The Heir of Gryffindor

by Elissa Fanzo

I spent a lot of time on the MuggleNet new clues forum with the FAQ “How does a Patronus get its shape?” I decided to look into the life of St. Godric because I remember reading of his association with a stag. There is a rather eloquent discussion of this on the Harry Potter Lexicon. The obvious conclusion might be that James and Harry are true heirs of Gryffindor. However, for me this only raised more questions. If Gryffindor can be translated as “golden griffin,” (griffin d’or) then why use the stag instead of the griffin as Harry’s Patronus and James’s animagus form?

If you look at the legend, the stag wanders into St. Godric’s garden. James tries to hide from Voldemort in Godric’s Hollow. The legend on the whole alludes to the Fidelius charm. St. Godric is like the stag’s Secret Keeper. Pettigrew doesn’t keep James’s secret. So, does one conclude someone else must be the heir of Gryffindor? If you consider the animagi’s forms, the heir can’t be any of the Marauders. True, their Patronuses could take totally different shapes than they do. That’s when I had a bit of a revelation…

Whose Patronus could be a griffin? Didn’t J.K. Rowling say Snape’s Patronus would give away too much? Yes, I said Snape! Think about all those potential bat references. Does a bat have a hooked nose? It has been said Snape may be more accurately described as a vulture. This is discussed on the HP Sleuth site. Take note especially of long yellow fingers like talons. Add to that a hooked nose, and flying. Does that sound like a creature that’s half lion and half eagle? Sounds like a griffin to me.

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