Saturday, June 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Part II

I intended to do this all as one post, but the first was so long, I thought it best to break it into two parts.

After Molly's run-in with the boggart, the trio headed back to Hogwarts, with Ron and Hermione, newly appointed prefects, riding in a separate car from Harry, for the first time since Harry and Ron first met. Harry ends up with Neville and Ginny in a car with Luna Lovegood. Luna, sometimes called Loony by other students, is a bit, well, odd. It's obvious, and Luna seems to know and accept that she is different.

Luna seems like nothing more than comic relief, and she does make us laugh, and Harry as well. But Luna is so much more. She is sometimes the one person who is able to calm Harry's fears and sooth his grief. When they arrive at Hogwarts, Harry sees the thestrals that have always pulled the "horseless" carriages--something he could not see before because he had not seen death.

Chapter Twenty-Four: "Occlumency"

This chapter begins with a note that it turns out that Kreacher had been lurking in the attic, where Sirius had found him:

no doubt looking for more relics of the Black family to hide in his cupboard. Though Sirius seemed satisfied with this story, it made Harry uneasy. Kreacher seemed to be in a better mood on his reappearance, his bitter muttering had subsided somewhat, and he submitted to orders more docilely than usual, though once or twice Harry caught the house-elf staring avidly at him, always looking quickly away when he saw that Harry had noticed. (US, Chap. 24, p. 516)

This is one of those brilliant misdirections from Rowling. We are, by this time, fairly used to Harry not being right about what he sees, but he's dead on with this one. Kreacher may have been found in the attic, but he certainly, it turns out, wasn't there the whole time. Instead, he'd been off to visit another Black family member--one that he respected, which may be why he was able to disobey Sirius--or at least not to stick to the strict letter of the law regarding house-elves and their masters.

After Harry's foray into Voldemort's mind, when he sees the snake attacking Arthur at the Ministy, and feels that he WAS the snake, some of Harry's fears are calmed by talks with Sirius and with Ron, Hermione and Ginny. And then comes the big blow, shortly before they return to school--Snape arrives at twelve, Grimmauld Place and tells Harry that he will be taking Occlumency lessons when he returns to Hogwarts--and his teacher for these private lessons will be none other than himself, Professor Snape.

We haven't heard about Occlumency before this, but I think we have seen it used. Snape makes a lot of eye contact with Harry, and Harry usually stares right back, feeling that it's like making and maintaining eye contact with a hippogryff. Harry has the feeling several times with Snape and with Dumbledore that they know what he is thinking. Just how much they are getting by using Occlumency and how much they get because Harry isn't good at masking his emotions, isn't clear, even by the end of the sixth book.

Here's what we learn from Snape as he tells Harry about his upcoming Occlumency lessons, all the while observed by a glowering Sirius:

1. Dumbledore has ordered that Harry study Occlumency this term.

2. It is "the magical defense of the mind against external penetration. An obscure branch of magic, but a highly useful one." (Snape, US, p. 519)

3. Why? Because Dumbledore thinks it's a good idea.

4. Snape: "You will receive private lessons once a week, but you will not tell anybody what you are doing, least of all Dolores Umbridge." (US, p. 519)

5. Sirius voices what Harry is thinking--why can't Dumbledore teach him? Snape replies:

"I suppose because it is a headmaster's privilege to delegate less enjoyable tasks," said Snape silkily. "I assure you I did not bet for the job." (US, p. 519)

This scene then disintigrates into Snape goading Sirius, and the two of them squaring off, ready to end their feud, and only prevented from doing so by Harry's intevention and the entrance of the Weasley family.

We learn later that Dumbledore does have a different reason for not giving Harry the lessons, but Snape just couldn't pass up the chance to take more pot shots at Sirius. I have to wonder if the explanation might have been delivered and received better had Sirius left the two of them alone.

Harry, of course, does tell Ron and Hermione about the lessons, even though Snape told him to tell no one. Once back at school, though, Harry does obey and tells the rest of the students that he has to take extra potions lessons--Remedial Potions, as Zacharias Smith points out, adding:

"Good Lord, you must be terrible, Snape doesn't usually give extra lessons, does he?" (US, p. 527)
And Harry realizes that that's what everyone is going to think, that he's really stupid.

