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The Mystery of Aberforth

by David Haber

During the interview after the launch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling said, "There is one member of the Order of the Phoenix that you have not yet met properly, but you will meet them in seven." Is this person Dumbledore's mysterious brother, Aberforth? What do we know about Aberforth, and how is he involved in the story?

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Reader Comments: (Page 5)

I've been thinking about Dumbledore's memory in HBP that he adds to the pensieve via a bottle. It could be that it was actually Aberforth at the time, but I think he's bottled the memories for Harry in case he's not there to show him.

Dumbledore showed Harry crucial memories about the horcruxes, but there is so much other important information for Harry to know.

There could be memories about the night James and Lily were ed, Order of the Phoenix meetings, other confrontations with Voldemort to show his weaknesses.... all to teach Harry in case he's not there.

Posted by Amber from Georgia on February 21, 2007 08:46 AM

I have believed for some time now that Albus and Aberforth traded places and it was Aberforth that went with Harry to get the locket. I believe it was Albus that was talking to Dung, not Aberforth. I think he was there on Order business. I think Albus then left quickly so that Harry did not "recognize" him when their eyes met.

Posted by Michael Brinkley from Oceanside, Ca on February 21, 2007 09:28 AM

why would aberforth be an innkeeper, why not at the school? could it be that he was a squib, so he can't teach? i know, i'm wandering in the dark and are lost, but tell me that you think.

Posted by George from the netherlands on February 21, 2007 10:33 AM

Michael, I love what you said about it maybe being Albus talking with Dung in the alley way. It seems to make sense.

Amber, I too am convinced that the memory in the bottle means something...I just don't know what. I was clinging to the hope that it meant that Albus and Aberforth changed places with polyjuice. Now though, I wonder if it is more along the lines of what you said.

Posted by Kim from Manchester, MA on February 21, 2007 11:37 AM

I like what George is saying...Does anyone know of any evidence in the books that the barman (Aberforth) used magic or anything like that to pour drinks for people?

Posted by Kyle from Kearney, Nebraska on February 21, 2007 11:45 AM

I am a writer and artist. My sister is not. She has no desire to do either. Why would Aberforth be at the school just because Albus is?

Posted by Michael Brinkley from Oceanside, Ca on February 21, 2007 12:11 PM

I would be very surprised if Aberforth was not the character mentioned by Jo as the OOP member that we haven't been properly introduced to.

What do we "know" about Aberfoth?

"Mad-Eye" Moody called him a "strange bloke"
Mad-Eye calling someone strange is odd itself. He's a paranoid dark wizard hunter - anyone who doesn't share his paranoia must seem strange to him. Perhaps Aberforth prefers a simpler existence and chooses to rely on things other than magic or perhaps that is all a ruse.

Even the night when Voldemort was ed, Albus Dumbledore believed the dark lord would return. Certainly even then plans were being made to prepare for that future event. I find it unlikely that Aberfoth is a squib, but probably not nearly as powerful as Albus. This is why I agree with this article that Aberforth is the bartender at Hog's Head. He's in a position to aid his brother Albus at any time and can keep a look out for some of the more roguish witches and wizards by running a pub off the main path. Just like Fluffy and the other enchantments guarded a secret and Book 1, perhaps Aberforth is guarding something just as secret or like was previously suggested he is making bezours in addition to other curse breakers, etc.

I mentioned in a different post that JK only mentions that "Dumbledore" was , but never specifically says "Albus." We also do not know the particulars of Snape's vow, whether he vowed to Albus Dumbledore, or simply to aid Draco in getting the Eaters into Hogwarts. Or was the vow to simply Dumbledore which left it open for interpretation to either brother. Perhaps the two switched places and Albus is now secretly the bartender instead of his brother.

However, I discount the switchero theory simply because I don't believe Albus to be the kind of man to let anyone take his place voluntarily. So unless Aberforth somehow tricked Albus, I do believe that it was Albus Dumbledore who d at the end of HBP. But I do believe the whole was planned by himself and Snape and that somehow Aberforth play an important roll in DH.

Posted by Ryan from New York on February 21, 2007 1:12 PM

The only problem is that J.K. has said she wasn't introducing any new characters to the plot. I think we can kiss the Regulus is alive theory goodbye.
Since we kind of know a bit about Aberforth he may be the one we haven't been introduced to properly.
Also, when J.K. said this it was in response to the question
who is your favorite order member. I think it is strange that she wouldn't say the name but said it is someone you haven't been introduced to properly. Why would she hide saying Aberforth? She could of said Aberforth and you'll find out why or something to this degree. She has answered other significant questions in this manner. An example is when she answered about Sirius's mirror, or if Snape was ever loved.
I think (maybe I am biased towards Snape or hoping he is not evil) it can very well be Snape. This is a character that could be her favorite because (as an author) his complexity is rewarding, and we haven't been introduced to him properly. We know very little concrete information about him. Imagine the interviewer's dismay if J.K. said "Oh Snape is my favorite order member." She has said she values courage above anything, regardless how much of a jerk he is, Snape is very brave.

