Transcript – Episode 132

[Show music begins]

Michael Harle: This is Episode 132 of Alohomora! for April 11, 2015.

[Show music continues]

Michael: Welcome back, listeners, to Alohomora!,’s global reread of the Harry Potter series. I’m Michael Harle.

Kat Miller: I’m Kat Miller.

Alison Siggard: I’m Alison Siggard.

Eric Scull: And I’m Eric Scull.

Michael: And this is our guest, Eric Scull.

Eric: Hi, guys!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: So nice to be on the show!

Kat: Hi!

Michael: Tell us about yourself, Eric!

Eric: Well, I like trains.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: What House are you from and everything?

Eric: I live near a train yard and there'[re] always trains.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: I’m a Hufflepuff/Gryffindor…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Identity crisis. #identitycrisis

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Hey, my whole life.

Eric: And I live in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m glad to be on for this all-host episode. What’s up, everybody? We’ve got an exciting chapter to get to. Lots of good discussion to be had, or so Alison says. [laughs] Because Michael and I don’t really like this chapter but… Kat, where do you stand on this?

Kat: I think it’s a funny chapter.

Eric: There you go. Okay, so we’re half and half.

Michael: Oh, I thought you were going to pull a Prisoner of Azkaban with us and be like, [as Kat] “I am firmly in the middle.”

Kat: I am firmly in the middle, but I think it’s funny.

Eric: You, the listeners, hopefully, will also be entertained by our discussions.

Kat: Today, on Chapter 14 of Half-Blood Prince, which is “Felix Felicis” [pronounces “fuh-LEE-shihs”], so please pull out your book, give it a gander, read through, laugh or hate it – whatever you decide – because that’s what we are going to talk about today.

Michael: Did you say “Felix Felicis” [pronounces “fuh-LEE-shihs”]?

[Kat laughs]

Michael: [as Sean Connery] Like Sean Connery?

Alison: Or like “Felicia”?

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: [as Sean Connery] Felix Felicis.

[Kat laughs]

Eric: [as Sean Connery] Felix Felicis.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: [as Sean Connery] Felicis. I like my Felix Felicis shaken, not stirred.

Kat: Why? How do you say it?

Alison: Felicis. [pronounces “fuh-LEE-sihs”]

Michael: Felix Felicis. [pronounces “FEE-licks fuh-LEE-sihs”

Alison: But before we get to that chapter, we’re going to recap our comments from our last chapter, Chapter 13. And our first comment today comes from Jaye Dozier who says,

“On the topic of the cave incident, I was struck [by] how similar the victims’ reactions were to that of Dumbledore’s sister Ariana. Although probably not congruent with ring theory (perhaps Olympic ring theory, however!), the two incidents definitely echo one another. We are told the two [M]uggle children ‘were never the same’ after their encounter with Tom, just as Ariana was never the same after her encounter with the two [M]uggle boys. It’s seemingly almost the same incident, except the roles are switched: a magical boy attacks two [M]uggle children vs. two [M]uggle children attacking a magical girl. One used his magic to terrorize, the other was terrorized for using magic. The prejudice is evident [i]n both the [M]uggle and magical sides, which suggests that darkness comes from your intentions, not your abilities. Both memories come to us as a result of digging into the past, and although they are both shrouded in mystery (we don’t know exactly WHAT happened to the [M]uggle children or Ariana), we do know that the victims were traumatized beyond repair. Perhaps Dumbledore, given his history with his sister, was able to recognize this terrorizing aspect in young Tom and try to stamp it out immediately – which would further explain his continued distrust of him (we are told by Voldemort through the diary in the Chamber of Secrets that Dumbledore ‘kept an annoyingly close watch on him’). The perpetrators, similarly, were never the same either. The [M]uggle boys who attacked Ariana lost their lives due to her father seeking revenge in his grief, and Voldemort’s attachment to this specific incident causes him to place a part of his soul where it took place – an act that eventually sparks Harry’s journey to destroy Voldemort’s [H]orcruxes and bring him down for good. Ironically, the attackers end up being just as damaged as their victims, if not more so.”

So I thought this was interesting because we’ve talked a lot about wizard prejudice toward Muggles, but I thought how it is switched in this case, and there’s… I’d never seen these parallels.

Eric: Yeah, I’ve never seen the parallel either. I think it’s pretty cool. That’s what I like about this comment too, is that it’s kind of switched around. It’s like flip sides of a coin that here you have, as Jaye says, two Muggle boys being attacked or traumatized by a wizard, by a magical child. And I like that analysis at the end that the attackers end up being just as damaged as their victims, but ultimately, it is the same that these experiences that both Ariana and these children in the cave had were life-changing, and they were never the same.

Michael: That’s interesting to suggest that that is what informs Dumbledore’s reaction to Tom because if… I wouldn’t take that as canon personally, just because that’s not really hinted at narratively. Because I think there was a lot… I know there was a lot of discussion on that last week, and there was definitely a lot of discussion in the comment section on the site this week – well done, listeners – about why Dumbledore doesn’t really do anything about these very obvious signs that Tom is probably a sociopath. And so the idea that maybe he sees Tom as a project that he can fix. I just feel like, as far as theorizing on that, there needs to be a tiny bit more canon information provided from Rowling on… because it’s interesting. I think the line that makes that whole memory so interesting for a lot of people is that when Harry asks him afterward, “Did you know what you had just met?” And Dumbledore was like, “Nope, I had no idea.”

[Eric laughs]

Michael: I was like, “Really?” [laughs] This little boy who hangs rabbits and terrorizes children in caves, you had no idea whatso… no factors that might have suggested something to you? I think that’s what strikes people a lot, that there might be more, and as we find out in the next book, there were a lot of things that Dumbledore left unsaid to Harry. So perhaps there is an element that Dumbledore did recognize something and chose not to do anything about it or saw Tom as somebody he could save because Dumbledore was, perhaps, in his life looking for people he could save. I don’t know.

Kat: Aww.

Michael: We need more information.

Kat: Poor Dumbledore.

Michael: Well, he did… hey, in the end, he saved the whole wizarding world. So he did it.

Alison: That’s true.

Eric: What, Dumbledore did that?

Michael: Well, kind of, yeah. I mean, Harry didn’t do it by himself.

Eric: I don’t know. I don’t know.

Alison: He did suggest Harry…

Eric: He had some help from Neville, had some help from Neville.

Alison: That’s true.

Eric: Neville is the real hero.

Michael: Yes. Well, I don’t know. Hermione, I would say, is the true…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Rename all the books after Hermione, and you’ve got the actual series.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Sorry, I’m biased.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: All right. So our next comment is from [laughs] RoseLumos, and it’s talking about why maybe Tom Riddle took the little trinkets he did. So the comment says,

“In 1932, the first World Yo-Yo Contest was held in London. Using the HP Lexicon and my own math, this memory took place in 1937. So the yo-yo that Tom stole would have been a very big deal since this appeared to be the new, exciting toy of the time. … to orphans who probably only have second hand [sic] clothing and probably have no spending money, this would have been something very valuable and something that was not easily acquired. We know that Tom later acquires some priceless possessions of the Hogwarts founders. While the monetary value is probably irrelevant to Tom, it shows that even at a young age he isn’t afraid to steal largely valuable [objects].”

So I had no idea this was a thing.

Kat: It’s amazing! The world’s first yo-yo contest? Hello!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: That is amazeballs. Oh yeah. That’s so cool. Especially in London, of all places. London in the ’30s? Not what I would have expected. Yo-yo contest?

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Well, Voldemort doesn’t keep it so that he can pawn it the next time he goes out to the streets.

Kat: Well, no.

Eric: He keeps it because he tortured… because it was this boy’s favorite toy.

Alison: Yeah. Which is… I think that just makes that even crazier, that he took their most valuable possession. He was able to take their most valuable possession from someone who didn’t have a lot.

Eric: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah.

Kat: You know what [laughs] I’m picturing?

Eric: Oh, God.

Alison: Oh no. [laughs]

Kat: It’s Voldemort doing the Walk the Dog.

Eric: Oh, yeah.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: All the cool tricks that you could do. I don’t know what their names are, but can you just imagine…?

Eric: Around the World.

Kat: Somebody make that YouTube video: “Lord Voldemort, Yo-Yo Champion.”

Eric: It’s got to be the same people who did “Uptown Funk” parody. Just got to get the same guy out with a yo-yo doing tricks.

Alison: Ohh. Dang it.

Michael: I don’t know. I feel like Voldemort just sitting there in Deathly Hallows in the forest waiting for Harry to come with a yo-yo doing all these awesome yo-yo tricks would actually look super evil.

[Kat laughs]

Michael: It would add to the evilness, just to have that. [laughs]

Kat: It would be so awesome.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: You could probably bewitch a yo-yo to do tricks on its own. [laughs] Wouldn’t that be cool?

Michael: That’s probably how he got it; he probably just bewitched it to roll to him or something like that.

Eric: Aww.

[Kat laughs]

Michael: I appreciate the comment from RoseLumos because I think it’s a good reminder that the yo-yo is, in this instant, actually very valuable. We see it as a fun little trinket. Because yo-yos had a really big thing… yo-yos were really big in the ’90s too. They kind of had a boost back in the ’90s, and they’re very out of style again because they don’t have computers in them.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: They’re not smartphones. Yeah.

Michael: They’re not smartphones. They’re not smart yo-yos; they’re stupid yo-yos. But that is a nice reminder.

Kat: It is.

Michael: It’s not just Tom taking objects; he’s taking objects that in that time would have great valuable meaning to those children.

Eric: I just love the history lesson. That’s really cool.

Alison: Our final comment, actually, is from Hufflepuffskein, who says…

Micheal: Ha.

Eric: Hey.

Alison: [laughs] Who says,

“I’ve always been really intrigued by Tom’s line […] ‘My mother can’t have been magic, or she wouldn’t have died.’ It seems like he thinks magic = immortality (or [just not] dying in life threatening situations). Is this the seed of his life’s agenda for immortality?”

