The Battle of Hogwarts

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Chapter 31 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Battle of Hogwarts← Chapter 30 | Chapter 32 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall is dark with twinkling stars; the students are sitting below, clothed in their dressing gowns or traveling cloaks. Every Hogwarts being, living or dead, is listening to Professor McGonagall: students will be evacuated before the battle begins, though the older students can remain and fight. The Order and the professors have agreed upon a battle plan and begin dividing into groups. As tension mounts over the approaching battle, Harry anxiously searches the room for Ron and Hermione, who are still missing. Voldemort's booming voice, seemingly from nowhere, demands that, to save the school, Harry Potter must surrender by midnight. Pointing at Harry, Pansy Parkinson, a Slytherin, yells for someone to grab him. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw students leap up, aiming their wands at Slytherin's table. McGonagall then orders all Slytherins to leave, followed by the other Houses, though many older students from the other three Houses remain behind. McGonagall reminds Harry that he is supposed to be looking for something. Swept up the marble staircase with the defenders, Harry breaks away, heading down an empty corridor. He is beginning to panic—he has no idea where to search for the Horcrux.

Harry races through the hallways. Glancing at the Marauder's Map, he is unable to locate Ron and Hermione on it. Harry remembers that Voldemort warned the Carrows that Harry would attempt to enter Ravenclaw Tower. Harry is convinced the Horcrux must be linked to that House and it must be the Diadem; he wonders how Voldemort found an object lost centuries ago, then has a sudden brainwave. The Diadem has not been seen in living memory, but that does not include Ghosts. Harry finds Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor Ghost, who sends him to the Grey Lady. She admits she was Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter, Helena. Jealous of her mother's fame, she stole the Diadem and ran away to Albania, hiding the crown in a forest. A Baron who was in love with Helena found her, but she spurned him. Becoming violent, he fatally stabbed her, then killed himself in remorse. Harry realizes it was the Bloody Baron. Harry asks if she shared her story with anyone else, and she sadly admits she once told a charming Hogwarts student. Harry surmises Tom Riddle found the Diadem and created a Horcrux from it. He hid it at Hogwarts in a place he believed no one else knew existed.

Hagrid has returned from his cave with Grawp after hearing Voldemort's voice. As Harry and Hagrid run through the halls, the first casualties are already appearing. A shattered stone gargoyle reminds Harry of the Ravenclaw statue at the Lovegood house. Another image appears to him: an old wizard's bust on which Harry once placed a tatty wig and a battered tiara inside a secret room that few ever knew existed. Harry suddenly realizes where the Diadem is—it is the same "battered tiara" that he used to mark where his Potions book in the Room of Requirement was hidden. As Harry races to it, he passes Aberforth, who has decided to join the battle, though Harry chastises him for suggesting that Slytherin students should have been kept as hostages. Harry finally finds Ron and Hermione, who, to his amazement, are carrying Basilisk fangs that they retrieved from the Chamber of Secrets and a mangled cup. Ron remembered the Parseltongue words Harry spoke when he unlatched the Locket Horcrux. Ron insisted that Hermione be the one to destroy the Cup Horcrux. Harry tells them about the Diadem.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione race to the Room of Requirement. Ginny is inside, along with Tonks, and Mrs. Longbottom, Neville's grandmother, who has sealed off the tunnel to the inn. Tonks and Mrs. Longbottom leave to join the battle. Harry asks Ginny to step outside, but to come back inside later. When Ron says he wants to warn the House-elves, an overjoyed Hermione flings herself into Ron's arms, kissing him. He kisses her back, their unspoken feelings finally shared. Harry has everyone step into the corridor, then thinks hard to himself: I need the place where everything is hidden. An entrance appears. Inside the large labyrinthine room, they search for the Diadem. Harry spots it but Draco Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle suddenly arrive, and a fierce duel erupts. In the confusion, Malfoy drops his borrowed wand, Harry disarms Goyle, and Crabbe unleashes an uncontrollable fire, setting the room ablaze. Crabbe is lost amongst the flames, but the Trio escapes unscathed on broomsticks that Harry finds. They save Malfoy and Goyle as they fly from the room. Harry, seeing the Diadem being tossed about by the fire, grabs it, then makes for the door.

