First, let's expand the snippet and get more context.

Read this longer version:

Harry slumped back against his pillows as Dumbledore disappeared. Hermione, Ron and Mrs Weasley were all looking at him. None of them spoke for a very long time.

"You’ve got to take the rest of your potion, Harry," Mrs Weasley said at last. Her hand nudged the sack of gold on his bedside cabinet as she reached for the bottle and the goblet. "You have a good long sleep. Try and think about something else for a while ... think about what you’re going to buy with your winnings!"

"I don’t want that gold," said Harry in an expressionless voice. "You have it. Anyone can have it. I shouldn’t have won it. It should’ve been Cedric’s."

The thing against which he had been fighting on and off ever since he had come out of the maze was threatening to overpower him. He could feel a burning, prickling feeling in the inner corners of his eyes. He blinked and stared up at the ceiling.

"It wasn’t your fault, Harry," Mrs Weasley whispered.

"I told him to take the Cup with me," said Harry.

Now the burning feeling was in his throat, too. He wished Ron would look away.

Mrs Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs Weasley held him to her. His mother’s face, his father’s voice, the sight of Cedric, dead on the ground, all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him.

There was a loud slamming noise, and Mrs Weasley and Harry broke apart. Hermione was standing by the window. She was holding something tight in her hand.

"Sorry," she whispered.

"Your potion, Harry," said Mrs Weasley quickly, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand.

Harry drank it in one. The effect was instantaneous. Heavy, irresistible waves of dreamless sleep broke over him, he fell back onto his pillows, and thought no more.


Let's think about the story elements this scene suggests.

We have: 

  • A main character who has been through some kind of suffering (Harry; Cedric's death).
  • A secondary character who shows them kindness and care (Mrs Weasley; motherly hug).
  • Some tertiary characters who are mostly an audience in the scene (Hermione and Ron).

In terms of action:

  • The secondary character wants the main character to do something (take the potion).
  • It's clear that if the main character takes that action, they will be changed in some big way, even if only temporarily (Harry will fall asleep).


If we want to write our own version of this scene, we need similar elements:

  • A main character who has been through some kind of suffering.
  • (Examples: Kid playing and friend has a terrible accident; kid who was kidnapped with friend; kid who has survived a war.)
  • A secondary character who shows them kindness.
  • (Examples: Parent, friend, doctor, cop, soldier, nurse, stranger.)
  • Something the secondary character wants the main character to do.
  • (Examples: Drink, eat, sleep, leave somewhere, enter something, accept something, give up something.)
  • A change that will happen if the main character obeys.
  • (Basically some kind of relief from the suffering—it depends on what you've set up.)
Write down some ideas for your own scene. Main character who has been suffering, secondary character to show care, something the secondary character wants them to do, a change that will happen.

We have our raw ingredients for a scene, but how are we going to amplify the emotional impact?

You know what would be really handy?

If we had some other model we could use for inspiration.

Wait a minute—these are the same ingredients as the Watership Down snippet! 🧙‍♂️🐰🤯

So it turns out that the Harry Potter and Watership Down snippets use the same basic story elements:

  • Main character who has suffered: Hazel; whole bunch of traumas in the story, and lately old age.
  • Secondary character showing kindness: the Rabbit-God.
  • A request: leave the warren and join the immortal owsla.
  • A change: departure (and death).

So let's compare how each of these scenes handles emotion, and figure out what's weak about one, and what we can apply from the other.