I don’t remember if we talked about this this week. But what do we think?

Eric: I like the question. I like the question a lot. It’s like, does he…? What would he have seen? The little bit… he didn’t even know it was called magic. “It’s magic, what I can do?” But what led him to suspect that the end of the line for his abilities or would at least include on the journey immortality, that that would be something that is tangible that he could achieve just by doing the torturous acts that he’s so far gotten? I don’t know. He must clearly think that he’s a god of some sort for doing what he can do to his fellow orphans, so…

Michael: Well, yeah. What was interesting to me about… because I wasn’t on last week, and I saw it touched on in a few comments last week, but something I didn’t hear on the show is that when Tom turns to Dumbledore and his two phrases that Harry notes that he says with such conviction, like’s he’s very used to ordering people around. He says, “Tell the truth!” and “Prove it.” And it’s noted how his expression gets. And I always read that as that’s how Tom uses his magic, is on anybody else who’s unsuspecting. That would probably have been enough to enchant them to do what he wanted. There’s magic behind those words and the force of how he says things. So yeah, I think… considering… that’s like that moment in Frozen that’s so passed over where Elsa is like, “Oh, Olaf, you’re alive?” and then she looks at her hands like “Oh, wow. I just made life.” [laughs] Of course you would think you’re a god if you can do things like this, and especially if you’re a child. And without having Dumbledore to tell him that… I mean, because Tom even says once he’s told it. His reaction is “I knew there was something about me that was special. I always knew there was something.”

Eric: So Dumbledore has got to play the role of Robin Williams as Genie and be like, “Oh, master, there are a few proviso[s to the] rules.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: You cannot live forever, sorry. You can’t bring people back from the dead! It’s not a pretty picture!

Michael: Don’t like doing that!

Eric: No, don’t like doing it!

Alison: Wow.

Michael: But yeah, no, I think that’s kind of what one of the roots, one of the main purposes, why Dumbledore shows Harry this memory of Tom, is that this moment is very informative of how Tom views the world and how he behaves and what turns him into Voldemort. Because from that… and I guess we don’t see that exact moment, but of course, some day in that timeline, Tom will discover that he is backward in his belief about his mother. And the revenge – the mammoth revenge – that he takes on his family is just so horrific. And his way of acting out and then his way of not telling people that… having this weird pure-blood supremacy idea, and he’s not pure-blood. So I think to get to the root of that is very important, I think, for Dumbledore to show Harry that.

Alison: I think it’s also interesting that this… I never thought about this line as hinting that Tom Riddle is already scared of death, and he’s elated that he thinks he can find a way out of it. He thinks because he’s magic, he can get out of this thing he’s afraid of.

Eric: I wonder to what extent young Tom Riddle is familiar with the infirm and with death, if any of these orphans are sickly. It seems like if he’s raised around death, he wouldn’t be that averse to it. But children, for the most part – I think in happier times – would really be ignorant [of] death, would not have any of that. They’d be innocent. They wouldn’t be thinking about death or even overcoming death, the permanence of it. Maybe it’s just that he’s an orphan, but he’s clearly had some experience with loved ones dying or people around him dying that this is something that, at an early age, he’s interesting in overcoming.

Michael: Well, and what’s also so important is that this… there'[re] some slight differences, but overall, Harry’s time growing up is not very different from Tom’s. That’s the other core, and I think what gets the core of the lessons overall is that Dumbledore is trying to ensure that Harry understands that love and compassion is his greatest weapon against Voldemort. And he’s showing him that Voldemort had a very similar upbringing to Harry[‘s], and he made the completely opposite choices of how to behave as a person. So I think that’s another core here too, that Harry doesn’t seem to have any ideas about immortality. He’s never really… even when he was faced with it with something like the Sorcerer’s Stone, it’s not like he acted upon that. To use it. He never even thought to use it that way.

Kat: Okay, so I agree with you kind of there, but I also think the fact that Harry was “made” out of love, and Tom was “made” out of magic…

Michael: Well, that’ll come into play in our Podcast [Question of the Week] responses too.

Kat: Great, so…

Michael: Ooh. Ooh.

Alison: All right. Cool. So just to wrap this up, then, just shout-out to… there were a lot of discussions going on this week in the comments about how much blame Dumbledore really has for not stopping Tom Riddle or recognizing the danger signs early on. And there [were] lots of really interesting comments going on. So head on over to and check those out.

Kat: Not quite 400 this week. I’m a little disappointed.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: I’m just kidding. Just kidding, it’s fine.

[Eric laughs]

Kat: I read every single one of those comments in that 400 week, and – I don’t know – a good 10% of them were like, “Comment 227!” That doesn’t count, guys.

Eric: Oh, oh, oh, it’s devolved into “First!” “Second!” “Third!” All the way down to… yeah. Well, still, people are having fun and we’re providing it and that’s awesome.

Kat: They are. That’s what matters. That’s right.

Eric: Well, anyway, along the lines of our discussion that we had for our chapter discussion, we get to the Podcast Question of the Week which focuses less on Harry and Tom – although it does include them – and focuses more on Merope and Lily. The question, just for those who could use the reminder – I know I’m one – was,

“We learn in this chapter about Merope and the circumstances surrounding her demise and death. Dumbledore corrects Harry in his assumption that this is so different from Lily’s death, stating that Lily did too have a choice to live, yet chose to die. Did either of these women truly have a choice? And if not, does that affect the outcome of their sacrifice, the shadow that Harry and Voldemort grew up under, and their opinions of their mothers?”

So we got some good solid comments here and I would like to read just a few of them. First, from HowlStone85 on our Alohomora! website. They say,

“I believe Merope almost didn’t have a choice – if she had lost her magical abilities due to ‘her unrequited love and the attendant despair,’ I think it’s practically a miracle she was able to stay alive long enough to give birth to Tom. Lily, on the other hand, chose to stand between Lord Voldemort and her baby son. Harry might see his mother’s death as unwarranted murder and Merope’s demise as giving up, but they were both trying to give their sons a better life (or life at all). But the circumstances do color Tom and Harry’s opinions of their mothers. Tom feels abandoned by a weak and unworthy mother. Harry feels a sort of righteous indignation that justifies his need for vengeance. Both situations influence how each operates later in life. Tom sheds the identity his mother gave him, spurning anyone he perceives as weak. And Harry, with the knowledge of the prophecy, goes to the greatest of lengths to ensure his mother’s choice was not in vain.”

So a very well-written comment there. I really like the insight into Merope’s psyche there at the beginning.

Michael: Yeah, the thing that really caught me, and especially with what we were just about to touch on in the comments about how the circumstances under which Harry and Tom were born… it’s interesting, too, to me that HowlStone pulled out that perhaps Merope didn’t have a choice because of her loss of her magical abilities due to her unrequited love and the attendant despair, as Dumbledore put it. And that, to me, goes along with how that informs… or how Harry and Tom developed with their births, with Tom being of course conceived under Amortentia, a very strong love potion. And so that’s… the magic of these issues is the part that makes it so interesting to me in the debate about whether there were choices or not.

Eric: Okay, well, let’s read the next comment here. This comes from Jaye Dozier again, who… we quoted his comments. Jaye is on fire. Jaye says,

“When considering the deaths of Lily and Merope, although similar in outcome, I would argue that the attitude towards their respective deaths changed everything for their children. Lily really DID have the choice to live since Voldemort had told her to step aside (which we later learn is him honoring Snape’s request) but it would’ve come at the cost of losing her husband and son. Being the loving mother that she was, she refused to stand aside and watch Voldemort kill her child, even though she could’ve been spared. This single act of protection and sacrifice rooted in deeply woven love is what allowed Harry to live and fueled his later battle for good to triumph over the evil that had taken her away from him. Because she had a choice to live, but chose to die to SAVE her child, the shadow that Harry grew up under was that of a hero. Although I am confident Harry would’ve longed to know her even had she not heroically saved him, his impression of her has always been painted in light of her loving sacrifice for him.

I believe that Merope, too, had a choice – but it’s harder to define. I definitely don’t believe you can choose depression (which she definitely had), but I do believe you have control over how you live your life and how [you] seek help when you need it, if only for the ones you love. It seems as if Merope preferred death to a life without the love that she so craved. All the cannon gives us is that Merope was impoverished and alone because of her broken heart and her own inability to take care of herself. As awful as her life had been, she chose to give in to the comfort of death and leave her child orphaned instead of seeking every avenue she could to better their circumstances and stay with her son, believing he would somehow be better without a parent. I feel like I can be hard on Merope, but I have known many women to survive horrific circumstances simply because they wanted more for their child. They found a way, even when it seemed impossible. I imagine that Tom only reminded Merope of the husband [who] abandoned her, and as much as she loved her baby she couldn’t bear to be without the father [who] helped create him. She gave life to Tom, but in the end she was too heartbroken to carry on for him.

This powerlessness, as HowlStone185 mentions, is what spurs Voldemort to despise anything he perceives as weak. The shadow that Voldemort grows up under, then, is that of a failure (in his mind). What his relationship to his mother would’ve been like I cannot say, but his attitude towards Merope after her death set him on a course to determine how he could escape “failing” as drastically as she had in death – which in his mind, instead of freedom, is the ultimate defeat.”

Michael: See, listeners? This is why we have you on the show because we don’t really need to say anything.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: No, this is all thought out. This is…

[Michael laughs]

Alison: I am going to say something, though.

Eric: Good.

Michael: But we are going to say something. [laughs]

Alison: Yes. As I was thinking about this question and reading these responses, though… maybe just I have never thought of Merope as necessarily having a choice.

Eric: Like choosing to die?

Alison: I guess she did have a choice to fight but I always read it as she was just… she was malnourished, she wasn’t taking care of herself, and she went through the trauma of childbirth and just had complications with it.

Michael: Mhm.

