Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 19
In the nineteenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, FINALLY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 19: THE SILVER DOE
- After two nights of little sleep, Harry’s senses seemed more alert than usual. Their escape from Godric’s Hollow had been so narrow that Voldemort seemed somehow closer than before, more threatening. As darkness drove in again Harry refused Hermione’s offer to keep watch and told her to go to bed.
Voldemort’s threat feels all the more real to me as well. And despite wanting to power through and read this all in the next hour, I’m still a bit hesitant to go forward. The trio’s search for the Horcruxes and what to destroy them with has hit roadblocks, disasters, and setbacks, and I worry that Rowling is ready to deal some serious heartbreak in the coming pages. I feel pretty safe stating this, but I think it’s finally possible that either Ron or Hermione could die.
I would have never even entertained that notion had it not been for Ron’s disappearance or the attack on Harry. But the risk here is absolutely real and I’m frightened that I’ll learn the Deathly Hallows have something to do with one of the members of the trio dying. (Is it weird that I call them “the trio”? I don’t know how else to refer to them.)
- Every tiny movement seemed magnified in the vastness of the forest. Harry knew that it must be full of living creatures, but he wished they would all remain still and silent so that he could separate their innocent scurryings and prowlings from noises that might proclaim other, sinister movements. He remembered the sound of a cloak slithering over dead leaves many years ago, and at once thought he heard it again before mentally shaking himself. Their protective enchantments had worked for weeks; why should they break now? And yet he could no throw off the feeling that something was different tonight.
Aside from the last line, which is a bit too blunt for me, this is one of those lines by Rowling that shows her skill at immersion. She’s never been one to be terribly wordy and this is a time when it works in her favor. I’ve always loved how willing you guys are to share fan art with me, because it helps fill in the mental images Rowling gives us. But this is a moment where I don’t need anything because I can see it in my head.
It started to scare me that Harry was so tired and exhausted by this journey that he was starting to nod off while on watch. And it turns out I had a right to be worried, but shit starts getting so goddamn real.
- The night reached such a depth of velvety blackness that he might have been suspended in limbo between Disapparation and Apparation. He had just held a hand in front of his face to see whether he could make out his fingers when it happened.
A bright silver light appeared right ahead of him, moving through the trees. Whatever the source, it was moving soundlessly. The light seemed simply to drift toward him. He jumped to his feet, his voice frozen in his throat, and raised Hermione’s wand. He screwed up his eyes as the light became blinding, the trees in front of it pitch black in silhouette, and still the thing came closer….
And then the source of the light stepped out from behind an oak. It was a silver white doe, moon-bright and dazzling, picking her way over the ground, still silent, and leaving no hoofprints in the fine powdering of snow. She stepped toward him, her beautiful head with its wide, long-lashed eyes held high.
Nope. Don’t do it. Don’t go over to it. This is bad. This is so bad. Can I just quote Star Wars now? I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
- Harry stared at the creature, filled with wonder, not at her strangeness, but her inexplicable familiarity. He felt that he had been waiting for her to come, but that he had forgotten, until this moment, that they had arranged to meet. His impulse to shout for Hermione, which had been so strong a moment ago, had gone. He knew, he would have staked his life on it, that she had come for him, and him alone.
They gazed at each other for several long moments and then she turned and walked away.
“No,” he said, and his voice was cracked with lack of use. “Come back!”
She continued to step deliberately through the trees, and soon he brightness was striped by their thick black trunks. For one trembling second he hesitated. Caution murmured it could be a trick, a lure, a trap. But instinct, overwhelming instinct, told him that this was not Dark Magic. He set off in pursuit.
I’m sorry…what? What is going on here. I want to believe Harry, I do. But why does he suddenly trust this…Patronus? It’s a Patronus, right?
Harry follows the Patronus doe out into the forest and every ounce of my being was internally screaming at him PLEASE STOP THIS HARRY, THIS IS GOING TO END IN DISASTER AND I AM 100% SELFISH AND CANNOT DEAL WITH ANYMORE TRAGEDY AT THIS POINT IN MY HARRY POTTER READING.
I’m an adult, I swear.