Cho, the great distraction in Harry's life in Order of the Phoenix, shows up, and after a bit of stammering, Harry manages to ask her out--Hogsmeade on Valentine's Day.

Harry goes to Snape's office at 6 o'clock. It's the same except for Dumbledore's Pensieve on the desk. Now, it seems to me that a Pensieve would be a very personal item, and I think seeing it there for Snape to use, is one more clue that Dumbledore trusts him. And does this mean that Dumbledore takes all his thoughts out of the Pensieve so that Snape doesn't have access to any of Dumbledore's memories?

There are a number of things I thought about with this particular Occlumency lesson. I think it's simpler to just go through them. Snape indicates that Harry should sit down in a chair across from his desk, and when he does so:

so did Snape, his cold black eyes fixed unblinkingly upon Harry, dislike etched in every line of his face. (US, p. 529)

This is the first opportunity that Snape has to harm Harry. They are alone, and the lessons, it turns out, are quite disturbing and invasive, yet Harry does come out of them, albeit not without being mentally shaken. Harry sees dislike on Snape's face, but is it dislike for Harry or for the task that Dumbledore has set him? Is Snape even able to see Harry as anyone other than James? I think so much of the time that Snape automatically sees James that Harry just gets lost to him. It's also possible, that if Snape and Lily were friends, that every time he looks into those eyes that everyone says are Lily's, that Snape is once again painfully reminded that she is dead and Harry survived, all at the hands of Voldemort, and all because of some involvement on Snape's part. I think we still only know a portion of this, even after Half-Blood Prince.

The lesson begins with Snape telling Harry what Occlumency involves, but only because Harry keeps asking questions, after Snape establishes that Harry is still to afford him the respect that is his due as Harry's teacher.

"And why does Professor Dumbledore think I need it, sir?" said Harry, looking directly into Snape's dark, cold eyes and wondering whether he would answer.

Snape looked back at him for a moment and then said contemptuously, "Surely even you could have worked that out by now, Potter? The Dark Lord is highly skilled at Legilimency-"

"What's that? Sir?"

"It is the ability to extract feelings and memories from another person's mind--" (US, p. 530)

Dark Lord? Hmmm, why does it take Harry so long before he finally asks Snape about the use of this term? Distracted, I suppose, by all the new information he's finally getting. So it turns out that the "Dark Lord" is adept at Legilimency, but what's easy to miss is that Harry is also. He has been unintentionally doing Legilimency for a very long time--every time, in fact, that his scar hurt. He just hasn't known what was happening.

Harry likens it to mind reading, and Snape says it's not the same at all. Even with all his barbs aimed at Harry, Snape does give him a lot of information. But it's often hard to hear information when it's delivered with sarcasm and insults, which is exactly what Snape does.

There might be something else going on, but this is definitely a guess. I can't quite get to the Scar-Horcrux idea, but tend to think that Harry has a distinctly unique mental connection to Voldemort as a result of the rebounded curse--that it is a mental connection and not a soul connection. Part of the reason for my thinking that is that Rowling, as I said before, makes a clear distinction between the soul and the mind; they are not the same and interchangeable. She makes that differentiation with what happens to a person on the receiving end of a Dementor's Kiss, and in HBP with what has happened to Voldemort--even though he has mutilated his soul beyond repair, and even if Harry destroys all the Horcruxes, Voldemort's body and magical abilities will live on. That, to me, points to Harry's scar not needing to be a Horcrux for there to be a connection forged between Voldemort and Harry at the time of the rebounded Avada Kedavra curse. (This may very well be one of those ideas that will need adjustment once we read Deathly Hallows, but until then, I'm following the line that it's all mental and not some sort of joining of Harry's and Voldemort's souls.)

Whatever Dumbledore and Snape think is going on, it's clear that this mental connection isn't behaving normally. Legilimency usually requires eye contact, but with Harry and Voldemort, it happens over great distances. They are in uncharted waters with this one, but they can no longer ignore it after Harry's incursion into Voldemort's mind before Christmas; now Voldemort is aware that Harry has access to his thoughts, which means that Voldemort might chose to intrude into Harry's mind.

