Nineteen Years Later
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- Chapter 1: The Dark Lord Ascending
- Chapter 2: In Memoriam
- Chapter 3: The Dursleys Departing
- Chapter 4: The Seven Potters
- Chapter 5: Fallen Warrior
- Chapter 6: The Ghoul in Pyjamas
- Chapter 7: The Will of Albus Dumbledore
- Chapter 8: The Wedding
- Chapter 9: A Place to Hide
- Chapter 10: Kreacher's Tale
- Chapter 11: The Bribe
- Chapter 12: Magic is Might
- Chapter 13: The Muggle-Born Registration Commission
- Chapter 14: The Thief
- Chapter 15: The Goblin's Revenge
- Chapter 16: Godric's Hollow
- Chapter 17: Bathilda's Secret
- Chapter 18: The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
- Chapter 19: The Silver Doe
- Chapter 20: Xenophilius Lovegood
- Chapter 21: The Tale of the Three Brothers
- Chapter 22: The Deathly Hallows
- Chapter 23: Malfoy Manor
- Chapter 24: The Wandmaker
- Chapter 25: Shell Cottage
- Chapter 26: Gringotts
- Chapter 27: The Final Hiding Place
- Chapter 28: The Missing Mirror
- Chapter 29: The Lost Diadem
- Chapter 30: The Sacking of Severus Snape
- Chapter 31: The Battle of Hogwarts
- Chapter 32: The Elder Wand
- Chapter 33: The Prince's Tale
- Chapter 34: The Forest Again
- Chapter 35: King's Cross
- Chapter 36: The Flaw in the Plan
- Epilogue: Nineteen Years Later
Once again we join Harry Potter as he enters what would be his seventh year at Hogwarts. The book is written from the point-of-view of the now 17-year-old Harry as he prepares to complete the mission set for him by Dumbledore at the end of the previous year. Arguably the darkest book in the series, this volume shows Lord Voldemort tightening his grip on the Wizarding world as he remolds it into his own pure-blood design.
While the series progressively covers seven years in Harry Potter's life, the first five volumes are largely self-contained stories. Unlike them, this book is written more as the second half to a two-part novel, and is tightly tied to the previous book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Note: While this book is among the longer ones in the series, at 607 pages (Bloomsbury / Raincoast edition), it is also set in somewhat larger type. If it were the same size type as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, it would be 520 pages (approximately) to 223 for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
- New places visited: Godric's Hollow, Malfoy Manor, Shell Cottage, Lovegood home
- Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher: Amycus Carrow
- Headmaster: Severus Snape
- Title refers to: the Deathly Hallows
Chapter 1: The Dark Lord Ascending
There is a momentary silence. Then Snape and Yaxley Apparate in simultaneously, each aiming his wand at the other. Recognizing one another, they then head for Malfoy Manor, Voldemort's new headquarters, where he and his Death Eaters have gathered. Inside, Snape informs Voldemort that the Order of the Phoenix is moving Harry Potter from the Dursley home to a secret location the following Saturday, at sunset. Snape reports that the information comes, "from the source [they] discussed." This contradicts the information that Yaxley obtained from Dawlish, an Auror, but that is determined to be unreliable. Snape suspects the Ministry has been infiltrated, and is feeding them false information. Yaxley reports that he has succeeded in placing Pius Thicknesse, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, under the Imperius curse, a major step in taking over the Ministry of Magic. However, Voldemort says that Thicknesse is only one man, "and Scrimgeour must be completely surrounded by our people before I act." Voldemort mentions that his wand, having the same magical core as Harry Potter's wand, could prove ineffective against Harry. During the discussions a prisoner is heard wailing from below; Voldemort sends Wormtail to quiet him.
Above the table Voldemort and his followers are seated at, a bound, unconscious figure is suspended upside down, slowly rotating. Voldemort demands Lucius' wand, claiming Malfoy no longer needs it and that he and his wife were unfaithful to the Dark Lord. Bellatrix Lestrange boasts that she, unlike her sister, Narcissa, has always been faithful, though Voldemort japes about her niece having recently married a Werewolf. The captive, awake and sobbing, pleads for help from an impassive Snape. Voldemort casts a killing curse at the woman, Professor Charity Burbage, the Muggle Studies instructor at Hogwarts, for teaching the subject and for publishing an opinion suggesting that the declining pure-blooded wizard population is actually beneficial and that blood purity should no longer matter. Her body is given to Nagini as her "dinner".
Although Voldemort has gathered key supporters around him, there is little solidarity among them, showing a major difference between Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix. The Death Eaters constantly compete with one another to ascend in the Dark Lord's eyes. Some are affronted that Snape, who is still regarded with suspicion by others, is invited to sit at Voldemort's right hand while the Malfoys now occupy a lower position at the foot of the table; this is obviously galling to them and shows how far and how quickly they have fallen from favor, particularly Lucius Malfoy, whose arrogance and wealth have, until now, shielded his rather weak character. Now the Malfoys must endure this latest humiliation, though they apparently still retain hope to somehow redeem themselves to the Dark Lord. This will likely prove difficult, as Voldemort has shown that he demands absolute loyalty and servitude while offering his followers little in return. Any failure is severely punished and unforgiven. This has created an atmosphere where disharmony and rebellion can quickly set in, prompting Voldemort's followers to seek their own reward any way they can, possibly resorting to treachery against one another. Even his most ardent follower, Bellatrix Lestrange, is taunted by Voldemort, who likely considers her "tainted" for her familial relationships to the Malfoys (her sister, brother-in-law, and nephew) and to the Tonks clan (through her other sister, Andromeda Black Tonks). Voldemort may come to doubt Bellatrix's loyalty if he should ever kill one of her closest kin, which may be one reason the Malfoys remain alive, at least for now. In the Order, however, the organization rallies around Harry in a unified goal to protect him and defeat Voldemort; this is far more important than material gains or an individual's status within their group, and it serves to strengthen, rather than divide them.
The one character whose true motives and loyalty have never been clearly defined throughout the entire series is Snape. Is he a reformed Death Eater secretly carrying out Dumbledore's orders as a double-agent, or was he merely biding his time, gathering information, awaiting the Dark Lord's resurrection? Now Snape is deeply embedded in the Death Eaters' inner council and has become a trusted Voldemort confidante. He also acts as a conduit for information about the Order. It is unknown whether Snape's information is accurate or how he obtained it. Voldemort is likely attempting to read Snape's mind using Legilimency and thus judge how reliable the information is, though Snape is skilled in Occlumency, and, conceivably, could block Voldemort's intrusions. Disputes over Snape's loyalty had seemed resolved after Snape killed Dumbledore (at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). Yet, Dumbledore steadfastly maintained unwavering trust in him. Also, the circumstances surrounding Dumbledore's death are ambiguous, and some readers have speculated that Snape killing Dumbledore was actually some prearranged plan between them. And while many questions go unanswered, it is doubtful that Voldemort and other Death Eaters will ever completely trust Snape. The old adage, "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer" may very well apply here, and it could equally have applied to Dumbledore just as it does to Voldemort. Also, many fans believe that Dumbledore may not actually be dead, though the author is adamant he did die in the previous book. Whatever Snape's actual course or motives may be, it remains unknown until the book's end.
Also, some critics may feel that waiting until the last book to introduce the Charity Burbage character solely to kill her off is literary laziness by the author. However, it serves to demonstrate just how bloodthirsty Death Eaters are, which makes murdering a helpless victim logical to the plot. That she is a Hogwarts professor re-enforces that the school is not as sacrosanct as it once seemed. And who better to kill than the Muggle Studies instructor? However, this scene might have had more emotional impact if readers had been introduced to Professor Burbage when Hermione was taking her class during her third year.
Killing Burbage may also have been a means for Voldemort to test Snape's loyalty by gauging his reaction to it, seeing if he registers any emotion or attempts to intervene in any way, for any reason, to spare Burbage's life. If Snape is loyal to Dumbledore, readers can only imagine what he must be thinking and feeling, not only as he witnesses Burbage, a fellow Hogwarts teacher, being so horribly murdered, but also helplessly listening to her desperate pleas to him for her life. If he is a traitor, then this cruel act shows how evil and vile he truly is.
- Why has Lucius Malfoy lost favor with the Dark Lord? Having lost that favor, why would Voldemort want him returned from Azkaban Prison?
- Even though Voldemort's wand may be ineffective against Harry, it is not so hindered in acting against Professor Burbage. In that case, why would Voldemort use Lucius' wand rather than his own to kill the Muggle Studies instructor?
- Who might be the 'source' that Snape and Voldemort refer to?
- Lucius Malfoy was sentenced to Azkaban Prison at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Yet, he has returned. There was no news of any breakouts at Azkaban during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. How was Malfoy released from prison, and what does that say about the Ministry of Magic?
- Who might the prisoner in the cellar be, and why would Voldemort be holding him there? Why is it Pettigrew who is sent to quiet him?
- Compare and contrast how and why Death Eaters and Order of the Phoenix members show loyalty to their respective causes.
- Why did Voldemort murder Charity Burbage? Was it also for something other than his obvious stated reasons? Also, what might the author be attemptng to show with her murder? Explain.
- Why would the pure-blooded wizard population be declining?
During Voldemort's meeting with his Death Eaters, Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) is dismissed to attend to a prisoner, who is evidently disrupting the proceedings. While it is never confirmed who this prisoner is, it is learned later that Mr. Ollivander, the wand maker, is being held captive in the house.
Snape's information about the Order's set dates to move Harry is accurate, though he apparently lacks the plan's full details. Later, it is discovered that Snape not only knows the complete plan, but it was he who planted the additional details into Mundungus' thoughts so that he could suggest them to Mad Eye Moody. However, we are still unaware of that information, and this chapter seems to reinforce the belief that Snape is loyal to the Dark side.
It is revealed much later, that Snape is, and has been, an extremely talented actor for as long as we have known him. Though Snape rarely shows any emotion, and his relationship with Burbage was likely mostly professional, his ability to suppress any reaction as he witnesses a long-time colleague's brutal murder shows extreme self-control and dedication to his mission.
Chapter 2: In Memoriam
For the first time in six years, Harry is fully emptying his school trunk, deciding what to take on his mission and what to leave behind when he departs the Dursley house for the final time. While unpacking, something cuts his hand. Harry, still four days away from his seventeenth birthday, the age he can perform unrestricted magic, has yet to learn how to heal wounds. He plans to ask Hermione to show him. Hunting carefully through his trunk, he finds a glass shard from the broken two-way mirror his late godfather, Sirius Black, gave him. While heading to the bathroom to tend the cut, Harry stumbles over a tea cup left outside his bedroom door, a booby trap he assumes Dudley planted for him.
Harry reads Dumbledore's obituary in the Daily Prophet. It reveals that Dumbledore's father was sentenced to Azkaban for attacking three Muggle children. Albus quickly overcame his father's notoriety through his brilliant performance at Hogwarts, winning many honors there and corresponding with many learned witches and wizards.
Three years later, Albus' brother, Aberforth, joined him at Hogwarts. The two were unalike, Aberforth being more reserved and likely to settle differences by dueling, where Albus would debate the issues, but they were friends. After finishing school, Albus planned to travel the world with his friend, Elphias Doge, the obituary's author, when his mother, Kendra, died suddenly, leaving Albus the sole provider for the family. While Elphias traveled the world, another tragedy struck the Dumbledores: Albus' younger sister, Ariana, died suddenly. The brothers became estranged after, and Albus never discussed his family. Following this sad chapter, Albus went on to achieve many notable successes, including discovering twelve uses of Dragon's blood and defeating Grindelwald in an epic duel.
Looking at Dumbledore's picture, Harry realizes he barely knew the man; their conversations were mostly about him. Tearing out the obituary, he stuffs it into a book. In that day's Daily Prophet, Harry reads about an upcoming exposé on Dumbledore, excerpted from hack journalist Rita Skeeter biography about him. Harry flips to the interview with Skeeter, who, spinning her usual stylized lies, suggests that Dumbledore dabbled in Dark magic, that his sister, Ariana, was a Squib, that Aberforth broke Albus' nose at Ariana's funeral, claiming Albus killed her, and that the epic duel between Albus and Grindelwald may have been something other than it seemed. She hints that the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore was odd, even inappropriate, and that Harry was seen running from where Dumbledore fell to his death. And even though Harry testified against Snape, the long-standing grudge between them is public knowledge.
Harry is outraged, but there is little he can do. Distractedly turning over the mirror shard, he glimpses a sky-blue flash in it, the same color as Dumbledore's eyes. Studying the mirror closely, he only sees his reflection, and there is nothing blue nearby that could have been reflected in it. Dumbledore's eyes will never gaze upon him again, but all the same, he tucks the shard safely away in a front pocket.
Glimpses into Dumbledore's previously unknown history, which have been kept concealed, are revealed here. Doge's comments and Rita's interview imply that there is some significant, and possibly unsavory, mystery regarding Dumbledore's earlier life, though anything written by Skeeter, known for embellishing or fabricating her articles' facts, should be considered suspect. Regardless, Dumbledore's past appears to be darker and more secretive than most knew. And while Dumbledore's death has left a significant hole in Harry's life, much of that emptiness is now caused by what Harry never knew about his mentor, throwing Harry into emotional turmoil and groping for answers. He is still grief-stricken by the loss and deeply misses his mentor's comforting and protective presence, but he is also left confused, cut adrift, and doubting what Dumbledore's true intentions were; Harry also wonders whether Dumbledore ever loved him or was merely using him as a weapon to defeat Voldemort. These inner conflicts and doubts will plague Harry throughout the book, and could possibly affect his mission. Even allowing for Skeeter's poisoned pen, there are many mysteries about this mysterious wizard that will need significant explanation before Albus Dumbledore can finally be laid to rest.
The blue flash in the broken two-way mirror may also be significant. Is this Dumbledore somehow watching from beyond the grave? Harry apparently hopes so, considering his sudden care with the mirror shard.
- Could some of what the Daily Prophet states about Dumbledore be correct?
- Why would Rita Skeeter write a biography about Dumbledore? How accurate is it likely to be?
- Why did Harry know so little about Dumbledore's past? How much did Harry, or anyone, have the right to know?
- Why would Dumbledore's father have attacked three Muggle children?
- Why does Harry keep the mirror shard? What might the blue flash in it be?
- Who might have left the cup of tea outside Harry's bedroom door? Why would they leave it there?
Rita Skeeter's source for her book was the elderly and senile Bathilda Bagshot, a noted historian and Dumbledore family friend, who was also known by Lily Potter. Rita elsewhere alludes to having slipped Bathilda some Veritaserum to retrieve her memories. However, the only story that Bathilda could share, and thus the only one that Skeeter can report, is an outsider's point-of-view. That, highly coloured by Skeeter's acidic quill and Bathilda's likely addled recollections, will result in an extremely slanted, highly inaccurate, and damaging story.
Harry will labor under these skewed beliefs until Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus' younger brother, truthfully explains why his father attacked the three Muggle youths. Aberforth discloses that the Muggle boys had witnessed Ariana, their younger sister, performing magic, and had demanded that she do more. When she refused, the Muggles physically assaulted her. The resulting injuries left her permanently brain-damaged and unable to control her power. Their father retaliated, finding and attacking the Muggles, though he was later imprisoned. It was due to Ariana's brain damage that Kendra Dumbledore hid her daughter, fostering gossip that she was a Squib. Kendra feared that if Ariana's condition was discovered by the Wizarding community, she would forcibly be institutionalized "for their own safety". Unfortunately, when Ariana suffered an uncontrolled magical outburst, Kendra was accidentally killed. Ariana died in an accident soon after.
Following these tragedies, the young Albus Dumbledore became obsessively driven to pursue the titular Deathly Hallows. Like Harry, he desired to be reunited with his dead loved ones, and he believed that one Hallow possessed that power.
The eye that Harry occasionally glimpses in the broken mirror shard is not Albus Dumbledore's, but his brother Aberforth's. He apparently purchased several artifacts that Mundungus Fletcher looted from Sirius Black's ancestral home, including the twin to the magic two-way mirror Sirius gave Harry.
Readers should pay attention to the cup of tea left outside Harry's bedroom as it may be somewhat significant. It was Dudley who left it there, probably in a rather feeble attempt to make amends for mistreating Harry during their childhood but also to express his gratitude for Harry having saved him from the Dementors two years previous. This small episode plays no part in the overall plot, but the teacup may foreshadow Harry's search for Helga Hufflepuff's Cup, one of Voldemort's Horcruxes that Harry must destroy. The author will use a similar literary tactic when she directs our attention to Auntie Muriel's tiara, later in the book. That particular article, like the teacup, is also relatively insignificant, but it may foreshadow something else.
Chapter 3: The Dursleys Departing
Uncle Vernon has changed his mind again. The Dursleys were informed by Arthur Weasley and Kingsley Shacklebolt that Harry's life will be in danger when he turns seventeen, and that the Dursleys, as his relatives, are likely under the same threat. Since then, Vernon and Petunia have alternately been willing to accept the Order's protection or preparing to refuse it. Today, they are convinced that Harry plans to put their house in his own name as soon as they are gone. Harry repudiates this, asking why he would want to do that. In any event, he already owns a house.
Harry's arguments are bolstered by Order wizards who have arrived to transport and protect the Dursleys: Dedalus Diggle and Hestia Jones. When Dudley says he is going with Dedalus and Hestia, Uncle Vernon's protests are rather deflated, and he suddenly decides that has been his intention all along. Dudley wants to know why Harry is not coming with them; Uncle Vernon says he does not want to, to which Harry agrees. Dudley now admits to not thinking that Harry is a waste of space and goes so far as to thank Harry for saving his life. He shakes hands with him before leaving. Aunt Petunia looks as if she might want to say something, but marches off after Vernon and Dudley.
The last book deviates from the series' usual structure. Apart from brief introductory scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, each novel opened during the summer at the Dursleys' home, amidst some ongoing dispute between Harry and his family. Shortly after, Harry returned to Hogwarts aboard the Hogwarts Express, was reunited with his friends, then engaged in normal school activities while the book's main storyline unfolded. The familiar pattern provided readers a means to chart the characters' development and the story's progression over the years. Deathly Hallows radically departs from that comfortable formula. Following a brief scene at Malfoy Manor, the story still opens at Privet Drive as Harry is about to leave the Dursleys. This, however, is Harry's final exit, nor is he returning to Hogwarts. Instead, he is about to embark on his secret mission for the late Albus Dumbledore. The Dursleys are also leaving, defiantly, and resentful at being under obligation to the magical world they so despise, but also terrified for their lives. The author hints that this parting is permanent. Opening the story in such a different way may underline Harry's maturity and growing independence, and shows that the Dursleys' influence over him is forever severed. It also leaves readers without a predictable game plan as to what will happen.
Dudley's reaction to Harry's leaving is certainly surprising. He is grateful to Harry for having saved him from the Dementors (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and expresses concern over what might happen to Harry. (Harry thinks it was Dudley who left the cup of tea outside his bedroom, an apparently contrite act for Dudley's bad behavior over the years.) Although Dudley is a Muggle and was unable to see the Dementors, he was still somewhat able to detect their presence. Lupin once told Harry that even though Dementors are invisible to Muggles, they could be affected by them. The encounter certainly had an effect on Dudley, and his experience may have been severe enough to be life-changing, giving hope he will mature into a better person than either Vernon or Petunia. The elder Dursleys, however, seem as antagonistic as ever, though Petunia nearly shows a rare emotional glimmer, as if teetering on a precipice to reach out to Harry, and through him to her lost sister, during this final encounter, but at the last moment reels herself in and walks away. Harry's own reaction seems mixed. While he endured an unhappy life at Privet Drive, it was his home for many years and leaving it is still difficult—this is yet another incomplete chapter in his life that must be closed and left behind.
Also, the Dursleys' habitually attaching importance to appearances is seen one final time. Vernon is only able to accept the Order of the Phoenix's instructions because he has seen Order member Kingsley Shacklebolt on television, standing directly behind the Muggle Prime Minister. He also demands Shacklebolt be his protector, trying, apparently, to claim that he is as important as the Prime Minister due to Harry's fame in the Wizarding world. Of course, he worries about what the neighbours will think as he and his family drive off with these two oddly-robed figures. It is, perhaps, interesting that what eventually stops Vernon's perpetual waffling about accepting the Order's protection is Dudley's defiant decision to follow Harry's advice. We have not previously seen Dudley value anything regarding Harry, and clearly neither have the Dursleys, as Vernon seems quite shocked, so much so that he acquiesces with the Order's plans.
- How long could Dudley have felt this way about Harry?
- What might have changed Dudley's feelings towards Harry? Are Harry's feelings toward Dudley ever likely to change?
- Was Dudley entirely responsible for his abusive behavior towards Harry? If not, what may have contributed to it? Under different circumstances, how might Dudley have turned out?
- Could Dudley's friendly gesture open the door to a future relationship between him and Harry? Explain what this relationship might or might not be and why.
- Could Aunt Petunia feel the same way Dudley does? If so, why is she unable to express it?
- Why did Aunt Petunia seem to hesitate before leaving?
This is the last time the Dursley family is seen. Harry does occasionally think about the Dursley family, notably when he hears about Dumbledore's sister being locked into their cellar; the comparison with his own life is inevitable. Outside of Harry's thoughts, however, they do not re-enter the story.
Perhaps interestingly, we also never again see Dedalus Diggle or Hestia Jones. There are points in the story where having two more Order Wizards could have been useful, but it seems they remain off-stage, guarding Harry's relatives.
Clearly, others besides Harry are having conflicting feelings here. Vernon, naturally, perpetually shifts between inclination to follow the Order's instructions, and outright defiance; Harry, as mentioned, is glad he will no longer be tormented in that place, but also seems regretful that his childhood there has ended. Surprisingly, not only is Dudley the only one among the four who seems decided, but he understands the real danger he and his family are in. He also shows actual concern about Harry and expresses his gratitude for Harry having saved him from the Dementors. Petunia's behavior is telling in that it shows she must have once dearly loved her sister, Lily. It might have been Petunia's jealousy and spite over Lily's magical ability, something Petunia may have desperately wanted, that drove them apart. This was probably Petunia's last opportunity to connect to Harry and her dead sister in some meaningful way, but she instead opts to abandon that avenue by saying nothing and walking away; her momentary hesitation does indicate that she is uncertain what direction she is headed.
The author, in interviews following this book's publication, has stated that while Harry and Dudley never would have more than a Christmas-card relationship, they quite likely have at least that much. This seems in character for both; Dudley has come to respect Harry, but knows very little about him, and Harry, while he knows much more about Dudley than Vernon and Petunia do, has little respect for him. They have virtually nothing in common, and no grounds for a relationship any deeper than exchanging holiday cards, along with the annual family "newsletter" updates. However, without Dudley's gesture, there would be no impetus for Harry to do even that much, and it is likely Dudley would have difficulty re-opening communications with Harry, given that Harry will be largely within the Wizarding world after this book ends.
Chapter 4: The Seven Potters
After the Dursleys leave Number 4, Privet Drive, Harry gathers his belongings, including the caged Hedwig, his Firebolt, and his rucksack and waits for Order of the Phoenix members to arrive. Sooner than expected, a rather large group, including Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, appear in the back garden. Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody says that they are flying out on broomsticks, Thestrals, and a flying motorbike; six members will be disguised as Harry Potter with Polyjuice Potion to trick any nearby Death Eaters. Harry immediately refuses, saying no one is to take risks for him; Mad-Eye Moody ignores him. They have few alternatives as Privet Drive is being monitored for any Apparition, Portkeys, or Floo Network use. This monitoring, ostensibly for Harry's safety, is believed by the Order to have been established by Pius Thicknesse solely to monitor Harry's movements. Moody believes that the entire Ministry of Magic is gradually falling under Lord Voldemort's control.
The six Harry decoys include Ron, Hermione, Fred and George Weasley, Fleur Delacour, and Mundungus Fletcher. The real Harry is to go with Hagrid in a sidecar bodged on to Sirius Black's motorbike, to Ted Tonks's house, where they will be transported to The Burrow via a Portkey. The remaining six pairs, one defender and one Harry each, will travel separately to various safe-houses, all finally transferring to The Burrow.
As the Order members clear the garden, Death Eaters attack. Hedwig is struck by a Killing Curse. Hagrid's attempts to dodge four Death Eaters causes the sidecar to break free; Harry stops it falling and is rescued by Hagrid. Harry destroys the falling sidecar to disable a Death Eater. One remaining Death Eater is Stan Shunpike, evidently under the Imperius curse. To avoid killing an innocent person, Harry casts a disarming spell, whereupon the remaining Death Eater yells, "It's the real one!" and falls back.
Near the Tonks' home, as the Death Eaters, including Voldemort, surround them again, Hagrid leaps off the motorbike to tackle a Death Eater. Voldemort, using Lucius Malfoy's wand, casts a lethal curse at Harry, but golden flames spontaneously erupt from Harry's wand, destroying Malfoy's without Harry casting a spell. Before Voldemort can get another wand from a Death Eater, Harry's out-of-control motorbike crashes into a muddy pond.
While the Order is uncertain if the Ministry has been infiltrated, they suspect Death Eaters now have a presence there, and the ever-paranoid Moody believes that the "security measures" the Ministry has put in place are intended to monitor rather than protect Harry. Readers know that Moody is correct: Pius Thicknesse, who now heads the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, has been placed under the Imperius Curse by Yaxley, a Death Eater.
The immediacy with which the Order was attacked indicates that Death Eaters knew the exact date Harry was being moved. It also shows how quickly Voldemort's power is spreading. Though the Ministry of Magic has not yet fallen under Voldemort's control, his Death Eaters are infiltrating it, gradually seizing power through key officials, such as Pius Thicknesse, who is under the Imperius Curse and must do the Dark Lord's bidding. Others surrounding Minister for Magic Scrimgeour will likely fall to Voldemort, either through the Imperius Curse or by other extreme and deadly means, leaving Scrimgeour completely exposed.
Harry also loses yet another tie to his childhood, Hedwig. Her death, while sad, actually serves several purposes:
First, it shows how ruthlessly evil Death Eaters actually are. There is a wide-spread joke in England (the real one, not the Wizarding one) that, if the Germans had wanted to invade England unopposed, they should have sent in paratroopers, each cradling a cute little puppy in his arms; no true Englishman would harm a pet. Death Eaters indiscriminately firing curses that kill pets clearly indicates their inhumanity.
Second, it builds suspense. Hedwig's cage is clutched between Harry's knees in the sidecar; the curse that killed Hedwig missed Harry by mere inches.
Third, it eliminates an encumbrance. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry decided to leave Hogwarts to search for Voldemort's Horcruxes; as he is about to embark on a dangerous adventure, he would either have to put Hedwig in someone else's care, or try to care for her while he is traveling. His Firebolt, unfortunate as its loss may be, was also a burden, although it tied him to his late godfather, Sirius Black, who gave it to him during his third year at Hogwarts.
Finally, it can be argued that Hedwig's death represents an end to Harry's childhood. Harry, having increasingly lost his innocence with Cedric Diggory's, Sirius', and Dumbledore's deaths, is now a fully-grown man in the Wizarding world. Hedwig had provided Harry comfort, familiarity, and security, but when she is brutally killed, another remaining tie to Harry's childhood is lost. He realizes just how fragile those ties are and how heavy and painful adult responsibilities can be.
It is also interesting to note Voldemort's appearance in this chapter. In the previous six books, Voldemort only appeared to Harry four times, each time near the book's end. That he appears to Harry this early shows how much power Voldemort has gained in the Wizarding world, and puts us, and Harry, on notice that there are ever fewer places that he will be safe.
It is also worth observing the author's sense of humour here. We had seen much earlier in the series her sure touch with the cognitive dissonance that results in humour: the dark, foreboding setting, the violent weather, the huge shaggy thing coming in from the storm that promptly starts cooking sausages for himself and Harry. Here, as Harry, with mixed emotions, prepares to leave the residence that had been his nominal home for almost sixteen years, we have the Twins, upon taking Polyjuice Potion and transforming into Harry's likeness, immediately exclaim, in mock surprise, that they look identical. And we have Harry protesting about his own modesty when all the other Harry-clones start stripping down in the kitchen to change clothes.
As this is a children's book, we will avoid analyzing the sexual innuendo that could be developed from Hermione's comment concerning the appearance of the Polyjuice Potion; it is certain, though, that the author recognized that possible misinterpretation, as Hermione's reaction to what she had said is very much true to life. The author did not see fit to comment on the gender-bending effects of Polyjuice Potion, though the mind rather boggles when imagining Harry Potter wearing clothes that Fleur Delacour would have thought appropriate for herself. As a small side point, while there might have been some question whether attempting to change genders would result in the same sort of half-hybrid as the species change seen earlier, we should recall that Crabbe and Goyle had stood watch for Draco while disguised as little girls in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, without obvious physical effects.
- How were the Death Eaters able to distinguish the real Harry Potter from the decoys?
- Why do Voldemort and the Death Eaters suddenly vanish?
- Why did Harry use such a mild curse on Stan Shunpike, who probably would have killed him?
- When Harry was to be moved to a safer location, Mundungus seemed apprehensive about the plan and in participating in it. What are some possible reasons for his reaction?
- How could Harry's wand destroy Voldemort's borrowed wand without Harry casting a spell with it?
- Harry's departure from the Dursleys was a closely guarded secret. How could the Death Eaters have found out?
- Voldemort has generally remained hidden from the Wizarding population. Why does he now openly show himself during the pursuit?
- Was using the Potter decoys the best plan for moving Harry from Privet Drive? Discuss other ways the Order could secretly have taken Harry from there.
Hedwig's death may foreshadow what happens later in the book. It has been suggested that having Harry lose his beloved pet and best friend in this manner is one way the author further hardens Harry's heart so he is able to continue his fight against Voldemort, though witnessing Sirius', Dumbledore's, and Cedric Diggory's deaths within such a short period has certainly also toughened him.
An interesting parallel between Harry's escape and Voldemort's survival should also be mentioned here. Just as Voldemort split his soul into seven pieces to preserve his own life, so has Harry been replicated into seven simulacra in the attempt to protect him from Voldemort. The differing methods in how they achieve this once again highlights the difference between Harry and Voldemort. Harry's friends readily assume his likeness out of love and loyalty, while Voldemort splinters Horcruxes off his soul by ruthlessly murdering innocent people. Interestingly, while Voldemort believed the number seven had magical importance tied to it, this probably was not a calculated factor in the Order's plan.
Harry's wand casting a spell of its own volition is never fully explained. Dumbledore, later in the story in the Waystation, says that during the duel in the cemetery, Harry's wand and Voldemort's had recognized each other as having a common source (the phoenix Fawkes' tail feathers) for their cores, and recognized Harry and Voldemort as kin by their blood (and possibly also the soul shard). Harry was the stronger wizard at that encounter, as he was prepared to die while Voldemort feared death. Dumbledore surmises this caused Harry's wand to imbibe power from Voldemort's, and against Voldemort's own power, plus Harry's courage, "what chance did that poor stick of Lucius Malfoy's stand?" While this is arguably no explanation for the wand acting on its own, it is the only explanation ever given in the series. We can speculate that wands have some limited sentience, as it has been stated many times that "the wand chooses the wizard;" we see this again in how well or poorly a wand works, depending on the manner it was transferred from one wizard to another. It is possible that the wand, in its own limited way knowing that Harry's "kin" and enemy Voldemort is attacking, had independently acted to remove the opposing wand. All we are actually told is that Harry and Voldemort have entered an area of magic and wandlore where none have ventured before.
One possibility is that it was not Harry who cast that spell, but rather that portion within him that was Voldemort. The part, which Voldemort knows nothing about, could be protecting itself. Against that, however, we must point out that rather than Harry acting without intent, it seems to be the wand acting without Harry's input. Quoting: "his wand acted of its own accord. He felt it drag his hand around like some great magnet..." (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, UK / Canadian edition p. 56) One supposes that if the author had intended to indicate that it was Voldemort's soul fragment doing this, Harry would have felt his hand moving of its own volition, rather than feeling the wand pull his hand around. However, there is insufficient evidence to be certain of her intent.
Chapter 5: Fallen Warrior
After Harry and Hagrid land heavily at Ted Tonks's residence, Harry is treated for his injuries. Ted Tonks tells Harry that Voldemort was unable to kill Harry because the Order placed protective charms around the Tonks' house, causing Voldemort and the Death Eaters to "disappear" as Harry neared it. Hagrid, who was last seen sprawled on the ground unconscious, appears at the door, reassuring Harry. Ted Tonks' wife, Andromeda, who follows him to the door, looks so much like her sister, Bellatrix Lestrange, that Harry briefly hunts for his wand in self-defence.
The hairbrush Portkey in Tonks' bedroom transports Harry and Hagrid to The Burrow where Order members are to meet. Only Mrs. Weasley and Ginny are there when Harry arrives. Hearing what happened, Mrs. Weasley is distraught—two other groups, Tonks with Ron, and Arthur Weasley with Fred, were scheduled to arrive earlier than Harry.
Remus Lupin arrives next with George, whose ear has been severed by Snape's Dark curse that has left an irreparable wound. Believing an Order member betrayed them, Lupin tests Harry's identity, asking, "What creature sat in the corner the first time that Harry Potter visited my office at Hogwarts?" Harry correctly answers that it was a Grindylow, assuring Lupin he is the genuine Harry Potter. Lupin believes that Harry casting Expelliarmus probably identified him to the Death Eaters; it has become recognized as Harry's predictable signature spell, as he had used it successfully against Voldemort two years before. Lupin firmly insists that Harry use stronger defensive spells.
When Kingsley Shacklebolt and Hermione arrive, Lupin also verifies Shacklebolt's identity. Mr. Weasley and Fred arrive next, followed by Tonks and Ron on their broomsticks. They were delayed after encountering Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband, Rodolphus, who they seriously injured.
Shacklebolt departs, saying he is overdue at Downing Street. Bill Weasley and his fiancée, Fleur Delacour, arrive, but they are the last pair. Missing are "Mad Eye" Moody, who was killed by Voldemort as Moody's companion, Mundungus Fletcher, fled the scene. Mundungus is the suspected traitor, but that is quickly discounted, as Voldemort knew nothing about the Harry Potter decoys, which was Mundungus' suggestion.
Harry suddenly announces that he is endangering the others and must leave. Everyone immediately objects, insisting Voldemort cannot possibly know his location. Beleaguered, Harry wanders into the garden. Pain suddenly erupts in his scar, and he sees Voldemort torturing Mr. Ollivander, the wand-maker. Voldemort demands to know why Lucius Malfoy's wand failed against Harry and how Harry's wand could have destroyed it. Ron and Hermione arrive and also entreat Harry to stay. Harry shares his vision, though Hermione urges him to close his mind from Voldemort.
While this chapter stresses action and plot more than character, Mad Eye's death is not only a great loss to the Order of the Phoenix, but it has a profound effect on Harry, who resists having others risk their lives to protect him. Harry, however, is still unable to fully comprehend that Voldemort threatens the entire Wizarding community, not only him, or that the Dark Lord cannot be defeated by one person alone. Voldemort now appears to have the greater advantage, and his power is growing. The Death Eaters knew exactly when and where Harry would be moved; the Order barely survived the attack, and at a great cost. It seems the Order's tight security has been breached: despite meticulous preparation, the secret plan to move Harry to a safe house was leaked, indicating a spy may be within the Order of the Phoenix. If that is true, it would seem to be someone with close ties to Snape, as he provided Voldemort with the information about the Order's plan. Order member Mundungus Fletcher, a rather disreputable character, was initially suspected, though his loyalty has never been doubted until now. However, this idea is quickly discounted because Voldemort and the Death Eaters knew nothing about the Harry decoys, which Mundungus suggested. Who, then, tipped off Snape, and through him, Voldemort?
Lupin scolds Harry for reacting too mildly and predictably during the attack, character traits his enemies previously exploited and that tragically contributed to Sirius Black's death at the Ministry of Magic. Because Harry cast Expelliarmus, a simple disarming spell, rather than a stronger defensive one, during the graveyard duel, Death Eaters have identified it as his signature move. Thus, when Harry used it against Stan Shunpike during the pursuit, the pursuing Death Eaters immediately recognized him and summoned Voldemort. Harry's argument that he was protecting Shunpike, who he believed was only acting under the Imperius Curse, does little to sway Lupin's opinion, and it may indicate that Harry is still too young and inexperienced to be a full-fledged Order of the Phoenix member. It is also uncertain if Harry is willing or able to change, having always found comfort and strength in familiarity. However, if Voldemort is to be defeated, it would seem that Harry must find new strategies.
Harry also shows how alone and apart he feels by wanting to leave the safe house in a misguided effort to protect others, though his departure would do little to save anyone or alter the war's overall course. While it is not stressed in this chapter, it is perhaps a key point: Harry still seems convinced that Dumbledore's mission is his alone, despite Dumbledore earlier encouraging him to confer with Ron and Hermione, and also others, throughout the previous six years. This is a natural reaction to Moody's death and George's injury; Harry felt initially, and still feels, that he never earned his fame, and likewise believes he hardly merits the efforts made in his protection, especially as those efforts are now clearly endangering his friends and allies. Harry has yet to realize that his presence does not significantly increase the danger to those he cares about; Voldemort will kill all opposing him, and the Order would be battling Voldemort even without Harry's presence. Harry, however, is the "chosen one", and he has become a guiding light that helps unite and sustain hope to those fighting the Dark Lord.
- Snape was able to heal Draco Malfoy's cuts from the Sectumsempra spell in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Why are Mr. and Mrs. Weasley unable to regrow George's ear that was severed by the same spell?
- Why does Harry want to leave The Burrow? Is that a wise decision? What stops him?
- Why does Harry always act so predictably? What does Lupin tell him?
- Did a traitor within the Order of the Phoenix tip off Snape and Voldemort about Harry leaving the Dursleys? If so, who might that be?
- If there is not a traitor within the Order, how could Voldemort have uncovered the secret plan?
- Why would Voldemort be holding Mr. Ollivander prisoner?
Harry's choosing to see Voldemort's thoughts dismays Hermione, as well she should be; it was through that channel that Voldemort implanted the false vision leading to Sirius' death in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, Voldemort found Harry's mind an extremely uncomfortable place to occupy; Harry's love for Sirius and others drove him out. Dumbledore believed Voldemort closed that avenue in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because he was unable to cope with Harry's memories and emotions. Harry believes if he remains aware that false images can be implanted, Voldemort will be unable to deceive him again, though Hermione and Ron are skeptical. Unknown to Voldemort, Harry will occasionally glimpse the Dark Lord's thoughts, eventually at will, throughout the book, and these images will prove invaluable.
Mad Eye Moody is presumably killed in the attack by Death Eaters, though Order of the Phoenix members never locate his body. Harry will later recover Moody's magical eye from Dolores Umbridge's office in the Ministry of Magic, but it is unknown if the Death Eaters actually found his corpse. This leaves open the faint possibility that Mad Eye may have survived the attack, leaving the eye where it could be found, and is now in hiding. Even Ron believes he may still be alive and has hidden himself somewhere, though Harry and Hermione are doubtful. Considering how paranoid Moody had become, it would hardly be surprising that he would conceal himself, even from friends and allies, and probably for long after the war ended. Moody could, therefore, reappear in a future Harry Potter sequel (if Rowling should write one). Mad Eye makes one final appearance in this novel, however; when Harry, Hermione, and Ron take refuge at Grimmauld Place, Moody's voice "greets" them as they enter—it is one of the jinxes that guards the former Order of the Phoenix headquarters from intruders. Dumbledore's moldering image, another jinx, will also appear at Grimmauld Place. Rowling may be dropping subtle clues that the last has not been heard or seen from Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody or Albus Dumbledore.
George's severed ear may actually foreshadow a more tragic event involving the Weasley family later in the book
Chapter 6: The Ghoul in Pyjamas
In the days following Mad-Eye Moody's death, the Order deduces that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are preparing for Dumbledore's secret mission. Mr. Weasley and Lupin respect that the Trio are unable to discuss it. Mrs. Weasley, unable to persuade the three to return to Hogwarts or reveal any information, constantly assigns them chores, nominally to help with the wedding preparations, but actually intended to keep them separated and hamper their preparing for the mission. When Ginny says her mother is probably trying to delay their departure, Harry wonders aloud if Mrs. Weasley is hoping that someone else will bump off Voldemort. Ginny, pale-faced, asks if that is their mission, causing Harry to feebly claim he was only joking.
The Order has been forced to abandon Grimmauld Place as their Headquarters, and many members now have their meals at the Burrow; with Dumbledore's death, everyone privy to Grimmauld's hidden location and function has become a secret-keeper, able to reveal that the Black family home is their Headquarters. This includes Severus Snape, now deeply entrenched within the Death Eaters' council. Moody left some protective charms against Snape at Grimmauld's entrance, but it is uncertain how effective they might be.
Mad-Eye's body remains missing, while nothing has been reported in the media about the fusillade of magic used during the escape. The Ministry of Magic is apparently keeping people uninformed about Death Eaters growing more powerful, or that there was another mass Azkaban breakout.
During a short break from their chores, Hermione sorts which books to take on the mission while Harry again encourages her and Ron to remain behind. Both refuse, insisting they could have backed out six years earlier, and have had ample time to reconsider. Hermione has already modified her parents' memories and hidden them in Australia, and Ron shows Harry the family Ghoul in the attic that has been magically altered to resemble Ron with spattergroit. Anyone investigating Ron's absence from Hogwarts will likely avoid getting too close to anyone with such a contagious and fatal disease. The Trio still lacks a plan, but Harry first wants to visit Godric's Hollow. Hermione vetoes this idea, warning it is likely under surveillance. They should instead hunt for the real Locket Horcrux stolen by the mysterious R. A. B.
Hermione has Summoned Dark Magic books from Dumbledore's study. One, Secrets of the Darkest Art, gives full instructions on making Horcruxes; Harry believes Tom Riddle read it, and says Dumbledore was certain he already knew how to create a Horcrux before asking Professor Slughorn about making multiple ones. Hermione explains that Horcruxes are extremely powerful, and only extraordinary magical means can kill them, such as the Basilisk fang that destroyed Riddle's Diary – Basilisk venom is among the few things that can destroy a Horcrux. It is also unlikely that Voldemort can reunite his shredded soul on his own; that requires having deep remorse, something Voldemort is unlikely to feel, and it causes excruciating pain. Wondering how Dumbledore destroyed the Ring Horcrux, Harry rues how little time there was to ask Dumbledore questions. Mrs. Weasley suddenly bursts in and assigns Harry, Hermione, and Ron separate chores.
Mr. and Mrs. Delacour arrive the next day. Mr. Delacour is charming, Mrs. Delacour is a domestic genius. Everything falls into place around them, everything is wonderful, everything is lovely. As Harry's birthday approaches, Mrs. Weasley asks what he would like. Concerned that the wedding preparations are already complicated by hiding his presence, Harry tells Mrs. Weasley there is little that he needs, and does not want a big fuss.
Harry's last-ditch effort to persuade Ron and Hermione to remain behind shows concern for their safety as well as a serious character flaw: his constant need to face adversity alone. In fact, much of Harry's strength and success results from his friends' support, abilities, and loyalty, though he never fully recognizes this; his mission to hunt and destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes will likely fail without their continued help. Harry's isolation during early childhood has limited his perspective somewhat, causing him to approach many difficulties by himself. Unwanted fame, peer resentment, and exploitation by adults have also adversely affected him.
Although Harry is a pivotal element in the fight against Voldemort, he has yet to fully realize that many other Wizarding families have suffered severely, and will continue to suffer, under the Dark Lord's reign of terror—this is not Harry's battle alone, and Ron and Hermione steadfastly refuse to abandon him. Hermione appears to be considering everything they will need for Harry's expected mission, and she and Ron have already acted to protect their respective families: Hermione has modified her parents' memories so that they believe they had no children and have always wanted to move to Australia, while Ron has given the ghoul in the attic his old pajamas, and magically made him up to look more or less like himself with Spattergroit. The plan is to put the ghoul into Ron's bed if Ron has to escape; as Spattergroit is very contagious, and apparently incurable, Ron and his father believe any raiding Death Eaters won't look too closely.
Mrs. Weasley's character also comes into closer focus here as she fails miserably to prevent the Trio from embarking on their mission. As seen in Order of the Phoenix, her Boggart is revolving images of her loved ones' corpses. Despite all her efforts, she likely knows nothing will deter the Trio's departure, and is frustrated she no longer has any real parental control over Ron, though that hardly stops her attempts. However, these maternal concerns are not only for Ron, Harry, and Hermione, but her entire family. Having already lost siblings to Voldemort, she knows that her husband and children will be in mortal peril if Voldemort discovers Ron is helping Harry. Mrs. Weasley's love for her family far outweighs any loyalty to the Order of the Phoenix, and, like most mothers, she has difficulty accepting what her son must do, and likely believes that Dumbledore's task is a far too difficult and dangerous burden for such young, inexperienced wizards. Her actions reflect her personal feelings, which are apparently shared by most of the other adults. They, however, seem to realize that attempts to stop Harry or the other two is futile, nor is there anything they can do; Mr. Weasley in particular has, perhaps resignedly, assisted Ron in preparing for the mission.
Hermione's claims that it was easy to Summon the Dark Arts books from Dumbledore's study, almost as if she was intended to retrieve them, is probably more accurate than she realizes. Dumbledore may have left these particular books unsecured so she could obtain them. Until now, with one exception, the Summoning charm has proven unblockable; one would think that if Dolores Umbridge, for instance, had wanted to secure Fred and George's confiscated brooms, she would have taken stronger measures to protect them from the Summoning charm than simple chains and bolts. She may actually have done so, but underestimated the Twins' ingenuity and talent in developing new magic to overcome common spells, or she may simply have had an exaggerated confidence in her own (apparently average) magical skills. On the other hand, Harry found that the Summoning charm was blocked when he attempted to summon the (fake) Horcrux inside the sea cave in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Voldemort's Dark Magic probably created a physical barrier to the spell, possibly via one of the inferi. We do not really know yet whether the Summoning charm can be blocked without some physical intervention; however, Hermione evidently thinks it can be.
