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: The Movie!

Well, a third set of Pottermore emails went out today, and I didn’t receive one. So I took the cue from my Waiting for Pottermore Top 10 List and went to Tyson’s Corner tonight to see the very last IMAX 3D showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. To tell the truth, it’s better in 2D. But hey, I didn’t have to wait as long to see the 3D version, and it was a rather intimate showing of the film.

Anyway, while I’m off busily writing about DH2, I thought you might find a way to entertain yourselves with this little movie. Enjoy!

ETA: OMG! GMTA!!! I just discovered that The Last Muggle posted this same video yesterday! But I solemnly swear I didn’t steal it from her. I found it in a social group on CoS.

Waiting for Pottermore: A Top 10 List

For Harry Potter fans, waiting has always been a part of the game.

We wait months and years for book releases, months and years for movie releases. And now we have worked ourselves up into a massive fandom frenzy, waiting anxiously for the early access opening of a website that most of us never knew existed more than three months ago.

As we await our Welcome emails, we may just need a few distractions…

So, here’s the Expecto Patronum! Top 10 list of things to do while waiting for Pottermore:

10. Refresh your email every 5 seconds, hoping it will make the elusive Pottermore Welcome message arrive in your Inbox that much sooner.
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9. Set your Web browser to report any small changes to the Pottermore homepage, and then tweet the rumor “OMG! The Chair moved half-an-inch! They must be getting ready to open the site!”
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8. Find combinations of words to add to the beginning of pottermore.com, just to watch the inevitable redirect:

    • minervasskateboard.pottermore.com
    • nitwitblubberoddmenttweak.pottermore.com
    • snapesmumsblouse.pottermore.com

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7. Have a conversation, using only HP quotes, just to keep in practice:

You have to admit Minister, you might not agree with Dumbledore, but he has style.
“Are you mental?”

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6. Find your Harry Potter character AND your Myers-Briggs type all in the same (outdated) Harry Potter character quiz!

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Is he really INTP? Nope! But I am. :)

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5. Practice up for your Sorting here
or here
or here
or here
or even here.
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4. Join the SnapeGPS Project and find canon phrases to help confused drivers find their way:

Turn onto route… three hundred and ninety four.

Out for a little drive… in the moonlight?

Recalculating… Does anything penetrate that thick skull of yours?

_______

3. Divert yourself by scouring Tumblr for amusing HP GIFs:

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2. Go to see Deathly Hallows 2. Just one more… OR two more… OR three more… times. Or perhaps re-read random chapters from the books!
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1. Remember, if all else fails, there’s always Potter Puppet Pals…

How Expecto Patronum! will spend its time waiting for Pottermore…

Yes, I know that #2 is the tame spot on the list, but I put it there to make a point. This is the next stop for Expecto Patronum!

As soon as I finish writing the end-of-term paper I’m working on, I will be re-visiting the DH2 film… and finally writing my long-awaited review. The first three times I saw the movie, I was just too emotionally overwhelmed to say anything coherent about it. Maybe fourth time will be the charm!

And once that mischief has been managed, I’ll start reading random chapters in the Harry Potter series – at reader request – while we wait for the main doors of Pottermore to open in October.

Of course, once the doors open for early access, I will report whatever I can. But the next big thrust in the re-read will take place once Pottermore is open to everybody and the entire Web can re-read the Harry Potter series from within the Pottermore experience.

So what do you plan to do while we are waiting for Pottermore – short of trading in your HP fandom for something involving Hobbits, or Time Lords, or Cylons, that is?

The Silver Doe

“The Silver Doe” is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Harry Potter series. Here is a short tribute piece that I wrote as part of the Gryffindor entry for the Chamber of Secrets Forum Holiday Calendar:

The Silver Doe
December 26, 1997

“Expecto Patronum” the man whispered, and a bright light burst forth from the tip of his wand, taking the form of a doe.

He had never before seen her illuminate a darkness so profound, and the brilliance of the Patronus recalled to his mind those near-forgotten words from early youth: Et lux in tenebris lucet. The light shines in the darkness.

He gazed on her longingly, wishing he could cling to her light. But this was no time for sentimentality. He had a job to do. And if he failed to do it, an even deeper darkness would descend.

He, a Slytherin, had been entrusted with carrying the Sword of Gryffindor to those who could rightly wield it – the Sword which now lay secure at the bottom of the frozen pool as the Patronus stood before him, awaiting his guidance.

