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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The wedding crasher

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 8

The only part of this chapter I truly care about is the final italicized line. But to write something to which you are accustomed, I must acknowledge some of what comes before the final, plot-shifting moment.

As Captain Jack Sparrow once said, "Weddings? I love weddings." And I do. I enjoyed a wedding day with my lovely bride, and I walked two daughters down the aisle.

This wedding chapter, however, seems to exist to get everyone in one place for that big thing that happens at the end. And it gives us Barny Weasley, a k a Harry Potter. Playing the part of Barny, the cousin who is oddly there with no immediate family, Harry learns many things without even trying.

Harry also meets a lot of strange people (that happens a lot at weddings) like Xenophilius Lovegood and Auntie Muriel. They are both people to avoid for different reasons before the ceremony and especially during the reception. After the tufty-haired wizard (would never want to be described as tufty-haired) performs the ceremony, dancing and talking ensues.

Viktor Krum informs Barny/Harry that XL is sporting a Grindelvald sign, apparently paying homage to the dark wizard that Dumbledore defeated. Does it mean anything? Most things do.

Then the name Gregorovitch suddenly hits Harry. He remembers it now and that Gregorovitch is a wand maker of excellent reputation because Voldemort was searching for him. Thoughts race through Harry's mind. Harry, it seems, must find Gregorovitch.

Harry mingles as all good wedding guests do and stumbles upon Elphias Doge and tells him he's not really Barny Weasley. Doge assures Harry that Dumbledore never experimented with the Dark Arts. Of course the hundred-and-seven-year-old Auntie Muriel shows up and can't shut up.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I truly hope all of her talk about Dumbledore and his sister, etc., is pure nonsense. The rumors are there and may need to be dealt with. Still, I hope she isn't credible. It would be like Rita Skeeter being credible.

But there is a bombshell in the end for Harry: The Dumbledores live in Godric's Hollow where the Potters lived. But before this news flash can be discussed, the thing at the end of the chapter happens.

Kingsley Shacklebot's Patronus in the shape of a lynx lands on the dance floor to announce that the ministry has fallen into the hands of the Death Eaters, that Scrimgeour has been killed and that the Death Eaters are coming.

What a party-pooper Kingsley is. But his announcement does beg the question: Are the Death Eaters coming in a general sort of way like taking over the world kind of thing or are they literally coming to the wedding reception?

In either case, the honeymoon is over.

Monday, May 18, 2020

What's it all mean?

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 7

Dumbledore never did anything on a lark. His actions had purpose. No doubt these odd objects he bequeathed to Harry, Ron and Hermione will come in handy some day. And it won't be until they need them that they will understand the purpose.

That's my prediction anyway.

Schemegour sure knows how to crash a party.

"May I see your invitation?" I would've said.

"Do you know who I am?" Schemegour would've said in his most offended voice possible.

"Yes," I would've gladly admitted. "That's why I'm asking."

The matter of the sword of Godric Gryffindor is interesting. Harry, I'm guessing, will get his hands on it at some point.

Quite the back and forth between Harry and Schemegour about the sword. When Harry fires back about the minister earning some respect, well, that was exciting. Then Harry tells the minister he doesn't like his methods. The gloves are off.

This guy should to go back to the ministry and hang out with Umbridge. Schemegour and the High Instigator ought to just do a puzzle or something and stay out of everyone else's business. Hope they fight over who gets to place the last piece.

I don't recall any gifts I received on my 17th birthday. That was 1981. It was a Friday, so I probably played in a basketball game that night. The next night, if there wasn't a game, we probably went out to eat.

I certainly didn't open a Deluminator, The Tales of Beedle the Bard or an old Snitch. Can't say I feel cheated. For now, they can make it dark, try to figure out what "I open at the close" means that was written on the Snitch and catch up on some missed childhood reading.

Lights out. There's a wedding tomorrow.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Listening and watching along with Harry

I wrote the other day about the new Harry Potter read-along on Today I listened and watch along for 28 minutes about The Boy Who Lived, read by Daniel Radcliffe.

Before I did the #HarryPotterAtHome thing as it's being tagged on social media, I looked back at the post I wrote about Chapter 1 of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I got so caught up in the cat thing, because of my feline phobia, that I missed all sorts of important things in my introduction to Harry Potter. Things that I now realize are important as I have progressed through the opening chapters of "Deathly Hallows."

I started jotting things down as I listened to the perfect British voice of Harry:

  • The Dursleys are perfectly cast characters to be Harry's kin. Yes, they are annoying and mean, but as we came to learn book after book they are exactly what Muggle relatives of Harry should be like.
  • All of things Uncle Vernon noticed that day fueled his dislike for "that lot" as he often referred to magical folk.
  • The owls were flying everywhere. I had forgotten all about that.
  • The mention of Godric's Hollow. I had not remembered that name even when it came up in recent chapters I have read. Now, it appears, Harry will be returning to the scene of the crime that made him a hero.
  • Completely forgot that McGonagall didn't want Harry left with the Dursleys. Can't say I blame her, but Dumbledore was ever the wise one. He remained safe on ye olde Privet Drive.
  • I had no recollection that Hagrid made such an early appearance. And how appropriate it was for that noisy motorbike (borrowed from Sirius, a name we knew nothing about then) to be the vehicle for Harry's arrival at Privet Drive and for his final getaway. How many of you remembered that when you read the "Seven Potters" chapter? It's been 10 years, so I, of course, didn't remember anything about Harry's arrival.
  • No wonder Hagrid has been so protective of Harry. Hadn't considered why until just now.
  • Finally, this was our introduction to the scar, which didn't seem important at the time.

The Chapter 2 reading is live. "The Vanishing Glass" reading is by Noma Dumezweni. She portrayed Hermione in the original cast of "The Cursed Child" in London and on Broadway.

On the Wizarding World website you can sign up for alerts and such. I figured I would sign up so I will know when a new chapter reading is posted. During the signup process, the Sorting Hat appeared and there were a series of questions designed to put you in a house.

I paused.

Do I really want to do this?

Might as well.

I came out a Hufflepuff.

Nerdiest thing I've ever done.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Crack the books

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 6

Books. Of course, Dark Arts textbooks are the beginning of putting Harry, Ron and Hermione (she couldn't be happier than to have lots of books to lug around) on the trail of Horcruxes.

School, it seems, is back in session.

