Madam Puddifoot’s: Professor Trelawney’s Secret Crush
by Daniela Teo
I wrote this editorial pre-HBP, but post-HBP the conclusions remain the same. Professor Trelawney’s crush is still just as doomed, especially now that the man of her dreams has gotten together with someone else. The behavior of this special someone in HBP even towards someone that he likes remains consistent with his behavior towards Sibyll, although I think he was avoiding Sibyll with even more determination. Another character I discussed in this editorial, Lavender Brown, revealed in Half-Blood Prince the same inclinations I had supposed she possessed as early as Prisoner of Azkaban, and that are consistent with the style of the pendant she gave to Ron, “My Sweetheart.” Unfortunately, Lavender also showed in HBP the same lack of insight as in PoA. Enough introduction – on with the story.
Was it obvious to anyone out there like it was for me that Sibyll had a little crush in PoA? Upon detecting the signs of the crush and hunting down the clues of what may have happened behind the curtains, I had a joyous time putting together this little piece of omitted story. Why was it left out? I don’t know, but I’d really like to ask Rowling: did Trelawney have a crush on…?
Any good story has its helpers, and the helper of Trelawney’s failed love story was Lavender Brown. Remember that Lavender Brown was one of the two main faithful disciples of the old fraud? (How old is Sibyll anyway?) Her best friend, Parvati Patil, was also a fan of the diviner, but Lavender was the one who really stood out in her absolute worship of the one possessed of the inner eye. Anyway, these two girls took to hanging out with Trelawney up in the North Tower, and then they descended back among the students with superior looks on their faces. We can be sure they had lots of interesting conversations up there with the Professor, and I can just guess what those conversations were like. Basically, Lavender and Parvati would report what interesting things happened around Hogwarts or in their personal lives that went hand in hand with everything Trelawney ever predicted: “‘Ooooo!’ said Lavender suddenly, making everyone start. ‘Oooooo, Professor Trelawney, I’ve just remembered! You saw her leaving didn’t you? Didn’t you, Professor? ‘Around Easter, one of our number will leave us forever!’ You said it ages ago, Professor!” (299, PoA).
One day, a very interesting thing happened indeed, just the kind of thing that Lavender could go back and report to Trelawney so that they could exercise their inner eye together on it. Lavender attended a Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson with none other than the very cute (in my opinion), rather young, and gentle, Professor Remus J. Lupin. The lesson was on Boggarts, and Lupin’s boggart, yes, you remember correctly, was a crystal ball! (It depends which eye you use to look at it): “‘I wonder why Professor Lupin’s frightened of crystal balls?’ said Lavender thoughtfully” (140). Now, knowing Lavender like I do, she didn’t stop there with her query. I’m sure she took the search to a higher level, and brought it to the attention of her mentor, Ms. Sibyll, to find out what it truly meant, or rather, to verify her budding hypothesis about its meaning: Ooooooooooooo! Professor Trelawney, do you think there is a special connection between you and Professor Lupin? And imagine what a revelation that must have been for the poor, isolated, and – I’ll put my hand in the fire – single maid! The wild speculations. The secret hopes! The soul mate! I mean, look at the signs! Lupin is afraid of crystal balls. That can only mean one thing. He is unconsciously afraid of his female conqueror! And she can reach out to him and soothe his fears… She can teach him to trust the orb… Yep, you have to read the signs correctly. Had she seen with her external eyes that that was no crystal ball but a moon, she wouldn’t have gotten all her hopes up…
Did you wonder what was up with Trelawney’s sudden and untimely interest in crystal balls throughout PoA? “‘I thought we weren’t starting crystal balls until next term,’ Ron muttered […]” (296). And Trelawney: “‘I have decided to introduce the crystal ball a little earlier than I had planned. […] The fates have informed me that your examination in June will concern the Orb, and I am anxious to give you sufficient practice'” (296). Whence this sudden interest in the Orb? Indeed, the final exam that the third year divination students had to sit was in fact reading the crystal ball. That’s no coincidence. Professor Trelawney developed a bit of an unexpected obsession with the Orb and we know why…
On Christmas evening, Ms. Trelawney put on her very best dress, the better to entice loveable Lupin: “She had put on a green sequined dress in honor of the occasion, making her look more than ever like a glittering, oversized dragonfly” (228). She immediately began talking about crystal balls to Dumbledore, as if that were her divination instrument of choice: “‘I have been crystal gazing, Headmaster,’ said Professor Trelawney in her mistiest, most faraway voice, ‘and to my astonishment, I saw myself abandoning my solitary luncheon and coming to join you. Who am I to refuse the promptings of fate? I at once hastened from my tower, and I do beg you to forgive my lateness….'” (228). Now, what “promptings of fate” do you think Ms. Trelawney is really talking about? I’ll tell you. The promptings of Lupin’s crystal ball! The promptings of fated love!
