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Harry Potter: Magic Lessons

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Don’t know a Remembrall from a Rembrandt? Or You-Know-Who from your You-Know-What? Peruse these Harry Potter talking points, ideal for when you’re standing in line to see the movie a second time. A word of warning: Only a Muggle would give away plot details to the unwitting, so skip these if you want everything to be a surprise.

Why does Snape save Harry? And why would Snape’s leg have been torn up by Fluffy if he wasn’t really going after the stone?
At the end of the book, Dumbledore informs Harry that while his late father and his current potions professor hated each other, James Potter once saved Snape’s life. So his efforts to help Harry on the Quidditch pitch were long-delayed payback. And as for the leg, it was Fluffy’s handiwork—Snape rushed to the third floor to head off Quirrell when the troll was set loose, and got a nasty bite for his trouble.

Is Lord Voldemort really done for?
What, and kill the franchise? Aficionados know it’s wise to agree with Dumbledore—he’s not done. By book 4, You-Know-Who is back in human form and rallying his supporters, the Death Eaters. Harry gets an up-close-and-personal look at their ranks— which are dedicated haters of ”mudbloods” (Muggle-born witches and wizards). You can tell Death Eaters by the marks of Voldemort on their forearms: a skull with a serpent tongue. And would it surprise anyone to know that the Malfoys are major Voldemort confederates?

In the U.S., it’s called the Sorcerer’s Stone. In the U.K. and Canada it’s the Philosopher’s Stone. What gives?
Here’s some Harry 101: When Scholastic bought the U.S. rights to the first book, it altered the title, along with some language. Thus, our brothers to the north and sisters overseas have always known the sorcerer’s stone by a different name. To keep things consistent, Columbus shot two versions of every scene where the stone is mentioned—and the film itself is called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in several English-speaking countries outside the U.S.

Just how many Weasley kids are there?
There’s Ron, of course, the second-youngest. His oldest brothers are Hogwarts grads: Bill works at a Gringotts branch office, and Charlie is studying dragons in Romania. Currently at Hogwarts are Percy, the Gryffindor prefect, and the Quidditch-playing twins Fred and George. But the Weasley to watch out for is Ginny, seen briefly in Stone, who in Chamber of Secrets develops a dangerous crush on Harry.

Wondering why Hogwarts’ loose-lipped gamekeeper is so protective of the school’s headmaster?
Here’s the background: Hagrid once was a student at Hogwarts but was expelled his third year. He’s been barred from performing magic ever since (which is why he asks Harry not to tell anyone about Dudley’s tail). Dumbledore gave Hagrid his job, for reasons not yet explained. But in Goblet of Fire, we learn that Dumbledore is protecting one of Hagrid’s darkest secrets: His mother was a giant. That’s not good: Giants are an extinct race known for their brutality—and their allegiance to Voldemort.

Isn’t Ron’s pet rat a riot?
For now, maybe. Ron’s rodent Scabbers will continue to be a cute little accessory in Chamber of Secrets. But in book 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we learn that there’s much more to this sickly little rat than meets the eye. In truth, Scabbers is actually the transfigured form of Peter Pettigrew, an old Hogwarts chum of Harry’s father. It was Pettigrew who betrayed James to Voldemort, a crime that was pinned on Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, who in book 3 escapes from the Azkaban prison to protect the younger Potter from Scabbers/Pettigrew’s machinations. Got it?

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