The North Tower #29: The Future Gryffindor Quidditch Team

Hi everybody! Today, I thought I’d write an article based on one specific question/answer in the World Book Day chat with JKR. The question/answer that interested me was:

Q: Will Ron ever make it on the Gryffindor Quidditch team?
A: He’s already on the team, the question is just whether the new captain will let him stay…

Very interesting. Generates at least two questions straight away: who will be the new Gryffindor captain and why would this person not want to keep Ron on the team?

In book 6, there will be major changes to the Gryffindor team. The only players from the “original” team (the one we got used to during books 1-3) are Katie Bell and Harry. In book 5, Quidditch was given a less important place than in the first three books, mainly because Harry wasn’t on the team for more than one match, missed most training sessions because of detention with Umbridge and didn’t even see the final game that won Gryffindor the Cup. Quidditch was mainly used as a tool for JKR on one hand to reveal Hagrid’s secret and on the other to really emphasise Umbridge’s nastier sides and how the Ministry was taking control (I personally just loved the political side of Phoenix, it’s so incredibly ironic and—in my opinion—a great parody on some current political events *cough US Patriot Act cough* :-)) Anyway, in the next book, Quidditch will (supposedly) be back to normal, which means an almost entirely new team.

At the end of OotP, the team is as follows:

Chasers: Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet
Beaters: Andrew Kirke and Jack Sloper
Keeper: Ron Weasley
Seeker: Ginny Weasley

According to Ginny’s statement about trying out for Chaser as soon as Harry comes back as Seeker (i.e. as soon as Umbridge is gone), we pretty much know that the team, at the start of book 6 will look something like this:

Chasers: Katie Bell and Ginny Weasley
Beaters: Kirke and Sloper
Keeper: Ron Weasley
Seeker: Harry Potter

Already at this point, there is one position open for a third Chaser. I doubt that this team will last beyond the first try-outs though…

First question: Who will be Gryffindor’s new captain?

Well, since Ginny, Ron, Kirke and Sloper only made it on the team the previous year, I really don’t think they’ll have a chance. The two most probable candidates are Katie and Harry, both having been on the team ever since PS/SS.

It also could technically be Ron, meaning that “whether the new captain will let him stay” refers to Ron’s fervent pleas to get to resign from the team in OotP. This would go well together with what he saw in the Mirror of Erised in PS/SS, and I know that there are quite a lot on fans out there who think that the image Ron saw in the mirror will actually come true. I’m not one of those fans though, and I think that, after his spectacular performance against Ravenclaw, Ron would be highly reluctant to let go of something that brings him so much glory and attention. Ron and Harry are very different when it comes to dealing with fame. Harry remains modest and tries to avoid attention most of the time, whereas Ron clearly loves every bit of it (as illustrated by the Mirror of Erised). So no, I really don’t think it’ll be Ron.

That leaves Katie and Harry. Katie is one year older than Harry and I think this will count against her. Not for any in-story reasons, (Angelina was made captain in her 7th year after all) but because of extra-story ones (i.e. what JKR does because it’ll suit her story). When thinking it all over, I got the impression that Quidditch serves a specific purpose in JKR’s writing in every book (ok, so the following is EXTREMELY simplified and brief, I’ll write a proper Quidditch analysis some other time, so don’t get hung up on it just now ok?):

PS/SS: Quidditch allows Harry to distinguish himself from his own “legend”, to the other characters as well as to the readers. He proves that he’s not just a famous name.

CoS: Quidditch accentuates one of the main themes: the animosity between Harry and Draco Malfoy (which goes with the whole identity-issue, opposition Gryff-Slyth).

PoA: Quidditch becomes an expression for Harry’s personal development. Progressing in defence against the Dementors corresponds to progress for the Gryffindor Team.

GoF: No Quidditch. There just isn’t time for one thing. Also, GoF is a book where Harry’s very much alone. He has to make it through the Triwizard Tournament on his own (with a little help from his friends and enemies, sure), the whole isolation-think leading up to the graveyard scene and opening up for book 5. Quidditch is a team sport. It just doesn’t fit.

OotP: Quidditch is another way to distance Harry from the world.

Anyway, in Book 6, I’m guessing two of the main themes will be “Harry taking charge and trying to get control of his own destiny” and “Harry and Ron at odds”. The distancing process (as seen most clearly in book 5) will probably continue during the first weeks of the summer holidays, but eventually, Harry will have to accept his destiny as foretold by Trelawney’s prophecy and do something about it. He’ll have to start preparing for the fight and putting this fight as his number one priority (something he actually has done ever since Book 1 if you think about it.). We’ve seen Harry the Student, and Harry the Loner. Now it’s time for Harry the Leader.

