The Department of Mysteries

chapter thirty-four of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry and his friends fly Thestrals to London, then head into the Department of Mysteries. After brief distractions in rooms with spinning doors, brains, a mysterious veil, and a hummingbird, Harry finds the place he’s looking for but no Sirius. However, when one of his friends discovers a ball with his name on it, Harry grabs it – and immediately hears a voice demanding that he turn it over.

Thestral's Flight, by sharpfish

With a sweeping movement that nearly unseated him, the wings on either side extended, the horse crouched slowly and then rocketed upward… through the topmost branches of the trees and soared out into a bloodred sunset.


Luna and Her Thestral, by Heather Campbell

Luna was… sitting sidesaddle and adjusting her robes as though she did this every day.


Harry in the Clouds, by Hala Zabaneh

The thestral’s head was suddenly pointing toward the ground and he had actually slid forward a few inches along its neck. They were descending at last.


62442, by reallycorking

Harry took one glance back at the thestrals, now foraging for scraps of rotten food inside the dumpster, then forced himself into the box after Luna. “Whoever’s nearest the receiver, dial six two four four two!” he said.


Spinning Room, by Alicey

Just as he was gazing ahead at the doors opposite him, trying to decide which was the right one, there was a great rumbling noise and the candles began to move sideways. The circular wall was rotating.

(by Alicey)


Hermione, by MartinTenbones

“Wait!” said Hermione sharply, as Luna made to close the door of the brain room behind them. “Flagrate!” She drew with her wand in midair and a fiery X appeared on the door. No sooner had the door clicked shut behind them than there was a great rumbling, and once again the wall began to revolve very fast, but… the fiery cross still burned, showing the door they had already tried.


The Veil, by MartinTenbones

“I can hear them too,” breathed Luna, joining them around the side of the archway and gazing at the swaying veil. “There are people in there!


Department of Mysteries, by Amanda Grazini

And he led them forward, between the towering rows of glass balls, some of which glowed softly as they passed….


Us and Them, by MartinTenbones

The others moved in closer around Harry, gazing at the orb as he brushed it free of the clogging dust. And then, from right behind them, a drawling voice said, “Very good, Potter. Now turn around, nice and slowly, and give that to me.”


about the chapter


The Wizarding World

While security at the Ministry has seemed a bit lax at times, I still think it’s probably fair to say that on a normal night, six kids wouldn’t be able to fly in from Hogwarts, march into the Ministry, and make their way into the depths of the Department of Mysteries without anybody noticing. Remember, the Department of Mysteries is so top secret that the people who work there aren’t even allowed to talk about their jobs. Remember also that when Sturgis Podmore was arrested at the Ministry, he was trying to force his way through a locked door, but was caught by the security guard (and no doors are locked tonight). Harry does notice the guard is missing, but I wonder what other levels of security would normally be in place here that have been removed tonight for Voldemort’s benefit?

The Boy Who Lived

Having read the book a few times, I find it easy to gloss over exactly what Harry’s doing here, as he isn’t consciously thinking it himself while he makes his way through the Department of Mysteries. But it’s worth a reminder that Harry’s intention in coming to the Ministry this evening was to find, and duel, Voldemort. In a similar encounter a year ago, all he could manage in his desperation was a narrow escape; now he is willingly walking in to battle the most powerful Dark wizard in the world. No wonder his heart is beating so fast; what must his friends be thinking about as they navigate this place?

Something to Remember

The mysterious glass sphere that Harry picks up has an equally mysterious inscription on it: “S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D. – Dark Lord and (?) Harry Potter.” A careful reader could probably work out what all those abbreviations stand for, and consequently get a pretty big clue as to what the item is. On the other hand, working all that out might not do much to improve one’s sense of foreboding for what’s about to come….

30 Responses to “The Department of Mysteries”

  1. LOVE the artwork for this chapter. These pieces really capture a lot of different moods.
    Also liked your commentary about the difference in Harry’s attitude/abilities at the end of Goblet of Fire and here. Rowling does a great job of showing his growth throughout the series.

  2. I find it interesting that, even though they are so careful to use the right names (whether written or with initials), they fear Voldemort’s name so much they can’t even substitute L.V. or something for him. He’s just labeled as the “Dark Lord.”

    And the artwork for this chapter is truly amazing. I especially love the MartinTenbones piece–unique perspective.

    Also, I wonder if Luna’s mom worked for the Dept. of Mysteries or ever had ambitions to work there? It seems right up their alley (weird stuff, unexplained phenomena, testing new potions/spells, etc.)

  3. Josie, I don’t buy that all that security was removed for Voldy’s benefit. I just think that the Ministry’s security is incredibly lax – as is the security at Hogwarts. Voldemort can move guards out of the way, but there should really be some more advanced defenses than that. Six teenagers can walk into the Ministry and amble about for hours, then battle with the most wanted wizard in the world and a dozen-odd of his followers, then are joined in battle by the second-most wanted wizard and a Ministry fugitive and various cohorts. And this is their government? Do you see something like this happening in the White House or Congress?

