Chapter 18 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Dumbledore's Army
Angelina announces that the Gryffindor Quidditch team has been allowed to reform. Practice starts that evening. Hermione, meanwhile, is having second thoughts about Harry's Defense classes, mainly because Sirius supports it. She feels Sirius is somewhat immature and attempts to live through Harry. Her opinion only gets an angry rebuttal from Harry and Ron.
The weather is dreadful, and Fred and George debate skipping Quidditch practice by using a Skiving Snackbox product, but Angelina knows about them. Testing their latest item, Fever Fudge, has given them pus-filled boils in rather private places. Due to this and the bad weather, practice lasts only an hour. When Harry's scar pains him, he tells Ron that Voldemort is angry. Something he wants done is happening too slowly. This feels differently than when he was in Umbridge's office—Voldemort was happy then. And the time before that, he was furious.
Later that evening, Harry has the familiar dream about the windowless corridor. He is awakened by Dobby the House-elf returning the healed Hedwig. Dobby is wearing all of Hermione's hidden knitted elf hats and socks. He has been collecting them from Gryffindor tower because the other House-elves find the items insulting and refuse to clean in there anymore. Harry decides not to tell Hermione. When Harry mentions needing a secret meeting place, Dobby tells him about the Room of Requirement, a place he puts Winky in to dry out. Dobby offers to show Harry how to summon the room, and says it will appear fully equipped with whatever is needed.
The next day, Harry passes the word that the first meeting is that evening. Hermione is doubtful, remembering how Dobby's other schemes have failed, but Harry tells her that Dumbledore mentioned this room once. That night, Harry, Ron, and Hermione summon the room; it is perfect, with cushions to catch Stunned students, there are Dark detectors, which Harry thinks were in the false Moody's office the year before, and, most reassuring to Hermione, a full library of Dark Arts reference books. The other students file in, awed by the space's perfection, and the first session begins.
Harry is unanimously elected as the group's leader. Cho Chang suggests naming the group "Defence Association," or D.A. for short. Ginny Weasley notices the initials could also stand for "Dumbledore's Army," and the members choose that, mostly to mock paranoid Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, who fears Dumbledore is secretly organizing a wizard army against the Ministry of Magic. Hermione writes "Dumbledore's Army" at the top of the parchment with the students' names on it and attaches it to the wall. Harry begins the first lesson – the Disarming charm, though Zacharias Smith complains it is too simple. Harry says it served him well enough against Voldemort, but Zacharias is free to leave if he chooses.
Practice goes well, though Cho fumbles her charms whenever Harry is watching. Harry, evaluating the spell-casting, is glad he started with something so simple. The session ends, and the next meeting is Wednesday, a time that does not conflict with Harry's Quiddich practice.
The school Houses' separate identities have created (mostly) friendly rivalries, although Gryffindor and Slytherin have traditionally been more antagonistic. As is so common, an external threat creates an alliance among these more-or-less disparate groups. With the exception of Slytherin, the Houses become united over a common cause: opposing Umbridge and the Ministry. While Umbridge does seem to show obvious favoritism towards Slytherin House, it would seem that they were not deliberately excluded from the DA. The organizers may have simply felt students from that House would be uninterested in joining or possibly feared that some were untrustworthy. As Voldemort's power grows, this initial bonding between Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff could prove significant later on.
Also, the name, Dumbledore's Army (or D.A.), that the students have chosen for their secret group not only reflects their defiance and willingness to oppose Umbridge and mock Fudge, but it re-enforces their loyalty to Dumbledore and Hogwarts. Fudge's ongoing paranoia that Dumbledore is secretly building a wizard army to take over the Ministry is ridiculous; there is simply nothing to support this, and significant evidence against it — we were told by Hagrid in the first book that Dumbledore had been offered the post and declined it — but it shows just how warped Fudge's reasoning now is. Dumbledore's Army becomes an extreme example of Fudge "creating what he fears." Fudge suspecting that an army is being built, for which he has no proof, is in stark contrast to his unbending claims that, despite concrete evidence, Voldemort and Peter Pettigrew are still dead and Sirius Black is indeed guilty. Umbridge supports his stance, of course, though she has a different agenda.
