Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ch. 8: Kappa Dat Ass Up


This week, we discuss: supervillain Draco; murderous, malevolent goblins; that’s not how teeth or lead work; abnormally polite rapist monsters; soul-seeking among the bowels; big butts and soul power; stanning for drunk Trelawney; flobberworms; manic Oliver Wood; unfailingly on-point Ron; WE LOVE CROOKSHANKS; Hermione’s inability to back down and Harry’s inability to step up; good Harry hair; Percysplaining; wizards hate social structures; the unexpectedness of honest adults; smoking goblets and buried hatchets; multicolored fowl; Snape/Lupin slashfic; and even Sirius knows that IT’S NEVILLE.

S: Oh my god, welcome back to Advanced Muggle Studies! It has been forever. I am so glad to be back, and I hope Professor Creed is too.

C: Eh, moderately.

S: OH! How anyone can only be moderately pleased by the return of the best podcast ever to podcast, I don’t know.

C: Depends on how many tacky jokes get made.

S: I’ll do what I can. I may be a bit out of practice, but I’ll try. For those of you who have been waiting for us to come back — so, like one person — we missed you. For those of you who are thinking, “Wait, who are you again?” Never mind. Just stick around and it will be awesome and fun.


Today we are on Chapter 8 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Flight of the Fat Lady,” as things begin to get…Sirius.

Which is to say, immature, badly behaved, and oh so well dressed

When we left off, Draco was being a putz going on about his woeful injury.


Also, we had the awesome boggart lesson with one of the few competent professors ever to hold the job of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. And now, Malfoy has realized he can’t make fun of Lupin for much–except his shabby clothes and being out of style.

Except, no one cares except Draco, so he’s left alone with his thoughts, sulking and stroking his scar. Can’t you picture him, like a supervillain with a cat, but just stroking his scar from Buckbeak? “Soon! Something I do will make them pay attention to me!”


C: I mean, it is all about his insecurity because Harry and Ron and Hermione just– just shine, you know?

S: Excuse me, “You shone.”

C: Barf.

S: They’re so sparkly, and Malfoy needs a little sparkle in his life.

C: Well, he certainly gets that with his son.

S: The fabulous Scorpius! Spoiler alert, Draco: Your son is in love with Potter’s son. Just FYI.

And, just a heads up – Tumblr is in on the secret

No one really cares. Everyone is way more interested in an interesting class for once. They’ve done boggarts and Red Caps, which are

nasty little goblinlike creatures that lurked wherever there had been bloodshed: in the dungeons of castles and the potholes of deserted battlefields, waiting to bludgeon those who had gotten lost.

I looked these up, and good God. Red Caps are messed up.

C: You know what I always think of when I see the term Red Caps? Do you remember — there was a type of candy called Bottlecaps? That’s what I think of. Root beer was really good.

Middle school flashback incoming!

S: Bottlecaps were great! I was about to say I liked the root beer ones. But it’s pretty bad when the Wikipedia entry begins,

A redcap is a type of malevolent, murderous goblin

Also known as Redcomb and Bloody Cap. It’s a short, thickset old man

with long prominent teeth, skinny fingers armed with talons like eagles, large eyes of a fiery red colour, grisly hair streaming down his shoulders, iron boots, a pikestaff in his left hand, and a red cap on his head.When travellers take refuge in his lair he will fling huge stones at them

C: Why not the pikestaff?


To hell with boggarts, we’ve got Red Caps!

C: Okay, but wouldn’t that turn brown eventually?

S: No, because that’s not how folklore works, why would you bring science into it? We are talking about a thickset man with eagle talons on his hands throwing stones at me!

C: And he’s not actually a man, he’s a goblin. That is a misnomer.

S: This is true. It’s also effing hilarious that

he may be driven away by repeating words of Scripture or holding up the cross. He will then utter a dismal yell and vanish in flames, leaving behind him a large tooth on the spot where he was last seen.

Why a tooth??

C: Okay, so is this not purely a J.K. Rowling thing then?

S: No! It’s border folklore — they think these things inhabit old castles and forts and towers along the Anglo-Scottish border. It’s very much a thing from 19th century folklore.

