Still Waiting for Pottermore? – Here’s More DH2

I’ve got about 40 minutes until my potion finishes brewing, so… okay, where were we before I got sucked into Pottermore? As I recall, we were discussing DH2. And I still had a few things left to say.

For me, the movie “worked” all the way up until the final battle with Voldemort. Thankfully, it had worked in a big way to that point from the moody opening, with Snape on the balcony and Harry at Shell Cottage, through the tense conversation with Aberforth, through the the look of heartbreak on Snape’s face when he realizes he must duel McGonnagall (not to mention his quick-thinking in taking out the Carrows and leaving Hogwarts to McGonnagall), all the way through the Battle of Hogwarts, the Pensieve memories, and King’s Cross.

I cried when Hermione blasted Fenrir off the dead body of Lavender Brown, her former rival for Ron’s affections. I cried when Aberforth announced his return to the fight by casting a powerful Patronus. I wept, like everyone else, over the fallen heroes in the Great Hall… and then over Snape’s memories in the Pensieve and Harry’s walk into the Forest.

The first three times I saw the film, though, I did not cry over Snape’s death. I just sat there with my mouth hanging wide open, hyperventilating. Curiously, a few friends who do not like Snape did find themselves crying… and then hated themselves afterward. LOL.

On the fourth viewing, I finally did cry. I think maybe it was because the theater was nearly empty. Snape is the character who resonates most with me, and so his death is the one that is most personal to me. I think I probably just needed some time alone in order to really let loose. And when I finally did, I cried so hard that my eyes were burning with the salt of my tears!

But enough of Snape for now, what I really want to talk about is the big VoldyBattle.

I suppose that any moviegoer would prefer a running-around-the-castle-Wizard Battle over a Harry talk-a-thon. BUT the problem with the sequence for me is that it creates the misperception that Harry could actually match Voldemort in power and skill. I mean… Srsly?

In the book, Harry wins because he understands the situation (the Elder Wand belongs to him) and because he sacrificed his life in the Forest to kill the scarcrux… not because he’s more powerful or more skilled than his antagonist. As a consequence of Harry’s sacrifice, Voldemort really can be killed. All it takes is for Harry to cast a disarming charm at the same moment that Voldemort casts a killing curse. The Elder Wand will do the rest.

Now, none of this is to downplay the significance of what Harry has done. In going into the Forest, he becomes a truly great man, a sacrificial figure, a young man willing to lay down his life in order that the Wizarding World might live. That, imo, is of far more significance than wizarding power or skill.

But the film plays up power and skill – matters in which Harry cannot begin to match Voldemort – and downplays the sacrificial significance of Harry’s walk into the Forest. Though I understand some of these choices from a cinematic standpoint, this is one matter in which I think the film does the book a disservice.

The point is not that Harry wins because he has power. The point is that he wins because he has love.

Well, my potion has finished brewing, and I was supposed to get House points, but the system logged me out, and I didn’t get the points.

(Funny how I never fail to lose points when I melt a cauldron but never seem to gain points when I successfully complete a potion. Argggggg. There’s Beta for you!)

Anyway, I’ve finally said everything I have to say about DH2. So next stop for those waiting is to start in on the Random Re-read. First chapter up is the first chapter in PoA: “Owl Post.” Should be fun!

Waiting for Pottermore DH2: The Taunting

A fifth batch of emails has been sent out, and there’s still not one for me.

So with that in mind, Expecto Patronum! continues the “Waiting for Pottermore” series…

Note: While we continue the never-ending wait for the Pottermore email, we carry on bravely with our discussion of the DH2 movie…

“Severus Snape wasn’t yours,” said Harry. “Snape was Dumbledore’s. Dumbledore’s from the moment you started hunting down my mother.”

I, and a lot of people, waited for that line in the movie…
and it never came.

After thinking about it, though, I have a theory about why the filmmakers cut it.

It was redundant.

In the book, Harry needs to say it out loud (or think it internally) so that the reading audience gets the point of what he sees in the Pensieve. Yet even with several pages of Harry circling around Voldemort, proclaiming that Dumbledore planned his death with Snape, there remains a tiny contingent of readers who still insist that Snape was truly working for Voldemort and that Harry was merely taunting Voldemort with Snape’s loyalties. He didn’t really mean it. *shrug*

In the movie, though, it’s kind of impossible to miss, or explain away, Snape’s true loyalties. Film is a visual medium, and here is what the viewers (and Harry) get to see…

"You have your mother's eyes"


"... and you're special"


"He doesn't need protecting..."


"So... the boy must die?"


