Revisiting Harry Potter: “Kill the snake?” “Kill the snake.”

Here is my main complaint with this section of the book, which I otherwise love very much: How’s Harry going to use the Cruciatus curse on the Carrow sibling who spits in McGonagall’s face? (I find the Carrows boring and have not bothered to learn their names.) He was unable to do this curse on Bellatrix Lestrange two seconds after she killed Sirius Black, but somehow he can manage to do it just because some Death Eater insults one of his teachers? Number one, that is bullshit. Number two,

don’t torture people. Torture is wrong, and Harry could have accomplished the same effect of punishing the Carrow sibling by just Stunning him/her. I wish McGonagall had said something, like, “Hey, do not torture that Carrow sibling, you war criminal.” I guess we’ll just have to assume that Luna mentions this incident to Hermione later, and Hermione fusses at Harry for us.

Okay. Now that I have gotten that out of the way I shall proceed with talking about Percy, who redeems himself by returning at last! I always knew he would. I knew it because of that time he splashed out in the water to come get Ron. All along Percy really loved his family. I admit that I was hoping Percy would come back, redeem himself, and die nobly in battle. That would take care of Weasley family deaths without one of the twins having to die, something I was deeply concerned about before the seventh book appeared. Instead Fred Weasley dies, and it was heartwrenching, especially when, oh God, especially when Percy is lying across Fred’s body so nothing else can happen to it, and he won’t let go–

The whole Battle of Hogwarts is a pretty great set piece. Although it goes on for a long time, and there’s a lot of events occurring, it doesn’t feel long at all. It feels frantic and disorganized in a really wonderful way. One second Professor Trelawney is throwing crystal balls on Fenrir Greyback’s head (woot), and the next second Neville Longbottom’s grandmother has come to fight alongside him because she hates evil and is proud of her wonderful grandson. The last Horcrux gets destroyed in the Room of Requirement, and Harry’s almost too busy to notice.

This is not the time or place, but sometime later I’d like us all to think about how great a spell Glisseo is. Have we seen that one before Hermione uses it to escape from some Death Eaters? It is awesome. I love slides. If I were a wizard, I’d never ever walk down stairs. I would always make them into slides. That is a much more fun way to get from one floor to another. Does it only work on straight staircases? Or if you are up several floors and you have a staircase with landings, will they turn into one big curvy slide?

Did anyone feel like it was kind of a cheat to have Dumbledore show up and explain everything at the end? As I recall, I thought that it should feel like a cheat, but I was so happy to have Dumbledore back again that I didn’t care. I wanted that chapter to keep going on and on forever, because I do not tire of Dumbledore telling Harry how to understand the world. This chapter also felt very — momentous in the scheme of things, just like, it felt like a chapter that JK Rowling had been waiting twenty years for us to read.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

And then Harry comes back to life and we are treated to the spectacle of Mrs. Weasley getting Bellatrix because Bellatrix threatens Ginny! That part! How she is all,

and kills Bellatrix LIKE A BOSS. You always see Mrs. Weasley when she’s mothering and taking care of everyone, and she is amazing at that, but I liked to see this from her as well. You knew Mrs. Weasley had this in her. When she says that Bellatrix will never touch their children again, I cried three tears from my eyes. Writing about it is making me sniffly.

Oh Neville

I know. This should have been a section all along. I’m sad that it wasn’t. I love Neville and he has wonderful moments in each of the books, because JK Rowling is a genius and she knew all along that Neville was going to save the motherfucking day. It says so much about Neville that Harry can hand over this task to Neville and trust that it’s going to get done.

“Just in case they’re — busy — and you get the chance–”

“Kill the snake?”

“Kill the snake,” Harry repeated…

But Neville seized his wrist as Harry made to move on.

“We’re all going to keep fighting, Harry. You know that?”

NEVILLE. To get an assignment like this and be all,

He not only kills the snake, he does it while he is also on fire. Neville you beautiful genius.

The Adulting of Harry Potter

I am on record as saying that I love it when Harry has a thoughtful moment and chooses what kind of person he’s going to be. He can be impulsive so it’s great to see him thinking matters over in a self-aware manner and making a choice. I love it that we get to see him deciding he doesn’t want to be Dumbledore and keep everything a secret from everyone. Although, I don’t really understand why everyone can’t just know about the Horcruxes by the time Harry gets to Hogwarts? There’s only two left, and since Voldemort is heading for Hogwarts right now, it seems like you’d want as many people on Horcrux duty as possible. Wouldn’t you?

For Harry’s final adulting trick, he names his kid after Severus Snape. That is — an amazing feat of grace and forgiveness. I hope that wherever Snape is right now, he appreciates the gesture.

On the other hand, won’t that be a really, really awkward conversation to have with the kid? “That’s right, son, when we ran out of your grandparents’ names, we went ahead and named you after the guy who was responsible for their deaths.” I would not want to be named after Severus Snape. That dude sucks. He did some helpful stuff, but he mostly was terrible and a bully. If I were Ginny I’d have put my foot down on that one. The world is full of names. Plus, if you’re going to name your child Albus (how cute is it that his nickname is Al?), you should give him a really super normal middle name. If he ever decides he’s tired of Albus as a name, he should have a backup plan.

Y’all! I am so sad the readalong is ending! I know we have a wrap-up post next week, but I will no longer have this forum in which to talk about the many, many feelings and thoughts I have about the Harry Potter books. What will I do with myself? What will happen next time I reread them and I have feelings to share? (I reread these books like once a year. Don’t judge.) Alice, thanks so much for hosting this readalong. It has been great.

Revisiting Harry Potter: I guess now we have to say nice things about Scrimgeour

I decided to do all Disney gifs for this post. Why? Because as usual this readalong is making me feel a lot of feelings, and most of my feelings for the first Deathly Hallows post are wrathful feelings. And Disney makes me feel happy feelings.

Exhibit A: Rita Goddamn Skeeter

How dare she. I get so angry when I read the excerpts from her rotten biography. Righteously angry! With much stomping around and wishing I had her here in my living room. You know what especially pisses me off? I will tell you. It’s when she calls his relationship with Harry “unnatural”.

Yeah, lady, we know what you’re implying with that. I hope Voldemort kills your mother.

(Oh God, I don’t hope Voldemort kills Rita Skeeter’s mother.)

Exhibit B: All these times JKR acts like she’s going to kill Hagrid

Hagrid launching himself off the motorcycle onto a Death Eater to save Harry is of course what would really happen. This is why Hagrid was top of my list for people who were not to die in the seventh book. In fact, this is the part of the book where, when I read it for the first time, I was writing stuff down as I went, and my notes for page 57 of the book (which is where it starts getting super tense with Hagrid and the Death Eaters) say:

I just flipped ahead a few pages to make sure that Hagrid was going to survive.  JK Rowling has a heart of stone and this ISN’T FUNNY.

Yeah, it’s not funny. I have enough emotions. I do not need them to be toyed with. But oh, when they get back to the Burrow, and everyone’s talking about loose lips and how they sink ships, and Harry takes a stand for trusting the people he loves. Once again with Harry making his moral choices. He decides he’s not going to be the guy who’s constantly suspicious of all his friends. He’s going to be like Dumbledore and not like Moody. That’s awesome, Harry. That’s the person you should want to be. Which brings me to:

Exhibit C: Lupin

When did he morph into such a mean jerk? He used to be so chill and calm and sensible, and now he’s all like,

in this book. Slamming Harry into walls and whatnot. Did it happen the instant he put a baby in Tonks, was that the moment? I appreciate that he was there to save George, but I hate it how he’s all “Kill people instead of disarming them!” and “Don’t trust your friends!” Ugh. My love for him started to die in these moments. Shut up Lupin. Go do something nice for your wife instead of looking grumpy and wrathful every time she speaks to you. Or if you can’t do that then, like, go tell your past self how to use a condom.

Not an Exhibit: Ron defending Ginny

Okay, I don’t know what Ginny’s birthday present for Harry was supposed to be ALTHOUGH I HAVE SOME IDEAS AND THEY ARE ALL BLOW JOBS, but I think it’s really sweet how Ron comes find Harry and tells him to knock it off. That’s nice because sometimes in the past Ron has been like awkward big brother sexual protector role, which I hated, and I like it that here he’s just saying, “Do not fuck with my little sister’s feelings.” Yay Ron. Harry shouldn’t fuck with Ginny’s feelings. You are correct.

