In Chapter 18, Harry hosts his first “study group.” Let’s go!
The end of the last chapter was horrifying. In class, Harry, Ron and Hermione now have to worry that Umbridge was somehow behind the attack on Hedwig, since she had obviously read the note from Sirius and tried to get him. Honestly, picture that grubby little hand with all the tacky rings just reaching for him. Ugh!
They do get some good news though: Angelina got permission to reform the Gryffindor Quidditch team! She had to appeal to McGonagall to do it, but it worked!
Hermione starts worrying about this whole D.A.D.A. group, which baffles the boys.
“Hermione, it was your idea in the first place!” said Ron indignantly.
“I know,” said Hermione, twisting her fingers together. “But after talking to Snuffles . . .”
“But he’s all for it!” said Harry.
“Yes,” said Hermione, staring at the window again. “Yes, that’s what made me think maybe it wasn’t a good idea after all . . .”
She may have a point. Sirius has been cooped up for so long, of course he thinks sneaking around and forming a secret group right under the Ministry’s nose is a good idea. Harry says that he trusts Sirius’s opinion, but Hermione just isn’t sure.
Quidditch practice that afternoon is a disaster, mostly because it is pouring down rain. They try to fly for an hour before giving up, but while toweling off in the locker room, Harry’s scar starts to hurt again. This time, it comes with the strong impression of what Voldemort is feeling – he’s angry. Ron asks if it’s some sort of vision, which it isn’t, but Harry knows that Voldemort wants something to be done, and it’s not getting done fast enough for him.
Ron asks about the last time his scar hurt, back in Umbridge’s office. Harry thinks back and remembers that it had felt more like Voldemort was pleased about something. And the time before that, Voldemort had been furious. Ron thinks Harry needs to tell someone. They can’t communicate with Sirius, and Harry doesn’t want to tell Dumbledore. Which, personally, I think is a mistake. Harry is still smarting from the weird way Dumbledore was acting around him over the summer and rationalizes that Dumbledore already knows about Harry’s scar behaving like this.
They head back up to the common room to start working on the mounds of homework they have. Harry ends up staying up long after everyone else has gone to sleep, but the warmth of the fire makes it really hard to stay awake. Around midnight, he starts to drift off . . . and starts to dream . . .
He was walking once more along a windowless corridor, his footsteps echoing in the silence. As the door at the end of the passage loomed larger his heart beat fast with excitement . . . If he could only open it . . . enter beyond . . .
He stretched out his hand . . . His fingertips were inches from it . . .
He is awoken with a start by Dobby, who has come to deliver Hedwig, who is all healed up. Harry notices that Dobby is wearing multiple hats, socks and scarves, all of which look like the ones Hermione had been making. Turns out, Dobby has been taking them all, giving some to Winky, who is still drinking quite a bit. The other house-elves refuse to clean Gryffindor Tower and are insulted by the fact that clothes have been left out for them like this. So Dobby has been doing it all.
Dobby notices that Harry is not happy and wants desperately to help him. Because he’s Dobby. At first Harry dismisses his offer for help, but then wonders if maybe a house-elf, who would have the run of the whole castle, might in fact have the answer. He asks if Dobby knows of a place where their group can practice without anyone finding them. Especially Umbridge. Dobby immediately knows of a place! The house-elves call it the Come and Go Room, or the Room of Requirement.
“Because it is a room that a person can only enter,” said Dobby seriously, “when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker’s needs. Dobby has used it, sir . . . when Winky has been very drunk. He has hidden her in the Room of Requirement and he has found antidotes to butterbeer there, and a nice elf-sized bed to settle her on while she sleeps it off, sir . . .”
Anyone else think that Dobby might have a crush on Winky? They’d be so cute!
Harry remembers a time that Dumbledore had mentioned finding a mysterious bathroom and thinks this might be the same place. No one really knows about it because it appears different to different people and they can’t always find it again. Harry considers heading out that night to go and check things out, but decides that maybe he should use a bit of caution, considering all the trouble he’s about to get into. Instead, he gets Dobby to tell him exactly how to get into the room. Aw, look at that! He’s growing up!
The next day, Harry starts spreading the word. Hermione is still worried, now about this whole Room of Requirement thing. She’s not sure how safe Dobby’s ideas are, and to be fair, she does have a point. Dobby’s last attempts at “helping” involved trying to get Harry maimed enough that he’d be sent home from Hogwarts. Her worries are put to rest once Harry says that Dumbledore had mentioned the room before. Together, they all let the group know of where they were going to meet and how to get inside.
That night, Harry, Ron and Hermione head out, using the Marauder’s Map to make sure they aren’t found out. The reach the corridor that Dobby described and walk past the wall three times, thinking very hard about what they need.
We need somewhere to learn to fight . . . He thought. Just give us a place to practice . . . Somewhere they can’t find us . . .
And what do you know, it works! A door appears in the wall that leads into a very large room filled with everything you could possibly need to start a possibly illegal study group. Books on defensive magic. Cushions for stunning. Dark magic detectors. They wait while other members of the group trickle in, and everyone seems quite impressed. Actually, Fred and George remember that they had found a room here before, but it was just a broom closet for them.
Hermione says that they should elect an official leader. Cho immediately says it should be Harry, which makes Harry feel pretty good about himself. They also decide that they need a name. There are a few suggestions, but they want something that is easy to remember and also something that can be talked about in mixed company without it being obvious what they are doing.
“The Defense Association?” said Cho. “The D.A. for short, so nobody knows what we’re talking about?”
“Yeah, the D.A.’s good,” said Ginny. “Only let’s make it stand for Dumbledore’s Army because that’s the Ministry’s worst fear, isn’t it?”
It’s really fun watching Ginny come into her own in these later books. She went from being this little mousy child to having this confidence and a sarcastic streak I can really get behind.
On to the lesson. Harry figures that they should start with the Expelliarmus spell, something that is somewhat basic, but also very important to know. Zacharias Smith has to get mouthy about it – can I punch him please? – and Harry quietly lets him know that this spell is what saved his life last year. Yeah, you don’t have an answer to that, now do you Zach? They all split up into teams and start practicing. Harry works with Neville, who is pretty hopeless, but soon leaves Neville to take turns with Ron and Hermione so that he can walk around the room to give tips.
This is a new role for Harry – being the teacher instead of the taught – and it is awkward at first. Slowly, the group starts to improve. Harry walks by Cho, which makes her nervous and accidentally set fire to her friend Marietta’s robes. As Marietta scowls and walks away, Cho confides that Marietta didn’t really want to be there, since her mother works at the Ministry. What does Cho’s family think?
“Well, they’ve forbidden me to get on the wrong side of Umbridge too,” said Cho, drawing herself up proudly. “But if they think I’m not going to fight You-Know-Who after what happened to Cedric –“
It’s easy to see that Cho feels a bit conflicted, talking about Cedric to Harry. That’s got to mean something, right?
The time passes by pretty quickly and soon Harry realizes that they don’t have a lot of time to get back to their common rooms before curfew. They decide on the next time to meet and then send students out in twos and threes, Harry keeping an eye on the Marauder’s Map the whole time to make sure they all get back safely. Harry listens as Ron and Hermione go back and forth, arguing over who cast the spell better on the other person, but all he can really think about is Cho.
See you next time for Chapter 19!