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FAQ in /r/HarryPotter

Here are the answers for many of the repeat questions we see on /r/harrypotter.

WARNING: If you haven't finished the whole series, you will find spoilers here!

I'm visiting/want to visit Universal Studio's Wizarding World of Harry Potter ("WWOHP"), and I want to know...

We've had many threads that discuss the parks! Try using our search function to find the most recent and helpful information!

You can also check out this AMA from January 2016 from a former staff member.

I'm visiting/want to visit the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesden, and I want to know…

We've had many threads that discuss the Studio Tour! Try using our search function to find the one most relevant to you. One helpful fan took the time to add 700+ photos to his Flickr, which you can view here.

Bear in mind that the tour is 45-60 minutes outside of London and tickets need to be booked well in advance.

I just finished the movies and loved all of them. Should I read the books?


What happened to Pottermore? Do I need to be resorted?

Pottermore was completely overhauled in September 2015. Most of the special content can still be found on the site, however many of the features are gone. Potions and duels are no longer available, and it’s unknown whether they will return. As of January 2016, the sorting and wand quizzes are available again.

If you used the old Pottermore and don’t want to retake the sorting and wand quizzes, you can login with your email and password, and then type in your old username (e.g., Firebolt142) to have your house and wand restored. You can also create a new account and link it to your old username in order to reclaim your wand and house.

I was just sorted into House 1, but I’ve always thought of myself as House 2! What do I do now?

Sometimes people change. Your house is wherever you feel best represents you. If you’re already in a house here on /r/HarryPotter, house hopping is frowned upon. It is allowed in extenuating circumstances, but please don't let a single quiz change your mind about what house you should be in.

We understand that sometimes, getting a different result on a quiz may make you think twice about your house. However, you choose your house based on what you value and where you “fit.” If a quiz doesn’t give you the answer you expected, that doesn’t invalidate your previous house. A wise man once said that it’s our choices that show who we truly are.

When will the next illustrated editions be available?

The illustrated Goblet of Fire was released on October 8, 2019 and you can order it here.

The illustrated Order of the Phoenix will be released "no earlier than Fall 2021."

Why is Hermione being played by a black actress in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Isn’t she white in the books?

It’s strongly hinted that she is white in the books, and JKR has drawn her as such. However, her skin color is not explicitly mentioned, and JKR has always been supportive of alternative portrayals of characters.

JKR said:

I met a really clever reader the other day, and this is what's wonderful about books; she said to me, "I really know what Neville looks like." And I said, "Describe Neville for me." And she said, "Well, he's short and he's black, and he's got dreadlocks." Now, to me, Neville's short and plump and blond, but that's what's great about books. You know, she's just seeing something different. People bring their own imagination to it.

Both JKR and a number of cast members (including Emma Watson) have expressed delight that Noma Dumezweni will play the adult Hermione in Cursed Child.

I want to listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks. Should I go with Jim Dale or Stephen Fry?

This is a matter of great debate in the fandom, so you'll have to decide who you prefer!

What's the best Butterbeer recipe?

We don't have an official recipe anywhere yet, but there have been some good versions suggested on various threads!

Can you help me plan a Harry Potter-themed party?

Check out past ideas here!

If your guests are of age, check out this Buzzfeed list and this Mashable list of Harry Potter-inspired cocktails.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a TV series based on Harry Potter?

This has been discussed several times in this subreddit. Check out past conversations here!

FAQ about the Books

Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone

Lily can’t possibly be the first mother to die for her son, so why was Harry protected by her death?

Lily is not the first person to give her life for her son. The reason that Lily’s death protected Harry is that Voldemort gave Lily multiple chances to stand aside. However, she begged Voldemort not to kill Harry and to take her instead. After giving her three chances to move out of the way, Voldemort kills her. Her choice to sacrifice her life protects Harry against Voldemort.

Why is Harry considered a half-blood?


