Rowling: “In Book Seven You’ll See Just How Close You Can Get” to a Death Reversal

Anne Johnstone of Glasgow’s The Herald wrote an article that appeared in today’s paper called “Happy birthday Harry: 10 years of magic from the Potter generation.” It is a delightful read by a reporter who has known and interviewed Ms. Rowling for more than ten years, well before all the hype and madness of Potter mania. The article ends with delightful reflections of children (now in their twenties) from Glasgow and their first memories of Harry, to include the times Ms. Rowling came to their school classrooms to talk.

Those reflections aren’t why Hans Andrea at Harry wrote me this morning to let me know about the article. There was a bombshell near the end of this sentimental set-piece.

After explaining why she thinks Harry will still be on children’s reading lists a century from today, Ms. Johnstone offers this memory from her 2000 interview with Ms. Rowling:

Will Harry survive in the final book, due out on July 21? Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s worth remembering something Joanne said in 2000 when we were discussing the importance for the dramatic tension in her books of there being limits to what is susceptible to magic. One fundamental is that you can’t reverse death. “That’s a given,” she said, “though in book seven you’ll see just how close you can get.”


What could that mean?

Hans has posted on this subject at HPfS (post 2890) and wrote to me:

Wow, John, I wonder whether this means I’m right about Harry going through the arch with the veil, which I call the Gate of Saturn.

This is probably the most explosive quote I’ve ever seen! Why? Because people have constantly told me my theory is impossible, as Jo has said death is irreversible. But here Jo is clearly indicating she’s doing something very “funny” with the concept of death. For example, if Harry goes through the veil voluntarily, is he really dead?

I’m so grateful that it was Hans who wrote me about this quotation because his interpretation is so different than what I thought immediately and yet exactly what I thought, namely, “She will write what I have said she will write!” As Hans’ theory about Ms. Rowling’s saying we will see in Deathly Hallows “how close we can get” to reversing death is a credible one, both it and my first thoughts are about confirmed predictions. Caveat Lector! What follows is necessarily proof that we’ll see what we want to see….

When Ms. Rowling said, way back at the release of Goblet of Fire, that we would be seeing “how close we could come” to reversing death in the last installment, she could be pointing to three possibilities much discussed in Fandom. Let’s stroll through these ideas.

First, of course, is Cathy Leisner’s idea of “Stoppered Death.” Ms. Leisner suggested in the BNU classroom we lead in 2005 that Dumbledore’s shriveled arm, a token of the trouble involved with destroying a Horcrux, was a pointer to why the Headmaster trusted Snape without reservation. Severus had “stoppered” his death with a potion when the Ring Horcrux went awry, as the Potions Master said he could in Harry’s first class with his teaching nemesis.

“Stoppered Death” does not require that Dumbledore have first taken the potion when disarming (ouch) the ring Horcrux. He may have been stoppered soon after the Philosopher’s Stone was destroyed; the man is 150 years old, after all, and we only know of one witch who is longer in the tooth than Albus is (if we should assume that Aberforth is of a comparable age). What this theory does require, though, is that Dumbledore is dead through at least all of the action in Half-Blood Prince. His “death” on the Astronomy Tower, consequently, wasn’t a murder — they cannot kill you when you are already dead — and may not have been anymore “final” in the sense of being “dead and gone” than his previous death.

“Stoppered Death” explains (1) Ms. Rowling’s comments to Daniel Radcliffe that she was “having trouble” with Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows because, yes, he is dead but “it is more complicated than that” and (2) what she said in 2000 to Ms. Johnstone about “how close we can get” to a death reversal in the last book. Dumbledore in a state of “suspended de-animation” does just this trick.

Another idea that is currently batted about in Fandom is that Harry will seem to die at the end of Deathly Hallows, that we will be convinced of it, but that he will not really be dead. This would only be adherence to formula; as I’ve written elsewhere, Harry dies a figurative death at the end of every adventure and “rises from the dead” in the presence of a symbol of Christ. It’s part of Rowling’s signature ‘Hero’s Journey.’

At the end of Philosopher’s Stone it takes Harry three days to recover from his dance with Quirreldemort in front of the Mirror of Erised. What could delay Harry’s resurrection in Deathly Hallows?

