A Place to Hide

chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The trio escapes from the wedding to Tottenham Court Road – but when they are immediately tracked down by Death Eaters, they decide to try Grimmauld Place instead. They encounter the spells Moody put up to ward off Snape, but the house is empty and they stay for the night.

Tottenham Court Road, by Catching-Smoke

The two workmen made identical movements, and Harry mirrored them without conscious thought: All three of them drew their wands. Ron… lunged across the table, pushing Hermione sideways onto her bench….


Albus Deathly Hallows Ghost, by Pandora-Gold

The gray figure was gliding toward them, faster and faster, its waist-length hair and beard streaming behind it, its face sunken, fleshless, with empty eye sockets….


A Place to Hide, by Hannah-Dora

Harry looked around to see Hermione crouched on the floor by the door with her arms over her head, and Ron, who was shaking from head to foot, patting her clumsily on the shoulder and saying, “It’s all r-right…. It’s g-gone….”


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

When Arthur Weasley’s patronus soars through the window at Grimmauld Place to let the trio know that the family is safe, I can’t help but be impressed. We never see much of what Arthur does for the Order, really – he’s never in a duel that we witness, or placed in any positions that require particularly quick-thinking. But here, in one motion, he proves himself to be both very caring and very smart. He knows that whatever mission Harry, Ron, and Hermione have left on is vitally important; he knows they will be worrying like crazy about what happened to everyone else at the wedding; and he knows that it’s absolutely critical that they not do anything stupid (though they’ll be tempted) to try to find out what’s going on. So at his first opportunity, Arthur sneaks a message out to the trio, simultaneously assuaging their fears and aiding the most important part of their current mission – staying hidden. Not only does he do it, but he’s the only one to do so. It’s easy for Harry to credit Ron and Hermione for their help, but other Order members like Arthur are pretty darn critical to his mission, too.

The Boy Who Lived

One of the things Harry tried hard to explain when he was teaching defense to the D.A. was that when you’re fighting Dark magic, knowing how to do spells is only half the battle; equally (if not more) important is the ability to keep a cool head and improvise your way through a challenge. And from his many encounters with Voldemort to his Triwizard tasks, Harry has had more experience in situations like these than probably any kid his age in history. But for Ron and Hermione, things tend to come a bit harder – for example, when they enter Grimmauld Place and the dust-Dumbledore approaches them, notice their reactions: Harry stands his ground and raises his wand, even though “no spell occurred to him,” but when he looks around he notices that Ron and Hermione had simply fallen to the ground in terror, unable to muster anything at all. Harry would be lost without his friends, but on a journey like this one, they’d be in trouble without him, too.

Full Circle

There’s a great line in the text, shortly after Harry and Hermione manage to Stun the two Death Eaters who found them in the cafe:

“Never mind what they’re called!” said Hermione a little hysterically. “How did they find us? What are we going to do?”
Somehow her panic seemed to clear Harry’s head.
“Lock the door,” he told her, “and Ron, turn out the lights.”

Harry’s actions here remind me so strongly of a passage a couple of years earlier, where the leader of another group clears his head and takes charge in another urgent situation:

The moment [Fudge] had disappeared, Dumbledore turned to look at the group around Harry’s bed. “There is work to be done,” he said…. “Fudge’s attitude, though not unexpected, changes everything.” (GF36)

After Voldemort’s return, and Fudge’s subsequent refusal to acknowledge it, Dumbledore immediately kicked into high gear, in a matter of minutes ordering Molly and Arthur to round up supporters at the Ministry; sending McGonagall to fetch Hagrid and Madame Maxime to serve as envoys to the giants; having Madame Pomfrey take care of Winky; and having Sirius and Snape shake hands before sending them off on missions as well. In a moment of crisis, Dumbledore stepped up and knew what needed to be done; two-plus years later, Harry now is acting just as he once saw his mentor act – and in a way that all great leaders do.

49 Responses to “A Place to Hide”

  1. Ooh, first post! Great analysis as always. What was Arthur’s patronus again, I don’t seem to remember…

  2. @Lilj4818
    It was a weasel.

  3. Patronus messages seem like they can be really handy. I wonder why we don’t see them in use more often in the series?

  4. Andrea– I think it’s because it’s something invented pretty much soley by Dumbledore (that’s what’s implied, but I’m not a hundred percent positive on that) and that it’s also exceedingly difficult. A patronus is a very difficult spell that not every witch or wizard can do, and it’s likely that making it talk is even harder. You’d have to be pretty good with a wand to be able to do it, I think.

