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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Chapter 6

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In Chapter 6, we wage war on a house. Let’s go!

So we finally have at least a few answers. That’s a good thing, I guess. They are led upstairs by Mrs. Weasley, who shows Harry where he’s sharing a room with Ron. Ron immediately locks the door because the crazy house-elf, Kreacher, will wander into their room otherwise. The owls are also not too happy because they can’t go out to hunt.

As Ron and Harry start discussing what they learned, Fred and George Apparate in to join in the conversation. All in all, it was mostly some stuff that Harry had guessed — they’re trying to stop people from joining Voldemort — but what is this weapon thing that Sirius mentioned? It would have to be something worse than Avada Kedavra. George suggests that maybe it’s something that can kill a bunch of people at once. Agreed, that would not be good for Voldemort to have. They hope that the weapon is currently in Dumbledore’s hands, maybe even hidden at Hogwarts. It wouldn’t be the first time he had done so — remember the Sorcerer’s Stone. Ron thinks the weapon would probably be bigger than the Stone, but that may not be the case.

“Not necessarily,” said Fred.

“Yeah, size is no guarantee of power,” said George. “Look at Ginny.

“What d’you mean?” said Harry.

“You’ve never been on the receiving end of one of her Bat-Bogey Hexes, have you?”

They have to be quiet for a bit when they hear Mrs. Weasley walk by, probably listening in to see if they are talking. Ron laments that his mom doesn’t trust them, but I don’t know if that’s the case necessarily. Mrs. Weasley is terrified of everything that is going on right now and how it’s going to affect her family, Harry and Hermione included. It makes sense that she’s checking up on them. Even though Ron wants her to think that they are mature enough to handle all this stuff, they are still kids and it makes sense that Mrs. Weasley wants them to retain at least a little bit of their innocence for as long as they can. That night Harry has a very odd dream about scary monsters that Hagrid calls “weapons” that have cannons for heads. Not gonna lie, that would be pretty cool.

The next day, it’s time for cleaning! They are working in the drawing room, where there is an infestation of doxies and a probable boggart in the writing desk. They leave the boggart for now, wanting Mad-Eye to look through the desk first and make sure that’s what’s in there. Doxies are flying furry fairy-like creatures with sharp poisonous teeth. Luckily, they have a spray for that. Fred sprays one, but then slips it into his pocket, telling Harry that they want to experiment with doxy venom for one of their new projects, Skiving Snackboxes.

“Range of sweets to make you ill,” George whispered, keeping a wary eye on Mrs. Weasley’s back. “Not seriously ill, mind, just ill enough to get you out of class when you feel like it. Fred and I have been developing them this summer. They’re double-ended, color-coded chews. If you eat the orange half of the Puking Pastilles, you throw up. Moment you’ve been rushed out of the less for the hospital wing, you swallow the purple half –”

“‘ — which restores you to full fitness, enabling you to pursue the leisure activity of your own choice during an hour that would otherwise have been devoted to unprofitable boredom.’ That’s what we’re putting in the adverts, anyway,” whispered Fred, who had edged over out of Mrs. Weasley’s line of vision and was now sweeping a few stray doxies from the floor and adding them to his pocket.

As much as I’m glad that Fred and George are going ahead with their joke shop ideas, it would have to be a really horrible class in order to make me want to throw up in order to miss it. Ugh. I really hate throwing up. And poor Fred and George have had to test everything on each other.

The doxy removal takes all morning long, but they have the scary cabinets full of creepy items left to tackle after lunch. They find out that a few more Order members have arrived, one of them being Mundungus, who has brought along his stolen shipment of cauldrons. Mrs. Weasley is very upset by all of this. Her rants to Mundungus make the portrait start yelling too, so George tries to shut the door. Before he does, a house-elf darts into the room, giving us our first glimpse at Kreacher.

Except for the filthy rag tied like a loincloth around its middle, it was completely naked. It looked very old. Its skin seemed to be several times too big for it and though it was bald like all house-elves, there was a quantity of white hair growing out of its large, batlike ears. Its eyes were a bloodshot and watery gray, and it’s fleshy nose was large and rather snoutlike.

Kreacher likes to mumble under his breath a lot. He also talks to himself all the time, as though no one else can hear him. He makes lots of comments about all the mudbloods and blood traitors in his house, making it perfectly clear that at least most of the Black family believed in the same pureblood nonsense the Malfoys do. Hermione is sympathetic to Kreacher, because of course she is, and tries to excuse his behavior, claiming that he isn’t in his right mind, but Sirius knows exactly what Kreacher is up to. Kreacher claims that he has been cleaning, but the house is so filthy, no one really believes that. What Kreacher has been doing is trying to steal items that the Order has been throwing away. He is fiercely loyal to Sirius’s mother and wants to preserve as much of the stuff in the house as possible.

Sirius sends Kreacher away, telling them that all the time Kreacher spent alone in the house talking to his mother’s portrait has probably driven him a bit mad, but Kreacher has also always hated Sirius for breaking his mother’s heart by not being a spiteful racist like she is. Kreacher had mentioned a tapestry, so they go looking for it. The tapestry shows a family tree of “The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.” Sirius’s name is no longer on the tree. His mother burned it off after Sirius ran away at the age of sixteen. Where did he go? To the Potters, who immediately took him in.

