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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 37)


“So... what are you saying?” said Harry slowly. “Karkaroff's trying to kill me? But—why?”

Sirius hesitated.

“I've been nearing some very strange things,” he said slowly. “The Death Eaters seem to be a bit more active than usual lately. They showed themselves at the Quidditch World Cup, didn't they? Someone set off the Dark Mark... and then—did you hear about that Ministry of Magic witch who's gone missing?”

“Bertha Jorkins?” said Harry.

“Exactly... she disappeared in Albania, and that's definitely where Voldemort was rumored to be last... and she would have known the Triwizard Tournament was coming up, wouldn't she?”

“Yeah, but... it's not very likely she'd have walked straight into Voldemort, is it?” said Harry.

“Listen, I knew Bertha Jorkins,” said Sirius grimly. “She was at Hogwarts when I was, a few years above your dad and me. And she was an idiot. Very nosy, but no brains, none at all. It's not a good combination, Harry. I'd say she'd be very easy to lure into a trap.”

“So... so Voldemort could have found out about the tournament?” said Harry. “Is that what you mean? You think Karkaroff might be here on his orders?”

“I don't know,” said Sirius slowly, “I just don't know... Karkaroff doesn't strike me as the type who'd go back to Voldemort unless he knew Voldemort was powerful enough to protect him. But whoever put your name in that goblet did it for a reason, and I can't help thinking the tournament would be a very good way to attack you and make it hook like an accident.”

“Looks hike a really good plan from where I'm standing,” said Harry grinning bleaky. “They'll just have to stand back and let the dragons do their stuff.”

“Right—these dragons,” said Sirius, speaking very quickly now. “There's a way, Harry. Don't be tempted to try a Stunning Spell—dragons are strong and too powerfully magical to be knocked out by a single Stunner, you need about half a dozen wizards at a time to overcome a dragon—”

“Yeah, I know, I just saw,” said Harry.

“But you can do it alone,” said Sirius. “There is away, and a simple spell's all you need. Just—”

But Harry held up a hand to silence him, his heart suddenly pounding as though it would burst. He could hear footsteps coming down the spiral staircase behind him.

“Go!” he hissed at Sirius. “ Go! There's someone coming!”

Harry scrambled to his feet, hiding the fire—if someone saw Sirius's face within the walls of Hogwarts, they would raise an almighty uproar—the Ministry would get dragged in—he, Harry, would be questioned about Sirius's whereabouts—

Harry heard a tiny pop! in the fire behind him and knew Sirius had gone. He watched the bottom of the spiral staircase. Who had decided to go for a stroll at one o'clock in the morning, and stopped Sirius from telling him how to get past a dragon?

It was Ron. Dressed in his maroon paisley pajamas, Ron stopped dead facing Harry across the room, and looked around.

“Who were you talking to?” he said.

“What's that got to do with you?” Harry snarled. “What are you doing down here at this time of night?”

“I just wondered where you—” Ron broke off, shrugging. “Nothing. I'm going back to bed.”

“Just thought you'd come nosing around, did you?” Harry shouted. He knew that Ron had no idea what he'd walked in on, knew he hadn't done it on purpose, but he didn't care—at this moment he hated everything about Ron, right down to the several inches of bare ankle showing beneath his pajama trousers.

“Sorry about that,” said Ron, his face reddening with anger. “Should've realized you didn't want to be disturbed. I'll let you get on with practicing for your next interview in peace.”

Harry seized one of the POTTER REALLY STINKS badges off the table and chucked it, as hard as he could, across the room. It hit Ron on the forehead and bounced off.

“There you go,” Harry said. “Something for you to wear on Tuesday. You might even have a scar now, if yon're lucky... That's what you want, isn't it?”

He strode across the room toward the stairs; he half expected Ron to stop him, he would even have liked Ron to throw a punch at him, but Ron just stood there in his too-small pajamas, and Harry, having stormed upstairs, lay awake in bed fuming for a long time afterward and didn't hear him come up to bed.

