The Beetle at Bay
Synopsis by Maureen Knight
Notes and links by Michele L. Worley
US hardcover edition: pages 492-515
edition: pages aaa-bbb
Timeframe: 13 January - 14 February,
In which there is a mass breakout from Azkaban, a Ministry worker dies
under suspicious circumstances, and Umbridge bans the teachers from
giving students information unrelated to their subjects. Harry and Cho
go on a date to Hogsmeade, and Hermione and Luna Lovegood arrange for
Rita Skeeter to interview Harry, with his story to be published in Luna's
father's paper, The Quibbler.
Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:
The chapter title is a reference to Rita Skeeter's Animagus form,
a beetle with markings around its eyes resembling Skeeter's
Antonin Dolohov...convicted of the brutal murders of
Gideon and Fabian Prewett.
Hagrid first mentioned the Prewetts as victims of Voldemort's first reign of
terror in PS5, when he first explained who
Voldemort was. The brothers were featured in Mad-Eye Moody's "team photo"
of the original Order of the Phoenix back in OP9,
when Moody said that it took five Death Eaters to kill them. This is the
first time we have learned the identity of any of the five.
Karkaroff gave the Ministry Dolohov's name during his own
trial, alleging that Dolohov was guilty of the "torture
of countless Muggles and...non-supporters of the
Dark Lord", but as Dolohov had been arrested before
Karkaroff came to trial, the information was considered
valueless by Crouch senior (GF30).
Augustus Rookwood...convicted of leaking Ministry of
Magic Secrets to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
We first heard of Rookwood back in
Karkaroff gave his name to the Ministry while trying to talk
his way out of Azkaban. Karkaroff's betrayal of Rookwood
appears to have been crucial to Karkaroff's success in
staying out of Azkaban (GF30).
Bellatrix Lestrange, convicted of the torture and permanent
incapacitation of Frank and Alice Longbottom.
From Sirius' remarks earlier (OP6) and the trial
in "The Pensieve" (GF30), we now have
confirmation that Bellatrix Lestrange was the woman among the three people
who were tried alongside Barty Crouch, junior for this crime.
The article and the number of photographs reveal that ten
high-security prisoners have just broken out of Azkaban:
nine wizards and a witch. Two of the wizards (Dolohov and
Rookwood) and the witch (Bellatrix) have just been named,
leaving seven of the wizards unidentified at this point.
We can deduce from their appearance at the battle of the
Department of Mysteries later on that two of the seven
unnamed wizards were Bellatrix's husband and brother-in-law.
When Harry next saw Lee, the back of his hand was bleeding rather
badly. Harry recommended essence of murtlap.
This little incident actually turned out well in the end. When
the Weasley twins had a problem later on with their Fever Fudge
prototype, Lee was able to recommend essence of murtlap as a
possible solution to the problem; it seems to have worked
On the morning of the fourteenth he dressed particularly carefully.
So this Hogsmeade weekend day actually is Valentine's Day,
not just the closest weekend.
Since Hallowe'en of Harry's second year was in 1992
(CS8), the Valentine's Day in this chapter
is 14 February 1996. Unfortunately, an actual 1996 calendar reveals that in
fact that day was a Wednesday, not a weekend day at all. One more discrepancy
between the HP universe's timeline and the actual calendar.
"I can't come into Hogsmeade at all, Angelina wants a
full day's training."
Ouch. Quidditch practice interfering with a Hogsmeade
weekend. I wonder if this was one of the issues that
led to the end of Ginny's relationship with Michael -
that she had to put Quidditch practice before any
possible date with him in Hogsmeade, despite the
occasion. Possibly her defeat of Cho in Gryffindor /
Ravenclaw caused only the last of several Quidditch-related
arguments between Ginny and her Ravenclaw boyfriend.
That is, however, pure speculation on my part.
Story-construction-wise, Quidditch practice serves as a tidy
excuse for not having Ron present at the Skeeter meeting
later on. I suspect that his presence would have been an
unnecessary complication - he would have said or done something
to make the situation even more complicated than it already was.
Furthermore, of course, while Skeeter currently daren't
insinuate anything about Hermione's personal life, she
is certainly on the lookout for anything she can use later.
The obvious move for Skeeter to make in revenge against Hermione,
sooner or later, is to invent a Harry/Hermione - Ron/Hermione triangle scandal
along the lines of the Harry/Hermione - Krum/Hermione scandal she fabricated
in Goblet of Fire. Nothing good can come of anyone
bringing Ron's friendship with Hermione to Rita's attention.
Characters introduced in this chapter:
Characters returning in this chapter:
Characters mentioned in this chapter:
Lestrange, Bellatrix Black
Riddle, Tom Marvolo (as Voldemort, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named)
Strout, Healer Miriam
(unnamed) Muggle Prime Minister
Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:
Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:
Exceptional character moments:
We learn that Cho is jealous, and consequently has issues
with Hermione's friendship with Harry.
Hermione's talents at blackmail are once again honed on
Links and Resources:
"If we can't trust Dumbledore, we can't trust anyone."
"What did she want to talk about Cedric for anyway?
Why does she always want to drag up a subject that makes her act like a
Rita stared at her. So did Harry. Luna, on the
other hand, sang, "Weasley Is Our King" dreamily under her breath and
stirred her drink with a cocktail onion on a stick.
"Of course, the Prophet might give you rather a lot for an
insider's account of life in Azkaban...."
The chapter begins the morning of the first day of classes
following Christmas holidays, speeds through January and half of
February and concludes on one of the most solid dates we're given in
the books - Saturday, 14 February, Valentine's Day.