In Chapter 12, we finally find out what’s going on at Hogwarts this year! Let’s go!
In the beginning of this chapter, we see a character who I desperately wish had been included in the movies – Peeves the Poltergeist! I remember how much fun he was in the video games back when I played through all those (ah, those were the days). It’s a shame that he got cut, but I guess it’s understandable. They have to cut something and Peeves doesn’t really drive the narrative along. He’s just funny.
In this case, he is throwing water balloons at the students coming in through the entrance hall. Of course, they are already wet because it’s pouring outside, but that doesn’t stop Peeves. Very few things do.
They get ready for the Sorting. Colin Creevy is excited because his brother, Dennis, is starting Hogwarts this year and he hopes that his brother will join them in Gryffindor. Which brings up an interesting point – siblings don’t always belong to the same house. All the Weasleys do, but that’s not always the case. The Patil twins are in different houses (Gryffindor and Ravenclaw) and we already know that Sirius was an outlier for being a Gryffindor in a family full of Slytherins. It’s interesting how all that works.
They also all wonder who the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher will be, as the position is once again vacant since Professor Lupin left last year. I’m still salty about that. Lupin was such a good teacher! I hate that he felt that he had to leave!
The Sorting finishes (Dennis did get sorted into Gryffindor yay!) and they start eating. Nearly Headless Nick tells them about the issues they had in the kitchens. Peeves had been causing trouble and scared the house-elves half to death. This news particularly startles Hermione.
“There are house-elves here?” she said, staring, horror-struck, at Nearly Headless Nick. “Here at Hogwarts?”
“Certainly,” said Nearly Headless Nick, looking surprised at her reaction. “The largest number in any dwelling in Britain, I believe. Over a hundred.”
Hermione is completely astonished, but really, why should she be, after learning that this is basically how wizarding families (and now establishments) handle housework. Not with maids or staffs, but with house-elves. She asks if they get any benefits (sick leave, holidays, pensions) to the amusement of Nearly Headless Nick. That’s not how house-elves operate. They don’t want those things, according to Nick. Hermione says they are nothing but slaves and refuses to eat anything else.
“Slave labor,” said Hermione, breathing hard through her nose. “That’s what made this dinner. Slave labor.”
Oh Hermione. Never change.
After the feast, Dumbledore gets up to give his opening remarks. He says that the normal Quidditch tournament for the Houses will not be happening this year, much to the shock of Harry and the Weasleys. Another event will be taking its place, but before Dumbledore can give any more details, the doors to the Great Hall slam open and a man walks through.
The lightning had thrown the man’s face into sharp relief, and it was a face unlike any Harry had ever seen. It looked as though it had been carved out of weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what human faces are supposed to look like, and was none too skilled with a chisel. Every inch of skin seemed to be scarred. The mouth looked like a diagonal gash, and a large chunk of the nose was missing. But it was the man’s eyes that made him frightening.
Can we take a second and just acknowledge what a brilliant piece of writing this is. Honestly, this is such an amazing description of a character, and we’re not even done.
One of them was small, dark, and beady. The other was large, round as a coin, and a vivid, electric blue. The blue eye was moving ceaselessly, without blinking, and was rolling up, down, and from side to side, quite independently of the normal eye — and then it rolled right over, pointing into the back of the man’s head, so that all they could see was whiteness.
Welcome to Hogwarts, Professor Moody. Now we know why they call you “Mad-Eye.”
No one really knows how to react to this bizarre fellow. Harry recognizes the name as the man who Mr. Weasley had run off to help that morning, but Ron had never met him before and is just as bewildered as everyone else. Oh, and also, Moody has a large wooden leg as well.
But enough of that. Back to Dumbledore’s announcement. Hogwarts will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament this year! It’s a competition between the three largest European wizarding schools (the others being the two we had already heard about — Durmstrang and Beauxbatons) that used to happen once every five years, but was discontinued due to too many deaths. Yeah, that’s right. Deaths. The other two schools are bringing several contenders to be chosen as their champions, which leads to how the Hogwarts champion will be selected.
We aren’t given a lot of details, only that an “impartial judge” will make the decision. Because of the considerable danger, they are putting an age restriction on entering the tournament, which makes Fred and George very unhappy. They both want to enter, not just for the glory of winning, but also for the thousand Galleons prize. The twins are determined to find a way around the age limit. Ron and Harry both wonder if they should give it a try too, if Fred and George find a way. And knowing the twins . . . anything is possible.
See you next time for Chapter 13!