|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event|
|Visit to Godric's Hollow|
|Time Period||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Christmas|
|Important Characters||Harry, Hermione, Bathilda Bagshot, others after spoiler warning|
Harry and Hermione decide to visit Godric's Hollow. While there, they visit Harry's parents' graves, and are accosted by Bathilda Bagshot, who invites them into her house. Bathilda indicates that she has something upstairs for Harry, but once he is up there, reveals herself to be simply a hiding place for Nagini, who attacks Harry under Voldemort's orders. Harry and Hermione escape, Apparating away as Voldemort arrives.
After Ron's departure, Harry is left to wonder why Dumbledore had left him so little information about where additional Horcruxes might be, or how they could be destroyed. Knowing that the Sword of Gryffindor could be used to destroy Horcruxes, Harry muses aloud about the similarity of names: Godric Gryffindor and Godric's Hollow. Hermione confirms that Godric's Hollow was named after Gryffindor.
Harry and Hermione independently determine that a visit to Godric's Hollow is necessary, Harry because he believes Dumbledore might have left some clue there, and Hermione because of the mark of Grindelwald in the book Dumbledore left her, which Hermione believes Bathilda Bagshot may be able to explain. After a great deal of preparation, the two of them, disguised by means of Polyjuice Potion, transport themselves to the outskirts of the village.
On arriving, Harry decides that they should first visit Harry's parents' graves in the churchyard. As they pass the church, they hear carols being sung, and realize that it is Christmas Eve. After some searching, Harry and Hermione find the ancient grave of one Ignotus Peverell, marked with the sign Grindelwald used, and the grave where Harry's father and mother are buried.
Leaving the graveyard, Harry and Hermione pause at the house where Harry's parents had lived. Harry is heartened by all the messages of support added to the official sign, though Hermione feels the messages are disrespectful. As they turn to leave, they see someone watching them, despite their being under the Invisibility Cloak. In answer to Harry's question, she agrees that she is Bathilda Bagshot, and beckons them into her house. As they enter, Harry notes the smell of rotting meat, and thinks that Bathilda has probably gotten forgetful and left something out, in her old age. Bathilda summons Harry upstairs, and points him towards a cluttered dressing table; as he turns, he hears, in his mind, Voldemort ordering someone to "hold him". Looking at Bathilda, Harry sees a giant snake sliding out of the ruin of Bathilda's body. Hermione, brought upstairs by the noise, and Harry fight the snake, managing to escape, jump out the window, and disapparate as Voldemort appears.
Harry now experiences Voldemort's actions at Bathilda's house, as he picks up and recognizes a picture Harry has dropped, and then experiences Voldemort's memories of the night Harry's parents had been murdered.
- Harry visits, and leaves a wreath at, his parents' grave, visits the house where they died, and then experiences, in Voldemort's memories, the events of the night when Voldemort had murdered his parents. Though Harry was aware of these events in outline, he now knows exactly what had happened on that night. This may help bring closure to Harry's feelings about his parents.
- The picture that Harry sees, and that he accidentally drops for Voldemort to pick up, is a picture of the thief who had stolen something from Gregorovitch. This serves to refresh Harry's memory of the thief. Harry fears that it may also serve to identify the thief for Voldemort.
- Hermione's attempt to defend Harry from Nagini resulted in at least one spell ricocheting wildly about the room, and eventually breaking Harry's wand. We have seen that Harry tends to identify to a certain extent with the artifacts he uses (notably his Nimbus 2000 broom), and we have seen already that Harry's wand, being a twin of Voldemort's, grants Harry some power over Voldemort, so we can expect that Harry will feel lost without his wand.
- We will shortly see that Hermione picked up Bathilda's courtesy copy of Rita Skeeter's book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. Despite it being scurrilous in the extreme, it is based on fact, and some of the facts in the book will be useful in Harry's quest. For more information on the book and its contents, please see the article concerning the book.
- Hermione's discovering Grindelwald's sign on Ignotus' ancient tombstone reinforces our understanding that the symbol was in use long before Grindelwald co-opted it for his own purposes. What that earlier meaning is, we do not yet know, but from Xeno Lovegood's use of it, we can guess that it is probably harmless.
That Harry would have to visit Godric's Hollow was something of a foregone conclusion. It was clear that he would have to go there, if for no other reason than to visit his parents' graves, and he had expressed an intention of going there in the final chapter of the previous book. We suspect that there may also have been a connection to Dumbledore, though we're not certain of this until the opening chapters of this book, when the excerpt from Skeeter's biography of Dumbledore mentions the village. However, as Harry's need to visit the village is clear to us, likewise it must be clear to Voldemort; we expect a trap, though we have no way of knowing what form it will take until it is triggered. It is obvious that Hermione also expects a trap, as she has Harry spend considerable time in preparation for the visit, and also uses some of their limited quantity of Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves while they are in the village.
