Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’: Chapter 31
In the thirty-first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the entire school of Hogwarts battles Voldemort and the Death Eaters, suffering immeasurable tragedy along the way. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 31: THE BATTLE OF HOGWARTS
- The enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall was dark and scattered with stars, and below it the four long House tables were lined with disheveled students, some in traveling cloaks, others in dressing gowns. Here and there shone the pearly white figures of the school ghosts. Every eye, living and dead was fixed upon Professor McGonagall, who was speaking from the raised platform at the top of the Hall. Behind her stood the remaining teaches, including the palomino centaur, Firenze, and the members of the Order of the Phoenix who had arrived to fight.
Jesus fucking christ, guys. It’s really happening. There’s no backing down now. oh my god what
- Many of the students looked petrified. However, as Harry skirted the walls, scanning the Gryffindor table for Ron and Hermione, Ernie Macmillan stood up at the Hufflepuff table and shouted; “And what if we want to stay and fight?”
There was a smattering of applause.
“If you are of age, you may stay.” said Professor McGonagall.
“What about our things?” called a girl at the Ravenclaw table. “Our trunks, our owls?
“We have no time to collect possessions.” said Professor McGonagall. “The important thing is to get you out of here safely.”
“Where’s Professor Snape?” shouted a girl from the Slytherin table.
“He has, to use the common phrase, done a bunk.” replied Professor McGonagall and a great cheer erupted from the Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws.
YES. Now use this renewed energy to crush all the Death Eaters.
- But her final words were drowned as a different voice echoed throughout the Hall. It was high, cold, and clear. There was no telling from where it came. It seemed to issue from the walls themselves. Like the monster it had once commanded, it might have lain dormant there for centuries.
“I know that you are preparing to fight.” There were screams amongst the students, some of whom clutched each other, looking around in terror for the source of the sound. “Your efforts are futile. You cannot fight me. I do not want to kill you. I have great respect for the teachers of Hogwarts. I do not want to spill magical blood.”
There was silence in the Hall now, the kind of silence that presses against the eardrums, that seems too huge to be contained by walls.
“Give me Harry Potter,” said Voldemort’s voice, “and they shall not be harmed. Give me Harry Potter and I shall leave the school untouched. Give me Harry Potter and you will be rewarded.
“You have until midnight.”
WHAT. WHAT. Oh fuck. Well, obviously, they’re not going to do that, are they? (Also, a quick note: Hasn’t Voldemort demonstrated quite a few times already that he will spill magical blood without a second thought?)
- The silence swallowed them all again. Every head turned, every eye in the place seemed to have found Harry, to hold him forever in the glare of thousands of invisible beams. Then a figure rose from the Slytherin table and he recognized Pansy Parkinson as she raised a shaking arm and screamed, “But he’s there! Potter’s there. Someone grab him!”
Before Harry could speak, there was a massive movement. The Gryffindors in front of him had risen and stood facing, not Harry, but the Slytherins. Then the Hufflepuffs stood, and almost at the same moment, the Ravenclaws, all of them with their backs to Harry, all of them looking toward Pansy instead, and Harry, awestruck and overwhelmed, saw wands emerging everywhere, pulled from beneath cloaks and from under sleeves.
“Thank you, Miss Parkinson.” said Professor McGonagall in a clipped voice. “You will leave the Hall first with Mr. Filch. If the rest of your House could follow.”
HAHAHAHAA. Fuck you, Pansy. I hope a statue accidentally falls on you and squashes you to death.
- Slowly the four tables emptied. The Slytherin table was completely deserted, but a number of older Ravenclaws remained seated while their fellows filed out; even more Hufflepuffs stayed behind, and half of Gryffindor remained in their seats, necessitating Professor McGonagall’s descent from the teachers’ platform to chivvy the underage on their way.
“Absolutely not, Creevey, go! And you, Peakes!”
Harry hurried over to the Weasleys, all sitting together at the Gryffindor table.
“Where are Ron and Hermione?”
“Haven’t you found -?” began Mr. Weasley, looking worried.
Oh shit, I forgot about Colin Creevey. Is that bad? Probably. I guess it’s more important to think about where are Ron and Hermione. WHERE ARE THEY
- “We’ve only got half an half an hour until midnight, so we need to act fast. A battle plan has been agreed between the teachers of Hogwarts and the Order of the Phoenix. Professors Flitwick, Sprout and McGonagall are going to take groups of fighters up to the three highest towers – Ravenclaw, Astronomy, and Gryffindor – where they’ll have good overview, excellent positions from which to work spells. Meanwhile Remus” – he indicated Lupin – “Arthur” – he pointed toward Mr. Weasley, sitting at the Gryffindor table – “and I will take groups into the grounds. We’ll need somebody to organize defense of the entrances or the passageways into the school -”
“Sounds like a job for us.” called Fred, indicating himself and George, and Kingsley nodded his approval.
“All right, leaders up here and we’ll divide up the troops!”
Isn’t it kind of crazy that these students, many of them untrained in combat (THANKS A LOT, DOLORES UMBRIDGE), are about to fight in a war? As exciting as the prospect is, I’m worried about them going up against skilled Death Eaters. Oh pleeeaaasseeee let everyone be ok.
- “Potter,” said Professor McGonagall, hurrying up to him, as students flooded the platform, jostling for position, receiving instructions, “Aren’t you supposed to be looking for something?”
“What? Oh,” said Harry, “oh yeah!”
He had almost forgotten about the Horcrux, almost forgotten that the battle was being fought so that he could search for it: The inexplicable absence of Ron and Hermione had momentarily driven every other thought from his mind.
Oh shit, oops. I forgot he was looking for the Horcrux too. MY BAD.
- He sensed eyes following him as he ran out of the Great Hall again, into the entrance hall still crowded with evacuating students. He allowed himself to be swept up the marble staircase with them, but at the top he hurried off along a deserted corridor. Fear and panic were clouding his thought processes. He tried to calm himself, to concentrate on finding the Horcrux, but his thoughts buzzed as frantically and fruitlessly as wasps trapped beneath a glass. Without Ron and Hermione to help him he could not seem to marshal his ideas. He slowed down, coming to a halt halfway along a passage, where he sat down on the plinth of a departed statue and pulled the Marauder’s Map out of the pouch around his neck. He could not see Ron’s of Hermione’s names anywhere on it, though the density of the crowd of dots now making its way to the Room of Requirement might, he thought, be concealing them. He put the map away, pressed his hands over his face, and closed his eyes, trying to concentrate.
We all know how brave and courageous Harry is, but even Harry now realizes that Hermione and Ron sort of complete him. And it’s a scary thought that he’s now off to find the Horcrux without his friends and without knowing where they are. I don’t understand why they’re not on the Marauder’s Map; are they not even in the castle anymore? Did they head back to Aberforth’s?
- There it was, a solid fact, the place to start. Voldemort had stationed Alecto Carrow in the Ravenclaw common room, and there could be only one explanation; Voldemort feared that Harry already knew his Horcrux was connected to that House.
But the only object anyone seemed to associate with Ravenclaw was the lost diadem… and how could the Horcrux be the diadem? How was it possible that Voldemort, the Slytherin, had found the diadem that had eluded generations of Ravenclaws? Who could have told him where to look, when nobody had seen the diadem in living memory?
Look, I don’t know, Harry, please stop asking me.
- Beneath his fingers, Harry’s eyes flew open again. He lept up from the plinth and tore back the way he had come, now in pursuit of his one last hope. The sound of hundreds of people marching toward the Room of Requirement grew louder and louder as he returned to the marble stairs. Prefects were shouting instructions, trying to keep track of the students in their own houses, there was much pushing and shouting; Harry saw Zacharias Smith bowling over first years to get to the front of the queue, here and there younger students were in tears, while older ones called desperately for friends or siblings.
Oh, surprise. Zacharias Smith is being a coward and a bigot. No, thank you. I hope him and Pansy are both eaten by Grawp. Or something.
- Harry caught sight of a pearly white figure drifting across the entrance hall below and yelled as loudly as he could over the clamor.
“Nick! NICK! I need to talk to you!”
He forced his way back through the tide of students, finally reaching the bottom of the stairs, where Nearly Headless Nick, ghost of Gryffindor Tower, stood waiting for him.
“Harry! My dear boy!”
Nick made to grasp Harry’s hands with both of his own; Harry felt as though they had been thrust into icy water.
“Nick, you’ve got to help me. Who’s the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower?” Nearly Headless Nick looked surprised and a little offended. “The Gray Lady, of course; but if it is ghostly services you require -?” “It’s got to be her – d’you know where she is?”
Nick’s head wobbled a little on his ruff as he turned hither and thither, peering over the heads of the swarming students.
“That’s her over there, Harry, the young woman with the long hair.”
Harry looked in the direction of Nick’s transparent, pointing finger and saw a tall ghost who caught sight of Harry looking at her, raised her eyebrows, and drifted away through a solid wall.
OH. SHIT. No one living remembers where the diadem might have gone, but the dead might. Oh my god, Harry is turning into Hermione and shit.
- “You are hardly the first student to covet the diadem.” she said disdainfully. “Generations of students have badgered me -”
“This isn’t about trying to get better marks!” Harry shouted at her, “It’s about Voldemort – defeating Voldemort – or aren’t you interested in that?”
