The North Tower #8: Q&A Session, NT 1-7

by Maline

Hi everybody! I’ll round off my series on prophecies today with a question/answer session on the matter. These past seven weeks, I’ve received a whole bunch of questions about my articles, and I thought I’d try to answer most of them here today. Okay, let’s go!

About the Power…

1) Do you believe that the “power to vanquish the Dark Lord” and the “power the Dark Lord knows not” are referring to the same power?

Yes, I do, mainly because it’s going to take a lot of space in the books to fully explain and see the effects of this mystical power and JKR only has two books left. (Plus, I think that the power is Love, and that fits nicely with both descriptions.)

2) Do you believe that Harry possesses larger quantities of “the power the Dark Lord knows not” than anyone else?

Yes, I do, or at least I think that he has the potential to. I’ll discuss this in depth when I do my article on the connections between Harry, Voldemort and Snape; but in general, I think that Harry holds a great force of goodness and love that is quite unexplained. He’s been through a lot of bad stuff, and it would have been more realistic if he’d become all bitter and evil, but he hasn’t. Why is that? I think it’s the fact that he’s been chosen to be the vessel for the Good Power, whatever it is.

3) If Voldy were to be forgiven, like you said, I think that would be too Fairy Tale-ish.

It would if it happened in the way of “Oh look, Voldy’s my best friend and all wizards will unite and live happily ever after, no hard feelings.” That was not what I meant with “cleansed and forgiven.” What I meant was that Voldemort might be cleansed and “forgiven” by the great power (maybe Love) but that he will have to spend the rest of his life dealing with the pain and the guilt of all his terrible deeds and making amends to the wizarding community (where a great number will still hate him and not trust him) by doing good. (Yes, kind of like Angel. I’m obsessed with “Buffy,” what can I say… ;-))

4) If the great force is love, how is it terrible? Dumbledore said “at once more wonderful and more terrible than death.”

I think anyone who’s ever been in love can give you an answer to that. Love isn’t all roses, kisses and walking on pink clouds (unfortunately). I usually describe love as handing someone your heart on a plate with a huge, sharp knife lying beside it. To love someone is to risk being extremely hurt. It’s like jumping from a plane, not knowing if you’re wearing a parachute or a normal backpack. To be loved makes you feel like the luckiest and happiest person on the planet. To lose love will make you feel the exact opposite. Parents say that the most powerful feeling is the love for their child. Then imagine the feeling of watching that child die… It would probably be more terrible than death itself.

5) What if the power mentioned in the prophecy is not love at all, but the power that Hermione thinks is Harry’s “saving people thing”? Voldemort definitely does not care about saving people or going to their rescue, but Harry always has.

This would mean that the Power would be heroism or something like that. That would work nicely together with the theory that Harry might be Gryffindor’s heir. On the other hand, I think it’s a bit too narrow. We are talking about the most powerful, wonderful and terrible of all powers here after all. Also, Harry’s “saving people thing” is motivated by what? That’s right: love (or empathy if you wish). I think heroism is a part of the power (one of its facets, so to speak), but I doubt that it’s the whole answer.

About the touching of prophecies…

1) Neville was holding the prophecy at one point, during the battle thing, and it was Neville who dropped it and broke it. If only the one that the prophecy is about can touch it, how come Neville wasn’t driven mad?

I’ll let Bob answer that one…

The Reason Some People Can Touch Prophecies And Others Cannot: Ahh, it’s very simple. Anyone can touch a prophecy, but only the person it’s about can retrieve it–that is, take it off the shelf. Once it’s off the shelf, anyone can touch it. Notice how Lucius Malfoy waited until Harry got it off the shelf, then was eager to take it from Harry, not afraid at all. It is obvious some kind of go-crazy hex is put on the shelf, not the prophecy recording. This also explains how the human recorders can make the record without going nuts. Also why nobody went nuts from hearing the shattered prophecies — which were smashed by knocking over the shelves. JKR is very clever indeed!

I agree. It’s the retrieval of the prophecy that makes you mad. I don’t know about the “go-crazy hex” on the shelves, though. We don’t really know anything about exactly what is protecting the prophecies, so that’s a theory amongst others.

2) Why couldn’t Voldemort just take the prophecy himself if it included him, being the Dark Lord?

He could have, but he didn’t want to risk drawing attention to the fact that he was back, as the Ministry was so “sweetly ignoring his return” (OotP). Personally, I think this was pretty stupid of him. I mean, they don’t seem to be that big on security at the Ministry, seeing how six Hogwarts students, twelve Death Eaters and a bunch of members of the Order could get in there and have a big fight before anybody even noticed. Sure, one member of the Order was standing guard every night, but if you’re Voldemort, that shouldn’t really be a problem, should it?

About Neville, Harry and the terms of the prophecy…

1) Voldy didn’t know about the “mark him as his equal” part of the prophesy and was probably thinking that he would go to BOTH houses and kill BOTH children before either got old enough to become The One. What if Harry was ALWAYS going to be The One and it happened that because Voldy visited his house first and became “diminished,” never getting the chance to go to Neville’s house!! (I used the word “diminished” to refer to the condition Voldy was left in after the death curse reversed back on him and left the mark on Harry.)
By this other theory, Harry was marked BECAUSE he was The One, and NOT because Voldy CHOSE him to be The One. So, if Voldy had visited Neville’s house first, he would have successfully killed Neville and then moved on to mark Harry and become “diminished” at that point. The reason I happen to like my theory is because the other way, it looks like Harry got to be The One by default, making him just a victim of circumstances. I’d like to think that JKR would not make that kind of statement about “our hero.” Rather that he was always meant to be The One and always had exceptional powers that just became enhanced when Voldemort marked him.

I agree with the first part, that Voldemort probably intended to kill both boys. It makes perfect sense. I don’t agree with the second part for two reasons: 1) Choice is very important in JKR’s books and if Voldemort choosing Harry didn’t make a difference, it would go against the general idea of the books; 2) “and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal” is one of the conditions of being the One; it’s one of the identifying features. I thus believe that if Voldemort had chosen to start with Neville, he would have been the One and the series would have been called “Neville Longbottom and….” And yes, this technically makes Harry “a hero by default” and a “victim of circumstance,” but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a hero. Why would it be more heroic to be born a hero than to be chosen to be one?

2) If/When (and I’m sure he will) Harry realizes that Voldemort could have just as easily chosen Neville instead of himself, it could create a lot of tension between Harry and Neville. Harry might begin to resent Neville because of it. On the other hand, maybe he’ll gain a new-found respect for him. Or he might just channel all his anger towards Voldemort in the next stand-off.

Good point. I think that will certainly have an impact on the Harry/Neville relationship.

3) (On the subject of Neville being the One and being marked by the Dark Lord) Maybe Neville did see his parents get tortured, but his grandmother or someone put a Memory Charm on him so that he wouldn’t remember it and that’s why he’s so forgetful. It says in GoF that Bertha Jorkins became that way after Crouch put his Memory Charm on her.

This is also a possible theory (and a highly popular one judging from how often I see it on the Internet), but it still doesn’t make Neville the One (for more arguments on this, see NT2).

4a) Since only Voldemort can kill Harry, Harry is (supposedly) pretty safe. A Death Eater could (again, supposedly) Avada Kedavra Harry and Harry would not (supposedly) die. (This is not to say he would be completely unaffected.) Now this is an interesting thought. But here is a question: If the prophecy had not been told, would Harry have this power? It is (moderately) safe to assume that the prophecy itself does not affect events; it only foretells them. (This presents its own problems, which I will discuss later.) So, basically, someone could prophesy that “such-and-such-a-person will die by natural causes.” Hmm… Does that mean that they would repel murder attempts and that Harry really isn’t that special? This tends to lead us to a different conclusion: The reason that previously-stated-person (Johnny, from now on) dies of natural causes is not because he repels attacks, but because there will be no attempts on his/her life. Keep this in mind as I go into my next point. Johnny finds out that he will (supposedly) die of natural causes. So he gets a bit more daring than is wise and is killed in an exploit. THIS WOULD DISPROVE THE PROPHECY. Let’s look at it this way: ACTION: Johnny reads prophecy. EFFECT: Johnny decides to try rock climbing, something he’s always been afraid of. EFFECT: Johnny dies. EFFECT: Johnny disproves the prophecy. In short: The fact that the prophecy exists breaks the prophecy. Whoa.

Whoa indeed. 😉 Okay, first question: “If the prophecy had not been told, would Harry have this power?” No, but only because if the prophecy had not been told, Voldemort would not have heard it and would not have gone to the Potters and made Harry the One by trying to kill him. If it hadn’t been told and Voldemort would (for some mysterious reason) have done what he did anyway, then yes, Harry would still have that power. The prophecy in itself doesn’t change anything.