CHAPTER TWENTY

THE FIRST TASK

Harry got up on Sunday morning and dressed so inattentively that it was a while before he realized he was trying to pull his hat onto his foot instead of his sock. When he'd finally got all his clothes on the right parts of his body, he hurried off to find Hermione, locating her at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, where she was eating breakfast with Ginny. Feeling too queasy to eat, Harry waited until Hermione had swallowed her last spoonful of porridge, then dragged her out onto the grounds. There, he told her all about the dragons, and about everything Sirius had said, while they took another long walk around the lake.

Alarmed as she was by Sirius's warnings about Karkaroff, Hermione still thought that the dragons were the more pressing problem.

“Let's just try and keep you alive until Tuesday evening,” she said desperately, “and then we can worry about Karkaroff.”

They walked three times around the lake, trying all the way to think of a simple spell that would subdue a dragon. Nothing whatsoever occurred to them, so they retired to the library instead. Here, Harry pulled down every book he could find on dragons, and both of them set to work searching through the large pile.

“Talon-clipping by charms... treating scale-rot... ' This is no good, this is for nutters like Hagrid who want to keep them healthy...

“Dragons are extremely difficult to slay, owing to the ancient magic that imbues their thick hides, which none but the most powerful spells can penetrate... ' But Sirius said a simple one would do it...

“Let's try some simple spellbooks, then,” said Harry, throwing aside Men Who Love Dragons Too Much.

He returned to the table with a pile of spellbooks, set them down, and began to flick through each in turn, Hermione whispering nonstop at his elbow.

“Well, there are Switching Spells... but what's the point of Switching it? Unless you swapped its fangs for wine-gums or something that would make it less dangerous... The trouble is, like that book said, not much is going to get through a dragon's hide... I'd say Transfigure it, but something that big, you really haven't got a hope, I doubt even Professor McGonagall... unless you're supposed to put the spell on yourself? Maybe to give yourself extra powers? But they're not simple spells, I mean, we haven't done any of those in class, I only know about them because I've been doing O. W. L. practice papers...”

“Hermione,” Harry said, through gritted teeth, “will you shut up for a bit, please? I m trying to concentrate.”

But all that happened, when Hermione fell silent, was that Harry's brain filled with a sort of blank buzzing, which didn't seem to allow room for concentration. He stared hopelessly down the index of Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed. Instant scalping... but dragons had no hair... pepper breath... that would probably increase a dragon's firepower... horn tongue... just what he needed, to give it an extra weapon...

“Oh no, he's back again, why can't he read on his stupid ship?” said Hermione irritably as Viktor Krum slouched in, cast a surly look over at the pair of them, and settled himself in a distant corner with a pile of books. “Come on, Harry, we'll go back to the common room... his fan club'll be here in a moment, twittering away...”

And sure enough, as they left the library, a gang of girls tiptoed past them, one of them wearing a Bulgaria scarf tied around her waist.

Harry barely slept that night. When he awoke on Monday morning, he seriously considered for the first time ever just running away from Hogwarts. But as he looked around the Great Hall at breakfast time, and thought about what leaving the castle would mean, he knew he couldn't do it. It was the only place he had ever been happy... well, he supposed he must have been happy with his parents too, but he couldn't remember that.

Somehow, the knowledge that he would rather be here and facing a dragon than back on Privet Drive with Dudley was good to know; it made him feel slightly calmer. He finished his bacon with difficulty (his throat wasn't working too well), and as he and Hermione got up, he saw Cedric Diggory leaving the Hufflepuff table.

Cedric still didn't know about the dragons... the only champion who didn't, if Harry was right in thinking that Maxime and Karkaroff would have told Fleur and Krum...

“Hermione, I'll see you in the greenhouses,” Harry said, coming to his decision as he watched Cedric leaving the Hall. “Go on, I'll catch you up.”

“Harry, you'll be late, the bell's about to ring—”

“I'll catch you up, okay?”

By the time Harry reached the bottom of the marble staircase, Cedric was at the top. He was with a load of sixth-year friends. Harry didn't want to talk to Cedric in front of them; they were among those who had been quoting Rita Skeeter's article at him every time he went near them. He followed Cedric at a distance and saw that he was heading toward the Charms corridor. This gave Harry an idea. Pausing at a distance from them, he pulled out his wand, and took careful aim.

