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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 66)

Good point Monkeeshrines...but suppose there was someone keeping watch on the Potters in much the same way that members of the order were keeping watch on the prophecy in OotP. Whoever it was might not have stayed around to passively witness events...but could have had a different role to play. Especially if Dumbledore had told the Potters about the prophecy (or even if he hadn't) and had a plan to put into action as soon as Voldemort chose one of the boys mentioned....

I don't think Snape was under the cloak that night...what purpose would it have served? Also, Snape had already turned spy for Dumbledore before the Potters were attacked.

The third explanation for Dumbledore having James's cloak is that it was a by product of something else...i.e. nothing to do with James knowing he was going to and leaving it intentionally with Dumbledore, or with someone else being at Godrick's Hollow on the night James and Lily d, but, as suggested by Landshark, some other reason, related to the plot but not directly to events on that night.

Posted by Joe from England on June 22, 2007 5:09 PM

I think Peter petigrew was under the cloak, he was their secret keeper. James may have given it to dumbledore for Sirius to use, remember sirius was the secret keeper he and peter are the only ones who knew they switched. why else would sirius go there looking for peter unless he is the one that gave him the cloak to hide under?

Posted by pamela sue from arkansas on June 23, 2007 9:10 PM

Ok, I see what you're saying, Joe. It's possible, but I would then have to wonder how effective such a sentinel would be if James and Lily were hidden by the Fidelius Charm and only Peter knew where they were. I would agree with your final comment, though.

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on June 24, 2007 09:26 AM

i doubt the cloak is one of Voldemort's horcruxes, because Dumbledore himself said in HBP that the only known relic of Godric Gryffindor is here, safe, in this room (the sword). but i like the idea of having it being a horcrux of one of harry's parents, because they were in the order, so they might have ed eaters...

Posted by cilin on June 24, 2007 2:24 PM

I don't think only Peter Pettigrew knew where James and Lily were. Sirius knew and Dumbledore and Hagrid and maybe others...Lupin?. Pettigrew was the secret keeper so the others could know where the Potters were but couldn't tell anyone...(for this same reason anyone who knew where they were before be able to find Godric's Hollow now...this includes no need for special cloaks etc to get in even if the secret continued after the Potters d).

Posted by Joe from England on June 25, 2007 03:12 AM

Joe, but how would they know where James and Lily were if the Fidelius Charm was in effect and only the Secret Keeper could divulge such information? Even if everyone knew their physical location, they would be impossible to find by anyone other than Peter or whoever Peter told. No one except Sirius knew Peter was Secret Keeper, which means Peter told no one but Voldemort. Sirius didn't want to know where James and Lily were for their protection; that was the whole reason he told James to use Peter instead, and so he would likewise not have known.

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on June 25, 2007 08:05 AM

Joe and Monkeeshrines,
Many characters seemed to know of the location of the Potters as soon as the attack happened. Dumbledore sent Hagrid, who arrived very quickly (timeturner or previous knowledge?). Sirius knew to set off for the house as soon as he discovered that Wormtail was missing. Maybe the Potters modified the Fidelius charm to let the wizarding world know of the attack they were expecting from Voldemort, so that as soon as it happened, others knew of it.
Or maybe someone was using the cloak with instructions to report back to Dumbledore, as Joe has suggested.
I think I read somewhere in an interview with JKR that there was someone present under the cloak, but it was not Snape.

Posted by Patty from Quincy MA on June 25, 2007 5:54 PM

Patty - Thanks for your comment! I understand what is being said, and respect your and Joe's opinions. I just don't see why someone - anyone - especially on the "good" side, would stand around and watch one or two of their own be ed. Rather, I would think they'd attempt to stop or stall Voldemort at least from ing Lily, assuming that they didn't have time to prevent James' . There is also the possibility - and this is what I understood to be the case - that James and Lily were not the Secret of the Fidelius Charm. Their house in Godric's Hollow was. This would explain how later they and Harry could be found; the house no longer existed, therefore the Fidelius had nothing to hide. I'm more of the thought that there was a different unrelated mission going on that needed the cloak, as Joe also mentioned. I also proudly admit I could be wrong.

I don't recall hearing or reading that Jo said someone was under the invisibility cloak, but, as I said to Herve before, you've probably looked in more and different places than me. Do you remember where you read it?

