Transcript – Episode 185

[Show music begins]

Eric Scull: This is Episode 185 of Alohomora! for April 9, 2016.

[Show music continues]

Eric: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Alohomora!, MuggleNet’s global reread of the Harry Potter series. We’re all still alive after last week’s controversial episode. I’m Eric Scull.

Caleb Graves: I’m Caleb Graves.

Kristen Keys: And I’m Kristen Keys, and today with us we have special guest Katherine. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, Katherine, and how you became a part of the fandom?

Katherine: Hey guys, I’m Katherine. Well, Kat. Well, whatever. I started reading Harry Potter when I was in Year Two, so I was six, which was quite a while ago. And then I used to listen to MuggleCast on a burnt CD on my sister’s Walkman because that’s how technologically lacking I was.

[Caleb laughs]

Katherine: And yeah, I guess I’ve just been listening to you guys for ages, and heaps keen on the Harry Potter fandom stuffs. So I did the Pottermore thing and the first time I did it, it put me in Ravenclaw, and then I listened to this episode of MuggleCast where they were talking about how they Sorted themselves and they just put a lot of thought into it, and I was like, “Ah, I want to do it again and think about it properly.” So I got Gryffindor, so I guess I’m a Ravenclaw/Gryffindor?

Eric: Oh.

Katherine: But then in preparation for this podcast, I was like, “I should do it a third time and break the tie because that’s the way to go.”

[Eric, Kristen, and Katherine laugh]

Katherine: So I did it last night and I got Slytherin. [laughs]

[Everyone laughs]

Katherine: So then I did it again, and I got Hufflepuff.

Kristen: Oh! [laughs]

Caleb: Wow.

Eric: A perfect four-way Hatstall.

Katherine: So then I did it a fifth time. Yeah.

Kristen: Wow.

Katherine: And I got Gryffindor.

Caleb: What was the fifth time?

Katherine: Gryffindor.

Caleb: Gryffindor, yeah, wins!

Katherine: So I don’t know what that means. I’ve given up.

[Kristen laughs]

Caleb: Power.

Katherine: But yeah, I guess that’s pretty much everything exciting about me. I haven’t written any novels. I haven’t starred in any TV shows. I’m not a professional ballet dancer.

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: I am also none of those things, so you make good company.

Kat Miller: And, surprise, you’re not the only Kat on the show this week because I am also here, too.

Eric: Yay!

Kat: A little bonus guest just for a little while, anyway.

Alison Siggard: And I’m here, too! Just going to hang out for this episode because it’s a beautiful chapter.

Eric: Kat and Alison here with us as bonus hosts. Thank you for joining us.

Kat: We need a method for the Kats, so…

Katherine: I’ll be Katherine until you leave.

[Eric laughs]

Kat: Oh, all right, that sounds good. Works for me.

Eric: That works.

Caleb: And before we get into some of your comments from last week’s episode, [we] just want to remind everyone that we will be discussing Chapter 34 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “The Forest Again,” so make sure you read that.

Eric: Yes, but as usual at the head of the show, we like to get into discussion recap comments essentially from last week’s chapter discussion. Where to begin? I think that in general this episode… I just listened today, too, to last week’s episode, and I have to say, I really did actually enjoy it. It was a long discussion [that] had a lot of popular response. We are always, at Alohomora!, very blessed to see this kind of response in terms of its scale from our listeners. And I have to say, from the comments that I was sourcing, a lot of discussion was had not just by our listeners, but also by our hosts who went into the discussion and were attending to and holding discussions post-episode with fans over on the comments. So I have to say, “Wow,” because we had nearly 700 comments at the time of recording this episode, and it was something that really exploded; so much so that the topic of Snape, which was so heavy last week, warranted another two-hour live stream held by Rosie and Michael on the great Snape debate. So this was just – for those of you who are unfamiliar [or] somehow not following along – it was big. So in sourcing these comments, I decided that I would pick ones that had not, specifically, already been addressed by our hosts and also just offered unique and different insights, which is what we normally look [for], but regardless, here are just a few of the nearly 700 comments that we received. So first of all, WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock… I love that username. This is an abridged comment, but I believe it gets at the meat of what they’re saying. They say,

“What’s really upsetting to me on this episode is the tone-deafness with regard to understanding Snape as a child of abuse. Snape is a Slytherin, and I get it. People don’t like him. But he is also a child who has grown up in a poor, abusive household where he is screamed at, mistreated, and probably constantly reminded that he is worthless. He has nothing of his own. He has no one who loves him. He has no one to relate to. But I think this series tries to show that love is not just one thing or one way, and that sometimes love is relative to the person who feels it. A child of abuse often does not love in the way that others do. They may love in a self-destructive fashion. They may feel intense love but have no way to show it. They may find themselves reverting back to behaviors they grew up around, because they are bewildered by the overflow of this intense emotion that is drowning them, and that they have never seen demonstrated in a healthy fashion before. Maybe they grew up around people who hit each other and blamed the other for ‘making me do this because I love you so much.’ Snape was not raised in an emotionally healthy household. He was not socialized well. He was left to figure all of this on his own, with a bad background, a feeling of resentment toward life in general, and a wealth of anger. And into all of that comes a beautiful girl with a sparkling wit, magical skill, and a lovely soul, who has a backbone and a sharp tongue to boot, who genuinely sees him as a friend, and who he knows, whether he admits it or not, is out of his league and worlds better than he is, and, yes, his prejudices and misconceptions about the Dark Arts get muddled up in there too.”

So this comment from WhoDoYouKnowWho’sLostAButtock? really drives home something that I was feeling while listening to last week’s episode, just to begin, which is ultimately the character’s tragic beginnings. And Snape… Of course, there is so much more in the text to talk about – his teaching style and other things that make him a character that, I think it is safe to say, a lot of us have issues with – but ultimately, there’s a real discussion here as to whether or not the character can love in a healthy way. So I thought this comment was interesting. What do you guys think?

Caleb: So will someone – because I also haven’t reread the chapter since last week – remind me what in the chapter gives us the hints that he’s abused? Because I know he mentions to Lily that his parents are arguing and his dad is yelling, but what is it that’s in there that makes it clear that he’s abused?

Kat: I think it’s that coupled with his appearance, and then he also says something about how his father “doesn’t like much.”

Alison: And a lot of people will bring up Order of the Phoenix when Harry jumps into his memories and he talks about [how] he sees the little boy in the corner crying while his parents argue.

Eric: Yeah, and that’s… But the reason this was necessary to bring up was the discussion over Snape’s obsessive love in the previous chapter, so I think that’s why the evidence from earlier books is being brought into it in the moment. So it’s more a comment on… because last week, whether we all like it or not, was the Snape episode on the Snape chapter to basically talk one way or another. It certainly felt definitive while I was listening to it. It really brings up a lot of these issues that weren’t specifically covered over Snape. If Snape is not capable of healthy love, can we fault him? Can we throw at him this obsession that I thought was very astutely brought out by Alison initially, and through everyone else throughout the discussion of last week’s chapter?

Kat: Well, I guess if you want an answer to that question… if because he was raised like this, can we throw that obsession at him? As an adult, probably more so. Definitely not as a child because as a child, you are a product of your upbringing and most adults are, too. And just like I said last week – and I stick by that in general – a lot of people don’t change who they are from when they’re children to adults. So things that you grew up with stick with you. And so if Snape never changed as an adult, then that’s partially his fault and partially his upbringing.

Alison: I’m going to say, too… I thought about this last week and I think a lot of it… people are forgetting that he made choices still, and even in… I don’t want to come across as downplaying anyone’s experience who has actually suffered because that’s terrible. I think there [are] definitely ways that you can make choices to see that things that your parents did were wrong, and you can make the choices to yourself never do those wrong things and that you can look… obviously, it’s still going to affect you, but there are ways to not be doing terrible things to the children that you’re supposed to be teaching just because of your own childhood.

Eric: Okay, so there [are] two things at play here, specifically the notion of early dysfunctional love between Snape and Lily because I feel like last week the discussion began with the Pensieve memory of young Lily and the swing set and Snape’s early interactions with her. And Alison, you pointed out the “greedy” look that Snape had.

Alison: Uh-huh.

Eric: And I thought that was actually excellent, what you said on that, FYI. I think that I would argue while the case was made certainly with evidence from later Snape interactions – and I do agree his love was more obsessive than pure – at the end, as a child, ultimately I think people are very selfish as kids. They have to be; it’s how they’re growing. And in their head, any kind of love, pure or not, would I think at that point be represented as greed regardless because of Snape’s age. When you’re a child, you’re thinking, “I want that for myself. Yes, I see this is pure and this is nice and I want that.” That’s the entire scope of a child’s capacity, I feel, for loving a stranger…

Kristen: And not just a child, an only child…

Eric: Okay.

Kat: Right.

Kristen: … because [if] you had siblings, I wouldn’t say… I do have a selfish brother, but I wouldn’t say that I was more selfish as a child. I don’t know. I see it more as this is an only child, no offense to those only children out there.

Alison: Yeah, I can see that. I can definitely see that.

Kristen: That more [trait of] taking, later to realize that everything cannot be theirs because they’ve always been the only one kind of thing, so I can see him holding on more.

Eric: So the possession, or the eagerness, also, in that childhood scene, to possess and things… I don’t think at that point it’s an indicator of unhealthy love; I think that’s just childhood. It’s later when he… all the problems we have with him later and how he interacts with Lily that it’s more of an issue, but as a child I think that really he is very… I think there’s no malice or [malicious] intent in what he’s seeing in Lily.

Alison: I can see that, but there’s something about that word choice still, though, and the connotations with the word “greedy” that still just bother me in that scene a little bit.

Katherine: And I think it’s a bit much to be thinking of that as Snape’s love for Lily. He’s just a kid. He doesn’t even know her. That’s not him loving her. You’re right; it’s not him loving her. He just wants to be friends with her. He wants a relationship like she has with Petunia. It’s not him obsessing or being in love; it’s just him seeing something nice that he wants.

Kat: And being in awe of her, too, I think, just as much because she is… in that moment, it says, “She has magic.”

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: And he is in awe of her power, as well.

Eric: And he longs for the closeness and things like that. So that was something…

Alison: Which, there… I think you just hit on it: Why did she use the word “greedy” then instead of “longing”?

Eric: Because he hasn’t yet lost it. You long for something you’ve lost. You’re greedy for something…

Alison: Mm, not necessarily…

Eric: I think so. Remember, this is Harry, also, who is not the best at recognizing emotion…

[Kristen laughs]

Eric: … talking about a child that he has never seen before, also, who is young and may not show outward emotion that’s 100% accurate[ly] reflective of what they’re feeling to begin with. There are so many flaws in…

Katherine: Actually, it’s colored by the fact that Harry doesn’t like Snape. Even [with Snape] as a baby, Harry is watching it like, “He looks greedy. Okay.”

Alison: But is it more…? Or is this more of Jo’s narration that’s going on here? Or is it…?

