In Chapter 38, Harry needs to figure out what to do with all this new information. Let’s go!
Minister Fudge is definitely eating some humble pie! A statement from the Ministry appears in the paper, not only confirming that Voldemort has returned, but also that the dementors of Azkaban have revolted and left the Ministry. Because what Voldemort needed was more reasons to be scary. After spending months denying rumors about Voldy’s return and maligning those (like Dumbledore and Harry) who were speaking truth to power, the wizard public are not taking it well. Who can blame them?
Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna are all hanging out in the hospital wing. Ginny, Luna and Neville are just visiting, having their injuries mended quickly by Madam Pomfrey. Ron has also recovered, although he still has deep welts on his arms from the attack of the brains. Hermione is still a patient, but is on the mend.
She winced slightly and put a hand to her ribs. The curse Dolohov had used on her, though less effective than it would have been had he been able to say the incantation aloud, had nevertheless caused, in Madam Pomfrey’s words, “quite enough damage to be going on with.” Hermione was having to take ten different types of potion every day and although she was improving greatly, was already bored with the hospital wing.
Thank goodness Dolohov was silenced. Hermione probably would have died otherwise!
They find it ironic that suddenly the Daily Prophet is back to calling Harry “the Boy Who Lived” and speaking highly of Dumbledore, who was of course reinstated as headmaster. Hermione asks what else is going on at school, since she is stuck in bed. Flitwick was able to clean up Fred and George’s swamp. It only took the charms professor mere seconds to do it, although he left a tiny patch of it roped off, just because he thinks it’s a pretty impressive bit of magic. A tiny bit of whimsy to remember Fred and George, who are now at their shop and doing pretty well.
The only one who isn’t too happy about things is Filch. He thought Umbridge was the best thing to happen to Hogwarts in ages. He was finally going to be able to whip students! Speaking of Umbridge, she is also in the hospital wing but doesn’t speak much. Dumbledore walked into the Forbidden Forest and came out with Umbridge. The centaurs must have more respect for him, although they will still not let Firenze back. Firenze will stay at Hogwarts, co-teaching Divination with Professor Trelawney, who has been reinstated.
Ron thinks that Trelawney should be sacked, but Hermione has had a slight change of heart since they know that real prophesies exist. Harry doesn’t want to talk about the prophesy, especially since he hasn’t told them that he knows exactly what that prophesy said. Instead he leaves to go visit Hagrid, who is also back. On his way down, he runs into Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy is not particularly happy about the fact that, oh yeah, his father was arrested.
“You’re going to pay,” said Malfoy in a voice barely louder than a whisper. “I’m going to make you pay for what you’ve done to my father.”
“Well, I’m terrified now,” said Harry sarcastically. “I s’pose Lord Voldemort’s just a warm-up act compared to you three — what’s the matter?” he said, for Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle had all looked stricken at the sound of the name. “He’s your dad’s mate, isn’t he? Not scared of him, are you?”
“You think you’re such a big man, Potter,” said Malfoy, advancing now, Crabbe and Goyle flanking him. “You wait. I’ll have you. You can’t land my father in prison –”
“I thought I just had,” said Harry.
Harry may be broken inside, but he hasn’t lost his sass!
Malfoy is sure that his father and the other Death Eaters will be out of Azkaban soon enough, with no dementors to stop them. Harry knows this, but says that at least everyone now knows “what scumbags they are.” Malfoy goes for his wand, but Harry is faster. They are interrupted by Snape, who of course blames Harry and is about to take points away from Gryffindor, except there are no points left. Well, then, we should add some more . . . according to Professor McGonagall!
Yes!!! Minerva is back, baby!! She is walking with a cane, but she’s still a badass! She awards Harry and his fellow Gryffindors fifty points each for alerting the world to Voldemort’s return, as well as fifty points to Ravenclaw for Luna’s involvement. This leaves Gryffindor with a decent amount of points, even with Snape taking away ten for their little dust up in the hallway.
Harry runs outside before anything else can happen and heads to Hagrid’s. The visit with Hagrid is awkward at best, mostly because Hagrid doesn’t really know what to say about Sirius and Harry really isn’t ready to talk about it. At least everyone now knows that Harry was telling the truth. That’s something anyway. But Harry can’t talk to anyone about this, not really. Soon, he tells Hagrid that he needs to visit Ron and Hermione in the hospital wing (despite just coming from there) and takes a walk by himself.
Perhaps the reason he wanted to be alone was because he had felt isolated from everybody since his talk with Dumbledore. An invisible barrier separated him from the rest of the world. He was — he had always been — a marked man. It was just that he had never really understood what that meant . . .
And yet sitting here on the edge of the lake, with the terrible weight of grief dragging at him, with the loss of Sirius so raw and fresh inside, he could not muster any great sense of fear. It was sunny and the grounds around him were full of laughing people, and even though he felt as distant from them as though he belonged to a different race, it was still very hard to believe as he sat here that his life must include, or end in, murder . . .
