When the Prophecy Was Made

by Esther Kleinig

WARNING: If you’ve no desire to investigate when the Prophecy was made with me, then you will find this immensely boring as there’s not much else. I’d love you to read it anyway, but please don’t complain to me if you found it irrelevant. I don’t often have access to the internet these days and would prefer if you would discuss the editorial on the Chamber of Secrets rather than emailing me. I’ll try to check out the discussion sometime.

All page references are for my Australian editions of the text. To my knowledge, these page numbers are the same as the UK edition, because we don’t have internal illustrations like the American editions do.

Also, I apologize if this has already been done by someone here or on HP Lexicon, or if someone has sent me an owl in response to my last editorial with this information. I haven’t had access to the internet. So even if it’s repeated, it’s all my work. 🙂

It was only after Bob had sent his copy of Back to the Prophecy to our editor, that I thought, perhaps it would be possible to ascertain from Order of the Phoenix when the Prophecy was made. I was thinking of the fact that Trelawney was hired immediately after giving the Prophecy. And as we know all too well from our many readings of OotP, Umbridge asks the teachers how long they’ve taught at Hogwarts. Now, if JK Rowling was planning on introducing a character as one who was conceived and born for the purpose of being “The One” (as outlined in Back to the Prophecy), then surely she would take extra care to get her dates right…

The dates we know

First, let’s establish the dates we know. The Potters were killed on Hallowe’en night – October 31st. Due to our calculations from “1492” provided in Chamber of Secrets, we can assume the year of the Potters’ deaths was 1981, and Harry’s birth was 1980 because he was one and a bit when they died. (Even if it’s not these years, the years are fairly irrelevant, because our clues for years are given in relation to each other, so I’ll just give them these values for convenience’s sake.)

Harry’s conception: Friday October 31st, 1979 (calculated with 9 months; 39 weeks gives us Nov 1st)

Harry’s birth: Saturday July 31st, 1980

Harry’s first birthday: Sunday July 31st, 1981

James and Lily’s deaths: Monday October 31st, 1981*

Current Prophecy timeline: As stated in Back to the Prophecy, the earliest the Prophecy could be made was August 1, 1979, and the latest was probably July 31, 1980 (Harry being born later that night, probably with Lily already in labor). If that doesn’t make sense, read (or reread) the start of Back to the Prophecy.

* NB: In reality, the 31st of October in 1981 was a Saturday. (Thanks, computer calendar!) However, the day when Vernon Dursley notices strange occurrences (the day following the Potters’ deaths, November 1st) is given by JKR as a Tuesday, so we’ll leave October 31st as a Monday. Other days of the week are calculated from this. I’m sticking with the years for this to give me leap years.

But it’s not very relevant anyway (unless you want to determine personalities from days of the week for births, in which case this isn’t reliable enough). It just reinforces that JKR’s world is a fantasy. And perhaps that she didn’t know what dates she would be using until she had to give one in CoS. Which is fine.

According to Trelawney

‘”Now,’ said Umbridge, looking up at Trelawney, ‘you’ve been in this post how long, exactly?’Professor Trelawney scowled at her, arms crossed and shoulders hunched as though wishing to protect herself as much as possible from the indignity of the inspection. After a slight pause in which she seemed to decide that the question was not so offensive that she could reasonably ignore it, she said in a deeply resentful tone, ‘Nearly sixteen years.'”
(OotP, p.280-1)

1) When did Trelawney say this?

This was the first day of the second week of classes for the school year. (The weekend preceding this Monday, Harry sends Sirius a note telling him about his first week of classes. Hogwarts takes its weekends as Saturday and Sunday, of course.) Because students catch the Hogwarts Express on September 1st and appear to start classes the Monday after arriving, the earliest this statement could occur is September 9th, if September 1st was a Sunday, and the latest is September 14th, if September 1st was a Tuesday. (If September 1st was a Monday, it seems unreasonable not to just start classes the following day.)

Either way, it was early September, 1995. So, if she hadn’t said “nearly”, we could assume that she was appointed around September in the year 1979. This is around a month to two months before Harry’s conception. This perfectly fits my theory in Back to the Prophecy – the Prophecy was made before the conception, and some Death Eater parents decided to take advantage of this by trying to conceive the powerful child.