While Harry says Dumbledore was certain Riddle already knew how to make a Horcrux before speaking with Slughorn, that text does not appear in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. However, later interviews with the author tend to confirm Harry's statement. Following this book's publication, the author stated that the first Horcrux was created with Tom Riddle Sr.'s death. This Horcrux was locked into the Peverell Ring, seen on Riddle's hand when he discusses making multiple Horcruxes with Professor Slughorn. As the Riddles died on the same night that Voldemort stole the Peverell Ring from his uncle, Morfin, the Ring must already have been a Horcrux when that conversation occurred. We must assume that, as events raced onwards, the author simply forgot to have Dumbledore mention this fact in our hearing.
- What does the Trio keep secret from Order of the Phoenix members? Why?
- How can Horcruxes be destroyed? Who learns how to do this?
- What did Hermione summon from Dumbledore's office? Why was it so easy for her to obtain them? Why would she need them?
- Why does Mrs. Weasley continually assign the Trio separate chores? Does she really believe this will have any affect?
- Why does Harry want Ron and Hermione to remain behind? Is he right? If not, why? What is their response?
- Why does Harry want to visit Godric's Hollow? Why is Hermione against it? Explain who is right.
- If Dumbledore was correct that Tom Riddle already knew how to make a Horcrux, why did Riddle seek Professor Slughorn's advice about how to create them?
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when the Trio visit Mr. Weasley at St. Mungo's, a portrait on the wall diagnoses Ron with Spattergroit; the Wizard in that portrait was suggesting cures that seemed worse than the disease. Ron denies that he is suffering from Spattergroit, saying it is just freckles. This may partially have inspired the Ghoul's disguise. Over the next few chapters, more is learned about Spattergroit, an incurable magical fungus infestation. Starting with pustules on the skin, it proceeds to spread through the throat; once it reaches the uvula, the victim is unable to talk. It is extremely contagious, and eventually fatal.
There are several incidents throughout the story where someone casts the Summoning charm unsuccessfully. In some cases, the summoned item was either not present or the person casting the charm lacked a proper wand; however, in some instances, such as with Ravenclaw's Diadem, Gryffindor's Sword, and Harry's Invisibility Cloak, the object was present but simply failed to respond. However, unlike ordinary, everyday objects, these are powerful magical artifacts that may be impervious to Summoning charms. When Hermione fails to Summon the Locket Horcrux while at Grimmauld Place a little later, she suggests it is possible that it is magically prevented from responding, a fact that reminds Harry of how the fake Locket Horcrux in the sea cave was similarly protected. However, in Hermione's case, the Locket was simply no longer in the house when she attempts this, so it is unknown if it would have responded, though probably not. If it is that common to protect objects from a Summoning charm, it might be surmised that when Hermione so easily retrieved the Dark Arts books from the Headmaster's office, it may be that Dumbledore intended for her to have them.
According to Hermione, only a powerful magical object like the Basilisk fang that Harry used to stab Tom Riddle's Diary can destroy a Horcrux. While the Trio will desperately search for another equally powerful, but as yet unknown, object that can also do the job, considering that they are intensely discussing this among themselves, it seems rather odd that no one, particularly Hermione, thinks to bring Basilisk fangs on their mission. There is still ample time and opportunity to retrieve these from the Chamber of Secrets beneath Hogwarts castle. Although Hogwarts will fall under Voldemort's control later in the book, it is currently headed by Professor McGonagall, the acting Headmistress, and therefore still possible for the Trio to secretly enter, though Death Eaters are likely watching it and for Harry. And while a return to Hogwarts may be somewhat risky, it is certainly far less dangerous and complicated than when, several chapters ahead, the Trio invades the Ministry of Magic, and, later, their breaking into Gringotts Bank, to retrieve Horcruxes. When the Trio does return to Hogwarts near the book's conclusion, it is Ron who remembers the Basilisk fangs and fetches some from the Chamber to destroy a Horcrux.
Chapter 7: The Will of Albus Dumbledore
Harry is awakened by Ron Weasley after Harry witnessed, as if dreaming, Voldemort's search for Gregorovitch, an unknown but slightly familiar name. Today is Harry's seventeenth birthday, the legal age to perform unmonitored magic. Excitedly, he successfully casts some spells to test whether the Ministry's "Trace" still monitors him. At breakfast, he receives many presents from friends and mentors. The Weasleys give him a gold watch, a wizard's traditional seventeenth birthday gift. Mrs. Weasley explains that it belonged to her late brother, Fabian Prewett. Harry gives her a grateful and understanding hug. Later, Ginny Weasley ushers Harry into her bedroom. Rather than a present, she wants to give Harry something to remember her by, in case he meets someone else, though Harry says dating opportunities will be slim; she kisses him and he begins kissing her back, but they are abruptly interrupted by Ron. He and Ron leave the room as Ginny turns away, apparently crying. Upset, Ron warns Harry not to give Ginny any false hope about renewing their romance. Harry, realizing Ginny's future is unencumbered whereas his is blocked by Voldemort, promises it will never happen again.
At the birthday party, newlyweds Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks congratulate Harry, though Lupin appears rather sad while Tonks looks radiantly happy. Halfway through the festivities, Arthur Weasley's Patronus arrives announcing that Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour is accompanying him to the Burrow. Lupin and Tonks leave abruptly upon hearing this, puzzling many.
Scrimgeour arrives and speaks privately to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Albus Dumbledore's will bequeaths them several items. Hermione wryly comments that the Ministry probably took the maximum time allowed to thoroughly examine Dumbledore's estate so they could test objects for any Dark Magic. Ron receives a Deluminator, a magical device that captures and releases light. Queried by Scrimgeour as to why Dumbledore would leave him such a rare instrument, Ron responds he never thought Dumbledore was particularly fond of him; Hermione, to counter Scrimgeour's suspicions, disputes this, claiming Ron is being too modest. She receives a book, The Tales of Beedle The Bard, which seems to be an early edition written in runes. She is unable to answer why Dumbledore left her this. Harry inherits the Quidditch Snitch he caught during his first-ever Quidditch match at Hogwarts. Hermione mentions the Snitch's "flesh memory"; it remembers the first player that touches it during a game, a property used to resolve any disputes. Nothing happens when Harry touches it, to Scrimgeour's apparent disappointment: possibly expecting it to reveal something hidden inside. There is a second bequest for Harry: the sword of Godric Gryffindor. However, Scrimgeour claims the sword is a "vital historical artifact," and the Ministry is unwilling to relinquish it to Harry. A heated argument erupts between Harry and Scrimgeour, alarming Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Scrimgeour, offended, abruptly leaves.
Later that evening, Harry remembers catching the Snitch in his mouth. Pressing it to his lips, a cryptic inscription in Dumbledore's handwriting appears on it: "I open at the close." None can decipher its meaning. Neither Harry nor Hermione know that The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a famous Wizarding nursery book. Raised by Muggles, they have never heard of "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump." Unable to determine what their bequests mean, the Trio heads off to bed.
While Voldemort's dark cloud increasingly threatens the Wizarding world, Harry's birthday party offers a happy, if momentary, respite, as well as some insight into several characters. Lupin and Tonks' differing emotional expressions at the gathering seems a bit odd and could be interpreted several ways, but Tonks' radiant happiness suggests she may be pregnant. That this comes at a very difficult and dangerous time is likely deeply distressing to Lupin, who already had troubling doubts about his suitability as a husband. He may be harboring similar fears regarding fatherhood and is worried that he and Tonks will not survive the war, leaving their only child an orphan.
The Weasleys' birthday gift to Harry is far more than a traditional token commemorating a wizard's entry into adulthood. Giving Harry her deceased brother's watch shows that Mrs. Weasley loves Harry like a son; Harry understands its significance and is deeply grateful, and he considers the Weasleys as his family. It weighs on Harry that Ron's being on the mission is putting the entire Weasley family at greater risk from Voldemort, should he find out that Ron is helping Harry. Ginny, meanwhile, is still in love with Harry, but she has nearly abandoned hope that they will ever be together. Ron's concern for his sister's emotional well-being indicates an emerging maturity and shows that he is thinking about others, not just himself, though he still has some ways to go before fully reaching adulthood. Ron is also learning about romantic relationships, having read a book the Twins gave him on girls and dating. He has been applying its advice to Hermione, who seems to respond favorably. Ron, who had repeatedly remarked that he needed lessons about girls, is impressed enough with the results that he gives Harry a copy for his birthday, though he asks Harry to avoid showing it to Hermione.
That Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour would personally deliver Dumbledore's bequests to Harry, Ron, and Hermione at The Burrow is not just unusual, but highly suspicious. Other than the Sword of Gryffindor, these are fairly innocuous objects, but having once belonged to an extraordinary wizard makes them exceptional, at least to the Ministry of Magic. Clearly, the Ministry suspects there is some ulterior motive as to why Dumbledore left the Trio these particular items, which is why it took the Ministry so long to examine Dumbledore's estate. The Ministry's suspicions are probably correct, but there is no way for us or the Ministry to know yet what those motives might be. It is doubtful that the Sword of Gryffindor belonged to Dumbledore, but he obviously wanted to bring it to Harry's attention, though for what purpose is yet unknown. He may be hinting that the Sword must somehow come into Harry's possession. It seems odd that Dumbledore bequeathed Harry so little considering their close relationship; it is unknown just what his entire estate entailed or what, if anything, was left to Albus' brother, Aberforth. The Ministry is also suspicious as to why Dumbledore would leave Ron and Hermione anything, suspecting his connection to either was minimal. However, Dumbledore obviously left the Trio these specific objects for a reason, and additional bequests to Harry would have overridden those items' particular significance.
The Trio realizes that Dumbledore is communicating to them posthumously, but they are are unable to decipher his enigmatic message. By speaking to Harry from beyond the grave this way, Dumbledore shows that death is not always a finite ending. Those who have died can continue to affect the living in many ways—through memories, possessions they owned, their personal legacy, and so on. However, in the Wizarding world, the dead often play a more substantial, cognitive, and interactive role, as we have seen not only by the Hogwarts' Ghosts, but in other ways, such as through the living portraits, spirit echoes, vivid memories in a Pensieve or a diary, etc. It is understandable why Harry continually hopes magic can reunite him with his dead parents. Dumbledore has obviously left a cryptic trail for Harry to follow, though Harry has no idea where that trail begins or where it will eventually lead.
The Golden Snitch from Harry's first Quidditch game having been caught in an unusual way seems to play a significant part in this chapter, seven books later. One must wonder whether the plot arc for the series was developed with this level of detail before pen was ever set on paper, or whether the Snitch's availability and its unconventional means of initial contact with Harry was fortuitous.
Harry testing to see if the Ministry of Magic's Trace for underage magic has expired may be inconclusive. The Trace does automatically disappear when a witch or wizard comes of age, but the Ministry is unable to detect underage magic in a Wizarding household where the adults are constantly casting spells. In wizard homes, it is the parents' responsibility to monitor their children for improper use. Although the Trace on Harry does disappear on schedule, if Voldemort's followers within the Ministry had somehow kept it active, Harry would likely be unaware, and it could have revealed the Trio's location once they left the Burrow and began their mission. There may, however, be something else that can reveal their presence to Voldemort.
It is perhaps useful to note that the author had perhaps deliberately written herself into something of a corner here. She never intended to write anything else in the Potter universe, and so appears to have simply pulled the names of the Tales of Beedle the Bard out of thin air. Whether it was her purpose to make the Tales difficult to write or not will never be known, but she has stated that when she did choose to write the Tales as a separate book, she found it nearly impossible to create a story to fit the title, "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump."
- Why is Ron upset that Harry kisses Ginny?
- Other than marking Harry's seventeenth birthday with a traditional gift, why would Mrs. Weasley give Harry her late brother's watch? What is Harry's reaction and why?
- Why would Lupin and Tonks abruptly leave the party before Scrimgeour arrives?
- Why did the Ministry wait so long to reveal Dumbledore's will?
- What might be the significance of each bequest that Dumbledore left the Trio?
- Considering Dumbledore's affection for Harry, why wouldn't he leave him more in his will?
- Why would Dumbledore leave Gryffindor's Sword to Harry, an object that probably never belonged to him?
- Why does the Ministry withhold Gryffindor's Sword from Harry? Is it really because it did not belong to Dumbledore as they claim, or is there another reason?
- Ron, who has always been slower to develop emotionally than Harry or Hermione, shows signs that he is maturing into adulthood. Give examples of this.
- Why would Lupin appear sad while Tonks looks happy?
- What might the inscription, "I open at the close," that is engraved on the Snitch actually mean?
- Why would Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour personally deliver Dumbledore's bequests to the Trio?
We will note here that the Gregorovitch that Voldemort is searching for has previously appeared in the series. Who he is, and why Voldemort is looking for him, will not be entirely cleared up until late in this volume; we note him here, though, as this is the first mention of him in this book, and he does have a role to play.
Each object Dumbledore left the Trio proves vital to their mission to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. The Deluminator that Ron received was called a "put-outer" in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Initially, its only purpose seems to be to extinguish and later re-illuminate lights. However, it is later revealed that it also detects other peoples' conversations about its owner and guides the holder to their location. After Ron deserts Harry and Hermione later in the book, the Deluminator will lead him back to them.
Hermione's bequest is a well-known book of wizard fairy tales containing a story about the Deathly Hallows, which are three powerful magical objects; someone, probably Dumbledore, marked the fable, "The Tale of the Three Brothers," with the Deathly Hallows' symbol. One Hallow will prove vital to combating Voldemort, who is seeking it.
Unknown to Harry just yet, another Hallow is hidden within the Snitch. Its inscription's meaning, "I open at the close," is revealed near the book's conclusion when Harry realizes that 'the close' means death.
Although it is never known if Dumbledore ever actually owned Gryffindor's Sword, his bequeathing it to Harry in his will is a vital clue that the Trio will need the sword to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. We already know that Basilisk venom will destroy a Horcrux; as the only known source is in the Chamber of Secrets deep under Hogwarts, it is not immediately certain how useful that information will be. We later discover that Gryffindor's Sword was used to destroy a Horcrux, and perhaps Dumbledore intends that the Sword be available to Harry to destroy the other Horcruxes. In fact, two of the remaining four Horcruxes will be destroyed with it.
A note on Tonks and Lupin is in order here, as some readers have voiced concern over their distinct appearances – Tonks happy, and Lupin glum. We learn later that their son, Teddy, was likely born in late March or early April (Draco was home from Hogwarts when Harry was captured by the Snatchers, so it must have been Easter break; Lupin's appearing at Shell Cottage was soon after that). So Tonks would have "caught" nine months previous, in June or July. Not having an exact date for Teddy's birth, we equally lack a precise date for conception. But based on this, we know that Tonks would only have just become pregnant, and possibly was not quite certain yet if she was when we see her at the party, though, judging by her happiness, she must at least have suspected she might be, and Lupin confirms it to the Trio a few days later.
Lupin, though somewhat railroaded into the marriage, was never forced. In addition to believing he is unworthy and too old to be Tonks' husband and have children with her, he simply feels that it is irresponsible to bring a child, especially a Werewolf's child, into the world when it is such an insecure future. One gathers he is uncertain if his son will be Lycanthrope; likely no Werewolf has ever married and had children with a human before, and it is unknown if the child will inherit his father's condition. It is his uncertainty about the child's future that is eating at him. He may or may not know that Tonks is pregnant before she tells him; when she is, her scent will change, and if he had transformed since she caught, he will likely know it, perhaps even before she does.
One thing is certain, though: reluctant as Lupin is, he would not have gotten Tonks pregnant until they were married. Lupin is emotionally the most mature of the Marauders, and will have behaved himself. But it is that same maturity and responsibility that makes him unsure whether or not he has done the right thing by surrendering to Tonks' importuning and produced a child.
Chapter 8: The Wedding
Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's long-awaited wedding takes place at The Burrow. Polyjuice Potion disguises Harry as the Weasleys' "Cousin Barny". Many guests arrive, including Luna Lovegood (who annoyingly sees through Harry's Polyjuice Potion disguise) and her father, Xenophilius, a few part-Veela cousins of the Delacours, the Weasleys' Auntie Muriel, and most famously, Viktor Krum. Viktor, of course, is delighted to see Hermione, which annoys Ron. Hermione, flustered, drops her little beaded handbag, which falls with a suspiciously heavy "clunk".
During the reception, Viktor asks the disguised Harry who Xenophilius is, because if he was not Fleur's guest, he would duel him immediately for wearing "that filthy symbol on his chest". Krum says the medallion, which has a circle with a slash within a triangle on it, represents Grindelwald, a Dark Wizard who terrorized Europe, killing many, including Krum's grandfather. Grindelwald was finally defeated many years before by Albus Dumbledore. Many Durmstrang students once copied the sign, but Viktor despises it. Harry remembers that during the Triwizard Wand Weighing Ceremony in his fourth year, Mr. Ollivander recognized Krum's wand as a "Gregorovitch creation". That is who Voldemort was seeking in Harry's dream. Harry concludes that Voldemort may be seeking a more powerful wand than Harry's, and Gregorovitch might be a more skillful wandmaker than Ollivander.
Harry leaves Viktor after the latter makes admiring comments about Ginny Weasley, inciting Harry's jealousy. He then meets and reveals his identity to Elphias Doge, who wrote about Albus Dumbledore's life in the Daily Prophet obituary. When Harry asks about Rita Skeeter's biography of Dumbledore, and if Dumbledore was involved in the Dark Arts, Elphias becomes furious, denying Skeeter's account. He is further enraged when Auntie Muriel interrupts, saying she supports Skeeter's claims and feels that Doge's obituary glossed over Dumbledore's murky past. Muriel's allegations are shocking: she claims that Albus' ailing sister Ariana was a Squib, a disgrace that their mother, Kendra, kept hidden by keeping Ariana locked in the cellar. Muriel speculates that Ariana murdered Kendra in an unsuccessful escape attempt, all while Albus was at Hogwarts achieving fame and gaining accolades. After Kendra's mysterious death, Albus was forced to head the family, but had done a darned poor job of it; shortly after, Ariana also died, possibly, Muriel implies, murdered by Albus. Muriel also claims that, according to her friend, Bathilda Bagshot, who knew the Dumbledores well, Aberforth blamed Albus for Ariana's death and punched him during the funeral, breaking Albus' nose. Auntie Muriel denies that Ariana was ever sickly; she says her cousin was a Healer at St. Mungo's at the time, and Kendra never brought Ariana there. However, what most surprises Harry is that the Dumbledores lived in Godric's Hollow, Harry's former home, and where his parents are buried.
Suddenly, Kingsley Shacklebolt's Patronus arrives announcing that Rufus Scrimgeour is dead and Voldemort has seized control of the Ministry. He warns, "They are coming" - Death Eaters are hunting the wedding guests, particularly Harry.
Dumbledore's past is far more secretive, complex, and intriguing than Harry ever imagined, and his faith in his mentor, already shaken by Rita Skeeter's "revelations" in her Daily Prophet interview, and only slightly repaired by talk with Elphias Doge, here takes another blow from Auntie Muriel. Gradually, Harry is realizing just how little he actually knew or understood Dumbledore. As with his father and godfather, the man Harry so admired and trusted had a hidden dark side. Youth, however, tend only to see their heroes' sterling characteristics, unable to realize that every person is a multidimensional composite containing faults as well as qualities, and that while these traits can clash, they also create balance. Harry has also yet to learn that it is one's past mistakes and transgressions that often makes them into the better person they eventually become. Nor will anyone ever be totally flawless, though Harry still largely sees the world as black or white, ignoring the multi-hued and sometimes muddied tones that blend, shade, and contrast life. Years before, Dumbledore told Harry, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Harry, relieved he can apply that to himself, so as to distinguish himself from Tom Riddle, still fails to consistently apply that to others, notably Dumbledore.
Harry also is quick to believe questionable sources like Auntie Muriel and Rita Skeeter, while somewhat dismissing Elphias Doge's more sympathetic memories. Harry wants to believe Doge and had sought his reassurance about Dumbledore, but he doubts Doge's words. Muriel is assertive and specific, making her appear more credible to Harry than Doge, who seems vague and deferential. Nor should it be assumed that Doge's recollections are any more accurate than Muriel's memories or Skeeter's research, simply because they are favorable. And Skeeter, despite her spurious journalistic methods, often uncovers accurate facts, though they usually have been sensationalized or skewed beyond recognition when they reach her readers. Regardless, Harry, already troubled by these multiple "truths", is becoming more conflicted by his growing confusion and concerns about Dumbledore, including those regarding his dark past, what his actual intentions were, and whether or not he truly loved Harry or had merely groomed him as an instrument to execute his cryptic plan.
Although Harry is dedicated to completing his mission, he will be distracted by these allegations about Dumbledore's past and his motivations, and by his confusion and frustration with the meager and perplexing information he was provided. Harry will become consumed with uncovering Dumbledore's past, so much so that it affects his mission.
Knowing that Gregorovitch is, or was, a wand-maker, we can surmise that Voldemort has determined Harry's Phoenix-feather wand to be his greatest threat. This certainly tallies with Harry's belief: having felt the wand cast a spell on its own during the escape from Privet Drive, Harry's faith in his wand is incredible. In this book's first chapter, we learned that Voldemort considers Harry's wand as a threat. It is unclear if Voldemort has learned about the connection between his wand and Harry's; while he does have Ollivander captive, it has not been revealed if he has interrogated Ollivander regarding this. Whether he intends for Gregorovitch to craft him a more powerful wand that can defeat Harry, or if he simply believes that a wand from a different maker would not suffer the same fate as Malfoy's, also an Ollivander wand, or he is merely after other information on wand lore, is still unknown.
Several characters are also highlighted here. Although it is never explained just how Luna Lovegood was able to peer through Harry's Polyjuice Potion disguise, it may indicate that despite, or even possibly because of, her unusual personality, she possesses some uncommon magical ability that may have been inherited from her late mother, rather than her father. This may also be another example of Luna's normal, non-magical perception. It is a very human characteristic to see only what we expect to see, so that Draco, when he saw Harry disguised as Goyle, would overlook any Harry-like mannerisms because he only expects him to act like Goyle. In this case, nobody knows what "Cousin Barny" looks or acts like, and Luna may recognize the mannerisms as belonging to Harry. Whether this ability is due to her magical powers, an enhanced perception, or a combination of both, it could make her an even more powerful ally for Harry.
Meanwhile, Viktor Krum's unexpected reappearance has a detrimental effect on Ron, who immediately feels jealous and threatened by Viktor's rekindled interest in Hermione, though Ron has yet to fully recognize just what his own feelings for her truly are. Harry similarly feels threatened by Krum when he also expresses an interest in Ginny, though Harry is acutely aware what his feelings are.
A small side plot briefly focuses on Harry and Ginny. During the wedding ceremony, Ginny glances at Harry and winks at him, which prompts Harry to remember the wonderful times they spent together in the previous book, rather than pay attention to the actual wedding. Later, when Viktor Krum inquires about Ginny, Harry immediately responds that she is already seeing someone who is "big" and "a jealous type." Despite the impending war with Voldemort and the Death Eaters, and Harry's decision to formally end their relationship, the bond between Harry and Ginny remains as strong as ever.
- What is the symbol that Mr. Lovegood is wearing? Why does it provoke such a strong reaction from Viktor Krum?
- Who is Gregorovitch and why does Voldemort seek him?
- Why would Voldemort seek a new wand?
- Who is telling the truth about Dumbledore's past and his family?
- Why does Harry seem to give more credence to Auntie Muriel's and Rita Skeeter's recollections about Dumbledore than he does to Elphias Doge's memories? Whose memories are the most credible? Why?
- How could Luna Lovegood see through Harry's Polyjuice Potion disguise? What does this say about her abilities?
- Why does Hermione's small handbag land with such a loud thunk?
- Why would Albus Dumbledore's sister be treated as a "squib" by her mother?
- Are there symbols in the real world which provoke as strong a reaction as the one expressed by Krum? Give at least one specific example, and explain how it does so.
Harry is correct in surmising that Voldemort is searching for a new wand. Although Harry and Voldemort's wands are "brothers", it will be learned that, during their confrontation in the cemetery in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry's wand not only overpowered Voldemort's, it forged a deeper connection and withdrew some of that wand's powers into itself, making it the superior weapon. Voldemort, though unaware this happened, is apparently seeking a more powerful wand that can defeat Harry's, specifically one that was associated with the legendary wandmaker, Gregorovitch.
Ollivander, who was tortured by Voldemort for information, will admit to having revealed to the Dark Lord that Harry and Voldemort's wands are "brothers."
Hermione has charmed her little beaded bag so that it is larger inside than outside. She has also packed everything she thinks they will need into it, and carries it with her, so she is ready to leave with Harry at any time. This will be very useful at this chapter's end and the beginning of the next, as the Death Eaters sudden arrival at the wedding requires Harry, Ron, and Hermione to rapidly escape.
It is mentioned that the symbol that Xeno Lovegood is wearing is the symbol of Grindelwald, and that this infuriates Krum, who has been fighting Durmstrang students' tendency to idolize Grindelwald, an alumnus of that school. We will find out that Xeno is a believer in the myth of the Deathly Hallows, and that the symbol had been used by believers in the Hallows for centuries before Grindelwald, also a believer, co-opted the symbol for his own movement. This of course is extremely similar to the use of the swastika, a symbol of Buddhism for millennia, before it was turned into the symbol for the National Socialist party in Germany. It is a safe assumption that this parallel is deliberate on the part of the author, as she has previously stated that many aspects of the series, notably the actions of the Ministry of Magic throughout Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix are consciously modeled on events leading up to the Second World War, and that there is some connection between that war and the actions of Grindelwald.
Chapter 9: A Place to Hide
Panic erupts over the shocking announcement. Some guests Disapparate, showing that the protective charms surrounding The Burrow have collapsed. The rest stand armed with their wands, ready to face the Death Eaters. Amid the chaotic scene, Hermione, Ron and Harry Disapparate to Tottenham Court Road. They enter a dark alley and change into street clothes, Hermione having already packed everything they needed for their mission into her beaded bag (which has been enchanted to fit spellbooks, clothes, money, camping gear, etc.). The Trio, with Harry under the Invisibility Cloak, enter a shabby all-night café, trying to get some rest. Ron suggests going to the Leaky Cauldron, but Hermione immediately vetoes that idea as being too dangerous as Voldemort will be watching there. Instead, she advises Disapparating to the countryside so they can send a message to the Order.
When two workmen enter the café, Ron and Hermione lower their voices. As the workmen draw wands, Harry, under his Invisibility Cloak, recognizes them as Death Eaters. He Stuns one, though he misses the second Death Eater: the spell ricochets, hitting the waitress. Meanwhile, the remaining Death Eater has bound Ron, and blown up the table behind Harry. Hermione Petrifies him. The large blond Death Eater is Thorfinn Rowle, who Harry recognizes from the battle atop the Astronomy Tower the previous year. The Petrified one is Dolohov, who was at the battle in the Ministry.
Reluctant to kill the Death Eaters, the Trio instead decides to wipe their memories, along with the waitress', then repair the diner. Hermione wonders how they were found so quickly and if Harry still carries the Ministry Trace to detect underage magic. Ron insists that it breaks at age 17 by law; Hermione suggests Death Eaters could have applied a new one, though Ron says none have been near Harry since he turned 17. Harry suggests going to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, the house Sirius left to Harry and the former Order of the Phoenix headquarters. Overriding the others' objections, Harry says that only Severus Snape can enter, whereas anywhere else they could end up facing many Death Eaters.
The Trio Disapparate to Grimmauld Place. Upon entering, Mad-Eye Moody's disembodied voice startles them, and the Tongue-tying Curse left for Snape briefly affects them. A dusty, rotting Albus Dumbledore form appears in the entryway. Harry yells out that they did not kill Dumbledore, and the grisly figure dissolves back into dust. Hermione checks and determines the house is empty.
Harry's scar burns as he feels Voldemort's rage. Hermione is upset—it was through this channel that Voldemort lured Harry to the Ministry two years ago, where Sirius was killed. Ron asks Harry if Voldemort is angry at the Weasley clan. A silver Patronus arrives, and Arthur Weasley's voice announces, "Family safe, do not reply, we are being watched." Ron and Hermione collapse in relief; Harry, concerned about Ginny, is also relieved. Harry, feeling sick from the pain, dashes for the bathroom. Sprawled on the tile floor, he "sees" Rowle being tortured for failing to capture Harry and the others. Harry is sickened by what he witnesses, including a terrified-looking Draco Malfoy, who Voldemort forces to do the actual torturing.
Harry's mission truly begins here, though he has been headed toward a predestined fate, to kill Lord Voldemort or else be killed by him, since shortly before his birth. Although Harry has previously encountered the Dark Lord, until now, he has mostly been in preparation for this fatal encounter, mentored along the way by Professor Dumbledore. Now that Harry has embarked on the quest's final leg, he fully becomes an "epic hero", a classic literary protagonist. Typically, the epic hero is a mortal, but he often is descended from or connected to gods or other divine beings. In Harry's case, his antecedents were powerful wizards. The epic hero typically possesses no extraordinary powers, but tends to be more talented, courageous, and capable than his peers. And though Harry is a wizard, so are his contemporaries and enemies. He therefore holds no special magical advantage over them and is actually still somewhat less magically proficient than more experienced wizards. Traditionally, the epic hero symbolizes a society's ethics and ideals, and he has been charged with a seemingly impossible quest or task, that, if victorious, mainly benefits others in some way. The quest also tests his endurance and moral fibre, and he must rely on courage, integrity, intelligence, and strength to succeed. It is also a typical scenario that the hero prematurely loses his mentor, and is forced to proceed alone, relying on his incomplete knowledge and skill. Harry has lost Dumbledore, though it seems Albus also abandoned his charge, leaving Harry only a few cryptic clues to aid his quest. In the classic epic hero scenario, the mentor has been preparing his charge for the battle to come, and we have seen that Dumbledore has made some efforts in that direction, but now, to Harry, they seem to have been almost laughably insufficient. This, coupled with the recent revelations concerning Dumbledore's youth, have caused Harry's faith in Dumbledore and the mission to erode. If Harry can overcome his doubts regarding Dumbledore, and continues the quest, to succeed he must rely solely on his superior bravery, strength, and cleverness, as well as his allies' help, particularly Ron's and Hermione's. He will also need to overcome a particular flaw: his predictability. Because Harry tends to react in a familiar, linear pattern before thinking and acting logically, Voldemort has been able to anticipate and manipulate his actions. Harry must adopt a new strategy.
Harry's reliance on others is shown by Hermione's meticulous planning and quick actions that saves the Trio from the attack, allowing them to escape rapidly. Everything they need for their quest was already packed in the beaded bag she carried with her. The location Hermione Disapparated them to was a spontaneous choice, though, initially, it appears to be a poor decision because Death Eaters found them so quickly, and it is unlikely they were there by coincidence. If Harry no longer carries the Ministry Trace, nor does it appear from the text that he used any magic when the Trio first arrived in Tottenham Court Road, just how, then, did the Death Eaters immediately detect the Trio's location? Apparating to Grimmauld Place also seems risky; not only is its location known to Severus Snape, a Secret Keeper who has returned to Voldemort's service, but he would likely suspect Harry might flee there.
There are signs that their stressful escape may be affecting Hermione. She says, and Ron and Harry agree, that they would rather be in Grimmauld Place where they could be attacked only by one Death Eater, Snape, than out on the street where there are many. All three seem to have forgotten that as Snape became a Secret Keeper for the Headquarters location upon Dumbledore's death, he can now reveal Grimmauld Place's location to as many Death Eaters as he chooses. As such, if the Trio is known to be at Grimmauld Place, any number of Death Eaters could appear at the door. And though protective spells were left in place to guard the premises, these charms are likely ineffective against a Death Eater onslaught, if the attack on The Burrow is any indication.
Harry again shows his reluctance to use more powerful defensive spells against his enemies; Ron and Hermione are similarly reticent. When Harry was attacked leaving Privet Drive, he cast Expelliarmus, a non-lethal disarming spell, to avoid harming Stan Shunpike, who Harry believed was acting under the Imperius Curse. Lupin later criticized Harry for his reluctance to employ stronger magic in life-threatening situations and dismissed Harry's argument that he was protecting an innocent person. Harry was also reluctant to use the Cruciatus curse on Bellatrix Lestrange at the Battle in the Ministry (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), resulting in its weakened effect. However, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry unhesitatingly cast an unknown spell (Sectumsempra) to counter Draco Malfoy's sudden attack, nearly killing Draco as a result. Horrified by the outcome, Harry, enraged, had only intended to disarm or slightly wound Draco, never anticipating the curse's detrimental effect. Here, in the café, Harry continues this pattern by Stunning the Death Eaters, and Hermione similarly uses the non-lethal, full body bind jinx. The Trio's decision to spare the Death Eaters' lives at the café is a questionable act, however. Outwardly, it seems merciful, but it shows they may still be unprepared to serve in the Order of the Phoenix, unable to cope with warfare's extreme demands. Dangerous times often call for desperate measures that would never be considered under normal circumstances, including killing your enemies to protect yourself, defend your allies, and accomplish a mission. The Trio may be unable to handle Dumbledore's difficult quest, though in this particular instance, their restraint probably saved the waitress, accidentally struck by a ricocheting spell, from serious injury or even death. Ironically, the Trio's humanitarian act may only have spared the two Death Eaters long enough to suffer a more horrendous fate. Harry later watches through Voldemort's eyes as at least one Death Eater is severely tortured for failing the Dark Lord.
Also, it is interesting that Rowle was punished for Harry escaping. Rowle never saw Harry, only his wand flash. However, Dolohov did see Harry, when he was Petrified; granted, that was before Hermione altered his memory, but we already know that Voldemort has a rare skill with memories, and Hermione, as good a witch as she is, had cast a memory charm only a very few times before (notably, on her parents as she sent them to Australia). Why was Rowle tortured, but not Dolohov? While there is no answer, it seems evident that Voldemort frequently reacts with irrational rage, rather than calm reason, striking out, often fatally, at whoever is unfortunate enough to be in close proximity at the time, as well as the person who has failed him. It is also possible that Rowle was tortured for failing to capture any of the Trio (not just Harry) and that Dolohov was punished at a time Harry was not tuned in to Voldemort's thoughts. Alternately, it is possible that Dolohov, a veteran Death Eater from Voldemort's first rise to power, knowing Voldemort's propensities, had deliberately hung back to allow Rowle to deliver the bad news and receive the resulting outburst.
Draco Malfoy's terrified expression as Voldemort forces him to torture the Death Eater is particularly revealing to Harry, causing him to consider Draco differently. Draco is genuinely repulsed and sickened by inflicting harm on another, just as he was when Voldemort ordered him to murder Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a task he was unable to perform and which was ultimately executed by Snape, who was bound by an Unbreakable Vow to carry out Draco's mission should he fail. It would appear that Draco can never overcome his fear and revulsion to violence, and now realizes that being a Death Eater entails far more than he ever imagined. Despite Draco's bullying arrogance and cruel personality, he apparently lacks his family's truly evil nature. This could endanger Draco's life even further if Voldemort considers him too weak and fearful a servant to be useful to him. This may even be why Voldemort recruited him, intending Draco to fail and providing Voldemort yet another opportunity to punish Lucius Malfoy for his failures by executing his only son.
Harry is equally repulsed by violence, and, despite Lupin's earlier admonishment, he continually avoids killing as a defense, even against those attempting to murder him and his friends. Murder damages a soul, and we have learned that Dumbledore went to some lengths to keep Draco's soul intact. Can Harry, the series' hero, be sentenced to have his soul so damaged? It may be that Harry, Hermione, and Ron, to retain their souls' integrity, must complete the series without killing anyone. Then again, when a good character is seen killing an evil one, it will be to defend a third party; presumably, it being a defensive act nullifies or prevents the soul being damaged, or lessens it. Making that first kill, however, even to protect another or as an act of war, can make it easier for some to kill again, and with lessening remorse, possibly damaging their soul.
- How did Arthur Weasley know to send his Patronus to Grimmauld Place to update the Trio?
- Why did the Trio immediately Disapparate from the wedding reception when Death Eaters were approaching, rather than standing and fighting? Which was the wiser choice?
- Why would Draco Malfoy, now a Death Eater and Voldemort's servant, appear terrified in Harry's vision? How might this affect Harry?
- Was sparing the Death Eaters' lives the right decision? Did not killing them make any difference? What does this say about the Trio's characters and how they react when faced with life or death warfare?
- Why would Harry choose to hide at Grimmauld Place, whose location Snape, a Secret Keeper, can reveal to Voldemort and other Death Eaters? Will they be safe there?
- If the Ministry Trace is no longer on Harry and he is not followed by any known Death Eater, how might the Death Eaters have found the Trio so quickly?
Escaping to Grimmauld Place may be far riskier than Hermione and Harry seem to think. As mentioned, Snape could have informed Death Eaters about the house and how to enter it. In fact, the Trio will notice that it seems to have been ransacked. They will also soon learn that Death Eaters are keeping Grimmauld Place under constant surveillance, even though the house's exact location remains apparently unseen to them, indicating Snape never instructed them on how to enter it. Just why he never did is revealed later, but for now, the Trio feels assured they will remain safe and undetected there.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were tracked to Tottenham Court by Hermione speaking Voldemort's name, which will be revealed later to be tabooed. Throughout the series, many wizards displayed an irrational fear of uttering Voldemort's name aloud, convinced speaking it could cause disaster, though no one knew what that might be. Harry, and we, have mostly considered this fear unfounded and somewhat amusing, secure in knowing that merely saying a word cannot cause harm. Harry, always brave enough to speak Voldemort's name aloud and to his face, never suffered any ill-effects when he did so. Voldemort, knowing how most people do fear his name, probably cultivated the belief that evil consequences result to anyone speaking it. Following his return to power, the only ones who now dare to utter Voldemort's name are those fighting him, specifically the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry, in particular. Knowing that, Voldemort makes what others have feared a reality by casting a spell on his name—speaking it immediately alerts Death Eaters or Snatchers to the speaker's location. Ironically, it is Hermione, who most fears saying Voldemort's name, who did so in Tottenham Court, summoning the Death Eaters. Also, whether the effect of breaking protective spells, seen later, is already in place, is unknown.
Harry's reluctance to engage in killing, even during a war, will continue, and, throughout the entire series, he never kills anyone. He has even been reluctant to use the Cruciatus curse on his enemies, though this will change under a specific circumstance. And on that occasion, unlike when he attacked Draco the previous year with the Sectumsempra spell, Harry will suffer no regrets or guilt afterwards, probably as he was motivated to defend someone close to him.
Chapter 10: Kreacher's Tale
Harry awakens in the early hours, pondering the daunting task Albus Dumbledore gave him and the tales about Albus' young life. Bored, he explores the mansion. On the second landing, the room Ron and Harry previously used has been searched, presumably by Death Eaters. Sirius Black's room on the next floor has also been searched; amid the mess is a handwritten letter from his mother to Sirius thanking him for the toy broomstick he gave Harry for his first birthday. A half-torn photo shows baby Harry riding the broomstick. The letter's second page is also missing, but the first one mentions Bathilda Bagshot, a famous wizard historian who often visits, and that Dumbledore borrowed James Potter's Invisibility Cloak. The letter ends halfway through Lily's sentence saying that she is, "surprised that Dumbledore..." Harry searches unsuccessfully for the second page.
Harry shows Hermione what he found and immediately wants to go to Godric's Hollow to meet Bathilda Bagshot and ask about his parents and the Dumbledore family. Hermione believes it is too dangerous and unrelated to their mission. Harry then notices Regulus Black's full name posted on a door; it matches the initials R.A.B. on the note found inside the fake Locket Horcrux. Hermione calls Ron then unlocks the door. Inside, they hunt for Slytherin's Locket, but find nothing. Hermione remembers a locket that no one could open and was tossed away. Harry suspects Kreacher, the Black family House-elf who was continually retrieving discarded items, may have hidden it.
Kreacher says Mundungus Fletcher stole the locket; he also tells them that when Voldemort required a House-elf, his master, Regulus Black, gave him Kreacher. At a lake inside a cave, Voldemort forced Kreacher to drink a potion from a basin that made him think horrible thoughts. Voldemort placed a locket into the emptied basin and refilled it with more potion. Kreacher, abandoned and in misery, crawled to the water to drink, only to be dragged under the surface. However, Kreacher, as ordered, returned to his master.
Regulus, rejecting Voldemort's beliefs, apparently discovered the Locket was a Horcrux and had Kreacher take him to the cave. Kreacher was ordered to force Regulus to drink all the potion, then to replace the real Locket with a fake one. After consuming the potion, Regulus, thirsty, drank from the lake, only to be pulled under by Inferi. Kreacher was unable to destroy the real Locket as he had been ordered. Because he was commanded to reveal nothing, Kreacher alone knew Regulus' fate. Kreacher, distraught over failing his master, sobs uncontrollably.
Harry, though still upset by Kreacher's part in Sirius' death, is bothered more by Voldemort exploiting Kreacher. Hermione explains House-elves are used to brutal treatment, so he never resented Voldemort's abuse. Also, from Kreacher's perspective, Sirius betrayed the Black family by leaving home. The Trio must now find the Locket. Harry wins Kreacher's allegiance by telling him that their mission is to destroy the Locket, as Regulus wanted. When he gives Kreacher the fake locket, Kreacher is overcome by receiving a Black family heirloom. Harry then orders the elf to fetch Mundungus. Kreacher Disapparates to find him.
While much information regarding the Trio's Horcrux quest is revealed, Harry's relationship to Number 12, Grimmauld Place, the house he inherited from Sirius Black, should also be examined. The house, which seems frozen in the past, provides the Trio a safe haven, and Harry was happy here during his brief visits with Sirius, but he hardly considers it home, nor does he now find it comforting; instead, its murky, decaying interior is filled with sad reminders of Harry's lost godfather who endured his own unhappy childhood there. Like the fugitive Sirius, who was long confined inside as the Ministry hunted him, Harry finds the residence to be as much a bleak prison as it is a protective refuge. Even its name reflects its grimness. The Trio must also contend with Kreacher, the belligerent House-elf Harry also inherited, and the fanatical Mrs. Black's screaming portrait. As depressing as Grimmauld Place might be, however, for now, it is secure and comfortable. It has also yielded a fortuitous, if unexpected, result: a clue leading to a Horcrux.
Although many readers correctly guessed the answer, one of the most intriguing mysteries in the series, R.A.B.'s identity, is finally definitively solved. Regulus Arcturus Black is arguably the most important unseen character in the series. Like Draco Malfoy, Regulus quickly learned that being a Death Eater required far more unpleasantness than he had ever imagined or could provide. And once recruited, there is no leaving the Dark Lord's service alive. Unable to escape with his life, Regulus instead devised the plan to steal what he clearly believed to be Voldemort's single Horcrux, certain he would be killed in the process, but dying in the belief that he had helped to thwart the Dark Lord.
More is also learned about Regulus' and Kreacher's characters, their relationship with each other, with Voldemort, and what motivated them. Until now, the fanatically faithful Black family House-elf has been seen only as a rather nasty and unpleasant servant who is forced by circumstance to serve Harry, and who, if possible, would probably use any means to expose him to Voldemort. Not only does Kreacher's story explain how Regulus recovered the Locket Horcrux, but it also spotlights the callous ill-treatment the Wizarding world inflicts upon enslaved House-elves, and what little regard there is for their well-being or personal rights.
Harry remains conflicted over Kreacher, repulsed and angry that he betrayed Sirius to Voldemort, but also sympathetic to how the House-elf was exploited by the Dark Lord. Hermione explains that House-elves expect to be mistreated, and Harry comes to understand that they are hapless pawns, often abused and misused at their master's discretion. Even the name "Kreacher" (creature) implies that he and other House-elves are considered as little more than domesticated animals, albeit intelligent talking ones whose sole purpose and identity is to serve their wizard masters. Although he appears to be a despicable, inconsolable (and half-mad) wretch, Kreacher's character has been molded by the maltreatment heaped on him over the years, and by anguish over having to conceal Regulus' fate, probably coupled with remorse for being involved in it, and failing to follow his Master's final orders. Like many wizards, Sirius also treated the House-elf poorly or indifferently, though their mutual loathing was a contributing factor. Under Harry's continued kind, gentle treatment, however, it is possible that Kreacher could be transformed; even by the this chapter's end, after a very short interaction with Harry, he already seems far more willing to do Harry's bidding than we have ever seen.
As a small side light here, we should note Kreacher's return to his master. After being pulled under the lake by the Inferi, Kreacher had "come back". He never explains, he simply says he had returned to his master. It is a fair supposition that he used the House-elf form of Apparition to do so, and perhaps it is just something that he naturally does and it therefore lacks a name. We already have seen that House-elves can Apparate within Hogwarts, where the school's protective charms normally prevent Apparition. Voldemort has presumably prevented Apparition in the Horcrux cave to force any would-be thieves into running the gantlet of the lake and the Inferi. Equally, however, he clearly has failed to prevent House-elves from Apparating in the cave. Whether this is an oversight on Voldemort's part, which would support the readers' belief in his discounting non-Human magic, or whether it is simply impossible for human spell-casters to prevent Elf Apparition, is unknown.
Lily's letter to Sirius Black is a typical thank-you note and unlikely containing anything Death Eaters would consider important. That makes it even more intriguing as to why only its second half is missing. What remains provides useful information for Harry, however. Lily mentions the elderly Bathilda Bagshot, a famous wizard historian who lives in Godric's Hollow, who Lily apparently was acquainted with, and may know much about the Dumbledore clan. Harry immediately wants to go to Godric's Hollow, not only to meet Bathilda and learn more about Dumbledore and his family from her, but also to see his birthplace. Hermione vetoes this, arguing that it is unrelated to their mission, too dangerous, and she suspects Voldemort may have set a trap there. Hermione instead encourages Harry to trust his own feelings and memories about Dumbledore, rather than believing malicious rumors and unsubstantiated innuendos spread by Ron's Aunt Muriel, Rita Skeeter, and others.
The letter also mentions that Dumbledore borrowed James' Invisibility Cloak, though for what purpose is still unknown. This reminds us that Dumbledore had this Cloak in his possession when James died, and perhaps is intended to pique the reader's curiosity as to why he might have wanted it. The letter is also significant in that it is probably the first time Harry has seen his mother's handwriting or read her own words. For Harry, who has tended to identify with his father more than his mother, it awakens new-found feelings that tie him closer to her. It also shows yet another means by which the dead are able to speak from beyond the grave and affect the living.
