sarnath: A hippogriff by Tapia (Harry Potter Hippogriff)
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Finally starting to feel like myself again, this week was not fun. I hate being sick, and at this point I'm terribly bored. But not with Harry! I've reached some sort of reignition of fannishness, and I'm really into it now. It's amazing how Rowling managed to write something that captured the imagination of so many, and kept it; the fandom is still, I've noticed, going fairly strong. And many of us were adults when we started to read them! I was twenty-one, I think, and the fourth book had just come out. And here I am, nearly fifteen years later (shit, really?) reading it again.



There's a lot of foreshadowing in this book. A lot.

The relief from being cleared doesn't last long; on their way up, they run into Lucius Malfoy, of all people, having a nice chat with Fudge.

Harry felt winded, as though he had just walked into something solid. He had last seen those cold grey eyes through slits in a Death Eater’s hood, and last heard that man’s voice jeering in a dark graveyard while Lord Voldemort tortured him.

And Harry had told Fudge just a few weeks earlier that Lucius is a Death Eater!

I find it interesting, really, how powerful the Malfoy family really is, and how powerful it's always been, according to Pottermore. Now I know not all people see information that isn't in the books as "real" canon, but it's nevertheless an interesting history Rowling had imagined for them. came with William the Conqueror! Was vehemently against the Statute of Secrecy because it would mean they'd loose their high position in muggle society! Was close enough to Elizabeth I for rumours that the first Lucius Malfoy tried to marry her!

In all likelihood they were never true believers in Voldemort's "cause", but wanted the power first and foremost.

Lucius spares a few moments to taunt Harry and Arthur before going off with Fudge.

What private business have they got together, anyway?’

‘Gold, I expect,’ said Mr Weasley angrily. ‘Malfoy’s been giving generously to all sorts of things for years ... gets him in with the right people ... then he can ask favours ... delay laws he doesn’t want passed ... oh, he’s very well-connected, Lucius Malfoy.’


More hints about the political climate.

Harry stops to drop the galleons he'd promised himself to give to the fountain of Magical Brethren if he was cleared (the money dropped there goes to St Mungos), and it's interesting what he has to say (well, think) about it.

He looked up into the handsome wizard’s face, but close-to Harry thought he looked rather weak and foolish. The witch was wearing a vapid smile like a beauty contestant, and from what Harry knew of goblins and centaurs, they were most unlikely to be caught staring so soppily at humans of any description. Only the house-elf’s attitude of creeping servility looked convincing. With a grin at the thought of what Hermione would say if she could see the statue of the elf, Harry turned his moneybag upside-down and emptied not just ten Galleons, but the whole contents into the pool.

Basically, the magical world is full of lies, is what I get out of it. The witches and wizards are vapid and foolish, deluding themselves to be the superior inhabitants of the world, the goblins and centaurs are misrepresented, and what about the house elves? Knowing that nothing is really done with this plotline disappoints me, because it's an aspect of the magical world that I find really interesting.

‘I knew it!’ yelled Ron, punching the air. ‘You always get away with stuff!’

Well, that's one way of putting it...

‘They were bound to clear you,’ said Hermione, who had looked positively faint with anxiety when Harry had entered the kitchen and was now holding a shaking hand over her eyes, ‘there was no case against you, none at all.’

‘Everyone seems quite relieved, though, considering you all knew I’d get off,’ said Harry, smiling.


Harry doesn't notice, but was that a faint note of resentment I caught in Ron's line? Because Hermione is right, there was no real case against him.

Fred, George and Ginny were doing a kind of war dance to a chant that went: ‘He got off, he got off, he got off ...’

That's really cute!

And Harry has really calmed and collected himself now that he's in the midst of things again. Ron comments how Dumbledore swooped in and saved the day, basically.

‘Yeah, he swung it for me,’ said Harry. He felt it would sound highly ungrateful, not to mention childish, to say, ‘I wish he’d talked to me, though. Or even looked at me.’

Harry is right to worry about that, though. Also, even normally it would have been weird! He didn't even meet Harry's eyes once, and spoke not a word to him.

And then Harry's scar hurts, and only Ron and Hermione notices. They really should pay more attention to this, but Harry is all "oh no, it happens all the time, no biggie".

I'm affected by already knowing how it ends, of course, but about half of the problems in this book would never even occur if important information had actually been told to the affected parties. Mainly Harry, but he should have passed a few things on to Dumbledore as well.

They will only stay at Grimmauld place for a few more days, and Sirius sinks into a black mood (sorry, sorry). Hermione theorises that it's that he halfway hoped that he and Harry could have been outcasts together if Harry had been expelled, and that he has trouble separating Harry from his father in his mind.

‘So you think he’s touched in the head?’ said Harry heatedly.

