I recently decided to start rereading the Harry Potter novels. I suppose the eleven year me is still waiting for his letter from Hogwarts, but the grown up me is fascinated by the way J.K. Rowling crafted these stories and each time I read them the more I learn.
I’m currently in the second book where Harry, Ron, and Hermione take the polyjuice potion to investigate if Malfoy is the heir of Slytherin. As I was reading this part for the umpteenth time, it occurred to me that Harry, Ron, and Hermione really didn’t think their plan through. Let’s say hypothetically Malfoy was the heir of Slytherin and confessed to the transformed Harry, Ron, and Hermione, there is nothing they could do with that information. First, they would have no actual proof but Malfoy’s word, which considering his character traits would probably be inflated. Also, Malfoy’s confession would’ve been, in his mind, to his friends, so they would have to confess to making a dark (and probably illegal) potion, blowing up a cauldron during Potions as a distraction, breaking into Snape’s office and stealing the ingredients, drugging Crabbe and Goyle, stealing Crabbe and Goyle’s clothes (and hair), and probably a ton other things.
On top of that, the three of them decided to split the potion three ways when they should have split it two ways. Hermione was intending on transforming into Millicent Bulstrode, but given the fact she wasn’t in Malfoy’s inner gang – at least it wasn’t conveyed to us that Millicent and Malfoy were best of friends – it would have been perhaps a bit suspicious that she would be interrogating Malfoy. From the book we know that Malfoy’s best friends were Crabbe and Goyle and that he told them everything. If Hermione (as Millicent) strode in the Slytherin common room with Crabbe and Goyle and started asking Malfoy about the Chamber of Secrets it might of come across fishy. If they then split the potion two ways and had two of them go in as Crabbe and Goyle, then they probably would have had more time with the potion – remember, they ran out of time when they were interrogating Malfoy.
This whole part of the story seems a bit of waste, but I realize why Rowling needed it for her story: it helps defining the characters’ arcs and it’s a twist and turn in the plot. It’s just, when you think about it, it’s all rather unnecessary because they characters never consider the fact that they could never prove anything. In the first Harry Potter book, they were in a similar circumstance when they found out about the sorcerer’s stone, but Harry told Ron and Hermione they couldn’t go to Dumbledore until they found enough proof. But getting an oral confession from Malfoy while using polyjuice potion probably wouldn’t constitute as evidence.
I told all this to my local librarian whom I often discuss Harry Potter with. She listened to it, nodded, and simply said “And yet after how many times you read the books and saw the movie, you’re now starting to realize it?” Which is quite a fair point. I probably have read Harry Potter a thousand times and I’m just realizing this minor flaw. But still, it’s interesting to wonder.