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Hermione Granger Chapter Seven

Hermione Granger And The Goblet Of Sexism

Chapter Seven

Bagman and Crouch / Bagman and Crouch

They were, just as Mr. Weasley had said, on an empty moor. The sky was navy blue now, and a chilly mist clung to the ground. Hermione pulled herself up and brushed off the front of her jeans, while around her all the Weasleys and Harry did the same. Just in front of them were two men — two wizards — who looked rather tired and moody. One had a watch, and the other held a thick roll of parchment and a quill. Hermione could tell for certain they were wizards, because they had tried to dress as muggles, but apparently they’d never actually met any.

She sighed. One man was wearing a tweed suit paired with galoshes, the other a kilt paired with a poncho.

“Morning, Basil,” said Mr. Weasley to the kilted man, handing him the utterly disgusting boot.

“Hello there, Arthur,” Basil replied. “Not on duty, eh? It’s all right for some… We’ve been here all night… You’d better get out of the way, we’ve got a big party coming in from the Black Forest at five-fifteen. Hang on, I’ll find your campsite… Weasley…” he was searching the parchment list, while absentmindedly flicking his quill. “About a quarter of a mile’s walk over there, first field you come to. Site manager’s called Mr. Roberts.” Then he turned to Mr. Diggory and started to give him directions as well.

“Thanks, Basil,” said Mr. Weasley, and they all set off in the direction they’d been pointed. The tired group walked along in silence once more, surrounded by that eerie mist. Perhaps they were all wondering, as Hermione was, if they were indeed going in the right direction. But after about twenty minutes, she could make out a small stone cottage with a fence, and in the distance beyond it, more tents than she had ever seen in her life rising up the gentle slope of a hill towards what looked like a forest beyond. Everyone waved goodbye to the Mr. Diggory and Cedric, who were headed to a different site, and they approached the cottage door.

A man was standing in the doorway, and this man was most definitely not a wizard. She was a little surprised to see an actual muggle in the midst of all this wizarding activity, but told herself firmly that obviously they’d had no choice but to use muggle campsites for the event. Surely, she thought, they must have exhausted every other possibility before it came to this. The man standing in the doorway had a thin blond beard, and pale gray eyes the same color as the morning mist. He looked a little jumpy, Hermione though, and she instantly wondered what sort of day he must be having.

“Morning!” Mr. Weasley called out, brightly.

“Morning,” the man responded.

“Would you be Mr. Roberts?”

“Aye, I would. And who’re you?”

“Weasley — two tents, booked a couple of days ago?”

Mr. Roberts consulted a list tacked to the door, “Aye, you’ve got space up by the wood there. Just the one night?”

“That’s it,” said Mr. Weasley with a smile.

“You’ll be paying now, then”

“Ah —” and his shoulders slumped slightly, “right — certainly.” Hermione liked Mr. Weasley, or at least, she thought she did, but why had this not occurred to him before? Well, evidently, it hadn’t. Feeling helpless, she watched Mr. Weasley, stepping awkwardly away from the cottage door to stare in a perplexed sort of way at a roll of ordinary muggle money. She had just began to open her mouth, when she heard him say “Help me, Harry” rather feebly, and stopped herself.

With Harry’s consultation, he managed to pull up the correct bills, and hand them over to Mr. Roberts.

“You foreign?” said Mr. Roberts, looking at Mr. Weasley suspiciously.

“Foreign?” Mr. Weasley sounded genuinely puzzled, and Hermione bit the inside of her lip.

“You’re not the first one who’s had trouble with money, I had two try to pay me with great gold coins the size of hubcaps ten minutes ago.”

“Did you really?” he was trying to play it cool, but he was failing.

“Never been this crowded,” Mr. Roberts said, almost to himself, while he got Mr. Weasley his change. He looked out over the misty moor. “Hundreds of pre-bookings. People usually just turn up…”

“Is that right?” said Mr. Weasley, holding his hand out for the change, but Mr. Roberts was now lost in thought entirely.

“Aye,” he said, “People from all over. Loads of foreigners. And not just foreigners. Weirdos, you know? There’s a bloke walking ‘round in a kilt and a poncho.”

“Shouldn’t he?” Mr. Weasley said, and Hermione had to stop herself from groaning.

“It’s like some sort of… I dunno… like some sort of rally. They all seem to know each other. Like a big party.”

And at that moment, a wizard in plus-fours appeared out of thin air next to the door to the cottage. Without so much as a “hello” he turned his wand on Mr. Roberts and said “Obliviate!” rather sharply. Hermione recognized the charm at once, though she’d never seen it done in person, and it made her feel rather sick to her stomach.

Mr. Robert’s eyes slid out of focus, and all of the tension left his face, leaving it completely slack and relaxed, with a dreamy and unnerving look. His memory had been modified, that is, the spell had wiped the troubling memories of interacting with wizards from Mr. Roberts’ mind, so as he couldn’t try to sort them out anymore.

“A map of the campsite for you, and your change.” he was looking vaguely over Mr. Weasley’s shoulder.

“Thank you very much,” said Mr. Weasley.

The man in plus-fours accompanied them toward the gate to the campsite. He was obviously exhausted, and Hermione would have felt rather sorry for him if she could stop thinking about poor Mr. Roberts. As they walked on, he said “Been having a lot of trouble with him. Needs a Memory Charm ten times a day to keep him happy. And Ludo Bagman’s not helping. Trotting around talking about Bludgers and Quaffles at the top of his voice, not a worry about anti-muggle security. Blimey, I’ll be glad when this is over. See you later, Arthur.” And just like that, he disapparated.

Hermione wondered if there had ever been any research done into what kind of long term effects ten memory charms a day might have on the human brain. She decided that rather than ask about it now, she would look it up, once she was back at Hogwarts, with it’s fabulous library.

“I thought Mr. Bagman was Head of Magical Games and Sports,” Ginny said to her father. “He should know better than to talk about Bludgers near Muggles, shouldn’t he?”

Mr. Weasley smiled slightly as he answered, “He should, but Ludo’s always been a bit… well… lax about security. You couldn’t wish for a more enthusiastic head of the sports department though. He played quidditch for England himself, you know. He was the best Beater the Wimbourne Wasps ever had.”

They walked on through the campsite, between long rows of tents. The witches and wizards who were camping had, it appeared, made quite a bit of effort to look like muggles. It was sort of charming, in a way. Hermione saw what mostly looked like ordinary tents, though several had chimneys, and a few were so obviously magical she found herself saying “oh now come on!” under her breath. The decorative additions were ridiculous enough, but one tent was three stories high, and another had an entire front garden attached. Hermione wasn’t sure if she should find these mistakes funny, or be worried about security.

“Always the same,” Mr. Weasley had apparently settled on finding the situation rather humorous, “We can’t resist showing off when we get together. Ah, here we are, look, this is us.”

They were at the very top of the field, right up next to the wood, and just beyond a long row of tents was an empty space clearly meant for more. A small sign had been hammered into the ground, and it read WEEZLY.

“Couldn’t have a better spot!” said Mr. Weasley happily. “The field is just on the other side of the wood there, we’re as close as could be.” He hoisted his backpack from his shoulders. “Right,” he said with definite excitement in his voice, “no magic allowed, strictly speaking, not when we’re out in these numbers on Muggle land. We’ll be putting these tents up by hand! Shouldn’t be too difficult… Muggles do it all the time…” and his eyes cast about the group, as though he were looking for a muggle, and finally settled on Harry. “Here, Harry,” he said, “where do you reckon we should start?”

Harry Potter’s eyes got momentarily wide. Hermione remembered that his aunt and uncle didn’t like to take him on holiday, and guessed that he had no more idea what to do with the tents than Mr. Weasley. But Harry was a Gryffindor through and through, and was brave even in the face of tent poles. He took the first tent, still all wrapped up, from Mr. Weasley, and looked determined to have a go of it. She smiled at him.

“Well, let’s have a look at the instructions, shall we?” She said, as casually as she could.

Harry gave her a look as though she’d just passed him a life preserver, and half an hour later, with Mr. Weasley wielding the mallet and the Weasley children sitting on their packs, they finished erecting two rather shabby tents. And though it probably didn’t make much difference, what with all the obvious magic that was going on in the campsite, the Weasleys at least were in keeping with the rules.

Harry was staring at the tents with a worried look on his face. They were, of course, too small for all ten of the people who needed to sleep in them. That is, the tents were too small from the outside. Surely, it must have occurred to Harry Potter that the insides of the tents could have been magiced! She gave him a quizzical look, but in typical Harry Potter fashion, he didn’t respond.

“We’ll be a bit cramped,” Mr. Weasley, already halfway inside the first tent, called, “but I think we’ll all squeeze in. Come and have a look.”

They all piled in, and on the inside the tent was an old-fashioned three room flat. It smelled of cats, and she hoped very much that the second tent, which she and Ginny would be sharing, didn’t smell quite as strongly.

To her great relief, it didn’t. However, Despite their amenities, Mr. Weasley was determined to do some “real muggle camping” and so rather than using either of the full kitchens inside each of the tents, he planned to cook outside over and open fire. Hermione did not have the heart to tell him that if using the oven wasn’t muggle-like enough, the proper beds and bathrooms would have to go as well. She, Ron, and Harry were assigned to go get water (in a tea kettle and two saucepans) from a tap in the campsite, while the others gathered firewood.

Hermione took her saucepan, and set off with her friends. The sun had risen, and the mist was lifting, and suddenly she did not feel quite so sleepy anymore. She didn’t even mind the walk. She was fully in the wizarding world again, and somehow that felt more real here than at the burrow, and the city of tents was utterly fascinating besides. Because it wasn’t only English witches and wizards, oh no, there were people from all over who had come to the world cup. And there were tiny little children, and for the first time, Hermione found herself wondering what it might have been like to grow up with wizarding parents.

Outside of a rather exquisite looking purple tent, she saw a young mother trying to get breakfast started over a camp stove, while three young children crowded around her, continually interrupting. She guessed, from the set up, that the family had, like the Weasleys, chosen to stick to the rules to the best of their ability, and that’s why the tired looking witch was cooking outdoors. But the tent was so obviously magical — with its drapey purple fabric and glittery silver threads — that they could have saved their efforts, and besides that the children were all wearing wizards’ robes.

The middle child, she looked to be about five years old, was crying “I don’t want porridge!” at the top of her voice.

Just then, the pot that her mother was stirring flashed brightly, and turned into a pan, which was filled with bacon. The little girl who didn’t want porridge laughed and clapped her hands together with delight, and her younger brother burst into tears. Hermione noticed the mother sigh heavily, and then look around furtively before drawing her wand out of a pocket.

Up ahead a little ways, there were two tiny girls whose parents had at least tried to dress them in muggle clothes, only they’d done so with the same level of skill that the average wizard had in disguising himself. They were each wearing a warm woolly jumper, which would have made perfect sense on such a chilly morning, except for the fact that they were several sizes too large and the girls were wearing them as dresses. It looked as though they were each wearing a loose, knit, sack, and the excess sleeves trailed awkwardly, hiding their hands from view altogether.

As she watched them, each girl picked up a small broomstick off the ground, and proceeded to hop on. They only flew about a foot off the ground, but she hoped Mr. Roberts didn’t see it, for his own sake. Hermione hadn’t spent much time around younger children, but she guessed they were three or four at the oldest. They were laughing and smiling, their toes just barely skimming the top of the dewy grass. She turned to her friends. Ron seemed not to notice any of it, he had both hands on the kettle he was carrying, and his eyes straight ahead. But Harry, Harry Potter was beaming at the wizarding children.

Just then, a ministry wizard ran over, muttering “in broad daylight!” to himself.

Hermione, Ron, and Harry walked onward.

Closer to the tap, they entered a maze of bright green tents. At least, she thought they were bright green at first, but on closer inspection they were all covered with living shamrocks. Suddenly, she heard a shout of “Harry! Ron! Hermione!”

It was Seamus Finnigan, who was in the same year as them and in Gryffindor house, at Hogwarts. He was also, Hermione remembered, Irish, and he was beaming with excitement in front of his own plant covered tent. Dean Thomas, who was also in Gryffindor, was with him, as was a woman who could only be Seamus’ mother.

“Like the decorations?” Seamus’ smile was somehow growing ever wider, “the Ministry’s not too happy.”

“Ah, why shouldn’t we show our colors? You should see what the Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents.” the woman fixed them with a suddenly serious stare, “You’ll be supporting Ireland, of course?”

All three of them assured Mrs. Finnigan that yes, they would, and they walked on.

“I wonder what the Bulgarians have got dangling all over their tents?” Hermione said, aloud.

Just then, the group of young wizards spotted the Bulgarian camp. They decided to go see for themselves.

After a short walk to the area where they had seen the Bulgarian flag, they found themselves in a cluster of tents which looked rather more ordinary than the Irish ones. Well, they looked ordinary except that each one had the same poster attached to it. It was a simple image, no text at all, of a young man’s face. He had very heavy black eyebrows, and intense black eyes, and although it was a wizarding photograph, he was hardly moving at all. The effect of all of those serious, sill-ish, faces surrounding them, was quite intense. They would have looked like muggle photographs, Hermione thought to herself, but they were moving just enough, mostly just frowning or breathing, to feel alive. It was eerie.

“Krum,” said Ron in an oddly hushed voice.

“What?” Hermione asked.

“Krum!” he repeated, this time a little louder, “Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker!”

“He looks,” Hermione struggled, looking from scowling face to scowling face, to find the right words, “really grumpy…”

But she’d said the wrong thing. Ron rolled his eyes dramatically saying, “Really grumpy? Who cares what he looks like? He’s unbelievable. He’s really young too. Only just eighteen or something. He’s a genius, you wait until tonight, you’ll see.”

And Hermione said nothing, because what on earth could she say?

Soon enough, they arrived at the tap, and retrieved their water. They saw many more Hogwarts students on the walk back. Oliver Wood, who had just graduated, and had been captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, made a big show of pulling Harry — and only Harry — over to his tent to meet his parents. Hermione exchanged a sympathetic look with Ron while they waited, clutching kettle and saucepan, now heavy with water. Then they saw Ernie Macmillan, from Hufflepuff house, and Cho Chang, from Ravenclaw. Harry blushed slightly when he saw Cho, and Hermione remembered that he had been rather taken with her. Ron seemed to find the whole thing rather humorous, which annoyed her a little.

They also saw quite a few teenagers who didn’t go to Hogwarts. Of course, as it was the Quidditch World Cup, it was to be expected really, but Harry, looking like a lost puppy, seemed surprised. Hermione could not, for the life of her, understand why he took so little interest in the wizarding world. Had it never occurred to him that there was a universe outside of England? He could be intelligent about some things, she thought, but he was lucky his parents had been wizards. If he had been muggle born, she thought, people would take his obliviousness as evidence that he wasn’t smart enough for magic.

Back at the tents, the campfire still was not started, owing to the fact that Mr. Weasley didn’t know how.

“Dad’s having fun with the matches,” Fred said, gesturing at Mr. Weasley with his eyes. And it really did look as though Mr. Weasley was enjoying himself, though he was absolutely surrounded by a pile of splintered matches.

Suddenly, he did manage to light one, but he shouted “oops!” and dropped it before anything could be made of the tiny spark.

Hermione found herself taking pity on him. Starting fires, she remembered, could be hard work when one wasn’t used to it. She headed over to him, saying “Come here, Mr. Weasley,” and gently took the box from his hands. She was glad to have something useful to do, and soon enough the fire was roaring. While they waited for it to heat up, they watched the various witches and wizards pass by, and Mr. Weasley pointed out who worked for the Ministry and explained what their department was. Or rather, he explained it to Hermione and Harry, his own children looked thoroughly bored and disinterested. Hermione was taking mental notes.

“That was Cuthbert Mockridge, Head of the Goblin Liaison Office… Here comes Gilbert Wimple; he’s with the Committee on Experimental Charms; he’s had those horns for a while now… Hello, Arnie… Arnold Peasegood, he’s an Obliviator — member of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, you know… and that’s Bode and Croaker… they’re Unspeakables…”

“They’re what?” she said with a bit of a start.

“From the Department of Mysteries, top secret, no idea what they get up to…”

When the meal was nearly finished cooking, she spotted the older Weasleys coming towards them, from the wood. “Just Apparated, Dad.” Percy announced, rather excitedly, “Ah, excellent, lunch!” And they all sat down together around the fire, eating eggs and sausages off of tin camping plates. Halfway through, Mr. Weasley jumped up and waved at a man who was striding purposefully towards them.

