The Lost Prophecy

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

Harry returns to Dumbledore’s office, where Dumbledore takes the blame for Sirius’s death and (amidst Harry’s rage) explains to Harry why he took Occlumency, why Voldemort is after him, and why he has to stay with the Dursleys for protection – and tells him of the Prophecy, which says that either Harry or Voldemort will one day kill the other.

Had Enough, Seen Enough, by reallycorking

“There is no shame in what you are feeling, Harry,” said Dumbledore’s voice. “On the contrary… the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength.”


Too Many Things, by MartinTenbones

“I DON’T CARE!” Harry yelled…, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH, I’VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON’T CARE ANYMORE -“


Tell You Everything, by Runcible

“Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses. “It is time,” he said, “for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything. I ask only a little patience.”


The Lost Prophecy, by FrizzyHermione

A figure rose out of [the Pensieve], draped in shawls, her eyes magnified to enormous size behind her glasses, and she revolved slowly, her feet in the basin. But when Sibyll Trelawney spoke, it was not in her usual ethereal, mystic voice, but in the harsh, hoarse tones Harry had heard her use once before. “THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES….”


The War That Was Foreseen, by Beeeb

Harry asked, without caring much about the answer, “The end of the prophecy… it was something about… ‘neither can live…’”
“‘…while the other survives,’” said Dumbledore.
“So,” said Harry, dredging up the words from what felt like a deep well of despair inside him, “so does that mean that… that one of us has got to kill the other one… in the end?”

(by Beeeb)


Dumbledore, by LMRourke

“I feel I owe you another explanation, Harry,” said Dumbledore hesitantly. “You may, perhaps, have wondered why I never chose you as a prefect? I must confess… that I rather thought… you had enough responsibility to be going on with.”


about the chapter


So after five books, we finally learn that the background of the story line for the entire series comes down to one thing: a prophecy. And it was seriously made by… Trelawney? Also interesting, of course, is the fact that it could have been Neville, and not Harry, who was the subject of the stories. The idea reminds me of one of my favorite Harry Potter-related conversations I’ve had, in a chat room after the sixth book’s release, when folks were discussing possible titles for book seven (which of course ended up being Deathly Hallows). My favorite suggestion for a title? Neville Longbottom and the Misunderstood Prophecy. It would have been worth it for the humor alone.

Something You May Not Have Noticed

Dumbledore casually mentions to Harry that the record of Trelawney’s prophecy in the Department of Mysteries was relabeled after he vanquished Voldemort as a baby. After all, this event made it clear that the prophecy was referring to him, and not Neville. This is an interesting notion, however, because we’ve already learned that the employees of the Hall (like Bode) were unable to touch the orbs without great personal injury – yet somehow they still must be able to listen to the contents of the prophecies in order to accurately label their contents (and after all, if you can’t listen to them somehow, why keep the records?). The enchantments, it seems, are not designed to prevent the prophecies from being known so much as prevent their removal from the top-secret Department of Mysteries.

The reason it’s interesting, of course, is because this means some of the Unspeakables who worked in the Department of Mysteries were aware of the contents of this prophecy. And the Unspeakables have to report to someone, right? I think whoever was Minister of Magic at the time the prophecy was made must have been given this information, given its importance in fighting Voldemort (though of course it was kept top secret). Still, it’s not a stretch to suggest that the information was been passed down to Cornelius Fudge, too; and while he presumably thought that Harry had already vanquished Voldemort, the idea casts an interesting new light on his relationship with the boy over the years, no?

The Power of Magic

It’s interesting to think about the role that prophecies might play in the wizarding world. It seems there is some magic that creates a record of each prophecy made in the Department of Mysteries – but there have clearly been tons of them since this practice was established. After all, the Hall of Prophecy has at least ninety-seven rows of the things, each row too long to see from one end to the other, and each shelf “towering” over the kids as they walked among them. What were all those prophecies referring to? And who made them? We know that Sybill Trelawney’s great-grandmother was a gifted Seer, Cassandra Trelawney; it’s certainly possible that she made thousands of predictions herself, and that a few Seers like her are the source of most of the hall’s contents.

Then there’s also the question of why “some of them had a weird, liquid glow; others were as dull and dark within as blown lightbulbs” when Harry saw the prophecies. Does this, perhaps, indicate which ones came to fruition (the dark ones, perhaps, never happened)? And was Harry’s perhaps in row 97 because the prophecies are ordered chronologically, and therefore his would be near the end? I’d bet somewhere in row 97 or 98 is a ball marked “S.P.T. to H.J.P.,” indicating the prophecy he heard at the end of his third year.

Of course, another idea that just occurred to me is that most of the prophecies recorded might just be boring, meaningless snippets of students in Divination class at Hogwarts….

Life at Hogwarts

The portraits’ responses when Harry arrives in Dumbledore’s office are interesting. It’s clear Dumbledore has been away for a while, as they complain of the boredom they experienced in the headmaster’s absence. But there are a couple of other interesting nuggets, too:

Everything seemed to have repaired itself during the headmaster’s absence. The delicate silver instruments stood again upon the spindle-legged tables, puffing and whirring serenely.


