HARRY POTTER: THE PREQUEL
I have thought this through. If Sirius had married ... Sirius was too busy being a big rebel to get married. When Harry was born, it was at the very height of Voldemort fever last time so his christening was a very hurried, quiet affair with just Sirius, just the best friend. At that point it looked as if the Potters would have to go into hiding so obviously they could not do the big christening thing and invite lots of people. Sirius is the only one, unfortunately. I have got to be careful what I say there, haven't I?
Part One - Before Hallowe'en 1981
3. THE CHRISTENING
(J.K.Rowling, Edinburgh Book Festival)
Having grown up in a Christian family, being the daughter of a Christian minister, and having only attended Christian schools before university this year, I didn't know how to approach the idea of this particular christening which, to our knowledge, has no affiliations with anything specifically religious. How many godparents is it normal to have if your christening isn't religious? How soon after the birth is it generally? Could it be over a year after the birth?
So I consulted my church's university chaplain (thanks Pastor!), who told me that, in his experience, non-religious christenings (which are sometimes naming celebrations) are similar to religious christenings in that they usually take place a few weeks/months after the child's birth, and usually have one or two godparents for the child (generally a godfather and a godmother). I couldn't, therefore, reconcile the fact that the Potters plan to go into hiding at the christening with the fact that they only do so in October 1981 by supposing that the christening may have occurred in October 1981. But that issue is only relevant to the issue of the Potters in hiding (see section five). Here, I'm dealing with the issue of why Lupin, Pettigrew, Person X, Dumbledore and possibly others weren't at Harry's christening.
Let's first deal with JKR's words at face value, without looking at all that can be read between the lines. First, she says that she has "thought this through". The issue of Harry's possible other godparents, and his christening, has all been planned and all makes sense. So this analysis shouldn't result in brushing anything aside as a mistake or inconsistency.
Also, if JKR has taken the trouble to plan this, it's likely that the issue of Harry's godparenthood (there's a new word) wasn't just tacked on to Sirius as a last-minute thought so that Harry could go to Hogsmeade after third year. JKR could have found a different way to give Harry permission to attend Hogsmeade. I don't think it was so Harry would feel a connection with Sirius, Harry could have been emotionally close to Sirius simply because Sirius was James's best friend - Sirius as a godparent only enhanced that. On top of that, Sirius's godparental rights to guardianship of Harry never eventuated into anything. No, I find it very likely that the story of Sirius being made Harry's godfather is more important than the fact that he actually was.
(I just want to further that point with a reference to JKR's final words on the topic - "I have got to be careful [of] what I say there, haven't I?" I earlier thought that this might indicate that she doesn't want to give away some vital information about the story of the christening, but this isn't so. The topic was brought up as a way of discovering if Harry had a godparent other than Sirius - seeing as Sirius is now dead. JKR said, "Sirius is the only one, unfortunately," and simply had to "be careful" that she didn't indicate that Sirius had died, because people in the room hadn't read OotP. Oh well.)
Now let's go to the next portion. (Remember, JKR's saying these things as an explanation for why Sirius is the only godparent of Harry. She's not trying to answer the question of why more people weren't at the christening, as we now are. We need to keep these things very firmly in perspective.) JKR next indicates that a wife of Sirius might have been Harry's godmother, but that Sirius didn't get married. Interesting, but not relevant here.
For the next bit, I particularly want to examine what it's trying to say, not just what it says, and the reasoning behind it.
JKR Point 1: It's the height of Voldemort fever >> therefore >> the christening is hurried and quiet with "just Sirius, just the best friend" >> therefore >> Harry doesn't have a godmother.
JKR Point 2: It looks like the Potters have to go into hiding >> therefore >> the christening can't be big with lots of people >> therefore >> Harry doesn't have a godmother.
One thing explains the next, which explains the point JKR wants to make (about no godmother, possibly also to explain no other godfather). Now, maybe it's just me, but I would have been more inclined to explain it like this:
My Point 1: It's the height of Voldemort fever >> therefore >> the christening can't be big with lots of people.
