The Only One He Ever Feared
Chapter 36 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Only One He Ever Feared
Stunned, Harry is unable to believe that Sirius is dead. He struggles with Lupin, attempting to reach the archway and save Sirius. Meanwhile Dumbledore has rounded up most of the Death Eaters, though Kingsley still duels Bellatrix.
Jinxing Shacklebolt, Bellatrix exits the amphitheatre. Enraged, Harry chases her into the Atrium, vowing to kill her. Voldemort suddenly appears, angry that his Death Eaters have failed him again. He fires a killing curse at Harry, but the now-headless wizard from the Fountain of Magical Brethren leaps and blocks the spell.
Dumbledore enters the atrium and manipulates the stone figure to protect Harry, while the witch statue pins Bellatrix to the floor. Dumbledore and Voldemort fiercely duel while Harry can only watch. Voldemort hurls a killing curse directly at Dumbledore, but Fawkes flies between them, taking the curse and falling to the floor. Voldemort seemingly vanishes, but then enters Harry's mind and, using Harry's voice, demands that Dumbledore kill him by killing Harry. Harry, hearing his own voice, is filled with thoughts of Sirius: if Dumbledore kills him, he will be able to see Sirius again. Voldemort suddenly exits Harry's body.
Cornelius Fudge, other Ministry officials, and Aurors begin arriving from the fireplaces; several, including Fudge, see Voldemort as he physically reappears, grabs Bellatrix, and Disapparates. Dumbledore tells a stunned Fudge what has happened and that Death Eaters are under guard in the Death Chamber. Fudge seems ready to arrest him, but Dumbledore points out that Fudge saw Voldemort himself. Fudge sends the Aurors Dawlish and Williamson to the Department of Mysteries. Dumbledore demands that Umbridge be removed from Hogwarts and the Aurors stop pursuing Hagrid. He says he will explain everything, but first gives Harry a Portkey, transporting him to Hogwarts.
Like the previous chapter, this one is largely action, with little analysis necessary or possible. A few points are worth mentioning, however.
During the duel, Harry attempts to cast the Cruciatus curse on Bellatrix, only to find it rather ineffective. Bellatrix asks if that is his first time using an Unforgivable Curse, and says that to use them properly, you must hate your target. One wonders how the false Alastor Moody mustered sufficient hatred for spiders, in order to demonstrate the curses in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. While Bellatrix suggests that hatred is necessary for all Unforgivable Curses to work, there is actually a quite significant difference between the Cruciatus and Killing curses, and the Imperius curse; the first two curses' sole effect is to damage the target, while the third involves imposing control. It seems reasonable to suppose that the Cruciatus and Killing curses, then, require hating the victim, while the Imperius curse instead requires a belief in your aims being superior to the target's.
As is common in public edifices, the art works in a building's public areas tend to reflect the stated aims or beliefs of the organization residing there. In this case, Harry has previously commented on the Fountain of Magical Brethren, saying that excepting the subservient House-elf, the syrupy, adoring expressions worn by the other non-human magical beings for the Wizard in the tableau seemed ridiculously overdone. Yet, this seems to reflect the Ministry's belief structure, that human wizards are rulers over all other magical races. Now that this sculpture has been destroyed, it will be interesting to see what will replace it.
- What happens when Voldemort hurls a killing curse at Dumbledore?
- Who arrives just before Voldemort disapparates? What is the reaction?
- What does Voldemort do just before disapparating?
- Who, besides Voldemort, escapes?
- Who summoned the Minister and the Aurors, and how?
- Why did Voldemort so abruptly depart from Harry's mind? What did Dumbledore do to cause that departure, if anything? What did Harry do, if anything?
Voldemort possesses Harry's mind, but overcome by Harry's myriad memories and intense feelings for his friends, Sirius, and his parents, the Dark Lord quickly vacates it. Voldemort demanded that Dumbledore kill Harry, death being the worst thing that can happen. Harry, however, would welcome death here, as it would re-unite him with his parents and Sirius, and free him from the excruciating pain radiating from his scar. As Dumbledore will shortly explain, the power Harry possesses that Voldemort never can is love, which among other things makes Harry's mind an intolerable place for Voldemort to occupy. Additionally, we will find that, as Voldemort fears death more than anything, Harry's yearning to die at that point must have terrified him.
In the next book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Professor Dumbledore asks Harry if his scar has been hurting. Harry replies, with some surprise, it has not hurt all year, though he would have expected it to. Dumbledore explains that when Voldemort possessed Harry's mind, he found it such an inhospitable place to be in that he likely has been shielding his own mind from Harry's since then. In the series' final two books, Voldemort never attempts to possess Harry again, though as the final book progresses, Harry gains more and more ability to see what is happening inside Voldemort's mind. This actually is quite interesting as Voldemort, throughout the final book, is intent on capturing and killing Harry, a mission that he seems quite willing to leave to his subordinates despite the amount of useful information he could glean by trying to see through Harry's eyes.
Though Harry loses his godfather and fails to kill or capture Bellatrix Lestrange, the battle at the Ministry of Magic yields some benefit as Voldemort's presence is exposed and many Death Eaters are apprehended. Now the Wizarding world will know that Harry was telling the truth, and the Ministry will be forced to cease its smear campaign to discredit Harry and Dumbledore. It is expected that the Ministry will now take action against Voldemort and his followers. Additionally, the much-despised Umbridge will be removed from Hogwarts, and Dumbledore and Hagrid can return to their posts. While Dumbledore's reinstatement to his other previous posts will be announced in the Daily Prophet, it will be Harry's image that undergoes the most significant rehabilitation. Throughout this book, we have seen that the Daily Prophet was using Harry as a figure of ridicule, but now that his claims have been proven true, he will suddenly be titled "the Chosen One", the one hope against the returned Dark Lord. Harry will be perhaps more dismayed at being singled out for praise than he was to be reviled, but will find that he can manipulate the positive publicity.
Dumbledore here is seen as doing very advanced magic throughout the duel, but one extremely powerful charm is passed off with barely a note: the statues from the Fountain of Magical Brethren are each individually animated and given tasks to carry out independently. The wizard protects Harry and keeps him out of the battle, the centaur acts to deflect spells from Voldemort, the witch traps Bellatrix, and the goblin and house elf somehow are sent to summon the Ministry staff, including the Minister himself. As the main access route to the Ministry seems to be fireplaces and the Floo network, one wonders whether the animate statues were actually able to use them, or whether there was instead some form of alarm caller that they were able to locate and activate, is unknown.
Fawkes intercepts Voldemort's Avada Kedavra curse, but as the Phoenix is immortal, this merely ends this cycle of his life. For all its power, the killing curse is ordinary magic, and the Phoenix is, of course, extraordinary, as we've already heard. Dumbledore will later bring him back to the bed of ashes under his perch.
- Harry will remember what Bellatrix said about the Unforgivable Curses when he successfully casts Imperius and Cruciatus for the first time.
- Harry's mind proves so inhospitable to Voldemort that Voldemort will never again attempt to possess Harry, despite the value of the information that Voldemort could gain by such possession, particularly through the course of the final book.