Polyjuice Potion

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

The Polyjuice Potion, which is a complex and time-consuming concoction, is best left to highly skilled witches and wizards. It enables the consumer to assume the physical appearance of another person, as long as they have first procured part of that individual’s body to add to the brew (this may be anything – toenail clippings, dandruff or worse – but it is most usual to use hair). The idea that a witch or wizard might make evil use of parts of the body is an ancient one, and exists in the folklore and superstitions of many cultures.

The effect of the potion is only temporary, and depending on how well it has been brewed, may last anything from between ten minutes and twelve hours. You can change age, sex and race by taking the Polyjuice Potion, but not species.

J.K. Rowling’s thoughts

I remember creating the full list of ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion. Each one was carefully selected. Lacewing flies (the first part of the name suggested an intertwining or binding together of two identities); leeches (to suck the essence out of one and into the other); horn of a Bicorn (the idea of duality); knotgrass (another hint of being tied to another person); fluxweed (the mutability of the body as it changed into another) and Boomslang skin (a shedded outer body and a new inner).

The fact that Hermione is able to make a competent Polyjuice Potion at the age of twelve is testimony to her outstanding magical ability, because it is a potion that many adult witches and wizards fear to attempt.

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Original Writing

Firebolt

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

In the late twentieth century, the Nimbus Racing Broom Company dominated its competition. The Nimbus Two Thousand and Two Thousand and One models outsold all other top-class brooms combined by a factor of three to one.

Little did the Nimbus designers realise that a racing broom was in development that would knock them from their number one spot within twelve months of its release. This was the Firebolt, a top-secret project developed by Randolph Spudmore (son of Able Spudmore of Ellerby and Spudmore, who produced the Tinderblast in 1940 and the Swiftstick in 1952, both serviceable brooms, but never achieving great popularity).

A skillful and innovative broom designer, Randolph was the first to use goblin-made ironwork (including footrests, stand and twig bands), the secrets of which are not fully understood, but which seem to give the Firebolt additional stability and power in adverse weather conditions and a special non-slip foot grip that is of particular advantage to Quidditch players. The handle is of polished ebony and the twigs of birch or hazel according to personal preference (birch is reputed to give more ‘oomph’ in high ascents, whereas hazel is preferred by those who prefer hair-trigger steering).

The Firebolt is a costly broom and Harry Potter was among the first to own one. It continues to be made in relatively small quantities, partly because the goblin workers involved in the patented ironwork are prone to strikes and walkouts at the smallest provocation.

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Sir Cadogan

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

Before the wizarding community was forced into hiding, it was not unusual for a wizard to live in the Muggle community and hold down what we would now think of as a Muggle job.

It is widely believed in wizarding circles that Sir Cadogan was one of the famous Knights of the Round Table, albeit a little-known one, and that he achieved this position through his friendship with Merlin. He has certainly been excised from all Muggle volumes of King Arthur’s story, but wizarding versions of the tales include Sir Cadogan alongside Sir Lancelot, Sir Bedivere and Sir Percivale. These tales reveal him to be hot-headed and peppery, and brave to the point of foolhardiness, but a good man in a corner.

Sir Cadogan’s most famous encounter was with the Wyvern of Wye, a dragonish creature that was terrorising the West Country. At their first encounter, the beast ate Sir Cadogan’s handsome steed, bit his wand in half and melted his sword and visor. Unable to see through the steam rising from his melting helmet, Sir Cadogan barely escaped with his life. However, rather than running away, he staggered into a nearby meadow, grabbed a small, fat pony grazing there, leapt upon it and galloped back towards the wyvern with nothing but his broken wand in his hand, prepared to meet a valiant death. The creature lowered its fearsome head to swallow Sir Cadogan and the pony whole, but the splintered and misfiring wand pierced its tongue, igniting the gassy fumes rising from its stomach and causing the wyvern to explode.

Elderly witches and wizards still use the saying ‘I’ll take Cadogan’s pony’ to mean, ‘I’ll salvage the best I can from a tricky situation.’

Sir Cadogan’s portrait, which hangs on the seventh floor of Hogwarts Castle, shows him with the pony he rode forever more (which, understandably perhaps, never much liked him) and accurately depicts his hot temper, his love of a foolhardy challenge and his determination to beat the enemy, come what may.

