[Show music begins]
Caleb Graves: This is Episode 170 of Alohomora! for December 26, 2015.
[Show music continues]
Caleb: Hey everyone, and Happy Holidays [for] whatever holiday you may be celebrating. I’m Caleb Graves.
Kat Miller: I’m Kat Miller.
Rosie Morris: And I’m Rosie Morris. And I want to say Happy Boxing Day to all of you UK listeners – the rest of the guys out there just don’t even know what that is, so yay us!
[Caleb and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: And it’s my pleasure to introduce today’s guest, who is the lovely Denise. Hi Denise, do you want to tell us a little about yourself?
Denise ÷man: Yeah, sure. My name is Denise, I live in Sweden, and I’m a Hufflepuff.
[Denise and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: I know quite a lot of Swedish Harry Potter fans, which is cool because I don’t think many people out there do.
Denise: Oh, cool.
Rosie: Apart from people who live in Sweden, of course, because they would know lots of Harry Potter fans.
Caleb: I thought you were going to say you knew a lot of Swedish Hufflepuffs…
[Denise and Rosie laugh]
Caleb: … which would have been very specific.
Denise: And I thought you were going to say, “I know a lot of Swedish.” [laughs]
Kat: Do the Swedish covers have different… are they different or are they the UK covers?
Denise: We have our own covers, and you have talked about them on your book covers shows. [laughs]
Kat: Oh! That shows how little I remember. [laughs]
Denise: [laughs] But it’s actually kind of funny – on the Swedish covers, Harry always seems to be in the air, either riding on Buckbeak or a dragon, except on the fourth cover – Goblet of Fire – where he’s squatting on the ground. Whatever that means.
Kat: Oh! I remember these now – I just Googled them.
Kat: Oh yes, okay. They’re always very realistic-looking.
Kat: Cool. Awesome. Well, thank you for joining us today.
Denise: No problem.
Rosie: And just as a reminder to you guys out there, this week we are reading Chapter 20 of Deathly Hallows, “Xenophilius Lovegood.” So make sure you have read that before listening.
Caleb: But first we’re going to hop on some of your comments from our discussion from last week when we discussed Chapter 19 of Deathly Hallows. And the first comment comes from a tweet that was sent our way, and the user is GibsonWands, who goes by Scott G. And the comment quotes something from last week’s chapter, “The Silver Doe,” and the passage is: “He had forgotten until this moment that they had arranged to meet.” And Scott asks if this passage is a callback to a passage in Prisoner of Azkaban, and that passage was,
“He had a very strange dream. He was walking through a forest, his Firebolt over his shoulder, following something silvery-white. It was winding its way through the trees ahead, and he could only catch glimpses of it between the leaves. Anxious to catch up with it, he sped up, but as he moved faster, so did his quarry. Harry broke into a run, and ahead he heard hooves gathering speed. Now he was running flat out, and ahead he could hear galloping. Then he turned a corner into a clearing andó”
And then he wakes up. So Scott asks if this phrase where Harry has this sort of uncanny recalling of this doe as if he’s seen it before is actually referring back to this phrase in Prisoner of Azkaban. Which is very insightful reading, I should say.
Kat: Yeah. I thought that that was brilliant. Honestly, I haven’t had a chance to look back at Prisoner to see what’s happening in that moment. Did anybody have a chance to look?
Caleb: Yeah, I haven’t looked either, but it seems like… is this right after… the passage before talks about a Gryffindor party, so…
Rosie: And I think that’s after a Quidditch match.
Caleb: Right, yeah. So it’s still discussing the match.
Rosie: Yeah. So in Prisoner the whole storyline, aside from Sirius and what’s going on there, is pretty much about Harry remembering his parents and trying to live up to the legacy of his father. So I think I’ve always read that passage as him dreaming about the stag…
Rosie: … and wanting to catch up to his father with the Quidditch links and things there. So it’s quite cool that if it’s not connecting to the doe…
Denise: If there’s a connection there.
Rosie: Yeah, it’s the stag instead. So he was following his father at one point, and now he’s following some resemblance of his mother through the forest.Caleb: Mhm.
Rosie: It’s quite cool.
Kat: So do we think that was a conscious effort on Jo’s part?
Denise: It’s hard to say.
Caleb: I tend to think no, just because I agree with Rosie that the original one is probably more focused on the stag. But I don’t know, I guess it’s not entirely impossible. There could still be a connection there, even if the first one was the stag and this one is the doe. So maybe.
Rosie: If it was a conscious effort though, it’s a conscious effort that only Jo is going to know about. [laughs]
Rosie: It’s not obvious enough for a link to be very clearly made, but the fact that someone’s made it is really quite cool.
Caleb: Yeah, definitely.
Rosie: Genius. [laughs]
Denise: Good job.
Caleb: All right, the next comment comes from HufflepuffSkein, and this is on Harry jumping into the pond:
“On page 383 [of the] US [edition], just before Harry gets in the pond he’s stripping off and then, ‘He placed the pouch containing his wand, his mother’s letter, the shard of Sirius’s mirror, and the old Snitch on top of his clothes, then he pointed Hermione’s wand at the ice.’ Not only is he stripping off all of his clothes, he is also stripping off all of his material attachments, those things that we keep with us because they help us feel better or get through rough times (associations with this sort of father-figures Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Sirius, and the direct connections to his parents, as well as his material connection to Voldemort that as was mentioned on the show was his last line of defense against Voldemort for so long). And this made me think of what Hermione says at the end of PS/SS, ‘There are more important things, friendship and bravery… ‘ After stripping off these things that he carries along with him, what does he have? Bravery to pursue the sword that cannot be wielded without worthiness and friendship with Ron that actually saves him. Just another Book 1 Circle Theory connection that I wanted to bring up.”
And I thought this was a really nice way of decoding some of Jo’s really great language here.
Rosie: It’s really cool, and it immediately made me think that these were kind of Harry’s Horcruxes, which is a bit weird – the things that are the most meaningful to him. So he’s got his wand, which is the symbol of him being a wizard and also has this connection to Voldemort; he’s got his mother’s letter; he’s got his godfather’s mirror; he’s got the Snitch, which is kind of a connection to James and kind of a connection of his success; and then he’s got his friendship with the bit being Hermione’s wand and… yeah, it’s interesting.
