[Show music begins]
Michael Harle: This is Episode 182 of Alohomora! for March 19, 2016.
[Show music continues]
Michael: Welcome back, listeners, to another episode of Alohomora!, MuggleNet.com’s global reread of the Harry Potter series. I’m Michael Harle.
Caleb Graves: I’m Caleb Graves.
Rosie Morris: And it’s a death chat for today, which means I’m Rosie Morris. Yay!
Rosie: Always on for the death.
Michael: She has to be here for that. [laughs]
Rosie: And it is my pleasure to introduce our fan guest for the day. Robyn, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Robyn Jeffrey: Sure, yeah. My name is Robyn Jeffrey, I’m a 21-year-old film student from Alberta, Canada, I’m one of the hosts for the TV Crush: The 100 podcast, which you can find on iTunes, and I’m a Slytherin.
Michael: Ooh! This is a fantastic chapter to have a Slytherin on, too.
Robyn: Yeah, for sure.
Michael: We never have Slytherins on. Oh, that’s fan[tastic]… We’re getting all the Slytherins here at the end to defend their House’s honor.
Robyn: I’m excited.
Rosie: Definitely important today.
Rosie: And obviously, as we’ve hinted, this week we are reading Deathly Hallows Chapter 31, which is, of course, “The Battle of Hogwarts.”
Michael: Oh my God.
Rosie: So please make sure you have read that chapter before listening on. Otherwise, there’s too much; you’re going to miss out on something. You need to know what’s going on in this chapter.
Michael: [laughs] But before we get to “The Battle of Hogwarts,” we’ve got to prep with some recap comments from last week’s chapter: Chapter 30, “The Sacking of Severus Snape.” There were a ton of comments this week and I did manage to read them all, but they were just so long and lovely that I couldn’t, of course, include all of them, so I did a little picking and choosing. And there was a lot of debate about Harry’s use of an Unforgivable Curse because last week we all unanimously were pretty much [like], “Hoo rah rah, yay for Harry using an Unforgivable.”
Michael: But a lot of people had problems with that, and I really enjoyed this comment from ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldemort, who said,
”I think this moral dilemma we have with Harry using Unforgivables ought to be considered keeping in mind the perspective Harry has gained from others. Lupin basically tells Harry that he is being naive if he thinks he can get through this war without doing anything that might not agree entirely with his principles. He is facing an enemy who plans to kill him and has no qualms with how they go about doing it, and these aren’t people who adhere to laws. Harry’s moral high groundedness could become his weakness, something they will use against him. Lupin makes it clear that playing nice isn’t going to get him through this. Sirius, I think, would agree with Lupin’s point but he actually speaks to the opposite end of the matter in GoF. He tells Harry how Crouch Sr, despite his good intentions was just as bad as the DE’s, authorizing Aurors to kill and use UCs. He says “those times bring out the best in some people and the worst in others.” He is really explaining to Harry that good intentions don’t entirely justify these actions, one can take it too far. When you grant those who are charged with upholding the law the power to break it with impunity, it is a very slippery slope and the innocent end up suffering. That isn’t justice. So there is a lot of moral grey area here, especially since we’ve seen UCs used in non-violent ways with Harry and Mcgonagall’s use of Imperio. Even Snape AKing Dumbledore. It was what D wanted, and allowed him a quick and painless death, versus suffering out the effects of the ring’s curse. I don’t think many of us have moral objections to that. Harry using Crucio is less easy though, and I do cringe at the thought a bit. However, I think what Lupin said to Harry is partly what Harry is acting on here. I think Harry does feel it is necessary to take a stand here. This is a guy who has been terrorizing and hurting his friends all year. He is fine with sacrificing CHILDREN to save his own skin. By using Crucio Harry is really making a show of his strength in magic, and in will. He is demonstrating “When I am around, you WILL NOT hurt people. I will do whatever I have to to stop you. You will not use my merciful nature against me, I can be pushed too far.” I think that is something he needs to not only prove to DEs but also see for himself. He is testing those limits of what he is and isn’t ok with and I think that is useful knowledge to gain in terms of his own personal growth amidst a war. Sure there are a myriad of other spells he could have used to much the same effect, but they wouldn’t have carried the same weight of action.”
Michael: So there’s a lot to unpack there, but first I probably want to start with… since the three of you were not on last week. So what are your thoughts on Harry using the Unforgivables, specifically Crucio, on the Carrows?
Caleb: So this comment is interesting because I think it’s really well-thought-out, but I think this person sees a lot more in this moment than I do. I see a very basic, Gryffindor-esque, rash reaction to Harry seeing someone he cares about a lot being… because he does it right after Carrow spits in McGonagall’s face, right?
Michael and Rosie: Yes.
Caleb: So I see it as exactly how I would react in this moment…
Caleb: … someone who I obviously respect a lot as a character, but if I [were] in Harry’s position, who I respect as a person… if I think about people who are similarly positioned in my life, I would just… it would be a passionate reaction and just like, “I’m going to go after you for this,” especially in the heat of the moment. So I am… I mean, this may not be the best response, but I think it’s totally justified, especially in the heat of the moment and… yeah. I recognize that there’s a problem with thinking that, but because of how despicable the Carrows are, and just this awful… there’s just something really grotesque and terrible about spitting in someone’s face. So I don’t have a problem with it.
Michael: Well, and I think last week a lot of people were… a lot of comments that I saw were talking about… the part that unnerved people the most was that Harry quotes Bellatrix after doing it.
Michael: And people were wondering if that doesn’t speak to where the power for his Unforgivable Curse came from.
Caleb: Right. Yeah, and I think that’s maybe at tension with this person’s comment, but maybe not. I guess it sort of sits with my thinking that it’s really just Harry being very reactionary and passionate in a very angry way in this moment.
Rosie: I think the Bellatrix quote is… Bellatrix is the one who teaches him how to use these spells. To an extent, it was Barty Crouch, Jr. that tried to teach him, with being Moody and teaching those spells and seeing how far he could withstand them himself. It’s a case of, “If you’re going to deal it out, you need to know how to take it.” But when Bella teaches him that you have to mean these spells, it really shows how passionate Harry is in this moment that… although it’s not easy, he does feel so passionate and so hurt and angry in this moment that he can cast Crucio on these people. And it really shows how much McGonagall means to him, that he will stand up [for] her to that extent.
Robyn: It’s really hard to differentiate between bad morals and good morals because there are so many variables…
Robyn: … so it’s hard to have an opinion because there’s always so much going on.
Rosie: The quote that we have about Sirius saying Crouch, Sr. took it too far by authorizing Aurors to use them…
Rosie: … I think he was taking it too far because he authorized Aurors to use Unforgivable Curses after the war.
Rosie: So once the first war had ended and they were just trying to round up Death Eaters, authorizing them to use the Curses then is a crime. It’s using Unforgivables in an unforgivable situation, where they could’ve been brought to justice in a more humane way. But I think, even in our world, we generally understand that there have got to be some differences in morality when fighting in a war. There are things that we do in wartime that we would never consider to be reasonable in everyday life. And I think the use of Unforgivable Curses in a heroic way is only acceptable in a case of war. And sometimes soldiers and people have to get their morals slightly dirtied when faced with an impossible situation, and this is the beginning of the second war. This is a proper fight against the evilest creatures out there that will never be able to be brought to justice in a proper way. Whether Crucio is the way to do that or whether Imperiusing someone into incarcerating themselves in some way would be better, I don’t know. But this is a very highly charged situation where Unforgivables are perhaps slightly more forgivable than they would be at any other time.
Michael: Mhm. Yeah, and we talked about that last week. I think the thing to keep in mind, too, with this specific example of Harry, is that… people were talking about this: Some people were saying in the comments that this feels uncharacteristic of Harry and that it’s taking him out of his normal characterization just to have him do this thing that’s very morally grey. And I wouldn’t say so, actually, myself. Caleb spoke to it, and I think Caleb probably speaks to it best because he’s a Gryffindor, perhaps.
Michael: But I think you were saying it in the way Harry thinks of it as, that it’s that impulsive need to defend those that you care about. But there’s also an element, too… it’s not like this comes out of nowhere, that Harry has never… Harry has encountered the Carrows before. The last time he actually saw them, they were present when Dumbledore was killed. And they’ve already attacked people that he loves. And then to get back to the school and hear that they’ve been doing that all year from Neville, and see the damage that’s happened to his friends… to me, it feels like when he does that, it’s not just to defend McGonagall. It’s almost a culmination of all this frustration that’s been building up in him. This isn’t an act that necessarily is just in defense of McGonagall; it’s a defense of, perhaps, Hogwarts itself that Harry has been wanting to do for a while.
Caleb: Hmm. Yeah.
Michael: Because we know, too, that Harry doesn’t like to be away from battle [and] not doing anything.
Rosie: Yeah. And he’s had an inkling of what’s been happening at Hogwarts since the Carrows were announced as teachers. And to not be able to return, to not be able to do anything about it… this has probably been stewing for a whole year. This is just his first moment to act on it.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Robyn: I don’t cheer when he goes ahead and just does something that he knows is illegal and he knows is bad, but I don’t blame him at all, and yeah, I’m not angry about it.
Michael: Well, yeah, as people pointed out, there are other spells that could have stunned the Carrows. He didn’t need to use, necessarily, Crucio because what he does effectively has a similar reaction as an overdone Expelliarmus where he hits him against the wall and knocks him out. But I think we’ve pretty much come up with the reason for why it occurs and why perhaps it might be justifiable in this instance.
Rosie: There is perhaps a difference in how he uses it, as well. Crucio is meant to be the Torture Curse, but it’s not like he stands there and keeps the curse on him for a long time. It’s quite a quick blast that just incapacitates him.
Michael: Yeah. Mhm.
Rosie: If you’ve ever watched Jessica Jones…
Caleb: Yes. Yeah.
Rosie: … it’s [like] the electric shock water scene. It’s a quick incapacitation rather than a prolonged torturing of the evil figure.
Rosie So it’s being used in a different way than the Carrows would use it, for instance.
Michael: And I was thinking of… because again, people were saying that they feel that this is uncharacteristic of Harry. But the series that this moment makes me think of… this moral quandary, to me, compares more to something like The Hunger Games and the idea of what choices you make in war. And really, in the end, no matter what choices you make, they’re probably going to be choices that compromise your morals when you’re in war.
Michael: Because Katniss, throughout the series, debates whether she should be active or passive within the war, and both ways she loses. And I think that’s something that The Hunger Games chose to explore more versus Harry Potter. I don’t really think that’s the main goal of Harry Potter, to explore that. But it ends up coming up because it’s necessitated by the situation of war. So I think this is one of those moments where Harry is not perfect, just like everybody else we’ve seen throughout the series so far. Since we were talking about how Harry gallantly – or perhaps not so gallantly, depending on your opinion – defended McGonagall, we did have a great comment here from HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis about McGonagall and her participation in the battle so early on. HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis said,
“Minerva fighting and defending the castle so expertly is very deliberate on Jo’s part.”
And then she had a quote from Rowling:
”’I don’t like the marginalization of women when the fighting breaks out. We get to fight, too. I really wanted that. In the book, Minerva McGonagall is the one who does it and for me it was very important that she did that.’”
And HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis notes that that is quoted from a featurette from the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Blu-ray and DVD; I’m assuming probably the interview that she did with Daniel Radcliffe. In an early screenplay for the movie, apparently… and I tried to check sources on this. I couldn’t find one but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case, actually, based on the way it turned out.
”… in an early screenplay for the movie Kloves wanted to replace McGonagall with Harry dueling Snape.”
”Clearly Kloves had no idea what he was talking about.”
Robyn: Yeah, no.
Caleb: Wow. What a choice that would have been. And by choice, I mean a terrible mistake.
Rosie: Queen Jo will always shoot you down.
Robyn: As one of the biggest feminists that I know, if that had happened I think there would have been quite a big uproar. And one of my favorite things about the series is all of the really lovely and strong women. And McGonagall is the epitome of that.
Rosie: Yeah. And we’ll see so much more of that in this chapter and the next couple of chapters, as well…
Rosie: … where we have characters who are literally told to, “Stand here and do not fight; do not take part,” but they, of course, will go in and say, “Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I can’t fight for my family and fight for those that I love.” And of course, we have the fantastic showdown between Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix to come, which just proves that girls get it done.
