When he and Hermione arrived at Snape's dungeon after lunch, they found the
Slytherins waiting outside, each and every one of them wearing a large badge
on the front of his or her robes. For one wild moment Harry thought they were
S. P. E. W. badges—then he saw that they all bore the same message, in luminous
red letters that burnt brightly in the dimly lit underground passage:
SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY—
THE REAL HOGWARTS CHAMPION!
“Like them, Potter?” said Malfoy loudly as Harry approached. “And this isn't
all they do—look!”
He pressed his badge into his chest, and the message upon it vanished, to
be replaced by another one, which glowed green:
The Slytherins howled with laughter. Each of them pressed their badges too,
until the message POTTER STINKS was shining brightly all around Harry. He felt
the heat rise in his face and neck.
“Oh very funny,” Hermione said sarcastically to Pansy Parkinson and her gang
of Slytherin girls, who were laughing harder than anyone, “really witty.”
Ron was standing against the wall with Dean and Seamus. He wasn't laughing,
but he wasn't sticking up for Harry either.
“Want one, Granger?” said Malfoy, holding out a badge to Hermione. “I've
got loads. But don't touch my hand, now. I've just washed it, you see; don't
want a Mudblood sliming it up.”
Some of the anger Harry had been feeling for days and days seemed to burst
through a dam in his chest. He had reached for his wand before he'd thought
what he was doing. People all around them scrambled out of the way, backing
down the corridor.
“Harry!” Hermione said warningly.
“Go on, then, Potter,” Malfoy said quietly, drawing out his own wand. “Moody's
not here to look after you now—do it, if you've got the guts—”
For a split second, they looked into each other's eyes, then, at exactly
the same time, both acted.
“Funnunculus!” Harry yelled.
“Densaugeo!” screamed Malfoy.
Jets of light shot from both wands, hit each other in midair, and ricocheted
off at angles—Harry's hit Goyle in the face, and Malfoy's hit Hermione. Goyle
bellowed and put his hands to his nose, where great ugly boils were springing
up—Hermione, whimpering in panic, was clutching her mouth.
Ron had hurried forward to see what was wrong with her; Harry turned and
saw Ron dragging Hermione's hand away from her face. It wasn't a pretty sight.
Hermione's front teeth—already larger than average—were now growing at an alarming
rate; she was looking more and more like a beaver as her teeth elongated, past
her bottom lip, toward her chin—panic-stricken, she felt them and let out a
“And what is all this noise about?” said a soft, deadly voice.
Snape had arrived. The Slytherins clamored to give their explanations; Snape
pointed a long yellow finger at Malfoy and said, “Explain.”
“Potter attacked me, sir—”
“We attacked each other at the same time!” Harry shouted.
“and he hit Goyle—look—”
Snape examined Goyle, whose face now resembled something that would have
been at home in a book on poisonous fungi.
“Hospital wing, Goyle,” Snape said calmly.
“Malfoy got Hermione!” Ron said. “Look!”
He forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth—she was doing her best to hide
them with her hands, though this was difficult as they had now grown down past
her collar. Pansy Parkinson and the other Slytherin girls were doubled up with
silent giggles, pointing at Hermione from behind Snape's back.
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”.
Hermione let out a whimper; her eyes filled with tears, she turned on her
heel and ran, ran all the way up the corridor and out of sight.
It was lucky, perhaps, that both Harry and Ron started shouting at Snape
at the same time; lucky their voices echoed so much in the stone corridor, for
in the confused din, it was impossible for him to hear exactly what they were
calling him. He got the gist, however.
“Let's see,” he said, in his silkiest voice. “Fifty points from Gryffindor
and a detention each for Potter and Weasley. Now get inside, or it'll be a week's
worth of detentions.”
Harry's ears were ringing. The injustice of it made him want to curse Snape
into a thousand slimy pieces. He passed Snape, walked with Ron to the back of
the dungeon, and slammed his bag down onto the table. Ron was shaking with anger
too—for a moment, it felt as though everything was back to normal between them,
but then Ron turned and sat down with Dean and Seamus instead, leaving Harry
alone at his table. On the other side of the dungeon, Malfoy turned his back
on Snape and pressed his badge, smirking. POTTER STINKS flashed once more across
Harry sat there staring at Snape as the lesson began, picturing horrific
things happening to him... If only he knew how to do the Cruciatus Curse...
he'd have Snape flat on his back like that spider, jerking and twitching.
