Episode 213: James & Sirius Prequel – A Mark Evans Thing

Elvendorks unite! It is time for us to discuss the shortest of the Potter writings. Join hosts Kristen, Alison, Kat, and guest host Aurelia as they delve deep, deep into the incredibly mysterious, hidden meanings of this text…by spending exactly 3.5 seconds on every single one of its 800 words.

On Episode 213 we discuss…

Read the Prequel!
→ What time of year did this escapade take place?
→ Are James & Sirius in the Order of the Phoenix already?
→ Who exactly is chasing them on brooms?
→ Alternate theories on what is happening
→ WHY James & Sirius?
→ Who else would we want a little prequel about?
→ Elvendork – only appropriate as a Tolkien reference

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RECAP: EPISODE 212

On this recap we discuss…

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  • DoraNympha

    Fun episode, especially the shoutouts to Oliver Wood! He just disappears, like several other minor characters, but what happened between the World Cup and the Battle, like, how does he go from playing for one of the leading teams to, I suppose, being in the Order all battle-ready with the rest of the old Gryffindor Quidditch team? If that’s not to be answered, then I still support a super brief snapshot such as the prequel. ^^

    I would also love a prequel-like snippet or two about Lee. More Potterwatch!!! Or rather a sequel, like, what is he doing now? Is he a household name in the Wizarding Wireless Network and friends with all the coolest bands like I imagine? (Also a simple drinking game for the movies: drink everytime you’re compelled to ask “But where’s Lee?”)

    I still feel strongly about a Lockhart musical (I may have campaigned for it a few times here on previous episodes… Call me, Warner Bros. I have ideas.) but I’d also love just any snippet like how he wanders into Mr Weasley’s ward and cheers up that werewolf guy or just sneaks out of the hospital and takes an odd trip to a nearby pastry shop. Anything with Lockhart, basically.

    Also, one of the weirdest moments of DH for me is when Mr Weasley and Percy are in the lift at the Ministry and it’s the cringiest few lines – but how does Percy get from that to just showing up at the battle. “It’s been coming on for a while” – BUT HOW? And why does he contact Aberforth, of all people? How does he even know about Aberforth? It’s hard for me to imagine he wandered into the Hog’s Head on Hogsmeade weekends – or has he been one of the veiled dames at the Hog’s Head all this time? That’s really out of the blue for me, why doesn’t he just contact someone more respectable like Kingsley or McGonagall or someone he knows, like someone from the Gryffindor quidditch team (don’t forget, Wood and Percy were also in the same year). Ab’s such a grumpy recluse, I just think it’s weird, unless Percy got nosy and wandered into some evidence bureau he wasn’t supposed to or Dung blabbed in a hearing when he was arrested pre-Thicknesse – point is, I need answers. To have a short story or even a tweet… *sigh*

    Not to mention stuff like that hint in Goblet of Fire about Molly and Arthur sneaking out at night in their time at Hogwarts, or what exactly happened when Snape almost reached the Shrieking Shack, or any Marauder adventures, or about Lily and James’s not one but three times defying Voldemort – so many opportunities for more brief episodes like this, even if they’re inconsequential. I’ll stop now because I’m getting greedy!

    Just a final thought: I’m pretty sure I saw a panel from a convention where Robbie Jarvis fan-cast the policemen in the prequel as Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry and now I can’t unthink that and I want to see that so much. Brilliant.

    • Phoenix

      Thank you! Now I want a Fry & Laurie adaptation of that prequel! Seriously, it would be great to *see* Stephen Fry in something Harry Potter related (I’m a fan of the British audio books). Also, Hugh Laurie should habe been in in Fantastic Beasts. A British actor who can pass as American really well – he would have been perfect.

      • DoraNympha

        My thoughts exactly! My number one hope from the Fantastic Beasts movies is an appearance by Fry. He is like a real-life Dumbledore in a way, down to the crooked nose and I just want to see him as a Rowlingian wizard. The audiobooks read by him are very dear to me too and I’m sure any role would be brilliant in his portrayal, or Laurie’s! *fingers crossed*

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        Fry & Laurie in Fantastic Beasts??? YASSSSSSSSSSSSS PLEASE!!! I didn’t realize how badly I wanted that until this very second.

  • DoraNympha

    No wait, scratch everything in my other comment: I JUST WANT AN EXPLANATION OF FLOREAN FORTESCUE’S DISAPPEARANCE.

    What did he KNOW?

    • Lisa

      JKR actually answered this. Apparently Voldemort had a great hankering for some ice cream one night after killing some Muggles, but Florean refused to sell him any. So the next day, Voldemort sent a few Death Eaters to pwn Florean and steal all his ice cream recipes. RIP. Now Wormtail is responsible for feeding Voldemort ice cream, made from Nagini’s milk.

