The Second War Begins

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Chapter 38 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Second War Begins← Chapter 37 |

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Dumbledore is officially reinstated as Hogwarts' Headmaster, and the Ministry of Magic publicly acknowledges that Lord Voldemort has returned. The students who had accompanied Harry have largely recovered from their injuries, though Hermione and Ron are still in the Hospital Wing. Harry goes to visit them, finding Luna, Ginny, and Neville there. Dolores Umbridge is also a patient. Dumbledore personally went into the Forbidden Forest to retrieve her from the Centaurs. Deeply traumatized by her experience, she is barely able to speak. Ron torments her by making soft "clip clop" hoof noises with his tongue, causing the frightened woman to bolt upright in bed, frantically looking around. Hermione and Ginny can barely suppress their giggles.

Hermione laments that the Prophecy was lost; Harry, aware of its importance, says nothing about knowing its content. Listening to their ongoing speculation about it too difficult, he heads to Hagrid's hut. Along the way, a vengeful Draco Malfoy threatens to curse him in retaliation for his father's imprisonment in Azkaban. Harry, quicker on the draw, has Draco at wandpoint, but Snape intervenes before either can jinx the other. Snape is about to penalize Gryffindor ten points, but sneeringly comments that there are no House points left. Just then, McGonagall arrives from St. Mungo's Hospital, fully recovered but using a walking stick. Seeing that all of Gryffindor's House points were deleted, she awards Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Neville, and also Luna (of Ravenclaw), fifty points each for alerting the Wizarding world about Voldemort, then subtracts Snape's ten points.

Harry finds no relief at Hagrid's, despite his pointing out that everyone now knows Harry was telling the truth. With Sirius gone, it feels meaningless to Harry, who heads to the lake seeking solitude.

Professor Umbridge leaves Hogwarts, but not before getting harrassed by Peeves. Rather than attend the Leaving Feast, Harry packs his trunk. He finds the unwrapped Christmas present from Sirius. Inside it is an old mirror, along with a note from Sirius explaining that Harry can contact him with it. Harry thinks it could be a link to Sirius in the afterlife, but only sees his own reflection. Realizing that Sirius did not have its twin with him when he went through the Veil, Harry angrily tosses it into the trunk, shattering it. A thought suddenly occurs to him, and he seeks out Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost. He asks Nick if Sirius could also have become a ghost, but Nick explains that very few wizards choose to remain earthbound as spirits. He did so only because he feared moving on to the next world, while Sirius would not.

In the hall, Harry runs into Luna, who is searching for her belongings that other students have hidden. Harry offers to help, but Luna declines, saying everything always turns up eventually. Remembering that she is able to see the Thestrals, Harry asks who it was that she witnessed dying. She says her mother was killed in an accident, but claims she knows she will see her mother again. She believes the voices from behind the veiled archway in the Department of Mysteries are the dead just lurking out of sight. As Luna heads for the Leaving Feast, Harry surprisingly feels better.

On the Hogwarts Express, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle attempt to attack Harry, but Dumbledore's Army members intervene, jinxing them until they are unrecognizable. Cho Chang walks past in the corridor outside Harry's compartment; she blushes but does not stop. Ron asks if there is anything still going on between them, and Harry truthfully responds there is not. Hermione tactfully mentions that Cho is dating Michael Corner, but Harry is unaffected, feeling it is in his past. Ron is concerned, though, as he recalls Ginny was seeing Michael Corner. Ginny explains that when Gryffindor had beaten Ravenclaw, Michael had gone to comfort Cho rather than celebrating with Ginny, so she dumped him. With a sideways glance at Harry, Ron suggests that she can now find someone better. Ginny responds she is already dating Dean Thomas.

They are greeted at the station by Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, Lupin, and "Mad Eye" Moody who tell Harry they intend to have a stern talk with his aunt and uncle regarding their treatment of him. The Twins, decked out in new clothes, are also there and say their new joke shop is doing well. The whole group confronts Uncle Vernon, demanding that he improve Harry's comfort over the summer, warning they will be in touch. Harry bids Ron and Hermione goodbye, and Ron promises that they will be seeing Harry very soon.

Analysis[edit]

Like the previous book, this one ends with much tragedy. For Harry, Sirius' death creates yet another deep void in his life, though, unlike when his parents died, it is the first time he has lost a loved one that he actually knew and had a lengthy relationship with. Not only is he filled with grief, but also guilt over his rash behavior and the mistakes he made, which led to the tragedy and nearly cost his friends their lives. Although Harry blames himself for Sirius' death, he fails to recognize that his godfather's reckless behavior also significantly contributed to his own demise. He also blames Dumbledore for withholding information, and Snape, who, despite Dumbledore's unwavering faith, he believes deliberately waited too long to warn the Order of the Phoenix. Harry's attempts to contact Sirius in the afterlife indicates his unwillingness to accept that his godfather is truly gone, though Luna's words provides some comfort and bolsters his hope that there may actually be an afterlife.

Harry realizes Voldemort is an even greater threat, and though he now knows that returning to Privet Drive each year sustains his mother's protective magical charm, this understanding provides little comfort as he prepares to endure yet another cheerless summer with the Dursleys. Harry will have time to reflect on what has happened and hopefully learn from his mistakes, though his path to maturity has been more traumatic than most. Mourning Sirius' death will cause him more loneliness and feeling unloved, and he may isolate himself, as he often does during stressful times. As a result, he might overlook or shut out those who care for and support him. As he grieves his lost godfather, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Dumbledore, and others draw closer to him; they are his true "family."

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Harry offer to help Luna find her belongings? Why does she decline?
  2. Why does Harry seek Nearly Headless Nick's advice? What does Nick tell him?
  3. What does Luna mean when she tells Harry that she will see her deceased mother again? How does that affect Harry?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why did Harry wait so long to open Sirius present? Why does he toss it aside?
  2. Did Harry's delay in opening the present from Sirius contribute to Sirius' death? If so, how?
  3. Why does Harry blame himself for what happened to Sirius? Is he right?
  4. Who else does Harry blame for Sirius dying and why?
  5. How might Sirius have contributed to his own demise?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Ron's statement that they will be seeing Harry very soon is actually prophetic, though he perhaps does not realize it, and Harry does not believe it. In fact, Dumbledore will collect Harry from the Dursleys' after only two weeks, and Harry will spend the rest of the summer vacation in The Burrow. Harry, not believing that Dumbledore could be taking him away so soon, will not be ready to leave when Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive.

Luna tells Harry that the voices they heard from behind the veiled arch are of those who have died and are merely waiting in the shadows. She believes they will be seen again, she fully expects to eventually be re-united with her mother, and that Harry will be re-united with Sirius. This foreshadows Harry's experience as he walks to his impending death in the final book.

The broken mirror will also play an important role in the last novel. While some fan sites have speculated that the bits of mirror, rattling around in the bottom of Harry's trunk, will be mended by Harry or Hermione at some point, this does not actually happen. However, Harry finds a mirror shard while cleaning out his trunk, and keeps it with him while he searches for Voldemort's Horcruxes (soul fragments). On several occasions he glimpses someone's blue eye staring at him in the reflection—an eye that could be Albus Dumbledore's.

Harry's interpretation of the Prophecy is reasonably accurate, but he has missed a loophole. The part of the prophecy which has left Harry feeling like a marked man is, and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. Harry, given what he knows, understands that this must mean that either he must kill Voldemort or be killed by him. As it turns out, while Harry will be the instrument of Voldemort's destruction, the actual fatal spell will be cast by Voldemort himself, and Harry will not have to murder anyone in the course of the seven books.