[Show music begins]
Beth Warsaw: This is Episode 237 of Alohomora! for January 20, 2018.
[Show music continues]
Beth: I’m Beth Warsaw.
Katy Cartee-Haile: I’m Katy Cartee-Haile.
Alison Siggard: And I’m Alison Siggard. Welcome, listeners, to yet another episode of Alohomora!, mugglenet.com’s global re-reread? Re-re-reread [laughs] of the Harry Potter series. We’re excited to introduce our guest for this week. Our guest is a familiar voice. It is Ann, AKA The Head Girl, who you may recognize from being on the show in 2015 on Episode 153. That was a long time ago. [laughs]
Alison: And on SpeakBeasty last year.
Alison: Welcome, Ann.
Katy: Welcome to the show!
Ann: Thank you! I am delighted to be here.
Beth: We’re so happy to have you. Do you want to remind the listeners a little bit about yourself since it’s been a while since you’ve been on the show?
Ann: Sure. So I am a Slytherin/Thunderbird. My Patronus is a white mare, according to Pottermore.
Alison: [gasps] Lucky!
Ann: Well, in actuality, it’s actually a tiny barky dog. There’s no way it’s a gigantic horse.
[Alison, Beth, and Katy laugh]
Ann: Whatever. That’s fine, Pottermore.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Ann: And my wand is elm, unyielding, with a phoenix feather core. But according to Ollivander’s, it’s reed with a unicorn tail core. So I’m not really sure which one I go with. But I’ve been with the Pottermore wand for longer, so…
Katy: That sounds super evil.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Ann: No, trust me. Pottermore gave me such a complex because it puts me in Slytherin; it gives me an elm wand, which is the same wand wood as Lucius Malfoy; unyielding is the same flexibility as Bellatrix Lestrange; and then of course I have a freaking phoenix feather, which is the same core as Lord Voldemort. So thanks, Pottermore.
Alison: [as Dumbledore] It is our choices, Ann.
[Alison and Ann laugh]
Alison: That was my best attempt at Dumbledore.
Ann: I like it. It was good. It was real good.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Beth: I feel the need to point out that if Alison brings out her Gryffindor, we have all the Houses.
Alison: Do we have all four?
Beth: We do.
Alison: Yay! I’ll be a Gryffindor today. I’m wearing my Gryffindor House sweater today, actually.
Alison: So there we go.
Katy: Nailed it! Done. [laughs] Well, this week we are doing a Chapter Revisit. We’re going to Goblet of Fire, Chapter 28, “The Madness of Mr. Crouch.” So you should definitely read that chapter before listening. If you’re like us, reading things out of order, you’re probably going to forget a little bit of what happened. So it’s always a good idea to go re-familiarize yourself so you can call us out on what we forget.
[Alison, Beth, and Katy laugh]
Katy: No, it’s really just to increase your enjoyment. And you can also listen to the original episode about this chapter – Episode 66. That was way, way long time ago. This particular chapter was chosen via one of our Twitter polls. So you should definitely keep an eye out for those and vote to help us choose chapters. And also, I wanted to let you all know that we also take suggestions for topics and chapters via our Topic Submit page, and we also tally votes from social media. So if we’re ever talking about a chapter and you like that, or a topic and you like that, just say, “Hey, yeah, me too. I would love to hear that. I’d love to talk about that.” So we can just add that to our data as we go forward choosing topics. We want to make you guys happy, because that makes us happy.
Beth: Yeah, we take those strongly into consideration when we’re deciding what to talk about next. So definitely keep those suggestions coming. We really love all of your ideas and suggestions on topics.
Beth: So I want to have a huge shout-out to Rachel O’Neil for sponsoring this episode. She sponsors us on Patreon, and we super appreciate that. You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and we will continue to release exclusive tidbits for sponsors. I know Michael has his video game stuff coming. He’s shopping for a new computer right now, and his episode should start coming out as soon as he’s able to get underway with that new machine. And we are always looking for new ideas for what you guys want to see from the Patreon. We had gotten some feedback that some of you were interested in a Facebook group, and so we have that now. And that’s been a ton of fun to interact with you guys on there.
Alison: It’s so fun.
Beth: So come and sponsor us and be part of that Facebook group and join the fun and let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see from our Patreon.
Katy: Thank you, Rachel! We love you!
Beth: Thank you, Rachel.
Ann: Yay! Woo!
Alison: Well, shall we jump into it?
[Chapter Revisit intro begins]
Dumbledore: Three turns should do it.
Harry: Chapter Revisit.
[Sound of Time-Turner ticking and bells ringing]
Ghostly voice: Goblet of Fire.
Viktor Krum: Chapter 28.
[Sounds of footsteps in the forest]
Viktor Krum: “The Madness of Mr. Crouch.”
[Chapter Revisit intro ends]
Alison: Filled with gratitude for Dobby’s help after the Second Task, Harry, Ron, and Hermione head down to the kitchens to deliver a gift of socks. While there, they see that Winky has deteriorated, falling more and more into despair about being separated from her beloved Mr. Crouch, much to the disgust of the other house-elves. Hermione gets backlash from Rita Skeeter’s Witch Weekly article and vows revenge, while Harry sees what’s ahead of him in the Third Task. A talk with Viktor Krum goes sideways when Barty Crouch Sr. appears, babbling and begging to see Dumbledore. Something dark is rising faster than anyone thought, and even though he doesn’t know it yet, Harry is at his most dangerous crossroads yet.
Beth: Wow! I can’t believe how packed this chapter is.
Alison: There’s so much in here.
Katy: So much happens here. For real.
Alison: It’s insane.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Beth: We were talking about this the other day in a meeting with the hosts, but we’re always shocked at how much we pick up on when we read the series out of order. And it’s easy to forget how much is packed into each chapter because you just fly through. And when you read the series out of order, it’s shocking.
Katy: Yeah, it’s really interesting to do it that way. We find so many things we probably would not have paid attention to otherwise.
Alison: Yeah. Or I have forgotten where things happen, and then it’s like, “Oh. Oh yeah.” [laughs]
Katy: Yeah, makes you think.
Alison: This happened around that time.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Ann: I’m not going to lie. Last time I did a read-through, I actually completely forgot that Pig existed until the end of Prisoner of Azkaban. And then I’d be like, “Oh my God! Right!”
[Alison, Beth, and Katy laugh]
Beth: Well, speaking of things that we easily forget, I feel like we’re always having this debate about whether butterbeer is alcoholic. And I don’t know why this keeps coming up, but somehow we can never agree on it. And in this chapter, we have the definitive proof that butterbeer is alcoholic.
Alison: I still don’t know. I still don’t know.
Katy: We have two quotes, Alison…
Alison: I know, but still…
Katy: Regarding house-elves and humans.
Alison: I still don’t 100% believe it.
Katy: Well, Beth, why don’t you tell us about the elf one first.
Beth: Yeah, so in this chapter we get a quote that says, “Well, it’s not strong, that stuff.” And Dobby replies, “‘Tis strong for a house-elf, sir.” So we know that it definitely has alcohol in it and it affects house-elves much more than it does humans, but that there is a small amount of alcohol.
Alison: I don’t know, though.
Alison: I don’t know if that necessarily means alcohol.
Katy: Let’s read this other one, then. Let’s read the other one from Half-Blood Prince. [laughs]
“The rest of the lesson passed without further mention of Slughorn’s party. Although Harry watched his two friends more closely over the next few days, Ron and Hermione did not seem any different, except that they were a little politer to each other than usual. Harry supposed he would just have to wait and see what happened under the influence of butterbeer in Slughorn’s dimly-lit room on the night of the party.”
Alison: But that doesn’t necessarily mean alcohol. I feel like…
Katy: Under the influence of what, then? Sugar?
Katy: He’s 16 years old by then!
Alison: That’s the thing, though!
Katy: Sugar is not going to have that much of an effect.
Alison: It still could though! Butterbeer is crazy, right? I don’t know. I have always thought, and I feel like Jo has said at some point, it’s kind of like root beer, which…
Ann: There’s also slightly fermented root beer.
Alison: Well, yeah, but not like… I don’t know. I am still not convinced, and maybe it’s just because I don’t want it to be.
Katy: I think that’s exactly why. Well, listeners, you can let us know your opinion, but poor Winky here is definitely drunk on it.
Alison: Yeah. I think it’s interesting here that we definitely have proof that house-elves have different physiology than humans.
Katy: Or they’re just a lot smaller.
Alison: Yeah. But I feel like it might… There are a couple of things that suggest that there’s something physically that’s different about house-elves and their biology, which is really interesting to me. Because then it still begs the question, well, where did they come from? What is the evolution of the house-elf?
Beth: Fantastic Beasts, let us know.
Katy: Yeah, we need to know them, goblins, dwarves…
Alison: Are they related?
Ann: Yeah, for some reason I have it in my head that house-elves and goblins are related somehow, but I don’t know if that’s an actual thing or something I saw on Tumblr.
Katy: [laughs] It’s hard to distinguish these days.
Katy: That would be really fascinating to find out for sure. Another question for you, Jo. Stick that on the list.
Alison: Give me more about house-elves.
[Alison and Beth laugh]
Beth: So with Winky getting drunk, we see some problematic behavior from the other house-elves. They all seem to disapprove of Winky’s behavior, and one of them even says, “House-elves have no right to be unhappy when there is work to be done and masters to be saved.”
Beth: Oh. Thank you.