Kat: That’s a good thought. I had never thought of how those objects kind of represent what could potentially be – not that he’d ever make them, but Harry’s Horcruxes.
Rosie: Yeah. They’re also some incredibly meaningful items that he’s carrying with him.
Caleb: Yeah, I agree. I think that… to take that a step further, it really deepens the parallel to Voldemort. I mean, he obviously had his own tokens that he used to make his Horcruxes, kind of in the context where sort of looking for pieces of the Deathly Hallows, Harry’s doing the same thing. He’s gathered these tokens that, like you said, would be his Horcruxes if… even though he never would do something like this, he’s also exploring to try [to] find the Deathly Hallows and Voldemort’s Horcruxes. It’s a twisted web.
Rosie: Hmm. These are kind of… so if Voldemort’s Horcruxes are all symbols of power and symbols of Death’s, these are all symbols of family and symbols of love. So they’re like anti-Horcruxes.
Denise: And the clothes kind of single back to… I immediately think of the Weasley sweater that Molly Weasley always knits them.
Denise: So there’s another connection there.
Kat: That’s true.
Rosie: Oh, but he didn’t get one this year! [unintelligible] No! Sorry. [laughs]
Kat: I’m sure they’re sitting at the house waiting for them.
Kat: I’m sure she made them.
Rosie: I hope he’s got some of his old ones with him that he could be wearing at the moment. That would be really sweet.
[Denise and Rosie laugh]
Caleb: Okay. Well, the next comment comes from CaseyL, and this is on Snape’s motivations for putting the sword in the bottom of the pond. It says,
“On Snape leaving the sword underwater, the sword needed to be taken under conditions of ‘need and valor,’ according to Dumbledore in ‘The Prince’s Tale.’ The hosts did note that, but I just wanted to emphasize it here ñ Snape’s probably not being a complete jerk. This is probably the best and/or only way he could find to set up the appropriate conditions for Harry and Ron to retrieve it.”
So I know there were some discussions about this last week, but yeah, I always assumed it was something like this. I never really saw it as a total jerk move. I saw it basically how Casey did here.
Kat: Yeah, we definitely gave Snape the benefit of the doubt and decided that this was his most honest moment and him really just trying to help and hopefully no other motivations. So I agree… I agree with this. Good job, Casey.
Rosie: At least he didn’t put it in a stone. [laughs]
Caleb: Right. Some people did mention in the comments reckoning – I think that Jo has talked about this – how it’s kind of like a King Arthur relationship, but instead of being in a stone it’s at the bottom of the lake – or a pond.
Rosie: Yeah. So it’s more like Excalibur than the original sword, yeah.
Rosie: There’s just no such thing as a Lady of the Lake in this one.
Denise: How do you think Harry or Ron would have reacted if they just happened upon the sword on the ground instead of in the lake?
Caleb: That’s a good question.
Kat: I wonder if they would have thought it was fake or a trap.
Denise: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, too.
Caleb: Right, because that’s the setup leading up to it. Harry isn’t really sure about what’s going on… I’m trying to think back to what… is there a point that he is worried that this isn’t legit, or am I reading into what people have said in the past episode?
Kat: No, that’s right. He definitely thinks to himself that what if this is a trap? He’s exposing himself, all of that. Yeah.
Caleb: Yeah. So that would have played into it, the definite and intentional placement here. Yeah.
Denise: It would have been too easy.
Rosie: Far too easy. He would have second-guessed it or not done it at all. Maybe.
Caleb: All right, and the final comment we have comes from DisKid, and this is on the topic of Gryffindors and the Sword of Gryffindor in particular:
“When Harry is trying to figure out how to get the sword he remembers Dumbledore telling him, ‘Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled the sword out of the hat.’ This almost implies that you need to be a true Gryffindor to so much as pick up the sword. Does this sword really work that way? Do you need the heart of a true Gryffindor or it’ll be like The Sword in the Stone? If that’s the case, does this mean Snape doesn’t truly belong in Slytherin even though his personality fits right with it? Or does this not necessarily mean you need to be a true Gryffindor, you just need the bravery of one to retrieve the sword? No doubt you can have the bravery of a Gryffindor without belonging to the house, but I wonder if this was J.K. Rowling, yet again, showing the housing of Hogwarts is much more complicated than it seems.”
Kat: Wow. Good comment. There are so many things in there. As far as how the sword works, I guess I never thought of it in that Thor and the Hammer type of way. I’m not sure it exactly works like that, but maybe. What do you guys think?
Denise: I really like this comment, because I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole Sorting thing, and I personally believe that if Snape had been put in Gryffindor instead of Slytherin, he would have been a much better person and his bravery would have been able to blossom more. So this is Snape’s Gryffindor moment for me.
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah, I agree that it’s kind of a nurture thing, and if he had been in Gryffindor he would have had better influences around him. In terms of the sword, I think the “only a true Gryffindor could have pulled it out of the hat” thing is more about the magic of summoning it than actually wielding it. And the hat gave him a tool of Gryffindor because he was a great Gryffindor in that moment. And I think there’s some magic, like when Neville gets it later on it’s because he is being brave and he is kind of being the essence of Gryffindor in that moment. I don’t think it’s necessarily about who can hold it and who can use it and who can touch it. It’s more about whose call and whose need it will answer. And I don’t think it would ever appear to Snape in the same way that it would appear to Harry and to Neville.
Caleb: Yeah, I totally agree with that. That’s basically what I was thinking, that if it was there in front of Snape – which it obviously was – he would be able to pick it up; anyone would. There was some discussion – why is Griphook able to deal with the sword, even though it may be different because he’s a goblin? But I think, yeah, anyone can probably pick up the sword if it was in front of them, but it only presents itself – and maybe this is the last thing we can hammer out, and maybe I’m biased as a Gryffindor…
Caleb: … but I do think that the hat will only present itself to someone who was part of Gryffindor House, because I tend to think that Godric Gryffindor would have tied it to his house. Whether someone could be brave enough to wield it… if it’s there maybe it’s a different story. But it only shows itself a couple of times in the series, and it’s always presented to people from Gryffindor. So I tend to think that the sword itself would only present itself to someone from Gryffindor House who’s in a moment of need, who is showing a true moment of bravery.
