It really, truly, deeply struck me this time ’round how horrifying the infiltration of the Ministry must have been for Hermione.  The majority of those scenes are – obviously – focused on Harry seraching for the Horcrux & snatching Moody’s eye back out of Umbridge’s door.  But its mentioned that Hermione has to follow Umbridge down to the courtrooms, and when Harry finally catches up to her, she’s sitting in on the trial of Cattermole’s wife (i.e. the wife of the man Ron’s impersonating).

Hermione is a Muggle born witch.  Even if she wasn’t in league with Harry Potter, this was her fate in the wizarding world if Fudge / Umbridge kept power.

I don’t know why it hit me so hard this time ’round.  Harry is, well, Harry, and it’s the Ministry’s own damn fault he’s against them.  Ron has the privilge of making the choice – to be with the Ministry or against them – and he chooses his best friends (and his own sense of morality).  Hermione doesn’t have a choice.  Sure, if she wasn’t helping Harry she wouldn’t be hunted down by name, but she still would have been hunted down as a Muggle-born, subjected to a dehumanizing trial, and probably stripped of her wand and thrown back out into the Muggle world.

I just…cannot wrap my head around how fucking traumatizing that must have been for her.  To see, played out, in living color, in front of her own eyes, the fate that awaits her if they lose this war.  Like, no wonder she was so convicted and passionate about it.  Harry may have given his life for the cause, but Hermione had the most to lose.

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Name Game

I know this gets talked about – like, a lot – but I have a bone to pick with the entirety of the Potter-Weasley clan.  Harry and Ginny get a lot of shit for their kids names (ALBUS SEVERUS REALLY GUYS) and that’s all well and good, but the rest of these kids don’t get off so easily (I guess Charlie does, since canonically he never marries or has kids, but I digress).

None of you fuck waffles named your child after your father?  Really?!?!   Your father, who slaved away at the Ministry of Magic to raise you ungrateful little bastards, to put food on the table and robes on your back – even when he was a known associate of the Order of the Phoenix and going to work could have gotten him captured or killed?  Your father, who was attacked by a giant snake trying to keep your friend – and later husband / brother-in-law – safe and alive?  Your father, who taught you how to be a good person and that everyone – even Muggles – deserves fair and equal treatment?

I do wish that Harry and Ginny had named a child after Hagrid – I wish it so much, particularly because Hagrid didn’t have any children of his own – and I get the idea that Harry left Remus for Teddy to use for his future children  – but I’m personally offended by the idea that NONE of Arthur’s five children (who had children of their own)  named a child after him.  NOT EVEN A MIDDLE NAME, GUYS, COME ON.

Just rude as fuck.

((For the record, 1) Percy named a daughter after Molly, and 2) in real life, one of my twins is named after her (deceased) grandmother and the other is named after her (deceased) great-grandmother.  Family names are important.))

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This scene takes place at the beginning of Deathly Hallows.  I honestly don’t know how  I missed it before, with my Hermione obsession (or, more accurately, my obsession with all the female characters).  Then again, she’s just filled with so much awesome it isn’t that surprising.  What am I talking about?  The fact that apparently Hermione knows which wild mushrooms are safe to eat, and – while Ron and Harry were just chilling, being useless, collected them and cooked them dinner (never mind whether it was good or not).

Now, there’s plenty that can be read into this scene from a feminist perspective (why was it her job to cook for them?  Did Ronald not think to ask his mother for a few recipes before they left?), but I’m just going to be over here basking in the never-ending glory of how perfect Hermione is.

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Like A Girl

I love feminist Ginny Weasley.  I know I’ve talked about how much I love her before, but while I was reading HBP, I was reminded of what a good feminist character she is.  She doesn’t let her brothers push in on her social life – she soundly tells Fred & George to mind their own business, and straight up puts Ron back into his place when he tries to butt in.  It’s very clear that she’s the only one in charge of who she dates and she’s not going to put up with her brothers trying to get involved.

When Harry breaks up with her for “her own good”, she’s obviously not happy about it, but she agrees with his reasoning (it’s not his decision alone!) and she doesn’t let it stop her from going about her life.  Rather than simply hanging around waiting for Harry to return and pick her up like a lost piece of luggage, she teams up with Neville to reactivate the DA and fight against the Death Eater’s reign at Hogwarts.