Posted by Asidi from Ak on February 21, 2007 4:10 PM

Has anyone considered Emmeline Vance as the Order member we get to know better? She was in the original Order and one of Harry's guard out of Privet Drive, then she was "ed" by the Eaters. But remember when Dumbledore was on the tower and was talking to Draco about the Order's ability to hide people? He said they were hidden because they were believed to be already . Amelia Bones (not an Order member?), Emmeline Vance (definitely an Order member), Mr. Olivander (could he have been an Order member?) and Florian Fortesque (not an Order member?) all "d" in book 6. Which ones could the Order possibly have hidden? And, if they were hidden, would they come to Grimwald Place? They would probably be just like Dumbledore doing investigations for the order, possibly searching for clues in LV's past or searching for horcruxes.

Aberforth is interesting and has been mentioned occasionally throughout the books. It seems that he has been watching out for Dumbledore in a brotherly way - passing information when he runs across something interesting, or protecting him from eavesdroppers. I don't know if he has a better chance than any other order member. He hasn't seemed to have formed any bond with Harry - yet.

Posted by Raow from Petaluma, CA on February 21, 2007 5:09 PM

Colleen, the tragic part is that slytherinís locket had been lying around in the Order of the Phoenix headquarters (12 Girimmauld Place) and Dumbledore and the rest of the members of the Order did not even notice what it actually was. How would Aberforth, who is not supposed to be very bright (letís just suppose he isnít because Albus Dumbledore said so), know that the locket was Slytherinís? He probably wouldnít know what a horcrux is.

What I think is that Mundungus owed Aberforth some money or something like that, so when Mundungus showed him the golden locket, Aberforth probably took it not knowing what it was Ė and I donít see any reason why he would have to tell his brother about the locket when he didnít know what it actually was Ė just like Ginny didnít tell anyone about the diary. Although I think Aberforth did inform Albus Dumbledore that Mundungus has been stealing Siriusí stuff.

Posted by Javed from Vancouver, Canada on February 21, 2007 6:29 PM

Just putting my replies to some peopleís posts.

Earlier Dave Porter says about Dumbledore knowing about who was in the bar with voldemort. This I think holds more of a clue than it first seems. How would the bar tender know the names to ALL of the eaters names if voldemort hadnít come out as the Dark Lord and all that (he was really shocked to know that Dumbledore knew of the ď EatersĒ, and he cant have been that feared if he had managed to come into Hogwarts to apply for a job!)
He must have been well connected with Dumbledore to know who they where and who they where with. Also the fact that the information was with Dumbledore so quickly, I mean, I doubt Voldemort hung around for a drink before going to the school! This also suggests something about fawkes being involved, maybe as a messenger.

I do not think that it was Aberforth who went into the cave. Dumbledore showed some incredible magic (finding the door, knowing you had to put blood on it, testing the potion for all of the different things etc etc), and also found the invisible chain, through knowing Voldemort "style". If it was Aberforth, he would have barely met Voldemort. Also I think that it WAS Dumbledore which d on the top of the tower, and that when snape came up to Dumbledore, and Dumbledore was pleading with him, maybe he was pleading with him to him so that he would not be discovered as a double agent. Maybe he still is good yet. Wasnít it him who stopped the others shooting for Harry after that? And didnít he run past all the fighting, he didnít any of them in the fight, nor did he Flitwick, Ginny or Hermione!

As for the comment about dung having to disguise himself, and the bar tender having a "long memory", this is also a clue to it being aberforth. If he was part of the order, then surely he would know dung, so know that he was barred. I know itís a bit weak, but I doubt unless he was somehow linked to dung, he would not remember, wizard or otherwise.

As for the comments about aberforths abilities, it is true, you never hear about him filling glasses with magic, or cleaning them. In HBP you hear about him cleaning the glass with a filthy rag, making it dirtier. Surely if he was a wizzard he would just do it with magic. However, none of this is real evidence. The whole pub is dingy, he may just want to keep with the decor!

About the clues with him not being able to read. I do not think that Dumbledore was joking about this, I think it happened when he was much younger (as children), and he may have been practicing charms on a goat as an underage wizard, hence all the newspaper coverage.

Posted by Joe Templeman from UK on February 21, 2007 6:57 PM

i dont know it might be just me but this phrase from HBP "i sometimes offer rosmerta my customs or else visit the hog's head.. or i appear to." it seems for me that people get the bar man (Aberforth) and albus mixed up so maybe they are twins but almost definitely brothers.

Posted by sew on February 21, 2007 7:44 PM

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