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!

The Possessed Spy: Ginny Weasley

Ginny Weasley -CS with Diary

Another type of spy unique to the Harry Potter series is one who is possessed, such as Ginny Weasley in book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny Weasley is possessed by Lord Voldemort— or, more precisely, by Tom Riddle through the diary—but she does not remember what she did at Tom Riddle’s behest. As such, Ginny should not be held accountable for painting warnings on the walls or her other actions while under the diary’s influence.

Ginny Weasley Analysis

Recruitment by: Tom Riddle’s diary, via the part of Voldemort’s soul contained therein

Incentive Used: Initially curiosity; then possession, with no choice given

Handler: Tom Riddle

Method of Communication: The diary

Memorable Quotes:

Tom Riddle: “Yes, of course, she didn’t know what she was doing at first. It was very amusing. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries . . . far more interesting, they became. . . . Dear Tom, I think I’m losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don’t know how they got there. DearTom, I can’t remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked and I’ve got paint all down my front. Dear Tom, Percy keeps telling me I’m pale and I’m not myself. I think he suspects me. . . . There was another attack today and I don’t know where I was. Tom, what am I going to do? I think I’m going mad. . . . I think I’m the one attacking everyone, Tom!” (CS 310–11).

Ginny: “Well, that was a bit stupid of you,” said Ginny angrily, “seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels. . . . Well, can you remember everything you’ve been doing?” Ginny asked. “Are there big blank periods where you don’t know what you’ve been up to? . . . When he did it to me, I couldn’t remember what I’d been doing for hours at a time. I’d find myself somewhere and not know how I got there” (499–500).

Although magical possession isn’t possible in the muggle world, other forms of mind control happen every day. Peer pressure and “group think,” for example, can convince whole crowds of people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Have you ever been in a situation when your actions were not quite your own? How did you get away from the influence of your “possessor”?

Answers: Counterintelligence in the Harry Potter Series

Marauders Map

Check your answers to yesterday’s quiz! How much do YOU know about counterintelligence in the Harry Potter series?

1. What magical object, introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban, does Harry Potter consistently use to track people’s movements – enemies and friends alike?

The Marauder’s Map

2. How do members of the D.A. know who tattled on them?

Hermione jinxed the D.A. signup sheet so that if anyone revealed their secret the word SNEAK would appear across his or her face.

3. What device does Dumbledore have in his office that allows him to research Voldemort’s past and future plans?

The Pensieve

4. What magical device will reveal if someone nearby is being dishonest?

Sneakoscope

5. How does Voldemort ensure that Wormtail can never switch sides again?

The hand he gives Wormtail in reward for the sacrificing his own to bring Voldemort back to life is bewitched to turn on its owner at the first sign of disloyalty. 

6.  What does Mad Eye Moody use to keep an eye on enemies?

His Foe Glass!

We will have a special guest blog this Thursday! Stay tuned for more info!

Quiz: Counterintelligence in the Harry Potter Series

Mad Eye Moody

We’re back with a special quiz about the spy craft in the Harry Potter series! If you’re a longtime fan,  you know we started our quizzes at the very beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the book in which Harry Potter and his friends really start to practice spy craft. Now, we’re quizzing you on spy craft more generally so you can see how JK Rowling laid the foundation for the Golden Trio to be excellent covert operatives!

This week, we’re talking counterintelligence. What is that?

Counterintelligence is the art of determining whether others are spying on you or your organization and preventing them from doing so.

So, can you name these examples of counterintelligence in the Harry Potter series?

1. What magical object, introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban, does Harry Potter consistently use to track people’s movements – enemies and friends alike?

The Marauder’s Map

2. How do members of the D.A. know who tattled on them?

Hermione jinxed the D.A. signup sheet so that if anyone revealed their secret the word SNEAK would appear across his or her face.

3. What device does Dumbledore have in his office that allows him to research Voldemort’s past and future plans?

The Pensieve

4. What magical device will reveal if someone nearby is being dishonest?

Sneakoscope

5. How does Voldemort ensure that Wormtail can never switch sides again?

The hand he gives Wormtail in reward for the sacrificing his own to bring Voldemort back to life is bewitched to turn on its owner at the first sign of disloyalty. 

6.  What does Mad Eye Moody use to keep an eye on enemies?

His Foe Glass!

Do you have any other examples of counterintelligence in the Harry Potter series? Tell us below!

Answers: Misdirection, Deception, and Disguises

Mcgongall Cat

Did you find the answers to these questions about Misdirection, Deception, and Disguises in the Harry Potter series? Time to find out!

1. Why doesn’t the Elder Wand work for Voldemort the way he wants it to?

Voldemort believes he disarmed the Elder Wand’s previous owner by stealing the wand from Dumbledore’s tomb. However, Harry disarmed Dumbledore shortly before his death, making Harry the wand’s master. 

