Chapter 15 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang
Early in the morning, Harry writes to Sirius saying that he is perfectly alright and not to worry about him. He goes to the Owlery and persuades a still-aloof Hedwig to carry the message to Sirius. Harry is certain Sirius' reply will make things better. Hermione remonstrates with him later, claiming that what he wrote to Sirius is a lie. Harry says he does not care; he will not do anything to increase the risk of Sirius going to Azkaban again.
Classes are harder than ever, particularly Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Moody is going to use the Imperius curse on each student to teach them how to resist it. Hermione objects, saying it is illegal. Moody responds that Dumbledore wants them to know what this curse feels like and offers to excuse her from class; she decides to stay. Moody puts each student under the curse. Harry feels euphoric while he is cursed. When a little voice breaks in telling him to jump on Moody's desk, Harry thinks, "But why?" As the command gets more forceful, Harry both jumps and tries to prevent himself from jumping and smashes into Moody's desk. Moody is overjoyed and repeats the process four times, until Harry is able to cast off the curse perfectly.
As they leave class, Ron comments that Moody seems to believe everyone is about to be attacked and mentions a few events that have caused considerable concern in the Ministry. Harry and Ron wonder how they will cope with Moody's extra homework plus all the other homework teachers are piling on to prepare students for their Fifth-year OWLs.
Luckily, Professor Trelawney approves their Divination homework, even reading sections to the class. Harry and Ron are amused, but less so when she asks them to repeat this the month after next; they are running out of catastrophes to predict. Meanwhile, Professor Binns is having students write weekly essays on the Goblin Rebellions. Professor Snape has them researching antidotes, and Professor Flitwick assigns three books in preparation for Summoning Charms. Even Hagrid gives extra work. The Blast-Ended Skrewts are growing apace, even though they don't seem to be eating anything. Hagrid has the class record their behaviour on alternate evenings.
Returning to the Castle after Care of Magical Creatures, the Trio sees a notice that Durmstrang and Beauxbatons delegations are arriving the following Friday. Ernie Macmillan runs off to tell Cedric Diggory. Ron expresses dismay that Cedric could be the Hogwarts' champion, but Hermione says he is a good student and a Hufflepuff Prefect. Ron claims she likes him because he is handsome.
The Castle is cleaned the next week, and on the day the visitors are to arrive, the Great Hall is decorated with silk banners representing the four Houses. The teachers are tense that some Hogwarts students are not quite up to standard. At breakfast, Ron and Harry interrupt the Twins, who are discussing someone who has not answered their letters. Hermione mentions that the champions will be judged on how well they perform the set tasks and that the three School Heads, among others, will be the judges. She then notes indignantly that Hogwarts, A History fails to mention that the school enslaves over a hundred House-elves. The arriving post owls, including Hedwig bearing Sirius' reply, interrupt Hermione's diatribe. Sirius writes that he is back in the country and well hidden. He sees through Harry's recent claim that everything is fine now ("Nice try, Harry!") and advises Harry to use different owls for future messages. Hermione agrees that Hedwig, a snowy owl, is too easily noticed.
Classes end early, and the students are marshaled outside the Entrance Hall. At dusk, Beauxbatons arrives in a giant flying carriage pulled by enormous winged horses. Emerging from the carriage, the headmistress, Madam Maxime, is revealed to be as large as Hagrid. Professor Dumbledore greets her, and assures her Hagrid is quite capable of tending to the horses, although Madame Maxime expresses some concern.
Durmstrang arrives in an apparently derelict sailing ship, surfacing from beneath the lake. Headmaster Igor Karkaroff warmly greets Dumbledore, then asks to proceed immediately into the castle, saying Viktor has a slight cold. Ron recognizes "Viktor" as the Bulgarian Quidditch Seeker, Victor Krum.
Harry retains a rather juvenile belief that writing to Sirius will always solve his problems; it does not, but finally having a father-figure he can reach out to for help provides the comfort and security as well as family that has been lacking in his life. Harry realizes that any communication with Sirius, a hunted fugitive, is risky.