“Antidotes!” said Snape, looking around at them all, his cold black eyes
glittering unpleasantly. “You should all have prepared your recipes now. I want
you to brew them carefully, and then, we will be selecting someone on whom to
Snape's eyes met Harry's, and Harry knew what was coming. Snape was going
to poison him. Harry imagined picking up his cauldron, and sprinting to the
front of the class, and bringing it down on Snape's greasy head—And then a knock
on the dungeon door burst in on Harry's thoughts.
It was Colin Creevey; he edged into the room, beaming at Harry, and walked
up to Snape's desk at the front of the room.
“Yes?” said Snape curtly.
“Please, sir, I'm supposed to take Harry Potter upstairs.” Snape stared down
his hooked nose at Colin, whose smile faded from his eager face.
“Potter has another hour of Potions to complete,” said Snape coldly. “He
will come upstairs when this class is finished.”
Colin went pink.
“Sir—sir, Mr. Bagman wants him,” he said nervously. “All the champions have
got to go, I think they want to take photographs...”
Harry would have given anything he owned to have stopped Colin saying those
last few words. He chanced half a glance at Ron, but Ron was staring determinedly
at the ceiling.
“Very well, very well,” Snape snapped. “Potter, leave your things here, I
want you back down here later to test your antidote.”
“Please, sir—he's got to take his things with him,” squeaked Cohn. “All the
“Very well!” said Snape. “Potter—take your bag and get out of my sight!”
Harry swung his bag over his shoulder, got up, and headed for the door. As
he walked through the Slytherin desks, POTTER STINKS flashed at him from every
“It's amazing, isn't it, Harry?” said Colin, starting to speak the moment
Harry had closed the dungeon door behind him. “Isn't it, though? You being champion?”
“Yeah, really amazing,” said Harry heavily as they set off toward the steps
into the entrance hall. “What do they want photos for, Colin?”
“The Daily Prophet, I think!”
“Great,” said Harry dully. “Exactly what I need. More publicity.”
“Good luck!” said Colin when they had reached the right room. Harry knocked
on the door and entered.
He was in a fairly small classroom; most of the desks had been pushed away
to the back of the room, leaving a large space in the middle; three of them,
however, had been placed end-to-end in front of the blackboard and covered with
a long length of velvet. Five chairs had been set behind the velvet-covered
desks, and Ludo Bagman was sitting in one of them, talking to a witch Harry
had never seen before, who was wearing magenta robes.
Viktor Krum was standing moodily in a corner as usual and not talking to
anybody. Cedric and Fheur were in conversation. Fheur looked a good deal happier
than Harry had seen her so far; she kept throwing back her head so that her
long silvery hair caught the light. A paunchy man, holding a large black camera
that was smoking slightly, was watching Fleur out of the corner of his eye.
Bagman suddenly spotted Harry, got up quickly, and bounded forward.
“Ah, here he is! Champion number four! In you come, Harry, in you come...
nothing to worry about, it's just the wand weighing ceremony, the rest of the
judges will be here in a moment—”
“Wand weighing?” Harry repeated nervously.
“We have to check that your wands are fully functional, no problems, you
know, as they're your most important tools in the tasks ahead,” said Bagman.
“The expert's upstairs now with Dumbledore. And then there's going to be a little
photo shoot. This is Rita Skeeter,” he added, gesturing toward the witch in
magenta robes. “She's doing a small piece on the tournament for the Daily Prophet...”
“Maybe not that small, Ludo,” said Rita Skeeter, her eyes on Harry.
Her hair was set in elaborate and curiously rigid curls that contrasted oddly
with her heavy-jawed face. She wore jeweled spectacles. The thick fingers clutching
her crocodile-skin handbag ended in two-inch nails, painted crimson.
“I wonder if I could have a little word with Harry before we start?” she
said to Bagman, but still gazing fixedly at Harry. “The youngest champion, you
know... to add a bit of color?”
“Certainly!” cried Bagman. “That is—if Harry has no objection?”
“Er—” said Harry.
