In Chapter 12, the boys are unhappy with Hermione, Harry has his first dementor lessons with Lupin, we find out more about dementors than we ever wanted to, and the Firebolt is back, baby! Let’s go!
Losing the Firebolt has had some implications. The boys are none to happy with Hermione, even though Hermione maintains that she was in the right and just trying to look out for Harry. Oliver Wood is stunned that Harry got such a wonderful broom for Christmas and completely dismayed that McGonagall won’t give it back yet.
Classes are back in session though, and that means the promised anti-dementor classes with Lupin. They can’t practice on a real dementor, obviously, but Lupin is able to find another boggart in the castle that will be a good substitute. The only way to drive one off is a very advanced spell called a Patronus Charm which produces (you guessed it) a Patronus. What is a Patronus, you might ask?
“. . . a kind of anti-dementor – a guardian that acts as a shield between you and the dementor.”
“The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive – but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the dementors can’t hurt it.”
It’s a tough spell that even full grown wizards can’t all do. There is an incantation and a happy memory needed to power the Patronus, but it’s still super hard. But this is Harry Potter! He can do it! No. No, he can’t. The boggart-dementor takes him out. The happy memory Harry chose (flying for the first time) was not enough. Lupin gives Harry some chocolate to feel better. Harry is determined to get this – what if dementors show up at his next Quidditch match!
The second attempt (with the memory of winning the House Cup last year) also doesn’t work, and now, Harry not only hears his mother pleading for his life, he hears his father telling them to run. This is so hard for Harry! He wants to fight off the dementors . . . but he also is hearing his parents’ voices for the first time since he was a baby. We also find out that Lupin knew James Potter and was friends with him at Hogwarts. This makes sense too, as Lupin has shown a bit of extra concern for Harry – he’s looking after his friend’s kid.
Third try. Memory chosen: the day he found out he was leaving the Dursleys. So happy! And it sort of works. The dementor is there, but so is a silvery cloud thing that the dementor can’t get through. It takes everything he has to keep the silvery cloud up, but it’s enough to keep the dementor away and keep him on his feet. Lupin is very happy about the progress and gives Harry even more chocolate. As he’s eating it, something occurs to Harry.
“Professor Lupin?” he said. “If you knew my dad, you must’ve known Sirius Black as well.”
Lupin turned very quickly.
“What gives you that idea?” he said sharply.
“Nothing – I mean, I just knew they were friends at Hogwarts too . . .”
Lupin’s face relaxed.
“Yes, I knew him,” he said shortly. “Or I thought I did.”
Makes sense. If James and Black were friends, and Lupin was also friends with James, then Lupin would have known Black too. Harry still feels conflicted about hearing his parents and knows that he will never be able to produce a proper Patronus if he keeps wanting to hear their voices. This is so sad! Again, how is this kid not suffering from every PTSD symptom known to man!?!? He finally tells himself to get a grip, that listening to their voices won’t bring them back, and if he wants that Quidditch Cup, he needs to work on this. This kid is so strong, I tell you! I would be nothing but a complete and total mess at this point.
Leading up to the next Quidditch match, a few things happen. For one, Hermione is starting to break under the strain of taking every single class Hogwarts has to offer. Ron can’t figure out how she’s getting to all her classes – many of them are at the same time as the classes they share with her, so how is she attending them? Also, Wood decided to go and ask McGonagall if they could get the Firebolt back and was immediately rejected. Harry keeps asking over and over, and still no. Patronus lessons continue, but the Patronus isn’t getting any stronger. Lupin tells Harry not to worry, he’s doing amazing for such a young wizard, and at least with this cloudy Patronus, Harry will be able to land on the ground and not fall to his almost-death like he did before.
Lupin also gives us some more info on dementors, also known as nightmare fuel. When Harry asks what’s under a dementor’s hood (since he’s never actually seen a dementor’s face), Lupin can’t really explain because very few people know and they aren’t able to tell.
“They call it the Dementor’s Kiss,” said Lupin, with a slightly twisted smile. “It’s what dementors do to those they wish to destroy utterly. I suppose there must be some kind of mouth under there, because they clamp their jaws upon the mouth of the victim and – and suck out his soul.”
AAAHHHHHHH!!!! Mind you, this does not kill the person. They are still alive, just an empty shell. This has always made me wonder what they do with these people. Like, if someone here is sentenced to the death penalty, they are killed and their body either cremated or buried, but what do you do with a criminal who has been deemed severe enough that he gets sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss after the soul has been sucked out? Is there a pen in Azkaban with a bunch of mindless shell people wandering around? Do they get fed? Can they even eat? Can they talk? Can they do anything? Or do they just wither away to nothing? If so, why don’t they just execute them? This is a creepy line of questioning, so let’s just move on.
Oh, and the Ministry has authorized the dementors to give Black the Dementor’s Kiss if they find him. Harry says he deserves it, but Lupin wonders if anyone really deserves such a fate. It’s a good question, much like the death penalty debates we have here. How far is too far when it comes to punishment of crimes?
Harry finally gets some good news – the Firebolt has been cleared! It’s safe! Harry and Ron agree that they should probably patch things up with Hermione, since she was really looking out for Harry’s safety, but that nice moment is destroyed by the revelation that Scabbers is gone, Ron finds blood on his bedsheets, and with it, several ginger cat hairs. It looks like Crookshanks has finally done it.
See you next time for Chapter 13!