Well, so I said I wasn’t going to wait to write this, and then I waited to write this. Over two months. I start reading book six tomorrow*. [loud moaning noise] (when fun things become chores) [loud moaning noise]
*And then I waited almost two more weeks after writing that sentence.
The thing is, it’s not the review writing, it’s the quote transcribing! Something I have learned about myself is I don’t like doing it!
I’m not going to make any more promises. That way I won’t feel bad when I inevitably break them.
– – –
The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it the “the Riddle House,” even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there.
I can’t ever read this chapter without remembering the time I plagiarized it so hard for an English assignment during my senior year of high school. There are excerpts in that link, and they are truly terrible.
“I will allow you to perform an essential task for me, one that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform . . .”
I remember the first time I re-read this book and saw this hiding right there in plain sight. This is why I re-read books, for moments like this, but the HP books really reward it.
“That was an excellent breakfast, wasn’t it?” said Harry. “I feel really full, don’t you?”
Harry is such a little shit.
“Harry said good-bye to you,” he said. “Didn’t you hear him?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Harry muttered to Mr. Weasley. “Honestly, I don’t care.”
Mr. Weasley did not remove his hand from Harry’s shoulder.
“You aren’t going to see your nephew till next summer,” he said to Uncle Vernon in mild indignation. “Surely you’re going to say good-bye?”
Uncle Vernon’s face worked furiously. The idea of being taught consideration by a man who had just blasted away half his living room wall seemed to be causing him intense suffering. But Mr. Weasley’s wand was still in his hand, and Uncle Vernon’s tiny eyes darted to it once, before he said, very resentfully, “Good-bye, then.”
It’s so heartwarming every time the Weasleys are outraged on Harry’s behalf. And every time one of these incidents happen, they basically just get closer and closer to outright adopting him as their eighth child.
“We’ve been hearing explosions out of their room for ages, but we never thought they were actually making things,” said Ginny. “We just thought they liked the noise.”
I’ve always liked this line just because it’s funny, but this time around I really noticed a thread running throughout this book (and the next one) of everyone around them underestimating the hell out of Fred and George, just because they aren’t using their brains and enthusiasm in “appropriate” ways. They are really smart! And they think out of the box. It’s what makes them such good troublemakers and rule breakers, but of course it makes sense that it would be good for business as well.
“Accio! Accio! Accio!” she shouted, and toffees zoomed from all sorts of unlikely places, including the lining of George’s jacket and the turn-ups of Fred’s jeans.
“We spent six months developing those!” Fred shouted at his mother, as she threw the toffees away.
“Oh, a fine way to spend six months!” she shrieked. “No wonder you didn’t get more O.W.Ls!”
See what I mean! Their mother is so busy being upset at what they’re not, and measuring them against what is considered normal (success=O.W.Ls), she doesn’t see what they are. Six months of hard work is nothing to sneer at, but Mrs. Weasley outright dismisses it. I am 100% on Fred and George’s side in this argument.
There was already a small queue for the tap in the corner of the field. Harry, Ron, and Hermione joined it, right behind a pair of men who were having a heated argument. One of them was a very old wizard who was wearing a long flowery nightgown. The other was clearly a ministry wizard; he was holding out a pair of pinstriped trousers and almost crying with exasperation.
“Just put them on, Archie, there’s a good chap. You can’t walk around like that, the muggle at the gate’s already getting suspicious—”
“I bought this in a Muggle shop,” said the old wizard stubbornly. “Muggles wear them.”
“Muggle WOMEN wear them, Archie, not the men, they wear THESE,” said the Ministry wizard, and he brandished the pinstriped trousers.
“I’m not putting them on,” said old Archie in indignation. “I like a health breeze ’round my privates, thanks.”
I have nothing to say about this moment. I just wanted to include it.
“Dad’s having fun with the matches,” said Fred.
Mr. Weasley was having no success at all in lighting the fire, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Splintered matches littered the ground around him, but he looked as thought he was having the time of his life.