The torn photograph adds to the mystery. Presumably its missing half contained either James' or Lily's image, proudly watching their young son flying about on his first toy broomstick. Just why someone would take the ripped half is unknown, and certainly curious.
- Harry wants to meet with Bathilda Bagshot to learn more about Dumbledore. Who else might have been interested in talking to Bathilda about him and why?
- Why does Hermione tell Harry to rely on his own memories about Dumbledore, rather than what others have to say?
- How has Kreacher's behavior toward Harry changed? What might account for this?
- Why didn't Kreacher destroy the Locket Horcrux? Given what is known about Horcruxes and Elf magic, could he have destroyed it?
- Why is Harry both judgmental and sympathetic to Kreacher? What is Hermione's explanation and do Ron and Harry agree?
- Why would only the second page of Lily's letter's and her image from the photo be missing? Who might have taken them?
- What could Harry learn about his parents and Dumbledore from talking to Bathilda Bagshot? Would her revelations be any more truthful, accurate, or unbiased than anyone else's?
- Why does Hermione advise Harry against going to Godric's Hollow or talking to Bathilda Bagshot? Should Harry listen to her advice? Explain.
- Harry suspects Death Eaters searched Grimmauld Place. Why might that assumption be wrong? Who might have searched it and why?
- How did Regulus Black know that the Locket was a Horcrux? Why was he willing to forfeit his life to destroy it?
- Kreacher says the potion he was forced to drink made him think horrible thoughts. Based on what is known about his character, what might those thoughts have been?
- Why would Regulus drink the potion, knowing it was likely harmful, rather than order Kreacher or some other House-elf to do so?
The missing half of Lily's letter and the torn photograph are significant, though not in the way readers might expect. It was Snape who took the letter and the photo (with Lily's image), apparently for personal reasons rather than because they contained any vital information relating to Voldemort, Dumbledore, or the Order of the Phoenix.
The letter's mentioning that Dumbledore borrowed James' Invisibility Cloak is also significant. It will be learned that the Cloak is one of the three titular Deathly Hallows. Dumbledore's wand is another Hallow, and he was searching for the third, apparently hoping that the three Deathly Hallow's legendary ability to conquer death would reunite him with his lost family.
It is never explained how Regulus discovered that the Locket was a Horcrux. He also apparently never understood how to dispatch one, as he only directed Kreacher to take and destroy it, apparently assuming any strong magical charm would do the job. Kreacher, unable to destroy it with conventional magic, merely kept it. Harry has already learned, by means of Hermione's research, that there are only a few methods to destroy these Dark magical objects, and he must find some alternative means to eliminate Voldemort's Horcruxes. Like Regulus, Harry will likewise task someone (Neville Longbottom) to kill the last Horcrux in the event that he, Ron, or Hermione are unable to during the Battle at Hogwarts. Harry, unfortunately, neglects to instruct Neville on just how to accomplish this, leaving Neville to his own devices.
Kreacher being able to easily Apparate in and out of Voldemort's highly secure sea cave demonstrates how Elf magic differs from wizard magic. This ability, which we have now seen several times in Hogwarts, will be seen again in a later chapter when Dobby rescues the imprisoned Trio and several others by Apparating into a magically protected area. This ability also underscores a major weakness in Voldemort—a failure to consider that anyone he considers inferior could actually be more powerful magically.
Also, Hermione's fears about Godric's Hollow will prove to be well-founded, though it will later be her idea to go there.
Chapter 11: The Bribe
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.
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 creating 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, and has exerted a significant positive influence on Harry and many other students while he was a teacher at Hogwarts. 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 his 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.
- How did Lupin know where to find the Trio? How did he enter Grimmauld Place undetected by the ever-present Death Eaters?
- Why does Lupin offer to help with the Trio's mission?
- Who do the Trio think the "toad woman" might be? Are they correct, or are they rushing into an unfounded conclusion?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
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.
Chapter 12: Magic is Might
August passes, and, each day, several mysterious strangers, always different, lurk outside Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. On September 1st, the day students return to Hogwarts, at least half a dozen men in long, dark cloaks appear, watching outside the house. The Trio, meanwhile, has been taking turns spying on the Ministry of Magic under the Invisibility Cloak to learn its operations and routines. Returning under his Cloak, Harry Apparates onto Grimmauld's front stoop, landing badly, and worries that his elbow was momentarily exposed. A nearby lurker seemingly glimpses something, then appears uncertain and relaxes. Safely inside, Harry heads to the kitchen, which is nearly unrecognizable due to Kreacher's cleaning efforts. Ron and Hermione, sitting at the kitchen table, are poring over copious notes and hand-drawn maps. Harry hands them a pinched Daily Prophet, warning them it contains bad news. The headline reads: SEVERUS SNAPE CONFIRMED AS HOGWARTS HEADMASTER. Hermione suddenly jumps up and runs from the kitchen.
The article reports that Alecto and Amycus Carrow have been appointed as the new Muggle Studies and Dark Arts instructors. Harry recognizes the Carrows' photos: they were among the Death Eaters atop the Astronomy Tower the night Dumbledore was murdered. Ron and Harry believe the other teachers will remain at the school only to protect the students though Harry also thinks they probably have little choice—it is either stay at Hogwarts or be sent to Azkaban. Harry mentions the more than usual Death Eaters outside, almost as if they are expecting the Trio to march off to King's Cross station to catch the Hogwarts Express. Harry comments that at least they now know where Severus Snape is.
Hermione returns lugging Phineas Nigellus Black's empty portrait and stuffs it into her beaded carrying bag, explaining that if Snape sends Phineas from his Hogwarts' portrait to Grimmauld Place, he will be unable to see or hear anything from inside the bag. As they are discussing the Ministry of Magic, Harry suddenly announces they will infiltrate it the next day. They know enough, and it is too dangerous to wait any longer. Both Ron and Hermione look frightened.
Harry suddenly excuses himself, claiming he has to go to the bathroom, but pain is shooting through his scar. Grasping the wash basin, he sees himself gliding down a twilit street lined with gabled houses in some unknown European village. A door cracks open, and a high-pitched voice asks for Gregorovitch. A foreign woman insists he has moved. A green flash follows, then Harry hears Hermione shouting. Slumped on the floor, Harry gets up and unlocks the door. Despite Harry's claim nothing is wrong, Ron and Hermione insist they heard him cry out. Harry admits seeing Voldemort murdering a woman and her family. Hermione is upset that Harry refuses to block Voldemort using Occlumency, but Harry believes knowing his actions is useful. Voldemort is hunting Gregorovitch, the foreign wand maker who crafted Viktor Krum's wand. Considering Voldemort has Ollivander imprisoned, Ron wonders why he is looking for another wand maker. Harry speculates that Voldemort may believe that Gregorovitch can explain why Voldemort's wand failed against Harry's. Late into the night, they review their plan to invade the Ministry.
Early the next morning, Hermione reviews what items they will need while Kreacher promises steak and kidney pie when they return. They Disapparate to the Ministry, arriving in a nearby alleyway. Hermione stuns a Ministry woman named Mafalda Hopkirk. After plucking a few hairs off the unconscious woman, Hermione drinks the Polyjuice Potion. Ron and Harry also find employees to impersonate. Ron becomes a maintenance worker named Reg Cattermole, though Harry does not yet know his own identity. Entering an underground public restroom with other employees, they insert tokens into cubicle doors and step into toilets that flush them dry into the Ministry of Magic's Atrium.
The Atrium has changed—it is darker, and the central golden fountain has been replaced by a frightening statue with a witch and wizard seated upon ornately carved thrones depicting writhing nude and ugly-faced men, women, and children. Harry is bumped by a man calling him Runcorn. His subservient tone suggests that Runcorn is a high official. A Death Eater named Yaxley approaches Ron (as Cattermole) and orders him to attend to the rain in his office. Yaxley makes threats about Cattermole's wife, who is appearing before the Muggle-Born Registration Commission that day. In a lift (elevator) Hermione whispers hints to Ron for fixing Yaxley's office before he gets off on Level Two. On Level One, a squat, toad-like witch wearing a velvet bow in her hair steps into the lift.
Fear and suspicion have permeated the Wizarding world, and readers can see in this chapter and the next just how Voldemort exploits that to seize control. By systematically infiltrating wizard institutions such as the Ministry of Magic, falsifying scientific research, and manipulating the media (The Daily Prophet) to disseminate propaganda, Voldemort was able to implement his plan to eliminate blood traitors and Muggle-borns like Hermione, who are accused of acquiring their magic by having stolen it from other wizards. Many Death Eaters and other Voldemort sympathizers (mostly Slytherins) already worked at the Ministry, making its takeover relatively easy. As a result, new laws and regulations are constantly being enacted and all wizards must now register to prove their magical lineage; any known or suspected Muggle-borns are interrogated and separated from their families, their eventual fates uncertain. Intimidation, coercion, spying, and threat tactics are also employed to suppress opposition, while corrupt, ambitious bureaucrats like Dolores Umbridge, who, though they are not Death Eaters, willingly help spearhead the Dark Lord's evil rise to power to benefit themselves. Meanwhile, Voldemort deliberately remains elusive to create doubt and confusion among the general Wizarding population and to avoid giving his enemies a specific target to rally against. Even Hogwarts has fallen victim, and every wizard child must now attend only that school. This enables Death Eaters to indoctrinate impressionable young minds to Voldemort's depraved beliefs, as well as provide a convenient mechanism to identify and cull Muggle-borns.
Conquering the Muggle realm may also be included in Voldemort's grandiose scheme, if the new atrium statue is any indication. The monument, like the previously destroyed "Fountain of Magical Brethren," appears to represent the Ministry's new public mission. The figures, a magical couple seated on thrones made of struggling Muggles, reveals how much control Voldemort has gained over the Wizarding realm and how little, if any, concern he and the Ministry now have for Muggles' welfare. Indeed, the statue can be interpreted as wizards suppressing, and possibly exterminating and/or enslaving, Muggles.
Any reader doubting that one individual can attain the power to convert an entire state to their perverted political design need only to draw parallels between Voldemort's Muggle-born persecution and Adolf Hitler exterminating six million Jews and other so-called "undesirables" in Nazi Germany during the mid-20th century. Both movements were driven by a maniacal but charismatic dictator who, exploiting the masses' anxieties and prejudices, advocated an elitist ruling class and purging "racially impure" citizens who were blamed for causing most social, political, and economic ills within their society.
Meanwhile, Hermione stuffs Phineas' portrait into her bag to prevent him relaying information to Snape via his other portrait in the Headmaster's office. He has had ample time to have already done that, however. Phineas' allegiance is as yet unclear, and though he has always appeared loyal to Dumbledore in the past, that is no guide to the current situation. It is likely that Phineas' fidelity will have changed with the new Headmaster, as the portraits, we heard earlier, are supposedly loyal to "the Headmaster of Hogwarts", which Snape now is. It is also possible, though less likely, that Phineas' loyalty to Dumbledore was false; Phineas certainly seemed, on occasion, reluctant to follow Dumbledore's instructions. Almost certainly, this reluctance is due to Phineas' and Dumbledore's widely differing philosophies. At one point in the story, Dumbledore remarks that Phineas Nigellus Black was the most-hated Headmaster in Hogwarts' history, and we have seen in earlier books how his attitude towards the students would have contributed to that hatred. Snape's disdain for the students, and his Slytherin House background, could make Phineas more willing to carry out his requests. Just how Dumbledore's portrait is interacting in these matters is unknown, and whether or not he is "loyal" to Snape simply because he is now a portrait and is expected to offer his allegiance to him is certainly something readers must be speculating about.
Phineas may have already informed Snape that the Trio is in residence at Grimmauld Place. However, if he has, that information does not appear to have been relayed to Voldemort. Even though Death Eaters are constantly outside watching the Black family residence, they seem uncertain as to whether the Trio is actually within, though perhaps what they are actually unsure of is where exactly the house is.
- What accounts for Kreacher's changed behavior towards the Trio? Can he now be trusted?
- Harry believes Voldemort is looking for a new wandmaker. Is Harry right, and if so, why would Voldemort need a new one when he already has Ollivander?
- What does the new statue in the Ministry of Magic atrium represent?
- Hermione wants Harry to block Voldemort's thoughts by using Occlumency, while Harry wants to keep the channel open. Which is the better choice and why?
- What effect could Snape's appointment as Hogwarts' new Headmaster have on the Trio's mission?
- How might the Trio be planning to recover the Locket after entering the Ministry? Where is Umbridge likely to keep the Locket?
- How could the Trio be so certain that the "toad woman" Mundungus Fletcher described in the previous chapter is actually Dolores Umbridge?
- In addition to recovering the Locket, what additional information can the Trio gather while at the Ministry that would be useful for their mission?
- What comparisons can be made to Voldemort's persecution of Muggle-born Wizards and historical events from mid-20th century Europe?
Harry's apparent utter inability (or stubborn refusal) to learn Occlumency was a contributing factor in the events leading to his godfather Sirius' death. However, it is this same failure, we believe, which now allows Harry to view some events occurring in Voldemort's mind: Harry already senses their value to the Trio's mission, despite the physical pain they cause, and he is therefore resistant to Hermione's repeated pleas that he practice Occlumency to block them. Later, it is revealed that Voldemort will largely lose control over his skill at Legilimency and Occlumency, at least as far as Harry is concerned. After possessing Harry's mind once before, Voldemort found Harry's strong memories and deep emotions of love, friendship, and loyalty so disturbing that he never attempts to enter it again; Harry, however, will eventually be able to penetrate Voldemort's mind almost at will and, apparently, without Voldemort's knowledge. By reading Voldemort's thoughts, Harry later uncovers vital information that will help destroy the Horcruxes.
Phineas Nigellus Black, we will learn, is accepting instructions from Snape, and that Snape is allied to Dumbledore's cause. On initial inspection, if Phineas is Dumbledore's ally, it would seem that he should have relayed helpful information from Dumbledore's Hogwarts portrait to the Trio at Grimmauld Place, although that apparently has not occurred. Dumbledore seems to have deliberately withheld information from the Trio that would aid their mission, and his portrait may be doing the same, though just why is unclear. And while Dumbledore has not relayed any information to the Trio via Phineas, it should be assumed that if Phineas is loyal to Dumbledore, he is probably updating Snape and Dumbledore's portrait about the Trio's activities. It will be revealed that Dumbledore had reasons for withholding information from the Trio, and, perhaps surprisingly, from Snape, reasons that remain valid.
Hermione stuffs Phineas Nigellus' portrait into her magical bag to prevent him spying on the Trio, but she fails to consider that he may still be able to hear them. When she accidentally leaves the bag open in a later chapter, Phineas overhears some vital information that he relays to Severus Snape, and it will actually aid the Trio. Phineas will also provide the Trio with helpful updates regarding Hogwarts, though it remains unknown which side, if any, Phineas is actually on.
Chapter 13: The Muggle-Born Registration Commission
Dolores Umbridge assumes that Hermione, as she appears to be Mafalda Hopkirk, was sent by Travers to record the hearings. She tells the Minister that with Mafalda recording, they can start right away. A Ministry employee's wife is also being interrogated. Harry watches as Hermione descends in the elevator with Umbridge. When Thicknesse asks what brings "Albert" to the first floor, Harry claims he needs to speak with Arthur Weasley.
Alone now, Harry dons the Invisibility Cloak and searches for Umbridge's office. Despite meticulously planning, the Trio apparently failed to consider they might become separated once inside the Ministry. Now Hermione is stuck in court proceedings while Ron attempts to stop it raining in Yaxley's office. Harry stumbles into an open area where employees are assembling anti-"Mudblood" pamphlets. Harry spots Moody's magical eye affixed to a door. Below, brass plaques read, Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister and Head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission.
To create a diversion, Harry sets a Decoy Detonator free. It explodes, emitting a large, black smoke cloud. During the confusion, Harry enters Umbridge's office, finding it decorated exactly like her Hogwarts office, with the horribly cute kitten plates on the wall and lace doilies on the desks. Peering through the small telescope on the door, he sees everyone is gathered around the Decoy Detonator's remains. He removes Moody's eye, and pockets it, then tries unsuccessfully to Summon the Locket.
A file on Arthur Weasley notes him as a pure-blood likely to be contacted by "Undesirable Number One", Harry himself. Mr. Weasley is also being Tracked. Harry also finds Rita Skeeter's book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. Inside is a photo of two teenagers, but before Harry can read the caption, Pius Thicknesse enters and leaves Umbridge a note. It seems unlikely the Locket is here and Harry returns, unseen, to the lift. He must now find Ron and collect Hermione from the courtroom. Luckily, Ron steps in on the second floor. The lift stops again and Mr. Weasley gets on. On the next floor, Ron exits, but Harry is blocked by Percy Weasley getting on, but realizing his father is there, gets out on the next floor. Mr. Weasley blocks Harry, claiming Runcorn planted information about Dirk Cresswell. When Harry warns Mr. Weasley that he is being Tracked, he believes it is a threat.
Covered with the Invisibility Cloak, Harry heads for the courtrooms to extract Hermione while Ron works on Yaxley's office. Harry recognizes an unnatural chill. Dementors are guarding Muggle-born witches and wizards waiting to be interrogated. Mary Cattermole is called. Inside the courtroom, two Dementors are kept at bay by a cat Patronus, and Umbridge, Hermione (as Mafalda), and Yaxley, are interrogating Cattermole, demanding to know whose wand she stole. Seeing the Locket around Umbridge's neck, Hermione compliments her about it. Umbridge claims the S initial is for Selwyn, an old Wizarding family she is honoured to be related to. This proves too much for Harry, who Stuns Umbridge, and, before he can react, Yaxley. Harry releases the chains binding Mary, while Hermione creates a duplicate Locket to replace the real one. Escorted by Harry and Hermione's Patronuses, the three exit the courtrooms. Gathering the other Muggle-borns, Harry says the new official position is to disguise themselves and leave the country or at least avoid the Ministry.
At the lifts, Ron warns them that the Ministry knows they are there and is closing off the fireplaces. They must hurry to escape. Harry sends the Muggle-borns through the remaining open fireplaces. Amidst the confusion, Yaxley appears, ordering workers to seal all fireplaces. As Ron escapes with Mary Cattermole, Yaxley fires a curse at Harry as he exits with Hermione. Back in the lavatory, Yaxley appears in the cubicle behind Harry. Grabbing Hermione and Ron, Harry Disapparates. He briefly sees Grimmauld Place's front door, then hears a bang, and they are Apparating away.
Once inside the Ministry, the Trio sees how extensively Voldemort's corruption and perversion has spread, and the extreme measures being implemented to separate the "racially impure" from "pure-blooded" wizard society. Anyone not directly serving Voldemort is controlled through his minions, mostly with threats and violence. It appears there is little resistance, and as Voldemort gains more power, many wizards fear for themselves or their loved ones who could be branded as traitors or "undesirables" and be incarcerated. There are still many in the general Wizarding population who are simply ignorant to what is happening, while others are fearful and/or uncertain what to believe or who to trust. Voldemort has deliberately crafted this confusion by quietly and insidiously seizing control of the Ministry and other key institutions while spreading anti-Muggle propaganda. He remains unseen—though his return has now been public knowledge for a year: remaining concealed allows rumour to do his work, spreading fear and doubt, while never providing the public a specific target to rally against. We will see later that Voldemort is reported as being in several places simultaneously. Meanwhile, the thoroughly corrupt and reprehensible Dolores Umbridge revels in her position as Head of the Muggle-born Registration Committee. Bloated with power, she has dedicated herself to purging "impurities" from the Wizarding world, much as she did while at Hogwarts, and readily abuses her authority to persecute those deemed unworthy. From what can be seen at the hearing Umbridge is presiding over, it appears that all Muggle-borns are being rounded up, probably to be sent to a Wizard-style concentration camp for deportation, or worse, extermination. "Blood traitors," shielded to some extent by their Blood status, are nonetheless being watched more closely as well.
The Trio successfully retrieved the Locket Horcrux, but their lacking a back-up plan in the event they became separated while inside the Ministry is surprising. Randomly selecting individuals to impersonate without knowing their identities or rank, or considering that they may be called upon to perform their Ministry duties, was also a careless and risky move. Hermione, especially, appears to have been rather lax in failing to anticipate this, considering her usual diligent attention to details and analyzing all likely scenarios. The Trio also was extremely lucky that Umbridge had the Locket with her on that particular day, an event that seems to have taken both Harry and Hermione somewhat by surprise. At this point, we can see that the mission's objectives were almost bizarrely ill-defined; while they had intended to try and learn where Umbridge might actually keep the Locket, there was no plan to deal with the possibility that it might be outside the Ministry, and so there was, for instance, no attempt to locate Umbridge's residence and then search for the Locket there. It also seems that this information could have been gathered by one person alone using the Invisibility Cloak rather than all three entering the Ministry in their Polyjuice Potion disguises. If that was the plan, it is curious then that Harry never searched for Umbridge's home address while he was in her office. Being that they still lacked vital information as to the Locket's whereabouts when they infiltrated the Ministry, it is also questionable as to why they put their plan into action on that particular day, though Harry seemed propelled more by an urgent need to act, rather than strategic timing. It is also unclear how the Trio positively identified the "toad woman" as being Dolores Umbridge before investing so much time and effort into planning their assault, though, fortunately, their hunch was correct.
Indeed, Hermione's entire plan seems unworthy, opting for a dangerously elaborate and overly complicated scheme when a simpler strategy may have been safer and more effective, and could have protected their secure hiding place. Rather than infiltrating the highly-secure Ministry, the Trio might have been able to intercept Umbridge (perhaps using the Imperius Curse) before she entered or just after she left the Ministry. Also, once determining that Umbridge wears the Locket to work, one person alone could have slipped into her office under the Invisibility Cloak, stun her, perform a memory charm, and then removed and replaced the real Locket with a substitute, just as Hermione did. Like the Trio's reluctance to use extreme defensive tactics against their enemies, their unsophisticated plan and their rather erratic performance reflects their general inexperience and still growing maturity: they may still be unready to be full-fledged Order of the Phoenix members. And though it is unlikely the Order would ever have allowed the Trio to undertake such a dangerous mission, Dumbledore apparently felt only they could accomplish this. However misbegotten, chaotic, and nearly disastrous the Ministry caper may have been, it was ultimately successful and fortuitously resulted in many innocent victims being rescued. It also shows that the Trio works well together and can quickly and calmly adapt to changing circumstances.
Retrieving Mad Eye Moody's magical eye from Umbridge's door was also a risky and impetuous decision by Harry, but his emotions overruled his logic, and he was simply unable to leave any part of Moody in Umbridge's possession. This also provides a necessary closure for Harry, allowing him to later bury at least a small portion of Mad Eye. One gathers that the eye's loss from the outer side of Umbridge's door will not hinder her spying on her subordinates; the eye, staring fixedly, seems to only provide camouflage for the small telescope inside the office door.
Harry glimpsing Dumbledore's image in what he momentarily believed was a mirror in Umbridge's office may be a subtle reference to the familiar-looking blue eye he has been seeing in the mirror-shard, though it is unknown yet whose eye this actually is. The original magic mirror, before it was broken, was described as about the size of a small book. It is probably the combination of its size, plus Harry's half-belief that the eye in the mirror-shard is Dumbledore's, that leads him to briefly mistake the book for a mirror.
Rowling's description that Umbridge's over-cute kitten decor appears just as it did at Hogwarts may be a subtle clue that, despite Umbridge's traumatic experience with the Centaurs, readers can expect to see the same vile woman as in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
As a side note: While Umbridge is not a Death Eater, her high position within the Ministry may occasionally place her in close contact with Voldemort. Readers can only imagine his reaction had he noticed either the real or the fake Locket Horcrux dangling round her neck, particularly if she claimed it as a legacy of her family. Despite being a "pure-blood" advocate and staunchly loyal to the Ministry (and thus indirectly, if unknowingly) to the Dark Lord), her life would probably be forfeit. Voldemort, who would know that the substitute Locket she currently possesses is a fake, could likely trace this to Harry by connecting it to the Ministry raid. Much information could be extracted by Voldemort from Umbridge's memory that would lead him to Mundungus Fletcher, and, from there, to Grimmauld Place where the Locket was stolen, and thus to Harry. Voldemort could then surmise that Harry is hunting his other Horcruxes and that the real Locket Horcrux (and possibly the others) may have been destroyed, in addition to the Diary Horcrux. As this would jeopardize Harry's mission, we can only hope that Voldemort will leave the Ministry's daily operation to his minions.
- Why did Harry remove Mad-Eye Moody's magical eye from Umbridge's office? Did this help or endanger the Trio's mission?
- How will Harry's taking the Eye affect Umbridge's job?
- Why is Arthur Weasley being tracked? Why or why not might he have suspected this before Harry told him?
- Why does Umbridge wear the Locket?
- Why did the Trio fail to have a back-up plan in the event they became separated while inside the Ministry? What alternative plan(s) could they have had?
- Hermione's scheme to infiltrate the Ministry seems ill-planned. Devise your own method to find and retrieve the Locket.
- If Umbridge had not worn the Locket on that particular day, what would the Trio have done? Would they likely have had another chance to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic using the same plan? Explain.
- Does Dolores Umbridge know what the Locket really is? Give reasons both for and against this.
- How were Voldemort and his Death Eaters able to gain control of the Ministry of Magic, Hogwarts, and other Wizarding institutions so quickly and easily? Why has there been so little resistance?
- Why does Voldemort remain unseen to the general public, even though it is widely known that he is alive and controls the Ministry and other institutions?
- What might happen to Muggle-born wizards after being rounded up by the Ministry? How does this compare to historical events in mid-20th century Europe?
Over the next several chapters, the Locket Horcrux begins to affect each Trio member as they take turns wearing it around their necks; it preys on them physically, mentally, and emotionally. When Ron puts his ear to the Locket, he is able to detect something akin to a "heartbeat" pulsing within it, indicating that it may share some of Voldemort's life force. The Horcrux may actually be somewhat sentient, as when Harry is trying to retrieve Gryffindor's Sword to destroy the Locket, the Horcrux, sensing danger, defends itself by attempting to strangle him. Also, once opened, it presents a shadow play designed to turn Ron, who is then holding the Sword, against Harry and Hermione, in the hopes of saving itself. Unlike the Trio, Dolores Umbridge seems unaffected by wearing the Locket, possibly because the Locket senses she poses no threat to its existence, and she may be more closely aligned to its Dark nature.
The Trio's foray into the Ministry of Magic, while ultimately successful, was nearly disastrous because they failed to consider all scenarios and lacked a back-up plan to handle even the simplest and most likely event: that they would be called upon to perform the duties of the Ministry employees they were impersonating and would thereby be separated. A far more sensible plan would be to first identify who they could best impersonate, then observe their duties and habits. In a later chapter, they will infiltrate another high-security Wizarding institution, Gringotts Bank. While that mission will be successful, it also nearly ends in disaster, and they once again fail to have an alternate plan. They have to quickly improvise an alternate escape route when things go awry.
The two youths whose photo Harry briefly glimpsed in Rita Skeeter's book are the teen-aged Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. Harry will see the photo again in a later chapter and read not only the caption but the associated chapter of Skeeter's muck-raking book. As a result, Harry's already-shaken faith in Dumbledore will be eroded even further.
Chapter 14: The Thief
Harry, Ron, and Hermione find themselves lying on the ground in a forest. At first, Harry thinks it is the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts, but quickly realizes the trees are too young. Ron's shoulder has been severely Splinched while Disapparating. Hermione treats his injury with Essence of Dittany, though he remains faint from shock and blood loss. Hermione says she Disapparated them from Grimmauld Place because Yaxley grabbed her when Harry Apparated there. Hermione jinxed him, then Apparated them to the forest where the Quidditch World Cup was held. It is unlikely they can return to Grimmauld Place. As Hermione has been a Secret Keeper since Dumbledore's death and led Yaxley to Grimmauld Place, it is probably now known to him. Harry blames himself for losing their hiding place, wasting time to retrieve Moody's magical eye.
Remembering how quickly Death Eaters found them at the Tottenham Court Road, Harry and Ron debate whether they should stay or move on, but Ron is too weak to travel. As Hermione casts the protective spells, Harry summons the tent from her bag. Ron stops Hermione from speaking Voldemort's name, saying it "feels" jinxed and requests that Harry and Hermione refrain from using it.
Hermione retrieves the egg-sized Locket, which bears the initial "S" inset in small green stones on its cover. Harry determines it must be opened before it can be destroyed, but it is tightly shut. Ron detects a small heartbeat within, but Harry and Hermione are uncertain if they hear or feel anything. To keep it safe until it can be destroyed, Harry places it around his neck. He and Hermione then prepare to stand guard using Harry's Sneakoscope.
Standing watch, Harry starts having awful thoughts. Rather than feeling elated over finding the Locket Horcrux, Harry feels lost, unsure how to proceed, and clueless as to how to destroy the Horcrux. Though worried about Kreacher's safety, Hermione and Harry had decided against summoning him, fearing a Death Eater may come by side-along apparition. And his scar is hurting again.
Harry slips inside Voldemort's mind again and sees an old man suspended upside down. Voldemort, addressing the man as Gregorovitch, demands something that Gregorovitch claims was stolen from him long ago. Voldemort enters Gregorovitch's memories and sees a tall, blond man who Stuns Gregorovitch before exiting through a window. When Voldemort kills Gregorovitch, Harry returns to himself. Hermione dismisses the notion that he was reading Voldemort's mind, then takes over the watch. Inside the tent, Harry tells Ron about Gregorovitch's memory, and thinks he has seen the blond thief before. Ron wonders why Voldemort would kill Gregorovitch if he wanted him to make a new wand or if Voldemort was trying to create another Horcrux. Harry thinks Voldemort's soul may be too shredded to allow for another Horcrux. Harry falls asleep wondering about the blond thief. With Gregorovitch gone, the man's life is in danger now.
Until now, Dumbledore's quest has mainly tested the Trio's intellectual and magical prowess rather than their physical abilities. Now, forced to leave their cozy hiding place, they must endure the harsh environment while on the run, coping with the oncoming cold winter weather, limited food supplies, and being cut off from their allies, who at least knew their location, and could communicate if needed. Losing their headquarters is a huge blow to the mission, but fortunately, Hermione was well prepared for this eventuality and had packed everything they need inside her bag. However, despite Hermione providing them with a snug tent containing a kitchen, bunks, and other necessities, it hardly compares to Grimmauld Place's amenities and Kreacher's attentive care. The hardship could cause the Trio's morale to plunge to an all-time low. But they may have needed just such an incentive to force them into leaving Grimmauld Place and searching more aggressively for the other Horcruxes, rather than sequestering themselves in an endless attempt to hypothesize what and where they might be.
This unexpected shift in the mission's direction also focuses attention on each Trio member's character. For the recuperating Ron, used to three hot meals a day and comfortable living conditions, the quest's increasing hardships may prove especially difficult. Ron has always seemed less suited for the mission than Harry and Hermione, but his having been raised in the Wizarding world does allow him to contribute in ways they are unable. His ability to detect a "heartbeat" within the Locket while the others cannot and "feeling" that Voldemort's name could be jinxed, may indicate that he has far more magical ability than he ever realized. These emerging traits could be a major turning point in Ron's maturation and magical development. However, his severe injury and being emotionally burdened by knowing that his family is in grave danger if it is ever discovered that he is helping Harry, could prove to be a set-back.
Hermione reacting incorrectly under stress is seen again here. While it is almost certainly true that Yaxley is now privy to Number 12, Grimmauld Place's location, this does not automatically make him a Secret Keeper as Hermione mistakenly believes. She may be over-generalizing from her own experience. It is true that having been privy to the secret, Hermione has become a Secret-Keeper herself, but that happened only because Dumbledore, the original Secret-Keeper, had died. For Yaxley to become a Secret-Keeper for the house's location at Grimmauld Place, it would be necessary for the person who revealed that secret to him, in this case Harry, who was the prime mover in the Apparition, to die. So long as Harry remains alive, Yaxley can enter the house, but he is unable to reveal where it is to any other person. Snape remains far more threatening, as he is a Secret Keeper and so can freely divulge Grimmauld Place's location. The one factor that increases the risk is that Yaxley now knows that three Order members were still resident at Grimmauld Place, which might inspire Snape to reveal that secret, or cause Voldemort to force Snape to reveal it, if he has discovered that Snape is a Secret Keeper. Just why Snape never entered the house while the Trio was there, or shared this information with other Death Eaters so they could enter, is puzzling.
Harry's using magic to Summon the Dittany from Hermione's bag is partly a demonstration. When the Trio fled the wedding to Tottenham Court Road, the two Death Eaters found them immediately, though Harry did not cast any magic before the Death Eaters arrived. Since then, all the magic that Harry had performed was while he was at Grimmauld Place or within the Ministry of Magic, two locations where it would be undetectable. This was the first time that he performed magic in the open. If Harry still carried the Trace that detects underage magic, as he suspected he was, this first unprotected use of magic would have brought Death Eaters, but it did not. Therefore, there must have been some other mechanism that allowed the Death Eaters to find him; Ron may have some idea regarding what that is.
Once again, despite nearly being killed or captured, the Trio was reluctant to inflict harm on an enemy, even under combat conditions. Other Order of the Phoenix members probably would have executed or incarcerated Yaxley, whom Hermione believes has now become a Secret Keeper and can expose Grimmauld Place's location to Voldemort. Hermione instead opted to Disapparate the Trio to the countryside, sacrificing their hiding place rather than take a life. Apart from killing Yaxley or Stunning and turning him over to the Order of the Phoenix to deal with, Hermione presumably also had the option of incapacitating him and then working a Memory Charm on him, though Hermione may be aware that Memory Charms can be ineffective when Voldemort counters them. Apparently, however, the chaotic and dangerous situation is perhaps preventing her from thinking or acting rationally, and likely caused her to panic.
Knowing that Voldemort is searching for Gregorovitch, a wandmaker, it initially seems apparent that Voldemort wants a new wand or is looking for an explanation as to why Harry's wand always defeats his own. No matter what wand Voldemort wields, Harry's wand seems impervious. If Voldemort only wanted a new wand, presumably he would have Gregorovitch make him one, with the expectation that a wand made by a different artisan would be protected from the same fate as the other wands he used on Harry. As was seen with Mr. Ollivander, Voldemort's persuasion techniques tend to leave an artisan in a rather unsuitable state to perform fine craftsmanship. However, having found Gregorovitch, Voldemort asks him about something he is thought to have once owned. Although Gregorovitch claims he never possessed it, Voldemort sees in his memory that someone stole it from him; it is unknown what that object was or who the thief might be. As Voldemort then murders Gregorovitch, it seems our assumption about Voldemort wanting to have a new wand made is incorrect. What, then, is Voldemort seeking?
- Why did Hermione choose this location to Apparate to?
- Why is Hermione angry at Harry for watching Voldemort's thoughts?
- What does Harry see in Voldemort's vision?
- Why would Voldemort seek out and then kill Gregorovitch?
- What does Ron mean when he says that Voldemort's name feels like a jinx? Why makes him think this?
- Why do the Harry and Hermione respect Ron's request not to Speak Voldemort's name?
- Why is Ron able to detect a "heartbeat" within the Locket, while the other two cannot?
- Why does Harry have awful thoughts while he is taking the watch? What might those thoughts be?
- Who might the blond thief be?
- Considering the mental connection that exists between Harry and Voldemort, why does Hermione dismiss the notion that Harry is reading Voldemort's mind?
- How might losing their comfortable hiding place actually help the Trio's mission?
Ron becomes more adversely affected by close physical contact with the Locket Horcrux than the other two, somewhat akin to Harry initially being more sensitive to Dementors than others. The Locket does also seem to have an immediate effect on Harry when he first wears it, but, unlike Ron, who increasingly grows agitated and hostile, Harry experiences despair. He realizes in the next chapter that the Locket is engendering this emotion only after Hermione relieves him of it, causing him to immediately feel better.
Ron's instinct that Voldemort's name feels "jinxed" will prove to be more than mere superstition on his part. Voldemort's name has been tabooed; anyone speaking it immediately alerts Death Eaters and Snatchers, Voldemort's bounty hunters, to their location. Voldemort knows that unlike most other Wizards, Order of the Phoenix members in general, and Harry in particular, do not fear speaking his name, thus making it easy to locate them. This is yet another example of Harry's predictable behavior often being used against him, just as when he revealed his presence by executing what has become his signature spell, during the attack while leaving the Dursley house.
Although Harry's presence remained undetected when he uttered Voldemort's name inside Grimmauld Place, speaking it may have broken some protective charms on the building. We do not know why it did not seem to; possibly it was the age of the protective spells, or that the protective spells were cast by a Dark wizard that prevented it from breaking. Additionally, Grimmauld Place being unplottable may make it impossible to determine exactly where Harry is. It is possible that the magically-enforced taboo caused Harry to experience another painful session inside Voldemort's mind immediately after he spoke his name. Ron's twitchiness about Voldemort's name has resulted in it being largely unspoken to date, and that continues through this chapter and several more.
The object Voldemort seeks is the Elder Wand, one of the three titular Deathly Hallows. Voldemort, raised in a Muggle orphanage, has never heard of the Deathly Hallows; he knew nothing about the Resurrection Stone when he made Gaunt's ring into a Horcrux, and he has never searched for Death's Invisibility Cloak. The Elder Wand, however, has its own history apart from the Hallows, and that attracted Voldemort's attention. It is certain that Dumbledore knew what powers the wand he wielded contained, and also that Harry, if he learned they existed, might try to find all three Hallows. While Dumbledore realized that Harry needed to learn about the Hallows, because Voldemort was searching for the Elder Wand, Dumbledore believed that the Horcruxes were the greater danger, and so acted to delay Harry learning about the Hallows and their properties.
Also, though Harry's wand has grown more powerful and it has easily defeated any wand that Voldemort has wielded thus far, Harry will soon learn that his own wand is not indestructible.
It will be revealed later that the young blond thief is the evil Wizard Grindelwald, who Dumbledore defeated in a duel, thus capturing the Elder Wand.
Chapter 15: The Goblin's Revenge
Before Ron and Hermione awaken, Harry buries Moody's magical eye under a tree. They then shift camp to a small town, but Harry is unable to enter because Dementors are present. Ron is amazed; normally, Harry produces an excellent Patronus, but he now seems incapable. Hermione suspects the Horcrux may be affecting him. Harry immediately feels better when she takes it from him, but, remembering everything he did while wearing it, believes he was not possessed. He overrules Hermione's suggestion that they only carry the Locket, fearing it could be lost. Hermione suggests taking turns wearing it.
The Trio wanders the countryside, camping in a new location each night. Harry, Ron, and Hermione endlessly debate where the other Horcruxes could be. Harry is adamant that one is at Hogwarts, that being the only place Tom Riddle ever considered home. Ron thinks Dumbledore would have found it by now, but Harry reminds him that Dumbledore never claimed to know every Hogwarts secret. They find Tom Riddle's orphanage in London, but it has been demolished and replaced by offices. Hermione's suggestion to search the foundation is vetoed.
As they travel throughout the country, Ron, used to three hot meals a day, becomes increasingly annoyed with Hermione's cooking attempts. One night, Harry hears someone. Hermione silently deals out Extendable Ears. Ted Tonks, the Goblin, Griphook, and his compatriot, Gornuk can be heard talking nearby. Also nearby is Dean Thomas and someone named Dirk, who was being transported to Azkaban but escaped. According to Dirk, Griphook told him that several Hogwarts students, including Ginny, sneaked into Snape's office and broke into the case containing the Sword of Gryffindor. They were caught and given detention. About a week later, Snape transferred the Sword to the Lestranges' Gringotts vault. But Griphook immediately recognized the sword was a Wizard-made fake. Dirk also mentions that the students had been "cruelly punished." The group now believes that Harry Potter was telling the truth about Snape killing Dumbledore, and anyone wanting to know what is really happening should read The Quibbler. Lately, Xeno Lovegood has been publishing truthful stories, without mentioning Crumple-Horned Snorkacks.
Shortly after, the party moves off. Hermione pulls out Phineas Nigellus' portrait. She blindfolds him so he is unable to report their location. Phineas updates them about Ginny, Neville, and Luna, whose punishment was working in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. When asked about the Sword, Phineas explains that Goblin armor rejects ordinary dirt, accepting only that which makes it stronger. Harry wants Dumbledore brought from his office portrait, but the former Headmasters can only travel to their own portraits outside Hogwarts and to other portraits within the castle, nowhere else. Phineas, however, says that Dumbledore used the Sword to break open a ring.
Harry and Hermione realize that the Sword absorbed Basilisk venom when Harry killed the Basilisk with it. Now it can destroy Horcruxes, but they have no idea where the Sword is located. When Harry asks Ron for his opinion, he appears unenthusiastic and agitated, and accuses Harry of not knowing what he is doing. A heated argument erupts, and Ron nearly attacks Harry. Hermione casts a shield charm to block him. Ron removes the Locket and threatens to leave; when Hermione refuses to go with him, Ron storms off into the night, Disapparating.
This chapter is critical in that it reveals not only that Dumbledore destroyed the Ring Horcrux, but also that there is an additional way to use Basilisk venom to eliminate Horcruxes. Until this point, the only known venom source is the Basilisk fangs in the Chamber of Secrets underneath Hogwarts. Harry, apparently, is reluctant to return to Hogwarts, possibly fearing Snape. Now, we discover that the Sword of Gryffindor, which absorbed venom from the Basilisk that Harry killed, can be used to destroy Horcruxes. While a Basilisk fang or Gryffindor's Sword is needed to dispatch Horcruxes, the sword that was in Snape's office and is now secured in a vault at Gringotts Bank is only a replica and will not do the job. The problem now is, where is the real Sword of Gryffindor hidden and who might be hiding it?
Meanwhile, the mission suffers a severe blow with Ron's abrupt departure, which was motivated by several factors. Ron is affected more by the Horcrux Locket than the other two, so that his angers and fears are exacerbated to a greater extent whenever he wears the Locket. This often leaves him in a downbeat and negative mood. Additionally, compared to Harry who always suffered miserably at the Dursleys, Ron enjoyed everyday creature comforts, regular meals at home and Hogwarts, and being coddled by his overly-protective mother; his family situation thus left him more dependent than Harry and less self-sufficient than Hermione. Moreover, Ron as the youngest son had always been content to tag along after his older brothers, and is now doing the same with Harry and Hermione. Likely this is in part because he thought Harry knew more about what he was doing, and that Dumbledore had told Harry what to do. Even though Harry had strongly discouraged him from joining his mission, Ron had insisted on going, mostly out of loyalty and friendship. But injury, harsh living conditions, frustration with Harry's seeming indecisiveness, knowing his sister suffered punishment at Hogwarts, and constant worry about his family, coupled with the Locket's Darkness so strongly exerted upon him, have left Ron unable to control his anger and impatience. Eavesdropping on the other party, and hearing them preparing salmon when the best Hermione could manage was a bony pike, seems to have pushed him past his limit, resulting in Ron's lashing out at Harry. Harry, equally frustrated by what little and confusing information Dumbledore left him, and by his long-running uncertainty about what he could do once he found a Horcrux, is unable to contain his own temper and flares back at Ron, resulting in the Ron's departure.
Although his full name is not mentioned here, the Dirk who is traveling with Ted Tonks may be Dirk Cresswell, one-time head of the Goblin Liaison Office in the Ministry of Magic. This would explain why he was traveling with Griphook, as well as suggest why he had to leave the Ministry—in an earlier chapter, we saw that Dirk had been investigated and "found" to have Muggle ancestry.
- Why did Hermione want to search the building foundation where Voldemort's orphanage used to be? What might she have expected to find? Why are Harry and Ron against this?
- Why does Ron abruptly leave the Trio? What might be affecting his decision?
- Why does Hermione distrust Phineas Nigellus enough that she blindfolds him whenever she summons him to his portrait? Why didn't she worry about this while at Grimmauld Place?
- Could Phineas have revealed their presence to anyone while they were there, and who might that be?
- Why does Hermione take on the cooking task? Is the author assigning her a traditional female role for a reason?
- Why does Harry bury Moody's magical eye, rather than keep it? Could it have been used to aid their mission? If so, how?
- Why doesn't the Trio make contact with the other parties they hear in the woods, especially knowing that friends like Dean Thomas and Ted Tonks are among them?
- Why would the Quibbler, a paper known for its outlandish stories, now publish the "truth" about Harry Potter? How can it be trusted to be the truth?
- The Trio overhear that Ginny, Neville, and Luna were "severely" punished for attempting to steal Gryffindor's sword, yet Phineas Nigellus' portrait tells them that Snape only assigned the students detention in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. Why would Snape give them such a light punishment for such a serious offense?
- Knowing that Basilisk venom destroys Horcruxes, why doesn't the Trio sneak into Hogwarts to collect its fangs from the Chamber of Secrets to use as weapons?
- Each Trio member was affected emotionally and physically by wearing the Locket Horcrux. Did Dolores Umbridge suffer any ill-effects while she wore it? Why, or why not?
We recall that Harry had destroyed Riddle's Diary with a Basilisk fang, and that Hermione had mentioned Basilisk venom as being among the rare items able to destroy a Horcrux. The reader may wonder why the Trio has not gone to Hogwarts to gather the dead monster's fangs that are still lying in the Chamber of Secrets and use them to destroy the Horcruxes, rather than beginning what now seems to be a nearly impossible quest for the Sword which could be anywhere. While that may seem logical, this apparently never occurred to them while planning the mission. If it had, and it was earlier on, they should have been able to safely return to Hogwarts while it was still under McGonagall's command and before Snape's return. However, it is probably a safe assumption that if the Trio realizes this now, Harry would probably only be able to enter Hogwarts once; he is unable to easily flit in, nab a fang, and nip back out again. Even with his Invisibility Cloak, Harry knows that Snape might detect his presence using Legilimancy, thus forcing Harry to stand and fight. Nor can an ally there retrieve and smuggle a fang to him because the Chamber of Secrets can only be opened by someone speaking Parseltongue, though Ron later overcomes this particular obstacle. With Snape now Headmaster and the Carrows teaching Muggle Studies and Dark Arts, there is now a permanent Death Eater presence at the school that, at least from the Trio's perspective, would make such an intrusion seem nearly impossible. Unknown to the Trio just yet, Snape would likely have avoided interfering.
When the Trio must return to Hogwarts later in the book, it is Ron who realizes that the fangs can destroy Horcruxes, and he devises a way to enter the Chamber. Until then, Hogwarts is effectively inaccessible to the Trio, and, after hearing that the Sword is no longer at Hogwarts, Harry believes he no longer needs to go there to destroy the Locket Horcrux. Later, he learns that another soul shard is hidden at the school, forcing his return. For now, it is a great relief to him, and us, to know how Horcruxes can be destroyed without recourse to the Basilisk fangs in the Chamber, even if the Trio must still locate Gryffindor's real Sword with its Basilisk-venom infusion. It becomes clearer why Dumbledore attempted to bequeath the Sword to Harry. It is also logical to assume that it was Dumbledore who switched the real Sword for the fake one, with the intention that Harry would then find the genuine blade to destroy the Horcruxes. It will be revealed that Dumbledore knew he only had a short time left to live, which is probably when he included Gryffindor's Sword in his will as a clue that Harry would need it. Dumbledore apparently also arranged for an, as yet, unknown ally to dispatch the real Sword to Harry in an upcoming chapter.
To Ron's credit, he does attempt to rejoin the group immediately after his angry departure, but he runs into some unexpected trouble. Also, Dumbledore had anticipated that Ron, being the most immature and least prepared, might fail the mission at some point. Dumbledore's bequest to Ron, (the Deluminator), is actually a means for him to find his way back, should he ever become separated from the Trio, as Ron unexpectedly discovers later.
Chapter 16: Godric's Hollow
Harry awakens the next morning half-expecting Ron to be in his bunk, but finds it empty. Harry and Hermione delay packing, knowing Ron will be unable to find them once they leave. Unable to wait any longer, they Disapparate to a wind-swept hillside. Hermione breaks down in sobs, while Harry casts the protective spells around their campsite. For the next few days, Harry watches for Ron's dot on his Marauder's Map, certain he has returned to Hogwarts, but it never appears. At night, Harry and Hermione spend hours discussing where Dumbledore could have hidden Gryffindor's Sword. Harry is uncertain if he is angrier at Ron for leaving, or at Dumbledore for failing to give him more information. Ron's words haunt him: "We thought you knew what you were doing . . . We thought Dumbledore had told you what to do . . . We thought you had a real plan!" Ron was right; Dumbledore left him with virtually nothing, and the remaining Horcruxes are still just as unattainable.
At night, Hermione brings out Phineas Nigellus' portrait. Despite his threat never to visit it again but curious for information, he agrees to show up blindfolded every few days. Phineas only sporadically reveals information about Hogwarts, although Harry and Hermione learn about a low-level student mutiny. Snape has reinstated Dolores Umbridge's decree prohibiting three or more students from gathering or any unofficial student societies, although Harry speculates that Ginny, Luna, and Neville have probably revived Dumbledore's Army. Harry briefly yearns for Hogwarts' comforts, only to remember he is "Undesirable Number One."
The weather grows colder, and the two constantly move to new locations throughout the country. Christmas trees begin appearing in sitting room windows. Hermione shows Harry a strange hand-drawn symbol in The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She is unable to decipher it, but has determined it is something other than an eye icon or an ancient rune in the syllabary. Harry recognizes it as the same triangular symbol Xenophilius was wearing at the wedding. Krum had claimed it was Grindelwald's mark. Someone drawing a Dark mark in a children's book is puzzling to Hermione. Meanwhile, Harry, curious about his history, proposes going to Godric's Hollow; surprisingly, Hermione agrees, believing Dumbledore may have hidden the Sword in Godric Gryffindor's birthplace. She pulls out A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot and reads a passage about Godric Gryffindor. Harry remembers Ginny's Aunt Muriel telling him at the wedding that Bathilda Bagshot still lived in Godric's Hollow. Both silently notice that Harry deliberately avoided referring to Muriel as Ron's aunt. A thought suddenly occurs to Hermione—maybe Dumbledore entrusted the Sword to Bathilda.
Harry and Hermione immediately make plans to go to Godric's Hollow. Hermione first wants to practice Disapparating together under the Invisibility Cloak, plus a few other spells, but Harry only thinks about seeing his birthplace. It is another week before they depart for Godric's Hollow. Using some Muggle hairs that Hermione obtained for the Polyjuice Potion, they transform into a middle-aged couple. They Disapparate under the Invisibility Cloak to Godric's Hollow, but once there, Harry suggests removing the Cloak. A war memorial in the town square suddenly transforms into a statue of a man and a woman holding an infant. Astonished, Harry recognizes the two figures as his parents, and the baby as himself. While looking inside a church cemetery, they unexpectedly discover Kendra and Ariana Dumbledore's graves; Harry again wonders why Dumbledore never shared their common roots. On the grave marker is the inscription: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," though Harry is uncertain what it means. While searching for the Potters' graves, Hermione spots something. Carved on an old tombstone is the same symbol that was in the book and that Xenophilius wore. The stone's letters are badly weathered, and only the first name, Ignotus, can be read.
They continue hunting until Hermione calls out, "Harry, they're here . . . right here." The Potters' white marble headstone is only two rows behind Kendra and Ariana. Below James and Lily's names is the inscription: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death
Confused, Harry thinks this sounds like a Death Eater concept, but Hermione says it means to defeat death by existing beyond it. Its meaning provides little comfort to Harry, knowing his parents' moldering remains lie beneath the frozen ground. He sobs a bit, and Hermione takes his hand. Harry feels bad that he forgot to bring something for his parents, but Hermione, unasked, conjures a wreath of roses that Harry lays on the graves. They quietly turn to leave the cemetery.
Although Harry wanted to "go it alone" on this mission, he now sorely misses Ron's presence and realizes how much he relied on his help and friendship. This may be a crucial turning point for Harry in learning to trust others and accept their help. He currently only has Hermione for support, but this could place an ever greater burden on her. Ron's painful absence also shows a sharp contrast to Hermione's steadfast loyalty, and it is doubtful that Harry could have gotten as far as he has without her assistance. In the past, he and Ron have tended to dismiss her contributions and abilities except when they needed specific information about something. Her careful planning and foresight has allowed the Trio to move relatively efficiently and comfortably throughout the country during their Horcrux search. Her diligent research methods and cool, logical mind will continue to be a useful resource to the mission. However, living by her wits and surviving day-to-day in a life-threatening situation have also greatly improved her practical skills and abilities, forcing her to also rely on intuition, speculation, and immediate action rather than always poring over books for definitive answers before taking action. Her quick, sharp reflexes have repeatedly saved the Trio from disaster, as when she Disapparated them away from Bill and Fleur's wedding and Grimmauld Place, and may do so again in future chapters.
Seeing Kendra and Ariana's tombstone disturbs Harry nearly as much as his own parents' graves. This reminder that Dumbledore had a hidden history, or that Harry never asked about it, reignites Harry's anger and confusion over Dumbledore's cryptic plan. The inscription on the gravestone, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," further frustrates Harry, who fails to understand how deeply Dumbledore loved his mother and sister. Harry again wonders why Dumbledore never revealed their common roots, though Skeeter's book leads us to believe the Dumbledore family only moved to Godric's Hollow to keep Ariana's condition hidden. Also, having discovered Ariana's existence causes Harry to ponder how much truth might actually back Rita Skeeter's book.
It is interesting to note that the Potters' statue is (appropriately) disguised as a war memorial. Not only did James and Lily fight against Voldemort in life, but they continue their battle in death through their son, Harry.
- Why do Harry and Hermione avoid mentioning Ron's name?
- Why has Harry never been taken to visit Godric's Hollow and his parents' home and graves, despite it being a monument to their memories?
- Who might Ignotus be?
- The symbol on Ignotus' tombstone appears to be the same one Xeno Lovegood wore at the wedding, that Grindelwald used, and that was drawn in Dumbledore's copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. How might they be tied together?
- Why does Phineas Nigellus Black continually give Harry and Hermione updates about Hogwarts? Can this information be trusted? Explain why or why not.
- What might the inscription, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” mean? Who likely chose those words for Ariana and Kendra's grave stone and why?
- Who might have chosen the inscription for the Potters' tombstone? Is Hermione's interpretation of it correct, or could it mean something else entirely? Explain.
- Harry searches for Ron on the Marauders' Map but is unable to find him at Hogwarts. Where might Ron be and what could he be doing?
- Harry has no idea where to search for Gryffindor's Sword, although there is something that once helped him to obtain it. What is this, and why doesn't it occur to Harry? How difficult would it be to obtain this item?
Although Harry has abandoned his dream to be reunited with his dead parents, when he learns about the Deathly Hallows (and the Resurrection Stone), this possibility will be revived.
Harry and Hermione have no idea where to search for Gryffindor's Sword, and they are taking a huge gamble and using precious time in hope that Dumbledore hid it in Godric's Hollow. However, there could be another way to retrieve the Sword. Readers likely will remember that in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry pulled Gryffindor's Sword from the Sorting Hat when he fought the Basilisk. While this could be one possible way to obtain the Sword, neither Harry or Hermione considers it. There is certainly no guarantee that the Sorting Hat can or would provide the Sword on demand, or if it is at all possible to obtain the Hat that is safely secured in the Hogwarts Headmaster's office. Even if Harry's allies inside Hogwarts attempted to retrieve it, given the Castle's tight security, it could be a difficult undertaking for any student, even resourceful Dumbledore's Army members, to breach the Headmaster's office, particularly now that Snape is in residence there. And given Ginny, Luna, and Neville's previous unsuccessful attempt to steal the Sword of Gryffindor, their punishment could potentially be far more severe for a second offence. However, as the Sorting Hat may generally be considered an innocuous magical object that Harry would not be seeking, it is plausible that it could be removed from the Headmaster's office, possibly with Professor McGonagall's help. Also, considering how effortlessly Hermione was able to Summon the restricted books from Dumbledore's study, the Sorting Hat might likewise be retrieved. However, Snape, likely aware that the Sorting Hat has this ability, may have taken steps to protect it.
Harry will eventually obtain Gryffindor's Sword, not with the Sorting Hat, but with help from an unidentified ally. However, the Sorting Hat will again prove important later in the story when it provides Gryffindor's Sword to Neville Longbottom, who Harry tasks with destroying a remaining Horcrux should he, Ron, or Hermione be unable to.
The inscription on Lily and James' grave seems to reflect a Death Eater sensibility to Harry, and Hermione's counter-explanation feels weak to him, as it does to us. Reflecting on this inscription, we must wonder who wrote it. It is, of course, originally from the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:26), although one wonders if Rowling expects her readers to pick up on this. It is unlikely that it was authored by James or Lily, as they were quite young, and had likely given little thought to what would come after their deaths. As he was a close friend, it is possible that it would have been written by Dumbledore. If it was, we can see that the inscription proceeds from the story of the Deathly Hallows, and the belief that the one who controls all three Hallows can conquer Death. The Hallows would be close to the surface of Dumbledore's mind at that point. In addition to the Hallow that he himself possessed, he was also examining another of the three Hallows, the Invisibility Cloak, that he had borrowed from James. Dumbledore might have suffered a shade of guilt, thinking that with the Cloak, Harry's parents may have evaded Voldemort. For whatever reason, though, the inscription does seem to tally with a later declaration of the Hallows' power, better than it does either with Hermione's explanation or with Harry's understanding.
Chapter 17: Bathilda's Secret
As they depart the cemetery, Hermione is positive she saw something move in the distance. Harry thinks it may be a ghost, but Hermione draws her wand. Seeing dislodged snow by the bushes where Hermione was pointing, Harry surmises that if it was Death Eaters, they would be dead now. They put on the Invisibility Cloak, glancing around as they leave. Heading down a street, they have no idea where Bathilda Bagshot’s house might be. They come upon an overgrown hedge surrounding a ruined cottage, most of which is still standing, but one side has been blown apart. On the gate, a sign appears:
On this spot, on the night of 31 October 1981, Lily and James Potter lost their lives. Their son, Harry, remains the only wizard ever to have survived the Killing Curse. This house, invisible to Muggles, has been left in its ruined state as a monument to the Potters and as a reminder of the violence that tore apart their family.
Messages from visitors are scribbled on the sign. Hermione thinks this is disrespectful, but it cheers Harry, who feels only gratitude. A mysterious, elderly woman approaches. Even though she is obviously a magical person, Harry is surprised and suspicious that she can see through the Invisibility Cloak. Harry asks if she is Bathilda Bagshot; she nods and leads them to a house with a garden as overgrown as the Potter residence. Inside, Harry whiffs a foul odor clinging to her, though it may be the house, which is covered by thick dust. Harry hears Bathilda calling, "Come!" from another room, causing Hermione to jump. Harry spots photographs atop a dresser and removes the dust. A half-dozen photos are missing from their ornate frames, but Harry recognizes a young blond man in one as the same person in Rita Skeeter’s book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. Despite Harry repeatedly asking who it is, Bathilda only vaguely stares at him, causing Harry to wonder how she was able to tell Rita Skeeter much about the Dumbledore clan. Harry tells Hermione that the man in the photo is the thief he saw in Voldemort's mind, who stole the item from Gregorovitch.
Bathilda motions for only Harry to go upstairs with her; as he follows her, Harry pockets the thief's photo. Harry asks if she has something for him. Bathilda's eyes close, and Harry feels his scar prickle and the Locket Horcrux twitch against his chest as the room momentarily darkens. Joy surges through his body, and he hears his own voice saying, "Hold him!" Harry inspects the dressing table that Bathilda points to, but turning, he witnesses a revolting sight: a huge snake pours from what was Bathilda's neck, her lifeless body collapsing to the floor. Nagini attacks, biting Harry's arm and sending his wand flying. The resulting noise brings Hermione frantically running upstairs. Releasing Harry, Nagini lunges at Hermione, barely missing her. Harry, grabbing his dropped wand, yells that Voldemort is coming. Nagini lunges again as Harry drags Hermione across the bed. Hermione casts Confringo, and the spell ricochets around the room, burning Harry's hand, as they leap out the window. Voldemort, grasping at Harry, screams in fury as he and Hermione Disapparate; his anger sears Harry's scar.
Pain mingles with Voldemort's memories of a cold, fateful night sixteen years before: Hallowe'en costumes, a father's smile, a toddler playing on the floor inside a cozy house. Outside, a gate creaks open as a dark figure strides through. A man yells, "Lily, take Harry and go! It's him. Go! Run! I'll hold him off!" More screams, then green flashes, and a woman's crumpled body lies upon the nursery floor. One final flash, and pain-shot darkness. Then, through Voldemort's eyes, Harry sees Bathilda's bedroom again as Voldemort retrieves the dropped photo of the thief.
Hermione's voice pierces the void, pleading for him to awake. Opening his eyes, Harry sees he is inside the tent. It is hours after their escape and Harry has been ill; Hermione used the Hover charm to get him into his bunk and a Severing charm to pry the stuck Locket from his chest. Dittany healed Nagini's bite wounds. While Harry relived Voldemort's memories, he was delirious, moaning and screaming. Harry relates how Nagini was hidden inside Bathilda's corpse, withholding the most gruesome details. Nagini only spoke to Harry when they were alone because it was in Parseltongue. Nagini immediately summoned Voldemort when Harry identified himself. Harry asks for his wand, but Hermione tearfully confesses that it is broken, probably by her ricocheting spell. Stunned, Harry asks that she try repairing it with her wand, but like Ron's fractured wand that never worked the same, Harry's wand is too badly damaged, and it snaps in half again when he tests it. With Ollivander held captive by Voldemort, Harry is unsure how he will obtain another wand. Though clearly upset, Harry tells Hermione she is not to blame, then borrows her wand to take the watch, wanting to be away from her. Hermione sits by the bunk quietly sobbing.
Harry confronts death in Godric's Hollow, but rather than witnessing it hot and fresh as when Dumbledore, Cedric Diggory, and Sirius Black were killed, he now sees only its cold, decayed aftermath, dimming his hope to ever be reunited with his mother and father. Harry's own recollections of that tragic night are faint, limited to a green flash and his mother's screams. While inside Voldemort's memories, he was able to see the entire horrendous event as it unfolded through Voldemort's eyes. Not only does this reopen old wounds, it creates new ones that only intensify his grief and despair. But as painful as those memories are, they also provide him a clearer picture regarding what actually happened on that cold, long-ago night, tying him closer to his parents and clarifying his role in vanquishing the Dark Lord.
Visiting his parents' graves, and seeing the destroyed cottage in which he once lived, deeply disturbs Harry, driving home the reality that the tragic events sixteen years before were real. Until now, these were merely sad stories told to Harry, but seeing the graves and the house in person is emotionally wrenching, and it serves to fully integrate him into past events. And while Harry has always harbored a slim hope that magic would somehow reunite him with his dead parents, seeing their forlorn, final resting place forces him to confront death's finality and accept that the dead can only live on in this world through others' memories. Harry is comforted and uplifted, however, by the kind messages visitors have left at the Potter's residence over the years.
Harry's difficult childhood has resulted in his never fully trusting or relying on others, and he usually prefers to confront most situations alone. He has made great strides in overcoming this trait, however, learning to accept friends' and mentors' support and guidance, though some, like Ron and Dumbledore, have also failed him. He takes a great leap of faith here when he willingly follows the mysterious elderly woman, believing she is Bathilda Bagshot and trusting that she can help. This time Harry's reasoning proves faulty. Even the decision to go to Godric's Hollow was driven more by a desire to see his birthplace, visit James and Lily's graves, and resolve his conflicted feelings about Dumbledore, rather than to uncover clues relating to their mission; the error nearly costs Harry and Hermione their lives. It is uncertain if Harry can ever show that much faith in the unknown again. It is also a little surprising that Hermione, who is usually far more cautious and suspicious than either Ron or Harry, not only suggested going to Godric's Hollow, but agreed to follow the old woman, despite her odd behavior. Hermione did express discomfort with the situation more than once, and so the most likely reason for her behavior is that she did not want to argue with Harry and upset him so soon after his emotional encounter with his parents' graves.
Readers can again see to what extremes the despicable Rita Skeeter will go to obtain information. She likely used some magical means, probably a memory charm or Veritaserum, to extract the vulnerable Bathilda's faulty memories, then stole the photographs for her book. Skeeter may also be indirectly responsible for poor Bathilda's death, as Voldemort apparently surmised that Skeeter's book could lure Harry to Godric's Hollow and Bathilda to seek information, prompting Voldemort to murder her and set the trap that nearly ensnared Harry and probably would have killed Hermione. The elderly and frail Bathilda may also have succumbed to natural causes or died of shock when Voldemort appeared at her home, allowing Voldemort to simply take advantage of the situation. However, Skeeter's book is likely what drew his attention to Godric's Hollow.
Though Harry assures Hermione she is blameless for breaking his wand, he is clearly upset, leaving Hermione in tears and driving an invisible wedge between them. As with Lupin earlier, Harry's immediate reaction is undeservedly harsh, especially considering Hermione risked her own life to save his. However, Harry, believing that his wand is his only hope against Voldemort, is devastated by its loss, and his logical thinking (and gratitude) has been temporarily displaced by anger and grief, though he quickly realizes Hermione was blameless. The wand's loss is a blow to the mission, but Harry may be more affected by losing a treasured object rather than a valuable weapon.
It is perhaps worth noting here that the conversation about Harry's broken wand is the first time either Harry or Hermione has spoken Ron's name since his departure; it may prove important.
It should also be mentioned that when Harry hears or speaks Parseltongue, he is unable to distinguish it from English. We first saw this when the boa constrictor at the zoo spoke to him in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and explicitly as far back as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where Harry had to imagine he was seeing a living snake before the words he spoke to the Chamber's entrance would emerge in Parseltongue. This explains why Harry was unaware anything was amiss when Nagini, disguised as Bathilda, called from the other room, while Hermione was suddenly startled. Harry heard "Bathilda" saying, "Come", while all Hermione detected was a strange hissing noise.
- How and why do Harry and Hermione react differently to the written messages left outside the Potters' house?
- What happened to the missing photographs in Bathilda's house? What were they likely pictures of?
- Why was Hermione startled when Bathilda called from the other room?
- How could "Bathilda" have recognized Harry and Hermione in their Polyjuice disguises and while they were under the Invisibility Cloak?
- Why did Harry and Hermione decide to follow the old woman, not knowing who she was, and despite her not speaking to them?
- Harry has been confronted by death before, but how is he affected differently by it after seeing his parents' and the Dumbledores' graves?
- Does Harry really blame Hermione for breaking his wand? If so, why? Is he justified feeling the way he does?
- Could Hermione have avoided breaking Harry's wand? Explain why or why not.
- Harry's wand had become very powerful and easily destroyed Lucius Malfoy's wand without Harry casting a curse. Why, then, was Hermione's spell able to break it?
- Why did no one ever check on the elderly and senile Bathilda, a well-known witch, despite her living alone and the garden being overgrown?
- When Voldemort arrived at the Potters' cottage, why did James confront him rather than Disapparate to safety with Lily and baby Harry?
- Why didn't Lily escape with Harry as soon as James shouted out that Voldemort was outside?
Although Harry seriously erred in trusting the "old woman" he believed was Bathilda Bagshot, he will again put his trust in a stranger when one night soon a silvery doe Patronus appears, and he follows it in the hope an ally sent it to help. This time his assumption will be correct, and he will also be reunited with a valued friend.
In a later chapter, Dumbledore's shade will explain that even though Harry's wand had grown very powerful because it imbibed additional power from Voldemort's yew wand (brother to Harry's wand), that power can only be directed against Voldemort, regardless of what wand the Dark Lord may be wielding at the time. Against other wizards, Harry's wand had no greater advantage than before. That is why Hermione was able to accidentally destroy Harry's wand with her own.
Chapter 18: The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
The next morning, Harry is still mourning his lost wand. Without it he feels weak, vulnerable, and stripped naked, as if his magical power died with it. He tucks the broken halves, barely held together by the damaged Phoenix feather, into the Mokeskin pouch around his neck. The Snitch is also inside, and Harry is momentarily tempted to toss it, believing it is as useless as everything else Dumbledore left behind. His fury at Dumbledore is unleashed. In desperation they had gone to Godric's Hollow, believing it held answers and would lead to some secret path laid out by Dumbledore. Instead, they were left groping blindly, without a plan or a map, and it nearly took their lives. Now Harry is without a wand, without the Sword, and the dropped thief's photo has given Voldemort vital information.
Still upset, Hermione timidly brings Harry tea and shows him Rita Skeeter's book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore that she took from Bathilda Bagshot's house. A note sticking out reads: Dear Batty, Thanks for your help. Here's a copy of the book, hope you like it. You said everything, even if you don't remember it. Rita
Harry assures Hermione that he is not angry about his wand, it was only an accident, and he is grateful to her for saving his life. As he rifles through the book, Harry feels perverse pleasure—now he will know Dumbledore's secrets. Harry sees photos of a young Dumbledore and the handsome companion he recognizes as the thief in Gregorovitch's memory. The caption reads: Albus Dumbledore, shortly after his mother's death, with his friend Gellert Grindelwald.
Harry and Hermione exchange incredulous looks—Grindelwald! A chapter titled "The Greater Good", reveals that Dumbledore graduated Hogwarts with many honors and accolades. He and his friend, Elphias Doge cancelled a Grand Tour of Europe after Kendra Dumbledore's sudden death. Although Doge had claimed that Dumbledore made a grand sacrifice to care for his family, the book implies otherwise, quoting several Godric's Hollow citizens. Enid Smeek recounts that Albus did little to curtail his brother Aberforth's wild behavior and kept his sister, Ariana, hidden away. Although the Dumbledores remained reclusive, Bathilda Bagshot reportedly established a friendship with the family. Skeeter claims that while Bathilda's memory may have been affected by age, she was able to extract enough facts to piece together the scandalous story of Kendra's death, which was passed off as a spell backfiring. She also debunks Ariana being sickly and claims Albus had an affinity for the Dark Arts and may have supported Muggle oppression.
The same summer Albus returned to care for the family, Bathilda Bagshot took in her great-nephew, Gellert Grindelwald, a student as brilliant as Dumbledore, who was expelled from Durmstrang. He later became a notorious Dark wizard, though he was relatively unknown in Britain. He and Albus quickly bonded. In a letter to Gellert, Dumbledore writes that he agrees Wizard dominance over Muggles is for the greater good, but they must rule responsibly and only use force when necessary. He believes that was Gellert's mistake at Durmstrang, although he says that if Gellert had not been expelled, then they would never have met. Rita states that this letter proves that Albus Dumbledore once intended to overthrow the Statute of Secrecy and establish wizard rule over Muggles. It contradicts his later stance supporting Muggle-born witches and wizards and protecting Muggles' rights.
But barely two months after their friendship began, Dumbledore and Grindelwald parted ways until their legendary duel. Bathilda Bagshot believed the rift involved Ariana's death. Gellert was present when it happened, and he came home distressed, leaving by Portkey the next day. Aberforth blamed Albus, and they came to blows at the funeral. It was never understood why Aberforth blamed Albus for Ariana's death, though it is speculated that it was related to Albus' friendship with Gellert, who had been expelled from Durmstrang for near-fatal attacks on fellow students.
Gellert went on, some decades later, to head a reign of terror on the continent, eventually becoming the most feared Dark wizard in history at the time. Five years after Grindelwald's assumption of power, Dumbledore finally succumbed to the Wizarding world's pleas to end his vicious rampage in Europe. Questions lingered after Grindelwald's defeat, however. Was it Albus' affection for Grindelwald that delayed his taking action? How and why did Ariana die? Was it an accident or the first attempt at implementing their "Greater Good" plan?
The chapter ends here, and Harry is stunned as he endures yet another loss: Ron, his Phoenix wand, and now his unwavering trust in Dumbledore, who once embodied nothing but goodness and wisdom. Hermione reminds him that Rita Skeeter is the author, but Harry points out Dumbledore's own words in his letter to Grindelwald. Hermione believes that Grindelwald's slogan, "For the Greater Good", probably stemmed from Dumbledore's ideas and became Grindelwald's justification for his atrocities. Those words were reportedly carved over the entrance to "Nurmengard", the prison that held Grindelwald's enemies. Hermione attributes Dumbledore's actions to his youth and losing his family, though Harry counters that they are the same age as he was, and are fighting Dark Arts, not championing them. Harry also points out that Albus had a brother and he kept his Squib sister locked up. Hermione doubts Ariana was a Squib, and insists the Dumbledore they knew would never have allowed Muggle oppression; whatever he believed at seventeen, he chose a different path as an adult and spent his remaining life fighting evil. Hermione surmises Harry is really angry because Dumbledore never revealed this about himself, which Harry acknowledges may be true. But he wonders how Dumbledore could have left him in such a mess, and if he ever really cared about him.
Not only was Godric's Hollow nearly fatal, but Harry and Hermione believe it was a useless dead-end, and Harry is angrier than ever with Dumbledore for having provided so little information for his quest. It is unclear if Dumbledore ever intended for them to go to Godric’s Hollow, but he must have surmised that Harry would visit his birthplace and would suspect information could be hidden there, though Dumbledore may have considered it too risky and obvious a place to secrete clues. Despite their miscalculation, the trip actually proves somewhat productive. As noted, Harry and Hermione come across the odd symbol on an old gravestone that is identical to the symbol inked into The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the book Dumbledore bequeathed to Hermione and the same as the one Xenophilius Lovegood wore at the wedding. Given Viktor Krum's strong reaction to seeing Lovegood wearing it, it would appear that this emblem may have some particularly important, and possibly Dark, meaning attached to it. The symbol's unknown relationship to "Ignotus", the name on the gravestone, is also likely to be significant. Dumbledore may have intended for Harry to find the symbol here, lending further proof to its importance.
Also, Hermione obtains Rita Skeeter's book, which provides valuable information about Dumbledore's past and his previously unknown association with the notorious Dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, who he eventually defeated in a duel. It should be noted that Grindelwald's rise to power on the Continent seems to have occurred during the Second World War, 1939 - 1945, while other evidence in the series dates the friendship of Grindelwald and Dumbledore to 1899. Grindelwald's photo in Bathilda's house also ties him to her and Godric's Hollow. Harry also confronts his own past in Godric's Hollow, and visiting his former home and his parents' graves provides some closure to this sad chapter in his life and will hopefully allow him eventually to move forward emotionally.
Once again, Harry is deeply disappointed by someone he loved and admired. Before, James, Sirius, and Lupin, had, in Harry's opinion, failed in some way. Now, it is Dumbledore. This time, however, Harry is not just disappointed, his faith and loyalty are nearly depleted, and Rita Skeeter seems to have proved his suspicions about Dumbledore. Curiously, despite Skeeter's sullied reputation for fabricating or sensationalizing facts, and Harry's own experience at being victimized by her libelous stories, he readily believes everything in her book. Even Dumbledore's own words seemingly lend credence to Skeeter's claims. Harry's belief may partially be spurred by this, as well as his anger and concerns about Dumbledore's true motives, further fueling Harry's faltering trust and doubts that Dumbledore ever loved him. But Harry fails to remember Dumbledore once telling him, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are." Hermione is likely correct that Harry is more upset that Dumbledore concealed his past from Harry, rather than by what he actually said or did. She points out that despite Dumbledore's early and short-lived flirtation with the Dark Arts and his attraction to its seductive power, that is not the man they knew him to be. Like James Potter, he chose to overcome his earlier flaws and dedicated his remaining life to fighting evil and Muggle oppression. Harry, still entrenched in his own youthful and somewhat naïve idealism, believes goodness and wisdom is a straight, one-way journey from birth throughout adulthood, and he fails to understand that it is often a route filled with roadblocks, detours, side streets, and occasional dark alleys. However far Dumbledore may have strayed from his own true path, he, unlike Grindelwald, found his way back again.
Harry mourning his lost wand shows he lacks confidence in himself and partially explains his displaced anger directed at Hermione. He believes it is his wand, rather than his own magical abilities, that provides his magical power. It is as if he has lost yet another loved one who provided guidance and strength. Like his owl, Hedwig, and, years earlier, his destroyed Nimbus 2000 broomstick, the wand provided comforting security and familiarity, as well as symbolizing his entry into the Wizarding world. He is correct, however, that this wand was special, and it apparently had developed unique powers and qualities that further tied him to Voldemort and his yew wand, although these failed to protect it from Hermione's curse. Its loss is clearly a huge set-back to the mission, and while wizards can use other wands, not just any wand works well. Until Harry can obtain a suitable replacement, he must make do sharing Hermione's. And with Ollivander apparently Voldemort's captive, procuring a new wand will be difficult.
It is noted above that Harry was particularly devastated when he lost his Nimbus 2000 broomstick. Curiously, his destroyed Firebolt, a gift from his late godfather, affected him less deeply. Other events such as Hedwig's death at the same time, Moody's demise during the attack, and Sirius' and Dumbledore's recent murders may have overshadowed its significance to him. Also, it being a few years later, Harry's growing maturity has replaced his need to be overly attached and dependent upon inanimate objects for emotional security and to instead rely on friends and allies for support and comfort, though his broken wand is clearly an exception to that.
As a side note, readers perhaps noticed that J.K. Rowling may be employing some humor when Rita Skeeter informally addresses Bathilda Bagshot in her note as "Batty." That, obviously, is a term for being mentally addled, which Bathilda apparently was in her later years, and probably is what allowed Skeeter to manipulate her into yielding her memories.
- Harry considers the trip to Godric's Hollow as being useless. Was it? If not, why?
- It is not uncommon for a wizard to have more than one wand during their lifetime. Other than inconvenient timing, why is Harry so strongly affected by his wand's loss?
- What was the "Greater Good" and for whose good was it really intended?
- Why is Harry so disappointed in Dumbledore, despite the good man that he was? Is Harry's opinion fair?
- What is Hermione's opinion of why Harry is angry at Dumbledore, and is it accurate?
- Why did Dumbledore keep his past a secret? Was he obligated to reveal it to Harry? Explain.
- How might Rita Skeeter have persuaded Bathilda Bagshot to share her memories about Dumbledore and Grindelwald? How reliable were those memories and would that matter to Skeeter?
- What might have caused the rift between Dumbledore and Grindelwald?
- Was Albus blinded to Grindelwald's true nature, despite his knowing what happened at Durmstrang? What would account for this?
- Why would Grindelwald leave Godric's Hollow immediately after Ariana's death?
- Why did Albus wait so long to confront Grindelwald in their historic duel? What were the consequences of that delay?
- Considering Rita Skeeter's reputation for sensationalistic and fabricated stories, why is Harry so quick to believe that everything in her book about Dumbledore is true? Could her claims be correct?
- Why does Hermione doubt that Ariana was a "squib"? Is there any concrete proof supporting her opinion?
In a later chapter of this book, we learn that Dumbledore's earlier comment to Harry, that it is one's choices that truly makes a person what they are, is based on the tragic events involving his own family that forever changed his personal path. While those words did comfort Harry when they were originally spoken, he has since had trouble applying them to anyone other than himself. We had seen in an earlier book that Harry was dismayed to discover that his father (and Sirius) had been a bully, and that he had difficulty comprehending how such a dreadful youth could become the much-respected adult that everyone told him about. He did not understand then that his father had chosen to change, and fails to realize now that Dumbledore had equally made a conscious decision to become a different man, perhaps even better and stronger than if he had never dallied in Dark matters.
Grindelwald's symbol has now been seen three times: once around Xeno Lovegood's neck at the wedding, in the copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard that Dumbledore left to Hermione, and on the gravestone in Godric's Hollow. When Hermione, looking at The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, reads quotes from Dumbledore's letter, she will discover that the young Albus used the same symbol in his signature. While it is known that Grindelwald used the symbol, we also learn it was in use long before his reign of terror, and that he co-opted it, much as the German National Socialist party co-opted the swastika. Having found the symbol now closely tied to Dumbledore, Hermione will be impelled to visit the one person they believe can explain its pre-Grindelwald meaning to them: Xeno Lovegood. In this, they will be assisted by the recently returned Ron, who knows roughly where the Lovegoods live.
Mature readers may find Dumbledore's letter, as revealed here, interesting, as it can be taken two ways. Rita Skeeter's interpretation is that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were planning to overthrow the body of laws governing Wizard and Muggle relations, with the intent to reveal wizards exist and to then head the new social order. Equally, however, it can be seen as the youthful planning of a wizard who has yet to discover that to accomplish anything you must work within the system, changing the existing structure slowly. Granted, it would take a wizard of rare power to bend a social structure that way, but Dumbledore had become just such a wizard. Before coming to this realization, however, he would have dreamed of rebuilding society more completely, as we see in the published letter, and he apparently failed to fully recognize that Grindelwald's methods of achieving their dream would have been far more extreme, and ultimately deadly. Eventually, Dumbledore was instrumental in gentling relations with Muggles to where Arthur Weasley's Muggle protection laws could actually be enacted. However, being himself emotionally immature and still naive about society's nature, Harry is more likely to accept Skeeter's interpretation. Coupled with the above-mentioned inability to apply Dumbledore's aphorism about change, we can see that Harry will have lost immense trust in his own image of Dumbledore.
Following publication of the final book, the author has revealed in an interview that Dumbledore was homosexual. In the light of that awareness, we can see that the relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore was very likely more than friendship; on Dumbledore's side at least, it was likely infatuation, and that resulted in a certain amount of blindness to Grindelwald's more violent nature. It is perhaps a measure of the author's skill that the infatuation can be perceived in the one letter that we have seen, so that despite our having seen no previous signs of it, following publication of this letter, Dumbledore's sexual proclivities do not surprise us.
That Harry will acquire several different wands during his mission becomes important to the plot. He learns that under certain conditions, wands can change their allegiance. Mr. Ollivander's claim, that "the wand chooses the wizard," is more important than Harry ever realized and it will affect his final confrontation with Voldemort. The returning Ron will provide Harry a replacement wand that while usable, never performs well for him.
Chapter 19: The Silver Doe
Harry, unable to sleep, imagines hearing footsteps and voices in the wind, and gets up during Hermione's watch. Hermione agrees with Harry that they should leave early, reinforcing what Harry imagined, and even thinking she saw somebody. As the Sneakoscope is quiescent, there seems to be no imminent danger, but they Disapparate under the Invisibility Cloak just to be safe.
They arrive in the Forest of Dean, at an old campground Hermione once visited with her parents. The snow and bitter cold keeps Harry and Hermione inside the tent the first day. Harry takes the watch; he senses this night is different. In the twilight hours of impenetrable darkness, a bright silver light appears drifting soundlessly through the trees. Gliding closer, a silver-white doe steps out, gazes at Harry, then turns and walks away. Harry follows it deeper into the forest until it halts, then vanishes. Using Hermione's wand, Harry casts a light. A frozen pond becomes visible—the Sword of Gryffindor lies on the pond's bottom.
After several failed attempts to retrieve the Sword without getting wet, Harry remembers Dumbledore's words when he last retrieved it; only a true Gryffindor could have pulled the Sword out of the Sorting Hat. Stripping down to his underwear, Harry breaks the ice and plunges in. As he grabs the hilt, the Locket, sensing danger, tightens around his neck, strangling him. Kicking and fighting, Harry is unable to loosen the chain's chokehold. Suddenly, someone grabs him, dragging him from the pond. Dazed and shivering, Harry sees the Sword of Gryffindor and a drenched Ron.
Ron denies casting the doe Patronus; he thought it was Harry's, until Harry reminds him that his is a stag. To test the Sword's authenticity, they decide to destroy the Locket. Harry feels Ron should be the one to slay it. Setting the Locket on a nearby stone, Harry says "Open" in Parseltongue. The Locket unlatches and two eyes on its sides stare back—Tom Riddle's eyes. A voice insults Ron, preying on his fears and insecurities, but when this fails, distorted Harry and Hermione heads appear, hurling taunts and ridicule, then they kiss. The real Harry yells to stab the Locket. With a single swift stroke, Ron slays the Locket and Voldemort's soul shard.
Harry assures a guilt-ridden Ron that Hermione missed him and that there is nothing between her and Harry. Reconciled, they head to the camp where Harry is warmly welcomed by Hermione while Ron is pummeled by her furious fists. Harry intervenes, but a shouting match continues. Ron insists he immediately tried to return but was caught by Snatchers, Ministry-hired bounty hunters searching for Muggle-borns and blood traitors. By the time Ron escaped, Harry and Hermione had already moved. Ron eventually located them with the Deluminator; it detects conversations about the person holding it. When Ron heard Harry and Hermione speak his name he was able to use the Deluminator to transport to where they were. It was Ron they heard at their last camp, but they left before he could find them. The Deluminator brought him to where the doe Patronus and Harry were. Hermione is told about the doe, the Sword, and destroying the Locket Horcrux. Ron also gives Harry a wand he 'snatched' from a Snatcher to replace his broken one. Hermione threatens Ron one last time, and the three finally get some sleep.
While this chapter is a pivotal turning point in each Trio member's emotional development, Ron undergoes the most significant change. Dumbledore, aware Ron needed extra guidance, left him the Deluminator to help him find his way back should he become separated from the others. Ron's return highlights how significant his role in the Trio truly is, and it marks a distinct milestone in his maturation. From here on, he becomes a more assertive, independent, and contributing member, rather than a passive follower whose insecurity allowed him to take a back seat to Harry, Hermione, and his siblings. Despite his deficiencies, Ron, unknowingly, has served an important function within the group: Harry and Hermione are talented and resourceful wizards, but, being Muggle-raised, they lack significant knowledge about the general Wizarding world. Ron has often guided them by filling in these gaps. It is unlikely Harry and Hermione could succeed without Ron supplying these missing pieces. His humorous, easy-going nature also helps bond the Trio and counter-balances Harry and Hermione's more intense and somewhat dour personalities, though Ron has shown, at least while carrying the Locket Horcrux, that he, like most people, has a rather suppressed dark side to his nature. Ron also proves he is a true Gryffindor by overcoming his fears and doubts about the mission, and returning to a dangerous situation to search for and help his friends. He also demonstrates immense bravery by rescuing Harry from the freezing pond. Harry expresses his appreciation by insisting that Ron destroy the Locket Horcrux; though, at least initially, and when the Horcrux is fighting for its life, Ron may be uncertain that this is a favour. While Hermione is furious at Ron for having deserted the mission, his brief absence actually proves useful. Upon his return, he provides vital information about Voldemort and the war, warns them that the Dark Lord's name is now "tabooed", and explains what Snatchers are. By being too elusive and cut off from their allies who could provide critical information and support, the Trio have made their quest more difficult and dangerous. From here on, they will utilize information gathered from various allies.
A different facet to Hermione's personality is exposed in response to Ron's return. For the first time in her life, she is so overcome with hurt and anger that she loses control, and, unable to think rationally, reacts without logic or forethought. Only Harry's intervention prevents her from inflicting physical harm on Ron. Although furious that he deserted the mission, Hermione was likely feeling abandoned and betrayed by someone she cares deeply about. This outburst may also show that Hermione is learning to act more intuitively and freely without always waiting until she feels she knows all the answers before taking action. Ron, meanwhile, literally comes face-to-face with his own unresolved feelings for Hermione when he witnesses false images of Harry and Hermione kissing projected by the Locket as it attempts to protect itself. Harry, who also sees this spectacle, assures Ron that he and Hermione love each as brother and sister, and tells him how important he is to their trio.
Harry not only shows another side to his innate courage, but also his growing ability to trust others. Despite not knowing if friend or foe sent the doe Patronus, and after the nearly disastrous encounter with the bogus Bathilda Bagshot, Harry takes yet another leap of faith by following the doe in the hope that this time it was sent to help. However, youthful curiosity may have helped to override caution, and Harry avoids consulting Hermione, knowing she would be far more suspicious and leery following their near-fatal experience in Godric's Hollow. It is confirmed, however, that the silver doe was indeed dispatched to help; the question now is, who sent it and why?
An adult reading this chapter may also note that Ron mentions nothing about having told Bill and Fleur where he was going, or even that he was leaving, when he departed Shell Cottage. This rather leads one to wonder what Bill and Fleur thought when they found his room empty. We do see that Ron took time to pack a rather large knapsack for the trip, rather than just setting out after the light from the Deluminator as he implies in his story; we can only hope, for Bill and Fleur's sake, that he at least left them a note, though they may not have been too surprised by his leaving, knowing Ron had been on a mission with Harry and Hermione.
- Why did Harry and Hermione's conversation about Harry's broken wand prove to be so important?
- How did Ron's shameful desertion actually help the Trio? What made him return? Why is Hermione so angry at him?
- Why does Harry want Ron, rather than himself, to destroy the Locket Horcrux? How does Ron react to this?
- Who could have sent the doe Patronus? Why?
- How did Gryffindor's Sword get in the pond? Who might have been responsible for putting it there and why?
- If someone intended for Harry to find the sword, why was it left in such a dangerous place where he was almost killed?
- Why was the Locket strangling Harry?
- Why would the Locket project an image of Harry and Hermione kissing?
- In Harry's third year, just before Sirius Black slashed Ron's bed curtains, Harry had a curious dream in which he was pursuing a glowing silver creature through a forest. Could there be any relation between that dream and the silver doe in this chapter? Explain that relationship.
- James Potter's (Harry's father) Animagus form was a stag and Harry's Patronus is a silver stag. Could these have any relationship to the doe Patronus? Explain.
Ron will also bring back information about "Potter Watch", an underground wizard news radio program that airs updates about Harry and the war against Voldemort. The information in this broadcast will prove extremely heartening to Harry, as he learns that he is not alone in fighting Voldemort. It will, however, inadvertently result in the Trio being captured.
We learn later that the doe was Severus Snape's Patronus. Carefully examining the text shows that Hermione had her beaded bag open when she told Harry where they had stopped. Phineas Nigellus's portrait inside it overheard Hermione and reported that to Snape. Snape thus knows that Harry and Hermione are in the Forest of Dean, though not exactly where; the Forest of Dean is a largish place, several wooded sections totaling about 40 square miles. (It is located a few miles west of Gloucester in the south-west of England.) It is open to question how Snape found Harry, given the protective spells Hermione had set around them. This must, of course, be supposition, but we already know that many spells are limited by distance, Apparition being one; it is likely that once he was within a few miles of Harry, Snape could use Legilimency to see what Harry was seeing, and thus determine where he was. This would be easier for Snape because he had previously spent time in Harry's mind. After learning the Trio's general whereabouts from Nigellus, it appears Snape sent the Patronus in the hope that Harry would see and follow it to where Snape hid the Sword in the pond. It will be seen in a later chapter that more than one Patronus can be cast at a time, and there may have been multiple ones roaming the forest searching for Harry.
This is the first time Snape's Patronus is seen. It is learned later in the book that its form is somehow related to Lily Potter, and for a specific reason. Readers might consider how and why Tonks' Patronus had changed its shape, something that Snape had ridiculed her for.
There is one additional interesting note. Mr. Ollivander later tells Harry that if a wizard captures another wizard's wand, that wand's allegiance can be transferred to its new owner. Ron provides Harry a wand he took from a Snatcher, making it possible that Ron is actually that wand's new master. However, Harry can still use it, though likely with less effectiveness than if he had been the one who forcibly obtained it. Harry will later seize and wield Draco Malfoy's wand, finding that it performs quite well for him, while Hermione, who is given Bellatrix's confiscated wand rather than having captured it herself, discovers it works poorly when she uses it. Harry capturing Draco's wand plays a crucial role in Harry's final confrontation with Voldemort, who has stolen the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb. Voldemort will also discover that this wand, the most powerful in the world, fails to meet his great expectations, though he is initially unable to understand why.
Chapter 20: Xenophilius Lovegood
The next morning, Hermione and Ron remain distant, though Ron is quite cheery when he and Harry are alone. Their recent upswing in luck, with Ron's return, recovering the Sword of Gryffindor, and destroying the Locket Horcrux, has created a more optimistic mood. Each updates the other about recent events, and Ron reveals that Voldemort's name is jinxed to trace anyone speaking it and to break protective spells. That is how Death Eaters found them so quickly in Tottenham Court Road. They speculate about who conjured the doe Patronus, and discuss Dumbledore and Grindelwald's close friendship.
