Padfoot Returns

chapter twenty-seven of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Snape goes out of his way to make Harry’s life hell during Potions class, mocking his press clippings and threatening him with Veritaserum. The next day, though, Harry, Ron, and Hermione travel to Hogsmeade and meet up with Sirius, updating him on all the strange happenings at Hogwarts.

Potions Master, by Vizen

“Do you know what this is, Potter?” Snape said, his eyes glittering dangerously again.

(by Vizen)


Veritaserum, by Laura Freeman

“It is Veritaserum – a Truth Potion so powerful that three drops would have you spilling your innermost secrets for this entire class to hear…. Unless you watch your step, you might just find that my hand slips…. right over your evening pumpkin juice….”


The Face of Professor Snape, by Sebastian Theilig

“And then, Potter… then we’ll find out whether you’ve been in my office or not.”


Karkaroff and Snape, by TomScribble

“Well?” said Karkaroff, still making every effort not to move his lips. “Do you see? It’s never been this clear, never since -“
“Put it away!” snarled Snape, his black eyes sweeping the classroom.


Buckbeak, by Heather Campbell

Buckbeak bent his scaly front knees and allowed Hermione to rush forward and stroke his feathery neck.


The Last of the Blacks, by Ani Bester

Harry, however, was looking at the black dog, which had just turned into his godfather.


by Laura Freeman

“What’re you doing here, Sirius?” he said.
“Fulfilling my duty as godfather,” said Sirius, gnawing on the chicken bone in a very doglike way.


about the chapter


Harry’s conversation with Sirius is filled with interesting discussion and tantalizing clues, but they all seem to lead to frustrating dead ends. It’s becoming more and more clear that there is a very complex web of actions going on behind the scenes here, which certainly involve Voldemort somehow, but also several red herrings. It’s interesting, but almost impossible, to figure it out – after all, it’s clear even Dumbledore isn’t managing to do it, and he has more information than we do!

The Wizarding World

I have a hard time envisioning just how big cauldrons are. We know there are different sizes, as the one first-years are required to buy is “standard size 2.” But while I typically picture them sitting on the desks in Snape’s dungeon, we learn in Harry’s second year that the cauldrons actually sit beside the desks on the floor. And here, Harry seems to be successfully hiding behind his – yet when he packs his things at the end of the year, his cauldron fits easily in his trunk along with his broomstick and everything else. There could easily be some magic that causes standard cauldrons to change sizes depending on the situation – but then why would “collapsable” cauldrons be an option, and why would Harry’s cauldron be a “standard size?”
Oh yes. And Hermione somehow had two in her second year – one for Potions class, and another that she brewed Polyjuice in – and Neville has melted six. Were the spares delivered by owl? The owls can barely carry a ham – and the much larger cauldrons are solid pewter! I’m stumped on this one.

Something to Remember

When Snape blames Harry for stealing gillyweed and boomslang skin from his office, Harry assumes he knows what Snape is talking about. After all, he has been peripherally involved in stealing both of these items over the years. But he doesn’t stop to think about why Snape would wait until now to accuse him of stealing boomslang skin two years ago, when Hermione stole it to make Polyjuice Potion. Why would that particular ingredient suddenly be so high on Snape’s radar?

The Final Word

(When asked, “Why does Professor Dumbledore allow Professor Snape to be so nasty to the students (especially to Harry, Hermione, and Neville)?
Dumbledore believes there are all sorts of lessons in life… 
horrible teachers like Snape are one of them!”–J.K. Rowling, October 2000

43 Responses to “Padfoot Returns”

  1. The cauldron business is definitely a mystery. The “classic” cauldron is a rather large thing, gallons in size, but I can’t imagine it makes sense to brew a potion in a vessel that large unless you’re mass-producing; certainly not for student practice. It’s contradictory.

    Pewter, too, is not a good metal for this; it’s likely to soften or melt in the heat of the flame — depending on the exact proportions in the alloy, pewter melts at about 600F, whereas even a flame like a candle flame is about 1800F! Perhaps their magical flames are a very gentle heat, but it still doesn’t seem practical — in that case it would be hard to get the liquid inside to a full rolling boil, I’d think, if you needed to.

