The Phoenix Lament

chapter twenty-nine of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry returns to the hospital wing, where he spreads the news of Dumbledore’s death and learns that everyone else is okay, and they discuss the night’s events. McGonagall then questions him about Dumbledore and asks the heads of house about closing Hogwarts, and Harry finally returns to his room as Fawkes, singing all night after Dumbledore’s death, leaves Hogwarts for good.

Phoenix Lament, by Chantelle

He did not want to leave Dumbledore’s side, he did not want to move anywhere….


Harry, Come On, by Mudblood428

Then another voice said, “Harry, come on.” A much smaller and warmer hand had enclosed his and was pulling him upward.


Bill in the Hospital Wing, by cambium

Harry looked over Hermione’s shoulder and saw an unrecognizable face lying on Bill’s pillow.

(by cambium)


With the News of the Murder of Dumbledore, Lupin Sinks into a Nearby Chair, by Drew Graham

“Ron – Dumbledore’s dead,” said Ginny.
“No!” Lupin looked wildly from Ginny to Harry, as though hoping the latter might contradict her, but when Harry did not, Lupin collapsed into a chair beside Bill’s bed, his hands over his face.


Lone Wolf, by LMRourke

“Snape was a highly accomplished Occlumens,” said Lupin, his voice uncharacteristically harsh. “We always knew that.”


by Nat Dai

“You thought I would not weesh to marry him? Or per’aps, you hoped? said Fleur…. “What do I care how he looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk! All those scars show is zat my husband is brave!”

(by Nat Dai)


Too Old, Too Poor, Too Dangerous, by reallycorking

“It’s different,” said Lupin…. “Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely -“
“But… I don’t care!” said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin’s robes and shaking them.


Zzzz, by mneomosyne

In silence… they entered the circular office…. It looked almost exactly as it had done when [Harry] and Dumbledore had left it mere hours previously; … And a new portrait had joined the ranks of the dead headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts.


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

We hear lots about wizarding prejudices against Muggles, giants, goblins, centaurs, house-elves, and all sorts of other rational creatures – but we never hear too much about veela. Perhaps this is because they only seem to exist in certain parts of the world (and not much in Britain); otherwise why would Bulgaria have used them as a national mascot? But after reading Molly’s reaction to Fleur in this chapter, I can’t help but wonder if the open disdain with which Molly has been treating her future daughter-in-law might have something to do with her veela background. It would make sense for veela to be known as unreliable, flighty, and superficial; after all, we know this is more or less what Ollivander thinks of wands made with veela hair. And it would also make sense for this to be Molly’s fear in Bill marrying Fleur – that Fleur will one day decide she’s had enough of Bill, and break his heart. This would explain, then, why this is the moment that Molly has a change of heart. Bill has been ravaged and lost his good-looks, and Fleur proves to Molly that she’s not a stereotype, but rather truly in love with Bill, and truly in it for the long haul. It seems this takes Molly by such surprise that she completely changes her attitude in a minute, but I’d bet that she spent a good part of that minute thinking about her own biases and how they might just have been a bit unfair to Fleur.

The Final Word

(In December 2005 J.K. Rowling gave an interview with Stephen Fry, a well-known British actor who read all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the British recorded versions. The following is an excerpt from their conversation about Dumbledore.)
JKR: “I find this a really difficult question to answer myself, and I wrote the characters, so I don’t see why you should find it any easier, really, but I’m going to ask. Is there any character with whom you identify particularly?”
SF: “The easy wisdom and slightly kind of twinkling…”

JKR: “Of Dumbledore.”
SF: “…quality of Dumbledore. I’ve always had this love of great teachers. With the first fictional character I [unintelligible] created was for a radio program, was an old Cambridge Don, Donald Trefusis.”

