So, for the record, this is what my star ratings mean:
5 stars = FREAKING EPIC, gigantic story, everything works well, my mind is blown that a human being thought this up.
4 stars = love this book, it's just not as humongous in scope as a 5. But it's totally awesome and everyone should read it, it's a keeper.
3 stars = mixed feelings (this is where the "I think others might like it, it's just not for me" reviews are likely to go). Not that bad, but has some issues, or it's an okay story but nothing really stands out to me as being memorable. It was a pleasant enough read for a few days, but I'll probably just end up giving the book away rather than rereading it again.
2 stars = generally pretty terrible, but not 100% so. There was at least one thing in this book that made it not totally horrible. This book isn't really recommended to all and sundry, but you might get some value out of the one thing if you try.
1 star (rarely seen here): It's a wallbanger. Nothing is redeemable about this book, it's utter crap, and I probably only finished reading it so I could do an awesome bitchrant about it and I can't justify doing that to books I didn't finish.
This is the sequel to Someone Else's Fairytale. Just so you know, the series continues as a mystery series instead of a romance at this point, even though romantic issues are discussed. (There's also references to a side story Kyra is having, which is covered in another book I haven't read as yet.)
The story picks up again six months after Jason and Chloe are married. She's now out of graduate school and has gotten a job with the Albuquerque Police Department as a forensic scientist (or in their vernacular, "crim."), which she eventually finds out was because her friends in the area wanted her to come back home, plus the department needed another crim but couldn't really afford one and Chloe wouldn't have an issue with the money. Anyway, Chloe and Jason have moved back home, though he's in and out for movies.
"How had I ever thought this would work out? It was only a matter of time before we realized we had nothing in common, and he could move on to someone who understood him better."
Chloe's got some awkwardness in her life--feeling weird at people making references to her husband, being followed around by her pet paparazzo from the last book, trying to do her job while Jason's idiot fans yell at her at a crime scene. She has some romantic angst going on when Jason is being quiet and thinking about things, and she wonders if she's romantically enough for him given her lack of experience prior to their marriage. Oh yeah, and everyone is perpetually convinced that Jason is cheating on her. Chloe doesn't really take any of this seriously until Dave, Jason's assistant, flat out tells her that she should do a "surprise" visit to LA sometime and NOT tell him about it. He also tells Chloe that his loyalty is to Jason and he'll do whatever Jason says and he can hide anything from Chloe as long as he knows her schedule...so don't tell him.
Now that's a giant WHOA. So Chloe does a "surprise" visit and Jason is acting weird.... but he totally figures out what's going on and politely calls her on it, and actually tells her what's going on. He's going to do a movie with his old Disney costar/off and on fuckbuddy Vicki Hanson and Vicki is not taking the news of his marriage well because despite her jerking Jason around and not answering his calls for months and other weird behavior, she always thought they'd end up together. So (a) she's kinda fun to work with now, and (b) she's also having issues with the movie they're supposed to be doing together. Jason wants to support her and be her friend and help boost her career (he feels bad that he became a hit and he didn't), and he straight up admits to Chloe that he's attracted to her, but at the same time, he didn't like being jerked around by Vicki and isn't looking for another hookup.
See, this is why Jason is awesome and should totally run a Jason Vanderholt School Of How To Handle Your Relationships. The dude may brood and go quiet for a few days to a week, but then he always tells her what is going on. Anyway, Chloe refers to what Dave said, and Dave doesn't get in trouble because Jason is impressed that Dave cared enough about Chloe to say something like that. Very nice of him.
Throughout the book, Jason is having artistic issues. He and Vicki eventually leave that movie over artistic differences when Vicki wants the movie to be deeper than the producers do, and he's having angst about how whatever he does has no meaning and makes no difference, he's still playing shallow Disney-ish characters at age 30, and why should he be doing this job? I really like how this revisits some of the same discussions he and Chloe had in the last book.
Oh, and just on the fun side, I'd like to point to the scene where she and Jason bring everyone they know to the movies, their treat--Jason will buy out an entire showing and bring friends and family and Chloe's new coworkers. This leads to a totally amusing section that I will refer to as The Jason Vanderholt School of Acting, in which Jason explains to Chloe how he does his job. You have to pick something to feel that makes your face look right for the scene. "The actor's job is to get the audience to feel the emotions. It's the interaction of performance and audience that counts." What this translates into is....
"So, like, in a scene where I'm supposed to look horrified, like something really bad has happened and realize and think, 'oh no! This is so bad.' I think, 'Who farted? It stinks so much in here. Who blew one?"
Also: "When I want to look like I'm thinking really hard about stuff, I do algebra in my head."
Later Chloe tries this out and thinks, "How was it my high school educated husband could do algebra while I, with my graduate level education in a science field couldn't even do multiplication?" HAH.
I haven't even gotten to talking about the book's mystery yet. The APD is working on a very sad case in which a mother was nearly killed (and well, eventually dies) and her daughter Esperanza was abducted. There's very few leads in this case, which frustrates Chloe and her boss Miguel and her friend Detective Baca and everyone else. Plus there's a super creepy possessive fan of Jason's that hangs around the crime scene, harassing Chloe. Chloe sees the case and thinks of her own case as a child from a different angle now:
"When I was the victim, I never thought about what it would be like for the adults working the case, and that's how it should be, I guess....But it never occurred to me how many people watched and worried and got angry and wanted to fight for me."
Now she gets why everyone in the APD and legal system who knew of her feel so strongly about her--because she survived and few people do. Heck, her mother-in-law even invites her, her brother-in-law and her sister Beth (the others are lawyers) to give them a hard talking to about the professions they've chosen. This case has so few leads to even chase. Chloe even gets talked into using her fame to her advantage by holding press conferences and pleading with the general public.
Despite the author's note at the back of the book talking about what aspects of the book don't really line up with the reality of being a crim for the sake of making an interesting story, this story FEELS real...especially given how the case ends. Chloe gets some breaks in the case due to her celebrity (that paparazzo can be useful), but will always be kicking herself for missing a detail because she was distracted. Later, Vicki gets a job as a replacement lead on a detective show called Blood Ritual, and Chloe and Vicki meet when Jason does a guest spot on the show and drags her to the table read. Despite Vicki's romantic feelings towards Jason, they end up finding things to talk about, and Vicki is inspired by Chloe's real life background and how the case went to demand a rewrite on her first episode...which ends up being incredibly affecting to people in ways that I will politely mention below the spoiler cut.
This book gets four and a half stars. It's incredibly affecting and well done and amazing. Y'all should read this author.
There's also a lovely elegy at the end of the book about the friend the author dedicated the book to, which is worth a read.
"Really, my job was nowhere near as interesting as it looked on television." -Chloe
"Do I sound like I've lost my mind yet?" "You're married to Jason. You clearly lost it long ago." -Chloe and Steve
"No offense, Vanderhold, but you just aren't that interesting." "None taken." -Miguel and Chloe
"Here's the deal. You are talking to one of a dozen people who can convince the APD that you shot yourself, in the back of the head, with a shotgun, six times. do not mess with me. Get out of here."--Chloe to Brad the paparazzo. "I guess, that... you have to get used to failure and keep your optimism anyway, or else you wouldn't ever go to work. You basically have to be insane." -Chloe to Vicki on her job.
"I hate that you're not very hate-able." -Vicki to Chloe
"I figured I'd play the long game, follow you around until something else happened. I mean, you've done enough interesting stuff in your lifetime, I figured you'd do something amazing sooner or later." -Brad the paparazzo.
"Don't ever tell me that what you do doesn't matter. What you do makes all the difference, okay?" -Chloe
"There's nothing quite like the feeling that you're laying it all out there, telling people all the reasons why you aren't worth listening to, and then having them all say that they understand how you feel." -Vicki
Harry got a few signatures, at least. He goes star watching at the top of Ravenclaw tower. His war has begun, but with who? "Quirrell," Snape...? And he still said he'd help Draco reform Slytherin House and to be the enemy of Narcissa's murder. All of his House heads debate Dumbledore and this murder thing, and Leo Szilard and Fermi and nukes and not publishing so that the Nazis wouldn't find out. A long history lesson ensues, y'all can read that if you like but I am not recapping it.
It was abruptly very clear that while Harry was going around trying to live the ideals of the Enlightenment, Dumbledore was the one who'd actually fought in a war. Nonviolent ideals were cheap to hold if you were a scientist, living inside the Protego bubble cast by the police officers and soldiers whose actions you had the luxury to question. Albus Dumbledore seemed to have started out with ideals at least as strong as Harry's own, if not stronger; and Dumbledore hadn't gotten through his war without killing enemies and sacrificing friends.
I have to agree.
Are you so much better than Haukelid and Dumbledore, Harry Potter, that you'll be able to fight without a single casualty? Even in the world of comic books, the only reason a superhero like Batman even looks successful is that the comic-book readers only notice when Important Named Characters die, not when the Joker shoots some random nameless bystander to show off his villainy. Batman is a murderer no less than the Joker, for all the lives the Joker took that Batman could've saved by killing him. That's what the man named Alastor was trying to tell Dumbledore, and afterward Dumbledore regretted having taken so long to change his mind. Are you really going to try to follow the path of the superhero, and never sacrifice a single piece or kill a single enemy?
Well, good point. That is hard to do. Harry stargazes and ponders the laws of magic and when his dad took them to Australia. I'm not recapping all of that either. But hey, in the super long run, does Voldemort even matter, really?
As he finally gets up, Harry realizes that to get back into Azkaban, he can just find Fawkes and tell him it's time to go, really. He compares the pleading woman he heard to Hermione and thinks that someone must have loved her. Would he have gone that far to save oh, Tracey Davis, for example? or McGonagall?
How many prisoners of Azkaban dreamed nightly of such a miraculous rescue?
None. It's a happy thought.
Harry watches a falling star, or a.... what is that...?
GUESS WHO. THINK OF HIM AND HE SHALL COME. And Fawkes does. But Harry backs away in fear. He chickens out saying that there's others he has to save, and Fawkes screams.
It felt like a tightening compulsion in Harry's chest, the desire to just do it and get it over with. He might die, but if he didn't die he could feel clean again. Have principles that were more than excuses for inaction. It was his life. His to spend, if he chose. He could do it any time he wanted...
...if he wasn't a good person.
In the end, Harry decides "not yet" and "come back later when others can cast the True Patronus" and "how about six months?" Fawkes burns up in response. Harry cries.
And then Dumbledore-and Fawkes again--show up. WTF? Oh, wait, there was another phoenix?!
"That everything depended on this," Albus Dumbledore said, still in that almost-whisper, "that much I knew. But which choice led into darkness, that I could not guess. At least the choice was your own."
"I don't -" Harry said, and then his voice stopped.
A terrible hypothesis, rising in credibility...
"The phoenix comes," said the old wizard. "To those who would fight, to those would act even at cost of their lives, the phoenix comes. Phoenixes are not wise, Harry, they know no means to judge us, save witnessing the choice. I thought it was to my death I went, when the phoenix took me to fight Grindelwald. I did not know that Fawkes would sustain me, and heal me, and stay by my side -" The old wizard's voice quavered, for a moment. "It is not spoken of - you should realize, Harry, why it is never spoken of - if the one knew, the phoenix could not judge. But to you, Harry, I may say it now, for the phoenix comes only once."
AW SHITFUCK YOU MISSED IT! And now you can never get that healing, either!
"Three times, now, a phoenix has come for my student. One did send hers away, and the grief of it broke her, I think. And the last was cousin to your young friend Lavender Brown, and he -" The old wizard's voice cracked. "He did not return, did poor John, and he saved none of those he meant to save. It is said, among the few scholars of phoenix-lore, that not one in four returns from their ordeal. And even if you did survive - for the life you must lead, Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres - the choices you must make and the path you must walk - to always hear the phoenix's cries - who is to say it would not have driven you mad?" The old wizard raised his sleeve again, drawing it once more across his face. "I had more joy of Fawkes's companionship, in the days before I fought Voldemort."
The boy did not seem to be listening, all his eyes were on the red-gold bird on the ancient wizard's shoulder. "Fawkes?" the boy said in shaking voice. "Why won't you look at me, Fawkes?"
Fawkes craned his head to peer at the boy curiously, then turned back and resumed gazing at his master.
"See?" said the old wizard. "He does not reject you. Fawkes may not be interested in you in quite that way, now; and he knows -" the wizard smiled wryly, "- that you are not exactly loyal to his master. But one to whom the phoenix comes at all - cannot be one whom a phoenix would dislike."
Ouch. Oh, it's all just so sad. Dumbledore posits that Godric Gryffindor might have sent a phoenix away himself.
"I truly do not know if your choice was wise. I truly do not know if it was the right thing, or the wrong thing. If I knew, Harry, I would have spoken. But I -" Dumbledore's voice broke, then. "I am nothing but a foolish young boy who has become a foolish old man, and I have no wisdom."
Harry screams for it to come back. My heart is breaking reading this. He is no Gryffindor in this series, I think.
The final aftermath: Sybill Trelawney wakes up from a dream, as does Firenze, as do various others. The dream wasn't good or comprehensible. Nobody sleeps well.
Oh, the pain of this chapter. I mostly was finding it rather drift-y and not going anywhere and in Harry's head too much, and then he gets what he wanted and fails at it, rejects it....OH GOD IT'S ALL TOO SAD.
Also, now what? Do things get better or worse?
Four and a half stars.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Sometimes Harry thought the deepest split in his personality wasn't anything to do with his dark side; rather it was the divide between the altruistic and forgiving Abstract Reasoning Harry, versus the frustrated and angry Harry In The Moment."
"In the middle of a horrible bloody war, Dumbledore set one enemy civilian on fire? That's only bad by the standards of comic books, not by any sort of realistic historical standard."
Hermione wakes up to see McGonagall waiting for her. Flitwick did a shift earlier. She wants to know where her parents are, but they've been kept in the dark about all of this, and McG warns her to keep her mouth shut about it. No, she's not expelled. McG says that Harry believes she was memory-charmed and Dumbledore thinks her will was wiped, and "Even Professor Snape finds the affair completely unbelievable, though he may not be able to say so publicly. He was wondering if Muggle drugs might have been used on you."
Hermione flashes back to the whole thing, and McGonagall offers to lock away her memories for her, because there's a reversible Memory Charm form she could use. McG also says she thinks Hermione would never have done it of her own free will and that she kind of agrees with Harry's theory.
Hermione berates herself for not tattling on herself when she woke up the next day and just went to breakfast like nothing had happened. She didn't do the right thing, and she says she's a horrible, awful person and not heroic at all.
OH POOR HERMIONE. And I hear ya on that rant about being horrible, I probably run through that script every day. And I haven't even attempted murder or anything. The joys of being a girl, you can run through that script in half a second in your head. Sadly, Hermione has cause about it. McG does her best to buck Hermione up, tells her today is for crying and tomorrow she'll go back to class.
That was when Hermione knew that Professor McGonagall couldn't help her. She needed someone to scold her, she couldn't be absolved if she couldn't be blamed, and Professor McGonagall would never do that for her, would never ask so much of a little Ravenclaw girl.
