Jul 10 2014 11:00am

The Harry Potter Reread: The Chamber of Secrets, Chapters 11 and 12

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets coverThe Harry Potter Reread is thinking about getting a jaunty hat to wear, because if a reread can’t be fashionable, then what’s the point? Also, because then it could use the word jaunty more often, which is depressingly underused in modern speech.

This week we’ll get our behinds handed to us after being taught some bogus curse defenses, and then turn into half-cats. Sort of. It’s chapters 11 and 12 of The Chamber of Secrets—The Dueling Club and The Polyjuice Potion!

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

Chapter 11—The Dueling Club


Harry wakes up after his bones have grown back and goes to find Ron and Hermione. They’re working on the Polyjuice Potion—everyone in the school already knows what happened to poor Colin Creevey, and Hermione is keen to get the rest of the ingredients for their stew. Problem is, in order to get it, she has to raid Snape’s personal stores. In order to do that, they need a diversion. Harry launches a firework into Goyle’s cauldron when Snape’s back in turned during Potions, dousing several students with Swelling Solution. Hermione gets the goods and Snape is, fortunately, none the wiser (though he is much angrier).

A Dueling Club is announced, and a good portion of the student body is excited to try it out. That is, until they realize that Lockhart is instructing (with Snape as his grumpy Vanna White). Snape trounces Lockhart in the first demonstration, then they pair the kids off to practice. Snape forces Harry to pair with Draco. Hermione ends up paired with a Slytherin girl named Millicent Bulstrode. Draco and Harry get a couple good hexes off at each other before Lockhart and Snape halt the lesson. Lockhart suggests that two students demonstrate blocking opponent’s spells, and Snape recommends Harry and Draco because he clearly wants some entertainment out of this horrible evening.

Lockhart pretends to teach Harry how to block while Snape whispers evil plans to Draco. Draco then produces a large snake with his spell, which Lockhart then angers as he’s trying to dispose of it. The snake charges toward Justin Finch-Fletchley, and Harry runs to intercept, calling the snake off. Surprisingly, the snake listens. More surprisingly, Justin is mortified and the student body collectively backs away from Harry.

Ron and Hermione cart Harry off to the Gryffindor common room, where they explain that Harry didn’t just talk to the snake—he was speaking its language. He’s a Parselmouth, which is a problem because old Slytherin was himself. That is why the emblem of his house is a snake. And now everyone is going to think that Harry is the Heir of Slytherin. Harry tries to deny this, but he is reminded of how the Sorting Hat wanted to put him in Slytherin house before he requested another. He decides he’ll apologize to Justin and clear things up, but encounters a group of Hufflepuffs in the library who are convinced that he’s the Heir. He confronts the kids (led by Ernie Macmillan), telling them what happened, but they won’t believe him.

Harry storms off, only to run into Hagrid. He decides against telling him why he’s upset, then ends up in a corridor where he finds Justin and Nearly Headless Nick petrified. Peeves sounds the alarm and students flood the corridor to find Harry at the scene of the crime. McGonagall drags him off to Dumbledore’s office, telling Harry that his fate is out of her hands.


It occurs to me that if Harry had wanted to be a Marauder-style troublemaker—if his school years had been less fraught with actual peril, of course—Hogwarts would have had a real problem on their hands. His stunt in Potions goes down flawlessly, and no one sees him? Harry’s got some skills.

In regard to the black market amulets being sold around the school, these are the sort of inner workings at Hogwarts that I always want to know more about. School trades, note-passing, what sort of little tricks the students from wizarding families are pulling on the Muggleborns every year.


I have to assume that the reason Snape is helping out Lockhart is probably on orders from Dumbledore. Hard to imagine any teacher volunteering for that position, Snape least of all. And of course it puts him in a foul mood, to the point where specifically humiliates Neville in front of a sizable portion of the student body. I’m sure plenty of them know not to take his abuse seriously, but really? Kid’s already in a panic that the Heir is after him, leave Longbottom alone.

On the other hand, I’m so bemused by the fact that Harry hits Draco with Tickling Charm. I know that he probably doesn’t know anything more serious to cast, but it’s weirdly adorable? We can assume from the whispering that Snape gives Draco the spell for the snake, which I suppose his thinks is scary and clever and the emblem of their house, but could this club be run more irresponsibly? Between Lockhart being incompetent and Snape using it as a chance to give his favorite kids open season on his least-favorite students, this is basically a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Rowling chooses to have us find out about Harry’s ability to speak Parseltongue at the same time he does, which is chillingly effective. What seemed like a fun aside in the opening book is cast in an entirely new light, particularly when we find out that he’s speaking a different language without knowing it. Both really cool and completely terrifying. This is where one of the key themes of the book comes clear—Harry’s continuing fear that perhaps he should be in Slytherin, that there’s something innate in him that belongs there. The idea that he might be Slytherin’s heir is only making that fear sharper. (It would be useful if someone maybe mentioned to Harry that his family home was Godric’s Hollow, about as far from Slytherin as you can get, but you know how everyone is about giving Harry useful information.)

Hermione, like the logical kid that she is, figures he can fix this all with an apology. I do wonder how widespread the rumors about Harry are in this book. Do the older kids really care much? I feel like the upperclassmen would be less likely to buy those rumors, at least at the start. Even so, Ernie is building a pretty damning argument, even as he ignores Harry’s friendship with Hermione. (This becomes a problem later, of course, once she’s petrified too.) And then he button-pushes by mentioning the Dursleys, and Harry understandably withdraws.

We’ve got our next clue with the dead roosters Hagrid is planning to see Dumbledore about, but again, there’s no reason to think that this would be related to what’s happening with the Chamber. That is, unless you remember that in mystery yarns, everything you learn is always relevant.

And even after the conversation with the Hufflepuffs, nothing can prepare you for how the walls start edging in on Harry as he stumbles across more bodies and Peeves shrieks for the world to hear. Even on a reread, my anxiety skyrockets right there; Rowling knows exactly how to pace her tension out at these points. It never rains but pours for the Boy Who Lived, and he’s on a pretty awful losing streak here.

Still, knowing that the password to Dumbledore’s office is “Lemon Drop” helps to alleviate some of the horror. So that’s something.


Chapter 12—The Polyjuice Potion


Harry waits in Dumbledore’s office while McGonagall goes to speak with the headmaster. He sees the Sorting Hat and tries it on again—the hat assures him that it stands by its initial instinct, that Harry would have done well in Slytherin. Harry doesn’t want to believe it. Professor Dumbeldore’s bird suddenly bursts into a ball of flames. Harry tries to explain when Albus comes in, and finds out that the bird—Fawkes—is a Phoenix and just ending his current life cycle. Hagrid bursts into the office to assure Dumbledore that Harry didn’t attack anyone, but Dumbeldore already knows this. He asks Harry if there’s anything he needs to disclose. Harry decides to keep it all to himself.

While Fred and George take to joking about it, most of the students at Hogwarts now seem convinced that Harry is Slytherin’s heir. Everyone is scrambling to get home for Christmas and away from the school, but Harry stays with the Weasleys and Hermione, and Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle stay as well. The Polyjuice Potion is ready on Christmas, and Hermione wants to use it that evening. They enjoy their Christmas dinner before she lets Harry and Ron in on the plan; they are going to drug Crabbe and Goyle with chocolate cakes, get some hair off of them for the potion, then stuff them in a closet and go hang out with Draco. Hermione is using a hair she got off of Bulstrode in their duel. The plan goes off without a hitch, but Hermione decides she’s not going. Harry and Ron run around desperately searching for the Slytherin common room. (They might have tried a little reconnaissance before Operation Heir?)

They have a run-in with Percy, then get found by Draco himself, who brings them into the Slytherin common room. Draco shows them a newspaper clipping about Arthur Weasley being fined over his car, then goes on about how much his dad hates the whole family. Ron has a hard time keeping himself in check. Unfortunately, Draco is not the Heir of Slytherin, and he’s not even a very good source of information. Lucius Malfoy would only tell him that the last time the Chamber was open a Muggle-born student died. Harry and Ron have to run away as they begin changing back, feigning a stomachache for Crabbe.

