In Chapter 24, we learn just how really terrible Rita Skeeter is and we want to give Hagrid all the hugs. Let’s go!
Ah, the aftermath of the Yule Ball. The good news is that Ron and Hermione have decided to pretty much decided to pretend that their big blow up that night never happened. They had just put their friendships all back together and no one seems to really want to tear everyone apart again. I also love that Hermione tells them how she made her hair so perfect (using “Sleekeasy’s Hair Potion, something that I wish existed in real life!), but that it was way too much to do everyday. I love that girl! Also, once they tell her what they overheard, Hermione doesn’t seem too upset by the revelation that Hagrid is a half-giant.
“Well, I thought he must be,” she said, shrugging. “I knew he couldn’t be pure giant because they’re about twenty feet tall. But honestly, all this hysteria about giants. They can’t all be horrible . . . It’s the same sort of prejudice that people have toward werewolves . . . It’s just bigotry, isn’t it?”
She may have a point, but I don’t know if I’d be ready to go visit the giants anytime soon. They still sound a bit dangerous.
Harry is also starting to get a bit worried about the whole golden egg situation. He still has no idea what to do with it, and he is now realizing that time is slowly but surely running out. He remembers the hint that Cedric gave him, but he also doesn’t really want to give Cedric credit for anything now that Cedric and Cho are dating. A bit of jealousy going on there, I think, which is ridiculous because Cedric’s hint could literally end up saving Harry’s life. I know it’s hard to see your crush with another beau, but let’s take a look at priorities here.
Something else is going to happen that will distract Harry even further: Hagrid is gone. Or at least, not teaching classes. They have a substitute, Professor Grubbly-Plank, who seems very competent in her field and is actually a very good teacher. Harry, Ron and Hermione wonder if Hagrid is sick, but Malfoy laughs in their face and shows them an article that ran in the Daily Prophet, written, of course, by Rita Skeeter. In the article, she reveals the secret of Hagrid’s parentage, quotes Slytherin students talking about injuries they’ve received in his class, questions Dumbledore’s judgment for bringing Hagrid on as a professor, and questioning Harry’s friendship with a half-giant with apparent violent tendencies.
Oh, and the blast-ended skrewts are actually cross breeds of manticores and fire-crabs. So that’s terrifying. Also, as a side note, did anyone ever play the Goblet of Fire video game? The skrewts in that were so annoying!
Harry, Ron and Hermione wonder how Rita Skeeter could have known about Hagrid, since they themselves didn’t know until recently. Who could have told her? Hagrid wouldn’t have, that’s for sure. Harry and Ron didn’t see her in the garden that night, but maybe she had an Invisibility Cloak? The three of them go to Hagrid’s Hut to try and talk to him, but he won’t answer. They don’t see him all week. Malfoy, of course, has to be nasty about it, because that’s just how he rolls.
“Missing your half-breed pal?” he kept whispering to Harry whenever there was a teacher around, so that he was safe from Harry’s retaliation. “Missing the elephant-man?”
Yeah, Malfoy is nasty, but he’s also a coward.
Time marches on. Harry tells Hermione that he is pretty sure he knows what he’s doing with the egg, just to get her off his case about it, even though it is an out-and-out lie. They also see Viktor Krum taking a swim in the lake. In January. Way too cold for me! Hermione tells them that it’s much colder where he’s from, so this is nothing, and also, Krum really likes it better at Hogwarts.
During a visit to Hogsmeade, they run into Ludo Bagman, who was in the Three Broomsticks meeting with a group of goblins. He takes Harry aside and offers to help him with the tournament. Harry asks if he’s also offered to help Cedric, which Bagman hasn’t – he has “taken a liking” to Harry. He also tells Harry that the goblins are looking for Mr. Crouch, who has stopped coming to work, instead sending instructions to Percy by owl. Percy has been telling people that Mr. Crouch is just ill, but Bagman is worried that, with Rita Skeeter trying to dig up dirt, that this could get blown out of proportion, that the rumor could get started that Mr. Crouch has gone missing just like Bertha Jorkins did.
No news on that front, by the way. They know she arrived in Albania and met up with a cousin, but disappeared after she left. Weird.
Fred and George come up and try to buy Mr. Bagman a drink, but he dodges away from them and leaves. Harry, Ron and Hermione discuss what all just happened, and are pretty aghast that Bagman would try to convince Harry to cheat. In the midst of this, who should walk in, but Rita Skeeter. Harry confronts her, accusing her of trying to ruin Hagrid’s life. Rita tries to turn this all around.
“How about giving me an interview about the Hagrid you know, Harry? The man behind the muscles? Your unlikely friendship and the reasons behind it. Would you call him a father substitute?”
Ugh! She’s so awful! And Hermione tells her that to her face, not worried about Rita Skeeter coming after her in any way. She’s not going to hide, and she doesn’t think Hagrid should either. They run back to Hagrid’s, where Hermione bangs on the door and demands that he let them in. She is greeted by, not Hagrid, but Dumbledore, who has been trying to convince Hagrid to come back to work. Dumbledore has received lots of letters from parents who know Hagrid and do not want him sacked.
Hagrid points out that there were also a lot of complaints, letters telling Dumbledore to get rid of Hagrid. Dumbledore tells him not to worry about that, as the school is always receiving complaints with things that the Headmaster does that they don’t agree with. When Hagrid brings up his giant parentage, Harry points out that he is also related to horrible people, the Dursleys, but that clearly doesn’t reflect on Harry himself.
“An excellent point,” said Professor Dumbledore. “My own brother, Aberforth, was prosecuted for practicing inappropriate charms on a goat. It was all over the papers, but did Aberforth hide? No, he did not! He held his head high and went about his business as usual! Of course, I’m not entirely sure he can read, so that may not have been bravery . . .”
There are little things that you catch re-reading these books knowing the ending. We know Aberforth a bit now. Dumbledore is painting him as a bit of a bumpkin, but we know that’s not entirely true. He’s not as smart as Albus, but he’s not an idiot. So while this is very funny, in hindsight I really don’t like how Dumbledore is talking about his brother here.
Dumbledore refuses to accept Hagrid’s resignation and tells him to get himself back together and get back to teaching. Hagrid is a bit overcome with emotion and can’t stop saying how wonderful Dumbledore is to him. He also shows the kids a picture of him with his dad, which is sweet. His dad looks tiny in comparison! Hagrid tells Harry that he felt a bit of a connection with Harry when he first met him — all alone, with no parents, feeling like an outsider. And now Harry is a school champion with a real shot at winning the tournament! The benefit of all Hagrid’s praise is that it made Harry swallow his pride a bit. If he doesn’t want to let people down, he’s going to have to figure out the golden egg, and that means taking Cedric’s advice.
See you next time for Chapter 25!