The Harry Potter Reread

The Harry Potter Reread: The Goblet of Fire, Chapters 24 and 25

The Harry Potter Reread is looking forward to rocking a casbah of some sort. If only someone would invite it to rock a casbah.

This week we’re getting another dose of horrible reporting and taking an awesome bath. We’re on Chapters 24 and 25 of The Goblet of Fire—Rita Skeeter’s Scoop and The Egg and the Eye.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

 

Chapter 24—Rita Skeeter’s Scoop

Summary

Everyone is up late the next day and exhausted. Hermione’s hair is back to normal; she tells Harry that she used a special hair potion on it, but it would be too much trouble to do it every day. Ron and Hermione are being incredibly civil to each other following their argument. Ron doesn’t even argue with her when he tells her what they found out about Hagrid and she claims that giants couldn’t be as bad as the wizarding world makes them seem.

Harry is trying to work out the golden egg clue, but he’s determined not to use Cedric hint because he’s feeling unfavorable toward him now that he’s dating Cho. The second term starts up, and when they make their way to Care of Magical Creatures, the trio are shocked to find a new teacher—Professor Grubbly-Plank, who give them a lesson in unicorns. She is taking over because Hagrid is unable to teach, and they soon find out why; Rita Skeeter has written an article on him.

The article claims that Hagrid terrifies the students, and talks about his Blast Ended-Skrewts (as their creation is not being monitored by the Ministry as it normally would be). Draco gave a quote to the article detailing his hippogriff injury from the previous year. The article also reveals Hagrid’s half-giant heritage and insists that this is responsible for his brutal nature. Draco is hoping that the article will prevent Hagrid from being able to teach ever again—and it doesn’t help that all the students seem to like Professor Grubbly-Plank’s class much better. Parvati has no problem saying so, and doesn’t care much what Harry thinks of it after how he treated her at the ball.

It doesn’t make sense to the trio that Skeeter would have heard Hagrid’s admission about being half-giant, and they try to think of ways she might have snuck onto the school grounds; Harry wonders about an Invisibility Cloak. He insists they go visit Hagrid and tell him they want him back and professor. But he won’t see them, or anyone for that matter.

A Hogsmeade trip comes up and Hermione is surprised Harry is going since she’d figured he’d want to work on the egg—he lies and tells her he’s got it mostly figured so he can search Hogsmeade for Hagrid. As they’re leaving for the trip, Krum dives into the freezing lake in naught but his swim trunks. Ron makes it sound like he hopes Krum drowns, and Hermione tries to suggest that he’s not that bad. (She doesn’t know that Ron has snapped his action figure of the guy into pieces.) They don’t find Hagrid in Hogsmeade, but they do spot Ludo Bagman at the Three Broomsticks being menaced by a group of goblins. Bagman asks for a word with Harry in private.

He tells Harry that the goblins are looking for Barty Crouch Sr.; he hasn’t been coming into work at all, though they want to keep that on the down low in case Rita Skeeter tries to run a crazy story. Again, Bagman offers to help Harry with the Tournament, claiming he’s taken a liking to him and that everyone wants a Hogwarts champion. Harry smoothly asks if Bagman has offered the same help to Cedric (which of course he hasn’t). Harry declines the offer, and Bagman beats a hasty retreat when Fred and George show up and offer to buy him a drink. Harry tells Ron and Hermione what that was all about, but Hermione is perplexed by why the goblins would need to talk to Crouch at all. Harry figures that it might be due to Crouch’s ability to interpret, but Hermione points out that goblins are quite capable of handling wizards, unlike certain house-elves she could name.

