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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (page 9)


“Ah—right—certainly—” said Mr. Weasley. He retreated a short distance from the cottage and beckoned Harry toward him. “Help me, Harry,” he muttered, pulling a roll of Muggle money from his pocket and starting to peel the notes apart. “This one's a—a—a ten? Ah yes, I see the little number on it now... So this is a five?”

“A twenty,” Harry corrected him in an undertone, uncomfortably aware of Mr. Roberts trying to catch every word.

“Ah yes, so it is... I don't know, these little bits of paper...”

“You foreign?” said Mr. Roberts as Mr. Weasley returned with the correct notes.

“Foreign?” repeated Mr. Weasley, puzzled.

“You're not the first one who's had trouble with money,” said Mr. Roberts, scrutinizing Mr. Weasley closely. “I had two try and pay me with great gold coins the size of hubcaps ten minutes ago.”

“Did you really?” said Mr. Weasley nervously.

Mr. Roberts rummaged around in a tin for some change.

“Never been this crowded,” he said suddenly, looking out over the misty field again. “Hundreds of pre-bookings. People usually just turn up...”

“Is that right?” said Mr. Weasley, his hand held out for his change, but Mr. Roberts didn't give it to him.

“Aye,” he said thoughtfully. “People from all over. Loads of foreigners. And not just foreigners. Weirdos, you know? There's a bloke walking 'round in a kilt and a poncho.”

“Shouldn't he?” said Mr. Weasley anxiously

“It's like some sort of... I dunno ...like some sort of rally,” said Mr. Roberts. “They all seem to know each other. Like a big party.”

At that moment, a wizard in plus-fours appeared out of thin air next to Mr. Roberts's front door.

“Obliviate!” he said sharply, pointing his wand at Mr. Roberts.

Instantly, Mr. Roberts's eyes slid out of focus, his brows unknitted, and a took of dreamy unconcern fell over his face. Harry recognized the symptoms of one who had just had his memory modified.

“A map of the campsite for you,” Mr. Roberts said placidly to Mr. Weasley. “And your change.”

“Thanks very much,” said Mr. Weasley.

The wizard in plus-fours accompanied them toward the gate to the campsite. He looked exhausted: His chin was blue with stubble and there were deep purple shadows under his eyes. Once out of earshot of Mr. Roberts, he muttered to Mr. Weasley, “Been having a lot of trouble with him. Needs a Memory Charm ten times a day to keep him happy. And Ludo Bagman's not helping. Trotting around talking about Bludgers and Quaffles at the top of his voice, not a worry about anti-Muggle security Blimey, I'll be glad when this is over. See you later, Arthur.”

He Disapparated.

“I thought Mr. Bagman was Head of Magical Games and Sports,” said Ginny, looking surprised. “He should know better than to talk about Bludgers near Muggles, shouldn't he?”

“He should,” said Mr. Weasley, smiling, and leading them through the gates into the campsite, “but Ludo's always been a bit ...well... lax about security. You couldn't wish for a more enthusiastic head of the sports department though. He played Quidditch for England himself, you know. And he was the best Beater the Wimbourne Wasps ever had.”

They trudged up the misty field between long rows of tents. Most looked almost ordinary; their owners had clearly tried to make them as Muggle-like as possible, but had slipped up by adding chimneys, or bellpulls, or weather vanes. However, here and there was a tent so obviously magical that Harry could hardly be surprised that Mr. Roberts was getting suspicious. Halfway up the field stood an extravagant confection of striped silk like a miniature palace, with several live peacocks tethered at the entrance. A little farther on they passed a tent that had three floors and several turrets; and a short way beyond that was a tent that had a front garden attached, complete with birdbath, sundial, and fountain.

“Always the same,” said Mr. Weasley, smiling. “We can't resist showing off when we get together. Ah, here we are, look, this is us.”

They had reached the very edge of the wood at the top of the field, and here was an empty space, with a small sign hammered into the ground that read WEEZLY.

