Harry Potter passage similar to this one?
March 13, 2017 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Almost 20 years ago, I wrote a story and tried unsuccessfully to get it published. Somewhat more recently, self-publishing caught on, and I started thinking I'd try that. But, before I got around to it, I read a passage in a Harry Potter book that was a lot like the climax of my story. So much so, I thought, that I shouldn't self-publish, because it would seem like I stole her scene. Can you help find that passage?

Recently, I came across an old letter from Scholastic responding to the story I'd submitted. It made me want to compare the two passages. But I couldn't find the Harry Potter passage I remembered. I'd thought it was the climax of the final book. The elements that I thought matched were ghosty-type things ('shimmerselves' in my story; maybe patronuses in Harry Potter?) spooling out, one after the other, when someone died or was vanquished. But now I doubt both the location of the passage and those particulars.

Here's the passage from my story. Do you know of a similar passage in a Harry Potter book? Or, I suppose, in any other books?

"... As the two continued their spell... Gertilda’s shimmerself began slowly pulling itself free of the ice. [Description of Gertilda's shimmerself pulling free] ...until just the pointy toe of one shoe still connected the shimmerself to the ice.

But then a strange thing happened. Just as a magician’s silk handkerchief pulls the corner of the next handkerchief free, that pointy toe pulled with it a pointy hoof. The rest of the leg of this new creature emerged, and then, little by little, its whole body followed. It was the shimmerself of a deer, one of the animals that Gertilda had swallowed up. When its last hoof freed itself from the ice, it pulled out the beginning of a boar, which, once emerged, led to the next animal, and the next. Faster and faster they tumbled from the ice, all the shimmerselves that Gertilda had once swallowed up..."
posted by daisyace to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
I domt have the books at hand, unfortunately, but I think this scene occurred in the fourth book when Harry and Voldemort's wands meet and the "ghosts" of previous spells from Voldemort's wand come out?
posted by MadamM at 4:39 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I found this fan wiki reference, although it doesn't have the exact passage.
posted by MadamM at 4:43 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's chapter 34 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:51 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Here's the passage:
Before Voldemort could stick his snakelike face around the headstone. Harry stood up...he gripped his wand tightly in his hand, thrust it out in front of him, and threw himself around the headstone, facing Voldemort.

Voldemort was ready. As Harry shouted, "Expelliarmus!" Voldemort cried, "Avada Kedavra!"

A jet of green light issued from Voldemort's wand just as a jet of red light blasted from Harry's - they met in midair - and suddenly Harry's wand was vibrating as though an electric charge were surging through it; his hand seized up around it; he couldn't have released it if he'd wanted to - and a narrow beam of light connected the two wands, neither red nor green, but bright, deep gold. Harry, following the beam with his astonished gaze, saw that Voldemort's long white fingers too were gripping a wand that was shaking and vibrating.

And then - nothing could have prepared Harry for this - he felt his feet lift from the ground. He and Voldemort were both being raised into the air, their wands still connected by that thread of shimmering golden light. They glided away from the tombstone of Voldemort's father and then came to rest on a patch of ground that was clear and free of graves....The Death Eaters were shouting; they were asking Voldemort for instructions; they were closing in, reforming the circle around Harry and Voldemort, the snake slithering at their heels, some of them drawing their wands -

The golden thread connecting Harry and Voldemort splintered; though the wands remained connected, a thousand more beams arced high over Harry and Voldemort, crisscrossing all around them, until they were enclosed in a golden, dome-shaped web, a cage of light, beyond which the Death Eaters circled like jackals, their cries strangely muffled now....

"Do nothing!" Voldemort shrieked to the Death Eaters, and Harry saw his red eyes wide with astonishment at what was happening, saw him fighting to break the thread of light still connecting his wand with Harry's; Harry held onto his wand more tightly, with both hands, and the golden thread remained unbroken. "Do nothing unless I command you!" Voldemort shouted to the Death Eaters.

And then an unearthly and beautiful sound filled the air....It was coming from every thread of the light-spun web vibrating around Harry and Voldemort. It was a sound Harry recognized, though he had heard it only once before in his life: phoenix song.

It was the sound of hope to Harry...the most beautiful and welcome thing he had ever heard in his life....He felt as though the song were inside him instead of just around him....It was the sound he connected with Dumbledore, and it was almost as though a friend were speaking in his ear....

Don't break the connection.

I know. Harry told the music, I know I mustn't...but no sooner had he thought it, than the thing became much harder to do. His wand began to vibrate more powerfully than ever...and now the beam between him and Voldemort changed too...it was as though large beads of light were sliding up and down the thread connecting the wands - Harry felt his wand give a shudder under his hand as the light beads began to slide slowly and steadily his way....The direction of the beams movement was now toward him, from Voldemort, and he felt his wand shudder angrily....

As the closest bead of light moved nearer to Harry's wand tip, the wood beneath his fingers grew so hot he feared it would burst into flame. The closer that bead moved, the harder Harry's wand vibrated; he was sure his wand would not survive contact with it; it felt as though it was about to shatter under his fingers -

He concentrated every last particle of his mind upon forcing the bead back toward Voldemort, his ears full of phoenix song, his eyes furious, fixed...and slowly, very slowly, the beads quivered to a halt, and then, just as slowly, they began to move the other way...and it was Voldemort's wand that was vibrating extra-hard now...Voldemort who looked astonished, and almost fearful....