Mr. Weasley is such a dear soul. This is meant to be a funny little character moment, but it’s just so telling of who he is. He gets such joy out something so small, and something his peers do not care about at all.
“Vell, ve fought bravely,” said a gloomy voice behind Harry. He looked around; it was the Bulgarian Minister of Magic.
“You can speak English!” said Fudge, sounding outraged. “And you’ve been letting me mime everything all day!”
“Vell, it vos very funny,” said the Bulgarian Minister, shrugging.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister trolling Fudge is exactly what Fudge deserves.
He usually kept his wand with him at all times in the wizarding world, and finding himself without it in the midst of a scene like this made him feel very vulnerable.
This is exactly how I feel when don’t have my phone with me.
“Death Eaters?” said Harry. “What are Death Eaters?”
OKAY SO LET’S TALK ABOUT DEATH EATERS. First of all, what a great name for your bad guys. It just sounds cool, on a superficial level. But when you think about it, it gets even better. Voldemort’s whole thing is that he wants to conquer death, and what better way to conquer your enemy than by eating them? But also, I’m pretty sure that they are also connected to the idea of the “sin eater,” which is a person who ritualistically absolved a person of sin by eating it (usually in the form of a meal, but in fantasy I’ve seen it be rather more literal than that). If the Death Eaters are Voldemort’s inner circle, what other purpose do they have than helping absolve Voldemort of his death? Anyway, it’s neat!
Harry rolled over in bed, a series of dazzling new pictures forming in his mind’s eye . . . He had hoodwinked the impartial judge into believing he was seventeen . . . he had become Hogwarts champion . . . he was standing on the grounds, his arms raised in triumph in front of the whole school, all of whom were applauding and screaming . . . he had just won the Triwizard Tournament. Cho’s face stood out particularly clearly in the blurred crowd, her face glowing with admiration . . .
Harry grinned into his pillow, exceptionally glad that Ron couldn’t see what he could.
This moment is just so good. Most of this does happen, but the innocence and happiness of it is totally undercut, and the result is twisted. The judge is hoodwinked, but not by him and for a nefarious purpose. He does become Hogwarts Champion, and he does end up standing on the grounds holding the cup while the whole school screams, but it’s not with applause but terror. Cho’s face ends up glowing with tears, because she was dating Cedric, and now Cedric is dead.
“As a matter of fact I think he’s right. The best thing to do would be to stamp on the lot of them before they start attacking us all.”
I love Hagrid, I do. But if I was his student, I would be so miserable. When I was in school, I loved learning things, and he is not a good teacher! He’s not! He lets his enthusiasm take over his good sense. Those few times he’s basically forced to do normal lessons, he’s very good at it (like when he brings in the unicorns, or the nifflers). But instead, most of the his students have either got blast-ended skrewts, which are useless and terrifying, or like, flobberworms, which are useless and boring. It makes me frustrated and I don’t even go there!
“Oh yes,” said Neville, “I’m fine, thanks. Just reading this book Professor Moody lent me . . . ”
He held up the book: Magical Water-Plants of the Mediterranean.
“Apparently, Professor Sprout told Professor Moody I’m really good at Herbology,” Neville said. There was a faint note of pride in his voice that Harry had rarely heard there before. “He thought I’d like this.”
When a bad guy makes for a really good teacher. And even though he was only doing this so that Neville would have the book before the Second Task, and Harry could theoretically learn about Gillyweed from him, the actual effect is that Neville gets a much-needed boost in confidence when he’s at his lowest, reliving the trauma of seeing the Imperious Curse in action.
It was the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness. He stood there feeling immensely relaxed, only dimly aware of everyone watching him.
And then he heard Mad-Eye Moody’s voice, echoing in some distant chamber of his empty brain: Jump onto the desk . . . jump onto the desk . . .
Harry bent his knees obediently, preparing to spring.
Jump onto the desk . . .
Why, though? Another voice had awoken in the back of his brain.
Stupid thing to do, really, said the voice.
Jump onto the desk . . .
