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Hmm.... - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
I know that by common figuring, I have the Marauders one year too old (I thought an interview regarding GoF was about PoA, and figured them for 35-36 in PoA), but I got a comment on Shifts that puzzled me, as it said, more or less, "I like it, but isn't Tonks only 7 or 13 years younger than Remus?" Thirteen, I get--age her up one year, and Remus down the customary year (which, in normative language, would be his actual age). No big.

But how could she be only seven years younger? Remus is a contemporary of Harry's parents; Tonks is the daughter of Bellatrix's younger (or, at most, twin) sister, and Bellatrix was at school with Snape (though fairly obviously from the birth order, not in the same year). Early twenties would still make Andromeda a very young mother--early thirties would have her born when her parents were about nine!

Does anyone know where the "seven years" thing comes from? I don't mean to be like, "How could anyone think that?" but just.... it was said so casually (and as an alternative to 13, rather than a range) that I assume there must be some theory explaining how she's that old!
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fiatincantatum From: fiatincantatum Date: October 28th, 2005 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, she has to be at least seven years older than Harry... because she's never seen him in person before when we first see her in OotP (or so I took her comment about him looking like she thought he would.)
From: tunxeh Date: October 28th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not convinced. Harry doesn't know or recognize lots of students. If she were, say, five years older than Harry, I doubt he'd think he'd seen her before. I think for the Harry-Tonks gap we have to go by the auror training time only, and not by whether they would have overlapped at Hogwarts.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 28th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
She also hadn't seen him before OotP--when she goes in at Privet Drive, she's excited to see what Harry Potter looks like. If she'd been an older student, she'd have seen him at his Sorting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, that was me. :)
fiatincantatum From: fiatincantatum Date: October 28th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
However, since Harry is so famous, if she'd seen his Sorting, she would know what he looked like, since he's THE Harry Potter. So, since she makes a comment about him looking like she though he would, she's never seen him before.
fiatincantatum From: fiatincantatum Date: October 28th, 2005 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't very clear there, was I? What I meant was, that's a seven-year slot, so maybe they confuse that seven years between her and Harry with seven years between her and Remus.

I always think of her as just seven years older than Harry. She's only just finished her training the year before OotP, and I seem to recall that Auror training is supposed to take three years, so she either took a year longer or went off somewhere for a year before starting training.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
That explanation makes sense for where the seven came from!
moonlitwoods From: moonlitwoods Date: October 28th, 2005 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Does anyone know where the "seven years" thing comes from?

I've received a number of strange comments containing leaps of logic before, but I've never heard that one.

I generally hold to the Lexicon's approximate dates in such matters, believing that Remus was likely born ~1960, and Tonks ~1973. While the Lexicon is certainly not infallible, at least some effort has been made to be accurate.
mamadeb From: mamadeb Date: October 28th, 2005 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Why do you think that Bellatrix was not in Snape's year? I get no contextual clues about that at all.
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: October 28th, 2005 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Sirius says in OOTP that he hadn't seen Bellatrix since he was Harry's age: since he was about 15, then. If Sirius and Bellatrix had been in the same year, then he would have seen her at Hogwarts when he was 16 and 17.
mamadeb From: mamadeb Date: October 28th, 2005 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
That's not very conclusive - Harry's probably one of the youngest people in his year - Hermione is almost a year older, for example, and "your age" is kind of a slippery term anyway - it could go a year in either direction.

On the other hand, Bellatrix and Sirius would not have seen much of each other no matter what, since they're in different Houses and Sirius left home at fifteen to live with the Potters. If they never had the same NEWT classes...that doesn't seem likely, does it?

Okay, you're probably right. :)
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: October 28th, 2005 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Sirius's comment is definitely a little vague, I agree. But then again, when you're trying to work out ages in HP, a little vagueness is to be expected. :)

We have more general evidence that JKR thinks of Bellatrix as at least a little older than the Marauders, though: if she's the oldest of her sisters (as implied by the Black tapestry) and she has a youngest sister with a forty-something husband and a sixteen-year-old son, Bellatrix herself is probably at least forty.
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: October 28th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually WAS voting for Bellatrix in or near Snape's year before HBP (because students seem to part ways in sixth and seventh year if they're not taking the same N.E.W.T.-level classes, and some drop out entirely) but the information that she's older than Andromeda seems to knock that out of the water. Until JKR says otherwise, I've decided that "my" Bellatrix and Andromeda are twins, three years older than MWPP, and Andromeda left school after her O.W.L.s to run away with Ted, althought I think a far more likely explanation is that JKR is lousy at math and hasn't thought this through at all.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, "my" Bella was always older, so I was doing my little happy dance. ;) Andromeda can do her NEWTs, but she definitely can't be any older than nineteen when Tonks is born. That would make Bella a sixth or seventh year when Snape got there, and she could have led the little gang of Slytherins that he ended up running with.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)
It's confirmed that the tapestry order is the right order for the Black sisters (Bella is described as the eldest in HBP), so Bella is older than Andromeda or, at the very youngest, a twin. Andromeda is Tonks's mother. At her youngest (because she couldn't be in school with Harry), Tonks is 22, making her at the very biggest distance 15 years younger than the Marauders and Snape... if Bella were in their year, that would mean she's 15 when her married younger sister gives birth. While it's technically possible for a girl to have a baby at fourteen, I doubt that's what JKR had in mind.
mamadeb From: mamadeb Date: October 28th, 2005 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I just didn't stop to do any maths. And I am good at them.

I can't see any reason to make Bella and Andromeda twins, except that they share star names while Narcissa doesn't. (That she doesn't is a major anomaly. I know that Wizarding women tend to have flower names, but that family tends to stars. Which is why I suspect that Mrs Black is Cassiopeia.)

