Chapter 27 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Padfoot Returns
After the Second Task, everyone wants to hear what happened in the lake, which makes Ron much in demand. His stories become more embellished with each retelling until Hermione acidly suggests that the only way he could have battled Merpeople would have been to snore at them. After that, Ron reverts to the original enchanted-sleep version.
The cold, windy March weather causes delays in the owl post. The Friday before the March Hogsmeade weekend, Harry receives an owl letter from Sirius, asking Harry to be at the stile beyond Dervish and Banges at two o'clock Saturday and to bring food. Harry wonders how Sirius dares to be in Hogsmeade, but Ron notes it is no longer swarming with Dementors.
In Potions class, a sniggering Pansy Parkinson tosses Hermione a copy of Witch Weekly. In it, Rita Skeeter's article, Harry Potter's Secret Heartache, insinuates Hermione is Harry's girlfriend, but is abandoning him for Viktor Krum. Hermione is unimpressed, even by Pansy Parkinson's quote hinting that Hermione might be using love potions. Hermione wonders how Skeeter knew that Krum had invited her for a summer visit while ignoring Ron's wanting to know her answer. Professor Snape penalizes Gryffindor ten points for Hermione's talking and ten more for having Witch Weekly in class. He then reads Rita Skeeter's article aloud, inciting the Slytherins' gales of laughter. Snape then separates the three, placing Harry at the table immediately facing his desk. In a soft undertone, Snape accuses Harry of stealing Boomslang skin and Gillyweed from his stores. Harry remembers Hermione stealing Boomslang skin during their second year to brew the Polyjuice potion and that Dobby swiped the Gillyweed, but he innocently claims he knows nothing about it. Snape produces a vial containing Veritaserum, threateningly telling Harry it would cause him to babble his innermost secrets.
Igor Karkaroff enters the dungeon wanting to speak to Snape, who says they can talk when class is over. To stay after, Harry knocks his cauldron over, and, crouched down to clean it up, sees Karkaroff show Snape his left forearm. Karkaroff says, "It has never been that clear, not since . . ." Snape orders him to put it away, they can discuss it later. Karkaroff leaves, and Harry decides it would be a good idea to do likewise.
On Saturday, Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off for Hogsmeade village, taking food along for Sirius. They buy socks for Dobby, then head past Dervish and Banges, finding a stile and a familiar-looking black dog. The dog leads them to a cave in the surrounding mountainside. Inside, Buckbeak is tethered. The dog transforms into Sirius, and, famished from surviving mostly on rats, tears into the chicken. Harry's letters have made events sound increasingly suspicious, especially when combined with what is reported in the Daily Prophet. Sirius also remarks that Crouch being sick and taking days off is unusual. When Hermione comments he is getting his just desserts for firing his House-elf, Winky, Harry recounts the Quidditch World Cup and his wand being stolen. Sirius suggests someone could have lifted it while Harry was still in his box seat. Ron suspects Lucius Malfoy, but Hermione reminds them Ludo Bagman was also there. Sirius wonders why Bagman wants to help Harry win the Tournament. Sirius also mentions that it was Crouch, who then headed the Aurors, that sent him to Azkaban without a trial. Crouch championed using more forceful measures against suspected Death Eaters, achieving some results. He had been tapped as the next Minister for Magic until his son, Barty Crouch, Jr., was found with Death Eaters who were attempting to return Voldemort to power. Crouch presided over his own son's trial and sentenced him to Azkaban. Crouch and his wife made a deathbed visit to their son, and Sirius later saw Dementors burying him. Crouch lost his son, his wife (who died shortly after), and his shot at the Ministry, eventually getting shunted aside to the Department of International Magical Cooperation.
Sirius suspects Crouch wants to revive his career by capturing one last Dark wizard, though it seems unlikely he would make a special trip to Hogwarts just to search Snape's office. He had ample opportunity when he was there recently. Regarding Snape being a Death Eater, Sirius says Snape certainly associated with Slytherins who became Death Eaters: Rosier and Wilkes; Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband; and Avery. Snape, however, was never accused. Harry mentions Snape and Karkaroff knowing each other and how Karkaroff showed Snape something on his arm, though Sirius does not know what that could be. Sirius asks Ron to learn what he can from Percy about Mr. Crouch's illness and also about Bertha Jorkins' disappearance. Sirius disputes Bagman's assertion in a Daily Prophet article that Bertha had a poor memory. In school, she had an excellent one, at least for gossip. Sirius asks to be updated on any new information and reminds them to address letters to him as "Snuffles." He returns to his dog form, and they all head back to the village, where Sirius departs to scrounge for another newspaper. Ron wonders if Percy knew about Mr. Crouch, but concludes that he would probably approve Crouch refusing to bend the rules for his own son; Percy loves rules after all.
Although Hermione deflates Ron's exaggerated boasts about his participation in the second task, he nonetheless remains rather pleased with himself, basking in some unfamiliar but welcomed attention that is, for once, separate from Harry's celebrity. Meanwhile, Harry must defend himself for something he did not do—pilfering Snape's stores. Snape certainly has some legitimate reason to suspect Harry. During Harry's second year, as mentioned above, Hermione stole Boomslang skin and Bicorn horn from Snape's office to make Polyjuice Potion. No doubt Harry remembers this, and he clearly believes Snape is talking about that occasion. The Gillyweed most certainly is more recent than that; Harry knows that Dobby had stolen it, so that Harry could get his "Wheezy" back. Though Harry can rightfully protest that he was not involved in either theft, he does believe that he knows who was responsible in both cases.
Readers, along with the boys in the school, have watched Hermione blossom from a smart, but rather plain, girl into an intelligent, pretty young woman. Despite new-found male attention, she avoids developing an inflated ego as other girls might, or relying on manipulative feminine wiles to obtain what she wants. Instead, she remains grounded and unaffected as she matures in more significant ways, never feeling too intimidated to use her abilities and intellect. Unfazed by Pansy Parkinson's and Snape's feeble attempts to embarrass her in class, Hermione merely shrugs it off, and, ignoring Ron's inquiries about Krum, instead focuses her attention on uncovering how Rita Skeeter learned about Krum's invitation. Considering her usual determination, she likely will pursue this until she has found an answer. And though Hermione now apparently has a potential (if currently one-sided) romantic relationship with Viktor, her loyalty is only to Hogwarts and her friends, and she is committed to helping Harry succeed in each task, help for which she rarely seeks any credit.
Having returned to England, and now with his meeting Harry in Hogsmeade, Sirius shows his devotion and concern for his godson. There is a huge risk that he could be caught and, as a fugitive, there is actually little he can do to help Harry. Sirius thrives on risk taking, however, and his long confinement in Azkaban and being on the run may have impaired his judgment somewhat. Regardless, the Trio are delighted to see him, and Harry especially is revitalized by having his godfather close by, giving him the love and emotional security he sorely craves but rarely feels. Sirius also provides the Trio some valuable information, including much about Mr. Crouch, a man who was apparently so cold-heartedly dedicated to his job that he would convict and sentence his own son to life imprisonment in Azkaban for having been found with Death Eaters, though it was never proved if Barty was actually one himself. Whether or not Crouch Jr. deserved such a severe punishment, most fathers in that situation would have recused themselves to allow another judge to preside over the case. Crouch's motive appears to have been to protect or enhance his own reputation by showing he would unhesitatingly mete out justice to anyone, even to his own son. But the scandal forever tainted his career, and he was consequently demoted to a relatively menial position. Sirius is also particularly curious as to why Mr. Crouch's saved seat at the World Cup remained empty, questioning why someone so involved in the Tournament is apparently off doing something else.
Bagman stated for the Daily Prophet that Bertha Jorkins had a bad memory. While that claim was apparently untrue when Sirius knew her in school, the implication is that her memory had since deteriorated or been magically altered before she vanished.
Harry wonders why Ludo Bagman always wants to help him with the Tournament. While it is possible that Bagman is a Death Eater and may have been attempting to put Harry in harm's way, there may be other reasons. We have already seen that Bagman is a gambler, and while there is still too little evidence regarding this, he may be trying to influence the Tournament's outcome because he is wagering on Harry to win. Sirius seems to re-enforce Harry's suspicions when he also wonders what Bagman's motive might be in helping Harry.
- What does Karkaroff show Snape on his arm? Why does he accuse Snape of avoiding him? Is he right?
- How does Ron's version of his underwater experience compare to Hermione's? What accounts for this difference?
- Has Boomslang skin been seen before? If so, where, and what was it used for?
- Why is Sirius suspicious about Mr. Crouch's illness?
- Why doesn't Harry repair his water-damaged wristwatch with a Reparo spell?
- How did Rita Skeeter know that Viktor Krum invited Hermione to visit him? Why is Ron interested in knowing how Hermione responded?
- Why does Snape suspect that it was Harry who broke into his office? Are Snape's suspicions justified?
- Who might be stealing the Boomslang skin and why?
- Why would Mr. Crouch have presided over his own son's trial and sentence him to Azkaban prison rather than allow another judge to oversee the case?
- If Bertha Jorkins had an excellent a memory in school as Sirius claims, why would she recently have had problems with it?
- Why would Ludo Bagman want to help Harry win the Tournament?
- Why does Sirius think Mr. Crouch's seat remaining empty at the Quidditch World Cup is significant?
While Harry seems to believe that the Boomslang skin theft is from two years back, we will discover that it is a more recent occurrence. Shortly after Harry sees Bartemius Crouch in Snape's office on the Marauder's Map, Snape discovers Boomslang skin is again missing. It is reasonable to assume that Snape would connect the missing Boomslang skin to his office being broken into, which happened the same night. It is further reasonable that Snape, believing Harry to be out after hours when the Egg and the Marauder's Map are found, suspects that Harry may be involved in making some unauthorized potion. Harry, of course, has no idea that anyone is using Polyjuice Potion, so he can only make a connection to Hermione's earlier theft. Interestingly, Snape does not seem to suspect that Hermione may be involved, even though she is apparently far more adept at Potions than Harry, and it was she who brewed the Polyjuice Potion two years before. Of course, Snape does not actually know about the earlier episode as far as we can tell.
Although Harry has yet to figure this out, it was actually Barty Crouch, Jr. who was in Snape's office the night Harry was nearly caught by Snape and Filch. Barty Jr. is, as we later discover, using Polyjuice Potion to disguise himself as Moody; when Harry saw who he believed was Crouch Sr. on the Marauder's Map, it was actually Barty Jr. getting the necessary potion ingredients for his next batch.
Readers learn that Bartemius Crouch, Sr. sentenced Barty, Jr. to Azkaban, demonstrating how he mercilessly convicted any Death Eater, even his own son. However, it will be revealed later that it was Crouch Sr., along with his dying wife, who planned and executed the successful scheme to free Barty, Jr. from Azkaban. While Barty confesses that Bartemius had arranged Barty's escape at his mother's (Bartemius' wife's) request, Bartemius' actions were probably motivated by something more than a father rescuing his son from a miserable fate—a fate that he personally dealt him. Bartemius was an ambitious, dedicated, and rather ruthless Ministry official who was on track to become Minister for Magic. By convicting Barty, Bartemius may have been attempting to protect his own career by displaying no partiality. However, the embarrassing scandal and the ensuing fallout caused the Ministry of Magic to shunt Bartemius aside into a relatively unimportant and low-profile job, forever derailing his lofty goals. Freeing Barty may partly have been a vengeful act against the Ministry for their callous ill-treatment. Indeed, there appears to have been little love between father and son that would have compelled Bartemius to free him, and Bartemius had openly disowned his son. If Mrs. Crouch's plan was to save Barty from lifelong incarceration, leaving him locked up in the Crouch home was little improvement over his previous situation, and certainly not what she would have wished. Bartemius had little choice but to keep his son confined, however, rightly suspecting that Barty would bolt and attempt to return to Voldemort's service. The parent-child relationship is complicated, ever-changing, and has many facets, and though Bartemius may have sought retaliation against the Ministry, he may also have been unable to live with what he had doomed his son to, as well as wanting to honor his wife's dying wish.
Sirius says he has no idea if Barty, Jr. was a Death Eater, only that he was found in the company of known Death Eaters, including Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius' cousin. It will be revealed that Barty is indeed a loyal Death Eater who participated in torturing into insanity the Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom to extract information about what had happened to Voldemort. Neville has never revealed to his classmates what happened to his parents, but Harry learns about this in a later chapter; at Dumbledore's request, Harry keeps Neville's secret to himself.
When speaking about Bartemius Crouch, Sirius tells Harry, "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." We will see later with Kreacher that Sirius, at least in this respect, does not treat his subordinate well. However, Kreacher is half-mad and fanatically loyal to the late Mrs. Black, who disowned her son, and he despises Sirius. This may partially account for Sirius' unkind treatment.
Sirius also mentions that Snape was never accused of being a Death Eater. This is not quite true: we find out later that he had been accused, but Dumbledore vouched for his having become a double agent before Voldemort fell.
By this book's end, we will learn the story behind Bertha Jorkins. Bertha, who has been missing and is eventually found to be dead, worked for Bartemius Crouch Sr. She happened to visit his home when Bartemius was gone and accidentally discovered that Barty, recently escaped from Azkaban, was alive and being hidden there. Either Bartemius or Winky, the Crouch's House-elf, used a memory charm on her to protect their secret. This charm, as it had to mask out large areas of recollection, apparently affected her overall memory. Soon after, she was transferred to Ludo Bagman's department. Ludo, who had never met her before the memory charm had been applied, only knew her when she was having spell-induced memory problems, prompting his comment to the Daily Prophet about her poor memory.
- While it is never actually proven, the memory problems ascribed to Bertha Jorkins seem similar to those that Neville is having. From Sirius' description, we now suspect that Bertha's are caused by a memory charm. It is possible that Neville's are caused by a memory charm cast by his grandmother in an attempt to help him forget the torture he may have witnessed his parents being subjected to. We note that the otherwise redoubtable Mrs. Longbottom is later revealed to have failed her Charms O.W.L. exam.
- Sirius says "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." In the next book, we will see how Sirius treats his house-elf, Kreacher. The contrast with how Harry treats Kreacher in the final book actually tells us a great deal about Sirius and Harry.
- Veritaserum will appear later in this book when Barty is being questioned, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Harry believes Professor Umbridge is trying to get him to tell her where Dumbledore is, and finally in that same book when Umbridge demands Snape provide more to assist in her questioning of Harry after finding him in her fireplace.