Hermione chastising Harry for "lying" in his letter, even though Harry only wants to protect Sirius, shows her persistent and two-dimensional, child-like thinking. Hermione strictly follows rules without ever questioning them, and it hardly occurs to her that the truth could actually be harmful. To her thinking, rules provide a safe, predictable outcome—breaking them leads to disorder and consequences. However, Hermione has broken rules and bent the truth in the past when she strongly believed it served a greater purpose, indicating that she is developing a more independent and analytical personality. Her emerging independence has created an inner conflict between her need for conformity and acceptance and doing what she believes is right, though her developing maturity is gradually overcoming this; it has led to her taking her first steps in challenging the entire Wizarding world against enslaving House-elves.
These ongoing conflicts within Hermione are also seen when she strongly protests Moody's demonstrating the Unforgivable Curses. Dumbledore has granted permission because he believes the impending conflict with Voldemort and his Death Eaters warrants the students understanding exactly what these curses are and how to counter them. Hermione objects because the Ministry forbids it; to Hermione's thinking, Ministry rules should outweigh Dumbledore's authority (and good judgment). This stance seems at odds with her opposition to the Ministry allowing House-elves to be enslaved. However, when Moody excuses her from the demonstration, Hermione, despite having the courage to openly express her opinion, chooses to remain, perhaps unwilling to be the only student to leave, and possibly fearing her peers' disdain more than the Ministry's might. She will need to reconcile these conflicts if she is to continue her campaign to free House-elves.
Ron, meanwhile, is unknowingly developing a romantic attachment to Hermione, and appears to become jealous when he suspects she is attracted to the handsome Cedric Diggory. Ron fails to recognize what his feelings actually are, resulting in him sometimes acting inappropriately toward Hermione. At this point, of course, we also are not entirely aware of Ron's feelings; we recall Hermione's having been somewhat besotted with Professor Lockhart some two years earlier, and suspect Ron may simply be referring back to that episode.
Also, Sirius returning to England shows his deep devotion to his godson, though Harry is now terrified that he has endangered his godfather. But Sirius willingly risks his own freedom to ensure Harry's safety. And though Sirius will sometimes be an imperfect role model to Harry, his actions here show he is a protective and loving guardian who willingly and responsibly assumed his parenting responsibilities. We note that Harry seems to be blaming himself for bringing Sirius back to a country where he is being hunted as a fugitive from justice. Sirius' response may lead the astute reader to guess that Sirius may be corresponding with other wizards around Harry, and his decision, while triggered in this instance by Harry's missive, could well have happened in response to a note from someone else. We have seen, as early as the first book, that Harry tends to accept responsibility for events that are not wholly, or even largely, his fault. We suspect this trait may continue throughout the series.
Hogwarts, meanwhile, is in an uproar as preparations are underway for the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons arrivals. The three schools are quite different from one another, with Durmstrang already visibly representing a darker masculine personality, while the Beauxbatons appear to have a more serene, feminine persona (though there are male students); Hogwarts embodies all these traits. Whether their interactions can build harmony or instead create discord will be tested. And though Dumbledore helped revive the Triwizard Tournament to build alliances among the three schools, it also places him under immense pressure to present Hogwarts, and its teachers and students, in the best possible fashion. Being the host institution has disadvantages, however. The Beauxbatons and Durmstrang schools remain unseen, and they can showcase only their brightest and most accomplished pupils, while Hogwarts and all its staff and students are on full display, even those less adept than others. Enhancing Durmstrang's image is Viktor Krum, the famed Bulgarian Seeker who played in the Quidditch World Cup Final, though Harry is at least equally famous. Krum, an international sports star, is an unexpected surprise, particularly to many excited female students who we expect will be vying for his attention, and to Ron, who idolizes him as a hero. We may suspect, from the preferential treatment he seems to be receiving, that Krum is the favored candidate to become the Durmstrang Triwizard Champion.