Outside, they collapse on the hallway floor. The Diadem emits a thin shriek and falls apart in Harry's hand. Hermione says Crabbe must have conjured Fiendfyre, one of the few things that can destroy a Horcrux.

Shouts and noises fill the hall; Death Eaters have penetrated the castle. Suddenly, Percy and Fred appear, dueling two Death Eaters in the hallway; one is Pius Thicknesse. The wall is blasted open from the outside, and Fred is killed in the explosion.

Analysis[edit]

If readers were holding out hope that some Slytherins, other than Slughorn, would join forces against Voldemort, they are now disappointed. Although it would seem likely that at least a few Slytherins, particularly the half-bloods, must oppose Voldemort and his Death Eaters, they are denied that opportunity; when Slytherin House, led by Pansy Parkinson, aims their wands at Harry, McGonagall elects to send the entire House away, probably to avert a violent, and possibly lethal, confrontation with the other Houses who will defend Harry. Any Slytherins that have doubts about the wisdom of siding with Voldemort against Harry are submerged in the crowd. If they choose to fight Voldemort, they will do so from outside the school.

On the brink of battle, several characters undergo some significant realizations about themselves. For most of his life, Harry has felt isolated and suffered from a need to "go it alone", often refusing others' assistance or accepting it only when pressured or as a last resort. Not only is Harry bolstered by his old friends and allies returning to Hogwarts, ready to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters, but as he races through the hallways, he yearns for Ron and Hermione's help and companionship. Harry has made great strides in learning to trust and rely on others.

Hermione is overjoyed when Ron wants to warn House-elves of the imminent danger. His growing maturity has led to his concern for others' well being, not just his own or his immediate family's. He now recognizes that Hermione's efforts on the Elves behalf has been valid and that these creatures deserve the same respect and consideration as other magical folk. Ron also shows his natural intelligence when, during the intense battle, he realizes that Basilisk fangs can destroy Horcruxes, something Harry must have forgotten about despite having destroyed Riddle's Diary with one. Recalling the Parseltongue words Harry spoke, Ron opens the Chamber of Secrets and retrieves the fangs. Hermione's genuine admiration for his cleverness, quick thinking, and leadership further enhances her feelings for him. And though Ron was responsible for retrieving the Basilisk fangs, he feels it is only right that Hermione should destroy the Cup Horcrux, she being an equal member of the Trio and responsible for much of their mission's success. These acts open the door to Ron and Hermione's submerged feelings for one another, though their happiness is quickly marred by tragedy.

That tragedy is Fred's untimely death, and not only does it cause intense pain and sorrow to those who loved him, it also tests their strength and courage. Racked with grief, Harry and the Weasley family must suppress their anguish and focus solely on the ensuing battle if they are to defeat Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Percy is particularly distraught, having just reunited with his estranged family. Hopefully he can find solace in having reconciled with Fred before he died, but for now, he diverts his grief into rage at the enemy to avenge his lost brother. Readers will recall that earlier in the book, George's ear was severed during the flight from the Dursleys' house. This may have foreshadowed him losing a larger part of himself, that part being Fred.

The rather morose Draco seen at Malfoy Manor has reverted to his familiar arrogant and bullying persona now that he is back at Hogwarts, lording over his faithful minions, Crabbe and Goyle. Away from his family's influence, Draco adopts a very different façade from the one he displays while in his parents' presence. However, that mask usually crumbles whenever Draco is faced with adversity, as it did when confronting Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, and being forced to torture a fellow Death Eater earlier in this book. Why he chose to remain in the castle when the other Slytherins departed to join Voldemort is unclear, and his true intentions will remain unknown. It is hinted that Draco may have been planning to capture Harry and present him to Voldemort, though he previously passed on that opportunity back at Malfoy Manor. Draco himself may be unaware just what his real motives are, vacillating between fearful indifference and seizing an opportunity to win back the Dark Lord's favor for his family. Draco is a vessel lacking a compass, and, as he may have learned from observing his mentor, Snape, maintaining a neutral position makes it easier to align one's self with either winning side. However, when Draco realized Harry was after the Diadem, he may have wanted to capture him with the hope that he could reprieve the Malfoys from Voldemort's retaliation, and so redeem himself to his family, particularly his father, for his earlier failure in identifying Harry.