The favorite candidate I have heard is a potion, Draught of Living Death. Janet Batchler devotes an entire chapter to this possibility in her What will Harry Do?, in which she writes:

The fact that the draught is the only thing we saw in that first Potions class that we haven’t seen used, combined with the fact that we were so pointedly reminded about it (when, face it, Slughorn could have chosen any potion to set as an exercise) makes me feel positive that we will see it in Book 7.

Some folks thought we had seen it already. Many suggested that Dumbledore, rather than being killed by Snape, was actually under the influence of the Draught of Living Death, which indeed causes the imbiber to fall into a deep sleep mimicking death.

However, J.K. Rowling’s interview (sic) of August 1, 2006 made it explicitly clear that Dumbledore is dead.

So we have not seen the Draught of Living Death in use. Which means that someone else will be the recipient of the Draught of Living Death in Book 7. (Chapter 31, pg. 186)

Ms. Batchler, who I think has misunderstood Ms. Rowling’s answer to Sir Rushdie at Radio City Music Hall, goes on to suggest Snape and Harry are likely candidates for a Draught deception at the end of Deathly Hallows. This, too, would explain the Ms. Rowling’s promise that we would get real close to a death-reversal in the last book. How much closer can you get than the Draught of Living Death?

And the third theory, which has gained some traction since the appearing of the last book cover (with something like curtains bracketing the action), is that the climax of Deathly Hallows will take place “beyond the veil” through the archway in the Department of Mysteries. For the alchemical reasons (among others) that this will happen, your best guide is Hans Andrea, of course, because he has championed this position for two years. And Hans has a good track record in this sort of thing. As he wrote to me this morning, Ms. Rowling’s 2000 comment seems to point to a close thing to a death reversal, that is, entering the realm of the dead and returning.

Personally, only my admiration for Mr. Andrea gives this last much weight. The curtains, the artist tells us, are a conscious closing of the set of books; she used curtains on the cover of the first book. And, while I have to think that Harry will have one more figurative death and resurrection with the obligatory Christ figure standing by — Draught of Living Death is as good a means to this as any, I almost hope this wasn’t what Ms. Rowling meant by saying we’d seeing something close to a death reversal in Deathly Hallows. It bears noting that “Stoppered Death” and either of the last two theories (even both) are not mutually exclusive.

I’m pulling for “Stoppered Death” and Dumbledore’s return in Deathly Hallows. For a few reasons.

Part of it, of course, is just reason chasing sentiment. The Headmaster is as much a part of these books as Hogwarts, Snape, Harry, Ron, and Hermione. A book without his active presence — please, not just Pensieve trips or consultations with his portrait — will be a disappointment almost by definition.

There is also the neatness with which “Stoppered Death” fits the facts and allusions in Half-Blood Prince to Snape’s first class, not to mention how it explains Ms. Rowling’s comments this year to Mr. Radcliffe and in 2000 to Ms. Johnstone.

I also think Joyce Odell is right in her understanding of the back story to the books pointing to Snape’s being Dumbledore’s right hand man for a very long time in the battle to defeat Voldemort. “Stoppered Death” explains why Dumbledore trusts Snape as he does; he wouldn’t be among the living (though not alive) except through Severus’ ministrations. Snape may be out for himself a la M!Snape — but “Stoppered Death” makes the likelihood that he winds up on the side of the angels (the good ones) in the end that much greater.

And a Dumbledore straddling life and death, for as long perhaps as the past five books, resolves a peculiar aberration in this character and a departure from Ms. Rowling’s formula that he represents. All the “good guys” in these books are “double-natured” or “liminal,” “limen” being the Latin word for “threshhold.”

Liminal is defined in literary circles (online!) as:

A term favoured particularly by post-colonial critics, and which refers to the thresholds, boundaries and borderlines of binary constructions (black/white, masculine/feminine, Englishness/Irishness). These oppositions are often false, producing blurring and gaps which might be exploited in order to deconstruct these oppositions.

Can you say “postmodernism”? (If you’re confused, please see the fun discussion of Ms. Rowling’s postmodern artistry in Unlocking Harry Potter.)

Dumbledore alone among the white hats has seen as monovalent as the Pure Blooded nasties would want their leader to be (and imagine Voldemort is).