      • DoraNympha

        Now THAT is oddly making me want a real prequel even more.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      RIGHT!? After my first read of Deathly Hallows I wondered if I’d somehow skipped a page where it explained more about Florean and his disappearance. I would easily take that story over this one.

  • Huffleclaw

    Hey guys, I’ve been listening since you started the topic based episodes and this is my first comment!
    First I wanted to thank you for the show. It’s a great way to keep up with books that I’ve loved for so long.

    I wanted to share my thoughts about the t-shirts that James and Sirius wore. I don’t think it is a rock band like the Police Constable thought. Nor do I think that they are in the Order at the time of this prequel. Instead I offer a third theory. Throughout history movements have adopted symbols to signify their support of – if not membership in- a form of revolution or resistance. Perhaps the phoenix symbol signifies the larger resistance to Voldemort and not just the Order of the Phoenix. The few times one of the adult characters talks about the first war we get a dark and bleak picture. It is very likely that the Order, a very small group judging by the picture we saw Moody show Harry in OP, proved to be just the tip of the iceberg in the resistance. Perhaps those who supported the order but could not join – like an underage Sirius and James – still resisted Voldemort in small ways. Perhaps the symbol they wore was a small golden phoenix lapel. The rebellious James and Sirius would certainly be the type to get larger, more flashy, shirts made. I can’t see them risking wearing such shirts as order members but as teens they would find the risk to be a great adventure. Perhaps under the same token the broom riding pursuers were young Death Eaters-to-be.

    Thanks again for the wonderful podcast. Looking forward to future episodes!

    • Phoenix

      I agree! Maybe word got out that there was a secret society called “Order of the Phoenix” (who knows how secret it was, maybe Voldemort knew about it and had “Wanted” posters put up all over the country) and James and Sirius thought it would be great to be a part of it but knew they were too young, so they talked a lot about it and made themselves phoenix t-shirts. Orr maybe the phoenix had been a symbol of anti-Voldemortness even before the Order was founded – and that’s the reason why they chose that name.

      • Huffleclaw

        Thanks Phoenix. Your last point was the idea I had in mind. I saw it as the Phoenix coming before the Order sort to speak (think of the old riddle, what came first the Chicken or the Egg). Lupin I believe mentions in Half-Blood Prince that the first order formed slowly, but surely a resistance movement began forming before the more formall Order began to form.

        • Phoenix

          Then again, I always assumed the Order was named after Dumbledore’s patronus, since Dumbledore introduced them all to that method of communication… is that canon or did I make it up? In any case, it might be a “coincidence” (=clever setup by JKR).

          • travellinginabluebox

            Fairly sure that is canon and what I thought about how the Order got its name as well.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            That brings up another question. Was Dumbledore’s patronus always a phoenix? Or was it something else when he was younger? Perhaps it turned into a phoenix after he got over Grindlewald, or after he defeated him…as a symbol of his rebirth and leaving those feelings/ideals behind. Maybe we’ll find out in Fantastic Beasts 🙂

          • travellinginabluebox

            Oh I love that theory. Can’t wait for the next movie with hopefully more information 🙂

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        Interesting that they decided on that name, knowing that the core of Voldemort’s wand was a phoenix feather.

        • Huffleclaw

          Did they know at that point? It might have been a post-war discovery.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            I don’t suppose we can know for sure, because we don’t know when Fawkes became Dumbledore’s “pet” (for lack of a better term). If Dumbledore already owned Fawkes when he gave the two feathers to Olivander, then I think Olivander would have told Dumbledore that one of those wands went to Tom Riddle – and, later, the other to Harry. But if Fawkes belonged to another wizard, or was a “free phoenix” (can they wear socks?) when he gave the feathers, then they may not have known that detail pre-war.

            Now I’m super curious how/when Fawkes and Dumbledore came together. Was he a gift from Newt?? 😀

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            that’s a new headcanon forming! what does a young magizoologist do when he is threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts? Gift a phoenix to his Transfiguration teacher! Instant advocate!

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            I love it! Haha 😀

          • travellinginabluebox

            I would think that Fawkes entered Dumbledore’s life before Voldemort came to Hogwarts because Ollivander new which phoenix he got the feathers from. And considering how many wands are at Ollivanders and Fawkes only giving two feathers, there has got to be a whole big supply of phoenix feathers out there. But that is another point entirely…
            So in case of remembering which phoenix donated the feathers I would think Dumbledore would have already been the chosen company of Fawkes.

