Harry’s mother celebrated her birthday on 20th January – basically the depths of winter for those of us in the northern hemisphere – but almost from the beginning, she was a ray of light. In her pre-Hogwarts days, Lily tried to spare her sister Petunia’s feelings as she prepared for her new life as a witch. At school, she maintained her friendship with Snape for as long as she could, but still had the courage to stand up to him when his fascination with the Dark Arts took him down the wrong path. And she didn’t spare her future husband either: when James Potter was being an arrogant, bullying toe rag, she had no qualms about calling him out.
But it was her love for Harry that showed her true character. She was willing to die to save him, without any hesitation. Of course, her sacrifice literally kept Harry safe, but the example she gave him – of prioritising love over anything else, and of exceptional bravery in the face of danger – was just as important. He might have grown up without her, but Lily blazed a trail her son couldn’t help but follow.
The gentlest of gentle giants, Hagrid was a hugely positive force in Harry’s life. Always there to provide warmth, support and tooth-breakingly hard rock cakes, Hagrid also gave Harry some of the most uncomplicated moments of excitement and adventure he ever had in the wizarding world. From that first trip to Diagon Alley to the rescuing of Norbert to those afternoons pottering about in his small wooden hut, Hagrid took Harry under his wing and looked after him quite as well as any of his own magical creatures.
Years before Harry, Newt Scamander was another slightly reluctant (and occasionally quite stubborn) wizarding world hero with a seemingly impossible Dumbledore-set task ahead of him and a love for magical creatures that easily equalled Hagrid’s.
But Dumbledore obviously had a knack for selecting heroes, because for all his reluctance, everyone warmed to Newt. As with Hagrid, his love for fantastic beasts was incredibly endearing, but it was his stubborn determination to do the right thing – even if, as he told his brother Theseus, he didn’t want to pick a ‘side’ – that made him the humble Hufflepuff hero he was.
Loyal, enthusiastic, and with a flair for fashion, Dobby was small in stature but made up for it in personality (and also in gift-giving prowess – his painting of Harry was a particular favourite of ours.)
OK, first impressions were a little mixed, given his attempts to sabotage Harry’s return to Hogwarts and, later, to knock him off his broom mid-Quidditch game. It wasn’t clear at the time that he was trying to save Harry’s life, but now we know better. Dobby’s loyalty towards Harry was already well-established before Harry helped free him from the Malfoy’s, but after that his devotion knew no bounds. He was always there to help out, from giving Harry the Gillyweed that allowed him to rescue his ‘Wheezy’ during the Triwizard Tournament to finding the DA a place to practise to that final moment of sacrifice, when he rescued Harry and the others from Malfoy Manor and paid the ultimate price for his bravery. Dobby died a Free Elf, as fiercely loyal to Harry as he had ever been.
Quirky, creative, and completely unembarrassable, Luna’s beliefs were as strange as they were varied and she was not averse to the odd conspiracy theory (Rufus Scrimgeour as a vampire, anyone?)
And yet her knack for getting right to the heart of things gave her a unique kind of wisdom. She certainly offered Harry comfort when he needed it: sharing her own experience of grief when he was mourning Sirius; delivering a simple but heartfelt eulogy for Dobby; identifying when Harry needed time away from the crowds after the Battle of Hogwarts. She might have believed in a lot of false stories, but when it came to empathy and understanding she was truly wise.
Molly Weasley was the embodiment of maternal comfort. Her cosy but haphazard home provided a refuge, not just for her own family but for Harry and numerous other friends and relatives. She regularly cooked up a storm of comfort food. And every Christmas, she provided each of her family members with the cosiest and most comforting item of clothing ever to exist: a Weasley jumper.
For Harry, of course, the comfort that she gave him was about much more than hearty meals. When she hugged him after Cedric’s death, we saw just how much she cared…
Plus, she may have been warmth personified, but Molly had a core of steel. We all remember her battle with Bellatrix. Which just goes to show: never underestimate a mother.