St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
Chapter 22 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
Professor McGonagall escorts Harry and Ron to the Headmaster's office. Many voices are heard within Professor Dumbledore's office, but they fall silent when McGonagall knocks. Inside, Dumbledore is alone. Dumbledore continues to avoid looking at Harry while questioning him, vexing him. Harry says this dream was from his point-of-view, as if he was the snake, and claims Mr. Weasley is badly hurt. Dumbledore immediately sends two past Headmaster portraits, Everard and Dilys, to their respective other portraits to search for Mr. Weasley. Dumbledore dispatches Fawkes to warn Mrs. Weasley, though her magical clock may have already alerted her to the danger. Dumbledore sets an intricate silver machine on his desk in motion; it emits a puff of smoke that forms into a snake. Dumbledore says, "Naturally. But in essence divided?" The smoke stream splits into two snakes. Everard's portrait returns, reporting that Mr. Weasley was found badly injured and has been sent St. Mungo's. Dumbledore sends Professor McGonagall to fetch the other Weasley children.
Dumbledore creates a Portkey, then addresses Phineas' portrait, who grudgingly agrees to deliver a message to Sirius at Grimmauld Place that the Weasley children and Harry will soon arrive. Fred, George, and Ginny arrive with Professor McGonagall. Fawkes sends a warning that Umbridge is on her way, and McGonagall leaves to head her off. As he activates the Portkey, Dumbledore looks directly at Harry for the first time. Intense pain in his scar and overwhelming hatred causes Harry to want to attack Dumbledore.
Arriving at Grimmauld Place, Harry hears Kreacher muttering aspersions to the children about blood traitors. Sirius orders him out. Harry tells the Weasley children and Sirius about his vision, though he refrains from sharing that he was the snake. The Twins demand to go to the hospital, but Sirius vetoes it, saying the Order wants Harry's visions kept secret. Harry wonders why he felt hatred towards Dumbledore, and why he seemed to have fangs.
Molly Weasley sends word that Mr. Weasley is seriously injured, but still alive. She arrives later and expresses her deep gratitude to Harry for saving her husband's life. Privately, Harry confesses to Sirius that he seemed to be the snake, and about the intense rage and hatred he felt towards Dumbledore, Sirius tells him not to worry about it. Later, Harry is unable to sleep, fearing he will turn into a snake and attack Ron.
The group decides to stay at Grimmauld Place for Christmas, to be close to the hospital. The next day, Mr. Weasley is out of danger, Tonks and Mad-Eye Moody escort everyone to St. Mungo's. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, and Moody have (they think) a private discussion regarding the previous night's events. Using Fred and George's Extendable Ears to eavesdrop, Harry and the Weasley children overhear Moody saying that Harry is seeing inside Voldemort's mind, and wonders if he is being possessed by Voldemort.
It can be surmised that the voices heard in Dumbledore's office were the former Headmasters' portraits conferring with Dumbledore. These are far more than mere "talking heads." While they counsel the present Headmaster, they also act as a surveillance and communication system, able to travel to their other portraits throughout the Wizarding world to deliver messages, report news, and occasionally act as spies. The Hogwarts Headmaster's office is potentially better informed than even the Minister of Magic regarding events throughout the Wizarding realm.
By now, we should suspect that Voldemort is accessing Harry's mind. This is confirmed when Harry relates that he could see the events at the Department of Mysteries from Voldemort's (or the snake's) point-of-view and feel his emotions. The small instrument Dumbledore consults emits a serpent-shaped puff of smoke, which splits into two when questioned. Its significance, which is never completely explained in the book, could be interpreted several ways. From the shape, we can assume that it is somehow related to the snake that attacked Arthur Weasley. Its splitting into two may represent the snake and Voldemort sharing its experiences. Alternately, it may represent Voldemort and the snake on one side, and Harry on the other. In the latter case, that it splits into two images may indicate that Harry and Voldemort remain separate, meaning Harry has not been possessed by the Dark Lord. Whatever its meaning, there seems to be some mental connection between the two, and when Harry makes eye contact with Dumbledore, the rage and hate he feels is almost certainly Voldemort's. Harry is more distressed than ever, unable to understand what is happening to him, and angry that Dumbledore is deliberately withholding information.
- Whose voices did Harry hear inside Dumbledore's office, even though Dumbledore is alone? Why was Dumbledore talking with them?
- Why is McGonagall sent to head off Umbridge?
- Why aren't the Weasley children allowed to visit their father in the hospital right away?
- What does Moody say about Harry? What makes him believe this?
- Where was Mr. Weasley when he was attacked, and what was he doing?
- Why does Harry feel hate and rage when he looks at Dumbledore?
- What might be the significance of the smoke stream from Dumbledore's instrument forming into a snake and splitting in two?
- Why is Harry reluctant to tell the other Weasleys what he actually felt when he witnessed the attack on Arthur Weasley?
- Why doesn't Kreacher respond when Sirius summons him? Is it possible that he could have left the house, even though he would need his master's permission? How could he have done that, and where might he have gone?
While Harry apparently remains oblivious, Dumbledore is reasonably certain a connection exists between Voldemort's mind and Harry's. He bases his conclusion on Harry's dreams involving Voldemort in August and May during the previous school year. Though probably still unaware that Harry is now dreaming about corridors, Dumbledore guesses that Voldemort's regaining his body may have strengthened the link, and that Voldemort will shortly discover its existence. Recognizing that the Dark Lord could use the connection to spy on Harry and himself, Dumbledore acts aloof and indifferent to Harry, hoping to conceal that their relationship is more than headmaster-to-student. Harry, knowing nothing about this, is hurt by Dumbledore's apparent disregard.
Regarding Dumbledore's "in essence divided" comment, J.K. Rowling explained its meaning during an online chat at a fan site shortly after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published. Says Rowling, "Dumbledore suspected that the snake’s essence was divided – that it contained part of Voldemort’s soul, and that was why it was so very adept at doing his bidding. This also explained why Harry, the last and unintended Horcrux, could see so clearly through the snake’s eyes, just as he regularly sees through Voldemort’s. Dumbledore is thinking aloud here, edging towards the truth with the help of the Pensieve."
Sirius was unintentionally overly forceful in ordering Kreacher to leave. Kreacher manipulated this into permission to leave the house, and he visits the only still-living Black family member he respects: Narcissa Malfoy. While he is unable to tell Narcissa about the Order of the Phoenix, or anything else that Sirius has expressly forbidden him to discuss, he does tell Narcissa, and through her, Voldemort, that Sirius and Harry have a very caring relationship. At almost that same instant, Voldemort senses Harry's thoughts and glimpses Dumbledore through him, causing Harry to feel the Dark Lord's rage and desire to kill Dumbledore, and rise, snake-like, within him. As Dumbledore suspects, Voldemort is now aware that he and Harry can occasionally share thoughts. While this is not yet useful to Voldemort, he will exploit it shortly.
Harry is already worried that Voldemort may be possessing him, and he is additionally concerned that he had been physically transformed into a snake and transported to London to attack Mr. Weasley. Ron reassures him on the latter point, saying that he was still in his bed and most definitely not a snake during the vision. Harry remains skeptical, and Moody's comment in St. Mungo's seems to be confirmation: Harry now believes that Voldemort may be using him to spy on his surroundings. This will shortly result in Harry deciding to leave Grimmauld Place, a departure that will be forestalled by Dumbledore's message, relayed sarcastically by Phineas Nigellus.