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#1
Old 06-28-2011, 02:55 PM
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Harry Potter and Kreacher

Silly question. Can't get it out of my mind, though. I'm sure there is a simple answer, probably explained in the book, but I've only seen the movie.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I."

--In a scene at the abandoned and hidden Black home, in London, Harry seizes the Black family's house elf, Kreacher, and questions him about the late Regulus Black's locket, now missing. It turns out the locket has been stolen by Mundungus Fletcher (great name, J.K.). Harry sends Kreacher to fetch Mundungus, a task soon accomplished.

--Earlier Potter movies say house elves are the exclusive property of the family they serve. Kreacher confirms this in Prisoner of Azkaban by saying, when angrily admonished by Sirius Black for his pureblood ranting, "Of course master, Kreacher lives to serve the House of Black."

My question:

With most of the Black family now dead, and the house apparently abandoned, how is it that Harry Potter has the authority to force Kreacher to answer his questions and obey his will?

Harry is not related to the Black family, but was only the godson of Sirius Black, now dead. In addition, Bellatrix Lastrange and her sister, Narcissa, are stated to be cousins of Sirius Black (by Sirius himself, interpreting a family tree painted on a wall), and are thus related to the Black family while being the bitter enemies of Harry Potter.

So, why does Kreacher feel compelled to answer Harry's demands, even when out of "wand range" on a mission to capture Mundungus?
#2
Old 06-28-2011, 02:59 PM
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House Elves stay with the physical house. When Sirius died, he left Harry his house (Grimmauld Place) in his will. Harry inherited Kreacher along with the house and everything in it.

Last edited by PeskiPiksi; 06-28-2011 at 03:01 PM.
#3
Old 06-28-2011, 02:59 PM
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Because it's understood that Sirius has "adopted" Harry and considers him a son, and I guess that's enough for the house elf magic to function. Maybe it's more about intent than it is about actual blood.

ETA: In the book, Dumbledore tests this by having Harry give Kreacher an order prior to going to Grimmauld Place--they wanted to make sure of exactly this: that Kreacher's magic considered Harry to be the true master of the house, and not Bellatrix or Narcissa.

Last edited by Infovore; 06-28-2011 at 03:00 PM.
#4
Old 06-28-2011, 03:06 PM
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Albus Dumbledore: "Give him an order. If he has passed into your ownership, he will have to obey. If not, then we shall have to think of some other means of keeping him from his rightful mistress."
Kreacher: "Won't, won't, won't, WON'T!"
Harry Potter: "Kreacher, SHUT UP!"

http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/House-elf
#5
Old 06-28-2011, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by PeskiPiksi View Post
House Elves stay with the physical house. When Sirius died, he left Harry his house (Grimmauld Place) in his will. Harry inherited Kreacher along with the house and everything in it.
And he'd willed Kreacher along with it, since Harry was his Godson.
#6
Old 06-28-2011, 03:14 PM
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There's an aspect of personal loyalty, too, above and beyond the magical loyalty to the house and family. In the books, Kreacher obeyed Harry, but was uncooperative at first, only actually helping when he learned that Harry intended to finish the work that Regulus Black (whom Kreacher still regards personally as his "real" master) started.
#7
Old 06-28-2011, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by PeskiPiksi View Post
House Elves stay with the physical house. When Sirius died, he left Harry his house (Grimmauld Place) in his will. Harry inherited Kreacher along with the house and everything in it.
This is what I thought too. They are called "House Elves" and not "Family Elves".
#8
Old 06-28-2011, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Drunky Smurf View Post
This is what I thought too. They are called "House Elves" and not "Family Elves".
But they're not family elves, though, because that would mean that wizarding families could never move house. I mean, think of what might happen if the Malfoys (prior to freeing Dobby) decided to trade up to an even more oversized and conspicuous manor house. Would they have to leave Dobby behind to spill all their deep dark secrets to the new owners? And if the elf remains loyal to the family even if they move house but has to remain in the old house, that doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think they're "house elves" using "house" to mean "lineage" rather than "physical abode."
#9
Old 06-28-2011, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post
what might happen if the Malfoys (prior to freeing Dobby) decided to trade up to an even more oversized and conspicuous manor house. Would they have to leave Dobby behind to spill all their deep dark secrets to the new owners?
Dude. They're the Malfoys. They'd probably just kill the House Elves on their way out.
#10
Old 06-28-2011, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post
I think they're "house elves" using "house" to mean "lineage" rather than "physical abode."
I'd argue that they are "house elves" as opposed to "free elves" or "Tolkienesqe Elves". But I'm not sure you are wrong.
#11
Old 06-28-2011, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Eureka View Post
I'd argue that they are "house elves" as opposed to "free elves" or "Tolkienesqe Elves". But I'm not sure you are wrong.
Legolas... who must obey everything I say... GET OUT OF MY HEAD EUREKA!
#12
Old 06-28-2011, 06:16 PM
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As an aside, I thought that Kreacher's recounting of Regulus' death was the saddest scene in the whole series.
#13
Old 06-28-2011, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post
But they're not family elves, though, because that would mean that wizarding families could never move house. I mean, think of what might happen if the Malfoys (prior to freeing Dobby) decided to trade up to an even more oversized and conspicuous manor house. Would they have to leave Dobby behind to spill all their deep dark secrets to the new owners? And if the elf remains loyal to the family even if they move house but has to remain in the old house, that doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think they're "house elves" using "house" to mean "lineage" rather than "physical abode."
Okay, just reread the relevant passage in Half-Blood Prince. Dumbledore explains to Harry that Sirius left the house to Harry in his will, but they're not sure the will will override any "pure-bloods only" type enchantments that had been put on the house previously. Then Dumbledore summons Kreacher and tells Harry,

