The Many Father Figures of Harry Potter

Hey everyone!  So both with this month and with rereading the series, I’m over halfway done!  I’m reading Order of the Phoenix right now and I’ve only just gotten past Harry’s trial, so I’m still making progress but it’s going to naturally take some time.  This is the fattest book, after all.

I think it’s by the time we get to this book that we really start seeing who has become part of Harry’s surrogate family.  I think it’s time we talk about his father figures in his life.

Harry’s Surrogate Mother

But first, I want to give Mrs. Weasley some love.  She adopted Harry right from the beginning, knitting him a sweater for his first Christmas at Hogwarts even though she’d only met him for like 2 minutes.  The fact that he was a friend of Ron’s and didn’t come from a good home was all she needed to know.  From that moment on, Harry was an honorary son to her.

It’s been kind of interesting to watch her throughout the series and how she interacts with Harry.  She definitely cares about him at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets when the boys bring him to the Burrow, but I think her esteem for him grows after he saved Ginny.  From that point on, I see her as being more protective.  After Sirius escapes Azkaban, he constantly argues with Mr. Weasley about how much Harry should be allowed to know; Harry’s a child to her, and one she wants to do her best to protect.  He will always be a child to her.

But her real time to shine has been at the end of Goblet of Fire and the beginning of Order of the Phoenix.  Molly has, by this point, fully adopted Harry into her heart (and her home, if she could).  The Weasleys showing up as Harry’s “family” to watch the final task is sweet and more than a little emotional, especially as Harry constantly thinks of himself as being alone in life.  After the task, her first concern was fighting to find out where he was (as Moody was attempting to kill him) and protecting Harry from Sirius, who transformed from a dog to a man in the hospital wing to be with Harry.  And now, in Order of the Phoenix, she is the one voice who keeps insisting that Harry is a child, not an adult; he shouldn’t get to know everything about what’s happening.

And to an extent, I agree with her.  I see that she understands that Harry shouldn’t have to deal with these big complicated issues like Voldemort and people attacking him in the papers.  She wants him to retain some of his innocence and still be able to be a child for a while longer.  But it’s also kind of naïve of her to think this will work because the truth is that Harry is in a completely different situation than any of the other five children she’s raised past the age of 15.  I think sometimes she struggles to accept that.  She wants Harry to be normal like everyone else, but he’s just not.

Sirius

Perhaps the most obvious of father figures for Harry is his godfather, Sirius.  I admit that he’s one of my favorite characters because my heart bleeds for him.  However, I will also be one to admit that he’s not exactly the best role model for Harry, as Harry sometimes even admits himself.  Sirius acts rashly a lot of the time and, as Hermione and Mrs. Weasley note, Sirius does have a tendency to act like Harry is James rather than his own person.  (Meaning he acts like Harry is his contemporary rather than someone 20 years younger that he should be caring for.)

I get why.  He’s lonely.  He wants a friend and Harry is nearly the twin for Sirius’s best friend.  It is an odd moment when you see someone who is basically a clone of the person you trusted most.  And while it doesn’t excuse Sirius from doing what he’s done, it does help explain why he runs so hot and cold sometimes with Harry.

Mr. Weasley

Arthur Weasley is probably by far the most constant father figure Harry has throughout the series.  Like Molly, he welcomes Harry into the family very early on.  I’m always very impressed by the fact that, even though they complain about not having much money (almost always out of hearing of Harry), they never complain about having Harry or Hermione around for weeks at a time.

I haven’t gotten to this part yet in Order of the Phoenix, but obviously the attack on Arthur is heartbreaking for the Weasley family and Harry.  Rowling herself admitted that she couldn’t quite take away this father figure from Harry’s life, and I’m glad.  Arthur is one of the few adult characters Harry can always rely on, no matter what.  He really needs that.

Hagrid

I saw someone say this recently on Tumblr and I kind of think there’s some validity to it.  While Hagrid’s a bit unconventional as far as father figures go, he certainly always wants what’s best for Harry.  He’s Harry’s biggest cheerleader (pun intended) and he always has faith that Harry is going to overcome every obstacle in his way.  This kind of confidence helps Harry so much in his life.  It’s as simple as knowing that Hagrid believes in him and he doesn’t want to disappoint Hagrid, of all people.  Hagrid’s faith in Harry is akin to Harry’s faith that Dumbledore will always be able to save the day.  It’s kind of inspiring, really.

And when Hagrid’s gone (like in Chamber of Secrets or at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix), Harry has a little bit of a melt-down.  He fixates on it.  Where has Hagrid gone?  How long will he be gone?  Is he ok?  It shows that he cares about him a lot.