Kat: Neville does pull it out of the hat as well, right?
Denise: Yeah, because the hat is on his head, on fire.
Kat: That’s right, that’s right.
Caleb: Yeah, yeah.
Rosie: So if it’s the magic of the hat and that is what presented the sword, could we have skipped the whole camping in the forest, hunting for Horcruxes thing and just put the hat on a really good Ravenclaw, a really good Slytherin, a really good Hufflepuff, and got the other Horcruxes that way, as they’re also something from the other houses?
Denise: It would have been a lot shorter book. [laughs]
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah. Get Luna being really clever, put the hat on her head, take it off again, and see if she’s got the crown on. Perfect!
Kat: Right. I’m not sure that Gryffindor would have lent his hat in that manner, but that’s cute.
Rosie: [laughs] But it’s the Sorting Hat by then, isn’t it? I don’t know.
Caleb: All right. Well, those are the comments we are reading for this week. There are tons of other great comments, some branching off of this discussion of the sword, others on Snape, and some general comments on what Harry sees in the doe and relating it back to Lily Potter. So head over to the main site and you can read more and continue the discussion.
Kat: So now let’s hop into our Podcast Question of the Week responses. Just a quick reminder of what that question was: “In the moments leading up to the destruction of the Horcrux, Harry says to Ron, ‘you got the sword out of the pool. I think it’s supposed to be you.’ Additionally, there’s a line of description that says, ‘Dumbledore had at least taught Harry something about certain kinds of magic, of the incalculable power of certain acts.’ Harry’s all-too-sudden decision that Ron should be the one to destroy the locket seems to hinge not on Harry offering Ron immediate redemption for leaving, but on some kind of magical insight. Where does this insight come from? Why must it be Ron to destroy this Horcrux, and what ‘incalculable power’ is bestowed upon Ron for doing so?” So, that question was posed by Eric – a good one, I think, and the listeners seemed to agree. There was quite a lot of responses; I chose a couple here of varying differences. There weren’t a whole lot of agreements this week, which was actually surprising to me. So our first one here comes from Lovelle. It says,
“I think that the ‘incalculable power’ is Ron’s love. I mean, which way was Ron hit most? It was his ability to love, is it not? Mrs. Weasley’s obvious favoritism to Harry, Hermione choosing to stay with Harry, and Ron’s jealousy to Harry are the things that the Horcrux touched Ron the most. But Ron’s love (his incalculable power) for Harry as a friend and brother won and came back to finish what he started. I think that destroying the Horcux was like a symbolism of Ron growing from a jealous boy to an unselfish man.”
Denise: That’s really nice. I like it.
Rosie: Yeah, I agree with the symbolism there. It is Ron putting away the childish jealousy and deciding to be brave and go after the love that he so obviously wanted for so long. Yeah.
Kat: I do think too that it’s nice to say that Ron’s incalculable power is love. I think that’s really sweet because Ron definitely is looking for that a lot in the series, with friendship and with his family, and with everything. And I think that that’s really nice to think about him that way.
Caleb: Thinking of this, which of the Horcruxes is it that Hermione destroys? Is it the cup?
Caleb: Because there’s not really much symbolism around that, right? She just gets the job done.
Caleb: Which maybe is [all] the symbolism that we need. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah, I think he says, “You haven’t done it yet,” or something. Maybe.
Rosie: And that’s just further Jo ignoring Hufflepuffs and all of their important qualities. But we’ll get a whole movie out of Fantastic Beasts about it, so we’ll be fine. [laughs]
Kat: Right. Exactly.
Kat: A whole three movies, really.
Rosie: Yay! [laughs]
Denise: Yay, Hufflepuffs!
[Denise and Rosie laugh]
Kat: So our next comment here comes from DisKid. It says,
“The sword seems to choose its wielder. It disappears and reappears for wizards worthy of it. This shows the sword is magical in the sense that it is picky with who gets to wield it. Harry was just thinking about how only a true Gryffindor can retrieve the sword a few minutes ago. While there is no doubt Harry is a true Gryffindor, perhaps Harry felt the sword wanted Ron to wield it as he just retrieved it while saving his best friend – true Gryffindor courage. At that moment in time, the sword chose Ron and it must be Ron to destroy [the Horcrux].”
Rosie: I agree.
Kat: I feel like that’s a Noah moment. Is the sword alive?
[Kat and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: But I think we were talking just a moment ago about the fact that the sword needed to be retrieved in a moment of – what was it? – valor and…
Kat: Need. Need and valor.
Rosie: Need and valor. So Harry just diving to go and get it in the pond is not particularly need or valor-y. [laughs] Whereas saving someone’s life is that kind of valor – he’s there to save his best friend. So in that moment, it is Ron that should wield the sword because he has proved himself worthy of it. So yeah, it’s that moment of having to fulfill some kind of a quest in order to retrieve the reward in a great kind of legend[ary], mythological way. So at this moment, yeah, the sword should belong to Ron, not Harry.
Kat: That’s a good point.
Caleb: Which really speaks even more to the sword’s power, right? Because Snape sent the sword to Harry. But the sword is like, “Hmm, not so much dude. I got to wait for the true person in need.” And waits for Ron to show up to get it out. So what would have happened had Ron not shown up?
Rosie: Which is also interesting because Harry was only in trouble because of the Horcrux, not because of the sword. So how did that work? How did the sword know that he would be in that kind of dire situation? That he would need someone else to come and save him? Or would the sword have actually been retrieved by Harry if he hadn’t been an idiot and carried on wearing the Horcrux and took everything else off? Yeah. Interesting. [unintelligible] is Gryffindor really still working with Slytherin all this time later.
