In Chapter 37, we learn just what that prophesy said and how deep Dumbledore was involved in all of this. Let’s go!
I have said it before and I will say it again: after all the loss and all the trauma Harry has experienced in his life, I honestly do not know how he is still so mentally stable. I WOULD BE AN ABSOLUTE WRECK AFTER ALL OF THIS! That’s why whenever people complain about Harry going all CAPSLOCK in this book, I shut them down. After the way his life has been, Harry has every right to be angry as all hell. Does he deal with it in a healthy way? Not always. Does he lash out? Of course he does. He’s a fifteen year old boy who has basically had to raise himself due to the neglect of his supposed caregivers. But despite all of this, he still ends up being a pretty solid person. Do they have therapists in the wizarding world? Does St. Mungo’s employ wizard psychologists? These are questions I need answered!
Getting into this chapter now. Harry has just seen Sirius die, watched an epic wizard duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort, been tortured and possessed by Voldemort, and then Porkeyed back to Dumbledore’s office at Hogwarts while Dumbledore tries to clean things up back at the Ministry. Yikes. The other headmaster portraits are all asleep and don’t seem to notice his sudden appearance. Harry is mostly feeling overwhelmed by one thing: guilt.
It was his fault Sirius had died: it was all his fault. If he, Harry, had not been stupid enough to fall for Voldemort’s trick, if he had not been so convinced that what he had seen in his dream was real, if he had only opened his mind to the possibility that Voldemort was, as Hermione had said, banking on Harry’s love of playing the hero . . .
Oh, honey. First of all, of course he thought his vision about Sirius was real. The one with Mr. Weasley was, after all, and Harry’s quick actions in reporting it saved a man’s life. How was Harry to know this one was different? Voldemort did play him, sure, but wanting to run out and save his godfather is not a bad trait, nor is “playing the hero.” And Harry did try to verify things before he ran out, back in the fire in Umbridge’s office, so it’s not like he had been completely impulsive here. In any case, we can “what if” all we want to, but that won’t change the fact that Sirius is gone.
The first portrait to wake up is Phineas Nigellus, who sneers at Harry, asking if he has another message for his “worthless great-great-grandson.” Harry doesn’t want to say anything and turns to leave, but the door is locked. Other portraits stir and one of them hopes that this means that Dumbledore will be back soon. He says that things have been very boring without Dumbledore there and also tells Harry that Dumbledore has a great respect for Harry. This is the wrong thing to say right now.
Dumbledore emerges from the fireplace in a burst of green flames and all the portraits cheer. They are happy to see him. The first thing Dumbledore does is put little baby Fawkes back on his perch, since swallowing the spell made him revert back to baby-phoenix status. He then reassures Harry that his friends will all recover from the evening’s events. No one died! Yay! They are all currently in the hospital wing. Tonks, who had gotten hurt pretty badly as well, will also be okay after a quick stay in St. Mungo’s.
This is all good news for sure. Dumbledore then tries to say that he knows how Harry is feeling, but Harry quickly says that no, he doesn’t. Dumbledore tries a different tactic, saying that it is perfectly normal to be feeling this pain right now, after all that has happened. Harry doesn’t want to hear this.
“I don’t want to talk about how I feel, all right?”
“Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man! This pain is part of being human –”
“THEN — I — DON’T — WANT — TO — BE — HUMAN!” Harry roared, and he seized one of the delicate silver instruments from the spindle-legged table beside him and flung it across the room. It shattered into a hundred tiny pieces against the wall. Several of the pictures let out yells of anger and fright, and the portrait of Armando Dippet said, “Really!”
“I DON’T CARE!” Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH, I’VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON’T CARE ANYMORE –“
These are not the actions of someone who doesn’t care anymore. These are the actions of someone who cares too much, who is overflowing with emotion and doesn’t even know what to do with it all. I want to hug him so badly!!
Dumbledore remains calm throughout this entire exchange. Harry runs to the door, which was still locked, and demands to be let out of the office. Dumbledore says no. Harry threatens to keep destroying things, but Dumbledore basically shrugs and says that he has too many things anyway. All he wants is to tell Harry his side of the story. Harry doesn’t want to hear it, but Dumbledore explicitly says that even though Harry is angry at him, he isn’t nearly as angry as he should be. Dumbledore is taking responsibility for Sirius’s death.
“Or I should say almost entirely my fault — I will not be so arrogant as to claim responsibility for the whole. Sirius was a brave, clever, and energetic man, and such men are not usually content to sit at home in hiding while they believe others to be in danger. Nevertheless, you should never have believed for an instant that there was any necessity for you to go to the Department of Mysteries tonight. If I had been open with you, Harry, as I should have been, you would have known a long time ago that Voldemort might try and lure you to the Department of Mysteries, and you would never have been tricked into going there tonight. And Sirius would not have had to come after you. That blame lies with me, and with me alone.”