When the Patronus disappears, I honestly feared the worst. It was so goddamn unbearable and I wanted to reach into the pages and drag Harry back to the tent so he wouldn’t also be LEAVING HERMIONE BY HERSELF.
- Something gleamed in the light of the wand, and Harry spun about, but all that was there was a small, frozen pool, its black, cracked surface glittering as he raised his wand higher to examine it.
He moved forward rather cautiously and looked down. The ice reflected his distorted shadow and the beam of wandlight, but deep below the thick, misty gray carapace, something else glinted. A great silver cross…
His heart skipped into his mouth: He dropped to his knees at the pool’s edge and angled the wand so as to flood the bottom of the pool with as much light as possible. A glint of deep red…It was a sword with glittering rubies in its hilt….The sword of Gryffindor was lying at the bottom of the forest pool.
WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. How is that possible??? Oh god, please don’t let this be a trick. Please please please please MY POOR HEART IS GOING TO BURST.
- What was it, Harry asked himself (walking again), that Dumbledore had told him the last time he had retrieved the sword? Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat. And what were the qualities that defined a Gryffindor? A small voice inside Harry’s head answered him: Their daring nerve and chivalry set Gryffindor apart.
Harry stopped walking and let out a long sigh, his smoky breath dispersing rapidly upon the frozen air. He knew what he had to do. If he was honest with himself, he had thought it might come to this from the moment he had spotted the sword through the ice.
Rowling, are you about to seriously take Chamber of Secrets and totally melt my brain with that part of the book?
- With fumbling fingers Harry started to remove his many layers of clothing.
Um. Harry. Harry Potter. I assume that you know that diving into an icy lake surely exhibits “daring nerve,” but I am remiss in my duty to consider this….chivalrous. Even in it’s pure definition, how does this help women or Hermione?
- Where “chivalry” entered into this, he thought ruefully, he was not entirely sure, unless it counted as chivalrous that he was not calling for Hermione to do it in his stead.
Oh. Well…at least you acknowledge this? THAT THEN MAKES THIS A TOTALLY HEALTHY, NORMAL DECISION, RIGHT?
Please be a real sword, please be a real sword, please be a real sword, please be a real sword.
Harry dives into the frozen lake and let me tell you, I’ve jumped into ice-covered water. (I can’t even begin to tell you why.) It is REALLY, EXTREMELY MISERABLE. The way Rowling conveys that shock is pretty much spot-on. Your whole body seems to protest every bit of movement and everything strangely feels like it is on fire. Ugh. HARRY, PLEASE DON’T DIE.
- The cold was agony: It attacked him like fire. His brain itself seemed to have frozen as he pushed through the dark water to the bottom and reached out, groping for the sword. His fingers closed around the hilt; he pulled it upward.
Then something closed tight around his neck. He thought of water weeds, though nothing had brushed him as he dived, and raised his hand to free himself. It was not weed: The chain of the Horcrux had tightened and was slowly constricting his windpipe.
NO. SERIOUSLY. NO. STOP DOING THAT, HORCRUX. Oh god, it’s reacting to the sword. This is so terrible.
- Choking and retching, soaking and colder than he had ever been in his life, he came to facedown in the snow. Somewhere, close by, another person was panting and coughing and staggering around, as she had come when the snake attacked….Yet it did not sound like her, not with those deep coughs, no judging by the weight of the footsteps….
STOP. DROWNING. PLEASE. 🙁
- Harry had no strength to lift his head and see his savior’s identity. All he could do was raise a shaking hand to his throat and feel the place where the locket had cut tightly into his flesh. It was gone. Someone had cut him free. Then a panting voice spoke from over his head.
“Are — you — mental?”
OH MY GOD OH MY GOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Nothing but the shock of hearing that voice could have given Harry the strength to get up. Shivering violently, he staggered to his feet. There before him stood Ron, fully dressed but drenched to the skin, his hair plastered to his face, the sword of Gryffindor in one hand and the Horcrux dangling from its broken chain in the other.