He had a plan, he’d told the portrait, but would the boy follow? Only two days before, word came to him that the great snake had forcefully sunk her fangs into Potter’s arm. Apparently, though, the boy had recovered sufficiently to apparate into these woods – evidence, no doubt, that Miss Granger’s resourcefulness had, as always, served Potter well.

But what of Weasley? Dumbledore – for reasons he had yet fully to apprehend – had faith that Weasley and Granger both were the proper companions to help Potter accomplish whatever task he had been assigned. Perhaps he was correct. Even Longbottom had recently shown the valor for which his House was known, leading an admirable, if ill-fated, raid to steal Gryffindor’s Sword from inside the Headmaster’s office.

He scrutinized the doe’s soft, luminous eyes as moisture filled the rims of his own, and he released her to wander in search of the boy.

***

In happier times – not that any of his times had ever been especially happy – but in times less dire perhaps, he had often spent the night after Christmas lounging in a plush staffroom chair, playing Wizard Chess with Minerva before the fire.

She hated him now. All his old colleagues did. And best that it be so. It would not do for any of them to hesitate in thinking him a murderer, a traitor, a coward. It was their best protection… and his.

And so he stood under a Disillusionment Charm behind the treeline on the night after Christmas – watching and waiting for the boy in the frigid dark.

Ickle Firsties Take On the Hogwarts Staff

“We’re nearly there,” [Ron] muttered suddenly. “Let me think – let me think . . .”

The white queen turned her blank face toward him.

“Yes . . . ” said Ron softly, “it’s the only way . . . I’ve got to be taken.”

“NO!” Harry and Hermione shouted.

“That’s chess!” snapped Ron. “You’ve got to make some sacrifices! I take one step forward and she’ll take me – that leaves you free to checkmate the king, Harry!”

“But – ”

“Do you want to stop Snape or not?”

So far, we’ve talked about the tasks and what they reveal about the House Heads and their Houses. But we haven’t focused much yet on what the tasks show us about the Trio. And there are actually 2 Rounds of encounters before the Trio even meets up with Fluffy and descends through the trapdoor.

Round 1: The adventure begins in the Gryffindor Common Room, when Neville tries to prevent the Trio from creeping out through the portrait hole. Hermione shows her excellent spell work by putting a “Petrificus Totalus” (Full Body-Bind) curse on Neville (foreshadowing many later uses of Petrificus Totalus: most memorably, Draco on Harry on Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore on Harry during Dumbledore’s death scene, Voldemort on Neville before Neville slays the snake). Round 1 goes to Hermione.

Round 2: The Trio encounter Peeves, who will of course make enough racket to get them caught roaming the halls at night. Harry ingeniously mimics the Bloody Baron from under his Invisibility Cloak. Round 2 belongs to Harry.

Round 3: The Trio meet up with Fluffy. Getting past the 3-headed beast is a collaborative effort. Harry quiets the dog by playing notes on a flute Hagrid carved for him. Ron opens the trapdoor, Harry goes through the trapdoor first, and Hermione continues blowing on the flute before jumping last. Round 3 belongs to The Trio.

Round 4: The Trio engage in another collaborative effort while tackling Sprout’s Devil’s Snare. Yes, Hermione is the one who recognizes the plant, notices its effects, and conjures the bluebell flames. But it’s Harry who recommends lighting a fire and Ron who reminds Hermione that she can light one without wood. Without Harry and Ron, Hermione would have frozen in panic. Round 4 belongs to The Trio, with some extra credit for Hermione.

Round 5: Flitwick’s Enchanted Keys also require a collaborative effort. However, for the collaboration to work, Harry has to rely on his Seeker skills and demonstrate a potential for leadership in Quidditch. He directs Hermione and Ron on the formation to fly so that he can catch the key he has identified. Round 5, I think, belongs primarily to Harry.

Round 6: Getting through McGonnagall’s Transfigured Chess match is entirely Ron’s task, with cooperation (not really collaboration) from Harry and Hermione. And this is one of the more difficult and risky tasks. So in taking the poll at the bottom of this post, it might be nice to weigh that difficulty and risk when considering Ron’s overall contribution toward saving the Stone. Round 6 goes to Ron.

Round 7: Getting past Quirrell’s Troll requires no effort on Harry’s or Hermione’s part because knocking out the Troll has already been accomplished… by Quirrell.

Round 8: Snape’s Logic Puzzle gives Hermione an opportunity to show her capacity for logical reasoning, and without her, Harry might have been stuck in that chamber forever. Round 8 belongs to Hermione.