My Point 2: It looks like the Potters have to go into hiding >> therefore >> the christening is hurried and quiet with "just Sirius, just the best friend".
Let's just operate with those revised statements for a moment. (I'm thinking probably the reasons and explanations JKR gives are interchangeable anyway because they're all interrelated.)
So, now to understand that. If Voldemort was causing havoc throughout your country, you wouldn't be inclined to have a big celebration for any reason - you wouldn't want to draw attention to yourself. That's a given. But would the reign of Voldemort necessarily lead to you deciding that your son's christening should take place as soon as possible, without making a big fuss, and with only the future godfather present? That doesn't quite make sense.
If you're about to go into hiding, however, anything like a christening has to be done quickly, quietly, and with only the people who are most important. That makes sense.
It, of course, depends on who you're hiding from. The Potters are hiding from Voldemort. If you're hiding from Voldemort, who's taking over your world, then it makes sense that the christening would be quiet. It makes sense that you're not going to draw attention to yourselves, which could put you and your son at risk.
But what if you're hiding from someone else as well? What if you're hiding from the spy - and you don't know who that is?
You can probably now see why it's important to me when Pettigrew became a Vspy. If he became a Vspy just after Harry's birth, and before the christening, then perhaps he gave Voldemort some information that only someone in the Order would know - eg. when Harry had been born (making him a potential "one"). Then the Dspy picked up that Voldemort had learned these things, and told Dumbledore, who deduced that there must be a spy in the Order.
So now the Potters are not only hiding from Voldemort and the Death Eaters, but also from Order members. (They may not yet know that the spy is someone close to them.) They have to go into hiding, but they've got to have Harry's christening. They're trying to decide on invitations.
"Should we invite Benjy Fenwick?"
"I don't know, he's always seemed weird to me - he could be the spy, you never know."
"What about the Longbottoms?"
"No, they're having Neville's christening the same day, plus if we invite them we have to invite Hagrid, we've known him longer, and if we invite Hagrid we definitely have to invite Benjy."
"Right... so that eliminates... almost the whole Order. So who are we going to trust to come to this christening?"
"Well, Sirius, of course..."
"Look, if we're going to be really careful, and we don't want to insult anyone, then maybe we should only invite Sirius."
And even if they weren't trying to keep out a spy, it's still understandable to only invite the people who are most important. Even then, though, it's a contentious issue. Do you just invite the godfather? Do you just invite the best friend of the father? Do you just invite the close friends (the spy circle and maybe Dumbledore)?
It's very interesting that Sirius was the only person invited outside family, yet it wasn't because he needed to be there to be made the godfather, but because he was "the best friend". Lupin and Pettigrew (and presumably, Person X) were also close friends - no invites?
Let's have another look at what JKR said. She said the christening was "a very hurried, quiet affair". A quiet christening would entail no Dursleys, no Potter or Evans grandparents, and no unnecessary Order members. A hurried christening would entail no Dumbledore (too busy fighting Voldemort) and no Longbottoms (taking care of Neville). But the rest is up to the imagination. Were Lupin, Pettigrew and Person X busy that day? Was it really just a matter of convenience and time? Was anyone deliberately kept away?
Maybe at this time the Potters suspected Lupin of being the spy (gosh, that's a long time to suspect him) and didn't want to invite Pettigrew and Person X without inviting Lupin, so none of them would realize whom the Potters suspected. Maybe the Potters didn't want Lupin and Pettigrew to know that Harry was having a christening because they'd want to be godfathers too, and the Potters wanted to leave that privilege just for Sirius. If you can think of a valid reason why Lupin and Pettigrew might not have been at the christening other than the reasons I've listed, or if you can think of support for one of the ideas here, please put your ideas up in a Chamber of Secrets discussion. I'm at a loss. But I do have faith that JKR has something planned here, and even if it never makes it into the books, it's all been thought out carefully and it all makes sense. It's a beautiful world that JKR's created, and it would be a shame to miss out on this bit. Here's hoping for a Harry Potter Encyclopaedia as Book Eight! :-)
Posted by: Nicole
If you would like to contact Esther, you may do so at eskimoe_girl at hotmail dot com.