Sure, Severus cradling Lily’s body at Godric’s Hollow is extra-canonical. And sure, Severus never actually says “You have your mother’s eyes.” But movie-only viewers don’t have the advantage of reading the text… over and over and over again… and thinking about its implications. They need to have things spelled out visually. And this approach to the backstory does have JKR’s highest blessing:

“They do it perfectly in the film, that was a place I was very glad they were faithful to the book. Snape’s journey is important, it’s such a lynchpin of the books, the plot can’t function without Snape.” ~ J. K. Rowling

After witnessing the series of images from Snape’s demise through the Pensieve memories, the viewing audience has no question that Severus loved Lily from the time he was a child or that he had been working for Dumbledore – and against Voldemort – ever since the Dark Lord started hunting her down. Viewers don’t need Harry to tell them that. And so, in the movie, he doesn’t.

I’m disappointed, of course, to find one of my favorite moments missing. But I’m appeased by the recognition that it was not necessary to show it. How about you?

Let us know in the comments.

Waiting for Pottermore DH2: choices, choices, choices

Note: While we wait for the Pottermore email, we continue our discussion of the DH2 movie…

But first… you need to know about the most deeply horrible, astonishingly EVOL poll in the history of humankind:

It’s the Anglophenia Fan Favorites poll, in which we are given the choice of voting between Alan Rickman and Benedict Cumberbatch or between Colin Firth and David Tennant.

In fandom terms, that translates:

Professor Snape (or Colonel Brandon/Alexander Dane/Hans Gruber/ Sheriff of Nottingham) VS. Sherlock Holmes.

and…

Mr. Darcy VS. Barty Crouch, Jr. / The Tenth Doctor

Yikes! Those are choices that really hurt – probably at least as much as the choices the filmmakers had to face in translating the second half of Deathly Hallows to the screen.

Choices that hurt

Let’s say you’re doing a book that fans are passionate about. There are moments that fans have been dying to see…

Fred’s death, for example. Or Snape’s loss of Lily’s friendship. Or Dumbledore’s backstory. Or Snape saving Lupin’s life and telling the portrait not to say “Mudblood.” Or Harry taunting Voldemort with Snape’s true loyalties and giving Riddle one last chance at remorse.

But you’ve got this other audience to account for… the audience that never reads the books and only sees the movies and that could care less about the intricacies of wandlore.

How do you make a movie that gives the book-fans enough of what they want to see and is still comprehensible for the movie-only fans? That’s the dilemma that the filmmakers were faced with. And they left every single one of those “dying-to see” moments out… yet managed to leave most fans feeling satisfied.

Let’s talk about a few of those choices…

The Mudblood Incident

One of the key complaints I’ve heard from one small corner of the fandom is that the film’s portrayal of “The Prince’s Tale” makes Severus Snape look like an innocent victim by failing to present the “Mudblood” incident or its aftermath.

Okay, I personally wanted to see this material on the big screen, but after giving it some thought, I realized that it presents a devil’s snare of potential difficulties. Here is what I wrote about it on the CoS forum:

I would have liked to see them include the “Mudblood” incident too, but in thinking it over, I realized that its inclusion is fraught with all sorts of potential difficulties for other characters – difficulties that I doubt the filmmakers wanted to unleash, particularly given the raw emotional power of Rickman’s overall performance.

As soon as Rickman’s Snape starts showing the depth of his pain, he’s got the audience in the palm of his hand. If the pain had started sooner, beneath the portrait of the Fat Lady [when Lily cut off their friendship], it could have swayed movie-only audience opinion in directions that the filmmakers would not have wanted – like against Lily, for instance. That wouldn’t be fair, since he used the word [Mudblood] on her, but film is an essentially emotional medium, and film audiences love redemption stories – especially when a character is in love. Film audiences generally want to see all but the most monstrous characters given a second chance after they’ve blown it in a big way.

In that context, the filmmakers probably made the right decision to cut the incident. They could not really tell which character(s) would get hurt the most by showing it, and filmmakers like to know exactly what audience impact will be.

There are additional problems with its inclusion as well. David Yates used a portion of SWM (“Snape’s Worst Memory”) in the OotP movie, but he did not incorporate the “Mudblood” incident. Adding it for DH2 would require re-shooting the earlier scene or working some digital magic to insert Lily into it. And that, of course, would mean casting a third actress to play Lily’s part – and getting Alec Hopkin (Teen Snape) back to utter the unforgivable word. (ETA NOTE: The additional material with a third Lily that was originally shot for OotP and then cut would not help since Harry is in the frame – in completely the wrong clothes and without all of the battle grime and gore that we see in TPT).

In addition, I think that the complaint that the exclusion of the Mudblood incident makes Snape look like an innocent victim is a product of very short-sighted thinking. What is most visually striking about the incident (and film is a visual medium) is watching James Potter and the Marauders launch an unprovoked attack on Severus Snape. In all likelihood, including the incident in the film would make Snape look even more like a victim.

Little James is puckishly cute as he runs through the halls tipping over his “victims'” school books.

This James, though, is hardly “cute” as he attempts to remove “Snivelly’s trousers”:

I would humbly submit that the filmmakers just didn’t want to go there with James, particularly given that they will later need to present him sympathetically in the Forest… and there’s really very little story to get the movie-only crowd to buy in to that sympathetic portrayal once the filmmakers re-unleash SWM. It’s hard enough already for many book readers to make the leap of faith into believing that James simply changed, and book readers have information that the movie-onlies don’t possess.

