Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What DOES Felix know?

credit: lberghol, from deviantart

I've been listening to the audiobook recording of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince again the last few weeks. And today I hit upon something I'd never thought of before . . . the role of the Felix Felicis potion in the Ron + Hermione and the Ginny + Harry relationships.

Now . . . I know what Rowling said about Ron and Hermione earlier this year. And I can't really disagree with the spirit (and much of the substance) of what she observed. Ron and Hermione definitely look at the world in very different ways and I can absolutely believe that they might have to struggle though some difficult moments in their married life together. But I do not subscribe to the suggestion that Hermione might have been better off with Harry rather than Ron. I fully support Harry and Ginny (no matter moments of disagreement on that relationship that I have discussed in the past).

So, what is my issue this time?

Well, as I was listening to the audio, it struck me how influential Harry (under the guidance of the Liquid Luck potion) was in providing one of the final links that helped cement the start of both relationships.

Let's break it down, shall we?

Harry has decided he needs to use the potion to persuade Prof. Slughorn to give up his unaltered memory of the Horcrux conversation he had with Tom Riddle back in Riddle's sixth year. So, up in his dorm room, alongside Ron and Hermione, Harry takes a swig of the Felix felicis and then decides to go visit Hagrid's hut (much to R & H's surprise). Harry dons his invisibility cloak, heads down the stairs, and crosses the Gryffindor common room unseen.

Because he is unseen--which was part of Felix's influence (as Harry had made no suggestion prior to taking the potion that he wished to be sneaking about and because going to Hagrid's required him to sneak out of the castle after hours), the crucial dominos begin to fall.

"What were you doing up there with her?" shrieked Lavender Brown, staring right through Harry at Ron and Hermione emerging together from the boys' dormitories. Harry heard Ron spluttering behind him as he darted across the room away from them. [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 1st American edition, p. 478]

Lavender sees right through Harry and jumps to the wrong conclusion about what Ron and Hermione were doing (alone?) in the boys dorms. And due to this assist from Felix . . . it is the final straw in the faltering relationship of Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown. The two kids get into an argument over Lavender's assumption and Ron finally finds a way to worm out of the relationship that he had wanted to end for weeks.

Ron had been struggling to find a way to stand up to Lavender's single-minded focus on their relationship, but his fundamental insecurity was making that very hard for him to accomplish. He couldn't find a way to break it off and might have limped along for the remainder of the school year in an unhappy pairing. And who knows? It might even have continued through the summer? He couldn't find a way to break up with Lavender during the Christmas holidays either, even though there were signs that he was having some second thoughts. (The "My Sweetheart" bracelet that I don't believe he ever wore and the beginnings of the Won Won nickname began at this point in the school year.)

Hermione, for her part, was not going to actively do anything to drive the final wedge between Ron and Lavender. She has too much pride and inner self-confidence to intervene. In her head* she surely was calculating how long it would take Ron to chuck it with Lavender and come to his senses. So Felix helped them confirm their relationship before things went completely nuts in Year Seven.

Now . . . what about the other couple that Felix affected as Harry departed Gryffindor Tower? It was none other than his own future wife, Ginny Weasley. A girl that Harry had known for six years and all throughout this year at school had been nursing a growing affection for. But he was always talking himself out of it because of his concern that Ron would disapprove (as Ron clearly had done with every other boyfriend that Ginny had dated). And so, Regular Harry was similarly stymied by indecision and hesitancy.

But Felixed Harry knew what to do. Just as Felix felicis told Harry to mysteriously visit Hagrid that evening rather than directly stroll down to Prof. Slughorn's office, the potion made him take a particular path out of the portrait hole just as Dean and Ginny entered.

Getting through the portrait hole was simple; as he approached it, Ginny and Dean came through it, and Harry was able to slip between them. As he did so, he brushed accidentally against Ginny. "Don't push me, please, Dean," she said, sounding annoyed. "You're always doing that. I can get through perfectly well on my own . . ." The portrait swung closed behind Harry, but not before he had heard Dean make an angry retort. . . . [Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 1st American edition, p. 478]

He didn't skirt around them (as I surely would have done if I was under the Invisibility cloak), but Felix felicis nudged Harry directly between them, ensuring that Ginny would mistake his slight touch as another push by Dean.

Why was Dean pushing her? And why had he done this many times before, according to Ginny? This strikes me as odd, since Ginny has long been described as an accomplished Quidditch player, which must mean that she has solid body control. And Rowling would surely have made it clear if Ginny was something of a spaz--which she always did when it came to Tonks' clumsiness.

So what was Dean up to? Maybe it was nothing?

I know that when I get into a argument with Lynda or the kids, I often over-exaggerate the situation to hammer home my point, no matter how ill-conceived it might be. So clearly Ginny was just taking this annoyance that she was already feeling toward Dean and magnifying it. And we know from previous books that Ginny had always harbored a crush on Harry. So, it is not as if Felix felicis was required to ensure their relationship began.

But I still find it curious that the potion went out of its way to move both relationships along when the principle actors in our story could not find a way to get it going themselves.

And if . . . IF they had NOT found a way to come together in the end, then most of these guys wouldn't have "existed."

* How interesting would it be to hear the Harry Potter story as narrated by Hermione? (Though I imagine there are several fan fictions doing that already?)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Party Month/Work Week

Credit: me; Our office good-luck totem gets some Major League-related snark during the stress of Texas review week.

Traditionally, the end of June through most of July is known as Party Month around the Martin house. We begin with Grace's birthday, slide through Lynda's birthday, our anniversary, and into Sarah's birthday. It's a busy time filled with plans, gifts, and all that stuff there.

This year's version was made more intriguing by the additional fun of a big family visit by the Thompsons in Georgia (both parents and brother-in-laws family). And when we have family visits, we go all out and do stuff that we never both to do for ourselves when we are alone.

So we went to Zoombezi Bay. We went to a Clippers baseball game. We went to COSI. We went swimming. We hardly ever stayed still except at night. And we ran our visitors ragged probably, driving them here and there and everywhich way to show of the city and find exciting ways to have a good time. (There is probably a reason why vacations only come around once a year, as they can certainly tire you out.) But everyone said that had a good time and politeness abounded--as it always must when the house gets more crowded with people. But it is good for us to stretch ourselves and shake off the routine and appreciate the many things we have and enjoy--even if we don't really stop to enjoy them as much as we might.

Oh, and did I mention that the run up to Party Month was also "enhanced" by a complete overhaul/remodel of our kitchen? Which we desperately wanted to get done before all the company arrived . . . and which is mostly did. (There are still some wall painting items that are needed to be finished and some other minor bits like that . . . but at least all the cabinets were hung and the floor was replaced and the backsplash and molding was fit and the water was turned on.)

So . . . after all of THAT the normal Party Month festivities got into gear. Grace's 11th birthday was centered around the movie How to Train Your Dragon 2, which we all enjoyed and agreed to be a much better movie-centering party than the LAST time (when Sarah wanted to see the terrible Avatar: The Last Airbender movie). Sadly, Grace did not get a letter to Hogwarts. But there is still hope that Hannah will get one in five more years.

Lynda and I combined the celebration of her birthday and our 19th anniversary into one nice date. And we really had a good time relaxing together and reminding ourselves of our abundant blessings.

Up next is Sarah's birthday . . . which is still a few weeks away. But interposed within the fun of Party Month, I've faced my own Work Week of Hell as my textbook project rubber hits the road of Texas review and evaluation. (In fact, I'm writing this post at the office at 11:30 pm while I want to button up the last few changes to my response document that goes back to the Texas Education Association review panel.)

This project has had its fits and starts, to be sure but if we can get past this major approval hurdle tonight and tomorrow, then a huge roadblock is removed and the possibility of success becomes that much more possible. I surely hope so, as the team has put up with a lot to get the program this far.

I hope it'll all be okay.