Pottermore, PoA Chapter 9 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…

CHAPTER 9: GRIM DEFEAT

Scene 1 (“Gryffindor Versus Hufflepuff”)

  • Zoom 1:
    • Dementor voices and rain noises. See Dementors on the ground looking up at Harry. I don’t think there’s anything to find here.
  • Zoom 2 (pulls back and moves frame up into the sky):
    • Stephen Fry or Jim Dale reads the scene from the audiobook. Selection ends with Harry remembering his mother’s scream.
    • Move cursor to get Harry to chase the snitch.

That’s all! There does not appear to be anything to collect in this chapter.

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

Expecto Patronum! Stands against the Pottermore Cheaters

Yesterday, ElmBlade43 posted about Pottermore and Cheating on her Blog of a Pottermore Beta. Expecto Patronum! stands in solidarity with Elm in the campaign against cheating on Pottermore.

In addition to the blatant example that Elm cites, I have seen numerous attempts to use the Great Hall as a place to coordinate efforts to help or hurt another House. During the run-up to the Inaugural House Cup, I witnessed some “Ravenclaws” and “Hufflepuffs” announce in the Great Hall that they were giving easy duels to Gryffindor to help in the battle against Slytherin. As a dueler, I have personally seen some “Ravenclaws” and “Gryffindors” whose accounts were obviously set up with the intent to help Slytherin. And I have heard from Gryffindor duelers that they have seen “Slytherins” obviously helping Gryffindor. All this in addition to the “Slytherin” accounts set up with intent to blow up cauldrons and lose the House points.

Because the cheating is so widespread, I personally think that it all evens out in the end – without giving any single House an advantage. However, I do believe it diminishes the experience. When the top Hufflepuff – HUFFLEPUFF!!! – is bragging in his own House Common Room (and on Twitter) that he is using scripts not only to duel all day but to toss 1000 gnomes out of the Weasley garden in a single De-Gnoming, something is broken in the Pottermore experience. But when the Slytherin Common Room becomes Ground Zero in the battle against cheating, then something kind of wonderful is happening.

Pottermore needs to tighten security, identify scripts, keep a closer watch on the Great Hall, and ban the cheaters. Ironic, I think, that it’s Slytherin leading the campaign. But let’s stand together in this, regardless of House.

Pottermore: Two Million Students in the Great Hall

Well, that didn’t take long. Just a week ago, I was posting excitedly that the Great Hall had finally reached 1,000,000 students.

That number has doubled since then. And here is the evidence…

Here is the House breakdown at 2,001,849 sorted students:

Gryffindor: 520,772 members
Hufflepuff: 503,982 members
Slytherin: 501,654 members
Ravenclaw: 475,441 members

Here is the Points breakdown at 2,001,849 sorted students:

Slytherin: 37,003,557 points
Gryffindor: 36,862,963 points
Ravenclaw: 36,285,160 points
Hufflepuff: 31,874,152 points

Gryffindor trails Slytherin by about 150,000 points. But Gryffindor also has about 19,000 more students than Slytherin. Which will prevail? Numbers or skill? ;)

Regardless of who wins the first House Cup, I suspect the site will experience steady growth… but that there will be a big growth spurt when CoS is released and everybody – the PS/SS Beta group and the general public – explores CoS for the first time, at the same time, together.

Pottermore “Thank Yous”

In one of its final tweets before the waiting began, hp_batsignal wrote:

If there’s one thing that defines the #HP fandom it’s our ability to bridge differences & work together and the Bat Signal is proof of that.

After having seen some pretty nasty fan factions and fanwars, it has truly been refreshing this past week to watch fans work together to help other fans gain early access into Pottermore.

After the Magic Quill challenge rules went live on the Pottermore website (about 2am BST, July 31), one forum member at Chamber of Secrets posted her email from LeakyCon giving out the basic timing for Clue #1 and telling us the Chapter we needed to look at.

That member is a James fan. I’m a Severus fan. It just didn’t matter. Her post gave me – and all the other HP fans on that thread – hope that we could, indeed, make it through the Magic Quill challenge together and gain early access into Pottermore. By early morning, most of us had. That experience inspired my blogging during this past week.

So on that note, I’d like to thank some folks who helped with this experience along the way.

A Special “Thank You” to..

