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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 32)


“Good idea,” said Harry gratefully.

They went downstairs, crossed the entrance hall quickly without looking in at the Great Hall, and were soon striding across the lawn toward the lake, where the Durmstrang ship was moored, reflected blackly in the water. It was a chilly morning, and they kept moving, munching their toast, as Harry told Hermione exactly what had happened after he had left the Gryffindor table the night before. To his immense relief, Hermione accepted his story without question.

“Well, of course I knew you hadn't entered yourself,” she said when he'd finished telling her about the scene in the chamber off the Hall. “The look on your face when Dumbledore read out your name! But the question is, who did put it in? Because Moody's right, Harry... I don't think any student could have done it... they'd never be able to fool the Goblet, or get over Dumbledore's—”

“Have you seen Ron?” Harry interrupted.

Hermione hesitated.

“Erm... yes... he was at breakfast,” she said.

“Does he still think I entered myself?”

“Well... no, I don't think so... not really,” said Hermione awkwardly.

“What's that supposed to mean, 'not really'?”

“Oh Harry, isn't it obvious?” Hermione said despairingly. “He's jealous!”

“Jealous?” Harry said incredulously. “Jealous of what? He wants to make a prat of himself in front of the whole school, does he?”

“Look,” said Hermione patiently, “it's always you who gets all the attention, you know it is. I know it's not your fault,” she added quickly, seeing Harry open his mouth furiously. “I know you don't ask for it... but—well—you know, Ron's got all those brothers to compete against at home, and you're his best friend, and you're really famous—he's always shunted to one side whenever people see you, and he puts up with it, and he never mentions it, but I suppose this is just one time too many...

“Great,” said Harry bitterly. “Really great. Tell him from me I'll swap any time he wants. Tell him from me he's welcome to it... People gawping at my forehead everywhere I go...”

“I'm not teiling him anything,” Hermione said shortly. “Tell him yourself. It's the only way to sort this out.”

“I'm not running around after him trying to make him grow up!” Harry said, so loudly that several owls in a nearby tree took flight in alarm. “Maybe he'll believe I'm not enjoying myself once I've got my neck broken or—”

“That's not funny,” said Hermione quietly. “That's not funny at all.” She looked extremely anxious. “Harry, I've been thinking—you know what we've got to do, don't you? Straight away, the moment we get back to the castle?”

“Yeah, give Ron a good kick up the—”

“Write to Sirius. You've got to tell him what's happened. He asked you to keep him posted on everything that's going on at Hogwarts... It's almost as if he expected something like this to happen. I brought some parchment and a quill out with me—”

“Come off it,” said Harry, looking around to check that they couldn't be overheard, but the grounds were quite deserted. “He came back to the country just because my scar twinged. He'll probably come bursting right into the castle if I tell him someone's entered me in the Triwizard Tournament—”

“He'd want you to tell him,” said Hermione sternly. “He's going to find out anyway.”

“How?”

“Harry, this isn't going to be kept quiet,” said Hermione, very seriously. “This tournament's famous, and you're famous. I'll be really surprised if there isn't anything in the Daily Prophet about you competing... You're already in half the books about You-Know-Who, you know... and Sirius would rather hear it from you, I know he would.”

“Okay, okay, I'll write to him,” said Harry, throwing his last piece of toast into the lake. They both stood and watched it floating there for a moment, before a large tentacle rose out of the water and scooped it beneath the surface. Then they returned to the castle.

“Whose owl am I going to use?” Harry said as they climbed the stairs. “He told me not to use Hedwig again.”

“Ask Ron if you can borrow—”

“I'm not asking Ron for anything,” Harry said flatly.

“Well, borrow one of the school owls, then, anyone can use them,” said Hermione.

They went up to the Owlery. Hermione gave Harry a piece of parchment, a quill, and a bottle of ink, then strolled around the long lines of perches, looking at all the different owls, while Harry sat down against a wall and wrote his letter.

