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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 8)

One of the things that I don't understand is why James would give the cloak to Dumbledore to begin with, when he was going to make Padfoot or Wormtail the secret keeper? Why not give the cloak to either of them?

I think Dumbledore, throughout all the books, has been omniscient. At the end of the first book, Harry says that he's pretty sure nothing goes on that Dumbledore doesn't know about. Maybe Dumbledore and the Potters knew that they would all eventually . I mean, if they all knew the prophecy stated it was Harry who would do the job, it is reasonable to expect that LV would everyone that was close to Harry to try to get to him. So James, knowing that he and Lily were going to soon, went to Dumbledore saying, "I know we're all going to , but please give this to my son when he is ready, he use it in his quest to vanquish LV" (or something along those lines).

Dumbledore, being all knowing, gave the cloak to Harry in his first year, because Dumbledore knew that Harry needed to go through all these great adventures in order to help prepare him for the inevitable.

I don't understand how everyone is able to go into the Potter's old home if Wormtail was the secret keeper. As demonstrated in OotP, only when the secret keeper gives you the exact address can you find the house. Maybe the spell is broken once the Potters d?

And who did grab LV's wand after the spell backfired? Someone had to be there.

I forget who posted this, but as a response, Hagrid found baby Harry and then right afterward Sirius showed up and asked Hagrid to give him Harry. Hagrid refused on Dumbledore's orders, so then Sirius said fine, take my bike to take Harry away from here.

On another note, why are so many people keen on thinking Harry and LV are going to square off against one another and Harry be victorious? Harry is no match for LV. Dumbledore was the only one who could fight LV in the "dueling" sense and win. Harry's only leg up is that he has the "power the dark lord knows not"=love (exhibited in OotP when LV tries to possess him but can't because Harry starts thinking about the love for his godfather). Therefore, it is my belief, that Harry's scar is the final horcrux and that in the end, it is either Snape or Wormtail that finishes off the live LV (Snape because he was in love with Lily, Wormtail because of the wizard he owes to harry for saving his life) and that Harry be fighting the internal conflict with LV. What be more powerful? Harry's feelings of love to of LV, or LV's feelings of hatred to Harry. The prophecy says Harry may "vanquish", not "" the dark lord.

Posted by KC from Enfield, CT on September 19, 2006 4:02 PM

Wow, Adriana and others who have said this. What a great theory. Petunia could very well have been the other person present at GH. What if she had gone to see her sister alone, keeping this quiet from Vernon. After all, blood is thicker than water. Knowing that LV was outside, either Lily or James could have given her the cloak and told her to run. If she did so covered with the cloak, that could account for her saying to Harry, "she went and got herself blown up". She would have been an eye-witness to the explosion. Later, DD who knows all, would have contacted Petunia and retrieved the cloak to keep for Harry. Thus, the opportunity for their initial contact. This theory certainly would account for why DD had James' cloak when he didn't need one to make himself invisible.

I'm also wondering if Petunia, while invisible, may have tried to rescue baby Harry. If we assume that Harry was left in the rubble, wouldn't the muggle authorities and/or Fudge have taken him into custody for his own protection if they had seen him or heard him crying? Then, we would have had a totally different story with the muggle police locating Harry's next of kin rather than DD. Petunia was there, invisible and could have had enormous empathy for her sister's orphaned baby. Could this scenario account for the missing 24 hours, as well? My guess is, if this is even close to what happened though, Petunia must have realized she couldn't take the baby home with her to her family so she may have left him in a sheltered spot. I'm starting to ramble and getting a bit off topic but speculating is lots of fun. Does anyone else think this is possible?

Everyone's ideas certainly are food for thought. Some ideas are more plausible and some fit better with known canon. But, all are lots of fun to read.

Posted by Hannah from Los Angeles on September 19, 2006 8:04 PM

Petunia being there is a great idea.

