Veritaserum

chapter thirty-five of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry returns to Hogwarts, and is taken away by Mad-Eye Moody – except he quickly learns it’s not Mad-Eye Moody. Dumbledore follows, though, and Stuns Moody, who turns out to be Barty Crouch, Jr. Under Veritaserum, Crouch then confesses how he broke out of Azkaban, put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, and helped Voldemort return.
 

Harry Returns From his Devastating Experience in the Graveyard, Clutching the Triwizard Cup in One Hand, and Cedric's Body in the Other, by Drew Graham

A torrent of sound deafened and confused him; there were voices everywhere, footsteps, screams…. He remained where he was, his face screwed up against the noise, as though it were a nightmare that would pass….


 

Mad-Eye Moody, by Laurence Peguy

Harry tried to get up, but Moody pushed him back down. “I know who the Death Eater is,” he said quietly.


 

Dumbledore, by Patilda

There was a blinding flash of red light, and with a great splintering and crashing, the door of Moody’s office was blasted apart –

(by Patilda)


 

Fury, by prettyannamoon

At that moment, Harry fully understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort had ever feared…. There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from [him] as though he were giving off burning heat.


 

Barty Crouch, Jr, by Laurence Peguy

Harry… knew who he was. He had seen him in Dumbledore’s Pensieve, had watched him being led away from court by the dementors, trying to convince Mr. Crouch that he was innocent….


 

Barty Crouch Jr - Madness by VikingCarrot

“My master’s plan worked. He is returned to power and I will be honored by him beyond the dreams of wizards.”


 

about the chapter

 

I think my favorite thing about this chapter is a moment that happens off-screen. Notice that Dumbledore sends Snape to fetch Winky from the kitchens. Well, we’ve been to the kitchens before, and met the hundreds of tiny house-elves that gather around your ankles and offer you treats. Can’t you just picture Snape entering this situation and asking for someone named Winky? The look on his face must have been priceless. Oh, the long-suffering Potions master and the crazy things Dumbledore asks him to do. I wonder whether he took an eclair for the road?
 

Something You May Not Have Noticed

One of the most fascinating things about this chapter is that Dumbledore sends Snape to fetch Winky before Barty Crouch’s identity is revealed. We’ve had an inkling before that Dumbledore suspected Crouch’s involvement – after all, Harry discovered that Dumbledore had been reviewing a memory of the boy in his Pensieve. But somehow Dumbledore was able to put the pieces together and know Moody’s true identity conclusively, once he realized that Moody had been an impostor. When and how did he figure this all out?
 

Life at Hogwarts

Yet another interesting aspect of Moody’s false identity is looking back on Harry’s year at Hogwarts, and looking at his interactions with Moody from a completely different perspective. For instance, was Crouch casting the Imperius Curse on Harry at Dumbledore’s direction or at Voldemort’s? And even more interesting is finding the moments when he almost slipped up – for instance, Snape could have asked Dumbledore whether Moody really had permission to search his office, or Dumbledore could have verified with Snape that Moody hadn’t actually run into him before he met the headmaster down at the Forbidden Forest. The whole book really takes on a whole new meaning on a second read.
 

Something to Remember

At first glance it seems somewhat foolish that Dumbledore would question Barty Crouch about all that’s happened up to this point, and not ask him a single question about Voldemort’s whereabouts or his plans. Wouldn’t he consider that critical information? But when you think about it, it does make sense – clearly Dumbledore knows that the lynchpin of Voldemort’s plan would have been to kill Harry, and as Harry is now sitting in the office with him, it’s pretty clear that the plan has failed. So since Voldemort must now be setting off to make a new plan, Crouch’s information on that front is worthless – and instead it’s far more important that Dumbledore fully understand the old one. In his wisdom, Dumbledore realizes that studying what Voldemort has done in the past is the best way to determine what he’ll do in the future. We’ll see a lot more of this philosophy from Dumbledore before the series is out.
 


42 Responses to “Veritaserum”

  1. That’s a great “Something you may not have noticed.” When re-reading the series recently, I noticed that for the first time, after at least 10 readings. The first time, I suppose I was reading so fast that it never really registered, and in subsequent readings, I already knew that it was Crouch, so I never questioned fetching Winky.