“Aha!” Mr. Weasley said, jovially, “The man of the moment! Ludo!”

It was, of course, Ludo Bagman. And it was quite clear that he had given less thought to security than the parents allowing their children toy broomsticks! He was dressed in yellow and black Quidditch robes, emblazoned with an enormous picture of a wasp across his front. He was a stocky man, with a squashed nose and a shock of blond hair. In addition to being the most oblivious to anti-muggle security, Hermione thought he was also the happiest person she’d seen all morning, which was saying something.

“Ahoy there!” He called out at them, and bounced to their little camp. “Arthur, old man, what a day, eh? What a day! Could we have asked for more perfect weather? A cloudless night coming… and hardly a hiccough in the arrangements… Not much for me to do!”

Hermione glanced around him, and happened to notice a group of haggard-looking Ministry wizards rushing past, pointing at the distant evidence of a magical fire sending violet sparks up into the air like fireworks.

Percy stepped forward at once, obviously eager to meet Ludo Bagman, despite what he’d said about how he ran his department.

“Ah — yes,” Mr. Weasley was positively beaming with pride, “this is my son Percy. He’s just started at the Ministry — and this is Fred — no, George, sorry — that’s Fred — Bill, Charlie, Ron — my daughter, Ginny — and Ron’s friends Hermione Granger and Harry Potter. Everyone, this is Ludo Bagman, you know who he is, it’s thanks to him we’ve got such good tickets.”

Bagman, still grinning, waved his hand as if to say it had been nothing. Then his face changed suddenly, “Fancy a flutter on the match, Arthur?” he said, jingling what seemed to be a large amount of gold coins in the pocket of his Quidditch robes. “I’ve already got Roddy Pontner betting me Bulgaria will score first…”

Hermione stared on in wonder as they discussed the terms, and Mr. Weasley agreed to put a Galleon on Ireland to win. Mr. Bagman looked disappointed, but considering how poor the Weasleys were, Hermione was shocked to see him risking money like that.

“Very well, very well… any other takers?”

“They’re a bit young to be gambling,” said Mr. Weasley. “Molly wouldn’t like —”

Just then Fred was on his feet, saying “We’ll bet thirty-seven Galleons, fifteen Sickles, three Knuts, that Ireland wins — but Viktor Krum gets the Snitch. Oh and we’ll throw in a fake wand.” George was nodding along seriously.

“You don’t want to go showing Mr. Bagman rubbish like that —” Percy said under his breath. But too late, Ludo Bagman already had the fake wand in his hand, and he looked delighted. The wand gave a loud squawk and abruptly turned into a rubber chicken, and Mr. Bagman roared with laughter.

“Excellent!” Ludo Bagman said, “I haven’t seen one that convincing in years!” I’d pay five Galleons for that!”

Mr. Weasley looked flushed, and he said “Boys… I don’t want you betting… That’s all your savings… Your mother…”

“Don’t be a spoilsport, Arthur!” boomed Bagman, and then he ranted about the odds and the terms and took down the twins names, while Mr. Weasley looked on helplessly. Then he said, “couldn’t do me a brew, I suppose? I’m keeping an eye out for Barty Crouch. My Bulgarian opposite number’s making difficulties, and I can’t understand a word he’s saying. Barty’ll be able to sort it out. He speaks about a hundred and fifty languages!”

“Mr. Crouch?” said Percy Weasley, “he speaks over two hundred! Mermish and Gobbledegook and Troll…”

“Anyone can speak Troll,” said Fred dismissively, “All you have to do is point and grunt.”

Hermione reflected that that, almost certainly, wasn’t true.

“Any news of Bertha Jorkins yet, Ludo?” Mr. Weasley asked, as Ludo settled himself down on the grass to wait for his tea.

“Not a dicky bird,” said Bagman, “But she’ll turn up. Poor old Bertha… memory like a leaky cauldron and no sense of direction. Lost, you take my word for it. She’ll wander back into the office sometime in October, thinking it’s still July.”

Mr. Weasley frowned slightly, “you don’t think it might be time to send someone to look for her?”

Bagman took his teacup from Percy with both hands, saying “Barty Crouch keeps saying that… But we really can’t spare anyone at the moment. Oh — talk of the devil! Barty!” and his face completely changed.

Hermione looked up and saw a man standing right next to their little fireside — he must have just apparated there — who looked much more like her idea of a ministry wizard than Ludo Bagman. He was an elderly man, with impeccable posture, dressed in a perfectly muggle-like suit and tie. His hair was straight and tidy, and even his mustache seemed perfect. He looked out of place next to Ludo Bagman, yes, but he also looked out of place at the whole event. There wasn’t a hint of oddity or whimsey about him, she thought.

“Pull up a bit of grass, Barty!” said Ludo, looking rather like a schoolboy and patting the ground beside him.

“No thank you, Ludo,” said Mr. Crouch in a crisp voice that sounded impatient, “I’ve been looking for you everywhere. The Bulgarians are insisting we add another twelve seats to the Top Box.”

“Oh is that what they’re after?” said Bagman, grinning, “I thought the chap was asking to borrow a pair of tweezers. Bit of a strong accent.”

“Mr. Crouch! Would you like a cup of tea?” said Percy, sounded a little awed.

“Oh. Yes. Thank you, Weatherby.” said Mr. Crouch.

Poor Percy went pink around the ears, and busied himself with the kettle. Of course, Fred and George were holding back giggles and hiding behind their own teacups. Hermione glared at them, but she wasn’t sure they noticed, they were so hysterical.

Hermione sat back, sipping her own tea, letting the talk go on around her. She wasn’t sure that she liked either of the men, if she was being honest, though she was trying hard to reserve judgement. Bagman was sloppy, lazy, and insensitive. And while Hermione could certainly see the need for following rules, there was something in Mr. Crouch’s demeanor that made her distinctly uncomfortable. When she looked up from her tea, and her thoughts, they were discussing flying carpets.

“Ali thinks there’s a niche in the market for a family vehicle,” Mr. Crouch was saying, “I remember my grandfather had an Axminster that could seat twelve — that was before carpets were banned, of course.” He spoke as though he wanted to leave nobody in any doubt that all his ancestors had abided strictly by the law.

“So, been keeping busy, Barty?” Ludo Bagman asked.

“Fairly,” she thought she detected a hint of sarcasm in Mr. Crouch’s voice. “Organizing Portkeys across five continents is no mean feat, Ludo.

“I expect you’ll both be glad when this is over?” said Mr. Weasley.

The look on Bagman’s face was priceless. “Glad!” He gulped in surprise, “Don’t know when I’ve had more fun… Still, it’s not as though we haven’t got anything to look forward to, eh, Barty? Eh Plenty left to organize, eh?”

“We agreed not to make the announcement until all the details —”

“Oh details!” said Bagman in exasperation, “They’ve signed, haven’t they? They’ve agreed, haven’t they? I bet you anything these kids’ll know soon enough anyways. I mean, it’s happening at Hogwarts —”

At that moment, Mr. Crouch pushed his teacup, still untouched, back into Percy’s hand, saying “Ludo, we need to meet the Bulgarians, you know.”

As they walked off, Fred immediately asked his father about whatever it was that was happening at Hogwarts. Whatever it was, it was clear enough that Mr. Bagman wanted them to wonder what it was, and Mr. Crouch didn’t want them to know.

“It’s classified information, until such time as the Ministry decides to release it,” said Percy. “Mr. Crouch was quite right not to disclose it.”

“Oh shut up, Weatherby.” said Fred. And Percy’s ears went red all over again.

By dusk, the entire camp seemed to be buzzing with excitement. It seemed that, whether they were wizards or muggles, large group sporting events seemed to have the same sort of effect on people. At some point the Ministry must have gave up altogether on stopping blatant and obvious magic, because suddenly it was like being fully in the wizarding world. And salespeople popped up nearly everywhere, they were just Apparating all over the camp, with trays of incredible merchandise. Hermione knew most of the objects were really just enchanted with rather simple charms, but she couldn’t help but marvel at the rosettes that squealed out the names of the players, Irish hats covered in dancing shamrocks, and Bulgarian scarves decorated with lions that really roared. There were even tiny collectible figurines of some of the players (the more famous ones, she thought) which would stroll across a palm or surface. She couldn’t imagine how awkward it must feel to know there were all those tiny versions of oneself out there in the world.

“Been saving my pocket money all summer for this,” Ron said to Harry, right next to her, as they strolled through the crowd of people buying and selling frantically. He bought one of the shamrock hats and a green rosette, but he also bought a figurine of Viktor Krum, whom she recalled he had said was the Seeker for Bulgaria, not Ireland.

“Wow look at this!” she heard Harry say, as she was examining flags which played national anthems. Suddenly he was off, dashing to a cart piled high with what looked like brass binoculars. Hermione sighed, and followed.

“Omnioculars!” said the saleswizard, rather eagerly. “You can replay action… slow everything down… and they flash up a play-by-play breakdown if you need it. Bargain — ten Galleons each.”

“Wish I hadn’t bought this now,” said Ron, and he looked down sadly at his so recently loved purchases.

“Three pairs.” Harry said firmly to the wiard.

“No — don’t bother,” Ron was going red, but Hermione knew better than to try to fight with Harry when he was trying to be generous. It could be a little uncomfortable, Harry had inherited a wizard’s fortune from his deceased parents, but she supposed it made him feel good to spread it around.

“You won’t be getting anything for Christmas,” Harry said cheerfully, passing the Omnioculars to her and Ron. “For about ten years, mind.”

“Fair enough,” Ron managed a grin.
“Thanks, Harry.” Hermione said, “And I’ll get us some programs…” after all, it would be dreadful to have no idea what was going on during the match.

In the jostling crowd of shoppers, they slowly located the other Weasleys, and managed to get in a little clump again. She’d just noticed that the twins hadn’t bought any souvenirs, and supposed it was because they’d gambled all their money away with Mr. Bagman, when a deep, booming, gong sounded somewhere out in the distance. It startled her, but all at once the forest was illuminated with green and red lanterns. They were clearly lighting a path to the field.

Mr. Weasley said “it’s time! Come on, let’s go!” and they all hurried off into those trees.

 

***

Deconstruction / Notes On The Source Text / SOME META STUFF

Did that chapter feel like it went on forever to you? It did to me, partly because it’s over twice as long as the previous chapter, and partly because it took me over three times as long to complete.

And partly because, once again, Hermione barely speaks.

This chapter is frustrating for a thousand reasons, but mainly it just feels like it drags to me. There’s no plot happening, they’re just setting up the camp and walking through it and cooking eggs and drinking tea and buying shit. And yet, there’s a ton of information in here that can’t really be skipped. The world building isn’t excellent, but there is some in here. And there’s foreshadowing and information about various characters that will come into play later. We need this chapter, I just wish we didn’t. And this is one of the faults of doing this chapter-by-chapter! If I was re-writing the entire story and structuring it myself, I feel like I would have done this differently somehow. I don’t want to say J.K. Rowling did a terrible job, because look, I didn’t write seven novels (yet). But it seems like there has to be a better way! This chapter feels like filler.

Also, I’m coming at this from a place of bias. I really, really, do not enjoy sports.

There’s a few things I want to talk about here, but fair warning that I’m a little off just now so it’s possible I’ll forget something. I’ve literally been working on this chapter over the course of three weeks (I wish I was kidding) so it’s a bit tricky.

What I’m noticing, more and more, is that these books aren’t merely told from the perspective of Harry Potter. No, they’re told from the perspective of Harry Potter in a world in which everything revolves around Harry Potter. Assuming the narrator is reliable, nearly everyone in this world defers to Harry Potter, prefers to talk to Harry Potter over almost anyone else, and wants to take time to explain things to Harry Potter. It’s as realistic as playing one of those videogames in which every towns person you meet reveals some other little bit of your quest. That is, it isn’t realistic at all.

The original text continues to more or less forget about Hermione. Occasionally it reminds us that she is there (it’s the THREE of them going to get water!) and every once in awhile it takes the opportunity to have Hermione mention that she doesn’t know about sports. She doesn’t know who Viktor Krum is, and neither does Harry but he at least has the decency to play along. The question of why Hermione is even here, other than the obvious narrative convenience, looms ever present.

Mr. Weasley has forgotten she is there altogether, it would seem.

He needs to know how to use muggle money (wait, why are they camping on muggle land with muggles taking their money? Doesn’t that seem counter to the Ministry’s whole attitude? We couldn’t have too many witches and wizards on the trains but we can have this? And knowing this, why the hell didn’t Mr. Weasley plan ahead and have the correct change ready? Planning, folks, it helps!) and he asks Harry. He needs to know how to put up a tent, and so he asks Harry. He needs to know how to light a fire, and so he tries himself until Hermione takes pity on him and does it for him.

Hermione is muggle born. Hermione has been camping. Hermione also takes the time to understand how the wizarding world actually works, unlike Harry who’s all “woah, wizards in other countries have like, schools?” Hermione is your greatest asset in this awkward nonsensical situation. And hey, that would actually make a great reason to invite her, except for the fact that he, and everyone else, is ignoring her.

And she’s nice and sweet through it all. Which is hard. It’s oh so hard. I had to struggle not to write this chapter way snarkier, because every time the text said something like “Harry said to Ron” I wanted to type “Harry said to Ron, not Hermione, never Hermione, god forbid he talk to Hermione.”

Ok, and, the implications with Mr. Roberts. Mr. Roberts is just doing his job. His job has suddenly gotten really really weird. He’s doing the best he can. Wizards have created this situation where Mr. Roberts is, unbeknownst to him, working for wizards at the biggest wizarding event of the year and the biggest wizarding event in England in many years. He hasn’t had the opportunity to consent to working this special event because he isn’t supposed to know that it exists.

So what do they do? Every time he gets suspicious, they zap his memory again.

That’s… really icky.

The wizarding world seems to have this idea that if they undo something, it never really happened and doesn’t matter. They think that if they put Dudley’s tongue back to normal, it’s no big deal and why should he be upset? And they think that as long as they remove the memory, it doesn’t matter what you saw and how it upset you. The idea that these people — people with incredible powers — can do whatever they want to you as long as they make you forget it afterwards, well, it kind of makes my skin crawl.

And it puts whats going to happen with Mr. Roberts later into a bizarre sort of context. What is the problem with the Death Eater’s little prank, exactly? Maybe it’s that they didn’t intend to wipe anyone’s memory of the incident. Shudder.

Furthermore, we know that overuse of memory charms can and does have a negative affect on people (Lockhart, way back in book two) and we know that memory charms can be cracked and the real memories remain… somewhere (it’s in book six). So the fact that this is the system the organizers of this very major event have decided on shows a total and complete lack of respect for the basic humanity of anyone who is not a wizard. And that should be upsetting to anyone, but it must particularly be upsetting to those young witches and wizards who have been raised by muggles and lived in the muggle world.

It undermines one’s confidence in reality.

For Harry, this inspires no existential crisis. He despises the muggle world and the time he must spend in it, and seeks full integration into the magical world with no remaining ties to the outside world. But Hermione is different. Hermione has a foot in both worlds, because she has no choice. Hermione loves her parents, and her extended muggle family, and her muggle friends. This has to be utterly terrifying.

But about Harry… for someone who wishes to completely integrate into wizarding society, he certainly seems to know very little about it. This is something that has bothered me about literally every single book (excluding the first one) since I read them through the first time, but why is Harry constantly surprised that there are magical things in the magical world? He spends more than half of his time in the magical world, and seems to find it interesting, yet, each time is like the first time for him. He never seems to wonder how wizards handle anything until he’s right up against it.

And it’s particularly galling here, because he’s a quidditch star at school. I know the Dursleys won’t let him participate in the magical world much, but you’d think Harry Potter would follow professional quidditch, at least while he’s at school. It turns out… no? He never mentions having a favorite team, never mentions wanting to go to a match, actually seems to have no interest whatsoever until he’s actually at the world cup. In this one thing, Harry and Hermione actually act about the same. Neither of them knew who was playing until the last couple of days, neither of them seem to care about the outcome of this match much, both of them seem more interested in experiencing this particular aspect of wizarding culture than they are in who wins. And yet, Hermione is a girl and commits the cardinal sin of saying Viktor Krum looks “grumpy” and therefore she is obviously clueless. Harry, on the other hand, is given a pass. It’s assumed that he either does know all these things, or he would if only he had the opportunity. Even though, if quidditch is such a big deal, you’d think living in a dormitory with multiple quidditch obsessed boys would have made it hard not to know everything there is to know about professional quidditch, especially when one is, you know, a sports star themselves.