The choice the filmmakers made, then, was to make nobody look very much like the victim, and nobody look very much like the perpetrator. For purposes of the film, it was probably a wise choice.

Weasley Loss and Gain

Some book fans are angry at not seeing Fred die. And one big question many fans have asked is, “How the heck did Percy get there?”

That’s a good question! But there are actually other people whose return is a bit confusing – for instance Cho Chang (what’s she doing there in the Room of Requirement when she graduated the year before?) and Luna Lovegood (how’d she get there ahead of Harry, when she’d last been seen at Shell Cottage?). In the case of the Ravenclaw girls, my assumption is that they are there mainly to answer Harry’s question about the lost diadem. And yes, they are supposed to be there, even if the film never quite lets us know how they arrived.

Percy, though, has one of the book’s more dramatic entrances into the Room of Requirement, and we never see that drama in the film. I do think, though, that the filmmakers’ decision (while perhaps making Percy’s sudden appearance confusing for book fans ) actually makes matters less confusing for the general movie audience. Percy’s estrangement from his family has never become an overt plot point in the films. We do see Percy doing Ministry duties at cross-purposes to Harry and Dumbledore, but that’s about as far as that subplot goes. And let’s face it, without the subplot, many movie-only fans probably don’t really remember who Percy is anyway.

So, that nixes Percy’s big entrance because the big entrance would simply not make sense. And sorry, but if we nix Percy’s big entrance, we also nix witnessing Fred’s death. Yeah, we could still see Fred die, but we wouldn’t see it in the context of his welcoming Percy back into the family and later Percy throwing himself on Fred’s dead body.

If we remove Fred’s death from the context of Percy’s return, we may as well see Fred lying already dead in the Great Hall. And that is the choice the filmmakers made. Rather than go for overkill by showing Fred die on the screen and then show his family mourn, the filmmakers went the more subtle route of showing him already dead, surrounded by his family.

Whether we actually see Fred die or not, this scene still has tremendous emotional impact. I have not gotten past it once without breaking into sobs.

Dumbledore’s Backstory

King’s Cross is a big disappointment to many people. The wandlore, the backstory, Dumbledore’s remorse – all of it is missing.

Most of the essentials, though, were presented in DH1. And when the filmmakers decided (ACK!!!) to negate Grindelwald’s big moment of defiance and remorse, they couldn’t exactly go deeply into the Grindelwald plot in King’s Cross. In fact, I predicted in November that this would happen.

At least Ciaran Hinds’ fabulous performance – bringing to life Aberforth’s hundred years of bitterness – implicitly verifies the depth to which Albus Dumbledore had sunk in his youth. If we want to know more detail about the manner in which Albus’ choices sacrificed his sister’s life, we can always consult the books – or at least the nearest Potter fan. :)

Honestly, though, I did miss the King’s Cross wandlore. I suppose I experienced a bit of it vicariously through the interaction between Harry and Ollivander at Shell Cottage. But after all we’ve seen of the wand, would it truly have been too much information for the general movie audience if Harry had briefly discussed the Elder Wand with Dumbledore?

Well, at nearly 1500 words, this post has now gone on too long (thanks for making it this far with me!). So  I think I’ll devote my next DH2 post entirely to the element I missed the most… and why I think it made sense for the filmmakers to cut it.

Until then…

Pottermore: Clue #7 Is Up!

UPDATE 5: Registration has closed…

Now the waiting for our Welcome Letters begins. :)

UPDATE 4: Clue 7 is still up! There is still time!

UPDATE 3: Screenshot of the Magic Quill

Remember, the Quill will not glow if you do not hover over it. Here’s what the screen should look like:

The banner ad is at the top (above Parseltongue Translator).

The Quill that will glow is the light brown/white striped Quill.

UPDATE 2: Help with the Magic Quill

The Magic Quill will not appear before the Warner Bros. promo finishes playing. When it does finish playing, you will see a banner ad.

The Magic Quill will not glow automatically. You will need to hover your mouse over the Quills to make the Magic Quill glow. Click on the Quill that turns into a sort of blue glowing Quill.

UPDATE: What to do with the Magic Quill

You will be redirected to the Warner Bros. website, where you will watch a promo for the Deathly Hallows 2 movie. Once the promo has finished playing, you will see a small banner ad at the top of your screen. It asks you to find the Magic Quill.

You will need to hover your mouse over the Quills. One of them will change to a blow glowing Quill when you hover over it. Click on that Quill, and it will redirect you to the Congratulations notice, from where you can get to Registration.

If you do not see the promo or the small banner ad, try turning off ad blockers.

Day 7 clue:

Can you find The Magical Quill?

How many Deathly Hallows are there?
Multiply this number by 7.

Here’s what you need to do once you’ve figured out the clue and multiplied by 7:

Put http://quill.pottermore.com/

in your address bar, put the number you’ve derived from multiplying the clue times 7 after the slash, and hit enter.

