Carrying on with the HBP spoiler commentary – wow, these chapters really pack a punch. I really think I'll be doing this chapter by chapter from now on because there's just so much stuff! <3 HBP. I can't believe I've written fic before I got done with the canon processing, but the fic, it seduces.
HBP Commentary: previous parts.
Chapter 4 -- Horace Slughorn
Aw, Harry is embarrassed for the scene he'd caused at the end of OotP. Aside from an "I told you so" to the OotP!Harry haters, there's just no comment I can make. ♥ Harry.
Dumbledore is well aware that Harry is beyond danger when he's with him. I don't think I say it often enough, but Dumbledore has always been my favourite character. What many see as ego I see simply as an accurate and fair assessment of his own abilities and strengths, and I admire people who are frank and honest about what they can and cannot do.
Here comes the Side-Along Apparition. Loved the description of it -- very similar to what I would have imagined Apparition to feel like. I wonder if we're going to have a scientific assessment a la The Science of Harry Potter of why Apparition feels the way it does.
The adverbs continue to burn me. Solicitously? Come on, Jo. Dumbledore said something brightly? Did he sparkle in the moonlight? Or is that a reference to his twinklage? Meh.
Harry: But I think I might prefer brooms.
Best unintentionally pervy line in this chapter, I think.
We're getting to the good stuff here, with discussion of Harry's scar. So Volders realised that it's dangerous to let Harry into his brain and he's using Occlumency against him. I called it, I did. :>
Interesting scenery, by the way: a war memorial with benches, then an inn and a few houses, a telephone box, a bus shelter. I love the village name, too -- Budleigh Babberton. I Googled it but only came up with HBP-related results; my knowledge of Brit geography is severely limited -- but I do know that Chipping Clodbury (from earlier canon) is a nod to Chipping Sodbury. There's a Budleigh Salterton, which is a coastal town in East Devon.
So Dumbledore reminds us that once again we are a staff member short at Hogwarts. I was going to wait with this until the relevant DADA-position-memory chapter, but I was afraid I'd forget. So, theory time. Obviously, at this point, Harry thinks that Slughorn's been invited to teach DADA but Dumbledore says no such thing. So, that means that Dumbledore has already given Snape the DADA job. But... Dumbledore knows the position is "cursed" for reals -- so what does this mean? He had never given Snape the DADA job before, thinking that he'd succumb to his obsession (not that he worried that Snape would be gone after a year of teaching DADA). So Albus knows that the DADA job is cursed. Albus gives Snape the job. Something is fishy here, unless JKR simply wrote herself into a corner with the "literal" curse on the DADA job.
"Oh, I think we'll find a use for you," said Dumbledore vaguely.
This is what I mean by adverb abuse. That adverb is unnecessary here, because the statement itself is vague already. It needn't be reinforced *how* Dumbledore says this phrase; it's already clear that he's being vague. It's inelegant, because what she really means to convey is that Harry finds this information vague (in case the reader is thick and hasn't realised that "Oh, I think we'll find a use for you" to a direct question is a rather vague thing to say).
Haha, the odd misty chill reminds Harry of Dementors. Once again, Harry is unusually perceptive -- he doesn't know that the mist is actually Dementors having raunchy sex, but he's got good instincts, bless him.
So it's not just Hogwarts that's protected against unwanted Apparition, it's most wizarding dwellings. Which makes me think of Fred and George who Apparated inside Grimmauld Place in OotP -- does that mean that GP is not protected against unwanted Apparition? I don't think so.
Consider -- we've been told many times that you can't Apparate or Disapparate at Hogwarts. However, the elves do Apparate and Disapparate within Hogwarts (and I called it, and it's canon, too -- in a later chapter, Dobby and/or Kreacher are clearly referred to as either Apparating or Disapparating, I can't be arsed to check which, but it is there).
ETA: white_serpent pointed out that HBP mentions the anti-Apparition wards being relaxed in order to accomodate the Apparition lessons. Which leads me to ask - if these Apparition lessons are held every year, why didn't Voldemort or the DEs ever take the opportunity of the relaxed security?
The streets are "steep" which is making me think even more that this Budleigh Babberton place is definitely based on the coastal town I mentioned as there are likely to be steep streets in such a town (as opposed to a town that's on flat land). Of course, it could also be a town that sits atop a hill.