“Diffindo!”

Cedric's bag split. Parchment, quills, and books spilled out of it onto the floor. Several bottles of ink smashed.

“Don't bother,” said Cedric in an exasperated voice as his friends bent down to help him. “Tell Flitwick I'm coming, go on...

This was exactly what Harry had been hoping for. He slipped his wand back into his robes, waited until Cedric's friends had disappeared into their classroom, and hurried up the corridor, which was now empty of everyone but himself and Cedric.

“Hi,” said Cedric, picking up a copy of A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration that was now splattered with ink. “My bag just split... brand-new and all...”

“Cedric,” said Harry, “the first task is dragons.”

“What?” said Cedric, looking up.

“Dragons,” said Harry, speaking quickly, in case Professor Flitwick came out to see where Cedric had got to. “They've got four, one for each of us, and we've got to get past them.”

Cedric stared at him. Harry saw some of the panic he'd been feeling since Saturday night flickering in Cedric's gray eyes.

“Are you sure?” Cedric said in a hushed voice.

“Dead sure,” said Harry. “I've seen them.”

“But how did you find out? We're not supposed to know...”

“Never mind,” said Harry quickly—he knew Hagrid would be in trouble if he told the truth. “But I'm not the only one who knows. Fleur and Krum will know by now—Maxime and Karkaroff both saw the dragons too.”

Cedric straightened up, his arms full of inky quills, parchment, and books, his ripped bag dangling off one shoulder. He stared at Harry, and there was a puzzled, almost suspicious look in his eyes.

“Why are you telling me?” he asked.

Harry looked at him in disbelief. He was sure Cedric wouldn't have asked that if he had seen the dragons himself. Harry wouldn't have let his worst enemy face those monsters unprepared—well, perhaps Malfoy or Snape...

“It's just... fair, isn't it?” he said to Cedric. “We all know now... we're on an even footing, aren't we?”

Cedric was still hooking at him in a slightly suspicious way when Harry heard a familiar clunking noise behind him. He turned around and saw Mad-Eye Moody emerging from a nearby classroom.

“Come with me, Potter,” he growled. “Diggory, off you go.”

Harry stared apprehensively at Moody. Had he overheard them?

“Er—Professor, I'm supposed to be in Herbology—”

“Never mind that, Potter. In my office, please...

Harry followed him, wondering what was going to happen to him now. What if Moody wanted to know how he'd found out about the dragons? Would Moody go to Dumbledore and tell on Hagrid, or just turn Harry into a ferret? Well, it might be easier to get past a dragon if he were a ferret, Harry thought dully, he'd be smaller, much less easy to see from a height of fifty feet..

He followed Moody into his office. Moody closed the door behind them and turned to look at Harry, his magical eye fixed upon him as well as the normal one.

“That was a very decent thing you just did, Potter,” Moody said quietly.

Harry didn't know what to say; this wasn't the reaction he had expected at all.

“Sit down,” said Moody, and Harry sat, looking around.

He had visited this office under two of its previous occupants. In Professor Lockhart's day, the walls had been plastered with beaming, winking pictures of Professor Lockhart himself. When Lupin had lived here, you were more likely to come across a specimen of some fascinating new Dark creature he had procured for them to study in class. Now, however, the office was full of a number of exceptionally odd objects that Harry supposed Moody had used in the days when he had been an Auror.

On his desk stood what looked hike a large, cracked, glass spinning top; Harry recognized it at once as a Sneakoscope, because he owned one himself, though it was much smaller than Moody's. In the corner on a small table stood an object that looked something like an extra-squiggly, golden television aerial. It was humming slightly. What appeared to be a mirror hung opposite Harry on the wall, but it was not reflecting the room. Shadowy figures were moving around inside it, none of them clearly in focus.

“Like my Dark Detectors, do you?” s aid Moody, who was watching Harry closely.

“What's that?” Harry asked, pointing at the squiggly golden aerial.

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 138872 times

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