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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 28)


It was the girl from Beauxbatons who had laughed during Dumbledore's speech. She had finally removed her muffler. A long sheet of silvery-blonde hair fell almost to her waist. She had large, deep blue eyes, and very white, even teeth.

Ron went purple. He stared up at her, opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out except a faint gurgling noise.

“Yeah, have it,” said Harry, pushing the dish toward the girl.

“You 'ave finished wiz it?”

“Yeah,” Ron said breathlessly. “Yeah, it was excellent.”

The girl picked up the dish and carried it carefully off to the Ravenclaw table. Ron was still goggling at the girl as though he had never seen one before. Harry started to laugh. The sound seemed to jog Ron back to his senses.

“She's a veela!” he said hoarsely to Harry.

“Of course she isn't!” said Hermione tartly. “I don't see anyone else gaping at her like an idiot!”

But she wasn't entirely right about that. As the girl crossed the Hall, many boys' heads turned, and some of them seemed to have become temporarily speechless, just like Ron.

“I'm telling you, that's not a normal girl!” said Ron, leaning sideways so he could keep a clear view of her. “They don't make them like that at Hogwarts!”

“They make them okay at Hogwarts,” said Harry without thinking. Cho happened to be sitting only a few places away from the girl with the silvery hair.

“When you've both put your eyes back in,” said Hermione briskly, “you'll be able to see who's just arrived.”

She was pointing up at the staff table. The two remaining empty seats had just been filled. Ludo Bagman was now sitting on Professor Karkaroff's other side, while Mr. Crouch, Percy's boss, was next to Madame Maxime.

“What are they doing here?” said Harry in surprise.

“They organized the Triwizard Tournament, didn't they?” said Hermione. “I suppose they wanted to be here to see it start.”

When the second course arrived they noticed a number of unfamiliar desserts too. Ron examined an odd sort of pale blancmange closely, then moved it carefully a few inches to his right, so that it would be clearly visible from the Ravenclaw table. The girl who looked like a veela appeared to have eaten enough, however, and did not come over to get it.

Once the golden plates had been wiped clean, Dumbledore stood up again. A pleasant sort of tension seemed to fill the Hall now. Harry felt a slight thrill of excitement, wondering what was coming. Several seats down from them, Fred and George were leaning forward, staring at Dumbledore with great concentration.

“The moment has come,” said Dumbledore, smiling around at the sea of upturned faces. “The Triwizard Tournament is about to start. I would like to say a few words of explanation before we bring in the casket—”

“The what?” Harry muttered.

Ron shrugged.

“just to clarify the procedure that we will be following this year. But first, let me introduce, for those who do not know them, Mr. Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation”—there was a smattering of polite applause—”and Mr. Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports.”

There was a much louder round of applause for Bagman than for Crouch, perhaps because of his fame as a Beater, or simply because he looked so much more likable. He acknowledged it with a jovial wave of his hand. Bartemius Crouch did not smile or wave when his name was announced. Remembering him in his neat suit at the Quidditch World Cup, Harry thought he looked strange in wizard's robes. His toothbrush mustache and severe parting looked very odd next to Dumbledore's long white hair and beard.

“Mr. Bagman and Mr. Crouch have worked tirelessly over the last few months on the arrangements for the Triwizard Tournament,” Dumbledore continued, “and they will be joining myself, Professor Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime on the panel that will judge the champions' efforts.”

At the mention of the word “champions,” the attentiveness of the listening students seemed to sharpen. Perhaps Dumbledore had noticed their sudden stillness, for he smiled as he said, “The casket, then, if you please, Mr. Filch.”

Filch, who had been lurking unnoticed in a far corner of the Hall, now approached Dumbledore carrying a great wooden chest encrusted with jewels. It looked extremely old. A murmur of excited interest rose from the watching students; Dennis Creevey actually stood on his chair to see it properly, but, being so tiny, his head hardly rose above anyone else's.

“The instructions for the tasks the champions will face this year have already been examined by Mr. Crouch and Mr. Bagman,” said Dumbledore as Filch placed the chest carefully on the table before him, “and they have made the necessary arrangements for each challenge. There will be three tasks, spaced throughout the school year, and they will test the champions in many different ways.. their magical prowess—their daring—their powers of deduction—and, of course, their ability to cope with danger.”

At this last word, the Hall was filled with a silence so absolute that nobody seemed to be breathing.

“As you know, three champions compete in the tournament,” Dumbledore went on calmly, “one from each of the participating schools. They will be marked on how well they perform each of the Tournament tasks and the champion with the highest total after task three will win the Triwizard Cup. The champions will be chosen by an impartial selector: the Goblet of Fire.”

Dumbledore now took out his wand and tapped three times upon the top of the casket. The lid creaked slowly open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames.

Dumbledore closed the casket and placed the goblet carefully on top of it, where it would be clearly visible to everyone in the Hall.

“Anybody wishing to submit themselves as champion must write their name and school clearly upon a slip of parchment and drop it into the goblet,” said Dumbledore. “Aspiring champions have twenty-four hours in which to put their names forward. Tomorrow night, Halloween, the goblet will return the names of the three it has judged most worthy to represent their schools. The goblet will be placed in the entrance hall tonight, where it will be freely accessible to all those wishing to compete.

“To ensure that no underage student yields to temptation,” said Dumbledore, “I will be drawing an Age Line around the Goblet of Fire once it has been placed in the entrance hall. Nobody under the age of seventeen will be able to cross this line.

“Finally, I wish to impress upon any of you wishing to compete that this tournament is not to be entered into lightly. Once a champion has been selected by the Goblet of Fire, he or she is obliged to see the tournament through to the end. The placing of your name in the goblet constitutes a binding, magical contract. There can be no change of heart once you have become a champion. Please be very sure, therefore, that you are wholeheartedly prepared to play before you drop your name into the goblet. Now, I think it is time for bed. Good night to you all.”

“An Age Line!” Fred Weasley said, his eyes glinting, as they all made their way across the Hall to the doors into the entrance hall. “Well, that should be fooled by an Aging Potion, shouldn't it? And once your name's in that goblet, you're laughing—it can't tell whether you're seventeen or not!”

“But I don't think anyone under seventeen will stand a chance,” said Hermione, “we just haven't learned enough...”

“Speak for yourself,” said George shortly. “You'll try and get in, won't you, Harry?”

Harry thought briefly of Dumbledore's insistence that nobody under seventeen should submit their name, but then the wonderful picture of himself winning the Triwizard Tournament filled his mind again... He wondered how angry Dumbledore would be if someone younger than seventeen did find a way to get over the Age Line.

“Where is he?” said Ron, who wasn't listening to a word of this conversation, but looking through the crowd to see what had become of Krum. “Dumbledore didn't say where the Durmstrang people are sleeping, did he?”

But this query was answered almost instantly; they were level with the Slytherin table now, and Karkaroff had just bustled up to his students.

“Back to the ship, then,” he was saying. “Viktor, how are you feeling? Did you eat enough? Should I send for some mulled wine from the kitchens?”

Harry saw Krum shake his head as he pulled his furs back on. “Professor, Ivood like some vine,” said one of the other Durmstrang boys hopefully.

“I wasn't offering it to you, Poliakoff,” snapped Karkaroff, his warmly paternal air vanishing in an instant. “I notice you have dribbled food all down the front of your robes again, disgusting boy—”

Karkaroff turned and led his students toward the doors, reaching them at exactly the same moment as Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Harry stopped to let him walk through first.

“Thank you,” said Karkaroff carelessly, glancing at him. And then Karkaroff froze. He turned his head back to Harry and stared at him as though he couldn't believe his eyes. Behind their headmaster, the students from Durmstrang came to a halt too. Karkaroff's eyes moved slowly up Harry's face and fixed upon his scar. The Durmstrang students were staring curiously at Harry too. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw comprehension dawn on a few of their faces. The boy with food all down his front nudged the girl next to him and pointed openly at Harry's forehead.

