Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hiding

Something occured to me recently.  It’s kind of common knowledge that the Potters were in hiding the until Voldemort finally found and murdered them.  But I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about what that meant.  That meant that they were alone while Lily was pregnant, only being visited by Order members, probably in shifts to keep from drawing attention to Godric’s Hollow.  Who was there when she went into labor – anyone?  Who delivered Harry?

And then, oh my god, the first year of having a baby is HARD.  Like, super hard.  I guess maybe on one hand you could argue that it was easier because they didn’t have jobs, but they also weren’t able to get out of the house.  Can you just imagine that for a minute?  Like, they literally could not leave the house even to go buy diapers, needed them brought in.  Now, let’s be clear, I love my children, but holy crap if I could NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE for fear of my life during my pregnancy and for the full first year after they were born, I probably would have lost it.

Could you imagine not being able to share your pregnancy or child’s first year with your family and friends?  Celebrating your child’s first Christmas alone, not being able to share their first steps or smile.  I know that it’s super tragic that they died, but  it’s equally tragic that their last year of life wasn’t really a year of life at all.

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Lupin

Remus Lupin is absolutely bisexual and you’ll never be able to convince me otherwise.

Just figured I’d get that out of the way before we moved on.  I think that Remus Lupin was a bisexual, and that’s how I can ship him with BOTH Sirius and Tonks.  I ship him HARDER with Sirius (for reasons that I’ll probably discuss when I talk about Tonks), but without Lupin/Tonks there would be no Teddy Lupin and ohemgee I adore little blue haired Teddy Lupin.

Ahem.  Back to the point.  I think that Sirius and Remus were together at least as long as Lily and James were together – since their later Hogwarts years.  I like to imagine that by that point, Lupin was more comfortable at Hogwarts and with his friends, and possibly got over a bit of his fear that they’ll kick him out for any little infraction.  That he’s beginning to feel like he really CAN – and DOES – belong with other witches and wizards, and he’s no longer afraid they’ll kick him out if he’s not 100% perfect.  BUT he’s not naturally super rebellious and so still remains the voice of reason for the Mauraders – hence why Dumbledore made him a prefect.  Specifically, he was able to be the voice of reason for Sirius – able to calm Sirius down when he was upset, and able to steer him towards pranks that were less likely to get him into trouble.

And, naturally, this makes me want to cry OCEANS of tears for Remus Lupin.  He was a werewolf in a world where werewolves were considered monsters (rightly so, but still.  Obviously there were ways to HELP them rather than simply treat them like automatic criminals), who finally found friends and a lover and a FAMILY in the world he despertely wanted to be a part of  And then the war started and he needed to go into deep cover with people who EMBRACED the idea of themselves as monsters and tried to live up to it.  And he has to be separated from his family during this incredibly dangerous time, when any of them could die at any moment.  and he can’t spend this time with them.

AND THEN HE LOSES THEM ALL AT ONCE.  In one night, Lupin’s entire world is wiped off the map.  Lily and James and (so he thinks) Peter dead, and Sirius implicated as the traitor and dragged off to Azkaban.  His whole world fell apart all in one go – not only losing everyone close to him, but the pain of being betrayed by Sirius, and knowing that without James’ support, he’ll lose any hope of living a normal life.  And so while everybody else was celebrating, Lupin was mourning.  Mourning his lover, mourning his friends, mourning his whole entire life.  And it wasn’t until twelve years later that he finally gets a reprive, only to be thrown back into a war and killed.

OCEANS OF TEARS FOR REMUS LUPIN.

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Rubeus Hagrid

So, the slow-thinking, bumbling, probably sort of clumsy big dude is kind of a literary cliche – or, at least, it is in the fantasy genre.  So, in one sense, Hagrid is kind of a cliche.  Then again, the nature-obsessed character who is so good with nature that he can practically speak to animals is also a cliche, and that’s basically the opposite of Hagrid, so you know.  It evens out, I guess?

Being a half-giant put Hagrid in a similar situation to Lupin – meaning that he dealt with prejudice and assumptions about him from witches and wizards each and every day.  That prejudice obviously played into Hagrid being kicked out of Hogwarts – not only was he known to be attracted to vicious types of animals (who he always insisted were “misunderstood” – hm I wonder why??), but he was a HALF GIANT, and come on everyone knows what giants are like RIGHT?  It’s really no wonder he wanted to protect and take car of Harry, since he himself was treated so poorly.