She could not blush, but her transparent cheeks became more opaque, and her voice was heated as she replied, “Of course I – how dare you suggest -?”
“Well, help me then!” Her composure was slipping. “It – it is not a question of -” she stammered. My mother’s diadem -“
She looked angry with herself.
“When I lived,” she said stiffly, “I was Helena Ravenclaw.”
Seriously? REALLY? Was there any indication that this ghost was even around in past books???
- “I stole the diadem from my mother.”
“You – you did what?”
“I stole the diadem.” repeated Helena Ravenclaw in a whisper. “I sought to make myself cleverer, more important than my mother. I ran away with it.”
He did not know how he had managed to gain her confidence and did not ask, he simply listened, hard, as she went on. “My mother, they say, never admitted that the diadem was gone, but pretended that she had it still. She concealed her loss, my dreadful betrayal, even from the other founders of Hogwarts.
“Then my mother fell ill – fatally ill. In spite of my perfidy, she was desperate to see me one more time. She sent a man who had long loved me, though I spurned his advances, to find me. She knew that he would not rest until he had done so.”
Harry waited. She drew a deep breath and threw back her head.
“He tracked me to the forest where I was hiding. When I refused to return with him, he became violent. The baron was always a hot-tempered man. Furious at my refusal, jealous of my freedom, he stabbed me.”
The baron??? As in….wait, are you serious???
- “The Bloody Baron, yes,” said the Gray Lady, and she lifted aside the cloak she wore to reveal a single dark wound in her white chest. When he saw what he had done, he was overcome with remorse. He took the weapon that had claimed my life, and used it to kill himself. All these centuries later, he wears his chains as an act of penitence … as he should.” she added bitterly.
“And – and the diadem?”
“It remained where I had hidden it when I heard the Baron blundering through the forest toward me. Concealed inside a hollow tree.”
“A hollow tree?” repeated Harry. “What tree? Where was this?”
“A forest in Albania. A lonely place I thought was far beyond my mother’s reach.”
Oh fuck. No. It can’t be. This can’t be it.
- “Albania,” repeated Harry. Sense was emerging miraculously from confusion, and now he understood why she was telling him what she had denied Dumbledore and Flitwick. “You’ve already told someone this story, haven’t you? Another student?”
She closed her eyes and nodded.
“I had… no idea… He was flattering. He seemed to… understand… to sympathize…”
Yes, Harry thought. Tom Riddle would certainly have understood Helena Ravenclaw’s desire to possess fabulous objects to which she had little right.
GODDAMN IT!!! There’s simply no time left. WHERE THE FUCK IS THE DIADEM.
- But the diadem, once it became his precious Horcrux, had not been left in that lowly tree. . . . No, the diadem had been returned secretly to its true home, and Voldemort must have put it there –
“—the night he asked for a job!” said Harry, finishing his thought. “I beg your pardon?”“He hid the diadem in the castle, the night he asked Dumbledore to let him teach!” said Harry. Saying it out loud enabled him to make sense of it all. “He must’ve hidden the diadem on his way up to, or down from, Dumbledore’s office! But it was well worth trying to get the job – then he might’ve got the chance to nick Gryffindor’s sword as well – thank you, thanks!”
omg omg omg SO EXCITE RIGHT NOW oh my god it’s all coming together
- Lost in desperate speculation, Harry turned a corner, but he had taken only a few steps down the new corridor when the window to his left broke open with a deafening, shattering crash. As he leapt aside, a gigantic body flew in through the window and hit the opposite wall. Something large and furry detached itself, whimpering, from the new arrival and flung itself at Harry.
“Hagrid!” Harry bellowed, fighting off Fang the boarhound’s attentions as the enormous bearded figure clambered to his feet “What the –?”
“Harry, yer here! Yer here!”
Hagrid stooped down, bestowed upon Harry a cursory and rib-cracking hug, then ran back to the shattered window.
“Good boy, Grawpy!” he bellowed through the hole in the window. “I’ll see yer in a moment, there’s a good lad!”
Hahaha holy shit I love you forever and for all time, Hagrid. Did he literally just get Grawp to throw him into Hogwarts? Oh my god, YES.
- Beyond Hagrid, out in the dark night, Harry saw bursts of light in the distance and heard a weird, keening scream. He looked down at his watch: It was midnight. The battle had begun.
FUCK. FUCK. Oh god, please don’t let this be a disaster.
