There’s a lot to cover in these chapters, so let’s get down to business.*
*If you did not follow that up with “…to defeat! the huns!” then maybe you should go re-think your life choices.
CHAPTER TWELVE: THE TRIWIZARD TOURNAMENT
The soggy-bottomed boys and girls of Hogwarts show up to the front door, only to be assaulted by water balloons thrown by a vindictive Peeves. Getting wet when you’re already wet does not sound like a terrible thing, but in actuality it’s really awful. (Speaking of, here’s a video of a kitten discovering water balloons. It’s less than a minute long. Go ahead. Watch it. I’ll wait.)
Harry, Ron, and Hermione find their place with the rest of the Gryffindors. The readers get their usual recap of how things go down at Hogwarts. Why don’t we get more info about Professor Sinistra? She sounds super cool. The first years get sorted along with a new sorting song. (Hey! You know what’s cool? I was assigned all of the sorting hat chapters in the series. Neat.) I’m partial to the song from the first book only because it’s so darn catchy. This song gives us a little bit of insight into the house founders themselves. The founders are described as bold, fair, sweet, and shrewd, which sounds vaguely like a new sandwich at Subway. We also learn that Gryffindor was the one who enchanted the sorting hat. This makes it even more meaningful that Harry pulled Gryffindor’s sword out of Gryffindor’s own hat.
Cho Chang is over at the Ravenclaw table and Harry’s brain flips out when he sees her. Ah, to be a young wizard dealing with the raging surge of hormones! (Okay, seriously, I love how this book handles crushes. It’s just darling. When I was fourteen, I was majorly in love with this boy who was a grade older than me. He had dressed up like a Jedi for Halloween and he was HOT. These two things alone meant that we were destined to be together. We had two very painfully short conversations and I don’t think he knew my name. Shockingly, it did not work out.) Gryffindor gets Dennis Creevey and Natalie McDonald. Finally, finally, Dumbledore gives the okay for dinner.
Nearly Headless Nick is around because the characters need info about the castle that they didn’t previously know. This time, it’s that house-elves do all of the hard work and labor at Hogwarts. What, Hermione thought it just happened by magic? (*snort*) Her outrage at this injustice makes her push her plate away. She even resists Ron’s attempts to get her to eat dessert.
Dumbledore gives his usual beginning of semester pep talk / warnings. (“The first rule of dueling club is you do NOT talk about dueling club.”) Except this semester there’s a twist! No quidditch tournament, so it’s a good thing that we got our quidditch quota in for this book. And then right as Dumbledore’s about to make his big announcement, Mad-Eye Moody limps through the doors. What do you want to bet that he was waiting until the exact moment of the announcement to make his entrance? We get, like, a full two pages of Moody just walking into the Great Hall, so you can’t say that the guy doesn’t know how to be fashionably late. His introduction ends with the charming detail that his carved wooden leg ends in a clawed foot.
Dumbledore continues right where he left off and tells us that they are bringing back the Triwizard Tournament. Whaaaaat? The three largest wizarding schools in Europe compete for fame and glory and a thousand galleons. You’ve gotta be seventeen to compete, though. There used to be a death toll, but let’s not talk about that, shall we? (That’s the viewpoint that everyone seems to be taking.) Nobody can talk about anything else, except for Hermione, who’s still all bent out of shape from the house-elf situation.
-With a name like Malcolm Baddock, he HAD to know he was going into Slytherin. His name literally means “Bad Bad.”
-While we’re on the topic of names, this book has a few deliberate places where the pronunciation of Hermione’s name is clarified. Ron calls her “‘Er-my-knee” through a mouthful of Yorkshire pudding.
-50 points for the person to come up with the punchline to Dumbledore’s troll, hag, and leprechaun joke.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: MAD-EYE MOODY
The Triwizard Tournament is still very much on everyone’s minds, but classes must go on as usual. The boys complain about divination and Hermione points out that they should’ve given it up for something useful. She’s completely right–they should have. Think of the adventures that they could’ve had in Astronomy together with Prof. Sinistra! But that wouldn’t have worked out plot-wise, so that’s a no-go. Plus, I’m a sucker for the parts when they make up all of the terrible things that will happen to them for their homework.
This chapter has one of my favorite exchanges in the whole book.
“You’re eating again, I notice,” said Ron, watching Hermione adding liberal amounts of jam to her toast too.
“I’ve decided there are better ways of making a stand about elf rights,” said Hermione haughtily.
“Yeah…and you were hungry,” said Ron, grinning.
No particular reason why I love it so much. I guess it just makes me happy.