The fact that Dumbldore was able to take Hagrid in and protect him, though, makes him sort of a contrast to Lupin.  Both were characters who faced discrimination for things outside their control; Hagrid was able to find a safe place for himself and he blossomed under the protection of Dumbledore.  He was obviously happy with his life and lived comfortably, and was even comfortable enough to skirt wizarding laws by purchasing and raising banned dangerous creatures.  By contrast, Lupin’s safe place (under the protection of James Potter) was ripped away from him, and he was reduced to constant travelling, unable to get or hold a job.  It’s clear from when we first meet Lupin that he’s on the edges of society, and he isn’t able to take any risks because his situation is so precarious.  It raises the question of what Remus Lupin would have been like if James hadn’t died and Lupin did have a safe space to exist in.

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The Four Founders

I realize that a big theme running through my posts is an unquenchable desire to know everything there is to know about the Harry Potter universe.  I want to know what Sirius’ childhood was like, and I want to know about the First Wiazarding War and I want to know about how the wizarding world changed after the Second War.  I want to know why each and every character does what they do, and how their life experiences shaped them.

THAT BEING SAID, I wish we knew more about the Founders.  Hogwarts was founded in 990 AD. That’s 990 years after the birth of Christ – that’s 300 or so years before Braveheart, for reference.  That’s a LONG TIME ago.  The world was VERY different – This is the time the Holy Roman Empire was strong throughout mainland Europe, Lief Erricson was searching out the New World, and it was a generally more violent, Game-of-Thrones-esque time.

Who were these people who came out of this turbulent time in history with a desire to create a SCHOOL to TEACH young magicians – and willing to work together, despite their clearly varied priorities and desires.  We know what they prized in their students, but not how they lived their day-to-day lives.  Rowena Ravenclaw had a daughter (the Hogwarts ghost the Gray Lady) but did the other founders have families?  Were they nobility – I assume so, since they had a castle and started a school – but were they rich and powerful or was beginning the school a way for them to escape political struggles?  Honestly, were those even their REAL NAMES – what are the chances all four of them had alliterative names?

It makes sense that JK doesn’t go into too much detail about these characters – after all, they have very little impact on the story in the here-and-now, so to speak – and honestly, what sort of high school students would sit around talking about the people who started their school?  NONE.  So, yes, in the context, it makes sense that we don’t know much about them.  But JK is so good at writing layered, complex characters, that I feel cheated whenever I get anything less.

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Bellatrix

You guys I was going to write a whole thing about Bellatrix and how I get why people love her because she’s super fascinating and bitches be crazy and whatever and then I had a realization.

It’s well-accepted in the fandom that Bellatrix is in love with Voldemort.  Like, madly, obsessively in love, is his most loyal follower because she wants to jump in his bed etc etc etc.

It NEVER OCCURRED TO ME until I sat down to write this post that her husband must have been with them all the time Bellatrix was throwing herself at Voldemort.

They joined the Death Eaters together.  They tortured the Longbottoms together.  They escaped from Azkaban together and rejoined Voldemort.  And that’s where we, the readers come in, seeing Bellatrix as one of many Death Eaters surrounding Voldemort after he regains power.  One of those other Death Eaters has to be Rodolphus, Bellatrix’s husband.

Even if their marriage was just of convenience or to make their family’s happy, that shit had to be weird.


OK that is how I ended the post the day I wrote & scheduled it.  But you know I can’t just leave it there.  I can’t believe I’ve read HP so many  times and that never occurred to me. Is it much more obvious in the movies??  Anyway.  Moving on.

Bellatrix is – like all other characters in HP – super fascinating to me.  At first glance, she seems like a pretty typical crazy bad guy type – with an extra dose of obsessed bitch thrown in for good measure.  But when you get a little bit deeper into her character – well, there has to be something more under there.  She had two sisters – Andromeda and Narcissa.  Narcissa also married a pure-blood and was involved with the Death Eaters, but from the little we get of her story, it seems she’s only truly interested in her family and keeping her son safe.  Andromeda married a MUGGLE BORN and was disowned from the family. It’s enough to make me wonder if JK is trying to make some larger point about nature vs. nurture?  That three women raised in the same home ended up taking such radically different paths?

Where did Bellatrix go so wrong, really?  Obviously she was predisposed to joining Voldy because of her family history and upbringing, but that obviously wasn’t completely predetermined.  Was it because of her husband?  She didn’t have any children – could that have been why?  And when did she fall in love with Voldemort – I assume he wasn’t so weird looking before his death / resurrection?  If this was anything other than Harry Potter, I’d simply take her at face value as an evil, crazy bitch – but this is JK we’re talking about here, and every character is layered and has real motivations behind what they do.  I just wish that we got some more of Bellatrix’s backstory.