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Naming Seers

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

A very great variety of first names are given to children by their wizard parents, some of them being what we might think of as Muggle names (e.g. James, Harry, Ronald), others giving a distinct flavour of the personality or destiny of the bearer (e.g. Xenophilius, Remus, Alecto).

Some wizards have a family tradition of names. The Black family, for instance, like to name their offspring after stars and constellations (which many would say suits their lofty ambition and pride). Other wizarding families (like the Potters and the Weasleys) simply pick their favourite names for their children, and leave it at that.

A certain sector of magical society, however, follows the ancient wizarding practice of consulting a Naming Seer, who (usually for a hefty payment of gold) will predict the child’s future and suggest an appropriate moniker.

This practice is becoming increasingly rare. Many parents prefer to ‘let him/her find his/her own way’, and dislike (with good reason) receiving premature hints of aptitude, limitations or, at worst, catastrophe. Mothers and fathers have often fretted themselves silly on the way home from the Naming Seer, wishing that they had not heard the Seer’s predictions about their child’s personality or future.

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Original Writing

Auror

Harry potter trivia says An Auror is a person that is trained to catch Dark wizards. then who is a dark wizard or wizards?

Ron became an Auror as well, while Hermione worked her way up in the Deptartment of Magical Law Enforcement. “Harry and Ron utterly revolutionized the Auror Department at the Ministry of Magic. They are now the experts.

An Auror was a wizard or witch who acted as a highly trained law enforcement official for magical governments. Auror training was extremely difficult and intensive, so there were few qualified applicants. Aurors of different countries dealt with different high-risk situations that were most prominent to them. Their training and areas of responsibility varied greatly depending on the type of threats for which they were prepared, and the magical education they received beforehand. In Britain, for example, the Aurors were trained to investigate crimes related to the Dark Arts, and to apprehend or detain dark wizards and witches. As a result, they were often called “Dark Wizard catchers.

Aurors were, essentially, the wizarding world equivalent of police officers and military (as they served in both roles for wizardkind).

Hogwarts Portraits

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

Hogwarts portraits are able to talk and move around from picture to picture. They behave like their subjects. However, the degree to which they can interact with the people looking at them depends not on the skill of the painter, but on the power of the witch or wizard painted.

When a magical portrait is taken, the witch or wizard artist will naturally use enchantments to ensure that the painting will be able to move in the usual way. The portrait will be able to use some of the subject’s favourite phrases and imitate their general demeanour. Thus, Sir Cadogan’s portrait is forever challenging people to a fight, falling off its horse and behaving in a fairly unbalanced way, which is how the subject appeared to the poor wizard who had to paint him, while the portrait of the Fat Lady continues to indulge her love of good food, drink and tip-top security long after her living model passed away.

However, neither of these portraits would be capable of having a particularly in-depth discussion about more complex aspects of their lives: they are literally and metaphorically two-dimensional. They are only representations of the living subjects as seen by the artist.

Some magical portraits are capable of considerably more interaction with the living world. Traditionally, a headmaster or headmistress is painted before their death. Once the portrait is completed, the headmaster or headmistress in question keeps it under lock and key, regularly visiting it in its cupboard (if so desired) to teach it to act and behave exactly like themselves, and imparting all kinds of useful memories and pieces of knowledge that may then be shared through the centuries with their successors in office.

The depth of knowledge and insight contained in some of the headmasters’ and headmistresses’ portraits is unknown to any but the incumbents of the office and the few students who have realised, over the centuries, that the portraits’ apparent sleepiness when visitors arrive in the office is not necessarily genuine.

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Original Writing

Thestrals

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

Manifesting as black, skeletal, bat-winged horses, but invisible to all who have never been truly touched by death, Thestrals have a somewhat macabre reputation. In centuries past the sight of them was regarded as unlucky; they have been hunted and ill treated for many years, their true nature (which is kindly and gentle) being widely misunderstood. Thestrals are not marks of ill omen, nor (their spooky appearance notwithstanding) are they in any way threatening to humans, always allowing for the fright that the first sight of them tends to give the observer.

Being able to see Thestrals is a sign that the beholder has witnessed death, and gained an emotional understanding of what death means. It is unsurprising that it took a long time for their significance to be properly understood, because the precise moment when such knowledge dawns varies greatly from person to person. Harry Potter was unable to see Thestrals for years after his mother was killed in front of him, because he was barely out of babyhood when the murder happened, and he had been unable to comprehend his own loss. Even after the death of Cedric Diggory, weeks elapsed before the full import of death’s finality was borne upon him. Only at this point did the Thestrals that pull the carriages from Hogsmeade Station to Hogwarts castle become visible to him. On the other hand, Luna Lovegood, who lost her own mother when she was young, saw Thestrals very soon afterwards because she is intuitive, spiritual and unafraid of the afterlife.

