With a New Clue Comes a New Suspect
Editors’ note: “Lion-Man” refers to this excerpt released by JKR.
I think it is safe to say that J.K. Rowling is talking about the Half-Blood Prince here. The latest clue has led to many different inquiries and theories, but I, myself, have been tangled up in this clue. Many have predicted that as she used “lion” as an adjective, this person belonged to Gryffindor. Maybe it’s even GODRIC Gryffindor, perhaps?
But I have a different perspective about what this little bit of writing could mean. J.K. Rowling was not describing a lion but, rather, someone with lion characteristics. So who else do we know that is similar to a lion? Who else could she mean? The answer that popped into my head was none other than Hermione’s ginger cat, Crookshanks.
Crookshanks is definitely one of the most interesting characters in the Harry Potter series. There are so many questions involving this strange, clever cat. If he is not an Animagus, then what could he be? The answer according to my theory is simple. The following two sentences of the clue have triggered many questions and thoughts–and many answers as well. The following are clues and facts that have been laid in front of us–sometimes even repeated–that can support that Crookshanks is indeed the person J.K. Rowling was describing, which may be the Half-Blood Prince.
“…looked rather like an old lion. There were streaks of grey…”
The words “old” and “grey” are describing age. The clue also mentioned that this person wore spectacles. This obviously means this person has poor vision, maybe because of his age. However, it is quite safe to say that Crookshanks may fall into the category of “old age.”
“…Poor Crookshanks, that witch said he’d been in there for ages: no one wanted him.” -Hermione, p.50, Prisoner of Azkaban.
Is it not odd that Crookshanks has been around for so long? Everyone has been speculating about Scabbers’ age, and how it was strange that a rat lived for 12 years. However, isn’t it strange that J.K.Rowling did not go into the subject of Crookshank’s age? Scabbers did not die because he was not a rat–he was an animagus. Both Peter’s and Sirius’s forms of animagus survived, because they were not true animals. So other than Crookshanks being an animagus, which J.K. has denied, what else could last in animal form long periods of time?
“… his mane of tawny hair…”
She described this person with TAWNY hair. Tawny is a light brown to brownish orange. Crookshanks is described to be a cat with that kind of coloring. Watching out for simple words can lead to many great discoveries, as revealed here.
“…he had keen yellowish eyes …”
In Prisoner of Azkaban, we are told MANY TIMES that Crookshanks has yellow eyes:
“Crookshanks had now settled in an empty seat, his squashed face turned to Ron, his yellow eyes on Ron’s pocket.” p.62, Prisoner of Azkaban
“Crookshanks slowly chewed up the spider, his yellow eyes fixed insolently on Ron.” p.110, Prisoner of Azkaban
“Can’t you shut that thing up?” he added to Harry, as Hermione strode out of the room, Crookshanks’s yellow eyes still fixed maliciously on Ron.” p.168, Prisoner of Azkaban
“But Harry had just seen–slinking towards them, his body low to the ground, wide yellow eyes, glinting eerily in the darkness–Crookshanks.” p.244, Prisoner of Azkaban
These were only a few times his eyes were mentioned in PoA. Rowling is showing an obvious emphasis on his yellow eyes. Why would she mention this bit of information so many times?
“…he walked with a slight limp.”
Crookshanks might have been born with a leg that could not function properly, as this line says:
“The cat’s ginger fur was thick and fluffy, but it was definitely a bit bow-legged and its face looked grumpy and oddly squashed, as though it had run headlong into a brick wall.” p.50, Prisoner of Azkaban
Notice how JK describes him as being bow-legged, the exact definition of which follows:
1. A leg having an outward curvature* in the region of the knee.
2. The condition of such a curvature* of the legs
*Curvature: A curving or bending, especially an abnormal one.
So this could possibly mean that Crookshanks had some sort of abnormality in his knee. This would definitely change the way he would walk. And is it not strange how she mentions this again?
“Crookshanks skidded to a halt, crouched low on his bandy legs, and started making ferocious swipes beneath the chest of drawers with his front paw.” p.111, Prisoner of Azkaban.
Bandy: 1. of legs: bowed outward at or below the knee
Now we’re on to something.
Use of words that describe an animal.
J.K. Rowling mentions that this person has characteristics similar to that of a lion. And she mentions the words “mane” and “rangy.” She also mentions those “bushy” eyebrows. This may be a weak theory, but where have we heard “bushy” many times before? Crookshanks’s tail.
Crookshanks was on Sirius’s side before anyone else was.
[Harry] peered out at the grounds again and spotted it. It was skirting the edge of the forest now…it wasn’t the Grim at all…it was a cat…Harry clutched the window ledge in relief as he recognized the bottle-brush tail. It was only Crookshanks…Or was it only Crookshanks? Harry squinted, pressing his nose flat against the glass. Crookshanks seemed to have come to a halt. Harry was sure he could see something else moving in the shadows of the trees, too.
And the next moment, it had emerged: a gigantic, shaggy black dog, moving stealthily across the lawn, Crookshanks trotting at its side. p.223-224, PoA
Crookshanks had been communicating with Black for a while before any of them found out. This means he wanted to help him and knew that Black wasn’t just a normal stray dog. Crookshanks also performed a courageous act when jumped on top of Black’s chest, covering his heart, to prevent Harry from harming Black. But how could he have known it was Black, since he presumably only knew him as a dog? And how could he have known Black was on the good side? This may mean that Crookshanks might have known Black beforehand.