“And what brings you here in the early hours of the morning?” said Phineas. “This office is supposed to be barred to all but the rightful headmaster.”

These quotes are interesting to me because, when coupled with the knowledge from several chapters back that Umbridge threw a tantrum when Dumbledore’s office wouldn’t let her in, they would almost seem to imply that Dumbledore just might have spent some time in his office even after he “left” Hogwarts. After all, he has the means to come and go as he wishes, via Fawkes (and he can make himself invisible…). And he also told McGonagall that he wasn’t leaving Hogwarts “to go into hiding,” either. So just where did he go? We never find out for sure, but that tower is his home. It’s a possibility that, for a while at least, he might have just hung around. And repaired his instruments and locked his door while he was at it.

The Boy Who Lived

In some ways, this chapter is something of an anti-climax for us readers. Eight hundred plus pages of story to tell us that… *dramatic fanfare* Harry is going to have to end up facing Voldemort in the end! Never would have guessed, right? But this is one moment where I think it’s critical to put ourselves in Harry’s shoes and realize what it all means from his perspective. After all, Harry is fifteen years old, and he doesn’t know he’s in a series of books with his name on the cover. He’s just living his life, trying as hard as he can to be a normal kid, with no idea why Voldemort tried to kill him or why he survived when it happened. Even if he’d sort of guessed that he might have to be the one to finish Voldemort off (and he says later that he did), hearing it factually from a source like Dumbledore is HUGE. Especially when you consider the fact that this could easily take the rest of his life – or just as easily end his life prematurely. It’s easy for us to forget what he’s going through when we know it will all be wrapped up neatly, one way or another, in two more years. But for Harry right now, the battle must simply seem insurmountable.

Something to Remember

As Harry expresses his anger and grief over losing Sirius, Dumbledore’s response is an interesting one:

“I know how you are feeling, Harry,” said Dumbledore very quietly.

Dumbledore isn’t the type to overstate things, or to claim he can empathize when he can’t. So what is it that’s happened to him that allows him to be so confident he knows how Harry is feeling? Or confident that “the fact that [Harry] can feel pain like this is [his] greatest strength?”

The Final Word

(When asked, “Why do you have to be so cruel to [Harry]?”)
“Because of what I’m trying to say about Harry as a hero. Because he’s a very human hero, and there’s a contrast between him, as a very human hero, and Voldemort, who has deliberately dehumanized himself. 

And Harry, therefore, did have to reach a point where he did almost break down, and say he didn’t want to play anymore, he didn’t want to be the hero anymore – and he’d lost too much. And he didn’t want to lose anything else. So Phoenix was the point at which I decided he would have his breakdown.”–J.K. Rowling, December 2005

54 Responses to “The Lost Prophecy”

  1. What I like about this chapter is how much we can relate to Harry. How many of us have had a complete breakdown and wanted nothing more than to shout and run away from everything?

    It was awesome to finally get tons of answers to questions in the series in this chapter. (Though not all of them).

    Also, does anyone else think that Dumbledore’s last line of why he didn’t make Harry a prefect seem like it was just thrown in there? It seems really random after telling Harry that either he or Voldemort must kill the other.

  2. that’s a really interesting point about Dumbledore empathizing with Harry. At the time, we have no idea what he means but in the 7th book we realize that he does know great loss and that he probably understands exactly how harry feels: guilty, wondering what he could have done to save the person, angry, sad, etc.

    by the way, i look forward to these updates and especially love the pictures and the great commentary!

  3. I actually feel a little bit sorry for Ron, because of Dumbledore’s last line. Would Harry really have made that much a better prefect, had he not had “enough responsibility to be going on with”?

  4. hmm.. I always figured the orbs glowed because that were the prophesies that were affecting Harry and the others directly. Like prophesies about the war (the last one and the one coming) and their future and their families….
    @ alex and roonil wazlib: I don’t think Harry wouldn’t have been a better prefect per se, but that Dumbledore knows that Harry has been wandering that and has been bothered by that because.. well, he DID prove himself more than Ron did.
    Besides, I like the line, because it shows exactly how small and stupid these school-drama’s are. Things that Harry is wondering about the whole year now seem very very small…

  5. I remember being so surprised that for the second (and pretty much last time) I’d actually called something. Back in PoA when Dumbledore mentioned that Trelawney had made a second prediction and she ought to get a raise, I thought to myself, “oh my goodness, there’s probably some crazy prophecy about Harry and Voldemort” and, considering everything else I believed, I was floored to realize I was right.

    The last comment Dumbledore makes to Harry always pokes my heart a little. It *is* anti-climatic considering everything we just found out, but it shows that Dumbledore really does care about Harry and realized that it probably nettled him, along with the way Dumbledore treated Harry all year long and, although Dumbledore says that it’s easy for old men to remember what it was like to be young, is a very good example of how “dialed in” he is to a fifth years’ woes.

