Even in the Muggle world, you're unlikely to get through a full day without hearing a Harry Potter reference of some kind. Like the fact I just called us all Muggles, for example. Or when people describe grand old buildings as looking like Hogwarts, whether or not they actually do. But you can spot a true Harry Potter fan when they make reference to such oddly specific moments in Harry Potter that you just know they must have read the books 367 times each.
Any old no-maj can decipher a reference about "pulling a Neville Longbottom" when you mean that someone suddenly got unexpectedly hot. It doesn't take an Arithmancer to figure out the references sprinkled throughout countless TV shows to fictional wizards called "Parry Bladder" who go to schools with names like "Pigblisters." No points to Gryffindor for spotting any of those.
No, I'm talking about those strangely specific references to minor incidents and characters that only the most devoted Potterhead will be able to piece together. If you can manage to slip any of these super-specific Harry Potter references into a conversation, then you deserve an Outstanding in your N.E.W.T. exam for Potter fandom — and if you notice anybody else mentioning them, then you know you've found a friend for life.
1The Importance Of When 'Sorcerer's Stone' Was Published
The phrase "I open at the close" is very significant to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The words are engraved on the Golden Snitch that Harry inherits from Dumbledore in his will, and the meaning is revealed right as Harry steps forward to be killed by Voldemort. It turns out that "the close" means death, and therefore Harry is able to open the Snitch only in his final moments.
But true Harry Potter fans will notice another meaning when they look at the year that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published in the United States: 1998. Sound familiar? That's the same year as the Battle of Hogwarts, and the same year that Harry's adventures came to an end. In other words, you can say that the whole book series "opened at the close," and Harry Potter fans will know exactly what you mean. (But true Harry Potter fans would also argue that the book was published in 1997 — when Philosopher's Stone came out in England.)
2Who Gideon Crumb Is
If you're brainstorming Harry Potter characters for a costume party, or a game of 20 Questions, you can't settle for Hermione Granger or even Piers Polkiss — do you want to be accused of being a fake fan?! But Philip Reeve, the author of the beloved Mortal Engines series, has shown himself to be a true Potterhead, by naming one of his book characters after a truly niche Harry Potter character: Gideon Crumb, who plays the bagpipes in the magical band The Weird Sisters. Any time you bring up this name in casual conversation, you've proven yourself worthy of the title of Harry Potter fan.
3Why Professor McGonagall Is So Competitive In Quidditch
As Head of House, it makes sense that Professor McGonagall feels a strong sense of house pride when watching Gryffindor on the Quidditch pitch. However, she's also a fair and sensible teacher who's not afraid to deduct points from her own house when she thinks her students deserve punishment — so why is she so keen to see Slytherin crushed on the Quidditch pitch that she's prepared to break the rules and get Harry a forbidden broom in his first year? J.K. Rowling answered this question in exclusive new material produced for Pottermore, and die-hard fans will now be able to exchange knowing looks every time anybody brings it up. According to Pottermore, Minerva McGonagall was a "gifted Quidditch player" until a "nasty fall in her final year (a foul during the Gryffindor versus Slytherin game which would decide the Cup winner) left her with concussion, several broken ribs and a lifelong desire to see Slytherin crushed on the Quidditch pitch."
4The Meaning Behind Neville's Love For Herbology
Neville's favorite subject at Hogwarts is Herbology. Neville does seem to have a natural talent for the subject right from his first year, but it's possible that his love for Herbology also stemmed from his desire to spend more time with the Herbology teacher Professor Sprout, who happens to be Head of Hufflepuff. As J.K. Rowling revealed in her digital notes on the Pottermore edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Neville really wanted to be in Hufflepuff, and even begged the hat to place him there. That's why it took the hat such a long time to announce Neville's house; all that time was spent convincing Neville that he should be a Gryffindor after all.
5The Fact That History Repeats Itself In 'How To Get Away With Murder'
*BIG spoilers for How to Get Away with Murder ahead*
If you've spent time brushing up on all the backstories that J.K. Rowling has released to the Internet since the final Harry Potter book was published, you'll know that Dean Thomas wasn't Muggle-born after all. In fact, his father was a wizard who was murdered by Death Eaters while Dean was still an infant, all because he refused to join their ranks.
Years later, little Dean Thomas grew up to become... Wes from How to Get Away with Murder. (OK, not literally. But they're both played by the talented Alfred Enoch.) And here's where history repeats itself — *massive spoiler alert* — Wes is murdered, leaving behind an unborn child. Sound familiar? Only true Harry Potter nerds will see the pattern here.
6"A magic beyond all we do here!"
Here's the scenario: you've just turned up the volume on Lorde's latest album and you're about to start crying at the beauty of 'Liability,' when you hear one of your friends exclaim that this is "A magic beyond all we do here!"
Cue baffled looks from all the Muggles in the room — but you know what they mean. This is, of course, a direct quote from Dumbledore about the magic of music, and only the biggest Harry Potter fans will get the reference.
And finally, if you really want to filter out only the most die-hard Harry Potter fans of all, bring up "Squidgate," and watch most people's faces go totally blank.
"Squidgate," as true Potterheads will know, happened after J.K. Rowling joked in a blog post that the Giant Squid was the animagus of Godric Gryffindor — and loads of people believed her. It all started when Rowling wrote a sarcastic post on her website all the way back in 2007, discouraging people from posting spoilers. She wrote:
I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are they going.…There will always be sad individuals who get their kicks from ruining other people’s fun, but while sites like Leaky take such an active stance against them, we may yet win. Even if the biggest secret gets out – even if somebody discovers the Giant Squid is actually the world’s largest Animagus, which rises from the lake at the eleventh hour, transforms into Godric Gryffindor and… well, I wouldn’t like to spoil it."
J.K. later had to clarify that she was, in fact, J.K.-ing, but Squidgate lives on in the heart of the Potter-loving public.