I also think what makes this relationship different than Harry’s to either Arthur or Sirius is that Harry sometimes has to take care of Hagrid.  Hagrid’s not always the brightest or the most competent at most things, so it does fall to Harry, Ron, and Hermione to sort of be his emotional support and stand up for him.

So it’s a dysfunctional relationship between them.  Aren’t a lot of them that way?

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Top Ten Characters I Love to Hate

#HogwartsOctober (9)Hello everyone!  Let’s make this day of #HogwartsOctober count by talking about those characters that we despise–but that also may be kind of charming in some weird way.  We hate them, but we love having them as the villain.  It’s a weird emotion, to be sure, but what’s not to love about watching the Trio triumph over them?  Nothing.  It’s that much fun.

So let’s see who made the list!

Top Ten Characters I Love to Hate

10. Dolores Umbridge

Truly, I nearly didn’t include her on this list for one very simple reason: I hate her guts with a fiery passion that would probably shock the likes of Satan himself.  There’s no “love to hate” here; I very much want to try medieval torture techniques on her and see how long until she forgets how to giggle.  But it was because of this raging hatred that I felt I had to include her on this list, at least nominally.  We all hate her.  I’ve never once met anyone or seen anything ever that shows any support of her.

9. Peter Pettigrew

Peter also belongs to the Umbridge club–I want to strap him to a nuclear bomb and see what tortures he experiences while being blown up.  Then I’d revive him (or put the pieces back together) and do it again.  [Side note: apparently I’m in a very vindictive and creative mood today…]  Peter committed perhaps one of the ultimate betrayals and I don’t think there’s any way to forgive him for that.

8. Percy Weasley

Ok, I truly do have some love for Percy.  He’s a bigheaded git for much of the early books, but I don’t know if I actually ever hated him (especially compared to the level of the previous two).  Still, he certainly fell out of favor for a time.  But he does redeem himself by the end of the series and I really do like him for that.

7. Cornelius Fudge

Fudge is…pretty much your typical politician.  And there are lots of icky feelings attached to that.  He tries in the early books to take action when he’s required to, even though it’s probably not the best course of action he could take.  The worst of it, though, is when he keeps denying that Voldemort is back and starts slandering Dumbledore and Harry.  That pushed him into this club.

6. Voldemort

Voldemort is completely a horrible being.  (I’m not even going to dignify him by calling him human because I’m pretty sure by the end that he’s not.)  He’s committed many atrocities and destroyed many lives in one way or another.  But even so, I sometimes admire his cleverness.  His ambition truly knows no bounds and he accomplishes what he sets out to do.  Not that I didn’t want him to die in a horrible, painful, scarring way.  I totally did.

5. Professor Quirrell

Quirrell is another one that I actually kind of like for his cunning.  To have pretended all year long to be this meek, stuttering, mousy teacher while all the time knowing he was stronger than everyone around him without anyone suspecting him (except Snape)…that’s some talent right there.  He deserved everything he got, but you can’t deny he had some crazy dedication.

4. The Dursleys

Now we get to the good ones.  The Dursleys.  We all hate them, but they aren’t (usually) horrible people.  Sure, they can get me into a good rage because of the ways they treat Harry, but I also kind of understand what they are going through, being asked to care for a child they never expected to have.  Not everyone can handle that, and the state of the relationship between Petunia and Lily pretty much predisposed the Dursleys to hate Harry.  He threatens everything they value.  So even though I think their methods are craptastic, I can see where they are coming from.

3. Severus Snape

I know that there are many who have forgiven Snape in light of the final book, but I will not be one of those people.  (We will discuss this soon, I promise you.)  Snape is nothing but a bitter bully who sometimes has good intentions.  But he purposely singles out Harry and Neville, both of whom have earned my undying respect.  He insults Hermione, flagrantly favors Malfoy, and unfairly targets the Gryffindor house as a whole, all because of the Marauders.  As Dumbledore has said, it is our choices that show who we truly are.  Snape may have redeeming moments (trying to save Harry from a jinxed broom during his first Quidditch match, trying to stop Quirrell, teaching Harry occlumency, etc.), but he has never put Harry’s best interests above his own.  Or even the best interests of most of his students.  I truly do hate him for the way he treats Neville.

