The Missing Mirror

chapter twenty-eight of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The trio arrives in Hogsmeade, setting off an alarm and attracting Death Eaters – but they are saved by Aberforth Dumbledore, who takes them into the Hog’s Head. There he tells the story of Ariana’s death, but when Harry insists on continuing to follow Albus’s instructions, Aberforth agrees to help them into Hogwarts, and the painting of Ariana in the room fetches Neville Longbottom.

Aberforth, by TomScribble

“Did he now?” said Aberforth. “Nice job, I hope? Pleasant? Easy? Sort of thing you’d expect an unqualified wizard kid to be able to do without overstretching themselves? … I knew my brother, Potter. He learned secrecy at our mother’s knee. Secrets and lies, that’s how we grew up, and Albus… he was a natural.”


Harry, by glockgal

“No, it isn’t,” said Harry. “Your brother knew how to finish You-Know-Who and he passed the knowledge on to me. I’m going to keep going until I succeed – or I die. Don’t think I don’t know how this might end. I’ve known it for years.”


A Secret Way Inside Hogwarts, by Laurence Peguy

Aberforth… cleared his throat, got to his feet, walked around the little table, and approached the portrait of Ariana. “You know what to do,” he said.


I KNEW IT, by TomScribble

And out of it… clambered the real Neville Longbottom, who gave a roar of delight… and yelled, “I knew you’d come! I knew it, Harry!


about the chapter


Aberforth Dumbledore is a fascinating character, and his internal struggles are really incredible. He clearly wants to never have to deal with the events surrounding his sister’s death; yet he just as clearly needs to tell the whole story to Harry. Meanwhile he openly asserts that Voldemort has already won the war (and traffics potions for the Death Eaters on the side), yet when the Caterwauling Charm set off, he must have immediately rushed to his door to watch what was happening, in case Harry was there and needed protection – for how else could you explain his knowing where Harry was when he opened his door to shoo him inside? And then he’s also been watching Harry through that missing mirror he bought from Mundungus Fletcher. For a character we don’t meet until very nearly the end of the series, Aberforth is quite the intriguing one….

Something You May Not Have Noticed

When Harry, Ron, and Hermione arrive in Hogsmeade, they immediately set off a Caterwauling Charm – and from the way the Death Eaters and Aberforth talk about it, it sounds like the Charm has been in place for some time. Interestingly, the Death Eaters also seem to be absolutely certain that it’s Harry Potter, and not some other wizard, who’s set it off. Meanwhile we know the charm wasn’t specifically designed to reveal Harry, because Aberforth is able to explain it away by saying that he’d put his cat out. So, then, a fascinating series of questions is posed: When was the charm put in place? Why? And how can the Death Eaters be so convinced that Harry is the one arriving, and not, say, some other member of the Order?
One likely explanation is that once Voldemort learned that Harry was hunting Horcruxes, he immediately (and we’re talking immediately – it only happened a few minutes before the trio left for Hogsmeade) got in touch with the Death Eaters around Hogwarts to let them know Harry might be coming. So it makes sense that the Death Eaters would assume the Caterwauling Charm is Harry, given that they’ve only just finished hearing from Voldemort that they should expect him!

But this still doesn’t explain why the Hogsmeade curfew existed in the first place. Was Voldemort worried about the Order of the Phoenix trying to take Hogwarts somehow? Was he nervous about Hogwarts teachers leaving the school at night to make plans at the pubs? Is it an effort to control Dumbledore’s Army? We’ll probably never know for sure.

The Boy Who Lived

Poor Harry, with his fame and attention and power, has always been something of an outsider in the wizarding world. And few things symbolize this better than his inability, over the years, to gain admission to the only all-wizarding village of Hogsmeade. In his third year he wasn’t allowed to go and had to sneak in; his fourth year he went under his Invisibility Cloak so as to hide from all his detractors; his fifth year he went, but organized the D.A. and was soon barred for the rest of the year; even his sixth year it was too cold and unpleasant to do much thanks to the dementors. And now he shows up again and there’s a special charm in place to alert the Death Eaters he’s arrived. There have been times that he’s been allowed, of course, just like there have been ways and times that he’s integrated into wizarding society. But he can never quite make it all the way in for good, and as long as he’s hunting Voldemort, he’ll never quite be a normal wizard, either.

Full Circle

Over the past year, Harry’s gotten a pretty good idea that there was more to the story of Albus Dumbledore than he once thought. And as Aberforth’s story comes spilling out, in some ways the final vestiges of Harry’s idealized vision of his former headmaster can be seen crumbling away. Yet at the same time, Harry immediately remembers Dumbledore’s final hours in the cave, forced to drink a terrible potion and relive his very worst memories – and Harry realizes, in a way Aberforth never could, just how much Dumbledore changed. For while the teenage Dumbledore bore almost no resemblance to a Harry Potter of the same age, Harry can now understand how the adult Dumbledore was very much like him indeed.

