Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/Battle of Hogwarts

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event
Battle of Hogwarts
Location Hogwarts
Time Period Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (year 7, May)
Important Characters Harry Potter, Lord Voldemort, Severus Snape

Overview[edit]

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

Note that at least one fan site has placed the Battle of Hogwarts as occurring on 2 May, which would mean Harry had returned to Hogsmeade the evening of 1 May. The author has stated also that this date should be possible to determine from the text.

The climactic battle of the entire series is fought as Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts in search of what he believes to be the last-but-one Horcrux, in hopes of destroying it and thus taking nearly the final step in blocking Voldemort's apparent immortality. Learning of Harry's mission, Professor McGonagall assists in the sacking of headmaster Snape, and in preparing the school to be besieged. All underage wizards, and all of Slytherin house, are evacuated, and the remaining wizards, being the school staff and of-age students, Dumbledore's Army, and the Order of the Phoenix, prepare to meet the attack of the Death Eaters. During the preparations, Ron opens the Chamber of Secrets, and with Hermione, destroys the Cup Horcrux that they have been carrying, using Basilisk fangs.

Harry has determined that the last Horcrux is probably Rowena Ravenclaw's lost diadem, and recalls that he had seen it in the Room of Requirement. He, Ron, and Hermione enter the Room, but are followed by Draco Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle. In the ensuing fight, Harry finds and loses the diadem, and Crabbe eventually sets Fiendfyre. The Fiendfyre consumes everything in the room, including Crabbe, but Harry and Ron rescue Draco and Goyle. Harry also catches the diadem, which is being tossed around by the fire; as he examines it after exiting the room, it screams thinly and falls apart.

The battle is raging fiercely now, with Death Eaters inside the school. Hermione asks Harry to look into Voldemort's mind and say where he is. Harry finds that he is in the Shrieking Shack. Making their way there through the tunnel under the Whomping Willow, the Trio arrive just in time to see Voldemort murder Snape, in the belief that this will allow him to tap the full power of the Elder Wand. As his last living act, Snape gives Harry a jar of his memories. Unseen, Voldemort announces a one-hour break in hostilities, and promises that if Harry will come to him in the Forbidden Forest, nobody else will be harmed.

The Trio return to the school, where Harry, alone, takes Snape's memories and places them in Dumbledore's Pensieve. There, he learns that Snape had been acting always to preserve Harry's life, at Dumbledore's request, out of Snape's unrequited love for Harry's mother. Knowing now that he, himself, is acting as an accidental Horcrux, Harry leaves the school to find Voldemort. Using the Elder Wand, Voldemort kills Harry.

Harry, surprisingly, does not seem to be dead, but is, instead, in a sort of way station that looks like King's Cross railway station. Here he meets Dumbledore, and has much that was puzzling him explained, including that Voldemort's using Harry's blood in his reanimation had extended the protection granted by Lily's blood: so long as Voldemort lived, he could not kill Harry. Harry, given the choice of going onwards or going back, chooses to go back and finish Voldemort once and for all.

Returning to his body in the Forest, Harry plays dead, and Voldemort has him carried to Hogwarts. There, Voldemort taunts the defenders, though his jinxes seem ineffective. When he chooses to torture Neville, by putting the Sorting Hat on his head and setting it afire, Neville produces the Sword of Gryffindor from the hat and beheads Nagini.

As Voldemort screams in anger, reinforcements arrive for the defenders, and the battle is rejoined. It eventually centers in the Great Hall, where Bellatrix Lestrange is defeated by Molly Weasley. Harry and Voldemort now duel, and Voldemort's Killing Curse again rebounds, killing him.

Event Details[edit]

Note: this battle covers several chapters of the final book in the series. As such, the event details are quite lengthy. In the course of the battle, notably in the hiatus, several plot points that do not have to do directly with the battle are discussed and resolved. As they do not have any effect on the course of the battle itself, they will be skipped for reasons of length.

Harry, sensing Voldemort's thoughts when he is told that the cup Horcrux has been stolen, learns that the one Horcrux they have not yet been able to identify is at Hogwarts. With Ron and Hermione, he resolves to get there first and prevent Voldemort retrieving it. Arriving at Hogsmeade, they are caught by the curfew, and are rescued by the innkeeper at the Hog's Head, who Harry identifies as Aberforth Dumbledore. Once Harry convinces Aberforth to help them, he shows them a secret passage which leads to the Room of Requirement within Hogwarts School.