Beth: That really changes the quote, doesn’t it?
Alison: House-elves are saving us all. These books are really called Dobby and the… [laughs]
Beth and Katy: Aww!
Alison: Rewrite it, somebody.
Beth: So in my opinion here, the house-elves are perpetuating the harmful shaming of mental illness. Clearly, Winky here is dealing with depression and addiction and they’re just telling her that she doesn’t have any reason to be feeling those things.
Katy: Yeah, it’s really sad.
Beth: It’s really upsetting. Yeah.
Katy: It’s like their little sub-society has nothing in place to help them. There’s the department that helps place house-elves with wizards, but where are the house-elf counselors, the house-elf AA? I feel like there needs to be more resources for these little guys, because otherwise they just get a tablecloth put on top of them and ignored.
Beth: Well, we know that house-elves can be really awfully abused. And to think that they just have to handle that on their own and internalize it, or whatever it is that they do to handle that by themselves, that makes me really sad.
Alison: It actually makes me think, too, I think it might depend on the family. I feel like house-elves [are] almost expected to be adopted and taken care of by their family, so the family would take care of the house-elf if they were having a problem, right? And obviously we see all the horrible versions of that, but I wonder if there isn’t anything in the wider wizarding world because that’s what it’s thought of. Maybe nicer families with house-elves would take care of that more, like they would see their house-elf as one of their own in some ways and care for them. I mean, we don’t really have an example of that in the book because we don’t see much of Hepzibah Smith and Hokey.
Katy: Well, Hokey seems pretty happy, I would say. I think Dobby is honestly the only one we see abused. Kreacher is nasty and hateful, but not because of his family. He loved his mistress; she clearly was very good to him. It’s just the people who disagree with his mistress he’s vehemently against, because he still wants to please her. So maybe in general, people do treat them pretty well and the Malfoys are the special case that are just complete jerks and kick him around and all that horribleness.
Alison: Yeah. I do want to bring that up a little bit later, though, because I think it connects to something else, like how house-elves fit into wizard families and that connection. But we can get to that later.
Katy: Okay. I look forward to talking about that. Awesome.
Beth: But yeah, I do wish that Dumbledore would have had some way of knowing that this was happening to Winky. And I would like to think if he’d known, he would have done something about it.
Ann: Yeah, it’s weird to think that Hogwarts doesn’t have some kind of – I don’t know – place that they could go or something.
Alison: Is anyone over the house-elves besides Dumbledore?
Beth: It doesn’t seem like it. It seems like they operate on their own without much supervision.
Ann: Yeah. I would say Filch because he’s in charge of maintenance, but he’s not really in charge. He’s just the caretaker. He just takes care of himself, I guess.
Alison: Would Hagrid be over the house-elves? Would McGonagall be over them? I’m trying to figure out whose job description that would fall under.
Beth: I’m sorry; back up. I now have an amazing mental image of Filch directing the house-elves.
Katy: That’s horrible!
Beth: That’s amazing to me. I’ve never thought of that.
Katy: Do not want. Filch is horrible. I could see…
Alison: I just got a cute one of Hagrid directing the house-elves.
Katy: That would be adorable, especially because he’s huge compared to a human. Imagine him beside a house-elf. It’s like a bug.
Alison: Yeah! He picks up seven of them and hugs them.
Katy: [laughs] Oh! Adorable! Yeah, I could see him maybe not being in charge of them but being a resource for them. But maybe Professor Sprout checks in on them since Hufflepuff House is near the kitchens.
Beth: Huh. That’s a neat idea.
Katy: But we never hear about any of that.
Alison: Who plans the meals at Hogwarts? Who’s like, “Here’s what we should have you cook”? Are the house-elves doing that, or is somebody else planning the meals?
Beth: I’d assume.
Alison: Huh. That’s cool.
Katy: Dumbledore ain’t got time to plan menus.
Ann: Yeah, it doesn’t seem like they have a dietician there.
Beth: We see at Grimmauld Place, Kreacher is the one that chooses what to make.
Alison: Yeah, that’s true. But that’s a private home, not a massive school. Haven’t we had a conversation before about, like, do the house-elves know if kids have food allergies?
Beth: Oh my gosh.
Alison: Or if they’re vegan or anything, they make sure they send up whatever they need for their dietary restrictions.
Beth: Yeah, that’s too real for me.
Beth: For those who don’t know, I am gluten-free. I have Celiac disease and it has never occurred to me that I would have to worry about being safe eating at Hogwarts. I just assume that I’d be taken care of, so maybe the house-elves just know.
Katy: Well, see, Pomfrey would just make a potion for you and you’d be fine.
Beth: Oh, my dream.
Katy: I’m gluten free too; I feel you. I don’t have Celiac, thankfully, but I’m definitely allergic. It sucks. And it really seems like wizards are just not prone to such diseases to begin with. So if you were a witch, you probably wouldn’t even have to worry about that.
Beth: Oh, that’d be great.
Katy: Wouldn’t it, though?
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Beth: So still on the topic of house-elves here, Dobby says that Winky is having trouble believing that Crouch is no longer her master and that Dumbledore is her master now. So I have lots of questions on this.
Alison: So do I.
Beth: You go first, Alison.
Alison: It just seems like… Is this a trait that’s bred into house-elves? Is it a natural trait, maybe, that was exploited somehow? Because it seems like all house-elves are really loyal, like all the ones we know, but sometimes it’s hard… Is Winky just unusually loyal? Because Dobby seemed to get over the Malfoys very quickly. I mean, he has some residual trauma, obviously, from his time with them, but he does not care about them the second he’s out of there. But Kreacher is very attached as well, except to Sirius, because Sirius was kicked out of the family. So is Dobby just really strange, or is Winky the one that’s unusual?
Katy: I think Dobby.
Alison: Because it seems that they don’t quite get that.
Ann: Yeah. I think this goes back to what we were talking about, about how probably most families treat their house-elves pretty well, but we know that the Malfoys don’t. So Dobby was probably happy to see the back of them.
Beth: We see Dobby’s loyalty to Harry be so strong. And so I think it’s probably just what Dumbledore says, that if you’re kind to them, they will be loyal to you.
Alison: So are all house-elves Hufflepuffs?
Katy: I love it. [laughs] But didn’t Dobby still have some residual…? Like even after he was freed, he felt bad saying something about the Malfoys or he would go to punish himself before he realized he didn’t have to anymore?
Alison: Yeah, that brings me to my next question. If it’s compulsory for them to obey an order, is it somehow magically compulsory that they have to?
Katy: Yes. We see that when Sirius dies and Harry gets Kreacher.
Alison: Oh yeah!
Katy: That’s how they test it.
Alison: So maybe that’s like a magical bond of some sort and maybe it strengthens over time, like the magic tying them together and making that happen. So maybe Dobby was with them long enough that even after he was freed, there was still a little bit left and that was…
Katy: Yeah, that makes sense.
Beth: That’s really interesting. And I just have this mental image, since Dumbledore is now Winky’s master and she would, I assume, be compelled to follow his orders. But she doesn’t believe that Dumbledore is her master, so if Dumbledore gave her a direct order, I just think it would be hilarious to watch her battle with what to do.
Alison: Well, we kind of see that happen with Kreacher.
Alison: Right? He’s throwing a fit and trying not to follow Harry’s order but he has to. But even then, all Harry says is, “Shut up.” And so he just can’t make noise, but he pounds his fists on the carpet and throws a fit.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Alison: I really need more information about house-elves.
Alison: I really do. I need to know how it works.
Katy: It may just be a MinaLima art that I’m remembering, but I feel like there was a newspaper ad or something where we saw a house-elf training facility or something like that.
Alison: I think there’s one at… it’s either MinaLima, and there’s also a thing in Diagon Alley in Orlando where it’s like…
Ann: Yeah, there’s a house-elf placement service, I think.
Katy: That’s what I’m thinking of. So I wonder if…
Alison: It’s hidden in Carkitt…
Ann: It’s in Carkitt Market.
Katy: Oh! I’ll have to look for that the next time I’m down there. Yeah, I wonder if they’re also a training service, that house-elves go there either when they’re old enough… Although if a house-elf is born into a family, you would think they’re just automatically going to be loyal to that family. Where did they come from? Where are these breeding house-elves?
Alison: That’s true!
Katy: Because each family only has one.
Alison: I wonder if when they breed and they’re in a family, it goes to extended family. So a family has kids and their house-elf also has little baby house-elves.
Katy: Aww! [laughs]
Alison: And then their kids adopt one of the house-elves when they move out. Or siblings.
Beth: Order of the Phoenix makes it seem like Grimmauld Place has had a family of house-elves serving them. And they don’t ever explain how that works, but they allude to the fact that all those house-elves are a family line.
Katy: You’re right. Huh.
Alison: So I wonder then, are there households? I just finished re-watching Downton Abbey again. So are there households with big house-elf staffs, or was that a big thing, I wonder, in big manor houses? And then as time went on it just kind of windled down until most houses would only have one?
Beth: Oh, I bet.
Katy: Yeah. That makes sense.
Alison: They used to have huge staffs at these big manors, and now they don’t have huge staffs. [laughs]
Katy: So maybe all the house-elf babies come from Hogwarts, because they have a huge staff of them.
Alison: My gosh.
Ann: [laughs] That’s where the only breeding pairs are found.
Katy: Yeah. [laughs] That’s hilarious.
Alison: Maybe Newt has a pair of them.
