The Burrow: Mix It All Together And You Get…

by Robbie Fischer

J. K. Rowling’s World Book Day chat has so far provided Harry Potter fans and “sleuths” with their first hints, since the advent of Book 5, about what is in store for Books 6 and 7.

At first blush, her hints don’t seem to give a lot of information. Most of her answers, it seems, were “No comment” or “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

I’m sure some of those “non-answers” are actually pretty interesting, like whether Harry’s eye color is going to be important, etc. It gives us something to speculate about, stuff she neither confirms nor denies. But JKR also supplied some concrete information we have been thirsting for…just enough to tantalize us, and to keep us guessing.

And that’s what I want to talk about this month: the CONCRETE. Or since it’s just a few dry little specks waiting to be mixed up with our guesses and theories, and pressed into shape, maybe it would be better to call it CEMENT (which is to concrete what flour is to bread).

Here are the actual pieces of “cement” information we can draw from the World Book Day chat. I am not including revelations about the past or general interest, such as “Winky never gets over her butterbeer addiction,” or “The Weasleys were home-schooled,” which is all very interesting FYI, but probably won’t help us guess what’s going to happen next. I am also not including non-answers like “You’ll find out more about him/her in Book 6.”

1. There WILL be a new minister of magic by the end of the series. So many of us have already guessed that it’s going to be Arthur Weasley. The only thing directly pointing to that is Ron’s remark, before winning the Quidditch Cup against all odds, that he had as much chance of winning as his father had of being the next MOM. And some have noted a pattern of Ron’s offhand remarks becoming accurate predictions.

It would be ironic if this were true, considering how Arthur’s enthusiasm for Muggles has stymied his political prospects under Cornelius Fudge. It would also make sense if the understanding that Arthur and Dumbledore seem to share is going to shape the future course of wizardry. This may actually be stronger evidence than the shaky “Ron dibsed it so it’s gotta happen” argument. And after all, if there’s going to be a new Minister, it might as well be Arthur.

2. Harry is going to keep making progress in wizardry. Big surprise! We heard it from Mr. Ollivander in Book 1: “I think we can expect great things from you, Mr. Potter…” And though Harry is occasionally modest enough to overlook it, he has done some amazing things for his age. What will he learn to do next?

I think, for starters, he will get a few pleasant surprises when his OWL scores come. And maybe one or two that aren’t so pleasant. For instance, he will continue having Snape for Potions. And he may also continue having Firenze for Divination. I think, however, that he needn’t worry about Astronomy or History of Magic ever again.

3. Something pretty nasty/scary is going to happen to Harry. The kind of thing that, if you knew it was coming at you, you would probably go into hiding. Worse than the nasty scary stuff he has already faced up to? Dude…

4. Ron might have trouble staying on the Quidditch team. It’s barely a hint, but JKR at least takes time to raise the doubt that the new Captain will let him stay. Who will it be? By my reckoning, the only past players returning to Hogwarts are Harry, Ginny, Katie Bell, and (just technically) Kirke and Sloper.

I doubt that someone who hasn’t even played a full season will be captain, and JKR would have to be really mincing words if Ron was going to be captain, so that leaves Harry or Katie. Won’t it be fun to see them auditioning new players! I’ll bet Kirke and Sloper won’t get in unchallenged, and I’ll bet Ginnie makes the team as a chaser.

But why would anyone not want Ron on the team after his triumph the previous year? Could there be a clash of egos between Ron and Harry? Could it be that Ron’s delicate self-image will suffer from having to fly in Harry’s shadow again? This could put a big strain on their friendship.

And if the result is that the captain considers putting Ron off the team, my guess is that Harry would be the one facing that agonizing dilemma. If Katie was captain, I don’t see why she wouldn’t just tell them to work it out or they could both take a hike. My GUESS is, JKR has just given us a clue that Harry is going to be team captain, and Ron is going to give him trouble.

By the way, has anyone noticed that the Slytherin team seems to have had four chasers at one time? Count’em: Flint, Pucey, Montague, and Warrington. What’s the deal with that? OK, all 4 were never actually mentioned as players in any single game, but how could they all be on the team if they never played together? Did they meet just for practice during Harry’s Year 4, in spite of having no matches? Or are they bright enough to have reserve players, unlike the Gryffindors?

5. Ron is going to be jealous about Hermione and Viktor Krum again. Another “big surprise!” Maybe romance will bloom between them, maybe not. But it will be fun to see them torture each other more and more, won’t it?

6. Harry has his shortest stay ever with the Dursleys after his fifth year. Infuriatingly, this is the MOST concrete piece of information JKR has given us so far. Or rather, it is the biggest pinch of cement. It doesn’t add up to much. Why, or how, does Harry get such an early reprieve from the Dursleys? Does something awful happen? What could be more awful than what happened the last four summers? Item: The Masons. Item: Aunt Marge. Item: Ton Tongue Toffee. Item: the Dementors. What sinister thing awaits Harry now? Or will he have…I am almost afraid to ask, lest I jinx it…a good summer?

7. “The Sorting Hat is certainly sincere.” This is a very ominous answer, or rather non-answer, to a penetrating question: Can we believe everything the Sorting Hat says? It’s a non-answer because the Sorting Hat could be misled…or there could be a flaw in its “programming”…and maybe, with complete sincerity, it will give bad advice that will lead to greater peril for Hogwarts and for Harry.

8. The Magical and Muggle worlds are not going to be rejoined. “The breach is final.” So whatever Arthur Weasley does as MOM, it won’t mean a new era of openness with Muggles. The MOM’s job will be, as it always was, to keep Muggles from noticing magic. It’s for their own good, really.

9. Harry will tell his “nearest and dearest” about the Prophecy after he digests it a bit. Some of us can probably write that conversation ourselves. JKR has done a lot to make it clear how Hermione and Ron will react, for instance. The conversation I’d really like to know about is the one in which Snape and Harry bury the hatchet.

Like I said, there’s a lot of other stuff in the World Book Day chat for you to turn over in your mind…like the “Oooo good question” non-answer to the question about Sirius’ magic mirror, and the dreadfully vague answer to the “will Harry get another kiss again” which might mean a Dementor’s kiss!

But if you want CEMENT, that’s all you’ve got. Nine things. And really No. 5 was a non-answer too (wouldn’t Ron like to know!). And so, in their own way, are Nos. 3 and 7. Now mix in some imagination, a little hope and fear, a little wild speculation…and what do you get?

Whatever it is, it probably won’t be as cool as what JKR delivers in Book 6. Bottom line… “Wait and see.”

Robbie Fischer, unlicensed cement mixer