Mudbloods and Murmurs

chapter seven of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry’s crack-of-dawn Quidditch practice is interrupted by the Slytherins, and when Ron tries to curse Malfoy, he ends up at Hagrid’s belching slugs instead. Harry then serves detention with Lockhart, but in the middle of it hears a mysterious voice.

Quidditch Weasley Twins, by glockgal

Fred and George were sitting, puffy-eyed and tousle-haired….


Cool Harry, by Becky Roberts

“There you are, Harry, what kept you?” said Wood briskly.


Quidditch Diagram, by Gnatkip

Wood was holding up a large diagram of a Quidditch field….

(by Gnatkip)


Mudbloods and Murmurs, by Keith James

Ron opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Instead he gave an almighty belch and several slugs dribbled out of his mouth onto his lap. The Slytherin team were paralyzed with laughter.


by Laura Freeman

Hagrid didn’t seem perturbed by Ron’s slug problem…. “Better out than in,” he said cheerfully, plunking a large copper basin in front of him. “Get ’em all up, Ron.”


I'm Fabulous, by Helene Sirois

“You can address the envelopes!” Lockhart told Harry, as though this was a huge treat.


Whisper in the Walls, by Tealin Raintree

And then he heard something – something quite apart from the spitting of the dying candles and Lockhart’s prattle about his fans.


by Laura Freeman

“Great Scott – look at the time! We’ve been here nearly four hours! I’d never have believed it – the time’s flown, hasn’t it?”


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

I love that when Harry is addressing Lockhart’s fan mail and jumps at hearing the voice, the envelope he’s addressing is blotted lilac – meaning even the ink Harry’s using to address envelopes is purple! It almost makes me wonder how Lockhart could be content with Harry’s handwriting; surely it’s not very neat (much less pretty). Perhaps because it’s Harry Potter, he doesn’t mind… or perhaps he gives Harry a special flourishing quill. Can’t you see Lockhart owning a four-foot peacock quill that’s enchanted to only write in calligraphy?

The Power of Magic

One week into school, and it’s already very clear that Ron’s wand is a walking disaster. Given the wand’s flaws, it amazes me that Ron doesn’t make up some story to get a new one, or for that matter that McGonagall hasn’t pulled him aside and ordered him to write home for one. It’s hard to imagine that he’ll be able to pass his practical exams when he can’t even prevent his wand from spontaneously rocketing across the room.

Life at Hogwarts

With a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher taking the post every year, Hagrid has reason to think that wizards might be scared off from agreeing to teach the subject. But I’m inclined to think that Dumbledore’s primary challenge filling the post isn’t so much people’s unwillingness to take it. More likely, he’s simply used up all the reasonable candidates. If you think about it, with the size of Hogwarts, there can’t be more than five or ten thousand wizards in all of Britain, and of those, how many would there really be with both the qualifications and the desire to teach the subject? Going through one per year would make the pool pretty thin in a hurry.

Something to Remember

It’s not hard to guess that the voice Harry hears will come up again later in the book. But once we learn of its source, it will be very interesting that the first time Harry hears it is in his first week back at Hogwarts. The voice didn’t waste any time getting started once the school year began.

41 Responses to “Mudbloods and Murmurs”

  1. One of my favorite things about Ron’s wand is that at some point it actually WISTLES!! For some reason that makes me laugh out loud every time I read it lol!

  2. Every time there’s a new chapter, it’s just like Christmas!

  3. I think Ron’s character is really hilarious, and when his wand starts doing ludicrous things it really gets me laughing. I like how J K Rowling just slips in little comments of what Ron’s wand is doing during the lesson, it’s quite cunning the way she can slide in anything.

  4. I always thought it was a mark of how poor the Weasley’s were that they might not be able to afford to get Ron a new wand.

  5. I always thought it was weird that Ron got a *hand me down* wand? When wands seem to be an object to last the rest of your life, why would his brother go out and buy a new wand?

