Pottermore, CoS Chapter 11 (what I’ve found so far…)

DISCLAIMER: This is not exactly a live blog and it’s definitely not a Finder’s Guide. It’s what I’ve found so far. There’s also probably some stuff I’m missing. :)

Here’s what I’ve found so far (DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!)…


Scene 1 (“The Diversion”) – BREW A POTION!

    • Ingredients Required: Dried Nettles, Pufferfish Eyes, Bat Spleens
    • Time: 60 minutes, using a pewter cauldron
    • It says that once we are successful with the Potion, we should go back to Professor Snape’s office. I’ll let you know what I find in Professor Snape’s office once I’m successful. :)  (My potion is 19% finished brewing right now… and who knows what the second stage of the spell brings… though I suspect it will involve Bat Spleens!)

Scene 2 (“Harry and Draco’s Duel”) – A GAME!
The key to zoom levels can be found at the bottom of the post.

  • Zoom 1: FIND the duel in which somebody is using Expelliarmus (and be able to identify what Expelliarmus does)
  • Zoom 2: FIND the duel in which somebody is using Tarantellegra (and be able to identify what Tarantellegra does)
  • Zoom 3: FIND the duel in which somebody is using the Tickling Charm (and be able to provide the Latin name of the spell)
  • PRIZE: Alberta Toothill Chocolate Frog Card.

Key to Zoom Levels:
I am using the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.

A Finder’s Guide to Chapters 1-4 in Pottermore’s Chamber of Secrets (spoilers!)

Thanks to Slytherin’s victory in the House Cup, I had the opportunity yesterday to explore the first four chapters of Chamber of Secrets on Pottermore. Today, everybody else has the same opportunity.

I compiled the list below based on my own exploration. If there’s anything that you find that is not on this list, or if there is anything else noteworthy that I have failed to mention, please let me know in the Comments below so that I can make the list complete. Thank you!

I will use the conventions I’ve seen used elsewhere when discussing Pottermore zoom levels:

  • Zoom 1 = the original zoom level.
  • Zoom 2 = zoom in one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom 3 = zoom in two levels from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 2 = zoom out one level from Zoom 1.
  • Zoom OUT 3 = zoom out two levels from Zoom 1.


Chapter 1, Scene 1 (“The Magic Word”)

  • Collect flower heads from the flower bed next to the door (Zoom 1). This goes into your Potions ingredients.
  • Get through the door at Number 4 Privet Drive by just zooming in one level to Zoom 2. The cupboard under the stairs will be locked until you find all the items in Chapter 4, Scene 4. But do return. There will be some items to collect from the cupboard later on.
  • Collect Jar of Honey from the kitchen counter (Zoom 3). This goes into your Potions ingredients.
  • Collect Cornelius Agrippa Chocolate Frog Card from the shelf in the cupboard under the stairs (Zoom 2 – AFTER you have found the hair pin in Chapter 4, Scene 4. The hair pin unlocks the door, but it will already be open when you come back here after finding the hair pin).
  • Collect Bertie Bott’s Sprout-flavoured Bean from the shelf in the cupboard under the stairs (Zoom 2 – AFTER you have found the hair pin in Chapter 4, Scene 4).
  • When you click on the forward arrow to get to the next scene, the house zooms back out to the Dursleys’ front doorstep. It’s a very nice effect.

Chapter 1, Scene 2 (“Two Enormous Green Eyes”)

  • There’s really not much happening at Zoom 1. You can listen to the bird and neighborhood noises and watch Harry sit on the bench. But not a lot more.
  • You can open the door to the shed at Zoom 2. You can get the lawnmower to start, the bicycle bell to sound… and you can even collect a pair of pruning sheers. These will go into your trunk, but I’m not really sure why you’ll want them when you go to Hogwarts. Perhaps they will be useful for Sprout’s Herbology class?
  • Collect Dried nettles from the wheelbarrow (Zoom 3). This goes into your Potions ingredients.
  • Collect Rose thorns on the left side of the flower bed (Zoom 3). This goes into your Potions ingredients.

Notice that at the end of Chapter 1, we have already found 4 ingredients that can be used in Potions. I’m already wondering what new Potions we’ll learn in CoS and where we might be able to use these ingredients!

Chapter 2, Scene 1 (“Dobby the House-Elf”)

  • There doesn’t seem to be much in this scene. However, you can find the Newt Scamander Chocolate Frog Card on Harry’s bed (Zoom 2).
  • You can also wiggle Dobby’s ear (Zoom 2) – which will probably get the kids to giggle.
  • I do not believe there is a Zoom 3 level in this scene.

Chapter 2, Scene 2 (“Aunt Petunia’s Pudding”)

  • It’s a Mini-Game! You have to keep the pudding afloat for 14 seconds by clicking it continuously. The first time you succeed, you will be awarded a Bertie Bott’s Sugared Violet-Flavoured Bean and 1 House point. (Of course, you also get 1 House point for all items you collect).
  • You might not want to look much while you’re clicking the pudding, but you CAN see Dobby on top of the kitchen cabinet to the right, getting ready to make that pudding go SPLAT! Kids will probably enjoy this game… and get an extra treat from seeing Dobby.

Chapter 3, Scene 1 (“Harry’s Escape”)

  • Now it gets fun! You can unlock new JKR content on the Wizarding World’s relationship to Technology by clicking anywhere in the vicinity of Harry or the Flying Ford Anglia. This is a must-read!
  • But the fun doesn’t stop there. You’ll find quickly that you cannot zoom IN. But you can zoom OUT! This is the first time Pottermore has used a zoom OUT feature. And in this scene, there’s a lot that you can find when you zoom out.
  • Collect the Bertie Bott Chocolate Frog Card on the floor by the overturned chair/light (Zoom OUT 2).
  • Collect 4 separate Bertie Bott’s Beans (all on Zoom OUT 2): one is to the left of where the Chocolate Frog Card is found, one is on the bed, one is on the bookshelf above the bed, and one is to the left of Harry’s left foot on the chest. (A special thanks to Kristen in the Comments for pointing out the bean by Harry’s foot.)
  • See Uncle Vernon and make him RAWR at Zoom OUT 3!!!

Chapter 3, Scene 2 (“The Weasleys'”)

  • Again, there’s not really a lot to see in this scene. However, take a look at the Anglia’s license plate. Yes. They really DID! ;)
  • You also get a good view of the Burrow at Zoom 3… and you can collect some Horklump juice from the Burrow’s Garden (Zoom 3). That will prove handy for Potions!

Chapter 3, Scene 3 (“De-gnoming the Garden”)

  • We’ve all read about how to de-gnome a garden. Well, Pottermore has turned it in to another Mini-Game! In this game, you have to toss 4 gnomes out of the garden in the time allotted. It’s a bit tricky because if you don’t let go of your gnome at the right moment, it can smack the hedge, land in the water, or hit a wall! You get a bonus if you send the gnome beyond the tree trunk. I’ve gotten past the tree trunk a few times. My best throw is 12-point-something. My best number of gnomes thrown is 7. :)
  • The first time you have successfully tossed 4 gnomes out of the Garden, you will be rewarded by receiving a copy of Gilderoy Lockhart’s Guide to Household Pests and 1 House point. After the first time, you are just playing for the fun of it.

Chapter 4, Scene 1 (“Letters from School”)

  • And yet another Mini-Game! In this one, you need to click on the envelopes in the correct order so that you will move the coffee cup far enough to reveal your school shopping list (which sits underneath the cup). Pottermore gives hints on the correct order for the envelopes, but I just drew a map and experimented. Your reward for successfully completing this game is that you will find your shopping list… and get a new deposit of Galleons in your Gringotts account!
  • In this scene, you can also read a letter from Hermione. It’s on the table to the left of the coffee cup, near the bacon.

Chapter 4, Scene 2 (“Floo Powder”)

  • There’s only Zoom 1 in this scene, but there’s plenty of stuff to find.
  • The Floo Powder is in the pot at the left side of the mantelpiece. Drag some Floo Powder into the fireplace! You collect the Floo powder for your trunk (pretty useful for sneaking in to the Floo network at Hogwarts, I think), but even better, you have a gorgeous green light filling the room. It’s really neat to collect items by the green light… and there are plenty of items to collect in this scene!
  • Collect a Scullery Key and Fire Tongs for your trunk.
  • Collect several books from the mantelpiece: Enchantment in Baking, One Minute Feasts – It’s Magic, and Charm Your Cheese.
  • Collect the Chocolate Frog Card for Ignatia Wildsmith (inventor of Floo Powder) by looking in the clothes hamper.
  • I wish that we would go through the fireplace to get to Borgin and Burkes just like Harry does, but we don’t. We just click the forward arrow key. :(
  • UNLOCK “Floo Powder” (JKR-Exclusive content) (“It’s two Sickles a scoop, people”)

Chapter 4, Scene 3 (“Borgin and Burkes”)

  • Well, here’s a spooky store! What about those torture devices hanging from the ceiling? {{{shudder}}}
  • At least we can “borrow” 5 Galleons from the cash drawer under bell on the B&B counter (Zoom 1).
  • Collect a mask from the wall of masks (Zoom 2). This goes into your trunk and will presumably be useful if you need to mask yourself for a “darker” sort of adventure.
  • Collect some Dragon Liver above the hand in the display (Zoom 3). This will go into your Potions ingredients.
  • Read the new JKR content about Draco Malfoy! This content was not available last night when I wrote this post, but it’s available now. Just look for the feather next to the content. I don’t think you actually have to do anything special in order to unlock it. (A special thanks to Ani in the comments for letting me know about the new Draco content!)

Chapter 4, Scene 4 (“Lucius Malfoy”)

  • There’s some awesome stuff in this scene! First, you probably want to unlock the new JKR content on the Malfoy family! Just click on Lucius (Zoom 2). I’ll talk more about this information in a later post, but there’s some astonishing historical information about the Malfoys here.
  • Collect Peppermint from the shopper’s shopping basket (Zoom 1). This will go into your Potions ingredients.
  • Collect a Hair pin from the braid of the woman next to the woman with the shopping basket (I believe this is also at Zoom 1). This Hair pin unlocks the cupboard under the stairs in Chapter 1, Scene 1. When you finish this scene, you can go back there and collect the items that were previously locked up.
  • Collect Encyclopedia of Toadstools, which is next to Lucius (Zoom 2).
  • Collect Magical Me from the display window (Zoom 2).
  • Collect the Miranda Goshawk Chocolate Frog Card from the bookshelf in back of what looks like Arthur Weasley (Zoom 2).

So… what have we learned from all this exploration?

Well, aside from getting some first-hand experience in how to de-gnome a garden, the main thing we’ve learned is that Harry’s possessions are as untidy as his black messy hair! He leaves Chocolate Frog Cards, Bertie Bott’s Beans, and just about anything else lying around! It’s enough to drive Aunt Petunia crazy! But I’m no neat freak, so it hardly bothers me. :)

We also get a lot of new Potions ingredients – including everyday items like Peppermint, Honey, Rose Thorns, and Flower Heads. I can hardly wait to see how they’re used and which Potions will use them!

Pottermore: The Death of the Exploding Cauldron?

This afternoon, my husband attempted the practice potion. He had the same difficulties everyone has the first time brewing, but when I asked him if he blew up his cauldron, he said that he didn’t really see anything very dramatic happen to his cauldron.

I attempted to show him what an exploding cauldron looked like. I went to the practice potion, tossed my snake fangs in the mortar and chopped them up, put four measures in my cauldron, and then intentionally overheated the cauldron during the 10 second countdown before waving my wand.

Black specks flew out of the cauldron, and the potion turned a sickly green… but no melted cauldron and no green goo splattered all over my workbench.

I have since searched the Web for a picture of a properly exploded and melted cauldron, but to no avail so far.

So… Did Pottermore eliminate the exploding cauldron to increase bandwidth (and decrease excessive expenditure of galleons)? Will the exploding cauldron become just one of those Beta memories… albeit a rather dramatic one (and a good source of self-deprecating jokes).

Well, whatever the case, while I was looking for photos of exploding cauldrons, I did come across some very helpful Potions videos by StormChestnut89 – one of the Gryffindors on the leaderboard in the Great Hall… and one of my occasional dueling partners.


Also be sure to check out StormChestnut’s YouTube Channel for some great tutorials showing how to make specific Potions.

ETA: ElmBlade demonstrates in the Comments thread that Cauldrons do indeed still explode on Pottermore… just not in the practice potion.

Asphodel, Wormwood, Bezoars, and Aconite

“Potter!” said Snape suddenly. “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

Powdered root of what to an infusion of what? Harry glanced at Ron, who looked as stumped as he was; Hermione’s hand had shot into the air.

“I don’t know, sir.” said Harry.

Well, now the fun begins.

I was not involved in Potter fandom during all those years of speculation about Snape’s true nature, his motives, or his loves. I missed the pre-DH Snape Wars. I missed the Sev/Lily ship. I missed it all. So when I read Harry’s first classroom encounter with Professor Snape, it just looked like Snape was singling out and taunting Harry with questions about things the poor kid couldn’t possibly know about.

But that’s not what some people who’ve spent years reading and thinking about this passage have gotten out of it.

First, let me mention the parts I do “get” without any outside assistance:

  • I get that the bezoar foreshadows Slughorn’s accidental poisoning of Ron Weasley, when Harry takes the Half-Blood Prince’s suggestion just to shove a bezoar down his friend’s throat.
  • I get that monkshood/wolfsbane/aconite foreshadows the arrival of Lupin as DADA professor during Harry’s third year.
  • I get that Snape only takes takes single points from Harry on this first encounter – despite Harry’s impression that Snape really hates him. (Admittedly, the second point Snape takes is unfair)
  • And I, of course, get why Hagrid won’t look Harry in the eye when he says that Snape has no reason to hate him.

But then there’s asphodel and wormwood, which – from what I have gathered – is one of the original foundations of the Sev/Lily ship. Here’s what Iggy wrote recently on the CoS Forum about Snape’s asphodel and wormwood question:

There were a few hints or things that made people consider [Sev/Lily]. In Snape’s first Potions class, he talks about the combination of two ingredients, Asphodel and Wormwood. Wormwood is a very bitter root, and Asphodel is a type of lily. Snape says these two create the Draught of Living Death, and in DH, there are a few instances where Snape’s eyes suggest he’s, to use a somewhat melodramatic phrase, dead inside.

Another commenter here, Judith, was kind enough to leave a link in a comments thread to a post she wrote several months before the publication of DH, in which she argues that…

Asphodel symbolically means death, esp. death of someone beloved to the person who offers asphodel. Asphodel is also a lily. Wormwood symbolically means bitter sorrow. So in essence, Snape is asking Harry if he knows what death wrapped in bitter sorrow is. Or put another way, he might be trying to tell Harry that he loved her and that he bitterly regrets Lily’s death.

Harry, of course, ignorant of not just the wizarding world, but of symbolism, feels the clue-by-four whizz over his head and begins to wonder why Snape appears to be singling him out for abuse.

Snape, of course, feels Harry (whose mother was a Potions prodigy) is being remarkably obtuse and/or possibly spurning his carefully couched condolences.

Additionally, I have discovered this rather extensive blog post on the Asphodel and Wormwood theory.

In essence, what these interpretations tell us is that it’s possible that Snape is not taunting Harry at all, but is rather giving him symbolic information, possibly even condolences on the loss of his mother.

So for those of you who have spent considerably more time in thinking about this passage than I have, I would love to hear your perspectives on Snape’s first interrogation of Harry… and on asphodel and wormwood. What was he really trying to accomplish in this encounter? Was he trying to put Harry in his place? Or was he trying to accomplish something else? Or both?

And with that, we will next turn to Chapter 9, “The Midnight Duel.”

The Poet Master

Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts. Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.
– Minerva McGonnagall to 1st year Gryffindors, 1991

You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potions-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. . . . I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death – if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.
– Severus Snape, to 1st year Gryffindors and Slytherins, 1991

Minerva McGonnagall and Severus Snape are my favorite Heads of House, and their introductions to their first year students are remarkably telling.

McGonnagall’s method of communicating is stern, no-nonsense, straightforward, and to the point. In her opening remarks, there are no introductory phrases, no subordination, no compound sentences. The only coordination she uses serves to connect a couple of adjectives or a couple of verbs.

Lost yet? I hope not because we are about to make a short leap into explication…


Severus Snape, on the other hand, uses a variety of rhetorical devices in his introduction – from complex and periodic sentences to alliteration, assonance, consonance, and even rhythm. The man could be a rhetorician or a poet were he not a Potions Master.

Ironically, when Snape tries to rhyme, it comes out doggerel:

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead…

But when, unrhymingly, he illustrates his devotion to Potions, something different happens. He begins to use poetic devices far more sophisticated than mere mechanical rhyme.

Notice that in his introduction to Potions, there is a near constant stream of l and s sounds flowing through the passage – a combination of “liquid” and “sibilant” sounds, emulating the liquids being brewed in Potions and the simmering sound of the heat used to brew them.

Snape’s Liquids: learn, subtle, little, will, hardly, believe, really, softly, cauldron, delicate, liquids, bottle, glory, usually

Initial (or nearly-initial) Sibilants (in substantive words): subtle, science, softly, simmering, ensnaring, stopper

Since liquids – literal, not phonetic ones – are the subject of this speech, it is rather appropriate that phonetic liquids fall into varying positions in the words, flowing over Snape’s syllabic boundaries, just as literal liquids flow over physical boundaries. The sibilants, on the other hand, tend to alliterate – i.e. fall at the beginnings of words.

There are also a good number of “stop” sounds in this passage (p, t, k, b, d, g). It may be a bit of a stretch, but thematically, stops phonetically parallel the “stopper” Snape claims he can put in death – one that he literally puts in place to arrest Dumbledore’s inevitable death shortly before HBP begins.

Initial Stops (in substantive words):
b/p words: believe, bewitching, bottle, brew, big, bunch, Potions-making, power
g/k words: glory, cauldron, creep
d/t words: delicate, death, dunderheads, teach

The reason I put certain stops together (such as b/p) is that you use the same shape of your mouth to form the sounds. Try it, and determine what you do differently to make the two consonants in these pairs sound different.


Of course, sound can serve non-sense. Therefore, it is the sense of Snape’s words that matters most. And what he tells his students in this short passage is that Potions-making requires a subtle mind, precision, patience, and some measure of creativity. It is not big, brash, bold. It requires brains, not brawn.

In this mixed Potions class of Gryffindors and Slytherins, it fits less with the Gryffindor sensibility and possibly more with his own Slytherin preferences. But he apparently has little hope even for the Slytherins in his class, lumping Gryffs and Slythies alike into the probable category of “dunderheads.”
(One wonders what he tells his Ravenclaws.)

Essentially, he is saying that much benefit can come to the student who perfects this art/science – as he did (and as Harry’s mother did).

In her book Bring forth the best robes: a spiritual understanding of Severus Snape, Logospilgrim provides a mystical reading of this passage, taking it apart as a poetic description of deep prayer. I don’t expect that Snape is consciously describing prayer. But the worshipful language he uses about Potions-making certainly makes logospilgrim’s interpretation worth checking out.

Beyond the Leaky Cauldron

We all know what’s beyond the Leaky Cauldron, don’t we? You tap the right brick, and it opens up to Diagon Alley, where Harry can purchase his Hogwarts school supplies.

Speaking of school, I’m a little bit behind on posting because I’m taking a College Math class. I took my Midterm last week, and it appears that I haven’t posted since the day before my Midterm! I guess I’d better be getting on with it!

So I’d like to focus on the one big glaring thing I missed on my first read of “Diagon Alley.” Can you guess what it was?

It wasn’t the notion that appearances can be deceiving. When we see the item wrapped in grubby drab brown paper, that notion is so obvious that it’s hardly even subtext. After all, Hagrid is retrieving the item for Dumbledore, and it’s been kept for however long in a high security Gringott’s vault. Whatever is behind the grubby wrappings, it’s of high value – kind of like Harry. He may look like an ordinary kid, or even a rather shabby kid, but there’s something valuable beneath the appearances. A bit like transforming lead into gold, perhaps?

The crazy Gringotts wild ride is a little more important to the big story than I ever would have known on first read, but it recurs only once. The big glaring thing I didn’t catch recurs repeatedly.

It’s not that Draco Malfoy is a bit of a blood-prejudiced prat (and more than a little like Dudley Dursley). That is very nearly impossible to miss!

It’s not that Hagrid builds on the House prejudices introduced by Draco. Not that Harry has an interest in finding out how to curse Dudley. Not that the wand that chooses Harry has a tailfeather from the same phoenix as You-Know-Who’s.

No, the big glaring thing I missed on first-read is that when Harry visits the Apothecary’s shop to buy his Potions ingredients, he thinks that all those barrels of slimy things are pretty cool:

Then they visited the Apothecary, which was fascinating enough to make up for its horrible smell, a mixture of bad eggs and rotted cabbages. Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor; jars of herbs, dried roots, and bright powders lined the walls; bundles of feathers, strings of fangs, and snarled claws hung from the ceiling.

This is big and glaring? Well, as the story progresses and Harry’s hatred for Severus Snape (the Hogwarts Potions Master) grows, he starts to see slimy Potions ingredients somewhat differently. Here are examples of how Harry perceives Snape’s office (remember, we’re tied to Harry’s point of view):

They entered Snape’s office, shivering. The shadowy walls were lined with shelves of large glass jars, in which floated all manner of revolting things Harry didn’t really want to know the name of at the moment. The fireplace was dark and empty. Snape closed the door and turned to look at them….

Harry and Ron stared at each other, white-faced. Harry didn’t feel hungry any more. He now felt extremely sick. He tried not to look at a large, slimy something suspended in green liquid on a shelf behind Snape’s desk.
CoS, p. 78-80

Harry had been in here only once before, and he had been in very serious trouble then too. Snape had acquired a few more slimy horrible things in jars since last time, all standing on shelves behind his desk, glinting in the firelight and adding to the threatening atmosphere.
PoA, p. 282

It was a shadowy room lined with shelves bearing hundreds of glass jars in which floated slimy bits of animals and plants, suspended in variously colored potions. In a corner stood the cupboard full of ingredients that Snape had once accused Harry – not without reason – of robbing.
p. 529

“Ah, Potter,” said Snape, when Harry had knocked on his door and entered the unpleasantly familiar office that Snape, despite teaching floors above now, had not vacated; it was as dimly lit as ever and the same slimy dead objects were suspended in colored potions all around the walls.
HBP, p. 531

When you see these descriptions, just remember – the first time Harry sees jars of slimy dead things in an Apothecary, he finds them fascinating. It’s his hatred of Snape that makes him regard them as horrible, repulsive, sickening, an implied indictment of the man’s character, when in fact the collection is not at all atypical for a professional Potioner.

Anything glaring you missed on your first trip to Diagon Alley?