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Blogging The Deathly Hallows: Chapter 5

 It has been hellishly hot here . . . and it's even worse not that much farther south.  My mother said that it was 107℉  (about 42℃) where she is today.  I hope that those of you stuck in places where the Summer heat has gone haywire have a place to go to stay cool.   I am currently sitting in the not terribly comfortable dance studio, tempted to calculate how much the heat index in a small building can be raised by 30 kids dancing the treble reel (yes, I am a geek ::g::).

It's been harder than I had hoped to keep up with this - but since everyone but a few who might interested in this are off at DiaCon Alley for fannish fun, I doubt I've disappointed anyone.  :-D  If any of you are still along for the ride, let's go find out how our heroes fared after the ambush.


It looked pretty grim for Hagrid at the end of The Seven Potters:  he's lying face down on the ground and not responding to Harry's calls.  I will confess that I had feared when I first read this that the title of the chapter referred to Hagrid and that he'd be the first casualty.  I was glad to be wrong.  I'm not sure why, but I'm kind of attached to the big guy  ::g::, so I was very relieved when, after Ted Tonks rescues Harry from garden and heals him, the first thing he tells Harry is that Hagrid's OK.  Mr. Tonks, however, is very surprised to hear Harry's news that the Order had been betrayed and pursued right to their very door.  It doesn't help Harry's state of mind when Andromeda Tonks, who looks very much like her sister Bellatrix, walks in.  He feels pretty awful about the mistaken identity, and even worse when he can't tell Tonks' parents what has become of her (you will notice that they do not mention Remus).  Harry and Hagrid have only a few moments before they must take the Portkey to The Burrow, but Harry promises to have Tonks send word as soon as she arrives at the Weasley's.

Harry arrives at The Burrow to the bad news that they are the only ones to yet arrive.  Ron with Tonks and Mr. Weasley with Fred should have arrived before Harry and Hagrid.  A minute later Remus Lupin arrives cradling George, who is bleeding profusely.  The first thing Lupin does after turning George over to his mother is drag Harry off at wand-point to question him to make certain he is the 'real' Harry.  Harry then tells the story of how the Death Eaters following him seemed to know it was him and Lupin jumps all over him, telling him that Expelliarmus is considered his 'signature' defensive spell and that it's 'suicidal' for him to use it.  Harry is horrified by Lupin's words, knowing that had he used any other spell on Stan Shunpike in his condition, he would have killed him, and he will not kill innocents - that's how Voldemort operates.   Lupin's reply to this is lost when Hagrid asks after George.  Then Kingsley and Hermione arrive safely.  They asked to be filled in after Shacklebolt and Lupin confirm each other's identities.  Lupin tells everyone that it was Snape who cursed George, using Sectumsempra to cut off George's ear, and says that he wishes he could say that he'd 'paid him back in kind.'  

Does anyone else find JKR's attempt to make Lupin a BAMF as out of character as I do?  Going back and looking at Remus Lupin in the previous books, he seems almost *too* passive.  He was always portrayed before as the gentle, understanding soul, counseling restraint, offering comfort,  sadder and wiser for all he's learned in his suffering.  In DH, it's like the author is trying to turn that characterization on its head, and it just doesn't ring true to me.  I have to confess, too, that before I started reading Snupin, I didn't much like Lupin because of his passivity and his cowardly behavior.  The better Snupin writers never denied these flaws, but allowed him to grow out of them and atone for them, in large part because of love.   I have the awkward feeling that JKR was trying to portray that as well, trying to show that Lupin has changed because of his love for Tonks.  So why does he seem so very peculiar when, a few minutes later, Tonks and Ron arrive?  He is stiff and nearly silent, - and when he does speak, sounds angry at Tonks.  Contrast this with Ron's welcome by Hermione.  Though I don't believe for a second that Ron and Hermione are a good fit for each other, I have no difficulty believing that they do love each other.  I can easily believe that Tonks loves Lupin, too.  I'm just having difficulty swallowing the opposite. 