There, Harry finds many members of Dumbledore's Army, who had found the school too hot for them but wanted to stay, in order to continue with their program of guerrilla warfare against the current administration. Neville, who had become the leader of the group, says that he had used the Galleons that Hermione had bewitched earlier to recall all of the DA, and sure enough, past DA members start arriving through the tunnel from the Hog's Head. Asking about missing artifacts of Rowena Ravenclaw, Harry is told about her lost diadem, and decides that this is almost certainly what Voldemort would have used for his Horcrux. Luna takes Harry to the Ravenclaw common room, to see a statue of Rowena with the diadem so that he knows what to look for. He is caught there by a Death Eater, Alecto Carrow, who summons Voldemort by way of the Dark Mark on her arm, and is then Stunned by Luna. Amycus Carrow and Professor McGonagall then arrive. When Amycus decides that he will blame Alecto's summoning of Voldemort on the students, McGonagall refuses to put her students in danger, whereupon Amycus spits at her. Harry, outraged, curses him. Revealing himself to McGonagall, Harry says that he is hunting something in Hogwarts, at Dumbledore's request, and that Voldemort is on his way to try and find the same object. McGonagall sends Patronus messengers to summon the other Heads of House, and starts for the Great Hall. On the way, the way, they encounter Headmaster Snape, and he and McGonagall duel. As Professor Flitwick and Professor Sprout arrive, followed by Professor Slughorn, Snape retreats into an empty classroom, jumps out the window, and flies off into the night.

Returning to the Room of Requirement, Harry finds that several members of the Order of the Phoenix have arrived, but Ron and Hermione have vanished. He tells the assembled people that Voldemort is on his way, and that the fighters are gathering in the Great Hall for instructions. An argument breaks out with Ginny Weasley, who wants to help fight; Molly eventually relents to the point of allowing Ginny to stay at Hogwarts if she stays in the Room of Requirement. As this conversation winds up, Percy Weasley arrives and declares that he was a stupid prat, that he has left the Ministry and wants to rejoin the family. He is welcomed with open arms.

While Harry wanders the halls searching for Ron and Hermione, the school's defences are prepared. At Professor McGonagall's command, statues and suits of armor come suddenly to life all over the castle, arming themselves and taking up positions on the battlements. We see Professor Sprout and Neville planning defences using the dangerous plants from the greenhouses, and meet again with Hagrid, as he is thrown into the school through a window with his boarhound, Fang, by Grawp. Still searching either for inspiration, or for Ron and Hermione, Harry goes to the Great Hall. Here, Kingsley Shacklebolt informs the students of the plan to defend their school. All students are asked to leave, except those who are of age who want to help. Suddenly, Voldemort's voice rings through the hall. Voldemort informs the school that if they surrender Harry to him by midnight, nobody in the school will be hurt. Pansy Parkinson spots Harry, and stands, shrieking for someone to grab him; all of Gryffindor house rises in a mass, pointing wands at the Slytherins, almost immediately followed by all of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Professor McGonagall announces that all of Slytherin house will be evacuated, though those of age in the other three houses are welcome to stay if they wish.

Prompted by Professor McGonagall, Harry again sets out in search of the Horcrux. A phrase nags at him: "not seen in living memory." Perhaps the ghosts would know, they have been around much longer than anyone else. Harry finds Nearly Headless Nick, and asks him where he might find the Ravenclaw house ghost. Somewhat miffed at having his own offer of help dismissed, Nick indicates The Grey Lady, and Harry eventually chases her down. Talking to her, he finds that she is the ghost of Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter, and that in life she had stolen her mother's diadem and hidden it in a forest in Albania. She ashamedly admits to having told one other student about it, many years before. Harry privately thinks that the Grey Lady is only one of many who have been hoodwinked by Tom Riddle. He now remembers having seen an old diadem before; he had, in fact, used it to mark the location in the Room of Requirement where he had hidden his Potions book the year before.

As he is returning to the Room of Requirement, Harry finds Ron and Hermione. Ron had opened the Chamber of Secrets by mimicking the sounds Harry had made to open the Locket, and Hermione had recovered several Basilisk fangs, using one of them to destroy the Cup Horcrux. The Trio return to the Room of Requirement to clear it out, finding Ginny, Mrs. Longbottom and Nymphadora Tonks there. Tonks demands to know where her husband Remus Lupin is, and Harry tells her he was planning on taking a group of fighters into the grounds. Mrs. Longbottom immediately goes to join in the battle, and Tonks to find her husband. Once Harry finally clears everyone out of the Room of Requirement, he re-opens it as the junk storage warehouse where he had placed the diadem. Harry, Ron, and Hermione enter and start searching for the diadem; as Harry finds it, however, he is cornered by Draco Malfoy and his sidekicks, Crabbe and Goyle. The ensuing duel ends when Crabbe sets Fiendfyre, a magical fire that consumes all. Harry spots some old brooms, and the Trio mount them to escape; as they leave, though, Harry sees Malfoy and Goyle and rescues them, then sees the Diadem being thrown about by the Fiendfyre and grabs that as well. As they fly out into the corridor, the door slams shut behind them and vanishes. Now landed, Harry watches as the diadem screams thinly and falls apart. Hermione mentions that Fiendfyre is another of the very few things that will destroy Horcruxes.

Harry realizes that it is midnight, and the attack on the school has begun. Details are few and far between at first. Death Eaters, clearly based out of the Forbidden Forest, come streaming out in great numbers. They are flanked by giants and by the huge spiders of the forest. Curses and jinxes fly in every direction, lighting up the sky in green and red. The giants savagely attack the school, demolishing its walls in places. The spiders attack as well, swarming up the walls and into the holes created by the giants. Harry meets Percy and Fred in the halls; Percy jinxes Pius Thicknesse, saying that Thicknesse may consider that his resignation. An explosion shatters the walls, and falling stones kill Fred.

Voldemort is strangely missing from the battle as student and Order members fight side-by-side in small gangs. Battles rage in the main grounds, the Entrance Hall and outside the Great Hall. Even Peeves gets a piece of the action, hurling dangerous roots at the Death Eaters and taunting them. Hermione asks Harry to locate Voldemort; Harry enters Voldemort's mind and sees him dispatching a haggard Lucius Malfoy to fetch Severus Snape. Harry reports that Voldemort is in the Shrieking Shack.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione head for the Whomping Willow and the secret passage to the Shrieking Shack. Blocked by Dementors, Harry is rescued by Luna Lovegood and Ernie Macmillan casting Patronuses to drive them away. They are separated from the Trio by giants, and Harry, Hermione, and Ron enter the tunnel under the Whomping Willow alone.

In the Shrieking Shack, Harry sees Voldemort talking to Snape. Voldemort is disappointed in the performance of the Elder Wand that he had taken from Dumbledore's tomb. He clearly believes that the Wand currently owes allegiance to Snape because Snape had killed Dumbledore, and will not be fully Voldemort's until Snape dies. So saying, he throws Nagini at Snape. Nagini bites Snape, and Voldemort leaves with Nagini. Harry leaves concealment to try and help Snape. Snape releases a large quantity of memory, which Harry gathers in a crystal vial. Snape then dies, looking into Harry's eyes.

Suddenly, just as the Death Eaters were gaining the upper hand, the battle ceases; Voldemort calls his troops back. He issues a warning to all inside, telling them that if they do not hand over Harry Potter in one hour, he will order his troops to kill everyone in Hogwarts. Harry, Hermione, and Ron return to the school through the tunnel, and Hermione and Ron enter the Great Hall to mourn the losses of their friends. Harry, ashamed at the damage he has caused, takes the vial of memories to the headmaster's office and examines them with Dumbledore's Pensieve. In Snape's memories, Harry finds that Snape, always loyal to Dumbledore because of a promise he had made out of his unrequited love for Harry's mother, had been playing a dangerous double game, protecting Harry while pretending to be Voldemort's most loyal lieutenant, and that a shard of Voldemort's soul had broken off and adhered to Harry when Voldemort had tried to kill him. Dumbledore believes that Harry must be killed by Voldemort to destroy this soul shard.

Knowing that he must die, Harry now leaves the headmaster's office and heads for the Forbidden Forest. Passing Neville on the grounds, he tells Neville that if he does not return from where he is going, Voldemort's snake must be killed. Finding the Resurrection Stone inside the Golden Snitch that Dumbledore had left, Harry summons the shades of his father, mother, Remus Lupin, and Sirius Black. They protect him from the Dementors as he walks through the forest. Reaching the Death Eaters' campsite, Harry drops the Resurrection Stone, and the shades vanish. Voldemort, spotting Harry, attempts to kill him.

Harry finds himself in a place that looks like King's Cross Station. There he speaks with Dumbledore, who tells him that the soul shard that had been stuck to him is now gone, and that Harry has the choice to go back and defeat Voldemort, or to go onwards. Harry chooses to go back, in the hopes of finally defeating Voldemort.

Returning to the Forbidden Forest, Harry plays dead. From what he hears, it seems that Voldemort has apparently also fallen unconscious, but is now reviving. He orders Narcissa Malfoy to examine Harry, to see if he is dead. Narcissa, hearing from Harry that Draco is still alive and in the school, and knowing that the only way to go to him is to end the war, lies to Voldemort, saying that Harry is dead. Voldemort forces Hagrid to carry Harry out of the forest and back to the school.