2. How does Harry mislead both Ron and Hermione before Ron’s spectacular performance at a Quidditch match in the Half Blood Prince?

He convinces Ron — and even Hermione — that he’s slipped Felix Felicis or “liquid luck” into Ron’s drink. Ron’s confidence makes him perform well despite his lack of luck.

3. How does Hermione mislead Umbridge when the evil Headmistress is about to punish every member of the DA for their clandestine activities?

Hermione pretends to break down and confess that the DA has been creating a weapon for Dumbledore in the Forbidden Forest.

4. Who is the very first person in the Harry Potter series to appear in disguise?

Professor McGonagall appears as a cat in the very first chapter of Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone!

5. What DA member is in disguise in the Hog’s Head during the first DA meeting?

Mundungus Fletcher

Misdirection, Deception, and Disguises In Harry Potter

voldemort and elder wand

We’re back with a new quiz! This one will require you to remember details from ALL of the Harry Potter books. Specifically, do you know how much of a role misdirection, deception, and disguises played throughout J.K. Rowling’s beloved series? Well, you’re about to find out!

1. Why doesn’t the Elder Wand work for Voldemort the way he wants it to?

 

2. How does Harry mislead both Ron and Hermione before Ron’s spectacular performance at a Quidditch match in the Half Blood Prince?

 

3. How does Hermione mislead Umbridge when the evil Headmistress is about to punish every member of the DA for their clandestine activities?

 

4. Who is the very first person in the Harry Potter series to appear in disguise?

 

5. What DA member is in disguise in the Hog’s Head during the first DA meeting?

 

Did you know?

Harry Potter and the Art of Spying author Lynn Boughey adopted someone else’s identity in order to travel to Chara, Russia to research his spy novel Mission to Chara in 1993. He had to memorize his taxi driver’s passport and pretend not to understand the train conductress when she asked for identification. You don’t have to be a spy to use misdirection, deception, and disguises!

The Fearful Spy: Peter Pettigrew

Peter Pettigrew Transforms

The next type of spy is motivated by fear. Our example, of course, is Peter Pettigrew.

As we all know, Peter Pettigrew was brought into James Potter’s circle despite the fact that the other three (James, Sirius, and Lupin) would not automatically or normally have included him in their group. James and Sirius were good-looking and popular, as well as egotistical. Lupin, as a werewolf, was an outsider; that at least indicates that James and Sirius were not so full of themselves that they would be unwilling to befriend and assist somebody strange or different. Peter Pettigrew was certainly in need of friends, but we wonder why the other three allowed him into their midst…

Whatever the reason, Peter Pettigrew became one of the foursome, but unfortunately not one who could be trusted in the end. For, as we all know, Peter Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper who told Voldemort where James and Lily Potter, and their toddler son, Harry, lived.

When we meet Peter Pettigrew as an adult, he seems like a weak and spineless rat (and, of course, he can turn into a rat!). He seems to fear Voldemort, but is thrilled by the prospect of receiving power through Voldemort. He is willing to give Voldemort not merely the shirt off his back, but, literally, his right hand. Now that’s really a right-hand man! (Sorry about that!)

Keep in mind, spies whose main motivation is fear are not the most reliable. All you have to do is find a stronger motivator or find someone who inspires more fear to convince them to switch sides!

For example, thanks to Harry’s refusal to allow Sirius and Lupin to kill Peter at the Shrieking Shack (after the rat returned to human form and confessed to his betrayal of James and Lily Potter), Peter Pettigrew is indebted to Harry (PA 375). This pays off in the long run because it gives Peter another motivator –the desire to repay the favor.

As Dumbledore explains to Harry, “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed. . . . Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt. When one wizard saves another wizard’s life, it creates a certain bond between them . . .” (PA 426–27).

Harry understandably wants no connection to Peter Pettigrew, but Dumbledore wisely opines, “the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew’s life” (PA 427). And, to Peter Pettigrew’s great surprise, he does falter for a moment when coming to check on Harry and the others imprisoned in the dungeon of Malfoy Manor—and the new hand that Voldemort gave Pettigrew immediately turns on him and kills him (DH 470)!

Peter Pettigrew Analysis

Recruitment by: A Death Eater or Voldemort as they searched for James, Lily, and toddler Harry Potter

Incentive Used: Desire for power and fear of Voldemort

Handler: Probably Voldemort himself

Method of Communication: Face-to-face

Memorable Quotes:

Sirius: But you, Peter—I’ll never understand why I didn’t see you were the spy from the start. You always liked big friends who’d look after you, didn’t you? It used to be us . . . me and Remus . . . and James. . . .” (PA 369).

Voldemort: “You returned to me, not out of loyalty, but out of fear of your old friends” (GF 649).

Narrative: “The silver tool that Voldemort had given his most cowardly servant had turned upon its disarmed and useless owner; Pettigrew was reaping his reward for his hesitation, his moment of pity; he was being strangled before their eyes” (DH 470).