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Random questions about HP - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Random questions about HP
Chapter 21 of Shifts (Christmas Cheer) is at SQ. A few bits of wording clarified.

Just odd questions about HP. Some may be answered somewhere, but I just don't know about it.

  1. Minerva took over the Transfiguration post several years before Albus became headmaster (even presuming Dumbledore was in for a few years before Lupin started--long enough to get things arranged for him--it would be awhile). Where was Albus Dumbledore during those years?

  2. If a metamorphmagus became an animagus, would his/her animal form be able to change shape? (No, I have no fanfic intentions in that direction. Tonks's word on the subject in my head is, "God, no. I reckon I'd turn into a butterfly or something else totally useless in a fight, and just get splatted on a wall somewhere!" I'm just curious, in theory.)

  3. Okay, we complain about transfer student fics, but what on Earth does happen when a witch or wizard from abroad relocates to Britain with children between 11 and 18? How would that work, with the house system and so on?

  4. When a Muggle-born or half-blood is part of a wedding (as in, the bride or groom), what do they tell the extended Muggle family? Is it made a totally non-magical wedding? (In which case little wizard babies can't come.) Or is it limited to people in the know? (Which might eliminate the Muggle-born's favorite cousin in the whole wide world.) Or do they have two weddings? Or do they cap off the reception with a huge Obliviate? Enquiring minds want to know. Same question for events in the children's lives. Wouldn't old Aunt March be offended if little that odd little Jo never brought the baby by to visit?

  5. Okay, so St. Mungo's was made to be unobtrusive, and sick wizards could blend into the crowd outside. But, hello, even costuming aside, sick wizards have things like, you know, wings. So, how else to do people get in off the street, and if there's another entrance, why do they need the street entrance?

Soundtrack: An Evening With John Denver--my nostalgia must be stopped!

42 comments or Leave a comment
ashtur From: ashtur Date: March 12th, 2005 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, for random guesswork (i.e. Nothing is sure)

4. I think the wedding is kept to the absolute minimum... ie. just the immediate family of the Muggle involved. It's clear that Vernon "knew" about James and Lily even before their deaths. After that, I guess the muggle or muggleborn is expected to "distance" themselves from the family.

5. I bet that St. Mungo's has the same sort of charm that the Quidditch Pitch did for the World Cup... that it "encourages" non magical types to look elsewhere.
It's also possible that Molly and company used the "alternate" entrance out onto a muggle road (instead of Floo or the like) for the same reason that they didn't Floo to GP when they heard about the injury. It was just another way to help keep Harry's location "under wraps"
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: March 12th, 2005 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Your questions are very incisive and I don't beleive answered anywhere. If JKR doesn't answer them, I expect it's up to we fanauthors to explain it.

And this question?

Okay, we complain about transfer student fics, but what on Earth does happen when a witch or wizard from abroad relocates to Britain with children between 11 and 18? How would that work, with the house system and so on?

I've wondered about it myself. I think an American (or whatever) transfer student is not entirely unreasonable. It's just overdone and oft poorly done. *nods*
mbmargarita From: mbmargarita Date: March 13th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
my supposition would be: the student would keep going to their original school, despite the family's relocation. Travel would be a bit more complicated really-- we don't know yet much about transcontinental travel in the wizarding world, aside from the fact that it can be done-- but it's not like the student goes home much anyway!
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: March 13th, 2005 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that might be a bit silly, no offense. Say for example, a Muggle is in the American military and then stationed in Britain when his daughter is 10. He finds out is daughter is a witch. Why would he send her back to America when he is in Britain? He might be worried, I know would be. I can see if the child is already attending, them continuing to attend their schools (though it's still a bit of a stretch, and I think the parents' option.) Honestly, we know that switching schools is possible based on what Draco said at the beginning of GoF, he could have gone to Dursmstrangs. Honestly, American transfer students don't really bother me, they're not that ridiculous. No more ridiculous than a lot of fanon ideas out there, actually (like say, Snape having a long-lost daughter or some such.) It's the inevitable fact that most of them are Mary Sue/Gary Stus that bother me. The idea in of itself has merit and though I've yet to see it carried off well, it could be. Don't knock the idea, just the execution of it.
ladysorka From: ladysorka Date: March 13th, 2005 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)
But what if the Wizards in, say, New Zealand, go to a day school?

I imagine that flooing/portkeying cross-continents daily would be more than a bit of a hassle, if not downright impossible or unhealthy.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2005 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
1. Did she? I know it says how many years she'd been teaching but I don't remember it saying how many years Dumbledore had been Headmaster. Her teaching years wouldn't have overlapped with Tom Riddle's student days (or I think they wouldn't [I did figure that part out once but can't remember the numbers right now]).

