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Alastor September 4th, 2006 6:47 am

Frequently Asked Harry Potter Questions
Here are some HP questions which have frequently been asked in our forums. If you don't find what you need here, feel free to post your question in Little Questions Answered v20. Questions related to the films still belong in Muggle Studies, though.

The answers have been collected from the books, J.K.Rowling Official Site and Accio Quote.

Another useful source of information is The Harry Potter Lexicon. The lexicon is, however not a primary source and can therefore not be considered canon.

Special thanks go to anabel, kingwidgit and Nicole. Without their great efforts this list would never have come into being. Thank you girls! And many thanks to Moriath who restored the links and tags after the crash!

This thread is now divided into several posts for easier maintenance.
Post 2 is for Characters
Post 3 is for Hogwarts
Post 4 is for Magic and Animals
Post 5 is for Miscellaneous
Post 6 is for Unanswered Questions.

Some of the questions here are answered in DH, but I keep them here still as they once upon a time were questions our membership liked to ask.

If you have suggestions for this thread, kindly owl any staffmember.

Alastor April 23rd, 2007 12:50 pm

Re: Frequently Asked Harry Potter Questions

Petunia - the late bloomer? - a squib?:    

JKR's website, Section rumoursAunt Petunia will start exhibiting magical tendencies

No, she won't. Aunt Petunia has never performed magic, nor will she ever be able to do so.

J K Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival,
Sunday, August 15, 2004.
Is Aunt Petunia a Squib?

Good question. No, she is not, but—[Laughter]. No, she is not a Squib. She is a Muggle, but—[Laughter]. You will have to read the other books. You might have got the impression that there is a little bit more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye, and you will find out what it is. She is not a squib, although that is a very good guess. Oh, I am giving a lot away here. I am being shockingly indiscreet.


Aberforth = the Hogshead Barman?:    

J K Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival,
Sunday, August 15, 2004.
Why is the barman of the Hog’s Head vaguely familiar to Harry? Is he Dumbledore’s brother?

Ooh—you are getting good. Why do you think that it is Aberforth? [Audience member: Various clues. He smells of goats and he looks a bit like Dumbledore]. I was quite proud of that clue. That is all that I am going to say. [Laughter]. Well yes, obviously. I like the goat clue—I s******ed to myself about that one.


Not everyone accepts "Well yes, obviously" as an answer, but here JKR quite clearly seems to agree with Emerson that it's an established fact:
The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three, 16 July 2005ES: What on earth was Aberforth Dumbledore doing with those goats?

[Big laughs from all]

JKR: Your guess is as good as mine! [Evil laugh!]

MA: Excellent. And Dumbledore makes a little joke about him in this one, about knowing people in bars.

JKR: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, that's right. And you of course see Aberforth very briefly.


That the barman indeed was Aberforth Dumbledore is confimed in DH, chapter 28.

Mark Evans - what if any is the significance of him?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQ---------
Mark Evans is... nobody. He's nobody in the sense that Mr. Prentice, Madam Marsh and Gordon-Dudley's-gang-member are nobodies, just background people who need names, but who have no role other than the walk-on parts assigned to them.

Complete reply

Hermione - her age?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQWhen Hermione arrived at Hogwarts, was she nearly eleven or nearly twelve? [also asked by vast numbers of people]
She was nearly twelve; you must be at least eleven to attend Hogwarts.


Dumbledore - is he really dead?:    

An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp:Readings and questions #2JK Rowling: Well, Salman, your opinion, I would say is ... right. But I see that I need to be a little more explicit and say that Dumbledore is definitely ... dead (crowd gasps). And I do know - I do know that there is an entire website out there that says - that's name is so umm, I'd imagine they're not pretty happy right now (crowd laughs). But I think I need - you need - all of you need to move through the five stages of grief (crowd laughs), and I'm just helping you get past denial.


Regulus Black - is he really dead?:    

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004* Cathedral: Will we be hearing anything from Sirius Black's brother, Regulus, in future books?
JK Rowling replies -> Well, he's dead, so he's pretty quiet these days.


Lily and James - in which order should they have emerged from the wand?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQAt the end of 'Goblet of Fire', in which order should Harry's parents have come out of the wand?

Lily first, then James. That’s how it appears in my original manuscript but we were under enormous pressure to edit it very fast and my American editor thought that was the wrong way around, and he is so good at catching small errors I changed it without thinking, then realised it had been right in the first place. We were all very sleep-deprived at the time.


Neville - What's the significance of him being the other boy of the prophecy?:    

JKR's official site, FAQ sectionWhat is the significance of Neville being the other boy to whom the prophecy might have referred?
So where does this leave Neville, the boy who was so nearly King? Well, it does not give him either hidden powers or a mysterious destiny. He remains a 'normal' wizarding boy, albeit one with a past, in its way, as tragic as Harry's. As you saw in 'Order of the Phoenix,' however, Neville is not without his own latent strengths. It remains to be seen how he will feel if he ever finds out how close he came to being the Chosen One.

Some of you, who have been convinced that the prophecy marked Neville, in some mystical fashion, for a fate intertwined with Harry's, may find this answer rather dull. Yet I was making what I felt was a significant point about Harry and Voldemort, and about prophecies themselves, in showing Neville as the also-ran. If neither boy was 'pre-ordained' before Voldemort's attack to become his possible vanquisher, then the prophecy (like the one the witches make to Macbeth, if anyone has read the play of the same name) becomes the catalyst for a situation that would never have occurred if it had not been made. Harry is propelled into a terrifying position he might never have sought, while Neville remains the tantalising 'might-have-been'. Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.


Peeves - a ghost? or what?:    

JKR's website, section FAQPeeves chews gum, how can he when he is a ghost? (Nearly Headless Nick can't eat).

Peeves isn't a ghost; he was never a living person. He is an indestructible spirit of chaos, and solid enough to unscrew chandeliers, throw walking sticks and, yes, chew gum.


Alastor April 24th, 2007 5:59 am

Re: Frequently Asked Harry Potter Questions

Can prefects dock points?:    

  They can, but not from other prefects. The confusing part of OotP, chapter 28 has been changed in the paperback editions.
JKR's website, Section FAQCan prefects take points or not? A prefect took points from Gryffindor in the Chamber of Secrets, and then there was a reference to prefects not being allowed to dock points. What are the rules?

Ron got it wrong in 'Phoenix', from which we deduce that he hasn't been a very authoritarian prefect thus far; he clearly hasn't been taking points from anybody.


Heads of Houses and House Ghosts - were they in the same house as students?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQIf a teacher is head of a house, can we assume that they were sorted into those houses when they were students at Hogwarts? Is that also true for the house ghosts? So was Snape a Slytherin?

A Mugglenet/Harry Potter Lexicon Open Letter Question (I can't promise I'll answer them all, but I'll try and work through them). Yes, if the teacher is Head of House you can indeed assume that they were pupils within that house. So Snape was very definitely a Slytherin and yes, the same is true of the house ghosts.


Head Boy/Girl at Hogwarts - can you become one without being prefect first?:    

  Yes. James Potter was Head Boy while Remus Lupin was prefect.
PS/SS, chapter 4'Now, yer mum an' dad were as good a witch an' wizard as I never knew. Head Boy an' Girl at Hogwarts in their day!'

OotP, chapter 9Sirius, who was right beside Harry, let out his usual bark-like laugh.
'No one would have made me a prefect, I spent too much time in detention with James. Lupin was the good boy, he got the badge.'
Harry's mood suddenly lifted. His father had not been prefect either.

Do all magical people in Britain study at Hogwarts?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQDo all young people in Britain's Wizarding World go to Hogwarts? For example, did Stan Shunpike attend Hogwarts? Or is Hogwarts a school just for those who are particularly good at magic while others go into trades without formal schooling? [Mugglenet/Lexicon question]

Everyone who shows magical ability before their eleventh birthday will automatically gain a place at Hogwarts; there is no question of not being ‘magical enough’; you are either magical or you are not. There is no obligation to take up the place, however; a family might not want their child to attend Hogwarts.


How are muggle parents convinced to let their kids go to Hogwarts?:    

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004HPFreak7: How are muggle parents convinced to let their kids go to Hogwarts, a strange place they never heard of before; and wouldn't they think it was a practical joke?
JK Rowling replies -> In the case of Muggle parents, special messengers are sent to explain everything to them. But don't forget that they will have noticed that there's something strange about their child for the previous ten years, so it won't come as a complete bolt from the blue.


Where do wizarding children get their primary education?:    

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004kai: Where do wizarding children go to school before Hogwarts?
JK Rowling replies -> They can either go to a Muggle primary school or they are educated at home. The Weasleys were taught by Mrs. Weasley.


Can muggles see Hogwarts?:    

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004Persia: If a muggle looks at Hogwarts what will they see? love Persia
JK Rowling replies -> Nice name, Persia. They will see nothing but a ruined castle with large signs on it saying 'keep out, dangerous building.'


You can't apparate inside Hogwarts - why can Dobby do it?:    

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004Rorujin: How is Dobby able to apparate inside Hogwarts if no one else can?
JK Rowling replies -> He's a house-elf, they've got powers wizards haven't got (but wizards have also got powers that house-elves haven't).