It was something Harry Potter wouldn't help her with either.
Hermione turned over in the infirmary bed, huddling into herself, away from Professor McGonagall. "Please," she whispered. "I want to talk - to the Headmaster -"
You want Dumbledore to scold you? I don't think he's gonna be great at that.
I do concur that McGonagall's insistence on the innocence of children gets old at times. I know this takes place in 1992 and it was a simpler time back then, but still, bad shit happens early on sometimes and denial doesn't help that, acknowledgement does. Child soldiers for example...oh wait, like IN THIS BOOK.
Cut to Hermione and Dumbledore. Who has also been crying. Hermione doesn't know what to do except apologize. For what?
"My dear," said Dumbledore, "had you not pledged yourself to the House of Potter, Harry would have attacked Azkaban singlehandedly, and quite possibly won. That boy may choose his words carefully, but I have never yet known him to lie; and in the Boy-Who-Lived there is power that the Dark Lord never knew. He would indeed have tried to break Azkaban, even at cost of his life." The old wizard's voice grew gentler, and kinder. "No, Hermione, you have nothing at all for which to blame yourself."
"I could have made him not do it."
In Dumbledore's eyes a small twinkle appeared before it was lost to weariness. "Really, Miss Granger? Perhaps you should be Headmistress in my place, for I myself have no such power over stubborn children."
Yeah, good point. Also known as "Good luck stopping Harry Potter-Evans-Verres when he thinks necessity exists." He's like a Liaden that way.
"Harry promised -" Her voice stopped. The awful truth was very hard to speak. "Harry Potter promised me - that he would never help me - if I told him not to."
Well, he might have promised, but I seem to recall you wanted his help this time, so.... Hermione tries to says she should have gone to Azkaban, and Dumbledore thinks that's too much to ask of anyone. Shouldn't she have been braver? Why did she lose her shit? Wouldn't a really brave person have taken the bullet? Wouldn't Dumbledore? Dumbledore is all "not as a first year, I wouldn't."
"So I did do the wrong thing." Somehow she needed to say that, to be told that, even though she already knew.
Ouch. I disagree. And I say that as someone who's harsh and mean.
Dumbledore lectures on how most evil people don't think they're evil--they think they're heroes actually. Dumbledore used to think evil was done for the greater good, and he was wrong.
"You are one of the fair things of this world, Hermione Granger, and so that evil hates you as well. If you had stayed firm through even this trial, it would have struck you harder and yet harder, until you shattered. Do not think that heroes cannot be broken! We are only more difficult to break, Hermione." The old wizard's eyes had grown sterner than she had ever seen. "When you have been exhausted for many hours, when pain and death is not a passing fear but a certainty, then it is harder to be a hero. If I must speak the truth - then today, yes, I would not waver in the face of Azkaban. But when I was a first-year in Hogwarts - I would have fled from the Dementor that you confronted, for my father had died in Azkaban, and I feared them. Know this! The evil that struck at you could have broken anyone, even myself. Only Harry Potter has it within him to face that horror, when he has come fully into his power."
Hooooooo boy. Hermione doesn't get that kind of evil, and neither does Dumbledore.
"But at least I know now what true evil would say for itself, if we could speak to it and ask why it was evil. It would say, Why not? "
Well, that's creepy.
A brief flare of indignation inside her. "There's got to be a million reasons why not!"
"Indeed," said Dumbledore's voice. "A million reasons and more. We will always know those reasons, you and I. If you insist on putting it that way - then yes, Hermione, this day's trial broke you. But what happens after you break - that, too, is part of being a hero. Which you are, Hermione Granger, and will always be."
Awwwww. Well, Hermione should feel an "aww," but she doesn't.
McGonagall is waiting for Dumbledore when he comes out of the infirmary. She asks if something is done, and Dumbledore says yes, "If any hostile magic is cast on her, or any spirit touches her, I shall know, and come." MAGICAL TRACKING DEVICE. McG says that Harry thinks Hermione should transfer to Beauxbatons, but Dumbledore denies it, saying that if Voldemort wants her, nowhere else is safe either. At least Hermione is around, warded, and has Harry around. Harry would disagree with that, but too bad for hm. McGonagall brings up Draco's dropping out of Hogwarts and says she told Harry.
"After class, Mr. Potter complimented Lord Malfoy's excellent good sense, and said that he would be writing Madam Longbottom advising her to do the same with her grandson, in case he was the next target. In the event that Mr. Longbottom's guardian was so negligent as to keep him in Hogwarts, Mr. Potter wanted him to have a Time-Turner, an invisibility cloak, a broomstick, and a pouch in which to carry them; also a toe-ring with an emergency portkey to a safe location, in case someone kidnaps Mr. Longbottom and takes him outside Hogwarts's wards. I told Mr. Potter that I did not think the Ministry would consent to such use of our Time-Turners, and he said that we should not ask. I expect he will want Miss Granger to receive the same, if she stays. And for himself Mr. Potter wants a three-person broomstick to carry in his pouch." She wasn't awed by the list of precautions. Impressed with the cleverness, but not awed; she was a Transfiguration Mistress, after all. But it still sent shivers of disquiet through her, that Harry Potter now thought Hogwarts as dangerous as spell research."
I don't know why she's surprised at that. I do get tired of this "McG is kinda innocent and thinks kids should be oblivious to life" thing. Okay, so she's however old and childhood was different back then, but folks grow up fast in the shadow of danger. (See above reference to child soldiers, etc. Which we also have literally here.)
Also, there's a three person broomstick? How huge is it?
Dumbledore says he'll ward Neville and ask him to stay over the holidays and will give Harry what he wants.
"And finally," she said, "Mr. Potter says - this is a direct quote, Albus - whatever kind of Dark Wizard attractant the Headmaster is keeping here, he needs to get it out of this school, now." She couldn't stop the edge in her own voice, that time.
"I asked as much of Flamel," Albus said, the pain clear in his voice. "But Master Flamel has said - that even he can no longer keep safe the Stone - that he believes Voldemort has means of finding it wherever it is hidden - and that he does not consent for it to be guarded anywhere but Hogwarts. Minerva, I am sorry, but it must be done - must! "
"Very well," said Professor McGonagall. "But for myself, I think that Mr. Potter is right on every single count."
As usual. Well, mostly. Dumbledore heads down the Emo Trail once again and asks McGonagall if he's already lost to darkness (himself, not Harry). No, no! He suspects he is, she says he's being silly. He's all, did you think about it before you had Hermione bind herself to the Potters? Nope. Dumbledore thinks it proper that McG's first loyalty is to Harry and not himself, especially if Harry needs to defeat a Dark Lord, whoever that is...
"Not this again!" Minerva said. "Albus, it was You-Know-Who, not you, who marked Harry as his equal. There is no possible way that the prophecy could be talking about you!"
The old wizard nodded, but his eyes still seemed distant, fixed only on the road ahead.
OH DAMN DUMBLEDORE'S A DARK WIZARD NOW. Or now?
Cut to where "Quirrell" is being held. He's got nice cushioning and...
The holding cell, well to the center of Magical Law Enforcement, was luxuriously appointed; more a remark on what adult wizards took for granted, than any special feeling toward prisoners. There was a self-reclining, self-rocking chair with plush, richly textured, self-warming cushions. There was a bookcase containing random books rescued from a bargain bin, and a full shelf of ancient magazines, including one from 1883.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR MAGAZINES WERE OLD, DENTIST AND DOCTOR'S OFFICES.
As for toiletries, well, it wasn't exactly luxurious, but there was a spell on the room which put all that business on hold; you weren't to go anywhere that the watching Auror couldn't see you.
So he doesn't have to pee? THAT IS SO NICE. And now the mild humor is over because...I just have to quote it all directly.
Let us repeat this for emphasis:
The Defense Professor.
Was being detained.
In a cell.
The Defense Professor was staring at the watching Auror and humming.
The Defense Professor has not spoken a single word since he arrived in this particular cell. He has only been humming.
The humming started as a simple children's lullaby, the one that in Muggle Britain begins, Lullaby, and goodnight...
This tune was hummed, without variation, over and over, for seven minutes, to establish the underlying pattern.
Then began the elaborations upon the theme. Phrases hummed too slow, with long pauses in between, so that the listener's mind helplessly waits and waits for the next note, the next phrase. And then, when that next phrase comes, it is so out of key, so unbelievably awfully out of key, not just out of key for the previous phrases but sung at a pitch which does not correspond to any key, that you would have to believe this person had spent hours deliberately practicing their humming just to acquire such perfect anti-pitch.
It bears the same semblance to music as the awful dead voice of a Dementor bears to human speech.
And this horrible, horrible humming is impossible to ignore. It is similar to a known lullaby, but it departs from that pattern unpredictably. It sets up expectations and then violates them, never in any constant pattern that would permit the humming to fade into the background. The listener's brain cannot prevent itself from expecting the anti-musical phrases to complete, nor prevent itself from noticing the surprises.
The only possible explanation for how this mode of humming came to exist is that it was deliberately designed by some unspeakably cruel genius who woke up one day, feeling bored with ordinary torture, who decided to handicap himself and find out whether he could break someone's sanity just by humming at them.
The Auror has been listening to this unimaginably dreadful humming for four hours, while being stared at by a huge, cold, lethal presence that feels equally horrible whether he looks at it directly or lets it hover at the corner of his vision -
The humming stopped.
There was a long wait. Time enough for false hope to rise, and be squashed down by the memory of previous disappointments. And then, as the interval lengthened, and lengthened, that hope rose again unstoppably -
The humming began once more.
The Auror cracked.
From his belt, the Auror took a mirror, tapped it once, and then said, "This is Junior Auror Arjun Altunay, I'm calling in code RJ-L20 on cell three."
"Code RJ-L20?" the mirror said in surprised tones. There was a sound of pages being flipped, then, "You want to be relieved because a prisoner is attempting psychological warfare and succeeding?"
(Amelia Bones really is quite intelligent.)
"What'd the prisoner say to you?" said the mirror.
(This question is not part of procedure RJ-L20, but unfortunately Amelia Bones has failed to include an explicit instruction that the commanding officer should not ask.)
"He's -" said the Auror, and glanced back at the cell. The Defense Professor was now leaning in back in his chair, looking quite relaxed. "He was staring at me! And humming! "
There was a pause.
The mirror spoke again. "And you're calling in an RJ-L20 over that? You're sure you're not just trying to get out of watching him?"
Naturally, the other people laugh their heads off at this and tell him to go back to work, until they're interrupted by the aforementioned Amelia Bones, who will relieve him of duty shortly. Amelia walks in and releases the other guy. She sits down and opens a folder with possible hints to "Quirrell's" identity. Referring to his Yule speech, she says,
"The argument struck me as familiar, though I could not place it at the time. But then, of course, I had thought you dead."
DUM DUM DUMMMMMMMMMM. Amelia tells a story....
"I shall not name any names," said the old witch. "But I shall tell a story, and see if it sounds familiar." Amelia Bones looked back down, turning to the next parchment. "Born 1927, entered Hogwarts in 1938, sorted into Slytherin, graduated 1945. Went on a graduation tour abroad and disappeared while visiting Albania. Presumed dead until 1970, when he returned to magical Britain just as suddenly, without any explanation for the missing twenty-five years. He remained estranged from his family and friends, living in isolation. In 1971, while visiting Diagon Alley, he fended off an attempt by Bellatrix Black to kidnap the daughter of the Minister of Magic, and used the Killing Curse to slay two of the three Death Eaters accompanying her. Beyond this all Britain knows the story; need I continue it?" The old witch looked up from her folder again. "Very well. There was a trial in the Wizengamot, during which this young man was exonerated for his use of the Killing Curse, not least due to the efforts of his grandmother, the Lady of his House. He was reconciled with his family, and they held a House gathering to welcome his return. The guest of honor arrived at that gathering to find his entire family slain by Death Eaters, even to the house elves; and that he himself, of cadet line, was now the last remaining scion of a Most Ancient House."
"The young man took up his family's seat in the Wizengamot, becoming among the most steadfast voices against You-Know-Who. Several times he led forces against the Death Eaters, fighting with skillful tactics and extraordinary power. People began to speak of him as the next Dumbledore, it was thought that he might become Minister of Magic after the Dark Lord fell. On the third of July, 1973, he failed to appear at a key Wizengamot vote, and was never heard from again. We assumed You-Know-Who had killed him. It was a grave blow to all of us, and matters went much the worse from that day on." The old witch's gaze was questioning. "I mourned you myself. What happened?"
Yeah, beats me who this is, though I am not a super Potterfan to be able to answer it if it's in the original text.
"Quirrell" (being referred to as "The Defense Professor" at this point in the text, incidentally) basically declines to confirm or answer this one. She asks what Dumbledore thinks of this, and Dumbledore doesn't know who "Quirrell" is and said he wouldn't ask. (As usual, they're so desperate to have a DADA instructor, I guess.)
"How did he identify you to the Hogwarts wards, then?"
A slight smile. "The Headmaster drew a circle, and told Hogwarts that he who stood within was the Defense Professor."
Oh, interesting chicanery there. Where's that Marauder's Map?
Bones notes "Quirrell's" weird physical symptoms and needs to rest, and she guesses a curse. She asks if she can provide a healer and he says,
"I agreed to teach Defense at Hogwarts," the man in the cell said flatly. "Draw your own conclusions, Madam. And I am missing my classes, of which there are not many left. I would return to Hogwarts, now."
Oooooooof. Well, that answers one thing. Or maybe two.
Hermione wakes up again to find Professor Flitwick and food. After eating, she can go back to her dorm. Harry's waiting for her outside and takes her away. He's been reading up on PTSD.
"Apparently what you really ought to do is run with your mind's natural impulse to repress the memories and just not think about it for a while."
He apologizes for not being there when she woke up, but he wasn't allowed in. He says that she has a lot of defenders, but those people were making up stuff. Nobody was listening to Harry.
"How bad is it?" she said again. This time her voice did come out weaker.
"Remember Asch's conformity experiment?"
I'm not going to recap all of that, but you can probably guess how the results went. Harry says he gave the Chaos Legion anti-conformity training, but nobody else has it. Almost everyone thinks she did it.
"What people really believe doesn't feel like a belief, it feels like the way the world is. You and I are standing in a private little bubble of the universe where Hermione Granger got Memory-Charmed. Everyone else is living in the world where Hermione Granger tried to murder Draco Malfoy. If Ernie Macmillian -"
Her breath caught in her throat. Captain Macmillian -
"- thinks he's ethically prohibited from being your friend now, well, he's trying to do the right thing as he understands it, in the world he thinks he lives in." Harry's eyes were very serious. "Hermione, you've told me a lot of times that I look down too much on other people. But if I expected too much of them - if I expected people to get things right - I really would hate them, then. Idealism aside, Hogwarts students don't actually know enough cognitive science to take responsibility for how their own minds work. It's not their fault they're crazy." Harry's voice was strangely gentle, almost like an adult's. "I know it's going to be harder on you than it would be on me. But remember, eventually the real culprit gets nailed. The truth comes out, everyone who was confidently wrong gets embarrassed."