Sooner, rather than later, the three of them will leave the Burrow against Mrs. Weasley's wishes and begin their "Deathly Hallows" quest to rid the world of Voldemort and the hidden pieces of his soul for good. But first, there is a wedding to get ready for, books to sort through, rucksacks to pack and travel plans to make.

Planning has been difficult with Mrs. Weasley's obvious attempts at keeping them busy and apart from one another. But the plan is coming together.

Hermione will have to do some late-night reading to get caught up on Horcruxes. Harry will have to sort through his memories and figure out what spells will work best and leave behind his go-to tricks that the Death Eaters are wise to. As for Ron, I'm not sure what his job is besides running interference for his friends. Moral support, I suppose, is Ron's job. That and making sarcastic remarks.

Real school, of course, is over for these three. Hogwarts will apparently be open for business in the fall. Who will be the new Headmaster? No idea.

Ron and Hermione have their school absence cover stories ready. Ron is faking something called spattergroit by using a ghoul as a double. This is weird for even magical folk. A ghoul exists (not sure you can say lives) in his attic and Harry referred to it as their ghoul. The next time I think about sending my ghoul to Goodwill I'll remember that I might actually have a use for it some day. Weird.

Hermione's plan to send her Muggle parents on holiday sounds like something people would actually do. Not as inventive, but I think it will work.

Peeking ahead at chapter titles it appears we have two more chapters at the Burrow prepping and prepping and prepping for the wedding and the departure. I'll try to remain patient and be alert for clues.

Then the honeymoon will be over for everyone except, of course, Bill and Fluer.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Harry Potter read-along

Listen up friends.

If you want to start over reading the Harry Potter series, you can do so without even picking up a book. No, I don't mean by levitation. I mean with your ears.

And, no, it won't be me doing the audio book. There is a much better plan than that.

Just go to and listen. Daniel Radcliffe will get you started in "Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone" by reading "Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived." Others you probably know and love will follow one chapter at a time.

This will eat into some of my sports and writing podcast listening, but I plan to refresh my memory of a book I read 10 years ago.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Mind games

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 5

Before reading this chapter I had five questions. I answered some correctly, whiffed badly on one and one remains unknown.

Where did Voldemort vanish to and why? I was actually correct about this one. Harry passed safely through a magical force field meant to keep Death Eaters out.

Is Hagrid dead? Thankfully no. I just figured when he hit the earth that hard and the Richter scale probably registered about 5.4 that he didn't make it. Lots of padding I suppose.

Are any of The Seven Potters and their escorts dead? Because I assumed Hagrid didn't survive I figured the rest did. Sadly, Mad-Eye Moody is no longer with us. Maybe he'll meet up with his other eye some place.

Is Harry in a safe place? He is now. The old portkey trick to the Burrow worked. And everyone else except Mad-Eye, of course, and Mundungus are safely there if not all in one piece. Poor George and his missing ear. He and Fred will find a way to monetize it in their joke shop.

Who told Snape? That's still a mystery. Those at the Burrow are hot to find out though.

Now Harry, presumably in a safe place, wants to leave for the same reason he broke up with Ginny. Dumbledore's and now Mad-Eye's deaths have more than saddened him. He's blaming himself and he doesn't want another death (perhaps even his closest friends) on his conscience.

Harry is in a tough spot. He needs his friends for protection and help. But he doesn't want them to die while protecting and helping. The pain in his scar has increased his fear that something bad will happen.

The curious behavior of his wand is also troubling. He's thankful it happened, but why? There is a curious connection between his wand and Voldemort's wand. But of course, as Harry can surmise from his vision of Voldemort terrorizing Ollivander, the Dark Lord had chased him down with someone else's wand. We, of course, know it to be Lucius Malfoy's, and the vision revealed the same to Harry.

The mystery of Harry reading or hearing or seeing Voldemort's thoughts and actions has returned. Seems like Voldemort has let his guard down in his rage. Or something like that.

Hermione reminds Harry to keep his guard up to keep his mind free of Voldemort. Not sure this a two-way street though. My hunch is it seems like Voldemort would have more of an upper hand and wouldn't need spies if he could read Harry's mind.

But what do I know. I'm no mind reader.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Race against death

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 4

The Order of the Phoenix needs to strengthen its intelligence corps and plug its leaks.

The, "Oh, there's probably only a couple of Death Eaters around" was an intelligence failure. It was like Butch and Sundance trying to win a shootout against the entire Bolivian police force.

Hope is not a strategy. Hire a scout.

That doesn't mean The Seven Potters wasn't a good plan, but trying to outrun the enemy at the same time on brooms and a flying Harley lacked sense. Every part of the strategy should have been deceptive. If they had known a legion of Death Eaters was hiding in the clouds, they would have figured out a Plan B.

However, it was frantic reading. Once the Death Eaters appeared I found myself trying to read faster like when you move to the edge of your seat during tense movie scenes. So despite the failed plan, it was good reading.

The cliffhanger ending begs many questions.

Where did Voldemort vanish to and why?

Is Hagrid dead?

Are any of The Seven Potters and their escorts dead?

Is Harry in a safe place?

I figure Harry got to the safe place, which caused Voldemort to be thwarted by hitting some sort of force field.

Hagrid is probably and sadly dead. There is no one he'd rather give his life for more than Harry.

The others probably made it all out alive because the Death Eaters have worse aim than the Imperial troops in "Star Wars."

The intel that Yaxley got about Harry's movement being the day before his birthday was false. Snape was right.

That leaves us with another question: Who told him?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 3

Talk about your long, awkward goodbyes. Did the Dursleys actually pull out of the driveway yet?

Good old Uncle Vernon just couldn't stand the thought of what he saw as taking orders from Harry (yes, I can mind-read fictional characters as far as you know). When he could stall no longer and Dudley showed fear, Vernon finally caved.

Awkward goodbyes are part of job interviews, TV show finales and first dates. But I did not expect that here. I thought it would be quick out the door, maybe a quick wave and that would be it.

The stunning moment of the scene was Dudley's surprise that Harry wasn't coming with. The second surprise was when Dudley expressed gratitude to Harry for saving his life. And I thought Petunia would break character, but she's learned not to show emotion living with Vernon. If emotional tears were ever going to flow on Privet Drive, this was the moment. But it came and went with the awkwardness of me, a right-hander, trying to throw left-handed.

The longest goodbye I can remember was performed by the Von Trapp Family Singers in "The Sound of Music." That wasn't awkward. It was tricky. The worst? Some would say the final episode of M*A*S*H.

