The Underground Lake #11: The Wheels Are in Motion – What Comes Next and What Came Before
It’s that time again, friends: time for me to spew (forgive me Hermione) forth my ideas about our friend Harrison P. First, as usual, let’s take care of old business.
I’m starting a new feature on my editorials called THE RHETORICAL QUESTION! Unbeknownst to you all, I have been using them all the time, and for the most part, everyone catches them. But on my last article, there was a rhetorical question that was answered time and time again: Why didn’t the chamber of secrets appear on the Marauder’s Map? Folks, I GET IT! I GOT IT THEN! I GET IT NOW! The reason I asked the question was that the goal of my column is this: in (hopefully) June of 2005, when we all have HBP in our hot little hands and are reading furiously to discover the answer to whatever riddle will be the subject of JKR’s next 500+ pages, we may come across Harry looking at a person on the map. Suddenly, this person will turn a corner and POOF! They vanish from the map. My hope is that because of my article, we all stop and say, “Okay, was he near Myrtle’s bathroom?” or “Was he near the third floor corridor?” Or, is he someplace we don’t know about?
I want to start planting seeds in your heads with my questions so that as we all read, we can try (probably hopelessly) to stay one step ahead of JKR and unravel this mystery. So, from now on when I write a rhetorical question, I will say so, so that I am not inundated with a hundred emails all telling me the same thing. NOW, I LOVE YOUR EMAILS! EVEN THE MEAN AND SILLY ONES! THOSE MAKE ME LAUGH! (My personal favorite was: “Harry can’t die because I don’t want him to!”) But your emails are so thought-provoking and crazy and keep me in check and are a fun way to pass the time, so by all means keep them coming! I just ask that you suppress the urge to answer any and all questions labeled RHETORICAL. Everything else, all other questions are fair game.
All of this blathering, however, was leading me to new business. The subject of this week’s rant is designed to get us ready and in position to try to stay ahead of Mister Harrison P. when we read book six. JKR’s universe is expanse and things are constantly happening that we, as readers and as Harry, are unaware of. I submit for your entertainment and consideration: THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION!
Unbeknownst to Us
As I have stated many times, my former favorite book of the series was Goblet of Fire. Now, it has certain flaws, namely the constant recapping of information from the last three books, which for the discerning reader, is unnecessary. But where this book succeeds is the fact that the plans – the brilliant plans – executed in this book were in place long before the pages began.
The true story of this book does not begin on page 1, but on page 16 of Prisoner of Azkaban. There we find out that Sirius Black has escaped from prison. This escape corresponds directly with the Weasley’s trip to Egypt. The escape of Sirius sets so many wheels in motion. Sirius’ escape leads to some strange behavior on the part of Scabbers. 300 pages later we discover that Scabbers is not Scabbers, but Peter Pettigrew – a man presumed dead for twelve years. In the midst of all this we receive a Prophecy (which I hope has been catalogued by now at the Department of Mysteries) from Professor Trelawney, heralding the return of our old buddy Voldemort. Pettigrew escapes, as does Black, and Harry goes home for the summer not realizing that the moment he had started school the previous year, the wheels were already in motion.
Unbeknownst to Harry, as well as us, while Harry sat bored out of his mind on Privet Drive waiting for the Quidditch World Cup (and prior to his dream), a plan began to come into play. I give you “The Return of Voldemort.”
