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Why did Dumbledore have James' cloak?

by David Haber

On a new post on her official web site, J.K. Rowling admitted she made a mistake in New York when she was asked, what question have you never been asked that you ought to have been asked? She now says the question should have been, Why did Dumbledore have James' invisibility cloak at the time of James' death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?

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Reader Comments: (Page 39)

It is "returned" to Harry, because all possessions from Lily and James belonged to him, as their only child.

Jo asks us why James gave the cloak to Dumbledore, but unless it is a red herring, the real question is "Why is it important for the plot, that Dumbledore had James' cloak before Harry d?"

Posted by herve from strasbourg on January 29, 2007 12:29 AM

Mistral: you remind us about OotP �Dumbledore released Harry, raised his hand and grasped the phoenix�s long golden tail. There was a flash of fire and the pair of them were gone.� �Where is he yelled Fudge, pushing himself up from the floor.� �Well he can�t have disappeared, cried Umbridge. �You can�t do it from inside this school ��

You've got a very good point I hadn't thought of. Dumbledore must have become invisible (and so did Fawkes), to remain in the office. It's more logical than disapparating in Hogwarts, which is supposed to be impossible.

Then, everybody think he ran out of the office and get away. He stays alone and firmly closes the door. Then, he was just hiding in his office when everybody looked for him outside. I remember that he said somewhere that he would still be here for people who needed it. When Hagrid is fired, he just joins Dumbledore in his office. That would also explain how the office remains closed, and how the silver instruments got repaired and everything in order when Harry came to his office at the end of the book.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on January 29, 2007 07:10 AM

Intuit4fun
We know of another person who wore Harry's Invisibility Cloak.It is none other than our ex-Potions Master Snape!

It can be found in PoA Chapter Eighteen "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs"

He wore it when he entered the "Shreiking Shack" saying: I found this at the base of the Whomping Willow,"said Snape." Very useful, Potter, I thank you..."

The Invisibility Cloak is definitely a Potter family-heirloom which belonged to Harry's father James Potter. We know that James was also in Gryffindor and I presume it would rather be a Gryffindor object than a Ravenclaw.

Herve. A grandiose plan of Dumbledore and it would explain why he was always so well informed and the logical reason Dolores Umbridge couldn't enter his office!

Posted by Mistral from Switzerland on January 29, 2007 10:22 AM

Mistral and Herve,
Brilliant ideas!
The thing is that it would have been easy for J.K. to have written that scene so that Dumbledore would grasp Fawkes tail feather and they would fly out the window into the night.
Why the flash of fire? If Dumbledore made himself invisible, why make Fawkes invisible too? Why grasp his tail? What kinds of magic produce a flash of fire? I suppose floo powder does.
There seems to be something to this scene but I don't see an answer.

Posted by mikey from New Jersey on January 29, 2007 7:59 PM

I believe Professor Dumbledore was in possession of James Potter's invisibility cloak because James and Lily had renounced magic in order to go into hiding in the village of Godric's Hollow. I am wondering if there is some sort of "de-powering" ceremony that takes away the ability to perform magic. It would have been at such an event that Dumbledore would have collected the Potter's magical implements: Wands, cloaks and other sundry items. In book six�and probably before that�an allusion is made to the fact that the presence of magic can be felt or sensed; Dumbledore says to Harry (in Half-Blood Prince, chapter 26) that the watery cave had "known magic." Harry is shivering either from the cold or from his "same awareness of enchantments" � he doesn't know which; I suspect the latter. Later in the chapter, Dumbledore intones, "Magic always leaves traces,... sometimes very distinctive traces." So, in order to truly be undetectable as they were hiding out in Godric's Hollow, the Potters would have needed to banish even the slightest trace of enchantment from the vicinity. By the way, I wouldn't be surprised if Aunt Petunia has her sister's wand. Yes! Lily put a charm on it before giving it to Petunia as a parting gift! Just wave it in a sweeping motion around each room in your house and voila! Petunia may be a freak-hating muggle, but I don't think she'd turn down a gift like that!

