But if that's true...?
"The truth...is a beautiful and terrible thing,
and should therefore be treated with great caution."
-- Albus Dumbledore (PS17)
Why did Harry do that?
Here's a nice
list of the more puzzling mysteries and inconsistencies found in the Harry
Potter books. The online fan community has debated each of these topics
in endless detail and some explanations have been offered. Care to suggest
your own solutions to these knotty questions? Head for
Potter for GrownUps or go to the Lexicon's own
and join the discussion! Please don't email us your theories. It's not
that we're anti-social or stuck up or think that we have all the answers.
It's just that we receive over a hundred emails per day and we just can't
get into discussions about things like this. We don't have time.
For more information about this topic, see the
Notes About This Page.
Who is Mrs. Figg?
This mystery was solved in GF36 and OP2.
are Harry's family?
Where did Snape go at the end of GF?
Why did Lupin transform into a werewolf only when
the full moon came out from behind the clouds? Don't werewolves automatically
change shape at the full moon, whether or not there are clouds? And how long does
it take to drink a potion? How could he have been so incredibly stupid
as to forget to take it that night?
JKR's partial answer: "The moon wasn't up when he entered the Shrieking Shack."
One problem with this answer is that the time of moonrise is dependent on the
moon's phase, and during the full moon, the moon rises near sunset and
sets near sunrise, so the moon would have risen shortly after Harry, Ron,
and Hermione left Hagrid's. This really doesn't answer the question, however.
Of course, lycanthropy might easily work a little differently in the Potter
universe; see remarks on werewolves in the
What did the centaurs mean by
"Mars is bright tonight"?
Firenze discussed this in OP27.
Mars is the god of war, which suggests that the Centaurs saw conflict coming.
This was undoubtedly true, since Voldemort was wandering their forest and
they were familiar with Harry Potter. I'm not sure that it would take a
lot of divination ability to figure this out.
Fans have looked into the actual position of Mars on the night Harry was in
the Forest (May 26, 1992, after 11 pm). Mars actually wasn't visible in
the sky over Scotland until about 3 am, having risen around 2 am, but then
it was easily the brightest object in its part of the sky. Mars wasn't
in a particularly bright part of its cycle, however, being at magnitude
1.18. Since Rowling makes no effort to match her fictional world to real
world dates, this is probably a moot point. But it's interesting nevertheless.
Do the Hogwarts toilets really empty into the lake?
Don't the merpeople object?
How did the Chamber
of Secrets' entrance, constructed almost a thousand years ago, get hidden
inside modern plumbing?
The most reasonable explanation for this phenomenon is that Hogwarts castle
adjusts over the years to changes in technology and architecture. After
all, castles of the large stone variety weren't being built anywhere in
Britain a thousand years ago, meaning that Hogwarts probably started life
looking quite a bit different than it looks now. So the Chamber, in the
tradition of the staircases which lead somewhere different on different
days and the disappearing chamber pot room, probably adjusted its entrance
to fit the form of the magical castle to which it connects.
Has Neville ever learned to ride a broomstick?
What does Madam
Hooch do with all her spare time when that one first-year flying lesson
of the year is done?
We don't know how many flying lessons are given to first-year students. We
just happen to have seen only one; there may be more.
We know that Madam Hooch acts as referee for most of the Quidditch Cup matches
held at Hogwarts (SS, CS, PA, OP), and at least occasionally oversees House
team practices (PA).
What's up with
that "gleam of triumph" in Dumbledore's eye when he
heard that Voldemort had used Harry's blood in his rebirthing ceremony?
Does that mean Dumbledore is really evil?
did Arthur and Molly Weasley attend Hogwarts?
going to end up in love with whom?
did just having that Tournament mean no one got to play Quidditch for an
the Triwizard Tournament, why was everyone
so excited to go watch the second and third tasks? Why were there even
stands set up? They couldn't see what was going on under that Lake (we
know this since Mercus has to explain to Dumbledore what transpired), nor
could they see into the maze, or Moody wouldn't have been able to manipulate
events without everyone knowing. So what did the crowd do the whole time?