NOTE: This is NOT the Pottermore address. This is the Quill address. Copy and paste the Quill address given above into your browser address bar but DO NOT HIT ENTER BEFORE adding the solution after the slash at the end. Otherwise, you will end up on the Pottermore website.

DO NOT add www. to the beginning of the Quill address. Otherwise, you will (sadly) land nowhere.

DO HIT ENTER after you have put the solution at the end of the correct Quill address (after the slash).

Once you hit enter, with the correct solution at the end of the Quill address, you will be taken to the Magic Quill.

The Magic Quill will be on a 3rd party website. Do not panic when you see that you have been redirected.

I will go try the challenge myself right now (but not register), so that I can give you more information on what to do with the Magic Quill.

If you run into technical difficulties, TRY AGAIN!

Don’t have a book handy?

Here’s a good breakdown of Deathly Hallows.

If you are still unsure of the answer, you might try the last page of Chamber of Secrets forum’s Pottermore thread. Or, as the Last Muggle suggests, you can use hp_batsignal on Twitter.

Oh, and of course, there’s always the Comments thread below. Some people may just be kind enough to post the answer for you there. :)

Feel free to use the Comments thread to let us know how it is going so that we can help you troubleshoot if you run into difficulties. Comments by people new to the blog may be delayed a little bit, but I’ll work hard to release comments quickly from limbo. :)

GOOD LUCK!

Pottermore: Day 7 Hints (or… Hints for the Final Clue)

If you don’t want to read through the Day 6 debrief or the time conversions, you can easily scroll down the page for speculation on the final clue. :)

Well, Day 6 was pretty easy.

Even though the clue was not what we predicted, it was still pretty straightforward. And it was posted early enough in the time window that we didn’t have to do a lot of refreshing.

Registration lasted about 2 hours. The Orlando Universal website seemed well prepared to handle the demand, and I didn’t hear many rumblings about significant technical difficulties.

A few people on a fan site spoke of getting the “overwhelming demand” message, but I didn’t get that today. I found it pretty easy to get through, wait for the Magic Quill to settle down into the lower left corner of the Harry Potter World promo, and then click on it.

Demand actually may be growing less. There were fewer page views and comments here than there have been during the past couple of days… as there were fewer page views and comments on the Chamber of Secrets Pottermore thread. But we’ll see in about 7 hours if there’s going to be a big final push.

So now… On to Day 7!

Day 7 Time Window

In the UK, the final clue will arrive early Saturday morning. In the Western Hemisphere, it will arrive on Friday night… i.e., on the same day that we got Clue 6.

Here (once again) is the notice from Pottermore Insider:

UPDATED: So far, all the clues have appeared in the early hours of the morning in my time zone. Will this continue for the remainder of The Magical Quill challenge?

We know that Harry Potter fans around the world are taking part in the challenge, so we will be varying the times that the clues are revealed. We can tell you that tomorrow’s clue (Day 6) will be released between 1:30pm and 4.00pm BST, and the final clue (Day 7) will be released between 12:30am and 3:00am BST on Saturday 6 August.

For your convenience, here is the current time BST.

Day 7: Here is a short time conversion for those in the US:

7:30-10:00pm (US Eastern)
6:30-9:00pm (US Central)
5:30-8:00pm (US Mountain)
4:30-7:00pm (US Pacific)

Some Possible Day 7 Clues

I think most people were expecting a question about horcruxes for the 6th book. Pottermore threw a bit of a curve by asking about number of chapters. (Maybe horcruxes was too tricky… a possibility we discussed in the Day 6 Hints comments thread).

The next book is Deathly Hallows (DH). And here are the most obvious numbers I can think of:

  • How many Hallows comprise the “Deathly Hallows”?
  • How many students lead Dumbledore’s Army in Harry’s absence?
  • How many prisoners do Harry and Ron find held in the Malfoy Manor Cellar?
  • In what chapter do we learn the truth about Severus Snape?
  • How many years after the Battle of Hogwarts (or the death of Voldemort) does the Epilogue take place?
  • Possibly too tricky: How many horcuxes do Harry and the Trio set out to find?
  • Probably too difficult: How many people are in the party that arrive to escort Harry from Privet Drive to the Burrow?

Based on today’s clue (and the fact that the Grimmauld Place clue could also be solved just by looking in the ToC), I think we may well get another Table of Contents question… and I think it would be kind of nice if it’s the Snape question I mentioned above, since his backstory is one of the biggest reveals in the series.

But if they’re doing Table of Contents, the question could just as easily focus on one of the big Dumbledore backstory chapters – such as “The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore” or “King’s Cross.” Or we could get the chapter in which Ron destroys the Locket horcrux (“The Silver Doe” – which also happens to be the chapter in which Harry follows Snape’s Patronus). Actually, Pottermore could pick any one of many memorable chapters.