  2. I picture the cauldrons that they usually use in class to be about the size of a large mixing bowl. When Harry hides behind his cauldron, he is not necessarily using it to obscure his whole body. More likely, he is crouching behind his desk, and the cauldron hides his face.

    And while we are talking about cauldrons, let’s not forget Humphrey Belcher who thought the time was right for a cheese cauldron. I wonder what that would have done to potions… it certainly would have been good for fondue parties!

  3. Hmm…good questions in regards to the cauldrons. I tend to think that the cauldron used depended on the project–throughout the books we see the kids working on potions individually and in groups…it doesn’t seem to be a huge leap of logic to assume that perhaps the standard size cauldron was for individual use while the classroom itself contained several large cauldrons for group-organized efforts.

  4. Ben, a good point about hiding behind the cauldron, but a large mixing bowl wouldn’t hold anywhere near two sets of Lockhart books, and it’d be pretty silly to put it on the floor.

    Rose, good idea – perhaps the ones that sit on the floor are provided by the school for brewing larger potions, and the students provide individual desktop ones? Still doesn’t explain why Ginny’s could hold all those books though – that would have been the “standard size 2”. Hmm.

  5. Hmmm. A really large mixing bowl? Or do we have to go with the old standby to solve this cauldron size problem: it’s magic!

  6. I think Rowling’s(or Dumbledore’s) reasoning is flawed, in that many students (read: Slytherins) don’t even have to suffer one tenth of the absue Neville recives from Snape. It’s an argusbly good lesson for Neville, but the others are just learning that it is okay no to say anything when somebody else is having a hard time.

  7. Regarding the “Something to Remember” section: Also, Harry thinks it was Dobby who stole the Gillyweed, but was it really him?

    “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – This will come up again. I’m not sure if in the books or in an interview with JKR though.

  8. Kim, who else besides Dobby would have stolen the gillyweed?

    I don’t think the exact quote is referenced in the books, but the concept is certainly addressed in Sirius’s treatment of Kreacher and Dumbledore’s subsequent discussion of it.

  9. I was thinking that maybe the fake Moody stole the Gillyweed the night when Harry got stuck in the stairs. He would then have given it to Dobby. But I just read “Veritaserum” again and it was Dobby.

  10. This book gives you pieces, and it just makes sense when you read the final chapters… That it’s so great about it, almost everything is important, even the shortest comment, like the one Snape makes here or the things Sirius knows about Bertha…

  11. Kim: That quote is in this chapter. Sirius says it when they’re discussing Winky. Though JKR has discussed it in an interview when comparing this quote from Sirius to when he was horrible to Kreacher. Also, I’ve wondered about Sirius eating rats to survive. Wanna bet he’s hoping to catch a particular rat?

  12. I think the cauldren and broom etc. fitting in the trunk is because its a magic Trunk not because the cauldron is special. As far as the different sizes, and measures of things you can put in them.. I assumed that also could be charmed to be the magical depth of what you need for each potion. Think like Santa Claus’ bag.. the entire world’s presents fit in it right? Why couldn’t a larger amount of potion fit into a smaller cauldron? I do agree that there are probably larger cauldrons in the class already for group use. So perhaps Harry doesn’t hide behind his personally owned one, but the one he happens to be using that class.

  13. Love the way Alan Rickman says, “my hand might just… slip… over your morning pumpkin juice.”

  14. Also, upon re-listening, I am struck by how everyone in the story assumes Crouch Sr. chose ambition over family. Wouldn’t there be another option? I mean, his son really IS guilty. Letting him off would have been misguided “family loyalty” if it allowed others to be harmed. Couldn’t it be that he was principled instead of ambitious? Or, to look at it the other way, if he had tried to get his son off, it would have been allowing others to be hurt to save someone close to him, which would surely be wrong. That’s what I see, anyway.

  15. Jo never fails to amuse me with her wit! Harry lets out his anger by pulverizing beetles for his potion, pretending each one is Snape’s head. Just a few chapters before, Harry would have gladly reduced a certain beetle animagus to a fine powder. Rita and Snape are linked by Harry’s hatred.