One of the beads of light was quivering, inches from the tip of Voldemort's wand. Harry didn't understand why he was doing it, didn't know what it might achieve...but he now concentrated as he had never done in his life on forcing that bead of light right back into Voldemort's wand...and slowly...very slowly...it moved along the golden thread...it trembled for a moment...and then it connected....

At once, Voldemort's wand began to emit echoing screams of pain...then - Voldemort's red eyes widened with shock - a dense, smoky hand flew out of the tip of it and vanished...the ghost of the hand he had made Wormtail...more shouts of pain...and then something much larger began to blossom from Voldemort's wand tip, a great, grayish something, that looked as though it were made of the solidest, densest smoke....It was a head...now a chest and arms...the torso of Cedric Diggory.

If ever Harry might have released his wand from shock, it would have been then, but instinct kept him clutching his wand tightly, so that the thread of golden light remained unbroken, even though the thick gray ghost of Cedric Diggory (was it a ghost? it looked so solid) emerged in its entirety from the end of Voldemort's wand, as though it were squeezing itself out of a very narrow tunnel...and this shade of Cedric stood up, and looked up and down the golden thread of light, and spoke.

"Hold on. Harry," it said.

Its voice was distant and echoing. Harry looked at Voldemort...his wide red eyes were still shocked...he had no more expected this than Harry had...and, very dimly. Harry heard the frightened yells of the Death Eaters, prowling around the edges of the golden dome.

More screams of pain from the wand...and then something else emerged from its tip...the dense shadow of a second head, quickly followed by arms and torso...an old man Harry had seen only in a dream was now pushing himself out of the end of the wand just as Cedric had done...and his ghost, or his shadow, or whatever it was, fell next to Cedric's, and surveyed Harry and Voldemort, and the golden web, and the connected wands, with mild surprise, leaning on his walking stick....

"He was a real wizard, then?" the old man said, his eyes on Voldemort. "Killed me, that one did....You fight him, boy...."

But already, yet another head was emerging...and this head, gray as a smoky statue, was a woman's....Harry, both arms shaking now as he fought to keep his wand still, saw her drop to the ground and straighten up like the others, staring....

The shadow of Bertha Jorkins surveyed the battle before her with wide eyes.

"Don't let go, now!" she cried, and her voice echoed like Cedric's as though from very far away. "Don't let him get you, Harry - don't let go!"

She and the other two shadowy figures began to pace around the inner walls of the golden web, while the Death Eaters flitted around the outside of it...and Voldemort's dead victims whispered as they circled the duelers, whispered words of encouragement to Harry, and hissed words Harry couldn't hear to Voldemort.

And now another head was emerging from the tip of Voldemort's wand...and Harry knew when he saw it who it would be...he knew, as though he had expected it from the moment when Cedric had appeared from the wand...knew, because the man appearing was the one he'd thought of more than any other tonight....

The smoky shadow of a tall man with untidy hair fell to the ground as Bertha had done, straightened up, and looked at him...and Harry, his arms shaking madly now, looked back into the ghostly face of his father.

"Your mother's coming..." he said quietly. "She wants to see you...it will be all right...hold on...."

And she came...first her head, then her body...a young woman with long hair, the smoky, shadowy form of Lily Potter blossomed from the end of Voldemort's wand, fell to the ground, and straightened like her husband. She walked close to Harry, looking down at him, and she spoke in the same distant, echoing voice as the others, but quietly, so that Voldemort, his face now livid with fear as his victims prowled around him, could not hear....

"When the connection is broken, we will linger for only moments...but we will give you time...you must get to the Portkey, it will return you to Hogwarts...do you understand, Harry?"

"Yes," Harry gasped, fighting now to keep a hold on his wand, which was slipping and sliding beneath his fingers.

"Harry..." whispered the figure of Cedric, "take my body back, will you? Take my body back to my parents,..."

"I will," said Harry, his face screwed up with the effort of holding the wand.

"Do it now," whispered his father's voice, "be ready to run...do it now...."

"NOW!" Harry yelled; he didn't think he could have held on for another moment anyway - he pulled his wand upward with an almighty wrench, and the golden thread broke; the cage of light vanished, the phoenix song died - but the shadowy figures of Voldemort's victims did not disappear - they were closing in upon Voldemort, shielding Harry from his gaze -

And Harry ran as he had never run in his life, knocking two stunned Death Eaters aside as he passed; he zigzagged behind headstones, feeling their curses following him, hearing them hit the headstones - he was dodging curses and graves, pelting toward Cedric's body, no longer aware of the pain in his leg, his whole being concentrated on what he had to do -

"Stun him!" he heard Voldemort scream.

Ten feet from Cedric, Harry dived behind a marble angel to avoid the jets of red light and saw the tip of its wing shatter as the spells hit it. Gripping his wand more tightly, he dashed out from behind the angel -

"Impedimenta!" he bellowed, pointing his wand wildly over his shoulder at the Death Eaters running at him.

