Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 13 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 13, Moaning Myrtle has a temper tantrum, a mysterious diary is found, Hogwarts celebrates Valentine’s Day, and we learn about a former Hogwarts student: Tom Riddle. Let’s go!

Twists and turns and misdirection abound in this chapter! That’s what makes it so much fun!

Hermione spends a great deal of time in the hospital wing to recover from being half a cat which, with all the attacks happening, causes a bunch of rumors around the school. Luckily, Hermione hasn’t been attacked (yet), but doesn’t want everyone to stare at her furry face either.

The problem is, they don’t have any other leads in the mystery of the Chamber. They know it isn’t Malfoy, and know that Malfoy doesn’t even know who it is. Where do they go from here? To be honest, I probably would have given up at this point. I would have done what I could to avoid the monster and help my friends do the same, but really, where do you go from here?

You find another mystery to solve, of course! Harry and  Ron hear Filch going off about the cleaning he has to do and find that Moaning Myrtle has flooded her bathroom. Again. Water everywhere. They ask her what is wrong and she tells them that someone threw a book at her. Harry attempts to comfort her, I think, by saying that at least it couldn’t hurt her.

He had said the wrong thing. Myrtle puffed herself up and shrieked, “Let’s all throw books at Myrtle, because she can’t feel it! Ten points if you can get it through her stomach! Fifty points if it goes through her head! Well, ha, ha, ha! What a lovely game, I don’t think!”

Oh, Myrtle.

They find the book, which looks very unremarkable, but Ron cautions Harry anyway. Some magical books can be very dangerous. But this one doesn’t appear to be. It’s just a plain book, a diary, that had been bought at a Muggle bookshop. The only thing written in it is the name T. M. Riddle. Ron remembers that name because it was on a special services award down in the trophy room, where he had to help polish trophies for detention.

A quick warning for series spoilers (it’s been well over 10 years, but still).

THEY FOUND A FREAKING HORCRUX IN MOANING MYRTLE’S BATHROOM! A HORCRUX THAT GINNY HAD BEEN CARRYING AROUND THE ENTIRE YEAR! I’m sorry, this makes me feel less sympathetic to Ron walking out in Deathly Hallows because he couldn’t handle how the locket was making him feel. Ginny is only 11. She was able to fight off the effects and get rid of the horcrux. She’s a badass!

Ahem. Back to the story at hand.

Hermione, fresh out of the hospital wing, tries everything she knows of to see if there is a hidden message in the diary, but it just comes up blank. They know that T. M. Riddle was a student fifty years ago, which is around the same time the Chamber of Secrets had been opened before. T. M. Riddle probably knows something about it (and how!), but they can’t figure out what.

Let’s talk really quick about the funny part of this chapter: Lockhart’s plan to boost morale at Valentine’s Day. The Great Hall is covered in pink and confetti and Lockhart has arranged for dwarves dressed up as cupids to deliver singing valentines to students. Why wasn’t this included in the movies?? It would have been hilarious!!

Harry gets a valentine, although he tries to avoid it, but the dwarf tackles him and sings anyway.

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,

His hair is as dark as a blackboard.

I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,

The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.

Aw, and it was Ginny who sent it to him, we find out as Malfoy tries to steal the diary. Poor Ginny. She is so fascinated with Harry and doesn’t know what to do about it. I would never have had the courage to try and send a valentine to the guy I had a crush on when I was her age. It didn’t go well, but still, at least she tried.

Let’s talk about the most important part of this chapter, and the one that leads to one of the biggest twists in the book. Harry figures out the diary’s secret: he writes in it and the diary writes back. The diary shows him Tom Riddle during his fifth year at Hogwarts. Tom is an orphan who doesn’t want to go back to the orphanage for the summer holidays, but who will not be able to stay at Hogwarts because of the attacks going on. We get to see the headmaster before Dumbledore, Professor Dippet, who isn’t unsympathetic to Tom’s plight, but is also facing the potential shutdown of the school if the attacks don’t stop.

Tom’s version of events: he confronts a rather large student who has some sort of monstrous pet. The large student, Rubeus, protests, saying that his pet didn’t do anything and didn’t hurt anyone. They argue and fight, and the pet presumably gets away.

Harry sat up. He was sweating and shaking.

“What’s up?” said Ron, looking at him with concern.

“It was Hagrid, Ron. Hagrid opened the Chamber of Secrets fifty years ago.”

