Transcript – Episode 168

[Show music begins]

Michael Harle: This is Episode 168 of Alohomora! for December 12, 2015.

[Show music continues]

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

Alison Siggard: I’m Alison Siggard.

Kat Miller: And I’m Kat Miller. And our very special fan host today is DeAnna. Welcome!

DeAnna Oldham: Thank you. Hi!

Kat: Hi! Thank you so much for joining us today.

DeAnna: Thank you for having me.

Kat: Absolutely.

DeAnna: I’ve been listening since 2012, so I’m really excited.

Alison and Kat: Ooh!

Kat: Since the beginning! That’s fabulous. Thank you.

DeAnna: Close. I think you were on the second book when I started, but not too far behind.

Kat: Well, that’s pretty much the beginning to us, so…

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.

DeAnna: Well, I’m 31. I’m a stay at home mom of three little girls who have not read Harry Potter yet but are somehow obsessed with it anyway. And I was late to the party. I was the perfect age to read it when it first came out, but thought I was too cool for it. So I ignored it until I was 25 and now I am obsessed.

Michael: Oh my goodness.

DeAnna: I have mixed feelings on that because I’m a little sad that I didn’t read it as it was coming out because I would have had more time, but the plus side is I got to binge read the series. I didn’t have to wait three years in between books, and I’m not sure I would have appreciated it as much as a teenager as I did as an adult.

Michael: Huh! Well that’s an interesting… we don’t hear that perspective very often.

Alison and Kat: Yeah!

Kat: I was just going to say, that’s a new one. That’s good. So, hmm…

Michael: DeAnna, you told us before we started recording that you had sorted yourself and that one of your daughters got sorted in the same house. What house was that?

DeAnna: It was Hufflepuff.

Alison: Yay!

DeAnna: I proudly consider myself a Huffleclaw.

Michael: Ah.

DeAnna: Pottermore sorted me into Hufflepuff twice and Ravenclaw once, and another random “What House Do You Belong In?” quiz put me in Ravenclaw. So, rather than saying Ravenpuff I say Huffleclaw because I tend to be more Hufflepuff.

Michael: Oh, I like that. The Hufflepuff revolution is still going strong right now.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: It is the time of the Hufflepuff, the age of the Hufflepuff.

Michael: They have a stage play in New York now, so…

Kat: Oh, yeah! I just read about that.

Alison: Which looks really interesting.

Michael: The chapter is pretty strictly dealing with Gryffindors and one of the biggest Gryffindors of all. This week, we are examining Chapter 18 of Deathly Hallows, “The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.” Listeners, make sure and read that chapter before listening to this episode. It should be easy for you to do because it’s only twelve pages long. So make sure and read that to get the most out of the conversation from today’s episode.

Kat: But, as usual, before we jump into that we’re going to talk about last week’s episode, which was on Chapter 17, a much longer chapter than today’s chapter. It was “Bathilda’s Secret.” Ooh. Very fancy.

Michael: Ooh, secret…

Kat: Yeah. Scary. So our first comment here comes from Casey L. It says,

“About Voldemort’s encounter with Lily ñ don’t forget, Snape has asked him to spare Lily’s life. I wondered if this was evidence Voldemort at least considered his request. I honestly don’t think Voldemort would have spared a thought about killing her if not for this ñ after all, we know he doesn’t have qualms about killing innocent people. Neither James nor Lily was armed. If they’d been ‘sensible,’ neither of them truly needed to die, so why would he consider saving just one of them?”

So this stemmed from a conversation about when Harry goes into Voldemort’s memories and sees the moments when he’s walking up to the house and when he kills his dad and then he goes upstairs to kill Harry, but maybe potentially spare Lily. There was a lot of good conversation about that last week and I had forgot that that was actually a thing, that Voldemort actually considered that for even a split second.

Michael: I didn’t forget that Voldemort gave Lily the option, but I forgot that it was pretty much all Snape’s doing.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Because I… interestingly enough, with how well the adaptation of “The Prince’s Tale” is done in the film, they kind of leave that part out, that Snape was the reason that Voldemort even told Lily to move over. So it kind of gets lost in that. But yeah, that’s the big part that I forgot, was that… I think it’s always been when that does come up, it’s kind of always amazing to me to… that really speaks to how high up in Voldemort’s circle Snape must have been to even get that from him, because yes, I agree totally that no, Voldemort would never have asked her to step aside. He would have just killed her.

Alison: But I don’t think that he would have let her live, either. I still think he would have ended up killing her. He has that line where he thinks that, what is it, it would be more prudent to finish them all or something?

Kat and Michael: Mhm.

Alison: So I think he would have… Because, like you said, Snape is so high up and he trusts him so much, he would be like, “Well, I tried and then I did it anyway!”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Ha ha ha! Evil genius. Yeah.

Alison: So I don’t think she would have survived anyway. Well, I mean… she probably would have had things played out the way they did.

Kat: I’ve always thought that maybe he would have imprisoned her and Imperiused her to do his bidding if she had indeed lived. I don’t think that she would have ever lived freely, even if he had spared her but I do think that Voldemort would have used her in some way.

Alison: Well, but here’s where the question comes is, would Harry have still lived? Because if Harry had lived and it still rebounded to Voldemort – I’ve had this question for so long – would… then Lily then could’ve still raised Harry. Which almost makes this even worse is that had she actually done it, Harry would still…

Kat: Well, Harry wouldn’t have lived because Lily wouldn’t have sacrificed herself for him.

Alison: But is that the only reason that he lives? Or…

Michael: Yeah, because that…

Kat: Yeah, pretty much.

Michael: That’s what makes the accidental Horcrux happen. Because if Voldemort… basically because of Lily’s curse, the Avada Kedavra springs back on Voldemort and so that separates his soul by accident.

Kat: Okay, so this theory… this is where the cat would’ve come into play. The cat would’ve been the Horcrux, right?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yes, because there’s a… the Horcrux is looking for a living thing in the vicinity so it attached to Harry.

Alison: But… okay, maybe I’ve just read this wrong or understood this wrong. Doesn’t some of the rebounding curse have to do with the prophecy? The “mark him as equal” part?

Kat: I think that’s only decision-based. That’s like if I told you, “Alison, you’re going to gain twelve pounds because you’re going to eat chocolate for an entire month,” and then you went ahead and did it, that’s your own decision.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Don’t do that, by the way. Don’t do that.

Alison: Yeah, no, that’s okay. I like chocolate, but…

Michael: That’s the thing where the prophecy doesn’t… the prophecy is not so much something that controls everything. I think we kind of decided… we had a big discussion with that in Order. But really what the prophecy doesn’t control as so much as it just… Dumbledore has that big discussion too at the end of Half-Blood where he’s like, “Well, would it have still happened without the prophecy? Would these things have happened the way they did? Is the prophecy just a catalyst or does it actually control people’s actions? Yadda, yadda, yadda. I always assumed that Lily’s curse is what enacts the Horcrux to happen because otherwise he would’ve just killed Harry. Harry would’ve just died.

Alison: Okay, I never thought of it that way.

DeAnna: I [unintelligible] agree with that, but I have to say that there is no case whatsoever that Lily wouldn’t have sacrificed herself. I mean, coming in as a mom…

Michael: No.

Alison: Oh yeah, of course not.

DeAnna: There’s no way that you would ever be like, “Okay, sure I’ll move. Kill my son.”

Michael: Yeah, no that’s never going to happen. Even… you know, I think she was smart enough to know that Voldemort was not going to spare any of their lives. I think she already knew that, despite what he was saying, that she wasn’t going to come out of it alive anyway and she certainly thought Harry wasn’t. She certainly knew Harry wasn’t going to. I think the confusing part is that Rowling has told us that there is actually a ritual and a spell to make a Horcrux, and that that’s what Voldemort did for his previous ones. That’s why, again, I’m assuming that Lily’s protection is really what makes it happen because it’s an accident and Voldemort is not even aware that it’s happened, and he obviously wasn’t non-verbally thinking the Horcrux spell.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: And Jo has even said that Harry is not a true Horcrux.

Alison and Michael: Yes.

Michael: Yeah, that’s right. It’s an “oopsie” Horcrux.

Kat: Right. All right, so since we’re going to stay on the Potter train here, and this one is from Quote_The_Ravenclaw. That’s very clever. Caw!

Michael: We’re about to “quote the Ravenclaw.”

Kat: We are, that’s right. We are. To quote the Ravenclaw – ah, so meta – the comment says,

“I think that the Potter house was not rebuilt afterwards because it was not necessarily the best way to memorialize them, but the most effective way. One of the reasons for leaving the house destroyed was to remind the rest of the wizarding world of the violence that occurred there. Essentially creating a way to hopefully prevent something like this occurring in the future using a visual narrative. An example of this in the muggle world are the Sarajevo roses. The mortar shell craters that were made during the Bosnian war in the 1990s were later filled in with a red resin giving a stark contrast against the black pavement so that people would have a visual reminder of the atrocities and fruitlessness of war.”

First off, I didn’t know that.

Alison and Michael: I didn’t either.

Kat: That is a terrifying image and thus proves her point. Or his point.

Alison: Also, backing that up: If you guys have been to the Studio Tour, when you walk by the Potter house… I forgot because you can’t really see it in the film, but they did a great job of showing that whole roof crumbling. It was just… oh, it was a moment. It’s a moment to stand in front of that set and just… it just reminds you, because I think we’re kind of removed from it in the books, in the movies a little bit. Except for this moment, but just to be like, “Wow. Basically a bomb went off in this house.”

Kat: Yet again proving Quote_The_Ravenclaw’s point because you stood in front of it. Somebody who’s only reading about it and not living it, and then… ooh, yeah.

Alison: Exactly.

Michael: Yeah, that’s the thing about memorials. I still remember… because the discussion brought, of course, to my head the… after 9/11 there were years of discussion about what they should do with Ground Zero.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: They thought… there was even discussion of, “Well, let’s build them bigger, and that will show them!” which they thankfully did not do. They actually came up with a pretty classy memorial that went the other way, it went down. But sometimes they do build up, sometimes they rebuild, sometimes they do something more symbolic. And I think it makes sense to leave Lily and James’s house as it is. I think the other reason that it was probably left the way it was is because it… and I think it is mentioned in the book, but it was damaged by such dark magic that it is probably not easy to fix.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: I think Harry pontificates that fact, I’m not sure it is ever confirmed.

