Transcript – Episode 157

[Show music begins]

Michael Harle: This is Episode 157 of Alohomora! for September 26, 2015.

[Show music continues]

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

Eric Scull: I’m Eric Scull.

Caleb Graves: And I’m Caleb Graves. And we are so graciously joined by our special guest today, Christine Hughey. Christine, thanks for joining us! Say hello and introduce yourself.

Christine: Hey, everybody! Great to be here.

Caleb: So tell us your history of listening to the show with Harry Potter, your house, and all of those good things.

Christine: Ah, yes, well I’m super excited to be on. I’ve been a fan of the podcast since episode one, and was a…

Michael: Ooh.

Christine: … transcriber for the first year, actually.

Michael: Hmm.

Christine: I came to Harry Potter in – I think – around 2002, 2003. It was right before the release of the second movie. I’m an older fan. So I had a neighbor, who had a daughter, who invited me over to watch the first movie, and I was like, “Okay, a cute little kid movie. Whatever. I don’t have anything to do.” I was probably hung over.

[Caleb, Christine, and Michael laugh]

Caleb: And that’s how it began.

Christine: So we hung out, and I was like, “Oh! This is really kind of cute.” And I went to the book store a few days later, and they were out of what I was looking for, so I pick the first three books up just as a quick read. You know, kind of easy. The first two books were definitely a younger audience, but the third book just pulled me in, and then shortly thereafter the second movie came out and come to find out some friends were Potterheads as well, and down the rabbit hole I went. I ended up rereading the entire series before every movie came out…

Eric: Nice.

Christine: … and then I would reread the entire series before each of the books came out. So yeah, I’m a bit crazy about it, but I love it. You guys are probably going to give me grief, but I’m proud to say that I am a Slytherin.

Caleb: [unintelligible]

Michael: No, we don’t give grief for that. We actually love Slytherins, because we never have them on the [laughs] show.

Christine: [laughs] I know, so.

Eric: Speak for yourself, Michael. Speak for yourself.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Christine: Exactly, I knew, yeah, yeah. And I know…

Eric: Hufflepuffs don’t discriminate.

Christine: Well, yeah. It’s funny. We’re a house divided. My husbands Gryffindor, I’m Slytherin, and our daughter is a very proud Puff…

Michael: Aww!

Christine: … and in her first year at Hogwarts. She’s eleven, so…

Eric: Nice!

[Caleb laughs]

Michael: Oh, congratulations.

Christine: … she got her letter!

[Christine, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Caleb: Well, hopefully it’s a start of a really great term for her. And we are going to remind our readers that before we get into the discussion for last week’s episode – recapping – to remind you to read the discussion for this episode, which is Chapter 7 of Deathly Hallows, “The Will of Albus Dumbledore.”

Eric: But of course, we will take some time now to talk about some of the discussion on last weeks episode, during which we talked about Chapter 6 of Deathly Hallows, “The Ghoul in Pajamas.” So lots of comments coming off of two, not one but two, controversial episodes of Alohomora! In fact, Michael, I’m so glad you’re back on, because people are still talking about Lupin and Tonks. [laughs]

Michael: Yes, but actually, like you said, I was impressed, people were pretty… chill about it this week. People were getting a little less heated. I think it was good to just clarify that there’re different interpretations of reading Harry Potter and approaching Harry Potter, and people have been really cool with it. I’ve been pretty impressed with the comments this week.

Eric: I feel the same going off… I was expecting to get a lot of negative feedback regarding comments made last week about the Horcrux books, about Molly Weasley. In fact, Christine, I think you’re saving some…

Christine: Oh!

Eric: … some comments…

Christine: Yes.

Eric: … for me later.

Christine: I can’t wait to discuss!

Eric: What!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: But on the most part, I have to say people were really fair about it, and I really liked the variety of comments we got back. So we’ll breeze on through some of these comments from last week, starting with rock_me_animagus.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Christine: I love these users so much!

[Michael laughs]

Eric: rock_me_animagus says,

“I was also disappointed with the accio book thing when I first read it. Rather than Dumbledore having the forethought of Hermione summoning the book, I think there were protections he had cast around it (and possibly other books) that went away when he died. Regarding the discussion on what would have been a better alternative to “Deus ex accio”, I liked the thought the hosts had of finding people who knew how to do this. Maybe instead of a book, a compilation of memories from someone who gathered the knowledge on how to make/destroy Horcruxes would have been a very interesting chapter to read.”

Okay, okay, not bad, not bad. Going over to Davey B. Jones 99’s comment, though.

“I really enjoyed the Horcrux discussion about how the information was […] really easy [to find] and that it was found in a library book in this podcast. I am on both sides of the fence with this one. I do feel that it was a little bit of a missed opportunity for more lore and world building, but I don’t think you’d be able to fit it into an already heavily loaded book. There are so many plot threads and loose ends that needed to be resolved from previous books as well as things that we were just introduced to in this book that I don’t see how this could have been fit into the book without serious reworking. I’m already impressed that she was able to resolve everything so well in one book, but I’m not sure how this could work in the book. I think that what’s being suggested here is that they need to travel to find someone to tell them about Horcruxes, unless the suggestion is just that Dumbledore sends them information, or Hermione finds the information in a different way […]. However, on top of them also needing to find the Horcruxes and a weapon they could use to destroy them, adding another thing that they have to be searching for would significantly add to the length of the book. This is already the second longest book in the series, and I think that adding this as an aspect to the story would have pushed the book to over a thousand pages or maybe even into an eighth book. As much as I think all of us would have loved for the book to be even longer, or even for there to be more books, I think there’s a limit to how much you can put into a story without making it tedious.”

So long comment, but where do you guys land on this, on these theories, these comments?

Christine: I like the first one where it mentions maybe there were protections that went away when Dumbledore died. I had not thought of that previously but it is a valid point, perking back to when Lily dies and some of the things tied to her go away. So I had not really thought about that. I was not too pleased with the “Accio book” component either but the notion that the protections were gone make sense. That being said it seems like Dumbledore would have planned accordingly and known that that would have happened.

Michael: Yeah, because the way that it is written – and people mentioned this in the comments last week, too – but the way that it is written and said by Hermione implies that Dumbledore meant for it to be that way, meant it to be that easy. The writing suggests that it is the idea of it is the easiest thing and nobody would expect to do the easiest thing because it is Dumbledore.

Christine: Right, yes.

Michael: Which is why Hermione thinks of it in the first place, which it is why it is perhaps supposed to be clever although obviously not everybody took it that way.

Christine: Exactly, like a little Dumbledore wink or something.

Michael: Yes, yes, we have not gotten a lot of those for a while. I thought the suggestion by rock_me_animagus was interesting that it would be somebody who had memories on how to do it. I would not be crazy about that only because that would seem like too much of a repeat of Half-Blood Prince.

Eric: Right, you have got to be careful with or she has got to be careful with how this information is discovered. It is like I question how many Animagus people there are in the books, unregistered. Everybody cool is unregistered. Or how often the Polyjuice Potion gets used. So I think she would have had to be careful if it were another series of Pensieve scenes, which we know we also have at the end of this book with Snape.

Michael: Yes, she uses them pretty sparingly.

Christine: Yes.

Eric: So I can understand wanting to differentiate the means of information dissemination. I will say though, regarding David B. Jones’ comment about it making for a long book, part of what I was trying to say last week is that his is the beginning… it is still early in the book and I try and imagine – at least in this read through – I am really trying to imagine the rest of the book as a blank slate. In basically proposing that there would be somebody that they sought out, maybe at Godric’s Hollow. My whole thing was imagine that the rest of the book did not happen. I am calling for, basically, massive changes and it does not necessarily make the book longer because I am talking about that kind of a reveal, almost replacing other things that happened in the book. So I do not know, it is still pretty early, it has been so long since I read the books, read this book, but I will say I am going to keep an open mind, except I really would have liked more Horcrux stuff at some point a little later on.

Michael: I don’t know how it could have worked out because I have no idea how this information would tie into this. But I almost feel like what you are saying suggests that a good place to put the info would have almost been when they go to see Bathilda Bagshot…

Eric: Yep.

Michael: … because she ends up being not that integral to the plot – she ends up being almost a huge diversion.

Eric: Well, it’s a trap.

Michael: Yeah.

Christine: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: But that… again it’s a little early to be talking about this… because there’s something in this chapter that I want to mention too… but in general it’s a series of set-ups… we want to go to Godric’s Hollow. We have been hearing about it since maybe Book 3 or yeah, I think Book 3 when it is talked about the house being destroyed by McGonagall and Dumbledore all in the Three Broomsticks. So we want to go, but then it turns out to be – oh, Voldemort caught that, he knew that you would want to go here. It’s a trap. I don’t like that. I wish that they could go places and learn everything that they have to learn without it being a trap all the time.

Caleb: Yeah, but also my thought with that… I guess I find Godric’s Hollow pretty relevant because Harry getting to see the gravestone I think is pretty important even though it doesn’t carry very far after that. But if you are thinking about Harry’s task here. He doesn’t have the time to go everywhere in… or even spend a lot of time in the places he goes to learn all about it, right, because…

Eric: Right.

Caleb: … it’s a time sensitive matter to take care of these Horcruxes.

Eric: I’m glad that you mentioned that Caleb because there’s another comment or series of comments – I’ll go through them as quickly as I can – but it actually relates to Harry’s mission and whether or not – we actually had a discussion last week about whether or not he could sort of give the burden to others. Here’s a comment from DoraNympha who says,

“Harry is making Dumbledore’s mistake without realizing it’s a mistake yet; you’ve summed it up perfectly on the show. But really, what would have happened if the trio confided in a few more people, maybe not all the information [-] like they wouldn’t tell anyone how to make a Horcrux for the same safety reasons that Dumbledore didn’t want anyone to know [-] but what would have happened if they’d just confirmed a few things, like told the Order they’re going to hunt down Voldemort piece by piece and that they need Basilisk fangs, something from Ravenclaw or Gryffindor, Hufflepuff’s cup and if anyone has any ideas on who R.A.B. might be, that’d be great as well? I didn’t want them to take Lupin with them, but would it really have been that much of a tragedy to tell him some stuff and Bill and Fleur in April? (Harry only accidentally tells Ginny they’re going to go kill Voldemort, and yet she probably passed this on to Neville and co., and that alone was enough to motivate them for a whole year of resistance against the Carrows. Maybe the Order wouldn’t have been so enervated if they’d known for a fact that the trio [was] working on taking down Voldemort instead of just assuming it?)”

Further comment here:

“It could have been done in a clever way too; just tell one person about one Horcrux, kind of like how Dumbledore only told Snape about the wand and not the other two Hallows. The trio could have just divided the help for their task so that no one goes hunting for all Horcruxes at once or is even exposed to the idea that one is capable of splitting their soul into seven, and Voldemort wouldn’t suspect that someone’s discovered his secret. When Regulus stole the real locket, Voldemort didn’t notice. He’s very focused on Harry, so he’ll notice if he shows up at Gringotts or Godric’s Hollow but wouldn’t necessarily notice another Order member. Also, if anyone more experienced at magic feels up to learning how to make Fiendfyre, that’d be great help too. Isn’t THIS […] what the order is FOR in the first place? If the book hadn’t been written from Harry’s point of view, we may have got something closer to a group effort so that even if Harry isn’t there to participate in a certain action, we’d still know about how it went down. As it is, I’m glad they were stubborn enough to do it all themselves but only because we don’t see anything Harry doesn’t, so I’m all for him doing everything.”