And just like that, the story takes another sharp turn. It’s so brilliant! We knew Hagrid had gotten expelled – he said so in the first book. I had thought at the time that he was just a really bad student and not good at magic, although there are other students who aren’t good in class (like Neville, or sometimes Ron) and they aren’t kicked out. It makes sense that Hagrid would have to have done something awful to be expelled, but who would ever think that this gentle giant would ever hurt anyone? He wouldn’t, of course, but he also has a soft spot for creatures that he feels are misunderstood (like dragons, for example). It is entirely plausible that Hagrid would have heard about the Chamber, tried to make friends with the creature inside, and lost control of it. Completely and entirely plausible. This is the story that Tom gave to the other teachers and they believed it.

Just wow. The first time I read it, I totally believed this too. Well done, J. K. Seriously.

See you next time for Chapter 14!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 12 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 12, we see Dumbledore’s office for the first time and meet his very unusual pet, enjoy holidays at Hogwarts, and see the polyjuice potion in action. Let’s go!

First of all, I just want to say that this is my 600th post here on Life With No Plot! I’m so excited about that! You all don’t know how much I appreciate anyone who likes or comments, or even just takes the time to read my silly little drabbles here. So thank you!

On to the story now . . .

While I generally have issues with Dumbledore as a character over the entirety of the series, this chapter is one of the reasons why I like him. Let’s be honest – Harry’s case doesn’t look good here. He’s been caught twice now at the scene of the crime and is now known to be a Parselmouth – both things that could be damning circumstantial evidence of Harry being guilty. But Dumbledore believes Harry, knows that he wouldn’t do something like this, not only giving him the benefit of the doubt, but giving him the freedom to figure things out on his own.

I also really love that the first time Harry sees Fawkes the Phoenix, he thinks that somehow, he was responsible for the bird burning up.

“Professor,” Harry gasped. “Your bird – I couldn’t do anything – he just caught fire -“

Poor Harry. He’s just having a rough time.

We also get to learn important information about phoenixes, their strength and their healing tears. I’m sure that won’t come into play anywhere in the future, no not at all.

I also love Hagrid’s immediate and emphatic support of Harry. Hagrid is the absolute best.

It is my dream to be able to spend Christmas at Hogwarts. The castle all covered in snow and icicles. The Great Hall decorated with it’s enchanted Christmas trees and sparkling lights. It just sounds so beautiful. It is both lovely and sad that Harry looks forward to spending his holidays at school when everyone else looks forward to going home with their families. Also, what on earth is wrong with the Dursleys, that they send him a toothpick for a Christmas present? Why bother sending anything at all? Morons.

Moving on to the polyjuice portion of our show tonight. The potion is ready. They just need something from Crabbe and Goyle to complete it. Which they get easily, luring them with cake that has been laced with sleeping draught. Because they are dumb. Really dumb. I would question cake that was just sitting on the staircase. Not just eat it.

Oh wait. It was chocolate cake? All bets are off then.

I also really love that all this rule breaking is basically Hermione’s plan. Perfect Hermione who never puts a toe out of line. She would make an excellent crime boss, I’m just saying.

They get their hairs from Crabbe and Goyle (Hermione got a hair from a Slytherin girl during Dueling Club) and drink the polyjuice potion. This is an experience that I am glad is fictional, because I don’t want to ever have to go through something like this. It sounds absolutely horrible. But it works! Let’s give a cheer to Hermione once again – brewing a highly advanced and difficult potion as a 2nd year Hogwarts student! She’s just amazing!

Hermione is my favorite character, in case you didn’t know or couldn’t tell.

They transform, although something has gone wrong with Hermione’s transformation and she can’t go, and learn a fair amount about Malfoy. One, he is not the heir of Slytherin. Two, he doesn’t know who is, but wishes he did so he could help them. And three, his family manor house has been raided by the Ministry for Dark Artifacts, but haven’t found anything because they are hidden in a secret compartment under the drawing room.

Also, Mr. Weasley got in trouble for owning a flying car. Malfoy really loved to joke about that. Stupid git.

After the polyjuice starts to wear off, the boys run back to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to tell Hermione what happened and find out that Hermione does sometimes make mistakes. She thought she got a human hair off of Millicent Bulstrode’s robe, but Millicent must have a cat because . . . well . . .

Her face was covered in black fur. Her eyes had turned yellow and there were long, pointed ears poking through her hair.

Polyjuice isn’t used or animal transformations. She may be stuck like this.

It took a long time to persuade Hermione to leave the bathroom. Moaning Myrtle sped them on their way with a hearty guffaw. “Wait till everyone finds out you’ve got a tail!”

Poor Hermione.