Making Harry the captain of the Gryffindor team would indeed put him in this position, allowing him to continue what he started as leader for the DA (which I’m not sure will continue unless another horrible DADA teacher enters the scene). In Book 5, he was only teaching (planning, organizing and guiding), as captain of the Gryffindor team, he’d do all that but learn how to command and strategize as well. And I think that him acquiring those skills will be vital for Book 7. We’ve already seen time and again that Harry is noble, brave and a great fighter. What he lacks is self-control, the ability to stand back and consider the whole picture, plan ahead instead of improvising, think strategically and view the people around him as important parts in this strategy. Up until now, he’s usually wanted to fight alone, accepted help only when offered and insisted upon and has not really consciously used the specific talents of his helpers (except in PS/SS, there he does it really well). Take the fight at the DoM for example: after having given the order to smash the shelf (to create confusion) Harry lets everybody run and fend for himself. He doesn’t have a plan, nor does he try and make one. He acts on instinct and inspiration, trying to get out of there with all his friends and the prophecy intact. He fights with his heart, not his head, and that—in my opinion—is his greatest weakness as a fighter. He needs to realize that “play to your strengths” also implies that you should use the people around you in the best way possible and not try and do everything yourself.

Harry, the main character, needs the Gryffindor captainship. Katie, as a secondary character without too much impact on the plot, doesn’t. It’s not vital to the story that Katie learns the above-mentioned skills. It is that Harry does.

Argument number 2: Katie will be in her 7th year at the start of Book 6. To make her captain would mean having to chose yet another captain in book 7. As I believe that Quidditch will take up its old place as an important storytelling tool in the last two books (at least Book 6, I’’m not entirely sure about 7), it’d make sense to go back to the old structure (Books 1-3) and have a stable and unchanging team so that it can be used for something instead of only described. Harry would be able to stay on as captain for both years.

Third thing: Draco Malfoy will most certainly be made captain of the Slytherin team in Book 6 (or seven, I don’t remember how old the current captain is) and Harry would be a much better match for Draco than Ron. Ron and Draco already have their battlefield—as prefects—and don’t need another one. Harry and Draco do.

Fourth thing: McGonagall will probably (through divine inspiration from JKR most likely expressed through Dumbledore) realize the need to A) prepare Harry for the final fight in educating him to be a leader B) show him that she and Dumbledore have confidence in him and C) cheer him up a little, giving him something else to worry about than Sirius’s death and his own possible doom.

Fifth thing: Harry’s an excellent Quidditch player and would do a really good job, and he’s already proven that he’s a natural leader over and over again in the books. His resume beats Katie’s by far.

So, conclusion is that the Book 6 Gryffindor Quidditch captain will be Harry Potter. With that down, let’s get on with the more interesting question: why wouldn’t the hero want his best friend on the team?

After Ron’s great performance against Ravenclaw, Harry’s unlikely to kick him out because of lack of skill (even though he didn’t actually see the game). Even if Ron relapsed into his old nervousness and started playing really bad, it’d be more in character for Harry to try and help him get over that and realizing his potential than simply to throw him off the team.

No, I think the Quidditch problem will only help stress an already undergoing conflict between the two. A conflict that is bound to happen and probably will be caused by one or more of the following things:

1) The OWL scores

I think the OWL scores will become the starting point. Harry and Ron both want to become Aurors, and to even qualify and take the necessary NEWTs, you need at least an E in Transfiguration and an O in Potions. Now, I think both of them might achieve the Transfiguration mark (Harry for sure, Ron probably) and that the problem will be with Potions. After what we’ve seen during lessons, Hermione’s the only student who’s bound to get an O in Potions. Harry and Ron almost always have difficulties, though Harry’s seem slighter to the reader just because Snape exaggerates them so (I severely doubt that Harry’s standards in Potions are anywhere near the D that Snape usually gives him for a mark, and he seemed to do really well in his OWL exam). I believe that Ron will get one grade lower than Harry in this subject, meaning that Harry will get to do NEWT potions with Hermione while Ron is left behind with a shattered ambition.

2) Hermione’s little ruse

Oh yes, Hermione. We all know the score, Hermione likes Ron and Ron likes her back, though he’s either too shy or too stupid to have admitted it and asked her out. (And, to all of you R/H fans out there who are convinced that they’re already dating, I can’t prove you wrong but I don’t really buy it myself so I’ll just consider them in the pre-dating-not-sure-of-the-other-person’s-feelings-stage from now on ok?) What we know is that Ron gets insanely jealous every time somebody else likes Hermione, which he usually expresses in the mature way of name-calling and sarcasm (e.g. Neville at the Yule Ball, and of course Viktor Krum). Ron doesn’t seem to have realized that he wants Hermione for his own yet, but he’s sure hit the phase where he doesn’t want anybody else to have her. And just how long is Hermione going to put up with this?