Caution is required to ensure that what Harry sees and thinks does not give away any secrets of the Order of the Phoenix. Much later, Harry learns that was precisely the reason that Dumbledore didn't teach Harry Occlumency, or spend much time with him, or even make eye contact with him most of the year--it would have given Voldemort too much possible access to Dumbledore's mind.

So Snape is tapped for the job instead. As a spy, however, he is now walking a tight rope. One misstep, one show of any friendship to Harry would destroy his credibility with Voldemort. That may also be the reason for the look of dislike, and certainly for the rather cryptic answers, that Snape gives about what Occlumency is. It seems that this puts Snape at great risk of having his own thoughts, thoughts he may have previously hidden from Voldemort, layed bare for the "Dark Lord" to see. Hence, the reason for the Pensieve--Snape needs a safe place for any thoughts that might show he is not as loyal to Voldemort as he'd like Voldemort to think. Nor does he want to give Voldemort any memories of his own that could be used against him later.

Snape tells Harry:

"It is true, however, that those who have mastered Legilimency are able, under certain circumstances, to delve into the minds of their victims and to interpret their findings correctly. The Dark Lord, for instance, almost always knows when somebody is lying to him. Only those skilled at Occlumency are able to shut down those feelings and memories that contradict the lie, and so utter falsehoods in his presence without detection." (US, p. 531)

Harry thinks it still sounds like mind-reading, and it does, except that it's not just seeing what a person is thinking right now; rather, it gives an accomplished Legilimens access to past actions and thoughts and emotions, in some cases things the person may have forgotten on a conscious level. But more importantly, what Snape is actually telling Harry is that he, Snape, has mastered Occlumency to the point that he is able to lie to Voldemort undetected. As a spy, that is probably the only thing that has kept Snape alive so long.

Harry wonders if Voldemort knows what they are thinking at the moment. Not under the normal rules of Legilimency, according to Snape. Hogwarts is guarded by ancient spells and charms to protect those within the school (possibly another reason for Snape to stay at Hogwarts--it's likely one of the very few places where he is safe from Voldemort).

We finally get to some of the reason Harry needs these lessons, when Snape tells Harry that "Time and space matter in magic, Potter. Eye contact is often essential to Legilimency." (This seems to foreshadow Harry's visit to the Department of Mysteries where one of the rooms is "Time" and one is "Space", but how and why those are important are some of those loose ends that still need tying.)

Snape looks at Harry, seeming to be intent on not giving him information, but it's possible that he needed to think of a way to word the information so Harry doesn't know so much that he inadvertantly tips off Voldemort to what they are doing.

"The usual rules do not seem to apply with you, Potter. The curse that failed to kill you seems to have forged some kind of connection between you and the Dark Lord. The evidence suggests that at times, when your mind is most relaxed and vulnerable--when you are asleep, for instance--you are sharing the Dark Lord's thoughts and emotions. The headmaster thinks it inadvisable for this to continue. He wishes me to teach you how to close your mind to the Dark Lord." (US, p. 531)

In case we missed it the first time, Snape has now used that particular name for Voldemort four times in just two pages.

This is where I wrote several thoughts in the margin of my book. Snape who is apparently quite accomplished at hiding his thoughts and memories from Voldemort might just be better at it than even Dumbledore. If Snape is able to close his mind to Voldemort, then why doesn't Dumbledore just do the same and teach Harry himself? Because he isn't as accomplished as Severus, or perhaps it is an issue of Dumbledore not having the time for the lessons.

Most of Snape's explanation works well, except that Harry has had visions or experienced Voldemort's emotions while awake, specifically when he was in detention with Umbridge and he had that jolt when she touched his hand. Harry didn't recognize what it was until later, but he clearly wasn't asleep, nor was he relaxed. Apparently Snape and Dumbledore don't know the full extent of Harry's mental incursions into Voldemort's mind.