And there it is. Dumbledore admits that he has not told Harry things that he should have been told. He was keeping secrets. Not because of any nefarious reason, but because he cared about Harry. He was trying to protect him. Dumbledore knew from the time Harry was a baby that the scar Voldemort had given him was a connection between the two of them. Even though he doesn’t say it now, basically Dumbledore is realizing more and more that Harry is a horcrux. We won’t find out those details until the next books, but basically, that’s what this is.
Dumbledore knew about this connection, but was more worried that Voldemort would realize it as well. This is why Dumbledore wanted Harry to learn Occlumency. What it doesn’t explain is why Dumbledore himself didn’t teach Harry, or why Dumbledore had been avoiding Harry this entire year. That was because Dumbledore was worried that Voldemort would use Harry to spy on him, which would lead to Voldemort trying to possess Harry, which we now know is horribly painful. Dumbledore thought that distancing himself would make this problem go away.
During the Occlumency lessons, Snape found out that Harry had been dreaming about the Department of Mysteries, but even then, Dumbledore didn’t tell Harry the importance of the place. The only people who can pick up a prophesy orb are the ones who the prophesy was about. So of course Voldemort would try to get Harry down there. Harry feels a surge of guilt again, since he hadn’t really given Occlumency a shot. He never practiced, he didn’t really try.
This brings up another issue: Kreacher. When Harry had checked to see if Sirius was still at Grimmauld Place, Kreacher had told him that Sirius was gone.
“Kreacher lied,” said Dumbledore calmly. “You are not his master, he could lie to you without even needing to punish himself. Kreacher intended you to go to the Ministry of Magic.”
“He — he sent me on purpose?”
“Oh yes. Kreacher, I’m afraid, has been serving more than one master for months.”
“How?” said Harry blankly. “He hasn’t been out of Grimmauld Place for years.”
“Kreacher seized his opportunity shortly before Christmas,” said Dumbledore, “when Sirius, apparently, shouted at him to ‘get out.’ He took Sirius at his word and interpreted this as an order to leave the house. He went to the only Black family member for whom he had any respect left . . . Black’s cousin Narcissa, sister of Bellatrix and wife of Lucius Malfoy.”
Just one more reason to hate the Malfoys. Add it to the list.
So what happened? Harry gave his warning to Snape after he had been caught by Umbridge and Snape contacted Sirius immediately, since the Order members had a way of talking to each other. Sirius was at Grimmauld Place, right where he should be. When Harry didn’t come back from the forest, Snape alerted the Order and sent Moody, Tonks, Kingsley and Lupin to the Ministry, asking that Sirius stay at Headquarters, which he didn’t do. Dumbledore headed to Grimmauld Place to check on things, found Sirius gone, and Kreacher laughing hysterically.
Yes, Kreacher was thrilled that he had successfully tricked everyone. He hadn’t been able to completely betray the Order, due to the restrictions to house-elf enchantments, but he had still been able to give Narcissa information that would be very helpful to Voldemort that no one else would have given a second thought to. Namely, that Sirius cared about Harry more than anyone else. That Harry loved Sirius like a combination of an older brother and a surrogate father. This led Voldemort to know exactly what he needed to lure Harry into the Ministry and right into his hands.
Oh, and in case you wanted to hate Kreacher a little bit more — to make sure Sirius would be out of the way if Harry tried to contact him before leaving Hogwarts, Kreacher injured Buckbeak so that Sirius would be busy in the attic taking care of him. Yeah. Harry is rightly upset about what Kreacher had done, especially since Hermione had tried to make everyone be nice to him. Dumbledore points out that Sirius had never treated Kreacher well and Dumbledore had warned that this could make Kreacher a threat.
Harry does not want to hear that anything is Sirius’s fault, especially in regards to Kreacher. He turns his anger instead to Snape. Snape hadn’t taken Harry’s warning in Umbridge’s office seriously. He had sneered at Sirius’s inability to leave the house. He had thrown Harry out of his office and refused to teach him. Harry also brings up the fact that his scar always hurt worse after his Occlumency lessons, so how did he know that Snape wasn’t secretly trying to help Voldemort get inside his mind?
Nope. Dumbledore trusts Snape. He realizes his mistake in thinking that Snape could overcome his hatred of James Potter in order to try and teach James’s son. This leads to Harry making a comparison between James and Snape, and Sirius and Kreacher. Why should Snape get a pass and Sirius get reprimanded for the same feelings? Kreacher was a living reminder that Sirius was trapped in the house that he had grown up in, the house that he hated. Harry comes around on Dumbledore again, berating him for keeping Sirius cooped up.
“I was trying to keep Sirius alive,” said Dumbledore quietly.
“People don’t like being locked up!” Harry said furiously, rounding on him. “You did it to me all last summer –“
To be fair, at least Harry had been able to go outside and wander around Little Whinging a bit. Sirius couldn’t leave his house at all. Besides, now Dumbledore, instead of being an all-powerfull wizard, just looks like a tired old man. It makes Harry angry. Dumbledore shouldn’t show weakness! Then, we get this:
“It is time,” he said, “for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything. I ask only a little patience. You will have your chance to rage at me — to do whatever you like — when I have finished. I will not stop you.”
I remember that this was a teaser that was released before this book came out and everyone lost their minds. Finally! We were going to know everything!!
Here’s Dumbledore’s story. He knew when he left Harry with the Dursleys all those years ago that it wouldn’t be easy for him. He knew what kind of people they were. Why the Dursleys? They weren’t the only option – there were lots of wizard families who would have taken Harry in – but there were also a lot of angry, desperate Death Eaters out there who had just lost their leader. Dumbledore’s priority was keeping Harry safe and for that, he trusted in Lily Potter’s sacrifice.
Voldemort doesn’t know love. He doesn’t understand it. Therefore he wouldn’t understand the ancient magic of Lily’s sacrifice and the protection it gave Harry while he lived with her last remaining blood relative. Her sister. This was all explained to Petunia, which is why she allowed Harry to stay last summer. The howler they received when Vernon was about to throw Harry out was from Dumbledore, reminding Petunia of her promise.
Then Harry arrived at Hogwarts and, for the first time, faced down Voldemort, even though he was in a weaker state. Harry survived and defeated the Dark Lord, but even when he asked Dumbledore why Voldemort had targeted him as a baby, Dumbledore didn’t tell him. He thought Harry was too young to handle the truth and wanted him to enjoy his innocence a bit longer. Even after Harry’s second year facing the basilisk, Dumbledore didn’t tell him. He had a plan. He wanted Harry to be happy.
“Is there a defense? I defy anyone who has watched you as I have — and I have watched you more closely than you can have imagined — not to want to save you more pain than you had already suffered. What did I care if numbers of nameless and faceless people and creatures were slaughtered in the vague future, if in the here and now you were alive, and well, and happy? I never dreamed that I would have such a person on my hands.”
As the years went on, Dumbledore realized his error and that in not telling Harry at the start, it made it harder to tell him at all. The reason Voldemort tried to kill him as a baby was because of a prophecy that was made right before Harry was born. Voldemort never heard all of it, so he acted on what he did know in order to try and eliminate Harry as a threat. Obviously it didn’t work out the way he thought it would. Because of that, Voldemort has been obsessed with finding out the full wording of the prophesy, which is why he developed his plan to enter the Department of Mysteries.
But the prophesy was destroyed. They would never know the full wording, would they? Yes, they would, because Dumbledore was the one who heard it, sixteen years ago during a job interview for a new Divination teacher at Hogwarts. I think you can all see where this is going — it was delivered by Trelawney. And because Dumbledore was the one who heard it, he just happens to have the memory of it stored in his Pensieve.
“THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES . . . BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE THRICE DEFIED HIM, BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES . . . AND THE DARK LORD WILL MARK HIM AS HIS EQUAL, BUT HE WILL HAVE POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT . . . AND EITHER MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER FOR NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES . . . THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES . . .”
Yeah, I can see how Dumbledore thought that might be heavy news for an eleven year old. But here’s the thing though — it may not have referred to Harry at all. There were two boys who met the requirements of the prophesy. One was Harry. The other was Neville Longbottom. But then Voldemort chose to go after Harry and it became clear that Harry was the one the prophesy was made for. He was marked as Voldemort’s equal, marked by Voldemort himself. Harry, the half-blood, not Neville, the pureblooded wizard who the Death Eaters would have considered more powerful.
Harry asks why Voldemort did it, why instead didn’t he wait until Harry and Neville grew up to see which one was more threatening. It may have been a good idea, but then again, Voldemort never heard the entire prophesy. Harry panics a bit — he doesn’t have powers that “the Dark Lord knows not.” He’s just a kid! Dumbledore tells Harry about a room in the Department of Mysteries that is always locked because it contains a power that is “more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature.” This power is something that Harry is full of, that Voldemort can’t abide in the slightest. It’s love.
That last bit of the prophesy, “neither can live while the other survives . . .”
“So,” said Harry, dredging up the words from what felt like a deep well of despair inside him, “so does that mean that . . . that one of us has got to kill the other one . . . in the end?”
“Yes,” said Dumbledore.
It’s a tough thing to learn, but really not that surprising. Voldemort is coming for Harry, has been for nearly all his life. In order for Harry to stop him, Harry must kill him. He’s the only one who can.
The chapter ends with Dumbledore apologizing to Harry for not making him a school prefect. He thought Harry probably had enough to deal with without the added prefect responsibilities.
One more chapter to go! See you next time for Chapter 38!