Animal magnetism

Harry and Ron greet the Patil twins, their partners for the Yule Ball

Extract from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling

‘I still can’t work out how you two got the best-looking girls in the year,’ muttered Dean.

‘Animal magnetism,’ said Ron gloomily, pulling stray threads out of his cuffs.

The common room looked strange, full of people wearing different colours instead of the usual mass of black. Parvati was waiting for Harry at the foot of the stairs. She looked very pretty indeed, in robes of shocking pink, with her long dark plait braided with gold, and gold bracelets glimmering at her wrists. Harry was relieved to see that she wasn’t giggling.

‘You – er – look nice,’ he said awkwardly.

‘Thanks,’ she said. ‘Padma’s going to meet you in the Entrance Hall,’ she added to Ron.

‘Right,’ said Ron, looking around. ‘Where’s Hermione?’ Parvati shrugged.

‘Shall we go down, then, Harry?’

‘OK,’ said Harry, wishing he could just stay in the common room. Fred winked at Harry as he passed him on the way out of the portrait hole.

The Entrance Hall was packed with students too, all milling around waiting for eight o’clock, when the doors to the Great Hall would be thrown open. Those people who were meeting partners from different houses were edging through the crowd, trying to find each other. Parvati found her sister Padma and led her over to Harry and Ron.

‘Hi,’ said Padma, who was looking just as pretty as Parvati in robes of bright turquoise. She didn’t look too enthusiastic about having Ron as a partner, though; her dark eyes lingered on the frayed neck and sleeves of his dress robes as she looked him up and down.

‘Hi,’ said Ron, not looking at her, but staring around at the crowd. ‘Oh, no ...’

He bent his knees slightly to hide behind Harry, because Fleur Delacour was passing, looking stunning in robes of silver- grey satin, and accompanied by the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain, Roger Davies. When they had disappeared, Ron stood straight again and stared over the heads of the crowd.

‘Where is Hermione?’ he said again.

A group of Slytherins came up the steps from their dungeon common room. Malfoy was in front; he was wearing dress robes of black velvet with a high collar, which in Harry’s opinion made him look like a vicar. Pansy Parkinson was clutching Malfoy’s arm, in very frilly robes of pale pink. Crabbe and Goyle were both wearing green; they resembled moss-coloured boulders, and neither of them, Harry was pleased to see, had managed to find a partner.

The oak front doors opened, and everyone turned to look as the Durmstrang students entered with Professor Karkaroff. Krum was at the front of the party, accompanied by a pretty girl in blue robes Harry didn’t know. Over their heads he saw that an area of lawn right in front of the castle had been trans- formed into a sort of grotto full of fairy lights – meaning hundreds of actual living fairies were sitting in the rose bushes that had been conjured there, and fluttering over the statues of what seemed to be Father Christmas and his reindeer.

Then Professor McGonagall’s voice called, ‘Champions over here, please!’

Parvati readjusted her bangles, beaming; she and Harry said ‘See you in a minute’ to Ron and Padma, and walked forwards, the chattering crowd parting to let them through. Professor McGonagall, who was wearing dress robes of red tartan, and had arranged a rather ugly wreath of thistles around the brim of her hat, told them to wait on one side of the doors while everyone else went inside; they were to enter the Great Hall in procession when the rest of the students had sat down. Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies stationed themselves nearest the doors; Davies looked so stunned by his good fortune in having Fleur for a partner that he could hardly take his eyes off her. Cedric and Cho were close to Harry, too; he looked away from them so he wouldn’t have to talk to them. His eyes fell instead on the girl next to Krum. His jaw dropped.

It was Hermione.

But she didn’t look like Hermione at all. She had done some- thing with her hair; it was no longer bushy, but sleek and shiny, and twisted up into an elegant knot at the back of her head. She was wearing robes made of a floaty, periwinkle-blue material, and she was holding herself differently, somehow – or maybe it was merely the absence of the twenty or so books she usually had slung over her back. She was also smiling – rather nervously, it was true – but the reduction in the size of her front teeth was more noticeable than ever. Harry couldn’t understand how he hadn’t spotted it before.

‘Hi, Harry!’ she said. ‘Hi, Parvati!’

Parvati was gazing at Hermione in unflattering disbelief. She wasn’t the only one, either; when the doors to the Great Hall opened, Krum’s fan club from the library stalked past, throw- ing Hermione looks of deepest loathing. Pansy Parkinson gaped at her as she walked by with Malfoy, and even he didn’t seem to be able to find an insult to throw at her. Ron, however, walked right past Hermione without looking at her.

Once everyone else was settled in the Hall, Professor McGonagall told the champions and their partners to get in line in pairs, and follow her. They did so, and everyone in the Great Hall applauded as they entered and started walking up towards a large round table at the top of the Hall, where the judges were sitting.

The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost, with hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The house tables had vanished; instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones, each seating about a dozen people.

Harry concentrated on not tripping over his feet. Parvati seemed to be enjoying herself; she was beaming around at everybody, steering Harry so forcefully that he felt as though he was a show dog she was putting through its paces. He caught sight of Ron and Padma as he neared the top table. Ron was watching Hermione pass with narrowed eyes. Padma was looking sulky.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J.K. Rowling