    And, Josie, thanks for updating so much this past week! I’ve really appreciated not being left hanging during the climax. :)

  6. This chapter is great, the way that Rowling expresses Harry’s feeling and Dumbledore’s reaction, I think in some way we all can relate to them…
    I also found it strange when Dumbledore made the statement that Natalia mentioned in PoA…
    This is a chapter that I had to reread many times since the book I have is not the English version but the Spanish, and we all know how translations can be… But it’s awsome, I mean, FINALLY, ANSWERS!!!!!
    Poor Harry, by the way… Everything always happens to him :P

  7. “Of course, another idea that just occurred to me is that most of the prophecies recorded might just be boring, meaningless snippets of students in Divination class at Hogwarts….”

    hahaha! Including the one that Harry faked in his exam, which came true (a hippogriff flying away)

  8. Finally, Harry (and we) are getting some answers! I love how this has all come together. I love the way that JK Rowling has sprinkled her previous books with clues which might have struck a chord at the time, but are now being explained. This is what is so fascinating about this whole series, and makes it so readable.

  9. Natalia, I fully agree with you about the prefect comment. It’s that line that pulls at my heartstrings the most, because it shows how deeply DD must care about Harry, to even have put thought into whether or not being prefect is best for him.

    On the whole, however, I did not find this chapter as amazing as some others have said. At the end of it all, I kinda just wanted to say “Duh.” Gee, Harry would have to battle Voldemort in the end, who would’ve guessed that? Only everybody with half a brain. I dunno, I just don’t feel this is enough payoff after almost eight hundred pages of hyping up this ultra-secret ultra-powerful weapon Voldy is seeking.

  10. I agree with hpboy about the anti-climax regarding the weapon. I felt like we were constantly reminded about the weapon, and for that reason I thought it was gonna be something pretty powerful. I thought that if Voldemort was seeking this weapon so aggressively, then it must be a Dark object or just SOMETHING phenomenal. And it turned out to be a prophecy. Gee, big buildup, no payoff.

  11. hmm.. second reply in less than 24 hours… my work is really slow :P
    I kind of understand what you mean with the anti-climax Jimma and Hpboy, but when I read the book again, I kind of like it. The fact that Harry, his protection and special position, is more worth than some superpowerfull spell or actual weapon gave me some hope after OOTP was kind of leaving me desperate, because the idea of Harry fighting Voldemort is ridiculous at that moment, but him being described as the weapon gave me the idea that he could do it…JUst my opinion:)
    Natalia, you voiced exactly what I meant and felt about Dumbledore’s last line!

  12. At first I, too, felt disappointed when I found out that the weapon is nothing more than the prophecy. But really, it shows that there are more important things than physical strength and the ability to cast complicated spells. Dumbledore has always put much emphasis on knowledge and in the end that’s what helps Harry conquer Voldemort.

    About getting answers: Yeah, we did get some answers. But it still seems that this whole book was not necessary. And besides, Dumbledore says he will now tell Harry everything – which is a blatant lie.

    However, I will give Dumbledore this: Harry must feel terribly guilty and Dumbledore gives a pretty good explanation of why Harry should instead blame Dumbledore.

    So Harry is protected as long as his mother’s blood dwells in the place he calls home. Firstly it is often stated that Harry sees Hogwarts as his home. Secondly, what if Voldemort had had Dudley and Petunia killed?

  13. About Dumbledore’s whereabouts while he was “away” I have the same opinion, in fact, I tried to bring the subject into discussion during the chapter “The Centaur and the Sneak”.
    About the prophecy I always assumed that it was Dumbledore who gave that recollection to the Department of Mysteries. The idea that they, some how, can detect and store predictions as they are made is interesting. I would say that most of them never were fullfiled. By the way, what would be the requirements to classify something as a prophecy? There must be some criteria, if not, something as trivial as “I think is going to rain tomorrow” would also be recorded for posterity :)

  14. Jose Lopes, maybe that’s why the hall of prophecy is so darn big – all those wizards predicting rain! I still can’t figure out why there are so many of the darn things. We’re talking at least hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of prophecies, and there haven’t even been that many wizards in the history of Britain. Not even close.

    I do think that the sheer number would indicate that the records are generated automatically, and not because someone ‘gave’ them the prophecies. Remember that the general public doesn’t factually know the hall exists – where would the records come from?

    Regarding the anti-climax of the final chapter, I totally see where you guys are coming from, but at the same time, I think it helps (me at least) to remember that for Harry, this is a huge climax. He’s finally found out what’s been going on, and more importantly, the prophecy means he’s got to kill Voldemort. hpboy13, you’re right that readers probably could have guessed that, but Harry doesn’t know he’s in a series of books with his name on the cover. He’s just living his life, trying as hard as he can to be a normal kid, with no idea why Voldemort tried to kill him or why he survived when it happened. Even if he’d sort-of guessed that he might have to be the one (and he says later that he did), hearing it factually from a source like Dumbledore is HUGE.

  15. I should add – Harry doesn’t know he’s in a series of books named after him, and he also doesn’t know there are only going to be seven books. This is a war he could be fighting for decades, as far as he’s concerned, and it’s also a war he could very easily lose. It’s easy for us to forget what that all means for him when the possibilities don’t seem as real to us, thanks to the constraints of the literary format. :)

  16. Josie, you bring up a good point about Harry not being aware fo the fourth wall, but Dumbledore spends about half a chapter in HBP telling Harry that the prophecy doesn’t really matter! As for Dumbledore’s “tell-all,” the only useful things we glean from it is why Harry has to go to Privet Drive, why Harry wasn’t a prefect, and why we should be kind to house-elves. Did it occur to Dumbledore, at any point between this chapter and his death, to inform Harry of how to destroy a Horcrux?