This story does not start with Voldemort. It starts with Barty Crouch, Jr. Unbeknownst to most people in the magical world, Sirius Black was NOT the first person to escape from Azkaban. Barty Crouch, Jr., by his own admission, says that he was held prisoner in his father’s house for years (plural) under the Imperius Curse and an Invisibility cloak. One day, Bertha Jorkins stops by and hears Winky talking to Barty Crouch, Jr., puts two and two together and ends up on the wrong end of a Memory Modification charm. All this happened by my estimation a few years after Harry was orphaned. This estimation was found since Barty Crouch, Jr. says that he was in the house for years (meaning more than one) before Winky convinced Barty Crouch, Sr. to let him go to the Quidditch World Cup. Since the QWC is approximately ONE year after Sirius escaped from Azkaban, and BC Jr. had been free from Azkaban for more than one year prior to the QWC, he, therefore, escaped before Sirius did. Next we move to another key player, our loyal friend, Peter Pettigrew.After escaping Hogwarts at the end of Harry’s third year, Wormtail knew that he needed help. The only person he could turn to was Voldemort. So, he fled to where Voldemort was rumored to be hiding, with the aid of many rats that warned against a certain horrible place in the woods where many creatures died. But right before he found Voldemort, he got hungry and stopped at an inn. And who should he meet there but Bertha Jorkins, who thanks to Sirius, we know went to school with the Marauders and no doubt recognized him immediately. Wormtail leads her into the forest and overpowers her and brings her to the ailing Voldemort. With the aid of Peter Pettigrew, Voldemort is able to extract three important pieces of information: 1) the Tri-Wizard Tournament will be held at Hogwarts this year, 2) Barty Crouch, Jr. is alive and kicking and is being held captive by his father, and 3) Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody would be teaching the DADA this year at Hogwarts. Serving no more use, Bertha was summarily killed.
Wormtail and his new traveling companion head back to the Riddle House to temporarily set up shop as they wait for the QWC to be over so as to avoid being noticed. Meanwhile, at the QWC, unbeknownst to Harry, who is sitting in the top box peering through his Omnioculars at the Wronski Feint, a cloaked Barty Crouch, Jr. steals his wand and will later use it to summon the Dark Mark. Voldemort will find out about this later and torture the Death Eaters who were not loyal. Meanwhile, while evading the Dark Mark in the woods, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to duck 20 Stunning Spells as many adults and Ministry officials try to discover who summoned the Dark Mark. A stunning spell hits the cloaked Barty Crouch, Jr. Feeling around in the dark, Barty Crouch, Sr. feels his son’s body and tries to make sure no one discovers it. He summarily fires Winky because she failed at her one responsibility. The father and son return home presumably the next day.
In the few weeks that there was “Mayhem at the Ministry,” Wormtail and Voldemort realized that now was the time to put the final piece of their plan into play. Late one night, they arrived at the Crouch residence and let BC Jr. in on the most brilliant and deliberately planned scheme since the Kennedy assassination, which would require conspiracy, coordination, and patience. BC Jr., once free from his father, was to impersonate Moody and infiltrate Hogwarts. There he would devise a way to get Harry selected as a champion in the Triwizard Tournament. By aiding many unwitting accomplices (Dobby, Neville, Cedric, Hagrid, and McGonagall), Harry was to make it to the third task unscathed with a considerable head start. The Tri-Wizard Cup would then be turned into a Portkey that would transport Harrison P. right into the waiting clutches of the kidnap trap, the result of which… would be the return of Lord Voldemort.
How horrific it must have been for Barty Crouch, Sr. to be aroused at midnight, open the door to his home, and find the Dark Lord Voldemort standing there like Hamlet’s father. All that remained was the capture of Moody and a few Moody Impersonation Lessons and the plan was in motion. And Harry hasn’t even started school yet.
Longwinded? Yes! Pointless? NO! Why did I go through all that? To show you all that the wheels are constantly in motion! As early as Books One and Two, the conspiracy that led to the return of Voldemort was in play. But Harry and we were so concerned about the outcome of the Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch matches and Death Day parties and things like that, that we may have missed the signs. Granted, we knew nothing of Barty Crouch, Jr. or Sr. until Book Four. But what we must realize is that while we are immersed in the here and now of the book, we must always remember that there is an entire other storyline going on that we only get small little glimpses of. We need to start getting used to the fact that (hopefully) in June, when we get our hot little hands on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, that the machinations of our Villain-in-Chief may already have been in effect many books ago. Which leads me to…
The Chamber/Prince Connection
Before I start, I need to clear something up. I have received so many emails telling me that the key to Half-Blood Prince is in Chamber of Secrets. THIS IS FALSE! On JKR’s site, she says two things about this rumor:
1) ALL ELEMENTS OF THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE STORYLINE HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS.
2) THERE IS, HOWEVER, A LINK BETWEEN THE TWO BOOKS THAT HAS TO DO WITH A DISCOVER THAT HARRY MADE IN HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS.
