There was a definite end-of-the-holidays gloom in the air when Evan awoke next morning.
Heavy rain was still splattering against the window as he got dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt; they would change into their school robes on the Hogwarts Express.
Evan, Harry, Ron, Fred, and George had just reached the first-floor landing on their way down to breakfast, when Mrs. Weasley appeared at the foot of the stairs, looking Harassed.
“Arthur!” she called up the staircase. “Arthur! Urgent message from the Ministry!”
Mr. Weasley came clattering past with his robes on back-to-front and hurtled out of sight.
When Evan and the others entered the kitchen, they saw Mrs. Weasley rummaging anxiously in the drawers. “I’ve got a quill here somewhere!” … and Mr. Weasley bending over the fire, talking.
In front of him, Amos Diggory’s head was sitting in the middle of the flames like a large, bearded egg.
It was talking very fast, completely unperturbed by the sparks flying around it and the flames licking its ears.
“Muggle neighbors heard bangs and shouting, so they went and called those what do you call them … please-men. Arthur, you’ve got to get over there… ”
“Here!” said Mrs. Weasley breathlessly, pushing a piece of parchment, a bottle of ink, and a crumpled quill into Mr. Weasley’s hands.
She stuffed a piece of parchment, a bottle of ink and a crumpled feather pen into Mr. Weasley’s hand.
“It’s a real stroke of luck I heard about it!” said Mr. Diggory’s head. “I had to come into the office early to send a couple of owls, and I found the Improper Use of Magic lot all setting off … if Rita Skeeter gets hold of this one, Arthur …”
“What does Mad-Eye say happened?” Mr. Weasley asked, unscrewing the ink bottle, loading up his quill, and preparing to take notes.
Hearing them mention Moody, Evan, who was stuffing bread into his mouth, quietly paid attention to their words.
He probably knew what was going on, Voldemort and the vampires acted, and they attacked Moody last night.
He just didn’t know if there was any problem with Crouch, but even if Bartemius Crouch, Jr. was not rescued, Voldemort would probably have done the same after the stadium attack failed, and let Crouch Jr. pretend to be Moody, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, to carry out a new plot to take Harry out of school.
With the help of the powerful vampires, he would take action anyway, which was the key to his resurrection.
In the flames, Mr. Diggory’s head rolled its eyes. “He says he heard an intruder in his yard. He says he was creeping toward the house, but was ambushed by his dustbins.”
“What did the dustbins do?” asked Mr. Weasley, scribbling frantically.
“Made a hell of a noise and fired rubbish everywhere, as far as I can tell,” said Mr. Diggory. “Apparently one of them was still rocketing around when the please-men turned up…”
“And what about the intruder?” Mr. Weasley groaned.
“Arthur, you know Mad-Eye,” said Mr. Diggory’s head. “He’s been trying to help us investigate vampires recently, causing trouble everywhere. Think about it, someone creeping into his yard in the dead of night? More likely there’s a very shell-shocked cat wandering around somewhere, covered in potato peelings. But if the Improper Use of Magic lot get their hands on Mad-Eye, he’s had it… think of his record… we’ve got to get him off a minor charge, something in your department… What are exploding dustbins worth?”
“Might be a caution,” said Mr. Weasley, still writing very fast, his brow furrowed. “Mad-Eye didn’t use his wand? He didn’t actually attack anyone?”
“I’ll bet he leapt out of bed and started jinxing everything he could reach through the window,” said Mr. Diggory with a sigh, “but they’ll have a job proving it, there aren’t any casualties.”
“All right, I’m off,” Mr. Weasley said, and he stuffed the parchment with his notes on it into his pocket and dashed out of the kitchen again.
Mr. Diggory’s head looked around at Mrs. Weasley.
“Sorry about this, Molly!” he said, more calmly. “I have been bothering you so early, but Arthur is the only one who can get Mad-Eye off, and Mad-Eye is supposed to be starting his new job today. Why did he have to choose last night….”
“Never mind, Amos,” said Mrs. Weasley. “Sure you won’t have a bit of toast or anything before you go?”
“Oh go on, then,” said Mr. Diggory.
Mrs. Weasley took a piece of buttered toast from a stack on the kitchen table, put it into the fire tongs, and transferred it into Mr. Diggory’s mouth.
“Thanks.” He said in a muffled voice, and then, with a small pop, vanished.
Immediately afterwards, Mr. Weasley returned to the kitchen with a briefcase, his robes still on the wrong way and shouted goodbye to everyone.
“I’d better hurry… you have a good term, boys.” said Mr. Weasley to Evan, Harry, Ron and the twins, fastening a cloak over his shoulders and preparing to Disapparate.
“Arthur, wait a minute. You have to comb your hair, and change your robes before you go,” said Mrs. Weasley.
“Oh!” Mr. Weasley stopped and asked Mrs. Weasley to help him sort it out, “Molly, are you going to be alright taking the kids to King’s Cross?”
“Of course I will,” she said. “You just look after Mad-Eye, we’ll be fine.”
As Mr. Weasley vanished, Hermione, Ginny, Bill, and Charlie entered the kitchen.
“Did someone say Mad-Eye?” Bill asked. “What’s he been up to now?”
“He says someone tried to break into his house last night,” said Mrs. Weasley.
“Mad-Eye Moody?” said George thoughtfully, spreading marmalade on his toast. “Isn’t he that nutter…”
“Your father thinks very highly of Mad-Eye Moody,” said Mrs. Weasley sternly.
“Yeah, well, Dad collects plugs, doesn’t he?” said Fred quietly as Mrs. Weasley left the room. “Birds of a feather…”
“Moody was a great wizard in his time,” said Bill.
“He’s an old friend of Dumbledore,” said Charlie.
“Dumbledore is not what you would call normal, though, is he?” said Fred. “I mean, I know he’s a genius and everything…”
“Could someone tell me who Mad-Eye is?” Harry asked, he had not seen or heard of Moody before.
“He’s retired. He used to work at the Ministry, said Charlie. “I met him once when Dad took me to work with him. He was an Auror … one of the best … a Dark wizard catcher.”
“Yes!” Bill added. “Half of the cells in Azkaban are full because of him. He made himself loads of enemies, though … the families of people he caught, mainly … and I heard he’s been getting really paranoid in his old age. He doesn’t trust anyone anymore and he sees Dark wizards everywhere.”
“Yeah, Dad talked to Sirius about it the other day!” Ron agreed. “The same is true of the Head of the Auror office named Rufus Scrimgeour. He’s suspicious and looks like bad news; but Sirius thinks highly of him. He says that this is the Auror’s forte: trust nobody!”
“I don’t know!” said Harry. “But I don’t want Sirius to become like that.”