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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 6)

I think Dumbledore's iron-clad reason for trusting Snape was that he (snape) made the unbreakable promise thingy to protect Harry, just like he made with Draco's mother. Snape has always protected Harry.

Posted by tracy on September 17, 2006 12:23 AM

First of all, I would like to join the condemners of the horcrux theory. Godric, James and Dumbledore are all DEAD and even if they DID a horcrux (which is HIGHLY UNLIKELY), Harry choose not to bring them to life. We get the impression that he has had enough of the adults' "helpful" protection, and wants to save the world on his own.

Second of all, if this cloak was needed to enter Godric's hollow (which is a village and not the Potter's private home), how come Voldemort was able to enter the house without the cloak, when he ed the Potters. Many seem to think that perhaps there was somebody else present that night, but whoever it was it is unprobable they were hiding under the cloak (for sure not Pettigrew or Snape who were still on Voldemort's side). Maybe Sirius, because Hagrid said that he appeared out of thin air on the scene on his motorbike, but that was hours later, so if he was there at the ing, he would have taken Harry before Hagrid got there. He gave Hagrid his motorbike to transfer Harry to the Dursleys, but how did he run way so easily undetected (maybe the cloak?)

We can't assume that Dumbledore didn't know how to become invisible all these years and just when he got James' cloak he figured it out. If this cloak has no magical powers that we don't know of (which I suspect it does, maybe through Lily's Charms experties), couldn't Dumbledore obtain any invisiblity cloak any other way and practise? We have to assume it was intended for someone else - Harry (because it says "returned to you" and not "intended for you").

My speculation is that there is something we don't know about the Potter's past (maybe their profession?), which could make this cloak very important. It could aslo have been used for Petunia's use (the only alive relative of Harry who needs his family for protection until adulthood but we have no record of any magical artifacts in Privet Drive).

JKR has presented questions before, "that no one asked her" and very few, if at all, have foreseen the answers (Horcruxes are familiar?) This seems to be another one of those questions.

Posted by Abi from London, England on September 17, 2006 02:49 AM

First of all, i'd like to agree that no good person,(i.e. Dumbledore, James, Godric Griffindo), would make a horcrux. Because it actually states in the HBP that making a horcrux makes you less human. Meaning you wouldn't care about those that you hurt and that you would be unable to love or feel kindness.

Also, about what everyone says concerning Harry being a descendent of Godric Griffindor, well wasn't there a Black family tree that J.K. Rowling put out for everyone to see. There was a Potter on that tree(I may be wrong ) but if that Potter was James family then all the blacks would be related to GG, and I think that very unlikely seeing how they were all for Voldemort and the Dark Arts and the Pure Bloods.

By the way I saw on here that someone thought James might be the son of Aberforth, Dumbledore's brother, well let me just point out that Albus is Dumbledore's first name so that means Aberforths last name would be Dumbledore too. Therefore James' should be the same. Not to mention that James parents were together during James lifespan. Seeing as how Sirius went to live with them.

One more thing and im done. Concerning the theory that someone else was a Godrics Hollow that night of Voldemorts downfall, I think that is a very creative theory and it actually seems very probable, but some think it may be Sirius, and though that does seem very exciting that Sirius had some other connextion there, I don't think it would be Sirius seeing as how he was sooo upset about James , if he was there don't you think he would help him, or do you really think Sirius would hide while his best friends are ed.

Posted by JMB from NY USA on September 17, 2006 10:59 AM

The wording 'left in my possession' is probably the significant part of this. Ron says the cloaks are (usually) really old and rare, which might lend itself to the theory of James giving it to Dumbledore to keep for protection, as an heirloom.

I'd discount the horcrux theory, simply because it is a part of magic even Voldemort had a problem getting his hands on, and even then not much was known about it because it was too fearful a subject - meaning better wizards wouldn't have used it.

Another thing to keep in mind is Dumbledore's own command to Harry to keep it with him at all times, not because it was valuable in and of itself, but because it was a means of protecting Harry - something James may have had in mind. Given that Voldemort was after them, James may have taken a fatalistic view of his chances and wanted Dumbledore to hold onto something Harry might really need someday, proving James and Lily had implicit trust in the old Hogwarts Headmaster.