And for the moment, as Snape explains to Harry, Voldemort isn't aware of the connection either--until recently. Now that he is, Dumbledore understands the risk, but chooses not to explain it to Harry. Here is the real possibility of Voldemort using this connection to his advantage, just as it was to Harry's advantage when he was able to save Arthur's life by seeing the attack and alerting Dumbledore and the Order.

Harry once again asks a question about "Voldemort", and is severely reprimanded by Snape for using the name. When Harry points out that Dumbledore says his name, Snape's response is quite interesting, given that Dumbledore isn't the only one who uses Voldemort instead of one of the common euphemisms, though it is only other members of the Order of the Phoenix--and not all of them at that.

"Dumbledore is an extremely powerful wizard," Snape muttered. "While he may feel secure enough to use the name. . . the rest of us. . ." He rubbed his left forearm, apparently unconsciously, on the spot where Harry knew the Dark Mark was burned into his skin. (US, p. 532)

Every word that Snape utters is now in Harry's memory, and potentially available to Voldemort. Snape has to be doubly cautious about what he says, how he refers to Voldemort, which is just what he is doing here. There's no sign of disrespect towards Voldemort in what Snape says. And the gesture of rubbing his arm where the Dark Mark is could be a direct clue to just how that works. We have learned that Voldemort can touch the Dark Mark on any Death Eater's arm and it will summon the rest of them, but what happens if one of the Death Eaters dares to speak Voldemort's name? Does that somehow alert Voldemort to their actions or thoughts? It seems it is the sort of thing he would build into this system of total control that he has once someone becomes a Death Eater.

Harry still wants more definite answers, but when he persists, Snape only tells him that "we know".

"The important point is that the Dark Lord is now aware that you are gaining access to his thoughts and feelings. He has also deduced that the process is likely to work in reverse; that is to say, he has realized that he might be able to access your thoughts and feelings in return--" (US, p. 533)

Is Snape guessing? It sounds like he and Dumbledore are fairly certain of what Voldemort now knows. After Voldemort's return at the end of the Triwizard Tournament, Dumbledore sent Snape on a mission, one that was never clearly spelled out, but which Harry and we, the readers, assumed meant that he went to Voldemort to resume his status as a loyal Death Eater, at the instructions of Dumbledore. During that time, he must be having contact with Voldemort and the other Death Eaters, otherwise he would have nothing useful to report to the Order.

All of this revolves around what we believe of Snape's actions and loyalties. If Snape is a spy, working for Dumbledore, then Harry is not at risk. Snape seems intent on not giving Harry too much information, or at least not more than Harry might work out on his own. If Snape is actually loyal to Voldemort, then he could be setting him up so that his mind would be more open.

Is Dumbledore that bad at judging the character and the loyalty of someone he has known since the age of eleven? We tend to think of their relationship as teacher and headmaster, but Dumbledore first met Severus Snape when Snape came to Hogwarts as an eleven year old. He seems to know everything that goes on in the castle, but prefers not to interfer, giving the students the opportunity to work out their own problems.

It seems to me that if Dumbledore weren't 100% convinced of Snape's loyalty and trustworthiness, he would be putting Harry at great risk by having Snape teach Harry something so potentially dangerous, alone and unsupervised. I can't believe that Dumbledore would make that kind of error in judgement. It's one thing to say, and Dumbledore himself says it, that he has made mistakes, but this kind of error would make Dumbledore foolish beyond belief. That's just not something that I believe Rowling intends with the wise mentor figure.

It's now time for the actual Occlumency lessons, but I'll come back to that at a later time.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Part I

With only eighteen days left until my favorite (at least by a slight margin) Harry Potter book becomes the fifth Harry Potter movie (and it looks like it might be my favorite as well), I've been re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and making notes as I read. As I'm also re-reading Half-Blood Prince, which is only 28 days and a few hours from being in my hot little hands, I'm trying to keep things straight. I've found with both that there are certain chapters that just seem to hold the most information, the crucial information, that we need before we begin the last and final book of this amazing series.

