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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 41)


Harry noticed her eyes travel over Dean (who had a nasty cut across one cheek). Lavender (whose robes were badly singed), Seamus (who was nursing several burnt fingers), and then to the cabin windows, where most of the class stood, their noses pressed against the glass waiting to see if the coast was clear.

“This is o'ny me second year,” said Hagrid.

“Lovely... I don't suppose you'd like to give an interview, would you? Share some of your experience of magical creatures? The Prophet does a zoological column every Wednesday, as I'm sure you know. We could feature these—er—Bang-Ended Scoots.”

“Blast-Ended Skrewts,” Hagrid said eagerly. “Er—yeah, why not?”

Harry had a very bad feeling about this, but there was no way of communicating it to Hagrid without Rita Skeeter seeing, so he had to stand and watch in silence as Hagrid and Rita Skeeter made arrangements to meet in the Three Broomsticks for a good long interview later that week. Then the bell rang up at the castle, signaling the end of the lesson.

“Well, good-bye, Harry!” Rita Skeeter called merrily to him as he set off with Ron and Hermione. “Until Friday night, then, Hagrid!”

“She'll twist everything he says,” Harry said under his breath.

“Just as long as he didn't import those skrewts illegally or anything,” said Hermione desperately. They looked at one another—it was exactly the sort of thing Hagrid might do.

“Hagrids been in loads of trouble before, and Dumbledores never sacked him,” said Ron consolingly. “Worst that can happen is Hagrid'll have to get rid of the skrewts. Sorry... did I say worst? I meant best.”

Harry and Hermione laughed, and, feeling slightly more cheerful, went off to lunch.

Harry thoroughly enjoyed double Divination that afternoon; they were still doing star charts and predictions, but now that he and Ron were friends once more, the whole thing seemed very funny again. Professor Trelawney, who had been so pleased with the pair of them when they had been predicting their own horrific deaths, quickly became irritated as they sniggered through her explanation of the various ways in which Pluto could disrupt everyday life.

“I would think,” she said, in a mystical whisper that did not conceal her obvious annoyance, “that some of us”—she stared very meaningfully at Harry“might be a little less frivolous had they seen what I have seen during my crystal gazing last night. As I sat here, absorbed in my needlework, the urge to consult the orb overpowered me. I arose, I settled myself before it, and I gazed into its crystalline depths... and what do you think I saw gazing back at me?”

“An ugly old bat in outsize specs?” Ron muttered under his breath.

Harry fought hard to keep his face straight.

“Death, my dears.”

Parvati and Lavender both put their hands over their mouths, looking horrified.

“Yes,” said Professor Trelawney, nodding impressively, “it comes, ever closer, it circles overhead like a vulture, ever lower... ever lower over the castle...”

She stared pointedly at Harry, who yawned very widely and obviously.

“It'd be a bit more impressive if she hadn't done it about eighty times before,” Harry said as they finally regained the fresh air of the staircase beneath Professor Trelawney's room. “But if I'd dropped dead every time she's told me I'm going to, I'd be a medical miracle.”

“You'd be a sort of extra-concentrated ghost,” said Ron, chortling, as they passed the Bloody Baron going in the opposite direction, his wide eyes staring sinisterly. “At least we didn't get homework. I hope Hermione got loads off Professor Vector, I love not working when she is...”

But Hermione wasn't at dinner, nor was she in the library when they went to look for her afterward. The only person in there was Viktor Krum. Ron hovered behind the bookshelves for a while, watching Krum, debating in whispers with Harry whether he should ask for an autograph—but then Ron realized that six or seven girls were lurking in the next row of books, debating exactly the same thing, and he lost his enthusiasm for the idea.

“Wonder where she's got to?” Ron said as he and Harry went back to Gryffindor Tower.

“Dunno... balderdash.”

But the Fat Lady had barely begun to swing forward when the sound of racing feet behind them announced Hermione's arrival.

“Harry!” she panted, skidding to a halt beside him (the Fat Lady stared down at her, eyebrows raised). “Harry, you've got to come—you've got to come, the most amazing thing's happenedplease—”

She seized Harry's arm and started to try to drag him back along the corridor.

“What's the matter?” Harry said.

“I'll show you when we get there—oh come on, quick—”

Harry looked around at Ron; he looked back at Harry, intrigued.