As the hour elapses, the forces inside Hogwarts are awaiting the next wave of attack when Voldemort's voice sounds around them. He presents Harry Potter's body to the assembled forces. Aghast, the Defenders of Hogwarts shriek their rage at the Dark Lord. Neville stands against the Dark Lord, and Voldemort brings the Sorting Hat from the Headmaster's office, forces it down over Neville's head, and sets it afire. Neville produces the Sword of Gryffindor from the hat and cuts off Nagini's head, and the battle is renewed. This time the Hogwarts' forces are bolstered by the Centaurs, joining battle from the Forest; by the House Elves, who charge out of the Hogwarts kitchens bearing knives and attack the Death Eaters savagely; and by a crowd of reinforcements, apparently composed of the parents and neighbours of every child in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff House from all over the country.

Most of the Death Eaters are quickly routed; Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange continue to fend off those fighting them. Harry, under the Invisibility Cloak, follows the battle into the Great Hall. When Molly Weasley, protecting her children, kills Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort turns his wand on Molly. Harry, revealing himself as he shields Molly, gives Voldemort the chance to redeem himself; he refuses, and tries to kill Harry. His curse again rebounds, and Voldemort dies of his own killing curse.

Notable Consequences[edit]

Ron's suddenly thinking about the House-elves in the kitchens, and telling Hermione that they ought to warn them, is a turning point in their relationship. Hermione recognizes it as a sign of maturity, that Ron is now thinking of others, and it deepens her love for him.

The battle results, indirectly, in the destruction of the soul shard adhering to Harry, and of Nagini, Voldemort's final Horcrux. With the destruction of five Horcruxes prior to this, Voldemort's immortality is ended, and when Voldemort dies, it is permanent.

The death of Voldemort and many of his followers brings Voldemort's second reign of terror to an end. Wizarding Britain, which has been living in fear for the last two years, suddenly finds itself again free from the grasp of the Death Eaters and their leader, Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter, without a doubt one of the people most affected by the war, having lost parents, godfather, mentor, and many friends, now finds himself free of the burden that was placed on him before his birth, when the Prophecy named him as the only one that could defeat the Dark Lord. This will also give him freedom to pursue what he has always wished: a family of his own, which he hopes to find next to Ginny Weasley.

Analysis[edit]

One of the signs of Harry's increasing maturity is his treatment of the Hallows. As he confronts Voldemort, he knows that he has just released one of the Hallows to fall, unseen and irretrievable, on the forest floor; he is carrying another under his robe; and he believes the third, although it is in Voldemort's hand, currently owes its allegiance to him. During his walk through the forest, he has effectively united all three of the Hallows under his command, and so has, if the legend holds, conquered Death. When he faces Voldemort, he believes that he will die, and he is naturally afraid. A less mature wizard would have assumed the words of the legend were literal, and would have clutched the three Hallows to himself, in the belief that they would shield him from death. Harry knows that it is the man who is not afraid of Death who has truly conquered it, as death itself cannot be denied, but the fear of death is often far worse than death itself. Knowing this, Harry has decided that he will not allow the fear of death to prevent him from doing what he must, and with that decision has conquered death. Having done so, he no longer needs the Hallows, and we will see that he releases two of the three, keeping only the Cloak which he intends to pass on to his son.

Questions[edit]

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

Greater Picture[edit]

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

This being the climactic battle of the entire series, it must draw together all the dangling threads of the seven-book narrative. As a device to allow these threads to be drawn together and tied up, the battle actually has been written with an intermission. During this intermission, we first see Snape's memories of events, which explains many of the paradoxes surrounding Snape's actions, and finally reveals Snape's motivations throughout the entire series, as well as the riddle of Dumbledore's damaged hand in the previous year. Then, in the Waystation, Dumbledore ties up the threads involving the Hallows, Harry's soul fragment, and aspects of wandlore as they affect Harry through the story. A purist might suggest that this was an awkward way of getting the necessary information to us, but perhaps it is a measure of Rowling's skill that this device feels true to the nature of Snape, Voldemort, and Dumbledore. It does seem, however, that after having briefly decided to chart his own course, Harry is once again placed in a situation where he can only react to what is going on around him.

One thing that should be mentioned is that the soul fragment adhering to Harry, while it presumably would work like a Horcrux to hold the remnants of Voldemort's soul to the Earth, is not a Horcrux. There is more information on this in the Horcruxes topic, but in brief, indications are that the Elder Wand, even when wielded by its true master, does not have the necessary power to destroy a Horcrux. The fact that the soul fragment adhering to Harry is destroyed by the Elder Wand would argue that it is not a Horcrux. It is also true that the necessary magic to create a Horcrux and tie it completely to a physical object was not performed; Voldemort, dying from the rebounding spell that had been meant to kill Harry, would not have been able to perform that magic.