The Weighing of the Wands

chapter eighteen of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Hermione and Harry take a walk, discussing all that’s happened, and Harry writes Sirius. Then before Potions, Malfoy shows off his “Potter Stinks” buttons and Hermione gets hit with a curse (which Snape cruelly ignores). Finally, before Snape can poison him Harry is pulled from class to interview with Rita Skeeter and have his wand weighed for the Triwizard Tournament.

Brother and Sister, by Hannah-Dora

Harry told Hermione exactly what had happened after he had left the Gryffindor table the night before. To his immense relief, Hermione accepted his story without question.


Beaver Hermione, by reallycorking

He forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth – she was doing her best to hide them with her hands, though this was difficult as they had now grown down past her collar.


Snape's Dungeon, by Sheena Kristen Sy

Snape’s eyes met Harry’s, and Harry knew what was coming. Snape was going to poison him.


Rita Skeeter, by lberghol

“I wonder if I could have a little word with Harry before we start?” she said to Bagman, but still gazing fixedly at Harry. ‘The youngest champion, you know… to add a bit of color?”


Close Interview, by Laura Freeman

She reached again into her crocodile bag and drew out a long acid-green quill and a roll of parchment.


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

It’s sort of funny, when you think about it, that Rita Skeeter chose the phrase “obsolete dingbat” to describe Dumbledore – because, as she says, “some of your ideas are a little old-fashioned.” Dumbledore may be old, but most of his ideas are really quite progressive – for instance, his insistence on protecting Muggles and Muggle-born wizards; his willingness to pay Dobby; or his treating other creatures and “half-breeds” like Hagrid and the centaurs with respect. There are plenty of wizards who don’t like Dumbledore much, and there are many names I can see them calling him, but “obsolete” doesn’t strike me as one that he would hear too often.

The Wizarding World

When you think about it, it’s a little amazing that Quick-Quotes Quills are even legal. Rita Skeeter gives the Ministry fits on a regular basis, and given the blatant misrepresentation of facts that the Quill is prone to, it isn’t hard to imagine the Ministry would have outlawed it altogether. On the other hand, this is Rita Skeeter we’re talking about; given how quickly she hid it from view when Dumbledore arrived, maybe it is outlawed but she’s continuing to use it anyway.

Life at Hogwarts

It’s hard for me to think of an example of a teacher being nastier, dirtier, or lower than Snape is when he tells Hermione he “sees no difference” with her teeth growing past her collar. Snape is a fascinating character in many ways, but at times like this it’s hard for me to fathom where people are coming from who seem to be in love with him. He’s just a disgusting individual.

Something to Remember

It’s a fair assumption that Dumbledore is keeping a pretty close eye on Harry this year, given his fears of why and how his name got entered into the Tournament. So Dumbledore surely wouldn’t fail to notice that Harry’s best friend, Ron, is going weeks without speaking to him. Why would Dumbledore care? Suffice it to say it matters to him for more reasons than just Harry’s happiness and well-being. Ron doesn’t realize it, but Dumbledore’s awareness of who he is will come into play just a few years down the road.

The Final Word

“Snape is the – er – very sadistic teacher loosely based on a teacher I myself had, I have to say. I think children are very aware – and we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think that they are – that teachers do sometimes abuse their power and this particular teacher does abuse his power.”
“It’s fun to write about Snape, even though he’s a deeply horrible person.”
–J.K. Rowling, October 1999 (2 interviews)

23 Responses to “The Weighing of the Wands”

  1. I loved what you wrote on something to remember. You can indeed draw lines from this faal-out to something in the future.
    In Snape’s defence (though I really hate him too): I doubt if he would be this cruel if Hermione hadn’t been Harry’s best friend and if it hadn’t been Harry dueling against the slytherins.

    I always thought that the Quick-quotes-quill wasn’t just writing it’s own version, but was actually writing what Rita was thinking at that moment to write. So even if it had been a normal quill, the interview (once edited in Rita-style) would have looked exacly the same.

  2. Given that Rita has other illegal activities under her belt, I don’t see her having a problem using the QQQ for her articles. But you’d figure the Ministry would have her on probation somehow since she does seem to cause quite a stir anytime one of her articles is released.

    I agree with kim–I love your “Something to Remember” this chapter. It’s very sweet that Dumbledore paid that much attention to Harry’s personal life to know about the nature of his friends.

  3. The “Something to Remember” here is remarkable. I had never given that a second of thought. In fact, I had to re-read it here a few times just to understand what you meant. Fantastic insight.