Kingsley  must head back to Downing Street, and just after he leaves, Bill and Fleur arrive with very bad news: Mad-Eye Moody is dead.  It seems that Voldemort went after Mad-Eye and Dung first.  Mundungus panicked and Disapparated, leaving Moody vulnerable as he tried to stop him.  Voldemort cursed him and he fell backward off of his broom, presumably already dead before he hit the ground.  This did not hit me as hard, I think, as it was supposed to.  Is it wrong of me to have liked Barty Crouch as Mad-Eye better than I liked the real Mad-Eye?  

In GoF, his character was exactly what he should have been: eccentric, yes, but not mean; rather, gruff/crusty with the proverbial heart of gold.  At least until we discover that this isn't Mad-Eye at all.  We meet the real Mad-Eye when the Order comes to take Harry to 12 Grimmauld Place in OotP.  He spends a lot of that time yelling and displaying an astounding paranoia.  In his defense, however, if I had just spent 3/4 of a year stuffed in a trunk under the Imperius curse, I'm sure I'd be a little paranoid, too.  (As an aside - this is another instance of an epic Dumbledore!Fail that seems to have no impact on him whatsoever.  He lives under the same roof for nine months, and presumably has several conversations with, someone who is impersonating an old, close friend.  And he does not detect this impostor until it is almost too late, did not find anything suspicious about the faux Moody in all of that time, yet no one - least of all Moody, it seems - blames him for that.  Albus Dumbledore - Teflon wizard. Amazing.)  He doesn't, however, improve with time.  The real Moody is a pretty unpleasant person, and though I respected him, I didn't like him much.   This rather blunted the impact his death had on me.  Sad though it was, I wasn't deeply emotionally invested in Alastor Moody and was able to raise my mental glass to him (along with the Order) without undue distress.

After the toasts are done, the topic of conversation turns to the betrayal and to the Disapparation of Mundungus Fletcher, and it is here, in passing, that we learn that the Order believes that it's Dung who has come up with the idea of multiple Harrys.  Based on the fact that this was not known to the Death Eaters who ambushed them, the group decides that it isn't he who is the betrayer.  After the others begin looking askance at Hagrid, Harry declares his trust in them all.  Lupin gets all BAMFy again and derides him for thinking, like his father before him, that his friends would not betray him.  Considering the level of his bitterness, one wonders just whose betrayal is eating at Lupin right then.  

Suddenly, Lupin decides that now is the time to go retrieve Moody's body and Bill agrees to accompany him.   Harry wants to go with them and is quickly argued down.  Already he is feeling like a burden and a danger to his friends, and worries that it won't be long before Voldemort discovers where he is, to everyone else's detriment.  During the argument, he discloses that he feels as if his wand acted of its own accord during the fight, which the others dismiss as Harry acting without realizing it, due to stress.  His scar is really hurting him now, and he's angry that the rest of them don't believe what he says about his wand, and have browbeat him into staying despite his better judgement, so he leaves the house and goes out into the garden.  While he is mourning Dumbledore afresh and wishing desperately for his guidance, the pain in his scar suddenly flares and he has a vision of Voldemort torturing Mr. Olivander.  Voldemort demands to know why, in spite of what Olivander told him,  Lucius' wand was destroyed attempting to do what he cannot with his own, as his wand shares a core with Harry's.  When Olivander cannot explain, Voldemort Crucios him again and again, assuming that he is lying.

The vision ceases abruptly, and Harry returns to himself to discover Hermione and Ron standing with him by the garden gate.  They are afraid he might be leaving in spite of the earlier attempts to persuade him to stay and try to draw him back into the house.  It is Hermione who first notices Harry's shellshocked demeanor, and he tells them what he saw.  The chapter closes as Hermione just about flips out over the renewed connection to Voldemort and begs him to kill the connection now, before the Dark Lord takes him over as he has everything else.