Quote:
You see, if you have indeed inherited the house, you have also inherited...Kreacher.
If Harry can command Kreacher, it's proof that he owns the house. So at least in this case, the elf does indeed belong to the actual physical house.

Certainly not the first time something Rowling wrote didn't make sense.
#14
Old 06-28-2011, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Pyper View Post
As an aside, I thought that Kreacher's recounting of Regulus' death was the saddest scene in the whole series.
I actually got kinda misty-eyed during that very scene. Reggie came through in the end and it makes it really easy to see why Kreacher is so loyal to him.
#15
Old 06-28-2011, 06:45 PM
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It was mentioned early in the series that the wizarding world is rather cross-bred so Harry may be be related to the Black family somewhere along the line.
#16
Old 06-28-2011, 08:12 PM
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remember when sirius told kreacher to "get out", he was able to leave the house and go to bellatrix at the malfoys.

the house elf seems to belong to physical house and the lineage house.

in the will sirius must have done some skillful stuff to get the house and kreacher to go to harry and not bellatrix as the next black in line. sirius was disowned by his mother so how he got the house and kreacher over bellatrix is another bit of mystery.

i'm betting that sirius, no matter how much of a wild child and rule breaker, had a really good understanding of magical rules and how to use them creatively to get to the final goal.

also harry was able to tell kreacher to serve at hogwarts and had to call him to the black house when they hid out there in deathly hallows. it appears that house elves can leave the house by creative interpretation of commands and actual commands (see dobby and kreacher).

Last edited by rocking chair; 06-28-2011 at 08:14 PM.
#17
Old 06-28-2011, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
In the books, Kreacher obeyed Harry, but was uncooperative at first, only actually helping when he learned that Harry intended to finish the work that Regulus Black (whom Kreacher still regards personally as his "real" master) started.
From my reading, what J.K. Rowling was trying to show was that Kreacher started being loyal to Harry Potter, his new master, when Harry Potter treated him kindly - gave him the fake locket as a family heirloom. Dumbledore hints in the books that Kreacher might not have betrayed Sirius Black if Sirius wasn't such a jerk towards Kreacher.

Kreacher obyed Sirius Black because Sirius Black was the last person representing the family name. Once Harry Potter was made Sirius's heir, Kreacher is forced by the House Elf "enslavement" rules to obey Harry Potter even though he doesn't really want to. (This changes when Harry does something nice for Kreacher, as mentioned in the previous paragraph.)
#18
Old 06-28-2011, 10:03 PM
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Very interesting information and discussion. Clearly, there IS far more in the books than is told in the movies, always a problem when a script must be so short. That's how I got roped into reading the entire Tolkien canon after seeing one of the movies.

I'm intrigued by one comment that suggested Rowling might not have absolute control over all of these issues, or at least has not committed them to paper with sufficient clarity. It's an author's hazard with so much to remember: I seem to recall a famous gaff made by Shakespeare, in which he told two differing versions of how a character disappears from a play. Looks like a rewrite without thorough editing in that case--or put off a decision on which to go with and missed the cut.

I'm afraid to ask this crowd what the relationship is between Kreacher and Dobby, since there is an interesting interaction between the two when they return with Mundungus, a sort of competition, in which Dobby asserts himself as Number One. Someone is shortly (in both senses of that word) going to tell me to read the damn books.
#19
Old 06-28-2011, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by wei ji View Post
I'm afraid to ask this crowd what the relationship is between Kreacher and Dobby, since there is an interesting interaction between the two when they return with Mundungus, a sort of competition, in which Dobby asserts himself as Number One. Someone is shortly (in both senses of that word) going to tell me to read the damn books.
I could be wrong, but I don't think Dobby shows up in the book like that. Since Dobby appeared in more books than movies(he's only in movies 2 and 7), I think they made that early scene up just to remind the movie crowd who Dobby is.

