brown, when I ’m talking. ”
Lavender jumped and blushed. She had been showing Parvati her
completed horoscope under the desk. Apparently Moody ’s magical eye
could see through solid wood, as well as out of the back of his h ead.
“So . . . do any of you know which curses are most heavily pun - ished
by wizarding law? ”
Several hands rose tentatively 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 tentatively, “my dad told me about one. . . . Is it called
the Imperius Curse, or something? ”
“Ah, yes, ” said Moody appreciatively. “Your father would know
that one. Gave the Ministry a lot of trouble at one time, the Im - perius
Curse. ”
Moody got heavily to his mismatched feet, opened his desk drawer,
and took out a glass jar. Three large black spiders were scut - tling
around inside it. Harry felt Ron recoil slightly next to him — Ron
hated spiders.
Moody reached into the jar, caught o ne 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 muttered, “ Imperio !”
The spider leapt from Moody ’s hand on a fine thread of silk and
 212 ‘

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UNFORGIVABLE
CURSES

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 cir - cles.
Moody jerked 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 control, ” said Moody quietly 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 con - trolled
by the Imperius Curse, ” said Moody, and Harry knew he was talking
about the days in which Voldemort had been all -pow - erful. “Some job
for the Ministry, trying to s ort 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 strength of character, and not everyone ’s got it. Better
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 vol - unteered information was
Herbology, which was easily his best subject. Neville looked surprised
at his own daring.
 213 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“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 Longbottom? ” he said, his magical eye swooping down
to check the register again.
Neville nodded nervously, but Moody made no further in - quiries.
Turning back to the class at large, he reached into the jar for the next
spider and placed it upon the desktop, where it re - mained 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.
“ Engor gio !”
The spider swelled. It was now larger than a tarantula. Aban - doning 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 mut -
tered, “ 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 wa nd, and the spider
started to shudder and jerk more violently —
“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
 214 ‘

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CURSES

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 contin - ued to
twitch.
“ Reducio, ” Moody muttered, and the spider shrank back to its
proper size. He put it back into the jar.
“Pain, ” said Moody softly. “You don ’t need thumbscrews or knives to
torture someone if you can perform the Cruciatus Curse. . . . That one
was very popular on ce 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 twisting his lopsided
mouth. “Yes, the last and worst. Avada Kedavra . . . the Killing
Curse. ”
He put his hand into the glass jar, and almost as though it knew what
was coming, the third spider scuttled frantically around the bottom of
the jar, trying 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.
 215 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

There was a flash 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 stifled 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 pleasan t. And there ’s no countercurse. There ’s no
blocking it. Only one known person has ever survived it, and he ’s
sitting 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 lookin g 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 . . . exactly 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 sinc e he ’d found out what had happened that night: Wormtail had
betrayed his parents ’ whereabouts to Voldemort, who had come to find
them at their cottage. How Voldemort had killed Harry ’s father first.
How James Potter had tried to hold him off, while he shou ted at his
wife to take Harry and run . . . Voldemort had advanced on Lily Potter,
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
 216 ‘

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CURSES

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 t he terrible
power of the dementors: to force their victims 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 be -
hind 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 matter. 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 y ourself in a situation 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 arm -
ing. But most of all, you need to practice constant, never -ceasi ng
vigilance . Get out your quills . . . copy this down. . . . ”
They spent the rest of the lesson taking notes on each of the Un -
forgivable Curses. No one spoke until the bell rang — but when
 217 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Moody had dismissed them and they had left the classroom, a tor - rent
of talk burst forth. Most people were discussing the curses in awed
voices — “Did you see it twitch? ” “— and when he killed it — just 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 c urtly, pointing 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 demonstrated the Cruciatus Curse. “Neville? ”
Hermion e 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 starv - ing,
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 Profe ssor Moody limping toward them. All four of them fell silent,
watching him apprehensively, but when he spoke, it was in a much
lower and gentler growl than they had yet heard.
 218 ‘

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CURSES

“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 upo n Harry.
“You all right, are you, Potter? ”
“Yes, ” said Harry, almost defiantly.
Moody ’s blue eye quivered slightly in its socket as it surveyed Harry.
Then he said, “You ’ve got to know. It seems harsh, maybe,
but you ’ve got to know. No point pretending . . . well . . . come on,
Longbottom, 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 aw ay, 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 until they reached the Great Hall, when he said he
supposed they had better make a start on Professor Trelawney ’s
predictions tonight, since they would take hours.
Hermione did not join in with Harry and Ron ’s conversation during
dinner, but ate furiously fast, and then left for the library
 219 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

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 trouble with the Min - istry if they knew we ’d seen
the curses? ” Harry asked as they ap - proached the Fat Lady.
“Yeah, probably, ” said Ron. “But Dumbledore ’s always done things
his way, hasn ’t he, and Moody ’s been getting in trouble for years, I
reckon. Attacks first and asks questions later — look at his dustbins.
Balderdash. ”
The Fat Lady swung forward to reveal the entrance 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.
“Apparently, Professor Sprout told Professor Moody I ’m really good
at Herbology, ” Neville said. There was a faint n ote 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 tactful way of cheering Neville up, for Neville very
 220 ‘

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UNFORGIVABLE
CURSES

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 the Future back
down to the common room, found a table, and set to work on their
predictions for the coming month. An hour later, they had made very
little progress, though their table was littered 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 times
he had run his fingers through it in frustration, “I think it ’s back to the
old Divination standby. ”
“What — make it up? ”
“Yeah, ” said Ron, sweeping the jumble 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 conjunction of Mars and Jupiter. ” He looked up at Harry.
“You know her — just put in loads of mis - ery, she ’ll lap it up. ”
“Right, ” said Harry, crumpling up his first attempt and lobbing it over
the heads of a group of chattering first years into the fire.
“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 treasured possession, ” said Harry, who was flicking
through Unfogging the Future for ideas.
“Good one, ” said Ron, copying it down. “Because of . . .
 221 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

erm . . . Mercury. Why don ’t you get stabbed in the back by some - one
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 continued to make up predictions (which grew steadily more
tragic) for another hour, while the common room around them slowly
emptied as people went up to bed. Crookshanks wan - dered over to
them, leapt lightly into an empty chair, and stared in - scrutably at Harry,
rather as Hermione might look if she knew they weren ’t doing their
homework properly.
Staring around the room, trying to think of a kind of misfortune he
hadn ’t yet used, Harry saw Fred and George sitting together against the
opposite wall, heads together, quills out, poring over a sing le piece of
parchment. It was most unusual to see Fred and George hidden away
in a corner and working silently; they usually liked to be in the thick of
things and the noisy center of attention. There was something
secretive about the way they were working on the piece of parchment,
and Harry was reminded of how they had sat together writing
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 time; if it had been, they would surely have let Lee Jordan
in on the joke. 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 vo ice that never -
 222 ‘

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UNFORGIVABLE
CURSES

theless 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 predictions — he didn ’t want George to
think he was eavesdropping. Shortly 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 por - trait hole opened and
Hermione climbed into the common room carrying a sheaf of
parchment in one hand and a box whose con - tents rattled 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 sar -
donically 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 prediction s. “I’d better 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 outrage. “We ’ve been work - ing
like house -elves here! ”
Hermi one raised her eyebrows.
“It’s just an expression, ” said Ron hastily.
Harry laid down his quill too, having just finished predicting his own
death by decapitation.
 223 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“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 impatiently. “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 just
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 Cam - paign
for a Change in Their Legal Status — but it wouldn ’t fit. So that ’s the
heading of our manifesto. ”
She brandished th e sheaf of parchment at them. “I’ve been researching
it thoroughly in the library. Elf enslave - ment 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
 224 ‘

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UNFORGIVABLE
CURSES

loudly than Ron, and acting as though she hadn ’t heard a word, “are to
secure hous e-elves fair wages and working conditions. Our long - term
aims include changing the law about non -wand use, and trying to get
an elf into the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical
Creatures, because they ’re shockingly underrepresented. ” “And how
do we do all this? ” Harry asked.
“We start by recruiting members, ” said Hermione happily. “I thought
two Sickles to join — that buys a badge — and the pro - ceeds can fund
our leaflet campaign. You ’re treasurer, Ron — I’ve got you a collecting
tin u pstairs — 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
dumbstruck, but by a soft tap, 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 flew 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, pointing at the grubby piece
of parchment tied to Hedwig ’s leg.
Harry hastily untied it and sat down to read, whereupon Hed - wig
fluttered onto his knee, hooting softly.
 225 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“What does it say? ” Hermione asked breathlessly. The letter 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 strange rumors that have reached me
here. If it hurts again, go straight to Dumbledore — they ’re
saying he ’s got Mad -Eye out of retirement, 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.


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 per - plexed.
“Harry — what ’s up? ”
For Harry had just hit himself in the forehead with his fist, jolt - 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, hooting indignantly. “Coming back,
because he thinks I ’m in trouble! 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 h ave to go up to the Owlery
if you want food. ”
 226 ‘

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CURSES

Hedwig gave him an extremely offended look and took off for the
open window, cuffing him around the head with her out - stretched
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 pajamas and got into his
four -poster, but he didn ’t feel re motely 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 just 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 time, 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 th at the absence of
Neville ’s usual snores meant that he was not the only one lying awake.












 227 ‘

C H A P T E R F I F T E E
N









BEAUXBATON
S AND
DURMSTRANG


arly next morning, Harry woke with a plan fully formed in his
E
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 comm on 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 just imagined my scar hurting, I was half asleep when I wrote
to you last time. There ’s no point coming back, everything ’s fine here.

Don ’t worry about me, my head feels
completely normal.


He then climbed out of the portrait hole, up through the silent castle
(held up only briefly by Peeves, who tried to overturn a large
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vase on him halfway along the fourth -floor corridor), finally arriv - ing
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 entirely covered in
straw, owl droppings, and the regurgitated skeletons of mice and voles.
Hundreds upon hundreds of owls of every breed imaginable were
nestled 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 spotted Hedwig nestled 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 evidently still furious about his lack of gratitude the previous night.
In the end, it was Harry suggesting she might be too tired, 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, stroking her back as he car - ried her on his arm to one of
the holes in the wall. “Before the de - mentors do. ”
She nipped his finger, perhaps rather harder than she would or -
dinarily have done, but hooted softly in a reassuring sort of way all the
same. Then she spread her wings and took off into the sunrise. Harry
watched her fly ou t of sight with the familiar feeling of un - ease 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 hurting and you know it. ”
 229 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

“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 cou - ple of
weeks. True, he could not stop himself from looking anx - iously
around every morning when the post owls arrived, nor, late at night
before he went to sleep, prevent himself from seeing horri - ble visions
of Sirius, cornered by dementors down some dark Lon - don street, but
betweentimes he tried to keep his mind of f his godfather. He wished
he still had Quidditch to distract him; noth - ing worked so well on a
troubled mind as a good, hard training ses - sion. On the other hand,
their lessons were becoming more difficult and demanding than ever
before, particularly M oody ’s Defense Against the Dark Arts.
To their surprise, Professor Moody had announced that he would be
putting the Imperius Curse on each of them in turn, to demonstrate its
power and to see whether they could resist its ef - fects.
“But — but you sai d it ’s illegal, Professor, ” said Hermione un -
certainly 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 i t 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 putting it on you so they can control you completely — fine
by me. You ’re excused. Off y ou go. ”
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He pointed one gnarled finger toward the door. Hermione went very
pink and muttered 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 im - portant 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 extraordinary things under its influence. Dean Thomas hopped
three times around the room, singing the national anthem. Lavender
Brown imitated a squirrel. Neville per - formed a series of quite
astonishing gymnastics he would certainly not hav e 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, “ Imperio !”
It was the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a floating sensation as
every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving
nothing but a vague, untraceable 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.
 231 ‘

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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 jumping — 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 re -
membered exactly what was happening, and the pain in his knees
seemed to double.
“Look at that, you lot . . . Potter fought ! He fought it, and he damn
near beat it! We ’ll try that again, Potter, and the rest of you, pay
attention — watch his eyes, that ’s where you see it — very good,
Potter, very good indeed! They ’ll have trouble controlling
you !”

“The way he talks, ” Harry muttered as he hobbled out of the De - fense
Against the Dark Arts class an hour later (Moody had insisted on
putting Harry through his paces four times in a row, until Harry could
throw off the curse entirely), “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 difficulty with the curse than Harry, though
Moody assured him the effects would wear off by lunch - time. “Talk
about paranoid . . . ” Ron glanced nervously over his
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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 Min - istry.
Di d 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 resisting the Imperius Curse with every - thing
else we ’ve got to do? ”
All the fourth years had noticed a def inite increase in the amount of
work they were required to do this term. Professor McGonagall
explained why, when the class gave a particularly loud groan at the
amount of Transfiguration 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 draw - ing
closer — ”
“We don ’t take O.W.L.s till fifth year! ” said Dean Thomas indignantly.
“Maybe not, Thomas , but believe me, you need all the prepara - tion
you can get! Miss Granger remains the only person in this class who
has managed to turn a hedgehog into a satisfactory pincush -
ion. I might remind you that your pincushion, Thomas, still curls
up in fright if anyone approaches it with a pin! ”
Hermione, who had turned rather pink again, seemed to be try - ing
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 Divination class. She read out large portions of their pre - dictions,
commending them for their unflinching acceptance of
 233 ‘

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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 writing weekly essays on the goblin rebellions of the
eighteenth century. Professor Snape was forcing them to re - search
antidotes. They took this one seriously, as he had hinted that he might
be poisoning one of them before Christmas to see if their antidote
worked. Professor Flitwic k had asked them to read three extra 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 w as delighted, and as part of their “project, ” suggested that
they come down to his hut on alter - nate evenings to observe the
skrewts and make notes on their ex - traordinary behavior.
“I will not, ” said Draco Malfoy flatly when Hagrid had proposed this
with the air of Father Christmas pulling an extra -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 outta
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 retorting. Harry, Ron, and Hermion e returned
to the castle at the end of the lesson in high spirits; seeing Hagrid put
down Malfoy was particularly satisfying,
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especially because Malfoy had done his very best to get Hagrid sacked
the previous year.
When they arrived in the entrance hall, they found themselves unable
to proceed owing to the large crowd of students congre - gated 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 tiptoe 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 Potions 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 Hufflepuff, emerg - ing
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. ”
 235 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

“That idiot, Hogwarts champion? ” said Ron as they pushed their way
through the chattering crowd toward the staircase. “He ’s not an idiot.
You just 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 just 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 entrance hall had a marked ef - fect
upon the inhabitants of the castle. During the following week, there
seemed to be only one topic of conversation, no matter where Harry
went: the Triwizard Tournament. Rumors were flying from student to
student like highly contagious germs: who was going to try for
Hogwarts champion, what the tournament would involve, how the
students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang differed from
themselves.
Harry noticed too that the castle seemed to be undergoing an
extra -thorough cleaning. Several grimy portraits had been scrubbed,
much to the displeasure of their subjects, who s at hud - dled in their
frames muttering 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 be - having 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.
“Longbottom, kindly do not reveal that you can ’t even perform a
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AND DURMSTRANG

simple Switching Spell in front of anyone from Durmstrang! ” Pro -
fessor McGonagall barked at the end of one particularly 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 thir - tieth of
October, they found that the Great Hall had been deco - rated
overnight. Enormous silk banners hung from the walls, each of them
representing a Hogwarts House: red with a gold lion for Gr yffindor,
blue with a bronze eagle for Ravenclaw, yellow with a black badger for
Hufflepuff, 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 sitting
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 letter after all.
Or we ’ll stuff it into his hand. He can ’t avoid us forever. ”
“Who ’s avoiding you? ” said Ron, sitting down next to them. “Wish
you would, ” said Fred, looking irritated at the inter - ruption.
“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
 237 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

wasn ’t telling, ” said George bitterly. “She just told me to shut up and
get on with transfiguring my raccoon. ”
“Wonder what the tasks are going to be? ” said Ron thoughtfully. “You
know, I bet we could do them, Harry. We ’ve done dangerous stuff
before. . . . ”
“Not in front of a panel of judges, 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 participating schools are always on the panel, ”
said Hermione, and everyone looked around at her , rather surprised,
“because all three of them were injured during the Tour - nament of
1792, when a cockatrice the champions were supposed to be catching
went on the rampage. ”
She noticed them all looking at her and said, with her usual air of
impatienc e that nobody else had read all the books she had, “It’s
all in Hogwarts, A History. Though, of course, that book ’s not en-
tirely reliable. A Revised History of Hogwarts would be a more accu -
rate 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 Hogwarts, A History mention 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 determination to pursue justice for house -elves.
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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, first to
wear the badges, then to persuade others to do the same, and she had
also taken to rattling around the Gryffindor com mon room every
evening, cornering people and shaking the collecting tin un - der 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 e nslaved? ” she kept saying fiercely. Some
people, like Neville, had paid up just to stop Hermione from glowering
at them. A few seemed mildly interested in what she had to say, but
were reluctant to take a more active role in cam - paigning. Many
regarded th e whole thing as a joke.
Ron now rolled his eyes at the ceiling, which was flooding them all in
autumn sunlight, and Fred became extremely 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 curtly, “I hardly think stu - dents are
supposed to — ”
“Well, we have, ” said George, indicating Fred, “loads of times,
to nick food. And we ’ve met them, and they ’re happy. They think
they ’ve got the best job in the world — ”
“That ’s because they ’re uneducated and brainwashed! ” Hermi - one
began hotly, but her next few words were drowned out by the sudden
whooshing noise from overhead, which announced the
 239 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

arrival of the post owls. Harry looked up at once, and saw Hedwig
soaring toward him. Hermione stopped talking abruptly; she and Ron
watch ed Hedwig anxiously as she fluttered 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 Tri - wizard
Tournament, Harry read out Sirius ’s letter in a whisper to Ron and
Hermione.

Nice try, Harry.
I’m back in the country and well hidden. I want you to keep me posted on
everything that ’s going on at Hogwarts. Don ’t use Hedwig, keep changing owls,
and don ’t worry about me, just
watch out for yourself. Don ’t forget what I said about your scar.


“Why d ’you have to keep changing owls? ” Ron asked in a low voice.
“Hedwig ’ll attract too much attention, ” 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 letter and slippe d it inside his robes, won - dering
whether he felt more or less worried than before. He sup - posed 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 lea st he wouldn ’t have to wait so long for a response
every time he wrote.
“Thanks, Hedwig, ” he said, stroking her. She hooted sleepily,
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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 anticipation in the air that day. Nobody was very
attentive in lessons, being much more int erested 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,
straighten your hat, ” Professor McGonagall snapped at Ron. “Miss
Patil, take that ridiculous thing out of your hair. ” Parvati scowled and
removed a large ornamental butterfly from the end of her plait.
“Follow me, please, ” said Professor McGonagall. “First years in
front . . . no pushing. . . . ”
They filed down t he steps and lined up in front of the castle. It was a
cold, clear evening; dusk was falling and a pale, transparent - looking
moon was already shining over the Forbidden Forest. Harry, standing
between Ron and Hermione in the fourth row from the front, saw
Dennis Creevey positively shivering with an - ticipation 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.
 241 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

“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 still, silent, and quite as usual. Harry was
starting to feel cold. He wished they ’d hurry up. . . . Maybe the for - eign
students were preparing a dramatic entrance. . . . He remem - bered
what Mr. Weasley had said back at the cam psite before the Quidditch
World Cup: “always the same — we can ’t resist showing off 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 dele gation 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 broomstick — or, indeed, a
hundred broomsticks — was hurtling across the deep blue sky to -
ward the castle, 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 gigantic black shape skimmed over the
treetops of the Forbidden Forest and the lights shining from the castle
windows hit it, they saw a gigantic, powder - blue, horse -drawn carriage,
the size of a large house, soa ring toward
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them, pulled through the air by a dozen winged horses, all palomi - nos,
and each the size of an elephant.
The front three rows of students drew backward as the carriage hurtled
ever lower, coming in to land at a tremendous speed — then, with an
almighty crash that made Neville jump backward onto a Slytherin fifth
year ’s foot, the horses ’ hooves, larger than dinner plates, hit the ground.
A second later, the carriage lande d too, bouncing upon its vast wheels,
while the golden horses tossed their enormous heads and rolled large,
fiery red eyes.
Harry just had time 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 jumped down from the carriage, bent forward,
fumbled for a moment with something on the carriage floor, 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 im - mediately explained. A few
peopl e 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 waiting, wide -eyed crowd) seemed even more
unnaturally large. As she stepped into the light flooding from the
entrance hall, she was revealed to have a hand - some, olive -skinned
face; large, black, liquid -looking eyes; and a rather beaky nose. Her hair
was drawn back in a shining knob at
 243 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

the base of her neck. She was dressed from head to foot in black satin,
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 bet - ter to look
at this woman.
Her face relax ed 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 -dorr, ” 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 enor - mous hands carelessly
behind her.
Harry, whose attention had been focused complet ely upon Madame
Maxime, now noticed 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 r obes 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 in - side and warm up a
trifle? ”
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“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 Mag - ical
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 Dum -
bledore, smiling.
“Very well, ” said Madame Maxime, bowing slightly. “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 Durmstrang ’s horses are going to be? ” Seamus
Finnigan said, leaning around Lavender and Parvati to ad - dress Harry
and Ron.
“Well, if they ’re any bigger than this lot, even Hagrid won ’t be able to
handle t hem, ” said Harry. “That ’s if he hasn ’t been attacked 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 sto od, shivering slightly now, waiting for the Durmstrang party
to arrive. Most people were gazing hopefully up at the sky.
 245 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

For a few minutes, the silence was broken only by Madame Maxime ’s
huge horses snorting and stamping. But then —
“Can you hear something? ” said Ron suddenly.
Harry listened; a loud and oddly eerie noise was drifting 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 bub - bles 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, magnificently, the ship rose out of the water, gleaming in the
moonlight. It had a strangely skeletal look about it, as though it were a
resurrected wreck, and the dim, misty lights shimmering at its
portholes looked like ghostly eyes. Finally, with a great slosh - ing 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 shal - lows, and the thud of a
plank being lowered onto the bank.
People were disembarking; they could see their silhouettes
 246 ‘

BEAUXBATONS
AND DURMSTRANG

passing the lights in the ship ’s portholes. All of them, Harry no - ticed,
seemed to be built along the lines of Crabbe and Goyle . . . but then, as
they drew nearer, walking up the lawns into the light streaming from
the entrance hall, he saw that their bulk was really due to the fact t hat
they were wearing cloaks of some kind of shaggy, matted fur. But the
man who was leading them up to the castle 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 y ou, 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 front doors of the castle they saw that he was tall and
thin like Dum bledore, 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 castle and smi l- ing;
his teeth were rather yellow, and Harry noticed 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. . . . ”
Karkaroff 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 recogni ze that profile.
“Harry — it’s Krum !”

 247 ‘

C H A P T E R S I X T E E
N









THE GOBLET OF
FIRE




don ’t believe it! ” Ron said, in a stunned voice, as the Hogwarts
I
students filed back up the steps behind the party from Durm -
strang. “Krum, Harry! Viktor Krum !”
“For heaven ’s sake, Ron, he ’s only a Quidditch player, ” said
Hermione.
 Only a Quidditch 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 entrance hall with the rest of the Hogwarts
students heading for the Great Hall, Harry saw Lee Jordan jump - ing
up and down on the soles of his feet to get a better look at the back of
Krum ’s head. Several sixth -year girls were frantically search - ing their
pockets as they walked —
“Oh I don ’t bel ieve it, I haven ’t got a single quill on me — ”
“D ’you think he ’d sign my hat in lipstick? ”
 248 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


“ Really, ” Hermione said loftily as they passed the girls, now
squabbling over the lipstick.
“ I’m getting 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 Durmstrang
students were still gathered around it, appar - ently unsure about where
they should sit. The students from Beaux - batons had chosen seats at
the Ravenclaw table. They were looking arou nd the Great Hall with
glum expressions on their faces. Three of them were still 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 Durmstrang students had settled
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 th e time. . . . 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. ”
 249 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Hermione snorted.
“They look a lot happier than the Beauxbatons lot, ” said Harry. The
Durmstrang 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 staff 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 extra people, ” Harry said. “Why ’s Filch putting
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 settled down at th eir House
tables, the staff entered, filing up to the top table and taking their seats.
Last in line were Professor Dumbledore, Profes - sor Karkaroff, and
Madame Maxime. When their headmistress ap - peared, 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 un - til 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 gentlemen, ghosts and — most partic -
ularly — guests, ” said Dumbledore, beaming around at the foreign
students. “I have great pleasure in welcoming you all to Hogwarts. I
hope and trust that your stay here will be b oth comfortable and
enjoyable. ”
 250 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


One of the Beauxbatons girls still clutching a muffler 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 definitely foreign.
“What ’s that ?” said Ron, pointing at a large dish of some sort of
shellfish stew that stood beside a large steak -and -kidney pudding.
“Bouillabaisse, ” said Herm ione.
“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 additional students there;
perhaps it was because their differently colored uniforms stood out so
clearly against the black of the Hogwarts ’ robes. Now that they had
removed their furs, the Durmstrang students we re re - vealed to be
wearing robes of a deep bloodred.
Hagrid sidled into the Hall through a door behind the staff table
 251 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

twenty minutes after the start of the feast. He slid into his seat at the
end and waved at Harry, Ron, and Hermione with a very heav - ily
bandaged hand.
“Skrewts doing all right, Hagrid? ” Harry called.
“Thrivin ’,” Hagrid called back happily.
“Yeah, I ’ll just bet they are, ” said Ron quietly. “Looks like they ’ve
finally foun d 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 from Beauxbatons who had laughed during Dum -
bledore ’s speech. She had finally removed her muffler. A long she et 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 re - ply, 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 thou gh 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 tartly. “I don ’t see anyone else
gaping at her like an idiot! ”
But she wasn ’t entirely 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
 252 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


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 think - ing.
Cho happened to be sitting only a few p laces 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 pointing up at the staff table. The two remaining empty seats
had just been filled. Ludo Bagman was now sitting on Profes - sor
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, di dn ’t they? ” said
Hermione. “I suppose they wanted to be here to see it start. ” When the
second course arrived they noticed a number of unfa - miliar desserts
too. Ron examined an odd sort of pale blancmange closely, then
moved it carefully a few inches to h is 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 ple asant sort of tension seemed to fill 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 — ”
 253 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“The what? ” Harry muttered.
Ron shrugged.
“— just to clarify the procedure that we will be following this year.
But first, let me introduce, for those who do not know them, Mr.
Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of International Magical
Cooperatio n” — there was a smattering of polite ap - plause — “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 be - cause
he looked so much more likable. He acknowledged it with a jovial
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 strange in wi zard ’s
robes. His toothbrush mustache and severe parting looked very odd
next to Dumbledore ’s long white hair and beard.
“Mr. Bagman and Mr. Crouch have worked tirelessly over the last few
months on the arrangements for the Triwizard Tourna - ment, ”
Dumb ledore continued, “and they will be joining myself, Professor
Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime on the panel that will judge the
champions ’ efforts. ”
At the mention of the word “champions, ” the attentiveness of the
listening students seemed to sharpen. Perha ps Dumbledore had
noticed their sudden stillness, for he smiled as he said, “The casket,
then, if you please, Mr. Filch. ”
Filch, who had been lurking unnoticed in a far corner of the Hall, now
approached Dumbledore carrying a great wooden chest encrusted with
jewels. It looked extremely old. A murmur of excited interest rose
from the watching students; Dennis Creevey
 254 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


actually stood on his chair to see it properly, but, being so tiny, his head
hardly rose above anyone else ’s.
“The instructions 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 m agical
prowess — their daring — their powers of deduc - tion — 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 comp ete in the tournament, ”
Dumbledore went on calmly, “one from each of the participating
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. T he champions will be cho - sen by
an impartial selector: the Goblet of Fire. ”
Dumbledore now took out his wand and tapped three times upon the
top of the casket. The lid creaked slowly open. Dumble - dore reached
inside it and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would
have been entirely 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

 255 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

night, Halloween, the goblet will return the names of the three it has
judged most worthy to represent their schools. The goblet will be
place d in the entrance hall tonight, where it will be freely acces - sible to
all those wishing to compete.
“To ensure that no underage student yields to temptation, ” 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 lightly. Once a cham - pio n
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
constitutes a binding, magical contract. There can be no change of
heart once you have become a champion. Pleas e 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 glinting, as they all made
their way acr oss the Hall to the doors into the entrance hall. “Well, that
should be fooled by an Aging Potion, 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 sevente en will stand a chance, ” said
Hermione, “we just haven ’t learned enough . . . ”
“Speak for yourself, ” said George shortly. “You ’ll try and get in, won ’t
you, Harry? ”
Harry thought briefly of Dumbledore ’s insistence that nobody under
seventeen should submi t their name, but then the wonder - ful picture
of himself winning the Triwizard Tournament filled his
 256 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


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
conversation, but looking through the crowd to see what had be - come
of Krum. “Dumbledore didn ’t say where the Durmstrang people are
sleeping, did he? ”
But this query was answered almost instantly; 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, I vood like some vine, ” said one of the other Durm -
strang boys hopefully .
“I wasn ’t offering it to you, Poliakoff, ” snapped Karkaroff, his
warmly paternal air vanishing in an instant. “I notice you have
dribbled food all down the front of your robes again, disgusting boy
— ”
Karkaroff 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 Durmstrang came to a halt too. Karkaroff ’s eyes moved
slowly up Harry ’s face and fixed upon his scar. The Durmstrang
stud ents were staring curiously at Harry too.
 257 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

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 unblink - ingly at the
Durmstrang headmaster.
The color drained from Karkaroff ’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 gr imly. “And unless you ’ve got anything to say to
Potter, Karkaroff, you might want to move. You ’re blocking the
doorway. ”
It was true; half the students in the Hall were now waiting be - hind
them, looking over one another ’s shoulders to see what was causin g
the holdup.
Without another word, Professor Karkaroff swept his students away
with him. Moody watched him until 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 entrance hall, they saw about twenty people
milling around it, some of them eating toast, all ex - amining the Goblet
of Fire. It had been placed in the center of the
 258 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


hall on the stool that normally bore the Sorting Hat. A thin golden line
had been traced 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 Durmstrang 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 look - ing
extremely excited.
“Done it, ” Fred said in a triumphant 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 — Hogwarts. Fred
 259 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

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 entrance hall upon him, he took a great breath and
stepped over the line.
For a split second Harry thought it had worked — George cer - tainly
thought so, for he let out a yell of triumph and leapt after 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 -putter. They landed painfully, ten feet away on the cold
stone floor, and to add insult to injury, there was a loud popping noise,
and both of them sprouted identical long white beards.
The entrance hall rang with laughter. Even Fred and George joined 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 Faw - cett, of
Ravenclaw, and Mr. Summers, of Hufflepuff, both of w hom decided
to age themselves up a little too. Though I must say, neither of their
beards is anything like as fine as yours. ”
Fred and George set off for the hospital wing, accompanied by Lee,
who was howling with laughter, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a lso
chortling, went in to breakfast.
The decorations in the Great Hall had changed this morning. As it was
Halloween, a cloud of live bats was fluttering around the enchanted
ceiling, while hundreds of carved pumpkins leered from
 260 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


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 Gryffindor 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, better you
than Pretty -Boy Diggory, ” said Seamus, caus - ing several Hufflepuffs
passing their tab le to scowl heavily at him.

 261 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“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, “just 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 just realized — I haven ’t asked Hagrid t o join 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 gath - ered around the
Goblet of Fire stood back to let them pass, watch - ing eagerly.
Madame Maxime entered the hall behind her students and or - ganized
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
muttered 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. “Ha ng around, I suppose. . . . Madame
Maxime ’s staying to judge, isn ’t she? ”
 262 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


When all the Beauxbatons students had submitted 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 rattling noise behind them announced Hermione ’s re -
appearance with t he box of S.P.E.W. badges.
“Oh good, hurry up, ” said Ron, and he jumped 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 For - est,
the mystery of the Beauxbatons ’ sleeping quarters was solved. The
gigantic powder -blue carriage in which they had arrived had been
parked two hundred yards from Hagrid ’s front door, and the students
were climb ing back inside it. The elephantine 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 an -
swered instantly
“’Bout time! ” said Hagrid, when he ’d flu ng 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 bro wn suit, plus a
checked yellow -and -orange tie. This wasn ’t the worst of it, though; he
had evidently tried to tame his hair, using large quantities of what
appeared to be axle grease. It was now slicked down into two bunches
— perhaps he had tried a ponyta il like
 263 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

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, ob -
viously deciding not to comment, she said, “Erm — where are the
skrewts? ”
“Out by the pumpkin patch, ” said Hagrid happily. “They ’re get - tin ’
massive, mus ’ be nearly three foot long now. On ’y trouble is, they ’ve
started killin ’ each other. ”
“Oh no, really? ” said Hermione, shooting a repressive look a t 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 sep - arate
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 gigantic
bed covered in a patchwork quilt. A similarly enor - mous wooden table
and chairs stood in front of the fire beneath the quantity of cured ha ms
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 Tour - nament. Hagrid seemed quite as
excited about it as they were. “You wait, ” he said, grinning. “You jus ’
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 just
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! ”
 264 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


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 appetites. However, they enjoyed themselves trying to make
Hagrid tell them what the tasks in the tournament were going to be,
speculating which of the entrants 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 sitting
by the fire, listening to the gentle patter of the drops on the window,
watching Hagrid darning his socks and arguing with Her - mione about
house -elves — for he flatly 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 l ike, see? Yeh ’d be
makin ’ ’em unhappy ter take away their work, an ’ insultin ’ ’em if yeh
tried ter pay ’em. ”
“But Harry set Dobby free, 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 time to get back up to the castle for the Halloween feast
— and, more important, the announcement of the school champions.
 265 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“I’ll come with yeh, ” said Hagrid, putting 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
attention until a truly horrible smell reached their nos - trils. Coughing,
Ron said, “Hagrid, what ’s that? ”
“Eh? ” said Hagrid, turning around with a large bottle in his hand.
“Don ’ yeh like it? ”
“Is that aftershave? ” said Hermione in a sligh tly 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, pointing out of the window. Hagrid had
just straightened up and turned ’round. If h e had been blushing before,
it was nothing to what he was doing now. Getting to their feet very
cautiously, 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 ju st emerged from their carriage,
clearly about to set off 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 l ooking at the baby dragon, Norbert.
 266 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


“He ’s going up to the castle with her! ” said Hermione indig - nantly. “I
thought he was waiting for us! ”
Without so much as a backward glance at his cabin, Hagrid was
trudging 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 clos ely
around themselves, they set off up the sloping lawns.
“Ooh it ’s them, look! ” Hermione whispered.
The Durmstrang party was walking up toward the castle from the lake.
Viktor Krum was walking side by side with Karkaroff, and the other
Durmstrang stud ents were straggling along behind them. Ron watched
Krum excitedly, but Krum did not look around as he reached the front
doors a little 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 disap - poi ntment
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.

 267 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Perhaps because it was their second feast in two days, Harry didn ’t
seem to fancy the extravagantly prepared food as much as he would
have normally. Like everyone else in the Hall, judging by the con -
stantly craning necks, the impa tient expressions on every face, the
fidgeting, and the standing up to see whether Dumbledore had fin -
ished eating 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 t heir original spotless 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 an yone. Ludo Bagman was beaming and
winking at various students. Mr. Crouch, how - ever, looked quite
uninterested, almost bored.
“Well, the goblet is almost ready to make its decision, ” said Dum -
bledore. “I estimate 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 ta ble —
“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
extinguished, plunging them into a state of semidarkness. The Goblet
of Fire now shone more brightly than anything in the whole Hall, the
sparkling bright, bluey -whiteness of the flames al - most painful on the
eyes. Everyone watched, waiting. . . . A few people kept checking their
watches. . . .
“Any second, ” Lee Jordan whispered, two seats away from Harry.
 268 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


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 Durmstrang, ” he read, in a strong, 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 chatting died down. Now everyone ’s attention 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.
 269 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“Disappointed ” was a bit of an understatement, Harry thought. Two
of the girls who had not been selected had dis solved 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 time it was a silence so stiff with excite - ment 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 tip Dumbledore pulled the
third piece of parchment.
“The Hog warts 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 jumped to his or
her feet, screaming and stamping, as Cedric made his way p ast 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 time 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 Durmstrang, 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 appar - ent to
everybody what had distracted him.
The fire in the goblet had just turned red again. Sparks were fly - ing 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
 270 ‘

THE GOBLET OF
FIRE


and seized the parchment. He held it out and stared at the name
written upon it. There was a long pause, during which Dumble - dore
stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone in the room stared at
Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat and re ad out

“ Harry Potter. ”

 271 ‘

C H A P T E R S E V E N T
E E N









THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS




arry sat there, aware that every head in the Great Hall had
H
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
starting to fill the Hall; some students were standing up to get a better
look at Harry as he sat, frozen, in his seat.
Up at the top table, Professor McGonagall had got to her feet and

swep t past Ludo Bagman and Professor Karkaroff to whisper urgently
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.
 272 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


At the top table, Professor Dumbledore had straightened 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, trod on the hem of his robes, and stumbled slightly. He set off up
the gap between the Gryffindor and Huffle - puff 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 l ouder 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 Hal l and found himself in a smaller room, lined with paintings of
witches and wizards. A handsome fire was roaring in the fireplace
opposite him.
The faces in the portraits turned to look at him as he entered. He saw a
wizened witch flit out of the frame o f her picture and into the one next
to it, which contained a wizard with a walrus mus - tache. The wizened
witch started whispering in his ear.
Viktor Krum, Cedric Diggory, and Fleur Delacour were grouped
around the fire. They looked strangely impressive , silhouetted against
the flames. Krum, hunched -up and brooding, was leaning

 273 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


against the mantelpiece, slightly 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 mess age. Harry didn ’t know how to explain
what had just happened. He just 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 Bag - man
entered the room. He took Ha rry by the arm and led him forward.
“Extraordinary! ” he muttered, squeezing Harry ’s arm. “Absolutely
extraordinary! Gentlemen . . . lady, ” he added, approaching the fire -
side and addressing the other three. “May I introduce — incredible
though it may seem — the fourth Triwizard champion? ”
Viktor Krum straightened up. His surly face darkened as he sur - veyed
Harry. Cedric looked nonplussed. He looked from 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 just came out of the
Goblet of Fire! ”
Krum ’s thick eyebrows contracted slightly. Cedric was still look - ing
politely bewildered. Fleur frowned.
“But evidently zair ’as been a mistake, ” she said contemptuously to
Bagman. “’E cannot compete. ’E is too young. ”
“Well . . . it is amazing, ” said Bagman, rubbing hi s smooth chin and
smiling down at Harry. “But, as you know, the age restriction
 274 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


was only imposed this year as an extra 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 peo - ple
came in: Professor Dumbledore, followed closely by Mr. Crouch,
Professor Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Professor McGo - nagall, and
Professor Snape. Harry heard the buzzing of the hun - dreds of
students on the other side of the wall, before Professor McGonaga ll
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 consid - erable,
height. The top of her handsome head brushed the candle - filled
chandelier, and her gigantic 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 Profes - sor Karkaroff. He was
wearing a steely smile, and his blue eyes were
like chips of ice. “Two Hogwarts champions? I don ’t remember any -
one 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 resting 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

 275 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


smile still in place, though his eyes were colder than ever. “Other - wise,
we would, of course, have brought along a wider selection of
candidates from our own schools. ”
“It’s no one ’s fault but Potter ’s, Karkaroff, ” said Snape softly. His
black eyes were alight with malice. “Don ’t go blaming Dumbledore for
Potter ’s determination 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 t he 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? ” sa id 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 McGo -
nagall 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 perfectly well you did not make a

 2 76 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


mistake! ” said Professor McGonagall angrily. “Really, what non - sense!
Harry could not have crossed the line himself, and as Profes - sor
Dumbledore believes that he did not persuade an older student to do it
for him, I ’m sure that should be good enough for every - body else! ”
She shot a very angry look at Professor Snape.
“Mr. Crouch . . . Mr. Bagman, ” said Karkaroff, his voice unct u- ous
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
firelight, his face half hidden in shadow. He looked slightly eerie, the
half darkness making him look much older, giving him an al - most
skull -like appearance. When he spoke, however, it was in his usual curt
voice.
“We must follow the rules, and the rules state clearly tha t 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 resubmitting the names of the rest of my stu - dents, ”
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 continue adding na mes 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 — ”
 277 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


“— in which Durmstrang will most certainly not be compet - ing! ”
exploded Karkaroff. “After all our meetings and negotiations and
compromises, I little expected something of this nature to occur! I
have ha lf 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 ju st 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 trying to sound disdainful, as though what
Moody was saying was barely worth his notice, but his hands gave him
away; they had balled themselves into fists.
“Don ’t you? ” said Moody quietly. “It’s very simple, Karkaroff.
Someone put Potter ’s name in that goblet knowing he ’d have to
compete if it c ame out. ”
“Evidently, someone ’oo wished to give ’Ogwarts two bites at ze
apple! ” said Madame Maxime.
“I quite agree, Madame Maxime, ” said Karkaroff, bowing to her.
“I shall be lodging complaints with the Ministry of Magic and the
International Confederation of Wizards — ”
“If anyone ’s got reason to complain, it ’s Potter, ” 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!

 278 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


A thousand Galleons in prize money — zis is a chance many would die
for! ”
“Maybe someone ’s hoping Potter is going to die for it, ” said
Moody, with the merest trace of a growl.
An extremely 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 lunchtime, ” said
Karkaroff loudly. “Apparently he is now teaching his students to fear
assassination 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
skill ed witch or wizard who put the boy ’s name in that goblet. . . . ”
“Ah, what evidence is zere of zat? ” said Madame Maxime, throw - ing
up her huge hands.
“Because they hoodwinked a very powerful magical object! ” said
Moody. “It would have needed an except ionally strong Confundus
Charm to bamboozle that goblet into forgetting that only three schools
compete in the tournament. . . . I ’m guessing they submit - ted 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
 279 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


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 advan - tage, ” 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 first name. Moody fell silent, though still surveying
Karkaroff with satisfaction — Karkaroff ’s face was burning.
“How this situation arose, we do not know, ” said Dumbledore,
speaking to everyone gathered in the roo m. “It seems to me, how - ever,
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 alternative, 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 ra ther excited.
“Well, shall we crack on, then? ” he said, rubbing his hands to - gether
and smiling around the room. “Got to give our champions their
instructions, 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,
 280 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


papery look about his wrinkled skin that had not been there at the
Quidditch World Cup.
“The first 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 permitted to ask for or accept help of any
kind from their teachers to complete the tasks in the tourna - ment. The
champions will face the first challenge armed only with their wands.
They will receive information about the second tas k when the first is
over. Owing to the demanding and time -consum - ing 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 Dumbled ore, who was looking at Mr. Crouch with
mild concern. “Are you sure you wouldn ’t like to stay at Hog - warts
tonight, Barty? ”
“No, Dumbledore, I must get back to the Ministry, ” said Mr. Crouch.
“It is a very busy, very difficult time at the moment. . . . I ’ve left young
Weatherby in charge. . . . Very enthusiastic . . . a lit - tle overenthusiastic,
if truth be told. . . . ”
“You ’ll come and have a drink before you go, at least? ” said
Dumbledore.
“Come on, Barty, I ’m staying! ” said Bagman brightly. “It’s al l
happening at Hogwarts now, you know, much more exciting here
than at the office! ”
 281 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


“I think not, Ludo, ” said Crouch with a touch of his old impa - tience.
“Professor Karkaroff — Madame Maxime — a nightcap? ” said
Dumbledore.
But Madame Maxime had already put her arm around Fleur ’s
shoulders and was leading her swiftly out of the room. Harry could
hear them both talking very fast in French as they went off into the
Great Hall. Karkaroff beckone d 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, flickeri ng 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 rans acked.
“So . . . tell me . . . ” said Cedric as they reached the entrance hall, which
was now lit only by torches in the absence of the Gob -
let 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. ”
 282 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


“Ah . . . okay, ” said Cedric. Harry could tell Cedric didn ’t be - lieve 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 danger - ous, but which were to be
performed in front of hundreds of peo - ple? Yes, he ’d thought about
it . . . he ’d fantasized about it . . . but it had been a joke, really, an idle
sort of dream . . . he ’d neve r 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 fo ol of himself? Well, they were likely to get their
wish. . . .
But to get him killed ?
Was Moody just being his usual paranoid self? Couldn ’t some - one
have put Harry ’s name in the goblet as a trick, a practical joke? 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
 283 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


supposed to be far away, in some distant country, in hiding, alone . . .
feeble and powerless. . . .
Yet in that dream he had had, just before he had awoken with his scar
hurting, Voldemort had n ot been alone . . . he had been talk - ing to
Wormtail . . . plotting Harry ’s murder. . . .
Harry got a shock to find himself facing the Fat Lady already. He had
barely noticed 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
flitted into her neighbor ’s painting when he had joined the champions
downstairs was now sitting smugly beside the Fat Lady. She must have
dashed through every picture lining se ven 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 just told me every - thing.
Who ’s just been chosen as school champion, then? ” “Balderdas h,”
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 portrait 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.
 284 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


“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 Gryffind or 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 noticed that he wasn ’t at
all in the mood to celebrate. . . . Lee Jordan had unearthed a Gryffindor
banner from somewhere, and he insisted on draping it around Harry
like a cloak. Harry couldn ’t get away; whenever he tried to s idle over to
the staircase up to the dormitories, the crowd around him closed ranks,
forcing another butterbeer on him, stuffing crisps and peanuts into his
hands. . . . Everyone wanted to know how he had done it, how he had
tricked Dumbledore ’s Age Line a nd 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 notice anyone took, he might just as well not have
answered at all.
“I’m tired! ” he bellowed finally, after nearly half an hour. “No,
seriously, George — I’m going to bed — ”
He wanted more than anything to find Ron and Hermione, to find a
bit of sanity, but neither of them seemed to be in the com - mon room.
Insisting that he needed to sleep, and almost flattening the little
Creevey brothers as they attempted to waylay him at the
 285 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


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, strained sort of grin. Harry
suddenly became aware that he was still wearing the scarlet Gryffindor
banner that Lee had tied around him. He hastened to take it off, but it
was knotted very tightly. Ron lay on the bed with - out 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, congratulations? ” 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? ”
 286 ‘

THE FOUR
CHAMPIONS


“I dunno, ” said Harry. He felt it would sound very melodra - matic to
say, “To kill me. ”
Ron ’s eyebrows rose so high that they were in danger of disap - pearing
into his hair.
“It’s okay, you know, you can tell me the truth, ” 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 trouble for it, did you? That friend
of the Fat Lady ’s, that Violet, she ’s already told us all Dum - bledore ’s
letting 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 exactly the same sceptical 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 trace of a grin, forced or oth - erwise, 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 cur - tains, now hiding one of the few
people he had been sure would be - lieve him.






 287 ‘

C H A P T E R E I G H T E
E N









THE
WEIGHING OF
THE WANDS


hen Harry woke up on Sunday morning, it took him a
W

moment to re member why he felt so miserable and wor -
ried. Then the memory of the previous night rolled over him. He sat

up and ripped back the curtains of his own four -poster, intend - ing 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 com - mon room. The
moment he appeared, the people who had already finished breakfast
broke into applause again. The pr ospect of going down into the Great
Hall and facing the rest of the Gryffindors, all treating him like some
sort of hero, was not inviting; it was that, however, or stay here and
allow himself to be cornered by the Creevey brothers, who were both
beckoning frantically to him to join them. He walked resolutely over to
the portrait hole, pushed it open, climbed out of it, and found himself
face -to -face with Hermione.
 288 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

“Hello, ” she said, holding up a stack of toast, which she was car - rying
in a napkin. “I brought you this. . . . Want to go for a walk? ” “Good
idea, ” said Harry gratefully.
They went downstairs, crossed the entrance hall quickly without
looking in at the Great Ha ll, and were soon striding across the lawn
toward the lake, where the Durmstrang ship was moored, reflected
blackly in the water. It was a chilly morning, and they kept moving,
munching their toast, as Harry told Hermione exactly 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 question 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? ” “Loo k,”
said Hermione patiently, “it’s always you who gets all the attention, you
know it is. I know it ’s not your fault, ” she added
 289 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

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 i t, but I suppose this is
just one time too many. . . . ”
“Great, ” said Harry bitterly. “Really great. Tell him from me I ’ll swap
any time he wants. Tell him from me he ’s welcome to it. . . . People
gawping at my forehead everywhere I go. . . . ”
“I’m not telling him anything, ” Hermione said shortly. “Tell him
yourself. It ’s the only way to sort this out. ”
“I’m not running around after him trying to make him grow up! ” Harry
said, so loudly that several owls in a nearby tree took flight in alarm.
“May be he ’ll believe I ’m not enjoying myself once I ’ve got my neck
broken or — ”
“That ’s not funny, ” said Hermione quietly. “That ’s not funny at all. ”
She looked extremely anxious. “Harry, I ’ve been thinking — you know
what we ’ve got to do, don ’t you? Straight away, the mo - ment we get
back to the castle? ”
“Yeah, give Ron a good kick up the — ”
“ Write to 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 coun try just because my scar twinged. He ’ll prob - ably come
bursting right into the castle if I tell him someone ’s en - tered me in the
Triwizard Tournament — ”
 290 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

“ He ’d want you to tell 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 P rophet about
you competing. . . . 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 floating 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 climbe d 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 Hermi one gave Harry a piece of
parchment, a quill, and a bottle of ink, then strolled 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 told me to keep you posted on what ’s happening at Hog -
warts, so here goes — I don ’t know if you ’ve heard, but the Tri -
wizard Tournament ’s happening this year and on Saturday
night I got picked as a fourth champion. I don ’t know who put my
 29 1 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

name in the Goblet of Fire, because I didn ’t. The other Hog -
warts champion is Cedric Diggory, from Hufflepuff.

He paused at this point, thinking. He had an urge to say some - thing
about the large weight of anxiety that seemed to have settled inside his
chest since last night, but he couldn ’t think how to trans - late this into
words, so he simply dipped his quill back into the ink bottle and wrote,

Hope you ’re okay, and B uckbeak —

“Finished, ” he told Hermione, getting to his feet and brushing straw
off his robes. At this, Hedwig came fluttering 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 off so suddenly that her talons
cut into his shoulder. She kept her back to Harry all the time he was
tying his letter to the leg of a large barn owl. When the barn owl had
flown off , Harry reached out to stroke Hedwig, but she clicked her
beak furiously and soared up into the rafters out of reach.
“First Ron, then you, ” said Harry 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, just like the Gryffindors, thought Har ry
 292 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

had entered himself for the tournament. Unlike the Gryffindors,
however, they did not seem impressed.
The Hufflepuffs, who were usually on excellent terms with the
Gryffindors, had turned remarkably cold toward the whole lot of them.
One Herbology lesson was enough to demonstrate 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 Justin Finch - Fletchley, with whom Harry normally got
on very well, did not talk to him even though they were repotting
Bouncing Bulbs at the same tray — though they did laugh rather
unpleasantly 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 s at between them, making very forced
conversation, but though both answered her normally, they avoided
making eye con - tact with each other. Harry thought even Professor
Sprout seemed distant with him — but then, she was Head of
Hufflepuff House. He would h ave 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 ca bin 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?
Better get a signature now, because I doubt he ’s going to be around
much longer. . . . Half the Triwizard champions have
 293 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

died . . . how long d ’you reckon you ’re going to last, Potter? Ten
minutes into the first task ’s my bet. ”
Crabbe and Goyle guffawed sycophantically, but Malfoy had to stop
there, because Hagrid emerged from 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 ex - plain that the
reason the skrewts had been killing one another was an excess of
pent -up energy, and that the solution 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 distr acted Malfoy completely.
“Take this thing for a walk? ” he repeated in disgust, staring into one of
the boxes. “And where exactly are we supposed to fix the leash?
Around the sting, the blasting end, or the sucker? ”
“Roun ’ the middle, ” said Hagrid, demo nstrating. “Er — yeh might
want ter put on yer dragon -hide gloves, jus ’ as an extra pre - caution,
like. Harry — you come here an ’ help me with this big one. . . . ”
Hagrid ’s real intention, however, was to talk to Harry away from the
rest of the class. He waited until everyone else had set off with their
skrewts, then turned to Harry and said, very seriously, “So — yer
competin ’, 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
difficulty the rush of gratitude he felt at Hagrid ’s words.
 294 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

“’Course I do, ” Hagrid grunted. “Yeh say it wasn ’ you, an ’ I be - lieve
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 extremely 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 still without recognizable heads or eyes. They had be - come
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 class - mates
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. “Schoo l cham - pion . . .
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 sus - pected him of
attacking his fellow students. But Ron had been on
 295 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

his side then. He thought he could have coped with the rest of the
school ’s behavior if he could just have had Ron back as a friend, but he
wasn ’t going to try 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 ’ attitude, 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 Q uidditch 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 trick - ing the goblet into
accepting his name.
Then there was the fact that Cedric looked the part of a cham - pion so
much more than he did. Exceptionally handsome, with his straight
nose, dark hair, and gray eyes, it was hard to say who was rece iving
more admiration 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 wa s refusing to
come anywhere near him, Professor Trelawney was predicting 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
extra homework — the only person to get any, apa rt from Neville.
“It’s really not that difficult, Harry, ” Hermione tried to reassure him as
they left Flitwick ’s class — she had been making objects
 296 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

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 particularly large Blast - Ended
Skrewt. “Still — never mind, eh? Double Potions to look forward to
this afternoon. . . . ”
Double Potions was always a horrib le 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 be - come school
champion, was about the most unpleasant thing Harry could imagine.
He had already struggled through one Fri - day ’s worth, with Hermione
sitting next to him intoning “ignore them, ignore them, ignore them ”
under her breath, and he could - n’t see why today should be any better .
When he and Hermione arrived at Snape ’s dungeon after lunch, they
found the Slytherins waiting 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:





“Like them, Potter? ” said Malfoy loudly as Harry approached. “And
this isn ’t all they do — look! ”
 297 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

He pressed his badge into his chest, and the message upon it
vanished, to be replaced by another one, which glowed green: The
Slytherins howled with laughter. Each of them pressed
their badges too, until the message POTTER STINKS was shin -
ing brightly all around Harry. He felt the heat rise in his face and neck.
“Oh very funny, ” Hermione said sarcastically 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 just 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 reach ed 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 ex - actly
the same time, both acted.
“ Furnunculus !” Harry yelled.

 298 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

“ 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 Mal - foy ’s
hit Hermione. Goyle bellowed and put his hands to his nose, where
great ugly boils w ere springing up — Hermione, whimper - ing 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 pretty 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 bottom lip,
toward her chin — panic -stricken, she felt them and let out a terrified
cry.
“An d what is all this noise about? ” said a soft, deadly voice. Snape had
arrived. The Slytherins clamored to give their expla - nations; Snape
pointed a long yellow finger at Malfoy and said, “Explain. ”
“Potter attacked me, sir — ”
“We attacked each other a t 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 difficult as they had
now grown down past her collar. Pansy Parkinson and the
 299 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

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 shouting at
Snape at the same time; lucky their voices echoed so much in the stone
corridor, for in the confused din, it was impossible for him to hear
exactly what they were calling him. He got the gist, however. “Let ’s
see, ” he said, in his silkiest voice. “Fifty points from Gryffindor and a
detention each for Pott er and Weasley. Now get inside, or it ’ll be a
week ’s worth of detentions. ”
Harry ’s ears were ringing. The injustice 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. . . .
“Antidotes! ” said Snape, looking around at them all, his cold black
eyes glittering unpleasantly. “You should all have prepared
 300 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

your recipes now. I want you to brew them carefully, and then, we will
be selecting 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 sprinting 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 Potter upstairs. ” Snape stared
down his hooked nose at Colin, whose smile faded from his eager face.
“Potter has another hour of Potions 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 photo - graphs. . . . ”
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.
“Ve ry well, very well, ” Snape snapped. “Potter, 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 Colin. “All the
champions — ”
“Very well !” said Snape. “Potter — take your bag and get out of
my sight! ”
 301 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Harry swung his bag over his shoulder, got up, and headed for
the door. As he walked through the Slytherin desks, POTTER
STINKS flashed at him from every direction.
“It’s amazing, isn ’t it, Harry? ” said Colin, starting 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 pub - licity. ”
“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
sitting 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 Fleur were in conversation. Fleur 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 t he light. A
paunchy man, holding a large black camera that was smok - ing slightly,
was watching Fleur out of the corner of his eye. Bagman suddenly
spotted Harry, got up quickly, and bounded forward.
 302 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

“Ah, here he is! Champion number four! In you come, Harry, in you
come . . . nothing to worry about, it ’s just the wand weighing ceremony,
the rest of the judges will be here in a moment — ” “Wand weighing? ”
Harry repeated nervously.
“We have to check that your wands are fully functional, no problems,
you know, as they ’re your most important tools in the tasks ahead, ”
said Bagman. “The expert ’s upstairs now with Dum - bledore. And
then there ’s going to be a little photo shoot. This is Ri ta 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 con - trasted
oddly with her heavy -jawed face. She wore jeweled specta - cles. The
thick fingers clutching her crocodile -skin handbag ended in two -inch
nails, painted crimson.
“I wonder if I could have a little word with Harry before we start? ” she
said to Bagman, but still 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.
“Lo vely, ” said Rita Skeeter, and in a second, her scarlet -taloned fingers
had Harry ’s upper arm in a surprisingly strong 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.
 303 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

“Come along, dear — that ’s right — lovely, ” said Rita Skeeter again,
perching herself pre cariously 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 stretched out between them
on a crate of Mrs. Skower ’s All -Purpose Magi cal Mess Remover. She
put the tip 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 looked down quickly at the quill. The moment Rita Skeeter had
spoken, the green quill had started to scribble, skid - ding across the
parchment:
Attractive blonde Rita Skeeter, forty -three,
whose savage quill has punctured 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
 304 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

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 distracted by the quill. Even
though he wasn ’t speaking, it was dashing across the parch - ment, and
in its wake he could make out a fresh sentence:
An ugly scar, souvenir of a tragic past,
disfigures the otherwise charming face of Harry Potter,
whose eyes —

“Ignore the quill, Harry, ” said Rita Skeeter firmly. Reluctantly, 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 love 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.
 305 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

“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 trauma in your past might have made you keen
to pr ove 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, talk - ing
over him.
“No, ” said Harry.
“How do you think they ’d feel if they knew you were competing 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 intently. Frowning, he avoided her gaze and
looked down at words the quill had just written:
Tears fill those startling green eyes as our
conversation turns t o the parents 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 noticed that her quill and the parchment had
 306 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

suddenly vanished from the box of Magical Mess Remover, and Rita ’s
clawed fingers were hastily snapping shut the clasp of her
crocodile -skin bag. “How are you? ” she said, standing up and hold - ing
out one of her large, mannish hands to Dumbledore. “I hope you saw
my piece over the summer about the International Con - federation of
Wizards ’ Conference? ”
“Enchantingly nasty, ” said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. “I
particularly enjoyed your description of me as an obsolete dingbat. ”
Rita Skeeter didn ’t look remotely abashed.
“I was just making the point that some of your ideas are a little
old -fashioned, Dumbledore, 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 matter later. The Weighing of the Wands is about
to start, and it cannot take place if one of our cha mpions 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, looking up at the
velvet -covered tabl e, where four of the five judges were now sit - ting
— Professor Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Mr. Crouch, and Ludo
Bagman. Rita Skeeter settled 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 introduce 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 c ondition be - fore the
tournament. ”
 307 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Harry looked around, and with a jolt of surprise saw an old wiz - ard
with large, pale eyes standing quietly 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. Ollivander and handed him her
wand.
“Hmmm . . . ” he said.
He twirled the wand between his long fingers like a baton and it
emitted a number of pink and gold sparks. Then he held it close to his
eyes and examined it carefully.
“Yes, ” he said quietly, “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 my - self, 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 check -
ing for scratches or bumps; then he muttered, “ Orchideous !” and a
bunch of flowers burst from the wand tip.
“Very well, very well, it ’s in fine working order, ” said Mr. Olli - vander,
scooping up the flowers and handing them to Fleur with her wand.
“Mr. Diggory, you next. ”
 308 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

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 re - member it
well. Containing a single hair from the tail of a particu - larly fine male
unicorn . . . must have been seventeen hands; nearly gored me with his
horn after I plucked his tail. Twelve and a quar - ter inches . . . ash . . .
pleasantly springy. It ’s in fine condition. . . . You treat it regularly? ”
“Polished it last night, ” said Cedric, grinning.
Harry looked down at his own wand. He could see finger marks all
over it. He gathered a fistful of robe from his knee and tried to rub it
clean surreptitiously. 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 stream of silver smoke rings across the room
from the tip of Cedric ’s wand, pronounced himself satisfied, and then
said, “Mr. Krum, if you please. ”
Viktor Krum got up and slouched, round -shouldered and duck -
footed, toward Mr. Oll ivander. He thrust out his wand and stood
scowling, with his hands in the pockets of his robes.
“Hmm, ” said Mr. Ollivander, “this is a Gregorovitch creation, unless
I’m much mistaken? A fine wand -maker, though the styling is never
quite what I . . . howev er . . . ”
He lifted the wand and examined it minutely, turning it over and over
before his eyes.
“Yes . . . hornbeam and dragon heartstring? ” 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 like a gun, and a number of
 309 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

small, twittering birds flew out of the end and through the open
window into t he 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. Ollivander, his pale eyes s uddenly gleam - ing.
“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 try.
Harry had waved what felt like every wand in the shop, until at last he
had found the one that suited him — this one, which was made of
holly, eleven inches long, an d contained a single feather from the tail of
a phoenix. Mr. Ollivander had been very surprised that Harry had been
so compatible with this wand. “Curious, ” he had said, “curious, ” and
not until Harry asked what was curious had Mr. Ollivander explained
tha t 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 information with anybody. He
was very fond of his wand, and as far as he was concerned its re - lation
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 just explode
with excitement if he did.
 310 ‘

THE WEIGHING
OF THE WANDS

Mr. Ollivander spent much longer examining Harry ’s wand than
anyone else ’s. Eventually, however, he made a fountain of wi ne 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 judges ’ 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 B agman excitedly. “All the
judges and champions, what do you think, Rita? ”
“Er — yes, let ’s do those first, ” said Rita Skeeter, whose eyes were
upon Harry again. “And then perhaps some individual shots. ” The
photographs took a long time. Madame Maxime cast every - one 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 extra 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 Ha rry into greater prominence. Then she
insisted on separate shots of all the champi - ons. At last, they were free
to go.
Harry went down to dinner. Hermione wasn ’t there — he sup - posed
she was still in the hospital wing having her teeth fixed. He ate alon e at
the end of the table, then returned to Gryffindor
 311 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Tower, thinking of all the extra 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 detentions tomorrow night, Snape ’s
dungeon, ” said Ron.
He then walked s traight 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 ap - pealing —
but the lure of Sirius ’s answer was too strong. 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 the owl
is intercepted — we need to talk face -to-face. Can you ensure that you are
alone b y the fire in Gryffindor
Tower at one o ’clock in the morning on the 22nd of November?
I know better than anyone that you can look after yourself and while you ’re
around Dumbledore and Moody I don ’t think anyone will be able to hurt
you. However, someo ne seems to be having a good try. Entering you in that
tournament would
have been very risky, especially right under Dumbledore ’s nose.
Be on the watch, Harry. I still want to hear about anything unusual. Let me
know about the 22nd of November as quic kly
as you can.


 312 ‘

C H A P T E R N I N E T E
E N









THE
HUNGARIAN
HORNTAIL


he prospect of talking face -to -face with Sirius was all that
T
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 slightly now, and the fear of
what was facing him had started to sink in. The first task was draw - ing
steadily nearer; he felt as though it were crouching ahead of him like
some horrific monster, barring his path. He had never suf - fered
nerves like these; they were way beyond anythin g he had ex - perienced
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 leading up to , and would finish with, the first
task. . . .
Admittedly, he didn ’t see how Sirius was going to make him feel any
better about having to perform an unknown piece of difficult and
dangerous magic in front of hundreds of people, but the mere
 313 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

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 time Sirius had suggested, and he and Hermione spent
a long time going over plans for forcing any stragglers out of the
common room on the night in question. 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 ski n them alive. In the
meantime, life became even worse for Harry within the confines of the
castle, 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 color ed life story of Harry. Much of the front
page had been given over to a picture of Harry; the article (continuing
on pages two, six, and seven) had been all about Harry, the names of
the Beauxbatons and Durm - strang champions (misspelled) had been
squashed into the last line of the article, and Cedric hadn ’t been
mentioned at all.
The article had appeared ten days ago, and Harry still got a sick,
burning feeling of shame in his stomach every time 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 strength from my parents. I know
they ’d be very proud of me if they could see me
now. . . . Yes, sometimes at night I still 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. . . .
 314 ‘

THE
HUNGARIAN
HORNTAIL

But Rita Skeeter had gone even further than transforming 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 pretty Muggle -born girl who, like Harry, is
one of the top students in the school.