Interestingly, when Draco and Harry confront one another in the Room of Requirement, Draco demands his wand back. However, even if Harry was inclined to return it, which he was not, it probably would be practically useless for Draco. When Harry captured the wand at Malfoy Manor, it likely transferred its allegiance from Draco to Harry, its new master. Indeed, Harry found that Draco's wand worked exceptionally well for him.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why did Ron want Hermione to be the one who destroyed the Cup Horcrux?
  2. Did it ever occur to the Trio earlier on to use Basilisk fangs to destroy the other Horcruxes? Why or why not?
  3. Why is Hermione so ecstatic when Ron wants to warn the House-elves? What does this say about Ron's character?
  4. Why is Harry unable to locate Ron and Hermione's name on the Marauder's Map?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Harry saves Goyle's and Malfoy's lives. Do they now owe him a "life debt" as Peter Pettigrew did? Explain.
  2. At Malfoy Manor, Draco would not identify Harry to the Death Eaters. Why does he now want to capture him for the Dark Lord?
  3. How does Malfoy's current behavior and demeanor compare to the way he behaved while at Malfoy Manor? How does it compare to how he acted during his earlier years at Hogwarts? What could account for these differences?
  4. Will the Room of Requirement be operational again? Explain why or why not this might be.

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Ron having Hermione destroy the Cup Horcrux shows how deep the bond is between Harry, Ron, and Hermione: since Harry had already destroyed a Horcrux - the Diary - and Ron eliminated another - the Locket - then why should Hermione not destroy the third Horcrux? Harry will also place his complete trust in Neville to eliminate a final Horcrux in the event that he, Hermione, or Ron are unable. This all shows how Harry, who initially believed he should undertake the quest alone, depends on his friends far more than he ever realized. We will be reminded again when, though it was Harry who was tasked by Dumbledore to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes, in the end, each Horcrux is eventually destroyed by a different person. And though Harry had wanted to search for the Horcruxes alone, Dumbledore always knew, and intended, that Ron and Hermione would accompany him, and other allies would aid him as well.

Ron wanting to warn the House-elves about the attack is what causes Hermione to throw herself into his arms and kiss him, overjoyed that he finally considers them as worthy beings; as it turns out, however, the usually overlooked creatures are not warned, but they play an important role in the final battle against Voldemort.

Also, Draco Malfoy choosing to stay at Hogwarts rather than leave with the other Slytherins will prove an important factor in the story. First, it is his friend, Crabbe, who - accidentally - destroys the Diadem Horcrux in the Room of Requirement. Then, when Harry revives after being struck by Voldemort's ineffective Killing Curse, it is Narcissa Malfoy, Draco's mother, who is called upon to verify that Harry is dead. Because Draco is still inside the castle, Narcissa knows that the only way she can enter it, without risking Draco's life in further fighting, is if the Death Eaters enter unopposed, which would be unlikely if Harry was still alive. So, on finding Harry alive and able to confirm that Draco is also alive, she lies to Voldemort, thus sparing Harry's life. By now, she may also realize that only Harry can kill Voldemort, thus eliminating any future threat to herself and her family.

Relinquishing Draco's wand to him would not only render Harry powerless, Harry's ultimately defeating Voldemort hinges on his retaining it, that being the same wand that disarmed Dumbledore, and thus the wand that identifies the wizard the Elder Wand now owes its allegiance—or so Harry hopes. At Shell Cottage Mr. Ollivander revealed that he was working in areas of magic that even those skilled in wand lore were unable to fully understand. Harry is still uncertain who the Elder Wand has determined is its master; it should, properly, be Draco, but as Harry has captured Draco's wand, the Elder Wand may now be Harry's. Harry, though, can only be certain that the Elder Wand is not fully Voldemort's, for all that he wields it. It is not until Harry's encounter with Voldemort that he becomes convinced that the Elder Wand has given its allegiance to Harry.