Lavender and Parvati obviously find McGonagall's description of the Yule Ball amusing.

"The Yule Ball is approaching - a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament and an opportunity for us to socialise with our foreign guests. Now, the ball will be open only to fourth-years and above - although you may invite a younger student if you wish -"
Lavender Brown let out a shrill giggle. Parvati Patil nudged her hard in the ribs, her face working furiously as she, too, fought not to giggle. They both looked around at Harry.
(Goblet of Fire, Chapter 22, The Unexpected Task)

Specifically, they laugh at Harry and the requirement that only older students are allowed to go. What's the joke? I don't understand why they would both look round at Harry at that moment.

  • 16
    For the record, these two giggle at everything
    – Valorum
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 23:32
  • @Valorum I know. Especially in the vicinity of Professor Trelawney, I believe. Commented May 24, 2016 at 23:42

5 Answers 5


Probably because one of them wanted to go with Harry.

Parvati and Lavender looked at Harry while McGonagall was talking about who could attend the ball. This would suggest that they were interesting in going with Harry.

Indeed, Parvati does later go to the Yule Ball with Harry, and (initially) is rather enthusiastic about it.

“Wait here,” he said to Ron, and he stood up, walked straight up to Parvati, and said, “Parvati? Will you go to the ball with me?”

Parvati went into a fit of giggles. Harry waited for them to subside, his fingers crossed in the pocket of his robes. “Yes, all right then,” she said finally, blushing furiously.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Lavender, Parvati, and Harry are all in the same year, so the statement that "you may invite a younger student if you wish" is probably not relevant. It might seem that it must be, since Parvati and Lavender start laughing as soon as McGonagall mentions inviting younger students, but keep in mind that this is the same sentence in which she announced the Yule Ball in the first place.

One other possibility is that Parvati, Lavender, or both, could be older than Harry by a few months. This note indicates that Parvati was older than Harry, but it is based on the supposition that Padma was taking Potions in HBP, which, based on a text search, does not seem guaranteed. In any case, they could have been appreciably older than Harry, which might explain their laughing at that exact time. On the other hand, they could have been a few months younger, which might also provide a reason. It doesn't seem likely that Parvati and Lavender would consider someone in the same year "a younger student," but it is possible.

  • 1
    It may be that they wanted to go with Harry but it seems strange that they would laugh after the bit about younger students. I was wondering if it was an early allusion to the Harry-Ginny partnership but this is maybe a tad far-fetched. Commented May 24, 2016 at 23:41
  • @TheDarkLord - I agree, that's the most obvious implication. That's why I mentioned that this was basically the first time McGonagall had mentione the Yule Ball at all.
    – Adamant
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 23:42
  • 7
    Keep in mind also that...they may have giggled immediately after the line about younger students, but it doesn't mean that's what set it off. If you assume they whispered something between them during the announcement, it would logically have nothing to do with the last line, but probably about the ball itself. Commented May 25, 2016 at 0:40
  • @starpilotsix - Yes, I mentioned that.
    – Adamant
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 0:41
  • They couldn't have been months younger — Hogwarts uses the 1st September as the cut off date (Hermione is one of the oldest in the year, and Harry one of the youngest). They could be up to 11 months older though. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 10:27

I didn't read the joke as relating to the "you may invite a younger student if you wish" specifically when I read the book.

One of the big themes in that particular part is how oblivious Harry is to the social protocols, and awkward around girls, etc. A main tradition of the Triwizard Tournament is the "lead dance" with the champions and their partners, of which Harry is one.

Harry doesn't even realise this is a thing for a while (iirc, McGonagall is basically like "You better actually ask someone or else you'll embarrass us" [paraphrase]), but other people are far more knowledgable, and these girls in particular are shown to be exceptionally socially aware. The picture of him dancing with a girl is a joke in and of itself.

As The Dark Lord mentioned in a comment, it could also be an allusion to Harry-Ginny. But unless there's Word of God evidence for it (which I haven't seen), I don't think the books alone contain evidence that that is likely.


Perhaps, like Hermione, they saw that Harry (subconsciously for now) liked Ginny and they expected him to ask her. The two of them were also Hermione's closest dormitory friends and were likely to have had a slight joke with Hermione and each other about Harry and Ginny's relationship. They probably giggled thinking about Harry asking Ginny to the ball, not to mention the way they sometimes were a bit nervous around each other.

  • 1
    Welcome to SFF. This is a good answer, but may be considered speculation. Always try to back your answers up with quotes from the work or interviews. Have fun!
    – Skooba
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 12:07

Considering the very convenient line of 4th years and above, it is likely the ball would only have been open to the years that could participate in the tournament. Due to Harry, that boundary has shifted downwards rather dramatically, making it a rather giggle-worthy ammending of the rules.

  • What's your basis for saying that the age limit for attending the Yule Ball was "shifted downwards" from previous tournaments. The Triwizard Tournament hadn't been held for hundreds of years. Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 12:48
  • @TheDarkLord Mostly how it was bloody convenient. Especially since, in earlier tournaments, anyone attending the schools could enter - even those in earlier years. Would they then not be able to attend the ball with their friends?
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 12:49
  • We don't hear anything really about previous Yule Balls so I don't think we can draw any firm conclusions. I find it quite hard to fathom that Lavender and Parvati would consider a realignment of the rules something to giggle about, anyway. Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 13:01
  • @TheDarkLord A realignment of the rules to allow them to attend an otherwise 'adult' forumal event? Do you even know teenage girls? And we know the Yule Ball is a tradition, so my last comment regarding it holds. But I see why you don't like the answer, it is really mostly conjecture.
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 13:05

I actually thought that perhaps they had had a divination session where Trelawney had "predicted" for the girls that one of them would go to the yule ball with Harry. Don't know why but that's what popped into my head when I first read it.

  • 1
    What does this have to do with Lavender and Pravati giggling at the Yule Ball restrictions?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:40
  • Sorry but this seems like guesswork to me. Do you have anything from the books to support your answer? Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 10:40

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