Crookshanks is NOT a “pure” cat.
In the World Book Day Chat, when asked why Crookshanks never caused Hagrid to sneeze (because Hagrid mentioned that he was allergic to cats), Rowling simply replied:
“He’s never around Crookshanks very much. I’m allergic to cats and I can be in a room with one briefly. But of course, Crookshanks isn’t all cat. Read Fantastic Beasts…!”
This has been one of the most difficult mysteries in the books. We have all asked ourselves at one point in time, “Is Crookshanks an animagus?” Recently, however, all our hopes were shattered as J.K. Rowling told us that Crookshanks is not an animagus but a HALF-kneazle. According to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:
The Kneazle was originally bred in Britain, though it is now exported worldwide. A small catlike creature with flecked, speckled, or spotted fur, outsize ears, and a tail like a lion’s, the Kneazle is intelligent, independent, and occasionally aggressive, though if it takes a liking to a witch or wizard, it makes an excellent pet. The Kneazle has an uncanny ability to detect unsavory or suspicious characters and can be relied upon to guide its owner safely home if they are lost. Kneazles have up to eight kittens in a litter and can interbreed with cats. Licenses are required for ownership as (like Crups and Fwoopers) Kneazles are sufficiently unusual in appearance to attract Muggle interest.
Note that the description of a kneazle includes “a tail like a lion’s.” Perhaps a little clue foreshadowing the description of the man in the excerpt?
But wait, there is one more thing she DID NOT mention. Simply because Crookshanks is not an animagus does not mean that he couldn’t be part wizard. Consider Remus Lupin. Lupin was bitten by a werewolf and, therefore, has become a werewolf. This event has changed his life and has acted as a CURSE on him for eternity. Even if Lupin did take the potion Snape had made for him, Lupin would STILL transform into a werewolf, but he would be able to control his behavior.
Lupin’s curse would only activate in the moonlight of a full moon; he was free to act normally in daylight and could somewhat control himself when in his werewolf form. Now let’s think about Crookshanks. If he was unable to control his animal form, then what curse would he be under? Or, more importantly, what KIND of curse?
This may sound a little outrageous, but it may be true. I think that Crookshanks may be under some kind of curse or enchantment that makes him stay a cat for the rest of his life. It is clear Crookshanks knows much more than a cat ought to know. It seems like he actually UNDERSTANDS what the Golden Trio are saying at times and shows slight movement, purring or hissing in response. Really, think about it: Crookshanks may be a wizard who was trapped in a cat’s body. And wouldn’t it make sense to curse a Half-Blood Prince? Who knows what power an HPB can possess – maybe powers to endanger others? It does seem fitting, because of his stature, that a Half-Blood Prince would be cursed into an animal that no one would care for or want. It’s the perfect way to hide someone from the public and make it seem they have died or gone missing.
Because of Crookshanks’s huge amount of knowledge, he surprises us quite a few times. He does things that normal cats would not do and knows things normal cats would not know. By reading the Prisoner of Azkaban, there are several scenes in which Crookshanks acts in an abnormal manner. For example:
“Crookshanks darted forwards. He slithered between the battering branches like a snake and placed his paws upon a knot on the trunk.” “Crookshanks!” Hermione whispered uncertainly. She now grasped Harry’s arm painfully hard. “How did he know?”
“He’s friends with that dog,” said Harry grimly. “I’ve seen them together.” p.246, PoA
“This cat isn’t mad,” said Black hoarsely. He reached out a bony hand and stroked Crookshanks’s fluffy head.”He’s the most intelligent of his kind I’ve ever met. He recognized Peter for what he was straight away. And when he met me, he knew I was no dog. It was a while before he trusted me. Finally, I managed to communicate to him what I was after, and he’s been helping me.”
“What do you mean?” breathed Hermione.
“He tried to bring Peter to me, but couldn’t…so he stole the passwords into Gryffindor Tower for me. As I understand it he took them from a boy’s bedside table.” p.267, PoA
This intelligence may just be a characteristic of being half-kneazle but maybe not. Crookshanks was put into the books to serve a purpose. In Prisoner of Azkaban, he was determined to protect Sirius against anyone who tried to hurt him. Crookshanks also seems to understand what the people around him are saying.
As for the piece of writing which was locked in the “Secret Room”: now, the description would not make sense if Crookshanks is doomed to remain in cat form forever, would it? This could be a description from the past or a memory in the Pensieve before “Crookshanks” was a cat. Since the description made it clear that the man was old, it could mean Crookshanks is even older now. Another suggestion could be that maybe a powerful witch or wizard breaks the curse or changes him back for a short period of time so Crookshanks is set free. Anything could be possible at this point.
The clues are laid in front of you, and there are facts and evidence to support it. Crookshanks may indeed be the man in the passage, and it may be a possibility that he is the Half-Blood Prince. There are still so many other questions we must ask ourselves: Why was Crookshanks under such a powerful curse? If the man in the description was taken from the Pensieve, whose memory was it? What did Crookshanks do to deserve this entrapment? And, finally, who cursed him?