Bloggers around the Internet have declared July 2016 as the #PotterMonth -my new favorite month-. With so many long-waited releases starting this summer, I found it fitting to write about the interesting Harry Potter facts I learned from articles written by J.K. Rowling -after the books-.
You can read all these facts -and more- on Pottermore.
1. How did Lupin become a werewolf?
Remus Lupin is one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter. In the books we see him as a very tragic figure, he faced the stigma of being a werewolf (a stigma that Rowling used as a metaphor for illnesses like HIV and AIDS) and also suffered the symptoms of a chronic illness. He was also one of Harry’s most loyal friends and was murdered during the Second Wizarding War, which he fought trying to make a better world in which his son could live happy and safe.
If Lupin’s story is not tragic enough for you, you can read the backstory that Rowling wrote him on Pottermore.
She wrote that Remus’ father, Lyall Lupin, worked for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. He was asked to help during the interrogation of Fenrir Greyback (whom some believed to be a werewolf). Fenrir was able to convince Lyall’s coworkers that he was just a muggle, but Lyall insisted on keeping him in detention until the next full moon – just to be sure. The others made fun of him for being ‘too paranoid’. Then bad things happened:
“Lyall, generally a mild-mannered man, grew angry. He described werewolves as ‘soulless, evil, deserving nothing but death’. The committee ordered Lyall out of the room, the head of the committee apologised to the Muggle tramp and Greyback was released. […] Greyback lost no time in sharing with his friends how Lyall Lupin had just described them. Their revenge on the wizard who thought that werewolves deserved nothing but death would be swift and terrible. Shortly before Remus Lupin’s fifth birthday, as he slept peacefully in his bed, Fenrir Greyback forced open the boy’s window and attacked him. Lyall reached the bedroom in time to save his son’s life, driving Greyback out of the house with a number of powerful curses. However, henceforth, Remus would be a full-fledged werewolf. Lyall Lupin never forgave himself for the words he had spoken in front of Greyback at the inquiry: ‘soulless, evil, deserving nothing but death’.” -fragment from Pottermore.
And that’s how Remus, the lovable and clever 5 year old, became the thing that his father had scorned in a fit of anger. -And I just cried a little.-
2. Did Draco Malfoy turn into a good guy?
I, along with innumerable Potterheads, wanted Draco to turn into a nice guy and be best friends with Harry Potter. It might be because his bad boy character had pitiful and kinda tragic story: being raised to believe that pure-blood families were a better race and that the glory of the Malfoy family had been lost with the fall of Lord Voldemort. Draco was not entirely guilty of his bully attitude towards Half-bloods and Muggles – it was simply the way his parents raised him. We know that, close to the end of the war, Draco didn’t feel like helping Voldemort at all. He just did what he believed was the right thing to help his family.
So, when the Death Eaters were gone and the Malfoy family was free of Voldemort’s pressure, Draco felt like it was time to stop being so racist. He married the sister of a fellow Slytherin, who shared his new beliefs of being nice to Muggles. And raced their children this way -to his parents disappointment. But, even though this was a great improvement for him, Rowling said that Draco did not revealed a ‘golden heart’ after all. He was not a misunderstood kind soul after all, but a smug kid raised by narcissists who learned to be less narcissistic.
A fragment of Rowling’s thoughts on Draco:
“I imagine that Draco grew up to lead a modified version of his father’s existence; independently wealthy, without any need to work, Draco inhabits Malfoy Manor with his wife and son. I see in his hobbies further confirmation of his dual nature. The collection of Dark artefacts harks back to family history, even though he keeps them in glass cases and does not use them. However, his strange interest in alchemical manuscripts, from which he never attempts to make a Philosopher’s Stone, hints at a wish for something other than wealth, perhaps even the wish to be a better man. I have high hopes that he will raise Scorpius to be a much kinder and more tolerant Malfoy than he was in his own youth.” -fragment from Pottermore.
3. How did the Marauders lost their map?
It is never mentioned in the books how the Marauders lost their map. But we know that Fred and George found it in Filch’s office so Rowling believes that it was simply confiscated by Argus.
“The masterpiece of a map was confiscated in Sirius, James, Remus and Peter’s final year and none of them were able to steal it back from a well-prepared and suspicious Filch. In any case, their priorities changed in their final months at school, becoming far more serious and focused on the world beyond Hogwarts, where Lord Voldemort was successfully rising to power. All four of the map’s creators would shortly be inducted into the renegade organisation headed by Albus Dumbledore, the Order of the Phoenix, and a map of their old school – no matter how ingenious – would no longer be of use to them except as a piece of nostalgia.” -fragment from Pottermore.
4. Why couldn’t harry see Thestrals from the beggining?
Rowling explained that being able to see a Thestral is not just a matter witnessing death, but people have to understand it and have an emotional response to the death they witnessed.
“Harry Potter was unable to see Thestrals for years after his mother was killed in front of him, because he was barely out of babyhood when the murder happened, and he had been unable to comprehend his own loss. Even after the death of Cedric Diggory, weeks elapsed before the full import of death’s finality was borne upon him. Only at this point did the Thestrals that pull the carriages from Hogsmeade Station to Hogwarts castle become visible to him. On the other hand, Luna Lovegood, who lost her own mother when she was young, saw Thestrals very soon afterwards because she is intuitive, spiritual and unafraid of the afterlife.” -fragment from Pottermore.
5. Who built the Prison of Azkaban?
This is one of the darkest facts I’ve found on Pottermore. Rowling revealed that the prison was not initially built to guard prisoners, but was actually created -and concealed- by an evil wizard who needed a place to torture Muggles in peace.
“The fortress upon it was originally home to a little-known sorcerer who called himself Ekrizdis. Evidently extremely powerful, but of unknown nationality, Ekrizdis, who is believed to have been insane, was a practitioner of the worst kinds of Dark Arts. Alone in the middle of the ocean, he lured, tortured and killed Muggle sailors, apparently for pleasure, and only when he died, and the concealment charms he had cast faded away, did the Ministry of Magic realize that either island or building existed. Those who entered to investigate refused afterwards to talk of what they had found inside, but the least frightening part of it was that the place was infested with Dementors.” -fragment from Pottermore.
A couple on ministers of magic who visited Azkaban found the place too horrible and tried to close it, but it was not possible until Kingsley Shacklebolt gave the order purge the place of Dementors, during his time as minister. Azkaban is still a perfect location for a magical prison, but now is guarded by Aurors who don’t kiss their prisoners to dead. It was also revealed that the name ‘Azkaban’ derives from the Muggle prison ‘Alcatraz’ which is its closest equivalent, both being set on an island.
- Image credit: J.K. Rowling’s illustration – published in her website in 2004
There are a lot of interesting stories to read on Pottermore while we wait for all the releases.
With the opening of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage play on July 30, the launch of the scrip book on July 31, the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated edition on October 4, the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie on November 18 (and the movie screenplay the next day); one can say it’s a great year to be a Potterhead.
What are you most excited about? 🙂