The Harry Potter series has no shortage of emotional — and often tear-jerking — moments. So to celebrate July 31 — a.k.a. the 37th birthday of the boy who lived — we’re sharing our picks for the most heartwarming scenes J.K. Rowling ever bestowed upon fans.
From Hagrid’s grand entrance to Ron’s unconscious declaration of love, here are 10 of TIME’s favorite wizarding world moments.
- TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2022
- I Tested Positive for COVID-19 Right Before the Holidays. What Should I Do?
- Column: How To Create a Sense of Belonging In a Divided America
- How to Survive the Holidays if You're a Scrooge
- Life Expectancy Provides Evidence of How Far Black Americans Have Come
- The 10 Best Albums of 2022
- Iran Has a Long History of Protest and Activism
- 6 Ways to Give Better Gifts—Based on Science
Hagrid tells Harry he's a wizard
The moment Rubeus Hagrid burst through the door of the Hut-on-the-Rock to deliver Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letter started an unforgettable journey for not only Harry, but millions of fans. After disarming Uncle Vernon and presenting Harry with his first-ever birthday cake, the gentle gamekeeper revealed the truth about Harry’s magical background with one of the series most oft-quoted lines: “Harry — yer a wizard.”
It was only an added bonus that he also used his pink umbrella to give Dudley a pig’s tail.
Neville wins the House Cup for Gryffindor
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends,” Dumbledore memorably observed before awarding Neville the final 10 points Gryffindor needed to beat out Slytherin for the House Cup.
Neville’s first year at Hogwarts was largely marked by a series of unfortunate mishaps. However, the courage he demonstrated when confronting Harry, Ron and Hermione gave fans a glimpse into the strong wizard he would become.
Fawkes comes to Harry's aid
When Harry declared that Dumbledore was the greatest wizard in the world while facing the memory of Tom Riddle, Fawkes seemed to miraculously appear in the Chamber of Secrets. The Phoenix then saved Harry’s life by presenting him with the Sorting Hat — which contained the Sword of Gryffindor — blinding the Basilisk and curing Harry of the serpent’s venom. “You must have shown me real loyalty down in the Chamber,” Dumbledore later lovingly told Harry. “Nothing but that could have called Fawkes to you.”
Dobby is freed
To thank Dobby for trying to warn him about the plot to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, Harry tricked the house elf’s master, Lucius Malfoy, into handing him a sock. In accordance with wizarding law, Dobby was then freed from a life of servitude to the Malfoy family.”Master has presented Dobby with clothes,” he exclaimed in glee. “Dobby is free!”
The moment was made all the more poignant by Dobby’s promise to never try to save Harry’s life again, as we all know how that sadly turned out.
Harry learns the truth about Sirius
After spending the majority of Prisoner of Azkaban believing Sirius was the one who betrayed his parents, Harry discovered it was actually Peter Pettigrew who revealed James and Lily’s whereabouts to Voldemort all those years ago. This climactic turn of events led to an emotional conversation between Harry and his godfather in which Sirius asked him to live with him, offering Harry his first real home outside of Hogwarts.
Dumbledore takes the D.A. fall
Although the formation of Dumbledore’s Army had nothing to do with Dumbledore himself, the headmaster was quick to accept the blame when Harry’s secret organization was discovered by Dolores Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad. When confronted by Umbridge and Cornelius Fudge, Dumbledore didn’t hesitate to falsely admit he was building an army to seize control of the Ministry, showing just how far he was willing to go to protect his students.
Ron says Hermione's name
Despite the fact that he was dating Lavender Brown at the time, when Ron unconsciously whispered Hermione’s name in the infirmary in The Half-Blood Prince, it was clear where his heart truly lay. The tear-jerking moment came after Hermione rushed to his bedside when he was inadvertently poisoned by Professor Slughorn and made it clear once and for all that the two were destined to be together — regardless of J.K. Rowling’s later change of heart.
From the moment Harry arrived on their doorstep, the Dursleys began grooming Dudley to hate and mistreat his cousin. However — although he was guilty of tormenting Harry for many years — Dudley eventually managed to overcome his parents’ prejudices and make amends in The Deathly Hallows. “I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” he told Harry before leaving Privet Drive, acknowledging that his cousin had saved his life.
Rowling later revealed that the two remained on “Christmas-card terms” as they grew older.
Hermione conjures a wreath
The deaths of Lily and James Potter shaped the course of Harry’s entire life. But while thinking about his parents often caused Harry great pain, he didn’t shed a tear over them until visiting the Godric’s Hollow Graveyard in The Deathly Hallows. Luckily, just as he realized he didn’t have anything to lay on their grave, Hermione sensed what he needed and conjured a wreath of roses for it.
Mrs. Weasley defeats Bellatrix
In the wizarding world, there is no magic comparable to that of a mother’s love. Molly Weasley had not showcased any dueling ability up to this point, but when she stepped in to protect Ginny during the Battle of Hogwarts, it resulted in one of the series’ most satisfying sequences. “Not my daughter, you b-tch,” she shouted before turning her wand on Bellatrix Lestrange and taking out Voldemort’s most powerful follower once and all.