In pretty much every conceivable way, Ginny Weasley is a girl – growing into a woman – who lives on her own terms and refuses to allow other people’s expectations of her bring her down; the expectation of her brothers that she’ll date at a pace that’s comfortable for them, or the expectation that she’ll be an easy target because she’s a girl are disabused with the same casual confidence.  I just honestly love her so much, and she’s the girl who I wish I was at her age (mixed with a little Hermione, though).

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Random Notes as I finish Half Blood Prince and prepare to crack open Deathly Hallows:

  • Ugh Romione 4eva.  His whole thing with Lavender just made me so unreasonably irritated.  Like, I know sometimes it feels like options are slim for gingers, but….just….ugh
  • I feel like it’s significant that Harry begins and ends the  year immobilized under his invisibility cloak, listening to Draco discuss his plans and plots, but I can’t quite make the connection.
  • Dumbledore searching for the door to get into Tom Riddle’s horcrux cave was super reminiscent of Gandalf trying to open the gates to the Mines of Moria, and I’m shocked at myself for never noticing this allusion before.
  • It’s mentioned prior to Dumbledore’s funeral that Harry had never been to a funeral before – I guess in this case I can let it slide, because he’s never had any family or friends, but goddamn I’d been to a few by the time I was his age (he’s 16 in this one) – why do authors do this?  Are funerals not inherently sad / awkward /  uncomfortable enough, you need to make it worse?

And, not specifically related to HBP, but a friend of mine is sending me actual scholarly articles on Hermione through a feminist lens and I’m just super geeky nerding out over it.  Cannot wait to get them.

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Today on obvious things I should have picked up sometime in my first twenty-two readings of Harry Potter:

Tom Riddle starts out as a very attractive young man, but as he becomes more and more outwardly evil and caring less and less about hiding his actions, his physical appearance deteriorated until he eventually ended up looking subhuman.  Throughout Half-Blood Prince, we (and Harry!) get to see Tom Riddle through the years – he starts out as an attractive child in the orphanage, grows to a good-looking teenager and young adult during and immediately after his Hogwarts years, but has started to lose his looks just a few years after that – when he comes back to ask Dumbledore for a job, and it’s clear that he’s no longer particularly trying to hide his actions, at this point, because it’s the reason Dumbledore gives for not giving him the job.

It’s all very reminiscent of Dorian Grey, and the idea that your character defines whether you’re ugly or pretty and the only reason to be a good person is for the aesthetics.  From a literary perspective, I think it’s great and I love the reference and that it’s subtle and not super-in-your-face.  But from a social, general-reader perspective I’m kind of over the whole pretty=good, ugly=bad dichotomy and would honestly like to see it just die already.

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Cruel Intentions

It’s commonly accepted that the Weasleys are a big family – SEVEN kids.  SEVEN.  That’s just…so many – but I don’t think it’s ever really mentioned much when people talk about the Weasley kids and their personalities.  The fact is, growing up in a big family is totally going to shape your personality – the same way being an only child will shape your personality.  Ron in particular – as the only one we really get a deep look into, personality-wise – has a weird combination of cruelty and loyalty that, when looked at in the context of his home life, makes much more sense.

The first time I read Harry Potter, I didn’t find Ron to be mean, or cruel at all.  It wasn’t till I  re read the books a few times – and discussed some of the characters with my friends who are HP fans – that I recognized that he had the tendency to thoughtlessly fling insults at people.  If I put on my armchair psychiatrist hat for a second – I’m totally qualified in the wizarding world – I’d have to say it’s a function of growing up in a large family, where love is so assured that flinging insults is a natural form of communication (not that I know anything about that).  For proof, I give you Ron standing up to Snape for Hermione when Snape covers Defense Against the Dark Arts in Prisoner of Azkaban.  At this point, I don’t think Ron had any feelings towards Hermione other than friendly – possibly even sisterly – affection, but when someone else insulated her (using the same insults he uses himself) he jumped to her defense.  It reeked of “I can say that because she’s part of my family, you’re not a part of this you don’t get to say that”.

Which ties directly into the second piece of Ron’s personality that I think is directly tied to his large family – his intense loyalty.  Particularly after the first half of Goblet of Fire (when he openly doubts Harry and for a time doesn’t even talk to him), Ron is always, always, always on Harry’s side.  When Harry is going on a life-threatening trip to destroy the most evil wizard of all time, Ron is not about to stay home.  Even when Ron doesn’t agree with Harry (ahem Malfoy ahem) he still at least attempts to support him – and defend him against Hermione.  It’s very clear that Ron sees Harry – and later, Hermione – as a part of his family, and is as intensely loyal to them as he is to his brothers.

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