Dear Sirius,

You told me to keep you posted on what's happening at Hogwarts, so here goes—I don't know if you've heard, but the Triwizard Tournament's happening this year and on Saturday night I got picked as a fourth champion. I don't who put my name in the Goblet of Fire, because I didn't. The other Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory, from Hufflepuff

He paused at this point, thinking. He had an urge to say something about the large weight of anxiety that seemed to have settled inside his chest since last night, but he couldn't think how to translate this into words, so he simply dipped his quill back into the ink bottle and wrote,

Hope you're okay, and Buckbeak—Harry

“Finished,” he told Hermione, getting to his feet and brushing straw off his robes. At this, Hedwig fluttered down onto his shoulder and held out her leg.

“I can't use you,” Harry told her, looking around for the school owls. “I've got to use one of these.”

Hedwig gave a very loud hoot and took off so suddenly that her talons cut into his shoulder. She kept her back to Harry all the time he was tying his letter to the leg of a large barn owl. When the barn owl had flown off, Harry reached out to stroke Hedwig, but she clicked her beak furiously and soared up into the rafters out of reach.

“First Ron, then you,” Harry said angrily. “This isn't my fault.”

If Harry had thought that matters would improve once everyone got used to the idea of him being champion, the following day showed him how mistaken he was. He could no longer avoid the rest of the school once he was back at lessons—and it was clear that the rest of the school, just like the Gryffindors, thought Harry had entered himself for the tournament. Unlike the Gryffindors, however, they did not seem impressed.

The Hufflepuffs, who were usually on excellent terms with the Gryffindors, had turned remarkably cold toward the whole lot of them. One Herbology lesson was enough to demonstrate this. It was plain that the Hufflepuffs felt that Harry had stolen their champion's glory; a feeling exacerbated, perhaps, by the fact that Hufflepuff House very rarely got any glory, and that Cedric was one of the few who had ever given them any, having beaten Gryffindor once at Quidditch. Ernie Macmillan and Justin FinchFletchley, with whom Harry normally got on very well, did not talk to him even though they were repotting Bouncing Bulbs at the same tray—though they did laugh rather unpleasantly when one of the Bouncing Bulbs wriggled free from Harry's grip and smacked him hard in the face. Ron wasn't talking to Harry either. Hermione sat between them, making very forced conversation, but though both answered her normally, they avoided making eye contact with each other. Harry thought even Professor Sprout seemed distant with him—but then, she was Head of Hufflepuff House.

He would have been looking forward to seeing Hagrid under normal circumstances, but Care of Magical Creatures meant seeing the Slytherins too—the first time he would come face-to-face with them since becoming champion.

Predictably, Malfoy arrived at Hagrid's cabin with his familiar sneer firmly in place.

“Ah, look, boys, it's the champion,” he said to Crabbe and Goyle the moment he got within earshot of Harry. “Got your autograph books? Better get a signature now, because I doubt he's going to be around much longer... Half the Triwizard champions have died... how long d'you reckon you're going to last, Potter? Ten minutes into the first task's my bet.”

Crabbe and Goyle guffawed sycophantically, but Malfoy had to stop there, because Hagrid emerged from the back of his cabin balancing a teetering tower of crates, each containing a very large Blast-Ended Skrewt. To the class's horror, Hagrid proceeded to explain that the reason the skrewts had been killing one another was an excess of pent-up energy, and that the solution would be for each student to fix a leash on a skrewt and take it for a short walk. The only good thing about this plan was that it distracted Malfoy completely.

“Take this thing for a walk?” he repeated in disgust, staring into one of the boxes. “And where exactly are we supposed to fix the leash? Around the sting, the blasting end, or the sucker?”

“Roun' the middle,” said Hagrid, demonstrating. “Er—yeh might want ter put on yer dragon-hide gloves, jus' as an extra precaution, like. Harry—you come here an' help me with this big one...

Hagrid's real intention, however, was totalk to Harry away from the rest of the class. He waited until everyone else had set off with their skrewts, then turned to Harry and said, very seriously, “So—yer competin', Harry. In the tournament. School champion.”

“One of the champions,” Harry corrected him.

