Revisiting Harry Potter: “I am not worried, Harry. I am with you.”

Oh the feelings. Oh I have them. I was reading the end of this book on one end of the couch while Miniature Roommate was reading Good Omens on the other hand, and every time she laughed at something in Good Omens, I would think she was laughing at me for crying. And in my mind I’d be all, THIS BOOK IS SAD OKAY? But I didn’t say it out loud because I recognize that would be irrational. But this book is hella sad.

I forgot how Harry-Dumbledore-heavy the last part of this book is. All my notes on rereading it are about Harry and Dumbledore, although this could reflect my own bias, because I love those two hanging out. They’re my fave. Y’all should be prepared for smoke to come out of my ears when Rita Skeeter tries to make insinuations about Dumbledore’s affection for Harry.

I just with Harry and Dumbledore and they’re friends and they hang out and with the feelings–

Ahem. I’ll try that again.

How pleased and proud are Harry and Dumbledore at each other when Harry finally gets that memory from Slughorn? I love how Dumbledore is all tired when Harry walks in, and then when he finds out about the memory he just lights up at Harry and is so proud, and — this is huge to me — he tells Harry he can come destroy the next Horcrux they find. I’ve said before that I love for people to be respectful of what Harry’s capable of (he’s capable of a damn lot), and Harry getting this respect from Dumbledore of all people just means everything.

When they actually do go get the Horcrux, I love that we get to see Dumbledore in action as the Best and Cleverest Wizard of them all. For most of the series, we only hear about what Dumbledore can do, long after he’s already done it. We know he is definitely the Best and Cleverest Wizard, but I like seeing him prove it. It was awesome watching Dumbledore fight Voldemort in the fifth book. The Horcrux hunt is a different kind of awesome, more methodical, like watching a pro chef recreate a recipe for a dessert he’s only had one bite of. It’s extra great because Dumbledore acts about as chill as if the stakes in all of this were whether the dessert was going to come out delicious. That is how Dumbledore rolls.

Greatest thing Dumbledore ever says in this entire series:

“No, Draco,” said Dumbledore quietly. “It is my mercy, and not yours, that matters now.”

Damn. Just about to die and he knows it, and this is what he has to say. I mean, you would name your kid after this man, wouldn’t you? This is the man you name your kids after.

I am realizing belatedly that I should have had a feature in this readalong called “Oh Neville”. Because, Neville.

“We were in trouble, we were losing,” said Tonks in a low voice. “Gibbon was down, but the rest of the Death Eaters seemed ready to fight to the death. Neville had been hurt, Bill had been savaged by Greyback…It was all dark…curses flying everywhere…The Malfoy boy had vanished, he must have slipped past, up the stairs…then more of them ran after him, but one of them blocked the stair behind them with some kind of curse…Neville ran at it and got thrown up into the air–“

Of course he did. Of course he got hurt but still ran after a huge group of Death Eaters alone. Oh Neville.

I know nobody in this readalong likes the Harry-Ginny pairing, but I actually do. Ginny is widely agreed to be awesome, and unlike some of y’all, I love Harry a lot as well. They are both clever and resourceful and they have shared interests like Quidditch and fighting evil. Seems reasonable to me. I was okay with them breaking up (I see the narrative usefulness of that), but this?:

“It’s been like…like something out of someone else’s life, these last few weeks with you.”

This tears at my heart. “Someone else’s life” = “everything doesn’t all the time suck”. On the other hand:

“We’ll be there, Harry,” said Ron… “At your aunt and uncle’s house, and then we’ll go with you wherever you’re going.”

“No–” said Harry quickly; he had not counted on this, he had meant them to understand that he was undertaking this most dangerous journey alone.

“You said to us once before,” said Hermione quietly, “that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we?”

“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron.


The Adulting of Harry Potter

But he understood at last what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew — and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents — that there was all the difference in the world.

This. Just, this. You kids these days and your heroism.

Revisiting Harry Potter: Origins

I know I know. I should have posted a post last Friday too. I didn’t do it because it was my first week back and there were a lot of things going on including buying a TV table and setting up my TV and DVD player and the Roku Box Captain Hammer gave me for Christmas. And buying a new purse (this one here). And organizing a work book club meeting for Five Quarters of an Orange (about which more later). And anyway I am lawless and I cannot be contained by rules. So.

(I am writing this in a coffee shop — I know, I’m such a cliche — and as I type, there is a fire truck stopped outside asking for directions to where he’s going. And it made me think of how when I was a kid, if there was an emergency vehicle of any kind in the neighborhood, we didn’t even have to ask. We just directed it to the house next door. Mumsy probably feels less nostalgic for these days but I thought it was kind of cool and funny.)

Anyway! To the point! Harry Potter and the let’s just agree to call it Philosopher’s Stone because contrary to popular belief, Americans are not morons.

Here are some things I have been thinking about:

1. Not to be a jerk, but you know when Dumbledore is all like, “They’ve had precious little to celebrate for the last eleven years?” Is this accurate? The last eleven years have been like the seventh Harry Potter book? Seriously, what was Dumbledore doing that whole time? Eleven years have gone by and Dumbledore still isn’t up off the mat? Shouldn’t he have gone to Voldemort’s house and challenged him to a magical duel? Like, he doesn’t even have the excuse with Voldemort that he SPOILERS had with Grindelwald of being secretly in love with him. Go fight that evil wizard, Dumbledore of ten years ago! Don’t let him just kill people willy-nilly!

1a. SPOILERS. Not to be a jerk again, because sorry, Dumbledore!, but doesn’t he know that Sirius Black was the Potters’ Secret-Keeper? When Hagrid talks about bringing Sirius his bike back, shouldn’t Dumbledore be like, “No, don’t bring the bike to Sirius, he’s terrible”? Whatever.

2. The wizard monetary system is bullshit. These kids don’t even go to regular school until they’re eleven, and the wizarding world expects them to able to count in multiples of seventeen sickles to a galleon? Is this some sick joke dreamed up by the goblins to screw with the wizards for oppressing them all these years? That…is sort of brilliant, actually. Way to go goblins. Guerrilla douchery.

3. Oh Neville. Show of hands everyone who clasped their hands to their heart and went “Neville!” I feel like that is as pervasive in our generation as singing along to “Part of Your World” if someone plays or sings two bars of it. (NB Start singing “Part of Your World” around a group of twenty-something girls. The results are shockingly consistent.)

4. SHUT UP SNAPE. Snape is the living worst. I cannot wait for…certain events that will occur later. JUST SHUT UP SNAPE. If you ever feel the desire to speak again JUST SHUT UP.

Y’all, I have to say, as origin stories go, this one is top-notch. There’s so much set-up of the awesome aspects of wizarding world, and then there is also this subsidiary mystery thing. I think it’s a good balance to strike. What’s good is that JK Rowling is also quietly setting up what’s going to happen in the later, horrifically dark books. But the main thing of the book is creating a world, and this world could not have been created better. With the sports? And the owls? And the floating candles? And the characters and how you now know they are going to grow into amazing heroes? It’s so great because you discovered it as the books went along, but JK Rowling knew all along. Well played, JK Rowling. Very, very well played. Ten trillion sparkly stars for you.