So, what is you opinion about this chapter?  As a continuation of the story, I thought it pretty good.  It has a good deal of tension and suspense as we wait to find out who the chapter title refers to (how did the news that it was Moody affect you?), and inches forward the motivation for Voldemort to seek the Elder Wand.   In terms of character development, perhaps just so -so.  We get to meet Tonks' parents, and get a small sense of them - Ted, especially.  We see Harry's 'good guy cred' get more firmly established as he worries over the danger in which he's placed the people he cares about and as he refuses to succumb to the notion that he should do others harm for his own sake.  The Twins act exactly as we'd expect them to over George's injury.  Ginny's something of a non-entity here, for all that JKR is trying to forward the romance between her and Harry, and Lupin . . . well, you've already had an eyeful over what I feel about that.  :-)  How do you see it? 

I started this on Thursday evening.  It is now Saturday morning.  :-P  I guess this is going to take me a bit longer than I thought!  Thanks for hanging in there.  I know I am in arrears on comments and such, and I'll try to get caught up today.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
squibstress
Jul. 23rd, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
I didn't find the change in Lupin as egregious as you did. My thought was that he's found himself in sort of a panic at suddenly being husband and (possibly) an incipient father, and in his state he lashes out and becomes not so much BAMF as a little unstable in his fears for his new family. I can't recall how much of Lupin we see in HBP, but remember he has been whipsawed around by the reappearance then death of one of his best mates. Lupin's world at this point must feel even more surreal and dangerous than it did before. Being a dick to Tonks may be his way of protecting himself.

I can't decide if it was brilliant or manipulative (or both) for JKR to give us the little "Moody for Hagrid" trade. She plucks at our heartstrings with the possibility that Hagrid (whom I think most of us have come to love over the six prior books) is dead, then when he is suddenly resurrected, she lets the powers of darkness have a character most of us aren't especially emotionally invested in, as you describe. It fits in with the sacrifice theme, and maybe is intended to prepare us for the bigger sacrifice required ahead. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

"Teflon wizard" is too right! This entire epic is basically made possible by severe Dumbledore Fail. What an a-hole.
albalark
Jul. 24th, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC)
My thought was that he's found himself in sort of a panic at suddenly being husband and (possibly) an incipient father, and in his state he lashes out and becomes not so much BAMF as a little unstable in his fears for his new family. Did they marry because they both wanted to? Or because Lupin hasn't the backbone to say no in the face of all the pressure coming to bear on him to make Tonks happy (see the scene in HBP after Bill's been attacked by Greyback)? It seems to me the latter, rather than the former, sadly. He just does not behave the way one would expect a man in love and newly wed to behave. Instead he seems miserable and angry, lashing out instead of behaving protectively, which really seems contradictory to everything we've known about him up until this point. You know how characters can go awry and do things you don't want them to? Well, I think JKR really wants us to believe in Lupin and Tonks, but Lupin isn't cooperating, if that makes sense.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. I do believe it was deliberate on her part, but I also think she wanted Mad-Eye's death to have more of an impact on the reader than it did. He was kind of the substitute Dumbledore - the head of the Order now that he's gone - and now the ship is left rudderless. I think it was meant to be a foreboding 'darker before the dawn' plot device that sets up the ease with with Voldemort takes over and the seeming disarray of the resistance. But we're not thinking about that, really. Instead we're thinking, 'Well, that could have been worse - it could have been Hagrid!'

"Teflon wizard" is too right! This entire epic is basically made possible by severe Dumbledore Fail. Oh, you've put your finger right on it. I have been tempted, sooooo many times, to go back a write a meta fic that reruns the whole thing like watching the movies and having some demon who points out each mistake to old Dumbles as he's sitting in Hell, forced to see where his arrogance effed things up over and over again. But that would be cruel. And I am not cruel. Mostly. XD
lash_larue
Jul. 23rd, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
Is it wrong of me to have liked Barty Crouch as Mad-Eye better than I liked the real Mad-Eye?