Michael: It’s so funny when this was brought up with this comment because I had never really thought about it in this way. And perhaps maybe now… because we are starting to see a lot of great female characters who get to be part of the battle now in a lot of our media, which has been a fantastic and nice change. But the thing that… and I’ve said this before in regards to other themes within the book, but we’re coming up on Deathly Hallows being ten years old.
Rosie: Gosh, don’t say that. No!
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: Next year it will be ten years old.
Michael: It’s hard to see it when you’re still within that ten-year period of distance, but ten years ago was a very different time.
Caleb: It was, yep.
Michael: And I think that really reflects in why this was such a special thing, to have so many girls and women participating in the battle, and on equal footing as men. The way you guys were talking it about made me think of that… [laughs] Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies, and there’s a great moment when one of the male characters says that he should go deal with the dinosaurs to a female character, and she says, “Why?” And he said, “Well, because I’m a… and you’re a…” and she says, “Listen, we can talk about sexism in survival situations when I get back.” It’s a situation where… who cares about gender at this point? It’s really irrelevant when danger is close at hand. Actually, interestingly, I just watched Part 2 again, or at least bits and pieces of it, and you do see in the staging of that scene… and I can see how there must have been an intention by Kloves for a lead-up because Harry gives Snape that little lecture about standing in Dumbledore’s place in the Great Hall before McGonagall comes in. And actually, during that scene…
Rosie: I’ve always found that really awkward. I don’t like that one. [laughs]
Michael: Right? Right. Well, and I think that perhaps was why that scene was there.
Michael: [It] was originally to be that lead-up to Harry dueling Snape because actually, you can see in that scene, too, [that] Harry has his wand out next to McGonagall and he’s ready to duel, too. But yes, those were some of the recap comments from this week. There were so many great discussions. So many of you wanted to talk about Snape.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: And you were raising questions that are going to be raised in “The Prince’s Tale,” so you just sit tight, but keep that discussion coming over at alohomora.mugglenet.com.
Caleb: All right, we are going to take a look at some of your responses from last week’s Question of the Week. And to remind you of that question, it was, “As Percy stumbles back into the Room of Requirement and into the Weasley family, he admits that he has been working toward leaving the Ministry of Magic for some time. How long has Percy been planning his prodigal return? Was it just recently, or has it been years? And what spurred his change of heart? Was there a specific event, or the oncoming tides of war?” So what was really enjoyable about reading these responses is [that] I was surprised by the breadth of thoughts people had as to what Percy’s motivations were [and] how long ago they started. So I only picked a couple, but it’s really worth going back to read them because people came up with some really great things. But the first response is from AstroBlack, and it says, in part,
”[…] I would imagine Percy had inklings that something was wrong near the beginning of Hallows when Ministry policy shifted so violently. But his entire understanding of his own significance was so calcified by that point–immovably tied to his hope to become Minister of Magic–that he still wanted to hold onto the position he had already attained, afraid that if he resigned he’d never be able to climb the ladder again, (like Ron in front of the Mirror of Erised) never separate himself from his family in any meaningful way, never be special. I think when he says he’s been working towards leaving the Ministry for some time, he is saving face; he means that he’s been working to come clean with himself about who he is and what he’s here for.”
Robyn: I’m here to support Percy Weasley. [laughs]
Michael: Good! We love Percy Weasley supporters.
Caleb: Well… [laughs] Some of us do.
Michael: Well, some of us do.
Caleb: Speak for yourself.
Robyn: Yeah, I know. I was like, “Caleb is not going to like it, but I’m here to talk about Percy Weasley.”
Robyn: As a Slytherin, I guess… not that all Slytherins feel this way, but as a Slytherin, I honestly see where Percy is coming from. Obviously… honestly, if I had chosen to do something with my life that I really, really wanted and my family wasn’t going to support me, then, “Screw you, guys. I’m going to go do what I want to do and I’m going to be successful just to show you.” And so as much as I love the Weasleys, I see where Percy comes from and I’m glad that he came back because he realized that what he thought he wanted wasn’t what he really believed in at that moment.
Michael: Yeah, Percy realized that his morals and ideals were not worth sacrificing for the reward.
Rosie: I can see him feeling trapped, as well. The idea that he wouldn’t want to resign in case he would never be able to get up that high as well is, I think, quite a human quality to have. Anyone in that situation would feel that same fear that you don’t want to lose something in case you never regain it.
Michael: I really like that the comment references Ron…
Michael: … and his moment in front of the mirror because… and we talked about this before, but I think that’s really what… because people are so… I think the fandom is so much more eager to run to Ron’s defense when Ron is being a little brat…
Michael: … because Ron shows just this exceeding loyalty and he does always come back. And I think Percy is kind of a shorter version of Ron’s arc; we don’t get to see that full development of Percy’s arc. But it’s essentially very similar, almost akin to when Ron leaves Harry and Hermione earlier in Deathly Hallows. And that… the apologetic nature and the realization of what’s really important.
Rosie: Yeah, the resolution is the same but the reason for leaving is very different. I think Percy is a lot more eager for personal gain than Ron. Ron dreams about it but would never quite act on it, whereas Percy is so ambitious and so driven to become better than his two older brothers that he will… he’s grown up with the stories of Charlie and Bill’s amazingness, and he is that third child that is the intellectual one and the one that has to prove himself in some way. So he’s going to try and do that through climbing that ladder and climbing it through his career. And he’s following in his father’s footsteps, as well. He went into the Ministry, he wanted to do… he wanted to make his dad proud and then when he finally gets there, he’s working on cauldron bottoms…
Rosie: … and he tries to work for his father’s friend but even that backfires on him. And yeah, you have to feel sorry for Percy that it just… anything he tries to do seems to go wrong. Obviously, he goes and takes it a bit too far, but yeah, when he is seeking redemption and when he does come back to his family, we love him in the same way that we love Ron because he will do anything for his brothers and his parents just like we would expect him to as a true Weasley.
Michael: In turn, I think that brings up… because this is… and not to speak ill of the soon-to-be-dead…
Michael: … but in that way… and I’ve seen the listeners discussing this before, too, which I think is really great that this comes up for you the listeners as well, but perhaps, the dark side of Fred and George and how their humor and taunting can actually go too far.
Michael: And I think in Percy’s case, there… I think Percy was a victim of that.
Rosie: It’s a terrible thing to be bullied but it’s even worse to be bullied by your own family.
Michael and Robyn: Mhm.
Caleb: All right, the next comment – or response, I should say – comes from Witherwings.
“Percy’s change of heart could be attributed to [Umbridge] and her tirade against Muggles, as well as her confiscation of Moody’s magical eye. As the ministry was becoming increasingly corrupted, Percy had to have known that his family would be at risk. I like to think Percy took on a Regulus Black role at work: acting the part, while looking for a way to keep himself and his family safe. Perhaps both Percy and Regulus let their ambition carry them too far, and by the time they realized it, they had to act strategically to keep their families from harm. The Weasleys aren’t arrested or captured for anything during DH- was it merely their pure blood status that kept them safe? Were the Weasleys perfectly cautious? Or was Percy using his position within the Ministry to look out for them? The Ministry had to know that Ginny, at least, was causing trouble at Hogwarts. Perhaps Percy made contact with Aberforth, who was somehow affiliated with the Order, if not an outright supporter, to check in on his family. They were all safer if Percy was estranged, because the Ministry couldn’t use Percy to target the Order, just as the Black family was safer without knowing Regulus had stolen a Horcrux. Percy may have had Slytherin ambition, but he acted as a true Gryffindor by owning up to his family.”
Robyn: I love that.
Rosie: Really good idea.
Caleb: So I found this really interesting because, when I read this, I was like, “Wait. There’s no way this happened. This is crazy.”
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Caleb: But then as I read it a second time, I was like, “Wow! That would be actually… it would make… I can see a world in which it makes sense and happens.”
Rosie: It’s a “head canon accepted” stamp here. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah, I was going to say, the only textual evidence we have to even begin to support it is that Percy says when he gets to the Room of Requirement that he made contact with Aberforth, but he doesn’t say at what point.
Michael: So we don’t know how early or late into the year that occurred. It’s implied to be late, but I also don’t know… I’m not clear, too, on… once Scrimgeour was disposed of, I’m not clear on whether Percy held his position or if he was… I’m assuming he was demoted because he was…
Rosie: Yeah, I don’t think he would have worked alongside…
Michael: Pius Thicknesse.
Michael: No, I can’t imagine so.
Robyn: Although, I do believe in this chapter he does… so Thicknesse obviously knows who he is because he’s dueling with him and talking to him.
Rosie: That is true. He says…
Michael: That’s true. They know each other.
Robyn: And he’s saying that he’s resigning, so…
Rosie: Yeah, which would assume that he was still working for him. True.
Michael: So he was still in the Minister’s cabinet, I guess. He was nearby, at least, if he didn’t get completely demoted. Really, I think, perhaps the nicest idea about this theory is that in a way this would be Percy following in his father’s footsteps at the Ministry because this is what Arthur does in Order of the Phoenix.
Caleb: And a couple of the responders brought up a similar connection in their responses.
Michael: I like the comparison to Regulus, too.
Caleb, Robyn, and Rosie: Mhm.
Michael: I think that’s also another fabulous comparison because… I think, in a way, perhaps that’s an even better comparison than Ron because – like you were saying, Rosie – Ron doesn’t quite have that level of ambition that Percy did.
Michael: But from the little we know of Regulus, he did because he worked his way all the way up into Voldemort’s inner circle. So it would certainly suggest that Regulus was pretty fervent in his attempts to climb to the top.
Robyn: And I think that if Percy [were] gathering intelligence on his family and everything and he found that he did need to warn them of something, I think he would for sure.
Michael: Yeah, I think he would have found a way if he could have, so… we’ve discussed that a little bit in past episodes, but just the ambiguity of exactly what the Weasleys were doing in between the last time we see them as a family unit and then now when they show up at the battle…
Michael: … because there [are] a few things… Our listeners have been commenting that there seem to be a few plot holes in where the Weasleys go to stay out of harm’s way that kind of would’ve put them in harm’s way. So who knows if Percy was a player in that or not?
Caleb: All right, and the final response comes from the head girl and it says,
“I think Percy regrets leaving his family as soon as he does it, but he doesn’t know how to say he was wrong, and the hurt of having his father accuse him of espionage is too fresh for him to come back. I believe he probably started planning his return once there was incontrovertible proof that Voldemort was back. However, his pride and, by now, the fact that it had been so long made it difficult to plan the perfect return, and Percy would never do anything that’s less than perfect. I think his run-in with his family on Christmas ’96 told him that now was probably not the right time to do it, giving him a much-needed excuse to regroup and keep planning. By the time Book 7 starts, he basically can’t make his escape until the Battle. He knows that if he puts one foot out of line, he’s likely to lose not just the foot, but his head. Then when he gets word of the battle, he decides to go big or go home and declare where his loyalty really stands. If the good guys win, he’ll be back with his family, and if they don’t … well, he’s dead anyway.”
Michael: Yeah, time to cut your losses.
Caleb: I totally… I really buy this, and the reason being is I think this is… it draws on a human experience that probably anyone can relate to. Maybe not something this drastic with a family, but times where you’ve made a… you’ve drawn a line in the sand or you’ve made a decision. And maybe you get into it and you realize that maybe it wasn’t the best decision; maybe you should just cut your losses and let your pride take a hit. Sometimes you’re the bigger person and you can let that happen, and sometimes not. And I think, given what we know about Percy’s character, I think this totally makes sense. All right, so those are just a couple of the great responses from last week’s Question of the Week. So head over to our main site and you can read more of those responses.
Rosie: And this episode is sponsored by the amazing Marjolaine Martin on Patreon. Thank you so much for being a sponsor.
Rosie: If you guys are able to sponsor us at all or would like to sponsor us at all, you can for as little as $1 a month. We have just released our post-Hallows plans to all of our sponsors and so you can go on there now, go on to Patreon, and sign up for just $1 and find out exactly what we are doing after we finish the Deathly Hallows book. We will be releasing those plans to the general public in the future, but if you just wanted to get a little bit of a head start and know exactly what we are planning to do for you guys, go and check it out now.
Robyn: Yeah, I’m a Patreon. It’s really cool. Go look.