As for Godric's Hollow that night, no, Dumbledore could not have removed it then for he wasn't ever there. Sirius was. Hagrid went, on Dumbledore's orders. Voldemort had been there, and Peter had been there. Other than Lily, James, and Harry, that was about it. If Snape had been there on Dumbledore's orders, for by that time he had a reason to side with Dumbledore in order to try to save someone else, he would have been using James' cloak, and I'm not sure that he would, knowing where it came from. Then again, maybe Dumbledore didn't tell him that.

Now that would be an interesting theory.

Unfortunately it doesn't float either, because if Dumbledore had needed it for Snape to use, he would have been asking James for it, so the wording on the note to Harry should have been phrased a little differently. But it does bring up an interesting sideline theory that Voldemort can't see through invisibility cloaks like Dumbledore could.

And maybe that's your answer.

Maybe that's why Dumbledore told Harry to keep it with him in book six...maybe that is the significant thing in all this - a weakness of Voldemort. Maybe that's what James had in mind when he left it with Dumbledore: protection for Harry in the future against what would be his greatest enemy.

Posted by tinhutlady from TX, USA on September 17, 2006 11:48 AM

Lots of interesting theories. I dont believe the cloak is a horcrux because Harry and DD are out to destroy them. The theory about Snape being Harrys dad is interesting, but that would not explain why Harry saw his parents in the graveyard or why his petronus is his fathers. How much longer are we going to have to wait for thei book? This recent mess at the airport means she is close to done. I am anxiously awaiting the new book, even though it is said to know it be the last.

Posted by Jennifer from Ashland , KY on September 17, 2006 12:02 PM

In the OoTP Dumbledore said that he had kept an eye on harry since the time he entered Hogwarts.Perhaps he could do it with the help of the cloak. Who sent the enchanted car at the right moment to save the boys from Aragog?
In the scene of battle between DD and LV in the Ministry of Magic LV proved to be as strong as DD in terms of magic, but spiritually he was MUCH weaker than Dumbledore. Maybe at that moment Dumbledore decideded not to teach Harry magic to help him survive but give him spiritual wisdom. DD was not afraid of because the cloak would show somehow necessary spiritual clues to win LV.

Posted by Dmitriy Fedotov from Ivanovo Russia on September 17, 2006 12:02 PM

I wonder now that we all read like a million times the book, comments and forums... Why did Jo say that, why give us a new clue when we are still craving for more....

Now personally i think that the cloak belongs to raven claw even if James was on griffindor doesnt mean anything, cause if u guys remember Sirius hes family belonged to Slythering all of them except him... Now Dumbledore said that the last thing of Godric Griffindor was the sword... And i dont think that hes wrong.

Now i think that he left that cloak and James told Dumbledore to give it to harry because he knew he need it and not only that it was the last thing of Ravenclaw..

Now I personaly think that Harry is not ready to Fight Voldy, he needs all that has happen to him to make him stronger and better now that hes great friend is ...Now i think that Dumbledore left him something for him to find and unleash that power that Dumbledore sees on harry... the Question is what...

Posted by Joe from San Jose, Costa rica on September 17, 2006 12:32 PM

Hi everyone... lots of great ideas on here! I was wondering about how Dumbledore has used his power of invisiblility? Why does he not use it to watch over Harry more while Harry is in Privet Drive, or did he? Also, how did Lily and James 'thrice defy' Voldemort? Was the cloak part of that? Was Lily aware of the fact that the Marauders could become animals - because when I re-read POA recently, I realised that Dumbledore doesn't appear to have found out about Sirius, James, Wormtail and Lupin's ability to do this until the end of Harry's third year at Hogwart's. Could Dumbledore have been aware of James' cloak being used back when the Marauders were at Hogwarts? Is DD's invisibility itself "crucial" (JKR) or is it just that DD giving Harry back the cloak is so significant? What do you all think?

Posted by Susan from Sydney, NSW, Australia on September 18, 2006 02:15 AM

Hi. During the graveyard battle (GOF) when LVs wand displayed its last several spells, James appeared but LV did not. I suspect that is because LV did not , but James did. If he did, then there was no Horcrux. I don't believe its a horcrux.

We know Snape used the cloak (POA), as well as Hermoine, Ron, Ginny and probably more. We know DD did a full body bind (HBP) while Harry was wearing it, so there is no apparent magic protaction. This would suggest the "crucial" part is a clue to WHY did DD have it instead what is special about it.

It could be an hierloom of CG.

Whatever it is, I am sure this is a clue about WHY DD had which reveal an important bit of information or yield another clue to drive us into greater puzzlement.

Posted by JOHN from RIVERSIDE, CA on September 18, 2006 09:34 AM

I don't think Harry needs the invisibility cloak to go to Godric's Hollow...also, if I remember correctly, there's nothing for him to look at since the house he and his parents were hiding in, was destroyed. (Which brings-up an interesting point...the ing curse doesn't destroy buildings or just s and leaves no WHO destroyed the house?) Hagrid? to make it look like a gas-main erupted? Or Sirius? And WHO took Harry from the site and where was he taken? We think Hagrid...did Dumbledore give him the cloak to protect Harry? Actually, Jo has opened the door to a myriad of possibilities and although there're fun to speculate-on but we won't know until the last book.

Posted by Dee from Bolivia, NC on September 18, 2006 10:16 AM

It's highly unlikely that the cloak IS a horcrux, seeing as how all involved with the discussion in HBP (DD and Slughorn in particular) identified it as one of the most heinous pieces of evil that one could commit (real magic being all about sanctitiy of life, etc). So even though they COULD make one, highly unlikely that either James or DD would do so.

Best bet is that it is the *other* Gryffindor relic (the sword being the first).

Posted by Lynn from Philadelphia, PA on September 18, 2006 10:55 AM

It�s been interesting and enjoyable reading these posts. It�s the first I�ve been able to follow from the beginning.

No one but Pettegrew and, and I assume Dumbledore, would have known the location of the Potters, not Sirius (who admitted that by passing the duty on to Pettegrew) nor Snape, so no one should have been at Godric Hollow until after the Potter�s unless sent there by LV. (I originally thought maybe Hagrid had been using the cloak as a guard for the Potters but then he would have known their location and well Hagrid hasn�t shown much ability to keep a secret.)

Did the Potter�s feel save enough in their secret keeper status to not need the protection the cloak would provide them so left it with Dumbledore for safe keeping in that it was �really rare�? Or wouldn�t it be a real benefit to Harry where he the only Potter so survive an attack by LV? If the Potters knew of the prophecy, if they knew they were so high on LV�s hit list, if they knew of and were planning on using the special type of ancient magic that would protect Harry upon their being attacked, then they would have wanted to provide everything they could for Harry�s future safety including the protection the invisibility cloak would provide. As parents they would have been ing to do everything they could to keep their son alive including sacrificing themselves (the ancient magic). Wouldn�t the Potter�s and Dumbledore have known, based on the prophecy ( assuming they knew of it), that LV wouldn�t quit pursuing Harry until he�d ed him? So if the Potter�s were to be ed but Harry live, he would be a marked manchild and need the protection provided by the cloak.

Would LV needed an invisibility cloak? He�s not an animagous that I recall. The Potter�s might have wanted to keep it out of LV�s hands but more likely wanted to keep it safe for Harry�s future use if he survived. Dumbledore�s use of the word �returned� struck me odd at first. The definitions I�ve read for �return� most all include �back�, give back, put back, go back... But it all depends on the context of Dumbledore�s use. It could simply mean giving it back to Harry as one of the three �Potters� from whom he�d gotten it.

Yet, if anyone needed/needs the anonymity an invisibility cloak provides, it would be someone as unmistakable, and marked for as, the �boy who lived�.

I interpreted Horcruxes as not only holding a piece of the maker soul but, in a way, the thing keeping them in the half-life state until they actually retrieve, if that�s what they do, the part of their soul held in the Horcrux. If Dumbledore, James or Godric G. had made a horcrux then something of them would be lurking somewhere (maybe in Crookshanks) but it seems that they wouldn�t have made horcruxes. Seems a horcrux is made by someone who wants to defy . Doubtful that any of those three choose to defy . Dumbledore might have been a bit omniscient and omnipotent but showed no inclination towards immortality.

Once again we�re simply all at the mercy of �she who holds all the answers�.

Posted by Rhonda from Pomona, Illinois on September 18, 2006 11:12 AM

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