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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 49)


Your comments about the Bond of Blood are great and very meaningful. If the spell requires all three things to operate, then PETUNIA AND DUMBLEDORE were involved before Voldemort made his curse on Harry. I don't think that left Dumbledore time enough to negociate with Petunia. But who said that Petunia promised anything to Dumbledore? What if she did an Unbreakable Vow with Voldemort, about taking Harry as her own child?

It makes sense if Voldemort considered Harry as the next to be Voldemort, fifty years younger, the nicer way of being immortal. Voldemort's plan would have been:
(1) Get inside Harry's house, James (produce his sixth Horcrux?)
(2) Persuade Lily that she would raise Harry as her son, even if Harry's soul was to be replaced by Voldemort's soul.
(3) Insert in Harry's body the scar with Voldemort's soul ("he marked Harry as his equal"), then expell Harry's soul from Harry's body, and take possession of Harry's body.

Since Lily refused, he had to change his mind and asked Petunia to take Harry as her own son. He probably gave her the choice: to or to accept. Petunia accepted.

What Voldemort didn't know is that Dumbledore had a way to get to the Potter's house, even though he didn't know the secret: he had the invisibility cloak ACTING AS A PORTKEY. Just before Petunia did the Unbreakable Vow with Voldemort, Dumbledore made a spell to activate the Bond of Blood. Petunia, accepting to take Harry as her own child, sealed the Bond of Blood and gave Harry a strong protection. Nobody understood that, except Dumbledore himself ("but he has a power that the Dark Lord knows not"). Ironically, Voldemort made almost all the work: ing Lily and asking Petunia to seal the Bond.

When Voldemort performed the curse on Harry to retrieve Harry's soul, it fired back and retrieved Voldemort's soul from his own body. The soul remained earthbond, due to the Horcruxes.

We can imagine that, whoever went to Privet Drive asking for Petunia, he changed Vernon's memory. Nobody could change Petunia's memory, but she is probably linked by her Vow to remain silent.

After Voldemort's collapse at Godric Hollow, Dumbledore got Harry to sleep (freezing his vital needs) the same way he did at the end of GoF. He wrote Petunia a letter, in which he explained her the consequences of the Unbreakable Vow she made (her if she talked about it, if she didn't take care of Harry,...). At that time, she was given no choice and she had to rescue Harry. Dumbledore knew that and could leave Harry, still asleep, at her door, protected for the night by a few charms. That would explain all along Petunia's behaviour.

Dumbledore couldn't tell Harry about that, because Harry would have been terribly angry at him, not having saved Lily from Voldemort.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on February 19, 2007 06:37 AM

Really good out of the box thinking there!

But I think that Voldermort really wanted Harry . And not as a horcrux, or a host body. The part of the prophecy that he knew suggested that Harry would be the one with the power to him. And In the graveyard in GOF, Voldermort said:

"You all know on the night that I lost my powers and my body, I tried to him, his mother d in the attempt to save him- and unwittingly provided him with a protection that I admit I had not forseen. I could not touch the boy. His mother left upon him traces of her sacrifice, This is old magic, I should have remembered it, I was foolish to overlook it."
After this he demonstrated that he could touch Harry, because he had Harrys blood in his veins.

This makes me think that Voldermort NOR Lily realized what her sacrifice meant that night, in to try to save Harry.

I like the idea of Vernon's memory being modified though. And the part of freezing Harry's vital needs, because Hagrid did have Harry for many hours in there on a motorbike apparently, so something had to have been done.

I am leaning toward a theory of this all having been something that Dumbledore had planned. Beacuse he knew the prophecy, and he could have used a time turner, and his brother's help to insure that Snape heard only the first portion of it, Trewlawny could have given it the first time at an entirely different place, with a time turner, he could have manipulated it to conicide with when Snape first came for a job, knowing that Snape would leak that first part to Voldermort, causing him to go after the Potters and try to Harry. It's very odd I always thought that Dumbledore was doing job interviews outside of the Castle. It sounds pretty evil of Dumbledore, but consider it from his perspective, sacrifice the lives of Lily and James and get rid of Voldermort, or have Voldermort continue as he was, and destroy the whole world. Consider too that he may not have suspected the Horcruxes that Voldermort had made yet. That he thought the Bond of Blood done right would Voldermort that night.

Dumbledore is the only one here who says that he remembered the ancient magic. JKR said there were obiviously prior letters between Dumbledore and Petunia. It makes the most sense to me that she went with him that night under the invisibility cloak. Dumbledore easily could have used a time turner after Lily Died, to go and get Petunia and have her there, he easily could have created a diversion to keep Voldermort busy until he could cast a quick charm and basically hand Harry over to Petunia. Whom he could have then escorted back home under the invisibility cloak.
Dumbledore ends up with the Invisibility cloak this way...