Alison: And yes, I can see where you would decide to fight so you could stay alive for your child, but I don’t know necessarily if they can be almost compared.

Eric: Well, I think that is part of the question; that the canon allows us to color Merope’s death as giving up, versus…

Alison: Mhm.

Eric: … because we know that pregnancy is insane and labor is insanely demanding on the human body, but I think the way that it’s colored is that she did choose to die. At least, that’s what I read out of the books.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: And I think that that’s… it’s certainly open for discussion, but I think there are enough readings of the book where Merope is this tragic character who basically gives up her son. And I’m not saying… who knows? Maybe she could have fought and survived. Maybe she could have fought and still died. But I think Mrs. Cole’s real recounting of the events lacks a certain fire; it lacks a certain flare that says that Merope had not planned on dying. I mean, basically her last words are what to name him. I mean, she knows that she is gone and it strikes me as being something that was… that she had planned to die to bring that child in the world. And mostly for the reasons that Jaye has mentioned and the other commenters mentioned, too, is that I really think that the young Voldemort would remind her of the fact that Tom left her and didn’t love her and I think that… she came so far as a character in terms of escaping her oppressive father and brother and she carved out a little life for herself with Tom Riddle. And when she finally laid that bare, when she finally revealed herself to him, he didn’t want her, and I think that was the nail in the coffin that was her choosing not to live. And she chose to live long enough to bring Tom in the world but ultimately was not interested anymore.

Kat: So I think, then, I’m going to defend Dumbledore a little bit more – just harkening back to a conversation we had last week – and say that isn’t it kind of her fault, then, that Tom ends up the way he is?

Eric: Well, isn’t it a cop-out to say that Voldemort is the evil most wizard ever and sociopath just because he had a love potion; he was conceived under a love potion?

Kat: No.

Michael: See, that’s what’s so fascinating to me because… and what I think again ties into this, too, that the element that Jaye put in here that was really good was the idea that Merope’s condition can be read as depression, clinically…

Alison: Yep.

Michael: … versus in the book, it’s like, “Well, she lost her magic,” like the depression caused her to lose her magic and losing your magic further saps you of… it’s kind of implied that losing your magic further saps your physical health, which brought her closer to death’s door, so…

Eric: Certainly didn’t help.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, and then with Tom, there is all those elements and I think… to me when I read the books, it’s very clear to me that Dumbledore is showing Harry that, “This is what you could have chosen to do but you chose to do what you’re doing instead,” because that’s part of the speech that Dumbledore makes to Harry at the end. But then you add in that element of, “Well, maybe he was going to always be like this anyway because he was conceived under Amortentia,” so…

Eric: Under duress.

Michael: … he never had the chance from the start.

Kat: Ooh, can we talk a second about how Jaye says that Harry grew up under the ideal of a hero?

Eric: Yeah.

Alison: Ooh, yeah, that was great.

Kat: Can we talk about calling Lily a hero for a minute?

Michael: [laughs] I think…

Eric: Well… oh, why? Are you against it? Or do you just disagree? Because the Dursleys certainly didn’t color her that way, so…

Kat: No, I’m not against it. I just think that she gets lifted up a lot.

Eric: [gasps] What?

[Alison laughs]

Michael: No, well…

Kat: She does.

Eric: She’s the mother figure who died for her son! Of course she gets elevated!

Kat: Hmm.

Michael: Well, I think the thing that the fandom definitely takes into account with that is that James get deconstructed in the series; Lily does not.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: James is deconstructed. She is not. That’s true.

Michael: Yeah. And it’s… I think a lot of people have in some ways seen that as unfair. Pretty much the most that… I think the thing that some fans could potentially consider offensive from Lily is how she deals with her relationship with Snape, but that’s dependent on how much of a Snape sympathizer you are…

Eric: Right.

Michael: … because people have definitely turned it that Lily married James out of spite towards Snape, which canonically is not correct from what Rowling has provided. But I do agree, Kat, that Lily is put on a pedestal and never taken off of it.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Whereas James is pushed off of his in Book 5.

Eric: I think it’s just… yeah, I’m sad to see James go as low as he does, but at the same time, with Lily – as Jaye says – it was her sacrifice that enabled him to live; her sacrifice coupled with the Prophecy, coupled with a bunch of other crazy things that all came together at the right moment. But her sacrifice really allowed our hero to live, which allowed these books to be written. Of course she’s going to be the unfiltered perfect hero because her sacrifice – her death, which is her choice – allows the hero to survive.

Michael: Yeah, there’s no… yeah, from Harry’s perspective there’s no reason not to idolize Lily. We never really get anything that would take anything away from his vision of her.

Eric: Well, Slughorn likes her which is probably…

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: She’ll probably be like, “I’m going to like her less now.”

Kat: I like Slughorn, okay?

Eric: What?

Kat: I like Slughorn.

Eric: Slughorn is great. But yeah, you have to question who he likes the most. But I do want to move on. We do have this great final comment from LuckyEaglet who says… this is actually a perfect transition here,

“As a mother, I can see that Lily didn’t really have a choice. I would do anything to protect my son. Which might be how Merope was seeing things as well. She got her son to an institution that would care for him, possibly better than she was ever able to care for him. She didn’t want to be in the wizarding world any more, and her recent memories of that world were of torment and hardship. Perhaps she thought her son would be better off without any connection to the wizarding world, including herself.

So yes, technically, the two women had options, but at the same time neither really did since they were not in a mental situation of being able to think of, or act on, any option but the path they took.”

Kat: Nice.

Eric: So LuckyEaglet argues that Lily didn’t really have a choice because she maybe wouldn’t have been able to live with herself if she had in fact stood aside.

Kat: I keep thinking about where LuckyEaglet said she didn’t want to be in the wizarding world anymore and her recent memories of that world were of torment and hardship. I mean, maybe the last… however long it had been since she left Tom, but I feel like for a year she was pretty blissfully happy and…

Eric: Years or a year? Nine months?

Kat: However long her and… I forgot how long it said her and Tom were together. Well, “together.”

Eric: Oh, okay. Hmm.

Kat: I don’t know. I think that… I am in the camp that she let go a little too easily. I guess that is informed by the fact that giving up is never an option for me. Granted, I have never given birth and I am not magical and I don’t know what it’s like to almost die.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Keep going; you’re on a roll.

Kat: I feel like it just… like I said, maybe it’s my own coloring of it, but I feel like she gave up on Tom a little bit. And unfortunately, that informed who he grew up to be. I really truly do.

Eric: Yeah. Well, think of it this way. You are growing up caring for a mentally deranged father and brother who are abusive, mentally and physically. You’re in this situation where you’re trapped and probably, to a great degree, codependent on these people who mistreat you, and she finally is able to escape and use her abilities and talent to find, to be with, to maintain this relationship which I think for me… my coloring of it is that this was her one go at having happiness. This was her one… it was the love of her life, even though it was a very small town where she grew up. This was the one boy that she happened to see out the window and she goes for him. But he’s attractive and he’s rich and this was her one go at life and so when that didn’t work out.

Kat: Just my type.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: And you know that when you break up with someone recently… when you’re going through a bad breakup, it colors the whole relationship. Even if you spent years with that person and you just break up with them, it’s a negative leaving.

Kat: Umm…

Eric: Plus so much was hinging on this relationship, right? Because he was under duress, he was under the love potion. Clearly her sense of self identity and her sense of self worth was in a way twisted into him accepting her.

Michael: Yes, exactly. That’s why she takes him off the love potion, because she believes that he will truly love her.

Eric: Or she needs to believe that she is worthwhile and she needs that acceptance.

Kat: Both.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: So when that doesn’t happen, it crushes her. Here it is again, her one fly out of the nest, her one attempt to escape the life of terrible, terrible abuse. And when that just fails and falls back on her and backfires, of course – I’m just trying to color in response to what you said, Kat – that’s why it hits her so hard. Because I see it as being her one go at happiness, and when she doesn’t get that she is of course going to choose to die. She chose to carry it to term – I love what Lucky Eaglet said. Maybe she felt that the institution could take care of him, but then also that it would be a better world away from magic because her world, which had been immersed in Dark magic, was terrible for her.

Michael: Yeah, that actually… I have to say that part of LuckyEaglet’s comment really struck a personal chord with me because I am adopted myself and I have very few details about my birth parents. I know nothing of my father and the little I know from my mother is that she carried me to term and that she was a very smart woman – she was educated at a university. And the fact that she had me out of wedlock, which is not legal in India, is why she decided to give me up and why it was very brave of her to carry me to full term.

Eric: Right.

Michael: And so that parallel… I know my mother thought that there was a better life for me out there somewhere else, and I think that’s kind of the mentality of adoption. I think that’s what Merope was thinking, [that] eventually her child could have a better life elsewhere. I think she was smart enough to know that she couldn’t ever provide because she got herself into so many… it sounds like she got herself into some bad situations once she went out into the world. And the fact that she sold the Slytherin locket…

Eric: The priceless… yeah.

Michael: The priceless Slytherin locket, she took ten Galleons for it. I mean, come on, like she didn’t try.

Eric: She lacks a really crucial bit of real world smarts.

Michael: Yes.

Kat: Do you think for a minute that she thought that the orphanage might help her as well?

Michael: I think she thought purely, probably… since she showed up when she was about to give birth, I think that pretty much all the help she was looking for herself from the orphanage was to just have this child.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: I mean, you can’t say she didn’t… it’s interesting that suggestion previously that she only sees Tom Riddle, Sr. in the boy, and that’s part of what makes it hard for her. But it was obviously very important for her to have this baby, carry it to term, and name it. She was very determined to name it…

Kat: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: … before she died.

Kat: Well, how else could he have come up with Lord Voldemort?

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Man, if she’d only named him Ron instead of Tom.

[Kat laughs]

Michael: [laughs] It was all in the name. When you name your child an anagram for “I am Lord Voldemort” you’re just doomed.