2. Gilderoy Lockhart

I do love this bombastic egocentric buffoon.  It’s a curse, though.  I adore Kenneth Branaugh’s version of him in the movies, where he is clearly egotistical and incompetent, but still somehow charming.  The book version is much more annoying.  He manages to twist everything back to himself in a way that is infuriating.  It seriously takes it to a new level, and I’m glad I’ve never met anyone quite that bad.  It’s really an idiot underneath all the makeup and hair gel, but he’s still likable.  Except for the fact that–twice–he was going to let Ginny die in the Chamber.  That’s really not ok.

1. Draco Malfoy

Oh, Draco.  Harry realized Draco was his arch-enemy at twelve.  (I saw a Tumblr thing recently that commented on how Extra Harry for picking Draco as his arch-enemy.  Not Voldemort–Draco.  I thought it was hilarious.)  Anyway, Draco definitely antagonizes where he can and can be full-out nasty when things don’t go his way.  I love watching Harry beat him.  But I also understand older Draco, who ends up way over his head by the end of the series.  I do have a good amount of sympathy for him there, because I don’t think he fully understood what would be asked of him or what that would actually mean.  I think he liked the status and pleasing his father–the actual Dark Arts was not what he truly wanted.

What about you?  Who do you love to hate in the series?

Peeves-ish Pranks: My Favorite Harry Potter Parodies (AKA “A Very Potter Musical”)

#HogwartsOctober (3)

Hey everyone!  For today’s special post, I’m talking about my favorite Harry Potter parodies.  Peeves would be so proud of StarKid, I swear.

It’s called A Very Potter Musical (followed by the two sequels A Very Potter Sequel and A Very Potter Senior Year).  In 2008ish, a group of college kids (who now call their acting group StarKid, from a line in AVPM) got together and wrote a Harry Potter parody musical.  I will be the first to admit that it takes a certain sense of humor to fully appreciate what they’re doing, but I love it.  (I’ve shown it to other people and they haven’t understood it…so…yeah.)

Each musical is kind of a mash-up of different books.  AVPM is a combination of Sorcerer’s Stone, Goblet of Fire, and Deathly Hallows.  AVPS is Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix.  AVPSY is most Chamber of Secrets, with a bit of Deathly Hallows thrown in.

But I’m not the only one who likes it!  Here’s a Buzzfeed article, 19 Reasons Why “A Very Potter Musical” is Timeless.

Why I Like It

First of all, I’m a huge fan of musicals.  They have always been an important part of my life.  So by putting my favorite book series to music, I was able to combine my love of both in one place.

I also love how they completely overhaul everything you thought you knew about Harry Potter and warp the characters as you knew them.

Harry becomes a popularity snob who always goes around expecting things to happen because “I’m Harry Potter!”

Draco (played by the incomparable Lauren Lopez) becomes a laughing-stock because of his outlandish claims about going to Pigfarts (IT’S. ON. MARS.  And he needs a ROCKET SHIP.).

Dumbledore becomes a very open gay man with an obscene love of Zac Efron and High School Musical.

But my absolute, bar none, favorite is the plot line involving Quirrell and Voldemort.  AVPM imagines what that relationship must have been like, with another person living on the back of your head.  There are interesting conundrums (like how you can’t sleep on your back without smothering the other person) to pure comedy about hearing everything the other person hears.

It’s utterly ridiculous in an absurdist kind of way (and more of an adult/college type of humor–profanity and dirty jokes abound).  AVPM has very little in the way of budgets, so it requires a lot of audience imagination to “play along” with what’s happening.  Sometimes they intentionally make it even funnier, but other times it’s just the lack of props that makes it funny in itself.  You start believing it because they believe it.

What’s fantastic is that it still remains true to many of the themes of the Harry Potter series we love so much.  Harry realizing he’s not alone in all of this.  Harry realizing that whether he likes it or not, it’s his responsibility to stop Voldemort.  Harry realizing that Hogwarts and his friends are his true home.

Some of the scenes and songs really will move you to tears.  I’ve been watching AVPM and AVPS for nearly 10 years now and they can still hit me in the feels.  I’m laughing and crying the whole time.

I only just recently saw AVPSY for the first time and it takes a much darker turn than the previous two.  It was actually kind of hard to watch at times because the themes were partially what I was trying to avoid, what with everything that’s been on the news in the last month.  So it was a bit difficult, but I was also laughing my way through many parts.  I may have even screamed in excitement a few times.

Some of My Favorite Moments

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Oh, 90s snacks.  What a blast from the past.

"Are you kids ready to fight a DRAAAAGON? Of course you aren't, you're just children - what the hell am I thinking?"

So iconic, it’s ridiculous.

"Dumbledore? Pfft! What an old coot! He's nothing like Rumbleroar. Rumbleroar is the Headmaster at Pigfarts. He's a lion. Who can talk."

