Subject: re: 5.15 Ronald Weasley and the Unnervingly Cutthroat Family Game Night
Posted on: 2024-05-11 14:44:09 UTC

Oh dear, I’m falling behind! Sorry, it was an unusually busy week and weekend last week, and I haven’t had much free time until Thursday morning this week.

So, we have our first Ron-narrated chapter! And the Weasley family dynamics aren’t quite so funny or positive when they’re not presented through canon!Harry’s envious orphan eyes. It feels weird to hear that Molly and Arthur are “having too many arguments,” but I guess it was easier for the canon Weasleys to just always be poor than the Avalon versions to have wealth stripped from them. Speaking of which, what did the Ministry visitor mean when he said, “the house will not allow the Weasley wardstone to move”? Were they straight-up trying to force the Burrow to move so the Ministry could seize the ancestral land? That feels so beyond the pale as a way of paying back debt . . . Throughout this whole chapter, especially the “Then” sections, I kept waffling back forth on being frustrated with Ron for being a spoiled brat, and sympathizing with his feelings. I get how he can feel like nothing is really his, that he’s only ever the recipient of hand-me-downs. But at the same time, his parents can’t just make money from nothing, the Burrow has what it has, and Ron isn’t the only one in the family who needs things. It was also interesting seeing Percy being sincerely supportive towards Ron, even though it was couched in gross terms of becoming superior to their own family. But he really did seem to want Ron to get to bring a pet for company, and to keep Ron safe at Hogwarts, so it’s still a rather sweet moment. (It’s also wild to see how things line up in just the right way. If Percy hadn’t shown Ron this moment of kindness, Pettigrew may not have been captured when he was, and could have remained free to reveal himself and strike at Lily when the chance presented itself. And if Ron had gotten his own wand like he wanted, Lockhart’s attack in year two would have been successful, and Ron and Harry would be the ones in the Janus Thickey Ward now!) I also like the detail that the Weasleys have grown to be natural Occlumencers, just by virtue of needing the mental privacy (poor Ginny!). It makes for a nice turnaround from canon, where Occlumency is so rare, and only associated with extremely powerful mages. Ron should make a much better teacher for Harry than Snape/Prince!

Interesting. The flashback in the previous chapter showed Prince and Lily as students, with Price pointing out that actual snake venom can’t envenomate through ingestion, only within the bloodstream. But Lily in the present is rescued through Runespoor antivenom, even though she ate the poison. This tells me that either A: this was all planned in advance, and Prince essentially gave Heiress Avery a useless poison, which Lily faked symptoms for to cover Prince’s betrayal, with Love carrying antivenom on hand to provide an explanation for the “recovery,” or B: I’m supremely overthinking this, and Prince’s poison is just so chemically similar to actual Runespoor venom that the antivenom had enough effect to keep Lily alive until better medical response became available. The first option may be debunked by Harry’s Bond nightmare, but Lily may have faked that too, to provide better cover for the ruse, especially after Sirius told her that Harry had found out about the plan? Incidentally, I had never really looked up Runespoors themselves before I read this chapter. It seems Mrs. Rowling wrote them as having three heads with different personalities (planning, imagining and criticism), which some folks interpret as a metaphor for creative writing. Some Runespoors bite off the “inner critic” head in frustration if they get tired of hearing it complain. Interesting that Mrs. Rowling would have this mental concept of violently cutting off all manner of listening to criticism, isn’t it?

Ew, no, Lockhart, I didn’t need to see him again! Having his personal memories wiped is no excuse for him to be hitting on underage witches! But also, wow, am I deeply terrified of these dreams he’s having! Is that “dark-haired witch” Bellatrix? What use could she possibly have for a mind-wiped Half-Blood? You’re scaring me, Lily, I am scared!

Are you telling me that my boy Neville is mad at Harry for hugging Qiu when she is sad? That is the thing you do with sad people, Neville, you hug them! I dislike the feeling of physical contact, and even I understand this! I was just hugging a crying coworker last week! But because Wizarding society is SO MESSED UP, my good man Neville Longbottom is here tearing into Harry for providing emotional comfort, like a normal human being should in that situation. Somebody had to hug her, her gutter trash “best” friend Marietta clearly isn’t going to do it, but no, don’t hug the crying girl, Harry, you might accidentally marry her because magic!

Okay, Narcissa Malfoy was the last character I expected to witness, not only attending a family board game night, but crushing said board game night? Like, I didn’t even picture her participating, and here she comes just like, demolishing everyone? And “Father said that Mother’s tactics weren’t suitable for polite company” is a sentence that contains a shocking amount of threatening energy, considering it’s referring to chess! It’s a shame the Purebloods don’t interact with Muggle culture, because I bet Narcissa would be a sight to see playing Cluedo . . . I love Arthur and Lucius just being openly hostile against each other in front of everyone, culminating in the two of them degenerating into Three Stooges physics by the end. I thought I was getting the general idea of your rules for Pendragon castle (basically a geography game tracking through a mental map of the UK?), but then you started throwing in the Monty Python and the Holy Grail locations and broke my brain. Purebloods like the Malfoys would never stoop to watching Muggle film, so this isn’t a case of the Wizarding World accepting the Monty Python film as canon to Arthurian legend, already a weird enough sentence to type. But no, what you’re actually implying is that at least one of the Pythons is a wizard and snuck actual magical locations into the movie. Why are you doing this to me, Lily? I have to think about this all day now, Lily! I don’t really play chess, but that match at the end of the chapter was pretty intense! I love how you wrote that Lucius was on the verge of backing Ron into the final plays of the game, but then had all the teasing about Draco’s future got under Lucius’s skin and made him start playing overly defensively, giving up victory for the sake of protecting a piece other than his king. I know your ending note said there’s some foreshadowing about the final two years hidden in the chess moves, but I don’t think I’m smart enough to work any of that out. I am, however, smart enough to see a metaphor for how the canon version of Narcissa cost Voldemort his victory by prioritizing her son’s safety, which is pretty keen!

“She eats Gurydroots; she’ll eat pickles, too.”

. . . said Malfoy, his eyes already glittering in the way it did when he . . .
The way they did

New word: pianoforte, though that’s just extra letters for “piano!”

—doctorlit somehow had it in his head that Regulus was older than Sirius until this chapter; he isn’t sure how he got that impression

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