In Chapter 11, we learn about Mad-Eye Moody and hear more hints of something special happening at Hogwarts this year. Let’s go!
One of the first things we are introduced to in this chapter is one of the ways that wizards communicate – through the fireplace. We’ve seen them travel that way, and this technique is similar (I believe it even uses floo powder). As they are getting packed up to leave for Hogwarts, Harry sees Amos Diggory’s head poking out of the Weasley’s fireplace. He’s there to tell them about a problem with a shared acquaintance by the name of “Mad-Eye.” Mad-Eye thought he had an intruder in his yard which was caught by his trash cans, which were apparently spelled to attack anyone sneaking around.
The thing is, whoever Mad-Eye is (and oh boy, do we find out later), he has a reputation for being a bit crazy. Mr. Diggory wants to try and make sure that Mad-Eye doesn’t get in too much trouble, especially with Rita Skeeter sniffing around.
Mr. Diggory’s head looked around at Mrs. Weasley.
“Sorry about this, Molly,” it said, more calmly, “bothering you so early and everything . . . but Arthur’s the only one who can get Mad-Eye off, and Mad-Eye’s supposed to be starting his new job today. Why he had to choose last night . . .”
Hmmmm. Mad-Eye is starting his new job on the same day that everyone is arriving at Hogwarts. Coincidence? Of course not!
After Mr. Weasley leaves, we learn a bit more about Mad-Eye as the rest of the family discusses the situation. Mad-Eye Moody used to work for the Ministry as an Auror – sort of the wizard police (“Damn those Wizard Cops!” – if you don’t get that reference, boy do I have something to share with you later). He was really good at catching Dark wizards and, because of that, has lots of enemies. This has made him very paranoid and distrustful of, well, most things, really. Which is why he must have enchanted his trash cans to attack people.
They hire Muggle taxi drivers, who are none too happy to see that they are transporting so much stuff AND animals, to take them to Kings Cross and the Hogwarts Express. As they are leaving, Charlie alludes to something big happening at Hogwarts this year.
“I might be seeing you all sooner than you think,” said Charlie, grinning, as he hugged Ginny good-bye.
“Why?” said Fred keenly.
“You’ll see,” said Charlie. “Just don’t tell Percy I mentioned it . . . it’s ‘classified information, until such time as the Ministry sees fit to release it,’ after all.”
Bill gets in on the fun, too.
“You’re going to have an interesting year,” said Bill, his eyes twinkling. “I might even get time off to come and watch a bit of it . . .”
“A bit of what?” said Ron.
They aren’t going to tell us now, of course. Where’s the fun in that?
On the train, Harry, Ron and Hermione overhear Draco Malfoy complaining about Hogwarts to his goons, saying that his father considered sending him to Durmstrang instead. Durmstrang, as Hermione explains later, is another magical school that is heavy into teaching the Dark Arts. I wonder how things would have gone different if Draco had transferred. Are there any fanfics out there for this? What am I saying, of course there are. There’s a fanfiction for every conceivable premise.
Hermione continues to elaborate that no one knows exactly where the other schools, like Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, are because they keep their locations hidden. Hogwarts is also hidden, which everyone would know if they would just read Hogwarts: A History, right Hermione? Seriously, if those boys would only read that book, Hermione would be so happy. In any case, the only information Hermione could glean about Durmstrang was that it must be somewhere north because fur capes are part of the uniform.
They meet up with their other fellow Gryffindors: Seamus, Dean and Neville. They also have to continue with Draco being a jerk, since that’s all he knows how to do. He brags about something that no one quite gets. Somehow, he knows about whatever the secret thing was that Percy, Bill and Charlie wouldn’t talk about.
“So . . . going to enter, Weasley? Going to try and bring a bit of glory to the family name? There’s money involved as well, you know . . . you’d be able to afford some decent robes if you won . . .”
“What are you talking about?” snapped Ron.
“Are you going to enter?” Malfoy repeated. “I suppose you will, Potter? You never miss a chance to show off, do you?”
Yeah, no one knows what he’s talking about, a fact that makes Malfoy absolutely giddy with glee. He sneers about his father being so involved at the Ministry and having inside information. As he leaves, Ron is furious. He knows that his dad isn’t one of the top people at the Ministry, but Mr. Weasley likes his job. He’s not an ambitious social climber like the Malfoys are. As it starts to pour down rain, they all head to the carriages to take them up to the castle (except for Hagrid and the poor first years, who head for the boats). Another year at Hogwarts is about to begin!
See you next time for Chapter 12!