But alas, Trelawney did not say, “Sixteen years”. She said, “Nearly sixteen years.” That word makes all the difference. It means we need to go forward in time. It means the Prophecy was made later than I originally thought. But how much later?

2) What could “nearly” mean?

My first instinct was, of course, to judge when someone might say “nearly”. At one year, you’d say “one year”. At one year and one month, you’d say “one year” (or, to sound impressive, “over one year”). At one year and four or five months, you’d probably start to say “a year and a half”. It’s not very accurate at one year and seven months to say “nearly two years” when you’ve only just passed halfway. Same goes for one year and eight months. At one year nine, you might start to be accurate when you say “nearly two years”. And when you hit one year eleven, it’s accurate enough to say “two years”, or “two years next month”. But people aren’t always accurate, especially when you get past just a few years and into describing many. Then things become more ambiguous.

For example, my family moved cities ten years ago this April. Sometimes, in January and February, I say “ten years” because four months isn’t so far off when you’re dealing with that many years. Other times, I’m more accurate and say “ten years this April”. But, thinking about it, I don’t often say “nearly ten years”. Why is that?

Put yourself in Trelawney’s shoes for a minute. (Make sure you read the OotP quote above too.) Umbridge is quite candidly harassing you, and dares to inspect you teaching a subject of which she obviously knows very little. She asks you how long you’ve taught there. You are insulted! How dare she! … Oh. That’s actually a reasonable question. You answer.

Let’s read between the lines here. There is a short pause. The reason for it is given…from Harry’s point of view. How many times have we learned not to just trust blindly? I think the reason there is a “slight pause” is not just that Trelawney is insulted. I think she’s deciding how to phrase her statement as well.

Now, if Umbridge thought rather little of you, you’d want to show her, wouldn’t you? For example, if you remembered that you were hired late September, and it was early September, you’d definitely say, “Sixteen years.” It’s close enough, isn’t it? And if you were hired in late August, you can be sure that you wouldn’t say “sixteen years” anymore. No, you’d say, “Over sixteen years.” You wouldn’t be accurate like McGonagall, who “brusquely” (with no pause) said “Thirty-nine years this December” (OotP, p.287). You’d want to seem as experienced as possible. (Unfortunately, this backfired for Trelawney, because the more experience you have, the better you should be at your job.) So accuracy isn’t really the key.

So, how far back into inaccuracy would Trelawney go? Let’s say she was hired in October. That’s fifteen years and eleven months – to me, that constitutes saying sixteen. Ditto for November, fifteen years ten. But what about December, January and February? If she was hired in February of 1980, then she said “Nearly sixteen years” at fifteen years and seven months. I consider this reasonable. She’d be saying “Over fifteen” until she neared fifteen and a half, at which she’d say that, but after passing the halfway mark, and knowing it was too early to say “sixteen”, she’d start saying “nearly sixteen years.” This leaves the Prophecy lying somewhere between the start and end of winter (northern hemisphere), five to three months before Trelawney’s sixteen-year anniversary. She paused, feeling insulted, then decided she’d better answer the question, then decided how to make the truth sound as impressive as possible.

(Immediately this negates my theory in Back to the Prophecy, because for that to be valid, I said the Prophecy may have been made in the months before Harry’s conception. From my analysis of Trelawney’s statement, the Prophecy was probably given in the middle months of Lily’s pregnancy. So no deliberate conception theories.)

But this isn’t the only information we’re given.

According to Dumbledore

“‘The thing that smashed was merely a record of the prophecy kept by the Department of Mysteries. But the prophecy was made to somebody, and that person has the means of recalling it perfectly.’‘Who heard it?’ asked Harry, though he thought he knew the answer already.

‘I did,’ said Dumbledore. ‘On a cold, wet night sixteen years ago, in a room above the bar at the Hog’s Head inn.'”
(OotP, p.740)

Dumbledore says this near the end of June 1996, nine months after Trelawney’s statement, after OWL exams and before everyone leaves to go home for (I assume, not being a northern hemispherian) two months of summer holidays (July and August). Hmm. Assuming Dumbledore is being entirely accurate, this puts the prophecy in June 1980, between one and two months before Harry’s birth. It also puts Trelawney’s appointment at June 1980, which means she said “Nearly sixteen years” at around fifteen years and three months. Could Trelawney really be this inaccurate? Wouldn’t she realize that her facts would be caught out?

