Missing 24 Hours and the Wand Order mystery
"It was me what
rescued Harry from Lily an' James's house after they was killed! Jus' got
him outta the ruins, poor little thing, with a great slash across his forehead,
'an his parents dead...an' Sirius Black turns up, on that flying' motorbike
he used to ride. Never occurred to me what he was doin' there..."
-- Rubeus Hagrid
According to JKR (Diane Rehm show, 10/20/99), "Voldemort killed James and
Lily, then tried to kill Harry." This is clearly what she intends. It is
not, however, what it actually says in the books. This page discusses what
the actual text states and what that would mean. Clearly, JKR doesn't intend
this to be the way the story goes. But this IS the way it's written. Also,
yes, I am well aware of the fact that JKR has confirmed many months ago
in an email that "Lily came out first." I, like many fans, don't like the
messy way this mistake was "fixed," but that mystery is clearly solved.
Many questions remain, however...
did really happen?
So what really happened that Halloween
in 1981? What was the order of events? Who was present? Who died and when?
It is very difficult to answer these questions based on what we read in
the books. We hear the official story from Voldemort himself, the version
that everyone in the Wizarding community has accepted since that day, but
since there are no witnesses that we know of, this is all assumptions.
Voldemort assumes that he killed James and Lily, of course, and Harry assumes
that the voices he hears when the Dementors are around are those of his
parents. But we don't know for sure.
The evidence that we do have from
the Priori Incantatem suggests that James
and Lily were killed using Voldemort's wand AFTER Voldemort attacked Harry.
After all, the last nine spells that wand cast included the ones that killed
the Potters but DID NOT INCLUDE THE ONE THAT ATTACKED HARRY AND REBOUNDED
ONTO VOLDEMORT. This mystery still remains, no matter in which order Lily
and James came out of the wand. Who, if Voldemort was unable to cast a
spell, killed James and Lily Potter?
Along with all that, another mystery
confronts us: there does seem to be quite a chunk of time missing in the
story. What happened AFTER Voldemort attacked Harry and before Hagrid turned
up in Privet Drive a day later? The fact of the matter is that we just
don't know. All we do know is that twenty-four hours after Voldemort showed
up in Godric's Hollow, Hagrid brough the infant Harry Potter to Privet
Drive, where McGonagall and Dumbledore were waiting. During that time,
Sirius Black caught up with Pettigrew in a Muggle street with disasterous
results (surprisingly, we don't hear mention of this on the Muggle news
that night--"Fourteen Killed in Gas Main Explosion!"--but then we don't
hear the whole broadcast).
Here's a timeline
of those events as far as we can discern them. The facts as stated in the
books are written on this timeline in black, with some commentary written
Fidelius Charm is performed to hide the Potters from Voldemort. At the
last minute, Peter Pettigrew is chosen to be their Secret Keeper instead
of Sirius Black. No one besides the Potters and Sirius Black knows of the
who has been told of the whereabouts of James and Lily Potter by Wormtail,
comes to Godric's Hollow and to their house. It is evening. The house is
destroyed at some point in the following, but we don't know when or how.
is met at the door by someone - a man who looks like James Potter - who
cries out to a woman that Voldemort is here and that he will hold him off.
We do not know the outcome of this duel. (We
are not told in the book the outcome of this battle, although the assumption
is that James was killed by Voldemort)
woman runs away with Harry but Voldemort catches up with her. He
tells her to step aside, but she insists on shielding Harry. The woman
was almost certainly Lily Potter.
attempts to kill Harry Potter, but the spell backfires and the Dark Lord
is hit. He is barely alive and his body is gone. He flees. (This
spell never comes out of the wand, so we know that the spells that DO come
out must have happened after this.)
uses Voldemort's wand to kill first Lily, then James Potter. We do not
know how soon after Voldemort's defeat this occurred. (Because
of the objective record we have of spells cast by Voldemort's wand, we
do know that Voldemort was in no condition to have cast these spells at
this time. That leaves us wondering who killed James and Lily?)
goes to Godric's Hollow and rescues Harry from the ruins of his parents'
house before the Muggle officials arrive. He meets Sirius Black there and
comforts him. Sirius gives Hagrid his flying motorcycle.
