Today marks the 8th anniversary of the publication of the finial Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Spoilers abound for the whole series, despite being eight years done.
I remember where I was was the finial volume came out. I was sixteen. One of my best friends and I barricaded ourselves in her room after dashing to the general store in our small town at 4 AM (when it opened) to purchase our copies. We emerged only when her grandmother insisted we eat something. We put our books down only after some of the more emotional scenes so we could talk it out together. (I threw my book across the room at Dobby’s Death and she got mad because she was two pages behind-oops). It took us all day to get through it together, but we finished it in one sitting. It was the first readings of many. We both grew up on Harry Potter, finding the series at an emotionally challenging time in our lives, and we were better for it.
So now, on it’s anniversary, I’d like to talk about some of the brilliant aspects of J.K. Rowling’s writings, the little things that were there all along that you might not have noticed. Lists like this are popping up all over the place, with facts that most die-hard Harry Potter fans already know, about Dumbledore being gay, about Fred and George being born on April Fools day, about Neville going on to teach Herbolody and Ginny joining the Hollyhead Harpies. I hope this list gives those die-hard fans something new.
1. Quirrell, not Snape, caused Harry’s Scar to hurt in the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone
Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.
It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell’s turban straight into Harry’s eyes — and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry’s forehead.
“Ouch!” Harry clapped a hand to his head.
“What is it?” asked Percy.
The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder to shake off was the feeling Harry had gotten from the teacher’s look — a feeling that he didn’t like Harry at all.
Harry’s scar doesn’t hurt from Snape glaring at him; it hurts because Voldemort is in the back of Quirrell’s turban which Harry’s calls absurd.
2. Harry sees three objects in Borgin & Burkes in the Chamber of Secrets that come into play in Half-Blood Prince
Harry looked quickly around and spotted a large black cabinet to his left…
This is the second half to the vanishing cabinet Draco uses to sneak the Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
“Can I have that?” interrupted Draco, pointing at the withered hand on its cushion. “Ah, the Hand of Glory!” said Mr. Borgin, abandoning Mr. Malfoy’s list and scurrying over to Draco.
This is what Draco uses to see through the darkness he causes when sneaking Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
Draco paused to examine a long coil of hangman’s rope and to read, smirking, the card propped on a magnificent necklace of opals, Caution: Do Not Touch. Cursed – Has Claimed the Lives of Nineteen Muggle Owners to Date.
This is the necklace used in a failed attempt to kill Dumbledore that resulted in Katie Bell being cursed and hospitalized.
3. Ron is always wrong, except when he is joking
In Chamber of Secrets when the trio is trying to figure out what Tom Riddle did to earn a trophy Ron says:
“Could’ve been anything,” said Ron. “Maybe he got thirty OWLs or saved a teacher from the giant squid. Maybe he murdered Myrtle; that would’ve done everyone a favor…”
Later on we learn that Tom did, in fact, murder Myrtle.
Also in Camber of Secrets when the trio is talking about Lockhart:
“Rubbish,” said Hermione, “You’ve read his books-look at all those amazing things he’s done-”
“He says he’s done,” Ron muttered.
In Goblet of Fire we see more of this phenomenon when Ron and Harry are making up predictions for Divination class. Ron suggests to Harry that he should write down that Harry gets stabbed in the back by someone he thought was a friend. That comes true when Ron gets mad at Harry for becoming a champion. Then, Ron says that he’ll come off worse in a fight. Later, Hermione and Ron fight about the Yule Ball, and Harry thought that Hermione had gotten the point much better than Ron had. Harry said that Ron would lose a treasured possession, and the gold he gave to Harry for the Omnioculars disappeared. Later, Hermione came up after Harry and Ron were finishing their predictions and observes that Ron seems to be drowning twice. For the second Triwizard task, Ron and Hermione are placed at the bottom of the lake, and Harry thinks that they’ll drown if he doesn’t get them out.
There are other points when this rule rings true, but I listed the my favorite examples.
4. In Prisoner of Azkaban Harry’s Pocket Sneakoscope was right all along
“GET-HIM-OUT-OF-HERE!” Ron bellowed as Crookshanks’s claws ripped his pajamas and Scabbers attempted a wild escape over his shoulder. Ron seized Scabbers by the tail and aimed a misjudged kick at Crookshanks that hit the trunk at the end of Harry’s bed, knocking it over and causing Ron to hop up and down, howling with pain. Crookshank’s fur suddenly stood on the end. A shrill, tinny whistling was filling the room. The Pocket Sneakoscope had become dislodged from Uncle Vernon’s old socks and was whirling and gleaming on the floor.
For those of you who forgot a Pocket Sneakoscope is a type of detector that looks like a glass spinning top. It lights up, spins, and whistles if someone is doing something untrustworthy nearby. Harry oft thinks his is broken, but that is only because he doesn’t yet know that Scabbers is Peter Pettigrew in disguise and he is the one who isn’t trustworthy.
