[This post brought to you by parenthesis, too much cold medicine, and too little sleep.]
Like Ashley, I have a very vivid memory of reading Goblet of Fire, much clearer than my memories of reading the first three (barring that first, life-altering moment in the library break room, of course). I’d been visiting a friend in North Carolina when the book came out and I bought it on my way to the airport so I could read it on my return flight home. I didn’t want the plane ride to end, even though I was wedged between the window and the very large man seated next to me, so caught up was I in this book. It might be my favorite. But then again, my favorite Harry Potter book really seems to depend on what mood I’m in. Or whatever one I happen to be reading at the time. Anyway.
(BONUS FACT THAT NO ONE CARES ABOUT: My NC friend and I met on the internet, brought together by our overwhelming love of The X-Files. Somehow, two summer before, I’d convinced my parents to drive us all to North Carolina from Ohio, so my friend and I could see The X-Files movie together. We saw it four times on opening day. I KNOW.)
CHAPTER 8: THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP
You guys, I have a confession to make: I hate Quidditch. Or, to put it more accurately, I hate READING about Quidditch. Luckily, despite the title, this chapter deals with more than just Quidditch. I just said Quidditch a lot. QUIDDITCH QUIDDITCH QUIDDITCH. (Did you know saying it three times in a row makes Oliver Wood appear?)
The Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione all have seats in the Top Box. They meet Winky, a house elf belonging (gross) to Barty Crouch. It turns out she knows Dobby, but she’s ashamed of him because he wants to be paid for his work now. SPOILER ALERT: this will be important later.
Harry buys them all Omnioculars, magical (duh) thingies (technical name) that can slow down and speed up the events viewed through them. (Later, during the mascot display, Ron shoves a handful of leprechaun gold at Harry to pay him back, not realizing that, being leprechaun gold, it will disappear later. Poor Won-Won.)
There’s a tense moment as the Malfoys enter the box. It’s especially icky when you consider that the last time Lucius and Arthur met, Lucius gave Arthur’s daughter a book that would possess her with the spirit of Voldemort himself. FUCKED UP. Lucius, of course, makes a crack about how the Weasleys were able to afford so many tickets to the match. (Also, and I don’t want to know why, but my brain really wants to write Luscious instead of Lucius.)
The match begins with the aforementioned presentation of the mascots, which I find much more fascinating than the match itself (kind of like how I’m always much more into the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and then forget to watch most of the actual sporting events). The Bulgarian mascots are called veela, super sexy lady-beings who make Harry and Ron try to impress them by jumping out of the box.
The Irish mascots are a bunch of leprechauns, which seems a little on the nose but who cares because it’s great fun.
Blah blah Quidditch. We finally get a look at Viktor Krum, Bulgarian Seeker and future Hermy-own-ninny groupie. He’s described in the book as, “thin, dark, and sallow-skinned, with a large, curved nose and thick, black eyebrows,” and “like an overgrown bird of prey,” which makes me wonder what the casting directors were smoking when they cast this guy:
I always pictured Krum as looking a bit like a young Snape, which is interesting (DEBATABLE) when you consider Hermione shares a great many qualities with Lily, who was the apple of young Snape’s eye. I know it means absolutely nothing, I just felt like pointing it out and it’s my post so I can do whatever I want and no one can stop me! Mwaahaahahaa! Poop! Boogers! Butt butt butt!
(Apologies. NaNoWriMo has broken my brain.)
Anyway, what we can gather from this match is that Krum is a really excellent Seeker. Even though Bulgaria loses, he still gets the Snitch, which also means that Fred and George won their bet with Ludo Bagman. SPOILER ALERT: this will also be important later.
CHAPTER 9: THE DARK MARK
The group goes back to their tents, amid all the Irish celebrating, and go to bed at a reasonable hour instead of staying up late because Mrs. Weasley’s reach runs deep. However, they are woken up later by a panicked Mr. Weasley and a camp full of screaming people. They go outside to see a group of hooded, masked figures dangling a Muggle family in the air. YOU GUYS. THIS IS TERRIFYING.
There’s complete chaos as the of-age Weasleys run off to help the Ministry, and the twins, Ginny, and the trio head toward the woods. Ron, Hermione, and Harry get separated from the others because OF COURSE THEY DO. They run into Malfoy, who mocks them and calls Hermione a mudblood because OF COURSE HE DOES.
We get our first mention of Beauxbatons (FORESHADOWING!), as they run into a little girl speaking French, who says something about ‘Ogwarts and it’s the most adorable thing someone could say amidst a crowd of Death Eaters.
At some point, Harry realizes he dropped his wand somewhere because he’s actually Fox Mulder. The trio hears someone approaching them and this mysterious person shouts “MORSMORDRE,” which doesn’t sound like a very nice spell. A strange mark appears in the sky in the shape of a skull, with emerald eyes and a serpent coming out of its mouth. Something about it makes everyone freak the fuck out even more, except for the trio, who have no idea what it is. Just kidding, Hermione knows what it is. It’s the Dark Mark, Lord Voldemort’s sign. Hence freak out.
As soon as the Dark Mark appears, a bunch of Ministry wizards show up and try to stupefy the trio. Arthur stops them with a “THAT’S MY SON,” which is no, “Not my daughter, you bitch!” but it gets the job done.
After a moment of confusion, they all realize that kids couldn’t have summoned the Dark Mark but that they may have stunned the person who did. They find a stunned Winky and are totally mean to her because they’re all stupid jerks. Sure, it doesn’t look very good, she’s standing in the spot the mark was conjured, holding a stolen wand (Harry’s) that they discover did conjure the mark. Still. There’s no way, right?
Even so, Crouch fires her. Diggory doesn’t even refer to her by name, instead calling her “elf!” ELF! Hermione is rightly disgusting and sticks up for Winky, but to no avail.
[SIDEBAR: This seems to be as good a time as any to talk a bit about the house elf situation, yeah? Mr. Weasley makes a point to tell Hermione he agrees with her, but they don’t have time to worry about elf rights in the middle of all the mortal peril. But it’s no surprise that Hermione will soon be taking certain actions. Winky is treated terribly and the adult wizards seem to think nothing of it. Even Harry and Ron, later on, won’t exactly be sympathetic to their plight. To Ron, it’s just the way things are (not that that’s an excuse), but it always surprised me that Harry wasn’t more upset about how the house elves are treated, having been treated in a similar way by the Dursleys. And, you know, he was the one responsible for freeing Dobby from his deplorable conditions. But perhaps that was more about getting one up on the Malfoys, and the good deed done in the process was just a bonus.
In any case, I’m sure we’ll get into this more in upcoming chapters, so I’ll leave it at that so as not to step on anyone’s toes. /sidebar]
The Weasleys, all together again, make plans for their departure, and Mr. Weasley explains what the Dark Mark was and why people were so terrified.
“Ron, You-Know-Who and his followers sent the Dark Mark into the air whenever they killed,” said Mr. Weasley. “The terror it inspired … you have no idea, you’re too young. Just picture coming home and finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, and knowing what you’re about to find inside…” Mr. Weasley winced. “Everyone’s worst fear…the very worst.”
They head back to the tents to get a bit of sleep before catching an early portkey out of Death Eater City. Instead of sleeping, Harry worries. He’s finding it a bit troublesome that someone has summoned Voldemort’s sign just three days after his scar started hurting. Just hang tight, Harry, shit is about to get realer than the realest shit ever realed.