Orphan. Wizard. An unerring knack for getting caught up in whatever trouble there is to be found. The son of Lily and James Potter, Harry was sent to live with his aunt and uncle after his parents were murdered by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort. Voldemort tried to kill Harry as well, but failed, leaving him with a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead to go with his green eyes and black hair. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which he has attended since he was 11, Harry is a member of Gryffindor house, where he plays on the Quidditch team. In the four years he has been at Hogwarts, Harry has come close to death on more than one occasion, usually because of some plot hatched by Lord Voldemort.
Ron is one of Harry's best friends at Hogwarts, and also a Gryffindor. Tall, with red hair and freckles, his talent for wizard chess helped defeat one of Voldemort's early plots. He is sometimes envious of Harry's fame, and is embarrassed by his family's lack of wealth. He and Harry stopped speaking for a while after Harry was entered into a magical competition in Book 4, but they made up after Ron realized that Harry was in danger. Ron is deathly afraid of spiders, ever since his older brother turned his teddy bear into one when Ron was a toddler.
This Gryffindor, Harry's other best friend, is by far the smartest student of her year. With bushy hair and formerly large teeth (she had them shrunk in Book 4), Hermione can sometimes be a know-it-all but is always a good friend to Harry. She's despised by some -- especially Hogwarts student Draco Malfoy, who dislikes Hermione because her parents are Muggles (nonmagical). In her third year at Hogwarts, she signed up for so many classes that she was given a magical device that allowed her to turn back time so she could be in more than one place at a time. A romance between Hermione and Ron might be developing.
Head of Hogwarts. Dumbledore is reputed to be the only wizard Voldemort actually fears. Tall, with a long white beard, bright blue eyes and a long, crooked nose, Dumbledore has been involved in Harry's life from the beginning. It was Dumbledore who decided that Harry should live with his horrible aunt and uncle after his parents died; since Harry's arrival at Hogwarts, Dumbledore has always kept an eye on him. He knows things about Harry that he hasn't told him, but the time to reveal all may be here. At the end of Book 4, Dumbledore was rallying forces to fight Voldemort.
The most evil wizard of recent time, Voldemort had instituted a reign of terror in the magical world. He and his supporters, the Death-Eaters, were responsible for the torturing and killing of many, which stopped the night he went after the Potters. He killed Lily and James, but when he attempted to curse Harry, the curse bounced back upon him and severely weakened him. He fled, his hold over magical society gone. Most believe (or want to believe) that he is gone for good. But he has recently been able to return to physical form. Harry has learned that Voldemort was once Tom Riddle, a student at Hogwarts many years ago in Slytherin House.
A professor at Hogwarts, she teaches transfiguration and is the head of Gryffindor House. She started Harry on his Quidditch career when she saw him fly a broomstick for the first time. A severe-looking woman, she keeps her hair in a bun and wears glasses that look just like the markings around the eyes of the tabby cat into which she transfigures.
Head of Slytherin House, Snape is professor of potions. But he really wants to be the defense-against-the-dark-arts teacher. From the minute Harry arrives at Hogwarts, Snape detests him. But while he does many things to make Harry's life difficult, he's also something of a contradictory character. The first year, he kept Harry safe honoring that fact that James Potter once saved his life. A former Death-Eater, he left Voldemort's service and went to work for good. That makes Dumbledore trust him, even though others don't.
Keeper of the Keys at Hogwarts and recently a professor of the care of magical creatures. It was Hagrid, larger-than-life thanks to his giant mother, who turned up on Harry's 11th birthday to tell him about his past. A former Hogwarts student, he had been kicked out after he had been framed for crimes committed by Tom Riddle. He's besotted by dangerous animals, the more terrifying, the better. In Harry's first year, Hagrid kept an illegal dragon, a menacing little Norwegian Ridgeback named Norbert. Since then, he's come up with Blast-Ended Skrewts, crawly little things that grow to huge heights with stings and blood suckers.
The pale, blond Malfoy is Harry's most detested enemy, at least among Hogwarts students. He's a member of Slytherin House, which generated many of Voldemort's followers. Malfoy considers himself superior to many students, because he comes from one of the oldest pureblood wizarding families. He constantly makes fun of Ron for his family's poverty. Harry has disliked him from the moment they first met. Malfoy hangs out with his cronies, the oafish Crabbe and Goyle.
Harry's godfather, and wizard on the lam. Black was accused of being a Voldemort supporter and of crimes he didn't commit. He was sentenced, without a trial, to the wizard prison Azkaban. He escaped just before Harry's third year at Hogwarts, and started hunting the man who had committed the crimes, Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew happened to be hiding out at Hogwarts, in the form of Ron's pet rat. He escaped before Black had a chance to exonerate himself, forcing Black into hiding. He keeps in touch with Harry through letters, and comes to Hogwarts when he is needed, taking the form of a big, black dog.
Vernon, Petunia and son Dudley are Harry's nasty, nonmagical relatives. Petunia was Lily's sister. The Dursleys, who hate anything abnormal, have spent years mistreating Harry. They keep him during his summer breaks, but are extremely glad that he spends all his other holidays at school. Vernon, a big man with no neck, and Petunia, a thin woman with a lot of neck, think the world revolves around their overweight, bullying clod of a son, Dudley.
Ron's parents, Arthur and Molly, have six other children -- Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George and Ginny. Extremely loving and extremely poor, the family lives in a ramshackle house in Ottery St. Catchpole. They've almost adopted Harry, and are all very fond of him. Molly especially has a soft spot for Harry, sending him Christmas presents during his first year at Hogwarts. The Weasleys sit in for the Dursleys and root for Harry during the extremely dangerous Triwizard Tournament. Arthur works in the Ministry of Magic.
Draco's father, a man more evil than his son. Lucius is a Voldemort supporter. He hates Muggles and all those descended from nonmagical families. Using his money and power, he tries to influence many things, from an attempt to get Dumbledore out of Hogwarts to giving Ginny Weasley a diary that held some of Tom Riddle's evil spirit.
A house-elf, a race of beings that are enslaved in magical homes. They do all the housework, and many of them are grateful for their enslavement. Not Dobby. Formerly belonging to the Malfoys, he was freed through a scheme of Harry's. He scandalizes the rest of the house-elf world by now insisting he be paid for his efforts, and has gotten a job at Hogwarts. He adores Harry, and does whatever he can to help him, giving him handmade, mismatched socks for Christmas and finding the right tools to help him solve his challenges.