Rosie: Awesome, thank you so much.
Michael: Yay. And props, again, to Marjolaine Martin. Thank you for helping this episode be possible.
Rosie: Definitely. And speaking of this episode, Michael, it’s time for an interesting clip.
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 31 intro begins]
Voldemort: Give me Harry Potter.
The Grey Lady: Chapter 31… I stole the diadem.
[Sound of crashing]
The Grey Lady: “The Battle of Hogwarts.”
Fred: I don’t think I’ve heard you joke since you were…”
[Sound of crashing]
[Deathly Hallows Chapter 31 intro ends]
Rosie: So this chapter is a big one, and really, we should have split this episode into two.
Rosie: But let’s try and summarize this epic chapter very quickly. The staff of Hogwarts and the Order of the Phoenix have finally joined forces and they are laying out their battle plan to protect the school and the students from Voldemort’s approach. The loyalty of each of the Hogwarts Houses is put to test with Slytherin ultimately succumbing to their pure-blood beliefs and leaving the castle. As the battle commences, Harry combs the school for Ravenclaw’s diadem, realizing that no living being can help him. Fortunately, Hogwarts has its fair share of non-living denizens. The Grey Lady, heretofore briefly seen but never heard, reluctantly reveals her bloodstained backstory as Helena Ravenclaw, Rowena Ravenclaw’s proud daughter, and leading Harry to understand that he is not the first who has charmed her story out of her. And, remembering a similar tiara sitting upon a bust that he had spotted the previous year, Harry races through a raging battle full of familiar faces. As the Room of Requirement is set ablaze with Fiendfyre by a doomed Vincent Crabbe, Harry, Hermione, and Ron successfully destroy another Horcrux – in fact, two Horcruxes in this chapter — and manage to save Goyle and Malfoy. But sadly, while rekindling his brotherly bond with Percy, Fred Weasley is the first casualty of the Battle of Hogwarts. Get your boxes of tissues ready, guys.
Rosie: It’s going to be a sad one. But the best place to start is, of course, at the beginning. We are going to do some little bits of in-depth and some little bits of quickly just trying to race through this chapter, which is so full. So let’s start off with the evacuation of Hogwarts. And just, as a teacher, I just love the fact that Hogwarts obviously has a fire safety plan.
Rosie: We’ve got an evacuation process that we know exactly what to do. Follow those prefects. They are going to lead you out of the school. But this is slightly different because we are leading them up to the Room of Requirement this time. For once, this room is going to be known by every single student in the school. It’s no longer a very small secret for a very select group of people.
Michael: Now it’s just a room.
Rosie: It’s just a room.
Robyn: That just doesn’t seem very safe. Shouldn’t all the students know where the exit plan is?
Rosie: Yeah, it’s very true.
Michael: Yeah, this evac plan is actually a giant nightmare when you think about it, especially if you go with Rowling’s statistic that there are around a thousand people that got kicked out.
Robyn: Yeah, yeah.
Rosie: And once they get through the Room of Requirement, they go to the Hog’s Head, which surely can’t have the capacity of thousands of students.
Rosie: And when they get there, how did they get out of Hogsmeade? We know that Voldemort is at the gates of Hogwarts with all of his Death Eaters. That means that there [are] going to be some still in the town. How are they ever going to escape? Only the fifth years and sixth years… no, only the sixth years and seventh years are able to Apparate.
Rosie: So we’ve got hundreds of kids here that are not leaving the school by their own power. What’s going to happen?
Michael: Harry reasoned in the previous chapter that Voldemort… that that was the safest evac for them because Voldemort would be too focused on the school…
Rosie: That’s true.
Michael: … and would ostensibly call his Death Eaters out from Hogsmeade and, I assume, order them not to even bother with Hogsmeade by that point. I don’t think that would be likely.
Michael: I think, like you, Rosie, he would probably leave a few people behind in Hogsmeade because it’s so closely tied to the school.
Rosie: I think we do have a bit of a movie canon map in our heads, as well. Hogsmeade is supposed to be further away than I think I [see] in my head.
Michael: Mhm. Yeah, yeah, it’s a distance.
Rosie: But I still can’t see a village suddenly being populated with thousands of students and Voldemort not turning around and checking [if] Harry is one of them.
Michael: Well, yeah, this isn’t a situation where you can just whip out your wizarding cell phone and call your parents and be like, “Come pick me up.” Doesn’t work that way here. You [have to] send an owl and wait a day or two. [laughs]
Rosie: You can’t just connect a fire to the Floo Network, as well. But I guess the Hog’s Head may already be connected to the Floo Network? In which case, it could easily send people home that way. I guess the Ministry isn’t really monitoring the Network when the big battle is going on.
Robyn: They’ve got to have a lot of Floo Powder.
Michael and Rosie: Yeah.
Rosie: Maybe it’s okay for those owls again. “Let’s just pick up these students and fly them home.”
Rosie: They’ve got those magical Floo properties.
Michael: Yep, it’s like Up! but with owls carrying people instead of balloons carrying a house.
Rosie: Definitely. Brilliant picture, that one. Just owls on strings.
Rosie: Anyway, during this evacuation, while everyone is readying themselves to leave the hall, Voldemort makes his message known and he somehow has some magical capabilities of projecting his voice into the room. This is one of those scenes that is really different in the movie, but, in a way, that’s quite strange because it’s…
Michael: I don’t like the movie’s version. It’s so bizarre.
Rosie: No, it’s not really different in the fact that the book describes it as a voice that seems to be coming from nowhere and seeming to be everywhere and inside your head at once, and I think the film tries to capture that by the screaming girls holding their heads…
Michael: [laughs] Which makes no sense.
Caleb: That’s so strange.
Rosie: … but if you haven’t read that passage in the books, it would make no sense at all.
Michael: That made no sense to me when I watched the movie the first time…
Michael: … and I read it, but I was just like, “Why is this random girl in the corner screaming? Oh, and now Padma Patil is screaming also, but nobody else is screaming. And now they’re done screaming.”
Rosie: It’s just so strange.
Robyn: How would you have done it?
Michael: I wouldn’t. I probably would have… What I thought was interesting with the effect was that they didn’t have Voldemort’s voice echo.
Michael: It almost sounds like… I guess they went with the idea that he’s also in your head because they made…
Rosie: Yeah, I think that’s what they were aiming for.
Michael: Yeah, because they made the audio so crystal clear. I wouldn’t have gone with that. I would have just done a straight up echo.
Rosie: Yeah, I would have done a loud echoing voice where all of the students look around the room to try and see if he’s in there with them.
Michael: Yeah, yeah. That would have been good.
Rosie: But… yeah.
Michael: Well, you know what would have been cool? If they had images of Voldemort just appearing all over the Great Hall, like Order of the Phoenix style, but he’s not really there. That would have been cool, too. That’s how I would have done it. I’m getting all artsy on you guys.
Rosie: His message, of course, is that he is giving them until midnight to hand over Harry Potter before the war begins. And if they do hand him over, then every single one of them will get out scot free. There’ll be no deaths. Everyone will survive. And they will all be rewarded. But would he really be happy to only take Harry? I really can’t see Voldemort living up to that promise.
Rosie: Not when Hogwarts is at his feet.
Robyn: Who else does he want? Just everybody?
Rosie: He wants power. He wants to be in control of Hogwarts. He wants all of them to bow down to him. If they give him Harry and then just sit there, what would be the point of it?
Robyn: Yeah, even when Harry does go into the forest and he gets Harry, he still goes back and is just like, “Hi, guys.”
Rosie: Exactly. He has to rub it in their faces. He has to return the body to them and say, “Look at this power. Look at what I’ve done.” So yeah. That is such an empty promise.
Robyn: Yeah, I definitely think it’s a bluff.
Rosie: Unfortunately… yeah. Unfortunately, Pansy Parkinson does not see it that way…
Rosie: … and, of course, tries to turn Harry in. And we see that Hufflepuff is the second best House!
[Caleb and Michael laugh]
Rosie: As Gryffindor stands up, and then Hufflepuff, and then Ravenclaw, and it’s just obviously a sign of Hufflepuff’s superior loyalty.
Caleb: Of course.
Rosie: Gryffindor and Ravenclaw are meant to have this partnership, I think, because of their bravery and cleverness coming together, but Hufflepuffs are just definitely going to stand up for Harry first.
Michael: This is one of the… this section here is the big moment that decides the Houses.
Michael: And it’s the moment that everybody cites, and even Rowling cites it. She cited it as a defense of the Hufflepuffs.
Michael: When… I believe that occurred right when somebody told her that they were Sorted into Hufflepuff and they weren’t very happy about it.
Michael: And that sent forth her little speech about why we should all want to be Hufflepuffs and she summarized, not only this moment, but the moment where the Houses get up to leave and how many of each stay.
Rosie: Yeah. Ravenclaw is second only to Slytherin in those that leave the most, so I guess it’s clever to try and leave the fight, but badgers are going to get it done.
Michael: I have a great affection for this moment because when I went to [see]… because as we know, Pansy says this almost… her moment is almost word for word in the movie.
Michael: It’s interesting because here in the book, McGonagall sends the Slytherins out. In the movie, she sends them to the dungeons.
Caleb: Yeah. Such a weird change. I forgot about that.
Michael: Yeah. They get a much crueler fate in the movie.
Robyn: Does she not want us to leave? Does she just want us to sit in a tornado bunker or something? I don’t know.
Rosie: You can leave; you just have to go through the lake. It’s fine.
Michael: Well, apparently… because there’s a deleted scene in Deathly Hallows – [Part] 2 where the Slytherins break out of the dungeons.
Caleb: Oh my goodness.
Michael: Yeah, where Filch puts them in there and then they use Bombarda and they break out. In the scene were you see Malfoy grab Zabini and Goyle in the movie as he Apparates in… there is so much rule-breaking in Deathly Hallows – [Part] 2.
[Caleb and Rosie laugh]
Michael: When he grabs them, you can see the Slytherins all running out and that’s what that leftover is from that scene.
Rosie: I cannot remember so much of that film. I will have to be joining in our movie watch.
Michael: It’s such a mess. It’s such a beautiful mess. [laughs] The part that’s so hard for people, I think, with this piece, too – and Robyn, I think you perhaps can especially speak to this as a Slytherin…
Robyn: For sure.
Michael: … but I was thinking about it in terms of how the books, up to this point – especially the Sorting Hat – really imply that the four Houses need to join together…
Rosie: Yeah, and this time it’s… they don’t.
Michael: … and they don’t. Yeah, the Slytherins… and we get a little bit of retconning on that with some Rowling statements later on because in the book, we get evidence that Slughorn comes back and brings some people, but Rowling later clarified that she said, “Yeah, the Slytherins came back,” like it was a group effort.
Michael: Which is not supported by the text.
Michael: So that’s still a gray area, but it’s so interesting, to me, that Dumbledore really espouses the unity of the Houses and the Sorting Hat follows suit with that, and wouldn’t it have been interesting if the Slytherins had…? I don’t know what that would have… how that would have affected the narrative, if they had stayed or some of them had stood up and done the right thing in this situation.
Robyn: If I took myself out of the reader who loves Harry and sees all of these bad things about Slytherin and I just put myself as a Slytherin teenager in that situation, yeah. Honestly, I’m gone.
Robyn: There’s no freaking way. The Sorting Hat is like, “Stay together.” I’m like, “Okay, yeah, sounds great. Until I’m in danger. Sorry, bye.”
Michael: Well… [laughs]
Robyn: Not happening. I’m getting far away from there and I ain’t coming back.
Michael: To be fair, and we see this in the text – this goes against what Rowling said about the Hufflepuffs – Zacharias Smith is ever so boldly bowling over first years to get out of the castle.
[Caleb and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: There is no figuring out Zacharias Smith.
Caleb: He’s the worst.
Michael: It’s not an issue that’s exclusive to Slytherin, apparently. [laughs]
Rosie: We had a tweet earlier on today from Lisa Newell Rocco that said, “What kind of reward would Voldemort have offered?” Because he offers a reward for the students who hand over Harry, and I think the answer to that tweet would surely be just that their lives are their reward.
Michael: Oh, yeah.
Rosie: They’ll be rewarded by not dying in this situation.
Caleb: A chance to serve Voldemort after.
Rosie: Yeah, and I think that that’s…
Robyn: You get to be in a super special club.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: You get tattoos and everything.