It should be noted that the action in the book apparently takes place in 1994 and 1995; but the other schools' arrival date, October 30, 1994, is not a Friday but a Sunday. This does not affect the story in any way; the discrepancy is noted only as a curiosity rather than as something the scholar should be concerned with. It may be worth mentioning, however, that the book is internally consistent; every date for which a day of the week is mentioned is off by two days.
- Why does Harry write to Sirius again?
- Is Hermione correct that Harry is lying to Sirius in his letter? What does Harry say?
- Why does Hermione object to Professor Moody teaching the Unforgivable Curses, even though Dumbledore gave his approval to do so? What is Moody's response?
- Why do the teachers fear that some Hogwarts students will fail to impress the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons visitors? Do Durmstrang and Beauxbatons have an advantage over Hogwarts in this regard? If so, how?
- Why does Ron consider Hufflepuff student, Cedric Diggory, an unsuitable competitor for the Triwizard Tournament? Is he correct?
- What does Hermione have to say regarding Ron's objection to Cedric as a Champion, and why does Ron disagree with her opinion?
- How can Sirius, a hunted fugitive, help Harry by returning to England? Is his decision to return wise or reckless, or even both?
- Why does Hermione choose to remain in class, even though Moody gives her permission to be excused during the Unforgivable Curses demonstration?
- Why does Professor Trelawney continually praise Ron and Harry for their increasingly outlandish predictions, even though none come true? What does this say about Trelawney's abilities as the Divination teacher?
- Why did no one know that the World Cup Quidditch champion, Viktor Krum, is still a student?
While nothing has been stated anywhere in the books so far, we have an informal belief that there is something odd about Hagrid; he is too large and hairy to be believed to be fully human, and his size seems, so far, unique in the Wizarding world. It is a partial relief to discover, with Madam Maxime's arrival, that he is not the only one so oversized. It is hardly surprising that Hagrid, upon seeing Madam Maxime for the first time, is instantly smitten, and it seems appropriate that they eventually spend time together. This will cause some difficulty, however; while Hagrid confesses, privately, to Madame Maxime that he is half-Giant, she denies having any such heritage, and is insulted when Hagrid suggests there is some Giant in her background. This also causes further difficulty as Hagrid is overheard by Rita Skeeter, who publishes his confession in the Daily Prophet. As Giants are still large, fierce, and destructive, this creates a certain backlash against Hagrid's employment and causes him to tender his resignation as Care of Magical Creatures teacher. Dumbledore, of course, refuses to accept Hagrid's resignation, and many other students and staff rally to his support.
Readers should probably note that Snape is emphasizing antidotes in his Potions class this year. While they only play a small part in this book, some of what Harry learns here will be useful in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Ron is accidentally poisoned. It is true that Harry fears being deliberately poisoned by Snape, as Snape proposes to use that technique to test the students' antidotes, but he escapes that possibility due to the Weighing of the Wands ceremony.
The Skrewts will remain puzzling to Harry; in the end, there are only two left, and in the final Task maze, Harry will encounter and disable one. It is never determined what they eat, and it is suggested that these are a new hybrid of two existing species. Apart from the ongoing travails regarding their care, however, they play a minor role in the story. Interestingly, Draco challenges Hagrid over how he expects the students to handle the Skrewts, which causes Hagrid to stand up to him. Harry seems to think Hagrid is showing an uncharacteristic amount of backbone in this instance.
- Harry's having learned to resist the Imperius curse will be revisited later in this book, when Voldemort attempts to cast it on him. Voldemort's failure, in front of the entire group of Death Eaters, to place Harry under this curse may be the reason the curse is never again attempted on him.
- Snape's teaching antidotes will once again result in mention of a bezoar, just before Christmas. Antidotes, and bezoars, will appear again in our story in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the information about bezoars will then save Ron's life.
- Viktor Krum, who as mentioned entered our story in the Quidditch World Cup at the start of this book, will continue to be a small part of Hermione's life throughout the series, inspiring Ron's (initially unwitting) jealousy.