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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 30)


“The champion for Beauxbatons,” said Dumbledore, “is Fleur Delacour!”

“It's her, Ron!” Harry shouted as the girl who so resembled a veela got gracefully to her feet, shook back her sheet of silvery blonde hair, and swept up between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables.

“Oh look, they're all disappointed,” Hermione said over the noise, nodding toward the remainder of the Beauxbatons party. “Disappointed” was a bit of an understatement, Harry thought. Two of the girls who had not been selected had dissolved into tears and were sobbing with their heads on their arms.

When Fleur Delacour too had vanished into the side chamber, silence fell again, but this time it was a silence so stiff with excitement you could almost taste it. The Hogwarts champion next...

And the Goblet of Fire turned red once more; sparks showered out of it; the tongue of flame shot high into the air, and from its tip Dumbledore pulled the third piece of parchment.

“The Hogwarts champion,” he called, “is Cedric Diggory!”

“No! “ said Ron loudly, but nobody heard him except Harry; the uproar from the next table was too great. Every single Hufflepuff had jumped to his or her feet, screaming and stamping, as Cedric made his way past them, grinning broadly, and headed off toward the chamber behind the teachers' table. Indeed, the applause for Cedric went on so long that it was some time before Dumbledore could make himself heard again.

“Excellent!” Dumbledore called happily as at last the tumult died down. “Well, we now have our three champions. I am sure I can count upon all of you, including the remaining students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, to give your champions every ounce of support you can muster. By cheering your champion on, you will contribute in a very real—”

But Dumbledore suddenly stopped speaking, and it was apparent to everybody what had distracted him.

The fire in the goblet had just turned red again. Sparks were flying out of it. A long flame shot suddenly into the air, and borne upon it was another piece of parchment.

Automatically, it seemed, Dumbledore reached out a long hand and seized the

parchment. He held it out and stared at the name written upon it. There was a long pause, during which Dumbledore stared at the slip in his hands, and everyone in the room stared at Dumbledore. And then Dumbledore cleared his throat and read out—”Harry Potter.”

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

THE FOUR CHAMPIONS

Harry sat there, aware that every head in the Great Hall had turned to look at him. He was stunned. He felt numb. He was surely dreaming. He had not heard correctly.

There was no applause. A buzzing, as though of angry bees, was starting to fill the Hall; some students were standing up to get a better look at Harry as he sat, frozen, in his seat.

Up at the top table, Professor McGonagall had got to her feet and swept past Ludo Bagman and Professor Karkaroff to whisper urgently to Professor Dumbledore, who bent his ear toward her, frowning slightly.

Harry turned to Ron and Hermione; beyond them, he saw the long Gryffindor table all watching him, openmouthed.

“I didn't put my name in,” Harry said blankly. “You know I didn't.”

Both of them stared just as blankly back.

At the top table, Professor Dumbledore had straightened up, nodding to Professor McGonagall.

“Harry Potter!” he called again. “Harry! Up here, if you please!”

“Go on,” Hermione whispered, giving Harry a slight push.

Harry got to his feet, trod on the hem of his robes, and stumbled slightly. He set off up the gap between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables. It felt like an immensely long walk; the top table didn't seem to be getting any nearer at all, and he could feel hundreds and hundreds of eyes upon him, as though each were a searchlight. The buzzing grew louder and louder. After what seemed like an hour, he was right in front of Dumbledore, feeling the stares of all the teachers upon him.

“Well... through the door, Harry,” said Dumbledore. He wasn't smiling.

Harry moved off along the teachers' table. Hagrid was seated right at the end. He did not wink at Harry, or wave, or give any of his usual signs of greeting. He looked completely astonished and stared at Harry as he passed like everyone else. Harry went through the door out of the Great Hall and found himself in a smaller room, lined with paintings of witches and wizards. A handsome fire was roaring in the fireplace opposite him.

The faces in the portraits turned to look at him as he entered. He saw a wizened witch flit out of the frame of her picture and into the one next to it, which contained a wizard with a walrus mustache. The wizened witch started whispering in his ear.

