In Chapter 22, Harry’s dream turns out to not be a dream at all, and it’s terrifying. Let’s go!
Of all the teachers at Hogwarts, McGonagall is my favorite. She is a tough teacher, but fair, and she genuinely cares about her students. She’s the type of teacher I would like to be if I had ever followed my original career path. The other thing to love about McGonagall: she understands how to handle things. What Harry is telling her doesn’t make any sense at all, but she knows that there are things going on that are way out of her realm of expertise. If Harry is having some sort of vision and he swears it’s real, she believes him and takes him to the one person who will be able to help. Dumbledore.
Since Harry said it involved Mr. Weasley, McGonagall also brings Ron with them.
They approach Dumbledore’s office and hear lots of voices behind the door, but when they open it, Dumbledore is the only person there, other than his phoenix, Fawkes. McGonagall tries to explain what happened, saying that Harry had a nightmare, but Harry interrupts her, saying that it was more than that. It wasn’t just a dream, it was real. Dumbledore asks a very odd question: How did Harry see this happen? When Harry doesn’t get it, he elaborates.
“You misunderstand me,” said Dumbledore, still in the same calm tone. “I mean . . . can you remember — er — where you were positioned as you watched this attack happen? Were you perhaps standing beside the victim, or else looking down on the scene from above?”
This was such a curious question that Harry gaped at Dumbledore; it was almost as though he knew . . .
“I was the snake,” he said. “I saw it all from the snake’s point of view . . .”
It’s enough. Dumbledore immediately asks how badly hurt Mr. Weasley is (the answer is VERY BAD). He gets two of the portraits in his office to help him raise the alarm and make sure Mr. Weasley is found by the “right people.” The two previous headmasters (Everard and Dilys) have portraits in other places and can move between the two locations. As they all sit down to wait, Dumbledore tells Fawkes to warn them if someone comes. He then proceeds to prod some of the weird silver instruments that sits on one of his tables. It produces smoke which takes the shape of a snake, which then splits into two snakes. Whatever it is, Dumbledore seems to understand it. He doesn’t feel the need to explain though, which is frustrating.
The first portrait comes back, Everard, who says that they found Mr. Weasley, but he looks awful. Dilys returns soon after and confirms that Mr. Weasley was taken to St. Mungo’s, the wizard hospital. Dumbledore sends McGonagall to get the other Weasleys out of bed and then creates a Portkey. He then summons another portrait, Phineas, to send another message. At first Phineas pretends to still be asleep, and then tries to beg off doing it because he’s too tired.
“Insubordination, sir!” roared a corpulent, red-nosed wizard, brandishing his fists. “Dereliction of duty!”
“We are honor-bound to give service to the present headmaster of Hogwarts!” cried a frail-looking old wizard whom Harry recognized as Dumbledore’s predecessor, Armando Dippet. “Shame on you, Phineas!”
I love that the previous headmasters are all there, in portrait form anyway, to support the current one. I’m sure they can be very helpful, with their wealth of knowledge and experience. Phineas agrees to take the message. Turns out he is a Black, and his other portrait is in Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore plans to send Harry and the Weasleys there so they will be close to St. Mungo’s and wants to let Sirius know to expect them. Fred, George and Ginny arrive, confused and scared. Before they can say much, Fawkes sends his warning — Umbridge is on the way. Phineas returns to say that Sirius is delighted to have them, and Dumbledore sends them with the Portkey after sending McGonagall to stall Umbridge.
Before they go, Harry looks up at Dumbledore and has something very weird happen. And when I say weird, I mean in comparison to everything else going on.
At once, Harry’s scar burned white-hot, as though the old wound had burst open again — and unbidden, unwanted, but terrifyingly strong, there rose within Harry a hatred so powerful he felt, for that instant, that he would like nothing better than to strike — to bite – – to sink his fangs into the man before him —
That’s not creepy at all.
They arrive at Grimmauld Place, Sirius shouting at Kreacher to get out and his mother’s portrait yelling her head off. He asks what happened, which the other Weasleys also want to know. Harry tries to explain, leaving out the part about him being the snake. Fred and George want to run off to the hospital, but Sirius tells them to stay put. The last thing they need to do is appear to have this knowledge ahead of time or draw attention to the fact that Harry is having visions. Sirius convinces them to at least wait until they hear from Mrs. Weasley.
Harry is completely freaked out, and who can blame him? He had a vision where he attacked Mr. Weasley, and then felt like he wanted to attack Dumbledore. How is this possible? He doesn’t have fangs and never left Hogwarts, but everything was so vivid and strange.
They finally get a message from Mrs. Weasley, who says that Mr. Weasley is still alive and she is on her way to St. Mungo’s. They are to stay put until they hear from her. So good news, since he’s still alive, but the note sure sounds like he’s hanging on by a thread. No one leaves the room and no one says a word. In the early hours of the morning, Mrs. Weasley finally arrives at Grimmauld Place to tell them that Mr. Weasley is going to be okay. He’s sleeping right now, but they are all going to see him later.
The feeling of relief floods the room. I was so so glad that Mr. Weasley is okay. This was so scary the first time reading it! Arthur is such a good guy! You don’t want anything bad to happen to him! Sirius starts breakfast and Harry goes to help, to give the Weasleys some time to themselves, but Mrs. Weasley’s not having that. She pulls him into a big hug.
“I don’t know what would have happened if it hadn’t been for you, Harry,” she said in a muffled voice. “They might not have found Arthur for hours, and then it would have been too late, but thanks to you he’s alive and Dumbledore’s been able to think up a good cover story for Arthur being where he was, you’ve no idea what trouble he would have been in otherwise, look at poor Sturgis . . .”
Harry has got to feel odd about this, since he still feels almost responsible for the attack, and now Mrs. Weasley is thanking him for saving her husband. She also tells Sirius that they might need to stay at Grimmauld Place for Christmas, which Sirius is more than happy to welcome them. Otherwise, he’d have to spend Christmas all by himself, wouldn’t he? Since Harry was going to the Burrow? Harry takes Sirius aside and tells him what he had told Dumbledore, about being the snake in the vision and feeling like he wanted to attack again. Sirius tells him that he’s just in shock and he just needs to rest. He was able to save Mr. Weasley and he should be grateful for that.
Everyone goes upstairs to sleep. Harry goes upstairs too but is afraid to go to sleep in case he accidentally attacks someone else. He pretends that he napped in order to make everyone else feel better and joins the Weasleys as they head out into the city, with Tonks and Mad-Eye to escort them. Tonks asks Harry if he has any seers in his family, which Harry denies, although I’m not sure how he would know. He doesn’t know that much about his family, other than the Dursleys.
The entrance to St. Mungo’s is an old department store that is “closed for refurbishment.” Tonks speaks to the ugly mannequin in the window and then they step through. Once inside, St. Mungo’s looks like pretty much any other waiting room at a hospital, with several people waiting to be seen, healers in green robes walking around, and a front desk. Harry also sees Dilys’s other portrait — she gives Harry a wink before vanishing back to Hogwarts. The witch at the front desk sends them to the second floor.
As they approach the ward for “serious bites,” Harry hangs back with Mad-Eye and Tonks, but Mrs. Weasley pulls him along, assuring him that Mr. Weasley will want to thank him. Mr. Weasley is in good spirits. He can go home if they could only take the bandages off his bite, but it won’t stop bleeding; something in the venom of the snake’s fangs makes the wounds stay open. They are working on an antidote though.
“Is it in the Prophet, you being attacked?” asked Fred, indicating the newspaper Mr. Weasley had cast aside.
“No, of course not,” said Mr. Weasley, with a slightly bitter smile, “the Ministry wouldn’t want everyone to know a dirty great serpent got –”
“Arthur!” said Mrs. Weasley warningly.
“–got — er — me,” Mr. Weasley said hastily, though Harry was quite sure that was not what he had meant to say.
Mr. Weasley is not going to give up any information, not his whereabouts that night or what he was doing there. Mrs. Weasley shoves the kids out into the hallway so that Mad-Eye and Tonks can talk to him, but Fred and George have a remedy for that: Extendable Ears. They offer one to Harry, since he was the reason Mr. Weasley was saved. They listen in as Tonks tells them that no one could find the snake anywhere. It had vanished. Moody thinks the snake was a lookout, so that “he” could investigate closer. Mrs. Weasley also mentions that Dumbledore was worried about Harry.
“‘Course he’s worried,” growled Moody. “The boy’s seeing things from inside You-Know-Who’s snake . . . Obviously, Potter doesn’t realize what this means, but if You-Know-Who’s possessing him –“
That’s all Harry can hear. He drops the Extendable Ear and sees the Weasleys all staring at him. Because this is just what Harry needs. He was already afraid that he was going to attack someone, and now he thinks Voldemort is possessing him! Poor Harry!
See you next time for Chapter 23!