Thursday, March 15, 2007

HP 7: The First Three Chapters

by Ken Houghton

Channeling an act of this blog's patroness in her most recent movie, and fulfilling a promise made at Mannion's place several weeks ago, we now present for your amusement, a summary of the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (BOOK SIX SPOILERS FOLLOW):

Chapter 1:

Comedies end in weddings; tragedies end in death. As this volume is not a comedy, and Ms. Rowling wants to leave no doubt of that, the book opens not with the promised Bill/Fleur nuptials, but rather a scene reminiscent of the last book, in which Draco, Lucius, and Nausicaa Malfoy, along with Severus Snape, recapitulate the climax of HBP, the death of Albus Dumbledore.

And neither Malfoy parent is pleased. This was to be Draco’s crowning achievement, the signal that he was a worthy inheritor of his father’s position as Voldemort's right-hand man. Draco’s powers had been specifically developed over the previous summer so that even Harry’s invisibility cloak could not prevent his perception. While there had been rumors throughout the school year that Draco had engaged in some problematic actions (crying in the bathroom where Moaning Myrtle had seen him, for instance), theMalfoys had always been certain Draco would, when faced with his ultimate duty, be able to perform. And now Severus was suggesting it had not been so.

There could be little doubt the description was accurate; there had, after all, been other witnesses to the death of Albus Dumbledore, witnesses who corroborated that it had not, in the end, been that Draco had come through.

And so it was that Draco learned that his mother Nausicaa was the true power behind the Malfoy family, that it was she who ensured their chosen position within the Death Eaters. It was a lesson he would not soon forget. And one he swore (to himself, at least) that Harry Potter would learn as well.

Chapter 2

The Weasley household’s wedding preparations are in full swing. In part because of the success of Fred and George’s business, the family would be traveling in style to the marriage of Bill Weasley to Fleur Delacour. Hermione would travel with them, as would—a pleasant surprise that—Hermione’s parents, who had decided that the site of the wedding would be an excellent place for this summer’s holiday. (That they would also be able to spend some time getting to know the Weasley family, with whom they expected to have close relations in the future, was no small part of their calculation.) Indeed, the only slight damper on the preparations was the absence of Harry Potter, who was living at the Dursleys for the summer.

It wasn’t that he wanted to be there, but he was mindful that Aunt Petunia, his only living blood relative, provided him the protection that even 12Grimauld Place in London could not, especially with Dumbledore dead. (Indeed, with Snape apparently returned to the other side, 12 Grimauld Place could in no way be considered a safe house for anyone, let alone Harry, which Lupin had noted to him with no small degree of regret.)

So Harry was spending the first part of the summer with the Dursleys, dreading to go out of the house—his encounter with the Dementors and Dudley two years previous weighed heavily on his every move—communicating daily by owl with Hermione and Lupin (who were doing the heavy research) while trying to figure out how best to convince Headmaster McGonagall to allow him to use the Pensieve to find the reliquaries he would need to destroy.

Chapter 3

The wedding celebration of Bill and Fleur begins with Hermione and Ron running into Victor Krum, looking splendid. He tells them he has been hired to teach Transfiguration at Hogwarts and Hermione immediately begins to discuss procedures that leave Ron jealous, and noting wryly that Victor’s English appears to have improved much from the “Hermio-ninny” days.

A summer away has returned Ginny to herself, and she is focusing on her new school year, and most especially her OWLs, as well as the upcoming Quidditch season, with the need to find Gryffindor a new Seeker. Always practical, and not one to let grass grow under her feet, Ginny is now dating Neville Longbottom.

All seems settled as the ceremony begins. An attack by Death Eaters, which leads to the death of Molly Weasley, changes the mood of the celebrants and the course of the book.

Ginny and Harry discuss his next steps. She offers Harry all of the details she can about her possession by Tom Riddle, including the sensations and memories from the diary of what the other reliquaries might be. Ginny avows a suspicion that the Diary was not the first relic, and notes that it might be fruitful for Harry’s search if he were to return to Hogwarts.

Harry notes that he can’t very well search for the reliquaries and maintain the full schedule of a seventh-year Hogwarts student; as he does this within the hearing of Headmaster McGonagall and the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, who proposes a solution: Harry shall return to Hogwarts on a reduced class schedule, with additional duties as the Special Assistant to the new teacher for the Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry agrees to this on the condition that StanShunpike be freed, without knowing who that teacher will be.

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Just to show to what extent my kids are too young and my reading list too concentrated elsewhere (though I just started Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell), is this fan fiction or should I be braced for a cease-and-desist assault from J.K. Rowling's magic wand-wielding attorneys?
If you get a C&D from Rowling or the people at Scholastic, it will rival the investigation of Cleve Cartmill after "Deadline" appeared in Astounding.

Given that my betters (notably Russell Arben Fox and Lance himself [can't find the link where he predicts eight deaths) have already done this type of riff, and their posts still live, I doubt there will be an issue.

Full Disclosure: I do know people who work and did work at Scholastic. However, when Goblet of Fire came out, Shira (whose copy came from Amazon) had finished it before they had access to it at work.
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