Hagrid's beetle-black eyes looked very anxious under his wild eyebrows.

“No idea who put yeh in fer it, Harry?”

“You believe I didn't do it, then?” said Harry, concealing with difficulty the rush of gratitude he felt at Hagrid's words.

“Course I do,” Hagrid grunted. “Yeh say it wasn' you, an' I believe yeh—an' Dumbledore believes yer, an' all.”

“Wish I knew who did do it,” said Harry bitterly.

The pair of them looked out over the lawn; the class was widely scattered now, and all in great difficulty. The skrewts were now over three feet long, and extremely powerful. No longer shell-less and colorless, they had developed a kind of thick, grayish, shiny armor. They looked like a cross between giant scorpions and elongated crabs—but still without recognizable heads or eyes. They had become immensely strong and very hard to control.

“Look like they're havin' fun, don' they?” Hagrid said happily. Harry assumed he was talking about the skrewts, because his classmates certainly weren't; every now and then, with an alarming bang, one of the skrewts' ends would explode, causing it to shoot forward several yards, and more than one person was being dragged along on their stomach, trying desperately to get back on their feet.

“Ah, I don' know, Harry,” Hagrid sighed suddenly, looking back down at him with a worried expression on his face. “School champion... everythin' seems ter happen ter you, doesn' it?”

Harry didn't answer. Yes, everything did seem to happen to him... that was more or less what Hermione had said as they had walked around the lake, and that was the reason, according to her, that Ron was no longer talking to him.

The next few days were some of Harry's worst at Hogwarts. The closest he had ever come to feeling like this had been during those months, in his second year, when a large part of the school had suspected him of attacking his fellow students. But Ron had been on his side then. He thought he could have coped with the rest of the school's behavior if he could just have had Ron back as a friend, but he wasn't going to try and persuade Ron to talk to him if Ron didn't want to. Nevertheless, it was lonely with dislike pouring in on him from all sides.

He could understand the Hufflepuffs' attitude, even if he didn't like it; they had their own champion to support. He expected nothing less than vicious insults from the Slytherins—he was highly unpopular there and always had been, because he had helped Gryffindor beat them so often, both at Quidditch and in the Inter-House Championship. But he had hoped the Ravenclaws might have found it in their hearts to support him as much as Cedric. He was wrong, however. Most Ravenclaws seemed to think that he had been desperate to earn himself a bit more fame by tricking the goblet into accepting his name.

Then there was the fact that Cedric looked the part of a champion so much more than he did. Exceptionally handsome, with his straight nose, dark hair, and gray eyes, it was hard to say who was receiving more admiration these days, Cedric or Viktor Krum. Harry actually saw the same sixth-year girls who had been so keen to get Krum's autograph begging Cedric to sign their school bags one lunchtime.

Meanwhile there was no reply from Sirius, Hedwig was refusing to come anywhere near him, Professor Trelawney was predicting his death with even more certainty than usual, and he did so badly at Summoning Charms in Professor Flitwick's class that he was given extra homework—the only person to get any, apart from Neville.

“It's really not that difficult, Harry,” Hermione tried to reassure him as they left Flitwick's class—she had been making objects zoom across the room to her all lesson, as though she were some sort of weird magnet for board dusters, wastepaper baskets, and lunascopes. “You just weren't concentrating properly—”

“Wonder why that was,” said Harry darkly as Cedric Diggory walked past, surrounded by a large group of simpering girls, all of whom looked at Harry as though he were a particularly large Blast-Ended Skrewt. “Still—never mind, eh? Double Potions to look forward to this afternoon...”

Double Potions was always a horrible experience, but these days it was nothing short of torture. Being shut in a dungeon for an hour and a half with Snape and the Slytherins, all of whom seemed determined to punish Harry as much as possible for daring to become school champion, was about the most unpleasant thing Harry could imagine. He had already struggled through one Friday's worth, with Hermione sitting next to him intoning “ignore them, ignore them, ignore them” under her breath, and he couldn't see why today should be any better.

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 138871 times

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