Posted by Karen from Texas on February 19, 2007 11:32 AM

I'm not so sure Voldemort really wants - and wanted - to Harry. In front of the Eaters, he could have good reasons to conceal his real purpose (for instance, I don't think he revealed anything about the Horcruxes) and pretend to Harry. Remember that Voldemort only heard the first sentence of the prophecy. This sentence refers to two persons, Harry and Neville. Only the second sentence allows us to know that the chosen one is Harry. If Voldemort wants to Harry, why doesn't he try to Neville. If Neville had power to vanquish him, it would be wise to get rid of him. Voldemort and the Eaters don't care about Neville.

About time-turner: I think you should not change the past by using a time-turner, it is too dangerous (Ray Bradbury made a wonderful short-story about that). Harry could save Buckbeak because he didn't see him . The sound of the axe knocking the wood didn't mean , but McNair's anger. He could perform the patronus because he already saw himself do it. When Harry and Hermione came back, they had to be very careful to do things that were in total accordance with what they saw and heard. Hermione stopped Harry when he tried to interfere.

That's why I don't think that Dumbledore could get there, see Voldemort Lily, use a time-turner and get to the past to come back with Petunia. If Petunia was there, I believe it was on Voldemort's demand, even if it seems a little bit absurd.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on February 20, 2007 01:39 AM

About the possibility that Dumbledore used a time-turner (or any other method) to go back in time: On her website under "Rumours", Jo has stated "I've also heard a whisper about Ron and Hermione's son time-travelling, so I shall go further and tell you that NONE of the characters in the books has returned from the future."

Posted by Amy Brinkley from Oceanside, CA on February 20, 2007 1:55 PM

Lots of interesting ideas here! It's been great listening to everyone's opinions. I am intrigued with the idea that Harry' invisibility cloak could be tracked. (I can't remember who suggested it, sorry.) When Voldemort took Harry's blood, Dumbledore commented that he (Voldemort) overcame that particular barrier. Dumbledore also wanted Harry to have the cloak with him at all times during HBP. If it was being tracked, he would always know where Harry was, he would be able to tell if he was safe or in danger. Interesting...

Posted by Kim from Manchester,MA on February 20, 2007 2:01 PM


First off, I do not think that Dumbledore ed Lily himself, I think he only allowed Voldermort to her while standing by invisible and doing nothing to try to stop her .

Second, I think he was planning to go and Nelville next. I think the Eaters knew of his plans to both babies, because some of them went and tortured the Longbottoms to insanity looking for information on where Voldermort was that night.

Voldermort only heard, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord Approaches, born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the 7th month s....
So it makes sense he was planning to them both. Leaving either of them alive, even as a Horcrux would have been taking a chance that could come back to bite him.

Also, I do not think that Harry's was reversed. I think Dumbledore watched Lily , and then used the time turner to go back long enough in time to ensure that he could get Petunia in there under the invisibility cloak. Immediately after Lily d, but Voldermort threw the AK Curse at Harry.

Just like I think Harry and Hermonie were able to save Buckbeak because HE had not been ed yet.

I think using the time turner would have served 2 purposes that night. First, Petunia would not have seen him standing by doing nothing while Lily was ed this way, she would have arrived just after Lily d,
Second, it would have allowed Petunia to have been in 2 places at once. Just as Hermonie was able to do with taking the extra classes while using the time turner. It would have been like Petunia never left home all night, she would have been there, taking care of Dudley if he woke up AND in Godric's Hollow both.

I am sure that Dumbledore would have had a false story for Petunia, maybe he sent her an owl telling her that Lily was very ill, please be by the lamp post at 10:PM to be taken to Lily, for instance. Then of course at 10:PM she is told that Voldermort has (unexpectedly) ed Lily and that she must get under the invisibility cloak to come and accept Harry as her own very quickly.

Now we don't know what taking him as her own would have included, maybe as little as having her touch him, while thinking she would accept him. Maybe touching him on the fore head even......

Posted by karen from texas on February 20, 2007 8:23 PM

Karen: nice thoughts, that makes sense. Of course, Voldemort did Lily.

If Dumbledore came back with Petunia, it had to be after the time he left, because if he came earlier, he would have seen himself (or at least, the second coming Dumbledore would have seen Petunia, while the first one didn't see her, which isn't logical). This remark doesn't invalidate your idea, though, if Dumbledore came back just a few seconds after he left (easy for him to tell, using his watch).

About Neville, something bothers me: in GoF and OotP, Voldemort still doesn't know more about the prophecy. He should have asked Wormtail (in GoF) to go and Neville, at Hogsmeade for instance, to make sure this threaten was out. Wormtail clearly didn't try to do so. Even in OotP, in the minister, nobody cares about Neville.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on February 21, 2007 02:32 AM

You are right about that. No attempt has been made to Nelville.