Harry and Dumbledore each had a power he did not seek thrust upon him; each decided to use that power for the ultimate good; each, in his way, understood the meaning of love. And of course, each assumed the ultimate role of leader of those fighting against Voldemort’s evil, a torch passed from the old headmaster to his young protege the night he died. And while Harry could never comprehend the demons that haunted Dumbledore from his past, Dumbledore very clearly knew Harry’s. So we now know why, the first time the two of them ever talked, Dumbledore was so understanding of Harry’s reaction to seeing his family in the Mirror of Erised. After all, it seems Dumbledore might just have been coming to that mirror that night for the exact same reason Harry was.

29 Responses to “The Missing Mirror”

  1. I always loved Aberforth in this book. His resentment of his brother, the Order, and everything is so understandable, yet he is the one who really facilitates the bringing down of the Death Eater controlled Hogwarts.
    I also always thought it was interesting that the Death Eaters seemed to know it was Harry who came into Hogsmead. But I also believe that the Hogsmead watch was started up at the beginning of the year in hopes of catching Harry if he tried to get into the school at all during the year.
    I like the idea that the nighttime curfew is set to prevent people sneaking out and having secret meetings, especially the Hogwarts teachers. That would make sense as far as Voldemort’s paranoia goes. The most powerful leaders are usually the most over-cautious and paranoid, after all.

  2. I always thought of the curfew in Hogsmeade as a parallel to the curfew imposed in Nazi occupied states during WWII, where inhabitants were forbidden to go out during the night. Hogsmeade is the only fully wizarding village in Britain, and the only place were the curfew could be practically enforced. The curfew certainly sets a tone of fear and oppression. And I’m certain you’re right that the Death Eaters in town had been recently warned that Harry Potter & his friends might appear there… especially after Voldemort learns of the raid on Gringotts.

    One thing that always confused me in this chapter is how Ariana Dumbledore’s portrait goes to fetch Neville. I thought people in portraits could only visit their other portraits or travel between frames in close proximity. The book doesn’t seem to mention another Ariana portrait on the other end of the tunnel in the Room of Requirement, only the tunnel door. How does this work?

  3. I think that is part of the magic of the RoR. The passageway was created when Neville needed food, but there had to be a way for Ab to call him. So, Ariana’s picture’s abilities were altered to fit the needs of the room & the people inside it, just like everything else.
    We might assume that the entrance to the room from the Hog’s Head is a blank portrait most of the time. We never see it. But the portrait portal probably works differently there because it’s use is different than that of most other portraits. It allows a person to be brought into it to some extent. Maybe an extra security precaution? They can always see who is coming? Another gift from the room, perhaps.

  4. I think they were trying to detect his presence in Hogsmeade simply because that is the only way (we know of) Harry could get into Hogwarts, where Voldemort knows he has a horcrux. He already can’t apparate into Hogwarts or onto the grounds, but if he could get into Hogsmeade, he might be able to get into the grounds on foot.

    About Harry and young Dumbledore, I think the difference can be explained by the timing of their losses. Though not having parents very much continues to pain Harry throughout his life, he has effectively lived his whole life without them – he can’t remember living with them. When he grows up, he learns life for the first time without parents. But Dumbledore suffered his losses when he was already a teenager and it takes him awhile to adjust and learn his responsibilities.

  5. I gave a cheer when I read that the figure was Neville. He has to be one of my favourite characters and I was just so happy to see him again.

  6. Speaking of surprises: consider that Ariana’s portrait had likely been in place for years (decades?). Since it was the only one, no movement of the subject between it and other portraits either inside the house between other portaits or between multiple copies of the subject (like Headmaster Black’s). Thus it was likely static. In addition, Ariana’s portait appears to be unspeaking. Then, Dumbledore’s Army and the ROR need food. Now think of the surprise when the portait swings open (like the Fat Lady’s) and out pops Neveil, with no forewarning from Ariana. How might that conversation must have gone?

    On a similar note: Aberforth must have realized things were heating up — food requirements kept increasing due to the population of the ROR increasing. And he sent Dobbie to rescue the group from the Malfoy’s. He sees the likely increase in the DeathEater guard in Hogsmeade. So Josie’s thougthts that Abe was spring-loaded to be on the lookout for Harry makes excellent sense. Or as another British author put it, “The game’s afoot.”

  7. Love the art work by Tom Scribble and glockgal. Harry looks so battle-weary in that portrait.

    It seems Dumbledore really understood the consequences of making the “wrong choices in life” since he abandoned his brother and sister. Aberforth had a right to be bitter and once again the puzzle pieces all come together. I thought back to the chapter in the first book about the Mirror of Erised, too. Just the way he said “I see myself holding a pair of socks” cryptic.