JKR's website, Section FAQYou say that people cannot Apparate or Disapparate within Hogwarts and yet Dobby manages it, why is this?
House-elves are different from wizards; they have their own brand of magic, and the ability to appear and disappear within the castle is necessary to them if they are to go about their work unseen, as house-elves traditionally do.


Alastor April 24th, 2007 6:21 am

Re: Frequently Asked Harry Potter Questions

Thestrals - why didn't Harry see them before OotP?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQWhy could Harry see the Thestrals 'Order of the Phoenix'? Shouldn't he have been able to see them much earlier, because he saw his parents/Quirrell/Cedric die?

I’ve been asked this a lot. Harry didn’t see his parents die. He was in his cot at the time (he was just over a year old) and, as I say in ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, all he saw was a flash of green light. He didn’t see Quirrell’s death, either. Harry had passed out before Quirrell died and was only told about it by Dumbledore in the last chapter.

He did, however, witness the murder of Cedric, and it is this that makes him able to see the Thestrals at last. Why couldn’t he see the Thestrals on his trip back to the train station? Well, I didn’t want to start a new mystery, which would not be resolved for a long time, at the very end of the fourth book. I decided, therefore, that until Harry is over the first shock, and really feels what death means (ie, when he fully appreciates that Cedric is gone forever and that he can never come back, which takes time, whatever age you are) he would not be able to see the Thestrals. After two months away from school during which he has dwelled endlessly on his memories of the murder and had nightmares about it, the Thestrals have taken shape and form and he can see them quite clearly.


Crookshanks - an Animagus? Or what?:    

JKR's website, Section RumoursCrookshanks is an Animagus

No, he's not, but he's not pure cat either. If you buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (all royalties to Comic Relief, which means you're helping some of the poorest children around the world) you might just be able to work out what Crookshanks really is.

JKR's website, Section Extra Stuff-------
Crookshanks, as anybody who has read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will have guessed, is half Kneazle. And if you don't know what a Kneazle is, you need to hurry up and buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (all royalties go to help some of the poorest children in the world).

Complete reply

Fluffy - what happened to him?:    

Interview transcript (partial), Blue Peter (cBBC), 12 March, 2001Child: What happened to Fluffy and is Arabella Figg the same Mrs Figg in book one?

JKR: I love an ... I love attentive readers, erm, you tend to find at Hogwarts that, erm, anything that's dangerous ends up in the forest ... so that's where Fluffy was released, so he's roaming round in the forest ... erm, and, er, yes, Arabella Figg is Mrs Figg ... but you'll have to wait 'til book 5 to find out exactly where she fits into things ...


The Marauder's Map - How did Fred and George find out how to use it?:    

The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three, 16 July 2005MA: How did they figure out how to work the map?

JKR: Don't you — well. This is how I explained it to myself at the time, and this does sound glib. Don't you think it would be quite a Fred and Georgeish thing to say in jest, and then see this thing transform?

MA: Yeah.

JKR: Can't you just see them?

ES: But the exact word combination? Is that just a lot of luck, or Felix Felicis —

JKR: Or, the map helped.

MA: Yep, yeah. You can see them sort of answering and joking with each other —

JKR: And the map flickering into life here and there when they got closer and closer, and finally they hit upon the exact right word combination and it just erupts.


The Marauder's Map - Why didn't Fred and George notice Peter Pettigrew on it before?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQWhy didn't Fred and George notice Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder's Map before ("Prisoner of Azkaban")?

It would not have mattered if they had. Unless somebody was very familiar with the story of Sirius Black (and after all, Sirius was not Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's best friend – indeed, they never knew him until after he escaped from Azkaban), Fred and George would be unlikely to know or remember that Peter Pettigrew was the person Sirius had (supposedly) murdered. Even if Fred and George HAD heard the story at some point, why would they assume that the 'Peter Pettigrew' they occasionally saw moving around the map was, in fact, the man murdered years before?

Fred and George used the map for their own mischief-making, so they concentrated, naturally enough, on those portions of the map where they were planning their next misdeeds. And finally, you must not forget that hundreds of little dots are moving around this map at any given time… Fred and George did not know everyone in school by name, so a single unfamiliar name was unlikely to stand out.


The Marauder's Map - How did Harry get it back after GoF:    

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat, March 4, 2004HPFreak7: How did Harry get the Marauder's Map back, when Crouch Jr. had it last?
JK Rowling replies -> Loads of people have asked me this, I knew I should have shown Harry nipping into Moody's empty office and getting it back, but I assumed you'd all know that's what he did. Sorry!