- The first casualties of the battle were already strewn across the passage ahead: The two stone gargoyles that usually guarded the entrance to the staffroom had beensmashed apart by a jinx that had sailed through another broken window. Their remains stirred feebly on the floor, and as Harry leapt over one of their disembodied heads, it moaned faintly. “Oh, don’t mind me . . . I’ll just be here and crumble. . . .”
I know I’m supposed to be freaked out by how sudden the damage is, but I laughed really hard at this. I guess I can find the humor in most everything, I suppose.
- Its ugly stone face made Harry think suddenly of the marble bust of Rowena Ravenclaw at Xenophilius’s house, wearing that mad headdress – and then of the statue in Ravenclaw Tower, with the stone diadem upon her white curls. . . .
And as he reached the end of the passage, the memory of a third stone effigy came back to him: that of an ugly old warlock, onto whose head Harry himself had placed a wig and a battered old hat. The shock shot through Harry with the heat of firewhisky, and he nearly stumbled.
He knew, at last, where the Horcrux sat waiting for him. . . .
Yeah, well I don’t. Are you going to share this with us, Harry? What are you talking about?
- Tom Riddle, who confided in no one and operated alone, might have been arrogant enough to assume that he, and only he, had penetrated the deepest mysteries of Hogwarts Castle. Of course, Dumbledore and Flitwick, those model pupils, had never set foot in that particular place, but he, Harry, had strayed off the beaten track in his time at school – here at least was a secret area he and Voldemort knew, that Dumbledore had never discovered –
WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT
- He was roused by Professor Sprout, who was thundering past followed by Neville and half a dozen others, all of them wearing earmuffs and carrying what appeared to be large potted plants.
“Mandrakes!” Neville bellowed at Harry over his shoulder as he ran. “Going to lob them over the walls – they won’t like this!”
Hey Neville, never change. I also think it’s pretty funny that the Death Eaters will probably be using loads of Unforgivable Curses while Neville uses mandrakes. Bless his heart.
- Harry knew now where to go. He sped off, with Hagrid and Fang galloping behind him. They passed portrait after portrait, and the painted figures raced alongside them, wizards and witches in ruffs and breeches, in armor and cloaks, cramming themselves into each others’ canvases, screaming news from other parts of the castle. As they reached the end of this corridor, the whole castle shook, and Harry knew, as a gigantic vase blew off its plinth with explosive force, that it was in the grip of enchantments more sinister than those of the teachers and the Order.
Oh god, please don’t let this get worse. I don’t have a good feeling about this.
- He forged on through the trembling passages, his wand at the ready, and for the length of one corridor the little painted knight, Sir Cadogan, rushed from painting to painting beside him, clanking along in his armor, screaming encouragement, his fat little pony cantering behind him.
“Braggarts and rogues, dogs and scoundrels, drive them out, Harry Potter, see them off!”
Oh shit, I’d forgotten about Sir Cadogan as well! Is Rowling visiting all these characters one last time before the book ends? Must not think of this to prevent sad attack.
- Harry hurtled around a corner and found Fred and a small knot of students, including Lee Jordan and Hannah Abbott, standing beside another empty plinth, whose statue had concealed a secret passageway. Their wands were drawn and they were listening at the concealed hole.
What??? Another one? Hmmm…is this going to come into play again before the end of the book?
- And then he skidded around a final corner and with a yell of mingled relief and fury he saw them: Ron and Hermione; both with their arms full of large, curved, dirty yellow objects, Ron with a broomstick under his arms.
“Where the hell have you been?” Harry shouted.
“Chamber of Secrets,” said Ron.
“Chamber – what?” said Harry, coming to an unsteady halt before them.
“It was Ron, all Ron’s idea!” said Hermione breathlessly. “Wasn’t it absolutely brilliant? There we were, after we left, and I said to Ron, even if we find the other one, how are we going to get rid of it? We still hadn’t got rid of the cup! And then he thought of it! The basilisk!”
“What the – ?”
“Something to get rid of Horcruxes,” said Ron simply. Harry’s eyes dropped to the objects clutched in Ron and Hermione’s arms: great curved fangs; torn, he now realized, from the skull of a dead basilisk.
RON, YOU ARE THE VERY BEST EVER AND I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. The bathroom = entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. DUH.
- “But how did you get in there?” he asked, staring from the fangs to Ron. “You need to speak Parseltongue!”
“He did!” whispered Hermione. “Show him, Ron!”
Ron made a horrible strangled hissing noise. “It’s what you did to open the locket,” he told Harry apologetically. “I had to have a few goes to get it right, but,” he shrugged modestly, “we got there in the end.”
“He was amazing!” said Hermione. “Amazing!”
“So . . .” Harry was struggling to keep up. “So . . .”
