The Harry Potter series is absolutely riddled with secrets and unanswered questions. How are Muggle-borns found? How do Muggle-borns even come about? Who gets accepted into Hogwarts, and why? What did Dumbledore see when standing with Harry before the Mirror of Erised?
Speaking of Harry, where did his enormous fortune come from? The good news is, as a bona fide Harry Potter aficionado, I have the answers to things you never even asked and I’m here to bring them right to your screen!
Here are 10 secrets of the Harry Potter universe guaranteed to satisfy.
Hogwarts Castle has a lot of closely guarded secrets and tricks to it—from moving staircases to false doors and to hundreds, possibly thousands, of enchanted portraits. However, the best-guarded secret (and the secret which answers a big question about the Harry Potter world) is the Book of Admittance. When a witch or wizard is born, even to Muggles, the book knows.
When these children display sufficient magical talent (sometimes at birth, sometimes not until age seven, sometimes even later), the Quill of Acceptance is allowed to inscribe their names into the book, allowing them entrance into Hogwarts if they so choose.
At one time or another, we’ve all asked the same question about the Harry Potter universe: How do Muggle-borns get their magic? Apparently, the answer was right under our noses the whole time: They’re descended in all cases from Squibs.
When a Squib (a witch or wizard with no ability to do magic) is born, they’re sent out to live among Muggles when it’s discovered that they have no magic in them. They marry Muggles and pass on their genes. A few generations down the line, the magic gene resurfaces and results in a magical child born to Muggle parents.
Many in the magical community assume that Muggle-borns are somehow a fluke. However, the magic gene is simply somewhat sneaky, hiding for generations before popping up unexpectedly to give some Muggle family a magic baby. Some notable Muggle-borns include Moaning Myrtle, Lily Evans (Harry’s mother), and Hermione Granger.
If you recall from the book, Harry was not the only one who was often drawn to the Mirror of Erised (which, incidentally, is “desire” written backward). Albus Dumbledore spent many nights gazing into the mirror and not always on Philosopher’s Stone business. Yet, when Harry asked Dumbledore what he saw in the mirror, Dumbledore lied, claiming that he saw himself holding a pair of thick wool socks.
So, what did he actually see? According to J.K. Rowling, he simply saw his family, all alive and well. A sad but understandable desire, given the untimely demise of his parents and sister.
Harry is unbelievably rich. His Gringotts vault is piled with gold and silver—mountains of gold as tall as an 11-year-old. So where did it come from? What is his family legacy?
As it turns out, Harry is so rich because his family created a handful of well-known medicinal and cosmetic potions, namely the Pepperup Potion, Skele-gro, and Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion, which is what really put the family on the map. In fact, Fleamont Potter, the inventor and first distributor of Sleekeazy’s, is said to have quadrupled the family fortune with the sale of the Sleekeazy’s formula and company.
You may remember their uses from the book: Skele-gro regrows your bones, Pepperup Potion knocks out a cold or flu, and Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion tames even Hermione’s bushy hair into a soft, silky curtain of sheen.
So, what do wizarding children do before Hogwarts? Do they just sit around waiting to go there to learn magic? Are they allowed to run around like feral dogs and just do whatever they want?
Nope! In fact, it seems that most of their childhood is taken up with learning the basics from their parents and siblings.
According to J.K. Rowling, Wizardkind have a fairly solid grasp of the three basic subjects. Parents homeschool their children until they go off to Hogwarts. The parents must do a good job as none of the students are shown to struggle with the three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic).
Remus Lupin, our favorite werewolf, was famously unready to be a father and with good reason. Werewolves like him almost never produced children, and there was no information available as to whether the child would be affected or not. After all, Bill Weasley was only clawed and gnawed by an unchanged werewolf and it caused drastic changes in him.
So, what of Teddy Lupin, Remus’s son?
Thankfully, J.K. Rowling says that he’s not afflicted by the same illness that plagued his father. In fact, our Teddy is a Metamorphmagus, just like his mother, Nymphadora.
Where were you when you first heard about Professor Minerva McGonagall’s secret late husband, Elphinstone, and her Muggle father? Was it here in this list? You’re not alone!
In fact, most people don’t know about these well-hidden secrets, tucked away in the pages of Pottermore, along with the fact that Minerva has two brothers and that her father was a reverend.
In fact, Minerva fell in love twice, once to a Muggle named Dougal and once to a wizard named Elphinstone. Both of them died early.
A past filled with heartbreak, secrets, friendship, and a ministry job isn’t what we expect to find in Minerva’s past, but it’s absolutely the deep character development we all deserve.
We’re aware by now that Sybill Trelawney is a genuine psychic (even though she doesn’t realize this herself). She made the Chosen One prophesy, which led to the death of Harry’s parents and the eventual downfall of Voldemort. Sybill is known to be a descendant of the legendary seer Cassandra. However, most of Sybill’s predictions are nothing but flimflam, with the odd true one peppered in.
Something we tend to overlook because of her trickery and shenanigans is that Sybill made a number of other right predictions throughout the series, most notably the Prophesy of 13. When asked to join the students and faculty at a table at Christmas, she declined by stating, “When thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!”
This was proven true later as Dumbledore, unaware that Peter Pettigrew was at the table making a total of 13 guests, rose first from the table and went on to become the first of those seated to die.
The names of plants in the Harry Potter series are ridiculous and magical. Names that stick in the brain, like Venemous Tentacula (aka Venomous Tentacula) and Gillyweed, are part of the charm of the universe. Mugwort, knotgrass, and monkshood are all plants featured in the series, and all are made up. Or are they?
J.K. Rowling says that she found these in a lovely old book titled The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper. The book, now available on the Internet in .pdf form, contains pictures and names for 100 or so different plants. That includes other magical-sounding plants such as liverwort, gilliflower, and snakeweed. While not in the Harry Potter books, they would be fantastic features in fan fiction.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind since we read the prologue is: Why, Harry, why would you name your child this? Why name him after a man who lied to you and a man who bullied you? Why not name him after Hagrid, who cared for you, or Remus or Sirius or Moody or even Fred? After someone who left you with pleasant memories?
J.K. Rowling’s absolutely heartbreaking answer on the subject: guilt. The deaths at the Battle of Hogwarts weighed upon Harry, and he never truly shook off the ghosts of that dark day. Haunted by the deaths, Harry hoped that he would be forgiven (in his own heart or by others) for what had happened by naming his son in honor of Snape.
That’s sad. You were never at fault, Harry. There is nothing to forgive.
Deana J. Samuels is a freelance writer who lives with her girlfriend and does not currently own a cat. She is definitely a human being and not an AI programmed by Bethesda Industries. She drinks a lot of jasmine tea.