A Happy Potter Halloween

October 31 is without question the most important single calendar day in the Harry Potter series. Voldemort murdered Harry’s parents on October 31. And significant events occur on each of Harry’s first four Halloweens at Hogwarts.

Months ago, I wrote a post when the PS/SS re-read reached Harry Potter’s first Halloween Feast. Here’s a recap of that recap:

Halloween 1981. Probably the most important event in the series occurs on this Halloween – the murder of James and Lily Potter. With their murder, Harry Potter was orphaned, he acquired his scar (which is not merely a scar – but a piece of Voldemort’s soul), and as a result he became the “Chosen One” – the only one capable of destroying Voldemort.

But in addition to the impact on Harry, the deaths of Lily and James compelled a despairing Severus Snape to devote the remainder of his life to helping Dumbledore protect the Potter boy… and drove Wormtail to frame Harry’s godfather Sirius for the “murder of Peter Pettigrew” and a street filled with Muggles. Basically, this is the day that changed the lives of several of the major players.

Halloween 1991. Ten years after his parents’ murder, Harry spends his first Halloween at Hogwarts. At this point in the series, there’s no indication that Harry is aware that his parents’ deaths occurred on October 31. The Halloween Feast, though, is ruined by Quirrell’s famous “Troll in the Dungeons” announcement. Harry and Ron save Hermione from the troll, who has gone into the girl’s bathroom – thus starting the Trio’s friendship.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to keep an eye on Quirrell and head him off at the Philosopher’s Stone, Severus Snape goes into the corridor where Fluffy is guarding something. For his efforts, his Fluffy mangles his leg, awakening Harry’s suspicions of Snape.

Halloween 1992. Harry and the Trio are asked by Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost, to come to his 500th Death Day Party. Harry hears a voice (actually, the Basilisk speaking Parseltongue), and the Trio come face-to-face with the first attack by the “Heir of Slytherin.”

Halloween 1993. Harry is not allowed to go to the first Hogsmeade weekend. Instead, he has tea with Professor Lupin. When Snape brings Lupin his Wolfsbane Potion, Snape becomes suspicious of Lupin having Harry alone with him – fearing that Lupin is trying to hand Harry over to his school friend, the escaped “murderer” Sirius Black.

During the Halloween Feast, Sirius attacks the portrait of the Fat Lady, trying to force his way into Gryffindor Tower. In doing so, Sirius ends up wrongly confirming Snape’s suspicions about Lupin. Sirius’ actual co-conspirator is Hermione’s cat!

Halloween 1994. Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, making him the fourth champion in the Triwizard Tournament.

In later years, Halloween is not so clearly delineated. We don’t know exactly what happens on Halloween during the Umbridge era. All we know is that during the weekend after Halloween, Harry and the Weasley twins get a “lifetime ban” from Quidditch. What happens in 1996 and 1997 is something of a mystery.

Harry finally gets a good look at Halloween 1981 on December 24/25, 1997 – after his ill-fated trip to Godric’s Hollow. Nagini’s bite, and Harry’s subsequent delirium, cause him to “see” the attack on through Voldemort’s eyes.

Have a Happy Potter Halloween!

Halloween

I could get snarky and give the following summary of the next couple of chapters:

Quidditch Quidditch Quidditch Quidditch Quidditch
Hermione! Feast! (quirrell) Troll! SNAPE!!!! Hermione! Troll!!!!! McGonnagall-SNAPE!!!!!!!!!!-(quirrell)
Quidditch Quidditch Quidditch Quidditch Quidditch
Bucking Broomstick (quirrell) SNAPE!!!!!!!!!!!! Hermione!!!
Quidditch! Snitch! Caught!

But I won’t. Instead, let’s talk about Halloween.

Halloween 1981. Probably the most important event in the series occurs on this Halloween – the murder of James and Lily Potter. With their murder, Harry Potter was orphaned, he acquired his scar (which is not merely a scar – but a piece of Voldemort’s soul), and as a result he became the “Chosen One” – the only one capable of destroying Voldemort.

But in addition to the impact on Harry, the deaths of Lily and James compelled a despairing Severus Snape to devote the remainder of his life to helping Dumbledore protect the Potter boy… and drove Wormtail to frame Harry’s godfather Sirius for the “murder of Peter Pettigrew” and a street filled with Muggles. Basically, this is the day that changed the lives of several of the major players.

Halloween 1991. Ten years after his parents’ murder, Harry spends his first Halloween at Hogwarts. At this point in the series, there’s no indication that Harry is aware that his parents’ deaths occurred on October 31. The Halloween Feast, though, is ruined by Quirrell’s famous “Troll in the Dungeons” announcement. Harry and Ron save Hermione from the troll, who has gone into the girl’s bathroom – thus starting the Trio’s friendship.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to keep an eye on Quirrell and head him off at the Philosopher’s Stone, Severus Snape goes into the corridor where Fluffy is guarding something. For his efforts, his Fluffy mangles his leg, awakening Harry’s suspicions of Snape.

Halloween 1992. Harry and the Trio are asked by Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost, to come to his 500th Death Day Party. Harry hears a voice (actually, the Basilisk speaking Parseltongue), and the Trio come face-to-face with the first attack by the “Heir of Slytherin.”

Halloween 1993. Harry is not allowed to go to the first Hogsmeade weekend. Instead, he has tea with Professor Lupin. When Snape brings Lupin his Wolfsbane Potion, Snape becomes suspicious of Lupin having Harry alone with him – fearing that Lupin is trying to hand Harry over to his school friend, the escaped “murderer” Sirius Black.

During the Halloween Feast, Sirius attacks the portrait of the Fat Lady, trying to force his way into Gryffindor Tower. In doing so, Sirius ends up wrongly confirming Snape’s suspicions about Lupin. Sirius’ actual co-conspirator is Hermione’s cat!

Halloween 1994. Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, making him the fourth champion in the Triwizard Tournament.

In later years, Halloween is not so clearly delineated. We don’t know exactly what happens on Halloween during the Umbridge era. All we know is that during the weekend after Halloween, Harry and the Weasley twins get a “lifetime ban” from Quidditch. What happens in 1996 and 1997 is something of a mystery.

Harry finally gets a good look at Halloween 1981 on December 24/25, 1997 – after his ill-fated trip to Godric’s Hollow. Nagini’s bite, and Harry’s subsequent delirium, cause him to “see” the attack on through Voldemort’s eyes.

So… why Halloween?

Battle of Hogwarts Anniversary

On May 2, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts was fought. Today we’d like to honor all the brave men, women and magical creatures who fought Lord Voldemort for the future of the Wizarding World, especially:

  • Harry Potter – who personally faced Lord Voldemort twice that night… and prevailed
  • Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger – who stood beside Harry throughout his Quest and provided much-needed support during the Battle
  • Luna Lovegood – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and helping Harry into Ravenclaw Tower
  • Neville Longbottom – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and slaying Nagini
  • Ginny Weasley – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and giving Harry inspiration
  • Severus Snape – for giving Harry the memories in his dying moments that helped Harry defeat Lord Voldemort
  • Aberforth Dumbledore – for helping Harry, the Order, the DA, and many others get in to Hogwarts from the Hog’s Head and for then fighting in the Battle alongside many other citizens of Hogsmeade
  • The Members of the DA, the Order, the Gryffindor alumni, and the citizens of Hogsmeade – for standing up to fight
  • The Magical Creatures who fought – particularly Kreacher and the House Elves, the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest, and Grawp
  • Minerva McGonnagall, Horace Slughorn, Filius Flitwick – for leadership during the Battle and for fighting Voldemort
  • Molly Weasley – for destroying Bellatrix Lestrange
  • Hagrid – for being true of heart
  • Peeves and Trelawney – for their unique contributions

And now, we’d like to honor the fallen heroes:

Severus Snape


Credit: DH: Look at Me by FrizzyHermione

Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks


Credit: SPOILERS_Lupin + Tonks Ending? by ~endoftheline

Fred Weasley

Weasleys mourn Fred's death
Credit: Fredless by ~balmasque

Plus Colin Creevey and the 50 or more unnamed dead.

Thank you!


And not to kill the somber mood, but here’s a Battle of Hogwarts tie-in that I wrote for my entry in the Second Task in the Quest for the Hallows contest. It made it to the Final Round: Fifth Place Overall and Fourth Place in the Best HP-Related Story category.

‘Never – Never Tell’

In Defense of Albus Dumbledore, Part 5

(continued from Part 4)

By forcing Dumbledore to give him his word that he will “never – never tell,” Snape ensures that he will be mistrusted, even hated, by the same people who will gain most from his protection of Harry Potter. Let’s look at a few passages that illustrate the consequences of this secret.

At the end of Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone:

“Quirrell said he [Snape] hates me because he hated my father. Is that true?”

“Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy. And then your father did something Snape could never forgive.”

“What?”

“He saved his life.”

What?

“Yes…” said Dumbledore dreamily. “Funny, the way people’s minds work, isn’t it? Professor Snape couldn’t bear being in your father’s debt… I do believe he worked so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and your father even. Then he could go back to hating your father’s memory in peace…”

Dumbledore has to know this is a lie, that Severus Snape feels no debt whatsoever to James Potter because he believes that James was only trying to avoid being expelled for his role in Sirius’ prank. But because he’s given his word, Dumbledore can’t tell Harry the real reason Snape has been trying to protect him. And the lie actually does damage to Harry’s future interactions with the Potions Master. When Harry reveals to Severus that he knows Snape is in his father’s debt, it just intensifies the row already brewing between them.

In the “Pensieve” chapter in Goblet of Fire, Harry sees in Dumbledore’s memories the fact that Snape had once been a Death Eater. After Dumbledore assures Harry that Snape has never again been accused of “any Dark activity,” the Headmaster finds himself once again bound by the conditions of his agreement with Snape:

“What made you think he’d really stopped supporting Voldemort, professor?”

Dumbledore held Harry’s gaze for a few seconds, and then said:

“That, Harry, is a matter between Professor Snape and myself.”

In fact, the matter is so much between Professors Snape and Dumbledore that when Harry tells Remus Lupin that he had overheard Snape question Malfoy, Lupin’s only defense for Snape is to pass the question of trust off on Dumbledore:

“It’s Dumbledore’s business. Dumbledore trusts Severus, and that ought to be enough for all of us.”

Lupin has no idea why Dumbledore trusts Snape. He just knows that he does.

In Half-Blood Prince, when Harry finds out that Snape was the eavesdropper who heard part of Trelawney’s prophesy, the best explanation that Dumbledore can come up with is:

“You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned – ”

“But he’s a very good Occlumens, isn’t he, sir?” said Harry, whose voice was shaking with the effort of keeping it steady. “And isn’t Voldemort convinced that Snape’s on his side, even now? Professor… how can you be sure Snape’s on our side?”

Dumbledore did not speak for a moment; he looked as though he was trying to make up his mind about something. At last he said, “I am sure. I trust Severus Snape completely.”

A few hours after this conversation, Dumbledore will die from Severus Snape’s killing curse. Is he trying to decide whether or not to let Harry in on the secret Snape made him swear to keep? Or perhaps to let Harry know that he has arranged for Snape to kill him? We will never know. What we do know is that Snape’s secret has reverbations far beyond even Dumbledore. After Dumbledore’s death, the other members of the Order absorb the information that one of their own killed the Headmaster:

“Snape,” repeated McGonnagall faintly, falling into the chair. “We all wondered… but he trusted… always… Snape… I can’t believe it.”

“Snape was a highly accomplished Occlumens,” said Lupin, his voice uncharacteristically harsh. “We always knew that.”

“But Dumbledore swore he was on our side!” whispered Tonks. “I always thought Dumbledore must know something about Snape that we didn’t…”

“He always hinted that he had an ironclad reason for trusting Snape,” muttered Professor McGonnagall, now dabbing the corners of her leaking eyes with a tartan-edged handkerchief. “I mean… with Snape’s history… of course people were bound to wonder… but Dumbledore told me explicitly that Snape’s repentance was absolutely genuine… Wouldn’t hear a word against him!”

Well, Dumbledore did have an ironclad reason to trust Snape. And Snape’s repentance for his Death Eater past was absolutely genuine. But because Snape’s role is as a spy, the secret of how and why he turned away from Voldemort is probably best kept… well, secret. A few trusted people like McGonnagall could possibly have been let in, had Snape allowed it. But Snape himself chose the path of absolute secrecy.

And that fact alone should be enough to quiet down those Snape partisans who bemoan the fact that the Potions Master got so little recognition and reward from his colleagues.

But, of course, it won’t.