Dumbledore's once mentioning the Room of Requirement, that Harry alludes to to calm Hermione's fears, was an extremely fleeting moment: at the Yule Ball the previous year, Dumbledore, conversing with Professor Karkaroff, mentioned discovering, and then losing, a room filled with chamber pots. That Harry, based on Dobby's description, recognized it as the Room of Requirement, is rather astute and reflects his growing intellect and logic, even though Harry may have read more into the wink that Dumbledore tipped him at the time than was meant.
Returning to Gryffindor tower, Harry only half listens to Hermione and Ron discussing the meeting; he is also thinking about Cho admitting that she is nervous whenever he is nearby. Harry sees this as the beginnings of the romance he has dreamed about the past year. However, this being tied to Cedric Diggory's death, for which he feels partially responsible, leaves Harry unsure of himself.
Dobby's comments about House-elves' opinions regarding the scattered clothing is quite telling. We understand how House-elves feel about their work and their masters; Dobby's re-iteration strongly reinforces that House-elves are deeply devoted to providing for their masters' comfort, in this case the school. Hermione is likely powerless to free them, as she is not their master, they would refuse if offered, and would be offended if trickery was involved.
- Why does Hermione suspect it was Umbridge who attempted to capture Hedwig? What does she think about Filch?
- Why does Hermione express second thoughts about starting the defensive group? Is she justified?
- What does Harry think is the reason his scar hurts during Quidditch practice?
- Why do the House-elves avoid Hermione's gifts of clothing? Why would they find them insulting?
- How does Harry learn about the Room of Requirement? What's Hermione's thoughts about it?
- What do the defensive magic group call themselves? Why is that name agreed on?
- Why does Cho fumble her charm whenever Harry is watching?
- Why is Harry glad he started the students off with such a simple spell?
- Could repercussions result from the name the group chooses for themselves? If so, what might they be?
- Is Sirius, as Hermione believes, trying to "live through" Harry? If so, how and why?
- What is behind Zacharius Smith's current attitude towards Harry and the D.A.? What might cause it to change?
What Voldemort wants done that is not happening quickly enough could be extracting the Prophecy from the Ministry, although, equally, it could be recruiting the Dementors to his side, and the associated jail break. Whatever it is, is never clear, though most likely it is retrieving the Prophecy. Evidence for this is Harry's recurring dream: the passageway he sees will be revealed shortly after Christmas to be the hallway that leads to the Department of Mysteries, where the Prophecy is stored, and the dream represents Voldemort's desires. As Malfoy was tasked with putting Bode under the Imperius Curse, that may be taking too long to suit Voldemort and it may signal the Malfoy family's downfall within the Death Eaters. Alternately, as it was a little over a week earlier that Harry's scar had seemingly reacted to Umbridge, and as we now discover Voldemort was then happy about something, it is quite possible that the earlier event was Voldemort learning that Bode had been put under the Imperius curse, and this could be the occasion of his receiving a report of Bode's continuing resistance.
It is Fudge's paranoid belief that Dumbledore is creating a secret wizard army that leads to the D.A. being formed. It, ironically, becomes the core of the army that helps to battle Voldemort and his Death Eaters, after they have taken control over the Ministry of Magic, as well as Hogwarts, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In the meanwhile, when the group is exposed, Fudge will use the group's name as "proof" that Dumbledore was organizing his own private army; this will result in Dumbledore's attempted arrest and dramatic escape.
The Room of Requirement will play a significant role in the next two books. Throughout this book, it becomes the secret meeting place for Dumbledore's Army; in the next book, Malfoy will secretly work on Voldemort's dark task inside it, and in the final book, it will once again be used by Dumbledore's Army. It will also be where Lord Voldemort once hid something quite valuable to him.