Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Chapter Nine
Hey, look at me, getting two recaps out in the space of two weeks! It’s almost like I’ve actually got a handle on this blogging lark. Only took me six years. On with the recap!
We’re picking up this week (the last recap is here, if you want to catch up) with Harry about to attend broomstick flying lessons with the rest of the Gryffindors as well as Slytherin, which he is already dreading:
““Typical,” said Harry darkly. “Just what I always wanted. To make a fool of myself on a broomstick in front of Malfoy. ””
I don’t know why, but the use of the word “darkly” here is just really funny to me. Makes me imagine this scene is actually Matthew Rhys as Philip from The Americans playing Harry and knows he’s about to be exposed after getting in too deep. Anyway!
Harry is nervous about his first flying lessons, given that everyone else already seems well-acquainted with the skill – well, except Neville, who was rightly kept away from all flying objects during his youth. Malfoy stalks around a bit, being a general young-adult-fiction turd, and then we’re at the first flying lesson:
“Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short, gray hair, and yellow eyes like a hawk.”
Headcanon: Madam Hooch and Professor Sprout are carrying on a torrid lesbian love affair between classes in her greenhouse, which Hooch attends by broomstick after dinner every night. Shit, maybe I shouldn’t have put that in here, now JK’s going to pinch it for progressivism points in the next Fantastic Bores and Where to Find Them movie.
The lesson begins, and Neville ends up immediatley and accidentally snapping his wrist after plunging twenty feet out of the air on a malfunctioning broomstick. Hooch hurries to take him to the hospital wing, and of course, that leaves the stage set for some real fuckery. And I don’t just mean the kind that launched a thousand Drarry fanfics into being.
Malfoy steals a Remeberall that Neville’s gran sent to him, and threatens to hide it up a tree. He flies off with it in tow, and Harry gives chase.
“He pulled his broomstick up a little to take it even higher, and heard screams and gasps of girls back on the ground and an admiring whoop from Ron.”
GET YOU A MAN WHO HYPES YOU UP. Harry chases Malfoy, who eventually tosses the trinket away and forces Harry to catch it before it smashes on the ground. Harry shows a great aptitude for flying, because he’s the hero of a children’s book and of course he does, but he gets busted by Professor McGonagall before he can get too cocky. He assumes he’s going to be expelled, and is gutted at the thought of what he might become –
“He thought of Hagrid, expelled but allowed to stay on as gamekeeper. Perhaps he could be Hagrid’s assistant. His stomach twisted as he imagined it, watching Ron and the others becoming wizards, while he stumped around the grounds carrying Hagrid’s bag.”
BITCH YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY. This is the only mention of Hagrid in this chapter so let me just hype my man up a little and say that I would carry Hagrid’s bag anywhere he wanted me to, if you catch my drift. McGonagall drags Harry away from the class and returns to the castle, where she goes to seek out another classroom:
““Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?”
Wood? thought Harry, bewildered; was Wood a cane she was going to use on him?”
Knowing this book, fucking probably. As it turns out, Wood is Oliver Wood, the captain of the house Quidditch team, and McGonagall has recommended Harry to take on the Seeker position, despite it being against the rules for first years to play in their house teams. Harry is delighted, but, later that day, Malfoy rocks up to reclaim some of that sweet, sweet magical masculinity he was so cruelly robbed of when Harry beat him. He challenges Harry to a duel, which he accepts, not really understanding what it is. Ron is happy to explain:
“”But people only die in proper duels, you know, with real wizards. The most you and Malfoy’ll be able to do is send sparks at each other. Neither of you knows enough magic to do any real damage. I bet he expected you to refuse, anyway. ”
“And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?”
“Throw it away and punch him on the nose,” Ron suggested.”
I might rag on JK for a lot of things, and she somewhat deserves it, but I will always stand by the fact that these books are actually really fun, well-written, and well-observed little slices of magical life. Now that we’ve got most of the world set-up done, it’s nice just to hang with Harry and Ron and enjoy their banter, which has always been one of my favourite parts of this series.
Hermione overhears them, but they dismiss her protests, and later go to attend the duel at midnight. But they encounter an unexpected delay;
“They had almost reached the portrait hole when a voice spoke from the chair nearest them, “I can’t believe you’re going to do this, Harry. ”
A lamp flickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pink bathrobe and a frown.”
Now, this is a bitch who gets how to deliver some atmosphere around here. Say what you want, but you will never convince me that Hermione hadn’t been waiting there for three full hours, ready to deliver the most dramatic reveal of herself she possibly could.
She tries to discourage them, but they dismiss her, and she ends up stuck joining them on their mission. Outside the common room, Neville is asleep in the corridor after forgetting the password to get inside (I just want to gather him up in my arms, I really do, he needs someone to take care of him), and he ends up tagging along too. As they try to avoid being caught by Filch, they end up wandering up into the forbidden corridor on the third floor, where they encounter the exact reason that the corridor is forbidden:
“They were looking straight into the eyes of a monstrous dog, a dog that filled the whole space between ceiling and floor. It had three heads. Three pairs of rolling, mad eyes; three noses, twitching and quivering in their direction; three drooling mouths, saliva hanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs.”
Great, awesome!!! I love that Hogwarts takes the safety of its charges so seriously. They told them not to go up there, so it’s there fault if they all get eaten by the actual dog guarding the gates of hell from ancient Greek mythology, right? What more could the staff have done? Honestly, asking anything more would have been PC culture gone MAD.
The kids beat a hasty retreat back to the common room, where Hermione gets to deliver the meme-legendary “We could have been killed – or worse, expelled!” line, and thus secure her place in rockstar badass bitch history.
And that’s us for this chapter! I hope you’re all having a good holiday season, and I look forward to checking in with these recaps in a hopefully-timely matter once again. If you enjoyed this recap and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon! You can also find more of my writing on my film site, No But Listen.