POSTS TO HPFGU
2002-2003
     
       
       

Weekly Archive
February 9, 2003 - February 15, 2003

RE: TBAY: All these kids with Inv. cloaks

"Oooh, pop tarts!"

Cindy, Melody and Elkins turned to see Risti framed in the doorway of the Safe House's kitchen, her broom in one hand, floating a shiny new canon behind her.

"I--" Elkins began, but Risti seemed utterly distracted by the strawberry pop tart she was snarfing down with the single-minded concentration of the truly famished.

"Mwhorry," mumbled Risti, her mouth filled with crumbs. She swallowed. "I suppose I should introduce myself again. Risti's the name, and while it's been awhile, I think I have met all of you at least once around the bay."

"I should say so!" exclaimed Elkins. "As if I'm ever likely to forget the stern yet loyal First Mate Risti, who reprimanded me for speaking disrespectfully to Captain Veronica of the Imperio'd!Arthur Trimaran and then actually put me off the ship when I—"

The others were all staring blankly at her.

"Oh." Elkins blinked. "Oh, blast," she sighed. "That's right. I never actually posted that one, did I? I came down with bronchitis, and by the time that I'd recovered, the thread was hopelessly ancient. Oh, well." She smiled apologetically at Risti. "Never mind then. Perhaps we'd best just pretend it never happened. As indeed, I guess that it, er, well, didn't. Really."

"Err...yes, all right," said Risti, now looking quite confused.

"What's that canon you've got there?" asked Cindy.

"Well, you did say earlier that you didn't think real Moody had a cloak, right?" asked Risti, with an apologetic smile.

"I seem to recall saying that," Cindy said slowly.

"Mmmm-hmmmm." Risti bent down and lit her canon with a barely suppressed air of triumph.

GOF, Veritserum, p591, Canadian Hardcover

...Dumbledore closed the trunk, placed a second key in the second lock, and opened the trunk again. The spellbooks had vanished; this time it contained an assortment of broken Sneakoscopes, some parchment and quills, and what looked like a silvery Invisibility Cloak.

"Risti's right," said Elkins, nodding. "There is just no way that Barty would have had the time to get that Cloak back in the trunk. He was wearing an Invisibility Cloak during the Third Task. He used it to skulk about taking out the other champions, trying to leave a clear field for Harry. And then he was right there on the scene when Harry reappeared. I can't really imagine that he would have gone back to his office while Harry was in the Graveyard, can you? Gone back to his office, put his Invisibility Cloak back in his trunk, maybe had a nice cup of tea, and then bolted back down to the maze? It wouldn't make any sense at all."

"So he must have had two Cloaks!" cried Cindy. "The one that he actually used, which was probably his father's, the same one that he'd spent all that time being forced to wear while he was a captive, and Real!Moody's, which he left in the trunk."

"Or vice versa," agreed Risti, smiling. "He used Moody's Cloak and left his father's hidden safely away in the trunk."

"The latter would make more sense, I think," said Elkins. "Invisibility Cloaks might well be distinguishable from each other. After finding Harry's Invisibility Cloak at the foot of the willow in PoA, Snape makes it clear that he knows that it's Harry's. He doesn't suspect that it's Sirius Black's, for example. That could be just because Snape's no dolt, or it could be because Dumbledore's been filling him in, but it's also possible that he recognized the thing as having once belonged to James. At any rate, if anyone had ever noticed that "Moody" had Crouch's Invisibility Cloak, that would have been a giveaway. So he probably used Moody's, and kept his father's hidden away in the trunk with all of the other things that he couldn't afford ever to allow anyone to see. Like, er, well, like Moody himself, for example."

"But where did he put the Invisibility Cloak that he was wearing during the Third Task?" asked Melody. "What ever happened to it?"

There was a long silence. At length, Elkins coughed, a cough that sounded suspiciously like ::coughflintcough::. Cindy glared at her and elbowed her hard in the ribs.

"Not fair play," she hissed. "Even worse than that 'narrative invisibility' nonsense."

"Oh, all right," sighed Elkins. "So how's this? He put it in exactly the same place that he put the Marauder's Map! Ow!" she complained, as Cindy elbowed her again. "Geez! What was that for?"

"Anyway," said Melody. "It still supports the idea that one of James' parents might have been in the DMLE, because we're still looking at a situation in which only Law Enforcement people ever seem to own Invisibility Cloaks. It's not just money or prestige. The Malfoys don't seem to have one."

"Not necessarily." Risti smiled. "Remember what Cindy said? I believe she said something along the lines that no sane parent up and gives something like an Invisibility Cloak to a teenage boy. Think about it. If you were Lucius, and had a son like Draco, would you even mention that an invisibility cloak existed in your house?"

Melody chuckled. "I see your point."

"Oh, I think he might," said Elkins.

They all looked at her.

"Well, he's willing to take his son in with him to Knockturn Alley, isn't he? He's willing to have Draco trailing along with him while he itemizes all the nasty items he's arranging to sell to Mr. Borgin. He's willing even to let Draco know where he keeps his secret stash of Dark items:

'Father's got some very valuable Dark Arts stuff. But luckily, we've got our own secret chamber under the drawing-room floor -'

"So I think that if Lucius owned an Invisibility Cloak," Elkins concluded. "Draco likely would know about it. Of course," she shrugged. "That doesn't mean it would necessarily ever have come up in the books. And I'm certain that Lucius would never allow Draco to take such an item to school with him. But he likely would still know about it, if his father owned one."

"So we've proven...nothing, in other words," sighed Cindy.

"Nope. Not a thing. Except that people in the DMLE do seem often to have Invisibility Cloaks, while other people...err...well, might or might not have them. Still." Elkins shrugged again. "The coffee's good."

---------

Elkins, always glad to see Risti around and about

Posted February 09, 2003 at 12:31 am
Topics: , ,
Plain text version

 

RE: TBAY: Screw-up!Crouches With Invisibility


"Hi, guys," said Elkins, sauntering through the door to the kitchen of the Safe House. Melody, Cindy and Risti all stared at her. "What's up? Cindy, why did Pippin just tell me that you're an imposter? And why on earth are there two of me out there playing on the swings? I don't even like swings! They make me feel all dizzy and sick and...oooooh, is that coffee?"

"You're just another spy, aren't you," demanded Cindy suspiciously.

"'Another spy?' Thanks, Sneaky." Elkins accepted a cup of coffee and settled herself into a chair. "What, have you guys been playing around with that new Persil Automatic or something? I thought this was an Invisibility Cloak discussion."

"You have a letter from Tom," Risti told her.

"A letter from Tom?" Elkins asked. "Let me see!"

Risti handed her the letter. Elkins glanced down at it, nodded once to herself, pulled a blue pencil out of one pocket, and then stopped, frowning.

"Oh," she said.

"What?"

"Oh. Well, I was about to explain to Tom that the other Elkins' inference that Barty must have actually entered the maze probably derived from all of the things that he had done. Removed all those obstacles. Taken out monsters. It's always seemed implausible to me that he really could have done all of that from the perimeter, because it seems to me that it would require not only being able to cast spells through the shrubbery, but also around corners, which I don't believe is possible. I've therefore always assumed that he must have slipped into the maze itself at some point during the proceedings. But."

"But?"

"But. I've just remembered that he actually tells Harry that he did it all from the perimeter. In Chapter Thirty-five. Page 677, in my edition:

'I was patrolling around it, able to see through the outer hedges, able to curse many obstacles out of your way. I stunned Fleur Delacour as she passed. I put the Imperius Curse on Krum, so that he would finish Diggory and leave your path to the cup clear.'

Elkins shrugged. "So I guess he really didn't enter the maze. Had he done so, he would have bragged about it. It still seems weird to me, I must say, but I guess it's the truth. So okay. There's no need for a second Invisibility cloak. Point conceded." She sat back in her chair and sipped contentedly at her coffee.

Cindy threw her a look of weary disgust. "You really don't have even a shred of True Wizarding Pride. Do you, Elkins?"

"Nope," said Elkins happily.

Risti stirred some milk into her second cup of coffee. "I had no idea invisibility cloaks could be so interesting. We hardly ever talk about them."

"Yeah," Elkins agreed, "but you know, those other Elkinses out there filled me in, and I'm really not sure you've really gone anywhere with this."

"We have so!" Cindy exclaimed. "See, once we know that law enforcement wizards are more likely to have invisibility cloaks, we can have all manner of fun. Let's go back to this idea that Mrs. Longbottom stunned Neville and concealed him under Frank's invisibility cloak the night the Pensieve Four burst into their home..."

"But Cindy," objected Elkins gently. "What we've determined here isn't that law enforcement wizards are more likely to have Invisibility Cloaks. In fact, what we've determined is precisely the reverse."

Cindy frowned.

"Well, think about it," said Elkins. "If Crouch Jr. only had one Invisibility Cloak, rather than two of them, then the cloak in question was probably his father's, because that's the one that we know for sure does exist. The Crouch family had an Invisibility Cloak. That's canon. So there's really no need at all for Moody to have had one as well. And if Moody didn't have one, then why on earth would you assume that Frank Longbottom had one? After all, Frank was an Auror, just like Moody was. Crouch, on the other hand, was the Head of the DMLE. So if there's no second cloak, then that makes it less likely that Frank Longbottom had one in his house. Not more."

"Well," began Cindy. "Moody was a retired Auror..."

"Yeah. And Crouch was a retired Head of the DMLE. Yet he still had an Invisibility Cloak. So." Elkins shrugged and took another sip of her coffee.

"But what does that do to my theory about James' Invisibility Cloak?" wailed Melody.

"Oh, your theory can still hold," Elkins reassured her. "You just have to assume that James' father was once someone really important. Not just an Auror. Something more like the Head of the DMLE."

"I think that was where we came in, actually," said Melody. "Wasn't that my original speculation?"

"Was it? Oh, well, in that case you're fine. This entire Mrs.-Longbottom-hid-Neville-with-Frank's-Invisibility-Cloak speculation, though?" Elkins shook her head sadly. "Getting less plausible by the minute, I'm afraid. Where do you guys keep your yellow flags?"

"Yeah, well you know what?" Cindy snarled. "I think that you're an imposter too!"

"There's an easy way to find out," pointed out Eileen from the doorway. Everybody jumped.

"Are you the real Eileen?" asked Risti politely. "Or are you an imposter? Just so we know."

"If I were an imposter, I'd hardly tell you, would I?" Eileen turned to Elkins. "Elkins," she said. "Neville was in the house the night his parents were tortured, but his mother saved him by throwing an Invisibility Cloak over him and then Stunning him. Yes or no?"

"No," Elkins replied instantly, stroking Coney, who had just jumped into her lap. "There would be absolutely no dramatic point to having him be there at all if he did not actually witness the event. Either he was there, in which case we're looking at a Memory Charmed Neville scenario of one sort of another, or he was not there, in which case we're left with Faith's reading. But why on earth would JKR have him be there, yet unconscious and oblivious? I mean, really! What on earth would be the point? Where's the opportunity for a Bang?"

Eileen nodded with satisfaction.

"Right," she said. "Okay, second speculation. Neville was in the house that night, but his mother saved him by throwing an Invisibility Cloak over him and then body binding him. Yes or no?"

Elkins thought about it.

"Well," she said, at length. "That one does have possibilities. Not only does it allow Neville to be a witness, but it also accounts for his expression of utter horror when Hermione body-binds him at the end of PS/SS, as well as for the fact that when he is then rewarded for being victimized in this fashion, he does not look pleased, but instead 'white with shock.' Also, it carries on that good old JKR tradition of nameless martyr mothers sacrificing themselves for their sons."

She took another sip of coffee.

"So that one's not as bad," she concluded. "But it still has that Yellow Flag Invisibility Cloak problem. Also, I myself rather prefer the speculation that if anyone did such a thing, then it was Barty Jr. The text does seem to suggest some sort of bond between them. Neville and Junior react strangely to each other all the way through GoF. Barty's interested in Neville from the very start. Neville volunteers the name of the dread Cruciatus Curse in DADA class, which seems strangely out of character for him. He seems simultaneously terrified of Moody and intrigued by him. A mystic bond between the two might account for some of that. And besides," she adds, after a moment's thought. "It's blackly ironic. And you know how much I like that sort of thing."

"Now, that one's really Elkins," Eileen told the room.

"Oh, bother," sighed Elkins.

"What? What's wrong? Didn't you want to be really you?"

"No, no, no. It's not that. It's just that...well, it's just that now I'm finding that Mrs. Longbottom Does A Body-bind scenario rather plausible. It really is a lot more thematically consistent with the series as a whole than the Barty Jr. version, you know." She frowned down at Coney, then shoved it roughly off of her lap. The bunny hopped away across the kitchen, looking indignant.

"You're right," said Cindy smugly. "That really is Elkins."

"Thematic consistency," snorted Eileen. "What about some plot consistency, eh? Weren't you just arguing a few minutes ago, Elkins, that the fact that Barty Jr. had only one cloak made it seem implausible that the Longbottoms had an Invisibility Cloak at all?"

"What do you do, Eileen?" asked Melody. "Listen at doors?"

"This is Theory Bay." Eileen pointed out. "There are no private conversations. So. Barty Jr. was using his father's Invisibility Cloak. There's no indication that either Longbottom or Moody owned one. If there were an Invisibility Cloak involved in the Longbottom Incident, it makes the most sense to assume that the Cloak in question was the one that we already know to exist in canon. And that one belonged to the Crouch family."

"So we're back to Barty Jr." agreed Elkins, looking considerably cheered.

"It makes a lot more sense than risking a Yellow Flag by inventing some Longbottom invisibility cloak out of thin air," said Eileen. "It also serves to answer yet another one of those canon mysteries: on what evidence was Barty Jr. convicted? There must have been something else to convict Barty Jr. on than the testimony of the other Death Eaters. No matter what Elkins says, I can't see Crouch Sr. allowing that. Any Death Eater could finger a family member and he'd cart them off to Azkaban? There must have been some other evidence that disposed him against his son. It couldn't have been the Longbottoms' testimony, because if it was, I doubt Dumbledore would have expressed doubt about Barty Jr's innocence.

"No," she concluded triumphantly. "I say it was finding his own invisibility cloak there in the wreckage of the living room. Here, pass me a poptart!"

"One toaster pastry for Sly Eileen," chuckled Elkins, passing her one. "Really, now, Eileen! You can't honestly imagine that I don't see exactly what you're up to here, can you? You just want to find a way to make Crouch Sr. keeping his son under that Invisibility Cloak for all those years some kind of twisted ironic punishment, rather than either a means of trying to break the lad's spirit, or proof that he couldn't even stand to look at that faulty mirror that was his son. Can't say that I blame you all that much. After all," she snickered. "It is rather an impediment to that 'Barty Sr. talked to his son' theory of yours, isn't it? That pesky yet irreproachably canonical detail of the worn-night-and-day Invisibility Cloak? Hmmmm?"

Eileen looked quickly away. "I don't know what you mean," she muttered.

"Uh-huh." Elkins leaned back in her chair. "Right. Oh, well, that's okay. I don't really need the Cloak, you know. I've got plenty of other canons to shoot down that theory of yours -- although maybe we should take that outside. No, I'm happy to go for The Invisibility Cloak Left Behind At The Scene Of The Crime."

"You are? Really?"

"Yeah, sure. Why not? Especially since it makes it even more necessary for Crouch Sr. to have needed to preside over that Kangaroo Court, and for precisely the usual reason. Same old same old. Same reason he's usually doing things. Self-protection. Self-preservation. Self-interest. Covering himself. Because really, if it was his cloak that was found at the scene of the crime, then who, aside from his son, would have been a prime suspect, do you think?"

"Elkins!" objected Eileen. "Crouch was well-respected and—"

"The crowd shook their fists at him during Bagman's trial."

"But why would Crouch have gone for one of his own Aurors?" asked Melody.

"Well," said Elkins thoughtfully. "Off-hand, I can think of about five marvellously slanderous and conspiratorial ways to explain why Crouch might have wanted to torture very popular Frank Longbottom and his wife into insanity. But it really doesn't matter, does it? I'm not saying that he really did. Only that if I can think of ways to spin it that way, then surely Crouch's political enemies could have done the same. And I think there were probably a good number of people who would have wanted to believe it."

"Yeah," sniffed Cindy. "Death Eaters."

"How about also people who had been falsely accused of being Death Eaters? And their families? And the families of those 'suspects' that his Aurors tortured or mind-controlled? And the families of his political enemies, those people he deemed 'supporters?' And the families of those people he sent off to Azkaban without benefit of trial? The families of all the people he disappeared while the war was going on? The families of the people who as far as we know are probably still there, rotting away in Azkaban, just like Sirius Black would be, if he hadn't escaped? Yeah, I think there were probably people out there who would have been up for a bit of come-uppance for old Crouch. I always read a bit of backlash in that Pensieve Crowd, myself. They're out for blood for the Longbottoms, but I also think they liked Crouch's son being involved. I dare say that some of them would have been even more pleased to see Crouch himself dragged off by those dementors. His son was just the next best thing.

"So," concluded Elkins. "It really was in his best interests to get his son convicted as quickly as possible, wasn't it? Even if it really wasn't the greatest evidence. Shoddy enough evidence for Dumbledore to have had his doubts. Cloaks can be stolen, after all."

"I thought you said that Crouch was pandering to the crowd at his son's trial," objected Eileen. "Whipping them into a hysteria to further his own political agenda."

"Well, I think that he was, although as it happened, he seriously misjudged the long-term benefits of that strategy. But he could also have been protecting himself by allowing hostility directed at him to be deflecting onto his son and his son's co-defendents, just as in the parallel scene with Winky at the QWC, he protects himself and his son by allowing attention to be deflected first onto the Trio and then onto Winky. The two motives are hardly mutually exclusive. And really, you know, it wasn't a bad strategy, even if it did backfire on him. Besides," Elkins added. "I like Barty Jr. leaving his father's Invisibility Cloak behind at the scene of the crime. It makes him just such a screw-up, and you know how I love it when people turn out to have screwed up big time, rather than actually having been all clever and getting things right all along."

"What you want has nothing to do with plausibility," Cindy reminded her, rather severely.

"No," agreed Elkins. "It doesn't. But actually, you know, I also think that screw-up scenarios are far more canonically plausible?"

She reached down absently to scratch Coney behind the ears.

"I mean, just look at what we've seen in the text to date, will you?" she said. "A brief survey of the canon: 'It's Snape, I tell ya! Snape!' 'Mother Love? Oops, I forgot!' 'It's Draco, I tell ya! Draco!' 'Oops, cat hair!' 'It's Hagrid, I tell ya! Hagrid!' 'Oh, I'd best not tell Dumbledore I've been hearing voices!' 'Phoenix Tears? Oops, forgot that one, too!' 'Hey, guys, I know! Let's make Peter our Secret Keeper!' 'Oops, forgot my Wolfsbane Potion!' 'Come on, Cedric: let's take the prize together.' 'Priori Incantatem? Oops, didn't think of that one.' 'My gosh, you mean that wasn't my old friend Alastor Moody, but instead an imposter?' 'Harry, there's something that I should have told you five years ago....'"

Elkins took a deep breath. "And that's just a sampling," she said. "There are just tons more. People mess up constantly in these books. They make stupid mistakes and terrible errors of judgment; they're doomed by bad timing and rotten luck and plain old human fallibility. It happens everywhere you look in these books. That's just the way things work in the Potterverse, it seems: best-laid schemes ganging a-gley all over the place!"

"'Ganging a-gley?'" Risti repeated dubiously.

"It actually ties in, to my mind, with the emphasis on House Gryffindor," said Elkins. "Rather than either Ravenclaw or Slytherin. Not wisdom but bravery. Not cunning but faith. Fortune in the Potterverse really doesn't seem to favor the prepared mind, does it? It's a more Vergilian sort of Fortune. It favors the brave. So overall, I actually do think that canonical plausibility weighs far more heavily towards scenarios in which people screw up royally than it does towards ones in which it turns out that they were actually being terribly clever and planning everything right from the very—"

She made a small choking noise and looked down at the rather massive sword that had just appeared, seemingly from nowhere, at her throat. Then up into Melody's rather steely blue gaze. Then back down at the blade.

"Um," she said.

At the table, Eileen had buried her head in one hand and was shaking her head slowly back and forth. Behind her, Risti was making suspicious snerking noises at the back of her throat. Cindy sighed.

"Elkins," she said patiently. "Where are you?"

"I'm, uh." Elkins swallowed hard. "I don't see quite what you... Mel? Mel, uh, look, don't—"

"You're in the Safe House, Elkins," explained Cindy. "You know, the place for conspiracy theories? And Agatha Christie style speculations? Ones in which people have planned everything out ahead of time and are actually being very clever?"

Elkins' lips moved soundlessly. It looked as if perhaps she had just said, "oops." She glanced back up at Melody again.

"I, er...forgot?" she said faintly.

There was an awkward silence.

"I'll just, uh, go out into the garden then, shall I?" asked Elkins. "And play with the bunny for a little while?"

Melody withdrew the sword an inch from her throat.

"That might be for the best," she said coldly.

Elkins nodded weakly and staggered to her feet. She reached down, scooped up Coney, and inched her way across the kitchen, throwing nervous glances repeatedly at Melody's Big Sword. At the door, she paused.

"Can I take some coffee and a poptart with me?" she asked, without much hope.

"NO!" screamed Melody.

"Okay, okay. Sheesh." Elkins shook her head. "Just one last question, though? About that Invisibility Cloak Left Behind At The Scene Of The Crime? Eileen?"

"Yeah?"

"If that evidence was ever a matter of public record, then why would Sirius tell the Trio that Crouch's son might 'just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time?' Why would he have emphasized Crouch's son being caught in the company of the others as the most damning evidence against him?"

"Well..." began Eileen.

"I can only think of one explanation that fits," said Elkins quietly. "Crouch suppressed the evidence."

"To protect his son?" asked Eileen, looking excited.

Elkins laughed and shook her head.

"Hardly," she said. "But oh, Eileen. I do like it sometimes when people screw up big time."

*************

Elkins

***************************

 

RE: Unforgivables and Aurors


Ginger wrote (of Crouch's measures):

I can see giving the Aurors those powers under the circumstances. We had an unfortunate incident in my town a week ago where an officer was forced to kill when he was attacked. If Aurors, as trained law enforcement officials, are not given this authority, the attacking DE has all the advantages. It would be like sending a cop to a drug bust with no gun.

There's no reason to believe that the Aurors didn't have the right to kill in self-defense even before Crouch came along.

This is what Sirius says in "Padfoot Returns," Ch. 27 of GoF:

"The Aurors were given new powers -- powers to kill rather than capture, for instance."

Note what Sirius is actually saying. He does not say that what Crouch authorized his Aurors to do was to kill in self-defense. For all we know, they already had that authorization. Recognition of self-defense as an acceptable legal justification for killing is very common, after all, even if the burden of proof may vary widely from culture to culture.

No, what Sirius actually says is that the Aurors were given authorization to kill rather than to capture.

This is serious. What it means is that the Aurors were permitted to kill not only in self-defense, nor even in the immediate defense of others. They were allowed to kill as an alternative to arrest.

In other words, they could kill innocent citizens—people only suspected but not yet actually convicted of any crime—without being held accountable for it.

Note also what Sirius has to say about Moody:

"I'll say this for Moody, though, he never killed if he could help it. Always brought people in alive where possible."

Indeed, the text gives us an example of the sort of situation in which it was not possible: the combat with Evan Rosier, who chose to fight rather than to surrender. But for all we know, Rosier's death at the hands of the Aurors might have been perfectly legal even before Crouch came into power.

The implication that I see in Sirius' commentary about Moody above is that there were other Aurors who, unlike Moody, were not killing in self-defense. Nor were they killing only when it was impossible to apprehend a suspect by other means (Moody himself brought more Death Eaters to justice than any other Auror, we are told, so clearly refraining from the AK was really not all that crippling a disadvantage).

No. They were killing gratuitously.

And Crouch's measures were what allowed them to get away with it.

—Elkins

Posted February 12, 2003 at 3:54 pm
Topics:
Plain text version

 

RE: Anatomy of a Rift


Abigail wrote:

First of all, bravo, Dicentra, on a thought-provoking and compelling argument.

Oh, enthusiastically seconded!

You know, I've always problems with Jealous!Ron? I was never able to put my finger on the reasons why. He somehow just never...felt right to me.

Now that Dicentra has done this marvellous analysis, though, I finally feel justified in kicking Jealous!Ron out the door and happily accepting a BetrayedLoyalty!Ron.

Abigail felt much the same way. She did, however, have one Big Question to ask:

What is the point?

No, really, I'm asking. I have no idea what the answer is, and that's bugging me because Dicentra's argument makes a lot of sense. So, any thoughts?

Hmmmm. Thoughts...

Well, one thing that occurs to me is that, as Dicentra and Jo and bboy and others have pointed out, every single one of the first three books has given us some striking example of Ron's extraordinary loyalty, his capacity for self-sacrifice. In PS/SS, he sacrifices himself in the chess game. In CoS, he braves his worst phobia. In PoA, he tells Sirius that Sirius will have to go through him in order to get to Harry.

So could it be that in GoF, we are being shown this same character trait, but from a slightly different angle? Perhaps Betrayed!Ron is there to show us what such loyalty looks like when it has been treated cavalierly, when it believes itself to have been under-appreciated, or spurned?

It strikes me that GoF returns to a theme that the series has not touched so strongly upon since CoS: the problem of fame. By introducing Rita Skeeter, JKR brings the issue of his own fame and, even more to the point, of his own unique position and role within the Wizarding World back home to Harry. While CoS focused more on the ramifications of this role in terms of ego, though, GoF seems to me to focus far more strongly on its ramifications in terms of duty, of obligation. Harry must participate in the Triwizard Tournament, regardless of the fact that he strongly suspects that it is a trap intended to bring about his own death. He simply has no choice in the matter. His unusual talent with the Imperius Curse also emphasizes his oddity, his specialness. And of course, the "Badge Chuck" zeroes in, in a painfully explicit way, on the particular "badge" of his distinction: his mark, his scar.

It seems to me that this issue becomes particularly important now because, in terms of the series as a whole, GoF is a transitional volume, a turning point, a pivot. To some extent, it marks the end of Harry's childhood. It also marks the point at which the conflict with Voldemort is poised to become a war.

The Rift may serve to point out to Harry the necessity of someone in his position appreciating the particular considerations owed to those who have proven themselves willing to lay down their lives for you or for your cause. It serves as both a warning and as a challenge to Harry: a reminder that fealty is a two-way street, that those destined to lead have serious responsibilities and obligations to those who follow them -- responsibilities which must not be neglected, not even through oversight or accident.

If this is indeed the Rift's purpose, then I would expect to see it reflected elsewhere in the text. And indeed, I do. In fact, I think that it is reflected quite strongly in the behavior of the villains throughout GoF, particularly Voldemort, who has already been established as a literary double to Harry.

It seems to me that the parts of GoF which focus on the antagonists are overwhelmingly concerned with the bonds of loyalty, fealty and duty. They stand, however, to illustrate what happens when these concepts are perverted, or when they are misapplied.

The entire Crouch family subplot, for example, revolves around misguided notions of devotion, loyalty and duty. Crouch mistakes coercion for devotion. Percy and Winky grant Crouch loyalty that he does not merit. The entire Crouch household applies its misguided devotion to its erring scion. Barty Jr., in turn, gives his to Voldemort.

What allows us to know that all of these expressions of personal devotion are misapplied is that they are non-reciprocal.

Crouch is willing to sacrifice both his son and his servant to protect himself; he cannot remember his assistant's name and will not even do him the courtesy of drinking his tea. Crouch Jr. rewards Winky for her devotion by exploiting her weakness at the QWC, and he murders the father who saved his life. His own loyalty to Voldemort is rewarded by soul death at the hand of one of his master's "natural allies."

Every single one of Voldemort's scenes in this novel similarly showcases and highlights Voldemort's own unwillingness to recognize the reciprocity of service. Voldemort demands utter devotion, loyalty and submission from his followers, yet he does not recognize any corresponding obligations towards those who tender him such service. Indeed, although he promises reward to those who serve him faithfully, whenever one of his followers actually shows signs of expecting quid pro quo, he takes great pains to disabuse them of that notion.

In the first chapter of the book, in spite of his absolute dependence on Wormtail's service, Voldemort refuses to give him any assurance that he will not be killed once he no longer proves useful. In the dream sequence, his punishment of Wormtail for allowing Crouch Sr. to escape is gratuitous, excessive, and sadistic. In the graveyard, Voldemort talks a good game of contracts and of loyalty, but his actual actions make it clear precisely what the nature of this "contract" really is. He coaxes his Death Eaters to beg forgiveness for their prior disloyalty, but when one finally does, he retaliates with torture and the assurance that "I do not forgive." He delays replacing Wormtail's hand until he has first forced Wormtail to proclaim, out loud and in front of the assembled Death Eaters, that he is actually owed nothing. Nothing but suffering. Only then is Voldemort willing to "reward" him for his service, thus making it clear to all that his "reward" is absolutely not to be viewed as any form of payment. There is to be no quid pro quo in this relationship. The "reward" is actually an undeserved gift, an act of Grace -- and indeed, Wormtail responds to it with precisely the sort of gratitude appropriate to such a bestowal.

To say that Voldemort has no sense of noblesse oblige would be a gross understatement. He has no sense of reciprocity. He demands the privileges of fealty, but he does not accept its corresponding responsibilities, obligations or duties. Voldemort does not want to be master to his followers. Master/servant is a reciprocal relationship. Instead, Voldemort wants to be their god.

Perhaps the Rift is there to show to Harry the dangers inherent in such a lack of reciprocity?

Steve/bboy wrote:

First this thought was triggered in my mind by someone mentioning that after the second task when Ron was getting some attention, Harry assume Ron's pleasure in it was because Ron was getting to share the limelight for a change. This person (sorry couldn't find that post again) speculated the Ron 'joy' was really in the realization the he (Ron) was the most precious thing in Harry's life, even more precious the Harry's world class Firebolt Broomstick which was the first thing Harry thought of.

Yes. I think that's why he's so happy too.

Being valued in just that fashion was also what Crouch Jr. fixated upon, wasn't it? It was what he felt he never received from his father. And it was what he hoped, foolishly, to receive from Voldemort.

::pause::

::slow smile::

One last thought about the responsibility towards ones followers, this one going back to last week's Train Stomp discussion, in which we were discussing the significance of the Twins ambushing the anti-Trio and cursing them from behind...

It occurs to me, you know, that Voldemort and Crouch Jr. aren't the only antagonists who serve as Harry's literary doubles in this story. Draco Malfoy also plays that role, as unsatisfying as he may be in it. And there's something about that Train Stomp that I was thinking about last week. Something that I don't believe anyone else brought up.

"Interesting effect," said George, looking down at Crabbe. "Who used the Furnunculus Curse?"

"Me," said Harry.

"Odd," said George lightly. "I used Jelly-Legs. Looks as though those two shouldn't be mixed. He seems to have sprouted little tentacles all over his face. Well, let's not leave them here, they don't add much to the decor."

Crabbe. That would be the same Crabbe who braved Fake!Moody's wrath to try to help Ferret!Draco during the Ferret Bounce, wouldn't it?

The Slyth Trio are described as "covered with hex marks," but I do find it interesting that this discussion of such marks actually being on someone's face centers on poor dear voiceless Vincent Crabbe.

See, I just can't seem to shake this sneaking suspicion that Draco's face is probably just fine.

Good Guys really shouldn't go hexing their enemies in the back, you know.

But they don't go using their followers as human shields, either.

—Elkins (who will happily board Marina's Harry/Millicent ship, so long as she is allowed to desseminate Redeemable!Crabbe leaflets to all the crew)

 

RE: TBAY: Barty Jr., Consummate Screw-Up


In an abrupt break from narrative continuity. . . .

"Didn't you say last night Elkins that you always like it much better when it turns out that people screwed up big time than you do when it turns out that they were actually being very clever and getting things right all along?" Melody asked.

Elkins looked up, smiled, and nodded.

"Doesn't Barty Jr. fit that clever bill rather nicely though?"

><))"> ><))"> ><))"> ><))"> ><))"> ><))"> ><))"> ><))"> ><))">

Well, he is clever (and I do realize that that's a big part of why you like him so much, Melody), but I also see him as rather striking for the extent to which he screws things up (which is a large part of why I like him so much). He's not really much of a criminal genius at all, if you ask me. He doesn't really get a whole lot of things right. I mean, let's take a look at his nasty, brutish and short life, shall we?

First off, he became a Death Eater. That's screwing up right there, I'd say, especially when you consider that he had all the practical advantages: wealthy and influential parents, good connections, academic talent, blandly inoffensive looks. Entering into compacts with Dark Wizards is always screwing up, if you ask me, but in Barty's case, you can't even explain it on pragmatic grounds: unlike the giants, for example, who may have had very good cause for supporting an insurrectionist agenda, Barty was well-positioned to benefit from the status quo.

Second, assuming that the Death Eaters didn't take minors or schoolboys, he probably accepted the Dark Mark only a matter of months before Voldemort went down. If that. (Myself, I always like to imagine that it was only a matter of days, but that's just because I'm seriously Bent.) Assuming that he left school in June of 1981 (for the reasoning behind this timeline, see posts 39828, 47294), he would have become a Death Eater around four months before the event at Godric's Hollow at the most. I rather suspect that it was even less time than that, as I imagine that given whose son he was, he would have been very carefully vetted before being ushered into the inner circle. So we're looking at the most appalling timing here. Seriously Bad Timing.

Nonetheless, he did avoid getting exposed as a Death Eater after Voldemort's fall. Lucky devil! So what did he do? Did he keep his head down and just try to get on with his life? No, no. Of course not! That would have been sensible. No, instead he started hanging with the crazed fanatics. Naturally. And then he got himself arrested. Invisibility Cloak Left Behind At Scene Of Crime? Wrong place at the wrong time? Actually innocent, and framed by one of his father's political enemies? Under the Imperius Curse (dig that theory, btw, Eric!)?

Well, there's no way to know for sure. But no matter how you spin this, I'd say that it qualifies as a Bad Mistake.

He didn't have the requisite fanaticism to stand up to the dementors. The Woman Assumed To Be Lestrange wasn't on her death bed after a year of replaying her worst memories. I think that her fanaticism probably helped to sustain her, just as Sirius' knowledge of his own innocence did. So in Barty, we're looking at someone who wanted to be a fanatic, but who wasn't even really very good at it, when push came to shove. Sad, sad, sad.

Once again, though, he has the luck of the devil. His parents rescue him from prison. Choice opportunity for him, yes? He could have started a new life, perhaps. Or, he could have feigned gratitude and compliance long enough to put his father off his guard, and then run off to try to bring back Voldemort. Either one of those two actions would at least have shown a bit of competence. But instead, what does he do? He actually lets his father know that he's all set to run off and find Voldemort -- and he gets himself Imperio'd for all his pains. Pathetic.

After a decade of slavery, he starts managing to resist the Imperius from time to time. He succeeds in keeping it a secret from Winky. So far, so good. So what does he do at the QWC? He kicks that Imperius, and he's outdoors, there's a crowd, there's already the distraction of the little DE parade going on...I mean, we're talking chance of a lifetime here. So how does he exploit it? Does he seize this opportunity to make his great escape? Take advantage of the situation to try to break free of Winky, and then flee into hiding?

Err...no. No, see, instead what he decides to do is to shoot the Dark Mark into the sky, thus alerting everyone to his precise location. Yes, so clever is our Barty that within minutes of casting his Morsmordre, he's been triangulated upon by a bunch of Ministry guys and stunned into unconsciousness. He only avoids going right back to prison because his father covers for him. And then he winds up right back where he started: under the Imperius Curse, and his father's prisoner. I mean, really now! This is hardly a criminal mastermind we're looking at, is it? He can't even cast a single spell without getting caught! He's perfectly hopeless!

He can't throw off the Imperius a second time. He needs to be rescued by Voldemort. And then we get to the Cunning Plan -- which isn't even his.

Okay. First, he and Wormtail botch their abduction of Moody badly enough that there's a commotion. They only get away with it by the skin of their teeth.

Then, his mission to ensure that Harry wins that Tournament is constantly on the brink of doom. Barty's skating on thin ice throughout the entire novel, really. He needs to resort to a rather desperate 'Plan B' to get Harry through the Second Task, and even then, he only succeeds through the dumbest of luck. Harry very nearly sleeps through the thing, for heaven's sake!

He nearly gives himself away with Bouncing Ferret. He nearly gets caught out by the Marauder's Map. He nearly gets caught killing his father. He plays his part a bit too well by teaching Harry to resist the Imperius Curse. In fact, Eileen has argued, and I think that I'm forced to agree, that his behavior as "Moody" is in some ways utterly reckless. He shows off, he seeks out old companions, he gives other people clues to his real motives. He is not careful.

And that Third Task was also an awfully close shave, wasn't it? In spite of all of his efforts, in spite of taking Fleur out of the running, in spite of that breathtakingly vicious "Imperio Krum Into Crucio'ing Cedric" ploy, Cedric still comes thiiiiiiiis close to taking the trophy. And wouldn't that just have pleased Voldemort no end!

And finally, there's the End Game. Ah, the End Game. He breaks his masquerade by dragging Harry out of Dumbledore's sight. Then he takes Harry...where? Why, to his office, of course! The very first place that Dumbledore is likely to go looking for him. He is so consumed with explaining how terribly cunning he's been that he not only fails to look into his Foe Glass; he also somehow fails to notice that his would-be victim keeps stealing glances at said Foe Glass. He can't even manage to kill a helpless, traumatized, unarmed fourteeen-year-old boy. Not even after drugging him first! Instead, he degenerates into bwah-hah-hah Villain Mania and then gets himself, in rapid succession, stunned, spurned, exposed, veritaserum'd, interrogated, bound, and Dementor Kissed.

Yes, he is clever, in his way. He has a quick wit and an agile mind, and he's just killer with all of those sly double-edged comments. He's also one heck of an actor. But at the same time, I can't really say that I view him as all that competent. In fact, he strikes me as rather notably self-sabotaging. It seems to me that whenever he's in danger of actually getting away with something, he finds some way to shoot himself in the foot. To me, he comes across very strongly as someone who on some deep and fundamental level really doesn't want to succeed.

In short, he's a screw-up.

—Elkins

Posted February 14, 2003 at 5:37 pm
Topics: ,
Plain text version

 

RE: TBAY: More Invisibility Cloaks


Out in the garden of the Safe House, the sun is still shining, even though the storm clouds are moving quickly in on the Bay.

"I don't want to spoil everyone's fun," says Eileen to herself. "But I think invisibility cloaks belong to old families, not people with connections to the DMLE."

"Truthfully?" whispers Elkins, with a quick glance back at the door to the Safe House. "So do I."

"Elkins! I was talking to myself there!"

"And I was eavesdropping. I think that they belong to old families too. Look at what Ron says, when he first sees Harry's in PS/SS."

"I've heard of those," he said in a hushed voice, dropping the box of Every Flavor Beans he'd gotten from Hermione. "If that's what I think it is -- they're really rare, and really valuable."

"Really rare, and really valuable," repeats Elkins. "But what Ron doesn't say is anything about them being 'restricted.' And given that Ron is a Ministry kid, I think that he might well know about it, if they were. It also seems clear to me that Ron's never seen one before. 'If that's what I think it is.' But we know that the Weasley kids do come into contact with members of the DMLE from time to time. Charlie met Moody while visiting Arthur at work, for example, and the Twins also seem to be acquainted with him.

"Hermione never brings it up either," she continues. "No 'Harry, you can't have one of those! I just read in a book that only people in Magical Law Enforcement are allowed those!' Nothing like that. Nobody ever cautions Harry against being caught with one in his possession either, which I suspect would have come up by now, if Invisibility Cloaks were really restricted to members of the DMLE. Snape never objects to his owning one on those grounds. Nobody does. It looks to me far more like a very valuable legacy artifact, the sort of thing that wealthy old families might possess, than it does like government issue."

Eileen nods. "After all, Barty Crouch Sr. wasn't just head of the DMLE," she points out. "He was an aristocrat. And something in the way JKR describes the Potters makes me think we're looking at a similar background."

"I agree. Inherited wealth. Never had to work for a living. Also, the Malfoys seem to view the Potters far more as class traitors than as inferiors. Both Draco and Lucius talk about them as if they should have been on Voldemort's side. As if they made the wrong choice. I'm left with the impression that the Potters were wizarding aristocrats as well."

"But I do hate to spoil Cindy's fun..." begins Eileen.

"Do you? Really?" Elkins blinks. "How droll. I always find it rather amusing, myself. In fact, I think that I'm going to end this post right here..."

"You are? Why?"

"Why, to give her a chance to object without having to deal with more of our Crouch talk, of course!"

"But how do you plan on conducting more than one conversation at a time?"

Elkins jerks her head over towards her two clones on the swingset.

"Oh."

-----------------

Elkins

Posted February 14, 2003 at 7:45 pm
Topics: , ,
Plain text version