In Chapter 9, we see what all is truly at stake in the war with Voldemort. Let’s go!
Harry is pretty surprised that 1). he has been completely cleared, and 2). that Dumbledore just walked out without saying a word. No one in the entire courtroom is looking at him at all, except for Umbridge, or as Harry calls her, “the toadlike witch.” Honestly, they made Umbridge look too pretty in the movies – Imelda Staunton is not toadlike in the slightest. She’s lovely!
Harry walks out of the room where Mr. Weasley was waiting and tells him the good news. Mr. Weasley is happy to hear it, since he was still concerned even if logically, the Ministry didn’t have a leg to stand on. That’s when he sees who else is filing out of the room.
“Merlin’s beard,” said Mr. Weasley wonderingly, pulling Harry aside to let them all pass, “you were tried by the full court?”
Yeah, this is super messed up. Just in case you couldn’t tell. Remember, this is how we saw them sentence Death Eaters in the Pensive. Also, one of the people to walk out past them is Percy, who completely ignores his father and Harry. It’s really sad in an awkward, uncomfortable way. This is not how the Weasley family is supposed to be, y’all!
As they head back out of the Ministry, they pass by Fudge speaking to Lucius Malfoy. Harry remembers that the last time he saw Malfoy was in the graveyard when Voldemort returned. He had even told Fudge that Malfoy was there, but of course, Fudge didn’t listen then and he certainly doesn’t care now. Malfoy has to be snide, because that’s the only way he knows how to behave, but he also makes it pretty clear that his motivations are money related.
“What private business have they got together anyway?”
“Gold, I expect,” said Mr. Weasley angrily. “Malfoy’s been giving generously to all sorts of things for years . . . Gets him in with the right people . . . then he can ask favors . . . delay laws he doesn’t want passed . . . Oh, he’s very well connected, Lucius Malfoy . . .”
That’s not discomforting at all, is it. Harry also brings up the point that if Fudge is hanging out with known Death Eaters, how do they know that Fudge isn’t under the Imperius Curse? Maybe that’s why he’s being so unreasonable. But Mr. Weasley doesn’t think so. The Order had considered the possibility, but thinks that Fudge is on his own right now.
Back at Grimmauld Place, every one is ecstatic that Harry has been cleared. Harry knows that Dumbledore had a big part in taking care of it all, but wishes that he had been able to talk to him. Or even just looked at him. As soon as he thinks about that, his scar starts hurting again. Which it does all the time now. Great.
As the days go by, Harry notices that Sirius doesn’t seem quite as happy about the fact that Harry got cleared. Sure, he acted happy along with everyone else, but he’s been getting a bit moody about it the whole time. Hermione thinks that Sirius was secretly hoping Harry would get expelled so that Harry would come live with him and they would be together instead of just Sirius stuck in the house.
“Don’t you go feeling guilty!” said Hermione sternly, after Harry had confided some of his feelings to her and Ron while they scrubbed out a moldy cupboard on the third floor a few days later. “You belong at Hogwarts and Sirius knows it. Personally, I think he’s being selfish.”
She’s right, although I understand why Sirius feels the way he does too. He’s been alone for a really long time and Harry is the only “family” he has now.
Harry is really looking forward to going back to Hogwarts, now that he doesn’t have to worry about being expelled. They also get their letters with their supply lists for the upcoming year. Fred and George speculate about who the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher might be, since they had overheard that Dumbledore had a difficult time finding someone to take the position due to all the hardships previous professors have had –
“One sacked, one dead, one’s memory removed, and one locked in a trunk for nine months . . .”
It’s not a great track record.
Oh, and Ron gets a pretty big surprise – he’s been named a prefect. Fred and George are really surprised too. They had assumed Harry would get the honor. Hermione also expected it to go to Harry, as she has been named prefect as well. The one who is most surprised (and extremely proud) is Mrs. Weasley. She offers to buy him something as a reward and Ron asks for a broom. Fred and George, being Fred and George, can’t stop teasing Ron about everything, which makes Hermione very irritated with them.
After everyone leaves, Harry admits to himself that if he had thought about it, he would have expected to have been named prefect ahead of Ron.
Harry screwed up his face and buried it in his hands. He could not lie to himself; if he had known the prefect badge was on its way, he would have expected it to come to him, not Ron. Did this make him as arrogant as Draco Malfoy? Did he think himself superior to everyone else? Did he really believe he was better than Ron?
No, said the small voice defiantly.
But the more he thinks about it, the more he feels like he deserved the badge more than Ron does. He’s better at Quidditch, although not much better at classwork. He had had Ron and Hermione with him during most of his challenges at Hogwarts, but not all the time. Not when he fought Quirrell. Or the basilisk. Or the dementors. Harry can’t help but feel a little resentful. What has Ron done that made him more special than Harry? Harry does at least realize something.
Ron had not asked Dumbledore to give him the prefect badge. This was not Ron’s fault. Was he, Harry, Ron’s best friend in the world, going to sulk because he didn’t have a badge, laugh with the twins behind Ron’s back, ruin this for Ron when, for the first time, he had beaten Harry at something?
No. No, he is not. Because Harry isn’t like that. When Ron comes back, Harry congratulates him. Ron is definitely feeling weird about the whole situation, but he also seems to appreciate Harry’s attitude towards it – Harry has caused too much trouble to be a prefect. They finish packing for Hogwarts and then go down for dinner. Mrs. Weasley has brought their new supplies, including Ron’s new broom, and a banner has been hung up over the table, congratulating Ron and Hermione. They are going to have a party!
Several Order members show up, including Mad-Eye Moody. Mrs. Weasley asks him about the boggart in the writing desk, which Mad-Eye looks at and agrees that it is indeed a boggart. Mrs. Weasley says she’ll take care of it later. It’s a very festive evening, everyone enjoying the final night before the Hogwarts students head back to school. Moody has something special he wanted to show Harry: a photograph of the original Order of the Phoenix, including Harry’s parents. It’s very disconcerting to see, especially since Moody is telling him all about the ones who are no longer alive due to their fight with Voldemort, or the ones who are worse than dead, like the Longbottoms.
Harry excuses himself quickly and heads to the stairs, but hears someone crying in the drawing room. He walks in and seems Mrs. Weasley sobbing, pointing her wand at what looks like Ron’s dead body. But that can’t be right – Ron’s in the next room. Mrs. Weasley tries to cast Riddikulus and the body changes to Bill’s body. Then the twins. Then Percy. Then Harry. It’s the boggart, showing Mrs. Weasley her worst fear – seeing the people she cares about dead. Harry tries to get her to leave, to let someone else take care of it, when Lupin comes in and, after seeing what was going on, gets rid of it.
“Oh – oh – oh!” gulped Mrs. Weasley, and she broke into a storm of crying, her face in her hands.
“Molly,” said Lupin bleakly, walking over to her. “Molly, don’t . . .”
Next second she was sobbing her heart out on Lupin’s shoulder.
“Molly, it was just a boggart,” he said soothingly, patting her on the head. “Just a stupid boggart . . .”
“I see them d-d-dead all the time!” Mrs. Weasley moaned into his shoulder. “All the t-t-time! I d-d-dream about it . . .”
And there it is. One of the saddest things in this book. Mrs. Weasley is especially worried about Percy, since he’s not speaking to them right now. What if something happens before they can reconcile? What if something happens to her and Arthur? What would happen to the rest of their kids? Lupin assures her that their family would be taken care of, and the Order is more prepared then they were the last time. It’s still heartbreaking though. After Harry goes up to his room and remembers Mrs. Weasley crying over the images of her dead family, it has definitely put things into perspective. Who cares about a prefect’s badge. There are more important things to think about.
Now, can I just reach through the book and give Mrs. Weasley the biggest hug? Because I want to so bad!
See you next time for Chapter 10!