How do you guys feel?

Caleb: So I think that they make some good points, but I guess that my pushback would be that the people that you are bring in from the Order – it’s not like they are just sitting around idly with nothing to do right now, right? Because there is still… while Harry is in the background doing the… trying to figure out the Horcruxes – the war is still going on. The trio are hearing about who… what’s happening over the radio as they are in the back country. So the… Kingsley still presumably with the Muggle Prime Minister or working with the Aurors, as is… well, I guess Tonks may not be because I guess she’s pregnant at this point but… they still have duties to protect with Britain on the front end. While Harry and the others are doing it behind the scenes.

Christine: That’s true but I don’t think they would necessarily need them to engage them actively with them. That’s my contention regarding Molly but we can get to that later.

Eric: You have contention regarding Molly?

Christine: Your opinion of her, yes. [laughs] I think that they could sit down and say, not put it all out there, obviously for protection for the rest of the Order but are very talented witches and wizards. So I mean, everyone just real quickly about Molly, everyone likes to look at her as just a mom, but y’all have to remember, she took out Bellatrix. So she’s a very powerful witch and has a lot that she could probably offer. Of course she would still be in “mom” mode but you have Kingsley, the Weasley family, and a bunch of other folks that they could sit down and say, point out, some of the things they have to do and ask them for their input. Not ask them to go with them, but ask them for some opinions from their experience because they’ve lived longer and they might have some ideas that could help them or some wand work that is better than say Expelliarmus.

Eric: I know Bill is about to get married but as Nymphadora points out, he’s a professional Curse Breaker for Gringotts. That’s what he does for Gringotts as a living.

Christine: Exactly! She also points out about Charlie and the dragons, I do believe or that was someone else. They have some talent that, no offense to seventeen and eighteen year old kids but they are seventeen and eighteen-year-old kids. And one year they didn’t even get to practice any defensive spells except when they were in the DA, so you have knowledge right in front of you it makes sense to use it if you can.

Eric: So following up on those comments, HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis over on the user forums points out,

“…but with Bill, it’s Harry’s old problem again; he wants everyone to be safe, and if Bill knew what they are up to, he wouldn’t be ‘safe’ anymore. Or if Charlie had been with them he would have known how to deal with a dragon… not enough big Weasley brothers in the books!”

However, SnugglesWithNifflers points out,

“Right? And they’re lucky they didn’t all get killed sometime during the search and take the secret of the Horcruxes with them to the grave. It really would have made more sense to confide in someone, considering they were embarking on a dangerous mission with the most hunted man in the country while breaking into very public and well-guarded areas.”

Caleb: Yeah, that’s a good point. I think that was the risk. My second pushback point to this overall idea is that I think Harry really internalized the fact that this was something Dumbledore disclosed only to him and he really trusted the wisdom, whether that was for the better or worse is debatable, but you really trust the fact that this was something only he should know about and Dumbledore told him he should only tell Ron and Hermione and that was the risk that Dumbledore took. Something could have happened to all of them that in the end would have been pretty devastating but maybe that was the risk. And I think the reason he took the risk, meaning Dumbledore, is because he knew the decision that Harry would have to make in the end and the more people you bring into the circle of debating about what we should do, how we should tackle the Horcruxes, how should we go out and find them and you get to the last one and everyone knows what’s going on and even though Harry could have kept that last one secret, there’s a greater chance that it doesn’t get kept secret if everyone knows, everyone is in the loop in general to happen.

Eric: That’s a really good point.

Christine: That’s true. That’s valid, for example, if Molly knew, there’s no way. She would have been fighting him.

Michael: Yeah, and I think there’s an element of, I was actually thinking, with the ending with what Harry has to do and what he has to learn, a lot of people point to this as a bit of a… there’s contention over this. Not the original book, but the film version of The Wizard of Oz where at the end Glinda basically says, “I was just trying to teach you a lesson about going home,” and logically, Dorothy would be like, “I always wanted to go home.” [laughs] But there’s something more to it that she has to learn by going through the experience, as absurd and dangerous an experience as it is, that she has to learn on her own for the final bit of magic to work. And it’s the same situation with Harry, where I think Dumbledore was very much assured that Harry had to go through most of this – if not with just Ron and Hermione – mostly on his own to learn that because I think you guys are right, that with the final task of Harry’s, the group wouldn’t have let him do it or would have tried to find an alternative.

Christine: Right. Well, that would be if he fully exposed his plans to go into the forest, though, because as we all know, he basically said at the last minute, “This is what I’m doing,” and just walked off. But yeah, he would have more people trying to hold him back.

Eric: Well, our final comment from last week’s discussion actually comes from somebody who has taken it a little further. I love this. Hufflepug wrote in:

“If the ghoul is a representation of how Ron will go to great measures to help Harry, then the fact that the ghoul has been hidden away in the attic for the entire series could symbolize how Harry is yet to realize that until this moment. Even though Ron has always had this great loyalty to Harry, Harry rarely acknowledges it until now, when the stakes are really high.”

I like that a lot.

Michael: Yeah. We had a listener, actually, a few weeks ago basically… because we were giving Ron some love during the “Fallen Warrior” chapter when he comes back and Tonks is like, “Wow, he’s actually really good at magic…”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: … and everybody in the comments was pretty much like, “Yeah, Ron is good at magic!” And I’m like, “Well, yeah, and no.” It’s nice…

Eric: He’s good at chess. Is he good at magic?

Michael: Well, see, and that’s just it. That’s always been my problem with Ron and why I am really excited with some of the moments he gets in this book, and the symbolism that the listeners are finding for maybe his representation in the series because I’ve always found… to me, as a reader, there aren’t many moments for Ron that quite match up to the chess moment. He has quite a few of them; they’re just… maybe it’s because the chess moment is iconic. But to a lot of people, that suggested that Ron was going to be a great war strategist…

Christine and Eric: Mmm.

Michael: … because that’s usually what chess symbolizes, and that didn’t really end up coming through until the very end.

Caleb: Ish.

Michael: Ish, yeah.

Christine: Yeah.

Michael: And I think even other characters took that on more than he did.

Caleb: Yeah.

Michael: Ron comes to a lot of realizations and epiphanies pretty late in the series compared to other characters, which in a way I like about him because I think Ron is a more realistic character. Harry is the kind of book character that we expect who just charges right in, and Ron is the one who often says, “What are we doing? This is absolutely insane!” He’s the voice of the everyman, which is nice.

Christine: Yeah, I agree.

Michael: But he just doesn’t get as many… and some of his big moments even happen offscreen, as we’ve discussed before. But I like that idea that even Harry hasn’t realized Ron’s full potential until this moment, either.

Eric: Ron is symbolically the ghoul.

Michael: Yes. I like that. [laughs]

Eric: Well, that wraps up the comments that we grabbed.

[Christine laughs]

Michael: And before we go into the chapter discussion, we’ve got a few more comments from you listeners for the Podcast Question of the Week. As a reminder, that…

Eric: Here we go!

[Christine laughs]

Michael: Yeah, this is going to be good. Christine has got her boxing gloves on and everything.

Christine: I have my notes!

Michael: [laughs] Good. The literary boxing gloves.

[Christine laughs]

Michael: So as a reminder, that question is: “We as readers are positioned to support Harry in most of his feelings and choices. In this instance, via Harry, we are initially pitted against Mrs. Weasley. But as the chapter continues, Harry begins to see the moral grayness in Molly’s attempts to glean information from him and keep him separated from Ron and Hermione. As we discussed, while Molly is holding up her responsibility as a mother, she can also not possibly be as ignorant as she lets on about Harry and Voldemort’s conflict. Yet this is not the first time in the series Molly has been overbearing toward the trio. What were your initial feelings toward Molly in this chapter? Is her behavior completely justifiable, or only to a point?” So the first comment here comes from Hollywobbles, who pretty much echoes the majority sentiment in the comments. A lot of people came up… what was interesting was most people did say that Molly was completely justifiable in her behavior, but a lot of people came up with very different reasons for why. Hollywobbles just had a few in their comments, and Hollywobbles said,

“The Ministry had not fallen yet, and McGonagall was still in charge at Hogwarts, so Molly had no reason to think that Hogwarts wouldn’t still be safe. We see things happening super quickly for the sake of the story, but keep in mind that the last time Voldy was waging war…”

[laughs] Voldy.

[Everyone laughs]

Christine: I love it.

Michael: I’m sure he loves being called that.

Eric: Good old Moldy Voldy.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Michael: [continues]

“… he was in power for eleven years without ever taking Hogwarts or the Ministry. Dumbledore gets a lot of credit for that, and it’s well deserved, but Hogwarts is still an ancient and powerful institution with or without Albus. I think it’s just incomprehensible to her that Hogwarts would fall to his power. I also don’t see her request as totally unreasonable, considering that Harry and company are barely legal and haven’t even finished school and are refusing all manner of help on their mission to save the Wizarding world. Taken out of the context of what we know (and Molly doesn’t know), it sounds a lot like teenage arrogance and Harry’s hero complex.”

Caleb: Can’t imagine where she would get the idea of that lattermost thing.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: No, not at all from the fact that he’s saved most of her children over the course of the last six years.

Eric: That’s a good point.

Christine: I agree with quite a few components in this, especially that the Ministry hasn’t fallen and McGonagall still being in charge because if you look at present day Muggle situations in [the] real world, there’s many nations… we’re very fortunate in the US that we don’t have war or those sorts of things going on, but in many countries, they can have a “war” going on but it doesn’t affect a lot of their day-to-day population. Those folks are still going to school, they’re still going to work, and avoiding the areas where there’s fighting. But at this point, they’re not even really fighting in the streets other than some kidnappings and this and that. So it makes sense to assume that your kids are going to school for basically what would be the equivalent of their senior year for us. And then to have them say, “Oh, no. We’re dropping out. We’re basically going to go fight Hitler with our friend. We really don’t have a plan, and we’re not going to tell you anything.” She’s a little justified to flip her lid and then try and be sneaky and figure out what the hell is going on because she’s not getting an answer from kids.

Michael: What I think is interesting, what you said, Christine, about the points that Hollywobbles made on the Ministry and McGonagall, is that to me speaks to something Hermione mentions to Harry in the last two books about whenever Harry looks at Umbridge, or looks at the Daily Prophet and goes, “So why does this matter?” And Hermione goes, “Oh, Harry, you’re so naive.” And Hermione is, as we know, very excellent at reading between the lines and knowing that while publicly things may seem okay, in the private sectors of the Ministry and even Hogwarts there is change, and Hermione considers people who don’t catch that naive. And I think a lot of people ponder that Molly… why would she not anticipate these things? Because as a member of the Order, she already knows while the Ministry hasn’t fallen, that it has been infiltrated.

Eric: Right.

Christine: True.

Michael: And she also knows that… now, and I think the really interesting thing, too, about the comment was the idea that… and I don’t know how you guys feel about this. There was a lot of discussion in the comments about this, too, that whether Dumbledore is what made Hogwarts safe or whether Hogwarts has transcended Dumbledore’s existence to be considered safe in its own right.