“Okay,” Harry said, starting off back down the corridor with Hermione, Ron hurrying to keep up.

“Oh don't mind me!” the Fat Lady called irritably after them. “Don't apologize for bothering me! I'll just hang here, wide open, until you get back, shall I?”

“Yeah, thanks!” Ron shouted over his shoulder.

“Hermione, where are we going?” Harry asked, after she had led

them down through six floors, and started down the marble staircase into the entrance hall.

“You'll see, you'll see in a minute!” said Hermione excitedly.

She turned left at the bottom of the staircase and hurried toward the door through which Cedric Diggory had gone the night after the Goblet of Fire had regurgitated his and Harry's names. Harry had never been through here before. He and Ron followed Hermione down a flight of stone steps, but instead of ending up in a gloomy underground passage like the one that led to Snape's dungeon, they found themselves in a broad stone corridor, brightly lit with torches, and decorated with cheerful paintings that were mainly of food.

“Oh hang on...” said Harry slowly, halfway down the corridor. “Wait a minute, Hermione...”

“What?” She turned around to look at him, anticipation all over her face.

“I know what this is about,” said Harry.

He nudged Ron and pointed to the painting just behind Hermione. It showed a gigantic silver fruit bowl.

“Hermione!” said Ron, cottoning on. “You're trying to rope us into that spew stuff again!”

“No, no, I'm not!” she said hastily. “And it's not spew, Ron—”

“Changed the name, have you?” said Ron, frowning at her. “What are we now, then, the House-Elf Liberation Front? I'm not barging into that kitchen and trying to make them stop work, I'm not doing it—”

“I'm not asking you to!” Hermione said impatiently. “I came down here just now, to talk to them all, and I found—oh come on, Harry, I want to show you!”

She seized his arm again, pulled him in front of the picture of the giant fruit bowl, stretched out her forefinger, and tickled the huge green pear. It began to squirm, chuckling, and suddenly turned into a large green door handle. Hermione seized it, pulled the door open, and pushed Harry hard in the back, forcing him inside.

He had one brief glimpse of an enormous, high-ceilinged room, large as the Great Hall above it, with mounds of glittering brass pots and pans heaped around the stone walls, and a great brick fireplace at the other end, when something small hurtled toward him from the middle of the room, squealing, “Harry Potter, sir! Harry Potter!”

Next second all the wind had been knocked out of him as the squealing elf hit him hard in the midriff, hugging him so tightly he thought his ribs would break.

“D-Dobby?” Harry gasped.

“It is Dobby, sir, it is!” squealed the voice from somewhere around his navel. “Dobby has been hoping and hoping to see Harry Potter, sir, and Harry Potter has come to see him, sir!”

Dobby let go and stepped back a few paces, beaming up at Harry, his enormous, green, tennis-ball-shaped eyes brimming with tears of happiness. He looked almost exactly as Harry remembered him; the pencil-shaped nose, the batlike ears, the long fingers and feet—all except the clothes, which were very different.

When Dobby had worked for the Malfoys, he had always worn the same filthy old pillowcase. Now, however, he was wearing the strangest assortment of garments Harry had ever seen; he had done an even worse job of dressing himself than the wizards at the World Cup. He was wearing a tea cozy for a hat, on which he had pinned a number of bright badges; a tie patterned with horseshoes over a bare chest, a pair of what looked like children's soccer shorts, and odd socks. One of these, Harry saw, was the black one Harry had removed from his own foot and tricked Mr. Malfoy into giving Dobby, thereby setting Dobby free. The other was covered in pink and orange stripes.

“Dobby, what're you doing here?” Harry said in amazement. “Dobby has come to work at Hogwarts, sir!” Dobby squealed excitedly. “Professor Dumbledore gave Dobby and Winky jobs, sir!

“Winky?” said Harry. “She's here too?”

“Yes, sir, yes!” said Dobby, and he seized Harry's hand and pulled him off into the kitchen between the four long wooden tables that stood there. Each of these tables, Harry noticed as he passed them, was positioned exactly beneath the four House tables above, in the Great Hall. At the moment, they were clear of food, dinner having finished, but he supposed that an hour ago they had been laden with dishes that were then sent up through the ceiling to their counterparts above.

At least a hundred little elves were standing around the kitchen, beaming, bowing, and curtsying as Dobby led Harry past them. They were all wearing the same uniform: a tea towel stamped with the Hogwarts crest, and tied, as Winky's had been, like a toga.

Dobby stopped in front of the brick fireplace and pointed.

“Winky, sir!” he said.

Winky was sitting on a stool by the fire. Unlike Dobby, she had obviously not foraged for clothes. She was wearing a neat little skirt and blouse with a matching blue hat, which had holes in it for her large ears. However, while every one of Dobby's strange collection of garments was so clean and well cared for that it looked brand-new, Winky was plainly not taking care other clothes at all. There were soup stains all down her blouse and a burn in her skirt.

“Hello, Winky,” said Harry.

Winky's lip quivered. Then she burst into tears, which spilled out of her great brown eyes and splashed down her front, just as they had done at the Quidditch World Cup.

“Oh dear,” said Hermione. She and Ron had followed Harry and Dobby to the end of the kitchen. “Winky, don't cry, please don't...”

But Winky cried harder than ever. Dobby, on the other hand, beamed up at Harry.

“Would Harry Potter like a cup of tea?” he squeaked loudly, over Winky's sobs.

“Er—yeah, okay,” said Harry.

Instantly, about six house-elves came trotting up behind him, bearing a large silver tray laden with a teapot, cups for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a milk jug, and a large plate of biscuits.

“Good service!” Ron said, in an impressed voice. Hermione frowned at him, but the elves all looked delighted; they bowed very low and retreated.

“How long have you been here, Dobby?” Harry asked as Dobby handed around the tea.

“Only a week. Harry Potter, sir!” said Dobby happily. “Dobby came to see Professor Dumbledore, sir. You see, sir, it is very difficult for a house-elf who has been dismissed to get a new position, sir, very difficult indeed—”

At this, Winky howled even harder, her squashed-tomato of a nose dribbling all down her front, though she made no effort to stem the flow.

“Dobby has traveled the country for two whole years, sir, trying to find work!” Dobby squeaked. “But Dobby hasn't found work, sir, because Dobby wants paying now!”

The house-elves all around the kitchen, who had been listening and watching with interest, all looked away at these words, as though Dobby had said something rude and embarrassing. Hermione, however, said, “Good for you, Dobby!”

“Thank you, miss!” said Dobby, grinning toothily at her. “But most wizards doesn't want a house-elf who wants paying, miss. 'That's not the point of a house-elf,' they says, and they slammed the door in Dobby's face! Dobby likes work, but he wants to wear clothes and he wants to be paid. Harry Potter... Dobby likes being free!”

The Hogwarts house-elves had now started edging away from Dobby, as though he were carrying something contagious. Winky, however, remained where she was, though there was a definite increase in the volume other crying.

“And then, Harry Potter, Dobby goes to visit Winky, and finds out Winky has been freed too, sir!” said Dobby delightedly.

At this, Winky flung herself forward off her stool and lay face-down on the flagged stone floor, beating her tiny fists upon it and positively screaming with misery. Hermione hastily dropped down to her knees beside her and tried to comfort her, but nothing she said made the slightest difference. Dobby continued with his story, shouting shrilly over Winky's screeches.

“And then Dobby had the idea. Harry Potter, sir! 'Why doesn't Dobby and Winky find work together?' Dobby says. 'Where is there enough work for two house-elves?' says Winky. And Dobby thinks, and it comes to him, sir! Hogwarts! So Dobby and Winky came to see Professor Dumbledore, sir, and Professor Dumbledore took us on!”

Dobby beamed very brightly, and happy tears welled in his eyes again.

“And Professor Dumbledore says he will pay Dobby, sir, if Dobby wants paying! And so Dobby is a free elf, sir, and Dobby gets a Galleon a week and one day off a month!”

“That's not very much!” Hermione shouted indignantly from the floor, over Winky's continued screaming and fist-beating.

“Professor Dumbledore offered Dobby ten Galleons a week, and weekends off,” said Dobby, suddenly giving a little shiver, as though the prospect of so much leisure and riches were frightening, “but Dobby beat him down, miss... Dobby likes freedom, miss, but he isn't wanting too much, miss, he likes work better.”

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 138866 times

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