JKR: “I used to listen to Donald Trefusis, yeah.”
SF: “Do you remember an Archbishop of Canterbury called Ramsay, the last of the really sort of great and monumental primates of the Church of England? Which I don’t mean an ape, of course. [JKR laughs] And I remember seeing him being interviewed by a Malcolm Muggeridge type person who said, ‘Now, you’re going to be a very wise man.’ He said, ‘Am I, am I, am I wise, I wonder, am I wise, am I?’ [Both laugh] And the interviewer said, ‘Well, Your Grace, perhaps you could explain what you think wisdom is?’ ‘Wisdom, wisdom. Mmm Mmm, wisdom. I think it’s the ability to cope.’”

JKR: “Oh, is that…”
SF: “Which is a marvelous definition, you know. It is, and so right, I mean it comes, as you know, is the wisdom is the kingdom of wit, it is wit, witdom, wit-knowing, the German of knowing, wissenschaft and so on, and in wit is a marvelous…” 

JKR: “See, you are Dumbledore, look. [SF laughs] A natural teacher.”
SF: “And that sense of being able to cope with things.”

JKR: “Yes.”

SF: “It’s not how much you know.”

JKR: “No.”

SF: “And you sense…”
JKR: “Something completely different.”
SF: “… that with that rather marvelous, occasionally rather tired, worn quality that Dumbledore has, because he’s experienced so much, and he can cope, but he would almost rather not be able to.”

JKR: “Absolutely. That’s exactly right. Dumbledore does express the regret that he has always had to be the one who knew, and who had the burden of knowing. And he would rather not know.”
December 2005

Another Final Word

“Something had to leave the school for good when Dumbledore died, and I decided that would be Fawkes. Dumbledore was a very great and irreplacable man, and the loss of Fawkes (and the fact that he was ‘non-transferable’!) expresses this symbolically.”–J.K. Rowling, July 2007

39 Responses to “The Phoenix Lament”

  1. I like that discussion of wisdom. And of course Fawkes had to go if Dumbledore went. I really like the art of Bill, and Fleur, and Lupin, and the illustration of the protraits.

  2. I’ve never thought that Molly’s dislike of Fleur was because of her veela origins. I think Molly believed Fleur to be unworthy of her son because she saw her as a selfish ans shallow girl, not the kind of wife she wanted for Bill, but in this chapter Fleur proved her wrong so she had a change of heart.

  3. I love the part when Fawkes is singing his lament to the grounds, always makes me cry.

    Josie, that’s a very interesting POV on biases against veela. I always thought it was because as a woman, Molly was immune to the charms of Fleur (as a veela). Ginny regards Fleur the same way her mother does, and although I think this is more to do with siding with her mother, Ginny also is annoyed that Fluer has such an effect on all the males in her life. I think the bias theory is a good one though. Would you apply it to wizards as well as witches? In the books it doesn’t seem as if any of the males are immune to the veelas’ charms.

  4. Jennifer C., I beg to differ. Harry is less susceptible than Ron to the forest clearing gathering of Veela, and Mr. Weasley appears less susceptible than either of them. While you could argue that total immunity is not any of theirs to boast, equally it could be not so much about immunity as the ability to resist, such as how Harry can resist Imperius and Snape can resist Legilimency.

  5. I loved the part in the movie where Luna leads them all to light their wands for Dumbledore. I thought it was a really sweet touch.

    And i also never thought about why Molly didnt like Fluer but thats a really good idea that its because she was part Veela…

  6. Rtozier-remember when Mr. Weasley is bringing Fleur’s parents to their home in book 7 and he’s quite beside himself? I am thinking that some veela are stronger than others, and anyway Fleur is not 100% veela, she’s got it through her grandmother. I agree that the male’s ability to resist comes into play-Ron is defintely more susceptible than the others to most things. I guess it’s an attraction kind of thing. Mr. Weasley also has the experience of knowing what veela can do, remember in book 4 at the World Quidditch Cup when he suggests that Ron and Harry plug their ears?