And again, Scrimgeour! We met him once in GoF before, I love it when she does this, seriously. <3 <3
'Is he ... do you think he's good?' asked Harry.
'An interesting question,' said Dumbledore. 'He is able, certainly. A more decisive and forceful personality than Cornelius.'
I think a bit more is happening here than we realise. A few lines later Dumbledore also says that Scrimgeour "does not underestimate" Voldemort. Given what we know of Scrimgeour's methods and his track record of arrests throughout this book, that sounds awfully like Barty Crouch, Sr., doesn't it? Will history repeat itself? Notice that Harry is asking if Scrimgeour is "good" -- and obviously he's referring to "Scrimgeour-as-Minister" sort of "good" not an overall sort of good, but Dumbledore's always struck me as a very abstract thinker. So, maybe we should be on the lookout for evil!Scrimgeour (not merely annoying politiwonk!Scrimgeour).
It's interesting that Dumbledore has nothing but a platitude to offer about Amelia Bones.
I really loved the exchange between Dumbledore and Harry here, about the Ministry leaflet and jam flavours. Dumbledore is so himself, and Harry is so himself, and the exchange is just so HARRY POTTER. I love it all to pieces.
Right, the Inferi. Everybody and their Kneazle has an opinion on these, ranging from "zomgwtf Harry will have to face his zombie parents omg so cool!!!1" to "zomgwtf zombies, wtf jkr wtf????/". My reaction is more along the lines of "zomgwtf Neville's parents are gunna die and Neville will have to face them when they are part of Voldemort's Army of the Dead!!!1".
Canon point: Inferi have not been seen for a long time, however, not since Voldemort was last powerful ... he killed enough people to make an army of them, of course.
So there were Inferi around during the Marauder era (well, during the war years, anyway). Cool. And a whole army of them, too; just in general, throughout this book I think I finally began to sense just how terrible the first war must have been. You've got a larger number of Death Eaters, you've got this scary powerful dark evil dude, a zombie army, plus with all the extra information we've gained on Mr Voldiepants, I'd really love to see some plotty long genfic about the first war and just how awful it was back then.
And just out of aesthetic considerations, I love the words "Inferius" and "Inferi". I mean, they are zombies, but they are zombies with class, y'know? :>
[...] Dumbledore stopped dead and Harry walked into him
Unintentionally slashy line #298349238
"Not pretty, is it," he said heavily.
Gah, JKR. Gah. That comma before the end quote should be a question mark. The verb should be 'asked' not 'said' (because that sentence is construction as a question, kthx) And gah. Heavily. *claws eyes*
Dumbledore swoops. Swoops. Birdlike. happiestwhen, this is proof positive of your OTP, as far as I'm concerned.
Slughorn! I shall have ample opportunity to squee over him, obviously, but I just wanted to have a compilation of Slughorn's physical attributes. To wit: enormously fat, bald (shiny pate), old, has prominent (large, round, pale gooseberry-coloured, watery) eyes and an enormous, silver walrus-like moustache. Wears lilac silk pyjamas with a maroon velvet jacket. Short and round, with pudgy hands and a vast forehead (which means he's smart, kthx). When he sighs, the ends of his moustache flutter. His legs are so short that when he sits down, they do not touch the floor. He has a wide behind and stubby fingers.
[Tangentially, I had this really odd visual of Don Quixote!Dumbledore and Sancho!Slughorn throughout this whole scene.]
Favourite Slughorn quote in this chapter: He seemed remarkably unabashed for a man who had just been discovered pretending to be an armchair. Just ♥
Here we have more of Harry's unusual perceptiveness -- when Dumbledore seats him, it's to "keep him as visible as possible".
I wonder why it's only Dumbledore who ever conjures up furniture and drinks. Everyone else prepares drinks the old-fashioned way, by handling the decanters and glasses themselves. *sigh*
Oo, new magic. Intruder Charm. So much for wards, fanon. *demands fic that describes how Intruder Charms of various degrees work*
The ring on Dumbledore's finger -- large, clumsily made of gold and set with a heavy black stone that's cracked down the middle. It's not clear if he's letting Slughorn see the ring on purpose (because he obviously recognises it, which we're clued into thanks to Harry's uber-perceptiveness).
