Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Grim tea cup to add to my collection

Everyone was staring, transfixed, at Professor Trelawney, who gave the cup a final turn, gasped, and then screamed.
There was another tinkle of breaking china. Neville had smashed his second cup. Professor Trelawney sank into a vacant armchair, her glittering hand on her heart and her eyes closed.
'My dear boy -- my poor dear boy -- no -- it is kinder not to say -- no -- don't ask me...'
'What is it, Professor?" said Dean Thomas at once. Everyone had got to their feet, and slowly, they crowded around Harry and Ron's table, pressing close to Professor Trelawney's chair to get a good look at Harry's cup.
'My dear,' Professor Trelawney's huge eyes opened dramatically, 'you have the Grim.'
The Grim in my teacup
In our first introduction to the memorable Professor of Divination, Sybil Trelawney, we experience the second prediction that Trelawney makes about Harry.

The first, of course, was the prophecy offered up before Harry was even born that set into motion the tortured relationship that was to develop between the Dark Lord and our orphan hero.

The second one, the prophecy of Harry's death in this scene from The Prisoner of Azkaban, was perhaps not so meaningful. Sure, it tied in with Harry's many sightings of a strange black dog that was haunting his life at that time but it was certainly not very accurate.

My HP shelf
The tea leaves might have looked like The Grim -- the giant spectral dog that haunts church yards which is an omen of death -- to Trelawney but they certainly didn't give notice of Harry's imminent demise.

I write of this section today not because I have any great insight into what is happening in the scene but simply to introduce my latest Harry Potter acquisition: a handmade Grim tea up, with Trelawney's immortal words on the saucer. It's gorgeous and so really very cool. It was made by the young friend of my friend Steph and was a gift to me at Christmas this year.

I just love it. And it fits in so nicely on the lowest level of my handcrafted Harry Potter shelf, right next to my hand knit Griffyndor scarf!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wondering who killed Ariana Dumbledore

This priori incantatem spell is still hanging around in the back of my head.

A useful little spell, isn't it? It causes a wand to spew forth, in reverse chronological order, all of the spells it has cast in the past. How far back it goes, I don't think is ever established, but it can be used in a variety of ways to understand how events transpired, to interact with people who died under that wand, to prove guilt or innocence even.

Useful, yes, but not used often enough, I think.

For example, the events of The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows establish very clearly that Albus Dumbledore is haunted by the death of his sister, Ariana, and the thought, the fear that he himself could possibly have cast the spell that killed her.

His fear and remorse show themselves when he drinks the potion that protects the Slytherin's Locket in the middle of the lake in the cave by the seaside. He becomes emotional again in the "King's Cross" scene at the end of The Deathly Hallows, telling Harry that he fears that he himself cast the spell that killed Ariana.

Which begs the question: why, at some point in the 100 or so years between the Ariana's death and Dumbledore's own demise, did he not think simply to perform priori incantatem on his own wand and perhaps on Aberforth's as well. I will accept that Dumbledore would not have had access to Grindelwald's original wand but, if he tested both his own and his brother's, that should be sufficient to prove who cast the killing spell.

Okay, if priori incantatem is time-limited (or limited in the number of spells it can spew forth), perhaps Dumbledore could run out of time... but why wouldn't he think of it immediately after Ariana's death? He was a masterful wizard at the time. Perhaps he was too distraught and, by the time he thought of using this spell on his own wand, he had run out of time.

The situation begs another question: in all of Harry Potter lore, we have seen only one spell that kills its target (Avada Kedavra) -- does Dumbledore's reaction to his possible part in Ariana's death mean that he, Aberforth and Grindelwald were duelling to the death that fateful day?

Were all three of them throwing the Avada Kedavra around as they fought a boys' fight?

Or is is possible that an already weakened Ariana succumbed to a lesser spell?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ah, the stories Bellatrix's wand could have told!

So I'm reading The Deathly Hallows in French and I have come to the scene at Shell Cottage where our hero trio are about to apparate to Diagon Alley to attempt to break into Gringott's.

Hermione expresses her horror at having to carry the captured wand of Bellatrix Lestrange. Harry tells her it should help her live the part. Ron tells her to imagine all the powerful magic that has been done with that wand.

Ron's comment only serves to make matters worse as Hermione points out, with absolute disgust, that  Bellatrix had used that exact wand to torture Neville's parents into madness and then to kill Sirius Black.

Harry's immediate reaction is one of revulsion. He expresses the wish to throw the wand away, to get as far from it as he possibly can.

It's too bad he didn't remind himself of Priori Incantatem, the spell that forces a wand to reveal the spells it has previously cast in reverse order.

We saw Priori Incantatem in the graveyard in The Goblet of Fire when Voldemort returns to bodily form -- Harry's wand forces the Dark Lord's wand to spit out shadows (albeit talking shadows) of its most recent victims, including (I believe erroneously) Cedric Diggory and Harry's parents -- and, earlier in the seventh novel, Harry reminds Hermione and Ron that, by using Priori Incantatem on Hermione's lost wand, the Death Eaters will soon learn that Harry's original wand had been broken.

In that graveyard scene, remember, the shadows that emerged from Voldemort's wand of his recent victims were actually able to speak to Harry and to take steps to protect him as he made his escape. In a way, while simply shadows of spells past, they were also thinking beings.

So it's too bad that Harry doesn't think to perform Priori Incantatem on Bellatrix's wand so as to get a chance to speak, at least briefly, to his godfather. I'm not sure what good it would have done any one, to be honest -- it's not like Sirius would have any great insights into the Deathly Hallows or how to break into Gringott's or what the last three Horcruxes were -- but it might have given Harry, Hermione and Ron a welcome moment with their beloved mentor.