Kat: I mean, yeah.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: You have no choice.

Michael: I think these are all great answers … because of the way this series is structured where it’s so stressed, especially at the end of this book, how important choice is and the elements of fate. But then you also factor in this element of magic that’s so unstable and doesn’t necessarily always have parallels in our world, that makes the stuff about choice a little more difficult. Because like you said, so many people attribute Voldemort’s behavior and actions to [being] born under a love potion. It wasn’t real love so therefore that’s why he is what he is.

Eric: That’s why he can’t know love. Specifically, that’s…

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Hmm…

Eric: Do the books say that? He just can’t know love and that’s because true love wasn’t…

Michael: Well, that’s that suggestion, yet by Deathly Hallows… Rowling said after Deathly Hallows that if he had felt a tinge of remorse, compassion, anything for what he had done, he would have just died on the spot when he talked to Harry at the end because his soul was so torn up that it wouldn’t have been able to handle the emotion.

Eric: Oh.

Michael: But that suggests that he could have felt it in the first place. That gets so difficult when you… it gets so muddy when you add in the magic stuff.

Eric: I love it.

Kat: Muddy magic.

Eric and Michael: Muddy magic.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I was just thinking that if Merope had named him Ron instead of Tom, he could still be Lord Voldenorr…

[Kat laughs]

Eric: … instead of Voldemort.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Because I guess all you lose is the M and the T. You still have the O.

Michael: The T is silent anyway, right?

Eric: The T is silent anyway. You really could’ve used something else and it would’ve worked.

Michael: There could be any letter at the end. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: All right. So, maybe we move on to a slightly happier chapter?

[Half-Blood Prince Chapter 14 intro begins]

[Sound of birds tweeting]

Ron: Chapter 14.

Hermione: Oppugno!

Ron: “Felix Felicis” – ow! Felici… ow! Ow! Get ’em off! Get off! Get these off me! Hermione, get these off!

[Half-Blood Prince Chapter 14 intro ends]

Kat: So we are a little split on this chapter, but I think it’s going to be a fun one. Yeah? Am I right?

Eric: I think so, too.

Michael: When we’re split, that makes some of the best conversation.

Kat: Indeed-y it does.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Okay, so let’s just remind everybody a little bit what this chapter’s about. And Michael wrote this for me. I am not this eloquent or funny…

[Alison laughs]

Kat: … or snarky.

Michael: Oh…

Kat: Snarky, I am.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Kat: You know… anyway. So, love is in the air at Hogwarts but it’s not nearly as romantic as anyone would hope. After a row full of unspoken undertones between Ron and Hermione during a particularly stressful Herbology class, the three friends each begin privately reassessing the future of their relationships while publicly acting out. Meanwhile, Quidditch is back and focused as Harry reluctantly calls upon Dean Thomas to fill Katie Bell’s Chaser position, inadvertently unlocking his deeper feelings for Ginny in the process. Woo-woo!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: What was that?

Kat: Ron’s declining self-esteem and his rising temper before the match necessitate Harry taking measures that are not as drastic as they first appear. And while the match is won, the drastic fallout amongst a tangled web of Gryffindors leaves no one feeling particularly victorious. So, that was my dramatic reading of the chapter summary for everybody.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Thank you for writing that, Michael. That was very, very…

Michael: Thank you. You did that justice. Well done.

Alison: That was… yes.

Kat: Huh. My acting classes have come in handy.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Thank you very much. Okay. So we start out this chapter in a Herbology lesson.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I just want to start off by saying Herbology is disgusting.

Michael: Yeah, this is the…

Kat: This chapter…

Alison: Aah!

Kat: The first couple pages of this are like…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yeah.

Alison: I don’t know why everyone hates on Hufflepuffs for being good at Herbology because this is horrible.

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Eric: Right? Right? Our head of house has reached her gloved hand into so many icky pods…

Kat: Whoa, whoa, whoa, honey! We’re going to get there.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: You leave that. Okay, so obviously, Harry is filling Ron and Hermione in about the last lesson with Dumbledore. And Ron, of course, is like, “Oh my God, that’s terrifying!” and Hermione is like, “Oh my God, this is so amazing!”

Michael: “Amazing”? Or “amazeballs”? [laughs]

Kat: “Amazeballs.” Yes, that’s what I wrote in the Doc.

Michael: [as Hermione] “OMG. This is amazeballs.”

Eric: It’s in the Doc.

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yes, it’s in the Doc.

Eric: Wait. I don’t remember. Why does Hermione find it so interesting? I don’t remember. I read the chapter twice, but I don’t remember.

Alison: Because she’s a wonderful, beautiful person.

Michael: [laughs] Because she’s so smart.

Eric: No, but why as in “what’s the quote that enables…?”

Kat: She says, “I think it’s fascinating. It makes absolute sense to know [as] much about Voldemort as possible. How else will you find out [about] his weaknesses?”

Eric: There you go. Okay.

Kat: So it’s all about the weaknesses with Hermione.

Eric: She sees it as being strategically useful.

Michael: This is why you retitle these books after Hermione.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Because she’s getting more out of this lesson than Harry is.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Right. Well, and it’s funny, because I really feel like this moment – the way they react to this – speaks directly to how they react in Deathly Hallows. Ron is like, “Whoa, this is scary. Peace out.”

[Eric laughs]

Kat: And Hermione stays, and she gets it. She understands.

Eric: “It takes in only that which makes it stronger!”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: But it also shows the difference between Ron and Hermione. I mean, Hermione is all logical, strategic, where[as] Ron is like, “Whoa, let’s back up.”

Michael: “This is heavy.”

Alison: Ron is the more emotional: “This is creepy that we’re seeing a child serial killer.”

Eric: I don’t know. It’s funny. I think both Ron and Hermione have their fair share of emotions in this chapter.

Alison: Well, yeah. [laughs]

Kat: Oh, baby. Oh, speaking of emotions, yeah.

Eric: In this chapter, that’s… I know we’ll get to it much later, but that is a fun point to this chapter. This chapter exists, and on the fence between Ron and Hermione, Harry is getting thrown back and forth, again finds himself in the middle of their arguments. But I don’t know. One of the things that struck me right away after reading this chapter was that the title is actually just such a misnomer that… it’s a Felix Felicis chapter, which isn’t the chapter where Harry actually takes Felix Felicis.

Alison: [laughs] But it makes you think still.

Eric: This is all about Ron and Hermione and Harry, for being smart in the books, tricking those two. But this really is a Hermione/Ron chapter at its heart.

Kat: No. You know what the title speaks to, is the fact that everybody is getting lucky.

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Kat: Come on!

Eric: Everyone except Harry, right? Harry isn’t getting lucky.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: He wishes he [were].

[Michael laughs]

Kat: No, but come on. Like you said, this whole chapter is about Ron and Hermione and how they’re all twitterpated. Because Jo uses “twitterpated” in this chapter.

Michael: That’s a fabulous word.

Kat: She does say the birds “twitter” around her.

Alison: I was going to say, “That word is there?”

[Michael laughs]

Kat: No, but “twitter” is there. Anyway.

Michael: Yeah, Twitter is there. They’re all on their social media.

[Alison, Kat, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yes, Hermione is so good at magic that she made electronics work at Hogwarts.

Eric: Seeing them so different in their positions on Dumbledore’s lessons at the beginning of the chapter, it just spirals out of control after that.

Kat: It does.

Eric: They’re not seeing eye to eye, and they won’t. [laughs] From now until their wedding day, they won’t see eye to eye.

Alison: Oh, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Michael: Yes, they’re perfect for each other.

Alison: Sorry.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I think they’re perfect for each other.

Michael: I do too! I do too! That was half sarcastic, half true. [laughs]

Kat: Oh, okay. Well, it’s funny that you say that, because they start talking about the Slug Club, and Hermione is like, “Oh, we’re meant to bring a guest,” and Ron is like, “You were going to ask me?” And of course, then Harry is like, “Oh, yeah. I knew this was going to happen eventually.” But then he starts to worry about what would happen if they broke up.

Alison: It’s third-wheeling. It’s the third-wheeling mentality.

Kat: It is, but obviously, he would be Team Ron.

Michael: Yes, he would.

Alison: Would he, though?

Eric: I don’t know.

Kat: Yes, come on!

Alison: I think he would go between the two.

Kat: No, because with Ron, he gets all the Weasleys, and he gets Ginny. Come on.

Alison: But the other times they fought, he’s just bounced between the two of them.

Michael: No. He’s their impartial, needs-to-defeat-the-wizarding-world friend.

Alison: He’ll just hang out with one for a while and then hang out with the other one for a while.

Michael: Haha, I’m totally with Kat on this one, because in the past, whenever there’s a fued, if the fued is between Harry and Ron, Hermione will always side with Harry. If the fued is between Ron and Hermione, Harry will almost always side with Ron. He will feel bad about Hermione, and he’ll frequently sympathize with Hermione, but he will always side publicly with Ron, even when he knows Ron is wrong, which he does in this chapter. [laughs] So that’s how their friendship works, actually, a lot of the time, so…

Kat: It is.

Michael: Yeah. Like, “Ron is wrong, but I’m going to defend him anyway because I’m his friend.”

Eric: [as Harry] “Because I’m a friend.”

Alison: Yeah. I still think that Harry wouldn’t give up either of them.

Eric: Well, he’d be pretty stupid to give up Hermione, because he needs somebody to [Summon] Horcrux books in the next…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: See, I don’t think he would consciously give up Hermione. I think that, over time, they would fall apart.

Michael: Drift, yeah. Interesting.

Kat: Yeah, because obviously, Hermione is going to go off and find somebody like Viktor Krum.

