YOU GUYS, THIS BOOK. The logical part brain keeps making fun of the rest of me for being so excited about this, since I’ve read the whole series more than once and watched all the movies and it’s not like I don’t know what’s going to happen. But fortunately the logical part of my brain is the smallest of all the parts of my brain, and is often drowned out by the excited chatter going on in all the other parts of my brain. Because reading this book again, these two chapters specifically, I felt the whole gamut of emotions. I felt a combination of emotions my current self is feeling for these characters I’ve known since I was eleven, and also that kind of time-travely feeling when suddenly you’re fourteen again reading this book about kids who could be your peers and feeling the helplessness caused by the injustice of the grown-up world right along with them. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the more negative ones and work our way up, shall we?
CHAPTER 24: RITA SKEETER’S SCOOP
Emotions: Frustration; Rage; More rage; Restored faith in humanity
The chapter starts out innocently enough. I mean, how bad can things go with someone named Grubbly-Plank at the helm? Bonus: The sentence, “They prefer the woman’s touch, unicorns.” As a lesbian who often jokingly refers to herself as a unicorn, by the time I got to this part in the chapter, I was quite amused. Happy as could be. Then who has to come along to ruin it but Draco Malfoy. Though he’s not the source of the rage this chapter gives me, just the annoyance. The rage is thanks to one Rita Skeeter.
Rita Skeeter might be the character I hate most of all seven books. (DON’T QUOTE ME ON THIS, PUT YOUR QUICK-QUOTES QUILL AWAY. I reserve the right to change my opinion later.) I think Hermione says it best when she calls the so-called “reporter” an “excuse for a human being”. A rotten excuse, too, if you ask me.
Her crime this chapter is revealing in a very public way that Hagrid is a half-giant. Her article is riddled with twisted truths and quotes from unreliable sources and just loads of balderdash. It makes all of us a little rageful, the Trio and me.
To continue the streak of grown-ups-being-terrible, when Harry, Hermione, and Ron get to Hogsmeade, Ludo Bagman pulls Harry aside and tries to give him secret help for the next leg of the Triwizard Tournament. Harry is sick of being treated differently, even when it was in his favor, and refuses the assistance when he learns Cedric wasn’t offered the same courtesy. Between that and Crouch being mysteriously out of commission, by the time Rita Skeeter shows her horrible face in the Three Broomsticks, Harry has had quite enough. He yells at her, drawing the attention of everyone in the pub, but he doesn’t even care. Rita tries to use this to her editorial advantage, but Hermione steps up to keep Harry from saying anything else. Then comes the SECOND supposed adult to insult Hermione’s physical appearance in this book so far.
Which is where my rage caps off. I don’t know if I’m capable of feeling more rage than I did reading this scene. I was really hoping this:
Hermione stood up very abruptly, her butterbeer clutched in her hand as though it were a grenade.
was going to result in Rita’s perfect curls being matted to her stupid face. Alas, Hermione took the high road and steered them out of the pub. Fueled by the adrenaline from this fight, Hermione nearly knocks down Hagrid’s door from sheer will and is surprised to find Dumbledore on the other side of it when it finally does swing open.
Hermione’s (and my) rage is quelled by Dumbledore, who reminds us that there are still decent grown-ups out there who aren’t just marginally tall adolescents in fancier robes. Dumbeldore, along with the Trio, convinces Hagrid that he should pay no mind to Rita Skeeter, and that he is absolutely not allowed to resign.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: THE EGG AND THE EYE
Emotions: Amusement; Excitement; Anxiety; later, rinse, repeat
I love everything about this chapter. I love that we know that the password for the Fat Lady is ‘banana fritters’ and the one to the prefect bathroom is ‘pine fresh’. I love that there’s a prefect bathroom. I love that the prefect bathroom has a pool-sized tub* with a hundred different nozzles. I love that Moaning Myrtle creepily spies on naked prefects. I love that Harry can literally do nothing on his own and always needs someone to press the correct answer into his hand. He can see a shiny golden snitch from miles away while high atop a broomstick, but he can’t see answers that are literally handed to him.
It is because of this trait that Harry puts off following Cedric’s advice to take a bath with the egg until the last possible minute. After sufficiently filling the tub with bubbles, and being given very explicit instructions from Myrtle, Harry learned that there were merpeople in the lake, and that they would be taking something of his that he would have to retrieve. He asks Myrtle how he’s expected to breathe underwater, but this sends Myrtle into a wailing lament about her inability to exhale any longer.
Satisfied with his knowledge, Harry sets back off down the corridor with his egg, Marauder’s Map, and Invisblity Cloak. As he’s checking the Map to ensure the coast is clear, he notices something peculiar – a dot labeled “Bartemius Crouch” was wandering around Snape’s office. And now for a line that perfectly describes the singular thing that rockets the plot of these books along in their particular trajectory:
Harry hesitated, thinking…and then his curiosity got the better of him.
Oh, what boring books these would be if Harry’s curiosity didn’t regularly get the better of him!
In this particular instance of Harry not minding his own business, karma gets the better of him, and he ends up with one leg stuck in a false step, still under the Invisibility Cloak, the golden egg at the bottom of the stairs, wailing its indecipherable song, and the very against-the-rules Maurader’s Map just out of reach. All this commotion attracted the attention of the two people least likely to show him mercy: Filch and Snape. Filch wants to use this racket to get Peeves kicked out of Hogwarts once and for all, but Snape is more concerned about who has just been in his office. Their bickering is interrupted by none other than Mad-Eye Moody, who, as luck would have it, can see right through Invisibility Cloaks.
With some quick talking and a passive aggressive threatening, Mad-Eye convinces Filch and Snape to bugger off. When they’re gone, Harry thanks him helping him out of the hole he got himself stuck in, both literally and figuratively. In exchange, Moody asks Harry if he can borrow the Maurader’s Map. “Sure why not, you seem like a real stand-up guy, helping me break the rules and all,” Harry says, giving up what just might be the most useful and most underused tool in his arsenal.
Harry still has a lot of questions, but something Moody said had caught his attention. Moody had suggested maybe Harry should be an Auror one day. Harry! The boy who lived under the stairs probably never wished to grow up to be anything but living far away from the Dursleys. And Harry Potter, Hogwarts student, found his first home here in these castle walls, and hadn’t yet thought of what he might do after his time here is done. The chapter ends perfectly, because J.K. Rowling is a genius, with one last thought on the matter from Harry before he drifts off to sleep…
He thought he’d like to check how scarred the rest of them were before he chose it as a career.
*Where do non-prefects bathe? The only bathroom we really get to see the inside of is Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, and as far as I could tell, it was just a regular school bathroom with stalls and sinks. Are there showers? Baths? Dinosaurs who spew water out of their trunks? Do they just magic themselves clean with scouring charms? Is this one of those things I would have learned on Pottermore if being bad at potions didn’t give me a complex and make me take a hiatus?