In Chapter 9, all of the happiness we have been experiencing so far immediately turns to terror and confusion. Let’s go!
Everyone heads back to the tents and gets ready to go to bed. Fred and George are very excited about their winnings and all the Irish fans look like they will be celebrating late into the night. Harry does drift off to sleep, the dreams of one day getting to play in the World Cup himself, when he is awoken to the shouts and screaming. Mr. Weasley tells the kids to run out of the tent and go hide in the woods. The cause of all this?
A crowd of wizards, tightly packed and moving together with wands pointing straight upward, was marching slowly across the field. Harry squinted at them . . . They didn’t seem to have faces . . . Then he realized that their heads were hooded and their faces masked. High above them, floating along in midair, four struggling figures were being contorted into grotesque shapes. It was as though the masked wizards on the ground were puppeteers, and the people above them were marionettes operated by invisible strings that rose from the wands into the air. Two of the figures were very small.
They soon see that the floating figures were Mr. Roberts and his family. Mr. Weasley, Bill, Charlie and Percy run off to help while the twins, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny get out of harm’s way. Once in the woods, they run into Draco Malfoy, who sneers at them because that’s what he does. He also threatens Hermione, saying that she needs to keep her head down since the attackers are targeting Muggles. They also run into a group of French teenagers, who Hermione says go to Beauxbatons, another magical school.
The worst part about all this: Harry realizes that he has dropped his wand somewhere. With everything going on, he now feels very vulnerable without a way to magically defend himself. Crashing through the bushes, they see Winky the house elf, running in a strange zigzagging pattern. Harry guesses that she is behaving weird because she didn’t have permission to hide. Hermione takes offense to this.
“You know, house-elves get a very raw deal!” said Hermione indignantly. “It’s slavery, that’s what it is! That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he’s got her bewitched so she can’t even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn’t anyone do something about it!”
And thus, the idea for S.P.E.W. is born. Although, now is not really the time, Hermione. Let’s work on surviving the night first.
They run into a group of wizards trying to impress some veela. They run into Ludo Bagman, who doesn’t seem to know what is going on. Then, they hear footsteps and a loud voice shouting, “MORSMORDRE!” A bright green light rises into the air.
For a split second, Harry thought it was another leprechaun formation. Then he realized that it was a colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue. As they watched, it rose higher and higher, blazing in a haze of greenish smoke, etched against the black sky like a new constellation.
The appearance of this weird green skull thing is met with terrified screams. The kids are also met with a bunch of apparating wizards ready to stun the perpetrator. Harry and the others duck, but are immediately questioned as to what happened. Mr. Weasley is there, as is Mr. Crouch and several other people from the Ministry, including Mr. Diggory. Hermione explains that the person who said the incantation was behind the trees and they couldn’t see what it was. The stunning spells went into the trees as well, so maybe they got someone.
“Yes! We got them! There’s someone here! Unconscious! It’s — but — blimey . . .”
“You’ve got someone?” shouted Mr. Crouch, sounding highly disbelieving. “Who? Who is it?”
They heard snapping twigs, the rustling of leaves, and then crunching footsteps as Mr. Diggory reemerged from behind the trees. He was carrying a tiny, limp figure in his arms. Harry recognized the tea towel at once. It was Winky.
First off, what the hell is Crouch’s problem? He seems ready to believe that Harry, Ron or Hermione are the ones who caused all this, but then behaves very strangely when Winky is discovered. He doesn’t believe it was Winky and goes to look through the bushes for anyone else. And of course it wasn’t Winky! The voice that cast the spell didn’t sound like a house elf, as Hermione points out. Although house-elves don’t usually carry wands, but Winky had one in her possession – it was Harry’s. She says that she found it. They cast a spell to prove that Harry’s wand was in fact the one that cast the illuminated skull into the air, but determine that Winky must have found the wand after the fact.
Despite this, Crouch is absolutely livid that his house-elf was anywhere near this situation and dismisses her immediately. Winky is devastated, begging Crouch to change his mind, but Crouch is adamant that he distance himself from this whole situation. Mr. Weasley leads the kids away after Harry is given back his wand and we finally learn what’s so terrifying about the skull.
The skull with the snake coming out of it was Voldemort’s symbol, the Dark Mark. It was seen all over when Voldemort rose to power. Whenever his followers, called Death Eaters, killed someone, the symbol hovered over the house. It inspired sheer terror, knowing that if the symbol was there, it was too late to save anyone.
The odd thing? The Dark Mark scared away the wizards in the masks earlier. Voldemort’s supporters loved tormenting Muggles. They thought it was fun. However, if they were Death Eaters, they would be scared of seeing Voldemort come back because they had to betray him in order to avoid staying out of Azkaban. They wouldn’t necessarily be excited to see him if he came back.
Harry feels very strange about all this. Voldemort seems to be everywhere: his scar hurting after the dream, the Death Eaters, the Dark Mark. So many things to wonder and worry about.
See you next time for Chapter 10!