The Bribe

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Chapter 11 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Bribe← Chapter 10 | Chapter 12 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Three days pass, and Kreacher is still gone, while dark figures, apparently Death Eaters, are constantly outside watching Grimmauld Place. While awaiting Kreacher's return, the tension strains the Trio's nerves. Tiring of Ron and Hermione's bickering, Harry heads for the kitchen, hoping Kreacher will reappear there. Halfway down the stairs, he hears the front door opening and draws his wand. As a cloaked figure enters, Dumbledore's moldering form rushes at the mysterious stranger, who calls out, "It was not I who killed you, Albus," causing Dumbledore to crumble back into dust. Aiming his wand, Harry shouts, "Don't move!" causing Mrs. Black's portrait to start screeching insults. As Ron and Hermione come running from upstairs, the voice identifies himself as Remus. Hermione and Ron lower their wands, but only after further convincing is Harry finally persuaded to lowers his. Lupin, speaking as their Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, reprimands Ron and Hermione for lowering their defenses too soon. Lupin confirms that Death Eaters are monitoring the house, though they apparently are unaware anyone is there. Any place associated with Harry is being watched.

Lupin updates them on recent events. He is stunned about the Death Eaters at Tottenham Court Road, though he assures Harry the Trace cannot still be active, confirming Ron's earlier statement. Lupin reports that most wedding guests Disapparated to safety, and that Death Eaters have infiltrated the Ministry. It is rumoured that Scrimgeour was tortured before being killed, but he apparently never revealed Harry's location. Death Eaters searched the Burrow and found the Spattergroit Ghoul, but avoided getting too close; everyone else at the Burrow was interrogated for hours. Although Death Eaters forced their way into other Order-related houses, no one has been killed, but some, like the Tonks, were tortured. Death Eaters were able to penetrate the magical charms surrounding the Burrow because they now have the Ministry's might behind them. Asked how they can legally justify their search, Lupin pulls out a Daily Prophet. On the front page is Harry's picture and the headline: WANTED FOR QUESTIONING ABOUT THE DEATH OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE.

Harry pushes the paper aside. Lupin says the Ministry claims that the murdered Scrimgeour actually resigned. He was replaced by Pius Thicknesse, who is under the Imperius curse. This effectively makes Voldemort the Minister for Magic. Though many wizards suspect what is happening in the Ministry, none dare speak out, fearing reprisals and unsure who to trust, while Voldemort remains hidden to create fear and confusion. Dumbledore's death was certain to make Harry the rallying point for resistance fighters, only now, implicating him in Dumbledore's murder has cast doubt. Lupin also says the Ministry is rounding up Muggle-borns, claiming they acquired their magical powers by theft. Anyone without at least one close wizard relative is suspect. In addition, all wizard children can now study magic only at Hogwarts, though this is actually a means to further weed out Muggle-borns – to attend Hogwarts, you must be able to prove Blood status.

The Order suspects Dumbledore assigned Harry a secret mission, which Harry confirms without confiding details. Lupin offers his assistance, even if they are unable to share what they are doing. When asked about Tonks, Lupin says she will be fine at her parents' house. Hermione suspects he is withholding something, and Lupin reveals that Tonks is expecting a baby. Harry chastises him for abandoning his pregnant wife, but Lupin claims she is better off without him and that she should never have married an outcast. He fears their child will be a Werewolf like him and that he is an unfit father. Outraged that he would desert his family, Harry shouts that Lupin is a coward. Lupin, offended, rages out the front door, ignoring Hermione's pleas to stay. Hermione, supported by Ron, reproaches Harry, who now feels bad over how he treated Lupin, but still feels he was right.

Ignoring Ron and Hermione, Harry browses the Prophet. Dumbledore's name jumps out, along with a photo of the entire Dumbledore family: Percival, Kendra, Albus and Aberforth, and baby Ariana. There is also a headline: EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT FROM THE UPCOMING BIOGRAPHY OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE by Rita Skeeter. The article describes Kendra as proud and haughty. After her husband's imprisonment in Azkaban, the family moved to Godric's Hollow, Harry Potter's former home, where few knew them. Skeeter claims that Kendra thought she could hide Ariana, who was believed to be a Squib. The article concludes with, Next Week: Albus Dumbledore at Hogwarts—the Prizes and the Pretense.

Kreacher suddenly returns, clutching a flailing Mundungus Fletcher, who attempts to use his wand. Hermione disarms him, and Ron wrestles him to the floor. With Kreacher wielding a pot at him, Mundungus admits he used the Locket to bribe a Ministry woman who caught him selling goods without a license. The woman was short, wearing a hair bow, and looked rather like a "toad." Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchange shocked expressions; the old scars on Harry's hand begin to prickle.