“So we’re another Horcrux down,” said Ron, and from under his jacket he pulled the mangled remains of Hufflepuff’s cup. “Hermione stabbed it. Thought she should. She hasn’t had the pleasure yet.”
“Genius!” yelled Harry.
“It was nothing,” said Ron, though he looked delighted with himself. “So what’s new with you?”
Oh, I don’t know, Ron. Maybe ALL OF HOGWARTS IS UNDER SEIGE.
- “I know what the diadem looks like, and I know where it is,” said Harry, talking fast. “He hid it exactly where I had my old Potions book, where everyone’s been hidingstuff for centuries. He thought he was the only one to find it. Come on.”
OH SHIT. You know, when Harry went into the Room of Requirement and left the Potions book there, I thought that plot line would be resolved by the end of Half-Blood Prince. Nope. Not at all.
Jesus, what else is Rowling going to blow my mind with from previous books?
- He knew that the room would not be able to transform while there were still users inside it.
“I was the last to come through,” said Mrs. Longbottom. “I sealed it, I think it unwise to leave it open now Aberforth has left his pub. Have you seen my grandson?”
“He’s fighting,” said Harry.
“Naturally,” said the old lady proudly. “Excuse me, I must go and assist him.” With surprising speed she trotted off toward the stone steps.
Harry looked at Tonks. “I thought you were supposed to be with Teddy at your mother’s?”
“I couldn’t stand not knowing –“ Tonks looked anguished. “She’ll look after him – have you seen Remus?”
“He was planning to lead a group of fighters into the grounds –“ Without another word, Tonks sped off.
“Ginny,” said Harry, “I’m sorry, but we need you to leave too. Just for a bit. Then you can come back in.” Ginny looked simply delighted to leave her sanctuary. “And then you can come back in!” he shouted after her as she ran up the steps after Tonks. “You’ve got to come back in!”
Well…that was easier than I expected. Also: EVEN NEVILLE’S GRANDMOTHER IS A BAMF!
- “No,” said Ron seriously, “I mean we should tell them to get out. We don’t want anymore Dobbies, do we? We can’t order them to die for us –“
There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms.
Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.
“Is this the moment?” Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. “Oi! There’s a war going on here!”
Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other.
“I know, mate,” said Ron, who looked as though he had recently been hit on the back of the head with a Bludger, “so it’s now or never, isn’t it?”
Excuse me while my heart explodes. Holy god, shit is so real right now. Also, please don’t let this be foreshadowing for the death of Ron or Hermione. 🙁
It’s actually hard to recap of what goes on in this chapter, though, because everything happens with such a rapid fire pace. The Death Eaters are beginning to get closer to the castle as ever, and we learn that they’ve also got a set of giants on their side as well. This isn’t merely a handful of Death Eaters showing up; it’s going to be an all-out war. Tonks, worried about the state of Lupin, runs off to find him. I hate how fragmented all this action is because I obviously don’t know the entirety of the action and I can’t know what’s going on. And I’m worried about Harry stumbling on to something terrible.
- I need the place where everything is hidden. Harry begged of it inside his head, and the door materialized on their third run past.
The furor of the battle died the moment they crossed the threshold and closed the door behind them: All was silent. They were in a place the size of a cathedral with the appearance of a city, its towering walls built of objects hidden by thousands of long-gone students.
“And he never realized anyone could get in?” said Ron, his voice echoing in the silence.
“He thought he was the only one,” said Harry. “Too bad for him I’ve had to hide stuff in my time . . . this way,” he added. “I think it’s down here. . . .”
I beginning to love that one of the motifs Rowling uses is how arrogance and bigotry leads people to be blind towards things that make that person weak. All of Voldemort’s failures and missteps are based on his willing blindness.
- Deeper and deeper into the labyrinth he went, looking for objects he recognized from his one previous trip into the room. His breath was loud in his ears, and then his very soul seemed to shiver. There it was, right ahead, the blistered old cupboard in which he had hidden his old Potions book, and on top of it, the pockmarked stone warlock wearing a dusty old wig and what looked like an ancient discolored tiara.He had already stretched out his hand, though he remained few feet away, when a voice behind him said, “Hold it, Potter.”
He skidded to a halt and turned around. Crabbe and Goyle were standing behind him, shoulder to shoulder, wands pointing right at Harry. Through the small space between their jeering faces he saw Draco Malfoy.
Oh, you have to be fucking kidding me. Malfoy??? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
- “That’s my wand you’re holding, Potter,” said Malfoy, pointing his own through the gap between Crabbe and Goyle.
Oh god, Malfoy. Seriously? Just drop it. WHO CARES AT THIS POINT.
- “So how come you three aren’t with Voldemort?” asked Harry.