Michael: Explicitly said? Yeah. But I do think he does think about it when he is standing in front of the house. That makes sense to some degree. We’ve seen things before that have been so damaged by deep, dark magic that they cannot be repaired. So I think this would probably fall into that line. Who would want to go in there after that, anyway? Nobody wants to go in it.

Alison: Yeah, no.

Michael: That is a horrible thing to put yourself in the midst of.

Kat: All right, well, our next comment here… oh, guys, look! It is from Harry himself! He’s using his nickname, Roonil Wazlib!

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: He is using his nickname. That is so nice, I didn’t know he still used that.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Harry says here that,

“Can we talk about how the Locket Horcrux fused itself to Harry’s skin?! And Hermione had to use a Severing Charm to get it off, which sounds horrifying. Why did the Horcrux do that? We know it got excited when it sensed Nagini. Then Harry describes it as feeling very cold when he is on the floor and Nagini is crushing him. When he wakes up in the tent, he describes the mark on his chest as a burn. What exactly happened? Why was the Horcrux so determined to stay with Harry? Was this its way of protecting itself? Did it think that Nagini might accidentally destroy it?”

Alison: Ooh.

Kat: First off, that is like twelve questions in one. But very interesting, I had never thought so in-depth about that little burn mark before.

Michael: Yeah, I thought that the… and maybe I incorrectly assumed, but I feel like there is a multitude of things going on. I think the Horcrux simultaneously feels threatened, but it also simultaneously feels like the presence of another Horcrux.

Kat: Which there are actually two and a half, if you count Harry as a half, in the room at the moment.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. That is a lot of Voldemort’s soul that hasn’t been together for a long time.

Alison: VoldySoul party!

Michael: [laughs] Horcrux party! And two, there is a lot of… because we do know that the Horcrux does act to protect itself when it feels it is in danger, we’ll see that in the next chapter. But I think the Horcrux also seems to be stimulated by dark magic too.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: Because it is made of that, so it seems to have an affinity for dark magic, and Harry is currently surrounded by a lot of very dark magic in that moment. And I think the Horcrux is having a split personality moment where doesn’t know, it has been over-sensitized to everything that is going on around it.

Kat: Yeah, I did want to give, just quickly a shout-out to… I can’t remember who exactly said it – I think it was either Leigh or Caleb – last week, who mentioned that the reason Hermione’s spell rebounded is because she was shooting it at a Horcrux.

Alison: Oh!

Kat: I never, ever, ever thought of that before, and again, I can’t remember who said that, but they said it and I was like, “Holy crap! That is totally the reason it rebounded.”

Alison: Wow.

Kat: That blew my mind. Really. Shot right out the side of my head. That was brilliant.

Alison: Well, that changes things.

DeAnna: It almost makes me wonder if the Horcrux in the locket was trying to possess Harry, because that whole incident where he is unconscious for hours and seeing such vivid Voldemort thoughts, it almost makes you wonder what exactly is going on here. It is just a really weird thing. We’ve seen him get bits and pieces over the course of the series, but to be so engrossed in Voldemort’s memories and to feel it, it makes me wonder if it is possessing him, and that is why it is attaching to him?

Michael: I think the Horcrux amplified that, because what I thought that came from… and that is the other really weird thing that I do think the Horcrux is reacting to, is in that moment, Voldemort gets really, really close to them.

Alison: Yeah, true.

Michael: For about a split second, he is in the same room as they are. And that part of the narrative, the first time I read that chapter was very confusing, because it switches back and forth between what Harry is seeing and what Voldemort is seeing. Listeners, if you’ve ever played the game Portal, you’ll understand this. It is like when you shoot at two portals at the wall and you look in and you can actually see yourself. For people who haven’t played Portal, it is like if you put a mirror in front of you and then you put one behind you, you make an infinite loop. It’s Harry and Voldemort having that moment where they’re both seeing what each other is seeing. To me, that’s always what led into that memory; [it’s] because Voldemort is thinking about it because he’s back in Godric’s Hollow.

Alison: And I always thought Harry could see it because, well, we have that thing in Half-Blood Prince where Dumbledore says Voldemort is using Occlumency against Harry to keep them from mind-melding, right?

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: And so I always thought it was [that] Voldemort just loses control in that moment because he’s so back in that memory and because he just saw Harry and they’re in Godric’s Hollow, and so he doesn’t close himself off. And so Harry gets that memory because they’re melding again.

Michael: Yeah, well, and that’s almost like… you could say the flood gates have opened; that’s been closed for a long time.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: So maybe that’s why it’s such a big flood of such a really big memory; [it’s] because that connection has been closed off for a while.

Kat: Yeah, that could be why it’s significantly more powerful, too.

Michael: Yeah. But I think that it would be fair to suppose that the Horcrux might have something to do with that.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: So Harry goes on in his comment here… this was just kind of a funny thing; we don’t necessarily have to…

Michael: I love that you’re insisting on calling them Harry.

Kat: Well, I mean, that’s his nickname, right?

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: I know he’s trying to be sly and cool about it, but I mean, Jo listens so obviously Harry listens.

Michael: [laughs] Of course.

Kat: So this was much later down in the comments, a totally separate comment, but it says,

“Wouldn’t [it] make more sense for the fake Bathilda to be a [human] Death Eater using Polyjuice Potion? At this point, has Voldemort decided that all of his Death Eaters are totally incompetent?”

[Michael laughs]

Kat: And then it says,

“(I’m imagining that Voldy finishes devising this mission, looks around the Malfoys’ dining room at all his minions, and then says, ‘Yeahhh, I’m gonna have the snake do this one.’)”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: So that’s a good point.

Michael: I mean…

Alison and Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Michael: I’d say that’s fair because the Death Eaters have failed pretty much everything they’ve been tasked to do, as far as physically getting Harry to Voldemort. They’ve all screwed that up. And they’ve all had him in the palm of their hands.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Michael: So yeah. I mean, it’s kind of weird… I’m very curious as to what the timeline of this was. When did Nagini get there and do what she did?

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: And how long has she been doing that for, just waiting around? Because Hermione caught on right when Harry wanted to go to Godric’s. Way months ago, she thought that was a bad idea. But was Voldemort thinking about it around that same time or earlier?

Kat: Probably. I’m sure he always assumed that Harry would want to go back and would go there eventually.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: And Harry not having Dumbledore as guidance anymore probably… I think Voldemort assumed that Dumbledore would not let him go. So Harry being the reckless, “Hey, whatever, let’s do it,” kind of guy that he is, I’m sure Voldemort knows that about him.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: And since you mentioned hands and arms, there’s just one more comment here from Harry, which I love that he’s giving us all the insider info. This makes me so happy.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: But it says… somebody had made a ship for them and it’s Bathildagini, which I thought was really funny.

Michael: Ugh.

Kat: And it’s about the she-snake trying to light the candles, and it says,

“Harry and Hermione are thinking, ‘Oh, this poor old woman with her arthritic fingers can’t even light a candle…’ But really it’s just Nagini being like, ‘Aaaaahh halp how does this work I’ve never had arms before!'”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: And I read it and I just laughed really hard. So Harry – Roonil Wazlib – thank you so much. You’re hilarious.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: I appreciate it. But that wraps up our comments from last week. There were, I think, well near 200 this week, so definitely head over to and read the rest because they were brilliant. I was laughing a lot in the comments this week; you guys are absolutely hilarious. So give yourselves some claps on the back or something.

Alison: And now we’re going to move onto our Podcast Question of the Week responses from last week. And just to remind you what the question was, it said, “How exactly does the magic surrounding Nagini work? Is she consciously controlling Bathilda’s body, or is this some kind of preprogramming from Voldemort? Is this magic possible because she’s a Horcrux? Nagini is able to sense or see Harry and Hermione under the Invisibility Cloak, a Deathly Hallow, and she knows it is them despite their disguises. Is this because of a spell cast on her, because she can smell them, because she is a Horcrux, or something else entirely?” So our first comment this week comes from Joel Copling – sorry if I butchered your name – who says,

“In ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’ when Harry and Ron are using the Cloak of Invisibility together to see the Mirror of Erised, they come across Mrs. Norris, and Rowling writes that they both wonder if the Cloak works on cats (this question comes up again when Harry tries to investigate the Triwizard egg’s clue in the fourth novel). It’s an issue because Mrs. Norris isn’t a human being, and since the Cloak was made by humans with human knowledge of how magic works, it stands to reason that Mrs. Norris could have seen them (obviously, she only sensed the person using the Cloak, otherwise Harry and Ron would have been caught). So I think that Nagini, who was Bathilda Bagshot in disguise, *can* see through the Cloak. Perhaps there are some sort of magical properties to a snake’s eyes that Rowling has never discussed. It could also be that Nagini is a Horcrux, but I think that a snake’s eyes have some sort of magical property to them. Remember that the basilisk’s stare kills, and while we usually just attribute that to other literature, it could be simply because it’s such an evolved form of reptile that the eyes have fatal magic within them. As for the magic used to create this form of Bathilda/Nagini, I think it’s a simple matter of Voldemort killing Bathilda, making her into an Inferius, and then Transfiguring Nagini into the Inferius. I can’t be certain, obviously, but that’s the only explanation I could possibly come up with.”

Alison: And this sparked pretty much the whole debate in the rest of the comments. A lot of people agreed that somehow either Nagini was seeing or smelling them through the Cloak. Some people quoted in Order of the Phoenix when Harry is in that dream with Mr. Weasley, and how she can taste him in the air. And it also sparked a huge conversation on, “Is Bathilda an Inferi?” Or Inferius. However it’s singular.

Kat: Well, let me speak to the first point and… I just was looking back at the chapter and it actually says that Hermione hears something, and then Harry is like, “Well, we look like Muggles,” and then Hermione says, “Well, Muggles who’ve just been laying flowers on your parents’ grave. Harry, I’m sure there’s someone over there.” So I have a feeling that Bathilda/Nagini – Bathildagini…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: … just saw them at the grave and probably just had eyesight trained on the grave, realized that it was them – whether or not they had Polyjuice Potion – and even if it wasn’t them, she has to follow through.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Because what if it is them and she doesn’t follow through? Voldemort would, I don’t know, do whatever he would do to… I don’t want to think about that. But so I think that’s what it comes down to. I don’t buy it that Bathilda/Nagini… Bathildagini… I can’t say it right.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Bathildagini.