"And if the real culprit doesn't get caught?" she said in a trembling voice.
...or if it turns out to be me after all?
"Then you can leave Hogwarts and go to the Salem Witches' Institute in America."
"Leave Hogwarts? " She'd never even thought of that possibility except as an ultimate punishment.
"I... Hermione, I think you might want to do that anyway. Hogwarts isn't a castle, it's insanity with walls. You have got other options."
"I'll..." she stammered. "I'll have... to think about it..."
Though on the good news side, I guess Ron is in support of killing Draco. So there's that.
Everyone gives them the cold shoulder when they hit Ravenclaw dorm.
From behind her, she heard Harry Potter saying in a very calm tone, "Now eventually the truth's going to come out, you all. So if you're all that confident she's guilty, can I ask you all to sign this paper right here, saying that if she later turns out to be innocent, she gets to say 'I told you so' and then hold it over you for the rest of your lives? Step on up, one and all, don't be cowards, if you really believe you shouldn't be afraid to bet -"
She was halfway up the stairs when she realized that there would be other girls inside her dorm room, too.
Of course, that's what sucked about dorm life. She needs to go live in Harry's trunk, I think.
AND THEN "QUIRRELL" COMES IN.
The Defense Professor of Hogwarts, number one on the list of people who might've done this. She hadn't even realized she had a suspect list until that moment.
The man stood within that doorway, saying nothing; and she couldn't see his eyes. What was he even doing there in the first place -
"Are you here to kill me?" said Hermione Granger.
Professor Quirrell's head tilted at that.
Then the Defense Professor started toward her, the dark silhouette raising one hand slowly and deliberately, as though to push her off the Ravenclaw tower -
She fends it off, and that pleases him. She loses two Quirrell points for asking that question though! I concur, that's kinda dumb. But she's not thinking too well either, under the circumstances. He says he's responsible for her and thinks she was framed. He was going to be a hero once, he thought.
"I still don't understand it. They should have known that their lives depended on that man's success. And yet it was as if they tried to do everything they could to make his life unpleasant. To throw every possible obstacle into his way. I was not naive, Miss Granger, I did not expect the power-holders to align themselves with me so quickly - not without something in it for themselves. But their power, too, was threatened; and so I was shocked how they seemed content to step back, and leave to that man all burdens of responsibility. They sneered at his performance, remarking among themselves how they would do better in his place, though they did not condescend to step forward."
WHO THE HECK WAS THIS GUY?
Professor Quirrell shook his head as though in bemusement. "And it was the strangest thing - the Dark Wizard, that man's dread nemesis - why, those who served him leapt eagerly to their tasks. The Dark Wizard grew crueler toward his followers, and they followed him all the more. Men fought for the chance to serve him, even as those whose lives depended on that other man made free to render his life difficult... I could not understand it, Miss Granger." Professor Quirrell's face was in shadow, as he looked upward. "Perhaps, by taking on himself the curse of action, that man removed it from all others? Was that why they felt free to hinder his battle against the Dark Wizard who would have enslaved them all? Believing men would act in their own interest was not cynicism, it turned out, but sheerest optimism; in reality men do not meet so high a standard. And so in time that one realized he might do better fighting the Dark Wizard alone, than with such followers at his back."
That's very Harry of you, sir. But those are good points.
"So -" Hermione's voice sounded strange in the night. "You left your friends behind where they'd be safe, and tried to attack the Dark Wizard all by yourself?"
"Why, no," said Professor Quirrell. "I stopped trying to be a hero, and went off to do something else I found more pleasant."
*snerk* Hermione is shocked. "Quirrell" admits that he's perhaps awful, but those who don't try are even worse. She was foolish to expect gratitude.
"It was only expected that you should fight bullies. It was a tax you owed, and they accepted it like princes, with a sneer for the lateness of your payment. And you have already witnessed, I wager, that their fondness vanished like dust in the wind once it was no longer in their interest to associate with you..."
OUCH about that tax...but true. Humans suck. No wonder I like this fake guy, he's as blackhearted as I am in some ways. Except I never dealt with a Dark Lord so I have no excuse.
The Defense Professor slowly straightened off the balcony, standing almost straight, turning to regard her fully.
"But you don't have to be a hero, Miss Granger," said Professor Quirrell. "You can stop anytime you please."
...had occurred to her before, several times over the last two days.
Again, good points. What's right? Maybe everything.
"As your teacher, then, I am advising you that you have other career options. I should not like to see anyone else going down my path."
"Quirrell" says he can't ward Hermione (Dumbledore won't let him, "for what he claims to be good reasons") and she's being targeted. He recommends Beauxbatons too.
"Whatever you wish to make of your life, you cannot attain it at Hogwarts, not anymore. This place is ruined for you now, even leaving aside all other threats. Simply ask Harry Potter to command you to go to Beauxbatons and live out your life in peace. If you stay here, he is your master in the eyes of Britain and its laws!"
Ouch. Also, Harry threatens everybody because he can't think sensibly when it comes to her. And that's when it occurs to her that--
if the Defense Professor was behind this whole thing - then Professor Quirrell had done it all just to get her out of the way of his plans for Harry.
OMG!!!!! He pressures her to decide tonight. She is debating and freaking out in her head (of course) but says nothing. Quirrell leaves. Hermione cries.
Well, that was depressing, ominous, and confusing. I don't know what to make of it. I've been reading it for forever. I am leaning towards either 3.5 or 4 stars-- some things are freaky and some frustrating. Okay, fine, four.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Professor Flitwick seemed to accept this, and departed after a stern look at both of them. She couldn't imagine what the stern look was supposed to say, unless it was don't try to kill any more students."
"I suppose I should be out there trying to run damage control on public relations, but... honestly I've never been good at that, I just end up speaking sharply at people."
"The boy is fortunate that I have crossed the line from annoyance with his self-destructiveness, into sheer curiosity as to what he shall do next."
This is the sequel to a book called Weep No More, My Lady, which I haven't read. It features Alvirah and Willy Meehan, who used to be a cleaning woman and plumber before winning the lottery. Now they live in luxury and take fancy trips and hobnob with the rich-- and Alvirah has a few alternate careers as a newspaper columnist and amateur sleuth. This collection of stories are various adventures in crime-solving that Alvirah gets up to--with the assistance of her husband and a trademark "sunburst pin" gifted to her by her editor that has a secret recording device in it. (I have to admit that reading this 20 years later sure makes the technology look...quaint.)
Amazon.com kinda nails it for me: "these stories may prove mildly entertaining, but because they're so short, there's little opportunity for any real development of motive, plot, or character."
The stories are:
The Body In The Closet: Alvirah and Willy have just returned home from a trip. In their absence, their playwright nephew Brian has been using their apartment. Imagine their surprise when Alvirah finds a corpse in the closet, and it's Brian's difficult lead actress. Of course Brian is a suspect...as is the other lady in the play who's a far more suitable woman to date than the victim was. In the end, it's kinda suspicious that a bigwig is taking notice of Brian's work...a married bigwig that the dead actress was dating.
Death on the Cape: Alvirah's new neighbor is someone who just got out of jail for a crime she didn't commit- she was framed big time. Cynthia was on a horrible date when her stepfather was killed, and the only witness to the event was an older woman who's never been found since. Alvirah gets the idea that she can pass for that woman* and help Cynthia worm the truth out of the folks who set her up.
Plumbing for Willy: After Alvirah and Willy are on the Donahue Show on an episode about lottery winners, they get targeted by a gang of kidnappers, who kidnap Willy and want Alvirah to give them a few million.... and then they definitely plan on killing Willy. After having issues trying to get a hold of that much money, Alvirah discovers that TODAY New Yorkers can now find out where their incoming phone calls are now coming from. After tracing the divey hotel the call came from, she dresses up as her old self* and gets a cleaning job in the building so she can scope out where Willy is. Meanwhile in captivity, Willy manages to convince his captors to let him fix the plumbing....
A Clean Sweep: Alvirah and Willy are called to the aid of another lottery winner....except this one has no winnings. Nelly Monahan's jerkass husband claimed they didn't win the lottery when their usual numbers came up...then he quickly dumped her and married another woman. She's probably out of luck for getting that money legally, but Alvirah lends her a recording device pin so she can try to record her ex spilling the beans about what he did. Not only does that not go so well...the ex ends up dead. Nelly is pretty sure killed him....but did she actually do it or was she set up?
The Lottery Winner: Alvirah has made friends with the owner of the Cypress Point Spa, Min. After the events of the previous book, Min calls her for help when a guest's expensive jewelry goes missing. Even worse: it's Nadine's husband's big shot family jewelry AND her son Bobby didn't pay the insurance on them...and the marriage is on the rocks even before this. Suspiciously, the husband's first wife is also at the spa at the same time.... and then the husband ends up clubbed. This one has some slightly less predictable suspects in it, so that's an improvement.
Bye, Baby Bunting: Alvirah's old neighbor Joan has finally had a baby...and then as Alvirah and Willy are heading into the hospital to visit, they see what they think is a nurse walking out with a baby. Nope, the baby's just been kidnapped for the holidays!...and from the perspective we see, we see that the kidnapper is a very mentally ill woman who "didn't mean to hurt" her previous dead children...and she shakes the baby and doesn't take care of it...and the kidnapper's grandma is having a hard time trying to take care of the baby over the protests of her granddaughter. This is pretty scary, and Alvirah's having a very hard time finding the woman despite having seen her. All she can do is fixate on the yellow baby bunting she spotted, which she saw...somewhere else.... But eventually after praying, she gets a break in the case.
* Alvirah twice gets the idea to dress up as her "old self" from before the lottery--she's saved her old garish wardrobe that didn't fit well and re-dyes her hair with screeching red henna--so as to pose as a broke woman. This is kinda amusing to read and an interesting trick...but it's kind of weird to have her doing the same trick twice in a row.
The thing that drives me nuts about mystery short stories is that there's ah...usually so few options for suspects, so the cases seem really super easy under circumstances like that. A lot of these cases were essentially quick shots. Alvirah is a fun, adventurous character to hang out with and I can see why this book would be a fan favorite, but some stories are better than others when they're not quite as quick of a shot. To be fair, as the stories go on they get a bit more depth and options for whodunit, so it got better. I liked how Alvirah was genuinely having problems finding who she was looking for in the later stories and how it took some doing to get things done.
Overall, I'll give it three stars. Not bad but not outstanding, mostly a fun fluff read.
Harry is staring into space as Padma enters the classroom, thinking about all the rumors she's heard lately.
"Rumor said that the Aurors had discovered that the Defense Professor had Polyjuiced as Granger to fool Malfoy.
Rumor said that Hermione had been bound by the Unbreakable Vow to be Draco Malfoy's slave.
Rumor said that Hermione had gotten the Dementor's Kiss."
Someone's been reading the Quibbler again, I see.
McG enters the room and starts teaching as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened this week. Padma can't stand it any more and asks what happened with Hermione, figuring it couldn't have been that bad if Harry is still here and not on a rampage or whatever. McG is all what, you haven't heard it through the grapevine? and Padma wants to know what rumors are actually TRUE. Good point, PP. After another student starts rumormongering even worse, McG grumbles that:
"The affair was utterly ridiculous and I shan't go into detail. Let it stand that Miss Granger is resting with Madam Pomfrey for now, and coming back to classes tomorrow. And if I catch anyone bothering her, I shall turn them into glass vases and drop them."
The entire class gasped at this; it wasn't so much that the threat was fatal, as that it broke the safety rules for Transfiguration."
Ah, and it's that last bit that made me snicker in this moment of doom. Terry Boot takes the opportunity to ask where the hell Quirrell is, and he's still being detained by the Aurors.
"If they have not given back our Defense Professor by tomorrow, I shall ask the Headmaster to go fetch him. Though I may as well tell you now that the Board of Governors has scheduled a vote on whether Professor Quirrell's battles shall be allowed to continue."
As for the missing Draco....
"Mr. Malfoy's health is in no danger, I am given to understand. Unfortunately, I have received an owl from Mr. Malfoy's father withdrawing him from Hogwarts. I am afraid he is not coming back."
Well....two and a half stars for anticlimactic board clearing, I guess. Weird. I dunno, I feel uncomfortable reading this and unlike the other kids, I actually know what happened. It's a weird, short chapter and just seems like it's here to drop the bomb that Draco's gonna be home schooled, or whatever. (Durmstrang?)
This book kicks off The Custard Protocol, the followup series to the Parasol Protectorate (last book here), taking place around 20 years later in 1895 and featuring Alexia's daughter Prudence, all grown up. Warning: this review is going to mention developments from the end of Timeless without spoiler cutting. If you care.
"If Dama had taught her nothing else, it was that the outrageous was often one's best disguise. It is a very great thing, my Puggle, not to be taken seriously, he once said. If two young ladies of high socieity showed up on one's tower claiming a pleasure tour, it was more believable if their dirigible looked like an enormous, friendly beetle."
Lady Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama is probably the most unusual person in her universe. Her biological parents are a preternatural and a werewolf, and she's also been adopted by a vampire, and it pretty much took a village of vampire/werewolves/drones/clavigers/a preternatural just to catch her as a kid. Rue (she still hates her name and goes by this version) is the world's only metanatural--she can temporarily take the abilities of a supernatural creature on in herself, leaving them mortal until she gets far enough away from her victim or the sun comes up. This leads to Rue tending to not have super amounts of modesty issues and ah...not so much caring about her wardrobe being destroyed or sometimes sticking to more easily removable clothing. Though at times I was all, why didn't you just take your dress off before shredding it when you wolfed out? What a waste!
Anyway, we do get to hear a bit about how other folks are doing in the PP universe. I was kind of surprised at how certain characters seem to be a bit...estranged? Like Ivy is kind of against the idea of her kid hanging out at Lord Akeldama's--maybe it's a vampire thing, but I thought it was weird. And despite her mother living NEXT DOOR, it's mentioned that Rue doesn't see her mother much and never has. It was a little unexpected given how everyone seemed to pal around previously. Rue and her mother don't get along very well, being strong independent personalities, but she's closer to her dads, Paw and Dama. And speaking of, Dama decides that his daughter needs An Occupation and gifts her with her own dirigible, which Rue christens The Spotted Custard because she likes custard and paints it to look like a ladybug. And he gives her a job--go off to India to look into acquiring a new form of tea he's found out about.
Rue immediately enlists her best friend since they were babies, The Hounorable Primrose Tunstell. Prim is also pretty reminiscent of her mother--hat obsession, wardrobe obsession, concerned with how things look--but isn't as flighty/dingy as her "Queen Mums." (And Prim's references to her mother are pretty funny.) And upon her Dama's recommendation, Rue recruits two fellows to be chief engineer and navigator even though they're both difficult to deal with. One of those fellows is Professor* Percy Tunstell, Prim's difficult, intellectual twin who is somehow a lady-magnet despite his general disinterest in them. The other is Quesnel Lefoux, all grown up, and Rue has some kind of Slap Slap Kiss sexual tension thing going on with him that is pretty teasing on both their sides. So yes, it's kinda "Parasol Protectorate: The Next Generation." I don't see anything wrong with that, though. There's also dirigible crew members, most memorably the incredibly spikey Aggie Phlinkerlington and a charming/game for ANYTHING female sootie called Spoo.