Dumbledore as the man who is both not-alive and not-dead becomes the great resolution of contraries — and quite the pointer, again, to the God-Man (another contranatural joining of opposites). Ms. Rowling understands and presents in her stories that the inability to transcend polarity and partisan views is the great divider of people and the foundation of every excluding metanarrative.

The return of Dumbledore, the man who has in some sense defeated death by embracing it (as a lifestyle!), will be the greatest representation of polarity transcendence since that subject-object, inside-outside obliviator known as the Mirror of Erised. Remember his comments to Voldemort about the Dark Lord’s error in thinking there is nothing worse than death (Phoenix, Chapter 36, page 814)? His victory over death, too, will be in keeping with Dumbledore’s unique quality to see the heart or interior of every person. It will be love — what Dumbledore does or is in seeing sans prejudice — defeating death.

Which I think is an important theme in the novels.

I look forward to reading what you think Ms. Rowling’s comment about a near death reversal in Deathly Hallows means (if anything) and your thoughts about my hopes for Dumbledore’s return.


  1. Great post, John. I too have wondered about that shriveled arm of Dumbledore’s through out the sixth book, Half Blood Prince. What sort of blows my mind here is to rethink the possibility that he’s been “dead man walking” since the end of Sorcerer’s Stone – we do keep being told how old and frail Dumbedore is looking, especially as each book progresses. I maintain that Dumbledore had impeccable reasons to trust Snape or else his own character is severely compromised – Harry will come across as being incredibly foolish to have placed such trust in a dotty old man. No, Dumbledore has to be right to have trusted Snape, even to the “end” – and it is clear that Snape is in tremendous emotional pain as he flees from Hogwarts, protecting Harry even then.

    It does seem so likely that we have had some serious character misdirection that may have lasted for the majority of the books, that it’s been right under our noses all the time and we couldn’t see. Jo Rowling has been able to ride this journey with us, knowing when we get close to some thing and still writing her prose to march us away from discovering the secret too soon. Something like this, if not this itself, would indeed be the type of thing that would send us flying.

    For Dumbledore to be dead, but has been “dead” for years only to succumb finally in Half Blood Prince (or did he – that Phoenix Rising exhibition at his funeral was puzzling) would certainly be one of those twists that no one could see coming.

    The fact remains that Dumbledore was very ill and was commanding Harry to take him to see Snape after their journey into Voldemort’s cave. That’s a fact. What could Snape do for him? Has he kept him alive all this time? Did Dumbledore know his days were numbered and so consented to make Snape the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, knowing that Snape would only last a year at Hogwarts if he did that?

    As Christians we believe that you can be physically alive yet spiritually dead, the scriptures call this being “dead in our sins.” What is death, J.K. Rowling seems to be asking. Could Dumbledore be physically dead but spiritually alive? In Gnostic heresy that is a division between the physical and the spiritual (and that translates into the Gnostic understanding of Christ) – which is that dualism that is often so contrary. But could we have something different here? What does it mean to be “dead to our sins” but “alive in Christ?” How do we describe that? We understand – or try to understand – what that means from a spiritual point of view, but what if Dumbledore is actually living that out?

    When Jesus was raised from the dead, He did not come back as some floating “spirit” hovering around the earth or even like Obi Wan Kenobi, sort of a holographic image that peeters in and peeters out. No, Jesus was eating and was recognizable and you could put your finger in his wounds. He could walk through walls, so the physical did not limit him, but he was recgonizable in his resurrected body. That is such a stumbling block to modern “christian” humanists who can’t believe he “literally” rose from the dead – that it was a symbolic myth to reveal a spiritual truth about the light of Christ.

    But one doesn’t get themselves martyred over spiritual enlightenment and using metaphoric imagery to ascertain hidden truth, so some such stuff. The disciples say they saw Him, the ate with Him, they recognized Him – He was risen.

    So in biblical Christianity, what we look forward to in death is that not only eternal life spiritually but also some sort resemblance to our human life, that we will be recognizable. That is an amazing claim and it’s no wonder modern humanists scoff.