Eric: Well, I’m saying he’s greedy, but it’s not the bad greedy. I’m saying as a kid, you can only feel that emotion at… that emotion only manifests itself as greed: “I want this for me now.” He’s lonely. He wants a companion. Boom! That’s greed. It’s not evil. It’s not bad. But he wants this thing for himself. I think he has very pure reasons for wanting it for himself at that time.

Alison: Yeah, I can totally see that. I don’t know, this… the word just still bugs me.

Eric: In that early scene, yes, he’s greedy, but I think there’s more there where it’s still developing into something that’s less and less healthy. As we see Snape grow, as his innate or early prejudices don’t slip away, as they continue to influence his lines of thinking and who he becomes and his choices, then Snape as a character becomes more of a problem. But early Snape, I really do in the last chapter feel for a lot, actually.

[Kristen grunts]

Eric: [laughs] Kristen, I guess we know your thoughts on it.

Kat: Careful, Kristen.

[Kristen laughs]

Katherine: I was just going to say, I feel like the commenters are trying to say that you learn to love. As a child, he didn’t have a good model of love, and then as an adult I feel like he wasn’t loved by anyone, either. So I feel like they’re justifying that yeah, maybe he doesn’t love in a conventional way, but he wasn’t brought up in a conventional way. He hasn’t experienced it in a conventional way. That doesn’t invalidate it; he’s loving the way that he knows how to.

Kristen: But you have kids and family members who love a child unconditionally [that will] still turn out bad, who still do not know how to love right, and it’s just all [due] to chemicals and stuff like that in the brain and how their brain is working. This is where this comment annoys me; that Snape was not raised in an emotionally healthy household. There are plenty of people out there who are that still turn out like Snape. I think Alison was saying everybody has a choice.

Eric: And here’s another facet of last week’s discussion in response/comment form from SnapesManyButtons. They say,

“I don’t believe Snape hated Muggles because of any pureblood bigotry, heck he was a half-blood and his mother married a Muggle. Why would she teach him that? I think he hated Muggles simply because his father was so horrible, and the other Muggles he lived around looked down on him for his poverty. Surely Petunia wasn’t the only one who thought his address was a poor recommendation. His only experiences with Muggles were negative. I remember going away to college and a lot of us were surprised at how different the world was from where we grew up. As a child you think the whole world is like your world, so he would think all Muggles are as terrible as the ones in his life. Rowling actually said Snape didn’t die for ideals, so that wasn’t what it was about for him. He wanted to belong, he wanted connections that could help him after he left school, he wanted protection from people who wanted to harm him. And there was only one group that was offering him any of that.”

Kat: I take issue with that. Why couldn’t Lily be all those things?

Alison: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say.

Eric and Kristen: Mhm.

Eric: Well, Lily and Snape are always being pulled apart, right? [In] all of those memories, that’s the underlying thing, that Snape and Lily are being pulled apart, so Lily…

Alison: Uhh…

Eric: There was a certain point where Lily couldn’t be that for him, and it was the same point where he was finally getting into the bad trouble, essentially.

Alison: I wouldn’t say…

Kat: I mean, the thing is… Yeah, I don’t agree with that because there was a lot of talk last week about: Would Snape have been a different person if he [were] Sorted into Gryffindor? And we were mostly split on that, but I think trying to defend his actions by saying that the Death Eaters were the only group of people that would accept him I think is kind of bull because Lily wanted to accept him the whole time and he wasn’t listening to her ever. Not once.

Kristen: Mhm.

Kat: So I think that’s his fault.

Alison: Yeah, I would say it’s less of them being pulled apart and more of Snape making the choices – again, choices – to separate himself from things that… He made choices that Lily couldn’t… not accept, but Lily couldn’t agree with.

Eric: Well, so far as I can tell, Snape up until Year Four or Five was still meeting with Lily regularly on the school grounds.

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: As far as I’m concerned, he made choices to keep in touch with her and…

Alison: But he also made choices to do things that caused them to have this ideological split.

Eric: But see, I feel like Snape chose to be as close to Lily as he possibly could still, even though they were in different Houses. I think it would have made a difference if Snape [were] in Gryffindor. I think it would have made a big difference being much closer to Lily early on and learning through example because you can’t teach certain people some things; they have to experience it for themselves. You can’t just tell somebody that and they believe it. I think being in Gryffindor would have really changed him. Instead, being in Slytherin, he found people who were more along the lines of what he had been generally more suited to, unfortunately, and I think it dragged him down. I think that he really could have been different, and I think that having Lily’s love close to him would have changed that. I’m not saying they would have ended up together. Who knows? But I think that things would have been a lot different for him.

Kat: I think, too, that’s one of the major issues with Snape: While he may have changed internally over time, he decided to keep all of that private and not show it to the world…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … which I think is kind of his biggest fault [because] people are like, “Oh, people can change, people can change!” Sure, people can change, but they have to decide to share that with the world, and that’s not something that Snape did.

Eric: Wait…

Kat: So for me, we can’t sympathize with him and say, “Oh, he changed, he loved Lily, he’s such a virtuous guy,” when he kept all of that private.

Eric: Well, hang on, why does it need to be public? I’m really confused now.

Alison: Well, okay, maybe not public but at least act on it a little bit more. I mean, sure, he was protecting Harry but he also was body shaming 14-year-old girls and threatening to poison children’s pets… [laughs]

Eric: Hang on, let’s not talk about his teaching practices. I think everything said on last week’s episode is totally true and 100% back… everything said about Snape’s teaching practices. I hate him.

[Kat laughs]

Eric: But we’re talking about Snape and somehow how his love is anybody else’s business. What would you prefer that Snape do regarding his love for [Lily]? I’m confused.

Kat: Okay, so there were a lot of comments last week about how Lily’s love changed Snape.

Eric: Right.

Kat: Because he defends Hermione and says to Phineas, “Don’t use that word [Mudblood],” and all of that stuff.

Eric: Oh, okay.

Kat: If that was truly who he was and truly who he ended up being – which I do think in part was who Snape was – I feel like he should have shown that to the world a bit more. If you want me to be sympathetic to Snape and think that he grew up to be a hero, then he should have acted more the hero outwardly instead of keeping it private and inside and [letting] people continue to think that he was a jackass.

Eric: Okay, here’s a rebuttal to that, which is something… and I agree with certain listeners who stated that this part may have been less covered in Michael’s extensive chapter discussion – which I know he worked for hours on – and I thought the discussion itself was pieced together very well. But one thing it did not drive home enough was the contribution of Dumbledore to the whole equation. And for me to put this in the most succinct quick way I can but obviously having a lot more to say on the subject, my position in response to what you just said, Kat, is that by the time it mattered, where his love for Lily hit a point where he needed to continue to appear outwardly as a jackass… because ultimately, that was the only way he could be useful [in] this whole Dumbledore equation of Dumbledore recruiting Snape to be his spy. He needed to keep secret his love for Lily, his most redeeming qualities, because that’s what enabled him to spy on Voldemort and that’s what essentially kept him alive long enough to put everything in motion that needed to be in motion. And what Dumbledore did to Snape is so manipulative – and I think we can agree that there were a lot of wrong things about that – but Snape could not ever outwardly express himself… I know it’s presented in the last chapter as a choice. It’s presented that way because Dumbledore is like, “You really don’t want to let people know the best part of you?” But that’s exactly what enables Snape to remain undercover for so long as a double agent.

Kristen: Voldemort wasn’t around for many years. There were plenty of years where he didn’t have to act the way he acted, and especially to kids not…

Alison: Yeah. Yes!

Eric: Voldemort… let’s not talk about his teaching practices!

Kristen: I’m not! I’m talking about his personality!

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Voldemort was around when they were kids. There was talk of him joining his Death Eater buddies and Lily specifically mentions You-Know-Who…

Kristen: No, not when he’s a kid… When Harry and all these kids are around him, he still acts down to them.

Kat: Right.

Alison: There’s a difference between keeping on a mask and keeping a certain face to play this double agent role, and being a terrible human being and a bully…

Kristen: He’s verbally abusing these kids.

Alison: … and picking on these kids that have nothing to do with the situation at all whatsoever. How does Neville have to do with the situation? I mean, he does, but he doesn’t really. There’s no reason for him to pick on Neville all the time. There’s no reason for him to pick on Hermione all the time. There’s no real good reason in this goal of keeping this double agent status that is going to make him be rude to these kids who are not a part of this, really.

Kristen: He can still be a nice badass.

Eric: I more or less agree with this. But what I will say here is at a certain point, Snape became Dumbledore’s, and you lose your free will when that happens. I think really, Snape’s entire… Was he an asshole to students? Yes, absolutely. It makes him a very, very bad man, and there’s no excusing it. I will say that I see it as a direct result of him losing his choice in the matter. He’s essentially lost everything that he cares about and still has to keep going on.

Kristen: But that was his problem.

Eric: It is his problem.

Alison: Is that really his biggest choice, though? He could have turned on Dumbledore at any point.

Eric: Surely, because…

Kat: Yeah, there’s no reason he had to keep doing that.

Katherine: Well, he can’t just quit and not be a teacher: “I hate kids; I’m going to quit.”

Eric: No, he can’t quit.

Katherine: Exactly.

Eric: The whole thing is… the way Dumbledore phrased it in the chapter; he throws the detail of this infant Harry’s eyes to Snape and specifically says to him this infant has her green eyes: “I’m sure you remember exactly what her eyes look like, don’t you, Snape?”…

Alison: Oh, I’m not denying Dumbledore was manipulating him.

Eric: … poking and poking and poking him, going, “I’m sure you remember that! Well, here’s how…”

Kristen: “We’ll make a shitty situation good.”

Eric: “Here’s how you support that. Here’s how you make sure that her death isn’t in vain.” And so he not only has to suffer through the fact that he lost her and maybe never loved her in the correct way and never made the right choices while she was alive, now he has to suffer through life in general, but also raising and protecting a kid who reminds him so much of his mortal enemy from the first day on the train at Hogwarts.

Kristen: Good! [laughs]

Eric: I mean, I’m not trying to apologize for his treatment of children – again, I think he’s terrible – but you can see, I feel, where his character is coming from when it comes to not being 100% happy about everything all of the time. He had a lot of things that didn’t work out for him and a lot of things taken from him and I do see him as a tragic character, even despite his terrible treatment of children. And he should never in real life have been allowed into a school.

Alison: I’m not ever going to deny that Snape did heroic things [and] that he had some good actions. The problem is the bad outweighs the good he did, honestly, in his character.

Kristen: Mhm.

Alison: And so…

Eric: Really? Well, he saved the world in a way.

Alison and Kristen: No.

Alison: Well… not really.

Eric: Yeah, he did!

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: He’s also the one that screwed things up a little bit!

Kristen: A lot of bit! [laughs]

Alison: He’s honestly the reason Harry had to die. He’s the one who told Voldemort about the Prophecy, sent Voldemort to Godric’s Hollow, and that’s why Harry has a Horcrux in him.

Katherine: But see, now you’re putting too much of this on Snape. Because it’s Snape’s fault that he made his own choices that made him have to teach at Hogwarts – all right, I can see that – but it’s also Snape’s fault that Voldemort killed Harry. It’s like, if you trace anything back, anything can be anyone’s fault.

Alison: Okay, that’s a good point. [laughs]

Eric: Me personally, I blame Dumbledore and I blame Neville’s grandmother.

Alison: What? [laughs]

Kat: Thank you for that.

Kristen: What about Trelawney? Geez!

Katherine: Well, if she didn’t have a child, then…

[Eric laughs]

Kat: Yeah, so it’s really Snape’s parents’ fault for having sex and making him, right?

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: Okay, maybe.

[Kat laughs]

Eric: So on a little more lighthearted nature, we have sort of an interesting question. This voicemail, which we’re about to play, is from Arabella M:

[Audio]: Hi Alohomora!, this is Arabella M. I love your podcast and I just have to ask: How do you think Lily received the response to Snape in the afterlife? I mean, on the one hand he made the future sacrifice for her and obviously was very devoted to her. But he didn’t really treat Harry that well, although he did spend his life trying to protect him. Anyway, I just wonder, what was that meeting like? Thank you so much, bye.

Caleb: He walks up. She says, “Girl, bye,” and walks away.

[Alison and Katherine laugh]

Kat: I think she goes all Hermione and she slaps him.

Alison: Yes.

Eric: Really?

Kat: Like Hermione did… well, I mean, in a way, yes.

Eric: So both of you…

Kat: I think it’s going to be one of those situations where she slaps him and then she hugs him and says, “God, you were such a jackass to my kid for so long. But thanks for giving him the information that…” Well, don’t forget [that] at this point when Snape does die, Lily hasn’t seen Harry yet…

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: … so she doesn’t exactly… I mean, maybe she knows what’s happening; I don’t know what the mythology is like in the wizarding world. But she can’t really thank him for anything just yet.

Alison: I don’t know if she’d hug him. Maybe a handshake.

Kat: Well, I was thinking the hug if she already knew that Harry was “saved,” but yeah, she doesn’t know that yet.

Caleb: Nah, fam, I don’t think so. He’s part of the reason she’s dead and she doesn’t get to be with her son.

Alison: That’s true.

Kristen: She just walks up [and] goes, “Bye, Felicia.”

Eric: You guys’ views of the afterlife are all so negative! This isn’t… so Lily is never in heaven where everything’s all right?

Caleb: All right, so I’m not saying she’s going to be angry at him. I was joking about the, “Girl, bye,” sort of.

[Alison and Katherine laugh]

Caleb: But whatever. I think she can still… Also, we’re taking a very religious assumption of what the afterlife is…

Eric: Sure, sure.

Kristen: Yeah.

Caleb: … that everyone’s happy. But I still think that if this [were] to happen, she doesn’t have to be rude to him, but she also probably doesn’t want much to do with him. The fact remains he is a significant reason of why she’s no longer in that world. And while she can be happy because she’s with James, she doesn’t get to be a part of her son’s life because of him, in a way.

Kristen: But she’ll be in heaven and be happy, so she’ll be nowhere near him when he dies.

Eric: Well, it was her choice to stand in front of Voldemort and protect her son, and I think that…

Caleb: That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t blame him, though.

Eric: No, but I think that would be a choice that she would defend to her own death. So there wouldn’t be any blame of, “I’m dead because of you.” I don’t think that that… That doesn’t flow that way to me.

Caleb: Well, I also don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive. She can still be very defiant and defensive of that choice that she made but still place some of the blame on him for what he did.

Eric: I think it depends on your view regarding the afterlife, if when we die we gain any additional knowledge that we didn’t have before. If you become more or less omnipotent [or] if you become more aware of the lives that are still being lived on earth or not I think makes a difference in how you approach answering this sort of question. Because if Lily could see how flawed and terrible, but still the fact that it’s love, that Snape feels for her, I think she would feel a little bit differently than if she were just still alive but meeting him on the street after the events had occurred.

Katherine: See, I think that would make things awkward. Couldn’t she just be like, “Oh, you literally love me and that’s colored your entire life and now I have to deal with that in an eternal setting where I have a husband”?

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: No, she’d be happy. It’s heaven. She’d be way away from him.

Alison: I was going to say, I feel like she might see him across the street and they might make eye contact but then she would just walk away with James and they’d be happy.

Katherine: Like the end of Batman?

Kristen: That awkward smile.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Very Miranda Priestly of her, then, you’re saying.

Alison: [laughs] Sure.

Kat: The Devil Wears Prada, right? Yeah.

Kristen: All right. After that lovely discussion, why don’t we hop on over to the Podcast Question of the Week responses?

Eric: Woo!

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: This is a reminder of what the question was for last week:

“The single most cited moment of Snape’s love for Lily is in his declaration that everything he does will ‘always’ be for Lily. We see that the text states, ‘his eyes were full of tears,’ and we assume that to be Dumbledore. Our decision touched on this a bit, but we want to know what you think is the motivation behind this rush of emotion. How does this moment define or inform the individual storylines of Snape and/or Dumbledore, and the overall themes of the Potter novels?”

So do we want to listen to this first one?

[Audio:] Hello, I’m Christine from Germany. I’m 53 years old and I love your podcast. Well, I have the German edition and there it is said, [reads passage from Deathly Hallows in German] According to this edition, it is Snape’s eyes which are full of tears. Then in the Hindi edition, it is said, [reads passage from Deathly Hallows in Hindi] This means Dumbledore’s eyes are full of tears. I find this very interesting, the translation differences. Well, to me personally, at this moment Snape is realizing for the first time his real love for Lily. And as he opens up his heart, his eyes are filling with tears and also Dumbledore’s eyes. And this is [a] very touching moment. Well, this is my opinion and thank you so much. Goodbye.

Caleb: So it’s a pretty interesting… I mean, I had to reread this a couple of times after you guys talked about this. For some reason I always assumed it was Snape’s, but when I reread it I agree that it’s definitely Dumbledore. But obviously, it’s unclear enough to where there was obviously… there wasn’t consultation on the translation because I would have thought Jo would have cleared that up. I don’t think she intended to make it ambiguous.

Eric: No, I completely agree. I was blown away by the ambiguity of how it’s worded in the English [version]. And to know that that then influenced these translations where in German it says they’re Snape’s eyes but in Hindi it’s Dumbledore’s… that’s unbelievable to me. That’s huge! That’s absolutely huge. So whereas this comment is talking about Snape maybe fully realizing his love for Lily at that moment, I think it would have been obvious the first time he saw his Patronus was a doe. So I would say that I don’t think it’s necessarily that he’s having any revelation. I do tend to attribute it to Dumbledore’s eyes being wet. I really strongly think it’s Dumbledore. I think in that sentence it’s Dumbledore who is turning around and so therefore I think it’s Dumbledore when it says, “His eyes were gleaming with tears.” I do tend to think that it’s still Dumbledore but I think that’s just where I land. I can definitely see where it’s ambiguous.

Kat: Does anyone think that it’s Snape’s?

Katherine: I thought it was Dumbledore’s but then I was rereading it and I can buy that it’s Snape’s. I just… yeah, I guess…

Eric: If it [were] like, “Dumbledore turned and Snape’s eyes were gleaming with tears…”

Caleb: It technically certainly could be because it’s an independent clause and there’s no clear modification, but I think with the flow of the pronouns and everything it’s supposed to be Dumbledore. But I’m surprised the editor didn’t catch it.

Kat: Yeah. I always thought it was Snape up until I read it this last time for last week’s episode, honestly.

Caleb: Yeah, I was exactly the same. I think you read it wanting/assuming/something it to be Snape. Or I shouldn’t say everyone, but I certainly… it was just second nature. “Oh, yeah, this is supposed to be Snape,” and then [I] had to rethink it.

Kat: We just heard his whole sad tale, right? About his life and everything. So I guess I just… I always read it as Snape.

Caleb and Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: But it’s important to see how moved somebody else is by this, and that it’s Dumbledore.

Alison: Yeah, I was going to say I’ve always read it as Dumbledore.

Kristen: All right. Our next comment comes from skgai, and they say,

”In the “Always” scene, Dumbledore is surprised and cries because he never thought Snape’s love was true. As the hosts accurately pointed out, he thought Snape’s love to only be possessive and obsessive. But Snape produces a Patronus or a “pure, protective magical concentration of happiness and hope.” Dumbledore knows that Snape’s doe could only be conjured out of real love as Lily is Snape’s happiest memory. Dumbledore, who greatly laments Snape’s character, cries tears of hope and happiness. Dumbledore thought he could just use Snape’s possessive fanaticism to his advantage and as the situation was perilous, was willing to do so, but he is so relieved when he sees he misunderstood his man for the better.”

Alison: I don’t buy that, “A Patronus can only come from a place of true love.” I don’t buy that.

Caleb: I think that’s… I think it can if it’s… I think it has to if it’s based on a person. I don’t think he could conjure… I just think that the happiness that’s associated with a Patronus is so pure that it couldn’t be framed out of something that’s not.

Kat: I think it’s more important to look at a Patronus as an expression of the heart and not of love, which I think can be different things.

Alison: Yeah.

Kat: As I pointed out last week, remember that Umbridge can make a Patronus. She is pure of heart; that means that she believes in something so deeply that her heart believes it to be true. And I believe that is Snape’s case. I believe he believes in something so much that his heart believes it to be true. That’s why he can make a Patronus and I believe that’s why it’s a doe.

Eric: Yeah, that makes sense to me. But regarding Dumbledore’s reaction, I think that Dumbledore is genuinely surprised. I mean, his response, “After all this time?” shows that he may have expected that sort of love for Lily to have somehow faded or something. It really shows a lack of understanding in Snape from Dumbledore, that he’s asking a follow-up question like, “Did I just see what I saw?”

Kat: [laughs] There were also some comments I saw from last week. People were saying that Lily and James’s Patronuses are unconfirmed, and they actually are confirmed, just for the record. Lily’s was confirmed on Pottermore, and then James’s was confirmed [in the] Bloomsbury chat. So they are in fact a doe and a stag.

Eric: Oh, good.

Kat: So there were some people saying that maybe we just assume that it’s Lily’s, but it is. Jo confirmed it.

Eric: Okay.

Kat: See, Snape fans? I’m giving him the benefit, so stop.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: Our last comment comes from SpectacularlyHypothetical, and they say,

“I genuinely think that Dumbledore at least comes to view this as a relationship of equals. I say this because narratively, Snape and Dumbledore are mirror images of each other. Dumbledore goes through the whole series as an almost saint-like figure, all wise and all good, and consequently he is a fairly boring character in the mould of Gandalf or Obi-Wan. Or so we think. Snape, on the other hand, goes through the series as a thoroughly unpleasant man, full of all the worst facets of human nature. And consequently [he] was a very interesting character, but not hugely complex, maybe just someone along the lines of Uriah Heep. However, in the last book we get a single piece of information for each character, which makes us completely reevaluate them as characters. Both are revealed as deeply complex characters with conflicted motivations and desires but a common goal (protecting Harry). This is why I see them as being a partnership of equals. Ultimately, Dumbledore sees so much of himself in Snape and sees in him a chance of redemption for himself. I think Dumbledore’s hope for Snape is that he is able to truly redeem himself so that Dumbledore can be sure of his own redemption. I’ll leave it to you to decide if he succeeded or not.”

