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“What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Just another tough question for a first year potions student right? Wrong.
Asphodel is a type of lily (yes, Harry’s mummy) and this particularly lily means “My regrets follow you to the grave,” according to the Victorian Language of Flowers. Meanwhile, wormwood means ‘absence’ and is said to symbolise sorrow.
That might seem VERY odd to someone who hadn’t read all the novels, but the moment we discover Snape is in love with Lily in book seven, it all makes so much sense.
Could Snape possibly know they’d found out about the Philosopher’s Stone? Harry didn’t see how he could – yet he sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds.
Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
By the time he starts teaching Harry Legilimency and Occlumency in Order of the Phoenix (Book 5), we know Snape actually can read minds.
“What have you been telling him?” growled Bane. “Remember, Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?”
Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
Bane, the centaur, was seriously unhappy with his pal Firenze for intervening when Harry was in trouble in the Forbidden Forest. But why?
“He was talking about interfering with what the planets say is going to happen… They must show Voldemort’s coming back… Bane thinks Firenze should have let Voldemort kill me… I suppose that’s written in the stars as well.”
Couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Harry. We discover that it’s true in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.
It may have seemed as though he simply disliked Slytherin, but Albus Dumbledore had a far more important reason for awarding extra points to Neville Longbottom.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends,” said Dumbledore. Having faced off against his own pal, Gellert Grindelwald, he knew exactly how tough it was.
Of course he was evil and had to be stopped, but Dumbledore’s defeat of Gellert Grindelwald in 1945 (which Harry first learns of via a chocolate frog card) was far more significant than we thought.
It’s only in the final book that we discover it’s how Dumbledore won ownership of the Elder Wand, which then passed to Malfoy, and finally to Harry.
By the time we reach the end of book seven, we realise she was right more often than she was wrong.
She correctly predicted Harry and Voldemort’s final showdown; her fatal theory about the first person rising when 13 sit was also spot on (Sirius, Dumbledore and Lupin were all the first to rise from a table of 13); she predicted Peter Pettigrew’s return to his master and could even sense Voldemort’s soul in Harry.
That’s why she kept accidentally predicting he was born in mid-winter – aka Voldemort’s birthday, 31st December.
Remember reading about that room full of toilets, which Dumbledore just so happened to discover back in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire?
“Only this morning, for instance, I took a wrong turning on the way to the bathroom and found myself in a beautifully proportioned room I have never seen before, containing a really rather magnificent collection of chamber pots,” Harry overheard him saying. “When I went back to investigate more closely, I discovered that the room had vanished.”
Memories of the Hogwarts headmaster’s toilet habits came, err, flushing back when Harry discovered the Room of Requirement, just in time to start work with Dumbledore’s Army.
Tiny details about a mysterious cabinet dotted throughout the books finally came together when Malfoy used it to bring Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
Back in Chamber of Secrets, Nearly Headless Nick concocted a plan to get Harry out of trouble by convincing Peeves to break a vanishing cabinet.
A few years later, in Order of The Phoenix, Fred and George shoved a Slytherin lad by the name of Montague into an odd cabinet headfirst. Montague apparated to escape and ended up in the U-bend of a Hogwarts toilet, but that didn’t stop him revealing the cabinet’s potential to one Draco Malfoy.
And we all know what Draco did with it, using the entrance to help Death Eaters in to the school from Borgin and Burkes’ antique shop ready for the assassination of Dumbledore.
What you might not have spotted, however, was the debut of the cabinet’s Borgin and Burkes twin. When Harry mispronounced Diagon Alley while travelling by Floo Powder in Chamber of Secrets and found himself in the sinister Knockturn Alley shop, he hid in a strangely large cabinet to avoid Draco Malfoy.
He never closed the door fully, though, so it couldn’t possibly have sent him to Hogwarts.
“Must be nearly time,” said Mr. Weasley quickly, pulling out his watch again. “Do you know whether we’re waiting for any more, Amos?” “No, the Lovegoods have been there for a week already and the Fawcetts couldn’t get tickets,” said Mr. Diggory. “There aren’t any more of us in this area, are there?”
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
We first heard mention of the Lovegoods in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, when the gang are en route to the Quidditch World Cup.
Just one book later we meet Luna Lovegood, who turns out to be rather important indeed.