Harry Potter is a master at avoiding acquiring knowledge he really should have, for the sake of being a better reader insert character.

There is a lot more we could get into in this horrible endless chapter, but I think that’s the major stuff I wanted to touch on. Apologies for the inevitable typos, because I don’t have time to edit as well as I’d like today.

Now one final thing! So part of the reason I’ve started this project is because I want to get better at writing fiction (I currently primarily write non-fiction/autobiographical type stuff) and in that vein, I’ve allowed myself to be talked into NaNoWrioMo. I’m super pumped! But I’m also a realist/defensive pessimist (my optimist spouse would say that the fact that I put that slash where I did is evidence of the levels of my pessimism). I have a one year old, and a partner who works most of the week, and I do paid freelance writing to pay the bills. So! Hermione Granger posts could get incredibly infrequent in the month of November and it’s not what I want but them’s the breaks. I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, and worst case scenario you’ll see me, and Hermione, in December.

 

Hermione Granger Chapter 6

Hermione Granger And The Goblet of Sexism

Chapter Six

The Portkey/The Portkey

Despite what Harry and Ron may have believed, Hermione knew quite a bit about quidditch. Just because she wasn’t interested in playing for the Gryffindor house team, like Harry, or an avid fan, like Ron and Ginny, it was assumed that she wasn’t interested at all and couldn’t follow a game. But she’d been to every school match in all three of her years at Hogwarts, and she’d studied the history of quidditch, besides. She knew, for example, that the Golden Snitch — the tiny hyper-fast ball that zoomed around the pitch requiring a specialized player called a Seeker (Harry’s position on the school team) — had only been added to the game in the eighteenth century, after several bloody bludger accidents. She was certain that Harry had no idea how controversial his role in the game had once been, because for some reason Harry and Ron both had a deep hatred for all things historical. So, despite the fact that she owned no quidditch posters of her own, she was actually quite excited to be attending a match as important as the world cup. It was bound to be fascinating, she thought.

Of course, none of that occurred to her when Mrs. Weasley came in to wake her and Ginny well before dawn the next day. She’d been up late talking with Ginny, who had questioned her repeatedly about if she fancied any boys in her year (she didn’t, and she suddenly found herself wondering, maybe for the first time, why not). She could not remember a time when she’d been this tired.

 

“Oh look lively, girls!” Mrs. Weasley said shortly. She pulled the covers clear off of Ginny, but thankfully as Hermione was a guest, she was slightly kinder to her. Hermione dragged a jumper over her head in the still dark bedroom, and they stumbled out to the kitchen. Ron, Harry, and the twins were already seated at the table, looking just as bleary-eyed as she felt.

She spotted a pot of coffee on the table, and it was like a ray of perfect sunshine to her.

As she pulled out a chair, Ginny sat down next to her, saying “Why do we have to be up so early?”

“We’ve got a bit of a walk,” Mr. Weasley answered. He was dressed in muggle clothing, as, Hermione noticed, were all of his children. The difference, of course, was that the younger generation seemed to know how muggles actually dressed, whereas their parents tended to throw things together in a hodge podge sort of way.

“What, are we walking to the World Cup?” Harry asked.

“No no, that’s miles away. We only need to walk a short way. It’s just very difficut for a large number of wizards to congregate without attracting Muggle attention. We have to be very careful about how we travel at the best of times, and on a huge occasion like the Quidditch World Cup—”

Just then, Mrs. Weasley shouted “George!” and everyone jumped.

“What?” said George, feigning innocence.

“What is that in your pocket?” said his mother.

“Nothing!

“Don’t you lie to me!” and then she pointed her wand at George’s pocket and said, “Accio!” in a clear voice.

Several small, brightly colored objects zoomed out of his pockets, and he, rather foolishly, tried to grab for them in the air as they sped into his mother’s waiting palm.

“We told you to destroy them!” Mrs. Weasley said furiously, and what she was holding in her hand looked to be more of the trick sweets that had caused the row the night before. “We told you to get rid of the lot! Empty your pockets, go on, both of you!”

 

Hermione didn’t know quite how to feel as she watched the twins give up the labors of their hard work. On the one hand, they were obviously dangerous objects, that much was certain. On the other hand, Mrs. Weasley’s briskness made it easy to feel defensive of the two boys who’d put so much work into the sweets. They were obviously passionate about what they were doing, but Hermione couldn’t understand why, and shook her head to herself. When they set off to leave, Hermione drained her coffee cup and noticed that the twins left the room without saying goodbye to Mrs. Weasley at all.

“I’ll send Bill, Charlie, and Percy along around midday,” Mrs. Weasley said to her husband. The older Weasley children would be arriving by apparition, a sort of magical disappearing and reappearing, and so they had no need to get up and walk so early in the morning.

It was nearly daybreak, the countryside was still and sleepy. A dull, greenish tinge along the horizon to their right hinted at the coming sunrise, and the moon still shone above them. Hermione walked alongside Ginny, while Ron bumbled along in sleepy silence, and Harry sped up to pepper Mr. Weasley with logistical questions.

“So how does everyone get there without all the Muggles noticing?”

“It’s been a massive organization problem,” Mr. Weasley replied, and he did not seem to mind chatting before the sun was up, “The trouble is, about a hundred thousand wizards turn up at the World Cup, and of course, we just haven’t got a magical site big enough to accommodate them all. There are places Muggles can’t penetrate, but imagine trying to pack a hundred thousand wizards into Diagon Alley or platform nine and three-quarters. So we had to find a nice deserted moor, and set up as many anti-Muggle precautions as possible…”

Hermione winced at the term “anti-muggle.”

“…The whole Ministry’s been working on it for months. First, of course, we have to stagger the arrivals. People with cheaper tickets have to arrive two weeks beforehand. A limited number use Muggle transport, but we can’t have too many clogging up their buses and trains — remember, wizards are coming from all over the world. Some Apparate, of course, but we have to set up safe points for them to appear, well away from Muggles. I believe there’s a handy wood they’re using as the Apparition point. For those who don’t want to Apparate, or can’t, we use Portkeys.”

Hermione knew from her studies that a Portkey was an everyday object, which was set with a spell by wizards, to be used to transport people at a prearranged time. But she listened to Mr. Weasley explain the concept to Harry, anyhow.

“They can be anything,” he was saying, “Unobtrusive things, obviously, so Muggles don’t go picking them up and playing with them… stuff they’ll just think is litter…”

She wondered if there ever had been an incident of muggles getting into trouble with Portkeys, and made a mental note to look it up once she had the full use of the Hogwarts library again. As they trudged down the dark lane, she noticed that the sky was lightening very slowly. It really was a very beautiful morning. She smiled at Ron, walking beside her, but he seemed not to noticed. And then the whole lot of them took a deep breath, and started to climb up Stoatshead Hill. It looked to be hard work, but Mr. Weasley said that the Portkey was at the top, and she was rather looking forward to being transported by magic, rather than her own feet, for a change.

Far from a bit of a walk, it was actually a rather laborious climb. She had to use her hands as well as her feet, and her arms and legs ached. The sky was getting lighter and lighter, and she was very grateful for the cup of strong coffee she’d had back at the burrow. Somehow everyone else managed the hill faster than she did, and though she tried to hide it, she found herself clutching at an enormous stitch in her side as she pulled herself up over the crest of the hill. She took a deep breath. She shook off her embarrassment, there was no need for that.

“Now we just need the Portkey,” said Mr. Weasley, replacing his glasses, “It won’t be big… come on…” and everyone spread out to look for a small object that could have been altered, imperceptibly, by wizards. All of a sudden, she heard a shout.

“Over here, Arthur! Over here, son, we’ve got it!” the voice wasn’t any of the Weasleys, nor was it Harry Potter. Hermione was relieved to give up the search, and looked up to see who it was.

There were two tall figures silhouetted against the starry sky on the other side of the hilltop. Mr. Weasley shouted “Amos!” with a smile of recognition, and strode over to them. The rest of the group followed. When they got a bit closer, she could see that the wizard who had called was a ruddy-faced man with a scrubby brown beard, and he holding a very old, rather unclean looking, boot. And next to him, to her surprise, was a young wizard she recognized from school.

“This is Amos Diggory, everyone,” Mr. Weasley said, “He works for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. And I think you know his son, Cedric?”

Cedric Diggory was around seventeen, had blond-ish colored hair, and all of the girls in Hermione’s dormitory found him to extremely handsome. She supposed he was good looking, in a certain kind of way. Seeing him brought back an old worry, perhaps there was something wrong with her, if she didn’t find the right boys attractive? He was also Captain and Seeker of the Hufflepuff House Quidditch team back at Hogwarts. He said “Hi,” in a tentative sort of way.

And with good reason, everyone else said hi back, but Fred and George flatly ignored him. The previous year, Hufflepuff had beat Gryffindor at quidditch, and of course Fred and George had held a grudge. Hermione was proud to be a Gryffindor, as were all of the Weasleys and Harry, but she couldn’t ever quite wrap her head around why the boys placed so much weight on quidditch matches.

“Long walk, Arthur?” Amos Diggory asked.

“Not too bad, We live just on the other side of the village there. You?”

“Had to get up at two, didn’t we, Ced? I tell you, I’ll be glad when he’s got his Apparition test. Still… not complaining… Quidditch world Cup, wouldn’t miss it for a sackful of Galleons — and the tickets cost about that. Mind you, looks like I got off easy…” Mr. Diggory peered good-naturedly around at the small crowd of teenagers; four Weasleys, Hermione, and Harry. “All these yours, Arthur?”

“Oh no, only the redheads,” said Mr. Weasley, gesturing to his own children, “This is Hermione, a friend of Ron’s, and Harry, another friend —”

“Merlin’s beard,” Amos Diggory’s eyes widened. “Harry? Harry Potter?”

Harry looked rather awkward, and from next to Hermione he let out a tentative “Er — yeah…” in confirmation that he was, in fact, himself.

But Mr. Diggory didn’t miss a beat, “Ced’s talked about you, of course. Told us all about playing against you last year… I said to him, I said — Ced, that’ll be something to tell your grandchildren, that will… You beat Harry Potter!”

“Harry fell of his broom, Dad,” Cedric Diggory said in a quiet, uncomfortable, voice, “I told you… it was an accident….”

“Yes, but you didn’t fall off, did you?” and Mr. Diggory slapped his son on the back good-naturedly, blissfully unaware of how tense everyone else had become. “Always modest, our Ced, always the gentleman… but the best man won, I’m sure Harry’d say the same, wouldn’t you, eh? One falls off his broom, one stays on, you don’t need to be a genius to tell which one’s the better flier!”

Hermione could just barely hear one of the twins muttering to the other.

“Must be nearly time,” said Mr. Weasley quickly, before things could get any worse, “Do you know whether we’re waiting for any more, Amos?”

“No, the Lovegoods have been there for a week already and the Fawcetts couldn’t get tickets. There aren’t any more of us in this area, are there?”

“Not that I know of,” Mr. Weasley was checking his watch. “Yes, it’s a minute off… We’d better get ready…”

Her turned to Hermione and Harry, and said “You just need to touch the Portkey, that’s all, a finger will do.” She supposed that his own children must have traveled by Portkey before.

The whole group crowded around the old boot, held by Amos Diggory, all reaching in to touch the thing. They were positively smashed together, and Fred Weasley’s backpack kept jostling Hermione. She was, however, determined not to let it go. Then she heard Mr. Weasley count down, “three… two… one…”

And then it was as though a hook caught just behind her navel, somewhere in the center of her body, and jerked her forward. She felt her feet leave the ground, and she banged hard into Harry who was on her right hand side, while Fred’s backpack positively attacked her on her left. Everything was a swirl of color, but then she closed her eyes hard, so she wouldn’t be sick. Witches, she told herself, wouldn’t panic over a mere portkey.

Then, all at once, she was slamming hard into the cold ground. When she opened her eyes, she was somewhere completely different, and only the two adults and Cedric Diggory had managed to stay on their feet.

A voice called out “seven past five from Stoatshead Hill!”

Deconstruction, Notes On The Source Text

Good morning! Here we have an entire chapter in a Harry Potter book, with Hermione Granger is nearly ever scene. The only part, in the original, that she is not in is the first three pages, because she wakes up in a different room than Harry, and for some reason Ginny and Hermione wake up slightly later than the boys, and stumble into the kitchen only after they’ve already sat down to breakfast. Then, the narrative completely forgets about Hermione Granger, because right now we are telling a story about Harry Potter and his Adventure With The Weasley Family.

I know we talked about this last week, but I just can’t let it go. Not a peep out of our girl, not one. So why the hell is she even here?

think the answer (from a doylistic perspective!) is that J.K. Rowling needed someone quick witted and thoughtful, who would suss out the details and bring up everything that Ron and Harry are too cool (lazy) to read later on when shit gets weird. Hermione provides an awful lot of exposition, but she needs to be there to do it.

And of course, since we’ve already painted her as a brain who’s not terribly fond of sports, and she’s muggle born, it would make zero sense (from a watsonian perspective) for her to meet up with Ron and Harry at the World Cup. So, we had to do it this way. Ok then.

Except, of course, this way doesn’t make terribly much sense either. Why would Ron, who’s only ever shown an interest in having Harry come and stay, not Hermione, invite Hermione Granger in the first place? And why do the Weasleys, who remember are supposedly really poor, let Ron have two friends come along? They may have got the tickets for free (a perk of being a corrupt low level official for Arthur Weasley!) but they still have to put these children up and feed them. And, hang on, but none of the other Weasley children have guests coming with them, even though the twins and Ginny, at the very least, are shown again and again to be WAY more social than brother Ron. I guess maybe since Hermione is muggle born, and Harry’s guardians are muggles, the Weasley family took pity on them, having no way to attend this historic sporting event independently.

Except that implies that of Fred, George, and Ginny, not one of them has a muggle born friend. That seems rather unlikely, given the prevalence of muggle borns in the books. And remember, the Weasleys are blood traitors, at least according to bigots like the Malfoys. The family is known for sympathizing with muggles and muggle borns (though they still retain a lot of weird prejudices and Arthur Weasley couldn’t even pass a muggle studies exam.

I’m trying to work with what I’ve got here, but I’m struggling to make this make sense in-world. It feels like the author stepping in, and moving the characters around for narrative convenience. Of course Hermione is there too because Harry, Ron, and Hermione, they all go together. They’re like a set! But only… she’s not really there, not exactly. Harry and the Weasleys chat and get on with things. But Hermione does not speak, she may as well be invisible.

Hermione Granger Chapter 5

Hermione Granger And The Goblet Of Sexism

Chapter Five

Harry Potter / Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes

 

“Come on dad! How on earth would we get in the way? And anyways, don’t you think it’ll look more respectable to have three of us coming, rather than just one?”

Hermione was in the burrow’s cozy sitting room, and the voice she was hearing from the kitchen belonged to one of the twins, she guessed it was Fred.

“We won’t be any trouble!” she heard another voice exclaim. That one was almost certainly George, she thought. Realizing there was no possible way she could continue to concentrate on her book, she closed it with a sigh. Crookshanks jumped, rather lightly for such a large cat, off her lap. She got up to peak into the kitchen.

Mr. Weasley was a tall, nervous, red haired wizard, who worked for the ministry of magic. He was also running short on time. It was the next afternoon, and he and Ron were preparing to go and collect Harry Potter from his muggle family. It sounded as though the twins were holding him up, though, and when Hermione glanced at her watch, she realized he was already a little late. She saw Mr. Weasley look around the room, as though for answers, but none came.

Harry Potter was Hermione’s other close friend at Hogwarts. She, Ron, and Harry had been involved in several large scrapes over the last three years, some more serious than others. Harry was also, as it happened, extremely famous in the wizarding world. His parents, a pureblood wizard and a muggle born witch, had been murdered when he was only a baby, by the evil Lord Voldemort, for their efforts in opposing him. The legendary dark wizard had tried to murder Harry as well. However, the curse had rebounded, leaving Voldemort powerless, and Harry quite well except for a lightning shaped scar on his forehead. Afterwards, he had been raised by his abusive muggle aunt and uncle. So while he wasn’t muggle born himself, Hermione found him rather easy to relate to, since they’d both grown up in the muggle world.