Back to the Dursleys. In an odd way, and probably for Harry as well, I will miss them. They are a ridiculous lot, but they give us a reason to laugh in these dark days. So, off with you Dursleys. Hope your safehouse wherever it is will be acceptable, but I doubt it. Hope Voldemort doesn't find you. No one deserves to meet him.

When I saw the title of the chapter, my first thought was good riddance. I still kinda feel that way for the way they treated Harry. But I'll amend that first thought to good luck.

But that's it. No more long, awkward goodbyes.


Fake news

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 2

Cleaning out the trunk after all these years. A sign that Harry's life has a new normal, or, more accurately, a new abnormal.

This is the time of life when Harry reflects on what has been. He knows what's coming, but it's good to reflect. However, it's never a good idea to read Rita Skeeter. I hope the Daily Prophet charged her for that puff piece on her upcoming unauthorized, sensationalized biography of Albus Dumbledore.

She's dug up all the dirt. More likely she's twisted facts, embellished and generally done everything imaginable to make it fly off the shelves.

I can just see Donald Trump in a news conference with Rita Skeeter.

Rita: Mr. President, why have you failed so far to stop Voldemort?
Trump: Failing? Who says we're failing? We're making progress. Tremendous progress.
Rita: Well, you haven't caught him yet.
Trump: Where are you from? The Daily Prophet? You know, your paper never tells the truth. You'll be out of business soon and no more fake news. I mean that. You'll be out of business soon. It will be beautiful.
Rita: Then, when do you expect to catch him?
Trump: Soon. Maybe as soon as tomorrow. We have great people working on it. Harry Potter is doing a great job. A great job. But your fake newspaper would never say that. Harry and his team are superb. They really are. Just superb.

Time to move forward, Harry. Get your team together, buckle up and begin the ascent.

I'm ready for the roller coaster.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A peek behind enemy lines

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsChapter 1

Snape on the first page and Voldemort in the first chapter. Of course, this book had to begin that way. We want to know what the bad guys are scheming.

They sit around the table reporting to Voldemort like spies to an intelligence chief. At first, all but Snape seem afraid. Clearly Voldemort is controlling his minions with fear. After what he did to Draco Malfoy in "Half-Blood Prince," it seems likely that fear is why most people sit at this table.

We have conflicting reports from Snape and some bloke named Yaxley about when and where Voldemort can snatch and kill Harry as he is moved to an Order safehouse. And it seems there are plans for a coup against the ministry that Yaxley is leading. But those are just plans ... for now.

Lucius Malfoy is out of Azkaban, but now he and wife and son seem to be prisoners in their own home. Threats have obviously been made, and they would rather be doing this over Zoom. Bellatrix, however, is enjoying the party a little too much.

Voldemort doesn't miss a chance to remind them of their mission to purify their race. Of course, he ain't exactly pure. Apparently, Voldemort has risen above such adversity that only he (and anyone else he chooses to make exception for) has the ability to rise above. One thing that's not in his blood is humility. The narcissism pushed it all out if there ever was any.

We are introduced to another Hogwarts teacher, Charity Burbage. Voldemort, the offspring of a mixed union, is no doubt particularly unhappy with Burbage promoting the existence of Muggles. Was she teaching that class in Tom Riddle's days at Hogwarts? He must have hated her and that class.

Like all of us I've been washing my hands more lately. After this chapter, I suddenly feel compelled to wash them again.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Read the book first

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceMovie Review

Dark and moody.

I watched the movie last night for the first time. And I am glad I read the book first. Movies that require more than 100 percent attention to connect all the dots are not my favorite. If I had not read the book, there would have been mystery, which is good, but would I understand it in the end?

For instance:

  • Malfoy in the Room of Requirement and Harry staring at a blank wall would have confounded me if not for the book.
  • The vanishing closets, I suppose, might have made sense in the end. But I'm not convinced.
OK, so only two things come to mind the day after. But it only takes a couple things to distract you into not knowing what is going on. I've never been one to work at figuring out what's going to happen. Just spoon feed me. Movie watching shouldn't be like homework.

That said, I did like some parts for sure.

The Quidditch was good, but why not the final match? Would much rather have seen Ginny and Harry come together in that moment than in the Room of Requirement.

I know the burning of The Burrow was not in the book, but I get it. It was a simple way to show the Death Eaters' terrorism.

The penseive scenes were good. And Slughorn finally giving in to Harry at Hagrid's was a good scene. The Slughorn character was well played.

Hermione's feelings for Ron were much more open in the movie than in the book. But they have to be in a visual medium unless her thoughts are narrated. 

I'm sure there are those who would have preferred Harry in the invisibility cloak during the Dumbledore death scene. But you wouldn't see Harry's face. So I get why the scene was constructed that way.

What did I miss?
  • A little more struggle to reach the locket. Seemed too easy.
  • As I mentioned above, the last Quidditch match.
  • The fighting that happened before Dumbledore was killed.
I have read Chapter 1 of "The Deathly Hallows." That will be my next post.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

An uncertain future

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 30

Funerals and tombs.

Not the most pleasant of topics. But Dumbledore did deserve to be honored. I suppose we needed closure as much as the fictional characters, especially Hagrid. Glad he doesn't just cry over deaths of spiders and assorted other odd creatures.

No word on R.A.B, but I suppose that will come. Perhaps R.A.B. is on the trail of other Horcruxes, and Harry could join him or her in the quest. Every book brings us new characters so why not a reveal of the mysterious R.A.B. in "The Deathly Hallows."

Harry took the big step lots of heroes have taken by breaking up with Ginny to protect her from evil forces. Didn't expect it, but I'm not surprised. Maybe there's a future for them when this ends if Harry lives through it.

Harry sure won't have anything to do with the Ministry of Magic. He sent old Schemegour away in another huff. Takes guts to rebuff the powerful. But Harry, I think, knows the tighter the circle of trust the better. Voldemort surely has spies everywhere as we've seen.

So what happens in "The Deathly Hallows?" Don't tell me. But we know Harry will work hard to find the Horcruxes, hope for an encounter with Snape and make plans for Voldemort. And, I'm quite convinced, there will be more death. I mean, it is called "The Deathly Hallows."

The urgent question, however, was left unanswered at the conclusion on pages 651 and 652. Ron and Hermione assume they will accompany Harry on his quest. He says no. Ron says they're coming anyway. Harry didn't argue.