From a muffled yell, he thought he had stopped at least one of them, but there was no time to stop and look; he jumped over the cup and dived as he heard more wand blasts behind him; more jets of light flew over his head as he fell, stretching out his hand to grab Cedric's arm...

"Stand aside! I will kill him! He is mine!" shrieked Voldemort. Harry's hand had closed on Cedric's wrist; one tombstone stood between him and Voldemort, but Cedric was too heavy to carry, and the cup was out of reach -

Voldemort's red eyes flamed in the darkness. Harry saw his mouth curl into a smile, saw him raise his wand.

"Accio!" Harry yelled, pointing his wand at the Triwizard Cup. It flew into the air and soared toward him. Harry caught it by the handle -

He heard Voldemort's scream of fury at the same moment that he felt the jerk behind his navel that meant the Portkey had worked - it was speeding him away in a whirl of wind and color, and Cedric along with him....They were going back.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:55 AM on March 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

When Harry goes into the Forbidden Forest to be killed by Voldemort during the battle of hogwarts he drops/turns over the tease reaction stone and his parents (and a few others) are there I'm ghost form to stand by him as he goes to meet Voldemort.
posted by raccoon409 at 4:57 AM on March 13, 2017

I don't think the HP scene in question is a close match. I've read all the books, and I don't think there's any scene in them close enough to what you've written that anybody would think it was a rip-off. (Although I've only read each book once and seen all the movies once or twice, so it's possible I'm forgetting something. But I don't think so.) It does make me think of some things I've seen in movies where somebody dies and a bunch of souls fly out, like I remember a Tom and Jerry cartoon where a bunch of Tom's 9 lives get knocked out of him and I think they're in a chain kind of like you describe. But I don't think you need to worry about this. Even if some other scene in some other story WAS sort of similar, I don't think anybody's going to accuse you of plagiarism. I think you made this scene your own.

(I hope this won't be rude, but I question the use of "shimmerself." The writing in your passage is good, but that particular word strikes me as too... cute? I assume a shimmerself is something eerie and mysterious and soul-ish, but I'm afraid it sounds more like a new makeup line for teens. I also assume it's something rather pivotal to the story, so I'd suggest trying to come up with a word that has a little more gravity to it.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:59 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you! Just placed a hold on the e-book from the library, so I'll leave this open until I can read the passage itself. In the meantime, do you think it's similar enough that it would raise eyebrows if I self-published a story with that description in it? (And/or similar enough that the fact that Rowling's publishing house had that passage in hand and read it before publishing her book is at all... odd?)
posted by daisyace at 5:02 AM on March 13, 2017

Whoops - should have previewed - hang on while I catch up...
posted by daisyace at 5:03 AM on March 13, 2017

Ok, that's the passage, thank you! I'll still leave this open for input for a day or two about whether it would look like a rip-off if I self-published.

(And agreed about the term, 'shimmerself,' which I never felt great about.)
posted by daisyace at 5:08 AM on March 13, 2017

I'm primed to think of that HP scene (one of my favorites from the whole series) because you'd asked the question so it's hard to say for sure, but I think even without the question I would have at least noted in passing the similarity. How much it felt like a "rip off" to me would depend on context, I think - e.g., if this is a "wizard school" story I'd be much more likely to look at it askance than I might otherwise. If this rest of the story is quite different from Harry Potter, then I think this would be much easier to chalk up to the coincidence it actually is.

And/or similar enough that the fact that Rowling's publishing house had that passage in hand and read it before publishing her book is at all... odd?

Are you asking if Rowling or her publishing house stole the idea from you? I really can't overemphasize how much of a layman I am here - I would absolutely defer to anybody who chimes in from a publishing perspective - but my reaction here is that no, I really don't think there's a connection.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:34 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, now having read the passage, I'm sure that there wasn't any hint of a rip-off in the other direction!
posted by daisyace at 5:39 AM on March 13, 2017

I would also suggest reviewing the end of the third book when Harry conjures a stag Patronus. I think there may even be an icy lake involved. Your passage reminds me a lot more strongly of that.
posted by Threeve at 8:44 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

The icy lake in HP is from the 7th book, where Harry follows Snape's patronus (in the form of a doe) to a frozen lake in which Gryffindor's sword is submerged.
posted by bluejayway at 9:41 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Harry does conjure a Patronus by a lake in book 3, ut's just not an icy lake.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:53 PM on March 13, 2017


If your rejection was 20ish years ago, you can easily try to resubmit to see what they say now.
posted by Jacen at 11:55 PM on March 13, 2017

Thanks again all! I'll check out the additional passage candidates, but the posted one is, I'm pretty sure, what I was thinking of -- particularly the paragraphs from "One of the beads of light was quivering..." through Lily Potter's appearance. If I knew enough about Harry Potter, I'd insert an apropos phrase here acknowledging and appreciating your expertise and help. You know, like something better than, "a Butterbeer for each of you!"
posted by daisyace at 4:52 AM on March 14, 2017

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