They discuss other family members as well. An uncle who was also burned off for leaving Sirius some money in his will. Sirius’s younger brother, Regulus, who died after joining the Death Eaters. The rest of Sirius’s family were not all Death Eaters, but they were definitely sympathizers who thought Voldemort was on the right track. There’s also Phineas Nigellus, “the least popular headmaster Hogwarts ever had,” most notable for being the portrait that Hermione takes with them during Deathly Hallows. We also find out that Sirius and Tonks are related, and they are both related to the Malfoys.

“The pure-blood familes are all interrelated,” said Sirius. “If you’re only going to let your sons and daughters marry purebloods your choice is very limited, there are hardly any of us left. Molly and I are cousins by marriage and Arthur’s something like my second cousin once removed. But there’s no point looking for them on here — if ever a family was a bunch of blood traitors it’s the Weasleys.”

We also see that Sirius is related to Bellatrix Lestrange. She had her husband were the ones Harry saw in the Pensieve coming to trial with Barty Crouch Jr. Sirius gets a bit defensive about his family. As far as he’s concerned, these people aren’t his family at all. He hates them and they hate him. Harry tries to reassure Sirius that he doesn’t blame Sirius for his family, and Sirius immediately apologizes. He hates being back in his old house, even though all the security measures the Black family put on it to make it impossible for Muggles to find makes it ideal for a headquarters, especially after Dumbledore added his own protections.

Sirius offers to accompany Harry to his hearing in his Animagus form, reassuring Harry that they should clear him. Harry asks if he gets expelled, if he can come back and live at Grimmauld Place with Sirius. Sirius doesn’t make any promises, but I also can’t imagine that he would turn Harry away either.

After lunch, they tackle the cabinets which hold a whole lot of unpleasant items, most of which don’t want to come off the shelves. I’m not going to list everything they find, but one of the items is pretty significant later in the series: the “heavy locket that none of them could open.” Yeah, hello horcrux! Kreacher spends the whole time trying to sneak off with some of the items, but finally gives up when he keeps getting caught. It takes three days to finish cleaning the drawing room, before moving on to the dining room. Harry describes it as “waging war” on the house, with Kreacher trying to help the house as much as he can. They can’t get the tapestry off the wall though.

All the while, they see glimpses of other Order members from time to time, including McGonagall! Harry can’t stop worrying about the hearing though. He is so afraid that they are just going to snap his wand then and there and throw him out of the wizarding world. The night before the hearing, Mrs. Weasley tells Harry that he will go to work in the morning with Mr. Weasley and wait until it’s time for the hearing. Dumbledore also had stopped by the night before and said that he didn’t think it was a good idea for Sirius to come along. Harry is not happy about the fact that Dumbledore was at headquarters and didn’t even talk to him. Of all the times Harry needed Dumbledore, this was definitely one of them.

See you next time for Chapter 7!

nostalgic reads

Nostalgic Reads – Racing Hearts

Nostalgic Reads

racing heartsTitle: Racing Hearts

Author: Francine Pascal, Kate William

Series: Sweet Valley High #9

Blurb: “Love on the run…”

Roger Barrett has always had a hopeless crush on glamorous, wealthy Lila Fowler. The only attention Lila ever pays to him, though, is to make fun of him in front of her friends. But why shouldn’t she, he thinks. After all, he’s clumsy and shy and works secretly as a janitor after school.

When Roger wins the qualifying heat for a big race, he becomes a school celebrity overnight. And to his surprise, even Lila starts to chase after him. But Roger knows if he runs in the race finals, he’ll lose his job. Will Lila still notice him when he’s no longer a star?

Review: This may be the first book so far where Jessica is actually not terrible! Hooray!

Roger Barrett is sad and awkward and totally crushing on Lila Fowler, the richest girl in school. Roger is also super poor because his mom is sick and his dad is a drunk. There is a big event coming up – a race called “the Bart.” Lila shames Roger into running, which he does, enduring ridicule from Bruce Patman for it. Bruce is also running and exists purely to be a jerk to anyone and everyone around him.

But hey! Roger wins! And Jessica convinces Lila that Roger will be popular now after his impressive run, so Lila gives him a chance, much to the disappointment of Olivia Davidson, Roger’s best friend who has been harboring a secret crush on him. The other problem is that Roger has an after school job to help support his family – he can’t spend time training for a race!

Roger enjoys Lila’s attentions, but can’t keep up the charade. He tells her he can’t run, along with the reason why, and she is none too happy about it. But wait! Somehow Roger’s mean boss, who Roger was sure would never give him the time off to compete, is now totally cool with it and called the school to tell them that. Yay!

Roger also realizes that Olivia is his true love, the one who has been there all along. Double yay!

The day of the race arrives and it’s a close one. Lots of competition from other schools, but Roger wins the day! He also wins a full scholarship to Sweet Valley College. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy. Of course, all the attention has perked Lila’s interest again. She convinces herself that Roger made up the story about having a job and a mean boss. She is shocked when Roger turns down the invitation to Lila’s after party in his honor. Roger loves Olivia and that’s that.

Our subplot is that Jessica has come up with the idea that she wants to get serious. She wants to work part-time after school at her dad’s law firm and be a lawyer when she grows up. The shine of a new job wears off quickly, but then Jessica meets Dennis, who works for his father in the same building. They hang out after work, but Dennis won’t take her anywhere else. Why? Turns out he’s only 15 and has been lying about his age. Jessica isn’t interested after that.

There’s also a thing about Coach Schultz, who the students think is retiring because he has cancer, but that rumor isn’t true. He’s fine.

The set up for the next book involves Annie Whitman, a girl known for being “easy” who wants to join the cheerleadering squad. Jessica doesn’t want her there. I guess we’ll see what happens next!