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In Goblet of Fire, in the chapter “The Triwizard Tournament”, just when fake-Moody first arrives during the start-of-term feast, the following occurs:

The stranger [Moody] reached Dumbledore. He stretched out a hand that was as badly scarred as his face, and Dumbledore shook it, muttering words Harry couldn’t hear. He seemed to be making some enquiry of the stranger, who shook his head unsmilingly and replied in an undertone. Dumbledore nodded, and gestured the man to the empty seat on his right-hand side.

Goblet of Fire, p. 164 (UK/Bloomsbury paperback)

This seems like the kind of conversation that, being ‘hidden’ from the reader by narrative techniques and coming right at the first appearance of the main villain-to-be(-known) in the book, ought to be highly significant and imbued with deeper meaning. Or at the very least, if there is no deeper meaning to it, it seems odd and unnecessary to mention it at all in this kind of tantalising way. But surprisingly, I cannot find anywhere else in the book(s) where it is referred to.

What did Dumbledore ask fake-Moody? Do we know at all? Have I not been looking hard enough? Or did Rowling perhaps intend for there to be some clue in this, but then changed her mind and forgot to get rid of this bit?

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    I think it simply demonstrates Moody's first appearance at Hogwarts. Canon doesn't address it further, and I personally don't know of any interview with J.K. Rowling where she mentions it as being of any significance. I don't think she's said anything about it at all; please correct me if I am wrong. I think it's just a descriptive passage. :) Apr 19, 2015 at 14:14
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    Sorry for making a second separate comment, but your question reminds me very much of a bit in the film version of Goblet of Fire. In it, Dumbledore is addressing the students in the Great Hall, and suddenly Filch bursts in, runs to the front of the hall to Dumbledore, and whispers in Dumbledore's ear for several seconds. Then he runs out the same way he came in, and Dumbledore simply resumes addressing the students. What the heck did Filch say? We can't hear it and it's never explicitly explained. That little sccene has always seemed jarring to me, and unnecessary. :) Apr 19, 2015 at 14:19
  • @Slytherincess Yes, exactly the same thing! I'm not overly fond of the movies and I've only seen GoF the once, so I don't remember that scene at all, but it sounds exactly like this. Why have the air of secrecy about it in the first place if it's not important? Why not just have Moody come in, shake Dumbledore’s hand, and go sit in his chair then? Apr 19, 2015 at 14:23
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    @AlfredoHernández That’s not my point. Lots of things happen in the book that are unimportant and have no bearing on the story line; that's both fine and necessary to make the books interesting. But those things are not shrouded in mystery. There are few things more annoying than subplots that build up interest and excitement in the reader, only to then vanish and never be referred to again. Moody’s entire entrance at the feast is unnecessary for the plot (he could just as well have been there from the start), but only the mysteriously hushed conversation with Dumbledore feels meaningful. Apr 19, 2015 at 23:01
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    Yeah, he's more of a default-to-a-frown kinda guy. Though he coulda been complaining about the hassle he got from the Ministry that morning about his bins, no-one smiles during a moan about bumbling government :P
    – DavidS
    Apr 20, 2015 at 16:27

1 Answer 1

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I don't think JKR ever addressed this (never seen anything in any interview/Pottermore).

But the point of this offhand description (assuming there even was one - which I am unconvinced there was :) could have been:

  • Show that Moody and Dumbledore know each other and respect each other, instantly typecasting him as a Good-Guy (vs. Umbridge who couldn't stand Albus, for example).

  • Show that fake-Moody was good enough to fool Dumbledore on personal contact

As to the specific content - Moody said there was an attack on him immediately prior - so Dumbledore possibly asked him if he was OK after the attack. Or if he was OK in general, given his late arrival. Other options are possible (discuss Karkaroff?)

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  • Your second point is a good one. This is one of the few times where fake-Moody and Dumbledore are in close contact without there being something larger at hand being discussed (like in the chamber off the Great Hall right after Harry’s name has come out of the Goblet). I agree that since nothing more specific seems to be there, he was probably just asking whether Moody had any idea who was behind the intrusion/attack the night before or something like that. Apr 20, 2015 at 16:18

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