But the last sentence reveals his thought of one last day of peace with his friends. Is that Bill and Fluer's wedding day and then he's off on his own? Does it mean something else? This is vague.

A Harry Potter book with little to no Ron and Hermione? That's difficult to imagine. But these are the most difficult of times, and difficult times call for sacrifice.

See you soon in Book 7. I'm dying to get started.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The curse of loneliness

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 29

Harry, his friends, his professors and his second parents are alive but not so well. They still have each other, but Dumbledore's loss is of such magnitude that it makes everyone feel alone.

Especially Harry.

There are many great writing nuggets throughout the series. I wish I had started a list. Maybe I'll do that on my next read through the series when I can read several chapters at once. Here's the one that gets to me in this chapter:

And he knew, without knowing how he knew it, that the phoenix had gone, had left Hogwarts for good, just as Dumbledore had left the school, had left the world ... had left Harry.
The final three words are the kicker. When I write I always want to end with something memorable. Most of my writing is in the form of a newspaper story. There I often rely on a good quote that ends with something memorable. Sometimes I end with my own line, hoping it's clever. But most of the time I go with the quote. The clever line is elusive, and I don't want to be cheesy.

J.K. Rowling obviously put great thought into the final passage of each chapter of each book. Some push you forward right into the next chapter, some are simple and nothing fancy, and some cause you to reflect. The end of this chapter makes you consider everything Harry and Dumbledore had been through together and how much they loved and respected each other.

Harry probably feels more left behind than anyone else. Losing a mentor is lonely. Harry and the phoenix were kindred spirits on this night.

As readers we also lament the loss of Dumbledore. We trusted him, we liked him, we figured Harry couldn't end Voldemort without him. Now he must. And maybe he will be emboldened and stronger for it.

There are many questions. Will Hogwarts stay open? How and with how much vengeance will the Order of the Phoenix rally and who will lead? Will Harry share the Horcrux quest with McGonagall and other older members of the Order, or will he keep it a secret between himself and his pals?

We can think about those another day. Time to join the lament ... Dumbledore has left the castle.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Let's think about this logically

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 28

Whatever happened to those cute kids walking through the wall at Platform 9 3/4? And riding the train to Hogwarts while eating too many sweets? And buying school supplies in Diagon Alley? And drinking butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks? And ...

The age of innocence is completely gone. This is not the same story it has been for almost six full books. Yes, until now we have seen a bit of violence and treachery. But the new narrative is suddenly heartbreaking, horrifying and deadly. And it's only going to get more intense.

We do know more about who's on whose side. Voldemort has his death-eating mafia. Not sure who will emerge as the leader of the order formerly run by Dumbledore. Could be Harry. He's young. Experience, though, has to count for something.

I might have previously written about my next point, but it has been 10 years since I started this journey so forgive me if I don't remember. Voldemort is stupid. His ego will be his downfall.

Criminals who have followings and lots of big, stupid henchmen make the same mistake in story after story. There was a chance to kill Harry. But the Half-Blood Prince (formerly known as Snape) stopped the other Death Eaters. He reminded them that Harry's death was to come only at the wand of Voldemort. smh

This is a job for Voldemort alone! He has to be the one. When bad guys do this it always comes back to bite them. The Riddler, the Joker, all of them, in the old "Batman" series used to do this. And what happened? Batman had them in handcuffs by the end of the next show. Darth Vader called off his squadron and said Luke was his alone to shoot down. We all know how that turned out.

Dumbledore is dead, but was the trip completely in vain? In one sense the answer is yes. They went for the Horcrux and didn't get it. However, the message from R.A.B contained in the fake locket said he or she was going to destroy the Horcrux. So the Horcrux might have already been destroyed. And, don't forget, Voldemort doesn't know it if we are to believe what the note says. Which means that Voldemort might still think he has six Horcruxes hidden around the continent like Easter eggs.

That's my logic and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

R.I.P. Dumbledore

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 27

Dumbledore is dead.

Yes, that took a few hours to sink in. I know people die down the stretch of this story. But Dumbledore? I envisioned an epilogue of Harry and Dumbledore sipping Butterbeers on the veranda at the old folks home for wizards and reminiscing about the old days at Hogwarts and of obliterated Horcruxes.

The shock of Dumbledore's murder should reverberate throughout the magic kingdom. It should kick Scrimgeour into some real action against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. But we shall see. He might try to cover the whole thing up.

My faith in Snape as a good guy has been severed. But what I don't get is why now? Snape could have found a way to eliminate Dumbledore long ago. It doesn't add up. Add it to the list of things to be confused about. But the next time (if there is one) someone works both sides I'm assuming they are with Voldemort. Fool me once ...

If you didn't trust Snape, a tip of the Sorting Hat to you.

What will become of Draco Malfoy? He cleverly used magic to set up the showdown with Dumbledore. But he clearly didn't want to go through with killing Dumbledore, and for that he might die. Perhaps Snape will shield him somehow.

I almost forgot about Harry standing there frozen and unable to help. I guess whatever charm froze him will thaw with Dumbledore's death. Also, as I recall, Dumbledore had the Horcrux locket in his pocket. How will Harry get it and kill a piece of Voldemort's soul?

And does Voldemort feel it when a piece of his soul dies? Or will he be surprised some day to be completely dead (yes, I'm sure he dies in the end)?

How will Harry ever recover the remaining Horcruxes without Dumbledore? Were any instructions left?

What will happen to Hogwarts? Too many possibilities to speculate. One thing is for sure. Snape won't be in class tomorrow.

The closer it seems we get to answers the more questions we get. This is wearing me out, but it's time to look forward and form a battle plan.

The fight has come to your doorstep, Harry. And this ain't Quidditch.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Cave men

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 26

I read this chapter on Saturday afternoon. I am writing about it Monday afternoon. This chapter hasn't kept me awake at night (plenty of other things to do that during the pandemic). The struggle is what to say that would (or at least attempt to) be insightful.

You've read it. You know what happens. The Inferi creep you out. You don't read it right before bedtime. And as my wife says, if she does read it after dark then she reads the next chapter before daring to turn out the light. Or, as she says she has also done on her five journeys through the series: stop half way, finish it the next night, then read the next chapter.

Who knew there were such strategies to reading Harry Potter. Any more chapters I shouldn't read at bedtime? No one warned me about this one. Fortunately, I read it in the middle of the day.