“You need a rocket ship!  Do you have a rocket ship, Potter?”  (This is the moment where I admit that I have AVPM and the first half of AVPS memorized to ridiculous degrees.)

"Come on, I'm tired. Can't we just be Death Eaters?"

DRACO ROLLS.  ALL THE TIME.  And it’s surprisingly hilarious.  I seriously cannot watch the real Draco Malfoy seriously anymore because of this.  Lauren Lopez has ruined him in this way.  But I love every minute of it.

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The reason the Dursleys told Harry he had a scar.  Sounds like something the Dursleys would come up with.

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Hehe, I love this unexpected lightness in an otherwise serious scene.

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(They’re referring to Umbridge.  I’m not even going to spoil why Umbridge is so scary because it’s TOTALLY AWESOME.)

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(Harry hears the Basilisk in the walls.)  That was hilarious.

 

I could keep going on and on, but it’s just so fabulous.  When I’m in a bad mood, it’s so easy to just turn this on and immediately start to feel better.  It’s so goofy and absurd that it’s impossible to stay upset while it’s on.

I hope you give it a try if you’ve never seen it.  It’s admittedly very long (at about 3 hours each, but that’s how musicals typically go) but it’s a lot of fun, even if you just watch it in chunks.

If you’ve seen AVPM, what are your favorite parts?  I love FINDING others who have enjoyed it too!  Comment below!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book)

Image result for goblet of fire bookHey everyone!  I bought the box set a couple of years ago of this entire series and, now that I’ve read all of the illustrated versions releases so far, I’ve started in on these.  And I must say, I’m digging the covers.

So we’re approaching the point where I start forgetting what happened in the books.  (I think Order of the Phoenix may be the last.)  I’m getting very interested to see what I remember vs. what actually happens vs. the movie.

There were definitely some differences between the movie and the book here.  Some that I even wish the movie had done differently.

Let’s talk about the Quidditch World Cup.  First of all, this is such an awesome cultural moment for Harry, to be able to see this many witches and wizards in one place–families, teenagers, middle-aged men and women, etc.–and to really be able to compare his life to what someone like Ron grew up with.  I love that he’s able to experience this.  Not to mention it’s a great game and our one moment of Quidditch for this book.

Of course, it’s the aftermath that stands out the most in my head.  It was a scene I was looking forward to reading.  And I kind of wish the movie had drawn that out more.  It’s definitely creepy in the movie that these people are walking around wearing masks and all, but the book is so much scarier.  You really need that disgust factor of watching the Death Eaters levitating the Muggle family to understand just how demonic they are.  You need to understand how fearful everyone is of anything to do with Voldemort to truly appreciate the amount of trouble Harry nearly got into for his wand being used to conjure the Dark Mark.

Which leads me to my current gripe against the movies: they do a horrible job portraying the fear the wizarding world has of Voldemort.

In the books, every time Harry says “Voldemort,” someone flinches or shrieks or gasps.  Everyone refers to him as You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  How long does that last in the movies?  Not very long.  They eventually seem to drop it, which means characters who would faint before uttering “Volde–” are now saying it calmly in the movies.  It’s kind of irking me now.  Like, that’s the entire undertone of the whole series.

And I know he’s a character I’m supposed to dislike, but I can’t help but actually like Barty Crouch’s turn as Moody.  Ok, yes, there is the tiny fact that he’s been sowing the seeds of Harry’s demise from the very beginning, but he’s also kind of…helpful.  Despite all of his flaws, he does actually help prepare Harry for so much of what he later encounters.  By teaching him to throw of the Imperius Curse, he actually aids Harry in his battle against Voldemort.  (I’m sure that was unintentional on Crouch’s part.)  By helping him with the first task, he forced Harry to learn how to do the Summoning charm, a charm Harry has extreme need of throughout the rest of the series.  By aiding Harry throughout all of the tasks, he ensures Harry’s survival and helps his confidence.

Also, he’s one of Harry’s few professors who has ever treated him and his classmates as adults.  Lupin was another, to an extent.  Both of them actually taught the kids things they need to know to survive.  And even though he had horrible intentions in the end, Crouch did actually teach them a lot.  Even if his methods were probably a bit unethical at times.  He protected Harry 9 times out of 10, and for whatever reason, I like him for that.

I also think the movie should have made the maze as creepy as it was in the book.  It’s already somewhat creepy in the movie, but the danger isn’t there in quite the same way.  What Cedric in particular goes through in the maze should have received a little more attention.

Which brings me to my final point.  I have a deep love/respect/appreciation for Cedric.  He was a truly good guy who wanted to do the right thing.  He was just as brave as Harry, or maybe even braver because he volunteered for the Tournament.  With a strong sense of justice and a charming personality, Cedric truly could have made a difference in the world if his life hadn’t been cut short.  And I think he would have been one of the few to believe Harry when he said Voldemort was back, even if he hadn’t been there.  Unfortunately, his life was snuffed out too soon, another of the innocent who got caught in the cross-hairs of Voldemort’s ambitions.

This book is quite good.  And while I’m looking forward to reading the next book, I’m also dreading it.  Two words: Dolores Umbridge.

Reread Reactions #5: Harry Deserves More Love

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Hey!  I’m kind of curious what you think I’m going to be talking about with this particular title.  I mean, of course Harry deserves more love in his life, after losing basically everyone he’s close to and being forced to live with the Dursleys every summer, but that’s not it.  And I do actually like Ginny, so it’s not that either.

I think that Harry deserves more love from us, his fans.

I was scrolling through Pinterest one day after I was starting this whole #HogwartsOctober feature and I saw a picture from Tumblr pop up that kind of took me back.

I’m paraphrasing, but it basically said, “If you ask someone who their favorite Harry Potter character is, have you noticed that no one ever says Harry Potter?”

Duuuuuuuudddddeeeeee…..

It was something of an embarrassing revelation.  I mean, I only put Harry as #4 of my own list of favorite characters.  (I had to look it back up because I wasn’t even positive I’d put him on the list.)  And it’s true that even when I talk to people who have read the series, they mention other characters.  Neville.  Hermione.  Luna.  Fred and George.  Dumbledore.  Never is it Harry.

My Theory About This

I have a theory about why this is the case.  Whether or not it’s an accurate theory, I can’t exactly say.  But it works from my perspective, so maybe it works for others.

I think it comes down to the genius of J.K. Rowling’s writing style.

Hear me out.  When we read these stories, we get completely sucked into the world.  Harry is our eyes and ears for this world, so in many ways, we feel like we are Harry.  Even though the story is written in 3rd person, I always feel like I’m totally drawn into the world.  I almost forget that Harry’s really even there because I feel like it’s all happening to me.

That’s one possibility anyway.  I mean, half the time I legitimately forget that Harry’s a character at all.  I think of the others (Sirius, Ron, McGonagall) because of how much of an impact they have on Harry and us as the readers.  That’s why we tend to fall in love with these other characters; because Harry loves them.

There’s another theory too, one that I can sometimes see.

There’s the argument that Harry’s really stupid at times.  I’m almost finished with Goblet of Fire and Barty Crouch (disguised as Moody) talks about Harry’s frequent stupidity and how Crouch had to keep stepping in to lead Harry in the right direction.  He calls Harry proud and independent, in the ways he refused to ask for help from those around him.  Of course, Crouch is a bitter and horrible human being so his perspective really counts for nothing.  But he does have a point that at times, Harry chooses not to say something or not to ask for help when he clearly needs to.  Or he doesn’t make the connections to things happening right in front of him.  Sometimes he’s blinded by his own prejudices (*cough* Malfoy *cough*).

Why Harry Deserves More Respect

First of all, what I just listed in the previous paragraph, I want you to think about what you were like as a 14 year old.  Kind of stupid yourself, right?  8th grader, maybe freshman in high school?  Yeah, those probably aren’t your brightest moments, are they?

Give Harry some slack.  He’s making a lot of the same mistakes we made as a kid too.

I’m finding as I reread that I’m actually growing more protective of Harry.  I’m becoming more like Mrs. Weasley, wanting to just give Harry a hug and protect him from the world.  Oh crap…and I knit sweaters too…yikes, that got a lot closer to her than I thought it would when I started that sentence…

ANYWAY, Harry deserves more respect because he’s putting up with (and successfully defeating, I might add) danger all around him.

At eleven, he’d spend 10 years living with emotionally abusive relatives.  He discovered he belonged to a world where he is so famous people recognize him on sight.  (Ask any child actor: this is very hard to deal with.)  He, with the help of Hermione and Ron, work their way through deadly challenges for Harry to face down a teacher he trusted who happens to be hosting Voldemort on the back of his head.  Harry nearly died then, but he was willing to if it stopped Quirrell and Voldemort.  At eleven.

At twelve, he’s watching classmates become petrified by an unknown monster, which threatens to close the school (coincidentally the only home he’s ever known).  He’s getting massive amounts of backlash from his ability to speak Parseltongue and people purposely avoid him, thinking he’s the heir of Slytherin.  He questions his entire identity as a Gryffindor.  Oh, and did I mention he nearly died again that year?  But again, he was willing to do it to save Ginny.

