Chapter Thirty One

Apr 12, 2005 14:15


Still working on chapters 24, 25, 26, 28 and 29.
This one is possibly the most hypocritical since ‘The Centuar and the Sneak’, I’m pleased to report!

* Ron's euphoria at helping Gryffindor scrape the Quidditch cup was such that he couldn't settle to anything next day.
All he wanted to do was talk over the match, so Harry and Hermione found it very difficult to find an opening in which to mention Grawp. Not that either of them tried very hard; neither was keen to be the one to bring Ron back to reality…

Hee! Come back to reality, Ron, where you’re second best again! After all, you only ‘helped’ ‘scrape’ a win!

* Ron was not particularly keen on (revising) at first - he was thoroughly enjoying being patted on the back by every Gryffindor who walked past…not to mention the occasional outbursts of 'Weasley is our King' - but after a while he agreed that some fresh air might do him good.

It sounds as if people are making more of a fuss out of Ron (although, as tora_chan pointed out, there’s no victory party which is normal for Harry’s wins) which I guess indicates that either they didn't of Harry (unlikely) or that they did, and he's so modest and self-effacing he never notices, unlike Ron who enjoys attention (I imagine this is the authorial intent) or that he accepts it as his due, and is so used to it that he's not even aware of it (ba-da-bing!)

* They…sat down while Ron talked them through his first save of the match for what felt like the dozenth time.

Bwhahaha! Yeah, Quidditch is really boring now that Harry’s not on the team. I declare it over as far as Cool Activities go.
I would think that Harry and Hermione would want to hear about the match, since they missed it, and also because they’re his friends (find any mention of one of Harry’s games, and I guarantee you that both Ron and Hermione are there, cheering madly. In fact, they’re sometimes even present at practices, unlike this year.)
Not to mention, Harry and Hermione appear to have no problems rehashing their own triumphs endlessly (To disappointed moans from the many people who were sitting around him, asking him to relive his interview for the umpteenth time, he announced that he…needed an early night.) and we never hear Ron getting tired of these stories.

* …(Ron) concluded modestly, sweeping his hair back quite unnecessarily so that it looked interestingly windswept and glancing around to see whether the people nearest to them - a bunch of gossiping third-year Hufflepuffs - had heard him.
‘…What?' Ron asked, having stopped midsentence at the look on Harry's face. 'Why are you grinning?'
'I'm not,' said Harry quickly, and looked down at his…notes, attempting to straighten his face. 'I'm just glad we won, that's all.'
The truth was that Ron had just reminded Harry forcibly of another Gryffindor Quidditch player who had once sat rumpling his hair under this very tree.

So Harry, like Lupin and Sirius, now finds James’ hair ruffling endearing rather than arrogant as he initially did. That didn’t take long. Although slightly more time than it took him to emphasise with the desire to humiliate and hex people for existing.
And of course, Harry takes the loyal friends position of loving your friend despite his attention-whoring, because he would never ever do that himself.

* 'Yeah,' said Ron slowly, savouring the words, 'we won. Did you see the look on Chang’s face when Ginny got the Snitch right out from under her nose?'

Aw. It just isn’t a Lions victory until you’ve enjoyed the other teams’ misery, is it?

And I’m so glad to hear Ginny managed to get the Snitch! I was worried that she wouldn’t be mentioned at all! (It’s funny that she hasn’t gotten much of the credit. Does she just realise her rightful place here as less important next to the manly Star Players, or was she *gasp* not that amazing this time? It must be the former!) And from right under Cho’s nose! Wow, Cho must be pretty stupid. Or Ginny pretty talented! I guess the right woman won this match - and Harry’s heart. *vomits*

* 'I suppose she cried, did she?' said Harry bitterly.

But of course! That’s what we girls do when we lose. Or are scared. Or break a nail. Cry. I’m surprised they even let us play sports at all. Thank goodness there are macho examples of how to lose gracefully.

* 'Well, yeah - more out of temper than anything, though…' Ron frowned slightly. 'But you saw her chuck her broom away when she got back to the ground, didn't you?'

Witness the lack of sportsmanship from the other teams. (And please ignore that the one time Gryffindor lost, we had to hear about it for a year afterwards, and that the entire team was still angry with the other player.)
It’s almost as if the endless Gryffindor Must Win Every Possible Accolade In the World isn’t as fun for them as it is for that houses’ members. (I note that Ravenclaw are joining the Nasty House in rooting for themselves - previously, they were only ever noted as supporting Gryffindor, along with Hufflepuff - perhaps they’ve logically assessed that Gryffindor are no longer underdogs to the Slytherins perpetual winners, or maybe they’ve grown egoes of their own *boo hiss!* and wish to compete on their own merits, rather than electing their chosen man to fight for them.)

