Chapter Eight – The Potions Master

It’s Harry’s first day at Hogwarts and everyone’s obsessed with him.

At this point in my notes for this chapter I wrote ‘Themes’, and under that I wrote ‘Everyone obsessed with protagonist’.

Okay maybe the truth isn’t quite as scholarly as that. Maybe what I actually wrote was ‘HAHA OMG EVERYONE AT HOGWARTS HAS A HARRY-BONER BUSINESS AS USUAL THEN.’

Same diff.

Harry takes us on a tour of his hoggy, warty new home, doing his best to ignore the hordes of drooling Potterites. He tells of staircases with rogue steps that like to vanish every now and then, of “doors that [aren’t] really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending.” He describes how the people in the portraits pop back and forth to visit one another, how the empty suits of armor take promenades from time to time.

It’s difficult to remember where anything is, he explains, because it all seems to move around a lot, and okay oh my god I would HATE to live in this place. I like my inanimate objects like I like my men – inanimate. And I’ve already decided I’d rather spend my nights in a spider-laden cupboard under the stairs before Harry gets around to Peeves the Poltergeist, who pulls rugs out from under you, pelts you with bits of chalk, and grabs your nose without so much as a Hello there, I’m a fucking poltergeist.

I’d be rocking back and forth in the corner before tea-time.

(This is why I’m the claw in the Gryffinclaw.)

Heather says: And that’s why I’m the “puff” in “Hufflepuff.”

Rin says: Now I’m having images of me as a Gryffin as Sophy as one of my claws. It’s awesome.

Sophy says: That is awesome. It’s so awesome that I don’t even mind that I’m a glorified toenail in it.

Back to our tour. Apparently the caretaker Argus Filch is even worse than Peeves, although seeing as he’s not a Poltergeist I find this very hard to believe. His secret weapon appears to be a cat called ‘Mrs Norris’, who is his spy on the grounds, and I’m all ‘HA! Please, you have a cat? McGonagall can turn into a cat.’

I expect to see McGonagall and Norris get their claws out before the series is up. It says in my notes for this chapter that if that does not come to pass I’ll be asking for my money back.

PS. Is Mrs Norris the cat named after Mrs Norris from Mansfield Park? If so the fight would go more like this…

Heather says: If you tried to put a bonnet on my cat, you would be dead in four milliseconds. If you even tried to draw a bonnet on an illustration of my cat, she would kill you dead.

Sophy says: Omg, what is it with cats and violence????

Rin says: I love stuffed Professor McGonagall.

Sophy says: She’s so much less fierce in cat-form. And less animate.

Next Harry tells us about his classes, and how he quickly discovers there’s “a lot more to magic than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.” See at Hogwarts they study the night sky and learn the names of different stars and the movement of the planets which… does not involve wand-waving and funny words but also… is not magic. But wait! They study Herbology and learn how to take care of plants and fungi and… that’s not magic either?

Come on, Harry. The magic part is totally about wand-waving and funny words. Stop reaching.

History of Magic is taught Professor Binns who must really love his job, because he died and still didn’t quit. Apparently he fell asleep one night and “got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him.” And I’m intrigued by this whole ghost thing, I really am. I need details. Who decides whether or not you get to stick around after you drop? Is there a sign-up sheet? Not that I’d be interested. What’s the point of cheating death if you can’t eat??? I mean, really???

(I’m assuming these ghosts can’t eat. If it turns out they can… I’ll get back to you.)

The students aren’t quite so fond of History of Magic as their teacher, and apparently have great difficulty distinguishing between ‘Emeric the Evil’ and ‘Uric the Oddball’. Okay what. Are weird people bad now? I thought that was just ugly and/or fat people??? *makes notes*

The Charms teacher is teeny tiny and squeaks excitedly when he reaches Harry’s name, bien sûr.

McGonagall teaches Transfiguration and is “strict and clever”. In a glorious demonstration of her art she turns her desk into a pig, and yikes, transfiguration is scary as fuck. I can get on board with turning a human being into an animal. I can just about handle that. But seriously, when you turn a desk into a pig, you’re turning an inanimate object into a living being – you’re basically creating life – without sex or spores or anything but your free-will and a pointy stick. And the fact that you can extinguish that life just as easily? Bye bye insta!pig, hello table my old friend?

Scary as fuck.