From the moment the article had appeared, Harry had had to endure
people — Slytherins, mainly — quoting it at h im as he passed and
making sneering comments.
“Want a hanky, Potter, in case you start crying in Transfig - uration? ”
“Since when have you been one of the top students in the school,
Potter? 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 just about enough. “I’ve just been
crying my eyes out over my dead mum, and I ’m just off to do a bit
more. . . . ”
“No — it was just — yo u 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. ”
 315 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEE N

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 admiration for the way she was handling the situation.
“ Stunningly pretty ? Her ?” Pansy Parkinson had
shrieked the first
time she had come face -to -face with Hermione after Rita ’s article had
appeared. “What was she judging against — a chipmunk? ” “Ignore it, ”
Hermione said in a dignified voice, h olding 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 article
had appeared, which seemed to have con - firmed Ron ’s belief that
Harry was really enjoying all th e attention. Hermione was furious with
the pair of them; she went from one
to the other, trying to force them to talk to each other, but Harry was
adamant: He would talk to Ron again only if Ron admitted that Harry
hadn ’t put his name in the Goblet of Fire and apolo - gized 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
just wasn ’t the same as Ron. There was much less laughter and a lot
more hanging around in the library when Hermione was
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your best friend. Harry still 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 porin g 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 first task? Hermione often com - plained 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 muttered 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 Wonky - Faint thing — ”
“Wronski Feint, ” said Harry, through gritted 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 strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would
give anything to slow down time, it h as a disobliging habit of speeding
up. The days until the first task seemed to slip by as though someone
had fixed the clocks to work at double speed. Harry ’s feeling of barely
controlled panic was with him wherever he
went, as everpresent as the snide co mments about the Daily Prophet
article.
On the Saturday before the first task, all students in the third
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year and above were permitted to visit the village of Hogsmeade.
Hermione told Harry that it would do him good to get away from the
castle 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 slightly 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 Invis - ibility
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 sporting Support Cedric Diggory ! badges, but no horrible re -
marks came his way for a change, and nobody was quoting that stupid
article.
“People keep looking at me now, ” said Hermione grumpily as
they came out of Honeydukes Sweetshop later, eating large cream -
filled chocolates. “They think I ’m talking to myself. ”
“Don ’t move your lips so much then. ”
“Come on, please just take off you r cloak for a bit, no one ’s go -
ing to bother you here. ”
“Oh yeah? ” said Harry. “Look behind you. ”
Rita Skeeter and her photographer friend had just emerged from
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the Three Broomsticks pub. Talking in low voices, they passed right by
Hermione without looking at her. Harry backed into the wall of
Honeydukes to stop Rita Skeeter from hitting 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 mention this; he and Hermione hadn ’t discussed what was
coming in the first task much; he had the feeling she di dn ’t want to
think about it.
“She ’s gone, ” said Hermione, looking right through Harry to - ward the
end of the street. “Why don ’t we go and have a butterbeer in the Three
Broomsticks, it ’s a bit cold, isn ’t it? You don ’t have to talk to Ron! ” she
added irritably, correctly interpreting his silence. The Three
Broomsticks was packed, mainly with Hogwarts stu - dents enjoying
their free afternoon, but also with a variety of mag - ical people Harry
rarely saw anywhere else. Harry supposed that as Ho gsmeade 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 questions. Harry edged slowly toward a spare table in the
corner while Hermione went to buy drinks. On his way through the
pub, Harry spotted Ron, who was sitting with Fred, George, and Lee
Jordan. Resisting 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 joined him a moment later and slipped him a butter - beer
under his cloak.
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“I look like such an idiot, sitting 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 shor t list. It seemed a long time ago that they had sat making up
those predictions together, and Hermione had turned up and
appointed them secretary and treasurer.
“You know, maybe I should try and get some of the villagers in -
volved in S.P.E.W., ” Hermione said thoughtfully, looking around the
pub.
“Yeah, right, ” said Harry. He took a swig of butterbeer under his cloak.
“Hermione, when are you going to give up on this spew stuff? ”
“When house -elves have decent wages and working conditions! ” she
hissed back. “You know, I ’m starting to think it ’s time for more direct
action. I wonder how you get into the school kitchens? ”
“No idea, ask Fred and George, ” said Harry.
Hermione lapsed into thoughtful silence, while Harry drank his
butterbeer, 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
sporting Support Cedric Diggory ! badges on their cloaks. Right ove r
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 people, sitting 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
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wearing the Invisibility Cloak, for one thing. Ron would be sitting 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 looking forward to it, wat ching 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 time he
had seen Cedric lately, he had been surrounded by admirers and
loo king nervous but excited. Harry glimpsed Fleur Delacour from time
to time in the corridors; she looked exactly as she always did, haughty
and unruffled. And Krum just sat in the library, poring over books.
Harry thought of Sirius, and the tight, tense k not in his chest seemed to
ease slightly. He would be speaking to him in just over twelve hours,
for tonight was the night they were meeting at the common room fire
— assuming nothing went wrong, as every - thing else had done
lately. . . .
“Look, it ’s Hag rid! ” said Hermione.
The back of Hagrid ’s enormous shaggy head — he had merci - fully
abandoned his bunches — emerged over the crowd. Harry wondered
why he hadn ’t spotted him at once, as Hagrid was so large, bu t
standing up carefully, he saw that Hagrid had been lean - ing low,
talking to Professor Moody. Hagrid had his usual enor - mous tankard
in front of him, but Moody was drinking from his hip flask. Madam
Rosmerta, the pretty landlady, didn ’t seem to think mu ch of this; she
was looking askance at Moody as she col - lected glasses from tables
around them. Perhaps she thought it was an insult to her mulled mead,
but Harry knew better. Moody had told them all during their last
Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson
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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), muttered 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 ’ dis - tance.
Moody grinned.
“Can your eye — I mean, can you — ?”
“Yeah, it can see through Invisibility Cloaks, ” Moody said qui - etly.
“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. ”
Straightening up, Hagrid said loudly, “Nice ter s ee yeh, Hermione, ”
winked, and departed. Moody followed him.
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“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 true that
going down to Hagrid ’s at midnight would mean cutting his meeting
with Sirius very fin e indeed; Hermione sug - gested 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 what - ever 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 thro ugh the
common room. Quite a few people were still in there. The Creevey
brothers had managed to get
hold of a stack of Support Cedric Diggory ! badges and were trying to
bewitch them to make them say Support Harry Potter ! instead. So
far, however, all they had managed to do was get the badges stuck
on POTTER STINKS. Harry crept past them to the portrait 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.
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“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 but -
tonhole. It looked as though he had abandoned the use of axle grease,
but he had certainly attempted to comb his hair — Harry could see the
comb ’s broken teeth tangled in it.
“What ’re yo u 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 castle by one o ’clock
— ”
But Hagrid wasn ’t listening; he was opening the cabin door and
striding off 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 times on the door bearing
the crossed golden wands.
Madame Maxime opened it. She was wearing a silk shawl wrap ped
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.
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Madame Maxime closed the door behind her, Hagrid offered her his
arm, and they set off around the edge of the paddock con - taining
Madame Maxime ’s giant winged horses, with Harry, totally bewildered,
running to keep up with them. Had Hagrid w anted to show him
Madame Maxime? He could see her any old time 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 enjoy this, ” said Hagrid gruffly, “worth seein ’, trust 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 st ill 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 tur n around,
go straight back to the castle, and leave Hagrid to en - joy his moonlit
stroll with Madame Maxime. . . .
But then — when they had walked so far around the perimeter of the
forest that the castle and the lake were out of sight — Harry heard
somet hing. Men were shouting up ahead . . . then came a deafening,
earsplitting roar. . . .
Hagrid led Madame Maxime around a clump of trees and came to a
halt. Harry hurried up alongside them — for a split second, he thought
he was seeing bonfires, and men da rting around them — and then his
mouth fell open.
Dragons.
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Four fully grown, enormous, vicious -looking dragons were rear - ing
onto their hind legs inside an enclosure fenced with thick planks of
wood, roaring and snorting — torrents of fire were shooting into the
dark sky from their open, fanged mouths, fifty feet above the ground
on their outstretched necks. There was a silvery -blue one with long,
pointed horns, snapping and snarling at the wi zards on the ground; a
smooth -scaled 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
gigantic black one, mor e lizard -like than the others, which was nearest
to them.
At least thirty wizards, seven or eight to each dragon, were attempting
to control them, pulling on the chains connected to heavy leather
straps around their necks and legs. Mesmerized, Harry looke d up, high
above him, and saw the eyes of the black dragon, with vertical 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, strain - ing
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.
“ Stupefy !” they shouted in unison, and the Stunning Spells shot
into the darkness like fiery rockets, bursting in showers of stars on the
dragons ’ scaly h ides —
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Harry watched the dragon nearest to them teeter dangerously on its
back legs; its jaws stretched wide in a silent howl; its nostrils were
suddenly devoid of flame, though still 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 trees behind him quake.
The dragon keepers lowered their wands and walked forward to their
fallen charges, each of wh ich was the size of a small hill. They hurried
to tighten 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 better 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 close to reverence. Its eyes were
still just open. Harry could see a strip of gleaming yel - low beneath its
wrinkled black eyelid.
“This is a Hungarian Horntail, ” said Charlie. “There ’s a Com - mon
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 strolling away around the edge of the
enclosure, gazing at the stunned dragons.
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“I didn ’t know you were bringing her, Hagrid, ” Charlie said, frowning.
“The champions aren ’t supposed to know what ’s com - ing — she ’s
bound to tell her student, isn ’t she? ”
“Jus ’ thought she ’d like ter see ’em, ” shrugged Hagrid, still gaz - ing,
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, Extinguishing 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 bac k end ’s as dan - gerous 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 Hagri d. He was still gazing at the eggs. “Just hope he ’s still
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 hi m. . . . ” Charlie imitated
his mother ’s anxious voice.
“‘How could they let him enter that tournament, he ’s much too young !
I thought they were all safe, I thought there was going to be an age
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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 attractions of four dragons and Madame Maxime to
occupy him, he turned silently 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 better. The first s hock was over now. Maybe if
he ’d seen the dragons for the first time 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 m ore 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 watch -
ing. How ?
Harry sped up, skirting the edge of the forest; he had just under fifteen
minutes to get back to the fireside and talk to Sirius, and he couldn ’t
remember, ever, wanting 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 h im.
A voice nearby said, “Ouch! Who ’s there? ”
Harry hastily checked that the cloak was covering him and lay very still,
staring up at the dark outline 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 still and silent. After a minute or so,
Karkaroff seemed to decide that he had hit some sort
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of animal; he was looking around at waist height, as though ex - pecting
to see a dog. Then he crept back under the cover of the trees and
started to edge forward toward the place where the drag - ons were.
Very slowly and very carefully, Harry got to his feet and set off 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 try and find out what the first task was goi ng to
be. He might even have spotted Hagrid and Madame Maxime heading
off around the forest together — they were hardly difficult to spot at a
distance . . . and now all Karkaroff had to do was fol - low the sound of
voices, and he, like Madame Maxime, woul d 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 castle, slipped in through the front doors, and began
to climb the marble stairs; he was very o ut 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 muttered sleepily, wit hout opening her eyes, and
the picture swung forward to admit him. Harry climbed in - side. The
common room was deserted, and, judging by the fact that it smelled
quite normal, Hermione had not needed to set off any Dungbombs to
ensure that he and Sirius go t privacy.
Harry pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and threw himself into an
armchair in front of the fire. The room was in semidarkness; the
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flames were the only source of light. Nearby, on a table, the Support
Cedric Diggory ! badges the Creeveys had been trying to improve
were glinting 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. Dig - gory
do exactly this back in the Weasleys ’ kitchen, it would have scared him
out of his wits. Instead, his face breaking into the first s mile 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 good -bye, Sirius ’s face had been gaunt and sunken, sur - ro unded
by a quantity of long, black, matted 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 tried 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 fr ee 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 just shown me what ’s coming in the first task,
and it ’s dragons, Sirius, and I ’m a goner, ” he finished des - perately.
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
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interruption, 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 Hogwa rts
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
struggling to absorb yet another piece of shocking informa - tion. “Why
did they release him? ”
“He did a deal with the Ministry of Magic, ” said Sirius bitterly. “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 t ell 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 Durmstrang 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. ”
 332 ‘

THE
HUNGARIAN
HORNTAIL

“We know he ’s a good actor, ” said Sirius, “because he convinced the
Ministry 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 arti - cle last month, Moody
was attacked the night before he started at Hogwarts. Yes, I know she
says it was another false alarm, ” Sirius said hastily, seeing Harry about
to speak, “but I don ’t think so, somehow. I think someone tried to
stop him from getting to Hog - warts. I think someone knew their job
would be a lot more difficult with him around. And no one ’s going to
look into it too closely; Mad -Eye ’s heard intruders a bit too often. But
that doesn ’t mean he can ’t still spot the real thing. Moody was the best
Auror the Min - istry ever had. ”
“So . . . what are you saying? ” said Harry slowly. “Karkaroff ’s trying to
kill me? But — why? ”
Sirius hesitated.
“I’ve been hearing some very strange things, ” he said slowly. “The
Death Eaters seem to be a bit mo re active 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.
“Exactly . . . 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 straight into Voldemort , is it? ”
said Harry.
 333 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

“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
combination, Harry. I ’d say she ’d be very easy to lure into a trap.
“So . . . so Voldemort could have found out about the tourna - ment? ”
said Harry. “Is that what you mean? You t hink Karkaroff might be
here on his orders? ”
“I don ’t know, ” said Sirius slowly, “I just don ’t know . . . Karkaroff
doesn ’t strike me as the type who ’d go back to Voldemort unless he
knew Voldemort was powerful enough to protect him. But whoever
put you r name in that goblet did it for a reason, and I can ’t help
thinking the tournament would be a very good way to attack you and
make it look like an accident. ”
“Looks like a really good plan from where I ’m standing, ” said Harry
grinning bleakly. “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 try a Stunning Spell —
dragons are strong and too powerfully magical to be knocke d out by a
single Stunner, you need about half a dozen wiz - ards 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 a way, and a sim - ple
spell ’s all you need. Just — ”
But Harr y held up a hand to silence him, his heart suddenly pounding
as though it would burst. He could hear footsteps com - ing down the
spiral staircase behind him.
 334 ‘

THE
HUNGARIAN
HORNTAIL

“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 Ministry would get dragged in — he, Harry, would be
questioned about Sirius ’s wh ereabouts —
Harry heard a tiny pop ! in the fire behind him and knew Sirius
had gone. He watched the bottom of the spiral staircase. Who had
decided to go for a stroll 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 pajamas, 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 just 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.
“Shoul d’ve realized you didn ’t want to be disturbed. I ’ll let you get on
with practicing 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
 335 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

Tuesday. You might even have a scar now, if you ’re lucky. . . . That ’s
what you want, isn ’t it? ”
He strode 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 just stood there in his too -small pajamas, and Harry, having
stormed upstairs, lay awake in bed fuming for a long time afterward
and didn ’t hear him come up to bed.
























 336 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T
Y









THE FIRST TASK




arry got up on Sunday morning and dressed so inatten -
H
tively 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, locating her at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall,
where she was eating breakfast with Ginny. Feeling too queasy to eat,
Harry waited until 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, H ermione still thought that the dragons
were the more pressing problem.
“Let ’s just try and keep you alive until Tuesday evening, ” she said
desperately, “and then we can worry about Karkaroff. ”
 337 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

They walked three times around the lake, trying all the way to think of
a simple spell that would subdue a dragon. Nothing what - soever
occurred to them, so they retired to the library instead. Here, Harry
pulled down every book he could find on dragons, a nd both of them
set to work searching through the large pile.
“‘Talon -clipping by charms . . . treating scale -rot . . . ’ This is no
good, this is for nutters like Hagrid who want to keep them
healthy. . . . ”
“‘Dragons are extremely difficult to slay, owing to the ancient magic
that imbues their thick hides, which none but the most powerful spells
can penetrate . . . ’ But Sirius said a simple one would do it. . . . ”
“Let ’s try 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 whis - pering 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 some - thing that
would make it less dangerous. . . . The trouble 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 yourself ? Maybe to give yourself
extra 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 do -
ing O.W.L. practice papers. . . . ”
“Hermione, ” Harry said, through gritted teeth, “will you shut up for a
bit, please? I ’m trying to concent rate. ”
But all that happened, when Hermione fell silent, was that
 338 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

Harry ’s brain filled with a sort of blank buzzing, which didn ’t seem to
allow room for concentration. He stared hopelessly down the in -
dex of Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed. Instant scalping . . . but
dragons had no hair . . . pepper breath . . . that would probably in -
crease a dragon ’s firepower . . . horn tongue . . . just 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 settled himse lf in a distant cor - ner 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, twittering 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 morn - ing,
he seriously considered for the first time ever just running away from
Hogwarts. But as he looked around the Great Hall at breakfast time,
and thought about what leaving the castle 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, t he knowledge that he would rather be here and fac - ing a
dragon than back on Privet Drive with Dudley was good to know; it
made him feel slightly 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.
 339 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

Cedric still didn ’t know about the dragons . . . the only cham - pion who
didn ’t, if Harry was right in thinking that Maxime and Karkaroff 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 time Harry reached the bottom 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 quoting Rita Skeeter ’s article at him every time 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
exactly what Harry had been hoping for. He slipped his wand back into
his robes, waited until Cedric ’s friends had disap - peared into their
classroom, and hurried up the corridor, which was now empty of
ever yone but himself and Cedric.
“Hi, ” said Cedric, picking up a copy of A Guide to Advanced
Transfiguration that was now splattered with ink. “My bag just
split . . . brand -new and all . . . ”
“Cedric, ” said Harry, “the first task is dragons. ”
 340 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

“What? ” said Cedric, looking up.
“Dragons, ” said Harry, speaking quickly, in case Professor Flit - wick
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 trouble if he
told the truth. “But I ’m not the only one who knows. Fleur and Krum
will know by now — Maxime and Karkaroff both saw th e dragons
too. ”
Cedric straightened 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.
Har ry 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 just . . . fair, isn ’t it? ” he said to Cedric. “We all know now . . .
we ’re on an even footing, aren ’t we? ”
Cedric was still looking at him in a slightly suspicious way when Harry
heard a familiar clunking noise behind him. He turned around and saw
Mad -Eye Moody emerging from a nearby class - room.
“Come with me, Potter, ” he growled. “Diggory, off you go. ” Harry
stared apprehensively at Moody. Had he overheard them?
 341 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

“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 just 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 office. Moody closed the door be - hind
them and tu rned 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 beam - ing, winking
pictures of Professor Lockhart himself. When Lupin had lived here,
you were more likely to come across a specimen of some fascinating
new Dark creature he had procured for them to study in class. Now,
however, the office was full of a number of ex - ceptionally odd objects
that Harry supposed Moody had used in the days wh en he had been an
Auror.
On his desk stood what looked like a large, cracked, glass spin - ning
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 a n object that looked something like an
extra -squiggly, golden television aerial. It was humming
 342 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

slightly. What appeared to be a mirror hung opposite Harry on the wall,
but it was not reflecting the room. Shadowy figures were mov - ing
around inside it, none of them clearly in focus.
“Like my Dark Detectors, do you? ” said 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
direction lying about why they haven ’t done their home - work. Been
humming ever since I got here. I had to disable my Sneakoscope
because it wouldn ’t stop whistling. It ’s extra -sensitive, picks up stuff
about a mile around. Of course, it could be picking up more than kid
stuff, ” he added in a growl.
“And what ’s the mi rror 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 trunk under
the window. It ha d seven keyholes in a row. Harry wondered what was
in there, until 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 ce rtainly wasn ’t
going to tell Moody, that Hagrid had broken the rules.
“It’s all right, ” said Moody, sitting down and stretching out his wooden
leg with a groan. “Cheating ’s a traditional part of the Tri - wizard
Tournament and always has been. ”
 343 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

“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 a s 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
favoritism, 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 strengths 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, inter - rupting
him, “is to use a nice, simple spell that will enable you to
get what you need. ”
 344 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

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 min utes later, uttering 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 whis - pered
back, her eyes round with anxiety over the top of the quiver - ing
Flutterb y Bush she was pruning.
“Hermione, I need to learn how to do a Summoning Charm properly
by tomorrow afternoon. ”

And so they practiced. They didn ’t have lunch, but headed for a free
classroom, where Harry tried with all his might to make vari - ous
objects fly across the room toward him. He was still having problems.
The books and quills kept losing heart halfway across the room and
dropping like stones to the floor.
“Concentrate, Harry, concentrate. . . . ”
“What d ’you think I ’m trying 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 Divination to keep practicing, 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
 345 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

everyone that the position of Mars with relation 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 getting the better 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 first time in days, but Harry was still feeling
too resentful toward Ron to care. He spent the rest of the lesson trying
to attract small objects toward him under the table with his wan d. He
managed to make a fly zoom straight into his hand, though he wasn ’t
entirely sure that was his prowess at Summoning Charms — perhaps
the fly was just stupid.
He forced down some dinner after Divination, then returned to the
empty classroom with Herm ione, using the Invisibility Cloak to avoid
the teachers. They kept practicing until past midnight. They would
have stayed longer, but Peeves turned up and, pre - tending to think
that Harry wanted things thrown at him, started chucking chairs across
the ro om. Harry and Hermione left in a hurry before the noise
attracted 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 objects: 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 better, Harry, that ’s loads better, ” Hermione said, look - ing
exhausted but very ple ased.
“Well, now we know what to do next time I can ’t manage a
 346 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

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 castle,
and I ’m going to be out there on the grounds. . . . ” “That doesn ’t
matter, ” 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 left him. It re - turned in
full measure, however, on the following morning. The at - mosphere in
the school was one of great tension and excitement. Lessons were to
stop at midday, giving all the students time to get down to the dragons ’
enclosure — though of course, they didn ’t yet know what they would
find the re.
Harry felt oddly separate from everyone around him, whether
they were wishing him good luck or hissing “ We ’ll have a box of tis -
sues ready, Potter ” as he passed. It was a state of nervousness so ad -
vanced that he wondered whether he mightn ’t just lose his head when
they tried to lead him out to his dragon, and start trying to curse
everyone in sight. Time was behaving in a more peculiar fash - ion than
ever, rushing past in great dollops, so that one moment he seemed to
be sitting down in his first lesson, History of Magic, and the next,
walking into lunch . . . and then (where had the morning
 347 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

gone? the last of the dragon -free hours?), Professor McGonagall was
hurrying over to him in the Great Hall. Lots of people were watching.
“Potter, 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 wi th a
clatter.
“Good luck, Harry, ” Hermione whispered. “You ’ll be fine! ” “Yeah, ”
said Harry in a voice that was most unlike his own. He left the Great
Hall with Professor McGonagall. She didn ’t seem herself either; in fact,
she looked nearly as anxious as Her - mione. 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, “just 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 trees behind which the
enclosure would be clearly visible, Harry saw that a tent had been
erected, its entrance facing them, screen - ing the dragons from view.
“You ’re to go in here with the other champi ons, ” said Professor
McGonagall, in a rather shaky sort of voice, “and wait for your turn,
Potter. 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 t he
entrance of the tent. Harry went inside.
 348 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

Fleur Delacour was sitting in a corner on a low 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 h ard, 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 fig - ure,
standing amid all the pale -faced cha mpions. He was wearing his old
Wasp robes again.
“Well, now we ’re all here — time to fill you in! ” said Bagman brightly.
“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 — varieties, 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 slightly green. Fleur Delacour and Krum hadn ’t
reacted at all. Perhaps they thought they might be sick if t hey opened
their mouths; that was certainly how Harry felt. But they, at least, had
volunteered for this. . . .
And in no time at all, hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of feet could be
heard passing the tent, their owners talking excitedly, laughing,
jok ing. . . . Harry felt as separate from the crowd as though they were
a different species. And then — it seemed like
 349 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

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 tiny, per - fect 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 resignation, that he had been right: Madame Maxime had
told her what was coming.
The same held true for Krum. He pulled out the scarlet Chinese
Fireball. It had a number three around its neck. He didn ’t even blink,
just 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 tied around its neck. Know - ing
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 commentating. Mr. Diggory, you ’re first, just go out into the
enclosure when you hear a whis tle, 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 trees, 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. ”
 350 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

“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 continued, lowering his voice still fur - ther,
“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 peo - ple 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 hur - ried
off.
Harry walked back to the tent and saw Cedric emerging from it,
greener than ever. Harry tried 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 later, they heard
the roar of the crowd, which meant Cedric had entered the enclosure
and was now face -to -face with the living c ounterpart of his model. . . .
It was worse than Harry could ever have imagined, sitting there and
listening. The crowd screamed . . . yelled . . . gasped like a sin - gle
many -headed entity, as Cedric did whatever he was doing to get past
the Swedish Sh ort -Snout. Krum was still 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
 351 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

as he heard: “Oooh, narrow miss there, very narrow ” . . . “He ’s tak -
ing risks, this one! ” . . . “ Clever move — pity it didn ’t work! ”
And then, after about fifteen minutes, Harry heard the deafen - ing r oar
that could mean only one thing: Cedric had gotten past his dragon and
captured the golden egg.
“Very good indeed! ” Bagman was shouting. “And now the marks from
the judges! ”
But he didn ’t shout out the marks; Harry supposed the judges were
holding them up and showing them to the crowd.
“One down, three to go! ” Bagman yelled as the whistle 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 left 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 sho uting 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 tingling with fear . . . yet
at the same time, he seemed to be outside himself, see - ing the walls of
the tent, and hearing the crowd, as though from far away. . . .
 352 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

“Very daring! ” Bagman was yelling, and Harry heard the Chi - nese
Fireball emit a horrible, roaring shriek, while the crowd drew its
collective breath. “That ’s some nerve he ’s showing — and — yes, he ’s
got the egg! ”
Applause shattered the wintery air like breaking gla ss; Krum had
finished — it would be Harry ’s turn any moment.
He stood up, noticing dimly that his legs seemed to be made of
marshmallow. He waited. And then he heard the whistle blow. He
walked out through the entrance 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 w ere 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 half -furled,
her evil, yellow eyes upon him, a monstrous, scaly, black lizard,
thrashing her spiked tail, leaving yard -long gouge marks in the hard
ground. The crowd was making a great deal of noise, but whether
friendly or not, Harry didn ’t know or care. It was time t o do what he
had to do . . . to focus his mind, entirely 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, trans -
parent barrier, like a heat haze, which made the enclosure and the
hundreds of faces around him swim strangely. . . .
 353 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

And then he heard it, speeding through the air behind him; he turned
and saw his Firebolt hurtling toward him around the edge of the
woods, soaring into the enclosure, and stopping dead in midair beside
him, waiting for him to mount. The crowd was mak - ing even more
noise. . . . Bagman was shouting something . . . but Harry ’s ears were
not working properly anymore . . . listening wasn ’t important. . . .
He swung his leg over the broom and k icked 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 pinpricks below, and the Horntail shrank
to the size of a dog, he r ealized that he had left not only the ground
behind, but also his fear. . . . He was back where he belonged. . . .
This was just another Quidditch match, that was all . . . just an - other
Quidditch match, and that Horntail was just another ugly opposing
team. . . .
He looked down at the clutch of eggs and spotted the gold one,
gleaming against its cement -colored fellows, residing safely be - tween
the dragon ’s front legs. “Okay, ” Harry told himself, “diver - sionary
tactics . . . let ’s go. . . . ”
He di ved. The Horntail ’s head followed him; he knew what it was
going to do and pulled out of the dive just in time; a jet of fire had been
released exactly where he would have been had he not swerved away . . .
but Harry didn ’t care . . . that was no more than dodging a Bludger. . . .
“Great Scott, 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 still following
 354 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

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 just as the Horntail opened its mouth, but this time
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
stinging, he could hear screaming and gro ans 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 pro - tective
of her eggs. Though she writhed an d 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 still posing a sufficient threat to
ensure she kept her eyes on him. Her head swayed this way and that,
watching him out of those vertica l pupils, her fangs bared. . . .
He flew higher. The Horntail ’s head rose with him, her neck now
stretched to its fullest extent, still swaying, like a snake before its
charmer. . . .
Harry rose a few more feet, and she let out a roar of exaspera - tion . 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 jaws opened wide. . . .
 355 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

“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 dis - appeared 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 uninjured arm, and it was as
though somebody had just turned the volume back up — for the first
time, 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 entrance to the enclosure, Professor McGonagall,
Professor Moody, and Hagrid hurrying to meet him, all of them
waving him toward them, their smiles evident ev en 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, Potter! ” cried Professor McGonagall as he got off
the Firebolt — which from her was extravagant praise. He noticed that
her hand shook as she pointed at his shoulder. “You ’ll
 356 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

need to see Madam Pomfrey before the judges 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, still panting, and saw Madam
Pomfrey standing at the mouth of a second tent, looking wo rried.
“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 in - jured; he was sitting
up, at least. Madam Pomfrey exa mined Harry ’s shoulder, talking
furiously all the while. “Last year demen - tors, this year dragons, what
are they going to bring into this school next? You ’re very lucky . . . this
is quite shallow . . . it ’ll need clean - ing 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, just sit quietly for a minute — sit ! And then you can go
and get your score. ”
 357 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

She bustled 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 w as going on outside, but be - fore he ’d
reached the mouth of the tent, two people had come dart - ing 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 pu t 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 Harr y coldly. “Took you long enough. ”
Hermione stood nervously between them, looking from 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
 358 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

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 duck ed out of the
tent, Ron by his side, talking fast.
“You were the best, you know, no competition. Cedric did this weird
thing where he Transfigured a rock on the ground . . . turned it into a
dog . . . he was trying to make the dragon go for the dog instead of him.
Well, it was a pretty cool bit of Transfiguration, 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 ju st got away. And that Fleur girl tried
this sort of charm, I think she was trying to put it into a trance — well,
that kind of worked too, it went all sleepy, but then it snored, and this
great jet of flame shot out, and her skirt caught fire — 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 flying! He was probably the best after
you, though. Hit it with some sort of spell right in the eye. Only thing is,
it went tram - pling 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
enclo - sure. Now that the Horntail had been taken away, Harry could
see where the five jud ges 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,
 359 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

squinting up the field, saw the first judge — Madame Maxime — raise
her wand in the air. What looked 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 cheer - ing 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 indignation 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 just
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 Cedri c’s. . . . He didn ’t care about
the Slytherins, he could stand whatever they threw at him now.
“You ’re tied 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
 360 ‘

THE FIRST TASK

owl, I swore I ’d tell her what happened — but that was unbeliev - able!
Oh yeah — and they told me to tell you you ’ve got to hang around for
a few more m inutes. . . . 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 pre - sumably 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 just got past a
dragon. “Now, just 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 meantime! If you l ook 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, rejoined 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.
 361 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

It was Rita Skeeter. She was wearing acid -green robes today; the
Quick -Quotes Quill in her hand blended perfectly against them.
“Congratulations, 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, y ou can have a word, ” said Harry savagely. “ Good -bye. ”
And he set off back to the castle with Ron.
























 362 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
O N E









THE
HOUSE - ELF
LIBERATION FRONT


arry, Ron, and Hermione went up to the Owlery that
H
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 time they en - tered 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 train,
about his dad being friends with Karkaroff? Now we know where they
knew each other. They were probably r unning around in masks
together at the World Cup. . . . I ’ll tell you one thing,

though, Harry, if it was Karkaroff who put your name in the gob -
let, he ’s going to be feeling really stupid now, isn ’t he? Didn ’t work, did
it? You only got a scratch! Co me here — I’ll do it — ” Pigwidgeon was
so overexcited at the idea of a delivery he was
 363 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


flying around and around Harry ’s head, hooting incessantly. 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 dan - gerous,
how could they be? ” Ron went on as he carried Pigwidgeon to the
window. “You know wh at? I reckon you could win this tour - nament,
Harry, I ’m serious. ”
Harry knew that Ron was only saying this to make up for his be - havior
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 tourna - ment, ”
she said seriously. “If that was the first task, I hate to think what ’s
coming next. ”
“Right little ray of sunshine, aren ’t you? ” said Ron. “You and
Prof essor Trelawney should get together sometime. ”
He threw Pigwidgeon out of the window. Pigwidgeon plum - meted
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 -by - blow account of
exactly how he had swerved, circled, and dodged the Horntail. They
watched Pigwidgeon disappear into the dark - ness, and then Ron said,
“Well, we ’d better 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 Gryffindor common room it
exploded with cheers and yells again. There were mountains of cakes
and flagons of pumpkin juice and butterb eer on every

 364 ‘

THE
HOUSE -ELF
LIBERATION FRONT

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 forgotten wha t 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
gotten 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
swiftly. “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.
Th e nearest thing to it Harry had ever heard was the ghost orchestra at
Nearly Headless Nick ’s deathday party, who had all been playing the
musical saw.
“Shut it! ” Fred bellowed, his hands over his ears.
 365 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“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 just bitten into a custard cream, choked and spat it
out. Fred laughed.
“Just my little joke, Neville. . . . ”
Hermione took a jam tart. Then she said, “Did you get all this from 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 painting of a bowl of fruit.
Just tickle the pear, and it giggles and — ” He stoppe d and looked
suspiciously at her. “Why? ”
 366 ‘

THE
HOUSE -ELF
LIBERATION FRONT

“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
upsetting them and telling them they ’ve got to take clothes and
salaries! ” said Fred warningly “You ’ll put th em 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 for -
got — 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 finally went up to the
dormitory with Ron, Neville, Seamus, and Dean. Before he pulled the
curtains of his four -poster shut, Harry set his tiny model of the
Hungarian Horntail on the table n ext 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 . . . they were all right, really, dragons. . . .

The start of December brought wind and sleet to Hogwarts. Drafty
though the castle always was in winter, Harry was glad of its fires and
thick walls every time he passed the Durmstrang ship on the lake,
which was pitching in the high winds, its black sails billowing
 367 ‘

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TWENTY -ONE


against the dark skies. He thought the Beauxbatons caravan was likely
to be pretty chilly too. Hagrid, he noticed, was keeping Madame
Maxime ’s horses well provided with their preferred drink of
single -ma lt whiskey; the fumes wafting from the trough in the corner
of their paddock was enough to make the entire Care of Magical
Creatures class light -headed. This was unhelpful, as they were still
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 jus ’ try an ’ see if they fancied a kip . . . we ’ll jus ’ settle ’em down in
these boxes. . . . ”
There were now only ten skrewts left; apparently 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,
scuttling legs; their fire -blasting ends; their stings and their suck ers,
combined to make the skrewts the most repul - sive 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 jus ’ lead ’em in here, ” Hagrid said, “an ’ put the lids on, and
we ’ll see what happens. ”
But the skrewts, it transpired, did not hibernate, and did not ap -
preciate 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 strewn with the smol -
dering wreckage of the boxes. Most of the class — Malfoy, Crabbe, and
Goyle in the lead — had fled into Hagrid ’s cabin through the
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back door and barricaded themselves in; Harry, Ron, and Hermi - one,
however, were among those who remained outside trying to help
Hagrid. Together they managed to restrain and tie 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 jets of fiery sparks at the skrewt, which was
advancing menacingly on them, its sting arched, quivering, over its
back. “Jus ’ try an ’ slip the rope ’round his sting, 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 sk rewt 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 flattened 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 t he school
anymore, ” said Hagrid, frowning slightly as he got off the slightly
squashed skrewt and started tugging it over to its fellows.
 369 ‘

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Rita acted as though she hadn ’t heard what Hagrid had said. “What are
these fascinating creatures called? ” she asked, beam - ing still more
widely.
“Blast -Ended Skrewts, ” grunted Hagrid.
“Really? ” said Rita, apparently full of lively interest. “I’ve never heard
of them before . . . where do they come from? ”
Harry noticed a dull red flush 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 interesting, aren ’t they? Aren ’t they, Harry? ”
“What? Oh yeah . . . ouch . . . interesting, ” 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 fa - vorite
lessons? ”
“Yes, ” said Harry stoutly. Hagrid beamed at him. “Lovely, ” said Rita.
“Really lovely. Been teaching long? ” she added to Hagrid.
Harry noticed her eyes travel over Dean (who had a nasty cut across
one ch eek), Lavender (whose robes were badly singed), Sea - mus (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. ”
 370 ‘

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“Blast -Ended Skrewts, ” Hagrid said eagerly. “Er — yeah, why not? ”
Harry had a very bad feeling about this, but there was no way of
communicating 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 Broomsticks for a good long i n-
terview later that week. Then the bell rang up at the castle, signal - ing
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 every thing he says, ” Harry said under his breath. “Just as
long as he didn ’t import those skrewts illegally or any - thing, ” said
Hermione desperately. They looked at one another — it was exactly
the sort of thing Hagrid might do.
“Hagrid ’s been in loads of tro uble before, and Dumbledore ’s 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 slightly more cheer - ful,
wen t off to lunch.
Harry thoroughly enjoyed double Divination that afternoon; they were
still doing star charts and predictions, 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 predicting their own horrific deaths, quickly became irritated
as they sniggered through her explanation of the various ways in which
Pluto could disrupt everyday life.
 371 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“I would think, ” she said, in a mystical whisper that did not con -
ceal her obvious annoyance, “that some of us ” — she stared very
meaningfully at Harry — “might be a little less frivolous 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 over - powered
me. I arose, I settled myself before it, and I gazed into its crystalline
depths . . . and w hat 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 obvious ly.
“It’d be a bit more impressive if she hadn ’t done it about eighty times
before, ” Harry said as they finally 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 extra -concentrated ghost, ” said Ron, chortling, as
they passed the Bloody Baron going in the opposite direction, his wide
eyes staring sinisterly. “At least we didn ’t get homework. I hope
Hermione got loads o ff Professor Vector, I love not working when she
is. . . . ”
 372 ‘

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LIBERATION FRONT

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, debating in whispers with Harry whether he should ask for an
autograph — but then Ron realized that six or seven g irls 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, starting 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
 373 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


them down through six floors, and started down the marble stair - case
into the entrance hall.
“You ’ll see, you ’ll see in a minute! ” said Hermione excitedly. She
turned left at the bottom 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 flight of
stone steps, but instead of ending up in a glo omy underground passage
like the one that led to Snape ’s dun - geon, they found themselves in a
broad stone corridor, brightly 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 painting just behind Hermione. It
showed a gigan tic silver fruit bowl.
“Hermione! ” said Ron, cottoning on. “You ’re trying 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 Liberation Front? I ’m not barging into
that kitchen and trying to make them stop work, I ’m not doing it — ”
“I’m not asking you to! ” Hermione said impatiently. “I came down
here just now, to talk to them all, and I foun d — oh come
on, Harry, I want to show you! ”
 374 ‘

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LIBERATION FRONT

She seized his arm again, pulled him in front of the picture of the giant
fruit bowl, stretched out her forefinger, and tickled 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 glittering brass pots and
pans heaped around the stone walls, and a great brick fire - place at the
other end, when something small hurtled toward him
from the middle of the room, squealing, “Harry P otter, 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 exactly as Harry remem - bered him; the pencil -shaped
nose, the batlike 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
strangest assortment of garments Harry had ever seen; he had done an
even worse job of dressing himself than the wizards at the World Cup.
He was wearing a tea cozy for a hat, on which he had pinned
 375 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


a number of bright badges; a tie patterned 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 tricked Mr. Malfoy into giving Dobby, thereby
setting 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 noticed as he passed them, was
positioned exactly beneath the four House tables above, in the Great
Hall. At the moment, they were clear of food, dinner hav ing 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 little elves were standing around the kitchen,
beaming, bowing, and curtsying as Do bby led Harry past them. They
were all wearing the same uniform: a tea towel stamped with the
Hogwarts crest, and tied, as Winky ’s had been, like a toga. Dobby
stopped in front of the brick fireplace and pointed. “Winky, sir! ” he
said.
Winky was sitting on a stool by the fire. Unlike Dobby, she had
obviously not foraged for clothes. She was wearing a neat little skirt and
blouse with a matching blue hat, which had holes in it for her
 376 ‘