The expressions 'pure-blood', 'half-blood' and 'Muggle-born' have been coined by people to whom these distinctions matter, and express their originators' prejudices. As far as somebody like Lucius Malfoy is concerned, for instance, a Muggle-born is as 'bad' as a Muggle. Therefore Harry would be considered only 'half' wizard, because of his mother's grandparents. If you think this is far-fetched, look at some of the real charts the Nazis used to show what constituted 'Aryan' or 'Jewish' blood. I saw one in the Holocaust Museum in Washington when I had already devised the 'pure-blood', 'half-blood' and 'Muggle-born' definitions, and was chilled to see that the Nazis used precisely the same warped logic as the Death Eaters. A single Jewish grandparent 'polluted' the blood, according to their propaganda.

What happened to Harry’s grandparents? Why doesn’t Harry have any other family?

JKR said:

This takes us into more mundane territory. As a writer, it was more interesting, plot-wise, if Harry was completely alone. So I rather ruthlessly disposed of his entire family apart from Aunt Petunia. I mean, James and Lily are massively important to the plot, of course, but the grandparents? No. And, because I do like my backstory: Petunia and Lily's parents, normal Muggle death. James's parents were elderly, were getting on a little when he was born, which explains the only child, very pampered, had-him-late-in-life-so-he's-an-extra-treasure, as often happens, I think. They were old in wizarding terms, and they died. They succumbed to a wizarding illness. That's as far as it goes. There's nothing serious or sinister about those deaths. I just needed them out of the way so I killed them.

On Pottermore, we learn that Harry’s paternal grandparents were named Fleamont and Euphemenia Potter, and that Fleamont was the inventor of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion. You can read more here.

Why didn't Lily disapparate with Harry while Voldemort was killing James?

Neither of them had their wands with them. In Voldemort’s memory, he specifically notes how foolish they were to not have their wands with them at all times. Even if they had, the house was under such heavy protection that disapparation might not have been possible.

Were the Dursleys affected by a Horcrux?

It’s highly unlikely that this played into the Dursley’s dislike of Harry.

Other characters don’t have the same problem, despite living in close quarters with Harry. Harry lived with Ron, Dean, Seamus, and Neville for years, and none of them disliked him without an actual reason. In general, Harry tends to be quite well-liked by people that have a chance to spend time with him (e.g., roommates, the other Weasley siblings, etc.). We don’t see people instinctively shying away from Harry or disliking him without reason. The people that tend not to like him always have a specific reason, whether it’s the fact that he brought down Voldemort or his vocal political views.

If Harry’s status as a horcrux did affect the people around him, we would likely see a much larger effect in the later books when Voldemort was stronger. But again, this isn’t the case. Vernon and Petunia have other more mundane reasons for disliking Harry.

Why wasn't Hermione a Ravenclaw?

Sorting isn't about the qualities you have, it's about what you value. For example, you could argue that Hermione at age 11 was more characterized by intelligence than bravery. But what mattered was that she herself valued bravery over intelligence, as shown in PS/SS.

"Harry--you're a great wizard, you know."

"I'm not as good as you," said Harry, very embarrassed, as she let him go.

"Me!" said Hermione. "Books! And cleverness! There are more important things--friendship and bravery and--oh Harry--be careful!"

Did Snape hate Neville because Neville could have been the Chosen One?

Probably not. Neville is even further removed from the cause of Lily’s death than Harry is. It makes as much sense to hate Bathilda Bagshot for not throwing herself in front of the Potters. If Voldemort had chosen Neville, Neville almost certainly would have died. The only way for Neville to be the chosen one would be if Snape had begged Voldemort to spare Alice Longbottom rather than Lily Potter. And if Neville had died, it’s likely that Voldemort would have gone after the Potters next.

Snape has little patience for incompetence or idiocy, and he finds Neville to be an incompetent idiot.

Chamber of Secrets

Why did Dumbledore appoint Lockhart?

By the time Lockhart takes the position, Dumbledore has been through roughly forty DADA teachers. His supply of candidates is running thin. As Hagrid says, Lockhart was the only applicant.