    I think this is why OotP is my least favorite book, because it just never seemed to go anywhere. Upon rereads, I enjoy parts of it immensely, mostly the ones of Hogwarts rebelling against Umbridge, but I still find the ending to be anticlimactic.

  17. @hpboy: I wouldn’t say that the prophecy doesn’t matter. It is maybe the part that one has to kill the other that is not so important, as Dumbledore tells Harry in HBP, but the prophecy is of enormous importance to Harry nonetheless, as it is the reason Voldemort went after him as a baby in the first place. So the prophecy matters because Voldemort actet upon it (or at least he acted on parts of it) and so this is a huge thing for Harry to know, and not at all anti-climactic in my opinion.

  18. What I find interesting is that if Neville had been the one chosen by the Dark Lord, Voldemort would have won when he tried to kill him. Neville would never have become the boy who lived. I’m sure Alice would have died for him just as Lily did, but the key difference is that Lily was supposed to live. Snape had arranged for Lily to be spared. He didn’t care about Alice. Voldemort would have just Avada Kedavra’d Alice without a second thought, and poor little Neville wouldn’t have had any protections.

    I wonder how much of Voldemort’s choice to go after Harry instead of Neville was Voldemort’s choice, and how much was influenced by Snape. Snape had to know, after all, that Lily was in danger. And he also had to know that James Potter, who took Lily from him, was in danger. Kill the man he hates and save the woman he loves in one fell swoop? Even just a hint that Voldemort should go after the Potters might have been enough to change the fate of the world…

  19. I guess that in Voldemort’s twisted way of thinking, since he wanted a world dominated by pure-blood wizards, Neville Longbottom, being a pure-blood, would probably grow up to be a Voldemort supporter; on the other side we have Harry Potter, half-blood and a second rate wizard according to the new order, he would most likely fight back Voldemort, so that’s the reason he was chosen.

  20. i’m so excited we’re finally getting to the end of order of the phoenix it’s been a long 4 months waiting for the whole book to be posted but it was fun. now we can get onto half blood prince josie will get on it we’re almost up to book 6
    as voldemort would say “ah yes the time is close at hand”

  21. Re the “weapon”…I didn’t think of Harry *as* the weapon, I thought of it like this: at the beginning, in the kitchen of Grim. Place, Sirius (or is it Lupin? doing this from memory) says, “he’s going after something he didn’t have before” and it’s Harry who says, “like a weapon?” and the adult just agrees, “yeah…like a weapon.” He never actually says it IS a weapon, just that it’s a similar concept so Harry gets the idea about why L.V. is still in hiding. (I hope I’m being clear about what I mean.)

  22. I finished my 4th read of OotP just yesterday and something hit me – **SPOILER** perhaps the reason Snape is so terrible to Neville is because Snape knows Neville was the other choice. If Voldemort had gone after the Longbottoms, Lily would probably still be alive. That’s just the sort of grudge Snape would be all too willing to hang on to.

    I had the same “well, duh” feeling the first time I read this book (about the prophecy meaning Harry had to kill Voldemort, etc.) then I realized what Josie pointed out – Harry didn’t know this. Voldemort had killed lots of people. Lily and James were in the Order, so of course they’d be targets. But to be told that you (and only you) have the power to stop the most powerful dark wizard of the age and know that every death he causes is because you haven’t figured it out yet? That, if you fail, who knows how many more decades will live under his terror? That’s a tremendous weight to bear, no matter how old you are, let alone for an (almost) 16-year-old who already has to deal with the normal travails of being a teenager. No wonder Dumbledore wanted to put it off as long as he could.

    Speaking of Dumbledore, he breaks my heart in this scene. I love that man.

  23. Oops – misspelt Trelawney’s name again!! Y before I……

  24. Heather, I like the idea (well, I don’t LIKE it, but you know what I mean) that Snape is so mean to Neville because of the prophecy. It’s quite typical of Snape to do something like that.

    For me, I read book 5 when I was around 11. I don’t know how old most of you are, but as an 11 year old, the Idea that someone not much older than me would have to fight someone possibly to the death, is pretty terrifying. As JK did intend the books to be for kids (however many readers of other generations of readers she gained) she is still writing mainly for people of that age, which does mean some parts of the story may sound a bit obvious or anti-climactic to the older reader. Rereading the books now, I do find that the points you guys raise make sense, and that some I agree with, but Rowling is still trying to write for her original intended audience. Finally, it was never actually said to us that they would have to battle, and I guess Rowling wanted it made clear.

  25. The books never implied it, but I pictured Voldemort killing the Potters and then planning to go to the Longbottoms and kill them, too, for good measure. He just never got around to the Longbottoms because he was destroyed at Harry’s house.

  26. Is any one else bothered by the phrasing of the prophecy:
    “One must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives”?

