The Cloak and the Sword
by Eric Ianson
It’s funny how you can start with one idea and other things become clear. I originally set out to write an essay about something entirely different than the subject of this editorial. However, as I was rereading the books (I read them out of order, which was an interesting way to analyze them), I found that three of the most popular theories out there tie directly into one another and may answer a key mystery. The three theories I am referring to are Harry is a Horcrux, Harry is the Heir of Gryffindor, and The Missing Day. Now you are probably thinking, Oh man, not those again, but hear me out, okay?
While looking at all of this info in my rereads, I think I have found a plausible answer to the Never Asked Question, which JKR said was this:
Why did Dumbledore have James’ invisibility cloak at the time of James’ death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?
Something from Gryffindor
Let me start with one of my core beliefs about the books: Nagini is definitely NOT a Horcrux. The notion of Nagini as a Horcrux never seemed right to me. It just felt like a red herring from the first time I read it. Harry, on the other hand, fell hook-line-and-sinker for this sham. If Harry believes that Nagini is a Horcrux, he would proceed to destroy all of the other Horcruxes first. This would delay the encounter with Nagini, as he would need to get close to Voldemort in order to get to Nagini. When he finally gets there, he will realize (as was Dumbledores intention all along) that he is indeed the Horcrux, thus setting up his moment of truth.
What happens at that moment of truth is the subject of a different editorial (which I may write after this one), but central to this editorial is the possibility of Harry as a Horcrux. I am not going to talk about the arguments for or against, as these have been discussed ad infinitum, but rather propose an interesting notion of how and why it could have happened. Voldemort went to Godrics Hollow for two reasons:
To kill his prophesized threat.
To make his final Horcrux.
This seems clear. However, what was he going to make into a Horcrux? It doesnt make sense to think he ever intended to make Harry a Horcrux. Voldemort already had the ring, the diary, the locket, the cup, and my guess is something of Ravenclaw’s. Voldemort is a perfectionist. He wouldn’t settle. He wanted…no, needed…something of Gryffindor’s. From HBP (Chapter 23, pg. 506, American hardback):
“However, if my calculations are correct, Voldemort was at least one Horcrux short of his goal of six when he entered your parents house with the intention of killing you.
“He seems to have reserved the process of making Horcruxes for particularly significant deaths. You certainly would have been that. He believed that, in killing you, he was destroying the danger the prophecy had outlined. He believed he was making himself invincible. I am sure that he was intending to make his final Horcrux with your death.”
There had to be something either at Godric’s Hollow or that Voldemort brought with him to make into a Horcrux.
This brings me to the Heir of Gryffindor piece of the puzzle. I am not going to go into all of the arguments for this, but the symmetry of the Heir of Slytherin versus the Heir of Gryffindor is just too perfect. JKR chooses her words carefully and “Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat” (COS, Chapter 18, pg. 334) is just too strong of a clue to be dismissed. (As for the Memerson interview with JKR that many will point to, she does not really shoot down the Heir of Gryffindor theory. She is backed into a corner and hesitantly agrees. My take on it anyway.) Assuming that Harry is the Heir of Gryffindor, then James (I’m ruling out Lily, because of her family background) was Gryffindor’s heir as well. Doesn’t it seem likely, that just as Marvolo had the locket and ring, Gryffindor’s descendents would also have something of his? Now according to Dumbledore there is only one known relic of Gryffindor…the sword (HBP, Chapter 23, pg. 505). I would like to suggest that the sword was in James possession that fateful night at Godric’s Hollow.
Now, the immediate reaction might be that this is crazy, because the sword is in Dumbledore’s office. Wait a minute. Do we know that the sword was always there? We have only seen the Headmaster’s office prior to Oct. 31, 1981, twice in the books. First, when Tom Riddle visits Professor Dippet (COS, Chapter 13, pg. 243) and second when Lord Voldemort returns to see Professor Dumbledore to ask for a job (HBP, Chapter 20, pg. 441). On neither occasion is there a mention of the sword. A simple insignificant detail, that was not worthy of mention? Perhaps. Or maybe it wasn’t there. Doesn’t it seem likely that at least during his visit to Dumbledore that Voldemort would have been unable to avoid looking at the sword? Remember how he was transfixed by Hufflepuff’s cup (HBP, Chapter 20, pg. 436). I believe it wasn’t mentioned because it was with a member the Potter family.
Where the Cloak Fits In
Your next question is probably, Interesting theory, but how did it end up in Dumbledores hands? Simple…on the night at Godric’s Hollow, the sword was hidden under James invisibility cloak. I believe that James covered the sword under the cloak to hide it from Voldemort AND to leave it for Dumbledore to find. Remember, if you will, that Dumbledore has the ability to see through the cloak (COS, Chapter 14, pg. 263):
”However,” said Dumbledore, speaking very slowly and clearly so that none of them could miss a word, ”you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”
For a second, Harry was almost sure Dumbledore’s eyes flickered toward the corner where he and Ron stood hidden.
This leads me now to the The Missing Day. There are many theories tied to what happened between Halloween night and the evening Harry was brought to the Dursleys. Remember that Dumbledores whereabouts are unaccounted for up until just prior to Hagrids arrival with Harry at Privet Drive. Clearly Dumbledore was busy doing something during this mysterious 24-hour period. Given what I have stated above, I believe Dumbledore went to retrieve the sword from Godric’s Hollow and secure it on The Missing Day.
Where Dumbledore kept the sword remains a mystery. It may have been in his office, but Harry’s first visit there (COS, Chapter 12, pg. 205) suggests that it was not there. In fact, we dont get actual confirmation that the sword is in the Headmaster’s office until GOF, Chapter 30, pg. 582:
The patched and ragged Sorting Hat was on a shelf. A glass case next to it held a magnificent silver sword with large rubies set into the hilt, which Harry recognized as the one he himself had pulled out of the Sorting Hat in his second year.
There is no proof that the sword was in Dumbledore’s possession prior to Harry pulling it out of the Sorting Hat. However, in order for Harry to pull it out of the hat, the sword must have either been in Harry’s possession or Dumbledore’s possession…otherwise Harry would be taking it away from its current owner.
So, Voldemort went to Godric’s Hollow to kill Harry and use his death to make Gryffindor’s Sword into a Horcrux. Since we do not know the mechanisms required to make a Horcrux, it is possible that the spell to create the Horcrux was already started before arriving at Godric’s Hollow and was associated only with the Killing Curse placed on Harry. As such, when the curse was made, a Horcrux was created regardless of whether it worked or not (perhaps Voldemort being ripped from his body was sufficient for the Horcrux to think a death took place). This paragraph is highly speculative. The only point I want to underscore is that on that night, Harry became the final Horcrux, despite the fact that Voldemort’s intended Horcrux target was Gryffindor’s sword.
So my theory is that James used the cloak to hide the sword for Dumbledore to find. It is entirely possible that there I am wrong about the sword, but I am sure that the cloak was used to hide something (or perhaps someone) from Voldemort, but allow Dumbledore to find it.
I hope that my theory is something new (although it leverages significantly off of other top hypotheses). I don’t read the forums much and have never seen an essay on this, so please forgive me if someone else came up with this first. To me, it all just clicked within a day. The cloak and the sword. It fits and is consistent with some of the most ingenious theories out there. Hopefully we will all know the answers some time soon.