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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 34)


“Dumbledore!” cried Rita Skeeter, with every appearance of delight—but Harry noticed that her quill and the parchment had suddenly vanished from the box of Magical Mess Remover, and Rita's clawed fingers were hastily snapping shut the clasp of her crocodile-skin bag. “How are you?” she said, standing up and holding out one of her large, mannish hands to Dumbledore. “I hope you saw my piece over the summer about the International Confederation of Wizards' Conference?”

“Enchantingly nasty,” said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. “I particularly enjoyed your description of me as an obsolete dingbat.”

Rita Skeeter didn't look remotely abashed.

“I was just making the point that some of your ideas are a little old-fashioned, Dumbhedore, and that many wizards in the street—”

“I will be delighted to hear the reasoning behind the rudeness, Rita,” said Dumbledore, with a courteous bow and a smile, “but I'm afraid we will have to discuss the matter later. The Weighing of the Wands is about to start, and it cannot take place if one of our champions is hidden in a broom cupboard.”

Very glad to get away from Rita Skeeter, Harry hurried back into the room. The other champions were now sitting in chairs near the door, and he sat down quickly next to Cedric, hooking up at the velvet-covered table, where four of the five judges were now sitting—Professor Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Mr. Crouch, and Ludo Bagman. Rita Skeeter settled herself down in a corner; Harry saw her slip the parchment out of her bag again, spread it on her knee, suck the end of the Quick-Quotes Quill, and place it once more on the parchment.

“May I introduce Mr. Ollivander?” said Dumbledore, taking his place at the judges' table and talking to the champions. “He will be checking your wands to ensure that they are in good condition before the tournament.”

Harry hooked around, and with a jolt of surprise saw an old wizard with large, pale eyes standing quietly by the window. Harry had met Mr. Ollivander before—he was the wand-maker from whom Harry had bought his own wand over three years ago in Diagon Alley.

“Mademoiselle Delacour, could we have you first, please?” said Mr. Ollivander, stepping into the empty space in the middle of the room.

Fleur Delacour swept over to Mr. Olhivander and handed him her wand.

“Hmm...” he said.

He twirled the wand between his long fingers like a baton and it emitted a number of pink and gold sparks. Then he held it chose to his eyes and examined it carefully.

“Yes,” he said quietly, “nine and a half inches... inflexible.. rosewood... and containing... dear me...”

“An 'air from ze 'ead of a veela,” said Fleur. “One of my grandmuzzer's.”

So Fleur was part veela, thought Harry, making a mental note to tell Ron... then he remembered that Ron wasn't speaking to him.

“Yes,” said Mr. Ollivander, “yes, I've never used veela hair myself, of course. I find it makes for rather temperamental wands... however, to each his own, and if this suits you..”

Mr. Ollivander ran his fingers along the wand, apparently checking for scratches or bumps; then he muttered, “Orchideous!” and a bunch of flowers burst from the wand tip.

“Very well, very well, it's in fine working order,” said Mr. Ollivander, scooping up the flowers and handing them to Fleur with her wand. “Mr. Diggory, you next.”

Fleur glided back to her seat, smiling at Cedric as he passed her.

“Ah, now, this is one of mine, isn't it?” said Mr. Ollivander, with much more enthusiasm, as Cedric handed over his wand. “Yes, I remember it well. Containing a single hair from the tail of a particularly fine male unicorn... must have been seventeen hands; nearly gored me with his horn after I plucked his tail. Twelve and a quarter inches... ash... pleasantly springy. It's in fine condition... You treat it regularly?”

“Polished it last night,” said Cedric, grinning.

Harry hooked down at his own wand. He could see finger marks all over it. He gathered a fistful of robe from his knee and tried to rub it clean surreptitiously. Several gold sparks shot out of the end of it. Fleur Delacour gave him a very patronizing look, and he desisted.

Mr. Ollivander sent a stream of silver smoke rings across the room from the tip of Cedric's wand, pronounced himself satisfied, and then said, “Mr. Krum, if you please.”

Viktor Krum got up and slouched, round-shouldered and duck-footed, toward Mr. Ollivander. He thrust out his wand and stood scowling, with his hands in the pockets of his robes.