* Ron's carefully ruffled hair seemed to wilt with disappointment. 'You didn't watch?' he said faintly, looking from one to the other. 'You didn't see me make any of those saves?'
'Well - no,' said Hermione, stretching out a placatory hand towards him. 'But Ron, we didn't want to leave - we had to!'
'Yeah?' said Ron, whose face was growing rather red. 'How come?'
(Said Harry:) ‘…He wanted us to go into the Forest with him, we had no choice, you know how he gets. Anyway…'

Hermione takes the apologetic tack, but it’s her that Ron appears to become angered with.
Harry becomes business-like and switches the conversations’ topic from Ron to Hagrid, which is accepted mutely, which is kind of sad in it’s way - both that Ron is so cowed by his friend and that he accepts their lack of support so readily (imagine if someone dared to miss one of Harry’s games! *sucks breath in* Life wouldn’t be worth living!):

The story was told in five minutes, by the end of which Ron's indignation had been replaced by a look of total incredulity.

* Ron gave a nervous laugh. '…He's lost his mind,' (he) said in an almost awed voice.

Oh, be fair. He never had much of a mind.

* 'Yes,' said Hermione irritably…glaring at a series of diagrams showing an owl turning into a pair of opera glasses. '…I'm starting to think he has. But, unfortunately, he made Harry and me promise.'

Well, he didn’t put a gun to your head, and contrary to saying ‘We had no choice’ you could have um…refused. Granted, Hagrid was doing a line of self-pity and emotional blackmail, but then that’s kind of how he’s gotten away with years of selfish irresponsibility - you could always just stop falling for it every time.

And does Transfigurations and Charms ever feature any subjects beside changing animals into objects. Is it me, or is that a bit…pointless? (Not to mention, cruel. Why doesn’t Hagrid/Hermione step in and defend the fluffy lickle beasts?)
But then I can't see the point of half the magic studied at Hogwarts. Why would someone want to make an egg-cup do somersaults?!

* 'Well, you're just going to have to break your promise, that's all,' said Ron firmly. 'I mean, come on…we've got exams and we're about that far -' he held up his hand to show thumb and forefinger almost touching '- from being chucked out as it is. And anyway…remember Norbert? Remember Aragog? Have we ever come off better for mixing with any of Hagrid's monster mates?'

*whistles and stamps feet* Go, Ron! Of course, Ron missed seeing Grawp, and most of the Buckbeak adventure, and went to the hospital wing over a bite from Norbert, and was scared of Aragog, so it's understandable, but still.

* 'I know, it’s just that - we promised,' said Hermione in a small voice.

Heh. This is when I’d say ‘Yeah, you promised’ and back away, sharpish. *is disloyal*
Does Ron ever help out with Grawp? Do Harry and Hermione? The end chapters are approaching (W00t!) and doing a quick Find on ‘Grawp’ indicates that they never visit again - he appears out of the blue in the centaur scene.

* (Harry) did wonder occasionally during Potions lessons whether Lupin had ever told Snape that he must continue giving Harry Occlumency tuition.

Any thoughts on whether Lupin did or not? I’m going to go with ‘no’, personally - there’s all the security issues, Lupin has no power over Snape now that Dumbledore’s gone, which I’m sure they’re both aware of, and to be frank, Lupin’s kind of lazy and passive about actually getting anything done.

* She was not the only person acting oddly as the OWLs drew steadily nearer.

So, Ernie’s being annoying (I like that the students even compete over exams - Hermione’s are harder! Ernie’s doing more revision!); Draco’s scaring the others; and Hermione’s being neurotic. (Oh, and Neville's knocking things over.) How is this odd for any of them?

* Meanwhile, Draco Malfoy had found a different way to induce panic. 'Of course, it’s not what you know,' he was heard to tell Crabbe and Goyle…a few days before the exams were to start, 'it’s who you know.’

But why would he want Crabbe and Goyle to pani… Oh, wait. I just worked that out. Heh. ;) (I imagine this was quite reassuring to them, since they apparently don’t know anything!)
Anyway. So basically Malfoy’s bragging here that he doesn’t know anything. How very Slytherin - if they’re not insulted by the text or main characters, they do it themselves.

* ‘…Now, Father's been friendly with the head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority for years - old Griselda Marchbanks - we've had her round for dinner and everything…'

OMG! To dinner and everything? Really?! ;)
(Don’t the Malfoys know the Minister? Why would an exam adjudicator be a big deal?)

* 'Do you think that's true?' Hermione whispered in alarm to Harry and Ron.

