Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 13
In the thirteenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, everything is far worse than we could have ever expected. Also: Dolores Umbridge. Dolores Umbridge. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 13: THE MUGGLE-BORN REGISTRATION COMMISSION
Everything is even more terrible than I could have possibly imagined.
- ”Good, you’ll do perfectly well.” Umbridge spoke to the wizard in black and gold. “That’s that problem solved, Minister, if Mafalda can be spared for record-keeping we shall be able to start straightaway.” She consulted her clipboard. “Ten people today and one of them the wife of a Ministry employee! Tut, tut…even here, in the heart of the Ministry!” She stepped into the lift beside Hermione, as did the two wizards who had been listening to Umbridge’s conversation with the Minister. “We’ll go straight down, Mafalda, you’ll find everything you need in the courtroom. Good morning, Albert, aren’t you getting out?”
I shouldn’t be surprised that Dolores Umbridge is relishing the opportunity to be an evil scumbag. I don’t know what I expected, but we know she hates non-pureblood wizards, so this is par for the course. I hate her, guys, so much so that it fills me with dread to know that I’m going to have to read page after page with her dumb name on it.
This opening section also serves to separate our trio, which proves to be a disaster. In all their preparations for infiltrating the Ministry, they never considered the possibility that they’d be broken up.
- Panic pulsed in the pit of his stomach. As he passed gleaming wooden door after gleaming wooden door, each bearing a small plaque with the owner’s name and occupation upon it, the might of the Ministry, its complexity, its impenetrability, seemed to force itself upon him so that the plan he had been carefully concocting with Ron and Hermione over the past four weeks seemed laughably childish. They had concentrated all their efforts on getting inside without being detected: They had not given a moment’s thought to what they would do if they were forced to separate.
It’s strange that it takes until this part in this novel for me to appreciate just how grand and how huge the Ministry of Magic is, perhaps because all the previous times in this place, our characters had a purpose for being there. But reading about Harry, stumbling, lost, aimlessly wandering down these hallways, it opens up the size of the Ministry in my mind.
Harry does find Umbridge’s office after walking in on a bunch of witches creating anti-Muggle pamphlets to spread the Ministry’s new propaganda. When one witch warns another that Umbridge might also be able to listen to their conversations, Harry finds a horrific item adorning Umbridge’s door.
- The witch glanced toward the shining mahogany door facing the space full of pamphlet-makers; Harry looked too, and raged reared in him like a snake. Where there might have been a peephole on a Muggle front door, a large, round eye with a bright blue iris had been set into the wood—an eye that was shockingly familiar to anybody who had known Alastor Moody.
Fuck you, Dolores Umbridge. I didn’t think your character could become even more evil in my eye, but you literally STOLE A MAN’S EYE AFTER HE WAS MURDERED BY DEATH EATERS.
I cannot wait until Hagrid eats her alive or something. FUCK.
What Harry finds in Umbridge’s office (not the locket) adds to the impossibility of this entire mission to fight Voldemort. He learns that Arthur Weasley is being kept under constant surveillance. He also learns the Ministry has given Harry an official code name: Undesirable No. 1. The Ministry is aiming to do its best at dehumanizing Harry in the public eye, and giving him a name that does so is one of those techniques.
Harry also sees a copy of Rita Skeeter’s tell-all book on Dumbledore and the momentary distraction almost gets him caught by the Minister himself, who arrives to leave a note for Umbridge. I actually thought that this chapter would provide a glimpse into Dumbledore’s life. But Harry returns the book to the shelf and, under the protection of the Invisibility Cloak, he slips out of the room.
Further going against any expectations I might have had, Harry runs into both Ron and Mr. Weasley in the lift. I expected here that Harry would reveal to Mr. Weasley who he really was, but he doesn’t. And it’s a smart move on Harry’s part, because I believe it would make a complicated situation even worse.
Except…well, Harry has been completely cautious this entire time, making sure to stay under the Invisibility Cloak when he needs to and taking as few risks as possible to gather up his friends to leave. However, something comes over him and he decides to get Hermione himself and the cautious attitude suddenly dissolves.
- Lost in thought, he did not immediately register the unnatural chill that was creeping over him, as if he were descending into fog. It was becoming colder and colder with every step he took: a cold that reached right down his throat and tore at his lungs. And then he felt that stealing sense of despair, of hopelessness, filling him, expanding inside him….
Dementors, he thought.
And as he reached the foot of the stairs and turned to his right he saw a dreadful scene. The dark passage outside the courtrooms was packed with tall, black-hooded figures, their faces completely hidden, their ragged breathing the only sound in the place. The petrified Muggle-borns brought in for questioning sat huddled and shivering on hard wooden benches. Most of them were hiding their faces in their hands, perhaps in an instinctive attempt to shield themselves from the dementors’ greedy mouths.
WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. This is what the Ministry has become? This is so fucked up.
When a wizard is taken out of the nearest courtroom by dementors, Harry uses the opportunity to slip inside. Umbridge is running the proceedings and, thankfully, it’s the same courtroom Hermione is located in as well. Mary Cattermole (the wife of the man Ron is pretending to be) is facing her pureblood trial at that exact moment, but it’s hardly something you can call a trial. The way Umbridge and Yaxley speak to her show that the Ministry has no plans to use these trial as an extension of the legal power of the government. They are simply acts of humiliation and degradation. And really, now, there’s no perfect person to act out these things besides Umbridge. We’ve seen, time and time again, that she seems to get off on degrading people.
- He was worried about making Hermione jump. He thought of casting the Muffliato charm upon Umbridge and Yaxley, but even murmuring the word might cause Hermione alarm. Then Umbridge raised her voice to address Mrs. Cattermole, and Harry seized his chance.
“I’m behind you,” he whispered into Hermione’s ear.
HEY HARRY, THAT IS ACTUALLY REALLY, REALLY CREEPY. Shit, man, surely you could think of a better way?
We witness more of Cattermole’s trial and the true, terrifying absurdity of these proceedings:
- ”Could you please tell us from which witch or wizard you took that wand?”
“T-took?” sobbed Mrs. Cattermole. “I didn’t t-take it from anybody. I b-bought it when I was eleven years old. It—it—it—chose me.”
She cried harder than ever.
It’s almost hard to believe that someone could actually say this to a Muggle-born wizard. I’m pressed to find a better word than “absurd” to describe this. It makes no sense, but it’s being touted as pure fact.
- Umbridge laughed a soft girlish laugh that made Harry want to attack her. She leaned forward over the barrier, the better to observe her victim, and something gold swung forward too, and dangled over the void: the locket.
SHE IS WEARING IT???? She has to know what it is, right? OH GOD.
- ”That’s—that’s pretty, Dolores,” she said, pointing at the pendant gleaming in the ruffled folds of Umbridge’s blouse.
“What?” snapped Umbridge, glancing down. “Oh yes—an old family heirloom,” she said, patting the locket lying on her large bosom. “The S stands for Selwyn….I am related to the Selwyns….Indeed, there are few pure-blood families to whom I am not related.”
Oh, you are seriously complete evil, Umbridge. I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you forever.
- It was Umbridge’s lie that brought the blood surging into Harry’s brain and obliterated his sense of caution—that the locket she had taken as a bribe from a petty criminal was being used to bolster her own pure-blood credentials. He raised his wand, not even troubling to keep it concealed beneath the Invisibility Cloak, and said, “Stupefy!”
There was a flash of red light; Umbridge crumpled and her foreheard hit the edge of the balustrade: Mrs. Cattermole’s papers slid off her lap onto the floor and, down below, the prowling silver cat vanished. Ice-cold air hit them like an oncoming wind: Yaxley, confused, looked around for the source of the trouble and saw Harry’s disembodied hand and wand pointing at him. He tried to draw his own wand, but too late: “Stupefy!”
Yaxley slid to the ground to lie curled on the floor.
OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD. Really???? REALLY? Oh my god, this is the last thing I thought would ever happen. IT IS ALSO IMMENSELY SATISFYING, OK??? Oh my god.
The escape scene that takes place here is so exciting, it was hard for me to read every word. I wanted to just scan the pages and get through it as fast as possible because the suspense is unbearable. Using Expecto Patronum to escape the dementors, Hermione also manages to create a duplicate of the locket for Umbridge while they steal the Horcrux for themselves. Harry, ever the caring hero, also frees all of the Muggle-borns waiting for their trial. They meet up with Ron, as Mr. Cattermole, and head to the Atrium, where Harry uses his disguise as Albert Runecorn to guarantee that they are able to leave before the Ministry is sealed off. But despite that everything seems to be going smoothly, disaster strikes:
- Mrs. Cattermole looked over her shoulder. The real Reg Cattermole, no longer vomiting but pale and wan, had just come running out of a lift.
She looked from her husband to Ron, who swore loudly.
YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. Oh god, everything is awful and terrible and—
- Yaxley had burst out of another life and was running toward the group beside the fireplaces, into which all of the Muggle-borns but Mrs. Cattermole had now vanished. As the balding wizard lifted his wand, Harry raised an enormous fist and punched him, sending him flying through the air.
;SAKLDFJL;AKDSJFA;LFJA;SDLFJ WHAT IS FUCKING HAPPENING GUYS
- Confused, Yaxley looked from Harry to the punched wizard, while the real Reg Cattermole screamed, “My wife! Who was that with my wife? What’s going on?”
Harry saw Yaxley’s head turn, saw an inkling of truth dawn in that brutish face.
ABSOLUTE DISASTER. OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL.
- Darkness engulfed them, along with the sensation of compressing bands, but something was wrong….Hermione’s hand seemed to be sliding out of his grip…
He wondered whether he was going to suffocate; he could not breathe or see and the only solid things in the world were Ron’s arm and Hermione’s fingers, which were slowly slipping away….
And then he saw the door of number twelve, Grimmauld Place, with its serpent door knocker, but before he could draw breath, there was a scream and a flash of purple light; Hermione’s hand was suddenly vicelike upon his and everything went dark again.
PLEASE, I CANNOT HANDLE THIS ANYMORE. Oh god, they’ve been caught, haven’t they? FUCK.