Stoatshead Hill

Harry finds out how Portkeys work

Extract from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling

So how does everyone get there without all the Muggles noticing?’ he asked.

‘It’s been a massive organisational problem,’ sighed Mr Weasley. ‘The trouble is, about a hundred thousand wizards turn up to the World Cup, and of course we just haven’t got a magical site big enough to accommodate them all. There are places Muggles can’t penetrate, but imagine trying to pack a hundred thousand wizards into Diagon Alley or platform nine and three-quarters. So we had to find a nice deserted moor, and set up as many anti-Muggle precautions as possible. The whole Ministry’s been working on it for months. Firstly, of course, we have to stagger the arrivals. People with cheaper tickets have to arrive two weeks beforehand. A limited number use Muggle transport, but we can’t have too many clogging up their buses and trains – remember, wizards are coming from all over the world. Some Apparate, of course, but we have to set up safe points for them to appear, well away from Muggles. I believe there’s a handy wood they’re using as the Apparition point. For those who don’t want to Apparate, or can’t, we use Portkeys. They’re objects that are used to transport wizards from one spot to another at a prearranged time. You can do large groups at a time if you need to. There have been two hundred Portkeys placed at strategic points around Britain, and the nearest one to us is up the top of Stoatshead Hill, so that’s where we’re headed.’

Mr Weasley pointed ahead of them, where a large black mass rose beyond the village of Ottery St Catchpole.

‘What sort of objects are Portkeys?’ said Harry curiously.

‘Well, they can be anything,’ said Mr Weasley. ‘Unobtrusive things, obviously, so Muggles don’t go picking them up and playing with them ... stuff they’ll just think is litter ...’

They trudged down the dark, dank lane towards the village, the silence broken only by their footsteps. The sky lightened very slowly as they made their way through the village, its inky blackness diluting to deepest blue. Harry’s hands and feet were freezing. Mr Weasley kept checking his watch.

They didn’t have breath to spare for talking as they began to climb Stoatshead Hill, stumbling occasionally in hidden rabbit holes, slipping on thick black tuffets of grass. Each breath Harry took was sharp in his chest, and his legs were starting to seize up when at last his feet found level ground.

‘Whew,’ panted Mr Weasley, taking off his glasses and wiping them on his sweater. ‘Well, we’ve made good time – we’ve got ten minutes …’

Hermione came over the crest of the hill last, clutching a stitch in her side.

‘Now we just need the Portkey,’ said Mr Weasley, replacing his glasses and squinting around at the ground. ‘It won’t be big … come on …’

They spread out, searching. They had only been at it for a couple of minutes, however, when a shout rent the still air. ‘Over here, Arthur! Over here, son, we’ve got it!’

Two tall figures were silhouetted against the starry sky on the other side of the hilltop. ‘Amos!’ said Mr Weasley, smiling as he strode over to the man who had shouted. The rest of them followed.

Mr Weasley was shaking hands with a ruddy-faced wizard with a scrubby brown beard, who was holding a mouldy looking old boot in his other hand.

‘This is Amos Diggory, everyone,’ said Mr Weasley. ‘Works for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. And I think you know his son, Cedric?’

Cedric Diggory was an extremely handsome boy of around seventeen. He was captain and Seeker of the Hufflepuff house Quidditch team at Hogwarts.

‘Hi,’ said Cedric, looking around at them all.

Everybody said ‘Hi’ back except Fred and George, who merely nodded. They had never quite forgiven Cedric for beating their team, Gryffindor, in the first Quidditch match of the previous year.

‘Long walk, Arthur?’ Cedric’s father asked.

‘Not too bad,’ said Mr Weasley. ‘We live just on the other side of the village there. You?’

‘Had to get up at two, didn’t we, Ced? I tell you, I’ll be glad when he’s got his Apparition test. Still … not complaining … Quidditch World Cup, wouldn’t miss it for a sackful of Galleons – and the tickets cost about that. Mind you, looks like I got off easy …’ Amos Diggory peered good-naturedly around at the three Weasley boys, Harry, Hermione and Ginny.

‘All these yours, Arthur?’

‘Oh, no, only the redheads,’ said Mr Weasley, pointing out his children. ‘This is Hermione, friend of Ron’s – and Harry, another friend –’

‘Merlin’s beard,’ said Amos Diggory, his eyes widening. ‘Harry? Harry Potter?’

‘Er – yeah,’ said Harry.

Harry was used to people looking curiously at him when they met him, used to the way their eyes moved at once to the lightning scar on his forehead, but it always made him feel uncomfortable.

‘Ced’s talked about you, of course,’ said Amos Diggory. ‘Told us all about playing against you last year … I said to him, I said – Ced, that’ll be something to tell your grandchildren, that will … you beat Harry Potter!’

Harry couldn’t think of any reply to this, so he remained silent. Fred and George were both scowling again. Cedric looked slightly embarrassed.

‘Harry fell off his broom, Dad,’ he muttered. ‘I told you … it was an accident …’

‘Yes, but you didn’t fall off, did you?’ roared Amos genially, slapping his son on his back.

‘Always modest, our Ced, always the gentleman … but the best man won, I’m sure Harry’d say the same, wouldn’t you, eh? One falls off his broom, one stays on, you don’t need to be a genius to tell which one’s the better flier!’

‘Must be nearly time,’ said Mr Weasley quickly, pulling out his watch again. ‘Do you know whether we’re waiting for any more, Amos?’

‘No, the Lovegoods have been there for a week already and the Fawcetts couldn’t get tickets,’ said Mr Diggory. ‘There aren’t any more of us in this area, are there?’

‘Not that I know of,’ said Mr Weasley. ‘Yes, it’s a minute off … we’d better get ready …’ He looked around at Harry and Hermione. ‘You just need to touch the Portkey, that’s all, a finger will do –’

With difficulty, owing to the bulky backpacks, the nine of them crowded around the old boot held out by Amos Diggory.

They all stood there, in a tight circle, as a chill breeze swept over the hilltop. Nobody spoke. It suddenly occurred to Harry how odd this would look if a Muggle were to walk up here now … nine people, two grown men, clutching this manky old boot in the semi-darkness, waiting …

‘Three …’ muttered Mr Weasley, one eye still on his watch, ‘two … one …’

It happened immediately: Harry felt as though a hook just behind his navel had been suddenly jerked irresistibly forwards. His feet had left the ground; he could feel Ron and Hermione on either side of him, their shoulders banging into his; they were all speeding forwards in a howl of wind and swirling colour; his forefinger was stuck to the boot as though it was pulling him magnetically onwards and then –

His feet slammed into the ground; Ron staggered into him and he fell over; the Portkey hit the ground near his head with a heavy thud.

Harry looked up. Mr Weasley, Mr Diggory and Cedric were still standing, though looking very windswept; everybody else was on the ground.

‘Seven past five from Stoatshead Hill,’ said a voice.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling