Harry sends a letter to Sirius, he encounters Cho Chang and she calls him brave, and the Gryffindor team’s first practice is less than spectacular. Percy sends Ron a letter warning him against continuing his friendship with Harry, and Sirius communicates with Harry through the common room fire.
Calendar and Dates
The chapter takes place over the course of the first weekend of fall term. Since classes began on Monday, 2 September, these two days must be Saturday and Sunday, 7-8 September.
Interesting facts and notes
'Peeves is planning an amusing joke on the next person to pass the bust of Paracelsus halfway down the corridor.'
Harry is on the seventh floor at this point, so we know that there is a bust of Paracelsus halfway down that corridor.
Something brushed his ankles. He looked down and saw the caretaker's skeletal grey cat, Mrs. Norris, slinking past him. She turned lamplike yellow eyes on him for a moment before disappearing behind a statue of Wilfred the Wistful.
'I'm not doing anything wrong,' Harry called after her. She had the unmistakable air of a cat that was off to report to her boss, yet Harry could not see why; he was perfectly entitled to walk up to the Owlery on a Saturday morning.
Mrs. Norris actually is reporting to Filch, who turns up a bit later to confront Harry over his supposed purchase of Dungbombs.
'How do I know you haven't got it in your pocket?'
'I saw him send it,' said Cho angrily.
Filch rounded on her.
'You saw him -?'
That's right, I saw him,' she said fiercely.
There is somewhat of a parallel here with the incident of the troll in the bathroom, way back in book one. In that incident, like this one, a friendship grows from a shared incident of danger. Back then it was Hermione who defended Harry to a Hogwarts staff member; now it's Cho. In both cases, the result is a growing relationship.
'Anything interesting?' said Ron. Harry grinned, knowing Ron was keen to keep her off the subject of homework.
'No,' she sighed, 'just some guff about the bass player in the Weird Sisters getting married.'
The bass player for the Weird Sisters is Donaghan Tremlett.
Harry looked down glumly at the bit of the Prophet he had torn off. Most of the page was devoted to an advertisement for Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, which was apparently having a sale.
In the first issue of the Daily Prophet newsletters there is an ad for a sale at Madam Malkin's shop.
'Hey, Johnson, what's with that hairstyle, anyway?' shrieked Pansy Parkinson from below. 'Why would anyone want to look like they've got worms coming out of their head?'
Making fun of Angelina's hairstyle, particularly a style which is part of her heritage as a Black woman, is certainly a new low for the Slytherins.
Harry reversed away from the others to the far side of the pitch.
Does this mean he flew backwards? That's something I'd like to see.
Harry knew Ron was too preoccupied with how badly he had performed at Quidditch practice and he himself was having difficulty in getting the 'Gryffindor are losers' chant out of his head.
The precursor to the soon-to-be-popular "Weasley is our King" ditty.
'You're less like your father than I thought,' he said finally, a definite coolness in his voice. The risk would've been what made it fun for James.'
Harry does take risks, but not frivolously. His risk-taking is tempered with the wisdom that comes from his mother and the growing sense of responsibility of his place in the battle against Voldemort. This breaking of his relationship with Sirius is part of the process we see all through this book of everything Harry holds dear being taken away.
Exceptional character moments
Nearly-Headless Nick's bored reaction to yet another Peeves practical joke:
'I would not go that way if I were you,' said Nearly Headless Nick, drifting disconcertingly through a wall just ahead of Harry as he walked down the passage. 'Peeves is planning an amusing joke on the next person to pass the bust of Paracelsus halfway down the corridor.'
'Does it involve Paracelsus falling on top of the persons head?' asked Harry.
'Funnily enough, it does,' said Nearly Headless Nick in a bored voice. 'Subtlety has never been Peeves's strong point. I'm off to try and find the Bloody Baron… he might be able to put a stop to it… see you, Harry..."
Hermione pestering the boys about their homework:
'I mean, we can do it tonight,' said Ron, as he and Harry walked down the sloping lawns towards the Quidditch pitch, their broomsticks over their shoulders, and with Hermione's dire warnings that they would fail all their OWLs still ringing in their ears. 'And we've got tomorrow. She gets too worked up about work, that's her trouble…' There was a pause and he added, in a slightly more anxious tone, 'D'you think she meant it when she said we weren't copying from her?'
Ron taking offense when Hermione seemed to imply that she knew he's played Quidditch poorly, then Harry loyally sticking up for him.
Duelling messages: first Percy's sanctimonious letter, then Sirius's message from the fire.
Hermione giving in and editing Harry and Ron's essays for them.
Harry looked up at Ron. "Well," he said, trying to sound as though he found the whole thing a joke, "if you want to - er - what is it?" (He checked Percy's letter.) "Oh yeah - 'sever ties' with me, I swear I won't get violent."
"That's exactly what [Fudge] thinks you're doing," said Sirius, "or rather, that's exactly what he's afraid Dumbledore's doing - forming his own private army, with which he will be able to take on the Ministry of Magic." There was a pause at this, then Ron said, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard, including all the stuff that Luna Lovegood comes out with."
'Well,' he said, trying to sound as though he found the whole thing a joke, 'if you want to - er - what is it?' - he checked Percy's letter - 'Oh yeah - "sever ties" with me, I swear I won't get violent.'
'Hermione, you are honestly the most wonderful person I've ever met,' said Ron weakly, 'and if I'm ever rude to you again -'
'- I'll know you're back to normal,' said Hermione.
'Yes, but the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters,' said Sirius with a wry smile.
Words and phrases
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