Rita Skeeter enters The Three Broomsticks, and Harry can’t help himself; he calls her out for what she did to Hagrid in front of the entire bar. When Rita asks Harry to give an interview on Hagrid himself, Hermione starts in on her. Skeeter tries to shut her up, but Hermione’s not having it. The trio storm out of the pub and Hermione leads them back to the grounds and Hagrid’s cabin. She pounds on the door for him to open up—but Dumbledore is the one who answers. He lets them in where they find Hagrid sitting at his table, a complete wreck. They work together to insist that Hagrid is still loved by many; Dumbledore informs him of the owls he’s gotten from former students who want assurances that he’ll keep his job, Harry points out that he’s the one with real monstrous relatives, which leads Albus to mention his own brother’s run-in with the law for practicing inappropriate charms on a goat….

Dumbledore tells Hagrid that he won’t accept a resignation and expects him back to work next week, then leaves. Hagrid shows the trio a picture of his dad and talks about him. Then he says he’s done with Madame Maxime (without mentioning her by name) and her denial over her stature. He tells Harry that he was reminded of himself when they met again just a few years back, that he wants Harry to win the Triwizard Tournament, to prove that you didn’t have to be a pureblood to have incredible worth, and prove that Dumbledore was right letting anyone study at Hogwarts. He asks Harry how he’s getting on with the egg, and Harry lies and says he’s doing well. But it’s Hagrid happiness that convinces Harry to get over himself and try Cedric’s hint.

Commentary

Ron and Hermione are coping with their fight by basically pretending nothing is wrong. It makes a helluva lot of sense here; by having that fight at all, they have both implied that they care for each other much more then either of them is ready to admit. The safest thing they can do is sweep it under the rug for now.

The article on Hagrid finally hits, and it ends up worse than we were led to believe. We get our first solid hint that something is off about Rita’s reporting methods when Harry suggests she may have a cloak of her own, but it’s not really enough to give her away. She reports on the skrewts as though they’re a highly illegal project, when we know they aren’t. It’s another scenario where the Triwizard Tournament creates an awkward catch-22; Hagrid can’t explain why he’s really breeding the skrewts because the champions themselves can’t know they’re for the tournament (though the Hogwarts kids really do already have an unfair advantage with them). But that’s nothing compared to the revelation that he’s half-giant, and it doesn’t help that Skeeter naturally misrepresents giants as a whole species. She insists that they mostly killed themselves off due to infighting before the aurors took the rest of them down, which is simply untrue as far as I understand it.

It’s devastating because Hagrid essentially outs himself to one person he’s hoping to trust (Maxime), only to get shot down. Then he’s outed without his permission to everyone. You have to figure that this has been one of Hagrid’s greatest fears basically forever, and now it’s finally come true and he’s sure that it means the end of everything he cares about. (Because getting expelled after becoming an orphan wasn’t enough.) Adding insult to injury, it’s pretty clear that Grubbly-Plank is better at teaching kids safely. Hermione can’t help but say so, even if she’d never say it to Hagrid’s face.

Ludo Bagman is at it again, and this time he’s pissing off some goblins. We won’t find out until later that this is actually his second run-in with them after they cleaned him out at the World Cup. He’s clever enough to try and push the whole incident off with a story about Crouch—which works on Harry, since it is circumspect that he’s been AWOL from work. We can to assume that this is a tactic Bagman employs all the time, distracting people from his misdeeds by bringing up other odd goings-on and sidling away. He’s a coward and a hack, but he’s smart in how he cheats people.

I love that Harry and Hermione tell Rita off, mostly because there’s that righteous streak that the two of them share, and it’s so much fun when it runs in tandem. Bad in the long run, but watching someone tear her down has been a long time coming (and we’ve only known her for a few chapters, that’s how awful she is). Then they book it back to Hagrid’s hut to force him to talk and we get one of my favorite Dumbledore bits in the entire series, from his insistence to Harry that he’s gone “temporarily deaf,” allowing the boy to say what he likes a bout Rita Skeeter to his bad analogy regarding his brother Aberforth and his “inappropriate” charm on goats. According to Rowling, the charm in question was designed to keep their “horns curly and clean.” And yes, that’s supposed to work on more than one level, so we can all sort of balk at that and ask W-T-ever-loving-F ABERFORTH without feeling like we’re the creepy ones.

I’m just gonna let that one sit with you for a while.

But the central message here is that Hagrid is so incredibly loved. We find out about the many former students who support him, we know that Dumbledore loves him. And Albus gives a very important piece of advice here for Hagrid, Harry, and anyone who’s ever been brought down by public opinion; that universal popularity is not something anyone can or should aspire to. The people who matter in Hagrid’s life take no issue with his heritage because he means far more to them than labels and BS stereotypes.

Hagrid takes Dumbledore’s words to heart and starts pulling himself together. And then he has to go and break our hearts by telling Harry that he wants him to win—not just because he loves the kid, or he wants Hogwarts to get the glory. But because Harry winning, an orphan and half-blood like him, that would mean something far greater. That would show all the Malfoys and Skeeters and Ministry cronies of the world that people like them should never be cast off and shunned. It would prove that people like them had worth.

It’s not a perfect analogy; Harry has many privileges in his life that Hagrid has never been blessed with. But it matters because Hagrid believes it. And that means something to Harry. It’s exactly what he needs needs to hear to get his head in the game. We can talk all we want about how Hermione keeps the trio alive in these books, and it’s true. But this, moments like these are what make Harry special—logic doesn’t really motivate him most of the time. But people do. People always do.

The Second Task didn’t matter enough to Harry because he’s not doing the Triwizard Tournament for himself; it’s just this looming, life-threatening behemoth that he never signed up for. But he can do it for Hagrid.

 

Chapter 25—The Egg and the Eye

Summary

Harry uses the Invisibility Cloak and Marauder’s Map to get him into the Prefect’s bathroom in the middle of the night, so he won’t be disturbed. He finds a magical bathroom full of taps that shoot a myriad of bubble baths and scents, along with a pool-sized tub. He doesn’t come up with anything clever about the egg, though. That’s when Moaning Myrtle appears and tells him to put the egg in the water, like Cedric did. Harry is understandably distressed to know that Myrtle has probably seen him (and all the other prefects of the past several generations) naked.

He opens the egg in the water and it plays a song telling him that he’ll have to go under water to recover something that these underwater folk will take from him. He figures out that it’s merpeople with Myrtle egging him on (and going on about stalking her fellow classmate). Harry gets out of the bath, wondering how he’s going to breathe underwater for such a long period of time, and what they will take from him. He leaves the bathroom, but notices something odd on the Marauder’s Map—Bartemius Crouch is lurking in Professor Snape’s office. Harry makes for Snape’s office to find out what Crouch is up to, but he hits the trick step on the staircase, drops the egg and the map, and the racket calls Filch to the scene. Harry’s hidden under the cloak so Filch thinks Peeves has stolen the egg. He’s about to discover the unwiped map with Harry plainly on it, but he stop when Snape shows up; someone broke into his office.

Filch wants to go after Peeves, but Snape insists that he come and find whoever broke into his office. It’s then that Moody shows up on the scene—and he can see Harry there. He makes a point of implying that Snape could hiding all sorts of things in his office, talking of how Dumbledore had given him permission to keep an eye on Snape, which roundly infuriates the guy. The Potions professor makes a point of clutching his arm when Moody get particularly accusatory. Then Mad-Eye tells Snape that he’s dropped something, meaning the map. Harry knows he can’t let Snape have it, so he waves to Moody under the cloak to let him know that the parchment belongs to him. Moody summons the map to himself and claims it was his all along, but Snape recognizes it, puts everything together, and figures that Harry is out there under the cloak. Moody only stops him by suggesting that Snape’s mind going directly to Harry is suspicious when someone is clearly gunning for the kid.

Snape elects to go to bed and Moody demands the egg from Filch. Once they’re gone, Moody goes to Harry gets a better look at the Marauder’s Map. He’s fascinated by it, and asks Harry if he saw the man who broke into Snape’s office. Harry tells him it was Barty Crouch, and asks Moody why he would be there. Moody tells him that Crouch is even more obsessed with catching dark wizards than he is, which leads to Harry voicing his concerns over what’s been going on with the Death Eaters, the Dark Mark. Moody tells Harry he’s a sharp kid, and asks if he can borrow the map for a while, which Harry agrees to. He then tells Harry that’s he’d make a great Auror before heading off to bed, and Harry thinks about the possibility… though he decides that he’d like to know how more of them are doing later in life before making that career move.

Commentary

The prefect’s bathroom is a magical fairy land of joyfulness, and they should really tell all the other students how awesome it is because then everyone would work so hard to become a prefect. Is this a co-ed bathroom, though? We’re never given an indication that there’s more than one. Even so, they’re sharing this giant fancy spa room with practically no one. (There are only about 24 prefects in the school at any given time, and Quidditch captains are allowed to use the bathroom too.) So cool. I wonder what other sorts of secret privileges that prefects and Head Girl/Boy get.

Aaaaaand there’s Myrtle. Perving on naked Harry. Yeah, this part is super creepy, especially when you consider that Myrtle has likely been doing this for decades, with generations of prefects. Of course, it’s hard to be surprised after a little considering—what did we think Myrtle got up to all day, every day? Of course, she does admit that for a long time the answer was stalk the girl who gave me a hard time at school while I was alive so everything’s still creepy. Just getting creepier.

Theories on why water effects Myrtle? She claims that sometimes she ends up in the lake when someone flushes the toilet before she notices, but that would indicate that the current of sewage had any bearing on a ghost at all. She’s probably just making it up, but it’s funny to think about anyway.

Harry finds Bartemius Crouch on the map, and he just can’t leave well-enough alone, so he goes to investigate… and of course puts himself in the actual worst possible scenario outside of having a run in with Voldemort. This is the second book in a row where Harry has gotten caught in an after-hours situation like this, but I have to give Rowling credit for how much she ups the ante on this one—it’s far more fraught than last time, especially because Harry doesn’t get time to wipe the map.

It’s interesting that the Marauder’s Map doesn’t register the difference between senior and junior and the like. It seems as though it was “programmed” not to bother noting the difference between those with the same names, which makes sense to a larger extent. If you just happen two have to students at the school named “Chester Wodehouse,” the map wouldn’t bother to label them #1 and #2 or anything like that. So adding on Sr. or Jr. is viewed as similarly superfluous.

Either way, this gorgeously tense scene all hinges on that single error. There are so many things that can go wrong here. It’s also easy to forget when you’re rereading that between now and the Yule Ball, these are the first hints we really get of Snape being a former Death Eater. And because we don’t have the whole story, that possibility is meant to be far more sinister. So we’ve got Filch just making everything worse by being there, and Snape and Moody snapping at each other’s heels, and Moody is playing Snape pretty darn well. Only it’s not Moody, it’s Barty Crouch Jr., and everything is coming up sunshine and daffodils for this guy because if Harry hadn’t dropped the map or if Barty hadn’t gotten his hands on it following Harry’s warning, a very different conversation would have taken place. And the book would have basically ended here.

So it’s tense on your first read, but on a reread this hurts like burning. Because Barty came so damn close to being caught. Inches, millimeters away. If anyone else had put their hands on the Marauder’s Map during this scene, it would have been over. And Barty Crouch knows this, so he weaves a perfect little story for Harry, making him suspect Snape and putting Moody beyond suspicion. (It’s important to note that this just happened to Harry last chapter with Bagman—adults are are lying left and right to him this year. And that only leads to further damage in the “trusting your elders” department.)

Can’t help but love the perfect irony that the first person who tells Harry Potter that he should be an auror is a damned Death Eater. Grown up Harry probably looks back on this conversation and chuckles to himself now and then.


Emily Asher-Perrin forgot how much Hagrid made her cry in this chapter. You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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