Harry Potter. The boy who lived. For me, these books evoked so many emotions, I laughed out loud, I cried, I grew up loving every last word and having nightmares about Lord Voldemort! Now, 20 years later, I have a 4 year old who is edging into Harry’s world too, and I still feel all those same feelings. A small idea from one woman really can change the world in a huge way! So to celebrate #HarryPotter20, I’ve shared my A-Z of all things magical!
A, Arithmancy: Hermione’s favourite subject, a form of divination using numbers, resulting in a precise way to calculate the future. How useful would this actually be?! In actual fact, arithmancy is real and was used by the ancient Greeks, historians believe, to predict the outcome of a battle.
B, Bellatrix: I hated her so much! Such an evil character and then Warner Bros. go and cast Helena Bonham Carter, a national institution. How can I hate her?! Bellatrix is responsible for the death of Sirius and Dobby and is the mother of Delphini, a love child conceived with her beloved Lord Voldemort.
C, Cruciatus: The unforgivable curse that ultimately drove Alice and Frank Longbottom insane, leaving Neville with parents who no longer knew him. This curse was used by the death eaters to torture muggles and those who fought on their behalf.
D, Dumbledore: My favourite character of all. I still have not finished grieving in fact. The final book of the series revealed so much I was in shock for at least a week. Considered to be the most powerful wizard and the only one who Voldemort ever feared, Dumbledore is famed for his defeat of Gellert Gridlewald. A prefect, head boy and proud Gryffindor, he turned down the role of minister for magic several times and succeeded Armando Dippet as head teacher of Hogwarts. He lived for 115 years and, though probably mad, was the greatest of wizards but also a lover of sherbet lemons!
E, Expelliarmus: a disarming spell, used frequently by Harry Potter, including in his defeat of Lord Voldemort.
F, Felix Felicis: The potion awarded to Harry by Professor Slughorn, that could make whoever consumed it lucky. Harry pretended to spike Ron’s drink with it in order to give him confidence in a Quidditch match, but in fact, Harry used it to extract that all-important memory from Slughorn.
G, Goblet of fire: used to select the competitors in the fourth instalment for the Triwizard tournament. Used eventually as a portkey to get Harry to Voldemort, leading to the untimely death of Cedric Diggory. I read this book first, bizarrely then started from the beginning. Then my life began!!
H, Hogwarts: I so wanted to go to this school. However, I will never find it as to us muggles, it looks like an old, abandoned castle in the highlands of Scotland. Many of the rooms and staircases move and the school motto is ‘Draco Dormiens Nunquam Tittilandus’, meaning ‘Never tickle a sleeping dragon’ (Obviously!). The school was founded in 990 AD by Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff, though Slytherin fell out with the other three founders not long after due to his wish to only admit purebloods.
J, Jelly-Legs jinx: a spell to cast to make your foe’s legs all wobbly and weak!
K, Knockturn alley: a shopping area for the dark and dodgy, full of all the naughty magic!! Borgin and Burkes can be found here, a shop that specialises in items with strong magical properties and was the work place of Tom Marvolo Riddle shortly after he left Hogwarts. All sorts of shady characters hang around here, including the Malfoys. It is just off Diagon Alley in London and best avoided if you don’t want trouble!
L, Luna Lovegood: Zany, a bit mad, and just an all-round excellent character. I love that she just didn’t care what other people thought of her! Raised by her dad, Xenophilius, the editor of the Quibbler, Luna echoes many of his theories though everyone thinks she is mad. Luna is a Ravenclaw and went on to become a famous wizarding naturalist.
M, Mandrake: There are so many Ms but who else thought the movie depiction of the mandrakes were just too cute! They remind me of my toddler, haha!! I loved them and their squeaky cry. Mandrakes are, in muggle life, hallucinogenic and narcotic and were used in times gone by as anaesthetic, and in magic practices. It was believed if the root was dug up, the mandrake would scream and anyone who heard would be killed. Despite it’s many uses, it could have a number of seriously detrimental effects, including delirium and madness.
N, Nagini: The beloved snake of Lord Voldemort and one of his horcruxes. Possibly the only living being that Voldemort ever cared about, Nagini is loyal only to him and is disinterested in most other people, sometimes annoyed even by the death eaters. She was killed by Neville Longbottom in ‘The Deathly Hallows’, using the sword of Godric Gryffindor. ‘Nagini’ is a half-woman, half-snake found in Indian mythology.
O, Ollivander: Garrick Ollivander is considered by many to be the best wand maker in the world. He comes from a family well versed in wand craft and was a Ravenclaw. His own wand was a Hornbeam, 12 3/4, dragon heartstring and he firmly believes the wand chooses the wizard. He can remember every wand he ever sold.
P, Pensieve: such a beautiful idea, that memories can be stored in a bottle and pulled out at whim for you to drop in and watch the scene replay. If only, sigh. Used by Dumbledore and Harry to revisit important events of the past.
Q, Quidditch: A broomstick based sport. Much information can be found in the book ‘Quidditch through the ages’ but basics include the use of a quaffle (to score), bludgers (which attack players) and the golden snitch. Beaters defend the team from the bludgers, the keeper defends the three large hoops of their team, and the chasers try to score goals with the quaffle in the hoops of the other team. Each goal is worth 10 points. The seeker’s role is to catch the golden snitch, which awards the team 150 points and ends the game.
R, Room of Requirement: another great love of mine. The room of requirement is on the seventh floor of Hogwarts and will only appear if someone has great need of it. It will adapt to whatever it is needed to be, for example, as a hideout, used by Neville and other students to avoid the wrath of the Carrows. I love to imagine what would appear for me!
S, Severus Snape: I’m not going to lie. Saying this name just makes me sing the Potter Puppet Pals Mysterious Ticking Sound song haha! (If you haven’t seen this, please, change your life now, you won’t look back!). Such a misunderstood character, driven by his secret love for Lily and wonderfully portrayed by the late Alan Rickman, a true favourite of mine. I never was quite sure where I was with Snape until the end, which I loved. He really kept me guessing!A brilliant potion maker and a Slytherin, Snape was enemies with Harry’s father and godfather, James and Sirius. Despite this, he never stopped loving Harry’s mother, Lily and spent his life looking out for Harry, though outwardly, he loathed Harry. He killed Dumbledore at the latter’s request, maintaining the illusion of a death eater and was eventually killed by Voldemort.
T, Time-Turner: Used by Hermione in ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’, this device allows time travel, although the user cannot stay in the past for more than 5 hours without serious damage to the traveller and time itself. Hermione, with the permission of the ministry, used the device to study more subjects than time would allow and also helped save both Sirius and Buckbeak, avoiding their capture and death. These would be excellent in real life!
U, Unbreakable Vow: A vow taken that if broken, results in death of the person that made and broke the vow. Snape makes an unbreakable vow with Narcissa Malfoy to protect Draco in ‘The Half-Blood Prince’.
V, Voldemort: I’ve never really been able to look at Ralph Fiennes the same way. He said he didn’t really want the part but was persuaded by his wife. He plays the part horrifying well and I have had many a nightmare from both the film and written versions! Born Tom Marvolo Riddle, he is half muggle, a Slytherin and also the heir of Slytherin. He is incapable of love, descended from the Gaunts, a family known for violent personalities due to inbreeding. Tom grew up in an orphanage, known as a bully, and was keen to stand out and be powerful from a young age. The only wizard Voldemort ever feared was Albus Dumbledore. He spent Harry’s life trying to defeat ‘The Boy who Lived’, but never succeeded. A truly horrific character!
W, Weasley: A wizarding family made up of all red heads. Ron is the best friend of Harry, and Harry eventually marries Ginny. They treat Harry as their own family and he regards them as family in the absence of his own.
X, Xenophilius: The only X I can think of! He is the father of Luna Lovegood and editor of the quibbler. His political opinions result in the kidnap of Luna and he proves to be rather cowardly.
Y, You-Know-Who: How 99% of the wizarding world refer to Voldemort.
Z, Zonko’s: A wizard joke shop in Hogsmeade, loved by Fred and George Weasley, who go on to open their own shop.
And there you have it, my small dedication to twenty years of my favourite books ever. I could have written so much more but I know have to go and read my special Ravenclaw edition (and purchase the other 3!!).
Happy 20th Birthday and a million thank yous to J. K. Rowling for giving us ‘The Boy who Lived!’