  2. jay ferguson is right about it being a great “Something you may not have noticed”. I hadn’t. This book it the first one I’m not listening to parallel to checking this site. Now I’m thinking I should listen to it after you’ve posted about every chapter with a clearer point of view. I’m looking forward to it.

  3. I love Patilda’s drawing. Such a perfect BA Dumbledore

  4. I just think this chapter would be fascinatign from so many different characters’ POVs. Snape fetching Winky…McGonagall fetchign Padfoot…what the student body must have been whispering abotu Harry and Cedric…what’s going through Viktor and Fleur’s heads at the moment…Karkaroff fleeing…Madame Maxime’s impressions of the whole affair… I could go on and on.

  5. Now that we know Moody’s secret, if we look back to Chapeter 14 and see him torturing the spiders, especially with the
    Crusiatis curse, in front of Neville, we can see he really wasn’t just the flaky old guy hired by Dumbledore, but a cruel and sick monster who was sent to Azkaban for torturing Neville’s parents to insanity with the the same curse thirteen years before.

  6. What gets me about the Imperius Curse thing, is that fake Moody/Crouch actually teaches Harry to resist it. If this is at Voldermort’s request, it certainly backfires on him in the graveyard.

  7. Anna’s got a point here about Imposter!Moody’s teaching Harry to resist the Imperius Curse. It seems to only make sense if Imposter!Moody were Real!Moody.

    Then again, Barty Crouch Jr. may just not like the Imperius curse since he was placed under it and fought against it for so long, so he may have just been teaching Harry how to resist it simply on his own and not on anyone’s orders.

  8. I know it’s a stretch, but what if Dumbledore knew about it (and for some reason encouraged it)? Then it was a way for Barty to appear more like the actual Moody . . .

  9. Martin T., you have an excellent point. I had forgotten that Barty himself had been under it for years. Like “the thing I hate most is a death eater who got away,” that would be something he could sincerely hate and yet seem to be the real Moody.

  10. Very interesting thoughts on this chapter, I really need to read GoF again, I’ve cleary missed a lot! And I absolutely love Patilda’s Dumbledore, that’s exactly how I imagine him.

  11. The point where Dumbledore sends Snape to fetch Winky – I always wondered why he had to send anyone? As the house-elfs “Master” couldn’t Dumbledore have just called her, as Harry did with Kreacher in HBP?

  12. I think Winky is free and does not have a master. Her master was Crouch and he had freed her.
    I like Martin’s point about the Imperius, that Barty Crouch Jr. didn’t like it and that was why he taught how to resist it to Harry and the rest of the class.
    I also wonder how Dumbledore discover that Moody was Crouch. I mean, we know how he discovered that Moody wasn’t Moody…

  13. Good point, Paula, never thought of that! Of course she was free. Love this site – puts a whole new aspect onto they way I have often looked on things in reading the books. Makes them far more alive.

  14. Haha can you imagine Snape tickling the pear to get in to the kitchen. Lol I had never thought of that until you brought up the whole Snape getting Winky thing. I usually just glide over that part to the important stuff.

  15. I agree that Barty might’ve taught the kids how to resist Imperio without being ordered too, although I think maybe it was about pride. I believe Barty was an arrogant character–he was brilliant, no question, but he also took foolish risks like some folks in the comments have mentioned. I always imagined Barty to have taken this risks because he felt so sure of himself he never thought someone would check up on him (and to be fair, no one did). I think he was proud in some kind of sick way, that he was able to resist the Imperious Curse and teaching it to the students was just a way to get recognition/affirm himself of his greatness. Or maybe he was just two knuts short of sickle and liked putting the kids under his complete control to use up spare class time. *shrug*

  16. Patilda’s Dumbledore *is* awesome.

  17. I’m inclined to agree with Toby on this one… When Barty Crouch Jr is talking to Harry, he draws certain parallels between himself and Lord Voldemort. This could just be another one.
    Probably my favourite line in the movie that wasn’t in the book was BCJ: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. I don’t know why I like it, it was just sort of… perfect for the moment? I don’t know… (A little off topic)

  18. First read-through, I wasn’t terribly saddened by Cedric’s death. Sure, it was tragic, but I wasn’t attached. I think I was so focused on devouring the book, that I just skimmed by it. Subsequent reading have teared me up a bit.