See, here you could get into an interesting Muggleborn prejudice issue - Hermione can work away, but perhaps there’s only so far that merit can get you, and connections are something she can’t study for.
It would reinforce the apparent intention of the author that Muggleborns are oppressed, and might build sympathy for Hermione, since there’s *OMG* something she doesn’t know/can’t do; but the presentation of racism seems to contrast with JKR’s taking pains to assert how equal everyone is in skill - the purebloods have no more advantages than the Muggleborns/Half-bloods in any ways (in fact, they seem to have less.) and yet at the same time, we should pity the Muggleborns who don’t appear to be a minority mathematically (isn’t there 25% pure, 25% Muggleborn and 50% mixed?) or suffer any disadvantages in the Wizarding World.

* 'I don't think it’s true,' said Neville quietly from behind them. 'Because Griselda Marchbanks is a friend of my gran's, and she's never mentioned the Malfoy’s.'

Uh…why would she? Is she in the habit of reciting everyone in the WW who she’s had dinner with or something?
I mean, I get the point, Malfoy’s lying (and apparently going to the effort of finding out the WEA head’s name - strange child… *shakes head*) and probably nouveau riche (like the Dursleys!) whereas the Longbottoms are The Real Thing; but not only does this not make much sense, but it’s not exactly refuting privilege and that kind of attitude, is it? Draco’s outlook is pretty much backed up by the text, he’s just mistaken about who’s going to benefit; much like the Dursleys’ are laughable more because they’re aspiring to a class they weren’t born into, unlike Harry.

* 'Knowing her won't hurt your chances, though, will it?' Ron told him encouragingly.
'Oh, I don't think it will make any difference,' said Neville, still more miserably. 'Gran’s always telling Professor Marchbanks I'm not as good as my dad…well…you saw what she's like at St Mungo's.’ Neville looked fixedly at the floor.

But Neville! That’s good for you! Otherwise you’d be pampered, or something!

* …Harry and Ron were much tempted by the bottle of Baruffio's Brain Elixir offered to them by Ravenclaw sixth-year Eddie Carmichael, who swore it was solely responsible for the nine 'Outstanding' OWLs he had gained…and was offering a whole pint for a mere twelve Galleons.

Hee. Might be another example of Untrustworthy Ravenclaws, but I rather like that little glimpse into what the rest of the schools up to. Not everyone’s training to be a Soldier of the Light!111 - some are becoming entrepeneurs! (And yet apparently managing to do it without leaving their customers horribly hexed!)

* …But before they could close the deal, Hermione had confiscated the bottle from Carmichael and poured the contents down a toilet…'Don't be stupid,' she snarled. 'You might as well take Harold Dingle's powdered dragon claw and have done with it.'…'I confiscated that, too. None of these things actually work, you know.'

Wow. She’s going to confiscate every single fake product in the school? I imagine spam emails would really bother her: ‘Enlarge your penis by six inches? I haven’t read anything about that in my big book of contrived knowledge!’ *writes sternly worded letter to manufacturers and waits in vain for reply*
Anyway, I thought Hermione couldn’t find a rule that prevented Fred and George selling their products. I guess their’s work and Dingle’s don’t, but they both sound equally dangerous to me.

* 'Dragon claw does work!' said Ron (eagerly). 'It…really gives your brain a boost, you come over all cunning for a few hours - Hermione, let me have a pinch, go on, it can't hurt -'

Ron wants to be ‘cunning’? Interesting.

* ‘This stuff can,' said Hermione grimly. 'I've had a look at it, and it’s actually dried Doxy droppings.'
This information took the edge off Harry and Ron’s desire for brain stimulants.

Drugs are bad, mkay, kids?
I don’t know why there shouldn’t be a potion or spell that gives you increased concentration - even Muggles can do that, after all.
But I guess then there’d be no reason for Harry and Ron not to take them, so we need to create a contrived situation in which they once again learn not to do something because it may be personally damaging to them, rather than because it’s an extraordinarily stupid thing to do, taking a potion/medicine made by an amateur (and is um…cheating on your exams. Would they take steroids to win Quidditch? Cheating is something Slytherin would do, guys!)
Anyway, I love the idea of Hermione analysing it, ala CSI or something. I imagine it to be something along the lines of Charlie’s Angels or something: one look and she knows it’s chemical composition.

* '…Every year, I am afraid to say, seems to harbour at least one student who thinks that he or she can get around the Wizarding Examinations Authority's rules. I can only hope that it is nobody in Gryffindor.’

Hee! Because it’s not like breaking the rules isn’t something that’s valued and indeed rewarded in and by that house. By McGonagall herself, no less.

* ‘Our new - Headmistress - ' Professor McGonagall pronounced the word with the same look on her face that Aunt Petunia had whenever she was contemplating a particularly stubborn bit of dirt

There’s a lot of parallels drawn between Petunia and other women in this book. Either they’re all Sekritly Evil; Petunia is Not So Bad (she is related to St. Lily, after all!) or else Women are Not So Different, After All.