I can barely communicate how ecstatic I am that Ron is back, so: RON IS BACK!!! ASDF;KLJSAD AS;KLFJASD ;FKJSAD;FLHKA AS;LKFDJHAS ;FA A;DSLKFHJAS ;FDLKAHJSDF;LKDS AS;DFLKHDSA
Ron is back and Harry didn’t drown and they have the sword of fucking Godric Gryffindor in their possession. I don’t even care how Ron found them or why the sword was in the lake or whose Patronus was the silver doe because THIS IS THE FIRST MOMENT IN THE ENTIRE BOOK WHERE I FEEL LIKE EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT.
- The Horcrux was still swinging from Ron’s hand. The locket was twitching slightly. Harry knew that the thing inside it was agitated again. It had sensed the presence of the sword and had tried to kill Harry rather than let him possess it. Now was not the time for long discussions; now was the moment to destroy once and for all. Harry looked around, holding Hermione’s wand high, and saw the place: a flattish rock lying in the shadow of a sycamore tree.
OH SHIT YEAH IT IS HAPPENING.
- “Come here.” he said and he led the way, brushed snow from the rock’s surface, and held out his hand for the Horcrux. When Ron offered the sword, however, Harry shook his head.
“No you should do it.”
“Me?” said Ron, looking shocked. “Why?” “Because you got the sword out of the pool. I think it’s supposed to be you.” He was not being kind or generous. As certainly as he had known that the doe was benign, he knew that Ron had to be the one to wield the sword. Dumbledore had at least taught Harry something about certain kinds of magic, of the incalculable power of certain acts.
Wait a second. Is this the link to Dumbledore’s comment back in Chamber of Secrets? Is Ron a true Gryffindor for saving Harry? This is deeply poetic to me.
- “How are you going to open it?” asked Ron. He looked terrified
“I’m going to ask it to open, using Parseltongue,” said Harry. The answer came so readily to his lips that thought that he had always known it deep down: Perhaps it had taken his recent encounter with Nagini to make him realize it. He looked at the serpentine S, inlaid with glittering green stones: It was easy to visualize it as a miniscule snake, curled upon the cold rock.
Parseltongue. JESUS. WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS SOONER? Seriously, all of Rowling’s “answers” are so obvious YET I CAN NEVER FIGURE THEM OUT.
- “No!” said Ron. “Don’t open it! I’m serious!”
“Why not?” asked Harry. “Let’s get rid of the damn thing, it’s been months –“
“I can’t, Harry, I’m serious — you do it –“
“Because that thing’s bad for me!” said Ron, backing away from the locket on the rock. “I can’t handle it! I’m not making excuses, for what I was like, but it affects me worse than it affects you and Hermione, it made me think stuff — stuff that I was thinking anyway, but it made everything worse. I can’t explain it, and then I’d take it off and I’d get my head straight again, and then I’d have to put the effing thing back on — I can’t do it Harry!”
I must admit he has a good point. It’s almost as if the Horcrux…focused on Ron. Why would it affect him worse than the others? I thought.
And this is answered in the worst way possible.
- Behind both of the glass windows within blinked a living eye, dark and handsome as Tom Riddle’s eyes had been before he turned them scarlet and slit-pupiled.
“Stab,” said Harry, holding the locket steady on the rock.
Ron raised the sword in his shaking hands: The point dangled over the frantically swiveling eyes, and Harry gripped the locket tightly, bracing himself, already imagining blood pouring from the empty windows.
Then a voice hissed from out the Horcrux.
Hey, Horcrux, could you like…not be a sentient being. I’d appreciate that a lot.
- “I have seen your heart, and it is mine.”
“Don’t listen to it!” Harry said harshly. “Stab it!”
“I have seen your dreams, Ronald Weasley, and I have seen your fears. All you desire is possible, but all that you dread is also possible….“
“Stab!” shouted Harry, his voice echoed off the surrounding trees, the sword point trembled, and Ron gazed down into Riddle’s eyes.
“Least loved, always, by the mother who craved a daughter . . . Least loved, now, by the girl who prefers your friend . . . Second best, always, eternally overshadowed . . .”
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST THIS IS HORRIBLE. RON. STAB IT. STAB IT NOW.
- Out of the locket’s two windows, out of the eyes, there bloomed like two grotesque bubbles, the heads of Harry and Hermione, weirdly distorted.