C: Interesting.

Popular tradition states that these Border castles were built by the Picts who bathed the foundation stones in human blood which often resulted in such hauntings.[3][4] The suggestion is that dunters and redcaps may be the spirits of the original foundation sacrifices.[4]

S: I’m just like, this is creepier to me than a lot of the stuff that’s supposed to be scary in this book. He bathes in blood and has fiery red eyes and loses a tooth every time he vanishes? WHAT IS THIS EVEN?

C: So here’s my question – if he’s a goblin, are these not the same race of creatures as the goblins that work in Gringotts?

S: I don’t know. I doubt it. But the one they have a name for they call Robin Redcap, the familiar of a lord at Hermitage Castle, and apparently

The redcap familiar of Lord William de Soulis, called Robin Redcap, is said to have wrought much harm and ruin in the lands of his master’s dwelling, Hermitage Castle. Ultimately, William was (according to legend) taken to the Ninestane Rig, a stone circle near the castle, then wrapped in lead and boiled to death.

C: Wrapped in lead?

S: Yes, why? Does that make the boiling more effective? Does that make it worse? How do you truly make boiling to death worse?

C: But — wrapped in lead how? Like an Easter egg of lead that you crack open, and they set him inside, and closed the lid, and put him in a pot of boiling water? Or it was just lead that they had heated to boiling and poured that over him?

crown of gold
A crown of lead, perhaps?

S: I have no idea. Did they make flexible lead chain mail? How is that wrapping? I’m so confused. But apparently that’s a thing. It makes about as much sense as any other folklore. Kappas, meanwhile, are Japanese water demons.

AKA Glum Muppets (Image by Katsushika Hokusai)

They’re distinguished as having a small pool of water suspended on top of their heads, signifying their life force and habitat. They lurk in rivers or lakes, try to lure people into the water and pull them in.

C: So if they live in rivers and lakes, why do they need to have water suspended over their head? Because they’re already in the water. Does no one think of logic when they make this shit up?


S: Let me think — NO. Some of the descriptions of these are insane. “Scaly reptilian skin, green, yellow or blue, red hands and feet, a beak, a shell, a plate, a flat hairless region that is always wet,” where they keep their own personal lake.


Oh, here’s an explanation! It’s the source of their power.

This cavity must be full whenever a kappa is away from the water; if it ever dries out, the kappa loses its power and may even die.

Another notable feature in some stories is that the arms are said to be connected to each other through the torso and can slide from one side to the other.

That is just a weird detail. I don’t see how that could possibly be useful.

C: No.

S: Who is composing a story about a kappa, and thinks to add, “Oh, they can also do this neat arm trick!”

C: Okay, well that could come in handy, though, because if you needed to reach something on your right-hand side that was out of your reach, you could put more of your arm to your right and withdraw your left arm until only your wrist was sticking out of your shoulder, and now your arm is that much longer so you can reach.


S: I’m sorry, I’m totally listening to you, except I read on and just found some of the funniest shit we’ve ever discussed on this show, which we’re about to talk about now, because this is why we do this.

I’m reading about what they do – they drown people. Apparently they have no respect for boundaries, because they look up women’s kimonos. They attack women and kidnap children and eat human flesh. But apparently they like cucumbers more than people, for eating? That’s beside the point. This line kills me.

As water monsters, kappa have been blamed for drownings, and are often said to try to lure people into water and pull them in with their great skill at wrestling.[9] They are sometimes said to take their victims for the purpose of drinking their blood, eating their livers, or gaining power by taking their shirikodama (尻子玉), a mythical ball said to contain the soul, which is located inside the anus.

C: Really?


S: Did you know that your soul was in your anus? Didn’t we talk about that before, when we talked about the anti-Semitic belief that Jewish men menstruated as punishment for Judas Iscariot, and this belief that Judas’ soul exited through his bowels? Didn’t we talk about this before??

C: Yeah.

S: And all the way over in Japanese folklore, they also think your soul resides in your butt?


C: Man, I don’t even know.