Eric: I mean, for the span of the books – because we haven’t known Hogwarts under a different headmaster except Dippet, who allowed the Chamber to be opened again and a Muggle to die – I would say it’s Dumbledore, for me, that makes Hogwarts safe.

Caleb: I agree. I don’t think we have any concrete evidence to argue the other way. I mean, I think you can theorize, but I think the evidence that we have in the books is… obviously there’s a lot of magical protections. You can’t Apparate in. That’s always been the case as far as we know, or at least beyond Dumbledore’s tenure, but for pure safety. But on the hand, there wasn’t arguably as great a threat before Dumbledore that we know of, either. I mean, there was obviously Grindelwald…

Eric: Right.

Caleb: … but that was not just localized to Britain like Voldemort was. So I don’t know. Maybe it’s a little complicated. More complicated than I set it out to be.

Michael: And consider, too, that just the year previously, Hogwarts got broken into.

Caleb: Yeah.

Christine: Exactly. Yeah, and that’s a valid point, to question the safety of it. But at the same time, it’s been secured and, like in my real world reference, you just continue on with life. So it makes sense that she would think it. I can understand why that would be questioned, though, because there’s obviously security issues since he was just murdered there… [laughs] and Death Eaters broke in.

Michael: Yeah. Well, and I always think of the line from the first book when Harry questions the package that Hagrid is taking from Gringotts and Hagrid insists that, “There’s no safer place than Hogwarts,” and he’s not really saying it’s because of Dumbledore; Hagrid is claiming that Hogwarts as an institution is a safer place to house something than Gringotts.

Eric: I think he puts too much faith in three-headed dogs.

[Christine laughs]

Michael: Well, yeah, but you have to wonder if that isn’t something [where] that impression of Hogwarts hasn’t bled into the wizarding public’s view of Hogwarts.

Eric: Yeah, I think it’s reasonable.

Michael: Yeah, so… and before I move on to the next comment, I want to mention, too, again there were just so many good comments this week. And a lot of people not only used the examples from Hollywobbles about why Molly might have been justified, but there were a lot of other additional arguments. Some of the most important ones, I thought, were that people referenced Molly’s Boggart in Book 5 and people frequently referenced something that doesn’t often get mentioned in the series. We’re going to get a taste of it in this chapter, but the death of her brothers in the previous Wizarding War…

Christine and Eric: Yeah.

Michael: … which hangs over her character but never really gets detailed in the books proper, but something that I think a lot of people were ruminating on for this question.

Christine: Yeah. One other thing to mention is Percy…

Michael: Mhm.

Christine: … and I don’t think that that pays a lot of mind. But having some personal experience in the matter, a lot of times when someone disassociates [him]self from the family, most of the family responds the same way as we all do in regard to Percy: “What a prat.” And you’re frustrated, but you move on. However, the mom is left worrying. “What’s going on? Is he okay? What did I do wrong?” And that’s always on their mind. So in addition to her brothers, in addition to her husband being attacked and almost dying a few years ago, then Percy, then she has George who just lost an ear, and now her other son is saying, “Oh, I’m going to go off and drop out of school and go directly to the person that has almost killed these family members of yours and I’m not going to touch base with you at all.” I think it’s overwhelming as a whole for her.

Michael: Yeah, that was actually something that was frequently brought up in the comments as well. Thank you, Christine, because that was… everybody was citing the issues that we’ve seen her children go through already in the last six books, and it’s been quite a lot. When you tally up all the things that’s happened to the Weasley children over the last six years at Hogwarts, it’s actually kind of horrific.

Christine: But wait, I just forgot about Ginny being possessed by Voldemort…

Michael: Yep, by Voldemort.

Christine: … oh my God.

[Christine and Eric laughs]

Michael: She’s been personally victimized, so…

Eric: A Hogwarts with Harry in it is more of a target than a Hogwarts without Harry in it.

Michael: Yeah, so she should be encouraging him to go wander off into the forest.

[Christine and Eric laugh]

Michael: Her children would be much safer without him.

Eric: While she’s still got children there, yeah.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Michael: But to turn the argument around a little bit, our next comment comes from Ravenclawsome, who says,

“Molly’s innate mother-ness prevents her from seeing Harry’s situation with Voldemort clearly. She really should be able to understand that there are some things that only Harry can do, given all her work with the Order, but her protective nature overrides her ability to see the good that will come from the trio’s mysterious and probably dangerous situation. I think she was completely out of line by persistently ambushing them for information about their plans. That shows not only a mistrust of her son and his two best friends (who are young but all of whom are of age) but also a mistrust of Dumbledore. She should know all of these people well enough to understand that Dumbledore’s plan is carefully planned although potentially dangerous, that Harry will do anything he can to carry out that plan, and that Ron and Hermione will loyally accompany him through all of it, even if that involves keeping it all a secret. Her annoying attempts to keep the trio apart is her desperate move to try [to] keep their mission from happening. Knowing how protective Molly is explains most of her actions, though. In book 5, she didn’t want any of her children to be in the Order, but they all wanted to get involved. Since then, Bill has been attacked by a werewolf Death Eater, and George has lost an ear to Dark [m]agic. She may be wondering whether, if she had tried even harder to keep them away from the war against Voldemort, either of these events could have been prevented. And because of this, she probably feels an even greater responsibility to prevent any more harm from coming to her children in the future. I really do think that Molly’s intentions are good, but she’s going about it in completely the wrong way.”

Okay, go.

Christine: I think there… [laughs]

Eric: Ding, ding! Round one. [sings]

[Everyone laughs]

Christine: No, really. I understand some of the components to this. The one thing I would say is I think there’s a bit of a misperception or conception as to how much information that Dumbledore has really shared with the Order in regard to the Harry-Voldemort connection. I don’t think he’s shared much other than “Trust Harry” , his last words to them. And I question: Who all did he say that to? Because we see Kingsley and Lupin reference his last words, but we don’t see the rest.

Michael: Yep.

Christine: So who were at the meetings? What were really said? And I think that he really kept the whole Voldemort-Harry thing close to his chest, and other than Snape, who obviously none of the Order are going to discuss this with, I don’t think many others had much information at all. So she doesn’t really know any of it.

Eric: Yeah, and this commenter is sort of asking Molly to set aside her innate responses for a trust in Dumbledore, which almost hasn’t been earned because of how little Dumbledore has told, and part of this book’s main theme is how vulnerable Dumbledore was, and Harry himself doubts trusting him and going by what he said a hundred percent. So it’s a theme in the book that Dumbledore was flawed, and for Molly to have blind faith – which I’d like her to do, that would be nice – but it’s a little unreasonable I guess.

Christine: Right, and also a good point to mention is that all of the mothers that are represented protect their child given the component. Of course Molly is trying to protect her children, of course Lily, the other mothers, and then you look at Narcissa. The only female that ever says, “Oh, I’d be willing to give my child up in a heartbeat,” is Bellatrix.

Michael: Mhm. And she doesn’t even have one.

Caleb: Who obviously doesn’t have a child.

Christine: Exactly. She’s not even a mother.

Michael: Thank God.

Eric: We talked about in Book 6 Merope as well – Voldemort’s mom giving him up for perhaps a better life.

Christine: Yeah.

Eric: Some interesting questions surrounding that, but on the whole, mothers do really well by their kids in this series. I just think that what happened in the last chapter does amount to sabotage, and even though they get through it in the end – which is easy to say because we’ve all already read – it was annoying that they were interrupted just as all of this information was coming so fresh and so sweet.

Christine: That’s true, it was. But at the same time, we are seeing it from Harry’s perspective, so I would be curious how it would show from hers maybe, or somebody else’s. I can definitely say without a doubt she was probably annoying, because I know when my daughter’s trying to keep something from me, I’m like, “Hey!”

[Christine, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Christine: She doesn’t tell me.

Eric: Not doing a very good job of showing this!

Christine: Yeah, give me more! So yeah, I can definitely see that. But at the same time, can any of us really say that looking back on seventeen to eighteen-year-old selves, that we didn’t make some stupid decisions, or at the same time that we look back on what our parents were asking and it really wasn’t that out of line?

Michael: Well, I have to close this discussion out by pondering… because I know last week, Eric, you did express your frustrations. And I think perhaps… I wonder too as a reader if those frustrations – and maybe this is something to examine with your frustrations as a whole with Deathly Hallows – that we’ve been waiting a long time for information, for the story to get moving, and Molly pretty much bursts in just as things are getting moving and goes, “Nope!” And we put a pause on things again for quite a while, getting moving pretty fast. So I wonder if that isn’t some of the intended frustration by Rowling.

Eric: It might be. I mean really, just that in this book – I think I felt it in this chapter, can’t wait to talk about it – but I think in general that yeah, because it’s the last book, perhaps I’ve never felt that anxious for answers as I have in this book. But classic Jo’s style is always to give us just as much as we need, just enough to pique our interest and then cut it off. People get cut off in conversation all the time in the Harry Potter books.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: It’s a literary trick for hiding information. But she’s been doing it so long at this point that…

Christine: Yeah, just get to it! [laughs]

Eric: … I stopped being okay with it right around Chapter 6 or so of Deathly Hallows. It’s just how it worked. [laughs]

Michael: No, and the reward… I think what’s frustrating is that the reward is, once they do set off and we finally get them going where we want them going, they look around and go, “Oh my God, we have no idea what we’re doing.”

Eric: Yeah, it’s kind of a shame.

Michael: So I think… something to…

Christine: Yeah. They might have had a better idea if they had asked for some help.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Christine: Sorry, had to.

Michael: Something to keep in mind as we continue through the chapters of Deathly Hallows. Before I end the Podcast Question of the Week segment, I did just want to make sure and do a few shout-outs. So many excellent comments this week from… let’s see, I want to shout-out to DisKid, FeatherSickle7662, Felix Scamandar, Harley Meenan, How am I Going to Translate This?, Hufflepuffskein, I See Thestrals, MrsSlrKls, Never Tickle a Sleeping Ravenclaw, PuffNProud, Rose Lumos, Snuggles with Nifflers, and Wizard or What. You all had great comments, and I want to do a Shout-out Maxima to those of you who…

Eric: My God!

Michael: Your comments also almost made it into the show. There were so many really good ones and there were great points in each of these, but I could not fit them all in the show. Those shout-outs go to CentaurSeeker121, DoraNympha, Hufflepug, lifeanddtragons, Melissa McCarthy Steinberg, Snape’s Many Buttons, Spinner’s End, Supreme Mugwump – hello there, Rukmini – They’ve Taken My Wheezy, Tickle the Pear, Time and Relative Dimension in Handbag, Tiffany Howser, WitchWolfsbane10, and YoRufusOnFire.

[Eric laughs]

Michael: Extra special maximum shout-out to YoRufusOnFire. Eric, if you haven’t read her comment, go and read it because it’s pretty much exactly in line with all of your views.

Eric: I am, I will.

Christine: You’ll get warm fuzzies.

Michael: It came very close to being included; we just did not have time for it, unfortunately.

Eric: I know, that’s okay. I appreciate the support, Rufus.