I think there’s a good chance, though, that our number will be the number of years to the Epilogue. The Epilogue is the final resolution. Plus, the number of Hallows just might be too easy (though that didn’t seem to stop Pottermore from asking the TriWizard question!).

If anyone else has additional suggestions for numbers to focus on, please share them in the Comments thread.

Based on the already-established pattern (7 books * number of days/chances remaining), once you have the solution to the clue, the number you will multiply by is 7… except, of course, in the extremely unlikely chance that Pottermore breaks the pattern!

For those who are still working at getting early access into Pottermore: Good luck on the Final Clue!

I do intend to live blog the Final Clue, so I’ll see you then.

Note about the Comments thread: If you’re new to the blog and have never commented before, there may be a small delay in getting your comment posted.

The Remorse of Gellert Grindelwald

The 3-Way Duel between Albus Dumbledore, Aberforth Dumbledore, and Gellert Grindelwald that left Ariana dead
Credit: the fatal duel by *LoonyL

Well, I didn’t have nearly as dramatic a DH1 experience as Last Muggle did. No exploding cameras, no evacuated theaters, nothing! Actually, it was pretty uneventful.

We got into the theater with plenty of time to spare. We found great seats. And we saw pretty much the entire movie. Okay, I missed a couple of minutes during the camping sequence, right after the splinching scene, but thanks to the complete and utter normalcy of my viewing experience, I’ve had a couple of days to contemplate the film at my leisure.

I’ve been planning to look at several scenes in some detail, but I decided to devote this particular post to the one that really really bothered me in this otherwise EPIC WIN film… the scene in which Voldemort seeks information about the Elder Wand from Gellert Grindelwald.

As anybody who has read the series knows (and if you haven’t read the series, be warned that there are spoilers ahead): Gellert Grindelwald is the former “Most Dangerous Dark Wizard of All Time.” He was defeated by Albus Dumbledore in 1945 (as Harry learns from a Chocolate Frog card on his first trip on the Hogwarts Express).

Of course, the Dumbledore-Grindelwald story becomes much more complex when we reach DH. These two great Wizards were not merely adversaries. In youth, they were close friends (for a couple of months) before a three-way duel with Aberforth killed Dumbledore’s sister.

Dumbledore, we learn extra-canonically from JKR, was actually infatuated with Grindelwald during that time and was briefly seduced toward Dark Magic through that infatuation. The two young men sought the Deathly Hallows (the subject of The Tale of the Three Brothers), with Gellert having a particular fascination for the Elder Wand… which he stole from the wand maker Gregorovitch and which Dumbledore won from him in the legendary duel of 1945.

Because of the Grindelwald revelations in DH, Harry is put in the position of having to come to terms with Dumbledore’s past. He must recognize, as Sirius told him 3 years earlier, that the world is not divided up into “good people and Death Eaters.” Good people can have dark pasts. And apparently, even people who have committed dark horrors can find even a moment of light.

In the book, Voldemort visits Gellert Grindelwald (now an old, skeletal man) at Nurmengard prison:

Grindelwald: So you have come. I thought you would… one day. But your journey was pointless. I never had it.

Voldemort: You lie.


“Kill me, then!” demanded the old man. “You will not win, you cannot win! That wand will never, ever be yours – ”

And Voldemort’s fury broke: A burst of green light filled the prison room and the frail old body was lifted from its hard bed and then fell back lifeless, and Voldemort returned to the window, his wrath barely controllable.

So Book!Grindelwald taunts Voldemort, rather than betray Dumbledore and the Wand. Or as Harry tells his deceased former mentor:

“Grindelwald tried to stop Voldemort going after the wand. He lied, you know, pretended he had never had it.”

Dumbledore nodded, looking down at his lap, tears still glittering on the crooked nose.

“They say he showed remorse in later years, alone in his cell at Nurmengard. I hope that it is true. I would like to think he did feel the horror and shame of what he had done. Perhaps that lie to Voldemort was his attempt to make amends… to prevent Voldemort from taking the Hallow…”

“… or maybe from breaking into your tomb?” suggested Harry, and Dumbledore dabbed at his eyes.

You know, I was looking forward to watching the one decent, courageous moment in Grindelwald’s life be realized on the screen.

So what did the filmmakers do? They had Grindelwald give up Dumbledore as owner of the Elder Wand, and even reveal the Wand’s location in Dumbledore’s tomb. And then they had Psycho Killer Voldemort leave him in peace!

Logistically, yes, we do need to know why Voldemort goes to Dumbledore’s tomb. We do need to know why he finds the Wand there. But having Grindelwald reveal Dumbledore’s ownership of the Wand is not the only way to accomplish that. In fact, here’s a scenario that would accomplish the same thing without violating Grindelwald’s character arc:

Grindelwald: Kill me, then! You will not win, you cannot win! That wand will never, ever be yours.

Voldemort: Dumbledore! He took the Wand, didn’t he, when he locked you up in here! You’re protecting him!… Avada Kedavra!