    Dumbledore makes it clear that the only reason one of them is going to end up killing the other is that they Harry and Voldemort hate each other so much. “Neither can live while the other survives” really doesn’t make sense here, first of all because, clearly, Harry and Voldemort can coexist, and also because the fact that neither can live while the other survives does not necessarily mean that one is going to have to kill the other.

    I think this would make so much more sense if it were “Neither can *bear to* live while the other survives. And yet, Rowling says that she phrased the prophecy very carefully. So frustrating.

    Any thoughts?

  27. Roslinstars –
    I never really understood the phrasing either. But I think Rowling must be putting emphasis on the “can live” part. Perhaps she means it in an emotional sense, which using the word “bear” is synonomous with. Kind of like in romance stories or something where the characters “can’t live” without each other. In this case, it would be Harry “can’t live” (“live” in the sense of go on in life as a normal human, in addition to the literal sense of being alive) if Voldemort survives; he’ll always be hunting Voldemort because he’ll always be against him. In Voldemort’s case, he “can’t live” while Harry survives because it’s become much more than just wanting Harry dead because of a prophecy; Harry has escaped him so many times, he’s a nuisance and true rival now. So that gives the phrase “neither can live while the other survives” a little more significance now, which goes back to Dumbledore saying all that stuff about how Harry and Voldemort have put a lot of store in the words of the prophecy.

    That’s just my guess. :)

  28. I must say I disagree with the dissapointment that the Harry was the weapon. I would have been furious had the weapon been a big gun or some magic power. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the series.

    I love how it could have been either boy. It fits with the whole choices theme of the series. One theory about Deathly Hallows was that Voldermort was going to kill Harry and Nelville was going to kill Voldermort. Of course *Spoiler* this didn’t happen but I always liked that ending better. I do believe Harry should have died in the end. If you look at all of Sybill’s fake prophecies, they often come true. And since she was so set on Harry dying I would have liked to see it happen.

    Question about the prophecy: Do you think it means that the only person who CAN kill Voldermort is Harry. Or simply that one of them must die at the hand of the other? I always wondered what other people thought about this.

    About Voldermort picking the Half Blood: here is what I believe. Voldermort sees himself in Harry. And he is incredible selfish. He sees that Harry and him could be the same. Voldermort knows he is a Half Blood and he became the 2nd most powerful wizard of all time. He knows deep down that Harry is the one who could be him and I think that terrifies him.

    @BestSiriesEver: VERY interesting!! I never thought about that. If course that would have made the most sense. Wow. I wonder if that is true.

  29. I love your site, especially the collection of fan art! So many lovely atmospheric pictures to look through! And intelligent discussion! :D

    But I have to disagree about this chapter being anti-climactic. I actually find the emotional content of this chapter far more powerful than the battle that takes up the chapters before it (well, except for Sirius’s death, of course that was emotional). This book is largely “about” what it is like to be a youth, a teenager, and that theme comes to its climax here. For instance, a large part of the “mystery” of OotP rests on Dumbledore’s failing “to remember what it is to be young,” and consequently not trusting Harry as he should (something that I think is a common failing in relationships between teenagers and adults). I think it’s brilliant that the central plot-point resolving the mystery at the heart of the story (what the “weapon” was) is something so personal to Harry and that the whole mystery has bearing on a lot of the issues he struggled with during the year (his own self-worth, his relationship with authority and the adults in his life…). Also, all his CAPSLOCK emotions have been building to this point (as an aside, I thought it was neat, in the film, the way they moved this emotional climax to when Voldemort possesses him)!

    Also I think the moment where Dumbledore cries is one of, if not the, most powerful of the series for me (up there with when Harry learns he must die in DH). I always admire that Dumbledore is not afraid of emotions (either of Harry’s emotions or of showing his own); I think this makes him different from other male mentor figures in books (compare him to Gandalf, for instance) (also the main reason Michal Gambon fails in the role, imho).

  30. Uh oh.. THERE IS A D.H. SPOILER in my comment ABOVE, I REALLY hope that’s ok on this site!! :(

  31. hazelwillow, I love your take on the climax of this chapter. Almost certainly the way Rowling intended when she wrote it, and it does have that effect on me when I sit down and read the book cover-to-cover. I wonder sometimes how much we lose by knowing the books so well. It’s worth remembering how we felt the *first* time we read them, no?

    Oh, and don’t worry about the spoilers. I need to post my spoiler policy in a more obvious place, but my basic rule is that I avoid spoilers on the pages but they roam free in the essays and comments – some of the discussions that we have just can’t happen without them. So don’t worry about it. :)

  32. Phew! :) Yeah, I’ve read the books so many times now that, for some of them, I can actually predict the next few words before I turn the page… it’s sad, really!
    But I agree that the information revealed in the inevitable Harry/Dumbledore chats at the end of the books was more exciting the first time you read it, and I do remember that very clearly. I remember before OotP came out, there was a photo of the cover jacket online and the back had Dumbledor’s line, “I am going to tell you everything.” Oh boy, I was looking forward to that information the whole book.

  33. Bestseriesever, I’m not sure I agree with you about Voldemort planning to kill the Longbottoms after Harry.

    I might be wrong about the timeline I’m drawing up in my head, but the way I figure it is this: We know that Harry was one years old when Lily and James died, and we also know that Bellatrix tortured Neville’s parents into insanity..So, since Voldemort was basically reduced to nothing after trying to kill Harry, I would assume that all the Death Eaters, including Bellatrix, immediately went into hiding before they were eventually caught and sentenced to Azkaban.

    So, I’m thinking that Bellatrix probably tortured Frank and Alice sometime within Neville’s first year, and they are already in St. Mungo’s by the time Lily and James die; which means that he would already be under the care of his grandmother. Do I think she would have died to save Neville? Absolutely. Neville’s grandmother is such a badass, I can definitely see her fighting Voldemort with everything she’s got, in order to protect her grandson.

    But, if that were the case, would Neville still have had the same blood protection that Harry had? Or did the spell only work that way because Lily is Harry’s actual mother? Neville and his grandmother are still the same blood, after all..

  34. Ciara, your ideas are interesting but your timeline doesn’t fit. After Harry watches Bellatrix’s trial in GF30, we get this quote:

    “The Longbottoms were very popular,” said Dumbledore. “The attacks on them came after Voldemort’s fall from power, just when everyone thought they were safe.”

    I’m also not sure that Neville would have had the blood protection Harry had. The only reason Lily was put in a position to sacrifice herself was because Voldemort intended to let her live. If he had intended to kill Frank and Alice, then they couldn’t have sacrificed themselves to let Neville live. So the fact that Snape asked Lily to be spared was really the event that put the whole thing in motion.

  35. I love to contemplate about how Neville could so easily have been in Harry’s shoes if things had worked out differently…if Voldemort had chosen differently. However, Josie, you make a good point that we probably wouldn’t have this story if Voldemort had chosen Neville over Harry because Snape wouldn’t have been there to ask him to spare Alice’s life.

    I’m just so disappointed that they left out this kind of character development for Neville in the movies. Neville is such a great character. I know that he would’ve stepped up to the challenge, just like Harry does, if he was “The Chosen One” instead because of everything he does in DH.

    I always get choked up when I read the part where Neville tells the trio that his grandmother said he is truly his parents’ son. Awww.

  36. For me the disappointment with the prophecy wasn’t that it wasn’t interesting or not important to Harry or what not, but that a big deal was made about the danger of Voldemort getting access to it. The book was centered around this fear of him obtaining it and that he couldn’t be allowed to do so, but ultimately it was much ado about nothing since it doesn’t give Voldemort any advantage at all. It just wasn’t worth the time and effort to make sure he couldn’t get it, and certainly not worth the endangering and sacrificing of life.

  37. I think that in calling the prophecy a weapon, Rowling is making the point that sometimes the thing that gives you the most power (to be used as a weapon) is knowledge. It may be knowing the details and nuances before making a decision. Voldemort makes a rash choice in trying to kill Harry based on the little he knows of this prophecy. Had he heard the entire thing he may have ‘marked’ Neville as his equal or simply chosen never to consider someone equal thus negating the prophecy. Considering the impact this would have had on the wizarding world, it seems like the greatest weapon.

    I also seem to remember it saying somewhere that Voldemort wanted to hear the full prophecy because he only heard the part his spy overheard and he wanted to know where he went wrong. At this point he’s looking for ways to kill Harry (because he has failed quite a few times by now and can’t seem to understand why). Had the prophecy hinted at how he might do that and had Voldemort heard it, he might have gained insight on how to kill Harry. A weapon is something that helps to defeat or weaken an enemy is not? Killing Harry would defeat the ultimate enemy while seriously reducing the morale of the rest (the Order).

  38. @ThoughYouOughtToKnow

    I think you nailed it. If only the prophecy HAD included some additional information that actually would have helped Voldemort, then it’s importance in Phoenix, and the effort to protect it would make sense.

  39. I know that a lot of this has already been said, so you’ll have to forgive me on some of this, but I had this written out toward the beginning of the comments, and while I normally delete things as others say them, I felt this was so important I should provide my personal opinion anyway. So, sorry to those I’m repeating! I hope I did the ideas the same justice you did.

    I always thought that the brightness of the orbs had more to do with the age of the Prophecy. The older it is, the darker it gets. And this kind of coincides with your idea, Josie, that the darker ones just never came to fruition.

    i don’t think that the Hall of Prophecy would be filled with “student predictions”. I think they’re only true prophecies, with the deep gravelly voice and all that. It just seems highly unlikely to me that the Department of Mysteries would find it important enough to record student predictions such as that, unless they’re magically put there after a Prophecy is made. But even then, we know Trelawney makes hundred of predictions all of the time, but has only made two true Prophecies (that we know of). I believe the fact that Dumbledore differentiates between predictions and Prophecy is a clue to that. And with the general size of the place, well it would be pretty boring to say it was one small room with about a hundred Prophecies in it, wouldn’t it? I think Jo was going for the grandeur, rather than realism here. And when they’re all smashed I feel a sense of dread, because think of how many of those important Prophecies will never be heard? Surely not all of them can be traced back to the origin like it is here, with Dumbledore. From a reader’s point of view, a small room with only so many Prophecies could seem impressive, because that makes Prophecies so rare, so I think Jo was choosing between those two polar extremes when writing this, and in the end chose to go huge (which also goes with the idea that she was thinking of what would look impressive in a film while writing this book).

