Where exactly does a witch or wizard go to the bathroom? Before the eighteenth century, the answer apparently was "wherever they felt like it."
Just when you think there are no more little mysteries to solve in the Wizarding World created by J.K. Rowling, Pottermore comes along (the website and Twitter account for all things related to Harry Potter canon) with a harsh truth about wizard hygiene. As a part of "World Trivia Day," Pottermore shared a bit of wizarding trivia that probably could have stayed in the Chamber of Secrets:
"Hogwarts didn't always have bathrooms. Before adopting Muggle plumbing methods in the eighteenth century, witches and wizards simply relieved themselves wherever they stood, and vanished the evidence."
Umm... okay. Cool. Cool cool cool. Why bother with something so muggle like a chamberpot when they can just let loose all over themselves? We kind of get it (not really though), but surely not every witch or wizard was proficient with the vanishing spells required? What was a struggling first-year student to do if they hadn't even learned them yet? Just, you know, sit there in their own mess? Even if the denizens of the school "vanished" their own waste, where did they vanish it to? Was there a particular vanishing spell used only for human waste? Was it thorough? What would a blacklight uncover if it was taken to some of those pre-18th-century wizarding robes? The mind revolts at the thought of these things.
Pottermore wasn't done, either, as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets famously revealed that Hogwarts did have bathrooms (at least during Harry's time) and that the chamber created by Salazar Slytherin (created before the 18th century) was accessed via a sink in one of them. How was he able to create that snakey-sink entrance if there was no bathroom in the first place?
They tweeted about that point, writing, "What about the Chamber of Secrets, you ask? The new plumbing almost revealed the Chamber's entrance..."
They link to a Pottermore entry about the Chamber, and then promise that more information is revealed there. The entry states that there is "clear evidence" that the Chamber was opened at least once between the death of Slytherin and its re-opening by Tom Riddle.
"When first created, the Chamber was accessed through a concealed trapdoor and a series of magical tunnels," the entry states. The introduction of plumbing threatened the Chamber, because it was "located on the site of a proposed bathroom." The entry claims that a student present at that time (a Slytherin descendant named Corvinus Gaunt) explains how the "simple trapdoor was secretly protected." Thanks to Corvinus, those who knew about the Chamber and wanted to access it could still do so, despite the new plumbing. He must be the one who had the idea to put a snake emblem on a sink spout.
If you've read all of this and are thinking, "Wow, I didn't need to know any of that," you are not alone.
One user tweeted that Harry Potter fans had just experienced their "Midichlorians moment," which recalls a similar (but far less disgusting) bit of force-splaing done in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
There are plenty of memes being posted of people who want to unlearn what they just learned, such as the following:
One user tweeted what Severus Snape's response would possibly be to this information...
...and another provided what spell they'd like Harry himself to use in this situation.
One helpful twitterer stated the obvious, something we've already pointed out ourselves— "Like...people had bathrooms before plumbing."
Buzzfeed was simply stumped.
One fan, however, seemed satisfied with the explanation, tweeting, "thank you, that actually answers everything." It may be sarcasm.
Other users were not satisfied. One user needed more information, tweeting more of the hard-hitting questions that this kind of tidbit brings to mind: "so how would first years or Squibs like Filch have 'used the facilities' in the past? Did everyone know the toilet spells before they arrived at Hogwarts? What happened if someone needed to vomit? Also what happened to the bacteria from the poop?"
For the most part, though, the reaction is very similar to this:
We never really expect to type the phrase "toilet spells" in the course of doing our job, but here we are. We'll be sure to update you if anything further comes down the pipe. Remember the Voldemort/Dumbledore duel? That was great.