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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 44)

You might be right about the cloak being more important than it's been mentioned in the book. But then, why would it be a horcrux? If so, who did James, Dumbledore, or Gryffindor, as you said in the article, to make the horcrux? Having info. from the book, I truly doubt that one is sufficient to create 1 horcrux. I think it should be more cruel and evil than 1 . If so, who (definitely more than 1 person) did either of them possibly ?

Posted by Francis from New York NY on February 6, 2007 9:39 PM

One of the things I like about this site is the agreement that JKR doesn't write something for nothing. In the beginning of the HBP we see 2 sisters meeting in secrecy without the rest of the families knowing about it. This would be a great hint that Lily and Petunia were also meeting secretly (without Vernon's knowledge). That is why Petunia snapped at Vernon a quick and absolute "No" in the beginning of the first book when Vernon asks her if she had contacted her sister (Lily) lately. She was hiding something.

I still think there is a memory vial under the creaky step at the Dursley's, and here is why it is there. Petunia was visiting the Potters on the night they were ed. Dumbledore arrives very shortly after they were ed and takes the memory from Petunia and then modifies her memory, but with instructions to hide the memory vial somewhere in her house. He also implants a memory in her to take care of her nephew so no harm comes to him ("remember my last"). He then sends Petunia back home and keeps the invisibility cloak. Hagrid is alerted and arives before Sirius, who lends his flying motorcycle to Hagrid and then takes off for Petigrew. That is how Dumbledore ends up with the invisibility cloak. I still think he then lent it to the Longbottoms next to help hide Neville, since Dumbledore did NOT know which boy the prophecy meant. This is why Dumbledore and Hagrid did not arrive at the same time on Privet Drive to deliver Harry to the Dursleys. I could add more But I await comments on this line of thought before doing so.

Posted by Dave Porter from New Mexico, USA on February 6, 2007 9:45 PM

Referring again to the theory that the cloak had been used for Neville Longbottom.. The torture of the Longbottoms, I believe, was AFTER the fall of Voldemort when Bellatrix and her group are searching for Voldemort and torture the Longbottoms in an effort to obtain information on where Voldemort is so that they can help restore him.

The Cloak if used by the Longbottoms to shield Neville would not have been 'left in my posession' for Dumbledore, it would have been left with the Longbottoms.

However, as long as we are on the subject of Neville. Have you all noticed how his symptoms of poor memory are constantly brought up? They are so very similar to Bertha Jorkins and her severely modified memory from massively powerful memory charms put upon her by Barty Crouch to cover up evidence of events she had witnessed.

I have been convinced that we are going to find out in the next book what it was that has been modified in Neveille's memory and why, but that it has anything to do with the cloak would surprise me. Indeed, the exact wording of Dumbledore's statement leads me to believe that my thought that Petunia could have been concealed under it the night of the is hoplessly far fetched in light of that clue.

Posted by Charlie Tarbox from Gettysburg, Pa on February 6, 2007 10:57 PM

Michael Brinkley,

Excellent point about the portraits.

Regarding Petunia's knowledge of Voldemort and reaction to finding out he is back: As a mother, I think Lily would have asked Petunia to take in Harry should something happen to her and James. Anyone who was in the Order would have been in danger, but as Muggles, Lily might have considered the Dursleys safer ground for Harry. I bet she never thought they would confine him under the stairs and half starve him.
Dumbledore knew of the prophecy before Harry was born. He knew which babies and families to keep an eye on. I am sure the parents were warned to take all precautions to protect their children. Neville's gran raised him, and Harry was to go to family also. I am sure that Lily told Petunia enough of Voldemort and the risk to the Potters that when Dumbledore wrote the letter he left with Harry on the doorstep, he was merely updating Petunia with the news that the Potters had been attacked and reminding her that she was a blood relative and that she was Harry's best protection. Harry was 15 months old when his parents d, so Lily had probably contacted Petunia much earlier. Knowing Petunia, she had probably put the whole conversation out of her mind as soon as possible, so when Harry showed up on her doorstep she was very much surprised to see him.
I am still wondering how Sirius knew about Godric's Hollow. I thought he had convinced the Potters to use Pettigrew, so he would not know of their location. Pettigrew, the Potters or Dumbledore had to have told Sirius of their location. I think that only leaves Pettigrew because as Secret Keeper only he could tell the secret. Can those who are hidden also reveal the location?

Posted by Patricia Mortimer from Quincy,Massachusetts on February 7, 2007 06:04 AM

to answer your last question "Can those who are hidden also reveal the location?" the answer is NO.

on JKR's officicial site she explains this in the answer to her poll quesition---what happens to a secret when secret keeper s?

This statement is found at the end: "In other words, a secret (eg, the location of a family in hiding, like the Potters) is enchanted so that it is protected by a single Keeper (in our example, Peter Pettigrew, a.k.a. Wormtail). Thenceforth nobody else – not even the subjects of the secret themselves – can divulge the secret. Even if one of the Potters had been captured, force fed Veritaserum or placed under the Imperius Curse, they would not have been able to give away the whereabouts of the other two. The only people who ever knew their precise location were those whom Wormtail had told directly, but none of them would have been able to pass on the information."

Therefore, a you can know the location if the secret keeper reveals it to you, but you can never tell anyone else about it.

Once the secret Keeper s, all who had been told can still remember, but they can never divulge the information to anyone else.

You do raise a good question, though---how did Sirius or anyone for that matter find the Potters?

Posted by Heather from NJ on February 7, 2007 10:24 AM

Heather: Michael Brinkley brought the idea up with the Portraits. It is a excellent idea but we should remember that even though Dumbledore wanted to make himself available to be the Potter's Secret Keeper, Lily and James chose Sirius/Pettigrew.

What I could imagine is, that these "fascinating silvery instruments" on Dumbledore's table, may have acted as an alarm bell! So far we are not told what they do and how they work! Assuming they started to fume, this being a sign of danger - Dumbledore could of sent a "ghost" over to the Potter's hiding place to check on them. Unfortunately we have no clue if ghost's are immune against the Fidelius Charm!

Since it was Sirius plan to change places with Peter Pettigrew, I still believe that he knew the Potter's whereabouts. It's not so that they distrusted their best friend!

Posted by Mistral from Switzerland on February 7, 2007 11:41 AM

Elizabeth and Mistral,

i guess you are both right about Sirius knowing where the Potters were hiding. I had always assumed that no one but Pettigrew knew where they were. When you think about it, it was the perfect set up on Pettigrew's part if Sirius was assumed to be the Secret Keeper and also knew of the location. Sirius was a sitting duck waiting to be betrayed.

Posted by Patty from Quincy,Massachusetts on February 7, 2007 1:03 PM

Cloak for Neville theory – The Longbottoms were tortured after the fall of Voldemort but Dumbledore discovered that Neville was a possible target the same time that he found out about Harry being a possible target. It is possible that at that time James gave the cloak to Dumbledore to give to the Longbottoms. There have been many times where I have wanted to give something to someone, but was not able to get in touch with them. So I asked someone else to make a delivery for me. At which point I left the item in the possession of one person to give to another.

Once the Potters d, if the Longbottoms had the cloak, they would still have it since there was no longer anyone to give it back to. They would have had it later on when the eaters attacked them and could have used it to protect Neville. Once the Longbottoms were no longer of sound mind and Neville was no longer in danger, Dumbledore could have retrieved the cloak to keep it safe. It was, after all, a rare and valuable item.

I am not saying that I think this is what happened. But, at the same time I can not rule it out. It is a sound theory.

Posted by Michael Brinkley from Oceanside, CA on February 7, 2007 6:13 PM

I think the question of how Sirius, Hagrid, Dumbledore, etc. knew where the Potters were can be answered by asking “what exactly was the secret that was hidden inside Peter Pettigrew”. Everyone seems to assume that the Fidelius Charm caused the Potters’ house in Godric’s Hollow to be hidden, when the evidence that Jo gives us would indicate that the Potters themselves were what was actually hidden. Flitwick explains:

“As long as the Secret Keeper refused to speak, You-Know-Who could search the village where Lily and James were staying for years and never find them, not even if he had his nose pressed against their sitting room window.” I believe the wording here is an important thing.