“Yeah, that's Harry Potter,” said a growling voice from behind them.

Professor Karkaroff spun around. Mad-Eye Moody was standing there, leaning heavily on his staff, his magical eye glaring unblinkingly at the Durmstrang headmaster.

The color drained from Karkaroff's face as Harry watched. A terrible look of mingled fury and fear came over him.

“You!” he said, staring at Moody as though unsure he was really seeing him.

“Me,” said Moody grimly. “And unless you've got anything to say to Potter, Karkaroff, you might want to move. You're blocking the doorway.”

It was true; half the students in the Hall were now waiting behind them, looking over one another's shoulders to see what was causing the holdup.

Without another word, Professor Karkaroff swept his students away with him. Moody watched him until he was out of sight, his magical eye fixed upon his back, a look of intense dislike upon his mutilated face.

As the next day was Saturday, most students would normally have breakfasted late. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, however, were not alone in rising much earlier than they usually did on weekends. When they went down into the entrance hall, they saw about twenty people milling around it, some of them eating toast, all examining the Goblet of Fire. It had been placed in the center of the hall on the stool that normally bore the Sorting Hat. A thin golden line had been traced on the floor, forming a circle ten feet around it in every direction.

“Anyone put their name in yet?” Ron asked a third-year girl eagerly.

“All the Durmstrang lot,” she replied. “But I haven't seen anyone from Hogwarts yet.”

“Bet some of them put it in last night after we'd all gone to bed,” said Harry. “I would've if it had been me... wouldn't have wanted everyone watching. What if the goblet just gobbed you right back out again?”

Someone laughed behind Harry. Turning, he saw Fred, George, and Lee Jordan hurrying down the staircase, all three of them looking extremely excited.

“Done it,” Fred said in a triumphant whisper to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. “Just taken it.”

“What?” said Ron.

“The Aging Potion, dung brains,” said Fred.

“One drop each,” said George, rubbing his hands together with glee. “We only need to be a few months older.”

“We're going to split the thousand Galleons between the three of us if one of us wins,” said Lee, grinning broadly.

“I'm not sure this is going to work, you know,” said Hermione warningly. “I'm sure Dumbledore will have thought of this.”

Fred, George, and Lee ignored her.

“Ready?” Fred said to the other two, quivering with excitement. “C'mon, then—I'll go first—”

Harry watched, fascinated, as Fred pulled a slip of parchment out of his pocket bearing the words Fred Weasley—Hogwarts. Fred walked right up to the edge of the line and stood there, rocking on his toes like a diver preparing for a fifty-foot drop. Then, with the eyes of every person in the entrance hall upon him, he took a great breath and stepped over the line.

For a split second Harry thought it had worked—George certainly thought so, for he let out a yell of triumph and leapt after Fred—but next moment, there was a loud sizzling sound, and both twins were hurled out of the golden circle as though they had been thrown by an invisible shot-putter. They landed painfully, ten feet away on the cold stone floor, and to add insult to injury, there was a loud popping noise, and both of them sprouted identical long white beards.

The entrance hall rang with laughter. Even Fred and George joined in, once they had gotten to their feet and taken a good look at each other's beards.

“I did warn you,” said a deep, amused voice, and everyone turned to see Professor Dumbledore coming out of the Great Hall. He surveyed Fred and George, his eyes twinkling. “I suggest you both go up to Madam Pomfrey. She is already tending to Miss Fawcett, of Ravenclaw, and Mr. Summers, of Hufflepuff, both of whom decided to age themselves up a little too. Though I must say, neither of their beards is anything like as fine as yours.”

Fred and George set off for the hospital wing, accompanied by Lee, who was howling with laughter, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione, also chortling, went in to breakfast.

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 138875 times

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