In the Hog's Head
Chapter 16 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: In the Hog's Head
It is a fortnight after Harry's detention with Umbridge has ended before Hermione dares to ask if Harry has considered teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. Harry quietly admits he has, to Ron's relief: he had been afraid that Harry would start shouting again. Hermione recommends teaching anyone wanting to learn, though Harry believes only a few will attend. He is, after all, "a nutter." The first meeting is set to take place during the next Hogsmeade weekend to avoid Umbridge. Harry is concerned that Sirius might show up in Hogsmeade, but Hermione says he has enough worry about, and Sirius listens to Dumbledore.
As Harry, Ron, and Hermione head for Hogsmeade, Filch sniffs at Harry before allowing him to leave. Harry tells Ron and Hermione of the incident in the Owlery, saying someone told Filch he was ordering Dungbombs. Hermione wonders who had suggested that to Filch. In Hogsmeade, Hermione steers them to a side street leading to the Hog's Head Inn, a small and rather seedy establishment, which Hermione confirms is not off limits to Hogwarts students. Only four patrons are there, a much-bandaged wizard, a witch under a veil, and two wizards hooded and caped like Dementors. Harry notes that the bartender looks familiar.
The invited students begin arrive, and Harry is stunned at how many there are: Neville, Dean, Lavender, Parvati and Padma Patil, Cho and her friend whom Harry does not recognize, Luna Lovegood, Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, Angelina Johnson, Colin and Dennis Creevey, Ernie Macmillan, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones from Hufflepuff, Anthony Goldstein, Michael Corner, Terry Boot, Ginny, a Hufflepuff Quidditch team member (later identified as Zacharias Smith), Fred and George, and Lee Jordan. Perhaps curiously, there are no Slytherins.
Hermione starts off by reminding everyone why they are there, then Harry says that if they expect to hear what happened to Cedric Diggory, he will not be discussing it. Harry will only teach defensive magic. Zacharias Smith seems skeptical, but the other students list Harry's accomplishments, and Zacharias subsides. Hermione has everyone sign an agreement swearing to keep the group secret. They agree to meet when a location is found, then break up.
Hermione comments later that Michael Corner probably attended only because Ginny was there. She and Michael met at the Yule Ball the previous year. While Ginny had her sights on Harry, she has since given up. Ron is incensed that Michael Corner dares to go out with his sister, though Harry is less concerned. Hermione mentions that Cho never took her eyes off Harry throughout the meeting, and Harry suddenly realizes that Hogsmeade is a truly beautiful place.
Harry suspects that the strong turnout for the Defensive Arts meeting may be motivated by the students' curiosity about Cedric Diggory's death, which is why Harry deliberately states that he will never discuss what happened during the finale of the Triwizard Tournament. Harry's comment that most consider him a "nutter" is probably true, but he has done little to help overcome that perception, preferring to withhold details about his confrontation with Voldemort and to internalize his emotions—an action reflecting his constant need to face adversity alone. Regardless, the students agree to give the lessons a try, though many may doubt Harry's claim about Voldemort's resurrection. However, their disgust with Umbridge, and their desire to learn real defensive magic from a teacher who "has been out there doing it," as was a major drawing point for Professor Moody's class the previous year, is likely what motivates them to keep attending even in the face of Harry's refusal to discuss what they are most curious about.
While Harry may still be reluctant to teach the class, it has provided one benefit—an opportunity to get closer to Cho Chang, who Harry now knows is interested in him. Ron, meanwhile, is upset that Michael Corner is interested in Ginny, though it seems that this has little to do with Michael himself, and more to do with Ron, being a protective older brother, feeling that no one is "good enough" to date his little sister. It is certainly suggestive that Ron never comments that he distrusts Corner until after Hermione mentions the attachment.
- Why does Hermione choose the Hog's Head Inn to have the meeting at? Was this effective?
- Why does Harry think few students will be interested in attending the meeting?
- What seems to be the main reason students want to join Harry's defensive arts class? What does Harry tell them?
- Why is Zacharias Smith skeptical about Harry teaching defensive magic?
- What is Harry's reaction when Hermione mentions Cho Chang? Why?
- Does Hermione deliberately omit Slytherin students from the Defence Against the Dark Arts group? If so, why? If not, why are none included?
- Why is Ron upset that Michael Corner wants to date his sister, Ginny?
- Hermione has everyone sign the parchment containing a vow of secrecy. How can she trust them to keep their word? Does she trust them?
- Why does Harry suddenly realize the beauty of Hogsmeade?
Of the four customers in the Hog's Head Inn, two were rather more interested in the students' meeting than perhaps Harry would have liked. The veiled witch in the corner is Mundungus Fletcher, who has been watching Hogsmeade for the Order of the Phoenix. He was disguised because he had evidently been barred from the Hog's Head, at least according to Sirius in the next chapter. And the much-bandaged wizard drinking Firewhisky at the bar is Willy Widdershins, who is in some trouble with the Ministry for charming toilets to regurgitate on Muggles. It is likely that he is in disguise to evade arrest. Hoping to beat the penalties for the charges, he reports the meeting to Umbridge, as is discovered in Chapter 27.
Hermione has required each student joining the defensive group, soon to be known as Dumbledore's Army, to sign a parchment bearing an oath of secrecy. But unknown to them, she has secretly jinxed the parchment to reveal any "snitches" who divulge information to anyone outside the group. When Marietta Edgecombe later informs Umbridge about the secret meetings, she is horrified when purple pimples spelling "sneak" break out across her face. It is perhaps an indication of Hermione's ability as a witch that these blemishes remain visible in the next book as well.
Associated with that, we see the first interesting misdirection when the author deliberately keeps the group's eventual betrayer, Edgecombe, to the periphery, where she says nothing apart from the occasional sigh or fidget. Zacharias Smith, with his obvious skepticism, seems the most likely betrayer, with his attitude continuing into the group's first session in the Room of Requirement. Willy Widdershins' report to Umbridge following the Hog's Head meeting results in all student organizations being banned. This leads Harry and Ron to initially suspect that someone present at that meeting betrayed them, though Hermione assures them that it can't be, because of the jinx on the parchment. Despite Hermione's assurances, the readers' suspicions will likely fall on Smith. Edgecombe's later betrayal will come as a surprise.
The innkeeper at the Hog's Head looks familiar for a reason – he is Aberforth Dumbledore, Professor Dumbledore's younger brother, as many readers guessed instantly. An extremely large clue is the goat odour Harry notices as he enters. Readers will remember that in the previous book, Professor Dumbledore mentioned that his brother was convicted of practicing inappropriate charms on a goat. Aberforth will play an important role in the final book.
- This is the first time we see Aberforth, though we have heard about him previously. We will see Aberforth again in the next book, and he will play a major role in the final book. Aberforth's preoccupation with goats will be revisited in the final book, where it will be revealed that his Patronus is a goat.
- Dumbledore's Army, founded in this chapter (but not yet named), will continue to a greater or lesser extent throughout this and the next two books.