  6. Charly, judging by the condition of the wand, Charlie wasn’t the first owner. So it is likely it wasn’t a good match for him, so I imagine that this was Charlie’s reaction once he got his first paycheck: “now I’ve been paid, I can FINALLY get a wand that is a match” then Ron got the old, beaten-up wand. (Remember that in theory, Ron could have got his wand at any time before the start of term, not nessecarily when Harry got his.)

  7. I’ve always thought it was silly to hand down wands at all, not only because of Charly’s point, but because a wand is supposed to choose the wizard. How on earth can anyone be expected to perform decent magic with a wand meant for someone else? Look at the description in PS when Harry finally gets his hands on the pheonix wand. I know the Weasleys aren’t well off, but I would have thought they’d start a ‘wand fund’ when each child is born, to ensure they’d have enough money for all their children to have a new wand.

  8. At 7G (£36) each, wands are a strain on a large family’s budget. I think it quite likely that Bill and Charlie inherited the wands that had formerly belonged to Gideon and Fabian Prewett. Sam is right – as soon as they had their own money, they bought wands that chose them properly. Perhaps Bill passed his first wand down to one of the twins, although it’s difficult to imagine how he’d decide which one.

  9. I agree that £36 could put a strain on the finances if it was an unexpected expense, but I’m surprised they wouldn’t have saved for it. After all, it would only take nine months to save £36 if you put aside £1 each week. Even if they waited until Bill was 10 to start saving (and by that time they would be well aware of how many children they would have to provide for) they could still save enough each year to ensure they were able to buy each of their children a new wand, for just £1 a week.

    Grace, I agree with you that they probably all had hand-me-downs – the evidence from the books certainly points to that, and I understand why JKR would make a choice like that. It’s just always bothered me because it doesn’t make much sense within the rules of the world JKR set up.

  10. So from PS we know that the wand chooses the wizard. So who was the very first owner of Ron’s wand, why would he “hand it down” to begin with, and what did he do for a wand after that? If he needed to buy a new wand to replace it, why didn’t he buy a new wand for whoever he was going to hand down the wand to instead?

  11. I like the idea that Charlie had inherited one of the Prewetts’ wands. As far as Charlie deciding to get a new one, I imagine that when he started working with dragons, he wanted a wand that was more suited to the work he was going to be doing. Remember that Ollivander described Lily’s wand as being good for charm work and James’s for transfiguration, so it seems that different wands have different areas of strength.

  12. Re: Something to Remember
    Another important detail that Rowling reminds us of in this chapter is that Hagrid was expelled during his time at Hogwarts and Harry has never known why.

  13. How does Ron manage to curse himself with the slugs? All he says is “You’ll pay for that one, Malfoy!” Having had two useless DA teachers in his only two school years so far, he doesn’t really know any curses, much less nonverbal spells.
    Any thoughts? Is he still young enough to have lost his temper and performed magic to without knowing what would happen?

  14. Remember, Harry loses his temper in the next book, and maybe it was a combination of that and the wand doing something Ron didn’t tell it to do

  15. @ Andrea He could have learned it from his brothers. Or just seen it in the halls sometime. As he’s seen 5 others pass through some of Hogwarts it not a stretch to see that Ron knows a few curses, even if it doesn’t work right.

  16. I always thought that because Charlie worked with dragons, his wand might have been so badly trashed that he got a new one and the old one went to Ron. Thus, the Weasley’s didn’t have to buy him a new wand, because Charlie’s still functioned, even though it was heavily worn. However, the Weasley’s and every other wizarding family obviously knew how important it was to have your OWN wand. The same goes for Neville not having his own wand, but his father’s. Maybe that is part of the reason he was initially so bad at magic; his wand was not well-suited for him.

  17. I love Gnatkip’s drawing. It’s so simple, but I spent a good minute or two looking at the strategies & layout of it.

  18. I completely agree with Caitlin. It seems like the wand would be the most essential part of the supplies you need to buy when starting at Hogwarts…No wonder Ron has so much trouble with spells sometimes!

    @Ragmar, I imagine it was a bit of both his wand not working properly, and his emotions getting away from him (like Harry and the vanishing glass) his wand seems to have a complete mind of it’s own after it’s broken, so that coupled with his extreme anger at the time could have easily set off some crazy slug-puking spell…

  19. re: the Voice. It’s the first week of school but how long since the Burrow party went to Diagon Alley? That’s when we should start to count for the time the Master of the Voice has been readying his victim… (mysterious enough?!)

  20. Regarding wands – maybe there is a “family affinity” which makes it easier to use a wand from a family member.

    Also, don’t forget this year the Weasley family has 5 kids at Hogwarts and since Ginny is starting Hogwarts this year she needs a wand, robes, and books. Not to mention that Lockhart’s books are very expensive. We are told there was hardly any money in the bank vault, so it doesn’t surprise me that Ron knows they can’t afford to buy him a new wand. If a family has a lot of kids (I have 4) it is very hard to save anything at all if only one parent works. It is hard just paying for the basics.

  21. I think a family member’s wand would work at least as well as Hermione’s worked for Harry in DH. Also remember the wandlore we learn in DH is obscure; most wizards aren’t aware of the complex laws governing wandlore.

  22. I wonder why Ron doesn’t write home for a new wand. He said initially that he expected another howler back telling him he can put up with it for what he did, but as the term goes on does he expect them to still be that angry, especially when any of his teachers could vouch for his need for a new wand? Is it because he knows that the unexpected expense would be a burden? Would he feel like he himself was being a burden for needing one? :(

  23. Ron does eventually get a new wand, in Deathly Hallows he makes a comment along the lines of “remember back in 2nd year my wand was so badly damaged I had to get a new one” it never says when it happened though.

  24. Paul, it does say where Ron got a new wand – his parents bought it for him with Arthur’s prize winnings that also paid for their trip to Egypt. Ron tells Harry about it in his letter from Egypt at the start of book three.

  25. assuming that dd’s wand (with all it’s fantastic properities) had mended hagrid’s broken wand just like harry fixed his at the very end, wouldn’t it have been nice of DD to offer to fix ron’s wond? not necessarily right in front of him but take it away, and give it back a few days later so ron can at least assume it was a very tedious, secretive process? the other teachers know his wand was broken so i’m sure he did too.

  26. Ron didn’t initially asked for a new wand because he said that his mother would write back and say “its your fault that your wand got snapped in two”.

  27. I think Dumbledore chose not to mend Ron’s wand because it sort of goes along with their punishments. Hagrid was innocent, and needed his wand to get by in the Wizarding world (I mean, it would be like having to learn how to live in the Muggle world without sight or hearing, or without a limb or something). But Ron wasn’t innocent like Hagrid was, and I think that’s part of the lesson Dumbledore is teaching him. I don’t think he would have let it go on longer than that year (perhaps he rigged the contest the Weasleys won? =P). And remember, if Ron didn’t have his wand broken when Lockhart used it, Harry and Ron would have had their memories wiped, and Lockhart would have gotten away with everything. That’s it, end of the story. So in a way, it’s a good thing Ron’s wand broke, cause not only did he get a new wand the next year, one that fit him, but it actually ended up saving them!