“We’re gonna be rewarded,” said Crabbe. His voice was surprisingly soft for such an enormous person: Harry had hardly ever heard him speak before. Crabbe was speaking like a small child promised a large bag of sweets. “We ‘ung back, Potter. We decided not to go. Decided to bring you to ‘im.”
That is legitimately creepy to me. Does Crabbe even understand what he’s getting into?
- “Good plan,” said Harry in mock admiration. He could not believe that he was this close, and was going to be thwarted by Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle. He began edging slowly backward toward the place where the Horcrux sat lopsided upon the bust. If he could just get his hands on it before the fight broke out . . .
“So how did you get in here?” he asked, trying to distract them.
“I virtually lived in the Room of Hidden Things all last year,” said Malfoy, his voice brittle. “I know how to get in.”
Oh. Well…I guess sometimes Harry is also blind to the obvious as well. Oops. (Interesting detail: Draco calls the room something else. Is there a “master” name for it?)
- “We was hiding in the corridor outside,” grunted Goyle. “We can do Diss-lusion Charms now! And then,” his face split into a gormless grin, “you turned up right in front of us and said you was looking for a die-dum! What’s a die-dum?”
“Harry?” Ron’s voice echoed suddenly from the other side of the wall to Harry’s right. “Are you talking to someone?”
With a whiplike movement, Crabbe pointed his wand at the fifty foot mountain of old furniture, of broken trunks, of old books and robes and unidentifiable junk, and shouted, “Descendo!”
The wall began to totter, then the top third crumbled into the aisle next door where Ron stood.
CRABBE WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Like Harry, I can’t believe there’s a possibility that these three oafs are going to ruin Harry’s mission to get the lost diadem.
- “No!” shouted Malfoy, staying Crabbe’s arm as the latter made to repeat his spell. “If you wreck the room you might bury this diadem thing!”
“What’s that matter?” said Crabbe, tugging himself free. “It’s Potter the Dark Lord wants, who cares about a die-dum?”
“Potter came in here to get it,” said Malfoy with ill-disguised impatience at the slow-wittedness of his colleagues. “so that must mean –“
“’Must mean’?” Crabbe turned on Malfoy with undisguised ferocity. “Who cares what you think? I don’t take your orders no more, Draco. You an’ your dad are finished.”
Well, what the shit? Is Malfoy actually trying to (subtlly) save Harry’s life? Even so, Crabbe and Goyle are fans of brute force, so now I’m worried they won’t be reasoned out of this.
- “Harry?” mimicked Crabbe. “What’s going on – no, Potter! Crucio!”
Harry had lunged for the tiara; Crabbe’s curse missed him but hit the stone bust, which flew into the air; the diadem soared upward and then dropped out of sight in the mass of objects on which the bust had rested.
“STOP!” Malfoy shouted at Crabbe, his voice echoing through the enormous room. “The Dark Lord wants him alive –“
“So? I’m not killing him, am I?” yelled Crabbe, throwing off Malfoy’s restraining arm. “But if I can, I will, the Dark Lord wants him dead anyway, what’s the diff–?”
A jet of scarlet light shot past Harry by inches: Hermione had run around the corner behind him and sent a Stunning Spell straight at Crabbe’s head. It only missed because Malfoy pulled him out of the way.
“It’s that Mudblood! Avada Kedavra!”
Harry saw Hermione dive aside, and his fury that Crabbe had aimed to kill wiped all else from his mind. He shot a Stunning Spell at Crabbe, who lurched out of the way, knocking Malfoy’s wand out of his hand; it rolled out of sight beneath a mountain of broken furniture and bones.
EVERYTHING IS BACK TO BEING AWFUL AGAIN. whhhhhyyyyyyyyyy do these characters exist anymore they are ruining all of the things.
- “Don’t kill him! DON’T KILL HIM!” Malfoy yelled at Crabbe and Goyle, who were both aiming at Harry: Their split second’s hesitation was all Harry needed.
Goyle’s wand flew out of his hand and disappeared into the bulwark of objects beside him; Goyle leapt foolishly on the spot, trying to retrieve it; Malfoy jumped out of range of Hermione’s second Stunning Spell, and Ron, appearing suddenly at the end of the aisle, shot a full Body-Bind Curse at Crabbe, which narrowly missed.
Crabbe wheeled around and screamed, “Avada Kedavra!” again. Ron leapt out of sight to avoid the jet of green light. The wand-less Malfoy cowered behind a three-legged wardrobe as Hermione charged toward them, hitting Goyle with a Stunning Spell as she came.
WHY IS CRABBE USING AVADA KEDAVRA??????? Make him stop, guys.
- “HARRY!” she screamed.
