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, to the group's relief, brings the news that Mr Weasley will recover from his injuries, 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, Tonks and Mad-Eye Moody escort everyone to St. Mungo's. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, and Moody have (or so 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 Harry 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 there is some form of mind-to-mind connection between Voldemort and Harry. 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.
Likely the reader understands at this point that the door that appears in Harry's frequent nightmares is the one that Mr. Weasley is apparently guarding. The reader may wonder if this is the same door that Sturgis Podmore was arrested for trying to open earlier in the year.
- 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 has not yet recognized it, Dumbledore is reasonably certain a connection exists between Voldemort's mind and Harry's, and has been since Voldemort's re-animation. He probably 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 has been acting aloof and indifferent to Harry since the end of the previous school year, hoping to conceal that their relationship is more than headmaster-to-student. Harry, knowing nothing about this, is hurt by Dumbledore's apparent disregard.
Harry's experience to date suggests that the link between his mind and Voldemort's works when Voldemort is feeling strong emotion, or when Harry is near sleep. It is a safe assumption that the converse is true: Voldemort is as yet unaware of the link because Harry has not been feeling strong emotions at times when Voldemort was able to sense them. That changes in this chapter: Harry's fear and worry are a strong enough emotion that Voldemort is able to perceive what Harry is experiencing, and influence it to some extent. This is why, when Dumbledore looks at Harry directly, Harry suddenly feels Voldemort's urge to sink venomous fangs into him. It is perhaps also worthy of note that Voldemort's impulse is so snake-like, possibly because Voldemort has been in Nagini's mind, coaching her to attack Mr. Weasley. It is also important to note that this is the point at which Voldemort becomes aware of the existence of the link. While this is not yet useful to Voldemort, he will exploit it shortly.
As noted above, the door that Arthur Weasley was guarding was, in fact, the one that had featured prominently in Harry's recurring dreams, and Harry will shortly recognize the hallway as being the one in the Ministry that leads to the Department of Mysteries. As the main action of this book involves Voldemort's desire to retrieve something from that part of the Ministry, it is a safe guess that Podmore had been given the job of guarding that door. Readers may suspect, from various other clues, that Podmore had been placed under the Imperius curse, and had tried to break through that door under its influence. Why Podmore was caught, and Harry, when he breaks through that same door, is not, is uncertain.
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.
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.
- This is our first exposure to the portraits of the headmasters, and their ability to travel to other portraits of themselves outside Hogwarts. We have seen that the subjects of portraits in Hogwarts can travel to other canvasses within the school, but our information to date seemed to suggest that portrait subjects could only hop to adjacent paintings. We will see this ability of portrait subjects to travel to geographically remote paintings used frequently in this and future books.
- While we have previously seen Dumbledore, and Moody, use the Deluminator, this is the only time we've seen Dumbledore actually using one of the "intricate devices" scattered on tables around his office. We first heard mention of these devices in Harry's first visit to Dumbledore's office. When Harry, in Tom's memory, visits the Headmaster's office under Professor Dippet's tenure shortly afterwards, Harry notes the absence of the devices. While we have seen these devices sitting idly around on every subsequent visit to Dumbledore's office, it is perhaps only now that the reader may start to understand that Dumbledore is actually creating these bits of machinery, including the Deluminator, for specific purposes, and that one of Dumbledore's particular strengths is an ability with mechanical / magical hybrid devices.
- The Twins' Extendable Ears, used in this chapter, have been mentioned a few times in this book. We will see them used again in the next book, and again in the final book.