Do we have confirmation that the Longbottoms had defied Voldermort 3 times? Because if they had only defied him twice, up until that night, Nelville would have still been a threat, because in their right minds, they could have defied him the third time, but after that night, Nelville is out of the running for Chosen one, because now his parents are insane, and not likely to defy Voldermort

Or else Voldermort probably just figured it was Harry anyway at first, because the spell did rebound and vanquish him, and by the time he realized why it had rebounded, he may have just been so intent on getting Harry that he forgot about Nelville, who was showing no signs of being able to vanquish anyone.
And with the excitement of getting Wormtail back on board, and the anticiation of the new body and all, I mean, imagine the questions with that one, "Will I still be Hot? Will I be Tall? even a dark lord could lose his head over that one, I mean he probably had to have all new clothes, and just think of the shoe shopping?;) He probably thought, "No way is Wormtail getting a silver hand if I look like a Nerd after this".

Posted by Karen from Texas on February 21, 2007 11:03 AM

JK stated there �IS a significant � even crucial � answer� to why James gave Dumbledore his cloak.

The Potters went into hiding knowing Voldemort would be after them. However, they believed that they would be safe because of the Secret Keeper spell.
I do not believe Dumbledore knew where the Potters were or that Voldemort would find them. His character suggests that he would not stand idely by and let anyone if it could be prevented � even for the greater good.
No one, not even Dumbledore knew who the Chosen One would be. The darklord chose him, when he attacked Harry.
Only Dumbledore knew that love was a powerfully deep and ancient magic, but again he did not have for-knowledge of events.
We know that Voldemort can touch Harry, because Harry�s blood flows in his veins now. The protection Lily gave Harry when she d is now apart of Voldemort.
However, does the cloak contain something of James in it? Not a Horcrux� but some form of ancient magic/love that is passed from father to son throughout the Potter lineage? Lily sacrificed herself to save Harry when Voldemort attacked him, but we have not heard of Jame�s sacrifice. Was there another magic at work that night in the Potter�s house and gave the cloak some as of yet revealed property?

My thought is that, yes, there is some magic at work in the cloak and it is something directly related to James or the Potter family. I do not believe it is some spell or charm that has not manifested itself in 6 years, but something that has subtly been with Harry since the beginning � why else would Dumbledore give it to Harry during his first year? If the cloak would not truly help him until DH or rather when Harry comes of age, then why give it to him so early?

1) Perhaps there is a tracking charm on the cloak that allows someone with the tracker to follow the wearer. It appears that Dumbledore can see through the cloak (POA), but maybe he can sense when that particular cloak is near.
2) Based on the information at hand the giving of the cloak to Dumbledore was Jame�s idea and was for a purpose of his design or something similar.
3) There may be a hidden pocket containing some useful item, etc. We have seen that wizards can fit very large things in seemingly small objects.
4) Still I think the cloak itself is very useful and has aided Harry a great deal during his life. Ron says right away that they are very rare. I�m sure James used it to get in all sorts of trouble and perhaps hoped his son would to. But this leads me back to my earlier point that the Potter�s believed they were safe�

So let�s keep thinking everyone. I believe it has a connection between James & Harry- we�ve seen the power of a mother�s love. A mother protect her children and give her life for them. How about a father�s love? A father stands up to the monster a makes it pay! I see it playing out that somehow James lends his strength to Harry in the final battle with Voldemort giving Harry a SUPER-charged spell that defeats the dark lord forever.

Posted by Ryan from New York on February 22, 2007 09:59 AM

Ryan, that's a decent line of thinking with the question about whether James did some other form of protective magic that involved the cloak. Dumbledore can see the cloak and the cave doorway and other things about the cave because, as Dumbledore says, "Magic always leaves traces of its use". There is probably another spell (or spells) in use on the cloak as well. It does seem that the cloak is returned to Harry no matter where he leaves it, and no one that would put it to bad use finds it.

Posted by Dave Porter from New Mexico, USA on February 22, 2007 7:13 PM

Someone suggested that the cloak could be one of voldemorts horcruxes. THIS IS UNLIKELY, because Moody would have seen voldemort's soul when he saw through the cloak when Harry was wearing it. But of course, i only remember the imposter moody seeing harry wearing that cloak. anyone rememeber the real Moody seeing Harry wearing the Cloak?

Posted by Ayoub from Kuwait on February 22, 2007 11:37 PM

in answer to your question Ayoub, I dont remember the real Moody seeing Harry under the Cloak. But if the Imposter Moody saw it, he probably wasn't stupid enough to mention it, as it would probably jeapordize his mission.

Posted by Ashley from Missouri on February 24, 2007 09:07 AM

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