Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’: Chapter 29
In the twenty-ninth chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry’s takes a huge risk by breaking into Umbridge’s office to speak with Sirius and Lupin about what he’d learned about his father. And then, in another classic bit of upstaging, the Weasley twins sort of make everything better. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 29: CAREER ADVICE
SERIOUSLY, EVERY CHAPTER IS REALER THAN THE ONE BEFORE IT. This shit is in overdrive at this point. And I am in love with the ride.
So much happens in the pages of this chapter, so let’s just do an old-fashioned, chronological review, shall we?
Harry immediately slips into his all-too-familiar angst that we’ve come to cherish throughout Order of the Phoenix, but unlike most of this book, his paranoia is grounded completely in reality. He just learned that his father was precisely the type of man Snape told Harry he was.
- He felt as though the memory of it was eating him from inside. He had been so sure that his parents had been wonderful people that the never had the slightest difficulty in disbelieving Snape’s aspersions on his father’s character. Hadn’t people like Hagrid and Sirius told Harry how wonderful his father had been? (Yeah, well, look what Sirius was like himself, said a nagging voice inside Harry’s head….He was as bad, wasn’t he?) Yes, he had once overheard Professor Mcgonagall saying that his father and Sirius had been troublemakers, but she had described them as forerunners of the Weasley twins, and Harry could not imagine Fred and George dangling someone upside down for the fun of it…not unless they really loathed them…Perhaps Malfoy, or somebody who really deserved it….
Except that…does anyone really deserve it? Harry’s not so sure either, but this is a disorienting and jarring situation for him. To have his view of his father destroyed like this…I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic this is for him.
In the midst of this and the chaos of the past few days, Hogwarts still holds a “Career Day” of sorts and all fifth years are forced to speak with their Head of House about their future after Hogwarts. It’s times like these that remind me that there is an entire school functioning while all this shit goes down. OOPS.
Simultaneous to this, though, is Fred and George coming up with some sort of plan to distract the school while Harry attempts to speak with Sirius…in Umbridge’s office. It’s the right amount of stupidity and rebellion that it almost seems too perfect of an idea. Doing something so risky that Harry could very well be justifiably expelled also puts Harry in conflict with his own conscience. He just experienced firsthand the type of risky behavior his father engaged in; does he want to follow in his own footsteps or be his own person?
CHARACTER DILEMMA. Oh god this is so stressful.
Harry’s career appointment is simultaneously hilarious and frustrating. First of all, the miserable Dolores Umbridge decides to sit in on it, which is just really lovely and will surely lead to nothing but good things. amirite guys.
What happens is, of course, the complete opposite of that. Harry says he’d like to be an Auror and McGongall begins running through the serious requirements being an Auror will need. Umbridge does her irritating cough as an attempt to interrupt McGonagall, as she always does, but Minerva McGonagall will simply not take your shit anymore. So she continues to give Harry some rather brilliant advice about how he absolutely needs to start taking his schooling seriously, how he needs to immediately improve his Potions grades, and how he will need to—
- Professor Umbridge gave her most pronounced cough yet.
“May I offer you a cough drop, Dolores?” Professor McGonagall asked curtly, without looking at Professor Umbridge.
“Oh no, thank you very much,” said Umbridge, with that simpering laugh Harry hated so much. “I just wondered whether I could make the teensiest interruption, Minerva?”
JESUS NO YOU MAY NOT SHUT UP FOREVER, PLEASE.
But she doesn’t. First, she wonders aloud if Harry has the “temperament” for an Auror, and then suggests his Defense Against the Dark Arts marks aren’t good enough either.
And shit get so real, I actually yelped when I read this:
- ”I should have made my meaning plainer,” said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. “He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher.”
IN YOUR FACE, UMBRIDGE. Oh my god, is Professor McGonagall starting a war with her too?
- ”I think you’ll also find,” said Umbridge, her voice very cold now, “that the Ministry looks into the records of those applying to be Aurors. Their criminal records.”
“—unless you’re prepared to take even more exams after Hogwarts, you should really look at another—“
“—which means that this boy has a much chance of becoming an Auror as Dumbledore has of ever returning to this school.”
“A very good chance, then,” said Professor McGonagall.
“Potter has a criminal record,” said Umbridge loudly.
“Potter has been cleared of all charges,” said Professor McGonagall, even more loudly.
