There are two things that I’ve learned from the Medicinal Re-Read in the last thirteen chapters, and those two things are these: (1) I’m the only non-English major in this bunch of re-cappers (so far?), and (2) I am really fucking old. I am ancient. I am dirt. I was HALFWAY THROUGH LAW SCHOOL when I found myself sick in bed for an entire week, deliriously drifting in and out of a feverish consciousness, and luckily for me, HBO was running the first HP movie pretty much on repeat. So that is what I watched that week, in out-of-order snippets, mainly because Alan Rickman was in it, and I do so love me some Alan Rickman.
Eventually I got better (obviously), and I never much thought about anything other than The Law again until suddenly, everywhere, everyone was talking about the Brand! New! Harry! Potter! Book! that was Coming! Out! Soon! And I was all*, “What is this Harry Potter about which everyone speaks?” And my friend Erin was all, “Blah blah blah Alan Rickman blah blah,” and I was all, “Oh yeah, that sounds vaguely familiar now. Maybe I should check that out.”
So I found myself with four (non-law) books to read before the fifth was released, and read them I did. And liked (obviously). And here we are, TEN YEARS after the release of the first Harry Potter book I read in real time along with the rest of y’all, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is not the book that I’m supposed to be writing about right now. The book I’m actually supposed to be writing about right now is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, specifically chapters 14 and 15, and I’ve had two vodka sodas to calm my writin’ nerves, so let’s do this thing.
Chapter 14: Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback
I’m now ten years removed from schoolin’, but boy howdy does the beginning of this chapter still resonate. At what age do we finally stop waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, heart pounding from the nightmare of showing up to finals, only to realize we’ve skipped AN ENTIRE SEMESTER of classes? I mean, what was Dream Me doing all that time? Sleeping? And if Dream Me was sleeping, was Dream Me also having nightmares about finals? And if so, WHY DIDN’T DREAM ME START GOING TO CLASS? Life is a mystery. Everyone must stand alone.
ANYWHO, we start the chapter with Hermione in full Hermione mode, which is pretty much the complete opposite of Dream Me mode; i.e., she’s in the library studying her bum off according to meticulously color-coded study schedules. And she’s dragged Harry and Ron with her. One person she hasn’t dragged to library with her is Hagrid, but he shows up anyway because:
So the gang’s all invited down to Hagrid’s hut to have yet another chat about the titular Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, and while there, our intrepid heroes discover exactly what Hargid’s been arming himself against: a big black egg in the fireplace. This is going to go well. Well, maybe it will:
‘Well, I’ve bin doin’ some readin’,’ said Hagrid, pulling a large book from under his pillow. ‘Got this outta the library–Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit–it’s a bit outta date, o’ course, but it’s all in here. Keep the egg in the fire, ’cause their mothers breathe on ’em, see, an’ when it hatches, feed it on a bucket o’ brandy mixed with chicken blood every half hour. An’ see here–how ter recognize diff’rent eggs–what I got there’s a Norwegian Ridgeback. They’re rare, them.’
He looked very pleased with himself, but Hermione didn’t.
‘Hagrid, you live in a wooden house,’ she said.
Ehhhhh, maybe not.
So then we do some more studying until Hedwig delivers a simple note: It’s hatching. By the time Harry, Ron, and Hermione make it down to Hagrid’s hut, Hagrid has become the Mother of Dragons. Well, one dragon anyway, which he’s named Norbert. And I think we can all pretty much agree that baby Norbert RULES.
What does not rule, however, is Malfoy, who’s caught spying at the window and running off like the little bitch he is. But actually it’s pretty lucky that he is such a little bitch, because otherwise I’m not sure Hagrid would have been convinced to give up baby Norbert (I certainly wouldn’t have been). Realizing that the status quo is untenable, Harry has the brilliant idea to get in touch with Ron’s brother Charlie, and soon a plan is planned to spirit Norbert off to Romania, land of dragons and vampires**. Unfortunately that plan is discovered by Malfoy when Ron inexplicably lends him the book in which Charlie’s letter is hidden, and now I’m wondering whether Malfoy ever actually returned that book when he was done with it. I bet he didn’t.
But it’s too late now (which, incidentally, is a phrase I utter on a daily basis when plans go awry). On the appointed night Hagrid packs up Norbert and his teddy bear (in case he gets lonely), says a tearful goodbye, and sends him off under the Invisibility Cloak with Harry and Hermione. En route they witness Malfoy’s planned ambush thwarted by Professor McGonagall, clearing their way to the top of the tallest tower. And so we bid farewell to Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback; our time was short, but our memories are long. Unless you’re Harry and Hermione, that is; the big dummies left the Invisibility Cloak behind.
Chapter 15: The Forbidden Forest
“Things couldn’t have been worse.”
Let’s agree to disagree.
Poor Neville Longbottom. Even when he’s trying his very best to do right by his friends, he somehow always manages to get himself into trouble. In this case, he’s caught out of bed after hours, trying to warn Harry of Malfoy’s ambush. But Professor McGonagall isn’t having any of Neville’s good intentions and docks Gryffindor 50 points. Each. And then we get to what I think is perhaps the funniest sentence in Book 1, and possibly Books 2-7 as well: “It was a bit late to repair the damage, but Harry swore to himself not to meddle in things that weren’t his business from now on.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
I repeat: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Soon after Harry overhears what he assumes is Snape bullying Quirrell yet again about the Sorcerer’s/Philosophers Stone, and I nearly die of shock when he convinces Ron and Hermione to do absolutely nothing about this. But their resolve is not tested for long, because it’s detention time!
Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Malfoy are sent off with Hagrid to do servant stuff at eleven o’clock at night, and I seriously hope they don’t have classes the next morning because that’s some child endangerment shit right there. But I guess sleep deprivation isn’t as dangerous as, oh, SENDING CHILDREN INTO THE FORBIDDEN FOREST, which was deemed OFF LIMITS TO STUDENTS by Professor Dumbledore on the first day of school. I don’t know; just spit-balling here.
So Hagrid divides the kids up into teams, the purpose of which is to more efficiently endanger children as they search for an injured unicorn and the “summat bad” out there that injured it. Malfoy immediately calls Fang for Team MalBottom, and I can’t really blame the little punk because I’d totally want Fang on my team, too. Cowards or not, puppies are adorable.
The teams split up, and it’s not long before Team 3H meet some centaurs being centaurs. Then Malfoy does what Malfoys do, Hagrid swaps Neville out for Harry, and shit starts getting scary.
Malfoy let out a terrible scream and bolted–so did Fang. The hooded figure raised its head and looked right at Harry–unicorn blood was dribbling down its front. It got to its feet and came swiftly toward Harry–he couldn’t move for fear.
Then a pain like he’d never felt before pierced his head; it was as though his scar were on fire. Half blinded, he staggered backward. He heard hooves behind him, galloping, and something jumped clean over Harry, charging at the figure.
See what I mean? SCARY. The galloping figure turns out to be our (soon-to-be) good friend Firenze, a decidedly UN-centaury centaur, who saves Harry, vows to stand alongside humans in the face of evil, and tells Harry (and us) that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named can now add unicorn-vampire and Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone theft co-conspirator to his rap sheet.
The chapter wraps up with Harry finding his forgotten Invisibility Cloak hidden in his sheets with this note pinned to it: Just in case. Because as I know, you know, and whoever left that Cloak knows, Harry’s meddling days are far from over. And thank Santa for that, eh?
* Not an English major.
**That’s what is says on their money, anyway.