So many emotions, and yet still feeling so numb. So much has happened, it’s almost impossible to process. Again, this is a fifteen year old boy. Harry has been referred to as “a man” several times now, but really, he’s still a child. Still a kid.
The term at Hogwarts ends and Harry gets ready to return to Privet Drive. It’s not any easier even though he understands why he has to be there. Umbridge also leave Hogwarts, chased out by Peeves, to the laughter of all. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. The one thing Harry doesn’t want to do is attend the end-of-term feast. He doesn’t want to hear Dumbledore talk about what happened or deal with the stares. Instead he stays in the dorm to pack. At the bottom of his trunk he finds a package. It was given to him by Sirius at the beginning of the year, right before he left for school. Inside is a mirror with a small note from Sirius explaining that this is a two-way mirror. Sirius has the other one and it can be used to talk between the two.
This is so heartbreaking. Harry at first thinks that maybe it will still work. He tries to summon Sirius in the mirror, but nothing happens. Also, Sirius didn’t have the mirror with him at the Ministry, so it wouldn’t have worked anyway. Sirius is dead. He isn’t a ghost . . . or wait . . . is he?
Harry runs downstairs looking for one of the Hogwarts ghosts. There are dozens of them — why can’t he find one? He finally runs into Nearly-Headless Nick, who at first doesn’t want to talk to Harry about this, but also has been sort of expecting it. I’ll bet Nick has had this same conversation with other students who have lost a loved one. It’s still not easy though.
Nick tells him that only wizards come back as ghosts, but that Sirius will not come back. Very few wizards choose to come back at all. Harry gets angry and starts demanding answers. Why doesn’t everyone come back as a ghost? What happens when you die?
“I cannot answer,” said Nick.
“You’re dead, aren’t you?” said Harry exasperatedly. “Who can answer better than you?”
“I was afraid of death,” said Nick. “I chose to remain behind. I sometimes wonder whether I oughtn’t to have . . . Well, that is neither here nor there . . . In fact, I am neither here nor there . . .” He gave a small sad chuckle. “I know nothing of the secrets of death, Harry, for I chose my feeble imitation of life instead. I believe learned wizards study the matter in the Department of Mysteries –“
The last thing Harry wants to talk about is the Department of Mysteries. Nick hurries off, leaving Harry feeling devastated. He had a brief hope of seeing Sirius again, but that hope was dashed.
Harry wants to hide out, but instead runs into Luna who is hanging up notices about some missing items. Turns out there are some people who take her stuff and hide it just to mess with her. Just because she’s different. Harry offers to help her track stuff down, but she says he doesn’t have to. The stuff always turns up eventually. She mentions Sirius, and for some reason, Harry feels more comfortable talking about him with her. After all, she can see thestrals too, after the death of her mother.
She also knows that the dead never truly leave and that she will see her mother again. The voices, the ones from behind the veil . . . they are there. Always watching. Always with us. Excuse me while I go cry for a bit.
The next day is the trip home on the Hogwarts Express. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle decide to try and cause trouble, but then the rest of the D.A. turns up and . . . let’s just say it goes bad for the Slytherins. Real bad. Harry also sees Cho, but feels nothing. After everything that has happened, it doesn’t matter to him that Cho is dating someone else, although Ron takes great offense that Cho is dating Ginny’s ex-boyfriend. She also takes that moment to mention that she is now dating Dean Thomas. You go, Ginny!
The train pulls into Kings Cross and there are lots of people to greet Harry: the Weasleys, of course, but also Mad-Eye, Tonks and Lupin. They all decide to have a little chat with the Dursleys about how Harry is treated. Basically, if they hear that Harry is being mistreated in any way, they will have to answer to the Order.
Uncle Vernon swelled ominously. His sense of outrage seemed to outweigh even his fear of this bunch of oddballs.
“Are you threatening me, sir?” he said, so loudly that passersby actually turned to stare.
“Yes, I am,” said Mad-Eye, who seemed rather pleased that Uncle Vernon had grasped this fact so quickly.
“And do I look like the kind of man who can be intimidated?” barked Uncle Vernon.
“Well . . .” said Moody, pushing back his bowler hat to reveal his sinisterly revolving magical eye. Uncle Vernon leapt backward in horror and collided painfully with a luggage trolley. “Yes, I’d have to say you do, Dursley.”
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Moody is a good person to have on your side!!! He also tells Harry to let them know if he needs them, but if they don’t hear from him for three days in a row, they will send someone to check on him. No way the Dursleys can cut Harry off from the wizarding world this time!
They all say goodbye to Harry, Mrs. Weasley hugging him again and promising to get him out of the Dursleys’ as soon as they can, and . . . that’s it. Harry leaves the station a very different person from the one who left at the beginning of the school year. Now he truly understands just how high the stakes are, and what he needs to do to finish things once and for all.
And that’s it! The end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Thank you everyone for joining in on this read through. I will start Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince shortly — I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to take a few days off or if I’m going to just keep going. In any case, we will join back up with Harry and his friends soon!