If you grew up anywhere near the 1990s, chances are good that you grew up reading the Harry Potter books. And then
re-reading the Harry Potter books. And then dialing up the internet to read this new thing called "fanfiction" based on the Harry Potter books. As kids, we all knew Hogwarts backwards and forwards. We could name everyone on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. We had no problem rattling off the Patronuses (Patroni?) of every major character. But even for the most mega of HP fans, there are a few details that were just a bit beyond our elementary school aged brains. Here are a few details from the Harry Potter books that totally went over your head as a kid.
I mean, I remember that the first time I read
The Order of the Phoenix, it made almost no sense to me. Why is Harry so angry? Why does everyone want to rub their mouths on each other? What is going on? But then when I re-read it a couple years later, firmly in my own period of teenage angst...I got it. A few extra years of experience can make a world of difference. So here are a few details that might have escaped your notice the first time around:
Lily Evans Was A Teen Mom
I mean, since everyone in the Wizarding World seems to marry their high school sweetheart, I guess it's not
so shocking that Lily and James were a very young couple. But if Lily was born in 1960 and died in the attack on Godric's Hollow in 1981, as it says on her gravestone, then she was only 21 years old when she died, which means she was 19 or maybe 20 when Harry was born. Just in case you weren't sad enough about her tragically short life already.
Trelawney Is Kind Of Right About Harry's Birthday
Professor Trelawney is constantly making incorrect predictions...which then turn out to be
kind of right. She tells Harry that he was born in mid-winter, which is obviously false since we all know his birthday is July 31st. But, Harry's soul also has a little shard of Voldemort lodged in it, with him being a horcrux and all. And Voldy was born in mid-winter, so Trelawney is only mostly wrong.
"That Awful Boy" Isn't James
Aunt Petunia isn't exactly a fan of witches and wizards, but in book five she correctly remembers the role of dementors in the wizarding world. Her explanation is: "I heard – that awful boy – telling her about them – years ago." On a first read, you might think she's talking about smarmy James Potter.
But, looking back at it, when she says "that awful boy" she must mean a young Severus Snape. Little Snape told Lily all about wizard nonsense when they were kids, so it makes sense that Petunia might have overheard (also, Snape is an awful boy).
The Diadem Shows Up Before Book Seven
You've probably already caught the moment when the gang finds and discards the
locket horcrux in book five, but did you catch the sneak peek at the diadem in book six? When Harry goes to hid his potions book, he sticks in in the Room of Requirement near an old tiara that just so happens to house a chunk of Voldy's soul.
Fleur Is Super Into Bill From The Start
As a kid, I remember feeling like Fleur and Bill's relationship came straight out of left field. But in the fourth book, Fleur
totally knows exactly what she's doing, as Harry observes: "Fleur Delacour, Harry noticed, was eyeing Bill with great interest over her mother’s shoulder." The girl gets what she wants.
Hermione's Parents Never Saw Hogwarts
The poor parents in these books, man. They send their kids to a school that is somehow simultaneously the "safest place" in the world, and
also full of giant serpents and dragons and has no mandatory math class. As a kid, you barely think about the Granger parents but looking back at it... why on Earth would they send their only child to a invisible school for magic that they're never allowed to visit?
The Dementors Are An Allegory For Depression
The dementors definitely freaked us out as kids—but we didn't necessarily make the connection between evil wizard prison guards and clinical depression. Looking back now, though, the comparison seems obvious, and
Rowling herself has said that the dementors are informed by her own struggles with depression. It also drives home the point that Harry isn't weak for being more affected by the dementors than the other students, he just has more trauma in his past.
Ginny Definitely Walked In On Percy And Penelope
says that she just walked in on Percy Weasley and Penelope Clearwater "kissing," but given how freaked out little Ginny is and how flustered Percy acts... I think we can safely assume that Ginny walked in on Percy and Penelope doing a lot more than kissing. It might have just flown over our heads the first time around.
Cormac Mclaggin Is Way Too Handsy
So...can we all agree that Cormac Mclaggin forcibly groped Hermione and we were just too young to understand the implications of that and it's
super not OK? Seriously, read the quote: "'What's happened to you?' asked Harry, for Hermione looked distinctly disheveled, rather as though she had just fought her way out of a thicket of Devil's Snare. 'Oh, I've just escaped — I mean, I've just left Cormac,' she said. 'Under the mistletoe,' she added in explanation, as Harry continued to look questioningly at her." No one should look that disheveled from mistletoe.
The Real Reason Dumbledore Gave Neville All Those House Points
At the end of book one, Dumbledore famously ruins the Slytherins' night by giving the Gryffindors a whole mess of extra points. Harry and the gang get points for saving the day, of course, but it's Neville's points that put them over the top. Neville tried to stop them from charging out into danger and, as Dumbledore puts it: "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." Once you get to the end of the series, though, you realize just how much that act meant to Dumbledore, because
he wishes he had had the bravery to stand up to Grindelwald, back when they were friends. Oof that hurts.