In Chapter 18, we meet the infamous Rita Skeeter. Let’s go!
I spend a good portion of this book series just straight up feeling bad for Harry. This kid has so many issues he has to deal with, and this chapter is no exception. He has to face this terrifying situation of preparing for a tournament that he knows is way over his head, and he has to do it without one of his best friend’s support. Ron is being really stupid here, but I do see a bit how he is feeling as well. He is always overshadowed by Harry’s fame and I’m sure that’s difficult, but really Ron, you have to pull it together.
This does show, though, what an awesome friend Hermione is. She knows that Harry isn’t ready to face everyone, so she brings him breakfast and asks him to go for a walk around the lake. Everyone needs a friend like Hermione! For one thing, she immediately believes his version of the events.
“Well, of course I knew you hadn’t entered yourself,” she said when he’d finished telling her about the scene in the chamber off the Hall. “The look on your face when Dumbledore read out your name! But the question is, who did put it in? Because Moody’s right, Harry . . . I don’t think any student could have done it . . .”
Exactly. There are so many other factors here that people are not taking into account. Harry could not have entered. Hermione, being the awesome friend that she is, also tries to smooth things out about Ron, knowing how Ron must feel about all this. Hermione also suggests that Harry needs to write to Sirius immediately. Harry doesn’t want to do this because he is so worried about Sirius getting caught and doesn’t want to be the reason that Sirius came back to town. Even though he’s already on the way. Nothing will keep Sirius from looking after Harry!
The thing is though, Sirius is going to find out. The Triwizard Tournament was already a big deal that everyone was talking about, and having the Goblet give Hogwarts two champions is bad enough, but with one of them being Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived? It will be front page news everywhere.
You told me to keep you posted on what’s happening at Hogwarts, so here goes — I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Triwizard Tournament’s happening this year and on Saturday night I got picked as a fourth champion. I don’t know who put my name in the Goblet of Fire, because I didn’t. The other Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory, from Hufflepuff.
Hope you’re okay, and Buckbeak —
I love that he asks after Buckbeak. That’s too cute!
So how is the rest of the school reacting to Harry? Not well. Hufflepuff students are furious that Harry is stealing their champion’s thunder, and honestly, I can’t blame them. Hufflepuff gets ridiculed a lot, so the fact that Cedric was going to bring glory to their House was a big deal. The Ravenclaws are taking the Hufflepuffs side on this, thinking that Harry just wants to be even more famous. The Slytherins, led by Malfoy of course, are taking bets on how long it will take for Harry to die in the tournament. Hagrid, of course, believes Harry and is worried about him.
“Ah, I don’ know, Harry,” Hagrid sighed suddenly, looking back down at him with a worried expression on his face. “School champion . . . everythin’ seems ter happen ter you, doesn’ it?”
Yes, it absolutely does. This kid needs a break.
The Slytherins have taken things a step further and made badges that read “Support Cedric Diggory – the REAL Hogwarts Champion,” but then switch to “Potter Stinks” when tapped. This leads to a bit of a duel in the hallway outside Potions class between Malfoy and Harry, but both of them miss, hitting Goyle with ugly boils and Hermione with a curse that makes her teeth grow abnormally large. This leads to one of the, I think, most hated interactions in the series involving one of my favorite characters, Snape.
He (Ron) forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth — she was doing her best to hide them with her hands, though this was difficult as they had now grown down past her collar. Pansy Parkinson and the other Slytherin girls were doubled up with silent giggles, pointing at Hermione from behind Snape’s back.
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”
Why??? Why did he say that??? We know that he was a kid who got picked on because of his appearance all the time when he was in school, so why does he do this to Hermione, a student who has given him absolutely no trouble whatsoever, other than just being a Gryffindor??
Class is terrible as usual, but Harry is summoned to have his photo taken with the other champions, which Snape absolutely hates but there’s nothing he can do about it. When Harry gets there, he meets someone who he had only heard of up until this point: Rita Skeeter, reporter for the Daily Prophet, the wizarding newspaper. She, of course, is fascinated with Harry and wants to speak to him beforehand. They hide in a closet (???) so they will have some privacy. She also pulls out a “Quick-Quotes Quill” that immediately starts writing bizarre prose about Harry.
An ugly scar, souvenir of a tragic past, disfigures the otherwise charming face of Harry Potter, whose eyes —
The interview goes as you might expect. Rita tries to get Harry to say a bunch of things about how he’s feeling about this, including bringing his dead parents into the mix, which is so over the line, I can’t even believe it. Luckily they are rescued by Dumbledore, who needs Harry for the wand weighing ceremony. Ollivander is there to inspect their wands and make sure they are all in good working order before the tournament begins. During this, we learn that Ron was partially right about Fleur, who reveals that her grandmother was in fact a veela, and one of her hairs is the core of Fleur’s wand. Harry wishes he could tell Ron about this, but of course, he can’t.
Ollivander inspects the other wands, pausing with Harry’s since it is so unusual in its connection to Voldemort. Then they take photos of the champions, the judges and the Headmasters, Rita pulling Harry front and center as much as she can, and then finally are dismissed to go down for dinner. Harry eats alone (Hermione still in the hospital wing), but runs into Ron up in their dorm. Ron is very short with Harry, but let’s him know that he had received a letter and that they have detentions with Snape the next night.
The letter is from Sirius. He wants to talk to Harry face-to-face on November 22nd at 1:00 AM in the Gryffindor common room. We don’t know how at this point, but somehow, someway, Sirius is coming back to Hogwarts.
See you next time for Chapter 19!