THE
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LIBERATION FRONT

large ears. However, while every one of Dobby ’s strange collection of
garments was so clean and well cared for that it looked brand - new,
Winky was plainly not taking care of her clothes at all. There were soup
stains all down her bl ouse 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, just 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.
Instantly, about six house -elves came trotting up behind him, bearing a
large silver tray laden with a teapot, cups for Harry, Ron, and
Hermione, a milk jug, 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 Potter, sir! ” said Dobby happily. “Dobby came to
see Professor Dumbledore, sir. You see, sir, it is very diffi - cult for a
house -elf who has been dismissed to get a new position, sir, very
difficult indeed — ”
 377 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


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 traveled the country for two whole years, sir, trying to find
work! ” Dobby squeaked. “But Dobby has n’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
Do bby ’s face! Dobby likes work, but he wants to wear clothes and he
wants to be paid, Harry Potter. . . . Dobby likes be - ing free! ”
The Hogwarts house -elves had now started edging away from Dobby,
as though he were carrying something contagious. Winky, h owever,
remained where she was, though there was a definite in - crease in the
volume of her crying.
“And then, Harry Potter, Dobby goes to visit Winky, and finds out
Winky has been freed too, sir! ” said Dobby delightedly.
At this, Winky flung herself for ward off her stool and lay face - down
on the flagged stone floor, beating her tiny fists upon it and positively
screaming with misery. Hermione hastily dropped down to her knees
beside her and tried to comfort her, but nothing she said made the
slightest d ifference. Dobby continued with his story, shouting shrilly
over Winky ’s screeches.
“And then Dobby had the idea, Harry Potter, sir! ‘Why doesn ’t
 378 ‘

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LIBERATION FRONT

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 bright ly, 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 indignantly from the floor,
over Winky ’s continued screaming and fist -beating. “Professor
Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends off, ”
said Dobby, suddenly giving a little shiver, as though the prospect of so
much leis ure 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 glar - ing at
Hermione through her massive brown eyes, her whole face sopping
wet and suddenly furious.
“Winky is a disgraced elf, b ut Winky is not yet getting 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 — ”
 379 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


But at these words, Winky clapped her hands over the holes in her hat,
flattening her ears so that she couldn ’t hear a word, and screeched,
“You is not insulting 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 trouble adjusting, Harry Potter, ” squeaked Dobby
confidentially. “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 house -elf ’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 as ked
him, grinning.
A slightly fearful look came into Dobby ’s immense eyes. “Dobby
— Dobby could, ” he said doubtfully. He squared his
 380 ‘

THE
HOUSE -ELF
LIBERATION FRONT

small shoulders. “Dobby could tell Harry Potter that his old mas -
ters were — were — bad Dark wizards !”
Dobby stood for a moment, quivering all over, horror -struck by his
own daring — then he rushed over to the nearest table and be -
gan 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 Potter, thank you, ” said Dobby breathlessly,
rubbing his head.
“You just need a bit of practice, ” Harry said.
“Practice! ” 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 defiantly. “Dobby doesn ’t care
wha t 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 look - ing 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.
“Wi nky, ” said Hermione firmly, “I’m quite sure Mr. Crouch is get -
ting 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 He rmione.
“You is seeing him here at Hogwarts? ”
“Yes, ” said Hermione, “he and Mr. Bagman are judges in the Tri -
wizard Tournament. ”
 381 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“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 finished their tea, while Dobby chatted hap - pily about
his life as a free elf and his plans for his wages.
“Dobby is going to buy a sweater next, Harry Potter! ” he said happily,
pointing 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 snac ks 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.
 382 ‘

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LIBERATION FRONT

“Thanks a lot! ” Harry said to the elves, who had all clustered around
the door to say good night. “See you, Dobby! ”
“Harry Potter . . . can Dobby come and see you sometimes, 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 en - trance hall again. “All
these years I ’ve been really impressed with Fred and George, nicking
food f rom 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 mar - ble
staircase. “Dobby comin g 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 doubtful.
“Once the shock ’s worn off, and she ’s got used to Hog - warts, she ’ll
see how much better 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. ”
 383 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“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 starting on a chocolate eclair.
“Percy wouldn ’t recognize a joke if it danced naked in front of him
wearing Dobby ’s tea cozy. ”

























 384 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
T W O









THE UNEXPECTED
TASK




otter! Weasley! Will you pay attention ?”
P
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 still had feathers);

they had copied down their homework from the
blackboard ( “Describe, with examples, the ways in which T ransform -
ing Spells must be adapted when performing Cross -Species Switches ”).
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 u p, Ron holding a tin parrot and
Harry, a rubber haddock.
“Now that Potter and Weasley have been kind enough to act
 385 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


their age, ” said Professor McGonagall, with an angry look at the pair of
them as the head of Harry ’s haddock drooped and fell silently 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 traditional part of the Tri - wizard
Tourname nt 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. Parvati Patil nudged her hard i n
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, ” Pro fessor McGonagall continued, “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 stifle the sound. Harry could see what was funny this
time: Professor McGonagall, with her hair in a tight 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 Gryffin - dor student embarrasses the
school in any way. ”
 386 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TASK


The bell rang, and there was the usual scuffle of activity as every - one
packed their bags and swung them onto their shoulders. Professor
McGonag all 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 until the rest of the class had gone, and then said,
“Potter, the champions and their partners — ”
“What partners? ” said Harry.
Professor 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
danc e 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 part - ners 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 traditional, ” said Professor McGonagall firmly. “You are a
Hogwarts champion, and you will do what is expected of you as a
representative of the school. So make sure you get yourself a part - ner,
Potter. ”
“But — I don ’t — ”
 387 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


“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 latter, 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
alternative 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 com - ing ball — or at least
all the girls were, and it was amazing how many girls Hogwarts
suddenly seemed to hold; he had never qui te noticed 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 perfectly we ll 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.
 388 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TA SK


Ron seemed to know what was going on inside Harry ’s head. “Listen,
you ’re not going to have any trouble. You ’re a cham - pion. You ’ve just
beaten a Hungarian Horntail. I bet they ’ll be queuing up to go with
you. ”
In tribute to their recently repaired friendship, Ron had kept the
bitterness 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 matter. 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
laughin g.
“She was a foot taller than me, ” said Harry, still 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 gir ls 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 cham - pion. Then he wondered if this would
bother him if Cho asked him.
On the whole, Harry had to admit that even with the embar - rassing
prospect of opening the ball before him, life had definitely improved
since he had got through the first task. He wasn ’t attract - ing nearly as
much unpleasantness in the corridors anymore, which
 389 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


he suspected had a lot to do with Cedric — he had an idea Cedric
might have told the Hufflepuffs to leave Harry alone, in gratitude for
Harry ’s tip -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 possi - ble
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 Ma gical
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, sitting at a trestle table and preparing
a fresh selection of food with whic h to tempt the skrewts.
“She jus ’ wanted me ter talk about you, Harry, ” Hagrid contin - ued 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 play ed 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 cu t some more. “She can ’t
keep writing 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 delin -
quent! ”
 390 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TASK


“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. ‘ Potter has been crossing lines ever
since he first arrived at this 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. Hag - rid
didn ’t pursue the subject.
The last week of term became increasingly boisterous as it pro - gressed.
Rumors about the Yule Ball were flying everywhere, though Harry
didn ’t believe half of them — for instance, t hat 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.
Exactly who or what the Weird Sisters were Harry didn ’t know, never
having had access to a wizard ’s wir e- less, 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 little Professor Flitwick, gave up trying to
teach them m uch 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
 391 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


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 continuing to teach, they supposed a small thing like Christmas
wasn ’t going to put him off. It was amazing how he could make even
bloody and vicious goblin riots sound as boring as Percy ’s
cauldron -bottom report. Professors McGonagall and M oody kept
them working until 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 nastily around at them all, he informed them that he
would be testing them on poison antido tes during the last lesson of the
term.
“Evil, he is, ” Ron said bitterly that night in the Gryffindor com - mon
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 exactly straining yourself, though, are you? ” said
Hermione, looking at him over the top of her Potions 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 th e
chance that the whole thing would blow up at any second.
“It’s Christmas, Hermione, ” said Harry lazily; he was rereading
Flying with the 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! ”
 392 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TASK


“Like what? ” Harry said as he watched Joey Jenkins of the Can - nons
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 trunk and hadn ’t opened it
since the celebration p arty after the first task. There were still 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 kn ows 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 castle 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 deli vering a letter, ” said Ron. “Why? ” “Because George
wants to invite him to the ball, ” said Fred sar - castically.
“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.
 393 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


“Well, you ’d better 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 embar - rassment.
“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 chatting with Alicia Spinnet near the fire,
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 car - ried
on chatting 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 better 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 load s 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
 394 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TASK


to take the best -looking girl who ’ll have you, even if she ’s com - pletely
horrible? ”
“Er — yeah, that sounds about right, ” said Ron. “I’m going to bed, ”
Hermione snapped, and she swept off to - ward the girls ’ staircase
without another word.

The Hogwarts staff, demonstrating a continued desire to impress the
visitors from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, seemed deter - mined to
show the castle at its best this Christmas. When the dec - orations went
up, Harry noticed that they were the most stunning he had yet seen
inside the school. Everlasting icicles had been at - tached to the
banisters of the marble staircase; the usual twelve Christmas trees in
the Great Hall were bedecked with everything from luminous holly
berries to real, hooting, golden owls , and the suits of armor had all
been bewitched to sing carols whenever any - one passed them. It was
quite something to hear “O Come, All Ye Faithful ” sung by an empty
helmet that only knew half the words. Several times, Filch the caretaker
had to extract 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 still, Harry hadn ’t asked Cho to the
ball. He and Ron were getting very nervous now, though as H arry
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 Myrtle, ” he said gloomily, re -
ferring to the ghost who haunted the girls ’ toilets on the second floor.
“Harry — we ’ve just got to grit our teeth and do it, ” said Ron on
 395 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


Friday morning, in a tone that suggested they were planning the
storming of an impregnable fortress. “When we get back to the
common room tonight, we ’ll both have partners — agreed? ”
“Er . . . okay, ” said Harry.
But every time he glimpsed Cho that day — during break, and then
lunchtime, and once on the way to Histo ry 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 w as bound to have been asked by
somebody else.
He found it hard to concentrate on Snape ’s Potions test, and
consequently forgot to add the key ingredient — a bezoar — meaning
that he received bottom marks. He didn ’t care, though; he was too
busy screwing u p his courage for what he was about to do. When the
bell rang, he grabbed his bag, and hurried to the dun - geon door.
“I’ll meet you at dinner, ” he said to Ron and Hermione, and he dashed
off upstairs.
He ’d just 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 of her classmates.
Harry turned to look a t her and his stomach gave a weird lurch as
though he had missed a step going downstairs.

 396 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TASK


“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! ” said 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 some - one else. ”
“Oh, ” said Harry.
It was odd; a moment before his insides had been writhing like snakes,
but suddenly he didn ’t see m 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 b een filled
with lead in their absence.
Completely forgetting about dinner, he walked slowly back up
 397 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


to Gryffindor Tower, Cho ’s voice echoing in his ears with every step
he took. “ Cedric — Cedric Diggory. ” He had been starting 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 fa ct 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 trilled, straightening her new tinsel hair band
as she swung forward to admit him.
Entering the common room, Harry looked around, and to his surprise
he saw Ron sitting ashen -faced in a distant corner. Ginny was sitting
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
G inny. She looked as though she was fighting back a smile, but she
kept patting 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 just walking past her in the en - trance hall —
she was standing there talking to Diggory — and it sort of came over
me — and I asked her! ”
 398 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TASK


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 grand - mother
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 wasting her time. 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 Potions! 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 Herm ione 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 just
been turned down by girls they asked to the ball! ” said Ginny.
 399 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


That shut Harry and Ron up.
“Thanks a bunch, Ginny, ” said Ron sourly.
“All the good -looking ones taken, Ron? ” said Hermione loftily.
“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 go - ing to
look really stupid if we haven ’t got any, everyone else has . . . ”
“I can ’t come with you, ” said Hermione, now blu shing, “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 flashed 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.
 400 ‘

THE UNEXPECTED
TASK


“Who is it then? ” said Ron sharply.
“I’m not telling you, it ’s her business, ” said Ginny. “Right, ” said
Ron, who looked extremely put out, “this is getting
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 t o the portrait hole,
her head bowed.
Ron goggled at Harry.
“What ’s got into them? ” he demanded.
But Harry had just seen Parvati and Lavender come in through the
portrait 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? ” Parvati
went into a fit of giggles. Harry waited for them to sub - side, his fingers
crossed in the pocket of his robes.
“Yes, all right then, ” she said fina lly, blushing furiously. “Thanks, ” said
Harry, in relief. “Lavender — will you go with Ron? ”
“She ’s going with Seamus, ” said Parvati, and the pair of them giggled
harder than ever.
Harry sighed.
“Can ’t you think of anyone who ’d go with Ron? ” he said, lower - ing
his voice so that Ron wouldn ’t hear.
“What about Hermione Granger? ” said Parvati.
“She ’s going with someone else. ”
Parvati looked astonished.
 401 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


“Ooooh — who ?” she said keenly.
Harry shrugged. “No idea, ” he said. “So what about Ron? ” “Well . . . ”
said Parvati 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
trouble than it was worth, and hoping very much that Padma Patil ’s
nose was dead center.






















 402 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
T H R E E









THE YULE BALL




espite the very heavy load of homework that the fourth
D
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 enjoying himself as fully as possible along with everyone
else. Gryffindor Tower was hardly less crowded now than during
term -time; it seemed to have shrunk slightly 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 c ouple of days of
the holidays, people kept bursting into feather all over the place.
Before long, however, all the Gryffindors had learned to treat food

anybody else offered them with extreme caution, in case it had a
Canary Cream concealed in the center, and George con - fided 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 from
Fred and George in future. He still hadn ’t forgotten Dudley and the
Ton -Tongue Toffee.
 403 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


Snow was falling thickly upon the castle and its grounds now. The pale
blue Beauxbatons carriage looked like a large, chilly, frosted pumpkin
next to the iced gingerbread house that was Ha - grid ’s cab in, while the
Durmstrang 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 t o 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 ro bes! ”
“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 question on her, hoping to startle 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 joking, 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 Malfoy ’s shoulder, “Hello, Pro - fessor
Moody! ”
Malfoy went pale and jumped backward, looking wildly around for
Moody, but he was still up at the staff table, finishing his stew.
“Twitchy little ferret, aren ’t you, Malfoy? ” said Hermione
 404 ‘

THE YULE BALL

scathingly, and she, Harry, and Ron went up the marble staircase
laughing heartily.
“Hermione, ” said Ron, looking sideways at her, suddenly frown - ing,
“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 sudd enly smiled very mischievously, and Harry noticed 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 just . . . let her carry on a bit. ”
She smiled even more widely. “Mum and Dad won ’t be too pleased.
I’ve been trying to persuade them to let me shrink them for ages, but
they wanted me to carry on with my braces. You k now, they ’re dentists,
they just don ’t think teeth and magic should — look! Pigwidgeon ’s
back! ”
Ron ’s tiny owl was twittering madly on the top of the icicle - laden
banisters, a scroll of parchment tied to his leg. People passing him were
pointing and laug hing, and a group of third -year girls
paused and said, “Oh look at the weeny owl! Isn ’t he cute ?”
“Stupid little 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! ”
 405 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


Pigwidgeon hooted happily, his head protruding over Ron ’s fist. The
third -year girls all looked very shocked.
“Clear off! ” Ron snapped at them, waving the fist holding Pig -
widgeon, 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 scuttled away looking scandalized. He pulled Sir - ius ’s
reply off Pigwidgeon ’s leg, Harry pocketed it, and they hurried back to
Gryffindor Tower to read it.
Everyone in the common room was much too busy in letting 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,
Congratulations on getting past the Horntail. Whoever put your name in
that goblet shouldn ’t be feeling too happy right now! I was going to suggest a
Conjunctivitis Curse, as a
dragon ’s eyes are its 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 the tournament ’s got plenty more opportunity if they ’re trying
to hurt you. Keep your eyes open — particularly when the person we
discussed is
around — and concentrate on keeping yourself out of trouble.
Keep in touch, I still want to hear about anything unusual.


 406 ‘

THE YULE BALL

“He sounds exactly like Moody, ” said Harry quietly, tucking the letter
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 still 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, spotting the look on Hermione ’s face,
he said, “Come on, how ’m I supposed to concentrate 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 exciting 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, jumping back - ward
with his long fingers over his mouth. “Dobby is only wanting to wish
Harry Potter ‘Merry Christmas ’ and bring him a present, sir! Harry
Potter did say Dobby could come and see him some - times, sir! ”
“It’s okay, ” said Harry, still breathing rather faster than usual,
 407 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


while his heart rate returned to normal. “Just — just 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, spotting 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 ne xt to Harry ’s bed, still 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 g ot something for you too. ”
It was a lie; he hadn ’t bought anything for Dobby at all, but he quickly
opened his trunk and pulled out a particularly 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 extra -knobbly was
that Harry had been using them to cush - ion 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 wa s utterly delighted.
 408 ‘

THE YULE BALL

“Socks are Dobby ’s favorite, favorite clothes, sir! ” he said, rip - ping 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 bottom 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, grin - ning
over from his own bed, which was now strewn 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 just unwrapped, and
the hand -knitted 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 Potter ’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 slightly pink around the ears, though
he looked rather pleased all the sa me. “Wow, Harry — ” He had just
opened Harry ’s present, a Chudley Cannon hat. “Cool! ” He jammed 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 himsel f, sir! ” the elf said happily. “He is
buying the wool out of his wages, sir! ”
The left sock was bright red and had a pattern of broomsticks upon it;
the right sock was green with a pattern of Snitches. “They ’re . . . they ’re
really . . . well, thanks, Dob by, ” said Harry,
 409 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


and he pulled them on, causing Dobby ’s eyes to leak with happi - ness
again.
“Dobby must go now, sir, we is already making Christmas dinner in
the kitchens! ” said Dobby, and he hurried out of the dor - mitory,
waving good -bye to Ron and the others as he passed. Harry ’s other
presents were much more satisfactory than Dobby ’s odd socks — with
the obvious exception of the Dursleys ’, which consisted of a single
tis sue, an all -time low — Harry sup - posed they too were remembering
the Ton -Tongue Toffee.
Hermione had given Harry a book called Quidditch Teams of
Britain and Ireland ; Ron, a bulging bag of Dungbombs; Sirius, a
handy penknife with attachments to unl ock any lock and undo any
knot; and Hagrid, a vast box of sweets including all Harry ’s fa - vorites:
Bertie Bott ’s Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Drooble ’s Best
Blowing Gum, and Fizzing Whizbees. There was also, of course, Mrs.
Weasley ’s usual packag e, 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 enjoying their presents, then
returned to the Great Hall for a magnificent lunch, which included at
least a hundred turkeys and Christmas pud - dings, and large piles of
Cribbage ’s Wizarding Crackers.
They went out onto the grounds in the afternoon; the snow was
untouched except for the deep channels made by the Durmstrang and
Beauxbatons students on their way up to the castle. Hermione chose to
watch Harry and the Weasleys ’ snowball fight rather than
 410 ‘

THE YULE BALL

join in, and at five o ’clock said she was going back upstairs to get
ready for the ball.
“What, you need three hours? ” said Ron, looking at her incred - ulously
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 after 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 oth - ers
abandoned their snowball fight and trooped back to the com - mon
room. The Fat Lady was sitting in her frame with her friend Violet
from downstairs, both of them extremely tipsy, empty boxes of
chocolate liqueurs littering the bottom of her picture.
“Lairy fights, that ’s the one! ” she giggled when they gave the password,
and she swung forwar d 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 loo k on his face. There was just no getting
around the fact that his robes looked more like a dress than anything
else. In a desperate attempt 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 lace -free, although he had - n’t done a very neat job, and the
edges still looked depressingly frayed as the boys set off downstairs.
“I still 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.
 411 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


The common room looked strange, full of people wearing dif - ferent
colors instead of the usual mass of black. Parvati was waiting for Harry
at the foot of the stairs. She looked very pretty indeed, in robes of
shocking pink, with her long dark plait braided with gold, and gold
bracelets glimmering at her wrists. H arry 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 entrance 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 just stay in the common room. Fred winked at Harry
as he passed him on the way out of the portrait hole.
The entrance hall was packed with students too, all milling a round
waiting for eight o ’clock, when the doors to the Great Hall would be
thrown open. Those people who were meeting partners from different
Houses were edging through the crowd trying to find one another.
Parvati found her sister, Padma, and led her over to Harry and Ron.
“Hi, ” said Padma, who was looking just as pretty as Parvati in robes of
bright turquoise. She didn ’t look too enthusiastic about having Ron as
a partner, though; her dark eyes lingered on the frayed neck and sleeves
of his dress robes a s 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 slightly to hide behind Harry, because Fleur
Delacour was passing, looking stunning in robes of silver -gray satin,
and acco mpanied by the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain,
 412 ‘

THE YULE BALL

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 pi nk 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
D urmstrang students entered with Professor Karkaroff. Krum was at
the front of the party, accompanied by a pretty girl in blue robes Harry
didn ’t know. Over their heads he saw that an area of lawn right in front
of the castle had been transformed into a sor t of grotto full of fairy
lights — meaning hundreds of actual living fairies were sitting in the
rosebushes that had been conjured there, and fluttering over the
statues of what seemed to be Father Christ - mas and his reindeer.
Then Professor McGonagall ’s voice called, “Champions over here,
please! ”
Parvati readjusted her bangles, beaming; she and Harry said “See you
in a minute ” to Ron and Padma and walked forward, the chat - tering
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 of her 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 re st of the students had sat
down. Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies stationed
 413 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


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 some - thing
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 hold ing herself
differently, 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 true — but the reduction in the size
of her front teeth was more noticeable than ever; Harry couldn ’t
understand how he hadn ’t spotted it before.
“Hi, Harry! ” she said. “Hi, Parvati! ”
Parvati was gazing at Hermione in unflattering 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 with out looking at her.
Once everyone else was settled in the Hall, Professor McGona - gall
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 ap - plauded as
they entered and started wal king up toward a large round table at the
top of the Hall, where the judges were sitting.
 414 ‘

THE YULE BALL

The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost, with
hundreds of garlands of mistletoe 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 ov er his feet. Parvati seemed to be
enjoying herself; she was beaming around at everybody, steer - ing
Harry so forcefully that he felt as though he were a show dog she was
putting 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 Bag man, tonight in
robes of bright purple with large yellow stars, was clap - ping as
enthusiastically as any of the students; and Madame Maxime, who had
changed her usual uniform of black satin 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 smug - ness that Harry
thought it ought to be fined.
“I’ve been promoted, ” Percy said before Harry could even ask, and
from his tone, he migh t have been announcing his election as supreme
ruler of the universe. “I’m now Mr. Crouch ’s personal as - sistant, and
I’m here representing him. ”
 415 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


“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 still quite brilliant, of course, the mind
remains as great as it ever was. But the World Cup was a fiasco for the
whole Ministry, and then, Mr. Crouch suffered a huge personal shock
with the misbehavior of that house -elf of his, Blinky, or whatever she
was called. Na turally, he dismissed her im - mediately afterward, but —
well, as I say, he ’s getting 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 th e Cup to deal
with — that revolt - ing Skeeter woman buzzing around — no, poor
man, he ’s having a well earned, quiet Christmas. I ’m just glad he knew
he had some - one 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 glittering golden plates, but small menus were
lying in front of each of them. Harry picked his up unc ertainly and
looked around — there were no waiters. Dum - bledore, however,
looked carefully down at his own menu, then said very clearly to his
plate, “Pork chops! ”
And pork chops appeared. Getting the idea, the rest of the table placed
their orders wit h their plates too. Harry glanced up at Hermione to see
how she felt about this new and more compli - cated method of dining
— surely it meant plenty of extra work for the house -elves? — but for
once, Hermione didn ’t seem to be
 416 ‘

THE YULE BALL

thinking about S.P.E.W. She was deep in talk with Viktor Krum and
hardly seemed to notice 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 enthusias - tically at
that.
“Veil, ve have a castle also, not as big as this, nor as comfortable, I am
thinking, ” he was telling Hermione. “Ve have just four floors, and the
fires are lit only for m agical purposes. But ve have grounds larger even
than these — though in vinter, ve have very little day - light, so ve are
not enjoying 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 exactly where to find us! ” Dumbledore smiled, his
eyes twinkling. “Igor, all this secrecy . . . one would almost think you
didn ’t want vis itors. ”
“Well, Dumbledore, ” said Karkaroff, displaying his yellowing teeth to
their fullest extent, “we are all protective of our private domains, are we
not? Do we not jealously guard the halls of learn - ing that have been
entrusted 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 ’ se - crets, 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 beautifully
proportioned room I have never seen before, containing a really rather
magnificent collection of cham - ber pots. When I went back to
investigate more closely, I discov - ered that the room had vanished. But
I must keep an eye out for it.
 417 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


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 ex -
ceptionally full bladder. ”
Harry snorted into his plate of goulash. Percy frowned, but Harry
could have sworn Dumbledore had given him a very small wink.
Meanwhile Fleur Delacour was criticizing the Hogwarts decora - tions
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, glittering
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 si tting 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 glitter - ing in the candlelight.
Hermione wa s now teaching Krum to say her name properly; he kept
calling her “Hermy -own. ”
 418 ‘

THE YULE BALL

“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
conjured a raised platform in to 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 trooped up onto the stage to wildly en -
thusiastic applause; they were all extremely 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 watch - ing them
that he had almost forgotten what was coming, suddenly realized that
the lanterns on all the other tables had gon e 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 Sis - ters
struck up a slow, mournful tune; Harry walked onto the br ightly lit
dance floor, carefully avoiding catching anyone ’s eye (he could see
Seamus and Dean waving at him and sniggering), and next moment,
Parvati 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 (Parvati 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 lo nger the
center of attention. Neville and Ginny were dancing nearby — he
could see Ginny wincing frequently as Neville trod
 419 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


on her feet — and Dumbledore was waltzing with Madame Maxime.
He was so dwarfed by her that the top of his pointed hat barely tickled
her chin; however, she moved very gracefully for a woman so large.
Mad -Eye Moody was doing an extremely ungainly two -step with
Professor Sinistra, who was nervously avoiding hi s wooden leg.
“Nice socks, Potter, ” 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 !” Parvati whispered as Moody clunked away . “I
don ’t think that eye should be allowed !”
Harry heard the final, quavering note from the bagpipe with re - lief.
The Weird Sisters stopped playing, applause filled the hall once more,
and Harry let go of Parvati 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 exhuberantly that people around them
were backing away in fear of injury, and over to the table where Ron
and Padma were sitting.
“How ’s it going? ” Harry asked Ron, sitting down and opening a bottle
of butterbeer.
Ron didn ’t answer. He was glaring at Hermione and Krum, who were
dancing nearby. Padma was sitting with her arms and legs crossed, one
foot jiggling in time to the music. Every now and then she threw a
disgruntled look at Ron, who was completely ignoring
 420 ‘

THE YULE BALL

her. Parvati 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
Parvati, and she went off with the boy from Beauxbatons. When the
song ended, she did not return. Hermione came over and sat down in
Parvati ’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.
“Viktor ’s just 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 Durmstrang! ” spat Ron. “He ’s competing against Harry!
Against Hogwarts! You — you ’re — ” Ron was obviously casting
around for words strong 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? ”
 421 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


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 try and talk to me, but he hadn ’t
been able to pluck up the courage! ”
Hermione s aid 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 just trying to get closer to Harry — get
inside information 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 has n’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
outraged. “ 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.
 422 ‘

THE YULE BALL

“This whole tournament ’s supposed to be about getting 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 quietly, “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 jumped to her feet and stormed off across the dance floor,
disappearing into the crowd. Ron watched her go with a mix - ture 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 join Parvati and
the Beauxbatons boy, who conjured up one of his friends to join them
so fast that Harry could have sworn he had z oomed 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
bustled over, rubbing his hands together and looking
 423 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


extremely pompous. “Excellent! That ’s the whole point, you know —
international 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 cutting 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 ap - plauded 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 Ministry
members? ” Percy hissed, watching Fred and George suspiciously.
“ No respect . . . ”
Ludo Bagman shook off Fred and George fairly quickly, how - ever,
and, spotting 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 just
telling me a bit more about those fake wands of theirs. Won - dering if
I could advise them on the marketing. 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 mo - ment he
got home. Apparently Fred and George ’s plans had grown even more
ambitious lately, if they were hoping to sell to the pub - lic . Bagman
opened his mouth to ask Harry something, but Percy diverted him.
 424 ‘

THE YULE BALL

“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 little 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 time, ” said Percy
importantly, “but in the meantime, I ’m more than willing to take up
the slack. Of course, it ’s not all attending 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 coun - try? 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. . . . ”
Pretending they wanted more drinks, Harry and Ron left the table,
edged around the dance floor, and slipped out into the en - trance hall .
The front doors stood open, and the fluttering fairy lights in the rose
garden winked and twinkled as they went down the front steps, where
they found themselves surrounded by bushes; winding, ornamental
paths; and large stone statues. Harry could hear s plashing water, which
sounded like a fountain. Here and there, people were sitting on carved
benches. He and Ron set off along one of the winding paths through
the rosebushes, but they had gone only a short way when they heard an
unpleasantly familiar voic e.
“. . . don ’t see what there is to fuss about, Igor. ”
 425 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


“Severus, you cannot pretend this isn ’t happening! ” Karkaroff ’s voice
sounded anxious and hushed, as though keen not to be over - heard.
“It’s been getting clearer and clearer for months. I am be - coming
seriously concerned, I can ’t deny it — ”
“Then flee, ” said Snape ’s voice curtly. “Flee — I will make your
excuses. I, however, am remaining at Hogwarts. ”
Snape and Karkaroff came aroun d the corner. Snape had his wand out
and was blasting rosebushes apart, his expression most ill -natured.
Squeals issued from many of the bushes, and dark shapes emerged
from them.
“Ten points from Ravenclaw, Fawcett! ” Snape snarled as a girl ran past
him. “And ten points from Hufflepuff too, Stebbins! ” as a boy went
rushing after her. “And what are you two doing? ” he added, catching
sight of Harry and Ron on the path ahead. Karkaroff, Harry saw,
looked slightly discomposed to see them standin g there. His hand
went nervously to his goatee, and he began winding it around his
finger.
“We ’re walking, ” Ron told Snape shortly. “Not against the law, is it? ”
“Keep walking, then! ” Snape snarled, and he brushed past them, his
long black cloak billo wing out behind him. Karkaroff hurried away
after Snape. Harry and Ron continued down the path. “What ’s got
Karkaroff all worried? ” Ron muttered.
“And since when have he and Snape been on first -name terms? ” said
Harry slowly.
They had reached a large stone reindeer now, over which they could see
the sparkling jets of a tall fountain. The shadowy out - lines of two
enormous people were visible on a stone bench,

 426 ‘

THE YULE BALL

watching the water in the moonlight. And then Harry heard Hagrid
speak.
“Momen ’ I saw yeh, I knew, ” he was saying, in an oddly husky voice.
Harry and Ron froze. This didn ’t sound like the sort of scene they
ought to walk in on, somehow. . . . Harry l ooked around, back up the
path, and saw Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies stand - ing
half -concealed in a rosebush nearby. He tapped Ron on the shoulder
and jerked his head toward them, meaning that they could easily sneak
off that way without being noticed ( Fleur and Davies looked very busy
to Harry), but Ron, eyes widening in hor - ror at the sight of Fleur,
shook his head vigorously, and pulled Harry deeper into the shadows
behind the reindeer.
“What did you know, ’Agrid? ” said Madame Maxime, a purr in her low
voice.
Harry definitely didn ’t want to listen to this; he knew Hagrid would
hate to be overheard in a situation like this (he certainly would have) —
if it had been possible he would have put his fin - gers in his ears and
hummed loudly, but that w asn ’t really an op - tion. Instead he tried to
interest himself in a beetle crawling along the stone reindeer ’s back, but
the beetle just wasn ’t interesting enough to block out Hagrid ’s next
words.
“I jus ’ knew . . . knew you were like me. . . . Was it ye r mother or yer
father? ”
“I — I don ’t know what you mean, ’Agrid. . . . ” “It was my mother, ”
said Hagrid quietly. “She was one o ’ the las ’ ones in Britain. ’Course, I
can ’ remember her too well . . . she left, see. When I was abou ’ three.
She wasn ’ really the maternal sort.
 427 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


Well . . . it ’s not in their natures, is it? Dunno what happened to her . . .
might be dead fer all I know. . . . ”
Madame Maxime didn ’t say anything. And Harry, in spite of himself,
took his eyes off the beetle and looked over the top of the reindeer ’s
antlers, listening. . . . He had never heard Hagrid talk about his
childhood before.
“Me dad was broken -hearted when she wen ’. Tiny li ttle bloke, my dad
was. By the time I was six I could lift him up an ’ put him on top o ’ the
dresser if he annoyed me. Used ter make him laugh. . . . ” Hagrid ’s deep
voice broke. Madame Maxime was lis - tening, motionless, apparently
staring at the silvery fo untain. “Dad raised me . . . but he died, o ’ course,
jus ’ after I started school. Sorta had ter make me own way after that.
Dumbledore was a real help, mind. Very kind ter me, he was. . . . ”
Hagrid pulled out a large spotted silk handkerchief and blew h is nose
heavily.
“So . . . anyway . . . enough abou ’ me. What about you? Which side you
got it on? ”
But Madame Maxime had suddenly got to her feet. “It is chilly, ” she
said — but whatever the weather was doing, it was nowhere near as
cold as her voice. “I think I will go in now. ” “Eh? ” said Hagrid blankly.
“No, don ’ go! I ’ve — I’ve never met another one before! ”
“Anuzzer what, precisely? ” said Madame Maxime, her tone icy.
Harry could have told Hagrid it was be st not to answer; he stood there
in the shadows gritting his teeth, hoping against hope he wouldn ’t —
but it was no good.
“Another half -giant, o ’ course! ” said Hagrid.
“’Ow dare you! ” shrieked Madame Maxime. Her voice exploded
 428 ‘

THE YULE BALL

through the peaceful night air like a foghorn; behind him, Harry heard
Fleur and Roger fall out of their rosebush. “I ’ave nevair been
more insulted in my life! ’Alf -giant? Moi ? I ’ave — I ’ave big bones! ”
She stormed away; great multicolored swarms of fairies rose into the
air as she passed, angrily pushing aside bushes. Hagrid was still sitting
on the bench, staring after her. It was much too dark to make out his
expression. Then, after ab out a minute, he stood up and strode away,
not back to the castle, but off out into the dark grounds in the direction
of his cabin.
“C’mon, ” Harry said, very quietly to Ron. “Let ’s go. . . . ” But
Ron didn ’t move.
“What ’s up? ” said Harry, looking at him.
Ron looked around at Harry, his expression very serious indeed.
“Did you know? ” he whispered. “About Hagrid being half -giant? ”
“No, ” Harry said, shrugging. “So what? ”
He knew immediately, from the look Ron was giving him, that he was
once again reveali ng his ignorance of the wizarding world. Brought up
by the Dursleys, there were many things that wizards took for granted
that were revelations to Harry, but these surprises had become fewer
with each successive year. Now, however, he could tell that most
wizards would not have said “So what? ” upon finding out that one of
their friends had a giantess for a mother. “I’ll explain inside, ” said Ron
quietly, “c’mon. . . . ”
Fleur and Roger Davies had disappeared, probably into a more private
clump of bushes. Harry and Ron returned to the Great Hall. Parvati
and Padma were now sitting at a distant table with a whole crowd of
Beauxbatons boys, and Hermione was once more dancing with Krum.
Harry and Ron sat down at a table far re - moved from the dance floor.
 42 9 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


“So? ” Harry prompted Ron. “What ’s the problem with giants? ” “Well,
they ’re . . . they ’re . . . ” Ron struggled for words. “. . . not very nice, ” he
finished lamely.
“Who cares? ” Harry said. “There ’s nothing wrong with Hagrid! ” “I
know there isn ’t, but . . . blimey, no wonder he keeps it quiet, ” Ron said,
shaking his head. “I always thought he ’d got in the way of a bad
Engorgement Charm when he was a kid or some - thing. Didn ’t like to
mention it. . . .”
“But what ’s it matter if his mother was a giantess? ” said Harry.
“Well . . . no one who knows him will care, ’cos they ’ll know he ’s not
dangerous, ” said Ron slowly. “But . . . Harry, they ’re just vicious, giants.
It’s like Hagrid said, it ’s in their natures, they ’re like trolls . . . they just
like killing, everyone knows that. There aren ’t any left in Britain now,
though. ”
“What happened to them? ”
“Well, they were dying out anyway, and then loads got them - selves
killed by Aurors. There ’re suppo sed to be giants abroad, though. . . .
They hide out in mountains mostly. . . . ”
“I don ’t know who Maxime thinks she ’s kidding, ” Harry said,
watching Madame Maxime sitting alone at the judges ’ table, looking
very somber. “If Hagrid ’s half -giant, she definitely is. Big bones . . . the
only thing that ’s got bigger bones than her is a dinosaur. ”
Harry and Ron spent the rest of the ball discussing giants in their
corner, neither of them having any inclination to dance. Harry tried
not t o watch Cho and Cedric too much; it gave him a strong desire to
kick something.
When the Weird Sisters finished playing at midnight, everyone gave
them a last, loud round of applause and started to wend their way into
the entrance hall. Many people were e xpressing the wish

 430 ‘

THE YULE BALL

that the ball could have gone on longer, but Harry was perfectly happy
to be going to bed; as far as he was concerned, the evening hadn ’t
been much fun.
Out in the entrance hall, Harry and Ron saw Hermione saying good
night to Krum before he went back to the Durmstrang ship. She gave
Ron a very cold look and swept past him up the marble staircase
without speaking. Harry and Ron followed her, but halfway u p the
staircase Harry heard someone calling him.
“Hey — Harry! ”
It was Cedric Diggory. Harry could see Cho waiting for him in the
entrance hall below.
“Yeah? ” said Harry coldly as Cedric ran up the stairs toward him.
Cedric looked as though he didn ’t want to say whatever it was in front
of Ron, who shrugged, looking bad -tempered, and continued to climb
the stairs.
“Listen . . . ” Cedric lowered his voice as Ron disappeared. “I owe you
one for telling me about the dragons. You know that golden egg? Does
yours wail when you open it? ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry.
“Well . . . take a bath, okay? ”
“What? ”
“Take a bath, and — er — take the egg with you, and — er — just mull
things over in the hot water. It ’ll help you think. . . . Trust me.
Harry stared at him.
“Tell you what, ” Cedric said, “use the prefects ’ bathroom. Fourth
door to the left of that statue of Boris the Bewildered on the fifth floor.
Password ’s ‘pine fresh. ’ Gotta go . . . want to say good night — ”
 431 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -THREE


He grinned at Harry again and hurried back down the stairs to Cho.
Harry walked back to Gryffindor Tower alone. That had been
extremely strange advice. Why would a bath help him to work out what
the wailing egg meant? Was Cedric pulling his leg? Was he trying to
make Harry look like a fool, so Cho would like him even more by
comparison?
The Fat Lady and her friend Vi were snoozing in the picture over the
portrait hole. Harry had to yell “Fai ry lights! ” before he woke them up,
and when he did, they were extremely irritated. He climbed into the
common room and found Ron and Hermione having a blazing row.
Standing ten feet apart, they were bellowing at each other, each scarlet
in the face.
“We ll, if you don ’t like it, you know what the solution is, don ’t you? ”
yelled Hermione; her hair was coming down out of its ele - gant bun
now, and her face was screwed up in anger.
“Oh yeah? ” Ron yelled back. “What ’s that? ”
“Next time there ’s a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as
a last resort! ”
Ron mouthed soundlessly like a goldfish out of water as Hermione
turned on her heel and stormed up the girls ’ staircase to bed. Ron
turned to look at Harry.
“Well, ” he sputtered, lo oking thunderstruck, “well — that just proves
— completely missed the point — ”
Harry didn ’t say anything. He liked being back on speaking terms with
Ron too much to speak his mind right now — but he somehow
thought that Hermione had gotten the point much bet - ter than Ron
had.
 432 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
F O U R









RITA SKEETER ’ S
SCOOP




verybody got up late on Boxing Day. The Gryffindor com -
E
yawns punctuating the lazy conversations. Hermione ’s hair was bushy
again; she confessed to Harry that she had used liberal amounts of
Sleekeazy ’s Hair Potion on it for the ball, “but it ’s way too much
bother to do every day, ” she said matter -of -factly, scratching a purring
Crookshanks behind the ears.
Ron and Hermione seemed to have reached an unspoken agree - ment

not to discuss their argument. They were being quite friendly to each
other, though oddly formal. Ron and Harry wasted no time in telling
Hermione about the conversation they had overheard be - tween
Madame Maxime and Hagrid, but Hermione didn ’t seem to find the
news that Hagrid was a half -giant nearly as sh ocking as Ron did.
“Well, I thought he must be, ” she said, shrugging. “I knew he couldn ’t
be pure giant because they ’re about twenty feet tall. But
 433 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


honestly, all this hysteria about giants. They can ’t all be horri -
ble. . . . It ’s the same sort of prejudice that people have toward
werewolves. . . . It ’s just bigotry, isn ’t it? ”
Ron looked as though he would have liked to reply scathingly, b ut
perhaps he didn ’t want another row, because he contented him - self
with shaking his head disbelievingly while Hermione wasn ’t looking.
It was time now to think of the homework they had neglected during
the first week of the holidays. Everybody seemed t o be feeling rather
flat now that Christmas was over — everybody except Harry, that is,
who was starting (once again) to feel slightly nervous. The trouble was
that February the twenty -fourth looked a lot closer from this side of
Christmas, and he still ha dn ’t done any - thing about working out the
clue inside the golden egg. He there - fore started taking the egg out of
his trunk every time he went up to the dormitory, opening it, and
listening intently, hoping that this time it would make some sense. He
str ained to think what the sound reminded him of, apart from thirty
musical saws, but he had never heard anything else like it. He closed
the egg, shook it vigor - ously, and opened it again to see if the sound
had changed, but it hadn ’t. He tried asking the e gg questions, shouting
over all the wailing, but nothing happened. He even threw the egg
across the room — though he hadn ’t really expected that to help.
Harry had not forgotten the hint that Cedric had given him, but his
less -than -friendly feelings tow ard Cedric just now meant that he was
keen not to take his help if he could avoid it. In any case, it seemed to
him that if Cedric had really wanted to give Harry a hand, he would
have been a lot more explicit. He, Harry, had told Cedric exactly what
was coming in the first task — and Cedric ’s
 434 ‘

RITA SKEETER ’S
SCOOP


idea of a fair exchange had been to tell Harry to take a bath. Well, he
didn ’t need that sort of rubbishy help — not from someone who
kept walking down corridors hand in hand with Cho, anyway. And so
the first day of the new term arrived, and Harry set off to lessons,
weighed down with books, parchment, and quills as usual, but also
with the lurking worry of the egg heavy in his stomach, as though he
were carrying that around with him too.
Snow was still thick upon the grounds, and the greenhouse win - dows
were covered in condensation so thick that they couldn ’t see out of
them in Herbology. Nobody was looking forwa rd to Care of Magical
Creatures much in this weather, though as Ron said, the skrewts would
probably warm them up nicely, either by chasing them, or blasting off
so forcefully that Hagrid ’s cabin would catch fire.
When they arrived at Hagrid ’s cabin, ho wever, they found an el - derly
witch with closely cropped gray hair and a very prominent chin
standing before his front door.
“Hurry up, now, the bell rang five minutes ago, ” she barked at them as
they struggled toward her through the snow.
“Who ’re you ?” said Ron, staring at her. “Where ’s Hagrid? ” “My name
is Professor Grubbly -Plank, ” she said briskly. “I am your temporary
Care of Magical Creatures teacher. ”
“Where ’s Hagrid? ” Harry repeated loudly.
“He is indisposed, ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank shortly. Soft and
unpleasant laughter reached Harry ’s ears. He turned; Draco Malfoy
and the rest of the Slytherins were joining the class. All of them looked
gleeful, and none of them looked surprised to see Professor
Grubbly -Plank.
“This way, please, ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank, and she strode
 435 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


off around the paddock where the Beauxbatons horses were shiver -
ing. Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed her, looking back over their
shoulders at Hagrid ’s cabin. All the curtains were closed. Was Hagrid
in there, alone and ill?
“What ’s wrong with Hagrid? ” Harry said, hurrying to catch up with
Professor Grubbly -Plank.
“Never you mind, ” she said as though she thought he was being nosy.
“I do mind, though, ” said Harry hotly. “What ’s up with him? ”
Professor Grubbly -Plank acted as though she couldn ’t hear him. She
led them past the paddock where the huge Beauxbatons horses were
standing, huddled against the cold, and toward a tree on the edge of the
forest, where a large and beautiful unicorn was tethered. Many of the
girls “ooooohed! ” at the sight of the unicorn.
“Oh it ’s so beautiful! ” whispered Lavender Brown. “How did she get it?
They ’re supposed to be really hard to catch! ”
The unicorn was so brightly white it made the snow all around look
gray. It was pawing the ground nervously with its golden hooves and
throwing back its horned head.
“Boys keep back! ” barked Professor Grub bly -Plank, throwing out an
arm and catching Harry hard in the chest. “They prefer the woman ’s
touch, unicorns. Girls to the front, and approach with care, come on,
easy does it. . . . ”
She and the girls walked slowly forward toward the unicorn, leaving
the boys standing near the paddock fence, watching. The moment
Professor Grubbly -Plank was out of earshot, Harry turned to Ron.
“What d ’you reckon ’s wrong with him? You don ’t think a skrewt — ?”
 436 ‘

RITA SKEETER ’S
SCOOP


“Oh he hasn ’t been attacked, Potter, if that ’s what you ’re think - ing, ”
said Malfoy softly. “No, he ’s just too ashamed to show his big, ugly
face. ”
“What d ’you mean? ” said Harry sharply.
Malfoy put his hand inside the pocket of his robes and pulled out a
folded page of newsprint.
“There you go, ” he said. “Hate to break it to you, Potter. . . . ” He
smirked as Harry snatched the page, unfolded it, and read it, with Ron,
Seamus, Dean, and Neville looking over his shoulder. It was an article
topped with a picture of Hagrid looking extremely shifty.
DUMBLEDORE ’S GIANT MISTAKE
Albus Dumbledore, eccentric Headmaster of Hog -
warts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has never
been afraid to mak e controversial staff appoint -
ments, writes Rita Skeeter, Special Correspondent. In
September of this year, he hired Alastor “Mad -Eye ”
Moody, the notoriously jinx -happy ex -Auror, to teach
Defense Against the Dark Arts, a decision that caused
many ra ised eyebrows at the Ministry of Magic, given
Moody ’s well -known habit of at - tacking anybody who
makes a sudden movement in his presence. Mad -Eye
Moody, however, looks responsible and kindly when
set beside the part - human Dumbledore employs to
teach Care of Magical Creatures.
Rubeus Hagrid, who admits to being expelled from
Hogwarts in his third year, has enjoyed the
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TWENTY -FOUR


position of gamekeeper at the school ever since, a job
secured for him by Dumbledore. Last year, however,
Hagrid used his mysterious influence over the
headmaster to secure the additional post of Care of
Magical Creatures teacher, over the heads of many
better -qualified candidates.
An alarmingly large and ferocious -looking man,
Hagrid has been using his newfound authority to
terrify the students in his care with a succession of
horrific creatures. While Dumbledore turns a blind eye,
Hagrid has maimed several pupils during a series of
lessons that many admit to being “very frightening. ”
“I was attacked by a hippogriff, and my friend Vincent
Crabbe got a bad bite off a flobberworm, ” says Draco
Malfoy, a fourth -year student. “We all hate Hagrid, but
we ’re just too scared to say anything .”
Hagrid has no intention of ceasing his campaign of
intimidation, however. In conversation with a
Daily Prophet reporter last month, he admitted
breeding creatures he has dubbed “Blast -Ended
Skrewts, ” highly dangerous crosses between manti -
cores a nd fire -crabs. The creation of new breeds of
magical creature is, of course, an activity usually closely
observed by the Department for the Regu - lation and
Control of Magical Creatures. Hagrid, however,
considers himself to be above such petty restriction s.
 438 ‘

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“I was just having some fun, ” he says, before hastily
changing the subject.
As if this were not enough, the Daily Prophet has
now unearthed evidence that Hagrid is not — as he
has always pretended — a pure -blood wizard. He is
not, in fact, even pure human. His mother, we can
exclusively reveal, is none other than the giantess
Fridwulfa, whose whereabouts are cur - rently
unknown.
Bloodthirsty and brutal, the giants brought themselves
to the point of extinction by warring amongst
themselves during the last century. The handful that
remained joined the ranks of He -
Who -Must -Not -Be -Named, and were responsible for
some of the worst mass Muggle killings of his reign of
terror.
While many of the giants who served He -Who -
Must -Not -Be -Named were killed by Aurors work - ing
against the Dark Side, Fridwulfa was not among them.
It is possible she escaped to one of the giant
communities still existing in foreign mountain ranges.
If his antics during Care of Mag - ical Creatures lessons
are any guide, however, Frid - wulfa ’s son appears to
have inherited her brutal nature.
In a bizarre twist, Hagrid is reputed to have developed
a close friendship with the boy who brought around
You -Know -Who ’s fall from power — thereby driving
Hagrid ’s own mother,
 439 ‘

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TWENTY -FOUR


like the rest of You -Know -Who ’s supporters, into
hiding. Perhaps Harry Potter is unaware of the un -
pleasant truth about his large friend — but Albus
Dumbledore surely has a duty to ensure that Harry
Potter, along with his fellow students, is warned
about the dangers of associating with part -giants.

Harry finished reading and looked up at Ron, whose mouth was
hanging open.
“How did she find out? ” he whispered.
But that wasn ’t what was bothering Harry.
“What d ’you mean, ‘we all hate Hagrid ’?” Harry spat at Malfoy.
“What ’s this rubbish about him ” — he pointed at Crabbe — “get -
ting a bad bite off a flobberworm? They haven ’t even got teeth! ”
Crabbe was sniggering, apparently very pleased with himself. “Well, I
think this should put an end to the oaf ’s teaching ca - reer, ” said Malfoy,
his eyes glinting. “Half -giant . . . and there was me thinking he ’d just
swallowed a bottle of Skele -Gro when he was young. . . . None of the
mummies and daddies are going to like this at all. . . . They ’ll be worried
he ’ll eat their kids, ha, ha. . . . ” “You — ”
“Are you paying attention over there ?”
Professor Grubbly -Plank ’s voice carried over to the boys; the girls
were all clustered around the unicorn now, stroking it. Harry
was so angry that the Daily Prophet article shook in his hands as he
turned to stare unseeingly at the unicorn, whos e many magical
properties Professor Grubbly -Plank was now enumerating in a loud
voice, so that the boys could hear too.
“I hope she stays, that woman! ” said Parvati Patil when the lesson
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had ended and they were all heading back to the castle for lunch.
“That ’s more what I thought Care of Magical Creatures would be
like . . . proper creatures like unicorns, not monsters. . . . ”
“What about Hagrid? ” Harry said angrily as they went up the st eps.
“What about him? ” said Parvati in a hard voice. “He can still be
gamekeeper, can ’t he? ”
Parvati had been very cool toward Harry since the ball. He sup - posed
that he ought to have paid her a bit more attention, but she seemed to
have had a good time all the same. She was certainly telling anybody
who would listen that she had made arrangements to meet the boy
from Beauxbatons in Hogsmeade on the next weekend trip.
“That was a really good lesson, ” said Hermione as they e ntered the
Great Hall. “I didn ’t know half the things Professor Grubbly - Plank
told us about uni — ”
“Look at this! ” Harry snarled, and he shoved the Daily Prophet
article under Hermione ’s nose.
Hermione ’s mouth fell open as she read. Her reaction was ex - actly
the same as Ron ’s.
“How did that horrible Skeeter woman find out? You don ’t think
Hagrid told her? ”
“No, ” said Harry, leading the way over to the Gryffindor table and
throwing himself into a chair, furious. “He never even told us, did he?
I reckon she was so mad he wouldn ’t give her loads of hor - rible stuff
about me, she went ferreting around to get him back. ” “Maybe she
heard him telling Madame Maxime at the ball, ” said Hermione quietly.
“We ’d have seen her in the garden! ” said R on. “Anyway, she ’s not
 441 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


supposed to come into school anymore, Hagrid said Dumbledore
banned her. . . . ”
“Maybe she ’s got an Invisibility Cloak, ” said Harry, ladling chicken
casserole onto his plate and splashing it everywhere in his anger. “Sort
of thing she ’d do, isn ’t it, hide in bushes listening to people. ”
“Like you and Ron did, you mean, ” said Hermione. “We weren ’t trying
to hear him! ” said Ron indignantly. “W e didn ’t have any choice! The
stupid prat, talking about his giantess mother where anyone could have
heard him! ”
“We ’ve got to go and see him, ” said Harry. “This evening, after
Divination. Tell him we want him back . . . you do want him back? ”
he s hot at Hermione.
“I — well, I ’m not going to pretend it didn ’t make a nice change,
having a proper Care of Magical Creatures lesson for once — but I do
want Hagrid back, of course I do! ” Hermione added hastily, quailing
under Harry ’s furious stare.
So that evening after dinner, the three of them left the castle once
more and went down through the frozen grounds to Hagrid ’s cabin.
They knocked, and Fang ’s booming barks answered. “Hagrid, it ’s us! ”
Harry shouted, pounding on the door. “Open up!
Hagrid didn ’t answer. They could hear Fang scratching at the door,
whining, but it didn ’t open. They hammered on it for ten more
minutes; Ron even went and banged on one of the windows, but there
was no response.
“What ’s he avoiding us for? ” Hermione said when they had
finally given up and were walking back to the school. “He surely
doesn ’t think we ’d care about him being half -giant? ”
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But it seemed that Hagrid did care. They didn ’t see a sign of him all
week. He didn ’t appear at the staff table at mealtimes, they didn ’t see
him going about his gamekeeper duties on the grounds, and Pro -
fessor Grubbly -Plank continued to take the Care of Magical Crea -
tures classes. Malfoy was gloati ng at every possible opportunity.
“Missing your half -breed pal? ” he kept whispering to Harry whenever
there was a teacher around, so that he was safe from Harry ’s retaliation.
“Missing the elephant -man? ”
There was a Hogsmeade visit halfway through Janua ry. Hermi - one
was very surprised that Harry was going to go.
“I just thought you ’d want to take advantage of the common room
being quiet, ” she said. “Really get to work on that egg. ” “Oh I — I
reckon I ’ve got a pretty good idea what it ’s about now, ” Harry lied.
“Have you really? ” said Hermione, looking impressed. “Well done! ”
Harry ’s insides gave a guilty squirm, but he ignored them. He still had
five weeks to work out that egg clue, after all, and that was ages . . .
whereas if he went into Ho gsmeade, he might run into Hagrid, and get
a chance to persuade him to come back.
He, Ron, and Hermione left the castle together on Saturday and set off
through the cold, wet grounds toward the gates. As they passed the
Durmstrang ship moored in the lake, they saw Viktor Krum emerge
onto the deck, dressed in nothing but swimming trunks. He was very
skinny indeed, but apparently a lot tougher than he looked, because he
climbed up onto the side of the ship, stret ched out his arms, and dived,
right into the lake.
“He ’s mad! ” said Harry, staring at Krum ’s dark head as it bobbed out
into the middle of the lake. “It must be freezing, it ’s January! ”
 443 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


“It’s a lot colder where he comes from, ” said Hermione. “I sup - pose
it feels quite warm to him. ”
“Yeah, but there ’s still the giant squid, ” said Ron. He didn ’t sound
anxious — if anything, he sounded hopeful. Hermione no - ticed his
tone of voice and frowne d.
“He ’s really nice, you know, ” she said. “He ’s not at all like you ’d think,
coming from Durmstrang. He likes it much better here, he told me. ”
Ron said nothing. He hadn ’t mentioned Viktor Krum since the ball,
but Harry had found a miniature arm under his bed on Box - ing Day,
which had looked very much as though it had been snapped off a
small model figure wearing Bulgarian Quidditch robes.
Harry kept his eyes skinned for a sign of Hagrid all the way down the
slushy High Street, and suggested a visi t to the Three Broomsticks
once he had ascertained that Hagrid was not in any of the shops.
The pub was as crowded as ever, but one quick look around at all the
tables told Harry that Hagrid wasn ’t there. Heart sinking, he went up to
the bar with Ron and Hermione, ordered three butter - beers from
Madam Rosmerta, and thought gloomily that he might just as well have
stayed behind and listened to the egg wailing after all.
“Doesn ’t he ever go into the office? ” Hermione whispered sud -
denly. “Look! ”
She pointed into the mirror behind the bar, and Harry saw Ludo
Bagman reflected there, sitting in a shadowy corner with a bunch of
goblins. Bagman was talking very fast in a low voice to the
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goblins, all of whom had their arms crossed and were looking rather
menacing.
It was indeed odd, Harry thought, that Bagman was here at the Three
Broomsticks on a weekend when there was no Triwizard event, and
therefore no judging to be done. He watched Bagman in the mirror.
He was looking strained again, quite as strained as he had that night in
the forest before the Dark Mark had appeared. But just then Bagman
glanced over at the bar, saw Harry, and stood up.
“In a moment, in a moment! ” Harry heard hi m say brusquely to the
goblins, and Bagman hurried through the pub toward Harry, his
boyish grin back in place.
“Harry! ” he said. “How are you? Been hoping to run into you!
Everything going all right? ”
“Fine, thanks, ” said Harry.
“Wonder if I could have a quick, private word, Harry? ” said Bag - man
eagerly. “You couldn ’t give us a moment, you two, could you? ” “Er —
okay, ” said Ron, and he and Hermione went off to find a table.
Bagman led Harry along the bar to the end furthest from Madam
Rosmerta.
“Well, I just thought I ’d congratulate you again on your splendid
performance against that Horntail, Harry, ” said Bagman. “Really
superb. ”
“Thanks, ” said Harry, but he knew this couldn ’t be all that Bag - man
wanted to say, because he could have congratulated Harry in front of
Ron and Hermione. Bagman didn ’t seem in any particular rush to spill
the beans, though. Harry saw him glance into the
 445 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


mirror over the bar at the goblins, who were all watching him and
Harry in silence through their dark, slanting eyes.
“Absolute nightmare, ” said Bagman to Harry in an undertone, noticing
Harry watching the goblins too. “Their English isn ’t too good . . . it ’s
like being back with all the Bulgarians at the Quid -
ditch World Cup . . . but at least they used sign language another
human could recognize. This lot keep gabbling in Gobblede -
gook . . . and I only know one word of Gobbledegook. Bladvak . I t
means ‘pickax. ’ I don ’t like to use it in case they think I ’m threat - ening
them. ”
He gave a short, booming laugh.
“What do they want? ” Harry said, noticing how the goblins were still
watching Bagman very closely.
“Er — well . . . ” said Bagman, looking suddenly nervous. “They . . .
er . . . they ’re looking for Barry Crouch. ”
“Why are they looking for him here? ” said Harry. “He ’s at the Ministry
in London, isn ’t he? ”
“Er . . . as a matter of fact, I ’ve no idea where he is, ” said Ba g- man.
“He ’s sort of . . . stopped coming to work. Been absent for a couple of
weeks now. Young Percy, his assistant, says he ’s ill. Ap - parently he ’s
just been sending instructions in by owl. But would you mind not
mentioning that to anyone, Harry? Becau se Rita Skeeter ’s still poking
around everywhere she can, and I ’m willing to bet she ’d work up
Barty ’s illness into something sinister. Probably say he ’s gone missing
like Bertha Jorkins. ”
“Have you heard anything about Bertha Jorkins? ” Harry asked.
“No ,” said Bagman, looking strained again. “I’ve got people
looking, of course . . . ” ( About time, thought Harry) “and it ’s all
very strange. She definitely arrived in Albania, because she met her

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second cousin there. And then she left the cousin ’s house to go south
and see an aunt . . . and she seems to have vanished without trace en
route. Blowed if I can see where she ’s got to . . . she doesn ’t seem the
type to elope , for instance . . . but still. . . . What are we doing, talking
about goblins and Bertha Jorkins? I really wanted to ask you ” — he
lowered his voice — “how are you getting on with your golden egg? ”
“Er . . . not bad, ” Harry said untruthfully.
Bagman seemed to know he wasn ’t being honest. “Listen, Harry, ” he
said (still in a very low voice), “I feel very bad about all this . . . you
were thrown into this tournament, you didn ’t volunteer for it. . . and
if . . . ” (his voice was so quiet now, Harr y had to lean closer to listen) “if
I can help at all . . . a prod in the right direction . . . I ’ve taken a liking to
you . . . the way you got past that dragon! . . . well, just say the word. ”
Harry stared up into Bagman ’s round, rosy face and his wide,
baby -blue eyes.
“We ’re supposed to work out the clues alone, aren ’t we? ” he said,
careful to keep his voice casual and not sound as though he was ac -
cusing the head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports of
breaking the rules.
“Well . . . well, yes, ” said Bagman impatiently, “but — come on, Harry
— we all want a Hogwarts victory, don ’t we? ”
“Have you offered Cedric help? ” Harry said.
The smallest of frowns creased Bagman ’s smooth face. “No, I
haven ’t,” he said. “I — well, lik e I say, I ’ve taken a liking to you. Just
thought I ’d offer . . . ”
“Well, thanks, ” said Harry, “but I think I ’m nearly there with the egg . . .
couple more days should crack it. ”
 447 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


He wasn ’t entirely sure why he was refusing Bagman ’s help, ex - cept
that Bagman was almost a stranger to him, and accepting his assistance
would feel somehow much more like cheating than ask - ing advice
from Ron, Hermione, or Sirius.
Bagman looked almost affron ted, but couldn ’t say much more as Fred
and George turned up at that point.
“Hello, Mr. Bagman, ” said Fred brightly. “Can we buy you a drink? ”
“Er . . . no, ” said Bagman, with a last disappointed glance at Harry, “no,
thank you, boys . . . ”
Fred and George looked quite as disappointed as Bagman, who was
surveying Harry as though he had let him down badly. “Well, I must
dash, ” he said. “Nice seeing you all. Good luck, Harry. ”
He hurried out of the pub. The goblins all slid off their chairs and
exited after him. Harry went to rejoin Ron and Hermione. “What did
he want? ” Ron said, the moment Harry had sat down.
“He offered to help me with the golden egg, ” said Harry. “He
shouldn ’t be doing that! ” said Hermione, looking very shocked. “He ’s
one of the judges! And anyway, you ’ve already worked it out — haven ’t
you? ”
“Er . . . nearly, ” said Harry.
“Well, I don ’t think Dumbledore would like it if he knew Bag - man
was trying to persuade you to cheat! ” said Hermione, still looking
deeply disappr oving. “I hope he ’s trying to help Cedric as much! ”
“He ’s not, I asked, ” said Harry.
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“Who cares if Diggory ’s getting help? ” said Ron. Harry privately
agreed.
“Those goblins didn ’t look very friendly, ” said Hermione, sip - ping
her butterbeer. “What were they doing here? ”
“Looking for Crouch, according to Bagman, ” said Harry. “He ’s still ill.
Hasn ’t been into work. ”
“Maybe Percy ’s poisoning him, ” said Ron. “Probably thinks if Crouch
snuffs it he ’ll be made head of the Department of Interna - tional
Magical Cooperation. ”
Hermione gave Ron a don ’t-joke -about -things -like -that look, and said,
“Funny, goblins looking for Mr. Crouch. . . . They ’d nor - mally deal
with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical
Creatures. ”
“Crouch can speak loads of different languages, though, ” said Harry.
“Maybe they need an interpreter. ”
“Worrying about poor ’ickle goblins, now, are you? ” Ron asked
Her mione. “Thinking of starting up S.P.U.G. or something? Soci - ety
for the Protection of Ugly Goblins? ”
“Ha, ha, ha, ” said Hermione sarcastically. “Goblins don ’t need
protection. Haven ’t you been listening to what Professor Binns has
been telling us about g oblin rebellions? ”
“No, ” said Harry and Ron together.
“Well, they ’re quite capable of dealing with wizards, ” said Hermione,
taking another sip of butterbeer. “They ’re very clever. They ’re not like
house -elves, who never stick up for themselves. ” “Uh -oh ,” said Ron,
staring at the door.
Rita Skeeter had just entered. She was wearing banana -yellow robes
today; her long nails were painted shocking pink, and she

 449 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


was accompanied by her paunchy photographer. She bought drinks,
and she and the photographer made their way through the crowds to a
table nearby, Harry, Ron, and Hermione glaring at her as she
approached. She was talking fast and looking very satisfied abo ut
something.
“. . . didn ’t seem very keen to talk to us, did he, Bozo? Now, why would
that be, do you think? And what ’s he doing with a pack of goblins in
tow anyway? Showing them the sights . . . what non - sense . . . he was
always a bad liar. Reckon so mething ’s up? Think we should do a bit of
digging? ‘Disgraced Ex -Head of Magical Games and Sports, Ludo
Bagman . . . ’ Snappy start to a sentence, Bozo — we just need to find a
story to fit it — ”
“Trying to ruin someone else ’s life? ” said Harry loudly. A few people
looked around. Rita Skeeter ’s eyes widened behind her jeweled
spectacles as she saw who had spoken.
“Harry! ” she said, beaming. “How lovely! Why don ’t you come and
join — ?”
“I wouldn ’t come near you with a ten -foot broomstick, ” said Harry
furiously. “What did you do that to Hagrid for, eh? ”
Rita Skeeter raised her heavily penciled eyebrows.
“Our readers have a right to the truth, Harry. I am merely doing my
— ”
“Who cares if he ’s half -giant? ” Harry shouted. “There ’s nothing wrong
with hi m! ”
The whole pub had gone very quiet. Madam Rosmerta was star - ing
over from behind the bar, apparently oblivious to the fact that the
flagon she was filling with mead was overflowing.
Rita Skeeter ’s smile flickered very slightly, but she hitched it back
almost at once; she snapped open her crocodile -skin handbag,

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pulled out her Quick -Quotes Quill, and said, “How about giving
me an interview about the Hagrid you know, Harry? The man be -
hind the muscles? Your unlikely friendship and the reasons behind it.
Would you call him a father substitute? ”
Hermione stood up very abruptly, her butterbeer clutched in her hand
as though it were a grenade.
“You horrible woman, ” she said, through gritted teeth, “you don ’t care,
do you, anything for a story, and anyone will do, won ’t they? Even
Ludo Bagman — ”
“Sit down, you silly little girl, and don ’t talk about things you don ’t
understand, ” said Rita Skeeter coldly, her eyes hardening as they fell on
Hermione. “I know things about Ludo Bagman that
would make your hair curl . . . not that it needs it — ” she added,
eyeing Hermione ’s bushy hair.
“Let ’s go, ” said Hermione, “c’mon, Harry — Ron . . . ” They left; many
people were staring at them as they went. Harry glanced back as they
reached the door. Rita Skeeter ’s Quick -Quotes Quill was out; it was
zooming backward and forward over a piece of parchment on the
table.
“She ’ll be after you next, Herm ione, ” said Ron in a low and wor - ried
voice as they walked quickly back up the street.
“Let her try! ” said Hermione defiantly; she was shaking with rage. “I’ll
show her! Silly little girl, am I? Oh, I ’ll get her back for this. First Harry,
then Hagrid . . . ”
“You don ’t want to go upsetting Rita Skeeter, ” said Ron ner - vously.
“I’m serious, Hermione, she ’ll dig up something on you — ”
“My parents don ’t read the Daily Prophet. She can ’t scare me into
hiding! ” said Hermione, now striding along so fast that it was all Harry
and Ron could do to keep up with her. The last time Harry