Trelawney thought (or hoped) as she spoke to the Headmaster that Lupin was overhearing her talking about the crystal ball, and she was probably even trying to hint to him about the “promptings of fate” (wink, wink, Lupin, you are afraid of love, but it’s your destiny! When will you realize that that orb in your boggart is really supposed to lead you to me? Don’t be afraid of love! Stop resisting your fate! Follow my example! See how I have come, most willingly…). Trelawney had not yet had a good look at the people sitting around the table, and she obviously had one particular person in mind when she joined them: “Eyes open again, she looked around once more and said, ‘But where is dear Professor Lupin?'” (229; my emphasis). I’ll say, she’s searching Professor Lupin with her external eyes, if you know what I mean. Bad luck, Sibyl, you caught him on a werewolf day. Interesting choice of word there, though –dear. Where is my beloved Lupin? Where is the love of my life? Where is he hiding? Oh, I know she says “dear” all the time, but it sounds a bit different when applied to Lupin. I am betting that the only reason her Orb told her to join the Christmas party was because she thought Lupin was going to be there.
After Dumbledore gently lets her know that Lupin is ill, and McGonagall gives her some more sarcasm about her inner eye failure, Trelawney draws herself up and in a desperate attempt to regain her dignity reveals all the more how deep in it she is: “‘If you must know, Minerva, I have seen that poor Professor Lupin will not be with us for very long. He seems aware himself that his time is short. He positively fled when I offered to crystal gaze for him?'” / “‘Imagine that,’ said Professor McGonagall dryly” (229). Poor Trelawney, she couldn’t even finish her sentence. I bet it wasn’t because she got interrupted. I bet it was just too painful to remember. Lupin fleeing from her… not that she gave up on him. Trelawney tells us so much in this miniature tirade. First, she is aware that Lupin is “afraid” of something (except that something is not death as she thinks) and we know how she’s so aware. She heard it through the Lavender grapevine that Lupin’s boggart is a crystal ball. And Trelawney reveals to us also that she decided to take some action! She left her tower, and we know that was a very rare occurrence before Umbridge came to town, wandered down the corridors in the hopes of running into Lupin, and when that happy moment came she offered to crystal gaze for him! Who is she to resist the promptings of fate? I can hear her: Can I crystal gaze for you, dear Remus? You are welcome to come back to my Tower… Lupin positively fled. Alas! Notice that Trelawney didn’t offer to read his tea leaves or his palm (well, progressing to the palm may have been on her agenda). She offered to crystal gaze of all things… I know, dear Lupin, what your crystal ball boggart means. Come with me, and I’ll show you… Don’t be afraid now!
I’m sure McGonagall thinks she knows why Lupin fled (most would flee Trelawney, right?), but I don’t know that Minerva fully grasped what was going on there, although if she did, she was mean to poor Sibyll… I am sure Lupin sensed Trelawney’s crush with that extra sense people have for things they want to avoid… Poor Sibyll. Bad luck… I guess you’re not Lupin’s type. But don’t feel too bad; Remus even flees the women he loves… and if it’s any consolation, his woman, Tonks, has a special gift just like yours, and her gift too sometimes fails her… Plus, she seemed rather interested in your gift when she asked Harry “‘There isn’t any Seer blood in your family, is there?'” (482, OotP).
In conclusion, this little behind-the-curtains failed romance is what crystal gazing is all about. Don’t Madam Crystal Gazers specialize in love, relationships, and marriage? I’d say Lavender Brown played a bit the matchmaker in this story… She is ready to set up booth in Hogsmeade (how about next to Madam Puddifoot’s?). Her inner eye seems to be working wonders. She’ll just have to fine-tune her external eye a bit. Crystal ball, I tell you. In the movie, at least, that was quite obviously a moon, although perhaps it wasn’t as obvious in the book… Poor Sibyll Trelawney may never have gone through the disappointment of an unreturned crush had she not been led astray by Lavender’s wrong reading of the signs. This misreading, by the way, caused Lavender herself quite a bit of suffering in HBP, when she misinterpreted Ron’s impetuous actions as love signs.
Is there any love on Sibyll’s horizon? Is she meant to remain alone? Will that also be the fate of that other outcast, Luna (speaking of the orb), as bizarre an individual as Trelawney? Lupin, who was also an outcast, did find love… By the way, Luna and Lupin have the same nickname, “Loony,” at least for Peeves, who sings “‘Loony, loopy Lupin, Loony, loopy Lupin, loony, loopy Lupin'” (131, PoA) and “‘Potty lurves Loony! Potty luuuuurves Looooooony!'” (312, HBP) Trelawney didn’t pair up with Lupin, and Lupin didn’t pair up with Luna, but Trelawney and Luna did hit it off pretty well at Slughorn’s party. At least a friendship came out of all this confusion with the orb and the moon. Might Luna have Seer blood? When did Trelawney begin to improve? After she started competing with Firenze, or after she met Luna?