No, I don’t think I will, thanks, said the other voice, a little more firmly . . . no, I don’t really want to . . .
One of the things I like best about this series is that Harry is the hero not because he’s so special and talented (in most respects he’s completely average), but because the extraordinary circumstances of his life gifted him with an exceptionally strong sense of self, and of what he values in the world. But I’m sure I’ll be talking about that a lot more when we get to the end of Half-Blood Prince, and the prophecy.
“Eh?” said Ron vaguely. He was still staring avidly at Krum.
Nobody will take away my headcanon that Ron has a very real crush on Viktor Krum.
“But Harry set Dobby free and he was over the moon about it!” said Hermione. “And we heard he’s asking for wages now!”
“Yeah, well, you get weirdos in every breed. I’m not sayin’ there isn’t the odd elf who’d take freedom, but yeh’ll never persuade most of ’em to do it.”
I do not want to talk about the house elves as an extremely imperfect vehicle for talking about slavery. It’s so messy! And I don’t think it was supposed to be a direct correlation! Just a way for Rowling to talk about civil rights. (In much the same way she emphasizes that wizards mistreat goblins and centaurs and merfolk.) House elves are magical creatures who have it as part of their identity to enjoy serving people; this means you can’t successfully compare them to humans! But Hermione is right that that doesn’t mean they should be taken advantage of by wizards and witches, and there should be laws in place protecting them and granting them freedoms if they so wish it. But I don’t want to talk about it!
Harry got to his feet, trod on the hem of his robes, and stumbled slightly. He set off up the gap between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables. It felt like an immensely long walk; the top table didn’t seem to be getting any nearer at all, and he could feel hundreds and hundreds of eyes upon him, as though each were a searchlight. The buzzing grew louder and louder. After what seemed like an hour, he was right in front of Dumbledore, feeling the stares of all the teachers upon him.
“Well . . . through the door, Harry,” said Dumbledore. He wasn’t smiling.
This is horrific. Everyone was having so much fun! And now Ron hates Harry, and Harry has everyone thinking he’s a dirty cheater, and nobody is happy about any of it.
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”
This is why if you try to tell me that Snape is a secret sad hero and romanticize him, I will fight you. Snape’s life was a very, very mixed bag. And just because he did what he did in the end, and was very brave, doesn’t mean he wasn’t also a cruel bully for most of his life. And just because he had a very tough childhood, that doesn’t mean he and his cruelness should be excused. You can see why he’s that way, but that doesn’t mean he should get a pass, especially if he never tries to change and be better. Even Lily gave up on him in the end. This moment right here, is a thirty-something man, a teacher, telling one of the pupils whose minds he’s supposed to be shepherding and safeguarding, that she is ugly and worthless, and her feelings don’t matter in the slightest. I enjoy the challenge of reading a character like this, one who was not good in so many ways, but who also did good things. But we should never forget this moment when we are talking about Snape.
He was very fond of his wand, and as far as he was concerned its relationship to Voldemort’s wand was something it couldn’t help – rather as he couldn’t help being related to Aunt Petunia.
I love Harry.
But Harry couldn’t ignore it. Ron hadn’t spoken to him at all since he had told him about Snape’s detentions. Harry had half hoped they would make things up during the two hours they were forced to pickle rats’ brains in Snape’s dungeon, but that had been the day Rita’s article had appeared, which seemed to have confirmed Ron’s belief that Harry was really enjoying all the attention.
Hermione was furious with the pair of them; she went from one to the other, trying to force them to talk to each other, but Harry was adamant: He would talk to Ron again only if Ron admitted that Harry hadn’t put his name in the Goblet of Fire and apologized for calling him a liar.
“Sorry about that,” said Ron, his face reddening with anger. “Should’ve realized you didn’t want to be disturbed. I’ll let you get on with practicing for your next interview in peace. ”
Harry seized one of the POTTER REALLY STINKS badges off the table and chucked it, as hard as he could, across the room. It hit Ron on the forehead and bounced off.
