Subject: re: 5.17 Lord Harry Potter and the Montage of Flashbacks (possible big spoiler at end)
Posted on: 2024-05-21 00:09:24 UTC

Oh, Lily was actually sponsored by the Prince family? Interesting detail; that probably made it all the worse for her when Severina started spiraling into bad places, and frankly, worse places than Severus did. I had forgotten about the Mary Macdonald incident from canon, but it definitely feels like the event was significantly worse in this timeline. Severina has a LOT to atone for, so I can see why she wanted to be Harry’s Occlumency teacher, although I’m somehow more frustrated with her efforts than Severus’s, despite the similar structure. I have a feeling Liu is giving Draco a bit more actual instruction than just, “I’m going to pew pew your brain, try and stop me!” Like, both Harry and Severina acknowledge that Harry is starting with less experience than he should, so maybe some actual teaching would be helpful here? I was, however, amused that Harry’s surface-level thoughts are basically, “Oops, All Boyfriend.” Don’t do puberty, kids, those hormones will really get you! (Oh, and speaking of Liu, I am in deep love with him and Jenni distributing contraband books to Hogwarts students, partly because it's such a glorious concept on its nose, partly because it’s in direct defiance of Umbridge, and partly because the unpublished book I’m reading through for Rosie right now features characters distributing contraband books! “If I had a nickel for every . . .”)

But speaking of Umbridge, we’ve had a lovely break from her, but she’s back on the page now, and Hogwarts is feeling bleak. Banning children from hugging or holding hands is not psychologically healthy in any way! And Hermione is losing it. While there’s a degree of fun in seeing her start rebelling against the system of rules and discipline she normally honors, it’s also a bit worrying to see her change so much. I understand why she went to Polixenes to expose the situation with the vassal bonds, but oh boy, she may have just handed Silverstream the win for Minister there. Nothing to do but watch what happens . . .

With Umbridge’s weird reaction to Professor Babbling’s wardstone dating project (which sounds extremely fun and cool, by the way, would read a whole story about that), I can actually buy that “conspiracy theory” about Binns being kept as a history teacher because his poor delivery makes the students less likely to question the Ministry’s actions and beliefs. The detail about Babbling’s long lifespan is intriguing. I doubt she’s a ghost; it feels more likely, considering what she teaches, that she did something involving runes that preserved some imprint of herself in the room that’s able to linger and interact with people beyond her own death. She might be something like the “shades” produced from the Resurrection Stone, and keeps the lighting low so people can’t tell that her colors are “washed out.” Although if she’s been physically accompanying Draco into the Chamber of Secrets, I suppose that annihilates that theory!

I’ll have you know, when I read Draco criticizing the “plebian cheese sandwiches,” I was having a perfectly filling clearance pizza crust with mozzarella melted all over it. There was no need for Draco to insult my very normal adult meal like that! (That wasn’t my whole dinner, of course. I had gummy bears, too.)

(For anyone other than Lily reading, I do recommend butting out now, because I think I’m about to accurately identify Lady Polixenes at the end of this paragraph. You have been warned!) That really is a top-quality little essay that Polixenes published at the end of this chapter. Very engaging, very swaying, I agree wholeheartedly. I wonder if Polixenes always rights essays of such quality for schoolwork, because they’re not exactly known for their academic performance. Maybe it’s just a matter of the right motivation? Let’s look at our list of clues so far:
-Polixenes feels no duty to uphold Pureblood or Circle social mores
-Polixenes chafes under Umbridge’s authority
-Polixenes has access to all kinds of gossip from around the school
-Polixenes is familiar with Muggle literature, specifically 1984
-Polixenes may be using the title “Lady” partly to obfuscate their actual gender identity
The last point is pure supposition on Ron’s part, and doesn’t eliminate anyone out of the students or staff. The first two points are also very broad, especially since the Inquisitorial Squad appears to be anonymous in this timeline. The third point is a bit of a null data point, since we have no idea who Fred and George have given or sold extendable ears to at this point, so just about any students could be abusing one of those (except Harry, since his status as the point-of-view character means we-the-reader know he hasn’t been spending time on an illicit printing press. The most unique thing we know is 1984. There are, of course, plenty of Muggleborn and Half-Blood students who may have encountered Muggle literature at home&mdas;heck, Draco probably isn’t the only Pureblood who’s been sneaking some himself! However, there’s only one character who’s been explicitly stated to be reading 1984, isn’t there? Or rather, a pair of characters, and one of them even quoted from it this very chapter (after I had arrived at this conclusion, for the record!). So, let’s reexamine our list:
-the Weasley family had their social status and wealth taken away due to Circle of Avalon politics
-the twins chafe under most authority, really, and were famously, militantly opposed to Umbridge in canon
-the twins are themselves the supply of extendable ears, and have the most access to the product
-the twins were reading 1984 this year, and George quoted “wrongthink thoughtcrime” in conversation this chapter
-Not only was Ron right about “Lady” being a misleading title in the publications, but so was the pronoun “I.” What better way for a pair of male authors to hide their identities than to present themselves as a single woman?
Lady Polixenes is actually Fred and George Weasley! (And if I’m wrong this time, I’m truly giving up.)

—doctorlit still finds the existence of Babbling Beverage to be one of the weirder inventions in the Wizarding World

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