  4. While (in retrospect) I do understand (though not condone) Snape’s hostility towards Harry, and respect JKR enormously for making Snape such a complicated and interesting individual, in this particular moment (as well as with Snape ridiculing Neville to another teacher *in front of his classmates*) he is really quite despicable.

    I mean, a secondary school teacher basically calling an opposite-sex student ugly in front of her classmates and on the other hand ignoring her need for medical attention?

  5. I think ‘obselete dingbat’ was put in more for the sound of it than the actual meaning.

  6. Not to offend any Snape fans, but JKR herself says it in that quote up there, “Snape . . . [is] a deeply horrible person.” I just can’t get behind idolizing him–his personality is too harsh, he enjoys patronizing too much, etc. I understand his redeeming qualities (he came back to the good side, for heaven’s sake, and puts himself in perilous situations more than once) but if he were real and I met him, I’d probably try to leave after a few minutes.

  7. This is my first comment on this site after discovering it a week ago from the hp lexicon. You should be congratulated on the quality and depth of the Harry Potter artwork you’ve referenced. Laurence Peguy’s work has simply blown me away. If you need a rec for more artists, then look at Hito76’s work. Her Harry Potter webpage is at and is well worth the effort.

    You’re spot-on with the Snape analysis in this section. The way he treats Hermione, Neville, Remus and Tonks is horrible and shows how deeply miserable he is. He exercises his feelings of self-loathing and misery by treating others like garbage. He has no business being employed in the teaching profession. I agree that his comments to Hermione in this chapter are awful but the “insufferable know it all” comment from PoA will always be in my mind as a reason to hate the character even when I respect what he did as a spy…

    Thank you for your great work on this site, it’s a pleasure to read each update.

  8. Something else to remember: With all that’s going on it’s amazing that years later the name of Krum’s wandmaker rings a bell.

  9. Two words on Snape and his popularity: Alan Rickman.
    An interesting idea i thought of recently is that maybe the Quick Quotes Quill has been enchanted by Rita Skeeter to write in the way that it does, or maybe they are all programmed to match the purchasers writing style and in the hands of a more honest writer the Quill records things as they are.

  10. The Ministry isn’t a terribly democratic organization, but we might hope QQQs are legal simply for reasons of free speech.

    Either that, or, as we see, the Ministry often wants the Prophet on its side, and the paper is occasionally inclined to support it. Every politician knows to stay on a journalist’s good side; if the press doesn’t like you, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

  11. I agree with kim and Eh on the QQQ, I think it’s simply designed to write in the style of the owner. Case in point:

    “Testing, my name is Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter.”
    “Attractive blone Rita Skeeter, 43, whose savage quill has punctured many inflated reputations.”

    The first is what she says and the second is what she’s really saying.

    And I absolutely agree with you about Snape, Josie. While I respect his work as spy and do feel sorry for him at times, he is not a nice person at all and I can’t understand why so many people seem to love him as a person rather than just as a character (the latter is totally understandable).

  12. It’s interesting what you said about Snape – I’ve been recently getting irritated over how many fangirls are swooning over Snape/Lily and hating on James/Lily (despite all reason and common sense). Someone said that it has something to do with Alan Rickman, (which is true – he makes Snape actually quite lovable compared to the book version) but I can’t help but draw parallels between Twilight and Snape here (with regards to the fangirls, not JKR). People who have studied the popularity of the Twilight novels realize that there are these unhealthy ideas being presented to girls saying it’s okay to go back to a boy who abuses you, makes you feel miserable, hurts your feelings etc. The problem is, and this is what’s so scary: some girls can blindly overlook the negatives in a man and exaggerate their good points into believing these men can and do love them back. Even JKR once said “Why would anyone want Snape in love with them? What a horrible idea!” …Sometimes even I don’t understand my own species.

  13. Lancelot and Guinevere? Othello and Desdemona? Heathcliff and Catherine? If we took all the screwed up couples out of stories and replaced them with their mold-made, well-adjusted counterparts, it would leech the soul out of literature. Books are supposed to faithfully represent the human condition. If perfect characters only loved other perfect characters, what would that say but that people with flaws are incapable of giving and unworthy of receiving love? Snape had many flaws and many virtues, and which did Harry remember him for?

  14. Actually the idolatry of Snape pre-dates the casting of the movies. Long before the casting of Alan Rickman, there were middle-aged housewives (not just teenagers!) setting up fansites to declare their love.

    But it really is despicable to assume that Hermione, or any other decent woman, would fall in love with the man whom she had witnessed bullying Neville Longbottom.