They head back to talk to Hermione, but she won’t come out of the loo. It turns out that she got a cat hair off of Bulstrode’s robes, and since the potion isn’t meant for inter-species transformations… she’d not turning back. Harry and Ron take her to the Hospital Wing and figure that Madame Pomfrey won’t ask…


I want to live in Dumbledore’s office. It sounds comfortable and comforting at once, full of funny little instruments and furniture, and questionable smoke and old portraits. It gives that “grandparent’s house” impression while still maintaining the mystery Dumbledore has around him.

Then we get to the Hat and the furthering of that previously mentioned theme—Harry wants the Sorting Hat to assure him that it made the right choice, but the Hat stands by its original thoughts where Harry and Slytherin are concerned. Now, it is often pointed out that this is likely due to the Sorting Hat sensing the part of Voldemort that resides in Harry from the final Horcrux, but Harry does have certain attributes that work for the house; say what you will, he’s pretty darned cunning and definitely resourceful. So I suppose I’m wondering if anything that the Hat sensed might have originated with Harry? I’d like to think it was a smoosh of confusion rather than, O HAI THERE VOLDYMORT, I KNOW WHAT HOUSE U GO 2.

Always did love how Harry frets over explaining to Dumbledore that he didn’t kill his bird. It’s also a great intro to Fawkes, and it’s clear that Albus knows giving Harry information on the bird will be super essential later on. He lays it on thick, explaining his abilities and how loyal phoenixes are. Pay attention to bird! says Dumbledore. Bird special. Bird fiery. Bird important.

This moment in his office, however, it strikes me as far more important on this go-around; Harry often prefers to keep his concerns to himself, but this here is really the first time when an adult indicates that they can help Harry, and he very consciously turns down the offer in favor of keeping to himself. This is a defining characteristic for Harry, his tendency to keep secrets when he desperately needs to tell people what’s going on. And as becomes typical, a large portion of the reason he choses to keep to himself is out of fear that there’s something wrong with him.

Which is really when I realize that the events of this book imprinted hard on the poor kid. He gets so frightened of the Parseltongue, of potentially being the Heir of Slytherin, that this behavior continues well beyond second year every time something goes wonky. His scar hurts, but he can’t say so. He’s getting visions, but that’s no one’s concern. He’s frightened, but he probably shouldn’t trust the closest people to him because he’s not sure what they’ll think. And this is sort of where it starts, at least to such a serious degree. Hagrid offers to help before this, but Harry ostensibly turns him down because Hagrid can’t really do much. Dumbledore could potentially, but Harry still backs away. Even more interesting is you have to assume Dumbledore is suspicious and still allows Harry to do so. He lets Harry handle the situation the way he choses, without the pressure an adult figure would typically assert. He likely wants to see what Harry is going to make of this on his own.

I love Fred and George making a joke out of the Heir rumors. Such a perfect way to lighten the mood and let everyone know how ridiculous they think the accusations are. If I were Harry, I’d also be grateful.

Christmas and the Polyjuice Potion. Damn, Hermione should be special ops, she is not playing around here, you guys. Although I do find the idea that Crabbe and Goyle could still be hungry after an unending feast a little hard to buy. Also the fact that Harry and Ron actually get their shoes, but don’t change into them before taking the potion. Common sense, wizards do not have it. On the other hand, I do love that Harry and Ron are bright enough to give each other tips on how to act more like their borrowed faces.

The bit with Percy seems like a clue, but of course, we’ll learn later that this is all Penelope Clearwater. And then Draco shows up and ushers them down to the Slytherin common room (the password is pure-blood? Really???).

So, Lucius Malfoy is on the Board of Governors for Hogwarts. It is never made clear as to whether the board is part of the Ministry of Magic, although they are not discussed when the Ministry takes over the school in Book 5. What we do know is that the board has power to make major over-arcing decisions for the school, such as appointment of staff. Wonder how one gets elected to that lofty position? It is a bit annoying that we never hear about it or encounter any other members.

Lucius Malfoy is a smart guy, and Draco is… not so bright. He complains about how his father won’t tell him anything about the Chamber of Secrets and what’s going on because Lucius doesn’t want Draco connected to any of it. That is smart of Lucius. Yet Draco is babbling about it in the house common room. I know he probably figures he’s safe because he’s among Slytherins, but seriously? You don’t think it’s possible that someone might betray you in the right circumstances? I know there aren’t many kids around at that point, but I don’t get the impression that Draco is ever good at keeping his mouth shut. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to understand how Lucius Malfoy convinced the wizarding courts that he wasn’t following Voldemort willingly.

And then we get the great reveal of Hermione’s poor half-cat transformation. Which is really just a bit of fun, at that point. Funnier still when you think about Madame Pomfrey simply rolling her eyes and taking care of business, rather than bothering them about what happened. If she’s so unflappable, you have to figure that what she encounters any given year is always this crazy.

Emily Asher-Perrin wonders what is truly the weirdest thing Poppy Pomfrey has ever had to deal with. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Chris Nelly
1. Aeryl
I always figured that Dumbledore had deduced what the creature was, and chose a phoenix as his pet since it was the only cure for Basilisk venom.

The worst of Harry's "I'll take care of it myself, THANK YOU" attitude comes through in OOTP, and I can't even really fault him in that one.

He can sense that people are keeping things from him, which leads him to desire to return the favor.

And then there is another dynamic at play here, which is how many times his correct suspicions and deductions are poo pooed by Ron and Hermione. In HBP, he suspected the truth about Malfoy, and no one believed him, aside from Dumbledore, who made the error of failing to tell Harry that he did*. Mr. Weasley did eventually follow through on Harry's suspicions, but not to Harry's face. In DH, Harry deduces the truth about the Hallows and Hermione poo poos him. The book even has to inject a scene to give Harry the credibility to be right after that(because when is Hermione wrong?), the Potterwatch scene where Remus states his instincts are nearly always right.

So I can see how this constant stream of disbelief from those around him has shaped him into the person who doesn't confide in others for help. His concerns about other's reactions is truly a large part of Harry's character, and a part of why Ron's abandonment in GOF hurts so much, is Ron was always the guy on his side regardless.

As far as why Snape agreed to do it, I think it was because it gave him the chance to humiliate Lockhart.

Oops, forgot my note

*Look, I get that things have to happen for plot reasons, but I see no reason why Dumbledore couldn't have confided to Harry, whom he was already entrusting a great deal of sensitive information, that he did suspect Draco as well, and maybe even confirm that Snape had discovered the truth while spying of the Order. It would have calmed the tensions between the two, given Harry a smidge of a reason for why Dumbledore trusted Snape, and they still would have had the same argument when it became time to leave Hogwarts to go for the locket.
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
In re Crabbe and Goyle, the movie did a good job with that moment, IMO, having their arms be full of other treats to demonstrate their greedy nature.

It failed to demonstrate why exactly they'd eat those treats right away, while their arms were still full, but oh well.
Kit Case
3. wiredog
this is basically a lawsuit waiting to happen.

The whole damn school...
Kit Case
4. wiredog
Also, how these kids don't get expelled... Drugging fellow students? Maybe Crabbe and Goyle are too stupid to realize they've been dosed, but if they aren't, how does that not raise hell when parents and teachers find out? I imagine Snape's reaction would be severe.

I know that in American schools, in the late 70's, dosing a fellow student could get you in a world of trouble.
David Levinson
5. DemetriosX
We talked with the last book about Harry's trust issues, especially when it comes to adults. When has he ever had an adult he can trust prior to arriving at Hogwarts? Sure, by this time he ought to trust Dumbledore and MacGonagall, but he has years of suspicion and distrust to overcome. (Well, that and the fact that most of these books would be short stories if Harry just went to Dumbledore with his problems sometime around October.)

Although Dumbledore lays on the exposition with a trowel, Fawkes' introduction is pretty well disguised as a sensawunda moment. We strart off with humor, and then everything Dumbledore says could be simply chalked up to explaining what a phoenix is to younger readers who might not know.
Kit Case
6. wiredog
The intro of Fawkes is another example of Chekhov's Wand in action here...

Who was it who said, early in the reread, that the plots of HP don't bear close scrutiny? The same is true of the worldbuilding...

