1. The first time Snape speaks to Harry, he asks, “Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
According to the Victorian language of flowers, asphodel is a type of lily meaning “my regrets follow you to the grave” and wormwood means “absence” and symbolizes bitter sorrow. So we could interpret the meaning of Snape’s question as “I bitterly regret Lily’s death.”
4. Many believe Hedwig’s namesake Saint Hedwig is the patron saint of orphaned children.
But she is actually the patron saint of dead children (St Jerome Emiliani is the patron saint of orphans). Looked at this way, perhaps Rowling named Harry’s owl Hedwig to signify she was there to protect him from death… or perhaps she was a clue to Harry’s eventual fate in The Deathly Hallows from the very beginning.
5. Sirius is not just your favourite; he was also the favourite of the Greek gods.
According to Greek mythology: “Because Orion had cared so much for his hunting dog, Artemis also put up a star for his dog: This is Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens.”
Sirius is of course an Animagus, who transforms into a dog.
Whereas Albus has Latin origins: It means “white”, perhaps for his beard.
In the second century, the governor of Britain was a chap named Clodius Albinus, who attempted to seize the throne but ended up in alliance with another imperial contender, Septimius Severus. Clever eh?
6. Most people have noticed by now that Diagon Alley is a play on the word “diagonally”.
But did you also notice that “Knockturn Alley” – filled with shops devoted to the dark arts and populated by nefarious types – is a play on “Nocturnally”, as in night/dark. Then there’s Grimmauld Place, which is a Grim Old Place for sure.
8. Ron’s Patronus is a Jack Russell terrier.
Jack Russell terriers were bred as hunting dogs to chase vermin, such as rats, badgers, foxes, and otters. The name “terrier” means “earth dog”, as these dogs would chase badgers and foxes into their burrows, and otters across water.
And who happens to have an otter Patronus?
Yep, Hermione does.
9. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor Trelawney refuses to sit at a table with Dumbledore, as 12 people already sit.
“I dare not, Headmaster! If I join the table, we shall be 13! Nothing could be more unlucky! Never forget that when 13 dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!”
After the Battle of the Seven Potters in The Deathly Hallows, only 13 made it to the Burrow.
Lupin was the first to rise to offer to look for Alastor Moody’s body. Later, he is the first of the group to die in the Battle of Hogwarts. *sobs harder*
11. And while we’re on the topic of seven, each Horcrux was destroyed by a different wizard or witch.
1. Harry destroyed the Riddle’s diary with the basilisk fang.
2. Dumbledore destroyed Marvolo Gaunt’s ring with the sword of Gryffindor.
3. Ron destroyed Slytherin’s locket with the sword of Gryffindor.
4. Hermione destroys Hufflepuff’s cup with the basilisk fang.
5. Crabbe destroys the Ravenclaw’s diadem with fiendfyre.*
6. Voldemort destroys the Horcrux inside of Harry using the killing curse.
7. Neville cuts off Nagini’s head with the sword of Gryffindor.
(*In the film, Deathly Hallows Part 2, Harry stabs the diadem with the basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the fiendfyre created by Goyle, rather than Crabbe.)
12. When Harry and Dudley are attacked by Dementors at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix, Harry struggles to explain what Dementors are to Uncle Vernon.
But Aunt Petunia knows…
“They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,” said Aunt Petunia.
Two seconds of ringing silence followed these words before Aunt Petunia clapped her hand over her mouth as though she had let slip a disgusting swear word. Uncle Vernon was goggling at her. Harry’s brain reeled. Mrs. Figg was one thing - but Aunt Petunia?
“How d’you know that?” he asked her, astonished.
Aunt Petunia looked quite appalled with herself. She glanced at Uncle Vernon in fearful apology, then lowered her hand slightly to reveal her horsy teeth.
“I heard — that awful boy — telling her about them — years ago,” she said jerkily.
“Tell me about the Dementors again”
“What d’you want to know about them for?”
“If I use magic outside of school -”
“They wouldn’t give you the Dementors for that! Dementors are for people who do really bad stuff. They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban, you’re too—”
He turned red again and shredded more leaves. Then a small rustling noise behind the bushes made him turn: Petunia, hiding behind a tree, had lost her footing.
“Tuney!” said Lily, surprise and welcome in her voice, but Snape had jumped to his feet…
13. In Half-Blood Prince when Harry sees Dumbledore’s memories, he sees Voldemort ask for a job at Hogwarts.
Dumbledore refuses, saying he knows all about the Death Eaters. Voldemort is furious, telling Dumbledore he is as “omniscient as ever.”
To which Dumbledore replies: “No, no. Merely friendly with the local barmen.”
14. Back to Trelawney and her seemingly terrible divination. In Prisoner of Azkaban, she says to Harry…
“I think I am right in saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?”
Harry tells her he was born in July, making her intuition seem way off base.
But guess who was born in Midwinter? Voldemort. Dec. 31, to be exact. In Deathly Hallows we discover Harry is a Horcrux, containing part of Voldemort’s soul – perhaps it was this that Trelawney was sensing, four years before Harry and the rest of us found out.
18. The “Dark Mark” given by Voldemort to his Death Eaters is a skull with a snake tongue.
This signifies Parselmouths, those with the ability to speak to snakes. Voldemort chose the mark as he saw himself as the heir of Slytherin. But there is another source of inspiration.
19. In Goblet of Fire, Harry and Ron make up predictions for their Divination homework, inadvertently predicting exactly what will happen to Harry in the Triwizard Tournament.
First he will be “in danger of burns”, next he will “lose a treasured possession”, then he will get “stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend” (Professor Moody) and finally he will “come off worse in a fight”.
Harry’s first task was to face a dragon and risk being burned alive, then he lost a treasured possession when Ron and Hermione were taken and put in the lake.
Next, Professor Moody, who he thought was a friend, betrayed him. And he came off worse in a fight during the duel with Voldemort at the graveyard, when Cedric was killed.
21. Finally there’s Natalie McDonald, the only real person to be included in the Harry Potter books.
This line appears on page 159 of the British version of Goblet of Fire. Natalie was a 9-year old Canadian girl dying of leukemia, who didn’t expect to live to read the fourth Harry Potter book. J.K. Rowling emailed Natalie and told her the story, a year before it would be published. As a tribute, she included Natalie as a character in the book, so her memory would live on.
Harry’s wand, as correctly pointed out by a powerful witch or wizard in the comments, was made from Holly. The Muggle who wrote this post accidentally said that Harry’s wand was also made from Yew.