Transcript – Episode 229

Gargoyle: Password?

Harry: Open the Dumbledore.

[Sounds of Harry running up stairs]

Harry: Headmaster!

Dumbledore: Harry, what a pleasant surprise. Is there something you wish to tell me?

Harry: Yes, sir. Alohomora! has opened the Dumbledore on your office for Patreon sponsors. Now listeners who contribute to the show’s campaign can chat with the hosts and each other about the wizarding world beyond the podcast.

Dumbledore: That sounds like a serious breach of the International Statute of Secrecy! Should be fun!

Harry: Visit to learn more.

Dumbledore: See you in my office, everyone. Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

[Show music begins]

Alison Siggard: This Episode 229 of Alohomora! for October 1, 2017.

[Show music continues]

Alison: Hello, listeners! Welcome to our newest episode of Alohomora!. I’m Alison Siggard.

Michael Harle: I’m Michael Harle.

Beth Warsaw: And I’m Beth Warsaw. And this is a warm welcome to our guest, Rita Shibko? [pronounces it “Shiboko”] Is that how you say your name?

Rita Shibko: Shibko. [pronounces it “Shibko”]

Beth: Shibko? Awesome.

Rita: Yep. Thank you. [laughs]

Alison: Tell us a little about yourself, Rita. What House are you in? How’d you get into Harry Potter? All that jazz.

Rita: Sure. So I’m originally from Ukraine, and I read the books first in Russian and one of my best friends was getting really into it so naturally, I wanted nothing to do with it because, like, “Ugh, he only likes lame books.” And he leant me his copy and then I was hooked. I mean, whenever we had fireworks happening, I was like, “Oh, Lumos!” like I’m casting it with my wand.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Aww.

Rita: And I just remember watching… That was my first real movie theater experience, watching Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. Oh my goodness, that was magical. And then in 2002, my family actually moved to the US and my parents said I could bring two books, and at that point, only four were out, so naturally, I was like, “That is the most evil thing that my parents could ever do.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Rita: But I was like, “Ehh, I need to get more bang for my buck,” so I brought Goblet and Prisoner because Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets were too small. And I don’t know; I think my parents always thought that I would grow out of it, but I just truly never did. I mean, now I’m an adult, I’m in grad school, and I still get so much out of it on every single reread. I love it.

Michael: That is so cool. I love when we have international guests because I thought I detected just a hint of a lilt of an accent in your audition, so that’s really neat to hear. So did you end up reading them in English after you moved? The copies that you moved with, you said you read them in a different language, right? When you first read them?

Rita: Right, so I first read them in Russian and some of the names are a little bit different, so it was a little bit of an adjustment of “Oh, turns out his name is Snape,” and for whatever reason they changed that because I don’t think, phonetically, it quite translates. But it wasn’t as big of a deal. But now I own multiple copies of them in English, but it actually turns out that I was just learning English and I read Order of the Phoenix and I could never figure out why I hated that book.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Rita: And it turns out that I just didn’t understand the majority of it! So when I went back and reread it all these years later, I was like, “Oh, I did not pick up on all of these subtleties.” I just picked up on the major plot beads and I just had missed all of this, all of the great writing, and so now I can appreciate it more as I go back to it.

Michael: That’s so cool. Rita, did you say what House you’re in?

Rita: I have a bit of an identity crisis…

[Everyone laughs]

Rita: Every quiz I’ve ever taken has Sorted me into Ravenclaw, but I just really think that I’m a Slytherin.

Michael: Ooh!

Rita: And on Pottermore, my Patronus is a rattlesnake, so I take that as affirmation that yes, I’m the serpent.

Beth: Ravenclaw and Slytherin have so much overlap, so you could make that work.

Michael: That’s really cool.

Alison: That’s super cool!

Michael: I love that. She was one of those Hogwarts students sitting under the hat going, “Not Ravenclaw, not Ravenclaw…”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Before we get started, we should also mention [that] this episode comes out on October 1, which happens to be MuggleNet’s birthday! Yay!

Beth: Oh, I don’t think I knew that!

Alison: Yeah! So happy birthday, MuggleNet. It also happens to be Sam Clemmett’s birthday, so happy birthday, Sam.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Yes, they have the same birthday, but the MuggleNet one is more important. [laughs]

Michael: I’m sure he’s listening from his flat in New York City right now. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah, they’re having fun. I’m enjoying their pictures. Anyway!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: This week we’re going to be talking about a Chapter Revisit. We’re headed back to Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 11, “Hermione’s Helping Hand.” So make sure, listeners, you read that before you listen to the rest of the episode. And if you want to get totally more out of this chapter – you can’t stop thinking about it – go back and listen to our previous discussion on this [chapter], which was Episode 129. It was called “Confundledore,” which I think is still one of the best titles we’ve come up with.

Beth: It is very good.

Michael: Yeah, our guest on the episode actually came up with that title. And listeners, it’s worth noting that this chapter was voted on by you guys over on Twitter! Thanks to our wonderful social media team for putting these chapters of Half-Blood Prince out. We really appreciate the work you guys have been doing. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that this chapter won, considering that when I voted for it – because I of course voted for this one – there were two other chapters ahead of it. So it was really cool to see that this one ended up pulling ahead. I can’t wait to discuss this one. But before we get to the discussion, we want to make sure and give a great big shout-out to Richard Casey, who is our sponsor from Patreon for this episode. Thank you so much, Richard Casey, for helping out with this episode, and because of your contribution, we get to talk about Chapter 11 of Half-Blood Prince again! We get to dive back into it and explore some things that we may not have discovered before. And you, listeners, can become a sponsor for as little as $1 a month. We will continue to release exclusive tidbits for our sponsors. We just released our special video there first. Our Patreon sponsors found out first that Beth and Katy were joining us as permanent hosts! Yay! And we released a special video that we filmed at Universal Studios to introduce them. And as mentioned before, the video gaming Let’s Plays have begun, so those will be coming out on there as well. And we’ve been brainstorming a few other ideas that we hope to get out on Patreon as well. So once again, we want to thank Richard Casey for helping sponsor this episode over on Patreon. Thank you, Richard Casey.

Alison: Thank you! Well, let’s dive into our chapter, then.

[Chapter revisit intro begins]

[Sound of ticking clock]

Dumbledore: Three turns should do it.

Harry: Chapter Revisit.

[Sound of Time-Turner]

[Half-Blood Prince]

Harry: All right, girls, one lap around the pitch. Ready?

[Sound of whistle blowing]

[Chapter 11: “Hermione’s Helping Hand”]

[Sound of girls laughing]

Harry: Oh boy.

[Chapter revisit intro ends]

Alison: As the school year gets into full swing, Harry, Ron, and Hermione find themselves pushed to the limit in just about every way. Not only if the war with Voldemort beginning to encroach on the once taken for granted peace and security of Hogwarts, but lessons, extracurriculars, and social lives are starting to heat up. Harry is worried about leading a suddenly popular Quidditch team, and the possibility of not having his best friend on it, as well as Hagrid’s silence. Ron is showing some green eyes about Harry and Hermione’s friendship, but he perks up at Lavender Brown’s attentions, only to be deflated by the lack of attention from Horace Slughorn. Hermione, meanwhile, is breaking rules and scouring papers for news of the outside world. Together, they wonder what is next, both at home and outside it.

Beth: Ooh.

Alison: This is a good chapter.

Michael: This is a great chapter! Just from that summary, I realized – and from rereading it today – this chapter has a lot of setup in it. We’re still in the setup half of Half-Blood Prince. I think that maybe… I don’t know for me, personally… And we really examined that on our full reread of the book… But I think another aspect that makes Half-Blood Prince so satisfying for me as a reader, is there is just such good setup and excellent payoff in this book. This one in the series is especially good at it.

Alison: We keep talking about this every time we go back to this book, but reading this chapter again, I was like, “I really like this book!” I forget, and then I read part of it and I’m like, “Man!” It’s just so solidly written too. [That’s] one of the things about it. Man, it’s great.

Michael: Yeah, it’s still that thing, though, where everybody says they love Half-Blood Prince but nobody can remember what happened in it.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: I don’t know why that’s a thing because it’s so good. It’s so important. In a weird way, it suffers similar issues that Chamber of Secrets suffers as its ring theory connector book. Chamber of Secrets gets poo-poo’d a lot by the fandom for just… People don’t really often list it as their favorite, but it’s so integral to the series. And in the same way, Half-Blood Prince, people really like it but they don’t remember anything that happens in it. [laughs] So I’m not really sure what’s going on there.

Beth: One of the reasons I love Half-Blood so much is that I’m really drawn to characters, and Half-Blood really focuses on character development, I think. It does a lot of setup for the plot, too, but it just has so much character development in it and that’s what draws me to it, but some other people may feel that the plot is slow and is too much setup. I don’t know.

Alison: It gives a lot of “why” behind a lot of characters’ actions throughout all the plot in the series, so I think that’s what makes it really interesting.

Michael: And I think in many ways, that was a challenge being translated to other media because it had a rocky road to the movies and people have very split opinions on how it turned out. I think we know Alison’s opinion. [laughs]

Beth: I can’t believe you hate it so much!

[Michael laughs]

Alison: I hate it so much. I hate this movie. If I don’t have to watch it, if I’m not having a marathon, I won’t even consider watching it.

Beth: Oh my gosh, that makes me so sad.

Alison: It’s horrible!

Michael: To me that’s crazy too.

Beth: It’s funny because it’s my favorite book and my favorite movie, but I think it’s a horrible adaptation of the book. So you would think that I would hate it because I love the book so much, but I just love it. It’s so great.

Michael: I have the same feelings where I think it actually translates a lot of things correctly. It loses a lot of the essentials, but somehow, for me, it still gets the tone of the books right and the humor, and there’s something about it that just elevates what’s usually going on with the Harry Potter films to me. It’s funny that you said, Beth, that for people it might be considered a bit of a slow narrative, because it is also one of the worst adaptations of the video games because nothing happens.

[Alison and Beth laugh]

Michael: And there’s nothing in here to loan itself to a video game to the point that one of the major mini-games is that you have to make punch for Slughorn’s party.

[Everyone laughs]

Beth: I thought you were going to say that you just have to follow Malfoy around for hours.

Michael: There are parts where you have to trail Malfoy. There’s a part where the play actually turns to Ron when he ingests the Love Potion, and you’re operating Ron and he’s just stumbling around the hallway and there [are] hearts everywhere. The whole color scheme has gone pink.

Alison: Oh my gosh.

Michael: They did not know what to do because nothing really happens that would merit a video game transition. So I think that’s totally correct that it’s a lot slower in that respect. But I think it’s rewarding because you do get these great character moments, and this chapter has so many of them.

Alison: Oh, it has so many. We start this chapter at breakfast, and that’s where we get a lot of them, actually. So obviously, it’s only… Is it the first [or] the second week of school in this chapter?

Beth: It’s the first week of school, right? Because they haven’t… Oh no, I guess it’s been a couple of weeks and Hagrid is upset. Yeah.

Alison: Well, it’s been a week since Harry’s first lesson with Dumbledore, which happens pretty fast, doesn’t it? Oh man, now I have to look it up.

Michael: Yeah, because I think that does happen within the first week or so because Snape puts Harry in detention.

Alison: Yes, because the chapter right before this is “Snape Victorious.” No, sorry, [it] is “The Half-Blood Prince.” But the one right before that is “Snape Victorious,” which… Wait, nope. Just kidding. That’s a couple chapters.

Michael: [laughs] I don’t remember. Snape put Harry in detention for cheek during his class because Harry has been sassy with him.

Alison: Yes! It was for the “There’s no need to call me ‘sir,'” right?

Michael: It might’ve been. I think that might’ve happened already. Harry gets on Snape’s bad side pretty much every moment of this book. But they’ve had class with Snape already. They’ve had Slughorn already because Harry does the switcheroo with the Half-Blood Prince’s book in this chapter. So it’s been a little bit [of time]. They’ve been in class for at least a week, if not a little longer.

Beth: They’ve definitely had enough time to realize that this year is above and beyond what they were expecting it to be in terms of workload.

Alison: Why do you guys think that is? It’s not a year of major exams. They’re in between OWLs and NEWTs. So why do you think they feel like it’s so much more difficult?

Beth: I don’t know. Harry says that he barely understands half of what McGonagall says to them these days. So clearly the content is even harder, not just that they have more work to do. Yeah, that’s really interesting.

Rita: It even says that Hermione is having trouble understanding McGonagall, so it probably is much more difficult content.

Alison: Why is there such a big step up, then?

