Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place
Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place
Mad-Eye Moody instructs Harry to focus on the paper he has just been shown. When he does, a dilapidated-looking house materializes, and the Advance Guard ushers him in. The dark interior is as rundown and shabby as the outside. They are welcomed by Molly Weasley, who sends Harry upstairs to where Ron and Hermione are while the adults conduct a meeting. Harry's friends warmly greet him, though he is still upset that they withheld information; seeing Hedwig's peck marks on their hands pacifies him somewhat. Ron and Hermione insist Dumbledore swore them to secrecy, but that does not stop Harry from shouting his frustration. When he finally calms down, he begins asking questions.
Ron and Hermione identify the house as the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society founded by Dumbledore to combat Lord Voldemort. As they have been barred from any meetings, Ron and Hermione have little more information to offer. Instead, they have been busy cleaning the house. George, Fred, and Ginny Weasley enter the room. During the conversation, they reveal that Percy Weasley has become estranged from the family. He was promoted to a prestigious position in the Ministry of Magic, which is surprising considering his involvement in the events concerning his former boss, Mr. Crouch (in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). When Arthur Weasley suggested he was promoted so he could spy on the Weasley family, a fight erupted, ending with Percy moving to London. Also, The Daily Prophet has been using Harry as a "standing joke" to discredit his claims that Lord Voldemort has returned.
Finally, the meeting ends, and Mrs. Weasley announces dinner. In the hallway, Tonks knocks over an umbrella stand. The noise apparently causes two curtains to fly open. Behind them is a woman's portrait screaming: "Half-breeds, mutants, freaks, begone from this place! How dare you befoul the house of my fathers . . ." Mrs. Weasley and Tonks try ineffectually to close the curtains. Sirius Black enters and wrenches them shut. Greeting Harry, he comments that Harry has just met his mother.
Harry, relieved to return to the wizarding world, and glad to be reunited with Sirius, is still angry. He reacts by lashing out at Ron and Hermione for withholding information, unconcerned that they were under strict orders to divulge nothing in their letters to him. Though Harry is perversely pleased that Hedwig has painfully pecked Ron and Hermione's hands, they actually have little news to share. Being at Grimmauld Place has given them little access to the Order's business as they, like Harry, are still too young to significantly participate in these very dangerous and adult matters. That hardly mollifies Harry, who continues to feel frustrated and angry at being denied knowledge regarding events in which he plays an integral part. Now, however, he has others he can vent his ire on, however undeserved. Harry's frustration and emotional outbursts are mostly affected by puberty, and he suffers from the usual teenage angst that is exacerbated by his isolation and post-traumatic stress regarding Cedric Diggory's recent death and Voldemort's return. Harry could learn much from Fred and George's example, however. Despite being legal age, they are still students and are also excluded from the Order's affairs. But rather than childishly ranting and raving like Harry, they instead employ their ingenuity to devise unique magical methods for gathering information, which they then share with Harry and the others.
The boundary between adults and youths is clearly defined here, and though Harry and the others have continually proved their worth in fighting Voldemort, and Harry has personally faced the Dark Lord three times, they are still underaged and unqualified wizards. Entrusting youths with the Order's secrets would be irresponsible and make them more tempting targets for Death Eaters to capture and torture for that information. Harry and the others fail to consider that, or that Harry just barely escaped Voldemort's trap that cost Cedric his life. The less they all know, the safer they are, at least for now, though they will continue to do whatever they can to uncover the Order's business.
The rift between Percy and the Weasley clan continues to grow and causes Ron and his family additional stress and anguish. While Percy has always been rather pompous and self-serving, his ambition has blinded him to what is truly happening within the Ministry of Magic and the Wizarding world at large. He also discounts that Voldemort has returned. Regarding his sudden promotion, two factors make it logical. First, as the other Weasleys suggest, the Ministry recruited him to spy upon his own family, who are known Harry and Dumbledore supporters. Second, the Ministry was covering up Percy's severe blunder. Percy, as his family is aware, seriously erred by failing to recognize that Mr. Crouch had fallen under Voldemort's and Wormtail's control. The official Ministry of Magic stance continues to be that Voldemort is still dead and Wormtail was murdered by Sirius Black thirteen years ago. Therefore, they must deny Harry's explanation regarding Mr. Crouch, no matter how well it explains what has been happening. Percy's only official misstep was that he never realized how "sick" Crouch was, for which he can be forgiven because Crouch apparently hid this well, and Percy's promotion simply aids the fiction that the Ministry must fabricate to explain what happened to Crouch. Percy, having whole-heartedly bought into the Ministry mindset, never questions his promotion, apparently believing it is solely to recognize his abilities.
- Why is Harry so angry with Ron and Hermione? How else could he have expressed his frustration?
- What is the Order of the Phoenix and why was it established? Who founded it?
- What has caused Percy's estrangement from the Weasley family? Did he react appropriately?
- Why does the Daily Prophet continually ridicule Harry? Who might be responsible for projecting this image?
- Why does Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place resemble a Dark wizard's residence? What is its current purpose?
- Why was so much information withheld from Harry until now? Was this wise?
Percy will continue, oblivious to the changes in the Ministry, until very near the end of our story. Finally recognizing that the Ministry has changed, fundamentally, into Voldemort's instrument of evil, Percy will return to his family as the Battle of Hogwarts begins. Until he reaches that realization, though, there will be friction between himself and his father, as they both continue to work at the Ministry.
Fred and George, in order to determine what is happening in the Order meetings, have invented Extendable Ears, which they use to listen in on the meetings. These devices, with their ability to eavesdrop on other wizards, will prove useful in this and both future books.
The house's appearance will give the reader some concern, as with its snake-head door handle, display of preserved House Elf heads, and screaming portraits, it is clearly the residence of wizards with some kinship to Slytherin and espouse Voldemort's views on Wizarding racial purity. We will learn that the Black family's male line has nearly died out, leaving Sirius as the sole surviving male Black. In an attempt to reject his family's values, which are repugnant to him, he is trying to eliminate the house's Dark magic. It is presumed that Harry will continue cleansing the house, which he inherits upon Sirius' death, once the more pressing matters of his education and Voldemort's defeat are dealt with.