In the books, he appears quite a bit more.

Anyway, my answer is that the scene you mention is made up.

I stand aside now and wait to be told if I'm wrong.
#20
Old 06-28-2011, 10:52 PM
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Speaking of the Harry Potter books, a question sprang to my mind:

The Weasley family is poor, at least by pure-blood standards. Why can't they just conjure up money or better clothes?

I've never seen it specifically stated that it's either impossible or illegal.

Last edited by Superdude; 06-28-2011 at 10:53 PM.
#21
Old 06-28-2011, 11:30 PM
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kreacher doesn't get along with dobby. in half blood prince, harry has kreacher follow draco to find up what he is up to. when he calls kreacher to appear, kreacher and dobby are in a bit of a wrestle over something. so when harry wants kreacher to spy on draco, dobby jumps in to help harry and considers it the best thing in the world to help harry. kreacher thinks that harry is way under his regard and that draco should be the one he is able to serve.

kreacher does change toward harry in the end.

dobby and winkie are free elves that work at hogwarts. dobby was freed in chamber of secrets, winkie in goblet of fire. dumbledore offers employment to dobby after he is unable to find employ elsewhere, when winkie is freed (she is very much not happy about it) dobby asks dumbledore if she can work at hogwarts as well.

and yes, mahaloth, dobby is not in that scene in the book. he doesn't appear until they are in the malfoy dungeon.

kreacher is sent to hogwarts to work in half blood prince when it is comfirmed that harry is his master. it is felt that this would be best as he knows too much about the order to be left alone at grimald place.

indeed reading the books would be wonderful. if you do i would wait until after seeing deadly hallows part 2 to read the deadly hallows book, if you are planning to see it. if you read book 7 too close to the movie you will notice all the changes and not enjoy the movie for what it is.

Last edited by rocking chair; 06-28-2011 at 11:32 PM.
#22
Old 06-28-2011, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Superdude View Post
The Weasley family is poor, at least by pure-blood standards. Why can't they just conjure up money or better clothes?
Actually, I thought it was said in one of the books that you can't just conjure up money.
#23
Old 06-29-2011, 12:49 AM
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I've just re-read the series (I'm in Deathly Hallows now, though I had to skip Order of the Phoenix because it's not at the house at the moment, so I had to resort to only watching the movie), and I haven't seen a reference to it, but I may have missed something.
#24
Old 06-29-2011, 01:28 AM
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A Harry Potter wiki mentions Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration (from the last novel), which says that money can't be made from nothing (although using the Philosopher's Stone, it's possible to transform other metals to gold).
#25
Old 06-29-2011, 05:55 AM
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Okay, fair enough...what about new robes?
#26
Old 06-29-2011, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post
But they're not family elves, though, because that would mean that wizarding families could never move house. I mean, think of what might happen if the Malfoys (prior to freeing Dobby) decided to trade up to an even more oversized and conspicuous manor house. Would they have to leave Dobby behind to spill all their deep dark secrets to the new owners? And if the elf remains loyal to the family even if they move house but has to remain in the old house, that doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think they're "house elves" using "house" to mean "lineage" rather than "physical abode."
They're only owned by aristocratic wizarding families. They never move house - and it's not even just a house, it's 'the family seat.'
#27
Old 06-29-2011, 09:04 AM
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I always read it as "House Elf" as opposed to "Field Elf", myself...my reading, not Rowling's intention, I mean.
#28
Old 06-29-2011, 09:30 AM
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Okay, fair enough...what about new robes?
Good point. I think Harry got Ron his better robes after winning the Triwizard cup. No idea why they can not conjure up that.
#29
Old 06-29-2011, 10:31 AM
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I'd say House Elves are sort of like magical furniture. Just like furniture, you can leave them to someone in your will - or, more relevantly, if you get the house, you get what's in it, whether it's dishes, furniture, or the occasional small magical creature. Also like furniture, if you sold your house and moved, you'd have the option to take it with you.

I can't believe the huge distance between what I should have been doing just now and the action of typing that paragraph.
#30
Old 06-29-2011, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Mahaloth View Post
Good point. I think Harry got Ron his better robes after winning the Triwizard cup. No idea why they can not conjure up that.
It was Fred and George buying new robes for Ron, at Harry's request. Not that this really addresses the point.