* Is "Professor" more of an honorary term for a male nerd in this universe? Just wondering, because Percy seems a bit young for that and also doesn't seem to be holding down a university job.
On the way to India, Rue has a few mysterious encounters--she meets a werelioness calling herself Sekhmet who later joins them in India and gets a code book from her father that's a novel Ivy wrote under a pen name. And Sekhmet seems to think that Rue is on some other kind of mission than the one that Rue actually knows about. To be honest, this aspect of the plot gets kind of annoying/frustrating after awhile and you just wish she'd spit it out already. But it involves Lord Akeldama's agents going missing, including the new young wife of the perennial fiance Brigadier Featherstonehaugh, who was a running off-screen joke in the PP books but actually makes an appearance here.**
** I kept wondering if we were supposed to recognize his wife as being someone we know or related to someone we've known, but she's younger than Rue and her first name is never mentioned--she and her husband are the sorts to have terrible schmoopy pet names for each other. So who knows. Probably not. I do wonder if she attended Finishing School though? And speaking of Finishing School, I did wonder if that series was going to turn up in this one, but other than a brief mention, it doesn't come up.
Sekhmet seems to be some sort of facilitating agent, though what her game is is never quite clear. We're told it's the nature of being a cat. Which...yeah, she's written as a cat-personality very well. And we also get to see the Kingair pack again, as they are currently in Scotland and in hot water for losing Mrs. Featherstonehaugh. Professor Lyall seems to be doing well and offers Rue some assistance, including the voluntary loan of his powers. And he really wants some scientific details on her condition too! And even though Rue and her many times great-niece Lady Kingair don't get to talk much, their "aunt" and "niece" references to each other never failed to make me smile and quietly snicker to myself.
The plot of this one isn't quite so much about tea as it is the discovery of other werecreatures in the world--which Rue, as a "soul-stealer," ends up taking advantage of. I did wonder how her temporary shapeshifting skills were going to play out as an advantage/disadvantage in this book, but I think they were used to great effect. It was very cool to see how Rue enjoys her powers, but also has disadvantages to them at times, such as trying to figure out how to use a body that's not hers while in the midst of crisis. The British Empire, unlike other nations in this world apparently, is very welcoming to ALL supernaturals--something that Rue herself really appreciates because that sort of thing allows her to well, exist. However, this policy turns out to be a problem when the Indian supernatural species are at war with each other--and one side firmly refuses to ally with anyone who allies with the other one. To be fair, the Indian vampires--rakshashas--do seem to be creepier sorts than the usual British vampires. Or at least they come off as generally unpleasant--and they're tax collectors to boot, which doesn't help (and is commented on). So Rue and her associates are essentially trying to stop a war... which is kind of hard to do when you're not super knowledgeable of the local politics.
I've read afewreviews that were complaining about this aspect of the book, big time. I'm not going to go into that sort of detail here, though. We are talking about British colonialism in the 1800's, for crying out loud-- most people were not super great at relations with people of color back then, period. And yeah, in 2015 we find it "problematic" that white people are swooping in to try to solve the problems of people of color. But...this is not taking place in a time period where people cared about that, eh? I just think that you should not reasonably expect political correctness of our time to apply there. Whether or not you like that is up to you and if that bothers you, you probably shouldn't be reading this book. *** I thought the best commentary on this that I've seen was by Ursula in the tor.com link: as a young British aristocrat, Rue is going to come with certain biases. And I think the story is doing the best it can on trying to deal with acceptance of differences and personal biases, while trying to communicate with a language barrier to boot. Essentially, Rue just wants everyone to get along, and I don't see anything wrong with that.
*** This is sort of reminding me of Downton Abbey a bit, specifically the handling of Thomas being outed to the household. Much as it personally delighted me that Lord Grantham made an incredibly amusing crack about all the boys trying to kiss him at Eton and that most of the household other than Carson and the other footmen weren't particularly bothered by his homosexuality....that probably wasn't super realistic for the time period. Having a relatively tolerant household is something that makes it more comfortable for viewers in the 2010's to see, but not super accurate for the time period. And lord knows if Gail Carriger is into anything, it's painstaking research and time period accuracy for the non-supernatural, non-steampunk aspects.
Overall, I really liked this one. I just haven't been feeling the Finishing School series as much--I think it just bugs the hell out of me that I've never exactly been able to figure out where it's going and how it fits into the future-- but skipping ahead in time and finally getting to meet an adult Rue and seeing how her life goes was a really fun time. I like that Rue's kind of heading towards being some kind of ambassador-ish person and getting up to adventures. She's definitely a different personality from her parents--more impulsive and a little more naive, but raring to go at putting her skills to work in the wider world. I also enjoyed how Rue is at heart an actress and picks out different personalities to act out in different situations--especially the ones inspired by her parents. Prim also has a great time acting at times, joining right in. The flirtation she has going on with the kinda-unsuitable Quesnel on top of that is fun too.
Speaking as someone who's not really into descriptions--the dress descriptions sound freaking marvelous and I wish I could have seen pictures. Also, I'd love to see the Malta Tower, which sounds insane. (I was also amused at how the author wrote the outfit Rue wears on the cover into the book--when Rue is dressing up in disguise as some kind of prostitute!) Other than the "god, just spit it out already" moments in the middle of the book where you're just waiting for someone to tell Rue what's going on, I thought this book did a great job of introducing a new world and new characters and making it all a delight to read about. So four stars from me.
Traveling via phoenix is very flamey. Very, very flamey. Harry traveled with Dumbledore and Hermione via fire, McG takes the Floo. If you care. Madam Pomfrey rushes in. Dumbledore poofs Harry out again into his office.
"In time the boy enunciated words slowly and precisely.
"I cannot believe that a phoenix is still upon your shoulder."
"The phoenix chooses but once," said the old wizard. "They might perhaps leave a master who chooses evil over good; they will not leave a master forced to choose between one good and another. Phoenixes are not arrogant. They know the limits of their own wisdom." Stern indeed, that ancient gaze. "Unlike you, Harry."
Oh god, we're gonna have another one of those arguments again. *smacks head into monitor*
Harry and Dumbledore argue about Galleons--what, the money's not worth her life? and "Hey, I saw your face as you were considering giving away your fortune." Harry concurs he wasn't super thrilled about it but did it anyway and that's what counts. Also, Hermione's life isn't worth that much money? (If I were her, I'd be pretty offended.)
"Are you familiar with the economic concept of 'replacement value'?" The words were spilling from Harry's lips almost faster than he could consider them. "Hermione's replacement value is infinite! There's nowhere I can go to buy another one!"
Now you're just talking mathematical nonsense, said Slytherin. Ravenclaw, back me up here?"
They argue if Harry would sacrifice McG to save Hermione, and Harry says yes, that's part of her job and she knows it. Then her value isn't infinite either, says Dumbledore, and he goes on to grumble that Harry's already lost his war. Harry starts bitching that "Lucius was right" and since Dumbledore never had a family, he doesn't get it. Dumbledore drags Harry around, muttering "Phoenix's price." Dumbledore loads up the Pensieve and makes Harry go in.
In the memory: Dumbledore doesn't want to lose the last of his family and is told by Moody he has no choice.
"I'm not asking," growled the man. "Voldie's the one who's asking, and you're going to tell him no."
"For money, Alastor?" Dumbledore's voice was begging. "Only for money?"
"You ransom Aberforth, you lose the war," the man said sharply. "That simple. One hundred thousand Galleons is nearly all we've got in the war-chest, and if you use it like this, it won't be refilled. What'll you do, try to convince the Potters to empty their vault like the Longbottoms already did? Voldie's just going to kidnap someone else and make another demand. Alice, Minerva, anyone you care about, they'll all be targets if you pay off the Death Eaters. That's not the lesson you should be trying to teach them."
So I guess Aberforth and his goats aren't in this universe. Harry surfaces from the Pensieve.
"Do you also wish to see my brother as he died under the Cruciatus?" said Albus Dumbledore. "Voldemort sent me that memory as well!"
"And that - " Harry was having trouble producing a voice, for the growing sickness in his chest. "That was when -" The words seemed to burn in his throat, as the awful knowledge dawned on him, the horrible understanding. "That was when you burned Narcissa Malfoy alive in her own bedroom."
Albus Dumbledore's gaze was cold as he answered. "To that question only a fool would say yea or nay."
"What matters is that the Death Eaters believe I killed her, and that belief kept safe the families of all who served the Order of the Phoenix - until this day. Now do you understand what you have done? What you have done to your friends, Harry Potter, and to any that stand with you?" The old wizard seemed to grow still taller and more terrible, as his voice rose louder. "You have made them all targets, and targets they will remain! Until you prove, the only way it can be proven, that you are no longer willing to pay such prices!"
Hoo boy. Harry wants to know if Narcissa got her hands dirty or was only an enabler, and Dumbledore says that nothing else but destroying her would have convinced the bad guys. After his brother died, he started debating in his head who he'd risk and who he'd sacrifice if he had to and why.
"It was strange how many fewer pieces I lost, once I knew what they were worth."
I'm not a chess player, but that sounds bad. Harry says from Lucius's POV, someone else broke truce first, so how much was Hermione worth again? (Dude, stop pounding that anvil. We get it.) Harry says his worst memory in front of the Dementor was his parents dying.
"And here's the thing," Harry said, "here's the thing I've been thinking about over and over. The Dark Lord gave Lily Potter the chance to walk away. He said that she could flee. He told her that dying in front of the crib wouldn't save her baby. 'Step aside, foolish woman, if you have any sense in you at all -'" An awful chill came over Harry as he spoke those words from his own lips, but he shook it off and continued. "And afterward I kept thinking, I couldn't seem to stop myself from thinking, wasn't the Dark Lord right? If only Mother had stepped away. She tried to curse the Dark Lord but it was suicide, she had to have known that it was suicide. Her choice wasn't between her life and mine, her choice was for herself to live or for both of us to die! If she'd only done the logical thing and walked away, I mean, I love Mum too, but Lily Potter would be alive right now and she would be my mother!" Tears were blurring Harry's eyes. "Only now I understand, I know what Mother must have felt. She couldn't step aside from the crib. She couldn't! Love doesn't walk away!"
It was like the old wizard had been struck, struck by a chisel that shattered him straight down the middle."
Hooooooooooooooo boy. Screaming, crying, and stomping out of the office ensues.
Harry's in the Transfigurations classroom before anyone else. He continues to argue with himself and all of his various personalities about Dumbledore.
"You'd already read about Philip Tetlock's experiments on people asked to trade off a sacred value against a secular one, like a hospital administrator who has to choose between spending a million dollars on a liver to save a five-year-old, and spending the million dollars to buy other hospital equipment or pay physician salaries. And the subjects in the experiment became indignant and wanted to punish the hospital administrator for even thinking about the choice. Do you remember reading about that, Harry Potter? Do you remember thinking how very stupid that was, since if hospital equipment and doctor salaries didn't also save lives, there would be no point in having hospitals or doctors? Should the hospital administrator have paid a billion pounds for that liver, even if it meant the hospital going bankrupt the next day?
"Shut up!" the boy whispered.
Every time you spend money in order to save a life with some probability, you establish a lower bound on the monetary value of a life. Every time you refuse to spend money to save a life with some probability, you establish an upper bound on the monetary value of life. If your upper bounds and lower bounds are inconsistent, it means you could move money from one place to another, and save more lives at the same cost. So if you want to use a bounded amount of money to save as many lives as possible, your choices must be consistent with some monetary value assigned to a human life; if not then you could reshuffle the same money and do better. How very sad, how very hollow the indignation, of those who refuse to say that money and life can ever be compared, when all they're doing is forbidding the strategy that saves the most people, for the sake of pretentious moral grandstanding..."
Basically, Harry feels bad for saying that to Dumbledore, since Dumbledore hasn't deliberately tried to hurt his feelings. Also, he won't fight back. Is Harry being a bully just like his dad?
"Somehow he'd known from the very beginning, that if he stepped outside his ethics whenever there was a reason, the end result wouldn't be good.
A final image came to him, then: Lily Potter standing in front of her baby's crib and measuring the intervals between outcomes: the final outcome if she stayed and tried to curse her enemy (dead Lily, dead Harry), the final outcome if she walked away (live Lily, dead Harry), weighing the expected utilities, and making the only sensible choice.
She would've been Harry's mother if she had.
"But human beings can't live like that," the boy's lips whispered to the empty classroom. "Human beings can't live like that."
"The Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot, in plum-colored robes marked with a silver 'W', stared down in stern rebuke at a young girl trembling in chains. If they had, in any particular ethical system, damned themselves, they clearly thought quite highly of themselves for having done so."
Humans are evil.
"Lucius Malfoy was smiling in grim satisfaction. "And now," said the white-maned wizard, "I say that her debt shall be paid -"
Harry clenched his fists beneath the bench and shouted, "By the debt owed from House Malfoy to House Potter!"
"It wasn't the world's most solid hope, it was based on one newspaper article from a woman who'd been False-Memory-Charmed, but Rita Skeeter had seemed to find it plausible, that Mr. Weasley had allegedly owed James Potter a debt because...
"I'm surprised you've forgotten," Harry said evenly. "Surely it was a cruel and painful period of your life, laboring under the Imperius curse of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, until you were freed of it by the efforts of House Potter. By my mother, Lily Potter, who died for it, and by my father, James Potter, who died for it, and by me, of course."
There was a brief silence within the Most Ancient Hall.
"Why, what an excellent point, Mr. Potter," said the old witch who'd been identified as Madam Bones. "I, too, am quite surprised that Lord Malfoy would forget such a significant event. It must have been such a happy day for him."
"Yes," said Augusta Longbottom. "He must have been so grateful."
GAMBIT!!!!!! Madam Bones agrees. Lucius tries to claim the two debts don't cancel each other out and he wants some money on top of that. One hundred thousand Galleons, of course.
Harry's various House personas argue about the expense of this in his head.
"Could a hundred thousand Galleons be used to save more than one life if spent some other way? said Slytherin. We have research to do, battles to fight, the difference between being 40,000 Galleons rich and being 60,000 Galleons in debt is not trivial -
So we'll just use one of our ways to make money fast and earn it all back, said Hufflepuff.
It's not certain those will work, said Slytherin, and a lot of them require starting cash -
Personally, said Gryffindor, I vote that we save Hermione and then gang up and kill our inner Slytherin."
Hah. Let's go with that. Much as I get tired of the multiple personality disorder thing at times, that was funny. Harry accepts. But Dumbledore says no, because he's the guardian of the vault.