2. This conjures up memories of when Angel became a puppet but could still become a vampire faced puppet.

Er, my guess is yes, but I'm betting it's actually more difficult for a metamorphmagus to become an animagus. They already have a strong shapechanging gift but it's carefully structured in a different direction. My guess is that the talents are related and tend to turn up more commonly in the same families, but a metamorphmagus' talent would actually get in the way of trying to become an animal. If one managed it without getting stuck somewhere or becoming a headless slug, I think the morphing ability would carry over to the animal shape.

3. I assume transfer students have to get under the Sorting Hat before the feast, possibly having to come early. The only transfer fic idea I ever worked on had a Hogwarts' professor's child first going to Beauxbatons because it was felt it would be easier not to have to teach family only to have the student get hauled home as the war with Voldemort heated up.

4. I've seen weddings where different faiths, families, and legal systems all played a part. Most people will bend over backwards to arrange weddings and/or receptions so that their near and dear can attend regardless of the barriers. Immediate family and in-laws are allowed to know. I'm not sure if that would include cousins. However, I suppose a wizarding family can manage to have their children on their "public" behavior for one day (and pass off the slips the same way Harry's bits of magic before he got his letter were passed off. After all, if you can keep a wizard who's flying onto rooftops and shrinking sweaters from knowing he's magical, keeping others from knowing it should be a snap).

5. St. Mungo's needs a street entrance for wizards who don't want to floo in, can't floo in because they're not at home or in Diagon Alley when the problem hits, or can't floo because the nature of the problem keeps them from flooing. There are also Squibs, magical beings who may not be able to floo, and probably other things I haven't thought of. In the case of children with wings who are trying to fly away, I suppose parents either use a charm to disguise them or try to pass it off as something else (Christmas pageant angel costume with battery powered wings? Throw a blanket over the wings and pretend they're not there? Throw a blanket over the child and pretend they're holding a bird?).
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: March 12th, 2005 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, we complain about transfer student fics, but what on Earth does happen when a witch or wizard from abroad relocates to Britain with children between 11 and 18? How would that work, with the house system and so on?

Would anything really have to happen? Most students end-up only traveling 2 times per year from school to home, or vice versa (4 times if they go home over Christmas break.) So, I'd assume that they'd be able to remain at their current school, and just have to travel home through some magical means (Floo Network, Portkey, etc.)
neotoma From: neotoma Date: March 12th, 2005 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty sure boarding schools were never as common in America as they were in Britain. I'd suspect that American schools are day schools with the students Flooing/Portkeying in every day, instead of boarding schools, so the idea of staying at the same school doesn't quite work.
midnitemaraud_r From: midnitemaraud_r Date: March 13th, 2005 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm. Well, if you think about it, the American Wizards who founded the schools would have come over from Europe (well, except for any 'Native American' wizards, but still...) sometime in the past few hundred years. It would make much more sense for an American wizarding school to be modeled on the European counterparts. After all, we do have boarding type schools here - military academies for one.

And there would probably be several American schools because of the population percentages. How would students be separated into schools - by location? Considering that students aren't allowed to use magic outside of school, having a wizarding day school isn't practical either.
neotoma From: neotoma Date: March 13th, 2005 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, the absolute oldest school on the continent (which is just as likely to be in Canada as in America) is probably a boarding school. But I seriously doubt any newer school is.

Considering that students aren't allowed to use magic outside of school,

Err, as far as we know, that's *British* Wizarding Law, not American or Canadian. Also, portkeys and the Floo system don't apparently count as 'working magic out of school', because they are transport systems just like the Knight Bus, and Harry definitely was able to use *that* out of school.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 13th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, the absolute oldest school on the continent (which is just as likely to be in Canada as in America)...

Yes! It's called Stellaria and it's in the Laurentian Mountains my brain...

Errr... ;)
neotoma From: neotoma Date: March 13th, 2005 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, there is also the question whether North American wizardry makes any distinction between Canada and the States, as they were both British colonies when the Secrecy Statute was enacted.

I'm totally with the idea of the oldest magical school being in Canada, but given that Canada has a smaller population that Britain, I bet it's either very small, or takes a large percentage of its students from the States.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 13th, 2005 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I was working with its being very small... I want it to have a Lower School and also an Upper School, more recently established, kinda the equivalent of university. I think there's probably also one in the Maritime provinces and one out west... I hadn't thought as far as the States but I need to. This conversation has reminded me that I meant to brush up on my knowledge of Canadian history so that I could think this through more thoroughly.
neotoma From: neotoma Date: March 13th, 2005 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Given that Hogwarts is the only school in Britain, I don't think Canada can support more than one secondary school unless each one has about 50 students total, or a huge number of students come up from the States.

I do think that the Upper School is more likely on this side of the Atlantic, though. European wizardry seems to have given up their participation in university when the Statute of Secrecy was enacted. I can see North American wizards, with cultures that were barely started when the Statute began, founding their own higher learning schools, though I suspect that there are at most three very small colleges, one in Canada and one on each coast of the Sstates.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 13th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
My problem is that I've been thinking about it based just on land size/area, with a very very rough historical background, and not been thinking about population at all. Ooops. Okay, so three secondary schools... how many lower schools, do you think? I'm inclined to think that in a country so large - Canada or the States, really - and that developed in a sort of piece-by-piece way, with different provinces/states joining the party at different times, that there would be more schools, but smaller ones. I've been reading a bit about the history of Newfoundland for a sociology assignment in the past week or so, so just using it as an example - its history is really interesting because it was probably one of the first areas of Canada to be inhabited at all, but in an official capacity, dead last. I was trying to think about how the wizarding population might have developed in conjunction with that but had to force myself to stop because I have to actually finish the assignment at some point!
neotoma From: neotoma Date: March 13th, 2005 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, so three secondary schools... how many lower schools, do you think?

Three university (post-secondary) level schools, but only about 500 students each there. I'd say one in Montreal (or Toronto?), one in Massachusetts, and one in California.

In America, there would have been one secondary school in New England -- I think we can say it's the Salem Witches Institute, though JKR probably meant something else entirely, as 'institute' in Britain apparently usually means something like a women's social club more than a school -- and one in the old South, probably in Virginia. The one in Virginia started out as a boys' school, and might still be so.

There would be one in New Orleans, possibly one in St. Louis, and one in California, possibly at an old mission site.

In Canada, there would have been one in Montreal and on in either Toronto or Kingston -- given that Ottawa is only recently the capital, I don't think the Ontario school would be there -- and possibly a school further west found by Metis wizards.

Anyway, before we completely spam fernwithy's lj, I moving my thoughts to my own livejournal so that we can ramble at length.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 13th, 2005 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Also I think it's viable that the oldest school on the continent, wherever it is, probably adheres pretty closely to the British model - probably even with the house system - but the newer schools would be different: possibly smaller, more localised day schools, etc.

I need to stop thinking about this. I have lots of homework. Aaahh!! ;)
From: dphearson Date: March 13th, 2005 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)
O think hat Wozarding schools would actually be smaller, well numbered schools that may form a sort of consortium for educational standards. The population of students would be diverse- or at least, the students would be expsoed to diverse things, so there may be a difference it what is taught ( Other than Hogwarts.)

And I really think that it would be day schools- remember, pioneer children were needed at home.
midnitemaraud_r From: midnitemaraud_r Date: March 13th, 2005 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh - I have no problems with the using of floos, but I think it would be VERY difficult for Muggleborns to get unobtrusively to and from school. ANd it would probably be rather unsettling for the families. And while portkeys are used for the Quidditch World Cup, and occasionally in the plot of the books, from the manner in which they have been presented to us, it seems to take a lot of coordination and effort to have so many of them functioning at once, and for daily use like that... They're regulated by the ministry, and if they were so 'simple', I think people would use them much more regularly than the floo. I just don't see the wizarding community as being as all that "Americanized". I mean, look at British Wizarding society. They know so little about the muggle world around them. What we do know of wizarding society as a whole is that they tend to be traditional and even archaic in some respects. Even with American influences of progressive thinking, I think they would still be more 'old fashioned' than muggle American culture.

Also, regarding not using magic out of school, unless homework assignments were all reading and essays, I think it would be difficult to practice practical magic at home. The 'no magic outside school' may be only a "British" thing, but I personally don't think so. Who would want children to have that much freedom especially when they're just learning how to do most spells. In a sense it's like a driver's license. Just because someone learns to drive at age 12 doesn't mean you want them getting a license and driving. It's a practical law. And considering that the of-age laws in America tend to be higher for certain things - like drinking - but lower for others (driving) - it's hard to really make a definite presumption.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 13th, 2005 05:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Just judging on reactions to boarding schools in America, plus the tendency to want to keep all schooling local, I have a feeling that wizarding education would be much more on the day school level here, with maybe one or two major boarding schools. Perhaps regional ones, based on differing regional interests--I can't see Bostonian witches and wizards sending their kids off to California, or Albuquerque parents sending their kids to Toronto.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 13th, 2005 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't understand anybody sending their kids to Toronto! ;)
neotoma From: neotoma Date: March 13th, 2005 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, the University is pretty!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 13th, 2005 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm biased. I don't go there. ;)
mbmargarita From: mbmargarita Date: March 13th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, so I said above, though without reading the whole thread of course.
rose_in_shadow From: rose_in_shadow Date: March 12th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
1) My timeline might be off, but would that be when Dumbledore fought the Dark wizard Grendelweld around the 1940s?