That said, I do like the books. Enough to have reread them a few times.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
7. Lisamarie
I'll just stick my thoughts in here on a chapter by chapter basis:

The Deuling Club
One of my favorite parts of this chapter is the Snape/Lockhart dynamic. As horrid as Snape is, it's great to see him out-snark and out-do Lockhart :)

Quibble I've always had - while JK Rowling is pretty awesome, and I think also has some good quotes on the use of fat as an insult to girls, it bothers me that pretty much all the Slytherin girls are described as ugly, unpleasant, etc (not to mention Petunia, Aunt Marge, Madam Pince, Umbridge, etc). I think maybe with the exception of the Veela, she falls into the trope of ugly=bad quite often.

This might be a quibble with your word choice, but did you mean to say that Justin was mortified? He didn't strike me as being embarassed. I'm wondering if you meant something like 'horrified' instead.

Agree with you that the way they reveal the Parselmouth is awesome, and the way it keeps causing Harry (and the reader) to wonder if there is more to the Hat's suggestion than we thought. And the rooster detail as well.

The Polyjuice Potion
Nooooo, Harry - I always have to groan a bit when he doesn't confide in Dumbledore here. I know why it is (and I also wonder if some of it is due to the Dursley's upbringing of him and hammering in his head that he shouldn't ask questons or bother adults) but it's so painful, especially as I was the opposite as a kid and pretty trusting of adults even if I had a problem (and was never given a reason not to be).

Also, yes, this time when I re-read it, I kind of laughed a bit that they didn't bother to find the common room or figure out a plan for approaching Malfoy BEFORE they were on their one hour limit. Are there ANY muggle born Slytherins? Or even half bloods? How do they feel about that password?

Hermione ending up turning into a cat is funny but also kind of horrifying. I mean, who knows what all these high level potions could really do if used incorrectly, and it's kind of unlikely that it would be reversible. But, I guess, magic ;) I also wonder what kind of stuff Madame Pomfrey sees and if she would have an obligation to tell or not. I have to guess the purposefully encourage her discretion so people will come to her, but there's got to be a limit somewhere. And now I can't help but thinking in a darker/more mature version of the story, there'd be plenty of young girls coming to Madame Pomfrey for 'secret' help, if you get my drift. (Or boys, I suppose, no reason to think there wouldn't be magical alternatives there too).
Andrew Berenson
8. AndrewHB
If Harry is the Heir of Slytherin and is responsible for causing ghosts/animals/students to be petrified (as those students who think Harry is the HoS believe), then how do they explain that Harry was able to petrify/open the Chamber of Secrets when he was unconsious in the hospital wing?

I understand that the reader knows that Harry is not the HoS. Yet why don't Harry supporters (esp. Hermione) make that argument in defense of Harry?

Thanks for reading my musings,
Chris Nelly
9. Aeryl
@7, LisaMarie, Snape is a half blood and he wanted Lily to be in Slytherin. So it's probably not unheard of, but probably not many.

How they feel about it is a good question. Perhaps before the rise of Voldemort, it was more relaxed, and I imagine maybe the past twelve years was as well, but I imagine Draco started interrogating everybody about their bloodlines the instant he hit the common room his first night at Hogwarts. So there was probably a great deal of pressure to play along, as demonstrated when Harry sneaks into the Slythern cabin in HBP, and overhears their conversation. Everyone of Draco's age is now totally on board with pureblood agenda.

You'd think, that if any were Half bloods, by the time of the Battle for Hogwarts, when the chance for Slytherins to join the rest of the school was offered, some of them would have taken it, but none did(there were of course, no more Muggleborns at Hogwarts by this time).

I also agree that Rowling's overuse of outward appearance indicating inner character is very troubling, especially in a children's book. The only "fat" character I can think of that's given any consideration is Neville.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
10. Lisamarie
Duh, I'm a total idiot for not even remembering Snape, who of course had a whole book named after him. *big eye roll at self*

But, that is interesting musings, I also wonder how the pureblood mania ebbed and flowed throughout time, and what Slytherin is like in the Epilogue times. His son is still afraid of being sorted in it, which means it must still have a bad reputation (although maybe that's just from overhearing his family) - which is really kind of sad. Makes me kind of want to ship Scorpius/Rose as a way to shake things up (hahahaha, the Weasleys and Malfoys as inlaws is actually kind of hilarious now that I think of it). Although I can't imagine Draco, even if he does seem to be slight less of a jerk by the end, would take that well...
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
Yeah, to be honest, that whole part in the epilogue peeved me, when Harry confides to Albus that the Hat considered putting him in Slytherin.

Why did he only ever confide that to Albus? Why not James too, just to shut his smart mouth? Why wasn't it told as one of those "almost happened" funny family stories that they tell around the dinner table? Then again, since Ginny is a world famous Quidditch player, that probably leaves Harry with a bulk of the domestic duties for awhile, so those kids were probably lucky to eat.

I mean the only reason his son was ever concerned in the first place, was because Harry's lack of honesty.

And speaking of the epilogue, Ron's whole "Grandpa will be sad if you marry a pureblood" line bugs me too. At first I was like, Bill totally married a pureblood. Then I thought, since she's part veela, maybe that didn't count. So then only Ginny married a pureblood, and I guess if that pureblood is Harry Potter, you get a pass.

I've actually heard that Rowling put that Rose-Scorpius line in there for that very reason.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
12. Lisamarie
I know! I kind of remember wondering why Harry hadn't been more forthcoming about that info and why they wouldn't have actively worked to blur some of those rigid barriers in general?

I totally forgot about Ron's line, but I diefinitely remember rolling my eyes at that line too, since it's just as horrid coming from the other angle. It's probably intended to be a joke or some way of saying that Arthor loves/appreciates Muggles and sees their positive attributes as well (although in some ways his view of them as this interesting amusement is a bit condescending) but when unpacked...meh. It's also possible Arthur would never say/feel anything of the sort, and that's just Ron's interpretation, or just a way to get a dig in on the Malfoys. Not to mention Ron cheating on his driver's test.

What reason are you referring to? To encourage shipping, or to highlight how dumb Ron is, or how sad it is that there are still some of the old prejudices?
Thomas Thatcher
13. StrongDreams
Harry is a half-blood.

Also, since Fawkes has been Dumbledore's pet for ages, if Dumbledore knew the monster was a basilisk, then he's leveled-up even farther in terms of being a terrible headmaster who puts the whole school at risk. There should be roosters at every corner, anyone killing roosters should be an immediate cause for red alert, not an off hand curiosity, and he should have asked Harry, "since you've just discovered you can talk to snakes, and since I think the monster is a giant bloody snake, have you heard anything strange lately?"
Ursula L
14. Ursula
Is Harry a half blood? Both of his parents are magical.

Is "half blood" having one magical parent and one muggle parent? Or is it having one magical parent from a magical family and one magical parent from a muggle family?


Should Harry trust Dumbledore? He's had very little contact with him. Harry admires Dumbledore from afar, initially based on Hagrid's assesment of Dumbledore. But Dumbledore never really has one-on-one contact with Harry on a regular basis until their so-called lessons in HBP. Dumbledore never took the time to establish a relationship with Harry before this, and now he wants Harry to confide some dire fears? Trust is earned. And Dumbledore has done nothing to earn a place as Harry's confidant.

I see more reason for Harry to trust McGonnigal, as she's had more contact with him as a teacher and as head of his house. As well as her going out of her way to get him on the Quiddich team, which ought to have earned her some trust and affection on his part. But she still feels quite distant from him, emotionally. A strict and respected authority figure, but not someone to confide in.

Hagrid has tried to be Harry's friend and confidant, but he's too irresponsible himself, so that Harry knows that while he can count on Hagrid to care for him, he can't count on Hagrid for advice.

If Harry doesn't trust any of the adults, it is because none of the adults have gone out of their way to establish a trusting relationship with him.
15. happytoscrap

they probably would get expelled for it....if someone found out. for them to find out Crabbe and Goyle would have had to imlicate them. And even if Crabbe and Goyle alerted the athorities, how would they know who slipped them the mickey?
Chris Nelly
16. Aeryl
There should be roosters at every corner, anyone killing roosters should be an immediate cause for red alert, not an off hand curiosity, and he should have asked Harry, "since you've just discovered you can talk to snakes, and since I think the monster is a giant bloody snake, have you heard anything strange lately?"

