While we in the Muggle world are certainly not immune to injury, when spells, fantastic beasts and flying broomsticks are thrown into the pot, they create a recipe for potential harm way beyond anything we’d want to suffer – even with super-healing magical remedies available.
Here are a few of the most painful, memorable and downright gross injuries and ailments suffered in the Harry Potter books.
Slugs are scientifically fascinating animals, what with their omnivorous diet and telescopic eyes, but they do have an image problem. On the cuteness scale, they’re at the opposite end to piglets and Pygmy Puffs, and needless to say they’re the last thing we’d want in our mouth. However, that’s just what happened to Ron in Chamber of Secrets: he valiantly tried to defend Hermione’s honour from a defamatory Draco, but ended up on the wrong end of his own slug-vomiting curse, resulting in one of the series’ most nauseating moments (literally).
Ginger jokesters Fred and George Weasley were endlessly creative with their inventions, but not everyone appreciated their artistic license. A prime example is in Goblet of Fire, when the pair took the old Muggle favourite, custard creams, and turned them into a much more exciting biscuit. (Sorry everyone, but custard creams are among the most boring of tea-time snacks.)
The newly christened Canary Creams claimed Neville Longbottom as their first victim, who transformed… yes, you’ve guessed it, into a canary. Neville went through many transformations during his Hogwarts days, going from shy first-year to Battle of Hogwarts hero. His short time as a large bird, however, is still our favourite.
Okay, there is nothing amusing about a curse that causes gory slashes to open up on its victim’s body – Draco Malfoy would agree that Sectumsempra should have remained in the fevered mind of its creator, the Half-Blood Prince. But when Harry got hold of Snape’s annotated copy of Advanced Potion-Making, he couldn’t help but try out some of the more frivolous spells: he hexed Crabbe’s toenails to grow ‘alarmingly fast’, glued Argus Filch’s tongue to the roof of his mouth and (inadvertently) dangled Ron in mid-air above his bed with a Levicorpus. So many scribblings, so much potential for casual injury. Snape had a lot to get off his chest.
We know very little about this incident, save a scant few lines of explanation in Prisoner of Azkaban: ‘A number of small scuffles broke out in the corridors, culminating in a nasty incident in which a Gryffindor fourth-year and a Slytherin sixth-year ended up in the hospital wing with leeks sprouting out of their ears.’
What caused this intriguing condition? Does it hurt to have an allium growing from one’s head? And did the house-elves make the ear-leeks into ear-leek soup in the Hogwarts kitchens? So many questions.
Given he had the most murderous Dark wizard of all time after his blood for most of his life, it’s miraculous Harry didn’t experience more terrible injuries. Of course, he didn’t escape completely unscathed, but perhaps his most unusual impairment came in Chamber of Secrets. And it was nothing to do with Voldemort.
After Dobby tampered with a Bludger, Harry ended up falling from his broomstick with a broken arm during a Quidditch match. Gilderoy Lockhart then made things a whole lot worse by de-boning the arm into a rubbery mess with an ineptly cast charm. Luckily, Madam Pomfrey was on hand with her bottle of Skele-Gro. Interestingly, Skele-Gro was invented by a wizard called Linfred of Stinchcombe, a very old ancestor of Harry’s.
After weeks of painstaking preparation, including the procurement of some hard-to-find ingredients (‘shredded skin of a Boomslang’ is not on the shelves of the local supermarket, we gather), the ever-intelligent Hermione was ready to temporarily take on the appearance of Millicent Bulstrode in order to identify the heir of Slytherin in Chamber of Secrets. But for once the witch’s usual rigour deserted her, turning her into a feline/human hybrid after accidentally brewing the potion with hair from Millicent’s cat. Maybe Hermione should’ve stuck with the half-cat, half-witch look – she could have become Hogwarts’ brand new superhero.
A trip to the school nurse is a rite of passage for most children. But when your school is Hogwarts, it’s usually for something a bit more complex than a grazed knee. Madam Pomfrey has treated all manner of conditions, including Alicia Spinnet’s overgrown eyebrows and Eloise Midgen’s cursed-off nose, but the hospital wing was especially full when the Basilisk went on its rampage in Chamber of Secrets.
We know that the first time the Chamber was opened in 1943, three pupils were Petrified by the terrifying serpent; in Harry’s second year, the sight of it turns Hermione, Mrs Norris and others into living statues. Or in the case of Nearly Headless Nick, an eerie, undead one.
What a terrible waste. That a man with such an incredible life, so full of varied and estimable achievements, would find himself on the wrong end of a backfiring Memory Charm and forget how amazing he was. Or it would be a terrible waste, if any of it had actually happened. All those awards, bestselling books, adventures and brave acts were conjured out of the ether by the vainglorious Professor, and into the ether they returned, leaving Lockhart a permanently befuddled resident of the Janus Thickey Ward at St Mungo’s. Despite his hospitalisation, we learn that he managed to retain his famous ‘dazzlingly white teeth' though. Small consolation.