At thirteen, his every move is being scrutinized by teachers and adults who don’t want to treat him like a rational human being because they don’t want to tell him Sirius is out for him.  He is left out of things like Hogsmeade and becomes more isolated from his friends. Dementors are making him relive his worst moments over and over again.  Oh, and yeah, he almost died again.  This time it was a combination of dementor attack and potential werewolf attack.

At fourteen, he’s entered into the Triwizard Tournament against his will.  He battles dragons, mer-people, and a maze of horrors.  He puts up with Rita Skeeter publishing trash about him and his reputation.  He watched a classmate die.  He experienced 2 Unforgivable Curses in a single night.  And, once again, Harry knew there was a very strong possibility that he could die at the hands of Voldemort.  This is the first time I really saw him embrace that idea though.  Like if he was going to die, he was going to go down swinging.  And he was going to make Voldemort pay in the process.

It goes on and on and on.

It’s not very often that Harry complains about the burden placed on his shoulders.  Sure, sometimes he does.  Who wouldn’t?  It’s not fair that he has to put up with all of this.  It’s not fair that a number of people truly have it out for him (Umbridge, Snape, Death Eaters), even when he hasn’t done anything to them personally.

But the moment he’s asked to step up, he does it.  He may not know what he’s doing, but when he’s called to action, he’s going to do his best to save those who need him.  He doesn’t even need to be asked.  He will sacrifice himself to protect anyone who needs it.

I’m finding that the older I get, the more I admire Harry.  He’s fascinating in his complexity.  He tackles such big things at such a young age and I do not envy him in the slightest.

Harry is becoming my hero in a way he never was when I was a teenager.  I appreciate him much more now that I’ve faced/still facing my own Voldemorts in life.

Reread Reactions #4: Relating to Real Life

#HogwartsOctober (7)

Hey everyone!

So I’m on my way to being halfway through Goblet of Fire now and there was one scene that has stuck with me ever since I read it.

We all know and fully admit that Rowling is a genius, from her use of foreshadowing to her placement of real-life problems into a magical world.  It just never fails to astound me how she’s able to realistically put so much into these books, especially as it gets later in the series.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the first half of the book is Harry’s first Defense Against the Dark Arts class with Professor Moody.  In it, Moody decides they need a real-world application lesson and shows them—on spiders—the Unforgivable Curses.  Ron mentions the Imperius Curse, Neville the Cruciatus Curse, and Hermione the Killing Curse.

As I was reading this scene (and wanting to give both Neville and Harry a big hug), I connected all of this to my students.  Let me explain.

In Harry’s 4th year, the war against Lord Voldemort has been over for 13 years.  Harry’s classmates were barely alive when Voldemort was in power.  They don’t remember what the world was like at that dark moment.  Harry and Hermione didn’t know what the Dark Mark was when they saw it over the Quidditch World Cup and couldn’t understand why everyone was in so much of a panic.  Then, as they were talking to the older Weasley brothers and Mr. Weasley, you could practically see the haunted looks in their eyes as they remembered those times.

And when Moody showed them the Unforgivable Curses, you could tell they didn’t exactly understand the ramifications of that either.  Even Ron was going around saying things like, “Did you see when that spider just died?” but stops immediately when he sees Harry’s face.  And of course, Hermione had to yell to get Moody to stop torturing the spider as it greatly upset Neville.

This all reminded me of trying to tell my students about 9/11 and the 2000s in general.

My students were born in 2004/2005.  They seriously have no concept of what the world was like before about 2010.  They didn’t live through 9/11.  They were only 3-4 when Obama was elected president, so they don’t really remember that either.  They don’t remember the start of the Iraq war or really the end of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden.  All these pivotal moments, they have little have little frame of reference for, even if they were alive for some of it.

Reading about Harry’s classmates not understand how deeply those Curses impacted Harry and Neville’s lives…it was stunningly accurate to what I see in class.  I think both sides (magical and my muggle students) want to understand what happened in these times.  And I think that since they didn’t experience it the same way we (and witches and wizards) did, they sometimes say inconsiderate or rude things because they simply don’t realize where the pain lives.  In fact, most of the time it simply isn’t painful for them.  It’s just fascinating.

It’s like the way there are so many World War II history buffs.  People specialize on battles and weaponry and tactics used and talk about the loss of lives in a completely blasé way, like it was just an unfortunate consequence.  It’s callous.  And it makes me think of my grandfather, who served in the Army just after World War II.  He never, absolutely never, talked about what he saw.

There will always be a new generation that doesn’t understand.  There will always be people who didn’t experience the pain the same way the previous generation did.  And that’s something we’ll have to accept as we grow older, because every generation has its new experiences.

I didn’t live through the assassination of John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr.

I didn’t live through the Vietnam War.

I didn’t even live through the Cold War or the Reagan years.

I will never fully understand them the way someone who was there or who lived through it will.  And it’s funny that a few Unforgivable Curses made me think of all of this.

Reading this as a teenager, I never would have thought of this.  I didn’t have the same frame of reference for it.  I hadn’t yet known people who didn’t remember 9/11 and I probably rolled my eyes at people who told me the Cold War was a big deal.  It’s only now, rereading it as an adult who has been in Moody’s position (of trying to teach history the kids have no understanding of) that I finally get it.

I’ll be interested to see what some of the later moments make me think of next.

A Harry Potter Confession: I Wrote Fanfiction…A Lot…

#HogwartsOctober (4)

Yes, like many and many a teenage girl of the mid-2000s, I wrote Harry Potter fanfics.  I even published some of them on Quizilla back in the day (and last I checked they were gone, thank God).  I tried to get some posted on…what was it called…The Leaky Cauldron?  It’s been so long…  Anyway, they rejected my writing, telling me one of my stories (which started with James and Sirius performing stupid Fred-and-George style antics) as being “too violent.”  I, obviously, did not agree with that assessment.

Most of my fanfics revolved around the Marauders in some way, shape, or form.  They were the characters that caught my attention the most, since there was room to work with it.  One of my stories, the one that went on the longest anyway, had a main character named Elizabeth “Ellie” Black, the daughter of Sirius Black.  (This was a common theme in my writing.)  Ellie was friends with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but of course darkness followed her just as much as it followed Harry because, with her father’s reputation, people didn’t look favorably upon her.

That’s not to say I didn’t focus on other characters too.  I have one story I’m actually really proud of that focused on Oliver Wood and a girl he met at Quidditch Camp in America, a girl he loved and lost at the end of the summer.  A girl who was just as obsessed with Quidditch as he was.  It also delved into gender equality as Lorraine (“Rain” to her friends) fought against the Bro culture of Quidditch.

In some ways, I’m kind of embarrassed about my fanfics.  Many of them were pretty terrible.  (I even had one with Voldemort’s rebellious daughter in the lead role, with Draco as her best friend.)  But I can’t deny that it was a huge stepping stone to helping my writing get where it is today.  I learned so much by writing fanfics.  I learned how to show the actions and emotions characters were feeling without going overboard.  I learned how to show flaws that didn’t really turn out to be flaws after all.  I learned how to see a scene in my head and turn a picture into words.

Overall, it was a fun experience.  I liked having readers who were anxious to see what I would post next (ironically, not unlike you guys…).  I liked the process of writing it all and being just as surprised as my readers about where the story went next.  I liked the moments of inspiration when I thought of a new story idea and how to make it work.  Those kinds of things are irreplaceable.  Hopefully one day I’ll be able to publish something real and put these to good use.

Until then…would you like a taste of what my fanfiction looks like?

This is from an unfinished, untitled piece I started early in college when I just couldn’t get Prisoner of Azkaban out of my head.  (That happened a lot.)  This is the beginning of my story, which is undoubtedly the best part of everything on this doc.

Enjoy!

*****

My life was in ruins.

I knew something was wrong the moment the doorbell rang, waking me.  Sirius never bothered to use the doorbell, even if he forgot his key.  He much preferred to barge right in.  So someone ringing the doorbell at 6:38 A.M. was worth a good dose of nerves.

I threw off my covers and shouted a quick, “I’m coming!” before grabbing my robe and throwing it on hastily.  I glanced at the bed out of habit.  Sirius’s pillow hadn’t been slept on and his side of the bed was still cold.

He promised he’d be home by midnight last night.

I slid into my slippers and rushed to the door.  Remus stood on the other side, looking decades older than he had any right to be.  His mouth was drooped in a frown and he refused to meet my eyes when I opened the door.

“Remus?  What’s wrong?”  He didn’t say anything, only looked at his feet.  “Remus, talk to me.  You’re scaring me,” I admitted, my voice shaking.

“Can I come in, Melody?” he asked softly.   I noticed a tremble in his voice.

I opened the door farther.  “Is it James and Lily?  Did he find them?  Oh God, Remus, tell me I’m wrong.  Tell me he didn’t get them.  Tell me he didn’t get Harry.”

