Harry, Ron, and Hermione grab Harry’s Invisibility Cloak
and scurry off to Hagrid’s cabin. Hagrid’s face is badly bruised
and bleeding. Hagrid explains that he had gone into the mountains
to talk to Giants and rally support for Dumbledore but ultimately failed
to enlist their help. Umbridge knocks at the door, and Harry, Ron,
and Hermione duck under the Invisibility Cloak and hide in the corner.
Umbridge forces her way into Hagrid’s cabin, but Hagrid refuses
to tell her about the Giants. After she leaves, Hermione warns Hagrid
about Umbridge and her class inspections, cautioning him against
teaching anything too dangerous or unconventional. Hagrid appears
The next day, Hagrid leads his class into the forest.
The horrible horse-like creatures Harry saw pulling carriages
appear again, and Hagrid asks who can see the creatures. Harry,
Neville, and a Slytherin boy raise their hands. Hagrid explains
that the creatures are called thestrals and are visible only by
those who have witnessed death.
Angelina, the Gryffindor Quidditch captain, chooses Ginny Weasley
to replace Harry as Gryffindor Seeker. At the last D.A. meeting
before Christmas break, Harry is left alone with Cho Chang. Cho
starts to cry and admits that she is thinking about Cedric, her
boyfriend. Cedric was killed by Voldemort at the close of Book IV.
Standing under the mistletoe, Harry and Cho kiss.
Harry returns to the Common Room and tells Ron and Hermione
what happened. Harry falls asleep with his head full of thoughts.
He dreams that his body feels smooth and powerful. He is a snake,
slithering toward a man sitting on the floor, guarding a door. Harry
rears from the floor and strikes the man, plunging his fangs into
the man’s flesh. Harry wakes up with Ron standing over him. Harry
is sweating and in extreme pain. His scar is burning hotter than
ever. Neville arrives with McGonagall. Harry tells her that Ron’s
dad has been attacked by a snake. McGonagall nods and takes Harry
to Dumbledore’s office.
Harry tells Dumbledore about his vision, and how he inhabited
the snake’s body during the attack. Dumbledore calls to the portraits
of former headmasters and headmistresses hanging on the walls of
his office and asks them to raise the alarm. When the portraits
return, they explain that members of the Order have found Mr. Weasley
at the Ministry and taken him to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies
and Injuries. McGonagall wakes the other Weasley children, and they
prepare to travel to Twelve Grimmauld Place by Portkey. As they
are leaving, Harry’s scar starts to burn. He looks up at Dumbledore
with a powerful hatred, fighting the urge to attack him. He is thrust
back to number twelve. Harry tells Fred, Ginny, George, and Sirius
about his vision but does not mention that he actually inhabited
the snake. A letter from Mrs. Weasley arrives, announcing that Mr.
Weasley is still alive.
Mrs. Weasley returns from St. Mungo’s and thanks Harry
for his vision, which she believes saved Mr. Weasley’s
life. The Weasleys and Harry agree to stay with Sirius for the holidays.
Harry tells Sirius the whole truth about his vision, including the
rage he felt at Dumbledore right before they left Hogwarts. Sirius
tells him not to worry.
The group visits Mr. Weasley. He is heavily bandaged but
in very good spirits. After a few minutes, Harry and the
Weasley kids leave so Tonks and Mad-Eye can visit. Once outside,
Harry, Ron, and the twins decide to use the Extendable Ears to eavesdrop
on their conversation. Mad-Eye suggests to Mr. Weasley that Harry
could be possessed by Voldemort. Upon hearing this, Harry drops
his ear and looks up at the others, who are looking back at him,
their faces filled with fear.
Although Harry has dreamed about the Ministry of Magic
before, this is the first time Harry has experienced the dream from
the point of view of another entity. Harry knows Voldemort is capable
of transforming himself into a snake and wastes no time in realizing that
in this particular dream, he was Voldemort. Even
more upsetting to Harry is the pleasure he seemed to take in the
attack. Not only was Harry privy to the snake’s point of view, but
he was also able to feel the same emotions the snake experienced—in
this case, extreme pleasure. Harry reluctantly admits this to Dumbledore
but later lies about it to Sirius and the Weasley children, with
the exception of Ron, who witnessed Harry’s confession to Dumbledore. Harry
eventually tells the truth to Sirius as well. Harry feels implicated
by his perspective on the attack, as if he is somehow responsible
for what he saw and the pleasure he experienced. Harry has always
been able to tell when Voldemort was feeling an extreme emotion,
but in the past, those emotions remained separate from Harry’s own
experiences. In the dream, for the first time, Harry couldn’t determine
where he himself ended and Voldemort began.
Though the dream was shocking to Harry, Dumbledore
doesn’t seem particularly surprised that Harry actively inhabited
the body of the snake, and he seems to anticipate that this will
be a part of Harry’s story. He seems to ask Harry about it only
to confirm his suspicions. Once again, adults seem privy to all
sorts of information children are simply not allowed to know, which
in this case seems particularly unfair. Harry was the one to experience
the disturbing vision, but Dumbledore refuses to grant him access
to all the pieces of the puzzle. For Harry, this lack of knowledge
brews more confusion and unhappiness, and, later, becomes an essential
part of his troubles. In the meantime, he is forced to deal with
his confusion on his own.
When Dumbledore hears about Harry’s vision, he immediately turns
to the portraits of former Headmasters and Headmistresses hanging
on his office walls, and, in doing so, reveals a small bit of the ancient
and complex history of Hogwarts. No Headmaster or Headmistress ever
actually leaves the school, even though they may die or be replaced.
Instead, they line the walls of the current Headmaster’s office, free
to move about between their portraits and dispense advice. Although
the current Headmaster is certainly in control of Hogwarts, the
talking walls of Dumbledore’s office prove that there is also a
comforting and supportive balance of opinion in place.
Harry’s ability to see the thestrals recalls the end of
Book IV, where Harry watched helplessly as Voldemort brutally murdered Cedric
Diggory, Cho Chang’s boyfriend. Most loyal followers of the Harry
Potter books will notice that Harry seems to be a very different
young man at the start of Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix, and he has changed most likely because of
having seen death so closely. Watching Cedric’s murder was traumatic
for Harry, and he is more skeptical now, easier to anger, and less
responsive to authority figures. His new feelings range from the
expected, such as his intense dislike of Umbridge, to the surprising,
such as his newfound disappointment in Dumbledore.