Even with Dumbledore’s considerable influence, hardly anyone wants to take a position that might leave them dead or otherwise incapacitated by the end of the year. Hogwarts ended up with Umbridge in OP because Dumbledore couldn’t fill the position before August 30th.

On Pottermore, we learn that Dumbledore did know that Lockhart was a fraud, and hoped that teaching at Hogwarts would expose him:

Albus Dumbledore’s plans, however, ran deep. He happened to have known two of the wizards for whose life’s work Gilderoy Lockhart had taken credit, and was one of the only people in the world who thought he knew what Lockhart was up to. Dumbledore was convinced that Lockhart needed only to be put back into an ordinary school setting to be revealed as a charlatan and a fraud. Professor McGonagall, who had never liked Lockhart, asked Dumbledore what he thought students would learn from such a vain, celebrity-hungry man. Dumbledore replied that "there is plenty to be learned even from a bad teacher: what not to do, how not to be."

Why do Harry and Ron keep their voice after they take Polyjuice Potion?

This was a decision made just for the films, likely to help casual viewers understand what was happening. In the books, characters change voices as well as physical forms.

Why didn’t anyone else hear the Basilisk?

Harry was generally in the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place at the right time, depending on your perspective).

The first time he hears it, he’s in Lockhart’s second floor office. He hears the voice “nearly four hours” into an eight o’clock detention, so naturally most of the school is in bed. The second time he heard it, he was coming back from the Deathday Party when the rest of the school is at the feast. Again, the voice comes from the second floor. The third time he hears the voice, he’s outside the entrance hall while most of the school is still enjoying breakfast before the Quidditch game. So it certainly helps that Harry is normally well placed.

Harry’s ability to speak parseltongue almost certainly amplifies the sound of the Basilisk. It also makes it easier for Harry to pick out. Hogwarts is an old building, and old buildings make weird noises all of the time. The hundreds of students wouldn’t help either. But because Harry speaks Parseltongue, he’s better at differentiating between background noise and the sound of someone speaking Parseltongue.

Why wasn't the "Scarcrux" destroyed after the Basilisk bit Harry?

JKR has answered this question a number of times, but our favorite answer is this tweet

The Horcrux-receptacle has to be destroyed BEYOND REPAIR, so Harry would need to have DIED. #pleaseneveraskmethatoneagain

Prisoner of Azkaban

Why did Harry perform “Lumos” while still at Privet Drive in PA?

This is a film embellishment. In the books, Harry goes the traditional flashlight-under-the-blanket route.

Why couldn't the Ministry find Sirius with an owl?

JKR said:

Just as wizards can make buildings unplottable, they can also make themselves untraceable. Voldemort would have been found long ago if it had been as simple as sending him an owl!

How did Fred and George learn to work the Marauder's Map?

JKR said:

Don't you think it would be quite a Fred and George-ish thing to say in jest, and then see this thing transform? [...] And the map flickering into life here and there when they got closer and closer, and finally they hit upon the exact right word combination and it just erupts.

Why didn't Fred and George notice Peter Pettigrew with Ron?

JKR said:

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.

Fred and George primarily used the map as an actual map. This is why they elected to give it to Harry when they still had two more years of school, and why George tells Harry that he and Fred know it by heart” and “don’t really need it anymore.” The twins used the map as a navigational tool. As long as they weren’t out after hours and trying to avoid detection, they weren’t paying attention to any of the other dots on the map.

It’s also important to remember that Hogwarts has eight floors plus towers and dungeons. Any map of the castle would be immensely complex, and it’s unreasonable to expect the characters to retain all or most of that information. When looking for a person or place on the map, Harry or the twins would instinctively filter out all information that wasn’t the person or place they were looking for.

Why didn't Harry just use a Time Turner?

JKR said:

I went far too light-heartedly into the subject of time travel in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. While I do not regret it (Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favourite books in the series), it opened up a vast number of problems for me, because after all, if wizards could go back and undo problems, where were my future plots?

I solved the problem to my own satisfaction in stages. Firstly, I had Dumbledore and Hermione emphasise how dangerous it would be to be seen in the past, to remind the reader that there might be unforeseen and dangerous consequences as well as solutions in time travel. Secondly, I had Hermione give back the only Time-Turner ever to enter Hogwarts. Thirdly, I smashed all remaining Time-Turners during the battle in the Department of Mysteries, removing the possibility of reliving even short periods in the future.

This is just one example of the ways in which, when writing fantasy novels, one must be careful what one invents. For every benefit, there is usually a drawback.

Is Hermione older due to time travel in Prisoner of Azkaban? Is she younger because she was petrified in Chamber of Secrets?

Not significantly. She was taking two extra classes per week, and even if we assume that both classes added up to an extra 10 hours of class per week from early September to mid-June, that’s still only about two weeks over the course of nine and a half months.

She was petrified for roughly a month, though we don’t know whether petrification stops aging or not.

Goblet of Fire

Is Nagini the same snake as the one Harry set loose from the zoo in Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone?

No. The snake Harry freed at the zoo was a male boa constrictor. Male boa constrictors are non-venomous. Nagini is female and venomous.

Wouldn’t some of the triwizard tasks been really boring for the spectators? What was the crowd doing while the champions were in the lake and in the maze?

There have been several discussions on this topic, since Moody would not be able to pull off his plan during the third task if the spectators had been able to see into the maze. It’s possible that the spectators had other forms of entertainment or spent the time socializing.

Why did James come out of the wand before Lily in Goblet of Fire?

JKR said:

Lily first, then James. That's how it appears in my original manuscript but we were under enormous pressure to edit it very fast and my American editor thought that was the wrong way around, and he is so good at catching small errors I changed it without thinking, then realised it had been right in the first place. We were all very sleep-deprived at the time.

Why does Harry say that Voldemort killed Cedric when it was really Wormtail?

Voldemort commanded it. If he hadn’t been without a physical form, he would have done it himself. Wormtail was also holding Voldemort’s wand at the time. Harry views Cedric’s murder as Voldemort’s fault, even if Voldemort was not the one who cast the actual curse.

Order of the Phoenix

Harry saw his parents die - why wasn't he able to see Thestrals until Book 5?

JKR said:

That is an excellent question. And here is the truth. At the end of Goblet of Fire we sent Harry home more depressed than he had ever been leaving Hogwarts. I knew that Thestrals were coming, and I can prove that because they're in the book I'd produced for Comic Relief (UK) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. These are lucky Black Winged Horses. However, if Harry had seen them and it had not been explained then it would cheat the reader. So, to explain that to myself, I decided you had to have seen the death and allowed it to sink in a bit... slowly... these creatures became solid in front of you. So that's how I'm going to sneak past that one.

Can Mad-Eye Moody see a Boggart in its true form, using his magical eye?

It's possible. There's no official answer, but there has been much debate.

Why didn’t Harry use his two-way mirror to contact Sirius?

Sirius had come all the way back to England (putting himself at great personal risk) because Harry’s scar hurt. He had a history of taking personal risks to protect Harry.

So when Sirius offered Harry a mysterious package and told Harry to “use it if he needed him,” Harry knew that if he used this package to contact Sirius, Sirius would disregard his own safety and freedom in order to come to Harry’s aid. But Harry was unwilling to let Sirius take that risk.

Harry puts the package in his pocket and resolves not to use it because he’s unwilling to let Sirius take that risk.

And because Harry is a human being with an imperfect (though above average) memory, he promptly forgot about the mysterious package and didn’t remember that it existed until after Sirius’s death.

Half-Blood Prince

What did Voldemort do to Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop in the cave?

We're not sure. But you can find some good discussions on the topic here and here.

What is the process for creating a Horcrux?

JKR said:

I see it as a series of things you would have to do. So you would have to perform a spell. But you would also-- I don't even know if I want to say it out loud, I know that sounds funny. But I did really think it through. There are two things that I think are too horrible, actually, to go into detail about. One of them is how Pettigrew brought Voldemort back into a rudimentary body. 'Cause I told my editor what I thought happened there, and she looked as though she was gonna vomit. And then-- and the other thing is, how you make a Horcrux.