Rosie: Ooh! I remembered what it was. Yay! The redemption of Slytherin. So with the whole House unity and that kind of thing, as you were saying, as a Slytherin teenager in this situation, you would get out of there. There is no way that you would be brave enough and be able to overcome the self-preservation need at that stage. So the redemption of Slytherin is required to come through Slytherin adults, and of course, that comes when we see Narcissa later in the forest.
Caleb: One of my favorite moments.
Rosie: She is the moment where the Houses unite, and a Slytherin stands up for the Gryffindor, and protects the boy that grew up pretty much with her son. May have been his enemy, but boys will be boys.
Michael: Slytherin redeems themselves in very [unusual]…
Michael: … I think in ways that we don’t consider, perhaps traditionally, brave because the books really… since they’re from Harry’s perspective, we get pounded with the Gryffindor way.
Michael: And as we see here, the Hufflepuffs and the Ravenclaws follow the Gryffindor way, in many ways here.
Rosie: And each of the Houses [has] to succeed with their own quality, as well. Gryffindor: All of them are brave. There are so many of those little kids that want to stay [but] McGonagall has to go and send them home.
Michael: Yes. Jimmy Peakes from the Quidditch team.
Rosie: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: His little cameo there. [laughs]
Robyn: Little Jimmy.
Rosie: Hufflepuff is, obviously, the loyal House. They will stand up for those that they think are right, and we see that with the immediate loyalty to Harry when they stand up first and try and remain to fight. Ravenclaw is the clever House. They’ve got some people who think the smart answer is to leave, [and] they’ve got some people that are happy to stay. Obviously, we’ve got characters like Luna who are able to put their “wit beyond measure” first thing forward.
Rosie: And they can protect others through their “books and cleverness,” as Hermione would say. But Slytherin has to succeed through cunning, and the only way that they can succeed through cunning is Narcissa’s trick, and it is so brilliant to see that Slytherin quality being used for goodness for a change; where Narcissa really does take that cunning moment and turn everything around. But why are we even talking about that? That’s not in this chapter.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Skip that for later on! I completely go on tangents. We’re only on point one! So let’s move onto point two. [laughs]
Michael: Oh my gosh, point two. I’m so excited for point two.
Rosie: It’s going to be a long episode. Point two is just gorgeous, and for anyone…
Michael: Point two is what I’ve been waiting for. [laughs]
Rosie: [laughs] … for anyone who’s ever read any founders-era fan fiction, you will know what we’re talking about.
Rosie: If you’ve never read any founders fiction, go and read it. MuggleNet fan fiction, FanFiction.MuggleNet.com. We’ve just got a new layout. Go and read it. It’s cool. There is so much good stuff out there because we have some information about the founders, but very, very little, and what information we do have that is solidly from the books comes right here in this chapter. We see Harry wondering about what to do and how to find the diadem. He knows it has to be in the castle because Voldemort has given him that clue, that confirmation that the last Horcrux does belong to Ravenclaw, by putting the Carrows in Ravenclaw Tower. So Harry is certain that it has to be the diadem. So it has to be here somewhere, and the only person he can think of that would know something about it – as no one in living memory can remember anything about it – would be the Ravenclaw ghost. So he goes to ask Nearly Headless Nick who the Ravenclaw ghost is, and he tells us that the Ravenclaw ghost is the Grey Lady. We’ve seen her very briefly in the very first book, but she hasn’t really reappeared since then.
Michael: [laughs] She just drifts by with the description. She never even gets to speak.
Rosie: She’s wearing a lovely dress. [laughs]
Michael: Yes, she’s in the video games, too.
Rosie: She is!
Michael: You see her wandering around every once in a while.
Rosie: And I think Rowling gave us some information about her. We knew that the Grey Lady was the Ravenclaw ghost. I think she must have given an interview about that, or answered the question at the very end.
Michael: I think she was properly revealed with her name somewhere around the first movie because…
Rosie: I don’t think we were ever given her name. We didn’t know that she was Ravenclaw’s daughter until the [seventh] book.
Michael: Well, no, but we were given her…
Rosie: Her ghost name?
Michael: Her ghost name.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: Yes, they all have ghost names, which aren’t their real names.
Michael: Because actually – and I had it down here in tandem with her story – we got quite a bit about her. We got a little hint about the Grey Lady from Nina Young, who was originally cast as the Grey Lady. And it’s kind of sad that she didn’t get to play her in Deathly Hallows as evidenced by her amazing commitment to the part.
Michael: Because she talked to Rowling and then got a letter from a fan about the Grey Lady – and I think the fan’s name is Wendy – and the letter said,
“Thank you for your lovely letter. I hope that we will hear about the Grey Lady in the next book. J.K. Rowling wrote to me before the first movie and said that she would appear later in the series. She also told me that she was a highly intellectual young lady and a bit of a blue stocking. She never found true love as she never found a man that lived up to her standards. Although I was supposed to be in all of the movies, I did not film the second and am still waiting on the third. My fingers are crossed. Lots of love, Nina.”
Michael: So that was poor Nina Young who you see about twice in Sorcerer’s Stone. The Grey Lady appears in Chamber of Secrets [in a deleted scene], but she’s not played by Nina Young. Of course, she would later be recast with Kelly McDonald – who you might know better as Merida, some of you listeners, from Brave – so complete change there!
Michael: But if you bothered to find out more about the Grey Lady, you might have dug up this information pretty early on, actually.
Rosie: I like the idea that she’s a blue stocking. Do you know what that means?
Michael: I did some research on it and found out, but you’re the British one here, Rosie, so you define it for us.
Rosie: [laughs] So it was an eighteenth century society of very educated, intellectual women. They were just really… I don’t know what to say about them. They were just really brilliant women who valued education and intellect above all things.
Michael: But it became something of a derogatory term, unfortunately, later on.
Rosie: Yeah, unfortunately it became kind of frumpy and a bit mocking.
Rosie: As always, whenever women are deemed to be educated, they will always be put down.
Robyn: Yes. [laughs]
Michael: Well, and that’s a great term to apply to the Grey Lady in that… I think, like Rowena suggests, that she would have been a woman ahead of her time – kind of out of her time almost.
Rosie: Definitely. And to be the daughter of the person that is known as the intellectual founder, you’ve got to have some kind of intellect to try and follow in her mother’s footsteps. And we see, of course, that that is her greatest weakness: that her vanity and her greed and her desire to follow in her mother’s footsteps is ultimately what leads to her downfall, but we are skipping ahead of ourselves. So what we do find out about the Grey Lady when Harry finally goes and meets her is that she really doesn’t want to talk to Harry, first of all. She tries to run away, as far as ghosts can run, and she really refuses to give any information until Harry kind of badgers and badgers and really works out that the only way she’s ever going to speak is if he keeps at her. And she eventually lets slip that it was her mother’s diadem that went missing, and he really picks up on that information. He [asks], “Your mother’s?” And she says, “When I was alive, I was Helena Ravenclaw,” in a very Shakespearean fashion.
Rosie: And this is really the only solid information that we get about the founders, and we get a lovely snippet of information. We never find out who Helena’s father was, and there is so much speculation as to whether Ravenclaw and Gryffindor were together or if it was something else. But to be Helena Ravenclaw as well, to have her surname, and to be supposedly her mother’s surname… was Ravenclaw not Rowena’s maiden name? Was it her married name? Who knows?
Rosie: But yeah, we get Helena Ravenclaw’s tale, and she stole the diadem from her mother to try and gain its intellectual powers: the very thing that she was warning others against and the thing that she is saying that students shouldn’t attempt to seek when they ask her. And really, with Helena’s tale, we discover a story that is very similar to Slughorn’s. We get two tales about Helena: so we get her actual tale of her death, where her mother stuck up for her. She hid the truth about this theft, and eventually we see that the Bloody Baron was actually the one that killed Helena…
Michael: This is so satisfying. [laughs]
Rosie: Just having the connection is gorgeous.
Robyn: If the Bloody Baron is his ghost name, we don’t have an inkling as to what his real name was, right?
Michael and Rosie: No.
Rosie: He would be Baron something, but we don’t know who he is.
Michael: Yeah, the Bloody Baron and the Friar…
Robyn: I hope it’s something that’s just like Dave or something.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: Yeah, the Baron and the Friar are two we still don’t have names for.
Rosie: But it’s interesting [what] we have here. I just said that Helena speaks in a very Shakespearean fashion; her syntax [and] the way she orders her words is very proper and very formal English.
Rosie: And here with the tale of Helena and the Baron, she didn’t love him, [and] he, in a fit of passion, kills her and then seeing what he’s done, kills himself. That in itself is such a Shakespearean love story, isn’t it?
Michael: [laughs] Yes.
Robyn: Yeah, for sure.
Rosie: Just the messy, emotional, double murder, suicide thing. It’s so Romeo and Juliet, just without the actual requited love.
Michael: I think it’s really fascinating, too that the Baron… Helena says that he wears his chains in penitence, “as he should.”
Michael: And that’s so interesting, the idea that the chains are more of a metaphorical thing. He wasn’t wearing the chains when he died. There is more of that Jacob Marley metaphorical chains that bind you to the earth, that keep you from going on or back. I thought that was really interesting because that speaks to a more, almost religious tone than you get in Harry Potter with symbolism. That one’s a little more straightforward than most things in the wizarding world.
Robyn: How did he find some ghost chains?
Michael: I know!
Robyn: Why didn’t he use some regular chains to fall through?
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Robyn: I’m so confused about that.
Michael: He got them from the ghost space.
Rosie: It’s a feature of Purgatory, the idea that your sins become a physical chain that locks your body into Purgatory, and that you will carry around the weight of these chains for the rest of your second life before you can atone for those sins. I think it originates partly in Greek myth, as well, with the whole idea of the impossible challenges, like pushing the rock up the hill or having the crow pecking your liver for eternity. All those ideas of [eternal] torture… this is an eternity in chains.
Rosie: But yes, that’s Helena’s own personal story of how she ended up there, but we also see this secondary story and secondary link between herself and Slughorn: another famous Slytherin. And we really see that both of these characters have the same downfall when it comes to Lord Voldemort, and Voldemort is able to manipulate and really harness this particular weakness in a very strong way. And that weakness is a mixture of vanity and greed. Helena is exactly the same as Slughorn as really succumbing to the flattery and the charm of a young Tom Riddle, and when the need for knowledge seems to be quite clear in Riddle and his questions become both flattering and subtle, he is able to wheedle that information out of them both. And it’s information that they would never tell anyone else. Slughorn would never give that information to anyone other than his prized student, and Helena would never give that information to anyone other than Riddle, which seems really strange but he is obviously such a flatterer and made her really – I don’t know – feel something that she hadn’t felt before, by the sounds of it.
Michael: Is Gryffindor the only House that doesn’t succumb to Voldemort’s wiles as far as the Horcrux stuff? Because we know that Hepzibah Smith is the Hufflepuff who goes down for a Horcrux.
Robyn and Rosie: Yeah.
Michael: [laughs] I mean, he’s got Peter Pettigrew, which people still debate about the Gryffindor business there, but other than…
Rosie: But that was a different…
Caleb: Debatable if he belonged in the first place.
Rosie: Yeah, it wasn’t vanity or greed that made Pettigrew change; that was just desire for…
Michael: No, and Peter’s stuff isn’t related directly to the Horcruxes.
Rosie: I think also, we only ever see the sword appear to Harry and then appear to Neville, and both of those people Riddle has already discounted as not worth attempting to manipulate.
Rosie: The only Gryffindors we see him trying to manipulate would be Dumbledore himself, and possibly… Who was the headmaster before Dumbledore?
Caleb and Robyn: Dippet.
Rosie: Was it Dippet? Do we know if he is a Gryffindor, as well?
Michael: I don’t think we know Dippet’s House.
Caleb: Yeah, I don’t think we know.
Rosie: Because if that [were] the case I think Dippet would be the only Gryffindor that he’s able to manipulate, but he doesn’t have the access to the Gryffindor relic so it would be of no benefit to him other than getting what he wants out of the school.
Robyn: They also tried to get Sirius to join the Death Eaters, if that counts.
Rosie: True! And that didn’t go very well. But anyway, we need to zoom forward a little bit. We have a race through the hallways and we finally hit midnight just as Hagrid joins the fight, thankfully pushed through a window by Grawp right into Harry’s path!