S: Oh, come now! I feel very proud of myself. We haven’t done this show in forever, and I’ve already found one of the more batshit things we’ve ever talked about. Apparently they also like to drown horses. Why? What do you get out of that?

C: Maybe horses have big butts, therefore lots of soul power?


S: Apparently they’re also obsessed with politeness.

So if a person makes a deep bow, it will return the gesture. This results in the kappa spilling the water held in the plate (皿, sara) on its head, rendering it unable to leave the bowing position until the plate is refilled with water from the river in which it lives. If a person refills it, the kappa will serve that person for all eternity.

Let me get this straight. You rape women, kidnap children, eat people, drown horses to steal their souls from their asses, but you’re unfailingly polite in all situations?


C: Yes, I suppose so.

S: As Hannibal Lecter says, one should only eat the rude. I don’t — I don’t know. I feel like JK Rowling — wow. Talk about the, “Let’s pass very quickly over some frankly insane folklore.” I hope you feel like you’ve learned something. At Advanced Muggle Studies, we really try to take your education to the next level, hopefully involving some bodily function and/or weird sexual fetish.

C: It’s true. Weird sexual fetishes are my favorite.

S: Those can be fun! So the kappas aside, Snape is in a bad mood. Apparently something to do with being outed as a cross-dresser? Oh, no, wait, because Neville’s boggart showed everyone what Snape would look like in a dress, and he doesn’t seem to appreciate how glorious it truly was.


I mean, Alan Rickman in a vulture hat — I’m there for that all day. Apparently Snape isn’t a big fan.

C: Do they do that in the movie? I don’t remember.

S: Oh yeah. He comes out of the wardrobe, and they do the thing where they spin him around and he’s in the skirt, jacket, hat and everything. It looks great.

C: It probably does look very nice. He was an unusual looking man, but in a very handsome way.

S: Indeed, and the voice helped. He’s handsome, and with the voice in the bargain, you’d let him talk to you all day.

C: He will always be my Colonel Brandon.


S: He is the DEFINITIVE Colonel Brandon. So what is your thought on Parvati and Lavender? I find this hilarious, and it also reminds me of high school. There’s always going to be that couple of kids that hit it off with a teacher and love spending time with them, but sometimes — I always think of cheer for some reason, the girls who hit it off with the cheer coach and go on and on about what they got to go do with her, and make a big deal about being friends with her. Because Parvati and Lavender are seriously stanning for Trelawney here.

C: Um, I think it’s funny reading the book. I think if I had to be in class with them I would want to Petrificus Totalus them to shut them up.

S: Perhaps, yes. Trelawney is still predicting Harry’s death and getting misty-eyed every time she sees him. Because, you know, it’s such a short time we have with him. Only 5 more books.

C: Here’s my question about Trelawney. Presumably she knows that she is full of shit 99 percent of the time.

S: Does she?


C: So she knows that she is predicting the death of this kid and making his school life harder, and she’s fine with it because it means some dippy little girls think she’s awesome?

S: I don’t know. In Books 5 and 6 when Trelawney is having a tough time with and post-Umbridge, it mentions that she stashes sherry around the castle, and ditches her empties in the Room of Requirement. So is she just perpetually buzzed?

C: I mean, it sounds nice.

S: It would explain a lot about her behavior.

C: But sherry, though?

S: It worked for Frasier Crane!


C: Ugh.

S: And then Hagrid has lost his confidence! His first lesson, which was frankly pretty good, didn’t go well. So now he’s gone to find the most harmless creatures possible, flobberworms, which reminded me of our conversation about why flatworms are flat. They’re useless. Apparently all you do is feed them lettuce, and that’s it.


Meanwhile, Oliver Wood seems a bit high strung, and that’s saying something.

C: Is it? Because I feel like high strung is his default.

S: Maybe it is, but now there’s a “quiet sort of desperation.” He’s getting all emotional because

“Gryffindor hasn’t won for seven years now. Okay, so we’ve had the worst luck in the world — injuries — then the tournament getting called off last year …” Wood swallowed, as though the m emory still brought a lump to his throat. “But we also know we’ve got the best–ruddy–team–in–the–school,” he said, punching a fist into his other hand, the old manic glint back in his eye.

It’s like he’s daring them to defy his assessment of how good their team is.

C: I mean, he’s not wrong.


“And me,” he added as an afterthought.

“We think you’re very good too, Oliver,” said George. 

“Spanking good Keeper,” said Fred.

C: Poor Oliver.

S: He thought they’d have it in the bag with Harry, but things just keep going wrong around him, and he wants it so bad this year. Everyone is like, we need to win this for Oliver, or else he will lose his mind.

So one indeterminate evening post training, Harry comes up to the common room where Ron and Hermione are working on star charts, and it is the week before the very first Hogsmeade weekend. Harry is like oh crap, I was supposed to get that form signed but there was that thing, and I blew up my lesbian aunt, and maybe she’s come to better terms with herself and is exploring avenues to improve her life, but long story short, I didn’t get it signed.

Now we embark on one of many arguments about What Harry Is Supposed To Do. Does he stay in school? Go to Hogsmeade? Is it safe for him to do so? Is it safe in the castle? What should he be doing here?


C: I would think maybe….not sneak off to Hogsmeade.

S: Isn’t that what Hermione says too?

C: Because she’s got fucking sense!

S: So does Crookshanks! He is very focused on something he wants to eat, stop or kill.

C: Crookshanks, my love.

S: He’s chomping on a spider, staring at Ron, and without warning pounces at Ron’s bag, which happens to contain a certain unassuming rodent. This, of course, goes terribly.

C: You know, if Ron cared about this pet of his as much as he claims to, he might, I don’t know, maybe leave it up in the dorm where it’s safe and not bring it with him and let it hang out in his pocket where it could escape easily.

S: See, that’s very clever. That seems like a much smarter thing to do. But it’s too sensible for Ron, apparently. It’s funny because Ron has done this several times in the series, and will continue to do it. His initial assessment of the situation, whatever it is, is completely accurate. It just seems so farfetched at the time that everyone, including the reader, immediately disregards it.

This is going terribly; they’re chasing Crookshanks, Ron has to get Scabbers out from under the drawers, and they start fighting, and Ron says,

“There’s something funny about that animal!” said Ron, who was trying to persuade a frantically wiggling Scabbers back into his pocket. “It heard me say that Scabbers was in my bag!” 

“That cat’s got it in for Scabbers!” said Ron, ignoring the people around him, who were starting to giggle.

Everyone thinks that’s dumb, but, you know? Given the circumstances, yes, it’s stupid. But didn’t he do the exact same thing before in Chamber of Secrets that was the obvious answer?

C: I don’t remember. It’s been so long since we’ve recorded that I’ve forgotten everything.

S: That’s my fault.

C: It truly is.

S: I am shamed.

C: As well you should be.


S: Well, Ron and Hermione are not in a good place now. Ron is mad. He feels like Crookshanks is out to get Scabbers, and Scabbers was here first, which answers any argument. “I was here first!” It helped the Native Americans, why not Scabbers?

C: Go back to your point about Scabbers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in this series, Crookshanks is just a cat, right?

S: Not quite! Ron is correct that something is off with Scabbers, although it’s glossed over quickly in the book and not mentioned at all in the films. It comes later when we meet Sirius Black and get our big expository dump where everything is explained. Sirius says that there is something different about Crookshanks — that first off, Crookshanks immediately recognized that he was not a dog, and they’ve been communicating somehow. Crookshanks has been helping him. He adds that Crookshanks is part magical creature, which makes him extremely smart, to the point that he probably does hear Ron say something.

Here we go — half-kneazle. Well, I would have thought of that all on my own.

C: I want a half-kneazle!

Behold, (apparently) a kneazle

He is half-Kneazle,[1]as evidenced by his lion-like appearance, ability to solve problems on his own without aid or teaching, and clear dislike of and ability at recognising untrustworthy persons (even if they are transfigured).

Okay, I have to find out what a kneazle is.

C: Oh my god, Crookshanks is the best.