Round 9: Dumbledore’s enchantment on Mirror of Erised gives Harry an opportunity to show his strength of character – the strength that helps him trump Voldemort’s attempt to attain the Stone and achieve immortality.  We will discuss the Mirror in more detail in the post after next. But for now, Round 9 belongs to Harry.

The three members of the Trio show, from this very first major confrontation with Voldemort, that they possess an ability to work together as a group – and an ability to step forward with individual skills as needed. This will, of course, have major implications for the Horcrux Quest in DH, as will Ron’s sacrifice in the chess match…

You’ve Got to Make Some Sacrifices

When Ron decides to be “taken,” he decides to risk the possibility of death to keep Snape[sic]/Voldemort from getting the Stone. He does not know if the Queen’s blow will be lethal (and Harry and Hermione seem uncertain that he’s still alive when they move on to the next task). What he does know is, at the very least, it will hurt a lot and knock him unconscious. But the sacrifice is necessary in order to move his friends forward. So he sacrifices himself with that aim in mind.

I could be mistaken, but I think this is the first mention of sacrifice in the books. But it becomes a key theme in the series – as we will begin to understand when Dumbledore tells Harry of his mother’s sacrifice.

Perhaps most graphically, though, Ron’s sacrifice is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice that Harry will be asked to make in DH, when he goes out to meet Voldemort. Once again, it will be a situation in which sacrifice is “the only way” to halt evil from triumphing. And once again, it’s a conscious decision to face death for the sake of something bigger than oneself.

Harry makes his sacrifice in order to prevent Voldemort from attaining immortality. And 6 years earlier, he watched a young boy make the cold, calculated decision to face the possibility of death in order to prevent Voldemort from attaining immortality.

Foreshadowing? Perhaps.

Coincidence? Perhaps not.

And now… let’s have another poll – this time on the Trio’s individual contributions. And let’s discuss your responses in the Comments thread! Multiple choice is possible this time:

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. :)

Shall We Play a Game?

They were standing on the edge of a huge chessboard, behind the black chessmen, which were taller than they were and carved from what looked like black stone. Facing them, way across the chamber, were the white pieces. Harry, Ron and Hermione shivered slightly – the towering white chessmen had no faces.

“Now what do we do?” Harry whispered.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Ron. “We’ve got to play our way across the room.”

As a Wizarding Chess afficionado, Ron quickly figures out that the giant chess pieces they encounter in Professor McGonnagall’s task have been transfigured into the moving, “living” pieces of Wizarding Chess. He quickly deduces that the three of them will have to take the places of black chess pieces and confirms this with one of the black knights:

[Ron] walked up to a black knight and put his hand out to touch the knight’s horse. At once, the stone sprang to life. The horse pawed the ground and the knight turned his helmeted head to look down at Ron.

“Do we – er – have to join you to get across?”

The black knight nodded.

The Task

Unlike Professor Flitwick’s complex task, this one is fairly straightforward – once it’s figured out. The prospective thief has to take the place of a black chess piece and play a successful game of chess. But therein lies the problem. While it takes intelligence to play chess, having intelligence is no guarantee of success.

Chess is a game of strategy, and so it takes a strategic thinker to win at it – someone who can see the big picture, comprehend the implications of the opponents’ moves, and plan moves in advance. In other words, it takes a specific type of intelligence. This is what makes McGonnagall’s task rather brilliant. It narrows the field considerably concerning who would be able to get to the next door. Hermione herself (minus Ron) would likely not have passed successfully through this task.

But Why Is This Task for Gryffindor?

Shouldn’t chess be more of a Ravenclaw specialty? I mean, in RL it is the province of those crypto-Ravenclaws of the Muggle world – Math and Computer geeks. So why should this be the task for the Head of House for Gryffindor?

Transfiguration: Well, the most obvious answer is that the task requires the pieces to undergo Transfiguration spells… and Transfiguration is McGonnagall’s specialty. In fact, it seems that Transfiguration is something of a Gryffindor specialty. Such noted Gryffindors as Professor Dumbledore have specialized in Transfiguration. And several recent Gryffindors (three Marauders and Professor McGonnagall) are known to be capable of making the animagus transformation (not technically Transfiguration, but certainly requiring Transfiguration skills as a prerequisite).