“Hmm,” said Mr. Olhivander, “this is a Gregorovitch creation, unless I'm much mistaken? A fine wand-maker, though the styling is never quite what I... however..”

He lifted the wand and examined it minutely, turning it over and over before his eyes.

“Yes... hornbeam and dragon heartstring?” he shot at Krum, who nodded. “Rather thicker than one usually sees... quite rigid... ten and a quarter inches... Avis!”

The hornbeam wand let off a blast hike a gun, and a number of small, twittering birds flew out of the end and through the open window into the watery sunlight.

“Good,” said Mr. Ollivander, handing Krum back his wand. “Which leaves... Mr. Potter.”

Harry got to his feet and walked past Krum to Mr. Ollivander. He handed over his wand.

“Aaaah, yes,” said Mr. Ohlivander, his pale eyes suddenly gleaming. “Yes, yes, yes. How well I remember.”

Harry could remember too. He could remember it as though it had happened yesterday...

Four summers ago, on his eleventh birthday, he had entered Mr. Ollivander's shop with Hagrid to buy a wand. Mr. Ollivander had taken his measurements and then started handing him wands to try. Harry had waved what felt like every wand in the shop, until at last he had found the one that suited him—this one, which was made of holly, eleven inches long, and contained a single feather from the tail of a phoenix. Mr. Ollivander had been very surprised that Harry had been so compatible with this wand. “Curious,” he had said, “curious,” and not until Harry asked what was curious had Mr. Olhivander explained that the phoenix feather in Harry's wand had come from the same bird that had supplied the core of Lord Voldemort's.

Harry had never shared this piece of information with anybody. He was very fond of his wand, and as far as he was concerned its relation to Voldemort's wand was something it couldn't help—rather as he couldn't help being related to Aunt Petunia. However, he really hoped that Mr. Ollivander wasn't about to tell the room about it. He had a funny feeling Rita Skeeter's Quick-Quotes Quill might just explode with excitement if he did.

Mr. Ollivander spent much longer examining Harry's wand than anyone else's. Eventually, however, he made a fountain of wine shoot out of it, and handed it back to Harry, announcing that it was still in perfect condition.

“Thank you all,” said Dumbledore, standing up at the judges' table. “You may go back to your lessons now—or perhaps it would be quicker just to go down to dinner, as they are about to end—”

Feeling that at last something had gone right today, Harry got up to leave, but the man with the black camera jumped up and cleared his throat.

“Photos, Dumbledore, photos!” cried Bagman excitedly. “All the judges and champions, what do you think, Rita?”

“Er—yes, let's do those first,” said Rita Skeeter, whose eyes were upon Harry again. “And then perhaps some individual shots.”

The photographs took a long time. Madame Maxime cast everyone else into shadow wherever she stood, and the photographer couldn't stand far enough back to get her into the frame; eventually she had to sit while everyone else stood around her. Karkaroff kept twirling his goatee around his finger to give it an extra curl; Krum, whom Harry would have thought would have been used to this sort of thing, skulked, half-hidden, at the back of the group. The photographer seemed keenest to get Fleur at the front, but Rita Skeeter kept hurrying forward and dragging Harry into greater prominence. Then she insisted on separate shots of all the champions. At last, they were free to go.

Harry went down to dinner. Hermione wasn't there—he supposed she was still in the hospital wing having her teeth fixed. He ate alone at the end of the table, then returned to Gryffindor Tower, thinking of all the extra work on Summoning Charms that he had to do. Up in the dormitory, he came across Ron.

“You've had an owl,” said Ron brusquely the moment he walked in. He was pointing at Harry's pillow. The school barn owl was waiting for him there.

“Oh—right,” said Harry.

“And we've got to do our detentions tomorrow night, Snape's dungeon,” said Ron.

He then walked straight out of the room, not looking at Harry. For a moment, Harry considered going after him—he wasn't sure whether he wanted to talk to him or hit him, both seemed quite appealing—but the lure of Sirius's answer was too strong. Harry strode over to the barn owl, took the letter off its leg, and unrolled it.