[Caleb and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Our last comment here comes from Hufflepuffskein. It says,
“On pg. 383 (US), just before Harry gets in the pond he’s stripping off and then, ‘He placed the pouch containing his wand, his mother’s letter, the shard of Sirius’s mirror, and the old Snitch on top of his clothes, then he pointed Hermione’s wand at the ice.’ Not only is he stripping off all of his clothes, he is also stripping off all of his material attachments, those things that we keep with us because they help us feel better or get through rough times (associations with this sort of father-figures Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Sirius, and the direct connections to his parents, as well as his material connection to Voldemort that as was mentioned on the show was his last line of defense against Voldemort for so long). And this made me think of what Hermione says at the end of PS/SS, ‘There are more important things, friendship and bravery…’ After stripping off these things that he carries along with him, what does he have? Bravery to pursue the sword that cannot be wielded without worthiness and friendship with Ron that actually saves him. Just another Book 1 Circle Theory connection that I wanted to bring up.”
Caleb: My only thought on that is, again, when we see Hermione use it. I guess they’re kind of in a dire situation. I can’t remember if she destroys it while they’re still drowning in the Geminio charm’s effects, but maybe it’s dire enough that she has to kill it then.
Rosie: No, Hermione doesn’t- does Hermione ever use the sword? Hermione kills the cup using the Basilisk fang.
Caleb: Oh yeah, that’s right, she uses the fang. Which also, the sword, that’s kind of why the sword is able to destroy Horcruxes, right? It’s because it has the Basilisk fang in it.
Denise: Yeah, no. I don’t think Hermione ever uses the sword.
Caleb: Yeah, that’s me just forgetting.
Kat: I like that this comment implies that there’s a different level of powerfulness when it comes to the Gryffindors. Something I never really thought of before.
Rosie: I don’t think I ever saw the sword as having incalculable power. I always just saw it as a sword. So this is really interesting to think of it as having these levels of power that are additional to its just sword-ness.
Kat: Its sword-ness. Yeah, it’s true.
Denise: I think it’s interesting that magic has, there’s a subtle tone to magic, than just flashes of light and big bangs. This is, this shows that. In the same way that Harry somehow knew that suddenly he could open the locket when using Parseltongue. He now also suddenly knows, it’s his instinct to magic now that has developed so that he can somehow know that Ron has to be the one to use the sword.
Rosie: Yeah. There’s an inherent intelligence and wisdom to magic. And to the kind of powers that live outside of our understanding. In the same way that the wand chooses the wizard. The sword chooses the Gryffindor.
Rosie: There’s all these kinds of powers and these choices and all of this kind of thing that magic can decide within itself separate to the will of the wizard that wants to use it. And it think that’s why magic is so kind of intoxicating to our understanding of it. And to our imagination because it’s something that we can use and we can harness and we can play with. But it’s never going to be something we can fully understand. Which leaves so much freedom for imagination for new ideas, new planes, and new stories. And that’s where magic has lived forever, within the fictional worlds. And will live on for many years more. Yes, hopeful. Sorry, literature head on there, taking it off now.
Kat: No, that’s all right. But that does end our Podcast Question of the Week responses. As usual, there are more over at alohomora.mugglenet.com, so definitely check it out. Keep the conversation going.
Rosie: And a quick round of applause to Kat for saying “incalculable power” so many times and not stumbling over it once. Well done.
Kat: I didn’t? Oh, I felt like I stumbled. Thank you, I appreciate that.
Rosie: So we move on to our chapter discussion for this week.
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 20 intro begins]
[Sound of tapping]
Luna: Chapter 20.
[Sound of door opening]
Luna: “Xenophilius Lovegood.”
[Sound of door being slammed shut]
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 20 intro ends]
Rosie: And so we have a moment of calm after the emotional storm that Ron’s return created last week. And the boys are really excited about the possibility of outside help. Whoever sent the doe, whoever sent the sword, is obviously there to try and help them on their quest to destroy the Horcruxes. Even Hermione’s anger at Ron can’t stop Harry from feeling optimistic about the future, for a really nice change, as he and Ron catch up on everything that has happened whilst they were apart. The magic of the Taboo is revealed, and a lot of theorizing happens before the trio finally decide on a course of action and venture off into the wizarding world once more, leaving their camping stuff behind.
Denise: The camping is over. [laughs]
Rosie: Yay! Finally. I think they’ve got a little bit more to do, but not quite yet.
[Kat and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: So there is an incredible amount of theorizing in this chapter, which kind of makes it a really good one for us but also makes it kind of repetitive. [laughs] So I’m going to try and lump it all together in little bits. The first kind of theorizing that happens is coming from Ron. So he has rejoined the group; he is just trying to work out what has happened whilst he was away and what is kind of happening now that has led them to be back together. And he starts off theorizing straightaway about the origin of the Patronus. He’s got some wild theories where he thinks, is it Kingsley? He’s on the run at the moment. No, his is a big cat; I can’t remember what it was. I think it’s a lynx.
Caleb and Denise: A lynx.
Caleb and Rosie: Yeah.
Rosie: Could it have been Dumbledore? Is Dumbledore still alive because he had the real sword last, didn’t he? Of course, we know it’s not Dumbledore, but it’s interesting that yet again Ron asks the exact right question. He had the real sword last, didn’t he? But he has the wrong answer. As we know, it was actually Snape that had the real sword last, and if you followed that train of thought through, it might have led him to the real origin of the doe. But none of them would ever believe it was Snape. Just thought that was an interesting thing with the kind of Ron and the prophecy kind of thing that he seems to have kind of going on. But he actually has that right question once again.
Kat: And I do love the moment where Jo, as Harry, puts in the book, “No, Dumbledore is dead. I saw him; he’s gone. He’s dead.”
Kat: Because she was probably reading all of those theories after Half-Blood came out about Dumbledore is alive.
Rosie: There were so many theories.
Kat: All of that stuff. So she had to… I feel like she probably put that in there… obviously it naturally fits, but I think at least partially may be in response to all of that. So…
Rosie: Yeah. And the same with the eye in the mirror.
Rosie: She was constantly playing with the idea that Dumbledore might still be alive.
Kat: Exactly. Exactly.