“There you go,” Harry said. “Something for you to wear on Tuesday. You might even have a scar now, if you’re lucky. . . . That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
I get Ron’s frustration here, but he’s honestly being a terrible friend. (I am not going to go too hard on Ron here because I’m saving it for book six.) Ron has always had self-esteem issues that aren’t helped by his family constantly overshadowing him, and by having the smartest person in their year for a friend, as well as Harry for a best friend, who despite not wanting it, is always getting attention and getting mixed up in things that win him “glory” and attention from other people. Ron is allowing himself to indulge in the worse angels of his nature here. His sense of inadequacy and resentment and jealousy has allowed him to convince himself that Harry did lie to him about tricking the Goblet of Fire, and that Harry is enjoying all the press and things surrounding the tournament, when exactly the opposite is the case. Harry is isolated and worried and faces constant scrutiny (and in ribbing and ill-will), and Ron is actively making that worse. If Ron were capable of thinking rationally here, he would not want to be in Harry’s shoes at all. The fantasy of being Hogwarts champion is a lot different than the reality and Harry only succeeds because he has a lot of help.
“We should get a move on, you know. . . ask someone. He’s right. We don’t want to end up with a pair of trolls. ”
Hermione let out a sputter of indignation.
“A pair of . . . what, excuse me?”
“Well – you know,” said Ron, shrugging. “I’d rather go alone than with – with Eloise Midgen, say. ”
“Her acne’s loads better lately – and she’s really nice!”
“Her nose is off-center,” said Ron.
“Oh I see,” Hermione said, bristling. “So basically, you’re going to take the best-looking girl who’ll have you, even if she’s completely horrible?”
“Er – yeah, that sounds about right,” said Ron.
“I’m going to bed,” Hermione snapped, and she swept off toward the girls’ staircase without another word.
This is such an accurate representation of my experience with adolescent boys I’m not even angry about it. Harry but especially Ron are being super gross here, and it is exactly what is wrong with the way boys are taught to view girls and women. (Harry doesn’t say anything in this scene, really, but his utter lack of response to Ron is a tacit agreement, in my opinion.) Eloise Midgen may be Ron’s soulmate for all he knows, but he won’t ever because he only values her looks, and only in the capacity as outlined for him by other people. I’m sure this is extra upsetting for Hermione because she’s often judged for her bushy hair and (formerly) big front teeth before people can get to know her. I have had so many arguments with a couple of my male friends about the way they choose who to date, and why they can’t ever find a good, lasting relationship. Hmmm, I say, maybe if you stop thinking that giant boobs will equate happiness and look for something a little more substantial? This conversation, amazingly, never seems to have any affect. I should stop having it.
“Oh, I would never dream of assuming I know all Hogwarts’ secrets, Igor,” said Dumbledore amicably. “Only this morning, for instance, I took a wrong turning on the way to the bathroom and found myself in a beautifully proportioned room I have never seen before, containing a really rather magnificent collection of chamber pots. When I went back to investigate more closely, I discovered that the room had vanished. But I must keep an eye out for it. Possibly it is only accessible at five-thirty in the morning. Or it may only appear at the quarter moon – or when the seeker has an exceptionally full bladder.”
Room of Requirement hiding in plain sight.
Hermione was now teaching Krum to say her name properly; he kept calling her “Hermy-own.”
“Her-my-oh-nee,” she said slowly and clearly.
“Close enough,” she said, catching Harry’s eye and grinning.
I am convinced this little scene was only included because most of Rowling’s readers didn’t know how to pronounce Hermione’s name, myself included. Until I read this scene, I was pronouncing it “Hermy-own”, too.
“Did you know?” he whispered. “About Hagrid being half-giant?”
“No,” said Harry, shrugging. “So what?”
Okay possibly TMI but IT BUGS ME SO I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT. Hagrid’s mother was a giant, and his father was a human. And how exactly tall was she? And how tall was he? And what would sex between them even involve??? Like, logistically??? How big was her vagina? This honestly haunts me and I have to try not to think about it.