But since his muggle family was so terrible, wizards tended to use his story to reinforce the idea that muggles were somehow stupid in comparison to wizards.

In any event, everyone felt terribly sorry for him, Hermione included, having to spend any time at all with people who treated him so poorly. The Weasleys had made arrangements for Harry Potter to spend the rest of the summer holidays at the burrow. And while Hermione had found her own way from London to the countryside where the Weasleys’ home was located, Mr. Weasley was heading to Surry to collect Harry himself.

“Oh….” Mr. Weasley looked rather helplessly at Mrs. Weasley, who was looking suspicious, “Well you’d better be on your best behavior boys, because Harry has to go back to these people next summer, and they’ve already had a few negative experiences with wizards, and we don’t want them to get the wrong idea, alright?”

“You mean the people who starved him two summers ago? How could anything we do make any difference!?”

“Fred, I’m warning you…” but Mr. Weasley’s voice sounded like anything but a warning.

“Yes yes, we promise!” George shot Fred a conspiratorial look, but Mr. Weasley either didn’t see it, or ignored it. Ten minutes later they left, quite a bit late, traveling by floo powder via the Weasleys’ kitchen fire.

Hermione plopped back down with her book. Ginny had asked rather hopefully if Hermione might have brought any muggle books with her, but of course she hadn’t, so Ginny settled for reading a magazine instead. The two girls had, once again, spent the majority of the day together. Hermione had seen Ron only a handful of times, and now Ron was off with his father to pick up Harry. He hadn’t even said goodbye, but Hermione was trying not to be bothered by it. She was sure that once Harry arrived, it would be all three of them together, like normal.

The book was a work of fiction, which Hermione never read much of, since she was eager to learn as much about the magical world as possible. But as she turned through the chapters, she realized that finding out what wizards and witches found entertaining, and why, was a part of learning about their world, which was her world too, she reminded herself. The protagonist, a wizard by the name of Wendell Wartshaw, was attempting to get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearance of several historical artifacts in a wizarding museum…

There was a wooshing sound, and then a thump, from the direction of the kitchen.

“That’ll be dad and the twins back” Ginny said, not looking up from her magazine article.

Hermione dove back into her book.

Wendell tapped his wand on the countertop absentmindedly, a bad habbit of his since his school days, and then looked up, “Patrice, what on earth makes you think the perpetrator could have been a muggle? How the hell would a muggle have gotten into the museum in the first place? Isn’t the place bloody well protected?”

“Well…” Patrice looked around at the ornately decorated office.

“Well, isn’t it?”

There were raised voices coming from the kitchen. Hermione and Ginny looked at each other.

“You dropped it on purpose!” to Hermione’s surprise, it was Mr. Weasley who was shouting.

Ginny heaved a great sigh, “Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.”

“What?” Hermione said.

Just then, they heard Mrs. Weasley’s voice enter the fray.

Hermione closed her book, “come on!” she said, “we’d best get Harry out of there before it explodes into a real row.”

Ginny’s mouth fell open for a moment, as though she was going to protest, then she closed her magazine and stood up.

 

The two girls entered the kitchen just in time, by the looks of things, and stood behind Mrs. Weasley in the doorway, while she gathered steam for the fight. In the center of the room, near the fireplace, stood Harry Potter, with his shock of untidy black hair and a befuddled yet amused sort of expression on his face. Near him was Ron, and a little to the side she could see both twins, and their father. Mr. Weasley was now stalling, it seemed.

 

“Tell me what, Arthur?” Mrs. Weasley was saying, as Hermione peaked around her robes to smile at Harry. He smiled back, and Hermione noticed that Ginny looked a little flushed.

“It’s nothing, Molly,” Mr. Weasley was mumbling, “Fred and George just — but I’ve had words with them —”

From her vantage point, Hermione could see Mrs. Weasley puff up her chest within her robes, “What have they done this time?” she said, and her voice sounded even more dangerous, “If it’s got anything to do with Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes —”

Hermione had to think fast if they were going to get out before the explosion. “Why don’t you show Harry where he’s sleeping, Ron?” she piped up feebly, thinking it wasn’t a very good plan but might just work.

“He knows where he’s sleeping, in my room, he slept there last —” it would be like Ron to choose this moment to be so incredibly thick.

“We can all go,” she said slowly, willing her face to look as meaningful as possible.

It must have worked, because Ron said “Oh. Right.” and he and Harry started to edge out of the kitchen. Just in time, too, because the twins tried to follow after, and that was the point at which Hurricaine Molly really hit the crowded kitchen.

 

Once they were safely on the stairs, Harry asked “What are Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes?” and Ron and Ginny both laughed in response. It was Ron who finally answered.

“Mum found this stack of order forms when she was cleaning Fred and George’s room. Great long price lists for stuff they’ve invented. Joke stuff, you know.” Hermione had known that the Weasley twins were rather taken with the joke shop in the village outside of Hogwarts, so she supposed it made sense that if they were to invent something, joke products would be the thing, “Fake wands and trick sweets, loads of stuff. It was brilliant, I never knew they’d been inventing all that…”

Ginny must have found her voice, “We’ve been hearing explosions out of their room for ages, but we never thought they were actually making things,” she added. “We thought they just liked the noise.”

“Only, most of the stuff — well, all of it, really — was a bit dangerous,” Ron said, “and you know, they were planning to sell it at Hogwarts to make some money, and Mum went mad at them. Told them they weren’t allowed to make any more of it, and burned all the order forms. She’s furious at them anyways. They didn’t get as many O.W.L.s as she expected.”

O.W.L.s was the abbreviation for Ordinary Wizarding Levels, the examinations Hermione, Ron, and Harry, would be taking not this year but next. Of course, Fred and George were two years older, and had taken them the previous year.

“And there was this big row,” Ginny said, “because Mum wants them to go into the Ministry of Magic like Dad, and they told her all they want to do is open a joke shop.”

They were halfway up the stairs, and a door on the second landing opened. Percy Weasley, whom Hermione had barely seen, poked his bespectacled face out of the crack, looking rather annoyed.

“Hi, Percy!” said Harry, in a friendly voice.

“Oh hello, Harry,” said Percy. “I was wondering who was making all the noise. I’m trying to work in here, you know — I’ve got a report to finish for the office — and it’s rather difficult to concentrate when people keep thundering up and down the stairs.”

“We’re not thundering,” said Ron irritably. “We’re walking. Sorry if we’ve disturbed the top-secret workings of the Ministry of Magic.”

Ever the peacekeeper, Harry quickly said “what are you working on?”

“A report for the Department of International Magical Cooperation, we’re trying to standardize couldron thickness. Some of these foreign imports are just a shade too thin — leakages have been increasing at a rate of almost three percent a year —”

Ron interrupted him, “that’ll change the world, that report will,” he said sarcastically, “front page of The Daily Prophet, I expect, cauldron leaks.”

Percy looked a little embarrassed, but recovered quickly, “You might sneer, Ron, but unless some sort of international law is imposed we might well find the market flooded with flimsy, shallow-bottomed products that seriously endanger—”

“Yeah, yeah, all right,” said Ron, cutting him off again, and then started back up the stairs before Percy could respond. Percy’s door closed behind them, as the gaggle of young witches and wizards moved upwards. Hermione heard shouts from the kitchen below again, and guessed that the row had started up again.

Ron’s room was at the very top of the house, and featured quidditch posters, much like Ginny’s, although you could see a bit more wall through them. There was also a toad in a fish tank, three camp beds in addition to Ron’s bed, and a small bird cage that contained a very small, very loud, very excited, owl.

“Shut up, Pig!” said Ron, in the direction of the cage, and then, “Fred and George are in here with us, because Bill and Charlie are in their room,” he said, clearly directed at Harry. “Percy gets to keep his room all to himself because he’s got to work.”

“Er— why are you calling that owl Pig?” Harry said, changing the subject. Hermione reflected that he was very good and deflecting the Weasleys many arguments.

“Because he’s being stupid, it’s proper name is Pigwidgeon.” said Ginny, not quite making eye contact with Harry.

“Yeah, and that’s not a stupid name at all. Ginny named him,” was Ron still looking exclusively at Harry, or was she imagining it? “She reckons it’s sweet. And I tried to change it, but it was too late, he won’t answer to anything else. So now he’s Pig. I’ve got to keep him up here because he annoys Errol and Hermes. He annoys me too, come to that.”

The owl was rather noisy, but Hermione noticed Ron looking at him affectionately out of the corner of his eye, despite his complaints.

“Where’s Crookshanks?” Harry said, turning to her.

“Out in the garden, I expect,” she said. “He likes chasing gnomes. He’s never seen any before.”

“Percy’s enjoying work, then?” Harry turned back to Ron, and sat down absentmindedly on one of the beds, very much as though he felt extremely at home.

“Enjoying it? I don’t think he’d come home if Dad didn’t make him. He’s obsessed. Just don’t get him on the subject of his boss. According to Mr. Crouch… as I was saying to Mr. Crouch… Mr. Crouch is of the opinion… Mr. Crouch was telling me… They’ll be announcing their engagement any day now.”

Hermione started to open her mouth to ask what in the world was wrong with that, but thought better of it. Instead she said “Have you had a good summer, Harry? Did you get our food parcels and everything?”

She’d sent Harry rather a lot of treats for his birthday, but his letters tended to be sparse.

“Yeah, thanks a lot,” said Harry. “They saved my life, those cakes.” Hermione felt herself puff up with pride, just a little, that she had been able to help even in a small way.

“And have you heard from — ?” Ron started casually, and all at once Hermione realized who he must mean and shot him the most meaningful look she could muster. He really could be quite the idiot.

Ron was trying to ask after Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black. Ordinarily, this might be a fine question, but this situation was far from ordinary. Sirius was a (falsely) convicted murderer, and Harry and Hermione had helped him escape from the Ministry of Magic only last term. They’d meant to get his record cleared, but unfortunately, the true murderer (who turned out to have been in hiding as a rat, Ron’s rat in fact, for years) escaped at the last moment. So everyone in the wizarding world except for the three of them, and the headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore, still believed that Black was guilty. Everyone in the wizarding world, including Ginny Weasley, who was now looking curiously from Ron to Harry to see what she’d missed.

“I think they’ve stopped arguing,” Hermione piped up, because as lovely as her day had been with Ginny, she wasn’t sure it was such a good idea to try to explain all of that just now. “Shall we go down and help your mum with dinner?”

Mrs. Weasley was in a towering temper, but she was finishing up dinner and everyone was pitching in to set up tables outside in the garden because, as she said “There’s just not room for eleven people in here!” They were quickly split up, and Hermione and Ginny got plates, while Ron and Harry were assigned silverware. Hermione didn’t much mind getting out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. So Ginny showed her where the plates were kept, and loaded up Hermione’s arms, and then her own, and they set out into the rapidly cooling evening air.

From the looks of things, Bill and Chair had been tasked with setting up the tables for dinner. Only, instead of merely placing the two ancient tables end to end on the grass so they could be set and readied for the meal, they were using magic to make them battle each other. In fact, the two eldest Weasley boys each had their wands out, and they were levitating the tables high above their heads, where they crashed into each other violently.

Ginny broke into a wild laughter.

Hermione took a deep breath, just as a leg was torn off of one of the tables, and then Percy Weasley’s head shot out of his bedroom window shouting “will you keep it down?!”

“Sorry, Perce,” said Bill, who did not look sorry, “How’re the cauldron bottoms coming on?”

“Very badly,” replied Percy, and with a slam, the window shut again. Bill and Charlie chuckled softly to each other as they finally righted the tables, and conjured a tablecoth.

The meal was even better than the the previous evening’s, but Hermione found she still felt rather quiet. She wondered, just a bit, what her own family was doing. Probably sitting down to dinner without her. She took a rather large bite of potatoes, trying not to think about her parents too much. Pulling herself out of her own thoughts, she looked up and forced herself to tune into the dinner conversation. To her left, Percy was talking to his father, with a definite air of pride, about work.

“… it’s extremely busy in our department just now, what with all the arrangements for the World Cup. We’re just not getting the support we need from the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Ludo Bagman—”

“I like Ludo,” said Mr. Weasley. “He was the one who got us such good tickets for the Cup! I did him a bit of a favor: His brother, Otto, got into a spot of trouble — a lawnmower with unnatural powers — I smoothed the whole thing over.”

“Oh Bagman’s likeable enough, of course, but how he ever got to be Head of Department…” Percy shook his head. “When I compare him to Mr. Crouch! I can’t see Mr. Crouch losing a member of our department and not trying to find out what’s happened to them. You realize Bertha Jorkins has been missing for other a month now? Went on holiday to Albania and never came back?”

“Yes, I was asking Ludo about that,” said Mr. Weasley, frowning. “He says Bertha’s gotten lost plenty of times before now — though I must say, if it was someone in my department…”

The two wizards continued to debate the intelligence of a witch it sounded as though neither of them knew personally, and for a moment Hermione found herself lost in thought again. So, the Ministry of Magic had an employee missing, what on earth could be going on? Then she noticed Percy was still speaking, only now he was staring at herself, Ron, and Harry, in a meaningful sort of way.

“As you know, we’ve got another big event to organize right after the World Cup. You know the one I’m talking about Father. The top-secret one.”

Ron rolled his eyes and muttered, “He’s been trying to get us to ask what that event is ever since he started work. Probably an exhibition of thick-bottomed cauldrons.” Then the talk turned to quidditch, and Mrs. Weasley’s complains about her eldest son’s fashion choices, and Hermione ate her chicken and ham pie in peace. Her ears perked up when Ron, who was seated in between herself and Harry, turned to Harry on his right and said very quietly, “So — have you heard from Sirius lately?”

“Yeah,” Harry said, just as quietly, “twice. He sounds okay.” There was a bit of an awkward pause, and Hermione could tell from the look on Harry’s face that something most definitely was not right, “I uh, wrote him yesterday. He might write back while I’m here.” She suddenly wished that they were already back at school, and there was no World Cup at all, because she had no idea when she would manage to be alone with her friends, and she had a few questions for them, and an awful lot of things she was determined to get to the bottom of.

 

Deconstruction, Notes On The Source Text

Ok beautiful people, pull up a chair. Harry and Hermione are finally together, and we need to talk about some of this shit. This is going to be a theme for the next few chapters, and while I don’t want to hammer away at the same point week after week, we do need to dig in a bit here.

Obviously, in the original series, Harry is the main character. That’s fine, that’s all well and good. Ron and Hermione, then, are secondary characters. They’re his two best friends. They’re the ones who are always helping him out. They’re also different enough that it gives readers more options for characters to see themselves in, if they don’t identify with Harry. And we, I think, accept that Harry and Ron are slightly closer than Harry and Hermione. Harry and Ron share a dorm room, after all, and their shared gender puts them together a lot more often. They also met just slightly sooner. You may recall that back in book one, Harry and Ron become friends right away, but they don’t make friends with Hermione until Halloween. So fine, Harry and Ron are closer. But the narrative tells us again and again how it is the three of them, the three of them getting into and out of scrapes, the three of them depending on each other, the three of them.

The narrative also tells us that Hermione is a bossy know-it-all. God, she’s always volunteering information when it’s asked for and generally being annoying. She is, first and foremost, a girl who talks too much.

Did you notice anything in chapter five? Because let me tell you, it was extremely hard to write from Hermione’s perspective, and I’m going to tell you why. Hermione barely speaks. She’s not out of the room, she’s never out of the room, the three of them are very much together. Only, it’s Ron Weasley and Harry Potter who are excitedly catching up. Hermione Granger? She’s just there. Much like in real life, girls who talk “too much” turn out to be extremely quiet, compared to the boys that won’t shut up.

Hermione has a rich and complex life. Hermione is smart, driven, witty, and does plenty “off camera” that the boys only notice later. When you read these books specifically looking for Hermione, you will find her. But her two best friends, Harry and Ron, they don’t seem to give a shit. She’s a plot device only. She has a total of five lines in this entire chapter, even though she is in the same room as Harry nearly all the time. Here are the things Hermione Granger actually says, aloud, in chapter five:

  1. An attempt to get Harry and Ron out of an uncomfortable situation.
  2. A further push when stupid Ron doesn’t get it.
  3. An answer to a question about where her cat is.
  4. An inquiry into how Harry’s summer was.
  5. And then she gets them out of another awkward situation!

