Knowing his godfather will not approve of skipping class to see The Bent-Winged Snitches, Teddy Lupin calls for some spiritual intervention.
"I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."
Happy Birthday Joanne Rowling (7/31/1965) and Harry James Potter (7/31/1980)
Maybe on 30th July, the old crew all happen to take time out and head out to Hogsmeade; Neville cleans up nicely and excuses himself from Hogwarts. And they all drink into the night, catching up on everybody’s lives. Luna makes it to these occasions most of the times, she tries really hard to not be travelling during this time of the year. And Hermione, no matter how important the matter at hand, puts her work aside and picks a gift for Neville on her way, because she knows if she left it to Ron, Neville would just have a huge collection of really unimportant muggle stuff.
Ginny bakes a cake too, it’s not as great as her mum’s but Harry assures her that Neville will love it nevertheless. But it’s the enthusiasm with which Dean jumps to get the largest piece for himself that makes Ginny happy. And then the night moves steadily along till the old clock strikes midnight and everybody raises a toast to Harry. He sobers down then, a minute of silence for all the loved ones he wished were with him then, entwines his hand with Ginny’s and feels lucky to have all his friends around him- alive, healthy, and laughing.
Happy Birthday Jo Rowling! Thank you for creating the single most magical world that has become a huge part of many people’s lives.
Happy Birthday Harry Potter! Thank you for always being there to welcome us home, whether we come back to you by page or the big screen!
Let’s talk about Voldemort.
He’s a pretty standard villain isn’t he? While reading the books, even as a child, he never instilled outright fear in me. I was more scared of the basilisk, I was scared of the dementors. Even in Goblet of Fire when Voldemort ceased being just a name, a constant threat that haunted Harry, when Voldemort actually came back, bearing in mind the grotesque manner in which this was accomplished - even then, he never really scared me. I didn’t feel any fear. I did feel loathing. More for what he was capable of doing, than hatred for him alone. Death Eaters and everything they represented; I hated them. I mean, Order of the Phoenix (my favourite book of the series) was a rollercoaster of emotions, for the reader and for poor Harry. I most certainly felt cold anger, like an anger I actually physically felt inside, towards Dolores Umbridge. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to conjure up that same level of intense hatred towards a fictional character since then. No one can beat Umbridge there.
But I still wasn’t scared of him.
This really changed in Half-Blood Prince. I can pin-point the exact moment in which my blood ran cold (bear in mind that I was twelve-years old when I first read HBP) and I was actually scared of Voldemort for the first time. This was during the look into Voldemort’s past we and Harry were granted. We knew up to that moment that Voldemort was an evil, evil man, capable of immense cruelty, including murder and torture. This wasn’t exactly news. But encountering the young, eleven-year old Tom Riddle and discovering that he was capable of the same things, was really quite sobering. Again, when I first read this book, I was one year older than he was at the time. It probably horrifies me even more now that I’m older and that the full implications made (see, Rowling didn’t elaborate hugely on everything that did happen) by young Riddle dawn on me.
"I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me. I can make them hurt if I want to." Like. How is that not terrifying? How does that, more than anything mentioned in relation to Lord Voldemort, make your blood not run cold? Sure, children do horrible and cruel things loads of times. But Tom is talking about magic. He uses magic to do these things. It’s never said what kind of magic, only that he can make them hurt. Is it at all possible then, that Tom Riddle already mastered the cruciatus curse, without any formal training in magic? After all, it is the easiest way to inflict pain using magic. Unlike Harry and many other young Wizards and Witches, Tom seemed able to somewhat control his powers. He used them to knowingly terrify and torture other children. He used it to manipulate animals to do his bidding - everything he did was incredibly willful and malevolent.
It is mentioned that he killed a helpless animal to terrify a fellow orphan (Billy Stubbs’ rabbit) by using his magical ability to hang the animal. The torture and killing of animals is very often a telltale sign of unusually high psychopathic tendencies, usually realised in childhood. Tom is definitely showcasing these signs.
And then there’s the part that I’ve been meaning to get to. The part where I felt sick, and was definitely, truly terrified of Voldemort. I think one of Rowling’s best abilities, is that she’s able to instill horror without ever having to show the reader the scenario in question. I think two of the best instances of this are in the case of Ariana Dumbledore and young Tom Riddle. In the former we’re told that something happened to Ariana and three Muggle men were involved, but it’s never stated what happened. I mean, we can obviously imagine what happened. But what I find interesting in this case in particular, is that our mind is capable of conjuring up different horror scenarios. When I first read the Deathly Hallows, I’d turned fourteen. I was a fairly sheltered individual, so when I came across that part, my mind sprung to the very worst thing I could think of, which was of Ariana getting half beaten to death by these Muggle men. Obviously now, I can think of many more terrible things and my mind does go there when I read it now. Maybe other people experienced this as well. It’s never told and really, the untold is a whole lot more terrifying because it allows us to imagine the very worst.
In the case of Tom Riddle, it’s the scene in the cave. We’re not told very much and it’s not really needed. We know that on a trip to the beach (a “treat” by the orphanage) Tom lured two fellow orphans, Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop, into a cave. Riddle did something so terrible that they were effectively traumatised into silence… and the rest is left up to us. What happened to Dennis Bishop and Amy Benson? We will never know exactly. It’s up to interpretation. I believe, and this is just me, that they were tortured, perhaps made to see their very worst fears. There’s also the issue of the blood sacrifice that Dumbledore has to make in order to get to the lake later on in the book. Perhaps the blood sacrifice is required, almost symbolically, because blood was spilled there many years before?
Obviously, there’s no real answer, save for our own twisted thoughts. I am convinced that Tom held them captive in that cave to see what he was capable of doing. How much pain could he inflict? Obviously the orphanage restricted him from being able to do whatever he pleased. There was always the danger of being discovered and punished. By hurting them and scaring them into silence, in an environment in which he was literally free to do whatever - since even entering the cave is near impossible without the use of magic or mountaineering skills - there was nothing to stop Tom.
As much as I want to know what exactly happened, I also like being kept in the dark about it. Nothing could really measure up to the very worst thoughts I am capable of thinking, and I think this goes for most. It’s better left unsaid - and I’ll let my imagination fill in the blanks.
But there it is.
The exact moment in which I actively feared Lord Voldemort.
Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.
… If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is wonderful news. [The study] provides some experimental backing for J.K. Rowling’s opinion that, “The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry.”
More importantly, it shows that conveying messages of tolerance through literature actually works. Potter’s journey of self-discovery, then, might some day be immortalized in projects that aim to teach tolerance to young children.