  4. Every time that I read this chapter I think of how incredibly weird it must be for Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Neville when they are flying on the thestrals that they can’t see. Imagine how scary that must be (or at least it would be scary for me! :) )

  5. I just love the juxtaposition of the drawings by Amanda Grazini and MartinTenbones. I agree with Anna, the art in this chapter is wonderful

  6. hpboy13, I agree that security at the Ministry seems lax, but there has to be something. For one, we know there’s a night guard because he arrested Sturgis Podmore. Sturgis was also trying to get through a locked door, so there has to be a door locked in there somewhere (Department of Mysteries seems a likely candidate, no?). There may not be much security, but I think there has to be something, normally, that the Death Eaters have taken care of tonight.

    Also, remember how secretive the Department of Mysteries is. None of its employees are allowed to discuss their work; even the rooms aren’t public knowledge (the Hall of Prophecy will be described in the Daily Prophet as “fabled”). It doesn’t make any sense at all to go to all that trouble to keep things top secret and then just leave the doors open at night.

  7. Just a quick thought I just had … as the prophecy is labelled Dark Lord would it have been a death eater that labelled it? (we have only ever heard them call Voldy the Dark Lord) and if so could that have been Augustus Rookwood? We know he worked in the dept of Mysteries as he was outed by Karkaroff at his trial in the pensieve in GoF

  8. In the actual prophesy, Trelawney said “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord…” That’s probably why it said “Dark Lord” on the label. And “Harry Potter” had a question mark next to it perhaps not because anyone realized that it could mean Neville, but just because Harry Potter wasn’t actually named in the prophesy.

    And in response to the security: the Salahis got into the White House State Dinner. But this security breach is (aside from being fictional) certainly on a different level.

  9. I agree on what you’re saying, wizardinventor, and even if the real situation is not exactly like in the following picture (half the party will see the Thestrals, the other half won’t), I cannot avoid to imagine this scene:

  10. Jose Lopes, I hadn’t seen that drawing before, it’s a great one! I have seen a couple of other artists use that idea, and I’ve no idea who did it first, but I’ve always been a fan of Marta T’s thestral drawing too (it’s one of the drawings rotating as my desktop):

  11. Marta T’s drawing is also excellent, I think I knew it before, but could’nt find it again when I search the net…
    One thing about the glass sphere inscription: “S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D. – Dark Lord and (?) Harry Potter” Harry heard Dumbledore’s complete name during his hearing, knew that Professor Trelawney made two previsions so far but did’nt make the connection.
    I guess that Hermione eventually made at least part of the connection, but much later.

  12. Back in Chapter 9, Harry Mr. Weasley notice Lucius Malfoy talking to Cornelius Fudge in outside of the Department of Mysteries. The reason Lucius was there was most likely to see what kind of locks and enchantments were on the door to the Department of Mysteries. I think the reason why there was no night guard is because he might have been put under the Imperius Curse by a Death Eater to unlock the door to the Department of Mysteries and then was told to go somewhere out of the way and not to raise the alarm.

  13. Josie, I agree there’s a night guarde, but clearly Voldy and co took care of him. But there’s no other indication of security. The locked door Sturgis was trying to get through I think was the door to the Love Room, because otherwise he could enter just as the DEs did. And I agree that it doesn’t make sense to have security be this lax, but there you are.

    Also, even if the DoM did have stringent security measures, this doesn’t erase the fact that six teenagers walked into the main Ministry building in the middle of the night through the visitor entrance.

  14. hpboy13, I think you’re missing my point. You’re right in the sense that we don’t know specifically what the security is, because we don’t see it. But I think you’re going a step too far in assuming that therefore, there must not normally be any. The Death Eaters would have been given specific instructions tonight to eliminate any obstacles to Harry’s entrance to the Hall of Prophecy. This would include opening the visitors’ entrance if it is normally closed, eliminating any normal guards, unlocking any doors that would normally be locked, etc. We don’t know what those obstacles would be, but just because there’s no other indication of security doesn’t mean it wouldn’t normally be there. Does that make more sense?

    And actually, I think we do have some (if very little) indication as to what security measures normally are, from the story about Sturgis Podmore. You could explain his trying to open a locked door by saying it was the door to the Love Room, but whether he was framed or Imperiused (and it has to be one of the two), he doesn’t have any reason to be trying to get in there. It makes much more sense for the locked door to be either the entrance to the Dept of Mysteries, or if he was Imperiused, another of the doors between that point and the prophecy.

  15. I only wish Rowling would have explain better about the room with the arch and the veil.

  16. I get your point Josie, and I see no evidence to suggest other security. If this so-called security can be removed by a dozen Death Eaters, that really doesn’t say much for the security. The other explanation is that Rookwood knows all the tricks to disable security, which would mean security hasn’t changed at all in fifteen years, which again implies very poor security. No matter how you look at it, security int he wizarding world is a total farce. And it’s even more indicative that not a single person KNEW there was anything going on in the Ministry when there was a full-scale battle raging.

  17. remember though, the ministry still dosen’t know that voldemorts back, and no one else would have any reason to go in there. the wizarding world is a tight community and they all seem to trust everybody. rememberr the security at hogwarts? they wouldn’t need to put securities around it that would be completely unbrakeable, just enough to tell fred and george like people that they’re not supposed to be there.

  18. You know the thing I always wondered was, If Harry and friends could get into the Ministry so easily and grab the prophecy, then why couldn’t Voldemort have done the same thing? There are a couple of different ways for Voldemort to find out what the prophecy says but he seems to go about it in the most convoluted way possible.

  19. MartinTenbones, I was thinking about that, too. Voldemort seems to have a huge weakness for convoluted plans that are high drama and serve multiple purposes at once (see also: graveyard scene in Goblet of Fire, forest scene in Deathly Hallows).

    One of the purposes, though, always seems to be to kill Harry. It is so hard to get Harry away from his protection at Hogwarts/Privet Drive that I think killing him had to be one of Voldemort’s aims. Why else would he show up at the Ministry himself? But it seems extraordinarily foolish to me, much like giving Harry his wand in the graveyard in GF. Voldemort has been fooled by the prophecy before; even if he intends to listen to it tonight before killing Harry, he isn’t giving himself much time to think over its meaning. So much hubris, I guess.

  20. You are of course not the only one to consider him foolish here, Josie:
    “It was foolish to come here tonight, Tom. The Aurors are on their way…”

  21. I loved this chapter so much on my last e-read with the audio book. It’s very cinematic and I love the images of the rooms in the Department of Mysteries, especially the room with the doors and the one with the veil. That scene with the veil was brilliant. I love the different reactions to it that the characters have, especially Harry and Hermione. Harry is quite powerfully drawn to it, as though facinated. Hermione seemed was being rather forcefully logical about it, but seemed anxious to get away from it nonetheless.

    I love that Luna rides side saddle. I wish the movie had made the thestral journey the dramatic flight scene rather than the broomsticks at the beginning, and made it tense rather than beautiful.

  22. Hello, I am a long time lurker and I absolutely adore this site and I always am sure to recommend it to any and all pottereads I talk to! I am currenty doing my annual summer reread of 1-7.

    I always wondered if the fact that Harry, Neville, and Luna have a very different reaction to the veil has something to do with the fact that they have seen someone die and can see thestrals. Ron, Ginny, and Hermione seem more scared of it, and the other 3 seem to be almost hypnotized by it.

  23. When I first read this, I was so frustrated about the Love Room! I wanted to know what was in it so bad! And I was so sure that it would come into play in the books later on, but never really did. Sure, the idea that love is the most powerful magic comes into play, but I thought the actual room would show up again and it never did. I even started my own fanfiction based around it, but never finished it.

    The artwork is so beautiful for this chapter! Definitely one of my favorites. Though, I was a little sad there was no artwork for the Time Room (I didn’t feel the Brain room needed one, really, because of the illustration of the tank in the book). Perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised next chapter =]

    The movie’s depiction of the events in the Department of Mysteries was so disappointing. It’s my favorite battle in the whole series, it’s just so epic, and the movie really let me down. I guess I should have been expecting it, but oh well. At least the Voldemort/Dumbledore duel was intense!

  24. about security:
    how can a OoTP member come to guard the prophecy each night?
    and how come no questions are asked when mr. weasley is attacked?
    i always thot that the death eaters removed all the security to allow safe passage to prophecy hall.

    if voldy did had apparated at the right time he could have got them…but thinking about it, harry amazes me if sirius black(whos a better magician)
    couldnt get voldy, then how could harry??? he was leading 5 of them to their doom and he didnt stop and think.

    cudnt voldy just apparate in the room after ensuring that all security is lifted?

    and something rather interesting voldy uses many spells against DD but only unforgivable ones against harry, if he had attacked harry through fire (okay copied from paolini) he cudnt just be disarmed, could he?

  25. @ud i’m sure the ootp used a dissilusiment charm or an invisibilty cloak maybe

  26. On Voldemort’s over-complicated schemes that Josie Kearns points out:

    I once read a fascinating speculation that this might be (at least, in part) a consequence of his having split his soul so many times to make multiple Horcruxes, affecting his judgement disastrously (disastrously for him, of course, not for everyone else).

  27. Harry “You’d better hope it stays invisible.” Which make me wonder if Muggles can see thestrals.

  28. To MartinTenbones: re why couldn’t Voldemort grab the prophesy
    The Prophecy Records have stringent anti-theft spells placed upon them so that only those referred to in the Prophecies can remove them. The spell induces madness which is what happened to Broderick Bode causing him to believe he was a teapot

  29. willie, don’t forget that Voldemort is one of the people this particular prophecy was referring to. So he should have been able to grab it.

  30. D’oh (just being a blond again)
    I was about Neville not the Chosen One because had he been, Harry would not have been able to retrieve the prophecy. Forgot all about the other one mentioned
    Happy Holidays to you and yours

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