That’s it.

And let’s zoom in on item number four for a minute, because Harry Potter is an asshole and a terrible friend and I can’t let this go.

Hermione Granger sent Harry Potter a care package for his birthday, which was several weeks ago. She sent it by owl, despite living in the muggle world and not owning an owl herself. Harry Potter does own an owl, and has used it to correspond with his godfather, at the very least, this summer. And yet, Hermione has to ask if he received her package. Does that seem a bit odd to you? Because that means that not only did it not occur to him to write her a chatty note for no reason, it didn’t occur to him to send her a quick “thanks for the cake, you’re really saving my life here buddy!” type note.

Harry Potter is an asshole.

And now, here is Hermione, nicely inquiring as to whether or not he received her package, and by the way how was his summer? And Harry does manage to squeeze out a “thanks a lot” in her general direction, but just as it never occurred to him to drop her a note, it never occurs to him to say “oh my summer wasn’t so bad, how was yours Hermione?” Nobody gives a flying fuck how Hermione Granger’s summer was, and especially not her best friend, Harry Potter.

Harry Potter is an asshole.

Harry Potter knows what it is to feel isolated in the muggle world and cut off from other wizards. He knows Hermione Granger also lives with her muggle family during the holidays. He knows all of this. And he does not care. Not only does he not care, he cares so little that it seems to have not even crossed his mind. At the end of last term, it was Hermione who helped him rescue Sirius, who he had this intense bonding experience with, but he doesn’t give a damn how her summer went. Could she have been lonely? Could she have been traumatized? Could she have been worried about Sirius? Who cares! He got his damn cake, and then he went back to sulking.

Harry Potter is an asshole.

And you know, I’m angry about this. I’m more angry about Harry Potter being an asshole than I am about Ron Weasley being an asshole (Ron Weasley is also an asshole). With Ron, it’s part of his characterization, he’s an insensitive jock who can’t be bothered to worry about other people. He says stupid hurtful things and he doesn’t mean to and we’re all exasperated with him. I don’t necessarily like it, but at least we’re all clear on where we stand. But Harry is another matter. Harry is supposed to be a hero, and he’s supposed to be a hero who, as was so aptly pointed out in the comments on the last post, HAS ONE BIG SUPER POWER AND THAT SUPER POWER IS LOVE. Harry Potter has been abused and neglected and has spent most of his life being so lonely it would break your heart. And now he has two best friends, and we’re all very happy for him that he’s finally found a crew to hang with.

Only he doesn’t seem to care. I mean, he cares when they don’t appear to be fussing over him enough, as in the second book when he doesn’t receive any letters from his friends and worries, like I think any tweenager would, that maybe they don’t like him anymore. But he can ignore Hermione, and she is not allowed to worry about it. Hermione Granger doesn’t have time to worry about the fact that Harry Potter obviously doesn’t give two shits about her, because she’s busy helping him out, solving mysteries, and generally holding the entire narrative up.

On a related note, anyone who hasn’t yet read this excellent piece on Hermione Granger should probably do so immediately.

And so, here we are in chapter five. Our “bossy know-it-all” character is completely silent all throughout dinner. And so we get into the classic problem of showing versus telling. The narrator tells us that Hermione is one way, but it shows us a very different character. When I read this book actually looking for Hermione, I see a young girl who is bright, driven, and extremely quiet and introspective. She’s adept at ignoring the insensitivity of her two closest friends, because she has to be. She’s a muggle born witch who is in process of losing all of her muggle loved ones, and desperate to succeed in the wizarding world.

And she is breaking my heart.

Hermione Granger Chapter 4

Meta Stuff

Ok, so I’m jumping in early because I went and disappeared for a bunch of months and it feels weird to not acknowledge that and just jump into a fic that you may or may not remember. So hi, my name’s Katherine! I’m doing a weird project that is half deconstruction and half fanfic, except is it even fanfic? Basically, I’m retelling the entire story of Goblet Of Fire from the perspective of Hermione Granger, chapter by chapter, because Hermione is amazing and she deserves it.

Many months ago, I had some personal and professional setbacks that forced me to have to take several weeks off in a row. Then, J.K. Rowling released a lot of culturally appropriative stuff on Pottermore, and I was very upset, and honestly thinking about Harry Potter universe was the last thing I wanted to do. Then I had to move. Then life happened, and none of it is particularly interesting or dramatic (and the parts that are slightly dramatic I’m not really sharing right now) and all of that is to say I’m really sorry and I’m here now and how has everyone been?

Alright, let’s go!

Hermione Granger and The Goblet of Sexism

Chapter Four

The Burrow / Back To The Burrow

 

Tea with Mrs. Weasley turned out to be less awkward than Hermione had feared, primarily because Mrs. Weasley had no problem doing the majority of the talking. She talked about the upcoming school term (“I do hope those twins of mine manage to apply themselves to their studies for once!”) and she talked about her plans for dinner (“really, as long as there’s enough potatoes, everybody’s happy…”) and she talked about quidditch (“Arthur and I used to go to all the matches together, of course these days I’m rather happy to stay home and have an empty house for once. Still, sometimes I do miss the excitement.”) Hermione sipped her tea and nodded politely. Partly it was just politeness, partly it was that she was always hungry to hear more from the wizarding world. Looking around the Weasley’s disordered kitchen, she reflected on the fact that, as out of place as she felt in the muggle world, she felt rather out of place here, too.

She ran her fingers along the surface of the scrubbed wooden table, as Mrs. Weasley regaled her with yet another story of a Quidditch World Cup of years gone by. She’d completely lost track of which team was which, but she didn’t have the heart to speak up.

“Good of your parents, for being understanding about the importance of quidditch. I mean, what with them being muggles and all…”

The mention of her parents gave her a little jolt.

“Well,” she took a deep breath, “thankfully muggles are not all idiots. And as my parents follow football, it was actually rather simple to explain the cultural significance.”

“Oh!” Mrs. Weasley looked slightly startled, “Oh yes of course. I didn’t mean to say…. And anyways I do suppose it varies a bit, just as it does with wizards.”

“And anyway,” Hermione simply couldn’t help herself, “As I’ve been going to Hogwarts for three years now, my parents have heard rather a lot about the magical world. Muggles though they may be, they still manage to take a bit of interest in my life.” She hoped her voice didn’t sound too testy, but probably it did.

At that moment, Ginny bounded, arms swinging, back into the room.

“Room’s all set, mum.” she said casually.

Mrs. Weasley stood up, and dusted her hands on her long, flowing, wizard’s robes. It was the kind of absent minded gesture that one does not because one’s hands are dirty, but out of a sort of long standed habit. It was as though she was pulling herself out of her thoughts. She smiled at Hermione warmly, then turned briskly to Ginny “well then!” she said “I think you ought to show our guest where she’ll be sleeping, so as she feels at home.”

Ginny’s bedroom was off of a landing on a steep, narrow, winding, staircase. The staircase was nearly in the center of the house, off of the kitchen in one direction and the sitting room in the other, so it was a bit of a high traffic area. The little bedroom itself was only half a floor up, so it wasn’t exactly afforded much privacy. Her brothers rooms, Hermione thought, must all be further upstairs.

“Here we are!” Ginny made an exaggerated gesture of grand entrance as she opened the door, “Le Chateau De Ginevra Weasley!”

Hermione blinked, “But I didn’t know your full name was Ginevra!”

Ginny winced slightly, “yeah, after one of my great grandmothers. The Weasleys do love their old fashioned names.”

Ginny’s room was a shock to the senses. In the first place, it looked as though “readying it for company” had meant shoving some bits of parchment and odds and ends under the bed, and setting up a camp bed in the center of the room, and nothing more. The corners were full of clutter, Ginny’s battered school trunk was open and unpacked, and it looked as though an old patchwork quilt had just been hastily thrown in the general direction of the unmade bed.

In the second place, it looked as though Ginny had had a similar problem to Hermione’s problem. That is, the room had been painted (or perhaps magiced!) almost the exact same shade of baby pink as Hermione’s own childhood bedroom. Instead of changing the wall color, however, Ginny had dealt with the issue by obsessively covering nearly every inch of the wall. There were plenty of posters, both of quidditch teams and a popular band called The Weird Sisters, as well as newspaper clippings and personal photographs. This, Hermione thought, would have been overwhelming all on it’s own. But as the photographs and posters were all wizarding photographs and posters, the vast majority of them were moving. It created a dizzying effect. On one side of the room, the quidditch team the Holyhead Harpies was racing across a clear, blue, sky. On the other side, the lead singer of The Weird Sisters sauntered to the edge of the stage and gave the crowd a look as though she was contemplating a stage dive. And near the room’s only window, just above a tiny writing desk that looked a hundred years old, there was a collection of photographs of Ginny and her friends at Hogwarts. The group of girls appeared over and over, and Hermione could see that the pictures had been taken over the course of Ginny’s time at Hogwarts, because in some of them they were taller or had different hairstyles. But every image showed smiles. There they were, beaming at the camera, and sometimes laughing.

Hermione thought of her old muggle friends. When she’d started at Hogwarts, she’d stopped talking to them. She just didn’t know how she could keep it from them, so she didn’t. Of course, she did have friends at Hogwarts, but she’d always felt distant from the girls she shared a dormitory with, and while Ron and Harry were great friends, they’d never taken photographs like this…

Ginny must have noticed her looking around the room, taking in the hundreds of images. “My mum chose the pink,” she crinkled up her nose, “and I hate it, but there’s no use discussing it with her.”

“Oh.” Hermione said, “I’d think it would be easy, with magic…”

“Not everything,” Ginny said, “is easy with magic. Mum had six sons, and all the time was dreaming about the day she could have a daughter with a pink room and braids in her hair and all that rubbish.”

Hermione frowned, “Yes, that would make things rather difficult.”

Ginny flopped onto the bed, “It’s absolutely maddening, because honestly, she isn’t exactly girly herself. But she wants me to be this pristine little angel of femininity! She doesn’t want me playing quidditch, she doesn’t want me dating…”

“But your mother likes quidditch!”

“I know. And I do it anyways, but I have to sneak. And I hate it, but what else can I do?”

Hermione sat down on the camp bed that had been made up for her, “you really don’t think you can discuss it with her, not at all?”

“Dunno.” she sighed audibly, “My mum, she doesn’t really leave much room for discussion.”

Hermione nodded “My mother has always been so easy to talk to, “only it’s like the longer I’m at Hogwarts the less we understand each other. I know she’s trying to be supportive, I mean I think that she means well, but it’s just completely different worlds and I don’t know how to deal with it anymore. It’s driving me mad, but then of course that makes me feel guilty.”

“Was it weird? Being raised by muggles, I mean?”

“Well, how could I know? I’ve never been raised by anyone else.”

As they sat and talked, Hermione found that, for the first time all summer, she was beginning to relax. Tension is such a strange thing, because sometimes you don’t realize how much of it there is in you until you start to let it go. She hadn’t realized, for example, that her shoulders were sore, but she felt it now. She leaned back onto the camp bed, and stared up at the ceiling, which was the one point of reprieve from all of the action of the posters and photographs. She took a deep breath in, and when she exhaled, she found she was speaking again.

“And sometimes I wish that I had different parents, wizard parents, you know. Not only because of all the muggle-born nonsense, but because then things would just be simpler and maybe I could just live my life and I wouldn’t have to spend my holidays pretending to be a muggle all the time. And I hate myself for wishing it, because I’m lucky, really. I have great parents! Magic can be really scary for a lot of muggles, but they’ve been for it from day one. Only they don’t have any idea what it’s like and they don’t know who I am anymore and I don’t know what to do about it.”

Ginny grabbed a pillow, hugged it, and rested her chin on it. “But mate,” she said, staring off at nothing, “I don’t think you’re parents would understand who you are even if they were wizards. At least, mine sure as hell don’t.”

***

As the day wore on, Hermione found herself becoming more comfortable at the burrow that she had ever imagined she would be. Part of it was, yes, the tangible relief of being back in the magical world at last. But part of it was the casual comfortableness of the odd old house, and part of it was Ginny’s friendliness, too. In so many ways, Ginny was completely different than Hermione. She was athletic, she was gregarious, and she seemed to lack a lot of the nervousness and awkwardness that Hermione often felt. Growing up with all those brothers had meant that Ginny had had to learn how to hold her own, in a spitting match or in an argument, and she had risen to the challenge. More than anything, Hermione envied her easy confidence.

But they also had a great deal in common. Ginny also loved learning, and found a lot of her education to be fascinating. It turned out they also had has similar senses of humor, which was a happy surprise. When she thought on it, Hermione realized that she hadn’t really had girls as friends since her Hogwarts letter arrived in the mail. On the one hand that made her sad, and she found herself wondering about Tanya and Sarah, and if they were angry with her that she had conveniently forgotten to write them from school (it wasn’t hard since you couldn’t send muggle post from Hogwarts or Hogsmead). But then she was swept up in the relief of chatting easily with someone who didn’t mock her for reading books, all while scrubbing the big wooden table or feeding the chickens.

Later that afternoon, Mrs. Weasley was putting the finishing touches on dinner. The girls were in the cramped walk-in pantry, supposedly organizing and tidying it, but they were mostly talking. Ginny still had a bit of a crush on Hermione’s good friend, Harry Potter, but she was also beginning to feel like she might actually want to date a boy one day.

“Do be sensible Ginny,” Hermione said with kindness, “if he hasn’t shown an interest, is there any sense at all in waiting for him?”

Ginny looked lost in thought, and Hermione had just begun to wonder why in the world Mrs. Weasley stocked so many different dry goods when she could just as easily keep one thing (say, flour) and transfigure it as needed into anything at all the family wanted. Just then, she heard the kitchen door, which let out into the back garden, open. She jumped a little.

Ginny raised her eyebrows in Hermione’s direction. “I’m sure it’s just my damn brothers,” she said.

“Oh of course!” Hermione answered. She couldn’t think why she had jumped, perhaps it was just the way that everything sounds odd in a new place.

They filed out of the pantry, and in walked the Weasley boys. First came the twins, Fred and George, who were so much alike in both looks and personality that it often took Hermione a moment to tell which was which, even though she’d known them for years now. After them was a tall red haired young man that Hermione did not know, who reminded her a bit of Mr. Weasley, only younger and dressed entirely differently, in a mix of wizarding and muggle fashion which looked purposeful, rather than the messy hodgepodge she so often saw. Behind him came Ron, chatting with yet another stranger, this one stockier and very outdoorsy looking, though still clearly a Weasley through and through. The only one missing was Percy, who was older than the twins, and had graduated from Hogwarts the previous year.

“Allo Hermione!” George boomed cheerfully across the kitchen when he saw her, “our Ginny been showing you around, has she?”

Ron was debating something about quidditch fouls with the stockier Weasley (they looked rather a lot alike, truth be told) and didn’t seem to have noticed her standing in the kitchen at all.

“Don’t mind Ronald,” Fred said, grinning ear to ear, “he’s so excited about the damn world cup he can’t stop swooning over Krum.”

“Oy! Ronnie!” George said, “I think you have company.”

“No no, the calls in that match were bloody ridiculous….” Ron was saying to the other Weasley, and then he looked up, “Oh, Hermione. But I only invited you this morning, how in bloody hell did you get here so soon?”

She felt herself starting to blush.

Mrs. Weasley held a ladle in one hand, and her wand in the other, but she set them both down on the counter in a huff, “Now Ron,” she snapped, “that’s no way at all to greet your guest. Hermione dear I am thrilled to have you here, and so is Ronald, he’s just a rude child who can’t seem to get his head out of the wrong end of a broomstick.”

Ron’s mouth fell open.

“Now then, let me introduce you to my two eldest sons!”

The shorter and stockier one was Charlie, who worked with dragons in Romania. She remembered how, in their first year, she and Harry had helped smuggle an adolescent dragon into the care of some of his friends, and she smiled at him. The tall one was the eldest, Bill, and he worked for Gringots Bank. Hermione found him instantly fascinating, not so much because of his off the wall attire, but because he had been head boy at Hogwarts in his day, and yet he was so very different than Percy that there was no comparison. She resolved to remember that fact the next time Ron or Harry compared her, unfavorably, to Percy.

