felicitys_mind (felicitys_mind) wrote,

Why did Dumbledore have James’s Invisibility Cloak?

Note: First is my original theory and then after "Update" is my revised theory.

JK Rowling recently updated her website to include the following entry:


... which means, 'never asked question'.

Why did Dumbledore have James' invisibility cloak at the time of James' death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?

Prior to posting this I had a quick look on-line, and realised that some fans have been speculating about this question. However, nobody has ever asked me about it, and they really should have done. Just to allay the fears of the justifiably suspicious, this isn't what we in the know call 'a Mark Evans situation.'* There IS a significant - even crucial - answer."

So what is the crucial expanation?

When Harry received the Invisibility Cloak for Christmas in PS/SS, the attached note read:
“Your father left this in my possession before he died. It’s time it was returned to you. Use it well.”
We later found out Dumbledore had written the note, so James gave his Invisibility Cloak to Dumbledore before Voldemort attacked Godric’s Hollow. 
The Order had several Invisibility Cloaks at their disposal if they were taking turns guarding the Potter house. But since the Potters were under the Fidelius Charm, I don’t think they did have round-the-clock guards because as long as they stayed in the house, Voldemort wouldn’t be able to find them even if his nose was pressed against their window as Flitwick said in PA10.  Everyone except James, Lily, Wormtail, and Sirius believed Sirius was the Potters’ Secret Keeper, and it was widely believed that Sirius would die before divulging their location; moreover, Sirius said he was going into hiding himself, so the Potters would have been considered relatively safe from the point of view of the people who cared about them.
However, the Potters couldn’t leave the house, so they needed help as far as getting groceries and other necessities, especially with a baby. They would have wanted news given their situation but couldn't risk owls flying to their home.  I think James gave the Invisibility Cloak to Dumbledore to be used by whatever people were going to be helping the Potters while they were in hiding.  My guess is Dumbledore set up Arabella Figg in a house next to or very close to the Potter’s house in Godric’s Hollow (just as she had been stationed on Wisteria Drive) and that Dumbledore lent her the Cloak so she could run errands and check up on the Potters without attracting undue attention going back and forth to their house all the time.  So there is no difficulty understanding why Figg had been told where the Potters were staying, and Figg is the perfect person for that type of neighborhood watch duty since she was an original member of the Order and since none of the witches and wizards at Harry's trial at the beginning of OP knew who she was.
This would explain how Dumbledore knew about Voldemort’s attack on the Potters at Godric’s Hollow that night since neighbor Figg would have heard a disturbance and gone to listen, thereby learning basically what had happened when Voldemort was attacking the Potters inside the house. When things quieted down, Arabella went into the house far enough to see James’s dead body, assumed all the Potters had been killed, and ran back to her own house to send an owl to Dumbledore telling him what had happened.  This also explains why the person who knew what had happened didn’t assist James and Lily since Figg is a squib. 
I think it’s likely Wormtail was in hiding nearby, so Figg wouldn’t have seen him there. Wormtail could have run into the house when she left to send the owl, and he picked up Voldemort’s wand before taking off himself. 
It was shortly after Voldemort’s attack that both Hagrid and Sirius converged at the Potter house in Godric’s Hollow. Sirius had gone to check on Wormtail in his hiding place, but when he saw that Wormtail wasn’t there, he headed for the Potters and found the destroyed house.  Hagrid arrived at the same time, having been sent by Dumbledore, and as we know, Hagrid pulled baby Harry out of the smoking ruins. How did Dumbledore know what had happened? Arabella Figg sent him an owl, and we know owls travel fairly quickly because owls from the MoM, Arthur Weasley, and Sirius arrived very soon after Harry conjured a Patronus at the beginning of OP.
So my theory offers an explanation for Dumbledore’s possession of James’s Invisibility Cloak, and it’s “crucial” because it explains how Dumbledore knew what had happened that night and was able to send Hagrid so quickly.

Editing to add an explanation for how Figg could have known about the location:

Flitwick said the Secret Keeper must “choose to divulge” the location, but that doesn't mean the Secret Keeper must give the location in person or aloud.  Dumbledore was the Secret Keeper for the Order of the Phoenix's headquarters at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.  Harry didn't learn this directly from Dumbledore; he  learned it from a note Dumbledore had written and entrusted with Alastor Mood.  So a similar situation explains how people like Dumbledore and Hagrid knew where the Potters were staying even though they didn’t know Wormtail was the Secret Keeper.

And since Sirius had engineered the switch and wanted it to work as a bluff, Sirius was probably showing people like Dumbledore and Hagrid the note indicating the location of the Potters’ house. So long as Wormtail wanted someone to know where the Potters were staying (or gave permission to tell them), Sirius would have been able to show them the note just as Moody showed Harry the note saying the Headquarters for the OotP is 12GP.  So there is no difficultly understanding how Figg could have known where the Potters were staying.  If Dumbledore asked Sirius to let her know, Sirius would only have needed to get permission from Wormtail.  And in order to maintain the bluff, Wormtail wouldn't have refused.

Update #1:

In looking carefully at the 24 hours and passages in PA, I noticed Sirius said he had "arranged" to check on Wormtail that night at his hiding place (“I’d arranged to check on Peter, make sure he was still safe"), so  Wormtail was expecting Sirius on the night of October 31and that seems to be THE reason why the attack was planned for that night.   If Sirius was expected at  Wormtail's hiding place around 11:00 PM, then Voldemort and Wormtail planned to be at Godric's Hollow at 11:00 PM.  That way Voldemort would know Sirius wasn't with the Potters when he attacked and Sirius would be expected to Apparate to Godric's Hollow  as soon as he realized Wormtail wasn't in his hiding place, and as soon as he arrived, he would be killed by Wormtail who was waiting for him outside.  That way, the WW would wake up to find the Potters and their presumed Secret Keeper dead by Voldemort's hand, a situation that would allow Wormtail to maintain his cover as a spy in the Order.  However, the curse backfired on Voldemort and Sirius flew the motorcycle instead of Apparating, so all Wormtail could do was grab the wand and figure out a way to fake his own death and frame Sirius for it.  As a commentor noted, Wormtail could have been hiding in rat form, so he didn't need an  Invisibility Cloak.

The reason this blows my original Figg theory is that Wormtail would, of course, know that Arabella had been given the Potters' location, and he would have killed her first so she wouldn't be able to interfere once Voldemort and Wormtail arrived at the Potters' house.  I don't believe Voldemort would have wanted any additonal people to know the Potters' location, and it's for that reason I don't believe he involved Snape  in his plans that evening (the hot theory is that Snape was there under James's Invisibility Cloak).  The fewer people who knew the plan, the better, just as Voldemort hadn't enlisted the help of any DE's in PS/SS when he possessed Quirrell and just as he kept the number of DE's "in the know" in GF to the barest minimum (Wormtail and Barty Crouch, Jr.).   I can think of no good reason why Voldemort would want Snape to know about the plan to attack the Potters and be given the Potters' location via Wormtail (by a method by which Snape didn't know Wormtail was the Secret Keeper), or if he did,  how it was that Snape was at Godric's Hollow that night at the time of the attack with an Invisibility Cloak, let alone James Potter's Invisibility Cloak.   Travis has posited a theory over on Sword of Gryffindor, but while it is techically plausible, I don't find it remotely likely.  If Snape had been told the Potters' location and told of the plan to attack them that night, Snape could have sent a Patronus to Dumbledore, who could have alerted the Potters by Fawkes or his own Patronus.  There just seems no remotely likely way to explain how Snape happened to have James's Invisibility Cloak that night or why Snape would have been trying to warn James instead of letting Dumbledore do that (for one thing, Snape would have to explain to James how he knew Voldemort was about to attack, and finding out Snape was a Death Eater would hardly have given James reason to trust a man who was already his enemy).

It is still possible that Arabella was monitoring the general area, heard/saw the destruction of the house, went in far enough to see James's body, and then sent an owl to Dumbledore saying she thought the Potters were all dead.  [An alternate explanation for how Dumbledore knew is that Lily, running for Harry, sent a Patronus messenger to Dumbledore saying Voldemort had found them.]  Dumbledore didn't know the Potters' location, but he would have been able to send Fawkes to the site instantly since Hedwig was able to deliver letters to Ron, Hermione, and Sirius when they were all at 12 Grimmauld Place under the Fidelius Charm.  Fawkes is able to communicate enough for Dumbledore to have ascertained that Harry had survived.  Hagrid could have been dispatched to Godric's Hollow by portkey with a broom to fly Harry to Little Whinging and not seen Arabella since she would have returned to her house to await instructions.  So it is possible that Arabella was generally monitoring the neighborhood using James's Invisibility Cloak and had informed Dumbledore of the attack and the destruction of the house without realizing the baby had survived.

The Figg-as-neighborhood-monitor isn't a dramatic theory, but it would explain why Dumbledore had been given James's Invisibility Cloak before being killed and it's a significant--even crucial--explanation because it was the way Dumbledore found out about the attack on the Potters so quickly and was able to get Hagrid there before anyone else.  Nevertheless, it still isn't a satisfying theory because it seems to me that if Figg had been able to tell Dumbledore that the house had been destroyed, Dumbledore should have known that the Fidelius Charm was broken.  Hagrid hadn't even known that Sirius was the Potters' Secret Keeper, and Dumbledore sent him to get Harry out of the ruins, so Hagrid was able to find the house even without having been told the location before the attack on the Potters.  So why would Dumbledore have sent Fawkes instead of Apparating out of the castle with Fawkes as he had done in OP when Umbridge and Fudge were about to arrest him over Dumbledore's Army?  And although Dumbledore trusted Hagrid with his life, Hagrid couldn't Apparate legally even if he had been given private lessons (he had been expelled from school at age 13, so he wasn't supposed to do any magic), and surely saving this baby was uppermost in Dumbledore's mind.  So why didn't Dumbledore take five minutes to get Harry and return to Hogwarts so he could complete his preparations for the spell on the Dursleys and do whatever else he needed to do with the baby safe at Hogwarts?  Why not send McGonagall to Apparate to get the baby?  Dumbledore wasn't expecting Hagrid to show up at the Dursleys until nearly midnight on November 1, so he must have believed Hagrid was taking very slow transportation (like a broom) from quite a distance.  

The "24 hours" is a nightmare. There better be a good explanation coming!
Monday night, October 31, 1981
Sometime during the night of Monday, October 31, 1981, Voldemort showed up at Godric’s Hollow, killed the Potters and was destroyed by the rebounding curse, which also destroyed the house. Harry was in his crib, and James told Lily to get Harry and run while he faced Voldemort. They could have had an intruder detector like Slughorn’s that alerted them but didn’t give them enough time to get out (that would be true if Voldemort Apparated close to the house).
On the same night, Sirius said he had gone, as arranged, to check on Wormtail in his hiding place, discovered him missing, got worried, and headed straight for Godric’s Hollow on his flying motorcycle. Notably, Sirius said, “I’d arranged to check on Peter, make sure he was still safe,” so if Wormtail was expecting Sirius around a particular time, that seems to be THE reason why the attack was planned for that night—because Sirius had made the arrangements, Voldemort and Wormtail could set Sirius up without making him suspicious.
We don’t know the distance between Wormtail’s hiding place and Godric’s Hollow or how fast the motorcycle travels. I’ll guess not extraordinarily fast from the hints in PS1, so maybe it's as fast as the Ford Anglia, which was the speed of the Hogwart's Express. So either Wormtail’s hiding place was not far from the Potter house and Sirius got there fairly quickly or it took Sirius a long time to get to Godric’s Hollow and we have to wonder why he took the pokey motorcycle instead of Apparating given that he was worried. For that matter, when Sirius didn’t find Wormtail, why didn’t he send his patronus to James and Lily to ask if they were okay?
Between Monday night, October 31 and Tuesday morning, November 1
On his ride to work at 8:30-9:00 AM, Vernon noticed witches and wizards on the sidewalks in groups whispering together, so not only had McGonagall heard the rumors about Voldemort's defeat and Harry's survival, the entire WW was talking about it.  This is more confirmation that Dumbledore had heard the news between late night October 31 and early morning November 1. 
At 8:30 AM on Tuesday, November 1, McGonagall (in cat form) was on the corner of Privet Drive looking at a map when Vernon spotted her. She was there to wait for Dumbledore because Hagrid told her that’s where Dumbledore was going to be. So Hagrid told McGonagall (presumably at Hogwarts) sometime between late night October 31 and 8:30 AM November 1 that Dumbledore was going to 4 Privet Drive that day. This had to be before Hagrid left for Godric’s Hollow because he didn’t have Harry. 

We don’t know what time Hagrid spoke to McGonagall or where Dumbledore was when they spoke. Maybe Dumbledore was on his way out when he told Hagrid to go to Godric’s Hollow to get Harry or maybe he told Hagrid he didn’t want to be disturbed and would meet Hagrid and Harry later at 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging. Perhaps Dumbledore was checking information related to the blood magic he was about to invoke on the Dursleys and/or writing the letter to them about what had happened and/or notifying the Order, etc. Perhaps he went to Privet Drive to set up the charm, which could be an “immensely complex spell” just like the Fidelius Charm. As Travis noted, by the time Dumbledore did appear at the Dursleys, the charm had been set up; he only needed Petunia to take in Harry to seal it.
Between Tuesday 8:30 AM, November 1 and early Wednesday morning, November 2
McGonagall waited at 4 Privet Drive for nearly 16 hours before Dumbledore arrived around midnight. They talked for a bit, and Dumbledore confirmed the rumors she’d heard that James and Lily were dead, Harry survived, and Voldemort’s powers had been broken. She didn’t say where she heard the rumors—at school or somewhere else (I assume she heard the rumors from Hagrid, but that’s not confirmed by the text). Then Dumbledore looked at his watch and said Hagrid was late. Hagrid showed up a few minutes later with Harry, which was very early on Wednesday, November 2.
Given Hagrid’s route over Bristol on his way to Little Whinging (which is near London) and the fact that baby Harry fell asleep over Bristol, it initially seemed likeliest that Godric’s Hollow is in southern Wales. However, it could be in southern Ireland or even further out in the Altantic and still work with the pass over Bristol, especially since Hagrid thought Sirius had wanted baby Harry in order to throw him overboard "halfway out to sea," which certainly indicates part of the journey was over water.  Ireland would double the length of the trip and account for more time. But that means either Wormtail lived in southern Ireland in order for Sirius to reach Godric’s Hollow fairly quickly by flying motorcycle or else Sirius inexplicably spent hours getting to the Potter house by motorcycle even though he thought they might be in trouble (and that would also mean it was hours after the attack before Hagrid and Sirius got there).
Whatever the answer, none of the Invisibilty Cloak theories proposed so far explains to my satisfaction when and how Dumbledore found out what happened at Godric's Hollow and how he knew Harry had survived even before he sent Hagrid to get Harry.


Update #2:

Rowling updated her website today (9/29/06).
Under "Rumours"
Rumor: Snape was hiding under the Invisibility Cloak on the night the Potters died.
Answer: No, he wasn’t.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.