Kat: … can see through the Cloak. The smell thing, I guess, is probable, but you’d have to get pretty close to somebody to smell them, and they’re talking way before that happens.

Michael: Yeah, because the Mrs. Norris reference… that’s hard to use as a reference because one, Mrs. Norris is just a plain old cat. She’s not a Kneazle, so there’s nothing really, other than the idea that maybe cats have heightened senses… there’s never been confirmation one way or another. Rowling did mention that the reason that she figured out that Harry was on the stairs in Goblet of Fire is because he had bubble bath on him, so she was sensing that. I’m not sure about Sorcerer’s Stone, and so there’s never confirmation. But the thing is, Mrs. Norris isn’t really a magical creature in the way Nagini is, anyway. Nagini has been imbued with a lot of powers that Mrs. Norris doesn’t have at this point. But I’d say, yeah, that Nagini was… I’d think that would be obvious, right, for Nagini as Bathilda to be staking out probably the Potters’ old home and the graveyard, right?

Kat: Mhm.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Those are really the two main places she probably frequented while she was waiting for them to show up. And it was a good disguise, too, because nobody thought anything of Bathilda wandering around because she’s old and batty and everyone was leaving her alone anyway. I don’t know about the Inferi thing because I feel… Inferi is very dark magic, but this doesn’t feel like that because the body itself doesn’t have any control over itself.

DeAnna: And that was a big thing a lot of people brought up.

Michael: Yeah. it’s not a puppet in the same way because Nagini is controlling it, but I guess by extension Nagini is Voldemort in some ways in this case. So it could be, but it’s a different kind of Inferi than just the typical ones that we saw in Half-Blood Prince.

DeAnna: I think it may be a combination of both of Nagini. I think you’re right, Kat, in that she probably saw them standing at the grave and then watched them and maybe followed them out, and then after they put on the Cloak, she probably was close enough at that point that she could follow where they were going and then smell them to be certain they were there, or sense, or whatever snakes do. I don’t know. I don’t like snakes.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Or look at the footprints.

DeAnna: Yeah. That, too.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Well, our next comment comes from Hufflepuffskein, who’s talking about how maybe this whole Voldemort/Nagini puppet thing worked, and who said,

“I was thinking along the lines of programming listening to the discussion. I was wondering whether Voldemort may have ‘coded’ Nagini via magic to respond to specific situations in particular ways, sort of as Quote_the_Ravenclaw mentions. Much of programming and video game coding, for example, is based on if/then setups of actions that the programmer anticipates happening. So if the player comes to the area of the map with the river, a water running sound should play. What if Voldemort used similar magic to ‘program’ Nagini to carry out a specific set of actions as responses to Harry’s ‘input’? As others have said, this programming may have been all the more easy in these circumstances as Nagini-Horcrux may be an extension of Voldemort’s mind.”

Michael: Kat, you really started a thing with that software analogy.

Kat: I know.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Totally unintentional, but I appreciate it.

Michael: Just completely revising Harry Potter into a sci-fi story with computers. [laughs] Let’s see if we can make it the same story.

Kat: Yeah, somebody is going to publish it someday. I’m going to be like, “Damn it.”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: “That was my idea!” I mean, this would kind of explain why, and I don’t know if it’s… there’s multiple ways to explain that, but this would explain why Nagini is so bad at it. Because they ask her a bunch of questions and she just doesn’t do anything.

DeAnna: Yeah.

Kat: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute. She’s bad at it because she’s a snake…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Well, yeah.

Kat: … pretending to be a person.

Michael: That’s the obvious explanation, but the thing is, she can talk to Harry and Harry doesn’t think anything of it because they’re speaking Parseltongue. But the thing is, she didn’t even bother to make up answers when he was asking her stuff about… obviously, there was not as much research done here as there was when Crouch Jr. became Mad-Eye Moody.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Kat: Right, because Nagini can just sit around and read books and stuff.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Right, exactly.

DeAnna: Well, to say how slow I am, [on] my seventh read-through when it said that Hermione asked Nagini a question and she just ignored her like she didn’t hear her; I thought about it and I’m like, “That’s because she’s a snake and Hermione is not speaking Parseltongue so she does not know what she’s saying.” Only took me seven read-throughs to catch that.

Michael: Yeah, no, actually, the things that are going on with Nagini with Harry and Hermione in the scene are very subtly done. As crazy as the whole thing is, that’s why it’s so clever because it really does make sense in the end. But I guess when you break it down that way, it’s a pretty bad plan on Voldemort’s part.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Well, I mean, the only thing that makes me think that this potentially isn’t “programmed” or “coded in” is because Voldemort is not going to be like, “All right, let’s set the mood and light some candles.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: You know what I mean? He’s going to say, “Get him into the house and murder him.”

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: And I feel like it would be a little more cut and dry than it is if it were preprogrammed or coded.

Michael: Yeah, I think the preprogramming was probably just what you said, Kat; [it] was his basic instructions to Nagini, and because she’s a snake she was like, “Okay, that’s all my brain can compute.”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Right, exactly. You can’t put a whole lot of stock in Nagini’s intelligence. Yes, snakes… I mean, I don’t know. Are they smart animals?

Alison: I have no idea.

Kat: Yeah, I don’t, either.

Michael: Well, as we know, Voldemort can connect with Nagini, but he can’t be with her all the time anticipating that Harry is going to show up.

Kat: Right.

Michael: So what would be the point of sending her out there if he did that?

Kat: Right, he’s busy lighting candles in other areas.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Yeah.

Alison: Our last comment then comes from our friend Yo Rufus On Fire, who says,

“I agree with a few comments below about turning Bathilda’s body into an Inferi. I do think the pre-programming is a little much. You can’t program every second of Nagini’s moves and [expect] it [to] go exactly that way. There is going to be something that happens that wasn’t factored into the original plan. How would Nagini deal with it if she was only programmed to do what was on her list? As for how Nagini can sense them. I LOVE Joel Copling’s comment, however I have a more out there theory. I think Nagini could sense the Horcrux in Harry and the Horcrux around his neck. She probably does not understand the Horcrux, but it allows her to sense when others are around. Harry notices that the locket “wakes up” when Bathilda shows up. He thinks it’s because the locket knows that something is ready to destroy it, but I more think that it senses other Horcruxes close by. I think this theory works if Harry’s Horcrux is more of a sleeper agent and Nagini is an active Horcux.”

So once again, Horcrux party. Woo-hoo!

Michael: That sounds right. I mean, that explains why the Horcrux wakes up. Because Harry is wrong that he thinks the sword is there because it’s not. And that works in terms, too, of Harry is a Horcrux because I’m still going with… I still like equating Harry’s Horcrux with being a sleeper agent because it doesn’t do anything. It’s not… like you were saying earlier, Kat, Rowling confirmed that Harry’s Horcrux is not a normal Horcrux.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: And it’s not. Obviously we see that because his Horcrux does not behave… it does not affect him, I think, in the ways that a Horcrux normally affects the objects it’s attached to. And ostensibly there have been theories that have suggested otherwise. Harry as a Horcrux does not affect other individuals around him.

Kat: Right. Yeah, I’ve always seen it as the Horcruxes in the objects can almost think and act for themsel[ves], but because they’re in objects they can’t actually do anything other than explode out of them and stuff.

Michael: Yeah.

Michael: Well, and I think Voldemort would be aware, too – obviously knowing that he didn’t mean to put the Horcrux in Harry – that… and I think it’s stated, too. This comes up with Nagini, but Voldemort generally knows that it would be very unwise to put a Horcrux in a living thing, but I think especially a person.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: Because I think before Harry there’s no case of somebody who’s had a Horcrux in them like this.

Kat: Right.

Michael: So…

Kat: I’m curious what would have happened if Hermione was wearing the Horcrux when they went in.

Alison: Yeah. I wonder if it would have done the same thing.

Kat: If it would have burned into her skin and all of that.

Michael: It probably still would have woken up… I think it just…

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: But Harry wouldn’t have been wearing it when he went up with Nagini, which he would have done because he was the only one who could talk to her.

Kat: That’s true.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: So that might have helped Harry, at least with his physical mental condition during the whole debacle.

Kat: Or maybe not, because maybe that Horcrux is what helped him see all those visions.

Alison: Ah…

Michael: That’s true.

Kat: You know, like amplified it a bit.

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: All right. Well, those are comments to our Question of the Week last week. So thank you all for all of your great comments. There’s a lot of good discussion going on, so go check it out on the main site.

Kat: And light some candles…

[Alison, DeAnna, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Set the mood.

[Alison sings]

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: [laughs] Maybe we should light some candles for Chapter 18 of Deathly Hallows.

Kat: Maybe we should.

[Michael laughs]

[Deathly Hallows Chapter 18 intro begins]

[Sound of a book opening]

Rita: Chapter 18.

Multiple voices: He seemed a charming boy to me… Grindelwald…

Rita: “The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.”

Multiple voices: For the greater good.

[Deathly Hallows Chapter 18 intro ends]

Michael: For the first time since he became a wizard, Harry is without a wand and feeling vulnerable and unprotected. Coming to his senses and deciding not to blame Hermione, the two return to speaking terms, but what Hermione has to share with Harry is sure to keep his spirits low. Managing to escape Godric’s Hollow with a fresh unread copy of Rita Skeeter’s The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, the two begin to unravel Dumbledore’s sordid past and discover his shocking allegiances, unexpected beliefs, and scandalous family history. But when it comes to Rita Skeeter, the lines of reality and fiction are blurred. Harry is left not knowing what to believe, but he feels one thing is for certain: Dumbledore never loved or cared for him.

[Alison pretends to cry]

Kat: Which is the saddest conclusion to a chapter basically ever.

Michael: Yeah, we’re going to get to that. But before we even get to that whole debacle with Dumbledore, we’re actually going to look at an AudioBoom that was given to us by Stephanie – one of our regular listeners – about something that might have been an unforeseen consequence with Voldemort visiting Godric’s Hollow again.