  16. Anna, I think you’re right about people’s assumptions, but remember that Crouch eventually sneaks his son out of Azkaban, despite knowing for a fact that he’s guilty. He chose ambition over family publicly, and then acted in an extraordinarily unprincipled manner for the sake of his family behind closed doors.

  17. Do we know for sure that Barty Jr. *did* torture the Longbottoms? I mean, yes, he was obviously a Death Eater and should’ve been in Azkaban anyway, but perhaps he wasn’t guilty of that particular crime? Just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people?

  18. And I hate to double-post, but I think it’s worth noting that we don’t see Snape’s other classes, so we don’t know how nasty he actually may or may not be to everyone else. Obviously, he’s not a pleasant person, but apparently a good enough teacher that there are students who score an O in OWL year and get into his NEWT class – and are willing to subject themselves to two more years under his tutelage.

  19. With reference to cauldrons, it’s possible that size 2 isn’t necessary the standard size of a cauldron but that they are required to purchase the “Standard 2” size rather than, say, the “American size 2” cauldron.

  20. Speaking of Snape, how much pressure must he be under right now? His dark mark is becoming clearer, Karkaroff seems to want Snape to save him from the other Death Eaters, and he (and probably Dumbledore) doesn’t know what to do about either. Meanwhile, his office is being robbed and Moody keeps breathing down his neck. To top it off, there are parallels between Rita’s story and the Severus, Lily and James triangle. I might give snape a pass for being so horrible just this once. ;)

  21. Rory, I think I see what you’re saying… but doesn’t it come to the same thing anyway, that there are different sizes of cauldrons and the “Standard size 2” is only one of them? It wouldn’t make much sense to have a size 2 but not a size 1 or 3, for example, no matter how different the situation might be in other countries.

    Douglas, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re totally right. It’s even perhaps excusable that he’s so nasty to Harry when you consider that from Snape’s perspective, Harry or his father are the root of an awful lot of those problems (and the other problems are ones Harry is blissfully ignorant of while Snape risks his neck to protect the kid)….

  22. About the cauldron, broomstick and everything else fitting into Harry’s trunk at the end of the year, perhaps the trunks have stretching charms on them such as Arther Weasly put on his car. Just a thought.

  23. I don’t think abusive bullying is a good way of teaching any lessons. Maybe Dumbledore doesn’t know quite how bad it is. But I do think his [Dumbledore’s] attitude is generally to allow people their freedom, not to interfere, to let people sort things out themselves (as with Harry and the Philosopher’s stone –I love your essay, btw). I wonder if D. is too optimistic over Snape’s ability to move on, as with the Occlumency lessons later on?

  24. Regarding the final word, I think it’s entirely possible, as Heather said, that Snape is horrible to varying degrees to different students. Dumbledore might know that Snape is not nice, and as Jo said he thinks that’s a life lesson for the students, but he might not be aware just HOW nasty Snape is to particular students, including Harry, Hermione and Neville. After all, they’ve never complained.

    My take of the cauldron dilema is that if the cauldrons are say about 18 inches tall they would be the right size to have on the table or on the floor, depending on how many other things the student needs to fit onto the table (e.g. how many ingredients and utensils they have). Potions with lots of ingredients may require the cauldron to be placed on the floor to create space. Cauldrons could also be fairly easily shrunk to fit into a trunk.

  25. The only time we see Harry badmouthing Snape to an authority figure is when he is trying to blame him, or just anouncing his dislike. He never tells another teacher or Dumbledore exactly what Snape does in class, he’s not much of tattle tale. I have a feeling Neville didn’t either. If no one is made aware that Snape is verbally abusing his students, then how can it be fixed. Which is someting that happens to bullied children all the time, they are too ashamed or scared to tell. Not that Harry is scared of Snape, but maybe he also doesn’t want to seem as if he can’t handle himself.