Michael: [laughs] But thank you all for contributing to the Podcast Question of the Week. If you want to see some of the responses from last week, just because the show is over doesn’t mean that the discussion is over. Head over to

Caleb: And on that note, we are going to move right into this week’s chapter discussion.

[Deathly Hallows Chapter 7 intro begins]

[Sound of door opening]

Scrimgeour: Chapter 7.

Ron: I… sorry.

Scrimgeour: “The Will of Albus Dumbledore.”

Hermione: Ron!

[Deathly Hallows Chapter 7 intro ends]

Caleb: So what a wonderful chapter this is for both the humorous little moments and also the big things it sets up for further down the line in the story. So quick summary: Harry is dreaming at the beginning of the chapter and he’s looking down on a small town. When he wakes up, Ron and Hermione – or I guess it’s Ron – tells him that he was saying “Gregorovitch” in his sleep. He also wakes up to the fact that it’s his birthday – he has turned seventeen years old – and he gets the usual good here and there gifts from everyone, but a special gift from Ginny that leads to a rather awkward run-in with Ron…

Eric: Aww.

[Christine laughs]

Caleb: … followed by a birthday dinner that evening that is rudely interrupted by an uninvited guest: the Minister of Magic – Minister for Magic, I should say. And we discover the contents of Albus Dumbledore’s will, and that is followed by a clever trick by Harry to reveal his gift from Dumbledore. So to start off, as I mentioned, Harry turns the big old one-seven…

[Caleb and Christine laugh]

Caleb: … which is an age that is very irrelevant to… at least us in America, for the most part.

[Eric laughs]

Caleb: Because it’s right in between arguably the two most important ages growing up, but of course for the wizarding world it is the most important age because it is the age at which wizards and witches come of age. So when he wakes up, Harry summons his glasses and it’s a special moment even though it’s something very simple because he’s able to do magic outside of school.

[Christine laughs]

Caleb: And I thought about this… the closest I could think of anything comparable for me was the age of sixteen in the States, when you’re able to drive, and getting my license for the first time and being able to drive legally. And it was a really great thing. Even though I had driven plenty of times before, just having the license and the authority to do it, something just special about it.

Michael: You know, it’s funny because the thing I’d equate it to more – and really we’ve already seen it happen – is they have permission to drink.

Caleb: Oh, yeah. I guess that’s true.

Christine: Oh, yeah.

Caleb: I was thinking closer to that age, I guess.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah, no, it makes sense. I can see why you were thinking the car. I’m only thinking of the drinking just because I think you can get as carried away with magic as you can with drinking.

[Caleb laughs]

Eric: Yeah. I think that’s a good comparison.

Caleb: Yeah, that’s actually… yeah, your comparison is much better.

[Christine laughs]

Eric: But I did… I was seventeen when I first got my license, so that worked. Seventeen was a good year for me, looking back. It was when I first started podcasting.

Michael: Yay!

Caleb: Then we get… as Ron is laughing along as Harry is doing this, Ron obviously already being able to do this, he gives Harry some advice to do his fly-by-hand though and not use magic for that particular…

[Christine, Eric, and Michael laugh]

Caleb: That is probably some good advice. I just love when Jo injects that crass humor every now and then. But we get Ron’s gift to Harry because he doesn’t want anyone else to see it – in particular Hermione to see the gift – which is the book Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches.

[Christine laughs]

Caleb: I just love this because there’s a moment where Ron is this stud who has got all this game that he’s just passing onto Harry.

Christine: Yeah. I love this so, so, so, so much. It’s hysterical. I think it’s really cute that the twins gave it to him as well.

Caleb: Yeah.

Christine: Because there has been discussion on questioning the relationship and if they’re close or not, and it shows that they’re like, “Okay, little bro, come here. Let’s show you how this is done.”

[Caleb, Christine, and Eric laugh]

Michael: This has been such a point of contention for me, and actually the listeners brought it up in last week’s comments because – storytime: once upon a time when my friends… back when my friends thought I was straight, [laughs] one of my friends at the time, who… ugh. He was in a very… in my opinion, a very bad relationship. He told me… basically, he pulled this same moment where he kind of took me aside and he was like, “Hey, you know what really gets the girls?”

[Caleb laughs]

Michael: “Read Twilight.”

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: God.

Michael: And I was like…

Christine: No!

Michael: “Eww, that’s horrible.” And he was like, “But it really works. I read it and I can kind of relate a little more to them now. I get it.” And I was like, “That’s horrible.” I mean, notwithstanding that I’m gay and I wouldn’t want to get the girls anyway, more reasons for me not to read Twilight

[Eric laughs]

Michael: … but it was kind of comparable to this moment. And what was interesting that a lot of listeners are bringing up – and I think we’ll be discussing this not only in this chapter but in future chapters to come with Ron and Hermione – is how it affects the sincerity of Ron towards Hermione in this book.

Caleb: Yeah, that’s definitely a good point. Like you said, it comes up a quite a few times and…

Michael: Yep.

Caleb: … we see it here a little bit later. But yeah, it’s worth discussing here because, God yeah, they’re finally starting – Ron, at least – we’re seeing him show more outward signs of affection to Hermione, and if it’s just this ploy to kind of “get the girl” and not this genuine sort of… I don’t want to say traditional but…

Eric: Well, I think Ron needed some tips.

Christine: Right, I agree.

Eric: I’m glad that he found this book useful… and found it so useful to pass it onto Harry. However, two things here: it says later in the chapter like Harry doesn’t really think he’s going to have all this much time to pick up chicks while on the road – I think Harry even says that to Ginny. But the other thing is… Ron’s actions later in this chapter, in my opinion, completely negate this gift. There is no excuse for what Ron does later, and so I’m not very happy with him.

Caleb: Yeah, we’ll get to that.

[Christine and Michael laughs]

Eric: But it’s funny that there’s a… Harry guesses there’s a chapter devoted to compliments.

[Caleb laughs]

Eric: It’s pretty… like for us it’s common sense, but for somebody else it might not be common sense. But the way Ron suddenly knows to compliment Hermione when a compliment is due is pretty cool.

Caleb: Yeah.

Christine: Yeah. It’s a little over-the-top too, but then I think later on in the book, he calms down and comes into his own maturity.

Caleb: Sure.

Christine: And so, yeah, it’s kind of obnoxious, but it’s…

Caleb: He’s following a learning curve.

Christine: … comedy relief. Exactly!

[Caleb laughs]

Christine: He’s young and he’s Ron. Give the guy a break. Come on. [laughs]

Michael: Ostensibly, he’s been using it for a little while. It would seem since Hermione showed up at The Burrow because in the last chapter, Harry’s kind of taken aback that Ron runs to Hermione’s side and puts his arm around her and gets out a tissue.

[Christine and Michael laughs]

Christine: That’s right. Yeah, yeah.

Michael: And this is why!

Christine: And he even cleans it. [laughs]

Michael: Mhm. Yeah, he cleans it off for her.

Eric: Yeah, well mostly. Mostly.

Christine: Mostly.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: So he’s already been using it to… it’s implied. So yeah, this is… that’s where that comes from.

Eric: Talk about a re-gift, guys. Really.

[Christine and Michael laughs]

Caleb: So then after Harry gets downstairs, he starts to get a couple of other gifts and probably the most sentimental, shall we say, is the one that Molly Weasley gives him. She gives him a watch, which we learn is a tradition for wizards to get when they come of age. And it did seem pretty gender – I should say, sex specific that it’s wizards that get watches. Just… that’s the tone that I picked up on. I don’t know if that’s the same that everyone else thought of, so it made me wonder what witches would get when they come of age, if they get a traditional gift. Did anyone else read into it like that?

Christine: I did. Yeah, I was curious. I assumed it would be jewelry of some sort, maybe a bracelet or something. But yeah, I was curious because it sounds like a very masculine watch.

Caleb: Yeah.

Michael: This idea is something that almost comes out of… Rowling has said before that wizards, as far as how they kind of followed societal norms from Muggles, stopped somewhere around the 1950s. And this seems like a very ’50s thing to do.

Eric: Oh, I thought she said the 15th century.

Michael: No, no, they went a little farther than that.

Eric: Okay, all right.

Michael: But it kind of stops around there. And this definitely seems like something that would come out of that tradition.

Eric: What witches get.

Michael: I can’t imagine what… I think Christine’s right that it would probably be… but in a way, I don’t know because I like to hope it would be something as somewhat moderately useful as a watch.

Caleb: Right, that’s kind of what I was getting at.

[Michael laughs]

Caleb: Right, chipping away at what you’re saying.

Michael: But if you go with the idea of the ’50s, probably not. [laughs]

Caleb: Right. Witches…

Eric: It could be like arranged marriage.

[Caleb, Christine, and Michael laugh]

Caleb: Okay, that’s…

Michael: An adequate man.

Christine: Oh, boy.

Michael: Well, you know, the thing that I think is so nice about this moment is – and I don’t know, Caleb, if you have this further on in the discussion – but this is the moment again where we get just a little hint of the Prewetts and that they’re related to Molly.

Caleb: Right.

Christine: Mhm.

Michael: And what happened, but she doesn’t say what happened.

Caleb: Sure.

Michael: And a shout-out to Time and Relative Dimension in Handbag who commented on the Podcast Question of the Week. Because they pointed out that this is kind of the moment where Molly and Harry both kind of attempt to make up for what happened between them in the last chapter.

Caleb: Yeah.

Christine: Yeah, absolutely. It’s very touching.

Caleb: That’s the next thing I had up, because we find out it’s not just any watch. It’s a watch from Fabian Prewett, one of Molly’s deceased brothers. And we don’t get the story about that here, but we know obviously it’s very sentimental and very special because obviously we know that she considers Harry another son. But to extend a family heirloom basically is just a very pronounced gesture at that, and it’s a very touching moment. Like you guys mentioned, they almost make up for the run-ins they’ve had lately and Harry… the text is just really beautiful how Harry holds on to her a little extra longer, and she acknowledges it and it’s just really great.

Christine: Yeah, it’s like a mother/son situation as much as it can be.

Michael: Well, as we know, Ron has already come of age, so Molly obviously has been contemplating this for a while.

Caleb: Right.

Michael: Having chosen not to give this to any of her other sons.

Eric: Yeah, you’re right. That’s a really good point.

Michael: This wasn’t a last minute decision.

Christine: Right

Eric: Especially if they’ve all come of age and traditionally you give a watch, like for her to still have one of her brother’s watches after six kids came of age.

Caleb: Right.

Eric: Six…

Christine: I can’t speak to the older sons, but Ron… I think it makes sense that they got him a brand new one because he’s big on having new things.

Michael: That’s true.

Christine: Because he’s one of the younger ones and he always gets the hand-me-downs, so I could see him being disappointed that it’s dented. Whereas Harry’s a little more sentimental because he doesn’t have a family, so the fact that it came from her brother would mean more to him.

Michael: Yeah, that makes sense.

Eric: I’m still very old school with thinking that electronics don’t work around magic, so clearly it’s a mechanical watch. But I’m still thinking, “Oh, watch, that’s odd.” What if it… like it technically should never be accurate if you’re casting a lot of spellwork. I realise it’s mechanical and not electronic, but there’s still something about that that shakes me up every time I have to think about it. I’m like, “Nope, mechanical watch, mechanical watch.”

Caleb: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: The moment too always makes me wonder because it’s so significantly pointed out in the first book, and it’s seen a few more times but not really mentioned again. I’ve wondered if Dumbledore’s watch was handed down to him from somebody – the one with the planets.

Eric: Oh God, wouldn’t that be cool?

Christine: Oh!

Eric: That would be really cool.

Michael: Because it’s a very unique interesting watch.

Christine: Jo! [laughs]

Michael: Yes, please answer that, Jo. I would be fascinated by that.

Christine: Pottermore!

Michael: Yes.

Eric: You know when he’s… again going back to Elphias Doge’s obituary, when he was eleven he was already writing to some of the top minds? I can imagine someone he had kept good correspondence with…

Michael: … gave him that watch. That would be cool. That would be really cool.

Eric: Yeah.

Christine: That would be cool.

Caleb: Well, after these more tangible physical objects… well, I guess the next one is, too…

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: Anyway… that’s a great segue, Caleb. So they start heading upstairs, but before Harry gets too far, Ginny pulls him into her room and Hermione pulls Ron further upstairs. And there’s a scene where Ginny tells Harry she’s been considering what to give Harry. She knows that it can’t be anything very big because he’s about to leave, and Harry is noticing that she’s not very weepy as they talk about him getting ready to leave – and she obviously won’t be joining him – and how much he appreciates her not being weepy. And it’s another moment… we saw this at the end of Half-Blood Prince at the funeral when they “break up” , but she’s a really confident girl in the way she’s handling the situation of him leaving, but also for what happens next because for the gift she decides to… I don’t know if this is actually what she intended to be the gift – maybe she was just setting it up – but she kisses Harry and it’s a very passionate kiss.

Michael: So we’re told.

Caleb: So we’re told, yeah.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Caleb: And Ron ruins the moment by barging in, and the kiss that is really a sweet, touching moment for the two of them is broken up awkwardly. So I wonder – we don’t have to go too far into this – but what would have happened without the interruption?

[Michael laughs]

Caleb: If Ron had not showed up?

Eric: Can I just say real quick: What is with these interrupting Weasley family members barging in?

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Are you kidding, Eric?

Eric: In subsequent chapters… interrupting Weasley say, “Oi.” What is going on here? How could Hermione have let this happen?

Michael: From what I understand, that is a tradition of any large family. You will never find any moment of privacy.

Christine: Yeah, that’s my understanding, too.

Eric: I blame Hermione fully for this. I can’t even…

Christine: How do you blame Hermione?

[Michael laughs]

Eric: She pulled him aside! She pulled Ron in the room and then let him go.

Christine: Yeah, and Ron is like, “Do-do, do-do,” and goes right back. She can’t control him.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Eric: All right, I blame both of them because when you get Ron’s explanation for it all – if you don’t think too hard about it – it makes sense and you’re like, “Oh, he was just doing a solid by his own sister.” But given how real the moment was, how again, it was this unfulfilled… Ginny prefaces it by saying, “I wanted to give you something to remember me by,” and she’s letting him know that he is still loved, and damn it, Harry could use a little bit more love. And she’s letting him know her true feelings without words in the most pure way possible. I’m just feeling, in this chapter, in the previous chapter… I am feeling huge literary blue balls.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Caleb: Oh, dear.

Michael Straight up.

Eric: It’s the worst feeling of unfulfilled… just the most magical, interactive character book detail things… it’s just not fun. It’s not pleasant. I have issues because I love Harry and Ginny and I really wish that the kiss were complete.

Caleb: I think it’s important just [that] they got it. Obviously it wasn’t a lasting moment, but I still think it has its impact, obviously.

Christine: I do, too. It’s showing the passion and some of the intensity to their relationship that we haven’t really seen. It’s been off-page.

Eric: Yeah, but Michael and I talked about that when we were going through Book 6. They’re always referenced; “Oh, those days by the tree, by the lake…” all those wonderful days in Harry’s mind.

Christine: Exactly.

Eric: And it’s never shown. And finally we’re getting something, and it’s gone.

Christine: Here you go, Michael. “Another!”

Michael: [laughs] See, I want to say, “Another,” but retroactively because I wanted this before this book.

Christine: Ah, yeah.

Michael: This took too long and I don’t care anymore.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: I really don’t. This is one of my least favorite moments in this chapter because to me, this is like, ” Boo, distraction, snore. Who cares?” This to me is equatable…. and the debate that comes from it afterward is… I see comparisons – weird reference – to the Ross and Rachel “We were on a break” from Friends because nobody in the room knows what the status of this relationship is, and each individual has a different idea of what that status is. And Ginny and Harry are just muddling it up, and everybody is interpreting it in a different way, and I just don’t really know what to think of this relationship. And like Eric said, it’s been off the page so much that I don’t care. I don’t care. [laughs]

Eric: I do still care. I think the subtext is they all know they have to be separate and Harry has got this mission, but neither of them really wants that. They’re going to do it, they’re going to go ahead and live separately – lives, missions – and go their separate ways after this, but there’s a real opportunity for a pure moment here. I mean, Harry looks out the window and sees the orchard where they used to play Quidditch together, and they’ve grown and times have changed and it’s sunny and he’s never been in her room before, and I’m sorry, but the fact that it gets interrupted just makes it feel hurtful and not… I don’t feel good while reading it. I can’t laugh it off.

Caleb: But I think that’s the point, right?

Michael: That’s the point.

Caleb and Michael: Yeah.

Christine: Yeah, that’s the point.

Caleb: Because you can’t indulge in it. He has to go “Save the world.”

Christine: Yeah.

Eric: He has this mission. He’s got to fumble through the woods for eight months. Yeah.

Michael: See, and that’s maybe again why I’m not crazy about it; just because it is that idea of indulging in something you can’t have and… I mean, just to be clear, readers, I’m not asking for a flat-out make-out sex scene between Ginny and Harry.

Eric: No. God, no.

Michael: I don’t want that.

Christine: No.

Michael: And if I did, I could go read fan fiction, as I have done before.

[Caleb laughs]

Michael: There’s plenty of that. But I wanted something more substantial from these two before this moment. And to me, as a reader, there’s just not enough for me to be as… I’m not as occupied or torn up about this as the characters are.

Caleb: That’s fair.

Michael: Personally, I don’t feel that, which is why I’m not crazy about this moment. I think the questions that are raised by it are interesting, but I think – and maybe that’s the other reason why I’m jaded about it – you see this question addressed in almost every superhero movie. We’ve seen this since the early 2000s with Spider-Man.

Caleb: Sure. Yeah.

Michael: It’s a very typical plot device.

Caleb: It’s true. But it ends up not being too significant in the chapter compared to what comes later.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Right.

Caleb: So there’s the awkward run-in with Ron and Harry; the first time they really spar over Harry’s relationship with Ginny. It makes sense where Ron is coming from in some respects because the scene looks like to him that Harry is coming on to Ginny even though he’s told her in the past they don’t want to be together. But that resolves pretty quickly because Harry says it won’t happen again and they move on. And I found this shift in tone rather rapid when they get to the birthday party because Harry is already amused by Ron’s SWAT tactics with Hermione, complimenting her, and then Ron gives Harry a thumbs up after Harry compliments Molly, which is just awkward.

Christine: [laughs] I think it’s funny.

[Michael laughs]

Caleb: It is funny, right? But it’s also a weird shift because they were just upset about what happened with Ginny, and Harry is upset about it on many levels, and then they quickly shift to, “Ha, you’re hitting on her. It’s really cool. You did a good job with that.”

Eric: Yeah, like, “We’re in the same book club. We’ve both read this book now. It’s great.”

Caleb: Yeah. I just found it a pretty quick shift.

Michael: Well, I think that’s… and again, I don’t now if I’m being too cruel to Rowling and how she approached this, but I don’t… maybe the narration just doesn’t care as much as we don’t, or at least I don’t as the reader, because…

Eric: I’m so sorry you went over to the other side of not caring.

Michael: No, it’s not that I don’t like this relationship. I think this relationship, for me as a reader, was retroactively repaired by Pottermore because there was more depth added to it. It’s not that I don’t like this relationship, but if we’re just talking centered in the book… and Caleb, like you’re saying, it’s this bizarre shift in tone. My only explanation for it is that Ron does seem to take Harry’s word for things. He does trust him. And I think Ron is willing to trust that Harry knows the gravitas of the situation. At this point because he’s not under the pressure yet, Ron wouldn’t be so audacious to suggest that Harry doesn’t understand the situation.

Christine: Right. And it does mention that Harry makes eye contact with Ginny and quickly looks away…

Caleb: Mhm.

Christine: … because of his promise and especially with Ron in mind, and it quickly moves on from that. But I think it’s just that they’re actually able to have a relaxing moment and some joy and so they’re having fun and just trying to kick off some of the stress that’s been going on.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: Ron is on my list.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Eric: There’s no getting over that.

Caleb: I think he does a lot of other problematic things in this book that you…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: I know, and I know you want to move forward, but if I could just finish here and add a little bit more insight into it. It’s just the idea that Ron intentionally bursted in, right? Because he’s trying to protect Ginny’s honor or make sure that it doesn’t get too far because Harry is leading her on or making it worse. It’s just, on principal, the idea of Ron bursting in is not a solid by any means to what you do to your friend. And I think Hermione seemed to have had some control over in pulling Ron aside initially. And was it a situation where she heard his argument and agreed that Harry shouldn’t be with Ginny, and so she sanctioned Ron’s bursting in? There’s a lot of questions I’m just not comfortable with. I think it’s a failure. I don’t even know.

Michael: It’s funny because you wouldn’t think there’s going to be more romantic relationship stuff to talk about because most people think Half-Blood Prince is that book, but there’s plenty of that in Deathly Hallows. [laughs] There’s a lot of that.

Eric: Well, good! Hopefully some of it leaves me with more joy.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Caleb: So just a couple of things to mention about the party: Remus and Tonks show up. Remus is looking very unhappy, and Tonks is looking radiant; their usual relationship status.

Eric: God.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: That’s par for the course.

Michael: It really is. I’ll let it go, but it’s…. damn.

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: I love how clear it is. It actually says in Harry’s light the way that he sees Lupin; he can tell that Lupin is really unhappy. But Tonks, by comparison, was radiating!

Caleb: Yeah. We’ll figure out, obviously, what that is about a little bit later in the book.

Michael: Positively glowing!

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Caleb: Oh, yeah. Yeah. We also meet Charlie, and we learn from his conversation with Hagrid that Norbert is now known as Norberta because she’s a female dragon.

Michael: Because gender swap jokes are funny! And it’s hilarious!

Caleb: I don’t know; I never took it as that. I just always took it as Hagrid being more reckless and not really figuring things out.

[Michael laughs]

Christine: Yeah.

Eric: It’s funny, the idea of not being able to get close to a dragon to check because it’s a dragon…

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: … and perhaps figuring out just by personality that it’s being protective, and this, that, and the other thing. But actually, my dad, when I was a kid, bred rabbits…

Caleb: I was really hoping you were going to say dragons.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: No, no, no! My dad bred both rabbits and dragons, actually.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It was a pretty cool childhood growing up. First few homes went up in flames and the other ones just had a lot of hay around.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: But no, seriously, we’d have a situation where we’d have two males in a cage and all of a sudden there’d be babies. “Oh, wait, one’s not a male.” With animals – and I’m assuming it’s the same with fantastic beasts – sometimes it’s ambiguous; you can’t really tell. I don’t know. Even if you’re in charge of raising or keeping animals and pets. But I thought it was awkwardly brought up. I don’t know why it’s here, but…

Michael: Because it’s funny.

Eric: I’m just indifferent to it in general.

Michael: It’s not a new joke, the, “Oh, the puppy was actually a girl, not a boy!” That’s an old joke. But it’s fun. I think it’s fun as far as just tying things back to Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone.

Caleb: Sure. Yeah.

Christine: Yeah, just a quick throwback.

Michael: Charlie hasn’t really been substantial since Goblet or Sorcerer’s/Philosophers, so it’s nice to see. We’ve been having so many fun callbacks to the earlier books and that’s just one of them.

Caleb: Yeah, you mentioned that I should have qualified when I said, “We meet Charlie.” This is the first time we have him in a real sense, not just flying through Hogwarts and picking up a dragon. Obviously, we’ve seen him before.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Was that him or was that just his friends?

Caleb and Christine: Oh.

Michael: Yeah, he doesn’t even show up. He sends his friends.

Christine: Yeah, it’s just his friends.

Caleb: That’s true. So it is the first time we actually do see him.

Eric: Yeah, Charlie has always been that Weasley who’s just out there. We meet him in Goblet, right?

Michael: Yeah.

Caleb: Mhm.

Christine: But not really. Just in passing, more.

Eric: I like that he’s Bill’s best man, though, which was mentioned, I guess, last chapter. It was a throwing reference.

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: Just real quick. But for me, that’s cool because they’re separated in their age from the rest of the siblings; that for Charlie to be Bill’s best man, it’s pretty solid and it makes me think of the fun times they had growing up and going to Hogwarts together.

Michael: Oh, yeah. Bill and Charlie have their own story.

Eric: Yeah, they’re both out of Hogwarts by the time Harry, or rather, Ron shows up. I don’t know. I like that.

Caleb: For most of the party, we know that they’re waiting for Arthur to show up. Molly is looking around anxiously waiting, and then we finally get a sign of Arthur in the form of his weasel Patronus, and the message ii carries is, “Minister of Magic coming with me.” Tonks and Lupin immediately leave. We get no explanation.

Eric: God. [laughs]

Caleb: Lupin just says, “We’ll explain later.” That’s whatever, but…

Michael: I think J.K. Rowling just hated me while writing these parts with Lupin.

[Caleb and Christine laugh]

Michael: She was like, “All the meaningful moments, Lupin has to leave early. Bye.” [laughs] It just kills me every time because there’s just no explanation until later and it’s awful.

Caleb: But… most of the characters don’t really get to be a part of this big moment anyway because it’s really focused on the trio. We start to really get into the meat of the chapter because the new Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, appears with Arthur and he wants to… he spends very little time with formalities and immediately wants to start talking to the trio alone. So they head to the den and as they’re doing so, Harry is afraid that Scrimgeour knows that the three of them are going to plan to drop out of Hogwarts. They get to the den, the trio sit tightly next to one another on the sofa opposite Scrimgeour, and he first tries to split them up. I think he wants to start with Ron, and we can read into that maybe if we want to…

Michael: It’s a power play move.

Caleb: Right.

Michael: So…

Caleb: No, I meant specifically why he wants to start with Ron as opposed to any of the three.

Michael: Oh!

Eric: Because he’s the weakest link?

Caleb: Yeah, that’s how I read it.

Christine: Yeah, that makes sense. Or at least he thinks he is.

Eric: I don’t know how Scrimgeour would know that.

Caleb: Yeah, that’s the thing. How much does he know?

Christine: Yeah, true.

Caleb: So it obviously doesn’t work. He has to talk to all three of them, and we figure out that the real purpose that he is there for is to execute Albus Dumbledore’s will finally. Harry picks up on this time lapse and isn’t very happy that it’s taken this long. Scrimgeour tries to justify it with a law – me as the legal nerd absolutely loves this moment where there’s this legal battle between Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic, and Hermione Granger, who hasn’t graduated from Hogwarts…

Eric: It’s brilliant. Yeah.

Caleb: And she completely annihilates him on the law that he wasn’t justified in withholding the objects because there was no serious risk or suspicion of them being dark artifacts or whatever it is. But then she slams him worse, one of the biggest disses of the series, I think. Scrimgeour asks Hermione, “Are you planning to follow a career in Magical Law, Miss Granger?” And she responds, “No, I’m not, I’m hoping to do some good in the world.”

Christine: Which is fun because then later on she does actually…

Caleb: Right.

Christine: … go into Magical Law.

Michael: Yeah, she goes to work in law.

Eric: Oh.

Christine: But she does do good.

Caleb: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: Well, the administration changed just so much.

Christine: Yeah.

Michael: Well, Hermione oddly is taking a very stereotypical view of people in the law.

Caleb: Yep.

Michael: That’s a very kind of trope thing about lawyers, that they’re evil. So she’s…

Caleb: So what are you trying to say here?

[Christine laughs]

Michael: I’m just saying Hermione’s parroting a popular belief.

[Caleb laughs]

Michael: I’m not saying I believe it, but I do think it’s funny that she does say that, and then she kind of ends up turning around. But I mean, considering that, like Christine said, the Ministry rule that they’ve been under over the last few years has not exactly proven its track record well.

Caleb: Right.

Christine: Exactly. And it is neat to see the change in Hermione from when we first met her, and she was toe-to-toe… she would just listen to authority figures and what the teachers said…

Michael: Yes.

Christine: … and all that, and now here she is going toe-to-toe with the Minister of Magic. I mean, that’s a huge moment of character growth for her.

Michael: Aren’t we all just so proud of Hermione when she says this? She has the comeback that everybody wants to have.

Caleb: Yes.

Michael: She’s so on it in this book.

Christine: Yeah.

Eric: I am really… yeah, I loved her in this moment, in these moments.

Caleb: So we find out that the will does not just include gifts for Harry, but actually for Hermione and Ron also. And Ron is very surprised about this – acts out on this shock that he’s getting something from Dumbledore – and Hermione has to do a little damage control because obviously if Ron is getting something from Dumbledore, Scrimgeour is coming in suspicious in the first place and that just adds to his suspicion. Somehow Hermione trying to fabricate a strong relationship between Ron and Dumbledore assuages Scrimgeour, or at least makes him press onward.

Michael: But I think that proves your question… that answers your question, Caleb, about what he was trying to do by separating them…

Caleb: Sure.

Michael: Because Ron already basically let it slip, so…

Caleb: Exactly, yeah. So we get Ron’s gift first, and it is the Deluminator, the one thing we have – I guess not the one thing – one thing that we have seen in the past. And the text that comes with it is: “in the hope that he will remember me when he uses it.” I always found this really interesting because it alludes to this relationship that they supposedly had. But I’ve always tried to dig deeper in what Dumbledore’s really talking about here. And when they’re discussing Scrimgeour’s questioning what it could be for, Ron mentions, “Put out lights, I s’pose. What else could I do with it?”

[Michael laughs]

Caleb: Obviously it’s a little bit of foreshadowing because we know it can do much more than that.

Michael: Which is absurd. The Deluminator is absurd!

[Caleb laughs]

Michael: “Oh, I can put out lights and also look in your soul sometimes. But mostly I put out the lights.” What is this instrument anyway?

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Yeah.

Caleb: It’s kind of a clever thing, though, right? It’s another one of those things Dumbledore’s hidden in plain sight.

Christine: Oh, yeah.

Michael: I like it.

Eric: I don’t know how I feel about seeing another one. And not only another one but two more, in that the Snitch is also like a double or triple thing.

Michael: It’s interesting, Caleb, that you wanted to try and see what more you can read into Dumbledore’s message to Ron because really, I don’t know if there is much more than what Hermione pointed out.

Caleb: Right.

Michael: Because what would Ron have to remember about Dumbledore? [laughs]

Caleb: Right. So that’s the question: is Dumbledore trying to reinforce this relationship to solidify the passing of the gift, or did he really mean more? Because the big question I have about Ron and the Deluminator – and I think this may come up a little bit later in the chapter, but it’s fine to discuss it now. Later, they are talking about what they get. What did Dumbledore expect Ron to use it for? Obviously we know he meant to use it more than snapping out lights. I don’t think that Dumbledore would have foreseen Ron leaving Harry and Hermione. I don’t think that.

Eric: That’s kind of what they settle on, isn’t it, that Dumbledore knew. When Ron comes back, if I’m remembering correctly – again, it’s been a long time – when Ron comes back, doesn’t he say something along the lines of, “Dumbledore must have known that I would fall out”?

Christine: Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.

Caleb: Yeah, he does say that, right. But I think it’s… I don’t remember if it’s Hermione or Harry that says, “He knew you would come back.” But that’s them reading into the situation that has just happened, right? I’ve always wondered, is that really what Dumbledore foresaw? Or did he see some other… this would be a really effective tool in their quest?

Eric: Well, when he says, “Remember me” when he uses it or whatever, he’s kind of speaking to an emotional connection. And the emotional connection is what triggers the Deluminator’s other aspects, isn’t it?

Christine: Yeah.

Caleb: Yeah, but it’s also an emotional connection that, if he’s at least speaking to himself, arguably they don’t have.

Eric: Yeah. It seems to… I mean, it’s able to thwart Harry and Hermione’s protective defenses – again if I’m remembering correctly – in getting Ron back to them. So it’s a pretty powerful sort of hidden property.

Caleb: Sure.

Michael: Rowling has essentially confirmed that Dumbledore did have a suspicion that Ron was going to have trouble.

Caleb: Oh, okay.

Michael: The only thing I can assume that comes from is we… and this goes back to the idea of how much you think Dumbledore is the puppet master and how much he knows. But I think Dumbledore for a long time, if not since their first year, more than he has been able, more than we’ve seen on the page, has been very observant of the trio’s relationship. And there are massive moments in the books where certain members of the trio don’t talk to each other for a while. And while you might think that would be petty teenage drama, I think Dumbledore recognizes that there’s validity to that behavior.

Eric: Yeah, I wonder if… you know how in Sorcerer’s Stone – or Philosopher’s Stone, however you read it – there’s this idea that Dumbledore is standing around invisible in the corridors and watching Harry?

Michael: Mhm. Yeah, he says that he doesn’t need an invisibility cloak.

Eric: He says that! That’s a line of dialog that he has. So I really wonder just in what sense Dumbledore would have been invisible around Harry and watched him grow closer. In a way that seems weird, but in another way that seems also like being a good mentor or guide.

Michael: [as Dumbledore] “Seven o’clock, time to go watch Harry.”

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: That’s a whole other story.

Eric: [as Dumbledore] “Just after the bowling tournament is over.”

Caleb: That is a very different kind of story.

Eric: [as Dumbledore] “I wonder which socks I should wear?”

[Michael laughs]

Caleb: Oh, boy. So then we get to Hermione’s gift, which is a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Michael: The best gift!

Eric: Love it.

Caleb: It is. And it is “in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive.” Predictably, Hermione gets emotional because it’s a very meaningful gift to her. She says that he knew she liked books. Scrimgeour suspects that there are codes going on because there are runes on the cover, but he’s reading a little bit too much into it.

Christine: Well, isn’t there runes all throughout the book as well? And different Deathly Hallows signs that were drawn into it?

Michael: Yeah, the book is completely in runes; there is no English.

Christine: Yeah.

Michael: Because as we find out from the copy that we have all been treated to in the Muggle world, that’s Hermione’s translated copy.

Christine: Right.

Michael: She’s credited with the translation in the book. [laughs]

Eric: Oh, cool.

Christine: Right, in like 2008.

Michael: Yep. Yeah.

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: So yeah.

Christine: Yeah. So…

Michael: It’s all in runes.

Christine: That’s the only… I actually can appreciate him suspecting codes for that one.

Caleb: That’s fair.

Michael: Yeah. I can’t… I guess we don’t have to discuss it too much here, but I love the role that Tales of Beedle the Bard is going to play. This has to be one of the richest things that’s left to the three of them.

Caleb: Absolutely.

Christine: Oh, yeah. Oh, I love that so much.

Michael: It plays such a fun role. I love that we already get a hint of it with Ron kind of being like, “Babbitty Rabbitty, you know, and her Cackling Stump!”

Caleb: Yeah.

[Christine laughs]

Caleb: What was that last one?

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Cackling Stump?

Caleb: And then they exchange fairy tales and Ron thinks that Cinderella might be a disease.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Christine: Yeah, I love that.

Michael: Yeah, and that’s so fun too because Tales of Beedle the Bard… listeners, if you haven’t read it, go pick up a copy right now.

Eric: Oh, yes.

Michael: If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.

Christine: Oh, yes.

Michael: It’s astonishing, and especially if you’re an appreciator of traditional fairy tales. It’s so fun that she does legitimately call out Cinderella because it acknowledges that fairy tales do exist in this world and in the Wizarding world. She’s commenting on fairy tales with Tales of Beedle the Bard and using that construct, but in a way she’s suggesting that wizards developed that on their own without Muggles’ help. And it’s fun, too, when you get even more meta with it. If any of you have ever seen the wizard cards, listeners, there are a few that hint at fairy tales. I believe Malodora Grymm was a hag who is the witch from Snow White.

Eric: Oh.

Michael: And there’s a hag who was the witch from Sleeping Beauty, and even “Old Mother Hubbard” is canon to J.K. Rowling’s world. She’s supposedly a hag who lured dogs to her house and then starved them to death. [laughs]

Caleb: Wow.

Michael: Yeah.

Christine: Aww!

Michael: So the fairy tales are even a part of this world. I’m sure we’ll get into that even more later, but it’s fascinating how these bleed through to each other.

Caleb: Sure.

Eric: Well, in even giving this gift to Hermione in this chapter, he’s basically predicted – and accurately so – what Voldemort’s game plan will be with the Hallows. And it’s sort of hinting that it’s going to come to the Hallows, that they have a role to play in the story.

Michael: Mhm.

Eric: So for that, it’s good on Dumbledore. I mean, it’s funny because in the last chapter he passed her some books, and in this chapter he’s passing her a book. But it’s a lot more… obviously Dumbledore knew that whatever he passed would not be safe with the government if it were that important.

Michael: Yeah. This book is benign enough just in appearance to be dismissed, especially because it’s fairy tales.

Christine and Eric: Right.

Michael: And it’s fascinating, too… that’s another thing we’ll get into, how Hermione… the idea to give this gift to Hermione, who is so on the straight-and-narrow as far as she does not believe things that are not tangible or cannot be seen. And Dumbledore has given her the most fantastical book that’s going to really, I think, push her belief system a lot.

Caleb: Then we get to Harry’s two gifts, but we only get to see one of them. The first gift is the Snitch he caught in his first Quidditch match at Hogwarts “as a reminder of the rewards of perseverance and skill.”

Eric: Aww.

Caleb: As justifiably so, Harry finds it anti-climactic. I mean, you see Ron get… the Deluminator isn’t the coolest thing in the world, but it’s definitely cooler than an old Snitch, and Hermione just got a beautiful book. And Harry gets an old Snitch that he’s caught in a Quidditch match before, but obviously it becomes much more than that. Scrimgeour suspects that it’s hiding something, and he alludes to that. And Hermione automatically, as if she’s back at school, provides that Snitches have flesh memories. So in theory, this Snitch should recall Harry’s flesh because he caught it. Harry starts to get nervous, and Scrimgeour offers up the Snitch, and he has really no choice but to take it. He takes it in his hand, but nothing happens.

Christine: Was anyone else surprised that Harry and Ron did not know about the flesh memory of a Snitch given how into Quidditch they are?

Caleb: Yeah. I guess thinking… I didn’t second guess it, but I am surprised that Ron didn’t know that.

Christine: Yeah, especially him.

Caleb: Not so much Harry.

Eric: Now that you say that, only because there would have been in history… surely there’s a reason for that practice to exist.

Christine: Exactly!

Eric: It says in case of dispute.

Caleb: Yeah.

Christine: Yeah, in case there’s contested games or something.

Eric: Yeah, there would have been a history of contested games. Yeah, I like the information. I think it’s really cool how they talk about assembling a Snitch with gloves so that it doesn’t screw up that innate security option. But I will say that the Ministry has had their 31 days, and they have not successfully translated or found a meaning in Beedle the Bard. They have not broken into the Deluminator and they have not broken into the Snitch. And I like that they have tried and failed but they come close, right? With this flesh memory thing? It’s the right idea…

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: … but they just don’t know all the details.

Caleb: He came in really thinking that he had it.

Christine: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah, yeah.

Michael: Well, and I love, too, that Hermione is like on pins and needles because she thinks that they got him too.

Caleb: Yeah, exactly.

Michael: I love that she’s silently trying to be like, [Hermione voice] “Oh my God! I have a hundred ideas of how he can approach this and I can’t communicate…”

[Eric laughs]

Michael: [as Hermione] “…any of these to Harry.” [laughs]

Caleb: So many ideas, so little time.

[Michael laughs]

Eric: Legilimency! Legilimency! Legilimency!

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: [as Hermione] “I practiced it over the summer. I know how to do Legili… I’m a Legilimens now but Harry’s not.”

Eric: Yeah.

[Michael laughs]

Caleb: So that moment sort of ends and we find out that Harry has another item from Dumbledore’s will and it is the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which…

Eric: Hey, yo.

Caleb: … this sword is… at least for me, coming in when I found out they had gifts coming, I thought this is what was going to be instead of the Snitch. So this was a nice payoff. But, unfortunately, Scrimgeour does not have it. He says that it is a historical artifact, that it was not Dumbledore’s to give to Harry, Harry has no claim to it. And then, the conversation turns to why he thinks Dumbledore would have given the gifts… the sword to Harry and he starts asking if he needed the sword to defeat the heir of Slytherin. But [sighs] I thought about this conversation in a way that I had not before because it gets into a pretty heated argument between Harry and Scrimgeour. Harry starts criticizing him for his job as Minister, which I think we can agree is justified in some ways. But I’m kind of wondering: Is he too critical knowing… as we know what… especially the sacrifice Scrimgeour makes later in the book? This scene, obviously… Scrimgeour definitely loses his temper but so does Harry. The wands are raised, there’s almost a fight that breaks out but Harry has such a limited understanding of what’s happening bureaucratically with the government. Scrimgeour may not be doing the best job – I think we can all agree he’s better than Fudge in a lot of ways…

Eric: Yeah.

Caleb: … I just kind of thought, for the first time, is Harry too critical…

Michael: Hmm.

Caleb: … here?

Michael: I think the frustrating thing with Scrimgeour is that he’s … he’s better than Fudge but he’s still using some of Fudge’s techniques. The biggest one being to placate the public.

Caleb: Sure, yeah.

Christine: Yeah.

Michael: Which is, at this point, he’s… it’s almost like he… he did it… while he was doing it in Book 6, I do agree with his approach a little more in Book 6 than I do here because now it’s time to stop and start doing… It’s time to start another approach because Scrimgeour can’t be completely ignorant to the fact that his Ministry as been infiltrated. I would be surprised if he has…

Caleb: Right.

Eric: Well, he has to be. He was an ex-Auror for how many years and he, somehow, is thwarted by people like Pius being under the Imperious Curse. Like…

Michael: Yeah. He…

Eric: … I don’t know.

Michael: … he’s got to be aware to some degree.

Eric: No, I don’t think he’s aware. Well, I think, it’s when it becomes to the point where he has that awareness, he chooses to protect Harry, which is great. But I think what this anger that Harry shows towards him, the fact that tempers are so high, serves to illustrate a little bit of post humorous for Scrimgeour because he’s gone like quite soon and it’s just like, “Well, there was a man who really tried to do everything right but was just not playing with a full deck of cards. Or the cards were all stacked in the opposite direction.” If I’m using my card playing…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: … metaphors correctly. It’s something to do with cards and something to do with it just not working out for Scrimgeour. But I feel good sympathy for him. I like how Harry’s kind of like, “Ah, yeah. Dig in all about that Stan Shunpike. He’s Stan Shunpike’s number one supporter is Harry Potter. Wouldn’t Stan be so proud?” But at the same time, it’s just like, “This is what has to be done and Scrimgeour has to ask these questions.” But there’s no gaurentee of safety. If Harry were to answer a question – or Ron, or Hermione – that gave Scrimgeour some insight, there’s no assurances that that information won’t be passed to somebody that would get Voldemort’s attention really closely and that would be a huge problem for them. Whereas I usually am critical about how few people Harry trusts, the Minister – just due to the terrible situation of how infiltrated the Ministry is, and all of the Order know it – it’s not smart to tell the Minster things, and I don’t really blame him for allowing Scrimgeour walk away empty handed.

Caleb: So after this almost fight breaks out, the Weasley’s and company burst in, hearing the loud noises from elsewhere in the Burrow and, Scrimgeour eventually leaves. Later, after…

Eric: Interrupting Weasleys, again.

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: It’s a family thing. Family tradition. So later after dinner, the trio are upstairs. As we already mentioned, they talk about their gifts, and we’ve already talked a little bit about the conversation about Ron’s because they can’t figure out much about it yet. And then we get the big reveal about the Snitch because Harry has… I actually found this hard. I tried to read it closely this time because here in this moment, he explains it like he knew all along that the reaching out and touching with his hand wouldn’t do anything. He seemed… here it makes it seem like he just knew it from the get go that this was going to be the case. But then looking back at the actual scene he look… it’s not a deceptive technique of the writing I didn’t think. I thought he legitimately thought that something would happen when he touched the Snitch. There just like wasn’t that… I don’t know. It just it wasn’t as believable for me this time. Maybe I’m reading a little too much into it.

Michael: I always read it that Harry had this realization when the Snitch touched his hand.

Caleb: Okay.

Christine: Oh that would make sense, yeah.

Michael: That was kind of like the elation, right, of the discovery. Why he was so excited to tell them.

Caleb: Yeah.

