The Four Champions

chapter seventeen of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

A stunned Harry walks into the room off the Great Hall, where he is soon joined by the adults in charge of the Tournament. Karkaroff and Madame Maxime are irate, but nobody can think of any course of action except to let Harry compete. Finally he goes up to his dorm, where Ron is waiting, furious at Harry for seeking more attention and not telling how he got his name in the Goblet.

Hermione and Ron, by glockgal

Harry turned to Ron and Hermione…. “I didn’t put my name in,” Harry said blankly. “You know I didn’t.” Both of them stared just as blankly back.


The Triwizard Champions, by Miri

Viktor Krum, Cedric Diggory, and Fleur Delacour were grouped around the fire. They looked strangely impressive, silhouetted against the flames.

(by Miri)


Zis Little Boy, by gerre

“Madame Maxime!” said Fleur at once, striding over to her headmistress. “Zey are saying zat zis little boy is to compete also!”

(by gerre)


Harry Potter 4th Year, by Chantelle

Somewhere under Harry’s numb disbelief he felt a ripple of anger. Little boy?


Prof. "Mad-Eye" Moody, by Sebastian Theilig

“Maybe someone’s hoping Potter is going to die for it,” said Moody, with the merest trace of a growl.


Dumbledore, by sharpfish

“How this situation arose, we do not know,” said Dumbledore speaking to everyone gathered in the room. “It seems to me, however, that we have no choice but to accept it…. If you have an alternative, I would be delighted to hear it.”


Ron, by Maria Abagnale

“Yeah, okay,” said Ron. “Only you said this morning you’d have done it last night, and no one would’ve seen you…. I’m not stupid, you know.”


about the chapter


This strikes me as one of those chapters where it would be almost as interesting to see what’s happening to everyone else as it is to see what’s happening to Harry. When his name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, the Great Hall sits in stunned silence and occasional whispering – but after he left the room, what happened next? Dumbledore must have dismissed everyone rather quickly, but somewhere in there the Hufflepuffs, Slytherins, and Ravenclaws must have begun talking about Harry’s dirty trick, while the Gryffindors must have begun celebrating their champion to be in such a jovial mood by the time he reaches Gryffindor Tower, though even they seem to be “half annoyed” at first. And what would the other teachers have been doing?

Something You May Not Have Noticed

Almost as notable as the Hogwarts professors who join the discussion about the tournament (McGonagall, Snape, and Moody) is one professor who doesn’t join – Professor Sprout. Surely, as one of the students in her house has also been chosen for the tournament, she’d want to be there? Perhaps she’s too upset over Harry’s name coming out of the Goblet, or perhaps the plan was simply for the Tournament judges and champions to attend, but the three others joined anyway because they had an active interest in the irregularity of Harry’s name coming forth. But you have to wonder if she considered rushing in along with the others, and if so, why she decided not to join.

The Power of Magic

Once Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, it’s easy to imagine Dumbledore’s mind racing trying to figure out what the heck is going on. One of the possibilities he’s considering seems to be ways the Age Line could have been broken – for he does ask Harry first whether he put his name in, and second whether he had an older student do it for him (surely Dumbledore put up protection against this, but is it possible he’s since spotted a potential flaw in the spell?). Regardless, it’s surely not lost on him that Harry’s came out not as the Hogwarts champion, but as a fourth champion instead. But how – and why? I wonder how many theories he must have concocted in the few minutes as the group discusses the issues. And then, at the end of the meeting, he offers ‘a nightcap’ to the other adults – which just might have had more to do with his wanting to figure out what had happened than with his desire to socialize. I wonder how much sleep he got that night.

Life at Hogwarts

The Goblet of Fire is such a mysterious magical object. Where did it come from? Who enchanted it? Why was it given the spell to create a “binding magical contract” with anyone whose name comes out of it? And, more importantly for Harry (and, in this moment, Dumbledore), what happens to someone who fails to live up to that contract? Clearly the object is many centuries old, and whatever the terms of that contract are, they have to be pretty fierce for Dumbledore himself to insist on Harry’s entrance into the tournament. The thought of Harry entering has to be scary for someone who’s devoted much of the past fourteen years to keeping him safe, but if the alternative is scarier… I shudder to think what it might be.

23 Responses to “The Four Champions”

  1. Congradulations on having a baby boy!
    I never even noticed that Professor Sprout wasn’t there. She doesn’t appear too often actually.
    I wonder if anything would have happened if Harry did not participate, would the Goblet of Fire have forced him to do it or something?

  2. Congrats with your new family member! I hope you, mother, and baby are all well!

    It’s interesting to note that Sprout wasn’t there. As you suggested, maybe he ws kind of annoyed that Harry was a champion that she declined going in. While Snape and McGonagall would have a great interest in Harry…

    I wonder if putting your name in the Goblet of Fire is like making an unbreakable vow? That could explain why Dumbledore said Harry would have to go through the triwizard tournament, because otherwise he would die.

