Lessons to be Learned: What Harry Needs to Know Now

by Sholeigh

I wanted to share with you one area of thought that I’’ve had about the upcoming Half-Blood Prince, because I see this novel as a preparation for what is to come in Book 7, the climactic final installment of the series.

We saw in the last chapters of OotP how Harry, despite everything he had faced before, despite all those months of practicing spells, hexes, jinxes and charms with the DA, was still almost defenseless when face-to-face with Voldemort. When it came to disarming Snape in the Shrieking Shack, Harry was as quick as lightning. When the trio (and Fred and George) blasted Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle on the return journey from Hogwarts in GoF, the Slytherins didn’’t know what hit them. But when it comes down to it, what does Harry have that he can actually use against the Dark Lord? How can Harry possibly vanquish Lord Voldemort?

The British hardback version of OotP, pg. 716, reads:

Lord Voldemort had appeared in the middle of the hall, his wand pointing at Harry who stood frozen, quite unable to move.

And on the next page:

“I have nothing more to say to you, Potter,” [Voldemort] said quietly. “You have irked me too often, for too long. AVADA KEDAVRA!”

Harry had not even opened his mouth to resist; his mind was blank, his wand pointing uselessly at the floor.

When Voldemort appears and aims his wand at him, Harry doesn’’t know what to do. Admittedly Harry was in shock, having just seen Sirius fall through the veil. In GoF Harry tried his best when he knew that Voldemort was going to kill him. He stood his ground and cast the best spell he knew: Expelliarmus. But it was only by luck that it saved him. Harry knows that there is no defense against the Killing Curse. As fake Moody explained in GoF, the only protection is to never get yourself into the situation where you are faced by it. Loathe as I am to believe anything that impostor said, I think this must be true. Evidence for this can be seen in OotP, during the fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort in the MoM. Dumbledore apparated across the room to avoid one jet of green light, the golden statue’s various animated parts blocked others, and Fawkes swallowed the final Killing Curse aimed at the Headmaster. Dumbledore never actually blocked the spell with an incantation of his own. Harry has faced the lethal spell several times already; surely Dumbledore would have let Harry in on the secret, if he had known of any way to protect against Avada Kedavra. So, bearing this in mind, how can Harry now prepare to face Lord Voldemort – as he surely must – in the final book?

I think it is time that Dumbledore started to give Harry some private tuition. Dumbledore is immensely fond of Harry and extremely proud of everything he has achieved so far. The Headmaster has always given Harry a great deal of leeway to make his own discoveries and mistakes. On occasion he has nudged Harry in the right direction, or left a clue lying around (Mirror of Erised) to help Harry along, but when it comes to the crunch of each book, it’s always down to Harry and his friends to solve the mystery and face the final challenge. But now things are really getting serious. If Harry is to face Voldemort at the end and stand even a chance of doing whatever it is about him that makes Harry the only one that can vanquish the Dark Lord, Harry must be able to defend himself better.

Dumbledore has a vast knowledge of magic, equal to – and probably surpassing – that of Voldemort. I would like to see him passing on some of this experience to Harry in private lessons. There must be so much more for Harry to learn than the spells he has covered with the DA. From personal experience I have found that teaching someone else is a very good way of fixing a subject indelibly in your own memory. The firm grounding in the basics Harry will have acquired from teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts to other students has prepared him to take the next step in magical knowledge –– magic you won’’t find in “The Standard Book of Spells,” even at Grade 7. For instance, what was that powerful spell that Dumbledore cast at Voldemort in the MoM? It drew a “deep, gong-like note” from the shield that Voldemort conjured, and surprised the Dark Lord, I think. I would love to know the purpose of that spell; perhaps in Book 6 we will find out. If anyone has any theories, please let me know.

We know from experience that Hogwarts teachers do occasionally give extra tuition. Both Lupin (willingly) and Snape (unwillingly) have given Harry private lessons, and McGonagall swore that she would help Harry become an Auror, even if it meant giving him extra lessons every night of the week. Now that Harry is starting his sixth year, the equivalent of sixth form in Muggle England, he should be taking fewer subjects and getting a bit more individual attention from his teachers, because there should be fewer students in each class. I’m sure he will have time for Advanced Practical Defense. I believe that private lessons will uncover a talent that Harry has, which even Dumbledore may not yet be aware of…but I will save my thoughts on that for another rainy day.

Thanks for listening, and please let me know if you have any comments on this editorial. This was just my first stab at putting my theories into writing. All hail to the regular column writers! Keep up the good work.