2) I like what someone else has already said. The talent to shapeshift probably runs in the family, but it would probably be harder for a metamorphmagus to become an animagus.

3) I assume that every other wizarding school has a house system or similar, so perhaps in those cases the transfer student is simply routed to the House that was most similar to their first school? I read very well written fic in which the student choose which Hogwarts house she wanted to be in since it was the middle of the year.

4) I wouldn't be surprised if they pulled off a double-wedding or something. If Jo lets us get a glimpse of the Potter's wedding we would know more.

5) I doubt St. Mungo's street entrance is the only way. Perhaps there's a Knight Bus type of wizard ambulance. I have an unfinished fic in which the characters go to an emergency portkey to St. Mungo's in Diagon Alley; only for use of injured persons unable to Apparate or otherwise get to the hospital.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: March 12th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
1. Umbridge only asks McGonagall how long she's been teaching at Hogwarts, not how long she's been teaching Transfiguration. So it's possible McGonagall taught another subject first. OTOH, it could just be that JKR is bad at math.

3. I imagine they would be sorted just like the first-years, and probably with the first-years. That might feel a little weird, but then at least their house-mates would see them get sorted and know to welcome them.

From: pyxidis Date: March 12th, 2005 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
*sigh* I have no answers for you, but this reminds me of my own mind boggling question. I've been asking everyone I know, because I really can't figure it out, my favorite theory changes every other minute.

What happens to the fidelius charm if the secret keeper dies?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 12th, 2005 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Well... let's just say I wouldn't offer to be a Secret Keeper for Death Eater.
murgatroyd314 From: murgatroyd314 Date: March 12th, 2005 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
What I'd assume is that when the secret keeper dies, it becomes possible to discover the concealed information by normal means.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: March 12th, 2005 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I've always assumed the opposite - that if the secret keeper dies then the information they preserved is preserved forever. Otherwise breaking a secret is as easy as bumping off its keeper and that doesn't seem too secure. The Fidelius charm always struck me as a matter of faith - the secret must be given willingly or not at all - and dying to preserve it is holding the faith. I actually had an idea for a fic about this once though I don't imagine I'll ever write it - Sirius stayed the secret keeper and was killed and Lily, James and Harry were stuck in a preserved, protected limbo...;) I expect when a person is involved, they could break the charm themselves by voluntarily making themselves known or if another person knows the secret but is not keeper they could continue to visit a house such as Grimmauld Place even if the secret keeper was dead. But if nobody knew and the keeper died I reckon it would vanish to oblivion....

kikei From: kikei Date: March 12th, 2005 12:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's what I'm thinking too. There's always a niggling thought, and an idea that suddeny decided it wanted to be more vocal after re-reading PoA and watching the movie- what if Peter had died rather than betray James and Lily? extreme AU, probably, but yeah. if things had been a little different.

ncp From: ncp Date: March 12th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
This I know, for some reason. Flitwiack said the Fidelius works by hiding the secret inside a "living soul" (his exact words). So if the soul is no longer living, then the secret is no longer hidden, and it's just a matter of time until people discover it by normal means.

BUt what happens if the Secret Keeper gets Kissed?
midnitemaraud_r From: midnitemaraud_r Date: March 13th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah - but when the body dies, does the soul actually die as well? I'm no theologian - much closer to being Agnostic than the Jewish I was raised as. Also, I can't help but think of the ghosts at Hogwarts. What if the secret keeper died and became a ghost?
rosefyre From: rosefyre Date: March 12th, 2005 05:58 am (UTC) (Link)
1. Not only did she take it over before Albus became Headmaster, she took it over in December...and yes, that specific wording is in the book. I assume that there was an emergency of some sort, but exactly what happened, I don't know.

2. I don't think so - you might notice that Tonks always stays both female and human. I don't think she can change species. And thus, while she's an animal, she might be able to change the color of her fur or eyes, or make herself bigger or smaller, but it would be the same species and still female.