With the other books, I've made some attempts to do a chapter by chapter entry, guided by the Reading Groups at The Leaky Lounge, but I've fallen behind, and I've decided that it's more feasible to just go by my notes that I've made while reading these last two books. Notes, mind you, in the margins, and on the blank pages at the end of the books, making these last two books look like something that would make the Prince proud. Of course, the Prince would likely find my notes boring and tedious or not worthy of his time. But they are my way of trying to sort out some of the details of the books.


One of the things that I like best about Order of the Phoenix is the thing that many Harry Potter readers liked least. Finally, I thought, as I got past the first few disturbing episodes of Harry yelling at everyone and being grumpy and feeling misunderstood, unappreciated, ignored and sometimes even bullying (or thinking of it) his awful cousin Dudley, we have Harry who has at last realized that life has dealt him a rotten hand and he isn't happy about it. To me, even if he had not seen Cedric killed in the graveyard and had not seen the rebirth of Voldemort and been betrayed by Moody (fake one, it turns out), Harry still should have been saying "Why has all this happened to me? Why hasn't anyone told me about my parents? Professor Lupin, please tell me what my parents did for a job; what they were like; were they funny, talented, serious, nice?" But no, for four years we had a Harry who was patient, who didn't keep questioning Dumbledore about why this insane maniac tried to kill him as a baby, and who didn't really ask the other adults many questions about his parents either, not even their best friends.

Yes, of course, after all the years of the Dursleys making his life miserable and telling Harry not to ask questions, that has become a way to survive at their home, where he is stuck, nearly imprisoned, every summer. But not at school; there are people who like him there and who knew his parents. Like Harry, I was adopted, which was one of the things that appealed to me early in the books. Unlike Harry, my birth parents, whom I never knew, weren't murdered by a lunatic wizard, and my adoptive parents were wonderful and loving--and no Dudley or nasty Aunt Marge. But still, even I, who was happy living where I did with parents who loved and cared for me, asked questions, and wondered who was a part of my past. So Harry's lack of curiosity and willingness to accept such unhelpful answers from Dumbledore, and even Lupin, always struck me as being highly unrealistic. After all, look at all the times you hear stories about people who have searched for their birth families--it's something that naturally comes into the mind of any child who is raised by people who are not their birth family. It's normal to ask "What would my life have been like if. . . " (As an adult, I no longer felt the need to search or ask a lot of questions, but as a teenager, it was still something that I occasionally thought about. If I'd been unhappy, I'm sure it would have turned into a quest to find those answers.)

And, old as I am (57 until September), I still remember being fifteen. It's not an easy age, even if your life is comfortable, safe, happy, loving, as mine was. At times I was irritable, for no particular reason; was snappish with my mom; moody and isolated; silly and thoughtless; selfish and self-absorbed. It goes with the age. Throw in all the things that Harry has dealt with as well, and I thought it was refreshing, if sometimes difficult to read, to see him behave in such a normal way. Refreshing, not because I would have wanted to be in the same room while he was yelling, but because it shows the depth of the character that Rowling has created. She's done a marvelous job showing the kids growing up. With each book, we get teens that are less of the children that we met in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and more of the adults they will become. Well, we hope that they all make it to adulthood.

It's in Order of the Phoenix that we learn more about Sirius and his family, but I'll come back to that later. While it's important and I loved learning about it and about the Order itself, there were other things that seem more important at the moment.

Harry gets through the hearing at the Ministry, which, truth be told, would have been a huge surprise had he not. The surprises there were Percy being such a git, and Fudge still being so unbelievably dense, and of course, we get our first glimpse of Dolores Umbridge, whose own brand of evil is sometimes even more chilling than Voldemort's.

While Harry and Ron and Hermione are still at twelve, Grimmauld Place, with others of the Order, we see Harry head off to bed early, still disturbed by the photo that Moody, the real one, showed Harry of the original Order, including his parents. Harry finds it horrible to see all those people, many of whom are now dead, or in Saint Mungo's (Neville's parents), who had not a clue that horrible things were just waiting to happen. And of course, there was Peter Pettigrew, who betrayed his parents to Voldemort, a betrayal that resulted in their deaths, and the attempted killing of Harry. Like Harry says, why would Moody think it's a treat for Harry to see those photos? And so at the first opportunity, he heads off to bed, side-tracked by the sound of someone crying.

It's in Chapter Nine, "The Woes of Mrs. Weasley", that we see what terrifies Molly. She has gone to take care of the boggart hiding in a desk. It, as boggarts do, turns into her worst fear, which is seeing all of her family dead, including Harry. As a mother, I fully understood her feelings and her fears. It doesn't take the threat of an evil wizard for those thoughts to go through the mind of every mother. Harry, who knows how to get rid of a boggart, is unable to cope either, once the boggart turns into "dead Harry". He tells Mrs. Weasley to get out of the room, to let someone else take care of it. The commotion gets the attention of Remus Lupin, followed by Sirius and Moody. Lupin dispatches the boggart and then comforts Molly, assuring her that it was only a boggart, not anything real.

"I see them d-d-dead all the time!" Mrs. Weasley moaned into his shoulder. "All the t-t-time! I d-d-dream about it. . ."

Sirius was staring at the patch of carpet where the boggart, pretending to be Harry's body, had lain. Moody was looking at Harry, who avoided his gaze. (U.S. OotP, p. 176)

Harry, and we, the readers, know that this book is going to have some very serious things for all of us to handle. It's not easy for Harry, nor will it be easy for us. For any parent reading about Molly's fears, this scene strikes way too close to home. For any teen or adult who doesn't yet have children, it's a glimpse of what their parents fear--a huge dose of reality in Rowling's fantasy world. If we hadn't figured out that these books aren't just for children after the scene in the graveyard in Goblet of Fire, we should know it now.

Molly doesn't want them to tell Arthur--he has enough on his plate already without dealing with his wife's fears. She's worried that Harry will think she's silly and foolish, not even able to get rid of a boggart. But her fear is real and it's based on her family's involvement in the Order, which puts all of them at greater risk, so she's not being foolish at all, really. And of course, there's Percy, who has chosen Fudge's and the Ministry's side of pretending that Voldemort hasn't returned, or at least of trying to cover up what they do know is real. What if they don't reconcile with Percy, and something awful happens to the Weasley family? Again, a normal fear of any parent. As if that's not enough, Molly still has two children, not adults, who need her watchful care and guidance. What happens to Ron and Ginny if she and Arthur are killed? And here is one of the reasons that Lupin is one of my favorite adults in the whole series:

"Molly, that's enough," said Lupin firmly. "This isn't like last time. The Order are better prepared, we've got a head start, we know what Voldemort's up to--"

Mrs. Weasley gave a little squeak of fright at the sound of the name.

"Oh, Molly, come on, it's about time you got used to hearing it-- look, I can't promise no one's going to get hurt, nobody can promise that, but we're much better off than we were last time. . ." {OP, US version, p. 177)

No sugar coating from Lupin, but honesty, at a time when it's an honest look at the situation will be much more reassuring than what Fudge is trying to put over on everyone. Lupin's acknowledgement that they are dealing with real danger gives Molly the assurance that he takes her fears seriously, and in that, he gives her the courage to find that strength within herself. Ignorance, in the case of Voldemort's return, is not going to be bliss, and Lupin understands that as well as anyone.

Sirius tells Molly not to worry about Percy:

"He'll come round. It's a matter of time before Voldemort moves into the open; once he does, the whole Ministry's going to be begging us to forgive them. And I'm not sure I'll be accepting their apology," he added bitterly.

"And as for who's going to look after Ron and Ginny if you and Arthur died," said Lupin, smiling slightly, "what do you think we'd do, let them starve?" (OP, US version, p. 177)

Well, nothing like tackling the hard issues, is there? Yet, that's exactly one of the reasons I really liked Order of the Phoenix. There is a real threat that Rowling has created with the return of Voldemort and the resurgence of the Death Eaters. These are issues the characters would be thinking about and dealing with; to not have it in the book would minimize the threats she has created. By the same token, to have the characters never doubt or fear would lessen their humanity, so vividly portrayed by Rowling.