5. Petunia made a reference to Lily and Severus’s friendship in Order of the Phoenix
“And what the ruddy hell are Dementors?” [Uncle Vernon said.] “They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,” said Aunt Petunia.
Two seconds of ringing silence followed these words before Aunt Petunia clapped her hand over her mouth as though she had let slip a disgusting swear word. Uncle Vernon was goggling at her. Harry’s brain reeled. Mrs. Figg was one thing – but Aunt Petunia?
“How d’you know that?” he asked her, astonished. Aunt Petunia looked quite appalled with herself. She glanced at Uncle Vernon in fearful apology, then lowered her hand slightly to reveal her horsy teeth.
“I heard – that awful boy – telling her about them – years ago,” she said jerkily.
“If you mean my mum and dad, why don’t you use their names?” said Harry loudly, but Aunt Petunia ignored him. She seemed horribly flustered.
We learn in Deathly Hollows that this was Severus who told Lily, but Harry assumes it was his father, so naturally we do to.
6. Trelawney was right about another thing: 13 people sit down, first to rise first to die
In Order of the Phoenix, upon Harry’s first night in Grimmauld Place thirteen people sit down to eat. Sirius is the first to rise.
In Deathly Hallows those that survived Voldemort’s attack when they were rescuing Harry sat down to drink Firewhisky. There were again thirteen, of which Remus was the first to rise in order to attempt to retrieve Mad-Eye Moody’s body.
7. In Half-Blood Prince Bellatrix foreshadowed an important scene in Deathly Hallows.
“The Dark Lord has in the past entrusted me with his most precious…”
We later learn that the Dark Lord entrusted her to keep in her Gringotts Vault the Goblet of Helga Hufflepuff which was his Horcrux, although she likely didn’t know its true purpose, and only that it was one of Voldemort’s most treasured possessions.
8. Halloween is an important date:
- Harry was possibly conceived on this date
- It’s the date Voldemort killed Harry’s Parents and attempted to kill him.
- Quirrell let in the Mountain Troll, which was a major turning point in Hermione’s friendship with Harry and Ron.
- Nearly-Headless Nick was almost beheaded and died.
- The Chamber of Secrets was opened for the first time and Mrs. Norris was petrified.
- Sirius Black slashed the Fat Lady’s portrait in an attempt to get into Gryffindor tower.
- Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire.
- Trelawney made the prophecy about Harry to Dumbledore.
9. Dumbledore didn’t really see socks in the Mirror of Erised, but the socks were a clue
“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.”
Dumbledore and Harry share the same vision in the Mirror: their family standing around them. Dumbledore looked into the mirror and saw Percival and Kendra all returned to him, Ariana properly using magic and alive, and Aberforth reconciled to him.
“What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
“I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.” Harry stared.
“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
It was only when he was back in bed that it struck Harry that Dumbledore might not have been quite truthful. But then, he thought, as he shoved Scabbers off his pillow, it had been quite a personal question.
So, why then did Dumbledore give the ridiculous answer of socks instead of something more believable? Think about Harry’s Christmas gifts, one was always a sweater hand knitted every year by Molly Weasley. Clothing, especially those made by hand, is a family tradition in many places and the socks may be a reference to gifts he received for Christmas that were made by his mother. We even see the Dursleys presenting Harry with socks for his birthday, Ron gets socks from his mother on Christmas, and both of them give plenty of socks to Dobby.
10. Neville was an excellent student all along, it was his wands fault he appeared incompetent.
Before Neville first went to Hogwarts, he didn’t rush to Ollivander’s to purchase a new wand like the rest of the first years. Instead, he inherited his father’s wand. It wasn’t until after this wand broke during the fighting with the Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic that he received a new one, one that chose him. Given what we later learn of wand lore and that either a wand must choose you, or that you must defeat the previous owner, in order to use it properly, this can explain why Neville was such a poor student yet was able to perform magic a lot better after he received a new one, especially as seen during the Battle of Hogwarts.
There is one other person who might not have used magic to his full potential either at first, Ron Weasley. His first wand was passed down from his brother Carlie and was 12” long, made of ash, and had a core of unicorn hair that stuck out at the end of the wand. Not only did this wand not choose Ron, but on Pottermore we learn that ash “cleaves to its one true owner and ought not to be passed on or gifted from the original owner, as it would lose power” and that with wands with cores of unicorn hair “are the most faithful of all wands, and usually remain strongly attached to their first owner.” However, given that Ron wasn’t the best student anyways it’s hard to determine if this is the case or not.
BONUS: Fred & George were the first ones to physically attack Voldemort in the series.
So there you go. I hope at least one of these was new to you unlike the clickbait everywhere else on the web today.