Warning: spoilers for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire are more abundant than gnomes at the Burrow. Proceed with caution!
Harry Potter never asked for help with the Triwizard Tournament. And he certainly never asked to be assisted by Death Eater Barty Crouch junior disguised as famous Auror Mad-Eye Moody. In fact, he never actually asked for his name to be entered into the Goblet of Fire in the first place. It’s complicated.
Let’s take this step-by-step and explore how we think Harry would have fared in the Triwizard Tournament without Mad-Eye Moody’s help.
Oh, and you might notice we’ve referred to Barty Crouch junior as Mad-Eye Moody in the title of this article to save people from spoilers. For consistency, we’ll be referring to Barty Crouch junior as Mad-Eye Moody throughout, just to put you in the same position as Harry and keep you on your toes.
According to the new rules of the Triwizard Tournament, Dumbledore drew an Age Line around the Goblet of Fire, to prevent anyone under seventeen from entering. Harry was as surprised as everyone else when his name came out as a fourth Triwizard champion. Only later did he find out that it was Mad-Eye Moody who put his name in the Goblet of Fire, under the name of a different school. But if Harry had really wanted to enter the Tournament, could he somehow have figured out a way around Dumbledore’s Age Line?
Fred and George Weasley attempted it with an Ageing Potion and, as Hermione predicted, it didn’t work. But what about if Hermione had really put her mind to it and helped Harry enter the Triwizard Tournament? Could she have used her famous logic to outsmart even Albus Dumbledore? After all, Mad-Eye Moody did, and he wasn’t even the real Mad-Eye. One hurdle might have been Hermione not being all too keen on breaking rules. But then she did brew Polyjuice Potion in her second year at Hogwarts, breaking – in her words – ‘about fifty school rules’.
For the sake of argument, let’s say Harry managed to persuade Hermione to help him, and as a Hogwarts champion, he progressed to the first task…
It was Mad-Eye Moody who nudged Hagrid into showing Harry the dragons, as well as Mad-Eye who helped Harry see how he could play to his Quidditch strengths to succeed in the first task.
But we’re not entirely sure what difference Mad-Eye Moody’s help actually made on this particular task. Hagrid was never a brilliant keeper of secrets – in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, his catchphrase could have been, ‘I shouldn’ta told yeh that!’. And given how much Hagrid cared about Harry, we reckon he would have been likely to show Harry the dragons anyway, to prepare him. Even if Hagrid hadn’t, we’re not entirely sure it was helpful for Harry to have seen the Hungarian Horntail up close. Arguably, it made him even more nervous just before he was about to begin the first task!
We should also add into our considerations the fact that Harry wasn’t as unfamiliar with dragons as some of the other Triwizard champions might have been. He’d unwillingly come far too close to a Norwegian Ridgeback in his first year at Hogwarts – a dragon Hagrid affectionately named Norbert. Perhaps this familiarity might have helped him in the first task, even without the dragon warning?
Then there is the small matter of getting past the dragon and retrieving the golden egg. Would Harry have been prepared to do this without Mad-Eye Moody’s hints about using a broom? It’s worth remembering that it was actually Harry who worked out that he’d need a Summoning Charm. And then it was Hermione who helped Harry to learn how to Summon his broom from a great distance. Had they had prior warning from Hagrid about the dragons, we reckon Harry and Hermione might have worked things out on their own. On to the second task…
Mad-Eye Moody told Harry that it was he who told Cedric Diggory to open the golden egg underwater, and then trusted that Cedric would pass the information on to Harry in repayment for the dragons. But it was actually Harry who made the decision to tell Cedric about the dragons himself, so that all the champions were on an equal footing for the first task. Also, Mad-Eye Moody might have pointed Cedric in the right direction with the egg, but Cedric was a clever and resourceful student, as well as kind; he may very well have worked it out on his own and shared the information with Harry anyway.
The trickster Moody also planted (excuse the pun) the book Magical Mediterranean Water-Plants and Their Properties in Harry’s Gryffindor dormitory – and by planted we mean he gave it to Neville Longbottom. When Harry didn’t ask Neville for help, Moody then staged a conversation with Professor McGonagall about Gillyweed in front of Dobby, who ‘ran straight to Snape’s store- cupboard’ to get a mouthful for Harry in time for the second task.
We think that the question of how Harry would have fared in the second task without Moody’s interference really comes down to loyalty. Harry was a loyal friend and inspired loyalty in others too – perhaps his Gryffindor roots were to thank for this? Neville was great at Herbology and may well have known about Gillyweed even without the book. Perhaps at the eleventh hour, Harry might have sought him out, and no doubt Neville would have helped him anyway.
Then there’s the matter of the second task itself. Moody might have helped with the Gillyweed but he didn’t help down in the lake. Professor Lupin taught Harry about Grindylows – they were in his Defence Against the Dark Arts exam in third year. Harry managed to fight them off in the second task, where Fleur failed. It was also Harry’s Gryffindor courage and loyalty that got him the extra points from the second task – saving both Ron and Fleur’s little sister. On to the third and final task…
'You had an easier time of it than you should have done in that maze tonight, of course,’ said Moody. ‘That was because I was patrolling around it, able to see through the outer hedges, able to curse many obstacles out of your way. I Stunned Fleur Delacour as she passed. I put the Imperius Curse on Krum, so that he would finish Diggory, and leave your path to the Cup clear.’
We don’t want to be rude, but Moody might have had an inflated sense of his own importance here. Harry’s Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons with Lupin the previous year were hugely beneficial to him in the maze – he cast a Patronus and then saw off a Boggart in quick succession. Harry was also very naturally talented at defensive magic, as we saw with his duel with Lord Voldemort only moments after he completed the maze. Also, let’s not forget that the year after the Triwizard Tournament, Harry actually taught defensive magic to a whole bunch of people known as Dumbledore’s Army.
We can’t say for sure, but we reckon Harry would have had just as good a chance of getting to that cup first as Cedric, or Krum, or Fleur, even without Moody’s interference.
We can’t deny that it would have been tough for Harry to get through to the third task without Moody’s help. But we don’t think it would have been impossible, as long as Harry had help from his friends.
One of Harry’s greatest qualities was that he knew the importance of friendship and knew that sometimes you just have to ask for a helping hand. It didn’t hurt that one of his best friends happened to be the cleverest witch of her age, either.
Still curious? This is just one of the 'What if' articles in the series. Click here to read one about Dumbledore...