 451 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


had seen Hermione in a rage like this, she had hit Draco Malfoy around
the face. “And Hagrid isn ’t hiding anymore! He should
never have let that excuse for a human being upset him! Come on !”
Breaking into a run, she led them all the way back up the road, through
the gates flanked by winged boars, and up through the grounds to
Hagrid ’s cabin.
The curtains were still drawn, and they could hear Fang barking as they
approached.
“Hagrid! ” Hermione shouted, pounding on his front door. “Ha - grid,
that ’s enough! We know you ’re in there! Nobody cares if your mum
was a giantess, Hagrid! You can ’t let that foul Skeeter woman do this to
you! Hagrid, get out here, you ’re just being — ”
The door opened. Hermione said, “About t — !” and then stopped,
very suddenly, because she had found herself face -to -face, not with
Hagrid, but with Albus Dumbledore.
“Good afternoon, ” he said pleasantly, smiling down at them. “We —
er — we wanted to see Hagrid, ” said Hermione in a rather small voice.
“Yes, I surmised as much, ” said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. “Why
don ’t you come in? ”
“Oh . . . um . . . okay, ” said Hermione.
She, Ron, and Harry went into the cabin; Fang launched him - self
upon Harry the moment he entered, barking madly and trying to lick
his ears. Harry fended off Fang and looked around.
Hagrid was sitting at his table, where there were two large mugs of tea.
He looked a real mess. His face was blotchy, his eyes swollen, and he
had gone to the other extreme where his hair was con - cerned; far from
trying to make it behave, it now looked li ke a wig of tangled wire.
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“Hi, Hagrid, ” said Harry.
Hagrid looked up.
“’Lo, ” he said in a very hoarse voice.
“More tea, I think, ” said Dumbledore, closing the door behind Harry,
Ron, and Hermione, drawing out his wand, and twiddling it; a
revolving tea tray appeared in midair along with a plate of cakes.
Dumbledore magicked the tray onto the table, and everybody sat down.
There was a slight pause, and then Dumbledore said, “Did you by any
chance hear what Miss Granger was shouting, Hagrid? ” Hermione
went slightly pink, but Dumbledore smiled at her and continued,
“Hermione, Harry, and Ron still seem to want to know you, judging by
the way they were attempting to break down th e door. ”
“Of course we still want to know you! ” Harry said, staring at Hagrid.
“You don ’t think anything that Skeeter cow — sorry, Pro - fessor, ” he
added quickly, looking at Dumbledore.
“I have gone temporarily deaf and haven ’t any idea what you said,
Harry, ” said Dumbledore, twiddling his thumbs and staring at the
ceiling.
“Er — right, ” said Harry sheepishly. “I just meant — Hagrid, how
could you think we ’d care what that — woman — wrote about you? ”
Two fat tears leaked out of Hagrid ’s beetle -black eyes and fell slowly
into his tangled beard.
“Living proof of what I ’ve been telling you, Hagrid, ” said Dum -
bledore, still looking carefully up at the ceiling. “I have shown you the
letters from the countless parents who remember you from their o wn
days here, telling me in no uncertain terms that if I sacked you, they
would have something to say about it — ”
 453 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


“Not all of ’em, ” said Hagrid hoarsely. “Not all of ’em wan ’ me ter
stay. ”
“Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I ’m
afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time, ” said Dum - bledore,
now peering sternly over his half -moon spectacles. “Not a week has
passed since I became headmaster of this scho ol when I haven ’t had at
least one owl complaining about the way I run it. But what should I do?
Barricade myself in my study and refuse to talk to anybody? ”
“Yeh — yeh ’re not half -giant! ” said Hagrid croakily. “Hagrid, look
what I ’ve got for relatives! ” Harry said furiously. “Look at the
Dursleys! ”
“An excellent point, ” said Professor Dumbledore. “My own brother,
Aberforth, was prosecuted for practicing inappropriate charms on a
goat. It was all over the papers, but did Aberforth hide? No, he did not!
He held his head high and went about his business as usual! Of course,
I’m not entirely sure he can read, so that may not have been
bravery. . . . ”
“Come back and teach, Hagrid, ” said Hermione quietly, “please come
back, we really miss you. ”
Hagrid gulp ed. More tears leaked out down his cheeks and into his
tangled beard.
Dumbledore stood up. “I refuse to accept your resignation, Hagrid,
and I expect you back at work on Monday, ” he said. “You will join me
for breakfast at eight -thirty in the Great Hall. No ex - cuses. Good
afternoon to you all. ”
Dumbledore left the cabin, pausing only to scratch Fang ’s ears. When
the door had shut behind him, Hagrid began to sob into his
 454 ‘

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SCOOP


dustbin -lid -sized hands. Hermione kept patting his arm, and at last,
Hagrid looked up, his eyes very red indeed, and said, “Great man,
Dumbledore . . . great man . . . ”
“Yeah, he is, ” said Ron. “Can I have one of these cakes, Hagrid? ”
“Help yerself, ” said Hagrid, wiping his eyes on the back of his hand.
“Ar, he ’s righ ’, o ’ course — yeh ’re all righ ’ . . . I bin stupid . . . my ol ’
dad woulda bin ashamed o ’ the way I ’ve bin behavin ’. . . . ” More tears
leaked out, but he wiped them away more forcefully, and s aid, “Never
shown you a picture of my old dad, have I? Here . . . ”
Hagrid got up, went over to his dresser, opened a drawer, and pulled
out a picture of a short wizard with Hagrid ’s crinkled black eyes,
beaming as he sat on top of Hagrid ’s shoulder. Hag rid was a good
seven or eight feet tall, judging by the apple tree beside him, but his
face was beardless, young, round, and smooth — he looked hardly
older than eleven.
“Tha ’ was taken jus ’ after I got inter Hogwarts, ” Hagrid croaked. “Dad
was dead chuffed . . . thought I migh ’ not be a wizard, see, ’cos me
mum . . . well, anyway. ’Course, I never was great shakes at magic,
really . . . but at least he never saw me expelled. Died, see, in me second
year. . . .
“Dumbledore was the one who stuck up for me after Dad went. Got
me the gamekeeper job . . . trusts people, he does. Gives ’em second
chances . . . tha ’s what sets him apar ’ from other heads, see. He ’ll accept
anyone at Hogwarts, s ’long as they ’ve got the talent. Knows people can
turn out okay even if their families weren ’ . . . well . . . all tha ’ respectable.
But some don ’ understand that. There ’s some who ’d always hold it
against yeh . . . there ’s some who ’d even
 455 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FOUR


pretend they just had big bones rather than stand up an ’ say — I am
what I am, an ’ I’m not ashamed. ‘Never be ashamed, ’ my ol ’ dad used
ter say, ‘there ’s some who ’ll hold it against you, but they ’re not worth
botherin ’ with. ’ An ’ he was right. I ’ve bin an idiot. I ’m
not botherin ’ with her no more, I promise yeh that. Big bones . . .
I’ll give her big bones. ”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another nervously; Harry
would rather have taken fifty Blast -Ended Skrewts for a walk than
admit to Hagr id that he had overheard him talking to Madame Maxime,
but Hagrid was still talking, apparently unaware that he had said
anything odd.
“Yeh know wha ’, Harry? ” he said, looking up from the photo - graph
of his father, his eyes very bright, “when I firs ’ met you, you reminded
me o ’ me a bit. Mum an ’ Dad gone, an ’ you was feelin ’ like yeh wouldn ’
fit in at Hogwarts, remember? Not sure yeh were really up to it . . . an ’
now look at yeh, Harry! School champion! ” He looked at Harry for a
moment and then said, ver y seriously, “Yeh know what I ’d love, Harry?
I’d love yeh ter win, I really would. It ’d show ’em all . . . yeh don ’ have
ter be pureblood ter do it. Yeh don ’ have ter be ashamed of what yeh
are. It ’d show ’em Dumble - dore ’s the one who ’s got it righ ’, lett in’
anyone in as long as they can do magic. How you doin ’ with that egg,
Harry? ”
“Great, ” said Harry. “Really great. ”
Hagrid ’s miserable face broke into a wide, watery smile. “Tha ’s my
boy . . . you show ’em, Harry, you show ’em. Beat ’em all. ”
Lying to Hagrid wasn ’t quite like lying to anyone else. Harry went back
to the castle later that afternoon with Ron and Her - mione, unable to
banish the image of the happy expression on
 456 ‘

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SCOOP


Hagrid ’s whiskery face as he had imagined Harry winning the tour -
nament. The incomprehensible egg weighed more heavily than ever on
Harry ’s conscience that evening, and by the time he had got into bed,
he had made up his mind — it was time to shelve his pride and see if
Cedric ’s hint was worth anything.

 457 ‘

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F I V E









THE EGG AND THE
EYE




s Harry had no idea how long a bath he would need to work
A
out the secret of the golden egg, he decided to do it at
night, when he would be able to take as much time as he wanted.
Reluctant though he was to accept more favors from Cedric, he also
decided to use the prefects ’ bathroom; far fewer people were allowed
in there, so it was much less likely that he would be disturbed.
Harry planned his excursion carefully, because he had been caught out
of bed and out -of -bounds by Filch the caretaker in the middle of the

night once before, and had no desire to repeat the experience. The
Invisibility Cloak would, of course, be essential, and as an added
precaution, Harry thought he would t ake the Marauder ’s Map, which,
next to the cloak, was the most useful aid to rule -breaking Harry
owned. The map showed the whole of Hog - warts, including its many
shortcuts and secret passageways and, most important of all, it
revealed the people inside the castle as
 458 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


minuscule, labeled dots, moving around the corridors, so that Harry
would be forewarned if somebody was approaching the bathroom. On
Thursday night, Harry sneaked up to bed, put on the cloak, crept back
downstairs, and, just as he had done on the night when Hagrid had
shown him the dragons, waited for the portrait hole to open. This time
it was Ron who waited outside to give the Fat Lady the password
(“banana fritters ”). “Good luck, ” Ron muttered, climbing into the
room as Harry crept out past him.
It was awkward moving under the cloak tonight, because Harry had
the heav y egg under one arm and the map held in front of his nose with
the other. However, the moonlit corridors were empty and silent, and
by checking the map at strategic intervals, Harry was able to ensure
that he wouldn ’t run into anyone he wanted to avoid. Wh en he
reached the statue of Boris the Bewildered, a lost - looking wizard with
his gloves on the wrong hands, he located the right door, leaned close
to it, and muttered the password, “Pine fresh, ” just as Cedric had told
him.
The door creaked open. Harry slipped inside, bolted the door behind
him, and pulled off the Invisibility Cloak, looking around. His
immediate reaction was that it would be worth becoming a prefect just
to be able to use this bathroom. It was softly lit by a splendid
candle -filled chan delier, and everything was made of white marble,
including what looked like an empty, rectangular swimming pool sunk
into the middle of the floor. About a hundred golden taps stood all
around the pool ’s edges, each with a differ - ently colored jewel set in to
its handle. There was also a diving board. Long white linen curtains
hung at the windows; a large pile of fluffy white towels sat in a corner,
and there was a single golden - framed painting on the wall. It featured
a blonde mermaid who

 459 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


was fast asleep on a rock, her long hair over her face. It fluttered every
time she snored.
Harry moved forward, looking around, his footsteps echoing off the
walls. Magnificent though the bathroom was — and quite keen though
he was to try out a few of those taps — now he was here he couldn ’t
quite suppress the feeling that Cedric might have been having him on.
How on earth was this supposed to help solve th e mystery of the egg?
Nevertheless, he put one of the fluffy towels, the cloak, the map, and
the egg at the side of the swimming -pool - sized bath, then knelt down
and turned on a few of the taps.
He could tell at once that they carried different sorts o f bubble bath
mixed with the water, though it wasn ’t bubble bath as Harry had ever
experienced it. One tap gushed pink and blue bubbles the size of
footballs; another poured ice -white foam so thick that Harry thought it
would have supported his weight if h e’d cared to test it; a third sent
heavily perfumed purple clouds hovering over the sur - face of the
water. Harry amused himself for a while turning the taps on and off,
particularly enjoying the effect of one whose jet bounced off the
surface of the water in large arcs. Then, when the deep pool was full of
hot water, foam, and bubbles, which took a very short time
considering its size, Harry turned off all the taps, pulled off his pajamas,
slippers, and dressing gown, and slid into the water.
It was so deep that his feet barely touched the bottom, and he ac -
tually did a couple of lengths before swimming back to the side and
treading water, staring at the egg. Highly enjoyable though it was to
swim in hot and foamy water with clouds of different -colored steam
wafting all around him, no stroke of brilliance came to him, no sudden
burst of understanding.

 460 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


Harry stretched out his arms, lifted the egg in his wet hands, and
opened it. The wailing, screeching sound filled the bathroom, echoing
and reverberating off the marble walls, but it sounded just as
incomprehensible as ever, if not more so with all the echoes. He
snapped it shut again, worried that the sound would attrac t Filch,
wondering whether that hadn ’t been Cedric ’s plan — and then, making
him jump so badly that he dropped the egg, which clat - tered away
across the bathroom floor, someone spoke.
“I’d try putting it in the water, if I were you. ”
Harry had swallowed a considerable amount of bubbles in shock. He
stood up, sputtering, and saw the ghost of a very glum - looking girl
sitting cross -legged on top of one of the taps. It was Moaning Myrtle,
who was usually to be heard sobbing in the S-bend of a toilet three
floors below.
“Myrtle! ” Harry said in outrage, “I’m — I’m not wearing anything! ”
The foam was so dense that this hardly mattered, but he had a nasty
feeling that Myrtle had been spying on him from out of one of the taps
ever since he had arrived.
“I closed my eyes when you got in, ” she said, blinking at him
through her thick spectacles. “You haven ’t been to see me for ages. ”
“Yeah . . . well . . . ” said Harry, bending his knees slightly, just to make
absolutely sure Myrtle couldn ’t see anything but his head, “I’m not
supposed to come into your bathroom, am I? It ’s a girls ’ one. ”
“You didn ’t used to care, ” said Myrtle miserably. “You used to be in
there all the time. ”
This was true, though only be cause Harry, Ron, and Hermione had
found Myrtle ’s out -of -order toilets a convenient place to brew
 461 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


Polyjuice Potion in secret — a forbidden potion that had turned him
and Ron into living replicas of Crabbe and Goyle for an hour, so that
they could sneak into the Slytherin common room.
“I got told off for going in there, ” said Harry, which was half - true;
Percy had once caught him coming out of Myrtle ’s bathroom. “I
thought I ’d better not come back after that. ”
“Oh . . . I see . . . ” said Myrtle, picking at a spot on her chin in a morose
sort of way. “Well. . . anyway . . . I ’d try the egg in the water. That ’s
what Cedric Diggory did. ”
“Have you been spying on him too? ” said Harry indignantly. “What
d’you do, sneak up here in the evenings to watch the pre - fects take
baths? ”
“Sometimes, ” said Myrtle, rather slyly, “but I ’ve never come out to
speak to anyone before. ”
“I’m honored, ” said Harry darkly. “You keep your eyes shut! ” He
made sure Myrtle had her glasses well covered before hoist - ing
himself out of the bath, wrapping the towel firmly around his waist,
and going to retrieve the egg. Once he was back in the water, Myrtle
peered through her fingers and said, “Go on, then . . . open it under the
water! ”
Harry lowered the egg beneath the foamy surface and opened it . . . and
this time, it did not wail. A gurgling song was coming out of it, a song
whose words he couldn ’t distinguis h through the water. “You need to
put your head under too, ” said Myrtle, who seemed to be thoroughly
enjoying bossing him around. “Go on! ” Harry took a great breath and
slid under the surface — and now, sitting on the marble bottom of the
bubble -filled ba th, he heard a chorus of eerie voices singing to him
from the open egg in his hands:

 462 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


“ Come seek us where our voices sound,
We cannot sing above the ground,
And while you ’re searching ponder this: We ’ve
taken what you ’ll sorely miss,
An hour long you ’ll have to look,
And to recover what we took,
But past an hour — the prospect ’s black,
Too late, it ’s gone, it won ’t come back .”

Harry let himself float back upward and broke the bubbly sur - face,
shaking his hair out of his eyes.
“Hear it? ” said Myrtle.
“Yeah . . . ‘Come seek us where our voices sound . . . ’ and if I need
persuading . . . hang on, I need to listen again. . . . ”
He sank back beneath the water. It took three more underwater
renditions of the egg ’s song before Harry had it memorized; then he
trod water for a while, thinking hard, while Myrtle sat and watched
him.
“I’ve got to go and look for people who can ’t use their voices above
the ground. . . . ” he said slowly. “Er . . . who could that be? ” “Slow,
aren ’t you? ”
He had never seen Moaning Myrtle so cheerful, apart from the day
when a dose of Polyjuice Potion had given Hermione the hairy face
and tail of a cat. Harry stared around the bathroom, thinking . . . if the
voices could only be heard underwater, then it made sense for them to
belong to underwater creatures. He ran this theory past Myrtle, who
smirked at him.
“Well, that ’s what Diggory thought, ” she said. “He lay there

 463 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


talking to himself for ages about it. Ages and ages . . . nearly all the
bubbles had gone. . . . ”
“Underwater . . . ” Harry said slowly. “Myrtle . . . what lives in the lake,
apart from the giant squid? ”
“Oh all sorts, ” she said. “I sometimes go down there . . . some - times
don ’t have any choice, if someone flushes my toilet when I ’m not
expecting it. . . . ”
Trying not to think about Moaning Myrtle zooming down a pipe to the
lake with the contents of a toilet, Harry said, “Well, does anything in
there have a human voice? Hang on — ”
Harry ’s eyes had fallen on the picture of the snoozing mermaid on the
wall.
“Myrtle, there aren ’t merpeople in there, are there? ”
“Oooh, very good, ” she said, her thick glasses twinkling, “it took
Diggory much longer than that! And that was with her awake
too ” — Myrtle jerked her head toward the mermaid with an ex -
pression of great dislike on her glum f ace — “giggling and showing off
and flashing her fins. . . . ”
“That ’s it, isn ’t it? ” said Harry excitedly. “The second task ’s to go and
find the merpeople in the lake and . . . and . . . ”
But he suddenly realized what he was saying, and he felt the ex -
citement drain out of him as though someone had just pulled a plug in
his stomach. He wasn ’t a very good swimmer; he ’d never had much
practice. Dudley had had lessons in his youth, but Aunt Petunia and
Uncle Vernon, no doubt hoping that Harry would drown on e day,
hadn ’t bothered to give him any. A couple of lengths of this bath were
all very well, but that lake was very large, and very deep . . . and
merpeople would surely live right at the bottom. . . .
 464 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


“Myrtle, ” Harry said slowly, “how am I supposed to breathe ?”
At this, Myrtle ’s eyes filled with sudden tears again. “Tactless! ” she
muttered, groping in her robes for a handker - chief.
“What ’s tactless? ” said Harry, bew ildered.
“Talking about breathing in front of me !” she said shrilly, and
her voice echoed loudly around the bathroom. “When I can ’t . . . when
I haven ’t . . . not for ages . . . ”
She buried her face in her handkerchief and sniffed loudly. Harry
remembered how touchy Myrtle had always been about be - ing dead,
but none of the other ghosts he knew made such a fuss about it.
“Sorry, ” he said impatiently. “I didn ’t mean — I just forgot . . . ” “Oh
yes, very easy to forget Myrtle ’s dead, ” said Myrtle, gulping, looking at
him out of swollen eyes. “Nobody missed me even when I was alive.
Took them hours and hours to find my body — I know, I was sitting
there waiting for them. Olive Hornby came into the bathroom — ‘Are
you in here again, sulking, Myrtle? ’ she said, ‘be - cause Professor
Dippet asked me to look for you — ’ And then she saw my body . . .
ooooh, she didn ’t forget it until her dying day, I made sure of that . . .
followed her around and reminded her, I did. I remember at her
brother ’s wedding — ”
But Harry wasn ’t listening; he was thinking about the merpeo -
ple ’s song again. “ We ’ve taken what you ’ll sorely miss. ” That sounded
as though they were going to steal something of his, something he had
to get back. What were they going to take?
“— and then, of course, she went to the Ministry of Magic to stop me
stalking her, so I had to come back here and live in my toilet. ”
 465 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


“Good, ” said Harry vaguely. “Well, I ’m a lot further on than I was. . . .
Shut your eyes again, will you? I ’m getting out. ”
He retrieved the egg from the bottom of the bath, climbed out, dried
himself, and pulled on his pajamas and dressing gown again. “Will you
come and visit me in my bathroom again sometime? ” Moaning Myrtle
asked mournfully as Harry picked up the Invisi - bility Cloak.
“Er . . . I ’ll try, ” Harry said, though privately thinking the only way he ’d
be visiting Myrtle ’s bathroom again was if every other toi - let in the
castle got blocked. “See you, Myrtle . . . thanks for your help. ”
“’Bye, ’bye, ” she said gloomily, and as Harry put on the Invisi - bility
Cloak he saw her zoom back up the tap.
Out in the dark corridor, Harry examined the Marauder ’s Map to
check that the coast was still clear. Yes, t he dots belonging to Filch and
his cat, Mrs. Norris, were safely in their office . . . noth - ing else seemed
to be moving apart from Peeves, though he was bouncing around the
trophy room on the floor above. . . . Harry had taken his first step back
toward Gryffindor Tower when some - thing else on the map caught
his eye . . . something distinctly odd.
Peeves was not the only thing that was moving. A single dot was
flitting around a room in the bottom left -hand corner — Snape ’s office.
But the dot wasn ’t labeled “Severus Snape ” . . . it was Bartemius
Crouch.
Harry stared at the dot. Mr. Crouch was supposed to be too ill to go to
work or to come to the Yule Ball — so what was he doing, sneaking
into Hogwarts at one o ’clock in the morning? Harry watched cl osely as
the dot moved around and around the room, pausing here and
there. . . .
 466 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


Harry hesitated, thinking . . . and then his curiosity got the bet - ter of
him. He turned and set off in the opposite direction toward the nearest
staircase. He was going to see what Crouch was up to. Harry walked
down the stairs as quietly as possible, though the faces in some of the
portraits still turned curiously at t he squeak of a floorboard, the rustle
of his pajamas. He crept along the corridor be - low, pushed aside a
tapestry about halfway along, and proceeded down a narrower
staircase, a shortcut that would take him down two floors. He kept
glancing down at the ma p, wondering . . . It just did - n’t seem in
character, somehow, for correct, law -abiding Mr. Crouch to be
sneaking around somebody else ’s office this late at night. . . . And then,
halfway down the staircase, not thinking about what he was doing, not
conce ntrating on anything but the peculiar be - havior of Mr. Crouch,
Harry ’s leg suddenly sank right through the trick step Neville always
forgot to jump. He gave an ungainly wob - ble, and the golden egg, still
damp from the bath, slipped from un - der his arm. He lurched forward
to try and catch it, but too late; the egg fell down the long staircase with
a bang as loud as a bass drum on every step — the Invisibility Cloak
slipped — Harry snatched at it, and the Marauder ’s Map fluttered out
of his hand and slid d own six stairs, where, sunk in the step to above
his knee, he couldn ’t reach it.
The golden egg fell through the tapestry at the bottom of the staircase,
burst open, and began wailing loudly in the corridor be - low. Harry
pulled out his wand and struggled to touch the Ma - rauder ’s Map, to
wipe it blank, but it was too far away to reach — Pulling the cloak back
over himself Harry straightened up, lis - tening hard with his eyes
screwed up with fear . . . and, almost immediately —
 467 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


“PEEVES! ”
It was the unmistakable hunting cry of Filch the caretaker. Harry could
hear his rapid, shuffling footsteps coming nearer and nearer, his
wheezy voice raised in fury.
“What ’s this racket? Wake up the whole castle, will you? I ’ll have you,
Peeves, I ’ll have you, you ’ll . . . and what is this? ”
Filch ’s footsteps halted; there was a clink of metal on metal and the
wailing stopped — Filch had picked up the egg and closed it. Harry
stood very still, one leg still jammed tightly in the magical step, listening.
Any moment now, Filch was going to pull aside the tapestry, expecting
to see Peeves . . . and there would be no Peeves . . . but if he came up
the stairs, he would spot th e Ma - rauder ’s Map . . . and Invisibility
Cloak or not, the map would show “Harry Potter ” standing exactly
where he was.
“Egg? ” Filch said quietly at the foot of the stairs. “My sweet! ” — Mrs.
Norris was obviously with him — “This is a Triwizard clue! T his
belongs to a school champion! ”
Harry felt sick; his heart was hammering very fast — “PEEVES! ”
Filch roared gleefully. “You ’ve been stealing! ” He ripped back the
tapestry below, and Harry saw his horrible, pouchy face and bulging,
pale eyes staring up the dark and (to Filch) deserted staircase.
“Hiding, are you? ” he said softly. “I’m coming to get you, Peeves. . . .
You ’ve gone and stolen a Triwizard clue, Peeves. . . . Dumbledore ’ll
have you out of here for this, you filthy, pilfering poltergeist. . . .”
Filch started to climb the stairs, his scrawny, dust -colored cat at his
heels. Mrs. Norris ’s lamp -like eyes, so very like her master ’s,
 468 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


were fixed directly upon Harry. He had had occasion before now to
wonder whether the Invisibility Cloak worked on cats. . . . Sick with
apprehension, he watched Filch drawing nearer and nearer in his old
flannel dressing gown — he tried desperately to pull his trapped leg
free, but it merely sank a few more inches — any sec - ond now, Filch
was going to spot the map or walk right into him — “Filch? What ’s
going on? ”
Filch stopped a few steps below Harry and turned. At the foot of the
stairs stood the only p erson who could make Harry ’s situation worse:
Snape. He was wearing a long gray nightshirt and he looked livid.
“It’s Peeves, Professor, ” Filch whispered malevolently. “He threw this
egg down the stairs. ”
Snape climbed up the stairs quickly and stopped b eside Filch. Harry
gritted his teeth, convinced his loudly thumping heart would give him
away at any second. . . .
“Peeves? ” said Snape softly, staring at the egg in Filch ’s hands. “But
Peeves couldn ’t get into my office. . . . ”
“This egg was in your office, Professor? ”
“Of course not, ” Snape snapped. “I heard banging and wailing — ”
“Yes, Professor, that was the egg — ”
“— I was coming to investigate — ”
“— Peeves threw it, Professor — ”
“— and when I passed my office, I saw that the torches were lit and a
cupboard door was ajar! Somebody has been searching it! ” “But
Peeves couldn ’t — ”
“I know he couldn ’t, Filch! ” Snape snapped again. “I seal my office
 469 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


with a spell none but a wizard could break! ” Snape looked up the stairs,
straight through Harry, and then down into the corridor be - low. “I
want you to come and help me search for the intruder, Filch. ” “I — yes,
Professor — but — ”
Filch looked yearning ly up the stairs, right through Harry, who could
see that he was very reluctant to forgo the chance of corner -
ing Peeves. Go, Harry pleaded with him silently, go with Snape . . .
go . . . Mrs. Norris was peering around Filch ’s legs. . . . Harry had
the distinct impression that she could smell him. . . . Why had he filled
that bath with so much perfumed foam?
“The thing is, Professor, ” said Filch plaintively, “the headmaster will
have to listen to me this time. Peeves has been stealing from a st udent,
it might be my chance to get him thrown out of the castle once and for
all — ”
“Filch, I don ’t give a damn about that wretched poltergeist; it ’s my
office that ’s — ”
Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.
Snape stopped talking very abruptly. He and Filch both l ooked down
at the foot of the stairs. Harry saw Mad -Eye Moody limp into sight
through the narrow gap between their heads. Moody was wearing his
old traveling cloak over his nightshirt and leaning on his staff as usual.
“Pajama party, is it? ” he growled up the stairs.
“Professor Snape and I heard noises, Professor, ” said Filch at once.
“Peeves the Poltergeist, throwing things around as usual — and then
Professor Snape discovered that someone had broken into his off — ”
“Shut up! ” Snape hi ssed to Filch.
 470 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


Moody took a step closer to the foot of the stairs. Harry saw Moody ’s
magical eye travel over Snape, and then, unmistakably, onto himself.
Harry ’s heart gave a horrible jolt. Moody could see through Invisi -
bility Cloaks . . . he alone could see the full strangeness of the scene:
Snape in his nightshirt, Filch clutching the egg, and he, Harry, trapped
in the stairs behind them. Moody ’s lopsided gash of a mouth opened in
su rprise. For a few seconds, he and Harry stared straight into each
other ’s eyes. Then Moody closed his mouth and turned his blue eye
upon Snape again.
“Did I hear that correctly, Snape? ” he asked slowly. “Someone broke
into your office? ”
“It is unimpo rtant, ” said Snape coldly.
“On the contrary, ” growled Moody, “it is very important. Who ’d want
to break into your office? ”
“A student, I daresay, ” said Snape. Harry could see a vein flick - ering
horribly on Snape ’s greasy temple. “It has happened before. Potion
ingredients have gone missing from my private store cup - board . . .
students attempting illicit mixtures, no doubt. . . . ” “Reckon they were
after potion ingredients, eh? ” said Moody. “Not hiding anything else in
your office , are you? ”
Harry saw the edge of Snape ’s sallow face turn a nasty brick color, the
vein in his temple pulsing more rapidly.
“You know I ’m hiding nothing, Moody, ” he said in a soft and
dangerous voice, “as you ’ve searched my office pretty thoroughly
yourself. ”
Moody ’s face twisted into a smile. “Auror ’s privilege, Snape.
Dumbledore told me to keep an eye — ”
 471 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


“Dumbledore happens to trust me, ” said Snape through clenched
teeth. “I refuse to believe that he gave you orders to search my office! ”
“’Course Dumbledore trusts you, ” growled Moody. “He ’s a trusting
man, isn ’t he? Believes in second chances. But me — I say there are
spots that don ’t come off, Snape. Spots that never come off, d ’you
know what I mean? ”
Snape suddenly did something very strange. He seized his left forearm
convulsively with his right hand, as though something on it had hurt
him.
Moody laughed. “Get back to bed, Snape. ”
“You don ’t have the authority to sen d me anywhere! ” Snape hissed,
letting go of his arm as though angry with himself. “I have as much
right to prowl this school after dark as you do! ”
“Prowl away, ” said Moody, but his voice was full of menace. “I look
forward to meeting you in a dark corridor some time. . . . You ’ve
dropped something, by the way. . . . ”
With a stab of horror, Harry saw Moody point at the Marauder ’s Map,
still lying on the staircase six steps below him. As Snape and Filch both
turn ed to look at it, Harry threw caution to the winds; he raised his
arms under the cloak and waved furiously at Moody
to attract his attention, mouthing “It’s mine! Mine !”
Snape had reached out for it, a horrible expression of dawning
comprehension on his face —
“ Accio Parchment !”
The map flew up into the air, slipped through Snape ’s out - stretched
fingers, and soared down the stairs into Moody ’s hand. “My mistake, ”
Moody said calmly. “It’s mine — must ’ve dropped it earlier — ”
 472 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


But Snape ’s black eyes were darting from the egg in Filch ’s arms to the
map in Moody ’s hand, and Harry could tell he was putting two and two
together, as only Snape could. . . .
“Potter, ” he said qu ietly.
“What ’s that? ” said Moody calmly, folding up the map and pocketing
it.
“Potter! ” Snape snarled, and he actually turned his head and stared
right at the place where Harry was, as though he could sud - denly see
him. “That egg is Potter ’s egg. That piece of parchment belongs to
Potter. I have seen it before, I recognize it! Potter is here! Potter, in his
Invisibility Cloak! ”
Snape stretched out his hands like a blind man and began to move up
the stairs; Harry could have sworn his over -large nostrils were dilating,
trying to sniff Harry out — trapped, Harry leaned backward, trying to
avoid Snape ’s fingertips, but any moment now —
“There ’s nothing there, Snape! ” barked Moody, “but I ’ll be happy to
tell the headmaster how quickly your min d jumped to Harry Potter! ”
“Meaning what? ” Snape turned again to look at Moody, his hands still
outstretched, inches from Harry ’s chest.
“Meaning that Dumbledore ’s very interested to know who ’s got it in
for that boy! ” said Moody, limping nearer stil l to the foot of the stairs.
“And so am I, Snape . . . very interested. . . . ” The torch - light flickered
across his mangled face, so that the scars, and the chunk missing from
his nose, looked deeper and darker than ever. Snape was looking down
at Moody, and Harry couldn ’t see the expression on his face. For a
moment, nobody moved or said any - thing. Then Snape slowly
lowered his hands.
 473 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


“I merely thought, ” said Snape, in a voice of forced calm, “that if
Potter was wandering around after hours again . . . it ’s an unfortu - nate
habit of his . . . he should be stopped. For — for his own safety. ” “Ah,
I see, ” said Moody softly. “Got Potter ’s best interests at heart, have
you? ”
There was a pause. Sna pe and Moody were still staring at each other.
Mrs. Norris gave a loud meow, still peering around Filch ’s legs, looking
for the source of Harry ’s bubble -bath smell.
“I think I will go back to bed, ” Snape said curtly.
“Best idea you ’ve had all night, ” said Moody. “Now, Filch, if you ’ll just
give me that egg — ”
“No! ” said Filch, clutching the egg as though it were his first - born son.
“Professor Moody, this is evidence of Peeves ’ treachery! ” “It’s the
property of the champion he stole it from, ” said Mood y. “Hand it over,
now. ”
Snape swept downstairs and passed Moody without another word.
Filch made a chirruping noise to Mrs. Norris, who stared blankly at
Harry for a few more seconds before turning and fol - lowing her
master. Still breathing very fast, Harry heard Snape walking away down
the corridor; Filch handed Moody the egg and disappeared from view
too, muttering to Mrs. Norris. “Never mind, my sweet . . . we ’ll see
Dumbledore in the morning . . . tell him what Peeves was up to. . . . ”
A door slammed. Harry was left staring down at Moody, who placed
his staff on the bottommost stair and started to climb labo -
riously toward him, a dull clunk on every other step.
“Close shave, Potter, ” he muttered .
“Yeah . . . I — er . . . thanks, ” said Harry weakly.
 474 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


“What is this thing? ” said Moody, drawing the Marauders Map out of
his pocket and unfolding it.
“Map of Hogwarts, ” said Harry, hoping Moody was going to pull him
out of the staircase soon; his leg was really hurting him. “Merlin ’s
beard, ” Moody whispered, staring at the map, his mag - ical eye going
haywire. “This . . . this is some map, Potter! ” “Yeah, it ’s . . . quit e
useful, ” Harry said. His eyes were starting to water from the pain. “Er
— Professor Moody, d ’you think you could help me — ?”
“What? Oh! Yes . . . yes, of course . . . ”
Moody took hold of Harry ’s arms and pulled; Harry ’s leg came free of
the trick st ep, and he climbed onto the one above it. Moody was still
gazing at the map.
“Potter . . . ” he said slowly, “you didn ’t happen, by any chance, to see
who broke into Snape ’s office, did you? On this map, I mean? ”
“Er . . . yeah, I did . . . ” Harry admit ted. “It was Mr. Crouch. ” Moody ’s
magical eye whizzed over the entire surface of the map. He looked
suddenly alarmed.
“Crouch? ” he said. “You ’re — you ’re sure, Potter? ”
“Positive, ” said Harry.
“Well, he ’s not here anymore, ” said Moody, his eye still whizzing over
the map. “Crouch . . . that ’s very — very interesting. . . . ” He said
nothing for almost a minute, still staring at the map. Harry could tell
that this news meant something to Moody and very much wanted to
know what it was. He wondered whethe r he dared ask. Moody scared
him slightly . . . yet Moody had just helped him avoid an awful lot of
trouble. . . .
 475 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


“Er . . . Professor Moody . . . why d ’you reckon Mr. Crouch wanted to
look around Snape ’s office? ”
Moody ’s magical eye left the map and fixed, quivering, upon Harry. It
was a penetrating glare, and Harry had the impression that Moody was
sizing him up, wondering whether to answer or not, or how much to
tell him.
“Put it this way, Potter, ” Moody muttered finally, “they say old
Mad -Eye ’s obsessed with catching Dark wizards . . . but I ’m noth -
ing — nothing — compared to Barty Crouch. ”
He continued to stare at the map. Harry was burning to know more.
“Professor Moody? ” he said again. “D ’you think . . . could this have
anything to do with . . . maybe Mr. Crouch thinks there ’s something
going on. . . . ”
“Like what? ” said Moody sharply.
Harry wondered how much he dare say. He didn ’t want Moody to
guess that he had a source of information outside Hogwarts; that
might lead to tricky questions about Sirius.
“I don ’t know, ” Harry muttered, “odd stuff ’s been happening
lately, hasn ’t it? It ’s been in the Daily Prophet . . . the Dark Mark at
the World Cup, and the Death Eaters and everything. . . . ”
Both of Moody ’s mismatched eyes widened.
“You ’re a sharp boy, Potter, ” he said. His magical eye roved back to
the Marauder ’s Map. “Crouch could be thinking along those lines, ” he
said slowly. “Very possible . . . there have been some funny rumors
flying around lately — helped along by Rita Skeeter, of course. It ’s
making a lot of people nervous, I reckon. ” A grim smile twisted his
lopsided mouth. “Oh if there ’s one thing I hate, ” he muttered, m ore to
himself than to Harry, and his magical eye
 476 ‘

THE EGG AND THE
EYE


was fixed on the left -hand corner of the map, “it’s a Death Eater who
walked free. . . . ”
Harry stared at him. Could Moody possibly mean what Harry thought
he meant?
“And now I want to ask you a question, Potter, ” said Moody in a
more businesslike tone.
Harry ’s heart sank; he had thought this was coming. Moody was going
to ask where he had got this map, which was a very dubious magical
object — and the story of how it had fallen into his hands incriminated
not only him, but his own father, Fred and George Weasley, and
Professor Lupin, their last Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Moo dy waved the map in front of Harry, who braced himself —
“Can I borrow this? ”
“Oh! ” said Harry.
He was very fond of his map, but on the other hand, he was ex -
tremely relieved that Moody wasn ’t asking where he ’d got it, and there
was no doubt that he owed Moody a favor.
“Yeah, okay. ”
“Good boy, ” growled Moody. “I can make good use of this . . .
this might be exactly what I ’ve been looking for. . . . Right, bed,
Potter, come on, now. . . . ”
They climbed to the top of the stairs together, Moody still ex - amining
the map as though it was a treasure the like of which he had never seen
before. They walked in silence to the door of Moody ’s office, where he
stopped and looked up at Harry.
“You eve r thought of a career as an Auror, Potter? ”
“No, ” said Harry, taken aback.
“You want to consider it, ” said Moody, nodding and looking
 477 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -FIVE


at Harry thoughtfully. “Yes, indeed . . . and incidentally . . . I ’m
guessing you weren ’t just taking that egg for a walk tonight? ”
“Er — no, ” said Harry, grinning. “I’ve been working out the clue. ”
Moody winked at him, his magical eye going haywire again. “Nothing
like a n ighttime stroll to give you ideas, Potter. . . . See you in the
morning. . . . ”
He went back into his office, staring down at the Marauder ’s Map
again, and closed the door behind him.
Harry walked slowly back to Gryffindor Tower, lost in thought about
Sn ape, and Crouch, and what it all meant. . . . Why was Crouch
pretending to be ill, if he could manage to get to Hogwarts when he
wanted to? What did he think Snape was concealing in his office?
And Moody t hought he, Harry, ought to be an Auror! Interest - ing
idea . . . but somehow, Harry thought, as he got quietly into his
four -poster ten minutes later, the egg and the cloak now safely back in
his trunk, he thought he ’d like to check how scarred the rest of them
were before he chose it as a career.