3. I assume most witches and wizards don't move around all that much - most of the families (at least the purebloods) seem to have lived in England for years upon years. As to Muggleborns? Well, it's a boarding school. I would bet they just have to figure out a way to get to King's Cross, take the train to Hogwarts, and then don't go home for vacations. I'd assume that most of the other schools are the same - Beauxbatons and Durmstrang both seem to be boarding schools as well, so I'd figure the kids would just stay at the same school.

4. I think that depends on the people involved. I'd bet that they make it more Muggle than not, if they want Muggle guests to be there. I'd also bet on the rituals being pretty similar. There may be a more private ceremony, with a magical component, but as the immediate family seems to know, I'd bet that they'd be invited to that. No Obliviate, I would think. That makes no sense. And for Muggleborns, it's probably easy enough to teach your kids to at least pass in the Muggle world - you've grown up there.

5. Possibly that's a guest entrance, not one for sick people?
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: March 12th, 2005 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmmm. Good questions. :)

1) That hadn't even occured to me but you're absolutely right - 39 years from 1995 assumes she started in 1956, at least 10 years minimum before it's implied by Remus that Dumbledore became headmaster. I've seen it suggested above that McGonagall taught something else - but who's to say that Dumbledore didn't change subjects? Given the casualty rate for DADA, perhaps they lost a teacher suddenly and Dumbledore taught that subject instead. After all, he ought to know it! Or we don't know that Dumbledore consistantly taught at Hogwarts - perhaps he took a few years break for rest or research - hell, he was old enough to retire even then! - and then was invited back has headteacher when Dippet retired.

2) I would say probably not but to be honest I haven't the foggiest! :)

3) I think somebody already said - why would they have to change? A good portkey or two would see them back to their old school at the start of the year, most likely.

4) I would say - it depends on the couple. I suspect the Ministry has guidelines regarding muggle relatives but I would have thought the couple would handle it as they saw fit - have a muggle wedding and restrain the wizarding relatives, have a wizard wedding and not invite out-of-the-know muggles, or have both for both sides.

5) I've always assumed St Mungo's has a floo connection but since we've had no proof that the fire at Grimmauld Place works for anything but head-communications (it would make sense for a top secret headquarters not to be openly on the transport network) that the public entrance was the only option. Plus they probably didn't want Harry's presence to be monitored by the Ministry and we know the fires are watched.

That was fun. :)
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: March 12th, 2005 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
My friend Kirill was wondering what would happen if a werewolf became an animagus...
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: March 12th, 2005 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would they be able to? It sounds daft but I doubt their body would be able to handle more than the one change. Though it would be interesting to see what happened if a werewolf actually did bite a human form animagus...
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: March 12th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suggested that perhaps it's like computer, there's only one memory register, and it's already got the wolf in it. Still, I doubt that would protect an animagus the other way 'round. If there were even the slightest possibility of that, everyone would believe it was true, given the amount of disinformation about 'em in the first couple books.

I propose we test our theories on Rita...
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: March 12th, 2005 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
3. With Floo Powder, I see no reason for a move to mess up schooling. I suppose if the witch/wizard (though generally always a witch) used to go to a day school and they don't want to board, then she would switch to Hogwarts. If she did transfer, then I think that she would either have a private Sorting (so she wouldn't be embarrassed to be Sorted with the firsties) or she would be Sorted normally with the firsties, but with no explanation or "tell us about yourself"- I hate this because Dumbledore doesn't make everyone stand up there and talk about theirselves, so why should she?

However, I did write a Transfer Student story for icandobetter (Mangled Culture) with a semi-plausible reason for the transfer.

From: fungus_files Date: March 12th, 2005 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
great questions! not much to offer on top of what others have already said, except for one:

4. the wedding question - if the couple did try to keep it low-key and mostly non-magical, I would imagine that any anomalies or 'lapses' by the Wizarding folk would happily be written off by attending Muggles as Weird In-Laws syndrome. ;)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 13th, 2005 03:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Mixed weddings

Three simple words:

Renaissance Faire Handfastings!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 13th, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been thinking about the transfer student deal, too, because I'm sure there'd be at least some situations where the parents would rather their kid went to school in the same country, especially if the old school is somewhere like the U.S. or Australia that is pretty far away. I'd say that the kids can keep going to their old school if that's more practical, but if they prefer to transfer to Hogwarts and speak good enough English, they could just pull on the Sorting Hat before the feast, while the first-years are being taken into the castle by the boats. And then the Head of House would take them to that table and tell the rest of the House that this is a new student and will be in such-and-such year, make sure that you show him around and all that.

- Polestar
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