  26. about cauldron sizes… i was thinking maybe its not so much that the cauldrons are large but maybe some books are smaller? I know i myself have been able to fit a rather large amount of book inside relatively smaller bags, and if they were smaller books (mass market paperback size perhaps) you could easily fit quite a few in a cauldron that was maybe the size of an all in one desktop printer? and we all should know there are spells to magically enlarge the interiors or items (the Weasleys Ford Anglia and its done once again in DH). So, its very probably that a desktop cauldron could carry all their text books – not only depending on size but also on the size of the interior of the cauldron

  27. I think it’s important to realize that if a reader is not British, they may be unfamiliar with the difference in boarding schools there. British teachers are typically much more strict and harsh than American ones, for example. Read Ronald Dahl’s descriptions in “Boy” of his real-life terrors in English schools! I think Professor McG typifies this very well.

  28. Perhaps standard size 1, 2 or 3 has nothing to do with the physical size of the cauldron but to go back to Percy in the first chapters, the thickness of the cauldron bottoms? Isn’t his work about standardizing this ‘shoddy’ productions from other countries, therefore implying that Britain already has a standardization which changes depending on the potency or acidity of the potions inside (which in Hogwarts will change each year possibly as they move onto more difficult potions), just a thought.

  29. What puzzles me about this chapter is when Harry mentions Karkaroff showing Snape something on his arm, Sirius replies ‘Well I don’t know what that’s all about’. Surely the dark mark is common knowledge? And if not would he not have come across it in Azkaban?

  30. G0_f1sh, I don’t think the dark mark could have been common knowledge – remember when Snape shows his to Fudge, and introduces it as though he doesn’t expect Fudge to know what it is? If Snape doesn’t expect Fudge to know about it, it makes sense that Sirius wouldn’t know either. Even in the *current* war I think Harry is one of a very, very select few who are aware of it, although the whole Order has probably been informed by now.

  31. I was wondering why Sirius seemed unfamiliar with the Dark Mark, myself. Even if the other wizards don’t know about it, it seems unlikely that he never came across it in Askaban.

  32. I don’t think that anyone knew about the Dark Mark during the first war. I can see it as being a well-kept secret within Death Eater ranks, and I think it’s possible that only Voldemort’s inner circle had the Mark. He needed to be able to call or be called by them for impromptu meetings. I think the Dark Mark only became a known symbol within the Order after Harry witnessed the use of them in the graveyard, and told Dumbledore all that happened. Voldemort wasn’t expecting Harry to live the night, so he didn’t feel an obligation to hide it from him that night.

    Do the books specifically say the cauldrons are actually placed on the floor? I kind of had an image of them being raised up on stands that are the same height as the workspace when they need more space for ingedients (the school would provide these stands for them). I would also go with the idea that they can be shrunk and enlarged, but as Josie said, what would the point of a collapsible cauldron be then? Although, Harry does say he hid behind the cauldron itself in this chapter, I do believe…. Maybe Jo threw in the idea of a collapsible cauldron, just cause she thought it was cool, and didn’t realize she was creating an inconsistency? It’s definitely a good question, and I’d love to ask her.

    Heather, I’m not sure whether it’s stated that Barty Crouch, Jr. was definitely guilty for the torture of the Longbottoms, but I think there’s a couple of hints in the book. Like the first lesson with Moody, when he’s teaching about the Unforgivables, and he kind of does a little bit of a double take when Neville raises his hand about the Cruciatus. That could just be because he was accused though, so you never know.

    One thing I realized in this chapter is that the students couldn’t have known what was going on underwater in the Second Task, cause they’re all asking Ron about what happened in the beginning of the chapter. Oh well, it was a nice thought, I think.

  33. Casey, about the cauldrons – I was thinking I’d seen a reference to them sitting on the floor, but I can’t find it now so I may have made it up. I did realize that there are often fires lit underneath the cauldrons, so they can’t simply be sitting on the floor. But there is a quote that makes it clear they aren’t on the desks, from CS11:

    Potions lessons took place in one of the large dungeons. Thursday afternoon’s lesson proceeded in the usual way. Twenty cauldrons stood steaming between the wooden desks, on which stood brass scales and jars of ingredients.

    There is a *lot* of hiding behind cauldrons, though (Harry does it in that same chapter to pull out a firework without Snape’s seeing him). So they have to at least be big enough for that.