There were a lot of roosters around the school, we don't know what Dumbledore's reaction to the dead roosters was but we do know he was considering closing the school so we can assume he put two and two together, and why would Dumbledore confide to a twelve year old student his suspicions about the monster under the school? In HBP Dumbledore confides in Harry, because he's demonstrated his trustworthiness. At this time, not so much. How was he supposed to know Harry could hear the monster, just because he's Parseltongue, it's still a huge castle with tons of rock between Harry and the snake's location at any given time?

Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
And as far as Harry's half blood or pureblood status? To blood status freaks like the Malfoys, yes Harry's a half blood because of his Muggleborn mother.

But to everyone else, like Arthur Weasley, his mother's a witch, his father's a wizard, that makes him pureblood.
18. tormz
@1 Aeryl, I think the main reason Dumbledore doesn't confide as much in Harry is for the same reason he wanted him to learn Occlumency: he already knows what the link between Harry and Voldemort is and doesn't want to risk Voldemort learning anything through Harry that he shouldn't (such as Snape being loyal to Dumbledore etc.).
Emily Asher-Perrin
19. EmilyAP
As to why Harry doesn't confide that the Hat considered putting him in Slytherin to all his kids?:

Be honest here, my impression is that there's a closeness between Harry and Albus. James is rightly named, a bit more Harry's father, a bit more Sirius. I think that Harry tells Albus because he knows that Albus will take the information the right way, and understand what he means by it; you can be a Slytherin. There is nothing wrong with being in Slytherin. If you're brave enough, then go for it. I think Harry knows his eldest well enough to know that James just wouldn't get it. He's not interested, he's a Gryffindor, that's what matters to him. Albus is different. Harry knows it.

Which is why I always ship Scorpius/Albus in my head because whatever, I think it's perfect. And Weasley-Malfoy in-laws are great, but Malfoy-Potter in-laws are just better. So much better.
Chris Nelly
20. Aeryl
@18, That's a good point, however, he still could have provided quite a morale boost to Harry at this point if he had seemingly taken his concerns more seriously.

However, if Voldemort had learned Dumbledore trusted Snape to teach Harry Occlumency, wouldn't that have been a problem?
Chris Nelly
21. Aeryl
@19, Emily, Yeah but would James have been full of that attitude if Harry had raised them to not buy into that partisanship, because of his own history?

I mean sure, NOW, only Albus is the one that gets it, but that would have been different if this story had been part of the fabric of their childhood.
22. Rancho Unicorno
@7 - Wasn't Riddle a half-blood? Or am I not understanding your question?
Nathaniel Gulick
23. PresN
@14 Ursula - Pure-blooded-ness is a sliding scale. Bigots would say that Harry is a half-blood because having a muggle-born for a mom is as bad as a muggle (and Bellatrix explicitly calls him a half-blood at one point in the books), but even if all four grandparents were magical (or even non-muggleborn-magical), he still wouldn't be considered as "pure" as someone who could claim that the had no non-pureblood ancestors as far back as is recorded. Hermione mentions at one point in Half-Blood Prince that by that definition there's basically no pure-bloods left, even among the death eaters. Even in the '30s there were only 28 families left that met that definition, and some of those families (like the Weasleys) disagreed that it was even that high.

I could see Arthur leaning the exact opposite way, that you're a pureblood if both your parents were magical.

Sources- HP and the Half-Blood Prince, Pottermore
Emily Asher-Perrin
24. EmilyAP
@Aeryl 21 - Yes and/or no? This is where you get deep into a nature/nuture argument. I do believe there's a chance that things might have been different for James if Harry had always made this part of their narrative with Hogwarts growing up. It's possible that Harry never brought it up because it didn't occur to him to do so before Albus seemed so concerned over it. Not the best move, but then, he's gonna make mistakes with his kids like everyone else.

On the other hand? There's every chance it wouldn't have made a difference with James at all. Because even if he grew up knowing that there was nothing wrong with Slytherins, there's still every chance that he'd be biased from the fact that every member of his family thus far is a Gryffindor. That whole "I wanna be like my dad/mom/uncle/aunt/grandparents" thing can count for so much, especially being the oldest kid. In fact, it's possible that Harry did tell James, in private the same way he did with Albus, and it made no difference. James might just want to reflect his family that much.

I'd actually be really interested to know about how Harry and Ginny chose to parent in that regard. It makes sense to me that they might not think about those things, since it seems to me that by the end it's on James/Albus/Lily's generation to make the more internal changes, but we really never get to find out.
Thomas Thatcher
25. StrongDreams
I'm sure wizard kids talk, and they hear all kinds of things from their parents, other kids, older siblings, etc. Ravenclaws are the brains, Gryffindors are the jocks, watch out for the Slytherins...

Plus, after Voldemort's demise there was obviously a new round of trials and purges, even if the prison is now run slightly more humanely. So Ron's comment "there wasn't a wizard who went bad that wasn't from Slytherin" will likely hold as true 19 years after Voldemort's second death as it did 10 years after his first death. Plus, the sorting hat is still imbued with the philosophy of the four founders, and since they obviously haven't eliminated Slytherin, then Slytherin will still attract kids who are elitist and a little bit dark.

Plus, James has probably been teasing his little brother just like Fred and George had been teasing Ron.

Plus, if you're sending your kids to a school with a thousand years of tradition, do you really spoil it all for them years before they ever go? Do you really tell your children all the secrets you learned, all the mischief you got into? Do you spoil it for your kids by telling them that there is no such thing as a snipe hunt or a board straightener?

Likely Harry and Ginny have told Albus that the hat puts you in the best house for your talents and personality, and James has been winding him up ever since he got the letter.
Thomas Thatcher
26. StrongDreams
@22, yes, Riddle is a half blood. Slytherin professed a belief in pure-bloodism and superiority of wizards over muggles and those values are reflected in who gets chosen for the house. I imagine that half-bloods in Slytherin were, like Tom, disdainful of their muggle half and fully supportive of the superiority of wizards.

The password probably changed from time to time, it was set by the Head Boy or Girl, I believe. Probably someone (not Draco, he's only a second year at that point even if Lucius is a big deal) changed the password after the chamber was opened, so that it reflected support in the philosophy behind it.
27. tormz
@20 Aeryl, He gave Harry a chance to tell him if there was anything wrong and then respected his decision not to say anything. Sure he could have prodded or demanded Harry to spit it out, but that could have made his distrust of adults even worse by forcing the issue. He may not have been willing to take that risk this early on.

It's not an issue that Dumbledore trusts Snape, it's WHY he trusts Snape that would be an issue. As far as Voldemort or the Death Eaters are concerned Snape has wormed his way into Dumbledore's trust; it would be pretty disastrous is anyone ever learned the real reason for that trust.
Chris Nelly
28. Aeryl
@24, It's stated in the epilogue that Harry telling Albus that was the first time he ever mentioned it to his children. So he didn't tell James.

And to Harry's benefit, it seems he didn't hide the truth about the Sorting, whereas in PS, none of the first years, even Ron with 5 brothers attending Hogwarts prior to him, didn't know how that happened
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
@27, I'm talking about HBP, not this instance in Chamber of Secrets, when Harry does confide to Dumbledore about his suspicions about Draco, Dumbledore poo poos him, even though he knows Harry's right. I see no reason why he couldn't have gave Harry a bit of a boost by being a bit more honest with him. Sure, like Emily said, he couldn't risk Voldemort learning from Harry that the plot had been revealed by Snape, but there was a more productive way to address Harry's concern other than saying, "I got this" especially when he's spent the past several months expressing to Harry just how wrong he can be.

And sure the reasoning behind his trust of Snape is more important, but you don't think that Voldemort learning that Snape had been entrusted with Harry Potter's brain and didn't mention that to him a big warning that his own trust in Snape was misplaced?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
30. Lisamarie
Yes, of course Tom Riddle was a half blood too (which again, is one of those obvious ones; for whatever reason I always have trouble with spontaneous recall like that. My memory works fine the one way - I could easily tell you Tom Riddle was a half blood Slytherin - but not the other).