Given that they are not only disguised but under the Invisibility Cloak, it is uncertain how Nagini is able to spot and entrap Harry. We have seen that Nagini was evidently able to detect Arthur Weasley under his Invisibility Cloak, as he stood guard at a door in the Ministry of Magic almost exactly two years earlier. We can surmise that Nagini may have been using infrared detection (perhaps she is some species of pit viper) or scent to detect people who were invisible; or perhaps she was trained to investigate only people who seemed to be taking an interest in the Potter house. It is possible also that Nagini has been watching the graveyard, and has been trained to take an interest in anyone who visits the Potter graves; Harry does believe that he sees some movement at the edge of the graveyard as they prepare to leave. In any event, Nagini does, somehow, determine the presence of Harry and Hermione and acts to lure them into Voldemort's clutches.
It is never explained how Nagini, being a reptile and thus cold-blooded, is able to function in the snow and chill of the Godric's Hollow winter. Even Northern snakes will hibernate in the winter, when it becomes too cold for them to move easily. We must assume some sort of long-term warming charm which is used to keep Nagini from cooling down too much. The cold temperatures would act to preserve Bathilda's remains, however, making the illusion less likely to literally fall apart.
It is mentioned elsewhere that Harry has trouble distinguishing Parseltongue from English. While this seems, at the time it is introduced, to be a minor plot point, an indication that Harry is truly proficient in Parseltongue, it plays a significant part here. Bathilda communicates with Harry and Hermione by gestures, until they are within her house. When she invites Harry and Hermione into her parlour, it is a single word, which makes Hermione jump; but as Harry hears it as English, we don't notice that it is Nagini speaking. Bathilda continues communicating by gestures only until she has gotten herself and Harry out of Hermione's hearing. If Harry recognized Parseltongue when he heard it, the trap would have failed. We do not learn how Voldemort knows of Harry's Parseltongue ability, and this one blind spot, but it is possible that he was simply arrogant enough to believe that whether Harry knew Parseltongue or not would be irrelevant.
It is mentioned also that Nagini is believed to be a Horcrux. Hermione has already discovered that the physical container of a Horcrux is indestructible by ordinary magic. This may be part of why Nagini seems largely unaffected by Hermione's spells.
As expected, the loss of his wand will leave Harry deep in despair for a while. He is mature enough not to blame Hermione for what has happened, but both he and Hermione are deeply upset by the damage. After Hermione's attempt to repair his wand proves futile, Harry will keep the pieces with him, in the Moke-skin bag Hagrid had given him for his birthday. He will later show the pieces to Ollivander, who will say the wand cannot be repaired. Harry will, however, eventually manage to repair the wand by means of a much stronger wand, the Elder Wand.
A side effect of Harry's wand being broken will be that he will be harder to identify. It becomes apparent that one of the means by which wizards are identified is by their wands, as the Snatchers who later capture the Trio have been given descriptions of Harry and his wand, and later the goblins at Gringotts ask to see Bellatrix' wand to confirm her identity. With his own wand broken, Harry must use a wand that Ron has captured from the Snatchers that tried to capture him. Hermione's attempt to disguise Harry works only because his wand does not match what is in the description of Undesirable Number One. This results in the Snatchers taking Harry to Malfoy Manor for identification. Events there will set up the final parts of the story arc.
This particular adventure, disastrous as it seems initially, is a key part in the discovery and understanding of the Deathly Hallows. The symbol Grindelwald used is actually the symbol of the Deathly Hallows, and Grindelwald had claimed it because in his youth he had been searching the Hallows himself. It will turn out that the thief in the picture was Grindelwald, and what he had stolen was the Elder Wand, the one Hallow that he felt the most valuable. Harry learns the identity of the thief from the copy of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore that Hermione had picked up, but is deeply disturbed by Skeeter's linking of Dumbledore to Grindelwald. The questions raised by Dumbledore's use of this symbol inspire Harry's visit to Xeno Lovegood, and Hermione's mention of finding the symbol also on Ignotus' gravestone is an introduction to the Deathly Hallows following.
Indirectly, this event also leads to Ron's return to the group. So much has happened in this trip that Hermione seems to quite forget that they are not mentioning Ron, in order to spare her feelings. Hermione's speaking his name triggers the Deluminator, Dumbledore's bequest to Ron, resulting in Ron being able to hear their conversation from where he is staying in Shell Cottage, and also resulting in the Deluminator being able to take Ron to Harry and Hermione's campsite. Hermione's spells protecting the camp are effective, and Ron cannot find Harry and Hermione until the following day when Harry is lured out of the protection of the charms.