“Weasley... what is that?” said Malfoy, pointing at Pigwidgeon's cage. A
sleeve of Ron's dress robes was dangling from it, swaying 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 for him;
he seized the sleeve and pulled.
“Look at this!” said Malfoy in ecstasy, holding up Ron's robes and showing
Crabbe and Goyle, “Weasley, you weren't thinking of wearing these, were you?
I mean—they were very fashionable in about eighteen ninety...
“Eat dung, Malfoy!” said Ron, the same color as the dress robes as he snatched
them back out of Malfoy's grip. Malfoy howled with derisive laughter; Crabbe
and Goyle guffawed stupidly.
“So... going to enter, Weasley? Going to try and bring a bit of 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 Cornelius Fudge. But then, Father's always
associated with the top people at the Ministry... Maybe your father's too junior
to know about it, Weasley... yes... they probably don't talk about important
stuff in front of him...”
Laughing once more, Malfoy beckoned to Crabbe and Goyle, and the three of
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 single pane and back into the
“Well... making it look like he knows everything and we don't...” Ron snarled.
“Father's always associated with the top peopie 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,
“Him! Get to me!? As if!” said Ron, picking up one of the remaining Cauldron
Cakes and squashing it into a pulp.
Ron's bad mood 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 finally stopped in the pitch-darkness of Hogsmeade
As the train doors opened, there was a rumble of thunder overhead. Hermione
bundled up Crookshanks in her cloak and Ron left his dress robes over Pigwidgeon
as they left the train, heads bent and eyes narrowed against the downpour. The
rain was now coming down so thick and fast that it was as though buckets of
ice-cold water were being emptied repeatedly over their heads.
“Hi, Hagrid!” Harry yelled, seeing a gigantic silhouette at the far end of
“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
“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 Neville climbed gratefully into one of
them, the door shut with a snap, and a few moments later, with a great lurch,
the long procession of carriages was rumbling and splashing its way up the track
toward Hogwarts Castle.
THE TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT
Through the gates, flanked with statues of winged boars, and up the sweeping
drive the carriages trundled, swaying dangerously in what was fast becoming
a gale. Leaning against the window, Harry could see Hogwarts coming nearer,
its many lighted windows blurred and shimmering behind the thick curtain of
rain. Lightning flashed across the sky as their carriage came to a halt before
the great oak front doors, which stood at the top of a flight of stone steps.
People who had occupied the carriages in front were already hurrying up the
stone steps into the 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 everywhere, “if that
keeps up the lake's going to overflow. I'm soak—ARRGH!”
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.
People all around them shrieked and started pushing one another in their efforts
to get out of the line of fire. Harry looked up and saw, 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
“PEEVES!” yelled an angry voice. “Peeves, come down here at ONCE!”
Professor McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress and head of Gryffindor House, had
come dashing out of the Great Hall; she 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 McGonagall, 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
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 usual 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 side 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
that his head didn't wobble too much on his partially severed neck.
“Good evening,” he said, beaming at them.
“Says who?” said Harry, taking off his sneakers and emptying them of water.
“Hope they hurry up with the Sorting. I'm starving.”
The Sorting of the new students into Houses took place at the start of every
school year, but by an unlucky combination of circumstances, Harry hadn't been
present at one since his own. He was quite looking forward to it. Just then,
a highly excited, breathless voice called down the table.
It was Colin Creevey, a third year to whom Harry was something of a hero.
“Hi, Colin,” said Harry warily.
“Harry, guess what? Guess what, Harry? My brother's starting! My brother
“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 Hermione, 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
“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 fighting 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 missing.
“Where's the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?” said Hermione, who
was also looking up at the teachers.
They had never yet had a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who had lasted
more than three terms. Harry's favorite by far had been Professor Lupin, who
had resigned last year. He looked up and down the staff table. There was definitely
no new face there.
“Maybe they couldn't get anyone!” said Hermione, looking anxious.
Harry scanned the table more carefully. Tiny 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 Sinistra of the Astronomy department. On Professor Sinistra's
other side was the sallow-faced, hook-nosed, greasy-haired Potions master, Snape—Harry's
least favorite person at Hogwarts. Harry's loathing of Snape was matched only
by Snape's hatred of him, a hatred 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, which Harry guessed was Professor
McGonagall's. Next to it, and in the very center of the table, sat Professor
Dumbledore, the headmaster, his sweeping silver hair and beard shining in the
candlelight, his magnificent deep green robes embroidered with many stars and
moons. The 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.”
The words were no sooner out of his mouth than the doors of the Great Hall
opened and silence fell. Professor McGonagall was leading a long line of first
years up to the top of the Hall. If Harry, Ron, and Hermione were wet, it was
nothing to how these 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 staff table and came to a halt in a line
facing the rest of the school—all of them except the smallest of the lot, a
boy with mousy hair, who was wrapped in what Harry recognized as Hagrid's moleskin
overcoat. The coat was so big for him that it hooked as though he were draped
in a furry black circus tent. His small face 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 stared at it. So did everyone else. For a moment, there
was silence. Then a long tear near the brim opened wide like a mouth, and the
hat broke into song:
A thousand years or more ago,
When I was newly sewn,
There lived four wizards of renown,
Whose names are still well known:
Bold Gryffindor, from wild moor,
Fair Ravenclaw, from glen,
Sweet Hufflepuff, from valley broad,
Shrewd Slytherin, from fin.
They shared a wish, a hope, a dream,
They hatched a daring plan
To educate young sorcerers
Thus Hogwarts School began.
Now each of these four founders
Formed their own house, for each
Did value different virtues
In the ones they had to teach.
By Gryffindor, the bravest were
Prized far beyond the rest;
For Ravenclaw, the cleverest
Would always be the best;
For Hufflepuff, hard workers were
Most worthy of admission;
And power-hungry Slytherin
Loved those of great ambition.
While still alive they did divide
Their favorites from the throng,
Yet how to pick the worthy ones
When they were dead and gone?
'Twas Gryffindor who found the way,
He whipped me off his head
The founders put some brains in me
So I could choose instead!
Now slip me snug about your ears,
I've never yet been wrong,
I'll have a look inside your mind