Kat: Well, the end of that comment is spot on, I think. Personally, for me, anyway.

Eric: It’s a partnership of equals? Like…

Kat: Dumbledore sees Snape’s story as a chance for redemption for himself.

Eric: Ooh. Okay.

Kat: I think that in this moment, Snape’s reveal of this moment does give Dumbledore hope that maybe he someday can see whatever he’s seeing in himself in Snape in that moment. Does that make sense?

Eric: Okay.

Kristen: If you all would like to comment or participate in the discussion, just head on over to all the mini responses over at our website at I thoroughly enjoyed reading everybody’s, so head on over there and join in the discussion.

Eric: And speaking of listeners interacting, there is a wonderful announcement now that we’d like to make, which is that this episode is sponsored by Paul Gomila on Patreon. Patreon is a thing that we are now a part of as a podcast. You can become a sponsor of us on Patreon for as little as $1 a month. And one of the great things about Patreon is bonus content. We’ll be able to release exclusive tidbits on Patreon for our sponsors. But ultimately, it’s a really great way to support the show and to allow us to continue making what we love to make. Check out the Patreon. You can find the link on the website on, or [at]

Kat: And thank you, Paul.

Alison and Kat: Yay!

Alison: Thank you.

Eric: Yes, thank you again, Paul!

Alison and Kristen: Woo!

Kat: Thank you, Paul!

Eric: Eaaugh, Paul!

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: That Paul… it moved!

Kat: So this is the point where I’m going to say goodbye to everybody. I have to go. Have a really fun chapter discussion.

Alison: Bye, Kat.

Kristen: Adios, amigo.

Caleb: Adios.

Eric: What’s that? Katherine is evolving! Doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo…

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Katherine has evolved into Kat!

Kristen: Da-da-DA!

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Caleb: And on that wonderful transition, we’re going to start our discussion of the chapter.

[Deathly Hallows Chapter 34 intro begins]

[Sound of wind blowing]

Harry Potter: I am about to die.

James, Lily, Remus, and Sirius: Chapter 34.

Voldemort: Avada Kedavra!

James, Lily, Remus, and Sirius: “The Forest Again.“

[Sound of fallen body]

[Deathly Hallows Chapter 34 intro ends]

Caleb: All right, so here we are with Chapter 34, the very consequential chapter. But not the most; we are not there yet. In this chapter, Harry comes to terms with his fate and Dumbledore’s scheme. He prepares mentally to say goodbye to his friends and his life. Harry exits the castle speaking briefly with Neville and passing by Ginny. He deciphers the message on the Snitch from Dumbledore and uncovers the Resurrection Stone. A special goodbye party appears before Harry presents himself to Voldemort. So at the very beginning of this chapter, Harry, having just come out of the Pensieve where he watched – or partook in – Snape’s memory, is finally having to accept the truth of what is now upon him: that the plan all along was for him to die. Because he had a part of Voldemort’s soul in him, he is essentially a Horcrux, and he’s having to accept it all alone. Here he is in Dumbledore’s office. He’s accepting it, but he’s also very afraid – which saying that seems a little silly – of course he’s afraid, right? But it was interesting that J.K. Rowling wrote it this way because this sort of scene happens all the time in books, movies, and TV shows, where a character realizes he or she needs to die to sacrifice for others or whatever. And it’s always built up as this very strong accepting of that sacrifice and not going to be afraid and just going through with it. And Harry has part of that, but Jo writes it still very vulnerable, very afraid. And I thought that was a really excellent way to write it. The part in the text is that, “Terror washed over him.” And this isn’t like a black-and-white scene; this is still very complex, even though he’s accepting his fate.

Alison: Yeah, it’s a very quiet way of accepting it. Like you said, this kind of .. not trope… this pattern usually comes in the heat of a battle and everyone’s freaking out. And then all of a sudden the hero is like, “Here I go; I have to do this now!” But it’s a very quiet, reflective moment instead. And he actually has to sit down and grapple with himself and make the decision.

Eric: It’s just so interesting how he found this out, too. It’s a conversation two other people were having. And they weren’t having it to him; they were having it to each other, and he was basically eavesdropping, or he was privy to seeing the conversation months after it actually played out. It’s really weird! But to fall back essentially from the Pensieve and lay down and let the fear wash over him and let the meaning of all this wash over him – I agree with you, Caleb – it’s special. It’s unique. It’s different. And for me, I’m wondering if it matters to him – and I think it does a little bit – that this is fate. This is something that has been years and years in the making. And it’s one of the first things he thinks about, how he was lied to all this time. But essentially this is what was always going to have to happen. So it’s interesting that on his way toward accepting it, one of the big things that maybe works to speed up that process is knowing that it is fate, that it was going to be that way always. What do you think?

Caleb: Yeah, I think that makes sense. And as he starts to grapple with this realization, he starts to consider the other times he could have died. So I thought this was an interesting look back at some of these pivotal moments. It rewinds us back to the beginning of this book, or toward the beginning of this book; he says he wishes he would have just died when they left Privet Drive, like Hedwig. So we get a little pain of devastation all over again about that.

Katherine: I also feel like…

Eric Yeah.

Kristen: Mhm.

Caleb: How about that?

Katherine: Because… is that ring theory? That’s Chapter 4. And this is Chapter 4 from the end. Right?

Alison: Oh, it might be.

Katherine: Is that what ring theory is? I don’t know. [laughs]

Caleb: Yeah, and then he goes back even [further]. He says he even envies his parents’ death. “This cold-blooded walk to his own destruction would require a different kind of bravery.” Fair warning, there [are] going to be a lot of direct quotes read because there’s just such chilling, profound language in this chapter.

Alison: It’s so beautiful.

Kristen: It’s just so great. Yeah.

Alison: It’s one of her… It’s some of her… It’s another one of her chapters where it’s some of the most beautiful writing that I just… oh.

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric This chapter doesn’t do much for me. [laughs] I’m a horrible person.

Kristen: Oh.

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Kristen: It’s my favorite.

Eric No, no, no. There is something that is… I’ll say this right here at the onset of this chapter – and I don’t want to alienate more listeners – I think that it’s an incredibly powerful thing for an author, who has constructed this character and has lived with them for decades, and it’s obvious it’s this huge sensation. Everybody around the world knows his name. It has to be meaningful, impactful, [and] difficult to write this character in a way that they are accepting that they must die and actively walking toward their death. That’s huge, and I’m not trying to belittle or in any way be disingenuous when I say, “That’s huge,” Harry accepting that he must die and showing up and not even raising a wand against Voldemort this whole chapter. [It’s] unbelievable, in terms of what it means for the character, but given all of the… I think maybe what it is… This was a comment on last week, but I think it was Michael who said it: The whole book seems to have been leading up to the unravelling of all the Snape stuff that happened last chapter. That, to me, was a payoff of a lot of the threads, and this chapter, in comparison, [is]… I think Jim Dale reads it in 23 minutes. It’s quick by comparison. It’s simple by comparison. It shouldn’t be. It’s Harry accepting his fate, but it’s pretty straightforward, and he has a couple of internal revelations he’s going to… which we’ll talk about later, but he… It’s him getting up and walking into the forest. Yes, it’s big, but it’s just… the sentences flow by and I’m like, “He’s clearly just going to get up and go into the forest,” and that’s what he does.

Alison: Oh, but it’s the language, though.

Caleb and Kristen: Yeah.

Alison: It’s the way she describes everything he’s thinking [and] everything he’s feeling. Just this one sentence you just read, this “cold-blooded walk to his own destruction.” Holy everything. [laughs] That is…

[Eric laughs]

Kristen: It’s like I cried this whole chapter.

Alison: The whole time. I just…

Kristen: From start to finish, and the wording just… it’s the wording that just…

Alison: Yeah.

Kristen: … it’s so beautiful, and it’s not necessarily that I’m sad about it. Toward the end, of course, I’m devastated, but it’s just the way it is written just brings tears to my eyes. I just love it.

Alison: It’s not supposed to be a really action-y thing. It’s very much a self-contemplation. He becomes very introspective, and she just writes this so… she just uses… Oh. J.K. Rowling has such wonderful power of language that she just pulls out all of the emotion. Oh my gosh, I’m going to cry just thinking about it, but… [laughs]

Eric: Yeah. Katherine, how do you feel?

Katherine: I get what you’re saying in terms of it doesn’t do much for you, but that’s because there’s not much for it to do. If this chapter [were] missing, it would be like, “Okay, Harry, [you have] got to go die.” Next minute, Harry dies. It’s a necessary chapter, and when I read it in context, I cry through the whole thing. It does a really good job of conveying that Harry is sad, but he’s still determined, and I guess maybe the reason that you think that it doesn’t do much for you is that you don’t see anything coming out of it. It’s literally just him walking from the office to the forest, and you’re right; that is what it is. But I think it’s necessary, and I think it has its effect in that you go into this fully expecting – maybe not, I don’t know – Harry not to come out the other end. So you can’t have him die and then have his reflections on death, so it needs to be… You need to see it from the perspective of: This is literally the last [time] we’re ever going to see Harry. This is the last thing he’s going to think. The last thing he’s going to do. This is Harry’s summary of the seven books.

Eric: Maybe that’s it. Maybe I never believed fully that he was in danger. Maybe I never… I always thought he would make it after all. Maybe.

Alison: Even after Fred, and Lupin, and Tonks?

Eric: Yeah. Especially after them.

Alison: Oh.

Eric: I’m like, “They died so he doesn’t have to.” I’m…

Kristen: It’s Harry Potter, you know?

Eric: Maybe that’s it. Maybe I just never thought he was in mortal [peril]. And again, I’m not trying to belittle the character’s decision. Actually, we know it was super important that the only way this would have worked is if Harry accepted death. That was Dumbledore’s puzzle box of a Snitch, that he has to accept that he’s about to die in order to get that to open, which was pretty rough and all that other stuff. I think for me, too, going off of the last chapter, I was just too angry with Dumbledore to really pay attention to this chapter; the whole pig-for-slaughter thing. I’m so glad that that’s a phrase that’s in the last chapter, “pig-for-slaughter,” because I think I was so angry with what Dumbledore was putting him to, that a lot of it was denial. And when the first paragraph is, “Oh, so I was this pawn all this time and I must now go die,” I’m still thinking, “Wait a minute. Back up. F you, Dumbledore. This is terrible.” So maybe it’s just that I tend to view this with a lot of denial and a lot of misdirected anger. I can’t value Harry’s sacrifice because I see it as pointless, in one way. Not that… For the character, it means everything, and for the author who had to write it, it means everything, but I hate that Dumbledore basically made events to be, to this point, where Harry has to stand up, take a deep breath, and go do it. I hate that, and I blame Dumbledore fully for it, but maybe that’s just, I don’t know, me dealing with the chapter in a different way.