[Audio]: Hey Alohomora!, it’s Stephanie. I was thinking about how Voldemort sees Harry and Hermione Apparate out, and he’s just left standing there in Godric’s Hollow. What do you think happens to the people of Godric’s Hollow afterwards? I mean, Voldy’s got to be pissed right now. All I can envision is him in Movie 5 when he throws his arms out, screams, and shatters all of the glass in the windows. This is the second time that he’s been defeated there, but instead of “disappearing” like last time, he’s still in Godric’s Hollow. Do you think he could have gone on a killing spree? We don’t hear anything about the people that live there, but could something have happened to them? Love to hear what you guys think. Thanks.

Michael: So that’s depressing…

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Michael: Godric’s Hollow has turned into a giant pile of rubble now. That town just can’t catch a break.

Alison: Oh, no!

Kat: Well, I feel like we would have heard something…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … if that were the thing. And Harry does go back to live there, right?

Michael: That’s not…

Alison: I think that’s just my head canon.

Michael: That’s not confirmed.

Alison: That everyone’s adopted.

Kat: Oh, it’s not confirmed?

Michael: No.

Kat: Okay, I don’t care either way; I’m indifferent.

Michael: [laughs] Well, this conversation was kind of brought up in a way with a few listeners this past week saying, “What do you think Voldemort did to Nagini?”

Alison Ooh!

Michael: Because she failed big time. But of course Nagini as a Horcrux, and as Voldemort’s probably closest confidant…

Kat: That’s so sad.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Yeah, it is. But it’s also sad because it’s true. But I don’t know, I think Voldemort… I don’t think there was much consequence reaped upon the town of Godric’s Hollow.

Alison: Yeah, I think he’s got bigger fish to fry at this moment. He’s not going to stick around. He’s going to go back to what he feels like he needs to do, a.k.a. finding the Elder Wand, finding Harry…

Kat: Mmm.

Alison: He’s not going to stick around…

Michael: Well, yeah…

Alison: He’s just going to go.

Michael: The big thing that Harry does see – and I think the thing that does perhaps save Godric’s Hollow from being destroyed – is that Voldemort looks down and sees the picture of Grindelwald…

Kat: Mmm.

Michael: And his interest is immediately taken to that, and he leaves on a happy note because he’s got something that he wanted out of the whole thing. So maybe that’s what spared Nagini too, because he was like, “Good job! You got me one.”

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Mhm.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: That’s true. That’s entirely probable.

Michael: And I’m sure Nagini probably happily took all the credit for that.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah. The mood was already set, so they probably had a nice romantic dinner first.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: You try not to think about it, but unfortunately for any of those of you who have a copy or have looked in a copy of [Harry Potter] Page to Screen, there is that lovely piece of concept art of Voldemort and Nagini when he’s milking her, and it’s the most horrific thing you’ve ever seen!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: What?!

Kat: Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, you have to look at it; it’s terrifying.

Alison: Oh man, I do not have that book yet. [laughs] Okay.

Michael: Listeners, Google that and your eyes will fall out of your head.

Kat: Yeah, don’t do it late at night.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Some pretty disturbing stuff.

Kat: Set some candles out first.

[Michael laughs]

DeAnna: A weird thought just popped into my head, but do we think that Voldemort’s just standing there? Because it almost makes me wonder why this vision that Harry has is so intense. Is there any chance that Voldemort’s kind of out of it like Harry is, or is he just going on about his business while Harry’s unconscious for hours?

Michael: I think Voldemort’s still going on and doing his thing, right?

Kat: Mhm.

DeAnna: That’s kind of what you assume, but it’s not fair.

[Alison, DeAnna, and Kat laugh]

Michael: It’s not.

DeAnna: Harry’s unconscious for hours and can’t move, and Voldemort’s just like, “Oh, let’s go find this guy.”

Michael: I think the only time that really the two of them kind of conk each other out is at the climax of Deathly Hallows.

DeAnna: Right, in the forest.

Alison: Because a part of Nagini…

DeAnna: It’s hard to know though because obviously Harry’s not with him, so we don’t know what Voldemort’s doing.

Alison: Yeah.

DeAnna: I like to think he got knocked out for a little bit of time too because he’s so just lost in thought.

Alison: I think this Harry getting knocked out has more to do with Nagini physically hitting him upside the head multiple times [laughs] than anything with Voldemort and their connection.

DeAnna: Well, yeah, but even earlier in the book he not really passes out, but you find him slumped over… he falls over in the bathroom every time he has a vision. So I think, like you said, it might be a combination where it’s a longer memory and he got the crap beat out of him by the snake, but we do see him almost go into a semi-conscious state when he has the other visions.

Michael: I’m wondering if it is because Voldemort… the thing Alison touched on earlier that we know about when Voldemort unlocks his mind to Harry is when he’s feeling heightened emotions. And he goes from feeling the top of his rage probably to the top of his… I wouldn’t call it happiness, but whatever Voldemort’s equivalent to that is because of what he found.

DeAnna: Right.

Michael: So I think that’s why Harry gets the memory. Notwithstanding, what we discussed earlier about the Horcrux’s proximity might also have had something to do with it, and like you said, Alison, the sheer physical strain that Harry was under. But I think that … Harry has access to that memory for such a long period of time because Voldemort’s not closing himself off because he’s feeling too many emotional highs at the time. But I don’t think it’s affecting Voldemort in that way. Voldemort eventually probably realizes, “Oops, got to close my mind again. Probably shouldn’t be letting him see all of this.” But Voldemort doesn’t seem to feel those effects as strongly as Harry does. It’s not quite a two-way street as far as we understand it, right? Voldemort can dip in to Harry’s head if he so chooses, but he can’t just suddenly get a wave of Harry’s memories. That doesn’t work that way.

DeAnna: That would be scary.

Alison: Yeah, I don’t think it’s like that.

Michael: No, not quite. But speaking of Harry, he is pretty down in the dumps because his wand is gone. It is snapped in two and there’s no use and there’s no way to fix it. And I was actually trying to think… because Rowling does such a good job of really trying to explain to the reader why this is such a horrible thing. She spends about a full page and a half describing Harry’s previous encounters and physical damage and mental damage.

Alison: Oh! It’s so beautifully written.

Michael: And she pretty much just says: “Nothing that he has ever been through compares to not having his wand.”

Kat: Nothing that he ever remembers going through.

Michael: That’s true. And she points out that the reason this is such a big blow for him personally is because unlike everybody else, he believes strongly still that the wand is pretty much his only defense left against Voldemort. But it was funny because I was thinking, what is the comparison to this in reality? Because Rowling works so hard to make sure that you feel this. But I feel like in a way, and really more as an adult, I have felt close to this. Because Harry also feels this humiliation, this sense that, “I really shouldn’t be feeling this upset about a stick.”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: A stick, I love it.

Michael: It’s a material possession that really in the end is… he says Hermione would argue that Harry doesn’t need the wand and that there’s something within him that’s going to take care of it instead. But Harry’s still just horribly upset about the wand, and I was thinking, what is something that you get taken away from you in life that you’re just like, “Oh my God, my life is over. I suddenly can’t function as an adult anymore because this thing is gone”?

Alison: [laughs] Your phone.

Michael: Because the thing… phone, did you say phone?

Alison: [laughs] Yeah… no, I’m kidding; it’s not that bad.

Michael: [laughs] Well, in a way, I think people say… I’ve heard phone before. Because you feel completely cut off, right? And when I leave my phone behind like when I go to work and if I leave my phone at home I’m like, “How can I possibly get in touch with somebody if I’m in an emergency?”

[Alison laughs]

Michael: “I’ll just die!” I’ll just lay down and die because there’s no possible way to survive. I feel that I frequently… the thing I was thinking of was whenever I don’t have my car…

Alison: Ah, yeah.

Michael: … I tell people I feel like I’ve had my legs cut out from under me because it’s just like, “I can’t go anywhere. What if I want to go somewhere and get something? Now I have to depend on others to do it.” But I was just…

DeAnna: I’m so bad about that.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Yeah.

DeAnna: I’m content to stay home most of the time, and as soon as I don’t have my car I’m like, “I want to go here. I’m going to go here. I’m going to…”

[Michael laughs]

DeAnna: I can’t go anywhere; I don’t have a car.

Alison: But I think you brought up a good point though about legs, because I think what she’s trying to get at is, at least to me, it feels like losing one of your senses or losing a body part.

Michael: Mhm. Mhm.

Alison: To all of a sudden be without something you’ve come to rely on. Which I think we’re really seeing in this book…

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: … that Harry has come to rely on his wand and to rely on magic a little bit.

Michael: Yeah. I think it’s perfect too that… you laughed though, but that you said phone, Alison…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … because that’s what keeps Harry Potter relevant is, I think… listeners, it’s fascinating as you read this [chapter] to just think of the things in your life that if it was taken away from you, how would you react and would you be completely cut off from the things that you’re so accustomed to? I think Harry over the last seven years… the wand has become, like you said, Alison, an additional sense or almost an extension of his own arm practically. So it’s… as you said, Alison, too, the writing here is so spectacularly done.

Alison: Oh, it’s gorgeous. Oh, my goodness.

Michael: To convey this feeling.

Alison: I think I’ve said this before, sidenote…

DeAnna: It’s sad, the hopelessness he feels.

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

Alison: This is kind of a sidenote, but I’ve said this before: This is probably one of my favorite bits of prose in all seven books because she’s just… oh! I keep using it for language study stuff because it’s absolutely phenomenally gorgeous just how she paces everything, how she describes everything, how it’s this one moment in time and it takes up three pages of beautiful… oh! I love it.

Michael: Yeah. Rowling’s at her A-game in this chapter. Definitely. And I also wanted… now, I just want to stop for a moment and give a little #Hermionelove here.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Because poor Hermione comes out of the tent thinking that Harry is going to curse her with her own wand because he’s so mad at her. And ostensibly she doesn’t talk to him for quite a while. And I just…

Kat: How long has it been? Like a day or two? It hasn’t been that long, right?

Michael: It hasn’t been too long. It’s been… I’d say probably roughly around a day.

Alison: Yeah, I think so.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: This is one of those moments… because Harry… what’s nice at least is that Hermione fearfully goes, “Are you still mad at me?” And Harry says, “No, no, you were brilliant. You saved my life. Thank you.”

Alison: For once.

Michael: And that’s all she gets.

[Alison laughs]

DeAnna: I feel like it hasn’t actually been as long as we feel like because I think the last chapter pretty much ends with him saying, “Go to bed and I’ll take the first watch,” and then she comes out with tea. Because I think when he wakes up from the vision, it’s dawn…

Alison: Yeah.