Eric: Well, it’s not all about following your emotions. I mean, they’re all in Dumbledore’s Army. They all realize that the end of the world is coming if they’re not all going to band together, so I think at this point, because Jo waited so long to do emotions, to do relationships in the Harry Potter series, at this point, Ron and Hermione, even if they don’t get along with each other, are going to recognize the importance of their contributions to… well, I mean, not Ron – he’s terrible – but Hermione would recognize the importance of her contribution to Harry’s cause and Dumbledore’s cause, and she would still be around to offer any and all help in defeating the Dark Lord, regardless of her feelings for Ron. I don’t think she would ever leave Harry at this point, because […] it’s clear [w]hat he has to do to save the world.

Michael: No, and I…

Kat: No, that’s…

Kat and Michael: I…

Michael: Yeah. We’re saying the same thing, Kat. We’re mutterig half of the same thing.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: I agree. I agree. Were you going to agree?

Michael: Yes, absolutely.

Kat: Cool, me too.

Eric: Thanks, guys.

Michael: I think that’s totally it, yeah, that Hermione would never leave Harry. She wouldn’t put in that effort. Hermione, out of the three of them, coincidentally, although, she may need to [as Ron] sort out her priorities, [back to normal voice] she really doesn’t. She’s probably the only one out of the three of them who has her priorities best set. So yeah, she doesn’t leave Harry in times of trouble until he completely stresses her out to the point that he’s mistreating her. Then she leaves. But I think the only time, possibly, that she completely separated was over the Firebolt in Book 3. And that was because they treated her so horrifically over that incident. So yeah, otherwise, she stays. So it’s Harry who would ditch, though. Because he’s horrible.

Kat: I guess, speaking of that, this whole stupid fight that they’re in always rubbed me the wrong way. What actually went wrong? How did it escalate this quickly? Ron is just all pissy because he sucks at Quidditch, and then he starts just being rude to Hermione, and all of a sudden, she’s pissed at him?

Alison: They’re not communicating well.

Kat: But they’re not in relationship! They don’t have to.

Eric: They are in a relationship!

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Eric: They just don’t realize it! They just don’t realize that they’re having all the negative benefits of the relationship and none of the positive benefits. Let’s just say that because I think that’s what it is, right? There’s the Slug Club, but Ron screws it up by knocking the Slug Club because he feels inferior for not being part of it, that Hermione, who has said that it… she does say… I was paying particular attention to this during the read through this time because I wondered the same question, Kat, because it does get out of hand, but Hermione says that it’s only for Slug participants. Ron is like, “Oh, yeah, that’s only for Slug members, right?” and she’s like, “Yeah.” She doesn’t get to say that on this particular Christmas occasion she’s going to be able to get guests until he scoffs and her having said that it’s only for Slug participants. He actually goes so far as to say – what? – “You should take McLaggen,” or something?

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: I think hook up with McLaggen.

Eric: Hook up with McLaggen, yes. Nobody said anything about hooking up, but Ron went there. And that is when Hermione gets defensive, but maybe she should have led with, “Do you want to come to the Christmas party?”

Michael: See, I was going to say that because I feel like…

Alison: How are you going to do that in the middle of Herbology?

Eric: Well, it is Herbology, but these kids have so much on their minds: their raging hormones and their raging plants that are like Audrey IIs wanting to kill them and take over the world.

Michael: [laughs] I got to say, “I side with Eric on that” because I was thinking back to the… I remember this moment standing out to me with our read through of Goblet of Fire, and it was back in Goblet of Fire when they were talking about… I believe it’s either right before or right after the Yule Ball, and Hermione is musing about her relationship with Viktor Krum in Potions with Harry and Ron, and it’s very clear that she’s trying to… it’s either Goblet or Order. She might be reflecting back on the relationship in Order. Either one, she’s purposefully… the way I read it this time around that I’ve never read before, but I realized that the narration suggests this. She’s egging Ron on with how she talks about the relationship.

Alison: Oh, yeah. She’s trying to make him jealous. She’s definitely trying to make him jealous.

Michael: Yeah, […] so I think she does it in a major way later in Half-Blood Prince, and I think there… what Eric is saying – “maybe she should have led” – I think there’s something to that with… that happens in these teenage hormone-driven, manipulative, dating, social ridiculousness is that there'[re] traps laid by both parties.

Alison: It’s a game.

Eric: That wasn’t a character. I wasn’t saying Hermione is dumb for not having led that way. I mean, nobody could have predicted just how high strung Ron is or whatever, but it’s really the perfect storm, is what happens. Because she mentions the Christmas party is happening, but Ron sees it for its exclusivity, whereas she was leading into, “We can take guests. Maybe you want to join us.” But there'[re] so much hurt feelings, and Ron is playing terrible at Quidditch, […] so he’s angry anyway, and it just spirals out of control.

Kat: But she needs to take her own advice because she yelled at Harry two years ago for doing this exact stupid thing to Cho.

Alison: Ehh, but when do we ever take our own advice? [laughs]

Kat: It’s true.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yeah, that’s true.

Eric: When indeed?

Alison: Speaking as a girl who relates to Hermione very much.

Eric: What did he do to Cho? Now I’m forgetting what he did to Cho. What do you mean?

Kat: When he was like, “Oh, I’m meeting Hermione Granger later.”

Eric: Oh. [laughs]

Kat: And she’s like, “What? You’re meeting another girl?”

Eric: And she says, “You never should have mentioned another girl.”

Kat: “No, you should have made it seem like I made you go.” Or whatever.

Alison: Speaking as a girl who relates very much to Hermione, I see why it’s so difficult because I have this problem in my life. It’s so much easier to see, to observe and critique other people’s relationships and have no idea what’s going on between you and someone else when you’re involved. So I totally understand how this goes out of hand.

Kat: Speaking of delusional people… I mean, that’s a good segue, right? Okay, so they talk in this… there’s obviously… we’re not at the fight yet, but there’s this big fight where Ginny yells at Ron – and we’ll get there – and she’s like, “Hermione snogged Viktor Krum!”

Michael: Oopsies.

Kat: And Ron is like, “What?” Come on. Is he delusional? I mean…

Alison: I think he just didn’t want to believe it.

Kat: I mean, come on! I don’t know. [unintelligible]

Eric: Well, I wasn’t 100 percent clear on that.

Kat: Wait, real? For real?

Eric: Ah…

Michael: I think the reason Ron thought… yeah, and actually, just hearing what Eric said…

Eric: There’s no kissing in these books. Sad, really.

Michael: No, I felt the same way when I first read it, and maybe I think that might be – and you’ve got an example of both a straight man and a gay man here – a guy thing [laughs] that we just didn’t pick up on it.

Kat: Or is it an age thing?

Michael: It might be.

Alison: Well, no, because I…

Eric: We’re not that different in…

Michael: I see it partly as a guy thing just because in this situation Ron is so… I think Alison hit it, too. It’s that Ron doesn’t want that to be true, […] so he’s rejected that possibility, I think, for a long time now. So I think that’s part of it, is that since he does fancy Hermione, obviously… Ron is sweet and also very slow when it comes to relationship matters.

Eric: Does she kiss Krum in the movie, do we know?

Michael: No.

Alison: They talk about it. Yes, they talk about it in the movie, but in the book, there’s nothing to suggest that they kiss at all.

Kat: Wait, where do they talk about it in the movie? They don’t talk about it in the movie.

Alison: In the movie, she says, “Victor is more of a physical being…”

Michael: Oh, God!

Kat: Oh.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Oh, boy!

Eric: That’s super funny.

Kat: I always assumed that that meant that he liked to work out.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I just assumed that meant he points and grunts rather than having talks because they’re talking about his intellect. They’re talking about whether or not they can have deep conversations staring into each other’s eyes. But no, I wanted to say, because I did read Book 4 before Movie 4 came out. It was before… I got into the fandom before that. So I don’t have this image of Prom Dress Barbie sitting and crying on the stairs, I feel like the relationship is, at the risk of sounding offensive, I called her Prom Dress Barbie…

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Eric: … but no, it’s a really beautiful scene where she’s very pretty and very heartbroken by Ron, but I feel like that made it more real. That made that Hermione and Krum subplot more real to me. The movie… I’m sorry, I was too young to really appreciate the nuance in the books of “Do they or don’t they kiss when they’re 14?” Or he’s, I guess, 16 or 17, right?

Alison: Isn’t he 18?

Eric: This book existed to point out… or that’s why these lines are in here, and Ginny gets more to do, so of course, I want more of it, but she pointing out that Ron is the only one who hasn’t kissed at this point really just takes me back, and it’s like, “Oh, yeah, did they kiss?” And Ron asks Harry, “Do you think that Victor and Hermione kissed?” And I do believe that he doesn’t want to believe it, but I also had not really asked that question of myself yet, of whether or not I thought they had kissed. Because they were pen pals.

Alison: I feel like there’s nothing in Book 4 to even suggest that they did really anything but go on one date to the Yule Ball.

Kat: Yeah, but if you go by that, then they never shower or go to the bathroom either.

Eric: They don’t. No.

Alison: Well, that’s true. [laughs]

Eric: Harry is the only one. And Cedric. Harry and Cedric and Moaning Myrtle are the only ones in the whole series [who] shower.

Kat: Well, Myrtle is dead, so…

[Alison laughs]

Kat: … she doesn’t count.

Eric: She doesn’t count?

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: All right, so there’ve only been two people who have showered.

Kat: Not when you’re in the shower discussion. No, you have to also assume that if Cedric and Harry showered, then also, so did Fleur and Krum…

Alison: And Oliver Wood.

Kat: … because they must have been underwater at some point.

Eric: Well, they were all in the lake. They all got a nice bath when they went in the second task.

Kat: That’s true. That’s true.

Eric: Ron and Hermione and Fleur’s younger sister. What’s her name?

Alison, Kat, and Michael: Gabrielle.

Eric: Gabriela.

Michael: Gabrielle.

Kat: All right. Speaking of dirty things, I figured we’d play a fun little game because this chapter is really short.

Alison: I am not going to make it through this.

Kat: Yeah, Alison loses by default.

