sarnath: Harry Potter riding a Thestral (Harry Potter on Thestral)
[personal profile] sarnath
I started reading HP again, after all these months! And wow, it's really been months. Where does the time go? I kind of like going through the books like this, though, especially as I've forgotten so much about them (especially the last three).

All that really happens is that they go to the hearing, but of course this proves more difficult than it should. Not much really happens in this chapter, but I love looking at all the little details and descriptions of the ministry in light of what we all know will happen later.

Harry is apparently going in jeans and a t-shirt. Huh.

Mr Weasley, however was not wearing wizards’ robes but a pair of pinstriped trousers and an old bomber jacket. Good combination. And poor Mrs Weasley is trying to tame Harry's hair.

Doesn’t it ever lie flat?’ she said desperately.

Harry shook his head.


They take the underground, to make a good impression by not arriving in a magical way (Mr Weasley usually Apparates).

‘Simply fabulous,’ he whispered, indicating the automatic ticket machines. ‘Wonderfully ingenious.’

‘They’re out of order,’ said Harry, pointing at the sign.

The ministry is located in a rather shabby part of central London, but the inside is the more impressive for it:

They were standing at one end of a very long and splendid hall with a highly polished, dark wood floor. The peacock blue ceiling was inlaid with gleaming golden symbols that kept moving and changing like some enormous heavenly noticeboard. The walls on each side were panelled in shiny dark wood and had many gilded fireplaces set into them. Every few seconds a witch or wizard would emerge from one of the left-hand fireplaces with a soft whoosh. On the right-hand side, short queues were forming before each fireplace, waiting to depart.

And halfway down the hall is the fountain with the golden statues of a centaur, a goblin and a house elf looking adoringly up at the witch and wizard. This is a pretty amazing way of JKR to show the attitudes of the magical society; it's not just how the completely unfair trial Harry is forced to go through, but even these subtle signs that there are insidious problems in the whole society.

the wizard held up a long golden rod, thin and flexible as a car aerial, and passed it up and down Harry’s front and back.

Security check! And he has to present his wand, too:

The wizard dropped it on to a strange brass instrument, which looked something like a set of scales with only one dish. It began to vibrate. A narrow strip of parchment came speeding out of a slit in the base. The wizard tore this off and read the writing on it.

‘Eleven inches, phoenix-feather core, been in use four years. That correct?’

‘Yes,’ said Harry nervously.

I love these descriptions of magical instruments and places! He doesn't have to leave his wand there, though, apparently he just needed to register as having it with him.

I want to see more of what's inside the ministry! I love it when we get to see the magical world outside of Hogwarts. Just the name of the departments!

"Level Seven, Department of Magical Games and Sports, incorporating the British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters, Official Gobstones Club and Ludicrous Patents Office."

Ludicrous Patents Office?

I love the little aeroplane memos too.

'Level Three, Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, including the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, Obliviator Head-quarters and Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee'

There's a "Muggle-Worthy Excuse committee!

Department of Magical Law Enforcement is on level two. I also didn't notice before that while they went down to get to the entrance hall, the lifts to all the departments then went up step by step again. I would love a map of this place!

Auror Headquarters seems really cosy:

... a cluttered open area divided into cubicles, which was buzzing with talk and laughter. Memos were zooming in and out of cubicles like miniature rockets[...}

[...]Harry looked surreptitiously through the doorways as they passed. The Aurors had covered their cubicle walls with everything from pictures of wanted wizards and photographs of their families, to posters of their favourite Quidditch teams and articles from the Daily Prophet. A scarlet-robed man with a ponytail longer than Bill’s was sitting with his boots up on his desk, dictating a report to his quill. A little further along, a witch with a patch over one eye was talking over the top of her cubicle wall to Kingsley Shacklebolt.

They pretend not to be in cahoots with him, and follow him to a cubicle that's completely covered with pictures of Sirius, because Shacklebolt needs to pretend he's extremely serious about catching him.

Here,’ said Kingsley brusquely to Mr Weasley, shoving a sheaf of parchment into his hand. ‘I need as much information as possible on flying Muggle vehicles sighted in the last twelve months. We’ve received information that Black might still be using his old motorcycle.’

But he actually gives him The Quibbler for Sirius to help him pass the time. Kingsley is so thoughtful!

Mr Weasley works in an office that's actually smaller than a broom cupboard - Harry can tell, because there's one just next to it to compare it too - because the ministry is actually pretty much in line with pure-blood philosophy at this point and has been for a long time, is my impression.

But here's an interesting bit of information on the Aurors:

Oh no, this is too trivial for Aurors, it’ll be the ordinary Magical Law Enforcement Patrol-

Regurgitating toilets, that is (lucky for the Aurors). So I'm thinking MLEP is like uniformed police, and Aurors more like Detective Inspectors?

And then comes the panicked message that the hearing is moved:

‘Those courtrooms haven’t been used in years,’ said Mr Weasley angrily. ‘I can’t think why they’re doing it down there – unless – but no –’

And they have to go via the Department of Mysteries! Well, sort of.

The walls were bare; there were no windows and no doors apart from a plain black one set at the very end of the corridor. Harry expected them to go through it, but instead Mr Weasley seized him by the arm and dragged him to the left, where there was an opening leading to a flight of steps.

Because the lifts don't even go as far down as the courtrooms.

They reached the bottom of the steps and ran along yet another corridor, which bore a great resemblance to the one that led to Snape’s dungeon at Hogwarts, with rough stone walls and torches in brackets. The doors they passed here were heavy wooden ones with iron bolts and keyholes.

And that's not ominous at all.

And of course Harry has to go through on his own. Seriously, the lengths they've gone to in order to discredit him is rather impressive!

Unlike a lot of people, I really like OotP. It's where we really start to see the cracks, where things fall apart. It's Harry at his most vulnerable, his weaknesses are really highlighted here, but it's also the first step towards maturing into the person he is becoming in HBP and DH. It's a turning point in many ways, and I always find them interesting.

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