Rosie: And speaking of Dumbledore, that is the other main kind of theorizing that is going on. They are trying to work out what Dumbledore was doing, why he sent them these kind of very odd, very, very cryptic messages, and whether he knew more than he was letting on, as per usual. Then there is a really lovely moment… we don’t often talk about the kind of… horrible term, but bromance between Ron and Harry, which is interesting, seeing as they are so close, and we should probably talk about it more. But there is just this lovely quip where Ron kind of goes, “He knew what he was doing when he gave me the Deluminator, didn’t he? He must have known I’d run out on you.” And Harry turns around and says, “No, he must have known you’d always want to come back.”
Rosie: And that’s just such a little heartwarming moment that’s like, “Ah! You two.”
Caleb: Yeah. Harry is so quick to make Ron feel welcome and that he didn’t do anything wrong.
Caleb: It’s kind of… when I rereading it again, it almost takes me aback that he is so quick, and maybe it is just because he knows Hermione is being so hard, and he doesn’t want to run the risk of losing Ron again, and he knows he was partly to blame for it the last time, so…
Rosie: But just considering how kind of explosive their fight was that led to them falling out and for Ron going away to be so forgiven so suddenly and so quickly and so completely is just amazing. [laughs]
Rosie: And I don’t think Ron would have been expecting it either. He is constantly trying to get back in Hermione’s good books in this chapter, and I think he must be so relieved to not have to do that with Harry as well, but he would have been totally expecting that he would need to do it for both of them.
Kat: I think, too, that Harry in this moment is just feeling incredibly happy.
Kat: He doesn’t care about what happened in the past; they just destroyed a Horcrux, Ron is back. I mean, it even says in here that he is having a hard time keeping a straight face he is so happy.
Kat: So I think that Harry’s mood has a lot to do with how nice and forgiving he is to Ron in that moment as well.
Denise: Yeah, I agree.
Rosie: And thinking about that, it’s really interesting that he is so kind of euphoric in this moment. I mean, obviously they have just achieved one of the main aims, but there is still a long way to go before they are anyway near actually defeating Voldemort. Is it just the joy of having his friends back together and the small success that is making him so happy?
Kat: Yeah, small victories, I think. In a case like this, you would have to celebrate anything.
Rosie: One thing that he can’t celebrate, unfortunately, is the loss of his wand, and he is struggling with the blackthorn wand that he has received from Ron, who managed to take it from a Snatcher while he was away. And it just seems like it’s a bit of a trickster wand. Hermione’s guilt at breaking Harry’s wand is making her kind of follow her heart and not her head for a change; she’s kind of saying, “It will work.” She’s almost willing it as much as possible even though she knows that the wand chooses the wizard and that there is no definitive answer to Harry being able to make it work for him. So she’s kind of going against everything she knows about wand lore at this moment just to say, “It’ll be fine; just keep using it. Just needs practice.”
Kat: And I assume that it doesn’t work as well because he didn’t win it, right?
Rosie: Yeah. Yes.
Rosie: So the…
Denise: Do they know about the… do they know that they have to win over the wand for it to work properly?
Rosie: Not yet. Not until they talk to Ollivander in a few chapters’ time.
Denise: Yeah, that’s right.
Rosie: But looking at Pottermore as we always do when we come across a wand wood, there’s a little bit of the paragraph towards the end that says, “The wands made from this wood appear to need to pass through danger or hardship with their owners to become truly bonded. Given this condition, the blackthorn wand will become as loyal and faithful a servant as one could wish.” So blackthorns are incredibly loyal – they’re like the Hufflepuff of wands.
Rosie: So to be trying to be used by another, it just kind of throws tantrums all over the place. So Harry’s trying to practice on a spider, “And yeah, fine, I would definitely make that really scary spider as big as you want it, but you want to make it smaller? No, it’s going to be scary.”
Rosie: “You can’t use me. You are making me…” yeah, it’s a trick… a trickster and it’s just… yeah, a little bit of a toddler wand maybe.
Kat: [laughs] Yeah. Yeah, do we ever find out where that came from? I don’t think so, right?
Rosie: Just one of the Snatchers that tried to take Ron, I think. He had some spares that he handed out.
Kat: Yeah, I guess I meant specific characters…
Rosie: Yeah, no.
Kat: … but no, I don’t think we ever find out.
Denise: Is it a movieism that it’s Malfoy’s?
Rosie: He takes Malfoy’s wand…
Kat: Malfoy’s wand comes from Malfoy’s Manor.
Denise: Right, right. But I’m saying, in the movie, Ollivander holds up the wand, “This is a blackthorn wand. This was Malfoy’s.” Maybe they made that connection in the movie and I’m just thinking of it that way.
Kat: Does he say blackthorn?
Denise: I’m not sure. That’s why I’m asking.
Kat: I know in the book, for sure, that it’s not because Harry gets Draco’s wand when he fights it from him at Malfoy Manor.
Kat: So at this moment, at least, it’s not Draco’s. I don’t know about the movie. I don’t recall.. I recall that moment but I don’t remember what he says specifically.
Rosie: Yeah, I don’t think Draco’s is a… no, Draco’s is Hawthorne. So it’s a different kind a thorn wood.
Denise: Oh, that’s right.
Kat: Yeah, there you go.
Rosie: So they’re camping out. They spend some time getting back to knowing each other again. To, kind of, catching up with everything that’s gone on. And Hermione seems to be sulking with her books for most of the time until she finally storms up to Harry and says, “You need to look at this; we need to talk about this. We need to go and see Xenophilius Lovegood.” And her reasoning for this is that the mark in Beedle the Bard that Dumbledore gave to her has been now seen pretty much everywhere that they’ve think is important to them. So they’ve gone to Godric’s Hollow and they’ve seen it on the gravestone. They’ve seen in Beedle the Bard and they’ve seen it now in the letter that Albus Dumbledore wrote to Grindelwald that has been published inside The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. Hermione is kind of playing connect the dots and decides that they need to ask someone who actually knows about what this sign means and the only person alive that they know of that has been wearing the mark and can tell them something about it, is the father of their friend, Luna, Xenophilius Lovegood. And throughout this whole thing, they’re still trying to guess at Dumbledore’s motives. They’re still trying to guess at why he’s sending them on this journey because they have no idea what this mark means. Ron is just going to agree with everything Hermione says. He’s totally trying to get into her good books and they all know it but they all just play along anyway. And he says, “You know, the Lovegoods are on Harry’s side. The Quibbler has been posting lots of things about supporting Harry.” And then Ron eventually says, “Cheer up, it’s the Christmas holidays. Luna will be home.” And, just reading back, this is so heart wrenching.
