In Memoriam & The Dursleys Departing

chapters two & three of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

We find Harry sitting in his bedroom, reading newspaper articles about Albus Dumbledore and packing his belongings (including a mirror fragment in which he swears he sees Dumbledore’s eye); Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle then arrive, and after an awkward goodbye, the Dursleys leave with them to head for safety.

Harry and the Mirror, by Cambryn

Harry sat up and examined the jagged piece on which he had cut himself, seeing nothing but his own bright green eye reflected back at him.

(by Cambryn)


Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, by mneomosyne

Harry finished reading but continued to gaze at the picture accompanying the obituary. Dumbledore was wearing his familiar, kindly smile….


by Ani Bester

He had never thought to ask Dumbledore about his past…. and it seemed to Harry now, despite the fact that his future was so dangerous and so uncertain, that he had missed irreplaceable opportunities when he had failed to ask Dumbledore more about himself….


In Memoriam, by Hannah-Dora

He had imagined it, there was no other explanation; imagined it, because he had been thinking of his dead headmaster. If anything was certain, it was that the bright blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore would never pierce him again.


Harry is Nonplussed When 'Big D' Offers his Hand as a Semi-Friendly Goodbye Gesture, by Drew Graham

Dudley held out his large, pink hand.
“Blimey, Dudley,” said Harry over Aunt Petunia’s renewed sobs, “did the dementors blow a different personality into you?”


by Ani Bester

Dedalus Diggle… tripped forward and wrung Harry’s hand with both of his own. “Good luck. I hope we meet again. The hopes of the Wizarding world rest upon your shoulders.”


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

I think my favorite part of this chapter is imagining where the Dursleys must be going with Dedalus Diggle and Hestia Jones – and what their lives must be like when they get there. After all, they’re basically dropping their lives, jobs and all, in order to go into hiding with wizards. I mean, can you imagine how insufferable Vernon must be in that situation? I’d have to imagine that the Order would pull a house together for them or something, perhaps protected with a Fidelius Charm, so they could live in relative peace (as opposed to, say, moving in with Dedalus, although that would make a good story wouldn’t it?). But if Vernon has been changing his mind over and over again all this time, it’s almost certain the wizards would have to cast some sort of spell on him to prevent his returning home, too. And this could potentially go on for years. It’s a fascinating idea.

The Boy Who Lived

I love the moment when Harry tells Uncle Vernon that part of the reason he expects the Dursleys are in danger is because Voldemort might try holding them hostage in an effort to make Harry come and rescue them – and then Harry and Vernon both freeze, looking at each other and wondering whether Harry actually would. I can’t help but take that moment to wonder myself, too: how would Harry react to that situation? After all, the times we do see Harry rushing off to somebody’s rescue, it’s always someone he cares deeply about; and there are certainly plenty of other families that Harry doesn’t know, or at least that he doesn’t know well, who are put in similar situations without him doing anything. The Dursleys, naturally, fall somewhere in the grey area in between. And it’s very hard to say what Harry might do were they to be put in danger.

Full Circle

In some ways, this chapter completes Harry’s process of growing up with the Dursleys. When we first saw him there he was a little kid, scared of Uncle Vernon and constantly being bossed around and locked in a cupboard by Aunt Petunia. The tables have turned now, though, as six years at Hogwarts have matured Harry into a person who is in many ways much more of an adult than either his aunt or uncle will ever be (not to mention Dudley). For now, it’s Harry who arranges to have the Dursleys locked up, in a sense, only in this case it’s for their own protection. During his last afternoon with the family, Harry clearly asserts that he’s the one in charge, and that now it’s Uncle Vernon who has to take the orders. A fitting conclusion, as it’s almost certainly the last time Harry will ever see his nearest living relatives.
Meanwhile, Dudley has come full circle, too – the first time we saw him leaving his house, Harry was coming with him to go to the zoo and he was kicking, screaming, and crying that he didn’t want his cousin to come with. Now he’s leaving without Harry – and asking his parents why Harry can’t come with them. That’s a pretty big change for a kid with his background. (Thanks to Heather for pointing this out!)

36 Responses to “In Memoriam & The Dursleys Departing”

  1. I especially like the pre-shadowing given to this in The Prince’s Tale, hints perhaps at what Petunia was thinking as she left here. Connecting TPT with this and the opening chapter, I see now that you were right about who “that awful boy” (OOTP2) is.


    What about a bit later in this book, when Harry decides to rescue the Muggleborns at the Ministry? He doesn’t have a really close connection with any of them, they’re just sort of… these innocents there and he decides to rescue them. I think Harry WOULD save the Dursleys if they were in danger, because, as Hermione once said, he has a “saving people” thing. He saved Dudley from the Dementors two years previously, after all. So why wouldn’t he save the rest of the family? He might have a rocky relationship with them, but I think ultimately, he wouldn’t leave them to be tortured by Voldemort. Because they, like the Muggleborns, are just innocents caught up in the thick of it.