There’s also many comparisons to people looking at others like they’re dirt, both from the Baddies (the Dursleys treating Harry ‘like a dog that had rolled in something smelly’) and the Goodies (‘Ron, looking at Malfoy as if he were something unpleasant on the sole of his shoe.’) and describing them as such (the Slytherins calling Muggleborns ‘mudbloods’ and the Gryffindors calling the Slytherins ‘slim(e)’ and ‘scummy’.)

* '…(says) that cheating will be punished most severely - because, of course, your examination results will reflect upon the Headmistress's new regime at the school -' Professor McGonagall gave a tiny sigh; Harry saw the nostrils of her sharp nose flare. '- however, that is no reason not to do your very best. You have your own futures to think about.'

Why discourage cheating, then? Surely the more kids cheat, the better the results, the greater Umbridge looks?

So…does Goyle’s apparently horrible marks reflect badly on Dumbledore’s regime, or what?

* Harry imagined sitting in his bedroom in Privet Drive in six weeks' time, waiting for his OWL results. Well, he thought dully, at least he would be sure of one bit of post that summer.

So, rehashed predictions: Full marks in DADA and Potions, E in Transfigurations and Care of Magical Creatures, Acceptable/E in Charms and Herbology, and bad marks in Astronomy and History of Magic. Harry’s lack of self-confidence (and if you think I’m typing that with a straight face, you don’t know me very well) means we’ll be ‘surprised’ and thrilled at his high Potions grade, and surprisingly good Divination one. Oh, and Hermione will ace everything except DADA where Harry will beat her; while Ron will be middling at everything except one subject, which will be something non-glamorous like Herbology or Charms. And we’ll all be shocked that Neville’s smarter than he thought he was, too! The Slytherins will come as close to failure as you can without being kicked out, except in Potions where Malfoy at least, will torment Harry in his sixth year.

* Ron was just telling her that she ought to eat a decent meal or she would not sleep that night…

Aw. That’s kind of cute. Not shipping-R/Hr!cute, but still.

* Umbridge, Harry was pleased to see, looked rather nervous…speaking to (Marchbanks) deferentially. Professor Marchbanks seemed to be a little deaf; she was answering Professor Umbridge very loudly considering they were only a foot apart. 'Journey was fine, journey was fine, we've made it plenty of times before!' she said impatiently. 'Now, I haven't heard from Dumbledore lately!' she added, peering around the Hall as though hopeful he might suddenly emerge from a broom cupboard. 'No idea where he is, I suppose?'

Marchbanks confuses me a little. She’s a Good Guy (allegedly a goblin, ie. OMG OPPRESSED MINORITY!11 as well as one of the ex-'Wizengamot elders’((“Griselda Marchbanks and Tiberius Ogden have resigned in protest at the introduction of the post of Inquisitor to Hogwarts. '"Hogwarts is a school, not an outpost of Cornelius Fudge's office," said Madam Marchbanks. "This is a further, disgusting attempt to discredit Albus Dumbledore.")) and yet she’s not being openly hostile or aggressive, and doesn’t seem wildly angered or concerned that Dumbledore is gone. Not to mention, why is Umbridge being so nice to her, considering her possible non-human status and public support of Dumbledore? It’s not like the head of exams outranks Fudge, Umbridge’s personal BFF, and I can’t imagine what kind of power she could yield - ooh, if you don’t behave, I’m going to fail all your students!
Anyway, Marchbanks gives me an Aunt Marge vibe, I don’t really know why. I guess the impatient shouting and bluster.

* Harry…lowered his eyes to the first question: a) Give the incantation and b) describe the wand movement required to make objects fly.
Harry had a fleeting memory of a club soaring high into the air and landing loudly on the thick skull of a troll… smiling slightly, he bent over the paper and began to write.

See how Harry’s bravery, daring and general breaking of the rules have given him practical life experience, and in fact, assist him in his exams every bit as much as actually working in the last five years would have? No? It’ll come up at least five more times, don’t worry.
I guess that'll teach everyone who thought theory was in any way useful or had equal merits as a teaching process, huh?
(I’ll ignore the fact that we really don’t need Harry’s fleeting memories here, since even I know how to make things fly, and I’m a Muggle, non-fictional and someone who’s read the books about twice overall.)

The exams were another scene that just gave me the sense that Harry was living out 'The Truman Show' with him as the star. How fortunate that the first question was tailor-made for him. As well as the Polyjuice one. And the Patronus. I feel like we should just go back to PS and have Dumbledore decide the exam results: 'For knowing that there are more important things in life than academics - a batch of Outstanding OWLs!'

* 'Well, it wasn't too bad, was it?' asked Hermione anxiously in the Entrance Hall two hours later, still clutching the exam paper.

You’re allowed to keep the paper? Not in my school.

* Harry walked into the Great Hall, clutching his wand so tightly his hand shook.

