Transcript #549


MuggleCast 549 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #549, Female Friendships and Male Vulnerability in Harry Potter

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: On this week’s episode, it’s wizarding Galentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day. We’re getting close to both, so we’re going to spend this episode looking at relationships between the women in the series to celebrate Galentine’s Day – this might be a MuggleCast first – and then we’re going to look at another MuggleCast first, the top seven moments featuring male characters getting emotionally vulnerable, with one another in particular. This is something that doesn’t really happen too often, both in fiction and the real world. And it’s a discussion…

Micah: Oh, it happens in fanfiction.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Just ask Andrew.

Laura: Gotta love fanfiction.

Andrew: We’ll get into that in a moment. But first, just a couple of quick reminders. Don’t forget to follow us on our brand new TikTok; we are now @MuggleCast. @MuggleCastPod no more; we are @MuggleCast. So follow us there for lots of fun stuff. And if you have a moment, we would appreciate a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Both of them have review features and it’ll only take a second to review us. We will not be leaving Spotify.

Micah: [laughs] I was just going to say.

Andrew: While we don’t agree with all of Spotify’s decisions, we do still have to be there, so please review us if you don’t mind. [laughs] Spotify is just a quick starred review; it just takes a split second. And then Apple Podcasts, you can actually write a review. By the way, we do see these reviews, and people write some really nice stuff. Panel, if you’re ever feeling down or anything, just go look at the Apple Podcasts reviews about the show. They are so nice.

Micah: I’m going to do that.

Laura: Agreed.

Discussion: Female friendships in Harry Potter

Andrew: All right, so let’s get straight into our main discussion today. We’re going in two different directions today; both are under the theme of love. We’ll start with female friendships in honor of Galentine’s Day, and then we’re going to look at male characters who show vulnerability, something that’s rare amongst men. [laughs] So first, Laura, what is Galentine’s Day? A lot of people don’t actually even know what this is.

Laura: Yeah, I’m so glad that you asked. Galentine’s Day is actually February 13th, not the 14th, and it’s the day when women celebrate their female friendships. The holiday was “created” in 2010 during an episode of Parks and Recreation, and it’s now become a huge deal and is celebrated across the world amongst women who want to celebrate their friendships and their bonds with each other. Something else that I wanted to say here is an enormous thanks to our social media manager, Chloé. When this concept came up, actually, it was her brainchild; she went all in on the Galentine’s Day research, put together some amazing documentation for me to draw from when I was putting this discussion together, and I just want to say, Chloé is my Galentine.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Aww.

Laura: She’s amazing.

Andrew: That’s so sweet.

Eric: Laura, what’s a bigger holiday, Galentine’s Day or National Pastry Day? What do we think?

Laura: Oh, definitely Galentine’s Day.

Eric: Really? Okay.

Laura: Definitely.

Andrew: Didn’t you and Chloé have a Galentine’s Day of your own this weekend? Didn’t you two hop on the phone and chat?

Laura: Yeah, we hung out. It was super fun.

Andrew: That’s so cute. That’s so great. That’s a MuggleCast first, by the way.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: We don’t hang out with each other.

Andrew: None of us are just like, “You want to talk on the phone?”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: Andrew never calls.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: But I thought it was really interesting that we were approaching a Valentine’s Day-themed discussion looking at the love of friendship. I think oftentimes when it comes to shipping – not just in the Harry Potter fandom, but in general – people tend to prioritize romantic relationships. And to be honest, within the realm of canon, we’ve done that to death. I feel like there is no more romantic development that we can talk about in the core seven Harry Potter books; I think that we’ve just unpacked that theme over and over and over over the years. So it seemed like this was a really cool way to do something different for Valentine’s Day and to celebrate platonic relationships.

Eric: And they’re so important.

Laura: They are.

Eric: I think in our life we’ll have a lot more platonic relationships than romantic relationships.

Andrew: [laughs] Hopefully.

Eric: So to shed some light on those would be very valuable.

Laura: So to kick this off, I wanted to chat a little bit about the importance of female friendships and look into some examples from the Harry Potter books. But I did first want to give a little disclaimer here, acknowledging that the language of “female friendships” or “women friendships,” it can feel antiquated, especially with a lot of the conversations that have been happening in the fandom lately around identity and gender. So I do want to specify that many of the themes present in Galentine’s type relationships cross over to relationships between cis women and gay men, for example, as well as other nonbinary folk. I think that all of these groups can oftentimes have a lot of the same crossover that we typically see represented in cisgendered female friendships. I certainly feel that way myself; there are just some areas of common ground that exist between myself and friends of mine who belong to these groups, and it’s really what makes these friendships so powerful. There are just some things that I’m only going to speak with certain of my friends about, and it’s because of that common ground. So I just wanted to establish that. I didn’t want anyone to feel alienated, or like we’re only talking about assigned female at birth, definitely socialized as female as part of this conversation, as well.

Andrew: That’s fair. We’re leaning into the general theme of Galentine’s Day and what it stands for.

Laura: Right, but I think there’s room for everyone in the conversation, and that’s really what I’m hoping for people to get out of it. So looking at probably the most obvious example of a female friendship in Harry Potter, we can look at Hermione and Ginny. I really like this one, because you could look at Hermione and Ginny and say: Are they best friends?

Eric: That would be hard to justify. I think more often than not, they get lumped together because Hermione is visiting the Burrow for the holidays, and Ginny is the only girl in the Weasley family. They room together; they would inevitably… I think part of friendship when you’re young is exposure; you have friends of proximity. And to that end, I think Ginny and Hermione would get to know each other a lot very early on. Whether that translates into a stronger actual substantive friendship, I don’t know.

Andrew: Yeah. And I’m also just thinking about the situation at the Burrow; you do have Molly, but then you have so many boys there, and Hermione and Ginny just need to stick together and get a break from all these guys. So I wouldn’t call them best friends either, but you see why they immediately latch on to each other. And then you also consider that Hermione, of course, is part of the trio. Again, Ginny is a break from the trio for Hermione.

Micah: Ginny saw opportunity, though. That’s what I think. She was like, “Oh, if I become friends with Hermione, then I can get closer to Harry.”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Micah: I’m just kidding.

Eric: Yeah, I don’t know that it was that strategic. Keep in mind, she is a year younger than everybody else.

Micah: Yeah. And adding on to what you were saying, Eric, though, I think it is interesting that they do become sisters-in-law, and certainly they would bond over that down the road. But I think at school, it is kind of hard to tell. They’re definitely friendly, but I don’t know about best friends.

Laura: Yeah, that’s how I tend to feel as well. I don’t feel like Hermione and Ginny are best friends in the way that Hermione is with Harry and Ron, but there are just certain things that Hermione and Ginny will have common ground about that they’re not going to have with Harry and Ron. And as a result, certain topics that probably get brought up during those times when they’re bunking together at the Burrow or at Grimmauld Place or at the Quidditch World Cup that Harry, the books being told from his point of view, he’s never going to get to see that. I think some really important points here… and again, Chloé, all of these details are just [makes chef’s kiss sound] Ginny knew about Viktor Krum taking Hermione to the ball before Harry and Ron did, she also knew that he and Hermione had kissed way before Harry and Ron ever knew, and that just goes to show that there’s a level of trust and solidarity that these two found in each other. Not to say that they wouldn’t be able to find it with their male friends, but there’s again that degree of common experience, particularly for the two of them, Ginny coming from a family of all brothers and Hermione being the only girl in her friend group. I’m sure they can go to each other and say, “Oh my God, these guys are so annoying.”