  7. Boy, we are going to have to change our names, because now there are two “Anna’s” posting and apparently the software allows that, and I keep going, “I didn’t write that!” :)

    I love when Fleur shows herself to have much more depth than pretty much anyone in the stories gave her credit for. I love that whole scene and how she says “what? do you think he won’t want to marry me now?” (paraphrase)

    I also like how Fawkes leaves.

  8. Also, I was wondering if the portraits readjust when a new headmaster joins them, i.e. so the most recent one is in the spot closest to the head’s desk for easier consultation. Any thoughts?

  9. I absolutely agree with you, Josie. Not only Molly is prejudiced but Ginny is as well and would rather that Bill married Tonks. Ginny definitely thought Fleur superficial. Molly and Ginny realize that Bill is not as impulsive as they thought.

    My favorite part of the chapter is Fawks’ comforting song, healing their grief. It is touching how they are all together sharing that special moment.

  10. Think of all the “blond” jokes that abound. Beautiful women do have to work extra hard to show that they’ve got brains and are indeed competent at their activities / work (she’s not just another pretty face…). JKR has done such a great job of showing the competency of so very many of her female characters (even most of the evil ones are pretty (oops) competent. Fleur has been protrayed as a bit of an air-head earlier in the series, but as also noted earlier, the Goblet of Fire must have thought she was competent to compete … not a small accomplishment.
    There is also some “growing up” that ALL of the characters do, especially in this situation.
    In short, I think Fleur was competent and that Bill saw that. I had previously believed that Molly was showing a loving mother’s view that no woman would ever be good enough for her son (similar to a father’s view that no man would ever be good enough for his daughter). However, I do think that Josie was correct to bring out that there may be some prejudice against the Veela in Fleur.
    Of course, the artwork is awesome…

  11. “I had previously believed that Molly was showing a loving mother’s view that no woman would ever be good enough for her son (similar to a father’s view that no man would ever be good enough for his daughter).” -Gary

    I was under the same impression, especially because Bill seems to be a ‘favorite’ child (he’s the eldest, he has a dangerous job, he’s been away from home the longest) but I really like the point Josie brought up. It may not have even been an obvious prejudice like those who fight against werewolves, etc., but more of a subconscious one, also like Gary mentioned with blondes.

    And I (or someone else) may have mentioned this in the GoF commentary, but I figured Mr. Weasley was more immune to the veela’s influence 1) because he’s older and knows what’s coming and 2) because he’s already married and this is just showing how connected he is to his wife.

    Also, another assumption (I’m so glad this Companion exists, because it makes me realize I’ve made assumptions I didn’t know existed) I made, was that while veela make men go a little crazy for them, it also puts women a little more on edge–just like any beautiful woman would make most women a little insecure and a bit jealous. But, once again, these are my own assumptions. :)

  12. Yeah, I think the whole veela point is summarized in the wrock song “Being a Veela is Easy.” Of course girls would hate veela – they are the stunningly beautiful girls who have all the guys fawning over them. Of course Ginny, who’s had an unrequited crush on Harry for many years, and Hermione, who’s had a huge crush on Ron for many years, would resent a girl like that. And to be fair, Fleur did act like a total princess at the Burrow.

  13. Another thing about Fleur and the female Weasleys: they might be a magical family, but they’re also very English. And Fleur is not only beautiful, not only blonde, not only highly intelligent, not only part-Veela: she’s (gasp!) French! It’s actually very impressive that Molly can overcome all those prejudices at once; impressive, and a tribute to both her and Fleur.

  14. Edited to clarify, and to add a PG warning: the English ‘know’ that the French are casually promiscuous – it’s embedded in their popular culture. So when they go to France they embarrass the (highly respectable!) locals by assuming that they, too, are allowed to be somewhat blatant. With the result that the French know, only too well, that the English are casually promiscuous … and this puzzles the English tourists greatly. Thus does mutual misunderstanding prosper!

  15. @Lupin: I always start crying when I read Lupin say “No!”. It is a simple paragraph and statement but it means so much. Everyone Lupin loved as a child and young man are gone. He has lost his 3 best friends, I assume his parents are gone because there is never any mention of them and now he just lost Dumbledore. Without Dumbledore Lupin wouldn’t have even been at Hogwarts. Now the only people he has left that he truly loves are Harry and Tonks. And on top of that he is a wearwolf and has been all his life. So he is accepted by society either. Of course we know Lupin doesn’t live much longer but it is such a sad scenario to live in. Lupin is my favorite character in the series. RIP Remus Lupin. 

  16. Agreed – after I went to bed, I was thinking more about Fleur. I agree the English/French thing is very big. Also the fact that she was so shallow & rude when she first visited the Burrow. The Veela piece is probably in there, but I think the other two pieces are bigger.

  17. Speaking of Head’s office portraits, will Umbridge get one when she snuffs it (possibly) in Azkaban? Or does the Head’s office having sealed itself against her (possibly not recognising her headship as Dumbledore never resigned) / her unhelpful nature compared with the “honour-bound to give service to the present Head of Hogwarts” make this not happen?

  18. I always felt that she was never a “true” head, since the office would not let her in, so the office would also not accept her portrait.

  19. Since the office did not have a portrait of Snape until after Harry made sure it was put there (according to JKR), I imagine that Umbridge does not have one. Though it would be funny to watch the other Heads berate her.

  20. Austen, I think that’s why Jo decided to kill off Lupin instead of Arthur. Arthur has his entire family to live for, too many people he loves, too happy a life…she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Lupin, on the other hand, has almost no one.

  21. Austen, I can’t agree with you here – that may have been true a year or two earlier, but when Lupin is killed is totally different. My “only” family is my wife and infant son, but they are my life – I’d be pretty offended if someone suggested that because I don’t have six more kids I have no one to live for.

  22. I think JK Rowling may have decided not to kill Arthur because he’s the one actual and wholly positive father figure in the books. Also because it would have a huge effect on Ron’s character and that is something she obviously decided she didn’t want to have to deal with. I think she made the right decision, although I love Lupin, there needs to be a set of parents who are there and okay all the way through. Also, it makes for more conflict/variety in the trio if Ron’s family stays whole, totally unlike Harry’s. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley occupy an extremely important position in the whole series, they set an example of normality that grounds and situates everything else.
    (It’s a bit painful to say that, because my parents are currently going through a potential break up, so maybe that’s why it came to mind).

  23. I like the idea of Lupin and Tonks, but I must admit they seem a bit under written to me. What do you all think of them?

  24. hazelwillow: I totally agree on Tonks and Lupin. Lupin’s a great character in PoA, but we essentially see him as Harry’s teacher, albeit a very good one, and he disappears into the background after that so we never really experience him as Remus/James’ friend, ’cause that’s Sirius’ role. After you see him and Tonks in this chapter, the very very very subtle references to their relationships that were made earlier on fall into place, but that doesn’t really make up for what was left behind. As a result, the whole midlife crisis he goes through in book 7 came rather out of the blue for me. I would sure have wanted to

  25. read more about them and the development of their relationship. It’d be great if Jo wrote a “special” about them.

    re: Fleur

    I love, love, LOVE her so much in this!!! The part where she goes “I’m beautiful enough for both” I always get tangled up between tears and laughter.

  26. @Josie. I agree with you. When he dies he is in a much different situation. But at this point he doesn’t have a child or wife. He hasn’t got anyone really. What I meant by sad life was overall. Not just his last year. Lupin had a lot of heartache in his life and it would be a sad life to live.

    @hazelwillow/Irene: I half agree with you too. Lupin was under featured but I don’t think he was under written. I believe we got a full grasp on his character in the scenes he was in but I do agree that he could have been shown a lot more. Tonks as well.

