Bright We Burn (And I Darken, #3)

Image result for bright we burnFirst Lines: Lada Dracul had cut through blood and bones to get the castle.  That did not mean she wanted to spend time in it.  It was a relief to escape the capital.

Hey guys!  So I took a little time off there after #HogwartsOctober to get back to reading all the books I’d neglected through October.  Now I just have to catch up on my blogging!  This was a book that I picked out very soon after I read And I Rise, the second book in this series.  That book had been pretty awesome and, while I didn’t exactly care for the first book in this series, I thought this final one would be worth it.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Radu cannot escape the ghosts of Constantinople.  Torn between his duty to Mehmed and his newfound love of the city and its people, Radu ripped himself in half watching the city fall.  And now Mehmed is asking him to return to that haunted city, to stand at Mehmed’s side and help him rebuild.  Mehmed is more powerful than ever…but Radu also realizes Mehmed is completely alone.  Which begs the question, does Radu even want to spend more time with Mehmed?  Lada has taken control of Wallachia, her life dream.  But Lada can’t rest until she knows that her borders are protected and that no one–including Mehmed–will cross her.  Determined to send that message, Lada sends Mehmed an envoy of bodies…a message Mehmed and Radu can’t ignore.  They must go to war.  Mehmed knows he loves Lada, but that love can be blinding in the worst ways.  And Radu fears that he is the only one who is not underestimating his sister…

For the most part, this book continued my appreciation of this series. I fell in love with Radu in the previous book. His sensitive soul and his desire to do the right thing was very compelling, especially when faced against Lada’s unrestrained violence and drive to rule Wallachia.

In this book, both of them played their parts beautifully. Radu is as lovable as ever, perhaps even more so. He realizes by now that he’s probably the only person who sees Lada’s potential; everyone else underestimates her for being a woman.

Lada’s brutality in this book is staggering. Even taking into consideration the brutality of that time period, considering the same brutality Mehmed inflicted on Constantinople in the last book, Lada is violent. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where a character was this clearly an anti-hero. The amazing thing about White’s writing, though, is that you’re still rooting for her. Even when you’re disgusted by the level she sinks to, you still understand her thought process and that she’s ultimately fighting for a better life for her people. She’s just going about it the wrong way. She does not forgive and she never forgets.  It’s beautiful in its brutality.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that’s this violent before.  It’s so cavalier about its body count…and for whatever reason, a couple of weeks after finishing it, this is what I remember liking best about it.  Probably just because it was shocking.

Because of the fact that this book flips between Radu’s narration and Lada’s, it’s very easy to draw comparisons between the two. I actually really liked that. Their lives diverged so long ago, but here they are on the same Road of Destiny with two very different outlooks on life. It’s a fascinating study in how the way you view the world shapes everything.

The writing is clever and the twists are fun. Sometimes they aren’t as surprising as you expect them to be, but there is still a certain amount of joy to be had from catching them before they are revealed. This was fun to read and the nearer I got to the end, the harder it was to put down.

While Lada isn’t exactly a role model, I have to admit that sometimes we all need to channel her dragon ferocity.


Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Image result for fantastic beastsHey everyone!  I always knew that at some point I was going to watch this movie.  Prior to this past weekend, I’d never seen it.  I figured that capping off #HogwartsOctober with it might be the way to go.

If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, I’ll give you a quick run-down: Newt Scamander has arrived in America looking for fantastic creatures to write about for his upcoming book.  Unfortunately, a few of his collection escape and start rampaging New York City.  With the help of Jacob Kowalski (a No-Maj) and the reluctant help of Tina Goldstein and her sister Queenie, Newt hopes to put everything to rights while also solving the mystery of what is attacking the no-majs of NYC before it gets out of hand.

The story of this started off a bit slow.  I mean, there’s a lot that needs to be built: NYC’s wizarding community, America’s version of the Ministry of Magic, 1920s NYC, Newt’s backstory, the fantastic beasts, etc.  There’s a lot that’s going into this.  So it takes some time getting off the ground.

I thought Eddie Redmayne did a good job as Newt.  I can’t say I always understood the acting choices, but I came to like him.  I also had to give Eddie kudos for his um…mating dance?…with the rhino-looking creature.  Dear Lord, the utter ridiculousness of that scene would have had me in stitches if I’d have watched this in theatres.

