The Magic Quill #36: Forward and Back

by Robbie Fischer

Part One: Forward the Plot

With a loud pop, Harvey disapparated.

“Hang on,” cried Sadie, puffing out a cloud of acrid smoke. “You never told us anything about those things Rigel bought. Did he use them all on the way into Gringotts, or did they come in handy getting through the maze?”

“Yes,” said Merlin.

“What?” said Sadie. “Don’t leave a body hanging like that. You said you would tell us what Rigel bought from the black marketeer, at least.”

“Who? You mean Jude the Insecure? Oh, that comes in later. I’ll have you know it was a beast of some kind, but I don’t want to spoil it before I tell it.”

“Then tell!” Endora begged.

Merlin yawned loudly. “No, ladies, gents, I find that I’m really bushwhacked. Let’s all do as our good host suggested, and catch some winks. Till next time!”

There was a loud pop from Merlin’s corner of the table; though, as he was invisible, his disapparating made no apparent difference.

“But…but…” Sadie sputtered.

“How do you like that?” said Endora. “As if next time we won’t be busy enough, making plans!” Before another pop sounded from her corner, she was heard to mutter something about “wind bags.”

“Well!” said Sadie, turning toward Spanky and Joe, who had neither moved nor spoken since Harvey left. “I suppose I had better be running along, then, seeing as the last one out pays the bill.”

For the next few seconds, one in the corridor outside the parlor might have heard a general scuffling of chairs, gathering of cloaks, and muttering of charms as the remaining occupants raced to depart. At the end of it a man’s voice–let his owner go unnamed–might have been heard to say, “Rat intestines!” and dump a pile of coins on the table. And if the hearer happened to be a house-elf wearing a cleverly knotted linen napkin, it might have gone into the parlor afterward and exclaimed, “Alas! Someone is leaving a tip for Groggy! What kind of house-elf is they thinking Groggy is?” And at that, we withdraw from the scene…

Part Two: Back to the Riddles

Dear readers,

We put ourselves in a difficult position by “promising” to go back to the Hog’s Head in Column #36. Naturally, all the feedback from #34 and #35 was to suggest, or ask for, answers to the riddles, rather than suggesting where to go with the story. So this week we have had to do a little of both. Here is a LITTLE help we can offer on the twenty riddles from the last two weeks, and some of that help comes from readers like you!

Riddle #1: The answer is something Harry heard as a result of the way dementors effected him.

Riddle #2: The person at the other end of the wandless magic was Uncle Vernon when Harry did it, and Umbridge when Dumbledore did it.

Riddle #3: Hagrid’s possible successor was first seen handling a creature that got Hagrid into big trouble at about the same age.

Riddle #4: I’ll give this one away, just so I can share the fun with you all. I just can’t help giggling when Hagrid says: “She’s somethin’ when she’s roused, Olympe…Fiery, yeh know…’spect it’s the French in her…”

Riddle #5: I’m not telling. I still haven’t heard from anyone who has guessed right. To save you guessing the same wrong answers that others have tried, I will say that the creature Rigel bought is neither a niffler nor a minotaur.

Riddle #6: Hermione’s broken promise was made to Ernie McMillan.

Riddle #7: OK, why didn’t Harry wonder why his scar didn’t hurt him particularly when he “saw” Voldemort putting the hurt on Sirius? On past occasions when Harry “saw” Voldemort torturing someone, Harry felt like his head was going to burst open. When he “saw” Sirius being crucioed, he only felt a vague prickling in his scar. If he had stopped to think, he should have realized that Voldemort was playing a trick on him.

Riddle #8: I meant the way Umbridge took umbrage to Dumbledore’s insinuation that somebody from the Ministry had set the dementors on Harry. It’s the very first thing she says, and on every re-read I have become more convinced that her reaction betrays her guilty conscience.

Riddle #9: The most insincere thing the bizarro-Moody said was: “Not nice…not pleasant…” (after strangely seeming to get a kick out of performing the unforgivable curses in front of his students).