And for this they gave up Quidditch?
which years is all this happening?
Why did Fred and George never notice Peter Pettigrew
on the Marauder's Map when he was disguised as Scabbers?
on the Marauder's Map.
In the nature of things, the twins would be using the Map outside class hours,
at night, while sneaking around outside Gryffindor Tower. They'd be on
the watch for anyone hanging around where they currently were and where
they planned to go, not for anyone or anything safely tucked up in Gryffindor
Tower for the night.
until Ron's first year, when Percy first became a prefect, Scabbers was
Percy's pet rat. Percy is noted for rigidly following rules, and probably
wouldn't be out after curfew. He'd be out of the twins' way, in Gryffindor
Tower, and Scabbers likewise. The twins would have had no reason to seek
Percy out on the map.
the Marauder's Map, how can it show all the rooms and passages in that
three-dimensional castle on a two-dimensional piece of parchment?
age is given as being "665 last year" in an old book, doesn't that mean
that he is really much older than that now? Assuming the book was a hundred
years old, Flamel would be 766 now, not 666, right?
that the Nicolas Flamel of the Harry Potter universe is in any way similar
to the Flamel of the real world, there is no conceivable way to rectify
the dates of his birth and the age given in the old book Hermione discovers.
However, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this discrepency.
It is clear that the pictures in books are not the only things that move
and change. The text must update itself as well, so as the years go by
the age given by the book would change accordingly.
Are all the
Slytherins nasty and ugly? Do they all turn into Dark Wizards? Then
what happens if you're sorted into Slytherin but you're NOT evil? Are you
just out of luck?
What's the story of the Bloody Baron and why is he able to control Peeves?
It says that
"There wasn't a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't from Slytherin."
So that must mean that Peter Pettigrew was in Slytherin, right?
It is true that Hagrid does say this, but Hagrid is not stating a fact,
he's exaggerating because of his dislike for Slytherin house. Certainly
many of the evil wizards and witches did come from Slytherin, a house whose
philosophy seems to embrace the Dark Arts and evil more than any other.
And we know that Snape, while a student at Hogwarts, hung around with a
group that all became Death Eaters. But it isn't logical for the story
for all the evil folks to come from one house. After all, Sirius is still
assumed to be evil by most in the Wizarding World, but he's a Gryffindor.
What was Professor Trelawney's FIRST correct prediction?
Why did Voldemort consider it so important to kill Harry?
Why did Voldemort seem reluctant to kill Lily?
How did Sirius
order that Firebolt without giving himself away? How did he get the money
out of his vault? And for that matter, how did Mrs. Weasley get money out
of Harry's vault?
How did Crouch
Jr. learn all that powerful magic when he went to Azkaban as a very young
man and spent the years after he escaped under the Imperius Curse? Yet
he could fool the Goblet of Fire and out-duel Mad-Eye Moody?
And since we're
on the subject of "not enough time," when did Crouch Jr. or Voldemort find
time to create Polyjuice Potion to allow Crouch to impersonate Moody? It
takes at least a month to prepare the ingredients and brew that potion,
according to CS.
the directions for brewing the potion. It does not take a month per se;
one of the ingredients has to be gathered depending on the phase of the
moon, and the timing was apparently at its most awkward when Harry, Ron,
and Hermione were about to brew theirs, so they had to wait the longest
possible time. The stewed lacewing flies are the most time-critical element,
since they take three weeks regardless of when one begins work on them.
possibility is that pre-prepared potion ingredients can be bought on the
open market, for example, pre-stewed lacewing flies. Hogwarts students
would not be able to do this (for one thing, they need to learn to do it
themselves, so they don't have access), but adult wizards and witches can
Another possibility is that Wormtail began preparing Polyjuice Potion as soon as
he and his master returned to Britain,
just without adding the bit-of-the-person-to-turn-into
until the last step. Apart from the fact that Pettigrew couldn't risk showing
his own face much in wizarding Britain, by that time the two had already
questioned Bertha Jorkins and the plan to impersonate Moody may already
have been hatched. Polyjuice Potion was bound to be useful no matter what.
Where do the
female prefects bathe? And does the mermaid on the wall watch people as
they take baths?
between Snape and Dumbledore that makes Albus trust him so much? What is
his second chance? What happened to the first?
happened on November 1, Y1, to keep Harry and Hagrid busy until evening?
Where were they? Where did Hagrid see McGonagall to tell her that Dumbledore
would turn up on Privet Drive?
We see from Harry's boggart that turned into a dementor
that boggarts inherit the characteristics
and magical powers of the form it takes or imitates (the dementor made
the room icy cold...). So when Lupin faced it and it changed into a moon,
why didn't he automatically change into a werewolf?
the Triwizard Cup into a Portkey? Wouldn't it have been easier for Moody
to just change something else--a book, for example--and get Harry to touch
it at some point? Why all the elaborate charade with entering Harry into
the Triwizard Tournament, helping him to win, etc.?
In PS16, it says that
Fluffy wakes up when the music stops, and falls asleep only when
music is played. Did Fluffy stay up all of the five months that nobody
went into third corridor? Was an ancient magic invoked so that Fluffy could
stay awake for so long?
If Voldemort considered it so important to kill Harry,
why did he offer to have Harry to join him in
When Mrs. Weasley
went into her vault at Gringotts, there was only one galleon and a few
sickles. By looking at the back of Quidditch through the Ages or
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,
we see that something that costs 14 sickles and 3 knuts equals 4 dollars.
OK, so at that rate, the entire Weasleys'
fortune would be a grand total of around 10 dollars. They can't afford
books for Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, and Percy with that! Heck, they can't
even afford three books total!
What did Dumbledore learn when he consulted the silver instrument
in his office in OP22 -
the one that emitted a coil of smoke in the shape of a serpent?
Notes on this page
really two types of puzzles in the Harry Potter books. One type is the
unanswered questions which are probably plot points to be answered later
in the series. These types of mysteries engender all kinds of speculation
and discussion, but will not be answered until the rest of the books are
The other type
of puzzle is the inconsistency, the (usually) minor error in continuity
which is almost unavoidable in a complex and detailed series of books such
as this. Inconsistencies, unlike unanswered questions, will probably not
be solved by future books. They're just mistakes, and that's the way it
is. Some of these happen in an earlier book because when she wrote it,
Rowling hadn't invented some detail which appears in a later book. Other
such errors come from the fact that some element of a book, such as the
Marauder's Map, has powers which Rowling may not have considered fully.
The question of why Peter didn't show up on the map when Fred and George
had it may fall into that category (but see
on the Marauder's Map for other possibilities).
puzzle that appears to fall into one category may at any point be shifted
into the other category. An excellent example is Apparition, which doesn't
appear until book two. In book one, Dumbledore flew to London, apparently
on a broomstick, which seemed silly when he could certainly have Apparated
instead. In OP, however, we learned that Dumbledore actually flew by thestral,
and the question became a clever clue, not a mistake at all.
It is a long-standing
and honored tradition among fans of books, movies, and television shows
to invent plausible explanations for these errors. Folks have been doing
this for Star Trek since the early days of fandom, back in the 1970s. These
explanations are not canon, of course. But working this sort of thing out
is a work of fan fiction which attempts to validate the series a little
more. It's a form of respect and affection for the material, and is not
meant to criticize or demean the original at all. If it bothers you to
see this kind of nit-picking, by all means browse on to another page of
the Lexicon. But if you're like most fans, you'll find the explanations
and speculations about the mysteries and puzzles of the Harry Potter series
to be delightful reading.