“But where is…” Hermione started, looking at the crowd of freckled faces as though she’d missed someone, then she stopped herself, “oh hang on, that’s right, Percy’s certainly at the ministry?”

“That’s right,” Mrs. Weasley answered her, beaming, “but he and Arthur will be home directly, I’d expect.”

Half an hour later, they were indeed home. Dinner was a lively affair, and the kitchen was so cramped they could all hardly breath. Hermione mostly listened, and ate quietly, while the Weasley banter happened all around her. Ginny was aggressively cheeky with her brothers, mocked Ron’s flying skills mercilessly. Ron had hardly said a word to Hermione, which felt odd. It suddenly occurred to her that while she considered herself and Ron to be close friends, she had never spent much time with him without Harry, and she wasn’t sure how exactly to relate to him without Harry there as a buffer.

“So Hermione,” Charlie said, with his friendly smile that was so much like Ron’s, “how’re you looking forward to your fourth year at Hogwarts?”

“Well,” said Hermione, setting down her glass of water, “I am rather excited to get back to the castle, since you mention it. There’s quite a lot to learn, and I do hope that I’ve spent enough of the summer holidays preparing, given that we take our Ordinary Wizarding Levels in our fifth year, there isn’t really time to waste…”

“Yes, and we’ve heard all about your stunt with the time turners!” Bill chimed in, merrily, “I don’t think even I would have had the guts to try that!” he chuckled to himself a little.

The previous year, Hermione had applied for special permission — and received it — to use a powerful time traveling device known as a time turner, for the purpose of taking twice as many elective classes as her peers. She had enjoyed the greater variety of subject matter, but the physical and mental effects of days much longer than 24 hours had proven too taxing, even for her.

“Yes well,” Hermione wasn’t quite sure if Bill was congratulating her, or mocking her, for her efforts, “I’ve had to drop a few lessons, of course. Divination was an easy choice, as the subject is absolutely meaningless, but I’ve also had to let go of muggle studies and—”

“And your muggle born so you didn’t need to take it in the first place!” Ron piped up, his mouth full, an old look of exasperation on his face.

Hermione felt her mouth get very small, and despite Ron being the one who had invited her to the burrow, she found that he was turning out to be the most annoying part of being there, at least so far. “Yes well,” she fought to keep her voice from rising with her temper, “As it happens, it was actually rather useful for me to learn what people like you think of people like me.”

The silence that followed was deafening.

 

Deconstruction, Notes on The Source Text

Chapter four is the last chapter (at least for now) entirely without Harry Potter in it. That is to say, Harry and Hermione are in different locations, and doing separate things. Hermione arrives at the burrow, though Harry won’t show up until the following day and the following chapter. For my purposes, this separation turns out to be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it means not just telling the story from Hermione’s perspective, but writing original plot because she can’t just deactivate every time Harry isn’t around. There are huge gaps where we get no information about Hermione, and keeping her actions and experiences both in character and matching up with the framework of the story is, well, hard. This is, to some degree, a fiction writing exercise for me. Most of my writing is autobiographical, and I actually find writing things that didn’t actually happen IRL to be extremely hard.

And it’s a blessing because (and we’re going to talk about this a whole lot more with Chapter 5, don’t you worry!) Harry turns out to not be very nice to Hermione. In fact, a lot of the time, he more or less ignores her.

So what is Harry up to in Chapter four? Well, mostly just waiting to get picked up by the Weasleys, and then actually getting picked up by the Weasleys. The whole process, of course, needs to be complicated a bit by how awful the Dursleys are. And as we discussed in Chapter Three, there’s still plenty of fatphobia to deal with.

The Dursleys are a family that is deeply fearful of magic. The parents are abusive, vindictive, and mean, and their son is a bully poised to follow in their footsteps. But, to some degree, perhaps they have a point? The magical world is one shrouded in secrecy (they literally have a law about staying secret) and yet also a world that plucks up “muggle born” witches and wizards without a thought. It might be unfair for Aunt Petunia to hate Harry’s mother, her (dead) sister for being a “freak,” but that doesn’t change the fact that losing her sister to the magical world had to be extremely distressing. As far as we can tell from the books, muggle born witches and wizards integrate fully into wizarding society, and that has to be awkward, or worse, for the families they leave in the muggle world.

Like his parents, Dudley Dursley hates and fears magic. And just like with his parents, Dudley’s negative feelings towards the supernatural are treated by the narrative as further proof of his awfulness. But let’s have a look…

“Dudley, on the other hand, looked somehow diminished. This was not because the diet was at last taking effect, but due to fright. Dudley had emerged from his last encounter with a fully-grown wizard with a curly pig’s tail poking out of the seat of his trousers, and Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had had to pay for its removal at a private hospital in London. It wasn’t altogether surprising, therefore, that Dudley kept running his hand nervously over his backside, and walking sideways from room to room, so as not to present the same target to the enemy.”

Let’s never forget how Dudley Dursley received that pig’s tail. This is way back in book one, which I don’t have handy at the moment, but I did recently watch the movie and anyways I know the story. It was given to him by Hagrid, illegally, not because of anything Dudley did, but as punishment for his father. This happened when Dudley was elven years old. He was eleven years old, his father said something that upset a near-giant wizard, and the wizard retaliated by trying to turn Dudley into a pig. Hagrid tried to turn Dudley into a pig because Dudley is fat, ha ha. Only it didn’t work. Hagrid surmised that only the tail worked because Dudley was already so much like a pig, AKA so fat, ha ha. And then Hagrid tells Harry not to tell anyone, because he’s not allowed to do magic, and they go on their merry way.

Grand, just grand.

The narrative wants us to find this all hilarious, because Dudley is fat (just like a pig!) so we are allowed to laugh at him. This is lazy writing, and it’s being used to quite literally dehumanize a character who may well be a jerk, but is still also you know, a kid.

The quote focuses on the fact that they Dursleys had to pay to have the tail removed, but Dudley had to actually have that tail surgically removed. It may have been traumatic. He probably has a scar. His parents have already taught him to fear the magical world, and now on top of that, he is intimately aware that they wizard people can just change his body in whatever way they want and leave it like that, forcing him to undergo painful procedures to make his body “right” again.

Damn straight Dudley Dursley is afraid of wizards.

Ok, so the Weasleys arrive but they have to break the electric fireplace to get in. We get more comments about how hilarious it is that Dudley is clutching his bottom. Then Fred Weasley accidentally-on-purpose drops some sweets in the living room.

Dudley is, remember, starving. He gets past his fear and eats one of the sweets. His tongue swells up, and grows to about a foot long. Mr. Weasley wants to use magic to “sort him out” but of course the Dursleys deeply fear any more magical involvement. All of this is basically slapstick at this point. It’s supposed to be funny because it’s physical comedy, but it’s also supposed to be funny because we aren’t supposed to take the Dursleys fears seriously here.

Because Harry was raised in the muggle world, he is our proxy in the magical world. We look through his eyes as he is continually (and sometimes senselessly) surprised and delighted by the many wonders of magic. Witches and wizards seem to have separate everything and throughout the series we slowly discover all of these things with Harry. But when he’s with the Dursleys, we are members of the wizarding world, looking in on the muggle world. And we look in with contempt and pity. To Harry, and to the narrative, it is obvious that this is a mere (magical) practical joke, the sort that happens all the time, and can be quickly and easily remedied. The Dursleys are being ridiculous for overreacting, and the only explanation is their prejudice against wizards.

But all three of the Dursleys are surely wondering what Dudley’s next operation will be like, and will he be able to eat at all, and how in the world will they ever explain this when they take him to hospital. Mr. Weasley offers to help, but why should they believe a wizard? Perhaps he’ll just make it worse! And they can’t handle worse, they can’t even handle this.

I never thought I’d be defended the Dursleys, but yeah, here I am.

Anyways, and in the midst of it all, we get the horrible goodbye. That is, Harry says “bye then” to the Dursleys, and they try to ignore it.

The Dursleys are horrible people, they do not care about Harry, they do not want to see him, and they do not wish him well. They are housing him purely out of obligation, and to me one of the most shocking things about the narrative is that Harry is as functional as he is after being raised in such a toxic environment. They are verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive. Given all of that, it makes a certain amount of sense that we wouldn’t be attempting to empathize with them. And yet, I can’t help but notice that we don’t have to look far to see some real motivations for some of their fears, motivations that make more sense than simply “we had magic because we love being normal.”

In the next chapter, Harry will get cozy at the burrow. Of course, we’ve already been there with Hermione. Away from the pressure put on him by his biological family, Harry will relax into himself, and becoming a friendly, outgoing, more or less likable, sort of kid. He’ll also be quickly embraced by the entire Weasley clan, each of them taking an individual interest in him. I can’t help but notice that Hermione’s entrance into burrow life is rather more complicated. This isn’t all my doing, either. We’ll talk about this more next week, but rather than being chatted up by each family member in turn, Hermione is cast as simply “one of the two girls” and will be mostly silent. As we begin to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione, all interacting together, I have a lot of questions and thoughts about what the narrative shows us about our heroine, versus what it tells us about her.

Dragonsdawn: Through The Eyes of Children

Last time, the Pern colony officially passed the point of no returning to space, the planet continued to be as advertised, and the process of bringing a full ecosystem online hit some bumps along the way, as various species of plants (like the cucumber family) and animals aren’t adapting as well as had been hoped, or are being actively attacked by the Pernese ecosystem.

And Sorka’s fire lizard was the talk of the town, Sallah wrestled with how to get Avril in trouble for her greed, Avril continued with her plan on how to get off the rock with enough gems to live in luxury, and Pern mentioned that it was the kind of world that had earthquakes.

Dragonsdawn: Part One: Content Notes: Speciesism, Anti-transhumanist sentiment

We’re picking up into a chapter (an ebook chapter, anyway), after the status reports, with Sorka noticing what seems to be puffs of fire coming from her bronze as the colony’s dragonets regularly go out and keep the wherries away from the chickens and other possible wherry prey. Everyone else is impressed with the tactical and team coordination abilities of the dragonets, with open speculation that the dragonets are communicating with each other, even though there’s no visible signs of that. So the scientists come by to talk to Sorka, who believes the bronze is the leader of the assault team. And has strong opinions about whether the dragonets are friends or pets (friends). The scientists ask for the notes that Sorka has been keeping about feeding habits and the size of Duke, when she mentions them. Then, there’s this:

“Really, you know, this is a fascinating evolution. Especially if those plankton eaters the dolphins report could represent a common ancestor for the tunnel snakes and dragonets.”
Mairi was surprised. “Tunnel snakes and dragonets?”

I’m also interested in this, but not because they have a common ancestor, but because they’re calling them tunnel snakes. so, apparently even the colonists have forgotten that snakes generally don’t have limbs. Tunnel lizards, I would believe, but not snakes. Especially as they are described:

“Yes, an aquatic eellike ancestor, in fact. With six limbs. The first pair -” He pointed at the dragonet still clutching his morsel in his front pincers. “-originally were nets for catching. See the action of the front claw against the stationary back pair? The dragonets dropped the net in favor of three digits. They opted for wings instead of stabilizing middle fins, while the hind pair are for propulsion. The dry-land adaptation, our tunnel snake, was to make the front pair diggers, the middle set remained balancers, especially when they have food in the front pair, and the rear limbs are for steering or holding on.”

So they’re hexapods, not snakes, not really. And considering they are considered pests and things that need to be killed or shooed away, I would have assumed the natural name for them would be “hexes”, given the etymology. But I’m not writing this, so I don’t count.

The scientists are looking for a clutch and ask if Sorka knows where one is, as well as the behavior of the older dragonets regarding protecting and imprinting of the hatchlings. And to see whether or not Sean would help them.

Sorka regarded the zoologist for a long moment. He had always kept his word to her, and he had been very good about Duke that first day. She decided that she could trust him, but she was also aware of his high rank in Landing, and what he might be able to do for Sean.
“If you promise, promise – and I’d vouch for you, too – that his family gets one of the first horses, he’ll do just about anything for you.”
“Sorka!” Mairi was embarrassed by her daughter’s proposal. The girl spent entirely too much time with that boy and was learning some bad habits from him. But to her amazement, Pol smiled cheerfully and patted Sorka’s arm.
“Now, now, Mairi, your daughter has good instincts. Barter is already practiced as an exchange system on Pern, you know.” He regarded Sorka with proper solemnity. “He’s one of the Connells, is he not?” When she nodded solemnly, he went on briskly. “In point of fact, this is the first name on the list to receive equines. Or oxen, if they prefer.”

I don’t quite understand why there is such revulsion at striking deals, since there’s no money to facilitate exchange. If it’s about currying favors with the scientists, well, that spirit of communal cooperation between people with diverse skill sets is pretty much what the whole colony needs to be successful. If it’s because there’s some overarching desire to stamp out the idea of power differentials and get everyone into a nice socialist paradise, then the whole idea of “everyone gets their own piece of land and all the products they can coax from it” has already pretty well screwed the socialist paradise idea completely. If, instead, it’s supposed to be about teaching Sorka that she has to be able to do everything herself, then her training should be more than just to join one guild. It very much seems like there are competing philosophical ideas here on Pern, and barring some sort of impending disaster, the colonies are set up to let those competing ideas try and succeed.

The bargain struck, Pol and Sorka go to find Sean and consult with him about eggs. Pol figures that he can treat Sean like any other opinionated young man, like the ones he had to deal with in academia before coming to Pern, and so, instead of offering a bonfire, which he knows won’t work, he gets Sean to talk about the horse he had back on Terra, and then promises Sean an identical horse from the eggs, thanks to his ability to genetically manipulate the eggs. Sean takes the offer, and soon after, Pol, Sean and Sorka are on a ship looking for clutches on the coastline, along with an extra scientist (that turns out to suffer from motion sickness) and Captain Tillek and his crew. Sean is also a little nauseous, but Sorka is happy and Tillek is giddy to be sailing. Sorka inquires about why Tillek’s map is mostly uncolored, and he explains it as a way of knowing what’s unexplored, and points out the additional markings he’s adding that indicate wind and current.

When the ship puts in for the night at a cove, Sean tells Sorka to go east while he goes west, which tweaks Tillek the wrong way about how he does it, but Pol stops Tillek from delivering a reprimand. Probably because Pol is more interested in the deal. But it’s nice to see there’s someone who wants to speak up for the women, even if he hasn’t done it yet. Sean and Sorka soon return with four possible clutch locations, two likely laid by greens, two by golds. Pol and Bay (the seasick scientist) are just looking for a couple specimens, one or two of each color, to bring back and analyze, rather than trying to cart off whole clutches. We’re also treated to a lecture from Pol about how poorly designed the dragonets are and how humans are even more poorly designed, with vulnerable brains and air pipes crossing food pipes in such a way that humans can choke. Tillek points out that other species have other problems, especially in the genitalia, to which Pol retorts:

“So you think having the playground between the sewers makes sense?”
“Didn’t say that, Pol,” Jim Tillek answered hurriedly with a glance at the two children, though neither were paying the adults much heed. “It’s a bit handier for us, though.”
“And more vulnerable. Oh my, oh my, there I go again, falling into the lecture attitude. But there are endless ways in which we humans could be profitably improved…”

Pol, I don’t think you know particularly well what getting hit between the legs is like for women. Or, for that matter, getting hit in the chest for anyone with child-nursing mammaries. If you want to talk vulnerabilities, there’s plenty to go around for every body type.

Continuing on.

“But we can’t do much yet, of course, with the laws that the Pure Humans forced through to prevent drastic changes.”
“Who’d want to?” Tillek asked with a frown.
“Not us,” Bay assured him hastily. “We don’t have that kind of need on this world. But I sometimes feel that the Pure Human Life Group was wrong to oppose alterations that would permit humans to use those water worlds in Ceti IV. Lungs exchanged for gills and webbing on hands and feet is not that great or blasphemous an adaptation. The fetus still goes through a similar stage in utero, and there’s good evidence for a more aquatic past for adults. Think how many planets would be open to humans if we weren’t so limited to land areas that met our gravitational and atmospheric requirements! Even if we could provide special enzymes for some of the dangerous gases. Cyanides have kept us out of so many places. Why…” She threw up her hands as words failed her.