    The idea that we’ve been seeing Dumbledore physically dead or dying but spiritually alive (and kept recognizable by magic, i.e. Snape’s potions of putting a stopper into death) is so intriguing – even if we can’t quite work out how it’s happening. The idea is fascinating. It’s in contrast to Voldemort’s splitting his soul – which is what idoltry does. When we worship “idols” – not just graven image-type of idols, but the “idols” of success, fame, materialism, wealth, or in other people – it is as though we split our soul and put it into those idols (deathly hallows?) which breaks the first commandment. We worship those “gods” where we’ve placed our souls, rather than “hiding ourselves in Christ” and are redeemed.

    Where has Dumbledore’s soul gone to? Is he now dead to sin but alive in Christ? By Jesus’ redemptive act on the cross, we all may share in His resurrection, for once we were dead but now we live.

    A few weeks ago the Episcopal/Anglican lectionary covered the story of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17):

    1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

    4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

    5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

    6When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

    9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

    If Moses and Elijah were “dead” how did they show up to speak to Jesus? The disciples saw an amazing preview of what is to come, if the scriptures are true. Will we have a “transfiguration” moment as well in Darkly Hallows? When we talk about the “communion of saints” – we don’t speak about them as though they are annihilated at death – they are alive, the great cloud of witnesses redeemed through the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (figure that one out!!). These are deep theological points of the Good News that to modern ears are so hard to grasp, which our fascination of the “real” world that makes us blind to see the truly real world, which is mirrored by the Muggles not knowing or not seeing the magical world right there with them. This is what C.S. Lewis went after through his stories as well.

    Jo Rowling’s remark to the actor, Daniel Radcliff, that Dumbledore was giving her quite a lot of trouble is quite remarkable. That Dumbledore may have been giving her quite a lot of trouble for a very long time might be, indeed, closer to the fact than we may have ever guessed.


  2. It could be staged, that is true – though I guess I’m troubled by staging an event where the target is Voldemort, but Harry is fooled as well. That would denote that all that Harry has gone through and proved himself to be “Dumbledore’s man” that Dumbledore still had to play-act in front of Harry. Now I could make a case that this was necessary on Dumbledore’s part because Harry was such a terrible occlumens (which is frankly to his credit, since it appears you do have to harden your heart as well as your mind to be a good occlumens). Dumbledore is play-acting in front of Harry because Voldemort is the intended audience and Harry is the camera, I can see that point. But again, I question Dumbledore’s character to use Harry in such a way. For me, that seems to reduce Dumbledore to a user-of-men (and where I work here in DC, we see a lot of that type of strategy at play, enough to where one does find occlumency would be helpful) – but at the heart of such strategy is a type of cynicism that I just don’t see in Dumbledore’s character. We could make the argument that Dumbledore wishes to protect Harry (as he’s done in the past), but if Dumbledore has not truly repented of the mistakes he made earlier of not leveling with Harry – then this would be the final straw. I don’t know how Harry could recover from some lack of trust and respect, but if Dumbledore would do such a thing it could cause Harry to become evil to spite Dumbledore (which is often how evil begins, isn’t it?).

    That would be a tragedy.

    Now it’s said that Hamlet is play-acting being crazy to catch his uncle for his father’s murder. But at some point it seems – or could seem – that Hamlet does indeed go into the deep end (leading the tragedy) because the play-acting becomes real. And that again is my concern about Dumbledore play-acting in front of Harry and using Harry as a vehicle to Voldemort. It’s certainly in his arsenal to do such a thing, but I frankly think is what the Dark Arts are all about. To engage in acts of deception and the betrayal of trust – as I think such a thing would be from Harry’s point of view if/when he found out that was going on – is the Dark Arts. It’s not teaching Harry how to grow up – but using him in his ignorance based on Harry’s trust of Dumbledore. From all that I’ve seen of Dumbledore, I can’t imagine him doing such a thing to Harry if he truly loves him, which I think he does. Snape, perhaps – but not Dumbledore.

    I do believe something is going – the evidence being Dumbledore’s withered arm that he never explains – but that it is part of the staged play-act for Voldemort’s benefit for Harry!Camera, no – I’m inclined to disagree. At the same time, I can also imagine that we’ve had some “swtiching spells” going on throughout the series (we learned about switching spells in the beginning, but we’ve never seen them at work, at least with us knowing it). So it is possible that we have some switched identities around Harry – and even that could be the cause of Harry having a crisis that might lure him into the dark arts.

    But I am also inclined to stand by Dumbledore being true to himself, even in weakness. For it is when we are weak that we are strong, right? To see true weakness as strength – and not as a ruse, is again at the heart of the Gospel. Isn’t that was God did in the incarnation?

    So glad you are blogging, John –


    ZoeRose (Mary)

  3. Wonderful thoughts, ZoeRose, as always. I’d take exception to one thing, which I mention here just to show I read your post carefully:

    The fact remains that Dumbledore was very ill and was commanding Harry to take him to see Snape after their journey into Voldemort’s cave. That’s a fact.

    Actually, if the scene on the Tower is staged, which remains a strong possibility whether one accepts “Stoppered Death” and “Scar-O-Scope” or not (either of which theory points strongly to a staged event), the staging means that Dumbledore could very well be playing the part of the feeble old man, from the end of Phoenix to the Astronomy Tower melodramatic Calvary.

    So it’s a fact only that the Headmaster (if it is the Headmaster) seemed very ill and that he demanded Harry take him to Severus. A staged event, though, would mean he was dead, not fearing death or murder, and feigning this weakness, either for Harry’s link to the Dark Lord, for the other witnesses, or for everyone there.

    I’ll leave your more theological points for Travis and Merlin to answer, but I would note that, if Dumbledore is the life-death nexus, then we have to revisit her comment that “obviously Dumbledore is not Jesus.” It may not be obvious a la Aslan, but a character who is alive in death, despite death, and “love on legs” is going to be hard not to see as the novel’s Christ figure.

  4. A conversation with two of my favorite Harry Potter friends!

    Pat, I’m not saying Albus has to have died at the end of *Philosopher’s Stone,* only some time since the destruction of the Stone in that book. Dumbledore’s comments about death and about choice become this much more important if he chosen to die and to live on until Voldemort has been vanquished.

    ZoeRose, I’m sorry that we disagree about Dumbledore’s character so much! I think that his “using” Harry as a Scar-o-Scope to deceive Voldemort and ultimately destroy him while loving him as a person and admiring his heroism points to the Headmaster’s greatness of soul. He cannot tell Harry the plan because, of course, that would mean telling Voldemort and giving up the plan (Sirius flirts with this in the beginning of *Phoenix* which drives Molly Wobbles close to the edge).

    But do we have any doubt that Harry could object to being used this way? His Horcrux-under-the-scar is the only means of catching the Dark Lord in a masterful snare of narrative misdirection (not unlike Dumbledore’s first use of the Prophecy in VoldeWar I). If the Headmaster succeeds in defeating and destroying Voldemort this way, Harry’s primary objective and prophesied destiny, how is this a lack of trust and respect for Harry?

    The curious piece is that Severus treats Harry – and has always treated Harry – in a way that points to either an outrageous and inexplicable envy or to disdain, i.e., how we’d treat something we want no relationship with. The envy and resentment angle has been well explored (I wrote about it in *Hidden Key* back in 2002) and we’ve read here thoughtful notes about Severus loving Lily and seeing her eyes in his rival’s face.

    Is it possible that Snape treats Harry as he does, beyond protecting his role as double-agent, because he has to work at not caring for the boy that the plan Dumbledore and he have decided to use places in such remarkable danger? Remember, if Scar-O-Scope is true, the Headmaster has to have known and even desired that Harry’s blood be part of the Dark Lord’s reincarnation at the end of *Goblet.* How much confidence could he have had in the power of the Prophecy (he denies having any) or the effect of *Priori Incantatem* to allow Harry to go toe-to-toe with the risen Voldemort? No wonder he was so relieved at the end of *Goblet* and the “gleam of triumph” was so measured.

    Dumbledore loves Harry openly and uses him as he must. Snape despises Harry in part, at least, because he does not want to suffer more than is necessary if the boy dies in this very dangerous game.

    This back-story and speculation, as well as the Five Keys that the plot point guesses illustrate, are all discussed at greater length in Unlocking Harry Potter, which, I hope, you all will read if you haven’t already (I know ZoeRose and Pat have). Write and tell us what you think! Three weeks to DH-Day!

  5. Excellent thoughts and a fascinating quote. I still don’t understand, however, why it has to mean that Dumbledore has been living on Stoppered Death since the end of Philosopher’s Stone. There are other wizards–not a lot, but some, who are in his age group, give or take a few decades, and I think Rowling said at one time that wizards live longer than Muggles. Of course, she could have been referring to the Philospher’s Stone, but that doesn’t seem wide-spread, or Voldemort wouldn’t have had so much trouble getting his hands on some of it. Nor does it seem likely that very many would be wandering around thanks to Stoppered Death. I think this idea still works if it’s only since Snape saved Dumbledore after the Ring Horcrux destruction by the use of the Draught of Living Death, or whatever the potion is for Stoppered Death.

    And I agree, John, I think that it’s increasingly hard to not see Dumbledore as the Christ figure in the books–especially after the scene on the Tower when he was trying to save Draco’s soul, and had already protected Harry from being discovered.

    But I have to think back to other interviews that she did after HBP, and it seems to me there were so many inconsistencies with her answers to things–things that she had previously said in more than one interview, she seemed intent on dispelling. I just think it was too close to the end of the story and she was trying very hard to not give anything away–and likely felt that we now know a lot more than we realize, so any answer she gave had the potential for tipping someone off to come up with the ending. And in her view, that would ruin all.

    I can hardly stand to wait the 20 days that are left until Deathly Hallows comes out, but I must say, Rowling’s silence right now is screaming out for us all to go back over every little detail she has ever given us. And the most intriguing ones seem to be in the oldest interviews, when she was less guarded in her answers.


  6. John–I really like that take on Snape’s relationship with Harry. It seems very much in keeping with Snape’s character. I definitely get the impression that Snape is afraid to love, or at least afraid to admit it to himself. If he felt drawn to Lily’s son, he could easily turn those feelings into expressions of hostility as a means of self-defense, which also serves to protect his cover in this, as you say, very dangerous game.

  7. John, thanks for clarifying about the timing of Dumbledore’s possible death. I have to tell you that you have now landed exactly in the same spot as a friend of mine who is at this moment finishing the last chapter of her second book-length fan fiction. I’m not into fan fic, except for the ones that Theowyn (she’s at TLC) has written.

    Her view of the scar is where I’ve ended up–not that it’s a Horcrux, but that it is like a window to Voldemort’s mind, emotions, and actions, but that it’s a two way street. Just as LV can peer into Harry’s mind using Legilimency, Harry has been doing that since he first started having those twinges and pains in his scar and ultimately all those visions.

    Dumbledore, in Theo’s stories, isn’t the one who uses Harry, but it’s Harry himself who decides, with Dumbledore’s assistance, to intentionally go into Voldemort’s mind in order to rescue someone.

    But the other part where you fall into her line of thinking–or she into yours–is that Snape increasingly realizes that Harry isn’t like James (well, that one takes a long time), and that he (Snape) care for Harry much more than he would ever like to admit. Where she departs from canon, is that some of the story is told from Snape’s point of view as well, which allows for a much fuller view of what is going on. And her take on Lily is that they were very good friends, but nothing romantic.

    So, I guess I do see your point that Dumbledore might be doing this, even though I definitely see ZoeRose’s point that it’s very manipulative of him to do so. If Dumbledore is using Harry’s ability to access Voldemort’s mind, there really is no way that Harry can know what is going on. It might have been the plan that Harry would learn Occlumency and he could then be told about it, but as he never managed and never really tried, they would have to continue Dumbledore’s grand plan, without Harry being in on it. (Theowyn also has Harry become very adept at using Occlumency, which is another large canon departure. However, she has managed, with all the psychological aspects, to keep very close to the canon characters–Snape and Harry are still snarling at one another, and Snape is still a git to everyone. I wouldn’t still be reading if the two had become best friends and Snape was chummy with everyone else.)

    I sometimes feel that whenever we start speculating on just what is going on, that we are all on the verge of writing fan fiction–some of our theories would make great side stories. I just really hope that Stoppered Death isn’t one that was way off the mark, as it is the one that makes the most sense to me.

    One more thing, John, and then I’m off to buy my advance tickets for Order of the Phoenix–do you think that Dumbledore had any idea of what was waiting for Harry in the center of the Maze? It kind of sounds that way, but I wouldn’t think that he did. I do agree though, that he didn’t seem that surprised by what happened when Harry and Voldemort dueled, and that it was likely a relief that Voldemort now has some of Harry’s blood–but definitely a surprise that it happened at that moment and in that way.


    Just read the rest of the quote. It does seem to get better and better, doesn’t it?

  8. You have to hope Albus didn’t know about the Portkey in the center of the maze. I think, though, it is plausible that Severus and his mentor knew Moody wasn’t who he said he was and that the imposter’s job was to get Harry’s blood or Harry to Voldemort for the Dark Lord’s Re-birthing Potion.

    That the original quote or at least the original printed version of the quotation is “close to the dead” I think swings this discussion back to Hans’ theory about Harry going through the Veil, something he was drawn to even in Phoenix. It seems that much less about “Stoppered Death” and Dumbledore’s suspended de-animation, too. Oh, well.

  9. You do make a compelling case for Dumbledore, John. I guess I have assumed though that the person who was “called” to destroy the evil in Voldemort (which doesn’t necessarily meaning Voldemort’s death, perhaps) is Harry. The Dumbledore you describe also follows more closely to the Dumbledore portrayed by Michael Gambon then the one portrayed by Richard Harris. It does cause me to re-evaluate my own assumptions about Dumbedore.

    I do think you have canon evidence for your view – but I’m not so willing to allow that Dumbledore could have made so many mistakes and still be credible as the Greatest Wizard and the only Wizard Voldemort Feared. I also am inclined to think that Dumbledore’s task – as is the task of any mentor – is not to do the work himself, but to train up others, disciples, to do it. Jesus said this Himself when He sent out the disciples two by two to go and minister (and He didn’t go with them either) and told them that they would do even greater things than He did. Jesus did do “stuff” (including a really BIG THING) but it seems that He spent the greatest amount of time training up those who would come after Him. I think that’s been Dumbledore’s greatest mission and if he doesn’t train up Harry to do it, then perhaps he really has failed his mission.

    To protect Harry instead of train him puts him more in the “Umbridge” category, wouldn’t you say. And to use Harry as a camera without Harry knowing I think is still a betrayal. Now, again, I could see how Jo Rowling could set that up and it would set up Harry to be faced with a momentous choice either to remain true to his heart or rebel as a Dark Wizard. He would have been “used” by Dumbledore and the Order and that would not be such a happy place to be – do you see what I mean? I don’t think Harry would understand that – his weakness has been over and over that he is meant to save people and to be kept in the dark like that would be a way of saying to him that Dumbledore did not trust him.

    Is it possible that Snape treats Harry as he does, beyond protecting his role as double-agent, because he has to work at not caring for the boy that the plan Dumbledore and he have decided to use places in such remarkable danger?

    Now this I really think could be true. It hasn’t made sense that Snape is so horrible to Harry and yet saving him and training him all the time. But he’s been horrible to him long before Voldemort returned (and there was some discussion whether Snape wasn’t sure if Harry was the new Dark Wizard – I think that’s still Snape Double Agent talking in the conversation with Bellatrix and Narcissa). In fact, I think that entire meeting at Spinner’s End (in the press, when politicians want a story to be presented their way it’s called “spinning” or “the spin”) was for Bellatrix (and Voldemort’s) benefit. But to add to that that Snape is horrible to Harry becausee he’s protecting his own heart. Remember, those are Lily’s eyes that stare at him in class and if there was some sort of tie between Lily and Snape (was he “that awful boy” that Petunia mentions in Order of the Phoenix?) then it would make sense that the depth of Snape’s disdain matches the depth of his true feelings in his heart. That character reminds me so much of Heathcliff and his love for Cathy. And isn’t Snape so much like Heathcliff?

    20 Days to Go!


    PS Thank you for the kind words!! 😉 I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to read Hidden Keys. It was such a watershed moment. I have been looking into the symbolism of the symbol on the spine of Book VI and while I think it’s possible it’s all alchemy, the symbols are looking to me very much like a Royal Scepter and a Royal Orb inside the symbol of the Trinity. Both are like what Queen Elizabeth II held when she was crowned. They are signs or symbols of authority. But that’s another story!

  10. I may be changing my mind on the Harry is camera theory – I post about it here ( calling it the “Scar-Cam” theory. You may have sold me! 😉


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