Well, no matter whom Scorpius ends up with, he'd actually have Potters AND Weasleys for in-laws since Ginny and Harry bridge that gap. But I kind of think it would be 'funnier' if the Muggle in laws (Hermione's family) were more closely related. Hahaha, can you imagine that wedding (assuming the grandparents were still alive)! Now, I don't recall, did Lucius get re-sent back to Azkaban after all that? Did Narcissa get some kind of reprieve because she spared Harry?

Anyway, I have to kind of side with Aeryl on the nature/nurther debate regarding James - his personality may have been still fairly set, and there's nothing wrong with being pro-Gryffindor, of course. But maybe it would have been tempered a little with the extra perspective. Maybe not - and I can certainly attest to parenting pretty much being an on the seat of your pants kind of thing. And while I accept that James may just have been riling up Albus a bit, the underpinnings of the joke are kind of nasty.

The point about the Sorting Hat containing the brains of its founders kind of begs the question, why do they keep it around when they know one of the influences was evil? Maybe it's useful to keep an eye on the types it attracts, but it might be better off for them to just integrate with other people instead of sticking them all together to stew in their shadiness. I'm not saying they should get rid of the Houses, maybe just figure out a better way to decide.
31. Athreeren
@7: And now I can't help but thinking in a darker/more mature version of the story, there'd be plenty of young girls coming to Madame Pomfrey for 'secret' help, if you get my drift. (Or boys, I suppose, no reason to think there wouldn't be magical alternatives there too).

Of course there are: haven't you ever read any Harry Potter fan fiction?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
32. Lisamarie
Heh, no, I got kind of burned by Star Wars fanfic, so I tend to steer clear :)

Except for My Immortal. Bwahahahaha.
33. Greatraven
Actually, I was puzzled by the Sorting Hat in the epilogue - I'd swear it was destroyed by Voldemort after shoving it on Neville's head? Must go back and take another look.
COS is an important book. It holds a lot of clues to things that return to hit you in the last book. And Expelliarmus is the spell tat saves Harry's life and he learns it in this book, in these chapters! :-)
34. tormz
@29 Aeryl, Ahhh missed that you were being specific to HBP. How should he have been honest with him at this point? He is dying and he needs Harry to stay focused on his own problems/mission, not potentially interfering with Dumbledore's plans regarding Draco and Snape. (honestly curious what ideas you have on this as I feel that Dumbledore was trying not to add to Harry's list of problems)

I don't see an issue with Snape being the one to teach Harry. One, I doubt Voldemort really trusts anyone to begin with, and Two, it'd be easy to make him believe that not doing as Dumbledore asked him, when he has no real excuse not to, would make Dumbledore suspicious and therefore he would lose access to information Voldemort might deem important. Remember that Voldemort doesn't know that Harry is a Horcrux, doesn't believe for a second that Harry is a real threat to him, and considers Dumbledore his only real enemy. He'd be much more concerned with Snape being in Dumbledore's inner circle.
35. (still) Steve Morrison
In re the Death Eater definition of “half-blood” requiring only one Muggle grandparent: Rowling’s old web site told of her trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, where she was “chilled” to see that the Nazis had defined “Aryan” ancestry in exactly the same way Voldemort defined “pure-blood”! (Her new site no longer seems to have the anecdote, but it is quoted on e.g. the Wikipedia page for “Politics of Harry Potter”.)
Thomas Thatcher
36. StrongDreams
it seems odd that would be a revelation to JKR since the parallels between Voldemort and Hitler are obvious -- aryanism/pure blood, hates own heritage, etc. (even though Grundelwald is also an obvious parallel). If she never consciously knew it before it must have been subconscious.
37. Athreeren
@20, 29, 34: Snape does such a terrible job trying to teach Harry occlumency, it mustn't have been hard for him to pretend to Voldemort it was intentional sabotage. Honestly, how can that man be a teacher?
38. Owlay
Harry awakes to "the dormitory blazing with winter sunlight" but the Quidditch match was on November, wasn't it? How close is this to winter on Scotland?

Percy is mentioned as feeling better when Harry meets up with him as he leaves the infirmary. Is this because he just met up with Penelope or is it only because of the game?

(And, talking of Percy......when you see him in your mind is he always wearing a "wizard's" cone hat as he does in the films? Indeed, in your mind how often do you see the Hogwarts students wearing these hats that are mentioned in PS/SS as being part of the school uniform? Would you consider the movie fact that these hats are generally worn only on end-of-year feasts and only Prefects (and Head Boys) wear these hats regularly (as a sign of their position) canon?)

I pity Harry before he had the Marauder map. What the poor kid must have done to ensure nobody would disturb him.

Would you think these waterproof fires are similar to napalm (in a less destructive way)?
Do you agree that Moaning Myrtle's bathroom was the best place to make a secret Polyjuice Potion? There were at least other undisturbed places within Hogwarts....

Do you think the basilisk attack on Colin had something to do with the Quidditch match? I don't think so but we should not completely forget the possibility that Ginny/Riddle were in such a mood after it.

Hermione hears for the first time about Dobby but she remains conspicuosly silent on her opinion about him......

Do you think Mr. Malfoy knew what kind of monster was in the Chamber? And for that matter, did anybody else knew at all?

Before reaching the end of this book, what monster did you thought was hidden in the Chamber?

Did we ever had any more mentions of Chameleon Ghouls after this?

How fast do you think news (and rumors) travel through Hogwarts?

Why did Fred and George thought that their "motivational pranks" would work?

Do you think these protective devices actually worked?

Why do you think Malfoy always chose to stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas holidays?

Do you think there is a reason Potions takes place in the dungeons?

(And for the record, 'dungeons' refers to the network of places located underground of big places like Hogwarts and not always something more sinister, right? And how deep do you think Hogwarts goes?)

And it seems that pufferfishes are another Potions ingredient. Students must be very careful when dealing with these, not only because of their dreaded liver but also because the skin of some of them is highly poisonous.

What do you think the Swelling Solution is used for? And I think the Deflating Draft is mainly used as the antidote for it.

Why Snape didn't pursue the matter of what happened in his classroom further?

Do you think Dueling would have been really useful against Slytherin's monster? And do you think Dumbledore set it up as a response to the attacks? I wonder why we didn't see a Dueling Club in Hogwarts again in the series......
39. treeeandleafster
the Quidditch match was on November, wasn't it? How close is this to winter on Scotland?

It is very definitely winter. (Particularly in terms of light, of course, given that the shortest day is the 21st of December, but in terms of weather, too, November - mid-to-late March are unequivocably winter in Britain).
40. Owlay
Hot shots! Part Deux!:
For what kind of events (besides dueling) do you think this golden stage is used for? By the way, I think it looks better on the movie.

Do you notice Snape never shows any variety in his clothing? Why do you think is that?

Snape is good at dueling. For reference, check chapter 30 of DH.

Wizarding Duels share similarities to both sword and gun duels in the courtesies at the beginning and 'accepted positions' of the hands on the weapon.

Expelliarmus serves only to yank the wand from the opponent's hand. Why when used on Lockhart in this case it slams him against the opposite wall?

Notice that Lockhart refers to Expelliarmus as "a Disarming Charm", possibly implying there might be others.

Could someone enlighten me on what are hags specifically on the WW?

Do you think any of the spells shown in the movie version of the Dueling Club are canon? Do you also think that this version improves the one on the book?

What do you think was the first spell Malfoy did on Harry?

The Tarantallegra Charm makes the target's legs dance uncontrollably (or more specifically, dance the tarantella, a very upbeat tap dance from southern Italy). We may as well this the Dancing Charm.

Finite Incantatem: lit. End the Charm! A generic spell that stops the Charm being performed.

What do you think happened between Neville and Justin?

How do you think Millicent ended up having Hermione in a headlock?

I think what Lockhart tried to show Harry to do in response to Malfoy's spell was how to perform a Shield Charm.

Serpensortia: I think this is a spell taught in Transfiguration (though why would someone want to conjure a snake is something I can't figure out).

