"He must really like you, Harry ... imagine having to live off rats."
-- Ron Weasley
Ron becomes a celebrity, Skeeter writes an article about Hermione, Snape reads it in class, Harry overhears Snape and Karkaroff, and HRH meet Sirius outside Hogsmeade, learning about Barty Crouch’s son dying in Azkaban.
Interesting facts and notes
Padfoot is Sirius' nickname from his schooldays, taken from his Animagus form, and indeed his first appearance in this chapter is in the form of the bearlike black dog.
Sirius' conversation with HRH provides the single largest block of information about the Death Eaters to this point in the story.
As they entered March the weather became drier...
This is consistent with the next Hogsmeade weekend taking place two weekends after the Second Task.
Be at stile at end of road out of Hogsmeade (past Dervish and Banges) at two o'clock on Saturday afternoon. Bring as much food as you can.
The Saturday of the meeting between HRH and Sirius was "the weekend after next", according to Hermione on Monday 22 February (GF26). If Y15 wasn't a leap year, this dates the meeting as Saturday 6 March. If Y15 was a leap year, on the other hand, the meeting took place on the fifth.
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were standing in a huddle outside the classroom door with Pansy Parkinson's gang of Slytherin girls.
It's worthy of note that although Draco Malfoy is clearly present in the ensuing scene, he is uncharacteristically silent throughout, only indicating his presence once when he flashes his POTTER STINKS badge. This scene is primarily Pansy's show.
The members of "Pansy Parkinson's gang of Slytherin girls" are as yet unidentified by name. In fact, we know the name of only one other Slytherin girl in Pansy's year - Millicent Bulstrode - and the mention of "girls" in the plural is our only clue that there is at least one other girl in Slytherin in Pansy's year. (We do not know for certain whether Millicent Bulstrode belongs to this gang.)
Pansy's pug-like face peered excitedly around Goyle's broad back...
As of HBP, we have very little description of Pansy.
Harry saw that Pansy had a magazine in her hands - Witch Weekly. The moving picture on the front showed a curly-haired witch who was smiling toothily and pointing at a large sponge cake with her wand.
Judging from this chapter's sample of its contents and from Ron's later remarks regarding his mother's reasons for reading it, Witch Weekly appears to specialize in recipes and celebrity gossip. The cover artwork of this issue suggests that the recipes take priority.
This also offers us a small glimpse of Pansy's character - she keeps up with Witch Weekly, as Hermione clearly does not. The fact that Hermione hadn't heard of the article from any Gryffindors before Pansy's ambush in Potions - and that none of the Gryffindors have been seen laughing behind their hands up to this point - suggests that none of the Gryffindor girls take the magazine (or at least, that none read it before class).
"You might find something to interest you in there, Granger!" Pansy said loudly, and she threw the magazine at Hermione, who caught it, looking startled.
The relationship between Hermione and Pansy seems to be a close parallel to that between Harry and Draco.
Once Snape had turned his back on them to write up the ingredients of today's potion on the blackboard...
This little bit of scene-setting interests me as an example of Snape's teaching technique. On this occasion, the class appears to consist entirely of what I would refer to as a lab practical, with no lecture at all. Snape merely wrote up the ingredients on the board and expected the students to set to work.
A colour photograph of Harry headed a short piece entitled: HARRY POTTER'S SECRET HEARTACHE
So it is possible for wizarding photographs to be developed in colour.
...Pansy Parkinson, a pretty and vivacious fourth-year student...
Every description we've had of Pansy prior to this has been filtered through Harry, who does not like her. Rita Skeeter, of course, is not to be trusted as an unbiased reporter, and she has reason to butter up Pansy as a useful source of information.
On the other hand, Harry's negative opinion of Pansy as a Slytherin who hangs around Draco Malfoy may be distorting his judgement. In the interests of balanced reporting, let us consider a few other facts in evidence - namely, that Draco Malfoy attended the Yule Ball with Pansy. Given the attitudes of the Malfoys regarding "purity of blood", and the relative rarity of pureblood families with daughters near Draco's age, he would not have had a large pool of candidates to choose from. However, how likely is it that Draco would attend the ball with a partner whose looks would actually embarrass him?
...she'd be well up to making a Love Potion, she's quite brainy.
This suggests that a Love Potion is somewhat difficult to make, at least by the standards applied to typical fourth-year students.
Love Potions are, of course, banned at Hogwarts...
Interesting; they're not illegal per se, just against Hogwarts rules. We had little information prior to HBP about Love Potions, either their effects or regulations regarding them, but this information gave us some possibilities to consider.
Since the making of Love Potions is not said to be illegal, it seemed a fair deduction that their effects are not permanent.
...she, Harry, and Ron started unpacking the ingredients they would need for their Wit-Sharpening Potion.
The ingredients mentioned throughout the subsequent lesson are:
- scarab beetles (ground up with a pestle)
- ginger roots (sliced)
- armadillo bile
"Known what?" said Ron quickly. "You haven't been mixing up Love Potions, have you?"
Nice going, Ron. First the boy failed to notice that Hermione was a girl until it was too late to ask her to the Yule Ball, and now he's implied that her attraction for Krum might be due to illicit Potion-brewing rather than her personal charms.
His hands were shaking slightly out of anger, but he kept his eyes down, as though he couldn't hear what Snape was saying to him.
Harry's instincts are serving him well here. His only intent is to try to control his temper and avoid losing more points for Gryffindor from the Potions Master, but his avoidance of eye contact is also protecting him from Snape's Legilimency skills, which he won't learn about for nearly another year.
"So I give you fair warning, Potter," Snape continued in a softer and more dangerous voice, "pint-sized celebrity or not - if I catch you breaking into my office one more time -"
I admire JKR's subtlety here in playing fair with the reader. It's clear only in retrospect - or to very, very wary first-time readers - that Snape and Harry from this point on are having slightly different conversations. Snape is referring to at least two break-ins this year, while Harry believes that Snape is referring to one break-in this year, and one over two years ago.
"I haven't been anywhere near your office!" said Harry angrily, forgetting his feigned deafness.
"Don't lie to me," Snape hissed, his fathomless black eyes boring into Harry's.
Snape has finally succeeded in provoking Harry into meeting his eyes, thus giving his Legilimency skills a chance to work.
"Boomslang skin. Gillyweed. Both come from my private stores, and I know who stole them."
Harry stared back at Snape, determined not to blink or to look guilty. In truth, he hadn't stolen either of these things from Snape. Hermione had taken the boomslang skin back in their second year - they had needed it for the Polyjuice Potion - and while Snape had suspected Harry at the time, he had never been able to prove it. Dobby, of course, had stolen the gillyweed.
Take a moment to admire JKR's cunning here. The entire Polyjuice Potion episode from CS doubles as essential background knowledge and as a red herring for GF. Readers of CS are now aware that someone has stolen Polyjuice Potion ingredients from Snape, but like Harry have just been lulled into believing that Snape is referring to the theft from second year, rather than to another and more recent incident.
Furthermore, Snape as a sometime spy has legitimate reasons to be concerned that Polyjuice ingredients have been stolen from his private stores, although he's using unethical means to attempt to trace the thefts. It's just Snape's bad luck - and ultimately, Harry's - that Harry has no knowledge that would link Mad-Eye Moody to the boomslang theft. Harry was told that Dobby's information about the gillyweed came from a conversation between McGonagall and Moody, but Moody's efforts to feed Harry the information from an innocent source have been successful. Harry isn't thinking of how Dobby got the information, so Snape can't lift the information from Harry's mind.
Snape had drawn out a small crystal bottle of a completely clear potion... "It is Veritaserum - a Truth Potion so powerful that three drops would have you spilling your innermost secrets for this entire class to hear," said Snape viciously. "Now, the use of this potion is controlled by very strict Ministry guidelines."
Given that the Ministry consists of politicians and career civil servants, the existence of strict guidelines controlling the use of Truth Potions is not surprising.
They went into Gladrags Wizardwear to buy a present for Dobby, where they had fun selecting the most lurid socks they could find, including a pair patterned with flashing gold and silver stars, and another that screamed loudly when they became too smelly.
It speaks well of Harry that he has taken the first opportunity to keep his promise to himself to buy Dobby a pair of socks for every day in the year (GF26).
Then, at half past one, they made their way up the High Street, past Dervish and Banges, and out toward the edge of the village. Harry had never been in this direction before. The winding lane was leading them out into the wild countryside around Hogsmeade. The cottages were fewer here, and their gardens larger; they were walking toward the foot of the mountain in whose shadow Hogsmeade lay. Then they turned a corner and saw a stile at the end of the lane.
Draw maps? Who, us?
They followed Sirius higher, up onto the mountain itself. For nearly half an hour they climbed a steep, winding, and stony path... Then...they saw a narrow fissure in the rock. They squeezed into it and found themselves in a cool, dimly lit cave.
The length of time taken to walk from the stile to the cave can be used to give us estimates of the distance between the cave and the outskirts of Hogsmeade.
Sirius was wearing ragged gray robes; the same ones he had been wearing when he had left Azkaban.
This confirms that an Animagus' clothing disappears when he or she takes Animagus form, and reappears when the Animagus resumes human shape.
"I've been living off rats mostly. Can't steal too much food from Hogsmeade; I'd draw attention to myself."
As Ron points out later, Sirius' willingness to do this speaks volumes about his devotion to Harry.
"I've been stealing the paper every time someone throws one out..."
Sirius, as we can see from his collection of Daily Prophet issues, is referring to wizarding newspapers. Harry himself will be reduced to nicking Muggle newspapers out of dustbins a few months from now, in the months after the Third Task.
"You three and Dumbledore are the only ones around here who know I'm an Animagus."
As far as Sirius knows, at any rate. Wormtail, of course, has known Sirius' secret for many years, and through him Voldemort and Voldemort's agent at Hogwarts may be aware of Sirius' Animagus status.
"Are you saying whoever conjured the Mark stole my wand in the Top Box?"
"It's possible," said Sirius.
And in fact, it's what happened, as we are to learn later during Dumbledore's questioning of the fake Moody (GF35).
"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."
Let's consider Sirius himself in this light.
From the events of OP28, we can see that Sirius didn't treat Wormtail as an equal despite their supposed close boyhood friendship, but rather with contempt.
But considering Sirius as a grown man, start with his remark here. He was brought up to consider house-elves as inferior, and until the day he died had a hate/hate relationship with the Black family's house-elf, Kreacher, which led directly to his death over a year after this conversation with Harry.
In the words of someone who ought to know (JKR), responding to the question of whether she liked Sirius Black:
Sirius is very good at spouting bits of excellent personal philosophy, but he does not always live up to them. For instance, he says in "Goblet of Fire" that if you want to know what a man is really like, 'look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.' But Sirius loathes Kreacher, the house-elf he has inherited, and treats him with nothing but contempt. Similarly, Sirius claims that nobody is wholly good or wholly evil, and yet the way he acts towards Snape suggests that he cannot conceive of any latent good qualities there. Of course, these double standards exist in most of us; we might know how we ought to behave, but actually doing it is a different matter!Sirius is brave, loyal, reckless, embittered and slightly unbalanced by his long stay in Azkaban. He has never really had the chance to grow up; he was around twenty-two when he was sent off to Azkaban, and has had very little normal adult life. Lupin, who is the same age, seems much older and more mature. Sirius's great redeeming quality is how much affection he is capable of feeling. He loved James like a brother and he went on to transfer that attachment to Harry.
"Crouch's own son was caught with a group of Death Eaters who'd managed to talk their way out of Azkaban."
In other words, Bellatrix, her husband, and her husband's brother initially pulled off the same trick that another brother-in-law - Lucius Malfoy - did. It was only because they were caught engaging in Death Eater activity after Voldemort's fall that the Lestranges went to Azkaban.
"He can't have been more than nineteen."
If we assume that Sirius' guess as to Barty Crouch junior's age is correct, this gives us data for working out a timeline for him.
Since Crouch junior and the Lestranges were captured after Voldemort's fall, when Harry was a year old, Crouch is no more than eighteen years Harry's senior.
"...[Snape] was part of a gang of Slytherins who nearly all turned out to be Death Eaters." Sirius held up his fingers and began ticking off names.
Sirius' recitation here, taken together with GF30 and GF33 supplied the majority of our information about the Death Eaters until the release of OP. From the events of OP28, we know that Snape was in the same year as MWPP, and thus within a few months of their ages, which gives us a rough timeline for the ages of Snape's fellow Slytherins here named.
Rosier and Wilkes - they were both killed by Aurors the year before Voldemort fell.
Dolohov mentions Rosier by name in GF30, supplying a few further details; this information together with Dolohov's allows us to construct a timeline. In GF33, when pacing around the circle of Death Eaters, Voldemort mentions "three dead in my service" without naming them.
The Lestranges - they're a married couple - they're in Azkaban.
This refers to Bellatrix Black Lestrange and her husband Rodolphus, whom we will see later in GF30, though unnamed, and whom Voldemort will single out for praise of their loyalty in GF33. Several months from now, Sirius will add further details about the Black family when showing Harry around Number 12 Grimmauld Place for the first time (OP6). As for the Lestranges being in Azkaban, that incarceration will end shortly after the New Year, during the mass breakout (OP25).
We have no guarantee that Sirius named every member of the "gang of Slytherins" he had in mind, but it may be worth noting that Sirius does not mention Rabastan, Rodolphus' brother, here. It's possible that Rabastan was Rodolphus' older brother, and thus didn't hang around with Rodolphus' friends at school. It seems a little unlikely that Rabastan would've been much younger than Rodolphus, given how young Snape, MWPP, and their classmates were when they joined the first war against Voldemort.
Lucius Malfoy is not mentioned here, for the very good reason that an interview in next year's Daily Prophet (OP15) gives his age, indicating that he is somewhat older than the members of Snape's year.
Avery - from what I've heard he wormed his way out of trouble by saying he'd been acting under the Imperius Curse - he's still at large.
While in one sense this kept Avery out of trouble, you don't get trouble much worse than Voldemort casting the Cruciatus Curse on you, which will happen to Avery more than once over the next year and a half.
But as far as I know, Snape was never even accused of being a Death Eater - not that that means much. Plenty of them were never caught. And Snape's certainly clever and cunning enough to keep himself out of trouble."
As we learn later (GF30), Sirius doesn't have all the facts. After the night of Voldemort's fall, and thus sometime after Sirius' own arrest and imprisonment, Igor Karkaroffdid accuse Snape openly, during his own trial. Since Sirius was in Azkaban at the time, however, he did not know that this had happened.
Snape knows Karkaroff pretty well, but he wants to keep that quiet.
As a once and future spy, Snape knows better than to cast suspicion on himself by publicly associating with a known turncoat like Karkaroff.
"He [Karkaroff] showed Snape something on his arm?" said Sirius, looking frankly bewildered.
Interesting. Although Sirius was a member of the Order of the Phoenix during the first war against Voldemort, he does not know about the Death Eaters' Dark Mark, even though at some point during the war the Order had at least one spy among the Death Eaters' ranks.
"Why are Moody and Crouch so keen to get into Snape's office then?"
"Moody", as we learn later in the wake of the Third Task, is Crouch - Bartemius Crouch junior - and has been stealing Polyjuice Potion ingredients from Snape's private stores to maintain the Mad-Eye Moody role.
Sirius lapsed into silence, still staring at the cave wall. Buckbeak was ferreting around on the rocky floor, looking for bones he might have overlooked.
Figuratively, of course, Sirius is doing the same thing - rummaging among scraps of information looking for anything he's neglected to pick over.
"Well, maybe she's changed since I knew her, but the Bertha I knew wasn't forgetful at all - quite the reverse. She was a bit dim, but she had an excellent memory for gossip."
As we learn later (GF35), Bertha had changed since Sirius knew her; her memory had been damaged permanently by a powerful Memory Charm cast on her by the elder Bartemius Crouch.
"It used to get her into a lot of trouble; she never knew when to keep her mouth shut."
We receive a subtle verification of Sirius' information later, when Harry sees Dumbledore's memory of Bertha as a student (GF30).
Harry checked his watch, then remembered it hadn't been working since it had spent over an hour in the lake.
Harry did not own a watch before his first year at Hogwarts, but did before the Divination final in his third year. We don't know where he got it.
"And don't forget, if you're talking about me among yourselves, call me Snuffles, okay?"
HRH are somewhat sloppy about observing this during GF.
Exceptional character moments
Padma Patil, hanging around Ron now that his involvement in the Second Task has brought him into the limelight.
Ron, exaggerating his involvement in the Second Task to a tale of grand adventure to impress anyone who'll listen. (The fact that Harry doesn't embarrass Ron by calling him on it is also a telling character moment.)
Harry, keeping his promise to himself to buy Dobby a lot of socks to show his gratitude for Dobby's help in the Second Task.
Sirius, sneaking around Hogsmeade as Padfoot, living off rats and scraps, to fulfill his duties as Harry's guardian.
Bartemius Crouch, turning his own son over to the Dementors, valuing his political ambitions over his family.
Ron's take on Percy: that Percy loves rules and his own ambition to the point that Percy, like Crouch, might sacrifice his family for the sake of his career.
He tipped his ginger roots into the cauldron too, and wondered whether he ought to take a leaf out of Moody's book and start drinking only from a private hip flask.
"No one's tried to attack me so far, except a dragon and a couple of grindylows."
"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."
"They took him into a cell near mine. He was screaming for his mother by nightfall. He went quiet after a few days, though . . .they all went quiet in the end. . . except when they shrieked in their sleep. ..."
For a moment, the deadened look in Sirius's eyes became more pronounced than ever, as though shutters had closed behind them.