Viktor Krum, Cedric Diggory, and Fleur Delacour were grouped around the fire. They looked strangely impressive, silhouetted against the flames. Krum, hunched-up and brooding, was leaning against the mantelpiece, slightly apart from the other two. Cedric was standing with his hands behind his back, staring into the fire. Fleur Delacour looked around when Harry walked in and threw back her sheet of long, silvery hair.

“What is it?” she said. “Do zey want us back in ze Hall?”

She thought he had come to deliver a message. Harry didn't know how to explain what had just happened. He just stood there, looking at the three champions. It struck him how very tall all of them were.

There was a sound of scurrying feet behind him, and Ludo Bagman entered the room. He took Harry by the arm and led him forward.

“Extraordinary!” he muttered, squeezing Harry's arm. “Absolutely extraordinary! Gentlemen... lady,” he added, approaching the fireside and addressing the other three. “May I introduce—incredible though it may seem—the fourth Triwizard champion?”

Viktor Krum straightened up. His surly face darkened as he surveyed Harry. Cedric looked nonplussed. He looked from Bagman to Harry and back again as though sure he must have misheard what Bagman had said. Fleur Delacour, however, tossed her hair, smiling, and said, “Oh, vairy funny joke, Meester Bagman.”

“Joke?” Bagman repeated, bewildered. “No, no, not at all! Harry's name just came out of the Goblet of Fire!”

Krum's thick eyebrows contracted slightly. Cedric was still looking politely bewildered. Fleur frowned.

“But evidently zair 'as been a mistake,” she said contemptuously to Bagman. “E cannot compete. 'E is too young.”

“Well... it is amazing,” said Bagman, rubbing his smooth chin and smiling down at Harry. “But, as you know, the age restriction was only imposed this year as an extra safety measure. And as his name's come out of the goblet... I mean, I don't think there can be any ducking out at this stage... It's down in the rules, you're obliged... Harry will just have to do the best he—”

The door behind them opened again, and a large group of people came in: Professor Dumbledore, followed closely by Mr. Crouch, Professor Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape. Harry heard the buzzing of the hundreds of students on the other side of the wall, before Professor McGonagall closed the door.

“Madame Maxime!” said Fleur at once, striding over to her headmistress. “Zey are saying zat zis little boy is to compete also!”

Somewhere under Harry's numb disbelief he felt a ripple of anger. Little boy?

Madame Maxime had drawn herself up to her full, and considerable, height. The top of her handsome head brushed the candle-filled chandelier, and her gigantic black-satin bosom swelled.

“What is ze meaning of zis, Dumbly-dorr?” she said imperiously. “I'd rather like to know that myself, Dumbledore,” said Professor Karkaroff. He was wearing a steely smile, and his blue eyes were like chips of ice. “Two Hogwarts champions? I don't remember anyone telling me the host school is allowed two champions—or have I not read the rules carefully enough?”

He gave a short and nasty laugh.

“C'est impossible,” said Madame Maxime, whose enormous hand with its many superb opals was resting upon Fleur's shoulder. “Ogwarts cannot 'ave two champions. It is most injust.”

“We were under the impression that your Age Line would keep out younger contestants, Dumbledore,” said Karkaroff, his steely smile still in place, though his eyes were colder than ever. “Otherwise, we would, of course, have brought along a wider selection of candidates from our own schools.”

“It's no one's fault but Potter's, Karkaroff,” said Snape softly. His black eyes were alight with malice. “Don't go blaming Dumbledore for Potter's determination to break rules. He has been crossing lines ever since he arrived here—”

“Thank you, Severus,” said Dumbledore firmly, and Snape went quiet, though his eyes still glinted malevolently through his curtain of greasy black hair.

Professor Dumbledore was now looking down at Harry, who looked right back at him, trying to discern the expression of the eyes behind the half-moon spectacles.

“Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harry?” he asked calmly.

“No,” said Harry. He was very aware of everybody watching him closely. Snape made a soft noise of impatient disbelief in the shadows.

“Did you ask an older student to put it into the Goblet of Fire for you?” said Professor Dumbledore, ignoring Snape.

“No,” said Harry vehemently.

