Well it’s December here Rophyland, but since I’m a lazy-bones, it’s still November at Hogwarts, and the mountains around the school are an “icy grey”, the lake like “chilled steel”, the ground “covered in frost”… fittingly dull slash ominous weather as we embark on a worryingly-named chapter.
When my audiobook first made that little announcement I jerked away angrily and my earbuds fell out. Then I decided it might be best to read for myself so I could, you know, not linger. Because seriously, a whole chapter of fucking wizard team sports? This is not Sophy’s cup of tea. This is Sophy’s cup of vomit and horse piss!
Ah well. Luckily it’s short. (Yes, I checked.)
So. Let’s begin.
Blah blah, Harry’s first Quidditch match, blah blah he’s the secret weapon, blah blah it’s Good House versus Bad House, of course it is, blah blah blah.
And just when I’m rolling my eyes and disengaging from the story, bam! There it is, a short, sweet sentence at the top of page 181 that has me ready to applaud.
“It was really lucky that Harry now had Hermione as a friend.”
The sheer truth of it! The simple sagacity! Although it could have been better worded so as to avoid confusion. Maybe add a quick ‘for Harry’ in there between the lucky and the that. Just saying.
Heather says: Frankly, I feel like these books should feature more scenes in which everyone who knows Hermione worships Hermione/thanks The Lord JK Rowling for making Hermione a part of their world. I know it’s how *I* start every morning.
Rin says: Say a thousand Hail Hermione’s to repent for your sins.
Anyway Harry hasn’t quite gotten to that place where Hermione is his queen yet, but he does appreciate that she helps him with his homework and lends him useful books about sports. On that subject he gives us an anecdote re: Useful Hermione and Nasty Snape.
They’re out in the freezing courtyard at break and Hermione makes them a fire in a jam jar, because she’s the freaking bush tucker man of magic. Snape wanders around – limps around, actually – looking for someone to be unpleasant to, and naturally Harry quickly catches his beady eye.
Heather says: Nice plaid.
Sophy says: Nicely plaid. Um.
Rin says: And you just know she’s enchanted her little knapsack to be bottomless.
Sophy says: Such a Mary Poppins. Slash bush tucker man.
Anyway, Snape gets in a huff about a library book and takes some points from Gryffindor. The point aren’t the point though – the point is very clearly the limping. LIMPING IS A CLUE YOU GUYS.
Okay, or a red herring.
LIMPING IS EVERYTHING OR NOTHING YOU GUYS.
Anyway. It’s the night before the big game and Hermione is checking Harry and Ron’s Charms homework. In doing so she earns herself some completely redundant amazing points, as follows:
“She would never let them copy (“How will you learn?”), but by asking her to read it through they got the right answers anyway.”
The three of them have a chat, and Harry decides he shouldn’t be afraid of Snape, because he’s only a limping tall dark, Darth Vadery wizard who tried to murder him the moment they met with his very gaze. He goes snooping in the staffroom to find the Quidditch book Snape confiscated. And wait, what – a staffroom? I wasn’t aware magical castle schools were allowed to have things like staffrooms. I’m quite flummoxed. What’s next? A canteen? One of those coffee vending machines?
Harry knocks a couple of times, then opens the door and sees Filch tending to Snape’s wounds. It’s gross.
Snape is ranting about the three-headed foe that did this to him and AHA! THE DOG! THE VAULT! SNAPE! EVERYTHING AND NOTHING!
Unfortunately he catches sight of young Harry at the door, chillin’ like a boy wonder, and screams at him to get out.
Harry runs to report the actual events and his conclusions re: said events to Ron and Hermione. He thinks Snape’s after whatever the three-headed dog is guarding and even accuses him of letting the troll in to create a diversion.
Hermione thinks that’s a bridge too far – Snape may not be very nice, but he wouldn’t do something like that. I think we should all listen to Hermione, because really what are the odds she’s going to be right?
Heather says: Oh, man. Her half-cocked eyebrow. I can’t. Also, Rin, I am so glad you’re using actual Gryffindor colors for Gryffindor. Remember when the Potter movies started making Gryffindor stuff, like, purple?
Rin says: What kind of Gryffindor would I be if I didn’t know my own colours?! NAOMILY COLOURED.
Sophy says: Naomily is how Rin remembers her ABC too.
Ron just snaps at her because he’s useless like that. He says he’s with Harry and the two of them go to bed thinking, no doubt mistakenly, that they are clever.
The next day is the big Quidditch match, and Hermione tries to “wheedle” a bit of toast into Harry’s mouth. He decides not to have breakfast though, because he still thinks he’s cleverer than Hermione. FOOL BOY.
Heather says: If we played a drinking game where we take a shot every time Harry disregards Hermione’s warnings and ends up getting axe-murdered, we would be trolleyed for, like, the rest of our lives.
Rin says: Ropher drinking games should be a global standard.
Out on the pitch I try to hurry past everything that isn’t Harry’s friends being super cute. They’ve painted a large banner on a sheet that Scabbers has graciously ruined for the occasion, and it says ‘Potter for President,’ which, okay, might be a bit of an overshoot, but whatever. It’s the thought. Dean has painted a Gryffindor lion under it, and Hermione has “performed a tricky little charm so that the paint flashed different colours”. And to that I say, bush tucker man of magic.
WHAT? I WOULD EAT HER FLASHING PAINT?
Okay. Well. From here on in there’s a lot of Quidditch. I mean, there’s really a lot of Quidditch, you guys, and I don’t know if I can take it, so forgive me if the following rendering is inaccurate and/or dripping with resentment.
Oliver gives the kids a pep talk about how they’re going to win this year because they have the best team Gryffindor’s had in years, and I’m honestly surprised he didn’t single Harry out there, because come on, it’s Harry Miracle Potter, you guys? There should have been a red carpet. A floating one. And a cake, also floating.
Oliver is all “Okay men,” and Angelina Johnson is all peppy and feministy with her “And women”. Whatever, Angelina, we already have a Hermione. We don’t need any other girls ever. Be quiet.
Heather says: Oooh, not even Quinn Fabray?
Rin says: How… like.. ? You guys, Heather actually asked me something along these lines when we met and I refused to answer. I HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.
Sophy says: I used to be “not even Naomi Campbell?” Nowadays Rin is all “A is for Agron…”
Madame Hooch, who is refereeing, tells them she wants “a nice, fair game” and Harry astutely notes that she’s really talking to the Slytherin Captain, who, he astutely notes again, looks “as if he had some troll blood in him.” Of course. Bad people wear green and look like trolls. It’s like the ABC of life.
“Mount your brooms, please,” Madam Hooch says, and I let it go, because it’s just too easy.
We’re officially playing Quidditch, so we’re officially in blah blah blah mode. There’s a sweet moment when Harry spies the ‘Potter for President’ sign in the crowd and feels braver. His heart actually skips. It’s very cute. Blah blah.
Next there’s a whole paragraph of commentating which I’m going to politely ignore. The important thing is that it culminates in “GRYFFINDORS SCORE!”
At that point Hagrid shows up and squeezes in next to Ron and Hermione. They reflect irritatingly on how exciting Quidditch is, and on how Harry hasn’t had much to do yet, because the Snitch hasn’t shown up.
Blah blah blah the Snitch does show up. Harry sees it and gets all excited. But you know, as luck would have it, Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs has seen it too and now they’re “hurtling” “neck and neck” towards it.
But. Fear not.
Harry is faster than Higgs. Really you guys. “Harry was faster than Higgs.” It says it right there on the page. And you know what else is great about Harry? He also puts on “an extra spurt of speed.” Which… I don’t know Rowling. I just wouldn’t use the word ‘spurt’ in children’s literature. It’s been contaminated.
Heather says: [SPOILER ALERT] Sophy, you’re almost as good at Quidditch commentary as Luna Lovegood.
Rin says: I love Quidditch But it’s tearing Rophy apart.
Sophy says: If we lived in Wizard-town, and you tried to watch a Quidditch match, I would stand in front of the telly waving my arms around to block as much screen as possible
Meanwhile, Marcus Flint blocks Harry “on purpose” and apparently that’s a foul, because he banged into Harry? I don’t know, and I don’t care. The moral of the story is that Slytherins are horrible, ugly people who cheat at sports. As long as you’re getting that, you’re golden.
Meanwhile, in all the hubbub the Snitch has disappeared.
The Gryffindors get a free kick or something, but Hagrid and Dean are still bitching. They think Flint should be out of the game altogether, which I guess makes sense, because preventing Harry from excelling is wrong, wrong, wrong. Especially if you do it on purpose.
And okay, I’ll be serious for a second. I do get that the reason they’re so outraged is that Flint “coulda knocked Harry out of the air,” but the thing is that it’s hard for me to see why that’s such a big deal? Um. Not because I hate the boy wonder or anything. Because because I don’t see how there’s any real danger involved, when you know that the audience is dotted with wizards who could bring him safely down to the ground and probably turn him into a typewriter and back whilst they did so.
But whatever, Flint is ugly and smells and should be banned from everything ever.
Gryffindor get their free kick and there’s a brief bit of commentating before Harry is the centre of attention again.
Basically what happens is his broom starts fucking with him. And on that note, let me introduce you all to these two lovely sentences: “He gripped the broom tightly with both his hands and knees. He’d never felt anything like that.”
Bad enough, right? Well add this: “It was as though the broom was trying to buck him off.” Sprinkle liberally with the words “jerking” and “twitching” and “vibrating”.
Honestly, as far as I’m concerned Rowling can use the word ‘spurt’ as much as she likes if she’ll just go a little easier on the broomstick porn in future.
