Firstly, I want to thank everybody that e-mailed me things to use in my column- I got some very interesting and sharp-eyed observations! It seems as though the HP books are chock-full of little hints, mysteries, and clues that take a bit of digging to find, but they could turn out to be potentially important details. Here are e-mails sent to me, along with my analysis (and I sincerely aplogise if I get your name wrong, if the e-mail wasn't signed I used the name that appeared in my inbox). Enjoy, and as usual there are spoilers for Order of the Phoenix ahead.
Firstly, I got very good speculations about two characters from Brian,
so I'll start with those. Here is the first:
Along those lines, is Snape so mean to Neville because Neville darn well better get really good at potions (i.e. poisons and antidotes) if he is going to survive?"
I'm sure I, like many others, just passed off the misbehaviour of Neville's broom as evidence of his clumsiness. However, one REALLY does wonder- a lot of the students must have been just as nervous as Neville was about flying, yet none of them reacted badly enough to send their brooms flying. COULD this have been a deliberate attempt to kill Neville, then? Possibly... and remember, while we readers didn't find out about the prophecy until Book 5, Voldemort knew about it even before book 1... and Voldemort was attached to Quirrell's head. Voldemort may have seen this as a chance to kill off BOTH boys the prophecy could have applied to, since he doesn't know for sure which boy will cause his downfall, and decided broomstick accidents would be the perfect way to kill both and make it look like an accident in Neville's case and an traitorous act by Snape in Harry's case. Speaking of Snape, I do believe it's plausible that Snape is so mean to Neville because Snape wants Neville to put more effort into his work, not only to prove to everyone that he isn't so clumsy, but it is indeed necessary for him to gain more confidence in his work so he can survive the upcoming war with Voldemort. Remember the saying, "What doesn't kill me will only make me stronger"? That's essentially the idea in this case- if Neville doesn't let Snape's bullying bring him down, he will become a stronger wizard.
Here is the second speculation from Brian:
I feel this is a brilliant theory- I've seen the idea that Snape is a
full vampire being tossed around, but there's also a lot that contradicts
it. But Snape COULD indeed be half-vampire, since he exhibits some qualities
of a vampire (ie, a very pale complexion and a seeming love for the dark)
but not all of them. Being a half-vampire could be why Snape is consistently
denied the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, even when they're
Very good observation there. When J.K. mentions things repeatedly, chances are it's going to crop up and be somewhat important later in the story. (Another instance in which vampires are mentioned is when the kids are guessing who will be the next Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher after Lupin leaves in book 3, Dean Thomas "hopefully" suggests a vampire. Very interesting choice.) If Snape is not a vampire or half-vampire, perhaps Harry will meet another new character that is one?
The point about radio stations and common Muggle things like bathrooms being features in the wizarding world is very interesting indeed. A lot of wizards, especially pure-bloods, seem to have absolutely no idea how things in the Muggle world work, evidenced by the fact that there is a Muggle Studies class at Hogwarts, so why would they use Muggle objects like radios, cars like the Weasleys' Ford Anglia, and a train to deliver the kids to Hogwarts? Hermione also says that "all of those substitutes for magic that Muggles use" go haywire around Hogwarts, so how could Mr. Weasley's car, for instance, still drive around? I'm not sure about the radio station, but obviously things like toilets and baths are a necessity, as well as a train to transport students (it would be a nightmare for so many students to travel via Portkeys or Floo Powder, correct?). So I theorize that Muggle objects that are a necessity are reworked to work by magic instead of electricity or batteries or whatever to work around Hogwarts and other parts of the Wizarding world. As far as the Dueling Club goes, I was also curious as to why that was never revived after that disastrous first meeting. Obviously after Book 4 the Ministery wouldn't allow it, and the D.A. in Book 5 was an extension of this, but wouldn't it be better if all young wizards learned to defend themselves in such a way? As Mad-Eye Moody says, constant vigilance!
Here is the second e-mail I got from Ezequiel:
For point 1: Magic is a very mysterious thing, even to the wizards who use it. I'm willing to bet most wizards don't take the time to think about where the spell they're using come from. So ARE most spells invented or discovered? We don't know. We DO know that spells -CAN- be created... Voldemort says after he is reborn in book 4 that he used "a spell or two of my own invention" to get his body back- but there obviously have to be limits or difficulties in inventing a spell, or else any wizard who has enough knowledge and power to create spells could potentially become invincible. For point 2: I've often wondered myself why the kids, the main trio especially, often seem to get away with using spells outside of school. Fred and George also seem to have had a penchant for using magic outside of school when they weren't supposed to in order to develop their joke stuff, yet they never (to our knowledge) got a warning from the Ministry for it. My guess is the Ministry's method for tracking illegal spells isn't very reliable, and they can only detect the general area in which an illegal spell was used and in some cases which spell was used, they can't tell exactly who did it. For instance, when Dobby used the Hover Charm in book 2 to knock over the pudding, Harry got blamed for it, even though he was not the one who actually did the spell. The Ministry likely concentrates their efforts to find illegal spells in areas heavy with Muggles (like the Dursleys' neighbourhood), since Muggles aren't supposed to know about magic. In areas like the Ministry of Magic, or at the Burrow, there must be too much magic in the air for the Ministry to even detect if an illegal spell is fired, and even then they likely don't care since Muggles aren't likely to be present. For point 3: Portkeys haven't really been fully explained yet, but my guess is Dumbledore chose not to create them all the times he could have used them to aid Harry because for one, making Portkeys without authorization is illegal. Dumbledore only did it in book 5 because it was urgent to get Harry away from someplace, and he didn't care that the Ministry minded. Dumbledore also probably wants Harry to learn how to work things out for himself, so he doesn't help nearly as much as he could via usage of Portkeys. Also, I speculate that, to create a Portkey, you must know exactly where you're going to, so Dumbledore or anybody else can't just create a Portkey for an unknown destination.
Here is Ezequiel's third and final e-mail:
For the potions: It does seem a bit odd that they just seemingly throw together a bunch of solid stuff to make a potion at first glance, but they also probably start with water or some sort of liquid as the base for the potion, and the other ingredients dissolve each other or melt (we don't know how hot magical fires can get or if they have any special qualities for dissolving potion ingredients). Even so, their potions must usually be thick and goopy and disgusting to drink, so Snape may just judge if they made the potion correctly by things like appearance, texture, and smell. For Dumbledore: There is a very good reason he didn't kill Voldemort, and it may not be entirely to do with the fact that Harry is as far as we know the only one who can kill Voldemort. Dumbledore may want Voldemort to suffer for all of the killing and despair he has caused during his reign of terror, and Dumbledore wouldn't be satisfied with just killing Voldy if he didn't suffer intense pain for it first. After all, he DID say during their battle that there are things worse than death, but Voldemort has always failed to realize this. And this will likely all come back down to Harry: Harry is the only one who can kill Voldemort, and when Voldy tried fusing himself with Harry and forcing Dumbledore to kill both of them, Harry thought about Sirius and it caused Voldemort unbearable agony, forcing them apart. Harry and whatever power resides within him (most likely love) will be the downfall of Voldemort, and Dumbledore knows he can't do anything to make himself the one who will kill Voldy. I'm willing to bet either a huge disaster or nothing would happen if the prophecy wasn't fully fulfilled- part of it already HAS been fulfilled, the part about the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord being born at the end of July. However, it's unlikely that the prophecy will go wrong, since Dumbledore DID make it clear that the prophecy did apply to Harry so he is thus the only one who can vanquish Voldemort, and Dumbledore is too smart to try and go against it, since it could result in the death of himself or another important character.
In my opinion, the Sorting Hat's choices are very rarely mistakes. If
Hermione was placed into Gryffindor, there was a good reason for it. But
as far as
Another possible Easter Egg is found in Book 5, chapter 35. In this chapter Neville's nose is broken and his wand is broken in half so Harry recommends that he use Hermoine's. Later in this same chapter, Neville and Luna help Harry to do the ColoPortus spell on the doors in the Brain Room; Neville uses Hermoine's wand to do this. Later, however, Neville tries to use Hermoie's wand against the Death Eaters and is unable. This makes me curious as to whether there isn't another wand prohibition besides the Priori Incantatem that makes Neville able to use Hermoine's wand on the doors, but not against the Death Eaters. Hermoine used it successfully, but Neville could not. We still don't know what's at the core of Hermoine's wand.
Another Easter Egg is the mere existence of the brothers Colin and Dennis Creevey. They are a miracle pair. To be wizard brothers from Muggle parents is absolutely astounding. J.K. Rowling makes sure to include both brothers in the DA as can be seen in Chapter 5, chapters 16 and 18, even though Dennis is only a second year student at Hogswart. This blows my mind. I think Ms. Rowling has more to communicate to us concerning this phenomena of muggle born wizards, perhaps in connection with Harry's mother and aunt. Dumbledore's howler in Book 5, chapter 2 was very cryptic. It said, "Remember my last, Petunia." Dumbledore's use of her first name makes me think she must have known Dumbledore before the letter he left with baby Harry years before. It'svery familiar and personal."
Regarding Nott: I noticed this as well. All four of those Slytherin boys (Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott) were seen discussing the Quibbler article, and it mentions in the book that Harry had named all of their fathers as Death Eaters in said article. So it seems as though Theodore Nott is indeed the son of the Death Eater that appeared in the graveyard in book 4. Theodore Nott was also mentioned at Harry's sorting (the last name "Nott" came before "Parkinson", who we know is Pansy Parkinson), so could Nott come back to play a role in a future book? On Neville using Hermione's wand: I re-read the passage, and it seems indeed as though Neville is able to use Hermione's wand perfectly until he tries Stunning the Death Eater. I thought initially that the reason Neville couldn't fire off spells with it was because of his broken nose- he couldn't speak the names of the spells properly, so they wouldn't work even if he'd had his own wand. However, upon closer inspection, if Neville and Luna were sealing off doors, how could Neville have spoken the spell for Colloportus correctly, if he can't say Stupefy (both spell words contain the letter "p", but Neville's nose causes him to say the letter "b" instead)? There are three ways we can interpret this: 1. It was an oversight by Rowling; 2. They were sealing the doors by hand, and not with spells (unlikely, since it's evidenced several times before wizards usually prefer to use magic rather than do things by hand), or 3. Neville had no difficulties closing the door since Colloportus is seemingly a simple spell, but Stupefy requires more power behind it, and using Hermione's wand in conjunction with his injury made it nigh on impossible to fire the spell off correctly. And finally, regarding the Creeveys and Muggle-borns in general: Very good point. I found myself cheering for the Creevey brothers when they did so well in the D.A., because before they were usually seen as annoying by everybody, but they proved that Muggle-borns can be good wizards too, just as Hermione has done many times before. Muggle-born wizards like them are definitely going to be huge assets in the coming war with Voldemort. And the Howler that Dumbledore sent to Aunt Petunia has been the subject of much speculation and debate. Petunia definitely knows a lot more than she's letting on, but exactly what she knows will have to remain to be seen.
I hope you all have enjoyed this column. I thank everybody who contributed to this one, or even those of you who have in the past taken the time just to e-mail me with praise. Keep the speculations and ideas coming, I love hearing what insights people send to me, and I may base another future column or columns on reader submissions!
by Mary McGowan
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