    But this part of the movie, when Harry brings Cedric’s body back and Amos starts crying out for him…I lose it every time. Honestly, I feel like Cedric’s is the only death the movies have gotten right so far.

  19. My favorite quote from the entire series:

    “Severus, please fetch me the strongest Truth Potion you possess, and then go down to the kitchens and bring up the house-elf called Winky. Minerva, kindly go down to Hagrid’s house, where you will find a large black dog sitting in the pumpkin patch. Take the dog up to my office, tell him I will be with him shortly, then come back here.”

    The first time I read that paragraph, I must have laughed for a solid two minutes. It’s got to be one of the most bizarre sets of instructions ever given to anyone, anywhere. :D

  20. About Winky: she certainly was a free elf, but it still does not explain, why Dumbledore couldnt just summon her, beacause in OP, during the disciplenary hearing, Dumbledore says, that he can summon Dobby to testify, if necessary, and Dobby is also free.

  21. Re Winky – couldn’t it just have been kindness and consideration on Dumbledore’s part? Surely it’s much more polite to go – or send someone – down to the kitchen than just shout her name and have her appear? Dumbledore’s usually considerate of people’s feelings.

  22. I think Dumbledore simply put the final pieces of the puzzle together at that moment – I mean really, they all figured there was an impostor within Hogwarts beforehand and Crouch Snr had obviously been killed while trying to give information. Dumbledore may not have known it was Crouch Jr but I think he figured Winky would be involved seeing as so many strange things were happening around her former master. Otherwise it’s a simple mistake on JKRs part – I mean, who really noticed anyway? I didn’t until it was brought up here.

  23. 2 things, Dobby came when summoned by Harry even after he was free but as he said, he could obey anyone he wanted to and he choose to obey Harry, Winky might not have been so inclined
    And I think the reason DD didn’t ask B.C. Jr. all that he could have was because he didn’t know that he’d be subjected to the dementor’s kiss before he could question him further

  24. There’s a slight error, right under the “About the chapter”. The last sentence reads: “I wonder whether took an eclair for the road?” Shouldn’t it be “…wonder whether *he* took an eclair…?”

  25. Veritaserum creates a distinct problem for me. In fact, so does Felix Felices.

    Veritaserum is used very effectively by Dumbledore in this chapter. However I wonder why it isn’t used on criminals more often. Surely such a potion should be used to interrogate every accused witch or wizard that is caught by Aurors, to determine for certain, there guilt. Is there some law against it?

    I always wondered what would become of Harry’s whole future if Sirius had been given Veritaserum after his arrest. He would have explained the whole situation, and, unless the ministry though it was possible to trick the potion (which I doubt), then he would have to have been released and a hunt for Pettigrew organised.

    Felix Felices creates a similar problem as to why it isn’t used. Surely if Voldemort (and Dumbledore for that matter) was aware of this potion (which I assume he was), he would have produced it in mass for himself to use. He would have genuinely been unstoppable. The fact there are restrictions on it makes no difference to him.

    I thought that maybe there was some kind of unwritten law among wizards not to cheat in a duel (Voldemort was quite keen to follow duelling guidelines in the graveyard), but in my opinion his obsession to kill Harry would overide his value for tradition.

    Also I would interested to know what would happen if two people under the influence of Felix Felices were to duel???

  26. Lewis, I agree with you about Felix Felicis especially – like Polyjuice, it’s got an incredible power that it just doesn’t seem to occur to wizards to use. Veritaserum is a little bit different. Here’s a quote from Rowling about it:

    (Question: “Veritaserum plays a big part in finding out the truth from Mad-Eye Moody in book four. Why then is it not used for example in the trials mentioned in the same book? It would be much easier in solving problems like whether Sirius Black was guilty or not?”

    Veritaserum works best upon the unsuspecting, the vulnerable and those insufficiently skilled (in one way or another) to protect themselves against it. Barty Crouch had been attacked before the potion was given to him and was still very groggy, otherwise he could have employed a range of measures against the Potion – he might have sealed his own throat and faked a declaration of innocence, transformed the Potion into something else before it touched his lips, or employed Occlumency against its effects. In other words, just like every other kind of magic within the books, Veritaserum is not infallible. As some wizards can prevent themselves being affected, and others cannot, it is an unfair and unreliable tool to use at a trial.

    Sirius might have volunteered to take the potion had he been given the chance, but he was never offered it. Mr. Crouch senior, power mad and increasingly unjust in the way he was treating suspects, threw him into Azkaban on the (admittedly rather convincing) testimony of many eyewitnesses. The sad fact is that even if Sirius had told the truth under the influence of the Potion, Mr. Crouch could still have insisted that he was using trickery to render himself immune to it.

  27. Ok, I did not realise that one could protect themselves from Veritaserum, but I accept this explanation.

    Another thing occured to me about Felix however. I was trying to think my way around it, and I thought maybe it was in fact too difficult to make. But this is ludicrous. First, Tom Riddle was the most brilliant student to ever go to Hogwarts, according to Dumbledore. If he could make Horcuxes surely a potion isn’t beyond him.

    I suppose Dumbledore may have refused to use it because of an unwritten wizard honour code, but that still doesn’t explain Voldemort.

    Even in the unlikely circumstances that Voldemort was unable to make Fellix, he (supposedly) had a potions master that could have at least made it if not have a supply of it already – Snape.

    I’ve also heard the theory that Snape was using Felix Felicis regularly to help him trick Voldemort into thinking he was on his side (as Voldemort isn’t easily tricked). Any theories on that?

  28. Felix Felicis has bad side-effects so it must be used with caution.

    But you’d think Voldemort would be too arrogant to care about that, wouldn’t you?

  29. No I think that Voldemort was so desperate to defeat Harry and become immortal, that he would use it to acheive his means, despite any arrogance that might hold him back

  30. I agree with Grace. Voldemort is way too arrogant to use Felix, no matter how desperate he is. Remember he gives Harry’s wand in the graveyard (a serious miscalculation on his part) because he wants to show he’s the better wizard? Voldemort doesn’t want anyone to have any handicaps against him. He wants to prove he’s the best and that he’s like a God without the use of something to help him. The only reason he gets the Elder Wand is because he’s obsessed with the idea of conquering death. I think the idea of a “super wand” appeals to him much more than a “luck potion”. Voldemort is big on symbolism, and having some people know he has the most powerful wand in the world is much more terrifying than the idea that he has an unlimited supply of Felix, watch out for him, don’t you think?

    Dumbledore seems to insist that he found out it wasn’t the real Moody when he took Harry away from him. So, in perfect Dumbledore fashion, I think his brain was working extremely fast between then and him bursting into the room. That’s when he came up with his conclusion that it must be Crouch. As Bagman was probably still there on the grounds, and Karkaroff was gone, he really only had one option left (Crouch) and was determined to figure out how it happened.

    **SPOILERS**
    Heather, I don’t completely agree with you. I’m always bawling when Dumbledore dies in the movies, and I absolutely love Harry’s reaction when Sirius dies. I think they’re just less about hearing everybody screaming out in anguish, like it was with Diggory and his father, than it is about watching the faces of those its affecting. Dumbledore’s death showcased the feeling of loss that the entire school was feeling, rather than just Harry, as the books sort of make it out as (though I hate that they didn’t do the funeral). As for Sirius, well, I know I’m gonna get a lot flack for this, but I never felt that sad about Sirius dying. Maybe it’s because he took such a back-burner role in the whole of OotP that it just didn’t matter to me as much as it would have if he died in PoA or GoF. I already knew what was going to happen to Dumbledore when I started reading HBP (I had the unfortunate displeasure of someone telling me everything before I read it), so I didn’t feel overly sad about that either. Or maybe I’m just unemotional or something?

  31. Casey, well put re: Voldemort and Felix Felicis. But why wouldn’t the Order or the Ministry use it occasionally? I know it has bad side effects if you do it too much, but c’mon….

  32. Felix Felicis is A) “desperately tricky to make, disastrous if you should get it wrong”, 2) does carry some major side-effects from over consumption (which seems to almost be defined as anything more than one or two uses at most as that is all Slughorn has used and he can obviously produce the potion) and III) it’s illegal to use in several circumstances (tests, sporting events, duels (I think)).

    The Ministry, while undoubtedly having potioneers who could make the potion, most likely wish to avoid the side effects and, as they *are* the law, breaking their law on its restricted use.

    The Order, on the other, most likely doesn’t have someone they trust that can make it. Yes, Snape probably could make it, but, aside from Dumbledore, even though the rest usually pop off with the statement “Dumbledore trusts Snape, so we have to”, I don’t think they really do.

  33. This is incredibly late but Douglas thanks for posting that paragraph! I just laughed to myself for a full two minutes. And to think, even though the instructions are so bizarre neither snape nor mcgonagall would ever think to question it at a time like this!

  34. Re-reading Deathly Hallows at the moment it has become quite clear to me that Voldemort was getting pretty frustrated. So in a practical sense it wouldn’t be past him to take some Felix.

    But what Grace said has made me realise; in a purely canon-ical sense (is that a word), the fact that Voldemort doesn’t use it i think is a pretty clear indication of Voldemort mindset.

    So there’s me proven wrong..

  35. About Dumbledore not summoning Winky – when we see Winky in the Hogwarts kitchens, she constantly refers to Mr. Crouch as her master, and Dobby explains that she doesn’t recognize that Professor Dumbledore is her master now. Actually, Dobby and Winky are both free and have no master, but Dobby has chosen to recognize Dumbledore as his master and Winky has not. This might interfere with Dumbledore’s trying to summon Winky.

  36. About the Portkey: I always imagined that it was set to return to Hogwarts for one reason only – to display the body of Harry Potter. Voldemort wouldn’t have used it because having just regained his body, he would have needed to gather more followers and infiltrate the ministry, as he eventually does in DH. But to have the Triwizard Champion come back dead, and to have it be “the boy who lived”, that would have been a terrible blow.

  37. Debbie (and others who have suggested it), the Portkey being intended to transport Harry’s body makes total sense, but there’s also something weird about it – the body of a dead person is essentially an inanimate object, so would the Portkey even react to being touched by one? After all, this particular Portkey seems to be activated by human touch, and Portkeys in general only transport people and things directly attached to them (not, say, the grass they’re standing on, that sort of thing). So I’m not entirely sure it would work if, say, Wormtail levitated the Portkey onto Harry’s dead body.

    Of course, this begs the question, what *was* the plan? What was Voldemort intending Dumbledore to think had happened to Harry? Was he intending that nobody would take the Portkey back at all, and everybody would simply think that Harry had vanished, or perhaps been eaten by the Acromantula? Could Pettigrew have transported the body back in rat form, in the hopes that he could scamper off without anybody noticing (seems unlikely given how many people surround Harry the moment he returns)? It’s fairly unclear, and I’m not sure there’s a good solution at all.

  38. That is a good point. I read this chapter again last night and twice Crouch-as-Moody says that he made it a Portkey, indicating to me that it wasn’t originally intended to be one. And it obviously had a return journey programmed into it…

  39. I agree with Heather, I think? The scene in the movie where Harry comes back… I break down every time. I think they did that scene perfectly. Everyone’s cheering because they think Harry’s won and “Yaaaay! Everything’s great!”… and then Fleur sees Cedric’s body and screams and the mood completely changes. It’s a tragically wonderful scene.

  40. SPOILER ALERT

    I said my thoughts in the last chapter, but can you imagine if it had worked, and Harry’s Horcrux was taken out three years early?
    I mean, would they think he was dead, and then he’d wake up, or what?

  41. Am I the only one who finds Amos Diggery a tad annoying, even in his grief? First, he embarassed Cedric on the walk to the portkey the morning of the World Cup final. “You beat Harry Potter!” indeed, while Harry is right there. That was Cedric behaving in a more mature way than his father. And now, seeing his son dead, and the one his son defeated in Quidditch last year, bringing his body back. He carries on more than Mrs Diggery does. Yes, men can weep, especially in such situations, but I find his emotional outburst uncomfortable, even unseemly. He is one of the few non-evil characters outside of Slytherin that I don’t like.

    And about Winky, certainly it is more considerate to have a personal invitation. Also, Winky probably could have been called, because while she is free, she does not accept nor appreciate it. Even so, this is more considerate. It is a way for her to assume she is not being asked to do something to serve anyone. She is there as a witness to some events that happened that we did not see occur. To verify their truth, Veritaserum or no.

  42. Sorry about misspelling the name. It’s Diggory.

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