“Well, if you don’t like it, you know what the solution is, don’t you?” yelled Hermione; her hair was coming down out of its elegant bun now, and her face was screwed up in anger.
“Oh yeah?” Ron yelled back. “What’s that?”
“Next time there’s a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!”
Ron mouthed soundlessly like a goldfish out of water as Hermione turned on her heel and stormed up the girls’ staircase to bed. Ron turned to look at Harry.
“Well,” he sputtered, looking thunderstruck, “well – that just proves – completely missed the point -”
Harry didn’t say anything. He liked being back on speaking terms with Ron too much to speak his mind right now – but he somehow thought that Hermione had gotten the point much better than Ron had.
Hermione, my darling, I want you to love who you love, but you sure have chosen someone who needs to do a lot of emotional work. “Emotional range of a tea spoon”: so accurate. No self awareness whatsoever. (Hermione and Harry have no romantic chemistry; don’t @ me.)
“We’ve got to go and see him,” said Harry. “This evening, after Divination. Tell him we want him back . . . you do want him back?” he shot at Hermione.
“I – well, I’m not going to pretend it didn’t make a nice change, having a proper Care of Magical Creatures lesson for once – but I do want Hagrid back, of course I do!” Hermione added hastily, quailing under Harry’s furious stare.
See above note, re: blast-ended skrewts.
“Living proof of what I’ve been telling you, Hagrid,” said Dumbledore, still looking carefully up at the ceiling. “I have shown you the letters from the countless parents who remember you from their own days here, telling me in no uncertain terms that if I sacked you, they would have something to say about it -”
“Not all of ’em,” said Hagrid hoarsely. “Not all of ’em want me ter stay. ”
“Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time,” said Dumbledore, now peering sternly over his half-moon spectacles.
This honestly might be the smartest thing Dumbledore says in the series. And it’s advice that’s so hard to take! I’m one of those people who is bothered at a cellular level if I find out someone doesn’t like me. Gotta Dumbledore up.
“Potter!” Snape snarled, and he actually turned his head and stared right at the place where Harry was, as though he could suddenly see him. “That egg is Potter’s egg. That piece of parchment belongs to Potter. I have seen it before, I recognize it! Potter is here! Potter, in his Invisibility Cloak!”
Snape stretched out his hands like a blind man and began to move up the stairs; Harry could have sworn his over-large nostrils were dilating, trying to sniff Harry out – trapped. Harry leaned backward, trying to avoid Snape’s fingertips, but any moment now –
I love how unhinged Snape is here. He really, really does not like when Harry gets away with things.
By eight o’clock, Madam Pince had extinguished all the lamps and came to chivvy Harry out of the library. Staggering under the weight of as many books as he could carry, Harry returned to the Gryffindor common room, pulled a table into a corner, and continued to search. There was nothing in Madcap Magic for Wacky Warlocks . . . nothing in A Guide to Medieval Sorcery . . . not one mention of underwater exploits in An Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Charms, or in Dreadful Denizens of the Deep, or Powers You Never Knew You Had and What to Do with Them Now You’ve Wised Up.
Crookshanks crawled into Harry’s lap and curled up, purring deeply. The common room emptied slowly around Harry. People kept wishing him luck for the next morning in cheery, confident voices like Hagrid’s, all of them apparently convinced that he was about to pull off another stunning performance like the one he had managed in the first task. Harry couldn’t answer them, he just nodded, feeling as though there were a golf ball stuck in his throat. By ten to midnight, he was alone in the room with Crookshanks. He had searched all the remaining books, and Ron and Hermione had not come back.
It’s over, he told himself. You can’t do it. You’ll just have to go down to the lake in the morning and tell the judges . . .
One in the morning . . . two in the morning . . . the only way he could keep going was to tell himself, over and over again, next book . . . in the next one . . . the next one . . .
Reading this section of the book always forces me to remember the nightmare of studying for my Master’s exams (and other exams I studied hard for, constantly on the verge of panic). I always feel like it does such a great job of really portraying how terrible it is waiting for the time to actually come. The waiting and the preparing is nearly always the worst part. I’m so glad it’s over. Poor Harry.
