"From the prequel I am not working on -- but that was fun!"
--- J.K. Rowling
In the spring of 2008, J K Rowling wrote an 800-word short short story to be auctioned off for charity.
The story has come to be known as the Harry Potter Prequel, since the story tells of an adventure shared by James Potter and Sirius Black as they tangle with three Death Eaters and terrify two Muggle police officers.
The story is told from the point of view of Sergeant Fisher, an overweight police officer who, along with his partner, PC Anderson, corner two boys on a motorbike in an alley. While they try to get some information from the boys only to be met by good-natured jokes, the officers are stunned to see three men flying down the alley toward them on broomsticks. The boys use magic to lift the police car into the air and the men on brooms crash into the levitating car. With a wave, the boys fly off on their motorcycle.
Calendar and Dates
According to Rowling's announcement of the prequel on her website (no longer accessible), "the action takes place around 3 years before Harry is born." That places the story in 1977, when James and Sirius were in their seventh year at Hogwarts.
Interesting facts and notes
James and Sirius are wearing Order of the Phoenix t-shirts.
Of the names rattled off by James and Sirius, Elvendork has become particularly popular with fans, perhaps because James seems particularly fond of it, going out of his way to mention that it's a unisex name. Of the three names mentioned (the other two being Wilberforce and Bathsheba), Elvendork is the only one that Rowling invented. Wilberforce is the last name of a famous British politician and opponent of the slave trade. Bathsheba was one of the wives of King David of Israel and the mother of Solomon.
Exceptional character moments
James and Sirius seem completely undeterred by the fact that they're using magic in front of Muggles.
“Names?” repeated the long-haired driver. “Er-Well, let’s see. There’s Wilberforce … Bathsheba … Elvendork …”
“Drumsticks?” jeered Anderson. “Right pair of jokers, aren’t you?”
“Thanks very much!” called Sirius over the throb of the engine. “We owe you one!”
“Yeah, nice meeting you!” said James. “And don’t forget: Elvendork! It’s unisex!”
The Harry Potter Prequel
From the Web
Mugglenet: James & Sirius Prequel
Old JKR website: Comments by Rowling about the prequel story
Bloomberg: News story about the auction
The Telegraph: Story about the auction
Harry Potter Wiki: Untitled charity auction story