This just reminds me of how often in this book we hear of Harry’s ‘heart racing’ or his running or shaking. I guess perhaps it’s intended to create sympathy, but since if it was anyone else it would be a sign of what a massive coward they were, I guess it’s not working for me. Harry’s not meeting his own lofty standards, imho!

* He pointed Harry towards what looked like the very oldest and baldest examiner who was sitting behind a small table in a far corner, a short distance from Professor Marchbanks, who was halfway through testing Draco Malfoy.

I was kind of surprised that Marchbanks didn’t test Harry, since she seems the most important of the examiners. Not to mention, her doing the ‘OMG, famous Harry Potter?’ bit would have been the *ahem* contrast to the ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who!’ bit.

* 'Potter, is it?' said Professor Tofty, consulting his notes and peering…at Harry as he approached. ‘The famous Potter?'
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry distinctly saw Malfoy throw a scathing look over at him; the wine-glass Malfoy had been levitating fell to the floor and smashed.

Mazel tov! Aw. <3 I don’t even know how to approach that in a non-shippy fangirl sense (any suggestions? I presume for JKR it was the irresistable temptation to show the Slytherins failing, especially in comparison to Harry - 'His Levitation Charm was certainly much better than Malfoy's had been' - since it’s been a good chapter or so since they were given their last comeuppance?), so I’ll skim over it, but aw. ;)

* Harry could not suppress a grin

Not that Harry notices that kind of thing. Except, you know, when he does. Which is all the time.
Also, when he does, it’s not in a mean-spirited way, except you know, it totally is.

* …Defence Against the Dark Arts. Here, for the first time, Harry felt sure he had passed. He had no problem with any of the…questions and took particular pleasure…in performing all the counter-jinxes and defensive spells right in front of Umbridge…
'Oh, bravo!' cried Professor Tofty…when Harry demonstrated a perfect Boggart banishing spell. 'Very good indeed! Well, I think that's all, Potter…unless…" He leaned forwards a little. 'I heard, from my dear friend Tiberius Ogden, that you can produce a Patronus? For a bonus point…?'
All of the examiners looked around to watch…
Professor Tofty clapped his…hands enthusiastically. 'Excellent!' he said.

So…was the intent for me to find that vomitous? Cause if it was…bravo! Mission accomplished.
The whole ‘OMG, Malfoy says exams are all down to favouritism and connections, isn’t he evil and wrong?!’ moral looks a bit of a double-standard when Harry’s grade is plumped up by a) influential people knowing his reputation and b) him achieving a spell that apparently at least twenty other, less famous people in the room can do. (Except that the Patronus has altered again - first it was such an accomplished spell that not all fully-grown wizards could do, and only Lupin’s dedicated tuition could teach; then almost all the DA can suddenly master it; now it’s gone back to being so rare that hardened school markers are amazed.)
Not to mention, as discussed, the argument that everything the good guys do falls under the category ‘counter-jinxes/defensive spells’ is weakening every chapter (liiiiisten to Slinkhard! ;) - what on earth is this countering? Are the examiners hexing the students, or what?

* Harry raised his wand, looked directly at Umbridge and imagined her being sacked. 'Expecto patronum!'

So a Patronus doesn’t have to be of a memory, necessarily. (I guess this gives weight to all those fics where they’re prompted by blowjobs or fantasies or that shitey bit in the PoA film where Harry holds off the fake dementor with his fake memory, tm m15m.)
I’m also so glad that Harry’s happiness has been confirmed as being caused directly by other’s suffering, as opposed to earlier, when it was Ron and Hermione. You’ve come a long way, baby, backwards.

* As Harry passed Umbridge who was watching coolly…their eyes met. There was a nasty smile playing around her wide, slack mouth, but he did not care.

Why’s Umbridge smirking? Because she’s planning to fire Hagrid, I presume - does she know how much he and Harry wuv each other, then?

* Unless he was very much mistaken (and he was not planning on telling anybody, in case he was), he had just achieved an 'Outstanding' OWL.

See how unlike James Harry is? James told his friends his predictions, whereas Harry can never be wrong in the eyes of his, and so won’t. That’s much better!
Heh. See, I can’t see how Harry wouldn’t come across as a falsely!modest!James - he smirks over how perfect he is, then pretends reserve (could someone so shy handle everyone staring at them as frequently as it happens to Harry?) and only accepts praise before staging another tantrum. At least James knew he was arrogant.

* Harry could see Hagrid in the distance, teaching a class on the edge of the Forest. He was trying to guess what creatures they were examining - he thought it must be unicorns, because the boys seemed to be standing back a little.

Clutching their limbs and bleeding profusely

* …Hermione…looking thoroughly bad-tempered…'I mis-translated ehwaz,' said Hermione furiously. 'It means partnership, not defence; I mixed it up with eihwaz.'

Apparently, if you care about the Trio, there’s all kinds of subtext and discussion to be had over this line, partnership, defence and their various meanings, but I’m afraid I don’t.