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: I was going to say that. Yeah, go on, Micah.

Micah: You mentioned Viktor Krum and it made me think about how the reunion when we transition into Goblet of Fire, it was the coming of age, right? Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix. Do you think that Hermione, Ginny, as they both come of age, they need somebody who’s another female to connect with? Is that just a natural progression for somebody? Just because there are things, to your point, Laura, that they can bond over, they can talk about, that Hermione is not going to be sharing with Harry and Ron.

Laura: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, I think back on all of my female friendships at that particular age, and there were absolutely topics that were completely off-limits with my male friends. It was like, I wouldn’t even go there. But with my girlfriends, we could sit up all night dissecting and just digging into everything, because there was a feeling of that being a safe space.

Eric: Well, having a safe space is definitely huge. Was there also a maturity angle? If you tried to bring up any of these feelings or thoughts with Ron, he would gag and turn red and run for the hills. Some of these topics, I feel like the reason you couldn’t bring them up, the reason that you need to discuss them with other people who share your gender, are because there’s just a lack of maturity or sensitivity around some of these topics, and it would have fallen, I think, short. Telling Ron or confiding in Ron about her feelings for Viktor would not have ended very well for Hermione at all; he would have gotten defensive and all that stuff that he was anyway when he did find out.

Laura: Right, well, Ron was obviously jealous of Viktor, and there’s also that weird sort of dynamic where Ron was obsessed with Viktor to begin with. He was an idol, and then when he found out Mister Steal Your Girl came over to Hogwarts and took Hermione to the Yule Ball, he probably felt really undermined by that and really threatened by that, right?

Eric: Didn’t he have a toy Viktor? He had a little doll?

Laura: He did, and he broke it. Like, let’s talk about fragile ego here.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Harry found Viktor Krum’s broken arm under his bed.

Eric: I hope that wasn’t alive. [laughs]

Laura: I know, it was definitely charmed. But yeah, I think that, again, it goes back to having that common experience. And also, when you’re growing up… I think this is something we can all relate to to some degree; there is that feeling when you’re 14-15 of thinking that you’re feeling things and experiencing things that are completely new, and you’re thinking, “Oh my God, nobody’s ever felt this way before.” But maybe when you’re looking at friends of yours who have common ground with you, a lot of shared experiences, there is that feeling of safety and being able to build each other up, offer each other advice, etc.

Andrew: Yeah. You know that when you come to somebody, like looking back at Hermione, Ginny, they can say whatever they want to each other and it’s a safe space.

Laura: Exactly.

Andrew: Like you’re saying, they will be supported.

Micah: They also had a rather odd bonding – or experience that I guess you could say they could bond over – with the Chamber of Secrets and the Basilisk in that both were victims of Tom Riddle. Ginny, obviously, being taken in and being manipulated throughout the school year, and Hermione inevitably getting Petrified by the Basilisk. I’m not saying that that’s something that people normally bond over, but given that we are talking about the Harry Potter series, it’s something that they could talk about, express their feelings on, I guess.

Laura: Yeah, there’s shared trauma there. And obviously, we’ve made the same argument for Harry and Ginny, too, right? Because they’ve both been possessed by Voldemort.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: I try to think about anybody in Hermione’s year that would be an alternate to Ginny, and I fall short. We don’t really see her relating to any of the girls her age. More often than not, she’s actually antagonistic towards Lavender Brown and other characters, so it’s pretty much… and same with Ginny. We don’t know who Ginny’s friends are that are in her grade that are dormmates really at all.

Laura: Yeah. And that’s one of the more flawed sides of these characters. All characters have them, but both Hermione and Ginny are pretty dismissive towards anyone who comes across as too, in their eyes, excessively feminine or a “girly” girl. And we’ll get to it a little bit later, but I think the argument definitely stands that the author may also have some bias against overly girly girlish women or overly feminine women. I mean, I’ve never seen someone write so much about hating the color pink.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: For starters. That’s scratching the surface. [laughs] There was a really good note here that Chloé included. I feel like we co-planned this. Chloé said, “I wish we could have seen Hermione and Ginny get ready with each other before the Yule Ball. Those are the best moments, getting ready before a night out with your girlfriends.” And I 100% agree. What’s mixed into this is like, there’s pep talks; there’s some nervous preparation; there’s some excitement; your friend is usually helping you prepare your outfit and your makeup and your hair, if you do those things. There’s so much solidarity and advice given, and I just personally have a ton of wonderful memories of doing this with my friends when I was coming of age. And I feel like we miss out by not getting to see more of this side of the female characters, of getting to see them interact directly with each other without a man being present or without talking about a man.

Eric: It’s also such a production, isn’t it, getting ready for a nice ball? There’s the smell of hairspray in the room for hours, and somebody’s mom comes and helps usually, most of the time, I mean, from what I know. I just think it’s a wonderful bonding experience that is missed out in the books, but probably definitely happened.

Laura: Yeah, well, Eric, you have a sister, right?

Eric: I do have a younger sister, yeah.

Laura: So I was going to say, there’s some degree of this, which you probably saw growing up with your sister and her friends.

Eric: Yeah, for sure. Or there’d be sleepovers, and I was the older brother so it’s like, “Ew, get out of here, boy.”

Laura: Right.

[Micah laughs]

Eric: Yeah, from what I saw, there was a lot of bonding going on, a lot of TV, a lot of laughter.

Micah: What’s funny, Laura, is that instead of that, we get Harry and Ron getting ready for the Yule Ball.

Laura: I know. And it’s so tragic, because it’s so stifled and awkward, whereas it would probably be way more fun to be experiencing the conversations that some of the girls are having getting ready, right? It would be a lot more animated, probably, because I think part of it is, too… generally speaking, when you’re looking at these kinds of tropes of teenagers – and Hogwarts is very much presented as a gender binary – it’s like, you have men and women and there shall be no in between, which is a definite criticism that we can have of the series. But with these heightened representations of masculinity and femininity, honestly, feminine representations tend to be more fun to read about because there tends to be more chatter, there’s more social awareness, whereas Ron is wearing his great uncle’s dress robes.

Micah: They look like his Great Aunt Tessie’s, yeah.

Laura: [laughs] Whereas you just have no idea how much you would actually be missing in some of the probably deeper conversations happening in the girls’ dormitory.

Eric: Yeah, Ron is miserable because he’s upset over the Hermione thing because, again, he didn’t voice his feelings. He was not emotionally vulnerable in this moment. He’s upset about Hermione going with Viktor, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. And you know what? He and Harry both show the Patil twins a horrible time.

Micah: Yeah.

Laura: I know.

Andrew: Awful.

Laura: Justice for Parvati and Padma, seriously.

Eric: 100%. I feel so bad for them because of the way that they are treated. And on a girl’s perspective, it would be a lot of fun, you know? “Oh my gosh, is he going to ask me to dance?”, this, that, and the other thing. And to hear the disappointment that they must have felt after Ron and Harry actually show up and are just concentrating in different areas… like, come on, guys.

