Former Death Eaters: Hindrance or Helpers?
I’ve read many different editorials, essays, theories, and suggestions from many different Potter fans, ranging from the fairly plausible to the nearly impossible. Now, I don’t consider myself overly skilled at recognizing clues in the text of the current five books. I definitely didn’t think that I would be the one to think of something like this, but here I am.
When I finally found that one piece of inspiration that clicked for me, I was actually skimming through MuggleNet’s “Book Mistakes” page for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I came across an entry that read as follows:
“In the British version of book 5 on page 480, when naming the death eaters who escaped, it says, “Algernon Rookwood, convicted of leaking ministry of magic secrets to he who must not be named,” and in the British version of book 4 on page 512 it states: “Rookwood?” said Crouch, nodding to a witch sitting in front of him, who began scribbling upon her piece of parchment. “Augustus Rookwood of the Department of Mysteries?”
Now, I didn’t think much of it at first, but as I read through it again, I realized that it makes a surprising amount of sense. What if she didn’t make a mistake? So, for this theory to make sense, I will have to go through both possibilities separately.
Possibility No. 1: J.K. Rowling goofed. I know; we’d all love to think that our favorite storyteller is infallible, but as the aforementioned mistake pages point out, she isn’t. No one’s perfect, anyhow. If this is the case, it’s just a little mix-up – no harm done. However, there is the other theory, and that brings me to:
Possibility No. 2: It isn’t a mistake and this is one of the many clever clues she has hidden within the books. If we assume that this is the case, one of two things has to be true: Either she fudged the first names and meant for them to be the same person or the two Rookwoods are somehow related. Let’s go back to what we already know about Death Eaters and the various different fates that befell them after dear old Voldy (I can see J.R. shaking her head in distaste already) disappeared from the public eye for about 13 years. Many were sent to Azkaban, such as Bellatrix Lestrange, the group of wizards that she broke out with (including the above-mentioned Algernon), and the falsely accused Sirius Black. But others – like Karkaroff, head of Durmstrang Academy, and even Snape, who Dumbledore himself still trusts – have been allowed to function as (fairly) normal citizens in the wizarding community. Applying this fact to the theory that having two Rookwoods is not a mistake tells us that it is possible for Voldemort’s retired followers to work for the Ministry of Magic. We have seen in Order of the Phoenix that Fudge would go pretty far to get his way (e.g., defamation of character, lying), so it is not unreasonable to think that even though he did not want to admit to Voldemort’s resurrection, he would still probably want to keep an eye out. The easiest way to do that is to fight fire with fire.
Through what I’ve discussed so far, we’ve acknowledged the chance that death eaters are working for the Ministry, or even for Fudge himself… but what about the *two* Rookwoods? As I said earlier, either the two A. Rookwoods are one and the same or they are family. I, personally, lean more towards the second theory because it would be very difficult to be in prison and working for the Department of Mysteries at the same time. If they are meant to be the same person, then my Possibility No. 2 covers it. However, if the two men are in fact relatives, it is reasonable to say that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and the Rookwoods happen to have a long line of Slytherins in the family. Also, if Algernon Rookwood is related to Augustus Rookwood, the latter may have even helped the former in his escape, which hints at corruption within the Ministry. (As a sidenote, I would like to also point out that having a history in Dark Magic, which is a fairly gray area for many wizards, might help in performing secret projects for the Department of Mysteries.)
The final question, then, is this: Are former Death Eaters assets in the fight against Voldy, or is their meddling hindering the Ministry? We shall just have to wait until J.K. Rowling tells us herself. Or through Harry, of course.