Katy: I just thought of that! Oh my God, you’re reading my mind. The last breeding pair in existence.
Katy: We need our questions answered. Get on that, Jo.
Beth: Before we move on from house-elves, I do just want to point out this thing that made me laugh. Winky says, “You is – hic – nosing, you is.” And I just burst out laughing when I read this line again because it just flashed in my vision, the tagline of the entire series: “Harry Potter, you is nosing, you is.”
Alison: That makes me laugh too because in Philosopher’s Stone, there’s that moment after they get in massive trouble where Harry’s like, “I’m done nosing around in other people’s business.” And it’s like, maybe not.
Beth: Yeah, okay.
Katy: Ever. Never.
Alison: Sure, Harry.
Katy: Meddlesome. [as Lucius Malfoy] “You’re going to go the way of your parents, you meddlesome boy.” No, yeah, he’s totally nosing all the time. Which I think is the cutest word when taken out of context like this, ever. Because I’ve heard of nosing around in people’s business. That’s a proper use, I think, of that word. But you don’t usually just say, “you’re nosing!” The way she says it is so cute. [laughs] It needs to be a thing that people say. So after this, we have Harry go up to the Owlery to get away from the bickering Ron and Hermione and to send, I guess, Ron’s message to Percy. But they use Hedwig because he hasn’t…
Alison: Or is this when they’re sending…? No, he’s sending food to Sirius.
Ann: No, it’s when they’re sending Pig with the food.
Katy: Oh, you’re right, you’re right! Thank you. There’s so many owl deliveries in this chapter.
[Ann and Katy laugh]
Alison: There are a lot.
Katy: He gets Pig and two other owls, I think, to help him.
Alison: Yeah, because Pig’s too small to carry a ham up the mountain!
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Katy: So cute! We need a picture of that too. But I love how after he’s done and they’ve flown off, he just stands up there at the Owlery gazing out at the grounds below. Just watching Hagrid dig up the earth, watching Maxime come over and talk to Hagrid and go back to the carriage. It just gets darker and darker, and he’s just kind of letting himself lose himself in that moment and just chill. And I’m like, why doesn’t he do this more often? This is the only time I can think of that he just says, “Bye. I need to excape life for a few minutes. I’ll see y’all in a bit.”
Alison: I like this because I feel like these are Harry’s quietest moments we find, when he’s up in Owlery or when he’s flying. And I like this idea that Harry feels most calm when he’s not stuck in the muddle of everything. He takes a moment to get above it and get into the clear air. I think it reminds me of… There’s a thing that sometimes people call a teacher thing, because I know a lot of friends who are teachers who do this. And sometimes we’ll just stand on chairs because sometimes it just feels nice to not be at ground level.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Alison: And I know my dad is kind of like this too. My dad is a pilot and sometimes he just has to go flying because he just has to not think about what’s going on on the day-to-day level and be in a different zone. It’s kind of a funny thing. So I like that that’s a characteristic that Harry has, that when he’s up high in the air, he feels a little bit better about everything.
Katy: Yeah. That’s a really good point.
Beth: This is one of those things that made me sad about the movies because Dan Radcliffe, I think, does these really quiet Harry moments very well. And the movies like to insert things that kind of ruin them. Like, “Who am I, Hedwig?”
Alison: “Hedwig, what am I?”
Beth: Yeah. “What am I?”
Alison: It’s one of my favorite shots in Prisoner of Azkaban when he’s standing in the clock tower, and they slowly zoom up to his face in the clock tower. Just framed by…
Ann: Yeah. I was just thinking that it’s really cute that they frame it all as, “well, we’ll give these owls something to do.” Like, “we’re so thoughtful about our bird friends.”
Alison: I like that they think about them being bored. I feel like some other kids probably don’t think about their owls that much, but Hedwig and Pig mean so much to Harry and Ron because Hedwig is Harry’s best friend when he’s not at Hogwarts. And Pig is something that’s only been Ron’s, and that’s so special to him that he has an owl and it’s only his. They really think about them and they’re like, “They’re probably bored; we might as well give them something to do.”
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Katy: That is adorable.
Beth: So speaking of owls and their jobs, in this chapter, Hermione says that she is subscribing to the Daily Prophet for the first time. And that kind of struck me, especially reading the chapters out of order. I was really surprised that we’d gotten all the way here and she was just saying that she is subscribing to the Daily Prophet for the first time. What did you guys think of that?
Alison: I mean, she’s got a good point. Because her reasoning is like, “I’m sick of hearing everything from the Slytherins. I’m sick of hearing everything second-hand. I want to see it when it comes out.” And actually, thinking about it, it kind of makes sense developmentally. That’s kind of the point in a teenager’s life where most teenagers start seeing the wider world and not just their little sphere. And they start engaging with bigger ideas: the idea that the universe is huge and there’s a lot going on and I have to catch up to it. It kind of made me wonder, though. Do you think the Grangers, her parents, are the kind of people that read the whole newspaper and subscribe to several newspapers? I’m just picturing them during the holidays all around the breakfast table. They’ve got three different newspapers spread out and they’re all switching between them, her parents handing her the paper as she grows up.
Beth: [laughs] That is the cutest.
Katy: Yeah, we know they’re intellectuals, so it’s very likely. I’m also doing another re-read, as I constantly am doing. I’m on Book 3 right now and I had this in mind as I was reading, so it popped out at me this time. She also subscribed to the Daily Prophet during the summer between their second and third year. She gets the article with Ron and his family in Egypt and she’s writing to Harry about that. So I wonder if she’s only been getting it during the summers and holidays up until this point and figures if anything big happens, she’s going to hear about it from other students. But in this year, in Year 4, she’s like, “Okay, clearly I’m not getting the full picture because the Slytherins keep…” You know, whatever I’m trying to say; I don’t know. [Slytherins] keep surprising them with this information that they didn’t know was coming out. So she goes ahead and tries to be proactive and get a copy herself so they’re not constantly throwing stuff at them and trying to get a reaction and all this.
Beth: That would explain why I was so surprised that she hadn’t subscribed until now. So, that’s a good explanation.
Ann: Yeah, makes sense.
Beth: So instead of a newspaper, Hermione instead gets in the mail a bunch of hate mail. And this was a really interesting scene to me because it reminds me of the anthrax scare in the US in 2001. And I also was just watching the West Wing episode where they called back to this.
Alison: Oh yeah! I forgot about that one.
Beth: So maybe it was just on my mind, but it struck me how similar of an idea it is.
Alison: It actually reminds me a lot… I think you’re right, but it also reminds me a lot of recent things, especially with the Internet. I feel like, in some ways, we’ve really caught this culture of… In a lot of ways, people will not try and examine the whole thing. It’s just like instant damnation without all the facts, which can be a serious problem. And I kind of get some of that here because that also ties into the theme that Rowling has said Rita Skeeter kind of symbolizes, which is the corruption of news media. People writing things that aren’t true that kind of get up a stir and… yeah. I don’t know. That was just the first thing that popped into my head. And obviously there are people who are guilty of things, but a lot of times people will hear something and not know all the facts and just pop in, “Oh, well, they’re a horrible person. Drop everything to do with them.”
Beth: It’s where the sensational aspect of that kind of thing gets prioritized. Whether it’s on social media or whether it’s in the news, we see that Rita Skeeter always goes for the sensational. And then here we have… You know, I can’t say that word. If it’s a sensational story, it’s more fun to latch on to it and have a dramatic reaction to it. And so a lot of people latch onto that.
Alison: Yeah. And it almost, too, feeds into… Never mind, I’m not going to use that term. It feeds into this idea of people reading things and not fact-checking what they’re reading and what the bias is or where the sources came from because… Yeah, it’s horrible. The fact that grown people thought it was okay to send threats to this 14-year-old girl is horrible.
Beth: It’s absolutely horrifying. This also ties into our Internet culture way of inserting ourselves into the relationships of celebrities, where we feel personally victimized if a celebrity couple breaks up or something like that. Suddenly love is dead.
Beth: We really don’t have a place there, and yet we keep inserting ourselves there. And this is a representation of that too. So interesting. Harry Potter is just always so relevant. I love it. It never stops being relevant.
Katy: Timeless. Completely timeless.
Beth: So I do have a question here. Hermione gets all this hate mail, and then we find out later in this chapter that Hagrid has also gotten hate mail. But Harry has never gotten fan mail and Hermione is getting all this hate mail because of Harry’s fans defending Harry. Why does Harry not get fan mail, or hate mail for that matter?
Alison: The only thing I can think of is that somehow Dumbledore has blocked it. We know Dumbledore is insistent that he grow up as normal as possible, and so it wouldn’t surprise me if somehow Dumbledore has set up protections around Privet Drive and around Hogwarts to keep that out. Though I also have the cute idea that Hedwig sees people carrying letters for Harry that aren’t from people he knows and she shooes them away because she doesn’t want them bothering him.
Katy: That’s a good point about a protection, though, because you would think he would have gotten letters from wizards and witches in his childhood before he even knew he was a wizard. Because they would want to be sending him well wishes and like, “Hey, we miss you! Can’t wait ’til you’re back in our world. Hope you’re well.” Whatever.
Alison: Yeah. Well, if you can send bubotuber [pronounced “BO-bi-tu-ber”]… Is that how you say that? BOO-bi-tu-ber? I don’t know how you say that. If you can send that pus – and there’s that one letter Hermione gets that says she’s going to send a curse – that could have been serious for Harry. There could have been Death Eaters trying to kill him through the mail.