* …
He was glad Hermione had not been in the Hall at the time (of his mistake) and neglected to mention it to her afterwards.

Harry laughed just as Hermione came running up behind them. He stopped laughing at once, in case it annoyed her.
'Well, I think I've done all right in Arithmancy' she said, and Harry and Ron both sighed with relief…

Harry agreed to test Hermione…but regretted it almost at once; she was very agitated and kept snatching the book back from him to check that she had got the answer...right, finally hitting him hard on the nose with the sharp edge…
'Why don't you just do it yourself?' he said firmly, handing the book back to her, his eyes watering.
Hermione...seemed determined to be in a towering temper, and she swept off towards the girls' dormitories, banging the door behind her.

'Such a lovely, sweet-tempered girl,' said Ron, very quietly.
Hermione's bad mood persisted for most of the weekend, though Harry and Ron found it quite easy to ignore...
'Ah well,' said Ron lazily, 'that's only one mistake, isn't it, you'll still get -'
'Oh, shut up!' said Hermione angrily. 'It could be the one mistake that makes the difference between a pass and a fail.’

Gosh, the Trio are such a healthy friendship, aren’t they? I’m, like, totally jealous. They’re just like family!
And that family is the Mansons.

* …'Only four exams left,' said Parvati Patil wearily as they headed back to Gryffindor common room.
'Only!' said Hermione snappishly. 'I've got Arithmancy and it’s probably the toughest subject there is!'
Nobody was foolish enough to snap back, so she was unable to vent her spleen on any of them and was reduced to telling off some first-years for giggling too loudly in the common room.

Filch/Hermione OTP!111 (Filch was…skulking red eyed through the corridors, lunging out at unsuspecting students and trying to put them in detention for things like "breathing loudly' and "looking happy." - CoS)

* ‘…And what's more, someone's put another Niffler in Umbridge's office…Umbridge is shrieking her head off - by the sound of it, it tried to take a chunk out of her leg -'
'Good,' said Harry and Ron together.

God, if that were Umbridge herself or even Malfoy or Snape saying that, we’d have ten sentences detailing how cruel/gloating/sadistic/vicious they were.

* 'It is not good!' said Hermione hotly. 'She thinks it’s Hagrid doing it, remember? And we do not want Hagrid chucked out!'

We don’t? I forget why. Last I heard, who could blame Umbridge if they kicked him out? Seriously, it does seem as Hermione has progressed rather rapidly from being exhausted and angry with Hagrid at the beginning of this chapter to now wildly defending him (even comparing their loss of him later in the chapter to Dumbledore’s exit, and we all know Hermione’s opinion of the Big D) more so than Harry or Ron. (It's Hermione who cries out when she sees Hagrid being Stunned, and who is 'tearful' and angry.)

* 'He's teaching at the moment; she can't blame him,' said Harry, gesturing out of the window.
'Oh, you're so naive sometimes, Harry. You really think Umbridge will wait for proof?' said Hermione…

Heh. This seems to be a fairly similar line to 'You're so naive,' said Ron, 'you think just because you're all honourable and trustworthy -'

Women then obey the strictures that men set up to the letter without understanding the implied spirit behind the strictures - for all Umbridge’s claims that all she needs is “a shred of evidence” against Harry and company, it is Hermione that finds the idea that Umbridge will “wait for proof” to be ludicrous.

* …Potions…the exam which Harry had been looking forward to least - and which he was sure would be the downfall of his ambitions to become an Auror. Sure enough, he found the written paper difficult, though he thought he might have got full marks on the question about Polyjuice Potion; he could describe its effects accurately, having taken it illegally in his second year.

Why are they asking a question about Polyjuice Potion when they apparently haven’t studied them in class, and it’s restricted to upperclassmen, anyway?

Anyway. What a lovely thing for Harry! I’m so glad he got rewarded for his selfless work in drugging and invading the privacy of his fellow students. Perhaps he can photograph his work on the train for extra credit next time? Or just bring in Bellatrix Lestrange? ‘This question’s on how to counter-Crucio someone! Ooh, I’m gonna pass with flying colours!’ And why didn't Hermione alert the examiners about her hex on Marietta? She could have got a bonus point!

* The afternoon practical was not as dreadful as he had expected it to be. With Snape absent from the proceedings, he found that he was much more relaxed than he usually was while making potions. Neville, who was sitting very near Harry, also looked happier than Harry had ever seen him during a Potions class…Harry corked his sample flask feeling that he might not have achieved a good grade but he had, with luck, avoided a fail.