There is never an attempt at a logical explanation for it (this is a book about magic!) but I could think of two possible explanations (aka "fanwanks"):
Anything useful in the wizard world is not something you can conjure up. Otherwise you wouldn't have to buy schoolbooks or dress robes or wants, you wouldn't have to buy Potions supplies, you wouldn't have to pay a high price for unicorn hair and acromantula venom, everyone would be rich.

Another explanation: those things can be conjured up but it is very difficult and so most people don't bother. e.g. to take a Muggle example, I could make my own clothes, but it is more efficient for me to work at my job and buy the clothes. It would take me too much time and effort to make them myself.
#31
Old 06-29-2011, 11:15 AM
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I can't remember where or in which book, but I thought I remember reading that you can't conjure up money or food. You can magic up the cooking process, but the raw ingredients must be there.
#32
Old 06-29-2011, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
A Harry Potter wiki mentions Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration (from the last novel), which says that money can't be made from nothing (although using the Philosopher's Stone, it's possible to transform other metals to gold).
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I can't remember where or in which book, but I thought I remember reading that you can't conjure up money or food. You can magic up the cooking process, but the raw ingredients must be there.
In Deathly Hallows it is mentioned that you cannot conjure up food. Nothing is said about money, but JK Rowling might have mentioned it on her website or in one of her interviews.
#33
Old 06-29-2011, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post
I think they're "house elves" using "house" to mean "lineage" rather than "physical abode."
The elves at Hogwarts are also house elves, and there is no family house associated with it.
#34
Old 06-29-2011, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
There's an aspect of personal loyalty, too, above and beyond the magical loyalty to the house and family. In the books, Kreacher obeyed Harry, but was uncooperative at first, only actually helping when he learned that Harry intended to finish the work that Regulus Black (whom Kreacher still regards personally as his "real" master) started.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
From my reading, what J.K. Rowling was trying to show was that Kreacher started being loyal to Harry Potter, his new master, when Harry Potter treated him kindly - gave him the fake locket as a family heirloom. Dumbledore hints in the books that Kreacher might not have betrayed Sirius Black if Sirius wasn't such a jerk towards Kreacher.
Ding ding ding. The point of Kreacher's change in behavior is that Harry and Hermione actually treat him well, even though he's a nasty bugger. He starts to change his behavior toward them, and even his attitudes. He was basically a muggle hating bastard because that's what House Black wanted him to be. He would have been better to Sirius, but Sirius couldn't accept Kreacher's attitudes and spouting of hatreds, so he treated Kreacher badly rather than trying to treat him well and win him over, and show him the error of his attitudes. That's pretty explicit in the books.

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Originally Posted by Mahaloth View Post
Good point. I think Harry got Ron his better robes after winning the Triwizard cup. No idea why they can not conjure up that.
The narrativium won't allow it.

Arnold has better answers.
#35
Old 06-29-2011, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
Ding ding ding. The point of Kreacher's change in behavior is that Harry and Hermione actually treat him well, even though he's a nasty bugger. He starts to change his behavior toward them, and even his attitudes. He was basically a muggle hating bastard because that's what House Black wanted him to be. He would have been better to Sirius, but Sirius couldn't accept Kreacher's attitudes and spouting of hatreds, so he treated Kreacher badly rather than trying to treat him well and win him over, and show him the error of his attitudes. That's pretty explicit in the books.
Yeah, and it's even foreshadowed when Sirius tells the trio up in the cave that you can always get a better measure of a man by how he treats his inferiors than how he treats his equals. I love Sirius, he's one of my favorite characters in the books, but in a lot of ways both he and James were...well...kind of dicks. I mean, think of all the problems that could have been avoided if they hadn't decided to start picking on Snape the first time they laid eyes on him on the Hogwarts Express.
#36
Old 06-29-2011, 12:10 PM
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i'm betting that sirius, no matter how much of a wild child and rule breaker, had a really good understanding of magical rules and how to use them creatively to get to the final goal.
Quoted for truth - remember this is the guy who got out of Azkaban, not via brute force but by exploiting the fact that dementors can't sense or affect animals, animagi included. That requires some pretty lateral thinking under pressure.