“Lovely,” said Rita Skeeter, and in a second, her scarlet-taloned fingers
had Harry's upper arm in a surprisingly strong grip, and she was steering him
out of the room again and opening a nearby door.
“We don't want to be in there with all that noise,” she said. “Let's see...
ah, yes, this is nice and cozy.”
It was a broom cupboard. Harry stared at her.
“Come along, dear—that's right—lovely,” said Rita Skeeter again, perching
herself precariously upon an upturned bucket, pushing Harry down onto a cardboard
box, and closing the door, throwing them into darkness. “Let's see now..”
She unsnapped her crocodile-skin handbag and pulled out a handful of candles,
which she lit with a wave of her wand and magicked into midair, so that they
could see what they were doing.
“You won't mind, Harry, if I use a Quick-Quotes Quill? It leaves me free
to talk to you normally...”
“A what?” said Harry.
Rita Skeeter's smile widened. Harry counted three gold teeth. She reached
again into her crocodile bag and drew out a long acid-green quill and a roll
of parchment, which she stretched out between them on a crate of Mrs. Skower's
All-Purpose Magical Mess Remover. She put the tip of the green quill into her
mouth, sucked it for a moment with apparent relish, then placed it upright on
the parchment, where it stood balanced on its point, quivering slightly.
“Testing... my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter.”
Harry hooked down quickly at the quill. The moment Rita Skeeter had spoken,
the green quill had started to scribble, skidding across the parchment:
Attractive blonde Rita Skeeter, forty-three, who's savage quill has punctured
many inflated reputations—
“Lovely,” said Rita Skeeter, yet again, and she ripped the top piece of parchment
off, crumpled it up, and stuffed it into her handbag. Now she leaned toward
Harry and said, “So, Harry... what made you decide to enter the Triwizard Tournament?”
“Er—” said Harry again, but he was distracted by the quill. Even though he
wasn't speaking, it was dashing across the parchment, and in its wake he could
make out a fresh sentence:
An ugly scar, souvenier of a tragic past, disfigures the otherwise charming
face of Harry Potter, whose eyes—
“Ignore the quill, Harry,” said Rita Skeeter firmly. Reluctantly Harry looked
up at her instead. “Now—why did you decide to enter the tournament, Harry?”
“I didn't,” said Harry. “I don't know how my name got into the Goblet of
Fire. I didn't put it in there.”
Rita Skeeter raised one heavily penciled eyebrow.
“Come now, Harry, there's no need to be scared of getting into trouble. We
all know you shouldn't really have entered at all. But don't worry about that.
Our readers hove a rebel.”
“But I didn't enter,” Harry repeated. “I don't know who—”
“How do you feel about the tasks ahead?” said Rita Skeeter. “Excited? Nervous?”
“I haven't really thought... yeah, nervous, I suppose,” said Harry. His insides
squirmed uncomfortably as he spoke.
“Champions have died in the past, haven't they?” said Rita Skeeter briskly.
“Have you thought about that at all?”
“Well... they say it's going to be a lot safer this year,” said Harry.
The quill whizzed across the parchment between them, back and forward as
though it were skating.
“Of course, you've looked death in the face before, haven't you?” said Rita
Skeeter, watching him closely. “How would you say that's affected you?”
“Er,” said Harry, yet again.
“Do you think that the trauma in your past might have made you keen to prove
yourself? To live up to your name? Do you think that perhaps you were tempted
to enter the Triwizard Tournament because—”
“I didn't enter,” said Harry, starting to feel irritated.
“Can you remember your parents at all?” said Rita Skeeter, talking over him.
“No,” said Harry.
“How do you think they'd feel if they knew you were competing in the Triwizard
Tournament? Proud? Worried? Angry?”
Harry was feeling really annoyed now. How on earth was he to know how his
parents would feel if they were alive? He could feel Rita Skeeter watching him
very intently. Frowning, he avoided her gaze and hooked down at words the quill
had just written:
Tears fill those startlingly green eyes as our conversation turns to the
parents he can barely remember.
“I have NOT got tears in my eyes!” said Harry loudly.
Before Rita Skeeter could say a word, the door of the broom cupboard was
pulled open. Harry looked around, blinking in the bright light. Albus Dumbledore
stood there, looking down at both of them, squashed into the cupboard.