Ron mentions a radio program, Potterwatch, that reports accurate news. A password is needed to tune it in, and Ron missed the last show. Hermione suggests visiting Xenophilius Lovegood. Dumbledore's letter to Grindelwald, reproduced in Rita Skeeter's book, contains the same symbol that Mr. Lovegood was wearing, that is inked in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and is engraved on the Peverell tombstone. Harry is reluctant after their recent Godric's Hollow misadventure, but Hermione insists these connections are important. Ron sides with Hermione, noting that Xenophilius has lately been publishing pro-Harry articles in the Quibbler, though Harry suspects Ron is only trying to regain Hermione's favor.
The next morning the Trio Disapparate to Ottery St. Catchpole, a village near The Burrow and close to the Lovegoods (who were first mentioned in book 4). After walking a bit, a strange-looking cylindrical house appears, and three hand-painted signs indicate that the editor of The Quibbler resides there. Odd plants and creatures that Luna has either worn or mentioned line the path. An unkempt-looking Xenophilius Lovegood answers the door and only reluctantly invites the Trio in. Inside, Xeno, appearing anxious, quickly covers his printing press and resists Ron's and Hermione's requests to help Harry, despite having urged his readers to do so. Asked about Luna, Xeno claims she is fishing at the stream. Harry notices a stone statue of a woman wearing a bizarre-looking headdress. Xeno explains that the statue is modeled after Rowena Ravenclaw wearing her now-lost Diadem. Harry asks about the symbol Xeno wore to Bill and Fleur's wedding. Xenophilius indicates that it is the sign of the Deathly Hallows.
Several non-human elements play a critical role in this chapter in addition to human ones. This is the first time an identifiable Ravenclaw artifact has been mentioned. While some fans speculated that the wand in Ollivander's shop window may have been Ravenclaw's, this is the first time that any specific object has been positively connected with her. Knowing that we are looking for artifacts the four Hogwarts Founders once owned, attention should probably be paid to Ravenclaw having had a diadem that people have been searching for. (A diadem is a jeweled ornament in the shape of a half crown, worn by women and placed over the forehead, also called a tiara.)
Also, the radio, or wireless as it is also known, is important because it demonstrates that there are ongoing underground channels to provide truthful information about Harry Potter, Voldemort, and the war. Like Xenophilius Lovegood's stories in The Quibbler, the Potterwatch wireless program helps to inform and rally the wizarding community by airing accurate news and updates. By acting as a unified voice, it creates solidarity among wizards and encourages its listeners, who have either been too fearful or uninformed, to resist the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters. These broadcasts are similar to how radio maintained communication with populations suppressed by war and, later, communism in the mid-20th century. It also shows the powerful effect the media can exert over the masses; whether this power is used for good or evil depends on who controls it and how and what is disseminated. If Ron can tune in the "Potterwatch" program, it should become an essential tool, not only for providing the Trio current information about Voldemort, their allies, and the war, but to help Harry reconnect ties to old friends and align himself with others who are fighting a common cause. Radio reports about who has been killed or captured can also act as a reminder to Harry that Voldemort's reign of terror affects many others, not only him.
Most importantly, the strange symbol the Trio has repeatedly encountered is identified by Xenophilius as the symbol of the Deathly Hallows, though their significance is still a mystery. Also, Xeno's disheveled appearance and odd behavior are certainly suspect, especially considering his staunch pro-Harry Potter support in his newspaper. Xeno Lovegood's strange demeanor strongly indicates something may be amiss here, especially when he agrees to assist the Trio only after they pressure him. Luna's absence seems peculiar, too, and Xeno's claim that she is catching fish for their supper also seems suspicious; the Trio soon become wary.
- Why does the trio seek out Xenophilius Lovegood? How can he help them?
- Where is Luna?
- Why did Viktor Krum and others believe the Deathly Hallows symbol represented Dark Magic, when apparently it did not?
- What is the sign of the Deathly Hallows?
- Why would Xenophilius have a statue modeled after Rowena Ravenclaw wearing her headdress? Could this be significant to Harry's mission? If so, why?
- How is the radio used in the fight against Voldemort? How could it be used against Harry?
- Why does Xenophilius, an ardent Harry Potter supporter, seem reluctant to help the Trio?
- Why would Xeno suddenly cover the printing press?
The Trio will learn, at last, that the symbol refers to the Deathly Hallows, and it is not a Dark mark as Viktor Krum mistakenly claimed, though it was co-opted by Grindelwald much as the swastika was by Hitler in the Muggle world during the same time period. However, it will take Harry some time to work out just what the Hallows are, whether or not they relate directly to his mission, or whether Dumbledore intended for him to pursue them separately. Eventually it will be learned that Dumbledore did intend for Harry and the Trio to discover the Hallows, especially the Elder Wand, but rather than revealing their existence, he instead chose for the Trio to discover the Hallows gradually to avoid them falling into the same trap he had. Dumbledore feared that, on learning the Hallows myth and their supposed power over death, Harry would abandon his search for Horcruxes, and instead become obsessed with the idea of resurrecting his lost parents. In fact that very nearly happens.
Harry seeing the model of Rowena Ravenclaw's lost Diadem is crucial because this is the first time that a known Ravenclaw artifact that may have survived to the present is mentioned. Later, Harry discovers that Voldemort made the true Ravenclaw Diadem into a Horcrux. Harry has unknowingly come into contact with the Diadem. While searching for a place to hide his Potions book inside the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he used the Diadem as a marker to remember the book's location. However, Harry obviously was unaware that he was handling one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
Xenophilius' odd behavior is also important to note, for in the next chapter we learn that when the Trio arrived at his house, he immediately dispatched an owl to the Ministry alerting them. The careful reader will note the owl in the garden as the Trio approach the house, and it flying up past the window as Harry looks out when Xeno says he is going to fetch Luna; those who recognize this later may assume, as Harry apparently did, that the owl was being sent to fetch Luna. We soon learn that Xeno informs the Ministry only because Luna has been taken captive by Death Eaters, and Xeno is hoping that by informing on Harry, he can secure her release.
Chapter 21: The Tale of Three Brothers
Xenophilius Lovegood explains that the Deathly Hallows mark is not Dark at all, though a burly young man at Bill and Fleur's wedding thought it was. It is actually a sign indicating one is on a Quest for the Deathly Hallows, and it is from The Tale of the Three Brothers. Harry has never heard of it, but Ron and Hermione have; Hermione reads the story aloud from The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
Xenophilius, though uneasy, further relates how three brothers cheated Death and received artifacts from him. These were the Elder Wand, a wand that was unbeatable in a duel; a Resurrection Stone, which, when turned three times, summons souls from the afterlife to the living world; and Death's own Cloak of Invisibility. Together, these items form the Deathly Hallows, and despite it being a fairy tale, the Three Hallows actually exist. Recalling the symbol on Ignotus Peverell's grave in Godric's Hollow, Hermione asks if there is any connection with the Peverell family. Xenophilius says Ignotus is believed to be one of the brothers in the story. Harry privately recalls hearing the Peverell name somewhere else.
While Xenophilius prepares dinner, the Trio discuss the three Hallows. Hermione admits the wand has the best documented history. Magical history has many stories of super-powerful wands, and there seems to be a consistent link following one such wand nearly to the present. The Resurrection Stone is dismissed as being a misinterpreted Philosopher's Stone, but the Invisibility Cloak could be the one in Harry's pocket. It has withstood the test of time, unlike ordinary invisibility cloaks that eventually become threadbare and lose their effectiveness.
Harry goes into Luna's bedroom and notices that it is dusty and appears unused; Luna should be home for the holidays and is supposedly fishing. Harry again asks Xenophilius about Luna's whereabouts and why there are only four plates set for dinner. Xenophilius tries to prevent the Trio from leaving, then admits that "they" took Luna away as a punishment for his stories in The Quibbler. Hermione spots approaching broomsticks; Xenophilius draws his wand, but Harry pushes the other two aside. The spell hits the Erumpent horn hanging on the wall, which explodes, blowing Xenophilius down the stairs, while the printing press drops across the staircase. Downstairs, two Death Eaters, Travers and Selwyn, demand to know why Xeno summoned them and tried to blow them up. Upstairs, Hermione tosses the Invisibility Cloak over Ron, then fires a Memory charm at Xeno as he claws his way through the rubble. She blasts a hole through the floor. As they fall, Harry sees the Death Eaters. Hermione safely Disapparates them to a field.
In addition to seeking information regarding the Deathly Hallows, the Trio also came here because Xenophilius Lovegood is sympathetic, publicly, to Harry's cause. However, we see that Death Eaters have forced him to abandon this support by imprisoning his daughter, Luna. Controlling family members via state-ordered or state-backed kidnapping is common in totalitarian regimes throughout history. Considering how dangerous it is for anyone to support Harry, it is questionable as to why Xeno continued publishing The Quibbler openly at his home rather than hiding underground like so many other wizard families, or why Luna was allowed to remain at Hogwarts, which is now under Voldemort's control. But like Luna, Xeno's odd views and outlandish beliefs have warped his perception of reality, and he may simply have been oblivious to the perils, or believed he was immune to any danger. Unfortunately, this has cost his daughter's freedom, and possibly her life (and threatens his own) if he fails to cooperate with Voldemort's Death Eaters. Now Xeno will do anything to save his only child, including betraying Harry Potter.
Viktor Krum and others believe the Deathly Hallows symbol is a Dark mark. It is possible that most people, including Krum, never understanding its true meaning or origin, associate it with evil only because Grindelwald adopted it, and, after disgracing himself at Durmstrang, went on to become one of history's most notorious wizards. From then on, the Deathly Hallows symbol was forever tainted and considered "Dark." That a benign image can become associated with evil is hardly unprecedented. The Nazi swastika is such a modern-day icon: its origins actually date back to ancient history as a benevolent and sacred symbol in many Asian and Middle Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and others. It is because it is also linked to ancient Indo-European people, including the Aryans, that Nazi Germany adopted it in the mid-20th century as their emblem to represent racial purity and superiority. Although Asian cultures still consider it a symbol for luck, fortune, and victory, the swastika is primarily remembered (and still utilized) in the West to symbolize white supremacy and prejudice. Presumably, this same pattern has resulted in many wizarding realms associating the Hallows mark with Grindelwald, just as the skull and snake Dark mark represents Voldemort, though that particular symbol had no prior benevolent connotation.
Harry now knows what the Deathly Hallows actually are, but it will take him time to completely understand their significance. The Invisibility Cloak is likely the same one that Harry owns, supporting the belief that the other Deathly Hallows exist. In particular, the Elder Wand likely has some real existence, as is shown by the documented murders that apparently follow its nearly-cohesive trail. If the Elder Wand truly exists, and Harry finds it and wins its allegiance, it could be a powerful weapon against Voldemort. Harry is once again cast into confusion; whoever controls all three Hallows is supposedly "the master of Death." Dumbledore tasked Harry to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes; would possessing all three Hallows make that task easier? Should he devote his energies to uniting the Hallows and thus possibly avoiding the almost certain death he faces at Voldemort's wand? Neither Harry, or we, have the answers to these questions.
- How does Xenophilius' explanation about the Deathly Hallows symbol differ from what Viktor Krum told Harry at Bill and Fleur's wedding?
- Why would Viktor Krum and others believe that the Deathly Hallows symbol was a Dark mark?
- If Xenophilius has been supporting Harry Potter in his paper The Quibbler, why does he report him to the Death Eaters? Was he justified in doing this?
- Why is Harry suspicious regarding Luna's whereabouts, and where might she be?
- Why did Xenophilius and Luna never go into hiding so Xeno could continue to publish his pro-Harry articles in The Quibbler more safely? Should Xeno have allowed Luna to remain at Hogwarts? If not, why?
- Of the three Deathly Hallows, why is the Resurrection Stone dismissed as the least likely to exist? Is that explanation plausible? Of the Trio, who would be the most interested in it and why?
- Why does Hermione cover Ron with the Invisibility Cloak while deliberately allowing the Death Eaters to see her and Harry before she Disapparates the Trio to safety?
- What modern-day comparisons can be made to a benevolent symbol like the Deathly Hallows becoming an evil icon? Why is it so difficult to overcome a negative image once it becomes attached to a platonic symbol, even when it is known that the symbol's origin is benevolent?
The Deathly Hallows that Xenophilius Lovegood mentions are real, though it is unlikely that there could be three brothers who literally tricked Death. It is believed they may be based on the Peverells, a family that both Harry and Voldemort may be descended from; it is suggested that they could be simply extremely talented wizards. Meanwhile, we will learn that the artifact Voldemort has been seeking is actually one of the Hallows, namely the Elder Wand. It is currently publicly unknown where the Elder Wand is, but it will be discovered that it was in Dumbledore's possession at his death. Voldemort will discover this and retrieve the wand from Dumbledore's tomb. As legend proclaims this wand unbeatable in duels, Voldemort believes it will overpower Harry, as his own wand and Lucius Malfoy's were unable to. However, the story of the Three Brothers tells us that the Elder Wand's master is always vulnerable to defeat, and this is how Dumbledore not only came to possess it, but also lost its allegiance. Although Harry does not actually obtain the Elder Wand until the war's end, it will still prove to be a powerful weapon against Voldemort, for reasons that have yet to be explained.
Harry, as mentioned, seems to recall hearing the Peverell name somewhere. He will eventually remember that the ring Marvolo Gaunt brandished under Bob Ogden's nose in a memory Harry experienced in Dumbledore's Pensieve was "the ring of the Peverells". Harry has seen this ring on Tom Riddle's finger in a memory retrieved from Professor Slughorn, on Dumbledore's damaged hand when he collects Harry in the summer, and lying on Dumbledore's work table. Where it is now, and what significance it has, are as yet unknown; but Harry, remembering the ring, will come to believe that the symbol of the Hallows is scribed on it, and will begin to believe that the stone in the ring is the Resurrection Stone. It will turn out that he is correct, and that, unknown to him, he is carrying the ring with him; but the ring will not be revealed to him until he has already come to terms with death, thus mastering it.
Hermione, even under pressure, reacts with great intelligence and forethought at this chapter's end. With only moments to act, she protects both the Weasley family and Xeno, while also whisking Harry, Ron, and herself away to safety. She explains in the next chapter that, by allowing the Death Eaters to see her and Harry, she protects Xeno by confirming that he sent a legitimate summons. She also uses the Invisibility Cloak to hide Ron's presence from the Death Eaters (and presumably from Xeno with the Memory Charm as well), to protect him and also his family. If Ron is discovered with Harry and Hermione, rather than confined at home with Spattergroit, Voldemort and his Death Eaters will target the Weasley family, just as they did the Lovegoods. Concealing Ron safeguards his cover provided by the Ghoul. Hermione's family is also in danger, but she has hidden them in Australia, with new identities and altered memories.
Chapter 22: The Deathly Hallows
Hermione sets up the protective spells. She wanted the Death Eaters to see Harry so they would know that Xenophilius Lovegood had not lied, while Ron was hidden because he is supposed to be confined at home with Spattergroit; if Luna is a captive due to Xeno's actions, then the Weasley family would be in peril if Death Eaters knew Ron was with Harry. Her own parents are safe in Australia, their memories modified.
Hermione complains that visiting Xeno Lovegood was a waste and discounts the Three Brothers fairy tale. But Harry is drawn to it—being able to conquer death and not be killed by Voldemort fuels his imagination, giving him hope. Ron agrees with Harry that Xeno fabricating such a story while under intense pressure, trying to detain Harry, would be difficult. Ron also recaps Hermione's significant evidence supporting the Elder Wand's existence. Harry counters Hermione's claim that the dead can never be resurrected; his father and mother, and Cedric emerged from Voldemort's wand. Seeing Hermione's and Ron's wary expressions when he mentions resurrecting the dead, he changes the subject to the Peverells. They are among the oldest Wizarding families recorded, and though the male line bearing the name died out long ago, Hermione says there could be female descendants. Harry suddenly recalls Marvolo Gaunt, You-know-who's grandfather, showing the Ministry representative a ring bearing the Peverell symbol to prove their ancestry. Harry believes the ring, having the Deathly Hallows symbol scratched on it, contains the Resurrection Stone. He also remembers that Dumbledore had borrowed his father James' Invisibility Cloak, and deduces that Dumbledore believed it was a Hallow. Recalling the Three Brothers' tale, Harry wonders if the person who holds the three Hallows' can master Death, and will it come down to him against Voldemort? Hallows against Horcruxes? He also guesses that Dumbledore left him the Snitch because the Resurrection Stone is inside.
Harry is convinced that Voldemort is seeking the Elder Wand to defeat Harry and destroy Harry's wand. Hermione, however, thinks Ron and Harry are making a fairy tale into reality; Harry should only follow Dumbledore's clear instructions to destroy Horcruxes. Over the next week, however, Harry becomes obsessed with the Deathly Hallows. He is certain the Resurrection Stone is somehow hidden inside the Snitch, but he is still unable to open it or understand its cryptic inscription, "I open at the close." Ron and Hermione urge Harry to instead concentrate on the Horcruxes rather than the Deathly Hallows.
Ron gradually takes charge of the mission, suggesting new places to search. One night in March, he is finally able to tune in the wireless to "Potterwatch", the radio show he has been looking for since Christmas. Produced by Lee Jordan, "Potterwatch" is the only wireless program that reports the truth; everyone else toes the new Ministry line. Tonight, Lee reports that Ted Tonks, Dirk Cresswell, and the Goblin, Gornuk, have been killed. Dean Thomas and a second Goblin are believed to have escaped. Lee also mentions that Bathilda Bagshot is dead. Following Lee's report, Kingsley Shacklebolt speaks about Muggle casualties, and issues a plea to assist them against Death Eater depredations. Lupin then explains why he is certain Harry is alive. Following this, there is an opinion piece by either Fred or George about how "You-know-who" cannot be everywhere he is reported, as there would have to be about nineteen of him. Finally, Lee Jordan closes with a plea for calm.
After the show, Harry accidentally speaks Voldemort’s name, collapsing the protective enchantments around the tent. Snatchers immediately surround them.
Harry's reactions to the Deathly Hallows are seen here. The possibility that his parents could be resurrected tantalizes Harry, as well as the protection the Hallows might afford him against death. Harry's focus on the Hallows forms the backdrop to Ron's largely taking charge. Harry has been left confused and rudderless, first by Dumbledore's leaving him without guidance, and second by his distraction over the Hallows; Ron steps into this leadership void, undergoing a significant change as he does. No longer a passive and insecure follower, his guilt over his brief desertion, as well as Hermione's severe chastisement, have propelled him into a becoming a more mature, confident, and proactive young man who assumes responsibility in guiding the others, relieving Harry and Hermione from many day-to-day burdens. Though Harry will once again assume the mission's leadership role, from here on, Ron never again dwells contentedly in others' shadows, and begins charting his own life's course.
The wireless (radio) once again comes into focus after Ron successfully tunes in Potterwatch, the one program reporting the truth about Harry, Voldemort, and the ongoing war. During conflicts, communication like this becomes extremely important in disseminating truthful information amidst overwhelming propaganda that is usually being spread, while it also helps rally and unify allies. Although Harry only hears the program once before capture, he is comforted and feels reconnected to old friends, uniting them in the fight against Voldemort. It also bolsters Harry's morale, allowing him to fully realize that this is not his battle alone.
Another interesting plot point is highlighted. The Trio agrees that Harry's Invisibility Cloak could actually be the one from The Tale of the Three Brothers, which Xenophilius claims may have been the Peverells. The youngest brother bequeathed the Cloak to his son. Considering Harry received the Cloak from his father, it is possible that it was handed down to him through the generations, making him a direct Peverell descendant. Harry and Voldemort could share a common Peverell ancestor, not that blood ties account for much anymore as Wizarding families are ripped apart by Voldemort's war. As seen in Sirius Black's family, close relatives, divided by their blood-purity beliefs and loyalties to Voldemort, will readily disown and even kill one another.
- Why is Harry so interested in the Deathly Hallows? Why do Ron and Hermione think he should only concentrate on hunting Horcruxes?
- How and why does Ron take charge of the mission?
- Was the visit to the Lovegoods a waste as Hermione claims? If not, why?
- How does listening to Potterwatch affect the Trio?
- Knowing that Ghosts exist, why would Hermione be so skeptical about the Resurrection Stone?
- What might the inscription on the Snitch that Harry still carries, "I open at the close", mean?
- Why might Dumbledore have wanted Harry to know about the three Hallows?
Although Hermione believes the Lovegood visit revealed nothing important and she discounts The Three Brothers tale, like the trip to Godric's Hollow, information has been provided that the Trio has yet to realize is important to their mission. The Deathly Hallows will be tied to defeating Voldemort, although Harry's initial interest in them is unrelated. To someone who has lost many loved ones, a Resurrection Stone is a particularly desirable and seductive object to possess, and Harry reconsiders that magic could reunite him with his parents. And while Hermione wants to stick with Dumbledore's plan to only search for Horcruxes, Harry's continuing fascination with the Hallows and his hope to be reunited with his parents will eventually help him work out their significance. Meanwhile, the revelations about Dumbledore's past still trouble Harry, and his faith and trust in his Headmaster continues to waver. Harry also doubts whether Dumbledore ever really cared for him and wonders if he is merely a pawn in Dumbledore's scheme to defeat Voldemort. These doubts will linger, to a greater or lesser extent, until Harry speaks with Dumbledore's shade in a later chapter.
As Dumbledore's shade admits later to having expected, Harry becomes infatuated, as did the youthful Dumbledore, with the Hallows. Like Dumbledore, Harry sees them as a means to regain his lost family; additionally, he believes them to be a safeguard against Voldemort's expected murderous attack. The Hallows' attraction remains strong until after Harry escapes Malfoy Manor. Following that, Harry will choose to only seek and destroy Horcruxes, though that decision will torment him, particularly after he learns that Voldemort has claimed the Elder Wand.
As noted, Ron is now leading the mission, as Harry, infatuated with the Hallows, endlessly debates whether to search for the remaining one, or to continue hunting Horcruxes. When Harry overcomes his fixation and returns to himself in Malfoy Manor, Ron once again drops to the sidelines. However, we will see that he has gained a certain capacity for independent action that was previously lacking. This will be evident particularly after the Trio return to Hogwarts, where Ron, accompanied by Hermione, takes it upon himself to re-enter the Chamber of Secrets to retrieve Basilisk fangs to destroy the Cup Horcrux.
Chapter 23: Malfoy Manor
With Snatchers surrounding the camp, Hermione quickly jinxes Harry's face to hide his identity. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forced out of the tent and bound with Dean Thomas and Griphook, who have also been captured. Assuming that the Trio are students on the run, the Snatchers check a wanted list. Hermione claims she is Penelope Clearwater, a half-blood. Ron identifies himself as Stan Shunpike, but the Snatchers know this is untrue, and Ron then claims he is a Weasley relative. Harry identifies himself as Vernon Dudley, a Slytherin student, and accurately describes the Slytherin Common room: he and Ron (using Polyjuice Potion to impersonate Crabbe and Goyle) were there during their second year at Hogwarts. However, the Snatchers recognize Hermione's photo in the Daily Prophet and find Harry's glasses. The scar beneath his puffy, jinxed forehead is barely discernible, leaving them unsure. They also find Gryffindor's Sword.
Harry, meanwhile, has slipped back into Voldemort's mind and sees a black fortress with a tall tower within; an ancient man says he was expecting Voldemort, but tells him that he never had it.
Believing he has captured "Undesirable Number One", the Snatchers' leader, Fenrir Greyback, takes the captives to the Dark Lord's headquarters, Malfoy Manor. Lucius Malfoy believes Voldemort will forgive him when he turns over Harry Potter, but he first orders Draco to verify Harry's identity. Draco, fearful and hesitant, claims to be unsure. Draco's mother, Narcissa Malfoy, notices that Harry's wand does not match Ollivander's description, and wants to be positive it is him before summoning Voldemort. Narcissa recognizes Hermione from Madam Malkin's robe shop and also her picture in the Daily Prophet. Lucius prods Draco to identify Ron and Hermione, and he reluctantly admits it could be them.
Bellatrix enters and is also uncertain if it's Harry, but wants to inform Voldemort immediately, though Lucius claims it is his right to do so. Greyback interjects, saying he captured Potter and demands the reward; he also wants Hermione as a prize. As Lucius is about to touch his Dark Mark to Summon Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix shrieks: a Snatcher has Gryffindor's Sword. When he is reluctant to hand it over, Bellatrix Stuns all the Snatchers except Greyback, who is now on his knees. Bellatrix screams that they are all in peril if her Gringotts vault has been breached.
Harry, Ron, Dean and Griphook are taken to the cellar, where Luna and Ollivander are also imprisoned, while Hermione is left upstairs to be interrogated. Bellatrix tortures her to learn if the Sword was stolen from the Lestrange's vault; Ron, hearing Hermione's screams of pain, becomes distraught. With Luna's help and light from the Deluminator, Harry, Ron, Dean, and Griphook are unbound, though Griphook is badly injured.
Searching his pouch, Harry sees a blue flash in the mirror shard, and frantically begs for help. Upstairs, Hermione, despite being tortured, tells Bellatrix the Sword is a fake. Lucius Malfoy sends Draco to fetch Griphook so he can verify this, and Harry quickly tells Griphook to claim the Sword is fake. After Draco collects Griphook, Dobby Apparates into the cellar and confirms he can Disapparate with humans.
Again, Harry peers through Voldemort's eyes, seeing the old man telling Voldemort that killing him will bring him no nearer to what he seeks.
Dobby Apparates Luna, Dean, and Mr. Ollivander to Shell Cottage, Bill and Fleur's home. When the loud cracking Disapparition noise brings Wormtail to the cellar to investigate, Harry and Ron attack him. Wormtail grabs Harry, choking him with his silver hand. Harry reminds Wormtail that he is owed a life debt. Hesitating, Wormtail momentarily relaxes his grip, and the silver hand turns on him, fatally strangling its owner.
Ron and Harry rush upstairs, armed only with Wormtail's wand. Griphook has declared the Gryffindor Sword is a fake. Bellatrix, satisfied her vault is safe, summons Voldemort, then offers Hermione to Greyback as a reward. Harry's scar explodes with pain as he sees Voldemort, angry at being summoned, killing the old man. Ron bursts into the room and disarms Bellatrix with Wormtail's wand while Harry, who runs in after him, catches it and Stuns Lucius Malfoy. Bellatrix, pressing a silver knife to Hermione's neck, orders them to drop the wands; Draco collects them. Dobby suddenly reappears, dropping the crystal chandelier on Bellatrix, Hermione, and Griphook, and disarming Narcissa. As Ron pulls Hermione out from under the chandelier, Harry grabs all three wands from Draco and Stuns Greyback. When Bellatrix addresses Dobby as an enslaved House-elf, Dobby declares he is free and has come to save Harry Potter and his friends. Harry tosses a wand to Ron, and tells him to go. Harry, Griphook and Dobby also Disapparate to safety, but Bellatrix's silver knife has seriously wounded Dobby. Cradled in Harry's arms, Dobby whispers, "Harry . . . Potter . . ," and dies.
Several characters show personality traits that have only been glimpsed previously. Ron's feelings for Hermione are further developed as he listens to Bellatrix torturing her, and when he fiercely tries to prevent her falling prey to Fenrir Greyback's perverted desires. This marks yet another turning point in Ron's maturity as he faces the possibility of losing someone he cares deeply about, and must act to save her, regardless of his own safety. Harry also shows faith in the unknown again by trusting that the blue eye in the mirror is someone who has been watching over him and will send help. Harry's trust has been somewhat affected by the eye resembling Dumbledore, though Harry still doubts his late mentor's motives. Harry's faith is rewarded, however, when Dobby appears, though it is still unknown who sent him or why.
The character dynamics are a little different at Malfoy Manor, and readers have seen how Voldemort demands absolute fidelity and obedience from his servants. Here it appears that most support him only out of fear or for personal gain, though there is certainly no guarantee that loyalty will be rewarded or lives spared. This has created conflict among his followers that is starting to undermine Voldemort's rule. Bellatrix and Lucius here vie with one another for power and favor, leaving Narcissa Malfoy the unenviable task of choosing between supporting her sister or her husband. Though unseen here, we have earlier evidence that Narcissa's devotion is only to her husband and son. Fenrir Greyback, meanwhile, desires material compensation (which includes Hermione), while the cowardly Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew) sought out the Dark Lord only for protection against the Order of the Phoenix, who would likely execute him for betraying the Potters and Sirius Black. Wormtail was also burdened by his life debt to Harry, an obligation he had no choice but to fulfill, and which Voldemort fatally punished him for when he did. Voldemort may have been unaware that Wormtail owed this life debt when he crafted the silver hand; it is almost certain that Wormtail would never willingly have divulged this information to Voldemort, though Pettigrew's weak mind would be far too easy for the Dark Lord to penetrate and read his thoughts; however, knowing how meek and untrustworthy Wormtail was, it is likely that Voldemort created the silver appendage as a convenient mechanism to retaliate against any disloyalty or disobedience, however slight, and, finally, to eliminate a relatively useless minion when he was no longer needed.
Draco Malfoy, meanwhile, clearly shows that he is not his father's son; when Draco is again forced into a difficult situation, he is torn between intrinsic compassion, family loyalty, and fearing Voldemort. Although he obviously recognizes Harry and the others imprisoned at Malfoy Manor, as with Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower (in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), and the Death Eater that Voldemort forced him to torture, he resists taking any action that will endanger another. Only under his family's pressure and knowing he will be unable to lie convincingly does he admit that Harry's two companions could be Ron and Hermione. It seems unlikely that Draco has any fonder feelings for Harry and the others than he ever did and is still an obnoxious bully, but he is neither vicious nor a killer. Like Harry's cousin, Dudley, there is an invisible line his innate humanity prevents him from ever crossing. Despite being raised with "pure-blood" rhetoric and elitist conditioning, Draco is mostly a half-hearted Voldemort follower, foolishly trailing along out of family duty, for adventure, and the prestige he believes it bestows. Like Regulus Black, he soon finds himself in over his head, lacking the inherent evil nature to be a true Death Eater. His refusal to harm Harry and Dumbledore goes against everything he has been taught. By now, Draco probably realizes that Voldemort is only using him to punish his family and will likely kill him and his parents once they are no longer useful. Ultimately, Draco shows strength and morality by protecting the Trio, even though betraying them could help win back Voldemort's favor for his family. Consequently, Draco fails to realize that his compassion makes him a far better person than his flawed, reprehensible father; instead, he believes himself a cowardly failure. A very different Draco might have been seen here, however, had he succumbed to fatally cursing Dumbledore that fateful night on the Astronomy Tower, his soul indelibly stained by murder.
Dobby's role is also examined here. In his last act, Dobby dies a martyr and a true hero. He defies the humans who had enslaved him and breaks the promise he made to Harry during his second year never to try and save his life again. Breaking this promise comes exactly when Harry is in mortal peril and when only an Elf's unique magical abilities can save him. Dobby's life has revolved around the hope that Harry would improve other House-elves' situations by defeating Voldemort, and his admiration is clearly reflected by his dying words. Far from the fearful, cowering slave Harry first met in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, his noble, grand courage is climaxed by his daring rescue, but perhaps most importantly, he dies a free elf, which Harry will note on his tombstone.
Although the unfortunate experience at Malfoy Manor has resulted in Dobby's tragic death, Dean, Griphook, Luna, and Ollivander are rescued from an uncertain, but likely deadly, fate. Also, Bellatrix Lestrange's frantic behavior about her vault may signal something that the Trio will need to know.
One point perhaps worth mentioning is that once again the difference between House-elf Apparition and human Apparition is seen. In the first chapter, Death Eaters Apparate just outside Malfoy Manor's gates and then proceed on foot; similarly, the Snatchers Apparate to just outside the same gates and proceed on foot once admitted. This is a clear indication that Apparition has been barred inside the Manor grounds. Yet Dobby Apparates in and out. It is curious, perhaps, that Harry and Ron, once they have defeated Bellatrix, are able to Apparate out of the manor; though the spells around the Burrow apparently prevented Apparition in either direction, perhaps Voldemort or Lucius worked a more advanced version of that spell, so it is only Apparition into the manor which is prohibited. Or perhaps it is a matter of timing: Voldemort is unlikely to want to Apparate to a location outside the protection of Malfoy Manor, so he might have arranged the spell preventing Apparition so that he could disable it, allowing himself to Apparate when he chose. As he has just Disapparated to return to Malfoy Manor, it is possible that he temporarily disabled the anti-Apparition spells to allow himself entry, and that provided a loophole which Harry and Ron were able to utilize.
- How could Dobby Apparate into the supposedly impenetrable cellar? What other impenetrable area has been seen where an elf Apparated into?
- Why does Draco claim not to recognize any Trio member? Why does he finally admit that it could be Ron and Hermione?
- How does Hermione being tortured affect Ron?
- Why does Wormtail's silver hand strangle him now?
- How did Dobby know where to find Harry and the others?
- Why do Lucius and Bellatrix argue over who will summon Voldemort, now that Harry has been captured?
- How does Draco's character compare to his family's, particularly his father, Lucius Malfoy? What accounts for this?
- What might be the after-effects of Hermione's torture?
- Whose blue eye might Harry be glimpsing in the mirror fragment? If it is not Dumbledore, why would Harry trust that this person will help?
In discussing Draco Malfoy's humanity, it should be noted that Dumbledore had also recognized this trait in him. As we will find out shortly, by the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore knew that Voldemort had tasked Draco with murdering him. This was why Dumbledore extracted Snape's promise, that, if necessary, Snape would kill Dumbledore: primarily to save Draco's soul from that first, destructive act that would cost him that humanity and irretrievably push him to the Dark side. Dumbledore was also aware that Draco would likely fail in his mission, likely resulting in his execution, and suspected that another Death Eater would complete the job. Snape would allow Dumbledore to die with dignity and by his own design, whereas other Death Eaters would not.
Draco is not entirely redeemed, however, and in a later chapter, he will attempt to capture Harry for Voldemort, though he may be motivated by trying to reprieve his family from the Dark Lord's wrath. In this light, it is important to compare Draco's behaviour here, and later in the story, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are searching for something in the Room of Requirement, and Draco, with his sidekicks Crabbe and Goyle, tries to intervene and capture Harry for the Dark Lord. We will see that back at Hogwarts, away from his family's influence and with his minions in tow, Draco once more reverts to his previous, bullying self. This will be short-lived, as Draco once again falls apart when he is separated from his followers. This is typical bully behaviour, particularly one like Draco who has learned his techniques from one of his parents. Without his "gang's" support, Draco is cowardly. Even with his cronies, whenever things deviate from his internal script, he has little recourse except to run away — note his reaction when Hermione slapped him in an earlier year.
Harry, witnessing Bellatrix's near-panic when the Sword of Gryffindor is discovered, and remembering Griphook's earlier words that the replica Sword of Gryffindor was moved from the Headmaster's office to a Gringotts vault, will correctly guess that it is the Lestrange vault where the fake Sword is secured, and that there is another object stored there that Voldemort highly values. Harry will correctly surmise that this is another Horcrux, and that it is Hufflepuff's Cup, that being the only Founders' artifact that was mentioned or seen in Hokey's memory, but not examined.
The reader likely recognizes the high tower that Voldemort is inspecting as Nurmengard, and may have guessed that the old man who Voldemort is interrogating is Gellert Grindelwald. This constitutes, in Voldemort's mind, the penultimate link in the chain that he is following towards the Elder Wand. He will learn that Grindelwald had lost the wand to Dumbledore, and will guess that Dumbledore had the wand interred with him. Very shortly, Harry, who will have reached the same conclusion, will have to decide whether he will race Voldemort to Hogwarts for that wand, or whether he will continue to chase Horcruxes. It will be mentioned later that event timing in this chapter is somewhat critical; Harry must be distracted enough that he withdraws from Voldemort's mind just as Voldemort is examining Grindelwald's memories. If Harry perceives the battle between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, tinged as it is bound to be by the memories of their friendship (and possibly more than friendship), the turmoil in Harry's mind could only be increased, causing him to be less likely to make the necessary decisions to close this book satisfactorily. To this end, Hermione's torture and Harry's fight with Pettigrew are necessary to this final book's plot.
In light of what happens in future chapters, we should note the various wands that are changing hands in this chapter. Harry's own damaged wand remains, of course, hidden and useless in his Moke-skin bag. The short blackthorn wand Harry was using, Ron's wand, and Hermione's wand are all captured by the Snatchers, and while we see the blackthorn wand again, its role in the upcoming battle is insignificant. Ron captures Pettigrew's wand and uses it to disarm Bellatrix; Harry uses Bellatrix' wand to Stun Lucius Malfoy, who still lacks a wand, having surrendered his to Voldemort. Bellatrix forces Harry and Ron to drop their wands, and Draco collects them. After the chandelier falls, Harry recovers Bellatrix' and Pettigrew's wands from Draco, as well as claiming Draco's, Stuns Fenrir and tosses one wand to Ron. Narcissa attempts to jinx Harry but is disarmed by Dobby. The other Snatchers are excluded from the matter, as Bellatrix had previously Stunned everyone when her demand for the Sword of Gryffindor was resisted. So as they leave Malfoy Manor, they take Pettigrew's, Draco's, and Bellatrix' captured wands, leaving Hermione's, Ron's, and the blackthorn one Harry had been so annoyed by. Harry will guess, without much support, that the Death Eaters will interrogate Hermione's wand and determine that it had broken Harry's wand, the one that Voldemort so feared. We will see no evidence, however, that this has actually occurred, or that a wand can be interrogated with such high precision after so lengthy a time and many intervening spells.
Chapter 24: The Wandmaker
Harry realizes they have successfully Apparated to Bill and Fleur Weasley’s seaside cottage, despite his uncertainty at takeoff. Bill reports that Hermione is inside and is alright. Pulling the knife from Dobby's lifeless body, Harry then covers him with his jacket. As Dean carries the injured Griphook into the cottage, Harry's scar prickles as he watches Voldemort punishing those at Malfoy Manor.
Harry wants to bury Dobby himself, without magic, and uses only a spade to dig a grave in the garden. His scar burning, he subdues the pain and blocks out Voldemort’s thoughts with his grief . . . though, of course, Dumbledore would have called it "love". His own thoughts turn to Wormtail and the brief merciful act that cost him his life. Dumbledore foresaw that, but what else had he known? Harry resolves to only hunt Horcruxes as Dumbledore wanted, rather than also searching for the Deathly Hallows.
Ron and Dean return, carrying spades to help Harry dig. After clothing Dobby's body with shoes, socks, and a hat, they gently place him into the grave and bury him. Luna suggests saying a few words, and each in turn gives thanks to the tiny Elf who saved their lives. Harry places a large rock on the grave as a headstone and uses a wand to inscribe: HERE LIES DOBBY, A FREE ELF
Harry is greatly relieved to hear that Ginny is no longer at Hogwarts and that she and the other Weasleys are safely hidden at Auntie Muriel's house. Shell Cottage is likewise protected by charms. Bill says Ollivander and Griphook can be moved to Muriel’s in about an hour, but Harry strongly objects. He must talk with them first.
Harry wonders how Dobby knew to rescue them. The blue eye in the mirror shard brings Dumbledore’s words back to him: Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it. Although Harry feels closer to understanding what Dumbledore intended for him to do, he still wonders. Dumbledore had given Ron the Deluminator, knowing he would need a way back should he leave the mission. And he understood that there was regret within Wormtail. But what did Dumbledore know about him? Had he deliberately made everything so difficult to give Harry time to work everything out?
Harry insists on speaking to Griphook and Ollivander, overruling Fleur’s and Bill's objections that they are too weak; Harry reminds Bill that he is an Order of the Phoenix member and knows that Harry is on a mission for Dumbledore.
The Trio first meets with Griphook, who is clutching Gryffindor’s Sword. Griphook thinks Harry is an odd wizard for burying an Elf and rescuing a Goblin, though Harry is unsure if that is meant as praise or insult. Harry asks for Griphook's help to break into a Gringotts vault, stunning Ron and Hermione. Griphook claims it is impossible, but Ron contradicts him, citing the break-in seven years ago; Griphook retorts that the vault was empty then. Harry assures Griphook he is not seeking personal gain. Slowly, Griphook agrees to consider it. The respect and protection Harry has shown Goblins and Elves has convinced him that Harry is probably the only wizard who would break into Gringotts for something other than its treasures. When Harry insists the issue is not Goblins versus wizards, Griphook points out that all magical creatures are suppressed under wizard rule and Elves are being slaughtered. Who amongst the wizards protests? Hermione says they do, and, as a Mudblood, she holds no higher position than the Goblins and Elves under Voldemort's new order. Griphook asks what Harry seeks in the Lestrange’s vault, being as he has the genuine Gryffindor’s Sword; Harry responds only that the vault contains other objects. Griphook agrees to consider Harry's offer, but now wants to sleep.
Later, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that Bellatrix's terrified reaction when she believed they were inside her vault has convinced him that a Horcrux is hidden there. Unlike Voldemort's other hiding places that were personally meaningful to him, Harry thinks he would envy anyone with a Gringotts vault, something only the oldest Wizarding families could have. Harry suspects Bellatrix and her husband are unaware they are storing Voldemort's Horcrux, just as he never revealed the truth about Tom Riddle's Diary to Lucius Malfoy. The safest place to hide anything, says Harry, is in Gringotts.
Ollivander declares that Harry's damaged wand is irreparable. He also identifies the two wands taken from Malfoy Manor. The first is Bellatrix’s walnut and Dragon heartstring wand. Draco’s is a hawthorn and Unicorn hair wand, though it may no longer actually belong to Draco because Harry captured it. Ollivander explains how wands can transfer their allegiance—the wand chooses the wizard. While a wizard can use almost any wand, it is less effective than his own. A conquered wand usually bends to its new master’s will, and this allegiance can be won without killing an opponent. Ollivander identifies the chestnut and Dragon heartstring wand as the one he was forced to make for Peter Pettigrew. It will serve Ron reasonably well if he captured it. Ollivander also explains about legendary wands passing ownership through murder; he believes there is really only one, and acknowledges that Voldemort is curious about it. Ollivander admits he was tortured into confessing that Voldemort's and Harry’s wands share twin cores. He advised Voldemort to use another wand against Harry, but Harry says his wand destroyed the other wand, surprising Ollivander; Harry’s wand did something unique. Voldemort will now seek a wand more powerful than Harry's. Harry believes that if the Prior Incantato spell is used on Hermione's confiscated wand, then Voldemort will know that her spell broke Harry's wand and she was unable to repair it.
Ollivander confirms that Voldemort wants the Elder Wand, believing it can defeat Harry and make him invincible. However, the Elder Wand's master is always vulnerable to attack, and Ollivander believes the Elder Wand can pass ownership without murder; its bloody history grew because many fought and died to possess such a desirable object. Ollivander admits telling Voldemort that Gregorovitch once had the Elder Wand, though Gregorovitch may have started that as a rumor to boost his business. Ollivander knows nothing about the Deathly Hallows or the Elder Wand's connection to them.
Later, in the clifftop garden, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that Gregorovitch once possessed the Elder Wand, though it was stolen long ago by Grindelwald. Harry suddenly "sees" Voldemort approaching Hogwarts’ gate but continues talking. With the Elder Wand, Grindelwald became the most powerful Dark wizard of that time. Only Dumbledore could defeat him, and he captured the Elder Wand that is entombed with him at Hogwarts. Ron wants to go there, but Harry says they must only hunt Horcruxes, not Deathly Hallows.
Everything suddenly grows dark and cool, then Harry sees a white marble tomb loom into view. Voldemort splits it open with his wand. Within lies Dumbledore’s shrouded body, the Elder Wand tucked under his folded arms. Voldemort wonders how Dumbledore could have believed the tomb would protect it. As he grasps the wand, sparks flare from its tip. It is ready to serve its new master.
Ollivander's comment that the Elder Wand's master must always fear attack is revealing, meaning that despite whoever wields the wand with its superior power, the wand alone does not make that wizard invincible, leaving him vulnerable enough to be conquered. We saw the same warning in the Tale of the Three Brothers, where the brother with the Elder Wand was murdered in his sleep the very night after he first used the wand in a duel. Harry realizes that If Grindelwald was the blond thief who stole the Elder Wand from Gregorovitch, and Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald, that, even without killing him, the wand's allegiance must have shifted to Dumbledore. Considering Grindelwald's and the wand's combined power, it is a testament to Dumbledore's considerable magical abilities that he was victorious. It is also a testament to Dumbledore's humanity that he spared Grindelwald, allowing him to be permanently incarcerated for his heinous crimes, though Dumbledore's prior relationship with Grindelwald may have tempered his actions. However, that decision had a price: leaving Grindelwald alive left a trail leading directly to the Elder Wand. Harry correctly surmises that Voldemort now knows the Elder Wand exists, and he is likely seeking it; Harry later watches Voldemort at Hogwarts as he is about to retrieve it from Dumbledore's tomb. Seeing how easily Voldemort can retrieve the wand and knowing its power, we should perhaps wonder why Dumbledore never made other arrangements for its disposal following his death. Harry, meanwhile, now realizes that his obsession with the Deathly Hallows had endangered the mission. He abandons pursuing them to instead only focus on finding and destroying the Horcruxes, a decision he makes despite lingering doubts about Dumbledore.
Harry deeply mourns Dobby's death, and his choosing to dig the grave manually is, for him, a gesture showing respect, gratitude, and love. The House-elf was not only his protector, but also a valued friend who forfeited his life to save Harry and the others. Using magic to quickly and easily excavate a dirt hole would only have lessened Dobby's bravery and heroism in Harry's mind, and he feels a need to exert himself physically to affirm Dobby's sacrifice before laying his fallen friend to rest. Also, for Harry, who is overcome with emotion, the physical exertion helps alleviate his anguish and anxiety and affords him time to reflect calmly and rationally on recent events. Dobby's death, rather than inciting Harry's rage and vengeance, instead focuses him solely on defeating Voldemort. This tragedy and its aftermath have not only helped Harry gain much needed perspective regarding his mission, but it enables him to retake command. Harry also clothes Dobby's body, an act that honors him as a free elf, clothing symbolizing a House-elf's sovereignty. Harry further acknowledges Dobby's independence on his tombstone for all to see. Ron and Dean helping to dig the grave not only shows respect for and gratitude to Dobby, but also their solidarity with Harry. Luna leading the others in saying a few final words is probably a rare instance where wizards have ever paid tribute to a House-elf.
