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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, while talking about her recent experience appearing live in New York with Stephen King and John Irving, has admitted she made a mistake when she was asked, what question have you never been asked that you ought to have been asked? She said:

My mind went blank. Blame long years of trying not to give away the plot. But it occurred to me almost as soon as I got off stage that there IS a question I've always been surprised nobody's put to me, and that I really should have said it while I was still on-stage. I can't make amends to the girl who asked, but it is in tribute to her that I give the answer, belatedly.

Why did Dumbledore have James' invisibility cloak at the time of James' , given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak? There IS a significant - even crucial - answer. ( 9/13/06)

When Harry receives his father's cloak in the very first book, it was accompanied by this note:

Your Father left this in my possession before he d. It is time it was returned to you. Use it Well. (SS/PS pg. 202/148)

We know now that Dumbledore left that note. But why did he have the cloak in the first place? I never gave it much thought, but perhaps now we should, since J.K. says it's crucial to the story.

In the same book in which Harry receives his father's cloak and reads the note, in the very same chapter in fact, Dumbledore tells him he doesn't need one to be invisible:

"And it showed your friend Ron himself as head boy." "How did you know--?" "I don't need a cloak to become invisible," said Dumbledore gently. (SS/PS pg. 213/156)

So, if Dumbledore didn't need a cloak, why did he have James' cloak?

I had originally assumed that somehow Dumbledore acquired it after James and Lily's s, and kept if for Harry when he was old enough. But that's not exactly what the note says, is it? It says, "Your father left this in my possession before he d."

So, we come back around to J.K.'s question, the answer to which she says is significant, even crucial. Why did Dumbledore have James' cloak at the time of James's ?

I think a logical answer is that James gave it to Dumbledore for safe keeping. But why was protecting the cloak so important? Having heard the prophecy, and suspecting Voldemort might think the part that referred to "Born to those who have thrice defied him" meant them, James and Lily had already taken steps to protect themselves and Harry with a secret keeper. So, why give James' invisibility cloak the extra-special protection of removing it to Dumbledore's safe keeping? Why was the cloak so important? What made the cloak so special? Or perhaps most importantly, what about the cloak made it so important that it be kept out of the hands of Voldemort?

We've suspected for a long time that Harry is a descendant of Godric Gryffindor. We also know that Voldemort wanted to collect one keepsake that was a relic of each of the Hogwarts founders. He Salazar Slytherin's locket and we suspect Helga Hufflepuff's cup. If James (and therefore Harry) was a descendant of Godric Gryffindor, then perhaps the cloak belonged to him as well. And maybe James was afraid Voldemort would want the cloak because it was a relic of Godric Gryffindor.

With the importance placed on them in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we could even suspect that James' invisibility cloak was one of Voldemort's horcruxes. But I think this is unlikely. Although Dumbledore suspected Voldemort might try to make horcruxes, he wasn't sure Voldemort was doing it until after the events in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, at the end of which Dumbledore learns Tom Riddle's diary was one of Voldemort's horcruxes. So, it's unlikely they were on the lookout for Voldemort's horcruxes 12 years earlier.

But what if it's not a Voldemort horcrux? Could it be a horcrux of someone else? Logical candidates for this would be James or Dumbledore. But Dumbledore's note to Harry strongly implies the cloak was James' property, which would point us to believe it was a James horcrux.

And if the cloak is a James horcrux, then it could be a significant, even crucial part of the final battle between Voldemort and Harry, as it could facilitate James to come back from the and team up with Harry to defeat Voldemort. This would explain why it would have been so important to leave the cloak in Dumbledore's safe keeping, and to keep it away from Voldemort at all costs.

The cloak could even be a Godric Gryffindor horcrux! In which case Harry would have the ultimate power of a Hogwarts founder in his corner!

These are just my thoughts. What do you think? Is there another reason James' invisibility cloak could be so important that James would want it specially protected by giving it to Dumbledore?

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Published September 13, 2006

This article is Copyright © 2006, David Haber, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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