"I cannot let you go into debt to Lucius Malfoy, Harry! I cannot! You do not know - you do not realize -"
Harry didn't even know which part of himself had spoken, it might have been a unanimous vote, the pure rage and fury pouring through him. For an instant he thought that the sheer force of the anger might take magical wing and fly out to strike the Headmaster, send him tumbling back dead from the podium -
But when that mental voice had spoken, the old wizard was still standing there, gazing at Harry, long dark wand in his right hand, short black rod in his left.
And Harry's eyes also went to the red-golden bird with its claws resting on the shoulder of Dumbledore's black robes, silent when no phoenix should have been silent. "Fawkes," Harry said, his voice sounding strange in his own ears, "can you scream at him for me?"
"Then I too will do what I must," Harry said up to Dumbledore, as though the two of them stood alone in the room. "You do realize that, don't you?"
The old wizard shook his trembling head. "You will change your mind when you are older -"
"I'm not talking about that," Harry said, his voice still strange in his own ears. "I mean that I will not allow Hermione Granger to be eaten by Dementors under any circumstances. Period. Regardless of what any law says, and no matter what I have to do to stop it. Do I still need to spell it out?"
"Harry waited, staring at the old wizard, and then spoke again. "I will go to Azkaban,"
Harry said to the old wizard, as though they stood alone in the world, "before Hermione can be taken there, and start snapping my fingers. It may cost me my life, but by the time she gets there, there won't be an Azkaban anymore."
The Wizengamot thinks this is funny. More fools, they. I'm not gonna recap the redundant argument Harry and Dumbledore have again.
"This is terrible folly," said the old wizard.
"I am aware of this," answered the hero. "Now get out of my way."
Strange light glinted in the ancient blue eyes. "As you will, Harry Potter, but know that this is not over."
The rest of the world faded back into existence.
"I withdraw my objection," said the old wizard, "Harry Potter may do as he wishes," and the Wizengamot exploded in a roar of shock, only to be silenced by a final tap of the stone rod."
"Harry turned his head back to look at Lord Malfoy, who looked like he'd seen a cat turn into a person and start eating other cats. To call the look confused did not begin to describe it."
"You would truly..." Lucius Malfoy said slowly. "You would truly pay a hundred thousand Galleons, to save one mudblood girl."
"I think there's about forty thousand in my Gringotts vault," Harry said. It was strange how that was still causing more internal pain than the thought of taking an over-fifty-percent risk to his life to destroy Azkaban. "As for the other sixty thousand - what are the rules, exactly?"
"It comes due when you graduate Hogwarts," the old wizard said from high above. "But Lord Malfoy has certain rights over you before then, I fear."
Lucius Malfoy stood motionless, frowning down at Harry. "Who is she to you, then? What is she to you, that you would pay so much to keep her from harm?"
"My friend," the boy said quietly.
Lucius Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "By the report I received, you cannot cast the Patronus Charm, and Dumbledore knows this. The power of a single Dementor nearly killed you. You would not dare venture near Azkaban in your own person -"
"That was in January," said Harry. "This is April."
Lucius Malfoy's eyes remained cool and calculating. "You pretend you can destroy Azkaban, and Dumbledore pretends to believe it."
Harry did not reply."
Yeah, make a note of that.
"The white-haired man turned slightly, toward the center of the half-circle, as though to address the greater Wizengamot. "I withdraw my offer!" shouted the Lord of Malfoy. "I will not accept the debt to House Potter in payment, not even for a hundred thousand Galleons! The girl's blood debt to House Malfoy stands!"
Now here's where Lucius makes a mistake.
"The girl is no part of House Potter; the debt I owe House Potter is no debt to her. As for the dishonor -" Lucius Malfoy paused. "As for the grave shame I feel at my ingratitude toward the Potters, who have done so much for me -" Lucius Malfoy bowed his head. "May my ancestors forgive me."
"Well, boy?" called the scarred man sitting at Lord Malfoy's right hand. "Go and destroy Azkaban, then!"
"I'd like to see that," said another voice. "Will you be selling tickets?"
"The girl is no part of House Potter -
He had, in fact, seen the obvious way out of the dilemma almost instantly.
It might have taken him longer if he hadn't recently overheard a number of conversations between older Ravenclaw girls, and read a certain number of Quibbler stories."
How romantic! I totally swoon!
Harry has forgotten all about McGonagall because he didn't think she could help the situation. Until she jumps up and yells "With me, Mr. Potter!" and runs down to Hermione.
Ah, she has a better idea.
"Mr. Potter, hold out your wand so that Miss Granger's fingers can touch it. Miss Granger, repeat after me. Upon my life and magic -"
Harry did as he was bid, thrusting his wand forward to touch Hermione's fingers; and then Hermione's faltering voice said, "Upon my life and magic -"
"I swear service to the House of Potter -" said Professor McGonagall.
And Hermione, without waiting for any further instructions, said, the words spilling out of her in a rush, "I swear service to the House of Potter, to obey its Master or Mistress, and stand at their right hand, and fight at their command, and follow where they go, until the day I die.
All those words had been blurted out in a desperate gasp before Harry could have thought or said anything, if he'd been mad enough to interrupt.
"Mr. Potter, repeat these words," said Professor McGonagall. "I, Harry, heir and last scion of the Potters, accept your service, until the end of the world and its magic."
Harry took a breath and said, "I, Harry, heir and last scion of the Potters, accept your service, until the end of the world and its magic."
"That's it," said Professor McGonagall. "Well done."
"And then Minerva McGonagall, who was Head of House Gryffindor even if she didn't always act like it, looked up high above at where Lucius Malfoy stood; and she said to him before the entire Wizengamot, "I regret every point I ever gave you in Transfiguration, you vile little worm."
*applauds* I love her.
The Wizengamot adjourns for lunch, because THAT's a priority compared to life and death of a kid. Lucius is mad. Umbridge promises to watch Hermione very closely since she's an attempted murderer and all. Harry gets distracted by a Dementor, and we find out what his dark side's solution to the problem would have been.
"The Dementors are Death, and the Patronus Charm works by thinking about happy thoughts instead of Death.
If Harry's theory was correct, that one sentence would be all it took to pop the Aurors' Patronus Charms like a soap bubble, and ensure that nobody within reach of his voice could cast another one.
I am going to cancel the Patronus Charms and prevent any more Patronuses from being cast. And then my Dementor, flying faster than any broomstick, is going to Kiss everyone here who voted to send a twelve-year-old girl to Azkaban.
Say that, to set up the if-then expectation, and wait for people to understand and laugh. Then speak the fatal truth; and when the Aurors' Patronuses winked out to prove the point, either people's anticipations of the mindless void, or Harry's threat of its destruction, would make the Dementor obey. Those who had sought to compromise with the darkness would be consumed by it.
It was the other solution his dark side had devised."
Oh boy. Harry approaches the Patronus, thinks his happy thoughts of saving Hermione, shoves his emotion at the Dementor and shouts BOO, and scares the crap out of it. This shocks Umbridge.
"I make you this one offer," said the Boy-Who-Lived. "I never learn that you've been interfering with me or any of mine. And you never find out why the unkillable soul-eating monster is scared of me. Now sit down and shut up."
The toad-woman fell back down to her bench without a word."
"A riddle, Lord Malfoy!" the Boy-Who-Lived shouted across the Most Ancient Hall. "I know you weren't in Ravenclaw, but try to answer this one anyway! What destroys Dark Lords, frightens Dementors, and owes you sixty thousand Galleons?"
For an instant Lord Malfoy stood there with eyes slightly widened; then his face fell back into calm scorn, and his voice spoke coolly in reply. "Are you openly threatening me, Mr. Potter?"
"I'm not threatening you," said the Boy-Who-Lived. "I'm scaring you. There's a difference."
*applauds some more* Loving this chapter.
"Enough, Mr. Potter," said Professor McGonagall. "We shall be late for afternoon Transfiguration as it is. And do come back here, you're still terrifying that poor Dementor."
Oh god, this response is priceless. Hermione has her chains removed and she collapses into not Harry's arms, but McG's. Harry's a little bit miffed. Hermione cries. McG reassures Harry she'll be fine after a few hours in Madam Pomfrey's. Let's all go home.
There's a very long paragraph that boils down to "The Wizengamot members don't really give a shit about learning about powerful wizards. It's just a fact to him that now he's The Boy Who Frightens Dementors." Except a few deep thinkers who "mark it as a clue" and "add it to the list."
"This list is beginning to look somewhat alarming.
It doesn't particularly help when the boy yells "BOO!" at a Dementor and the decaying corpse presses itself flat against the opposite wall and its horrible ear-hurting voice rasps, "Make him go away."
Four and a half stars, going to McGonagall for the ultimate solution that doesn't require marriage. You go, ma'am.
This is one of those "you should read this" books that I finally got around to reading. It wasn't bad.
"Less than a month ago, I was within days of an Ivy League degree and a career at my father's side. Now I'm one step away from being a bum--a circus worker who has disgraced himself not once, but twice, in as many days."
This is the story of Jacob Jankowski, a retired veterinarian who at the age of ninety or ninety-three (he's not sure which he is any more) is trapped in a nursing home, hating it, his family rarely sees him and he forgets who the hell they are when he doesn't see his descendants very much and they can't even be arsed to show up to take him to the circus when it's in town, etc. This part of the story is generally depressing. However, most of what we're reading about is when Jacob was a young man about to graduate from Cornell with his veterinary degree during the Depression. After his parents die in a car wreck and he finds out that they were broke and he has nothing to go home to, Jacob staggers out of his final exams and hops the nearest train going by (oh, the 30's....), which Just Happens to be the Benzini Brothers Circus. And naturally, it's pretty easy to get a job with the circus when you're an Ivy League veterinarian (albeit one who just ran out on his exams). I say "job" loosely because I don't think Jacob or anyone else EVER gets paid because the circus's owner, Al, is an amazingly terrible businessman, they don't seem to make much money, and he starts throwing employees OFF THE TRAIN whenever he's really broke or pissed off or whatever. Hoo boy, is that a crappy circus.
(And I have to warn y'all who get triggered on things: at one point early on, Jacob gets raped while he's way too drunk to even know what's going on and how that scene ends is quite nasty. Like GOOD GOD, PEOPLE.)
But this circus is where he meets Marlena, a glamorous performer who works with Liberty horses and later Rosie the elephant--and her husband August, who's in charge of the animals and essentially Jacob's boss. August is probably the most hated guy in the circus, and that's saying something when the boss is Al. This is because August is a paranoid schizophrenic. When he's in a good mood, he's charming and fun. When he's in a bad mood, he's abusive. Naturally this is a problem considering that Jacob and Marlena start falling in love with each other. And August is also pretty damn abusive to Rosie the elephant, who everyone thinks is stupid until Jacob realizes that she got trained to listen to Polish commands (and yes, Jacob speaks that language). After he trains August in what to say, things go smoothly...until, well, they don't.
It's an interesting story, albeit a downer most of the time in a lot of ways. I'll talk about the end below the spoiler cut, but suffice it to say for now that things end up in a way that I found to be very pleasing. So overall I give it three and a half stars--there's a lot of disturbing and depressing shenanigans going on in it, but the ending pleased me and Jacob does have an alluring tone to read.
Chloe Winters is a 21-year-old who's on her last year of college, hoping to go into forensics someday. She's been through some bad shit in her life thanks to her mother's extramarital affair with her father, a prominent dentist in Albuquerque. One morning she and her best friends stand around being extras in the latest Jason Vanderholt movie, and Jason himself spots Chloe and takes an interest in her, recognizing her last name and the half-siblings he went to school with....which leads to severe awkwardness because that's the last thing Chloe ever wants to talk about. However, Jason is clearly charmed enough by Chloe to want to see her again, exchange digits, call her up on Skype, give her movie premiere tickets....
Chloe, for the record, thinks Jason is just being nice and doesn't really get why he wants to talk to her. I don't know if her character wears glasses (don't think so) but other than that, she is the original Four-Eyed Girl.
"She wants to take a walk so I let her I watch her go and then I go and get her I have to spell it out for her..."
Chloe isn't the sort of girl who would be into being wined and dined by a movie star, to say the least (hence the title). Usually she's just trying to blend into the background in life after the shit she has been through, so paparazzi-type stuff would not appeal to her. Eventually once she gets that yeah, he's interested like That, she tells him she just wants to be friends. And even though she is pretty much all "I dunno why he wants to talk to me, it's not like I call him" a lot, she keeps talking to him. And Jason is, as far as I can tell, a genuinely decent guy beyond the Hollywood crap and the usual ugly rumors and stories that go around with famous people. He very reasonably addresses all of the shit Chloe is eventually told about and explains the situations and is nothing but decent to her at all times. You do see them chatting pretty frequently despite the distance, which I appreciated. Girls, optimally you want to date a dude who behaves like Jason does, and I don't just mean the "fairytale" bits of life he throws in now and then even if Chloe isn't so into that.
Jason also introduces her to his family, who are lovely local people who remember Chloe back from when she was a kid and she got shot...and they step in to help when her property keeps getting vandalized. Chloe assumes whoever slashed her tires and broke her windows were just crazed fans of Jason's, but then she finds out that her half-brother Chris is out on parole and he might be after her again like he was 10 years ago. Jason's lawyer relatives sweetly help her get a restraining order, and Jason does his best he can to support her in the situation.
Chloe's a naturally stoic person after having had her childhood ended early, and she tends to rely on herself only and trust her friends only somewhat. It's hard for her to trust and rely on anyone and she's the sort of girl who will tell her "best friend" that no, please don't accompany me to the courthouse, I'm fine....so likewise it is hard for Jason to get in. He puts in a lot of effort that Chloe appreciates, but she's the sort who grows into love and it'll take her awhile. She's a crusty heroine and not everyone is going to like her, but I like crusty heroines so I'm biased on that. She's the sort whose appeal might grow on you, especially when you find out why she is the way she is. I liked how her terrible background led her to want to work in forensics eventually, and how Jason did his best to learn about what she was into. I'll admit it's a little harder to get why Jason was so into her from the start when she was being pretty neutral/slightly frosty, but hey, thunderbolts happen for some people. My theory is that some people just fall into love at first sight and others grow into it, so it's a tricky balance when two people who don't fall in the same way start interacting.
If there's anything that's a bit off in this novel, it's when things start to get romantic because at that point, things become rather...mood-swingy. I'll elaborate below the spoiler cut.* I wasn't super thrilled with the character of Matthew for being Mr. Friendzone McPoutypants, though I suppose someone has to be around to break bad tabloid news to Chloe. And poor Lori ends up dropping out of the book a lot of the time, though circumstantially it makes sense since Chloe seems to be trying to keep her out of the loop about her family drama and Lori is occupied on her own.
But after that brief moment of "um, what now?" things get better. Chloe's taking a Media Studies class that forces her to watch Jason's "New Light" franchise of movies that she hasn't seen, and much to her own inner horror she starts to really get into it and want to write a paper on how the movies are stupid but one great actor can make it better. Hee. I also really enjoyed the scene when her mom comes over looking for tea and sympathy and going on about how strong Chloe is and Chloe is all, "I had to be, you weren't exactly a reliable shoulder to cry on as an injured kid." I did enjoy Chloe telling her the truth on that one.