“Couldn't have a better spot!” said Mr. Weasley happily. “The field is just on the other side of the wood there, we're as close as we could be.” He hoisted his backpack from his shoulders. “Right,” he said excitedly, “no magic allowed, strictly speaking, not when we're out in these numbers on Muggle land. We'll be putting these tents up by hand! Shouldn't be too difficult... Muggles do it all the time... Here, Harry, where do you reckon we should start?”

Harry had never been camping in his life; the Dursleys had never taken him on any kind of holiday, preferring to leave him with Mrs. Figg, an old neighbor. However, he and Hermione worked out where most of the poles and pegs should go, and though Mr. Weasley was more of a hindrance than a help, because he got thoroughly overexcited when it came to using the mallet, they finally managed to erect a pair of shabby two-man tents.

All of them stood back to admire their handiwork. Nobody looking at these tents would guess they belonged to wizards, Harry thought, but the trouble was that once Bill, Charlie, and Percy arrived, they would be a party of ten. Hermione seemed to have spotted this problem too; she gave Harry a quizzical look as Mr. Weasley dropped to his hands and knees and entered the first tent.

“We'll be a bit cramped,” he called, “but I think we'll all squeeze in. Come and have a look.”

Harry bent down, ducked under the tent flap, and felt his jaw drop. He had walked into what looked like an old-fashioned, three room flat, complete with bathroom and kitchen. Oddly enough, it was furnished in exactly the same sort of style as Mrs. Figg's house: There were crocheted covers on the mismatched chairs and a strong smell of cats.

“Well, it's not for long,” said Mr. Weasley, mopping his bald patch with a handkerchief and peering in at the four bunk beds that stood in the bedroom. I borrowed this from Perkins at the office. Doesn't camp much anymore, poor fellow, he's got lumbago.”

He picked up the dusty kettle and peered inside it. “We'll need water...

“There's a tap marked on this map the Muggle gave us,” said Ron, who had followed Harry inside the tent and seemed completely unimpressed by its extraordinary inner proportions. “It's on the other side of the field.”

“Well, why don't you, Harry, and Hermione go and get us some water then”—Mr. Weasley handed over the kettle and a couple of saucepans—”and the rest of us will get some wood for a fire?”

“But we've got an oven,” said Ron. “Why can't we just—”

“Ron, anti-Muggle security!” said Mr. Weasley, his face shining with anticipation. “When real Muggles camp, they cook on fires outdoors. I've seen them at it!”

After a quick tour of the girls' tent, which was slightly smaller than the boys', though without the smell of cats, Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off across the campsite with the kettle and saucepans.

Now, with the sun newly risen and the mist lifting, they could see the city of tents that stretched in every direction. They made their way slowly through the rows, staring eagerly around. It was only just dawning on Harry how many witches and wizards there must be in the world; he had never really thought much about those in other countries.

Their fellow campers were starting to wake up. First to stir were the families with small children; Harry had never seen witches and wizards this young before. A tiny boy no older than two was crouched outside a large pyramid-shaped tent, holding a wand and poking happily at a slug in the grass, which was swelling slowly to the size of a salami. As they drew level with him, his mother came hurrying out of the tent.

“How many times, Kevin? You don't—touch—Daddy's—wand—yecchh! “

She had trodden on the giant slug, which burst. Her scolding carried after them on the still air, mingling with the little boy's yells—”You bust slug! You bust slug!”

A short way farther on, they saw two little witches, barely older than Kevin, who were riding toy broomsticks that rose only high enough for the girls' toes to skim the dewy grass. A Ministry wizard had already spotted them; as he hurried past Harry, Ron, and Hermione he muttered distractedly, “In broad daylight! Parents having a lie-in, I suppose—”

Here and there adult wizards and witches were emerging from their tents and starting to cook breakfast. Some, with furtive looks around them, conjured fires with their wands; others were striking matches with dubious looks on their faces, as though sure this couldn't work. Three African wizards sat in serious conversation, all of them wearing long white robes and roasting what looked like a rabbit on a bright purple fire, while a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a spangled banner stretched between their tents that read: THE SALEM WITCHES' INSTITUTE. Harry caught snatches of conversation in strange languages from the inside of tents they passed, and though he couldn't understand a word, the tone of every single voice was excited.

“Er—is it my eyes, or has everything gone green?” said Ron.

It wasn't just Ron's eyes. They had walked into a patch of tents that were all covered with a thick growth of shamrocks, so that it looked as though small, oddly shaped hillocks had sprouted out of the earth. Grinning faces could be seen under those that had their flaps open. Then, from behind them, they heard their names.

“Harry! Ron! Hermione!”

It was Seamus Finnigan, their fellow Gryffindor fourth year. He was sitting in front of his own shamrock-covered tent, with a sandy-haired woman who had to be his mother, and his best friend, Dean Thomas, also of Gryffindor.

“Like the decorations?” said Seamus, grinning. “The Ministry's not too happy.”

“Ah, why shouldn't we show our colors?” said Mrs. Finnigan. “You should see what the Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents. You'll be supporting Ireland, of course?” she added, eyeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione beadily. When they had assured her that they were indeed supporting Ireland, they set off again, though, as Ron said, “Like we'd say anything else surrounded by that lot.” I wonder what the Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents?” said Hermione.

“Let's go and have a look,” said Harry, pointing to a large patch of tents upfield, where the Bulgarian flag—white, green, and red—was fluttering in the breeze.

The tents here had not been bedecked with plant life, but each and every one of them had the same poster attached to it, a poster of a very surly face with heavy black eyebrows. The picture was, of course, moving, but all it did was blink and scowl.

“Krum,” said Ron quietly.

“What?” said Hermione.

“Krum!” said Ron. “Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker!”

“He looks really grumpy,” said Hermione, looking around at the many Krums blinking and scowling at them.

“'Really grumpy?” Ron raised his eyes to the heavens. “Who cares what he looks like? He's unbelievable. He's really young too. Only just eighteen or something. He's a genius, you wait until tonight, you'll see.”

There was already a small queue for the tap in the corner of the field. Harry, Ron, and Hermione joined it, right behind a pair of men who were having a heated argument. One of them was a very old wizard who was wearing a long flowery nightgown. The other was clearly a Ministry wizard; he was holding out a pair of pinstriped trousers and almost crying with exasperation.

“Just put them on, Archie, there's a good chap. You can't walk around like that, the Muggle at the gate's already getting suspicious—

I bought this in a Muggle shop,” said the old wizard stubbornly. “Muggles wear them.”

“Muggle women wear them, Archie, not the men, they wear these,” said the Ministry wizard, and he brandished the pinstriped trousers.

“I'm not putting them on,” said old Archie in indignation. “I like a healthy breeze 'round my privates, thanks.”

Hermione was overcome with such a strong fit of the giggles at this point that she had to duck out of the queue and only returned when Archie had collected his water and moved away.

Walking more slowly now, because of the weight of the water, they made their way back through the campsite. Here and there, they saw more familiar faces: other Hogwarts students with their families. Oliver Wood, the old captain of Harry's House Quidditch team, who had just left Hogwarts, dragged Harry over to his parents' tent to introduce him, and told him excitedly that he had just been signed to the Puddlemere United reserve team. Next they were hailed by Ernie Macmillan, a Hufflepuff fourth year, and a little farther on they saw Cho Chang, a very pretty girl who played Seeker on the Ravenclaw team. She waved and smiled at Harry, who slopped quite a lot of water down his front as he waved back. More to stop Ron from smirking than anything, Harry hurriedly pointed out a large group of teenagers whom he had never seen before.

“Who d'you reckon they are?” he said. “They don't go to Hogwarts, do they?”

“'Spect they go to some foreign school,” said Ron. “I know there are others. Never met anyone who went to one, though. Bill had a penfriend at a school in Brazil ...this was years and years ago ...and he wanted to go on an exchange trip but Mum and Dad couldn't afford it. His penfriend got all offended when he said he wasn't going and sent him a cursed hat. It made his ears shrivel up.”

Harry laughed but didn't voice the amazement he felt at hearing about other wizarding schools. He supposed, now that he saw representatives of so many nationalities in the campsite, that he had been stupid never to realize that Hogwarts couldn't be the only one. He glanced at Hermione, who looked utterly unsurprised by the information. No doubt she had run across the news about other wizarding schools in some book or other.

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