Rosie: It’s not true.
Caleb: It is.
Rosie: It’s that kind of awful, fake foreshadowing. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah. Mhm. There’s definitely a lot of foreshadowing in this…
Kat: … in that section.
Rosie: Yes. What do we think about Hermione’s overriding desire to know what this mark means? Is it that she really does believe that Dumbledore is sending her on this journey and there must be some kind of reason for it? Or is it just her trying to solve a puzzle that she can’t work out herself? What’s going on here? Is it just the only lead they have?
Kat: I think it’s a bit of all three. Honestly, I think that Hermione is desperate for some sort of sign or direction or any bits of good news to keep the momentum going. And I do think she truly trusts Dumbledore in this moment and so I think it’s a bit of all three.
Denise: Yeah, me too. I think they want so bad to really hear something from Dumbledore after he’s gone and he left Hermione this book and the book has the clues. So I think she… I think she wants to work out the puzzle and she wants it to be from Dumbledore.
Caleb: Also, the fact they had no direction and no real clues to go on was really one of the bigger contingent points when… before Ron left when they were fighting. Ron like screaming at Harry, “You have like no idea what we’re doing.” And here Hermione is really working hard trying to get anything she can in front of them to give them some direction.
Rosie: That’s interesting… so I was about to say that I found it quite interesting that Hermione was sulking so much about Ron’s return and that she doesn’t give any kind of sign of happiness that he’s back.
Rosie: So if it is that she is trying to create some reason for him to stay; like she’s solving the argument that they’ve already had all the way… all that time back before he left. She’s definitely making sure that he can’t have that argument again and can’t leave again. That adds quite a nice spin to it as to why she’s doing it.
Kat: Mhm. “Yeah, look we made progress. Don’t go anywhere, don’t leave me again.”
Rosie: Yeah. [laughs]
Caleb: “Or the birds are coming back and flying at your face.”
Rosie: I do also find it interesting that she doesn’t care about the doe in any way. There’s no sign of her being interested in who cast that, which is quite a mystery.
Denise: Yeah, I never thought about that.
Caleb: Yeah. Yeah, she’s pretty over it by now.
Rosie: Yeah. [laughs]
Rosie: Does Hermione know that it was Snape? Maybe. Interesting.
Denise: I think she would have said so if it was Snape…
Denise: … if she knew that it was Snape.
Caleb: Yeah, she’s just…
Rosie: Just an interesting thought.
Caleb:… marching onward and leaving him in the past, I guess.
Rosie: Yeah. I guess this is the path that she believes Dumbledore has left for her so this is the one that she wants to follow.
Rosie: And follow it they do. They head off to the Lovegoods’ house, which Ron knows is somewhere near his own Burrow. He says that his parents always used to point toward the hills as to where the Lovegoods would live, so they head off in that direction and first of all come across quite an empty-looking cottage, which I would love to live in if it’s halfway between the Lovegoods and the Burrow.
[Caleb and Kat laugh]
Rosie: But as they head on to the next hill they discover a very strange-looking house, which I thought was quite an interesting description coming from Ron, although it probably doesn’t actually come from Ron; it’s just connected to… the Burrow is always described as looking strange as well. But this time it looks like a rook, as in the chess piece rook, commonly known as a castle. And I thought that was quite an interesting thing for a house. It’s not really a house; it’s more of a fortress or a tower.
Caleb and Kat: Mhm.
Rosie: And I did a quick Wiki search on it, and it also said that the chess piece was designed perhaps to look like a siege tower or some kind of a fortressed tower that is meant to be symbolic of warfare and sieges. So considering what is about to happen in that house, and the fact that there’s about to be an attack and there is about to be this idea of them being trapped inside and the bad guys on the outside, there’s an interesting foreshadowing there; that this tower is about to become the scene of a battle.
Kat: Hmm, that’s true.
Caleb: I’d not thought of that. That’s a good… yeah, because I always… for some reason, that description – the idea of it being a rook – never really matched the Lovegoods for me. I don’t know. It’s not quirky enough. I just imagined something a little more outlandish. But yeah, it’s a good foreshadowing.
Denise: Yeah. When I first read the book I thought it was a clue to Ron’s chess abilities, and that that would come up in the final battle. But I don’t think it ever did.
Kat: Well, and, too, the castle and all those supporting pieces are the protectors of the queen, right? So maybe Harry in this case is the queen? I don’t know.
Rosie: Aside from the idea of the siege tower aspect of it, though, when I first read it before I did all this research, I thought of it as more like a fairytale castle; more like Rapunzel’s tower with Luna being the princess stuck at the top, so that sort of whimsy aspect of the fairytale seemed to work to me. But I do like this new theory of the fortresses. I don’t know.
Rosie: On entering the house, after a quick moment where Xenophilius seems to not want Harry to come in – there is a moment of definite hesitation and of looking around and of trying to deflect him and trying to make him go away – we discover that the whole place is decorated by Luna. It’s very bright and colorful. Everything is very round to fit in with the round tower, which strikes me as again a perfect thing for them. There’s nothing conventional; there’s no square kitchen in the corner. It’s all a nice round room. They then go upstairs, and Harry says that it’s cluttered and like the Room of Requirement. He has a flashback to the room of lost things, which is such an interesting link between, of course, the diadem. And we also get the description of the stone bust of Ravenclaw with a bizarre-looking headdress that they’ve made.
Rosie: Which is of course very similar to what Harry has done himself in that room of lost things. So we’ve got a direct link here. We couldn’t get any clearer with the hints Jo is laying for us in this chapter as to where that diadem is hidden.
[Caleb and Denise laugh]
Kat: That’s true.
Rosie: Did anyone put it together? I don’t think so.
Kat: Nope. Obviously I thought of the diadem when they were talking about the headdress, but I’d never put the connection together with the Room of Requirement before.
Rosie: And it’s so blatantly there. He talks about that exact room a paragraph before he talks about the diadem.