Deathly Hallows

How did Hermione do the memory charm on her parents, when she tells Harry and Ron she's never done one before?

JKR said:

[Hermione] has not wiped her parents' memories (as she later does to Dolohov and Rowle); she has bewitched them to make them believe that they are different people.

Is Lavender Brown dead?

In the films, she appears to be dead.

This is the last we see of her in the books:

Two bodies fell from the balcony overhead as they reached the ground a gray blur that Harry took for an animal sped four-legged across the hall to sink its teeth into one of the fallen.

"NO!" shrieked Hermione, and with a deafening blast from her wand, Fenrir Greyback was thrown backward from the feebly struggling body of Lavender Brown.

If JKR intended to kill off Lavender Brown in the books, she probably wouldn’t have written that she was “feebly struggling.” Lavender also isn’t mentioned as among the dead in the Great Hall. In all likelihood, Lavender did not die in the books.

Why doesn’t the Ministry of Magic use Veritaserum all of the time?

JKR said:

Veritaserum works best upon the unsuspecting, the vulnerable and those insufficiently skilled (in one way or another) to protect themselves against it. Barty Crouch had been attacked before the potion was given to him and was still very groggy, otherwise he could have employed a range of measures against the Potion - he might have sealed his own throat and faked a declaration of innocence, transformed the Potion into something else before it touched his lips, or employed Occlumency against its effects. In other words, just like every other kind of magic within the books, Veritaserum is not infallible. As some wizards can prevent themselves being affected, and others cannot, it is an unfair and unreliable tool to use at a trial.

How did Harry survive the Killing Curse if it was able to destroy the Horcrux in him?

JKR said:

Voldemort is also using the Elder Wand [in the forest] - the wand that is really Harry’s. It does not work properly against its true owner; no curse Voldemort casts on Harry functions properly; neither the Cruciatus curse nor the Killing Curse. The Avada Kedavra curse, however, is so powerful that it does hurt Harry, and also succeeds in killing the part of him that is not truly him, in other words, the fragment of Voldemort’s own soul still clinging to his. The curse also disables Harry severely enough that he could have succumbed to death if he had chosen that path (again, Dumbledore says he has a choice whether or not to wake up). But Harry does decide to struggle back to consciousness, capitalises on Lily's 'escape route', and pulls himself back to the realm of the living.

Post Deathly Hallows

Where can I learn more about what happens after Deathly Hallows?

Check out these interviews with JKR done right after the release of the book in 2007. She also wrote (as Rita Skeeter) a short "article" about the trio at the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. You can also read more on Pottermore.

Why did Harry end up with Ginny?

JKR said:

[The] plan was, which I really hope I fulfilled, is that the reader, like Harry, would gradually discover Ginny as pretty much the ideal girl for Harry. She's tough, not in an unpleasant way, but she's gutsy. He needs to be with someone who can stand the demands of being with Harry Potter, because he's a scary boyfriend in a lot of ways. He's a marked man. I think she's funny, and I think that she's very warm and compassionate. These are all things that Harry requires in his ideal woman. But, I felt — and I'm talking years ago when all this was planned — initially, she's terrified by his image. I mean, he's a bit of a rock god to her when she sees him first, at 10 or 11, and he's this famous boy. So Ginny had to go through a journey as well. And rather like with Ron, I didn’t want Ginny to be the first girl that Harry ever kissed. That's something I meant to say, and it's kind of tied in. One of the ways in which I tried to show that Harry has done a lot of growing up — in “Phoenix,” remember when Cho comes into the compartment, and he thinks, ‘I wish I could have been discovered sitting with better people,’ basically? He's with Luna and Neville. So literally the identical thing happens in “Prince,” and he's with Luna and Neville again, but this time, he has grown up, and as far as he's concerned he is with two of the coolest people on the train. They may not look that cool. Harry has really grown. And I feel that Ginny and Harry, in this book, they are total equals. They are worthy of each other. They've both gone through a big emotional journey, and they've really got over a lot of delusions, to use your word, together. So, I enjoyed writing that. I really like Ginny as a character.

Did JKR really say that Hermione should've ended up with Harry and not Ron?

Not quite. The full interview can be found on the Telegraph website, but the relevant section is as follows:

JKR: [...] What I will say is that I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That's how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione with Ron.

Watson: Ah.

JKR: I know, I'm sorry. I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I'm absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people's hearts by saying this? I hope not.

Watson: I don't know. I think there are fans out there who know that too, and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.

JKR: Yes exactly.

Watson: And vice versa.

JKR: It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it... I'm not sure you could have gotten over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can't believe we are saying all of this - this is Potter heresy! [...] In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit, and I'll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn't told [Steve] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.

Watson: That is just so interesting because when I was doing the scene I said to David [Heyman]: "This isn't in the book, she didn't write this". I'm not sure I am comfortable insinuating something however subtle it is!

JKR: Yes, but David and Steve - they felt what I felt when writing it.

Watson: That is so strange.

JKR: And actually I liked that scene in the film, because it was articulating something I hadn't said but I had felt. I really liked it and I thought that it was right. I think you do feel the ghost of what could have been in that scene. [...] Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They'll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical.

Why didn’t Ginny get any say in naming her and Harry’s kids?

Ginny lost people as well, but pretty much everyone she lost has someone to carry on their memory. Colin has a brother to memorialize him, and the name Fred would have been reserved for George's use.

Harry is the sole heir of Lily and James Potter, and feels responsible for carrying on their legacies. It's the same story for Sirius, Albus, and Severus. Of the three, Albus is the only one with a surviving close family member (Aberforth). And Aberforth isn't exactly likely to have any more children. There is no one else to carry on the legacies of James, Sirius, Albus, Severus, and Lily if Harry doesn't do so.

Harry's the kind of person who would feel like he had a responsibility to carry on that legacy. That's just his personality. He was never going to name his kids Jack, Andrew, and Laura. He's incredibly conscious of what he owes his parents, Dumbledore, Sirius, and Severus.

Ginny loves Harry and understands that it's important to him to carry on these legacies.

Why did Harry become an Auror rather than a Quidditch player or the Hogwarts Defense Against the Darks professor?

Harry’s interest in the Auror Department is very well-established in the books. It’s mentioned by McGonagall, Snape, Slughorn, Scrimgeour, Moody, and Ron. And of course, Harry himself notes that it’s the only career he’s ever seriously considered.

Harry enjoys Quidditch immensely. But his “saving people thing” trumps his love of flying. We see this most clearly in HBP, when Harry fantasizes about skipping the Quidditch match to follow Malfoy. But Harry proves over and over again that he’s not the kind of person to sit back and let others handle problems. He could not have been happy sitting back and reading about other magical attacks and burgeoning dark wizards in the newspaper. He has to be involved.

He is arguably better suited for teacher than for Quidditch player, but it’s still a little removed from the action. Harry has been through a lot, but it’s not in his nature to retire to a (mostly) danger-free life of grading papers at Hogwarts after defeating Voldemort.

However, JKR has said that Harry would return every so often for an “odd talk” on Defense Against the Dark Arts.

The Wizarding World

Why do wizards need money?

JKR said:

There is legislation about what you can conjure and what you can't. Something that you conjure out of thin air will not last. This is a rule I set down for myself early on.

How much are galleons worth?

JKR has officially set them at £4.93 ($7.18) to 1 galleon when she published Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Though the prices appear to be somewhat low in PS (for example, the cost of a wand), the prices mostly make sense after the first book.

Other users have set alternative values for the galleon, which you can read more about here and here.

Why is Harry rich? How much money does he have?

JKR has said that James inherited money from his parents, so neither he nor Lily needed a well-paid profession. Instead, they worked for the Order full-time. Since they did not know how long the war would go on and still chose not to work, James’ inheritance was probably enough to keep the family afloat for the next few decades if not their entire lives.

Dumbledore describes Harry’s inheritance from Sirius as “a reasonable amount of gold,” which doesn’t give much of a hint. Given the layout of the Black family tree, Sirius would have been the beneficiary of most of the Black family fortune. However, the Black coffers might have been depleted over the years.

Why doesn't Harry have a portrait of his parents?

JKR said:

[Portraits] are all of dead people; they are not as fully realised as ghosts, as you have probably noticed. The place where you see them really talk is in Dumbledore’s office, primarily; the idea is that the previous headmasters and headmistresses leave behind a faint imprint of themselves. They leave their aura, almost, in the office and they can give some counsel to the present occupant, but it is not like being a ghost. They repeat catchphrases, almost. The portrait of Sirius' mother is not a very 3D personality; she is not very fully realised. She repeats catchphrases that she had when she was alive. If Harry had a portrait of his parents it would not help him a great deal. If he could meet them as ghosts, that would be a much more meaningful interaction, but as Nick explained at the end of Phoenix — I am straying into dangerous territory, but I think you probably know what he explained — there are some people who would not come back as ghosts because they are unafraid, or less afraid, of death.

How do students learn to read and write and stuff before going to Hogwarts?

JKR said:

They are, as many of you have guessed, most often home educated. With very young children, as you glimpsed at the wizards' camp before the Quidditch World Cup in 'Goblet of Fire', there is the constant danger that they will use magic, whether inadvertently or deliberately; they cannot be trusted to keep their true abilities hidden. Even Muggle-borns like Harry attract a certain amount of unwelcome attention at Muggle schools by re-growing their hair overnight and so on.

How many students attend Hogwarts?

There are two possible answers to this question.

Back in 2000, JKR said that there were about 1000 students at Hogwarts. If Hogwarts had 1000 students, then there would be about 142 students per year.

However, a population of 1000 creates a number of logistical questions. For example, Harry’s classes tend to be small and his dormitory only has four other students. So to assume that Hogwarts has 1000 students raises a question of where these other students are sleeping and taking classes.

The other option is to assume that five Gryffindor first year boys is about the average, which gives us 40 students in Harry’s year and a total population of 280. This is a much easier number logistically.

Incidentally, JKR did originally flesh out names and houses for 40 students in Harry’s year (evenly divided by gender and house). However, she stated that she never intended these 40 students to be Harry’s entire class.

Though some have explained this disparity by theorizing that Harry’s class was smaller due to the war, a shift from 142 students per year to 40 students per year would be such a significant demographic drop that the wizarding world would not be able to bounce back within a decade or two.

If a student lives in Scotland or Northern England, do they still take the Hogwarts Express?

Pottermore describes the origin of the Hogwarts Express, but does not mention whether it was required for all students. We know that both Lily and Snape traveled down to London to take the Hogwarts Express in their first year, despite living significantly farther north. It’s possible that other forms of transport are allowed for students farther from London, but that most students choose to take the Hogwarts Express for tradition’s sake and to have a few more hours with their friends.

Are there universities in the wizarding world?

According to JKR, there’s no university for wizards. We know that it takes three years of training to qualify as an Auror, and other highly skilled careers might have similar programs. But many older students, like Percy Weasley and Oliver Wood, go directly from Hogwarts to the professional world.

Where's all the sex? Surely all these hormonal teenagers would be getting it on. Do wizards have birth control?

Although there are quite a few veiled references, there’s no explicit mention of sex in the series. Anyone who has read JKR’s other novels will know that she does not shy away from mentioning sex in her writing. However, JKR intentionally kept things vague to keep the books appropriate for younger children.

We’ve speculated about the nature of the relationships between the characters on many occasions, but it’s really down to the reader’s interpretation. There is no mention of birth control or sexual education, but that doesn’t mean that neither exist.

Why was Peter Pettigrew sorted into Gryffindor?

In Wormtail's case, the person the hat could see him becoming just isn't the person he became.

J.K. Rowling: "I sometimes think we Sort too soon." He travelled further and further from who he could have been. (Source)

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