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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 27)


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 landed 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 respectfully. 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 immediately explained. A few people 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 handsome, olive-skinned face; large, black, liquid-looking eyes; and a rather beaky nose. Her hair was drawn back in a shining knob at 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 better to look at this woman.

Her face relaxed 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-dort,” 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 enormous hands carelessly behind her.

Harry, whose attention had been focused completely 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 robes 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 inside and warm up a trifle?”

“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 Magical 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 Dumbledore, 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 address Harry and Ron.

“Well, if they're any bigger than this lot, even Hagrid won't be able to handle them,” 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 stood, shivering slightly now, waiting for the Durmstrang party to arrive. Most people were gazing hopefully up at the sky.

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 bubbles 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 sloshing 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 shallows, and the thud of a plank being lowered onto the bank.

People were disembarking; they could see their silhouettes passing the lights in the ship's portholes. All of them, Harry noticed, 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 that 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 you, 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 Dumbledore, 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 smiling; 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 recognize that profile.

“Harry—it's Krum!”

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

THE GOBLET OF FIRE

I don't believe it!” Ron said, in a stunned voice, as the Hogwarts students filed back up the steps behind the party from Durmstrang. “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 jumping 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 searching their pockets as they walked—”Oh I don't believe it, I haven't got a single quill on me—”

“D'you think he'd sign my hat in lipstick?”

“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, apparently unsure about where they should sit. The students from Beauxbatons had chosen seats at the Ravenclaw table. They were looking around 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 the 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.”

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 their House tables, the staff entered, filing up to the top table and taking their seats. Last in line were Professor Dumbledore, Professor Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime. When their headmistress appeared, 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 until 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 particularly—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 both comfortable and enjoyable.”

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 Hermione.

“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 were revealed to be wearing robes of a deep bloodred.

Hagrid sidled into the Hall through a door behind the staff table 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 heavily 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 found a food they like, doesn't it? Hagrid's fingers.”

At that moment, a voice said, “Excuse me, are you wanting ze bouillabaisse?”

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 136079 times

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