The Sorting of Queenie Goldstein

Crimes of Grindelwald spoilers.

Shortly after the first Fantastic Beasts movie, I said that if Queenie went to Hogwarts, she would be a Slytherin. Now that Crimes of Grindelwald is out, all I can say is …

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Hogwarts Mystery: Ravenclaw’s Revenge

Okay, so up until this point I’ve been pretty happy with the Hogwarts Mystery game and the storyline it’s having me follow. But I’m early in year two now and starting to get really annoyed.

First of all, there’s this:

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We needed to get a quill from inside the Gryffindor common room to help find Ben (long story), so Rowan came up with this harebrained plan to get me in there, which involved using reducio and engorgio on myself to sneak in unnoticed while everyone was away at a Quidditch game. The thing is, there was no need to do any of that. It would have made so much more sense to simply hand the first clue over to McGonagall and let her take it from there. She’s his Head of House, she was looking for him, too, and she had already asked us to keep an eye out for anything that might be helpful. I don’t mind having my character break the rules on occasion, but this is just too silly and unnecessary.

But that’s not what’s really bothering me. No, it’s this:

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Are we, now? See, that’s news to me. I didn’t know I, or my character, or Ravenclaw in general, had any particular desire for revenge against Slytherin. In fact, I have yet to see a Ravenclaw character in any part of the Harry Potter world – books, movies, Pottermore, or whatever – spend any considerable amount of time or energy worrying about revenge.

I never got the feeling Ravenclaw as a whole was particularly antagonistic towards Slytherin, either. Their involvement in inter-house rivalries seems limited to Quidditch games and house points and supporting Cedric over Harry in Goblet of Fire. It’s Gryffindor and Slytherin that really hate each other. The Ravenclaw “welcome letter” on Pottermore both criticizes and compliments all three of the other houses. About Slytherin, it says, “They’re not all bad, but you’d do well to be on your guard until you know them well. They’ve got a long house tradition of doing whatever it takes to win”. That’s a far cry from this:

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In fact, this storyline doesn’t seem to fit no matter which house you’re in. Hufflepuffs are probably even less likely to care about revenge than Ravenclaws. Slytherins totally would plot revenge en masse, but they would come up with a better plan than simply using a spell to knock a random … um, Gryffindor, I’m assuming … backwards into a fountain. And I can totally see a Gryffindor doing exactly that if they saw a Slytherin being mean to someone, but they wouldn’t feel the need to have a meeting about it first. They’d just do it.

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Look, my character doesn’t even look happy about this. She doesn’t care about revenge. She doesn’t want to hear “Twenty points from Ravenclaw” when Snape inevitably catches us. And whatever words the game is putting in her mouth, she definitely doesn’t think this plan shows how smart we are in any way.

More Thoughts on Daphne Greengrass

A few minutes ago, I posted a poem from Daphne Greengrass’s point of view. Since she’s really kind of a blank slate of a character, I thought it was worth explaining a bit of my thought process.

Sometimes I like to imagine what a “good Slytherin” from Harry’s generation might have looked like. Not a Draco Malfoy type who turns out to be less evil than he’d like to be, but more of a Professor Slughorn: someone consciously choosing to “live within the light” despite their housemates’ decision to do the opposite. The problem is that all Harry’s Slytherin classmates are so unpleasant, and unlike the adult characters, they all seem to be unquestioningly pro-Voldemort. So when my mind drifts down that route, I have only a few very minor characters to choose from. My ideas usually center around Daphne and Astoria Greengrass.

The two sisters make only one appearance each in the actual Harry Potter books, but Astoria has a major off-screen role in Cursed Child as Scorpius Malfoy’s deceased mother, and is given most of the credit for what a decent person he’s grown up to be. Daphne is there in the background throughout the series as a member of Pansy Parkinson’s giggling gang of Slytherin girls. Neither of them plays any role in the conflict between Harry and Voldemort, so it’s hard to say what they would have thought or who they would have supported. At the very least, they weren’t actively working for Voldemort, and it’s not too much of a stretch to think they might have privately disagreed with their fellow Slytherins who were.

But, then again, what kind of conflict would that have led to with friends and classmates, relatives, future in-laws, etc. who were all either Death Eaters or at least in support of Voldemort? How could you be a decent, “live within the light” sort of person and be able to tolerate being constantly surrounded by evil? Hence, the poem I wrote.

You can read it here: https://hogwartspensieve.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/hate-a-poem-about-daphne-greengrass/

Hate: a Poem about Daphne Greengrass

Read my thought process here: https://hogwartspensieve.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/more-thoughts-on-daphne-greengrass/


Some people hate the Death Eaters
I don’t have that luxury
In this dimly-lit world of silver and green
My home for seven years
There are too many people
Who forgot somewhere along the way
About cunning and ambition
And let themselves become pawns
Easily sacrificed
That should not be the Slytherin way

Some people hate the Death Eaters
I don’t have that luxury
When my best friend whispers in my ear
That her life’s ambition
Is to serve a man I hate
And my little sister
Sighs and doodles hearts on her parchment
Yearning for a boy already lost
To the darkness

Some people hate the Death Eaters
I don’t have that luxury
They come over in the summer to have tea with my parents
And praise my high marks in school
And whisper offers to bring me into
Their inner circle
But I shake my head
I cannot hate these pawns of the Dark Lord
If I did, I would hate nearly everyone I know
And become a bitter shell of hatred
No better than them
But
I can hate what they stand for

Some people hate the Death Eaters
I don’t have that luxury
Even many years later
When I have left the dimly-lit common room behind
And the war has faded to memory
A fake coin that belonged to my husband rusting in a box on the dresser
Even now, every weekend
I go to my brother-in-law’s house for tea
We talk about the weather
About quidditch
About his son and my daughter
But we don’t mention her
His wife, my sister
Just a memory now, too – a memory we both loved
And where there was love, I cannot hate

Sorting Hat Saturday: “Mad Eye” Moody

Continuing the project I started last week of sorting adult Harry Potter characters whose houses are unknown, this week I’m looking at Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody. He was definitely a difficult one, both because he’s so secretive and because he embodies traits of every single house. He’s brave, he’s loyal, he’s intelligent, and he’s cunning. But which house does he fit into best?

Not Hufflepuff. That’s my first thought. While it’s true that he’s hard-working, as well as being loyal to Dumbledore and the Order, he’s so distrustful and paranoid that it’s almost impossible to imagine him among the team players of Hufflepuff. Ravenclaw is also unlikely. While Moody has a brilliant mind and is – like many Ravenclaws – a bit eccentric, he doesn’t seem to value knowledge for its own sake. He’s far too practical for that.

Gryffindor might be the logical choice. And yet, I’m not sure that’s a good fit, either. Moody’s bravery is different from Harry’s or Lily’s or even Dumbledore’s. In Order of the Phoenix, the portrait of a former Hogwarts Headmaster tells Harry, “We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not foolish … Given the choice, we would always choose to save our own skins.” There’s not a lot of evidence of that, though, in the characters’ actions. Many of the Slytherin characters are just cowards, no bravery involved at all, but then you’ve got Regulus Black sacrificing his life for a chance to bring Voldemort down – not exactly saving his own skin. I suppose Snape would describe himself as “brave but not foolish”, but I think it might be an even better description of Moody. For an Order member and an Auror, bravery is pretty much in the job description. But he is not “foolish” – ie. reckless and self-sacrificing in the way Gryffindors tend to be. In fact, he’s kind of paranoid about his own survival. He drinks only from his own flask because he’s afraid of being poisoned, and he trusts nobody, not even his fellow Order members.

What about the other Slytherin traits? He can be ruthless at times, for example suggesting that the Ministry take Karkaroff’s information and then send him back to Azkaban. And he’s cunning, too: while it’s the fake Moody who claims, “It was once my job to think as Dark Wizards do”, the comment seems fairly accurate and is taken in stride by those who know the real Moody well. Having been in the same House as many dark wizards at Hogwarts would only have helped him there. He’s clever and strategic enough not only to lay a false trail as to when Harry will be moved from Privet Drive, but also to realize that they still need to be prepared for battle. Besides, there’s the fact that his house was undisclosed in his Ministry file. That’s definitely something a Slytherin would do; a Hogwarts House gives valuable insight that could easily be used against you, or provide an element of surprise when the enemy doesn’t know exactly what to expect.

Dumbledore seems to trust Moody a great deal. Would he really place that kind of trust in a Slytherin? I think so, under the right circumstances. If Moody was a Slytherin, and if he went to Hogwarts during Voldemort’s rise to power (which he must have), he clearly chose not to associate with his future Death Eater peers, perhaps even gravitating toward Dumbledore as a teacher and role model. Dumbledore did not hesitate to trust Snape, and I strongly suspect that Mundungus Fletcher was also a graduate of Slytherin, so there’s no reason other members of the Order could not be as well.

What if Helena Ravenclaw was Slytherin’s protégé?

Silly question, I know. She wouldn’t have even been in his house; she was a Ravenclaw, after all. But they have a lot in common. They both played a direct part in the founding of Hogwarts, Slytherin as one of the founders, Helena as a founder’s child and part of the first generation of students. They both grew apart from the other three founders and eventually fled the castle, never to return. They both did something or took something with them that left Hogwarts in a fractured state. And they both played an unknowing role in Voldemort’s rise to power, Slytherin as his ancestor and inspiration, Helena by telling him where to find Ravenclaw’s lost diadem.

Helena didn’t have the greatest relationship with her mother, so perhaps there was another teacher she saw as a role model instead – and there’s not much Gryffindor or Hufflepuff about her. Perhaps she looked up to Slytherin and wanted to be more like him; perhaps he even told her that if she weren’t Rowena’s daughter, he would have picked her for his own house. The lover who comes to find her when she runs away was a Slytherin, so perhaps she associated herself with Slytherin house in other ways as well.

Depending on the timing, her decision to steal the diadem and flee might even have been influenced by Slytherin’s own departure. She didn’t steal it out of longing for the wisdom it could bring, but rather, because she thought it would help her become greater than her mother. That’s pure ambition right there. If she witnessed Slytherin’s fight with Gryffindor and subsequent departure, if she knew what he had left lurking inside the school, if she saw the growing fracture between the houses and perhaps felt torn between her mother and her mentor, she might not have had much reason to want to stay.

Voldemort’s Mistake

When I was writing my Taylor Swift Slytherin playlist, I said this about “Getaway Car”:

It’s not that Slytherins are in any way incapable of loyalty, but they are loyal to themselves first, along with perhaps one or two others. The driver of a getaway car, the rebound boyfriend, or the partner-in-crime doesn’t factor into that.

I’ve always thought that one of Voldemort’s biggest mistakes – second only to underestimating love – was making himself an army of nothing but Slytherins – Slytherins who all had their own reasons for joining him, almost none of which were about loyalty to Voldemort.

Dumbledore describes Tom Riddle’s school friends – and by extension, the Death Eaters – as “the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish gravitating toward a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty”. That seems pretty accurate from what we see. The Malfoys and Barty Crouch Jr. are of the ambitious type, Wormtail and Snape are definitely the “weak seeking protection”, and Bellatrix Lestrange and Fenrir Greyback are in it out of bloodlust. While they all gravitate toward Voldemort as a leader and are on board with his poisonous rhetoric, in a way, he’s just that getaway car driver.

No, that’s not quite right. For Bellatrix, he’s everything. Maybe for Barty Crouch Jr., too. Their primary loyalty is to Voldemort even more than to themselves. But they’re unusual exceptions among Voldemort’s followers. The Malfoys are loyal to their family first. Wormtail is loyal only to himself. Snape is loyal to the memory of Lily Potter before either Dumbledore or Voldemort. This is a group of people who, when they finally managed to capture Harry and his friends, spent so long arguing over who would summon Voldemort that they ended up escaping. There is basically no unity among them, and a common cause in name only; they’re in it for themselves. Their ambitions clash and their ruthless natures mean a lot of betrayals. In other words, they are all Slytherins and all want to be on top.

In contrast, the Order of the Phoenix is made up of people from all four houses, and Dumbledore’s Army is made up of three. From Hufflepuffs with their work ethics and unfailing loyalty, to Ravenclaws with their wisdom and creative thinking, to Slytherins who spy and work in secret, to Gryffindors burning with passion for a righteous cause, they are far from homogenous, and their members’ strengths complement each other. As the Sorting Hat warns at the beginning of the fifth book, the Houses are stronger together and, divided, don’t stand a chance.