Monday, February 23, 2009

Order of the Phoenix -- 20-25

Chapter 20: Hagrid's Tale
Harry, Ron, and Hermione sneak out to Hagrid's hut, only to be shocked when he answers the door looking like he recently suffered a bad beating. While he won't tell them exactly what happened to him to make him look so terrible, he does tell them about the mission he was on with Madam Maxine to try and recruit giants for the Order.
Their visit is cut short when Umbridge knocks on the door in spite of the late hour. Harry, Ron, and Hermione quickly hide under the Invisibility Cloak, and Hagrid lets her in. She wastes no time grilling Hagrid on where he's been for so long, and Hagrid does not stand up well under her leading questions. It's apparent to Harry that Umbridge knows way more than she should about Hagrid's mission.

Chapter 21: The Eye Of The Snake
The next week starts with Hagrid's first lesson back. It's an illuminating one for Harry because he finally finds out what the skeletal horses are. Umbridge meets them in the forest to inspect Hagrid, and the 3 friends quickly lose their temper when she twists everything he says in order to make him look bad.
As December rolls in the decorations go up and Harry's homework reaches epic proportions. During the last D.A. meeting before the holidays Harry gets his first kiss from Cho, and goes to bed in a state of happy amazement. Once he drifts off to sleep, however, he has a terrifying vision of being inside a giant snake. He's unable to stop as the snake attacks Mr. Weasley and bites him repeatedly with its fangs. When he wakes up he's frantic, and rushes to Dumbledore with Professor McGonagall and Ron to tell him what happened.

Chapter 22: St. Mungo's Hospital For Magical Maladies And Injuries
As soon as Harry tells Dumbledore what has happened he springs into action, sending portraits off to find word of Mr. Weasley's condition. Harry is terrified when he finds out his vision has really happened and that Mr. Weasley is seriously injured. Dumbledore sends Harry, Ron, Ginny, Fred, and George to Grimmauld Place to wait with Sirius until they find out more about Mr. Weasley's condition.
It's a long, silent vigil but finally at daybreak Mrs. Weasley comes in smiling, saying that he's going to be all right. Harry's fears are not relieved, however. He's terrified that if he falls asleep again he'll hurt someone else. When they all go visit Mr. Weasley in the hospital later that day Harry and the others hear Mad Eye and Tonks speculating that Voldemort is possessing Harry.

Chapter 23: Christmas On The Closed Ward
The rest of the group doesn't mention what they overhear, but it weights heavily on Harry's mind. The thought that Voldemort might be possessing him makes him feel dirty, and to protect the others he stays sequestered in his room for days until Hermione shows up and confronts him. When he talks to her, Ron, and Ginny, they determine that Voldemort is not possessing Harry, and this cheers him up immensely.
When they go visit Mr. Weasley on Christmas Day Harry, Ron, and Hermione accidentally wander onto a closed ward, where they run into Neville, who visiting his parents with his Grandmother. Only Harry knows his secret, but Ron and Hermione are mortified when they find out Neville's parents were tortured into insanity by Voldemort and now have to stay committed to St. Mungo's.

Chapter 24: Occlumency
As the end of the holidays approach Harry finds he not looking forward to returning to Hogwarts. He doesn't want to leave Sirius, or put himself under the iron fist of Umbridge. He starts to positively dread his return when he finds out that, under Dumbledore's request, he'll be learning Occlumency from Professor Snape.
The first day back isn't so bad, however. He manages to ask Cho Chang out for Valentine's Day. Things go downhill fast, however, during his Occlumency lesson. Snape repeatedly taunts Harry and forces open his mind, but it causes Harry to have a break-through. To Snape's displeasure, hesuddenly realizes that the corridor he's been dreaming about for so many months is in the Department of Mysteries.
That night as he's getting ready for bed Harry's scar explodes with pain, and Harry knows that Voldemort is happier about something than he has been in years.

Chapter 25: The Beetle At Bay
The reason why Voldemort is deliriously happy is answered the next morning when Hermione opens The Daily Prophet. Ten Death Eaters have broken out from Azkaban and rejoined Voldemort. Hermione rushes off suddenly to send a letter and won't tell anyone what she's up to, and Harry also finds out that Hagrid has been put on probation.
Umbridge quickly forces through another Educational Decree, this time banning teachers from talking about anything they're not strictly qualified to teach.
Valentine's Day is upon Harry before he knows it, and as he's about to leave to go meet Cho Hermione asks him to meet her at the Three Broomsticks at midday. Harry agrees, and leaves with Cho for Madam Puddifoots tea-shop, a hangout for couples. Once Harry tells Cho that he's meeting Hermione in a few hours she gets very upset, rages at Harry in front of everyone, and storms out of the shop. Harry is bewildered about what happened, and slowly walks to the Three Broomsticks where he's to meet Hermione.
He's more than surprised to see Hermione sitting with none other than Rita Skeeter, the gossip-spreading journalist from the Daily Prophet, and Luna Lovegood. Hermione threatens Rita until she agrees to write a true story about Voldemort's return. Luna Lovegood's father, as the editor of The Quibbler magazine, has agreed to publish the story. Harry, knowing this is his one good chance to convince the world, starts talking.

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