Eventually....well, yes, they get together, and Chloe has to figure out how to cope with a famous boyfriend. Jason strikes me as a no-catch sort of guy (he is maybe slightly too perfect a bit?!), except his one catch at this point is the paparazzi. Chloe also gets involved with the Vanderholt family drama when Jason's sister's stepdaughter Kyra is having some kind of vague rocky relationship drama and wants to get the hell away from parental figures, and Chloe volunteers to have Kyra be her roomie when she temporarily moves to NYC to be near Jason while he makes a movie. Chloe and Kyra's relationship is interesting because it appears to be different from everyone else in the family--Claire essentially just lets Kyra be and talk when she wants to and leads by example, more or less. And while Kyra is kind of a super blabbermouth about Chloe and Jason's personal life at work--if I were Chloe I would have said something about it--Chloe just kind of calmly deals with it. Their relationship worked well for me, though there was one end development that seemed a little too easily dealt with. Again, I'll mention that below the spoiler cut.**
Overall, I really liked the book and immediately went off to buy the two sequels featuring Chloe and Jason, which are mysteries rather than romances, according to the author's note at the back. This book may not be to everyone's tastes (if you don't like heroines who are tough and tough to get to know, or Hollywood romances, this is probably not for you), but I enjoyed getting to know and hang out with these people. Four stars.
I'm going to leave you with my favorite quote from this book, regarding Jason's job:
"Movies, good ones, with good leads, they give the audience something they need, okay? A release. An escape. Something that some of us are too broken to give ourselves. Maybe if I'd had a normal childhood, I'd be able to daydream and fantasize and all that on my own, but do you know how many of us can't? People need their dreams. There's a reason why society pays good money for them." --Chloe.
At the Wizengamot. Oh god, this chapter. I'm going to skip a lot of description meant to be impressive.
"The current Defense Professor of Hogwarts, if you asked him for his opinion of the Lords and Ladies, would say that while many of them are ambitious, few have any ambition. He would observe that the Wizengamot is exactly where someone like that would end up - that it is exactly the sort of opportunity you would grasp, if you had nothing better to do. Such folk are rarely interesting, but they are often useful; pieces to be manipulated, points to be scored, by the true players of the game."
Thank you, Quirrell-in-absentia, WHOEVER YOU ARE.
"If there is an enemy here, or something to be manipulated, it is merely "the Wizengamot". The wealthy elites of magical Britain have collective force, but not individual agency; their goals are too alien and trivial for them to have personal roles in the tale. As of now, this present time, the boy neither likes nor dislikes the plum-colored robes, because his brain does not assign them enough agenthood to be the subjects of moral judgment. He is a PC, and they are wallpaper.
This view is about to change."
Ruh-roh. Today's Daily Prophet: MAD MUGGLEBORN TRIES TO END ANCIENT LINE.
"Earlier, Albus Dumbledore had told him,
"I will not try to keep you from this trial." The old wizard's voice quiet and unyielding. "I can well foresee how that would go. But I would have you treat me with equal courtesy in return. The politics of the Wizengamot are delicate, and of them you know nothing. Dare any folly and it shall be to Hermione Granger's cost; and you will remember that folly for the rest of your days, Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres."
"I understand," Harry said. "I know. Just - if you're planning to pull a rabbit out of your hat and save the day at the last minute when everything seems lost, please tell me now instead of letting me sit and worry -"
"I would not do that to you," the old wizard said, a terrible weariness seeming to suffuse him as he turned to go. "Still less to Hermione. But I have no rabbits in my hat, Harry. We can only see what Lucius Malfoy wants."
DAMMIT. Hermione is brought out. Harry freaks when he sees Patronuses and has to be dragged back down by McG.
"But by then he'd already declared war on the country of magical Britain, and the idea of other people calling him a Dark Lord no longer seemed important one way or another."
Harry is going all dark side within when...oh goody, here comes everyone's favorite, Umbridge.
"He couldn't find anything to say that Neville could also have said. Dumbledore had warned Harry that if anyone else wanted the Boy-Who-Lived to speak, he must pretend to be his age -
"The Headmaster said I shouldn't ought to talk," the boy said, not quite able to keep the edge out of his voice.
"Oh, but you have our permission to talk!" the woman said brightly. "I'm sure the Wizengamot is always happy to hear from the Boy-Who-Lived!" Beside her, Minister Cornelius Fudge was nodding."
Yeah, right. Harry thinks she looks like a toad, but is trying to give her a chance anyway. That won't last long. Harry is publicly offended at Dementors and Umbridge defends it. Harry is all, what, you need that for a 12-year-old girl?
"That's enough, Madam Umbridge, Mr. Potter," came Dumbledore's stern voice from high above. And then after a short pause, the old wizard went on, "Although, of course, the boy is correct on every count."
Only a few agree with Harry. Too few.
Hermione is drugged with Veritaserum.
"After the first few questions Harry looked away and stared off to one side with his fingers in his ears, as Hermione's brain played back the contents of the False Memory Charm. He couldn't handle the drug-dulled anguish in Hermione's voice as she recounted the false memories, and his dark side couldn't handle it either, and he'd already heard the contents summarized.
Harry's mind flashed back to another day of horror, and even though Harry had been on the verge of writing off Lord Voldemort's continued existence as the senility of an old wizard, it suddenly seemed horribly and uniquely plausible that the entity who'd Memory-Charmed Hermione was the very same mind that had - made use of - Bellatrix Black. The two events had a certain signature in common. To choose that this should happen, plan for this to happen - it would take more than evil, it would take emptiness."
Draco's drugged testimony is read aloud.
"Until she went after me in that battle, I wasn't plotting anything against Granger. But after that day I really was feeling insulted, I'd helped her all those times -"
A lot of choking occurs at that revelation. On to the debate:
"It seemed that many members of the Wizengamot were of the strong opinion that murder was bad."
Dumbledore attempts to defend Hermione by praising her goodness.
Lord Malfoy wants her to go to Azkaban for ten years and be tried as an adult. He will never be dissuaded--unless Dumbledore confesses his own crime to the Wizengamot. Whatever that is. He won't.
Hermione is pleading with Harry for help, and Harry answers. Ominously. And loudly.
"This folly does not become you, Lucius," said the boy. "Twelve-year-old girls do not go around committing murders. You are a Slytherin and an intelligent one. You know this is a plot. Hermione Granger was placed on this gameboard by force, by whatever hand lies behind that plot. You were surely intended to act just as you are acting now - except that Draco Malfoy was meant to be dead, and you were meant to be beyond all reason. But he is alive and you are sane. Why are you cooperating with your intended role, in a plot meant to take the life of your son?"
Harry doesn't know who plotted this, but he doesn't think it was a natural event, and he definitely thinks the vengeance is misdirected.
"She is my friend," the boy said, "as Draco is my friend. It is possible that this blow was aimed at me, and not at House Malfoy at all."
Again the muscles jumped in Lucius's face. "And now you are lying to me - as you lied to my son!"
"Believe it or not," the boy said quietly, "I never willed anything but that Draco should know the truth -"
You will not be surprised to find out that this doesn't work.
"Draco had said that Lucius was scared of him, for some unknown reason. And Harry could see it in the rictus that Lord Malfoy's face had become, drawn and tight, that it was taking all his courage for him to tell Harry to shut up.
So Harry said, his voice cool and deadly, hoping to hell that it meant something, "You will earn my enmity if you do this thing, Lucius..."
Lord Malfoy gazed at him with hard dignity, as that laughter spread. "If you want the enmity of the House of Malfoy, you shall have it, child."
"Now really," said the woman in too much pink makeup, "I think this has gone on quite long enough, wouldn't you say, Lord Malfoy? The boy will miss his classes."
OH, FOR FUCK'S SAKE, UMBRIDGE. PRIORITIES.
Of course everyone's voting to send Hermione to jail. Harry flounders trying to think of ANYTHING-- End of chapter!
Four stars for making everyone about to throw up here. Oh damn.
"Mr. Malfoy has regained consciousness in St. Mungo's and named you, Hermione Granger, as his assaulter. He has repeated these accusations under two drops of Veritaserum. The Blood-Cooling Charm you cast upon Mr. Malfoy would have killed him if he had not been found and treated, and it must be presumed known to you that this was a fatal curse. I therefore arrest you upon the serious charge of attempted murder and you will be taken into Ministry custody to be interrogated under three drops of Veritaserum -"
"Are you mad? " the words burst out of Harry's mouth, as he shoved himself up from the Ravenclaw table, an instant before Auror Butnaru's hand clamped down hard upon his shoulder. Harry ignored it. "That's Hermione Granger you're trying to arrest, the nicest girl in Ravenclaw, she helps Hufflepuffs with their homework, she'd die before she tried to kill anyone -"
Hermione Granger's face had crumpled. "I did it," she whispered in a tiny voice. "It was me."
DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.
Hermione can't explain it, she just crumples. Harry is too boggled to think his way out of this. Hermione is escorted out of the Great Hall. Too late Harry figures out (or "figures out?" that Hermione must have been false-Memory-Charmed, but it's too late.
Cut to a meeting in Dumbledore's office: Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Harry. The facts were these:
"Professor Quirrell had found Mr. Malfoy in the trophy room of Hogwarts, on the verge of death from the continuing effects of the Blood-Cooling Charm slowly lowering his body temperature. Professor Quirrell had immediately dispelled the Charm, cast stabilizing spells on Mr. Malfoy, and levitated him to his office to Floo him to St. Mungo's for further treatment. After this, Professor Quirrell had informed the Headmaster, stating the facts briefly before vanishing through the Floo; the Aurors, notified by St. Mungo's, had demanded his presence for questioning.
The clear intent of the Blood-Cooling Charm had been to kill Draco Malfoy so slowly that the wards of Hogwarts, set to detect sudden injury, would not trigger. Under interrogation, Professor Quirrell had told the Aurors that he had cast several tracking Charms upon Mr. Malfoy's person in January, shortly after Mr. Malfoy's return to Hogwarts from Yuletime break. Professor Quirrell had cast tracking Charms because he had learned of a person with a motive to harm Mr. Malfoy. Professor Quirrell had refused to identify this person. The tracking Charms which Professor Quirrell had cast were triggered by Mr. Malfoy's health falling below an absolute level, rather than by sudden changes, and had therefore alerted Professor Quirrell before Mr. Malfoy had died.
Two drops of Veritaserum, sufficient to prevent Mr. Malfoy from withholding any meliorating or moderating information in his statements, had shown that Mr. Malfoy had - legally under the laws of Noble Houses, illegally under the regulations of Hogwarts - challenged Hermione Granger to a duel. Mr. Malfoy had won the duel but had then, as he left, been attacked from behind by Miss Granger with a Stunning Hex. After this Mr. Malfoy knew nothing.
Three drops of Veritaserum, requiring her to volunteer all relevant information, had caused Hermione Granger to confess that she had stunned Draco Malfoy from behind, and then, in a fit of anger, cast the Blood-Cooling Charm on him, with the deliberate intention of killing him slowly enough to evade identification from the Hogwarts wards, whose workings she had read about in Hogwarts: A History. She had been horrified at herself upon awakening the next morning, but had not told anyone of what she'd done, believing Draco Malfoy to be already dead - as he certainly would have been after seven hours, had his body's own magic not been resisting the effects of the Blood-Cooling Charm.
"Her trial," said Albus Dumbledore, "is set for tomorrow at noon."
Poor Harry keeps trying to insist on silly pishposh Muggle things like fair investigations and lawyers, but we don't do that in magical Britain. Investigation's done, man, all that's left is the trial and death. No, seriously.
Folks note that since the duel was at midnight and beyond the range of any Time-Turner (which the supposed suspect doesn't know about in this universe). Harry nitpicks what people have observed, and let us distinguish observation from inference. Aren't there a good chunk of mind-affecting spells to make Hermione do it or think she had? Well, yes, but wouldn't someone notice? Some of them, I guess.
"A person who looked like Madam McJorgenson told us that a single Legilimens had lightly touched Miss Granger's mind some months ago. That is from January, Harry, when I communicated with Miss Granger about the matter of a certain Dementor. That was expected; but what I did not expect was the rest of what Sophie found." The old wizard turned to gaze into the Floo fire, letting the orange flames reflect on his face. "As you say, Harry, a False Memory Charm is one possibility; they are, when cast perfectly, indistinguishable from true memory -"
"That doesn't surprise me," Harry interrupted. "Studies show that human memories are more or less rewritten every time we remember them -"
"Harry," Minerva said softly, and the boy's mouth clamped shut.
The old wizard continued. "- but a False Memory Charm of such quality requires as much time to create as a true memory. Creating a detailed memory of ten minutes would be ten minutes' work. And according to the court Legilimens," Albus's face now seemed more tired and lined than before, "Miss Granger has been obsessing over Mr. Malfoy since the day that Severus... yelled at her. She has been thinking of how Mr. Malfoy might be in league with Professor Snape, how he might be planning to harm her and harm Harry - imagining it for hours every day - it would be impossible to create false memories for so much time."
"The appearance of insanity..." Severus murmured softly, as though he were speaking to himself. "Could it be natural? No, it is too disastrous to be pure accident; too convenient for someone, I have no doubt. A Muggle drug, perhaps? But that would not be enough - Miss Granger's madness would have to be guided -"
"Ah!" Harry said suddenly. "I get it now. The first False Memory Charm was cast on Hermione after Professor Snape yelled at her, and showed, say, Draco and Professor Snape plotting to kill her. Then last night that False Memory was removed by Obliviation, leaving behind the memories of her obsessing about Draco for no apparent reason, at the same time she and Draco were given false memories of the duel."
Minerva blinked in startlement. It would have been a thousand years before she thought of that possibility."
Oh, Harry. Well, let's hope he's right? Snape suspects Quirrell-- "The Defense Professor is always a suspect, Mr. Potter. You will notice a trend, given time." Dumbledore suspects Voldemort and starts going on about soul splitting. It sounds like he thinks Voldemort possessed Hermione? He's got to be at Hogwarts for the you-know-what (Philosopher's Stone, one assumes). But why kill Draco? Who cares, we've got to save the innocent!
Harry calls for a lawyer--"Anyone who just blurts out 'I did it' to the police -"
No kidding, but they don't do lawyers or freeing anyone on a technicality at the Wizengamot. Aw shit.
"As for them showing common sense - you might as well expect them to make you a bacon sandwich, Potter."
I feel like this is the old joke about indicting a ham sandwich. I watch The Good Wife. Anyway, Lucius will "propose a repayment" of a blood debt and the Wizengamot votes on it. Oh brother. But doesn't Lucius recognize a pawn when he sees one? Hah, no, he's not going to care.
Well, at least she's not going to get the Dementor's Kiss for it. So there's THAT. Harry asks about other leverage over Lucius--nope. And Draco will get Veritaserumed.
At this point, Harry feels hopeless and Snape is all "wait, what, you're converting Draco?" Yes, and he was about 3/4 of the way done, too. Dumbledore notes that Voldemort has taken two of Harry's pieces with one move.