Kat: Mhm. Yup, it’s there. And besides that, there’s also lots of little hints in here that Xeno is going to turn against Harry; not necessarily because he wants to, but he covers up the machine and he’s mumbling to himself, “Well, I’m afraid I don’t think we should do it…” he’s like, “Come in, quickly, quickly.” And there’s all these just little moments and it’s painfully clear that Xeno is being forced to do something he definitely doesn’t want to.
Rosie: Yeah. This time reading through, I picked up on quite a few similarities between Xenophilius and Hagrid; this kind of unfaltering march into danger, [and] the kind of not seeing [that] the magical items they possess are very dangerous, like the Erumpent horn, and this kind of blundering devotion almost to magical artifacts or magical creatures. Obviously they’re very different people, but I just thought it was quite interesting that there are these similarities between these two male figures that don’t quite fit in in the wizarding world and their obsessions. Just me. [laughs]
Denise: No, that’s interesting. I’ve never made that connection before.
Denise: Because Hagrid is so fond of dangerous magical creatures and so is Xenophilius in a way.
Kat: I wonder if they’ve ever met. I wonder what that would look like.
Denise: Not that we’ve seen, right?
Rosie: We don’t really know how old Xenophilius is.
Caleb: I was just thinking the same thing, yeah. Seemingly… I mean, he seems aged, but Luna is pretty young, so…
Rosie: So if we’re going by the age of Luna and the fact that she is Ginny’s age, you could be ranging between the age of the Weasleys… the Malfoys are perhaps a little bit older than they were. He’s definitely not going to be as old as the Riddles and Hagrid, so there’s a possibility of Hagrid… I mean, Hagrid would have been at the school as groundskeeper when Xenophilius would have been there, so they probably would have met.
Kat: That’s true.
Denise: I wonder if Xenophilius ever took Care of Magical Creatures.
Rosie: He probably would’ve done, but he would’ve probably gotten quite annoyed at Care of Magical Creatures because they wouldn’t have believed [in] half of the ones that he did.
Kat: [laughs] That’s true. Did Luna take that class? I don’t think we ever see her in it, do we?
Caleb: I don’t think so.
Rosie: Well, she would’ve been in Ginny’s year so we wouldn’t have seen her with Harry.
Rosie: But I would imagine that Luna and Hagrid got on quite well as well. [laughs]
Kat: I bet they did.
Rosie: So the main thing that made me think of this is Xenophilius’s complete focus on the Erumpent horn, which he is saying is the horn of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. And the Erumpent horn is something that Hermione recognizes because of its description in Fantastic Beasts, and I thought that was just an interesting connection there between this new movie series that we’re about to have, and will we see the Erumpent perhaps in that movie? But also, the fact that we’re in Luna Lovegood’s house at the moment and we’ve got this mention of Fantastic Beasts, and as we know, Luna goes on to marry Newt Scamander’s…
Caleb: Rolf Scamander.
Rosie: Yeah, Newt Scamander’s grandson, Rolf. So there’s an interesting hunting for magical creatures genealogy within this house.
Kat: Yeah, it was definitely meant to be.
Rosie: Yeah. Sorry to all of those that were Luna/Neville shippers out there.
Caleb: I was just about to say the same. [laughs]
Rosie: Hermione’s insistence, however, that it is an Erumpent horn and not the horn of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack antagonizes Xenophilius and he gets quite worked up, which then leads them to ask where Luna is. And this is the turning point within Xenophilius. You can see a moment where he shuts down and gives up his hedging, and it makes me wonder: Would he actually have called the Death Eaters if Harry, Ron, and Hermione hadn’t antagonized him and then reminded him that Luna was missing because of them? What do you guys think?
Kat: Hmm. I’d like to think no, but I think yes, unfortunately. I think that Xeno is going to do anything he can possibly do to get Luna back, even if that means giving up Harry Potter. It’s clear by the rest of the chapter that he’s been already stressing about it and dealing with it and internalizing; going back and forth with himself, should he give them up, should he not? Because he doesn’t even want to let them in the house, which I think is him trying to be like, “If you don’t come in, I don’t have to give you up. Go away.” But he selfishly wants Luna back because she’s all he really has.
Caleb: Yeah, I agree. I think there’s little that would’ve turned him away from doing anything to get Luna back.
Denise: Him working for getting Luna back is going against the greater good of defeating Voldemort.
Kat: That’s true. But people definitely act selfishly when it comes to love and family. We see that; I mean, Snape. Let’s be real.
Rosie: Yeah. What do you think is the reason why Xenophilius didn’t tell the trio that Luna had been taken straight away? Was it always that he was just going to plan on tricking them, and this plan has already been set in place just in case they ever turned up on his doorstep? Or did he concoct this plan while they were sat there?
Caleb: I always assumed that for the deal to go through, for him to actually get Luna back, the other side would be the Death Eaters actually getting them and getting them out of there and successfully taking them captive or whatever, so telling them obviously would’ve deterred that.
Kat: I think that that also depends on the fact that the Death Eaters knew that Harry would at some point go to see Xenophilius, and I’m not sure that they specifically did because they only take Luna because of what he is printing in The Quibbler. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Harry is going to go to him for any reason, and I’m not sure sure that the Death Eaters getting Harry was ever a part of the deal. I think they just wanted Xenophilius to stop printing the “truth.”
Caleb: Yeah, sorry, I should have reframed… what I meant is in Xenophilius’s mind, that would’ve been the good enough deal.
Kat and Rosie: Yeah.
Caleb: That was the ultimate, not that the Death Eaters made him think that, so my bad on not explaining that clearly.
Rosie: Which makes the betrayal worse because it is then Xenophilius’s idea rather than something that the Death Eaters have ordered.
Caleb: Right, yeah.
Rosie: And it still makes you wonder why… well, I guess Xenophilius doesn’t actually trust in Harry as much as he claims to have done through his paper because if he did, then perhaps he would have asked Harry to save Luna rather than offering him up on a platter instead.
Kat: But does he have a reason not to trust Harry? I’m not sure that he does.