See? All Harry’s problems are caused by other people, since he is naturally perfect. Minus Snape’s evil influence, his inherent talent at everything in the world ever can shine through! Hooray! I’m so relieved, I thought for a moment there that Harry might have had an actual flaw or lack of skill at something! *exhales*

* …Students were required to correctly identify the Knarl hidden among a dozen hedgehogs…then demonstrate correct handling of a Bowtruckle; feed and clean out a Fire Crab without sustaining serious burns; and choose…the diet they would give a sick unicorn.

Oh, what? When have they ever learnt anything that useful in COMC? (Mind you, I find the entire subject fairly pointless - it seems more suitable for an advanced course. I mean, Muggles don’t learn how to feed, identify, handle and clean tigers, do they? Or even household animals.) Grubbly-Plank must have made up an awful lot of work in an awfully short time is all I’m saying.

* Even by Harry's low standards in Divination, the exam went very badly.
'Well, we were always going to fail that one,' said Ron gloomily.

I don’t know, I wouldn't be surprised if they passed Divinations, since we've had the 'I'm sure we're going to do badly!' bit, plus Harry’s and Ron's uncanny knack of predicting things. It'd be so JKR if they actually had the perfect attitude for it, and like, Parvati/Lavender did worse under Firenze's teaching.

* 'We shouldn't have taken the stupid subject in the first place,' said Harry.

Nanny boo hoo, it’s the subjects fault! A bad workman always blames his tools. *makes punchable ‘superior’ expression at book* ;)

* 'And from now on, I don't care if my tea-leaves spell die, Ron, die…'

Blah blah foreshadowing cakes?

* …A massive figure roaring and brandishing his fists, surrounded by six people, all of whom…seemed to be attempting to Stun him…yet somehow they seemed to be bouncing off him; he was still upright and still, as far as Harry could see, fighting.
Cries and yells echoed across the grounds; a man yelled, 'Be reasonable, Hagrid!'
Hagrid roared, 'Reasonable be damned, yeh won' take me like this, Dawlish!'

Hagrid gave a howl of fury, lifted the culprit bodily from the ground and threw him; the man flew what looked like ten feet and did not get up again. Hermione gasped, both hands over her mouth; Harry looked round at Ron and saw that he, too, was looking scared. None of them had ever seen Hagrid in a real temper before.

Hagrid took two massive swipes at his closest attackers; judging by their immediate collapse, they had been knocked cold.

Reasonable be damned and kill all cowards. I wonder if that’s on the Gryffindor crest?

* Harry could see the tiny outline of Fang, attempting to defend Hagrid, leaping repeatedly at the wizards surrounding him until a Stunning Spell caught him and he fell to the ground.

They hurt a puppy? Subtle, JKR.

* Hermione, Parvati and Lavender all screamed.

Of course.

* ‘How dare you!' the figure shouted as she ran. '…Leave him alone! Alone, I say!' said Professor McGonagall's voice through the darkness. 'On what grounds are you attacking him? He has done nothing, nothing to warrant such -'
…The figures…shot no fewer than four Stunners at Professor McGonagall…The red beams collided with her; for a moment she looked luminous and glowed an eerie red, then she lifted right off her feet, landed hard on her back, and moved no more.

As I mentioned, I was spoiled pre-OotP about the death, but I still got my hopes up here. *sighs*

* 'Galloping gargoyles!' shouted Professor Tofty, who also seemed to have forgotten the exam completely. 'Not so much as a warning! Outrageous behaviour!'

But McGonagall was provoking them! You get badly injured if you don’t shut up, and besides, the Wizarding World is a rough and tumble kind of place, and requires assidous counter-hexing and self-defence.
(Not to mention, nobody has ever warned anyone in the entire five book series before going on to hex them. It would kind of negate the point, wouldn’t it? I guess because they’re law enforcement officials, they have a responsibility to, but then since Aurors are allowed to use the Unforgiveables on suspects, I don’t see why there’s moral outrage just because they’re turning on people we like, rather than threatening Muggles, like later. Oh well…I’m sure when Harry, Ron and the various members of the DA achieve Aurorhood, they’ll provide an example about fair and just behaviour.)
We should totally have an Umbridge and gang POV chapter, where it's all about how X Auror didn't see Y Auror in the corner of his eye, and anyway, they were only rising in Umbridge's defense, and by the time they'd all finished, McGonagall was on the ground and knocked out, what could they do? (With optional dialogue about how they can't wait to see Dumbledore's face when he sees his second in command, and possibly treading on her while she's prone.)

* …Hagrid…with…Fang's limp body draped around his shoulders.

Hee. That sounds almost as amusing a visual as Harry cradling Dobby.

* …Umbridge sent one last Stunning Spell after him but it missed; and Hagrid, running full-pelt…disappeared into the darkness.

