“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 establishing ties between
young witches and wizards of different nationalities—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 tournament 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 International Magical Cooperation and Magical Games and Sports
have decided the time is ripe for another attempt. We have worked hard over
the summer to ensure that this 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 the Triwizard Cup, the glory of their school, and a thousand
Galleons personal prize money.”
“I'm going for it!” Fred Weasley hissed down the table, his face lit with
enthusiasm at the prospect of such glory and riches. He was not the only person
who seemed to be visualizing himself as the Hogwarts champion. At every House
table, Harry could see people either gazing 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 age—that is to say, seventeen years or older—will be allowed
to put forward 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 underage 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 time submitting yourself
if you are under seventeen.
“The delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang will be arriving in October
and remaining with us for the greater part of this year. I know that you will
all extend every courtesy to our foreign guests while they are with us, and
will give your whole-hearted support to the Hogwarts champion when he or she
is selected. And now, it is late, and I know how important it is to you all
to be alert and rested as you enter your lessons tomorrow morning. Bedtime!
Dumbledore sat down again and turned to talk to Mad-Eye Moody. There was
a great scraping and banging as all the students got to their feet and swarmed
toward the double doors into the entrance hall.
“They can't do that!” said George Weasley, who had not joined the crowd moving
toward the door, but was standing up and glaring at Dumbledore. “We're seventeen
in April, why can't we have a shot?”
“They're not stopping me entering,” said Fred stubbornly, also scowling at
the top table. “The champions'll get to do all sorts of stuff you'd never be
allowed to do normally. And a thousand Galleons prize money!”
“Yeah,” said Ron, a faraway look on his face. “Yeah, a thousand Galleons...”
“Come on,” said Hermione, “we'll be the only ones left here if you don't
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George set off for the entrance hall, Fred
and George debating the ways in which Dumbledore 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?”
“Dunno,” said Fred, “but it's them we'll have to fool. I reckon a couple
of drops of Aging Potion might do it, George...”
“Dumbledore knows you're not of age, though,” said Ron.
“Yeah, but he's not the one who decides who the champion is, is he?” said
Fred shrewdly. “Sounds to me like once this 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 giving our names.”
“People have died, though!” said Hermione in a worried voice as they walked
through a door concealed behind a tapestry and started up another, narrower
“Yeah,” said Fred airily, “but that was years ago, wasn't it? Anyway, where's
the fun without a bit of risk? Hey, Ron, what if we find out how to get 'round
Dumbledore? Fancy entering?”
“What d'you reckon?” Ron asked Harry. “Be cool to enter, wouldn't it? But
I s'pose they might want someone older... Dunno if we've learned enough...
“I definitely haven't,” came Nevihle's gloomy voice from behind Fred and
“I expect my gran'd want me to try, though. She's always going on about how
I should be upholding the family honor. I'll just have to—oops...”
Neville's foot had sunk right through a step halfway up the staircase. There
were many of these trick stairs at Hogwarts; it was second nature to most of
the older students to jump this particular step, but Neville's memory was notoriously
poor. Harry and Ron seized him under the armpits and pulled him out, while a
suit of armor at the top of the stairs creaked and clanked, laughing wheezily.
“Shut it, you,” said Ron, banging down its visor as they passed. They made
their way up to the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, which was concealed behind
a large portrait of a fat lady in a pink silk dress.
“Password?” she said as they approached.
“Balderdash,” said George, “a prefect downstairs told me.”
The portrait swung forward to reveal a hole in the wall through which they
all climbed. A crackling fire warmed the circular common room, which was full
of squashy armchairs and tables. Hermione cast the merrily dancing flames a
dark look, and Harry 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 until they
reached their own dormitory, which was situated at the top of the tower. Five
four-poster beds with deep crimson hangings stood against the walls, each with
its owner's 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. His old poster of the West
Ham football team was pinned right next to it.
“Mental,” Ron sighed, shaking his head at the completely stationary soccer
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 tournament... you never know, do
Harry rolled over in bed, a series of dazzling new pictures forming 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 screaming... 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
The storm had blown itself out by the following morning, though the ceiling
in the Great Hall was still gloomy; heavy clouds of pewter gray swirled overhead
as Harry, Ron, and Hermione examined their new course schedules at breakfast.
A few seats along, Fred, George, and Lee Jordan were discussing magical methods
of aging themselves and bluffing their way into the Triwizard Tournament.
“Today's not bad... outside all morning,” said Ron, who was running his finger
down the Monday column of his schedule. “Herbology with the Hufflepuffs and
Care of Magical Creatures... damn it, we're still with the Slytherins...”
“Double 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 Hermione briskly,
buttering herself some toast. “Then you'd be doing something sensible like 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, looking for the people to whom their letters and packages
were addressed. A large tawny owl soared down to Neville Longbottom and deposited
a parcel into his lap—Neville almost always forgot to pack something. On the
other side of the Hall Draco Malfoy's eagle owl had landed on his shoulder,
carrying what looked like his usual supply of sweets and cakes from home. Trying
to ignore the sinking feeling of disappointment in his stomach, Harry returned
to his porridge. Was it possible that something had happened to Hedwig, and
that Sirius hadn't even got his letter?
His preoccupation lasted all the way across the sodden vegetable patch until
they arrived in greenhouse three, but here he was distracted 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 swellings
upon it, which appeared to be full of liquid.
“Bubotubers,” Professor Sprout told them briskly. “They need squeezing. You
will collect the pus—”
“The what?” said Seamus Finnigan, sounding revolted.
“Pus, Finnigan, pus,” said Professor Sprout, “and it's 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 when undiluted, bubotuber
Squeezing the bubotubers was disgusting, but oddly satisfying. As each swelling
was popped, a large amount of thick yellowish-green liquid burst forth, which
smelled strongly of petrol. They caught it in the bottles as Professor Sprout
had indicated, and by the end of the lesson had collected several pints.
“This'll keep Madam Pomfrey happy,” said Professor Sprout, stoppering the
last bottle with a cork. “An excellent remedy for the more stubborn forms of
acne, bubotuber pus. 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 Hufflepuffs 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 enormous
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 contents more closely. As they drew nearer, an odd rattling
noise reached their ears, punctuated by what sounded like minor explosions.
“Mornin'!” Hagrid said, grinning at Harry, Ron, and Hermione. “Be'er wait
fer the Slytherins, they won' want ter miss this—Blast-Ended Skrewts!”
“Come again?” said Ron.
Hagrid pointed down into the crates.
“Eurgh!” squealed Lavender Brown, 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 another, bumping blindly into
the sides of the boxes. They were giving off a very powerful smell of rotting
fish. Every now and then, sparks would 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!”