Second question: “Does that mean that Harry isn’t that special?” You can’t just “make a prophecy.” It’s an objective thing. A person can’t choose what kind of prophecy he/she wants to make; it’s not a human thing. Harry isn’t special because of the prophecy but because of Voldemort’s choice (and the facts when and to whom he was born). (Although, as seen above, this is linked to the prophecy…)

Third question: the Johnny scenario. If it’s a real prophecy, then this couldn’t happen. If Johnny is to die of natural causes, he probably won’t get to hear the prophecy at all. Remember that the prophecy sees everything that will happen after it’s told and that those things will determine it. So if Johnny, in the end, dies rock climbing, the prophecy will have known that before being told and be adapted to that fact. You could also consider that to die rock climbing is actually a natural way to go and that Johnny just misinterpreted the prophecy and thereby fulfilled it. 🙂

4b) When Vernon was pretty much strangling Harry, (p. 5, OotP, American hardcover) “some invisible force” surged through his nephew. Could this possibly be Harry repelling an attack? I believe it was the ONLY time in the whole series that Harry’s life was DIRECTLY in danger by someone other that Voldemort. Some may disagree with the preceding statement, but bear with me. Book 1: Harry was endangered by Quirrell, but VOLDEMORT WAS STICKING OUT THE BACK OF HIS HEAD. Book 2: Harry was NOT endangered by Riddle, he was most definitely endangered by the ‘Dark Lord.’ Book 3: Harry’s life was not DIRECTLY endangered. Nobody actually tried to kill him. Pettigrew would have liked to, but he didn’t TRY. Some would argue that having Lupin loose on the grounds would be endangerment, and it is, but it didn’t get to the point of DIRECT endangerment. Direct endangerment would have been if Lupin was pinning Harry to the ground and actually TRYING to rip his head off. Book 4: The Death Eaters never actually attacked Harry with a killing curse, only Voldemort did, and Harry could fend that off without the ‘power.’ Book 5: Harry fended off all attacks by other means; he did not have to use the ‘power.’ If you can think of any other time when Harry’s life was DIRECTLY endangered, except by Voldemort, and which he could not repel himself, I would like to hear it.

First question: Could this have been Harry repelling an attack? Yes, I definitely think so.

Second question: I believe that was the only time that Harry’s life was endangered by someone other than Voldemort. Okay, let’s see…

Book 1: Well, I’d count the troll, Fluffy and the Devil’s Snare
Book 2: Aragog and the Basilisk
Book 3: a hundred Dementors about to perform the Kiss
Book 4: the dragon and the fake Moody
Book 5: the Dementors in Little Winging.

The attack by Uncle Vernon is still very special though, by the fact that it’s the only time in the whole series that Harry’s attacked without having either help coming or being able to sort out the situation himself (using spells he knows, etc.). I think this is highly significant. My theory is that the prophecy holds, Harry can’t be killed by someone other than Voldemort, but that he (nor anybody else) has ever realized this. He doesn’t know, and so he doesn’t go out into the Forbidden Forest to wrestle trolls just for the fun of it. He doesn’t try jumping from the North Tower either. Him not being aware of his imperviousness is the key to it. I hadn’t seized that fact either, even after making a thorough analysis of the prophecy. I did, like most people (including Harry and Dumbledore), focus on the fact that only the One could kill the Dark Lord, not realizing that “and either must die at the hand of the other” also meant that only the Dark Lord could kill the One.

About the recording of prophecies…

1) Is it possible that the only way prophecies are recorded there is by being reported by those who hear it? Perhaps it’s like using a Pensieve: when the prophecy is heard, the memory/thought is taken out of that person’s head and copied, and then stored? This would explain why the PoA prophecy was not reported/stored, because Harry did not know how to do that or even that it could happen. If no one else knew about the prophecy due to its lack of being reported, that’s one less reason to believe Voldemort would return. Had they known, perhaps the MoM would have been less reluctant to listen to Dumbledore.

We don’t know how the prophecies end up in the MoM so the “they have to be reported” theory is as good as any. On the other hand, we don’t know that the PoA prophecy is NOT stored in the MoM. It is very possible that it is, just that Harry didn’t notice it when he was in there. (There were a great number of shelves after all, so if the prophecies were organized depending on date, for example, it would have been in a completely different place.) Also, only the ones the prophecy’s about can retrieve it and listen to it (except for the keeper), so how could the Ministry know about the PoA prophecy? Only the keeper would (and he’s probably not allowed to say anything).

2) What if the “great eye” or “inner eye” that Professor Trelawney talks about isn’t actually something you can possess, but something that possesses you for the period of the prophecy and all the person can see is an eye and you’ll have no memory of making the prophecy, just a feeling like you’ve just woken up after dosing off? The Ministry could have formed some sort of link with this entity so that a “hard-copy” is made when the eye kicks into gear.

Yes, that is very possible. My personal opinion is that it works along those lines. Just a feeling.

About the Time-Turner theory…

1) In PoA, page 292 (English version), Hermione tells Harry, “Professor McGonagall told me what awful things have happened when wizards have meddled with time. Loads of them ended up killing their past or future selves by mistake.” This messes up the double time theory. In that case, you would be killed before you could go back in time to do so. My theory is that there are parallel universes. Every time someone goes back in time and changes something, the timeline splits. In the “first” reality, everything stays the same, but the person disappears after going back in time. The “second” reality will change and the person will continue to live in that reality.

I also wondered about this when I was writing about the Time-Turner. It’s true that with the double-time theory, killing your past or future self would be difficult. (Killing your past self would be impossible, as pointed out above, and if you in “real time” killed a double of yourself, you’d probably be smart enough to realize that it was you going back in time and then decide NOT to go back in time in order not to be killed in “double time.” But since you’d already gone back in time in “double time,” which exists simultaneously with “real time,” you couldn’t NOT go back in time, etc… Indeed, very confusing.) On the other hand, the theory about the split timeline also poses a problem: This would create a new reality every time a person uses a Time-Turner, but those different realities would still be one single reality. I’ll try to explain myself better. When Hermione was using the Time-Turner to get to all her classes she technically existed as several people at the same time and in the same reality. She was in Muggle Studies with her classmates at the same time as she was in Divination with Harry and Ron. During that class (those classes), the two Hermiones could technically meet, say, in the bathroom. From the moment when the Time-Turner was used, though, there’s only one Hermione and the double disappears. This still doesn’t solve the killing problem though. To Hermione, there’s no “double time,” she’ll go to one class and then another. So, if she’d go to Muggle Studies, go back in time and do Divination and during Divination get up, go to the Muggle Studies classroom and kill herself, the Hermione in Muggle Studies wouldn’t be able to finish that class, go back in time and go to Divination. It’s the exact same problem with both theories. You can technically kill your future self, but not your past self. It’s logically impossible. Personally, I think JKR made a mistake when putting in the “loads of them ended up killing their past or future selves by mistake” line. Either that or I’m just too thick to see the real explanation. 🙂


1) When Harry and Draco fight in the halls, their spells collide and hit Crabbe/Goyle and Hermione in the face. How is that different than Voldemort and Harry’s fight? (The wands don’t work against each other in either case.)

It’s different in that, since Voldemort and Harry’s wands are brothers, they refuse to fight against each other and perform “Priori Incantatem” when forced to. In the fight with Malfoy, the spells just get in the way of one another, kind of like if you and a friend threw balls at each other and they collided in mid air. It has nothing to do with the wands; we see how spells can bounce off things all the time (in the graveyard in GoF for example).

2) When are you going to update Level Nine/Book 6 section, etc?
I have absolutely no idea. I’m only a columnist and have absolutely no power over these things. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know who it is that does the updates. (I’m guessing Nancy, as she’s the one who turns my Word articles into Internet format. She’s on the staff page if you want to contact her.) [Editor’s note: Nope, I’m not in charge of that, either, so I’m not in a position to answer. I can try to find out, though…]

I’m sure that I’ve forgotten a whole bunch of interesting questions, and I apologize. Sometimes I get a really interesting question that I plan to answer but then end up deleting from my inbox by mistake. (The subject line always reads “Mugglenet feedback” so it’s an easy mistake to make, seeing as I have to delete mails when I’ve read them or they’d overflow my account.) Some questions I have deliberately waited to answer as I’ll be doing future articles on them (among those are the mystical power (Love?); Snape; Snape’s worst memory; the veil; what happened to Sirius; the mystery of portraits, photos and such; ghosts; Voldemort; the Voldy-Harry-Snape triangle; the Lupin=James theory; and the Malfoys) If you have questions about any of those subjects, feel free to send me owls. (I love owls.)

See you guys in a week!

Take care