I think that Hermione, in an attempt to end this frustrating non-action, will try a little female trick many a girl has tried over the ages, and which is very popular in literature in general (especially in romance novels): trying to get Ron jealous in order to make him realize his own feelings and “claim” her. She’s already doing this, writing long letters to Viktor Krum in front of his nose and making sure he sees how she carefully rolls up the parchment…

Now, Hermione also realizes that even if Ron is jealous at Viktor Krum and doesn’t like her writing to him, Viktor doesn’t pose enough of a threat in Ron’s head, because Ron is immature and extremely shallow. Two very illustrative examples of this are the way Ron thinks about the Yule Ball (wanting to take the prettiest girl he can find and parade her around as a trophy even if she’s completely horrible) and the way he dismisses Viktor Krum as a “grouchy git” (implying that his appearance completely overrides his age, talent, fame and any other merit he might have as a person). In order to make a person like Ron jealous enough to act, you need a rival that he’d consider a real rival, one that he’d feel actually threatened by…

And who would be better than Harry? Harry the hero, the Quidditch prodigy, the brave and kind fighter who, on top of it all, is actually good looking. From where Ron’s standing, Harry’s got it all (meaning everything Ron wants): he’s rich, he’s got an awesome broom, he’s famous and admired, girls like him (he’s gone out with one of the prettier girls at Hogwarts after all and several girls asked him to the Yule Ball) and he’s got really good skin (according to JKR). Even though Harry’s not vain enough to realize it (yet?), he’s probably better than average looking. If Harry started moving in on Hermione, Ron would definitely have to consider him a real rival (which he wouldn’t do with Neville for example).

Harry would be a good choice for Hermione also because they are really good friends. She might even let him in on the little game, getting him to play along to “help” Ron. It would be a lot safer for Hermione to pretend to be in love with Harry than Seamus for example, because the risk of Harry falling in love with her would be smaller. Or so she might think…

Three possible scenarios:

1) Hermione lets Harry in on the plan and he goes along with it, pretending that they’re a couple in front of Ron, making Ron insanely jealous. This would lead to either A) Harry finally admitting to Ron that it was all a game or B) Harry actually developing feelings for Hermione, making the situation truly complicated (and bordering on romance novel, I admit)

2) Hermione lets Ginny in on the plan and the whole thing is in fact a double ruse to get Ron for Hermione and Harry for Ginny. (I think that Ginny’s still got a weak spot for Harry and that her dating other guys is at least partly an effort to make him see her as independent and desirable, and/or to have a good time while waiting for him to start liking her). In this case, Harry would most likely be extremely confused, trying to deal with the situation as best he can. Again, this could lead to either a shorter conflict between Harry and Ron (until Harry manages to convince him that he’s not in love with Hermione) or a longer one as in 1B.

3) Hermione goes after Harry (with or without his consent) and Ron, insanely jealous, instead of swallowing his pride and admitting his feelings, goes after some other girl to make Hermione jealous in turn. Somebody that Hermione would see as a threat (i.e. both smart and probably prettier than her). This would go especially well with the Quidditch problem if the girl he chose was on the team, e.g. Katie Bell or a new female Chaser.

In any case, a love triangle (or even square or pentagon) like this would most certainly create a conflict within the Trio, and I can easily see Ron handling it very badly. So badly that Harry might have to ask himself if he can afford to keep Ron on the team because of all the tension and trouble he’s causing.

Then, on the other hand, I don’t think that JKR intends to transform her books into a soap opera. Personally, if any of the ideas I’ve just written down with regards to Hermione-Ron-Harry actually come true, I’d be rather disappointed. Sure, the ideas above could make for some rather exciting fanfiction, but I severely doubt that it’d make a contribution to Book 6 for example—unless of course JKR decides to completely isolate Harry and get Ron and Hermione out of the picture. Still, I think she can come up with far cleverer and less commonplace storylines than the ones I just threw together. 🙂

3) Ron the big-head

Ron, after the Ravenclaw game, will probably also tend to have a very inflated head as far as Quidditch is concerned. He might not want to take orders from Harry anymore, or tend to create his own tactics that he thinks are better. And they probably will be at first. Ron is an excellent chess player after all and Harry isn’t really. Ron would probably make an extremely successful Quidditch captain, being a natural at strategy. But that is not the point! The point really isn’t that Gryffindor win the Cup again (even if though it’d be a nice thing). The point is to prepare Harry for his upcoming fight. And I think Ron might just fail to see this…

Additional possible changes and complications

There will have to be a new Chaser for one, and this is likely to be a new introduction, seeing as it’ll probably be a girl (the Gryffindor Chasers have always been girls and there are already four boys on the team) and the girls we know well (Lavender, Parvati and Hermione) are quite unlikely to take up an interest in Quidditch all of a sudden. I think it might be a younger student, in Ginny’s year or even below that. Somebody who’s in year 2 or 3 maybe. If this person is to serve as Ron’s tool to try to take command of the team, a naïve second year would be perfect, somebody who’s seen Ron’s fantastic last game in OotP but not much of Harry in action.

Then I think that there will be two new Beaters, simply because the present ones seem to be so bad. Fred and George’s shoes will need to be filled, and my personal candidates for this job are the Creevey brothers, Colin and Dennis (who’ll be in their 3rd and 5th year in book 6). They’re funny and a bit reckless, could certainly be fun to write and they adore Harry. If there’s to be a major conflict in the Quidditch team between Harry and Ron, I could see them siding with Harry, the new Chaser with Ron, and Katie and Ginny would be torn and in the middle. Could get interesting.

So, conclusion: Harry will be the new Gryffindor captain and the question whether Ron will get to stay on the team or not will arise as a consequence of an important conflict between Harry and Ron.

Later on, the two friends will of course make up, solve their problems, reach an understanding and play a fabulous last game together. Ron will stay on the team until the end (whether the end of the books or his life is uncertain… :-))