Katherine I think that feeling is like when you’re arguing with someone and then you realize that you were right, and they’re wrong, but there’s just no point in arguing it. We have to do it their way because… Do you know what I mean? I think that’s what Harry does here. Yeah, maybe he thinks Dumbledore made bad choices, but he’s like, “Well, my anger isn’t going to change the situation. I can be upset, but at the end of the day, I’m going to have to deal with being upset, come to the end of it, and then go to the forest anyway. So I may as well just cut through all of that and just be like, ‘Ah. Whatever.'”

Caleb: So as Harry is finally getting ready to leave Dumbledore’s office, he continues to have this back and forth. He’s having this moment where he’s feeling so alive. He’s also feeling more aware of the miracle of life, but then he’s thinking about how it will all be gone very soon. And a very present, physical… I’m trying; I can’t think of the right way to say this, but Jo continues to bring up Harry’s… the beating of his heart as this motif of how life is shortening. And the heart realizes it, and it’s racing more and more as the chapter goes on. It’s almost this very “Tell-Tale Heart” presence coming up.

Alison: [laughs] So great.

Eric: I love that reference. That’s a good reference.

Caleb: Yeah, so… but it’s obviously a very different situation, but it keeps getting thrown in throughout the chapter, which I really love. So right now, he’s recognizing the beating of his heart, just aware of it as his life force. And then there’s this line where Harry thinks to himself, “Dumbledore’s betrayal was almost nothing,” and the quote goes on, ”He had never questioned his own assumption that Dumbledore wanted him to live.”

[Eric laughs]

Caleb: Which was just really striking to me because we’ve been talking this whole book about how terrible Dumbledore is, in certain ways. And we’ve talked in many chapters [about] how Harry goes back and forth, coming full circle, to accept [that] what Dumbledore did was the right thing, and whether he really believes that, even though he’s saying it. And now he actually has the full truth in front of him, and he lets it go. He has let Dumbledore… everything that he thought Dumbledore did wrong to him, he’s let it go.

Eric: I think that’s big.

Alison: It’s coming back to that moment in Half-Blood Prince where he thinks [about] walking into the arena with your head held high. That’s what I’ve always connected this to; he’s coming back to that moment. He’s coming back to that understanding, and that came after a very impassioned speech by Dumbledore, and the conversation between the two of them. And he’s finally seeing that there are things that go beyond individuals. And he’s just going to have to accept it and move on.

Caleb: Yeah, and there’s another quote in this section that says, “How neat, how elegant, not to waste any more lives, but to give the dangerous task to the boy who had already been marked for slaughter…” and this is Harry reflecting on Dumbledore’s plan for his death. This was… I haven’t thought about this passage so in-depth before, but there’s a lot of Shakespearean tragedy elements going on here. Also, some Greek tragedies from Sophocles and Euripides. This is really what this language made me think of. There’s just certain flow and rhythm to it. It’s just so striking.

Eric: So is it true that for Harry to be labeled a hero, he has to self-sacrifice? Is that sort of the trend that these books are going into? Like is the story of a hero’s tale [that] you need to at least be willing to sacrifice yourself? Because I see this as such a necessary component of, “I have to now go die for what I believe in.”

Kristen: I don’t think it’s necessarily necessary to self-sacrifice to be a hero, but I think it’s saying self-sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice. Like you have to sacrifice something to be a hero.

Eric: That’s true.

Kristen: But, and I think, this kind of self-sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice and so hence what makes Harry an ultimate hero.

Eric: Hmm. And the way it’s set up, though, with the Horcruxes and the connection between them influenced by the Prophecy, influenced by Lily’s protection, makes it so that this absolutely has to happen this way. Harry… Here’s something that may upset people, but does Harry really have a choice here? Once he learned that there’s a Horcrux inside of him, there isn’t a choice, is there? I mean, ultimately, you want to destroy this evil thing. Harry is continuing to want to destroy this evil thing. It’s not so much that he wants to die; it’s that he needs to. He realizes that he needs to die to destroy this evil.

Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: So I don’t know. It’s just so entwined with what he has to do… it’s so entwined with what he does that I’m less able to see big character moments to have a response… to have an emotional response to a character moment because I’m like, “This is Harry. He’s the best. He’s going to go do this thing so that Voldemort can die.”

Caleb: So here’s the bigger question I was thinking of: Harry is recognizing this plan that Dumbledore put forth, and also that Dumbledore knew that Harry wouldn’t back down from sacrificing himself. And he talks.. it’s just a lot of really incredible reflection, I think, for Harry right in this moment where he’s thinking about Dumbledore getting close to him and getting to know him and how this was all part of it. And I’m curious; did Dumbledore…? Obviously, we know it worked, but was this really the best way for Dumbledore to do it? Getting to know Harry and then this very weird route of subtly and selectively mentoring him…

[Eric laughs]

Caleb: … over time to make the determination that, “Yep, I’m confident that I can die and Harry will follow through”?

Kristen: Well, it’s a double-edged sword.

Caleb: I mean, it worked, but…

Eric: Yeah, it worked. That’s the best thing that plan has going for it.

[Kristen laughs]

Caleb: Right, because I wouldn’t have put my bets on it. [laughs]

Eric: That’s the only thing you can say about Dumbledore’s plan. [laughs] It worked.

Katherine: I guess from Harry’s perspective, you have to think like, “So how does he feel about Dumbledore now? Does he think Dumbledore made a good choice?” And you see him… he knew Voldemort would know that Harry was going to happily kill himself. It’s like… So I guess him comparing Voldemort to Dumbledore… So I guess that kind of implies that he’s not too happy with it. But then again, he also says later on, “I need to act like Dumbledore.” So then I guess he is saying that it’s a good thing. So I think, “Does that mean that Harry doesn’t know how he feels about this?” So how are we supposed to know how we feel about it?

Eric: Yeah, I really don’t know.

Caleb: So Harry starts to make his way through the castle on the very long walk to the forest, and he first thinks of Ron and Hermione. And he thinks to himself that, “Ron and Hermione seemed a long way away, in a far-off country; he felt as though he had parted from them long ago.” And there’s more heartbeat and injury that says that, “His heart was leaping against his ribs like a frantic bird.”

[Katherine laughs]

Eric: Okay, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful.

Caleb: Very… So Harry knows that he can’t tell Ron and Hermione what he’s doing. He knows they’ll try to stop him and he frankly doesn’t have time. I think he realizes he has half an hour before Voldemort’s time limit is up. But, man, how sad.

Kristen: Ugh, so sad.

Eric: Yeah, I mean… [sighs] his decision to not say goodbye to Ron and Hermione is pretty rough.

Katherine: Kills me.

Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: It’s really, really, pretty rough. I mean, but…

Katherine: I get it.

Eric: … it’s almost like… Yeah, I get it, too. Because saying goodbye is too hard.

Katherine: Yeah.

Caleb: So as he keeps going, he runs into Neville and Oliver Wood who are carrying a dead Colin Creevey.

Kristen: Ooh! This one hurts me so much.

Eric: You thought the deaths would stop coming, didn’t you?

Kristen: Ooh! Well, and it’s the line that she puts right after she says who it is. Like, “He was tiny in death,” like…

Katherine: Yeah, it is.

Kristen: [exhales] Gosh!

Eric: You’re right. You’re right.

Caleb: It’s awful because – I can’t remember who just said it – but that you think the deaths are done. Harry is walking to his death; surely we’ve gotten a reprieve after seeing so many big characters die. And then there’s just this tiny child. It’s so sad.

Katherine: I think I’m just crying too hard that I just skip over that part so I don’t…

[Everyone laughs]

Katherine: I didn’t ever notice it or take note of it. It’s just like, “Meh.”

Eric: Noun, verb, adjective, alliteration…

Katherine: Yeah.

[Kristen laughs]

Eric: … noun, verb… Just going through, plowing through.

Katherine: Dead photographer, whatever, let’s keep going.

[Eric and Katherine laugh]

Caleb: So Oliver takes the body of Colin Creevey alone, away, and Neville goes off. And Harry tries to get a look into the Great Hall to see, one last time, those he loves but he can not see Hermione, Ron, Ginny, the Weasleys, or Luna. And it’s almost – this is me thinking this way; this is not what the text says – it’s almost as if the school, as if Hogwarts is blocking him in a way from seeing them so that he wouldn’t be tempted to stay back. I mean, he was just thinking about how he can’t go find Ron and Hermione, and he’s trying to get this last glimpse but the school is like, “No, you’ve got to keep going. It’s going to be too hard.” Because the one person… Well, he’s about to run into Ginny, I guess, so it doesn’t really all fall through. But the one person he runs into and talks to is the one he needs to, not the one he necessarily most wants to.

Eric: Right.

Caleb: And so he gets out of the school, he finds Neville, and Harry pulls off his Invisibility Cloak. It’s an impulsive decision. Good old Harry Potter being impulsive…

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: … is really, finally coming to a good result. But so he speaks with Neville and he doesn’t tell Neville that he’s going to go into the forest. So I had to think: Would Neville have actually tried to stop him? Because my gut instinct is yes, he wouldn’t want Harry to die, but maybe Neville gets it a little bit… I shouldn’t say… gets it a little bit more. I think they all get it. But maybe… I don’t know, there’s just something when I think more about it… that I think Neville may have let him go. And – or – if Neville did try to stop him… I think we know the answer to this, but would he have been able to do anything to convince Harry to stop him?

Kristen: I think if Harry had explained what was going on, you’re right; Neville would have understood and would have let him go. I think if Harry didn’t explain, Neville would have kept him there.

Katherine: I think that that whole section speaks very much to the characters that are outside the trio. Even when he’s thinking about the people that he loves, he thinks of Luna, which seems odd to me. But I mean, I guess it’s something that shows about how much he has come to care for more than three people.

[Eric laughs]

Katherine: And his perspective of the greater world and everyone is important and that sort of thing… And when he talks to Neville, I feel like the way Neville acts toward him… it’s so mature. Neville is just such a top bloke. He touched his hand and he’s like, “Yeah, I know. You don’t need to say anything.” [In] that whole section, the secondary characters really come into their own as having their own importance.

Eric: Well, and with Harry, what he tells Neville and what he doesn’t tell Neville, he doesn’t give Neville the chance to talk him out of it. And I think that that shows Harry’s commitment toward doing this thing, so there’s that because he has, at this point, made up his mind. He’s not going to make it harder on himself. And also, I think maybe… I mean, it is, at this point, this act of protecting other people. It’s not only something that’s influencing his decision to begin with, but in not explaining where he’s going and actually saying, “Psh, I’m not going in there. Don’t worry about it. I have something else to do…” By saying that, he’s not allowing for the possibility that Neville… Even if he were able to convince Neville after telling him that that was something that must happen, the first thing Neville would do next time he sees Harry and Hermione – sorry, Ron and Hermione – would be, “Hey, you know Harry went to the forest to die.” He wants to control the information, almost, to prevent casualties, again because Ron and Hermione sure as anything would have run in there after him at an untimely matter and would have screwed things up or died.

Kat: That seems very Dumbldore-y.

Caleb: Which is a perfect segue.

Alison and Caleb: Yeah.

