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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 38)


“Secrecy Sensor. Vibrates when it detects concealment and lies... no use here, of course, too much interference—students in every direction lying about why they haven't done their homework Been humming ever since I got here. I had to disable my Sneakoscope because it wouldn't stop whistling. It's extra-sensitive, picks up stuff about a mile around. Of course, it could be picking up more than kid stuff,” he added in a growl.

“And what's the mirror for?”

“Oh that's my Foe-Glass. See them out there, skulking around? I'm not really in trouble until I see the whites of their eyes. That's when I open my trunk.”

He let out a short, harsh laugh, and pointed to the large trunk under the window. It had seven keyholes in a row. Harry wondered what was in there, until Moody's next question brought him sharply back to earth.

“So... found out about the dragons, have you?”

Harry hesitated. He'd been afraid of this—but he hadn't told Cedric, and he certainly wasn't going to tell Moody, that Hagrid had broken the rules.

“It's all right,” said Moody, sitting down and stretching out his wooden leg with a groan. “Cheating's a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament and always has been.”

“I didn't cheat,” said Harry sharply. “It was—a sort of accident that I found out.”

Moody grinned. “I wasn't accusing you, laddie. I've been telling Dumbledore from the start, he can be as high-minded as he likes, but you can bet old Karkaroff and Maxime won't be. They'll have told their champions everything they can. They want to win. They want to beat Dumbledore. They'd like to prove he's only human.”

Moody gave another harsh laugh, and his magical eye swiveled around so fast it made Harry feel queasy to watch it.

“So... got any ideas how you're going to get past your dragon yet?” said Moody.

“No,” said Harry.

“Well, I'm not going to tell you,” said Moody gruffly. “I don't show favoritism, me. I'm just going to give you some good, general advice. And the first bit is—play to your strengths.”

“I haven't got any,” said Harry, before he could stop himself. “Excuse me,” growled Moody, “you've got strengths if I say you've got them. Think now. What are you best at?”

Harry tried to concentrate. What was he best at? Well, that was easy, really—

“Quidditch,” he said dully, “and a fat lot of help—”

“That's right,” said Moody, staring at him very hard, his magical eye barely moving at all. “You're a damn good flier from what I've heard.”

“Yeah, but...” Harry stared at him. “I'm not allowed a broom, I've only got my wand...”

“My second piece of general advice,” said Moody loudly, interrupting him, “is to use a nice, simple spell that will enable you to get what you need.”

Harry looked at him blankly. What did he need?

“Come on, boy...” whispered Moody. “Put them together... it's not that difficult...”

And it clicked. He was best at flying. He needed to pass the dragon in the air. For that, he needed his Firebolt. And for his Fire-bolt, he needed—

“Hermione,” Harry whispered, when he had sped into greenhouse three minutes later, uttering a hurried apology to Professor Sprout as he passed her. “Hermione—I need you to help me.”

“What d'you think I've been trying to do, Harry?” she whispered back, her eyes round with anxiety over the top of the quivering Flutterby Bush she was pruning.

“Hermione, I need to learn how to do a Summoning Charm properly by tomorrow afternoon.”

And so they practiced. They didn't have lunch, but headed for a free classroom, where Harry tried with all his might to make various objects fly across the room toward him. He was still having problems. The books and quills kept losing heart halfway across the room and dropping hike stones to the floor.

“Concentrate, Harry, concentrate...”

“What d'you think I'm trying to do?” said Harry angrily. “A great big dragon keeps popping up in my head for some reason... Okay, try again...”

He wanted to skip Divination to keep practicing, but Hermione refused point-blank to skive off Arithmancy, and there was no point in staying without her. He therefore had to endure over an hour of Professor Trelawney, who spent half the lesson telling everyone that the position of Mars with relation to Saturn at that moment meant that people born in July were in great danger of sudden, violent deaths.

“Well, that's good,” said Harry loudly, his temper getting the better of him, “just as long as it's not drawn-out. I don't want to suffer.”

Ron looked for a moment as though he was going to laugh; he certainly caught Harry's eye for the first time in days, but Harry was still feeling too resentful toward Ron to care. He spent the rest of the lesson trying to attract small objects toward him under the table with his wand. He managed to make a fly zoom straight into his hand, though he wasn't entirely sure that was his prowess at Summoning Charms—perhaps the fly was just stupid.

He forced down some dinner after Divination, then returned to the empty classroom with Hermione, using the Invisibility Cloak to avoid the teachers. They kept practicing until past midnight. They would have stayed longer, but Peeves turned up and, pretending to think that Harry wanted things thrown at him, started chucking chairs across the room. Harry and Hermione left in a hurry before the noise attracted Filch, and went back to the Gryffindor common room, which was now mercifully empty.

At two o'clock in the morning, Harry stood near the fireplace, surrounded by heaps of objects: books, quills, several upturned chairs, an old set of Gobstones, and Neville's toad, Trevor. Only in the last hour had Harry really got the hang of the Summoning Charm.

“That's better, Harry, that's loads better,” Hermione said, looking exhausted but very pleased.

“Well, now we know what to do next time I can't manage a spell,” Harry said, throwing a rune dictionary back to Hermione, so he could try again, “threaten me with a dragon. Right...” He raised his wand once more. “Accio Dictionary!”

The heavy book soared out of Hermione's hand, flew across the room, and Harry caught it.

“Harry, I really think you've got it!” said Hermione delightedly.

“Just as long as it works tomorrow,” Harry said. “The Firebolt's going to be much farther away than the stuff in here, it's going to be in the castle, and I'm going to be out there on the grounds...”

“That doesn't matter,” said Hermione firmly.” Just as long as you're concentrating really, really hard on it, it'll come. Harry, we'd better get some sleep... you're going to need it.”

Harry had been focusing so hard on learning the Summoning Charm that evening that some of his blind panic had heft him. It returned in full measure, however, on the following morning. The atmosphere in the school was one of great tension and excitement. Lessons were to stop at midday, giving all the students time to get down to the dragons' enclosure—though of course, they didn't yet know what they would find there.

Harry felt oddly separate from everyone around him, whether they were wishing him good luck or hissing “We'll have a box of tissues ready, Potter” as he passed. It was a state of nervousness so advanced that he wondered whether he mightn't just lose his head when they tried to lead him out to his dragon, and start trying to curse everyone in sight. Time was behaving in a more peculiar fashion than ever, rushing past in great dollops, so that one moment he seemed to be sitting down in his first lesson, History of Magic, and the next, walking into lunch... and then (where had the morning gone? the last of the dragon-free hours?), Professor McGonagall was hurrying over to him in the Great Hall. Lots of people were watching.

“Potter, the champions have to come down onto the grounds now... You have to get ready for your first task.”

“Okay,” said Harry, standing up, his fork falling onto his plate with a clatter.

“Good luck, Harry,” Hermione whispered. “You'll be fine!”

“Yeah,” said Harry in a voice that was most unlike his own.

He heft the Great Hall with Professor McGonagall. She didn't seem herself either; in fact, she looked nearly as anxious as Hermione. As she walked him down the stone steps and out into the cold November afternoon, she put her hand on his shoulder.

“Now, don't panic,” she said, “just keep a cool head... We've got wizards standing by to control the situation if it gets out of hand... The main thing is just to do your best, and nobody will think any the worse of you... Are you all right?”

“Yes,” Harry heard himself say. “Yes, I'm fine.”

She was leading him toward the place where the dragons were, around the edge of the forest, but when they approached the clump of trees behind which the enclosure would be clearly visible, Harry saw that a tent had been erected, its entrance facing them, screening the dragons from view.

“You're to go in here with the other champions,” said Professor McGonagall, in a rather shaky sort of voice, “and wait for your turn, Potter. Mr. Bagman is in there... he'll be telling you the—the procedure... Good luck.”

“Thanks,” said Harry, in a flat, distant voice. She left him at the entrance of the tent. Harry went inside.

Fleur Delacour was sitting in a corner on a how wooden stool. She didn't look nearly as composed as usual, but rather pale and clammy. Viktor Krum looked even surlier than usual, which Harry supposed was his way of showing nerves. Cedric was pacing up and down. When Harry entered, Cedric gave him a small smile, which Harry returned, feeling the muscles in his face working rather hard, as though they had forgotten how to do it.