A roaring, billowing noise behind him gave him a moment’s warning. He turned and saw both Ron and Crabbe running as hard as they could up the aisle toward them.
“Like it hot, scum?” roared Crabbe as he ran.
But he seemed to have no control over what he had done. Flames of abnormal size were pursuing them, licking up the sides of the junk bulwarks, which were crumbling to soot at their touch.
“Aguamenti!” Harry bawled, but the jet of water that soared from the tip of his wand evaporated in the air.
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. Why did Crabbe set the room on fire????
- Malfoy grabbed the Stunned Goyle and dragged him along; Crabbe outstripped all of them, now looking terrified; Harry, Ron, and Hermione pelted along in his wake, and the fire pursued them. It was not normal fire; Crabbe had used a curse of which Harry had no knowledge. As they turned a corner the flames chased them as though they were alive, sentient, intent upon killing them. Now the fire was mutating, forming a gigantic pack offiery beasts: Flaming serpents, chimaeras, and dragons rose and fell and rose again, and the detritus of centuries on which they were feeding was thrown up into the air into their fanged mouths, tossed high on clawed feet, before being consumed by the inferno.
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle had vanished from view: Harry, Ron and Hermione stopped dead; the fiery monsters were circling them, drawing closer and closer, claws and horns and tails lashed, and the heat was solid as a wall around them.
“What can we do?” Hermione screamed over the deafening roars of the fire. “What can we do?”
I DON’T KNOW. I DON’T KNOW!!! What curse did Crabbe use????
*Harry seized a pair of heavy-looking broomsticks from the nearest pile of junk and threw one to Ron, who pulled Hermione onto it behind him. Harry swung his leg over the second broom and, with hard kicks to the ground, they soared up in the air, missing by feet the horned beak of a flaming raptor that snapped its jaws at them. The smoke and heat were becoming overwhelming: Below them the cursed fire was consuming the contraband of generations of hunted students, the guilty outcomes of a thousand banned experiments, the secrets of the countless souls who had sought refuge in the room. Harry couldnot see a trace of Malfoy, Crabbe, or Goyle anywhere. He swooped as low as he dare over the marauding monsters of flame to try to find them, but there was nothing but fire: What a terrible way to die. . . . He had never wanted this. . .
FIERY DINOSAURS???? What is this fuckery????
- And then Harry heard a thin, piteous human scream from amidst the terrible commotion, the thunder of devouring flame.
“It’s – too – dangerous – !” Ron yelled, but Harry wheeled in the air. His glasses giving his eyes some small protection from the smoke, he raked the firestorm below, seeking a sign of life, a limb or a face that was not yet charred like wood. . . .
And he saw them: Malfoy with his arms around the unconscious Goyle, the pair of them perched on a fragile tower of charred desks, and Harry dived. Malfoy saw him coming and raised one arm, but even as Harry grasped it he knew at once that it was no good. Goyle was too heavy and Malfoy’s hand, covered in sweat, slid instantly out of Harry’s –
“IF WE DIE FOR THEM, I’LL KILL YOU, HARRY!” roared Ron’s voice, and, as a great flaming chimaera bore down upon them, he and Hermione dragged Goyle onto their broom and rose, rolling and pitching, into the air once more as Malfoy clambered up behind Harry.
If there was any doubt about Harry’s inclusion in Gryffindor, or his personal courage, here’s exactly where the naysayers are rendered speechless. Even in the face of an inconceivable terror, Harry is willing to risk his life to save people who literally hate him and also have brought him and his friends close to death.
Harry Potter, there’s not a wizard like you.
- “What are you doing, what are you doing, the door’s that way!” screamed Malfoy, but Harry made a hairpin swerve and dived. The diadem seemed to fall in slow motion, turning and glittering as it dropped toward the maw of a yawning serpent, and then he had it, caught it around his wrist –
Harry swerved again as the serpent lunged at him; he soared upward and straight toward the place where, he prayed, the door stood open; Ron, Hermione and Goyle hadvanished; Malfoy was screaming and holding Harry so tightly it hurt. Then, through the smoke, Harry saw a rectangular patch on the wall and steered the broom at it, and moments later clean air filled his lungs and they collided with the wall in the corridor beyond.
Malfoy fell off the broom and lay facedown, gasping, coughing, and retching. Harry rolled over and sat up: The door to the Room of Requirement had vanished, and Ron and Hermione sat panting on the floor beside Goyle, who was still unconscious.
Oh my god. The Room of Requirement has been destroyed, hasn’t it? Jesus, Crabbe, why did you do that?
Wait a second. Where is Crabbe?
- “C-Crabbe,” choked Malfoy as soon as he could speak. “C-Crabbe . . .”
“He’s dead,” said Ron harshly.
