Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’: Chapter 14

In the fourteenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Percy is a smarmy git and Sirius is totally not prepared for shit to get real. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is unsettling.

So I’m talking to HarmonyKat on AIM. (SHE RULES, BTW.) And we’re talking about crazy, batshit spooky radio waves and number stations and it’s creeping us out. It’s one of those things that is strange at first, but the more you get sucked into it, you start realizing the world is full of things you will never know and never understand and these are things that probably won’t end well and in the grand scheme of it all, you’re pretty worthless when it comes to whatever endgame whatever Creator there is has in mind.

Up until this point (and I must thank her for the inspiration), I could not pinpoint the single idea that was floating around my brain that described how I felt about this book.

This shit is unsettling.

It’s a sensation, for me, that builds on a complexly woven narrative brimming with suspense. Shit got real so early, the risk has been made apparent, and I can’t escape the feeling that this is simply not going to end well.

It’s well-written, I greatly appreciate it, but UGH. I DO NOT LIKE THIS FEELING AT THE BOTTOM OF MY STOMACH.

And two HUGE, telling things happen in this chapter that only solidify this sense of dread. There are some smaller things (Sturgis getting sent to Azkaban oh god, Ron not doing well at Quidditch oh god), but I largely want to focus on the characters named in the title of the chapter.

Ron gets a letter from Percy and it’s–simply put–fucking horrible.

Over the course of a giant TL;DR letter, in which I could insert this GIF:

Percy implores Ron to immediately stop hanging out with his best friend if he cares at all about his future.

You know, for someone as manipulative and self-righteous as Percy, I would expect him not to take the approach he does with Ron. Throughout his letter (which I wont quote fully because IT WOULD BE LONGER THAN ANY REVIEW I HAVE EVER WRITTEN OR SOMETHING), he attempts to guilt trip Ron into obedience by stressing how much any association with Harry will tarnish his future career.

Percy surely knows Ron is not made out to work in the Ministry, right? And that’s not a sleight at Ron, though I do agree with him that he’d probably make a fantastic Auror…eventually. But what person BESIDES Percy thinks about their life in the way he does? Is he so self-absorbed that he thinks everyone wants what he wants?

Wait, scratch that. Yes, he is that self-absorbed.

And while the letter is grossly offensive to Harry’s actual life, it’s not the worst part of it. Percy’s references to an article appearing in the next day’s Daily Prophet are what make me hurt in my tummy. 🙁 🙁 🙁

Ugh. I don’t want to know. I haven’t read the next chapter and NOW I DON’T WANNA. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.

And on to the second thing that fills me with dread: Sirius Black’s recklessness.

I don’t blame him for the way he acts. As we’ve said before, the man has been so out of touch with reality for so long, everything he does has a perfect sensible reason for it. Well, almost.

He appears in the fire again, having almost been caught by a Gryffindor student, in order to talk with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As they talk about the strange moment during the final detention with Umbridge, when Harry’s scar hurt, there’s a great piece about how evil isn’t necessarily black and white.

  • “So you don’t think it had anything to do with Umbridge touching me when I was in detention with her?” Harry asked.

    “I doubt it,” said Sirius. “I know her by reputation and I’m sure she’s no Death Eater–“

    “She’s foul enough to be one,” said Harry darkly and Ron and Hermione nodded vigorously in agreement.

    “Yes, but the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters,” said Sirius with a wry smile. “I know she’s a nasty piece of work, though–you should hear Remus talk about her.”

And it’s a great moment of maturity on Sirius’s part for him to point this out. Bravo.

They also learn the real reason why Umbridge won’t allow them to actually USE magic in the Defense of Dark Arts:

  • “That’s exactly what he thinks you’re doing,” said Sirius, “or rather, that’s exactly what he’s afraid Dumbledore’s doing–forming his own private army, with which he will be able to take on the Ministry of Magic.”

Man. I didn’t realize Fudge’s selfish delusion was this serious. Sirius. Lol.

Sirius knows nothing of this supposed article in The Daily Prophet that’s going to change everything, but he knows that Hagrid got separated from Madame Maxime on his way back from whatever mission Dumbledore sent him on. These are not things that make me feel comforted.

One more bit I liked, about Sirius trying to plan to meet up with Harry at Hogsmeade, before I continue reading:

  • “All right, all right, I’ve got the point,” said Sirius. He looked most displeased. “Just an idea, thought you might like to get together–”

    “I would, I just don’t want you chucked back in Azkaban!” said Harry.

    There was a pause in which Sirius looked out of the fire at Harry, a crease between his sunken eyes.

    “You’re less like your father than I thought,” he said finally, a definite coolness in his voice. “The risk would’ve been what made it fun for James.”

Awwwww. :/