Rosie: How Grawp knew that that’s where Harry [would] be, we will never know.
Caleb: [laughs] That’s so convenient.
Rosie: Lucky Harry manages to find him right there. The battle has therefore begun. Hagrid has been hiding in Sirius’s old cave and has rejoined the fight because he heard Voldemort’s message echo around the valley that Hogwarts resides within. Aberforth has already rejoined the fight, as well; he’s left his pub and immediately starts to insult Harry as only Aberforth can do. But his insults and his reminders of what his brother would do lead Harry to think about what else Dumbledore would never do and that in turn leads him on a thought process that reminds him of the Room of Hidden Things and where he himself has previously seen a tiara sat upon the bust of some wizard that Harry himself placed beside his old Potions book as a reminder of where it was if he would ever go back to find it.
Michael: Shout-out to all of the minor characters that Harry runs by.
Michael: That’s why this works so much better for me in the book than the movies; [it’s] because the movie has a budget and has cast members who haven’t come back for so long that… Why would they come back?
Michael: But [in] the book, she can put as many people as she wants. He runs by Hannah Abbott. Lee Jordan is there. Sir Cadogan makes a cameo. For me, it just makes it all feel so much more alive and makes the stakes so much higher when these many characters are involved.
Rosie: And it really proves that the whole castle is fighting.
Michael: Yeah, yeah.
Rosie: This is not just the DA versus the Death Eaters. This is literally every single member of this film, of this book, of this life that we have discovered through reading these books. They are all there.
Michael: Hogwarts itself is in battle.
Rosie: Yeah. Even the statues.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: And of course, while running down these corridors, we get to the best bit of the books…
Rosie: … and that is where Ron and Hermione return, finally. Harry discovers them, and Ron has finally come through and been the hero with the actual original idea that is going to save the day.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: He thought of the Chamber of Secrets, he ran down here with Hermione, he found some basilisk fangs, [and] he even spoke Parseltongue proving that it is as easy as speaking French if you’ve ever heard someone say one word.
Rosie: All you have to do is just try and mimic what you heard.
Robyn: Close enough.
Rosie: And I just love the amount of references in this book – in this chapter, even – that you get to all of the previous books. And here I think we finally see a return of Ron as the chess player. He is the game maker; he is the one that can think things through and plan ahead for a battle. He knows that the one thing they need to do is find something that will destroy the Horcruxes. He thinks through what he knows can destroy Horcruxes, which at this point is pretty much just Gryffindor’s sword. And why can Gryffindor’s sword kill things? Because of the basilisk venom. And for once, he uses his head! Yay!
Michael: Yeah, this is the Ron that I missed. I missed this Ron so much.
Caleb and Rosie: Yeah.
Rosie: This is the Ron that comes out so rarely that is so rewarding whenever it does. We will continue to look at these two in just a moment but we have to enter the Room of Requirement first. And we’ve got an interesting trio of people here. We have got three generations of strong, powerful women here ready to join the fight. We’ve got Mrs. Longbottom…
Michael: In the flesh!
Rosie: … and why is she there? We’ve only ever met her once. The only other time we have really had an inkling of what she looks like is that glorious moment in Prisoner of Azkaban when Neville stands in front of the Boggart… is it Prisoner of Azkaban?
Rosie: And we see Snape in Mrs. Longbottom’s robes and hat and bag and all that kind of thing. And I really just love the idea that she’s here in this moment literally because we have just seen Snape humiliated for the first time in this book. It’s just there to add that little bit more of a reminder of that humiliation for you if you want to.
Michael: Yeah, I love that she’s always wearing the same thing every time they see her because she is seen before.
Rosie: I can’t think of this scene without that one. Yeah.
Michael: We did see her in Order of The Phoenix briefly, too, at St. Mungo’s.
Caleb: St. Mungo’s, yeah.
Rosie: Yes. That’s the only other time that we actually physically see her.
Michael: But it is funny; she wears the same exact outfit every single time we see her, with the vulture-topped hat. I think that the nice thing about seeing her in this moment is she – and we’ll get Neville’s big final moment later – but she closes up Neville’s development.
Michael: Because she’s proud of him. She’s stopped being the nagging grandma who tells Neville to live up to his potential. She’s finally recognized that he is doing that.
Rosie: Yeah. And we see that so clearly with just that simple statement of, “Have you seen my grandson?” “He’s fighting.” “Of course he is. What else would Neville be doing?”
Caleb: Ugh, I love this line because…
Rosie: It’s just gorgeous.
Caleb: What a change this is showing. It’s showing Neville’s growth with the way she deals with it. It’s so great.
Michael: What it really brings forth is that while she may have nagged on him all those years, it was because she knew he could do this. It’s wasn’t because he was failing her; it was because she always knew he could be even better than he was.
Rosie: Yeah. And it’s just that tiny moment of validation that’s just so beautiful. It’s just gorgeous. I love that moment so much. And that’s the only time we see Mrs. Longbottom in this fight. Once she leaves the Room of Requirement, we literally never see her again. She’s not even mentioned – I think – when Neville does actually have his main heroic moment. So we are just supposed to take this little nugget of appreciation and just let it warm our hearts before we are going to see even more heartwarming things in just a moment. But we also have Ginny and Tonks in the room.
Rosie: Tonks, of course… Oh dear, Michael, I’ve literally just remembered who your favorite character is. Sorry.
Michael: [laughs] See, everybody’s crying about Fred but I’m over here crying about something else entirely.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Yeah, that’s next chapter. Tonks, of course, was meant to be staying at home. She was meant to be looking after Teddy. But here, even the mothers are not made to stay at home and stay out of the fight. They are there to protect their husbands, and if any wife and new mother were going to be there to protect her husband, it was going to be Tonks. And as heartbreaking as it is, it is also, again, a very beautiful moment to see her desperation to go and stand up for this character that we have seen so isolated and so down-trodden by the world at large. For Tonks to be desperate to go and protect him is just lovely. And now I’m going to let Michael speak because I know he’s dying to.
Michael: Oh, no, no, I just… What’s sad here is that possibly Lupin is already dead because we know that… I don’t know if he’s dead yet or if he dies in the… I want to say that somebody mentions that he’s fighting Dolohov at some point, and Dolohov is who kills him.
Robyn and Rosie: Yeah.
Robyn: It happens.
Rosie: Yeah, that conversation happens in the hallway just in a few moments’ time, so…
Michael: Okay, so yeah, he could be dead by now.
Rosie: He could be. I don’t think… in my head it’s always been the case that they literally died side by side, so she would’ve seen him before he died. I don’t know if that’s just because the movie has influenced me, but I think that’s the way it’s always been in my head.
Michael: Yeah, the movie has really pushed that…
Michael: … because Tonks falls at Bellatrix’s hand, I believe.
Michael: So they were battling different people. And Flitwick will take Dolohov down later, apparently. But yeah, it just breaks my heart because that’s… there’s your Hufflepuff who’s lost to the battle, Rosie.
Rosie: Oh, no!
Michael: Tonks would be the victim.
Rosie: It was Tonks.
Michael: Well, and people were talking in the comments this week, too about, “How did Lupin end up at the battle? How did Tonks willingly let him go? Did he sneak off again?” But… because people felt that it would be uncharacteristic of Lupin to sneak away. Or did Tonks recognize that this was something he had to do?
Rosie: I think Tonks would have let him go. The Order is called when the DA are called…
Rosie: … and they know that if they are called it has to be the big battle. [For] no other reason would they be called to Hogwarts. So there is no way that Lupin would let Harry go through this on his own. He is the last of the Marauders. He is the last one to stand there and protect what is essentially his godson, as well, even if it was never formally so.
Rosie: There’s no way that Lupin would stay out of this fight.
Michael: No. So it’s very sad, but we’ll see Lupin again. He won’t be alive…
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: … but we’ll at least see him again.
Rosie: Oh, dear, we’re starting already. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah, here it goes. [laughs]
Rosie: But yes, the third and final strong female that we see in the Room of Requirement is, of course, Ginny.
Michael: Another! Smash. [laughs]
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: And this is the one that of course Harry wants to protect the most because although we are about to see some romantic things happening, Harry wants to protect his romance as well, and he is desperate to keep Ginny safe. He asks them to leave the room but he makes it very, very clear that he wants them to stand just outside the door and not go anywhere, [and] that they have to come back in the room in just a moment.
Michael: Mhm, nope. [laughs]
Rosie: Yeah, as soon as Ginny is out there, she is gone. They immediately go to the window and start fighting. But more on that later. Time for an interlude!
Rosie: Because everything is Romione and nothing hurts! And I’m using all of the memes in this episode because it’s just… I read this chapter and I’m immediately 16 again.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: But… Ah, Ron and Hermione forever. It’s just [that] I love this scene so much. [laughs]
Michael: Sorry, Harry and Hermione shippers, it wasn’t meant to be.
Rosie: Yeah, it was never going to happen, Harry and Hermione shippers.
Rosie: It was always Romione. And we see that Ron’s emotional range has finally progressed from teaspoon to soup spoon.
Rosie: And we really see that he is the only one thinking of the bigger picture at the moment; he’s thinking about the end of the battle and how they would destroy the Horcruxes, [and] he’s thinking of the collateral damage of the battle, as well. It might have been that he’s worried about his sister, but he immediately thinks again about the denizens of the house and the denizens of Hogwarts that are perhaps not most commonly thought of. And he says, “What about the house-elves?” Harry says, “What, do you think we should get them to fight?” and he says, “No, we should tell them to leave.” And of course, just that tiny little bit of empathy is going to get Hermione on his side, finally. And she literally jumps him.
Rosie: There is no way that that would not have happened in that moment where she is just so overcome by her love for this man, who is finally showing that he understands emotions and understands the importance of the creatures that she has fought so hard to protect since that second book and since the introduction of Dobby and those characters that have been so mistreated and looked down upon by the wizarding world. Just that tiny little bit of “protect the animals” and Hermione will love you forever. And I’m going to stop talking. You guys, go.
Michael: This is yet another piece of collateral damage from taking the house-elves out of the movies.
Michael: The kiss loses all its weight. [laughs] It doesn’t really…
Rosie: Just… [grunts] Don’t even get me started.
Michael: It just comes out as a moment. And it’s so…
Rosie: Although I do love the movie kiss, as well, but mainly because of Rupert and Emma’s giggle at the end.
Michael: Yeah, it’s Rupert and Emma that make the kiss; it’s not the characters.
Rosie: Yeah, no.
Michael: Yes, it’s Rupert and Emma. Yeah, it…
Caleb: Yeah, I mean, that kiss is fine, but it loses the weight of the moment that is created in the book.
Michael: I think it’s really neat that they did show us the destruction of Hufflepuff’s cup in the Chamber…
Michael: … because to me, that is almost like, “Lost opportunity, book. Always go back to the Chamber of Secrets because that’s such a cool place.”
Rosie: Yes. And if we were talking about those strong female characters and getting to see them being the heroes for a change, the fact that we don’t get to see Hermione destroying the cup…
Michael: Destroying the cup. Yeah.
Rosie: … is a major flaw.
Michael: Yeah. For sure. Ron gets his big hurrah and that’s why he’s forgiven and why he gets to come back.
Michael: Wouldn’t it have been great to, yeah, see Hermione get to do her moment with that in the book? Because especially considering how fearful she is of the Horcruxes as objects, that would have been really great.
Michael: But at least, that’s where the movie makes up for its losses, I suppose.
Rosie: It does.
Michael: By that… yes.
Rosie: And it does make perfect sense with the narrative of this chapter. One of the things I really do love about this chapter is that we have such a close narrative bias to Harry’s eyes.
Rosie: There is literally nothing described in this chapter that is not within a five foot radius of Harry as it’s happening.
Rosie: The only thing that we see is what Harry sees. And that is the perfect narrative voice to have for a battle.
Rosie: Because battles are so chaotic and so ridiculously full of action that… I think this is where the Mockingjay book really falls down. We’ve been talking about other things in comparative literature so much in this chapter – which is really nice – but the final battle sequence in Mockingjay is… Is it Mockingjay or Catching Fire? Which was the third one?
Michael: Mockingjay. You’re right.
Rosie: Mockingjay, yeah.
Robyn: Yeah, Mockingjay.