Harry decides to focus on finding the real culprit--who he suspects is Snape. He wants to look at the trophy room for clues. He mentions whoever was leaving Hermione notes as to where the bullies were--no, Dumbledore had nothing to do with that one. Maybe she was being played? Harry thinks "Santa Claus" is the same person leaving the notes. He also mentions that secret escape route to Salem, which shocks McG. Let's check where that key leads...
Just before Snape bugs off with Polyjuice and Floo powder, he hears McG nail Dumbledore for leaving the Santa Claus notes with Harry (if not Hermione).
"And to think," said Professor McGonagall, "that I had thought to reprimand Mr. Potter for not telling us about this important matter! Upbraid him for not having the sense to trust us!" Her voice had risen in volume. "I shall skip that lecture, I suppose!"
Might as well. Dumbledore thinks it might have been Quirrell leaving Hermione notes, but it's a guess.
Cut to Divination class, where every week someone's about to die soon. They're so bored and jaded of that. Happily for the Weasley twins, they're pulled out of class by Dumbledore and his dramatic entrance. He wants their Marauders map. Dumbledore also breaks out the Sorting Hat and a crystal rod, and after he gets the twins out of there, he asks it to find Tom Riddle.
Quirrell is being interrogated by Aurors. We find out that he's a Libra, his parents were Quondia Quirrell (the Q's are making me laugh) and Lirinius Lumblung...oh the names..OH YEAH, AND HE WAS A RAVENCLAW. Wait, WHAT? Also, Quirrell is quite the tourist. Who also visited Fuyuki City without a visa. Wherever that is.
"You're not Quirinus Quirrell. Who the hell are you?"
OH MAH GAWD!!!!!
"Hermione Granger's bed was easy to identify; it was the one that had been attacked by a book monster."
Snape finds the notes and incinerates them. They were all signed with an S. HMMMMM.
Let's get back to what's really interesting here....
"The Defense Professor was sitting calmly with his hands still folded in his lap. "If you consult Headmaster Dumbledore," said the Defense Professor, "you will find that he is well aware of this matter, and that I agreed to teach his Defense class on the explicit condition that no inquiry be made into my -"
The interrogator tries to reverse Polyjuice him, which doesn't work.
"What makes you think I did not steal his body outright using incredibly Dark magic?"
Yeah, he probably did that.
Various kids are arguing about this in the Great Hall. Padma feels like crap. Harry yells they were all False-Memory-Charmed and isn't that bloody obvious?
"Professor Quirrell isn't here to explain to me how stupid people are, but I bet this time I can get it on my own. People do something dumb and get caught and are given Veritaserum. Not romantic master criminals, because they wouldn't get caught, they would have learned Occlumency. Sad, pathetic, incompetent criminals get caught, and confess under Veritaserum, and they're desperate to stay out of Azkaban so they say they were False-Memory-Charmed. Right? So your brain, by sheer Pavlovian association, links the idea of False Memory Charms to pathetic criminals with unbelievable excuses. You don't have to consider the specific details, your brain just pattern-matches the hypothesis into a bucket of things you don't believe, and you're done. Just like my father thought that magical hypotheses could never be believed, because he'd heard so many stupid people talking about magic. Believing a hypothesis that involves False Memory Charms is low-status."
Not gonna argue with that. Harry grumbles that what everyone is doing is very human and normal and not unusually bad, so he'll not complain. He gets up and stomps off.
"If you think hard enough you can do the impossible.
(It had always been an article of faith with Harry. There'd been a time when he'd acknowledged the laws of physics as ultimate limitations, and now he suspected there were no true limits at all.)
If you think fast enough you can sometimes do the impossible quickly...
Uh-oh. Harry investigates the trophy room and finds no clues.
"Harry had talked to all of Hermione's friends that would still talk to him, and none of them had remembered Hermione saying anything specific about why she'd believed that Draco was plotting against her.
Professor Quirrell hadn't come back from the Ministry as of dinnertime. The older students seemed to think that this year's Defense Professor would probably end up being blamed for the incident, and fired for teaching Hogwarts students to be too violent. They'd talked about the Defense Professor as though he were already gone.
Harry had used up all six hours from his Time-Turner, and there were still no clues, and he had to go to sleep now if he wanted to be functional at Hermione's trial the next day.
The Boy-Who-Destroyed-A-Dementor was standing in the middle of the Hogwarts trophy room, his wand dropped at his feet.
He was crying.
Sometimes you call your brain and it doesn't answer.
The trial of Hermione Granger started on schedule the next day."
God fails again.
FOUR STARS FOR HOLY SHITTERY.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"You think two different people are running around Hogwarts leaving notes beneath pillows?" "Quite possibly. If I have learned anything in my tenure as Head of Slytherin, I have learned what ridiculous messes arise when there is more than one plotter and more than one plan."
Okay, so this is a bit unusual for me to review, but I picked it out for my mom and thought it was really sweet. The author got remarried in her late 60's, which inspired this book in which she traveled all over the country asking older couples who have fallen in love semi-recently or all over again what it was like. She covers dating and meeting, where people live, sex, love in the nursing home, relatives objecting (or not), and how to handle beginnings and endings. This is interspersed with her own experiences of dating and marrying her husband Sam. And uh, even though you will guess long before it's revealed in the plot how things went, it's a sweet memoir. It does cover gay as well as straight couples, ambulatory and in a nursing home, with and without kids to deal with, and folks live all over the country. I was amused to actually see references to a few slightly famous people, such as the philanthropist Shrems and Dr. Elmo of "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" fame.
I enjoyed it. If you know someone who's over sixty and ready to mingle, they'll probably enjoy this. Four stars.
(Hah, I'm writing this review exactly a year after the last book. Not posting this until Monday, though.)
This book starts out in Ohio, but mostly takes place in Australia. After finding out that werewolves have suddenly cropped up there (where they're not native), Shelby needs to run home to help The Thirty-Six Society cope with it. She asks Alex to help her because he's actually dealt with werewolves before and knows a treatment that might stave off the infection. I recommend that you read this werewolf primer before continuing with this review so that you know what they're dealing with. Alex is hella scared of werewolves, but goes anyway.
It's rough going from the getgo, and I'm not just referring to traveling with six mouse representatives and a ton of weaponry and herbal remedies without the airlines figuring it out (yes, this is covered in the book). Both Shelby's family and the Society are medium to super hostile at dealing with (a) an American, (b) a Price, otherwise known as "Covenant Boy," (c) a guy who actually makes friends with/has family members who are cryptids, and (d) the guy who's stealing their precious baby away from growing up to run the Society someday. Alex seriously deals with it like a champ, having much more understanding and restraint than those of us with rougher tempers might have. But that doesn't mean he doesn't get his licks in here and there--"Offense taken." Ahem. Anyway, pretty much everyone but Shelby is super resentful of this guy being brought in to be the hero and save the day, but Alex is just trying to do his dang job and save lives here. Shelby does an awesome job of sticking up for herself and Alex, and uh...that spontaneous "marry me" he mentioned in the first book is finally followed up on :) Nobody puts Shelby in a corner, she can handle herself and make decisions just fine, thankyouverymuch. They're so cute together.
It's made pretty clear early on that Alex is terrified of werewolf bites--which in this universe may or may not take, depending on exposure, bodily fluids, etc.--and sure enough, the bites start coming early on. Though happily, he finds out that the mice already know how to check people for infection, so that helps. But it's rough going dealing with the Society. On some levels they do remind him of what things are like at home, but in other ways he doesn't agree with their methods. Most specifically, that they DON'T make friends with sapient friendly cryptids for the most part. Alex uses his contacts at home to find a friendly doctor wadjet who's immune to lycanthropy to help out, but that takes some doing.
But what becomes even more involving in this book is the nature of werewolves. As far as anyone's been able to tell from the evidence of behavior, werewolves lose their mental functions and start attacking everyone early on, especially in wolf form. Therefore, Alex and pretty much everyone else have reasonably assumed that werewolves are a "shoot on sight" species. But the longer Alex spends dodging werewolves in the bush and running into sudden drastic difficulties like a lack of silver bullets, he starts suspecting that the enemy is showing a lot greater intelligence than they previously thought. This leads to a great mental dilemma: how sane and sentient are werewolves? Do they remain intelligent while going evil? Are they saveable if they make it past the first few months? Do they turn evil all the way or not? The Price/Healy clan is all about conservation and preservation if it's possible, which makes Alex more inclined to take an optimistic view of things. But is that realistic? It gave me and the characters a lot to think about in this one--especially when the werewolf situation hits close to home.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Sometimes I wish I had the ability to conjure popcorn from thin air." "It is as in the teachings of the Noisy Priestess. Always should popcorn be eaten when people fight over foolish things."
I thought this book did a great job and I was very entertained. Four stars from me.
Here's a weird setup for this one: basically every adult/parent mentioned in magical Britain is secretly watching the latest battle. Mr. and Mrs. Davis have recently insisted on talking to McGonagall, despite the usual Hogwarts tradition of not doing parent-teacher conferences.
"Ordinarily it was the ancient tradition of Hogwarts that mere parents were to Stay Out - for much the same reason that impatient children are told to get out of the kitchen and not meddle in the cook's affairs. The only reason for a parent-teacher conference was if a teacher felt that a parent wasn't shaping up properly. It took an exceptional circumstance to make the Hogwarts administration feel that it had to justify itself to you. On any given occasion, generally speaking, the Hogwarts administration was backed up by eight hundred years of distinguished history and you were not."
"Thus it had been with some trepidation that Mr. and Mrs. Davis had insisted on an audience with Deputy Headmistress McGonagall. It was hard to muster a proper sense of indignation when you were confronting the same dignified witch who, twelve years and four months earlier, had given both of you two weeks' detention after catching you in the act of conceiving Tracey.
On the other hand, Mr. and Mrs. Davis's courage had been helped by angrily waving about a copy of The Quibbler whose headline showed, in bright bold text for all the world to see:
PACTS WITH POTTER? BONES, DAVIS, GRANGER IN LOVE RECTANGLE OF FEAR
And so Mr. and Mrs. Davis had argued their way into the Faculty Box of the Hogwarts Quidditch stands, where they were now ensconced with an excellent view of Professor Quirrell's enchanted screens, so that the two of them could see for themselves "Just what the Fiddly-Snocks has been going on in this school, if you'll pardon the expression, Deputy Headmistress McGonagall!"
LOVE RECTANGLE OF FEAR. THAT IS EXCELLENT. Also, she watched you get knocked up. That's priceless.
Also in attendance: Lucius Malfoy, Lord Jugson, Charles Nott, Lady Greengrass and her husband, Amelia Bones, Augusta Longbottom, and of course, Dumbledore and Quirrell.
Hermione is apparently a wreck. She missed a planning meeting, said she lost track of time (!!!!), and looks all freaked out. It's decided that Susan should be on Tracey duty because...
"I know you can't use your double magical powers except when innocents are in danger, but I mean - just in case Miss Davis does, you know, go out of control and try to eat someone's soul -"
"I can handle her," Susan told him, keeping her voice reassuring. Admittedly, Susan hadn't been replaced by a Metamorphmagus at the moment, but then Tracey probably wasn't Polyjuiced Dumbledore or whoever."
"Captain Finnigan intoned in a deep, sort-of-rumbling voice, "I find your lack of skepticism disturbing." He raised his hand with his thumb and forefinger almost touching, pointed at Ernie.
For some reason Anthony Goldstein seemed to be having a sudden choking fit. "What's that supposed to mean?" said Ernie.
"It's just something General Potter says sometimes," said Captain Finnigan. "Funny, when you first join the Chaos Legion it all seems crazy, and then after a couple of months you realize that actually everyone who isn't in the Chaos Legion is crazy -"
Oh my. Anyhoo, Hermione's officers are doing better at planning than she is right now, so she takes a break. Susan follows her and tries to get her to focus.
"Do you think Daphne's right about Draco Malfoy plotting something?"
"Yes," Susan said at once, not even thinking about it. "You can tell, because his name's got the letters M-A-L-F-O and Y in it."
Hermione wonders if Draco was behind what Snape did. Maybe, or maybe it was Lucius, Susan says.
Meanwhile, back at Dragon Army, mudblood/half-blood/one of those? Dean Thomas is now a member, which Draco thinks was deliberate on Harry's part. The other former Chaotics are watching Draco to see if he treats Dean badly. Draco has made him his #3 guy instead, claiming it's a test rather than a promotion. He's doing pretty well.
"Padma had happened to ask - as though it was a perfectly normal question - whether Mr. Thomas had any ideas about how to defeat the Chaos Legion.
The Gryffindor boy had said cheerfully that Harry had predicted that General Malfoy would get one of his soldiers to ask him that, and that Harry had given him the message that General Malfoy should ask himself where his relative advantage lay - what Draco Malfoy could do, or what Dragon Army could do, that the Chaos Legion couldn't match - and then try to exploit it for all it was worth. Dean Thomas couldn't think of what that advantage might be, but if he did come up with any ideas for beating Chaos, he'd share them. Harry had ordered him to, after all."
The peanut gallery watches as Padma Transfigures a leaf into a glove and brings it to Draco. Lord Jugson wonders why and Lucius says he doesn't know but Draco must have a good reason for it.
"For some reason or other," said the amused voice of Professor Quirrell, "it seems that the scion of Malfoy is able to cast surprisingly strong magic for a first-year student. Due to the purity of his blood, of course. Certainly the good Lord Malfoy would not have openly flouted the underage magic laws by arranging for his son to receive a wand before his acceptance into Hogwarts."
"I suggest you be careful in your implications, Quirrell," Lucius Malfoy said coldly.
"Oh, I am," Professor Quirrell said. "A Colloportus cannot be dispelled by Finite Incantatem; it requires an Alohomora of equal strength. Until then, a glove so Charmed will resist lesser material forces, deflect the Sleep Hex and the Stunning Hex. And as neither Mr. Potter nor Miss Granger can cast a counterspell powerful enough, that Charm is invincible upon this battlefield. It is not the original intent of the Charm, nor the intent of whoever taught Mr. Malfoy an emergency spell for evading his enemies. But it would seem that Mr. Malfoy has been learning creativity."
Lucius Malfoy had straightened as the Defense Professor spoke; he now sat erect upon his cushioned bench, his head held perceptibly higher than before, and when he spoke it was with quiet pride. "He will be the greatest Lord Malfoy that has yet lived."
"Faint praise," Augusta Longbottom said under her breath; Amelia Bones chuckled, as did Mr. Davis for a tiny, fatal fraction of a second before he stopped with a strangled gargle.
"I quite agree," said Professor Quirrell, though it wasn't clear to whom he spoke. "Unfortunately for Mr. Malfoy, he is still new to the art of creativity, and so he has committed a classic error of Ravenclaw."
"And what might that be?" said Lucius Malfoy, his voice now turned chill once more.
Professor Quirrell had leaned back in his seat, the pale blue eyes briefly unfocusing as one of the windows shifted its viewpoint within the greater screen, zooming in to show the sweat now on Draco Malfoy's forehead. "It is such a beautiful idea that Mr. Malfoy has quite overlooked its pragmatic difficulties."