Michael: Because he was like, “We win! Hahaha.”

Caleb: In any case we… he makes it clear that it wasn’t didn’t work with his hand because that’s not how he won that Quidditch match. He almost swallowed that Snitch in that first Quidditch match, and so I could only imagine this very awkward moment as Harry brings the Snitch to his mouth. He does trigger the flesh memory of the Snitch and what appears is writing on it that Hermione first notices. And it’s in the script of Albus Dumbledore and it says, “I open at the close.” Nothing else. Just writing. And that’s all we get for now.

Michael: I guessed it.

Eric: I had the…you guessed what?

Michael: I guessed what it meant right when I read it the first time.

Christine: Really?

Michael: I was pretty…

Eric: Oh, is it that obvious?

Michael: I thought it…it wasn’t my only guess.

Caleb: Wait, you predicted it that the Resurrection Stone was in there?

Michael: No, no, no, I felt that “I open at the close.” meant Harry had to die.

Caleb: Oh, okay. Got it.

Christine: Oh.

Michael: I feel like that’s such a… maybe it’s because I… maybe I was already in tune enough with the death themes of Harry Potter that I was like, “Yeah, dead. [laughs] I didn’t figure out the rest, and that maybe wasn’t… I know that wasn’t my only prediction, but I felt that was a pretty… that’s J.K. Rowling’s that’s like her first riddle that I finally got, so. [laughs]

Eric: So maybe that… maybe you shouldn’t have gotten it. Maybe you should have been… I have problems with this simultaneously being too vague and too on the nose. It’s like once you get it it’s like of course he’s got to die. But I don’t know. It’s like to me I had the distinct pleasure of writing a parody for some neighborhood kids about Deathly Hallows and actually I think it was, yeah, it was Deathly Hallows and there’s a scene where Harry and Hermione are they discovered “I open at the close. What does that mean? And Hermione I wrote says, “It means J.K. Rowling’s not telling.” Like it’s just such a vague, “You’re not supposed to be able to get it.” Just kind of oh wait and see until later in this book kind of thing. It wasn’t in my mind it was disappointingly not clever, not, it’s Dumbledore writing when you’re about to die look at this. Like here have this clue but you can’t really open it until you very much need to. It’s like what’s the point of having it in advance? Just have him get it when he gets there. I don’t know I have trouble. But I’m very troubled and I’m tired of being troubled on this show. [laughs]

Michael: You’re going to be troubled a lot more, Eric.

Eric: Yeah, I know.

Caleb: I mean, I like it. I did not figure it out. I didn’t guess that it meant anything impending death. So it was just a really big mystery for me that really carried until the very end. So it was a really nice pay off for me because I didn’t guess it. It was just cool, I thought.

Michael: Even though I guessed it, to me it’s no less poetic because it’s something that, you know… and maybe it’s not so much for Harry’s benefit as it is the readers, but it’s in a way I think it is contemplation for Harry, because it’s part of just the mammoth realization at the end of the journey that he has to go through to you know it’s not just “I open at the close.” There’s a lot of layers to that.

Christine: I agree it needs to be vague this early on for him to make the full journey. He can’t be given too much information upfront.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: It’s just like you can… you’re given this super important thing through the will because it’s obscure but something like Horcrux books you have to…

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Eric: … summon charm. I don’t know. Maybe if he summoned the ring?

Michael: It’s all about security as far as because Dumbledore knew his office was going to be raided and his will was going to be looked through, and the Snitch, the book, and the Deluminator have security.

Michael: … the Snitch, the book, and the Deluminator, have security that the Horcrux books don’t.

Christine: True.

Eric: I will say though, in this chapter – we browsed over – when Scrimgeour is reading… part of the reason he suspects these items are not all as they seem, is because Dumbledore made very few allowances to specific people.

Michael: Hmm.

Eric: Right? Scrimgeour says that – for instance – Dumbledore’s personal library was donated to Hogwarts. Was given to the school, where it no doubt it resided to begin with, but put in his office. I thought that was really interesting, especially considering – we were talking about last week – with the Horcrux books, that his… I wonder how that would have played out if the books hadn’t been taken in time, and those books were returned to the library. It would have justified a longer, lengthier visit to Hogwarts, I think… for the group, because the rest of Dumbledore’s books probably went down to the library.

Michael: Yeah, I have to give Dumbledore props just quickly for… I think this is something that a lot of us forget, because it’s mentioned in passing and the characters don’t really ruminate on it as much as they should, but the Horcrux hunt is hard, but Dumbledore did try to make it easy. He tried to give them the sword. I don’t think he was as ignorant about the swords power, and where it belonged, and how it worked. But he tried, he tried to override it, because – I think – contracts in the magical world – I have a feeling – they work a little differently as we’ve seen in Goblet of Fire. Contracts seem to override a lot of things including your free will.

[Caleb laughs]

Eric: Oh, well there’s the Unbreakable Vow, too.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So I almost wonder if Dumbledore wasn’t trying to override the powers of the sword… and we get later the history of the sword, and why that’s such a contentious issue, but I do like that Dumbledore… he tried. He tried to make it easier for them.

Christine: I also wonder if he wanted it to be part of the public record, because often times wills after they’ve been read, they become public record, therefore anyone that was going to help Harry, would know that Dumbledore wanted him to have the sword. If you will, putting it out there for anyone to help Harry, that has access to it at the school to be able to provide it to him.

Michael: Hmm. That’s interesting. I wonder if that works that way in the Wizarding World? I assume it would. That’s interesting.

Eric: And again with the sword, I just like the idea that, as Scrimgeour suggests, “Tthe sword of Gryffindor might be the only thing that might defeat the Heir of Slytherin!” Again, it’s this very grand going back thousand years to the Founders of Hogwarts, and how they had this grudge of this apparent huge magical capability, that they were destined to not get along. It’s very historic, and very grand, and very mythological, in a way.

Michael: At least the books have more reverence for wizarding history than the movies do. Oh! Elder Wand! Snap.

[Caleb and Christine laugh]

Eric: Oh, who were the Marauders?

[Michael laughs]

Christine: They don’t matter. Just move on.

Caleb: All right, and that wraps up the chapter.

Eric: So for this week’s Podcast Question of the Week, I would actually like to hark back to my favorite question that we’ve asked so far in our chapter discussion is, when a witch comes of age…

[Michael laughs]

Eric: … historically or currently – rather – in the modern age. What is the gift that they’re given? We see that Harry receives a watch and others like him do, but what about witches? We’d really like to hear all of your thoughts on that and I’m looking forward to what your ideas are, as well as… definitely use – as you always do – examples of customs that maybe rooted in a particular time and place, like Michael was saying. Definitely give it your best shot.

Michael: Pottermore should help, despite its redesign. It still has the new information there. If you explore that, you’ll see that there’s a pretty rich history about how wizarding culture and Muggle culture ran parallel and then diverged around the fifties. So that’s definitely something worth keeping in mind – I think – when answering this question.

Eric: So have fun answering it. We look forward to reading your answers.

Caleb: And we want to thank Christine for joining us. It was great having you on. You definitely contributed a lot of great things to the conversation, so we hope you had fun.

Christine: Thanks guys! It was so much fun being on. I really had a great time.

Michael: Christine doing her job getting up here and showing people that Slytherins are awesome, right?

Christine: That’s right! We’re not all evil.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Eric: Moms too!

Christine: Yes! Moms rock you all!

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Eric: If you would like to be on the show just like Christine, head over to the “Be on the Show” page at No fancy equipment is needed. If you have a set of Apple headphones for instance, you’re all set. While you’re there, download a ringtone for free.

Michael: And in the meantime, you can stay in touch with us. There [are] many ways to do that. You can tweet us at @AlohomoraMN. You can follow us at Our Tumblr account [is] mnalohomorapodcast. We have a phone number that, as I said, nobody calls anymore, but we’d love to hear you on the phone. [laughs] 206-GO-ALBUS is the number – 206-462-5287. Usually we use that for our call-in shows when we do our movies, but you can still call into that number otherwise, too. Or send us – what’s more commonly done – an owl to audioBoom, If you go to our main site, there you will see the little audioBoom app on the sidebar and you can actually record a message to us for free – all you need is a microphone. Just please make sure [to] keep that message under 60 seconds so that we can play it on the show.

Eric: And there is the Alohomora! store, which you can figure out more on our website. We have house shirts, Desk!Pig, Mandrake Liberation Front, Minerva Is My Homegirl, and so many more. Many classics and some to come, including It’s Morfin Time, Accio Horcrux But Nope, and I think from this week, Interrupting Weasley.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Michael: That would make… yeah. Yeah, we need that.

Eric: Not just yet, but maybe in the future [in] the store.

Caleb: Also, make sure to check out our smartphone app, which is available around the world, as far as we know it. Prices may vary depending on location. It has a lot of great things like transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, host vlogs, and much more. Well, that’s going to do it for this week’s episode of Alohomora!

[Show music begins]

Caleb: I’m Caleb Graves.

Michael: I’m Michael Harle.

Eric: And I’m Eric Scull. Thank you for listening to Episode 157 of Alohomora! Open the Dumbledore! Or if you’re a Weasley, throw open the Dumbledore…

[Sound of a door opening]

Eric: … and interrupt all nice, cool things that are happening.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

[Sound of a door slamming shut]

[Show music continues]

Michael: And Christine, how are you?

Christine: I’m good. How are you doing?

Michael: [laughs] I’m good.

[Christine laughs]

Michael: You enjoying yourself so far?

Christine: I am. It’s a little surreal hearing you all’s voices and…

[Michael laughs]

Christine: … being a part of it because I’m used to you playing… well, first of all, having earbuds in because most of the time when I listen to you guys, it’s in my car on my commute, so…

Michael: Ah, uh-huh.

Christine: Yeah. And so it’s different.

[Christine and Michael laugh]

Christine: But it’s a lot of fun.

Michael: Well, you’re doing very well. I will say, you’re hopping into the conversation with gusto. I love that because we do… I think… it’s funny to me to think that just because… I’m not special, I’m just me, but… it’s funny because our listeners frequently – who do get to be on the show – come on and they’re like, “Oh my God, it’s like we’re listening to the show live,” and I’m like, “Yes, you are, but also you’re a part of it, so don’t forget to actually talk.” [laughs]

Christine: [laughs] Okay.

Michael: And usually people don’t get past that, but you’ve gotten past that excellently.

Christine: Okay. I hope I haven’t interjected too much. [laughs]

Michael: No, you’re… no.

Christine: Okay, awesome.

Michael: No, no, no. There is never too much from the… really, on our end, we never feel that the guest can ever do too much because we usually don’t get enough.

Christine: Oh, good. Yeah, I have noticed that sometimes it’s… the guest seems a little sheepish. And it makes sense because I have caught myself a couple of times just listening and I’m like, “Wow, that’s a good point… oh, oh, I’m on. Hello.” [laughs]

Michael: [laughs] “Oh, they just asked me what I thought.” Yeah, no, it’s definitely… it’s funny because when I used to just guest on the show I felt that way, too. So it’s… but it’s funny because we all think it’s just, “Oh, chat time!” and we sometimes forget that the listeners who come on the show as guests don’t feel the exact same way because they’re not as used to it yet.