Rosie: I doubted myself.
Rosie: The final battle sequence in that book and the final progression up to the mansion is so chaotic and really quite difficult to understand because we don’t have this close narrative bias. We are given so many glimpses of things that are going on around Katniss that the chaos is evident on the page, and the lack of clarity makes it confusing. When someone dies at the end of that book, the first time I read it I literally didn’t realize…
Rosie: … until it was further explained later on because just the chaos of that scene hid it from me, whereas here…
Michael: Mockingjay for… Oh, I was just going to say Mockingjay for me suffers in that respect because it’s restricted to a three-act set up because Collins was familiar with the three-act television narrative.
Rosie: Yeah. And it’s very clearly written as a screenplay action scene.
Rosie: We see it through the eyes of a camera rather than through the eyes of the character.
Michael: Yeah, I could definitely see that because Harry’s journey isn’t restricted to a three-act narrative so there’s so much more time to really soak in everything that’s happening. But at that same time – like you’re saying Rosie – there is that level of chaos, but I think there’s more ample time…
Rosie: Run through corridors.
Michael: … for Rowling to wrap some words around that chaos to make it more palpable for the reader, perhaps.
Rosie: Yes. And of course, as Hermione jumps Ron, Harry is the one to point out, “Is this really the moment? There’s a war going on.” And they go, “Well, what other moment is there? It’s the perfect moment. But of course, we’ll put things aside for a moment; we will get back to this later.”
Rosie: Oh, I just love that scene so much.
Michael: Everybody’s going to have plenty of children later, so it all…
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: They’ll have all the time in the world.
Rosie: Very true, yeah. And they immediately go back to battle stations. The room is clear, they can leave, and they can get on with the action at hand. As they step out of the room again, it is very clear that the situation has started to deteriorate within the battle: The Death Eaters are definitely at the gates if not within the castle, we see that Grawp has joined the fight, and Ginny and Tonks are currently fighting through a broken window down the corridor. We see other characters run past again; Aberforth rewards Ginny with a compliment about how good her spells were. I just like the contrast of Aberforth always insulting Harry but complimenting Ginny. Just lovely. And of course, the trio re-enters the Room of Hidden Things, the Room of Requirement. It’s interesting to note that supposedly Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle have been waiting and hiding outside the Room of Requirement, waiting for Harry, Ron, and Hermione to go back in, which means that they would have been [standing] there with Ginny and Tonks fighting nearby for quite a while.
Robyn: They also watched the kiss.
Rosie: The kiss happened inside the room, so they… I don’t know. I don’t think they went in with them that first time.
Robyn: That’s good. That would be weird.
Rosie: Yeah, it would be weird.
Michael: That would ruin the moment a little.
Caleb: It still is pretty weird, though.
Rosie: Yeah, to stand there and not really do anything and just be waiting for something to happen…
Michael: Well, as we know from sixth year, Crabbe and Goyle are very accustomed to standing in front of the Room of Requirement for very long periods of time.
Caleb: It’s their M.O.
Rosie: That is very true.
Michael: And they don’t even have to be girls this time, so they probably consider this a break.
Rosie: [laughs] But presumably, the only reason why they would do that would be if they had been following Harry from the beginning because if they had been waiting outside the Room of Requirement, it would mean one thing and one thing only, and that is that Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle know that the diadem is in the Room of Requirement and in the Room of Hidden Things, which would mean that Draco would have to find it.
Robyn: They don’t seem to know.
Robyn: And they don’t even seem to really know what it is.
Rosie: Crabbe and Goyle definitely don’t. Whether Draco does is less clear. Draco is very much not the talkative character that we’re used to at this moment.
Michael: It’s interesting because Malfoy is coming not to get the… he only overhears the diadem bit because Harry and Hermione and Ron are talking about it. He’s coming for Harry…
Michael: … and he’s insistent on taking him alive because he knows that Voldemort wants him, so he’s coming for that. I think what just happened was that Malfoy… I don’t know how Malfoy figured that Harry was going to go to the Room of Requirement because Voldemort wouldn’t have told Malfoy that. I think Malfoy is quite a ways out of Voldemort’s good graces by this point.
Rosie: No. So presumably they’re thinking that he’s going to try and leave or that he’s going to try and find something in the Room of Hidden Things. But for him to specifically reference that room is very odd.
Michael: I must…
Rosie: If we’re talking about any kind of plot holes, this is possibly one that exists within the book.
Michael: The only thing I can think that would maybe link that is the events of Half-Blood Prince because Malfoy and Harry know the… they probably are the two, at this point, who know some of the deepest secrets about the Room of Requirement and how it operates.
Michael: And maybe Malfoy saw what the potential advantage of the room could be to Harry in this moment because… the Slytherins are all assuming that Harry is making a break for it.
Michael: So like you said, maybe he thought that his best escape route was out the Room of Requirement, so that’s why he tailed him there. But it’s all just happenstance really, right?
Rosie: Yeah, it’s a little bit odd and circumstantial.
Rosie: But never mind.
Robyn: If the Slytherins were getting out of the Room of Requirement but Tonks, Ginny, and Augusta Longbottom were in there, are they in the same room? Or did… after the Slytherins left, then they went into… What are the logistics of the Slytherins leaving while they’re there?
Michael: As long as there’s somebody in the room, it stays that room.
Michael: So somebody probably was in there with those three when they got in there, and whoever that was must have left.
Michael: So I’m assuming that that’s how the room stuck, the way it was after the Houses left, but people were still coming in. But yeah, now that area’s gone, now that Harry has gotten everybody out of the room…
Rosie: So yeah, it’s just an interesting little quirk of this chapter that’s not necessarily fully explained.
Rosie: However, before they even arrive – before they corner Harry – we see him running through the Room of Hidden Things. We have a lovely mention to a stuffed troll, which just… it has to be the troll from the “troll in the dungeon” scene.
Michael: Oh. [laughs]
Rosie: It’s just that lovely little reference to [Book 1]…
Michael: Did they stuff him? [laughs]
Rosie: It seems that way. [laughs] Why else would they have a stuffed troll in the room?
Rosie: And what else would you do with it?
Robyn: Like a toy stuffed troll? Or a genuine large…?
Rosie: No, no, a genuine large troll. I’m assuming it is the troll that Quirrell let into the dungeons that [Ron] knocked out, and presumably they couldn’t just let it wonder free. Even Hagrid wouldn’t be able to cope with the troll.
Michael: This is another one of those fun subtle recall moments that the movie actually did pick up because there [are] a bunch of things in the movie version of the room, too in this scene that you [pick up] if you’ve got an eagle eye.
Rosie: Yeah. “Let’s throw all the props in there.”
Michael: Yeah, they put all the extra leftover props in there for all the eagle-eyed fans to find.
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah. And I think one that appears in both the book and the film is Malfoy’s Vanishing Cabinet, which we run past.
Michael: Yeah. Mhm.
Rosie: The diadem is discovered just where Harry left it and that is the exact moment where Draco, Crabbe and Goyle turn up. They are desperate to prove themselves to try and capture Harry and to reap the rewards. Crabbe is described as acting like a small child who has been promised a big bag of sweets…
Rosie: … and Draco is also described as having his mother’s wand. So we are very much seeing children of Death Eaters here desperate to follow in their parents’ footsteps, just like we were talking about Percy and his father earlier on. There are just a few descriptions in here that struck me as interesting similarities between the Room of Hidden Things and the Room of Prophecies.
Rosie: When the fight begins, Crabbe is described as attacking the shelves of the room because Ron is in the next aisle. So Crabbe attacks the shelves so that the shelves will fall on Ron, and I just see that as being very similar to how the “Golden Six” managed to escape the Hall of Prophecies when the Death Eaters attacked. They were knocking over the shelves and trying to trap them in the different aisles.
Michael: Well, and the desire to find a specific object that’s very well hidden…
Michael: … and how this object is really going to determine a lot of things…
Rosie: An object that only Harry can find.
Michael: … and very much connects Harry and Voldemort. Yeah, it’s…
Rosie: To the final…
Michael: There [are] definitely a lot of connections going on there.
Rosie: Yeah. Then again, it would…
Robyn: I don’t know how much has been happening. Obviously, we get a lot of the stories of what’s going on at Hogwarts, but this is some serious character development that we have not seen from Vincent Crabbe.
Michael and Rosie: Yes.
Robyn: This is a Vincent Crabbe that I have never seen before this.
Michael: She did such a good job keeping him silent for all six books that when he opens his mouth you go, “What?” I think even…
Robyn: Yeah. [laughs]
Rosie: Even Harry goes, “What?” Harry is described as saying he has never really heard his voice and is surprised by how soft it sounds.
Michael: Which is funny because he did hear his voice in [Book] 2, but he heard it with Ron speaking through it, so it was Ron.
Rosie: Yes. [laughs]
Michael: So yeah, I think it’s great because even me as a reader and as a voice actor; I go, “Oh what should he sound like?”
Michael: Because I don’t have a voice for him or Goyle. They both are just mute bodyguards who just stand there and punch their fists. [laughs] They don’t actually do anything. So this is another one of those satisfying moments. I think the other reason it’s satisfying is because it’s one of those few moments where you watch Malfoy losing control of a situation…
Michael: … which is delightful because you really see what a mess he is.
Rosie: And it is really Crabbe that takes control of the situation.
Michael: Control, yeah.
Rosie: Again, it’s sad that that’s missing from the movie, but that’s obviously for very different reasons than most movie-isms…
Michael and Robyn: Yeah.
Rosie: And I think that the actors who play Goyle and Zabini did a brilliant job of filling that role…
Rosie: … and really showing the progression just through Goyle and Zabini.
Michael: What that must be like when your character totally survives the book, and then you find out that he’s going to die in the movie first. [laughs]
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah, because of the…
Michael: Bummer. [laughs]
Rosie: Because of… yeah.
Robyn: Great for Zabini, though.
Michael: Yeah! [laughs]
Rosie: Yeah, definitely. He gets a promotion. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Rosie: And yeah, this is Vincent Crabbe’s shining and defining moment, and unfortunately death-defining moment, as well. Unfortunately, the tiara – the diadem – is lost in a crossfire of spells… I believe it’s actually a Cruciatus Curse [that] hits the bust that Harry had placed the diadem on and it goes flying. Harry obviously can’t find the diadem. He’s desperate to try and search around and find it. And we then see Crabbe attempt an Avada Kedavra curse on Ron and Harry. And at that point we don’t care what happens in this scene; if you have AK’d our heroes, you’re going to die.
Michael: [laughs] Yep, you’re dead.
Rosie: We see the trio desperately try and find each other; Harry manages to find the diadem, Ron and Crabbe are dueling and running at each other and running off, and at that moment, Crabbe creates an enchanted fire, a spell that Harry has no knowledge of. And we see that there are flaming beasts of all types contained in this fire. I’ve actually got the description here in front of me because I just love this imagery. It says, “It was not normal fire; Crabbe had used a curse of which Harry had no knowledge: As they turned a corner the flames chased them as though they were alive, sentient, intent upon killing them. Now the fire was mutating, forming a gigantic pack of fiery beasts: Flaming serpents, chimaeras, and dragons rose and fell and rose again, and the detritus of sentries on which they were feeding was thrown up in the air into their fanged mouths, tossed with high on clawed feet, before being consumed by the inferno.”
Michael: It’s beautiful.
Rosie: Just beautiful description.
Michael: It’s like a sea of animal fire.
Rosie: It is, and that’s so amazing. Beautiful imagery.
Michael: Yeah, that’s definitely one of my favorites.
Rosie: If I can ever get my students to write anything as amazing as that, I will be a very happy teacher.
Michael: [laughs] You’ll have done your job.
Rosie: But what strikes me is… We have chimaeras here, we’ve got fire serpents, [and] we’ve got dragons. What we don’t have is a phoenix. And we know that phoenixes have been such a strong symbol of fire; that these creatures seem to be the anti-phoenix… They are the evil, all-consuming destruction, whereas the phoenix may have some destructive qualities but ultimately is the rebirth image and is the life after the fire. Here, there is no life after this fire. It is only consuming whatever it comes across.
Michael: It raises questions – that aren’t answered – about what is the fate of the Room of Requirement at this point? Because we may never know. Because Fiendfyre… Woe betide the student who is next to open the Room of Requirement’s door, trying to hide something.