While somewhat intimidating in appearance, these carnivorous horses are emblematic of a journey to another dimension, and reward all who trust them with faithfulness and obedience. Thestrals are native to the British Isles and Ireland, though they have been spotted in parts of France and the Iberian Peninsula; they seem to have an association with wizards who descend from the horse-loving Celtic peoples. Other parts of the world have their own equivalent to Thestrals.

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Original Writing

Number Four, Privet Drive

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

The name of the street where the Dursleys live is a reference to that most suburban plant, the privet bush, which makes neat hedges around many English gardens. I liked the associations with both suburbia and enclosure, the Dursleys being so smugly middle class, and so determinedly separate from the wizarding world. The name of their area is ‘Little Whinging’, which again sounds appropriately parochial and sniffy, ‘whinging’ being a colloquial term for ‘complaining or whining’ in British English.

Although I describe the Dursleys’ house as big and square, as befitted Uncle Vernon’s status as a company director, whenever I wrote about it I was unconsciously visualising the second house I lived in as a child, which on the contrary was a rather small three-bedroomed house in the suburb of Winterbourne, near Bristol. I first became conscious of this when I entered the number four Privet Drive that had been built at Leavesden Studios, and found myself in an exact replica of my old house, down to the position of the cupboard under the stairs and the precise location of each room. As I had never described my old home to the set designer, director or producer, this was yet another of the unsettling experiences that filming the Potter books has brought me.

For no very good reason, I have never been fond of the number four, which has always struck me as a rather hard and unforgiving number, which is why I slapped it on the Dursleys’ front door.

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Original Writing

Scottish Rugby

By J.K. RowlingOriginally published on pottermore logo on Aug 10th 2015

The wizarding world’s affection for the Scottish rugby team is all the more bizarre because a substantial part of wizarding society knows nothing about Muggle sports, which they regard as inherently dull and even silly. Yet the Scottish rugby team has become a wizarding meme – part in-joke, part genuine interest – which has its roots in the nineteenth century and is a tale both sad and uplifting.

The wizarding family of Buchanan lived in a village in the Scottish Borders for many generations. A reputation for aggression and drunkenness, coupled with their prodigious size (the daughters alone had won the village tug-of-war every year in living memory), kept their neighbours at a respectful distance and ignorant of their magical abilities. One by one, as they reached the age of eleven, the Buchanan sons and daughters would disappear to Hogwarts. The village whispered that the enormous, wild children were being removed to a corrective facility or even a mental institution.

By the mid-nineteenth century the Buchanan family comprised an overworked mother, a fierce father and eleven children. The household was loud and chaotic, but even so, it is surprising that neither of the Buchanan parents realised that their third son, Angus, was a Squib – a wizard-born child with no magical powers. It had always been the proud boast of Mr Buchanan senior that such an anomaly had never occurred in their family. The proud old warlock went further: a Squib in any family was a sign that they were in decline and deserved to be winnowed out.

His brothers and sisters were all very fond of Angus, who was the largest and kindest of them all, so they covered up for him in front of his parents. The deception was innocently begun, but as the time approached for him to leave for Hogwarts, Angus and his siblings became uneasily aware that they could not maintain the pretence much longer. No letter from school arrived for Angus, but his panicking sister Flora forged one, which kept the parents in ignorance for several weeks more. Shy, good-natured and frightened of his father, Angus could not think of any alternative but to play along with his older siblings. They took him to Diagon Alley, where they bought a wand and pretended that it had chosen him. On the appointed day, his big brother Hamish took him to Hogwarts on the back of his broomstick, hoping against desperate hope that Angus would be allowed to stay once they got there, or that the school might be able to tease some magic out of him.

It had never happened before and it has never happened since, but Angus got as far as the Sorting Hat before he was exposed. In sheer desperation he threw himself ahead of a girl whose name had been called and placed the Hat upon his head. The horror of the moment when the Hat announced kindly that the boy beneath it was a good-hearted chap, but no wizard, would never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Angus took off the hat and left the hall with tears streaming down his face.

News of Angus’s humiliation reached his parents in a flurry of owls before their son arrived home on foot. He was met by his humiliated father, who barred his entrance, bade him never darken their door again, and fired curses after Angus as he fled.

Without any idea of what he would do next, without family or money, the eleven-year-old Angus walked to the capital, occasionally hitching rides on carts. In Edinburgh he lied about his age and managed to find work as a labourer.

To Angus’s surprise, Muggles were not nearly as bad as his father and mother had always told him. He had the good fortune to be taken in by a kind foreman and his wife who had no children of their own, and by the time he was eighteen, Angus had grown into a big strong man who was loved for his kind nature and admired for his physical prowess, but who never shared the strange secrets of his past.

Angus’s early childhood had been spent dodging curses on an almost daily basis, which meant that he was surprisingly fast for a man of his size. He found his greatest pleasure and pride in athleticism, and soon became adept at the relatively new Muggle sport of rugby. Years of helping his siblings catch Golden Snitches in the back garden also made him a natural at cricket.

In 1871 Angus found himself representing his country in the first ever international rugby match, which took place in Edinburgh between England and Scotland. Angus’s emotion can perhaps be imagined as he walked out onto the pitch and saw all ten of his brothers and sisters among the spectators. Defying their father’s contempt for all Muggle pursuits and his injunction against ever seeing Angus again, they had set out to track him down. Elated, Angus scored the first try. Scotland won the match.

Reunion with his family caused Angus to reevaluate his relationship with his magical roots and in 1900 he published the groundbreaking worldwide bestseller My Life As A Squib. Until this point, Squibs had lived in the shadows. Some clung to the fringes of the wizarding world, always feeling second-class and trying to fit in; others cut all ties and lived entirely as Muggles, often repudiating their beginnings. My Life As A Squib brought the plight of these individuals to the wizarding world’s attention.

Thus Angus Buchanan became world-famous among wizards whilst also being celebrated among Muggles, a hitherto unknown achievement. Wizards of many nationalities began turning up to watch him play sport. Unfortunately, cricket found little favour with wizardkind. As the chief sports writer in the Daily Prophet wrote in 1902: ‘A Beater who is unable to fly defends three sticks instead of a hoop, while a Snitch without wings is thrown at the sticks. That’s it. Sometimes for several days.’ Rugby held more appeal. Wizards could not help but admire the strength and courage of Muggles prepared to engage in a sport so brutal, without recourse to Disapparating out of the way, or access to Skele-Gro to repair broken bones. It must be admitted that there was an edge of sadism to some wizards’ enjoyment.

When Angus Buchanan died, he was honoured by both wizarding and Muggle worlds, an almost unique achievement in the annals of history. A shining example of a person who had made the most of the hand that life had dealt them and emerged triumphant, Angus was too modest to realise the impact that he had had. The Angus Buchanan Cup for Outstanding Effort is awarded at Hogwarts each year and My Life as A Squib is on its 110th printing.

When it comes to wizarding sports and games (Quidditch, Quodpot, Creaothceann – officially banned but still played illegally – broom-racing, Gobstones and so forth) wizards are naturally fiercely partisan and support their own country, but it is considered infra dig for wizards to support any rugby team other than Scotland. Over the nearly 150 years since Angus Buchanan helped win the first international rugby match, discussing Scottish rugby has become one of several covert identifiers for wizards meeting in front of Muggles and seeking to establish each other’s credentials. Eavesdropping Muggles might be puzzled as to why two Peruvians are so interested in a Scottish team, but it is generally agreed that this is preferable to arguing about Quidditch or comparing wand lengths in public.

Shortly after Angus’s death, the Wizarding Supporters of Scottish Rugby Union was set up in his memory by his devoted fans. The WSSRU, which exists to this day, has both Scottish and foreign wizarding members. They meet on the eve of every Scottish international match to toast Angus’s memory and anticipate a happy eighty minutes of watching Muggles trample each other into the mud. The International Statute of Secrecy expressly forbids wizards to participate in Muggle sport, but there is nothing illegal in supporting a Muggle side. However, the WSSRU has often had to deny the persistent rumour that its secret mission is to smuggle a talented Squib on to every Scottish team. Current suspects include Kelly Brown (possible cousin of Lavender’s), Jim Hamilton (strong resemblance to Hagrid) and Stuart Hogg (enough said).

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Original Writing