Ron yelled in shock and backed away as the figures blossomed out of the locket, first chests, then waists, then legs, until they stood in the locket, side by side like trees with a common root, swaying over Ron and the real Harry, who had snatched his fingers away from the locket as it burned, suddenly, white-hot.
I don’t even know what to say.
- “Ron!” he shouted, but the Riddle-Harry was now speaking with Voldemort’s voice and Ron was gazing, mesmerized, into its face.
“Why return? We were better without you, happier without you, glad of your absence…. We laughed at your stupidity, your cowardice, your presumption–“
I can barely comprehend how sadistic and evil this is. If there is any one of the trio most susceptible to attacks on their self-esteem, it’s poor Ronald Weasley. It has to be the reason the Horcrux affected him so strongly, causing him to abandon his friends. I said in a past review that it seems that Voldemort’s Horcrux is doing his work of undoing love in the world, and now we see it in action.
Straight fucked up, guys.
- “Presumption!” echoed the Riddle-Hermione, who was more beautiful and yet more terrible than the real Hermione: She swayed, cackling, before Ron, who looked horrified, yet transfixed, the sword hanging pointlessly at his side. “Who could look at you, who would ever look at you, beside Harry Potter? What have you ever done, compared with the Chosen One? What are you, compared with the Boy Who Lived?”
Unbearably awful. Which makes Ron’s plunging of the sword into the locket all the more powerful. To me, it doesn’t just represent him destroying the Horcrux. He’s fighting back against the notion that his is second-rate, worthless, disposable, and replacable. He is telling the rest of the world that they are wrong.
- Harry stooped, pretending he had not seen, and picked up the broken Horcrux. Ron had pierced the glass in both windows: Riddle’s eyes were gone, and the stained silk lining of the locket was smoking slightly. The thing that had lived in the Horcrux had vanished; torturing Ron had been its final act. The sword clanged as Ron dropped it. He had sunk to his knees, his head in his arms. He was shaking, but not, Harry realized, from cold. Harry crammed the broken locket into his pocket, knelt down beside Ron, and placed a hand cautiously on his shoulder. He took it as a good sign that Ron did not throw it off.
omg they are the ~best friends ever~
- “After you left,” he said in a low voice, grateful for the fact that Ron’s face was hidden, “she cried for a week. Probably longer, only she didn’t want me to see. There were loads of nights when we never even spoke to each other. With you gone…”
He could not finish; it was now that Ron was here again that Harry fully realized how much his absence had cost them.
“She’s like my sister,” he went on. “I love her like a sister and I reckon that she feels the same way about me. It’s always been like that. I thought you knew.”
Ok, seriously…the waterworks are at bay. I’m holding them back, but seriously, J.K. Rowling, you are getting me way close to disaster.
This sets the stage for the REUNION OF ALL TIME. Are you ready?
- She saw Ron, who stood there holding the sword and dripping onto the threadbare carpet. Harry backed into a shadowy corner, slipped off Ron’s rucksack, and attempted to blend in with the canvas.
Hermione slid out of her bunk and moved like a sleepwalker toward Ron, her eyes upon his pale face. She stopped right in front of him, her lips slightly parted, her eyes wide. Ron gave a weak hopeful smile and half raised his arms.
Hermione launched herself forward and started punching every inch of him that she could reach.
LULZ UNTIL THE END OF TIME. I mean, sure, it’s pretty immature of Hermione to not give him a chance to say anything, but really, Ron, what did you expect? You left your girlfriend and your best friend IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE AT THE WORST TIME POSSIBLY IMAGINABLE. I wouldn’t hit a soul, but even I didn’t bat an eye at this.
- “I knew you weren’t dead!” bellowed Ron, drowning her voice for the first time, and approaching as close as he could with the Shield Charm between them. “Harry’s all over the Prophet, all over the radio, they’re looking for you everywhere, all these rumors and mental stories, I knew I’d hear straight off if you were dead, you don’t know what it’s been like –”
“What it’s been like for you??”
Her voice was not so shrill only bats would be able to hear it soon, but she had reached a level of indignation that rendered her temporarily speechless, and Ron seized his opportunity.
