J.K. Rowling‘s first Harry Potter #PottermoreChristmas surprise has been revealed, and it’s a little heartbreaking.
The creator of the hit book and film series on Friday (Charlie Weasley’s birthday, in case you forgot) published on the community site Pottermore the first of several new pieces of bonus material related to her wizard world. She reveals something about the past of Severus Snape, the greasy-haired, grumpy Hogwarts professor, Slytherin house leader and spy who loves to give Harry Potter a hard time. In the movies, he is played by Alan Rickman.
Rowling has shared new Harry Potter content on the website in the past. Pottermore was established after the last movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, was released in 2011. The website had teased that starting on Friday, fans could “unwrap” a “daily surprise” on the site in the days leading up to Christmas eve and that some of the material would be new pieces of writing by Rowling.
The new material is a relatively short piece of text in which Rowling reveals that the street Spinner’s End is located in the “dilapidated,” industrial English town of Cokeworth (that, by the way, doesn’t actually exist).
We already knew that the street was located near Snape’s family’s house and that the town was once home to his late childhood crush, Harry’s mother Lily, and her Muggle (non-magical) sister Petunia. Now it is confirmed that Snape and Lily grew up in the same area, suggesting his love for her spans back even further than many of us thought originally.
In the first book (but not in its film adaptation), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (also titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Petunia and her husband Vernon, who raised Potter after Voldemort murdered his parents, and their son Dudley escape to a hotel in Cokeworth after receiving at their home a barrage of Hogwarts admission letters for Potter.
In the sixth novel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Narcissa, the mother of Harry’s school nemesis Draco Malfoy, and her sister Bellatrix speak with Snape at his parent’s old home in the town, which is unnamed and which the latter woman calls “a Muggle dunghill.” Snape makes an Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco.
To read Rowling’s new piece of writing on Pottermore, you must answer a riddle: “In a house on Spinner’s End, a meeting takes place, a mother begs help for her son, tears on her face. Agreeing to help, though he doesn’t know how. Which potions master performs an unbreakable vow?”
The answer is “Professor Snape.”
Past new Harry Potter content posted on Pottermore includes a story about a little-known sorceress named Celestina Warbeck and a reunion of Harry Potter and his friends at the Quidditch World Cup Finals.