…Even Hermione is so upset with Umbridge at one point that she has difficulty talking due to “rage.”
Emotion in females leaves them incoherent, incapacitated, incomprehensible. Frequently, it renders them inactive and passive (as with Mrs. Weasley, Hermione, Hannah, Trelawney or Cho.) Not so for men. Harry’s anger is a self-righteous one… (it) enables him to be a hero. When Hagrid gets angry at those who are attempting to stun him, it is what enables him to break free and run.

* ‘That evil woman!' gasped Hermione, who seemed to be having difficulty talking due to rage. ‘Trying to sneak up on Hagrid in the dead of night!'
'She clearly wanted to avoid another scene like Trelawney's,' said Ernie Macmillan sagely, squeezing over to join them.

I thought last time she was evil for manufacturing a scene like Trelawney’s and enjoying it, and now she’s evil for doing the opposite, too. Hmm.

* 'Hagrid did well, didn't he?' said Ron, who looked more alarmed than impressed.

As opposed to who? Hermione and Ernie didn’t seem particularly impressed either. Anyway, more ambigious Ron is either a big coward or just doesn’t value mindless violence clues, much like in the Christmas chapter.

* '…But poor Professor McGonagall…four Stunners straight in the chest and she's not exactly young, is she?'

So…Stunning spells can be dangerous, huh? But the DA learn those, I’m sure they wouldn’t learn any counter-hexes that could be potentially fatal!

* 'Dreadful, dreadful,' said Ernie, shaking his head pompously. 'Well, I'm off to bed. Night, all.'

Hee! Normally I dislike Ernie, but that kind of made me warm to him!: ‘Sad. Oh well. Bye!’

* 'But why sack Hagrid now?' asked Angelina Johnson, shaking her head. 'Its not like Trelawney; he's been teaching much better than usual this year!'

Which is a big change from before, when he was teaching perfectly but was targeted by mean racists who were looking to get him fired.
How could Hagrid improve, when he was already good at his job? *puts fingers in ears and goes LALALA*

* 'Umbridge hates part-humans,' said Hermione bitterly, flopping down…'She was always going to try and get Hagrid out.'

Well, that doesn’t really answer the question of ‘why now’, and neither does ‘He’s Dumbledore’s BFF.’

* 'And she thought Hagrid was putting Nifflers in her office,' piped up Katie Bell.
'Oh, blimey,' said Lee Jordan, covering his mouth. 'It’s me who's been putting the Nifflers in her office…'
'She'd have sacked him anyway' said Dean. 'He was too close to Dumbledore.'
‘That's true,' said Harry, sinking into an armchair beside Hermione's.

Ha! Yeah, don’t feel bad or anything. Sure, you gave the authorities a reason to sack the guy, but he’d have gone eventually, anyway. Could say the same for Malfoy, of course.

I like how almost everyone is more upset over Hagrid leaving than McGonagall’s serious injury.

* 'I just hope Professor McGonagall's all right,' said Lavender tearfully.

Aw. Lavendar seems a really soft-hearted girl. What’s she doing in the lions’ den?

* Harry felt wide awake; the image of Hagrid sprinting away into the dark was haunting him; he was so angry with Umbridge he could not think of a punishment bad enough for her, though Ron's suggestion of having her fed to a box of starving Blast-Ended Skrewts had its merits. He fell asleep contemplating hideous revenges…

Hee. Everytime I come to a line about Harry’s LUST FOR BLOOD or Hermione’s powertrips, I wonder if JKR’s writing a very clever parody, or whether she actually expects us to like these characters. I can be a fairly angry person myself, and I’ve certainly gone to bed mad, especially in my teens, but I don’t think I ever fell asleep to fantasises of my enemies’ deaths. (Of course, I’m sure I never suffered as much as Harry!) It’s actually something I can imagine Snape or Malfoy doing.

* …He read through some of the three-and a-half-feet-high stack of notes that Hermione had lent him.

Does anyone doubt that Hermione would be absolutely outraged at the idea of anyone else lending their notes to a friend?

* …he gazed blankly at the back of Parvati's head again. If he could only perform Legilimency and open a window in the back of her head…

Aw. I’m so glad (and totally shocked) that Harry’s first desire to use Legilmency is prompted by a wish to abuse it. I sure can’t wait until he inevitably does master it, I’m sure we’ll get lots of comedy interludes of him finding out everyone’s embarrassing secrets.

* …no time to explore, he must hurry…He jogged the last few feet to the third door…
…Harry's stomach contracted with fear…with excitement…

Is this Voldie or Harry? If it’s the former, why is he scared and wanting to explore? And if it’s the latter, why is he excited?

* A high, cold voice empty of any human kindness…

I’m wondering how high Voldemort’s voice could possibly be.

* Very slowly, his arms trembling, the man on the ground raised his shoulders a few inches and lifted his head. His face was bloodstained and gaunt, twisted in pain yet rigid with defiance…'You'll have to kill me,' whispered Sirius.

Heh. Whoever manufactures this vision got Sirius down to a tee.
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