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A forbidden peek at young James and Sirius

J.K. Rowling's 800 word prequel to the Harry Potter story, which she wrote for charity and which sold at auction for $50,000, was posted online last month by UK bookstore Waterstone's. You can read it online or see it in J.K.'s own hand here.

In this brief glimpse of a story, James and Sirius are being chased, and run afoul of the muggle police. Who was chasing them? And does their nonchalance with the muggle police give us an insight to James' upbringing? Did he possibly have a muggle childhood like Hermione?

Read the prequel, and tell us what you think!

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Reader Comments:

What struck me about the prequel is that we know a lot about Sirius' childhood, but not James, other than the fact that James' parents welcomed Sirius into their home. Their ease with handling the muggle police may just be due to the fact that they'd encountered them before. But it does imply more of a knowledge of muggle things than Wizards normally have. Does this show, perhaps, that James had, at least partially, a muggle upbringing, like Seamus Finnegan did, who's Dad was a muggle, and Mum was a witch?

James and Sirius are teenagers when this episode is occurring. Is the war with Voldemort already underway? If not, did the -eaters have other reasons to be unhappy with them? What could have James and Sirius have done to cause this to happen?

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles on July 13, 2008 12:11 PM

I don’t think that James could have had a muggle upbringing as he was a ‘pure blood’ so magic must have been prevailing in his family. The act just seems as if James & Sirius were having fun. However at the scene of appearing 3 wizards (Presumably eaters) they didn’t show any surprise meaning that first war must be going on at that time (but why should they be having fun then?). Main question is who 3 were chasing them and why, Defying statute of international secrecy (Presenting themselves in presence of 2 muggles)? Scene being of the time when James and Sirius were still in school is unlikely. what could they have contributed against voldemort when they were still at school? James and Sirius went to Hogwarts in 1971, left in 1978 June and James d on 31st Oct 1981. It must be during those 3 years (78 July – Sep’81). It may be the time when Regulus (RAB) left the Voldemort’s gang (81). eaters may have been after Sirius for finding out RAB’s whereabouts.

1. Was the spell (to lift the police car) Wingardium Leviosa?
2. Can you disapparate with a thing like motor bike?

Posted by swati from India on July 14, 2008 03:22 AM

Oooo, I've been wondering about this, and enjoyed reading J.K.'s prequel. I think that, as two of the infamous Marauders, James and Sirirus were used to getting into trouble, and had previously encountered Muggle law enforcement. I wonder, though, from whom they were running away? Excited to hear some theories!

Posted by Maggie from Philadelphia on July 14, 2008 05:18 AM

After re-reading the cards J.K. wrote, I'm wondering what the golden bird on James' and Sirius' shirts was -- a snitch or a phoenix? Were they already working as members of the Order? Or was this a final glimpse of Marauder misbehaving, before Voldemort came forth and changed the Wizarding world forever?

If they were with the Order already, it's likely their pursuers were Eaters; however, James and Sirius had a carefree banter as they attempted to stump the Muggle police officers (and guts, as they tossed around bizarre names like Elvendork!).

I think they were really -- by their late teens -- used to getting into spots of trouble, so they handled this situation (even if it was more Dark than previous ones) very well.

Posted by Maggie from Philadelphia on July 14, 2008 05:34 AM

I think the potters were just better with muggles than the black's because the blacks didnt interact with them at all since they hated them. It doesnt mean anything, but i wish i could read the prequel anyway.

Posted by kj from florida on July 14, 2008 06:31 AM

Swati: I don't think they disapparated. I think they just flew up into the air. JK does say "it took off into thin air", but the next sentence is, "James and Sirius zoomed away into the night sky, their tail light twinkling behind them." So they were visible as they zoomed away.

Maggie: Good idea, could be a snitch, but I definitely thought it was a phoenix. But if it is, would members of Order of the Phoenix publicly wear Order T-shirts? I'd think not, which means the teens were not in the Order yet, but wanted to be.

Posted by Dave Haber from London on July 14, 2008 07:29 AM

Dave: I like your theory that they wanted to be in the Order, thus the t-shirts, but I'm inclined to think James and Sirius WOULD be the types to wear a "uniform" announcing their allegiance to (and possibly membership in) the group.

J.K. writes they were in their late teens, and from this I concluded they would be 18 or 19 -- because if they were JUST of age, she would have said it, or left a clue for us (like including an astronomically-detailed wristwatch in a wardrobe description for one or both) -- so I believe they WERE in the Order, and fighting...

But for James and Sirius, fun continued throughout the first war. This makes sense given their carefree (and at times careless?) time at Hogwarts, running around with Lupin transformed, etc. Their personalities -- danger-seeking, best of friends, etc. -- wouldn't have changed completely in the early stages of the first war.

Posted by Maggie from Philadelphia on July 14, 2008 08:17 AM

James and Sirius did not break the statute of international secrecy until there was a threat to them and then it became necessary. I think the war had begun since Eaters do not care about the statute of international secrecy and they way James and Sirius reacted with all of their attention. The horsing around between them and with the muggle police is likely their form of stress relief.

Posted by Mom of 2B's on July 14, 2008 08:49 AM

I think that the bird on their t-shirts was definitely a phoenix but they must not have been with the Order because as Mrs Weasley says in "the order of phoenix" the order does not recruit underage wizards so they must be older than seventeen in order to be members and J.K. says they were in their late teens

Posted by Prongs from Athens,Greece on July 14, 2008 10:34 AM

I don't think James was brought up by Muggles, because he was a pure blood. I just think that Muggles didn't threaten them at all, and that's why they didn't really care about being chased by Muggle cops.

About the tshirts:

"Both were dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with a large golden bird; the emblem, no doubt, of some deafening, tuneless rock band."

GOLDEN bird. Phoenixes are scarlet. So I don't think the bird was a phoenix. So I don't know what the bird was on their shirts.

And where does it talk about the 3 people that were supposedly Eaters? I don't see that at all...

Posted by Shannon from Missouri on July 14, 2008 10:37 AM

I think James and Sirius normally interacted with muggles more because of all their wrongdoing outside of school. James probably did not have a muggle childhood.

They were both probably out of school and in the in the Order by that time. The t-shirts probably had phoenixes on them to represent the Order, but I think it was something James and Sirius had just for them. The whole Order would not be announcing their allegiances. Voldemort was definitely powerful at this time because in the first chapter of the Sorcerer's Stone Dumbledore tells McGonagall they haven't celebrated for 11 years. I took it to mean Voldemort started getting power when Sirius and James were about 10 or 11. It is likely the three men on broomsticks were Eaters. James and Sirius probably considered stopping them was fun, so they were not worried about it being a dangerous situation. The statute of secrecy might not mattered much in war time, but James and Sirius were over-aged and did not harm the muggles. Could that still be detected? Is there a small possibility that the three men chasing them were not Eaters, but ministry representatives who wanted to catch them for previous magic done?

Posted by Anonymous from Arizona on July 14, 2008 10:52 AM

Shannon: I assumed they were -eaters. Who else could they be? Don't forget, there were 3 of them. Some bad guy James and Sirius had run afoul of could be chasing them for some reason, but three bad guys? What other organized group of bad guys was there besides -eaters?

Anonymous: It's possible the ministry was chasing them, but would James and Sirius have treated ministry officials that way, causing them to crash head-on into the up-turned car?

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on July 14, 2008 11:01 AM

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