DeAnna: … or something. So if anything, I think it’s only been a couple of hours, if even that long, and that’s why she’s still weepy and like, “Are you still mad at me?” and “I’ve been crying.” Because it does feel, going from one chapter to the next, like it’s been a really long time, but I find that happens a lot. Either a long passage of time happened really quickly…

Michael: Mhm.

DeAnna: … or you feel like it’s been a really long time and it’s only been a day.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: Yeah. But I guess my point – because I always feel this when I read this – is I always get upset that Harry’s even mad at Hermione.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: To any degree. I feel that’s really uncalled for. [laughs]

Kat: Well, especially Hermione goes so far as to say, “Do you mind if I talk to you?”

Alison: Well…

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Is Harry giving off that much of a “Leave me the eff alone” vibe? I mean, that’s rough.

Michael: Well, Harry says yes, but the narration says he’s thinking, “I’m only saying yes because I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Right.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Because he’s done that before, right?

Kat: It’s hard, though.

Alison: She’ll come to talk to him…

DeAnna: Because when someone breaks something you love, it’s hard not to be mad at them even if it’s an accident.

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

DeAnna: It’s not really their fault, but at that moment you’re so mad that it’s broken that you can’t separate the two.

Michael: Mmm.

DeAnna: Because I’ve gone through that. My daughter broke my first Kindle and I knew it was an accident…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

DeAnna: But I was so mad, I was like, “You’re buying me a new one tomorrow!”

[DeAnna and Michael laugh]

DeAnna: She was like six.

Michael: I guess the thing that is the unique thing in this particular case is that at the same time she did kind of save his life.

DeAnna and Kat: Yeah.

Michael: [laughs] It’s like the wand for your life, take or leave.

DeAnna: The wand thing is kind of weird though because on one hand they do have an emotional attachment to their wands, but at the same time it’s like, “I saved your life but now you have to go to this gunfight, and I accidentally threw your gun in the water, so he’s going to have a gun but you’re not. Try not to die.”

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Michael: Yeah, it’s tough because…

DeAnna: And I think that’s part of his problem. It’s more than just… it is an emotional attachment, but it’s also his weapon.

Michael: Mhm.

DeAnna: And at this point right now if Voldemort came, he’d be screwed because he’s got nothing. [laughs]

Michael: Yeah. Harry’s mind is eternally on the final confrontation, and he’s going in with nothing. He brought nothing to a gun fight; there’s no knife, nothing… [laughs]

[DeAnna laughs]

Michael: So… but I still like to give Hermione love in this moment because I just feel that she just doesn’t get the adequate amount in the narrative. She needs more…

Alison: We should always give Hermione love. Always and forever. [laughs]

Michael: Yes. Build that… I know we’re in a situation where we don’t have anything to give her, but I don’t know, build her a snowman or something.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Kat: Oh, God…

Michael: [laughs] That wasn’t meant to be a Frozen reference…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: It just happened. [laughs]

Kat: I was going to say, if anyone busts out into that song, I’m done.

Michael: [laughs] It’s done? Is that what you said?

DeAnna: Good thing I refrained.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yes.

DeAnna: First thing in my head…

Kat: You’d be fired.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Well, before we go… since we’re trying to avoid building snowmen, let’s move on to the meat of this chapter, which of course is Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Big characters to talk about here, because of course as we see, Hermione has gotten a fresh unopened copy of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. And we’re going to take a read through that particular chapter because Hermione found the picture of Grindelwald in the book and figured out who he was.

Kat: It’s so convenient that was just sitting there for Hermione to get.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: It’s so convenient.

Michael: It kind of works out nice actually, the whole idea that Rita dispite her cattiness sends Bathilda a copy. And she’s just like, “Ah, ha, ha! You won’t remember any of this, but here’s a copy.”

Kat: But here’s Hermione getting more information from yet another book.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Yeah, I feel like this one though is a little more sensical than perhaps the Horcrux books.

Alison: It makes more… yeah.

Kat: Yeah. No, I agree. Totally.

Michael: Because those books have still been around and nobody’s still read them other than Hermione…

DeAnna: Was anybody else disturbed by the acid green ink?

[Alison laughs]

DeAnna: What is with her and acid green? Is this proving that she’s a beetle and there’s something not okay with her? What’s up with the acid green? Wasn’t the Quick Quotes Quill acid green, too?

Alison: Mhm. I think it’s just her signature color.

Kat: Yeah.

Alison: She just likes it.

Michael: Yeah. It expresses her so well. Like you hear acid green, and it kind of fits her character really well. Because her writing is acidic, as we will see.

DeAnna: I thought it was terrible.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Interestingly, the character who gets quite a bit of treatment in this little memoir is Aberforth. He’s kind of given his most extensive explanation since Dumbledore’s little mentions of him. And pretty much, he’s written off as being crazy. And what I found so interesting about Aberforth is he’s built up as this very eccentric, bizarre character, and when we meet him he seems pretty dark and [unintelligible]

Alison: He’s just pissed about everything. He’s just angry.

Michael: What is Aberforth’s… I’m just so curious what his deal… like why does he throw goat poo at people?

[Alison laughs]

Michael: What is that?

Alison: He’s just hovering his anger issues… I don’t know.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: I’ve heard many fan fiction explanations for the goat thing, but is that just for giggles? Or is there something more to that?

Kat: I don’t know. Remember that weird video of that woman who loved cats so much that she made a dating video about it? I feel like that’s what Aberforth would do.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: I forgot about that!

Michael: Do you think this has anything to do… because you think about it, and so we’ve got poor Ariana who has become mentally disturbed, Dumbledore who’s been emotionally scarred by his family history and tends to be a little eccentric anyway, and then Aberforth who pretty much has closed off his world to every[one] but his sister… and goats. And I’m just trying to think… it’s always been very interesting to me that Aberforth comes off as just this absurd, insane character from everybody else, but he is so bitter and grounded and real when we meet him, that I just don’t really get why he’s built up that way.

Alison: I think…

Michael: If it’s just supposed to be a red herring…

Alison: Yeah, I think it’s that. I think it’s also… that builds so much of his character. We meet Aberforth for what, twenty minutes total? But we know so much of him as a character because he’s been built up this way and we’ve gotten these false interpretations. But then when we actually meet him, we see that it’s wrong and that he’s just kind of… he’s the middle child between a genius and Ariana who’s had to be looked after her whole life and who has went through horrible things. And so, I feel like he may have been not purposefully neglected as a child, but just kind of a little bit neglected because everyone else kind of needed a little bit more attention at the time, and so he just got used to keeping to himself. I mean, lots of people that are lonely end up becoming really attached to animals. Lots of people in general become attached to animals, but that would make sense if he just kept to himself, took care of the goats, thought they were better company than the people he knew, and that’s just the kind of person we find out that he is.

Michael: Mhm.

Kat: I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of Aberforth as being neglected because he was a pretty active part of his family for a lot of years and just because… and I’m sure it was just a passing comment. I can’t think of the exact one, but I remember thinking that he was pretty pivotal in some of the decisions that were made for his family and all of that. Even if he wasn’t necessarily always there with Albus, I definitely think that he had some part in that, and I just think that Aberforth is a bit of…

Alison: Maybe “neglect” is the wrong word then. Maybe it’s more of just… he kind of had to grow up a little too quickly.

Michael: Yeah. And I think that’s actually a pretty… I always take Aberforth, especially Ariana’s story, as a case of… a kind of analogy for an individual with a disability, and being a brother of somebody who has a disability, I can definitely see that. I think – and I’m sure a lot of listeners who have individuals with disabilities in their family as siblings would probably agree – that you are usually forced to grow up a lot faster than people who don’t have that in their family. You kind of have to take on a parental role. I’ve actually told my parents that I don’t want kids because I feel I’ve already had one. And I’m fine with that, but I think that happens a lot with this kind of family situation. It’s worth mentioning Ariana… I think what’s interesting about Ariana is she’s probably the major thing that Rita is completely just making up at this point.

Alison: Oh, yeah.

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Nothing about Ariana is correct in this section. It was really interesting to me rereading this article – this segment of her book – that Rita wrote because it’s… knowing what’s true and what’s not now, you can really see the cracks in her writing, I think, a little better. I don’t know if you guys noticed that, but I’ve kind of seen her writing crumble a little more this time around more than ever. Because with… Ariana, she’s just making everything up because she doesn’t have any leads. And actually what she’s being told is that Ariana was frail and ill, and she just doesn’t want to accept that because it’s not interesting, so she’s making stuff up. So Ariana, unfortunately, we’re not going to talk much about because the meat of her story actually comes towards the end of the book. But there’s somebody else who’s equally interesting to discuss here – his name is Grindelwald. And Grindelwald apparently… just like Dumbledore, apparently they used to be teenagers at some point in their life. Most people just assumed that Dumbledore just popped out as an old man with a beard…

[Kat laughs]

Michael: But Grindelwald… we get a little history on him: he used to attend Durmstrang. The fascinating little tidbit that’s dropped by Rita is that a lot of his takeover and why he comes second to Voldemort is because he didn’t try to reach out past the Bulgarian area. He was kind of stuck in that small area and he never got more successful than that, and he never reached his power over to Britain. But what is mentioned is that he performed experiments, which is a little unnerving. I don’t know if you guys had any potential ideas of what those could be.

Alison: Yeah, I don’t either.

Kat: I don’t want to think about it.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Yeah. Probably Voldemort or worse level.

Michael: I’m assuming he’s probably played…

Kat: No, probably with goats. That’s why Aberforth didn’t like him.

Alison: Oh, no!

Michael: [laughs] I can’t imagine what they were because it doesn’t seem to be that he played with Horcruxes because…

Alison: But maybe he was trying to do stuff to replicate Hallows, which could lead to some real nasty stuff real fast.

Michael: Oh, that’s true, since that was his obsession. Well, and we know too that he apparently cursed quite a few students…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Which is why he was expelled, which… that’s saying something, listeners, because it takes a lot to get expelled from a school that encourages the Dark Arts, I would imagine.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: But the other thing is that Grindelwald had some interesting beliefs that Dumbledore, for a while, shared. And I actually pulled up… there’s the mention of Nurmengard, which is the prison that Grindelwald would eventually make in his later years to house his prisoners from war. And the Harry Potter Wiki was a very big help with explaining Nurmengard a little more and the history behind it.