Rosie: And every single student at Hogwarts knows about it now, as well, so they can go and try.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: Don’t go in there. That’ll be the giant room that’s now the Room of What Not to Do With Your Wand, I guess. It’s an example of bad spellmaking.
Caleb: That was one of my big questions; what actually happens after this, but also, how Crabbe even learns this spell in the first place.
Rosie: Yes. So Ron…
Caleb: Unless we know and I’m just forgetting.
Rosie: Actually, Harry says in the next section of this chapter that he thinks that the Carrows must have taught it to him.
Caleb: Oh, yeah, that’s right.
Rosie: And Ron jokes, “What a shame that he wasn’t listening when they told him how to control it.” But we’ll get on to more of that in a moment when Hermione describes exactly what it is.
Robyn: I hope that Filch just puts some caution tape around it, just so he can get to it later.
Caleb: Oh my God.
Michael: [laughs] The thing I wonder about with that is – because the Room of Many Things is assumed by many to be the room’s natural state, [or] the room proper – does that break the other versions of the room? Can you not make another room now? Or can the room be made into something else and the fire just keeps burning on in the Room of Many Things?
Rosie: Well, you can’t walk past it. The door is no longer there once they leave the room.
Robyn: Yeah, you just keep walking past it, and you just wish for a room that’s not on fire.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Yeah, there you go.
Michael: That’ll fix it. [laughs]
Rosie: It’ll be interesting to see whether these questions are answered in Cursed Child because we are going to see the children of our trio. They are presumably going to be Hogwarts-aged, and we hopefully will see some of Hogwarts within that play. Whether we do or not, I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see when that comes out.
Robyn: [mimicking a small child’s voice] “I found a room full of fire at school, Daddy!” [in an adult voice] “Don’t go in there!”
Michael: Just don’t. Please, don’t.
Rosie: Or maybe they will find a very burned, charred room with the skeleton of Crabbe inside.
Caleb: Oh, dear.
Michael: A pile of ash and a skeleton.
Rosie: It’s a very dark place. [laughs] But before we even leave the room, we see that our favorite magical item – the broomstick – is going to save the day. And again, we have this lovely flashback to the opening books, [Book] 1 and [Book] 2, where broomsticks are so important; either finding that key to that room or escaping from… actually, not escaping; flying down to the Chamber of Secrets. Are there broomsticks going down to the Chamber of Secrets? I’m pretty sure there are.
Michael: Are there what?
Rosie: Broomsticks involved in Chamber of Secrets.
Caleb: There are.
Rosie: There’s a slide, and then a fall. Am I imagining broomsticks?
Michael: No, I think they might have taken broomsticks when… [Harry] and Ron might have taken broomsticks because they had to get back up.
Rosie: That’s true. They definitely had broomsticks a second ago when they were getting the teeth, yeah; the fangs, yeah. But we see that Ron immediately grabs Hermione and they ride on a broomstick together. Harry rides on his own by himself, until he returns to save Draco. He also tries to save Goyle, but it says that Goyle is too heavy for Harry and Draco to get onto their broomstick. But then Ron and Hermione are able to get him onto theirs instead, which just seems a bit odd to me. Ron has obviously got a three-seater broom. [laughs]
Robyn: I think that’s because he’s trying to carry Draco and Goyle at the same time because Goyle is unconscious and so I think that by getting one at a time on each broomstick, it’s probably easier.
Rosie: Right. I don’t even know if Draco makes it properly onto the broomstick, either. Again, it might be a movie scene that I think he carries him literally dangling from the broomstick. Am I imagining that?
Michael: I don’t know. Let’s see.
Rosie: I can’t remember if that’s actually in the book.
Michael: No, Malfoy is on the broom. He’s tight on the broom. He’s screaming about getting to the door, as if Harry doesn’t know what he’s supposed to be doing right now. Very helpful, Malfoy.
Rosie: So luckily, our heroes manage to save their greatest villains. I think it’s a lovely, fitting final showdown to have. It’s basically a mini boss battle before the big boss battle in gaming terms. We couldn’t have a final book and a final war and a final battle scene without having to defeat our mini-arch nemeses as well, before the major one comes up later on. If we had this book without Draco there would just be something missing.
Michael: And Malfoy loses so beautifully.
Rosie: He does. Not only does he lose, but he literally loses one of his cronies, as Crabbe does not make it out of the room.
Michael: That’s what you get for playing with Avada Kedavra and Fiendfyre.
Rosie: Definitely. Always know how to control your dangerous spells.
Rosie: As they leave the room, they take a moment to take a breath. They look around and the door has disappeared. But the Headless Hunt runs past. Again, a lovely flashback to Book 1 and the Deathday Party.
Robyn: That’s Book 2.
Rosie: The battle is still going strong… Was it Book 2?
Michael: Yeah, Chamber of Secrets. [laughs]
Rosie: I’m a bad fan.
Michael: You’re just caught up in the excitement of battle, Rosie.
Rosie: I am so caught up in this chapter.
Michael: You don’t even have a wand. You’re carrying a spear into battle. [laughs]
Rosie: A spear with badger designs on it.
Rosie: The battle is still going strong. Harry can hear plenty of screams around. He’s panicked for a moment when he realizes that Ginny is currently nowhere to be seen. Although he’s not sure whether she would be able to make it back into the room, he is desperate to know where she is and that she is safe. Hermione points out that there is something on Harry’s arm. At that moment, he remembers that he did actually pick up the diadem. The diadem made it out of the room with him, but it is already bleeding a black and tarry substance, and it’s described as giving off a faint scream of pain, which is such a small reaction compared to the other Horcruxes that we’ve seen.
Rosie: And I’m wondering whether the reasons for that are either… Well, there could be three reasons for it as far as I can see. One, the Fiendfyre killed it in such a destructive manner that perhaps we just missed some kind of bigger reaction, or it’s just a more subtle death because this is almost like a slow burn death rather than an immediate, violent stabbing. The second reason could be that when Voldemort put a section of his soul into the diadem, it would have been a smaller section.
Robyn: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.
Rosie: It was less powerful than the diary and the locket because it is later than the other two, so it would be a sixth of his soul by that point, or a fifth of his soul, rather than the full half. If we’re thinking about the splitting as in half, and then that half is halved, and then that half is halved, and therefore it gets smaller and smaller. Or the third reason could be that the Horcruxes need feeding, and the reason why the locket and the diary had such major reactions and such major deaths is for the exact same reason [that] Riddle from the diary was able to almost come to full life. Because throughout the year with the diary, Ginny and Harry had been feeding that diary. They’d been writing in it; they’d been offering parts of their life [and] parts of their souls to really nourish that section of the Horcrux and allow it to almost take on a full form. With the locket, they wore it close to their hearts; they discussed their worries and they could all feel it stealing some life energy from them, and that’s what caused them to be so irritable. So for this diadem, which has been left abandoned in a room with no one knowing where it was for so long, perhaps it’s just literally out of juice. It’s had no contact with people for it to become anything more than just a tiny section of a very destroyed soul already, and that is why the reaction was so weak.
Michael: I think it’s a combo of one and three of your reasons, that it already got destroyed when Harry was carrying it through by the Fiendfyre because it got hit with the Fiendfyre early on when Harry saw it flying through the air, which, boy was that lucky.
Michael: I also agree that it hasn’t had anything to really feed on like the other Horcruxes do when they get destroyed. I also think narratively we don’t need to see another big boom Horcrux.
Michael: There’s no reason for that right now. There [are] so many more important things going on. And even narratively, Harry even is like, “Oh, yeah, I’m holding it.” So there’s no reason to make a hullabaloo about it. The big moment was more the confrontation with Malfoy.
Rosie: Yeah, and that’s quite nice. It does foreground the importance of those mini-bosses compared to the item that was the…
Michael: I’m just crushed because a beautiful historical object has just been destroyed. People have been searching for that diadem forever. Voldemort just ruins everything.
Rosie: Well, no one knew that it had been found, so really…
Michael: Yeah, I guess they don’t have to tell anyone.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Hermione points out that it must have been Fiendfyre because that was one of the only other things that could have destroyed a Horcrux.
Michael: How convenient! [laughs]
Rosie: Yes, how convenient. [laughs] She does say that she would never dare use it because it was so uncontrollable, and it’s at that moment that Harry says that Crabbe must’ve learned it from the Carrows and the very Dark magic shows how far Hogwarts had fallen during the year if that’s what was being taught.
Caleb: So I brought that question up earlier because I’m not sure if… I didn’t buy that this is the way he learns it at first. I mean, it’s possible. I just was thinking maybe there’s another way [or there are] other times he and Goyle are exposed to, alongside Draco, Dark magic.
Caleb: Like he’s seen Draco mess with some stuff in the dungeon and they never really were confident to try it on their own, or Draco never really let them on their own and now he just recklessly tries something.
Rosie: I think we have to remember that Crabbe and Goyle are Death Eaters’ sons as well.
Caleb: Right, yeah.
Rosie: We don’t really know much about their parents because they are just seen as Malfoy’s cronies, but it’s entirely possible that their parents are very skilled magical Death Eaters and that they could’ve seen some really dark things in their own childhoods. I don’t think we ever see their mothers.
Michael: No, we see both of their fathers. It’s just their fathers.
Michael: And they’re like adult clones of them, so that’s not very informative.
Michael: When you pointed out, Rosie, about Hermione espousing the little lesson about Fiendfyre, I can see now where Eric was coming from with standing on his soapbox talking about, “Why doesn’t Harry ever take an interest in that book Hermione read about Horcruxes?”
Rosie: [laughs] Yeah.
Michael: Because this is a moment where, [as Harry] “Oh, really? Fiendfyre? Something you might have mentioned before.” [back to normal voice> She reasons it away by saying, [as Hermione], “I’m talented, but Fiendfyre, no, that’s a horrible idea. We were in the woods, there were trees.” [back to normal voice]
Michael: But at the same time, it’s just so funny to me. And I can see what Eric was saying now; that idea that there’s this plethora of information about Horcruxes that Hermione knows and not only does she not…
Rosie: Harry is not…
Michael: Yeah, well, she doesn’t only not share it; Harry and Ron take no interest in having her tell them about it.
Michael: This seems like important information for them to have known.
Rosie: Especially when Ron left the tent in the Forest of Dean and all that stuff because he felt like they weren’t getting anywhere and they were not looking at destroying any Horcruxes.
Rosie: To not even bother asking about how to destroy Horcruxes is just ridiculous. “I’m so desperate to destroy this thing that is going to be the ultimate thing that I have to do before possibly dying! But don’t tell me how; I want to find it out myself.” It’s just… what? No.
Michael: Well, it’s lucky that the information comes out of Hermione the way it does and when it does…
Michael: … because we are trained to trust Hermione. So when she says, [as Hermione] “Fiendfyre is possible, but I didn’t want to use it because we could’ve all died,” [back to normal voice] then you’re like, “Okay, they could have all died. That’s why we didn’t use Fiendfyre.”
Robyn: All right, I accept. That’s fine.
Michael: Crabbe just died using it, so we’ll just go along with that.
Rosie: I’m fairly sure she does mention it earlier on. We do have a snippet of information about how to destroy Horcruxes earlier when we find Gryffindor’s sword; possibly before that, when they talk about actually getting Gryffindor’s sword. So not when they actually hold it, but when they first find out that it’s missing and when they try and find out where it is.
Rosie: So when Dumbledore leaves it to them they think, “Well, he must’ve left it because it would be able to destroy Horcruxes because of the Basilisk venom.” And I think in that mention of basilisks there is a mention of Fiendfyre.
Michael: And we briefly… We’ve potentially seen Fiendfyre before because it’s supposed by the fandom that that’s the everlasting fire on the branch that Dumbledore gives to Hagrid to give to the giants.
Robyn and Rosie: Oh.
Michael: And of course, Dumbledore would probably be one of the few people who could just put fire on a branch and it’s Fiendfyre but he wouldn’t kill himself.
Rosie: Yes. The other theories with Dumbledore and Fiendfyre is the fire that he uses in the cave of the Inferi…
Michael: Is Fiendfyre.
Rosie: … could be Fiendfyre, and also the fire serpent that he creates while fighting Voldemort in the Ministry.
Michael: Is Fiendfyre.