I once read that the reason why Snape told Malfoy to do the Snake Conjuring Spell was that he suspected Harry might be a parseltongue (or just suspected him of having hidden powers) and wanted to see if it was true. But I think your reason makes more sense, Emily AP. (Or perhaps he only wanted to give Harry a good fright.)

How many long, thick, black snakes are there? Which one do you think this one was?

Refresh me: What was the spell Lockhart used on the movie to make the snake leap in the air? What does it mean? What do you think are its uses? Do you think that is the same spell that is used here?

Reading of Harry and the snake, do you think the other students were right in that it seemed like Harry was setting the snake on Justin? To me it would seem that he only calmed it. It would be the same for the rest of you? Also, do you notice that in this and previous occasions when Harry speaks Parseltongue he doesn't find it different from normal speech but when he discovers he has this ability he does?

The spell Snape uses to vanish the snake gets its name mentioned in the film. It's Vipera Evanesca and it means esentially Vanish, Viper. I think all the other Vanishing Spells follow this same pattern.

What do you think Snape is making of Harry's exhibition of Parseltongue?

And do you notice that we don't see Lockhart's reaction to all of this? I wonder what he thought.

I think Parsel is an old word in another language at least having something to do with snakes. Could somebody enlighten me?

Did we ever got confirmation from JKR herself if the boa constrictor ever reached Brazil?

So, it seems that Parselmouthing not only involves talking to snakes with success, it also means understanding snakes.

How many Parselmouths do you think are in the world, really?

And BTW, do you think there might be other, less creepy abilities possessed by wizards involving talking to other species? There might be people with the power to talk to fishes or to birds for all we know.

Do you think the movie got its depiction of Parseltongue right?

Do you think Parseltongue might have been more prevalent among the people that were in Slytherin House?

At this point in the book (on your first reading) did you suspect Harry really was the Heir of Slytherin?

Do you think Harry is really the Heir of Gryffindor, as many people believe? Do you think he is at least descended from one of the founders?

Did we ever learn more facts about James' family?

I think that the Herbology Gardens are used on the winter to provide food for the school during the cold.
Chris Nelly
41. Aeryl
@37, Part of the problem with Snape, is that he doesn't actually WANT to be a teacher. He has no calling for it, Voldemort then Dumbledore forced him into the role, so his resentment, while unforgivable, IMO, is understandable.
Chris Nelly
42. Aeryl
@40, Expelliarmus can be a very powerful spell, it doesn't yank the wand, it propels it into the air, and if strong enough, can knock the Disarmed off their feet, this happens in the books several times.

Harry is descended from the Peverells, does he need to be related to Gryffindor too?

The acquisition of food is probably handled mundanely, I'm pretty sure the Herbology Gardens are for Sprout's plants. I like the implications of the bond Pomona has with her plants, how they talk about the Venomous Tentacula caressing her, even when she's in a different greenhouse. Remember how Neville takes his Mimbulus Mimbletonia home with him? The idea that the closer the bond with the plants, the more effective they will be for that witch or wizard is a neat one.
43. Owlay
Hot Shots! Part Trois!:

The movie got right the dimness currently in the castle because of the snow.

Why do you think neither Ron nor Hermione even suspected Harry was the Heir of Slytherin?

If you were walking down a Hogwarts corridor and were passing through classrooms, how do you imagine the outside of these would look like? Would it be like modern schools, where you would see a door with a window on top? Or would it be like they showed in a scene in the movie (this happens at around the same time as the scenes of which we are talking about now), where Harry is in a classroom that is located within a cave-like niche?

I would seem to me that the Invisibility Section is devoted to everything related to invisibility. (In fact, have any HP fans tried to make a Dewey Decimal Catalog or something similar for the Hogwarts library? This could also apply to Wizarding Libraries.)

A little trifle: The Hufflepuffs take the badger as their sigil. Is this badger an specific species (if so, which?) or it means that Hufflepuffs can take any kind of badger as their symbol? (Which would mean that there must be at least one Hufflepuff who takes as his sigil the dreaded-but-awesome honey badger!) Do you think this might also apply for Ravenclaws and Slytherins? (There is only one species of lion, though.)

This is where we are properly introduced to Ernie and Hannah, even though Hannah was the very first student to be Sorted in the first book. Together, Ernie, Hannah, and Justin form what is called the Hufflepuff Trio. I wonder if there are fan stories of their adventures.

Why is Parseltongue a mark of a Dark wizard?

Remember that in later books it is stated that when Harry first came to Hogwarts there were widespread rumors that he had Dark powers? We are seeing these rumors in action now.

Why is the reason why Harry survived Voldemort's first attack (love) not widely known?

Was Voldemort's first body blown into little pieces (or just disintegrated) when his Killing Curse rebounded?

The presence of a Macmillan in the Black Family Tree would appear to confirm (at least in part) Ernie's statement.

How big do you think Hagrid really is?

Do you think people suspected Harry of being a Dark wizard again after this book?

On first reading: Did you thought the dead roosters were relevant to the plot?

Did we ever got an explanation for what was a Blood-Sucking Bugbear? Nay, we ever were told what was a Bugbear?

Do you think Hagrid succeeded in protecting the roosters?

Hagrid claims that he met up with Harry only seconds before he was found with Justin. It doesn't seem so to me. It does for the rest of you?

Could you post artwork (if there is) of Harry finding Justin and Nick?

This is an old question but, how do you think NHN was restored back to normal?

I would hazard a guess that one of Professor McGonagall's students had just been through a near-transformation in a skunk, even though these are not the only animals with black and white stripes. BTW, it seems to me that this class was of a Sixth- or Seventh-Year, since it seems that it was some kind of Human Transformation. (We never saw in HBP if this subject eventually reached the point of animal transformations. In this case, it would seem that becoming an Animagus is less difficult than they want to make us believe.)

What melody did you gave Peeves' song here? An already-existing one or a new one?

And later on we discovered that Dumbledore loves lemon drops.

What do you think these little silver devices on Dumbledore's office are? It's obvious that he invented them and in Ootp we saw two of these in action, but what are they for?

What does the expression "bee in your bonnet" means?

And let's not forget that JKR herself explained that the voice heard inside the Sorting Hat are the wearer's own thoughts and desires.
Birgit F
44. birgit
Is this badger an specific species (if so, which?)

In Europe, badgers are a specific species:
I would hazard a guess that one of Professor McGonagall's students had just been through a near-transformation in a skunk, even though these are not the only animals with black and white stripes.

It is mentioned earlier in the chapter that someone accidentally turned his friend into a badger.

Did we ever got an explanation for what was a Blood-Sucking Bugbear? Nay, we ever were told what was a Bugbear?
A Bugbear is a legendary creature or type of hobgoblin comparable to the bogeyman (or bugaboo or babau), and other creatures of folklore, all of which were historically used in some cultures to frighten disobedient children.

In medieval England, the Bugbear was depicted as a creepy bear that lurked in the woods to scare children. It was described in this manner in an English translation of a 1565 Italian play The Buggbear.
45. Owlay
Here's the final wrap-up:

In the movie Fawkes isn't decaying when Harry meets him, which makes his bursting into flames the more baffling.

Like what kind of bird does Fawkes look like? My guess is something like Birds-of-paradise but I can't remember if there is one particularly red.

Fawkes the Phoenix! Since JKR likes her names beggining with the same letter, she gets bonus points for getting a phonetic double.

Some people have claimed that Dumbledore owning a phoenix is another proof of his being gay. I think it's only a coincidence. What do you say?

Where did Dumbledore find Fawkes? Did JKR ever specify when he came to live in Hogwarts?

Re: Why Dumbledore didn't press Harry about explaining to him about his current thoughts and actions: I think it's only because he knows that pressing him will make him more reticent to trust in authority figures and decides to let him go to see if in the future he will be more trusting. I also think that he decided to give Harry a chance to deal with the Monster and the Heir to see what he would do (if things got out of control, Dumbledore would step in personally to save Harry).

Why do you think the basilisk can also affect ghosts?

Judging from the students' reactions and Fred and George's jokes, it appears that by now it is widely believed in the school that Slytherin's Monster is some kind of snake. Why is that?