  8. I had no idea I was such a huge Neville fan until the moment he popped out of Ariana’s portrait!!! I was ecstatic!!! =D
    And we’re finally going back to Hogwarts!!!!

    Honestly, Ariana’s story is very moving, but by the end of the chapter I’m already moving forward and wanting to know as much as possible about how things have been at Hogwarts this year. And, by the way, this chapter will be the only non-action sequence in the whole of the last movie, except for the fake!King’s Cross bit.

    On a side note: I’ve only recently realized that I had no recollection of what the last chapters, starting from the one before this, were called… By this time I was so engrossed by the story I probably totally forgot to look at chapter titles. =p

  9. I have always wondered what this would be like from Neville’s POV, even letting aside how he was informed. Was he be just walking in the tunnel alone while the others were watching him coming together with Ariana in the portrait?

  10. I always like to look at the whole story from Neville’s POV. That could be another series all by itself.

  11. Once again, I love Tom Scribble’s work–especially because here you can see quite the resemblance between Albus and Aberforth.

    Aberforth’s story has always tweaked my heartstrings–to be so isolated because of something that happened so long ago. It just reminds me of the importance of things like love and forgiveness in one’s life.

  12. I cheered for Neville too!

    And Aberforth was truly heroic. He did what was right – sending Dobby to rescue Harry, taking food to the DA, sheltering the Trio under the very noses of the Death Eaters – despite believing that it was all hopeless and the war was lost already. He was willing to do right for no reward whatsoever.

  13. definitely one of my favorite chapters. I love Aberforth’s ‘coming out’! We finally know who he is!

  14. LOVE glockgal’s portrait of Harry!

    I have very mixed feelings towards Aberforth. His defeatist attitude irritates me, especially because he can see, as Gary said, that the resistance was very much alive and well. He, more than anyone else, should have had hope.

    On the other hand, his story definitely pulls at my heartstrings, and by this point I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of Albus. One of the most frustrating things for me in the series is how untrusting Harry is in the later books, and this was when I realized that it is Dumbledore’s fault – that Dumbledore kept his cards so close that no one could really lead in his absence. If he had just left a “To-Do List” for McGonagall, or for Lupin, or Kingsley, or Moody…just so SOMEONE had an idea of what was going on besides, “We must blindly follow a hotheaded and possibly possessed seventeen-year-old.”

    In regards to the curfew on Hogsmeade, it makes perfect sense. Remember there is a precedent for revolutions here: there were a lot of goblin rebellions based in Hogsmeade, the DA started up in Hogsmeade, and what better place to start a revolution. As was shown in the coming chapters, Voldemort had a rather tenuous hold on Hogwarts, and taking Hogwarts over is really a huge bother. So he would have to make sure that no rebellion was started up, and Hogsmeade really would be the best place for this.

  15. I think, it was not Voldemort, who had alerted the Death Eaters in Hogsmade. Since more than 13 hours had elapsed, til Voldemort got word about the raid on Gringotts, he is most likely not so close in touch with the Death Eaters, that he can alert them within a few minutes. And he is probably also not capable of the Patronus Charm to send messages. It is more likely, that it was Travers, who was arround at the raid on Gringotts, who had assumed, that Harry was up to something, and had alerted his goons in Hogsmade.

    And then there are a few mistakes in “The boy who lived” regarding Harrys visits in Hogsmade.

    In his 4th year, Harry was officially allowed to visit Hogsmade, since Sirius had signed the neccessary slip, and there were no particular incidents. In that year, Harry had used his cloak to sneak into the prefects bathroom.

    In his 6th year, there were no dementors in Hogsmade. Instead Harry had caught Dung with stolen items from Grimauld Place. And than there was the accident with Katie Bell.

  16. Marco, what doesn’t make sense to me is *why* Travers would have alerted Death Eaters that Harry might be coming to Hogsmeade. Actually the main reason I thought Voldemort sent the message was one I couldn’t write above, because of my spoiler policy – but it’s because in two chapters we’ll learn that Voldemort warned the Carrows that Harry might try to get into Ravenclaw Tower. If you think through the timing of this, it almost had to be done immediately after Voldemort learned Harry was hunting Horcruxes. So it makes sense to assume he’d have put his Death Eaters in Hogsmeade on alert too.

    Regarding your Hogsmeade visit notes – I know that Harry was able to visit at times. In fact I would say there are similarly times he’s been able to simply blend into the wizarding world – think of his three weeks at the Leaky Cauldron in book three. But in both cases, the overwhelming big picture is that he simply doesn’t have the level of access he would like. Yes, he made one visit to Sirius; yes, he was allowed to visit in his sixth year (though there *were* dementors around, that’s why it was so misty and cold). But by and large, he’s been kept out. I think it’s an accurate metaphor.

  17. hpboy13, I was annoyed by Aberforth’s defeatism too, especially on a first reading. But given his history with his brother, I understand why he was pessimistic. There was nobody to lead the rebellion. There was a gang of teenagers imprisoned in an unlocatable room at Hogwarts, but he clearly didn’t expect them to achieve anything.

    This is the dumb courage of the disciple who says, “Let us go and die with him!” There is a good bit of St Thomas in Aberforth. (They don’t always tell you in Sunday School that Doubting Thomas was among the bravest of the Twelve.)

    In the light of this analogy, Neville becomes a type of John the Baptist. His punchline translates to: “Behold, the Messiah is come!”

  18. Aberforth’s comments towards Ron were absolutely hilarious, once Voldemort’s men were gone:))
    There seems to be a lesson behind Aberforth’s misery and how he chose to stick to the pain (Ariana), instead of doing more with his life. His perspective towards his brother, also, says a lot about who he is and how he seemed to have gotten Dumbledore all wrong.
    I love how a character that seemed insignificant to the plot has come to play an important in this final book. I had actually mistrusted Aberforth when HRH were feeling a bit too relaxed, but his true intentions are revealed when Neville comes along.

  19. For those who want to know what Deathly Hallows was like for Neville, I would recommend the fanfiction *Dumbledore’s Army and the Year of Darkness*. It is the best written fanfiction I have ever read; the author did his research, and there are no non-canon ships.

  20. Where can find that fanfic? I’m always looking for new ones to occupy my time and add onto my HP love.

  21. @ Anastacia Malfoy Thanks for that. I’ll put it on my ever growing list of things to look forward to after exams :)

    @ Christa I just put the title into google and it came up as the first link.

    Talking about fanfic. Check out little0bird’s work It really is amazing. She continues where the books left off and the detail and storytelling are just fantastic.

  22. “For a character we only ever meet this once…” is kind of a spoiler. Part of the fun of these books is wondering who will show up again, so you probably shouldn’t reveal even that someone won’t. Am I taking the “no spoilers” policy too far?

  23. atiauo, valid point! I’ve adjusted that line so as not to imply anything. I’ve heard from several fans whose kids are following the site as they read the books for the first time, so I’m doing my darndest to keep even smaller spoilers out. Thanks for the help. :)

  24. I’m also intrigued by Aberforth, he’s a very interesting character. And, when re-reading the books, it’s a lot of fun to keep an eye out for the small mentions of him :) The goat thing is pretty hilarious.
    As much as I love Dumbledore, it is very clear that he had a manipulative streak and knew how to work in secrecy – and at the same time he was being able to gain so much trust. He had a lot of power over others, so much it’s frightening. But he did realize that himself, although through the hard way…
    I really like that we see more of his history in this book, because it explains so much about his character.

  25. I think the caterwauling charm may have been altered to specifically look for Harry Potter when Voldemort notified his Death Eaters that Harry may go to Hogwarts. But, let’s face it, the Death Eaters aren’t real bright. They were just gullible enough to fall for Aberforth’s story about his cat even though the charm was supposed to detect only Harry.

  26. glockgals picture of Harry is great, but I don’t see it in this chapter because to me it looks like he’s wearing the locket which gives him the battle-worn look.

  27. Whenever the Death Eaters threaten Harry with the Dementor’s Kiss, I was wondering whether or not it would suck out Harry’s soul or the Horcrux. And if it did take Harry’s soul, what would happen to his body? Would Voldemort’s soul be able to possess it?

  28. M, that is a really interesting notion!
    I would think the Dementor would take Harry’s soul, because the part of Voldemort that is in Harry is so maimed. I don’t even know if it would be considered a soul at all!
    Then, I guess, his body would be consumed by Voldemort’s piece of soul. A truly terrifying prospect..

  29. I really hate, HATE, to be one of those people that picks up a flaw in J.Ks plot but I found a glaring one here, regarding the invisibility cloak.

    When HRH find out the truth of the invisibility cloak from Xeno Lovegood, he describes the cloak as;

     “a true cloak of invisibility, that really and truly renders the wearer completely invisible, and endures eternally, giving constant and impenetrable concealment, no matter what spells are cast at it.”
    That quote brings me back to the second book, the Chamber of Secrets. Where in Hagrid’s hut, Dumbledore is aware of HRH’s presence, despite the cloak!!

    In an earlier interview, somebody asked J.K, “how did Dumbledore know that HRH were in Hagrid’s Hut,  book 2?”

    J.K. Rowling: “Dumbledore, who could perform magic without needing to say the incantation aloud, was using ‘homenum revelio.'”
    Surely, this is a fault in the book. Seeing as the cloak was immune to spells?

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