This is part of the reason why I want JK to write a previous-generation series.  So that I can get all my questions answered.

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Minerva

I’ve started this post three times now, and still cannot find the words to accurately encapsulate my love for Minerva McGonagall.  I’m apparently incapable of listing the various reasons I love McGonagall in paragraph form, so let’s try a simple list:

  • McGonagall takes absolutely no shit, yet somehow manages to sidestep the cold-hearted bitch stereotype.  She obviously cares deeply for her students and peers, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let anyone walk all over her or irritate her with their nonsense.  She does not care if you are the Ministry-appointed High Inquisitor, a professor or a student, she has absolutely no patience with your shenanigans.
  • McGonagall is an absolute bad ass.  This is related to her habit of not taking any shit (as seen above), but here I’m specifically talking about magically.  You need to be an INCREDIBLY powerful witch or wizard to become an Anamagius, and she obviously did that.  And, I mean, Dumbledore is generally acknowledged as the most powerful wizard of modern times. I doubt he chose a weakling as his second in command.
  • Speaking of being second in command, she must have been seriously the most efficient person in the entire world Rowling created.  Full time professor, Head of Gryffindor House, Deputy Headmistress…she was very clearly running the school while Dumbledore was off being Dumbledore.  He couldn’t be trusted to run the school.  Minerva could be.
  • Despite the above, McGonagall was super maternal and motherly to her students.  She had no children of her own, which may have had something to do with it (or not, what do I know).  But while she was stern and suffered no fools, it was very clear that she enjoyed her students and her teaching.

Actually, that’s pretty much it.  Those four traits really round out why I love her – and why I want to be her when I grow up.  She’s talented, accomplished, good at her job, and has no patience for nonsense.  When I grow up I want to be Minerva McGonagall

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Umbridge

One of the things that I love about JK is how many wonderful female characters she includes in her books.  They’re all real, fully realized characters, not just stereotypes that exist to prop up the “real” characters (aka the males).  Rowling’s women are just as fleshed out and important as her male characters.  And this is why I’m so incredibly happy that Rowling included this bitch in her world:

I mean, just to clarify, I hate her.  Just as much as anyone else does, I assure you.  But she provides a balance that was totally necessary for the purposes of Rowling’s world.  Don’t believe me?  WELL:

1) On a totally non-gendered level, she’s one of the few people who we saw being evil and dickish a terrible WITHOUT also being a Death Eater.  Snape may sneak in on a technicallity, but most people explain away his dickish behavior with the fact that he was undercover and PRETENDING to be a Death Eater (never mind that the Death Eaters were considered disbanded & in hiding till GoF / OooP).  Fudge is pretty terrible as well, but he’s generally considered to have been simply weak and afraid, not actively terrible.  Umbridge is terrible on purpose, and clearly taking advantage of the culture of fear in the wizarding world to enhance her position and grab power.  Gross.

2) She’s one of only 3 evil women in the series.  The Death Eaters are OVERWHELMINGLY male – there are only TWO female Death Eaters (that I can think of, let me know if I’m wrong of course) – Bellatrix and Alecto Carrow.  Alecto has barely any characterization, outside of the obvious evil-ness that’s to be expected of a Death Eater.  She and her brother Amycus are basically one character.  Bellatrix needs a lot of going into, and I will give her a whole post, but she’s openly insane, does what she does because of a man, and has been mostly stripped of her femininity.

Umbridge is EXTREMELY feminine – in your face, in fact.  She’s not particularly attractive, but she loves pink and frills and kittens and everything about her screams I’M A WOMAN THEREFORE I AM HARMLESS LOOK AT ALL THE SILLY THINGS I LOVE.  And then she turns out to be the most evil bitch in the entire series (yeah, I said it.  Nobody else comes close).  JK uses her to show that evil is not a masculine trait, and that being a woman does not automatically make you better or more moral than men (ahem, people who insist the world would be a better place with women in charge).  She represents the evils of bureaucracy, and she does it wearing pink suits and bows in her hair.  Once again, JK created a REAL character, who does not fit into any boxes (beurocrat = overly efficient and not interested in frivilous things, feminine woman = inefficient and unintelligent).  As much as I hate Umbridge and take a perverse pleasure in her fate, I am incredibly glad that JK chose to include her.

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