          • Dumbledore is Fawkes. I will be presenting this theory in a video soon. It’s undeniably true. Dumbledore is his own pet phoenix.

    • Phoenix

      Oh, and I also agree that the people on the brooms were other wizard teenagers who later ended up fighting for the other side, but I somehow doubt that Snape was among them.

  • Phoenix

    I’m a little confused: Can anyone explain to me why the story is known as the “800 word prequel”? I counted 797 words. Are “800 word stories” a thing?

    • SnapesManyButtons

      I think it’s just simple rounding. It’s easier to remember 800 than the exact number of words. Kinda like a foot-long hot dog isn’t exactly a foot long.

      • Phoenix

        I just think it’s odd to choose the number of words as a way of referring to it in the first place, if there is nothing special about the number. Not that that’s important in any way. 🙂

  • Phoenix

    Alternative theory for the matching t-shirts: the symbol could be Quidditch-related. No Quidditch team we know seems to have a golden bird as a mascot, though. I like Huffleclaw’s theory better.

    • alps

      Hey, maybe it could be the golden snitch? And the policemen just thought it was a bird lol. But yes actually, Huffleclaw’s theory sounds a lot better! I really feel like it’s something that James and Sirius would do. They were dorky enough to create nicknames and a group name, so they’re dorky enough to make their own shirts to “show their support”.

      • Phoenix

        Good idea! Mistaking a snitch for a bird seems an easy mistake to make for a muggle.

        • Thunderdor

          Wasn’t the original golden snitch used actually a bird?

  • Silverdoe25

    The prequel very definitely describes James & Sirius as boys throughout. It also refers to the men on broomsticks. That implies someone older, and not other school boys.

    • Phoenix

      Good observation! Any theories?

  • SnapesManyButtons

    I think if Snape was one of the guys on brooms, they would definitely have taken the time to taunt him somehow. Especially when he was laying stunned on the ground. Sirius, especially, wouldn’t miss a chance like that.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    While I agree that this is probably before the Marauders officially joined the Order, I do think it is likely the men on brooms were Death Eaters, or at the very least Voldy-sympathizers if not part of the inner circle. I don’t think that it is too farfetched that James and Sirius would end up tangling with Death Eater types before joining the Order themselves. It would be just like them to go seeking out trouble in hopes of helping in the fight against Voldy. I’ve always read their shirts as a reference to the Order- a golden phoenix on a shirt alone wouldn’t necessarily be a dead giveaway, particularly if the Order of the Phoenix is still a relatively secret organization. I could see the Marauders somehow finding out about it and then fan-boying over the idea of a secret dark wizard fighting society. Those shirts would sort of be a token or way for them to boast about their loyalties and intentions of fighting for the cause without outright broadcasting their desire to join the Order to the whole of wizarding society. Those in the know would recognize them, either as fellow Order members, or in attracting the attention of Death Eaters- which frankly sounds like exactly the type of antagonistic and reckless move James and Sirius would pull.

  • Phoenix

    I read “insolent good looks” as “more good-looking than anyone should be”, in the sense of “disconcertingly good-looking”, rather than “looking good and insolent”. In my native language (German), it is possible to use “insolent” (unverschämt) that way. Do you agree, Aurelia? 🙂

    • DoraNympha

      I agree, and Sirius is almost always referred to as handsome or still having marks of how handsome he was even after all those years of prison. It’s his attribute, his insolent good looks. Just like how Hermione’s hair has to be frequently mentioned, or Vernon’s mustache, or Wood’s phisique, or Dumbledore’s eyes or Lupin’s shabby robes. Sirius’s thing is his almost offensive handsomeness. We get it Jo, Sirius is hot.

      • Lisa

        And also, not to be mean or anything, but his hotness definitely did not shine through in the movies. Not that any of the Blacks were hot in the movies, sadly.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          That’s a matter of opinion. Gary Oldman in Sirius’s clothes = hot to me 😉

          • DoraNympha

            I don’t get how this works: Sirius is all leather jacket and flying motorbike but Gary Oldman is there in that pinstiped waistcoat and yet I’m sold. I do have a diffferent picture of Sirius in my head while I’m reading the books but Gary Oldman was one of the casting choices I will not complain about. Maybe it’s the acting. It just works. I love him as Sirius.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Yeah same here, for both Sirius and Lupin; not my book image but, I’m totally on board with them both in the films. While I don’t generally find Gary Oldman attractive, he absolutely looks great in the long hair and waistcoat getup.

        • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

          if they had gotten the age of the marauders correct it might have worked better.