“Ah, but of course 'e is lying!” cried Madame Maxime. Snape was now shaking his head, his lip curling.

“He could not have crossed the Age Line,” said Professor McGonagall sharply. “I am sure we are all agreed on that—”

“Dumbly-dorr must 'ave made a mistake wiz ze line,” said Madame Maxime, shrugging.

“It is possible, of course,” said Dumbledore politely.

“Dumbledore, you know perfectly well you did not make a mistake!” said Professor McGonagall angrily. “Really, what nonsense! Harry could not have crossed the line himself, and as Professor Dumbledore believes that he did not persuade an older student to do it for him, I'm sure that should be good enough for everybody else!”

She shot a very angry look at Professor Snape.

“Mr. Crouch... Mr. Bagman,” said Karkaroff, his voice unctuous once more, “you are our—er—objective judges. Surely you will agree that this is most irregular?”

Bagman wiped his round, boyish face with his handkerchief and looked at Mr. Crouch, who was standing outside the circle of the firelight, his face half hidden in shadow. He looked slightly eerie, the half darkness making him look much older, giving him an almost skull-like appearance. When he spoke, however, it was in his usual curt voice.

“We must follow the rules, and the rules state clearly that those people whose names come out of the Goblet of Fire are bound to compete in the tournament.”

“Well, Barty knows the rule book back to front,” said Bagman, beaming and turning back to Karkaroff and Madame Maxime, as though the matter was now closed.

“I insist upon resubmitting the names of the rest of my students,” said Karkaroff. He had dropped his unctuous tone and his smile now. His face wore a very ugly look indeed. “You will set up the Goblet of Fire once more, and we will continue adding names until each school has two champions. It's only fair, Dumbledore.”

“But Karkaroff, it doesn't work like that,” said Bagman. “The Goblet of Fire's just gone out—it won't reignite until the start of the next tournament—”

“in which Durmstrang will most certainly not be competing!” exploded Karkaroff. “After all our meetings and negotiations and compromises, I little expected something of this nature to occur! I have half a mind to leave now!”

“Empty threat, Karkaroff,” growled a voice from near the door. “You can't leave your champion now. He's got to compete. They've all got to compete. Binding magical contract, like Dumbledore said. Convenient, eh?”

Moody had just entered the room. He limped toward the fire, and with every right step he took, there was a loud clunk.

“Convenient?” said Karkaroff. “I'm afraid I don't understand you, Moody.”

Harry could tell he was trying to sound disdainful, as though what Moody was saying was barely worth his notice, but his hands gave him away; they had balled themselves into fists.

“Don't you?” said Moody quietly. “It's very simple, Karkaroff. Someone put Potter's name in that goblet knowing he'd have to compete if it came out.”

“Evidently, someone 'oo wished to give 'Ogwarts two bites at ze apple!” said Madame Maxime.

“I quite agree, Madame Maxime,” said Karkaroff, bowing to her. “I shall be lodging complaints with the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards—”

“If anyone's got reason to complain, it's Potter,” growled Moody, “but... funny thing... I don't hear him saying a word...

“Why should 'e complain?” burst out Fleur Delacour, stamping her foot. “E 'as ze chance to compete, 'asn't 'e? We 'ave all been 'oping to be chosen for weeks and weeks! Ze honor for our schools! A thousand Galleons in prize money—zis is a chance many would die for!”

“Maybe someone's hoping Potter is going to die for it,” said Moody, with the merest trace of a growl.

An extremely tense silence followed these words. Ludo Bagman, who was looking very anxious indeed, bounced nervously up and down on his feet and said, “Moody, old man... what a thing to say!”

“We all know Professor Moody considers the morning wasted if he hasn't discovered six plots to murder him before lunchtime,” said Karkaroff loudly. “Apparently he is now teaching his students to fear assassination too. An odd quality in a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dumbledore, but no doubt you had your reasons.

“Imagining things, am I?” growled Moody. “Seeing things, eh? It was a skilled witch or wizard who put the boy's name in that goblet...

“Ah, what evidence is zere of zat?” said Madame Maxime, throwing up her huge hands.

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 138876 times

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