Something that amazes me about my wife and three daughters is their knowledge of specific chapters. Make that every chapter. I've heard them recite the chapters in order and give a summary of each. When I told one of them Saturday which chapter I had just read, she countered: "Oh, that means The Lightning-Struck Tower is next." Of course, she was right.

So what to say about Harry and Dumbledore and the Inferi Apocalypse?

The cave in question might not be your ideal Man Cave, but it is a Time-to-Man-Up Cave.

Dumbledore is really good at magic, but we already know that.

Voldemort was Dumbledore's pupil, so he can anticipate the Dark Lord's moves and tendencies. Not a stretch to believe that.

Dumbledore's trust in Harry is more evident after the whole potion-drinking ordeal. Twelve goblets full did seem excessive.

I never really thought about which Horcrux would be found. The locket is a good start. Will Dumbledore smash it or will he put some kind of wizard force-field around it? Not sure how that works, but I say destroy it into a million pieces.

The chapter finishes one of my favorite and telling lines so far: "I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore. "I am with you."

And to lighten the mood ...

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Matter of Trust

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 25

Haven't tried a Harry haiku for a while:

Harry's got a girl.
He's still obsessed with Malfoy
Road trip to the cave
So what if I'm not much of a poet
That's why I don't often show it
Now let's have a go of it

Collective 🙄 everyone.

Going on an adventure with Dumbledore is exciting, but I'm more intrigued by an ongoing storyline. Besides, what happens at the cave will be, presumably, covered in the next chapter.

Harry's obsession with Malfoy's secret shenanigans (at least that's how Harry sees them) has risen to paranoia, or descended into it, depending on your viewpoint. And when Harry discovered that Snape told Voldemort about the chosen one prophecy, well, Harry just became all kinds of unhinged.

Harry is convinced that Snape and Malfoy are conniving behind Dumbledore's beard to accomplish some sort of scheme for Voldemort, like find a Horcux he hid in the Room of Requirement. He may be right, he may be crazy.

The question is this. Can Dumbledore be that easily tricked to trust the wrong people? Not straight up, but by way of a spell? Possibly.

The other possibility the author has given us permission to consider is this: Through the leading of Snape, Dumbledore has enlisted Malfoy to find a Horcrux or something else of value for the fight against Voldemort. (But the whole thing about Malfoy's fear of being killed doesn't jive. Still, Harry heard only part of the conversation, and context can be everything.)

And thinking outside the cauldron, maybe Draco's father is behind this mission. The only thing I can say for sure is that it's definitely someone.

Because Dumbledore keeps telling Harry to let go of his obsession with Malfoy, it is logical to think Dumbledore knows exactly what Malfoy is up to because he's put him up to it. The need-to-know requirement is popular with Dumbledore, so it stands to reason he doesn't have a good reason yet to tell Harry. And now Harry has enlisted Ron and Hermione to spy for him. Who sees that not ending with someone in the infirmary?

Of course, it's difficult to imagine a world with Harry and Draco on the same side. But I won't rule it out. I expect a higher rate of unexpected twists to come in the final chapters of this book and the final book.

Hold on to your Horcruxes, it's time to go spelunking.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Well, obviously

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 24

I had a feeling that Myrtle's mysterious bathroom conversations were being had with Draco Malfoy. The poor boy was shaking, crying and in fear for his life.

Now just who would be the sort to threaten a schoolboy's life? Or who might be directing a minion to make such a threat? Got me. 😉

Harry's reliance on the Half-Blood Prince's scribblings finally backfires with a shout of SECTUMSEMPRA! Slughorn would not be proud. For almost killing Malfoy, I have to say Harry got off pretty easy with detention even if it is with a teacher he detests. Sounds like an expelling offense to me. Snape must want to keep Harry around.

Harry finally finds the Room of Requirement when he needs it most. Imagine that. Lots of things hidden in there. Wonder what Malfoy's been looking for in there and for whom is he working? Might the search be related to the topic of Horcruxes? Plausible, but perhaps too obvious.

Sometimes in my determination to see all the signs and be Captain Obvious, I miss clear clues and play the part of Captain Oblivious. But guessing is fun, even when I am way off.

Oh, to miss the championship match of Quidditch. But Harry was apparently a great captain. His team won it anyway and greeted him with a loud celebration. That had to feel good.

Of course it all worked out. So who in the room was surprised that Harry kissed Ginny in the celebration? Not those closest to them, I think. I know I wasn't oblivious to what was brewing.

Hope they had a nice walk.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Horcruxes revealed

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 23

Quick random thoughts as I was trying to fall asleep last night after reading this chapter and finally discovering the mystery of Horcruxes:

  • Wow!
  • Talk about selling your soul to the devil.
  • Like, how many times now does this mean Harry has to kill Voldemort? Gonna have to go back through the chapter tomorrow when I write about it. Too much to remember.
  • What would it be like to do a Zoom meeting with each piece of Voldemort's soul? Would they get along? Would they plot? Would they just hiss at each other?
  • Will there be a sixth "Diehard" movie. You could just call it "Diehard 6" to represent the six Horcruxes. Bruce Willis could play Sirius and come back from a faked death as John McClane. You know you'd go see it. 
  • Finally, someone should create a phone app game called "Whack-A-Vol."
Didn't you just love it that Dumbledore didn't care what time it was or how tired he was when Harry showed up with Ol' Sluggy's memory? How could either of them have slept anyway?

Sluggy is so gullible and naive, so undone by flattery, so bribeable. Or does he love how it makes him feel important to impart such secrets as he did with Tom Riddle long ago and now with Harry? He's like an anonymous source. Most anonymous sources love the power it makes them feel when they tell a reporter something they shouldn't. Sluggy is a complicated wizard, so take your pick.

As the plot moves we have aha moments. This chapter is obviously an aha, and it's one on which it seems much of the story going forward will pivot. Harry had an aha moment when the memory caused him to remember something Voldemort said during their encounter two years ago: "I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost ... but still, I was alive."

Only someone with no love in them could even contemplate the murders it would take to subdivide his soul into seven pieces like a farmer might do with a large plot of land. The way he was talking with Sluggy it seems obvious his decision to chase immortality was made then. What better way — in his twisted, sociopathic mind, heart and soul — to survive a war to "purify" the magical race. Each Horcrux is like an escape tunnel, like another life in a video game, another way to pay back his mother for making him a mudblood. This is fiction, but it makes you shudder to think someone could pursue such evil.