Bang! The Death Eaters want Slughorn, or Slughorn thinks they might want him (to use in coercion, torture and murder). Can I just squee about the Slytherin-ness of Slughorn here? Foresight, meticulous planning, flawless execution. *fangirl squee*
Harry noticed the size and shape of Slughorn's behind. So young, so tortured, so confused. So gay. *cackles*
I think it's cute that Harry's sick of hearing how much like his father he looks and that he's got his mother's eyes. I don't know why; I just think it's cute. <3 Harry.
Lily used to give cheeky answers! <3 <3!
All of the Blacks were Slytherins except Sirius. This means: Bellatrix, Andromeda, Narcissa, Regulus and all of their ancestors, presumably. Andromeda a Slytherin. Ted Tonks, her future husband, had been a Muggle-born and while it's unclear whether Slytherin even allows Muggle-borns, it's probably a safe assumption that it doesn't (?). So, there is a definite possibility of inter-house relationships that involve Slytherins. Colour me vindicated, bitches.
(I may or may not have ranted about this on here -- come to think of it, I don't know if I did, but I do remember indignantly snarking at someone in IM. I'd received a review on AGS where the reviewer smugly pointed out that obviously Slytherins are so insular that no Slytherin would ever date someone who wasn't in their house. I could not throw canon at them then, now I can. Sort of.)
Here we have a pang of Sirius angst, wherein an invisible hand twists Harry's guts. Aww.
More backside noticing by Harry. Really, darling boy, you are in so much denial. Ginny who? *mwee hee hee*
Another point of note -- there does seem to be this overarching belief in the wizarding world that pure blood = better magical ability. We are told that Muggle-born Lily was extraordinarily talented and we see that Muggle-born Hermione is extraordinarily talented. But Lily and Hermione seem to be, dare I say it, special. Maybe the belief is true, and more wizarding blood really does equal better magical ability, with a few notable exceptions? I certainly don't see Hannah Abbott or Justin Finch-Fletchley or the Creevey brothers demonstrating any astonishing magical talent. We're also told by Slughorn about Dirk Cresswell.
Speaking of Cresswell -- Slughorn says that he's Head of the Goblin Liaison Office and gives excellent
Aah, and we've got a non-Order member talking about the Order of the Phoenix, but didn't Hermione say in OotP that it was a secret society? What the hell is the point of having a secret society (or at least calling it that, and Hermione never messes up terminology) if everyone knows about it? I'm disappointed by this. Perhaps, of course, Slughorn knows of the Order because he'd been previously involved with it, but I doubt it.
Dumbledore, a knitting patterns fanboy. Did I expect this? You bet your ass.
And hello, canon proof of Harry's prejudice against Slytherins. Jesus, if it isn't obvious to some people by now, I'm going to break it the fuck down for you, mkay?
Prior to Slughorn mentioning that he'd been Head of Slytherin? Harry seems genuinely interested in him and they even share a quiet bonding moment over Umbridge. Then Slughorn drops the Head of Slytherin bomb and WHAM. Harry's face immediately betrays his opinion, so much so that Slughorn, "vain" and "self-satisfied" as he is, notices. (Lockhart would have mistaken the look on Harry's face with awe, mind you!) Harry immediately thinks Slughorn's prejudiced, based on nothing -- nothing that Slughorn overtly does or says. Prior to the HoS bombshell, he was described with adjectives that were noncommittal, painting a picture of an eccentric but shrewd old wizard.
Once the bomb drops, he's "smiling in a self-satisfied way". Harry immediately speaks derisively to Slughorn, reacting to the opulence around him as a contrast to Sirius's pitiful existence during the war (and it never enters Harry's mind at this point that Sirius, too, could have done the same thing Slughorn had -- haunted empty houses and had everything he wanted. They both were avoiding notice and capture, only Slughorn went about it in a different manner. The difference here is that Slughorn is a shrewd Slytherin and Sirius was a reckless Gryffindor. *smug*) *cough*
Anyway, then Harry "had been sure" that Slughorn would have been one of "those" fraidy-cats who can't bear to hear Voldemort's name. The subtext here seems to be that "those wizards" are to be despised, even though Harry's very own Wheezy flinches at 'Voldemort'.
Once Harry and Dumbledore leave Slughorn's temporary house, Harry isn't sure if he liked Slughorn or not because of course Slughorn is "vain" (meanwhile, Fleur, who seems far more vain than Slughorn by a long shot, is never described as vain -- hey, she's not a Slytherin!) and naturally, Harry doesn't believe that a stinky Slytherin wouldn't be prejudiced against Muggle-borns.
And then the kicker -- the great swollen spider metaphor, with spider!Slughorn catching large and juicy flies, twitching around in its web. Way to twist the knife, Harry. Seriously -- Harry hates Slytherins, this is painfully clear in this chapter without the need to specify it, but you know what? I don't blame him. He does have reasons for his prejudice -- although they are very childish reasons, they are there. One of my main hopes for Harry in the series is to see a point where he actually gets to realising that "hey, I've just judged this person based on their House affiliation. That's just like basing my judgements on purity of blood! Omg, I'm a berk!"
And after meeting Slughorn, I'm now terrified that he's going to turn out to be a Death Eater. *sigh* Just because of the whole "omg Slytherin iz ebil!!1" undercurrents throughout the series so far. Honestly, after this book, I am confident that JKR will not use such a cop-out but we'll have to see. But as someone I was talking to right after the release has already said (sorry, I don't remember the LJ name *fails*), this was the Slytherins' book, very much so. They got depth, they got more shades of grey than OotP gave them, they got personalities. And Blaise. Mustn't forget the lovely canon Blaise. :>
"He has never wanted to occupy the throne himself; he prefers the back seat -- more room to spread out, you see."
Oh my GOD, would you believe it? Not all Slytherins are megalomaniacs? They're not all constantly locked in a constant power-struggle as they try to sneer each other off the throne? Who'da thunk it? THANK YOU JO. Just.. yes. *prostrates self* This is precisely what Slytherin fen (well, at least those of us who do not bartend. In the dark.) have been saying all along, fandom. Precisely. Guh. That whole passage about Slughorn's networking reduced me to such a puddle of fangirly goo that I had to put the book down for a moment and wipe my misty eyes. Well, not really, but the whole "I TOLD YOU SO" aspect of it is exciting. >.>
[...] the Boy Who Lived ... or, as they call you these days, the Chosen One.
I think this quote proves pretty conclusively that there seems to be some sort of canon-internal reason for the change in Harry's perceived identity. Someone had suggested on my previous post that "Chosen One" is just a convenient thinger to use instead of "BWL" because Harry isn't a boy anymore, but I don't think that's the case.
ETA: search_soleil suggests: I was under the impression that the nickname change was due to the abrupt shift in the public's perceived reason as to why Harry survived Voldemort in the first place. Before OotP, people generally assumed that Harry escaped Avada Kedavra due to some sort of freak accident and/or miracle. In GoF, Moody offers no explanation as to why Harry survived the Killing Curse, just points out that he managed it. Post-Department of Mysteries, the public suspects (in one of the Prophet articles, I don't have my copy of HBP with me for anything exact) that there is some sort of prophecy regarding Harry and Voldemort. They now have reason (er, sort of) to believe that Harry's survival was not an accident, but that he was "chosen" to survive and to defeat Voldemort. Ergo, Harry is now nicknamed The Chosen One and not the Boy Who Lived.
I love it how the first thing Harry associates with Molly is her cooking. Teenagers are so cute. "OMG FOOD! YAY! I LOVE YOU!" Come to think of it, many grown men I know are rather similar in their approach. -.-;;
Harry and Dumbledore in a broom shed full of spiders. Must not write Harry/Albus missing scene. Must not write Harry/Albus/spiders missing scene.
More Sirius angst, and awww. *cuddles Harry* And Harry is back to his boy-hero mantra again. *yawn* And Dumbledore encourages it. Bah. You people are turning him into this total Gryffindor without a shred of inner-Slytherin. Stop it!! *moue*
Heh. Readers of the Daily Prophet, they're like fandom, in a way. They're reading the news and guessing what really happened from the subtext!!1
Very interesting point Dumbledore makes here, I think it bears illumination: he thinks that Harry is doing Ron and Hermione a disservice by not telling them about the prophecy. He says that Harry needs his friends. And it's really a "well, duh" thing for me personally but I think it's going to become very, very important.
Private lessons, some more Dumbledore!remorse over Snape just so we don't forget that he feels bad -- check. More sage advice from Dumbledore; the Weasleys are being protected by the Ministry because Harry is coming to stay, and Dumbledore actually tells Harry not to do anything stupid. W00t! He's acting like the responsible adult he should have been since book 1! I knew by this point that I would love this book to pieces no matter what else happened. <3 <3
P.S. Harry is still skinny.