To save us all a lot of time and energy, I went to find any and all discoveries made by Harry in Book Two. First, we must define what exactly a discovery is. According to the dictionary, a discovery is:
1. The action of discovering; exposure to view; laying open; showing; as, the discovery of a plot. 2. A making known; revelation; disclosure;
3. Finding out or ascertaining something previously unknown or unrecognized;
4. That which is discovered; a thing found out, or for the first time ascertained or recognized; as, the properties of the magnet were an important discovery.
5. Exploration; examination.
With that in mind, here is the short list of all the people, places, objects, secrets, and other things that Harry discovers in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
- House elves: what they are & what they can do
- The Weasley Ghoul (which has yet to play a significant role)
- Mr. Weasley’s obsession with all things relating to Muggles
- The Burrow!
- KNOCKTURN ALLEY – specifically Borgin and Burkes
- The Malfoy Family connection to Voldemort (Lucius owns some of Voldemort’s private things)
- Floo Powder and the Floo Network
- THE TRUE IDENTITY OF VOLDEMORT!!! (TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE)
- THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS!!! (LAIR OF SALAZAR SLYTHERIN AND HIS HEIRS)
- Mundungus Fletcher earns his first mention in this book and will be mentioned again in Goblet of Fire and gets a featured role in OotP.
- Gilderoy Lockhart
- Moaning Myrtle
- The Ford Anglia – still roaming the Forbidden Forest
- GHOSTS GALORE (The Death Day Party and the Headless Hunt)
- FILCH IS A SQUIB
- The politics of Pureblood/Muggleborn relations
- Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore is leader of the Headless Hunt (Could he be related to STURGIS PODMORE? Or is this another EVANS mishap?)
- The brief history of Hogwarts’ founding fathers… and mothers
- Colin Creevey is a Muggleborn
- Justin Finch-Fletchley is a Muggleborn
- THE HARRY/VOLDEMORT CONNECTION
- POLYJUICE POTION (IT’S NOT INTENDED FOR ANIMALS SO I DON’T KNOW WHERE PEOPLE ARE COMING UP WITH THIS FAWKES-POLYJUICE-POTION-GIVEN-TO-HARRY-AS-A-BABY THEORY)
- MARVOLO is Voldemort’s grandfather’s first name
- TOM is Voldemort’s father’s first name
- The reason for Hagrid’s expulsion
- Cornelius Fudge is the Minister of Magic, but can be bullied by Lucius Malfoy
- The Basilisk
- The Sword of Godric Gryffindor
- The first appearance of Azkaban
- HARRY’S “SAVING PEOPLE THING”
So much for a short list. Those are all the discoveries I found that Harry made in the second book. Many of these things have already come into play (Expelliarmus, the Harry/Voldemort Connection), but many of these things strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage only in Book Two, and I think any of these things are fair game. At this point it could be any of them, so I’ll leave the speculating up to you guys until JKR answers a few FAQs, the door opens again, or Book Six comes out, whichever comes first.
Before I draw this editorial to a close, I wanted to speculate on one little detail that ties into my previous point about the wheels constantly being in motion. And this has to do with Voldemort. When Voldemort rose in Goblet of Fire, he surveyed his Death Eaters and while telling the story of his miraculous return, he made a five-part promise of things to come – sort of a “Voldemort’s Mission Statement,” if you will. Here are the five things he said would come to pass after his return:
1. Azkaban would be broken into;
2. The LeStranges would be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams;
3. The Dementors would join Voldemort;
4. He would recall the banished giants;
5. He would create “an army of creatures whom all fear.”
Anybody else freaked out? That is the exact order of Voldemort’s promise, and the first four of the five all come to pass during Order of the Phoenix! Now my question (RHETORICAL) is: have we met these “creatures whom all fear” before? Is he simply referring to the teaming up of Giants and Dementors (cause that is pretty fear-worthy)? Or are these creatures like Aragog or more Basilisks? Or are they something new all together that may have some connection with the Half-Blood Prince? This is tricky business. So as we all dust off our copies of the first five books and furiously reread in search of clues, I entreat you all: CONSTANT VIGILANCE!! Remember that at all times THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION!!!