Dark spots dotted my vision.  Remus grabbed me by the arm and led me over to the couch.  He sat next to me, holding my hand in his.  His silence told me more than his words.

“They’re gone, aren’t they?” I whispered, tears rolling down my cheeks.  Not Lily, my best friend since the first day at Hogwarts.  And not James, my rock when Sirius and I fought.  And poor little Harry, who was just over a year old now.  He didn’t deserve any of this.

“Harry’s safe, Mel.  Dumbledore took him to Petunia’s.”

My relief in knowing Harry was alive mixed with horror.  “Petunia Dursley?  Why would Dumbledore take him there?  Sirius and I could take care of him.  He could have a home here.  We’re practically family!”

Remus seemed to get even smaller.  “There’s more.”

My heart stopped.  Harry was safe, but my best friends were dead.  How much more could there possibly be?

“Voldemort tried to kill Harry, but for some reason it didn’t work.  Voldemort’s gone and Harry only has a scar on his forehead from it.”

I flinched when Remus said His name.  It was stupid, since I was part of the Order, but I couldn’t help it.  But Remus wasn’t finished.  “Peter’s dead.”

A chill seeped through my veins.  Who would kill Peter?  Unless they had to in order to get to James and Lily.  Peter was supposed to keep watch last night.  That’s why Sirius left, to check on him.

Sirius…where was he?  I had a sinking feeling that I didn’t want to know.

“Remus,” I started, my voice dropping, “where’s Sirius?”

A deathly calm settled over the room as I awaited an answer and Remus tried to avoid it.  “Azkaban,” he finally stated.

Every piece that held me together fell away and shattered.  I fell forward, wailing into my hands.  Remus pulled me to him, hugging me and patting my back.  It was quite some time before I calmed down enough to realize he was crying nearly as hard as I was.  God, we were all that was left of our group.  Everyone dead or, in Sirius’s case, in prison.

“What are we going to do?” I asked, hopeless.

For once, Remus didn’t have an answer.

 

I found out the whole story later, thanks to the Daily Prophet.  Sirius led You-Know-Who straight to James and Lily in the night.  Then, when Peter confronted him in a busy street, Sirius killed Peter and a number of innocent Muggles.  All he did was laugh when he was captured.

Was it truly possible Sirius had led Death Eaters to James’s door?  They were best friends.  I didn’t think it was, but it was pretty hard to refute the facts.  And Sirius had gotten mysterious as of late, leaving home for long lengths of time with a flimsy excuse.

Oh God.  He really could have been a Death Eater.

Everywhere I went, people looked at me as if I was a Death Eater too by association.  They avoided me like the plague and grimaced when they couldn’t.  Even Remus fell away from me.  After a while, my love for Sirius turned to cold hatred.  How dare he kill his friends!  How dare he do this to me!  He was just like his pathetic family after all, no matter how much he tried to deny it.

But I had bigger things to worry about, I soon found.

I was pregnant.

 

“Are you sure you’ve packed everything?” I asked my daughter Heather once more.

“Yes, Mom.  God, I had everything packed the first time you asked.”  She rolled her eyes at me.

I smiled.  “Alright then.  I’ll let you go.”  I kissed the top of her head before she ran off to board the train for her first year at Hogwarts.

My little girl was starting school now.  How fast time goes by.  But I worried about her and not for the most obvious of reasons.  Sure, I was scared she wouldn’t find friends on the train or that she’d get sorted into a House she didn’t like, but they were the least of my worries.

I frowned as I thought, watching her load her things onto the train.  She turned and smiled at me, waving, before disappearing onboard.

“They grow up so fast, don’t they?” a voice said next to me.

Molly Weasley was shorter than I was by more than a couple inches.  It’d been so long since I’d last seen her.  She smiled up at me pleasantly.

“They sure do.”

“She’ll be fine, if she’s anything like you,” she said helpfully.

An owl screeched loudly just as I was about to answer.  It headed straight for me, dropping a letter into my open hand.  A Hogwarts seal covered the back flap of the envelope.

Molly looked at it curiously, but didn’t say anything.  I read it quickly, unable to believe it.  Dumbledore was offering me a job as Ancient Runes teacher so I could keep a closer eye on Heather.

I started walking off before remembering Molly.  “Sorry, I have to pack.  Dumbledore’s giving me a job.”

She smiled and waved me on.

Dumbledore’s a life saver.  I would have spent my time at home worrying about her.  And I was scared for both of our lives.

Her father had escaped from Azkaban.