If we assume that the secret “the Potters are hidden in a house in Godric’s Hollow” causes the house to be hidden, why wouldn’t Flitwick have said “not even if he had passed the house a hundred times” or something like that? How could anyone press his/her nose against a sitting room window if they can’t find the house? The only argument I can find for the house itself being hidden is the fact that the only other secret we know about that has a Secret Keeper is the OOP’s headquarters, which is hidden.

But we are told that there are many enchantments on the place; I don’t think (unless I’ve missed it) that the book says explicitly that the Fidelius Charm is what causes the house itself to be hidden. In fact, Sirius states that his Father put a charm on the house to make it Unplottable, like the Durmstrang Magical Institute. The Fidelius charm is what causes the order to be hidden, not the house.

The house exists in a muggle residential area and it is a rather large structure. The Order just recently started using it. If something that large were to suddenly not be visible by muggles it would be noticed. This would indicate that it has been invisible for a very long time.

So, this would suggest that the secret hidden inside Pettigrew was that the Potters were at a certain house in Godric's Hollow. As long as he kept that secret the Potters would not be found. Anyone could walk into the house and stand right in front of the Potters and not see them.

The Fidelius charm only keeps the secret, it does not wipe the knowledge from those that already know; Dumbledore and Sirius knew before the Fidelius Charm was performed that the Potters were planning to hide in Godric’s Hollow. Neither could have told anyone else because of the charm. But once the house no longer existed and the Potters were no longer hiding there, the charm was broken. Dumbledore was then free to tell Hagrid exactly where they were in order to protect Harry.

Posted by Amy Brinkley from Oceanside, Ca on February 7, 2007 6:44 PM

Amy Brinkley, I really like your explanation as to how Dumbledore and Sirius would be able to find the Potters. You may be right.

Michael Brinkley, your theory about the portraits really works. I always wondered how Dumbledore knew what had happened that night even thought he wasn't there. I supppose his own portrait could have been witness.

Mistral, I had forgotten that James and Sirius had the mirrors. great point. So, that even though the Potters were hidden, they could still be in touch with Dumbledore an Sirius.

And Lastly, Dave Porter, I think you certainly found some good evidence for Lily and Petunia to have been meeting in secret. I too thought her reactions to Vernon were very defensive in the first book. It certainly did seem like she was hiding something. But, I think you found a clue that we were looking for---the fact that Narcissa and Bellatrix were also meeting in secret! Thanks!

Posted by Heather from NJ on February 7, 2007 8:00 PM

Patty and Heather: you must be right. Pettigrew knew the location. Sirius knew it because obviously Pettigrew told him. And Dumbledore and Hagrid didn't know it: they would have known it from Pettigrew and guessed that Pettigrew was the secret keeper.

Hagrid could get near Godric's Hollow, for he knew the location, but he couldn't get inside Godric's Hollow and find Harry. Only Sirius could find Harry (by the way, Hagrid said that Godric's Hollow looked like ruins, but wouldn't it appear that way only because it was under the Fidelius Charm; I remember that when Dumbledore met Slughorn, his house looked devastated, although it was a nice Muggle's house).

Posted by herve from strasbourg on February 8, 2007 01:06 AM

Amy, the Potters couldn't be hidden by Fidelius. If they had been able to do so, obviously they would have extended the Charm on Harry. In that case, nobody could see Harry any more.

Coming back to what Flitwick says, I think he means that one could see the house as usual, but the real house with the Potters inside would be somehow in another dimension, unaccessible. The house could still appear to be there: unplottable doesn't mean invisible.

In fact, I have some hard time figuring how Hagrid could manage to retrieve Harry if the house was still unplottable. I had thought that maybe the Fidelius ended up because James d.

Anyway, it looks like Dumbledore didn't care about knowing the location (he didn't ask Sirius). Wouldn't the cloak act as a Portkey between Dumbledore's office and Godric Hollow, working like the one we saw at the end of OotP? That way, Dumbledore could get there, invisible, that famous night, and see some interesting things.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on February 8, 2007 07:08 AM

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