 478 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
S I X









THE SECOND
TASK




ou said you ’d already worked out that egg clue! ” said
Y
Hermione indignantly.
“Keep your voice down! ” said Harry crossly. “I just need to — sort of
fine -tune it, all right? ”
He, Ron, and Hermione were sitting at the very back of the Charms
class with a table to themselves. They were supposed to be practicing

the opposite of the Summoning Charm today — the Banishing Charm.
Owing to the potential for nasty accidents when objects kept flying
across the room, Professor Flitwick had given each student a stack of
cushions on which to practice, the theo ry being that these wouldn ’t
hurt anyone if they went off target. It was a good theory, but it wasn ’t
working very well. Neville ’s aim was so poor that he kept accidentally
sending much heavier things flying across the room — Professor
Flitwick, for instan ce.
“Just forget the egg for a minute, all right? ” Harry hissed as Pro - fessor
Flitwick went whizzing resignedly past them, landing on top
 479 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

of a large cabinet. “I’m trying to tell you about Snape and Moody. . . . ”
This class was an ideal cover for a private conversation, as every - one
was having far too much fun to pay them any attention. Harry had
been recounting his adventures of the previous night in whis - pered
installments for the last half hour.
“Snape said Moody ’s searched his office as well? ” Ron whispered, his
eyes alight with interest as he Banished a cushion with a sweep of his
wand (it soared into the air and knocked Parvati ’s hat off). “What . . .
d’you reckon Moody ’s here to keep an eye on Snape as well as
Karkaroff? ”
“Well, I dunno if that ’s what Dumbledore asked him to do, but he ’s
definitely doing it, ” said Harry, waving his wand without pay - ing much
attention, so that his cushion did an o dd sort of belly flop off the desk.
“Moody said Dumbledore only lets Snape stay here because he ’s giving
him a second chance or something. . . . ” “What? ” said Ron, his eyes
widening, his next cushion spinning high into the air, ricocheting off
the chandel ier, and dropping heavily onto Flitwick ’s desk. “Harry . . .
maybe Moody thinks
Snape put your name in the Goblet of Fire! ”
“Oh Ron, ” said Hermione, shaking her head sceptically, “we thought
Snape was trying to kill Harry before, and it turned out he was saving
Harry ’s life, remember? ”
She Banished a cushion and it flew across the room and landed in the
box they were all supposed to be aiming at. Harry looked at Hermione,
thinking . . . it was true that Snape had saved his life once, but the odd
thi ng was, Snape definitely loathed him, just as he ’d loathed Harry ’s
father when they had been at school together. Snape loved taking
points from Harry, and had certainly never
 480 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

missed an opportunity to give him punishments, or even to suggest
that he should be suspended from the school.
“I don ’t care what Moody says, ” Hermione went on. “Dumble - dore ’s
not stupid. He was right to trust Hagrid and Professor Lupin, even
though lo ads of people wouldn ’t have given them jobs, so why
shouldn ’t he be right about Snape, even if Snape is a bit — ”
“— evil, ” said Ron promptly. “Come on, Hermione, why are all these
Dark wizard catchers searching his office, then? ”
“Why has Mr. Crouch been pretending to be ill? ” said Hermi - one,
ignoring Ron. “It’s a bit funny, isn ’t it, that he can ’t manage to come to
the Yule Ball, but he can get up here in the middle of the night when he
wants to? ”
“You just don ’t like Crouch be cause of that elf, Winky, ” said Ron,
sending a cushion soaring into the window.
“ You just want to think Snape ’s up to something, ” said Her -
mione, sending her cushion zooming neatly into the box.
“I just want to know what Snape did with his first ch ance, if he ’s on his
second one, ” said Harry grimly, and his cushion, to his very great
surprise, flew straight across the room and landed neatly on top of
Hermione ’s.

Obedient to Sirius ’s wish of hearing about anything odd at Hog - warts,
Harry sent him a letter by brown owl that night, explaining all about
Mr. Crouch breaking into Snape ’s office, and Moody and Snape ’s
conversation. Then Harry turned his attention in earnest to the most
urgent problem facing him: how to survive unde rwater for an hour on
the twenty -fourth of February.
Ron quite liked the idea of using the Summoning Charm again —
Harry had explained about Aqua -Lungs, and Ron couldn ’t
 481 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

see why Harry shouldn ’t Summon one from the nearest Muggle town.
Hermione squashed this plan by pointing out that, in the un - likely
event that Harry managed to learn how to operate an Aqua - Lung
within the set limit of an hour, he was sure to be disqualified for
breaking the I nternational Code of Wizarding Secrecy — it was too
much to hope that no Muggles would spot an Aqua -Lung zooming
across the countryside to Hogwarts.
“Of course, the ideal solution would be for you to Transfigure yourself
into a submarine or something, ” He rmione said. “If only we ’d done
human Transfiguration already! But I don ’t think we start that until
sixth year, and it can go badly wrong if you don ’t know what you ’re
doing. . . . ”
“Yeah, I don ’t fancy walking around with a periscope sticking out of
m y head, ” said Harry. “I s ’pose I could always attack some - one in
front of Moody; he might do it for me. . . . ”
“I don ’t think he ’d let you choose what you wanted to be turned into,
though, ” said Hermione seriously. “No, I think your best chance is
some s ort of charm. ”
So Harry, thinking that he would soon have had enough of the library
to last him a lifetime, buried himself once more among the dusty
volumes, looking for any spell that might enable a hu - man to survive
without oxygen. However, though he, Ron, and Hermione searched
through their lunchtimes, evenings, and whole weekends — though
Harry asked Professor McGonagall for a note of permission to use the
Restricted Section, and even asked the ir - ritable, vulture -like librarian,
Madam Pince, for hel p — they found nothing whatsoever that would
enable Harry to spend an hour underwater and live to tell the tale.
Familiar flutterings of panic were starting to disturb Harry now,
 482 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

and he was finding it difficult to concentrate in class again. The lake,
which Harry had always taken for granted as just another fea - ture of
the grounds, drew his eyes whenever he was near a class - room
window, a great, iron -gray mass of chilly water, wh ose dark and icy
depths were starting to seem as distant as the moon.
Just as it had before he faced the Horntail, time was slipping away as
though somebody had bewitched the clocks to go extra - fast. There
was a week to go before February the twenty -four th (there was still
time) . . . there were five days to go (he was bound
to find something soon) . . . three days to go ( please let me find
something . . . please ) . . .
With two days left, Harry started to go off food again. The only good
thing about breakfast on Monday was the return of the brown owl he
had sent to Sirius. He pulled off the parchment, unrolled it, and saw
the shortest letter Sirius had ever written to him.

Send date of next Hogsmeade weekend by return owl.

Harry turned the parchment over and looked at the back, hop - ing to
see something else, but it was blank.
“Weekend after next, ” whispered Hermione, who had read the note
over Harry ’s shoulder. “Here — take my quill and send this owl back
straight away. ”
Harry scribbled the dates down on the back of Sirius ’s letter, tied it
onto the brown owl ’s leg, and watched it take flight again. What had he
expected? Advice on how to survive underwater? He had been so
intent on telling Sirius all about Snape and Moo dy he had completely
forgotten to mention the egg ’s clue.
 483 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

“What ’s he want to know about the next Hogsmeade weekend for? ”
said Ron.
“Dunno, ” said Harry dully. The momentary happiness that had flared
inside him at the sight of the owl had died. “Come on . . . Care of
Magical Creatures. ”
Whether Hagrid was trying to make up for the Blast -Ended Skrewts, or
because there were now only two skrewts left, or be - cause he was
trying to prove he could do anything that Professor Grubbly -Plank
could, Harry didn ’t know, but Hagrid had been continuing her lessons
on unicorns ever since he ’d returned to work. It turned out that Hagrid
knew quite as much about uni - corns as he did about monsters, though
it was clear that he found their lack of poisonous fangs disappointing.
Today he had managed to capture two unicorn foals. Unlike
full -grown unicorns, they were pure gold. Parvati and Lavender went
into transports of deli ght at the sight of them, and even Pansy
Parkinson had to work hard to conceal how much she liked them.
“Easier ter spot than the adults, ” Hagrid told the class. “They turn
silver when they ’re abou ’ two years old, an ’ they grow horns at aroun ’
four. Don ’ go pure white till they ’re full grown, ’round about seven.
They ’re a bit more trustin ’ when they ’re babies . . . don ’ mind boys so
much. . . . C ’mon, move in a bit, yeh can pat ’em if yeh want . . .
give ’em a few o ’ these sugar lumps. . . .
“You okay, H arry? ” Hagrid muttered, moving aside slightly, while
most of the others swarmed around the baby unicorns. “Yeah, ” said
Harry.
“Jus ’ nervous, eh? ” said Hagrid.
“Bit, ” said Harry.
“Harry, ” said Hagrid, clapping a massive hand on his shoulder,
 484 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

so that Harry ’s knees buckled under its weight, “I’d’ve bin worried
before I saw yeh take on tha ’ Horntail, but I know now yeh can do
anythin ’ yeh set yer mind ter. I ’m not worried at all. Yeh ’re goin ’ ter be
fine. Got yer clue worked out, haven ’ yeh? ”
Harry nodded, but even as he did so, an insane urge to confess that he
didn ’t have any idea how to survive at the bottom of the lake for an
hour came over him. He looked up at Hagrid — per - haps he had to
go into the lake sometimes, to deal with the crea - tures in it? He looked
after everything else on the grounds, after all —
“Yeh ’re goin ’ ter win, ” Hagrid growled, patting Harry ’s shoulder again,
so that Harry actually felt himself sink a couple of inches
into the soft ground. “I know it. I can feel it. Yeh ’re goin ’ ter win,
Harry. ”
Harry just couldn ’t bring himself to wipe the happy, confident smile
off Hagrid ’s face. Pretending he was interested in the young unicorns,
he forced a smile in return, and moved forward to pat them with the
others.

By the evening before the second task, Harry felt as though he were
trapped in a nightmare. He was fully aware that even if, by some
miracle, he managed to find a su itable spell, he ’d have a real job
mastering it overnight. How could he have let this happen? Why
hadn ’t he got to work on the egg ’s clue sooner? Why had he ever let his
mind wander in class — what if a teacher had once mentioned how to
breathe underwater?
He sat with Hermione and Ron in the library as the sun set out - side,
tearing feverishly through page after page of spells, hidden from one
another by the massive piles of books on the desk in front
 485 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

of each of them. Harry ’s heart gave a huge leap every time he saw the
word “water ” on a page, but more often than not it was merely “Take
two pints of water, half a pound of shredded mandrake leaves, and a
newt . . . ”
“I don ’t reckon it can be don e,” said Ron ’s voice flatly from the
other side of the table. “There ’s nothing. Nothing. Closest was that
thing to dry up puddles and ponds, that Drought Charm, but that was
nowhere near powerful enough to drain the lake. ”
“There must be something, ” Hermione muttered, moving a candle
closer to her. Her eyes were so tired she was poring over the
tiny print of Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes with
her nose about an inch from the page. “They ’d never have set a t ask
that was undoable. ”
“They have, ” said Ron. “Harry, just go down to the lake tomor - row,
right, stick your head in, yell at the merpeople to give back whatever
they ’ve nicked, and see if they chuck it out. Best you can do, mate. ”
“There ’s a way of doi ng it! ” Hermione said crossly. “There just has to
be! ”
She seemed to be taking the library ’s lack of useful information on the
subject as a personal insult; it had never failed her before. “I know
what I should have done, ” said Harry, resting, face -
down, on Saucy Tricks for Tricky Sorts. “I should ’ve learned to be an
Animagus like Sirius. ”
An Animagus was a wizard who could transform into an animal. “Yeah,
you could ’ve turned into a goldfish any time you wanted! ” said Ron.
“Or a frog, ” yawne d Harry. He was exhausted. “It takes years to
become an Animagus, and then you have to
 486 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

register yourself and everything, ” said Hermione vaguely, now
squinting down the index of Weird Wizarding Dilemmas and Their
Solutions. “Professor McGonagall told us, remember . . . you ’ve
got to register yourself with the Improper Use of Magic Office . . .
what animal you become, and your markings, so you can ’t abuse it. . . . ”
“Hermio ne, I was joking, ” said Harry wearily. “I know I haven ’t got a
chance of turning into a frog by tomorrow morning. . . . ”
“Oh this is no use, ” Hermione said, snapping shut Weird Wiz -
arding Dilemmas. “Who on earth wants to make their nose hair
grow into ringlets? ”
“I wouldn ’t mind, ” said Fred Weasley ’s voice. “Be a talking point,
wouldn ’t it? ”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked up. Fred and George had just
emerged from behind some bookshelves.
“What ’re you two doing here? ” Ron asked.
“Lookin g for you, ” said George. “McGonagall wants you, Ron. And
you, Hermione. ”
“Why? ” said Hermione, looking surprised.
“Dunno . . . she was looking a bit grim, though, ” said Fred. “We ’re
supposed to take you down to her office, ” said George. Ron and
Hermione stared at Harry, who felt his stomach drop. Was Professor
McGonagall about to tell Ron and Hermione off? Perhaps she ’d
noticed how much they were helping him, when he ought to be
working out how to do the task alone?
“We ’ll meet you bac k in the common room, ” Hermione told Harry as
she got up to go with Ron — both of them looked very anxious.
“Bring as many of these books as you can, okay? ”
“Right, ” said Harry uneasily.
 487 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

By eight o ’clock, Madam Pince had extinguished all the lamps and
came to chivvy Harry out of the library. Staggering under the weight of
as many books as he could carry, Harry returned to the Gryffindor
common room, pulled a table into a corner, and con -
tinued to search. There was nothing in Madcap Magic for Wacky
Warlocks . . . nothing in A Guide to Medieval Sorcery . . . not one
mention of underwater exploits in An Anthology of Eighteenth -
Century Charms , or in Dreadful Denizens of the Deep , or Powers
You Never Knew You Had and What to Do with Them Now You ’ve
Wised Up.
Crookshanks crawled into Harry ’s lap and curled up, purring deeply.
The common room emptied slowly around Harry. People kept wishing
him luck for the next morning in cheery, confident voices like Hagrid ’s,
all of them apparently convinced that he was about to pull off another
stunning performance like the one he had managed in the first task.
Harry couldn ’t answer them, he just nod - ded, feeling as though there
were a golfball stuck in his throat. By ten to midnight, he was alone in
the room with Crookshanks. He had searched all the remaining books,
and Ron and Hermione had not come back.
It’s over, he told himself. You c an ’t do it. You ’ll just have to go down
to the lake in the morning and tell the judges. . . .
He imagined himself explaining that he couldn ’t do the task. He
pictured Bagman ’s look of round -eyed surprise, Karkaroff ’s satis - fied,
yellow -toothed smile. H e could almost hear Fleur Delacour
saying “ I knew it . . . ’ e is too young, ’e is only a little boy. ” He saw
Malfoy flashing his POTTER STINKS badge at the front of the
crowd, saw Hagrid ’s crestfallen, disbelieving face. . . .
Forgetting that Crookshanks was on his lap, Harry stood up
 488 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

very suddenly; Crookshanks hissed angrily as he landed on the floor,
gave Harry a disgusted look, and stalked away with his bot - tlebrush
tail in the air, but Harry was already hurrying up the spi - ral staircase to
his dormitory. . . . He would grab the Invisibility Cloak and go back to
the library, he ’d stay there all night if he had to. . . .
“ Lumos, ” Harry whispered fifteen m inutes later as he opened the
library door.
Wand tip alight, he crept along the bookshelves, pulling down more
books — books of hexes and charms, books on merpeople and water
monsters, books on famous witches and wizards, on magical
inventions, on anyt hing at all that might include one pass - ing
reference to underwater survival. He carried them over to a table, then
set to work, searching them by the narrow beam of his wand,
occasionally checking his watch. . . .
One in the morning . . . two in the mor ning . . . the only way
he could keep going was to tell himself, over and over again, next
book . . . in the next one . . . the next one . . .

The mermaid in the painting in the prefects ’ bathroom was laugh - ing.
Harry was bobbing like a cork in bubbly water next to her rock, while
she held his Firebolt over his head.
“Come and get it! ” she giggled maliciously. “Come on, jump! ” “I
can ’t,” Harry panted, snatching at the Firebolt, and struggling not to
sink. “Give it to me! ”
But she just poked him painfully in the side with the end of the
broomstick, laughing at him.
“That hurts — get off — ouch — ”
“Harry Potter must wake up, sir! ”
 489 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

“Stop poking me — ”
“Dobby must poke Harry Potter, sir, he must wake up! ” Harry opened
his eyes. He was still in the library; the Invisibil - ity Cloak had slipped
off his head as he ’d slept, and the side of his
face was stuck to the pages of Where There ’s a Wand, There ’s a Way.
He sat up, straightening his glasses, blinking in the bright daylight.
“Harry Potter needs to hurry! ” squeaked Dobby. “The second task
starts in ten minutes, and Harry Potter — ”
“Ten minutes? ” Harry croaked. “Ten — ten minut es ?”
He looked down at his watch. Dobby was right. It was twenty past nine.
A large, dead weight seemed to fall through Harry ’s chest into his
stomach.
“Hurry, Harry Potter! ” squeaked Dobby, plucking at Harry ’s sleeve.
“You is supposed to be down by t he lake with the other champions,
sir! ”
“It’s too late, Dobby, ” Harry said hopelessly. “I’m not doing the task, I
don ’t know how — ”
“Harry Potter will do the task! ” squeaked the elf. “Dobby knew
Harry had not found the right book, so Dobby did it for him! ”
“What? ” said Harry. “But you don ’t know what the second task
is — ”
“Dobby knows, sir! Harry Potter has to go into the lake and find his
Wheezy — ”
“Find my what? ”
“— and take his Wheezy back from the merpeople! ”
“What ’s a Wheezy ?”
“Your Wheezy, sir, your Wheezy — Wheezy who is giving Dobby his
sweater! ”
 490 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

Dobby plucked at the shrunken maroon sweater he was now wearing
over his shorts.
“ What ?” Harry
gasped. “They ’ve got . . . they ’ve got Ron ?”
“The thing Harry Potter will miss most, sir! ” squeaked Dobby.
“‘ But past an hour — ’”
“— ‘the prospect ’s black, ’” Harry recited, staring, horror -struck, at
the elf. “‘ Too late, it ’s gone, it won ’t come back .’ Dobby — what ’ve I
got to do? ”
“You has to eat this, sir! ” squeaked the elf, and he put his hand in the
pocket of his shorts and drew out a ball of what looked like slimy,
grayish -green rat tails. “Right before you go into the lake, sir —
gillyweed! ”
“What ’s it do? ” said Harry, staring at the gillyweed. “It will make Harry
Potter breathe underwater, sir! ” “Dobby, ” said Harry frantically,
“listen — are you sure about this? ”
He couldn ’t quite forget that the last time Dobby had tried to “help ”
him, he had ended up with no bones in his right arm. “Dobby is quite
sure, sir! ” said the elf earnestly. “Dobby hears things, sir, he is a
house -elf, he goes all over the castle as he lights the fires and mops the
floors. Dobby heard Professor McGonagall and Pr ofessor Moody in
the staffroom, talking about the next task. . . . Dobby cannot let Harry
Potter lose his Wheezy! ”
Harry ’s doubts vanished. Jumping to his feet he pulled off the
Invisibility Cloak, stuffed it into his bag, grabbed the gillyweed, and put
it into his pocket, then tore out of the library with Dobby at his heels.
“Dobby is supposed to be in the kitchens, sir! ” Dobby squealed
 491 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

as they burst into the corridor. “Dobby will be missed — good luck,
Harry Potter, sir, good luck! ”
“See you later, Dobby! ” Harry shouted, and he sprinted along the
corridor and down the stairs, three at a time.
The entrance hall contained a few last -minute stragglers, all leaving the
Great Hall after breakfast and heading through the double oak doors
to watch the second task. They stared as Harry flashed past, sending
Colin and Dennis Creevey flying as he leapt down the stone steps and
out onto the bright, chilly grounds.
As he pound ed down the lawn he saw that the seats that had en - circled
the dragons ’ enclosure in November were now ranged along the
opposite bank, rising in stands that were packed to the bursting point
and reflected in the lake below. The excited babble of the crowd
echoed strangely across the water as Harry ran flat -out around the
other side of the lake toward the judges, who were sit - ting at another
gold -draped table at the water ’s edge. Cedric, Fleur, and Krum were
beside the judges ’ table, watching Harry sprint to - ward them.
“I’m . . . here . . . ” Harry panted, skidding to a halt in the mud and
accidentally splattering Fleur ’s robes.
“Where have you been? ” said a bossy, disapproving voice. “The task ’s
about to start! ”
Harry looked around. Percy Weasley was sitting at the judges ’ table —
Mr. Crouch had failed to turn up again.
“Now, now, Percy! ” said Ludo Bagman, who was looking in - tensely
relieved to see Harry. “Let him catch his breath! ” Dumbledore smiled
at Harry, b ut Karkaroff and Madame Maxime didn ’t look at all pleased
to see him. . . . It was obvious
 492 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

from the looks on their faces that they had thought he wasn ’t going to
turn up.
Harry bent over, hands on his knees, gasping for breath; he had a stitch
in his side that felt as though he had a knife between his ribs, but there
was no time to get rid of it; Ludo Bagman was now moving among the
champions, spacing them along the bank at in- tervals of ten feet.
Harry was on the very end of the line, next to Krum, who was wearing
swimming trunks and was holding his wand ready.
“All right, Harry? ” Bagman whispered as he moved Harry a few feet
farther away from Krum. “Know what you ’re goin g to do? ” “Yeah, ”
Harry panted, massaging his ribs.
Bagman gave Harry ’s shoulder a quick squeeze and returned to the
judges ’ table; he pointed his wand at his throat as he had done
at the World Cup, said, “ Sonorus !” and his voice boomed out across
the dark water toward the stands.
“Well, all our champions are ready for the second task, which will start
on my whistle. They have precisely an hour to recover what has been
taken from them. On the count of three, then.
One . . . two . . . three !”
The whistle echoed shrilly in the cold, still air; the stands erupted with
cheers and applause; without looking to see what the other champions
were doing, Harry pulled off his shoes and socks, pulled the handful of
gillyweed out of his pocket, stuffed it into his mouth, and waded out
into the lake.
It was so cold he felt the skin on his legs searing as though this were fire,
not icy water. His sodden robes weighed him down as he walked in
deeper; now the water was over his knees, and his rapidly
 4 93 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

numbing feet were slipping over silt and flat, slimy stones. He was
chewing the gillyweed as hard and fast as he could; it felt unpleas - antly
slimy and rubbery, like octopus tentacles. Waist -deep in the freezing
water he stopped, swallowed, and waited for something to happen.
He could hear laughter in the crowd and knew he must look stu - pid,
walking into the lake without showing any sig n of magical power. The
part of him that was still dry was covered in goose pim - ples; half
immersed in the icy water, a cruel breeze lifting his hair, Harry started
to shiver violently. He avoided looking at the stands; the laughter was
becoming louder, a nd there were catcalls and jeer - ing from the
Slytherins. . . .
Then, quite suddenly, Harry felt as though an invisible pillow had been
pressed over his mouth and nose. He tried to draw breath, but it made
his head spin; his lungs were empty, and he su ddenly felt a piercing
pain on either side of his neck —
Harry clapped his hands around his throat and felt two large slits
just below his ears, flapping in the cold air. . . . He had gills. With -
out pausing to think, he did the only thing that made sense — he flung
himself forward into the water.
The first gulp of icy lake water felt like the breath of life. His head had
stopped spinning; he took another great gulp of water and felt it pass
smoothly through his gills, sending oxygen back to his brain. He
stretched out his hands in front of him and stared at them. They
looked green and ghostly under the water, and they had become
webbed. He twisted around and looked at his bare feet — they had
become elongated and the toes were webbed too: It looked as though
he had sprouted flippers.
The water didn ’t feel icy anymore either . . . on the contrary, he
 494 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

felt pleasantly cool and very light. . . . Harry struck out once more,
marveling at ho w far and fast his flipper -like feet propelled him
through the water, and noticing how clearly he could see, and how he
no longer seemed to need to blink. He had soon swum so far into the
lake that he could no longer see the bottom. He flipped over and
dived into its depths.
Silence pressed upon his ears as he soared over a strange, dark, foggy
landscape. He could only see ten feet around him, so that as he sped
through the water new scenes seemed to loom suddenly out of the
oncoming darkness: forests of rippling, tangled black weed, wide
plains of mud littered with dull, glimmering stones. He swam deeper
and deeper, out toward the middle of the lake, his eyes wide, staring
through the eerily gray -lit water around h im to the shadows beyond,
where the water became opaque.
Small fish flickered past him like silver darts. Once or twice he thought
he saw something larger moving ahead of him, but when he got nearer,
he discovered it to be nothing but a large, blackened log, or a dense
clump of weed. There was no sign of any of the other champions,
merpeople, Ron — nor, thankfully, the giant squid.
Light green weed stretched ahead of him as far as he could see, two
feet deep, like a meadow of very overgrown grass. Harry was staring
unblinkingly ahead of him, trying to discern shapes through the
gloom . . . and then, without warning, something grabbed hold of his
ankle.
Harry twisted his body around and saw a grindylow, a small, horned
water demon, poking out of the w eed, its long fingers clutched tightly
around Harry ’s leg, its pointed fangs bared — Harry stuck his webbed
hand quickly inside his robes and fumbled
 495 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

for his wand. By the time he had gr asped it, two more grindylows had
risen out of the weed, had seized handfuls of Harry ’s robes, and were
attempting to drag him down.
“ Relashio !” Harry shouted, except that no sound came out. . . . A
large bubble issued from his mouth, and his wand, ins tead of send - ing
sparks at the grindylows, pelted them with what seemed to be a jet of
boiling water, for where it struck them, angry red patches appeared on
their green skin. Harry pulled his ankle out of the grindylows grip and
swam, as fast as he could , occasionally sending more jets of hot water
over his shoulder at random; every now and then he felt one of the
grindylows snatch at his foot again, and he kicked out, hard; finally, he
felt his foot connect with a horned skull, and looking back, saw the
dazed grindylow floating away, cross -eyed, while its fellows shook
their fists at Harry and sank back into the weed.
Harry slowed down a little, slipped his wand back inside his robes, and
looked around, listening again. He turned full circle in the water , the
silence pressing harder than ever against his eardrums. He knew he
must be even deeper in the lake now, but nothing was moving but the
rippling weed.
“How are you getting on? ”
Harry thought he was having a heart attack. He whipped around and
saw Moaning Myrtle floating hazily in front of him, gazing at him
through her thick, pearly glasses.
“Myrtle! ” Harry tried to shout — but once again, nothing came out of
his mouth but a very large bubble. Moaning Myrtle actually giggled.
“You want to try over there! ” she said, pointing. “I won ’t come
 496 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

with you. . . . I don ’t like them much, they always chase me when I get
too close. . . . ”
Harry gave her the thumbs -up to show his thanks and set off once
more, careful to swim a bit higher over the weed to avoid any more
grindylows that might be lurking there.
He swam on for what felt like at least twenty minutes. He was passing
over vast exp anses of black mud now, which swirled murk - ily as he
disturbed the water. Then, at long last, he heard a snatch of haunting
mersong.

“ An hour long you ’ll have to look,
And to recover what we took . . . ”

Harry swam faster and soon saw a large rock emerge out of the muddy
water ahead. It had paintings of merpeople on it; they were carrying
spears and chasing what looked like the giant squid. Harry swam on
past the rock, following the mersong.