  15. Snape has to hate the Golden Trio. I mean, each of them are a part of Lily. Harry has her eyes, Ron has her red hair, and Hermione’s an intelligent Muggle-born. He’s quite obviously a huge jerk, but you can’t help but feel sorry for him when you realize that the three of them together are a reminder of love lost.
    And why everyone likes Snape so much? Because we’re all hopeless romantics at heart. And Alan Rickman’s voice doesn’t hurt.

  16. “I see no difference.” Cue blood boiling. Sure, Dumbledore, mean teachers are part of life… but no one can do ANYTHING about this?? I’d want to see McGonagall’s reaction if she ever found out what Snape had said.

  17. I always thought Snape`s treatment of Neville (especially Neville, because Hermione is stronger and can put up with things) is the actual nasty and shocking part about him, not so much the fact that he joins the DE, as the latter can be – to some extent – be justified by his experiences. But bullying a child that had horrible losses and anyway lacks confidence and is laughed at often even by members of his own house, is disgusting. Sometimes I think maybe Neville reminds him a bit of Peter Pettigrew as a boy, and he must have a lot of resentment towards Wormtail, for several reasons. But in that case he really should be intelligent enough to tell the difference… I guess he just doesn`t want to, just like when he mixes up Harry and James all the time….one really important feature of Snape is his absolute stubbornness.

  18. HFS Delaney you are BRILLIANT!! Never even thought of it like that. I must admit I feel slightly embarrassed right now after reading the “Hermione’s teeth” scene as well as everyone else’s comments. How in the world could I have forgotten that? That upset me so much when I read it and yet I Still liked Snape later down the road. Well not at that moment but you get it. Obviously I have a serious case of “Draco in Leather Pants” Syndrome. I always wondered if Dumbledore ever got on Snape’s case about his attitude but I guess not since there’s never any change. DD has to be aware of it though so why doesn’t he ever attempt to stop it? Situations like that can scar students for life. It’s also what makes me admire Neville so much. I wonder how he must have felt when his worst fear ended up taking over the whole school? Leading a resistance against Snape took some serious Gryffindor courage. : )

  19. Harry is in only half the books about Voldemort? I wouldn’t think too many were published during his rampage, and why would any volumes authored after his downfall not include the boy? It’s like writing a book about JFK and leaving Oswald out of it.

    Anyone else saying it, I would consider it to be an off-hand comment — but this is Hermione. She must have read them all.

  20. In fairness to snape with the buck teeth incident, he has no doubt been noticing the darkening of his dark mark, indicating voldy’s return. He’s about to enter the hardest section of his life, maintaining a lie of loyalty to the greatest legilimens in the world, possibly who ever lived, something which would make anyone bad-tempered. Given that he’s somewhat mean anyway, I can imagine him making such a cruel comment to a student who he doesn’t like and generally annoys him with her constant questions and answering questions when not called on.

  21. This is no way vouching for Snape, but when it comes to think of it, I really believe that Snape is… well, introvertedly a good person — he just does NOT know how to express it.

    Think about it: he works at the same school he was taught in, where everyday the ghosts and memories of his past are quite there in his presence, especially when Harry (and as Delaney pointed out — the Golden Trio) is always there. To have such a reminder when you see Harry is most likely to conjure up the worst feelings, since he looks like his father but has his mother’s eyes.

    Snape was in love. He loved Lily in a way we may never know, and to look in the eyes of the child bore from her and have her “look back at him”, even though she has passed, can be rather hard. And to have the son of the man who, well, in his case, “took” the love of his life away from him as well as taunted him for many years can’t be easy, either.

    Snape is stubborn; Snape is power-hungry; Snape is resentful; and, Snape is mourning. His crass attitude and sharp tongue constitue he’s never gotten over Lily, in death and in relation, as well been so mentally damaged from James (and crew) that he feels he has a chance to take it out on Harry… FINALLY being able to “stick it to {a} Potter”.

    His actions will never make it right, but he is such a complex character and that’s why I appreciate his role. He’s a heartbroken man who enjoys making those around him miserable or to feel inadaquate.

  22. Snape is a tortured character. A lot of his actions can be explained by his past. Not excused. He should never have been a teacher. I wonder if that was his punishment at the end of the 1st war? “Severus Snape, you are hereby convicted of being a Death Eater. However, as Albus Dumbledore has vouched for you, you will be given a suspended sentence of, e.g., fifteen years under the supervision of the aforementioned Albus Dumbledore as Potions Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
    Snape’s story is tragic, but he’s still a jerk. Or a git, as you Brits say.

  23. Oh, and I didn’t realise the something to Remember bit until you pointed it out….. Wow!

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