The first class of the semester has the kids squeezing bubotubers for pus. Gross, but apparently effective in curing acne. The next class in Care of Magical Creatures. I’m pleased to say that Hagrid has perked up from the Flobberworms Incident of ’93 to ‘94. He’s now introducing his students to Blast-Ended Skrewts! Some of them sting and some of them suck and it’s all around a pretty legit class.
Ron and Harry make their way to Divination without Hermione, who is visiting–all together now–the library. Harry worries a tad about the prediction that she gave at the end of last year, but promptly puts the thought aside when Professor Trelawney manages to get Harry’s birth month all wrong. (“I think I am right in saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?” “No,” said Harry, “I was born in July.”) Ron gets in another classic line.
“Oh Professor, look! I think I’ve got an unaspected planet! Oooh, which one’s that, Professor?”
“It is Uranus, my dear,” said Professor Trelawney, peering down at the chart.
“Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?” said Ron.
Ronald Bilius Weasley! What would your mother say?
The Daily Prophet makes an appearance, this time mixing up Arthur Weasley’s name and making the Ministry of Magic seem a wee bit crazy. Rita Skeeter gets her name dropped again, which I’m sure she’d be thrilled about, and the repercussions of incompetent journalism are beginning to be felt. Malfoy’s jab about Ron’s father escalates into an all-out yo momma battle. Harry turns his back and feels a curse barely miss his head, courtesy of Draco Malfoy. Luckily, Professor Moody shows up to FREAKING TURN MALFOY INTO A FERRET.
Professor Mad-Eye Moody’s 8-Step Process for Getting Students to Trust You
1. Be in the right place at the right time.
2. Transfigure the attacker into a ferret.
3. Bounce said attacker up and down.
4. Rail on the attacker verbally while doing so.
5. Ignore authority to make yourself seem even cooler.
6. Seem totally not afraid of Severus Snape.
His plan is hilarious and clever, not to mention that it’s got a certain amount of panache. Ron and Harry are in awe and they don’t even have their first class with him until Thursday.
-My personal favorite HP yo momma joke is, “Yo momma is so fat, her patronus is a cake.”
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE UNFORGIVABLE CURSES
Thursday is here, so it’s time for their first DADA class. Harry, Ron, and a be-libraried Hermione get a front row seat to the action. They better hold onto their, uh, desks, ‘cause it’s about to get all unforgivable up in here. What up! (Why am I writing like this? Because it is late and I should have finished this earlier. Whatevs.) Moody tells them to put their books away and this class has already entered Ron’s top three classes ever. Moody compliments Lupin on last year’s classes and that warms my robot heart.
Professor Moody continues to flatter the students by telling them how he shouldn’t show them what he’s about to show them, but he thinks they can handle it, and man, human beings are a sucker for that ploy. Also, his eye can see through stuff. I mean, this guy just does whatever he wants. We don’t know what house he was in, but I’m guessing Moody was from the honey badger strain of Hufflepuff.
The three unforgivable curses are the Imperius Curse, the Cruciatus Curse, and the Killing Curse. The first takes away your agency. The second adds unbearable pain. The third takes away your life. Once, they were all very popular. Ron knows about them from hearing about them his whole life, Hermione knows about them from books, and Neville knows about them from real-life experience. This goes to show that there are different kinds of knowledge. Harry’s had some real-life practice, too, being the only person to survive Avada Kedavra. Moody demonstrates on spiders, much to Ron’s chagrin. Moody insists that they need to know these things to be prepared for life. Knowing about the curses is a game-changer, for both the reader and the students. Now we know what they’re up against and now they do, too.
Neville has the hardest time of all and Moody takes him under his wing for a nice cuppa. Post-dinner, Harry and Ron pull their divination homework out of their butts (“the old Divination standby”), when Hermione shows up with DIY badges and a plan. She’s organized a group for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare–that’s S.P.E.W. to you. I mean, what were Ron and Harry going to do, say no?
Harry gets his reply from Sirius. His godfather is on his way back to the area because “Dumbledore is reading the signs.” Yikes. Thanks to being the sole proprietor of the World’s Largest Guilt Complex, Harry feels personally responsible for putting Sirius in danger. He takes his annoyance out on Hedwig and she retaliates by cuffing him on the head with her wing. Gosh, I love that bird.
-Neville melts his sixth cauldron in Potions, which I bet you-know-who would have something to say about. (Percy. Not Voldemort.)
-I NEVER KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT MAD-EYE MOODY. Obviously I know what he really is and I know that he’s horrendous, but I can’t help but love him in spite of that. He is like the literary equivalent of a stereotypical bad boy. Gah.
-“I was going to put Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status–but it wouldn’t fit. So that’s the heading of our manifesto.” Atta girl.