  3. Well done to both parents! May we know the young gentleman’s name??

  4. Congratulations, Josie! All my best to you and your family. :)

    I agree with Maggie, as soon as I learned about Unbreakable Vows, I figured the same magic was used in the creation of the Triwizrd Cup and it’s ‘magical contact.’ And thanks for pointing out the Sprout bit, I hadn’t realized that she wasn’t there or that she should be there but your explanation brings up a good point. :)

  5. Oh yeah, the Unbreakable Vow never crossed my mind. There’s so much magic that never even made it into the books!

  6. Congratulations!
    I always thought that Dumbledore asked Harry these two questions not to hear the actual answer, but maybe to make Harry force to think about how he put it in, which would have allowed Dumbledore to look into Harry’s mind and find out the real answer. So he dind’t as much tried to find the flaw in his own thinking, as that he tried to find a way into Harry’s mind and wanted to know Harry was speaking the truth. And maybe he asked Harry both questione (and not just one) because he feared the world was in a lot of trouble if Harry hadn’t put it in, almost wishing that Harry actually had been clever enough to fool Dumbledore himself.
    just some thoughts… :P

  7. kim: I love your thoughts almost as much as Josie’s. What a great idea–Dumbledore using Legilimancy to ascertain whether or not he put his name in the cup.

  8. I’ve wondered a lot how often Dumbledore uses Legilimency (or how often Snape does, for that matter). Might be the topic of a future essay calling my name….

    Either way kim, I agree with Natalia – a great idea, and not one that had occurred to me.

  9. It could be that the Goblet of Fire’s magical contract is the same as the unbreakalbe vow that we see in HBP

  10. Just wanna say that the portrait of Dumbledore is absolutely perfect – it’s exactly how I imagine him!
    As to the Sprout bit, I guess she thought it wasn’t her place to be fussing about Harry’s entrance, though I’m guessing she had a few angry words with Dumbledore later that evening. I’m just wondering why on earth Snape went – he doesn’t have that much seniority as a teacher, he’s not connected to Harry or any other champion. He just always sticks his “abnormally large nose” where it doesn’t belong, whereas Sprout and Flitwick have the sense not to turn this event into a staff party. Also, Sprout and McGonagall seem to be really good friends, so Sprout was probably counting on her and Dumbledore to settle this.

  11. hpboy13: I just have to let you know how happy your “staff party” comment made me. :) I have this wonderful visual of everyone kind of standing near the punch bowl (Dumbledore, jovial; McGonagall, stern and proper with her pinky sticking out from the teacup; others being pretty relaxed) but mostly Snape, flitting in and out of circles, hovering over teachers’ shoulders, making mental notes of what the conversations are and participating (albeit, sneeringly) in the “important ones.”

  12. I like Kim’s idea about legilimancy. Also the “unbreakable vow” parallel, which we didn’t know about when we first read this. I wonder if (aside from having the sense not to turn it into a “staff party”), Prof. Sprout stayed back to calm down her students, who would be understandably upset that their moment of glory was tarnished.

  13. So many times in the series we see Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape meeting, but Sprout and Flitwick are rarely at these soirees. I guess someone has to run the school when these 3 authorities are off taking care of Harry. In this instance, someone was left behind to dismiss the students (for they’re all gone when the champions head to bed). And unless the head boy and girl do that, it makes sense for Sprout and Flitwick.

    It’s certainly a good theory, but I just don’t see Dumbledore using Legilimancy on Harry to determine if he’s lying. I think he trusts Harry more than that. And doesn’t Rowling often write that Harry felt as if Snape were reading his mind way before we learn he actually is? So wouldn’t Harry feel Dumbledore doing the same thing?

  14. @Laura: We read often when Dumbledore stares at Harry, it’s like he’s seeing right through him. Plus, as we learn later, Dumbledore basically trusts no one when he has a choice. :)
    This “magical contract” business seems really poorly thought out to me. Putting Harry’s name in the cup is the magical equivalent of signing his name to a contract to be on a reality TV show without his consent. It makes zero sense how that could possibly be binding.

    And who is this contract with anyway? If it’s just the three schools and all three wished to disallow Harry, who would be left to contest it? This (and the fact that Dumbledore didn’t simply choose not to say Harry’s name and pocket the paper) implies that the cup itself or some other entity imposes some grievous penalty should one refuse.

    Has no wizard ever realized how abusive that could be? Could an older student who didn’t like Neville toss in Neville’s name in hopes he died? For that matter, could Dumbledore write “Tom Riddle – Hogwarts,” toss it into the cup, and force Voldemort to suffer the consequences (since he’s obviously not going to notify Voldemort to come compete), even if he had to confund the cup to do it?

    I really cannot find a way to make sense of this mess, other than Jo either didn’t think it through or couldn’t come up with anything better.

  15. Anna, I like your theory that Sprout stayed behind to calm down her own students.

  16. With regards to Sprout – I don’t think she’d be required there. To be honest, Cedric is representing the school here, not his house. McGonagall would be there partly because she’s deputy in command and partly out of concern over Harry and the situation. Likewise with Snape… Most don’t notice, but Snape is always around when Harry is in trouble, in need of help or whatever. It’s always Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape (someone mentioned this earlier). Why? Not because he’s nosy – but we find out in a later book that he’s required to by Dumbledore to overlook Harry and obviously in this situation, he’d be required there. I mean, why would Snape be there otherwise, he doesn’t have a student in the running – likewise with Flitwick.

  17. I agree with you about Snape, Samantha. Snape is there because his job is to protect Harry for Dumbledore, whether he likes it or not. Throughout the books, it seems like Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape form this kind of holy trinity at the school. However, even if Cedric is supposed to be representing his school, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Hufflepuffs feel pride over the fact that it’s one of them, who everyone thinks are duffers. I mean, they all explode into cheers when he is picked, and glare at Ron when he says he doesn’t want him to be picked. These are indicators that it means a lot to them. I don’t think Sprout would feel any differently. Though, she’d be the mature one about it since she’s a professor. I think she was definitely either calming them, or bringing them under control. I can just imagine how mutinous they would be, and a fight with the Gryffindors may have almost broke out! We never know.

    Douglas, if the binding magical contract is like the Unbreakable Vow, which I believe it to be, I don’t think someone could just throw in any name and hope it kills that person for not competing. Dumbledore wouldn’t just be able to turn on the Goblet and use it against Voldemort, cause the Goblet only activates during a Tournament, as Bagman said. And in the long run, even if he could do that, it wouldn’t kill Voldemort anyway cause of the Horcruxes. And if another student didn’t like some other student, threw their name in the Goblet, I’m guessing Dumbledore would have to have them compete, right? He’s not just going to let a student die that way.

  18. I like the theory that asking the questions was more to focus Harry’s mind on how his name was entered so that Dumbledore could use a subtle Legilimancy to read what was there. Harry always says that, when the piercing blue gaze fell upon him, he felt like he was being X-rayed.

    As for the “holy trinity” of Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape, I tend to think of Minerva and Severus as the angel and devil sitting on Dumbledore’s shoulders.

  19. I’ve never bought the binding magical contract thing. Did the people who enchanted the goblet make it so that those who broke the contract died? And even so, Harry did not willingly make the contract. It is tantamount to someone forging your name. Once the forgery is discovered, the contract becomes void. At least in muggle America. The fact that he is underage should be considered, too. In the States, minors are not allowed to sign contracts without their guardian co-signing, if at all. Bottom line, Harry should not have been forced to participate in the tournament. Dumbledore should have done everything in his power to get Harry out of it. It’s not like he’s incapable of manipulating the system when it suits him. Not doing so was either laziness or, more likely, a way to find out what’s going on. I’d be willing to bet he suspects Voldemort is involved, even if he can’t see how.

  20. Jen, I don’t think the Goblet would acknowledge the fact that Harry’s name was put into it unwillingly, so therefore it wouldn’t void the contract. They stress about how powerful this magical object is, and if it’s that difficult to hoodwink to choose a champion, then it would be even more difficult, if not impossible (which I’m getting that it is), to get it to void the contract that’s been made. It’s also made clear that there have been younger students participating in the Triwizard Tournament before, as this is the first year they’ve introduced the “17 and above” rule. I think at this point, it was impossible for Dumbledore to right the wrongs that happened, otherwise he wouldn’t have allowed it to continue. Maybe this is just my deluded image of who Dumbledore is, even after everything he puts Harry through, but he still tells Harry at the end of OotP that he cared too much for him. I doubt he could say that with a straight face if he were intentionally putting him through an extremely dangerous task such as the Triwizard Tournament. Anyway, Dumbledore is powerful, but not *all-powerful*. He has his limits, and I think this is one of them. He wouldn’t be able to void the contract as much as he could void an Unbreakable Vow, if we’re correct in assuming what happens to someone who signs the contract and then backs out when they’re chosen.

  21. I LOVE that this chapter shows one of the few times that McGonagall explicitly stands up for Harry (or anyone, really) against Snape. Considering that Slytherin must have been winning the House cup generally due to McGonagall’s fairness and Snape’s favoritism, she has to have SOME ill-feeling against him. But all we ever see is the “angry look” she gives him here and her obsession with keeping the Quidditch Cup in her study.

  22. Just yesterday I re-read this chapter and noticed for the first time that it`s remarkable that Snape is there and Sprout isn`t (and I`ve read this part loads of time), I guess one gets so used to Snape being around when there`s trouble that it`s hard to pay much attention to the fact that it is quite weird for a normal teacher. This scene probably is another hint to his role as a guardian for Harry; if he had been getting involved always just to get another chance to sneer at Harry then Dumbledore probably would have put an end to this, so these situations can really tell us a lot about DD-Snape.

  23. Like Harry, I’d probably get a little angry as well if, at 14, a 17 year old called me little boy like Fleur did to Harry.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: