The Castle on the Hill: Voldemort’s Next Moves
by Brandon Ford
B-Fizzle signing on, back on schedule. It is now finals week at great KU, and in just five days time I shall be returning to my own Number 4 Privet Drive (though, thankfully, my parents are more like the Weasleys and less like the Dursleys). I return to school on January 20. For that reason this article will have to hold you over for quite some time, so I’ve decided to make this one last. I have only just finished my reread of Goblet of Fire and am about to reread Order of the Phoenix. Once again, I have to reiterate how much I love GoF. Brilliantly constructed and packed with drama of life and drama of action. Who wasn’t in anguish with Harry during he and Ron’s row before the first task? Who after reading the “Yule Ball” could still honestly say that Ron and Hermione were not going to end up together (RHETORICAL – I want NO shipping emails!)? Who wasn’t stunned into paralysis at the discovery that Moody, the DADA professor we all thought we knew and loved, turned out to be a treacherous, patricidal maniac bent on rejoining Lord Voldemort? Who wasn’t shocked at the words “kill the spare” and when they read Cedric die? And then Voldemort’s return… but I digress. It’s a fantastic book. Unfortunately for you guys, I have some old business before we can get into the new topic of the week.
I am very pleased at the amount of questions I received that were nothing short of brilliant. Excellent, thought-provoking questions that will keep me supplied for months. My special shout-out goes to Stephanie for supplying me with the question that will be the subject of this week’s rant. On the darker side, a few of you made me sad. I don’t know if some of you hadn’t read Order of the Phoenixor what, because I definitely was asked what the “old crowd” that included Arabella Figg, Lupin, and Mundungus Fletcher was and where they were based. Most deflating of all were the emails I received asking me to write an editorial on why it took a whole day for Harry to be taken from Godric’s Hollow to Privet Drive (LOST DAY, anyone?).
As for last week’s article, two things: it has been brought to my attention that Quirrell did not have Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head at the time when Harry met him at the Leaky Cauldron. This means that Quirrell was in London and not Hogwarts when he attempted to rob Gringotts. That could easily disprove my lake theory. However, just because he didn’t use the lake to get into the bank, does not mean he couldn’t have used it to make a clean getaway. The second thing was about the floors of the Ministry of Magic. Despite what some of you seem to think, the ATRIUM IS LOCATED BETWEEN THE 9TH and 7TH FLOORS! THE ATRIUM CANNOT BE THE FIRST FLOOR UNLESS WIZARDS USE A DIFFERENT NUMBER SYSTEM THAN WE DO! It is possible that the telephone booth/visitor’s entrance is the first floor, however, as someone suggested. During my upcoming reread of OotP, I will report my findings. Whew. Now to new business!
As I mentioned, a very clever young lady by the name of Stephanie informed me that in several of my editorials I posited that Hogwarts would be attacked or that Voldemort would want to get inside of the school for whatever reason. However, she asked me why I think the school will be attacked. As I had just finished responding to three emails in a row asking me to write about the Lost Day (since – apparently – they didn’t know I had already answered that question SIX times!), I was preparing a scathing response telling her to actually read my previous works when I realized I NEVER ACTUALLY TOLD YOU GUYS WHY I THINK VOLDEMORT WANTS IN!!! This fact made Stephanie win the prize (figuratively speaking, of course – poor college student on a budget after all). Therefore, I submit to Stephanie and the rest of you for your entertainment and consideration: THE CASTLE ON THE HILL!
THE LOOMING THREAT OF VOLDEMORT’S GAME PLAN
After Book Five, Voldemort is in a peculiar position. Many of his Death Eaters have been captured, the Prophecy has been destroyed, he discovered that possessing Harry again could prove detrimental to his health, and the entire magical world is now alerted to his presence. Not very much went right for the guy who (I still maintain) concocted one of the most deliberate and brilliant kidnap-trap conspiracies since the planning of the Kennedy assassination. As I was doing my reread of Book Four, I realized that there is always the LOOMING THREAT in every book, but that the pattern shifts drastically from time to time.
I define the LOOMING THREAT as the thing that the trio and Dumbledore are worried about the entire book whose ultimate goal is to do evil. In Book One, the presence of the Stone gave us the LOOMING THREAT that someone (namely Snape) was trying to steal it to resurrect Voldemort. Added with the revelation of who Harry really was, this makes Voldemort the looming threat of Book One.
In Book 2, the Petrifications (is that even a word?) of all the people, animals, and ghosts at the hands – or should I say eyes – of the basilisk keep the entire castle on alert, hearkening the fears that Voldemort is on the return.
Book Three, however, deviates. Voldemort is not the LOOMING THREAT in three, which is what makes PoA so different from all the other books. One could call Sirius the LOOMING THREAT if not for the fact that Sirius, in the end, does not come to the castle to do evil (as you can see, I don’t really count Peter Pettigrew as a person, but rather a pitiful excuse for one who frankly could used a well placed Avada Kedavra thrown his way). In that sense, there was no real LOOMING THREAT in Book Three. Of course, Voldemort is always the LOOMING THREAT over the entire series, but in this book, he takes a back seat to the oddities of a cat, a rat, and a dog.
Book Four starts us off with Harry’s dream/vision of Voldemort and he is once again placed at the top of the LOOMING THREAT list and is implicated in the brilliant plot to put Harry in the Triwizard Tournament.
Book Five surprised us all. Though everyone is constantly concerned with Voldemort’s whereabouts and his next move, the real LOOMING THREAT in OotP was really our favorite DADA teacher, Dolores Jane Umbridge. Her shadow over the castle managed to eclipse even that of Voldemort. Though Harry had his visions and his scar twinges all throughout, the actions of Umbridge and the interference of the Ministry bumped Voldemort to number two on the LOOMING THREAT list. So much secrecy and maneuvering was necessary to act under some semblance of normalcy while Umbridge was in power. Umbridge’s reign was like living under a Nazi regime. Even Dumbledore had not the authoritative powers to keep his post under her gaze as he was forced to flee the school (though he did so of his own volition in a spectacular preview to the battle at the Ministry).
However, at the end of Book Five, all the cards are out on the table. Voldemort’s exposure, now an accepted fact of life, meant that he had to return to the drawing board and concoct a new plan. But what will his plan of action be? All of that talk of LOOMING THREATS was to let us all know that Voldemort will more than likely be the LOOMING THREAT of Book Six. But the real question is why is he going to be the LOOMING THREAT?
As much as Voldemort wanted to kill Harry in the Atrium in OotP and in the graveyard in Book Four, I believe he was acting rather impetuously. He has yet to hear the full Prophecy, and I find it silly that he would try to kill Harry just like that when he still doesn’t know if the something could save Harry. For now, I think Harry can be safe in the knowledge that Voldemort won’t try to possess him. Voldemort felt true agony when he possessed Harry last time, and he doesn’t know yet its’ prolonged exposure could result in his final death and vanquishing. However, Harry still has to be at the top of Voldemort’s hit-list. Though Voldemort doesn’t know what will result if HE kills Harry, he DOES know that Harry is all that stands between him and magical world domination. I also think that since Harry can now be touched, he is once again susceptible to Avada Kedavra by Voldemort. So Harry has to die: HOW?
I see two venues here. Voldemort might still want to hear the Prophecy. If that is the case, two things are in danger: Sybil Trelawney and the Pensieve. Voldemort has methods of extracting information out of people. Trelawney has no recollection whatsoever that she has given any prophecies like the two that we have seen. If Voldemort is still hell-bent on the Prophecy, Trelawney will be his first target. Since Trelawney lives in the castle, the only way to get to her is to go to Hogwarts. As for the Pensieve, Dumbledore could have easily put that particular thought back in his brain, but the Pensieve itself would be a wonderful thing to get his hands on. Imagine access to a great deal of your biggest enemy’s memories – to know what he knows and see what he sees. If Dumbledore left the memory of the Prophecy in the Pensieve (because we never see him put the thought back in his brain after he shows Harry), that also would be a great asset to him. And again, it is located only in Hogwarts.
Of course, Voldemort could give up on the Prophecy and just say “Screw the Prophecy! Potter’s gotta die!” Then why would he need to go to Hogwarts? I think for the Chamber of Secrets. Upon discovering the basilisk and how to get down to the Chamber, I reckon Voldemort probably spent a great deal of time down there as a youth. Not to mention, the Chamber was Salazar Slytherin’s fortress of solitude. I would imagine there are stores of magical knowledge in the Chamber that would probably prove valuable to the dark lord. I also have to explain something. Last week, I made many references to ships popping through lakes and villains popping in fireplaces and baddies portkeying into the castle all willy-nilly. That was to show that Hogwarts is perhaps not as safe as we all want it to be. Voldemort has proven himself to be a very shifty, stealthy mastermind. If he wants something out of the castle, he isn’t very likely to ring the doorbell.
Now see, those are intellectual reasons for wanting to take Hogwarts. But there is a more practical reason: THIS IS WAR!
THIS IS A WAR
We are fighting a war. Voldemort’s troops are a mighty few who will serve him out of joy in mayhem or fear of persecution. With the Ministry under fire for keeping Voldemort’s return a secret, the people will look to Dumbledore’s Castle on the Hill as a beacon of safety. So long as Dumbledore is in his post, the children, as well as the magical world, are safe. But this is a war. Voldemort wants to win and in order to win a war you have to gain territory. Voldemort can be as bad as he wants to be, but he cannot truly win this war without gaining territory. With the Dementors on his side, soon the convicts will run Azkaban. That leaves one other isolated stronghold: The Castle.
At this point, Voldemort has nothing to gain by stealth. Everybody knows he’s back. I would think that now he could go back to business as usual, the way things were during his first bid for power. Step 1: BREAK OUT THE CONVICTS!!! Voldemort will need all the help he can get. After freeing his Death Eaters, not to mention having the Dementors on his side, I could easily see Azkaban as the perfect fortress and base of operations for the dark lord. Murder and mayhem shouldn’t be too difficult of a concept to that lot. And then I thought of something else: we have never been to Azkaban. By us, I mean Harry. Since Book 2, we have been steadily hearing how horrible it is and how people go mad there, but Harry, for obvious reasons, has never gone there. I think, writing-wise, it would be a marvelous opportunity for JKR to finally take us deep inside the prison, which remains to this day the only location she has described to us that we haven’t been to (with, of course, the exceptions of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, which – incidentally – were never really described to us).
A quick history lesson: Hogwarts Castle was built by the four founders and many magical concealments were placed on it. In fact, I think that Hogwarts is a secret as well since everyone who has been to it is either a student or former student who received a letter from the Deputy Headmaster/Headmistress (acting as Secret-Keeper). Those who were not students were probably still sent letters of invitation that functioned the same way as Dumbledore’s note to Harry about 12 Grimmauld Place. Something Karkaroff said stuck with me: “Do we not jealously guard our halls of learning?” According to Professor Binns, the founders of Hogwarts were the preeminent witches and wizards of the world around the year 992 A.D., when the school was built. It is safe to assume that as some “the greatest witches and wizards of the age,” Hogwarts is probably loaded with original volumes and manuscripts written by the four founders of ancient magics and powers that wizards today could not possibly fathom. If Voldemort has a chance of beating Dumbledore, he’s gonna need to get into fighting form. Dumbledore is, of course, not immune to Avada Kedavra, but in order for it work, Voldemort is going to have to overpower Dumbledore before he can beat him. Seizing Hogwarts or at least sneaking into Hogwarts and gaining access to these volumes would be a smart move in Voldemort’s quest for power.
THINGS TO COME
There are many things we need to prepare for with Book Six coming. Another part of the question asked to me was what else do I think will happen in Books Six and Seven. Well, to tie in with my thought of Voldemort storming the castle (or at least sneaking in to get something or someone), here are some things I’m getting ready for:
1. Transfiguration – In Book Four, during the second task, Krum tries to transfigure himself into a shark, but it goes slightly awry. Hermione later makes the observation that in Sixth year they cover animal transfigurations. Interesting indeed. For a fleeting instant, I thought that perhaps the infamous “lion-man” could perhaps have been the work of a transfiguration lesson, but I immediately discarded that theory because the man we are looking for has streaks of gray mixed in his tawny hair and walks with a limp.
2. Characters That Will Die By Book Seven –
– Peter Pettigrew: will die to repay his debt to Harry
– Remus Lupin: will die during the war to protect Harry because I think all the Marauders must die
– Tonks: just a really sad death because she’s so cool that it would suck if she died, but she had a lot of issues fighting in the Ministry battle – she ended up unconscious if I’m not mistaken
– Lucius Malfoy: we think Draco Malfoy is pissed that his dad is in jail… wait till he dies in the service of his master. I have a sneaking suspicion that being a Death Eater will lead to the downfall and death of many Voldemort supporters
– Bellatrix Lestrange: either Neville will kill her, or Harry will kill her for killing Neville
– Neville: I see Neville taking a real stand for once in his life, but his newfound confidence lead him to act impetuously in defense of his friends. He will rush headlong into battle with Bellatrix to get revenge for what she did to his parents. Either he will kill her and then Voldemort will kill him, or Bellatrix will kill Neville and Harry will kill Bellatrix
– Voldemort: otherwise there would be more than seven books
– Dumbledore: Harry has to fulfill his destiny. Dumbledore will not allow Harry to just walk up to Voldemort alone and fight him. His love for Harry will lead him to the ultimate sacrifice: dying to save Harry.
3. O.W.L. Results: – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Harry will ace his potions exam for the simple reason that Harry has to be in a class with Snape and Malfoy for dramatic tension. Not to mention, nothing would piss Snape off more than knowing that despite his best efforts, Harry actually did well in his class. Perfect score in Defense Against The Dark Arts. Above average scores in Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures and Charms. Average to below average score in History of Magic since he fell asleep during the test. Above average score in Herbology. Average to below average score in Divination and Astronomy since he didn’t really finish the test.
4. The Fate of Ronald Weasley: – Poor Ron. Everybody has something but him. Harry’s famous and rich. Hermione is brilliant. The twins are hilarious and have their own joke shop now. Charlie was a brilliant Quidditch player and now a dragon tamer. Percy is the assistant to the Minister of Magic. Bill is no doubt dating Fleur Delacour and has a really cool job for Gringotts. Ginny is the only Weasley girl, which by definition makes her special as she seems to have all the talents of the Weasley boys wrapped into one package. But what is there for Ron? After being slightly less than pathetic at Quidditch and doing absolutely horrible in the Battle at the Ministry, Ron is really not in good shape. I believe that Ron is destined to do something great but it has to be something that none of his brothers have done. It has to be something that is all RON. It is highly possible that Ron will be made Quidditch Captain, but again Charlie has already done that. I think Ron will play a part in this war that will put his name down in the history books for years to come. Let me just say this: I am very intrigued to see what Ron’s Divination O.W.L. is. I found it quite interesting that when Harry and Ron were making their fake Trelawney predictions in Book Four, Ron predicted that Harry would get stabbed in the back by someone he thought was a friend (incidentally, this happened once with Ron not trusting him and again with Imposter Moody being… well… an imposter). I still think that Ron may be in possession of an Inner Eye, but unable to control it like Trelawney, which is why, like her, everything he predicts is wrong.
5. The Career of Percy Weasley – I would not be at all surprised if Percy Weasley did become the youngest Minister of Magic. It seems farfetched, but look at it this way: Percy started off as a paper-pusher in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. His boss was murdered by his son, and Percy himself was under investigation because of the orders he was receiving via owl from Barty Crouch. A year later, after nearly being indicted for knowledge of Barty Crouch’s whereabouts, he is… PROMOTED! In Book Five, he becomes Special Assistant to the Minister of Magic. He was essentially Fudge’s left hand man (Umbridge had the right hand). Now Fudge is on the fall off. Percy seems to me a master of spin control. As a member of the previous administration, he would know everything that Fudge knew. On one hand, everyone in Fudge’s administration could easily be cast out. But wouldn’t it be more interesting for Ron’s little joke about Percy not resting till he became the youngest Minister of Magic to come true? Remember, Fudge was his mentor. And if my theory about Fudge’s ascension to the top holds true (See The Lost Day part 2, The Mystery of Wormtail and Fudge), Percy would have learned the tricks of the political trade from the master political manipulator.
IN THE END…
On the subject of prophetic warnings, I was reminded of Voldemort. In my article on the prophecies, I mentioned how Voldemort’s little predictions have a funny way of coming true. Recently, I came across one in the beginning of GoF:
“Your part will come at the very end…”
Voldemort says this to Pettigrew in reference to him having to sacrifice his hand to help resurrect Voldemort. But the statement has a two-pronged effect when coupled with the statement directly above it:
“I will allow you to perform an essential task for me, one that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform…”
Here, we see the irony. Voldemort knows that Pettigrew is literally going to give his right hand to help Voldemort return (of course, we don’t know that yet). But figuratively, Wormtail will sacrifice all to help Voldemort as well. This got me thinking that (yes I’m going to say it – this is for the girl who said she’d scream if I said it one more time) THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION! What if Voldemort’s statement about Wormtail’s part coming at the very end is in reference to the life debt that he owes Harry (which Voldemort to our knowledge knows nothing about)? Then something Luna Lovegood said was brought to my attention: “They always come back in the end.” She says this twice in reference to all the people who take her things and hide them. I think that symbolically, she is the physical manifestation of Harry’s suffering. Harry has had a lot of emotional loss in his life: his home, his identity, any semblance of a normal life, and now his godfather. Luna loses physical things, yet there is a definite connection between Luna and Harry (they can both hear the voices beyond the veil). She is made fun of and cast aside and always she bears it with a smile on her face and a stiff upper lip. Harry has had to deal with his pain internally as well, putting on a brave face and keeping his anger and frustration bottled up inside. When Luna talks about the end, I don’t think she is just talking about the school year.
These prophetic statements about “the end” need further speculation. As this article is now seven pages long, and as I am about to take a hiatus from the land of editorials as previously mentioned, I leave you with a “to be continued.” When I return, it will be with full, considered speculation on the implication of “the end.” So until next time, remember that THE WHEELS ARE IN MOTION!!! And…