Blah blah blah. Harry’s broom has stopped being faintly pedophilic but remains mental. It is now “zigzagging through the air” in “violent swishing movements” and you know what, I suspect foul play.
Hagrid says that if he didn’t know better he’d say Harry had lost control of his broom, but seeing as how Harry is Harry “he can’t have.” Foul play it is. He rules Flint out, because apparently you can’t mess with a broomstick without “powerful Dark magic – no kid could do that to a Nimbus Two Thousand'”. Hermione, because she’s better than everyone else, grabs Hagrid’s binoculars the minute he says this and starts “looking frantically at the crowd”.
What she sees is Snape, who has his “eyes fixed on Harry” and is “muttering nonstop under his breath.” From this Hermione concludes that he is jinxing Harry’s broom, and I’d say that’s a fair and reasonable conclusion to draw. But really, when are Hermione’s conclusions anything other than fair and reasonable.
There’s this particularly delightful exchange at this point between Ron and Hermione:
Ron: “What should we do?”
Hermione: “Leave it to me.”
Ron and Hermione in a list is basically this: ,
Heather says: Rophy and HH in a list is basically like this: ,
Rin says: HAHAHA. Totally. Rophy, forever batting eyelids. Heather, forever adoring.
Sophy says: We’re worse than Faberry.
Harry’s had just about enough of his rogue broom and is beginning to worry he might actually fall off it. Everyone is so busy trying to help him down to the ground safely that they don’t notice Flint scoring loads of goals. I would have thought play would be suspended or something, but whatever, the point is that Team Evil are getting ahead so they can be beaten back down at the very last minute.
Back to the bleachers.
“Come on, Hermione,” Ron “mutters desperately”, because really that’s all he’s good for. Whiny cheerleading. Hermione is good for everything, so she rushes over to where Snape is, knocking Professor Quirrell over on the way. Haha, suck it Quirrell.
She pulls out her wand and proceeds to set Snape’s robes on fire, which is super awesome. I was expecting to be irritated by the inconsistency of only dark powerful magic fucking with a broom, but tiny little girl magic being able to disarm the dark magicker. But no. This is clever and makes sense.
In about 30 seconds Snape realises he’s on fire and “yelps”. Hermione “[scoops] the fire off him into a little jar in her pocket” which is just the cutest image ever, and hurries back to her seat before Snape can see her. Thankfully the disruption in his concentration was enough to break the curse, and Harry is in control of his broom once more.
I care a lot less about that and a lot more about this bit of random adorableness that follows:
“”Neville, you can look!” Ron said. Neville had been sobbing into Hagrid’s jacket for the last five minutes.”
Oh Neville. He’s like Rachel Berry in a foodfight.
Anyway, there’s some blah blah blah, and then Harry comes hurtling down to the ground and coughs the Snitch out, and “the game [ends] in complete confusion,” which I guess means I might have been paying more attention that I thought.
Flint whines that Harry “didn’t catch [the Snitch], he nearly swallowed it,” but that makes no difference. Team Good have won the day.
Harry kind of misses out on all the excitement though, because he’s a bit flustered and needs to be taken back to Hagrid’s hut to have a cup of tea with Ron and Hermione. And he needs to hear all about the real excitement which is that limping bastard Snape putting a hex on him.
Heather says: I love how you’re both pretending you’d both be able to look at anything OTHER than Hermione if you were in the same room as her.
Rin says: I love how we’ll never know what happened to Harry and Ron.
Sophy says: It’s what they call a ‘cold case’.
Hagrid’s instinct is the same as Hermione’s earlier – he think it’s “rubbish”, Snape wouldn’t do that. But when they tell him everything, well… he’s not so concerned about Snape anymore. He’s more concerned with dropping his teapot and asking how the hell they know about “Fluffy”?
Turns out the three-headed dog is sorta kinda his pet and he just lent him to Dumbledore to guard the –
But that’s top secret. Hagrid won’t say a word more. And when Harry reminds him that Snape is trying to steal whatever it is, he simply says it’s rubbish again – “Snape’s a Hogwarts teacher, he’d do nothing’ of the sort.”
Hermione asks why he just tried to kill Harry then, and Harry notes that the “afternoon’s events certainly [seem] to have changed her mind about Snape.” Which, duh. Since this morning Hermione has married book-learning with fresh evidence and drawn sensible conclusions based on that, Harry. It’s called using your brain and it’s a good time, but whatever, I guess it’s not for everybody.
Hagrid gets all huffy defending Snape, and just as he’s insisting he would never try to kill a student, he lets slip that the top secret item Fluffy is protecting has to do with a certain Nicholas Flamel.
He looks furious with himself.
And I look relieved to find there are no more chapter titles with the word ‘Quidditch’ in them in this book.
(Yes, I checked.)