Laura: Yeah. Well, and also there’s the fame aspect, too; one of the twins was going with Harry Potter. And not to say that Parvati was shallow enough to say, “Oh, I’m just excited to go do this because I’m going with this high profile person,” but I think for anyone, there would be a degree of excitement about that. And then to be effectively left on the dance floor by myself, and not be shown a good time by the person who asked me to go to this big event, when that person is so, so high profile, like… eugh.

Eric: Yeah, the bar is really low, right? Slow dance a little. Look at them in the eye. Be active in the moment. And Harry is too focused on Ron and Ron is too focused on himself and they just… they aren’t.

Laura: Right. That’s such a good way to put it. But shifting a little bit to look at some of what Ginny has confided in Hermione, Hermione knows super early on in the series that Ginny has a crush on Harry. Of course, we all pretty much know; it’s very obvious. The sky is blue and Ginny has a crush on Harry. But Hermione is just a real… she is such a badass friend here. She gives Ginny the advice to just be herself and not be so panicky and nervous around Harry, and that that would probably serve her better than just being incredibly obvious and sending him embarrassing singing Valentines in the hallways during Valentine’s Day. And not only did she give Ginny this stellar advice – even though Harry is her best friend, she didn’t say a damn thing to him.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s trust.

Laura: And that is girl code right there. Just telling you.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: You know someone has your back when they can pick up on the vibes that you’re giving about who you’re into and they’re subtle about it and they don’t go and rat you out.

Andrew: Right, exactly. I hope everybody has had that type of friend in their lives, where you can trust somebody to the grave and they won’t let you down. I think, I mean, at least I – and it sounds like Laura, too, at least – have experienced this type of trust before, and it’s really great. It can be shocking if you’re Harry in the situation; like, “Wait, why didn’t you tell me?” But it does all make sense.

Micah: Yeah, tell them about our friendship, Andrew.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: No, that’s an area where Harry needed to open his eyes. That wasn’t on anyone else to do for him. But yeah, I definitely have an example of this from when I was around this age. I had a middle school boyfriend. I think people, they start dating in middle school, and it’s like, you hold hands and go to the movies and that’s the extent of your love life.

Eric: In middle school? I was married on the school yard in second grade, Laura.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: I guess I started early.

Laura: Wow, look at you.

Eric: Her name was Michelle.

Laura: Aww.

Andrew: And how long did that last, that relationship?

Eric: About a week.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: Then we just both forgot about it.

Andrew: Legit. My first relationship in middle school lasted a week as well; there was one kiss and then God knows what happened after that. I miss you, Kendall. I miss you very much.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: But I remember, actually, a really good friend of mine who lived out of state, she came to visit over the summer. And she met my seventh grade boyfriend and they became friends, just like she and I were friends. And she really liked to write letters, so she and I used to write letters back and forth to each other. And she asked me one time, “Would it be okay if I wrote letters to him? I wanted to ask you first because I didn’t want you to think that I’m trying to like, step in on your man or anything.” Which is so funny looking back on, being 12 years old and taking it that seriously, but you do. It feels like everything at the time. And to me, looking back on that, I was like, “Yeah, she was doing the good girlfriend thing, right?”

Eric: Absolutely.

Laura: She wanted to make sure that I knew she had my back and that she wasn’t trying any funny business.

Eric: Those are good qualities to have as adults all throughout your life, that communication, that checking in, that awareness of how something you do, somebody might take it the wrong way, somebody you care about. Some people with anxiety can’t help but feel those feelings and fears all the time, but if you don’t, you’re kind of left lost having to do that extra work of really trying to be present and say, “What will these actions…? Should I check in with somebody I care about?”

Laura: Right. And then of course, Hermione always knew before anyone else who Ginny was dating. So anytime Ron found out and was super surprised, Hermione was like, “You idiot. That’s been going on forever.”

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: But I will say, and to a point that was raised earlier about some of Hermione and Ginny’s treatment towards other female characters in the series, I think that we can have a critique of these two here. We’re maybe viewing them as a pair as friends who can think that they’re being supportive of maybe each other, or their families or their friends, by viewing others as threats or competition. I’m thinking specifically about Fleur Delacour. Hermione and Ginny are really dismissive towards her. So is Molly Weasley.

Eric: Yep.

Laura: And it’s that trope about ultra femininity that Fleur represents that no one likes about her.

Micah: I was going to say, though, too, do you think it has to do with the fact that this is the first woman that is coming into their family? It’s the first Weasley that’s getting married, right? Bill?

Eric: Even before that, in Goblet of Fire, when Ron is just goo goo gaga over the Veela, and there’s that rivalry of… Ron is just so enamored, and Hermione is like, “I’m right here. I’ve been right here all along.”

Micah: Yeah, no, I definitely think there’s something to that. I guess more so from the standpoint of somebody like Molly, seeing herself maybe being threatened in a way, right? She’s the matriarch of the family, and now all of a sudden her oldest… or is Charlie older? But one of her older sons – sorry, there’s so many – is getting married, right? And there’s a woman that’s coming into the family. There’s certainly some xenophobia at play here as well, which I know we’ve talked about on other episodes. But yeah, I can definitely see that. And to Laura’s point, Ginny and Hermione are not nice – neither is Molly – towards Fleur.

Eric: There’s got be a way where you can have your friendship and not tear another woman down. There’s got to be a way to talk about it that doesn’t involve…

Laura: There is.

Eric: Okay, you’re sure? Laura, you’ve discovered this?

Laura: [laughs] 100%. It’s actually funny that the example of Fleur comes up during this conversation, because I met a friend when I was in college. She was an exchange student; she was tall, blonde, French, and gorgeous, and everyone was obsessed with her. And she’s a great person and a very dear friend, and there were definitely some women who were feeling a little bit threatened by her, right? And it’s funny because I see those similarities in the way that the British Harry Potter contingent treats Fleur, right? Because she’s beautiful, she’s obviously very intelligent – she got into the Triwizard Tournament – and she’s a little bit exotic for England or Scotland when they’re in school, right?

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: No offense to our UK listeners. But I definitely noticed a similar vibe towards my friend at times because of who she was. And like we said earlier, I think it also shows that the author may have some bias towards women like Fleur, who fit that stereotypical, ultra-feminine idea of womanhood.

Andrew: Going back to the pink point that you brought up.

Laura: Yeah, the pink, the also constantly describing Parvati and Padma, who as readers, I think we’re conditioned to find annoying because of the way they’re written, but they’re constantly described as being giggly. Umbridge speaks with a girlish voice. Pink is a bad color. We know the author hates pink; she was very clear about that in interviews outside of the books. But yeah, generally, anytime someone is described as being giggly or fawning over someone or having doe eyes for somebody, it’s not really captured in a flattering light in the way these books are written. Which is unfair, because there are a lot of very valid ways to be a woman, and a if ultra femininity is who you are, that’s okay. And if it’s not, that’s also okay.

Micah: One other point of comparison that I wanted to make and get your thoughts on is Hermione is obviously very book smart. Ginny could be argued to be very street smart and just seems to have these qualities about her. She’s described many times as doing these things that are really beyond her age, right? A lot of times we hear Harry is doing things that he shouldn’t be doing at his age. So I’m just curious, do you think that’s something that potentially they see in each other that they could have bonded over, with Hermione being the one who’s very good on the academic side? I’m not saying Ginny isn’t… I don’t remember her grades off of the top of my head, but she seems to be more of the street smart of the two.

Laura: Yeah, when I think of Ginny, I think of more applied skills. We see more than once in the books, Hermione has got the theory down, but it doesn’t always translate to her being good at things right off the bat. Whereas Ginny does very impressive magic, from a very young age, that kind of surprises people, so I do think of them as two sides of the same coin in that regard. But what I also appreciate about them is that we do get a glimpse into seeing that they’re not afraid to push back on one another. There’s one point in Half-Blood Prince, I think it is, where Hermione is talking smack about Quidditch and Ginny just snaps at her and is like, “Don’t pretend you know anything about Quidditch,” and Hermione doesn’t know what to say to it. And I think that’s a really important part of being a supportive friend, too, is knowing when to call each other out, when to tell your friend, “Hey, you’re out of line there,” even if it’s a lower stakes type conversation.

Micah: And not only that, but appreciating the things that your friends are interested in to know enough to not completely debase what somebody else is interested in.

Laura: Right, exactly. Well, another theme I want to look at is the idea of sisterhood in friendships, and I think a really good pair to look at for this is Ginny and Luna. So Ginny and Luna really start out as acquaintances; we’re led to believe that they become closer over the course of the final three books. They’re involved in Dumbledore’s Army; they go to the Department of Mysteries together. We know that Luna has this wonderful, just wholesome portraits of all of her friends painted in her room, even though I wouldn’t say as a group that they’ve been nice enough to her up until that point to really deserve it.

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Laura: But it just goes to show what a good person Luna is. But what I appreciate about Ginny from the very beginning, when we first meet Luna, is that she’s always nice to her, even when it would be easy to be mean to her because everyone else is. It’s socially acceptable to be rude to Luna, and Ginny doesn’t do it. There’s one point where Ron is incredulous that Harry is taking Luna Lovegood – “Loony” Lovegood, as he calls her – to the Slug Club party, and Ginny calls him out and is like, “Don’t call her that,” and is like, “Hey, Harry, I’m really glad you’re taking her; she is so excited.” This is some other solidarity that I’ve just got to call out, because we know that Ginny still has a flame for Harry at this point. She’s holding the torch out for him. But she respects Luna as her friend, and she also respects who Harry is as a person by taking a friend of his to a party. Where he could have been really shallow and said, “I want to ask out the most popular girl in my year,” instead he asked his friend, and Ginny applauds that for him. There’s also this subtext that you could maybe read into it that Chloé pulled out of it, which I love, because again, I think this just speaks to some of the unspoken dynamics that happen in really good and strong female friendships. It’s possible that Ginny talked to Luna about the Slug Club party and felt comfortable telling her that she was going with Harry, and it could also mean that Luna knew Ginny liked Harry and wanted her blessing. Kind of like when my friend was like, “Is it okay if I talk to your boyfriend? Is that going to be weird? Are you going to feel uncomfortable with that?” It could mean that Luna picked up on the signs that Ginny had a thing for Harry, and was like, “Hey, he asked me. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Are you okay with this?” And I love the idea of – this is my headcanon now – of them having this conversation and having this unspoken understanding that if you’re going to pursue someone that your friend was interested in, you should have a conversation about it instead of just doing it.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Eric: That’s real good. I would say also, the Ginny and Luna relationship, their friendship is unique in a different way, which is to say it’s one of the few inter-House friendships that exists. We really don’t have many examples of this in the books. And I think that how it started was they probably had classes together, and Luna was awkward or shining in some of her behaviors in these classes, Ginny takes notice, and is like, “Oh, you know what? Yeah, she marches to the beat of her own drum, but she’s cool enough,” to then defend her to everyone from her brother to Harry to the rest of the school. And I just love that aspect of Ginny, where she is independently thinking about Luna at all, and then arrives at the conclusion that “No, Luna is cool; we can be friends.”

Laura: Yeah, I agree.

Eric: And she’s not somebody that caves to social stigma. And if you’ve ever had a friend who’s unpopular in school – if you’ve ever had me as a friend – then you’re doing the same calculation…

Andrew: Right.

Eric: … going, “Hey, probably got something good going on here, even though socially not accepted.”

Micah: One of the things, too, that I was just thinking about – and I had to do a quick Google search – is that when we think about Luna supporting the Gryffindor Quidditch team, we automatically think it’s in support of Harry, but I think you can easily make the argument it’s in support of Ginny.

Laura: Yeah, or just her friends in general, because what, Gryffindor was playing Slytherin in that match?

Micah: With the lion head.

Laura: Yeah, I think Gryffindor is playing Slytherin, so because Ravenclaws didn’t really have a dog in that fight, Luna was like, “Well, I’m going to support my friends.”

Micah: Luna, I could see her supporting Gryffindor over Ravenclaw, honestly.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: But maybe… I don’t know.

Laura: Yeah, if she thought it was the right thing to do, she would.

Eric: If she thought they were the underdog or the not favored one.

Laura: Right. I do want to point out something, though, and it’s something that occurs to me as we’re having this conversation, and I think some people have observed this in the Discord: Harry Potter really does not pass the Bechdel Test, which is basically, do you have two women in the same space talking about something that is not a man? And it’s pretty rare to find that in Harry Potter, especially with the main character being Harry. But something that I really do want to call out here is that much of Ginny and Luna’s relationship seems to be based on things that are not men, which is great. Ginny standing up for Luna has nothing to do with a conversation about a man, for example, whereas a lot of the bond that we see with Hermione and Ginny I think does have to do with the men in their lives, whether it’s getting some kind of break from them in their friendship with each other, or venting about romantic issues they might be having in their own lives. I think that that’s a pretty heavy theme with them that doesn’t seem to be as present with Ginny and Luna. So it might be one of the only relationships that passes the Bechdel Test in these books, and we don’t see very much of it.

Eric: I support that.

Laura: And then the last note that I wanted to bring up here is the idea of support and compassion in relationships or female friendships, and I think this is a theme that has been interwoven throughout this conversation. But honestly, although they take a lot of crap, Lavender and Parvati have a really strong friendship. They have each other’s backs. We see it as early as Book 3, where… I forget, is it Parvati’s rabbit that dies or Lavender’s? Binky.

Eric: I think it’s Lavender’s.

Laura: It’s Lavender’s, okay. And Hermione is being kind of dismissive about Lavender’s emotions around her rabbit dying.

Eric: Hugely.

Laura: She’s being obtuse about it. She’s like, “Well, how could you have known that your rabbit was going to die?” when really, the issue was she was sad her rabbit died, right? But Parvati has her back through all of that. They also have a really strong shared passion for Divination, and because Divination is a subject that is generally scoffed at, so is their academic interest. And how are two teenagers sharing a love of an academic pursuit a bad thing? I don’t get it. Maybe you don’t like the subject; that’s fine, but the fact that they were both so studious and interested in this field is a great thing. I mean, think of all the other things teenagers can be into.

Eric: [laughs] Right.

Laura: And I feel like it gets forgotten that Lavender and Parvati have this shared interest in Divination, because there’s also a heavy degree to which they’re described as giggling and they seem to talk about boys a lot. And as a result of that, I think in the book it gets lost that there’s this really strong foundational part of their friendship that is based on an academic interest.

Eric: I think that it’s possible that Parvati and Lavender are closer than Parvati and Padma, because they have a House between them; they don’t sleep in the same dorms. So I think the friendship there is real strong.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, Parvati and Padma presumably grew up together, right? So that’s a different kind of sisterhood, maybe, than you see represented between Lavender and Parvati, but I think it’s a point well taken. Another one I wanted to mention that maybe doesn’t get as much love is Tonks and Molly. So we know that Tonks confided her feelings of Remus Lupin to Molly Weasley, and according to MuggleNet, was often at the Burrow for tea and sympathy, so I just think…

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, I think…

Laura: Go ahead.

Andrew: To confide in somebody about somebody you had feelings for, I think, is really significant. If you think about who you speak to in your day-to-day life, who are you telling about your relationships? And it’s typically early, and it’s typically somebody who you really trust and are close to. So I think that’s a really good call-out. There’s something there that isn’t explored too much, or as much as it could have been.

Eric: It’s also, this is not something you see a lot in Harry Potter, but friendships that cross an age range, because everybody’s the same age group, everybody’s the same grade. But because Tonks is interested in Remus and he’s considerably older than her, it really helps that she has a friend in Molly to confide in, because Molly has more experience and also knows Remus for longer and has more insight that she could possibly give to Tonks. Just having friends of all age ranges is also a huge call-out here, so for Tonks and Molly to be friends, to be able to confide in each other, that’s huge.

Laura: I think it’s also mentorship in a way, right? There are definitely women in my life who are older than me, in some cases by a few years, in some cases old enough to be my mother, who I would say have been mentors to me. And they’ve been people that I could go to in moments of doubt, in moments of uncertainty, where I was trying to grow and going through some of those more uncomfortable adolescent, early adulthood moments where they had experience going through those things themselves and could offer their advice, wisdom, and sometimes some hard truths. I really hope – and it is my headcanon – that Molly gave Tonks some really constructive feedback around her relationship with Remus and why it’s not acceptable for someone to make you feel on the one hand wanted but then make you feel like you’re second rate or you’re forgotten or they can’t make up their mind about you the next. So I would really hope that Molly was acting as somewhat of a mentor to Tonks, because we don’t really know how close Tonks was to her own mother. I mean, we do see her at one point, but I think it’s interesting that she’s going to Molly to talk about this and not her mom.

Eric: That is really interesting, because by all accounts, Andromeda Black is pretty friggin’ cool.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: She seems cool, right?

Eric: Yeah, she’s awesome. But sometimes you also need to not tell your parents everything, right?

Laura: Right. No, that’s true. And then just a few other notable female friendships: We could probably do a whole other episode on this discussion, but definitely wanted to call out Sprout and McGonagall…

Eric: Yes.

Laura: … who we’ve actually spoken about pretty recently, who overlapped years at Hogwarts. Cho and Marietta; I think Cho in particular gets a lot of undeserved hate, particularly for the movie portrayal of her in Order of the Phoenix. And then Katie, Angelina, and Alicia, who are on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. The three of them are really tight too.

Andrew: It’s one of those things. It’s too bad there just wasn’t more, but on the other hand, there’s already so much in these stories. You think about how could it have been fit in? But I guess that’s what fanfiction is for or maybe potential spinoffs one day.

Eric: TV series.

Andrew: Yeah, those too. You would think these relationships might be better highlighted in a TV series so it’s not totally a boys’ club.

Eric: I would want that, yeah.

Laura: Same.

Eric: And I would want it handled creatively, like really interesting subplots. Find out more about Binky, Lavender’s rabbit. I’m totally interested.

Discussion: Male vulnerability in Harry Potter

Andrew: Okay, so now we are going to discuss the top seven moments male characters were emotionally vulnerable in the Harry Potter series. I think, Eric, this may have been your idea. I think it’s a really good one, because too often in our own lives, men do not open up; they are not emotionally vulnerable. And I’ll speak to that a little bit. Not me; I’m perfect. [laughs] But other people…

Eric: I was going to say, I can’t imagine what it’s like to try and date us, honestly.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: It’s real bad. I feel bad for everyone who’s had to try and date an emotionally unavailable man, or person in general. But yeah, it’s a big deal when men get vulnerable emotionally. I think it’s the cornerstone of a relationship, would be communication and trust; at least, that’s how I feel now. And I think that it’s such a key moment. So we wanted to highlight moments where characters in Harry Potter… we think of like, mostly it’s a Gryffindor show, so these just valiant Gryffindors that are not talking about any of their feelings, especially like Ron in year four, and how it all just blows up in their face as a result. So we wanted to highlight the top seven moments – bring back an old favorite segment of top seven – and also highlight moments where it really worked out, highlight moments where choosing to be emotionally vulnerable succeeded for that person; really helped them out of a pickle. And so I think that’s what the spirit was going into this discussion, and I’m really excited to get into it.

Andrew: Yeah. Number seven, Harry asking Cho Chang to the Yule Ball. Of course, this is from Goblet of Fire. So after trying for weeks to find Cho alone, thus minimizing his embarrassment in case it went badly, Harry does find Cho and is finally able to ask her, “Wangoballwime?”

[Eric laughs]

Laura: So awkward.

Andrew: And the good thing for Harry here is that although Cho reveals that she has been asked out already, this statement of intent from Harry to ask her out does end up creating the possibility later that they would go on a date, so he’s opening up the line of communication there. It is a good first step. But I think a common thread with several of these that we’re bringing up today is that too often when you are emotionally unavailable, when you do finally manage to open up, it’s too late, and this is a perfect example of that. And we’ve got a Dumbledore example later; it’s like, “Dude, where have you been?”

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: Guys take too long, and at that point, the damage is done. You waited too long.

Eric: For Harry, I wanted to highlight our hero first, particularly because he’s written by a woman, too; you would expect him to have this sense of emotion, at least at certain points, this intuitive self-reflection side, and he really doesn’t, for the most part. But those moments where he can put himself out there and really try when he’s familiar enough with how he’s feeling to act on it, and have it not always go okay, is very excellent. So I do like that ultimately, you have to let the people that you’re romantically interested in – or at least interested in trying to date – know that you’re interested in them, because they don’t know. You might think that they know. They don’t know. You’ve got to tell them. It’s not going to happen on its own either, so I think that Harry’s moment is very important. And sure enough, after Cedric’s untimely death and after the grieving process, Cho knows at least that Harry has been interested in her. And when she can lean on somebody for emotional support, I know it doesn’t go perfectly well, but because of what they shared together already, and that previous stated intent to date, they go on a date. And it happens all because Harry was vulnerable.

Andrew: Again, though, could have done it sooner, bud. Could’ve done it sooner. [laughs]

Eric: Maybe. He wasn’t sure. He was still not…

Andrew: Look, I get it, of course. I have struggled to ask girls out to the ball as well.

Laura: I was going to say, he was 14 at the time, and it is scary. I mean, hell, even as an adult it’s scary to put yourself out there like that when you are pursuing someone romantically. Remember, when you were 14, it was amplified; everything felt like it was a huge deal.

Andrew: The scariest thing in your life.

Eric: It was terrifying. The first dates I ever went on, they asked me, because that was so much easier for me.

Andrew: Right.

Eric: And then the second time, when I went to prom, I asked the whole school on the morning announcements, because it was not emotionally vulnerable. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh my gosh.

Eric: I was just like, “Any takers?”

Micah: Wow. Clever.

Micah: Well, that’s putting yourself out there.

Laura: That is putting yourself out there.

Eric: My chemistry teacher told me that a girl in class laughed. I ended up taking her to the prom.

Micah: Nice.

Laura: Oh, that’s a cool story. [laughs]

Eric: But anyway, enough about me. Let’s move on to Hagrid. So Hagrid is somebody that, unlike the typical male character in Harry Potter, he is very emotional in general.

Andrew: Yes.

Eric: He does have larger moods, mood swings, moments where he is clearly being vulnerable, and moments where the world is real tough for him. But I wanted to point out one moment in particular in Goblet of Fire, where Rita Skeeter releases her article revealing his half-breed status of being a half-giant. And apart from all the reasons why Rita Skeeter is the absolute worst, which I’m sure we’ve talked about before and can again, Hagrid goes into this huge funk and depression. He basically stays in his hut. He refuses to teach classes; they have to bring in Grubbly-Plank to teach Care of Magical Creatures. The trio actually can’t get a hold of him – even the trio, he’s not letting them in – and he becomes withdrawn and he’s very, very upset. It’s not until… I mean, weeks go by of this, and eventually the trio bang on the door; they’re like, “We are not taking no for an answer. You have to let us in.” And Hagrid, of course, is upset about the article that Rita Skeeter wrote; he’s just convinced that nobody is going to like him anymore now that they know that he’s half-giant, and that they won’t want their kids taught by him and all this stuff. And it’s really in voicing his concern in the face of his friends… he might already know what they’re going to say, but you’ve still got to go through the motion of like, “Here’s what I’m afraid of,” and have somebody be able to talk you off that ledge, and that’s what the trio does. And Dumbledore is there too. They basically have to be like, “Oh, what’s your issue? Okay, it’s this half giant-thing.” Even Harry is like, “Look at what I’ve got for cousins, and they’re awful people, but it doesn’t matter because they’re family and you’re my friend,” and it’s this huge moment. So I think it’s… the moment that we celebrate is Hagrid just being able, after all this time, to voice his specific concern so that it can get addressed.

Laura: It was a violation of his privacy, certainly. In the end, it did give him the freedom to be authentically himself. I do think it’s interesting that you noted that Hagrid just seems to have bigger emotions than the typical male representation within the Harry Potter books, and I wonder if it’s at the very least implied that that’s because he’s half-giant.

Andrew: I was thinking this, too, just of the juxtaposition of how could such a large, burly half-giant be so emotionally vulnerable, be the one who cries openly in front of students? I think Rowling was going for something like that there maybe. And also, you have to think about the fact that Hagrid was one of the trio’s close friends.

Laura: And also his love of animals; we can’t forget that. He’s very tender with animals.

Eric: Well, and he’s a proud mother to Norbert, or Norberta, which is an adorable scene.

Laura: Yep. “He knows his mummy.”

Eric: “He knows his mummy.” Yeah, I just find it… when talking about these men that are emotionally unavailable, and in the hypothetical, I came across some men that don’t make this list, but who ultimately are very emotional. Mr. Weasley I think is one, and Neville is another. Neville is very often outwardly upset and we know why, and the trio consoles him. But they’re in tune with their emotions. When they are vulnerable, when they talk about why they’re upset, it’s not a big deal, because they’re so used to it. They’re in touch with their emotions. So it doesn’t make this list because this is not an odd decision or a hard decision for them to do, ultimately. So moving on, we’ve got number five next.

Micah: Yeah, so Sirius Black, he asks Harry to live with him during Prisoner of Azkaban. And Sirius has no way of knowing that Harry already knows a little bit about his godfather, so he is taking a real risk when he reveals that he would like Harry to consider maybe living with him. So setting aside later Book 5, Molly Weasley’s BS commentary about Sirius and Harry’s true relationship, Sirius here really is the kind of guy who can give Harry the home and the summer vacations he’s always deserved. And it’s a near-perfect moment, only made more powerful by Harry’s extreme enthusiasm for the idea, and maybe even more so by the tragic outcome of it falling short. And I’m thinking back to the Prisoner of Azkaban movie when the two of them are talking about it; they’re looking up at Hogwarts, and it’s a very tender moment because that’s really home for both of them. But they’re having a conversation about Harry coming to live with him, and I think that would have just been the ideal scenario, Petunia’s love protection notwithstanding. I think it’s what Harry would have really wanted, and to your point, Eric, really, really benefited from.

Eric: It touches me deeply, this moment, and Sirius is taking a real risk. And Harry is like, “Are you insane?” and I think for a moment, Sirius is like, “Oh, he hates the idea.” He’s genuinely hurt by this. And then Harry is like, “When can I move in?” Just the range of emotions on display there from both of them is a really proud moment, a really important, pivotal moment.

Andrew: And I also just admire one man helping another man on something that doesn’t involve a power drill.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: What is this, tool time?

Andrew: [laughs] This is just a deeply important matter. I know Harry is not grown here, but just think about how often do you see two grown adults being like, “I’m going to help you out with that major life issue”? I would guess not too often; I’m sure it happens. But I’m just looking at this from the perspective of two mature people being like, okay, one of them really has to help the other out in a life changing way.

Eric and Micah: Yeah.

Eric: I mean, Harry is abused at Privet Drive. He is absolutely…

Micah: But Dumbledore is cool with that. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, Dumbledore is cool with it because of the love.

Micah: That’s a whole ‘nother conversation. But I also think, Andrew, to your point, it is important to remember that Sirius is doing this out of love for James.

Andrew: [fake cries] Yeah.

Micah: It’s his godchild, but it’s also his best friend’s son.

Eric: He’s doing him a solid.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Micah: And then one of the benefits is that this is taking place at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, immediately reversing Sirius as a villain and making him a very close confidant and really a family for Harry. It sets up a year of on-the-run correspondence between the two of them, which is really different than the relationship that Harry and Lupin have, even though that’s special in its own right. It’s kind of like he has two dads, and they’re two very opposite ends of the coin.

Eric: One of them writes him; the other one doesn’t. Lupin never writes Harry. I don’t know why.

Andrew: He’s busy trying to have a kid.

Eric: That’s later.

Laura: Or trying to run away from having a kid for a while.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah, not his finest moment. Something else I want to point out, too, is that Harry is kind of saving Sirius in this moment too. I mean, Sirius, he was in prison for 13 years, and even though he was found to be innocent, I think we can just speak to the real world stigma that comes for people who’ve been in prison. It’s incredibly unfair. And someone like Sirius, even if his name had been cleared all over the wizarding world, I think it’s fair to say that there would have been an enormous stigma on him for having been in Azkaban that long. There would probably be some lingering doubt amongst some members of the wizarding world thinking, “Nah, I think he did it. I don’t think he’s actually innocent.” Harry absolves him of that in this moment by being so enthusiastic about coming to live with a person he’s literally known for like, half a day, maybe less.

Micah: Well, and Harry does it… I mean, looking at the two examples that we just read, he does it in back-to-back books, right? He does it for Hagrid, and then he does it for Sirius, to your point, Laura.

Laura: The next one, number four – this one’s a big one. So this is during the King’s Cross chapter at the end of Deathly Hallows when Dumbledore finally apologizes to Harry. Took you long enough, bro. He tells Harry that he could never be the type of man that Harry is and apologizes for being so consumed by power, tells Harry that it’s exactly the reason why he was never a Minister of Magic, because he was so power-hungry himself, and he asks Harry for forgiveness, and Harry gives it to him. That’s a huge moment of vulnerability for both of those characters. Harry in that moment could have cursed Dumbledore’s name for putting him through all of this, for effectively sending him on a suicide mission, and instead, he forgives him for everything.

Eric: Huge. And if he had decided to cuss out Dumbledore, it wouldn’t matter. Dumbledore is dead; he wouldn’t have even heard him. But no, he is the bigger person here. But it’s weird how… I mean, Dumbledore is described as being like a child; he’s withdrawn, he’s kind of tail between legs about this whole thing. He reveals about his lust for power and how it ruined important relationships with his family and friends in his life. Dumbledore is really being vulnerable. And although Harry’s approval or absolution is not something he had a chance, let’s say, to seek in life, he does get it here. And I have to believe that that contains… that is a benefit, a net positive, for Dumbledore, even though it’s afterlife Dumbledore.

Laura: And I think he does… oh, go ahead.

Andrew: He did do it while he was dead, though, so it makes it harder to give him credit.

Eric: And it might have been in Harry’s head that he apologized. [laughs]

Andrew: I know we’re going for the angle of we’ve got to give these guys a pat on the back for the vulnerability, but getting back to my point earlier, what took so long? I have somebody in my life who took way too long to get emotionally vulnerable and to admit that he wasn’t a perfect person, and by the time he reached that point, he was at rock bottom. This isn’t a relationship; this is another matter. He was at rock bottom. If you came clean earlier, if you opened up earlier, if you were willing to not always put on that tough guy, always right attitude type of thing, you could have been emotionally vulnerable. [emotionally] This is turning into a therapy session. Forget about it.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: No, my point is having some certain lived experiences in my life, I get frustrated to see these guys in Harry Potter take so long to finally get to a certain point. And in the case of Dumbledore, it is kind of too late to come clean like this.

Laura: You know what, though, Andrew? I think this might make you feel better. I actually feel like this number four here on the list says way more about Harry, who is very much alive and conscious… well, he’s unconscious in this moment.

Eric: I don’t know about that moment, yeah.

Laura: You know what I mean.

Eric: Yeah, maybe not the best… yeah.

Laura: I think it says way more about Harry’s vulnerability and Harry’s ability to level with himself about what has happened to him and make the conscious choice to forgive for what has happened. Something that I know we’ve all heard in therapy, right? Forgiveness is not for the person being forgiven; it’s for you, because it hurts you way more in the long term to hold a grudge than it hurts the other person that you’re holding a grudge against, right? So I think this is actually a huge moment of emotional vulnerability for Harry with himself. Does that help, Andrew?

Andrew: Yeah, it does help. It does help. And I give Dumbledore credit for opening up, I really do. I just… people keep it inside themselves.

Laura: Oh, I agree.

Andrew: People are raised to be that tough guy, that perfect person, you can’t show vulnerability, you have to be tough for the family, and that poisons them for the rest of their lives.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, this is in the grave, we’re meeting Dumbledore here. He literally took it to his death. And you could also argue that it was like, “Oh, the chess pieces, Harry had to absolutely get to exactly this moment,” before you could find out, what? That Dumbledore is emotional? That Dumbledore is vulnerable? That Dumbledore made some mistakes in his life? That’s what Book 7 ruminates on so successfully, that Dumbledore was a flawed person. And the sooner he admitted that to himself and to the world, I think, it would have been better for him emotionally.

Andrew: All right, so moment number three: Dudley telling Harry, “I don’t think you’re a waste of space.” This costs Dudley nothing but it threw a layer of compassion into the world, and it also really redeemed Dudley to an extent. It was a good closing point for these two, after many years of bullying and so much hatred coming from this family. And the benefit here was that though they didn’t share a happy childhood together, this act built a bridge, which later grew into a rewarding and cathartic future for both of them. And I really admire Dudley here because unlike Dumbledore – wait until death or Harry’s head…

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: … Dudley is developing a lot earlier. He’s maturing emotionally. He said, “You know what, Mom and Dad? How you treated Harry, that’s wrong, and I’m going to try…” Things maybe weren’t perfect, but they were better.

Eric: There’s definitely some headcanon that Dudley eventually has children and one or more of them is magical, and so he has to consult Harry about what to do and learn to be a more empathetic person.

Micah: I know we’re talking about the Dudley/Harry relationship, but I always really loved that scene from Deathly Hallows – Part 2 with Petunia. And I’m almost sad that that wasn’t in the books, the way that that was written with Fiona Shaw and her talking about losing a sister. I just think that… I don’t know. A missed opportunity, because didn’t they cut the whole Dudley scene from the last film?

Andrew: They did. They filmed it, though.

Micah: Maybe a deleted scene.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s a deleted scene.

Eric: I think it takes place on the driveway.

Andrew: Yeah, I can’t remember if he uses these exact words, but there’s definitely a deleted scene that they shot.

Laura: I think they shake hands or something like that.

Micah: “Bro.”

Eric: That’s a man way of showing emotion.

Andrew: God forbid we talk.

Laura: “Sorry, bro.”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Eric: I will say, I’m going to revise my initial statement that it cost Dudley nothing, because he is kind of standing up to his parents directly. And it’s so unexpected, because it’s an offhanded comment that Harry makes to Hestia Jones that’s there picking them up and they’re going to cart the Dursleys off to safety. But Dudley is like, “You know, when it comes down to it, I don’t think you’re a waste of space, actually. You’re wrong.” And that’s all he says, but Harry doesn’t even know what to do with it. He’s like, “Thank God he exhausted all of his efforts bringing up his emotion there because I don’t know how I’m even going to handle this.” But it’s important, and it was really important for Dudley to let Harry know that. I think it really helped Harry in the end.

Andrew: Yeah. Oh, I agree. I would’ve loved to hear that from him.

Eric: Getting down to number two of seven, we’ve got Draco Malfoy, and particularly the moment when he tries and fails to kill Dumbledore but keeps up the conversation with Dumbledore. So we know how this plays out. Both in the book and in the movie, Dumbledore is very, very, very sympathetic to Draco’s struggles, but particularly it takes somebody hitting… this actually goes right to Andrew’s point about hitting rock bottom. Malfoy is at rock bottom right now.

Andrew: Yeah. His back’s against the wall. He is out of time. It’s now or never.

Eric: So I know you said we didn’t want to celebrate this… [laughs] men hitting rock bottom and being emotional.

Andrew: Well, I’ll try to be positive in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, because they do do it. [laughs] Even if a gun’s to their head.

Eric: Malfoy just says out loud, “I have no options. I don’t have any options.” And Dumbledore is really interested in letting him know, “We can protect your family,” he offers. He’s really trying to do it. And Malfoy, who is one of the best examples of being a product of your upbringing, has been raised to hate Dumbledore just on principle, has been raised for the pure-blood cause and the Death Eater cause, and he’s slowly over the course of a year been woken up to realize that that is so taxing on his health personally, because Voldemort is going to kill him, and it’s a huge revelation. But so Draco getting to that point – it took long enough – inevitably does set him… and I think Dumbledore being nice to him sets him up to make the transition back towards the light and towards eventually redemption, whether he saves Harry’s life in Deathly Hallows or something later down the line.

Laura: Yep. And without this moment, I think we could argue that the very emotionally vulnerable friendship that Harry and Draco’s sons have in the Cursed Child wouldn’t have been possible, and then the smash hit fanfiction “Never Sever Us” would have never come to be, so…

Andrew: [laughs] That’s a good point.

Micah: Available Valentine’s Day, right, Andrew?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: I’ll do a reading of it. I should do a reading and I should record.

Eric and Micah: You should.

Laura: You really should. I love this.

Andrew: I think I did record it. Really?

Micah: I’ll read some of it.

Andrew: Oh my God, you would? Okay.

Micah: Yeah, I’ll read it.

Andrew: Sign me up. Okay, I need to go find that.

Micah: We’ve said this before. I’ll read a chapter or a page or… how long is it?

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Take the most explicit page.

Andrew: It’s not very long.

Micah: Okay, a couple sentences. All right, are we ready for number one?

Eric: Yeah, I want to see what this is. We’ve had six very good moments of men choosing to be vulnerable.

Micah: Yes, and we will wrap it up with Ron returning in Deathly Hallows, agreeing to be the one to destroy the locket Horcrux, and he does. There’s a lot of tough stuff that comes out of that locket that he is faced with, and he follows it up by apologizing for leaving them. So not only is he faced with his worst fears – there’s things about him being the least loved of the Weasley children, he sees Harry and Hermione getting it on, and… [laughs] I’m keeping it PG. And how tough it must be for somebody to literally see his worst fears in front of him, manifesting not only in front of himself, but in front of Harry, his best friend, but then finding it within himself to be able to destroy that Horcrux.

Eric: I think it’s just a real full circle moment for Ron, because whether he is choosing to be or not, originally he is emotionally vulnerable. We are all vulnerable people; we are not made of stone. And the Horcrux, wearing the locket over the last several months before he left them is the perfect example of it wearing him down, and that’s why Harry being a good friend is like, “No, you should be the one to actually destroy this, because this one is personal. This one has gotten in your head.” And Ron’s ability to apologize and to realize his mistake, and he tells them, “I wanted to come back as soon as I had left, and I couldn’t.” These moments… nothing short of that would bring Ron back to them and actually have them restore the friendship. If he half-assed it, if he said, “Oh, I’m kind of sorry; I missed the tent a little bit, it’s cool,” they never would have brought him back into their circle of trust, and he absolutely would not have been able to proceed with them through the rest of the story. It was very important that Ron be as vulnerable and as truthful as possible to them when returning, tail between his legs, because that is how you regain trust. I expect that many people will experience what it is like to inadvertently harm someone or lose their trust, and the process of gaining it back is not easy, but I think the map on how to do that is exactly what Ron did: Be as honest as possible, be as self-reflective as possible, and give it time. Be patient.

Laura: And through doing that, he got the Sword of Gryffindor.

Eric: Pretty nice prize, right?

Laura: Right.

Micah: He also learned Voldemort’s name was taboo, right? Or was that just a movie-ism?

Laura: No, I think that’s right.

Eric: That’s definitely in the book.

Laura: I think that’s a book-ism too.

Micah: Yeah, that’s pretty important.

Andrew: Yeah. And I mean, the apology alone is really big, especially in a tough time like this, and to friends you’ve known for so long. So yeah, I think this was a good call-out, and especially putting it in the top spot.

Eric: I do want to thank my girlfriend, Meg, for helping me come up with these. She remembers a lot more about Deathly Hallows than I did and was a key component in a lot of these, so thanks to Meg. Thanks to Chloé for helping us with the Galentine’s thing.

Andrew: Yeah, thank you to both.

Laura: I know, look at these partnerships this week.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: I love it.

Eric: It’s real strong on the partnerships, yeah.

Andrew: And me and Micah just sat back. We’re like, “Eh, okay. We’ll show up. Sure.” [laughs]

Laura: Be vulnerable, guys.

Andrew: Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Galentine’s Day. And if you have any feedback about today’s discussion, you can contact us by writing or sending a voice message to, or you can call us, 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. If you are sending us a voice message, just try to record in a quiet, safe place, and keep your message about a minute long. And we also have the contact form on, if you want to write to us that way. And coming up on next week’s episode, we are doing a mailbag, and we will also unveil the results of our major Hogwarts House poll amongst the listeners. Now it’s time for Quizzitch!


[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question: In the Divergent series, Beatrice – also known as Tris – Prior finds that she is Divergent, and in fact has equal aptitude for three of the world’s five factions. Which faction does she choose to join? And for bonus points, what were the three that she was eligible for? So pretty bonus question about a non-Harry Potter thing, but you know what? I think that people did not disappoint in reaching the correct answer, even the extended one, I’m glad to see. The correct answer was that Tris does choose to join Dauntless, but being from Abnegation, she also is Divergent for that, and additionally Erudite.

Andrew: [laughs] Divergent for that?

Eric: Divergent for that. I’m Divergent for that. I ship it. I’m a fan of it. Anyway, however you say it. I’ve not read the books, needless to say, but I hear good things. Anyway, correct answers go to Wild Witch of Yorkshire; Emily Dwyer; Chanel Hardinger; Micah rules for real; Irene; Roxy; PhoenixHeart62442; Miss Taco; Hannah; and we’ll choose one more… “I have no creative name.” Sorry to hear that.

Andrew: So the author, who used to be a MuggleCast listener, didn’t submit, so I guess she no longer listens. Darn.

Eric: Yeah, I’m not seeing that, unless it was under an alias.

Andrew: Maybe, maybe.

Eric: Somebody submitted as Remus John Lupin. I highly doubt that… maybe that’s…

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Maybe.

Eric: Anyway, next week’s question: In Deathly Hallows, where is the trio hiding out when Ron leaves?

Andrew: I was expecting a Twilight question.

Eric: Maybe next week.

Andrew: [laughs] Please.

Eric: Submit your answer to us on the MuggleCast website,, or click on “Quizzitch” at the top of the menu when you’re on our website already. Thanks to everybody for submitting.

Micah: And just want to remind listeners that Eric and I joined the cast of SpeakBeasty. Their most recent episode came out this past Sunday, that’s February the 6th, and we just had a really great time digging deep into the pairings that show up in the Fantastic Beasts trailer. And I mentioned this on last week’s episode, but I definitely learned a lot that I didn’t catch the first time. Eric, not sure how you felt, but I thought it was a really great time.

Eric: Yeah, I thought it was fantastic. We had a great time, and it’s definitely worth a listen for that reason and more. Lot of laughs in this next one.

Andrew: All right, and a couple closing reminders about MuggleCast: Make sure you’re following the show for free in your favorite podcast app, so you never miss an episode. And don’t forget to follow us on social media; our username is @MuggleCast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tickety Tok, so follow today and you’ll enjoy lots of great content.

Micah: And YouTube. And LinkedIn.

Andrew: And YouTube, and… we don’t really talk about LinkedIn.

[Micah laughs]

Laura: Can’t forget about LinkedIn.

Andrew: I was thinking about that the other day; I was like, “Remember when Micah wanted us to get a LinkedIn?”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: This was a recommendation that came out of our trip to Podcast Movement.

Andrew: It was. It’s a good recommendation, I think, for certain podcasts, but maybe not this one. [laughs]

Micah: No. We gain a few followers every now and then.

Andrew: Thanks, everybody, for listening. We’ll see you next week. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.

Laura and Micah: Bye.

Eric: Tell your friends you love them.

Andrew: Aww.

Laura: That’s right.