There are some questions about the whole HP series that I’ve been wondering about and the identity of the Half-Blood Prince is not one of them. Nor is the correspondence between Dumbledore and Petunia. Here, I am exhibiting an immense lack of curiosity and a quite amazing amount of patience, simply waiting to be surprised. However, there are certain things that just won’t go away. Some of these ideas are similar to those you can find in several editorials on this site. And here they are, in a not so random order:
When young people enter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they are guaranteed an excellent education that is going to prove highly useful upon leaving school. Every class has its values and purposes in the magical world, and all are very different from those in Muggle schools; all except Astronomy – the only class that has nothing magical in it. It’s an obligatory class, and kids at Hogwarts study it pretty thoroughly. We know next to nothing about Professor Sinistra. We know that Harry learned the names of Jupiter satellites in his first year, and we know that he found out in his fifth year that Europa is covered with (m)ice. Now, that is some extensive curriculum. But why? I was trying to find reasons for their studying Astronomy so profoundly, and here is what I came up with:
- they study it in depth so they can chat with Centaurs, who won’t tell them anything in the first place;
- they study it so they can be really good at Divination;
- they study it so maybe one out of thousand Hogwarts students can go and work in that planet room in the Department of Mysteries
Yeah, I know – silly. I don’t think that Jo will throw some wizarding chaos theory at us, norr that she’ll “pull Gandalf” and say that Dumbledore sailed from some far away Neptune shore to save the day. But I have no idea what all the Astronomy is for, and I can’t shake off the feeling that there’s more to it than just filling up Harry’s timetable. (help!)
Funny things, mirrors. You look at your own reflection, and there’s a pimple the size of a watermelon on your forehead. You turn away, and no one else can see it. Really. Then, at other times, you have the cutest haircut – one you’re extremely pleased about. You go out and someone asks if it’s Halloween yet. They lie, mirrors – or rather, they distort things.
There’s been a mirror in every Harry Potter book so far. In PS/SS it was Mirror of Erised. There was the mirror with Molly Weasley’s spirit in the Burrow in CoS, and in the same book, Hermione used a mirror to check for the basilisk. PoA showed us that chatty mirror in Harry’s room in The Leaky Cauldron. Moody introduced us to Foe-Glass in GoF. After OotP, Harry is left with the mirror Sirius gave him, and Jo has said it’s going to be used in the future. So, more mirroring is coming, and you know Jo – nothing is without purpose.
We know a few things for certain about him. He was in Hogwarts some fifty years before Harry. After school, he disappeared for approximately thirty years, and he resurfaced unrecognizable. He once said that some of his experiments to achieve immortality must have worked because his own rebounded curse didn’t kill him. Those experiments might have contained some of the things Snape mentions in his first class in PS/SS (bezoar, monkshood, asphodel), but let’s not forget that Tom’s favorite animals are snakes, and that, during his time in Hogwarts, his pet was a basilisk. We know that Voldemort used Nagini, a very big and venomous snake, to restore his health. We know that he returned to his own body, the same one his spirit had left after the crash in Godric’s Hollow. We are constantly reminded that he has a snake-like face. So I think we can safely assume that by milking the “king of serpents” Voldemort would gain an even more powerful weapon. Clever as he is, I don’t think he would have left Hogwarts without taking some basilisk venom with him, just in case.
Then came the moment when he tried to kill Harry, having learned that this boy might represent his defeat. In OotP, Dumbledore said that Voldemort saw himself in Harry. So, Voldemort went to Godric’s Hollow to see and destroy Harry; or in other words, his own reflection. But, his curse rebounded. Distorted by Lily’s love, by Voldemort’s protection from mortality and, very likely, by Harry’s fine character, it didn’t kill him. And it can never kill him, because he had made sure to protect himself from his own weapon.
Headmaster of Hogwarts. Chief Warlock of Wizengamot. Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards. Dumbledore is the one that defeated Grindelwald, the one that discovered the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, the one that worked on alchemy, the one that formed the Order of the Phoenix… very busy, isn’t he? Hmm… We don’t really see him that much. Sure, he steals every scene he’s in, but there aren’t many of those when you look at it. He’s not teaching – McGonagall does all the school administration. Wizengamot and the International Confederation of Wizards can’t occupy that much time, as such organizations tend to rule themselves after some time. As for the Order, Albus has a web of fellow warriors and spies, so he doesn’t need to spend whole days, weekends and holidays working for it. He might be working on some new research, or he might just be listening to some music. Nothing explains the fact that he knows absolutely everything in advance. Sure, he’s a great Legilimens, and he is old and very, very, very wise. But it still seems odd that dear old Albus is never surprised. He does show his feelings – anger, pain, fury – but no astonishment. This just seems to me like too much cool and presence of mind.
We know that he doesn’t need the Invisibility Cloak to make himself invisible. He has that wonderful watch with twelve hands and the planets. Maybe our beloved Headmaster also has a little Time-Turner of his own. That would explain many of his amazing last-minute appearances, and it can even explain that watch: he needs it to keep track of himself shifting through the past, present and future. There was a strange moment at the end of the OotP: the battle in the Ministry over, Death Eaters captured, Voldemort gone with Bellatrix, Fudge mumbling stupidly, and at that precise moment, Dumbledore needed to look at his watch in order to estimate that he could give Fudge thirty minutes of his time. As if he couldn’t do that without glancing at the watch. I think what he really needed to see was how much time he had to return from some time travel, before he can devote himself completely to Harry.
