And tell where you belong!
The Great Hall rang with applause as the Sorting Hat finished.
“That's not the song it sang when it Sorted us,” said Harry, clapping along
with everyone else.
“Sings a different one every year,” said Ron. “It's got to be a pretty boring
life, hasn't it, being a hat? I suppose it spends all year making up the next
Professor McGonagall was now unrolling a large scroll of parchment.
“When I call out your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool,”
she told the first years. “When the hat announces your House, you will go and
sit at the appropriate table.
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.
Stewart Ackerley took off the hat and hurried into a seat at the Ravenclaw
table, where everyone was applauding him. Harry caught a glimpse of Cho, the
Ravenclaw Seeker, cheering Stewart Ackerley as he sat down. For a fleeting second,
Harry had a strange desire to join the Ravenclaw table too.
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.
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
misleading impression, for Harry, Ron, and Hermione knew Hagrid to possess a
very kind nature. He winked at them as he sat down at the end of the staff table
and watched Dennis Creevey putting on the Sorting Hat. The rip at the brim opened
“GRYFFINDOR!” the hat shouted.
Hagrid clapped along with the Gryffindors as Dennis Creevey, beaming widely,
took off the hat, placed it back on the stool, and hurried over to join his
“Colin, I fell in!” he said shrilly, throwing himself into an empty seat.
“It was brilliant! And something in the water grabbed me and pushed me back
in the boat!”
“Cool!” said Colin, just as excitedly. “It was probably the giant squid,
“Wow!” said Dennis, as though nobody in their wildest dreams could hope for
more than being thrown into a storm-tossed, fathoms-deep lake, and pushed out
of it again by a giant sea monster.
“Dennis! Dennis! See that boy down there? The one with the black hair and
glasses? See him? Know who he is, Dennis?”
Harry looked away, staring very hard at the Sorting Hat, now Sorting Emma
The Sorting continued; boys and girls with varying degrees of fright on their
faces moving one by one to the three-legged stool, the line dwindling slowly
as Professor McGonagall passed the L's.
“Oh hurry up,” Ron moaned, massaging his stomach.
“Now, Ron, the 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.
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 around at the
students, his arms opened wide in welcome.
“I have only two words to say to you,” he told them, his deep voice echoing
around the Hall. “Tuck in.”
“Hear, hear!” said Harry and Ron loudly as the empty dishes filled magically
before their eyes.
Nearly Headless Nick watched mournfully as Harry, Ron, and Hermione loaded
their own plates.
“Aaah, 'at's be'er,” said Ron, with his mouth full of mashed potato.
“You're lucky there's a feast at all tonight, you know,” said Nearly Headless
Nick. “There was trouble in the kitchens earlier.”
“Why? Wha' 'appened?” said Harry, through a sizable chunk of steak.
“Peeves, of course,” said Nearly Headless Nick, shaking his head, which wobbled
dangerously. He pulled his ruff a 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 Slytherin ghost, a gaunt and silent specter covered
in silver bloodstains. He was the only person at Hogwarts who could really control
“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—”
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 reaction.
“The largest number in any dwelling in Britain, I believe. Over a hundred.”
“I've never seen one!” said Hermione.
“Well, they hardly ever leave the kitchen by day, do they?” said Nearly Headless
Nick. “They come out at night to do a bit of cleaning... see to the fires and
so on... I mean, you're not supposed to see them, are you? That's the mark of
a good house-elf, isn't it, that you don't know it's there?”
Hermione stared at him.
“But they get paid?” she said. “They get holidays, don't they? And—and sick
leave, and pensions, and everything?”
Nearly Headless Nick 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 want sick leave
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 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 McGonagall that
he gave up.
When the puddings too had been demolished, and the last crumbs had faded
off the plates, leaving them sparkling clean, Albus Dumbledore got to his feet
again. The buzz of chatter filling the Hall ceased almost at once, so that only
the howling wind and pounding rain could be heard.
“So!” said Dumbledore, smiling around at them all. “Now that we are all fed
and watered,” (“Hmph!” said Hermione) “I must once more ask for your 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 Hogsmeade to all below third year.
“It is also my painful duty to inform you that the Inter-House Quidditch
Cup will not take place this year.”
“What?” Harry gasped. He looked around at Fred and George, his fellow members
of the Quidditch team. They were mouthing soundlessly at Dumbledore, apparently
too appalled to speak. Dumbhedore 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 deafening rumble of thunder and the doors
of the Great Hall banged open.
A man stood in the doorway, leaning upon a long staff, shrouded in a black
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 began to walk up toward the teachers' table.
A dull clunk echoed through the Hall on his every other step. He reached
the end of the top table, turned right, and limped heavily toward Dumbledore.
Another flash of lightning crossed the ceiling. Hermione gasped.
The lightning had thrown the man's face into sharp relief, and it was a face
unlike any Harry had ever seen. It looked as though it had been carved out of
weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what human faces
are supposed to look like, and was none too skilled with a chisel. Every inch
of skin seemed to be scarred. The mouth looked like a diagonal gash, and a large
chunk of the nose was missing. But it was the man's eyes that made him frightening.
One of them was small, dark, and beady. The other was large, round as a coin,
and a vivid, electric blue. The blue eye was moving 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 Dumbhedore shook it, muttering words Harry couldn't
hear. He seemed to be making some inquiry 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 darting 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 chapped except Dumbledore and Hagrid, who both put
their hands together and applauded, but the sound echoed dismally into the silence,
and they stopped fairly quickly. Everyone else seemed too 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?”
“Must be,” said Ron in a low, awed voice.
“What happened to him?” Hermione whispered. “What happened to his face?”
“Dunno,” Ron whispered back, watching Moody with fascination.
Moody seemed totally indifferent to his less-than-warm welcome. Ignoring
the 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, below the table, several inches of carved wooden leg, ending in a clawed
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 have the honor
of hosting a very exciting event over the coming months, an event that has not
been held for over a century. It is my very great pleasure to inform you that
the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place at Hogwarts this year.”
“You're JOKING!” said Fred Weasley loudly.
The tension that had filled the Hall ever since Moody's arrival suddenly
broke. Nearly everyone laughed, and Dumbledore chuckled appreciatively.
“I am not joking, Mr. Weasley,” he said, “though now that you mention it,
I did hear an excellent one over the summer about a 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 Dumbledore, “where was
I? Ah yes, the Triwizard Tournament... well, some of you will not know what
this tournament involves, so I hope those who do know will forgive me for giving
a short explanation, and allow their attention to wander freely.