Alison: Sorry.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Okay, so there’s this fun game that one of the radio stations in the UK plays. It’s called Innuendo Bingo.

Michael: Oh, gosh.

Kat: You should Google it. Matt Lewis has played it a few times, and he’s really bad at it.

Michael: Oh no.

Kat: So what you’re supposed to do is you put water in your mouth, and then people read dirty things to you, and the point is not to spit the water out. We are not going to use water.

Eric: Oh, I actually have water. Do you want me to use water?

Alison: I do have some, but I’m not going to do it because it’s going to be bad.

Eric: Okay, how about this? Let’s do girls versus boys, all right?

Kat: No, I’m the reader! I’m the reader. You are…

Eric: Michael and I will have water in our mouth…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: … and Alison and Kat will try [to] have to…

Kat: I told you. I tell the dirty jokes, Eric.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I’m going to put water in my mouth. So I’m going to go silent, and I’ll tell you if I spit it out. You’ll hear it.

Kat: Okay.

Eric: And then I’ll promptly electrocute myself…

[Alison laughs]

Eric: … and I’ll drop from Skype.

Michael: I’ll put water in my mouth!

Kat: Okay. Okay. All right.

Michael: Okay. Here we go.

Kat: Okay. You obviously will not be able to tell me when you’re all ready, so give a snap or something.

[Michael snaps]

Eric: Mhm!

Kat: All right. Cool. All right. So the first one is here. “She gave the other two an apprehensive look. They all took deep breaths and then dived at the gnarled stump between them.”

[Eric snorts]

Michael: Mm-mm.

Eric: Mm-mm.

Kat: Somebody made a snort, though. Okay.

Eric: Mm-mm.

Michael: Mm-mm.

Kat: “Hermione plunged her arm bravely into this hole, which closed up like a…”

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Kat: “… trap around her elbow. Harry and Ron…”

Alison: Oh my gosh!

Kat: “… tugged and wrenched at the vines, forcing the hole to open again, and Hermione snatched her arm free, clutching in her fingers a pod, just like Neville’s.”

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Mm! Mm-mm. Mm-mm.

Kat: Somebody is laughing very hard over there.

Alison: It’s me! [laughs]

Kat: No, I hear boy laughter. It sounds like Michael. Okay. “Harry quickly let go of Ron. The look on his face was murderous. They both stood there breathing heavily until Mrs. Norris, Filch’s cat, appeared around the corner, which broke the tension.” That’s more of a sexy one.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Mm-mm!

Kat: Okay. Here we go. “Neither of them mentioned Ginny or Hermione again. Indeed, they barely spoke to each other that evening and got into bed in silence, each absorbed in his own thoughts.”

Michael: Mm.

Kat: Oh, yeah, that’s another sexy one. Okay, last one! If this doesn’t do it, none of them will. “‘Weasley saves it! Well, he’s bound to get lucky sometimes I suppose.’ ‘That’s right, Smith. He is,’ muttered Harry, grinning to himself.”

Michael: Mm. Swallowing my water.

Kat: Aww, there was no water spitting!

Eric: Swallowing.

Michael: I got through it, but man, I think Eric wins because Eric didn’t even laugh. I laughed.

Kat: I know.

Eric: I’m a stone cold killer.

Kat: I think he might have muted his microphone and cheated.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: No, no, no, no.

[Kat laughs]

Eric: It’s funny because I can’t actually mute my microphone. I can mute Skype, but Cara will know. Cara will tell us if I actually…

Kat: Okay. Well, my point with that little game is that this is a dirty, dirty chapter.

Michael: Hermione plunged her arm bravely into the hole, yeah.

[Kat laughs]

Michael: Clutching a pod just like Neville’s. That was…

Eric: Yeah, that’s funny.

Michael: That was close. That was pretty close.

[Eric laughs]

Eric: Who would’ve guessed that Jo could be this dirty? Well, it is Herbology.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Out of context. [laughs]

Eric: Thank you, Michael, for that sympathy laugh.

Michael: That was hilarious.

Kat: We do quotes on Twitter every Wednesday, and I just pick things that are funny, lines that are funny, and somehow half of the tweets I put out for this chapter this week were all dirty, and everybody was like, “Woah, context. Context. Context.”

Eric: Whoa.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: You know it’s Book 6.

Kat: Okay, so moving on from one game to another, let’s talk about Quidditch because there’s actually some in this chapter.

Michael: Yay.

Kat: So as we mentioned in our little, eloquent chapter summary, thanks to Michael, Dean Thomas takes over Katie Bell’s Chaser position, and Seamus is off the wall pissed. Way more pissed than he should be.

Alison: It’s his best friend.

Eric: Well, it’s just written that it bothers him. Yeah.

Kat: He slams his book closed, like boom.

Eric: He does slam his book closed. And then a bird poops on his head, which really…

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Alison: Which sucks.

Eric: If you had to be pissed about one thing, it would be that Hermione is such a good witch that she’s the only one in class who can conjure birds, and also, they’re anatomically correct that they can poop.

Kat: Well… [laughs]

Eric: That’s what I would be pissed about.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Eric: But no, they’re friends. He’s supposed to be Dean’s friend, right? And support him, and Harry is in the right because… well, first of all, Harry is right to have put off the whole replacing Katie Bell until the very last, possible moment. They had – what? – one practice before the match?

Alison: I agree with that.

Eric: And Harry has put it off, but in practice and try-outs, Dean did out-fly Seamus, it is said. So it’s fair. It’s fair. It’s totally fair for Harry to do what he’s doing, and Seamus and Dean are usually always in the same scene together. They’re always in the same room except when Dean – in this book – is with Ginny. It would be a little weird if Seamus were also there.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Eric: But they’re close friends and have been for years. And it seems a little odd. It seems a little petty that this would be a complication that is detailed in this chapter.

Kat: Yeah, it’s a little silly.

Michael: That doesn’t seem that outlandish to me because one, if you’re going into the realm of theory, Seamus and Dean – MuggleNet Fan Fiction, you guys – are frequently paired together.

Eric: Oh.

Michael: Yeah, because they’re…

Kat: How could they not be?

Michael: They’re with each other all the time, and there’s…

Alison: They’re BFFs.

Michael: … if they don’t have a relationship, they have a hardcore bromance going on. It’s pretty clear from the hints that you get from the book that they spend a lot of time together.

Eric: My girlfriend will be so upset. She…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: No, I mean, don’t…

Eric: She loves Devon Murray.

Kat: I know, even Devon and Alfie… I’ve heard they call themselves something. They have some cute nickname for each other.

Eric: Oh.

Kat: Coffee and Cream, I think. Something like that.

Alison: That’s cute.

Michael: I think it works because this chapter is throwing a wrench into pretty much every single, established friendship and relationship that we know of. And…

Eric: That’s a good analysis.

Michael: So this just adds to that. Literally, nobody who liked each other likes each other in this chapter.

Eric: Oh my God, maybe that’s why Mrs Norris is out on her own. Filch kicked her out.

Alison: [gasps] No!

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Aww.

Michael: There’s the… yes, there'[re] tiffs everywhere.

Eric: They’re having an argument off-screen.

Michael: But yeah, no. I don’t think that’s so unreasonable because I think when you are with a best friend doing the same things together all the time, when something comes up that separates you, at the age… it’s funny because I’ve had it come up now where I have friends who are moving away or who aren’t at the same job as me as they were in before, so I don’t see them as much, and I remember when I was a kid, I’d get super selfish and bitter about that kind of thing. I’d just be like, “I miss them so much. Why is this happening to me?” And that’s how teenagers think. But as you mature, you recognize that while you can be sad, it’s best to be happy for your friends and their accomplishments, especially if it makes them happy.

Kat: No.

[Eric and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yes, Kat is just right there, just exemplifying the attitude of this chapter.

[Allison and Michael laugh]

Alison: And if you think about it, Seamus and Dean live in normal Hogwarts world, not Harry Hogwarts world.

Michael: Crazy Hogwarts world.

Alison: So Seamus is probably jealous. His best friend has the cute girl and…

Michael: The Quidditch position.

Eric: It’s funny because for Harry… and this is maybe… maybe this chapter is at the very least smart and ambitious in its plot to destroy every established relation as Michael was saying, but there’s further the complication that even if Harry gave it to Seamus, he’s getting some negative criticism for having appointed another one of his classmates to the Quidditch team. And this is something that Harry has to deal with. We never show him dealing with it, but this is just one of those things where he’s getting those complaints leveled to him.

Michael: Well, actually, I think the chapter does show him dealing with it, but his way of dealing with it now is, “Who cares. People have accused me of murdering people before, so this is nothing.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: “Remember that time when I was Petrifying everyone in the school? And I was 12.”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: “So being accused of nepotism is low on my list of concerns.” [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, that’s a good point. He’s really invincible.

Michael: Yes, he is.

Kat: So speaking of Harry’s other love this year, let’s talk about Draco. Let’s talk about Draco for a minute.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Draco? I thought you were talking about Quidditch. Ugh.

Kat: Oh, well, Draco and Quidditch. Hand in hand. Whatever.

Eric: We did get to see Madam Hooch. How about that? That was cool. All right. Go on. Draco.

Kat: We did. That’s true. So Draco calls out “sick” in this game, and lots of things shot up red flags for this for me. First off, would Harry had been suspicious of this at any other time as of right now, and also, how do you actually get away with being sick at Hogwarts? Because things like Pepperup Potion exist, and I feel like that solves a lot of problems.

Alison: Not if you have the stomach flu and you’re throwing everything up.

Michael: Well, yeah, but also…

Eric: Or there’s Skiving Snackboxes when you need it. We know Draco has bought stuff from Fred and George this year. Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder.

Michael: Well, and Malfoy in third year had a scratch on his arm, but man, did he make a big deal out of that, even with Madam Pomfrey treating him.

Eric: Yeah, the accomplished Madam Pomfrey.