“Hermione, will you give it a rest with the elf!” said Ron.
Sirius shook his head and said, “She’s got the measure of Crouch better than you have, Ron. If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
I like this moment even more, knowing that it was Sirius’s own treatment of the Black family house elf, Kreacher, that helped lead him to his death. Even well-intentioned people can participate in systems of oppression. Sirius doesn’t treat Kreacher badly because he’s a house elf, but because he’s a reminder of Sirius’s connection to his family, and what it was like growing up with them and all they represented. But that doesn’t negate the fact that Sirius treated Kreacher as if he was worthless, and so it was nothing to Kreacher to betray him.
“Surprise!” Mrs. Weasley said excitedly as he smiled broadly and walked over to them. “Thought we’d come and watch you. Harry!” She bent down and kissed him on the cheek.
More Weasley family deciding to become Harry’s family feels.
“Both of us,” Harry said.
“We’ll take it at the same time. It’s still a Hogwarts victory. We’ll tie for it. ”
Cedric stared at Harry. He unfolded his arms.
“You – you sure?”
“Yeah,” said Harry. “Yeah . . . we’ve helped each other out, haven’t we? We both got here. Let’s just take it together. ”
For a moment, Cedric looked as though he couldn’t believe his ears; then his face split in a grin.
“You’re on,” he said. “Come here. “
This moment has to haunt Harry. He was trying to do the right thing, acknowledge that Cedric deserved to be the Triwizard Champion just as much as he did (if not more), and if he hadn’t done that, Cedric would 100% still be alive. He died for no reason, only because he strayed across the path of Voldemort, as Dumbledore says at the end. I can’t even imagine feeling like you were responsible, if only in a small way (he didn’t cast the killing curse, obviously) for someone’s death. No wonder he’s so traumatized in Order of the Phoenix.
“Kill the spare.”
Voldemort is a dickhead.
“What did the Dark Lord take from you?” said Moody.
“Blood,” said Harry, raising his arm. His sleeve was ripped where Wormtail’s dagger had torn it.
Moody let out his breath in a long, low hiss.
“And the Death Eaters? They returned?”
“Yes,” said Harry. “Loads of them . . . ”
“How did he treat them?” Moody asked quietly. “Did he forgive them?”
Two things. First, can anyone tell me what the heck is going on in that scene in the movie when fake Moody makes Harry show him the cut on his arm? Makes no sense. Secondly, I love this scene. It’s just such a well done piece of suspense. The way she gradually makes you realize something is off with Moody, but Harry still has no idea, and all of a sudden that competent, trustworthy teacher you’ve liked the whole book turns into something else completely.
“It wasn’t your fault. Harry,” Mrs. Weasley whispered.
“I told him to take the cup with me,” said Harry.
Now the burning feeling was in his throat too. He wished Ron would look away.
Mrs. Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs. Weasley held him to her. His mother’s face, his father’s voice, the sight of Cedric, dead on the ground all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him.
Harry is now officially a Weasley. (And this is such a nice touch, that he only feels okay falling apart when he’s being held in a mother’s arms, when he feels safe.)
“Knew he was goin’ ter come back,” said Hagrid, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked up at him, shocked. “Known it fer years. Harry. Knew he was out there, bidin’ his time. It had ter happen. Well, now it has, an’ we’ll jus’ have ter get on with it. We’ll fight. Migh’ be able ter stop him before he gets a good hold. That’s Dumbledores plan, anyway. Great man, Dumbledore. ‘S long as we’ve got him, I’m not too worried.”
I mean, really, we should have known what was going to happen to Dumbledore after reading that sentence.
“Take it,” Harry repeated firmly. “I don’t want it.”
A nice way to close the book, with Harry giving his Triwizard winnings to the twins, simultaneously showing that he doesn’t value money as much as people, and showing Fred and George that he thinks them worthy of a thousand galleons.