“I wanted to come back the minute I’d Disapparated, but I walked straight into a gang of Snatchers, Hermione, and I couldn’t go anywhere!”
“A gang of what?” asked Harry, as Hermione threw herself down into a chair with her arms and legs crossed so tightly it seemed unlikely that she would unravel them for several years.
“Snatchers,” said Ron. “They’re everywhere — gangs trying to earn gold by rounding up Muggle-borns and blood traitors, there’s a reward from the Ministry for everyone captured. I was on my own and I look like I might be school age; they got really excited, thought I was a Muggle-born in hiding. I had to talk fast to get out of being dragged to the Ministry.”
WHAT THE FUCK. Snatchers? I have to worry about that now? UTTERLY UNFAIR FOR MY BRAIN.
- “One thing I would like to know, though,” she said, fixing her eyes on a spot a foot over Ron’s head. “How exactly did you find us tonight? That’s important. Once we know, we’ll be able to make sure we’re not visited by anyone else we don’t want to see.”
Ron glared at her, then pulled a small silver object from his jeans pocket.
She had to look at Ron to see what he was showing them. “The Deluminator?” she asked, so surprised she forgot to look cold and fierce.
I’m sorry, WHAT????
- “It doesn’t just turn the lights on and off,” said Ron. “I don’t know how it works or why it happened then and not any other time, because I’ve been wanting to come back ever since I left. But I was listening to the radio really early on Christmas morning and I heard … I heard you.” He was looking at Hermione.
“You heard me on the radio?” she asked incredulously.
“No, I heard you coming out of my pocket. Your voice,” he held up the Deluminator again, “came out of this.”
“And what exactly did I say?” asked Hermione, her tone somewhere between skepticism and curiosity.
“My name. ‘Ron.’ And you said … something about a wand….”
I am gobsmacked. WHAT?????
- “So I took it out,” Ron went on, looking at the Deluminator, “and it didn’t seem different or anything, but I was sure I’d heard you. So I clicked it. And the light went out in my room, but another light appeared right outside the window.”
Ron raised his empty hand and pointed in front of him, his eyes focused on something neither Harry nor Hermione could see.
“It was a ball of light, kind of pulsing, and bluish, like that light you get around a Portkey, you know?”
“Yeah,” said Harry and Hermione together automatically.
“I knew this was it,” said Ron. “I grabbed my stuff and packed it, then I put on my rucksack and went out into the garden.
Wait, what the shit is this? Was there any clue in the previous books that this happened with a Deluminator?
- “The little ball of light was hovering there, waiting for me, and when I came out it bobbed along a bit and I followed it behind the shed and then it … well, it went inside me.”
“Sorry?” said Harry, sure he had not heard correctly.
“It sort of floated toward me,” said Ron, illustrating the movement with his free index finger, “right to my chest, and then — it just went straight through. It was here,” he touched a point close to his heard, “I could feel it, it was hot. And once it was inside me, I knew what I was supposed to do. I knew it would take me where I needed to go. So I Disapparated and came out on the side of a hill. There was snow everywhere….”
Holy goddamn shit. Fuckin’ Deluminator, how does it work. No, seriously, I don’t get it. Why does it do that?
- Deciding that it was at last safe to do so, Harry removed the Shield Charm with a wave of Hermione’s wand and turned to Ron.
Oh shit, the Shield Charm around Hermione was up this entire time? Oh god, why is this so funny to me?
- Hermione put the vanquished Horcrux into the beaded bag, then climbed back into her bed and settled down without another word.
Ron passed Harry the new wand.
“About the best you could hope for, I think,” murmured Harry.
“Yeah,” said Ron. “Could’ve been worse. Remember those birds she set on me?”
“I still haven’t ruled it out,” came Hermione’s muffled voice from beneath her blankets, but Harry saw Ron smiling slightly as he pulled his maroon pajamas out of his rucksack.
I’m glad Harry now has a wand because I didn’t need yet another thing to freak out about. I’m a bit disappointed in the way Hermione is acting, if I’m going to be completely honest. (Only a bit.) I understand her anger, but she seems unwilling to cut Ron even the tiniest bit of slack for what just happened and I think that’s a bit unfair.
That being said: I am so glad these people are back together again.