Michael: Malfoy, as unfortunate as it is, because of his weird influence in the school and his standing, or at least his self-righteousness, he gets away with a lot, so… and I do think even though he’s being quite stupid with some of his planning and as we’ll see later, Dumbledore questioning whether that was partly intentional or not, Malfoy has stepped up the cleverness more than he ever has shown this year, so I’m sure he has some tricks up his sleeve for this. This is the least trickery he’s pulled.

Eric: Well, my analysis is that Draco has just risen above Quidditch. Quidditch is below him. Quidditch, at this point, is so trivial and seems so insignificant. He can’t be bothered to play a game even if… it’s not even that he doesn’t want to deal with Harry because Harry is looking to deal with Malfoy. He’s like, “Man, I can’t stand Malfoy. I’m trying to prove that he’s a Death Eater. He’s doing all these terrible things. I can’t prove it. I don’t have the proof, but at least I can beat his ass in Quidditch.” But then when he doesn’t show up, he takes that from Harry. That is not something that he can do. But Draco, for me, is so into his mission, and this is one of those thing that you just see fall to the wayside because Quidditch, in the end, doesn’t really matter.

Kat: And he’s so into it that he seemingly pays somebody else to play for him.

Eric: Well, who’s into it? Draco?

Kat: Draco is so into his mission that he pays somebody…

Alison: I feel like if he was actually going to pay, he would pay someone competent at least.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Maybe.

Michael: Harper, you suck.

Eric: Harry psyched you out, Harper.

Michael: That’s why nobody remembers you as a character, Harper.

Kat: Listen, Harry is obviously good at tricking people because he plays this dirty trick on Ron, which I can’t decide if it’s either cruel, brilliant, or if he’s playing with fire.

Alison: A little bit of everything.

Eric: Oh, this… the trick? Of pretending…

Kat: Yeah, with the…

Eric: … to use Felix Felicis? The whole reason this chapter is named “Felix Felicis”?

Kat: I told you why it’s named “Felix Felicis.”

Michael: “Felix Felicis.”

[Alison laughs]

Eric: It’s not… this trick, I honestly… my personal one-word opinion on it: brilliant. It is exactly what Ron needs. Harry does get extremely lucky, though, with the weather and the Slytherins who are missing. There are things that Harry could not possibly have foreseen [that] add to the illusion, so Harry was clever enough and quick enough for once to trick Hermione, who’s super smart.

Alison: Yeah, it still backfires, though.

Kat: Well, what if Hermione had blabbed?

Eric: “Hermione had blabbed”? What? Like she did about the Firebolt?

Kat: Yes, what if she had said something to somebody and got them in legitimate trouble?

Alison: She wouldn’t have done it.

Michael: I think the reason…

Eric: But she can’t.

Michael: Yeah, the reason… she has multiple reasons for not, I think, at this point. One is that the books have done an excellent job of developing Hermione from that person who[m] we saw in third year.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: She doesn’t do things like that anymore. Not to say that what she did in Prisoner was wrong because it wasn’t – she did exactly the right thing.

Eric: But her loyalty was to the teachers…

Alison: Hmm.

Eric: … over her friends then.

Michael: But the other catch here that Hermione has got is that if you want to be so self-righteous…

Alison: Yeah, I was going to say, Harry has leverage on her.

Michael: … then maybe you shouldn’t be Confunding people at Quidditch trials. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: Harry rubs that on really strong.

Alison: Uh-huh.

Michael: And rightfully so.

Eric: You bent the rules for Ron’s success. I’m doing the same.

Michael: Well, and he’s not even doing the… Harry is doing it the right way. Hermione did it illegally.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: That girl.

Michael: Harry didn’t use actual Felix Felicis.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: And what’s funny what you were saying about how lucky it was is if they had taken Felix Felicis. I think that what… that’s a great commentary from Jo about how you just see your day…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … when you leave your house.

Eric: Right, like any day could be lucky or not.

Michael: Yeah, it depends on what you want to pull out of the day and Harry just finds those things. I’m sure even if things hadn’t gone in that same lucky way, I’m sure… I bet you he could have found other lucky things to kind of pump that into Ron’s head, so it was just the idea of happenstance and coincidence. And I think that’s really good too, that she establishes that that’s not how Felix Felicis works, because when we do get an actual Felix Felicis effect that’s not what Felix Felicis does. It doesn’t make everything right. It almost kind of like in a video game that’s giving you a pathway.

Eric: Yeah, it’s an added sense of possibility.

Michael: Yeah, it’s not making things right – it’s showing you paths. So she establishes that.

Eric: Harry really does have the genius moment in this chapter in doing this because the other thing that’s good about him not actually giving Ron Felix is that Ron, not only will not become dependant…

Alison: Yeah.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: … on Felix for his success in the future but Ron… he reveals it to Harry… or to Ron and Hermione as he did not in fact use liquid luck and that Ron achieved those amazing results – everyone is impressed with him – on his own. And that should seal the deal. That should be… Ron and his nerves at this point should be done. They should be bed buddies. They should be the same thing. He should never have another problem with his nerves ever again because Harry has proven once and for all that it is all in Ron’s head. That it’s all… it’s not a skill question, it’s a bravery… it’s a confidence question.

Michael: And you know what? At any other year, at any other time, that would be true, but what’s so sad is that the last thing that he needs to fully believe in himself doesn’t believe in… he thinks doesn’t believe in him…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … and it’s Hermione.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: That’s the oopsies. That’s the part of Harry’s plan that…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … falters. And it’s not his fault. He did so… Harry, you did such a good job.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: I’m so proud of you. This is not the kind of thing you usually show. [laughs] That was very impressive.

Eric: That’s some next level stuff.

Michael: Yeah. That was very impressive. It was very… what I like about it, actually, is that it was a very Lupin thing to do.

Alison: Aww, yeah.

Kat: Aww, it was.

Michael: Yeah. That’s something Lupin would do in his classes. Again, Lupin love.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: This is all Lupin. The whole books are Lupin, that’s what I’m going for.

[Kat laughs]

Eric: Remus Lupin.

Michael: But yeah, I think the sad part there is that… and it’s not true that Hermione doesn’t have faith in Ron – it’s that Ron thinks she doesn’t, which is what’s causing this whole chapter to crumble anyway.

Eric: But is it that Hermione lacks courage in Ron or just that their emotions… I mean, I think she sees how good Ron is at the Quidditch match.

Alison: I think Ron just takes her comment out of proportion because she said, “That’s why Ron saved everything,” and Ron takes that as… normally Ron can’t save anything, whereas Hermione is just kind of going into real life again, where it’s you can’t save everything all the time.

Eric: Right.

Michael: Well, yeah, because she is still under the assumption as much as Ron is that he was under Felix Felicis. I mean, and she even points that out. She’s like, [as Hermione] “You believe it too, Ron.” Which is fair. That’s a totally fair argument.

Eric: Yeah, Ron is just… This is the part of the chapter where it gets a little gritty. This is Ron being upset because he wants to be upset. He’s going to find that one thing [that] undermines everything Harry has worked for, everything Hermione is genuinely feeling, and he’s choosing not to be happy.

Michael: Can I just say, since we’ve brought this up, I mentioned when I did my ranking of the seven books for March Madness on MuggleNet, in my summary for Sorcerer’s Stone, I just had to tack on at the end – because I’ve been realizing this more and more – Ron sacrificed himself at the end of Sorcerer’s Stone for Harry and Hermione. What happened to that Ron? That Ron was awesome. I miss that Ron. I’m just saying. That is all I just want to put out there.

Eric: He’s good at chess, but hasn’t really shown any…

Michael: [laughs] Yes. I miss you, awesome Ron.

We don’t see him taking up Gobstones or being head of the club.

Michael: No. You’re still sweet, and I feel bad for you, but like Eric said, at this point, he’s just not letting it go because he wants to be angry. And everybody else seems to have found peace with things, and Ron is the only one who’s the wrench here, so…

Eric: So there is one other item of business to talk about, which is what ends up happening between Hermione and Ron.

Kat: Hermione and Ron?

Eric: Yeah.

Kat: With Lavender?

Eric: With Lavender.

Kat: Which is, by the way, I just want to say, one of my absolute favorite moments…

Alison: Yes. That’s a beautiful moment.

Kat: … in the entire movie. I love that scene where Harry and Hermione are sitting on the steps.

Michael: Yes, that is a very good scene.

Kat: I just… It’s so beautiful.

Alison: Yes. I love the music in that scene.

Michael: Yeah, it’s done very well.

Eric: It’s a bit like Ginny with her Bat-Bogey Hex, right? Which also has a mention in this chapter in our monologue. But she’s perfected it. She’s so amazing at it that you don’t want to upset her. Hermione now has her niche thing that only she can do, at least in terms of the other students who are in her class, couldn’t do it. She now can set birds on people to peck at their face until they leave and die.

Alison: I feel like this is the most aggressive thing Hermione does up to this point. I mean…

Eric: Yeah. She was not even that aggressive in the final battle. [laughs]

Michael: She did slap Malfoy in the face, you guys. [laughs]

Eric: Oh, there’s that. Was that a movie-ism? No, that was a book thing.

Michael: No, in the movie she punches him. In the book, she slaps him. But no, I think what’s interesting to me with this chapter overall – and maybe this circles back to what we mentioned at the beginning but maybe haven’t defined – this reread – this particular one – me reading it last night, I realized that this chapter… for me, it’s weak. Not just because… I think… I have so many reasons. And I’ll go through them just very quickly. One of them is there’s not a lot of dialogue. Rowling takes care of a lot of the situations through narration and doesn’t use moments to define what’s going on with these characters. She uses really broad, huge passages of time to summarize things. And to my points on previous episodes about Harry and Ginny and where I feel that fails, they are almost completely relegated, I guess, to narration. Whereas Hermione and Ron are so well fleshed out. I know that a lot of fans don’t even like the Ron and Hermione relationship because they feel that they would be horribly dysfunctional together. I don’t agree with that because I actually think that Hermione and Ron are two of the most natural out of the whole series, actually. Their relationship develops really organically. And I guess the other twist we get here is that maybe it’s because we have the benefit of being from Harry’s perspective, but we get to see how Lavender affects that from both ends. Whereas with the Harry-Ginny-Cho triangle that existed, we don’t get Ginny’s perspective really at all. We get tiny snippets through Hermione, but that’s it. And so you never get that development of how… You hear Ginny’s development through third-party sources, but you never hear it from her directly. And by the time [she] and Harry are in a relationship, they just don’t talk about that.