“. . . your time ’s half gone, so tarry not
Lest what you seek stays here to rot . . . . ”

A cluster of crude stone dwellings stained with algae loomed suddenly
out of the gloom on all sides. Here and there at the dark windows,
Harry saw faces . . . faces that bore no resemblance at all to the painting
of the mermaid in the prefects ’ bathroom. . . .
The merpeople had grayish skin and long, wild, dark green hair. Their
eyes were yellow, as were their broken teeth, and they wore thick ropes
of pebbles around their necks. They leered at Harry as
 497 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

he swam past; one or two of them emerged from their caves to watch
him better, their powerful, silver fish tails beating the water, spears
clutched in their hands.
Harry sped on, staring around, and soon the dwellings became more
numerous; there were gardens of weed around some of them, and he
even saw a pet grindy low tied to a stake outside one door. Merpeople
were emerging on all sides now, watching him eagerly, pointing at his
webbed hands and gills, talking behind their hands to one another.
Harry sped around a corner and a very strange sight met his eyes.
A whole crowd of merpeople was floating in front of the houses that
lined what looked like a mer -version of a village square. A choir of
merpeople was singing in the middle, calling the cham - pions toward
them, and behind them rose a crude sort of statue; a gigantic
merperson hewn from a boulder. Four people were bound tightly to
the tail of the stone merperson.
Ron was tied between Hermione and Cho Chang. There was also a girl
who looked no older than eight, whose clouds of silvery hair made
Harry feel su re that she was Fleur Delacour ’s sister. All four of them
appeared to be in a very deep sleep. Their heads were lolling onto their
shoulders, and fine streams of bubbles kept issu - ing from their
mouths.
Harry sped toward the hostages, half expecting the merpeople to lower
their spears and charge at him, but they did nothing. The ropes of weed
tying the hostages to the statue were thick, slimy, and very strong. For
a fleeting second he thought of the knife Sirius had bought him for
Christmas — locked in hi s trunk in the castle a quarter of a mile away,
no use to him whatsoever.
He looked around. Many of the merpeople surrounding them
 498 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

were carrying spears. He swam swiftly toward a seven -foot -tall
merman with a long green beard and a choker of shark fangs and tried
to mime a request to borrow the spear. The merman laughed and
shook his head.
“We do not help, ” he said in a harsh, croaky voice.
“Come ON !” Harry said fiercely (but only bubbles is sued from
his mouth), and he tried to pull the spear away from the merman, but
the merman yanked it back, still shaking his head and laughing. Harry
swirled around, staring about. Something sharp . . . any - thing . . .
There were rocks littering the lake bottom. He dived and snatched up a
particularly jagged one and returned to the statue. He began to hack at
the ropes binding Ron, and after several min - utes ’ hard work, they
broke apart. Ron floated, unconscious, a few inches above the lake
bottom, drifting a little in the ebb of the water.
Harry looked around. There was no sign of any of the other
champions. What were they playing at? Why didn ’t they hurry up? He
turned back to Hermione, raised the jagged rock, and b egan to hack at
her bindings too —
At once, several pairs of strong gray hands seized him. Half a dozen
mermen were pulling him away from Hermione, shaking their
green -haired heads, and laughing.
“You take your own hostage, ” one of them said to him. “Leave the
others . . . ”
“No way! ” said Harry furiously — but only two large bubbles came
out.
“Your task is to retrieve your own friend . . . leave the others . . . ”
“ She ’s my friend too! ” Harry yelled, gesturing toward Hermione,
 499 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

an enormous silver bubble emerging soundlessly from his lips. “And
I don ’t want them to die either! ”
Cho ’s head was on Hermione ’s shoulder; the small silver -haired girl
was ghostly green and pale. Harry struggled to fight off the mermen,
but they laughed harder than ever, holding him back. Harry looked
wildly around. Where were the other champions? Would he have time
to take Ron to the surface and come back down for Hermione and
the others? Would he be able to find them again? He looked down at
his watch to see how much time was left — it had stopped working.
But then the merpeople around him pointed excitedly over his head.
Harry looked up and saw Cedric swimming toward them. There was an
enormous bubble around his head, which made his features look oddly
wide and stretched.
“Got lost! ” he mouthed, looking panic -stricken. “Fleur and Krum ’re
coming now! ”
Feeling enormously relieved, Harry watched Cedric pull a knife out of
his pocket and cut Cho free. He pulled her upward and out of sight.
Harry looked around, waiting. Where were Fleur and Krum? Time
was getting short, and according to the song, the hostages would be
lost after an hour. . . .
The merpeople started screeching animatedly. Those holding Harry
loosened their grip, staring behind them. Harry turned and saw
something monstrous cutting through the water toward them: a
human body in swimming trunks with the head of a shark. . . . It wa s
Krum. He appeared to have transfigured himself — but badly. The
shark -man swam straight to Hermione and began snapping and biting
at her ropes; the trouble was that Krum ’s new teeth were
 500 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

position ed very awkwardly for biting anything smaller than a dol - phin,
and Harry was quite sure that if Krum wasn ’t careful, he was going to
rip Hermione in half. Darting forward, Harry hit Krum hard on the
shoulder and held up the jagged stone. Krum seized it an d began to cut
Hermione free. Within seconds, he had done it; he grabbed Hermione
around the waist, and without a backward glance, began to rise rapidly
with her toward the surface.
Now what ? Harry thought desperately. If he could be sure that
Fleur was coming. . . . But still no sign. There was nothing to be done
except . . .
He snatched up the stone, which Krum had dropped, but the mermen
now closed in around Ron and the little girl, shaking their heads at him.
Harry pulled out his wand.
“Get out of the way! ”
Only bubbles flew out of his mouth, but he had the distinct impression
that the mermen had understood him, because they suddenly stopped
laughing. Their yellowish eyes were fixed upon Harry ’s wand, and they
looked scared. There migh t be a lot more of them than there were of
him, but Harry could tell, by the looks on their faces, that they knew
no more magic than the giant squid did.
“You ’ve got until three! ” Harry shouted; a great stream of bub - bles
burst from him, but he held up three fingers to make sure they got the
message. “One . . . ” (he put down a finger) “two . . . ” (he put down a
second one) —
They scattered. Harry darted forward and began to hack at the ropes
binding the small girl to the statue, and at last she was free. He seized
the little girl around the waist, grabbed the neck of Ron ’s robes, and
kicked off from the bottom.
 501 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

It was very slow work. He could no longer use his webbed hands to
propel himself forward; he worked his flippers furiously, but Ron and
Fleur ’s sister were like potato -filled sacks dragging him back down. . . .
He fixed his eyes skyward, though he knew he must still be very deep,
the water above him was so dark. . . . Merpeople were rising with him.
He could see them swirling around him with ease, watching him
struggle through the wa - ter. . . . Would they pull him back down to
the depths when the time was up? Did they perhaps eat humans?
Harry ’s legs were seiz - ing up with the effort to keep swimming; his
shoulders were aching horribly with the effort of dragging Ron and the
girl. . . .
He was drawing breath with extreme difficulty. He could feel pain on
the sides of his neck again . . . he was becoming very aware of how wet
the water was in his mouth . . . yet the darkness was definitely thinning
now . . . he could see daylight above him. . . . He kicked hard with his
flippers and discovered that they were nothing more than feet . . . water
was flooding through his mouth into his lungs . . . he was starting to
feel dizzy, but he knew light and air were only ten feet above him . . . he
had to get there . . . he had to . . .
Harry kicked his legs so hard and fast it felt as though his mus - cles
were screaming in protest; his very brain felt waterlogged, he couldn ’t
breathe, he needed oxygen, he had to keep going, he could not stop —
And then he felt his head break the surface of the lake; wonder - ful,
cold, clear air was making his wet face sting; he gulped it down, feeling
as though he had never breathed properly before, and, pant - ing, pulled
Ron and the little girl up with him. All around him,
 502 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

wild, green -haired heads were emerging out of the water with him, but
they were smiling at him.
The crowd in the stands was making a great deal of noise; shout - ing
and screaming, they all seemed to be on their feet; Harry had the
impression they though t that Ron and the little girl might be dead, but
they were wrong . . . both of them had opened their eyes; the girl
looked scared and confused, but Ron merely expelled a great spout of
water, blinked in the bright light, turned to Harry, and said, “Wet, t his,
isn ’t it? ” Then he spotted Fleur ’s sister. “What did you bring her for? ”
“Fleur didn ’t turn up, I couldn ’t leave her, ” Harry panted. “Harry, you
prat, ” said Ron, “you didn ’t take that song thing se - riously, did you?
Dumbledore wouldn ’t have let any of us drown! ” “The song said — ”
“It was only to make sure you got back inside the time limit! ” said Ron.
“I hope you didn ’t waste time down there acting the hero! ”
Harry felt both stupid and annoyed. It was all very well for Ron;
he’d been asleep, he hadn ’t felt how eerie it was down in the lake,
surrounded by spear -carrying merpeople who ’d looked more than
capable of murder.
“C’mon, ” Harry said shortly, “help me with her, I don ’t think she can
swim very well. ”
They pulled Fleur ’s sister through the water, back toward the bank
where the judges stood watching, twenty merpeople accompanying
them like a guard of honor, singing their horrible screechy songs. Harry
could see Madam Pomfrey fussing over Hermione, Krum, Cedric, and
Cho, all of whom were wrapped in thick blankets.
 503 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

Dumbledore and Ludo Bagman stood beaming at Harry and Ron from
the bank as they swam nearer, but Percy, who looked very white and
som ehow much younger than usual, came splashing out to meet them.
Meanwhile Madame Maxime was trying to restrain Fleur Delacour,
who was quite hysterical, fighting tooth and nail to return to the water.
“Gabrielle! Gabrielle ! Is she alive ? Is she ’urt ?”
“She ’s fine! ” Harry tried to tell her, but he was so exhausted he could
hardly talk, let alone shout.
Percy seized Ron and was dragging him back to the bank ( “Ger - roff,
Percy, I ’m all right! ”); Dumbledore and Bagman were pulling Harry
upright; Fl eur had broken free of Madame Maxime and was hugging
her sister.
“It was ze grindylows . . . zey attacked me . . . oh Gabrielle, I thought . . .
I thought . . . ”
“Come here, you, ” said Madam Pomfrey. She seized Harry and pulled
him over to Hermione and t he others, wrapped him so tightly in a
blanket that he felt as though he were in a straitjacket, and forced a
measure of very hot potion down his throat. Steam gushed out of his
ears.
“Harry, well done! ” Hermione cried. “You did it, you found out how
all by yourself! ”
“Well — ” said Harry. He would have told her about Dobby, but he
had just noticed Karkaroff watching him. He was the only judge who
had not left the table; the only judge not showing signs of pleasure and
relief that Harry, Ron, and Fleur ’s s ister had got back safely. “Yeah,
that ’s right, ” said Harry, raising his voice slightly so that Karkaroff
could hear him.
“You haff a water beetle in your hair, Herm -own -ninny, ” said
 504 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

Krum. Harry had the impression that Krum was drawing her at -
tention back onto himself; perhaps to remind her that he had just
rescued her from the lake, but Hermione brushed away the beetle
impatiently and said, “You ’re well outside the time limit, though ,
Harry. . . . Did it take you ages to find us? ”
“No . . . I found you okay. . . . ”
Harry ’s feeling of stupidity was growing. Now he was out of the water,
it seemed perfectly clear that Dumbledore ’s safety precau - tions
wouldn ’t have permitted the deat h of a hostage just because their
champion hadn ’t turned up. Why hadn ’t he just grabbed Ron and gone?
He would have been first back. . . . Cedric and Krum hadn ’t wasted
time worrying about anyone else; they hadn ’t taken the mersong
seriously. . . .
Dumbledore was crouching at the water ’s edge, deep in conver - sation
with what seemed to be the chief merperson, a particularly wild and
ferocious -looking female. He was making the same sort of screechy
noises that the merpeople made when they were above w a- ter; clearly,
Dumbledore could speak Mermish. Finally he straight - ened up,
turned to his fellow judges, and said, “A conference before we give the
marks, I think. ”
The judges went into a huddle. Madam Pomfrey had gone to rescue
Ron from Percy ’s clutch es; she led him over to Harry and the others,
gave him a blanket and some Pepperup Potion, then went to fetch
Fleur and her sister. Fleur had many cuts on her face and arms and her
robes were torn, but she didn ’t seem to care, nor would she allow
Madam Pom frey to clean them.
“Look after Gabrielle, ” she told her, and then she turned to Harry.
“You saved ’er, ” she said breathlessly. “Even though she was not
your ’ostage. ”
 505 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

“Yeah, ” said Harry, who was now heartily wishing he ’d left all three
girls tied to the statue.
Fleur bent down, kissed Harry twice on each cheek (he felt his face
burn and wouldn ’t have been surprised if steam was coming out of his
ears again), then said to Ro n, “And you too — you ’elped — ”
“Yeah, ” said Ron, looking extremely hopeful, “yeah, a bit — ” Fleur
swooped down on him too and kissed him. Hermione looked simply
furious, but just then, Ludo Bagman ’s magically magnified voice
boomed out beside them, ma king them all jump, and causing the
crowd in the stands to go very quiet.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our decision. Merchief -
tainess Murcus has told us exactly what happened at the bottom of the
lake, and we have therefore decided to award mar ks out of fifty for
each of the champions, as follows. . . .
“Fleur Delacour, though she demonstrated excellent use of the
Bubble -Head Charm, was attacked by grindylows as she ap - proached
her goal, and failed to retrieve her hostage. We award her twenty -five
points. ”
Applause from the stands.
“I deserved zero, ” said Fleur throatily, shaking her magnificent head.
“Cedric Diggory, who also used the Bubble -Head Charm, was first to
return with his hostage, though he returned one minute outside the
time limit of an hour. ” Enormous cheers from the Huf - flepuffs in the
crowd; Harry saw Cho give Cedric a glowing look. “We therefore
award him forty -seven points. ”
Harry ’s heart sank. If Cedric had been outside the time limit, he most
certai nly had been.
 506 ‘

THE SECOND TASK

“Viktor Krum used an incomplete form of Transfiguration, which
was nevertheless effective, and was second to return with his hostage.
We award him forty points. ”
Karkaroff clapped particularly hard, looking very superior. “Harry
Potter used gillyweed to great effect, ” Bagman contin - ued. “He
returned last, and well outside the time limit of an hour. However, the
Merchieftainess informs us that Mr. Potter was first to reach the
hostages, and that the delay in his return was due to his determination
to return all hostages to safety, not merely his own. ”
Ron and Hermione both gave Harry half -exasperated, half -
commiserating looks.
“Most of the judges, ” and here, Bagman gave Karkaroff a very nasty
look, “feel that this shows moral fiber and merits full marks.
However . . . Mr. Potter ’s score is forty -five points. ”
Harry ’s stomach leapt — he was now tying for first place with
Cedric. Ron and Hermione, caught by surprise, stared at Harry, then
laughed and started applauding hard with the rest of the crowd. “There
you go, Harry! ” Ron shouted over the noise. “You weren ’t being thick
after all — you were showing moral fiber! ” Fleur was clapping very
hard too, but K rum didn ’t look happy at all. He attempted to engage
Hermione in conversation again, but she was too busy cheering Harry
to listen.
“The third and final task will take place at dusk on the twenty - fourth
of June, ” continued Bagman. “The champions wil l be noti - fied of
what is coming precisely one month beforehand. Thank you all for
your support of the champions. ”
It was over, Harry thought dazedly, as Madam Pomfrey began herding
the champions and hostages back to the castle to get into
 507 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX

dry clothes . . . it was over, he had got through . . . he didn ’t have to
worry about anything now until June the twenty -fourth. . . . Next time
he was in Hogsmeade, Harry decided as he walked back up the stone
steps into the castle, he was going to buy Dobby a pair of socks for
every day of the year.



























 508 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
S E V E N









PADFOOT
RETURNS




ne of the best things about the aftermath of the second task
O
was that everybody was very keen to hear details of what had happened
down in the lake, which meant that Ron was getting to share Harry ’s
limelight for once. Harry noticed that Ron ’s ver - sion of events
changed subtly with every retelling. At first, he gave what seemed to be
the truth; it tallied with Hermione ’s story, any - way — Du mbledore

had put all the hostages into a bewitched sleep in Professor
McGonagall ’s office, first assuring them that they would be quite safe,
and would awake when they were back above the water. One week
later, however, Ron was telling a thrilling tale of kidnap in which he
struggled single -handedly against fifty heav - ily armed merpeople who
had to beat him into submission before tying him up.
“But I had my wand hidden up my sleeve, ” he assured Padma Patil,
who seemed to be a lot keener on Ron now that he was get - ting so
much attention and was making a point of talking to him
 509 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


every time they passed in the corridors. “I could ’ve taken those
mer -idiots any time I wanted. ”
“What were you going to do, snore at them? ” said Hermione waspishly.
People had been teasing her so much about being the thing that Viktor
Krum would most miss that she was in a rather tetchy mood.
Ron ’s ears went red, and thereafter, he reverted to the bewitched sleep
version of events.
As they entered March the weather became drier, but cruel winds
skinned their hands and faces every time they went out onto the
grounds. There were delays in the post because the owls kept being
blown off course. The b rown owl that Harry had sent to Sir - ius with
the dates of the Hogsmeade weekend turned up at break - fast on
Friday morning with half its feathers sticking up the wrong way; Harry
had no sooner torn off Sirius ’s reply than it took flight, clearly afraid it
was going to be sent outside again.
Sirius ’s letter was almost as short as the previous one.

Be at stile at end of road out of Hogsmeade (past Dervish and Banges) at
two o ’clock on Saturday afternoon. Bring as much food as you can.

“He hasn ’t come back to Hogsmeade? ” said Ron incredulously.
“It looks like it, doesn ’t it? ” said Hermione.
“I can ’t believe him, ” said Harry tensely, “if he ’s caught . . . ” “Made it
so far, though, hasn ’t he? ” said Ron. “And it ’s not like the place is
swarming w ith dementors anymore. ”
Harry folded up the letter, thinking. If he was honest with him - self, he
really wanted to see Sirius again. He therefore approached
 510 ‘

PADFOOT RETURNS

the final lesson of the afternoon — double Potions — feeling con -
siderably more cheerful than he usually did when descending the steps
to the dungeons.
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were standing in a huddle outside the
classroom door with Pansy Parkinson ’s gang of Slytherin girls. All of
the m were looking at something Harry couldn ’t see and snig - gering
heartily. Pansy ’s pug -like face peered excitedly around Goyle ’s broad
back as Harry, Ron, and Hermione approached. “There they are, there
they are! ” she giggled, and the knot of Slytherins bro ke apart. Harry
saw that Pansy had a magazine in her
hands — Witch Weekly . The moving picture on the front showed a
curly -haired witch who was smiling toothily and pointing at a large
sponge cake with her wand.
“You might find something to interest you in there, Granger! ” Pansy
said loudly, and she threw the magazine at Hermione, who caught it,
looking startled. At that moment, the dungeon door opened, and
Snape beckoned them all inside.
Hermione, Harry, and Ron headed for a table at the back of the
dungeon as usual. Once Snape had turned his back on them to write up
the ingredients of today ’s potion on the blackboard, Hermione hastily
rifled through the magazine under the desk. At last, in the center pages,
Hermi one found what they were looking for. Harry and Ron leaned in
closer. A color photograph of Harry headed a short piece entitled:
Harry Potter ’s Secret Heartache
A boy like no other, perhaps — yet a boy suffering
all the usual pangs of adolescence, writ es Rita
Skeeter. Deprived of love since the tragic demise
 511 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


of his parents, fourteen -year -old Harry Potter
thought he had found solace in his steady girlfriend
at Hogwarts, Muggle -born Hermione Granger.
Little did he know that he would shortly be suffer -
ing yet another emotional blow in a life already lit -
tered with personal loss.
Miss Granger, a plain but ambitious girl, seems to
have a taste for famous wiz ards that Harry alone
cannot satisfy. Since the arrival at Hogwarts of Vik -
tor Krum, Bulgarian Seeker and hero of the last
World Quidditch Cup, Miss Granger has been toy -
ing with both boys ’ affections. Krum, who is openly
smitten with the devious Miss Gr anger, has already
invited her to visit him in Bulgaria over the summer
holidays, and insists that he has “never felt this way
about any other girl. ”
However, it might not be Miss Granger ’s doubt - ful
natural charms that have captured these unfor -
tunate boys ’ interest.
“She ’s really ugly, ” says Pansy Parkinson, a pretty
and vivacious fourth -year student, “but she ’d be well
up to making a Love Potion, she ’s quite brainy. I
think that ’s how she ’s doing it. ”
Love Potions are, of course, banned at Hog - warts,
and no doubt Albus Dumbledore will want to
investigate these claims. In the meantime, Harry
Potter ’s well -wishers must hope that, next time, he
bestows his heart on a worthier candidate.

 512 ‘

PADFOOT RETURNS

“I told you! ” Ron hissed at Hermione as she stared down at the
article. “I told you not to annoy Rita Skeeter! She ’s made you out to
be some sort of — of scarlet woman! ”
Hermione stopped looking astonished and snorted with laughter.
“ Scarlet w oman ?” she repeated, shaking with suppressed giggles as
she looked around at Ron.
“It’s what my mum calls them, ” Ron muttered, his ears going red.
“If that ’s the best Rita can do, she ’s losing her touch, ” said Her -
mione, still giggling, as she threw Witch Weekly onto the empty
chair beside her. “What a pile of old rubbish. ”
She looked over at the Slytherins, who were all watching her and Harry
closely across the room to see if they had been upset by the articl e.
Hermione gave them a sarcastic smile and a wave, and she, Harry, and
Ron started unpacking the ingredients they would need for their
Wit -Sharpening Potion.
“There ’s something funny, though, ” said Hermione ten minutes later,
holding her pestle suspended over a bowl of scarab beetles. “How
could Rita Skeeter have known . . . ? ”
“Known what? ” said Ron quickly. “You haven ’t been mixing up
Love Potions, have you? ”
“Don ’t be stupid, ” Hermione snapped, starting to po und up her
beetles again. “No, it ’s just . . . how did she know Viktor asked me to
visit him over the summer? ”
Hermione blushed scarlet as she said this and determinedly avoided
Ron ’s eyes.
“What? ” said Ron, dropping his pestle with a loud clunk. “He ask ed
me right after he ’d pulled me out of the lake, ”
 513 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


Hermione muttered. “After he ’d got rid of his shark ’s head. Madam
Pomfrey gave us both blankets and then he sort of pulled me away
from the judges so they wouldn ’t hear, and he said, if I wasn ’t doing
anything over the summer, would I like to — ”
“And what did you say? ” said Ron, who had picked up his pestle and
was grinding it on the desk, a good six inches from his bowl, because
he was looking at Hermione.
“And he did say he ’d never felt the same way about anyone else, ”
Hermione went on, going so red now that Harry could almost feel the
heat coming from her, “but how could Rita Skeeter have heard
him? She wasn ’t there . . . or was she? Maybe she has got an Invisi -
bility Cloak; maybe she sneaked onto the grounds to watch the sec -
ond task. . . . ”
“And what did you say? ” Ron repeated, pounding his pestle down so
hard that it dented the desk.
“Well, I was too b usy seeing whether you and Harry were okay to — ”
“Fascinating though your social life undoubtedly is, Miss Granger, ”
said an icy voice right behind them, and all three of them jumped, “I
must ask you not to discuss it in my class. Ten points from
Gryffind or. ”
Snape had glided over to their desk while they were talking. The whole
class was now looking around at them; Malfoy took the op -
portunity to flash POTTER STINKS across the dungeon at Harry.
“Ah . . . reading magazines under the table as well? ” Snape
added, snatching up the copy of Witch Weekly. “A further ten points
from Gryffindor . . . oh but of course . . . ” Snape ’s black eyes glit - tered
as they fell on Rita Skeeter ’s article. “Potter has to keep up with his
press cuttings. . . . ”
 514 ‘

PADFOOT RETURNS

The dungeon rang with the Slytherins ’ laughter, and an un - pleasant
smile curled Snape ’s thin mouth. To Harry ’s fury, he began to read the
article aloud.
“‘Harry Potter ’s Secret Heartache . . . dear, dear, Potter, what ’s ail -
ing you now? ‘A boy like no other, perhaps . . . ’”
Harry could feel his face burning. Snape was pausing at the end of
every sentence to allow the Slytherins a hearty laugh. The article
sounded ten times worse when read by Snape. Even Hermione was
blushing scarlet now.
“‘. . . Harry Potter ’s well -wishers must hope that, next time, he be -
stows his heart upon a worthier candidate. ’ How very touching, ”
sneered Snape, rolling up the magazine to continued gales of laughter
from the Slytherins. “Well, I think I had better separate the three of
you, so you can keep your minds on your potions rather than on your
tangled love lives. Weasley, you stay here. Mi ss Granger, over there,
beside Miss Parkinson. Potter — that table in front of my desk. Move.
Now. ”
Furious, Harry threw his ingredients and his bag into his caul - dron
and dragged it up to the front of the dungeon to the empty table. Snape
followed, sat down at his desk and watched Harry un - load his
cauldron. Determined not to look at Snape, Harry re - sumed the
mashing of his scarab beetles, imagining each one to have Snape ’s face.
“All this press attention seems to have inflated your already over - large
head, Potter, ” said Snape quietly, once the rest of the class had settled
down again.
Harry didn ’t answer. He knew Snape was trying to provoke him; he
had done this before. No doubt he was hoping for an excuse to take a
round fifty points from Gryffin dor before the end of the class.
 515 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


“You might be laboring under the delusion that the entire wiz - arding
world is impressed with you, ” Snape went on, so quietly that no one
else could hear him (Harry continued to pound his scarab beetles, even
though he had already reduced them to a very fine powder), “but I
don ’t care how many times your picture ap - pears in the papers. To
me, Potter, you are nothing but a nasty lit- tle boy who considers rules
to be beneath him. ”
Harry tipped the powdered beetles into his cauldron and started
cutting up his ginger roots. His hands were shaking slightly out of
anger, but he kept his eyes down, as though he couldn ’t hear what
Snap e was saying to him.
“So I give you fair warning, Potter, ” Snape continued in a softer and
more dangerous voice, “pint -sized celebrity or not — if I catch you
breaking into my office one more time — ”
“I haven ’t been anywhere near your office! ” said Harry angrily,
forgetting his feigned deafness.
“Don ’t lie to me, ” Snape hissed, his fathomless black eyes boring into
Harry ’s. “Boomslang skin. Gillyweed. Both come from my private
stores, and I know who stole them. ”
Harry stared back at Snap e, determined not to blink or to look guilty.
In truth, he hadn ’t stolen either of these things from Snape. Hermione
had taken the boomslang skin back in their second year — they had
needed it for the Polyjuice Potion — and while Snape had suspected
Harry at the time, he had never been able to prove it. Dobby, of course,
had stolen the gillyweed.
“I don ’t know what you ’re talking about, ” Harry lied coldly. “You were
out of bed on the night my office was broken into! ” Snape hissed. “I
know it, Potter! Now , Mad -Eye Moody might have joined your fan
club, but I will not tolerate your behavior!

 516 ‘

PADFOOT RETURNS

One more nighttime stroll into my office, Potter, and you will pay!
“Right, ” said Harry coolly, turning back to his ginger roots. “I’ll bear
that in mind if I ever get the urge to go in there. ”
Snape ’s eyes flashed. He plunged a hand into the inside of his black
robes. For one wild moment, Harry thought Snape was about to pull
out his wand and curse him — then he saw that Snape had drawn out a
small crystal bottle of a completely clear po - tion. Harry stared at it.
“Do you know what this is, Potter? ” Snape said, his eyes glitter - ing
dangerously again.
“No, ” said Harry, with c omplete honesty this time. “It is Veritaserum
— a Truth Potion so powerful that three drops would have you
spilling your innermost secrets for this entire class to hear, ” said Snape
viciously. “Now, the use of this potion is con - trolled by very strict
Ministry guidelines. But unless you watch
your step, you might just find that my hand slips ” — he shook the
crystal bottle slightly — “right over your evening pumpkin juice. And
then, Potter . . . then we ’ll find out whether you ’ve been in my office or
not. ”
Harry said nothing. He turned back to his ginger roots once more,
picked up his knife, and started slicing them again. He didn ’t like the
sound of that Truth Potion at all, nor would he put it past Sna pe to slip
him some. He repressed a shudder at the thought of what might come
spilling out of his mouth if Snape did it . . . quite apart from landing a
whole lot of people in trouble — Hermione and Dobby for a start —
there were all the other things he wa s concealing . . . like the fact that he
was in contact with Sirius . . . and — his insides squirmed at the
thought — how he felt about
 517 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


Cho. . . . He tipped his ginger roots into the cauldron too, and
wondered whether he ought to take a leaf out of Moody ’s book and
start drinking only from a private hip flask.
There was a knock on the dungeon door.
“Enter, ” said Snape in his usual voic e.
The class looked around as the door opened. Professor Karkaroff
came in. Everyone watched him as he walked up toward Snape ’s desk.
He was twisting his finger around his goatee and looking agitated.
“We need to talk, ” said Karkaroff abruptly when he ha d reached Snape.
He seemed so determined that nobody should hear what he was saying
that he was barely opening his lips; it was as though he were a rather
poor ventriloquist. Harry kept his eyes on his ginger roots, listening
hard.
“I’ll talk to you aft er my lesson, Karkaroff, ” Snape muttered, but
Karkaroff interrupted him.
“I want to talk now, while you can ’t slip off, Severus. You ’ve been
avoiding me. ”
“After the lesson, ” Snape snapped.
Under the pretext of holding up a measuring cup to see if he ’d poured
out enough armadillo bile, Harry sneaked a sidelong glance at the pair
of them. Karkaroff looked extremely worried, and Snape looked angry.
Karkaroff hovered behind Snape ’s desk for the rest of the double
period. He seemed intent on preve nting Snape from slipping away at
the end of class. Keen to hear what Karkaroff wanted to say, Harry
deliberately knocked over his bottle of armadillo bile with two minutes
to go to the bell, which gave him an excuse to duck
 518 ‘

PADFOOT RETURNS

down behind his cauldron and mop up while the rest of the class
moved noisily toward the door.
“What ’s so urgent? ” he heard Snape hiss at Karkaroff.
“ This ,” said Karkaroff, and Harry, peering around the edge of his
cauldron, saw Karkaroff pull up the left -hand sleeve of his robe and
show Snape something on his inner forearm.
“Well? ” said Karkaroff, still making every effort not to move his lips.
“Do you see? It ’s never been this clear, never since — ”
“Put it away! ” snarled Snape, his black eyes sweeping the class - room.
“But you must have noticed — ” Karkaroff began in an agitated voice.
“We can talk later, Karkaroff! ” spat Snape. “Potter! What are you
doing? ”
“Clearing up my armadillo bile, Professor, ” said Harry inno - cently,
straightening up and showing Snape the sodden rag he was holding.
Karkaroff turned on his heel and strode out of the dungeon. He
looked both worried and a ngry. Not wanting to remain alone with an
exceptionally angry Snape, Harry threw his books and ingredi - ents
back into his bag and left at top speed to tell Ron and Hermione what
he had just witnessed.

They left the castle at noon the next day to find a weak silver sun
shining down upon the grounds. The weather was milder than it had
been all year, and by the time they arrived in Hogsmeade, all three of
them had taken off their cloaks and thrown them over their shoulders.
The food Sirius had told them to bring was in
 519 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


Harry ’s bag; they had sneaked a dozen chicken legs, a loaf of bread,
and a flask of pumpkin juice from the lunch table.
They went into Gladrags Wizardwear to buy a present for Dobby,
where they had fun selecting the most lurid socks they could find,
including a pair patterned with flashing gold and silver stars, and
another that screamed loudly when they became too smelly. Then, at
half past one, they made their way up the High Street, past Dervish and
Banges, and out toward the edge of the village.
Harry had never been in this direction before. The winding lane was
leading them out into the wild countryside around Hogsmeade. The
cottages were fewer here, and their gardens larger; they were walking
toward the foot of the mountain in whose shadow Hogsmeade lay.
Then they turned a corner and saw a stile at the end of the lane.
Waiting for them, its front paws on the t opmost bar, was a very large,
shaggy black dog, which was carrying some newspapers in its mouth
and looking very familiar. . . .
“Hello, Sirius, ” said Harry when they had reached him. The black dog
sniffed Harry ’s bag eagerly, wagged its tail once, then t urned and began
to trot away from them across the scrubby patch of ground that rose to
meet the rocky foot of the mountain. Harry, Ron, and Hermione
climbed over the stile and followed. Sirius led them to the very foot of
the mountain, where the ground was covered with boulders and rocks.
It was easy for him, with his four paws, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione
were soon out of breath. They followed Sirius higher, up onto the
mountain itself. For nearly half an hour they climbed a steep, winding,
and stony
 5 20 ‘

PADFOOT RETURNS

path, following Sirius ’s wagging tail, sweating in the sun, the shoul - der
straps of Harry ’s bag cutting into his shoulders.
Then, at last, Sirius slipped out of sight, and when they reached the
place where he had vanished, they saw a narrow fissure in the rock.
They squeezed into it and found themselves in a cool, dimly lit cave.
Tethered at the end of it, one end of his rope around a large rock, was
Buckbeak the hippogriff. Half gray horse, half giant ea - gle, Buckbeak ’s
fierce orange eye flashed at the sight of them. All three of them bowed
low to him, and after regarding them imperi - ously for a moment,
Buckbeak bent his scaly front knees and al - lowed Hermione to rush
forward and stroke hi s feathery neck. Harry, however, was looking at
the black dog, which had just turned into his godfather.
Sirius was wearing ragged gray robes; the same ones he had been
wearing when he had left Azkaban. His black hair was longer than it
had been when he h ad appeared in the fire, and it was untidy and
matted once more. He looked very thin.
“Chicken! ” he said hoarsely after removing the old Daily Prophets
from his mouth and throwing them down onto the cave floor. Harry
pulled open his bag and handed over the bundle of chicken legs and
bread.
“Thanks, ” said Sirius, opening it, grabbing a drumstick, sitting down
on the cave floor, and tearing off a large chunk with his teeth. “I’ve
been living off rats mostly. Can ’t steal too much food from
Hogsmeade; I ’d draw attention to myself. ”
He grinned up at Harry, but Harry returned the grin only reluctantly.
“What ’re you doing here, Sirius? ” he said.
 521 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


“Fulfilling my duty as godfather, ” said Sirius, gnawing on the chicken
bone in a very doglike way. “Don ’t worry about it, I ’m pre - tending to
be a lovable stray. ”
He was still grinning, but seeing the anxiety in Harry ’s face, said more
seriously, “I want to be on the spot. Your last lette r . . . well, let ’s just
say things are getting fishier. I ’ve been stealing the paper every time
someone throws one out, and by the looks of things, I ’m not the only
one who ’s getting worried. ”
He nodded at the yellowing Daily Prophets on the cave floor, and
Ron picked them up and unfolded them. Harry, however, contin - ued
to stare at Sirius.
“What if they catch you? What if you ’re seen? ” “You three and
Dumbledore are the only ones around here who know I ’m an
Animagus, ” said Sirius, s hrugging, and continuing to devour the
chicken leg.
Ron nudged Harry and passed him the Daily Prophets. There
were two: The first bore the headline Mystery Illness of Bartemius
Crouch, the second, Ministry Witch Still Missing — Minister of
Magic Now Personally Involved.
Harry scanned the story about Crouch. Phrases jumped out at
him: hasn ’t been seen in public since November . . . house appears
deserted . . . St. Mungo ’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
decline comme nt . . . Ministry refuses to confirm rumors of critical
illness. . . .
“They ’re making it sound like he ’s dying, ” said Harry slowly. “But he
can ’t be that ill if he managed to get up here. . . . ”
“My brother ’s Crouch ’s personal assistant, ” Ron informed Sirius. “He
says Crouch is suffering from overwork. ”
 522 ‘

PADFOOT RETURNS

“Mind you, he did look ill, last time I saw him up close, ” said
Harry slowly, still reading the story. “The night my name came out of
the goblet. . . . ”
“Getting his comeuppance for sacking Winky, isn ’t he? ” said
Hermione, an edge to her voice. She was stroking Buckbeak, who was
crunching up Sirius ’s chicken bones. “I bet he wishes he hadn ’t done it
now — bet he feels the difference now she ’s not there to look after
him. ”
“Hermione ’s obsessed with house -elfs, ” Ron muttered to Sirius,
casting Hermione a dark look. Sirius, however, looked interested.
“Crouch sacked his house -elf? ”
“Yeah, at the Quidditch W orld Cup, ” said Harry, and he launched into
the story of the Dark Mark ’s appearance, and Winky being found with
Harry ’s wand clutched in her hand, and Mr. Crouch ’s fury. When
Harry had finished, Sirius was on his feet again and had started pacing
up and do wn the cave.
“Let me get this straight, ” he said after a while, brandishing a fresh
chicken leg. “You first saw the elf in the Top Box. She was sav - ing
Crouch a seat, right? ”
“Right, ” said Harry, Ron, and Hermione together.
“But Crouch didn ’t turn u p for the match? ”
“No, ” said Harry. “I think he said he ’d been too busy. ” Sirius paced all
around the cave in silence. Then he said, “Harry, did you check your
pockets for your wand after you ’d left the Top Box? ”
“Erm . . . ” Harry thought hard. “No, ” he said finally. “I didn ’t need to
use it before we got in the forest. And then I put my hand in my pocket,
and all that was in there were my Omnioculars. ” He
 523 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -SEVEN


stared at Sirius. “Are you saying whoever conjured the Mark stole my
wand in the Top Box? ”
“It’s possible, ” said Sirius.
“Winky didn ’t steal that wand! ” Hermione insisted. “The elf wasn ’t the
only one in that box, ” said Sirius, his brow furrowed as he continued to
pace. “Who else was sitting behind you? ”
“Loads of people, ” said Harry. “Some Bulgarian ministers . . .
Cornelius Fudge . . . the Malfoys . . . ”
“The Malfoys! ” said Ron suddenly, so loudly that his voice echoed all
around the cave, and Buckbeak tossed his head ner - vously. “I bet it
was Lucius Malfoy! ”
“Anyone else? ” said Sirius.
“No one, ” said Harry.
“Yes, there was, there was Ludo Bagman, ” Hermione reminded him.
“Oh yeah . . . ”
“I don ’t know anything about Bagman except that he used to be
Beater for the Wimbourne Wasps, ” said Sirius, still pacing. “What ’s he
like?