Hrm. There was hopefully a very interesting discussion that happened between the Pure Humans and the transhumans about what makes humans humans and whether or not persons with those adaptations would be treated as having full human rights under the law of whether there would have been another series of angry conflicts regarding rights and privileged people and possible slavery. In the best case, the Pure Humans passed through a bill that said “no, you don’t get to alter humans unless you pass bills that say the altered humans are still humans and will not be discriminated against at all.” In the worst, the Pure Humans passed the bill to ensure that only unaltered humans would be called humans, showing their speciesist selves to their most xenophobic, and preventing the discussion from happening in the first place, condemning everyone to yet another iteration of the “we hate and want to try and subjugate those who are different than us” bullshit.

The plot continues with Sean getting up very early to sneak off and Sorka following after Sean leaves the cave. Sorka almost trips over the cache in a daydream about wanting to find the most beautiful spot, and almost gets so distracted by the hatching dance to get the egg she swipes back to Bay. Having managed to get things in the right place at the right time, Bay ends up Impressing a gold, and then Sean comes back to camp with two dragonet corpses in tow. Everyone settles in to food, having achieved the mission they intended.

The narrative is about to shift characters again, so here’s a good stopping point. We’ll pick up with the Avril plot next time.

Dragonsdawn: An Origin Story

Welcome, welcome! Since Moreta and Nerilka, we’ve advanced two years to 1988. We’ve gone through two distinct time periods, the Ninth Pass and the Sixth Pass, where some things are different, but a lot is depressingly the same, varying only in matter of degree rather than with one time period having something and the other lacking it. Let’s see if this book has much of the same, or is actually going to be different.

The beginning of the book contains maps, of the kind that would be used in Ninth Pass Pern, despite the story being set in the very origins of the planet. I suspect this is one of those signals meant to say “Yes, this is a Pern novel, don’t worry,” as the structure has shifted again, back to the original form given in Dragonflight, with three Parts instead of chapter designations. The electronic version I’m using has chapter breaks, but the actual text of the book doesn’t explicitly say “Chapter $foo” when those breaks are reached. So with this story, the breaks may not be at official chapter points, but at whatever point in the narrative I think a post has gone on too long or when my bullshit capacity has been reached.

Dragonsdawn, Part One: Content Notes: Gender and Race stereotypes, ablism

Part One is titled “Landing”, and the first line we receive is about probe reports arriving, from someone named Telgar reporting to someone named Benden.

That said, within the first paragraph, there are two named women (Sallah Telgar and Emily Boll) and one named man (Paul Benden), and the two women converse about something other than the man. That’s good. Bechdel-Wallace Test passed. What’s bad is that the man is the fleet admiral and the two women are subordinate officers.

This fleet, the Pern Colonial Expedition, is the culmination of nearly two hundred years of work from the original recommendation from the Exploration and Evaluation team. They’ve also been flying for about fifteen years from their departure point at this juncture of the narrative, which is where we finally receive in-text information that Pern is the third planet of the star Rukbat, whose entire system is surrounded by an Oort cloud of space rocks. This is all in the Sagittarian Sector, so we should probably guess that this planet is orbiting one of the many stars in the constellation Sagittarius, were one looking at it from Terra. The spoiler data of previous volumes is finally starting to stop being spoilers. There are three ships in the expedition – the Yokohama, the Bahrain, and the Buenos Aires. Two cities and a country, because naming consistency is unnecessary, apparently.

Before too much longer, Telgar, Benden, and Boll have a Keroon, as well, and I fully expect the name-dropping to continue fast and furious. While we wait for that, there’s also an introduction to the mission itself.

The trip was one-way–it had to be, considering the cost of getting over six thousand colonists and supplies to such an out-of-the-way sector of the galaxy. Once they reached Pern the fuel left in the great transport ships would be enough only to achieve and maintain a synchronous orbit above their destination while people and cargo were shuttled down to the surface. To be sure, they had homing capsules that would reach the headquarters of the Federated Sentient Planets in a mere five years, but to a retired naval tactician like Paul Benden, a fragile homing capsule did not offer much in the way of an effective backup. The Pern expedition was composed of committed and resourceful people who had chosen to eschew the high-tech societies of the Federated Sentient Planets. They expected to manage on their own. And though their destination in the Rukbat system was rich enough in ores and minerals to support an agriculturally based society, it was poor enough and far enough from the center of the galaxy that it should escape the greed of the technocrats.

This is almost a basket-of-Whatfruit level of NOPE going on here. A highly technically advanced interplanetary federation having enough people who want to play at the pre-tech life…that’s actually believable. As is gathering enough people to basically go on a one-way trip to another planet to live what they think of as a more simple life. I’m having trouble, though, with the idea that these colonists are trained in the techniques that make an agricultural society thrive and succeed – having read about it and having actually done it are two very different things. Plus, the actual work of farming is labor-intensive. I’m not sure how many of that six thousand there would have to be farmers to feed everyone, because I have no idea whether their insistence on being out of the way means no energy-requiring machines at all or only some machines doing that work. And that’s assuming that Federation crops and animals will take hold on Pern and flourish. Presumably, the evaluation that happened has figured this out. Or so we hope.

As it turns out, both Benden and Boll are trying to get away from a society that considers them war heroes (“charismatic” ones, no less). They are supposedly ideal leaders for this expedition:

He hated the interminable debate over minor points that seemed to obsess those in charge of the landing operation. He preferred to make quick decisions and implement them immediately, instead of talking them to death.

So that’s where his namesake Weyrleaders get their impulsiveness from.

Emily Boll’s perspective is also used to describe Benden – after assuring us that he is not her type, the narrative has her describe his thick blonde hair, blunt nose, forceful jaw, and his mouth, and his general good health after having apparently pushed himself to the limit (seventy straight hours awake) in defense against an invasion. When Benden is used to return the favor later, she’s described as a lean, bony woman with shoulder-length gray and naturally wavy hair, but what he likes most is her wiry physical and mental strength, personal vitally, and ruthlessness. “Just being in her presence gave one’s spirits a lift.” So the man is described primarily in terms of his physical features and abilities, the woman primarily in terms of her non-physical qualities. And then, to prove it’s not necessarily just sexism at work, the head agronomer, Mar Dook, is described as “a small man whose Earth Asiatic ancestry was evident in features, skin tone, and physiology: he was wiry, lean, and slightly bowed in the shoulders, but his black eyes gleamed with eager intelligence and the excitement of the challenge.”

The sight of Pern turns Boll’s attention to the planet itself, which was apparently named after…something. Not too soon after that, after an oath to “the Holies” to not botch this planet, Emily thinks about the current set of problems:

She thought of the friction she had sensed between the charterers, who had raised the staggering credits needed to finance the Pern expedition, and the contractors, the specialists hired to round out the basic skills required for the undertaking. Each could end up with a largeous amount of land or mineral rights on this new world, but the fact that the charterers would get first choice was a bone of contention.
Differences! Why did there always have to be distinctions, arrogantly displayed as superiororities, or derided as inferiorities? Everyone would have the same opportunity, no matter how many stake acres they could claim as charterer or had been granted as contractor. On Pern, it would truly be up to the individual to succeed, to prove his claim and to manage as much land as he and his cared for. That would be the catholic distinction. Once we’ve landed, everyone will be too bloody busy to fret over “differences”, she consoled herself, […and watches the weather.]

The contractors have a point – if this is supposed to be an egalitarian planet, and everyone just left to till their land and survive as the first successful Randian experiment in millenia, if the charterers get first dibs, they get an advantage that, if properly exploited, will mean the contractors won’t ever be able to be on even footing with them. The paradise of John Galt will be dead before it starts. And, if Terran history is any indicator, those with big plots of land will be able to eventually turf out the smaller ones and put them in a vassalage relationship, if not outright slavery. We’re already seeing the seeds of what will eventually be the Pernese aristocracy and caste system. Because the people that put up the money are expecting the best things as the financiers. The rich and the working classes, already at odds with each other. So who gets to own the means of production in Pern?

The actual story continues with the probe data of the planet and how that matches with the plans to colonize the planet and the previous survey – lots of arable farmland in the south, good for Terran crops reported to be compatible, some edible native plants, some edible native marine life (but plans for boats and introducing fish and dolphins, with whom the colonists can converse into the ecosystem that they don’t think will impact the native Pernese species. That’s not possible.), and what looks to be tougher sledding for the animals like the cows and horses, because native grass is incompatible with them. Were it not for the grudgingly approved Eridani-sourced genetic manipulation techniques used to make sure the animals would adapt to their new home, the settlers might very well have had to try and tame a native creature.

The data seems to give a green light for landing, as well as the origin of the name of the wherries. “Because they resemble airborne barges-squat, fat, and full.” As the data comes through, the effects of what we now know as Thread rain are discussed, along with glows, and there’s much complaining that there’s a lot more growth in those spots that were barren than the survey pointed out. Some of the scientists want to pursue the phenomenon of the pockmarks and the growth, while others are very concerned about the adaptability of crops.

In all of this activity, at the center of everything, is Kitti Ping, “the most eminent geneticist in the Federated Sentient Planets–the only human that had been trained by the Eridanis.” Who may be coming to practice selective memory, like many of the others, referring to incidents only tangentially mentioned. Ping’s presence makes lots of people confident of the colony’s success, because they can get her to change the genes of the plants and animals to match the planet if needed.

In rumination about the landing, Benden chooses a plateau in the shadow of volcanoes, worries about a safe debarkation, and, in reviewing the methods the main pilot has been using to train the colony ship pilots, lets slip that the Federated Sentient Planets are -ists against cyborgs, where “cyborgs” means “people with pseudoflesh prosthetics”, and that all the cyborgs in the military were shunted into administration and desk jobs and only “whole” people are allowed to go out in the Exploration and Evaluation Corps. Thus, both Benden (fingers) and the main pilot, Fusaiyuki (leg) know what their career pathways were going to be if they didn’t come on the colony ships.

The formal meeting to choose a landing site happens between Benden, Jim Tillek, and Ezra Keroon. (One of Benden’s subordinates, Joel Lilienkamp, has an eidetic memory, for both bets and cargoes, incidentally.) Tillek wants to be close to water, Keroon’s nervous about the volcanoes, which Benden dismissed as “no seismic activity for a couple hundred years”, since it didn’t have any activity during the original survey, and the three agree on Benden’s preferred site in short order, and set the landing process in motion.

The scene switches to Officer Telgar getting some off-duty chow, letting us know how much she just wants a home, having been bounced from post to post before being orphaned in the war. The only available seats are next to Avril Bitra, Bart Lemos, and Nabhi Nabol, who are the people Telgar likes least on the ship. (The name dropping continues until all the Holds are named, right?)

In proper-to-be Pernese tradition, Telgar engages in the trademark “other women are boohissslutty” mental gossip that Kylara will be subjected to much larger on. (Previously, Benden had spent a sentence wishing he hasn’t been involved with her so much, but she was a hottie. So, whatevs, admiral? Good to know that it’s only women who are going to be catty to reach other.)

Gossip had it that Avril had spent a good deal of the last five years in Admiral Paul Benden’s bed. Candidly, Sallah could see why a virile man like the admiral would be sexually attracted by the astrogator’s dark and flashing beauty. A mixture of ethnic ancestors had given her the best of all possible features. She was tall, neither willowy nor overripe, with luxuriant black hair that she often wore loose in silky ripples. Her slightly sallow complexion was flawless and her movements gracefully studied, but her eyes, snapping with black fire, indicated a highly intelligent and volatile personality. Avril was not a woman to cross, and Sallah had carefully maintained her distance from Paul Benden, or anyone else seen more than three times in April’s company. If the unkind pointed out Paul Benden’s recent marked absence from Avril’s side, the charitable said that he was needed for long conferences with his staff, and the time for dalliance was over. Those who had been victims of Avril’s sharp tongue said that she had lost her bid to be the admiral’s lady.

Oh, for the Whatfruit’s sake…



Cocowhat by depizan

Let’s see what offensive tropes we have on display here. Hypersexual woman of “ethnic” heritage? Check. Otherwise flawless woman turning out to be a shrew AND a gold digger as her “humanizing” traits? Check. Other woman used as the viewpoint to discuss her flaws in the meanest way possible? Check. The guy in the relationship portrayed as basically having followed his penis without further thought until later? Check.

And this is from a supposedly far future society. That inexplicably has the same morals and descriptors of the time period of the writer, including what looks to be a hefty dose of racial stereotyping. This is a giant worldbuilding failure, even if it is a common complaint against speculative fiction.

The plot continues with the revelation of the landing spot and the resolution of various wagers on that decision. Sallah continues to be offended by Avril’s behavior and wonders why such an apparently city girl would come out on an expedition to the sticks, in between musings about the lack of coffee on the new world (it just doesn’t take) and her own reasons for coming on the expedition. Exiting the lounge, Sallah has a crash-into-hello with a family recently awakened from their deep sleep and stops to help a geologist (Tarvi Andiyar) get their bearings. Tarvi has

one of the most beautiful faces she had ever seen on a man – not Benden’s rugged, warrior features, but a beautiful and sophisticated and subtle arrangement, almost sculpted, like some of the ancient Indic and Cambodian princes on ruined stone murals. She flushed as she remembered what those princes had been doing in the murals.

More race-related imagery, but this time, it’s apparently the men who are doing sexual things instead of the women. Sallah has a lot of sex on the brain, apparently. After one more encounter with someone whose glibness of speech aggravates her, she decides that it’s the presence of all the people that’s aggravating her, and she decides to get away from everything by slipping down to the admiral’s personal craft.

That’s where the ebook has a chapter break, and I suppose it’s as good a place as any to stop. If this entire book is going to be like this, it was probably a bad idea for the origin story of Pern to be written. At the very least, this is probably not the spot to start, because it gives very little action and very much pettiness all around.

Hermione Granger Chapter 3

Hermione Granger And The Goblet Of Sexism

Chapter 3

The Invitation / The Invitation

 

She stood in the kitchen, staring after her mother for a moment, dumbfounded. She was trying to work it all out before she responded, because she just wasn’t the type to fly into a rage until she knew what she was raging for. But she felt the muscles in her fingers stiffen, and she knew she was on the edge.

 

She took a deep breath, sat down at the kitchen table with her plate of eggs, and poured herself a cup of tea. The small, rather excitable, owl, was still bouncing around the room. Her father was watching it with amusement, but Hermione ignored the owl altogether. Only after she had eaten several bites, and taken several large gulps of tea, did she set herself to responding to Ron’s letter.

***

Twenty minutes later, the owl had gone, Mr. Granger had cleaned most of the kitchen, and Mrs. Granger was upstairs getting ready to leave for work. Hermione headed up the stairs to her own bedroom, and began putting her spellbooks and school things carefully back into the large, ungainly truck, which she used to transport them to school each year.

Her bedroom was powder blue, and she could remember when, as a tenth birthday present, she had chosen the color herself and painted it with her mother. It had been pale pink for most of her childhood, she supposed since her parents had brought her home from the hospital and set the room up as a nursery for her, but she’d never liked it much. She and her mother had worn old clothes, and moved all the furniture out, and covered the floor in canvas drop cloths. She could still remember the smell of them. And they’d listened to old rock and roll, and laughed and gotten positively covered in paint. Mrs. Granger had made Hermione wear a cloth over her hair, but somehow she got blue in her hair anyways. It had been lovely to be exhausted and messy, but staring at a job well done.

She wasn’t sure if anyone she knew in the wizarding world could quite relate.

As she took a large basket down from the top of her wardrobe (it was for her cat, Crookshanks, to travel in) she heard a soft knock at the door.

“Come in.” she said flatly, without turning.

It was, of course, Jean Granger.

“Hermione dear, I’m about to be off for the day. Is there anything in particular you want for dinner?”

She took a deep breath, “There is not, and I won’t be home anyways. As you know I’ve been invited to stay with my friend Ronald, and as soon as I’ve finished packing and found my damn cat, I will be leaving directly.”

“What? TODAY?”

“Yes, as it’s plain you’d rather I were away for the holidays, I don’t see any reason to delay.”

“Oh Hermione,” Mrs. Granger looked sad, but Hermione didn’t want to see it, “that’s not it at all, I only…”

“I KNOW VERY WELL WHAT YOU WERE PLANNING TO SEND TO MRS. WEASLEY!” Hermione turned with tears streaming down her face, “I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU PITY ME AND WANT ME GONE. WELL AS IT HAPPENS, I DON’T NEED YOUR PITY, AND I’M LEAVING ANYWAYS SO YOU WON’T HAVE THE TROUBLE OF ARRANGING IT.”