Ann: Yeah, why didn’t somebody just send him an Avada Kedavra in the mail, since apprantly the Ministry doesn’t regulate it?
Katy: You think it’s a Howler, but really it’s an Avada Kedavra.
Ann: It’s a Killing Curse. Oh boy, a FedEx package! Oh God!
[Ann and Katy laugh]
Beth: Well, I was doing a little bit of reading online and discovered that the US Postal Service does not inspect First Class mail. They inspect other mail, especially. They have a machine that they can send unopened things through to test for anthrax specifically, I think, but they aren’t allowed to open First Class mail. So anything could be in there.
Alison: Well, that’s terrifying.
Beth: So the Ministry isn’t way off base on that. I don’t know. Listeners, correct me if I’m totally wrong about this, but that seemed to be what I was finding.
Alison: There’s got to be a way to block mail in the wizarding world. There has to be a way to block wizarding junk mail. There’s got to be something.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Beth: That’s a funny image.
Alison: I don’t know. Maybe owls will only carry… I don’t know. [laughs] I guess not, if they’re sending threats. I was going to say, maybe owls will only carry real messages, but I don’t know.
Beth: Can you imagine someone trying to send junk mail and just having a gazillion owls and just being like, “Go, send these to whoever you find.”
Alison: [laughs] Just like Penny Saver mailers in the wizarding world. Can you imagine?
[Ann and Katy laugh]
Ann: Just all these tiny little owls just flying out.
Beth: A flock of owls.
Alison: [in British accent] “Did you check the post?” “Yeah, Mum, we just got the Knut Saver. It’s fine. I threw it out.”
Katy: That’s amazing.
Alison: Sickle-saver! There it is.
Ann: Oh, there you go.
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Katy: That’s a good question, though. That’s a good head-scratcher. I’d like to get some feedback from our listeners on that question.
Beth: Well, Alison, if you’re looking to save some Sickles, you could just get yourself a Niffler.
Alison: Yeah. I already have one. It’s fine.
Alison: He’s the cutest thing known to mankind and everyone needs one.
Ann: Mine’s recording with me!
Alison: Like, everybody… Noble Collection, I am your new spokesperson for these Nifflers. Listen, everyone. Listen to how cute my Niffler is. So he was a surprise gift, and he’s super fluffy, and he’s super cuddly, and I just found that his little paws come apart. He’s holding a little coin, but his little paws come apart because the coin is Velcro. And he has a little tummy pouch!
Alison: And it’s so cute!
Katy: See, mine has the pouch, but the hands are not Velcro. They’re sewn together.
Ann: Yeah, mine are sewn.
Beth: Hold on, am I the only one without a Niffler here?
Alison: You got to get one.
Ann: Oh my God, Beth. Get with the program.
Beth: I feel very left out.
Beth: Do you all have names for your Nifflers?
Beth: What are they?
Alison: Pastries. He’s named after his SpeakBeasty namesake.
Katy: Ariel is his godmother.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Alison: Yes. Ariel is his godmother. She gave me the blessing to use the name since she came up with it.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Katy: What’s yours, Ann?
Ann: Mine is Macaron.
Beth: That’s so great.
Katy: And mine is Crumpet.
Katy: Because I just like that word.
Beth: Those are all such good names.
Alison: Listeners, if you don’t listen to SpeakBeasty, it’s kind of a tradition that they made up that all Nifflers are named after pastries of some kind because of the suitcase swap. [laughs]
Katy: Yes. And you should totally be listening to SpeakBeasty if you’re not.
Alison: Yes. And you should totally get a Niffler because they’re so cute!
[Alison, Beth, and Katy laugh]
Beth: Well, it seems like the Nifflers in this chapter are also freaking adorable.
Katy: Yes, they are!
Beth: [laughs] So we have a call-out here of the Niffler sniffing in Harry’s ear.
Ann: It’s so cute!
Katy: “It put its long snout in Harry’s ear and sniffed enthusiastically. It was really quite cuddly.” [squeals]
[Ann and Beth laugh]
Katy: It’s precious. That’s what my cat does all the time. She’s always in my ears, licking, sniffing something.
Beth: That’s so cute.
Beth: So here’s a question. Where did Hagrid get these Nifflers? Hagrid reveals to us that Nifflers come from old mines. But I can’t really picture Hagrid going into old mines and searching for Nifflers for this lesson. I’m sure he got them somewhere. What do you guys think?
Ann: I mean, maybe he just went to the Magical Menagerie and just got them.
Beth: Yeah. Can you domesticate Nifflers? Do people just have Nifflers as pets?
Alison: I don’t know if they would be domesticated, but maybe you could find breeders of them. Like people [who] breed alpacas and stuff.
[Alison and Beth laugh]
Katy: Ooo, a Niffler farm!
Alison: Maybe someone who has a… Yeah, Niffler farm.
Ann: So I got my copy of Fantastic Beasts here, and this says that they live in lairs up to 20 feet below the surface. It doesn’t say… It says they shouldn’t live in a house.
Alison: Yeah, and Hagrid says that too. Because Ron wants to get one. He’s like, “How do I get one of these?” And Hagrid’s like, “Your mum would not like that.” [laughs]
Ann: It does say that they’re kept by goblins to burrow deep into the earth for treasure. So maybe he has a hookup at Gringotts?
Beth: Oh! That’s interesting.
Katy: That is interesting. Hmm. Because, yeah, they seem very used to people, the ones that he has. They’re not surprised, like, “What are these humanoid things and why are they touching me?” They seem cool.
Alison: And they’re not really aggressive creatures at all. They’re very… I mean, we’re going to get to this.
[Alison and Ann laugh]
Alison: But they seem very affectionate and some of them maybe mischievous. Yeah. And if they’re used in mines, I’m sure they’re almost domesticated like dogs and things that were bred to be okay with people.
Beth: Yeah. Dogs were originally bred to perform tasks. And so it would be interesting if that’s the stage that Nifflers are in, and then they are further bred to just be cuddly pets.
Alison: Awww! Yeah!
Katy: [laughs] I’m totally…
Beth: You just have to…
Katy: Oh, go ahead.
Beth: Instead of buying dog toys, you buy just shiny things for them to play with.
[Ann and Katy laugh]
Alison: Oh my gosh. They bring you your slippers. They’ll bring you things. [gasps]
Katy: You do an Easter egg hunt every day, but it’s little shiny things and spread them throughout the yard, and say, “Go!” [laughs] I’m definitely picturing a Niffler farm or a sanctuary or something.
Ann: [gasps] Oh my God.
Katy: Can you imagine? That would be happiness therapy for sure.
[Ann and Beth laugh]
Beth: So that’s interesting that you brought up the [Nifflers] bringing back treasure to its owner, because that’s exactly what the Nifflers in this chapter are doing. They’re bringing treasure back to the student that chose them. And I thought this was interesting because it, to me, feels so starkly different from what we see in Fantastic Beasts, which is really the only Niffler we get to see onscreen. And that Niffler is not interested in bringing anything back to Newt. It wants to keep all of the treasure for itself.
Beth: So is Pastries the outlier here? Or are these Nifflers just particularly docile?
Alison: I think Pastries is an outlier. I have this feeling that Nifflers have very specific personalities, and that Pastries is just a very mischievous Niffler. And maybe that’s why Newt still has a hold of him, because they don’t seem to be very endangered. Because if they do things that bring gain to wizards, it wouldn’t make sense for wizards to get rid of them. So maybe that’s why Newt has Pastries, his Pastries.
[Ann and Katy laugh]
Alison: Because he’s this little troublemaker and he’s like, “Oh, if you went out in the world, somebody might hurt you for being a little troublemaker, but I’ll just deal with you.” You know?
Ann: Well, yeah, because we can see that Newt – not to make this a Fantastic Beasts podcast or whatever – but Newt does collect, it seems like, different or damaged beasts. Because Pickett has separation anxiety. The Erumpents are the last breeding pair… It’s the Erumpents, right? No, it’s not. It’s…
Alison: The Graphorns.
Ann: Graphorns, thank you. But yeah, maybe that’s why he has Pastries as well, because he’s unusually aggressive for a Niffler. So he figures, “Better with me than out in the world.”
Katy: I think that’s a great point. That makes perfect sense to me. Especially hanging out with Frank, the Thunderbird that he rescued.
Beth: I think it’s funny that you said that Newt wanted to keep a bit of a hold on Pastries, because he doesn’t do a very good job.
Alison: He tries.
Katy: Watch, I bet Pastries is going to be the one to take down Grindelwald in the end. He’ll just snatch his wand out of his hand.
Alison: Yes. I was going to say, that’s how Dumbledore gets the Elder Wand: Pastries steals it.
[Ann and Katy laugh]
Katy: Oh my gosh. Yeah, Pastries is kind of the Dobby of the Niffler world.
Katy: Not that Dobby’s a troublemaker, but he’s just very different from the rest of his kind.
Ann: Dobby’s kind of a troublemaker, though.
Katy: He can be.
Beth: So the Nifflers are incredibly precious, and so are all the other characters in this chapter. What is going on about this chapter with everyone just breaking my heart and being adorable?
Alison: I know.
Beth: So just a few examples I picked out: Ron with the leprechaun gold. I just can’t handle how heartbreaking he is about realizing that Harry never got the money he tried to give him.
Ann: Oh, when he says, “You shouldn’t have gotten me that hat for Christmas”? Oh my God. Ron!
Beth: Yes. I know.
Alison: This, I think, gives us a really good view into a lot of things. Because up to this point, we’ve known the Weasleys are poor, and Ron’s complained about it a little bit, but not this much. And I don’t think we realize because the Weasleys are so happy and they’re such a good, pretty much functional family, we don’t realize how much their poverty impacts them. But here’s Ron not wanting to accept a gift because he feel beholden to Harry And I think that shows us a lot of how Ron is going to grow throughout the rest of the series, and even things like the twins’ and Percy’s motivations for what they do. Again, this reminds me of my dad in a lot of ways, where he grew up in a not wealthy household, and to this day he can’t do some things because of that. He won’t eat mac and cheese because it reminds him of times [when] that’s all they could afford. And just how much that changes how you look at life, living in poverty, and how much it makes Ron not want to be beholden to his friend, who just happens to be able to afford this and not have to think about it.
Beth: It’s interesting, that dynamic that you bring up between Harry and Ron. We don’t really see that a whole lot before now. Ron is amazed that Harry can afford to buy all the candy on the trolley when they first meet, but there aren’t a whole lot of examples of this. And here we really see that it can affect a friend dynamic when not everybody has the same financial situation. It’s a non-trivial situation to be in, and it’s interesting that we go there here.
Alison: But I think it’s kind of nice that Rowling wrote this friendship [so] that it doesn’t matter to their friendship in a lot of ways. It doesn’t make one of them like the other one less or care about the other one less. It helps teach them some things, like if you are in the position to give, it is good to give and if you are in the position to receive, it’s also okay to receive sometimes and to be okay with that. And he’ll have to learn to be okay with that when people care about you enough, like Harry cares about Ron that he wants him to have a Christmas gift and isn’t going to think about how he owed him for the Omnioculars.
Katy: It’s also interesting, the difference between Ron, the twins, and Percy. Because like you said, we see the occupations they go towards after school being a result of them being poor and not wanting to stay that way when they leave home. But the twins and Percy, though in very different ways, are very ambitious and they take that upon themselves to fix that, so to speak. Whereas Ron seems to have no ambition, and he’s just grumpy about it and hopes something will just change magically one day and it won’t be an issue anymore. It’s like, that’s not how the world works! [laughs]
Alison: I wonder if somehow, though, some of that has fed into the fact that Ron feels like he doesn’t have anything special like his brothers do. The twins are really inventive and their joke shop stuff is a huge hit. And so they’ve got that and they’re like, “Okay, we can capitalize on this.” And Percy is like, “Well, I can climb the social ladder and the governmental ladder and I can make my way to the top.” And it makes me wonder, is that maybe why Bill joined Gringotts in some ways? He was like, “A bank is a good financial plan.” I wonder if that influenced all of them going down. But Ron, being that youngest boy and having such low self-esteem and feeling like he doesn’t have anything special that sets him apart, maybe that’s part of it. He’s like, “I don’t have any skills I can monetize. I don’t have anything that’s going to lead me to that. So how am I supposed to help get myself out of this thing?” And so he dwells on it more.
Katy: He also can just be a lazy bum sometimes. We know he’s smart when he applies himself, but he just doesn’t want to apply himself. He’s like, “Homework? I ain’t got no time for homework. I’m too tired.”
Alison: He’s not very academic.
Katy: But I feel like if he tried, he could be. And I think that affects Harry too. I saw someone comment on something the other day, like, “If I were Harry Potter and I had been brought up by Muggles, didn’t know magic existed, then went to this magic school, I would be taking all the classes and doing all the homework with relish. I would be loving to learn all this.” And it’s almost like Ron influences him for the worse. Because Harry gets lazy too, because that’s what his friend’s doing. So, yeah.
Alison: See, I always got the feeling that Harry, because he was raised in the Muggle world, magic isn’t his default. So he doesn’t think about magic that much.
Katy: Then there’s Tom Riddle, who did the opposite. He got to school and he’s like, “I must learn everything.”
Alison: Well, yeah. But I feel like Harry almost gets overwhelmed with all the possibilities of magic. He’s like, “Or I could just not.”
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Ann: Well, in Prisoner of Azkaban… I just finished rereading it, so it’s stuck in my head. When he’s facing off with Sirius in the Shrieking Shack, his first instinct isn’t to curse him; it’s to punch him.
Katy: Yeah. [laughs]
Ann: Like, boy does not default to magic.
Alison: Yeah, he does that a lot. I mean, [in] Philosopher’s Stone, he’s not the one who’s like, “Oh yeah, there’s no wood.” He doesn’t get mad at Hermione about that because he doesn’t even think about magic. Magic, I feel like, is only useful to Harry in situations where he realizes other people are using magic.
[Alison and Ann laugh]
Alison: And he’s like, “Oh crap, I can do that too.” Like, “I probably should do something to match them with that.” But yeah.
Beth: Well, we also have Harry growing up in the Muggle world. He didn’t have a particularly good upbringing, and he doesn’t mention this to Ron when Ron is complaining about being poor. But later on – or maybe it’s earlier on when he’s sending food to Sirius – he’s remembering what it felt like to be hungry, to not have enough food to eat. And he is relating to Sirius and trying to make sure that Sirius has enough to eat. And it made me really sad.
Ann: Poor baby.
Alison: That one hurts too. I think it’s a part of a teaching thing just knowing that… Kids who know hunger make me sad, because that shouldn’t be something a kid has to worry about. And that is so prevalent in their mind that he relates that, and he’s super vigilant about it that he’s like, “I don’t want someone I love to be hungry at all.”
Beth: Right. All of this fortune that Harry has come across, he’s always comfortable and has plenty to eat at Hogwarts and at the Weasleys’ and stuff. And still, it doesn’t leave his mind that he came from a place where he didn’t have very much.
Ann: Or he wasn’t given very much.
Alison: Harry’s such a good guy, guys.
Katy: I love Harry.
Beth: So continuing the train of heartbreak, we have Hermione and her tiny Easter egg.
Katy: Oh my God.
[Beth and Katy laugh]
Beth: Alison, I know you had thoughts on this.
Alison: Yeah. I love Molly. I really do. I think Molly’s a great character, and she’s an important character. But this makes me angry. But I also understand where Molly’s coming from, because how many times has she met Hermione by this point?
Katy: Three. I looked it up for you.
Alison: Has it been three?
Katy: Yeah. And the last one was at the beginning of this book when she stayed at the Burrow before and after the Quidditch World Cup.
Katy: So they know each other pretty well.
Alison: Three is still… I wonder how much time they’ve spent together, though. Because I feel like that’s a thing. The kids are like, “My friends are over. Mom, go away.” [laughs] But I think she probably knows most about Hermione through her kids, obviously. And I think she may have picked up, even if Ron hasn’t picked up, that Ron likes Hermione. So I kind of get why Molly might be upset, because if Hermione is going to break Molly’s little boy’s heart, Molly is definitely going to bring out some claws. She’s definitely going to be upset about that. So I can kind of see it, but it’s still… It’s just not fair!
[Alison and Katy laugh]
Alison: It’s just like, poor Hermione. And also, I hope Harry and Ron or Ginny shared theirs with her, because they’re having this conversation and Ron is literally shoving toffee in his mouth as they’re looking at these eggs.
Beth: Yeah, I feel like it definitely didn’t occur to Ron to share.
Alison: Like, come on, Ron!
Katy: Are you really surprised?
Alison: I hope Ginny shared hers, though.
Katy: I bet she did.
Alison: Or Harry shared a little bit.
Katy: Yeah. That’s a good point, though, that Molly may have picked up on the fact that Ron liked Hermione, even though Ron’s oblivious still. I can definitely see that being the case.
Beth: Yeah, I always thought it was a reaction to her protection of Harry.
Alison: Some of that too.
Ann: Yeah. She’s still breaking one of her little boys’ hearts even if it’s not one of her biological boys.
Katy: Right. Yeah.
Beth: But I like thinking that she also is feeling a protection for Ron too. It’s really cute.
Alison: Yeah. And moms – especially moms like Molly – are pretty intuitive of those things even when their kids don’t know, so I can see that.
Beth: So we have Molly feeling defensive about Hermione and Harry, and we also have Krum feeling defensive and insecure about them together. And I just am struck by this scene and how insecure Krum feels even though he is this international Quidditch star that he’s like, “Are you sure that she doesn’t like you?”
katy:[laughs] That’s so cute.
Beth: Just “Does she really like me? Are you sure?”
Ann: “She talks about you a lot. Are you sure?”
Alison: I love how he words it though. I love how he’s like, “You have never…? You have not…?” And Harry’s like, “No.”
Alison: What were you going to say, Viktor? What do you think is going on?
Beth: It’s a little like movie Dumbledore from Half-Blood Prince where he’s like, “You and Miss Granger. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.” [laughs]
Katy: It’s too funny.
Katy: But I do like that vulnerability that Krum is willing to share with Harry. That’s cool.
Alison: And I like that this makes Harry like him, where he’s like, “Oh, he’s just a regular, cool guy.” I like how Harry slowly warms up to each of the champions that he’s with. When his name first comes out of the Goblet, he’s really intimidated by them, and he’s like, “They’re all older, and they all know what they’re doing, and I have no clue.” And they’re all a little standoffish to him, and so he gets defensive, but after the first task, he’s warmed up to Cedric. He feels like he needs to be pals with Cedric. And then after the second task and he saves Gabrielle, Fleur warms up to him, and so he’s okay with Fleur. And then now, as we’re approaching the third task, he’s having this moment with Krum where he sees Krum as a little bit more on the level with him, and he’s like, “Oh, okay. Maybe I can hold my own against these people. Maybe they’re just people too, and we’re all thrown in here together.”