Dumbledore doesn't know all. He has an army of spies at his disposal in Hogwarts, all the paintings on the wall report to him. And, paintings can leave the building and must report to the Headmaster of Hogwarts.

I think too much is being made of the cloak. Dumbledore could have simply taken it when he arrived later.

I think Dumbledore trusted Snape because Snape was a fan of Lily's. Once Lily d, Snape saw the error in his ways.

Posted by Michael from Philadelphia, PA on September 20, 2006 05:44 AM

Lot�s of interesting ideas are being brought up! Offing from the cloak subject for a second, I�m one who doesn�t believe Harry or his scar is a horcrux UNLESS LV Inadvertently and/or Unknowingly made a horcrux (or some special magical thing we have yet to learn of--the power the dark lord knows not) of Harry when he attempted to Harry resulting in this special magical thing that reveals it�s presence in the form of Harry�s scar.� LV went to GHollow with the intention to all the Potters, including Harry.� LV did not know Harry wasn�t going to so he would not have been in a horcrux state of mind.� Or he might have been planning to use the of one or all three of the Potter�s to make a horcrux but he wouldn�t have intended to turn Harry into one because he intended to Harry. Based on what he learned from Snape of the prophecy, LV marked Harry as his equal in his mind. After his unsuccessful attempt to Harry, he Did in a way, mark Harry as his equal leaving a scar as�the proof as well as some other magical thing that we might have yet to learn. Dumbledore might have known (as he always does) or assumed something similar to this but chose not to burden Harry with the knowledge at such a young age.� I also realize that Dumbledore has made statements leading to the belief that love is the magic the dark lord knows not but there could be more behind the scar then we know which we might learn from Dumbledore�s portrait in the Headmaster�s Office.

And I think the idea of the Potter�s being Unspeakables is very interesting and I do hope we learn more about the 3 times they defied LV. I also favor the idea that Snape made some type of commitment to Dumbledore, maybe not necessarily the unbreakable vow but some such thing as a way to make amends for his betrayal of the Potters. I think the idea of Snape taking out LV is very interesting but it�s hard to fit that into the prophecy. And the Petunia connection is very intriguing.

Back to the cloak. As several have said, the questions seems more why then what. For anyone in the OotP, except for Dumbledore, to know of the Potter�s hiding place would have defeated the purpose of doing the secret-keeper thing unless it was Snape who found out from Pettegrew or LV. If LV had any suspicion of Snape being a double agent, doubtful he would have shared his plan with him. But if Snape did find out the Potter�s location from Pettegrew or LV, seems that would have been at the last minute, after the time that James gave the cloak to Dumbledore.

If the cloak came to James from his parents, could it not have been a Ravenclaw relic that they acquired from their ancestors or just somewhere along the way? If the cloak was believed to possibly be relic of Ravenclaw or one of the other three, then keeping it away from LV would be a good thing especially if the Potter�s believed they were going to be ed. I still hold out for the anonymity cloak would provide Harry in the event he survived an attack on the Potters as to at least one reason James gave it to Dumbledore.

Maybe someone can come up with a new cloak theory based on a similar cloak�s use in the hiding of Barty Crouch Jr., who lived for month�s under an invisibility cloak. Hummmm.

Posted by Rhonda from Pomona, Illinois on September 20, 2006 11:15 AM

Firstly, Bangin site, Just magnificent,
I agree with the theory that Harry might have to use the cloak to get in to GH also Dumbledore and im sure of ed Grindelward in 1945 because he was dark possibly dumbledore did make a Horcrux but im not sure but he might have made it in a good way to be able to be alive again and vanquish LV.
I find the idea that godric gryffindor made a horcrux with the cloaak intresting because no one knows of his past, surely he has ed someone dark in his past, also wont ing LV Rip harrys soul apart which means you might not have to consider ing and making a horcrux SOOO EVIl as they are using it for a gd purpose.
Just a few Ideas of mine,
What do you think?

