It is raining hard the following morning, and the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione wake up to find Amos Diggory's head in the fireplace. Amos reports that Mad-Eye Moody set his dustbins to attack what he thought was an intruder, and has been caught by Muggle policemen. Mad-Eye Moody once was a great Auror (dark wizard catcher), but now he has grown old and suspicious. Mr. Weasley speeds off to the Ministry to sort this out, while everyone else loads into the three Muggle taxicabs that will take them to King's Cross Station. The Hogwarts students enter platform nine and three-quarters and board the Hogwarts Express. Charlie hints that he may be seeing them sooner than they think.
On the train, Harry, Ron and Hermione overhear Draco Malfoy boasting to his friends that his father wanted to send him to Durmstrang, a wizard school in Northern Europe that teaches the Dark Arts. The three then lapse into a discussion about various other European wizard schools. The three friends reunite with other students, such as Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, and Neville Longbottom, who lives with his grandmother and was the only one who did not attend the World Cup. Ron has draped his new dress robe over Pig's owl cage, and Malfoy saunters by, spies it, picks on Ron for a bit, and mentions something mysterious that is soon to happen at Hogwarts. Finally, they arrive at Hogwarts and are taken to the castle in a row of horseless carriages, while the first-year students cross the lake in boats with Hagrid.
Once the students enter the castle, they are bombarded with water-balloons by Peeves, the annoying Hogwarts poltergeist. Drenched, they all file into the Great Hall for dinner, where they sit at tables with their respective Houses. Harry is greeted by Nearly-Headless Nick, the friendly Gryffindor House ghost, while he waits for the Sorting to begin and wonders who the new defense against the dark arts teacher will be. As soon as the first-years enter the hall, Professor McGonagall places a dilapidated hat on a stool, and promptly the hat sings a song and, when placed on the head of each first-year, calls out the name of the appropriate house where he or she would live. Dennis Creevey, the younger brother of Colin Creevey, a third-year who idolizes Harry, is Sorted into Gryffindor, and he gawks at the scar on Harry's forehead.
Dinner appears on the tables, and as the students eat, Nearly Headless Nick mentions that Peeves has caused problems with the house-elves in the kitchen. Hermione stares at him, proclaims that Hogwarts is engaging in slave-labor, and refuses to finish her dinner. Soon the headmaster, Dumbledore, rises to address the school. He tells them that the annual Quidditch Cup will not take place this year; before he can tell them what will take its place, he is interrupted by the entrance of a gnarled, grumpy looking man with one large swiveling eye: Mad-Eye Moody, who is the school's new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. The students stare silently as Dumbledore introduces him, and they listen in anticipation as Dumbledore proceeds to explain that the Triwizard Tournament, a competition between representatives from each of the three largest European schools of wizardry (Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang), will take place this year at Hogwarts. It had been discontinued hundreds of years ago because of high death tolls, but the Ministry of Magic has now taken enough precautions for it to continue. He adds that the winner will receive a thousand galleons, and that nobody younger than seventeen years old can enter. The Weasley twins scoff, and that night as Harry falls asleep in his dorm room, he imagines himself entering and winning the Triwizard Tournament. He imagines Cho Chang, a Ravenclaw girl on whom he has a crush, cheering for him.
The return to Hogwarts details many of the recurring rivalries at the school. Malfoy and his cronies have not yet tired of picking on Ron for his lack of money, and Colin Creevey trails Harry around. Peeves engages in pranks, and Hermione takes an strong moral stance about house elves. The return to normalcy is reassuring after the irregularities at the World Cup, it is reassuring to return to the confines and comforts of Hogwarts, where at least the routines and the people are predictable. But of course, Hogwarts even in its traditions is never fully traditional; and what seems prepared to be a "normal" school year opens up into a yearlong interschool tournament, the student counterpart of the Quidditch World Cup, aiming to unite young wizards across Europe.
For Harry, the Triwizard Tournament is an interesting challenge; he is not allowed to enter, as he is underage. However, he has always been considered a hero by the wizard world, and although he doesn't need or want the extra fame, he does think it would feel good to enter and win. Because Harry's name gained its renown before he was old enough to remember, his adventures allow him to live up to his notoriety, and prove himself worthy of recognition. This tournament would further that purpose, and in addition, Harry has his first legitimate interest in the opposite sex, and the goal of impressing Cho motivates him.