Professor Umbridge stood up. She was so short that this did not make a great deal of difference, but her fussy, simpering demeanor had given place to a hard fury that made her broad, flabby face look oddly sinister.
“Potter has no chance whatsoever of becoming an Auror!”
JESUS CHRIST!!!! Oh my god THIS IS NUTS.
- Potter,” she said in ringing tones, “I will assist you to become an Auror if it is the last thing I do! If I have to coach you nightly I will make sure you achieve the required results!”
“The Minister of Magic will never employ Harry Potter!” said Umbridge, her voice rising furiously.
“There may well be a new Minister of Magic by the time Potter is ready to join!” shouted Professor McGonagall.
THIS IS BONKERS. It’s like these characters have been waiting the entire book to be completely honest to each other and they are using Harry Potter’s Career Advice session to do it. Oh my god, this shit is real.
As the two of them fight, Harry is dismissed from his session by McGonagall. After a particularly awful Defense Against the Dark Arts class, Harry finally gets an opportunity to sneak away to contact Sirius. As planned, Fred and George make some sort of ruckus and, sure enough, Umbridge runs out of her office to tend to it. Despite that Hermione (correctly) pestered Harry about what a terrible, no-good idea this is throughout the entire chapter, Harry’s curiosity and desire to know more about his father gets the best of him. Using Floo powder, he manages to get ahold of Lupin, who gets Sirius for Harry.
The conversation the three of them have is fascinating, to say the least and it’s a wonderful moment of character building for all of them, even if what they say isn’t exactly very truthful.
And I’ll say it now: I think there’s more to this story. There has to be a reason beyond the obvious for why Snape turned out the way he did and why Sirius and James were the way they were beyond teenage idiocy.
I’m glad, though, that Sirius and Lupin both don’t let themselves off that easy. I love this part:
- ”We were all idiots! Well—not Moony so much,” he [Sirius] said fairly, looking at Lupin, but Lupin shook his head.
“Did I ever tell you to lay off Snape?” he said. “Did I ever have the guts to tell you I thought you were out of order?”
I don’t excuse Lupin and it doesn’t make Snape’s story any less sad or understandable. In a way, Lupin was also complicit in the bullying because he had the power to stop it. And he did nothing.
But we don’t get much time in this moment, as Harry realizes that someone is coming, just after Sirius and Lupin flip out at the news that Snape isn’t teaching Occlumency anymore. OH GOD WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT oh my god I WILL PROBABLY FIND OUT SOON
Harry leaves Umbridge’s office safely, after hiding from Filch, who was CELEBRATING THE FACT THAT HE COULD NOW WHIP CHILDREN UNDER UMBRIDGE’S RULE. And Harry finds out that Fred and George, surprisingly, were caught, explaining Filch’s excitement at his new powers.
What happens next is out of this world.
- ”Very good, Argus,” she said. “You two,” she went on, gazing down at Fred and George, “are about to learn what happens to wrongdoers in my school.”
“You know what?” said Fred. “I don’t think we are.”
He turned to his twin.
“George,” said Fred, “I think we’ve outgrown full-time education.”
“Yeah, I’ve been feeling that way myself,” said George lightly.
“Time to test our talents in the real world, d’you reckon?” asked Fred.
“Definitely,” said George.
And before Umbridge could say a word, they raised their wants and said together, “Accio Brooms!”
Harry heard a loud crash somewhere in the distance. Looked to his left he ducked just in time—Fred and George’s broomsticks, one still trailing the heavy chain and iron peg with which Umbridge had fastened them to the wall, were hurtling along the corridor toward their owners. They turned left, streaked down the stairs, and stopped sharply in front of the twins, the chain clattering loudly on the flagged stone floor.
WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK
- “We won’t be seeing you,” Fred told Professor Umbridge, swinging his leg over his broomstick.
“Yeah, don’t bother to keep in touch,” said George, mounting his own.
YOU ARE PRETTY MUCH MY TWO FAVORITE PEOPLE RIGHT NOW.
- “STOP THEM!” shrieked Umbridge, but it was too late. As the Inquisitorial Squad closed in, Fred and George kicked off from the floor, shooting fifteen feet into the air, the iron peg swinging dangerously below. Fred looked across the hall at the poltergeist bobbing on his level above the crowd.
“Give her hell from us, Peeves.”
And Peeves, whom Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultuous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset.
This is the best thing ever.