  34. To cauldron size, I’d say it’s quite possible that the school provides the large ones used in this lesson at least, because while we do have this:

    “Furious, Harry threw his ingredients and his bag into his cauldron and dragged it up to the front of the dungeon to the empty table.”

    this section of the chapter ends with Harry leaving the cauldron behind:

    “…Harry threw his books and ingredients back into his bag and left at top speed…”

  35. @heather, wasn’t it Bellatrix the one who tortured neville”s parents? i think crouch jr just might have captured or sold the Longbottoms

  36. n8, Bellatrix, her VERY-loved hubby Rodolphus, Rodolphus’s bro Rabastan, and Barty Crouch Jr. were the torturers. So it was a family party, except for Junior there.

  37. I noticed a quote today by Ron, talking about Percy. He said that Percy might turn in his family if they were in the way of his ambitions. In a few months, though, Percy does disown his family because he was too loyal to the Ministry and didn’t want them to get in the way of his ambitions. Nice little bit of foreshadowing there.

  38. With the cauldron business, I think it’s because of a regulation that was passed recently which resulted in the students having to reorder their cauldrons with a thicker bottom. Harry was only using one of the school cauldrons because he was waiting on his own, much smaller one to be delivered.

  39. In terms of Sirius not seeing the mark in Azkaban, remember Karkaroff says “it’s coming back” as in between the wars it was very faint. I would suggest it is only coming back now as Voldemort has regained a temporary body. So why would Sirius think to question the very faint mark (It might even look like a scar, like it faded to after book 7), a very small number (As only the top level DE had them) of azkaban residents, all of whom are going insane, had on their arms?

  40. It seems such a ludicrous flaw in ethics and due process to let a parent sit in judgement over their child in any sort of legal proceedings.

  41. I’m pretty sure the Dark Mark was invisible between the wars. If all it took to determine whether someone had been a DE was to check their left arm, the post-war trials would have been a lot easier. My guess would be that they vanished as soon as Voldemort was kicked out of his body.

    Also, it appears that even when Voldemort is active and has a body, the marks fade between uses, so that they’re not all that obvious most of the time. At the end of this book, Snape says something to Fudge like, “It’s not as clear as it was a little while ago, when it burned black, but you can still see it.” It makes sense that Voldemort wouldn’t want the marks to show most of the time, since again, a highly visible mark would identify his followers too easily.

    And finally, even if the marks were visible, I don’t think Sirius would have seen them in Azkaban. I could be wrong, but it seems like prisoners there pretty much stay in their cells. Sirius mentions HEARING other prisoners (e.g., talking in their sleep), but never seeing them or interacting with them. He mentions that the dementors bring food to his cell, so we know he wasn’t taking his meals with other prisoners, for instance. And he certainly never mentions any recreation time or anything like that. It’s possible that he was considered such a dangerous prisoner that he was in some kind of solitary confinement, and that his situation wouldn’t apply to other prisoners–but even if that were the case, he still wouldn’t have had a chance to see a Dark Mark on someone else.

  42. When it comes to hiding behind the cauldron, you’d be surprised how little space you need to hide if you try. Also, harry is 14, and probably rather small for his age after a decade of borderline malnutrition from the dursleys. I can imagine it fitting in his trunk if he put other stuff in the cauldron itself.
    As for getting cauldrons to hogwarts, first of all Hogwarts has extra equipment, as used by harry and ron in book 6, so these cauldrons weren’t necessarily new. Even if they were, have you ever seen the SIZE of a european eagle owl, or a great grey owl? They’re easily the size of an average man’s torso. Factor in that multiple owls could have been used to bring it, and the concept of magical breeding (given how smart these owls are and how dumb real owls are I’d say at least their intelligence has been magically enhanced) and suddenly the idea of carrying a pewter cauldron to scotland isn’t so impossible after all.

  43. Re Josie’s comments on weight of cauldrons and owls. Just a thought. Perhaps store owners magical decrease the weight (change mass like they do for entensable charms and engourgement charms) as part of their shipping & handling fees,. After all a lot of our muggle mail orders make a profit off of S&H fees. Would wizards be so different?

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