On to the quest to find and destroy the Horcruxes and ultimately Voldemort himself when he has nowhere left to hide or Death Eaters to protect him. Here we go with a countdown so I will get this straight and will have a reference point to look back on should I get confused, which is more than possible.
  • Voldemort, we learn from Dumbledore, created six Horcruxes through murders he committed. This is why, when Voldemort's curse to kill Harry backfired it didn't completely kill him off. When Wormtail helped Voldemort regenerate his body from his wandering piece of soul, that allowed the seven pieces of his soul (six of them Horcruxes) to be Voldemort again.
  • Harry is reminded that he destroyed the first Horcrux when he stabbed Tom Riddle's diary. That leaves five.
  • Dumbledore destroyed a Horcrux when he worked his magic on Marvolo's ring and was left with a withered hand. That leaves four.
  • There are theories about what objects could contain the four remaining disembodied pieces of Voldemort's wretched soul. 
    • One could be the Slytherin's golden locket Voldemort stole from Hepzibah.
    • Another could be Hufflepuff's golden cup Voldemort also stole from Hepzibah.
    • There's a complicated theory that involves the snake Nagini as a possible Horcrux (more on that coming).
    • And then maybe something that belonged to Ravenclaw or Gryffindor or both.
Dumbledore has been quite the researcher, but he is puzzled by the day Voldemort killed Harry's parents and tried to kill baby Harry. Dumbledore said he thought that murder would be the creation of the sixth Horcrux, but Voldemort's first body, so to speak, died that day. His best guess is that when Voldemort returned he created No. 6 in Nagini when he killed a Muggle man. That's possible, but I don't think Dumbledore is convinced.

That brings us to the discussion of the prophecy, which comes across more like a suggestion the way Dumbledore explains it. Voldemort, he said, created the enemy of Harry because he believed the prophecy of the "Chosen One." Confusing, I know.

I like what Dumbledore says about tyrants fearing the ones they oppress. That is so true of all tyrants from leaders of nations to selfish politicians to insecure bosses.

In the end, it seems Voldemort has set in motion his own downfall in a classic battle of a being with no ability to love vs. a human being with a remarkable ability to love and truly more to fight for.

Now that we know all the stakes, the Order of the Phoenix can go on offense. At least that's what I think will happen. And sadly I don't think Sirius was the final death we will see for the good guys.

Let the Horcrux search-and-destroy mission begin. (And I would like to know for sure who the Half-Blood Prince is.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Better to be lucky

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 22

The oddest of things happen in this chapter. And I don't mean that just because my wish for something of real consequence to happen came true. That proves you don't need magic. Just "Destination, Determination, Deliberation" will do. (And I still wish apparation was a real thing.)

The first domino to fall is the death of Aragog. I must admit that because I am 9 years, 11 months into this not-so-widely-read project, I forgot who or what Aragog was. Keeping track of Hagrid and his zoo in the forest requires a database.

Most of the time what happens in this book is not what you see coming. I had given up on any kind of magic working on Sluggy to give up his Tom Riddle/Voldemort memory. I bought into Hermione's logic.

I admit I have picked on Ron. I know there are readers out there who think highly of Ron. But, come on, no way anyone saw it coming that Ron would suggest Felix Felicis — the lucky potion — as the way to finally get Sluggy to surrender his memory. Hermione was stunned. Of course, she wondered how someone of her intellect hadn't thought of it. Just unlucky.

Then the luck begins for Harry.

If you want to get someone to blab and give away state secrets, what better way to do it than for the person to sit down at the same table as Hagrid. Dumbledore is wise to keep Hagrid at Hogwarts, tending to his animals and away from anyone who would try to get him to talk about the Order of the Phoenix, Harry or anything to do with the war against the Death Eaters.

Sluggy, under the in-direct influence of Felix Felicis, walks blindly into an impromptu social gathering at Hagrid's cabin, has too much wine and finally talks. It was just that simple. Why didn't I think of that?

Harry also deserves some credit for his persuasive way with Ol' Sluggy. His final statement after handing over the memory finally shows his reason for not wanting to share. "Just don't think too badly of me once you've seen it."

With any luck, Harry won't.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The unknowable chapter

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 21

Just what exactly happened in this chapter to move the story forward? Felt a little like another day, another COVID-19 news conference with little to no status change.

  • If Harry's progress to get Sluggy to talk was going any slower, it would be moving in reverse.
  • I do agree with Hermione. Harry will have to persuade the old professor to spill it about Voldemort and Horcruxes. No spell or trickeration will work.
  • Harry does learn that Dobby and Kreacher have followed Malfoy to the Room of Requirement, aka the Unknowable Room. But Harry can't find the door and learn anything. So not much progress.
A wise man once said: If you can't find a door, look for a window.
  • Snape is as grouchy as ever toward Harry and Ron. What deep, intellectual answer was he looking for about the difference between an inferius and a ghost? Probably nothing. Just showing his superiority again.
  • I do wonder who Myrtle was looking for in the boys room. Seems like Harry and Ron should have been more inquisitive.
  • Quite a mysterious encounter with Tonks. We wonder along with you, Harry. Why does she need to find Dumbledore?
  • Invisibility cloak and marauder's map sightings are always fun. Scaring Goyle half to death was funny. But another dead end.
Questions, questions, questions.

Was this chapter a big set-up for the next couple chapters, the rest of the book? We need answers and something big to happen soon. Will I get my wish?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Friends and enemies

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 20

Ron and Hermione are friends again following the tumultuous events of chapters 18 and 19. Near-death experiences sharpen one's perspective on life.

They thought about what's truly important: friendship and being united sidekicks for the Chosen One. They are the role players, the trainers in Harry's corner, the ones who put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

With the synergy back they can focus on the important business of Malfoy's secret plans, Sluggy's secret memories and the worst-kept secret of the elephant in the room. Or the elephants if you count Harry's secret feelings for his best friend's little sister. Awwwwkward.

Harry was humbled by disappointing Dumbledore in his failure to get Sluggy to talk about his Tom Riddle memory. Harry's creativity will be put to the test with Sluggy. Simply asking will never work. Maybe the Half-Blood Prince has scribbled a potion in the margin in the back of the book that would do it? That's just a guess, but magic must play a part it seems. Or maybe Harry just needs to find out what Horcruxes are first to make Sluggy talk.

I am baffled by Dumbledore's logic. He couldn't get Sluggy to talk, but he thinks Harry can? Must be one of those Chosen One things. All in good time, I suppose.

The first trip into the pensieve shows more of the same about Voldemort. He's a thief and a murderer. And he obviously knew what he needed to achieve his goals. In his mind, nothing will stand in his way.

Until, of course, we come to the second memory. Dumbledore firmly stands in Voldemort's way. No doubt the Dark Lord wanted to use a teaching job as a trojan horse to infiltrate Hogwarts, overthrow Dumbledore and turn the castle into a military stronghold and place for training Death Eaters in the dark arts. I suspect Dumbledore had the same or similar fears.

So it's off to find Sluggy, extract that memory and finish the Voldemort puzzle. Good luck, Harry.

P.S. Dumbledore's final statement about not being able to keep a DADA instructor for more than a year since Voldemort was turned down for the job is chilling. But I have no idea what it means.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Spy game

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 19

Some plot moments you just see coming. Some also have a little unexpected twist, which keep you reading.

  • Saw it coming: Ron wants to break up with Lavender. Didn't see it coming: He's trying to weasel out of the relationship by pretending to be asleep. smh
  • Saw it coming: Hermione is worried. Didn't see it coming: So much so that she's being unusually quiet. 😲
  • Saw it all coming: McLaggen is a one-man wrecking crew against his own team, especially his captain. Know-it-alls are destined to fail. 🅵
  • For sure saw it all coming as soon as he showed up: Hagrid can't keep a secret and can't stop talking about it. 🙊
Then there are the full-blown, magic-wand-waving plot twists that apparate the story forward. Every chapter does this. I had just about given up on a way for Harry to keep tabs on Malfoy. Those mangy little house elves actually have a greater purpose.

Satisfaction comes in knowing that Kreacher has to obey Harry even though he doesn't want to. And more satisfaction comes in knowing that Harry has closed every possible loophole (at least it appears that way) Kreacher could use to disobey. Dobby, however, needs no convincing to do his master's will.

Theories abound about what Malfoy and Snape are up to. I'm going with Harry's theory in regards to Malfoy. No doubt he is up to evil. My trust in Snape, however, has not wavered. I'm sticking with the loyal-to-Dumbledore theory. I might be proven wrong, but this is fiction and I have nothing actually at stake.

This does mean more frustrating scenes with house elves fighting, Kreacher saying rude things and Dobby literally beating himself up. But that's the price you pay for a clever plot twist.

Both sides in this war of good magic and evil magic are deep into the spy game now. Who can we trust?

Those are the plot moments we don't get to see coming.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The crux of the matter

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 18

Horcruxes, it seems, have just become a major development. Exactly what kind of development I'm not sure.

Here's what I've gleaned so far:

  • They have an evil purpose and someone invented them or waved a wand and muttered something unintelligible. Poof, we now have Horcruxes.
  • People, at least the few who seem to know about them, are more afraid to talk about them than they are to say the name Voldemort.
  • Not much is known about them. If Hermione can't find a 10-pound, dusty book about them then there probably isn't a book to be found.
Here's what I don't know:

  • Is a Horcrux and animal, vegetable or mineral?
  • Is it a physical thing, a mystical thing, a spell, an abstract idea, the Latin word for Death Eater?
  • Whatever it is, does Harry have to kill it, find it, avoid it, learn how to use it, learn how to defeat it?
Those of you who finished these books ages ago are smiling because you were once clueless. Or you're making fun of me. "It's 2020 and you don't know what a Horcrux is? Dude, you are so behind the times." If J.K. Rowling is reading this — and who's to say she isn't — she's probably saying, "Just finish the books already." She would have a point.

I've been to the Harry Potter worlds at Universal Orlando. I've lived in a house full of Potterheads for years. And this is the first I'm hearing of Horcruxes? The entire universe has either done a masterful job of keeping a secret or Dumbledore's used some kind of spoiler-alert charm.

Just how will Harry get Slughorn to say more about Horcruxes? Hard to say, but events like Ron's love-potion seizure, Slughorn's failed potion and Harry's quick thinking to grab the bezoar might begin to break down Slughorn's reluctance. Ol' Sluggy is a fanboy of Harry, for sure, but building trust takes time. Maybe Harry finds out another way, maybe everyone finds out all at once or maybe Harry breaks Sluggy down honestly or by slipping him some veritaserum (that's a thing isn't it?).

My assumption is that Harry's actions saved Ron from something worse than a seizure. And maybe this episode will wake Won-Won up to his true feelings.

Or just make him dumber.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Memories of the way they were

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 17

Sign me up for Apparition lessons. Apparating from place to place is the most magical of all magic tricks. Sam did it on "Bewitched" all the time. Just think, with a little wiggle of your nose:
  • You would have shorter commute times.
  • You could work in a cold climate but spend the rest of your time in a tropical climate.
  • You could take a thousand short vacations without scheduling time off.
That's just a short list. I'm positive all of us could add to it with a little thought.

The reason for this chapter, not coincidentally I'm sure, has a lot to do with now-you-see-me, now-you-don't.

Harry's first post-Christmas "lesson" with Dumbledore are about memories that act a lot like my own dreams. They're fuzzy, in and out of focus and difficult to remember.

Tom Riddle, aka Voldemort, murdered his muggle father and grandparents while a prefect at Hogwarts. There must be a word or phrase in the magical world for juvenile delinquent. Of course, Voldemort was already much worse than that, and he was building a following like a cult leader does.

Imagine if the ministry had dug deeper after those murders. Instead, it accepted Morfin's confession and moved on while the real killer went free. Voldemort at that age probably wouldn't have been powerful enough to stay out of Azkaban. Would've saved everyone a lot of trouble if Columbo had been on the case.

Don't know what to make of the second memory starring Slughorn and the murderous young Tom Riddle. What did Riddle say that caused Slughorn to bury the memories?

Don't ask me. That's Harry's job to discover. Maybe he'll start going to all of those Slughorn parties he's been working so hard to dodge. That's what Columbo would do.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Good for you, Harry

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 16

First, another chapter in which we learn unexpected things. Some propel the plot, some just add to our knowledge of the way of life for magical folk or a little of both.

So you die if you break an unbreakable vow. (Did I know this already. Can't remember.) That puts double-agent-man Snape in some tight spots around the Malfoys.

Everyone, it seems, trusts Snape because they trust Dumbledore who trusts Snape. This could put Harry in a tight spot. (I just watched "O, Brother, Where Art Thou," and Everett says "tight spot" like four times in one scene. It's funny.)

Celestina Warbeck punishes magical folk with awful Christmas songs like the one we're forced to hear every December: Last Christmas I gave you my heart, the very next day you gave it away. What does that even mean?

Lupin has been undercover with other werewolves. And the appropriately named Greyback is a general in Voldemort's growing army of mercenaries. Good to know for when the moon is full.

And Lupin, so he says, knows nothing about a Half-Blood Prince.

Second, 100 points to Gryffindor on behalf of Harry for standing up to the scheming Minister of Magic and knowing who to trust. With a name like Rufus Scrimgeour what else would he be but a schemer. The war has three sides: Voldemort/mercenaries, Dumbledore/the Order of the Phoenix and the Minister of Magic/minions.

The Order and the Ministry would presumably be allies. But they're not playing nice right now. The Ministry is building a political house of cards, and no one wants to be aligned with a house destined to collapse. Yes, it will be the Order that brings down Voldemort. And the Ministry of Magic will always be a step (or many steps) behind. But Schemegeour, or whoever replaces him in the meantime, will swoop in to take the credit. That's what my crystal ball says.

Oh, and I wish garden gnomes were real. But I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Bad dreams are made of this

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 15
For most of this chapter, how many of you – and be honest – felt like you had just awakened from a bad dream about junior high? Then you replayed the events in your head as you brewed your morning coffee and smirked.

I rarely remember enough of a dream to be able to repeat it. But it's all trapped in my head, and I know some of this stuff happens. We could all write a junior high memoir that ain't pretty.

Some chapter highlights:

  • Harry dodging the mistletoe traffic. I can relate to Harry as a shy young teen, but some guys I knew would have walked right into the middle of this.
  • Harry the teen idol. Yes, there was always one or two. I have no idea what that feels like as much as I have no idea what it's like to be in a boy band.
  • Ron and Hermione talking to Harry about their troubled relationship. We've all been Harry in this one. And I never knew what to say. Dr. Phil's the one with the PhD. Go ask him.
  • Girls hoping to slip Harry a love potion? Well, love potions aren't real, but I remember girls at times going to great lengths to be noticed. Of course, guys can also plead guilty to that.
  • Hermione's sweet-sounding sentiments about her date meant to stab Ron in the heart. As blunt as she usually is, that was smooth.
  • Hermione's jealousy. We've all seen it. But to be fair, the worst cases I ever saw were the guys being jealous.
  • Harry is worn out by this feud/lover's quarrel between Ron and Hermione. He'd probably be OK with some forehead burning about now.
  • So Harry invites Luna Lovegood to the party and friend zones her. Classic. And the gossip of it spreads faster than a Quidditch snitch.
Meanwhile, back to the major plot theme. Harry does his best James Bond and follows a villain out of the party, presumably with no one noticing. Harry ... Harry Potter, has a gadget Q never invented for Bond – an invisibility cloak.

That brings us to the unbreakable vow. I knew the vow (based on the title chapter) would have nothing to do with teenage relationships, but I had no clue what it would actually be.

Draco speaks to Snape as a peer, not as a professor. That's revealing. An unnamed master is mentioned, but his identity seems obvious.

Snape's unbreakable vow to Draco's mother is intriguing. How does this affect my Snape is a double-agent-loyal-to-Dumbledore theory? From what or whom is Snape actually protecting Draco? The answer can be assumed, but it's not clear.

As Harry sits under his cloak with his mind racing, I'll go to bed tonight hoping I don't dream about junior high.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Love is in the mist

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 14
Hermione loves that Harry is learning the traits of a young and psychopathic Voldemort. As she says, Harry just might discover some of the Dark Lord's weaknesses. But that's a competition for another day.

We learn in this chapter that competition definitely brings out something in people. Not sure it's always the best. In fact I'm sure it's not.

However, the Quidditch match did bring out the best of the Gryffindor team in its domination of the Slytherins. Nice motivational technique by Harry. Ron, of course, would succumb to the placebo trick. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if Ron's confidence disappears before the next match. It doesn't take much to send Ron into spiraling self-pity. Harry might have to slip the mickey for real next time.

The true competition in this chapter concerns hormones and snogging.

Hermione likes Ron, and Ron likes Hermione. But neither will admit it or do anything about it. This relationship has your typical rom-com plot written all over it. Ron's fling with Lavender Brown will end as quickly as it began. Will Ron and Hermione be snogging in the final scene? Grab the tissues.

While the Ron-Hermione match is no secret to Harry, he suddenly has a big secret. His gut quite literally tells him that he has special feelings for Ginny. He is denying it, of course, and I'm quite sure he will continue to do so for quite some time. Even when he admits it to himself, he won't want anybody to know. Harry has to have a secret to carry around of some kind or else he wouldn't be Harry.

So where does all of this teenage angst lead in the cold, misty air of Hogwarts? Will love potions be slipped into pumpkin juice? Will love spells be cast?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

More riddles to be confounded by

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceChapter 13
Yes, it's been a while since you've heard from me. But with entertainment options limited and no games to go to, now seems like a good time to renew my quest. The coronavirus (which sounds strangely like a magic spell) can't take away all of our fun.

Speaking of magic spells, make that curses, Katie Bell is thankfully recovering from whatever curse was on that necklace. In time (not to sound like Dumbledore, but I do), I suppose we will find out who was the intended target of the curse. And maybe who sent it.

Snape has Katie's recovery under control we're told. As a double-agent truly working for Dumbledore (that's my current opinion; see my post on Chapter 2 of this book for why), he might be able to conjure a way to figure out who it was meant for and who sent it.

Harry's eagerness for his face-to-face "lessons" (no distance learning required at Hogwarts) will be interesting to follow. There is a heavy nature to these encounters with memories swirling about in the Pensieve that could be mentally taxing for Harry. But his curiosity always pushes him forward even if it sometimes betrays him.

Harry is convinced that Draco Malfoy is a death-eater-in-training. He might be, but it seems that Dumbledore would be attuned to the future of Draco based on his experiences with a young Tom Riddle.

I would be judgmental to accuse Dumbledore of having been naive with the fledgling and orphaned (at least by his mother) Voldemort. No doubt he believes he should have seen darkness coming in young Tom Riddle. I'm sure he's had his wand up ever since those days when a student like Draco shows up. He knows, I assume, what to watch for.

What are we to watch for? Who is the Half-Blood Prince? What more will the Pensieve reveal? Who is Snape's true master? As always, there are more questions than answers.

And I'll keep trying to answer them.