Kat: It just sounds like a moon of Isengard, doesn’t it?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Not quite. Nurmengard…

Kat: Or Asgard.

Michael: [laughs] Asgard. No, it’s something a little less magical than that. Nurmengard is likely a reference to Nuremberg, the city in Germany that was the site of many important Nazi rallies, as well as also the place where the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws were promulgated. Later, the city was famous as the site of the prison used to hold infamous Nazi war criminals, as well as the Nuremberg Trials, where they were tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. So basically, Nurmengard is almost a direct parallel to Nazi Germany in World War II. And as we’ll see, a lot of Grindelwald’s beliefs come from the German ideas. As the wiki says, “The Greater Good” – which we finally get that phrase dropped here – may also be a reference to… oh, here comes some German. Anybody speak German?

Alison: Nope.

Michael: Anyone know German?

Kat: Uh-uh.

Michael: Nope? “Arbeit macht frei.” That sounds about right. [laughs]

Kat: Brava.

Michael: It means, “Work makes one free,” or “Work liberates,” the motto that was inscribed over the entrance gates to several Nazi concentration camps. So that was possibly what that is in reference to. What’s interesting in terms of Dumbledore and Grindelwald… first of all, this is the first time I think we find out, confirmed in the series, that Grindelwald’s still alive. Did you guys think Grindelwald was alive at this point?

Alison: No.

Michael: Because I didn’t when [I] first read it.

Alison: I think [it’s] because they always talk about him like he was so far in the past. Also, I’m really bad with time and numbers… [laughs] And so it was always just like…

Kat: And also, it’s repeatedly said that Dumbledore “defeated” Grindelwald. And you hear that word and you assume “killed.”

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, Rowling chose that word very carefully, didn’t she?

Kat: Mhm. She did.

Michael: All the way back in Sorcerer’s Stone, she apparently had planned for Grindelwald to come back up again. But yes, that was… I remember that being a shock to me. I actually… when I read it, I was like, “That’s not fair, he’s totally dead!”

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Of course, the word “defeats,” yes, that can not necessarily mean dead. But we don’t see too much of Grindelwald’s arc. We will see him a little later, right before he dies. Because Voldemort kills him. And interestingly, Grindelwald makes the choice to not give the information to Voldemort that Voldemort needs. I was curious, what do you guys think the motivations behind that are? Do you think Grindelwald has learned, has reflected over the years? Or do you think there’s something else behind why he did that? Oh, silence.

Alison: [laughs] I was about to quote one of the movies: “Didn’t want another Dark Lord competing with him.” Who says that? Is that a deleted scene from somewhere? Anyway…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Also, really bad whatever that was.

Michael: I loved the impression and the inflection. [laughs]

Alison: Thank you. [laughs] That was really bad, though. I think there’s a chance he could at least see… I think he thinks Voldemort’s going about things in the wrong way. They kind of want the same thing, but I think he thinks Voldemort is being too destructive. And so I can see him thinking he’s not going to help him be more destructive. Because Voldemort is so violent and crazy, Grindelwald doesn’t think he has the right to achieve what Grindelwald wanted.

Michael: Do you think there was any affection for Dumbledore in there?

Alison: Well, there could be. Yeah, I don’t know. I never thought Grindelwald reciprocated, honestly.

DeAnna: I’m thinking, I feel like I heard somewhere that someone said he seemed to show remorse towards the end, but I don’t remember if that was actually him or not. Or if it’s even the right series.

[Michael laughs]

DeAnna: I have no idea right now. That’s in my head right now, but I can’t remember if that’s what it is. I was thinking… maybe he did care enough about his friendship with Dumbledore that he didn’t want his grave broken into… I don’t know. I do know that I hate that they changed that in the movie and he told him. But this isn’t the movie watch.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: We’ll get to that. That’ll come up later.

DeAnna: It is very difficult for me. I have a hard time watching the movies because I am a purist in so many ways. And I’m like, “No, that’s the most important thing! Why would you change that?” But I don’t know. I do wonder about his motivations.

Michael: Mhm. Yeah, it’s just… that part has always been interesting to me because… we’re going to discuss that a little more in a minute with Dumbledore’s evolution. But before we get to that, and speaking of feelings between these characters, I think this is pretty much the perfect time to go into Dumbledore’s homosexuality. I don’t think we’ll find a better spot.

Kat: I would agree with that.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: This is the big moment. So I thought it was worth kind of examining the history of this a little bit. So I actually found that, of course Kat you probably remember quite vividly the day that Rowling let this news spill. I’m sure…

Kat: I was at that event, so yes, I remember it very specifically.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: What do you remember from that moment?

Kat: When she said it?

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: I remember the moment of silence, and then the whispers.

Michael: Ah.

Kat: Yeah, it was very whispery in that room. And the reactions of the other people on stage with her?

Michael: Yeah, well, so what did you guys feel? How did you feel when this was revealed?

Alison: It didn’t, I don’t know, I was so young. When did this even happen?

Michael: 2007.

Alison: So I was in seventh grade.

Kat: It was just after Half-Blood. That’s when the event was.

Michael: Yes, it was.

Alison: So I was like 12. Literally though, I think I was 12. Yeah, I don’t think it really bothered me or anything. I don’t think I even paid that much attention to it. I was just like, “oh, okay, move on.” The end. And that was all.

Michael: I saw it on MuggleNet first, and I thought it was a joke when I read it, actually. I just didn’t get it at all. DeAnna, what did you think?

DeAnna: So, as I told you, I was late to the series. So my introduction to Dumbledore being gay was actually Harry Potter Should Have Died. So I read the whole debate on it. And my first instinct was, “how did I not realize that?”

[Everyone laughs]

DeAnna: I’m like, I totally did not see that whatsoever. He was just a lonely old man. I assumed he was a widower or something. And then I read it, and I’m like, whatever, doesn’t bother me. I totally don’t have a problem with gay people. But actually now, I knew we were going to bring this up, and I noticed it again rereading the chapter today, that it actually makes it make a lot more sense. Because I remember being a teenager and being infatuated with these boys, and I would pretend to like everything they liked. I didn’t do that as much with just my friends. I mean, maybe a little bit, if you wanted someone to like you, but not as much. So I think it actually makes it make a lot more sense about how he could be blinded into beliefs that seem so un-Dumbledore. Because he’s blinded by this new love, whether it’s reciprocated or not. I hate thinking that it just completely was not reciprocated. I like to pretend in my own little head-cannon that he did have some feelings, that he just cared more for power. Because it’s just really depressing otherwise. Which it is, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that Jo said it was unreciprocated. But I don’t like that.

Michael: Yeah, she did. She did confirm that. I thought it was worth it to reread, I think where this all kind of comes to a head is the letter. So I’m going to read the letter, because it’s short. The letter that, there’s a copy of this in Rita’s book. And it’s a letter from Dumbledore to Grindlewald, during the summer where Grindlewald was staying over, and as Bathilda points out, they were sending a lot of letters to each other. This one says,

“Gellert, your point about wizard dominance being ëfor the Muggles’ own good.’ This I think is the crucial point. Yes, we have been given power, and yes, that power gives us the right to rule. But it also gives us responsibilities over the ruled. We must stress this point, it should be the foundation stone on which we build. When we are opposed, which we surly will be, this must this must be the basis for all our counterarguments. We seize control for the greater good. And from this it follows that where we meet resistance, we must use only the force that is necessary and no more. This was your mistake at Durmstrang, but I do not complain, because if you had not been expelled, we would never have met. ñ Albus”

And that’s the letter. And I feel like rereading it this time with that context – like you said, DeAnna – that puts it all in perspective. Do you guys feel that that… do you feel that it should have been explicitly stated? In the book?

Alison: Yeah, no.

Michael: Do you think it’s missing something for that?

Alison: I think Rowling does a good job of not stepping into the trap that I think Tolkien stepped into… this is kind of going on a slight tangent, but Tolkien stepped into the trap where he felt he had to explain everything and every backstory for every single character. And if you read Lord of the Rings it really bogs that down. So I think she did a good job of… her characters are true to what they are, but she didn’t feel the need to include that information if it wasn’t relevant to the story. I mean, she has talked about cutting out ghost plots that she really liked because they weren’t needed to the story, and that’s why we got her old website and Pottermore when it was good still.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: [laughs] Hopefully, the encyclopedia one day will give us all this stuff. Yeah, so I don’t think it needed to be in there because it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what Harry is feeling right now, which is completely lied to, and with what Harry needs to know for his journey to do what he has to do by the end of the book.

Michael: Mhm.

Kat: Yeah. I think that if she had included it, it would have changed the message of Harry Potter.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: Hmm.

Kat: And I think that Jo has tried very hard… even though there are obviously things about religion and politics and the like in there, that’s never been the core message of the books. And I think that if she had included that bit of information about Dumbledore, it just inherently would have changed the message of the books because now there are people running around with signs – and this isn’t a bad thing – but now I’m even forgetting specifically what they say, but it’s about Dumbledore and his gay rights and all of that. I just think that that’s not what she wanted to focus on.

Alison: Yeah. I would agree with that.

Michael: Yeah. Actually, my thought on it was that I actually think it… I think it is kind of a missing point of the story because I didn’t… when I first read it, I didn’t read it that way, and I like reading it this way. I think that having that knowledge, coming from Rowling outside of the books, really I think just makes Dumbledore’s subplot blossom because it really puts into perspective why Dumbledore… I think it really puts into perspective a lot of Dumbledore’s character arc and why he distanced himself from others and why he kind of felt this coldness towards being affectionate towards people, and a lot of what happened with his relationship with Harry, I think. But…

Alison: But that’s the thing: This book is about Harry’s character arc, and these books are about that.

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: So I think the side ones – while they are important, and I’m not saying they’re not – I just think that…

Michael: Mhm.

Alison: Yeah, she chose to focus on Harry and his story, and so that is why she would leave stuff like this out.

Michael: Mhm. See, I’m inclined to think more that it’s kind of leaning more towards what Kat said, which is that if it had been in the book, that would have been the thing that everybody picked up on.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Yeah. They would have focused on it, and that’s just not where she wanted to go with the story.

DeAnna: Right.

Michael: No. Because that’s what happened when she revealed the information.