S: Apparently a kneazle is

a magical feline creature related to, and similar in appearance to, a cat. They have spotted, speckled or flecked fur, large ears and a lightly plumed tail, like a lion. They are thought to have separate breeds, like cats, and therefore vary in appearance.

They make good pets if they like you, which explains a lot about Hermione and Crookshanks.

C: AW!

S: It seems they

can interbreed with normal cats, and generally have up to eight kittens in every litter. Kneazle owners are required to have a licence to own the animals. Some wizards and witches make a living by breeding Kneazles or part-Kneazles.

Oh, this is a nice bit of post-story addition!

 Arabella Figg, a Squib, makes her living in this manner, which would explain why she has so many cats.

C: Ohhh!

Kneazle whiskers can be used in wand cores although they are said to make inferior wands when compared with Unicorn hairPhoenix feather and Dragon heartstring. They have a very high level of intelligence, are independent and occasionally aggressive, and have an uncanny ability to detect suspicious and distrustful people. They can also safely guide their owners home. Because of their aggression towards certain individuals, Kneazles have a XXX classification by the Ministry of Magic if they are not interbred with another species

S: Oh, that sounds serious. So apparently they’re dangerous unless bred with something else.

C: It sounds like they’re just dangerous to people they deem untrustworthy.

S: Also another bit of post-book editing – three kneazles apparently lived with Newt and Tina for at least 26 years. They’re considered sentient and smart. So that explains a lot about Crookshanks, which they never mention in the film, but since Crookshanks is able to communicate to Sirius that he knows Scabbers is not a rat, they are able to work together.


C: This is now my new favorite thing. After this happens, do we ever see much of Ron and Crookshanks interacting?

S: We see some. I think Ron gets reconciled to Crookshanks, but we don’t see as much of him in the later books. We see him in 5, of course, but not much after that, which is a bummer.

C: Crookshanks is the best!

S: So is Hermione. She’s about to lay the logical smack down. They are headed to Transfiguration, and Lavender Brown is crying because she found out that her rabbit Binky was killed by a fox.

“I should have known!” said Lavender tragically. “You know what day it is?”


“The sixteenth of October!”

Because, of course, Trelawney told her the thing she was dreading would happen on Oct. 16. So she’s like, you see, this proves EVERYTHING!

And I love Hermione. She hesitates, and then asks….

“You…you were dreading Binky being killed by a fox?”

“Well, not necessarily by a fox,” said Lavender, looking up at Hermione with streaming eyes, “but I was obviously dreading him dying, wasn’t I?”

“Oh,” said Hermione. She paused again. Then–

“Was Binky an old rabbit?”

Apparently he was just a baby. Hermione is like, well, he didn’t even die today. You just got the letter today. And you’re shocked and crying, not expecting it! None of this makes any sense!

C: Hermione, you are too good for this world.

S: Of course, Ron uses it as an opportunity to take a swipe at Hermione.

C: Because he’s a DICK.

S: He’s still mad. It’s uncalled for.

C: You know what I would love, instead of Harry standing by as the silent bystander? At some point, turn to Ron and say, ‘Shut up, you asshole!’


S: It would be great if at some point he’d stick up for Hermione instead of Ron. They get through McGonagall’s lesson, and she reminds them about the Hogsmeade forms, which in Neville’s case, his grandmother has kindly mailed since he, you know, forgot his.

“She seemed to think it was safer.” 

McGonagall burn! Harry goes to ask McGonagall if she will sign his form. And I Have to hand it to her, as much as we all know she has a soft spot for Harry, who she’s known since he was a baby — she bought him a broomstick, for heaven’s sake — but when he asks, she still tells him no, because it would be inappropriate.

“I’m sorry, Potter. As the only successful wearer of hats at Hogwarts, my word is final.”

C: Do you think any of that is rooted in the Sirius thing though? If that hadn’t been a factor do you think she would have wavered?

S: Possible. I’m sure she’s thinking she will not be the person to send Harry to Hogsmeade if he doesn’t need to be there.

C: But surely Harry cannot have been the first person at this school with Muggle parents or parents who don’t care. Hell, we know that, because Tom Riddle went back to an orphanage every summer. And there are no rules or guidelines in place for people like that?

S: Apparently not. Apparently it’s parent/guardian or GTFO. This is where we come back to the lack of social infrastructure in this world. Either you have parents and a bank account when you’re born, or you are fucked.


McGonagall won’t do it. The Halloween feast is this evening. And now Dean offers to forge Vernon’s signature for him. OH LOOK THAT THING WE MENTIONED BEFORE THAT HE SHOULD JUST GET SMART AND DO? Come on, Harry, no one knows what Uncle Vernon’s signature looks like. You idiot.

C: Well, yes.

S: I know, it’s dishonest.

C: Harry is not the brains of the operation.

S: They consider the invisibility cloak, but dementors can see through them. And thankfully, Percy comes through to Percysplain things as only he can to make Harry feel better.

“They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” he said seriously. “All right, the sweetshop’s rather good, and Zonko’s Joke Shop’s frankly dangerous, and yes, the Shrieking Shack’s always worth a visit, but really, Harry, apart from that, you’re not missing anything.” 


C: Ugh, he’s the worst.

S: Ron and Hermione have ended their feud in an attempt to cheer Harry. I’ve mentioned before that this book deals heavily in isolation, and we’re seeing that motif emerge again. Harry is alone in the castle, all his peers are gone.

Alone, for the first and last time, with perfect book-accurate hair

He goes to the common room, and Colin Creevey invites him to join him and his friends, which is nice, but Harry is like, dear god I can only stand to hear my own name so many times today, and declines.

Harry wanders aimlessly, this way and that, and then runs into Lupin. I like that Lupin assesses the situation very quickly. He asks Harry where Ron and Hermione are, which Harry answers in a casual voice, and as someone who has spent a lot of time by himself pretending not to care, Lupin picks up on this very quickly and invites Harry to come in and check out his new grindlyow. As one does!

Speaking of which, I didn’t look up grindylows. Are they the same as kappas?

C: They’re in Fantastic Beasts, right? In that cube of water in Newt’s case?


S: Yes, that floating cube of grindylows that incredibly impressed me! Okay, what does the rest of the world think about these? Also known as a grundylow. Oh, this is cool! They originated from folktales in Lancaster and Yorkshire, and it’s thought that the name came from Grendel in Beowulf. Grendel – grundylow – grindylow. I can see it!

Lupin makes some tea and jokes about Harry’s constantly predicted death. Lupin asks if he’s worried about the tea leaf omen, and Harry says no.

He thought for a moment of telling Lupin about the dog he’d seen in Magnolia Crescent but decided not to.

I wonder what would have happened if he had? Probably not much, but that might have been an interesting detail from Lupin’s perspective.

C: Why do you think not much would have been done?

S: I can’t see Lupin doing much about it, but it would have been information they didn’t already have — that Sirius knew where Harry lived and had already — although, maybe you’re right. That might have changed the game. Because if Sirius – and he’d know immediately who it was – was in Privet Drive, with no one else around to stop him, why wouldn’t he have attacked Harry if that was what he was after? That might have changed the perception a bit.

But they get around to discussing why Lupin didn’t let Harry fight the boggart, and I love this exchange. It’s so simple, and it so illustrates why Lupin is such a good teacher. Harry is surprised that Lupin even admits to what Harry accuses him of doing. Harry: you wouldn’t let me fight it. Lupin: Well, yeah. Harry: Why? Lupin: I thought it was obvious. Harry: You’re actually being honest with me? As an adult?


“Well,” said Lupin, frowning slightly, “I assumed that if the boggart faced you, it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.” 

C: It’s a reasonable stance to have.

S: If you’re going to randomly have Voldemort materializing, bad things will happen. Unless it’s hot Tom Riddle. But still, murderous sociopaths appearing is just not good.

C: Agreed.

S: So Lupin is unexpectedly honest, and also doesn’t do the whole You-Know-Who thing. Lupin comments on the fact that Harry’s actual fear is just fear, which is wise.

C: Churchill would be proud. He’s a true Brit, with a stiff upper lip and all that.

S: And then in comes Snape! With a smoking goblet! And no, that is not a euphemism! He really does have a smoking goblet.


C: What would that be a euphemism for?

S: I have no idea. I love how Lupin is all about the pleasant small talk, as if Snape might just jump into this conversation and they could all chat. At the very least, at least Lupin is polite. He is not, as you have pointed out, stuck in perpetual adolescence when it comes to Snape the way Sirius is. Lupin feels no need to antagonize Snape, to drag up old history or treat him any differently. He behaves like an adult, basically.

I sincerely doubt Lupin every apologized for all the shit they did, and the animosity remains, but at least we can give Lupin credit for attempting to leave the hatchet in the ground. It may not be buried, but we can at least leave it there and deal with each other as professionals and adults in a positive manner.

Of course, Snape doesn’t reciprocate much, but he’s also being — oh, I don’t know, civil?

C: He’s making the potion, and he doesn’t have to.

S: And he’s not being super begrudging about it. And Lupin doesn’t drink it immediately, and Snape tells him, “You should drink that straight away, Lupin.” He’s being very pointed about it, but he is helping. Granted, this could be because Dumbledore is making him do this.

C: I’m sure that’s true, but.

S: The point is, he’s doing it.

C: And doing it correctly.

S: He could easily sabotage it just to fuck Lupin over. It’s a complex potion; that would be easy. I do remember the first time I read this being panicked along with Harry: “Why would you drink ANYTHING Snape gives you? This is a bad idea and he wants your job and you seem so nice!” I was like, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO DON’T DO THAT.” And then I read farther, and was like, “oh, that was dumb.”

Harry thinks he’s letting Lupin in on some serious information here.

“Professor Snape’s very interested in the Dark Arts,” he blurted out. 

“Really?” said Lupin, looking only mildly interested as he took another gulp of potion. 

“Some people reckon–” Harry hesitated, then plunged recklessly on, “Some people reckon he’d do anything to get the Defense Against the Dark Arts job.” 

And I’m sure he’s puzzled about how completely nonplussed Lupin is by all this. “Oh, that’s nice.”

Ron and Hermione return with lots of candy, and tell Harry all about the stores and the post office, with 200 color-coded owls!


C: How are they color-coded?

S: Are the owls different colors? Do they have little different colored bands on their legs?

C: That’s probably how they did it. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, but from time to time around Easter some of the feed stores here will have baby chicks and ducks for sale, and to make them more enticing to children they will sometimes dye them Easter egg colors.

S: No way!

C: You’ve never seen that?

S: No! I’ve seen the baby peeps and ducks, but I’ve never seen them dyed!

C: I tried to get my dad to buy me one when I was a kid and he was like, “No, that’s a chicken, it’s going to grow up to be ugly.”


S: That’s hilarious. Now I’m picturing a bunch of owls in a variety of softly-tinted shades.

C: I’m sure that’s not how it is, but that’s the first thing that came to my mind, having actually seen color-coded fowl.

S: The fact that you can even say that sentence is amazing. I love the idea of a baby blue owl, which you get for this type of package, and a soft lavender one the next day.

C: Exactly!

S: Harry catches them up, and Ron is with Harry: “Why would Lupin drink that?” Hermione: “Oh, he wouldn’t try to murder someone in front of Harry, right?” Ron: “Really?? Is that what we’re going with?” Would Snape try to kill someone in front of Harry? Probably.

They have the great feast with the decorations, and it seems like Lupin is feeling better, and Snape is glancing at him more often than usual. And thus, Snape-Lupin fanfic came into being. You know it’s out there.


C: Sorry, I got distracted. My baseball team just lost. Walkoff in the bottom of the ninth.

S: I’m so sorry to hear that!


S: Well, we’re almost at the end of this chapter, so there’s that.

C: I am verklempt.

S: You can go off and be verklempt and drink and drown your sorrows!

C: I actually have already been doing that.

S: So it has been a nice evening anyway, even with Malfoy and his trademark zingers: “The dementors send their love, Potter!” Malfoy…we know it’s not the dementors who send their love. We know what you’re really trying to say. OPEN YOUR HEART, LET OUT YOUR FEELINGS. Be bold, man!

Some of those Life as a Background Slytherin cartoons that really go after the whole Draco-Harry obsession are beautiful.


S: Pay attention to me, Potter! Why do you have other things going on in your life, Potter? Let me shine like you, Potter!


C: Oh, dear.



S: I’m so pleased.

C: That makes one of us.

S: It’s not my fault your team lost!

C: I flipped over and there’s 30 seconds left in the football game, and my college team is down 5 points to one of our big rivals, so probably going to lose that one too!

S: Well, poor Malfoy will never get the love he wants. They leave the feast and hit a traffic jam, because no one is actually going in the common room.

They’re clustered outside the portrait of the Fat Lady. Here comes Percy:

“What’s the holdup here? You can’t all have forgotten the password — excuse me, I’m Head Boy–“

“Excuse me, it’s actually pronounced Voldemor!” They’re calling Dumbledore. Things must be pretty bad, if we’re invoking Dumbledore. The Fat Lady’s portrait has been completely mangled. Something has slashed it to bits. Dumbledore’s first instinct is to find the Fat Lady, and Peeves chimes in immediately that he knows where the Fat Lady is.

“What do you mean, Peeves?” said Dumbledore calmly, and Peeves’s grin faded a little. He didn’t dare taunt Dumbledore.

I love that there is at least ONE person who intimidates Peeves. There’s only one, but at least there is one. The Fat Lady is hiding in another frame, ran away crying.

“He got very angry when she wouldn’t let him in, you see.” Peeves flipped over and grinned at Dumbledore from between his own legs. “Nasty temper he’s got, that Sirius Black.” 


C: Sorry, did I step on your DUN DUN DUN?

S: That’s okay, my DUN DUN was perfectly suitable with just the two.

C: Doesn’t Sirius know how this works?

S: Yeah, he does.

C: So — oh, wait, he had Neville’s passwords and she still wouldn’t let him in!

S: Yes, he does know how this works, and we will find out next chapter that he had Neville’s passwords. I guess when he found the passwords he thought he’d give it a try.

C: Do you think he found them, or did he steal them?

S: I think he found them, because when would he steal them? Why would he go in the castle if he didn’t think he stood a good chance of getting to Pettigrew?

C: But Neville probably was in Hogsmeade, right? With his bookbag that had the passwords? Sirius probably literally stole them.

S: It is possible.

C: For once, Neville didn’t lose them.

S: But then how did he even know Neville had them? Unless he overheard Neville saying something about them?

C: IT’S NEVILLE. They were probably sticking out of his bag, or he was wandering around folding and re-folding the list and fretting, “Which password will it be this time? Did I write them all down?”

S: It’s very possible that he stole them, realized what he had, and recognized that everyone being at Hogsmeade was a perfect opportunity. Because it seems like they only learn about this now that everyone is going back upstairs. So it didn’t just happen just now, did it? The kids being at Hogsmeade would be the best time to try something, and when the Fat Lady didn’t let him in, he got pissed and sharpened his claws on her face.

Which, is the Fat Lady damaged? I can’t remember that part. Her portrait is damaged. Does that mean she is too? It’s just the portrait, right? It’s like he kicked the door in to her house.

C: Also, did no one notice the giant black dog slinking around outside and inside the castle? Is that normal for Hogwarts? But he knows all the secret passages!

S: We are so dumb. Of course that’s how he came in! We are slow, because it’s been so long since we’ve done this, and that’s my fault.

C: Also, I have been drinking rum.

S: I don’t have an excuse. Well, that’s it for Chapter 8! Thank you for joining us after eons of silence from our end. As always you can find us on Twitter, @admugglestudies, or send us an email to mugglestudiesblog@gmail.com.

I guess that’s it for us! Until next time, I am Professor Seraphine —

C: I am Professor Creed–

S: And we’ll see you next time on Advanced Muggle Studies!

Show Notes

Intro music: “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saens, performed by Kevin McLeod

“Kappa.” Wikipedia.

“Red Cap” Wikipedia.

“Crookshanks.” Harry Potter Wiki.

“Kneazle.” Harry Potter Wiki.


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