Posted by Cielle from Compton, CA on January 29, 2007 10:27 PM

I thought again about Dumbledore becoming invisible in his own office and it really makes sense:
(1) He told Harry that he was able to do so (in PS/SS).
(2) He asked McGonagall (or somebody else?) to act as if there had been no time spent while the aurors, Fudge and Umbridge were lying on the floor. This way, they wouldn't react as if he was hiding somewhere in his office.
(3) He said he wouldn't go to Grimmauld Place, which was the easiest place to hide and get help from OotP members.
(4) He said he would not hide himself.
(5) The best place to hide something is often the most obvious. Who would search him in his own office?
(6) There, he could still communicate with OotP members (he said he knew how) and he could get food from the house-elves. It seems logical that house-elves were still devoted to Dumbledore, since nobody told them to do else (and Umbridge would certainly not speak to them).
(7) That doesn't mean Fawkes was still with him, because as a phoenix, he is not restricted by the anti-apparating spells existing at Hogwarts. The crack mentioned in the book can be Fawkes disappearing, while at the same time Dumbledore got himself invisible. He grasped the tail to be sure he would get invisible exactly at the same time Fawkes disappeared. For everybody (including us), both moves were related, but they could be related in , in time and not in space (Fawkes getting away while Dumbledore stayed there invisible).

Now, the way Dumbledore gets himself invisible is really meaningful. What if he did it more than twice? It is obvious he wasn't there in the cemetary at the end of GoF, but how can we be sure he wasn't there in the Chamber of Secrets, in the room where Harry met Quirrel and even in Godric Hollow when Lily and James were ed?

Posted by herve from strasbourg on January 30, 2007 03:06 AM

Has anyone made the association with Fawkes' name and Guy Fawkes? Fawkes the Phoenix which resurrects from his own ashes and Guy Fawkes Day where they burn effigies of Guy Fawkes.
On the night of November 5th, throughout Britain, we commemorate the capture of Guy Fawkes with bonfires and fireworks, and by burning an effigy of Guy.

Posted by Chris Robinson from Tarpon Springs, FL on January 30, 2007 07:03 AM

Well, if Dumbledore had only made himself invisible, then why did the pictures of the past Headmasters/mistresses ask Harry (after the battle at the Ministry when Dumbledore sent Harry back to his office to wait his arrival) if that meant that Dumbledore was returning, as it had been dull without him?
And if I am not wrong.. When Dumbledore did 'escape' the aurors, the Minister of Magic and Delores Umbridge, didn't the Minister remain behind in Dumbledore's office and the portraits were saying that Dumbledore had style or something like that..
The office of course could have an enchantment on it where as it not open unless Dumbledore is actually IN the office. Because when Harry gets back to Dumbledore's office remember, he TRIES to leave, but he is not permitted to open the door.

In regards to the MEANS of disappearance Dumbledore used with Fawkes... In CoS, when Fawkes appeared to assist Harry, he also APPEARED in the same manner with which he disappeared in OotP. (page 315 COS) "Then, as the music reached such a pitch that Harry felt it vibrating inside his own ribs, flames erupted at the top of the nearest pillar. A crimson bird the size of a swan had appeared, piping its weird music to the vaulted ceiling." (page 622 OOTP) "Dumbledore realeased Harry, raised his hand, and grasped the phoenix's long golden tail. There was a flash of fire and the pair of them had gone." So this flash is not the use of any potion or different spell, it is just the manner with which Fawkes appears/disappears.
It is also mentioned on the same page in OOTP that Dumbledore IS leaving (not just becoming invisible). Page 622 "Oh no," said Dumbledore with a grim smile. "I am not leaving to go into hiding. Fudge soon wish he'd never dislodged me from Hogwarts, I promise you...."

Posted by terri from ohio on January 30, 2007 09:01 AM

I think aunt Petunia was secretly visiting lily at home the night Voldamort attacked. James threw the cloak over her and pushed her out of the house telling her to go to DD and tell him what had happened. Ergo.....Petunia Knows more than she is letting.

Posted by abbisnan from london on January 30, 2007 2:03 PM

I have a farfetched theory

we know that dumbledore play a huge part in DH (7th book) thanks to J.K. We also know that dumbledore is the only one that could see harry through the invisibility cloak so what if whenever harry wears the invisibility cloak dumbledore could contact him or see him.

Maybe dumbledore can see through it becasue James asked dumbledore to keep it and put a charm or something on it that would allow him to see through it. Maybe half-moon glasses can see though it. Who knows?