So, if Albus knows exactly what is going to happen, and if he has always known, more or less, how Harry’s life would develop (I do not assume that Albus visited all of the past and future, just enough to form the complete picture), then why doesn’t he help the poor kid by changing something in his past or future? Because he can’t. Not just because Dumbledore doesn’t want to tamper with time law; he is known to be somewhat of a rule-bender. It’s because his changing the course of events would not mean that Harry would be saved and Voldemort defeated.
Dumbledore is the greatest wizard of all time. If he could, he would destroy Voldemort in no time. Dumbledore has more magical power than any one around, but he knows that it is not up to him – that Harry is the only “one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord.” That’s what grieves him so much. Dumbledore knows exactly what Harry will need to do, and just how hard it’s going to be.
Recently, I found out about a theory stating that Harry and Voldemort share the Dark Lord’s soul, and that Harry has to die in order to destroy Voldemort. Let’s say that’s true, and, as the story unfolds, Harry learns that he must be killed so that there would be no more Voldemort. We’re talking here about the boy who’s been ready to die ever since we first met him. He was ready to die for the Stone, for Ginny, for Sirius; he stood up proudly facing death at that cemetery, and he actually wanted death in OotP. Harry would probably need about one second before deciding to kill himself if that kind of sacrifice would save the world.
Also, if Harry had the tiniest bit of Voldemort’s soul in him, he wouldn’t have bothered with neither the Stone nor Ginny. He would be able to kill Sirius while he still thought Sirius had betrayed his parents, and he would let Lupin and Sirius kill Wormtail when he found out that Peter was the traitor. Harry with one shred of Voldemort’s soul in him would definitely let the Dementor kiss Dudley and he would certainly be able toCrucio Bellatrix right after she killed Sirius.
Obviously, I don’t believe in the changeling hypothesis. At the end of OotP, Harry couldn’t share with his friends the knowledge that he “must be either murderer or victim”. It’s not the “victim” part that worries Harry, but committing murder is what’s tormenting him. He can’t kill, and he is not about to learn how to do it. There are three things absolutely forbidden in the world of Jo Rowling: no one has the right to control other human beings (Imperius), there is no excuse for intentionally inflicting pain (Cruciatus), and you never, ever kill (Avada Kedavra). I honestly can’t see Jo letting Dumbledore, Lupin or Moody say something like: “Right, Harry, let’s start with trying to waste something small, this mouse for instance, and then we’ll work our way up.”
Someone you love dearly dies of natural causes, in an accident, or was murdered, and the pain you feel is such that you blame everyone from doctors to killers to higher power. You’re angry with those who died because they left you, and you hate and blame yourself for not being able to do anything. Then, somehow – by magic probably – you remember about life, that it is worth living, and that all the grief and hatred are just blocking you from recalling the love, happiness and fun that you have shared with people who died, and stopping you from experiencing love and life in future.
That’s what Harry must learn in the next two books. He will find out that all the accumulated hatred and pain will never let him live properly. To paraphrase Dumbledore, whereas Voldemort wants life, Harry needs to love it. Not that Harry will suddenly realize that he likes Voldemort, or that they will become best friends, and there certainly won’t be any of that ‘well-Voldy-had-a-difficult-childhood-and-it’s-not-really-his-fault’ nonsense. But, after losing his parents, Sirius and I don’t want to guess whom else, Harry will somehow learn not to hate. And, rather than Dumbledore, I think his mentor this time will be Mrs. Diggory. Remember her? She is the mother who, just after losing her son, managed to find one consoling thought: her son died happy, after winning the Triwizard Tournament. If that sort of strength is not magic, I don’t know what is.
In their final combat, Harry will let Voldemort know that he doesn’t hate him. It’s the kind of magic that does not require wands, as their wands won’t work against each other anyway. Voldemort, being such a good Legilimens himself, will know Harry is telling the truth. Look at it from Voldemort’s point of view: here’s this boy he considers his archenemy. Voldemort has robbed him of so many precious people already and he wants to take Harry’s life more then anything. And, instead of longing to kill Voldemort in return, that kid doesn’t even hate him. It’s enough to make Voldemort’s blood boil. Actually, it’s Harry’s blood that’s going to boil, and, well, vanquish Voldy to oblivion. There’s the “gleam of triumph” which escaped Dumbledore in GoF, followed instantly by an awful weariness, because such powerful magic might prove to be too much for Harry, and he might die in the process. However, in that case, he would not die bitter, but with a “well organized mind”.
Why didn’t Voldemort want to kill Lily at sight? No nobility, that’s for sure. From what Harry remembers when Dementors approach him, it seems that Lily wasn’t holding her wand – she was too busy shielding her baby boy. And Voldemort, duelling fan, didn’t want to miss the opportunity to play around with yet another victim. Also, killing a helpless child in front of an equally helpless mother seems like the Dark Lord’s idea of fun.
Mystery of Snape. I don’t believe he’s a double agent, but I do believe he’s an Animagus. If he found out that Lupin was a werewolf, he must have found out that the other three Marauders were Animagi. Would he let them be better than himself? No way. He became Animagus – the bat. Look how many times he’s been compared to that very animal. Although Ron has many wild theories, I think he’s right on this one (GoF). Turning to a bat would provide Snape with a perfect cover for spying upon Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Also, it would be so much like Snape to become a bat every so often – ugly, scary, dark-loving, blood-sucking (metaphorically speaking) creature.
What horrible thing did Dudley remember… when the Dementor nearly kissed him? I can’t believe that the pigtail Hagrid had given him was enough to make him faint and vomit (although I do think he’s a great coward). But he is attending Smeltings, and the thought of what might be happening in the school where children are encouraged to use sticks scares me more than Dementors, Voldemort and Umbridge combined.