    Also, I never really thought about just why Ron had a “hand-me-down” wand, but the ideas here are great! I love the idea that it was one of the Prewitt’s wands. As for the other Prewitt wand, maybe it was broken in their final fight against the Dark? It didn’t necessarily have to be handed down like the one Charlie had. Or maybe Bill busted it before it could be handed down? As for why Charlie’s wand didn’t work great for him in the first place, well Ron didn’t very much like the idea of having someone else’s wand in the first place, did he? I think that, coupled with the fact that it wasn’t his wand (whether it was a family wand or not) gave very poor results, compared to Harry using Hermione’s wand. Harry may not have liked it too much, but he knew that at the time, they were in war, and he couldn’t just go out to buy a new wand, especially since Ollivander was captive at the time and he knew it. Ron was dismayed they didn’t have the money for a wand for him, so he felt more bitter, while for Harry, at the the time, it was a necessity. I also like to think Harry and Hermione have a more special bond, allowing better control with her wand (but I won’t go into THAT here ;])

  28. @Casey Wait, what? You’ve captured my interest enough to delurk. What do you mean by a “special bond”?

  29. I’m a H/Hr shipper, Josiah. But I’m not about to preach my belief on this site. It isn’t the place for them.

  30. Beliefs*

  31. As hazelwillow pointed out, most of the wizarding world isn’t very well-versed in wandlore. Also, everyone’s been concentrating on the Weasleys but they’re not the only ones to pass wands down – as far as I remember Neville used his father’s wand until he broke it at the Ministry in the fifth book.

  32. Wow 32 responses and no-one seems to ask the most glaring question of the lot.

    Why doesn’t Lockart hear anything. Okay, sure, he isn’t Parselmouth so he can’t understand what is being said. But why can’t he hear anything? He doesn’t hear the hissing sounds that everyone hears from Harry at the Duelling Club.

    This happens a couple chapters later when Hermione and Ron can’t hear anything, coming back from the Deathday Party. Why doesn’t anyone else seem to hear the Snake.

    (Moderated for language)

  33. Lewis, I don’t think the hissing sounds are loud enough for regular people to notice it. To them, it could be the sound of the plumbing or something, whereas Harry hears it as plain English, so it’s more distinct for him, therefore he focuses on it much more. When’s the last time you heard hissing from a wall and turned and thought, “I wonder if that’s a snake in my wall?” If it were me, I’d just chalk it up to plumbing or something, which I think is what Jo was going for, seeing as how she has the basilisk move through the pipes for transportation.

  34. So… since when is “Eat slugs!” a spell?

  35. I don’t know why, but it’s only this read through that I’ve really appreciated just how disgusting it is for Ron to be spitting out slugs. I mean they must be in his mouth before he spits them out, he has slimy slugs in his mouth! Just eww.

  36. Something to Remember: Readers ought to take note of that Special Award for Services Ron belched with slugs. ;)

    Oh, and why isn’t the Quidditch Cup in Snape’s office? I thought the Heads of Houses keep the Cup when their respective Houses win in Quidditch?

  37. Considering what we learn later about the stairs to the girl’s dormatory, how did Oliver tell Katie, Alicia, and Angelina about the crack of dawn practice?

  38. Jeremy… maybe he borrowed a particularly persistent owl? My mate and I have an RP we do for kicks, and our characters tend to be the sort that get up early just to be able to meet and work on homework together (and are in separate houses) so I kind of solved that dilemma by Oliver seeing my character on her way down to go meet my mate’s character… and summarily annoying her into annoying the girls awake so she could go do her homework in peace. Another possibility is McGonnagal… but if he woke HER up to ask her to get the girls, then he is disturbingly devoted to the game. I can just hear it now… “Wood, what IS the meaning of this?” “Sorry Professor, but it’s time for practice and I need you help since I can’t go get the girls up myself.” “Oh… alright Wood, but next time work out a better arrangement.”

  39. Why not ask one of the house elves for help? They can go all over the castle and there are female elves.

  40. Something else noticable about the chapter: when they visit Hagrid, Hagrid is mentioning meeting Ginny near the hut, all the while frying a death rooster. JK Rowling more or less draws a giant arrow pointing in Ginny’s direction, but because Hagrid doesn’t mention the killed rooster until way later, it’s practically invisible.

  41. Lovely stuff. Great points. A Prewett wand? Hmmmm….

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