Warning: This post contains spoilers for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”
You’re ready for spoilers? OK, good.
In “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — the play set in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” universe 19 years after the events of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which is now available as a book — Hermione Granger is the Minister for Magic.
Much of the play focuses on Albus Potter (Harry Potter’s son), Scorpius Malfoy (Draco’s son), and Harry himself. We don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with Ron and Hermione — at least not as much as we did in Rowling’s novels.
But a good way to learn about a person is by looking at their books, and we can learn a whole lot by looking at Hermione’s bookshelf in her Ministry office.
We get to see the bookshelf when Albus, Scorpius, and a new character named Delphi take Polyjuice Potion to transform into Harry, Ron, and Hermione, in order to sneak into Hermione’s office to steal a time turner. Here are the books they find in her library:
- “Magick Moste Evile” by Godelot
- “Fifteenth Century Fiends”
- “Sonnets of a Sorcerer”
- “Shadows and Spirits”
- “The Nightshade Guide to Necromancy”
- “The True History of the Opal Fire”
- “The Imperius Curse and How to Abuse It”
- “My Eyes and How to See Past Them” by Sybill Trelawney
- “Dominating Dementors: A True History of Azkaban”
- “The Heir of Slytherin”
- “Marvolo: The Truth”
Notice anything about them? Yeah, they’re all about dark magic.
“Magick Moste Evile” first comes up in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which Hermione checks out to find out about Horcruxes. “Fifteenth-Century Fiends” appeared in the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts library in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Ron cites “Sonnets of a Sorcerer” as an example of a dangerous book in “Chamber of Secrets,” to dissuade Harry from using Tom Riddle’s diary. And “The True History of the Opal Fire” may be an obscure reference to the cursed opal necklace from Borgin and Burkes in “Chamber of Secrets,” which nearly kills Katie Bell in “Half-Blood Prince.”
The other books don’t appear in the rest of the “Harry Potter” series, but based on their titles, it’s clear that they’re about dark magic or the history of dark magicians.
So what does that say about Hermione? That she knows how to study the enemy, and that she’s still smart enough not to give up.
When Hermione first read “Magick Moste Evile,” she found it impenetrable and nearly useless. As Rowling writes in “Half-Blood Prince:”
“I haven’t found one single explanation of what Horcruxes do!” she told him. “Not a single one! I’ve been right through the restricted section and even in the most horrible books, where they tell you how to brew the most gruesome potions — nothing! All I could find was this, in the introduction to ‘Magick Moste Evile’ — listen — ‘Of the Horcrux, wickedest of magical inventions, we shall not speak nor give direction. …’ I mean, why mention it then?” she said impatiently, slamming the old book shut; it let out a ghostly wail. “Oh, shut up,” she snapped, stuffing it back into her bag.
But later, in “Tales of Beedle the Bard” Dumbledore tells us that the book’s author, Godelot, was a powerful wizard who owned the Elder Wand and that “Magick Moste Evile” was a landmark work of dark magic.
And the only book on her shelf that isn’t about evil is Trelawney’s book, “My Eyes and How to See Past Them.” Hermione hated Trelawney, and thought the whole idea of divination — seeing into the future — was bunk magic.
But even though those books were useless to her, she went out of her way to get them on her shelves.
That’s because she knew that just because something doesn’t click the first time, or just because you disagree with ideas, doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them.
The books also may serve a more specific, practical purpose.
In “Cursed Child,” Harry is the head of Magical Law Enforcement, or the Auror Office. He’s dashing about the wizarding world, scrubbing away the remainders of Voldemort’s footprints.
But while he may be a good field officer, he’s bad at paperwork. When Hermione visits his office in an earlier scene, she chides him for ignoring the piles of briefs on his desk, saying that within that literature there may be clues that can help him track down dark magicians.
From the previous “Harry Potter” books, the head of Magical Law Enforcement seemed like the #2 position in the Ministry of Magic. For example: Kingsley Shacklebolt, a head auror, later became the Minister for Magic himself. It looks like the Minister for Magic’s office and the Auror Office work together closely.
Hermione seems to be the research part of that equation. While Harry’s off on missions taking down the bad guys and doing field work, Hermione is doing the book-reading, figuring out the enemy.
It’s just like the old “Harry Potter” books. Harry and Hermione would be nothing without each other.
(Ron, on the other hand, is running Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes.)
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