Eric: That was a disappointing part of the book for me because is that there’s just not enough Harry-Ginny.

Michael: No. And well, I guess going back to that line that we had with what is Harry saying about Ron’s statement about Ginny, depending on how you read it, I do read it as Harry is agreeing that Ron is calling her something horrible. And I can see Kat’s argument for why you would read it the other way, though, and I think that’s a totally valid way to read it. Even if I don’t read it that way, I agree that’s a way to read it. But I also think I see it the way I do because Harry is at a very immature place in how he views relationships because he’s sorely…

Eric: Any girl who’s not with him is doing something wrong.

Michael: Yep. He’s sorely inexperienced, and I think that’s part of what makes the relationship with Harry and Ginny difficult for me, is that Harry… This is lust. And I know Harry has legitimate, true feelings for Ginny that the book suggests that he’s felt before, but we just don’t get enough of it. I would love to see that. I feel like Ron and Hermione have that. You see legitimate feelings from the two of them.

Eric: There was a basis…

Alison: Well, I feel like we get that at the end of this book, though.

Michael: The end? I have so many problems with the end. That’s the end, so we’ll get there later, I guess. But yeah, no, I don’t kniw. I think what happens at the end with Ron and Hermione and Lavender in a way just boosts why Harry and Ginny doesn’t work for me. Because the Lavender thing is very well done. There’s build-up to it, there'[re] reasons behind it, the way that it peters out, the way it comes in, the way it goes out, I think are really successfully done. That’s just my opinion, though, so I might be talking crazy talk. I’m sure all the listeners be like, “No, Michael, you’re crazy. Lavender Brown is the best character in the series.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat and Michael: Somebody is going to say that.

Michael: “Lavender Brown is my favorite. Don’t you dare say a word against her.”

Eric: It’s interesting how, in the film, they filled in some of those details that are missing by making her a groupie. She’s at practice… Maybe she’s at more practices than I remember in the books too, but… And certainly thereafter, she’s with Ron everywhere, and it’s a bit annoying. But it seems… I mean, just reading this chapter, Ron is spiraling out of control, and he treats Hermione poorly but is able to get away with it because [of] his success in the match, which… He doesn’t deserve that success after he is just so selfish, the way that he is, but because he was so successful, he’s getting a lot of attention and adoration, and he is able to begin this relationship with Lavender because of his prowess, which he didn’t even know he could do. But he did it, so he kind of earned it but kind of didn’t, and he’s just treating Hermione very poorly, but for her to set these birds on him is a little extra vicious, I think. A little bit more vicious than I think is warranted at that moment. But she’s hurt, and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that because she’s just behaving the way that a normal hurt teenager would.

Michael: I was going to say, “I thought the birds were totally legit.”

Alison: Oh, so did I.

Eric: Oh, they’re legit. They’ll peck your eyes out. They’re legit.

Kat: But that’s it. I mean, that’s the Felix Felicis [pronounces fuh-LEE-shee-us] chapter.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I’m saying it funny just for you now.

Michael: Do you think if Kat drank Felix Felicis she’d be able to say it correctly?

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Eric: No, but there’d be a little voice telling her that she might be able to if she wanted to.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Felix Felicis [pronounces fuh-LEE-see-us]. I know how to say it correctly.

Eric and Michael: Felicis! [pronounces fuh-LEE-sis]

Kat: I say “Felix Felicis” [pronounces fuh-LEE-sis], and you people keep saying that I’m saying it wrong!

Michael: You just said “Felix Felicis” [pronounces fuh-LEE-see-us].

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I said Felix Felicis [pronounces fuh-LEE-sis].

Eric: Yaeah, now! There you go. There you go.

Kat: Okay, we are moving on from Felix Felicis.

Eric: [whispers] She got it!

Kat: And chapter is done.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Done.

Michael: So to wrap up this very tangled, romantic chapter, I’m going to ask a very tangled, romantic question in terms of Rowling’s writing of said tangled romance. My question is, Rowling’s style in Chapter 14 is notably different from [that of] other chapters – both in Half-Blood Prince and the series as a whole – with a lot of major character developments relegated to narration rather than in moments of dialogue. In a previous episode, it was suggested that, along with Rowling’s distaste for writing Quidditch, her writing of romance may have suffered a similar fate. Yet Rowling has, both in the past and in this book, showed that she is no stranger to writing the humor and suffering of romantic relationships, and love itself is key to the Potter series as a whole. Is this turn in Chapter 14 uncharacteristic of Rowling? Could the romantic relationships have benefitted from expanded chapters or a different approach? Or is Rowling’s style for these relationship subplots perfectly in keeping with the rest of Half-Blood Prince‘s tone? So please, listeners, head to and let us know what you think about Rowling’s writing of romance in Half-Blood Prince. Kat, thank the guest! [laughs]

Eric: Oh! She’s trying to hide.

Kat: Eric, thank you so much for being here!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: She’s hiding it. She just nixed it right before you said that.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Thank you for catching that.

Kat: I did. I just noticed it.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: You’re welcome, Kat. I do what I can. If you would like to be on the show…

Michael: Just like Eric!

[Alison laughs]

Eric: That is terrible.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: “Just like Eric.” No, no, guys. Hey, hey, serious note here. I know we’ve had a lot of fun talking about this chapter. There are 53 chapters left in the Harry Potter books.

Alison: What?

Michael: Ahh!

Eric: 53.

Kat: That’s scary.

Michael: Don’t say that.

Eric: If you include the epilogue. 53. 16 in this book and thirty-whatever… Wait, is that…? I just looked this up!

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Eric: I’m going to go with my math. It was 53 I’m going to say that. And I know we’ve talked about… I mean, there are book wrap episodes and chapter wrap episodes, but there [are] about 50 episodes left. So there'[re] 50 more chances for you to be a listener guest on our show. S, in order to figure out how to do that, go to the “Be on the Show!” page at If you have a set of Apple headphones, you are all set because they include both the microphone part and the earbud part, and they’re super useful.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Yay Apple! We thank Apple for their support of the show.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Call us, Apple, if you want… They don’t support us, but call us, Apple. We love you.

Eric: Yes, we love you, Apple. Also, give me that watch.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: It comes out the day after my birthday. Thank you.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: No fancy equipment is needed, but there is a list of requirements. You can send us a test sample and all sorts of other stuff, so… not blood! It’s just…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. We’re asking for a sample. It’s your audio. And while you’re there, on that “Be on the Show!” page, download a ringtone for free!

Kat: And in the meantime, if you want to keep in touch with us, you can find us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN,, [and] on Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast. Our phone number is 206-GO-ALBUS – that’s 206-462-5287. Don’t forget you can leave us an audioBoom! It’s free; all you need is an Internet connection and a microphone, probably from that Apple headset – that would work. All you’ve got to do is click the little green button on the right-hand bar, and you can send us a note! Leave it under 60 seconds, please, so we can play it on the show. It can be a question, a comment, a limerick – we like limericks – a song…

Michael: And speaking of Apple merchandise, we don’t have any of that in our store…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: … but we have lots of other things.

[Alison, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Michael: If you’re looking for something for your sweetheart – like many of the characters could have used in this chapter – we have things for that, like House shirts! We also have shirts and other products themed after a lot of our inside jokes, like Desk!Pig, Mandrake Liberation Front, Minerva Is My Homegirl, and so much, much more. So please make sure [to] go to the Alohomora! main site, where you can find the link to the Alohomora! store.

Alison: And make sure you check out our smartphone app, which is available all over the Muggle world. And if you can’t get it, you’re probably at Hogwarts and Hermione hasn’t figured out how to get the electronics to work yet.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: So prices vary. It includes things like transcripts, bloopers – which there will probably be a lot of for this episode…

Michael: [laughs] God.

Alison: … alternate endings, host vlogs, and more.

Eric: I’m thinking we should do the outros in our best [as Sean Connery] Sean Connery voice.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Because it just blew my mind…

Michael: [as Sean Connery] Felix Felicis.

Eric: … but Bond has that CIA spy friend [as Sean Connery] Felix Leiter. Felix.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: [as Sean Connery] Felix Leiter.

Kat: Okay, fine.

Eric: [as Sean Connery] His friend Felix Felicis.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: [as Sean Connery] I’m Eric Scull.

Alison: [as Sean Connery] I’m Alison Siggard.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Eric: Yeah!

Michael: That was beautiful. I’m very impressed.

Eric: That was delicious.

[Kat laughs]

Michael: [as Sean Connery] I’m Michael Harle. Michael Harle.

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Eric: Yeah!

Kat: [as Sean Connery] And I’m Kat Miller.

[Show music begins]

Eric: [as Sean Connery] Kat Miller.

Michael: [as Sean Connery] Kat Miller.

Eric: [as Sean Connery] Kat Miller.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: [as Sean Connery] Thank you for listening to Episode 132 of Alo

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: [as Sean Connery] Open the Dumbledore.

[Show music continues]

Eric: Did you guys see that announcement? The CEO of Apple is doing the Apple Yo-Yo that’s coming out after the Apple Watch.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: I bet it would be more useful than the Apple Watch.

[Alison laughs]

Eric and Kat: Oh!

Alison: Ooh!

Michael: Oh-ho! [laughs] The iYo?

Kat: [laughs] The iYo.

Alison: [laughs] The iYo.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I-yo!

[Michael laughs]