Beth: I’m wondering if they’re starting to learn more theory of the magic that they’re doing and why things work, and they’re doing more complicated magic so they have to understand how it works in order to make it function. I don’t know.

Rita: It’s also interesting because is this the wizarding equivalent of wizard college? Because when you go to college, classes are that much harder. This is [Calculus] 2 or – I don’t know – other hard classes in college.

Alison: This is when I wish we had a British host on right now. Rosie! The British education system, there is a step around this time, right? Where they go from… I don’t remember which comes first, A Levels or GSCEs? But I feel like there is a step between that.

Michael: Because I think one of the big things that they note in the chapter that’s thrown them off is that they have free periods. I think that’s what’s throwing them a little bit is that they have these periods where, of course, somebody like Ron has assumed, [as Ron] “Oh yeah, we got all this free time to just lounge around and do whatever we want.” [back to normal voice] And of course, Hermione has seen that reality of that, which is, [as Hermione] “No, that’s for studying.” [back to normal voice] And so I think that also has probably thrown off their mentality. They’ve never had free periods before…

Beth: Well, it’s like when you go to college and you’re like, “I don’t have class until noon? That’s great!” And then you realize, “Oh, I have to be doing work this whole time.”

Michael: Yeah, I think that’s right that it may be almost like a college-level equivalent, because wizards don’t have college as far as we know.

Alison: Yeah, they have training programs beyond, but…

Beth: Rita, you were mentioning what happens if they don’t go on to NEWT level.

Rita: Yeah, so what happens? Do they just have a lot of free time the following year? Are they invited to come back to Hogwarts and repeat courses or just come back and do the classes that they passed their OWLs in? I’m not sure.

Alison: Oh, I swear we found this out somewhere, because you have to pass the OWL to get into the NEWT class, right?

Beth: Well, we know that Crabbe and Goyle retake classes. Is it this year that they retake classes?

Alison: I think so. And we know that McGonagall won’t let Neville take Transfiguration because he didn’t get a certain score on his OWLs. But he can take other classes because he got certain grades on his OWLs.

Michael: Well, and that ends up being fine because Neville doesn’t want to pursue a line of work that needs that anyway. So he’s pretty much left Potions behind at this point.

Alison: So I guess it seems like if you fail them all… I feel like there’s got to be some sort of standard you have to pass to graduate.

Michael: Isn’t that the part that has confused a lot of people and this is a Rowling math issue? Didn’t she say somewhere outside of the books that you have to get 12 OWLs or something like [that]? She mentioned how many you have to get, but it doesn’t even fit with how many classes we know there are or something like that.

Beth: That’s classic.

Michael: And it’s thrown off… yeah. [laughs]

Alison: Well isn’t it something, too, about Bill or Charlie or someone got a crazy amount of OWLs that they should’ve had a Time-Turner for or something to be able to take those classes?

Michael: Yeah, it’s realistic however she figured it out. I don’t think this process has been fully clarified for us. But we have heard [it mentioned] that you can retake classes. Of course, we have other issues thanks to the math, like Marcus Flint repeated a year, mostly because she forgot that he was supposed to have graduated by the time she was using him in Prisoner of Azkaban. So she just said he repeated a year. And then we know that there are remedial classes because they pretend that Harry is in remedial classes in Order of the Phoenix, so that’s an option too. So yeah, I think there are ways to… I guess you just end up staying at Hogwarts longer sometimes. And Hermione is allowed to go back after skipping her seventh year so she can do it again a year after, so Hogwarts seems to be pretty lenient about that. Once you’re in, I guess you’re in.

Alison: Jo, please explain the education system and logistics of Hogwarts. Thank you.

Michael: I’ve a feeling that’s something she doesn’t want to do.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: But as we’re sitting at breakfast, they’re talking about school, and hey, guys, guess what? Harry has a clever plan that actually relies on magic. What? He never does this.

Michael: Yes, but it’s the most offensive thing to a librarian’s heart.

Beth: Yeah, this is pretty bad.

Alison: It’s pretty bad. So he basically takes the cover off of the old and new books, switches the pages, and brings them back together and says, “Slughorn can’t complain because the book cost nine Galleons.” So I looked up how much that is. Guys, that’s $66. It’s like a freaking college textbook.

Beth: Yeah, that sounds about right.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Beth: College textbooks are very expensive.

Alison: I was like, “No wonder the Weasleys can’t afford all of their kids’ schoolbooks all the time!” Holy crap! Why are these so expensive?

Michael: I guess we were right. This is college. Although, granted, if this [were] college, that book would definitely be over $100.

Alison: Yeah, probably. And it would probably be over $100 sold back three times, sold to somebody else three times.

Beth: So Michael, which is worse? The Prince writing in the book, or Harry swapping the covers?

Michael: Hmm. In library terms, they’re both horrible.

[Alison, Beth, and Rita laugh]

Rita: You could fix it.

Michael: We’re going to fine you for both. [laughs] To be fair, the swap of the covers… Because Harry has magic to rely on, like you mentioned, Rita, he can Reparo them and it looks fine. So that’s, I guess, not as offensive in terms of magic. The writing in the book… The thing is, technically, books with margins are made to be written in. If it’s your personal copy, that’s fine. Don’t write in library books, listeners. Please do not write in library books.

Beth: This has been a public service announcement.

Alison: Do not write in library books. Do not write in any books that do not belong to you. Is the Half-Blood Prince’s book really worth that? Do you guys really think it’s worth this plan?

Rita: With all the comments in it, it’s absolutely worth that.

Michael: Yeah, I’d say so. Seeing as Harry isn’t that great at Potions, and he needs to be good at it to get to be an Auror…

Alison: But considering all the trouble he gets into because of this book…

Michael: Ah, consequences, schmonsequences. It’s fine.

Rita: One thing that I found really interesting is that the charm that he uses to sever the cover off of the the books is Diffindo, and I didn’t remember what that spell did. I could figure it out in context, but I looked it up on Pottermore, and it’s a severing charm. And it describes it as, “The severing charm which can be used to cut absolutely anything.” And I thought it was a strange parallel to then translate that into Sectumsempra later on in the book. So I was wondering if that was the basis for Snape’s eventual evolution of Sectumsempra.

Michael: That’s true. Diffindo is like the nice Sectumsempra.

[Michael and Beth laugh]

Alison: It’s like… No, that’s a terrible analogy. I’m not going to say it.

Michael: And I don’t know if Diffindo is used in the books up to this point. It might have been in Goblet of Fire. I remember it shows up in Chamber of Secrets the video game, and it does what it’s supposed to do. It slashes leaves and vines and things out of your way. So it was introduced early in the canon somehow. I’m not really sure where it started.

Beth: It sounds really dangerous, though. Like Sectumsempra, the worst version of Diffindo… But what if Harry’s finger got in the way of his Diffindo charm, and suddenly he doesn’t have a finger?

Alison: Oh my gosh.

Beth: If it can sever anything…

Alison: I guess you could just say Episkey then, and it’d be fine.

Michael: Well, it’s interesting that Rita said that Pottermore says it can slash through anything, because theoretically, perhaps, it doesn’t affect skin or flesh. Maybe it can do anything but that. Maybe that’s its limit. This is also a thing that we’ll have to talk about in another episode when we get deeper into spells and magic because this has been suggested before, but this might also be an instance of the difference between light magic and Dark magic. Because Diffindo is not a Dark spell, but Sectumsempra is, at least as far as our understanding of that goes. So maybe it’s possible that it’s partially intent.

Beth: Yeah, I think that probably fits in pretty well with what we know about how magic works.

Michael: But I do like that tie-in, Rita, about Diffindo and Sectumsempra and then that Harry is using it on the Half-Blood Prince’s book. That’s pretty clever.

Rita: And I always love to see magic being used like this, just as second nature. I think in a lot of the books we see them studying magic or figuring out a spell to use for something, but Harry just whips out his Diffindo and Reparo and doesn’t seem to really think about it. It’s just an extension of him at this point, which I love seeing.

Beth: So Harry, using the Potions book, gets really good at Potions, and Hermione is not into that. She really resents Harry for being so good at Potions because of the Prince’s book, and she thinks that he’s cheating or going about things the wrong way. But do we think that Hermione would have still resented Harry if he’d gotten good at Potions on his own or if he’d used something that she might deem more respectable? If he’d gotten a tutor and then gotten really good at Potions, would she still be mad at him?

Alison: Probably not, because that’s doing things the right way.

Michael: Yeah. That’s what I was going to say. Hermione approves of condoned methods. It’s interesting, because we talk about Hermione’s character arc and how she grows and changes from Book 1. There [are] a lot of shades of Book 1 Hermione going on with the Half-Blood Prince’s book; she really gets on Harry’s case about it. But I think it’s justified because of the parallel that’s brought up between the book and Tom Riddle’s diary. I think that’s a reasonable concern on her end, about as reasonable as her concern about the Firebolt in Prisoner of Azkaban. Usually she’s doing these things because she’s looking out for Harry’s safety. She wouldn’t be jealous if Harry [were] getting good marks in Potions for the right reasons, because there she is next to him following the directions and working really hard and not cheating, and she’s not getting as good of a grade or as much attention as Harry. And that’s not fair.

Beth: But if Harry had gotten a tutor, and the tutor suggested, “Hey, next time you have to dice up…” whatever it was they had to cut up… “Next time, squish it with your knife, and see if that helps.” And then Hermione is like, “Where did you learn to do that?” And Harry is like, “My tutor taught me.”

Michael: [laughs] I bet you if that had been the case, Harry would’ve probably more willingly shared with Hermione what he was learning.

Beth: That’s probably true. And we see Hermione isn’t jealous of Harry when Harry beats her in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and so I think that’s probably an indicator of how she would have reacted if Harry had gotten good at Potions some other way.

Alison: Yeah. I think she’s just mad because it just doesn’t seem…

Beth: Legit?

Alison: Yeah. It feels like cheating to her. And she’s not about that.

Michael: For all I was ragging on the Half-Blood Prince video game, there is a funny addition where Harry gets so good at Potions that he’s acknowledged by the Hogwarts Potions Club, and they invite him to join. They don’t invite Hermione. And you get to go to the club off-class hours and brew extra potions, and the students always make comments in the background as Harry is making his potions where they’re like, “Ooh, that’s an interesting technique. I’ve never tried that before.” So yeah. Cheeky Harry.

Alison: That’s great.

Michael: Somewhere off the page, he’s part of the Potions Club now.

Alison: [laughs] That’s amazing.

Beth: Well, speaking of cheating in class, this chapter mentions that nonverbal spells start to become a thing and that people are either red in the face trying to do them or whispering trying to cheat and not actually have to do their spells nonverbally. And I thought it was interesting that suddenly now is when nonverbal spells come up, because we see adults using nonverbal spells pretty much all the time. And when we don’t, it’s usually for the benefit of students hearing what the spells are or for the benefit of the readers knowing what a person is doing. And so I’m just wondering, do adults really only use nonverbal spells? And if they speak a spell, do they do it to increase its power or accuracy or…? I don’t know. What do you guys think?

Alison: I wonder if it has to do with… I feel like a lot of the [times] we normally see adults use nonverbal magic, it’s with simple, everyday spells. They don’t really need to concentrate that much. But I wonder if ones that are more difficult they say out loud just because it helps with concentration, maybe, and channeling the magic. If you say the words out loud, maybe that’s helpful. I don’t know.

Beth: It’s so interesting, though, that now, then, would be the time that students are learning nonverbal spells. Because they’re learning much harder magic now, so it would make more sense to me if they were learning nonverbal spells and using those for their simpler spells, and then being allowed to speak their more complicated spells.

Alison: But I wonder if it has to do with learning how to use that skill just in general. They’re at the point where they should be good enough at magic – they should understand how it works enough – that now they can start doing this. And maybe when they’re younger they just don’t have… I work with teenagers all day. They really don’t have that big of an attention span. Maybe it has to do with that. Maybe it has to do with their concentration. I don’t know.

Michael: Well, this reminds me of when I was taking sign language in college. I took it for two years. And the funny thing about that was that when we started it, almost all of us were not only signing, but we were mouthing what we were signing. And in my last year of it, after a year of doing that, our teacher was just like, “Okay, don’t mouth it anymore.” And everybody was like, “What?” And so everybody was having a horrible amount of trouble trying to keep their mouths shut while they were signing because it was just instinctual because they hadn’t taught us not to do that. There were other things that we had with that too. Because we were mouthing our words, we were also using our facial expressions the way that a hearing person would use their facial expressions. But then again, about a year afterward, they were like, “Oh, by the way, facial expressions are really important and they change the context of your signs.” And we didn’t know that until a year in, and it was like, “Okay, now make sure that you raise your eyebrows when you’re asking a question. You puff out your cheeks when you want to make sure that you’re talking about something, like enlarging the word.” There were crazy things – very subtle things – that were introduced later on, and you have to completely rearrange your thinking. So that’s kind of how I think of it when I read this part. And for some people in the class, it came a lot more naturally than others. Some people were already trying, I think, to do that beforehand. Some people were aware of that cultural need beforehand, so they were practicing it even earlier. And I think in Hermione’s case, I’m sure Hermione is probably really good at it because she knew they were going to have to start doing this because she always read ahead and was aware of what would be taught. So to me, that’s kind of where it comes in. That happens in education, where it’s just like, “Okay. Well, you’ve been thinking about it this way this whole time, but that was only to ease you in. Now stop thinking about it that way and completely change your way of approaching this.” [laughs]

Alison: Yep. It’s like learning how to write a paper.

Michael: Yes!

Alison: We teach the five paragraph essay, and then at one point we’re like, “Just kidding! Forget that. That sucks.

Michael: “Don’t use that.”

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Alison: “Use the basic outline, but don’t only have five paragraphs. It sucks.” [laughs]

Michael: But it looks like Rita had some questions about verbalizing spells as well.

Rita: Well, yeah. I was wondering to what extent is it the job of the parent to teach, or to not teach, their children how to verbalize spells? So I wonder if, in the home, Hogwarts gives parents guidelines, saying, “Molly Weasley, it would be great if you taught all of your kids how to do these simple cleaning spells,” or if it’s simply based on her own desire to teach her children how to be neat. She says, “Oh George, this is the cleaning spell,” which George obviously doesn’t listen to.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Well, that’s interesting because we know that students can’t do magic at home until they’re of age. But I think there’s still… because we know that wizards can have the option of being educated at home. I still don’t know how that works if they don’t go to a magical school.

Alison: Well, technically, they can’t tell in a house who’s doing the magic.

Michael: That’s true.

Alison: So I think as long as their parent is supervising, there’s an unspoken rule of if a parent is supervising a child doing magic, then the parent takes the responsibility for anything that might go awry.

Michael: Which is why the Trace is super unfair if you’re Muggle-born.

Rita: No, it totally is.

Michael: [laughs] Because you’ve got no place to practice that way.

Beth: Rita, I think your idea is really interesting, though, because it reminds me of different parenting styles in the Muggle world as well. I know my parents were really hands-on with my education [and] even homeschooled my brother for a couple of years. And they were always reading with us and challenging our vocabulary at the dinner table, and hands-on with our homework and really encouraging us to go above and beyond with our learning. And not all parents are like that. Some kids just go off to their room and do their homework and their parents aren’t really involved in that at all. So yeah, I bet there are some parents who use magic teaching moments of like, “Ah, this is the spell that I’m doing. This will come in handy for you one day.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Beth: Or even just parents who… My parents made us help with cooking dinner and doing the laundry so that we would know how to do those things. And some parents just do it all for their kids, and then they go off to college and they go, “I don’t know how to do any of this for myself!”

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Rita: Exactly.

Alison: I think it’s interesting you bring up the household spells because I feel like, at least [in] the US education system, I think there are some things that people just assume your parents teach you, like household skills and some of those how-to-get-through-life skills. Not in every case, but I think our societal expectation is that some of these things happen at home. And so I think these cooking, cleaning, [and] daily chore spells might only be taught at home, which makes sense then for Molly to be like, “Kids! This is what you do.” Because otherwise, yeah, you get the roommates in college who don’t do their dishes ever and make messes.

[Michael laughs]

Rita: Well, they’ve never really had to cook because they’ve been at Hogwarts for seven years where all their meals have been prepped. So yeah, I feel like it would have to be the responsibility of the parents to say, “Here is how you cook an omelet.”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: But then that kind of sucks for the Muggle-borns again, because where are they going to learn that unless they’re going to their half-blood [and] pure-blood friends’ houses over the holidays?

Michael: Well…

Beth: They say, “Diffindo eggs!”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: We know the kitchen is not necessarily off limits. Maybe some really aspiring wizards go down there every once in a while to learn [how] to cook.

Alison: Culinary classes with the house-elves.

[Michael laughs]

Beth: See, the Muggle-borns need a wizarding Internet so they can go home and… [intelligible]

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Beth: Because they don’t have parents to teach them.

Michael: So true.

Alison: The Great Wizard Bake-Off.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: And Beth had a particular spell that she wanted to talk about.

Beth: Well, yeah. We are introduced to Aguamenti in this chapter. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time we see it. On the previous episode where we talked about this chapter, it was brought up that Aguamenti is used here and in the cave at the end of this book, [laughs] and so this is kind of the set-up for the cave. But I was interested in the fact that this is a sixth-year spell, and it doesn’t seem, from the outside, to be particularly difficult. So maybe there’s more to it than I can see right at the surface. What do you guys think? Is this really hard to do?

Alison: Maybe it’s one they do specifically to help them learn nonverbal [spells]. Maybe it is a simple one, but to help them get the grasp of nonverbal and make them feel better maybe when they get it. They put the simple one in this year.

Michael: Hmm… I’m not really sure because Aguamenti seems like it would be a pretty useful charm to learn early on. I think narratively you’re correct, Beth. It’s highlighted because it’s set up for how it’s going to be used in the cave. This isn’t the first time that Rowling introduces a spell and then stresses it because it’s going to be important down the line. Maybe this couples with the Gamp’s Law thing because we’re actually conjuring water, [and] you’re not supposed to be able to conjure food and drink. But theoretically, I guess you’re pulling the water particles out of the air. I don’t know where the water is coming from. Is this even clean water? I don’t know how this works.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Ostensibly, you wouldn’t be able to just conjure water of out nothing if you can’t do that with other things. This is why we need…

Beth: Everybody has water in their bodies; they’re mostly water, right? Maybe Aguamenti pulls water out of your body.

Michael: Ugh!

[Beth laughs]

Alison: Oh geez! That’s kind of horrible.

Michael: [laughs] Maybe that’s what happens if you do the spell wrong.

Alison: That’s kind of scary.

Alison: Then you get to be like Frozone where you’re like, “There is no water in this air!”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Does it stop at some point?

Michael: I don’t know. This is another one for spell theory. Also, if Rowling could maybe explore Gamp’s Law a little more for us and define it a bit better, I think that would help.

Alison: Yes. Gamp’s Law.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Well, moving on through breakfast, we get a really interesting conversation…

[Alison and Beth laugh]

Michael: The best.

Alison: It’s actually one of my favorites. It’s just kind of sad. Harry is wondering why so many people have signed up for Quidditch tryouts, and Hermione is trying to explain to him why. And she’s being very matter-of-fact, but poor Ron. Poor, poor Ron. [laughs]

Michael: It’s because he’s super hot now!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Poor Ron takes this all the wrong way. My favorite bit is Hermione’s [line], “You’ve grown a foot over the summer,” and Ron is like, “I’m tall.”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: And everyone ignores him. So Rita, you had a question about this part.

Rita: Yeah. So I have always questioned whether Ron misconstrues this as Hermione complimenting Harry. Because it does seem, like you said, very matter-of-fact. But it also could be [Ron thinking], “Why does she notice those qualities about him and not me?” And I’m wondering if this kind of plants the seed for what happens later in Deathly Hallows. She tends to notice Harry’s great qualities but tends to completely overlook the same qualities in Ron.

Beth: Yes. Definitely yes.

Alison: Oh, I definitely think that’s what’s happening. [laughs]

Michael: It’s funny because I think a lot of people would say, especially the readers who read that it was Ron and Hermione… and I think Rowling has even brought this up before, that Hermione feels comfortable saying these things about Harry because she’s not romantically interested in him. She wouldn’t say these things out loud about Ron because that would make her blush, if she [were] gushing about his qualities that she likes.

Alison: Ooh, she blushes quite a bit in this chapter.

Michael: She does.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Yeah, but Ron doesn’t understand that. And maybe that’s the benefit of Ron getting that horrible little book about how to behave with girls in Deathly Hallows, because if he can’t understand this… To me, this is pretty… I get this. But at the same time, I can see how teenagers would find this very confusing.

Alison and Beth: Yeah.

Beth: And I think when you’re interested in somebody, it’s very easy to overthink their words and actions, whether you are trying to fit what they’re saying to mean something about you, or that you’re hyper focused on what they think of other people. I think that’s a pretty common thing.

Michael: We’ve talked about this before, too, but Ron is – through no fault of his own – in many ways a victim of the “poor me” syndrome. And I think when it gets to things like this, he will make up things in his head at this point to put himself in the situation where he loses. He looks at everything in the world like he’s losing. This chapter really solidifies a lot of that. And this reminds me a lot of the chapter in Goblet of Fire when long after the Quidditch World Cup, Ron realizes that the leprechaun gold disappeared and that nothing he has is nice. And he just awkwardly says that out loud. This is still that. So it’s sad in that way.

Alison: Yeah. I just think poor Ron, especially in school, just has a really low self-esteem. He’s surrounded by so many people that he sees as so much more special than him. His two best friends are an incredibly brilliant witch and the Boy Who Lived.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: His brothers, who are just older than him… Everybody loves [Fred and George]; they run a successful joke shop. All his other brothers do a bunch of awesome stuff. His little sister even is… I mean, everybody thinks she’s amazing. And so I think poor Ron just doesn’t see anything special in himself, and so he just doesn’t have a very high self-esteem. And I think by the time he’s an adult he figures that out, but I think as a kid he just really, really struggles with that. And this is one of those moments where he’s just really struggling with that. He’s like, “But Hermione, I want you to notice me.” [laughs]

Beth: Well, I think there’s some element of… Ron wouldn’t blame Hermione if she [were] into Harry because he understands that Harry is famous and cool, and so obviously that’s what she would want, and it’s hard for him to see what Hermione could see in him. But this doesn’t go away. His assumption that there’s something happening between Hermione and Harry goes on for quite a long time, even after Ron and Hermione start getting closer. He’s just always suspicious of them, at least all the way through Deathly Hallows. And the movie plays this up some, but it’s definitely there in the book. I was going to bring this up later with Cormac McLaggen, but…

Alison: Yeah. [laughs] Sorry. I can’t wait to get to him.

Beth: Yeah. Ugh! Ron…

Michael: Well, Beth, you have this point here, actually, about what Ron does near the end of this chapter.

Beth: Yeah, because Harry pulls Hermione aside and confronts her about Confunding Cormac. And he does this just to Hermione in an attempt to not have Ron know what happened. And it’s very, very subtle, but instead Ron interprets that as, “Hey, what are you guys doing off together by yourselves? You hung back from me, and clearly that must mean you are snogging in the Great Hall.”

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Alison: Well, I think to some extent Ron doesn’t get why Harry and Hermione are close because he doesn’t understand [that] part of Harry and Hermione’s connection is that they’re both Muggle-born… They’re not necessarily Muggle-born, sorry; Harry is not a Muggle-born. [laughs] They’ve both grown up in the Muggle world and they’re both trying to figure it out. So they have certain touchstones that they have in common that I think bring them really closer together and help them figure stuff out. But Ron doesn’t have those. So Ron is still their friend, but he misses out on some of those moments because he doesn’t need them in some ways to figure out what’s happening. But I think you’re right; there’s a little bit of suspicion there.

Beth: Oh, Ron. Don’t you know that Hermione is crazy about you?

Michael: [as Ron] “No.”

[Alison, Beth, and Michael laugh]

Beth: By the way, Ron, Hermione is crazy about you.

[Alison, Beth, and Michael laugh]

Alison: And we all know how crazy you are about her, since you’re paying this much close attention.

[Alison, Beth, and Michael laugh]

Alison: Speaking of people who might be dwelling on it, Harry thinks that he thought Lupin might write to him, but he hasn’t. Why don’t we talk about that more? Why doesn’t the book talk about that more?

Michael: It does, but it…

Alison: Well, yeah. It gives us a reason, but…

Michael: Yeah. It does. I think it doesn’t dwell on it more because these books aggressively hate Lupin after Prisoner of Azkaban for some reason.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: For me, he’s very much relegated to a secondary character after Prisoner, which is why I had so many problems until Pottermore with Lupin’s story thread. Because he’s not present enough for you to really get as invested in what’s going on with him. And I think, like Harry, I would say as a fan of Lupin, I felt these same pings when he didn’t show up as much in the narrative afterwards.

Beth: Wait, Michael, are you a fan of Lupin?

Alison: What?

Michael: Well, it’s been said.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Beth: But yeah, I totally agree with what you’re saying. And I think that the book shunting Lupin off to the side also makes me confused why Harry thinks that Lupin might’ve written to him. Because we see so little of Lupin that I’m like, “Harry, do you think that you’re super close to Lupin? Because when was the last time you talked to him?” [laughs]

Michael: Maybe Harry should take the initiative and write the first letter.

Alison: I was going to say, why didn’t Harry write to Lupin?

[Michael laughs]

Rita: Well, the issue that I saw with it is that Harry was never going to take that initiative, and [the] Lupin we know of is an incredibly self-deprecating character. So even though Lupin might’ve thought it would be nice to write to Harry, he would probably say, “Oh no, I can’t make him go through that again. He lost James; he lost Sirius. I could never replace Sirius; I shouldn’t even try.” So I could see it from that perspective.

Michael: Yeah, I totally agree with that, Rita. I think there’s actually an element between Harry and Lupin’s relationship that… There’s a tragedy to that relationship because I feel like a lot of it is missed potential between the two of them. They don’t connect with each other as much as I think they perhaps should have in the series. And I think it is because Lupin has a self-deprecating nature, but in a way, Harry has a little bit of that too. Especially after Order of the Phoenix, Harry is coming off an entire book where he doesn’t think he’s worth people’s time. So I imagine he has similar thoughts, I would say. And we’ve seen evidence of that textually, especially in Order of the Phoenix, that if people aren’t addressing him first – if the adults especially aren’t paying attention to him first – he feels that he shouldn’t bother them. That’s probably something that Harry picked up from being raised by the Dursleys.

Alison: Aww! Yeah.

Michael: So yeah, I think that’s a big piece… I think you’re totally right, Rita. I think that’s a reason why Lupin wouldn’t reach out to Harry. It’s just so stupid! I hate it so much! I want them to be besties.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Beth: Michael, I think you just hit on something really interesting. Because in Prisoner we get the teacher/student relationship between Lupin and Harry, and there’s a little bit more because Lupin is more intertwined in Harry’s life than Harry realizes. But then you go to Deathly Hallows, and Lupin interacts with Harry much more as a peer and much more as he would have with James. But then there’s this weird middle ground of [them] trying to figure out how to interact with each other and what their relationship even is. And so that’s kind of interesting. They can’t really be besties because they still have that teacher/student relationship.

Alison: Yeah, it’s kind of awkward still.

Beth: Harry is a little bit older now and he’s been through more and Lupin is not his teacher anymore, so there’s a weird middle situation.

Alison: I wonder if Harry tried to make sure that was different, then, with Teddy. I wonder if he always made sure he was reaching out to let Teddy know that if Teddy needed anything, he could write to Harry and let Harry know.

Michael: I think we definitely get an implication of that in the “Nineteen Years Later” [epilogue]. And Rowling has said before, too, that the thing that’s opposite about Teddy from Harry is that he has a huge support group that Harry didn’t have. So yeah, I think there’s definitely an element of that. I’d say, too, if Lupin and Harry, 1) hadn’t been in this war situation, and 2) had had more time together as they grew older, I think they would have perhaps had a richer friendship. But I think the reason Harry keeps expecting things from Lupin is because Lupin gave him so much in Prisoner of Azkaban, and he’s waiting for more but he’s not asking for it. That’s a little bit on Harry, but it is also on Lupin. This also got me thinking about [how] Lupin is putting himself in a very dangerous situation. And as Rita mentioned, I think a lot of it has to do with his issues of self-worth. I wonder if maybe even part of it, too, is that he’s running from the tragedy of Sirius’s death, because we know Lupin tends to run from things that are emotionally difficult for him.

Alison: I wonder, too, if one of the reasons Harry thinks of this is because he has come to see Lupin and Sirius on very similar grounds, and Sirius was very attentive to Harry and really kept up with him. And I know it’s the biggest fan fic trope about the Marauders, but [it’s] how Harry comes to see them as his uncles. And now all of a sudden one of them is gone and one of them is not talking to him, and he’s like, “What happened?” [laughs]

Beth: Of all the things that I get down on [in] the Order of the Phoenix movie, the scene where Lupin is restraining Harry… I sob every time. And just knowing that Lupin is going through something very similar that Harry is going through in that moment, and yet he’s being the adult and helping Harry through it… ugh, I can’t handle it.

Alison: That line in that book actually gets me, when he’s holding Harry back in that book and he just says, “It’s too late; he’s gone.” He has to tell him that out loud; he has to be the one to say it out loud. And it’s just like, “Oh! Ow!”

Michael: For being the funny chapter, all of these points so far for the breakfast scene are not very funny.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Breakfast is a serious time. We’re getting to the humor.

Beth: And then we get to, “Anyone we know dead?”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Which I think is one of these funny things about Ron. I like that it’s described [as] “That is from Ron,” and Harry says it has become his daily question. Hermione opens the paper and Ron says, “Anyone we know dead?” But he says it in a determinedly casual voice. So already, we see how this war is impacting them and they’re not even quite in the thick of it yet. It’s affecting their development in a lot of ways.

Beth: I just need to point out that this is an obligatory genius moment. Rowling is so smart in how she weaves these details because we see here that Ron is asking, “Anyone we know dead?” and in Deathly Hallows he’s obsessed with listening to the radio and finding out if anyone is dead, looking through papers, anything that he can find to see if his family is okay. And here we see how he’s forcing himself to be casual about it. And in Deathly Hallows, that pretense is gone. It weighs so heavily on him through that whole book. But she just lays the little pieces here and we don’t even know what she’s doing at first. It’s so great.

Michael: I think there’s also an element to that that’s a commentary on conflict in war and movements that are going on, and how people tend to not be as emotionally invested until it’s on their doorstep. There’s a point I think, too, when your reaction to those kinds of things crosses from sympathy to empathy, and I think that’s what you just said, Beth, basically. Ron cares; this war bothers him. But there’s also an element that Ron, I think, is somewhat self-aware that he’s the jokester of the group, and I don’t think he yet knows how to communicate his thoughts about this in a serious manner. But when it comes to his family being in danger directly, he drops that demeanor completely.

Alison: I think some of what helps him in this book is that he’s still at school with Ginny; he pretty much probably has regular contact with the twins. He still doesn’t care about Percy right now. But I feel like he feels like he has better communication with his family at this point, whereas in Deathly Hallows he has none, and so he’s freaking out a little bit more.

Michael: Well, in addition to that comment about public affairs… I don’t know if it’s because of just things that are going on currently that it struck me so hard this time, and it really should have struck me harder before, considering when Half-Blood Prince was released. Rowling has a pretty sharp commentary here about security on a national level, on a political level, with what happens to Stan Shunpike. Because as we see in the book, Stan is imprisoned for just talking about that he supposedly knows Death Eater plans as Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect he probably doesn’t know anything; he was just being stupid and mouthing off. But Stan gets jailed for this and is being seriously looked at as a security threat, and I just couldn’t believe how on point this still is right now. I think this is something we all think about even when we go through the airport. When you’re pulled aside because they want to scan your shoes, which has happened to me before, you wonder if there aren’t times when security isn’t wasting its time making it look like they’re doing something, rather than actually doing something against relevant threats.

Alison: That is very interesting, and I think it’s very historically… we see that a lot. I don’t know if any of you have seen any of the new Ken Burn’s The Vietnam War on PBS lately.

Beth: No, but I want to.

Alison: You should; it’s amazing! I’ve been completely riveted. They talk about this at different points, about how basically the US knew this war was a disaster well before it became an absolute catastrophe. But a lot of times people just kept doing stuff to try and save face, or because they were like, “We have to do something about it, right?” And so it is a very interesting historical basis [that] sometimes we do things that aren’t the right things in these high tension, high risk situations because people feel like they just have to be doing something.

Michael: Well, in the case of the government, this is saying that the government feels it has to be doing something to placate the public, and it’s the wrong thing. And I just double checked to be sure, but Half-Blood Prince came out in 2005, so we’re not that far off from September 11. And September 11 very heavily affects the Harry Potter books. We could have a whole episode where we actually examine what it affected. But I think this is one of the more obvious parallels because I think a lot of these things about security we weren’t really thinking about, like airport travel, changed completely. I remember what going to the airport was like as a kid and it was not this stringent. Back then you could just go all the way to the terminal and wave to the plane. That would never happen now. How drastically things have changed. And we see that here, too, on the smaller scale. So great Rowling takes it on to the smaller scale when Hermione summarizes what’s going on with the students being brought into the school and their packages being searched and they’re being searched with secrecy sensors, and it’s invasive, as Hermione mentions. She’s definitely making her point known about how she feels about security.

Beth: It’s so interesting that we are talking about Stan being arrested in this episode because I live in St. Louis and there are a lot of protests happening in this city right now. Someone that I work with was arrested over the weekend at a peaceful protest that he didn’t even mean to attend. He saw a friend at one and went over to say hi and ended up getting arrested for 24 hours.

Michael: Oh my goodness.

Beth: It’s just really hitting me how relevant this continues to be.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s not to say that Rowling isn’t saying that security isn’t valuable; I think it’s important to make that distinction, that security is valuable but it should be done right. It shouldn’t be used as a placation device. It should actually be security. So I think that’s the important distinction to make too.

Alison: Well, and speaking of security, we talk about [how] security sometimes is relative. We have this whole conversation where Hermione details some of their classmates [whose] parents want them to come home, where they’ve already been taken home, or even classmates that are at school and find out their relatives are dead. They’re getting pulled aside in class to find out someone in their family is dead. So it’s almost this sense of “Are we really secure, but are we really not?”

Beth: Yeah, it’s a total false sense of security.

Rita: Sorry to bring this back to Stan Shunpike; what I thought was really interesting was that Harry just would not believe that this guy could be a Death Eater. And I thought it was pretty reminiscent of what he saw with how they treated Hagrid [and] how the Ministry handled his arrest in Chamber of Secrets, that “Oh, we have to put somebody behind bars for appearances. And while we’re pretty sure it isn’t you, we still need to report to the public that we’ve dealt with the culprit.” And I think Harry just refuses to believe it and he just assumes it’s the same case where we find out later that it’s not.

Michael: Yeah, because we know that Stan is being Imperiused to some degree. He is under Death Eater control. We don’t know if it’s right now.

Beth: Yeah, I don’t think it’s until later.

Michael: Yeah, he falls under their control eventually. I still think – and it’s left ambiguous – it’s very likely that Stan knows nothing and that he’s just pulling stuff out of thin air. But yeah, it’s interesting, too, what you’re bringing up, Alison, about the security at Hogwarts as well and whether that’s even… At least they’re not using Dementors.

Alison: That’s true.

Michael: Points for that, right? [laughs]

Beth: Well, Ron makes a comment just haphazardly that “Hogwarts is the safest place, right?” Really? You still think so?

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Beth: Because all this stuff has happened at Hogwarts that makes it not so safe.

Michael: [laughs] I think that is more of that excellent setup for what’s going to happen at the end of the year. The last safe haven is no longer a safe haven.

Alison: Well, and I think part of that is that [for] Ron, yeah, dangerous stuff has happened, but they’ve always gotten out of it. And it hasn’t really affected everyone by that point. It’s just been the people who went looking for trouble.

Beth: Except for Chamber. Or Cedric.

Michael: And Ron and Harry point out that the reason they are thinking of that is because of Dumbledore, and Hermione says, “That’s not a guarantee anymore,” funnily enough because it won’t be by the end of the year. Coincidence. This is all perfectly set up to show us that Hogwarts isn’t going to be that same place. Really, it’s funny because there was a question of what was going to happen to Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows and Rowling is answering it right here. There wasn’t really a mystery as far as that goes. She gave us what was going to happen.

Beth: Yeah. Aw, that’s really sad. Well, on a slightly lighter note, in this chapter we get that Hannah’s mother has died, and that’s not light at all.

Michael: That is not a lighter note.

Beth: That is not a light note at all!

Alison: That’s not a lighter note, actually.

[Alison, Beth, and Michael laugh]

Michael: I see where you were going with it, though.

Beth: But I want to talk about Hannah and Neville for a second. In the last episode where we talked about this chapter, the hosts discussed a little bit about how this happening to Hannah might have brought Hannah and Neville together. But I’m just curious what you guys think about how this happened. Were Neville and Hannah friends already and was he a comfort to her when this happened? Or did they become closer after the battle? Because we know she came back for the battle. What do you guys think happened with them?

Michael: This is so off the page that it really could have been anywhere. It would be an interesting thing to think about, I suppose, in that Hannah has lost a parent and Neville still has his parents but they’re not mentally there anymore. So there is something there. The other thing, too, that I think people jump to when they think about Hannah and Neville is that Hannah is a Hufflepuff and Hufflepuffs are assumed to have more of an interest in Herbology. That’s not always true, speaking as a Hufflepuff who does not necessarily have a green thumb myself.

Beth: Yeah. I kill every plant.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: I just killed another succulent this week.

[Michael laughs]

Beth: I killed a succulent too! My boyfriend was like, “How?”

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Alison: And the other one is probably on its way out.

Michael: With that said, that also might be a common interest of theirs as well, potentially, because Neville wanted to be in Hufflepuff and has a great interest in Herbology, and there [are] plenty of opportunities for them to have connected outside of Harry’s line of vision. But yeah, I could see how this could be a potential thing that they connected over. But of course it wouldn’t be in this moment because she leaves Hogwarts posthaste.

Beth: Well, I just have this headcanon that they were already friends and we just don’t get to see that in the books. But then when Hannah’s mother dies, she leaves Hogwarts but she and Neville start writing letters to each other and that’s when they potentially gain interest in one another. And I just love that a lot.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, it could be. It’s hard to say. I think one of the things I really like about that pairing is it is one that we don’t see on the page, and it’s nice to know that not every single pairing that was shown in the school years happened. It’s a bit comforting to know that there were some pairings that we didn’t see coming.

Beth: It’s also comforting to have something that we can tie to their relationship because a criticism that I’ve heard about their relationship is like, “Well, Neville needed somebody and so Hannah is single, right?” [laughs]

Alison and Michael: Aww.

Michael: Poor Hannah.

Beth: And so I like to find a little evidence here and there, even if it’s subtle, to how they could’ve gotten together.

Michael: Well, shows all those people. Not only is she the landlady of the Leaky Cauldron, she’s also going for her certification as a Healer. So go Hannah Abbott. You’re awesome. She has hidden depth, guys. Just because she’s a secondary character doesn’t mean she’s not worth Neville. Golly. Speaking of pairings, Quidditch. [laughs]

Alison: Yes, where actually, we get quite a few different pairings at a couple different moments. So they finish breakfast and now it’s time to head down to the Quidditch pitch because Harry has got to put together a team. And suddenly it’s become everyone’s favorite pastime.

Michael: [laughs] I’d be down there. As a Hufflepuff, I’d be one of the Hufflepuffs.

Alison: You’d be one of the Hufflepuffs who shows up?

Michael: [laughs] For sure. Oh my God, yes.

Beth: I would’ve gone down to the pitch with popcorn.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Just to watch. You’re in the stands. I probably would’ve tried out. I like to think I would’ve liked to play Quidditch. I don’t have to run.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Alison: That’s a sport I’m down with.

Michael: This will be highlighted as we discuss the chapter in full, but I have to just point out here Rowling’s excellent humor. And it’s funny because she uses almost all of these humor techniques in all of the books, but maybe it’s just because it’s this particular… First of all, she is having the most fun with Qudditch she has ever had in the books, and it’s great to see because we know that she hates Quidditch.

Alison: She still hates Quidditch. I just read the interview she did on CBS today and at one point, someone – it was either John Tiffany or Jack Thorne – was like, “We decided we weren’t going to put in a certain scene of a certain sport.” And she’s like, “No. No. No. Don’t do it.”

Michael: Yeah. Even now knowing that and rereading the books where there are Quidditch scenes, I can tell how much derision she has toward Quidditch. As the books go on, you can tell it’s the thing [where] she’s like, “Ugh, I have to put this in here.”

Beth: Well, and she finds really clever ways to get around writing about Quidditch.

Michael: Order of the Phoenix and Goblet of Fire, especially, got her out of a lot of Quidditch issues. But of course, it returns with a vengeance here. And it’s so fun to see that rather than saying, “Ugh, Quidditch; I have to deal with this again,” she goes, “I’m going to do a new spin on Quidditch and I’m just going to make it silly.” Because of course, later we’ll also get, as she’s cited, her favorite Quidditch match where Luna commentates, which is also amazing in itself. But here we go. This the first time we get proper Quidditch tryouts, and they’re hilarious. The line “The fifth group were Hufflepuffs” is one of my favorites. I laugh every time.

Beth: I was reading this chapter in a restaurant at lunch, and…

Michael: Were you laughing out loud?

Beth: It’s one those restaurants where the tables are really close together. And I was sitting by myself, and I’m eating pasta, and I almost snorted my pasta out of my mouth.

Michael: She doesn’t have to put this here, but she does. She starts it with “There was a pause.” And it’s so great because she’s writing in a way that’s almost like script form, which I guess is why she was able to translate to a script so well for Fantastic Beasts. She’s specifically saying there’s a beat here, and that beat is for comedic effect. And it’s things like this that remind me why she wanted Terry Gillian as her first choice [as] director for Harry Potter, somebody who’s familiar with Monty Python humor, somebody who was involved with that. That explains to me – because people have said that was kind of an odd choice on her part – why would she ever have wanted that; I can see why. Because she has a very Monty Python-esque sense of humor.

Beth: You can see it really well with Peeves.

Michael: Yes! Yeah, absolutely. And I think you can even see it here. There is very sharp timing here in her comedy. Even the following, “After two hours, many complaints, and several tantrums – one involving a crashed Comet 260 and several broken teeth – Harry had found himself three Chasers.” She’s just having so much fun. It would be so fun to ask her specifically just about the writing process for this chapter alone because she’s having so much fun here. We might as well go on to some of the more finer points of what’s happening here because everything is funny.

Alison: And we start with Lavender and Ron’s interaction, which I love. I love how it says Ron starts to swagger when she smiles at him because I’m just like, “Ronald! My dude!”

Michael: It’s cheap but he’ll take it.

Beth: Well, this goes back to Ron feeling insecure, and when someone pumps up his ego a little bit he’s going to lap that up.

Alison: Yeah. But I love that Harry is tempted to laugh; he sees how ridiculous this is and he just wants to laugh about it. But he’s like, “No, Ron didn’t laugh at my last ridiculous moment. I won’t laugh now.”

Michael: Harry is a good wingman. What a sport.

Alison: Hermione, though, is not happy.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: As she shouldn’t be. This is bull. How long has she been doing this for? Lavender Brown comes along and just smiles at him. What is this?

Beth: Well, we see a lot of Ron missing a lot of the signals that Hermione is sending directly to him, and he latches onto things that mean absolutely nothing. But Hermione is very good at catching all of the important signals, that things are going well or not so well for her.

Alison: Oh yes. And then we get introduced to…

Michael: Oh Lord.

Alison: Geez. We get introduced to the one and only Cormac McLaggen.

[Everyone groans]

Michael: He’s something. Gosh, if we’re going by Freddie Stroma, I don’t mind.

Alison: That’s true.

Michael: But if we’re going by purely book? My god, he’s horrible. He makes me feel the same bile and ire as Umbridge when he shows up on the page, especially the Quidditch match later down the line where Luna commentates. I’ve known people like him.

Beth: That’s what I was going to say too.

Alison: Yep. Oh, I think we all have.

Beth: That’s the thing with Umbridge and Cormac: We can point to individual people in our lives who invoke a similar sort of reaction from us.

[Everyone groans]

Alison: I roll my eyes at Cormac every single time because I’m just like, “Oh my gosh! Why are you here?”

Michael: We’ve had some good questions about Cormac, Alison.

Alison: Yeah. So we learn that he missed tryouts last year because he ate a pound of Doxy eggs as a bet.

Michael: That’s disgusting.

Alison: Which Harry is not impressed by because… duh. That’s so stupid. But it made me think, rereading it this time, is he supposed to be a caricature of a stereotypical jock or frat boy? What is his purpose in being this kind of character? Is it just to show maybe the negative sides of what a Gryffindor can be? Why is he like this?

Rita: That’s interesting because I have always kind of read him as what Draco Malfoy would be like if he were in Gryffindor.

[Michael laughs]

Rita: Because they both come from these really connected families. And they have this disgusting, unadulterated sense of entitlement, that I’m like, “Oh, that’s what he would be like if he were in Gryffindor.”

Beth: The movie caught on to your train of thought as well because we see in the train in the seventh movie where Cormac goes, “My father will hear about this!”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: And everyone was like, “Why did that line get put in there?”

Michael: That does explain that a little bit. And Rita, you also had another hypothesis for what Cormac’s purpose is.

Rita: So before when I had previously read the book, I always read him as the antithesis to Ron because he is Hermione’s potential love interest. But this time, I thought that he’s actually more of a foil to Harry because they’re both granted certain privileges because of their last name. Like I mentioned before, Cormac is really well connected [and] comes from a presumably really famous wizarding family. But Harry goes through life not abusing that privilege compared to Cormac, who expects certain preferential treatment based on his name. So I thought they’re just good foils of each other.

Beth: I think you’re right, and I think Cormac also brings out some really wonderful character traits of Harry in that it’s very clear how Harry is a fantastic leader and he’s not swayed by Cormac’s showiness. And even though Cormac is older than Harry, it’s clear that Harry is much more mature. So having Cormac be compared to Harry really helps to put Harry in a better light.

Michael: And Ron later down the line, too, which is saying something considering some of the things Ron will say and do.

Alison: I guess he also plays into the “Ron and Hermione trying to figure themselves out” since he becomes the object Hermione uses to try and provoke Ron’s jealousy.

Michael: And in that way, then, he is supposed to be comparative to Lavender in that he’s not as substantial.

Alison: [gasps] Let’s ship Cormac and Lavender!

Beth: No, that would be catastrophic!

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Can you imagine?

Michael: Oh god.

Beth: Lavender is dead, so it doesn’t matter.

Alison: Oh my gosh, that’s horrible!

Michael: Is she? Is [it on] Pottermore? Is she?

Alison: Cormac went and saved her. Someone write a fic.

Michael: I think his purpose is almost one of the more clear ones in the series, especially because he’s introduced so late. I love that Rowling even gives an excuse as to why he’s never been introduced before.

Alison: Because he’s stupid.

Michael: It’s very cleverly inserted into the narrative.

Beth: And if you think about it, if Fred and George had mentioned to Harry that they one time [ate] a pound of Doxy eggs for a bet, Harry would be like, “Ha! That’s a laugh!” And Cormac is like, “Yeah, I ate a pound of Doxy eggs for a bet and couldn’t go to Quidditch tryouts,” and Harry is like, “Uhh, gross.”

Michael: Well, yeah. Because Fred and George wouldn’t necessarily say it to impress. They would say it to be like, “Aren’t we ridiculous?” Whereas there’s Cormac, who is like, “Uh, so put me on the team because I did that.”

Alison: “I’m so cool.”

Michael: “That doesn’t make sense, sir.”

Alison: That’s like the equivalent of people who rev their engines as they drive down the street.

Beth: Oh my god, that makes me crazy.

Michael: So listeners, you’ve probably heard that a lot in the background of my track because that’s all people do on my street here in Austin. Oh my god. They’re all Cormac McLaggens, just riding up and down. This is a good moment to also point out – or mention again, as I mentioned on a previous episode – listeners, if you haven’t looked [it] up, there’s a fantastic video of Freddie Stroma, who is a model, in only underwear and socks dancing for some promotional stuff. Yeah, look it up. Enjoy. You’re welcome. Have fun with that.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Well, if you’ve returned from watching that… [laughs]

Michael: Just trying to help.

Alison: Harry may not be a model, but he’s a really good teacher and coach, [and] I really like that he gets to continue that role after the DA last year. He starts with the basics: He has everyone fly a lap around, which weeds out a lot of people, as we’ve talked about. And then he moves to each specialization. And I like that she even mentions that he saves Keepers for last because he thought – he was wrong – that would help Ron because maybe people wouldn’t be there. Of course, he thinks wrong. But I like that we also get that Harry is thinking about how to get the best from his team. And I also like that he thinks about his original team; he thinks about just how good Fred and George [were]. “They were brilliant,” he says, and his new Beaters aren’t quite as brilliant, but he can work with them. And Katie Bell is back and he’s like, “Katie Bell is excellent.” And at some point – I don’t know if he does it here or maybe it’s in Order of the Phoenix – he says something about, “Ron is not quite Oliver Wood, but maybe he’ll be okay.” So I like that that’s where Harry learned what good Quidditch is and so he compares everything to his original team.

Michael: Yeah. I like, too, like you said, Alison, that Harry has an instinctual grasp on teaching. I’m sad that he didn’t go into teaching, actually, and I know a lot of other fans feel the same way because he has real, natural knack for it.

Alison: I think he could have eventually.

Michael: I like to think he did.

Alison: Maybe when he’s done with the Auror Office he goes…

Michael: That would be great.

Alison: And when his kids are out of Hogwarts so he doesn’t embarrass them.

Michael: That’s true. That would be a little awkward.

Beth: Wouldn’t it be cool, though, if he [were] involved in the training of the Auror Office? New recruits have to go through training and he’s in charge of that. That would be really cool.

Michael: Theoretically, I suppose he would be because he’s Head of the Auror Office, so at least at some point in his career he probably did do that. But yeah, no, absolutely. I think that’s a great point that Harry just has a knack… And I really like that comparison that it’s like this year’s version of the DA. He has something to fill in that space. Because I always feel sad in the beginning when he’s on the train with Luna and Neville and they’re like, “That was fun. I miss that because we had friends then.” And Harry is just like, “Yeah. Sorry.” And I’m like, “Why don’t you just start the DA up again? It’s still relevant. You can still do it.” [laughs]

Alison: Make it an officially sanctioned club.

Michael: Yeah. It’s better than the Dueling Club.

Beth: It doesn’t occur to Harry because he’s still clueless that he’s actually good at this. With the DA, Hermione had to strongly convince him to do it. And then as Quidditch captain I think he’s doing it by accident. I don’t think he realizes that he’s actually really good at it, and so it probably doesn’t occur to him to seek out opportunities where he could continue to do those things.

Alison: But speaking of people’s relationships, I like that we get a little bit of Weasley family competition as Ginny is a Chaser and Ron tries out for Keeper and Harry says that’s the one he almost missed. You can tell they care about each other, but Ginny is also not going to go easy on him just because…

Michael: Has she ever?

Alison: No.

Michael: [laughs] Why start now?

Alison: But just because… yeah. I like how Ginny is like, “No. I play Quidditch and I’m better than you.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Beth: Well, I can imagine she takes Quidditch pretty seriously, as we can tell from the fact that she pursues it. And she also watched Ron struggle through Quidditch already, and so I wonder if there is a little bit of a hint of maybe she doesn’t really want him on the team.

Michael: Or maybe this is her just being like, “Get it together!”

[Alison, Beth, and Michael laugh]

Michael: [as Ginny] “I can’t do this anymore!”

Alison: Aww.

Beth: So I just think it’s interesting that we’ve never really seen Quidditch trials before, because Harry gets on the team by accident, and then they never really have tryouts again after that. And the previous captains don’t make their existing members try out. And so this is…

Alison: Ooh! But I think they do.

Beth: They do? You think?

Alison: Yeah. So we know Harry’s first three years, the team doesn’t change at all. Fourth year, they don’t have Quidditch, but he’s in detention fifth year when they have tryouts because he misses Ron’s. And Angelina goes off at him because he’s not going to be there, and she’s like, “Everyone had to be there! The whole team has to fit together!” So maybe for Seekers it’s only on a needs basis, but Chasers, Beaters, [and] Keepers pretty much needed to try out every year.

Michael: I was thinking maybe they don’t do tryouts unless they have roles to fill. But that doesn’t seem fair to the people who haven’t gotten to play. So maybe Wood just kept having tryouts and everybody was perfect. Or he just didn’t want the team to change. I don’t know.

Alison: I was going to say, I feel like Wood would just be like, “Yeah, we had tryouts.”

Michael: As a formality.

Alison: “We didn’t actually have tryouts.”

Michael: Yeah. I feel like the tryouts potentially might just be an off-the-page thing.

Beth: Well, because this is a pretty involved tryout, I wonder if maybe previous tryouts were just a formality and…

Michael: Well, we know Angelina’s weren’t based on her attitude about it, but I imagine Oliver’s weren’t either. But the thing, too, is it is implied in the other books – in Chamber and Prisoner – that there aren’t tryouts and they just think it’s a given that they’re going to be starting up with Quidditch. I don’t know.

Beth: Yeah, Harry never questions for a second that he wouldn’t be on the team again.

Alison: I do wonder, yeah, if it’s just a needs-based thing. Once somebody decides they’re not going to be on the team anymore, then they have tryouts. And maybe because Harry has to fill so many splots…

Alison and Michael: Splots.

Alison: So many slots – I’m tired – so many slots this year, that’s why he has to have this big of a deal for tryouts.

Beth: Right. They do have quite a lot of turnover on the team this year.

Michael: Yeah. What’s this about Ron’s Impostor Syndrome?

Beth: Yes. I wrote in the Doc next to that, “Could I love Ron’s character any more?”

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Beth: Because it’s not called out as Impostor Syndrome, but it’s very clear that Ron is experiencing Impostor Syndrome. And for those who don’t know, Impostor Syndrome basically means you don’t feel like you deserve your success, or you are just waiting for someone to find out that you aren’t good enough to be doing whatever it is you’re doing. And Impostor Syndrome is something that I deal with pretty strongly, and it’s not uncommon. And so for Jo to explore this a little bit is really fantastic because we see that Ron is actually really good at Quidditch. He just feels insecure about his skills and he’s just waiting for Harry to kick him off the team because he’s not good enough. And I love that we get to see that in Ron’s character because I always love finding little bits and pieces of characters that I can relate to.

Michael: I think that perhaps in some ways, too, why that’s such a frustrating aspect of Ron’s character this year to the point that Harry blows up and yells at him. Because Harry knows that he has this ability to play well and that he just psychs himself out to the point where Harry very cleverly psychs him out to psych him back in. So yeah, I think that’s definitely a big… This seems to be a common thing with Ron that he tails Harry around to things that Harry likes that he also likes and he’s never really considered himself. I think there’s a part of him that it’s clear that he doesn’t want to be on the Quidditch team because Harry is on the team and Harry is better than him, or so he thinks. And as per usual, Harry gets all the attention. So I think that’s also difficult for Ron. He always goes into these things that Harry does, and then he consciously measures himself up against Harry.

Beth: Well, yeah. That’s so interesting that you say that because the core of most of my Impostor Syndrome is [that] I tend to surround myself with people who are really freaking smart.

[Michael laughs]

Beth: Because that’s who I like to be surrounded by. But then I question all the time, “Ugh, everyone is so much smarter than me. Why am I even here?” And I have to forcibly remind myself that I’m smart, too, [and] I deserve to be here. At work the other day, I made a comment that, “Oh, I’m so inexperienced,” and one of my coworkers came up to me afterward and said, “I get why you might think that, but you’re definitely not. You are one of the more experienced members on this team now.” And I wanted to say back to him, “Oh, that’s nice for saying that, but I know that’s not really true.” And I had to stop myself and say, “Oh, that’s really kind of you. Thank you,” and take it to heart and remind myself that I do deserve to be on this team. I like that Ron also goes through that.

Michael: Well you know what, Beth? You also deserve to be on this team too.

Beth: Aww, thanks.

Michael: Listeners, show Beth and Katy some love in the comments this week, by the way, for having them come on the show. Send them your love and your excitement that they’ve joined our team, FYI, please. So of course, Hermione does a big no-no and she Confunds Cormac McLaggen so that he can’t get the last goal. And whether he would have…

Beth: And so that he can’t function. [laughs]

Michael: Yes, also that he can’t function.

Alison: Yeah. [laughs] We’re going to have to talk about that.

Michael: He literally can’t go through the door at some point. So yeah, it’s maybe a little not okay. But that is the question: Is this out of character for Hermione? Do we think what she did [was] permissible? And keep in mind, I think the other thing listeners were pointing out is that Hermione is so hypocritical [for] getting on Harry’s case for the Half-Blood Prince’s book when here she is blatantly breaking the rules to get Ron an advantage. Thoughts?

Alison: I don’t think it’s out of character. If it’s permissible… eh.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: I think it’s one of those times where Hermione acts very much like a Gryffindor, actually. Because when Harry confronts her about it, she says, “Oh, you should have heard how he was speaking about Ron and Ginny,” and “He has a horrible temper.” I feel like it might have been a spur of the moment thing where she just overheard him saying these things, and her loyalty and her friendship and her growing love for Ron… because I think she has a pretty deep friendship with Ginny too. She was just like, “Nope! Not okay. You’re out,” and she just does what she can do. [laughs]

Michael: Well, like you said, what she’s doing is criticizing his chivalry, which is a very Gryffindor [trait]. He’s not chivalrous. She’s criticizing that he’s not behaving like a Gryffindor.

Alison: Yeah. And the fact that she takes that reckless, spontaneous action in that moment is very Gryffindor, I think.

Beth: Also, I get where people get the idea that Hermione doesn’t like to break rules, because [in] the first book she’s very into rules. But that disappears pretty quickly and she becomes pretty comfortable with breaking rules as long as she has a way of justifying them. So she is the one that suggests all the rule-breaking for the Polyjuice Potion and she does what she needs to do, as long as she can reason away [that] it’s for the greater good.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Ooh!

Beth: She has a reason that she thinks is good enough and she’ll break rules for it.

Rita: Yeah. Hermione justice.

Michael: [laughs] Do you think it’s okay, Rita, what she does? Or out of character?

Rita: I don’t believe it’s out of character, but what I am very concerned about is how do they not have some kind of barrier set up?

[Michael laughs]

Rita: Because anybody at any Quidditch game could do the same thing and significantly alter the outcome of a Quidditch match, so they should work on that.

Michael: That is true because it is grandiosely against the rules of Quidditch for the audience to tamper with anything that involves the players, including the players’ brains, as Hermione has done. It’s funny to me that people say it’s out of character because I don’t think it is. And I’d be very interested, listeners, to see why any of you might think it is out of character. I think, like you guys said, there’s an element of Hermione following the rules, but Hermione breaks the rules sometimes when she thinks there is a grandiose need for it, and I think she justified why she would think this was a need to do it. Because she says, “Not only am I helping Ron, I’m saving you a bunch of trouble, Harry, because you don’t want him on the team anyway!” And she’s right. The one time he is on the Quidditch team is disastrous.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah!

Michael: And like you said, the greater good… hmm, that’s an interesting way to put it. But yeah, not really fair play. And who’s to say if Cormac might have managed that fifth shot? And then perhaps [he] and Ron would have been tied? But I don’t know. It’s funny how the movie plays it off, too, because Ron gets all the saves in the movie, but he does it almost accidentally, the way that they portray it. It’s shown that Cormac does it very sportsman jock-like. His shots are in slow motion and all of his moves are awesome. Ron does the same exact moves but kind of pathetically, and it’s not defined how that happened here. I think Ron says later that one of the saves was a mistake. He didn’t mean to do it.

Beth: No, he says he almost missed it or something.

Michael: Is that in Order where he does that? Yeah.

Alison: Yeah, I think that’s where they got that idea for the movie. In Order he talks about how he has the one that he only made because he slipped off his broom when no one was looking, and so I think that’s where they took that from. But I think by the time we get to Half-Blood Prince, he’s actually become much better.

Michael: Yeah, so it’s not like the movie. He’s potentially actually doing this pretty well.

Alison: Yeah. I don’t think he’s at Oliver’s level yet, but I think he’s doing pretty good.

Beth: And Hermione is not only saving Harry from having Cormac on the team – because we see that that’s terrible – she also is saving Harry from having to make a really awkward decision.

Alison: Yes!

Beth: Because we see that Ron, without help, makes all five, and it’s pretty likely that Cormac would have made all five without Hermione’s hindrance. So then Harry would have had to choose between Cormac, who he could tell he didn’t want on his team, and Ron, who would be a PR nightmare because it would look like he’s just picking his friends. And so the fact that Hermione helps him out means that he can save face a little bit and he can just say, “Well, Ron got them all, so he gets to be on the team.”

Michael: Not a problem anymore. [laughs] Yeah, I’m very interested to see how the listeners will react to this, especially the ones who do feel that this is so grossly out of character for Hermione. Let us know, listeners. We’ll be very interested to see what your thoughts on that are.

Alison: But meanwhile, Ron is going to lovingly describe in detail every one of his saves as they walk down to Hagrid’s, which is the third big thing that happens in this chapter, this conversation at Hagrid’s. Rita, you had something to add to this.

Rita: Yeah, at the beginning of the chapter, there is this line. The line says, “He too was missing Hagrid, although like Ron, he thought that they were better off without Grawp in their lives.” And I was wondering if it was perhaps a little bit of self-critique on JKR’s part about maybe not a super strongly-developed plot line, because I think it’s a pretty general consensus that Grawp was not a strong hit.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: You know, I don’t know if she’s ever said anything about Grawp. Has she ever said anything in an interview about how she feels about Grawp?

Michael: Probably a reason why she hasn’t brought up Grawp in an interview. I love this. I’ve never read it this way.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: And I really like this because I would appreciate this all more if J.K. Rowling [were] so self-aware. The only thing she even got close to actually saying about it is that she’s acknowledged that Order of the Phoenix is too long and that she would have cut things from it. And I think the fandom in general would be happy to see Grawp go first. That’s interesting if that’s what she is, maybe coded-ly, trying to say here.

Rita: Because there was time between Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. There was a significant amount of time, am I right?

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: It wasn’t as long as between Goblet and Order, but it was a couple years.

Michael: Was Order published in 2002-2003?

Alison: [In] 2003, because I was in third grade.

Michael: Okay, yeah, so it wasn’t as big of a gap – it was a two-year gap – but yeah, perhaps long enough for her to have ruminated on this. That, plus the fact that Grawp didn’t really end up paying off at all in Half-Blood or Deathly Hallows. He makes his one appearance in Hallows, but yeah, he’s pretty useless.

[Alison and Beth laugh]

Beth: Yeah, I don’t envy authors who have to just at some point say that they’re done and be okay with that.

Michael: [laughs] I love, too… It is funny that the only other mention he gets here is that Hagrid is using him in lessons. And I’m just like, oh god, thank goodness you guys got out of this class. This is ridiculous.

Beth: [laughs] That brings me to something that I was thinking about, in that this chapter has a lot of Ron criticizing Hagrid, talking about Grawp, and the Skrewts, and Aragog, and Ron just seems to be really critical of Hagrid in this chapter. And this is not the first time we’ve seen that either. Ron tends to be the grumpiest of the trio when they get up to antics with Hagrid. And so I’m just wondering, does Ron not like Hagrid as much as Harry and Hermione do? Does he just sort of tag along with them, and Hagrid is fine enough? Or does he really truly love Hagrid just as much as Harry and Hermione and he just is a grumpy person?

Alison: I think he’s just being grumpy, because I think Ron just gets grumpy when they have to get into danger that he sees as stupid, which is what most of the stuff they end up doing with Hagrid is. [laughs] But I think Ron really cares about him. In Prisoner he takes on the whole thing with Buckbeak’s appeal. I think it’s in Prisoner, too, where he offers to make the cup of tea because Hagrid is so upset and that’s all he can think of to do. So I think he really cares. He’s just like, “We have to deal with the monsters again. When are we going to be done with the monsters?”

Michael: I think Ron loves Hagrid as much as Harry and Hermione; it’s just that Ron is more willing to call him out on his bull.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: Because Hermione is very emotionally forgiving of that stuff, and Harry usually is forgiving to save Hagrid any turmoil. Plus, Hermione is more competent with everything magical; she’ll just take it as it comes. And Harry doesn’t seem to be as adverse to creatures as Ron is. Harry has more of a natural knack for that kind of stuff, so I think that might be part of it too. Ron has no interest in Care of Magical Creatures, and Hagrid doesn’t make it a very enjoyable experience.

Beth: Poor Hagrid.

Michael: It’s not that Hagrid is not good at it; it’s just that he has no proper training. Sans what happens with Malfoy – and that’s mostly Malfoy’s fault – the hippogriff class is a good class. And Hagrid has a few other examples of… The Niffler class is a great class; he has good classes. I think it’s just that Hagrid doesn’t have a sense of the Ministry scale of how to categorize beasts.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Because they’re not as much of a danger to him.

Michael: Yes. And it’s totally relative as a half-giant who can take much more damage than a student. And Hagrid has always grown up thinking that way because even as a student, he was more resistant to beasts than his peers. I think that it’s not that Hagrid is not good at it; he just needs to be reigned in a little. But Dumbledore ain’t going to be the one to do that.

Alison: Nope.

Beth: Well, we know that Hagrid is truly a softie, which is demonstrated by Harry knocking down Hagrid’s door.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Alison: It’s interesting, this moment they have where they yell at each other, because they’ve never done that before. Do you think their relationship is changing and Harry is becoming more mature? So they kind of have to… I don’t know.

Michael: I talked about this on the last episode, and I think yes. The important thing that’s happening here is that Harry is coming into his own as an adult, and Harry and Hagrid both recognize that in this moment. Especially because, as I mentioned in the previous discussion about this, Hagrid is another one of Harry’s father figures and Harry is talking to him as a father figure. As I mortifyingly mentioned, I have had discussions like this with my father. [laughs] I think this is just a point you get to in your life where you will butt heads with your parents as a teenager, and sometimes your parents aren’t always right. This is not to say that you shouldn’t listen to your parents. Kids, listen to your parents.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But that said, even adults sometimes can be victim to pettiness, and Hagrid is being petty.

Beth: Yeah, but they also hurt his feelings. They could have at least come to him and told him when they picked their schedules, like, “Hey, Hagrid, I’m sorry. We’re not taking Care of Magical Creatures next year, but we want you to know that it’s not because of you. We would have fit it in if we could.” And if they’d come to him right away, then maybe his feelings wouldn’t have been quite as hurt. But they did hurt his feelings, and I think the fact that they are able to hurt each other’s feelings and yell at each other a little bit shows how close they are. Because I know the friends that I can be honest with, even if it requires a little bit of yelling, are really the friends that I’m closest to.

Michael: I think the thing with their delay is that they were delaying the inevitable because they thought they were sparing Hagrid’s feelings by doing that, which is a common thing that people do to each other, the idea that if it goes unspoken, maybe it won’t hurt. But yeah, that was a mistake on their part as well. Everybody is at fault a little bit here. Like you said, Beth, it takes a little yelling and talking it out and then they get back to it. They’re fine now. All is well.

Alison: I think this is a great humor moment, too, just that moment where Hagrid is like, “Since when do you call me ‘Sir’?” and Harry is like, “Since when do you call me ‘Potter’?” And they just have this weird moment [where] they’re like, “Wait, what?”

Michael: The sass!

Alison: I just think it’s one of those really funny moments from this chapter.

Michael: Yes, and the whole time this is going on, Hagrid is wearing a flowery apron. [laughs]

Alison: Yes. And carrying potatoes.

Michael: To contrast the imagery.

Beth: I love sassy Harry.

Alison: And Fang the boarhound is trying to lick their ears off.

Beth: I love sassy Harry in this book, and it makes me kind of sad that Dan Radcliffe has said that he is really unhappy with his performance in this movie, because I think he kind of nails sassy Harry in this movie. [laughs] Sassy Harry is great.

Michael: Sassy Harry is interesting because he’s not really written into the movies very often. I was just recently watching Prisoner of Azkaban, and I realized that part of the reason I like Prisoner of Azkaban so much is because it’s the first movie in the series that gives Daniel something to do.

Alison: Because Harry is actually Harry in that movie.

Michael: Yes. And his first moments on screen, he is extremely sassy with all of the stuff with Aunt Marge. He makes quips and he hits her back verbally. He does that more in Prisoner, too, because that drops again from the movies. It’s gone quite a bit in Goblet and it’s almost nonexistent in Order. So it is nice when he does get those moments to do that because you sometimes forget just how much of that is a part of Harry’s character.

Alison: And yet the best line from this book was cut in the movie: “There’s no need to call me ‘Sir,’ Professor.”

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Sassy Harry peak level reached.

Michael: If people don’t remember anything from this book, that is the one thing they take away from it.

[Alison laughs]

Beth: In our MuggleNet calendar, we actually have the anniversary of that line.

Michael: Of the sass line?

Alison: The date, September 2 – what is it? – 1995, right? Because they end… No, 1996. Great day.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Well, we also get a little bit of circle theory in this chapter because guess who’s back? Aragog!

Michael: But he’s dying! Yay!

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: But he’s dying. And all the arachnophobes were relieved.

Michael: Yeah, I can’t really bring myself to be terribly upset about this.

Alison: Nope! [laughs]

Michael: Aragog is just horrible, through and though.

Alison: Oh, geez. I finally made it through Forbidden Journey with my eyes open, except for two parts: Aragog and the Dementors.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Those are the parts where it is the hardest, I suppose, to keep your eyes open. You still got to meet that challenge, Alison. [laughs]

Alison: I know, but I just… Ugh!

Michael: Aragog is gross on the ride. He spits on you.

Alison: Oh yeah, he does.

Beth: That’s gross.

Alison: I forgot.

Michael: [laughs] Yep. He’s horrible. Bye, Aragog!

Alison: Bye, you’re dead!

Michael: I’d be surprised if anybody actually missed him other than Hagrid.

Alison: He can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because he’s dead!

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Well, there you go. That’s what he gets.

Beth: It’s so sad, though, too, because Hagrid is trying so hard to help him…

Alison: Yeah, that is sad.

Beth: … and he just has to give in to the fact that Aragog isn’t going to make it. And it makes me wonder if there’s any sort of exotic creature wizarding vet that Hagrid could have brought in to look at Aragog. And if there had been, could Hagrid have convinced all of the other spiders to not kill the vet? [laughs]

Michael: Yeah, Newt Scamander, where you at?

Alison: Newt Scamander! [laughs]

Michael: He’s still alive.

Alison: But also, no one is coming to look at Aragog. Let’s be real with ourselves. [laughs]

Rita: He probably approached Madam Pomfrey and she was like, “Nope! Never!”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Hard pass.

Michael: I’m sure even if he had asked Newt, Newt would have been just like, “Absolutely not. There’s a lot of things I’ll do…”

Alison: “You have an Acromantula. No.”

Michael: “Why do you even have one of those?”

Beth: Isn’t there a theory that Newt gave Hagrid [Aragog]?

Alison and Michael: Yes.

Michael: It’s a very popular theory: [Aragog came from] “the pocket of a traveler.”

Beth: You seem like you don’t agree.

Michael: That’s my whole thing about not wanting Fantastic Beasts to be so intrinsically connected to Potter. That would be a fun little thing, but if it’s not there, I won’t be upset.

[Beth, Michael, and Rita laugh]

Alison: And also, Newt can be irresponsible but I don’t see him being that irresponsible. [laughs]

Michael: Yeah, that’s kind of my thing too. He has a pretty good hold of dangerous creatures, but I think he’d be aware enough to not… Why would he give a little spider to a child? That seems like… [laughs]

Alison: Yeah, that’s kind of weird, when he could have given him a Niffler, a Demiguise, or something nice and fluffy.

Michael: Granted, Aragog does say he was brought in the pocket of a traveler, so it’s impossible that this was an accident of some sort. But I guess we’ll see.

Beth: We know that Newt is good at losing his creatures, so maybe he lost the egg and Hagrid happened to find it.

Michael: That’s true. [laughs] That could be it too.

Alison: And then we get the revelation that all of the Time-Turners at the Ministry have been smashed.

Beth: Oh, I see what you did there.

Michael: Yeah, me too. Also another thing that I don’t think many listeners and fans were very upset about. Bye-bye, Time-Turners, you’re also dead.

Alison: Well, I think that was J.K. Rowling being like, “I have to get rid of it!” She said that.

Michael: Because this is such a big thing on tumblr and stuff for fans who haven’t read the books but enjoy the movies. They’re just like, “Why didn’t they just go back in time and kill Voldemort?” Well, there’s a reason for that. Notwithstanding that, don’t go screwing with time, which is, I think, pretty well established in Prisoner of Azkaban on its own. That said, yes, the Time-Turners are all gone. Cursed Child. Lord.

Alison: The Time-Turners at the Ministry are all gone. It specifically says the ones at the Ministry are all gone.

[Michael and Alison laugh]

Alison: That doesn’t mean every one in the world!

Michael: You have fun with your rule-breaking Time-Turner, Alison. You enjoy.

Alison: I will have a great time!

Michael: [laughs] But no, I think this is a very… I like that not only did [Rowling] break them in Order, but in Half-Blood she’s like, “I need a reason to explain why these are really, really, really gone.” But I think Rita had an excellent point about this mention too.

Rita: Yeah, so in Prisoner of Azkaban it seems like getting a Time-Turner was like a super-secret, special circumstance, special privilege that Hermione got because of her brilliance. But then Hagrid brings it up super casually. He’s like, “Oh yeah, you should have applied for a Time-Turner,” like it’s a totally accepted practice at Hogwarts now. I just feel like it’s a little contrary.

Alison: I think that’s just Hagrid because they know that situation. So I think that’s just Hagrid being like, “Well, maybe there could have been this solution but you know, yeah, no, that wouldn’t have been good.”

Beth: Hagrid’s wishful thinking.

Michael: I agree with you, Rita, that it does sound weird coming from Hagrid because it does sound too casual. But I do think if I were to excuse it, I would say it’s because Hagrid knew about Hermione’s Time-Turner from Prisoner of Azkaban and maybe had a warped idea of how easy it would be to get one.

Beth: Yeah, this line did throw me off when I read it this time around.

Michael: “Just get a Time-Turner; it’s fine. Everybody has one. All the cool kids have one.” No, you can’t do that, Hagrid. It’s okay. He was expelled from Hogwarts; he didn’t know some of these finer points.

Alison: Aww.

Michael: That’s all that is.

Alison: And so after they have their chat with Hagrid and everybody feels better about themselves for now, they head back up to school for dinner and Harry and Hermione get stopped in the hall by none other than Slughorn, who offers them a dinner invitation for rising stars. And poor Ron gets shoved to the background in this whole interaction. But how does he overlook Ron’s brilliance? Surely he’s heard about the chess match, right? And he’s heard that Ron has helped Harry in all of these things.

Beth: I don’t think surely he’s heard that at all. I think that people have a habit of singing Harry’s praises and forgetting all the people that helped him. And Hermione sometimes gets a mention because she’s super smart and clearly the brains behind the operation, but Ron’s contributions get overlooked daily. And so it doesn’t surprise me that Slughorn overlooks Ron. And also, Slughorn is super rude for inviting Harry and Hermione right in front of Ron. I think one rule of invitations is that if you’re not inviting certain people, you have to be careful about when and where you talk about it.

Rita: Maybe that’s part of the exclusivity of the club. By omission of certain people, it maintains that level of exclusivity so everybody really wants to join the club afterward.

Michael: I think that’s right that Slughorn wants to make the club desirable to people. And in a way, you could say, I think that the reason that Slughorn overlooks Ron is because as brilliant as Ron may be, in his own right, he doesn’t show it to Slughorn in any way. There is no situation that comes about where Ron gets to show that, and it’s because Slughorn is looking for very specific things. Harry has the unique piece, as a few of the other Slug Club members do, of having a family history or being valuable in the wizarding world in a celebrity type of way. Hermione has it because she shows it off in her smarts in class. Ron unfortunately comes from a family that, while wonderful in their own way, [is] not high up in the wizarding world yet. And on his own merits, as far as what he shows in class, Ron is not that impressive. So it’s not to say that he doesn’t have those abilities; I just think that Slughorn has never seen it. And Slughorn is looking for surface level things. But I think you’re right, Rita, that there’s definitely a temptation of being like, “Well, look who’s in my club. If you want to be in the club, you’ve got to show something off.” And as we just discussed in this whole chapter, Ron is suffering from, as Beth put it, Imposter Syndrome. Ron doesn’t think he’s good enough for anything. He certainly isn’t going to think he’s… I’m sure part of the reason he’s angry is because he probably not only being snubbed at the invitation, but he probably can’t think of anything to justify to himself of why he should be in the Slug Club. So if he’s that severely suffering from Imposter Syndrome…

Alison: You’re a good person, Ron! It’s reason enough.

Michael: I was going to say, I don’t think Slughorn would have heard about the chess match. Because we find out later on that really the only person who notices those aspects of Ron, triumphs of Ron, is Dumbledore.

Alison: But he announced it to the whole school.

Michael: Yeah, but the school don’t care.

Beth: You know why that is, Michael, right?

Michael: Why?

Beth: Because Ron is Dumbledore.

Michael: That’s right!

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: How could I have forgotten?

Alison: Oh man.

Michael: I’m sure, though, in the years to come, Slughorn was kicking himself for not putting Ron in the club.

Beth: Probably Neville as well.

Alison: Oh, he missed out on that whole generation, I think, in some ways.

Michael: He missed a lot of people. That’s supposed to be the failing of the Slug Club as a concept, that it does – like anything like this – discount perhaps other valuable contributions by individuals.

Beth: I wonder how Arthur feels about Ginny being in the Slug Club because we know that Arthur feels similarly snubbed by Slughorn. And so if he knows that Ginny is in the Slug Club, I wonder if he’s against that idea.

Alison: Oh, I think Ginny just goes to make fun of it. I don’t think she really cares about being a part [of it]. I think she just goes to totally mock the whole thing. And she probably writes to Fred and George and Arthur, and she’s probably like, “Look at these ridiculous people.”

Michael: Yeah, I don’t think Ginny takes it like… She feels like she’s there by accident anyway. So yeah, I think she just enjoys it for being a farce. But potentially, she… Isn’t Gwenog Jones one of the Slug Club members?

Alison: Oh yeah, he does know her.

Michael: And Ginny eventually joins the Holyhead Harpies. So maybe there was some networking.

Alison: There may have been a connection.

Michael: Maybe.

Alison: That Christmas party?

Michael: Yeah, who knows? Maybe that was the moment. We didn’t see it on screen. Another! Another! That was the moment.

Beth: I can see Ginny being like, “Oh yeah, this is totally ridiculous, but I’m going to use this to my advantage anyway.”

Michael: Good job, Ginny.

Alison: You go, Ginny, you go.

Beth: So after Slughorn invites Harry and Hermione to his gathering, Harry has to mention that he can’t come because of Snape’s detention. And so Slughorn goes off to try and convince Snape to let Harry come anyway. At the end of this chapter we know that Snape is not interested in allowing Harry to do that. But we find out that bit of information from, I believe, Demelza Robbins, and this happens a lot in this book. We get messages delivered to Harry from Dumbledore through students and we see Snape doing the same. Is this their main method of communicating with students? How do they disseminate information to individual students? I know they can post notices in the common rooms when they have information for everybody. But if they need to inform a student that – I don’t know – their study session has to be rescheduled, how do they do that?

Alison: My favorite thing about this is that Harry met Demelza today.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Was Snape stalking Gryffindor tryouts or something? Because how would he know that Demelza should be the one to deliver it?

Beth: Well, we just have to reinforce new characters, right?

Michael: I think that if I [were] to theorize, I’m guessing that Snape does this because he’s trying to humiliate Harry publicly. I think we theorized last time we read this that the reason that Dumbledore is sending messages is because Harry explicitly expresses to him that he’s sad that he’s not getting letters from Sirius anymore, and that Dumbledore is maybe doing it as an affectionate gesture.

Alison: Aww. Oh my gosh. I forgot about that.

Michael: So I think on Dumbledore’s part, it’s something he’s doing to be nice. On Snape’s part, I don’t think so.

Beth: Well, imagine being a student: You’re just minding your own business walking through the halls, and Dumbledore or Snape walks up to you and is like, “Hey, you. Drop everything that you’re doing and immediately deliver this to Harry Potter.”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: You would just die.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: I would. I would be like, “Oh my God, yes. Thank you so much for this golden opportunity.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: And then I would take the note and would switch it out for a love note because I’m cheeky.

[Alison, Beth, and Rita laugh]

Beth: No, I would’ve been like, “Well, I was totally going to the library, but sure, I’ll turn back around and go back to Gryffindor tower just for you.”

Alison: “I was leaving the Great Hall.”

Michael: That would sass them.

[Alison and Beth laugh]

Alison: And then you’d get detention from Snape.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Beth: Well, this is mostly plot device, and we have another random plot device at the end of this chapter, which is the Evening Prophet. And I don’t know if we’ve ever seen the Evening Prophet before, but we definitely don’t see it very often and will not continue to see it after this. So is this solely a plot device? Can we theorize about how the Evening Prophet works? Does it come out every day? Does it only come out when there’s more news? What is this for?

Alison: Well, I think it harks back to [that] we know wizards are behind the times. And that used to be what happened; there used to be a morning newspaper and there used to be an evening newspaper because we didn’t have the Internet and 24-hour news. So when major things happened during the day, there were two newspapers that came out each day. So that makes sense to me, that the wizards are still doing that. Maybe most of it is just rehashing what was in the Daily Prophet, and so not a lot of people read it. I don’t know. Harry never really reads the newspaper, though.

Michael: I think you’re right, Alison, that it’s a more classic, outdated touch for wizards. They don’t have Internet; we know that the Muggle Studies students possibly studied the Internet. But yeah, that makes sense to me. It’s also just one of those nice little world touches, that there’s more news being spread that way.

Beth: Might also be a way to slip in little bits of news that maybe people don’t want a lot of attention around because probably not as many people read the Evening Prophet.

Michael: Ooh, sneaky Daily Prophet.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Beth: Well, that’s a tactic that the media actually uses, right? Things that don’t want to be focused on will come out on Friday because nobody pays attention to the news of Friday. Or at least, that used to be a thing in print news.

Michael: Well, there you go. Read your Evening Prophets, listeners. That’s the moral of this episode. [laughs]

Alison: And with that, we’re going to end the chapter. So much has happened.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Beth: So for our Podcast Question of the Week this week, we are doing something new and fun. We have recorded a few of our thoughts on a topic, and we are going to post that exclusively to Patreon. But we also want to know your guys’ thoughts. So if you guys will head on over to the comments and discuss the question that I’m about to reveal, then you can head over to Patreon if you’re a sponsor, or you can become a sponsor in order to see it and hear what we have to say about it. So the question that we are interested in hearing your thoughts on is how Harry in this book handled Sirius’s death. Sirius died really not that long ago in the grand scheme of this chapter, and we see a few bits and pieces of how that is affecting Harry in this chapter. So go over to the comments and we want to hear all of your thoughts.

Michael: And of course, before we wrap up this episode, we want to make sure and thank our guest, Rita. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode.

Rita: Thank you for having me. It was so fun.

Michael: You were a great contributor and we knew from your auditions that you had expressed interest in discussing Hermione, so I’m so glad you were able to hop on and join us for this very Hermione-centric episode.

Rita: Thank you. [laughs]

Alison: And our next topic, for all of you who have been eagerly awaiting, will be Sirius Black.

Michael: Oh boy.

Alison: So we’re going to dive into the life of Padfoot.

[Michael laughs]

Beth: Goes well with our Podcast Question of the Week.

[Michael laughs]

Beth: We’ll get you hyped up for the next topic.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Beth: And just a reminder that you can submit topics for us. If you go to the main site, you can suggest a topic, so if there’s something that you are desperate for us to talk about, go over there and let us know about it. And you can also be on the show, just like Rita. And if you are interested in being on the show where we talk about a topic you suggest, definitely let us know so that we can schedule you for the episode you’re most interested in being on. And you really don’t need a fancy setup to be on the show. All you need is a set of Apple headphones, or headphones with a microphone built in, and you’re all good. And we would love to have you. Rita, hopefully you can attest that we are not scary.

[Beth and Michael laugh]

Rita: No, not at all. The setup is incredibly easy and it’s really fun.

Michael: Oh, good. That’s good to hear. And listeners, I think it’s worth expanding a little bit on just when you submit a topic because I’ve had the pleasure of going through our emails and looking at all of your topic submissions. I’ve looked at them all, and they are beautiful and fantastic, and we love your ideas. That said, be sure to specify if you do want to be on a topic that you submit because there’s the ability to do that on that page. As well as if you do want to be on, please, please, please also email us with a recording sample because we need to know how you’re going to sound because we really want to make sure that your audio quality is good so we can get you on the show, and if not, we can make recommendations for you to better your audio quality, because we want you to join us for the topic that you submit. And if not, we want to make sure you’re submitting for the topics that we will be putting in the dropdown menu on the “Be on the Show” page. But yes, please be sure to submit an audio audition. We had a lot of submissions without audio auditions, so make sure and put that in. If you’re looking for another way to get in touch with us, we’ve got a lot of points of contact, including our Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, our Facebook at, our website, and our gmail, which is where you email those recording samples.

Alison: And don’t forget to check out our Patreon, which as you heard is going to have some special bonus conversation on it for you. And we want to thank Richard Casey again for supporting this episode. You can find our Patreon at, and you can sponsor us for as low as $1 a month. And that’s going to take us out, then. We’re going to leave the Quidditch pitch and we’re going to head back in for our own dinner.

[Show music begins]

Alison: I’m Alison Siggard.

Michael: I’m Michael Harle.

Beth: And I’m Beth Warsaw. Thank you so much for listening to Episode 229 of Alohomora!

Michael: [as Hermione] Open the… Confundledore. Oops!

[Show music continues]

Rita: I feel so privileged to overhear this conversation that no one else is going to hear.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: That’s the benefit of being a guest on the show.

Beth: Yeah, I’m very new to it as well. [laughs]