My fanwank re. the issue of conjuring money or food or clothing:
One runs slam into Conservation of Mass - you can't create something from nothing. I guess you could pull needed elements out of the environment on the atomic level, but that would require a massive amount of energy and/or skill. Another way to do that would be transfiguring what you needed from something else on a more macro level (which is really working on the micro level anyway, though the caster's not thinking about that). However transfiguration is shown in the books to be pretty dammed difficult, and possibly not permanent. If it were possible to simply transfigure lead (or whatever) into gold then the Philosopher's Stone would be nothing more then a party trick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Munch
The elves at Hogwarts are also house elves, and there is no family house associated with it.
Their loyalty is to the castle as an entity in and of itself, and to the Four Founders - Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin - whose Houses came together to form Hogwarts.
#37
Old 06-29-2011, 12:13 PM
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Their loyalty is to the castle as an entity in and of itself
Yeah - that was my point.
#38
Old 06-29-2011, 01:15 PM
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He would have been better to Sirius, but Sirius couldn't accept Kreacher's attitudes and spouting of hatreds, so he treated Kreacher badly
Dumbledore has said that Sirius treated pretty much all house elves like shit. Sirius may have been a good guy, but he was, well, basically racist against elves.

Remember that "discrimination is bad, mmkay" is one of the key messages of the books, from the mouth of Rowling herself.

Last edited by AClockworkMelon; 06-29-2011 at 01:17 PM.
#39
Old 06-29-2011, 01:43 PM
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Leprechauns can "create gold", but it doesn't last. It either evaporates or turns to base metal (I can't remember which) within a day.

Really, all conjurations or transmutations (aside from nigh-legendary things like the Philosopher's Stone) seem to be time-limited in the Potter books.
#40
Old 06-29-2011, 01:49 PM
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Mahaloth:

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No idea why they can not conjure up that (robes).
Conjuration ability in a wizard, which is a sub-category of transfiguration, seems to be based on the ability of the wizard to visualize the item in detail. In Harry's and Ron's and Hermione's transfiguration classes it's mentioned that they needed to memorize diagrams, and that causing simple creatures to vanish was easier than causing more complex creatures to vanish. We've seen both Dumbledore and McGonagall conjure chairs, but Dumbledore conjured roomy easy chairs while McGonagall conjures rigid wooden chairs.

I imagine that in order to conjure clothing, one must be able to visualize the details, including the weave and cut of the cloth and the stitching and the trimming.Aside from the complexity of that, the clothes one would be able to conjure are probably limited in style to the wizard's fashion imagination. I can definitely see that there is a place in the wizarding world for skilled tailors (like Madam Malkin) who either manufacture clothes in Muggle manner or whose specialist training or aptitude in clothing produces quality items magically.
#41
Old 06-29-2011, 01:50 PM
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Dumbledore has said that Sirius treated pretty much all house elves like shit. Sirius may have been a good guy, but he was, well, basically racist against elves.
Are you sure about this? I imagine being raised in the Black household would encourage a tendency to treat house elves as low-paid servants that you don't need to pay a lot of attention to, but I don't remember Dumbledore saying that Sirius was bad to all house elves. It's just that Kreacher was a constant reminder of his unhappy childhood.
#42
Old 06-29-2011, 01:52 PM
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AClockworkMelon:

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Dumbledore has said that Sirius treated pretty much all house elves like shit. Sirius may have been a good guy, but he was, well, basically racist against elves.
Not true. Dumbledore said that Sirius was in general nice to house-elves, but Kreacher was specifically a reminder of the family he hated.
#43
Old 06-29-2011, 02:14 PM
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Yeah, and it's even foreshadowed when Sirius tells the trio up in the cave that you can always get a better measure of a man by how he treats his inferiors than how he treats his equals. I love Sirius, he's one of my favorite characters in the books, but in a lot of ways both he and James were...well...kind of dicks. I mean, think of all the problems that could have been avoided if they hadn't decided to start picking on Snape the first time they laid eyes on him on the Hogwarts Express.
Yes, it's kind of one of the things that works really well in the books. Snape really did have some reasons for disliking James and Sirius. They were jerks in many ways. They were terrible to him, especially.

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Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
Not true. Dumbledore said that Sirius was in general nice to house-elves, but Kreacher was specifically a reminder of the family he hated.
OK, now we need the quote. Anyone know where in the books they discuss this?
#44
Old 06-29-2011, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahaloth View Post
OK, now we need the quote. Anyone know where in the books they discuss this?
It's the conversation between Dumbledore and Harry at the end of Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore is explaining to Harry how Voldemort fooled him, and what the prophecy was.
#45
Old 06-30-2011, 06:57 PM
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Found the passage, it's on page 834 of Order of the Phoenix. (American Hardcover edition).
#46
Old 06-30-2011, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
Found the passage, it's on page 834 of Order of the Phoenix. (American Hardcover edition).
Yep, and you are right.

Sirius is nice to house elves, but Kreacher is a living reminder of his past.
#47
Old 06-30-2011, 08:26 PM
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harry: "kreacher stop hitting him!" (with a copper pan.)
kreacher: "one more time, master harry? for good luck?"
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