Birthday boy Harry Potter is all grown up in a new Rowling story
By Bijal Vachharajani
Pottermore, the website dedicated to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, had a scoop recently.
Seventeen years after Harry Potter defeated Voldemort (and seven years after the last book), there’s news from the wizarding world. Rita Skeeter is reporting live from Patagonia with her acerbic Quick-Quotes Quill, and as usual, it’s dipped in gossip and hearsay. Which means PotterHeads know that they should take all that spews from the pen of the Daily Prophet’s gossip columnist with a huge dollop of salt.
For all the muggles out there, JK Rowling has penned an update on the Dumbledore Army, as they reunite at the Quidditch World Cup Final, an event as big as the FIFA World Cup (if not bigger, then at least more magical).
In 2010, JK Rowling had apparently texted Daniel Radcliffe that she would not be writing more Potter books. Two years later, she launched Pottermore, a website that retells the story with some wonderful digital interaction and where she offers tantalising bits of history and trivia about the characters to Potterheads.
This new column, however, seems to hint at larger offerings from the wizarding world and we are not sure if that means that Rowling is yet to be properly done with that magical creation of hers. For Potterheads, anything Rowling deigns to share about The Boy Who Lived is like finding treasure, so here’s what the author’s given us, through Rita Skeeter’s quill.
Harry Potter aka the Chosen One is almost 34 years old and is the father of two boys, named James Sirius and Albus Severus. He introduces his sons to Bulgarian seeker Victor Krum.
At the risk of sounding like the gossip columnist, we can’t help but wonder why his youngest daughter, Lily Luna, did not accompany her father and brothers. After all most wizard kids grow up on a diet of Quidditch. Could our hero be — gasp! — one of those dads who thinks sports are only for boys?
But coming back to the boys that are Potter’s responsibility, there’s news about Teddy Lupin, son of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. He is, we are told, a “wild boy”, but then what else would you expect from a child who is half-were wolf and half-Tonks?
Potter is still married to his best friend’s sister Ginny Weasley. Skeeter also reports that Potter has a nasty cut over his right cheekbone and to her, it looks as if Potter is “desperate to hide” the origins of his injury or there may be trouble in their marriage. As an auror, one imagines Potter would have battle scars, but clearly for Skeeter, it’s much more fun to imagine him as the victim of domestic abuse.
In an older interview, Rowling had revealed that both Harry and Ron Weasley join the Ministry of Magic and become Aurors. Skeeter tells us that two years after becoming an auror, Ron quit and joined his brother George, helping him manage the joke emporium, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Skeeter speculates aplenty about Ron’s departure from the Ministry job, but we who have read Skeeter over the years know all about the embellishments at which her Quick-Quotes Quill excels.
Hermione Granger remains married to Ron (Rowling once said she regretted that decision and should have paired her with Harry), has bushy hair and is now the Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Skeeter dubs her a femme fatale¸ having earlier alleged (baselessly) in Goblet of Fire that Hermione had been toying with Harry’s affections and later Krum’s as well.
The rest of Dumbledore Army have been busy too. The final movie had hinted at a romance between Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, but Rowling dismissed that idea. In her future-forward short story, Neville is now teaching Herbology, a subject he excelled at The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Skeeter reports that Neville and his wife Hannah are partial to Odgen’s Old Firewhisky.
This could just be Neville drowning his sorrows because the actor playing him in the last movie (Matthew Lewis) is way hotter than Daniel Radcliffe but doesn’t get to be the star (though he did have that swashbuckling moment when he offs Nagini). Luna, on the other hand, is married to a famous wizard, has twins and continues to favour eccentric clothing.
Even in a decidedly short short story, Rowling’s writing of the wizarding world is assured and richly imaginative, tantalising the reader with the possibility of more action (and more stories). Since she finished the Harry Potter series, Rowling has written three novels for grownups. They’ve done well, with her fan base ensuring the books become bestsellers. However, if there’s one thing you can deduce from the new short story, it is that Rowling misses the world of wizardry that she’d conjured for us all.
At the end of Deathly Hallows, Rowling did fast forward 19 years, where you pretty much found out most of the things that Skeeter’s written about in column, minus the gossipy bits. (And since that epilogue took place two years after this column, may we point out to Skeeter that there seemed to be no chinks in any of the three protagonists relationship then?)
Many fans had mixed feelings about the epilogue. After all no one really wants their childhood literary heroes to grow up. They need to stay untarnished in our collective imagination. The magic was in growing up with the children, as they became gangly teenagers while taking on fantastical challenges that made Hogwarts so covetable. As muggle children turned 11, we suspect that many of them stared out of their windows, waiting for a tawny owl to deliver a Hogwarts acceptance letter to them as well.
It’s obvious that Rowling misses the characters that have become so dear to so many of us, and so do we. But do we really want to see Dumbledore’s Army all grown up, battling everyday troubles such as an unhappy marriage or thinning hair rather than trying to befriend hippogriffs or fighting noxious dementors?
Still, Rowling signs off promisingly – turns out there’s a second book by Rita Skeeter, Dumbledore’s Army: The Dark Side of the Demob in the offing. And it’s slated to release on 31 July, Rowling and Harry’s birthday. Potterheads like me will be sitting and waiting at midnight, much like Harry would on the eve of his birthday, expectantly.
Bijal Vachharajani is a Bangalore based writer, editor and self-confessed Potterhead. At wand point, she would admit that she loves Prisoners of Azkaban the most. She knows that gloomy weather means that dementors are around and immediately reaches out for chocolate.
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