Yes, but I forgive you.

Lupin was a mess here, yes. I think it was an attempt by JKR to show the horrors and stress of war, and that perhaps it just wasn't that well done. The movie was even worse about that.

I was far more upset by Hewig's death than Moody's. "Mighty was the fallen, mete was his ending." He was paranoid, he just wasn't paranoid enough.

I never bought Harry's use of expelliarmus as a means of identifying him. He had used crucio on Bellatrix by now, despite being pants at it. I also never understood why his wand acted on it's own, as Voldemort's matching wand was not present. Having said that, I further don't get why anyone would at this point question anything whatsoever that Harry said, since he has been proven right in every instance.

And Dumbledore was indeed an asshat.

Of course, it is far easier to pick a plot apart from our perspective than to weave the threads of such a long story into a cohesive whole. But then again, that's much of the fun at this point.

I think that the fans of the books have simply thought about all of this a lot more than the author did.

L
albalark
Jul. 25th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
Yes, but I forgive you. Thanks. ::g::

I think it was an attempt by JKR to show the horrors and stress of war, and that perhaps it just wasn't that well done. That's an understatement. As I told squibstress above, I think that JKR was really wanting us to believe in Tonks and Lupin, but Lupin wasn't having it. Instead of coming off as over-protective out of caring and hard-assed now because experience has taught him he has to be, Lupin looks like a first class jerk. My own head canon about Lupin is that he took the path of least resistance (for the umpteenth time in his life) in marrying Tonks, but he doesn't love her. And now he feels trapped and miserable and he's taking it out on everyone around him.

I was far more upset by Hewig's death than Moody's. Me, too. Your quote was just right, I think. Moody was a combatant and knew what he was getting into. Hedwig was an innocent who was in the wrong place with the wrong person at the wrong time.

I never bought Harry's use of expelliarmus as a means of identifying him. Neither did I. I'm not sure where they got the idea that this is Harry's 'signature'. The Death Eater faction has only gotten a good look a Harry's fighting three times: in the graveyard at the end of GoF (the *only* time Harry cast an Expelliarmus at Voldemort until the final battle), once at the end of OotP and once at the end of HBP. *Both* of the last two times he attempted to use Unforgivables and other 'Dark' spells and failed. The only Expelliarmus cast in the Department of Mysteries was by Neville. There was no attempt at Expelliarmus by anyone in the fight after Snape finished Dumbledore. And, of course, he had no trouble with Sectumsempra against Draco. So on the basis of that single time in the graveyard, that's the signature spell? Ooookaaayyy. And the wand acting on its own is never explained - that just kind of disappears without trace. Odd for something that such a fuss gets made over.

I further don't get why anyone would at this point question anything whatsoever that Harry said, since he has been proven right in every instance. Especially since Lupin and Shacklebolt just recalled that the last thing Dumbledore said to them was to trust Harry. :-P

it is far easier to pick a plot apart from our perspective than to weave the threads of such a long story into a cohesive whole. But then again, that's much of the fun at this point. Well said. :-) I think if we have thought about these stories so deeply, it is because we love them, and because we have the benefit of distance. JKR created this world and has, thus, knowledge we don't, but because she is so close there are things she will have missed, and there are things are that are clear to her that she doesn't understand that we don't know. So, we are necessarily going to have different ideas and insights. This, I think, is the reason behind Pottermore, but she kinda misses the boat there.
therealsnape
Jul. 23rd, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
Can I just stop by briefly and say how much I (and inmates, to whom I had to read it out loud) loved Albus Dumbledore, Teflon Wizard?

Brilliant.
And I liked Crouch!Moody better, too.
albalark
Jul. 25th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
Brilliant. Thanks, but surely I can't be the only one who's noticed that nothing ever sticks to him. :-P

And I liked Crouch!Moody better, too. I'm glad I'm not the only one. :-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )