Today I realized that Ginny Weasley was born just after the fall of Voldemort.
Meaning Molly Weasley was pregnant during the height of Voldemort’s power.
I can only assume, first off, that Ginny was in no way planned.
But also Ginny’s Hogwarts class must have been one of the smallest in history. Putting aside the fact that so many people had died, anyone who was alive certainly wasn’t interested in making babies.
In that case, it must also be assumed that Ginny’s class was high in muggle-borns.
Meaning Ginny’s class could have been one of the most accepting of muggle-borns at Hogwarts. They had to be, muggle-borns made up the majority.
Which leads me to the thought that Voldemort, in trying to eliminate muggle-borns altogether, actually created the situation that would have brought about their ultimate acceptance.
WAIT WAIT WAIT ALSO
Ginny’s birth is sort of magical in and of itself. Like a victory baby. She was born today, a little over a week after the fall of Voldemort. She was the seventh child of a seventh child, which is important because of the importance of the number 7 to wizards. It’s considered a highly magical number. Plus, she’s the first girl born to the Weasley family in generations. She grows up to be a powerful and accomplished witch, taking out Death Eaters in her fourth year, breaking hearts and taking names in her fifth, leading a fucking revolution in her sixth. Grows up to join a badass all-women Quidditch team.
But for some reason, Harry Oblivious Potter is “The Chosen One”.
AND COME TO THINK OF IT it’s not even anything he did that made him The Chosen One. He became what he was BECAUSE OF ANOTHER BADASS WOMAN, LILY POTTER. She loved her child so much that her love became a magical protection stronger than any spell, strong enough to shred a FUCKING SOUL.
Alright, the world can stop thinking of love as something weak or frilly or pathetic. It’s A BADASS ENTITY, THAT’S WHAT IT IS.
I mean, if you really think of it, the Harry Potter books are the story of how a bunch of badass women created the ultimate weapon against Voldemort out of a toddler, then protected said child from all sorts of shit, including the crackpot ideas of their dubious male “allies”, supported and influenced his efforts, and ultimately destroyed the Dark Lord.
Like, beyond just Lily and Ginny. Who saved Harry and Ron’s ass multiple times? Hermione. Whose idea was Dumbledore’s Army? Hermione.
Who kept the Golden Trio from getting expelled for some of their worse shit and supported skills that would later come in handy in the fight against Voldemort (such as flying)? McGonagall.
Who provided much-needed moral support to Harry when all his friends abandoned him and he was still reeling from watching Voldy return and Cedric die? Luna. Who knew where to look for the fucking diadem? Luna.
Who told them where the diadem was? Helena Ravenclaw.
Who gave Harry the motherly love he desperately needed that probably kept him from being even more troubled than he already was and gave him a positive parental figure when all the other ones were dead or dying in ridiculously stupid and dramatic ways? Molly Weasley.
And the the whole prophecy that set this whole thing off was made by Sibyll Trelawney.
Now firmly believe that the whole “Chosen One” thing was just a codename for a plan devised by a secret society of witches bent on raising the ultimate hero/weapon against the Dark Lord.
Guys, this is legitimately one of my favorite topics. While I may have the occasional “favorite” characters that are male, on the whole, there’s nothing that gets me more passionate about a character than presenting a woman with agency. So, I’m going to be talking about this in parts, so I can share all my many thoughts on this complex topic.
So here’s where we get to Harry Potter. In general, I’m reasonably happy with how women are portrayed in this series (I would have to be, otherwise it would never have a chance of being my favorite, which it definitively is) but that doesn’t mean there’s not things to discuss that aren’t so stellar. In general, I really don’t prescribe to the theory that just because you like something, you shouldn’t criticize it. On the contrary, you really should. Just because something is good, doesn’t mean it can’t be better. And anybody is allowed to enjoy a work that can be problematic, you just can’t simply excuse the problematic elements because you enjoy it.
So let’s get started.
JK Rowling is a queen of writing unique, badass female characters. Hermione Granger, Lily Evans, Ginny Weasley, Minerva McGonagall, Fleur Delacour, Molly Weasley, Madame Maxime, Sibyl Trelawney, Nymphadora Tonks… the list goes on. And all of the women listed here are fantastic examples of women who are all talented and brilliant - and most importantly, none of them are identical. Sometimes women are written very blandly, so that they all come out as these cookie-cutter clones of each other. And these clones might not be inherently offensive, but they’re not valuable either. How many times have we seen the character of the girl who kicks ass and looks good doing it? Well, that’s great. We want kickass women in fiction, but somehow, she never gets deeper development than that, and when it comes down the buzzer, she gets sidelined so that the real hero can get the job done, and all the glory for himself.
That doesn’t exactly happen in Harry Potter. Sure, Harry is the tiutular hero, but exactly 0% of the women I’ve noted above are bland characters, and they all play a part in the story that no one else could have. Additionally, and I can’t stress this enough, these women have flaws. Look guys, a character isn’t a well-written character if they’re perfect. They need to be a little rough around the edges sometimes, or else they aren’t real.
Hermione is ruthless when she needs to be, and stubborn too.
Ginny has a temper, and she’s not going to shy from casting a vicious hex on someone who annoys her.
Madame Maxime has her own internalized prejudices that she has to deal with.
Fleur can be tactless and self-absorbed.
See what I’m saying? These characters are reasonably well-rounded. Flaws are a good thing, because without them, we’d just be putting them on a pedestal, and where’s the fun in that? The good part comes when characters get down and dirty.
So here’s where the distinction comes: flaws are good, but not when a character doesn’t have a single positive trait to balance it out, and the narration comes down on the side of these people being naturally unlikable for no good reason. For the purpose of this section, let’s knock out women like Umbridge and Bellatrix, because the rules get a little screwy when we’re dealing with villains, because we want them to be irredeemable.
Let’s talk about Harry’s classmates. I take some issue with the way non-major characters that happen to be teenage girls are portrayed. Not that it’s the worst case of it in the universe, but there are a few moments where being a teenage girl seems to say that you’re silly. Parvati and Lavender are seen as being shallow and gossipy - and Lavender is occasionally villainized over her relationship with Ron, because God forbid she be clingy or too talkative - and then there’s Marietta Edgecombe. Dear lord, Marietta Edgecombe.
Why is Marietta Edgecombe seen as a horrible, unforgivable snitch for telling Umbridge about the DA? I recognize that as a readership we want to root for the DA’s continued existence, but really? This a girl caving to familial and societal pressure - her parents have jobs at the Ministry - and letting secrets slip to an authority figure who has been known to use torture. Really? Are we going to make Marietta a monster? REALLY?
Yeah, so I don’t like the trivialization of adolescent girls. I’m definitely not saying that this was intentional, but you know, that doesn’t make it fine. It seems like the narration implies that if a girl isn’t a freedom fighter by the age of fifteen, she’s shallow and malicious. I mean, Cho Chang is in the DA, but she comes off the worse for standing by Marietta and crying occasionally about her dead boyfriend. But I’ve already shared my feelings extensively on Cho Chang. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit here, but something about these characterizations rubbed me the wrong way. Lavender Brown was a talented student of Divination, but her passionate interest in the subject is never given the same validity as say, Neville’s passion for Herbology.
Look, I’m just saying there are more layers on these characters to be explored, and I don’t like seeing them dismissed because they aren’t the leaders of a revolution. Because when I was seventeen, my day to day life would have been a hell of a lot closer to what Parvati and Lavender are going through - and even they show up at the DA meetings. They’re simply not unaware of the climate. They want to protect themselves and their families. They just happen to also like giggling and gossiping.
And why not? Those things are fun.
So basically, let’s applaud our Hermiones and our Tonkses, because they are spectacular, but let’s also not tear down our Lavenders. ‘Cause let’s be real, they’re all rad.
Can you explain the Lily and James being in hiding thing please?
Oh, boy. I will try.
This, as far as I can tell, is the canon timeline.(Please correct me if I’ve missed something, alright?)
Harry was born on July 31st, 1980. We don’t know if he was a few weeks early, a few weeks late, or right on time, so his conception date is somewhere between mid-October to mid-November 1979 (conception date for a baby actually due on July 31st is November 7th). They definitely thought Harry would qualify for the prophecy, so his due date had to be within that time frame…
For the longest time, we all thought that James and Lily had gone into hiding one week before the Fidelius charm is cast, in late October, 1981, as is mentioned in PoA. This makes sense until we talk about the prophecy in later books. Whether JK didn’t take this into account when she wrote PoA or not, I don’t know, but it seems likely.
Sybill Trelawney’s first prophecy was made in 1980-best as we can tell, early 1980. Dumbledore gives us a closer approximation of the time when he says, ”On a cold, wet night sixteen years ago, in a room above a bar at the Hog’s Head Inn…” (OotP, 37) Working backwards, it’s 1980, cold & wet implies early spring. Also, the prophecy tells us that the baby approaches, so she is pregnant when the prophecy is made.
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”
Dumbledore tells Harry in OotP “‘As you and your friends found out to your cost, and I to mine that night, it is a place where it is never safe to assume you are not being overheard. Of course, I had not dreamed, when I set out to meet Sibyll Trelawney, that I would hear anything worth overhearing. My-our-one stroke of good fortune was that the eavesdropper was detected only a short way into the prophecy and thrown from the building.’ ‘So he only heard…?’ ‘He heard only the first part, the part foretelling the birth of a boy in July to parents who had thrice defied Voldemort. Consequently, he could not warn his master that to attack you would be ti risk transferring power to you…’”
Here, we find out that someone overheard the prophecy-a follower of Voldemort’s-which is how Voldemort finds out about it at all.
The story picks up in the Prince’s Tale, ch 33/DH.. “Harry seemed to fly through shifting shapes and colors until his surroundings solidified again and he stood on a hilltop, forlorn and cold in the darkness, the wind whistling through the branches of a few leafless trees….”
Here, we are given the same picture, that it’s still cold, that it’s forlorn, It’s very windy, and the trees are mostly leafless. Early spring, right? Certainly not summer, when the leaves would be full, when it would be warm. And it could be fall, but that doesn’t hold water with what we’re told later.
“‘Well, Severus, What message does Lord Voldemort have for me?’ ‘No-no message-I’m here on my own account!’ Snape was wringing his hands: He looked a little mad… ‘What request could a Death Eater make of me?’ ‘The-the prophecy…the prediction…Trelawney…’ ‘Ah, yes,’ said Dumbledore. ‘How much did you relay to Lord Voldemort?’ ‘Everything-everything I heard!’ said Snape. ‘That is why-it is for that reason-he thinks it means Lily Evans!’ ‘The prophecy does not refer to a woman,’ said Dumbledore. ‘It spoke of a boy born at the end of July…’ ‘You know what I mean! He thinks it means her son, he is going to hunt her down-kill them all-’ 'If she means so much to you,’ said Dumbledore, 'surely Lord Voldemort will spare her?’ Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the son?’ 'I have-I have asked him-’ 'You disgust me,’ said Dumbledore, and Harry had never heard so much contempt in his voice. Snape seemed to shrink a little. 'You do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?’ Snape said nothing, but merely looked up at Dumbledore. 'Hide them all, then,’ he croaked. 'Keep her-them-safe. Please.’ 'And what will you give me in return, Severus?’ 'In-in return?’ Snape gaped at Dumbledore, and Harry expected him to protest, but after a long moment he said, 'Anything.'”
So…Snape told Voldemort everything, Voldemort thought it meant the Potters and was going to come after them. My problem with this, in terms of the timeline JK sets up for us-that it all happened while she was pregnant-because it mentions that they have a son, two or three times, implying that she’s already given birth.
However, Snape wouldn’t sit on this information, right? He would tell Voldemort about the prophecy immediately. And Voldemort wouldn’t sit on knowledge like this, he would decide a course of action-who to go after-immediately. For me, logically, it does stand to reason that the prophecy, Snape telling Voldemort about the prophecy, Voldemort deciding it was the Potters, and Snape coming to warn Dumbledore all happened within a very short period of time.
So that’s what they did, they left school. James has gold, enough to support Sirius and Lily. So I suppose they lived off a private income. But they were full-time fighters, that’s what they did, until Lily fell pregnant with Harry. So then they went into hiding.
She doesn’t say that they go into hiding when Harry was born, or after, but when Lily was still pregnant. This is further confirmed by Lily’s letter to Padfoot, which establishes that during Harry’s first birthday in July, they’d been in hiding for quite some time.
Are there a few gaps in this? Yes. But JK has written this amazing, intricate series and this-timelines, it’s her biggest flaw. That there are a few holes in not the least bit surprising.
She does give us the confirmation that they went into hiding while she was pregnant, and as it’s the same interview where she tells us Dumbledore was gay, that Neville marries Hannah Abbot, and those are widely accepted as canon, I think we ought to consider this canon as well.
1977-1978-Lily & James get together, possibly defy Voldemort once 1978-1979-Lily & James get married, fight full time in the Order, narrowly escape Voldemort three times Oct-Nov 1979-Harry is conceived early 1980-prophecy is made early 1980-prophecy is told to Voldemort, who decides to go after the Potters early 1980-Snape warns Dumbledore early 1980-the Potters go into hiding, presumably at Godric’s Hollow, which (my headcanon, is a place that Dumbledore found for them, since it is his neighborhood, so to speak, and he would be familiar with it) July 1980-Harry is born October 1981-Fidelius charm is cast October 31, 1981-dead
I hope that this has been helpful and not a rambling mess.
Sibyl Trelawney: How Many Prophecies Could a Prophetess Prophesize if a Prophetess Could Prophesize Prophecies?
Let’s talk about Sibyl Trelawney.
I’m going to make a bold statement and say that of all the characters in the Harry Potter series, Professor Trelawney is the one that leads to the most ‘ohoho, I see what you did there, Rowling’ moments.
Also, can I just take a moment to thank her parents for naming their daughter Sibyl? Just… thank you. I don’t know why this particular meaningful name tickles me more than all the others (considering, as many folks on tumblr has pointed out, Lupin’s name might as well have been Wolfy McWerewolfson) but for some reason this name choice really hits my funny bone.
I mean, I guess her name could have been wishful thinking, now that I’m considering it. After all, her great-great-grandmother was a seer, and maybe the Trelawneys were hoping for another one. But… here’s what particularly interests me about Sibyl Trelawney: deep down, does she even truly believe that she’s a prophetess?
I think we can all agree that Trelawney is the real deal, even if she does come off as a bit of a fraud. But the remarkable thing is that while she is genuine, I’m not even sure if Sibyl knows that. We know for a fact that on two occasions of real prophecy (in Harry’s Divination final and with Dumbledore in the Hog’s Head) she wasn’t even aware that she had made one.
So I have to ask: in Trelawney’s own mind, is she cleverly stumbling through teaching Divination in a Shawn Spencer-like long con? Or does she believe that she is a seer, although not a particularly strong one? Because while she clearly does have the gift, Sibyl herself seems to have no evidence of it.
In fact, we even have a third case of Trelawney making an accurate prediction and then brushing it off as incorrect. Once, when Harry was hiding from her in a corridor, she was shuffling a deck of cards and saying, "A dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner… Well, that can’t be right.“ Right on the nose, Professor.
At the same time, she was also predicting her traditional doom and gloom, including a clear reference to Dumbledore’s death on the Astronomy Tower. And while we might call foul on her continual statements that people are going to die horribly, considering the rather high body count in this series and the social climate at Hogwarts at the time, one might want to consider that Trelawney was just playing it safe with her "fake” prophecies.
But really, I find the reality of Trelawney’s powers to be so interesting. Did she know she had them or not? My guess would be that she was under the impression that she had a little spark, but was exaggerating it. And if that’s the case, this puts her interactions with her class in a fascinating light.
Did she tell Neville he would break a teacup knowing that this would cause him to be nervous, thus ensuring that he would break it? Did she predict that one of the class’ number would “leave them forever”, knowing that at least one student usually ended up dropping the class? That would be very clever indeed if that was the case! What if all this time, Trelawney was playing safe bets?
Truly, I find the topic of Sibyl Trelawney to be endlessly interesting. I could go around and around in circles on this forever. What if with Trelawney, what you see is what you get, and she really did believe she was the real deal? What if every student whose death she predicted died in the Battle of Hogwarts? What if?
Seriously, I would love to hear all of your interpretations. This character is wonderful food for thought.
Gabrielle Delacour and Dennis Creevey form an indie band in the style of She and Him, whittling their own instruments and charming their elbow patches to colour-change in a succession of pastel hues.
Cormac McLaggen and Oliver Wood attain spiritual enlightenment and form a wildly unpopular Quidditch team named the Sheffield Shamans, which is wracked by immediate discord as they are unable to agree on a single element of strategy.
Romilda Vane and Ludo Bagman team up to run a series of tower heists abroad, wherein she plays the expert curse-breaker and he seduces the target to provide a diversion.
Marietta Edgecombe and Zacharias Smith open a bar called Bitter Butterbeer where the sourest of their entourage can gather to grouse about those darn war heroes who think they’re something special.
Albert Runcorn embezzles gold from Reginald Cattermole, only to realize that mild old Reg has been playing him and is running a sting operation on behalf of the Auror office. Runcorn turns on Dolores, his associate, and he and Cattermole become a redoubtable undercover duo.
Sibyll Trelawney marries spitfire skeptic Alicia Spinnet after discovering their mutual love for traditional 1930’s Veela Salsa music, and they literally DO NOT GIVE A BOWTRUCKLE’S BALLS what you have to say about their age difference.
Hannah Abbot, closet Gilderoy Lockhart superfan, visits him in Mungo’s every week after the war, eventually helping him to recover his memories. In exchange, Lockhart teaches her how to woo Neville Longbottom.
Stan Shunpike becomes the warden of a Dementor-free Azkaban and, with the help of plucky inmate Millicent Bullstrode, initiates a poker night tradition that will become the stuff of cell block B legend.
Charlie Weasley discovers a new, exceedingly rare breed of dragon, and accords Xenophilius Lovegood an exclusive interview, the final draft of which paints the story as a twelve-part epic complete with inter-species Legilimency.
Padma Patil takes over as lead singer of the Hobgoblins after Stan Shunkpike’s disgraced exit. For the hell of it, she also gets a masters degree in particle physics from Oxford. At an alumni banquet, she meets Dudley Dursley. Once they are married, she delights in terrifying him with colourful displays of magic every day of their lives.
Irma Pince and Argus Filch are forced to attend their own joint retirement party wearing funny hats. They don’t think it’s very funny.
Side by side, Griphook and Firenze open a blacksmith’s and a divinery in the North end of Diagon, becoming the first non-human London shop owners. Protestors can have very little to say in the face of the undeniably superior quality of their services.
Dawlish and Proudfoot plot to take down the Ministry from within using a combination of dark magic and gum disease.