Unfortunately, there’s also a bit of confusion with the seasons for Dumbledore’s statement. A “cold, wet night” signifies winter (though not necessarily – I’ve heard rumors of UK weather). However, June is summer in the UK. If the Prophecy really was made in winter (December 1979 – January 1980), as decided above from Trelawney’s statement, Dumbledore said “sixteen years ago” when nearing the sixteen-and-a-half mark.

But, unlike Trelawney, Dumbledore has no reason to overstate how long ago it was made. His job isn’t on the line. He feels no desire to say “over sixteen years ago” to make it sound impressive. As he hasn’t reached the halfway mark, he won’t say “sixteen and a half years ago”, nor will he be more accurate in that by awkwardly saying “nearly sixteen and a half years ago”. Saying “sixteen” is the easy way to say it, and it’s true. It is still accurate to place the Prophecy in the early months of the 80’s. Especially when we consider the following quote:

“‘The odd thing, Harry,’ he said softly, ‘is that it may not have meant you at all. Sybill’s prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year…'”
(OotP, p.742)

Oh, if only I’d reread this before writing Back to the Prophecy! Even I couldn’t be optimistic enough to hope that the Prophecy was made on January 1st, 1980, one or two days before Harry’s conception, seven months before the premature births of Harry and Neville. Or, if Harry and Neville were conceived at the end of October 1979, could the Malfoys, Crabbes and Goyles really be optimistic enough to deliberately conceive in early January and hope their kids would be two months premature, born at the end of July that year rather than early October? The best I can hope for is that the Malfoys, Crabbes and Goyles did conceive children deliberately that year, but only so they’d be as old as Harry just in case Voldemort couldn’t get the information for killing the kid and he survived until school. It’s a very small window of opportunity though. They have to conceive early January and hope the kids are born by September 1st, so that they’ll be eleven when getting on the Hogwarts Express.

Oh well. What we do know from this is that Harry and Neville were definitely already conceived when the Prophecy was made. We also know that it couldn’t have been made in December 1979, even if this was the same winter, because the Prophecy was made the year the kids were born, 1980. This puts the Prophecy somewhere between January 1st, 1980 and February 29th (leap year), 1980. Of course winter weather could have continued later, and Trelawney could have been even more inaccurate than I thought, but that’s unlikely.

On second thoughts …

According to pregnancy

“‘Voldemort tried to kill you when you were a child because of a prophecy made shortly before your birth.'”
(OotP, p.740)

Let’s review our dates. Assuming Harry was born on the date he was due, he was conceived on October 31st, 1979. The Prophecy was made sometime between early January (just over two months later) and late February (around four months later). Harry the fetus had not yet reached halfway when the Prophecy was made – there was still another five to seven months until July 31st, 1980. So how could Dumbledore say this was “shortly before” Harry’s birth?

One possibility is, it’s all relative. When a woman is two months pregnant, you don’t say her child will be arriving “shortly”. It isn’t a short wait. But that’s only in comparison to pregnancies in general. As far as pregnancies go, she has a long way to go. If she were 38 weeks pregnant, then as far as pregnancies go, you’d definitely say the baby will be born shortly.

But what if her water had broken? (Sorry to anyone who’s still watching for storks at night, or who is slightly put-off by me talking like this *cough guys cough*.) What if it was the first few hours of a 48 hour labor? (Ouch!) You wouldn’t pat the woman on the hand and say, “Don’t worry, dear, the baby will come out shortly.” (Well, you might, to be encouraging, so she didn’t lose sight of her goal. But unless she’d already had some drugs, you probably wouldn’t dare.) The birth’s ages away – as far as labors go. Not as far as pregnancies go. If pregnancies were a metre, this would be the final few millimetres.

Or if a woman had been trying to fall pregnant for several years, and perhaps was even at risk of reaching menopause first. Then you might say the baby would be arriving “shortly” in relation to her lifetime, or how long she’d been waiting for this child. You try and try for something for years and years, and then, suddenly, you discover that the thing you’ve been waiting for is less than a year away. You can surely bear waiting that length of time, and it may not seem very long when you think about it.

So perhaps Dumbledore’s not talking in terms of pregnancies. He’s not talking about how soon it was for James and Lily and Harry. He’s talking about how soon it was for him. And for Dumbledore, who wasn’t pregnant with Harry ;), who had been alive for over a hundred years, and who had been tirelessly fighting against Voldemort for the past nine and a half years, five to seven months isn’t so far away. He had been waiting for a glimmer of hope on the horizon for years, like my hypothetical woman, and suddenly, here it was, less than a year away.

He was thinking very realistically. He’d delayed Voldemort reaching full power at that point, but the only thing Dumbledore’s defense did was make it harder and slower for Voldemort to do what he wanted. It took longer, but Voldemort was achieving his goals anyway. Voldemort could soon be indestructible. He was at the height of his power, more powerful than ever before. Dumbledore saw this. While assisting the Order, Dumbledore probably also made it his personal mission to protect Hogwarts at all costs. He needed new generations of battlers and Aurors. He probably really was creating his own army of students – but to take on Voldemort, not the Ministry. (Fudge could have got the idea in OotP from knowing a bit about Dumbledore’s actions during Voldemort’s reign.) He had other plans, too. But, unfortunately, when a side (generally the “good” side) is attacked and never originally had a desire to attack the opposing side, the only hope is to stay one step ahead of the enemy in defense. Things were desperate.

Then, lo and behold, he heard the Prophecy. He hadn’t expected anything to suddenly appear to his advantage. Seven months? Brilliant! An end in sight! Not so long until he’ll be born … hey, I wonder if it’ll be the Potter kid or the Longbottom kid? Wow, lots to do now … protect the Potters and Longbottoms… and then there’s keeping the child safe, because from the moment he’s born he could be killed… we’ll need a Secret-Keeper at some point… going to be a long journey keeping the kid safe until he can somehow vanquish Tom, probably have to protect him for seventeen years… but in comparison, five to seven months until he’s born? That’s nothing!

That’s how I see it, anyway. Of course, another possibility is that “shortly before your birth” meant past the halfway mark. If we take it as four months before Harry’s birth, when Lily was five months pregnant, then the winter weather continued until the end of March. This also means Trelawney said “nearly sixteen years” when it was only fifteen and a half years. I wouldn’t take it into April, though, because that’s horrid spring weather and a massive inaccuracy from Trelawney (under fifteen and a half years). But March is possible. I’m more inclined to go with February, though.

An unlucky day

It seemed, as I investigated this, that not only was my previous theory ruined, but I could also no longer think that there could have been something magic or special about the date the Prophecy was given. It wasn’t made at the exact time of the conception, for example – not Hallowe’en, 1979 (something both magical and coincidental). If we take the year as 1980, it could have been made on February 29th, but there’s nothing very magical about a date that occurs every year the Olympics does (which it did that year). February 29th is only a human invention, anyway, because each year contains 365 1/4 days rather than 365.

Then – oh, then – then I thought, hang on a minute. What if… hey, this could work!!

If we take JKR at her word, that November 1st, 1981, was a Tuesday (PS, p.7), and October 31st a Monday, and we include Febuary 29th, 1980 in our calculations backwards (even though JKR’s made an imaginary universe with her dates, we can still assume they have leap years to keep in touch with the Muggles accurately), then…

(Yes, it did take me an excruciatingly long time to figure this out. I created a calendar, using the days of the week given in PS, dating from October 1st, 1979, to November 30th, 1981. All on Excel through typing. Aren’t you glad I was curious?)

You may say there’s nothing magical about this date. I’ve no idea where the idea originated, so perhaps it too is a stupid human invention… but don’t some say it’s evil? Don’t some say it’s unlucky? That it’s cursed?

You’ve probably guessed it, but I’ll give it to you anyway: February the 13th, 1980, was a Friday.

(GASP! SHOCK! HORROR!)

These days whenever someone mentions that it’s Friday the thirteenth, I say, “Pfft, what a load of ****,” dismissing it as superstitious nonsense. In fact, I’m so determined to prove that it’s stupid that I set out to have a fantastic day, and generally my positive attitude brings one my way. Other people (like Lavendar and Parvati, I’m sure) perceive it to be unlucky and find that it brings misery as a result. And as JKR doesn’t believe in magic, I’m sure she feels the same about Friday the thirteenth.