Harry choosing to dig Dobby's grave by hand seems to echo Hagrid's digging a grave for Aragog in an earlier book. It is certainly true that for Harry and Hagrid digging their respective friends' graves by hand is more respectful and emotionally healing than using magic. Quite possibly, Harry and Hagrid are not alone among wizards in feeling that using magic, with its effortless appearance, to bury someone is somehow less meaningful. Readers may have been taken aback by the unceremonious way Professor Slughorn magically filled in Aragog's grave after the earlier incident, but we see here that Dobby's grave is similarly filled magically. From this, we conclude that Slughorn's action was standard practice, rather than possibly unseemly haste to get to the mead he had brought for the wake.
Griphook's tight hold on the Sword of Gryffindor should also be noted by us. Harry is asking Griphook to assist him in a supposedly impossible enterprise, and Griphook is reluctant. We might wonder if Griphook's price for that assistance could be the Sword, of which he seems very possessive.
Also, Griphook's argument that Gringotts Bank is impenetrable, despite the earlier break-in in the Philosopher's Stone, certainly seems weak. He may be attempting to dissuade Harry from pursuing his risky plan, or is downplaying the previous lapse in security. If the Trio succeeds, however, Gringotts will likely have to restructure their security systems to pacify nervous clients who are likely hiding many secrets within their vaults.
- Does Griphook really believe that it is impossible to break into Gringotts? How might it be done?
- What does Griphook mean when he calls Harry an "odd" wizard? Why is Harry unsure if he is being praised or insulted?
- Hermione claims that Muggle-borns have as little status as non-human magical folk under Voldemort's rule. Is this accurate or not? Explain why.
- If the Elder Wand is the world's most powerful wand, why is its master always vulnerable to defeat? How might Dumbledore have won its allegiance from Grindelwald without killing him?
- Is Gringott's really the safest place to hide something as Harry claims? Explain.
- Why does Harry dig Dobby's grave without using any magic? Why do Ron and Dean likewise help?
- Why does Harry clothe Dobby's body before burying him?
- Is Harry correct that Dumbledore meant for it to take time for Harry time to figure out how to complete the mission? If so, why?
- Why did Voldemort never reveal to Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy that the objects he entrusted them with were his Horcruxes? What might they have done if they had known?
- Why would Voldemort torture Ollivander for information rather than using a memory charm or a truth potion? Which method is more reliable?
- Why didn't Dumbledore kill Grindelwald in their duel? While letting him live may have been a humane decision, was it a wise choice? Explain.
- Why would Dumbledore wish to be entombed with the Elder Wand, knowing Voldemort could easily retrieve it?
By carefully examining Harry's questions to Mr. Ollivander, we can see that Harry is attempting to determine who is the Elder Wand's current master. Harry knows that Draco Malfoy forcibly removed the wand from Dumbledore's hand, and that it was unused before being placed inside the tomb with Dumbledore's corpse. Harry has already discovered that a wand that is borrowed or simply given to someone, as Ron did with the blackthorn wand he captured from a Snatcher and gave to Harry, usually works much less efficiently than the user's own wand. In fact, Ron, who captured it, was probably the blackthorn wand's actual master. Harry's questions seem intended to confirm that this theory about the Elder Wand is true. If it is, Voldemort will likely discover that the Elder Wand performs far less effectively than he anticipated. The opposing theory, that the Elder Wand only changes allegiance when its master is murdered, seems supported by its bloody history; however, Harry realizes that Dumbledore fully commanded the wand despite Grindelwald's remaining alive, and Grindelwald, in turn, did not have to kill Gregorovitch to gain the wand's full power. Although Ollivander does confirm this theory, Harry remains unsure, and over the next weeks while they are planning the assault on Gringotts and recovering from their injuries, Harry repeatedly wonders if he did the right thing, allowing Voldemort to claim the Elder Wand.
As a side note, one might wonder how Ron was able to use the wand that Harry had simply given him in Malfoy Manor. By sheer luck, that wand was Pettigrew's, which Ron had wrested away from him in the cellar. Though it had since been confiscated by Draco, it was surrendered by Ron rather than forcefully taken from him, and so Ron probably remained its new master. Harry pulling the wand away from Draco would have been less relevant to it, as Draco was never its master.
Hermione complains later that Bellatrix Lestrange's wand performs poorly for her; this is because, being nearly unconscious from pain, she took no part in the multiple disarmament jinxes or possession struggles. Thus, that wand is now loyal to the last person who captured it, most likely Ron, who jinxed it from Bellatrix' hand. Knowing what he does now, Harry might be able to rectify that problem by having Hermione forcibly remove the wand from Ron's hand, though he does not. Possibly, his decision, conscious or otherwise, to withhold this solution may be partial retaliation for Hermione's comments regarding how Harry should be able to use the blackthorn wand; however, it is equally likely that it simply does not occur to him. Also, even if Harry did have Hermione forcibly take the wand from Ron, the wand might sense that such a deliberately orchestrated act was a bogus "capture", and it would therefore remain under either Ron's, or possibly even Bellatrix', control.
This side excursion into wand lore becomes important in the final chapters. Dumbledore felt it was safe to be entombed with the Elder Wand because he had arranged that Snape would kill him at an opportune time. As Dumbledore would have never been defeated, dying by his own design, the Elder Wand's power would have died with Dumbledore. This could also partly be the reason why Dumbledore insisted on Snape killing him rather than someone else. However, the plan was foiled as the Elder Wand's allegiance was transferred to Draco Malfoy, who disarmed Dumbledore just prior to Snape killing him. The new owner has since been disarmed by another person, Harry, who, unknowingly, now commands the Elder Wand because he controls Draco's wand, the specific tool with which Draco disarmed Dumbledore. As Ollivander points out, it is forcibly capturing the wand, rather than murder, that alters its ownership. Although Voldemort physically possesses the Elder Wand, it is partly because he never won its allegiance that he is defeated by Harry in the final battle. Voldemort, who does not know that Dumbledore's death by Snape's hand was prearranged, and unaware of Draco's disarming of Dumbledore, believes that Snape is the master of the Elder Wand and will eventually kill Snape in his futile attempt to win the wand's allegiance.
On a separate topic, we will shortly see that Griphook agrees to help Harry break into Gringotts, but his price is the Sword of Gryffindor. Over the next few chapters, we learn that Goblin ideas about property are far different than wizards; Goblins believe an object's maker retains ownership, and what wizards consider a sale is, to Goblins, merely a long-term lease. As such, Auntie Muriel's Goblin-made tiara and the Sword of Gryffindor should, as far as the Goblins are concerned, have been returned to Goblins, possibly when the original owners died. As soon as Griphook states his price, we see that there will be difficulties. Harry will want to keep the one artifact he knows can destroy Horcruxes. Though Harry and Ron resolve to keep the Sword until the final Horcrux is destroyed, then turn it over to Griphook, this plan will be rendered moot when Griphook, Sword in hand, abandons the Trio in the Gringotts deep vaults. The Sword, assisted by the Sorting Hat, will have its own ideas regarding where it belongs, however.
Chapter 25: Shell Cottage
Harry spends as much time as possible alone on the cliff tops. This is the first time an opportunity has arisen where, rather than deciding to act, he instead chooses to do nothing. Even to himself, his reasoning for not racing to Hogwarts to retrieve the Elder Wand before Voldemort grows weaker every time he considers it. Ron's doubting is hardly helpful, and even Hermione's support is confusing. Convinced now that the Elder Wand does exist, she believes the way it was retrieved, and the wand itself, are evil. Ron questions if Dumbledore is truly dead – there is the silver doe and the eye in the mirror. If it is not Dumbledore's eye, then who sent Dobby?
Later, Griphook agrees to help Harry, even though it is betraying Gringotts, but he wants payment: the Sword of Gryffindor. The Sword, Griphook says, was Goblin-made, therefore, it still belongs to Goblins. Griphook is affronted when Ron mentions there are other valuables in the vault he might want: he is not a thief. Griphook claims that Gryffindor stole the Sword from Ragnuk the First. Harry, Ron, and Hermione want time to consider Griphook's request.
Harry wonders if the Sword was stolen from the Goblins. Hermione says that wizard-written history books often gloss over what was inflicted on nonhuman races. Ron's suggestion that they swap the real Sword for the fake one is dismissed, as Griphook would immediately detect the replica. Offering an equal value item is proposed, but they have nothing to trade. Harry finally decides to offer the Sword to Griphook, but only after all the Horcruxes have been destroyed. Hermione dislikes this idea, it could take years. Harry agrees, but he does not have another plan.
Griphook agrees to Harry's carefully worded agreement. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Griphook spend the next several weeks planning the Gringotts' assault, during which Harry realizes he dislikes the Goblin, who seems uncaring and cheerful that other wizards might be injured. He also seems to enjoy making things difficult for Fleur. She is gladdened that Ollivander will shortly move to Aunt Muriel's, and she can then juggle bedrooms. Harry tells her that he, Ron, and Dean are fine sleeping in the living room. Keeping Griphook happy is essential to the Trio's plans. He also informs Fleur that he, Ron, and Hermione will be leaving soon.
As Ollivander and Bill are about to depart for Aunt Muriel's, Fleur asks Ollivander to deliver Muriel's borrowed tiara. Griphook, eying the tiara almost eagerly, mentions that it was made by Goblins; Bill responds it was paid for by wizards.
Bill returns shortly after, reporting that everything is fine at Muriel's, though the Twins are running an owl order business from the back bedroom. As dinner ends, there is a loud bang at the door. Lupin identifies himself and announces that he and Tonks are parents to a baby boy, named Ted after Tonks' father. He asks Harry to be godfather, and Harry, stunned, accepts. The celebration goes through several bottles before Lupin departs.
Bill privately asks Harry if he has a deal with Griphook, warning him that Goblins have foreign ideas regarding ownership. They believe wizards are untrustworthy in matters regarding treasure, and that property stays with the maker, considering Goblin-made wares to be leased rather than purchased. Griphook evidently feels that Auntie Muriel's tiara should have been returned to the Goblins when the original owner died. Though Harry never admits he and Griphook have an agreement, he promises Bill to be careful, then returns to the celebration, which continues even after Lupin leaves.
Rowling has pointed out separately, in an interview, that Harry deciding for the first time not to act upon something is an important part of his maturation. He sees an avenue he can pursue that will thwart one aspect of Voldemort's scheme, but he instead chooses to simply watch and make other plans that will lead to a resolution he has been striving for since the story began. Always before, Harry had seen a clear, straight path – going through the trap door, entering the Chamber, freeing Sirius, dueling Voldemort, flying to the Ministry, recovering a Horcrux – and has followed it. These rather linear actions created a familiar pattern, making Harry predictable to his enemies. Now there is a defined action that Harry can take, traveling to Hogwarts to prevent Voldemort from claiming the Elder Wand, but after careful consideration, he opts to ignore it.
Harry's agreement with Griphook is risky, and it is unclear if the Goblin can be trusted, though Griphook likely feels the same about Harry. It is obvious that the Goblin's only intent is to obtain Gryffindor's Sword, which he firmly believes belongs to Goblins, rather than helping to rid Voldemort from the wizarding world. As Hermione pointed out, the centuries of ill-treatment that Goblins and other non-human magical folks have endured under wizards has been glossed over in history books written by biased historians. Voldemort, meanwhile, has been actively recruiting non-human denizens, and Griphook and many other magical creatures may believe they could fare better, or at least no worse, under Voldemort's domination than they have had serving wizards, possibly resulting in them either supporting Voldemort or even adopting a neutral stance in order to conduct business as usual once the war has ended. This could be cause enough for Griphook to betray the Trio once the Horcrux is retrieved from the Lestrange vault. Harry likely suspects that Griphook may double-cross him, but he has little choice but to place his faith in him for now and follow through with their plan.
It should be noted that Griphook has personally been ill-treated by Voldemort's Snatchers and lieutenants, and is affronted by the Dark Lord's agents interfering in Gringotts' operations. One wonders why he resists Harry's efforts to fight Voldemort, demanding payment for what should result in more freedom if Harry succeeds. While this is left unanswered, Griphook seems fully in character. His mercenary nature would likely result in his exacting payment for any action he takes; that he is Harry's only hope to successfully enter Gringotts allows him to demand a higher price, which he does. He may also be anticipating that returning the Sword to Goblinkind will restore his prestige, possibly earning him a promotion within Gringotts or lead to other Goblin endeavors. And quite likely Griphook believes that Harry's effort is doomed to fail, and that even with Griphook's help, Voldemort will remain in power.
The rift between Harry and Lupin has finally been healed, and, partially due to Harry, Lupin realizes that not only is he a suitable husband and father, but a worthy human being and valuable Order of the Phoenix member, despite being a Werewolf. His being a Werewolf has actually been a tremendous asset to the Order, allowing him to infiltrate, at great personal risk, Fenrir Greyback's lycanthropic realm to gather valuable information. Lupin asking Harry to be godfather to his newborn son not only shows how deeply he cares for and respects Harry, but also that he and Tonks believe that Harry, being an orphan, is the most qualified person to guide and mentor baby Teddy should anything happen to them, though there is no certainty that any will survive.
Although it is never explained, it seems odd that Fleur would ask Mr. Ollivander, rather than Bill, to return Aunt Muriel's tiara. The author may be directing the reader's attention to this type of object for a specific reason.
- Why does Harry no longer want to pursue the Deathly Hallows, even though Dumbledore obviously pointed him in that direction?
- Why does Lupin ask Harry to be godfather to his newborn son? Why does Harry accept?
- Does Harry intend to honor his agreement with Griphook? Will Griphook honor it? Explain.
- If the Deathly Hallows are not directly related to Harry's mission, why would Dumbledore bring them to Harry's attention?
- Why would Fleur request that Ollivander, rather than Bill, return Aunt Muriel's tiara?
- Does the Sword of Gryffindor actually belong to the Goblins as Griphook claims?
- Why do Goblins consider Wizards untrustworthy? Is this distrust warranted?
- Are Goblins trustworthy? Explain.
- Hermione states that history books written by wizards can be inaccurate. Is this a valid statement? Explain. Does that apply to general history books?
Like the cup of tea that Dudley left outside Harry's bedroom door in Chapter 2, Rowling has guided the reader's attention to another seemingly insignificant object, a tiara, also known as a diadem. This would be the second tiara that has been pointed out to us, the other being the one on Rowena Ravenclaw's statue at the Lovegoods'. As we now believe, one Horcrux is Hufflepuff's Cup. That would seem to indicate that Ravenclaw's Diadem is a likely candidate to be another Horcrux, though its whereabouts are still unknown.
As mentioned, Harry's discussions with Ollivander were designed to determine who currently has the Elder Wand's allegiance. Despite Ollivanders' explanation, Harry still doubts that Voldemort's control over the Elder Wand is incomplete, and he will continue to doubt this until he directly confronts the Dark Lord. Harry fears he has given Voldemort an unbeatable weapon, and interestingly, this worry's description completely overshadows, for most readers, determining its ownership. The ongoing debates with Griphook are important here, as they serve to distract Harry, and us, from considering the Elder Wand's true ownership, something that becomes critically important shortly. Harry's mind might be eased, somewhat, if he considers that while the Elder Wand is truly the most powerful wand, Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald, who then commanded the Elder Wand. Obviously, while that wand may make its owner more powerful, it does not make him invincible.
This chapter's action mainly focuses on limning Griphook's character, setting the scene for his quick departure in Gringotts' subterranean caverns, bearing the Sword of Gryffindor. Harry comes to dislike Griphook, a feeling we readers are apt to echo by this chapter's end, and that Griphook likely feels about Harry. Because of this preliminary description, Griphook's sudden exit, while dismaying, is certainly true to his character.
Chapter 26: Gringotts
Their plan is simple: accompany Griphook to Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Hermione, disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange by using Polyjuice Potion, can open her vault and retrieve the Horcrux. They have Bellatrix's wand that was captured at Malfoy Manor, and strands of her hair for the Polyjuice Potion. Bellatrix's wand performs poorly for Hermione, however, worrying her, though Draco's hawthorn wand works well for Harry. He suspects Hermione is having difficulty because she did not capture the wand's allegiance as he did with Draco's. Harry, eager to leave Shell Cottage, frets over how to prevent Griphook from keeping Gryffindor's Sword after breaching the Lestrange vault.
Harry informs Bill and Fleur that they are leaving early, and requests Bill not see them off; with Hermione in disguise, Harry wants to prevent him from guessing their plan. Before Apparating out, Harry sadly glimpses Dobby's grave and wonders how the House-elf knew to save them. Hermione is so convincing in her Bellatrix disguise, that Harry shivers with loathing. Ron, also disguised, grouses about his appearance. Harry, with Griphook on his shoulders, will be hidden under the Invisibility Cloak.
Inside Diagon Alley, they are taken aback by the changes. Dark Arts shops now line the street while many familiar stores have been boarded over. Witches and wizards whose wands have been confiscated beg in the street, and Harry's "Undesirable Number One" wanted posters are everywhere. Their plan proceeds reasonably well. Hermione makes a convincing Bellatrix, though Harry warns her against being too polite to subordinates. Travers, a Death Eater, approaches and addresses "Bellatrix". He is surprised Bellatrix is outside Malfoy Manor after hearing everyone there had been confined to the house and that Bellatrix's wand was lost. Hermione dismisses his comment by responding that the Dark Lord shows mercy to those who have served him well. Travers' suspicions seem eased, and he accompanies the group to Gringotts. Two human guards there have Probity Probes that detect concealment charms. Harry Confunds them and Hermione passes unchecked, though their apparent confusion causes Travers a moment's pause. Inside, the Goblins request Bellatrix's identification. When Hermione hesitates, one nervously says that her wand is sufficient proof, though she claims it is new. Harry suspects the Goblins know that Bellatrix's wand was stolen and are looking for an impostor. Griphook suggests using the Imperius curse on the Goblin, Bogrod, who then accepts this wand as being correct. Harry also puts Travers under the curse when he becomes suspicious, knowing there are no wandmakers available. Bogrod requests the Clankers, then leads Hermione and Ron, with Harry, Griphook, and Travers into a passageway. The door slams shut, and Harry sends Travers away to hide. Bogrod, still under the Imperius curse, summons a cart that descends deep within Gringotts. After many twists and turns, the cart passes through a security waterfall that washes away all illusion charms. When the cart overturns and dumps them out, Hermione and Ron are themselves. Griphook believes the other Goblins know they are impostors, but Harry wants to continue and curses Bogrod again.
The Lestrange vault is guarded by an aged, half-blind Dragon that Griphook subdues by using the Clankers. Harry guesses that the cowering Dragon associates the Clanker noise with pain. Hearing pursuit approaching, Harry forces Bogrod to open the vault, which is filled with precious objects. The vault closes behind them. Griphook says Bogrod can release them, but they must search quickly. Hermione screams in pain. The vault's protective charm causes the contents to start multiplying and become searing hot every time something is touched. Harry spots Hufflepuff’s Cup, but it is out of reach. Hermione levitates Harry, and he snags the Cup with Gryffindor's Sword, while Hermione, Ron, Griphook, and Bogrod struggle to stay above the hot multiplying objects below. As Harry sets himself down, he drops the Sword and the Cup. Griphook grabs Gryffindor's Sword, and flips Hufflepuff's Cup up into the air. Harry catches it, ignoring the searing heat. Borne by a treasure avalanche spilling from the now-opened vault, Griphook runs off clutching Gryffindor's Sword, yelling that thieves are in the vault. Harry, Hermione, and Ron hurl curses at the Goblin throng. Harry releases the half-blind Dragon and the three jump on its back. The freed Dragon takes flight, the Trio blasting holes into the ceiling for it to fly through as they make their escape.
Although the Trio and Griphook spent much time carefully planning the Gringotts break-in, it may not have been as well thought-out as they believed, which is surprising considering their near-disastrous experience at the Ministry of Magic. It should have occurred to them after witnessing Bellatrix's extreme reaction over the Lestrange vault, that Gringotts could have been alerted about a possible attempt to breach it, and that Harry has Bellatrix's captured wand. It is possible that Griphook, distrusting Harry's agreement, which Harry never intended to immediately honour, may have planned on the Trio being caught so he could reclaim Gryffindor's Sword for Goblins. Although there is no definitive proof for this, he apparently knew what security measures were in place, and should have been able to advise the Trio on how to avert them. The caper also placed a heavy burden on Hermione, who had to convincingly portray Bellatrix. Despite executing the deception relatively well, it is likely that Gringotts may have been tipped off.
As they arrive in Diagon Alley, the Trio, who have remained relatively isolated from the magical community, now see the direct result that Voldemort's take-over has had on the Wizarding world. Many familiar stores are gone, boarded up, or have been replaced by Dark Arts shops that probably were in Knockturn Alley. Muggle-borns, homeless and their wands confiscated, have been reduced to begging in the streets.
It almost seems that Harry's quest has reached a dead-end. Of the six Horcruxes that he believes to exist, three (Riddle's Diary, the Gaunt Ring, and Slytherin's Locket) have been destroyed. He has found a fourth, but has lost the means to destroy it, and while he believes that the fifth may be Nagini, he has no idea what the final one is, or where it is hidden. How shall he proceed?
Also, readers may remember Travers as one of the Death Eaters who appeared at Xenophilius Lovegood's house when Xeno alerted the Voldemort-controlled Ministry of Magic that Harry, Hermione, and Ron had arrived there. The Trio likely never recognized him, probably only briefly glimpsing him while they were escaping the Lovegood house. Travers was also mentioned when the Trio were infiltrating the Ministry; Umbridge assumed that Travers had sent Mafalda Hopkirk to be her recorder, thus taking Hermione, who was disguised as her, away for what promised to be a full day in court.
- Why does Harry choose to proceed to the vault rather than escape, even though he is aware the Goblins know they are impostors?
- Why does Travers become suspicious?
- Why did Griphook flip up Hufflepuff's Cup to Harry as he (Griphook) ran off with Gryffindor's sword?
- Why didn't Griphook warn the Trio about the magical waterfall that washed away protective charms, the hot, multiplying objects in the vault, and other safeguards?
- Before Fred and George went into hiding, how might their joke shop have been affected by the changes in Diagon Alley?
- Now that the sword is gone, how will the Trio be able to destroy the remaining Horcruxes? How can they get the sword back?
- Are there other ways to kill a Horcrux other than the Sword of Gryffindor? If so, how come the Trio has not considered them?
As we know, Basilisk venom destroys Horcruxes. With the Sword of Gryffindor now no longer available, Harry may have to go to the only place that the venom exists: the Chamber of Secrets beneath Hogwarts. As it turns out, there will be a more compelling reason for Harry to return to Hogwarts; Voldemort, enraged when he discovers that a Horcrux has been stolen, will shortly visit all his Horcruxes to reassure himself they are safe, and Harry, tuned into Voldemort's thoughts, will learn that one Horcrux is hidden at Hogwarts, as he had long suspected. Thus, he will be forced to visit the school in any event. At the moment, though, Harry is more interested in collecting Horcruxes than destroying them; we will see that he does not even consider how to destroy the Cup Horcrux, being more concerned with preventing Voldemort from reaching the one at Hogwarts.
Chapter 27: The Final Hiding Place
With no way to steer the Dragon, Harry, Hermione, and Ron can merely hang on, hoping for an opportunity to land safely. Fortunately, the beast seems unaware they are aboard. They tightly clutch the Dragon's scales, but if it banks or rolls over, they will fall off. The Dragon continues flying north, seemingly knowing where it is headed, despite being half-blind. Harry wonders if Voldemort has been informed yet that the Lestrange vault was breached. When he is, Voldemort will know Harry is hunting his Horcruxes and may have located others.
After some hours, the Dragon descends and glides over a small lake for a drink. The Trio jumps into the water, making it safely ashore through the reeds. Harry immediately casts protective charms, and they change into dry clothes and tend their burn wounds with Dittany. Although they have successfully retrieved Hufflepuff's Cup, Gryffindor's Sword is lost, rendering them powerless to destroy the remaining Horcruxes. As Ron grumbles over Griphook double-crossing them, pain suddenly streaks across Harry's forehead. He sees a Goblin cowering on his knees before Voldemort while wizards in a semi-circle look on. Voldemort screams in rage when the Goblin reports the Potter boy and his two accomplices took the Cup. Slashing the air with the Elder Wand, the Dark Lord slays the Goblin. Bellatrix, Lucius Malfoy, and the other wizards dart from the room in terror— anyone left behind is fatally felled. Voldemort wonders if Harry knows what the other Horcruxes are, and if he, Voldemort, can feel when they are being destroyed. Voldemort knows the Diary Horcrux was lost, but believes he was unable to detect it because he still lacked a body then. He suspects Dumbledore was involved; Dumbledore never trusted him. Voldemort is confident, however, that the Ring Horcrux remains intact—no one ever connected him to the Gaunts, after all. And the sea cave is too well protected for anyone to penetrate its security, therefore the Locket inside it must still be safe. He will go to Hogwarts to check on the one there; but Nagini must stay with him, must stay safe. But Dumbledore might have known his middle name and made that connection, he will check that one first. Then to the cave; that one is surely safe, still it must be checked. And finally, the one at Hogwarts, though it is also certainly safe, nobody else knows about that place.
Harry opens his eyes to Ron and Hermione peering down at him. Harry says Voldemort knows they are hunting his Horcruxes and that the last one is hidden somewhere at Hogwarts. Harry, though unaware what it is, knows Voldemort is heading there to check on it, but believes it is the safest one because Snape is there. Harry decides they will go to Hogsmeade, then slip into Hogwarts. Covering themselves with the Invisibility Cloak, they Apparate to the small village.
As the plot heads towards its conclusion, the Trio races to Hogwarts to find the last Horcrux, though they have no idea what it is and, having lost Gryffindor's Sword, are unable to destroy it and the others. As a reminder, Dumbledore told Harry that he believed there were six Horcruxes: the Diary, the Ring, and the Locket, all now destroyed; the Cup, probably Nagini, and one other. Harry now has evidence that the unknown one is hidden somewhere in Hogwarts, in a place that Voldemort believes no one else knows exists.
Meanwhile, Voldemort's supreme over-confidence in himself has begun to crumble after Harry and company successfully steal Hufflepuff's Cup from Gringotts Bank. Despite his elaborate planning and extensive security measures, clearly his Horcruxes are vulnerable to being identified or destroyed, though Voldemort believes only the Diary has been eliminated. Although Dumbledore was the only one he ever feared, Voldemort's belief that he is the superior wizard has deluded him into a false sense of invincibility, now that Dumbledore is dead. However, underlying fears and insecurities now appear to be eroding what little sanity Voldemort still retains, causing him to frequently fly into uncontrollable rages and randomly lash out, often fatally, at any follower unfortunate enough to be within striking distance. Voldemort may now realize that he underestimated Dumbledore's ability to uncover and foil his plans, as well as Harry's resourcefulness in identifying and locating the remaining Horcruxes.
To cope, Voldemort lulls himself into believing that he can "feel" when his Horcruxes are destroyed and takes comfort with the false notion that he was unable to detect the Riddle Diary Horcrux being destroyed only because he still lacked a body then. However, he remains ignorant that the Horcruxes within Gaunt's Ring and Slytherin's Locket no longer exist, or that Harry now knows what, or at least where, the remaining Horcruxes are. However, when Voldemort finally does realize this, it will place him on a deadly and irreversible collision course with Harry.
On an unrelated note, while the Trio are riding the Dragon, they are in danger of falling off and must wait until the beast descends before dismounting. Readers may wonder if they could simply have Disapparated to safety while astride it. While there may have been some magical obstacle, this either never occurred to them or, Apparition, requiring that the practitioner turn in place, may be too difficult in such a situation. That necessary "deliberation" step would be impossible while the Trio are holding on for dear life. However, it does appear in an earlier chapter that Mundungus Fletcher is able to Disapparate while similarly beset, though his criminal life has no doubt enabled him to make speedy escapes from difficult corners something he had to learn, and is therefore a skill the Trio lacks.
- Why did Griphook take Gryffindor's Sword?
- Why is Voldemort convinced he will "feel" if his other Horcruxes are destroyed? What proves or disproves this belief?
- What precautions did Voldemort take to protect his Horcruxes? Did they fail? If so, why? What else could he have done?
- Why does Voldemort believe that the Horcrux hidden at Hogwarts is the safest? Is he correct?
- Why does Voldemort believe that no one can ever connect him to the Gaunt family? How was this tie uncovered?
- What is the place in Hogwarts that no one knows about? Why is Voldemort convinced that no one else knows about it? Who does know?
- Is Ron correct that Griphook "double crossed" the Trio by taking Gryffindor's Sword? Explain.
- Even if the Trio can find the last Horcrux, how can they destroy it and the other Horcruxes now that they no longer have Gryffindor's Sword?
- Why and how did Voldemort underestimate Dumbledore's abilities to uncover his plan? Does he now underestimate Harry? If so, how?
- Is it safe for the Trio to go to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts without first devising a plan? Are Death Eaters expecting the Trio?
- How well did the Trio's previous break-ins at the Ministry of Magic and Gringotts Bank work, and what did they learn from each incident that they can apply to sneaking into Hogwarts?
Harry has identified nearly all the Horcruxes, but he is still unaware that he carries a soul fragment, that will act similarly to a Horcrux, within himself. Voldemort also fails to realize this, as it was accidentally created during his attempt to kill baby Harry with the Killing curse that rebounded and struck Voldemort instead. The murder attempt sheared off yet another fragment from Voldemort's soul, and because Voldemort's own soul had been ripped from his body, the soul shard instead attached to Harry. Voldemort's snake, Nagini, is also a Horcrux, as Dumbledore suspected; this is never explicitly stated, but it is certainly implied by Voldemort's decision to keep the snake close at hand and protected (as we will shortly see) where Voldemort can defend her.
The place at Hogwarts that Voldemort believes only he has discovered is the Room of Requirement, which, of course, is known to Harry and the many Dumbledore's Army members. This is yet another example of Voldemort's supreme over-confidence; having found the Room of Requirement, likely by accident, and possibly while pacing the halls looking for a place to hide some Dark experiment, Voldemort assumes he is the only wizard smart enough to have discovered it. He seems to retain this view despite the overwhelming evidence of a millennium's accumulated junk in the room when he first entered it, though perhaps he assumed the room had lain forgotten for centuries, or else that the accumulated detritus had somehow migrated there by an automatic process of the castle. Also, after being instructed by Voldemort on how to locate and enter this room, it would certainly seem that Draco should have realized that it was the Room of Requirement, and that he would have mentioned something to Voldemort about Dumbledore's Army once meeting there, and that Dolores Umbridge's Inquisitorial Squad, of which Draco was a member, had raided it. Draco may have realized this, but, fearing for his and his family's lives, obediently listened to Voldemort's instructions in silence, or he may have been unaware that Voldemort believed he was the only person who knew the room existed.Draco may also have subconsciously been hoping that his secret activities in the room would be discovered, thus preventing Draco from having to carry out Voldemort's plan to murder Dumbledore.
Chapter 28: The Missing Mirror
As soon as Harry, Ron, and Hermione Apparate into Hogsmeade Village, a screeching alarm announces their presence. A Death Eater, guessing that it is Harry, attempts to Summon the Invisibility Cloak they are concealed under, but it fails to respond, keeping the Trio hidden. As they back down a side street, Hermione wants to Apparate out of Hogsmeade, but Harry says that protective spells have probably trapped them there. A sudden chill sweeps in and darkness starts enveloping everything around them: Dementors, sensing their fear, close in. Unable to withstand their suffocating presence, Harry casts a Patronus, scattering the Dementors, but revealing their location. A Death Eater yells that he has seen Harry's Patronus. A nearby door cracks open, and a harsh voice calls out, "Potter, in here, quick!"
Dashing inside, the Trio find themselves in the Hog's Head Inn. From an upstairs window, Harry recognizes the tall barkeeper talking to the Death Eaters outside as Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus' younger brother. Aberforth claims he accidentally set off the Caterwauling curfew alarm while putting his cat out and insists it was his goat Patronus; the Death Eaters initially disbelieve him, but, thrown off the trail, and not wanting to risk losing a convenient location to trade black market goods, decide to leave. Aberforth rebukes the Trio for risking their lives coming to Hogsmeade. Harry spots the twin to the mirror Sirius gave him; Aberforth explains he bought it from Mundungus Fletcher, who stole it from Grimmauld Place. Aberforth has been watching them with it. Harry recognizes Aberforth's eye as the one in the mirror shard and realizes that he sent Dobby to rescue them. Aberforth confirms it was him and is saddened to hear Dobby is dead.
Ron thinks Aberforth sent the doe Patronus, but Aberforth sarcastically reminds him that his Patronus is a goat. Aberforth suggests they wait until the Caterwauling alarm is turned off in the morning, then escape into the mountains. Harry insists they must get into Hogwarts castle because Dumbledore asked him to do something. Scoffs Aberforth, "Did he now? Nice job, I hope? Pleasant? Easy? Sort of thing you'd expect an unqualified wizard kid to be able to do without overstretching themselves?" Ron and Hermione are obviously uncomfortable, and Harry remains silent, struggling with his own misgivings regarding Dumbledore, though he had already resolved to continue trusting him. Aberforth claims that others who trusted Dumbledore often suffered misfortune as a result. He urges the Trio to abandon their mission, believing the Order of the Phoenix is finished and Voldemort has won. It is time to save themselves. Against Harry's protests, Aberforth asks if Dumbledore had been honest and revealed the entire story to Harry. When Harry is unable to respond, Aberforth says that Dumbledore reveled in lies and secrecy, learning it at their mother's knee.
Hermione attempts to ease the tension by inquiring about Aberforth's sister, Ariana, but this backfires when Aberforth brusquely asks if she has been reading Rita Skeeter's book. Harry quickly changes the subject by mentioning Elphias Doge. "That old berk," sneers Aberforth. "Thought the sun shone out of my brother's every orifice." Harry says nothing, still attempting to conceal his uncertainty. Aberforth reveals that Ariana, aged six, was injured by Muggle boys who observed her performing magic. She was never the same, eventually going half-mad and unable to control magic. Their father hunted down the boys in retaliation, but he never told the Ministry why he assaulted them, because, once revealed, Ariana would have been permanently committed to St. Mungo's Hospital. Instead, the family kept her hidden, fostering rumors she was a Squib. With their father in prison, Aberforth and his mother, Kendra cared for Ariana as best they could. Aberforth was Ariana's favorite. Albus, involved with his studies and winning prizes, usually confined himself to his room when at home. One day, while Aberforth was out, Ariana flew into a rage. Unable to subdue Ariana's uncontrollable magic, Kendra was accidentally killed. Albus canceled his Grand Tour with Doge and returned home to care for Ariana and support the family while Aberforth finished his schooling. Aberforth claims Albus resented the responsibility that was forced upon him, though Aberforth had offered to relieve him. Then Albus met Grindelwald, a wizard he considered as brilliant as himself. The two quickly bonded, and, drawn by their mutual attraction to power and fame, hatched an elaborate scheme to create a new Wizarding order. When Aberforth learned about their grandiose plans, a three-way duel erupted; a stray curse killed Ariana. Aberforth claims Albus was glad his burden was gone, but Harry says he always carried it, recounting the night Albus died. After drinking the potion in the sea cave, Albus was raving, pleading with an unseen person not to hurt them. Harry is certain he was begging Grindelwald to spare his brother and sister, though Aberforth remains skeptical.
Harry resolves to continue the mission. Knowing Voldemort could be killed, Dumbledore gave that knowledge to Harry. If Aberforth refuses to help sneak them into Hogwarts, then they will find their own way in. Relenting, Aberforth agrees to help and speaks to Ariana's portrait. She turns to leave, but rather than disappearing from the frame sideways as figures normally do, she instead turns and disappears down a long, dark passageway behind her. Aberforth explains that there is only one way into the castle now, the old secret passages are being guarded. Ariana soon returns accompanied by someone. As they reach the portrait, it swings open to reveal a tunnel; standing inside is Neville Longbottom.
For Harry, uncovering the truth about Albus Dumbledore has been a journey nearly as long and difficult as his quest to find the Horcruxes, and this truth has come in many pieces, from various sources, and over time, creating a complicated, and still unsolved, jigsaw puzzle. Searching for answers has tested and strained Harry's loyalty and faith in Dumbledore, causing him to question whether or not the man he loved and thought he knew and trusted, had ever loved him in return, and was the good person Harry believed him to be. Aberforth Dumbledore provides crucial information that helps Harry to better understand Albus' past behavior regarding his family. This has partially restored Harry's faith in Albus, but not entirely.
Until now, Aberforth has remained a curious and vague background figure, but his character becomes more defined here as he assumes a prominent role filling in the story's many gaps. Despite their physical resemblance, the two brothers have vastly differing talents, dispositions, and personalities. Albus' brilliance outshone his brother, but Aberforth's antagonism toward his elder brother was less about sibling rivalry and petty jealousy, than it was suppressed anger and deep-seated resentment over Albus' using his superior talents for pursuing his personal goals and accolades to shirk family responsibilities, letting the burden for Ariana's care fall upon Aberforth and their mother, Kendra. However, it is questionable whether the Dumbledores' decision, however well-intentioned, to keep Ariana hidden at home was ever a wise one. Ariana and the entire family might have fared far better if she had been placed in a structured setting, cared for by professional healers, rather than being hidden away. It is unclear if their decision was based on whether the quality of care at that time was sub-standard or if the stigma of having a severely handicapped child was simply too shameful for such a prominent family to bear, particularly following their patriarch's notoriety. Whatever their reasons, it eventually led to tragic circumstances and forced Albus to abandon, or at least postpone, his lofty ambitions to instead support his younger siblings. And while Aberforth's desire to care for his sister in his brother's stead may have been noble, Albus retained sufficient belief in education's importance that he refused Aberforth's request to leave Hogwarts so he could tend to their sister in Albus' place. Albus' bitter despair (and perhaps self-imposed martyrdom) over abandoning his goals may have been a factor in him falling prey to Grindelwald's Dark influence, though that hardly excuses Albus' behavior.
Albus and Aberforth maintained an amicable truce throughout their adult lives, but their suppressed emotions kept them aloof with one another, perhaps mutually fearing that spending too much time together would stir up old animosities or erupt into a violent debate over who actually killed their sister. Regardless whose curse fatally struck Ariana, each shared responsibility in her death by allowing their long-simmering hostilities to explode into an out-of-control confrontation, though Albus' brief foray into the Dark Arts with Grindelwald certainly played a more significant factor in the events leading up to the tragedy. Interestingly, though the brothers never grew close, they lived near one another, Albus at Hogwarts and Aberforth in Hogsmeade, sharing an occasional drink at the Hog's Head Inn.
Albus' death has hardly softened Aberforth's feelings, however. When Harry says he is on Albus Dumbledore's mission, a sneering Aberforth mocks him (and Albus), causing Harry to recall his own doubts and concerns about Albus and forcing him to acknowledge that Aberforth's harsh words contain truth. Like Aberforth, readers must also be wondering why such a young, inexperienced, and unqualified wizard, even an immensely talented one like Harry, would have been given such a dangerous and seemingly impossible mission while being provided so little information. Harry resolves to remain loyal and trust Albus Dumbledore, dedicated to continuing the mission. He also attempts to convince Aberforth that Albus did indeed love his family and tried to protect them from Grindelwald. The pessimistic Aberforth remains skeptical, but he, perhaps surprisingly, sets aside his lingering animosity toward his brother, his capitulatory view regarding the war, as well as any doubts that Harry can succeed, and helps the Trio sneak into Hogwarts.
While Aberforth has provided many answers about Albus and Grindelwald, his recollection differs from what Rita Skeeter, Bathilda Bagshot, Elphias Doge, and Aunt Muriel claimed. And though Aberforth has provided an apparently factually accurate account about his family, his version should not be considered the conclusive one. Truth is often subjective and nebulous, and it is affected by others' opinions, personal experience, imperfect memories, individual bias, and raw emotions. Rarely is there a singular maxim, and all versions must be studied, weighed, and filtered before a definitive conclusion can be drawn. Even then, many will still disagree and instead believe only their own viewpoint. Although Aberforth has solved many mysteries, and filled in many missing pieces, he lacks all the facts and the puzzle remains incomplete—there is still much more to be learned about Albus Dumbledore.
- What is Aberforth's response when Harry tells him Dumbledore assigned the Trio a mission? What does Aberforth mean by this? Is he right?
- Why does Aberforth believe the war is lost and Voldemort has won? Is he correct? Does he really believe Voldemort has won?
- How does Aberforth's explanation about his family differ from Rita Skeeter's version in her book? How does it differ from Auntie Muriel's and Doge's?
- Why does Harry resolve to continue trusting Dumbledore, despite his own numerous doubts and concerns about him and the mission?
- Why does Aberforth finally agree to help the Trio sneak into Hogwarts?
- Why would Aberforth have bought the mirror from Mundungus Fletcher? Did he know when he bought it that Harry had the matching twin? If so, how?
- Harry tells Aberforth what Dumbledore said during his delirium in the sea cave. Is Harry's interpretation correct? Will this ever change what Aberforth believes?
- Why was Aberforth watching the Trio in the mirror?
- Is Aberforth's explanation about his family the truth or merely his version of it? Explain.
- Hogwarts' former Headmasters typically have more than one portrait in different locations, often visiting them back and forth. If Aberforth has a talking portrait of his sister, why doesn't he have one of Dumbledore? Would this have helped or hurt the war effort?
- If Ariana has a connecting portrait to Hogwarts, why doesn't Dumbledore's portrait communicate with Aberforth through her? Why would her portrait be in Hogwarts?
- Why would Aberforth be in contact with Neville Longbottom?
Although Aberforth claims to believe that Voldemort has already won the war, it will be learned that, apart from his offering Harry a place to hide, he has been secretly helping the resurrected Dumbledore's Army. It is unclear why he does this. He may simply be assisting the students because he is concerned for their safety, even though he believes they are fighting a lost cause. He does, however, participate in the Battle of Hogwarts, fighting within the school, actively defending it against Voldemort. Given this, it is entirely likely that Aberforth, in claiming that Voldemort has won, is, consciously or otherwise, testing Harry's mettle, trying to determine the depth of Harry's commitment to Albus' cause. This would also explain his immediate willingness to help once Harry declares that he will proceed with or without Aberforth's help. He may also realize that nothing will dissuade Harry from attempting to sneak into Hogwarts, and he therefore relents and provides the Trio the safest, and as far as he knows, only passage.
Examining the various stories about Albus Dumbledore, we see that Aberforth has the only consistent explanation about Albus' young life. Rita Skeeter based her embellished story on Bathilda Bagshot's fading memories, but Bathilda was, of necessity, outside the family, exactly the sort that Kendra would prevent knowing about Ariana's condition. Doge, possessing the same understanding, glossed over any parts that he found less than complimentary, and as a result became unconvincing, while the Weasleys' Auntie Muriel seems only to receive and pass on gossip and innuendo. And while each character provided some truth, their versions were, for the most part, faulty. However, we still fail to fully understand why Dumbledore and Grindelwald became so close, or why Dumbledore changed so radically following that episode. Our understanding will come when Harry meets with Dumbledore's Shade in what we are calling the waystation. There, we learn that Dumbledore believed Ariana's death was directly caused by his seeking power, and consequently resolved to never again attempt to gain power over others.
There actually is one other route left into Hogwarts, that being the tunnel from the Shrieking Shack that leads to the Whomping Willow. Harry, Hermione, and Ron will use this passage to get to the Shrieking Shack, where Voldemort is directing the battle, and will find it is guarded by only the Willow, as before. Aberforth knows nothing about this passage, nor does Neville, but Snape knows it exists, having actually traveled along it, once as a student, and later in Harry's third year. It is never explained why Snape leaves this gap in Hogwarts' security perimeter standing open, though it is unlikely an oversight.
Chapter 29: The Lost Diadem
Neville is overjoyed to see them, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione are horrified by his battered appearance. Neville says this is nothing, wait till they see Seamus. Neville informs a dismayed Aberforth that more people will be Apparating in. Leading the Trio down the long, dark tunnel, Neville explains that the seven known secret passageways into Hogwarts have been magically sealed, and Death Eaters guard the exits. Everyone is talking about the Trio breaking into Gringotts and escaping on a Dragon. Harry confirms it is true.
Hogwarts has drastically changed since the Trio left. The Carrows, the two Death Eater professors now handle all student punishment, though the other teachers avoid sending anyone to them whenever possible. Amycus Carrow teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts, now just called "Dark Arts." Students are forced to practice the Cruciatus curse on detention students. Neville's refusal to curse anyone resulted in him being beaten, despite him being Pure Blood. Some students, notably Crabbe and Goyle, have proven quite apt at the Dark Arts and love practicing them. Alecto Carrow, the Muggle Studies teacher, insists Muggles are dirty and stupid like animals. Neville obtained one scar after asking how much Muggle blood she had. Neville and other Dumbledore's Army members were pulling pranks and creating disruptions, but after Luna and Ginny left school and punishments became more severe, the rebellion died down a bit. When Neville was identified as a ringleader, Death Eaters went after his grandmother, who put Dawlish in St. Mungo's, and is now on the run. Neville decided to "disappear".
Reaching Hogwarts, they enter an unfamiliar room to a cheering crowd inside. The Trio are ecstatic to see old friends—Seamus Finnigan, Terry Boot, Michael Corner, Lavender Brown, Ernie Macmillan, Anthony Goldstein, Parvati and Padma Patil, and many more. Hammocks are strung from floor to ceiling, and the room is embellished with Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw colors and symbols; only Slytherin is missing. To Harry's astonishment, they are in the Room of Requirement. Neville has been hiding there for some weeks now, and the room has continually expanded as more D.A. members arrived. Seamus, whose swollen face Harry initially failed to recognize, says the room is secure as long as at least one D.A. member remains inside. The only thing it is unable to provide is food. When Neville was really hungry, the tunnel leading to the Hog's Head opened, and Aberforth has been sending supplies ever since.
Everyone wants to know about the Trio's exploits. They have been listening to "Potterwatch" on the radio, but there are many unconfirmed rumors. Before Harry can respond, searing pain cuts through his scar as he briefly glimpses a furious Dark Lord discovering that the Ring Horcrux is missing. Little time is left, and everyone wants to help, believing Harry has returned to overthrow the Carrows and Snape. Harry explains they are only there to complete a task to help to destroy Voldemort, and insists everyone stay behind. He becomes panicked when more people pour in from the Hog's Head. Luna, Dean, Fred, George, Ginny, Lee Jordan, and Cho Chang climb through. Hermione agrees with Ron's suggestion that the others help them search. Harry does not need to do everything alone, time is running out, and they do not have to reveal what they are hunting. Harry finally concedes and says they are looking for something belonging to Rowena Ravenclaw. Luna thinks it could be the lost diadem, a type of crown. Hidden under the Invisibility Cloak, Luna leads Harry to the Ravenclaw Common room and shows him Rowena Ravenclaw's statue. As Harry steps out from under the Cloak, Alecto Carrow appears and instantly touches the Dark Mark on her forearm.
Against Harry's wishes, the final battle between him and Voldemort is primed to happen at Hogwarts, his arrival likely triggering it. It seems appropriate, indeed inevitable, that Harry and Voldemort's last confrontation should occur here; the castle and its surrounding grounds have played a major role throughout the story, and is where much of the series' action is set. With its many Ghosts, talking portraits, and other magical denizens, the castle is nearly a character in its own right. It is also the place that both Harry and Voldemort most consider home, and in Voldemort's case, probably the only thing he has ever had anything close to loving feelings for, though that is an emotion he can never fully experience. Harry loves Hogwarts, and he has always derived strength and security from the venerable old castle, enduring his enforced summer hiatus at the Dursleys' while impatiently waiting to return each September. This time, Harry's arrival is as a soldier on a mission rather than as a returning student, and Hogwarts is hardly a safe sanctuary but an imminent battleground, though that was never Harry's intention, nor does he have a battle plan. Regardless, reinforcements begin arriving, and Harry is deeply dismayed, because now, rather than sneaking in, finding the Horcrux, then sneaking out again to continue his quest, his appearance has set off a chain reaction of events that will culminate in a final resolution. And like it or not, Harry is the shining beacon that rallies and unifies the fragmented rebellion, and he is being pushed to the forefront to lead the climactic clash against Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Harry also sees how much Hogwarts has changed, including Neville Longbottom. While Neville's battered appearance is shocking, his cheerful demeanor about it seems even more so. This clearly shows just how much Neville has grown from the ineffectual, frightened boy who first arrived at Hogwarts; he wears his bruises as badges of honor. The Sorting Hat placing Neville into Gryffindor House had always seemed questionable, and many readers probably, at least initially, believed he would have been better suited to Hufflepuff, rather than a House known for bravery and nobility. But courage and nobleness comes in many forms, and Neville, despite his magical deficiencies and timid nature, has always faced the adversity in his life head on, and showed fortitude as early as the first book, when he challenged the Trio after objecting to their questionable actions. This strength has gradually increased, and Neville has transformed from a shy, insecure, and nearly incompetent student, into a strong, capable wizard, mostly due to Harry's patient guidance.
Curiously, and appropriately, while Harry's influence helped develop Neville's character and magical abilities, Neville, in true epic-hero tradition, has grown significantly more during Harry's absence, just as Harry has further developed after Dumbledore's demise. Neville, along with Ginny and Luna, have assumed leadership roles by ably guiding Dumbledore's Army following Harry's departure, rebelling against the Carrows and Snape. Neville shows that, given the right circumstances, he is a natural leader, as well as a true Gryffindor; he, and the other D.A. members, are ready and able to join forces with Harry in the final battle against Voldemort.
- Why doesn't Harry recognize the Room of Requirement?
- Why doesn't Harry want the other students to help him with the mission, or follow him in overthrowing Snape and the Carrows? What changes his mind?
- Why are there no Slytherin colors or symbols represented in the Room of Requirement?
- How did news about the Trio's escape from Gringotts travel to Hogwarts so quickly?
- Why is Neville so cheerful, despite his battered appearance?
- How has Neville changed from his first year at Hogwarts? What accounts for that change?
Against his will, Harry becomes the rallying point for defending Hogwarts. This is, at least for the next while, a position that we see Harry attempting to sidestep. Harry quite clearly wants to avoid the coming battle, not because he is reluctant to fight, but rather because he feels personally responsible for all the deaths and injuries that would likely occur. He also sees this as being his own battle, and is extremely reluctant to involve others. He is clearly bewildered by the alacrity with which others seem to be taking up his cause, hardly realizing that so many other wizards are equally oppressed and have been searching for a banner to rally around. It is only after the encounter in the Forbidden Forest, when Harry feels he has acted to protect his friends against Voldemort, that he chooses to show himself as the leader of the counter-attack against the Dark Lord and his Death Eater army.
As mentioned above, Neville seems almost astoundingly changed, on this sudden arrival. We can see that this has actually been a more gradual development, if we review how he has changed over the previous six books. Neville will continue to exhibit strength of character and magical power over the next few chapters, by helping to defend the castle and in recovering casualties. Harry's faith in Neville's abilities grows to where Harry will entrust Neville with a vital task: dispatching the final Horcrux, embedded in Voldemort's pet snake Nagini, in the event that he, Ron, or Hermione are unable to do the job. Neville will prove that he is up to the challenge.
Harry here determines that the Horcrux he is searching for, the last but one, is hidden within Rowena Ravenclaw's lost Diadem. He bases this guess on Voldemort's proclivity for using artifacts once belonging to the Hogwarts Founders as vessels for his other Horcruxes. While his guess remains unsure, several things will reinforce this belief, including Alecto Carrow's presence in the Ravenclaw common room; Alecto is there because Voldemort believed Harry would enter it if he returned to Hogwarts, and this supports Harry's belief that Voldemort used a Ravenclaw artifact. Over the next few chapters, Harry will discover what happened to that Diadem after it supposedly vanished, and how it made its way back to the school. He will also learn that he actually once held it in his hand a year earlier without realizing it.
Chapter 30: The Sacking of Severus Snape
Pain explodes in Harry's scar, and he finds himself on a rocky outcrop under a cliff. Good, he thinks, they have the boy. A loud crack brings Harry back to himself as Luna stuns Alecto Carrow. The noise awakens the Ravenclaw students, and Harry dives back under the Invisibility Cloak with Luna. Students begin milling about, frightened by finding the unconscious teacher on the floor. Outside, in the hall, Amycus, is frantically calling for Alecto, worried that the Dark Lord has been summoned without Harry Potter having been captured. Amycus is heard ordering Professor McGonagall to open the door. Inside the common room, they find the unconscious Alecto. McGonagall is surprised that Harry Potter may be there and that the Dark Lord suspects he might attempt to break into Ravenclaw Tower. Amycus, fearing Voldemort's wrath if Harry escapes, says he will pass off the alert as a school prank and punish a few students. When McGonagall objects, Amycus threatens her. Harry steps out and slams him with a Cruciatus curse, lifting Amycus' writhing body into the air and crashing it through a bookcase. Harry understands now what Bellatrix Lestrange had meant when she once said a person must actually mean it for an Unforgivable Curse to work. An astonished McGonagall thanks Harry for his gallant effort but urges him to flee the castle quickly. He refuses, saying there is something he must do. He asks about the Diadem, but McGonagall says it has been lost for centuries. Harry is stymied; the Diadem was his most likely candidate for the final Horcrux, and nobody knows where it is. Amycus stirs, and McGonagall casts a binding spell on him and his still unconscious sister. Voldemort's rage overtakes Harry—the Dark Lord has discovered the Locket is missing from the sea cave. Returning to himself, Harry updates Professor McGonagall and says he must find something hidden in Hogwarts before Voldemort and his forces arrive. McGonagall replies that she and the staff will defend the castle for as long as possible while Harry searches. Harry tells McGonagall that students can be evacuated through the tunnel to the Hog's Head Inn. Voldemort will only be concentrating on Hogwarts, not Disapparating students in Hogsmeade village.
Harry and Luna hide under the Invisibility Cloak as McGonagall casts three cat Patronuses to summon the other Heads of House. They run into Snape in the hall. He continually darts his eyes about, perhaps detecting Harry there. When asked what she is doing there, McGonagall claims she heard a disturbance. She is evasive when asked about Harry, then slashes her wand. Snape, quicker, deflects her charm. They duel fiercely, magic so quick Harry has never seen the like. Professor Flitwick and Sprout come running to McGonagall's aid with a huffing Slughorn lagging behind. Outnumbered, Snape dashes into a deserted classroom where a loud crash is heard. Pursuing, McGonagall screams, "Coward!" Uncloaked, Harry and Luna rush inside, startling the other professors. Snape has leaped out the window. Harry thinks he must be dead, but McGonagall bitterly comments that, unlike Dumbledore, Snape had a wand and has learned a few tricks from "You-Know-Who". Harry sees a large, bat-like figure soaring across the school grounds. Slughorn finally enters, and McGonagall informs him that Snape is taking a "leave of absence." Harry slides into Voldemort's mind again and sees an Inferi-filled lake. Voldemort leaps from the boat in a murderous rage — he is headed for Hogwarts.
McGonagall orders students to be sent to the Great Hall, then tells Slughorn the time has come for Slytherin to choose sides. The professors set defensive charms and spells around Hogwarts, though they cannot fend off Voldemort indefinitely. Harry asks Flitwick if he might know where Ravenclaw's Diadem is, but Flitwick says no one in living memory has seen it. McGonagall enchants the school's statues and suits of armour to help defend the castle and orders Filch, who is ranting about students being out of bed, to summon Peeves the Poltergeist.
When Harry and Luna return to the Room of Requirement, Harry is shocked and dismayed that even more people have arrived, including Lupin, Shacklebolt, Oliver Wood, Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, Bill and Fleur, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Fred alerted Dumbledore's Army, and they in turn summoned the Order of the Phoenix. As younger students are being evacuated, Ginny, who wants to fight, is arguing with her parents to stay. Percy suddenly arrives and loudly apologizes to his family for being a deluded idiot and Ministry pawn; the Weasleys immediately forgive him. Looking around, Harry wonders where Ron and Hermione are. Ginny, who has been ordered to remain inside the room during the battle, says they are attending to something having to do with a bathroom, leaving Harry puzzled. His scar sears again, and he is gazing at Hogwarts through huge iron gates. Nagini is draped around his shoulders. Voldemort has arrived.
As the story reaches a critical stage, time is running out; Harry is desperate to find the Ravenclaw Horcrux, and Hufflepuff's Cup must still be destroyed, though Harry still has no idea how to eliminate either Horcrux. Ron and Hermione, however, may have some idea regarding this, which might explain their sudden and mysterious absence. Voldemort and his forces will soon arrive at the castle, and Harry is at a loss as to where to search or if the Diadem is even the actual Horcrux. The final Horcrux being hidden at Hogwarts is fortuitous; it is a place Harry knows better than anywhere else, and at least as well as Voldemort does. Probably only Dumbledore and the Weasley twins know it better. This homecoming also infuses Harry with a much needed boost of strength and confidence that a less familiar locale would be unable to provide. And though Harry has no idea where the Diadem might be hidden, if it is at Hogwarts, his knowing many castle secrets will help narrow the search. Also, Harry's return not only puts him in a familiar and comforting setting, but it reconnects his alliances with old friends and other supporters, who immediately flock to Hogwarts upon hearing he has arrived. If Harry is to succeed, he must rely on everyone's help. We see, however, Harry's dismay when the Order of the Phoenix arrives; again, he feels that he is endangering his friends, unable to see that they are at risk in any event. Harry fails to realize that he has little responsibility or control for his friends' arrival, merely being the banner which people choose to follow. This is their battle as much as it is his.
Although Harry has used the Cruciatus curse before, this is the first time it has worked effectively for him. He recalls Bellatrix Lestrange once telling him that the conjurer must actually mean it in order for an Unforgivable curse to work properly, that righteous indignation is not enough. Previously, Harry only halfheartedly cast the Cruciatus curse (on Bellatrix Lestrange), unwilling to inflict pain and suffering on anyone, even a hated enemy. Now, however, Harry uses it to protect someone he cares about. And considering its effect on Amycus Carrow, this time, Harry obviously meant it.
Knowing Snape's skill at Legilimency, it is hardly surprising that he seems to be looking around for Harry. Snape likely perceived Harry's presence under the Invisibility Cloak. This skill likewise may be helping him deflect the magic McGonagall is throwing at him, though it is equally possible that McGonagall, knowing his ability, is using Occlumency, as much as she is able to, to block Snape's probes. We have no way of knowing how skilled McGonagall is in this particular branch of magic.
Some readers, sharing the Twins' views, may have felt that the Weasley family was better off with Percy having chosen his own course; others, echoing Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, may have been dismayed at his estrangement. Most will, however, be pleased by his reunion with his family, particularly since he seems to have acknowledged Fred's pungent analysis regarding his recent behavior. The reunion's timing is probably chosen to avoid the heartbreaking spectacle of brother fighting brother, while retaining the suspense surrounding Percy's having inadvertently chosen the Dark side heightened to the last possible moment. Percy's estrangement was a minor side plot, but it clearly needed resolution before the family was completely torn apart, and this seems an appropriate way to resolve it.
- Why would McGonagall engage Snape in a duel rather than merely saying she does not know where Harry is? Could she have defeated him without help from the other professors?
- Why is Voldemort in a murderous rage? Where is he when Harry "sees" him?
- Why is Harry now unsure that Ravenclaw's diadem is the Horcrux? Is there any evidence that another Ravenclaw artifact exists?
- What does McGonagall mean when she tells Slughorn it is time for Slytherin to choose sides? Do they?
- Why is this the first time the Cruciatus curse has worked effectively for Harry?
- What caused Percy's turnaround? Why did it take him so long?
- Which bathroom might Hermione and Ron have gone to? What task could have sent them there?
- How could so many Dumbledore's Army, Order of the Phoenix, and former Hogwarts students be able to enter Hogsmeade village without being detected by Death Eaters and the Dementors?
- How are the Hogwarts students to be evacuated by disapparating from the Hog's Head when it was stipulated two chapters earlier that disapparition from the town is impossible?
The bathroom Ginny Weasley is referring to is actually Moaning Myrtle's lavatory, which readers should remember contains the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and that only someone speaking Parseltongue can open. It is unknown yet why Ron and Hermione would have gone there, or if they could open the Chamber, but this will play a significant role in the next chapter.
Snape's behavior when questioning McGonagall in the hallway, as discussed above, strongly indicates that he knows Harry is nearby, hidden under his Invisibility Cloak. Snape, of course, should be able to detect Harry using Legilimency. It is still unknown, however, that Snape is Dumbledore's secret ally, and he would do nothing to interfere with Harry's mission. In light of this, it is probable that during his and McGonagall's fierce duel, even though both are powerful wizards and skilled duelists, and McGonagall would probably kill him if she could, Snape is defending himself while doing nothing that would harm her or Harry, finally fleeing before the encounter turns deadly.
Professor Flitwick's comment that no one in living memory has seen Ravenclaw's Diadem will prove to be untrue, as it has actually been seen quite recently, though without either we or the person holding it knowing what it was at the time. However, Flitwick's words will act as a useful trigger for Harry, setting a train of thought in motion that results in Harry finding the Diadem.
A very interesting point is touched on by one editor: how can the students Disapparate from Hogsmeade? For that matter, how can Dumbledore's Army members Apparate in, as they have been doing? Aberforth has said that Harry, Ron, and Hermione should wait until dawn, and then Apparate away and hide in the mountains. While he never explicitly says so, he strongly implies that Apparating out of Hogsmeade is impossible. In this case, perhaps, Harry may simply have made a lucky assumption. Clearly it is possible to Apparate into Hogsmeade, as he has done so. Perhaps he simply assumed that it would be similarly possible to Apparate out, and missed Aberforth saying that it could not be done. As the author never tells us, we can only speculate; but it is possible that when the evacuation starts, Voldemort has already lifted the anti-Apparition spells on Hogsmeade to allow his troops free movement. If so, this is a major stroke of luck for the Hogwarts forces; they would have been unable to evacuate the non-combatants otherwise. Also, just as Voldemort and his forces are able to eventually penetrate Hogwarts' defenses, it may be possible that with sufficient numbers, and the need for concealment no longer in force, the Order of the Phoenix is able to break Voldemort's protective spells.
A similar question that arises is, what about those students who are still unable to Apparate? There are wizards, we are told, who never Apparate, despite being fully grown or qualified, because of the Splinching risk. So quite possibly, in order to accommodate those Death Eaters who were unwilling or unable to Apparate, Voldemort might also have released any restrictions on the Floo Network. This, then, could be used in conjunction with side-along Apparition, and possibly emergency Portkeys delivered to the evacuation site to transport students.
Chapter 31: The Battle of Hogwarts
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.
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.
- Why did Ron want Hermione to be the one who destroyed the Cup Horcrux?
- Did it ever occur to the Trio earlier on to use Basilisk fangs to destroy the other Horcruxes? Why or why not?
- Why is Hermione so ecstatic when Ron wants to warn the House-elves? What does this say about Ron's character?
- Why is Harry unable to locate Ron and Hermione's name on the Marauder's Map?
- Harry saves Goyle's and Malfoy's lives. Do they now owe him a "life debt" as Peter Pettigrew did? Explain.
- At Malfoy Manor, Draco would not identify Harry to the Death Eaters. Why does he now want to capture him for the Dark Lord?
- 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?
- Will the Room of Requirement be operational again? Explain why or why not this might be.
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.
Chapter 32: The Elder Wand
The castle is under serious attack, and Harry cannot allow himself to grieve Fred's death. Harry, Ron, and Hermione dive to the floor to dodge curses as Percy covers Fred’s body with his own to protect it. He refuses to budge when Ron tries to pull him away. Hermione screams—one of Aragog's descendants is crawling through a hole in the castle's outer wall. Harry and Ron simultaneously blast the giant spider, but more spiders are climbing up the wall, and Harry fires stunning spells at them. As curses soar overhead, Ron and Hermione rush down the corridor as Harry helps Percy hide Fred's body in a wall niche. Harry then takes off after Ron and Hermione while Percy chases Rookwood. Hidden behind a tapestry, Ron, hysterical, wants to follow Percy and kill Death Eaters. Hermione is pleading with Ron, saying only they can end it; they must find and kill the snake.
Hermione asks Harry where Voldemort and Nagini are. Harry slips inside Voldemort’s mind and sees a shabby, but familiar room. Voldemort is thinking about the Diadem and the place only he knows exists. Nagini floats above Voldemort in a protective sphere. A battered Lucius Malfoy is asking about Draco. Voldemort tells him Draco is dead because he failed to join him with the other Slytherins. Malfoy urges him to halt the battle so the Dark Lord can be certain to kill Potter himself, but Voldemort knows Malfoy is only attempting to protect Draco. Malfoy is ordered to fetch Snape. Harry tells the others that Voldemort is in the Shrieking Shack. He knows his Horcruxes are being sought, and he is waiting for Harry to come to him.
The Trio throw on the Invisibility Cloak and head for the Shrieking Shack. Weaving through the fighting, they pass Draco Malfoy, who is pleading with a Death Eater that he is on their side; Harry stuns the Death Eater as Ron punches Draco in the face. Below, Fenrir Greyback, appearing to Harry as a blurry, four-legged gray animal as he rushes past, is about to bite Lavender Brown. Hermione's curse hurls him against the staircase as Professor Trelawney, leaning over the railing, drops a crystal ball onto his head. The spiders have forced their way into the entryway. As the fighters shoot curses at them, Hagrid charges down the stairs yelling, "Don't hurt 'em, don't hurt 'em!" As Hagrid disappears into the spider throng, Harry dashes out from under the Cloak chasing after him. His path is blocked by a massive, hairy leg belonging to a twenty-foot Giant. When Grawp appears calling for Hagrid, the bigger Giant launches itself at him, and the two furiously wrestle. Fighting is everywhere now and flashing curses streak through the air.
The Trio rush to the forest, but near its edge, a hundred Dementors glide towards them. Harry is too overcome by hopelessness to cast a Patronus, while Ron and Hermione's Patronuses quickly flicker out. Suddenly, three other Patronuses soar past as Luna, Ernie, and Seamus come running from the darkness. Luna encourages Harry to think of something happy, and after enormous effort, the silver stag bursts from his wand, scattering the Dementors. As another Giant lurches towards them, Harry shouts to Ron and Hermione to head for the Shrieking Shack.
At the Whomping Willow, the Trio crawls through the tunnel leading to the Shack. Inside, Snape is talking with Voldemort, nervously offering to find the boy so Voldemort can kill him himself. Voldemort declines, saying his Death Eaters have been ordered to capture Harry alive, and he believes the boy will come to him. He complains that the Elder Wand fails to perform the extraordinary magic he expected. Voldemort tells Snape he has been a valuable servant and regrets what he must do, believing that when Snape killed Dumbledore, Snape won the wand's allegiance. Unfortunately, Snape must die so Voldemort can become the Elder Wand's true master. With no remorse, Voldemort orders Nagini to kill Snape. When Voldemort leaves with Nagini, Harry and the others rush to Snape. Silvery-blue wisps are streaming from his mouth, ears, and eyes. Snape, barely alive, tells Harry, "Take . . . it . . . Take . . . it." A crystal flask appears in mid air, and Harry gathers the strands into the container. Snape asks to look into Harry's green eyes before his life ebbs away.
Two significant deaths have occurred: Fred Weasley and Severus Snape. While Fred's death is a tragic loss, Snape's demise is a crucial element leading to the book's climax. Snape, and also readers, may have expected that Voldemort would eventually kill him, possibly no longer considering him an asset or perceiving him as a potential threat. It is still unknown, however, whether Snape was serving Voldemort or Dumbledore, or even neither. Just as Dumbledore had, Voldemort appears to believe that Snape was always loyal to him, and even still useful, but Voldemort's quest to become the Elder Wand's master takes precedence over everything else, and he willingly sacrifices Snape to obtain that mastery. Whether hero or villain, Snape's final act is to hand over to Harry what appears to be his memories. These could be the key to understanding Dumbledore's cryptic plan. Snape's final request to look into Harry's eyes may also be significant: others have commented, throughout the series, that Harry has his mother's eyes.
Lucius Malfoy, having been severely punished for failing Voldemort, shows deathly fear for his son Draco's life. This is probably among the few times Lucius has ever demonstrated any real emotion for another person, and it shows that, unlike Voldemort, Lucius is capable of love and desperately wants to save his only child. Voldemort, however, shows no concern for Draco, and previously endangered his life only as a means to penalize Lucius for failing to capture Harry at the Ministry of Magic. Though Lucius probably remains with the Dark Lord mostly out of fear for his own and his family's safety, he may also be scheming to recapture his mater's favor and reward. He will likely retain his evil ways should Voldemort win, and he is well aware that having entered the Dark Lord's service, there is no leaving it alive; it is only now, having been relegated to the organization's lower order, that he begins to understand why one might actually want to exit that service.
It is also interesting to note Hermione's changing views regarding the connection between Harry's mind and Voldemort's. At this book's beginning, Hermione was deeply dismayed by Harry occasionally viewing Voldemort's thoughts and actions, as it was via that channel that Harry had been deluded into delivering himself and five students into a trap at the Department of Mysteries earlier. Harry continually resisted attempts to close this channel, feeling that any information about Voldemort is valuable. Over the course of this book, Hermione has gradually adopted the same point-of-view, but this is the first time she has actively asked Harry to visit Voldemort's thoughts. This would seem to indicate she now somewhat trusts Harry's ability to control and filter what he sees inside Voldemort's mind.
There is an interesting side note here. The book describes Fenrir Greyback as a gray blur on four legs that Harry took to be an animal. This could possibly suggest that he was transformed into his Werewolf form as he attempts to bite Lavender Brown. In that event, there would be a full moon, but there is no mention as to whether Remus Lupin, also a Werewolf, has been similarly transformed. Lupin is seen as a human when he arrives at Hogwarts, but it is possible it is still too early for the moon to rise. It may be that Greyback is simply acting wolf-like; as we have heard and seen, he does attack like a wolf even when in human form, as when he savaged Bill Weasley. However, being able to survive such a severe blow to the head from Trelawney's heavy crystal ball with almost no injuries could indicate that he was transformed. While it is never made absolutely clear what form he is in, it is true that Harry, who has never seen Fenrir transformed, recognizes him. As the author is careful about having every character properly named before Harry recognizes him or her, this does lend some weight that Fenrir is in human form, though it is curious as to why she would describe him in a manner suggesting his gray Werewolf form or that Harry would perceive him as a gray animal. Being as Fenrir is the Werewolf leader, and Remus Lupin had infiltrated Fenrir's pack, Order of the Phoenix members should know his transformed description, but there is no indication one way or the other as to whether Harry has been so briefed.
- Does Voldemort know that the Diadem Horcrux has been destroyed? If not, why?
- Why does Voldemort believe Snape is the Elder Wand's master? Is he? If not, who might be?
- Why does Hagrid try to protect the attacking giant spiders? Whose side are they on?
- Why didn't Draco leave with the other Slytherin students who joined Voldemort? What, if any, might his true allegiance be?
- Why is Voldemort so certain that Harry will come to him?
- Why does Voldemort kill Snape, a valuable servant, to win the Elder Wand's allegiance, rather than disarm him for it? Did Voldemort always intend to kill Snape?
- Why does Voldemort have Nagini kill Snape, rather than doing it himself with a killing curse?
- Why does Lucius Malfoy continue serving Voldemort, despite the Dark Lord having endangered his and his son's life?
- Why was Harry too overwhelmed with hopelessness to cast a Patronus at the Dementors? How did he overcome that?
- What are the silvery strands that Snape gave to Harry? Where have they been seen before? Why would he want Harry to have them?
- Why would Snape want to look into Harry's eyes just before he dies?
Voldemort here has fallen into the same misunderstanding about the Elder Wand's allegiance that so many have before him. It is not just by murder of its current holder that frees the wand to accept a new master, but the wand's forcible removal from its owner that also wins its allegiance. One might wonder why Voldemort failed to recognize this, despite knowing about Gregorovitch's continuing survival while Grindelwald commanded the wand, and Grindelwald's remaining alive during the sixty years that Dumbledore mastered it. However, we have seen that Voldemort tends to solve problems by killing people. It is unlikely that Voldemort enjoys killing; if he did, he likely would have stayed to watch Snape die. His walking out before Snape expired indicates that he sees killing Snape as simply the solution to the Elder Wand problem, and once the solution has been applied, it no longer concerns him.
In the next chapter, we discover why Snape, who knows he is dying, asked Harry to look into his eyes. He has already handed over to Harry the memories that Dumbledore charged Snape with providing Harry. They explain everything to Harry as well as provide Snape's own justification for his actions. These memories will show that Lily Potter was the only woman Snape ever loved, and it was for her that Snape allowed himself to promise to do all that he did for Harry, little as it may have seemed at the time. We have been told repeatedly that Harry has Lily's eyes, and, as he dies, Snape desires to gaze into those eyes one final time.
Chapter 33: The Prince's Tale
After witnessing Severus Snape's death, Harry hears Lord Voldemort's magically amplified voice, speaking to everyone at Hogwarts, and specifically to Harry, giving him one hour to surrender and threatening to kill everyone if he fails to comply. Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts through the tunnel, and Ron and Hermione enter the Great Hall, where the defenders are regrouping and the many wounded and dead lie. Harry sees Fred, Lupin and Tonks among the deceased. Unable to bear the sight, Harry runs to the Headmaster's office, where all the portraits stand empty, and finds Dumbledore's Pensieve.
Harry pours Snape's memories into the Pensieve, and, hoping to briefly escape his own mind, enters the memories. He finds himself in a playground. A young, small boy, whom Harry recognizes as Snape, is watching two girls, Petunia and Lily Evans, from behind a small bush. After Lily shows some strange tricks to her older sister, unaware she is performing magic, Snape emerges and informs Lily that she is a witch and derides Petunia as a Muggle. Insulted at being called a witch, Lily follows her indignant sister and goes away, leaving Snape bitterly disappointed. It is apparent he was planning this for a while and it all went wrong.
The scene dissolves and reforms into a new one. Snape is telling Lily about Hogwarts and magic, including Azkaban and the Dementors. When Lily inquires about Snape's parents, he says that they are still arguing, revealing Snape's unhappy home life. When Petunia appears and insults Snape, a tree branch above breaks and falls on her. Accusing Snape of breaking the branch, Lily goes away, leaving him miserable and confused.
The scene changes into a different memory. Snape is standing on Platform Nine and Three Quarters next to a thin, sour-looking woman whom Harry recognizes as Snape's mother, Eileen Prince. Snape is staring at Lily's family. Petunia and Lily are arguing. Petunia calls Lily a freak for being a witch, and Lily retorts that Petunia had not thought so when she wrote to Professor Dumbledore, asking for admission to the school. An embarrassed Petunia, realizing that Lily and Snape read her letter, insults them, and they part on bad terms.
The scene reforms once more, and inside the Hogwarts Express, Snape finds a compartment with Lily and two boys. She is upset over her sister's hurtful words. Snape begins to say that Petunia is only a Muggle but instead grandly announces they are setting off for Hogwarts. When he mentions she had better be in Slytherin, one of the boys, the young James Potter, scornfully remarks to his friend, Sirius Black that he would rather leave than be in Slytherin, and prefers Gryffindor. Sirius points out that his entire family have been in Slytherin. Snape engages in a little battle of words with both Sirius and James, until an indignant Lily asks Snape to follow her to different compartment.
And the scene dissolves again into Hogwarts' Great Hall during the House sorting ceremony. Lily is sorted into Gryffindor, much to Snape's dismay. Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter are also sorted into Gryffindor, joining Sirius Black. Finally, Snape is sorted into Slytherin. At the Slytherin table, he receives a pat on the back from a Prefect, Lucius Malfoy.
The next scene depicts Lily and Snape arguing. Lily says they are still friends, though she detests whom Snape hangs out with, naming Avery and Mulciber specifically. Snape counters by mentioning the trouble James Potter and his friends cause and hints that Lupin is a Werewolf. The fight is resolved and Snape is satisfied when Lily criticizes James as an "arrogant toerag."
The scene switches for the sixth time and is the same memory Harry saw before when he peeked into Snape's Pensieve during their Occlumency lessons. Harry keeps his distance somewhat, not caring to witness this memory again. It ends when he hears Snape shouting "Mudblood" at Lily.
The scene changes to night time in front of the Gryffindor Tower. Snape is remorseful for calling Lily a Mudblood and had threatened to sleep outside the entrance had she not come to see him. Despite his deep, desperate apologies, the angry Lily is fed up with Snape and will not forgive him, and disapproves of him having friends with Death Eater ambitions. She leaves him and the scene dissolves.
The scene takes longer to reform and now becomes a hilltop in the darkness. The adult Snape is panting and pacing and appears to be waiting for something. A jet of white light flies through the air and Snape, disarmed, drops to his knees. Dumbledore asks what message he has brought from Lord Voldemort. Snape replies with a request from himself. He admits he relayed everything he heard of the prophecy from Trelawney to Voldemort, and that Voldemort believes the chosen child is Lily's son. He reveals that Voldemort plans to hunt down and kill the entire family. Dumbledore is disgusted that Snape has asked Voldemort to spare only Lily's life without regard for her husband and son. Ashamed at being rebuked, Snape then pleads with Dumbledore to hide the entire family. Surprising Snape, Dumbledore asks him what he will give in return. After a long moment, Snape replies, "Anything."
The scene switches to Dumbledore's office. Snape, grief-stricken, is slumped in a chair with a grim-looking Dumbledore standing over him. Snape asks why Dumbledore failed to keep Lily and her family safe. Dumbledore replies that they put their faith in the wrong person, much as Snape had in trusting Voldemort to spare Lily's life. He says that her son, Harry, survived. Snape wishes he were dead with Lily, and Dumbledore tells him that if he truly loved Lily, he will help protect Harry when Voldemort returns. Snape reluctantly agrees. He makes Dumbledore promise never to tell anyone that he is protecting James Potter's son, ever.
The scene shifts again and Snape is criticizing Harry to Dumbledore, saying he is like James Potter. Dumbledore replies that other teachers report Harry to be a modest, likable, and reasonably talented boy. He asks Snape to keep an eye on Professor Quirrell.
With a whirl of color everything changes again and Snape and Dumbledore are now standing in the entrance hall as the Yule Ball is ending. Snape tells Dumbledore that Karkaroff's Mark is becoming darker as well and that he plans on fleeing if the Mark burns. When Dumbledore asks if Snape is tempted to do the same, Snape denies it and says he is not a coward. Dumbledore then muses that perhaps students are Sorted too soon, leaving Snape shocked.
The scene dissolves for the twelfth time and reforms into the headmaster's office again. Dumbledore is semiconscious, his right hand blackened and dangling over the side of the desk. Snape is muttering incantations and pouring a golden liquid down Dumbledore's throat. When Dumbledore regains consciousness, Snape asks why Dumbledore even tried on the ring. Dumbledore says he was a fool. Marvolo Gaunt's ring lies on the desk, cracked, with the Sword of Gryffindor next to it. Snape says it is a miracle he got here and that the curse is extraordinary powerful. Snape believes Dumbledore may only have a year to live since all he can do is contain the curse, not stop it. Dumbledore replies that this makes things much easier to decide and begins discussing Voldemort's plan involving Draco Malfoy killing Dumbledore. Snape says it is only to punish the Malfoys and that Draco is expected to fail. Dumbledore correctly guesses that when Malfoy fails, Voldemort wants Snape to finish Dumbledore off, saying that Voldemort feels he will soon not need a spy at Hogwarts anymore, as it will be under his control. Dumbledore makes Snape promise to watch over the students in that event, and to be the one to kill him (Dumbledore). Snape questions this and Dumbledore says it would be helping an old man die. He would rather die on his own terms at the hands of Snape than foes like Death Eaters Bellatrix and Fenrir Greyback. Snape reluctantly agrees and the scene ends.
In the next scene, Snape and Dumbledore are strolling through the castle grounds at night. Snape asks what Dumbledore has been doing with Harry all these evenings alone, and Dumbledore replies that he has information he must give to Harry before it is too late. Snape challenges Dumbledore as to why he is not entrusted with the same information, to which Dumbledore replies that he does not like to keep all his secrets in one basket. They get into a row about Snape having to be a double agent on Dumbledore's orders and that Harry is no more trustworthy than Snape. Dumbledore begins to go on with his plan to Snape, however, Snape is angry that Dumbledore refuses to tell him what he has told Harry and threatens that he has changed his mind about killing Dumbledore. Dumbledore reminds him that he gave him his word and that he is also to keep an eye on Draco. Snape looks unsatisfied so Dumbledore invites him to his office that night.
The scene shifts to Dumbledore's office. Dumbledore tells Snape that Harry must not know what he has to do until the final moment, and that after Dumbledore's death, there will come a time when Voldemort fears for Nagini's life. He instructs Snape that, if there is ever a time when Voldemort keeps Nagini magically protected and always in his sight, Snape must then tell Harry that he is a seventh Horcrux, inadvertently created by Voldemort, and that Harry must die in order for Voldemort to be killed. Snape feels tricked, upset that Dumbledore made him protect Lily's son only to have him die. Dumbledore asks if Snape has grown to care for Harry, but Snape spurns that possibility and casts his Patronus, a silver-white doe. Dumbledore, shocked, asks Snape, "After all this time?", to which Snape says, "Always."
The scene switches to Snape talking to Dumbledore's portrait. Dumbledore says Snape must give Voldemort the correct date of Harry's departure if Voldemort is to trust Snape. Snape is also to suggest the Potter decoys using Polyjuice potion to Mundungus so that Harry is indeed safe.
The scene shifts to Snape face-to-face with Mundungus in a tavern. Snape confunds him so he will suggest using multiple Potters, and to forget seeing Snape or that he got the idea from him.
The scene shifts yet again, to Snape gliding on a broomstick at night. Up ahead are Lupin and George, disguised as Harry. Snape casts Sectumsempra at a Death Eater to prevent him from Cursing Lupin, but the spell misses and hits George instead, severing his ear.
The scene shifts again to Sirius's room at Grimmauld Place. Snape is weeping as he reads Lily's letter to Sirius. He takes the second page containing Lily's signature, and tears out her image from the picture of her and Harry, then leaves.
The scene shifts again and Snape is in the headmaster's office. Phineas Nigellus' portrait says Hermione and Harry are in the Forest of Dean. Dumbledore's portrait, appearing happy, tells Snape to plant the sword of Gryffindor there without being seen. Snape says he has a plan, removes the Sword from behind Dumbledore's portrait, and leaves.
Harry returns to himself, lying on the carpet in the same room he just saw Snape leaving.
It has been mentioned that Rowling is highly skilled at what is called the "set-up and pay-off" writing style. Here, we see a classic example. The preceding six books have created a long set-up, from as far back as the first novel when Snape was introduced, and on through the entire series as the conflict within Snape is repeatedly shown. While readers accept Harry's belief in Snape's untrustworthiness, evidence shows that Snape was protecting Harry since the first book. Here, we have the pay-off: it is revealed that Snape has been among Harry's staunchest protectors, despite his hating Harry's father, because he made a promise out of his love for Harry's mother.
Snape's constant inner conflicts have helped make him an intriguing character. His love for Lily never faded, and, unknown to Harry, that is why Snape always protected him. Snape's seeming malice towards Harry actually resulted from Snape's lingering hatred and resentment towards James Potter; Harry was merely an unfortunate reminder and a convenient target. As Snape was about to die, he asked to gaze into Harry's eyes, presumably because they looked just like Lily's, something Harry has been repeatedly reminded of.
We additionally learn why Petunia despised Lily and, by extension, Lily's son Harry. Because she was born without any magical ability, Petunia hated magic and everything associated with the Wizarding realm. As Petunia had actually requested permission to attend Hogwarts, and had been declined, it is clear that her rejecting the magical world is simple jealousy and retaliation for it never accepting her, an all-too-human characteristic. We can surmise that she wed Vernon Dursley because he possessed a so-very-stolid non-magical nature, and it is clear that the ill-treatment she inflicted on Harry was part and parcel of those same feelings.
Judging by the above, it can be seen that Snape and Petunia shared certain similarities in their personalities. Both were denied what they most desperately wanted, and each manifested their jealousy and disappointment as hatred toward Harry. In Petunia's case, her hatred was extended from her envy over her sister's magical abilities, while Snape was consumed with spite for James Potter and his pain over losing Lily. Petunia could never ever set aside these feelings and never ceased to hate Harry throughout his life. Snape, who also remained bitter about James Potter, carried forward this bitterness towards James's son Harry; this was not helped by Harry's own dislike and disrespect for Snape himself. However, Snape's outward attitude towards Harry also was a part of his mask which helped him remain trusted by Voldemort, who would have killed Snape instantly if he was seen to be protecting Harry.
There are many other revelations, large and small. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Petunia Dursley says, "I heard – that awful boy – telling her about them – years ago." "Her" is of course Lily, her sister, and "them" refers to the Dementors, whom Petunia has just identified as the guards of Azkaban. It is interesting to note that "that awful boy" was actually Severus Snape. Knowing Petunia, we expected this to refer to James Potter.
Snape's memories show something else unexpected. Previously, Harry had seen the memory after the Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. test in a chapter called "Snape's Worst Memory." Considering the extreme humiliation Snape suffers at James Potter's hands, that would seem sufficient reason for it being his "worst memory." However, knowing Snape's strong feelings for Lily, the memory acquires a different meaning: it is the worst because one word spoken in it forever ended his friendship with Lily Evans, who later married James Potter and gave birth to Harry.
While the reason is never explicitly given, it is clear that when Dumbledore, watching the students return from the Yule Ball, remarks that perhaps the students are Sorted too soon, Snape is shocked at the thought that his true place at Hogwarts as a boy, and his entire later life, could have been different had the Sorting been delayed until he better understood his own desires.
The conversation between Snape and Dumbledore on the castle grounds, appearing as Snape's fourteenth memory, is one we have heard pieces of before. Apparently this discussion took place the previous year, just before Ron's rather disastrous birthday. It was partially overheard by Hagrid, who, with his usual inability to keep a secret, passed on the bits he overheard to Harry and Hermione.
The following conversation, in Dumbledore's office, turns out to perhaps one of the most important revelations of the entire series. Dumbledore finally explains to Snape the reason why Harry has a connection with Voldemort, why Harry can see Voldemort's mind (and vice versa), and why Harry can speak to snakes. It turns out a part of Voldemort's soul attached to Harry when the curse rebounded, and it lived inside him ever since. Harry was the Horcrux that Voldemort did not intend to make, and unless Harry was killed, Voldemort would not be able to die. Snape is horrified upon learning about this, and shows a side of his character that we hadn't seen till now. He accuses Dumbledore of manipulating Harry's life, to raise him and protect him so that at the proper time Harry must voluntarily seek Voldemort and allow himself to be killed. When Dumbledore sees that Snape is so angry that Harry must die, he asks if Snape had grown to care about Harry. We learn that Snape is still in love with Lily, performing a Patronus which takes the shape of a doe, which we believe, and Dumbledore recognizes, is somehow reminiscent of Lily. From the shape of Snape's Patronus, the reader recognizes that it was actually Snape who placed the Sword of Gryffindor in the forest and guided Harry towards it; this is of course confirmed by the final scene in Snape's memories.
- How was Harry able to get into the Headmaster's office, which needs a password to enter?
- Based on what he has just learned, what might Harry do next?
- How will Harry, who distrusted and hated Snape, cope with the reality that Snape was loyal to Dumbledore and had protected Harry, always at great peril to himself?
- Is it possible that Lily could have ever felt more than friendship for Snape? Could she have felt more for Snape than for James?
- Why and how did Lily, who initially despised James Potter, fall in love with him?
- Why did Dumbledore call Harry's mother "Lily Evans" rather than "Lily Potter" when trying to convince Snape to switch sides? This is after Lily had married James Potter and shortly before Harry is born.
- Now that Harry knows the reason for Aunt Petunia's bitterness and resentment towards him, is it likely to change their relationship? Explain.
It is interesting to note that of those around him, Dumbledore most often confided in Snape, whereas up until this chapter, Minerva McGonagall had always appeared to be his closest confidante. Before, Snape always seemed on the periphery and his true allegiance questionable. Now it is revealed that Dumbledore and Snape enjoyed a close relationship, forged by a common quest. When others asked why he trusted Snape, Dumbledore always alluded to a nebulous event, but never elaborated. Now, not only do we see what he was referring to—Snape's undying and unrequited love for Lily—but also why Dumbledore refused to identify it: Snape extracted that promise from him. Finally, we understand why Dumbledore trusted Snape implicitly, and vice versa, and our, and Harry's, faith in Dumbledore is reaffirmed.
Also noteworthy is that this chapter fully explains why Snape was so eager to see Sirius Black turned over to the Dementors, and why he retained his hatred for Sirius even after both realized they were on the same side. Sirius Black had been framed as an accessory to Lily's murder. The Order of the Phoenix shared the Ministry belief that Sirius betrayed Lily and James. Snape wanted revenge on Sirius for his lost love's murder. Even after Sirius' innocence was established, Snape continued to hate Sirius, though his lingering resentment over their antagonistic schooldays at Hogwarts likely also fueled his emotions. Snape may also have blamed Sirius for allowing James to trust Peter Pettigrew, so inadvertently causing Lily's death.
The key item that Harry takes away from this is the message that Dumbledore had required Snape to pass on to Harry: that Harry must allow himself to be killed in order that the last Horcrux be destroyed. It is, of course, critical to the story that Snape provide this entire set of memories to Harry. Snape had no time, and was wise enough to recognize Harry's deep distrust of Snape and his motives. Even if he had more time, Snape knew that he would be unlikely to convince Harry that Dumbledore wanted Harry to subject himself to Voldemort. Providing Snape's entire back story with Harry and his parents, in a way that was entirely trustworthy, no matter how uncomplimentary to Snape, is the only way that Harry would be able to accept the truth of Snape's allegiance. In fact, given Snape's ability as an Occlumens, it is only with Snape being in extremis that Harry is likely to accept these memories as being true. If Snape had not been in the final moments of his life, Harry would likely have distrusted Snape's memories as possibly being edited.
We must be careful about the wording here, of course; note that while Snape refers to the soul shard as a Horcrux, Dumbledore does not. This, it turns out, is critical to Harry's future; a Horcrux is magically bound to its container, and the container must be destroyed in order to destroy the Horcrux. The soul shard within Harry, while acting as a Horcrux in that it would anchor Voldemort's flayed soul to the earth, is not bound to Harry, but is simply clinging to him, and can be separated from Harry and destroyed by means that are less destructive to Harry.
However, Harry is too dismayed by the other implications of this conversation to discern such fine points; he has just learned that in order to finally defeat Voldemort, Harry must allow Voldemort to kill him. Given Voldemort's announcement at this chapter's beginning, Harry believes that the same magic that protected him after Lily's death may be invoked by his own death to protect Hogwarts' defenders from Voldemort. Even so, the awareness that he must allow Voldemort to murder him is almost more than he can bear.
While Harry is currently far too occupied with current events to be able to deal with the major revelations in this chapter, we will see that he does accept that Snape had been acting to protect him. In the Epilogue, we will learn that Harry had named his second son Albus Severus, after two headmasters of Hogwarts, and that he felt the one from Slytherin was one of the bravest men he had ever met.
Chapter 34: The Forest Again
Sprawled on the Headmaster's office floor, Harry now understands his own destiny. Under his Invisibility Cloak, he proceeds to the Entrance Hall, almost bumping into Neville, who is returning from the grounds with Oliver Wood. They are carrying Colin Creevey's body into the castle. Oliver says he can handle this on his own, and Neville returns to the grounds to search for more casualties. Harry follows and reveals himself to Neville. Harry tells Neville that Nagini must be killed to defeat Voldemort. He says that Ron and Hermione also know, but if for some reason they are unable to, then Neville must kill Nagini. Neville says he will, and Harry puts the cloak back on and proceeds to the Forbidden Forest. Noticing Ginny helping a fallen girl along the way, he is tempted to stop and speak with her, but knowing it would be impossible for him to continue if he did, he goes on, past Hagrid's hut and to the Forest.
Dementors gliding around the forest's edge block Harry's path, and he lacks the strength to conjure another Patronus. Harry pulls the Snitch from his pouch. Remembering its inscription, "I open at the close," he realizes it refers to death. Pressing the Snitch to his lips, he whispers, "I am about to die." The Snitch breaks open and reveals the Peverell ring, which Harry realizes holds the cracked Resurrection Stone. He turns the stone three times and the shades of James, Lily, Lupin, and Sirius appear. All seem ghostly but are more solid-looking than just spirits. Lupin and Sirius both appear younger and each looks happy. His mother and father speak to Harry, telling him how proud they are of him and offer comfort as he prepares to die. Harry asks if dying hurts, but Sirius says it is painless and easier than falling asleep. Harry tells Remus that he is sorry that he will not know his son. Remus regrets he is unable to be there for him, but is glad Teddy will grow up in a better world that his death helped to make possible. The spirits promise to stay with Harry and protect him as he passes through the Dementors, acting as Patronuses. Harry is able to force himself to go on only because the spirits remain with him.
Harry makes his way through the thick, tangled woods, unaware just where he is heading: the spirits, remaining close to his side, appear to guide him. As he nears Voldemort's camp, Yaxley and Dolohov think they hear something, but suspect it is probably an animal. The hour Voldemort has given Harry is nearly up, and it appears that Harry Potter will not appear. Still cloaked, Harry enters a clearing where he sees two Giants and Voldemort's Death Eaters, including Bellatrix. Fenrir Greyback is skulking nearby, while Lucius Malfoy and his wife, Narcissa are also there, both appearing defeated and apprehensive. Harry recognizes the camp site as Aragog's old lair, his descendants forced out by Death Eaters to fight for their cause.
Voldemort says aloud he thought Harry would come, but no one responds to his words. Harry pulls off the Cloak and tucks it, and his wand, under his robes. The Resurrection Stone slips from his fingers, and the spirits vanish. Voldemort speaks again. "I was, it seems... mistaken."
Harry loudly replies, "You weren't."
As Harry's final thoughts turn to Ginny, Voldemort casts the Killing Curse at him.
Snape's memories have answered many questions, and the truth is not what Harry or the reader expected. Not only are Harry's doubts and fears about Dumbledore seemingly justified, but Dumbledore was apparently protecting him all these years only to fulfill his ultimate plan, involving sacrificing Harry to defeat Voldemort. Surprisingly, Harry accepts this, and he willingly goes to face Voldemort and meet his fate in order to save others. Snape is also vindicated, and his heroism and sacrifice are finally revealed. Even though this does not fully exonerate Snape's behavior, if Harry survives, he will eventually have to reconcile his long-held hatred for his belligerent teacher with new-found gratitude to the tragic man who protected him and aided his quest, losing his own life in the process.
Harry's brief discussion with Neville about Nagini needing to be killed highlights Harry's increasing awareness that he is not alone in this battle, nor is it even limited to himself, Ron, and Hermione. He sees that the battle at Hogwarts is joined not on his behalf, but under his banner, and he has witnessed the sacrifices others are willing to make to defeat the Dark Lord. Perhaps his new awareness about Snape's sacrifices has assisted him in this understanding. In any event, while he still withholds details about his mission, he now shows more willingness to ask others for help when needed.
Harry's one comfort before facing death is being reunited with his parents, though, unlike the brother in the tale, he realizes that the boundary between the living and the dead can be crossed permanently only in one direction. By understanding and accepting this, Harry becomes death's master. He feels justified in summoning James and Lily's spirits only so they can escort him to the Netherworld, rather than resurrect them from the grave. Meeting his parents and hearing their words completes his emotional need for their love and approval, and for closure. They also provide comfort and guidance as he is about to encounter his own death.
Harry's deep love for Ginny is seen here. First, as Harry spots Ginny as he leaves Hogwarts, he longs to bid her farewell, but fearing he will be unable to continue prevents him from doing so. Also, and perhaps most telling, as Harry faces his death, it is only Ginny's kiss he recalls, rather than his parents, or even Cho Chang, showing that Ginny has provided the most comfort and joy in his life. On Ginny's part, as Harry passes near her, he believes she sensed him, despite being hidden by the Invisibility Cloak. While he cannot know this for certain, as he never looks back, this indicates his trust in Ginny's love.
We note that Harry tasks Neville with killing Nagini in the event that he, Ron, or Hermione are unable to (or are all killed). Although Harry fully trusts Neville to follow through on his request, Harry, probably overcome with his impending demise, has neglected to instruct Neville on just how to kill a Horcrux. If that is indeed what Nagini is, then she will likely need to be slain by one of the same methods that destroyed the other Horcruxes, though Neville apparently knows nothing about that. If Neville should attempt to kill Nagini by more conventional means, his own life will likely be lost.
- Unlike the brother in the Deathly Hallows tale, why does Harry feels he is justified in summoning his parents' spirits?
- What does, "I open at the close" mean? Why does Harry only now understand its meaning?
- When Harry summons the spirits of his parents, Sirius, and Lupin, why doesn't he also call for Cedric Diggory, "Mad Eye" Moody, Dumbledore, or Fred Weasley?
- Why does Harry drop the Resurrection Stone just as he confronts Voldemort?
- Was Dumbledore justified in protecting Harry only so his life will be sacrificed to defeat Voldemort?
- Why does Harry so readily accept the fate that Dumbledore apparently intended for him?
Harry's death, as we can surmise from the two large remaining chapters, does not occur at this juncture. Dumbledore's actual intent is revealed in the next chapter. There, it is learned that Dumbledore knew that Voldemort, by his own actions, had unintentionally extended Harry's protection against anything Voldemort could inflict on him. Harry was unaware that this protection existed, and had expected that he could die when he faced Voldemort.
There is a faint suggestion that Harry knows some aspects of Dumbledore's plan. Note that Harry carefully hides Draco Malfoy's captured wand under his shirt, along with the Invisibility Cloak. It is uncertain why he does this, if he was expecting to die. He may believe, or at least hope, he is protected from the Elder Wand, as that wand may now recognize whoever wields Draco's wand as its master; Harry may simply wish to prevent Voldemort from using the Invisibility Cloak and capturing Draco's wand, which might grant him the the Elder Wand's full power. In any event, Harry's concealing the wand and Invisibility Cloak may indicate he holds some hope, however slim, that he will survive the encounter. As he has no knowledge that he retains the blood protection, his hope seems to hinge on the Elder Wand and its current allegiance.
From the conversations with Snape in the previous chapter, we know why Harry must face Voldemort. In that chapter, it is revealed that Harry is carrying a fragment of Voldemort's soul, and that must be destroyed to end Voldemort's immortality. It may be worth mentioning that while this performs the same function a a Horcrux, it is not a true Horcrux; the soul fragment is merely sticking to Harry's soul, it has not been bound to him by the necessary magic to make Harry a Horcrux. As such, destruction of the soul fragment does not require destruction of its container (Harry). It is because of this that Harry is able to survive the encounter with Voldemort. There is more information on this in the Greater Picture section of the article on Horcruxes.
The final chapter reveals that one reason Harry so willingly, if fearfully, goes to what he suspects will be his death is because he knows about the charm that protected him following his mother's death. Harry believes, correctly, that his death will likewise protect Hogwarts, the place he loves, and everyone in it, from Voldemort's magic. While he cannot know whether this will work, and is likely too distracted by his impending demise to clearly consider the matter, he must see that this is the best, last hope for Hogwarts and its defenders.
Harry's dropping the Resurrection Stone, rather than being unplanned, is actually a conscious decision. It is uncertain how many times it was used, as, historically, it was apparently only collected as a Peverell relic. But Harry has seen that its effects can be fatal; Dumbledore was tempted to try and recall his dead family with it, and the stone's original owner, by legend, killed himself upon realizing he could never truly rejoin his lost love on this side of the Veil. Harry, as noted above, has not used the stone to recall his lost loved ones back to life, or a pale imitation of life; rather, he recalls them partly for reassurance that there is an existence beyond death, and partly as comfort in what he believes will be his final moments. Harry is mature enough to know that these summoned shades are not, and never can be, the people he remembers, and feels, correctly, that the ability to summon the dead does not belong in the living world. The Stone, now somewhere underfoot in the Forbidden Forest's dark depths, is unlikely to ever be found again.
Chapter 35: King's Cross
Harry finds himself alone and naked in an otherworldly place. Hearing noise, he wishes for and receives clothing, then notices a hideous, child-like creature, nude and with flayed-looking skin, crumpled up on the floor. Dumbledore appears and lovingly greets Harry. He explains that when Voldemort took some of Harry's blood as his own, he thereby tethered his life to Harry's; Harry cannot die while Voldemort lives. Rather than killing Harry outright, Voldemort's curse destroyed the seventh soul shard within Harry's body.
Dumbledore also guesses that the two wands interacted as they did during Harry's escape from Privet Drive because after Harry and Voldemort's blood was joined, their brother wands, already connected by identical magical cores, and wielded by wizards already sharing pieces of their souls, and further bonded by their blood, merged even closer. Furthermore, during Harry and Voldemort's duel in the cemetery, Harry was the stronger; Voldemort feared death, while Harry embraced the possibility. Harry's wand thus imbibed some powers from Voldemort's, making it more powerful than Lucius Malfoy's wand. That wand, even when wielded by Voldemort, was easily overpowered by Harry's. As to why Hermione's wand was able to break his, Dumbledore speculates that Harry's wand was abnormally powerful only when it was directed against Voldemort, who it sensed was Harry's mortal enemy, as well as being his blood kin after the events in the cemetery.
Harry wonders where they are, though he himself suggests it resembles a deserted King's Cross station. More important issues are addressed: the Hallows. Dumbledore asks Harry's forgiveness for withholding information about the Deathly Hallows. Dumbledore was obsessed with them in his youth, eager to escape death, and equally eager to shine and attain glory, while Aberforth looked on in disgust. Dumbledore resented having to care for his sister, which is partly why he was so happy to befriend Gellert Grindelwald. The two young wizards bonded over their mutual search for the Deathly Hallows. An undefeatable wand would surely help them rise to power in the Wizarding world. Dumbledore wanted the Resurrection Stone to reunite his family, but Grindelwald saw it as a means to procure an Inferi army. And while neither had much interest in the Invisibility Cloak, as both were proficient in disillusionment, Dumbledore thought it would be useful to hide Ariana.
Their short-lived friendship culminated into a fight, along with Aberforth, over Dumbledore's family. Somehow, a stray curse fatally hit Ariana. Grindelwald fled, eventually starting on his rampage, but Dumbledore delayed dueling him, fearing he might learn who actually killed Ariana. After much bloodshed and desperate pleas from the Wizarding world, he felt obliged to confront his former friend and defeated him - thereby winning the Elder Wand. Dumbledore learned that Grindelwald lied to Voldemort when he said he never owned the Elder Wand, perhaps trying to protect Dumbledore in a belated remorseful act. Finally, when Dumbledore retrieved the Peverell Ring, knowing it was a Horcrux, he discovered it contained the Resurrection Stone. While he never explicitly states this, it is clear that his desire to once again see his mother and sister was too great a temptation to resist trying on the ring. But putting it on his finger triggered the deadly curse that would claim his life within a year.
By withholding this information about the Hallows, Dumbledore hoped it would take Harry longer to find them, thus giving him more time to understand their true nature and avoid the same temptation for greed and power Dumbledore had succumbed to. Death's true master is the one who never seeks to escape it, but is prepared to face it without fear.
Finally, Dumbledore tells Harry that he has a choice: if he chooses, he can head to a platform, and he would likely find a train that would take him onwards, or he can return to the living world for a chance to finish Voldemort. Harry chooses to return, but he first asks Dumbledore if their conversation has been real or is it only in his mind. Dumbledore responds, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?"
Throughout the series, Harry has traveled to King's Cross Station, either to depart for Hogwarts or return to London on the Hogwarts Express. The station has always symbolized the crossroad between the Muggle world and the Wizarding realm and Harry's constant shuffling between, and his conflict with, the two extremes. As Harry now finds himself between life and death, his seeing that station's simulacrum is purely expected. And though Dumbledore assures Harry that he (Harry) is not actually dead, it seems Harry can choose that option if he so wishes. Harry has literally and figuratively been stripped bare, and must decide either to board a train that will transport him to the "other side", or return to the living world and an opportunity to finally finish off Voldemort. Both are difficult choices. And though "moving on" seems frightening and contains many unknowns, Harry knows he would finally be at peace, as well as be reunited with his dead parents, and also Sirius, Lupin, and the others he has lost. Dumbledore had once told Harry that, "to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure", a gateway to another realm, likely one that is better and more enjoyable than the living world, and it is a natural progression that should be embraced, not feared. But for Harry, who has yet to fully live his life, he would be forced to leave behind those he loves in the living world, especially Ginny, and any opportunity for a future with her. Also, only Harry can kill the Dark Lord, and if he "moves on," it would ensure Voldemort's victory; countless lives hinge on his decision to return to the living world, though there is no guarantee he can win. Harry finally realizes that Dumbledore did indeed always love him, and Dumbledore's actions, pitting Harry against Voldemort, was only because he knew Harry was destined by fate to do so, not because Dumbledore personally decreed it. Harry's faith and trust in the headmaster have been restored.
Before Harry's final decision, more questions are answered. The creature on King's Cross' floor would appear to be Voldemort's soul shard that had been within Harry. While this is never explained in the book, Dumbledore tells Harry that his soul is now wholly his own. According to the author in a later interview, however, it was actually the remnant of Voldemort's original soul left in his body, flayed by being sheared off for Horcruxes and damaged by his repeated murders. If that is true, we should still assume that the soul shard within Harry was destroyed when Voldemort's curse hit Harry. This would then leave one Horcrux, Nagini, that must still be killed, and Voldemort's flayed soul, though apparently dying, should not be considered dead just yet.
We now have two viewpoints regarding what happened the night Dumbledore retrieved the Ring Horcrux. Snape's memories only reveal the aftermath. And Dumbledore seems reticent to explain exactly why he put on the Ring. The Horcrux within it was likely sentient and aware that anyone wearing it would be cursed - it would fight for its survival. Earlier, the Locket Horcrux attempted to strangle Harry to protect itself, then, failing that, preyed upon Ron's emotions; would the Ring Horcrux have done any less? Dumbledore's desire was likely the same as Harry's: to be reunited with his deceased family. Recognizing the Horcrux as the Resurrection Stone, would he not, driven by guilt and desire, have been tempted to use the Stone to see them again? And would not the Horcrux, sensing this, entice him to put on the ring, knowing this should kill Dumbledore before he could destroy the Horcrux?
Dumbledore said Ariana's death was accidental. The question that continually haunted Dumbledore, and likely has been troubling Aberforth, was whose curse killed her. If it was Grindelwald, then presumably Aberforth would have sought revenge, though he probably would have been killed in the attempt. If it was Albus, then Aberforth would never have forgiven him. If it was Aberforth, then neither Aberforth nor Albus would be able to forgive himself, Aberforth for killing his own sister, and Albus for inflicting this tragic horror onto his brother. This uncertainty left the situation clouded, and prevented Albus and Aberforth from ever moving past Ariana's death, though it perhaps prevented the brothers from killing one another. Grindelwald, being considerably less caring, was only concerned that he could be blamed and took his usual course, running away.
Harry tells Dumbledore that Grindelwald lied to Voldemort, claiming he never possessed the Elder Wand, perhaps in a belated effort to protect his former friend. Dumbledore believes Grindelwald may have felt remorse in his later years. It would seem his last act on Earth was an attempt to save the world from the likes of himself. Despite lying to Voldemort, his effort was futile. Through reading Grindelwald's mind, or just through common sense, Voldemort determined that Dumbledore possessed the Elder Wand and it was now entombed with him.
Harry realizes Dumbledore planned either to die still commanding the Elder Wand, or expected that Snape would unknowingly become the Elder Wand's master, when Snape killed him, according to their prearranged plan. In either event, Dumbledore's expectation was that the Elder Wand would lose its power, either at his own death, or when Snape died without having had anyone challenge Snape for its possession. As there would be nobody left to challenge, the Wand would never transfer its allegiance to a new master. The plan failed to work out as Dumbledore intended; it has not yet been completely revealed how things did fall out, but it is likely that Voldemort, despite murdering Snape, is finding that the Elder Wand still resists his command.
Dumbledore, forever shamed by his delay to fight Grindelwald, chose to remain at Hogwarts, declining more prestigious appointments, solely to avoid succumbing again to power's seductive allure. It is difficult to imagine that Dumbledore, a brave and formidable wizard, could have ever feared anything or would leave others in peril. However, he ignored the Wizarding world's desperate pleas for help and avoided confronting Grindelwald for as long as he could because he dreaded learning that it may have been his own stray curse that accidentally killed his sister, Ariana. He may also have foreseen, and feared, the demands that he become Minister for Magic following that duel. It is only after much bloodshed during Grindelwald's five-year rampage that Dumbledore finally relented and mustered the courage to duel him. Dumbledore's delay seems incomprehensible, and he could be considered indirectly responsible for many deaths during the interim. Dumbledore, however, understood that truth can be a person's most fearsome and crippling enemy, and that fear incapacitated him during those intervening years.
- Why did Dumbledore wait to fight Grindelwald? What finally prompted him to do so?
- Who does Dumbledore say is Death's true master? Why?
- Was Voldemort ever the true master of the Elder Wand? Why?
- What might the creature curled up on the floor be? Why does Dumbledore say it cannot be helped?
- Where does Harry awaken, and what might J.K. Rowling intend for this place to represent?
- Why does Harry see this location as his "place"?
- If the scene with Dumbledore took place in only Harry's mind, how does Dumbledore know so much that Harry did not?
- What does Dumbledore mean when he tells Harry, "This is, as they say, your party."
- Dumbledore admits that his plan regarding the Elder Wand did not work out as he intended. Exactly what was his plan, and what would have happened if it had unfolded as he expected?
- Should Dumbledore have withheld information from Harry about the Deathly Hallows or told him more about them early on?
- Why did Dumbledore fear that Harry might be tempted by the Deathly Hallows? Was Dumbledore justified in thinking this?
- Even though Dumbledore possessed the Resurrection Stone, was he ever Death's true master? Explain.
- How was Dumbledore able to beat Grindelwald, even though Grindelwald mastered the "undefeatable" Elder Wand?
- Dumbledore waited five years to duel Grindelwald. Does this delay make him partially responsible for the deaths of Grindelwald's many victims during those intervening years? Explain.
- Why did it fall upon Dumbledore to combat Grindelwald?
- Even though Dumbledore assures Harry that he (Harry) is not dead, why is Harry given a choice to "move on" to the next world or return to the living? Why does Harry make the choice he does?
While the story never states whether the other soul seen in what we are calling the Waystation is Voldemort's principal soul or the shard that was within Harry, evidence that it was Voldemort's soul, as stated by the author, will be seen in the next chapter. Voldemort was knocked out by the rebounding Killing Curse he cast on Harry; as it thrust Harry's spirit into the void that became King's Cross station, Voldemort's diminished soul, tethered to Harry's by their shared blood bond, was dragged along.
At last, the victorious look in Dumbledore's eye when he heard that Voldemort had used Harry's blood to create his new body is explained: through their conversation here, it is clear that Dumbledore realized that this would aid Harry more than it would help Voldemort. As Harry had been protected by his mother's blood, so now would he be shielded by his own blood, now coursing through Voldemort's veins. Dumbledore also knew, though Voldemort did not, that by using Harry's blood to re-animate himself, Voldemort had ensured that Harry's death would be impossible as long as this incarnation of Voldemort lived. Further, because he willingly sacrificed himself, Harry is using the same magic to protect his friends, shielding them from Voldemort's and Death Eaters' curses, just as Lily had protected Harry by sacrificing herself.
Regarding Harry's statement that Snape was meant to be the Elder Wand's master, Dumbledore admits that that had failed to work out as planned. Harry sees this, though we do not as yet. In the next chapter, it will be learned that the Elder Wand never allied itself with Snape, and Snape's death, in turn, never gave Voldemort control over it. And though Harry confirmed this thought with Mr. Ollivander, he is still at least a little unsure about it. Dumbledore may have made the same misstep as Voldemort: despite the still-living (until Voldemort murdered them) Gregorovitch and Grindelwald as evidence, Voldemort mistakenly believed that the Elder Wand would only fully align itself to the wizard who killed its previous Master, rather than to a wizard who forcibly removes the wand from its current owner's possession. Ollivander, however, was quite emphatic that murder is unnecessary, though that trail does seem to have followed the Elder Wand. As the wand's allegiance was forcibly wrenched from Dumbledore's possession by Draco Malfoy, even though Dumbledore retained physical custody, Harry theorizes that it has allied itself with Draco. It is uncertain whether Dumbledore shares this belief, but his admission that Snape does not command the Elder Wand (nor did he ever command it) suggests that Snape's death has given him a little extra understanding. The question remains whether the Elder Wand has aligned itself with Harry once it "sensed" that Harry disarmed Draco while using Draco's own wand, the same one Draco had used to disarm Dumbledore.
Not only did Dumbledore's plan for Snape to obtain the Elder Wand ultimately fail, but it seems to have been rather risky from the start. As mentioned above, Dumbledore should have known that capturing the wand from its owner could result in it transferring its allegiance, as he certainly fully controlled the Elder Wand, as Grindelwald had had before him, when both Gregorovitch and Grindelwald were still alive – a point that Voldemort missed, not once but twice. Even though Voldemort came to physically possess the wand, he never commanded it. As it was known that Snape killed Dumbledore, there was a high probability that Voldemort would eventually deduce (wrongly) that Snape was the Elder Wand's master, and he would therefore target and kill Snape to transfer its ownership to himself. That is exactly what happened, though, fortunately, and unknown to Voldemort, Snape never commanded the Elder Wand. As Dumbledore had a pre-arranged plan with Snape to kill him, it may be that he intended for Snape alone to witness his death, thus forcibly claiming, and secretly wielding the Elder Wand. Likewise, just as Dumbledore never foresaw that Draco Malfoy would disarm him and unknowingly win the wand's allegiance (though Draco never physically possessed it), Dumbledore may also have failed to anticipate that circumstances would force Snape to return to Voldemort when he did, placing him in a dangerously close proximity to the Dark Lord.
If Dumbledore's scheme had worked as he intended, the story's outcome would depend on whether the Elder Wand remained entombed with Dumbledore, or if Snape had physically obtained it after killing Dumbledore. Entombed with Dumbledore, the wand would have remained Snape's, even after Voldemort retrieved it and carried it; Snape's death would not have aligned the wand with Voldemort, as Voldemort would not have forcefully removed the wand from its previous owner, Snape. (While this appears parallel to Harry's case, as Harry defeated Malfoy when Malfoy was not carrying the wand, there is one vital difference: the Elder Wand, in Voldemort's hands, then faced the wand that had wrenched it from Dumbledore, in the hand of the one who had seized it from Malfoy. Tenuous a connection as that seems, apparently that was enough for the Elder Wand to switch alliance. To get the same effect, Voldemort would have to claim the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb while wielding Snape's wand.) However, equally the wand would not have aligned itself with Harry, as Harry would likely never have had the opportunity to wrest it from Snape. If Snape had retained the wand, Voldemort would have had one additional step to retrieve it, and it is possible that Snape would have simply given the wand to Voldemort. In that case, again as the wand was not wrested from Snape, it would remain his, and thus somewhat ineffectual in Voldemort's hands. Only if Snape had resisted turning over the wand, and Voldemort had seized it by force, would the wand owe allegiance to Voldemort, and in that case, Harry likely would have had a much more painful time of things.
It has also been suggested that Dumbledore's plan was considerably simpler: he meant to die as the Elder Wand's final master, with the wand's allegiance transferring to no one upon his death. If his plan had worked, Snape would have killed Dumbledore on Dumbledore's orders, while Dumbledore was still the Elder Wand's master, and which the Wand would not have recognized as a defeat. The Elder Wand would never afterward have had an allegiance to any living wizard, and, as a result, its bloody and dangerous cycle would have been extinguished forever. This would imply that Dumbledore was fully aware of the distinction between death and defeat, from the Wand's point-of-view. His plan failed only in that he never expected Draco to disarm him. While this is by far the simplest scenario for Dumbledore's plan, it must be mentioned that it is not explicitly described anywhere in these terms, either in the books or in the author's interviews since publication. And though it is unknown if this was ever Dumbledore's intention, it will become Harry's. After discovering that he is the Elder Wand's true master, and following Voldemort's defeat, Harry decides against ever using Elder Wand, and intends to return it to Dumbledore's tomb with the hope that its power will be terminated when he eventually dies.
It should also be noted that if Draco had killed Dumbledore as he had been ordered to do (in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), then Voldemort would likely have murdered Draco in an attempt to win the wand, though, unknown to anyone, Draco had since lost its allegiance to Harry when Harry disarmed him at Malfoy Manor. However, if Draco had remained the Wand's master, murder alone may have been insufficient to transfer its power to Voldemort had he killed Draco. The Wand's allegiance could instead have remained with Draco, its power snuffed out upon his death.
It is worth mentioning, perhaps, that in discussing the interaction between the two wands, Dumbledore also specifically refers to the wand that Voldemort was carrying during the earlier attack on Harry as, "Malfoy's poor stick". While we know from the meeting in Chapter 1 that Voldemort was carrying Lucius Malfoy's wand, Harry does not know this. Harry's later actions at Malfoy Manor in this book would indicate that he believed Lucius still had his own wand. While there are several other points that would be known only to Dumbledore in this chapter, regarding his own family life and his friendship with Grindelwald, there is no clear path by which knowledge of Malfoy's wand could have reached Dumbledore, except possibly through posthumous conversations between Snape and Dumbledore's living portrait. This one point does create some speculation about death and afterlife, as perhaps it is meant to.
Chapter 36: The Flaw in the Plan
Returning to the living world, Harry lies limp, pretending to be dead. Hearing the Death Eaters surrounding Voldemort, he deduces that Voldemort also was knocked unconscious. Voldemort, reviving, orders Narcissa Malfoy to confirm that Harry is dead. Feeling a heartbeat, she softly asks if Draco is alive. Harry whispers, "Yes"; Narcissa, knowing she can only enter the castle with the conquering Death Eaters, lies and pronounces Harry dead. To "prove" that Harry is indeed a corpse, Voldemort uses the Cruciatus curse to toss his body around in the air; Harry carefully remains limp, feeling no pain from Voldemort's spell. Voldemort forces the weeping Hagrid to carry Harry as the entire group leaves the dark Forest. Hagrid, as he passes the watching Centaurs, accuses them of sitting idly by and letting evil win.
Voldemort calls out the fighters from Hogwarts to see their fallen hero. The Dark Lord announces that Hogwarts will be united under a single house, Slytherin. He entices Neville, a pureblood, to join him. Neville refuses and charges, only to be caught in a Full-body bind. Voldemort summons the Sorting Hat from the Headmaster's office and places it on Neville's head, setting it afire.
Several things happen simultaneously. The families of students sent home arrive, howling war cries as they climb the outer walls. The Centaurs, ending their neutrality, charge the Death Eaters. Grawp reappears around the corner, headed for Hagrid. Neville frees himself from the body-bind curse. Seizing the Sword of Gryffindor that has appeared in the Sorting Hat, he withdraws it and hacks off Nagini's head, destroying the final Horcrux. Harry, hiding himself under his Invisibility Cloak, leaps up and casts a Shield Charm between Voldemort and Neville.
As the battle erupts again, the Death Eaters, retreating from the new threat that now includes Thestrals and Buckbeak, enter the castle. Harry, under the Cloak, heads for the Entrance Hall, searching for Voldemort. Inside, House-elves, led by Kreacher, are hacking the Death Eaters' ankles with kitchen knives. Voldemort is simultaneously dueling McGonagall, Slughorn, and Kingsley. Bellatrix is likewise fighting Hermione, Ginny, and Luna. When Bellatrix's curse barely misses Ginny, an enraged Molly Weasley pushes the three girls aside and challenges Bellatrix directly. As they fiercely duel, Molly proclaims that another Weasley will never be harmed and casts a powerful curse directly to Bellatrix's chest, killing her. Voldemort's fury over losing his most devoted follower blasts McGonagall, Kingsley, and Slughorn backwards. As Voldemort turns to Molly, Harry casts a shield charm between them, then pulls off his Invisibility Cloak, revealing himself to the audibly stunned crowd.
Harry warns everyone to stay back - the battle is between him and Voldemort now. They circle each other warily. Voldemort claims that Harry continually survives by hiding behind better wizards who sacrifice themselves for him. Harry urges Voldemort, who he boldly addresses as Tom Riddle, to feel remorse for his evil deeds. He then tells Voldemort that Dumbledore outsmarted him, planning his own death, and that Snape was never the Elder Wand's master. The true master was Draco Malfoy, who unknowingly won the wand's allegiance when he disarmed Dumbledore, just before Snape killed him on the Astronomy Tower. When Harry overpowered Draco at Malfoy Manor and took his wand, the Elder Wand gave its allegiance to him; Harry reminds Voldemort that, "The wand chooses the Wizard". Because Harry willingly sacrificed himself to Voldemort, the same magic that Lily Potter's death protected Harry with, now protects the fighters.
The rising sun suddenly illuminates the two duelers. Voldemort casts Avada Kedavra as Harry simultaneously conjures Expelliarmus. But Voldemort's killing curse rebounds, reflected by Harry's blood protection and the Elder Wand's allegiance to him, while Harry's Disarming charm wrenches the Elder Wand from Voldemort's hand to his. With all his Horcruxes destroyed, Voldemort dies instantly.
A joyous victory celebration erupts in the Great Hall, but there is also tremendous sorrow for those killed in battle, including Lupin, Tonks, Fred Weasley, and Colin Creevey. Craving solitude, Harry slips away with Ron and Hermione and tells them everything that transpired after he left them. They enter the Headmaster's chamber where the portraits greet them with roaring applause. Harry tells Dumbledore's portrait that he will never search for the dropped Resurrection Stone in the Forbidden Forest. He will keep the Invisibility Cloak as a family heirloom, and the Elder Wand will be secretly returned to Dumbledore's tomb in hopes that the wand's power will eventually die with Harry. Dumbledore nods his approval. Harry then uses the Elder Wand to repair his own broken wand.
Although Ron is disappointed that the Elder Wand is being returned to Dumbledore's tomb, Harry prefers his old wand's familiarity. He concludes that the Elder Wand would be more trouble than it is worth, and that he has "had enough trouble for a lifetime."
The long, intricate story concludes with each puzzle piece set in place and Harry's questions finally answered; Voldemort has been defeated and Harry now knows that Dumbledore truly loved him. And though Dumbledore had tasked Harry with locating and dispatching the remaining Horcruxes, he knew Harry needed help. Ultimately, each soul shard was slain by a different person: Dumbledore destroyed Gaunt's Ring; Slytherin's Locket was impaled by Ron; Hermione shattered Hufflepuff's Cup; and Neville beheaded Nagini. Even Harry's enemies unintentionally helped. Voldemort (unknowingly) slayed the soul shard within Harry with his own deadly curse, and Ravenclaw's Diadem was scorched by the Fiendfyre that Crabbe conjured. In the end, Harry dispensed only one, Riddle's Diary. However, he was instrumental in identifying and locating the Cup and the Diadem, though it was Luna Lovegood who suggested the latter. Harry intended to destroy the remaining Horcruxes alone, an act that could have taken years and in which he likely would have failed. Instead, he learns to rely on and trust in others. By having each Horcrux destroyed by a different person, Rowling shows that Harry is the sum of all his parts, with those parts including his friends' support, loyalty, love, and companionship, especially Ron and Hermione's. Draco Malfoy also played a crucial role—his refusal to positively identify Harry and the others at Malfoy Manor aided their escape. Although Draco is hardly redeemed, his soul remains intact, giving him an opportunity to become a better person than most in his family. And just as Lily sacrificed her own life to protect Harry against Voldemort, Harry's willingness to meet death protected those who were battling Voldemort and his Death Eaters. This became evident when all the charms, hexes, and curses that Voldemort and his followers were hurling in the final battle seemed remarkably ineffective.
Also, Voldemort's tossing Harry about with the Cruciatus curse without it inflicting any pain is a subtle clue to readers that the Elder Wand's allegiance actually belongs to Harry—it will not harm its true master. Harry had been continually criticized by his mentors for acting too predictably to his enemies, particularly in using the Expelliarmus defensive charm. During his final confrontation with Voldemort, Harry knew he (Harry) was the Elder Wand's true master. He again cast Expelliarmus, ejecting the wand from Voldemort's hand into his own as the Killing Curse rebounded off his body, fatally striking Voldemort. By doing the predictable, Harry acted unpredictably and defeated Voldemort, not by killing him, but allowing the Dark Lord's evil nature to be his own undoing, unintentionally slaying himself. Harry is victorious through his cunning, patience, persistence, and by building alliances, rather than executing his enemies. Throughout the entire series, Harry never kills anyone.
Harry has also learned that death, grief, and loss are essential and inevitable parts of living; escaping them is impossible, and confronting them only makes one stronger. When Harry promises Dumbledore that the Resurrection Stone will be left in the Forbidden Forest, it shows that he has not only accepted death's finality, but embraced it, making him its true master. He resolves to never again summon his parents' spirits, understanding that it was never a true resurrection and that the dead must be left in peace. Seeing that James, Lily, Sirius, and Lupin have a serene and happy existence, Harry is content, knowing they will someday be reunited. Now Harry can move forward and live his own satisfying and productive life, even though it will always be tinged with lingering sadness. And while Harry accepts that the people and things he has loved and lost can never truly be retrieved with or without magic, there is one exception: his wand.
Some readers, like Ron, may disagree with Harry's decision to return the Elder Wand to Dumbledore's tomb, but Harry realizes that it is too powerful and coveted a weapon for him to safely wield. If it should ever become openly known that he commands the wand, he would need to be constantly vigilant against potential attackers seeking it, who would need only to disarm him during a single, ungaurded moment. Harry also prefers his own wand, though if he is ever disarmed while using it, the Elder Wand's power conceivably could transfer to his opponent, even while it remains entombed.
If any reader still believes after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Neville Longbottom should have been sorted into Hufflepuff House rather than Gryffindor, they need only to remember Dumbledore's words to Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that, "only a true Gryffindor could pull that (the Sword of Gryffindor) out of the Hat". The Sword's role in the series comes full circle here, and it is fitting that Neville should wield it just as Harry did when he killed the Basilisk in the "Chamber of Secrets". Harry killing the Basilisk empowered the Sword with Basilisk venom. Dumbledore then used the Sword to destroy the Ring Horcrux, and Ron slayed Slytherin's Locket with it. Now, as it had earlier with Harry, the Sorting Hat presents the blade to Neville, among the worthiest of Gryffindors, who beheads Nagini, the final Horcrux, thus allowing Voldemort to be slain by his own evil hand. A sword is often considered a hero's weapon, and Neville's act is truly heroic. It will further bond him and Harry, who never lost faith that Neville would succeed if he, Ron, or Hermione failed to kill Nagini. Neville is a favorite among fans, and many will be pleased that he, in the end, receives his fair share of victory.
Lupin and Tonks' deaths, a tragic loss of two beloved characters, have not only saddened Harry, but left their only child an orphan. It is, therefore, no coincidence that Harry, their son's godfather, is also an orphan. Both Lupin and Tonks knew there was a high probability that they could both be killed, leaving their son, Teddy, to be raised without parents. While both loved and admired Harry and believed he would be a caring and responsible godfather, they also knew that his own experience growing up without his mother and father would enable him to guide and mentor young Teddy in a way few others could. This understanding about Harry's nature may have been sparked or confirmed by Harry's outburst at Lupin earlier. Both Harry and Teddy having lost their parents to Voldemort, and Lupin and James Potter once being close and loyal friends will probably create a particularly strong bond between godfather and godson, much like Harry shared with Sirius Black.
Hagrid's shouting at the Centaurs, who refused to engage in battle because they disdained interfering in human affairs, seems to have shamed them enough that they finally joined forces against the Death Eaters. Also, Hogwarts' House-elves, who Ron wanted to protect before the battle, show that wizards' underestimation of them is incorrect: rather than cowering with fear, as most wizards would probably expect, the Elves strike at the Death Eaters. In this, they are led by Kreacher, a character who started the series as a spiteful, hateful House-elf opposing the Order of the Phoenix and despising Harry, but was eventually won over by Harry's respect and kindness, which Kreacher returned to him as loyalty and gratitude.
- Why was Draco (briefly and unknowingly) the Elder Wand's master?
- How did Harry become the Elder Wand's new master?
- Who had Dumbledore intended to become the Elder Wand's master, and why?
- Why does Narcissa Malfoy inform Voldemort that Harry is dead, knowing he is alive?
- Why does Harry feel justified keeping the Invisibility Cloak, but not the other Hallows?
- Why doesn't Harry feel any pain when Voldemort uses the Cruciatus Curse on him?
- Why did Voldemort's Avada Kedavra curse rebound and kill him instead of Harry?
- Why did Harry's sacrifice protect those who were fighting the Death Eaters, but not Lupin, Tonks, and Fred?
- Why do the Centaurs end their neutrality and join the battle against Voldemort?
- Why would Voldemort trust Narcissa Malfoy to confirm whether or not Harry was dead?
- How is Molly Weasley able to defeat Bellatrix Lestrange, an extremely powerful and evil witch? Are Molly's actions an act of war or personal revenge?
- Were the "shades" Harry invoked from the Resurrection Stone actually the souls of his loved ones? If not, what could they have been?
- Why does Harry choose his signature Expelliarmus disarming spell rather than another curse to attack Voldemort in their final duel?
- What might the final outcome have been if Harry, the Elder Wand's true master, had been wielding it rather than Voldemort?
- Why was Dumbledore, the Elder Wand's former master, unable to defeat Voldemort with it during the battle at the Ministry of Magic?
- Why does Harry, now the Elder Wand's true master, choose to secretly return it to Dumbledore's tomb? What does Harry say about it, and what does he mean by that?
- Is it possible that another wizard could win the Elder Wand's allegiance? If so, how?
- What could prompt Harry to retrieve the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb in the future?
- What will prevent the wand from being stolen from Dumbledore's tomb?
- What circumstances might compel Harry to find and use the Resurrection Stone?
Harry's decision to secretly return the Elder Wand to Dumbledore's tomb poses an interesting problem; it is never specified just how the tomb will be protected from some other Dark wizard. According to Mr. Ollivander, despite the Elder Wand's power, its master is always vulnerable to attack. Voldemort was able to trace the wand's history and follow it to Hogwarts where he easily breached the tomb. Without adequate protections, the wand could once again be retrieved from Dumbledore's tomb. And even though it seems Voldemort closed off the trail by killing most who knew it existed, another Dark wizard could possibly retrace that path. And though Harry is now the wand's master, and it will perform poorly for anyone else, if Harry is ever disarmed during an unguarded moment, even while wielding his own wand, just as Harry did with Draco, and as Draco did to Dumbledore, the Elder Wand's allegiance could be transferred to an attacker who conceivably could also steal it. Harry will need to be especially vigilant in protecting himself and the Elder Wand, a difficult task considering his future profession as an Auror.
Fred's death creates an intriguing possibility. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Weasley twins were able to precisely predict the Quidditch World Cup outcome. Just how they did this was never explained, but some readers have speculated that they may have used time travel to obtain the game's final results. It is known that the Ministry of Magic possessed Time Turners, and it has also been speculated that Bill or Percy were allowed to use Time-Turners, as Hermione did, to achieve their exceptionally good O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. scores. In that case, the Twins might have borrowed one and determined its method of operation. Although all known Time Turners in England were reportedly destroyed in the battle at the Department of Mysteries (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), it is credible that George would be tempted to locate another Time Turner to attempt to save his twin brother. That this would be a highly risky and strictly illegal act would be unlikely to deter George. Even if it was at all possible that Fred could be rescued from his fate, he would probably have to remain in hiding or assume another identity. This leaves open the slight possibility that two major characters could return in future novels: Mad Eye Moody, whose body was never recovered after the attack and who Ron speculates could be in hiding, and Fred Weasley. If, in any hypothetical future novels, George Weasley appears to have regrown his severed ear, readers should probably be suspicious that this could be Fred.
Epilogue: Nineteen Years Later
The epilogue is the final chapter of both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the Harry Potter series. It is set 19 years after Voldemort's defeat at the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and Ginny are married and have three children, James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna. They are at King's Cross to see off their two boys to Hogwarts, where Neville Longbottom is now the Herbology professor. James, the eldest, is already at Hogwarts, while Albus Severus, 11, is starting his first year. Lily, age 9, is moaning – very much as Ginny did in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – about being unable to go. Also present are Ron and Hermione, likewise married and with their own two children, Rose, who is also just starting Hogwarts, and Hugo. Ron tells Harry he has just passed a Muggle driving test after confunding the examiner – but he does not want Hermione to know. In passing, Harry sees Draco Malfoy and his wife with their son, Scorpius. Malfoy acknowledges Harry with a curt nod. Teddy Lupin, Remus' and Tonks' orphaned son, is spotted kissing Victoire Weasley, Bill and Fleur's daughter. Albus is worried that he will be sorted into Slytherin, but Harry reassures him and says that he is named after two Hogwarts Headmasters; one was a Slytherin (Snape) and possibly the bravest man he ever knew. Harry also confides to Albus that the Sorting Hat takes the student's own choice into consideration, as it had done for Harry when he was Sorted - something Harry has never told his other children. After the Hogwarts Express leaves, Ginny comforts Harry, saying their children will be fine. Harry reflects on his scar: it has not pained him for 19 years. The epilogue ends with: "All was well."
Rowling's epilogue provides a satisfying, but sketchy, update on the characters' post-Voldemort lives. However, in post-book release interviews, J. K. Rowling has given additional information. Harry and Ron are Aurors for the Ministry of Magic, although Ron also worked for a time in George's joke shop, which has become quite successful. The Ministry has radically changed from what it once was, and both Harry and Ron have been instrumental in overhauling the Auror department. Harry is now its head. Kingsley Shacklebolt is the Minister for Magic, with Percy Weasley working under him in a high position. Hermione also works for the Ministry in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and has also done much to improve life for non-human magical beings. Luna Lovegood pursues her interest in biology, and searches the world for magical and unusual creatures. She eventually marries Rolf, the grandson of the noted naturalist, Newt Scamander. Curiously, although Draco has married and has a child, Rowling does not identify his wife in the book. In the "J. K. Rowling... A Year In The Life" documentary created by ITV in the UK, the author does draw out family trees for the Weasley family, and a small tree for Draco, showing that he is married to one Astoria Greengrass, who did not appear in the books, and his son is named Scorpius Hyperion. The same tree indicates that George married one Angelina (quite probably Angelina Johnson), and has children named Fred and Roxanne. It is from this family tree that we learn Harry's eldest son's full name; in the book, he is only ever called James.
- Who did Harry name his second eldest son after? Why did he choose these names?
- What might Harry and Draco's relationship be today, based on how they interacted at King's Cross Station?
- Why doesn't Ron want Hermione to know about his driving test details? Based on this experience, do you believe the two have changed much over all these years?
- Overall, how have the characters lives changed after Lord Voldemort's death, and could it be said that they've all changed for the better?
Many fans have expressed annoyance at this epilogue, and at the post-publication interviews giving extra, and perhaps extraneous, details regarding the characters careers after the series' end. It is not this work's place to criticize the epilogue in this manner. It is part of the published work, and we should not debate the merits of its inclusion. However, it does seem to show the characters' ongoing development in the series. Neville, for example, has played to his strength, becoming a Herbology professor, his best subject at school. We see that, rather than remaining sworn enemies, as presumably their parents had been, Harry and Draco apparently maintained a truce that has grown into at least a nodding acquaintance, signifying that Draco has mellowed over the years. We see that Ron still retains his immaturity in small ways, though in others he has grown significantly. While he appears to still lag behind Harry and Hermione somewhat, he has grown beyond his previous "second fiddle" role, comfortable within his own independent niche in life. Hermione, meanwhile, has fulfilled, if not surpassed, all expectations that she would become an influential force within the Wizarding realm. And we also see that Harry has gained what he had always craved: a loving, stable, and supportive family. Harry's character development confirms what we surmised he would become, and we are reassured that, while our long attachment to these characters perforce has ended, they have prospered during the intervening years, and so our pain in parting with them is eased.
Details given by the author in post-publication interviews, however, seem less pertinent. In particular, the small facts given concerning various characters' futures, while true to the characters themselves, often feel contrived merely to appease the fans, rather than organically reflect the characters we know. For instance, in one interview, the author mentioned that Neville had married Hannah Abbott, now landlady of the Leaky Cauldron. This information could have been fabricated on the spur of the moment in order to provide a pat answer to the question. For the sake of completeness, Neville should marry; Hannah Abbott is as good a choice as any. But making her the Cauldron's innkeeper seems tacked on, rather than truly adding anything new to Hannah's character beyond what limited information we previously were provided. For this reason, while we have reported some small "revealed" details following publication, we feel these revelations generally add nothing to our understanding of the series, and so should not be cataloged here.
There is a flip side to all this. Though Rowling has stated that the series has ended, she could always decide later to write more novels in this universe. In that event, she may purposely have left information sketchy enough so that future plotlines are unencumbered by too many known details. Fan pressure (and disappointment) may have prompted her to provide the additional information that she did.
Concerning any possible sequels, one small point should be raised. With the soul shard within Harry having been destroyed, any connection between Harry and Voldemort has ceased to exist, meaning Harry's scar can no longer detect Voldemort's presence. We believe that all six intentional Horcruxes have been destroyed, as Voldemort had been heard enumerating them; the soul shard within Harry, which was an accidental Horcrux, was also apparently destroyed. So it is extremely unlikely that Voldemort remains in the world. If, by some mechanism, Voldemort survived, Harry's scar failing to hurt would not be an indicator that "all was well". There are, however, other Dark wizards and witches lurking about, otherwise Aurors would be relatively useless. Any future books would likely feature a new evil character causing mayhem in the Wizarding realm, and could also center on a different hero, possibly one or more of Harry and Ginny's, or Ron and Hermione's, children.