Harry Potter and the Two Twenty-Year Anniversaries

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Harry Potter and the First Adventure 20 Years Ago

I wanted to open this article with "It was twenty years ago today..." but every time I did so, Paul McCartney began to scream in my ear. Perhaps I could start with "One score and zero years ago," without raising zombie Lincoln, but it just seems awkward.

Was it really twenty years ago that I sat down with this unassuming title, selected with little fanfare and to which I quickly became hooked? That would have made me thirty years old. Which reminds me, I hate math.

But it was twenty years, and the Internet is happily buzzing with Pottermania once more. It's a testament to the storytelling that it is remembered this far out, and is still selling to a new generation of readers.

But while the world focuses on the big twentieth anniversary, there's another twentieth anniversary in Potter lore that quietly goes unnoticed, or is spoken of in hushed whispers in dark corners of Knockturn Alley. The Anniversary of You-Know-What it has come to be called. And it's coming.

You see, 19 years ago (according to the epilogue chapter in THE DEATHLY HALLOWS), Harry Potter finally had his climactic face-off with Tom Marvolo Riddle -- Lord Voldemort -- after having solved the mystery of the horcruxes which kept the leader of the Death Eaters alive all those years. And as he stares him down, he does something utterly unremarkable: he reveals himself, and avoids all items that might help him -- his invisibility cloak, his wand... and one other thing:

Nobody spoke. They seemed as scared as Harry, whose heart was now throwing itself against his ribs as though determined to escape the body he was about to cast aside. He hands were sweating as he pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and stuffed it beneath his robes, with his wand. He did not want to be tempted to fight.
“I was, it seems . . . mistaken,” said Voldemort.
“You weren’t.”
Harry said it as loudly as he could, with all the force he could muster. He did not want to sound afraid. The Resurrection Stone slipped from between his numb fingers, and out of the corner of his eyes he saw his parents, Sirius, and Lupin vanish as he stepped forward into the firelight. At that moment he felt that nobody mattered but Voldemort. It was just the two of them.

Yes, the Resurrection Stone -- a magical item that could temporarily bring back the dead. Unlike many of the magical items and horcruxes mentioned in the final story of the Harry Potter Epic, The Deathly Hallows, the Resurrection Stone was not destroyed. It's just laying there on the floor of the Forbidden Forest. Author J.K. Rowling has been asked about it, and has stated she'd like to believe that it was stepped on by a centaur's hoof and pushed firmly into the ground.

But the book ends with a flash into the future. Specifically nineteen years into the future, as Harry and Ginny Potter send their children off to Hogwarts, including their first-year son, Albus Severus Potter.

Now, there are all kinds of time periods Rowling could have picked. Nothing wrong with a good "twelve years later" for sending off a first year student to Hogwarts. Even "fifteen years later" is a nice looking number allowing Harry and Ginny time to set up house before expanding the Potter family line.

But nineteen years later allows for something -- it allows for the defeat of Lord Voldemort to have its 20th anniversary while Albus Severus is wandering the halls of Hogwarts, who might, one expect, solemnly swear that he is up to no good.

Anniversaries are curious things, especially in magical worlds. Might this not be the perfect time in the Potter world for a new series of adventures? And might it not be perfectly timed to launch such an adventure on the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first adventure?