What’s probably more interesting is the character who actually stole my heart: Jacob Kowalski.  The only no-maj in the story that we get to know, Jacob is pretty much us.  He’s involuntarily sucked into this magical world and quickly finds out that magic is really freaking awesome–and scary.  Definitely scary too.  He quickly becomes the heart of this little group of misfits and I adored that about him.  He’s just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy with big dreams and a thirst for adventure whose been locked in a life that bars him from all of that.

What I thought was really funny about this was how much Newt reminded me of Hagrid.  I mean, the love of weird and probably dangerous creatures?  Check.  Likes to call himself “mummy” when talking to said creatures?  Check.  Kind-hearted and gentle, even when the rest of the world doesn’t seem to understand them?  Check. There are more similarities as well, but at risk of revealing actual spoilers, I can’t do that.  Suffice it to say, Newt could easily be Hagrid just one generation prior.

It was funny too watching this right after rereading the series because, based on the descriptions in the book alone, I was able to identify a couple characters.  I was watching the beginning of the movie and when the first creature escaped, I was like, “Oh, that’s totally a niffler.  Just look at it.”  Then I immediately questioned how deep I’d gone into the wizarding world to be able to identify a niffler in .2 seconds flat.  There was a minute or two there of legit soul-searching.

Oh, and can I saw how truly American a few scenes were?  Both good and bad.  Jacob has a purely American dream he’s pursuing in owning his own bakery.  He wants to create something himself because he knows he can do it better than the machines that are churning out hundreds more donuts than he can do by hand.  And that was awesome.  But the truly terrifying moment was this brief look at what the death penalty looks like for wizards in America.  The way they tried to kill people but claimed it was completely pain-free…I got the heebie-jeebies watching that.

Anyway, I thought it was an enjoyable movie.  I’d accidentally spoiled the twist at the end for myself when I was reading something about the next Fantastic Beasts movie, but I still found it to be enjoyable.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book): Thoughts and Reactions

Image result for harry potter deathly hallows book scholasticHey!  This month is drawing to a close, as is my foray into the Harry Potter series.  To be honest, I’m rather impressed with myself that I’ve actually read all 7 of the books in a month, especially since this month has been absolutely crazy.

Alright, so let’s get started.  There are a few topics I want to make sure I cover here.

The first is Dumbledore.  In this book, we actually see Dumbledore as a flawed human being rather than the wise, virtually all-knowing old man we’re used to see him as.  And this time through, I really liked that.  It makes him seem more real, given that he made his own mistakes in his youth and learned from them.  And I think it’s great to see someone from two different perspectives.  Is Dumbledore the genius that Elphias Doge knew or the arrogant jerk Aberforth saw?  Is Dumbledore good for defeating Grindelwald or evil for furthering Grindelwald’s cause?  That’s not to say anything about what happened to Ariana.

I just like that Dumbledore is so layered this time around.  I like him more as a character knowing that he made all of these mistakes early on and learned from them.  He learned from his quest for the Deathly Hallows that he didn’t trust himself with power.  He forced himself to be humble and to avoid positions (like Minister of Magic) that would have allowed him too much power.  And I see differences in the way he treated Grindelwald to the way he treated Voldemort.  He learned.

Perhaps the most absolutely terrifying part of this book (and it was intentionally done, I’m sure) was the required registration of every Muggleborn in the wizarding world and their subsequent trials.  I’m a history buff and I teach the Holocaust to my students every spring.  The parallels between the Muggleborns’ plight and that of the Jews and other marginalized people in the Holocaust were scary similar.  Again, I’m sure this was intentional.  It was frightening in its simplicity, as to how quickly Umbridge and other officials were able to make those policies law.  It truly didn’t take much time at all for them to make this a reality.  It’s so easy to see something like that making a short jump into our world next.

Which, thankfully, leads us now into one of my favorite things about this book.  I enjoyed the underlying rebellion seen by so many characters.  Neville says toward the end that he learned from Harry how acting out gave everyone around him hope for a better tomorrow, and that’s exactly what these little acts did.  With Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the run, everyone had faith he would eventually face Voldemort.  Hogwarts was being attacked from within by Dumbledore’s Army on a daily basis.  The Order wrecked havoc where they could, including the radio broadcasts that told everyone what was going on.  It was all dangerous, but all of it kept that hope alive that the war would end if only people kept fighting back.