“How did you…?”

“I am not stupid, MOTHER.”

“Well, I only thought…”

“I haven’t the time for this,” she took a deep breath to steady herself, “I need to find my cat.”

***

Because it was after the rush of morning commenters, Hermione actually managed to get a seat on the bus. She hoped crookshanks would behave himself in his traveling basket. In the wizarding world, it was quite normal to travel with a cat, or for that matter an owl, a rat, of a road. The only animal hermione thought would seem out of place was a dog, but of course the muggle world was almost the opposite. The only acceptable animal to have in public was a dog.

She’d never rode the city bus with Crookshanks before, and it occurred to her that she didn’t know if it would be allowed. She tightened her grip on the handle.

People think I’m terrified of breaking rules, she thought to herself, and they keep thinking that despite everything that I’ve done. But I’m not hemmed in by breaking rules, I’m just smart and selective. Well, I’m smart and selective apart from right now. I can’t believe I didn’t think to look up whether or not be would be allowed.

An old lady wearing a hat with a flower in it sat down next to her. Her grip on the basket became tighter still, and it suddenly occurred to her that Crookshanks could meow at any moment.

“That’s a lovely basket,” the lady said, propping her umbrella up next to her, “and my goodness I haven’t see a trunk like that in ages! Don’t most girls your age go for something a bit more modern, dear?”

“It’s an antique,” hermione lied, “it’s been in my mothers family for years.”

“I’ll say it certainly has been! I’m surprised she let you out the house with it!” The old lady looked thoughtfully down at her own bag for a moment, and then smiled, not unkindly, and said “and where are you off to with all of your old fashioned luggage this morning, my dear?”

It’s easier to tell a lie if it surrounds a kernel of truth, and Hermione had learned a lot about lying while trying to get by in the muggle world as a part-time witch. It was always best not to make up fanciful stories, you just had to change the details around to make them non-magical. “I’m off to stay with a friend in the countryside, until my school term starts up again,” she said easily, “I like the trunk for my school things because it reminds me of home, and my mother would rather it get use than be always covered in dust in the attic.”

“Oh what fun!” The lady said, “I remember the joy of going on holiday when I was your age, goodness do I! And does your friend share your taste in antiques?”

Against her will, Hermione was starting to enjoy talking with this grandmotherly figure. She let out a little laugh, “oh no!” She said,” all he cares about is, uh, football!” Well, she couldn’t say quidditch, could she?

The old lady’s eyebrows raised. Had she noticed Hermione’s pause?

“You’re going to stay with a boy? And your mother let you?”

She had been so preoccupied avoiding any magical details that it hadnt even occurred to her that it wasn’t exactly typical for fourteen year old girls to be close friends with boys. Come to that, it didn’t occur to her often in the first place, it was just her life. Her two closest friends just happened to be boys. And of course that probably would seem odd to a woman old enough to be her grandmother.

“Well,” she said doing her best to sound casual, “really it’s his sister I’ll be staying with, and we’re all friends.”

The lady was giving Hermione a knowing smile. Hermione made a sour face without totally realizing she was doing it.

“But it was the boy who invited you to stay?”

Hermione was getting uncomfortable. The more personal the talking became, the more likely she was to let something stupid slip and risk the statute of secrecy. What if she accidentally mentioned “the daily prophet” or “the quidditch World Cup” or even “floo powder?” She didn’t like to let muggles get too close, because it was an awful lot of trouble when she did.

“I suppose it was…” she said vaguely, now watching for her stop and looking away from the old lady. They were nearly there, and then she could get away. She pulled the chain. The old lady was still looking at her intently, and almost against her will, she glanced back at her.

She wasn’t smiling anymore.

“Do be careful getting mixed up with boys, my dear,” she looked downright sad, “I wish I had been more careful when I was your age.”

The bus stopped, and a slightly shaken Hermione gathered up her things, and awkwardly dragged her trunk out into the bright sunlight.

***

It occurred to her, crossing the sidewalk, that a teenage girl dragging a heavy “antique” trunk and a large basket into an old pub probably looked very suspicious indeed. But there was nothing to be done for it, it was the only way into the magical world. Anyways, The Leaky Cauldron was under some rather mysterious enchantments, and although it wasn’t exactly invisible to muggles (her parents had been through, for example) they didn’t seem to notice it unless it was pointed out to them.

It was an old Inn, with an even older innkeeper. Usually, like so many other witches and wizards, Hermione passed through the bar to the alley behind it, and tapped the right stone in the wall with her wand to gain entrance to Diagon Alley, the narrow street full of wizarding shops which was hidden away from muggle eyes. Today, however, she wasn’t going shopping for her school things.

She marched right up to the bar, and waited for the Tom, the innkeeper, to finish serving a patron. She hoped very much that she looked confident and serious, because she was both confident and serious.

“Good afternoon Tom,” she said as soon as he approached her, “I’m not certain the proper etiquette for this, but would it be possible to use your fire?”

“What, with floo powder?”

“Yes, I’m doing some traveling.”

He wheezed. “Can’t go to no muggle fires, you know.”

Hermione stood up a little straighter. “Tom.” She said with dignity, “just because I am muggle born does not mean I am going to a muggle fire. As a matter of fact, were I headed to a muggle lodging I likely would have taken a muggle mode of transportation, such as the bus I took to get from my parents’ muggle home to this street, perhaps. No, being aware of how the floo regulation laws work, I am asking to use your fire to get to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur and Molly Weasley. I’ll gladly pay. Now, what is the fee, and I haven’t got any floo powder.” her voice trailed off at the last sentence.

Tom stared at her out of his wrinkled face.

“No fee, missy, and I meant no harm. Here, I’ll get you a scoop o powder.”

He got a tin down from a high shelf behind the bar, and put a small handful of the bright green powder, the stuff which witches and wizards used to travel by fire, into a teacup. Then he motioned for hermione to follow him to the fireplace. She started to grab her heavy trunk to drag it behind her, but before she could do so it floated into the air. Her sore arms were relieved, now she just had to figure how to managed Crookshanks in his basket.

The trunk glided through the air, and then stood itself up in the back of the fireplace, just as neat as you please. Hermione never even saw Tom raise his wand, though she assumed he had done it. As she approached, he handed the cup out to her. She poured the powder, as neatly as she could, into her right hand. Tom was watching her carefully.

“Do you….”

“Oh for heaven’s sake yes of course I know what I’m doing!” She had of course, carefully studied diagrams of travel by fire in books. But at fourteen, she had never had occasion to try it for herself. Couldn’t let Tom see her nervous, though.

With her basket full of cat under the other arm, she threw the handful of powder into the fireplace. All at once, the flames turned emerald green. She stepped in calmly, they were cool just as she had known they would be, and said “the burrow” as clearly and concisely as she possible could.

All at once, she was in motion. Crookshanks hissed. The trunk knocked into her knees. She was spinning fast with her eyes closed tight to keep out the soot and ash. Crookshanks yowled.

And then, just as suddenly, they were tumbling out of a different fireplace, into a kitchen she had never been in before. There was ash in her hair and hair in her eyes. The basket in her arms burst open, and a fury of orange fur and sharp teeth emerged. Before she could even think how to react, Crookshanks has leapt away and scampered out of an open window. Well, she thought brushing herself off, at least they had made it.

She was looking out of the fireplace, into the Weasleys’ crowded kitchen. It was obvious that this was not a muggle home, and she suddenly realized that she had never actually been in a wizarding house before. The rather cramped room was dominated by a large, scrubbed wood table and mismatched chairs, and all the rest of the accouterments of a kitchen (both of the magical and non-magical varieties) hugged the walls. There were spare cauldrons, and books on magical cookery (Hermione wasn’t much interested in cooking but couldn’t help wondering what these books were like) and as far as she could tell, about one thousand wooden spoons. The kitchen sink was still laden with breakfast dishes, and on a wall to Hermione’s left was Mrs. Weasley’s magical clock, which she had heard described by both Ron and Harry. The room felt cluttered and busy, but also warm and inviting.

And it was all empty. She hadn’t thought what she would do if no one was there, and she didn’t exactly want to go marching rudely through the whole house. It seemed rather bad etiquette, and she was left noticing that a great problem with traveling by fire was that it left people no chance to refuse you, there was no door to be knocked on. Of course, she had sent the small owl ahead with a note CLEARLY stating that she was on her way, and she had been invited. So she wasn’t entirely showing up unannounced and unexpected, but still. She briefly wondered if she ought to stay in the fire place until someone returned to the kitchen… And wondered how long she would be waiting.

She settled in waiting at the kitchen table, and leaving her trunk in the fireplace, so as not to be to forward. She took her copy of the daily prophet out of crookshanks’ traveling basket, and began to read.

Most of the articles were all about the upcoming quidditch World Cup. Hermione had always been more interested in books and spells than flying and sports, but she followed quidditch at school because it mattered to her friends. She didn’t know a thing about the national teams, though, and it occurred to her that if she wanted to fully understand wizarding culture, the World Cup would be extremely helpful. And so she read an article about how many galleons the stadium where the game would be held had cost, and what sorts of brooms the players were all riding, and an opinion piece entitled “English Wizards Don’t Owe Ireland Their Support, Bulgaria Is The Clear Winner.

She was pondering issues of nationalism and athletics when Crookshanks came back in through the open window. He jumped lightly up onto the scrubbed wooden table and pressed his forhead against hers.

“But why are we here, Crookshanks?” She said aloud, “why would anyone ever invite me to a quidditch match in the first place?” If things had been different, if she had been a muggle girl, for example, she might have discussed the question with her mother. But she wasn’t a muggle girl, and she was still feeling hurt by her mother’s attempts to get her out of the house and unsure what to do about the strain in their relationship. For the first time in a very long time, she found herself wishing that she wasn’t a witch at all.

Then the kitchen door opened, and in walked plump Mrs. Weasley, and her youngest child and only daughter, Ginny. And from the looks on their faces, no, Ron had not informed them that she was on her way so soon. Well, there was nothing for it. She stood up and smiled politely.

“Hullo Mrs. Weasley,” she said in a clear voice that she hoped didn’t sound awkward, “Ronald invited me to come and stay for the World Cup by owl, and I do hope it’s alright that I’ve arrived so soon. You see, it just happened to be the most logistically feasible time. I did send the owl ahead to let you know…”

Ginny was staring at her curiously. Mrs. Weasley though, just broke into a smile. “Oh sit down girl, for heaven’s sake of course we’re glad to have you! Only that Ron didn’t bother to tell anyone you were already on your way, which is like him, never tells his mother anything.” She waved her wand absentmindedly at the teakettle on the stove, which flew to the sink and began filling itself, “The boys are all out for a bit of quidditch, and Arthur is at work. Ginny dear, go and make sure your room is ready for company! And Hermione, I’m making you a cup of tea, you look spent.” she walked across the room to get two cups and saucers, while a flame appeared beneath the kettle on the stove.

“Merlin’s beard!” she shouted suddenly, “what on earth is your trunk doing in the fireplace?”

***

Deconstruction / Notes on The Source Text

CN: fatphobia, fatshaming

Slowly but surely, we are getting closer to our two point-of-view characters being under the same roof and interacting with each other. According to the text, Hermione and Harry are both invited to The Burrow to attend the quidditch world cup, and stay for the remainder of the summer holidays. It seems weird to me that this invitation has been extended to not one, but two, of Ron’s friend, but apparently none of the other Weasley children’s? Or maybe they all invited friends but no one else wanted to come? It’s not explained, and it’s bothering me. Oh well, moving on.

Essentially, all that happens in this chapter is that Harry goes down to breakfast with the Dursleys, receives the invitation, and gets the Dursleys to say he can go. But there’s something else we need to talk about here, and it’s something that isn’t going to come up in the Hermione Granger chapters themselves.

It’s Dudley.

Dudley Dursley is, of course, Harry Potter’s cousin, and his very first bully. The way that the Dursleys, Dudley included, treat Harry ranges from very poorly indeed to downright abusive, and I don’t want it to sound like I’m giving Dudley a pass here. I’m not.

However, in the grand tradition of authors using FAT as shorthand for lazy, stupid, mean, and greedy, the narrative constantly brings up Dudley’s weight as though it were somehow relevant. The message we, as readers, get over and over again is that Dudley being a fact character is inextricably linked with his being a bad person. I’d hate that no matter what, but as he’s a kid, it really gets under my skin. There are so many things J.K Rowling did right in these books. This isn’t one of them.

And that fat shaming really ramps up to a whole new level here in chapter four. I hadn’t remembered exactly how bad it was until my reread for this project and well, here’s an excerpt, concerning the report sent home for the summer from Dudley’s school.

“However, at the bottom of the report there were a few well-chosen comments from the school nurse that not even Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia could explain away. No matter how much Aunt Petunia wailed that Dudley was big-boned, and that his poundage was really puppy fat, and that he was a growing boy who needed plenty of food, the fact remained that the school outfitters didn’t stock knickerbockers big enough for him anymore. The school nurse had seen what Aunt Petunia’s eyes — so sharp when it came to spotting fingerprints on her gleaming walls, and in observing the comings and goings of the neighbors — simply refused to see: that far from needing extra nourishment, Dudley had reached roughly the size and weight of a young killer whale.”

Ok, a few comments on that.

  1. This is included at the end of a list of other things he’s in some kind of trouble about at school. So again, we’re morally equating Dudley’s size with his ruthless bullying of other students.
  2. 2. It’s from a nurse, so we have the classic concerning trolling fat people always get that THIS IS ABOUT HEALTH. You can tell, because the nurse said it, see?
    But wait, actually this is about him not being able to get knickerbockers that fit. So it’s a clothing issue? That doesn’t actually sound like a medical issue to me then…
  3. The school nurse, they’re the one who finally noticed that Dudley is fat. I bet no one in Dudley’s life has ever mentioned to him, or his parents, that he’s fat. I bet he doesn’t hear it every day at school from other kids. I bet he doesn’t hear it every time he goes to the doctor. I bet that when he was a chubby little kid he wasn’t constantly assured by grown ups that it was “just a phase” and I bet he didn’t notice when they started to look worried that maybe it wasn’t just a phase. Seriously this makes me so fucking angry. Dear school nurse: fat people do not actually need you to tell us that we’re fat, we already know.
  4. Oh the whale comparison, nice. That really drives home that this is an issue of medical health. Thanks for clarifying, Rowling.

Talking about Dudley’s weight is a tool that is employed by the narrative to dehumanize him. Dudley has done some really mean things to Harry, but we get to really hate him because he’s not really a person, he’s a fatty. It’s ok to really despise Dudley Dursley because in addition to being a huge jerk, he’s also huge.

So apparently, this concern trolling nurse sent home a “diet sheet” presumably with some kind of daily food recommendations on it, and Aunt Petunia is now forcing the whole family to follow it to a T. Which means that, for the entire family of four, this morning, for breakfast, they are consuming one grapefruit.

You read that correctly. One grapefruit, cut into quarters. Hang on, let me look up the calories on that.

There are 52 calories in a whole grapefruit. That means a total of THIRTEEN calories in a quarter of a grapefruit. I can’t even with this.  Even the most extreme diets I looked up as reference for this (and god do I wish I hadn’t read any of that…) recommend having AT LEAST 100 calories for breakfast, and getting some protein so you don’t pass out.

The plan, apparently, is to literally starve Dudley.

And you know, maybe this is supposed to be hyperbole to some extent. Maybe this is supposed to be so bad that it’s unimaginable. Maybe Rowling was going for a little bit of that playful, Roald Dahl type over the top description that she used back in book one. The problem though, is that if that’s the case, it doesn’t work here, because literally nothing else in the book follows that format. This isn’t the somewhat humorous run from the letters that Vernon Dursley leads the family on back in book one, where he gets more and more comically addled as more and more letters continue to follow them to unlikely places. In the end, Vernon takes the whole family on a rickety boat in a storm, to spend the night in a shack on an island. None of it makes any sense, and it keeps getting more and more extreme, and we accept how unrealistic it is because it’s part of the fun.

BUT THIS IS ONLY FUN IF YOU HATE FAT PEOPLE AND THINK THEY DON’T DESERVE TO EAT.

At the end of the chapter, Harry will remark happily that “He had cake, and Dudley had nothing but grapefruit.” Apparently our hero is delighted that his cousin is being starved to death. What a great guy!