Analysis[edit]

One must wonder somewhat about the Death Eaters' interest in the house at Grimmauld Place. It is clearly under surveillance, though no apparent attempt is made to enter it, indicating they are probably unable to detect the concealed residence's precise location. Clearly the Death Eaters believe that some Order member, possibly Harry, may be hiding inside, though it is learned that any place associated with Harry is being watched. We already know that Severus Snape is a Secret-Keeper for the house's location; if it is believed that Harry may be in the house, why has Snape never shared the secret to a Death Eater squad so they could enter and ransack the place? If Snape is reluctant, why does Voldemort not order him to reveal this information? However, if Snape attempted to search Grimmauld Place after the Order of the Phoenix left, without knowing how to disarm the protective charms that were left behind, Snape may have been barred from entering, or, if he had bypassed that, Mad Eye Moody's Tongue-tying Curse that greeted the Trio at the front entrance may be preventing Snape from divulging its location.

Harry's reaction to Lupin seems undeservedly harsh, but he immediately sees that Lupin, believing himself an unsuitable husband and father, is crafting a thinly-veiled excuse to leave Tonks, who he thinks deserves someone better. Having lost his own parents and godfather, being raised in a loveless household, and left feeling betrayed and set adrift by Dumbledore, Harry is infuriated that Lupin would abandon his pregnant wife in such desperate times and allow their unborn child to be raised without a father. Lupin's belief in his own unworthiness must seem particularly infuriating to him as Lupin, despite being a Werewolf, has risked his own life serving in the Order of the Phoenix fighting Voldemort and his Death Eaters, is always loyal to his friends. He has also exerted a significant positive influence on Harry and many other students while being a Hogwarts teacher. Lupin, like so many others when they appraise themselves, apparently fails to consider this, and, despite loving Tonks, instead feels that his outcast status in the Wizarding world far outweighs any sterling attributes and his responsibilities as a husband and father. Lupin leaves Grimmauld Place in a rage, and he and Harry seem permanently divided, but Harry's outburst likely will deeply affect him. Harry is also affected by their confrontation, and though Harry now regrets overreacting to Lupin, he remains convinced he is right.

Rita Skeeter's book excerpt has also troubled Harry, and he is confused by the Dumbledore family's behavior. He wonders how the Albus Dumbledore he knew could have come from the past Skeeter describes, though Harry actually knew little about Albus' life. Harry is also particularly dismayed to discover how far Kendra Dumbledore seemed willing to go to conceal her daughter Ariana.

Based on Mundungus Fletcher's description, the Trio is positive that the "toad" woman is none other than Ministry official Dolores Umbridge. Although they have located the Locket Horcrux, they must now devise a plan to retrieve it—an extremely difficult and dangerous undertaking. It is unclear yet if Umbridge knows the Locket's significance.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Review[edit]

  1. How did Lupin know where to find the Trio? How did he enter Grimmauld Place undetected by the ever-present Death Eaters?
  2. Why does Lupin offer to help with the Trio's mission?
  3. Who do the Trio think the "toad woman" might be? Are they correct, or are they rushing into an unfounded conclusion?

Further Study[edit]

  1. If Death Eaters and Snape, who is a Secret Keeper, previously searched Grimmauld Place as Harry suspects, why are they unwilling or unable to enter it now?
  2. The mess in Sirius' room clearly indicates someone has been in Grimmauld Place. If Death Eaters did not enter Grimmauld Place, then who did and why?
  3. Why does Harry call Lupin a coward, even though Lupin is willing to risk his life to help with their mission? Was it proper of Harry to say that?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Although Lupin is deeply angered and offended by Harry's outburst, its effect will reunite him and Tonks and, eventually, cause him to realize that he is indeed a fit husband and father. Lupin later asks Harry to be godfather to his newborn son, which Harry immediately accepts, indicating their relationship has healed.

The Trio's worry about Snape breaking in is not unfounded; we will later learn that Snape had, in fact, visited Grimmauld Place, and was responsible for at least some of the mess in Sirius' bedroom. There is some confusion on when Snape visited; the account of the visit seems to place it after Harry's escape from Privet Drive, a good two months after Dumbledore's funeral. According to an interview with the author, however, Snape entered Grimmauld Place immediately after Dumbledore's death, before the protective spells were implemented. Snape never reveals Grimmauld Place's location to other Death Eaters; he was apparently there only for personal reasons, rather than an attempt to capture Harry or uncover valuable information for Lord Voldemort. And though Voldemort is greatly skilled at Legilimency, Snape is highly adept at Occlumency, and can, presumably, keep this hidden.

As the Trio believes, the "toad woman" is Dolores Umbridge, who is likely oblivious to the Locket's status. To her, it is only an ornate piece of jewelry with an inlaid S, and something she is unable to open. Having extorted it from a petty street grifter, she would expect it to be little more than a cheap trinket or a moderately valuable stolen item, not an artifact worth thousands of Galleons. And Horcruxes, being a mechanism for a person's immortality, would certainly be carefully protected and unavailable for sale on a street corner, though this one, by unusual circumstances, came to be.

It also seems that Umbridge is using the Locket as a prop to bolster her possibly bogus claim that she is related to the ancient Selwyn Wizarding family, on the strength of the inlaid S. If she is unrelated, she may be dangerously ignorant that a character named Selwyn likely does belong to that family, and he is a Death Eater. Considering how inter-connected most wizard families appear to be, it is certainly possible Umbridge could somehow be related to the Selwyns, though any relationship that might exist is likely being over-exaggerated by her.