    Intresting thing I just read. After the Battle over Little Whinging, 13 people (Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Fleur, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks and Hagrid) gathered in The Burrow to mourn the death of Alastor Moody. Afterwards, Lupin stood up and offered to look for Moody’s dead body. Later in the Battle of Hogwarts, Lupin was killed by Antonin Dolohov thus making another of Trelawney’s predictions came true: that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die.

    I am not sure if that is 100% accurate because Fred may die 1st but we will never know.

  27. Sirius was also the 1st to rise the year before in a group of 13.

  28. I love it. JKR goes out of her way in book 3 to demonstrate that there’s no truth to the “13 at table” superstition, and then quietly uses it herself – not once, but twice. I didn’t catch it in book 5 until someone pointed it out on this site, and didn’t catch it in book 7 until Austen pointed it out just now. Thank you, Austen!

  29. P.S. to above – And now we know why Kingsley had to return to Downing Street before supper in that chapter – JKR had to reduce the number staying for supper to 13.

  30. I always thought that this chapter was interesting, even more so after I read book 7. Hence the reason I laugh bitterly every time I read over “And he didn’t think my mother was worth a damn either.”.

    I also love how there’s a kind of domino effect on the drama (um, I may be wrong): first, Dumbledore’s death, then Harry confronting Snape, then Molly and Fleur’s hugging (loved that:D) and then insight on Lupin’s personal life. Lot’s going on!

  31. Billie, it probably also happened at the Yule Ball. There were thirteen at the high table. Although it isn’t directly stated, I think Cedric probably stood up first to open the dancing.

  32. Trelawney’s a funny character… The book goes a long way describing her as a fraud, but her stuff keeps coming true. My theory is that she’s a true seer, in an inadvertent and incompetent sort of way.

  33. Trelawney and the prophecies in general are a fascinating thing in the series. They bassically stated as pure rubbish (with the exception of the two “true prophecies”) by everyone. After the 3rd book I accepted that Seeing isn’t really a true form of magic. Basically that it is close to what we have for magic; loads of trickier but little else. But when you look at Trelawney’s “fake prophecies” many of them came true. Here are some examples (I copied many of these from HarryPotterWiki)

    1: The “1st to rise when 13 dine” that I mentioned above.
    2: She told Neville Longbottom to take a blue cup after breaking his first one, because she likes the pink ones. Neville immediately took a cup, broke it, and then later broke his second cup too.
    3: She told Parvati Patil to beware of red headed men. Parvati immediately suspected Ron. At the Yule Ball, Harry and Ron, Parvati’s and her sister Padma’s dates, ignored her and her sister. Two years later, Ron started going out with Parvati’s best friend Lavender Brown, who started to ignore Parvati.
    4: She said that “one would leave them forever, near Easter”. Hermione left the class around Easter.
    5: Trelawney said she saw dark events ahead for Umbridge, which Umbridge immediately dismissed as nonsense. Later, Umbridge was dragged off and imprisoned by centaurs in the Forbidden Forest.

    Now I realize many of these could be seen as stretching BUT in literature very little is unplanned. Maybe one or two could be considered verisimilitude but there are about 12 examples of Trelawney’s fake predictions coming true. This isn’t just a coincidence BUT JK has made it very clear that Trelawney is considered a fraud. It is such an interesting thing to ponder. I wonder what JKR’s intent was….

  34. When it comes to Trelawny’s predictions, I view most of them in much the same way I view horoscopes – they’re so vague that they have to come true, in one way or another. Neville is known to be very clumsy and probably the most likely member of the class to break a teacup. Trelawny could have found out about this any number of ways – perhaps it is mentioned in the staff room to look out for the Longbottom boy; he accidentally seems to cause damage wherever he goes? Thus a prediction of him breaking a teacup would be a relatively safe one, as even if it hadn’t happened that day, it probably would have sometime during the year.

    Telling Parvati to beware of a red headed man… well, I’m sure Ron isn’t the only redhead out there who has wronged her, and yet if Trelawny had said instead blonde men or dark haired men, I’m sure Parvati would be able to find someone fitting those descriptions who also hasn’t done her any good.

    With how horrible a person Umbridge was, who DIDN’T see dark events ahead for her?

    The trick to such predictions is to find a way to phrase them so that if you’re looking for a way to make them come true, you’ll find them. The only times when Trelawny gives enough detail that this isn’t accurate are the times when she slips into a trance and gives her “real” prophecies.

    As for the thing about 13 dining together… I personally think that’s something JKR slipped in there just for fun to see who would notice. If I was an author, that’s something I would do.

  35. I always liked the pairing Lupin/Tonks, I found them quite sweet. I also really like Lupin as a character, he’s one of my favorites.
    A lot of people seem to have a hard time with lots of the love realtionships in HP, saying they are underdeveloped – Harry/Ginny is a popular one there.. but I simply think this is because these books are not love stories in first hand, and it would be really strange if suddenly a lot of the story was focused on a relationship instead of the Harry vs. Voldemort scenario. I think it’s impressive that JKR managed to put in these love stories to make the characters more real, but still not taking the focus away from our main story. This is not a romantic fantasy novel ala Twilight, after all.

  36. I get why Fawkes left, both from the standpoint of his character, and from the standpoint of the author, but a part of me has always felt abandoned by Fawkes. The Order, and Harry especially, could have really used Fawkes during the war.

  37. Does anybody know who became Deputy Headmaster/mistress after Dumbledore was killed? It’s obvious that Minerva took the job of Headmistress, but who would she have as her second-in-command? I think had things not turned out as they did, that Snape would’ve been in the running too, since it is obvious that McGonagall and Snape are his most trusted friends, he would want them to run the school, especially since they were both in the Order. I guess since he’s no longer an option she would’ve chosen Flitwick. Does anybody know?

  38. Hagrid was slated as Gryffindor Head of House, but I don’t know who the Deputy.
    The HBP book is one of the most teenager-y, in a way. In fourth and late third they start becoming teens & noticing each other “like that”; fifth year this develops somewhat, as well as teen emotions. Sixth year, everything’s happening!
    Harry is agonising over Ginny. Ginny’s getting mad at Ron for butting in. Hermione for a few weeks presumably gets hurt by Ginny if/ when she is told/ realises that Ginny let the bit about Krum slip; she also gets cross with Ron. Ron gets cross with Hermione….
    Imagine going through these parts of the book from an outsider’s perspective – e.g., Neville or Luna.
    Also, the boys in particular are being a bit more reckless than usual: like with Harry’s spell-casting & spying. I don’t relate very much with THAT part.
    Then the second love-subplot of HBP: Remus and Dora. If you go back & look, the hints are there abs I hint it rather funny, but bittersweet due to the reasons. Poor Moony! And Dora.
    The funniest example to me is Remus, at Christmastime at the Burrow, “staring deeply into the fire as though he could not hear Celestina Warbeck’s voice”. Really? When the radio volume keeps going up? And songs like “A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love” and “You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me” are playing? I don’t believe that observation. And I can’t help but think of a moment a few minutes later, when Harry tells Remus Dora’s Patronus has changed to something that was “big….with four legs”. Harry then comes to a strange realisation of “Hey, it couldn’t be-?” While he was think of Sirius by confusing grief for romantic love, I wonder if Remus silently finishes the statement: “Me?”

    Interesting discussion about Fleur. I might store some of it away for reference, as the feud confused me a bit… I don’t have any experience with that!

  39. I don’t know but personally I prefer Sprout. Flitwick doesn’t seem the type to me who’d want the job, plus he’s quite a bit older than Sprout. Personally I like to think that Sprout is the current and 2017 (Nineteen Years Later) Headmistress, McGonagall having retired around 2008.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: