On This Day in “Potter” History, Everything Went Wrong
On this day in Potter history, the news would have slowly begun to spread in the earliest hours of the morning. Mere hours before, James and Lily had been murdered by Lord Voldemort, but somehow their young son had survived the attack, stripping Voldemort of his power in the process. The Dark Lord’s reign of terror ended with a tragedy of spectacular proportions.
On this day in Potter history, Peter Pettigrew arrived at the ruins of the Potter home in the early morning and absconded with Voldemort’s wand. He ran away without a backward glance at the bodies of his former friends and without a care for the child screaming in his crib. Later in the day, he blasted apart a suburban street, killing 12 Muggles. The crime would be so atrocious, so horrifying, that authorities wouldn’t think twice about sending the only man left standing, Sirius Black, to Azkaban for life. Meanwhile, Peter arrived in his Animagus form in the garden of the Burrow – perhaps that very evening – to await his master’s return.
On this day in Potter history, Hagrid arrived soon after Peter left to take baby Harry from the ruins on Dumbledore’s orders. He spent the whole day with Harry, and though we do not know exactly what happened, I like to imagine that Hagrid made sure Harry was well fed, that his injury was taken care of, and that he was all right after the horrific events of the previous night before finally bringing him to Privet Drive. There he reluctantly left him, trusting that Dumbledore had the boy’s best interests at heart.
On this day in Potter history, Sirius Black arrived at the scene with a sick feeling in his stomach, having checked on Peter earlier and found no one at home. His worst suspicions were confirmed once he saw their bodies in the ruins of their house. He begged Hagrid to give him his godson, but Hagrid would gently refuse. Sirius’s grief soon morphed into a frightful rage, everything driven from his mind but the urge to find Peter Pettigrew and kill him. But when he finally cornered the rat, Peter framed him, massacred a dozen people, and then disappeared. All Sirius could do as he stood there, taking in the carnage and the hopelessness of the situation, was laugh and laugh as he was taken to Azkaban.
On this day in Potter history, Minerva McGonagall sat on the wall of Privet Drive all day in her Animagus form, waiting for the one person she trusted: Albus Dumbledore. All day, she tried hard not to think of the dreadful rumor that the Potters, her favorite students and some of the best people she knew, were dead. Later that day, she was once again devastated by the news that it was their best friend and another favorite student, Sirius Black, who had betrayed them and massacred 13 people.
On this day in Potter history, Remus Lupin woke up to the news that almost everyone he loved had been destroyed in a single day. As the day progressed, blow after blow landed in Remus’s stomach; James and Lily had been murdered in the night; Sirius, his closest friend, had betrayed them all; Sirius had massacred Peter Pettigrew and 12 Muggles; Sirius had laughed as he was being led off to Azkaban; Harry had been taken away. Remus would spend the next 12 years in isolation. 12 years later, in the early hours of November 1, Remus searched for the shadow of his former friend in the darkness of the castle, wracked with guilt over the secrets he kept from Dumbledore.
On this day in Potter history, tiny Harry Potter fell asleep as he was flying with Hagrid over Bristol. He would wake swaddled in blankets on an unfamiliar doorstep the next morning. The events of the previous night would fade quickly from his mind, leaving only an oddly shaped scar and a flash of green light behind.
On this day in Potter history, let’s raise our wands and remember, for even a few moments, the tragedy that marked the beginning of Harry’s story, known today by “every child in the world.”
On this day, Harry Potter began.