Heather says: Oh, that’s … much deeper than I’ve ever been with Harry Potter. (That sounded way less dirty in my head.)

Sophy says: I can’ t decide whether that makes your head particularly clean or particularly dirty.

Ho hum.

Predictably, but no less disappointingly for the little scamps, Quirrell sucks at Defense Against The Dark Arts. He’s far too nervy and dull for it all. Things are looking up when he tells the class his turban was a gift from an African Prince in return for getting rid of a pesky zombie, but when asked how he defeated said zombie he just goes all pink and starts talking about the weather, and everyone is all ‘Yeah, whatever lame-o.’

And he smells weird. And is just generally shite.

Moving on.

It’s Friday and Harry has mail! Hedwig drops a note onto his plate, which turns out to be an invitation to have tea at Hagrid’s place. Harry replies on the back of the note with “Yes, please, see you later” and it’s cutely informal and cutely grateful and cutely cute.

That same day he has Potions, which SUCKS because Professor Snape is the WORST. He’s not exactly nice to anybody, but it appears that funny feeling Harry got on the first night was spot on – Snape hates him. And hey, maybe he just doesn’t want to follow the crowd. Maybe in the Wizarding World not having a Harry-boner is just the equivalent of piercing the hell out of your face or listening to Einstürzende Neubauten.

Regardless, they’re only on roll call and Snape’s already started giving Harry a hard time, referring to him as “our new celebrity” in a way that inspires sniggering from Evil House.

His eyes are black and “cold and empty”. Harry tells us they make him think of “dark tunnels,” and I’m instantly reminded of Adam Trask who looked out at the world through “the long tunnels of his eyes,” but… since Snape hates little boys for no good reason, I’m thinking I’m not supposed to be so much touched by the description as disgusted.

Heather says: Sophy, I fucking love it when you talk nerdy. Steinbeck? Well-played.

Sophy says: I’m a late-Steinbeck-bloomer. East of Eden is my first but twill not be the last. Beautiful, beautiful writing. I keep rereading things and noting page numbers with gold on them.

Speaking of which, this chapter has some gold in it, coming up…

Despite his unfortunate physical appearance, it seems Snape does have a certain je ne sais quoi, as he manages to keep the class silent “without effort,” barely speaking above a whisper.

He says there will be “little foolish wand-waving here,” and that for that reason many of the students will “hardly believe this is magic.” But it is magic. It seriously is. And the writing is seriously lovely here, so I’ll quote:

“I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death…”

At this point I’m saying to myself “Whoa, this Snape fellow is quite the poet!” And then he finishes with “if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach” and we’re back to plain old jerk.

Also at this point Hermione wins my heart for the redundant-th time, by being “on the edge of her seat” and looking “desperate to start proving that she [isn’t] a dunderhead.”

Snape’s not interested in Hermione though, because he’s a fool who doesn’t know greatness when he sees it.

Heather says: The Rophy dynamic of Sophy taking action and Rin standing around crying is quickly becoming my favorite thing.

Rin says: Just the thought of illustrated me being in the presence of certain illustrated people has me tearing up.

Sophy says: Poor illustrated Rin. She’s just going to be crying all over these recaps.

Instead of making like Rophy and bowing down and worshipping Hermione as he should, Snape proceeds to rip into Harry, asking him ridiculously specific questions along the lines of “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

Each time Harry gets a new question he’s entirely flummoxed and has no answer.

Each time Harry gets a new question Hermione’s hand shoots up in the air and eventually she actually stands up to get more height.

There there, Harry. We can’t all be Hermiones, that’s just one of those ways life isn’t fair. (Another way is pussy abscesses.)

Heather says: Things I never thought I would say: I am so glad Rin did not illustrate those words you wrote just there.

Rin says: Hahah who do you think I am? Maud Lilly???? (Oh Maud 8-.)

Sophy says: OMG THE FULL OF WORDS SAY :X :X :X Heather, would you hurry up and recap 308 so you can recap 309 so you can read our 309 recap so you can see where pussy abscesses comes from BECAUSE IT’S ALL RIN’S FAULT.

Rin =; She really needs to think of the children more often =;

Finally Harry’s had enough of this shit, and says “I don’t know. I think Hermione does though, why don’t you try her?”


Snape doesn’t like it. He takes a point from Gryffindor for “cheek”.