          • DoraNympha

            While I do think Gary Oldman was a smoking good choice for Sirius, the age thing really is a mess: when Lupin and Snape die, they should be 37 years old. Of course, we’re kind of used to older actors playing younger, and especially Alan Rickman did not look his real age, but I feel like we would all be judging the Marauders and Snape differently if the representations of them were age-accurate, for better or for worse. That’s why I also like fancastings and I’m always open to new suggestions about that.

            (Ben Barnes as Sirius, though: my problem with all castings of Dorian Gray through decades of film adaptations is that he’s always less blond and young and innocent-looking as he should be – now, Ben Barnes was so not the Dorian described in the book but damn he’d make a fine Sirius Black.)

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      This is basically how I’ve interpreted it too. I think the use suggests a more poetic meaning than a literal one.

    • travellinginabluebox

      Aurelia here – and yes agree with you Phoenix 🙂

  • Guys, Voldemort appears in the recent LEGO Batman movie. He has a larger role than simply a cameo. This might lead to a Lego Harry Potter film, and what story would work best told in LEGO?

    The Marauder prequel. That’s right. A group of Jokesters up to mischief, the type perfect to portray in LEGO form. And after the unnecessary DARK tones of Fantastic Beasts, I think LEGO is just what we need.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      LOL!! Did Voldy say anything other than “Wingardium Leviosa” throughout the entire movie? I can’t remember…haha…and am still miffed that Ralph Fiennes was in the film, but didn’t voice Voldemort. Heresy!

      • Haha, sure he said more! He said something like “ACCIO Really scary lightning storm!” or something along those lines.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          LOL!! Clearly I need to watch it again already 😉 It was stinkin hilarious.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      While I’m generally not the one clamoring for more expanded universe stuff, I’m so ok with this. I recently played through the Lego HP games and found them thoroughly amusing so I’d trust this kind of story in their hands (but can we not call it canon, I’m putting my foot down early on this).

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        If they introduced a new spell or something similar that didn’t contradict already-established canon, I might be ok with including that new spell into canon. But as for everything else – I agree – definitely not…lol

        • I don’t see why not! Books, movies, plays, they are all ways of telling a story. If the story fits, why not consider it canon?

          Cursed Child unfortunately breaks too many rules and contradicts too much existing Potter history, so I don’t think Cursed Child works with canon. But if a Lego Marauders movie works, I wouldn’t have a problem calling it canon.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Judging from the way they treated Voldemort in Lego Batman, I can’t imagine them telling a story that doesn’t break a lot of rules and contradict existing canon. But if they can manage it, I’d give it a shot 🙂 I completely agree with you re: CC.

      • So long as there is a soul on this planet who considers Cursed Child as Canon, I will in return consider the Lego Batman movie as canon. It has just as much validity in my book.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          You’ve got a point there…lol 😀 And I agree that everyone is entitled to create/order their own canons any way they want. You may just be a minority 🙂

        • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

          Ha! That they would be equally valid (or invalid), we are agreed for sure.

      • At first I though “Wait, Harry Potter can get pretty heavy at times, so I don’t know if it would work in LEGO. But then I remembered they already pretty successfully told the Harry Potter story in the LEGO games, so anything could work!

        • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

          Exactly, the games had me cracking up. They certainly break with canon, but it’s effective and just gives the story that Lego brand of humor, which I found endearing. It would probably be throughly enjoyable.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    Here’s a question- If we didn’t already know this story was written by Jo, say it was just posted anonymously somewhere, would we be able to tell it was written by her? Or are there elements to it that would lead some to declare it fan-fic?

    The canon/Lego batman discussion with They’ve Taken My Weezy! and Slughorn’s Trophy Wife sparked this idea for me about this story and how it fits the canon. An important part of canon for me in terms of HP goes beyond contradiction of established events or rules of magical function. When I pick up a piece of HP literature, I expect to read Jo’s voice, not just stylistically and thematically, but more simply really, in terms of does this sound like the world SHE created and what SHE would have happen within it.

    The thing that strikes me most about this story is that while it is a fun little look into James and Sirius’ lives, it doesn’t really go anywhere. There is no message or greater lesson to be learned. Nothing is really gained or lost. It isn’t that it isn’t plausible or a realistic scenario, I just can’t help but ask- so what is the point of this? It doesn’t feel like a complete story in and of itself. I get that it was just a fun piece for charity, but I still would expect a bit more out of a piece from Jo. It almost comes off as the type of headcanon you might come across on tumblr.

