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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 45)

Herve � The Potters were hidden by the Fidelius charm. That is clearly stated in the books. There is no question about that. Harry was also hidden by the Fidelius charm. Once someone knows the secret, however, the charm does not affect them. Pettigrew told Voldemort the secret. At that point, Voldemort was able to see the Potters, including Harry and proceeded to attack them.

The Potter house was not Unplottable. Number 12 Grimmauld Place is Unplottable. Anyone at all could see the Potter house and it was the actual house. The �only� things that were hidden were the Potters themselves. The secret was that they were hiding at that location. As long as they were at that location no one could see them that did not know the secret. If they left that location, they could be seen. That is how the Fidelius charm works.

Also, Pettigrew didn�t have to tell Sirius or Dumbledore where the Potters were because they already knew. James and Lily were not hiding from them. I suspect several people, probably most of the Order of the Phoenix (maybe even Hagrid) knew where they were hiding but they could not have revealed the secret even if they wanted to. The Fidelius charm would have made sure of that. Hagrid would have been able to see Harry if he already knew the secret.

It is also possible that once the house was destroyed the charm was broken because the location they were hiding in no longer existed, therefore the secret was no longer true. So if Hagrid did not know the hideout before hand, there would be nothing keeping those that knew it from telling him.

Something else that we need to keep in mind. That charm was very short lived. As soon as Pettigrew was made the secret keeper he went straight to Voldemort and told him. Voldemort then made his attack as soon as possible.

It is possible that they could have been in hiding for a few days under the charm, but I suspect it was more like a few hours at most.

Posted by Michael Brinkley from Oceanside, Ca on February 8, 2007 09:20 AM

Don't forget Herve, Hagrid was ALREADY at Godric's Hollow when Sirius arrived on his Motorbike! If we take Hagrid's word for granted ( and we know that Hagrid is a chatterbox) he tells Madam Rosmerta in "The Tree Broomsticks":

"It was me what rescued Harry from Lily and James's house after they was ed! Jus' got him outta the ruins, poor littel thing, with a great slash across his forehead and his parents ..."

It was the other way around how I understand it - Sirius was FIRST the Potter's Secret Keeper and it was HIS idea to change places with Pettigrew, and not the other way! Also, Pettigrew did not tell Dumbledore that he was the NEW Secret Keeper. Otherwise Dumbldore would have KNOWN that Wormtail had betrayed Lily and James.

Dumbledore only found the truth out when Sirius Black was held captive in Professor Flitwick's office, after Snape brought Harry, Ron, Hermione and Sirius back to the school (POA)!

More and more I quite think that the famous "Invisibility Cloak" was needed to enter the destroyed house in Godric's Hollow! We are told by Jo that the Cloak was a Potter family heirloom.No doubt, there exists a possibility, that it is a magical object from Gryffindor!

Is it not queer that Harry doesn't seem to be able to "loose" the Invisibility Cloak"? Whenever he "forgets" the Cloak, no matter where, the mantle finds mysteriously the way back to his owner! As if it wants to be found......

Posted by Mistral from Switzerland on February 8, 2007 10:07 AM

Dumbledore did say that he thought the sword was the only remaining item of Godric Gryffindor, BUT he was WRONG! The sorting hat was Godric Gryffindor's. In one of the songs it sings it says that Godric Gryffindor pulled the hat from off his head to make the sorting hat so that the founders would have a way of placing people in their houses. Just goes to show that as brilliant as Dumbledore was he was not always completely correct. The relevant part is directly quoted below:

Yet how to pick the worthy ones
When they were and gone?

'Twas Gryffindor who found the way,
He whipped me off his head
The founders put some brains in me
So I could choose instead!

Posted by K from Ark on February 8, 2007 12:45 PM

Michael, I like the idea that the secret was just the link between Godric's Hollow and the Potter family, and not the Potter family, or the location of the house. But the charm must have been broken somehow, because in PoA, Sirius and Hagrid are able to speak about the Potter and Godric Hollow. Maybe, as you said, destroying the house broke the Charm.