Molly, calmed down for the time being, by Lupin's reassurance and honest appraisal of what they face, says she was being silly. Harry heads off to bed, but doesn't think she was at all silly. He keeps thinking about the image of the boggart turning into each of the Weasley family before Mrs. Weasley's eyes.

Without warning, the scar on his forehead seared with pain again and his stomach churned horribly.

"Cut it out," he said firmly, rubbing the scar as the pain receded again.

"First sign of madness, talking to your own head," said a sly voice from the empty picture on the wall.

Harry ignored it. He felt older than he had ever felt in his life, and it seemed extraordinary to him that barely an hour ago he had been worried about a joke shop and who had gotten a prefect's badge. (OP, US version, p. 178)

We'll learn later that the sly voice is Phineas Nigelus, who seems to be sharing information about Harry with Dumbledore, even though Dumbledore spends little time with Harry for most of this year, and almost always refuses to look at him, something that is understandably irritating and frustrating for Harry. With just a phrase, Rowling has told us that Harry is no longer a child--feeling "older than he had ever felt in his life". By the end of the book, even Dumbledore no longer refers to Harry as a child, but as a man. This is the book that takes Harry from the child to a man, fully aware by the end of what he faces and what his responsibilities are.

At this point, however, Harry is still in the early stages of shock over what he saw at the end of his fourth year (Goblet of Fire) and of grief over having seen a fellow classmate, and friend, killed. Now the one person on whom Harry has come to depend won't talk to him. Of course he is angry with Dumbledore. Harry needs some serious grief counseling, and the person to whom he wants to turn, refuses to spend time with him or even to look at him.

But this last scene is a huge set up for what's coming for Harry when he sees the vision of Arthur being attacked in what turns out to be the Ministry of Magic. It's that connection that Harry seems to have, and has had for a while, to Voldemort's thoughts and emotions. For whatever reason, Voldemort wasn't aware of the access Harry had to his mind until Harry saw the attack on Arthur.

It's this connection that I find most interesting. Many think this is the proof that Harry or his scar is a Horcrux. And they might be right. I'm just not fond of the idea. If that's where Rowling goes, then I'll go along, but I will always think there is a better alternative. I guess I want their connection to be more subtle, more along the lines of something that could occur without the magic of a Horcrux. Something that we, as real people, have to fight against.

I'll digress for a moment. When I was in junior high, I had a friend who, for whatever reason, was always interested in just this sort of thing--seeing into the mind of others. We would spend time concentrating on a particular card, trying to get the other person to chose the one we had picked. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. But our favorite, and quite successful, endeavor was at the movie theater. While we waited for a movie to begin, we would choose one person, at least four or five rows in front of us. Then we would both stare at the back of that person's head, while thinking "turn around". It's very eerie, and still seems odd to me, but it almost always worked. The person, someone we didn't know, would turn and look right at us, not just randomly looking around the theater, but AT us in particular. The more we did it, the quicker the response time of our intended, erm, victim, for lack of a better word.

So, no magic needed, I think there are ways that one mind can connect with another. How? I've not a clue. I don't really even care. My husband and I often come up with the same idea for dinner, without having discussed it; the other day, we each picked the same movie (I, during the day, and he, in the evening while I went to a meeting), to watch On Demand. Truly weird, as neither of us had ever heard of that particular movie before and it was in a long list. Of course, we've been married for thirty-three years, but still, it is an odd connection that happens between two minds.

But I think that when Voldemort "put some of himself" in Harry when he tried to kill him and the curse rebounded, it wasn't a part of Voldemort's soul, but a part of his mind. The mind and the soul are not the same thing, the way Rowling tells it, in Half-Blood Prince, to jump ahead a bit, when Dumbledore explains about the Horcruxes. He tells Harry that even if all of Voldemort's Horcruxes are destroyed, Voldemort will still exist, because his body and mind can live on without his soul. It's Voldemort's body and mind that are doing all the evil things that Harry sees and feels, not Voldemort's soul, of which only a fragment remains in Voldemort's body.

And that leads me to one of my favorite chapters: Chapter Twenty Four, "Occlumency". As it's well after midnight, I'm going to take a break before continuing with the chapter that really explores how Harry's mind and Voldemort's are connected.