Veritaserum - why can't it be used in court to get confessions?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQVeritaserum plays a big part in finding out the truth from Mad-Eye Moody in book four. Why then is it not used for example in the trials mentioned in the same book? It would be much easier in solving problems like whether Sirius Black was guilty or not?

Veritaserum works best upon the unsuspecting, the vulnerable and those insufficiently skilled (in one way or another) to protect themselves against it. Barty Crouch had been attacked before the potion was given to him and was still very groggy, otherwise he could have employed a range of measures against the Potion - he might have sealed his own throat and faked a declaration of innocence, transformed the Potion into something else before it touched his lips, or employed Occlumency against its effects. In other words, just like every other kind of magic within the books, Veritaserum is not infallible. As some wizards can prevent themselves being affected, and others cannot, it is an unfair and unreliable tool to use at a trial.

Sirius might have volunteered to take the potion had he been given the chance, but he was never offered it. Mr. Crouch senior, power mad and increasingly unjust in the way he was treating suspects, threw him into Azkaban on the (admittedly rather convincing) testimony of many eyewitnesses. The sad fact is that even if Sirius had told the truth under the influence of the Potion, Mr. Crouch could still have insisted that he was using trickery to render himself immune to it.


Alastor April 24th, 2007 7:32 am

Re: Frequently Asked Harry Potter Questions

Is Jo crafty - deliberately giving us misleading answers?:    

The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three, 16 July 2005JKR: I've never, to my knowledge, lied when posed a question about the books. To my knowledge. You can imagine, I've now been asked hundreds of questions; it's perfectly possible at some point I misspoke or I gave a misleading answer unintentionally, or I may have answered truthfully at the time and then changed my mind in a subsequent book. That makes me cagey about answering some questions in too much detail because I have to have some leeway to get there and do it my way, but never on a major plot point.


Godric's Hollow - street, house or?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQGodric’s Hollow: street, house, tree…? [Mugglenet/Lexicon question - also asked a lot in fan mail]

Godric’s Hollow is a village.


Why are the Weasleys poor? Can't they just conjure what they need?:    

World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling, 8 July 2000Q: It seems that the wizards and witches at Hogwarts are able to conjure up many things, such as food for the feasts, chairs and sleeping bags. . .if this is so, why does the wizarding world need money ? What are the limitations on the material objects you can conjure up ? It seems unnecessary that the Weasleys would be in such need of money. . . (Jan Campbell)
A: Very good question (well done, Jan!!). There is legislation about what you can conjure and what you can't. Something that you conjure out of thin air will not last. This is a rule I set down for myself early on. I love these logical questions!


Why can't criminals be tracked by sending them an owl and following it?:    

JKR's website, Section FAQIn 'Prisoner of Azkaban', why couldn't the Ministry of Magic have sent Sirius an owl, and then followed it, to find him?

Just as wizards can make buildings unplottable, they can also make themselves untraceable. Voldemort would have been found long ago if it had been as simple as sending him an owl!


How did Fred and George know the outcome of the World Cup?:    

The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three,16 July 2005ES: How on earth did Fred and George know that Ireland would win and Bulgaria would get the Snitch?

JKR: Well, I think that if you were really into Quidditch you could have predicted that. What they had -

ES: But how can you predict that, because you don't know when the Snitch is going to show up.

JKR: It was a risk. They risked everything on it. That is Fred and George, isn't it? They are the risk-takers in the family. You've got Percy at one end of the family — conform, do everything correctly — and you've got Fred and George, who just take a totally different life path and were prepared to risk everything. They risked all they had, which is as much as anyone can do.


Wotcher - what does it mean?:    

Concise Oxford ENGLISH Dictionary, tenth revised edition 2002Wotcha (also wotcher) Brit. informal used as a friendly or humorous greeting.
- ORIGIN C19: corruption of what cheer?

Alastor April 25th, 2007 4:28 am

Re: Frequently Asked Harry Potter Questions

Why was Peter Pettigrew in gryffindor?
Discussion can be found in Why was Peter Pettigrew in Gryffindor? v3

How did Hagrid fly to the Rock in the Sea?

Discussion can be found in How did Hagrid fly to the Rock in the Sea?

Wizards and warlocks - what's the difference?

JKR has never, to our knowledge, addressed this question. Sorry!

ETA: See the Tales of Beedle the Bard

How did voldemort get his wand back?

Discussion can be found in How did Voldemort get his wand back?

What happened to Sirius's bike?

JK Rowling's World Book Day Chat,
March 4, 2004
Rita: Whatever happend to Sirius' flying motorbike?
JK Rowling replies -> Ah, good question. You'll find out, but the real sleuths among you might be able to guess.

Discussion can be found in Where is Sirius's motorbike?

And, as we saw in DH, Hagrid still had it.

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