‘No, I just think he’s been very lonely for a long time,’ said Hermione simply.


Hermione is right, of course. It becomes even more evident later on.

But soon comes the real shocker, along with the booklists from Hogwarts; Ron is a prefect! Fred and George are incredulous. It must mean that Ron has a lot more going for him than fandom gives him credit for, at the very least, since while Harry wasn't picked for reasons Dumbledore reveals later, there are three other boys in Gryffindor in Harry's year.

How are prefects picked, anyway?

‘I ...’ said Hermione, looking thoroughly bewildered. ‘I ... well ... wow! Well done, Ron! That’s really –’

‘Unexpected,’ said George, nodding.

‘No,’ said Hermione, blushing harder than ever, ‘no it’s not ... Ron’s done loads of ... he’s really ...’


You know, I think Ron's inferiority complex is really understandable. And it's not Harry's fault, not at all, but I don't actually think Harry has been that good for Ron; first overshadowed by all those brothers, and then the best friend of the boy who lived...

Mrs Weasley, on the other hand, is extremely happy, but Harry is jealous! For about one minute.

Harry screwed up his face and buried it in his hands. He could not lie to himself; if he had known the prefect badge was on its way, he would have expected it to come to him, not Ron. Did this make him as arrogant as Draco Malfoy? Did he think himself superior to everyone else? Did he really believe he was better than Ron?

The DRAMA!

Ron had not asked Dumbledore to give him the prefect badge. This was not Ron’s fault. Was he, Harry, Ron’s best friend in the world, going to sulk because he didn’t have a badge, laugh with the twins behind Ron’s back, ruin this for Ron when, for the first time, he had beaten Harry at something?

What I love about Harry is that he's honest with himself and about his feelings, as well as trying to do the right thing. All it takes is a "well done, mate", and he's over it.

Then a whole bunch of people congregate for dinner and a small celebration for Ron and Hermione becoming prefects. So many interesting fragments of conversation! I would have loved to hear what Lupin had to say about house elf rights, for example. Fred and George are developing their business with the slightly illegal help of Mundungus Fletcher.

Be careful,’ Harry warned them quietly.

‘What?’ said Fred. ‘Mum’s busy cooing over Prefect Ron, we’re OK.’

‘But Moody could have his eye on you,’ Harry pointed out.

Mundungus looked nervously over his shoulder.


Heh, even after theorising that he wasn't made prefect for causing too much trouble, he's not averse to some more trouble (although he's only indirectly involved).

Would Mrs Weasley still feel that Harry was as good as her son if she found out he had made it possible for Fred and George to start a career she thought quite unsuitable?

Oh, Harry.

And it's now, of course that Moody shows Harry the photo of the original Order of the Phoenix.

to have them sprung on him like that, when he was least expecting it ... no one would like that, he thought angrily ...

[...]

all waving happily out of the photograph forever more, not knowing that they were doomed ... well, Moody might find that interesting ... he, Harry, found it disturbing ...


After showing how he aches for a familial connection with both Sirius and the Weasley family, JKR reinforces the message by showing us the family Harry has already lost. One of many points to drive home his loneliness in this book.

Interesting list of names, though!

(And goodness, I had forgotten the ellipsis abuse in this book, it becomes really evident when you go slowly like this, heh.)

Going to his room, though, he comes upon a shocking scene:

Someone was cowering against the dark wall, her wand in her hand, her whole body shaking with sobs. Sprawled on the dusty old carpet in a patch of moonlight, clearly dead, was Ron.

All the air seemed to vanish from Harry’s lungs; he felt as though he were falling through the floor; his brain turned icy cold – Ron dead, no, it couldn’t be –


It's the boggart, of course. It changes into different members of Mrs Weasley's family - including Harry, so he shouldn't worry about not belonging, really - until Lupin comes in and takes care of it (his is still the moon, of course).

I love how it's shown that Mrs Weasley thinks of Harry as part of the family in as emotional and powerful a way imaginable - as one of her dead children. I don't think Harry quite gets it, but it's very clear to the reader. Fear can really expose our priorities, can't they?

Here's another interesting thing, though; Molly worries about her family being killed, and the Order, but Lupin says that they're in much better shape this time and:

Last time we were outnumbered twenty to one by the Death Eaters and they were picking us off one by one ...’

That means a lot of Death Eaters must have died (or disappeared?) since last time. Voldemort's circle at the end of GoF wasn't that big, even if we never got a number.

So many half-uttered truths, so many forebodings in this chapter! It ends with Harry feeling "older than he had ever felt" and:

it seemed extraordinary to him that barely an hour ago he had been worried about a joke shop and who had got a prefect’s badge.

He doesn't really have the chance to be a normal fifteen-year-old, does he? Even compared to Ron and Hermione; when you think about it he's nearly always had to face things alone in the end.



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