As we speak, I am listening to a premium interview on Girl On Guy with Aisha Tyler and John Hodgman. They went on at great length about how if they were given an immortality potion they would chug it immediately and think anyone who wouldn't say the same is basically nuts. Meanwhile I was thinking, "Okay, step one, you make sure you get permanent youth and health along with that immortality before you drink it because being a thousand years old and desiccating will be no fun. Step two, figure out how immortal is immortal. Will you heal from injuries and how fast? Are you utterly undying or can you be beheaded or will it be like Torchwood: Miracle Day if someone crushes you in a car? Step three, do you realize that in this technological day and age you are constantly being tracked and thus your immortality will be found out relatively quickly and then you're likely to end up a permanent lab rat?" I'm just saying, THINK BEFORE YOU CHUG....and check the tropes.
I'm so Ravenclaw.
Anyhoo, yes, you do need to think about those pragmatic difficulties before you hop on a cool idea.
Amelia Bones notes that the glove will tempt students to catch hexes they should just dodge.
"Mr. Malfoy is new to the business of having ideas, and so when he has one, he becomes proud of himself for having it. He has not yet had enough ideas to unflinchingly discard those that are beautiful in some aspects and impractical in others; he has not yet acquired confidence in his own ability to think of better ideas as he requires them. What we are seeing here is not Mr. Malfoy's best idea, I fear, but rather his only idea."
"The common consensus had been that, with odds that bad, it was practically impossible for them to lose. After all, General Chaos was bound to come up with something really spectacular, facing odds like that.
There was something almost nightmarish about how everyone seemed to now expect Harry to pull miracles out of his hat, on demand, any time one was needed. It meant that if you couldn't do the impossible, you were disappointing your friends and failing to live up to your potential..."
Welcome to perfectionism! No matter what, you lose!
Also, if you show off enough, it's kinda reasonable for everyone to expect miracles, Mr. God.
I don't think I'm going to try to recap the action of this too much, but there's code words, acorns, singing, and green sunglasses. Because it's Chaos, yo.
"You might guess that there was some sort of incredibly complicated and fascinating explanation behind this, and you would be right."
Anyway, Harry's been working on some kind of force amplifier secret weapon.
"So Harry had asked Neville if he'd ever heard of any small, safe sacrificial rituals -
And then, after the screaming and the shouting had subsided, after Harry had stopped trying to argue about Unbreakable Vows and just given up the whole thing as impossible from a public relations standpoint,"
"Harry had realized that he hadn't even needed to go there. They taught you how to invoke potencies far beyond your own strength in ordinary Hogwarts classes.
Sometimes, even though you were looking straight at something, you didn't realize what you were looking at until you happened to ask exactly the right question."
Madam Longbottom notes that Neville is apparently over his fear of heights as he flies about screaming and casting while chasing Goyle through the trees, Return of the Jedi-style. Which I am sure is lost on them. Everyone else is Transfiguring. Anyway, Neville doesn't catch him and wonders what was up with that. Tracey will explain it all for you:
"Mr. Goyle tried a Breaking Drill Hex, but learned to his dismay that his weak magic was no match for my newfound dark powers, hahahaha!"
Dragon Army Spy Report! What's with the green glasses?
"You figured out Chaos's plan, General Malfoy?" said Mr. Thomas with considerable surprise.
"What are they doing?" said Padma.
"I haven't the faintest idea," said Draco, with a smirk of the most refined smugness. "We'll just do the obvious thing."
Oh, Draco. You're so not Ravenclaw.
Back to how Harry thinks: he figured out that things can be done in Potions that they can't do with charms. What potions can he brew in an ordinary forest? How come all the recipes require one magical ingredient? How come brewing isn't as hard as casting Charms? And what about conservation laws?
"Magic did not appear to work like this, to put it mildly. Magic's attitude toward laws like Conservation of Energy was somewhere between a giant extended middle finger, and a shrug of total indifference. Aguamenti created water out of nothingness, so far as anyone knew; there was no known lake whose water level went down each time. That was a simple fifth-year spell, not considered impressive by wizards, because creating a mere glass of water didn't seem amazing to them. They didn't have the wacky notion that mass ought to be conserved, or that creating a gram of mass was somehow equivalent to creating 90,000,000,000,000 joules of energy. There was an upper-year spell Harry had run across whose literal incantation was 'Arresto Momentum!' and when Harry had asked if the momentum went anywhere else he'd just gotten a puzzled look. Harry had kept an increasingly desperate eye out for some kind of conservation principle in magic, anywhere whatsoever...
...and the whole time it had been right in front of him in every Potions class. Potions-Making didn't create magic, it preserved magic, that was why every potion needed at least one magical ingredient. And by following instructions like 'stir four times counterclockwise and once clockwise' - Harry had hypothesized - you were doing something like casting a small spell that reshaped the magic in the ingredients. (And unbound the physical form so that ingredients like porcupine quills dissolved smoothly into a drinkable liquid; Harry strongly suspected that a Muggle following exactly the same recipe would end up with nothing but a spiny mess.) That was what Potions-Making really was, the art of transforming existing magical essences. So you were a little tired after Potions class, but not much, because you weren't empowering the potions yourself, you were just reshaping magic that was already there. And that was why a second-year witch could brew Polyjuice, or at least get close."
"And then Harry had gone to Professor Flitwick - since he didn't want to approach Professor Snape outside of class - and Harry had told Professor Flitwick that he wanted to invent a new potion, and he knew what the ingredients ought to be and what the potion should do, but he didn't know how to deduce the required stirring pattern -
After Professor Flitwick had stopped screaming in horror and running in little circles, and Professor McGonagall had been called into the ensuing fierce interrogation to promise Harry that in this case it was both acceptable and important for him to reveal his underlying theory, it had developed that Harry had not made an original magical discovery, but rediscovered a law so ancient that nobody knew who had first formulated it:
A potion spends that which is invested in the creation of its ingredients."
I love how everyone is panicking every time Harry opens his mouth. Which they should, really.
"The fundamental principle of Potions-Making had no name and no standard phrasing, since then you might be tempted to write it down.
And someone who wasn't wise enough to figure out the principle themselves might read it.
And they would start having all sorts of bright ideas for inventing new Potions.
"It had been made very clear to Harry that he wasn't going to be sharing this particular discovery with Neville, or Hermione either after the next armies' battle. Harry had tried to say something about Hermione seeming really off lately and this being just the sort of thing that might cheer her up. Professor McGonagall had said flatly that he wasn't even to think it, and Professor Flitwick had raised his little hands and made a gesture as of snapping a wand in half.
Although the two Professors had been kind enough to suggest that if Mr. Potter thought he knew what the potion's ingredients should be, he might be able to find an already-existing recipe that did the same thing; and Professor Flitwick had mentioned several volumes in the Hogwarts library that might be useful..."
"That's right," said Tracey, her voice low and grim as she leveled her wand on the barrier. "You should fear me. For I am Tracey Davis, the Darke Lady! That's Darke Lady spelled D-A-R-K-E, with an E!"
(Amelia Bones, Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, was sending an inquiring look at Mr. and Mrs. Davis, both of whom looked like they would have dearly preferred to die on the spot.)"
OH LORD, SHE'S ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. Even her parents are embarrassed.
Tracey's lighting fires, Sunshine is charging, Susan is dimming fires, and Neville's flying about. Dragon is sneaking about. Neville's broom gets hit with a curse and he's falling and lands. He's okay.
"Though nobody on the battlefield heard it, a large segment of the stadium audience had begun chanting, in steadily rising notes each time the word was uttered, "DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM", because you just couldn't see that and not think it required musical accompaniment."
"The crowd is cheering your grandson," said Amelia Bones. The old witch was favoring the screen with a measuring look.
"So they are," said Augusta Longbottom. "Some, if I hear correctly, are cheering, Our blood for Neville! Our souls for Neville! "
Seems a little fishy.
"Quite," said Amelia, taking a sip from a teacup which had not been there moments earlier. "It shows the lad has leadership potential."
"These cheers," continued Augusta, her voice taking on an even more stunned quality, "seem to be coming from the Hufflepuff benches."
"It is the House of the loyal, my dear," said Amelia.
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore! What in Merlin's name has been happening in this school? "
Lucius Malfoy was watching the screens with an ironic smile, his fingers tapping at his armrest in no discernible pattern. "I do not know what is more frightening, the thought that he has some hidden plan behind all this, or the thought that he does not."
Daphne and Hannah team up to take Neville. He leaps up and they miss. They all land, Somnium is cast, and everyone is scrambling.
Draco is dodging bolts Hermione is throwing at him.
"- although, Draco was beginning to realize, when he and Harry and Professor Quirrell had dismissed Miss Granger as having as much intent to kill as a bowl of wet grapes, they'd never seen her angry."
Neville kicks Hannah in the stomach, she shoots him anyway, and Daphne sinks her Most Ancient Blade into Neville's back. So much for a crush? Neville passes out. (I guess this isn't like, an actual blade of death here.)
"Today Mr. Longbottom has learned a valuable lesson about his feelings of pity and remorse," said Professor Quirrell.
"And chivalry," said Amelia, sipping her tea again.
Har. Hannah is clutching her stomach and trying not to barf, and Harry calls a hold to the battle to check. He offers to take Tracey out if Hannah needs to go to Madam Pomfrey. Hannah won't go, so --
"Oh, screw this," said Harry. "Chaotics! The faster we stun them, the faster she's out of here! We're going to do this very quickly, even if we take casualties! End truce! TUNAFISH! "
Everyone breaks out their green sunglasses as Harry pitches his cauldron's contents out, and whopping violet light breaks out, blinding whoever's left. End of war. Well, except for the part where Dragon Army got out their own goggles.
Draco and Hermione are still going at it. Draco wonders why Hermione is so pissed, and she says she knows what he and Snape are up to. Huh?! Then he gets pissed right back, and they keep pitching spells and Draco's glove falls off....
"And the bone-dead-silent hush that fell over every bench in every bleacher said that everyone understood quite clearly what it meant, that the scion of House Malfoy had just had his magic overcome by a Muggleborn."
And then the remaining Dragons mow over whoever's left, for the record.
The peanut gallery isn't happy. Quirrell attempts to talk to Lord Malfoy and is ignored.
Amelia Bones notes that In the midst of battle," she said finally, "with spells flying in every direction... those children seemed quite at home." Quirrell says these kids won't hide when the next threat comes. Madam Longbottom claps.
We won, I lost, Draco thinks. He beats himself up. He has one forced move left to make.
"Challenge Granger to a wizard's duel, in open defiance of Hogwarts regulations. Attack her outright, if she tried to refuse. Defeat her one-on-one, in public, not with clever dueling technique, but by overpowering her magic. Beat her solidly, completely, crush her as utterly as the Dark Lord himself had crushed his enemies. Make it absolutely clear to everyone, so that nobody could possibly doubt, that Draco had just been exhausted from casting the spell so many times. Prove that the Malfoy blood was stronger than any mudblood's -"
Ruh-roh. Harry's voice echoes in Draco's mind, Draco ponders how he was enjoying an equal opponent for a change before it all went wrong. He'd better win, but he can't cheat or ah, get caught at it. He writes a very formal letter demanding redress, even consulting an etiquette book, and compels her to a duel. Here's his P.S.:
If you don't know how the rules work, Granger, here's how it is. You insulted a Most Ancient House, and I've got the lawful right to challenge. And if you affront the conditions of the duel, like by having Flitwick show up at the trophy room, or even just telling anyone else, my father will take you and your false honor straight to the Wizengamot.
Susan tells Harry (and SPHEW and teachers and her aunt, etc.) that she thinks Draco will carry out his plot against Hermione soon.
"Later, looking backward, Harry would think of how, in his SF and fantasy novels, people always made their big, important choices for big, important reasons. Hari Seldon had created his Foundation to rebuild the ashes of the Galactic Empire, not because he would look more important if he could be in charge of his own research group. Raistlin Majere had severed ties with his brother because he wanted to become a god, not because he was incompetent at personal relationships and unwilling to ask for advice on how to do better. Frodo Baggins had taken the Ring because he was a hero who wanted to save Middle-Earth, not because it would've been too awkward not to. If anyone ever wrote a true history of the world - not that anyone ever could or would - probably 97% of all the key moments of Fate would turn out to be constructed of lies and tissue paper and trivial little thoughts that somebody could've just as easily thought differently.
Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres looked at Hermione Granger, where she'd sat down at the other end of the table, and felt a sense of reluctance to bother her when she looked like she was already in a bad mood.
So then Harry thought that it probably made more sense to talk to Draco Malfoy first, just so that he could absolutely positively definitely assure Hermione that Draco really wasn't plotting against her.
And later on after dinner, when Harry went down to the Slytherin basement and was told by Vincent that the boss ain't to be disturbed... then Harry thought that maybe he should see if Hermione would talk to him right away. That he should just get started on unraveling the whole mess before it raveled any further. Harry wondered if he might just be procrastinating, if his mind had just found a clever excuse to put off something unenjoyable-but-necessary.
He actually thought that.
And then Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres decided that he'd just talk to Draco Malfoy the next morning instead, after Sunday breakfast, and then talk to Hermione.
Human beings did that sort of thing all the time."
Why am I getting a feeling of DOOMY DOOM DOOM right now? And the song is playing in my head?
Sunday morning, rain is falling, Draco's not at breakfast yet. (Yes, I'm thinking of this to the Maroon 5 song.) Hermione sits with Harry and looks very sleepless. And then the Auror trio from earlier come into the Great Hall.
"Hermione Granger," Auror Komodo said in a toneless voice, "you are under arrest for the attempted murder of Draco Malfoy."
3.5 stars for shock and confusion.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Harry hadn't bothered complaining to Professor Quirrell about 'too much pressure'. Harry's mental model of the Defense Professor had predicted him looking severely annoyed, saying things along the lines of You are perfectly capable of solving this problem, Mr. Potter; did you even try? and then deducting several hundred Quirrell points."
"If there was anything wrong with Professor Quirrell's battles, it was widely agreed, it was that his spectacles didn't last nearly as long as Quidditch matches, once they actually started. To this Professor Quirrell had replied only, Such is realism, and that had been that.)"
("Goodness," said Augusta Longbottom. "What do you suppose your grand-niece has been learning at Hogwarts?") ("I don't know," Amelia Bones said calmly, "but I shall owl her a Chocolate Frog and instructions to learn more of it.")
"THAT'S CHEATING!" shrieked Blaise Zabini. "THAT'S TECHNIQUE!" Dean yelled back. "DRAGONS, CHARGE!"("Pardon me," the Lady Greengrass said. "Could you stop laughing like that, Mr. Quirrell? It's unnerving.")
"Hi, Harry," Hermione said, her voice sounding almost exactly normal. She started to put toast on her plate and a selection of healthy fruits and vegetables. "How are you?" "Within one standard deviation of my own peculiar little average," Harry automatically replied."