Beth: Yeah. I really love that.
Ann: Yeah, the line where Harry says he feels so much taller too. Aww, they’re bros.
Alison: And I like how Viktor compliments his flying, and Harry’s like, “Yeah, you’re really good too. I saw you at the World Cup and the Wonski…” How do you say it? Wronski…
Beth: Wronski Feint.
Alison: Yeah. And he’s like, “And I saw that Wronski Feint, and it was awesome.” They could’ve had such a great Quidditch conversation. I’m sad it got interrupted.
Katy: Yeah. Totally.
Beth: So continuing on this train of heartbreak, we have Hagrid defending Dumbledore with lifting Karkaroff up onto a tree.
Alison: Ugh, Karkaroff is the worst. I have no sympathy for him.
Katy: No. He deserves it. [laughs]
Beth: But it takes him a minute to regain himself and listen to Dumbledore asking him to not do that. He really gets shaken up by what Karkaroff says about Dumbledore.
Katy: Yeah, he really gets reactive there. It’s almost like Dumbledore is scolding him like you would a dog. He’s like, “Hagrid! No!” to get him to come back to his senses and put the guy down. Yeah, but I don’t blame him for flying off the handle because he just spat at Dumbledore, his favorite person on earth.
Beth: Pretty harsh.
Alison: I mean, he’s done more for less so…
[Ann and Beth laugh]
Beth: True. So last one. We have Dumbledore being worried about Harry and about Hagrid, and Dumbledore seems really flustered in this situation. And we don’t really get to see him much that way, and it humanizes him a little bit, and I like that a lot.
Alison: I think this is the first moment we start to see that Dumbledore has lost any sense of control over this whole bigger situation. He’s not as able to craft things as he was in the first three books, the way he takes over a situation and is able to craft a solution. He is really playing catch up because he doesn’t know what’s coming, and he doesn’t quite know the plan. And it’s frightening – I think – that this is the moment he starts losing that control. He starts losing the ability to be a puppet master, and it’s the moment everything goes downhill.
Katy: Yeah. He’s not used to that, not knowing what’s going on. That has to be super scary.
Beth: All my characters being adorable in this chapter.
[Alison, Ann, and Katy laugh]
Alison: Can we talk about something that happens a little bit before… Is it before or just after they go out to the Quidditch pitch? They finally get an answer from Percy. That goes with the eggs, isn’t it?
Ann and Katy: Yeah.
Ann: It comes at Easter.
Beth: Oh, right.
Alison: As we all know, Percy’s redemption arc is my favorite, but should… Maybe not be forgiven, but shouldn’t Percy take a little bit more blame in this for not alerting anyone that something was weird? I don’t know. I still feel like he probably should’ve reached a breaking point enough that he should’ve said something to somebody that would’ve at least tipped them off that something was wrong.
Beth: Or gone to Crouch’s house himself to see if the guy was actually there. [laughs]
Alison: Yeah, or even if he’s just really stressed and overworked, how has he not said anything to anyone that’s made them think, “Wait. Your boss hasn’t been in for months? That’s unusual. We need to check on that.” I don’t know.
Ann: Okay, as the Percy Weasley defense squad…
Ann: I will reflect back to the point that he is 18 years old.
Alison: That’s true.
Ann: This is his first full-time job. He is running an entire Ministry department. Yeah, he’s got people who answer to Crouch, but now they’re answering to him, and so I imagine he’s probably getting pushback because there are people who are probably twice his age who are like, “Why is this literal teenager giving us orders?” So he’s stressed; he’s overworked; the Prophet is hounding him; and there’s really also a part of him that is enjoying this power, that he’s getting this responsibility, that, “Hey, look how great I am. This is literally my first full-time job, and I’m running an entire department, and it’s awesome, except it’s not because I can barely keep my head above water.” So…
Alison: So maybe not Percy himself. Maybe everyone around him. If he does have people answering to him or if he’s interacting with other people, how are they not more concerned?
Ann: Yeah, because I can see Percy not necessarily knowing that it would be weird for Crouch to not show up to work if he’s gravely ill because he met the dude… What, it’s April, so he met the dude a year ago, less than a year ago, and someone else who’s been there for a while should’ve been like, “Hey, Barty came in when he had some serious illness previously. What’s changed?”
Katy: Yeah, I don’t know. I think Percy was doing his best for that age and for his experience level because he was seeing Crouch at first, and then he was getting letters in his handwriting, so he didn’t have any good reason to think anything was different or wrong, so I understand why it went… Maybe not quite as long as it did, but I understand why it would’ve gone for quite a while before he or any others would start questioning, “Okay, something’s a little off here.” But yeah. So maybe some blame but definitely not all of it.
Beth: Well, I can relate a little bit to when you’re even new on a project, never mind new on a job, and that young. When something feels a little off to you, your first instinct is not to be like, “Woah. Something’s off.” Maybe you might be like, “Hey, is this normal? Is this what it’s usually like?” But most of the time, your brain goes to “Well, that’s weird. I guess that’s how it is here.” And to transition from that to “Hey, alarm bells, red flags” is pretty significant for someone in his position.
Alison: Yeah, that’s true.
Ann: Yeah, because if you know that you don’t want to rock the boat, you want to just keep going.
Beth: And Percy is trying so hard to do a good job that he doesn’t want anything to get in the way of that. Oh, Weatherby.
Alison: I actually have a question about that because for the first time reading this I was like, “Wait was Weatherby the name of Crouch’s old assistant?” Because the way he talks to him is definitely about things that are out of Percy’s timeline, you know? So I wonder if he was an old assistant and Crouch just like never learned to… bothered to learn Percy’s name, you know?
Beth: Yeah that does…
Beth: That fits with the mumblings of Crouch later on.
Ann: Yeah, like when he says my son has just gotten 12 O.W.L.s. That had to be like ten years ago at least?
Alison: Long time ago.
Beth: Yeah. He does a lot of intertwining current day with the past in his mumblings. He doesn’t really seem to know the difference. He talks about going to a concert with Mr. and Mrs. Fudge, and he talks about his son doing well in school, and he also talks about things that happened only months ago with setting up the Triwizard Tournament. And so it seems like there’s a bit of both stuck in there.
Katy: Well speaking of Crouch, we were curious how he got all the way to Hogwarts.
Ann: Can you Apparate? Like you can probably Apparate to Hogsmeade. And then you’d have to walk from there.
Alison: But I doubt he could have Apparated all the way. So maybe he’s just been Apparating sporadically into random places until he made it there. Because how long has he been missing?
Katy: Well he hasn’t been at Hogwarts since the first task which was the end of November. So the chapter we’re in now is in May.
Beth: So I don’t think…
Katy: Yeah, it has been quite a while.
Beth: I don’t think he was out and about that whole time. I think he was probably [unintelligible] some of that.
Ann: Oh, yeah.
Alison: No, I don’t either; but I know Wormtail is supposed to be basically imprisoning him at this point, so does it say when he got out of that?
Beth: I don’t think we know.
Katy: It doesn’t specify when. No. It just says that over time he was able to… Well I can read a little quote here. This is from Barty Crouch Junior explaining at the end what happened. It says,
“After a while he,” talking about his father, “began to fight the Imperious Curse just as I had done. There were periods when he knew what was happening. My master decided it was no longer safe for my father to leave the house. He forced him to send letters to the ministry instead. He made him write and say he was ill, but Wormtail neglected his duty. He was not watchful enough. My father escaped.”
So yeah. It doesn’t say how long that took. But at some point he was able to break out of that.
Alison: But if you used the map – and he gets really excited about the map – I wonder… I feel like Crouch must have escaped just before he found out about the map. And that would have been just before the second task right?
Katy: Yeah. Let’s see.
Alison: So I guess he hasn’t… It’s only been a few weeks, maybe a month or so? I’m so bad at time.
Katy: Yeah wasn’t the second task in like February I feel like?
Ann: Yeah; I think it’s like February 24th or something.
Alison: So it has been…
Beth: I’m also just really confused about how much communication did Crouch Junior have with Voldemort and with Wormtail? He seems to know all this information. So they clearly had some correspondence with him. So did they let him know when his father escaped? And it says it later on in this quote that Voldemort guessed he was heading for Hogwarts. So…
Katy: Yeah he says, “My master sent me word of my father’s escape.”
Beth: Oh, okay. There it is. So they definitely are discussing it.
Alison: I would assume it’s not like regular contact though, because someone would have figured that out right?
Ann: One would hope.
Alison: One would hope one would hope a lot of things.
Ann: One would also hope you can’t send Bubotuber pus to a 14-year-old by an [unintelligible], but whatever.
Beth: But so we find out here that Voldemort is the one that put the Imperious Curse on Crouch Senior, and so fighting off the Imperious Curse from Voldemort is a major achievement. He doesn’t fight it off completely, but he fights it off way more than I ever could have expected someone to. But what do we think happened with that escape? How did he get out?
Katy: It looks like Wormtail just wasn’t paying attention for five minutes.
Alison: Yeah. And we know the Imperious Curse can be fought because Harry fights it. And Harry succeeds. But I’m interested in how strong this curse must have been because it seems to have damaged Crouch’s brain.
Ann: What seems like he’s still trying to fight it.
Alison and Katy: Yeah.
Alison: Yeah. But the way he talks and the way that he doesn’t always seem to know where he is. Spells can do brain damage, we know. So I wonder… not how does that work, because that’s kind of horrible, but how would he get out of that without… I don’t know.
I think you’re completely right that it was him fighting that strong of a spell for that long. That eventually started addling his brain but he had just enough consciousness and lucidity left to realize what had happened, what he had done, that he knew he needed to get to Dumbledore and warn him. But he kept, yeah. It took him a long time to get there clearly because he kept getting sidetracked and not, going in and out of a lucid state where he knew who he was, and when it was, and where, all that.
Alison: And I mean I guess we know magic can be – especially these powerful curses and stuff – can be very detrimental because we know Bertha Jorkins basically went brain dead after her… She’s not Imperious Cursed, right?
Ann: No, it’s a memory charm.
Alison: Memory charm. That’s right. So after that Memory Charm, and Voldemort breaking through that memory charm that she basically was brain dead. That’s scary guys!
Katy: Yeah. Well the first memory charm…
Alison: This is scary magic!
Katy: The first memory charm doesn’t addle her brain that it does a little I think. But she’s still…
Alison: No it’s Voldemort breaking through.
Katy: Exactly and she gets to Albania and he finds her yeah then- well he kills her at the end.
Alison: Yeah. Because doesn’t he say he had completely broken her mind or something? I’d have to reread it.
Ann: Yeah, I remember there’s something in the beginning of the book – I’m looking for it now – talking about how the Muggle, the guy who’s running the campgrounds. He keeps having to have memory charms. And his mind, he’s like completely zonked. Hang on I’m looking.
Beth: I’m still stuck on the fact that Voldemort put the Imperious Curse on Crouch Senior and then had Wormtail watch him because we know other instances of the Imperious Curse where you kind of just like set it and leave it. And Voldemort is not only extremely powerful, but he also is very arrogant with his power. And so it’s surprising to me that he felt the need to doubt his power enough to have Wormtail be watching Crouch in addition to the Imperious Curse.
Alison: It was it wouldn’t surprise me if it was just to get Wormtail out of the way.
Katy: Yeah. But also Voldemort was still very weak at this point. He didn’t have a body.
Beth: That’s true.
katy: Yeah I’m surprised actually that that he had the power to even perform the Imperious Curse. I assumed he would have had Wormtail do it but it doesn’t say that as Voldemort himself did it. And he was gaining strength by this point with Nagini and all that. And I guess Nagini was there with them even though Crouch Junior doesn’t mention her. I’m assuming she was around. Hmm. Yeah I guess that’s why. He was using all of his energy to get stronger and to control Crouch. So he’s like, “Okay Wormtail you can physically watch him with your eyes and try to make sure he doesn’t leave the house. While I’m over here drinking snake milk.”
Alison: Snake milk. Snake juice.
Ann: Ew! Oh.
[Everyone continues laughing]
Katy: Yeah, that’s even better.
Alison: Well and also you guys have Parks and Rec. This is a total side tangent. Parks and Rec. Tom Haverford invents an alcohol called Snake Juice that’s absolutely horrible. There’s an episode where like everyone drinks it and gets roaringly drunk. It’s really embarrassing for everybody. Anyway.
Beth: So that’s what Voldemort was doing this whole year; just getting super drunk.
Ann: Getting turnt.
Alison: He’s like April when she’s rapidly talking in Spanish dressed as Janet Snakehole. Angrily rapid Spanish. Anyway, that was a total side tangent. Moving on!
Beth: Let’s move on to talking about Harry and his journey to find Dumbledore as he bumps into Snape in the castle. This really struck me, rereading this chapter; when he bumps into Snape and Snape asks him what he’s doing. He is straight-up honest with Snape about what’s going on, and that surprised me. I would have expected Harry to do something like, “Oh, I’m just looking for Dumbledore because I need to talk to him badly.” But he…
Alison: I think Harry’s freaking out.
Alison: He is freaking out. He has no idea what’s going on. And he’s also been physically grabbed by Crouch, someone he does not know, and he is freaking out at this point. Especially, I think, because Crouch mentions Voldemort, and Harry’s been having those dreams. Harry’s in straight-up panic mode. And he doesn’t even care. He just knows he has to get to Dumbledore, and that’s all he knows.
Beth: Dumbledore doesn’t panic, but he gets the closest to panic I think we’ve ever seen him to this point, especially when Harry says he left Crouch with Krum. Dumbledore’s like, “You did?” What do we think that’s about?
Ann: I think it’s…
Alison: I wonder if part of… Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Ann.
Ann: Oh, okay. I was going to say I think maybe it’s not that he doesn’t trust Krum but that he doesn’t trust Crouch. Because Crouch has already shown he’s mentally unstable. And it can cause an international incident if this judge goes after one of the foreign kids, which Karkaroff tries to stir that up later.
Alison: Yeah. I do wonder, too, if it’s not Krum necessarily that Dumbledore doesn’t trust. But Krum’s closest authority figure is Karkaroff, and Dumbledore doesn’t trust Karkaroff. And I wonder if some of it, too, is Dumbledore’s other experience with a Durmstrang student was Grindelwald. And I wonder to some extent if he is slightly – even unconsciously – less trustworthy of them because of that.
Beth: What does he think could happen?
Alison: I mean, I think he could be worried that Krum will go get someone and that it’ll cause even a bigger problem that Dumbledore can’t control. He knows Durmstrang has a history of Dark Arts and teaching Dark Arts. So maybe he’s worried Krum will panic and use something that he shouldn’t, necessarily, and they’re going to lose Crouch. And if Crouch is here and needs to talk to Dumbledore, Dumbledore is very, very concerned about that. Very, very concerned, especially if Harry tells him he’d brought up Voldemort. He’s very, very worried.
Katy: And Karkaroff being an “ex” Death Eater, he would want to stop that real quick if he were around. And Krum could have… We don’t know. He’s an advanced 18-year-old student. If he knew how to do the Patronus messenger thing, he could have called Karkaroff to him while Harry’s in the castle. They could’ve been doing who knows what. So yeah, I could see why Dumbledore would be concerned.
Beth: With all that in mind – disregarding for a second what actually transpired – do we think that Harry did the right thing?
Ann: Yeah. What else could he do?
Alison: Yeah. Maybe he could have run to Hagrid’s. It was closer. But I think honestly it was the only thing Harry could think to do. And he’s panicking.
Katy: I wonder if Harry had stayed there and sent Krum to the castle… We know Krum doesn’t know where Dumbledore’s office is, but if Krum burst into the castle, goes to the first adult he sees, and says, “Harry Potter is in danger in the forest. I need Dumbledore,” I don’t think anybody would have given him any grief. Snape wouldn’t have gotten in his way. He would’ve immediately listened to him and gotten Dumbledore.
Alison: And I think Harry would’ve been dead.
Katy: Well, no, because Crouch said he knew he needed to keep him alive for his master.
Alison: But Crouch Jr. would have had him on his own.
Katy: Well, yeah. That’s who I’m talking about. He’s the one that knew he needed to keep him around to get to the end of the…
Alison: Yeah. No, I know. But I’m saying it’s late enough that I think if Crouch had had the opportunity to somehow kidnap Harry and get him to Voldemort at that point, he would’ve done it. And I think if Harry had been alone in that situation, he could’ve easily killed Crouch, taken Harry, and been gone.
Beth: I just got chills. That’s crazy.
Katy: That is crazy.
Alison: And no one would have known, and Harry would’ve died.
Alison: Let’s put a damper on that!
Katy: That’s terrible. Yeah, I was trying to remember if there was a particular reason that it had to be in the tournament.
Alison: I think it was just you had to find a way to get him out without Dumbledore’s all-knowing eye.
Katy: But I thought they were planning to send his dead body back at the end and make it as if it was just in the tournament he had died.
Beth:Yeah. They didn’t want to reveal Voldemort yet.
Alison: Yeah. But I still think they could have done that if he had killed Crouch. It would have looked like Crouch took him. He could have done something to take care of that and gotten rid of him. He could’ve fabricated some story or some theory, I guess, and it could have all been over.
Katy: That’s horrible to think about. Yikes.
Alison: Well, wouldn’t have really been over, because Harry would have just gone to Kings Cross.
Katy: You don’t need those last three books.
Alison: Maybe not, I guess. There’s a lot that goes into that. It’s fine.
Beth: Well, so Katy, you mentioned here that it would have been nice if Harry had had another way of getting Dumbledore’s attention, if Lupin had taught him how to use the Patronus communication.
Katy: Yeah, because he’s the one that taught him all about how to cast a Patronus.
Alison: Oh. Don’t blame Lupin!
Katy: I know, he was probably just too sickly to think about teaching him yet another thing. And he didn’t have a lot of time with those lessons because he was sick all the time. So I get it, but it would have just been nice if he’d said, “Oh, by the way, here’s another thing you can do with your Patronus.”
Beth: Do you think it’s harder to do it?
Alison: I think so.
Ann: Yeah, definitely.
Alison: When do you think that was invented, though? Because I assume Dumbledore invented this, right?
Katy: Yeah, we don’t know.
Alison: I am going to look it up, because half of me feels like it was on Pottermore at some point.
Katy: Well, it says on Pottermore that Dumbledore uses that for the first time here in this chapter. It says, “Dumbledore’s Patronus is a phoenix, which is revealed to us when he wants to summon Hagrid after Victor Krum is stunned.”
Beth: Hold on, though. Do we really see what form it takes in this chapter?
Katy: It just says, “a bird.”
Ann: Harry just says it looks like a ghostly bird.
Beth: Oh, okay.
Alison: Yeah. Because I think it goes off fast enough. I mean, it is a Phoenix, so…
Katy: I think that was revealed on Pottermore that it was specifically a Phoenix. It was just such a quick…
Alison: I think we find that out later, too, in the book.
Ann: No, don’t we find that out in Order of the Phoenix? No, wait, I’m thinking of when he goes off with Fawkes. Never mind.
Alison: But I think we do find that out in the books at some point.
Beth: Is it when he gets arrested that we find out what it is?
Ann: No. That’s what I was thinking of. It’s because he disappears with Fawkes, not… I could have sworn he flew off with his Patronus, but that’s not what happens. [laughs]
Katy: That would be awesome. Fly off on your Patronus.
Beth: Well, I do think it’s really interesting, the idea that Dumbledore invented this way of using Patronuses. That had never occurred to me. But we only ever see it being used with members of the Order.
Katy: You’re right.
Beth: And that’s fascinating to me to think that Dumbledore could have invented it.
Katy: I love that. I hope that’s true.
Ann: I mean, according to The Harry Potter Wiki, it says it was devised by Dumbledore. But I don’t know where they got that from.
Beth: Yeah. The Harry Potter Wiki is not always to be most trusted.
Ann: Yeah, no, I know.
Beth: Is there a source?
Alison: It doesn’t say.
Katy: Yeah. So we’ve got the Death Eaters with their dark mark. We’ve got Dumbledore’s Army with the coins. I love the idea that the Order of the Phoenix uses Patronuses as their communication method.
Alison: I really feel like it is something that Dumbledore invented.
Beth: Listeners help us out!
Alison: If you can find this let us know because it’s bothering me. Well it does say on Pottermore that it’s usually very skilled, and people with a lot of conviction that can produce Patronuses. Those are like the only people and so it makes sense that Dumbledore would, I mean the people who are joining the Order of the Phoenix are usually very skilled people with conviction you know?
Katy: Yeah there’s no source saying that Dumbledore devised it specifically. Just, there is a source about that Patronuses can’t be faked basically and that’s why they’re dark arts proof, but nothing about specifically Dumbledore.
Beth: It’s just such a…
Katy: So Harry Potter Wiki is lying to you.
Beth: It’s just such a clever way to communicate because you immediately know who it’s from. If you know that person’s Patronus.
Ann: Yeah, that’s true.
Alison: Well and it uses their voice.
Beth: Right. Well is that a book canon thing?
Alison: I think so. I’m pretty sure it is.
Alison: Yeah. Because it’s Kingsley’s voice right?
Beth: We get that line about is it Kingsley sounding like he’s talking from a closet? Or something.
Alison: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, I think says like too that they hear what’s going on around him. Yeah. As he tells them, “They are coming.” And we also know it’s Arthur’s voice because that like, completely calms Ron down and like helps him release a little bit after. Yeah.
Beth: Yeah. We see this a lot during the books. I just didn’t realize that this was our first time seeing it. I guess I’m not all that surprised since we were only introduced to Patronuses at all a book ago.
Beth: Very interesting. I’m very excited to read all the listeners’ comments to see what you guys think about this.
Alison: Yeah. There was a lot in this chapter.
Beth: So much!
Katy: Love it.
Beth: So Katy do you want to close this out with this last a little bit here?
Katy: Oh sure, yeah. The very end of this chapter we get Hagrid taking Harry back to Gryffindor Tower, and he’s so angry. I mean he just got done basically strangling Karkaroff. So he’s still coming down off of that but he’s also had an issue with Madam Maxime at this point as well. And he literally says to Harry,
“The less you lot have to do with these foreigners the happier you’ll be. You can’t trust any of them.”
It’s just like “Oh!” That he’s had…
Alison: I think Hagrid’s just really upset.
Katy: He totally is. I understand where this is coming from because he’s had all these horrible personal experiences with people from both schools. But I just hate that that’s come out in this generalizing thing like, “You can’t trust any of them they’re all horrible. Stay away from them.”
Alison: I don’t think Hagrid means it.
Alison: I think it’s kind of a big thing in this book. This idea of… I mean a lot of Harry Potter is about this, but in this book we get a lot of other you know? And it’s hard to trust people who you see as other sometimes, you know? And that kind of back and forth of should you trust them? And we finally when we get to the end of this book after everything that’s happened, and they know we have to come together or we’re never going to make it through this fight. We see that, yes, you have to; That’s the only way you make it through, is you have to get rid of the distrust, and you have to get rid of the hate, and the generalization or there’s no way you make it through. You have to come together and at least work with each other.
Beth: And again what the relevance to today.
Ann: Yeah. Too real.
Beth: Full circle. I can’t wait to find out, 30 years from now how Harry Potter continues to be relevant to the real world.
Alison: It probably will be forever, it’s fine.
Beth: I think so.
Alison: Ugh. It’s awesome. Always relevant. Also always relevant is how much we are thankful for our great guests and how much we are thankful for Ann today!
Ann: Aw! Y’all!
Beth: Ann, you were fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Ann: Thank you guys again so much for having me. This was awesome! And Macaroon had a great time.
Katy: Tell him Crumpet said hi!
Ann: Will do!
Alison: So does Pastries. He’s across the room from me right now.
Katy: Well our next topic is going to be Hermione Granger the wonderful.
Beth: I’m so excited.
Alison: I hope you’re already for me to go full on. My favorite!
Katy: And if you want to go full on because Hermione’s your favorite, or you hate her. Either way you should audition to be on that episode and be a guest like in. So Beth tell you how to do that.
Beth: Yes. So you can go to our website and choose the “Be on the Show” or the “Topic Submit” to join us here on the show. And if you would like to be on the show and you have a specific topic in mind that you’d like to be on, definitely let us know about that. And also make sure you send us an audio audition as well so that we can check out your audio and make sure you’re going to sound just as amazing as Ann does on the show. And I just want to let everybody know that we have been having a few issues with our website. I really want to thank everybody for your patience. I know it’s been frustrating; we’ve been frustrated too. But we have heard that often the captcha has been broken on the submit page. So if that happens, please feel free to let us know that so we can try and get it fixed. And hopefully you’ll be able to e-mail us – which Alison we’ll let you know what that is – or get in touch with us on social media. And I believe all of our website is up for the most part and running. Our comments are available again. So thank you guys for being patient with us as we deal with all of that. So again, if you would like to be on the show all you need is just a microphone with headphones. Sorry, headphones with a microphone in them. And you should be all set.
Katy: Or they can be separate. They don’t have to be together.
Alison: And if you just want to get a hold of us for whatever reason our Twitter is @AlohomoraMN. Facebook.com: Facebook.com/opentheDumbledore. Our website right now – the one that will get you there – is Alohomorapodcast.com. We’re still working on making sure our subdomain redirects. We’re having a little bit of an issue with that but alohomorapodcast.com. will get you there. You can check out our YouTube channel at YouTube.com/AlohomoraMN. Or just send us an email if you can’t get through for submission topics or anything, email@example.com. You will get right in contact with us and it’ll be there.
Katy: And I want to remind you guys once more to check out our Patreon and give another round of applause for Rachel O’Neil for sponsoring this episode.
Beth: Thanks Rachel!
Katy: And you can check out our Patreon at Patreon.com/alohomora. You can sponsor us for as low as a dollar a month, but also be sure to check out our higher tiers for access to Dumbledore’s Office on Facebook, for episode sponsoring decals, chapter readings with Michael, and vintage Alohomora! t-shirts. Check all that out and see what you want to sign up for.
Beth: I want one of those a vintage Alohomora! T-shirts. I don’t have one.
Ann: I don’t have one from Patron, but I have one just from being a longtime, old school Alohomora! listener. It’s actually Noah’s shirt that says “Is it alive?”
Beth: That’s great.
Alison: Laura confirmed to me when I met her at Leaky at 2013 it is the only one in existence. I am super Alohomora! hipster.
Katy: You should frame that.
Beth: Well I might have to sponsor us on Patreon so I can get one of these T-shirts.
Beth: Anyway thank you guys for listening. I’m Beth.
[Show music begins]
Katy: I’m Katy.
Alison: And I’m Alison. Thank you for listening to episode 237.
Katy: Get out of the way Snape, I need to open the Dumbledore!
[Show music continues playing]
[Show music fades]
Katy: Do you all hear this rain by the way? I’m sorry.
Beth: I hear it a little bit.
Ann: Oh wow is that what that is?
Alison: Oh now I hear it.
Katy: There is this crazy storm going on right now and the rain is beating against the window that’s right beside my head my way.
Alison: I’m sorry a little bit earlier there was like machine tool sounds. They’re trimming the trees around my apartment complex. And of course they were right by my apartment.
Katy: But of course.
Beth: Good know my heat will blend right in.
Alison: Sorry John!
Katy: I just want you all to know what was going on. Because it was so loud.
Beth: It’s not too bad on this end. So it should be okay.
Katy: Okay good. But yeah, this is just another example of Snape being the worst.
Anny: The worst.
Alison: Just speaking Parks and Rec. right now, [singing] “The Worst.” Anytime I can use that I do.