Exhibit D: Scrimgeour crashing another Weasley party

What is with Scrimgeour’s perpetual crashing of Weasley parties to harass Harry? He can’t come on a different day than party day? First at Christmas and now Harry’s very sweet first-ever (right?) birthday party. And I’m all,

But it avails me nothing because here he is trying to bully Harry and Hermione and Ron. Spoiler alert, Scrimgeour, that has never worked. I feel like when you know three people who have faced down Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters and lived, you should probably come at them with bigger guns than just, like, your angry lion face and a whole lot of self-justification. I don’t actually have to say nice things about Scrimgeour and I’m not going to. Obviously it was not helpful to Harry for Scrimgeour to die without revealing his location, because the Death Eaters are at the Burrow in like twenty seconds.

Speaking of which, is there anyone who read “The Ministry is fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming,” and didn’t start going,

Because that’s what I always do.

And finally, Exhibit E: Voldemort

I know this is predictable. But really, Kreacher’s story about Voldemort “needing an elf” is just — man, Voldemort is an awful, awful person. I always think about how that could just as easily have been Dobby if Voldemort had gone to the Malfoys first. And the Malfoys might not have said “come back” and Dobby could have died right then and never have been free. Meanwhile I like it that Hermione’s not just carrying on and on about house-elves — finally, the people are paying attention to her. Word. I mean they should have been listening to her all along, but we’ll take what we can get.

Next up: The Ron-Harry-Hermione road trips that everyone hates!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

Oh, the seventh and final Harry Potter book.  This post will probably contain spoilers for a number of previous books, and likely spoilers for this one as well.  Sorry.  Can’t help it.  Don’t know how to talk about Harry Potter without spoilers.  Harry and Ron and Hermione have left school now because they are questing for Horcruxes!  They spend all sorts of time running around the countryside trying to find the damn things, and getting into all sorts of scrapes, and at last, you will be pleased to hear, Voldemort gets defeated and everyone is happy.  Except the ten thousand people who die including Lupin that I specifically said not to die, but JK Rowling did try to soften the blow by making him into a complete jerk in this book.

I remember feeling faintly cheated in this book, because all these things were revealed that we could never have suspected before getting the book.  I slightly wish that J.K. Rowling had mentioned Beedle the Bard, or legends of a wand that always won, or just you know, given more clues about what was going to happen.  That way, when we got to this book, the massive shit-tons of exposition would have felt less like exposition, and more like an expansion on things we already knew.  Like that time in the fifth book where Dumbledore told Harry all about the prophecy and that business – we had heard a lot of it before, so it felt fair.  Some of the stuff in this book didn’t feel fair.

That said, I have a hard time feeling critical of this book, because I went all through high school and college with these characters, and now they’re all grown up and fighting evil!  Particularly when it’s characters I didn’t care for much at first, and grew to love – Luna, Neville, Ginny, Dobby – I don’t know, I just feel pleased with them for being amazing.  (Except Ginny, who the only thing she gets to do in this book is make out with Harry on his birthday, “kissing him as she’d never kissed him before”, which can I just say, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT CAN POSSIBLY MEAN.  Whatever, Ginny.  Fight some damn evil.  I liked you so much in the sixth book.)  Neville defeating the snake is one of my favorite moments in the seventh book.

…I really wish the seventh book weren’t already published.  I am sad with no new Harry Potter books coming out ever.  Wasn’t it fun, waiting for the next book to come out?  And having lots of speculation and sometimes proving to be absolutely spot-on perfectly correct, like I was about Snape and Lily LIKE A GENIUS?

