In this corner (of Harry’s train compartment), we have Team Snake. In the other corner, we have… Team Gryff?
When Draco bursts into Harry’s compartment with his cohorts Crabbe and Goyle, we are given our official introduction to Slytherin’s future “shadow Trio.” These boys know each other already, though we we have to get a little deeper into the story to find out how.
As it happens, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle are the sons of Death Eaters who all apparently avoided imprisonment in Azkaban at the end of the First Wizarding War.
On first sight, Harry notices of Draco’s friends that…
“Both of them were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they looked like bodyguards.”
Physically at least, they seem to be more than a match for Harry and Ron, yet when things turn nasty after Harry rebuffs Draco’s offer of “guidance,” the future Gryffindors stand up to these much larger future Slytherins. Just like a good Gryff should.
But unlike the Slyther-friends, there is no such cohesiveness on Team Gryff (“Team Lion” doesn’t sound quite as good).
These kids barely know each other, and so our future main Trio is currently in disarray. But they remind me of something… my “gutty little Bruins” from UCLA, where I attended Grad School.
You know about teams like this, right? Statistically speaking, they don’t come close to matching up with the opposing team, and nobody would ever pick them in fantasy sports. They’re smaller than their rivals. They don’t have as much money. They often seem to have less talent. But they play with lots of heart, and they appear fearless, regardless of the odds.
That would be our Gryffindors.
A Closer Look at Team Gryff
On the train to Hogwarts, our future gutty Gryffs do not look impressive, so let’s look at their lineup:
Harry: A Half-Blood Wizard boy raised in a Muggle family. For the first time in his life, Harry is confronted with the fact that he’s famous and people are expecting “great things” of him. But he has spent his life bullied by his cousin and treated like a slave by his aunt and uncle. He fears that the kids raised in Wizarding families will know loads more magic than he does. And worse, he worries that maybe there’s been some horrible mistake and that no House at Hogwarts will have him.
Ron: A Pureblood Wizard boy raised in a very large family. As the sixth child, Ron doesn’t even have a new wand or pet. In fact, when he tries to perform “magic” on his hand-me-down pet rat, we find that a unicorn hair is sticking out of his wand. Though he’s not famous like Harry, he still has a lot to live up to. His older brothers have excelled at Hogwarts. Among them are Quidditch players, Prefects, and even a Head Boy.
Hermione: A Muggle-born Witch also raised in a Muggle family. Hermione is an overachiever who becomes more talkative and pretentious the more nervous she is. She shows off her knowledge at every given opportunity and bosses the boys around. This is not a fortuitous beginning. Her future spouse Ron, in particular, just can’t stand having her around. In fact, he hopes to sort into some House that she’s not in. (Ah, true love! Was it ever more obvious?)
Well, there you have the Trio. And then, there’s the hanger-on…
Neville: A Pureblood Wizard boy who seems completely hapless and hopeless. On the train, he’s lost his toad. In the future, he will forget his password (and everything else that isn’t tied down), botch Potions, be nearly incapable of producing any magic, and just generally embarrass the proud Gryffindor heritage. But Neville has a secret, and that secret is most likely the key to his magic problems.
I have to confess, I thought Neville was just comic relief when I first got to know him. But of all the kids, his transformation is possibly the most beautiful. This boy is a true and worthy Gryffindor. But right now? It’s all hidden. You would never know.
And that’s pretty much the way with Team Gryff. Like the gutty little Bruins, these kids don’t look like much. But you underestimate them at your own peril!
Team Gryff vs. Team Snake
In the first matchup, by the way, Team Gryff wins on a Deus ex Machina. Ron’s pet rat bites Goyle on the knuckle when he and Crabbe try to use their intimidating size to dig in to Harry’s and Ron’s Chocolate Frogs. Whatever possessed the (former Gryffindor, current Death Eater in hiding) rat to bite, I guess we’ll never know. But I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Speaking of which… I’ve seen the site stats. I know you’re out there. But man, are you quiet!
There are lots of Slytherin fans in Potter fandom, and lots of fans of Gryffindor. How do you feel about the Gryffindor / Slytherin rivalry? Which side are you on and why? What do you think of this first encounter… before the kids even sort into their respective Houses?
Would love to hear your perspectives!