When I was in college my mother had a job where she used AIM to communicate to her coworkers in the office. AIM, boys and girls, stands for AOL Instant Messanger. It was how people communicated when they couldn’t be bothered to talk face in the dark ages before text messaging and facebook. I, like most people I knew, also had an AIM account. I don’t remember how my mom got my AIM name, if I gave it to her or she just kind of picked up through that magical osmosis moms have. But she got it and she used to IM to chat. In all caps, because her work was done in caps and she never turned capslock off.
Besides checking on how I was doing BY SHOUTING AT ME LIKE THIS, my mom also liked to talk about Harry Potter. She was a big fan. Not because she’s read the books – that would take too long – but because she loved the movies. The trick with that is that it’s awfully hard to speculate about book seven when the movies were years behind. In the frantic lead up to the release of Deathly Hallows, my mom did what she could to satisfy her curiosity: she prowled the internet for speculation and spoiled, and IMed me.
The following is our exact conversation just before the book came. I saved it because it is a sparkly fluffy unicorn of wonderfulness and should be shared. I originally posted it on my livejournal, which was a blogging website people used to communicate when they weren’t IMing each other.
MOM: did you hear what jk rawlings said about book 7?
Me: actually no, I didn’t.
Me: I only heard bits and peices through the grapevine
MOM: so do you think she’s gonn kill off harry?
Me: well, I’m fairly sure a Weasley is gonna die.
Me: there’s a bajillion of them and there’s no way they can all live.
Me: But I really don’t want her to kill off Remus.
MOM: remus? which one is that
Me: Remus Lupin. The Dark Arts teacher in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Me: the werewolf.
MOM: MAYBE IT WILL BE BOTH MALFOY’S….VOLDEMORT COULD KILL’EM OTH
Me: though some good character has to die too.
Me: there’s no way they’re all coming out alive.
MOM: SO KILL THE THE WELP!
Me: I’m still holding out that Draco might be redeemed.
MOM: NOPE AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN
Me: you think so?
MOM: I THINK SO…HE WON’T BE THE EVIL REDEEMED ONE I THINK BARTY CROUCH JR WILL BE
MOM: THE PRODIGAL SON THANG
Me: no. it can’t be Barty. The dementors sucked out his soul.
MOM: SO WE HAVE 2 BIBLICAL REFERENCES…THE RESURECTION & PRODIGAL SON
Me: that’s quite a theory.
MOM: IT COULD WORK
MOM: WHAT ABOUT PROFESSOR MAGGIE SMITH…COULD BE HER
MOM: SURE-TAKING ONE SO THAT DUMBLEDORE SURVIVES
Me: she definitely would be one to sacrifice herself, I think…
MOM: SO THEN WE HAVE PROFESSOR MAGGIE SMITH & LUCIOUS…IS THAT OUR GUESS THEN?
Me: I thought you wanted Draco to get it?
Me: and my money is still on a Weasley.
MOM: I DO WANT DRACO TO GET IT…IS HE MAIN CHARACTER ENOUGH THOUGH?
MOM: IT COULD BE PAPA WEASLEY-HE TOUCHES A TAINTED PORT KEY & BLOWS TO SMITHERINES
Me: I think he’s a main character.
Me: and lol, what a way for Arthur Weasley to go.
MOM: PRETTY COOL HUH…I SHOULD BE A WRITER
MOM: WE HAVEN’T TALKED ABOUT OH CRAP I FORGOT HIS NAME…HAIRY BEAR
MOM: YEAH HIM
MOM: HE’S TOO NICE
MOM: GOTTA KEEP HIM AROUND FOR HARRY
Me: good point.
MOM: AND HEROIMINE AND RON HAVE TO SURVIVE TO MAKE LITTLE WITCHES & WIZZRDS
MOM: WHAT ABOUT REPORTER BETTY BOOP?
Me: I don’t really think she’ll turn up.
Me: she doesn’t really have a part to play.
Me: and her name’s Rita Skeeter
MOM: WHAT ABOUT AUNT & UNCLE ASSHOLE?
Me: I think they’re safe too.
Me: they don’t have very much to do with Harry.
MOM: WHY-VOLDEMRT COULD TORTURE THEM TO DEATH TRYING TO FIND THE LOCATION OF HARRY
Me: but they wouldn’t know where he was.
MOM: VOLDEMORT WOULDN’T KNOW THAT
Me: no, he wouldn’t. but Dumbledore put magic on their house for protection.
MOM: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?
Me: it was in the books.
MOM: oh…i haven’t read those
CHAPTER 26: GRINGOTTS
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are preparing to set out on their plan to steal Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup from the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange, where Voldemort has left it for safekeeping. For a chapter that ends with the Trio escaping on the back of a dragon, I almost don’t want to talk about the plot. Hermione polyjuices into Bellatrix, Ron is disguised, and Harry and Griphook hide beneath the Cloak. On the way, they run into Travers, who accompanies them to the bank. In desperation as their plan unravels, Harry casts the Imperious curse on a Gringotts goblin and Travers. The Trio are revealed for who they are by Gringotts anti-theft measures and are nearly crushed to death under a rapidly multiplying mountain of gold in the Lestrange vault as everything they touch reproduces itself. Desperate and with no way, they escape by freeing a much-abused dragon and riding it away.
Those are the things that happened. What interests me are the things the Trio do to accomplish their plan and what it means. The entire idea is based on deceit: they promise Griphook the sword of Gryffindor in exchange for his help and plan to doublecross him by keeping it. It’s underhanded and dirty, especially because Griphook expects to be betrayed since goblins have been screwed over by wizards pretty much since forever. When Griphook runs away with the sword, shouting that there are thieves in Gringotts, you can’t really blame him.
There’s a difference between what is easy and what is right and the Trio falls beyond the line here. Sure, they are dealing with enormous stakes and trying to save the world but that doesn’t make it right. It’s certainly not right for Harry to use an Unforgiveable on two people, even if one was a Death Eater. Harry took away someone’s free will. He was presented with a choice and that’s what he did. He robbed two others of the things that make them people. That matters.
The other thing that intrigues me is Hermione’s discomfort at using Bellatrix’s wand. That wand, as she points out, tortured the Longbottoms and murdered Sirius. It’s done terrible things. She is worried about using something like that for herself. I tried to come up with an analogy but none seemed to fit. It’s not like picking up a gun that was used in a murder because guns are only meant to kill people and wands have other purposes besides destruction. A tool isn’t really responsible for how it’s used but wands are personal extensions of the self. Using Bellatrix’s wand aids in turning Hermione into Bellatrix. I wouldn’t want to pick up her wand either. Of course, I believe a person leaves a little piece of their soul inside every book they read in exchange for the way a book captures the heart so my opinion may be a little unusual. Hermione has been using a wand that has been used for evil.
By the end of the chapter, all three of the Trio have been a part of something just a little bit wrong and it’s unfortunate that’s not explored more.
CHAPTER 27: THE FINAL HIDING PLACE
This is a shorter chapter, one of the ones that exist to move the pieces around the board. Harry, Hermione, and Ron jump from the back of the dragon into a lake, lest they be stuck on its back forever and then summarily eaten when it finally does land. They haven’t gone far when the link between Harry Voldemort fires back up.
Harry sees the Dark Lord recieve the news of the theft. He handles it, well, badly, killing not only the messenger but anyone who happens to be standing in the room. You’d think he’d be short on an army if he killed his soldiers every time he was in a mood but I suppose they don’t call him a Dark Lord for nothing. Harry knows Voldemort’s mind as Voldemort considers his options. His Horcuxes, which always felt secure, are suddenly in jeopardy. It’s no longer safe to leave them hidden about like prizes in an RPG quest. Voldemort decides to check on his remaining pieces of soul, starting with the Guants. Nagini will stay with him now it’s no longer safe, the diary is gone, now the cup. He makes his list, never considering that the link he once used to manipulate Harry into the Department of Mysteries reveals him. Through the link, Harry learns the hiding place of the last Horcrux.
The Trio must go to Hogwarts.