Caleb: Briefly, Harry stops himself from considering Ron and Hermione dying. So he’s explaining to Neville that it’s important to kill Nagini, should Ron and Hermione fail to do so. So this is a very important moment because otherwise Neville wouldn’t have known that he needs to kill the snake, other than just, well, the snake is with Voldemort so of course we want to kill it. He knows that there is a purposeful end to that. Harry stops himself short of thinking of the possibility of Ron and Hermione dying, which is interesting because he’s come to this acceptance of his own death, which seems so certain and resolved now but he’s still so invested in the two of them surviving and living out full lives. He can’t even fathom the possibility of this happening. But as you just mentioned, Kat, Harry is very Dumbledore in this moment. The quote is, “He must be like Dumbledore, keep a cool head, make sure there were backups, others to carry on.” And he’s talking about giving Neville this information about Nagini. I think this is just such an incredible moment of self-actualization, where he realizes he and Dumbledore, this is their thing now. He’s the partner in it and has to make sure it is followed through.

Eric: I think that – not to jump 19 years later – but Harry’s naming his kid Albus in some part reflects Harry’s coming to peace with Dumbledore’s decision. I’m not sure at this moment if Harry is okay with what Dumbledore has laid out for him, but he’s sure as heck going through the motions of following through with it. It’s not something he’s going to mess with right now. He is going to die. He sees the value in it, which is really powerful. I think he might still have some reservations and hesitations about the plan, but he’s going through with it and he’s going to this idea of Ron and Hermione dying is too much for him to even think about, so he pushes it out. But so that’s why he’s doing what he’s doing. It’s mostly for Ron and Hermione and for the ones he loves to not have to also die. I think if taken to task, he would certainly have problems with Dumbledore. I guess we’ll find out when he talks to Dumbledore next. But it’s something where he is really focused on, I think, how much pain he would feel if Ron and Hermione died. But I guess if he dies first, it doesn’t matter, but he’s still… again, it’s all about sort of him doing his thing.

Caleb: So Neville doesn’t know that Harry is going to go to the forest. He just thinks Harry is going to go on to some random task. And so Neville says, “We’re all going to keep fighting, Harry. You know that?” So Neville… I have to just try to process this because is this just Neville being defiant [and] confident that they can outlast this? Or… I just feel like Neville is smart enough now to know they can’t win this, assuming he is with the mindset that Harry is not going to give himself up. So does he just think they’re all just going to stand their ground and basically die fighting, or does he still have this confidence that there is another way? We get a character who we get to see inside their head that’s not Ron or Hermione, who [is] thinking about the endgame of this. I’m just trying to figure out what he is thinking about.

Eric: That’s a good question.

Alison: I think it’s really interesting in this section… in a roundabout way to answer this, a phrase that really stood out to me rereading was [when] it said, “Neville would take Harry’s place,” which is interesting to think about if you think about the fact that Neville could have been in Harry’s place, had the Prophecy gone a different way.

Eric: Yeah, that is very confusing.

Alison: And now if we’re saying Harry is almost stepping into the Dumbledore role, then Neville is stepping into the Harry role. And I do, I think he’s very much saying it’s better to die fighting the good fight than give in, and so he’s not going to give in. He’s going to… Neville still has enough hope that they can live and escape and defeat Voldemort in the way that Harry used to, that he’s not even necessarily thinking about death but I think he’s saying, “If we do die, we’re going to die in a blaze of glory,” basically, in a way.

Eric: That strikes me as true to Neville’s character. The Gryffindor in Neville is saying, “Heck yeah, we’re going to keep fighting and we’re not going to give up,” and that ultimately… Yeah, and you follow that to its conclusion, which is that they all die and are laying down on the lawn at Hogwarts. There’s no other way to live.

Caleb: So Harry passes up Neville and he spots Ginny, who is comforting a girl who wants to go home. Harry starts to think he wants to go home, too, then acknowledges – in a completely new way because he’s thought about this before – that Hogwarts is his home. And we get this line: ”He and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home here.”

[Eric laughs]

Caleb: It’s just tough to take them all together. But Harry passes up on Ginny without speaking to her. So it’s interesting that she’s there just to give him this line and he passes her up. Interesting choice, I thought. Wasn’t really the obvious one, I don’t think.

Kristen: He was like, “I don’t want to deal with that little girl crying.”

[Eric and Kat laugh]

Caleb: Right. That’s so unattractive.

[Kristen laughs]

Caleb: So Harry keeps moving toward the forest and he spots Hagrid’s hut, and we get just a little bit more reflection to also tie in Ron and Hermione. He reflects on how he’s never going to be visiting there again. He thinks about those things that were like, “Oh, gross,” all along with Hagrid but now hold such sentimental value.

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Caleb: The tea and the rock cakes, and Ron vomiting slugs, and Hermione helping him to save Norbert. Just a couple of really good moments to think back on. And Harry begins to consider about wasting time, just sort of in general. And then he’s more and more coming to the acceptance of this end for him, and he says, “The long game was ended, the Snitch had been caught.” And when he mentions the Snitch to himself, it makes him recall the Snitch that he got from Dumbledore’s will that says, “I open at the close.” And he immediately realizes what it means. The reader is not clued in how this is all so obvious; it just happens very quickly for us. But he pulls out the Snitch and he says aloud, “I am about to die.” And there’s something about him saying that aloud, even though he’s been thinking that, that adds more to the effect. And he presses the Snitch to his lips. The metal shell breaks open and a black stone with a jagged crack down the center sits inside. There are markings on the Resurrection Stone that also relate to the other Deathly Hallows, so there’s a line for the Elder Wand and a triangle for the Invisibility Cloak. And Harry immediately realizes the purpose of the Resurrection Stone for him here. And he knows that he’s not in danger of… Is it Cadmus Peverell that got the Resurrection Stone? Am I getting that right? I think that’s right. So he’s not at risk of making the same mistake Cadmus did where he abused the power of the Resurrection Stone and it drove him to his own death because he says to himself, “It did not matter about bringing them back, for he was about to join them. He was not really fetching them: They were fetching him.”

[Alison sighs]

[Eric laughs]

Caleb: So there’s a lot of set-up that has come throughout the series to prepare for this moment, where James and Lily and Sirius and recently-deceased Remus are about to join him. How early do we think J.K. Rowling knew this would happen; that before Harry walked to his death, that in some way these four…? I have to think it wasn’t necessarily all set because I don’t think she knew Lupin was going to die in the end. Yeah, pretty sure she didn’t know. But do we think this is something she thought of originally to set up the Deathly Hallows and the Resurrection Stone, or is this something that came along as she wrote?

Alison: I think she knew he’d see his parents before he died. I think that was a very, very early decision.

Eric: That seems safe to assume. And I like that idea.

Kristen: Definitely.

Eric: I’m confused – or not confused – I’m curious as to how early on the Deathly Hallows were planned, as an overall series-arching arc; to know specifically [that] the medium of the Resurrection Stone would be Harry’s last means to converse with people before he died. Because it is very poetic.

Caleb: Yeah. So Harry takes the Resurrection Stone, he turns it over three times and all of a sudden, they are there. And the text says, ”They were neither ghost nor truly flesh… They resembled most closely the Riddle [that had escaped] from the diary…” And they were, “less substantial than living bodies, but much more than ghosts,” and notably, they were all smiling. And of course, as we mentioned, he’s here with his parents, Sirius, and Lupin. So [these are] just interesting forms, and as we were talking – earlier in the chapter, even – about… in the episode about Lily, how she would deal with Snape in the afterlife, whatever it looks like. [It] also got me thinking about these… that they would transfer this experience to their afterlife, if it’s the same thing. They’re not ghosts, but they’re obviously not alive, right? I don’t know what these are. They’re memories? They can’t be memories because Harry didn’t have these memories of them and they’re also, as we’re about to see, younger forms of Sirius and Lupin. So…

Eric: It’s weird. This is my issue, that this is different, I think. This is contradictory to what we’ve been led to believe about the Stone. They say – these characters tell him – that they draw power from his heart. This is, essentially, these people in his heart; his heart’s representation of them. They’re not in any way, shape, or form deceased individuals. I question whether or not Lupin would even be here at all if Harry didn’t know that Lupin was dead because these are characters that are coming from his heart. Yeah, they’re deceased, but they’re not, by any stretch of the imagination, having been just wrenched from the underworld in the way that “The Tale of the Three Brothers” leads us to believe is what happened. This isn’t… I’m struggling and failing to remember the Greek guy who goes to the underworld to retrieve his lover.

Alison: Orpheus?

Eric: Orpheus? And that’s…

Alison and Caleb: Yeah.

Alison: Well, that’s one of them.

Eric: Yeah, who’s the guy who he can’t turn around? Hades is like…

Alison: Orpheus. Yeah, it’s Orpheus.

Caleb: That’s Orpheus.

Eric: I love that story.

Alison: He can’t turn around or she’ll disappear.

Eric: Yeah. This is not like Orpheus going to the underworld and retrieving his dead lover. The way that I always connect the story of the Three Brothers to where… again, those phrases: “They’re not meant for this world.” There, I feel, the promise of the Resurrection Stone is [that] this is actually a soul that has been plucked from whatever ether or afterlife there is, and brought to life. Instead, these are characters that only Harry can see, and that’s the other big thing: I don’t think… For what turns out to be the Resurrection Stone in this chapter, [and] for what Harry is experiencing right now, I don’t think it would be possible to become addicted to this because if he had opened this during camping and found out that all the characters only he could see… that’s BS, okay? Because how could you guys…? It would immediately reveal the game which is that these aren’t, in fact, the deceased souls at all. This is more of a representation. This is the Mirror of Erised all over again. This is what your heart wants. This is what your heart thinks these people would say. I think it cheapens it, that they’re not actually those people who lived and died. They’re Harry’s body’s representation of them.

Alison: I don’t think so. I think they’re almost a mix between the two. I think they’re more like the Riddle from the diary. They’re more of that memory that’s almost taken on a life of its own, but I also see them as very comparable to the ghost things that come out of Priori Incantatem in [Book] 4.

Eric: Mhm.

Alison: They’re very much… I don’t know how to best describe them. It’s almost like a mix of, yes, they’re what Harry wants to see, but they’re also them as they lie beyond… Man, I don’t know how to describe them. It’s almost like a mix between the two.

Eric: So would Lupin be there if Harry didn’t know he was dead?

Alison: I think so, yeah.

Eric: What do you guys think?

Katherine: Well, I think that if Harry didn’t know he was dead, he wouldn’t have called for Lupin, right? Surely, the people that Harry calls for are the people that come.

Caleb: Right.

Alison: Well, but he doesn’t necessarily call for anyone.

Caleb: Yeah, he does. Yeah, I think he calls for them, right?

Alison: No, he doesn’t.

Caleb: Because that’s the way the Stone works for Cadmus.

Alison: I don’t think he necessarily calls for anyone. He just turns it over. The narration doesn’t say anything. It just says he turns the Stone over.

Katherine: I don’t think he calls for them in words, but I think the idea…

Caleb and Kristen: Yeah.

Kristen: In his…

Katherine: … is that the people that he wants to be there…

Eric: Yeah, it helps that the person Cadmus gets is his love.

Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: His lost love. So it makes sense, as a function of the heart, that he would get that person. But so the question of, would Lupin even be there? Also, do any of these characters tell Harry anything that he doesn’t already know? It’s actually Lupin who says to Harry… he explains why he showed up at the battle, and it was to protect the ideals and Teddy. I’m sure I’m destroying whatever the word he actually said, but he gives reason to… he gives a purpose to his presence at the battle that night, and I think that helps strengthen Harry, in a way, and I see it as something that Harry didn’t already know, but I also see it as the heart’s desire to ultimately have…

Katherine: Validate his choices.

Eric: … to validate his choices. And so ultimately, I don’t believe that the Resurrection Stone is spirits at all. This is clearly just some sort of manifestation of one’s own longing, and I think that cheapens the [promise]. I think it’s not the promise and I think it cheapens the experience just a little bit.

Katherine: I guess, to counter that, I feel like they have mass. I don’t know what that word is, but I feel like when they’re walking, Harry can hear them walking.

Alison: Yeah.

Katherine: And okay, maybe that’s just him projecting them walking, but to me, they have weight. If they want to walk with him, they can physically walk with him, which I guess makes them more than just – I don’t know – a projection of his imagination or his heart.

Kristen: Yeah.

Alison: Oh, and it’s also… it’s also the fact that the way they describe Lily just looking at every inch of him like she has never actually really seen him before and the fact that he asks Sirius if dying hurts and Sirius can confirm and answer.

Katherine: Mhm.

Alison: That makes me think that there’s something there.

Eric: What does Sirius say, specifically?

Alison: “Quicker and easier than falling asleep.”

Eric: Here’s the other thing. Sirius didn’t really die, okay? He got absorbed into a…

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Okay. [laughs]

Eric: He got absorbed. No, no, no, it’s weird! It’s weird that he would be the source… that Harry would even ask him that question because, as far as I’m concerned, Sirius never left his… Sirius – it was weird – blended into a curtain.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: It was the weirdest death ever.

Alison: Wait, did he go? Or did Bellatrix hit him with Avada Kedavra before that happened? Now I’m totally losing my mind.

Caleb: I think it’s movie canon that she hits him with AK before he flies in. I don’t think she does it in the book.

Eric: Oh, thank you.

Kristen: You don’t hear what it is.

Eric: That’s right. He actually, in the books, just falls into the Veil and is gone.

Kristen: Yeah, she hits him with a spell.

Alison: No, no, she hits him with something.

Eric: Ah.

Kristen: Yeah, she hits him with a spell. We just don’t know which exact spell, and then he falls into it.

Alison: Does it say what…? I don’t remember now. I’d have to go back and look for that.

Eric: Okay, but so my book vision of Sirius is always that he’s still alive, just on an impenetrable other dimension.

[Katherine laughs]

Eric: So for Harry to ask him, “Does it hurt, dying?” What are you going to do here? I just think it’s because the circumstances surrounding Sirius’s death are incredibly suspect. I still want to believe he’s alive, but that’s just me.

Katherine: But Sirius is the only one that Harry saw die out of the three of them, or the four of them, right? So…

Alison and Kristen: Yeah.

Caleb: Yeah, that’s the reason why he can see Thestrals, so…

Katherine: And that’s the reason why he asks him. He doesn’t really know what’s going on with everyone else’s deaths as much as he does…

Caleb: Yeah.

Katherine: … whereas [with] Sirius, he’s like, “Hey, I saw what happened to you. How did that feel?”

Caleb: So the reason – we’ll get to these quotes in a minute – but I think the fact he asks Sirius, and Sirius is able to give him an answer, says that it’s more than just Harry calling some form of memory and longing for them…

Katherine: Mhm.

Caleb: … because he’s imparting some sort of wisdom and I don’t think Harry could generate that on his own through a memory or longing or whatever.

Katherine: Yeah, yeah. I agree.

Eric: I think he could.

Caleb: We should get to them having this conversation. So we finally get to see Harry get acquainted with the four people [whom] he has brought; people, memories, longing, whatever they are. But James is the same height as Harry, he’s wearing the clothes in which he died, his hair is untidy and ruffled, [and] his glasses are lopsided, and Harry remarks, “Like Mr. Weasley’s…”

Eric: Aw.

Caleb: … which I thought was an interesting, inherent, implicit analogy. Sirius is tall and handsome. He’s younger, by far, than Harry… So keep in mind, James appears in the clothes he died in. Sirius, we’re not seeing the way he died. Younger by far than Harry ever saw him alive, he loped with easy grace, his hands were in his pockets and a grin was on his face. Lupin was also younger, less shabby, hair thicker and darker, and he looked happy. And finally, Lily’s smile was… Wow. [laughs] I’m getting slightly emotional reading this about Lily, to be honest. All right.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Me, too.

Caleb: So Lily’s smile was the widest of all. She has green eyes. So that means there’s color with these…

Eric: Apparitions?

Caleb: … forms that they’re taking. Right. She “searched his face hungrily, as though she would never be able to look at him enough.” And she says, “You’ve been so brave.” All right, I just needed a moment there.

[Alison and Eric laugh]

Eric: The age difference is weird; the fact that they’re all different ages.

Alison: No, it’s not. I don’t think it is. I think it’s… they’re all in the prime of their life.

Caleb: Sure, I agree.

Alison: And that’s a very… wait, now I’m forgetting if that’s biblical or [an]other doctrine – sorry – that when you die in the afterlife, you go to the prime of your life.

Caleb: Yeah, I think it’s just this very idealized version of what we hope the afterlife is, right? That we get to be ourselves the best way we want to see ourselves.

Alison and Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: Because that to me speaks more to the idea that it’s Harry’s heart.

Caleb: But at the same time, I don’t know if that’s true; if Lily says, “You’ve been so brave,” because…

Alison: Yeah.

Eric: That’s exactly what he needs to hear.

Katherine: Yeah, that’s what he wants to hear her say.

Eric: Oh my gosh. “You’re a Gryffindor through and through.”

[Katherine laughs]

Caleb: So Harry continues the conversation and he asks, “Does it hurt?” as we mentioned earlier. We don’t have to get into this a lot. Sirius is the one that pipes up: “Dying? Not at all. Quicker and easier than falling asleep.” It’s interesting that it comes from Sirius because like we mentioned, he’s the one that Harry sees die. But it’s also just [that] this line is a beautiful hope that we all hope is true of death that J.K. Rowling gives us. We also know J.K. Rowling was struggling with the death of her mother as she was getting through these books, so there’s a lot packed into just that hope for what comes next.

Kristen: Mhm.

Caleb: So we get Lupin’s real final moment. Harry apologizes specifically to Lupin. He apologizes to all of them, “Sorry,” or he says he didn’t want this to happen to any of them – didn’t want this to happen this way – but he specifically apologizes to Lupin because he and Tonks are now dead and Teddy will have to grow up without parents just like Harry did. Lupin says he’s sorry, too, that he won’t be there, but that he hopes that Teddy will understand why he died fighting for a better world. So for all of the struggles that Lupin had in this book – how he and Harry fought over how Lupin should be involved with Harry’s mission, or he should be back home with Tonks and the child – Lupin doesn’t get to be with his son. But we see this return to, basically, Harry’s story, and Lupin in a way saying goodbye to his son through Harry and hoping the best for him and that he hopes that he will be able to see why Lupin and Tonks did what they did. So Harry has this moment with Lupin, which is really touching. And he gets a brief moment with each of them individually, which is cool. Jo gives us that chance to connect with each of them.

Kristen: Mhm.

Caleb: And he asks, “You’ll stay with me?” And now I can’t remember who says it, if it’s James or Lily, “Until the very end. We are part of you, invisible to anyone else.” So they protect him from the Dementors’ chill because Harry doesn’t feel the effect of them anymore, which I thought… I realized this, that… because we have discussed this before – slight side note – if it’s Patronuses, Patroni, [or] whatever, but Harry refers to… he uses Patronuses in the plural, so we know that Patronuses is officially the plural form of Patronus.

Eric: Ohh. Mystery solved. This is what we do on Alohomora! We solve mysteries.

[Everyone laughs]

Caleb: Yeah. So the next, as he keeps walking forward… it says, “The dead who walked beside him through the forest were much more real to him now than the living back at the castle: Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and all the others were the ones who felt like ghosts.” We have this very chilling line, but I also was thinking this is a lot to deal with, just in general. We know Harry is going to come back from the dead. I hate saying that phrase, but he will.

[Kristen laughs]

Eric: Yeah.

Caleb: And it made me think [about] this whole experience. Maybe it will be mitigated by the fact that he got to have a moment with his parents, Sirius, and Remus, but I almost wonder if this will traumatize him [and] if he’ll have [trouble], at least maybe in the first couple of months or years, being able to relate to people because here in this moment he perceives Ron, Hermione, and Ginny as ghosts, as dead, something other than him.

Eric: All it’s saying is that these… that he feels closer to the dead than he does to the living, which is… that’s just something that I think is a mental preparation for death.

Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: You’ve crossed the hump. See, so many people don’t know when and where they’re going to die that we can ignore it. Once you know all that you feel closer to it. I think it makes perfect sense and as a metaphor for… because he’s made these preparations and he’s seen these people that he can’t possibly be seeing because they’ve died.

Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: [That] they feel more real to him is just a way of saying he’s crossing over. He’s already got one foot through the Veil, if you will.

Alison and Kristen: Yeah.

Kristen: I see it that way, as well.

Caleb: So Harry continues forward and he says he doesn’t really know where Voldemort is, but he’s confident he’s going to find a way there. It’s just like fate is continuing to push him along ever so slightly. Then Yaxley And Dolohov appear. They don’t see him because he’s under the Invisibility Cloak. And Harry follows them toward Voldemort to where… and Voldemort and the Death Eaters are camped out where Aragog once lived. We see a couple of Death Eaters there; notably, Fenrir Greyback, Rowle, Bellatrix, [and] Lucius, who is described as looking defeated and terrified, which I had to think about why. And I don’t remember if we know where Draco is right now. I guess he’s still maybe… well, we know he’s unaccounted for because Narcissa is going to ask that later. And Narcissa, whose eyes were sunken and full of apprehension. So I thought this was interesting because apprehension certainly implies fear but it’s a different kind. It’s just almost a nervousness. So she is stronger in this moment than Lucius is, who is terrified, whereas she has apprehension. So I think it’s interesting that Jo is setting us up for Narcissa to show her strength.

Eric: That’s interesting.

Alison: I haven’t thought of it that way.

Eric: Yeah. Going to Lucius, remembering him in the Shrieking Shack, he’s asking Voldemort to look for his son or to be let go to look for his son. I think Lucius has resigned himself that Draco might be dead. I think [for] Narcissa, her apprehension is [because] she hasn’t quite lost as much hope as Lucius might [have].

Kristen: Yeah.

Eric: By now, this is four hours or so after Lucius asked Voldemort if he could be allowed to go search for his son. And I think by now Lucius is really resigned to the idea [that] if his son hasn’t turned up that it’s because he’s dead.

Caleb: So Harry spots Voldemort, who is clutching the Elder Wand, almost like he’s… I can’t remember what the language is now – I didn’t write this down – but something like he’s praying over it or something.

[Eric laughs]

Caleb: I can’t remember what the descriptive language is. And Nagini is circling Dumbledore… [laughs] circling Voldemort and… so Voldemort is very surprised that Harry doesn’t come. He was quite certain that Harry would come and so he’s surprised that he hasn’t seen Harry show up yet. And so it’s interesting that Voldemort has to recognize that he was wrong about something, but actually, he wasn’t wrong. [laughs] So Harry doesn’t even hesitate to pull off the Cloak; he just whips it off and the Stone slips from his fingers, so the goodbye party disappears.

Eric: That is BS. This is bad.

Alison: What?

Eric: Whatever happened to staying with you until the end?

[Katherine laughs]

Caleb: They did, though.

Eric: These apparitions… until the ring comes off your finger? These apparitions are a projection of the Stone.

Alison: No!

Eric: They have nothing to do with actually…

Alison: This is the end! [laughs]

Eric: Even if Harry…

Alison: This is the end!

Eric: This is not… no.

[Alison laughs]

Eric: Even if Harry… there [are] like 15 more seconds, okay?

[Alison laughs]

Eric: If the ring really brought these characters back… I’m trying to live with the idea that only Harry can see them, okay? But even then, they should be presented to him even after the ring falls. The ring… the Resurrection Stone is supposed to resurrect things, either for good or outside of the ring itself. Oh, you have to wear the ring all the time, otherwise you can’t see what they brought back? What is this, at all, other than a projection…?

Caleb Well…

[Alison laughs]

Eric: The ring’s ability to project these characters from your heart; the second you stop wearing it, it runs out. That’s just a magical spell. That’s not anything…

Katherine: Okay, but maybe they left because he dropped it. So maybe it’s a sense of Harry is ready to do this alone. It’s about him and Voldemort. So he drops the Stone and then the “souls” are like, “Okay, he’s good now. He needs to be… he needs to do this on his own.” So it’s not the fact that he dropped it…

Kristen: That’s the way I always thought.

Alison: They’re following us.

Kristen: Yeah, that he dropped it himself.

Katherine: Mhm.

Kristen: “This is my goodbye. I’m ready to do it. I can do it. Now you…”

Alison: “I’m going to follow you back.”

Kristen: Yeah. “I’ve gone this far.”

Caleb: Right, and because of the next line, which says, “At that moment he felt that nobody mattered but Voldemort. It was just the two of them.”

Kristen: Yeah.

Caleb: It has to be the two of them alone in the end. In the very… that very final moment.

Kristen: So he did drop it and it fell.

Eric: So if his heart is powering the ring, his heart now cares for nothing but to get this done.

Katherine: Sure.

Kristen: It’s just the Stone, right? No ring? [laughs]

Caleb: Right, yeah. Just the Stone.

Alison: Yeah, it’s just the Stone.

Eric: By the way, all three of the Deathly Hallows are in this clearing right now, which is awesome.

Alison: Yeah.

Caleb: That is true.

Alison: And they are all on Harry’s person.

Eric: Except the Elder Wand.

Alison: Oh, yeah, no. Sorry, just kidding. Scratch that.

Caleb: But technically, it’s his.

Kristen: But it technically is his.

Caleb: He possesses it. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Katherine: So Harry is the Master of Death.

Caleb: As this happens, Hagrid is revealed to us. Recall that quite a few chapters ago Hagrid was taken off by the spiders and Acromantulas, and we did not know what happened to him. And this is the first time we see him again. He shouts, “Harry, no!” And Hagrid is tied to a tree; he is alive but he’s captive and he’s trying to break out away from the tree. It seems like they use a Silencing Spell on him. And I’m just wondering: Why did they keep Hagrid alive? Did they think that when Harry got there they would need to threaten torturing or killing Hagrid to make him do the final act? But if he was already there, what would it matter? He would be killed.

Eric: That’s a really good question.

Alison: I think they just couldn’t kill him.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: He’s half-giant, right? Stunning Spells don’t affect him. [laughs]

Eric: That’s awesome.

Alison: I think maybe it just wouldn’t work.

Kristen: I thought it was… he’s the groundskeeper, so he knows the territory a lot better than everybody and all the creatures in there.

Caleb: Yeah.

Kristen: So I thought it was just him as a backup plan if they needed him, but to guide them through the forest and everything.

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: That’s actually good. They don’t know what’s about to attack them but Hagrid could probably stop it.

Kristen: Yeah. I don’t know. That was my thought as to why they have him.

Caleb: That’s a good point. So Harry doesn’t draw his wand. He makes no attempt at Nagini; Nagini is too well-protected and he doesn’t want to risk getting cursed by anyone else. It’s interesting [that] Harry is able to think through all this logic as he’s facing his death, and he knows it has to be Voldemort. So first, Voldemort just considers Harry for a moment. He tilts his head, he shows this mirthless smile that curls on his lipless mouth, and he says, “Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived.” And Harry’s final thought is of Ginny and the feel of her lips.

Kristen: Yeah.

[Alison laughs]

Caleb: And then the last line: “He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone.”

Alison: Oh.

Kristen: And the tears start falling from my face. [laughs]

Eric: J.K.!

Alison: Oh, everything about… oh my gosh.

Caleb: And that’s how the chapter ends.

[Kristen makes crying sounds]

Eric: What if the book ended there?

[Caleb and Kristen laugh]

Alison: Oh my gosh! I hadn’t even reread it and I was just reading Caleb’s notes today and I was like, “Here they come! I’m at work and I’m going to cry.”

Kristen: Why did you have to put all those quotes? Geez, Caleb.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Caleb: I just couldn’t not.

Kristen: No, they’re beautiful. They’re great. Oh my gosh, it just makes me sob every time.

Eric: Yeah, if I could go back on what I said earlier, these quotes are moving.

[Caleb laughs]

Eric: I’m not a complete monster. I’m glad all these quotes were in this chapter discussion because they made me remember the weight of the sacrifice.

Kristen: Yes, they’re just so beautiful.

Caleb: These quotes… it’s great that this happens at the end of Deathly Hallows as we’re getting ready, as a show, to stop rereading the books because we’ll be done. But doing these close reads, which is something Noah used to always be so, so great at when we started this show… it’s like taking these lines at… like you said, Eric, I think it was a good point; that a lot of this you just read very quickly because it’s very emotional and you’re trying to get there, and you’re worried and anxious and nervous about what’s happening. But if you take a moment to break these down [and] make these connections, there’s a lot to really unpack there.

Eric: It’s really easy to forget that every single one of these words had to be written manually.

Caleb: Yeah.

Eric: They came from a mind and were scrolled down. Whenever I’m reading an engaging discussion, like Snape and Dumbledore [in the] previous chapter… every one of those words was crafted and didn’t exist before somebody thought them up, and that’s the most powerful. Everything in this chapter where Harry is making these decisions and thoughts, again, same thing: They came from J.K. Rowling and you just marvel at how wonderful and impactful each of them is and how these phrases that are perfect, that we tattoo on ourselves… it’s a pretty big deal.

Kristen: All right, now let’s go into this week’s Podcast Question of the Week. And we want to know: “As Harry walks toward his fate, he briefly interacts with some form of his parents, Sirius, and Remus. And although we have some thoughts on what those forms actually are, our debate remains unsolved. Based on Harry’s experience spending time with these forms and the ghosts and other beings we have seen in the past, what exactly do you think these figures are? Are these forms consistent with the Stone within ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’?” Please answer this question for us and leave your comments over on our main page at

Caleb: And we want to take a moment to thank Kat for joining us, a new Kat who gave really great insight and commentary. So thank you so much for joining us for what is, arguably, the most critical chapter that we’ve faced thus far. Last chapter was pretty important, but this is pretty critical in a different way. So thanks for joining us.

Katherine: Thank you. Thanks for having me, guys. So much fun. I was so keen for this. I’m sitting here… it’s reasonably warm and I’m wearing my Harry Potter beanie and my Harry Potter jumper, just fully committed. So it was such a great time.

[Alison and Katherine laugh]

Eric: Well, if you would like to be on the show like Kat – no beanie required, but it’s certainly welcome – Deathly Hallows is full. Our discussions for the next few chapters have guest hosts already assigned. But we did recently reveal what our post-Hallows plans are and that video is now public. Our Patreon subscribers did get a little preview video. We’ve edited it [and] made it available to the public, so go check that out. There will be opportunities for guest hosts, just as always, on this show. So definitely, that is an opportunity for you. Check out the “Be On the Show” page at You can also… there [are] new opportunities in our post-Hallows discussion to interact in different ways, such as submitting a topic. As before – we always say this – if you have a set of Apple headphones [that] include two earbuds and a mic, you’re all set. No fancy equipment is needed, but there [are] all sorts of guidelines and things for you as a resource on the webpage. So go check that out.

Kristen: And if you’d like to contact us, you can contact us over on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN and on Facebook at We are also on Instagram at @alohomoramn, and don’t forget to check out our wonderful website at, where you can download a wonderful free ringtone. Or you can also send us an owl to audioBoom at It is free, and just keep it under 60 seconds, please.

Eric: And this is one more reminder for you, the listener, to check out, please, our Patreon, You can sponsor the show for as low as $1 a month and it really, truly does help support. It goes directly into making this show every week, so [I] can’t say much more about it than the truth and that is the truth. It really does help make the show possible. Thanks again to the sponsor of this week’s episode once more, who was Paul Gomila. Thank you so much, Paul, again for supporting us. And you, too, can sign up. So enough said, I am Eric Scull.

[Show music begins]

Caleb: I’m Caleb Graves.

Kristen: And I’m Kristen Keys. Thank you for listening to Episode 185 of Alohomora!

Eric: Open the Snitch from Dumbledore.

[Caleb and Kristen laugh]

[Show music continues]

[Sound of train passing]

Kat: [laughs] I did forget to warn her about the trains. There are trains sometimes, Kat.

Eric: Oh, geez.

Alison: [laughs] Sorry.

Eric: Oh, Katherine, every seven minutes there’s a train that comes by. Actually, sometimes it’s four minutes.

Katherine: I love the specificity.

Eric: They’re supposed to be… Well, I know the schedule because I took time to learn it.

[Kat and Katherine laugh]

Kristen: I believe that.

Eric: I hate that train.

[Prolonged silence]

Kristen: And if you would like to join in the…

Eric: Are we ready to move on?

Kristen: Oh, good God.

Caleb: I think so.

[Katherine laughs]

Kristen: Oh, sorry, I’ve been talking and my mic has been muted. I’ve rounded up three times.

Eric: Oh, Jesus!

[Katherine and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: And then you keep talking, Eric, and I was like, “Why is he not listening to me?”

Eric: I’m sorry. I want to listen to you, Kristen. I try.

Kristen: It’s okay. I had it muted. I was taking a sip of water so I muted it and forgot to unmute. Anyway…

[Prolonged silence]

Kat: Give the Lupin love, as Michael’s request.

Alison: Yes.

Kristen: Lupin sucks.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Let’s alienate all of our listeners.

Kristen: The end.