Why do you think Ron, Fred, and George (and later Ginny) chose to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas on the first three books rather than accompany their parents to visit their siblings in foreign countries?

Do you notice that this is the first time that Hermione goes to the boys' bedroom? Why girls aren't forbidden from visiting?

How long do you think the Polyjuice Potion lasts in a container?

How and why do you think the Dursleys sent Harry a present? (Regarding the how, I think that they either mailed it the normal (Muggle) way and a wizard passed it to the Owl Post, or they were contacted by an owl (most likely sent by Dumbledore) when they sent Harry their present or even before that (I like the idea that the owl was pestering them until they would send a present))

Do you think Harry read at all Flying with the Cannons?

Are there any real differences in use between the different kinds of bird quills?

On the subject of whether Christmas in the WW really celebrates Christianity: The twelve trees stand for the Twelve Apostles, right?

Wouldn't you like to celebrate Christmas on Hogwarts?

Did you really think there were many factors that could go wrong in Hermione's plan? If so, do you think it went through without a hitch because of sheer luck?

What kind of meals does Christmas tea entail?

I much prefer the movie version of Crabbe and Goyle eating the bewitched cakes. In here, Ron is incredulous rather than ecstasic, the cakes (cupcakes here) are floating in the air, and C&G have a brief moment of realizing there's something wrong before falling asleep. I don't remember if they were carrying armfuls of food and whether they dropped them when they saw the cakes. (BTW, the feast need not have been endless.)

What is the difference between Crabbe and Goyle? Officialy? In your mind?

It seems that when the hairs come from not-very-good people (like here), the Polyjuice Potion turns into unpleasant colors and tastes bad. By contrast, on DH, when it comes from Harry's hairs, it turns gold and seems to taste pleasantly.

Do you think C&G's size in comparison to H&R's is an exaggeration?

Do you think the movie got the Polyjuice transformation better?

In the film, when somebody goes through a Polyjuice transformation they retain their own voice and have to disguise it, as opposed to also acquiring the voice of the person they transformed into. Why did they do that change?

Also, do you notice that this is the first time Hary and Ron (and the readers) hear Crabbe and Goyle's voices and they don't hear them again until it's from their own lips on DH? Crabbe's voice is mentioned as being unexpectedly sweet but nobody bothers to point it out here.

Feel free to discuss Crabbe and Goyle's friendship with Malfoy, like the nature of it or how it came to be.

Would you consider the scarves colored with the student's House colors canon? What of the other identifying features, like the (permanent) badges? Why do you think Harry and Ron believed Penelope was another Slytherin? I consider the scarves and other features canon so I think that green and blue aren't easily set apart in a gloom (like at that moment) or they just assumed it because she came from the direction of the Slytherin common room.

You don't think Malfoy would have found it slightly suspicious that "Crabbe" knows what Percy is rightly called?

Re: Passwords: I think the Slytherin Common Room password heard now is one commonly used from the stock passwords for this House. I think these other passwords have as a pattern Salazar's own line of thought. But mainly I have another question. Who decides which passwords are to be used by each House for entrance? What are the patterns for each?

The Slytherin common room seems interesting. JKR herself said that it's under the lake. I wish we had seen more of it. Perhaps they have windows from which they can see out into the deep water of the lake!

Couldn't Mr. Weasley have protected himself with the law he made up himself to allow him to bewitch the car? And BTW, 50 Galleons seems a tad too much since the Weasleys can barely scrap up a single Galleon.

Talking of the Board of Governors, yes, we really never heard much of them, especially on OotP, where they could have been a shield of sorts to the Ministry's interference. Who else do you think may be a member? Though I have a strange feeling that Mr. Weasley may have been a member now or later............I also think that the members of the Board have to be heads of family.

Do you think Dumbledore should have told the Daily Prophet about the attacks? It would seem to me that the old man would be always open and honest.

It occurs to me that Malfoy would have loved Phineas Nigellus.

Like Voldemort, Malfoy laughs at the idea of Harry being a Dark wizard.

How do you think Malfoy came to know that the previous time the Chamber was opened a Muggleborn died?

What do you think Malfoy knows about what happened to Hagrid (if he indeed knows the name of the person who was accused of opening the Chamber the first time) fifty years ago? (And BTW, this is where we get our first mention of Azkaban.)

How stupid do you think Crabbe and Goyle really are?

Why do you think the Ministry raided Malfoy Manor this time around?

Malfoy mentions the presence of a secret chamber underground his home years before DH. But I don't know why either Harry or Ron didn't bother to mention (or remember, even) it to the Order of the Phoenix. If they had said it in HBP it would have saved everybody a lot of trouble.

I prefer the movie version of H&R transforming back into themselves. Don't you?

Do you think Malfoy suspected it wasn't C&G who were with him then?

How talkative do you think C&G really are?

Another thing in the movie I prefer is H&R (sprinting from the Slytherin common room) meeting up with C&G on their way down. Sadly, this is found on in the Deleted Scenes.

How come Hermione didn't notice it was a cat hair in the weeks that passed since she got it? Are the hairs of different species really difficult to set apart?

How do you think Millicent came to have a cat's hair in her robes? She'd been away from home for months.

For animal transformations, take up Transfiguration. (I wonder why the Polyjuice Potion would be prefered when it comes to transforming into somebody else as opposed to simple Human Transfiguration. Perhaps because it's easier and faster.)

Madam Pomfrey may never ask many questions to the students who request her services, but she must have some very interesting tales to tell in the staff room.

That's all for today, folks!
Birgit F
46. birgit
How do you think Millicent came to have a cat's hair in her robes? She'd been away from home for months.

Students may bring pets to Hogwarts. Later Hermione has Crookshanks.
47. Owlay
Re: Why Snape is helping Lockhart: I think yours is the right reason, Emily.

I also think you're right about the Sorting Hat's decision about Harry.

Re: Dumbledore explaining about Fawkes: Well, there's a possibility that you may be right, but I think it could be just as likely that he just decided to drop some information about phoenixes in the wake of Harry finding one.

There are Boards of Governors in real-life schools, right? Then I think that they must be similar to the Hogwarts Board, regarding in matters like how one gets elected to that position and what they do.

Generally, I think you're right about most everything you said, Emily.

@13: That's why I don't believe that Dumbledore knew the Monster was a basilisk, and thus his owning Fawkes was just a lucky coincidence. (Or maybe not entirely, since he suspected the Chamber would/might be opened again and he figured he might need a creature with the power to heal poisons just in case.)

@ 25, ..........and nobody cares about the Hufflepuffs.

Also, JKR herself explained in an interview that Slytherin House has reformed but its reputation lingers.

@30: JKR explained in another interview that the Malfoys managed to escape trouble thanks to the help they gave Harry in DH.
Chris Nelly
48. Aeryl
I would imagine Parseltongue is rumored to be the "mark of a Dark Wizard" because the evil wizards tend to be into blood purity, a la Slytherin, and Parseltongue is a signifier of being from an ancient purebred line, like the Gaunts.

And Fawkes is decaying when Harry meets him in the movie. It's not a good effect, but there is a marked difference between Fawkes before he burns, and when he shows up again in the Chamber.

I've always pegged Hagrid about 9 - 10 feet tall, considering he's half giant and their average height is 20 feet, and he's always described as "twice as tall" as a normal person, which when Harry meets him at 11, is probably right at 5 ft.

I imagine everyone suspects it's a snake, because Slytherin's ability to talk to snakes is commonly known.

Harry does tell people about the Malfoy's secret room, that's why the Ministry raided their house again, he passed that to Arthur through Ron.
49. Masha
I always found it strange that Harry so often seems unable to tell when he is speaking Parseltongue. And in The Deathly Hallows I think there is even a moment when Ron imitates a Parseltongue word, and Harry thinks Ron is speaking English (I might misremember that) . I guess this might be because Harry did not aquire Parseltognue in the way one normally learns a language.

