One of the most obvious times when keys played an important role was when Harry, Ron and Hermione went through the trapdoor to rescue the Philosopher’s Stone. The Hogwarts professors had each set a challenge they needed to successfully navigate, and the winged keys were Flitwick’s creation. The room was full of these fluttering flying objects – but only one allowed them to unlock the door and proceed to the next obstacle. Luckily, there were a couple of broomsticks handy, and Harry just so happened to be an incredibly talented Seeker with a knack for spotting small things. So, the three of them made quite quick work of that challenge and were able to thwart Quirrell and Voldemort.
Gringotts is a bank with very tight security. According to Hagrid Gringotts is the safest place in the world (except maybe Hogwarts) and ‘yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it’. Made up of a massive labyrinth of underground tunnels with spells, enchantments and even dragons guarding the vaults, you could only get your hands on what was inside if it belonged to you. To gain access, more often than not, you needed a key. When Harry visited for the first time with Hagrid, his key unlocked his vault, revealed a small fortune that the Dursleys couldn’t plunder and suddenly he didn’t have to rely on them anymore. That key helped him to become part of the wizarding world.
While Portkeys aren’t physical keys – they’re actually often things that can be mistaken for junk – they do unlock new experiences. Who knew that a manky old boot, or a blackened kettle could contain such power? Harry had a few experiences with these objects – and each was completely different. His first experience led him to the Quidditch World Cup, where he saw the wizarding community come together at a showstopping event. However, the next one he encountered was the Triwizard Cup, which took him and Cedric to that terrible graveyard where Cedric was killed, and Harry watched Voldemort regain a body. He also used one in Order of the Phoenix, after he witnessed the attack on Arthur Weasley. Whether good, bad or horrific – his experiences with Portkeys opened him up to new adventures.
In Goblet of Fire, we think we meet the legendary Mad-Eye Moody. For nearly a whole year Harry and his friends believed that they were taught by him – learning all about Unforgivable Curses and other fascinating (if gruesome) topics. However, things weren’t as they seemed. Their Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was the Death Eater Barty Crouch junior. He had been posing as the celebrated Auror all year and had been swigging Polyjuice Potion to keep his disguise. In fact, the real Moody had been held prisoner in Crouch’s trunk, which had many different compartments… and many different keys. It was only when Dumbledore placed the seventh key in the lock that we discovered the real Alastor Moody. To keep someone as skilled as him hostage is no mean feat, and that horrible trunk was how he did it. If he hadn’t been kept under lock and key, Crouch wouldn’t have been able to enact his evil plan which helped to bring Voldemort back to power.
The odious Dursleys were big fans of locking up any links to the wizarding world. Whether it was Harry’s schoolbooks and broomstick in the cupboard under the stairs during the summer holidays, or Harry himself after the incident with Dobby and the pudding – they tried to keep magic squashed and hidden. Though as we know, they weren’t successful in any of their attempts. From Harry picking the lock to retrieve his school things, or Fred, George, Ron and a flying Ford Anglia ripping the bars off Harry’s bedroom window to take him to The Burrow – the Dursleys found that there was no key that could keep the wizarding world shut out for too long.
As you can see, keys played an important part in the story of Harry Potter. If you want to explore them further and unlock more secrets, why not take a look at our Enchanted Keys...