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. “Hadn't you better
be hurrying along, now? You wouldn't like her spotted, would you?”
He nodded at Hermione, and at the same moment, a blast like a bomb sounded
from the campsite, and a flash of green light momentarily lit the trees around
“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 maliciously. “If you
think they can't spot a Mudblood, stay where you are.”
“You watch your mouth!” shouted Ron. Everybody present knew that “Mudblood”
was a very offensive term for a witch or wizard of Muggle parentage.
“Never mind, Ron,” said Hermione quickly, seizing Ron's arm to 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.”
“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 Hermione 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 nervously 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, “Ou est Madame Maxime?
Nous l'avons perdue—”
“Er—what?” said Ron.
“Oh...” The girl who had spoken turned her back on him, and as they walked
on they distinctly heard her say, “Ogwarts.”
“Beauxbatons,” muttered Hermione.
“Sorry?” said Harry.
“They must go to Beauxbatons,” said Hermione. “You know... Beauxbatons Academy
of Magic... I read about it in An Appraisal ofMagical Education in Europe.”
“Oh... yeah... right,” said Harry.
“Fred and George can't have gone that far,” said Ron, pulling out his wand,
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!”
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
“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
A rustling noise nearby made all three of them jump. Winky the house-elf
was fighting her way out of a clump of bushes nearby. She was moving in a most
peculiar fashion, apparently with great difficulty; 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 forced to start beating himself up.
“You know, house-elves get a very raw deal!” said Hermione indignantly. “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 to—”
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 undoubtedly 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 looked 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 dragon killer for the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures.”
“No, you're not!” yelled his friend. “You're a dishwasher at the Leaky Cauldron...
but I'm a vampire hunter, I've killed about ninety so far—”
A third young wizard, whose pimples were visible even by the dim, silvery
light of the veela, now cut in, “I'm about to become the youngest ever Minister
of Magic, I am.”
Harry snorted with laughter. He recognized the pimply wizard: His name was
Stan Shunpike, and he was in fact a conductor on the 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 completely, they were in the very heart of the
wood. They seemed to be alone now; everything was much quieter.
Harry looked around. “I reckon we can just wait here, you know. We'll hear
anyone coming a mile off.”
The words were hardly out of his mouth, when Ludo Bagman emerged from behind
a tree right ahead of them.
Even by the feeble light of the two wands, Harry could see that a great change
had come over Bagman. He no longer looked buoyant and rosy-faced; there was
no more spring in his step. He looked very white and strained.
“Who's that?” he said, blinking down at them, 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.
Bagman stared at him.
“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
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;
perhaps the riot was over.
“I hope the others are okay,” said Hermione after a while.
“They'll be fine,” said Ron.
“Imagine if your dad catches Lucius Malfoy,” said Harry, sitting down next
to Ron and watching the small figure of Krum slouching over the fallen leaves.
“He's always said he'd like to get something on him.”
“That'd wipe the smirk off old Draco's face, all right,” said Ron.
“Those poor Muggles, though,” said Hermione nervously. “What if they can't
get them down?”
“They will,” said Ron reassuringly. “They'll find a way.”
“Mad, though, to do something like that when the whole Ministry of Magic's
out here tonight!” said Hermione. “I mean, how do they expect to get away with
it? Do you think they've been drinking, or are they just—”
But she broke off abruptly and looked over her shoulder. Harry and Ron looked
quickly around too. It sounded as though someone was staggering toward their
clearing. They waited, listening to the sounds of the uneven steps behind the
dark trees. But the footsteps came to a sudden halt.
“Hello?” called Harry.
There was silence. Harry got to his feet and peered around the 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 unlike any they
had heard in the wood; and it uttered, not a panicked shout, but what sounded
like a spell.
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, staring up at the
thing that had appeared.
For a split second, Harry thought it was another leprechaun formation. Then
he realized that it was a colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald
stars, with a serpent 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.
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 his miniature Krum—the three of
them started across the clearing—but before they had taken a few hurried steps,
a series of popping noises announced the arrival of twenty wizards, appearing
from thin air, surrounding them.
Harry whirled around, and in an instant, he registered one fact: Each of
these wizards had his wand out, and every wand was pointing right at himself,
Ron, and Hermione.
Without pausing to think, he yelled, “DUCK!”
He seized the other two and pulled them down onto the ground.
“STUPEFY!” roared twenty voices—there was a blinding series of flashes and
Harry felt the hair on his head ripple as though a powerful wind had swept the
clearing. Raising his head a fraction of an inch he saw jets of fiery red light
flying over them from the wizards' wands, crossing one another, bouncing off
tree trunks, rebounding into the darkness—
“Stop!” yelled a voice he recognized. “STOP! That's my son!”
Harry's hair stopped blowing about. He raised his head a 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 you all right?”
“Out of the way, Arthur,” said a cold, curt voice.
It was Mr. Crouch. He and the other Ministry wizards were closing in on them.
Harry got to his feet to face them. Mr. Crouch's face was taut with rage.
“Which of you did it?” he snapped, his sharp eyes darting between them. “Which
of you conjured the Dark Mark?”
“We didn't do that!” said Harry, gesturing up at the skull.
“We didn't do anything!” said Ron, who was rubbing his elbow and looking
indignantly at his father. “What did you want to attack us for?”
“Do not lie, sir!” shouted Mr. Crouch. His wand was still pointing 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.