But sometimes it seems as though he doesn't know which language he is speaking (English or Parseltongue) simply because he understands both languages equally well. Or that is how I read those moments in the books. I'm bilingual, and that doesn't tend to happen to me! :) I know which language I'm speaking, even though I'm equally fluent in both. I can't help wondering if Rowling might have written this differently, if she was fluent in more than one language? Or maybe she IS fluent in more than one language?
David Levinson
50. DemetriosX
I'm bilingual and it happens to me, though usually only when I'm around those who are equally fluent in both of my languages. When I'm talking to people who only speak one of them, I tend to be more careful and think about what words I'm actually using. Rowling did a year of study in France and lived in Portugal for a couple of years (and her first husband was Portuguese), so she must have had at least some degree of ability in a non-English language.

There is another factor to Dumbledore having Fawkes which we haven't considered. Of course, it's something that only comes out much later and could be a bit of a retcon on JKR's part, but Fawkes provided the feathers that make up the core of both Harry's and Voldemort's wands. (Do we already know that Harry's wand has a phoenix feather core? I think so.) If Dumbledore didn't already have the bird and that's how Ollivander got the feathers, then I can see that he might have tracked down the specific bird that provided the core of Voldemort's wand. It might offer some clues or controls to countering spells cast by Voldemort.
Chris Nelly
51. Aeryl
@49, The instances you are thinking of where Harry hears Parseltongue but doesn't immediately recognize it, is in the first flashback to the Gaunts home, where Morfin speaks it, but Bob Ogden(related to Dumbledore's close friend Tiberius Ogden?) couldn't understand.

Ron just copies what he hears Harry saying.

@50, Your point about the wands is a good one, because Fawkes had to give that feather way before the Chamber is opened by Riddle, so the bird is older and probably not belonging to Dumbledore when that happened. My question is did Dumbledore give Ollivander the second feather after Riddle became who he was or were both feathers given at the same time?

Can anyone think if anyone else who has a phoenix feather in their wand? I think all the other wands we hear about have either unicorn hair or dragon heartstring, aside from Fleur's with her grandmother's hair.
David Levinson
52. DemetriosX
I don't know if there are other wands with a phoenix feather core, but it is explicitly stated somewhere (HBP?) that Fawkes has only ever provided two feathers for wands: Voldemort's and Harry's.

Here's a question for way down the line. If the horcrux is part of the reason that Harry connected with a wand so similar to Voldemort's, then did its elimination mean that Harry was poorly attuned to his wand in later years? IIRC, he couldn't speak parsletongue after DH.
Chris Nelly
53. Aeryl
Yeah, but Fawkes can't be the only phoenix, right?

IIRC, Ollivander states in PS that he routinely uses three cores. I can't imagine why'd he say phoenix feather, if he only had one wand in his own shop with that core.

Considering the last scene we have with Harry is him repairing his wand, with it becoming warm in his hand "coming home" that I don't think he lost any affinity with his wand. The initial connection was encouraged because of the Horcrux perhaps, but the wand truly became Harry's as he grew as a wizard, seperate from his confrontation with Voldemort.
Adam S.
54. MDNY
Not much to add, just that I'll chime in supporting Aeryl that I always assumed there are plenty of phoenix feather wands out there (from Ollivander, we don't know what cores other wandmakers use other than Fleur's bizarre one from her grandmother, plus the Elder Wand with a thestral core). We know that Krum's wand came from Gregorovitch and used a dragon heartstring (like Ollivander uses), but other than that we don't know what else Gregorovitch used, or whether he ever tried thestral hairs in an attempt to replicate the elder wand he once possessed.
Chris Nelly
55. Aeryl
@54, Thestral hair? I never knew that, that's pretty cool.
Adam S.
56. MDNY
@55 JK Rowling said it in an interview- it isn't stated in the books to my knowledge.
57. BigBadBox
@ 49, 50,51, 53
Although I am not actually fluent in English, I do tend to speak English without noticing when I've have had a little too much wine ;)
Regarding Harry, I don't believe Parseltongue to be an actual language (and it certainly isn't one you can learn) but more of an intuitive capacity, which is why Harry only knows that he can speak to snakes and understand them, but not that he speaks their language. Riddle also tells Dumbledore (in HBP) that he can speak to snakes, but not that he speaks their language.

I think JK said somewhere that Dumbledore found Fawkes in Asia, and I always figured he did it in his travels when he was still young - maybe even before he started teaching at Hogwarts - and that he gave the two feathers to Ollivander before Tom received his letter and bought his wand.
Anyway, it is stated on Pottermore than phoenix feathers are the rarest core (Ollivander says that he uses only three types of core, not that he uses them all routinely), and though there ought to be others than just Fawkes, they are extremely rare creatures and Albus says that they are extremely loyal though their fidelity is hard won (the same goes for the phoenix-feathered wands, so Harry's stays loyal to him, even after Voldemort dies).
Chris Nelly
58. Aeryl

You'd think then that only women and girls could use unicorn hair wands, but Neville's and Ron's later wands have unicorn hair right?
59. BigBadBox
It didn't occur to me before, but it would make sense. Maybe the core only inherits certain features of the creature it came from, though, or maybe its specific to phoenix-feathered wands.
David Levinson
60. DemetriosX
@58 Aeryl
That could be a tad problematic. Wouldn't it mean that many, if not most, of those with a unicorn hair core had something of a limited lifetime use? And potentially very embarassing for a 6th or 7th year:
"Professor, I just don't understand it, but my wand stopped working."
"I see. Well, you're going to have to get a new wand over the next break. And please go see Madame Pomfrey to talk about your options for protection."
Chris Nelly
61. Aeryl
I don't think it's just virgins who can interact with unicorns(Grubbly Plank didn't have a problem), it just that only women and girls can.
David Levinson
62. DemetriosX
Well, I was thinking more in terms of the traditional unicorn, but is there any indication one way or another that Professor Grubbly-Plank isn't a virgin? Hyphenated names aren't all that uncommon in Britain, see Justin Finch-Fletchley right here or about half of the characters in the Bertie Wooster stories.
63. Beastofman
After rewatching the film, I realized that Branaugh is playing Lockhart a bit like Nick Bottom from Midsummer Night's Dream. In the play Nick is always trying to play all the roles in the comedy they put on and is very sure of his abilities, even though he is a terrible actor, and I think this is the persona that Branaugh brings to Lockhart.

(BTW I just found this blog and have torn through it! Thanks for making my work day a little more bareable!)
64. Fallstar
Am I the only one who thinks Fred and George were acting as bodyguards for Harry, while proclaiming him the Heir? After all, they were escorting him everywhere and clearing the halls. Just because they looked like they were passing it off as a joke doesn't mean thats all they were doing.
65. paramitch
For me, the sorting discussion is inherently flawed, because for me, JKR started with a specific mindset ("the idea of 'sorting' people based on first impressions is ultimately harmful) then -- to me -- seemed to back away from it. Or at least, to muddy it.

Mean, bullying, pale, pug-faced, shrieking, villainous Slytherins get tiresome, especially without relief. One of the failures of Rowling's writing when it comes to HP (no matter how lovely it is) is, for me, (1) Slytherin's unrelenting ugliness (completed of course by ugly, shrieking girls) and (2) her failure to unite the houses when push comes to shove against the final apocalypse.

Does this mean that the Sorting Hat NEVER sorted a Muggle-born or halfblood into Slytherin? Of course not. Can you imagine what such a person must have been feeling during CoS? (And what a missed opportunity for Rowling.) It would have been so much richer if an actual Slytherin had been shown as being decent, scared, and just as scared inside as Harry here.
Chris Nelly
66. Aeryl
@65, They were. Remember Pansy Parkinson's "There he is!" She wasn't doing that because she was devoted to the DE cause, but because she was terrified of Voldemort. I would have thought Regulus Black would have demonstrated to you the enormous pressure pureblood kids were under to toe the party line of their parents.

And let's also remember that the physical descriptions here aren't objective, but subjective from Harry's perspective. So Harry describes someone as pug faced. When I was in high school I described this girl who was engaged in an active campaign of dislike against me, constantly trying to instigate stuff between me and my BFF as a chipmunk because she had round cheeks. She was still perfectly lovely, as are girls who have what is termed a "pug nose" likely Harry's inspiration for calling Pansy pug-faced.

And of course the Hat put half-bloods in Slytherin, look at Riddle AND Snape. Yet, is there proof that a Muggle-born ever was?

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