Rosie: Which is very clear in the movie, but could also be Fiendfyre.
Michael: Yeah, well, in the Ministry it’s probably even more likely because Voldemort manipulates it into the shape of the snake.
Rosie: Yes. Yeah.
Michael: So that could definitely be the case.
Rosie: But obviously, that’s Dumbledore.
Rosie: And if anyone could control Fiendfyre, it would be Dumbledore.
Michael: Being him.
Rosie: I definitely trust Hermione in not attempting.
Michael: No, that was probably a good idea.
Rosie: Yeah. But having had that little bit of a lesson about Fiendfyre and a little bit of a dig at the Carrows, they realize that really, there’s only one Horcrux left, as far as they know: And that is the destruction of the snake, which is, of course, the hardest of the Horcruxes to get to because it will be constantly guarded. It will be at Voldemort’s side. And so we are beginning the end of this chapter. We see that the Death Eaters are now inside Hogwarts. There are two dueling Percy and Fred as they come around the corner. We see that Fred is dueling an unnamed, masked Death Eater while Percy is actually dueling Pius Thicknesse whose mask slips and we are able to see who it is. Percy yells out, “Hello, Minister!” and sends a neat jinx straight at Thicknesse who drops his wand, and Percy then jokes, “Did I mention I’m resigning?” So that is what we were talking about earlier with the fact that Percy must, technically, have still been working at the Ministry. Whether the Ministry is still functional in that regard, we’ll leave up to you guys to imagine. Fred then shouts out, “You’re joking, Perce!” and, “You actually are joking, Perce… I don’t think I’ve heard you joke since you were – “ dot, dot, dot.
Rosie: And I’m just going to read this because there really is no other way to do this moment justice. Fred has succeeded against his own Death Eater; he has turned around to make this joke – to laugh with his brother for a change, not at him – and it says,
“The air exploded… in that fragment of a moment, when danger seemed temporarily at bay, the world was rent apart.”
Rosie: And we see that all the characters are knocked off their feet, and Harry experiences momentary… almost like shell shock. We really sense that cloudiness of his brain where he doesn’t really know what’s going on for a few moments until he can regain his feet and regain his senses, and then it reads,
”… he heard a terrible cry that pulled at his insides, that expressed agony of a kind neither flame nor curse could cause, and he stood up, swaying, more frightened than he had been that day, more frightened, perhaps, than he had been in his life… And Hermione was struggling to her feet in the wreckage, and three redheaded men were grouped on the ground where the wall had blasted apart. Harry grabbed Hermione’s hand as they staggered and stumbled over stone and wood. ‘No – no – no!’ someone was shouting. ‘No! Fred! No!’ And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred’s eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.”
Rosie: And that is the end of the chapter.
Robyn: Oh, geez.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: Oh, geez. [laughs] Oh, no.
Michael: Oh, golly.
Caleb: This is always the hardest part for me to revisit any time I’m rereading. It’s the hardest death for me to deal with…
Caleb: … even though Fred is not… I love Fred and George. They’re not my favorite characters. I still love them a lot; they’re just not my favorite. So I think out of characters who die who are my favorite, Tonks is actually probably the highest. But for me, this moment is always really tough because the thought of losing a sibling…
Caleb: … because I’m extremely close with my siblings and have a brother who’s really close to me in age – not a twin, but we’re only two years apart – and there’s just something… and this bleeds into the next chapter some, but there’s just something so visceral about the way Jo writes this scene that is just so, so damaging, and I can never get over this moment.
Robyn: And can you imagine knowing that you’re in the middle of a war, knowing that something really awful just happened, and being surrounded by people that you care about and hearing one of those people yelling? Even if you don’t know what happened yet, the feeling that you get in your stomach would be terrifying.
Rosie: Yeah, the terrible cry that pulled at his insides, expressing the agony. Yeah, it’s just a horrific description, and yet – I’ve said this word too many times in this chapter – but it’s a beautiful piece of description in that weird way that something can be so terrible and beautiful at the same time.
Michael: I was absolutely mortified when I read this because just the day before at my Harry Potter party, I had all my friends over at my house and we were talking about who we thought would die and I had said, totally facetiously… I said, “She wouldn’t kill a twin. That would be taboo.”
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Michael: And then this happened.
Rosie: And she did.
Michael: Oopsy-daisy. That was… I couldn’t believe… and that really… I think that is the hardest-hitting thing; yeah, I think we had all talked at the party…
Michael: … that we expected a Weasley to die because we were like, “Well, there [are] so many of them; one of them is not going to make it. At least one.”
Michael: But we were sure it wouldn’t be Fred or George.
Michael: That just totally took us all by shock. And as I said last week, and what I think hits me the most about this death – as sad as it is, the actual loss of Fred itself – I really think the part that hits me most now when I read it is Percy’s reaction.
Robyn and Rosie: Yeah.
Robyn: For sure.
Michael: And I think that’s why… It’s so sad to me that there are people in the fandom who still get upset that Fred died and Percy lived because I think that if you see why that choice was made, you see why it’s truly so sad that Fred is the one who dies.
Michael: It’s all written in here, this moment, that Fred and Percy have one last moment where they’re rekindling their brotherhood and then it’s lost immediately. I think that’s… this is why this death stands out; we literally see the Weasleys, the closest-knit family of the Harry Potter series, be torn apart.
Robyn: And if any of the other Weasleys had died, it would still be just as bad.
Robyn: It’s tragic that Fred died, it would be tragic if Percy died, it would be tragic if George died… if any of them died. No one’s ever going to be happy.
Michael: No. I think…
Rosie: But I do think that there is an element of Jo playing with accepted notions of tragedy here…
Rosie: … because narratively, if we were going by standard tragic plots…
Michael: Percy would die.
Rosie: … the characters who should die, in this moment, would be: Percy because he is the one that had just had that chance of redemption and then had it snatched away.
Rosie: It would be Ron because he is the main figure of the trio, and if we were going to lose one of the trio, I do think it would be Ron, and we know that Jo had previously planned on killing Ron at some point and thankfully backed out of that plan.
Robyn: Thank God.
Rosie: Yeah. [laughs] There would be no reason to kill Charlie or Bill simply because they are not characters who are big enough and close enough to us. We’ve already seen George lose an ear so it’s not going to be George. And so Fred was the one that really… he had no reason to die, and therefore it’s the most tragic for him to die.
Rosie: We almost expect it to be Percy, but instead it’s Fred and that makes it worse.
Michael: And that’s what war really is.
Rosie: Yeah, it’s the ones that shouldn’t die.
Michael: Yeah, you can’t…
Rosie: Not that anyone should die. [laughs]
Michael: No, well, you can’t point to people who are going into war and pick out who’s going to die and who isn’t. I think when you go… okay, so that’s something that I think a lot… and like you said, Rosie, narrative expectations…
Michael: … and since I mentioned Jurassic Park before, you could go to the – not so much with the first one because the first one is actually really well-written – but you could go to the Jurassic Park sequels and you could point at each cast member and figure out who’s going to die very easily.
Michael: You can do that in a horror movie, when you go to see a horror movie. If it’s a typical, not very well-thought-out horror movie, you can point to who’s going to die. That’s why there [are] movies like Scream because they turn that on its head purposefully.
Michael: And that’s what Rowling, in a way, is doing here. She’s turning, like you said, that expectation on its head. But I think in this instance, there is more of an emotional payoff because of it than there would be otherwise.
Michael: The way that this all adds up just, I think, works so much better and is so much more effective than any of the other choices she had.
Rosie: And of course, we’re going to be discussing that in so much detail next episode because we’ll be seeing the aftermath of his death and how it so, so badly affects Harry and just completely changes how he views the battle and what’s going on. But before we finish this discussion – before we move on to our Question of the Week – I really just wanted to pick out the beauty of this paragraph and this closing reveal of this book… of this chapter, not book. The wall explodes, the air explodes, and we do have this sense of, as a reader, we are that narrator, we are that character, and we are knocked to the ground as well. As Harry slowly regains his senses, the first thing that we get back is our hearing. And we hear that terrible cry. But we do not know who it’s come from. We do not know anything about that cry, and we immediately guess that it means that someone has died, but we don’t know who. And having just previously had that moment of Ron and Hermione getting together, immediately we feel that intense horror of, “Hang on a second, you haven’t just killed Ron, have you? It’s not Hermione that’s screaming. Or it’s not Ron that’s screaming because Hermione’s dead.” And we get a very slow reveal, person by person, as to who has survived. We know that Harry survived because he’s our main narrator and he’s the one that’s talking to us. He stands up and looks around, and we get the reveal that Hermione is thankfully struggling to her feet, so Hermione is not the one that’s died. So the two of them together, having survived, means it must have been a Weasley. We then get a description where all three Weasleys are on the ground together. So we know that if one of them has died, we’re not going to get it straight away. We don’t know who it’s going to be. Harry and Hermione have to band together and walk over to discover who it is. We have the screaming and the, “No! No! Fred! No!” But that’s not confirmation of his death. It’s a slow, sinking feeling of, “Is it Fred? That’s horrible.” We have Percy shaking his brother. We don’t know which brother, but Ron is kneeling beside them, so it’s not going to be Ron. And then finally we have that confirmation that Fred’s eyes “stared without seeing,” and “the ghost of his last laugh.” Just that imagery of: Here is our light relief. Here is our comedian. Here is our clown figure, but he is the one that has turned this comedy into a tragedy. And as an English teacher, as an English major, as someone who just loves creative writing and the beauty that we can create from words… and I’ve said “beauty” way too many times in this chapter.
Michael: It’s an oddly beautiful chapter. It’s one of my favorite in Deathly Hallows because it is… you just get this…
Rosie: It’s just so wonderfully crafted.
Michael: Yes. This is one of those chapters that’s one of the best to hold up as evidence of just how careful Rowling can be with her writing and how well planned out things are in advance because everything comes together. The puzzle comes together so elegantly here. The picture that’s created by the puzzle is so satisfying, I think, compared to a lot.
Rosie: And anyone who scoffs at children’s literature and says Harry Potter is not [an] adult book [series] and says that children’s literature can’t be great literature, read this chapter. Analyze this chapter, and you will see that it stands up far beyond most of what you will consider great literature; just as storytelling, as beautiful imagery, as all of those things. This is a wonderful piece of literature.
Michael: And as much as we don’t feel, perhaps, sorry for the other death that occurs here with Crabbe, I think it’s really gut-punching to see that we’ve just lost two people who we were familiar with as students of Hogwarts. We’re losing young people. Those are the first people to go, not the older crowd. And I think that’s what always takes me aback about these battle scenes. You’re not seeing adults fall. You’re seeing the young adults and the teens fall first. It’s pretty horrifying imagery. But as Rosie said, also bizarrely beautiful.
[Michael and Rosie laugh]
Rosie: And of course, with that… I don’t… It’s kind of a cliffhanger, but it’s not because the answer is already revealed to us. There’s nothing we can do to redeem the situation. But with that emotional cliffhanger, we have come to the end of the chapter.
Caleb: All right. It is now time for our Question of the Week. “We know that Arthur Weasley was originally planned to die earlier in the series, and that Rowling at least considered killing Ron. In the end, Fred took the fall for the Weasley family. It seems Rowling had it in mind from the start that some Weasley family member would die. But why? Why do we think it was so important to Rowling that a member of this critical family die? And do we think that Fred was, for lack of better wording, the right choice?” So let us know that you think from that question. Send it in, and it may show up as one of our responses in next week’s episode.
Rosie: And all that remains for us to do after this action-packed episode is thank our wonderful guest, Robyn. We hope you’ve enjoyed your time on the show.
Robyn: Yeah, I had a really great time. I’m really excited to see what you guys do next.
Michael: And Robyn, remind everybody where they can find you online with your podcast.
Robyn: Right. Sure. You can find me on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, on Facebook at facebook.com/openthedumbledore, on Tumblr at @AlohomoraMN, [and] our main website alohomora.mugglenet.com, where you can also download a ringtone for free, or you can send us an owl to AudioBoom and you can find that on our home page, alohomora.mugglenet.com. And it is free, just try to keep it under 60 seconds so we can use it for the show.
Rosie: And just a quick final reminder once more to check out our Patreon page. I really can’t believe how close to the end we are, but we do have some brilliant post-Hallows plans. You can find them right now if you go onto our Patreon page. It’s