sarnath: A hippogriff by Tapia (Harry Potter Hippogriff)
[personal profile] sarnath
Can't sleep, reading Harry Potter instead.

Harry wakes up still bitchy. Which I understand, but for some reason I find bitchy Harry adorable. Ron, meanwhile is beginning to realise what it means to be a prefect.

Ron said nothing; Harry could tell from his glum expression that the prospect of stopping Fred and George doing exactly what they liked was not one he found inviting.

Hermione is currently the only one with a firm grip on things.

‘Been having a nice little chat with her about whether or not I’m a lying, attention-seeking prat, have you?’ Harry said loudly.

‘No,’ said Hermione calmly. ‘I told her to keep her big fat mouth shut about you, actually. And it would be quite nice if you stopped jumping down our throats, Harry, because in case you haven’t noticed, Ron and I are on your side.’

There was a short pause.

‘Sorry,’ said Harry in a low voice.

‘That’s quite all right,’ said Hermione with dignity.

I'm quoting this, because I love how well they know each other at this point, and how Hermione sees clearly why Harry is acting the way he does. I especially love how she gets through to him immediately with a few simple words.

Also, she makes a great point of the discord Voldemort is spreading and how House unity really would be a great idea. As a contrast we're shown how other students (Ravenclaws this time) are actually, truly afraid of Harry. Which only strengthens her point.

Huh, I had also forgotten about Oliver Wood being gone and Angelina being made Quidditch captain, probably because I'm not that interested in Quidditch. I like how it informs Harry's character, though. It's significant too, I think, that he has no problems being happy and polite with her. Quidditch will always, I think, represent the happiest and most carefree part of his life.

Fifth year is OWL year, time to think about your future!

‘Well, it’d be cool to be an Auror,’ said Ron in an off-hand voice.

‘Yeah, it would,’ said Harry fervently.

‘But they’re, like, the elite,’ said Ron. ‘You’ve got to be really good. What about you, Hermione?’

‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘I think I’d like to do something really worthwhile.’

‘An Auror’s worthwhile!’ said Harry.

‘Yes, it is, but it’s not the only worthwhile thing,’ said Hermione thoughtfully, ‘I mean, if I could take SPEW further ...

’Harry and Ron carefully avoided looking at each other.

I'm still unsure what Aurors really do, except catch dark wizards and witches; considering they're "the elite" you'd expect them to do more than just hunt criminals, right?

That Hermione is interested more in the political side is a given.

The first lesson of their first day is History of Magic, and it's fascinating how horrendously bad a teacher Binns actually is.

Harry and Ron had so far managed to scrape passes in this subject only by copying Hermione’s notes before exams; she alone seemed able to resist the soporific power of Binns’s voice.

How do other students cope? Do everybody copy Hermione's notes? I get that he is a parody of a certain kind of teacher, but seriously. Although I suppose they have their textbooks, so if they just read that they should pass.

There are so many things starting in this chapter:

- Fred and George seriously embarking on their business venture

- OWL year

- Harry/Cho

That last one is hilariously typical. JKR is great with gently making fun of romance, no question about it. That Ron/Hermione is going to happen is glaringly obvious, though I must admit that I'm no great fan of the bickering couple cliché.

I love reading about Snape's classes. He too starts by talking about OWLs, and how only those with top marks will be able to go on to do NEWTs. One thing really interested me here, though: Harry's potion fails because he forgot to add an ingredient (which, seriously Harry, the instructions were right there) and Snape makes a big production out of it as expected. But he does it by making Harry realise exactly what he did wrong and why he failed; by teaching albeit in as insulting manner as humanly possible.

I also think this scene foreshadows and illuminates how this is the year where Harry makes most mistakes because he simply fails to pay attention. It's highlighted in History of Magic too, how he lets his mind drift, and how he misses things during Umbridge's speech. I think it might be one of the major inner conflicts he has in this book, and an area where he does a lot of maturing and growing up.

I also wonder how much he is already influenced by the connection with Voldemort.

The anger that had just flared so unexpectedly still blazed inside him, and the vision of Ron and Hermione’s shocked faces afforded him a sense of deep satisfaction.

Did it come from him or Voldemort?

Next lesson!

After Potions, Divination was Harry’s least favourite class, which was due mainly to Professor Trelawney’s habit of predicting his premature death every few lessons.

This time it's interpreting dreams, and Harry, understandably, doesn't want to talk about his regular graveyard nightmare. Actually, I think Divination is the worst possible subject for Harry, who is an intensely private person. At least divination the way Trelawney does it, with the personal predictions slant.

And now we get our first real taste of Umbridge. What a horrible person she is. I'm loving every moment of hating her.

you have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in this class, very irresponsible indeed – not to mention,’ she gave a nasty little laugh, ‘extremely dangerous half-breeds.’

‘If you mean Professor Lupin,’ piped up Dean angrily, ‘he was the best we ever –’

‘Hand, Mr Thomas!

I like how it's all the students, not just Harry, Ron, and Hermione who questions her.

‘Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?’ enquired Professor Umbridge in a horribly honeyed voice.

‘Hmm, let’s think ...’ said Harry in a mock thoughtful voice. ‘Maybe ... Lord Voldemort?’

Get your bitch on, Harry, I'm completely with you here. I actually love how he doesn't let her get away with trying to paint Voldemort's return as a lie, Cedrics death as an "accident" no matter points or detention. And Umbridge seriously miscalculates the effect of sending him to McGonagall for punishment.

‘Well?’ said Professor McGonagall, rounding on him. ‘Is this true?’ ‘

Is what true?’ Harry asked, rather more aggressively than he had intended. ‘Professor?’ he added, in an attempt to sound more polite.

‘Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?’

‘Yes,’ said Harry.

‘You called her a liar?’


‘You told her He Who Must Not Be Named is back?’


Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, ‘Have a biscuit, Potter.’

‘Have – what?’

One thing I think JKR does really well is dialogue.

I love how worried she is about Harry, how she tells him to be careful, to control his temper and keep his head down because of Umbridge's connections. I think she's partly wrong, though; if you give people like Umbridge too much rope they'll hang you with it. Possibly while making it look like you did it to yourself, or at least trying to. Because Umbridge is actually rather stupid, and is only able to operate the way she does because of power; everyone knows what's really going on, no one is falling for her fake-sweet veneer.

‘Well, I’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger at any rate,’ she said, pointing him out of her office.

Heh, aren't we all. But if I'm not misremembering, this is the book where Harry does learn to listen more to the words behind the words, where before his understanding has been mostly unexamined. He's good at picking up what people really mean in some cases. Heh, I think mostly that he's bad at it when people are hiding what they're really saying by being boring! Which probably means he's not really that cut out for politics (though that should surprise no one, he's much too honest).

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