  5. The question that Hermione makes about how the Death Eaters found them will be answered much later, but with this chapter starts a problem. The Death Eaters found them because they said Voldemort’s name on the cafe, but after the arrival at Grimmauld Place starts long a sucession of Voldemort here, Voldemort there, Voldemort this and Voldemort that by Harry, Hermione, Lupin and once Ron (who usually refuses to say the name). If the name is Taboo, makes some kind of magic disturbance and breaks protective spells how the hell the Death Eaters did not found them? The house at Grimmauld Place has many protective enchantments the Order recognizes that they become weaker with Dumbledore’s death and even if they can resist the jinx associated with Voldemort’s name, someone would notice that the Taboo is being repeatedly violated around Grimmauld Place, so why did’nt they send Snape to verify?

  6. Arthur Weasley is one of my most beloved characters throughout the series. I love how you point this out in this chapter, Josie. When the world is a maze of terrifying and bizarre events, Arthur provides calm and reassurance.

  7. Responding to Jose, Death Eaters are sent to investigate Grimmauld Place, apparently to look for a hidden house. Snape probably informed them and told them what to look for. However, the enchantments introduced in this chapter are specifically designed to keep Snape out of the house, so he can’t just storm the place himself. My only question is why Snape couldn’t have informed the Death Eaters about the place when Dumbledore was able to tell Harry in a letter…

  8. @ Jose. I also noticed that but I thought that the protection of Grimmauld Place was so strong that it overcame the taboo. Dumbledore’s enchantments had weakened but that still left the enchantments Sirius’ father had put on the house. And even if Dumbledore’s protection was weakened I bet it was still a lot stronger than what the average wizard could produce. Obviously the Death Eaters knew someone was saying “Voldemort” in the vicinity which is why a couple were stationed outside.

  9. Jose Lopes / JPM, I always assumed that Snape *chose* not to divulge the secret of Grimmauld Place, for Harry’s protection. Voldemort knows that Grimmauld Place belongs to Harry (via the Ministry examining Sirius’s will), but he doesn’t know that it was headquarters of the Order, so he wouldn’t have any particular reason to suspect that Snape can’t get in if Snape doesn’t present him with that information. So when the trio speaks Voldemort’s name, it leads directly to the Death Eaters arriving in the square, but that’s all they’re able to do. In terms of the enchantments breaking, the enchantments on Grimmauld Place are much stronger and more permanent than the ones Hermione later uses on the tent; I think it’s reasonable to think that ‘Muffliato’ could break while a Fidelius Charm and an Unplottable Charm are too strong for the taboo to have any influence over. That’s how I explained it to myself, anyway. :)

    Andrea / Erica, here’s a quote from Rowling’s website about the patronuses:

    “Members of the Order use their Patronuses to communicate with each other. They are the only wizards who know how to use their spirit guardians in this way and they have been taught to do so by Dumbledore (he invented this method of communication). The Patronus is an immensely efficient messenger for several reasons: it is an anti-Dark Arts device, which makes it highly resilient to interference from Dark wizards; it is not hindered by physical barriers; each Patronus is unique and distinctive, so that there is never any doubt which Order member has sent it; [and] nobody else can conjure another person’s Patronus, so there is no danger of false messages being passed between Order members.”

    She doesn’t say how *difficult* a spell it is to perform, but regardless, the only people who have *learned* how are the Order members. I suspect we don’t see them more because for most of the series, Harry is either at Hogwarts (where they aren’t necessary) or on the run while the others are being tracked (so it isn’t safe to try).

  10. About Snape and Grimauld Place:
    Why can’t Snape tell Death Eaters about the place? Did he visit Grimauld Place after Mad-Eye places the tongue-tying jinx and the dust-Dumbledore curse? I know he visited the house after Dumbledore died, to look for Lily’s letter, but as i understand it that was immediately after Dumbledore died and before more protective measures were put in place, right? So Snape was never affected by the tongue-tying jinx and was acting as Secret Keeper himself.

    On a related note, am i right to assume the following effects of Mad-Eye’s spells?
    the tongue-tying jinx won’t let anyone affected retell the secret in any form; if it doesn’t affect writing notes, it’s pretty useless.
    Dusty Dumbledore won’t let anyone who can’t truthfully admit to having killed him pass.

  11. There’s only one danger with the talking Patronus: if the sender is under the Imperius Curse.

  12. Jose Lopes: can a person under Imperius summon enough happiness to actually perform a Patronus??

  13. Yes, like Jose L, I was concerned about the use of Voldy’s name inside GP. It may be true that all the protections are stronger there, but I think in fairness JKR should have cleared that up in the book, since once you learn what the situation is, you go back and try to see where they said it and didn’t.

  14. Also, it’s good for the story that only Order members can send a patronus-gram, or it would change the entire tenor of the stories, as if they all had cell phones.

  15. Re: Grimmauld Place
    I’m of the same opinion that the protections are stronger at Grimmauld Place. Mr. Black didn’t go through the Ministry to protect his house and he kept it hidden from pretty much everyone. Sirius’ dad must have also included some of the surrounding property in some of his spellwork, too, since we only ever see other wizards on the other side of the street, never walking/pacing right in front of numbers 11 and 13.

    Incidentally, in the U.S. (or, at least, every town and city I’ve lived in), the houses aren’t numbered one right after the other–all odds are on one side of the street while even-numbered houses are on the other–and, in addition to that system, they’re not necessarily all the numbers in a row (e.g. (5112, 5114, 5116, 5118)–they often skip. Is the numbering system on Grimmauld Place’s street really that common in the U.K.?

    @Josie: Thank you for adding the new “Full Circle” section–it’s wonderfully appropriate now that we’ve reached Book 7!

  16. It doesn’t bother me that the characters can say Voldemort’s name inside Grimmauld Place without being tracked, but it does bother me that when Lupin visits (a couple of chapters from now) he doesn’t tell them the name has been jinxed.

  17. You have to admire Hermionie’s magic in this chapter. The Undetectable Extension Charm on the purse is fascinating. I love the line: “Oh, damn, that’ll be the books,” she said peering into it, “and I had them all stacked by subject…oh well” That is our Hermionie through and through.

  18. @Billie: But Lupin doesn’t know yet that the name is jinxed, when he visits them. He is as mystified as they are, that the Death Eaters found them so quickly.

  19. About the question if someone under the Imperius Curse will be able to send a talking Patronus, I don’t know, but we have an insight of Harry’s feelings when he was onder the curse: “Harry felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness.” If that feeling of hapiness is enough to be able to cast a Patronus, that’s another story…

  20. Natalia:

    The numbering system you describe is quite common in the UK, especially on streets where there is open space on one side (or the buldings surround an open space). To see examples, use Google Street View on one of the squares in the Barnsbury area, (the likely location of Grimmauld Place) such as Barnsbury Square, Thornhill Square, or Mornington Crescent.

    A few London streets also go “up one side and down the other” – known as “boustrophedon” – meaning “as the ox turns” (presumably when ploughing!) , rather than the more usual “odds and evens”. High Holborn is an example.

  21. Jose Lopes, you have an interesting point. Though I think there’s an argument to be made that the happiness needed to produce a Patronus is a different kind of happiness – a true, deep happiness whereas I read the Imperius Curse line you posted more as a kind of contentment. But regardless, it’s not as though the Imperiused person is depressed… hard to say, isn’t it?

  22. You also can’t help bur notice Hermione’s slight OCD: what’s the use of stacking books by subjects if you can’t even look inside the bag and the quickest way to get something out is Accio, anyways?? =)

  23. Thanks, Timbo!

  24. @Lorena: You’re right, Lupin doesn’t know. But he should, of all people. He uses Voldemort’s name very freely (he uses it during his visit to Grimmauld Place) and it’s been several days since the name was tabooed.

  25. Regarding the taboo – Billie, where in the books does it say exactly when the name was tabooed? And supposing it was only a few days before Lupin visited Grimmauld Place then where would Lupin have found out about it? The Order is not close to the Ministry nowadays, and Snape is regarded as the ‘enemy’ so they would not find out from him. It would not have been common knowledge for a while I would imagine. The first it was spoken about in the book was when Ron came back from his time away by which time people would have ‘caught on’ to this fact.

  26. also regarding the taboo:
    having not read book 7 recently (and without a copy at the moment) i do seem to remember that kingsley was almost caught and only just escaped after saying voldemorts name. doesn’t this suggest that the order in general didn’t know of the taboo for some time after it was created? i think it was ron (after coming back) who mentioned it. i find it very hard to believe that anyone from the order (especially lupin) would keep that from the trio if anyone knew about it, so the simple fact that it was never mentioned until ron comes back seems to prove no one yet knew it was tabooed.

  27. regarding the taboo:
    It is clear that the taboo existed right from the start when the Ministry was taken over, because that was how the Death Eaters found the trio after the Wedding.
    But I would also say that the Order didn’t know for some time. Regarding Lupin, maybe he didn’t mention Voldemort’s name for some time. Or another explanation would be this: when Lupin visits the trio, he tells them that he had to shake of the Death Eaters tailing him – so maybe, they did find him because he mentioned Voldemort’s name, but he didn’t make the connection – he just thought that they followed him because he’s from the Order. He does tell them that the Death Eaters watch everyone/everywhere connected to the Order and Harry. So it maybe took some time for the Order to realize that it had to do with saying the name.

  28. Love the new ‘full circle’ section!

  29. The patronuses are not exatly unique at all. So both McGonagall and Umbridge had a cat as patronus.

  30. @Marco: Yes, but I would guess that these two cats look very different, so they are unique nonetheless – they can’t be mistaken with one another.

  31. @Josie – Thanks for the patronus info!

  32. @Marco: Also, the voices would verify the sender as well. I’m sure no one would mistake Umbridge’s voice for McGonagall ;).

  33. Y’know, Marco, I wondered that too – there are really only so many different animals, so it would be hard to have a Patronus unique to each of hundreds of thousands of wizards. I guess that is where the Order members would have to rely on the voice.

  34. @Marco: I always took “unique” to mean more about the markings, size, voice of the sender, etc. After all, when McGonagall is in her Animagi form she is described as a tabby cat and has distinctive markings around her eyes. I always applied this to Patronuses, too. After all, even Google says there are over 80 breeds of cats and 150 of dogs so there’s still variety to even “common” animals.

  35. the undectable extension charm on Hermione’s purse always reminded me of Mary Poppins…I wonder if she got the idea from there.

  36. I have an “Oops!”

    Hermione says she’s “Nor have I, but I know the theory” in response to Ron’s “I’ve never done a Memory Charm”

    YET she “modified her parent’s memories so that they’re convinced they’re called Wendell and Monica Wilkins”

  37. DarthSnorkack, I don’t think this one was an actual mistake, though I agree that the way it’s written is confusing. Here’s Rowling’s response when someone asked her about it, right after the book was released:

    (Question: “Did Hermione really put a memory charm on her parents she says she did but then about 50 pages later tells ron shes never done a memory charm?”

    J.K. Rowling: “They are two different charms. She has not wiped her parents’ memories (as she later does to Dolohov and Rowle); she has bewitched them to make them believe that they are different people.”

  38. Regarding the talking patronis, how would the DE’s know about them? I doubt DD shared this “invention” with anyone but the Order and even though Snape was privy to the info, he seems to be standing by DD and isn’t sharing this type of info with Voldy or the DE’s.

  39. I thought there was a mistake in this chapter. We learn in The Ghoul In Pyjamas that Hermione has modified her parents’ memories thus enabling her to go on this mission with Harry and protecting her parents at the same time, but then in this chapter when Ron says he’s never produced a memory charm, Hermione replies “Neither have I… but I know the theory”. Unless the charm she used on her parents is completely different, surely this was a mistake by JK.

  40. Oops, I’m sorry, I must have missed a few of those comments at the end just here. I was thinking that it could have been 2 different types of spells involved.

  41. Did anyone have to go back and re-read the dust-Dumbledore thing a few times to figure out what was going on? I think it was a brilliant piece of the book because it kinds of threw you into the panic with Harry. I was just as flustered as he was. More, probably because I had to try and picture it without understanding it. For a second, I thought it was Moody and he had been hiding there for some reason. There were so many things flying around in my head that I literally took a triple take at that passage.

  42. One thing that bugged me about an earlier comment… Where in the book does it ever state that Snape was the Secret Keeper? I was ALWAYS under the impression that it was Dumbledor was the Secret Keeper. That was why it was a note from Dumbledor was what allowed Harry entrance into GP. I don’t know, I could be wrong, but that’s what I was thinking.

  43. Aaron, after the death of the initial Secret Keeper (in this case, Dumbledore), all the people to whom he had confided the secret become, themselves, Secret Keepers. That’s why HRH had to leave Grimmauld Place when Hemione apparated with someone from the ministry still attached to her.

  44. @Martin, several months late, but…About Number Twelve, Snape, and the new enchantments:

    Alastor Moody is a master Auror and quite paranoid in his old age. I would say that the moment he heard of Dumbledore’s death, he went to Number Twelve to add the spells.

  45. I too am a fan of the Full Circle sections – enlightening as always!

    I know with everything else going on in this chapter, it seems trivial to mention Hermione’s offer of a toothbrush to Harry at the end, but I thought somewhere someone said that the wizarding world didn’t have need of / wasn’t aware of dentistry?

  46. Re; Gelatogirl.
    Hermione’s parents are dentists;)

  47. This may seem dumb, but when Dumbledore puts Harry in a body bind up on the Astronomy Tower in Bookk 6, HBP, the spell breaks because the caster, Dumbledore, is dead? Don’t all spells break if the caster dies? Or is it just the spells directly applied to a person? Just wondered.

  48. Quite apart from anything else, another boy who lived bit is the transition from 2nd yr, where Harry drops his wand to look at Ginny, through fourth yr – Cedric the one to ask “Wands out” and beyond to now: “Harry mirrored them without conscious thought: they all drew their wands”. Harry’s instincts are **good.

  49. Oops, I wasn’t swearing. Just italicising.

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