    I also don’t think this prophecy thing was anti-climactic at all. I mean, yes, as the readers we can guess how the books will end up, just the fact they’re books, and there’s seven of them, etc. But if you were to step into these as real life occurrences, we know that Voldemort is absolutely obsessed with staying alive and fleeing from death. If a Prophecy were to be made that says someone out there has the ability to destroy him, he would go all out against that person (and when I say “all out” I mean it’s been said that he only kills personally when he sees it as an important kill). And then he finds out he doesn’t have the true Prophecy. I can see his mania in finding it and hearing it. And they don’t specifically say it’s a weapon to Harry in the beginning of the book, they say it’s “like a weapon” (actually he says it, and the adults just go with it), which the Prophecy certainly is a weapon to Voldemort. Information is as deadly a weapon as a doomsday device, really. And of course, this is important to Harry, because it makes it all very, very real to him. He had a feeling it would have to be him, but he didn’t fully know. And now it’s set in stone and he can’t run from it. It’s huge, as Josie said. I also agree that with the age differences in readers, comes different senses from the story. The older, more experienced readers can obviously glean what this Prophecy will be about, since they’re had inklings about it, even from the first book, with the discussion Harry has with Dumbledore at the end (by the way, have you noticed that every book until HBP ends in a discussion with Dumbledore? Definite mentorship there). But the younger readers (I read the books around the same age as Harry was as they were coming out) are excited to hear the information Dumbledore has, because they want to see if they’re right about what Harry has to do in the end. Harry Potter is a bit like Santa Claus to me. If I have kids, I kind of want to keep them from Harry Potter until they’re 11, then buy them each book, maybe on their birthday, and have them read it over time the way we “the Harry Potter Generation” (as I’ve seen we’re starting to be called) read them. I feel like it would take away from the experience if you weren’t to do this for your kids.

  40. Re: kids reading Harry Potter
    Casey: I’ve had similar thoughts. Although I don’t know if I can keep something I love so much from them for 8 – 12 years. Seriously. :) I’ve decided I’ll read it to them when they’re young, let them ask me questions (but give nothing away), etc. But I’m hiding that last book until we’re done with the first six. That way, if they’re sneaky (and if they’re anything like me and my husband, a few are bound to be) and read ahead, they still can’t ruin the ending for themselves. I also consciously bought the mugglenet book, “What Will Happen In Harry Potter 7” because I want my kids to have a taste of all the random, different theories that were going around before the last book’s release. It’s the closest I can give them to the experience I had and I hope they have a lot of fun with it and get their own awesome book series releases while they’re young. :)

  41. Casey, that sounds like a great idea to pace out the books! I would only worry about spoilers from other people. A few of my friends have just started reading the books and they are GOBBLING them up within a couple weeks. I asked them to imagine how it was for us who had to wait months and years for the final outcome, and they just said it would be horrible!

  42. Casey, that is EXACTLY what I’ve always thought I would want to do with my kids whenever I have them!! Especially since friends I have that read the books after they were all out and read them back-to-back and saw the movies first liked the books, but they can’t understand why I’m so obsessed or how I can go on sites like this for hours. Or, how I can discuss things and dissect the series with friends for hours, too. Reading them back-to-back and having to desperately wait until you can read them makes such a difference.

    Natalia, that’s a great idea! Letting them see how much we all discussed what might happen and all our theories!

  43. arent i a kid, currently?
    anyways i read the first book and the second (not in order) same age as harry…though my sister who doesnt read the books already told me about the prophecy so i used to think that everyone knows about harry and prophecy in wizarding world. thats a spoiler.

  44. I just found this site via stumbleupon and adore it! Fantastic work, Josie. I know I’m a bit late to the discussions but wanted to add a comment here bc one of my favorite quotes from the series is in this chapter. “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.” JKR is a genius!

    Also, to add to your SOMETHING TO REMEMBER. On my first reading I noticed how Dumbledore so specifically described how Harry was feeling, “You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” And thought it had to mean something. Now when I read that my heart breaks for Dumbledore that this is a pain he has endured for so many years with no means for escaping it.

  45. Oh, and I almost forgot to add another little something to remember, and another time my heart breaks for Dumbledore.

    “You made him stay shut up in that house and he hated it, that’s why he wanted to get out last night -“…. “People don’t like being locked up!” Harry said furiously, rounding on him…. Dumbledore closed his eyes and buried his face in his long-fingered hands. Harry watched him, but this uncharacteristic sign of exhaustion, or sadness, or whatever it was from Dumbledore, did not soften him.

    **SPOILER** Dumbledore must have been completely crushed by this reminder from Harry. He was already being reminded of his grief about Ariana. And, as stated, he was already feeling responsible (at least in part) for Siruis’s death for the reason that he never warned Harry that Voldemort might try to lure him to the Ministry of Magic. This reminder from Harry both added to Dumbledore’s guilt about Sirius and painfully connected the two deaths.