  • The folks at Chamber of Secrets – and particularly the member who posted her letter from LeakyCon and the Admin who let me know that, yes, the CoS servers could handle the load if I linked to the site from here. :)
  • A couple of CoS members who helped with specific numbers that I suggested here as potential clues:  ardnaxela (who told me that the photo of the original Order of the Phoenix could be found in “The Woes of Mrs. Weasley” – Day 5 Hints), and Wren (who suggested the number of potions Professor Slughorn offered his N.E.W.T. students as a possible number – Day 6 Hints). We didn’t end up needing either of those numbers, but it’s always good to have as many numbers as possible on hand when suggesting potential clues. :)
  • Random tweeters who let people know about this blog… and especially…
  • Jess at The Last Muggle, who tweeted the Day 5 Hints, gave me a tip about hp_batsignal in one of the Comments threads, and mentioned this site on her blog. If you don’t read Jess, please do. She writes one of my favorite Harry Potter blogs.

What We’re Most Excited About…

So now, time to talk about the Pottermore features we’re most excited about…

The Sorting:
I’m excited – and nervous – about the Sorting. I want to be in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor.

I’m a Ravenclaw on Mugglenet Interactive, a Gryffindor on Chamber of Secrets, and I “test” all over the map on various unofficial Sorting tests. In fact, in the time it took me to write this paragraph, I tested across the Web as Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff!

But please, Sorting Hat, I beg of you… do not put me in Hufflepuff.

The Wand:
I’m thrilled at the prospect of getting a wand. I’m kind of hoping that my username will help me get a wand with a Phoenix tail feather core. Not because I think I’m Harry Potter (and especially not Tom Riddle!), but just because I really love the Phoenix. Second choice: Unicorn tail hair. I’d prefer not to end up with Dragon Heartstring.

There are supposed to be 33,000 different wand combinations, so I think there’s a possibility that we might have additional cores beyond the three that Ollivander makes. But then, we are buying our wands at Ollivanders, so…

The Logic Puzzle:
If you’ve roamed this site, then you probably know that I’ve posted an almost complete solution of Snape’s Logic Puzzle (the puzzle that guards the Philosopher’s Stone). The reason the solution is almost complete is that, without a visual cue, we can only get down to the last two bottles with any certainty.

Well, finally, to the rescue… There is a photo supposedly leaked from Pottermore showing the exact arrangement of the bottles in the puzzle. If that photo leak is for real – and not just a clever piece of fanart – then we will soon have our complete solution!

New Content:
We know that we’re finally going to learn more about some of the Houses – especially Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. We’re going to get some McGonnagall backstory and some Dursley backstory. We’re going to get a lot of wandlore. And probably plenty of other material. So far, JKR has written about 19,000 additional words for Pottermore.

So what is some of the new content that you’re hoping to see? And what are some of the Pottermore features you’re most excited about?

Let us know in the Comments thread. :)

(And btw… Actually, this Severus fan gets along just fine with the James fan who posted the LeakyCon message… but the point is that a lot of fans have reached across their differences this past week just to help out other fans. YAY!).

The Task Most Made of Awesome?

I can’t believe it’s been Saturday since I last posted… but then again, I can. My husband’s out of town, and I’ve been running around all over the place, and today I had to keep the kitties calm while they were locked in a room because workmen were installing a furnace.

So, before we move on, let’s take a poll!

Which House Head’s task beyond the Trap Door is most made of awesome… and why?

Please explain your choice in the Comments thread!

I’ll be back to check after I’ve had a chance to see this Alan Rickman movie that’s been in my queue forever. Something called Sense and Sensibility.

ETA: I just remembered… some of you are dropping in randomly and haven’t read the last four posts! So if you need a refresher on the tasks, here you go…

And with that, I really will go watch my Rickman / Austen movie. :)

Devil’s Snare

“We must be miles under the school,” [Hermione] said.

“Lucky this plant thing’s here, really,” said Ron.

Lucky!” shrieked Hermione. “Look at you both!”

She leapt up and struggled toward a damp wall. She had to struggle because the moment she landed, the plant had started to twist snakelike tendrils around her ankles. As for Harry and Ron, their legs had already been bound tightly in long creepers without their noticing.

The Trio’s fall through the trapdoor is broken by Professor Sprout’s protection for the Stone – Devil’s Snare.

So far, about the only thing we know about Professor Sprout (whom we have not yet met) is that she’s a “dumpy little witch” who teaches Herbology in the Greenhouses. With the Devil’s Snare, though, we at least meet her handiwork.

The brilliance of Sprout’s protection is that while the Devil’s Snare breaks the fall of those who go through the trapdoor, it also tries to kill them… and will succeed, unless the potential victim remembers how to fight it. If Harry’s and Ron’s reaction to their soft landing is any indication, most people would be lulled into a feeling of safety and might not even think to escape the plant’s tendrils until they are already being strangled or crushed to death. Worse yet, the more they struggle, the tighter the plant will bind them.

