I love the Olympics. I eagerly await the next round and once it arrives, I become obsessed. Suddenly I’m an expert in sports I haven’t thought about since the last round and explaining to anyone who listens why a particular achievement in the Olympic is so incredible. I watch curling and rowing and spout off on the wonder of the Triple Chocolate Mudslide spin performed on the snowboard half pipe for the first time in history (fact: all names of snowboard trick sound like either desserts or cocktails). Basically, I would love the Triwizard Tournament and, once the champions were announced, would instantly become an expert on the various competitors and what type of challenges they’re likely to face.
And then I’d want the hold thing narrated by Bob Costas.
Related: I wonder if there are wizarding teenagers who treats sports competitions the way Muggles do? Like, is anyone just sitting under the bleachers talking about how much they don’t care about who wins, despite the fact they went through all the trouble to show up? There has to be. I refuse to believe anything else is possible.
So. The Tournament is coming.
CHAPTER 17: THE FOUR CHAMPIONS
Harry’s name has just come out of the Goblet of Fire, to the confusion and anger of everyone involved. He’s in with the other champions when the headmasters of the participating schools come in demanding answers. Naturally, everyone thinks Hogwarts in general and Harry in particular has cheated in order to get his name into the goblet and to have it selected as a fourth. This moment is played very strangely in the movie, with Dumbledore looking like he’s about to reenact scenes from Zero Dark Thirty as he grills Harry for answers. In reality, Dumbledore asks Harry if he put his name in, Harry insists he did not, and the rest of the headmasters take their anger at an injustice (and really, they have a point – it’s not fair at all what happens) out on Dumbledore and the Ministry. However, in the end there’s nothing to be done and Harry can’t compete. The students of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons can’t vote in a second champion each cause of reasons. Magic, you know how it is. Ludo Bagman suggests they retire for a drink because he’s useless.
The most important bit of this scene is Moody explaining the difficult magic in tricking the Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately, Hogwarts doesn’t allow Muggle technology so the BY THE WAY, THIS IS HOW I DID IT neon sign above his head remains unlit. Also unlit: the sign reading WHY DON’T I JUST HIT POTTER OVER THE HEAD WITH A BRICK AND CART HIM OFF TO THE DARK LORD, THAT WOULD BE MUCH EASIER sign. Too bad Malfoy can’t make any of that into a badge.
Harry returns to Gryffindor tower where his housemates celebrate what they see as his great achievement, even though Harry hates the whole thing, just wants to go to bed, and why can’t it ever be anyone else for a change? Worst of all, when Harry tells Ron that he didn’t put his own name in, Ron doesn’t believe him. Because it’s not bad enough your best friend thinks you’re attention hungry – he also has to think you’re a liar.
CHAPTER 18: THE WEIGHING OF THE WANDS
The next morning, Hermione has helpfully brought Harry a stack of toast and quill and parchment to write Sirius. Harry, because he grew up in a house making no noise no and pretending he’s not there, doesn’t think any of this is important enough to bother Sirius with. Weighed against the risk of Sirius coming back into the country, Harry would rather keep this news to himself because he’s 14 and he doesn’t see how serious (ahem) the situation is. So Harry basically sends Sirius the wizarding equivalent of a text message:
picked as triwzrd champ cedric is 1 too. how r u?
Over the next several days, things worsen for Harry. Malfoy has turned his badge-making skills to support the Cedric Diggory fanclub and the whole school is all aboard the good ship Harry Potter Is An Attention Whore. Captain: Ron Weasley. Things come to a head in (where else) Potions. Malfoy calls Hermione a Mudblood and he and Harry curse each other at the same time. The spells deflect and Malfoy’s hits Hermione, causing her already prominent front teeth to grow past her collar, which sounds terrifying. I would be panicking if that were me and I’m not even the daughter of dentists. Snape breaks it up and the commits an act of cruelty to a student for no reason whatsoever, which goes to show even if you do have the ability to love you can still be the actual worst. Snape tells Hermione he sees no difference despite the fact that her teeth are now so large, she’s in danger of being poached for ivory. Ron and Harry earn themselves detention when they tell the slimy git just where he can shove it.
Which is when Colin Creevey arrives to retrieve Harry to have his photo taken and then be interviewed by the Prophet. Now I got my degree in journalism so the fact that Rita Skeeter not only does what she does but gets away with it makes me incredibly angry, and it says a lot about Rowlings experiences with and feelings toward the press. Skeeter uses a Quick-Quotes Quill, which instead of recording quotes for her produces awful tabloid fiction. Harry, who has always disliked talking about himself, is a terrible interview and Skeeter fills in the blanks with pack of lies about his feelings, parents, and the tournament. Despite none of this happened and the Prophet should be operating under strict editorial scrutiny as a paper of record, allow this to be printed.
After the “interview” each champion has his or her wand weighed and checked to make sure it’s in functioning order. Ollivander has been brought to the school for each purpose and the narrative reminds us that Harry and Voldemort each have a wand with a core containing a feather from the same phoenix. Why, it’s almost as if this will be important later.
The only good thing to happen to Harry all day is a response from Sirius, making arrangements for a fireside char later in the month.
CHAPTER 19: THE HUNGARIAN HORNTAIL
Harry is so miserable about the student body teasing him that he snaps at Cho so it’s not surprising – even if it is a bit stubborn – that Harry decides to wear his invisibility cloak on the upcoming trip to Hogwarts. Harry doesn’t enjoy this much but during the trip Moody (whose magic eye can see past invisibility) tells Hagrid Harry is in The Three Broomsticks. Hagrid asks Harry to join him in the middle of the night while wearing the cloak. It’s proof of the trust between the two that Harry doesn’t immediately give Hagrid a Mad-Eye sized side eye for weird requests.
Hagrid has invited Madame Maxime out for a stroll and shows her and the invisible Harry the secret of the first task: Charlie Weasley has brought them a pack (flock? murder?) of dragons. The worst is a big black Hungarian Horntail with a fuckoff spiked tail. But the tournament is totally safer this year, not to worry. What? Why are you panicking? Come back!
Hagrid is too busy being smitten with Maxime to notice when Harry returns the castle and he just makes it in time ti speak to Sirius. Finally able to speak to an adult he trusts Harry unloads his problems onto Sirius, who listens and then advises Harry to watch out for Durmstrang’s headmster, Igor Karkaroff. Captured by Moody during the war, Karkaroff is a former Death Eater who simultaneously got himself out of Azkaban by spilling names to the Ministry and also off Voldemort’s Christmas card list. Sirius points out the recent Dark activity: the Quidditch World Cup, this mess with the Triwizard Tournament, Bertha Jorkins missing in Voldemort’s stomping grounds in Albania.
Unfortunately, before Sirius can explain how to defeat a dragon because of course this is something Sirius Black just knows, Harry hears someone approaching and sends Sirius off. The intruder is Ron, concerned Harry hasn’t come to bed yet. Harry loses his temper and snaps at him before storming up to the dormitory. Rowling gives us the wonderful realism of describing Ron as “standing there in his too-small pajamas” as Harry leaves him. The Triwizard Tournament approaches, his best friend isn’t speaking to him, there are dragons to consider, and Igor Karkaroff just might be trying to kill him. Harry lays in bed and does not sleep much.