DeAnna: Mhm.

Kat: It still happened.

Michael: Yeah. It let loose a hubbub. Well, and what’s…I think what’s worthy of note… it’s funny to think about in this way because it wasn’t even ten years ago, but 2007 was a different time. And I think… we didn’t have marriage rights for homosexual couples nationwide in 2007; we were still…

Kat: Hell, we didn’t have it six months ago.

Michael: I know, I know. It’s a very recent thing, and I think we’re seeing a generation that has become a lot more accepting of that than in 2007.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: Things are changing a lot, and things are kind of going backwards in many ways in a lot of other political aspects.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: I think that that was… I think Rowling was wise not to include it, but in a way I almost could see… I hope, in future, that a story like this could include that detail, perhaps, because it really does just… I think it just places all the pieces for Dumbledore’s story together properly. The other thing, big thing, about Dumbledore of course is that he shows in this letter seemingly that he believes… his beliefs were in line with Grindelwald’s. I think one of the big things to ask here is, do you guys feel that there were some leftovers of these beliefs in Dumbledore’s adult years?

Alison: Yes.

Michael: The greater good: Did it ever really go away from Dumbledore’s head?

Kat: Ninety-five percent, if anything, because he definitely changes a lot. Maybe deep down he still maybe sort of kind of feels that way, but I think it’s a very small percentage. I think it’s very small.

Michael: Mhm.

Alison: I think that the line of “for the greater good” stayed, that idea; but I think his idea of what the greater good was changed.

Michael: Hmm.

Alison: Because I think we kind of see this throughout; he will always put the greater good first, and I think that’s what really ends up wounding Harry at this point is that somehow Harry thought maybe he as a person was the top thing in Dumbledore’s mind.

Michael: Mhm.

Alison: He’s kind of learning that – though I do think Dumbledore did care for Harry very much – I think he still was focused on: “This is what will be best for the most people. This is the greater good. So this is going to have to edge that out just slightly.”

DeAnna: Yeah, I agree with that. But there is a line in his letter that makes me think he still wasn’t as bad as they’re trying to make him seem. Because he says, “It gives us responsibilities over the world.”

Alison: Yeah.

DeAnna: So it’s not just, “Let’s take over and screw everybody.” It’s still, “Yes, we need to take care… we can rule over them but we need to take care of those people we rule over.” Whereas Voldemort’s like, “I’m taking over and I’m killing all the Mudbloods and screw you, I’m going to do what I want.”

Michael: Mhm.

DeAnna: And, funny side note, I noticed this – and I swore I noticed this earlier but it wasn’t until you were reading the letter – the Kindle book is actually missing a line from the letter.

Michael: Oh, really?

Kat: Really?

Michael: What’s…

DeAnna: Yeah, it says, “And from this it follows that where we meet resistance, we must use only the force that is necessary and no more.” I knew it said something about, “which surely we must,” but it’s not in the Kindle book.

Michael: Huh.

Alison: Weird.

Michael: Huh.

DeAnna: Kind of odd. I’ve noticed that in other books. Actually, the one of my first books ever was Percy Jackson and there was a line that was repeated about seven times on a page.

Alison: Oops.

DeAnna: And I went to the library and looked up the hardcover and that line was only on the page once. So Kindles are not flawless. [laughs]

Michael: I was going to say that’s kind of an important part of Deathly Hallows to not…

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: … screw up. [laughs] But…

DeAnna: I know, but I… because, like you said, I listen to the chapter yesterday and today via audiobook and I read the chapter again, because, sometimes, I zone out when I’m listening and I’m like, “I swear that line was in there.” And, sure enough, while you were reading it, I went and checked and it’s not there.

Michael: Hmm, unpair. Well, that’s a useful… that’s an important… well, I’m glad I read the letter out for all of you listeners…

[Alison laughs]

Michael: … who are reading on the Kindle. And I wanted… that was, actually, a really great point that you brought up, DeAnna. The idea that maybe they’re not reading the letter carefully enough. Because the… the idea of the Great Good falls under the political idea of Utilitarianism…

Alison: Mhm.

Michael: … which is basically that the best moral action is the one that maximizes productivity. And I… it’s… I feel like Dumbledore, based on this letter, which is all we get really, is kind of an idealistic utilitarian. He’s… Dumbledore is trying to temper the power of a utilitarian and he’s reminding Grindelwald that he’s not very good at that. It’s almost like if they had gotten what they wanted… it’s kind of similar to the idea that Communism is supposed to basically spread the wealth but Communism gets corrupted very easily by people who come into power. So it’s more the problem of who’s leading that revolution. Not to say that Dumbledore’s ideas were the best. Utilitarianism has a lot of consequences that, obviously, Dumbledore wasn’t foreseeing. And Grindelwald is one of those major consequences is that prejudice can sneak into Utilitarianism, which is what’s happening….

Alison: Mhm.

Michael: … in this case. But I think it’s… Harry’s big argument against Dumbledore in this moment comes on page 360, when Hermione explains Nurmengrad and the Greater Good. And she says,

“‘But on the other hand, even Rita can’t pretend that they knew each other for more than a few months one summer when they were both really young and…’ ‘I thought you’d say that,’ said Harry. He did not want his anger to spill out at her but it was hard to keep his voice steady. ‘I thought you’d say they were young. They were the same age we are now and here we are risking our lives to fight the Dark Arts and there he was, in a hurdle with his new best friend, plotting their rise to power over the Muggles.'”

Now, do you think that’s fair on Harry’s part?

Kat: Hmm.

Alison: Yeah, I think he’s fair to…

Kat: Yes. Yes and no.

Alison: I think he’s fair to say it’s not an excuse.

Michael: Kat, why did you say yes and no?

Kat: I do think… I agree with what Alison just said that it’s not okay to use it as an excuse. But, also, in a very small, small, small percentage-wise they weren’t even… How old were they at this point?

DeAnna: Seventeen.

Alison: Seventeen, yeah.

Kat: Okay. Then I completely change my mind, and yes, Hermione… Harry’s right. Not an excuse.

Michael: Hey!

Alison: I mean, okay to some extent…

Michael: That’s interesting.

Alison: 17-year-olds don’t necessarily grow up…

Kat: Good. I’m glad that you said that. Because I was hoping you were going to do that. Yeah, I think that at that point, you don’t really know… you don’t know the world at large.

Alison: Yeah, they’re not the smartest.

Michael: Mhm.

Kat: And passion tends to take over…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … a little bit. And also, if Dumbledore is in love with Gellert, you’re a little bit more willing to bend the things that you believe in…

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

Kat: … more times often than not when you are in love with somebody.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve experienced that, so…

Kat: Yeah.

DeAnna: I can see where Harry is coming from, but Harry doesn’t realize that he tends to be more the exception rather than the rule.

Alison: Yeah.

DeAnna: Most kids at 15 and 17 can be jerks, and I bring up 15 because that same argument came up in Order of the Phoenix after “Snape’s Worst Memory”, the age; “Well, the same age as I am.” He’s the exception. I did some stupid things as a teenager that I wouldn’t do now, and that Harry probably wouldn’t do because somehow he seems to be – not really Mr. Perfect because he can be a jerk – but he’s always had very strong convictions and they very rarely change over the course of the series. So he has a harder time understanding that someone can be an idiot as a teenager and grow up and change.

Michael: Mhm.

DeAnna: It’s like the bully who grows up to actually feel remorse. So I see where he’s coming from and I understand because if I were 17 and found out that someone is doing the exact opposite – someone I trusted – at my age, I’d be upset. But as an adult looking back I can also see the downfall.

Michael: Mhm.

Kat: But also, Harry should realize that because of what Dumbledore went through it made him the person that Harry knew, or “thought he knew.”

Michael: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking in terms of because… I don’t know why this particular individual came to my mind. I guess I was trying to think of real life examples of a Dumbledore, and – I’m sure, listeners, you can come up with a few and maybe you guys can come up with a few right now as we’re talking – but the person who came straight to my mind was Nelson Mandela.

Alison and Kat: Mmm.

Michael: Because Mandela actually… his early history is actually not talked about. Like Dumbledore, who just was born an old man, Nelson Mandela for many people, I think, just came into the world after his imprisonment. People don’t tend to talk about his activity during Apartheid. And what was interesting about Mandela was that he initially during Apartheid believed in peaceful resistance against Apartheid and colonialism, but around the ‚Äò60s, quite late into his life, he actually started a more violent activist group, and that’s what got him imprisoned. He served 27 years in prison and came out as probably one of the most enlightened figures we’ve seen in recent years, and eventually actually came into power in his country – which was pretty amazing – and revolutionized a lot about and fixed a lot of the damage done from Apartheid. And he talked frequently during his life about what an amazing change of perspective he had in prison about what he did. He was – I believe – in his 30s or 40s when he was in prison, and what a drastic change that he went through. I don’t know if you guys can think of other people, but when Harry screamed the thing about age; that Dumbledore should have known better, I almost thought that was a little unfair in terms of just the epiphanies that people can have throughout their lives.

Kat: Look at Draco, for goodness sake.

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

Kat: He’s a pretty good example of someone in the series.

Michael: Yeah, even… I think all of the characters at some point or another go through something like that, whether it’s…

Kat: Sure, Dudley.

Alison and Michael: Yeah.

Michael: Absolutely. I think even some of the other adults experience things on different levels. A big one that people cite is Narcissa. Hers is, I think, for personal gain, but even that personal realization is something she didn’t have before. Obviously, we just saw and we talked at length about Lupin’s realizations and his behavior. Sirius was another one that we talked about all the way up, and we’re still talking about Sirius’s behavior.

DeAnna: Even Harry has kind of gone through this…

Alison: Yeah.

DeAnna: … because I know you guys brought it up on the podcast at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix where he wishes Cho had seen him sitting with cooler people, and then at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince he’s telling Romilda Vane, “These are my friends and they are cool.” And it’s the same people.

Michael: Mhm. Yeah.

DeAnna: And so even he has gone through it. So I do agree with you. I see where he’s coming from, but I do think he’s being too harsh, and especially… like I said, now that I pointed out that line to you, I read the letter a little differently. The “right to rule” thing still rubs me the wrong way.

Michael: Yes, absolutely.

DeAnna: I feel like he’s just saying what Grindelwald wants to hear, and the rest of it is his true feelings. The, “Yeah, we can rule over them, but we still need to take care of them,” type of thing.