But his jerk-arse behaviour isn’t reserved for Harry only. He’s unpleasant to everyone except Malfoy and his Slytherin cronies whom he seems to be fond of for some unknown reason that probably has to do with their matching evil.

He calls Neville “idiot boy” when he screws up a potion, and man, harsh. It’s only the first class for the love of god, and Neville is small and cute and loving of toads, and aw, poor little chap, he’s covered in boils from his mishap, and he whimpers and is taken up to the hospital wing.


Snape assumes that Harry let Neville mess up his potion on purpose so he would look better by comparison – holy logical leap, Snapeman!

I think someone just wanted a flimsy excuse to take another point from Gryffindor.

Harry wants to object, but Ron tells him not to as he’s “heard Snape can turn very nasty.”

Uh, turn very nasty Ron? I don’t think he needs to turn to get to nasty. Seriously, he seems to be managing just fine facing this direction.

Harry’s upset and I can well understand why. It’s a rare and horrible thing to be disliked by somebody instantly for absolutely no discernable reason. Poor little poppet. Ron tries to cheer him up by pointing out that Snape is always taking points off Fred and George, and yes, okay Ron, but Fred and George probably happen to actually deserve it more often than not, so I doubt they lose much sleep over it.

Harry goes to see Hagrid after school, and takes Ron with him, because that’s what you do when you’re BFFs-in-progress.

Hagrid lives in a small wooden house on the edge of the forbidden forest and has an enormous black boarhound named Fang who is not as fierce as he looks. Fang rests his head on Harry’s knee and drools all over his robes. It’s awesome. Harry is much cheered.

Harry tells Hagrid how much Snape hates him and Hagrid is kind of evasive and all ‘Rubbish, he’s just a jerk, he doesn’t especially hate you WHY WOULD HE LOL RUBBISH *shifty look*’

Harry picks up a cutting from the Daily Prophet, the Wizarding world’s premiere newspaper. The headline is “Gringotts Break-In Latest” and the article tells us that though the place was infiltrated, nothing was taken, as the vault in question had already been emptied that day.

Harry notices with some excitement that the break-in happened on his birthday – the day he and Hagrid were there!


Hagrid gets all evasive again, grunts and offers him a rock cake that pretty much sounds like it’s literally made of rock.

Rock-cakes do not make effective distraction-cakes though. Harry reads the story again and remembers how when Hagrid took the grubby little package out of vault 713 he left it empty.


Harry walks back to the castle with Ron and thinks how “none of the lessons [he’s] had so far [have] given him as much to think about as tea with Hagrid”. He lists his questions: Had Hagrid collected that package just in time? Where was it now? And did Hagrid know something about Snape that he didn’t want to tell Harry?

To that I say: If that’s more than Harry has had to think about all week, then either our little boy wonder doesn’t know how to listen, or this is the worst school ever.

10 Responses

  1. SkepticEddie
    SkepticEddie at · Reply

    Einstürzende Neubauten. Oh Sophy. Love.
    Also, I am such a Hufflepuff. Only I look terrible in yellow.

  2. Kat
    Kat at · Reply

    Fingersmith reference. My life is complete.

  3. Kleisto
    Kleisto at · Reply

    “Bitch would totally trip over her bonnet strings and lose.”

    Is this a dressing gown reference?!
    Laughed so hard, Ropher makes my life better :)

  4. Vanilla
    Vanilla at · Reply

    Your Mrs N. vs Cat!McGonagall pictures are truely a thing of joy, much love indeed for them (only eclipsed by my love of Hermione)

  5. diggablu
    diggablu at · Reply

    Apparently ghosts do eat food – my flatmate blames them all the time for food that disappears out of our fridge. They especially like TimTams and leftover pizza.
    Harry maybe growing on me…hmmm…who woulda thought.

  6. Nemesis
    Nemesis at · Reply

    I never thought I could love something more than your Skins recaps – but here I am, laughing my ass off. Great idea!

    1. Frankie
      Frankie at · Reply

      Same here! Never thought my love for Harry Potter (the series, my heart is with Hermione ofcourse!) would be able to grow, but IT DID!

  7. Katja
    Katja at · Reply

    “Heather says: The Rophy dynamic of Sophy taking action and Rin standing around crying is quickly becoming my favorite thing.”
    This, for reals <3

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