On cold winter nights when I find myself near a fire with a mug of cocoa and a blanket so soft it seems to defy both logic and contemporary textile technology, I believe that I fully and completely embody the term "superfan." You see, on those nights (as well as many other times and places), you'll find me reading one of the several hard copies of the Harry Potter series that I make sure to have on hand.
Perusing the beaten bodies of my Harry Potter books, weathered not only with time and use but also careless coffee stains, cookie crumbs, red wine, and more than a few tears... it's enough to remind me just how often I've read these beloved tomes.
Now, you can try to hide it all you like, but I know you love a good few hours spent with Mr. Potter and his roving band of magical crusaders, too. But what do you think: Do you have the makings of a true superfan?
I've spent some time on the blogs and the wikis (let's not talk too much about that, it starts to scare my partner...), I've combed through my creased copies, I've talked it over with friends, and after much Potter ado, I humbly submit 11 shocking, amazing, and incredible facts you may not have known about the Harry Potter books. Of course, if you are already up on all this, we should grab a cocoa some time — I bet we'd get along.
1. Both Fred and Sirius Died Laughing
Fred Weasley never failed to make me laugh, and I can only imagine that before the ravages of sorrow and Azkaban wizened and toughened him, the prankster Sirius was a great bet for a long night of laughter. It's touching and fitting to realize that both characters died with a smile on their faces, laughing in the face of evil.
2. Professor Trewlaney's Predictions Do Come True
No, this time I'm not referring to that fateful prophesy marking Harry Potter (or Neville, if you're reading closely) as the Dark Lord's nemesis. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Trewlaney vehemently declines (at least initially) an invitation to dine at the Christmas table because at a table set for 13, the first to rise is the first to die. Years later, when the 13 members of the Order of the Phoenix gather around the table, Sirius is the first to stand foreshadowing, or perhaps foreseeing, the tragedy to come.
3. 3s and 7s
Numerology plays an extraordinarily important role in the Potter series, and Rowling places particular emphasis on the numbers 3 and 7. There are 3 dear friends fighting the Dark Lord, 7 Horcruxes, 3 Deathly Hallows, and 3 unforgivable curses alongside 7 Weasley children, 7 obstacles leading to the Philosopher's Stone, 7 players on a Quidditch team, 7 secret passages leading out of the school, 7 identical Potters who flee to the burrow from Privet Drive, and 7 galleons paid by Potter for the wand that changed the world. Coincidence? I think not.
4. Red vs. Green
In the world of Potter, not only numbers but also colors take on unusual significance. While red is the color of the Gryffindors (well, red and gold to be entirely accurate), as well as the color of the Weasley family's distinctive hair, the Expelliarmus spell, the color of the ink Harry uses, and the Hogwarts Express, green is the Slytherin house color (OK — green and silver), green is also the color of the light at the bottom of the lake, Draco Malfoy's dress robes, the potion that Dumbledore drinks to secure what he then believed to be a true Horcrux, and the killing curse that changed young Harry's life forever.
5. Harry and Voldemort are Related by Blood
By the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows we've traced young Harry's ancestry back to the Peverell family, and let us not forget that Tom Marvolo Riddle also traces his family back to the Peverell's through his maternal grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt. What a difference a little love can make over the course generations.
6. There are No Dark Patronuses
While Professor Snape can cast a patronus (a doe, if you'll recall), none of the other death eaters nor Lord Voldemort himself are ever able to manifest a corporeal patronus. Perhaps they just never managed a truly happy moment.
7. You Can Share a Soul
As Ginny and poor Professor Quirrel both vividly demonstrate when they become possessed by the Dark Lord through the hateful power of the Horcrux, in the Potter universe it is possible for one body to share two souls. After all, Ginny's single body shared her own pure soul and Voldemort's miserable slice of a soul all at the same, as did Quirrel and Harry; which, if you think about it, brings all new meaning to the word soulmate.
8. "The Tale of the Three Brothers" Dates Back to Chaucer
If you've taken the time to peruse The Tales of Beedle the Bard as closely as Hermione and you happen to have a passing familiarity with the greatest English poet of the middle ages, it's not hard to see more quite the resemblance between "The Tale of the Three Brothers" which introduces the Deathly Hallows to the Potterverse and Chaucer's "The Pardoner’s Tale." Who knows, maybe Chaucer wasn't a muggle after all.
9. The Battle of Dumbledore and Grindelwald is Set During World War II
The famous duel in which Albus Dumbledore puts an end to the evil reign of terror propagated by Gellert Grindelwald took place in 1945, at the very culmination of World War II, marking the earlier years of the fighting of both the wizard war and the second world war as contemporaneous.
10. Christian Theology Plays its Part
When Harry and Hermione travel to Godric's Hollow to find the grave of Potter's parents, Harry is initially disturbed by the epitaph he finds: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Although the meaning of the phrase was later clarified for Potter, as a reader I have only just learned that the passage actually comes from the Christian bible, Corinthians 15:26.
11. Luck Played its Part
Although the Potter series has more than enough to say about destiny, love, and the power of positive choices, let us not forget that luck also played a role. After getting wind of Trewlaney's fateful prophecy, Voldemort had to choose between two baby boys born at the July, and with 50-50 odds he went after Harry, marking him as the chosen one through the power of chance alone. And, if it wasn't for a strong dose of Felix Felicis, Harry Potter knocked back in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, perhaps Harry never would have retrieved the Slughorn memory so instrumental in the fight against Horcruxes. Hey, even the chosen one needs a little help from lady luck now and again.
Images: Warner Bros Pictures