Why is this so important when the Dumbledore backstory is largely missing from the movie? Well, for starters, Dumbledore’s backstory probably won’t be missing from DH2, where we can learn more from his brother Aberforth and the King’s Cross sequence.

But even more significantly, Grindelwald’s refusal to help Voldemort plays into the entire redemption theme of the series… and into the whole question of remorse.

The “R” word is huge in DH. Dumbledore experienced remorse after the death of his sister. Snape experienced remorse after the death of Lily. And seemingly, even Grindelwald – a man who went much further down the dark path than either of these two men – was sufficiently remorseful to protect Dumbledore and the Wand.

Obviously, what Harry learns about Dumbledore and Snape is most significant to his understanding of the transformative power of remorse. Yet he also learns along the way that even Grindelwald – the former “Most Dangerous Dark Wizard of All Time” – was able to turn back at least just a little… and in the face of death. Gellert Grindelwald, in his last moments, performed one small act that showed his remorse.

I personally would not underestimate the significance of Grindelwald’s act for the DH plot. Given that Harry had discussed it with Dumbledore only an hour or so earlier, it is highly likely that the remorse Harry saw in the old man served as one inspiration for the moment of mercy he offered to Voldemort – giving the Dark Lord himself one last chance at remorse.

By having Grindelwald show the opposite of remorse, though, the filmmakers violate the character’s story arc in a rather profound way and undermine a key theme of the series.

So tell me… if it was so easy for me to figure out how to get Voldemort to Dumbledore’s tomb without violating Grindelwald’s character, why was it seemingly so hard for David Yates and Steve Kloves?

Battle of Hogwarts Anniversary

On May 2, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts was fought. Today we’d like to honor all the brave men, women and magical creatures who fought Lord Voldemort for the future of the Wizarding World, especially:

  • Harry Potter – who personally faced Lord Voldemort twice that night… and prevailed
  • Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger – who stood beside Harry throughout his Quest and provided much-needed support during the Battle
  • Luna Lovegood – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and helping Harry into Ravenclaw Tower
  • Neville Longbottom – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and slaying Nagini
  • Ginny Weasley – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and giving Harry inspiration
  • Severus Snape – for giving Harry the memories in his dying moments that helped Harry defeat Lord Voldemort
  • Aberforth Dumbledore – for helping Harry, the Order, the DA, and many others get in to Hogwarts from the Hog’s Head and for then fighting in the Battle alongside many other citizens of Hogsmeade
  • The Members of the DA, the Order, the Gryffindor alumni, and the citizens of Hogsmeade – for standing up to fight
  • The Magical Creatures who fought – particularly Kreacher and the House Elves, the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest, and Grawp
  • Minerva McGonnagall, Horace Slughorn, Filius Flitwick – for leadership during the Battle and for fighting Voldemort
  • Molly Weasley – for destroying Bellatrix Lestrange
  • Hagrid – for being true of heart
  • Peeves and Trelawney – for their unique contributions

And now, we’d like to honor the fallen heroes:

Severus Snape


Credit: DH: Look at Me by FrizzyHermione

Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks


Credit: SPOILERS_Lupin + Tonks Ending? by ~endoftheline

Fred Weasley

Weasleys mourn Fred's death
Credit: Fredless by ~balmasque

Plus Colin Creevey and the 50 or more unnamed dead.

Thank you!


And not to kill the somber mood, but here’s a Battle of Hogwarts tie-in that I wrote for my entry in the Second Task in the Quest for the Hallows contest. It made it to the Final Round: Fifth Place Overall and Fourth Place in the Best HP-Related Story category.

Last Muggle Is Finishing Potter Series Tonight!

If you want to read a great blogger who’s doing a first-read of Harry Potter, Jess (The Last Muggle) is finally finishing the Harry Potter series tonight!

She just found out that her predictions about Snape were true. And she likes Dumbledore less than ever. Now she is on to Harry’s walk into the Forest to meet Voldemort.

She’s updating her blog in real time. Join in the fun! This is the night many of us have been waiting for!

Snowmageddon, Severus, and the “Betrayal” of Snape

Well, I’m back. We did have to put Rusty down yesterday. To celebrate his life, we will be looking for a pair of (boy and girl) kittens to name Severus and Minerva. Don’t worry, though. They won’t be treacly Umbridge kittens!

I’m still not quite up for a bit of “Flight of the Dursley’s” slapstick, but I am starting to recover enough from the Rusty trauma to write about Severus Snape.

Did Severus Snape Betray the Order of the Phoenix?

If you have read this blog before, I’m sure you already know my answer to this question. However, I have recently encountered an argument insisting that since Snape was not reporting to any living member of the Order, the information he passed to Voldemort in “Dark Lord Ascending” was an act of betrayal. Never mind that he was taking orders from Dumbledore’s portrait. To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement.

Here is the Snape-Betrayal argument, along with my response.

Snape-Betrayal Point 1:

Neither Snape nor Dumbledore’s Portrait is working with or for the Order. Therefore giving information to Voldemort without informing living members of the Order is an act of betrayal.

My response:

  • Headmasters’ portraits have the imprint of the deceased Headmaster’s thoughts and memories.
  • The purpose of the portraits is to provide counsel to future Headmasters, from the “voice” of the deceased Headmaster. They occasionally provide counsel to others.
  • Harry regards Dumbledore’s portrait as having the same authority of wisdom as Dumbledore himself, as we see in Harry’s visits to the Headmaster’s office at the end of DH.
  • Dumbledore founded the Order of the Phoenix, and the Order would not have existed in either war without Dumbledore’s initiative.
  • Snape’s job was to serve as a spy, and Dumbledore was a brilliant Spymaster and wartime Strategist.
  • Both Snape and Dumbledore were accomplished in the arts of Occlumency and Legilimency.
  • There is no evidence in the text indicating that anybody else in the Order is an accomplished Occlumens, Legilimens, Spymaster, or Strategist. Failure in any of these areas would almost certainly have proven catastrophic for the anti-Voldemort forces.
  • Given that the portrait is the imprint of the Headmaster’s thoughts and memories, it is clear that Dumbledore planned before his death to continue to serve as Spymaster for Severus Snape on behalf of the Order of the Phoenix.

Essentially, Dumbledore founded the Order, he clearly planned to continue his work for the Order after death, and it is crucial that he keep his plans secret from the other members of the Order unless there is some other unknown member of the Order who is an accomplished enough Occlumens to withstand a session of Legilimency with Voldemort. (Since there is zero evidence that such an Order member exists, my assumption is that there is no such member).

In other words, Snape is working for the Order in a top secret role. While this would not be possible in the Muggle world, Headmasters’ portraits make it possible in the Wizarding World.

Additionally, if we assume that Severus Snape was wrong to follow orders from a portrait with regard to the Battle over Little Whinging, then we should also assume that he was wrong to get the Sword of Gryffindor to Harry in the Forest of Dean – on the word of two Headmasters’ portraits. And yet, if he had failed to get the sword to Harry at that time, what would the outcome have been with the locket Horcrux? It was already destroying the trio. It is quite likely that Voldemort would have triumphed in the end without Harry receiving the sword at that specific time.

Snape-Betrayal Point 2:

Since Dumbledore is dead, Snape is not working for the Order. He’s only working for (dead) Dumbledore and is not really a double agent.

My Response:

See above. Also, this is clearly not how Harry sees it once he has seen the memories. The portrait is conveying the overall game plan Dumbledore hatched before his death, while he was leader of the Order. Harry regards Snape in retrospect as working for the Order, not independently of it and not against it.

Snape-Betrayal Point 3:

The only purpose for Snape giving the information to Voldemort was to get himself in good with Voldemort, not to protect the Order or Harry.

My Response:

Actually, that’s exactly what spies do in order to protect those they are protecting. It is a pretend betrayal and the entire purpose is to protect Harry and help defeat Voldemort, over the longterm.

Actually, this entire scenario is parallel to the work of a British double agent during WWII with regard to D-Day. He was told to give the Germans real information that they in turn would not be able to use effectively, in order to establish the credentials of the double agent with the Germans – just as the 7 Potters tactic that Snape passes on to the Order similarly prevents Voldemort from using Snape’s real information effectively but helps establish Snape’s bona fides as a Death Eater.

Snape-Betrayal Point 4:

Dumbledore and Snape had a different agenda than the Order, and it involved callously using the lives of Order members as canon fodder. Dumbledore and Snape should have communicated their plans to the Order and coordinated with the Order.

My Response:

Well canon fodder, sorry, is part of war. This is what war commanders do, and Dumbledore clearly hatched his general game plan while he was indisputably war commander for the anti-Voldemort side. Unfortunately, every member of the Order is expendable if it means the success of the war effort – even Dumbledore and Snape.

And why should Dumbledore and Snape have set up any plans to communicate and coordinate with members of the Order? Spy work is always kept secret. Snape’s mission was too sensitive to reveal to other members of the Order – short of the Order possessing another accomplished Occlumens, Spymaster and Strategist. It was strategically crucial that he appear to be Voldemort’s man. It was strategically crucial that nobody know this because otherwise the secret could have been betrayed, even unwillingly, by somebody who could not stand up to Voldemort’s Legilimency – basically, I think, any other member of the Order.

Snape’s action, in my opinion, is no betrayal. It is crucial for defeating Voldemort in the long strategy.

Okay, short of some new catastrophe beyond the Snowpocalypse, I will finally be back this week with “The Flight of the Dursleys.”

‘I Won’t Blow Up the House!’

On Dudley Dursley’s birthday, the unthinkable happens. Arabella Figg – the crazy old cat lady Harry gets dumped on every time Dudley has a birthday – breaks her leg, and the Dursleys have to figure out what to do with Harry. When the boy suggests just letting him stay home, Uncle Vernon protests that he does not want to come back to find the house in “ruins.”