Posted by Abdul from London on September 20, 2006 1:44 PM

I agree DD is not omniscent as proven by the 3 who learned to be animagi under DD's nose without him knowing it (POA). Now, LV's wand might be useful clue because it was Pettigrew (PG) who found LV. At LV's rebirth, none of the other eaters were aware of it in advance, including Snape. Makes me think PG was probably at GH and recovered LV's wand for whatever reason. Where he kept it while being a rat - who knows, but it fits the known facts.

Back to HP's glasses for a moment, another reason they can't be a horcrux is the were broken and then repaired by Hermoine (interesting her first mentioned spell is that of repairing).

HP has the "power" to defeat LV, and the wording causes me to think it has little or nothing to do with s or strength. We should also remember, Harry has performed some pretty dramatic magic without a wand... making a glass window disapper (COS) and made his aunt blow up (POA). Everybody seems awe struck he can produce a corporeal patronus (at his age) and all this makes me suspect s has little to do with HP and LV.

I feel HP be alive and well at the end of the series because the whole of humanities survival is often hinged on hope. JKR is a storyteller's storyteller. They seem more than words when they make us shout for victory, weep for loss and crave more. I don't think she HP off.

The idea of Petunia is just so bizarre that it makes some sort of twisted sense. She was pretty uppity and acted better than thou when she ranted about Lily. Reminds me of a self proclaimed martyr. HOWEVER, I am thinking she is more likely an untrained witch (who hates what she doesn't have)and was not at GH at the time of the . One reason is Hagrid and Sirus would have seen her.

I've also been wondering when Sturgis Podmore was controlled (whats it called?) at the Ministry, the guess was it was a wild shot in the dark - but what if LV knew how to see thru Invis Cloaks and saw him through Nagini's eyes? Moody's eye can do it. Nobody knew he was using Nagini to case the place at that point, so..... (stay with me now)

If DD can go invisible he can probably see through a cloak too, and that would follow LV could - so if that was the case, then James giving it to DD would make perfect sense since it was useless againse LV.

Finally, I don't believe DD has a horcrux - his portrait is hanging in the headmasters office....

Posted by JOHN from RIVERSIDE, CA on September 20, 2006 3:11 PM

One more thought about Abdul's thoughts concerning Harry having to LV... What if somebody else s LV because of their love for HP? I have to reread the prophecy but I think it says 'power to defeat' and not 'power to '.

Posted by John from Riverside on September 20, 2006 3:15 PM

It's "the power to vanquish," but the prophecy also says "Either must at the hand of the other..." I think we're meant to take that part pretty literally.

Posted by Lynne from United States on September 20, 2006 7:16 PM

I don't think the cloak or Harry are a horcruxes, although if the snake is one, Harry could be one too.

Harry himself does have to LV because in The Lost Prophecy chapter of OOTP Harry specifically asks Dumbledore "so does that mean that... that one of us has got to the other one... in the end? Dumbledore's sole answer is "Yes."

I think both Snape and Dumbledore were at the scene, either during or right after, the time that Harry's parents were ed and I think the secret of why Dumbledore trusts Snape must lie in what transpired then. I don't think Snape's saying he was sorry was enough to convince Dumbledore to trust him.

It could be that Snape was coming to their aide too late and Harry's father told Snape to give the cloak to Dumbledore as he was or James left a note for Dumbledore telling him where the cloak was and to give it to Harry. For all we know, Snape took care of Harry until Hagrid came.

I think Harry can get help from those that were ed, just like he got instructions from his father that saved him when his father appeared via the priori incantatum spell on LV's wand. Also, he can get help from Dumbledore by going to his portrait in the Headmaster's office. There seems to be a number of ways to contact the including Sirius's mirror.

I think the children, ie., Harry's friends, help him overcome LV, not the adults because Dumbledore made it clear to Harry that he should confide in his friends and not keep things to himself. He should trust his friends, he needs them.

The cloak must have some protection for Harry, otherwise why would Dumbledore tell him to keep it with him at all times? If Dumbledore thought is was a horcrux, he would have destroyed it. Also, we never did hear the details of the tale of how his arm was burned and he promised to tell Harry the story. So, perhaps Harry has to go back to Dumbledore's portrait to hear that story in order to avoid a mishap himself in his quest for the rest of the horcruxes.

Aunt Petunia denies being a witch because she wants to fit in. We probably see in the last book how denying who you are is bad for your soul and how blindly following the crowd like a sheep can have disasterous results. Hitler has his squads while the populous went along. Then, the world was at war and only by a thread did good triumph over evil.

Posted by Kathryn from Lincoln, CA on September 21, 2006 5:45 PM

I wonder... Horcruxes is really advanced magic.
If it is so hard to make one, would it not be really difficult to destroy it too?
I mean, otherwise someone could've accidentally ruined LVs plans by smashing one of his horcruxes in the floor.
So, this leads me to reflect over the requirements of destroying a horcrux.
(sorry, I haven't had time to read the book thoroughly)
May it be so that only HP can destroy LVs horcruxes out of some special power he got when nearly ed by LV as a child? Or am I way of in crazy thoughts here?

And I - as many others I believe - wonder whatfore HPs parents defeated LV three times.

Posted by Andrea from �rebro, Sweden on September 22, 2006 09:39 AM

I don't think the books tell us anything about what's required to destroy a horcrux.

My thinking is different than yours, Andrea. I think it's possible it's very easy to destroy the actual Horcruxes. That's why the ones we've seen have been so strongly protected. The locket horcrux was extensively and magically hidden and you had to drink a ly potion to get at it. The Ring that Dumbledore recovered ed his hand and we must assume would have ed him completely had not Dumbledore been as powerfull a wizard as he is.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on September 22, 2006 09:43 AM

What a wonderful variety of courageous and inventive theories! Great read.

A couple of quick comments:

1. Petunia was not at Godric's Hollow. In the first few pages of Book 1, we learn that Petunia had not seen her sister Lily for several years. So I think the Petunia idea, although intriguing, is null.

2. Harry's glasses are probably just glasses. He didn't arrive with them at 4 Privet Drive at one year of age. And it is hard to imagine that whoever made a horcrux of them decided to post them out to the Dursleys in case Harry had vision problems.

3. Horcruxes are created after one's soul is split from the act of ing another person. You cannot make a horcrux if you didn't do the ing because you wouldn't have a split soul to encase in the horcrux.

4. Just because Wormtail was the secret keeper for the Potters doesn't mean that many others didn't know where they were. Look at 12 Grimauld Place. D is the secret keeper, yes, but everyone in the Order (plus Ron, Hermione and Harry) knows where it is and can get there if they choose. Anyone who has been given the secret know where the Potters are. Everyone who was trusted by the POtters and anyone that Wormtail wanted to inform, knew where the POtters were.

5. What if the Invisibility Cloak is just an invisibility cloak (much the same as Tom Riddle's mouth organ was only a mouth organ -- and not a horcrux). Yes, we do know that Dumbledore would not have needed the cloak to become invisible, but it is quite likely that it was meant to be loaned to someone else and Dumbledore would have asked James to let him borrow it. Perhaps James didn't even know who it was meant for.

A question:

When Snape comes across Harry's invisibility cloak at the foot of the whomping ow in Prisoner of Azkaban, he has no trouble recognizing it for what it is, in the dark, immediately putting it on and going out to protect Harry. That is, of course, what he was doing when he followed Harry, Ron and Hermione to the Shrieking Shack. (He was not searching for Sirius and Remus - he came upon them in the Shrieking Shack without knowing they were there, I think.)
Do you think this could have happened before? That Snape might have donned the invisibility cloak that belonged to James in an effort to protect Harry?

Posted by Jan-Marie Spanard from Adirondack Mountains, New York on September 22, 2006 11:36 AM

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