So. Bella is the oldest. Tonks is at the youngest 22. The Marauders are twenty years older than Harry. She was just born when they left school at 18. So her mother would be one or two years older than Maruaders at the least. Okay. Bella would be two years older than the Maruaders at the least.

Not even Snape would know her well, given that there doesn't seem to be much interaction between years even in the same House, and I can't see a Black daughter - at least one not in active rebellion - interacting with a Half-blood. And Andromeda married a Muggleborn. I'd love to see that backstory.
crazyrach From: crazyrach Date: October 28th, 2005 02:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I always thought it was ~12 years, so I get the 13 but the 7 baffles me
sparkly_stuff From: sparkly_stuff Date: October 28th, 2005 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I've never heard the 7-year thing either, I always agree with those who say there's a 13-year age difference. It's simple math: Tonks graduated Hogwarts at 17 or 18, then would have had three years auror training (20-21), and a year later in OOTP she's 22-23. Approx. 13 years younger than Remus & Sirius.

And I am tired of fics that place Andromeda and Ted as the same age as MWPP...that makes no sense at all.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
How did that figure her parents' age, out of curiosity? That's where the whole sticking point is--for her to be in her early twenties, her mother would have had to be in her late teens when she was born. Late twenties would mean Andromeda had her in her early teens.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
That's odd. I'd think the age difference would be one of the fun things to play with in the ship--plenty o' angst there, and it turned out in HBP to be a major concern (don't know if the story you're talking about was before or after HBP). Why give up a shiny thing like that? :p
doomandnachos From: doomandnachos Date: October 28th, 2005 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Like you, I originally set Tonks at ~10 years older than Harry, ~10 years younger than Remus, because it was an easy number to work with. It is a stretch for Tonks to be so old, though, and this was before we found out Bella was the oldest.

JKR + maths = brain hurt. I really don't think she ever expected people to want to know such details about her characters, and never did the little fine-tuning things. :/
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: October 28th, 2005 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure Bellatrix is really the oldest sister. My guess is that Andromeda is oldest but got cut off the family tree and off the inheritance. Bellatrix was probably in the same year as the Marauders (Snape hung out with her and her husband, remember). Then comes Narcissa, who married an older man (Malfoy).
That's my take of the situation. It makes sense to me, anyway.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 11:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Sirius was off the tree as well, but apparently still had a claim on the house. It doesn't seem to matter what Mrs. Black did to the tree.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: October 28th, 2005 11:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I may be acting humongously disrespectful here, but I can't help thinking that all these problems would go away if we'd remember that an off-the-cuff remark regarding Snape's age that the famously math-incompetent JKR made in an interview *is not canon.* It's a useful benchmark, and I think we have enough evidence to deduce that youngish marriages are commoner in the magical world than here, making it unlikely that James and Lily were *too* old when they had Harry, and not out of the question that Andromeda and Ted were very young indeed when they had Tonks...but there really isn't an exact number for the age of the Marauders, and I won't consider myself tied to it.

That said, my solution to the whole issue, if you are going by it, is that it was *Rodolphus* (and possibly Rabastan) LeStrange that Snape was close to, and Bella, though she had left Hogwarts by the time Snape was there, was still around frequently to spend time with her several-years-younger husband-to-be; that's how Snape and Bella started running around together, as it were. I don't think any solution requires Andromeda to have been all but a child bride.

Tonks being older than her early twenties definitely seems out of the question, though, especially since it's pretty heavily implied in OotP that she has only recently completed the Auror training that she started as soon as she left Hogwarts.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 28th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, honestly, my guess is that she gave a ballpark figure--the Marauders and Snape are in their mid-dish thirties during Harry's teen years, their early twenties when he was born. I don't think she was saying, "Snape was thirty-five at the beginning of GoF, had a birthday, and became 36 that year." I'm not too fussed as long as the general era of the thing is right--it's one thing to have them be a couple of years younger; it's another thing for them to be listening to Avril Lavigne CDs, ya know?
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: October 28th, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
may be acting humongously disrespectful here, but I can't help thinking that all these problems would go away if we'd remember that an off-the-cuff remark regarding Snape's age that the famously math-incompetent JKR made in an interview *is not canon.*

I'd be inclined to agree, except that she also gave us Sirius' age when he went to Azkaban on her web site, and it dovetails with what she said in the interview, so I think the ages of MWPP/S/L are one of the things she has worked out.

The two details that I don't think she's thought very hard about are 1) the ages of the other members of the Black family, who are far less important in the grand scheme of things; and 2) the exact makeup of Snape's "gang of Slytherins." Sirius says pretty unambiguously in GoF that Snape used to run around with Bella and Rodolphus at school, as well as Rosier, Wilkes, and Avery, but it's hard to imagine Bella taking an interest in Snape if she's really four or more years older than him, and some people named Avery and Lestrange pop up in Tom Riddle's generation in HBP. Now, granted, these could be the fathers or uncles of the current Avery and Lestrange, but honestly, I think there's a good chance that JKR was just pulling out random Death Eater names and had totally forgotten that she had made some of them Snape's cohort at school. If they aren't important to the plot, she probably doesn't spend much time checking the details.
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: October 28th, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm..it woud lbe nice ifjkr shared stuff liek thatto give usa bit of a proportional idea but personal yi dont' give sack if i noen fi the maraudes wentto schoo flor m1970 adn in another in1971. Same for TOnks' birth.

theorytheorytheory...i' vleearned inthis fandom EVERYTHIGN ca nbe explaiend away. if you made amistake in yoru story 9andi' mconvincedj kr herself made some as well) yo uodn't needto say it was na error. yo ucan jstu invent somethign clever and have it ove rand done with.
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