Devil’s Snare may not be as flashy as transfigured chess pieces, but it is truly an impressive bit of protection. In standard vampire fighting mode, fire or light will defeat the plant. But remembering that requires some knowledge of Herbology – and who but an Herbology geek would remember back to First Year Herbology lectures while they’re under attack from the plant?

Based on what we’ve seen of the Wizarding community, the average Wizard would most likely pay more attention to flashier subjects like DADA or Transfiguration or Charms, and wouldn’t stand a chance if attacked by Devil’s Snare – making it a doubly effective defense.

Thankfully the Trio have Hermione on hand to remember what Professor Sprout told them about the plant. And thankfully, they also have Ron on hand to remind her that she can conjure fire:

“Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare… what did Professor Sprout say? – it likes the dark and the damp – ”

“So light a fire!” Harry choked.

“Yes – of course – but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.

“HAVE YOU GONE MAD? Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?”

“Oh right!” said Hermione, and she whipped out her wand, waved it, muttered something, and sent a jet of the same bluebell flames she had used on Snape at the plant. In a matter of seconds, the two boys felt it loosening its grip as it cringed away from the light and warmth.

And so the Trio escape the Devil’s Snare’s clutches.

But as with so many other elements introduced in PS/SS, this episode serves also to foreshadow later events. In OotP, a Devil’s Snare sent by a Death Eater as a “Christmas gift” to spell-damaged Unspeakable Broderick Bode successfully strangles the intended victim. And during the Battle of Hogwarts, Professor Sprout again uses Devil’s Snare – this time as part of the castle’s defenses against Voldemort’s minions.

Professor Sprout, Head of House for Hufflepuff, is also (as we can see) a formidable, if unconventional, fighter who who brings her less conventional resources as an Herbologist to bear in the battle against evil. Significantly, she will teach Neville Longbottom to do the same.

Sorting It All Out

“The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history, and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards.”
– Professor Minerva McGonnagall

Well, I’m back. It may take me a post or two to get into my groove. But YAY! We’re finally at Hogwarts!

The Side Chamber

Sooooooo. The castle doors have swung open, and Professor McGonnagall has taken the first years in hand – leading them into a small chamber off the Great Hall, where they sweat out what sort of “test” will sort them into their Houses. Ron thinks it will hurt. Harry worries about his lack of knowledge. Hermione (so nervous that showing off is her only recourse) whispers wildly all the spells she learned since she got her letter. And then the ghosts float through the walls!

What’s wonderful about this vignette is that even the holding area develops the characters while painting a portrait of the school. Professor McGonnagall – tall, black-haired, and dressed in the same emerald green she wore when camped outside the Dursleys 10 years before – seems eternally stern and no-nonsense. Our future Gryff Trio seem all different kinds of train wreck.

But the ghosts… oh the ghosts! Oblivious at first to the living, the ghosts come through the walls arguing about “Peeves” – and frighten the already-terrified ickle firsties. Currently offstage (though not for long!), the poltergeist will become a recurring antagonist – and occasional ally – throughout the series.

The Great Hall

As we move into the Great Hall, we first see the Enchanted Ceiling, and hear the Hogwarts Sorting Hat sing about:

Gryffindors – full of daring, nerve, and chivalry, brave at heart.
Hufflepuffs – hard workers, just, loyal, and true.
Ravenclaws – ready minded, full of wit and learning.
Slytherin – full of cunning, using any means to achieve their ends.

Everything we’ve heard up until now tells us that Slytherin is bad. Hagrid first told Harry that every Wizard gone bad had hailed from Slytherin, and Harry’s first encounters with Draco and his crew convince him that it’s the last place at Hogwarts that he wants to be. The Sorting Hat, though, is not so sure.

Harry’s perception of Slytherin will have a huge impact on the story. When the Hat announces Hogwarts’ first new Slytherin, Harry notes that “they looked like an unpleasant sort” (the side comment, however, indicates that his imagination could be filtering that perception through everything he’s already heard about the House).

Regardless, when Harry (The Harry Potter?”) finally steps up to the Sorting Hat, he begs “Not Slytherin.” And though it lingers in its decision, the Hat finally announces him the newest “GRYFFINDOR!” Harry, Ron, and that annoying Granger girl – Team Gryff – all get sorted out… into (where else?) the same House.

So where do we go from here? To what I’ve just been dying to write about! The Great Feast, where we will finally see Professor Dumbledore in his element, and get our first sighting of the Head of Slytherin House – Professor Severus Snape.

Till next time!