In Chapter 27, we see Snape and Karkaroff acting strangely, the return of Sirius, and new information on Barty Crouch. Let’s go!
Ron opens up this chapter by being kind of adorable. He’s really enjoying his time in the spotlight with his involvement with the second task. Maybe a little too much. There weren’t any savage battles between you and the merfolk, Ron. None at all. He eventually calms down, mostly because Hermione gets really irritated. Students have been teasing her for being Krum’s “thing most missed.”
Harry also gets a note from Sirius with a place to meet in Hogsmeade on their next weekend out.
Be at stile at end of road out of Hogsmeade (past Dervish and Banges) at two o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Bring as much food as you can.
Harry is very worried about Sirius getting caught, but at least, as Ron points out, the dementors aren’t patrolling anymore.
Remember a couple chapters back how Ron warned Hermione about antagonizing Rita Skeeter? That comes back to haunt her when an article is published in the magazine Witch Weekly, painting Hermione as Harry’s girlfriend who is cheating on him with Viktor Krum. To her credit, Hermione isn’t too worried about it and finds the whole situation amusing. What’s not amusing is the fact that they were looking at the magazine in Potions class and Snape saw them doing it. He proceeds to give a dramatic reading of the article, with his own commentary, and oh how I wish I could see Alan Rickman doing this!
Snape separates them and puts Harry at a table near the front of the room beside his desk. He then proceeds to accuse Harry of breaking into his office. I can understand why he thinks this: he suspects Harry of sneaking around at night (which he was), the same night that Snape’s office was ransacked. That was also where the gillyweed came from, although Harry wasn’t the one who stole it. So Snape’s anger and suspicion towards Harry is actually pretty justified this time, but then he pulls out a small bottle of clear liquid.
“It is Veritaserum — a Truth Potion so powerful that three drops would have you spilling your innermost secrets for this entire class to hear,” said Snape viciously. “Now, the use of this potion is controlled by very strict Ministry guidelines. But unless you watch your step, you might just find that my hand slips” — he shook the crystal bottle slightly — “right over your evening pumpkin juice. And then, Potter . . . then we’ll find out whether you’ve been in my office or not.”
There are many ways this could backfire. First off, this would prove to Snape that Harry has never broken into his office and stolen from him, which Harry could use against Snape for administering this highly controlled substance. But Harry could also accidentally reveal something embarrassing (like his crush on Cho) or dangerous (like Sirius’s whereabouts).
They are interrupted by Karkaroff, who is determined to speak to Snape and stays for the rest of class to make sure he can do so. Harry stays behind and listens as Karkaroff shows Snape his left arm and says that “it” has never been clearer. When they notice Harry still there, pretending to clean up a spill, Karkaroff bolts.
The next day is their Hogsmeade trip to meet up with Sirius. Sirius is in his Animagus form and greets them happily, leading them to his hiding place. Poor Sirius hasn’t been doing well. He’s had to resort to eating rats, and it shows. Harry is worried about him being found out, but Sirius points out that only the three of them and Dumbledore know about him being an Animagus, so the folks in Hogsmeade just think he’s a stray.
They talk a lot about Crouch, mostly at first how odd it is that he’s disappeared after working so hard to get both the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament organized. He’s missed most of both so far. And then there’s the weird way he acted with his house-elf when Winky was found with a wand after the Dark Mark appeared in the sky. Ron wants Hermione to stop talking about house-elves, but Sirius disagrees.
“She’s got the measure of Crouch better than you have, Ron. If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
This is so, so true.
Sirius goes on to talk about Crouch and we get a lot of information on the man here. He was a ruthless prosecutor for the Ministry, convicting Death Eaters without a trial in most cases. He was even a favorite to become the next Minister of Magic. He put away many Death Eaters (including Sirius), until the unthinkable happened: his son was arrested. He gave his son a trial, mostly to show how much he hated him, and then sent him to Azkaban.
Sirius doesn’t know Crouch’s son, but saw him when he arrived. The boy didn’t last long and died in prison. Crouch and his wife got to visit him on his deathbed, and then the wife also died soon after her son did.
Crouch never really recovered from any of this.
“So old Crouch lost it all, just when he thought he had it made,” he continued, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “One moment, a hero, poised to become Minister of Magic . . . next, his son dead, his wife dead, the family name dishonored, and, so I’ve heard since I escaped, a big drop in popularity. Once the boy had died, people started feeling a bit more sympathetic toward the son and started asking how a nice young lad from a good family had gone so badly astray. The conclusion was that his father never cared much for him. So Cornelius Fudge got the top job, and Crouch was shunted sideways into the Department of International Magical Cooperation.”
So Crouch wants to save his reputation by catching one more Death Eater. Was that why he was in Snape’s office? Dumbledore still trusts Snape, but could he have been fooled? Sirius certainly doesn’t like Snape at all, for more reasons than one, and Snapes acquaintance with Karkaroff isn’t doing him any favors either.
There’s a lot to think about as they head back up to the castle . . .
See you next time for Chapter 28!