BUT, even though I doubt we’ll ever discover it from the books themselves, it wouldn’t surprise me if JKR did know what dates she was using when she wrote Philosopher’s Stone, and deliberately changed the days of the week so that the prophecy could fall on Friday the 13th of February, 1980. Although, if I were her, what I’d really love to do is make the Prophecy fall at the exact time of Harry and Neville’s conceptions, which is also Hallowe’en night – October 31st, 1979. Even at midnight. Spooky. On the other hand, all prophecies (I believe) are important, so to put this particular prophecy on Hallowe’en is potentially to lessen the worth of the others. She does get to create this world, after all. She might not want to give the day too much symbolism.

One more thing on this day. Friday the thirteenth (FTT) is perceived as unlucky, but as I said before, that can merely be perception. Perhaps JKR would like to raise the issue of whether we perceive this Prophecy as a good or bad thing, as lucky or unlucky. The Prophecy – the news it brings, and the fact that both sides know of it – directly leads to the death of James and Lily Potter. It leaves Harry in a hellish life for ten years, without a loving family. The fact that Harry doesn’t know of it leads him to Sirius’ rescue – which leads to Sirius’ death, as he tries to rescue his godson. It gives Harry misery. And it could mean Harry’s death.

But, on the other hand, it ended the first reign of Voldemort. It gave Harry powers. It means that even though Voldemort came back stronger than ever, he can be “vanquished”. Harry has become hope for humankind, wizards and Muggles alike.

I would say it isn’t lucky or unlucky. It isn’t even really good or bad. It just is. The Prophecy is. FTT is. Our perceptions may assign them words like “good” or “bad”, but in reality, they’re both. You might have the worst day ever on FTT, but if you live through it and enjoy your Saturday, then the day was good as well. I don’t believe anything is “good” or “bad” – these are all human inventions. All things are a mixture of good and bad, beautiful and ugly, lucky and unlucky, because that’s just the way life is. (You’d have to read John Marsden’s Tomorrow series for more on this perspective. It isn’t my intellectual property.) Anyway, enough with the preaching.

Other unlucky days

So, Friday the thirteenth. The problem is, including this one, there’s actually three FTTs between Harry’s conception and, exactly two years later, the Potters’ death. The first is this one: Feb 13, 1980. The second is August 13, 1980.

“‘DON’T LIE!’ bellowed Black. ‘YOU’D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!'”
(PoA, p.274)

Thank you, Sirius. It’s reasonable to consider that when Voldemort learned of the Prophecy, he may have considered people who had thrice defied him, but he couldn’t really know, even if he knew some were pregnant, that their children would be born in July. Dumbledore would be keeping the information tightly under wraps, for a start. He probably didn’t even let the whole Order know of Harry and Neville’s births – though he couldn’t really stop the parents telling their closest friends. (I say this because it’s said that Dumbledore suspects someone “close to the Potters” is a spy, not just someone in the Order.) If the boys were due at the end of the month, some might be late. It’d be no good going off to kill Blaise Zabini if he was born on August 1 or later. What’s the point? (Apart from the sadistic pleasure, of course.) So I’d say that as soon as July ended, Voldemort decided to find someone in the Order who would know what he needed to find out – what births had occurred in the past few days. Pettigrew, a weakling, was targeted. Thirteen days after Harry’s birth, on FTT of August, 1980, Pettigrew submits, and Voldemort knows of Harry’s birth. Who knows, Pettigrew may have also known of Neville’s birth, the Longbottoms were said to be popular. Alice could have been one of Lily’s friends from school. Or, if not, Dumbledore may have simply told them that Harry wasn’t the only potential One.

“I have thought this through. … 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?”
(JK Rowling, Edinburgh Book Festival)

I see this as another clue to my FTT theory. Christenings (in my experience) usually take place as early as a fortnight and as late as a month after the birth of the child. Try this theory on for size:

Harry is born on July 31st, 1980, so he could be The One. James, Lily, Sirius, Lupin, Pettigrew and Dumbledore are the only ones who know of his existence/date of birth. The idea, then, is that no one should find out that he might be The One, so they shouldn’t need to hide, just stay in the shadows, like normal, avoiding Voldemort (who wouldn’t?).

Unfortunately, Voldemort has other ideas. He knows from Snape being at school with them that Pettigrew is their close friend, but the weakest link. If he can get Pettigrew, he can get his information.

Pettigrew gives in on August 13 – FTT. (Is this unlucky? Or is it lucky, because it leads to Voldemort’s disappearance and Harry being marked?) He tells Voldemort everything he knows – obviously he doesn’t know the whole Prophecy, so he can’t tell him that, but he can tell him that Harry is a July baby, a garnet. Even better, Harry’s the last day of the month. Wherever Voldemort’s getting his information about the Longbottoms, he knows that Neville’s on the 30th, not the 31st. That could be important. He also knows their magical heritage – Harry’s a half-blood.

One of Dumbledore’s spies, possibly Snape (who was probably Voldemort’s other confidante about the Prophecy, before Pettigrew entered, seeing as Snape knew the Potters), alerts Dumbledore to the fact that Voldemort now knows of Harry’s existence. Dumbledore goes psycho. Sirius, Remus, Peter – one of them must be a spy. One of them must have told. Or, maybe a few more people knew. Either way, someone’s not loyal. Dumbledore tells James and Lily.

They freak. Who could it be? One thing they know for sure – they can trust Sirius. There’s no doubt in James’ mind. They don’t care if one of them’s a spy. They were going to make Sirius godfather anyway – they’ll just limit their christening invitations to him. Even Dumbledore won’t come. You can’t be too sure, they seem to think.

After the christening they go into hiding. (Remember, this is my theory. You don’t have to agree with it; it’s just an idea.) They use the Fidelius charm, with Dumbledore as the Secret-Keeper. James and Lily trust Sirius, Remus and Peter, so they give Dumbledore permission to give the location to their friends (probably some of Lily’s friends too). Obviously the Potters wouldn’t want to completely shut themselves off from their friends if they could help it. It’s still the same people – Sirius, Remus, Peter and Dumbledore (all that we know of). They know of Harry, they know where the Potters are. Voldemort still can’t do anything, though, because Peter’s not the Secret-Keeper. All Peter can do is keep passing information along, but not too obviously, of course.

As the months go by, it becomes apparent that they will need to isolate themselves after all. One of them is clearly a spy. This is where our third FTT comes in: May 13, 1981. They’re nearing Harry’s first birthday. Whatever happens on that day, it’s probably a safety issue. Perhaps Dumbledore gets the first notice that one of them is a spy. Perhaps Pettigrew passes on some vital information. Perhaps Dumbledore suggests performing the Fidelius charm again, but not telling those friends. Perhaps Lily and James decide that if they do it again, Sirius will be the Secret-Keeper so that Dumbledore can keep his mind on other things. Perhaps Peter manages to convince Sirius that Lupin is the spy, and Lupin that Sirius is the spy (they say they suspected each other in PoA). Perhaps they decide they won’t perform the charm again unless further information is leaked.

Anyway, by October 24th, 1981, James and Lily are aware of the need to have a Secret-Keeper who doesn’t have permission to tell anyone – not even the other friends. They talk amongst themselves. They talk with Dumbledore. They tell Dumbledore they’ve decided on Sirius – not that it was really a decision. Dumbledore hesitates, saying he thinks it would be better if he was Secret-Keeper again. (Hasn’t he proved himself this far? If Dumbledore was the spy, there wouldn’t be an Order, and Voldemort would have already killed Harry.) James, knowing James, is outraged. He can’t believe Dumbledore suspects Sirius. Dumbledore simply says he thinks one of their friends is a spy. James and Lily relax. “Oh, it’s okay Dumbledore, we’ve already figured it out – Lupin is the spy.” James, of course, would have agreed with Sirius, and no doubt they had some reason to suspect Lupin. Maybe Lupin did love Lily, and they think he’s bitter and has turned to Voldemort as a result. Whatever.

James and Lily tell Sirius they trust him and want him to be the Secret-Keeper. Sirius goes great, let’s do it today, but for whatever reason they don’t. Maybe it takes a while to perform the charm. Maybe it’s because they’re aware of the dangers – if Voldemort finds Sirius, and tortures him … well, is Sirius prepared for that? And would Sirius tell Voldemort if he was being tortured into insanity? Sirius thinks, maybe he would. He’s prepared to put his life on the line, but what if Voldemort finds him and reads his mind? Anyway, in the meantime Sirius decides, with or without a casual suggestion from Pettigrew: Pettigrew should be Secret-Keeper.

“‘Lily and James only made you Secret-Keeper because I suggested it,’ Black hissed, so venomously that Pettigrew took a step backwards. ‘I thought it was the perfect plan… a bluff… Voldemort would be sure to come after me, would never dream they’d use a weak, talentless thing like you… it must have been the finest moment of your miserable life, telling Voldemort you could hand him the Potters.'”
(PoA, p.271)

Lily and James agree. 🙁

A week before Hallowe’en, when the first Fidelius charm has been ended, the second Fidelius charm is cast, making Pettigrew the Secret-Keeper. To divert suspicion, Pettigrew and Sirius decide that Pettigrew will have a hiding place, while Sirius will be a bit more reckless, make himself a bit more obvious, though still hiding, so that Voldemort believes Sirius is the Secret-Keeper and goes after him. Meanwhile, Lupin, the “spy”, doesn’t know anything of the plan, assuming, of course, that Sirius is Secret-Keeper, as was said in conversation a while back. Not that this means much: without knowing the location, even if he was the spy, he can’t tell Voldemort where to find the Potters. Dumbledore too thinks Sirius is the Secret-Keeper. James, Lily, Sirius and Peter can’t really tell him anyway – it was all done at the last minute, and none of them can go in the open to tell Dumbledore, because they’re all meant to be hiding. And the secret is safe with Pettigrew…

Conclusion

I told you it would be long. But, now, here we are at the end. Phew. And what have we learned, boys and girls (and others)?

In no particular order, I hope you learned…

1)That Back to the Prophecy was an interesting idea 😉 but has been upturned as a load of ****.

2) That the Prophecy was made in 1980 in winter weather (even if in another season), most likely in January or February, and possibly on Friday, February 13th, 1980.

3) That Dumbledore has never been pregnant and cannot understand that seven months is rather a long time when you are. 🙂

4) That Trelawney will exaggerate to sound impressive when she thinks she won’t be caught out. (Harry’s death, anyone?)

5) That it takes a long time to create a twenty-five month calendar from scratch, especially if you’re not very good at using Microsoft Excel and are prone to making numerical mistakes.

6) That I should always check all facts in all resources before writing an editorial.

7) That you should always check MuggleNet a few months after I post an editorial to see if I’ve rebutted it with new facts I’ve found when not following #6.

8) That JKR’s dates don’t match her days of the week, so beware.

9) That, perhaps, things all come down to perception, because without humans there’d be no good or evil, just life and death. But not if you’re religious. Sorry. Please don’t berate me. I’m religious too, but probably not in the same way as you. Never mind.

10) That you should all find and read the Tomorrow series, by John Marsden. The first book is called Tomorrow, When the War Began or just When the War Began. If you find an old edition, in a library, it’ll probably tell you it’s a trilogy, but it’s now a septology (no link to Hazza P though). The series basically invents a modern-day war where Australia is invaded and a group of teenagers manage to avoid capture. If you’re not big on war stories, though, I’ll at least say that there’s drama and action and death and emotion, but there’s not a lot of gruesome or horrific scenes or tales, like you’d find with the Holocaust. Marsden’s a fantastic writer of teenage fiction, wrote one of my favourite books (Winter), and is now writing a follow-up series to the original series, the first of which is called While I Live. I haven’t read that one, but I’ve heard that it’s brilliant. If Robbie hasn’t reviewed these in the Book Trolley, someday he should.

11) That I have very little access to the internet this year and would prefer if you didn’t email me to tell me a) you liked it b) you didn’t like it (I did warn you) c) there’s something inaccurate in it d) you have an idea that links to it or e) you don’t understand something in it. All of these things would be better in a Chamber of Secrets discussion, if anyone feels the urge to start one. I’ll try to check for any discussion of it within two months. Look out for ‘loopylikeluna’.

12) … Nope, that’s all. Bye for now, thanks for reading this far! 🙂