  46. “I am going to tell you everything.” -Dumbledore to Harry

    Uhh… no, you’re not.
    I love Dumbledore and all, but I think he KNOWS that he’s not telling Harry everything yet. I wonder if Harry thinks of this later, when he learns of Horcruxes, and especially of the final Horcrux Voldemort made.

  47. I read this chapter this afternoon, and what struck me about the Pensieve’s use in this scene was that Dumbledore could have quoted the prophecy to Harry, but instead showed him the memory of it. This makes me think that the magic of a Pensieve is the ability to retrieve a memory perfectly as opposed to on-the-spot memory, which sometimes isn’t as accurate.

    Also, I noticed that one of the headmasters asks if Dumbledore will finally be returning, so it sounds like he wasn’t hanging out there. I do wonder where he went.

  48. I disagree about the ending being non-climatic, as so many says in the comments… just like a few of you said, I also think the climax of the fifth book is much more an emotional climax than a epic fight climax. The whole book describes Harry’s hardest year in Hogwarts – his fame is finally being too much for him, with all the bad stories circulating about him, he can’t play Quidditch, he is kept in the dark by the Order, he has his OWLs coming up and suffers detention after dentention for just telling the truth. He has a hard time through the entire book and when Sirius dies, it’s just more than he can bear. As JKR says in “The Final Word” – OotP is the breakdown book in many ways, a breakdown that has to happen in order for Harry to grow up and face what he must do. I think it’s brilliant. I like this book very much because it takes us from a light place to a much darker one.

    A silly detail I thought about this time around, though – Harry must look like a complete MESS here. I mean, just think about it – he has so much of Grawp’s blood on him that he calls the Thestrals to him (he must be drenched in it), not to mention what he must look like after another adventure in the Forest. In the Department he is also covered in dust and glass from the smashed prophecies, and to top it all off, he has the whole tank of the fluid with the brains in it toppled over him. Me must be soaked in that stuff. Oh, yeah, and he also spends a lot of time on the floor…

  49. I think that it was in this chapter that Dumbledore says that the Order has other ways of communincating with each other than the fireplace in Umbridge’s office, meaning, of course, the talking Patronus. It makes me wonder what the Order, mainly Remus and Sirius, think of Snape’s Patrounus which we get to see identified in DH Chapter 33.

  50. @purplesparklies: nice catch on “People don’t like being locked up”
    I never made that connection

  51. When I read this chapter for the first time, I kept on wondering why Dumbledore seemed much more upset than warranted in having to tell Harry about the prophecy. After all, to Harry (and to the reader) the prophecy merely confirmed that Harry was fated to do something that he had attempted three times already (i.e. fight Voldemort).

    However, in hindsight, Dumbledore’s suspicion that Harry would have to sacrifice himself for Voldemort to be killed probably made it more painful for him to tell Harry that he is destined to kill Voldemort.

    It is safe to assume that Dumbledore really did suspect Harry’s being a horcrux by this time, because we know that over the next few weeks (during the holidays), he was trying to track down horcruxes and was actually injured by Marvolo’s ring.

    Also, I think that it would be interesting if we don’t take Dumbledore’s acknowledgement that he was really to blame for Sirius’s death at face value. May be he was trying to lighten Harry’s sense of guilt by accepting responsibility (for, after all, Harry did act rashly and against the advice of all the people he should have trusted) because Dumbledore knew how painful it is to have to live with guilt over a loved one’s death all your life? The fact that Dumbledore takes some time “watching Harry” when Harry is yelling at him suggested to me that he was thinking about how best to help Harry cope with his grief, and then decided that taking the blame himself would be the best way.

    Purplesparklies, I, too, think that this conversation with Harry brought back Dumbledore’s painful guilt over his sister’s death. We see him act uncharacteristically (heart before head) more than once soon after this conversation – for instance, by attempting to wear the cursed ring. May be, without the events at the end of OOTP, he would have been in a calmer state of mind and not acted so impulsively with respect to the ring?

  52. This is my favorite chapter of the entire book. But what I don’t understand is at the end, what did dumbledore mean when he mentioned why Harry was not prefect by saying “you had enough responsibility to be going on with”

  53. Wow! I know I’m about a million years too late on this one, but I just love the discussion above… There is not much more I can add, except that to me it was not an anti-climatic ending, because I sort of figured that Harry didn’t know all that and it was huge to him, also Dumbledore breaks my heart, but in the last book (and right until the “King’s Cross” moment) I would very much like to wring his neck.
    But anyway, what I really wanted to say is quite silly after the deep topics that were addressed here. I think the orbs that went dark are those that WERE fulfilled, and thus, the contents are simply “history” and of no prophetic value any longer. You know, if the orb hadn’t been smashed, after the last confrontation in DH it would have turned dark, because it had already happened and thus it was no longer “prophetic”.

  54. About Harry dtying. He does die. DD notes in the King’s Cross sequence (spoiler alert) thatHarry may go on…. Or he may return. Sort of the whole sacrifice of death. Or ‘perhaps one would die for a friend…’

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