Chapter Nine: The Dark Mark
After several hours of discussing the game, the two Weasley tents quiet down and sleep. Mr. Weasley awakens Harry and tells him to get outside the tent. He does so, and he see a crowd of masked, hooded wizards marching through camp. He sees Mr. Roberts, his wife, and his kids levitating above them. It is an awful sight, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione run to the woods; there, they find Draco Malfoy leaning against a tree and looking pleased. He explains to them that the crowd is rampaging against Muggles and Mudbloods (an offensive term for wizards who, like Hermione, are born of Muggle parents). The three friends ignore him and suddenly Harry realizes that he cannot find his wand. In this midst of this chaos, they spy Winky the house-elf limping along, squeaking fearfully to herself. Ludo Bagman then appears near them, looks alarmed, and disappears. Moments later, they hear a spell mumbled and see a green smoky skull with a snake in its mouth, arising high in the sky. The woods around them erupt in screams. Suddenly many wands are aimed at Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who duck in time to escape being stupefied.
Mr. Weasley comes to rescue them, but not before Mr. Crouch storms over and asks which of them conjured the Dark Mark. The three explain that they heard a voice summoning it, but Mr. Crouch suspects them. At this point, Mr. Diggory goes into the trees and emerges holding an unconscious Winky in his arms, as well as a wand he found in her hand. Mr. Crouch is horrified and defensive, and Mr. Diggory brings Winky back to consciousness to ask what happened. She says that she did not do it, and Harry notices that the wand she was holding is his. This causes a new wave of suspicion, especially when Mr. Diggory reveals that this wand did in fact summon the Dark Mark. It seems highly unlikely that either Harry Potter or Mr. Crouch's house-elf could or would have conjured the spell, so the frightened group disbands. Hermione is deeply upset to watch Mr. Crouch threatening to fire Winky, and she begins to speak of slavery and elf-rights. As the group returns to their tents, Mr. Weasley reassures the masses that everything is okay, and then he explains to his kids and Harry that Voldemort's followers, the Death Eaters, always made the Dark Mark after killing someone, and as they were the ones levitating the Muggles, they would have been frightened by the Dark Mark into thinking that Voldemort had returned to find that that they had betrayed him, as they had managed to escape being put into Azkaban Prison. Harry is shaken by this knowledge, and he wonders whether it pertains to the pain in his scar three nights before.
Chapter Ten: Mayhem at the Ministry
The Weasley party goes home early the next morning; Mrs. Weasley is tearful and relieved to see them all alive, after reading about the Dark Mark in the wizarding news. Mr. Weasley heads to the Ministry to clear up rumors written by the reporter Rita Skeeter in the article, and Harry confides to Ron and Hermione about his scar hurting; they react just as he predicted they would. For the following week, Percy and Mr. Weasley spend all of their time at the Ministry of Magic, while Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley kids prepare their school things to return to Hogwarts. They learn from Bill about Rita Skeeter's reputation for ruining wizard reputations in her news articles. The night before they leave for school, Mrs. Weasley brings to the kids an armful of laundered dress robes, and Ron throws a fit at the fact that his are second-hand and lacy, and Mrs. Weasley leaves the room defeated. Harry feels deeply sorry for Ron about financial matters, because Harry's parents left him a small fortune, and the Weasleys are always struggling to make ends meet.
In these chapters, we see a shadow of the mass fear caused by Voldemort's hold on the wizarding world. Although Harry is alarmed and confused by what is going on, the terrified crowds and the hysterical Mrs. Weasley, are much more representative of the response most grown wizards have to this event. The harassing of the Muggles and the conjuring of the Dark Mark prepare Harry and his friends for what they ultimately are to expect if Voldemort returns to power. The rampage of the masked, hooded, and violent characters represents the spectre of one group of people mindlessly tormenting another. Draco's pleasure during these exploits is in keeping with his excitement during Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Muggle-born wizards are being attacked by the Heir of Slytherin. Draco's family is deeply rooted in Dark Wizardry, and this connection is strongly illustrated in this section. This sort of bigotry is especially directed at people like Hermione, whose parents are Muggles, and whose magical intelligence and ability is threatening to those wizards (mostly Slytherins) who hope to gain power by their names and their wealth alone.
Hermione is not as concerned about Malfoy as she is about Mr. Crouch's mistreatment of his house-elf. She recognizes this treatment as a form of abusive slavery and takes deep offense. The aftermath of the Dark Mark is the seed of Hermione's activism about liberating house-elves. Hermione's outrage represents the liberation of any oppressed minority from a stronger, more manipulative group. This fight against fear and enslavement is one of the main themes of the novel and is at the core of this entire series, in the form of an ongoing fight against oppression of Dark Wizards. In this book, Hermione comes into her own maturity more than ever before; all of the characters grow up through the series, but here Hermione sticks to her guns more than ever, and she does it in a passionate but collected, self-reliant fashion, fighting causes, helping people other than herself.
Rita Skeeter represents the omnipresent force of untruth in this book, as Professor Trelawney does in the previous book. Rita, however, is more deliberate in her efforts; she complicates situations, fully aware that he quotes are not accurate, and in this introduction to her, we are given a hint of what is to come, as well as a lesson to readers of J.K. Rowling's novels: this author almost never mentions names that do not at some point become significant to the plot. This chapter reintroduces the problem of the Weasleys' finances, a theme that rears its head more in this book than in the others; and lastly, one certainty offered by these chapters is that Harry's scar scare is not simply a coincidence. It foretells Voldemort's involvement and closeness.
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