Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has stirred up the Harry Potter fandom, so Minerva decided to look back at their favorite moments, big and small, from the Harry Potter series.
I have such a soft spot for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s the only book in the series that doesn’t have some big battle with Voldemort at the end. The main villain, the dastardly Sirius Black, winds up providing Harry with a connection to his family and the life he could’ve–well, should’ve–had. The scene where Sirius asks Harry to live with him once he goes free is one of the simplest and most beautiful scenes I’ve ever read. It’s not flashy or filled with promises of mass riches and extravagance. It’s a scene where two people who have lost everything are able to find some semblance of family with each other. Out of destruction and heartbreak, there’s hope for something better.
There is so much I could talk about, but I want to focus on one really small, weird element that never gets brought up again. The battle at the Ministry at the end of book five is one of my favorite things of all time. The most confusing part of that? The tank full of brains. What are those for? Seriously. It’s one of the most jarring moments and it’s never explained. I might love the brain thing solely because I’ve always had a soft spot for Ron and he features in that heavily. I was completely on board with the fan theory that Ron would have some after effects in book six from his brain encounter. Residual memories that weren’t his, maybe. Some dark hint of what those brains were about and a chance to give Ron a little more to do. Although none of that panned out, that mystery remains more stuck in my head than even the veil. Why the brains and what might have happened if Rowling had explored the possibility of other people’s minds leaving marks on you? What other series would inspire so much speculation over so small a thing?
There are so many wonderfully powerful, loud, vibrant, and magically extraordinary scenes in the Harry Potter series: mythical creatures, epic battles between the powers of good and evil, and death-defying adventures. By comparison, my favorite moment in the series seems almost underwhelming: when Harry steps into The Burrow for the first time at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets. I love this scene simply because it is so quiet, so normal and homey and safe. There aren’t any battles, powerful spells, or villainous deeds. It’s Harry’s first taste of regular, everyday magic, in a lopsided house where the dishes wash themselves, there are gnomes in the garden and a ghoul in the attic, and cookbooks like Charm Your Own Cheese and Enchantments in Baking sit stacked on the mantlepiece. It’s a reminder of all Harry would have had if his parents had survived, and indicates an intimacy with magic that Harry was never given growing up. It’s also the kind of magic that, were I a witch, I would love, the simple, quietly charming, everyday spells that make daily life just a bit more magical.
It’s really hard to choose my favorite moment or element from Harry Potter, but I think the scene that best illustrates that is in The Deathly Hallows when Ron returns to save Harry and destroys the locket. Ron gets a lot of flak for leaving the group, but in retrospect, this needed to happen to show just how important Ron was to the Golden Trio. Sure, Harry and Hermione have a great working partnership, but they just don’t have the same morale without Ron around. He’s the glue that holds the group together, and he’s so, so underappreciated. The great thing about those chapters where he is missing is that I was just as heartbroken about it as Harry and Hermione were. And because I love a good dose of angst, when Ron is forced to confront his faults and fears (and Harry and Hermione snogging naked, like woah), that gave me chills. Because who hasn’t worried about being worthless? Who hasn’t tried to make people laugh to cover up their insecurities? That moment was so raw and so real, but it also shows just how ridiculous the concept of a Golden Trio without Ron would be (take that, Steve Kloves).
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix catches a lot of criticism from Potter fans who think Harry is being overly emotional, but I contend it’s the most underrated Potter book. Its twenty-third chapter, “Christmas on the Closed Ward” is easily my favorite in the entire series. In OotP, Harry is feeling his orphan-ness more acutely than ever. He’s starting to realize that his father wasn’t the man that he had always imagined, and his relationship with Sirius is becoming strained. In “Christmas on the Closed Ward,” Harry blames himself for the perilous situation that Arthur Weasley, his other surrogate father, is in, and then on top of that, he sees firsthand what Bellatrix Lestrange did to Neville’s parents and realizes that just having parents would not solve his problems. The chapter is a tense and poignant reminder of the fragility of family and it guts me every single time I read it.
Featured image via Scholastic