Riddle #10: Who is the “one more murder” Voldemort spoke of at the beginning ofGoblet of Fire? I’m still stumped. One reader suggested the intended victim was Winky the House-Elf, just to keep her out of the way, but she was fortuitously fired by Mr. Crouch so her life was spared. I find it hard to believe that a dirty great supporter of “blood purity” would reckon a house-elf’s death as “murder.” Another reader said he thought “one more murder” referred to Cedric Diggory, and that You Know Who’s poetic turn of phrase meant he was reciting a prophecy at that point. I wasn’t much convinced. If Y.K.W. is prophesying, he could as easily mean Frank Bryce or Mr. Crouch, who were the next murder victims on Voldemort’s road to recovery (and they’re already more than one). And to the objection that Mr. Crouch was killed by Crouch Jr. & not Voledmort, you could just as easily object that Cedric was killed by Wormtail and not Voldemort, so it’s six of one, half-dozen of the other. I take it Bertha was already dead, and that the Frank Bryce and Cedric Diggory murders weren’t planned, and that Y.K.W. needed both Moody and Crouch alive (but under the Imperius curse) for the time being, and Winky was too unimportant to be considered, so who did that leave? Is this a plot hole, a hanging stitch from the first draft that JKR forgot to unpick? Or is it a clue to something we have yet to find out?

Riddle #11: How do so few teachers teach so many classes? Some readers have helpfully pointed out that classes can be taught to more than one house at a time, such as Harry’s “Herbology with the Hufflepuffs” and joint Potions and Care of Magical Creatures classes with the Slytherins. This is only a partial solution to the problem. I take it these are the only classes Harry takes with members of another house; at least, they are consistently the only ones in which JKR mentions another house joining the Gryffindors. Maybe Ron hints at a solution when he suggests having Peeves “smash up the Transfiguration department.” A “department,” as opposed to a single classroom, suggests that there is more than one Transfiguration instructor–but the story-line only makes mention of those teachers who personally instruct Harry.

Riddle #12: What gives with the electives? Do only Gryffindors take Divination, and Slytherins and Gryffindors take Care of Magical Creatures? Surely everyone doesn’t take the same electives! Maybe part of it is that certain houses tend to lean toward certain electives, such as all the Gryffindors (minus Hermione) “bravely facing the inevitable” in Divination, and perhaps all the Ravenclaws (plus Hermione) studying Arithmancy and Magic Runes. I suppose there would be a lot of Hufflepuffs in Muggle Studies (which sounds like an easy “O”). I wonder what other electives there are, and whether whole classes tend to come from one or two houses. What’s really odd is that Seamus picked his electives at random, Ron picked ones that sounded easy, and Harry just picked ones where he could be with Ron, so how did they end up in the same classes? What are the chances of that?

Riddle #13: Has anyone thought of having reserve players on the house teams? Yes, apparently they have, for in Harry’s first year, Lee Jordan declares that Alicia Spinnet was only a reservist the previous year. I wonder why they don’t have a whole line-up in reserve, at least to practice with!

Riddle #14: Who does the laundry? I still don’t know who actually does it, but the reason Hermione didn’t meet any house-elves in the school laundry is, obviously, that one has to be careful not to give house-elves clothes.

Riddle #15: Did Ginny give Harry unsound advice? She said that if he could remember what happened afterward, then he hasn’t been possessed by Lord Voldemort. But then Lord Voldemort DID possess Harry, at the end of his duel with Dumbledore in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic. And Harry seems to have been fully aware of what was going on. Now the riddle is, was this actually possession, or was it something else?

Riddle #16: I think this one is pretty easy. At the beginning of Order of the Phoenix, Sir Nicholas sniffs: “Terrified? I hope I…have never been guilty of cowardice in my life!” Yet at the end, he confesses to Harry that he became a ghost because he was afraid of death. Still, I’m not sure Nick’s reason for becoming a ghost is the only one. Remember how Moaning Myrtle came back because she wanted to avenge herself on Olive Hornby, and she was generally dissatisfied with life.

Riddle #17: The wand effect that showed that spells have some solidity to them happened when Harry and Malfoy tried to curse each other at the same time. The spells ricocheted off each other and hit Goyle and Hermione instead. It was this effect that later enabled Harry to hold off Y.K.W.’s death curse at the end of Goblet of Fire. I’m sure there are other examples, such as the breezy feeling Harry experiences when a memory charm passes close to him, etc.

Riddle #18: Discuss amongst yourselves.

Riddle #19: Ditto.

Riddle #20: Thanks to reader Brian S., who pointed out that J.K.R. once said in a magazine interview that one of the uses of dragon’s blood is a highly effective oven cleaner.

What happens next? Send us your idea in 150 words or less, and tune in next week for another installment of the Magic Quill.