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on June 26, 2007 08:04 AM

Having checked my facts, I apologize. I should have been more careful. JKR would not answer whether or not anyone else was present at Godric's Hollow that night. It's been a long time since I read what she said, and I have taken her ambiguity to mean there was someone there. If someone were present whose task was to alert Dumbledore, that person could have been someone who could not possibly come to their defense, such as Arabella Figg, or a young member of the Order. Their only task would be to alert Dumbledore that his plan was now in motion. I strongly believe that Dumbledore used the prophecy as a weapon, knowingly putting both the Potters and the Longbottoms in Voldemort's path, waiting for Voldemort to unwittingly choose his equal and initiate his own downfall.
Such a spy might have used the cloak, or might have escaped detection merely by hiding in an adjacent house and peeping through the curtains. It seems to me that the Potters used their own house to hide in as Sirius knew exactly where to go when Wormtail was missing. You raise a good point about the Fidelius Charm. What exactly was the Secret and how was it worded?
I tend to believe that Snape used the cloak to spy for the Order. The irony of it is too good to ignore.

Posted by Patty from Quincy MA on June 26, 2007 12:26 PM

I suppose it depends on interpretation and whether the fidelius charm was put on the Potters themselves or on the house in Godric's Hollow. I always thought that the charm was on the Potters themselves thus the comment Flitwick makes that someone could look in through their window and not see them. They might see people but be unable to recognise them as the Potters, or they might not see anyone at all.

I also thought that the Potters would not have gone into hiding from their friends hence Sirius and Dumbledore knew where they were and could find them. And possibly Lupin also. Sirius obviously knew where to go to find them, and Hagrid, sent by Dumbledore which suggests that Dumbledore also knew where they were. I have also wondered why the muggles didn't find Harry in the ruins...either Hagrid got there first, or the fidelius charm was still working and hiding him. There is the question of the missing 24 hours between the attack taking place and Harry arriving at the Dursleys. Does the charm continue to work once you are ? If not, the muggles would have been able to find James and Lily's bos.

We know that members of the order have ways of communicating with each other (using their patronuses for example) and perhaps either James or Lily used one of these to tell Dumbledore that they were being attacked. But, as for someone on the good side standing by as witness, I think it depends on what if anything people were doing to ensure that the prophecy was activated. If Harry was the only chance to defeat Voldemort, and Voldemort had to mark him in some way for the prophecy to come true, then that could be a possible motivation for not interfering when Voldemort attacked...callous may be but perhaps the end justifies the means in this case? It's also why the question of who knew about the prophecy is so intriguing.

Posted by Joe from England on June 26, 2007 1:24 PM

I really wonder whether, when Hagrid came, Harry was inside the house or outside the house. There are some mysteries: why did he take Harry and not Lily and James's bos. Sirius offered to take Harry, then gave away his motorbike, but he didn't offer taking James's body. He was a close friend of James. What about the burial? We know from HBP that even wizards do have burials.

Two alternatives:
(1) The house was destroyed. That stopped the fidelius charm. Harry was in the ruins and rescued by Hagrid. The other bos were under the ruins, or they were removed before (but then, why was still Harry there?)

(2) The house appeared in ruins to make the Fidelius Charm be more credible. Just the same as Slughorn's house appearing upside down. Harry was put outside the house to be found by Hagrid.

Posted by herve from strasbourg on June 28, 2007 04:09 AM

Joe - The reason that I am certain that no one but Sirius and Peter knew where the Potters were is that even if Sirius knew, he would not be able to tell Remus (who Sirius thought was the spy) or Albus or anyone since he was not the Secret Keeper; Peter would have to be the one to tell them. Whether he told Sirius or not is a good question, though. No one else knew that Peter was the Secret Keeper, so I take that to mean Peter did not tell anyone other than Voldemort (and possibly Sirius). The question of whether the Charm works after the target is /destroyed is also a very good question.

Both Joe & Patty - You two are awesome. While I hold firm to my belief that no one was spying in Godric's Hollow, you have put a sizable dent in my assertion that it was very unlikely. If I do end up being wrong, you may feel free to give me a nice, fat "I told you so" on July 22nd.

herve - Slughorn's house is upside down? I missed that part. Unless you mean messed up, which Horace says he did in the two-minute window between when he noticed his intruder charm went off and Albus and Harry enter. As to why Sirius didn't take their bos - good question. It is a crime scene, though, and Sirius was in shock and rage, maybe it didn't occur to him (my meaning, of course, is that maybe Jo didn't consider it much).

Posted by Monkeeshrines from orlando fl on June 28, 2007 12:26 PM

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