    I love your site, by the way. I’m more of a lurker than a commenter, but I figured I’d put in some two cents this time.

  3. I also love to think of Petunia in the chapter. I mean she raised Harry. I like to think that she felt something for Lily enough to care for her son; perhaps when Vernon wasn’t looking. My favorite part was when they finally say good-bye and for an infinitesimal moment she opens her mouth to say something to him but then loses her nerve and marches out of the house. What a scene!

  4. I was a bit disappointed with the amount of artwork in these chapters, though I did really have to think for a minute about what harry actually would do during a situation including saving the Dursleys….hmmmm…..

  5. Trying to imagine the lives of the Dursleys in hiding is made more interesting by the fact that Uncle Vernon and Dudley are terrified of wizards. Vernon would grumble and bluster and possibly try to escape, but he wouldn’t openly defy his protectors – or would he? And without Vernon’s work and Dudley’s school to keep them occupied, the family would have plenty of time to get on each other’s nerves and for Vernon to create more and more elaborate conspiracy theories in his mind. I’m sure everyone involved was more than delighted to end the arrangement the following spring.

  6. Why am I thinking that Dedalus Diggle is the man from PS who came up to Harry randomly before Harry knew anything? Is that a popular theory that I’ve read somewhere else?

    By the way, I’ll go ahead and add in my being-at-book-seven-is-exciting-but-sad comment. I’ve only been here since the spring, but I have enjoyed this so much!

  7. Laura, you’re right that Dedalus Diggle is the man in PS who bows to Harry while out shopping with Aunt Petunia (before Harry knows he’s a wizard). This is revealed a couple of chapters later when Harry meets Dedalus in the Leaky Cauldron with Hagrid, and Dedalus is so excited that Harry remembers him as the man who bowed to him in the shop.

    I always laugh at Dudley in these chapters… struggling with emotions that seem impossible for him to express. I read somewhere once that Rowling thought that after this “reconciliation,” the adult Harry would take his family to visit Dudley’s when they were in the neighbourhood. Now that would be an awkward family gathering!

  8. No, you’re right – he introduces himself in the Leaky Cauldron.

  9. Aha! Thanks, Andrea!

    I love the thought of the Potters visiting Dudley!

  10. Agree, Gingin4 – each time I read this chapter, I always wonder what it was that Petunia was going to say – I often wish that JK Rowling had put that in – but then realise that in a way that would have spoiled the whole goodbye scene. She must have had some affection still for her sister, though, surely.

  11. Here is what JKR says about the last scene with the Petunia “When Petunia paused at the door as she was leaving she almost wished him luck and told him that “her loathing of his world, and of him, was born out of jealousy.” But she couldn’t do it; she had “hardened” too much.”

    This is from July 30, 2007 Bloomsbury Live Chat with J.K. Rowling

  12. I was listening to the PS audiobook not long ago and was struck by how much *Dudley* has changed. When it’s time to go to the zoo in PS, he’s whines and cries and goes on about how much he doesn’t want Harry to tag along. Now in DH, he wants to know why Harry *isn’t* coming with them.

    I think Dudley probably grew up to be a much better man than his father.

  13. Heather, that’s a brilliant insight, and one that I wish I’d noticed and written on the page myself. In fact, I might just go back and add it now. :)

  14. In retrospect, this chapter may be one of the most poignant in the entire HP series. Harry is so respected and loved in the wizarding world and yet he is still mistrusted and disrespected in the muggle world. J.K. Rowling stays true to her characters…it would have been tempting to resolve the dysfunctional family dynamics here….but she kept the characters honest. Petunia cleaves to her childhood demons and once again, lets them rule her actions. And when all is said and done, it is Harry who suffers. He is facing a frightening and uncertain journey ahead in his search for horcruxes and yet he receives no comfort or even good wishes from his closest living relative…his aunt. I felt such loathing for Petunia and my heart went out to Harry in this chapter.

  15. I like to think harry would definately have saved the Dursleys. Think of the scene with malfoy later on in the book. Harry is a very forgiving person and in the end turns out very much like dumbledore in this sense. I also love the change in dudley noted by heather. I think in many ways it was harry who influenced this (because it certainly wasn’t down to his parents!)

  16. I think the attitude change of Dudley is because of the “…things” he heard in his head during the dementors attacked in OotP. when asked by his mother, what things…

    But Dudley seemed incapable of saying. He shuddered again and shook his large blond head, and despite the sense of numb dread that had settled on Harry since the arrival of the first owl, he felt a certain curiosity. Dementors caused a person to relive the worst moments of your life…What would spoiled, pampered, bullying Dudley have be forced to hear?

    I think its the bullying he did, Harry being one of the ones he bullied.

    I found this site completely by accident yesterday, and I am hooked. Thanks.

  17. I just found this site yesterday and have been enchanted ever since. I must mention that this scene should have been in part 1 of the movie. Everyone has personal snubs but i think Dudley shaking Harry’s hand should have been there. Most classic Dursley scenes havent been in the movies.

  18. I wonder whether of not Harry and Dudley ever caught up with each other in the end. Obviously Dudley shows that he doesn’t harbour the same hatred for Harry as he once did, and Harry appreciates this. I wonder if they ever met up at Christmas time or something someway down the track, even the rest of the Durselys for that matter.

  19. Heath, JKR says that Harry and Dudley exchanged Christmas cards. They visited occasionally, but Harry’s children dreaded these occasions.

  20. OK, well it’s nice to know they caught up every now and then, even if the kids didn’t like it. ;)

  21. Heath, the Christmas card quote is here

    Erica4hope, you can find out what the Dementors showed Dudley by clicking this link. Write “Dudley” in your CTRL+F if you don’t want to read the whole interview.

  22. This is a brilliant website, especially getting to see which artists were clearly influenced by the movies and which stick to their own interpretation. However, I feel the need to point out a typo… In Full Circle, it’s “completes” without the apostrophe. Otherwise wonderful website! :)

  23. Grace, thanks for the kind words, and for catching my error! That’s a weird one, not sure where it came from… but it’s fixed now. :)

  24. It was never stated specifically why that scene never appeared in the movie, but I’m willing to believe that it’s because the actor who plays Dudley went and got himself really skinny, making it impossible to show him up close.

  25. Oh, and also, Harry says he doesn’t know how to heal wounds. He totally does! Episky is the spell to heal wounds and he learns it in HBP. He uses it on one of his Quidditch teammates, for goodness sake!

  26. Josiah, Episky fixes a broken nose. I doubt it’s the same spell for healing wounds.

  27. Harry healed Demelza Robin’s split lip with it.

  28. I REALLY want to know what happens with the Dursleys in hiding. I mean, they’re probably stuck in a house all day long. Vernon would be ranting and pacing all day, Petunia just generally freaking out (though I wonder how she would react to being around wizards so much, due to her torn fascination and disapproval), and Dudley would probably gain a bunch of weight back. Doesn’t seem too pleasant.

    On a side note, I wonder what would have happened if Dudley HADN’T been attacked by the dementors. How would this departure go if he was still his spoiled, bullying self? He’d probably end up with another tail…

  29. While “Deathly Hallows” was probably the bleakest book in the series until the end (especially seeing what Voldemort does to Wizarding Britain once he conquers it – it’s almost like Saruman’s take-over of the Shire near the end of “The Lord of the Rings”; two comically eccentric places laid waste in a most un-funny manner), one element that lightened the tone for me was seeing many characters change for the better. Dudley was the first of these, and his thanking Harry for saving his life pleasantly surprised me.

    I hadn’t known about Rowling’s comment on Harry and Dudley keeping up afterwards, but it sounds delightful.

  30. I really like the goodbye scenes, both the ones regarding harry and the Dursleys and the one where he walks around the house. It is indeed a full circle, a quite bittersweet one.

  31. Hello everyone – it’s my first comment and I love this site.

    I noticed something weird in this chapter when I read the book a second time: what is a “SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY” badge doing in Harry’s trunk?! why would he have it?

  32. When Harry is emptying his trunk, there’s also a “SUPPORT CEDRIC DIGGORY / POTTER STINKS” badge… it’s weird, why would he have it?!

  33. I would suspect Harry hasn’t cleaned out the old trunk for a while. The potter stinks badge is from a time of great travail when Cedric is murdered and Voldy is back! Betcha now in the wizarding world the Potter stinks badge is a collectible like in some wizarding antiques roadshow venue. (ha ha)

  34. ok, maybe I haven’t expressed myself very well; I meant that I can’t expplain the fact that Harry has one of those badges… who gave it to him?

  35. The badge was likely thrown at Harry. He then threw it without thinking into his trunk. There it languished in the detritus of his tunk for years. Not forgotten so much as not really aware of, until he cleans out his trunk? I know things that have hurt me, like notes etc., I have kept, crumbled up in the bottomofmypurse, too hurt to throw it away, and, perhaps a reminder to remember the taunts and overcome them. It is not improbable that Harry would have this.

  36. @Kc—In a story I’m writing, one of my characters does a similar thing—tapes a hurtful note inside her journal as a reminder to what she’s overcome.

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