Michael: Yeah, because the care that he wishes to put toward the people that he feels that he would be charge of, that’s not so different from Dumbledore’s way that he led Hogwarts, is it?

Alison: No.

Michael: Kind of a philosophy that he kept with him; he just changed it a little bit. But the big question that this chapter ends with: Harry declares definitively that Dumbledore did not love him or care for him. Thoughts?

Alison: Harry is wrong.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: And I will fight Harry on that forever because I think all of the things that have happened to get to this point, of Dumbledore not telling him stuff, of Dumbledore hiding things from him, was because Dumbledore cares. He says at some point that he didn’t tell him because he cared too much. He wanted Harry to have a happy, as normal life as he could. He wanted him to live as long as he could without knowing that he would probably have to go die and I think that’s showing care, I think, as much as Dumbledore possibly could in that situation.

DeAnna: No, I definitely agree that he’s wrong. I have to say that honestly, Harry bothers me a little bit about this. And Hermione hits the nail on the head with the, “Are you sure you’re not just upset because he didn’t tell you this?” But at the same time, I think sometimes Harry puts a little more store in the relationship he had with Dumbledore because Dumbledore wasn’t his buddy. He was his teacher and his mentor and he’s not going to sit there and tell you all about his past when you’re working on the future and trying to defeat Voldemort. Dumbledore’s past with growing up in Godric’s Hollow and his relationship with Grindelwald, really, has nothing to do with Harry and his battle with Voldemort. So I do think Harry is being very unfair in this chapter.

Michael: That’s interesting. I want to ask a question about that, but first, Kat, I know you wanted to say something.

Kat: Yeah, I think that Dumbledore cared for Harry in more ways than Harry will ever know.

Alison: Oh, yeah.

Kat: Everything that Dumbledore has pretty much ever done, all those puppet strings that he has ever pulled, has been for Harry. And Harry is just so furious in this moment about everything; he’s mad at himself, he’s mad at Dumbledore, he’s mad about his wand, he’s mad at Hermione, he’s so mad at everybody that he’s taking it out on the person who is gone and the only person who really, I guess, he feels like he can take it out on, honestly.

Michael: Yeah. Like DeAnna said, Dumbledore, I think, gives that away in your favorite chapter, Kat. He blatantly says that his plan [excluded] that he would ever get emotionally attached to Harry and that ends up being the ultimate… that phrase will come up: “The flaw in the plan.”

DeAnna: That’s my favorite chapter.

Michael: Love tends to be the flaw. Yes, love tends to be the flaw in all of the plans. And I think that chapter back in Order does confirm that, yes, Dumbledore did care very much for Harry. He’s combined his renewed sense of affection with the idea of the greater good because he knows that Harry is the person who not is just prophesied to save the wizarding world, but that he’s the person who can save the wizarding world.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Mhm.

Michael: Right? He also explains that in Book 6 by saying that Harry could easily choose to ignore the Prophecy, but Harry would never do that because that would be against who he is as a person. Before I go on to the very last point I did want to bring up: Do you guys think that Dumbledore’s past, this revelation that we get, is necessarily inessential to Harry’s quest? Because I actually think that… I’m surprised that Dumbledore just assumed somehow some of this information was going to get to Harry. Because while it doesn’t necessarily fully explain things, it fills in gaps that I think were necessary for understanding. Don’t you? It’s weird to me that Dumbledore did not account for this because this is all coming from Rita.

Alison: Maybe he thought if Harry ended up going to Godric’s Hollow he’d run into Bathilda and she could explain? I really don’t know. That could be the only way I think Dumbledore would have thought it would have gotten to him.

Michael: Well, and as we know, too, Aberforth will be a lot of the confirmation of this in the end as well. Nobody ever seems to think of Aberforth. [laughs]

Kat: I’m not entirely sure Dumbledore cared if Harry ever found out or knew anything about him.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: It’s interesting just because I feel like this stuff is what completes Harry’s understanding of the Hallows. It gives him a bit of a deeper understanding.

Kat: Right, but that’s the thing: Dumbledore never wanted Harry to know about the Hallows.

Alison: No, and I think if it gives him a deeper understanding of the Hallows, it’s [that] he understands… Dumbledore has a line at the end where he says that Dumbledore himself could have never been the master of the Hallows, only Harry could, and so I think maybe it shows him the mistakes Dumbledore made which I don’t think Harry would have made anyway. But the mistakes that Dumbledore made in looking for the Hallows; that made him almost unworthy to unite them.

Kat: Right. I want to rephrase what I said because I said that Dumbledore never wanted Harry to know about them; he wanted Harry to know but never to pursue.

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: So I misspoke.

Alison: I think if anything, it just makes Harry more conscious of this is why he is able to be the master of the Hallows by the end.

Michael: Yeah, the knowledge almost ends up being like a cautionary tale…

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: … of why you don’t use the Hallows for what people think they’re supposed to be used for. We’ll build on that later, too, because there are theories out there about how the series might have ended differently had Harry been in possession of all three Hallows at the same time. Because quite a few people thought that that was the ultimate end goal, actually. And I suppose Dumbledore’s story explains why that’s not the end goal. I’ll be interested to see what the listeners feel about that, too, as far as what importance Dumbledore’s story plays to Harry and whether Dumbledore should have told him this stuff as his journey goes on. I just thought it was interesting because as Harry’s breakdown… the ending here, I would argue, is quite possibly the lowest point Harry reaches in Hallows.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: Definitely.

Michael: Yeah. This is the complete loss… I wrote down “faith in the unseen” because I was thinking of this in terms… we’ve mentioned before in this discussion already that “The Deathly Hallows” is often seen as a religious parable and there are definitely a lot of ties to the Bible and definitely the New Testament. I see a lot of ties to the Old Testament, myself, at least with the stories from the Old Testament that I like. The idea of faith is very… that word has connotations that tie to religion but I think you can easily just… faith doesn’t necessarily have to be religiously based. In this term, I’m thinking of a complete faith and Harry needs to put his faith in Dumbledore and his faith has been entirely crushed. And yeah, Harry reflects that he has lost Dumbledore, he has lost Ron, and he has lost his wand, and he is feeling at his ultimate low at this point, and that is where this chapter of Deathly Hallows ends.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Michael: This is the bummer chapter.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: It’s like going to see Les Mis on Broadway. [laughs]

Kat: Womp, womp.

Alison: Well, then, it sounds like it’s time for this week’s Podcast Question of the Week. And we were talking about the letter that Dumbledore wrote to Grindewald and what his motivations and thoughts were in that. So this week’s question is, “In his letter to Grindewald, Dumbledore says that they should take over for the greater good. And Hermione goes on to say that Dumbledore abandoned his beliefs on this subject. But did he really abandon the idea of doing things for the greater good? Or did Dumbledore’s definition of the greater good simply evolve?” So head on over to and let us know what you think.

Kat: That’s a really good question. I’m psyched.

Michael: Make sure to really dig at that letter, too, listeners because I think you’ll also have to examine how you interpret what Dumbledore thought the greater good was to begin with.

Kat: Cool. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, DeAnna.

DeAnna: Thank you for having me. I was excited.

Kat: Good. We’re really glad.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Especially to have another Puff because we never have enough Puff.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: And if, listeners, you want to be on the show like DeAnna, head over to our “Be on the Show” page at our main site, If you have a set of headphones with a microphone, you are all set. You don’t need anything special or fancy.

Kat: And in the meantime if you want to keep in touch with us, you can find us on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN,, Tumblr at mnalohomorapodcast, on Instagram at @alohomoramn, of course our website is, and don’t forget you can download a free ringtone on our website. And as always, you can send us an Audioboom at That is free. All you need is an Internet connection and some sort of microphone. Keep your message under 60 seconds and you just might hear it on the show.

Michael: Don’t forget the Alohomora! store. We sell stuff.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: I figured you might elaborate a bit more.

Michael: I just read the copy. [laughs]

DeAnna: I am wearing my Alohomora! T-shirt today.

Alison: Woo!

Kat and Michael: Yay!

Michael: Nice! See? Okay, so we’ve got somebody here who is satisfied with the product, would we say?

[Alison laughs]

DeAnna: Yeah.

[Michael laughs]

DeAnna: I’d probably like it better if I still fit into it, but that has nothing to do with the show.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Well, we sell things like shirts and other various products that have all of our in-jokes from the show, a lot of in-joke references to the show. Lots of different products at the store. Check it out. You can go to to see what we’ve got at the store.

Alison: And you can check our…

Michael: We sell stuff!

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: I’m trying new stuff, okay? I’m trying new things.

Alison: Also make sure to check out our smartphone app. It is downloadable for free. Search for the Podcast Source in your app store and it should be there and you can listen to us usually have lots of bloopers.

Kat: And also, we have a very exciting announcement. Starting in January, Alohomora! is going to be a patron of Patreon. If you’ve never used that before, it’s a service where listeners can make a monthly pledge, something as little as even just a dollar, to help fund the show and keep the discussion going. More details will be available in the coming weeks, but we are really excited to be on there. There’s going to be a lot of exclusive perks for our listeners depending on how much you pledge and how much you help us out because we do have a little bit more to go in the show and we have some ideas about how we want to “end” the show…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: … and yeah, we need some funds to do that, so we’ll give you more details as soon as we have them. Be sure to stay tuned to because we will release them there as well as on an episode. So there you go.

Michael: But for now, we’re going to go reassess our beliefs on Dumbledore and in everything because we’re at the lowest of the low. But hopefully next week things will pick up a little more.

[Show music begins]

Michael: But for now, that’s been this episode of Alohomora! I’m Michael Harle.

Alison: I’m Alison Siggard.

Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 168 of Alohomora! Open the Aberforth!

[Show music continues]

Michael: I thought this…

Kat: Wait, can you pause that thought for two and a half minutes? Because Fantastic Beasts just dropped a trailer and…

Alison: What? Shut the front door!

Kat: And I have to post it… well, it’s a trailer preview. Sorry.

Michael: Oh, never mind. Then I don’t care.

[Prolonged silence]

Alison: If you have a basic set of headphones with a mic or… I almost said a microwave. [laughs] Sorry.

Michael: [laughs] No. That’s a very advanced set of headphones.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Kat: [laughs] Yeah, it is.