Oh my god. The first death during the battle at Hogwarts. And it’s Crabbe. Holy shit.
I’m not sad, though. Is it weird that I’m ok his death is first? I mean, I don’t imagine Rowling can kill off too many people, so it’s almost like he fills a certain quota for deaths in this book, bringing us closer to safety. Still, it’s jarring to see a death spelled out with such certainty. I don’t think I would have ever considered something like this happening back when I started Sorcerer’s Stone. Everything’s changed.
- He pulled the diadem from his wrist and held it up. It was still hot, blackened with soot, but as he looked at it closely he was just able to make out the tiny words etched upon it; WIT BEYOND MEASURE IS MAN’S GREATEST TREASURE.
A bloodlike substance, dark and tarry, seemed to be leaking from the diadem. Suddenly Harry felt the thing vibrate violently, then break apart in his hands, and as it did so, he thought he heard the faintest, most distant scream of pain, echoing not from the grounds or the castle, but from the thing that had just fragmented in his fingers.
Whoa, is the Horcrux destroyed now? How????
- “It must have been Fiendfyre!” whimpered Hermione, her eyes on the broken piece.
“Fiendfyre – cursed fire – it’s one of the substances that destroy Horcruxes, but I would never, ever have dared use it, it’s so dangerous – how did Crabbe know how to –?”
“Must’ve learned from the Carrows,” said Harry grimly.
“Shame he wasn’t concentrating when they mentioned how to stop it, really,” said Ron, whose hair, like Hermione’s, was singed, and whose face was blackened. “If he hadn’t tried to kill us all, I’d be quite sorry he was dead.”
Oh, good. Ron feels the same way about this that I do. Well, now I don’t feel guilty for not being sad about Crabbe’s death. RON VALIDATES ALL MY FEELINGS.
- “But don’t you realize?” whispered Hermione. “This means, if we can just get the snake –“
But she broke off as yells and shouts and the unmistakable noises of dueling filled the corridor. Harry looked around and his heart seemed to fail: Death Eaters had penetrated Hogwarts. Fred and Percy had just backed into view, both of them dueling masked and hooded men.
Oh, fuck. Just when there was hope that they could destroy the last Horcrux, the Death Eaters have to be all rude and shit. Come on, guys, give it a rest.
- Harry, Ron, and Hermione ran forward to help: Jets of light flew in every direction and the man dueling Percy backed off, fast: Then his hood slipped and they saw a high forehead and streaked hair –
“Hello, Minister!” bellowed Percy, sending a neat jinx straight at Thicknesse, who dropped his wand and clawed at the front of his robes, apparently in awful discomfort. “Did I mention I’m resigning?”
“You’re joking, Perce!” shouted Fred as the Death Eater he was battling collapsed under the weight of three separate Stunning Spells. Thicknesse had fallen to the ground with tiny spikes erupting all over him; he seemed to be turning into some form of sea urchin. Fred looked at Percy with glee.
“You actually are joking, Perce. . . . I don’t think I’ve heard you joke since you were –“
Well, maybe I’ll have to reconsider and forgive Percy for his transgressions against the Weasley family at this point. MAYBE.
- The air exploded. They had been grouped together, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and Percy, the two Death Eaters at their feet, one Stunned, the other Transfigured; and in that fragment of a moment, when danger seemed temporarily at bay, the world was rent apart, Harry felt himself flying through the air, and all he could do was hold as tightly as possible to that thin stick of wood that was his one and only weapon, and shield his head in his arms: He heard the screams and yells of his companions without a hope of knowing what had happened to them –
WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED????
- And then the world resolved itself into pain and semidarkness: He was half buried in the wreckage of a corridor that had been subjected to a terrible attack. Cold air told him that the side of the castle had been blown away, and hot stickiness on his cheek told him that he was bleeding copiously. Then he heard a terrible cry that pulled at his insides, that expressed agony of a kind neither flame nor curse could cause, and he stood up, swaying, more frightened than he had been that day, more frightened, perhaps, than he had been in his life. . . .
NO. NO. PLEASE NO. OH MY GOD. WHAT JUST HAPPENED.
- And Hermione was struggling to her feet in the wreckage, and three redheaded men were grouped on the ground where the wall had blasted apart. Harry grabbed Hermione’s hand as they staggered and stumbled over stone and wood.
“No – no – no!” someone was shouting. “No! Fred! No!”
And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred’s eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.
NO NO NO NO NO NO. You can’t fucking do that, Rowling. THEY ARE TWINS. I am a twin!!! YOU CAN’T SEPARATE TWINS.
Oh my god, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE. oh my god, oh my god fuck everything. FUCK EVERYTHING.