I was going to post a R.I.P. Fred thingy, but I figured Fred would rather be remembered for his humour and not how he died. We'll give 'em hell from you, Freddie.
Important occurrences in this chapter include;
- The Burrow
- The Weasley family
- Percy's secret
- Borgin & Burke's
- Hagrid's guilt
- Gilderoy Lockhart
- Lucius Malfoy
- The first Horcrux (excluding Harry himself, that is)
That's eight vital segments of information in just under 16 pages. I think Chamber of Secrets gets a lot of flak for not being the most well-written book at first glance, but anyone who's read the full series will tell you that CofS is jam-packed with clues for the rest of the series. That's what makes a re-read of this so interesting.
I like how the Weasley home is a direct parallel to the Dursley's home, I really do, but I could not live in the Burrow. I'm sorry. The Burrow reminds me distinctly of my friend Jess's house where, in spite of having a brightly-coloured bathroom and a library, there is so much chaos that it does my wee little head in. I don't know if I have OCD or if I'm just anal retentive but oh god, the thought of unexpected loud noises and stuff lying everywhere and having to step over people just drives me batplop. I can't do it. I can't function around the mess.
That said, the family dynamic of the Weasleys is a welcome change.
"What Harry found most unusual about life at Ron's, however, wasn't the talking mirror or the clanking ghoul: it was the fact that everybody there seemed to like him."
As someone who grew up alone and pretty much only being spoken to when I needed to be reminded that I was worthless, I always dreamed of having a family like the Weasleys. I wanted a best friend who made me feel like I was family and a family that made me feel like I belonged in it. I have both now, but I didn't back then, and reading over this only reminds me of how lonely I was and how much Harry's happiness resonated with me. It gave me hope that no matter how bad things felt, they were bound to get better and of course, Rowling was right.
The Weasley family
You know what else is great? Mr. Weasley being impressed with the way Muggles have used science to counteract a lack of magic. It's really wonderful how he appreciates the creativity and ingenuity of science, even going so far as to learn it for himself even though he has no urgent need to do so.
"'Fascinating!' he would say, as Harry talked him through using a telephone."
The fact that Ron uses the phone to call Harry and that Mrs. Weasley uses the phone to call some taxis in later books means that Mr. Weasley clearly taught this to his whole family. Despite having Floo powder and Patronuses and Owl Post, Mr. Weasley took the time to teach his family how to use a Muggle contraption, most likely to encourage the appreciation of science and the integration of wizard/Muggle cultures. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Mr. Weasley is the best.
"The moment she saw Harry, Ginny accidentally knocked her porridge bowl to the floor with a loud clatter."
When I was younger, I found younger Ginny relatable because of her embarrassing crush on Potter. I still find her endearing for the same reason. How nice is it that her clumsiness isn't a built-in trait but a consequence of having a case of the tummy-butterflies? Recent authors should take note (I'm looking at you, Stephenie Meyer).
"She nodded, blushing to the roots of her flaming hair, and put her elbow in the butter dish."
Seriously, she's bloody adorable.
I hate Percy. I don't care about his redemption later, he's a pompous, self-righteous prick even in these early stages and I hate him passionately. It hurts me physically that Fred Weasley got offed and Percy the Prat got to live, even though they were in the same damn place at the same time.
"Harry had only seen Percy at meal-times so far; he stayed shut in his room the rest of the time."
"'Wish I knew what he was up to,' said Fred, frowning. 'He's not himself. His exam results came the day before you did; twelve O.W.Ls and he hardly gloated at all.'"
The fact that Percy's lack of gloating is uncharacteristic really says something about what a douchenozzle he is. I also like how he's being set up as being up to something shady the whole time when he's just been trying to hide news of his girlfriend. It's a fantastic red herring because for a long time in the story I genuinely assumed that Percy was (or was helping) the Heir of Slytherin somehow. It blew my mind to realise that it was Ginny, especially since I'd spent the whole damn story explaining away her awkwardness as being a result of her crush on Harry.
Borgin & Burke's
Why does Harry have to go through the Floo alone? Can people not Floo together? It just seems so unsafe to do that alone in the beginning. Can you imagine what would happen if the saviour of the wizarding world ended up in the Malfoy fireplace and.... on second thought, let's end that train of thought right there. I bet there's fanfiction about it if you really want it.
"'What's the good of that if I'm not in the house team?' said Malfoy, looking sulky and bad-tempered. 'Harry Potter got a Nimbus Two Thousand last year. Special permission from Dumbledore so he could play for Gryffindor. He's not even that good, it's just because he's famous ... famous for having a stupid scar on his forehead ...'"
Y'all remember the time where Draco ranted at his daddy about Harry for an entire shopping trip? I never thought I'd feel sorry for Lucius Malfoy but there you go. Poor man. I can understand Draco's frustration since Harry's quidditch rule was clearly favouritism, but dude, seriously, you have a problem.
"'... everyone thinks he's so smart, wonderful Potter with his scar and his broomstick -'"
No really, Draco darling, tell us how you really feel.
Seriously, how are people surprised by Drarry fanfiction? Merlin. What's even funnier is that the whole time this conversation is going down, Harry is hiding in a closet. Y'all, Harry is in a closet. Harry is in a closet, listening to Draco fanboy over him. Jesus.
Jokes about closets aside, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the cabinet Draco uses in Half Blood Prince would be this same one. Not to mention the whole Montague incident in Order of the Phoenix. Talk about continuity, damn.
There's also the Hand of Glory, that Draco uses in Half Blood Prince while fixing the cabinet. Lucius's rage and refusal to buy it is cute, since we know Draco will buy it later anyway.
Hagrid is another one of those red herrings. I blame the Philosopher's Stone expulsion talk on the boat and then this whole Knockturn Alley business. Hagrid is set up to look as shady as Percy in the whole killing students thing, actually probably more so because we know he went to Azkaban for something once, and it's a wonderful distraction. How do we keep expecting someone as kind as Hagrid to be a serious killer?
I blame Quirrell for that one, actually.
"A harassed-looking wizard stood at the door..."
Is this the same guy who has to worry about the Monster Book of Monsters in Prisoner of Azkaban? 'Cause if so, man, poor guy.
"'Nice big smile, Harry,' said Lockhart, through his own gleaming teeth. 'Together, you and I are worth the front page.'"
Let's discuss Lockhart's inferiority complex, shall we?
The fact that he thinks he can't make the front page without Harry speaks volumes. It's only implied, but it clearly outlines his vanity and desire to be recognised. Him using a twelve year old boy as a publicity stunt only makes him more loathsome. He even goes so far as to assume that Harry came in for his autobiography when he literally only came into the only magical bookshop in the area to buy his magical schoolbooks. Lockhart, what.
His obsession with fame is also a cool parallel to Harry. Harry, despite having fame thrust upon him, doesn't want it. Lockhart will exploit anyone and everyone to get more of it. It speaks volumes about fame, even in our society.
I know that Lucius, unlike Draco, has zero excuses for being a bigoted douche. I know. But for a second, I'd like to point out that whilst in Borgin & Burke's, Lucius clearly pointed out that Draco not coming first in class was not an entitlement but something he needed to work for.
"'I hope my son will amount to more than a thief or a plunderer, Borgin,' said Mr. Malfoy coldly...
'Though if his school marks don't pick up...that may indeed be all he is fit for.'"
He clearly notes that Draco's failures are of his own doing, which is actually a decent bit of parenting. That said, Lucius Malfoy is a douche.
"'The company you keep, Weasley ... and I thought your family could sink no lower ...'"
Well at least we know where Draco gets his entitled, condescending attitude from. That sort of shoddy behaviour is mildly excusable for a pre-teen child who's grown up around that sort of douchebaggery, but Lucius is a grown-ass adult. He has no excuse. Mr. Weasley kicking his ass was the least of what he deserved.
The First Horcrux
Speaking of Lucius and the fight, I suppose it's a testament to his quick thinking that he slipped the diary into Ginny's secondhand textbook. Why was he carrying it to begin with? Was he going to just shove it into a book in the store and hope for the best? I mean, Lucius, seriously.
The diary though! The diary! Of course she got it here, and nobody would stop to check the book because they were books she'd already bought and she'd never bother to check them over amidst all the ruckus.
On a lighter note, do you think that Tom's soul in the diary knew what was going on? Was he screaming in fury over being handed over to a eleven year old girl? Facepalming at Lucius's stupidity?
What would you call a GinnyxTom pairing anyway? Griddle?