Harry—

I can't say everything I would like to in a letter, it's too risky

in case the owl is intercepted—we need to talk face-to-face. Can you ensure that you are alone by the fire in Gryffindor Tower at one o'clock in the morning on the 22nd ofNovember?

I know better than anyone that you can look after yourself and while you're around Dumbledore and Moody I don't think anyone will be able to hurt you. However, someone seems to be having a good try. Entering you in that tournament would have been very risky, especially right under Dumbkdore's nose.

Be on the watch, Harry. I still want to hear about anything unusual. Let me know about the 22nd ofNovember as quickly as you can.

Sirius

CHAPTER NINETEEN

THE HUNGARIAN HORNTAIL

The prospect of talking face-to-face with Sirius was all that sustained Harry over the next fortnight, the only bright spot on a horizon that had never looked darker. The shock of finding himself school champion had worn off slightly now, and the fear of what was facing him had started to sink in. The first task was drawing steadily nearer; he felt as though it were crouching ahead of him hike some horrific monster, barring his path. He had never suffered nerves like these; they were way beyond anything he had experienced before a Quidditch match, not even his last one against Slytherin, which had decided who would win the Quidditch Cup. Harry was finding it hard to think about the future at all; he felt as though his whole life had been heading up to, and would finish with, the first task.

Admittedly, he didn't see how Sirius was going to make him feel any better about having to perform an unknown piece of difficult and dangerous magic in front of hundreds of people, but the mere sight of a friendly face would be something at the moment. Harry wrote back to Sirius saying that he would be beside the common room fire at the time Sirius had suggested; and he and Hermione spent a long time going over plans for forcing any stragglers out of the common room on the night in question. If the worst came to the worst, they were going to drop a bag of Dungbombs, but they hoped they wouldn't have to resort to that—Filch would skin them alive.

In the meantime, life became even worse for Harry within the confines of the castle, for Rita Skeeter had published her piece about the Triwizard Tournament, and it had turned out to be not so much a report on the tournament as a highly colored life story of Harry. Much of the front page had been given over to a picture of Harry; the article (continuing on pages two, six, and seven) had been all about Harry, the names of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang champions (misspelled) had been squashed into the last line of the article, and Cedric hadn't been mentioned at all.

The article had appeared ten days ago, and Harry still got a sick, burning feeling of shame in his stomach every time he thought about it. Rita Skeeter had reported him saying an awful lot of things that he couldn't remember ever saying in his life, let alone in that broom cupboard.

I suppose I get my strength from my parents. I know they'd be very proud of me if they could see me now... Yes, sometimes at night I still cry about them, I'm not ashamed to admit it... I know nothing will hurt me during the tournament, because they're watching over me...

But Rita Skeeter had gone even further than transforming his “er's” into long, sickly sentences: She had interviewed other people about him too.

Harry has at last found love at Hogwarts. His close friend, Colin Creevey, says that Harry is rarely seen out of the company of one Hermione Granger, a stunningly pretty Muggle-born girl who, like Harry, is one of the top students in the school.

From the moment the article had appeared, Harry had had to endure people—Slytherins, mainly—quoting it at him as he passed and making sneering comments.

“Want a hanky, Potter, in case you start crying in Transfiguration?”

“Since when have you been one of the top students in the school, Potter? Or is this a school you and Longbottom have set up together?”

“Hey—Harry!”

“Yeah, that's right!” Harry found himself shouting as he wheeled around in the corridor, having had just about enough. “I've just been crying my eyes out over my dead mum, and I'm just off to do a bit more...

“No—it was just—you dropped your quill.”

It was Cho. Harry felt the color rising in his face.

“Oh—right—sorry,” he muttered, taking the quill back.

“Er... good luck on Tuesday,” she said. “I really hope you do well.”

Which left Harry feeling extremely stupid.

Hermione had come in for her fair share of unpleasantness too, but she hadn't yet started yelling at innocent bystanders; in fact, Harry was full of admiration for the way she was handling the situation.

“Stunningly pretty? Her?” Pansy Parkinson had shrieked the first time she had come face-to-face with Hermione after Rita's article had appeared. “What was she judging against—a chipmunk?”

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 138864 times

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