See you next time for Chapter 13!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 11 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 11, the brewing of the polyjuice potion has begun, the trio has to cause a distraction in Snape’s class, the Dueling Club has it’s first very eventful meeting, and the monster strikes again . Let’s go!

Now that Harry’s arm is all mended, it’s time to get back to business. Polyjuice time! Ron and Hermione have started the brewing process in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom (because let’s be honest, who’s gonna look for them there?) and have done everything they can without those last few ingredients. That they will have to steal. From Snape. No possible way for this to go wrong.

Hermione decides she should be the one to actually steal the stuff because she hasn’t gotten into any trouble before. And, let’s be honest, she knows what she’s looking for. I don’t know if I would trust Ron to find the proper things. Sorry Ron. The distraction actually works – Harry throws a firecracker into one of the cauldrons during class, and in the ensuing chaos, Hermione is able to slip into Snape’s office and get the ingredients they need. Harry can tell though, just by the way Snape is looking at him, that Snape knows Harry did it. He has no proof though, so Harry is safe for now.

We get lots of excellent Snape scenes in this chapter, the next one being the Dueling Club, which Harry is excited to join, until he sees that Lockhard is running it. Ugh. He has talked Snape into assisting him and it is rather funny seeing Snape throw Lockhart across the room. This scene is more than just fun and games though, and it leads to another revelation about Harry. When Malfoy uses a spell to attack Harry with a giant snake, Harry finds out that the snake listens to him. We’re reminded of how the snake at the zoo in the first book responded to Harry in much the same way. A neat little connection.

The other students are not cool with this. They are completely weirded out. Turns out that the ability to talk to snakes, called being a Parselmouth, was something that Salazar Slytherin was famous for. It’s just one more thing that connects Harry to these attacks and leads everyone to believe that Harry might be the Heir of Slytherin. Top that off with the fact that the Sorting Hat had wanted to put him in Slytherin originally, and Harry starts really wondering if he could be related to Slytherin somehow.

Rumors spread all over school, especially in Hufflepuff. At the Dueling Club, Harry’s attempts to call off the snake looked like he was driving the snake towards a Hufflepuff Muggleborn named Justin. Which he wasn’t, of course. Harry was trying to make the snake go away. But if someone was rushing at me and a large snake, speaking a weird hissing language, I’d be weirded out too. The Hufflepuffs, and most of the rest of the school, don’t trust Harry at all anymore. It’s really sad. Harry had found a home at Hogwarts and is back to being treated like a pariah. I feel so bad for him!

The next attack, of course, happens soon after Harry confronts a group of these Hufflepuffs, and of course, Justin is one of the people who was attacked. This time it’s different, though. There is another victim.

Nearly-Headless Nick

How does something attack a ghost? How do you hurt someone that’s already dead? This is the creepiest part of the story yet!

Harry is caught at the scene of the crime, yet again. Wrong place, wrong time. We know he’s innocent, but it also looks really, really bad. Professor McGonagall tells Harry that there is nothing else she can do.

They marched in silence around a corner and she stopped before a large and extremely ugly stone gargoyle.

“Lemon drop!” she said. This was evidently a password, because the gargoyle sprang suddenly to life and hopped aside as the wall behind him split in two. Even full of dread for what was coming, Harry couldn’t fail to be amazed. Behind the wall was a spiral staircase that was moving smoothly upward, like an escalator. As he and Professor McGonagall stepped onto it, Harry heard the wall thud closed behind them. They rose upward in circles, higher and higher, until at last, slightly dizzy, Harry saw a gleaming oak door ahead, with a brass knocker in the shape of a griffin.

He knew now where he was being taken. This must be where Dumbledore lived.

Oh boy, here we go!

Tune in next time for Chapter 12!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 10 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 10, Harry & Co. find a way into the Restricted Section, a Quidditch match takes a dangerous turn, we get another visit from a certain house elf, and a student is attacked by the monster, proving that the Chamber of Secrets is in fact real. Let’s go!

Harry has a really rough time in this chapter, folks. Starting off with Lockhart’s class, where he has become the teacher’s pet. Lockhart uses Harry to re-enact scenes from his books and, I have to admit, it sounds hilarious. I would have absolutely howled in the back of that class.

Luckily, Lockhart is clueless enough to sign a paper for them that will allow them into the Restricted Section of the library to find the book with the recipe for polyjuice potion. One of the things I do love about this book is how taken Hermione is with Lockhart. Sure, she is the smartest student in her year and keeps her nose in a book at all times, but she’s also just a girl with a crush on a teacher. I’ve had crushes on teachers before and it’s always hard, always awkward. Poor Hermione. She really is my spirit sister.

The polyjuice potion is very complicated, partially because they need to find some of the rare ingredients. Including bits of whoever they are going to change into. I agree, Ron. I would not want to drink anything with toenails in it either. Ugh. It doesn’t help that the illustrations in the book make the transformation look very painful. At this point, I would be backing out of this plan, especially once they decide that they have to break into Snape’s private supplies in order to get what they need. He already hates Gryffindors and Harry specifically, but sure, let’s antagonize Snape even more, shall we? The potion takes a month to brew, but this is the only plan they have, so they go with it.

Quidditch! I love Quidditch so much, and really appreciate how they designed it for the films. It’s just so exciting! Another thing I love about it is how this is something that makes Harry just another kid. He’s had so much to deal with, but during Quidditch, he’s just another kid on his school sports team. They are playing Slytherin, their archnemesis, and things aren’t quite what they seem. For starters, one of the Bludgers seems to have been compromised. Instead of flying around trying to hit as many people as possible, it is targeted only on Harry. Eventually, it hits him hard and breaks his arm. Ouch!

This is such a funny scene, both in the book and the movie, and another instance of how clueless Lockhart actually is. He tries to heal Harry, but instead of fixing his broken bones, he removes the bone entirely! Whoops! Madame Pomfrey to the rescue! I have to say, Madame Pomfrey doesn’t get enough love in the fandom community. She is one of my favorite minor characters in the series, always there to patch them up after one of their escapades, without asking too many questions. She is able to fix Harry’s arm using a potion called Skele-Gro, but it takes a full night to regrow.

And that night, who should appear in the hospital wing? Dobby!!

Turns out Dobby was behind the barrier at Platform 9 3/4 not letting them through, as well as the Bludger going haywire, in an attempt to either keep Harry away from Hogwarts or to send him home. Even though Dobby has been behind all this unpleasantness, it’s hard to not feel sorry for him. He’s just so pathetic.

“Ah, if Harry Potter only knew!” Dobby groaned, more tears dripping onto his ragged pillowcase. “If he knew what he means to us, to the lowly, the enslaved, we dregs of the magical world! Dobby remembers how it was when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was at the height of his powers, sir! We house-elves were treated like vermin, sir! Of course, Dobby is still treated like that, sire,” he admitted, drying his face on the pillowcase. “But mostly, sir, life has improved for my kind since you triumphed over He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Harry Potter survived, and the Dark Lord’s power was broken, and it was a new dawn, sir, and Harry Potter shone like a beacon of hope for those of us who thought the dark days would never end, sir . . . And now, at Hogwarts, terrible things are to happen, are perhaps happening already, and Dobby cannot let Harry Potter stay here now that history is to repeat itself, now that the Chamber of Secrets is open once more -“

And just like that, the story intensifies again. When we first met Dobby, Harry wondered if someone had sent him as a joke. Now we know that no only is Dobby no joke, but Dobby is in the thick of everything that is going on right now, or at least knows about it. We also learn that the Chamber of Secrets, which Professor Binns had written off as a myth, has been opened before. Dobby isn’t capable of spilling the beans, and Harry isn’t about to just leave, not when one of his best friends is a Muggleborn and as such, could be a potential target.

We get even more confirmation that the Chamber is indeed real and dangerous when Colin Creevy is brought to the hospital wing, petrified just as Mrs. Norris was. He is brought there by Dumbledore and McGonagall, his camera still clutched in his hand. No pictures of the attacker – whatever was powerful enough to petrify Colin also fried his camera – but Dumbledore already knows what has happened. Whatever monster lives in the Chamber of Secrets, it’s out and it’s hunting.

Tune in next time for Chapter 11!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 9 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPCS BannerIn Chapter 9, we find out Mrs. Norris’s fate, see rumors starting to spread about Harry, and find out exactly what this Chamber of Secrets business is. Let’s go!

Filch is such a horrible, miserable person, but you have to feel sorry for him in this chapter. He is absolutely devastated by what has happened to Mrs. Norris. It’s hard not to be. I love cats. My goal in life is to become a crazy cat lady. I have two cats so far and would have more if my husband didn’t object so strongly (he loves our two cats, or at least one of them, but has put his foot down to having more). Mrs. Norris is a mean cat, no question, but she didn’t deserve this. I would be crying my eyes out too, Filch.

But Mrs. Norris is not dead! She’s only been petrified, and the mandrakes we saw a few chapters back can help create a potion to cure her. Yay! Can we talk for a second here how obnoxious Lockhart is here as well. His excessive, know-it-all, seen-it-all attitude is in such poor taste. Just stop talking, Lockhart! Nobody cares!

Filch thinks that Harry was behind the attack because Harry had seen his Kwikspell course and knows that Filch is a squib. I like learning these layers of how the Wizarding World works, even if they are unpleasant. It gives the world depth. Not everything is a bed of roses. In this case, squibs are the opposite of Muggleborn wizards – they are from magical families, but have no magic of their own. Because of this, they are looked down upon the same way Muggleborns are, in many ways.

This incident also builds up more suspicion about Snape, which is always fun. Snape has a strange reaction to finding Mrs. Norris, looking “as though he was trying hard not to smile.” After they are (for now) exonerated, Harry wants to get to bed “before Snape comes along and tries to frame us for something else.” Harry is almost always suspicious of Snape, the same way Snape is always suspicious of Harry.

Later in the chapter, we finally find out what the Chamber of Secrets is during their History of Magic class. Professor Binns is their only teacher who is a ghost, who also has the distinction of being the most boring teacher at Hogwarts. I know purists complained, but I’m glad they cut him from the movies and gave this scene to McGonagall, mostly because more Maggie Smith is always a good thing. Binns tells them of a secret chamber created by Salazar Slytherin, one of the Hogwarts founders, that contained a creature that only Slytherin could control. Only Slytherin’s true heir would be able to find the chamber and take control of the monster. The school has been searched, many times, and no chamber has been found, which has led Binns (at least) to believe that it is just a myth.

More misdirection, which is so much fun! Students are acting strangely around Harry, avoiding him like the plague, and Harry remembers that the Sorting Hat had wanted originally to put him in Slytherin. This makes Harry start to wonder the same thing everyone else is: could Harry be the Heir of Slytherin? Of course, he isn’t, but the first time I read the book, I have to admit, I wondered if it might be true. He was having all these weird experiences and couldn’t figure out what was going on. He also knew nothing about his dad’s side of the family. So it was, in theory, possible.

The three kiddos decided to poke around for clues, which quite frankly is such a dumb idea. You were already suspects, and now you are hanging around the scene of the crime. Why? It does lead to us learning about Ron’s biggest fear: spiders.

“It’s not funny,” said Ron, fiercely. “If you must know, when I was three, Fred turned my – my teddy bear into a great big filthy spider because I broke his toy broomstick . . . You wouldn’t like them either if you’d been holding your bear and suddenly it had too many legs and . . .”

Oh, Ron.

The spiders are behaving weird, marching in a line out the window. There is also water all over the floor, coming from Myrtle’s bathroom. Clues that don’t really lead to anything right now, but that become important later.

In the Common Room that night, they discuss who might be behind it. Of course, their suspect is Malfoy. And, let’s be honest, Malfoy seems like the type. He seemed really excited when Mrs. Norris was attacked. He hates Muggleborns, just like Slytherin was rumored to. His father seems evil enough to be involved. The first time through, I was ready to believe it was Malfoy, even if that did seem a bit obvious. He certainly had the motive.

So how do they go about finding out more information? With polyjuice potion, of course! Hermione has read about this potion, but knows the recipe would be in a book in the Restricted Section of the library. They would need to find a teacher, who wasn’t particularly bright, to sign off on a permission slip to let them get the book. Hmm. Wonder who they could ask?

Tune in next time for Chapter 10!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 8 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 8, we learn the woes of improper decapitation, learn something new about the Hogwarts caretaker, attend a death-day party, and see the first victim of the mysterious voice Harry heard. Let’s go!

(I actually wrote this yesterday, or most of it, and saved it in my drafts folder to finish when I got home. Which I didn’t do. Oh well. Enjoy it today!)

Oh, Nearly-Headless Nick. I love this character. The chapter starts off with Harry coming from Quidditch practice and running into Nick, lamenting the fact that once again, he has been denied membership to the Headless Hunt because he is not completely headless.

“Half an inch of skin and sinew holding my neck on, Harry! Most people would think that’s good and beheaded, but oh, no, it’s not enough for Sir Properly Decapitated-Podmore.”

Poor Nick.

They are interupted by Mrs. Norris, Filch’s cat, followed closely by Filch himself. Filch is always in a bad mood, but is particularly nasty today. He drags Harry to his office, intending to punish him for something, anything. Fortunately, they are interrupted and Filch runs off to see what the commotion is. While he is gone, Harry sees some papers on his desk for “Kwikspell,” a correspondence course in magic. Looks like Filch isn’t a proper wizard. This is the first, and probably only, time that I feel bad for Filch and see why he might be so unpleasant. You can imagine that, as a squib (although we don’t learn that word until the next chapter), he probably didn’t get treated very well by the rest of the wizarding world (look at how some of them treat Muggleborns, after all). Still, that’s no excuse for being so awful to everyone.

Filch is so flustered when he comes back and sees that Harry saw the Kwikspell course, he lets Harry go without any punishment (yay!). Turns out Nick helped out there, convincing Peeves to drop a heavy cabinet right above Filch’s office. To pay Nick back for helping him (and to make him feel better, since Nick still looks so sad), Harry reluctantly agrees to go to Nick’s Deathday party on Halloween. Apparently that’s a thing for ghosts, celebrating the day you died. I don’t know if I would want to do that, but hey, I’ve also never been dead either.

The party itself does not sound like a good time. Terrible screechy music, rotten food, freezing cold temperatures. We also meet another Hogwarts ghost: Moaning Myrtle, who haunts the girls bathroom. What a lovely place to live, eh? We also get to see the aforementioned Headless Hunt, who crash the party and distract everyone from Nick’s speech. I must say, they seem like jerks. Nick is better off without them, I don’t care how prestidgious an organization it is.

Harry, Ron and Hermione leave the party, hoping to catch the end of the Halloween feast, when Harry hears that spooky voice again. Ron and Hermione don’t hear it at all, but Harry runs off to see if he can find it.

“. . . rip . . . tear . . . kill . . .”
“. . . sooo hungry . . . for so long . . .”
“. . . kill . . . time to kill . . .”
“. . . I smell blood . . . I SMELL BLOOD!”

Why in the actual hell are you following this voice, Harry!! Why aren’t you running in the opposite direction as fast as you can!!????!!!

They find that Mrs. Norris has been attacked, hanging from a sconce on the wall, looking for all the world dead. There are also words written on the wall in what looks like blood.

“THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.”

Y’all, the first time I read this book, this is where I was hooked. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. This was no longer a happy little children’s book. This was DARK! This was CREEPY! I was so excited.

Before they can leave the scene of the crime, the rest of the school arrives, having just left the feast. Draco Malfoy, of course, has to say something nasty, which makes him seem like a suspect perhaps, or at least that maybe he knows more than he should about what’s going on. I love these little throw away clues that Rowling includes. We know now that he was not involved with the Chamber of Secrets at all, but Rowling sure does throw that red herring in there. I love when she does that. It makes it easier to discount in later books when Draco is actually up to something, but we’ve seen him act suspicious in the past and it turned out to be nothing. Such a good bait and switch. Rowling is a master at this.

See you after Chapter 9!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 7 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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Chapter 7 includes Quidditch practice, an unfortunate incident with Ron’s wand, an ugly incident of Muggle classism, and the upping of the stakes. Let’s go!

It’s finally the weekend (both in the book and in real life right now – yay!), and Harry has to go to Quidditch practice. Oliver Wood, their team captain, so obsessed with finally winning the Quidditch cup this year and forces everyone out of bed early. I would have smacked him at some point, but anyway. Other people who need a good smacking? Colin Creevy. Boy, you need to take a hint. Harry does not want you hanging around! He’s busy!

At practice, they also find out that Slytherin (who has gone over their heads to double-book the field) has a new Seeker – Draco Malfoy. Who had to buy his way on the team by his father donating brand new Nimbus 2001 brooms for all the players. I like how Draco thinks that he’s so amazing, but couldn’t get on the team based on his own merit. We see a much darker side of Draco here too, as he calls Hermione a “mudblood.” This is a terrible phrase in the wizarding world, basically like a racial slur would be to us. One of my favorite things is how quickly Ron jumps to Hermione’s defense – and how quickly it goes wrong.

Poor Ron.

They end up at Hagrid’s with Ron vomiting slugs into a bucket.

Poor slugs.

Also, Hagrid is the best. I will accept no arguments to the contrary.

Here’s where things finally start to get interesting, and the part of the book that really had me hooked the first time I read it. Harry has to go to detention (as punishment for driving the car into the Whomping Willow) and was requested by Lockhart to help him answer his fan mail. I’m sorry, but that does sound absolutely insufferable. I’d rather help polish trophies too, Harry. While in there, Harry hears a voice:

Come . . . come to me . . . Let me rip you . . . Let me tear you . . . Let me kill you . . .”

Okay, that’s just creepy. What’s creepier is that the other person in the room, Lockhart, doesn’t hear it at all. To me, this is what took this book to a whole new level. This isn’t just fun and games and petty school rivalries. Something truly dark and sinister is going on, something that has completely changed the game of EVERYTHING!

See you tomorrow for Chapter 8!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 6 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 6, we see Harry’s first day of class at Hogwarts and meet some new faces. Let’s go!

There is a lot to unpack in this chapter, but one of the funniest things in the chapter (possibly the whole book) are howlers. Mrs. Weasley sends Ron a howler, which is basically an exploding letter that loudly yells at him. It’s the best. Honestly, it is a good thing that howlers aren’t real, because my daughter would be in trouble. I’d use them all the time.

Another thing that is nice about this chapter is that we get to see more class time and get to know the Herbology professor, Professor Sprout. We didn’t see her much in Sorcerer’s Stone, so it’s nice to see what her classes are like. They are repotting mandrake plants, which is messy and potentially dangerous, but nothing that pink, fluffy earmuffs can’t handle. What’s funny is that we also see Sprout before class coming back from the Whomping Willow carrying bandages. It has a boo boo!

We also see Gilderoy Lockhart. So let’s talk about him. He is, truly, one of the most annoying people. First, he pulls Harry aside before Herbology and gives Harry some very unasked for advice about being famous, since Lockhart believes Harry took the flying car to Hogwarts in order to generate publicity. Which of course he didn’t, but that’s beside the point. Later, when Harry meets a new first year, Colin Creevy, who is star struck by Harry and wants to take his picture, Lockhart jumps in again to advise Harry that posing for pictures might make him seem a bit pompous, and maybe he shouldn’t do that in this stage of his fame.

Ugh. Harry is much more famous than Lockhart, but he also doesn’t necessarily want to be famous at all. It’s not as if he is famous for a good thing, or anything he had any control over. Lockhart’s assumptions are ridiculous at best, but by the end of this chapter, we start to wonder whether or not Lockhart might just be a fraud. His class, which starts off with a ridiculous quiz, asking questions like “What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s favorite color?” but ends with Lockhart releasing a bunch of pixies out of a cage and being unable to get them back in. Instead, he runs away and let’s a bunch of twelve year olds clean up the mess for him. Hermione is still infatuated with Lockhart, but Ron is the first one to say out loud that maybe Lockhart has made up his adventures.

Quote for the day comes from another class they had that day, Transfiguration:

Ron was having far worse problems. He had patched up his wand with some borrowed Spellotape, but it seemed to be damaged beyond repair. It kept crackling and sparking at odd moments, and every time Ron tried to transfigure his beetle it engulfed him in thick gray smoke that smelled of rotten eggs. Unable to see what he was doing, Ron accidentally squashed his beetle with his elbow and had to ask for a new one. Professor McGonagall wasn’t pleased.

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 5 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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Chapter 5 finally gets us to Hogwarts, but not in the way you would expect. Let’s go!

The Weasleys remain the most wonderful people on the planet. They all celebrate the last day before school with a good meal and good fun. It makes me so sad that Harry is not used to being treated like a normal kid, much less a magical one. He is so happy to be there and so grateful, dreading what it will be like to go back to the Dursleys. I want to adopt him so bad!

I love their car. The Ford Anglia. Mr. Weasley is so proud of it! He has magically enhanced it so that it is much larger on the inside (Mrs. Weasley doesn’t suspect, and is quite impressed). I think what I like best about Mr. Weasley is his childlike fascination with Muggle objects. He loves driving the car and is thrilled with the idea of trying out the Invisibility Booster so they can fly without being seen.

They get to Kings Cross and head towards the barrier to Platform 9 3/4. They end up crashing into the brick wall and can’t get through. This leads them to make, what I think, is a big mistake: flying the car to Hogwarts. Seriously, boys? You really thought this was a good idea? Ron is worried that if they can’t get through, maybe his parents can’t get back, but really, I would have at least waited a few minutes to see. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley would have to come back eventually to pick up their car anyway. Slow down, kiddos! Just be patient!

Of course, patience is not a teenage boy’s strong suit. They head off, trying to use the Invisibility Booster (which doesn’t work so well), and follow the train to Hogwarts. Trouble is, the car has never flown this far before and starts to break down. In the air! No gonna lie, I would have freaked out at this point. They crash into a tree (breaking Ron’s wand in the process), but turns out, that tree isn’t particularly happy about being crashed into. It’s hard to read the books at this point without drawing comparisons to the films, but I thought the Whomping Willow was so perfect (although I could have done without the flight in the car with Harry almost falling out). I also liked how the car itself is just fed up at this point and takes off. Can’t say I blame it, really.

They sneak into school, missing the Sorting, but realize that Professor Snape isn’t at the Head Table. That’s because he’s RIGHT BEHIND THEM!!! They get lectures galore (due to the car being seen by several muggles) and are threatened with getting expelled. Professor McGonagall also berates them for their actions instead of, oh I don’t know, using Hedwig to send word that they were in trouble. Seriously, I would use owl post all the time if I had an owl. I’d send my husband notes from upstairs all the time. Come to think of it, it’s probably good that I don’t have a magic owl.

Luckily, Dumbledore does not expel them. We know why now, but it does seem unfair that Harry gets away with things so easily. He isn’t really punished at all. Just detention. They even talk their way out of losing House points. Once they get up to Gryffindor Tower, they are lauded as heroes for their daring, except for Hermione, who treats them as the irresponsible yahoos that they are. Hermione, you are my spirit animal. I relate to her so much.

That’s it for this chapter. Tune in tomorrow for Chapter 6!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 4 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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Welcome to Chapter 4! As always, there are spoilers afoot, so read at your own risk.

Let’s start off with one of the saddest lines ever:

What Harry found most unusual about life at Ron’s, however, wasn’t the talking mirror or the clanking ghoul: It was the fact that everybody there seemed to like him.

Okay, y’all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how on earth did Harry end up to be such a decent, well-rounded person? He grew up in such a toxic, horrible (and most likely abusive) household and yet doesn’t seem to suffer any side effects from that. It is shocking to me, honestly.

Also, love love LOVE the Weasleys so much! They don’t care who Harry is or that he’s famous. He’s a kid who needs a loving home and they treat him just like their other kids. They are awesome.

Also, also, poor little Ginny! It’s so hard to feel awkward around your crush, but to have your crush living in your house? I would die. Harry even notices that Ginny always knocks things over when he’s around.

We also learn about floo powder in this chapter, which is my least favorite means of wizarding travel. Seriously, who wants to show up to your destination covered in soot? Especially since it is such an imprecise form of travel? You need to speak clearly, keep your elbows tucked in and eyes shut, don’t fidget in case you call out of the wrong fireplace. It’s no wonder Harry ends up in the wrong place. And what a wrong place it is. Our first introduction to Borgin & Burkes in Knockturn Alley.

Again, this is another place where Rowling drops something that seems insignificant in an early book and it turns out to be huge later on. We don’t know anything about Borgin & Burkes, except that it seems like a dark magic shop, but we know now that several items in the shop were used by Deatheaters in later books and that a young Voldemort actually worked there. So cool.

We also get to see Draco being a little snot, but also see that his father is quite horrible. Hints of the hatred towards Muggleborns here, as Mr. Malfoy is upset that Hermione, “a girl of no wizard family,” got better grades than Draco did, and Mr. Borgin laments that “wizard blood is counting for less everywhere.” We also hear Mr. Borgin mutter to himself that the Malfoys probably have a ton of Dark artifacts that no one else knows about. Who’s surprised by that? Show of hands? Oh, right. No one is surprised by that.

Also, Borgin was super creepy in the video game adaptation, just saying.

A nice little red herring thrown in here, as Harry is rescued by Hagrid, which sets up the suspicions about Hagrid later in the book – if Hagrid is hanging around Knockturn Alley, a place known to cater to Dark wizards, could he be hiding something? It’s very neat and tidy the way Rowling does that, putting just the slightest suspicion in the reader’s head.

I just want to have one little shopping spree in Diagon Alley. Just one. That would make me very, very happy.

Finally, towards the end of the chapter, we meet one of the center pieces of this book: Gilderoy Lockhart. And can we just say, he was portrayed to perfection in the movie by Kenneth Branaugh. This guy is so smarmy! I really don’t understand why the ladies love him so much. I don’t think I would have fallen for that, no matter how handsome he is. He clearly uses Harry as a prop to get even more publicity and announces that he will be teaching at Hogwarts.

This last part of the chapter is so important and gets completely missed when you read the book for the first time: the confrontation with the Malfoys. Lucius is able to plant Tom Riddle’s diary on Ginny during a scuffle with the Weasleys and NO ONE NOTICES. I have always wondered what Lucius’s intentions were. Why was he even carrying it with him that day? He couldn’t have planned to plant it on the Weasleys, but even if he did somehow, what was the point? Was it just to mess with them, or to rid himself of a very Dark artifact that could get his family in trouble? It seems odd to give it to the youngest of the bunch, although Ginny would clearly be the more vulnerable of them, easier to influence.

Tune in tomorrow for chapter 5!