Random thoughts:

  • For the first quarter of this book, I was writing down my reactions because I couldn’t shriek them at my sisters.  Here’s what I wrote when I got to Rita Skeeter’s mean article about Dumbledore: “Rita Skeeter, I hope you drown in a river and don’t you shatter my illusions about Dumbledore or I WILL CUT YOU.  He was the BEST MAN EVER.”
  • Harry refusing to give an inch to Scrimgeour even when Scrimgeour’s being super duper intimidating.  I can never have too much of this.  When Scrimgeour was all “It’s time you learned some respect!” and Harry was all “It’s time you earned it,” I had a fantastically hard time not shrieking “Harry FTW!” at my sisters, who were reading it at the same time but maybe didn’t want to be disturbed by my shrieking.  Not quite as good as the “Dumbledore’s man through and through” bit – oh dear, getting teary – but pretty good.  Aw, Harry.
  • Sirius’s posters of Muggle girls in bikinis.  Oh that made me love him so much.  I wish Sirius were still around.  I love Sirius.  Also, when Harry found that letter from his mum, that was the first time I cried in this book.
  • Ron rescuing Harry from the Horcrux.  Excellent, excellent scene; and no, Ron, you don’t deserve to get forgiven straight away.  I was all, This is it, this is it, and apparently so was Ron, but props to Hermione for not wanting to be BFFs again straight away.
  • The first time I read this, I didn’t shed a tear for Dobby.  I don’t know why.  That whole thing is incredibly sad, digging the grave, and Luna thanking him.  When I reread it, I cried and cried and cried.  I think that first time, I was just all keyed up from the past scene and expecting someone major to die, and I was just so relieved that it wasn’t Ron.  J.K. Rowling spent this whole book screwing around with me, pretending Hagrid was going to die, and I did not appreciate it
  • I also didn’t appreciate Harry using the Cruciatus Curse.  That’s great, Harry.  You’ve spent this whole being all like, blah blah blah don’t kill anybody blah, and you decide to go with it now just because someone spits at Professor McGonagall?  Apart from the fact that you have spent the last four books talking about how Unforgivable this Curse is (and the Imperius one – Harry, get a grip, please), I feel like you weren’t really close enough with McGonagall to give a crap if someone disrespects her.  Plus, if you are using Unforgivable Curses, how are you any better than the Death Eaters?
  • Snape’s memories of Lily.  I WAS SO RIGHT IN EVERY WAY.  I even brought up to my sister at one point the possibility that the chapter in the fifth book about “Snape’s worst memory” was actually Snape’s worst memory.  As in, the moment when his relationship with Lily became impossible; but whichever sister it was pooh-poohed my notion.  I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THAT TOO.  I love being right.
  • Dumbledore & Grindelwald.  Love it.  I loved that we got to see Dumbledore one last time at the end of this book, because I miss Dumbledore, being all comforting and wise and explaining everything.  It sort of crushed me when Dumbledore and Harry were talking about Grindelwald, and how he lied to Voldemort about the Wand, and Dumbledore was all, So I guess he didn’t want Voldemort to get it, and Harry was all, Or maybe he wanted to stop him breaking into your tomb, and Dumbledore was all teary.  Oh Dumbledore, honey.
  • Plus, “It may be happening in your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it isn’t real?”  Word.
  • Harry’s parents walking him to his death.  And then Hagrid carrying Harry’s body.  I am always such a mess at this point in the book.  Doesn’t help (crying-wise – obviously it helps plotwise) that:
  • Neville defeats the snake!  Like he said to Harry that he would!  Neville is such my hero.  Darling brave Neville, you have grown up so much since the days of losing your toad.
  • Mrs. Weasley, way to use a naughty word and then kill Bellatrix dead like a badass.  Obviously we should have gotten Mrs. Weasley angry a few books ago.  Like, that other time Bellatrix was trying to kill her children, in the Department of Mysteries, BEFORE BELLATRIX KILLED SIRIUS.
  • I would have liked to see some mention of George Weasley in the epilogue.  I feel like J.K. Rowling could have achieved a better effect by having Percy die, rather than Fred – that works, you know, as far as the senselessness of death, because he had only just come back, and it would still have been terribly sad.  Whereas when it was Fred, it was like, J.K. Rowling is just screwing with us (esp. because George lost an ear earlier and we were all like, well, grand, the Weasley twin misfortune has come and is now over – she did that on purpose!  On purpose!  Meanie-face!).  But anyway, if she had to kill Fred Weasley (she killed three of the four people I asked her not to kill, though of all of them I think I most needed Hagrid to survive, just for Harry’s sake), she should have mentioned George in the epilogue.