I'm still pretty much intrigued by what happened on that famous 1st of november: Sirius said he hurried to Godric Hollow on the evening of october 31st, straight from Pettigrew's and found Lily and James (he didn't mention Harry, nor Hagrid); Hagrid said he retrieved Harry from the ruins, and Sirius appeared on his motorcycle (was it really Sirius?); the next morning, at 8.30 am, several wizards already knew that Harry survived and Mc Gonagall knew that Dumbledore planed to leave Harry at Privet Drive; Hagrid only came at Privet Drive around midnight, november 1st, more than 24 hours after Sirius first got to Godric Hollow. How did he take care of Harry during one day, without using charms (he his not allowed to)? Why didn't Dumbledore and Hagrid left Harry on the first night, or at least during the morning of november 1st: writing a letter shouldn't be that long, and I suppose the motorcycle would have got there in less than a couple of hours.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on February 9, 2007 12:51 AM


I like your idea of the cloak being a portkey, but doesn't that defeat the purpose of the Secret? If someone can get to a Secret place just by getting hold of a portkey, that's not so Secret after all. I think Dumbledore had immense respect for magic and would not sidestep something like the Fidelius Charm.
My first thought is that James would have wanted Harry to have all of his possessions, so he entrusted his cloak to Dumbledore in case they didn't survive when they knew Voldemort would be coming after them. But maybe the reason was to keep the cloak from someone else.
Also, why not just put the cloak in Gringott's with Harry's gold? Maybe Dumbledore had a specific use for the cloak. I know Dumbledore didn't need the cloak to become invisible, but while protecting Harry someone else might need it and Dumbledore was the middleman.

Posted by Patty from Quincy,Massachusetts on February 9, 2007 06:11 AM

Thanks for clueing me in on the origins of the cloak.

So I have another set of questions. Does the cloak only make wizards invisible or squibs and muggles as well? Could it make any life form invisible? Could the cloak make any object invisible?

Posted by Mikey from New Jersey on February 9, 2007 06:58 AM

Patty: I'm not so sure that would destroy the purpose of the secret. Remember that 12, Grimmauld Place was under secret. But Nigellus could get there through his portrait and find Sirius. Did Dumbledore reveal the secret to Nigellus? Didn't he do so, would it forbid Nigellus to go to his other portrait? I think it pretty much depends on the Charm you make. In the Unbreakable Vow, words are carefully chosen. I suppose the Fidelius Charm (which is told to be very complex) would need appropriate wording to describe the secret.

And if the Portkey only operated from Dumbledore's office, it was no big risk.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on February 9, 2007 10:05 AM

Mikey from New Jersey
Intriguing question, if a Invisibility Cloak hides only wizards.

One thing is sure, the Cloak hid the crate where Hagrid had put "Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback", to bring him up to the highest tower ( Astronomy Tower?) of the Castle, back in PS.

I have always believed a Invisibility Cloak hides everything from a wizard, muggles to all kinds of objects.

Posted by Mistral from Switzerland on February 9, 2007 10:40 AM

i think that Invisibility Cloaks do work on everything because if you refer to GoF pg. 690 american--
"What did you do with the body?" "Carried it into the forest. Covered it with the Invisibility Cloak."
So if Barty Crouch Jr. can cover a body, couldnt he cover a Muggle or a Squib? and Squibs can see dementors, i was under the impression that they could do things like see threstrals if they watched someone , basically everything a normal wizard or witch could do. except like spells and potions and stuff
and also in Sorcerers Stone, the trio covers lanterns with the Invisibility Cloak in the movie. not sure about the book though....?

Posted by Ashley from Missouri on February 9, 2007 1:45 PM

The thought that James Potter having a Horcrux is impossible. To get a Horcrux you have to someone to split your soul and I don't think James Potter would do that so yeah that is a good theory that Harry and James are a descendent of Godric Gryffindor but the theory of James having a horcrux is very unlikely.

Posted by Jessica from Oregon on February 9, 2007 7:28 PM

Ashley, a squibb cannot see a dementor. I found this on JKR's official website in her extras section where she was talking about sqibbs. "Incidentally, Arabella Figg never saw the Dementors that attacked Harry and Dudley, but she had enough magical knowledge to identify correctly the sensations they created in the alleyway."

As for the cloak, I think the invisibility cloak would cover everything---wizards, muggles, and objects (both magical and non-magical). Many of us have theorized that Aunt Petunia was under that cloak at some point.

Posted by Heather from NJ on February 9, 2007 7:54 PM

I think it isn't a Horcux of James because Harry and James are known to be 'noble' people. It could be one of Godric Gryffindor, however. Maybe you see Godric at Godric's Hollow?

Posted by Joanna Crabtree from St Albans, S/E England on February 10, 2007 05:32 AM

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