|"Are you a wizard or not?"
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- Professor McGonagall: "It will need to be checked for jinxes. Of course, I'm no expert, but I daresay Madam Hooch and Professor Flitwick will strip it down —"
- Ron: "Strip it down?"
- Professor McGonagall: "It shouldn't take more than a few weeks. You will have it back if we are sure it is jinx-free."
- — Professor McGonagall gives Harry some bad news.[src]
Stripping-down is a process by which a broomstick may be examined for jinxes, hexes and other forms of tampering. It is a lengthy process, but is the only method to assure that a broomstick that may have fallen into suspicious hands is completely safe to ride.
- "No, Potter, you can't have it back yet. We've checked for most of the usual curses, but Professor Flitwick believes the broom might be carrying a Hurling Hex. I shall tell you once we've finished checking it. Now, please stop badgering me."
- —Professor McGonagall becomes irritated after Harry Potter pesters her for news of his Firebolt's fate.[src]
The exact details of the process for the stripping down of a broom are unknown. The process does however, involve a thorough examination for various types of Dark Magic. It may include other checks to be certain that the broom is factory-standard and not altered in any way that could be harmful to the rider. If the process is completed correctly and nothing untoward is found, then the broomstick will be returned to its owner in its original, pristine condition. In addition to a general examination, specific spells can be checked for.
- "He was positive that there was nothing wrong with the Firebolt now, but what sort of state would it be in once it had been subjected to all sorts of anti-jinx tests? Ron was furious with Hermione too. As far as he was concerned, the stripping-down of a brand-new Firebolt was nothing less than criminal damage. Hermione, who remained convinced that she had acted for the best, started avoiding the common room."
- —Harry and Ron get angry with Hermione.[src]
On Christmas 1993, Harry Potter received a Firebolt as an anonymous present. He was delighted by gift, but Hermione Granger was worried that the broom may have been sent by Sirius Black (believed at the time to be in league with Lord Voldemort and out to kill Harry) and reported the gift to Professor Minerva McGonagall. McGonagall, worried as well, confiscated the broomstick and stated that it would be "stripped down" by Professor Filius Flitwick and Madam Rolanda Hooch, a process that involved testing it for various jinxes and hexes.
Harry and Ron were aghast at the news and chose to stop speaking to Hermione. Harry, needing the broom for an upcoming Quidditch match, began pestering Professor McGonagall daily for news, until she finally snapped and stated that it had been found to be free of the usual jinxes and hexes, but Flitwick was worried that it might be carrying a Hurling Hex. Eventually this final hurdle was cleared and the broomstick was returned to Harry in time for the match.
It was later revealed that the broomstick had in fact been sent to Harry by Sirius Black, but was not jinxed because Sirius was innocent of the crimes of which he had been accused, and had never been after Harry.
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the broomstick does not undergo the stripping-down process, as it was sent by Sirius to Harry after Harry had learned the truth of his actions. As such, Harry unwraps it on the school grounds in front of his friends and classmates and takes flight immediately. This could still be considered to be a small inconsistency, however, as Albus Dumbledore was supposed to be only remaining adult at the school who knew the truth of Sirius's innocence.