    • Lisa

      I don’t think there was any point to it at all. Just a bit of fun for the fans and money raised for charity. This story is probably what Mugglenet Academia meant by authors writing fanfics of their own work, haha. It does come across that way. It’s canon though. I know this seems counter-intutive to many people but canon has nothing to do with quality. I’m not saying it’s a bad story (I actually don’t know if I’ve ever even read it to be honest), but even if it sucked a** that’s still beside the point in a discussion about canon.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        You’re probably right that this was just for fun and charity and therefore, it doesn’t need to have a point. That quote definitely makes sense in this context. Personally, I agree that this is canon. I’m definitely not trying to make the arguement that it’s not, but I do think it is a question worth thinking about. I would say that quality does in a way, matter. I don’t mean to say that fans personal opinions in terms of liking or disliking a work is grounds to judge it’s canonicity. But quality from a more objective academic standpoint does matter. “Canon” as applied academically to literature is about continuity across many aspects of the work, beyond just being compatible within that particular fictional universe, or simply being written by the same author. Continuity in overarching themes, writing style, and format matter too. In this sense, quality refers to the actual skill, from a scholarly standpoint, of the writing itself relative to the rest of the canon. Like with the Sherlock Holmes series- its canon is endlessly debated for many reasons, one of those being that later works tend to be regarded as significantly lesser quality, unable to stand up to the same critical analysis as the originals.

        I would add that these aren’t hard and fast rules, something can break with canon across one or more of these aspects and still be argued as canon. In the end its all just matter of opinion and comes down to whoever has the authority to declare what is “official”. However, I think it is important to include all these different elements in discussions of canon.

        • Lisa

          I have personally never encountered the concept of canon being discussed in terms of quality in the academic world. But I don’t doubt that such discussions do take place. Going strictly by the definition, it seems to be a matter of authorship alone, which makes sense I guess considering the word’s religious origins “what is or isn’t the Word of God?” and all that. Of course, how the academic world defines things and how the fandom defines them can be two widely different animals. I guess for my part I’m growing weary of fandom definitions and usages because the whole “not canon!” thing gets thrown around a lot whenever someone disagrees with the story or characterization. This is why I think it’s useful to take a step back and look at a concept more objectively, not as something vague which can change according to your whims ( I mean “you” in a general sense, not you particularly).

  • travellinginabluebox

    Good points. I don’t think we ever learn where James’ family lived. But somehow I doubt it was Godric’s Hollow. I always thought that Lily and James got their own place independently from James’ parents.

  • Elf01

    I have always thought that the context was an Order mission that ended in James and Sirius being chased by Death Eaters.

    I may just have thought that this would be amusing if true, but I felt that the names they gave may have been those of the chasers.

    Might it have been a Confundus Charm that they used to get them to crash into the car?

    In terms of how general it is, there is only so much that you can fit on a postcard.

  • Phoenix

    I also enjoyed your discussion on whether witches and wizards read Tolkien or other muggle classics! But I’m afraid I don’t think they do. In the “three brothers” chapter of DH, Ron seems unaware of Grimms’ fairy tales. Even a muggle fan like Arthur Weasley doesn’t seem to have read a lot of muggle literature, or he might be slightly more familiar with fellytones, please-men and the like. Dumbledore may have read a few muggle books, since he seems to have an unusually good understanding of muggles – maybe he felt he should pay tribute to muggle culture as compensation for his adolescent mistakes.
    I can also imagine students reading muggle literature in muggle studies, possibly even fantasy literature in order to understand what muggles imagine magic to be like – and probably laughing their heads off at how little we know.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      Do you think someone like Hermione, who is constantly reading and grew up in a nonmagical home, would continue to read muggle literature, magazines or newspapers? As long as they spend at least some time in the muggle world they still have a connection to the people there and might be interested in keeping up with the events.

      • Phoenix

        Yes, I think (some) muggle-borns are different in that respect. Hermione’s parents probably give her books for her birthday and Christmas and I’m sure she reads them. But I think even Hermione reads more magical literature because she feels she has so much to catch up.

        Speaking of wizard literature, do we know any writers of fiction in the magical world (not counting Gilderoy Lockhart)?

        • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

          Ha, poor Gilderoy. No, the wizarding culture seems rather heavy on the non-fiction, and the few works of fiction we know are mostly children’s lit: Beedle’s Tales and Beatrix Bloxam’s Toadstool Tales. Sonnets of a Sorcerer is the only poetry I can recall. The wiki lists Enchanted Encounters by Fifi LaFolle as fiction, but I couldn’t verify. (N.B. The wiki also lists a bunch of Muggle literature that supposedly is published in the wizarding world as well, but there is no citation for this, and I’m pretty sure it’s just stuff that was on JKR’s bookshelf from her old website and perhaps her other literary influences.)