Wizarding Community begins to celebrate the downfall of Voldemort. They
take to the streets, even though they are noticed by Muggles in their non-Muggle
clothing, and owls fly everywhere as word spreads.
McGonangall encounters Hagrid early in the morning. He does not have Harry
with him any more, apparently. Hagrid tells her very little of what's happened;
all he tells her is that Dumbledore will be going to Number 4 Privet Drive
later that day. She is not even informed at this point what the signifigance
of that address is, since she is shocked later to discover that Dumbledore
intends to leave Harry there and is not aware that those horrible Muggles
are Harry's relatives. Hagrid also does not tell her that James and Lily
were killed. She goes to Privet Drive quite early in the day in the form
of a tabby cat and waits on a stone garden wall. Celebrations continue
all day. She waits there until almost midnight
Pettigrew flees, pursued by Sirius Black. He is cornered in a Muggle street.
Pettigrew puts his escape plan into action, shouting out so Muggles could
hear "Lily and James, Sirius! How could you?" and then blasting a hole
deep enough to crack open the sewer. Pettigrew turns into a rat and escapes
into the sewer, leaving his finger behind. Sirius is blamed for betraying
the Potters and for murdering Pettigrew and a bunch of Muggles.
Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Catastrophies is first on
the scene. His name is Cornelius Fudge. Twenty members of the Magical Enforcement
Squad take Sirius Black into custody while Fudge sets about modifying memories
of the witnesses.
WHEREABOUTS OF HAGRID AND HARRY POTTER ALL DAY ARE NOT KNOWN.
at midnight, Dumbledore arrives in Privet Drive. He meets McGonagall and
then greets Hagrid, who flies in on Sirius Black's motorcycle. He hands
Harry over to Dumbledore to put on the Dursley's front step.
leaves to bring Black his motorcycle back, apparently unaware that Sirius
has been arrested.
We do have solid evidence
in the form of the Priori Incantatem that Voldemort's wand cast certain
spells and in a certain order. We do not know which wizard cast the spells,
but assuming that Voldemort used this wand in the fateful attack on Harry
Potter, we do know some of these that HE DID NOT CAST because he was incorporeal
at the time and barely alive. Here's the list in reverse chronological
order, along with who cast the spell and when:
We can guess what the
next spells out of the wand would have been if Harry had kept up the Priori
Incantatem effect. Here's what we would likely have seen:
Cruciatus Curse cast on
Harry by Voldemort a few moments before (comes out as screams), June 24,
conjuring of a magical
hand to replace the one Wormtail cut off, cast by Voldemort after regaining
his full body, June 24, 1995
Cruciatus Curse cast by
Voldemort on Avery, June 24, 1995
the murder of Cedric Diggory
with the Killing Curse, cast by Wormtail on Voldemort's command, June 24,
Cruciatus Curse cast on
Wormtail, witnessed by Harry in his dream, cast by Voldemort, exact date
unknown, but somewhere around the last week of May, 1995
the murder of Frank Bryce
with the Killing Curse on the evening of August 20, 1994, cast by Voldemort
in his "ugly baby" form, from his chair in the Riddle House
the murder of Bertha Jorkins,
exact spell inknown, cast by Voldemort, summer of 1994, some time before
the murder of James Potter,
exact spell unknown, apparently cast by someone other than Voldemort and
probably NOT at his direct command, on the evening of or sometime after
October 31, 1981.
the murder of Lily Potter,
exact spell unknown, also apparently cast by someone other than Voldemort
and probably not at his direct command, also on the evening of or sometime
after October 31, 1981.
the attempted murder of
Harry Potter, a Killing Curse cast by Voldemort on the evening of October
a spell or spells
cast against the people in the house in Godric's Hollow who tried to protect
Harry, cast by Voldemort. If these people were in fact James and Lily,
they were not killed at this time.