The Deluminator was the very first magical object we saw in action. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone it was referred to as a Put-Outer and Dumbledore used it to turn off the street lamps in Privet Drive. At that point, who could have guessed that this rare item would become so important?
If it wasn’t for the additional magical properties of the Deluminator, later left to Ron in Dumbledore’s will, Ron would never have found Harry and Hermione again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And given that when Ron found Harry he was about to drown in pursuit of a Horcrux, arguably that Deluminator saved Harry’s life.
Another object that became instrumental in Harry’s life was the wand he discovered in Ollivander’s shop. Or rather, the wand that discovered him. We got an inkling of the particular significance of Harry’s wand when Ollivander revealed that the phoenix who donated the feather in the wand’s core – a phoenix we later learn was Dumbledore’s Fawkes – also donated a feather to the wand that became Voldemort’s.
Later, this relationship between the two wands was very important. The shared cores saved Harry’s life in Goblet of Fire, when the joining of his and Voldemort’s wands bound together and created the ‘Priori Incantatem’ effect. But back in Ollivander’s shop years before, Harry had no idea what his wand’s relationship to Voldemort’s might mean in that moment; he just thought of it as something that couldn’t be helped, like his relationship to Aunt Petunia, for example…
Thanks to Ron, Harry already knew which house he wanted to be sorted into (Gryffindor, obviously) and which house he definitely didn’t (Slytherin, even more obviously). What he didn’t anticipate was that this decision would be made by a hat.
The Sorting Hat tried to tell Harry that Slytherin could help him to greatness, but Harry was determined, and eventually it put him in Gryffindor. This moment came back to haunt Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as he faced ‘Heir of Slytherin’ rumours and discovered a talent for Parseltongue that he shared with Voldemort. It wasn’t until the Sorting Hat presented him with Godric Gryffindor’s sword and he defeated Voldemort-as-Tom-Riddle that he felt like a true Gryffindor.
A throwaway remark from Professor Snape in his first Potions lesson told Harry that a bezoar was a stone taken from the stomach of a goat which, when used correctly, could save the life of a person who had been poisoned.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, this point was made more forcefully in Harry’s heavily annotated copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Scribbled in the margin on a page about antidotes were the words, ‘Just shove a bezoar down their throats.’ Harry didn’t know that these were Snape’s notes, but when Ron was poisoned by some mead intended for Dumbledore, this instruction and the stock of bezoars in the Potions cupboard saved Ron’s life.
Given his flying ability, Harry’s appointment as Gryffindor’s Seeker seemed inevitable. Less predictable was the way he helped Gryffindor secure victory against Slytherin in his first Quidditch match – catching the Snitch by nearly swallowing it.
This unusual method gave the Snitch in question a particular significance that we don’t learn until Deathly Hallows, when Harry discovered Dumbledore had left him it in his will. As he handed it over, Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour explained that Snitches remember the touch of the first human to handle them.
How and when Dumbledore rescued the Snitch we don’t know, but Harry knew there was a reason Dumbledore had returned it. Sure enough, when he put it to his lips it revealed its message: ‘I open at the close.’ Later, when Harry whispered, ‘I am about to die,’ the Snitch opened to reveal the second of the three Hallows: the Resurrection Stone, giving Harry the chance to speak with his loved ones before facing Voldemort.
Harry’s Invisibility Cloak arrived as a present during his first Christmas at Hogwarts. It was a gift from Dumbledore, although Harry didn’t know that at the time, and it used to belong to his father.
It was Ron who pointed out how valuable such cloaks were, but even he didn’t know how rare Harry’s was: because this cloak was the final Deathly Hallow. What’s more, we learn, Harry was descended from Ignotus Peverell, one of the three original owners of the Hallows. Legend had it the cloak was given to Ignotus by Death, who wanted to trick the Peverells into joining him. While his brothers asked for objects with dark powers, wise Ignotus simply wanted to evade Death. And so the Invisibility Cloak in Harry’s possession showed no signs of age, having been created to survive any curse or charm.
Initially Harry used the Invisibility Cloak to get around Hogwarts in secret. So, when its true significance became clear, it’s quite a thing to think that Harry once left a Deathly Hallow on top of the tallest tower in Hogwarts following a midnight rendezvous with a baby dragon.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, every Friday Pottermore will explore themes, moments, characters and much more from the very first Harry Potter story. Next week we look at the weirdest things a bunch of first-years had to deal with in Philosopher’s Stone.