Here's a more logical theory.

What if dumbledore himself is a phoenix or something of that sort. We know that when dumbledore was hit by the avada kedavara curse he didn't like a normal person. We also know that at the time of his burial his coffin burst into flame. Who or What do we know that bursts into flame when it s? PHOENIX

So maybe dumbledore is a phoenix and is going to come back but in phoenix form. Also we knew that dumbledore was getting old and that Phoenix's tend to when they get old (so does everybody) so dumbledore saw his coming and then used that as an advantage to make sure that LV trusted snape when snape ed him.

Posted by Roy Halladay from Toronto on January 30, 2007 2:53 PM

I don't know why Dumbledore had the invisibility cloak and I don't know where the importance in it lies (wish I did!)

I do know that James Potter was a man walking - he was going to , no two ways about it and I also know Lily could have walked away (ok yes as a mother NEVER in a million years is she going to abandon her baby son, but hey Voldemort is not known for his understanding of love).

So why was James a man walking? Is there a reason when after hearing the prophecy (and don't you find it odd that there is a real probability that Snape heard it all yet he only told Voldemort half of it...) Voldemort chose Harry over Neville? Did perhaps James Potter do something that Voldemort wanted revenge over - or was it at the request of Snape that James and Lily be left?

Was Snape there that night? Was he there under the cloak being out for Snape? I suspect Snape wanted Voldemort for his own reasons, I suspect Snape purposely only told Voldemort half the prophecy so that Voldemort would go tearing off to this threat before it grew up and tried to him - Snape knew he would fail but perhaps Snape knew nothing of the Horcrux. Maybe, Snape asked Volemort to not Lily (personal favour?) but do away with James (a James who had perhaps done something to incur the wrath of the dark lord). A plan that ultimately went terribly wrong.

There is an alternative, what if Dumbledore was there? What if Dumbledore was there and unable to help yet heard or saw it all? In HBP in the cave whilst Dumbledore is drinking the potion he starts to come out with fits and bursts of speech inbetween HArry feeding him the potion. TAking away the inbetweens it pretty much reads

"I don't want... Don't make me..."
"...don't like... want to stop..."
"No..."
"I don't want to... I don't want to... Let me go..."
"Make it stop, make it stop"
"No, no, no, no, I can't, I can't, don't make me, I don't want to..."
"It's all my fault"
"Please make it stop, I know I did wrong, oh please make it stop and I'll never, never, never again..."
"Don't hurt them, don't hurt them, please, please, it's my fault, hurt me instead..."
"Please, please, please, no...not that, not that, I'll do anything..."
"No more, please no more..."
"I want to ! I want to ! Make it stop, make it stop, I want to !"
"KILL ME!"

Ramblings of a man being poisoned? Or vocalisation of Dumbledore's memory - a memory of a person who in turn is placed under the Imperius curse (and fights against it), the Crucio curse (please make it stop), then begs as it is all their fault - begs the person not to hurt 'them', again is under the crucio curse until begging to ?

Is it possible James Potter was tortured before ? Did Dumbledore see it?

Posted by Orlando from England on January 30, 2007 3:20 PM

I think if Dumbledore was there at Godric Hollows, he would have been hidden somewhere, and wouldn't have made the slightest move to save James or Lily.

Dumbledore's aim was defeating Voldemort and saving the world from him. James and Lily knew pretty well that being in the Order of the Phoenix was risking one's life from day to day. And they chose it. Dumbledore wouldn't have interfered because he knew the prophecy and that interfering could help Voldemort in some way. In fact, the prophecy had to be fulfilled and we know now that Lily's was necessary.

But of course, he might feel some remorses from what he had done.

To Terri: you have a good point about the portraits, I would have to figure that one out; about Fudge, he clearly stood a bit longer in the office, but he obviously left it (he definitely was not there when Umbridge tried to step in); about Fawkes: that is the way he disappears and appears, but the fact Dumbledore grasped his tail doesn't mean he went away with Fawkes; about leaving: he is leaving as a headmaster ("dislodged") but like Trelawney, he could leave and stay at Hogwarts; notice he doesn't say "leaving Hogwarts".

Posted by herve from strasbourg on January 30, 2007 11:38 PM

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