Harry Potter’s Power

by Phil Hair

Consider the prophecy concerning Harry Potter:

-pg. 841, Ch. 37, OotP, American hardback edition (all citations will be from American hardback editions)

Harry Potter was not impressed by it. When he was told the prophecy, he said:

“… I haven’’t any powers that he hasn’’t got, I couldn’’t fight the way he did tonight, I can’’t possess people or —– or kill them —”
-pg. 843, Ch. 37, OotP

Later explanation of the prophecy did not help:

(Dumbledore speaking) “… “It will take uncommon skill and power to kill a wizard like Voldemort even without his Horcruxes.””

“”But I haven’’t got uncommon skill and power,”” said Harry, before he could stop himself.

“”Yes, you have,”” said Dumbledore firmly. “”You have a power that Voldemort has never had. You can—”–“

“”I know!” said Harry impatiently. “”I can love!”” It was only with difficulty that he stopped himself from adding, “”Big deal!”” … 

“”So, when the prophecy says that I’’ll have ‘power the Dark Lord knows not,’ it just means …— love?”” asked Harry, feeling a little let down.

“”Yes –— just love,”” said Dumbledore.
-pg. 509, Ch. 23, HBP

Harry knows from experience that with the exception of Snape (and possibly Bellatrix), he can engage any single Death Eater in combat and survive, and most likely win. He also knows that only Dumbledore was Voldemort’’s equal in direct combat, and now his teacher, his protector, is dead. Harry will not turn from his quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, then to kill Voldemort, but he is not cocky.

Severus Snape Concerning Harry Potter

Dumbledore had a very high opinion of Harry’s abilities, but what of Snape? Consider Snape’s statement to Bellatrix and Narcissa at the beginning of the sixth book:

“Of course, it became apparent to me very quickly that he had no extraordinary talent at all. He has fought his way out of a number of tight corners by a simple combination of sheer luck and more talented friends. He is mediocre to the last degree, though as obnoxious and self-satisfied as was his father before him. I have done my utmost to have him thrown out of Hogwarts, where I believe he scarcely belongs.”
-pg. 31, Ch. 2, HBP

There is excellent evidence that he was giving his honest opinion of Harry at that point, regardless of to whom he might have been loyal, whether Dumbledore, Voldemort, or only himself. Snape, however, was hardly an impartial judge, having hated Harry’’s father, and taking that hatred out on Harry. Also, he had limited knowledge of Harry’’s adventures. Even Harry is (as of the end of Book 6) unaware of how much power he possesses, or how it is released. (More on that later.)

Consider Book 1. All of Hogwarts learned that Harry had killed Quirrell, a full-grown wizard and teacher of the Dark Arts, because Quirrell/Voldemort could not bear Harry’’s touch. But Voldemort figured out Harry had not exhibited special power, but instead had used protection that his mother had died to provide him. From Snape’’s point of view, this was not talent or skill that saved him, but luck.

Consider Book 2. I cannot say whether Snape is aware of Voldemort’’s Horcruxes, but he would have known that three wizards went into the Chamber of Secrets. Lockhart was not able to tell what happened afterwards, and I believe that neither Harry, Ron, or Ginny would have told anyone (except Hermione) besides the ones who Harry told directly: Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

I believe that Dumbledore would not have told Snape what happened. This is why: Dumbledore knew that Voldemort was still alive (well, sort of), and would be back. He also knew that Snape had been (and likely would be again) his spy into Voldemort’s camp, posing as Voldemort’’s spy into his own camp. He would have hardly been eager to give Snape information that would be crucially important to Voldemort, and Snape would have hardly been eager to know that Harry was a great wizard. I believe that after Book 1, Dumbledore would have kept Snape on a strict “need to know” basis concerning Harry Potter. Despite the fact that Snape had Dumbledore’s confidence, it would have been poor strategy to give a potential double agent truly dangerous information. But even had Snape learned the whole truth, I doubt it would have changed his opinion of Harry. From Snape’’s point of view, Harry got lucky.

Consider Book 3. Snape never learned how Harry had freed Sirius Black. Only his belief that Harry was the cause of all Snape’’s troubles in Hogwarts allowed him to suspect Harry, who would have had to be in two places at one time to do it (which he was). He did learn about Harry’s Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder’s Map. From his point of view, Harry was just using magical objects others had created. No talent there. He never knew that Harry had produced a Patronus capable of driving off more than 100 dementors — a sure sign that Harry was a powerful wizard. Since Snape wasn’’t on speaking terms with Sirius, he wouldn’’t have found out from him, either.

Consider Book 4. At the end of the book, Snape found out directly from Barty Couch Jr. (who was under Veritaserum and unable to lie), that as Moody, he caused all the events related to the Triwizard Tournament to occur, causing/allowing Harry to enter and compete successfully. Later he could have found out from Voldemort himself that Harry had escaped him because of Priori Incantatem, a spell that neither of them could have predicted — Harry because he did not know of Priori Incantatem, and Voldemort because he did not know their wands shared a magical core, each having a feather from the phoenix Fawkes. Again, from Snape’’s point of view, Harry got lucky.

Consider Book 5. Snape made Occlumency lessons for Harry into a mockery, and Harry never properly learned how to hide his thoughts from Snape or Voldemort. That would not have done anything for Snape’’s opinion of Harry. (Snape, however, never realized that Harry was able to read Snape’’s thoughts. Or perhaps he simply “forgot” an unpleasant fact.) Snape carefully arranged that Harry would get to the Ministry of Magic without the Order of the Phoenix’’s support for some time — until it was too late. It was Lucius Malfoy’’s fault that he hadn’’t got the prophecy as Voldemort had commanded. Apparently it did not register with Snape that Voldemort was unable to possess Harry, but Voldemort would have hardly advertised his failure.

Finally, consider Book 6. This was Snape’’s book, his book of triumph. Snape killed Dumbledore, protected Draco Malfoy, fulfilled his Unbreakable Vow, and helped the Death Eaters escape Hogwarts. He knew nothing of the true nature of Dumbledore’’s special lessons with Harry, though he knew that they were taking place, because Harry was once excused from detention in order to attend. He knew that Harry had got his old Advanced Potions book, and even revealed himself to be the Half-Blood Prince. He knew that Harry’’s sudden expertise in Potions was due to Snape himself — that must have greatly irritated him. Harry’’s knowledge of spells that Snape himself devised angered him even more. And in the final battle, he beat Harry handily.

On the other hand, Harry turned an orderly fighting retreat into a rout and took on a group of Death Eaters single-handedly in order to get at Snape. This fact apparently didn’’t sink in. Harry fought his way to within feet of his hated foe, who was able to hurt Harry, to disarm him, but not to make him afraid. Harry faced a far superior enemy, his own Dark Arts teacher. Harry will remember this defeat, and will do everything he can to make sure that Snape doesn’’t win the next time. And Harry desperately wants there to be a “next time.”

It is my opinion that after his victory, Snape will lead the Death Eaters in Book 7, taking Lucius Malfoy’’s place (who is now in Azkaban). I also believe that his expertise with the Dark Arts, combined with his experience as a teacher at Hogwarts, will allow him to train the Death Eaters to be an even nastier, more dangerous group than it has been previously. He will also have the ear of Voldemort, and will not hide his opinion of Harry Potter from his master. Voldemort will be happy to hear from one of Harry’s own teachers at Hogwarts how unworthy Harry is. With Dumbledore dead (the ONE wizard that Voldemort feared), Voldemort is likely to become more confident, more bold. It is probable that he will take riskier actions than before.

At this point, the seventh book almost writes itself. I expect the Death Eaters to attack the wedding of Fleur Delacour and Bill Weasley. Many of Voldemort’’s enemies will be there, and who expects trouble at a wedding? I would expect the attack during the reception, when everyone is the most off guard. (Remember this point, I’’ll come back to it.)

Harry Potter’s Secret Power

Harry Potter doesn’’t understand his power, at least not yet. We already know that Voldemort cannot possess Harry, that he failed because Harry felt love for his godfather Sirius Black. (I think that it is unlikely that Voldemort will ever even try again.) This protection, while it saved his life, only applies to him, and only protects him from one kind of magical assault.

Harry has had a number of inexplicable bursts of power. I think I have found a common thread. Harry’’s power increases dramatically when someone he loves, or at least cares for, is threatened. I can give several cases:

    • When (near the end of Book 3) Sirius Black was threatened by Snape, he (Snape) was hit by three Expelliarmus spells, cast by Harry, Ron, and Hermione simultaneously. A single Expelliarmus spell would have knocked Snape’’s wand out of his hand. (The HP movies have done very well in depicting this, I think.) Three casts of the same spell should have knocked the wand higher, or further away. Instead:

      There was a blast that made the door rattle on its hinges; Snape was lifted off his feet and slammed into the wall, then slid down it to the floor, a trickle of blood oozing from under his hair. He had been knocked out.
      -pg. 361, Ch. 19, PoA

    • Later, Harry casts a Patronus Charm which drove off more than 100 dementors who threatened to harm himself and Sirius. He did so despite the fact that he had been defeated by the same dementors earlier in the evening. (Le’t’s not get messed up by time travel verb tense issues. From his perspective it was earlier.) The only explanation of why was:

      ““I knew I could do it this time,”” said Harry, ““because I’’d already done it … Does that make sense?””
      -pg. 412, Ch. 21, PoA

  • In Book 5, during the fight at the Ministry of Magic, Lucius Malfoy grabbed Harry from behind. Harry threw the prophecy to Neville:

Malfoy pointed the wand instead at Neville, but Harry jabbed his own wand back over his shoulder and yelled, ““Impedimenta!””  

Malfoy was blasted off his back … he looked around and saw Malfoy smash into the dais … -pg. 804, Ch. 35, OotP

    • Impedimenta should have simply tripped Malfoy or possibly knocked him off his feet, as in the following:

      “”Impedimenta!”” he yelled … his jinx hit one of them, who stumbled and fell …
      -pg. 601, Ch. 28, HBP

      Again a spell that Harry cast had far greater effect than expected.

  • In Book 6, during the fight at the base of the tower after Dumbledore had been killed, Ginny was in combat with Amycus, who was trying to use the Cruciatus Curse on her:

    Amycus was giggling, enjoying the sport: “”Crucio — Crucio — you can’’t dance forever, pretty–””
    Impedimenta!”” yelled Harry.
    His jinx hit Amycus in the chest: He gave a piglike squeal of pain, was lifted off his feet and slammed into the opposite wall, slid down it, and fell out of sight.

    -pp. 598-599, Ch. 28, HBP

The common thread is that Harry is seeking to protect someone else in each case, and that the spell he casts has, for lack of a better term, “excessive force.” Harry is very good at defending himself: His Defense Against the Dark Arts Outstanding O.W.L. was well earned. But he is devastating while defending others — a fact that neither he nor anyone else yet realizes.

The Chosen One

From one point of view, the series has been about Harry learning about the two most powerful Wizards of the age: Voldemort and Dumbledore. In the first two books, Harry learned quite a bit about Voldemort. In the third book he learned that Dumbledore, while not omnipotent, was on his side and a very clever person. In Books 4 and 5, Harry learns of Voldemort’’s schemes, and that Dumbledore is very human, subject to making mistakes. In Book 6 he learns still more about Voldemort’’s past, and Dumbledore prepares Harry for the task of destroying Voldemort. At the end, Dumbledore sacrifices himself to save Harry. Book 7 will therefore be about the destruction of Voldemort and the vindication of Dumbledore. Everything that Dumbledore did will be proven to be inspired, with the sole exception of trusting Snape.

For reasons I laid out earlier, I think that the Death Eaters will attack Fleur and Bill’’s wedding, and I think Harry will finally be outmatched. If my guess is correct, the wedding will occur before Harry’s 17th birthday. For the last few books, Dumbledore has repeatedly made the point that while Harry is at the Dursleys’ and until he is 17, neither Voldemort nor his Death Eaters can harm him. Knowing this fact, I believe that Harry will retreat with all of his friends who survive to 4 Privet Drive to make a stand. If the Death Eaters follow him (as I expect them to do), there will be a very one-sided battle, and the entire wizarding world will know without question that Harry is The Chosen One. Except Snape.

After he figures out that Harry suckered the Death Eaters into a trap, he will no longer fear Harry — because that defense expires on his 17th birthday. Snape’’s greatest failure as a spy for Voldemort is that while he knows Harry is not subtle like Dumbledore, he has never wanted to believe Harry has power — and he heard part of the prophecy himself.

The Difference Between Voldemort and Dumbledore — and Harry

At the end of Book 2, Dumbledore explained that there were similarities between Harry and Tom Riddle. I propose that there are similarities between Voldemort and Dumbledore.

Each is a leading Wizard of the age. Each is the leader of a group of loyal followers who would fight and die for him. Also, each tends to work alone. As far as we know, no one living among Voldemort’’s enemies except Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny (?) know about Voldemort’’s Horcruxes. McGonagall did not (she asked Dumbledore and he refused to tell her), and the Ministry of Magic did not, or else Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic, would not have asked Harry what he and Dumbledore were doing the night Dumbledore died. Slughorn might figure it out, but I doubt it. The memories that would lead him to the truth are too painful for him.

Harry Potter, though underage at the end of Book 6, is/will be a leading Wizard of the age. Harry, too, is the leader of a group of loyal followers. On the other hand, Harry does not work alone. He seeks advice from his friends and tries to make decisions from consensus. Although he has faced Voldemort alone each time they fought, he has never gone to the battle alone. Always he has had friends who went with him willingly, even eagerly.

And Harry has made some powerful friends. The entire Weasley family, except Percy, feel in debt to Harry. He personally saved three, perhaps four, of their lives, and made two of them rich. Molly Weasley looks upon him as if one of her own children. [J.K. Rowling wrote a passage which showed poignantly how Molly Weasley feels about Harry. While she was trying to banish a boggart, Molly saw first her sons, then Harry, dead (pp. 175-176, Ch. 9, OotP). Scenes like this show just why J.K. Rowling is an international bestselling author.] Fred and George are now very wealthy and will provide Harry with anything that money can buy. They are also developing what I expect to be the magical equivalent of armor. Harry will get their very best.

Additionally, the staff at Hogwarts now is solidly behind Harry, including the house elves. The students all know that Harry fought the Death Eaters who killed their Headmaster and let in a werewolf among them. The Order of the Phoenix will fall in behind him too. Each group will come to him when he calls. Even the Ministry may come around. Voldemort, Snape, and the Death Eaters will not face a young wizard all on his own. They will face an army, and Harry will be their Captain –— not a General directing battle from the rear —– but a fellow combatant among them, leading by example.

But first, Harry will have to destroy the Horcruxes. Harry is very much aware that Voldemort has placed powerful curses about his Horcruxes. He knows that one curse nearly killed Dumbledore, leaving him with a withered hand, and another curse did nearly as much damage the night that Dumbledore died. Harry himself nearly died fighting against the Horcrux diary of Tom Riddle. He will not underestimate Voldemort or his Horcruxes. And because he does not operate alone, because he listens to advice, he will bring in a specialist to deal with the curses: Bill Weasley, an experienced Curse Breaker. Fleur, as a friend of Harry and wife to Bill, will insist on coming along as well. Do not underestimate her, for as a Triwizard Champion, she is a world-class witch (compliment intended).
—Philip Hair, Clearwater, Florida, USA