“Harry! Good-o!” said Bagman happily, looking around at him. “Come in, come in, make yourself at home!”

Bagman looked somehow like a slightly overblown cartoon figure, standing amid all the pale-faced champions. He was wearing his old Wasp robes again.

“Well, now we're all here—time to fill you in!” said Bagman brightly. “When the audience has assembled, I'm going to be offering each of you this bag”—he held up a small sack of purple silk and shook it at them—”from which you will each select a small model of the thing you are about to face! There are different—er—varieties, you see. And I have to tell you something else too... ah, yes... your task is to collect the golden egg!”

Harry glanced around. Cedric had nodded once, to show that he understood Bagman's words, and then started pacing around the tent again; he looked slightly green. Fleur Delacour and Krum hadn't reacted at all. Perhaps they thought they might be sick if they opened their mouths; that was certainly how Harry felt. But they, at least, had volunteered for this..

And in no time at all, hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of feet could be heard passing the tent, their owners talking excitedly, laughing, joking... Harry felt as separate from the crowd as though they were a different species. And then—it seemed like about a second later to Harry—Bagman was opening the neck of the purple silk sack.

“Ladies first,” he said, offering it to Fleur Delacour.

She put a shaking hand inside the bag and drew out a tiny, perfect model of a dragon—a Welsh Green. It had the number two around its neck And Harry knew, by the fact that Fleur showed no sign of surprise, but rather a determined resignation, that he had been right: Madame Maxime had told her what was coming.

The same held true for Krum. He pulled out the scarlet Chinese Fireball. It had a number three around its neck. He didn't even blink, just sat back down and stared at the ground.

Cedric put his hand into the bag, and out came the blueish-gray Swedish Short-Snout, the number one tied around its neck. Knowing what was left, Harry put his hand into the silk bag and pulled out the Hungarian Horntail, and the number four. It stretched its wings as he looked down at it, and bared its minuscule fangs.

“Well, there you are!” said Bagman. “You have each pulled out the dragon you will face, and the numbers refer to the order in which you are to take on the dragons, do you see? Now, I'm going to have to leave you in a moment, because I'm commentating. Mr. Diggory, you're first, just go out into the enclosure when you hear a whistle, all right? Now... Harry... could I have a quick word? Outside?”

“Er... yes,” said Harry blankly, and he got up and went out of the tent with Bagman, who walked him a short distance away, into the trees, and then turned to him with a fatherly expression on his face.

“Feeling all right, Harry? Anything I can get you?”

“What?” said Harry. “I—no, nothing.”

“Got a plan?” said Bagman, lowering his voice conspiratorially. “Because I don't mind sharing a few pointers, if you'd like them, you know. I mean,” Bagman continued, lowering his voice still further, “you're the underdog here, Harry... Anything I can do to help...”

“No,” said Harry so quickly he knew he had sounded rude, “no—I—I know what I'm going to do, thanks.”

“Nobody would know, Harry,” said Bagman, winking at him.

“No, I'm fine,” said Harry, wondering why he kept telling people this, and wondering whether he had ever been less fine. “I've got a plan worked out, I—”

A whistle had blown somewhere.

“Good lord, I've got to run!” said Bagman in alarm, and he hurried off.

Harry walked back to the tent and saw Cedric emerging from it, greener than ever. Harry tried to wish him luck as he walked past, but all that came out of his mouth was a sort of hoarse grunt.

Harry went back inside to Fleur and Krum. Seconds hater, they heard the roar of the crowd, which meant Cedric had entered the enclosure and was now face-to-face with the living counterpart of his model.

It was worse than Harry could ever have imagined, sitting there and listening. The crowd screamed... yelled... gasped like a single many-headed entity, as Cedric did whatever he was doing to get past the Swedish Short-Snout. Krum was still staring at the ground. Fleur had now taken to retracing Cedric's steps, around and around the tent. And Bagman's commentary made everything much, much worse... Horrible pictures formed in Harry's mind as he heard: “Oooh, narrow miss there, very narrow”... “He's taking risks, this one!”... “Clever move—pity it didn't work!”

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 138881 times

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