The first time we hear about Aberforth Dumbledore is when his brother, Albus, mentions him in passing to Harry. He doesn’t say much about him, other than that he got in a spot of bother for practising inappropriate magic with goats.
In Order of The Phoenix, when Dumbledore’s Army needs somewhere safe to meet, the trio opt to set up shop in The Hog’s Head Inn and note that it smells strangely of goat. But, most importantly, Harry notices something about its landlord.
“He was a grumpy-looking old man with a great deal of long gray hair and beard. He was tall and thin and looked vaguely familiar to Harry.”
Of course, we later discover that he is in fact Aberforth Dumbledore. And the magical circle of life is complete.
Now here’s one that’s a little bit more intricate and – if it really was a plot device – incredibly clever.
In Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, The Boy Who Lived helps good pal Ron survive a poisoning by running to nab a bezoar from Professor Slughorn’s stock.
He knows it’ll do the trick because his very cleverly annotated potions book told him so.
Back in The Goblet of Fire, he was sure he’d failed a potions test because he forgot to pop a bezoar in the cauldron.
And in his very first potions class, all the way back in Philosopher’s Stone, what does Half Blood Prince Severus Snape ask him?
“Let’s try again, Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”
Minds all over the Muggle world blown.
We’ve already established that the vanishing cabinet has roots throughout the book series, but remember when Harry decided to hide his rather dangerous old potions book – the one Snape annotated – in it?
And he came across a rather odd-looking tiara?
Cue another massive Deathly Hallows jaw drop when every single fan who’d read the novels just KNEW it had to be Helena Ravenclaw’s diadem and one of the last remaining horcruxes keeping Voldemort invincible.
During an argument at Spinner’s End in Half Blood Prince, Bellatrix reveals she’s been entrusted with something special. And it transpires she wasn’t kidding around.
In Deathy Hallows we learn she’s got a horcrux (Hufflepuff’s cup) sitting pretty among her gold galleons.
“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.”
Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix
Harry was QUITE annoyed that Aunt Petunia would refer to his father in such terms, but by the end of book seven we all knew it wasn’t his dad she was talking about at all. It was Lily’s first pal from the wizarding world – none other than Severus Snape.
“You didn’t think it was such a freak’s school when you wrote to the Headmaster and begged him to take you.”
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
Both we the readers and Harry thought it was via Howler, but as it transpired Petunia had actually written to Dumbledore, begging to go to Hogwarts like her sister.
Back in the days when we only had Potter books to pore over we all wondered why on earth Lily Potter’s big green (the movies messed up on that one) eyes could be so important.
Did they give her extra magical powers? Could they hold the key to the mystery of her murder? Or were they just very very very nice eyes?
Well, the answer we sought finally came to us in Deathly Hallows. They were oh-so-important because they were the last eyes Severus Snape would look upon as he passed away, both a crushing and comforting reminder of the woman he’d always loved.
“He said my blood would make him stronger than if he’d used someone else’s,” Harry told Dumbledore. “He said the protection my – my mother left in me – he’d have it too. And he was right – he could touch me without hurting himself, he touched my face.”
For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes. But next second, Harry was sure he had imagined it, for when Dumbledore had returned to his seat behind the desk, he looked as old and weary as Harry had ever seen him.
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Why was Dumbledore delighted? Well, as he explains in Deathly Hallows, it’s because by taking Harry’s blood, Voldemort keeps him alive, even in death, giving The Boy Who Lived the opportunity to decide whether he wants to keep on living.
When first we heard of a man by the name of Sirius Black in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, he was just some bloke who loaned Hagrid a motorbike to bring Harry to the Dursleys safely.
Little did we know that just two books later we’d discover he was one of the most important characters in the boy wizard’s life.
And when Harry got to Grimmauld Place, feeling as though he’d entered the home of a “dying man”, we should have twigged it was Rowling laying the foundations for her heartbreaking Order of The Phoenix plot.
Quite possibly the most famous and beloved plot point Rowling ever dropped first pops up in Order of The Phoenix.
While cleaning the house, Harry, Ron and Hermione come across a heavy old locket that nobody can open and decide to cast it aside because they can’t be bothered to deal with it.
Cue a billion Potterhead jaws dropping when Regulus Arcturus Black made his revelation at the end of Half Blood Prince. We all knew it had to be the missing horcrux.
Bravo, Ms Rowling. Bravo.
Who wouldn’t want to have a go at He Who Must Not Be Named?