Rosie: I guess he just thinks of him as a kid and not powerful enough to save his daughter against the Death Eaters when Xenophilius obviously couldn’t have done anything about it.
Kat: Which is a little shortsighted considering all the stuff he believes in, and the powers of Nargles and all of that.
Rosie: And the fact that his daughter has got their faces painted on the ceiling of her bedroom. [laughs]
Caleb: Yeah, I just think he’s really acting rashly and obviously irrational[ly] from an outsider’s perspective just because he’s so frantic at the thought of his daughter being taken.
Caleb: There’s not a lot of clear thinking going on.
Kat: I wonder how he and Luna were when they reunited and when Luna found out what he did to her friends. I wonder about that moment.
Denise: Do you think he ever told her?
Rosie: Yeah. I think I see Luna as a very forgiving person. She never holds a grudge against Ron despite all the horrible things that he says about her, at the beginning at least, and just is happy to have anyone be friendly and be loving toward her. So I think she would forgive her father because of the fact that he did it for love for her.
Denise: Yeah. And it all worked out in the end.
Kat: Aw, that’s sweet, but probably true.
[Kat and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: So yeah, Xenophilius wins points for being a good father but loses them for being a bad friend. But he does offer them some answers to the main thing that they are wanting to discover. So they eventually manage to sit down to a nice pot of Gurdyroot tea and we get the moment where they ask, “What does this symbol mean?” And he says, “Are you referring to the sign of the Deathly Hallows?” And then the chapter ends and you just have to pause and think, “They did the thing! The title of the book thing! Finally, some answers! No, wait, that’s going to be in the next chapter.”
Rosie: We know that we’re getting into the meat of the book, at least. And that is the end of the chapter.
Kat: It’s a short one.
Rosie: It is. But I think it’s so much theorizing and so much… it’s a bit of a transitory chapter, again. We’re going from the high drama of the quest of the last chapter and into the discovery and the information of the next chapter that we just needed this little bridge of calm in between.
Kat: Yeah. This is definitely the beginning of the climax here, where things are going to start happening very quickly. Very, very quickly. So now it’s time for our Podcast Question of the Week. And there’s just this one little line that we’re going to pull from here, and we hope that you like this fantastic question.
Kat: It is: “Xenophilius mentions that he received the Erumpent horn from a ‘delightful young wizard who knew of my interest in the exquisite Snorkack,’ and that he intended it as an early Christmas surprise for Luna. This reminded us of the moment when Hagrid ‘wins’ Norbert – or Norberta – in a drunk game from a then-disguised Quirrell. Given the similarities in these situations and in the characters, who do we think the ‘delightful young wizard’ that Xenophilius met was? Is it a Death Eater trap or purely a coincidence?” So you know what to do. Come up with your answers, head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com, write them down or send us an audioBoom, and you just might hear them on the next episode.
Caleb: And we want to thank Denise for joining us this holiday week all the way from Sweden. We hope you had a good time on the show.
Denise: Absolutely. It was an absolute delight.
Kat: Yay. And I’m so glad the Snorkack is from your home country.
Denise: I’ll keep an eye out for it.
[Caleb, Denise, and Rosie laugh]
Kat: Yeah, be sure to let us know if you find one.
Denise: Yes, absolutely.
Rosie: And if you guys would like to be on the show just like Denise was, you can click on our “Be On The Show” page over at alohomora.mugglenet.com. If you have a set of Apple headphones then you’re all set. There’s no other fancy equipment needed, just a microphone and the Internet.
Kat: And in the meantime if you want to keep in touch with us, you can find us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, facebook.com/openthedumbledore, on Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast.tumblr.com, our Instagram is @alohomoramn, [and] our website, as you know, is alohomora.mugglenet.com. Don’t forget to download a ringtone for free while you’re there. And also, you can always send us an owl at audioBoom. Head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com. It’s free; all you need is an Internet connection and a microphone. Click the little green button in the righthand menu, keep your message under 60 seconds, and you could hear yourself on the show.
Caleb: Also make sure to check out our store, a perfect thing to do during the holiday season. There are tons of great products on there for humans and pets alike with all of our favorite slogans and so much more, so check it out.
Kat: And of course, our smartphone app. It is now free. Just search for the Podcast Source in your phone’s app store and you’ll be able to find us. There are all sorts of great things on there like transcripts, bloopers, alternate endings, and the like. So definitely go download that.
Rosie: And starting in January, Alohomora! will be a patron of Patreon. Listeners will be able to give a monthly pledge, as little as a dollar, to help fund the show and keep the discussion going. There are going to be more details on that in the coming weeks; definitely keep an eye out on Twitter and on Facebook for our announcement when that goes up. We’re quite excited about it. We hope you are, too. And thank you for any support you can give on that. We really do appreciate it.
Kat: Yes. And speaking of supporting things, we just wanted to give a quick shoutout to a new MuggleNet podcast that just launched this week. It’s called SpeakBeasty, and it focuses on Fantastic Beasts and Newt Scamander and that entire world. The first episode is getting rave reviews already. You guys should definitely head over and check it out. You can find out details… follow them on Twitter at @SpeakBeasty, or head over to MuggleNet and look under the “Specialty Sites” tab, and you’ll see they’ve got a little page there. So definitely check it out. It’s very funny and definitely worthwhile, especially if you’re looking forward to Fantastic Beasts because there’s no other show out there for it.
Caleb: All right, well, that’s going to do it for this week’s episode of Alohomora! and our last episode to release in 2015. So we hope you enjoy the new year.
[Show music begins]
Caleb: I’m Caleb Graves.
Rosie: I’m Rosie Morris.
Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 170 of Alohomora!
Rosie: Open the Dumbledore!
[Show music continues]
Kat: I can’t imagine that an infusion of Gurdyroot is good.
Rosie: [laughs] No.
Kat: It just… I mean, I can’t… any drink made with a root…
Rosie: That was another one of my Xenophilius and Hagrid things. It’s like the rock cakes all over again.
Caleb: Oh my gosh. Yes, that is on the same level.
Kat: That’s kind of one of my favorite scenes in that little Xenophilius thing in the movie…
Kat: … where they’re all just like sipping a disgusting drink.
Rosie: Disgusting tea. [laughs]