In Chapter 28, we finally see a reappearance of Mr. Crouch, and it’s not pretty. Let’s go!
This chapter starts off with a somewhat funny scene and then ends up really, really dark. I like it!
The three start off by sending a note to Percy asking about Mr. Crouch and then going down to the kitchens to get some food to send to Sirius. Dobby is very happy to see them, but Winky . . . eh, Winky’s not doing well. She’s still sitting by the fireplace, but she is filthy dirty and, apparently, completely drunk on butterbeer. Turns out that stuff is really strong for house-elves, and Winky is drinking a LOT of it. According to Dobby, Winky can’t get over the fact that Mr. Crouch is not her master anymore.
“Master is needing his — hic — Winky!” whimpered the elf. “Master cannon — hic — manage — hic — all by himself . . .”
“Other people manage to do their own housework, you know, Winky,” Hermione said severely.
“Winky — hic — is not only — hic — doing housework for Mr. Crouch!” Winky squeaked indignantly, swaying worse than ever and slopping butterbeer down her already heavily stained blouse. “Master is — hic — trusting Winky with — hic — the most important — hic — the most secret –“
Winky won’t tell them what this secret stuff is though, and when pressed, she gets angry and eventually passes out. The other elves just cover her up neatly with a tablecloth and leave her be. Hermione takes great offense to this and asks them why they aren’t actually helping her. I do think it’s funny that Hermione tries to use Dobby as an example and Dobby wants to be kept out of it. He knows that he is an anomaly among house-elves, that most of them don’t want what he does, and doesn’t want to make waves anymore than he already is. Ron is worried that Hermione is making the other elves angry and won’t give them food anymore. That’s Ron, thinking with his stomach!
They send the food to Sirius while Ron and Hermione keep arguing. The next day, they have stopped for the most part, especially once Hermione starts getting a lot of mail. Specifically, hate mail from people who have read the Witch Weekly article and want Hermione to leave Harry alone. One of them has undiluted bubotuber pus in it which makes her hands swell up with painful boils. Throughout the week, they don’t get better, although Hermione decides to burn them instead of opening any. That doesn’t stop the Howlers though.
In Care of Magical Creatures class, Hagrid introduces them to nifflers, little fluffy creatures who like to look for treasure. I love that these have become more well known through the Fantastic Beasts movies – they’re so cute! Hagrid set up a treasure hunt for them with buried gold coins, but tells them that it’s only leprechaun gold, so it will disappear in a few hours. Ron realizes that the money he gave Harry at the World Cup actually disappeared and Harry didn’t notice it.
“Must be nice,” Ron said abruptly . . . “To have so much money you don’t notice if a pocketful of Galleons goes missing . . .
“I hate being poor.”
I feel really bad for Ron here. This is something that he’s already insecure about and this has made him feel even worse.
Hagrid also tells Hermione not to worry about all the negative attention. He had received some angry mail after his Rita Skeeter article came out, so he knows the feeling. Hermione just wants to know how Rita Skeeter is doing it – she’s not supposed to be on school grounds, and yet she is somehow overhearing private conversations. Hermione vows to “get her back,” and I wouldn’t want to get on Hermione’s bad side!
The final task of the tournament is approaching and they finally get to see what their task will be: a maze. They have turned the Quidditch pitch into a large hedge maze, much to Harry and Cedric’s dismay. They liked their Quidditch pitch the way it was, thank you! But at least this seems like a straightforward situation. Get through a maze. Nothing else to figure out beforehand. Harry and Cedric will get a head start, since they are currently tied for first place, then Krum, and then Fleur.
As they leave, Krum asks Harry if he can speak to him and leads him towards the forest. This seems really creepy at first, but then Krum asks if there is anything between Harry and Hermione. I think this is so sweet! Krum comes off as being really gruff and tough, but he’s just a boy with a crush and it’s adorable. Harry assures him that he and Hermione are just friends and they both talk about flying and Quidditch. I really think that, under different circumstances, these two would have been friends. They don’t talk for long though before someone staggers out of the forest towards them: Mr. Crouch!
He looked as though he had been traveling for days. The knees of his robes were ripped and bloody, his face scratched; he was unshaven and gray with exhaustion. His neat hair and mustache were both in need of a wash and a trim. His strange appearance, however, was nothing to the way he was behaving. Muttering and gesticulating, Mr. Crouch appeared to be talking to someone that he alone could see.
Crouch keeps going back and forth between thinking he’s talking to Percy at work, talking as if his son is still alive, and then panicked requests to see Dumbledore and that he has escaped from something. Harry tells Krum to stay with him and runs up to the castle to find Dumbledore. He runs into Snape while trying to get into the headmaster’s office, Snape being as unhelpful and snarky as ever, but Dumbledore soon comes down and goes with Harry. They arrive to find Krum stunned and Crouch gone.
Dumbledore wakes Krum up, who says that Crouch attacked him. They are soon joined by Hagrid, but Dumbledore sends him off to go get Karkaroff. Moody also appears, saying that Snape had said something about Crouch, and then goes off to search for him. Again, such excellent misdirection here! Our attention is taken up so much by Karkaroff, who is extremely upset that his champion has been attacked by someone from the opposing country’s Ministry, and a judge to boot.
“Treachery!” he bellowed, pointing at Dumbledore. “It’s a plot! You and your Ministry of Magic have lured me here under false pretenses, Dumbledore! This is not an equal competition! First you sneak Potter into the tournament, though he is underage! Now one of your Ministry friends attempts to put my champion out of action! I smell double-dealing and corruption in this whole affair, and you, Dumbledore, you, with your talk of closer international Wizarding links, of rebuilding old ties, of forgetting old differences — here’s what I think of you!”
He spits at Dumbledore’s feet, which is not a good thing to do in front of Hagrid, who immediately slams Karkaroff into a tree. The thing is though, if we weren’t already suspicious of Karkaroff, it’s easy to see how this looks really bad. If you’re just looking at the tournament, Hogwarts had a huge advantage with two competitors, both of which who are currently tied for first place. And now the Durmstrang champion is attacked. It does look fishy.
Dumbledore tells Hagrid to put Karkaroff down and walk Harry back up to the castle. On the way, Hagrid tells off Harry for going off with Krum in the first place. He’s from Durmstrang and might be dangerous. Harry tries to tell Hagrid that Krum seemed fine, that their talk was completely innocent, but Hagrid is in no place to listen. So Harry waits until he can get back up to the common room and tell Ron and Hermione everything that happened.
See you next time for Chapter 29!