Transfiguration, according to McGonnagall, is among the most “complex and dangerous magic” taught at Hogwarts – the danger, perhaps, being a reason the discipline seems to coalesce around Gryffindor. But thus far (at Hogwarts at least), we’ve seen mainly the lighter side of Transfiguration. We’ve watched Professor McGonnagall transfigure her desk into a pig (and back again), teach her First Years to change a match into a needle, and test them on turning a mouse into a snuffbox. In the chess task, we finally see the more serious application of Transfiguration.

War: Additionally, chess is a warlike game, involving pieces that emulate soldiers crossing a battlefield. The game, in fact, is won by capturing the opposing player’s King. Gryffindor, of course, is the most warlike of Houses – the House that most highly values bravery and chivalry. And McGonnagall’s version of chess creates an aura of battlefield danger, guaranteed to unnerve your average prospective thief.

The white pieces don’t just “take” black pieces. They hit and break them, with strong stone arms:

[The Trio’s] first real shock came when their other knight was taken. The white queen smashed him to the floor and dragged him off the board, where he lay quite still, facedown.


Every time one of their men was lost, the white pieces showed no mercy. Soon there was a huddle of limp black players slumped along the wall.

McGonnagall’s transfiguration transforms a game based on war into an actual simulation of war.

Strategy: Smart as the Ravenclaws are, and crafty as the Slytherins, the best strategic thinker in the series is Albus Dumbledore – who manages the wars against Voldemort like a master moving pieces around the board. While Dumbledore’s Slytherin protegé, Severus Snape, is a brilliant tactician, Snape is not essentially a strategist. And this perhaps shows us something about the differences between Ravenclaw intelligence, Slytherin intelligence, Hufflepuff intelligence, and Gryffindor intelligence.

Ravenclaw is often said to admire abstract, theoretical knowledge. Slytherin admires skill and practical application. Hufflepuff emphasizes an earthy, pragmatic, common-sense approach. But despite its reputation (largely among Slytherins) for reckless action, Gryffindor, perhaps, brings the strongest capacity for strategic thought.

Certainly the evidence for strategy being the most Gryffindorish type of intelligence is a bit thin if we base it entirely on Dumbledore, but if we consider that strategy is the quality most desired in warfare – and martial ability is a huge part of the Gryffindor portfolio – then we perhaps have a more solid circumstantial basis for linking Gryffindor with strategic intelligence.

So What Do We Learn about McGonnagall?

She’s pretty formidable – far more formidable than the no-nonsense witch who sternly greets new students.

Not only does she perform the necessary transfiguration to animate the pieces, she “programs” the white pieces to respond to the black strategy and create a dynamic strategy for defense of the Stone. (Curiously, too, she uses the traditional color scheme of white representing the “good” defenders of the Stone and black representing the “bad” prospective thieves).

Unless there is a ready-made spell that gives transfigured pieces the sort of strategic knowledge necessary to play a human opponent without human assistance, McGonnagall must have chess-expert knowledge of the inner workings of the game in order to give the pieces that ability. (And given that chess is the task she chooses, my bet is that she does.)

Additionally, this simulation of battle foreshadows what we will ultimately see of McGonnagall in the context of a real battle in DH – as she defends Hogwarts against the minions (and assumed minions) of the Dark Lord.

McGonnagall ruthlessly duels presumed Death Eater Severus Snape in one of the corridors of the castle (making it, I think, safe to say that the scary White Queen of Transfigured Chess is a striking symbolic representation of McGonnagall herself). And the actual animation of the chess pieces is a foreshadowing of McGonnagall’s calling on the statues and armor to do their duty and defend the school during the Battle of Hogwarts:

“And now – Piertotem Locomotor!” cried Professor McGonnagall.

And all along the corridor the statues and suits of armor jumped down from their plinths, and from the echoing crashes from the floors above and below, Harry knew that their fellows throughout the castle had done the same.

“Hogwarts is threatened!” shouted Professor McGonnagall. “Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!”

Clattering and yelling, the horde of moving statues stampeded past Harry: some of them smaller, others larger, than life. There were animals too, and the clanking suits of armor brandished swords and spiked balls on chains.

“Now, Potter,” said McGonagall, “you and Miss Lovegood had better return to your friends and bring them to the Great Hall – I shall rouse the other Gryffindors.”

That is the quintessentially Gryffindor Professor McGonnagall in the context of war. She takes charge. She defends the school. And she shows no mercy to any she believes would dare overthrow Hogwarts.

[Translation of Piertotem Locomotor: “All do your duty!”]