I thought this book was going to be super boring with the whole “let’s wander the countryside looking for Horcruxes” angle (I didn’t remember that super well from when I last read it 11 years ago), but it was actually one that kept my attention better than most.  I think that’s because I wasn’t as familiar with the story as I am with the earlier books in the series.  They were predictable because I remembered them, but this one was almost new to me again.

This book made me look at so many characters in a different light, and I loved that.

Rewatching The Final Movies: My Experience

So, in order to do Tuesday’s post about what was/wasn’t in the movies, I really needed to refresh my memory about what even happened in the final 3 movies.  (I know for a fact the last time I watched any of the Deathly Hallows movies was in theaters.  Half-Blood Prince I may have watched twice prior to this.)  There were some scenes I remembered, but there was a whole lot I didn’t.

Half-Blood Prince

My initial reaction to this movie was, “This is hilarious!”  I didn’t remember this movie being nearly as funny as it was.  I mean, I obviously remembered the Aragog scene, where Harry’s high on Felix Felicis and he does the pinchers thing, but that was the only funny thing I remembered.

But these actors, they really pulled off the humor in so many way.  A lot of the time it was just little stuff.  Dumbledore wanting to take with him the knitting patterns he read while in the bathroom at Slughorn’s (which is actually from the book).  Harry and Ron racing to the cabinet in Potions class to get the newer book there.  Everything to do with Lavender and Won-Won.  Hermione trying to escape Cormac.

It was just really great to have that humorous element, especially since the last movie was really dark and this one, in the end, is just as dark if not more so.  The levity was appreciated.

And this one was hard to watch at times.  Draco, at 16, is being asked to kill the most powerful wizard in England, the wizard Voldemort himself is afraid of.  It’s a suicide mission.  The Horcrux plot line is, in itself, equally dark and disturbing, the idea that someone would be willing to split their soul into seven pieces just to achieve immortality at the cost of other lives.  And, of course, Dumbledore’s death is a huge blow not just to Harry but to the side of good.

But perhaps the hardest scene for me to watch was where Harry and Dumbledore were retrieving the Horcrux from the cave and Harry had to force Dumbledore to keep drinking the potion.  It induced pain and Dumbledore begged Harry to stop and even became a bit childish in that state, refusing to open his mouth to take more.  It’s perhaps the most uncomfortable scene in the entire book if not the series because it’s the one time we truly see Dumbledore as weak and vulnerable.  He’s been pulling the strings and helping Harry since day one, but at this moment, Harry has to force-feed Dumbledore.  It’s horrible.

Deathly Hallows Parts 1

What I liked about this one was that it allows us to see that normal life, that family and friends, can continue even during war.  Everyone is rallying around Harry to protect him.  Bill and Fleur are getting married.  Tonks and Lupin get married.  Sometimes I think we feel that lives stop during war or during a major crisis but this shows that, while they had to be more careful about everything they did, life does go on.

But it’s also the first time we see what war against Voldemort actually looks like.  He has control of the Ministry and is basically free to do what he wants.  Hogwarts now belongs to the Death Eaters and (as per the book) attendance is mandatory.  Harry is Undesirable Number One with thousands of Galleons reward money on his head.  This is truly a new and dangerous world for everyone.

Even the Death Eaters have new danger.  We get to see in parts of the movie how gaunt, powerless, and broken the Malfoys have become.  Lucius in particular looks terrible.  Narcissa’s one concern is protecting Draco as best she can.  And Draco is clearly conflicted about everything he’s doing for Voldemort.  He claims he can’t identify whether or not the captive brought to him is Harry when he knows it is.  He’s known Harry for seven years now.  One stinging jinx isn’t going to change his looks that much that Draco can’t identify him.

And this is the first time we see what the cost of war really is.  Hedwig.  Mad-Eye.  George’s ear.  Dobby.

Friendships get tested.  Ron leaves the trio in a fit of jealousy and Hermione and Harry are left on their own to figure things out.

But the most disturbing part of the entire movie was the registering of Muggleborns at the Ministry, with the interrogation of whose magic they stole to become witches and wizards.  I had some truly terrifying flashbacks in that moment to Nazi Germany, which I believe was the entire point.  There were some horrible moments watching that where it felt like spiders were crawling beneath my skin.

Deathly Hallows Part 2

The highlight of this movie is, obviously, the final Battle at Hogwarts.  I could expound for days on end why this is so interesting, pivotal, heart-wrenching, and twisting.  I won’t because you know this as well as I do, but I will go into a few things.

First of all, I truly can’t imagine what Hogwarts was like under Snape.  Neville tells us the Cruciatus Curse was being used as punishments and even as exercises in class.  (He was injured after refusing to perform the curse on first years.)  For someone like McGonagall, I can’t imagine what she must have gone through, watching this all happen.  She’s so strong that I don’t know how she could watch all of this happen without snapping.  I truly believe she only stayed to protect the students.  And just before the battle starts, when Harry comes forward and Snape raises his wand to Harry, I believe that’s the moment McGonagall decides she’s had enough.  That’s why she jumps in front of Harry.  She’s taking a stand.

But I think she followed that up with a mistake.  A running theme in this story has always been to treat everyone equally and with respect, whether they are house-elves, giants, goblins, muggleborns, blood traitors, or heroes.  Dumbledore, Hermione, and Harry all seem exceptionally determined to do this.  And once Snape runs, one of McGonagall’s first orders is that the Slytherins should be sent to the dungeons, away from the fight and where they also can’t interfere.  Everyone cheers.

After reading this series again, this doesn’t sit well with me.  Sure, the Slytherins are infuriating.  They’ve been making snide comments all along, many of their parents are Death Eaters, and these students probably flourished under Snape’s rule.  But…to whole-hog remove all of them to the dungeons without seeing who may actually want to fight against Voldemort seems…prejudiced.  True, some of them might lie and attack other students when they have a moment, but I can’t help but think that some of them would help defend Hogwarts.  It’s their home too.  Perhaps, like Harry and Dumbledore, I like to think the best of people.

And the cost of war becomes even more heartbreaking in this one.  Lupin.  Tonks.  Fred.  Lavender.  Snape.

But I’ve always kind of thought that, besides Harry, the real hero of the day is Neville.  For the whole school year, he’s been doing his best to protect those at Hogwarts.  He’s been fighting back in his own way.  And during the battle, we see him as a leader.  He stands up against Voldemort and says that yeah, they may have lost Harry like they’ve lost so many other people already today, but Harry’s spirit is still with them and they will keep fighting.  If Harry’s the heart of this fight, Neville is the soul.

I think I cried through much of the second half of this movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book) Thoughts and Reflections

Image result for harry potter and the half blood prince bookHey!  So, funny enough, I actually ended up flying through this one, even though I thought I was going to struggle with the whole Draco obsession thing.  Turned out there was a fair bit of this that I didn’t remember super well and it kept my interest.

This is officially the edge of my Harry Potter knowledge.  Like, I knew what happened in this book and DH, but this is where I lose a lot of the specifics.  I remember the big events, not the little ones.  So that in and of itself has been an experience.

First of all, I enjoyed this because of the love failures.  I think an important part of any teenage experience is A) failing at love and B) unrequited love.  So the fact that this has both is perfection.  Both of them teach you so much about who you are and what you want in a significant other.  And the fact that we see it from so many different angles (Ron and Lavendar, Hermione and Cormac, Ginny and Dean, Ginny and Harry, Remus and Tonks) means that it sticks a little better.  We can actually see how it impacts so many different people and how they all react differently.

The major theme of this novel, indisputably, is that love is stronger than anything else.  All throughout the novel, we see it coming back.  Not just in these relationships I mentioned (and let’s not forget Bill and Fleur), but also in smaller ways.  Dumbledore keeps mentioning over and over again that what makes Harry different from Voldemort is that he has a huge capacity to love.  Harry will not rest until Voldemort is destroyed out of love for the people around him.

This is also the novel where we really see Harry’s ability to feel compassion for even the most unlikely people.  Voldemort. Malfoy.  Sna–well, no, not that one.  Not yet.

It’s kind of striking as an adult to read about Harry’s extraordinary ability to be compassionate toward his enemies.  He doesn’t forgive them and he doesn’t forget, but he does pity them for the situations they were thrown into.  When Malfoy can’t bring himself to kill Dumbledore and is shaking and saying Voldemort will kill his family, Harry feels a stab of pity for Malfoy.  The same Malfoy he’s been stalking all year long and has claimed repeatedly (and correctly) that he’s up to something horrible.  And seeing the memories of Voldemort’s youth, Harry understands how difficult it must have been for Riddle growing up.

In this day and age, where simply having different political views as someone else is enough to stop talking to someone entirely, Harry can find it within himself to feel compassion for the man who killed his parents and is responsible for hundreds of other deaths.  If only there were more people like Harry in our world.  We could all be a little more understanding.

This was also my first time reading this book knowing what we all know now at the end of the series about Snape.  It was interesting to pick up on a few of the clues along the way that things weren’t exactly what Harry thought they were.  They’re very subtle.  And it made Dumbledore’s death less cruel, knowing the truth.  But it didn’t make his funeral any less heartbreaking.

Perhaps the most astounding thing about this book is the growth of the Weasley family.  Bill doesn’t play a large role in the story, but he does have a vital role.  So does Fleur.  It helps to show the growth of Mrs. Weasley as the story goes along.  But what impresses me the most is Fred and George’s growth.  They’ve now started their business and make a killing at it.  Their business acumen is astounding, but they also understand the severity of the world at this time and the responsibility that rests on their shoulders.  They could easily say that they want nothing to do with the Order now that they have a business to run, but they still show up and shoulder their portions.  It’s so important to show that because they aren’t just the jokesters they’re made out to be.

I won’t say that this was my favorite book.  It’s not.  But there’s a lot I came to appreciate about it that I thought I was simply going to be rolling my eyes at when I started this.

Top Ten Things I Wish Had Made It Into the Movies

#HogwartsOctoberHey everyone!  So as I’ve been rereading the series, I’ve been of two minds: 1) that the movies are incredibly true to the books in many respects, sometimes more so than I remembered and 2) they left out so much good stuff!  Depending on the book and/or moment in time, I lean more toward one over the other.

So here are a few things I’m bummed didn’t make it into the movies!  Enjoy!

Top Ten Things I Wish Had Made It Into the Movies

1. Lee Jordan’s Quidditch Commentary (Books 1-5)

I know Lee Jordan does commentary in the movies, but it’s not like this.  Lee is 110% biased toward Gryffindor and makes so many off color comments that McGonagall usually has to yell at him to get back on track.  It’s hilarious and sometimes my favorite part of the Quidditch match as a whole.  I wish some of that had made it into the movies because it’s brilliant.

2. Winky the House-elf (Book 4)

I like the idea of Winky being in the movies as the opposite of Dobby.  Whereas Dobby is so lively and odd, Winky is depressed and miserable.  Winky spends half of Goblet of Fire drunk on butterbeer, for goodness sake.  Also, the plotlines involving her delightfully complicate the story.  It makes it so much more interesting.

3. Percy leaves the Weasleys (Book 5)

I feel like the movies never adequately show the fracture that happens in the Weasley family because Percy chooses to believe the Ministry’s version of events over Harry’s.  I mean, Percy returns Mrs. Weasley’s Christmas sweater!  Percy writes letters to Ron telling him to stop being Harry’s friend.  And it just goes down from there.  I think it would have been so much more beneficial to see that the Weasleys weren’t a perfect family either.

4. Harry’s First Date (Book 5)

We all remember our first dates.  Some of them may have been amazing first dates, but I think we can all enjoy the horror of Harry’s first date with Cho and how abysmal it turned out to be.  I’ve been there, done that with terrible dates, but it’s kind of fun to watch someone else go through one.  Especially when Harry has no idea why it went south so quickly.

5. Hagrid forced to leave Hogwarts/McGonagall attacked (Book 5)

This is such a stunning moment in fifth book and I don’t really understand why it was cut.  Maybe time?  Hagrid and McGonagall are two of the last pillars at the school and to have them both go down in the same event at the hands of Umbridge, it’s frightfully diabolical.  It leaves Harry without allies.  It leaves Hogwarts vulnerable.  And it’s such an action-packed scene for having Harry only witnessing it from the top of the Astronomy tower.

6. Department of Mysteries (Book 5)

Yes, I know the Department of Mysteries does actually make it into the movie, but I’m talking about the real one.  The one where the doors spin to confuse you.  The one where time is bottled in jars.  The one where there’s a freaking BRAIN ROOM.  Actually, that’s pretty much all I care about.  I just want to see the Brain Room.  Just knowing that there’s a brain room at all makes the Department of Mysteries all the more bizarre.  And I kind of love it.

7. Harry Trashes Dumbledore’s Office (Book 5)

I think this is such a pivotal moment in the series and yet it doesn’t happen in the movie.  Harry, distraught after the death of Sirius, finds himself returned to Hogwarts locked in the Headmaster’s office so Dumbledore can explain why he feels this is all his fault.  Harry, in agony, doesn’t feel like he can listen to all of this right now and starts trashing Dumbledore’s office.  It’s teenage angst, but Dumbledore’s calm reaction and presentation of all of the facts gives Harry the chance to understand more of what has happened than he knows.  It’s a real moment between Harry and Dumbledore, especially since it shows the depth of Dumbledore’s emotions as well as his cunning in one speech.

8. Rufus Scrimgeour (Book 6)

You know, there was so much potential here. Scrimgeour is both the antithesis and the mirror image of Fudge.  He is more of an action man than Fudge, but he’s still a political man through and through.  So seeing him in the movies would have helped show that even though a politician claims to be different, they’re really all the same.  But Scrimgeour also gave a great moment for Harry to admit that he’s Dumbledore’s man, through and through.  It’s powerful.

9. The Battle at Hogwarts (Book 6)

What, in the name of Merlin’s saggy Y fronts, were they thinking by cutting that??  Who in their right mind would cut those fights?  I don’t understand.  I mean, I have some serious respect for this movie (which was way funnier than I remembered it being), but not showing the battle, where Order members and a few D.A. members fought Death Eaters, is a serious blow.  This is where Bill gets attacked by Fenrir!  This is where Neville and Luna show their solidarity with Harry!  This is where Fleur shows that she’s not just a fairy princess!  This is where Tonks reveals that she loves and wants to marry Lupin!  How did all of this get cut?

10. Kindness to House Elves (Books 4-7)

Way back when I was reading Goblet of Fire, I truly was like, “Thank God they didn’t put S.P.E.W into the movies.  Ugh, this is so awkward.”  But truly, there’s an underlying theme the whole time about treating house elves/a lower social class with kindness and courtesy.  In Deathly Hallows, it’s really Kreacher who made me change my thinking here.  The second they start treating him well, he completely changes his demeanor toward them.  He becomes something like a Dobby, where he would lay down his life for Harry–simply because Harry treated him with kindness and respect.  And that’s such an important theme, that everyone, no matter what social class, should be treated well.

Snape vs. Dumbledore

#HogwartsOctober (10)

Hey!  So I feel like in the aftermath of Deathly Hallows, everyone seemed to fall into one of two camps.  They suddenly became either Dumbledore’s biggest supporter or Snape’s.  And I have to say, I don’t fully understand in the first place why we’ve decided we have to like one or the other.

But I’m totally Team Dumbledore.  Let’s just get that out there.

Trust me, I realize that neither of them is perfect.  But I have my reasons.  Let’s take a look at each.

Albus Dumbledore

I have serious respect for Dumbledore, no matter what mistakes he’s made.  For one thing, he’s a stunningly fabulous wizard.  He’s the only one Voldemort is actually afraid of, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.  Dumbledore’s presence alone helps protect the students of Hogwarts most of the time.  Whenever someone wants to threaten Harry or Hogwarts, they always get rid of Dumbledore first.  (In Sorcerer’s Stone, Dumbledore gets a fake emergency letter calling him to the Ministry on the same night Quirrell is breaking past Fluffy; in Chamber of Secrets, Lucius Malfoy threatens the governors to suspend Dumbledore in the aftermath of all the attacks.)  It’s no secret he’s BOSS.

Dumbledore’s greatest qualities include his kindness and generosity.  Remus Lupin admits that he would never have been allowed to come to Hogwarts as a student if Dumbledore hadn’t made arrangements, much less the fact that Dumbledore was taking a chance on him by asking him to be a teacher.  Everyone is aware that Dumbledore even gave Snape a second chance, even if they aren’t sure what happened to his first chance (until later).  He gives Harry the Invisibility Cloak so he has something that belonged to James.  He helps Harry and Hermione rescue both Sirius and Buckbeak in year 3.

In many ways, Dumbledore is something of a father figure to Harry because he can always count on Dumbledore to help him.  When he needs advice or is questioning himself, Dumbledore usually seems to turn up with a word of encouragement or a quick wink in Harry’s direction that makes him feel like he’s been seen.  Even in his fifth year when Dumbledore keeps his distance, Harry still feels at the moment Dumbledore reveals himself at the Ministry that they’ve been saved.  Dumbledore’s presence has always meant that Harry feels safe.

Personally, I love Dumbledore’s sense of humor.  It’s bizarre at times and unexpected, but he also knows how to break a tense moment with a quick one-liner before getting back to being serious.  I very much appreciate that the single most brilliant wizard of the modern age has such a self-deprecating sense of humor and is witty as well as wise.

I realize that Harry’s relationship with Dumbledore gets more complicated as he gets older.  Dumbledore starts to use Harry, taking him with him to destroy Horcruxes and basically completely ignoring Harry in his time of need in year 5.  But by the same token, all of Harry’s relationships are getting more complicated at this same time.  His friendships are strained at times, the world is much darker as Voldemort returns, and everyone is starting to distrust everyone around them.  I truly believe that, even though they were sometimes bad decisions, Dumbledore was doing what he thought was right.  Even Dumbledore has to make mistakes from time to time.  He even admits it himself.  For such a brilliant and powerful person to admit that they make mistakes, it’s a humbling experience.  And I think many people in real life should take note.

Severus Snape

From the first time we’re introduced to him, Snape has been vicious toward Harry and the other Gryffindors.  In Harry’s first Potions lesson, he asks Harry pointed questions he knows Harry can’t answer.  He makes pointed attempts to penalize Harry even when others (Slytherins) are involved in the same mess.  In every way, he expects Harry to act exactly like James and nothing like Lily.

Snape, to me, is the biggest bully at Hogwarts.  He picks on Neville all the time, to the point where Neville’s greatest fear is Snape himself.  Snape even tells Lupin (and the whole class) before the Boggart lesson that he wouldn’t trust Neville to do anything because he’d probably blow something up, which of course doesn’t help Neville at all.  When Hermione’s teeth get accidentally cursed to grow humongous in year 4, Snape says he notices no difference from her usual buckteeth.

He’s constantly looking for an excuse to blame Harry for things, even things Harry hasn’t done.  When his storeroom gets broken into in Harry’s fourth year, Snape immediately blames Harry for the missing ingredients with really no evidence.

That’s not to say that Snape hasn’t done some good things.  He does save Harry from Quirrell jinxing the broom in year 1.  He alerts the Order to Harry’s disappearance/trip to the Ministry when Harry gives him the message that Padfoot’s been taken to the place where it’s hidden.  He’s done his best to protect the students of Hogwarts throughout the years.

But really, he has no good excuse for his behavior.  Acting or otherwise.

Sirius once says you should judge a man by the way he treats his inferiors, not his equals.  The way Snape treats Harry, Neville, Hermione, and others clearly shows me that his behavior isn’t some kind of act, it’s the real Severus.  He may have been mistreated in school by James and Sirius among others and he may have eventually switched sides, but all of that was 10-11 years prior to the first time he met Harry.  He’s the adult now and he needs to start acting like it.

Let’s even take a look at this argument, because I feel like it’s coming.  Snape was “placed” in Hogwarts by Lord Voldemort (even though that turns out to be a rouse since Snape’s actually working for the Order) and therefore has to act like a Death Eater would to blend in.  He would need to be harsh with Harry and Dumbledore and other clear Order members.  He might even need to show favoritism to Slytherin.

My point is that his acting is too perfect to be entirely acting.  He does have to act at times, I’ll fully admit to that, especially once Lord Voldemort comes back.  But for all those years in between, even if he and Dumbledore fully expected Voldemort to rise again, it doesn’t explain certain aspects of his behavior.  Why is he so harsh to Neville, who is clearly a misfit and struggling at everything he does?  He seems to resent Harry, sometimes doing things like knocking Harry’s potion off the desk so he gets a zero on his assignment.  His decision to stop teaching Harry Occlumency was also an error in judgement that he should have known better than to do.

Snape is the adult here, yet he’s acting just as moody and childish as Harry does from time to time.  Harry tells us that, after the Occlumency fiasco, Snape begins ignoring him in class and it’s a huge improvement from the torments he faced before.  Snape could easily have just decided to ignore Harry throughout the years and treated him as though he was invisible.  Instead, he torments Harry and creates a nearly tangible hatred between the two of them.  For what purpose, if Snape is really on the side of good?  It’s not like Harry would ever go to Snape for advice or help if Snape only ignored him.  I can’t see a time when Harry would ever go to Snape for help if he could help it, no matter what parallel universe we were in.

Maybe these are things that will be better understood once I reread Deathly Hallows.  But for the time being, I just don’t understand or trust Snape.  There’s too much about his behavior that has sent off red flags since the beginning and having loved Lily 20 years prior doesn’t erase his deeds now.