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The alt.fan.harry-potter Potterverse FAQ

This FAQ covers story-internal subject matter from the universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books.
Last update 2004-10-01
By Troels Forchhammer

Warning: This FAQ contains major spoilers for all the Harry Potter books. If you have not read them all, you should seriously consider waiting to read on until you have.

As so many other things do, this FAQ 'grew in the telling.' I started out with an idea of completeness, but I have realised that this is impossible and I will settle for 'thoroughness' — and covering the essentials. Inevitably I will have missed things and I will be only too happy to get input on this FAQ — questions that need to be addressed, views that I have forgotten or treated unfairly — everything can be mailed to me. None of the entries in this FAQ should be considered conclusive — more can be said about all of them. The reason for their inclusion here is to show what has already been said in order to take us faster through that part. I hope and intend that this FAQ will be able to serve as a starting point for future discussions on AFH-P and other places to the benefit of all participants

Thanks to all the participants in the newsgroup for their invaluable — though often unknowing — contributions, and to galadriel waters for a careful review and many valuable suggestions.

This FAQ will probably never be "complete" — certainly not while Rowling hasn't published the last Harry Potter book (and probably not after that either). This means that many of the questions are not treated in full, and that not all opinions and arguments are given. I have tried to give what I understand to be the majority view in all cases, but it should also be noted that it is a premise for the discussions and answers in this FAQ that Dumbledore not only speaks the truth as he knows it, but also that he doesn't make factual errors (he admits himself to making errors of judgement — e.g. misplaced trust, but there is a difference there). It is certainly allowed to challenge this premise which is why it is stated this clearly.

Many of the answers are speculative and alternatives are usually possible — it is my plan to gradually update this FAQ to reflect this aspect as well.

Information about spoilers
In the contents list you will find a number in brackets in front of each entry. This number refers to the number of the books from which actual spoiler material has been used to compile the entry. Entries for which no such number is given does not contain material directly related to the plot of any of the books. Books for which very serious spoiler material directly related to the resolution of the plot is used are noted in curly brackets. The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is not considered for spoiler purposes —, all visitors are assumed to have read this book.


  1. Changes since last edition
  2. Characters
    1. Harry
      1. [2] Is Harry Potter the Heir of Gryffindor?
      2. When was Harry born?
      3. [2] Is Harry Voldemort's grandson?
      4. Are Harry and Hermione Siblings?
      5. {4,5} How is Harry protected at Privet Drive 4?
      6. [4] Is Harry related to NN?
      7. {1,2,4,5} Is Harry or Voldemort the strongest?
    2. Hermione
      1. When was Hermione born?
      2. Is Hermione really Muggle-born?
    3. Dumbledore
      1. {3} How powerful (omniscient) is Dumbledore?
      2. {4}What caused Dumbledore's "gleam of something like triumph" in [GoF-36]?
    4. Voldemort
      1. [4] Ehhh — wasn't Tom Riddle among the dead in the Riddle House?
      2. [2] Is Voldemort Harry's Grandfather?
      3. {4,5} What will be Voldemort's future strategy?
      4. {3,4} Questions about Voldemort's wand.?
    5. Snape
      1. [2]{5} Does Snape really want to teach Defence against the Dark Arts?
      2. [3] Is Snape a Vampire?
      3. [4,5] Snape: Good or Evil?
      4. [3,4]{5} Can we trust Snape's memory in the Pensieve?
    6. Other people
      1. {3} Who is Crookshanks?
      2. {4} Why did the GoF DADA teacher teach Harry to resist the Imperius curse?
      3. What about Mrs Figg?
      4. Are Lily and/or James still alive — or will they return?
      5. {5} What really happened with that veil in [OotP-35]?
      6. [3] Were James Potter and his friends called "The Marauders"?
  3. Magic
    1. Spells
      1. [3] What's the difference between charms, jinxes, hexes and curses?
    2. Wands
      1. {4} What makes two wands brothers?
      2. {4} What was that Priori Incantatem effect?
      3. {3,4} Questions about Voldemort's wand.?
    3. Other questions about magic
      1. [2] What is this about underage magic?
      2. [3]{4,5}What makes magic stronger?
      3. What is Arithmancy?
  4. Creatures and people
    1. Beings, Beasts and Spirits
      1. What are beings beasts and spirits?
      2. [2] How did they cure Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington with the Mandrake Potion?
      3. What are the differences (if any) between Ghosts and Poltergeists?
      4. What are Vampires?
    2. Uncategorized Creatures
      1. {3,4} What are Dementors?
  5. Places
    1. Hogwarts
      1. Where is Hogwarts?
      2. Is Hogwarts the only wizarding school on the British Isles?
      3. How many students are there at Hogwarts?
      4. {4}[5] Apparating etc. at Hogwarts?
    2. Durmstrang
      1. Where is Durmstrang?
    3. Beauxbatons
      1. Where is Beauxbatons?
  6. Events
    1. Specific Events
      1. {3} How did Harry's godfather order the Firebolt for Harry?
      2. [3]{5} What was Professor Trelawney's first prediction?
      3. {5} Who does the Prophecy refer to?
      4. {4} Didn't Harry's parents appear in the wrong order in Priori Incantatem (GoF ch. 34)?
    2. Time and timelines
      1. What is this problem with the timeline?
      2. {3} What happened when Harry and Hermione went back in time?
  7. Story External Questions
    1. The Harry Potter Books
      1. What is considered canon?
      2. Are the Harry Potter books children's books?
  8. Definitions of terms and abbreviations

  1. Changes since last edition.

    Changes since 2004-06-01:

    Changes since 2004-01-30:

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