“I won’t blow up the house,” replies Harry.

The Ruined House

Sounds like the typical parent/guardian exchange with t(w)eens, doesn’t it? But this is actually that rare, almost non-existent, occasion when there appears to be some factual basis for Dursley fears. Dumbledore apparently told the Dursleys in his letter dated 10 years earlier about the condition of the Potters’ home after Voldemort came calling.

As Hagrid told Dumbledore at that time, the “house was almost destroyed,” and (as he later tells Harry) he took the boy from the “ruined house” himself. Aunt Petunia certainly knows that her sister “went and got herself blown up.” So it is with some bit of authentic, fact-based fear, perhaps, that Uncle Vernon mentions “ruins” when he thinks of Harry being left alone in the house while the family celebrates Dudley’s birthday at the zoo.

All Harry remembers of the You-Know-Who incident, though, is contained in a recurring dream about a flying motorcycle and the memory of a flash of green light from the “car crash”:

Sometimes, when he strained his memory during long hours in his cupboard, he came up with a strange vision: a blinding flash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead. This, he supposed, was the car crash, though he couldn’t imagine where all the green light came from.

(Well, Harry, that would actually be an Avada Kedavra curse, Voldemort’s signature spell. But you aren’t going to learn anything about the Unforgivables for four more years!)

Wandless Magic

Though the Dursleys may well have images of real ruins in mind when they talk about not wanting to leave Harry alone in the house, they seem more afraid of the random “strange things” that happen around the boy. Wizarding children have magical abilities, with or without a wand. The wand helps them learn to control and channel their magic, but being gifted with magic is not dependent on the wand.

Under various forms of stress, Harry has already caused his hair to grow back overnight from a bad haircut, caused a hated sweater to shrink while Aunt Petunia tried to force it on him, and even found himself on the roof of the school kitchens while attempting to escape from Dudley’s gang.

(Wandless magic plays a role throughout the series, but nowhere more strongly than in DH, where we learn of the wandless magic performed by young Lily Evans (Harry’s mother), her childhood friend Severus Snape, and Dumbledore’s own sister, Ariana. Ariana Dumbledore provides the tragic example of a Wizarding child who pays the price for being unable to control her magic.)

The Parselmouth

Then, there’s the event in the reptile house, from which this chapter takes its title. The Dursleys do end up taking Harry to the zoo (better than having him blow up the house, I suppose!), and after Dudley unsuccessfully tries to force his Muggle father to get a sleeping Boa Constrictor to “do something,” the snake initiates an interaction with Harry. First it winks, then it nods, then it gestures with its tail. In the course of this interaction, Harry starts talking to the snake. And the snake understands him.

On first reading, this seems like just another example of Harry’s wandless magic. And this possibility is underscored by the fact that when Dudley punches Harry, something more typically magical happens – the glass to the cage disappears, and the snake escapes. But as the snake leaves, it speaks to Harry in a “low, hissing voice” – and just as the snake understood Harry, Harry understands the snake.

Harry is a Parselmouth – a natural speaker of Parseltongue, the language of snakes. This is no ordinary magical power, and it is not typical of children’s wandless magic. In HBP, when Dumbledore teaches Voldemort’s history to Harry, he shows one memory in which an 11-year-old Tom Riddle (later Voldemort) reveals to the adult Dumbledore:

I can speak to snakes…. they find me, they whisper to me.

Dumbledore does not let on, but he is clearly taken aback by this revelation. Parseltongue is a language associated with Salazar Slytherin, founder of Slytherin House at Hogwarts, the House that values pure Wizard blood. Additionally, when Harry reveals his Parseltongue capabilities during the Duelling Club segment of CoS, his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger tell Harry that this is a bad thing – that Parseltongue is generally associated with Dark Magic, and that You-Know-Who himself is a Parselmouth.

And speaking of You-Know-Who… notice that just as the Boa in the reptile house initiates contact with Harry, so young Riddle tells Dumbledore that the snakes “find” him. Apparently, snakes can innately tell if a Wizard is a Parselmouth… and seek such Wizards out.

The Parselmouth motif becomes increasingly important throughout the series, as Dumbledore pieces together the connections between Harry and the wicked Wizard who tried to kill him. But at this point in the story, the snake incident looks like just a throw-away magic event, another neat magical thing Harry can do. Which makes “The Vanishing Glass” a wonderful early instance of Rowling’s talent for misdirection.

Reactions and Comments?
Let’s get this party started!

  • How justified do you think the Dursleys’ fears of Harry are?
  • What was your reaction the first time you read of Harry’s unconscious, wandless magical abilities? What is your reaction now?
  • On first reading, how did you feel about Harry’s ability to talk to snakes? Has your feeling changes since then?
  • Is there anything else you feel like commenting on?

Next time, from Chapter 3:

‘The Flight of the Dursleys’ … in which we discuss the strange letter(s) addressed to Harry… and the Dursleys’ even stranger behavior surrounding them.