For many years, fans spent most of their time online trying to figure out the mysteries in the Harry Potter books. In fact, the Lexicon was born out of those discussions back in 1998, when the group Harry Potter for Grown Ups was a hotbed of theorizing and hypothesizing. Back then, there was no central reference for all the details and facts in the books, so I created one. That resource became the Harry Potter Lexicon, dedicated to cataloging and making accessible the “facts” of the books in the swirling sea of Potter theories and fan fiction. Before the Lexicon, there were often discussions where “proof” of one idea or another turned out to actually be fan theories from another discussion or from a fanfiction story.
Over the years, most of those mysteries that kept our fingers flying over our keyboards have been resolved, either in the books or in Rowling’s comments and interviews. There are actually very few real mysteries left. Trouble is, Rowling’s explanations came so long ago that many current fans have no idea that they are speculating on something which isn’t actually a mystery at all. Now that Rowling’s original website is gone, along with its FAQ section, those explanations aren’t even easily accessible to the average fan.
I think it’s time to start addressing some of these Non-Mysteries, giving links to the original comments by Rowling, many of which can still be found in the Internet Archives. Who knows, that might be a great topic for the next podcast. But I’ll start with this one:
Why didn’t Fred and George notice Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder’s Map?
Here’s Rowling’s response, from the FAQ section of the original website:
“It would not have mattered if they had. Unless somebody was very familiar with the story of Sirius Black (and after all, Sirius was not Mr. and Mrs. Weasley’s best friend – indeed, they never knew him until after he escaped from Azkaban), Fred and George would be unlikely to know or remember that Peter Pettigrew was the person Sirius had (supposedly) murdered. Even if Fred and George HAD heard the story at some point, why would they assume that the ‘Peter Pettigrew’ they occasionally saw moving around the map was, in fact, the man murdered years before?
“Fred and George used the map for their own mischief-making, so they concentrated, naturally enough, on those portions of the map where they were planning their next misdeeds. And finally, you must not forget that hundreds of little dots are moving around this map at any given time… Fred and George did not know everyone in school by name, so a single unfamiliar name was unlikely to stand out.”