Guest Post: JK Rowling’s Christmas Codes and New Content

Today’s post comes to us from Aimee Krenz, a Source Editor from Mugglenet, the world’s #1 Harry Potter site. We thought her expertise would come in handy given JK Rowling’s fantastic new codes and short stories.

MuggleNet header

Like many fans who follow all things Harry Potter, I was excited by the Pottermore announcement that Jo Rowling would be providing us new information on the site this December. Pottermore cleverly came up with a way for fans to “earn” the goods using riddles – and for those of you who have found the Art of Spying a thrilling new way to look at the Harry Potter series, you can appreciate this approach more than most. It’s time to deploy your inner spy and see what you can learn from Jo’s riddles!

In the first riddle, seen below, we’re taken to a Moment in The Half-Blood Prince:

If you recall, Spinner’s End is the home of Professor Severus Snape (a double agent), and also the place where Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange meet in secret with Snape regarding Draco and the secret mission assigned to him by Lord Voldemort. What is revealed after solving the riddle is where Spinner’s End is actually located and how it relates not only to Snape, but to Harry and Lily as well. Cokesworth, the town where Lily and Petunia Evans and Severus Snape grew up, also happens to be one of the places Harry’s uncle Vernon takes them to in The Sorcerer’s Stone to avoid the Owl Post that invites Harry to attend Hogwarts as a First Year student.

Pottermore’s second riddle puts the spotlight on the Weasleys’ joke shop – for those of you spies just starting out, this clue is fairly simple.

Day 2 Pottermore

Fans of the series love the idea of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes and should know exactly where the shop is located. What Jo gives us with the solving of this riddle is the backstory on the location itself: a history of Diagon Alley via The Leaky Cauldron.

The Leaky Cauldron is a place where Harry has gathered a lot of his information about where he comes from and his ongoing battle with Voldemort. This crossroads into the wizarding world is more than just a gateway – wizards and witches from all over Great Britain pass through its doors daily and bring with them important information that Harry and his friends use to help them on their quest to defeat Voldemort.

In the answer to this riddle, Jo provides us the reason why other wizarding villages and magical locations were unseen to the Muggle eye while The Leaky Cauldron was not – the pub was built long before the International Statute of Secrecy was put into effect and was allowed to remain in the same location, with a few concealment charms after the Statute was put into place.

Jo also revealed an almost-key player in Harry’s journey – Florean Fortescue. Florean, the owner of Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, was intended to provide Harry with information that ultimately ended up being given by the portrait-dwelling Phineas Nigellus Black (another double agent that we never saw coming!) both inside Grimmauld Place and Hogwarts castle. Florean was unfortunately, a victim of Voldemort during the series, kidnapped and killed off by Death Eaters.

Our third clue, seen below, talks of another Potions master, although not Severus Snape. This time, the riddle hints to another professor closer to Voldemort’s past.

Once this riddle has been solved by answering Professor Slughorn, we are treated to a few more bits of history. First, Jo addresses potions – who can create them and who can’t. Turns out, no matter if a Muggle happened to come across a copy of Moste Potente Potions, they would not be able to create anything even if they had the ingredients. You must be a witch or wizard (and a patient one, at that!) to create a real magic potion. She also tells us that she was rubbish at chemistry in school and this became the subject that her adversary Snape would teach Harry and his friends.

Second, we learn a little about cauldrons. I’d always wondered about the weight of the cauldrons as they are listed as pewter, copper, brass, silver, iron, and gold. It’s like Jo has spies of her own and decided to answer this question for us! The cauldrons have been enchanted to make them lighter for the witch or wizard who has to carry them and include versions that collapse for easy storage.

Clues four and five seemed a bit of a let-down in regards to new information, but did provide us two more Moments in Half-Blood Prince – Katie Bell and the cursed necklace, handed to her in the girls bathroom by Voldemort’s secret agent Draco Malfoy, as well as Dumbledore’s visit to young Tom Riddle at the orphanage.

Pottermore Day 4 Pottermore Day 5

Our sixth clue focused on one of my favorite quirky characters, but once solved, led us again to our favorite and most successful double agent, Professor Snape:

Jo clears up yet another swirling bit of misinformation that has made the rounds in the fandom regarding who or what Snape is – a vampire. She tells us that vampires do exist in the Potter universe, but that other than a brief mention of one at Slughorn’s Christmas party, no one else of mention was in fact a vampire. Jo briefly had a professor at Hogwarts whose name could have led her in that direction, but says she felt she had nothing to add to vampire lore, so left it alone.

That’s it for this week’s blog! I had a tremendous amount of fun exploring Pottermore’s special Christmas riddles and learning more behind the scenes story information from Jo. Check back next week when we discuss the final 6 Pottermore clues!

Break the Code: The Cover of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying

In order to make things a bit more interesting, the authors of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying decided to put a few codes to break on the front cover and the back inside cover.

So, let’s take a peek at the front cover:

HP cover

 

Notice the different coloring lettering on the authors’ names?

What could this mean?

Hint:  The black letters create one full English sentence.

Get it yet?

Ok, we’ll help a little!

Another hint:  The sentence is created by four letters that translate easily into four words, and the remaining three letters spell the last word!

So, let’s first put the letters in order as the names Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest would normally be read:

L—U—Y—P— R— A —S.

Doesn’t sound like a word, or a full sentence!  So let’s try something else.  Read the letter left to right:

Y—P—R—U— A— S —Y?

Figure it out yet?

Next hint:  By moving one letter, you get the answer, which again is one complete English sentence.

So, say the letters out loud as words:

Y—P—R—U— A— S —Y sounded out is,

Why Pee Are You A S Why?

Now, move just one letter somewhere else:

Y—P—R—U— A— S —Y?

Got it?  If not, the another hint should finish the job!

Hint:  We would never use the word “pee” on our cover, but we might use the letter “P”!

So, remove the “P,” AND YOU GET:

Y—R—U— A— S —Y?

And you get, sounding out the letters as words:

Why are you a “S” “Y”?

Now put the “P” back in, and you get:

Y—R—U— A— S —P—Y?

Which when read out loud and as four letter-words and one three-letter word is . . . . . .

Why are you a SPY?

Break the Code: Decipher the Prophecy!

Prophecy Label

Last time we figured what the number 6—2—4—4—2 means.  These are the numbers Mr. Weasley enters when they go to Harry’s trial in the Order of the Phoenix—and the number Harry later uses to get in to the Ministry of Magic with his friends to rescue Sirius.

In the Order of the Phoenix when Harry reaches the Department of Mysteries, Harry comes over and reviews the card (780) right beneath a prophecy, which states

S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D.

Dark Lord

and (?) Harry Potter

Remember the Mirror of Erised, where the letters carved into the mirror needed only to be read backwards to reveal its message? Here we have a code based on abbreviations, though Harry does not know it yet.

Does anybody remember what SPT stands for, or ABWBD?

Let’s think about it for a bit. We are dealing with a prophecy, a prophecy about Harry. First of all, who delivered (that is, spoke out loud) the prophecy?

And who heard the prophecy being given?

Perhaps a certain Divinations teacher and a certain Headmaster?

Quite correct you are!

SPTstands for Sibyl P. Trelawney!

And APWBD stands for Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore!

Thus, the abbreviations stand for “Sibyl P. Trelawney to Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore”!   OP 780, 840, 841

But there is more to figure out.

Why is there a question mark? Because the prophecy could apply to Harry Potter, but it could also apply to some other boy born at the end of July whose parents thrice defied Lord Voldemort. And we all know who that boy is, don’t we?

Yes!

Neville Longbottom!

Break the Code: Alphanumeric Codes!

Ministry of Magic

Let’s have another try at code breaking.  Last time we figured out the words above the Mirror of Erised (Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi).

Today we are going to discover what the number 6—2—4—4—2 means.  These are the numbers Mr. Weasley dials when they go to Harry’s trial in the Order of the Phoenix—and the number Harry later uses to get in to the Ministry of Magic with his friends to rescue Sirius.

To get into the Ministry of Magic for Harry’s trial, Mr. Weasley takes Harry to the visitor’s entrance, which is “an old red telephone box, which was missing several panes of glass.”  (OP 125)   Mr. Weasley reaches over Harry and dials in “six . . . two . . . four . . . and another four . . . and another two . . .” (125).  It works and Harry and Mr. Weasley gain entrance to the Ministry of Magic!  (126)

And later on, when Harry flies to the Ministry of Magic with his friends on the thestrals, they land at the visitor’s entrance to the Ministry of Magic (767). All six rescuers squeeze into the telephone box and enter the code Harry remembers the number (62442) and Ron, at Harry’s direction, has him dial in the number.  A friendly sounding female voice asks them to state their names and purpose, and badges arrive stating their names and the purpose of their visit, and after doing so they are allowed to enter (768).

So, what do the numbers mean?

Time for code breaking!

ANALYSIS: Why 62442? Time to use logic! Let’s first try assigning letters of the alphabet to the numbers: 1 being A, 2 being B, and so on. Do we get anything?

A B C D E

1 2 3 4 5

6        F

2        B

4        D

4        D

2        B

 

Applying 62442, we get F B D D B. Not much there.

Let’s think some more. Any ideas?

Let’s apply situational analysis. Where are they?

At the visitor’s entrance. Yes, yes. But what are they physically in?

A phone booth! Very good!

So what do you think?

Any thoughts on how to break the code?

Phone numbers, you say? But phone numbers usually have seven numbers, like 555–5555.

What’s that? Oh! You want to apply the letters that are on each number key on the phone itself! Sure, that makes sense!

Any readers out there who have texted someone by using the numeric keys?

Let’s add to our list the letters assigned to each number:

6        M N O

2        A B C

4        G H I

4        G H I

2        A B C

See anything?

6        M N O

2        A B C

4        G H I

4        G H I

2        A B C

 

MAGIC!

Isn’t this great? J. K. Rowling never tells us how to break the code, but by using logic we can decode the password for the Ministry of Magic visitor’s entrance!

Code breaking, you see, is very much like magic!