Chapter 26 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Seen and Unforeseen
Luna Lovegood does not know when the interview with Harry will be published in The Quibbler. At dinner, Harry tells Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, and Neville about the interview. All agree that Harry acted courageously. As they leave, Ron arrives from Quidditch practice, while Cho Chang walks in with Marietta Edgecombe, ignoring Harry. When Harry tells Hermione that their date went badly. Hermione suggests he approached it wrong. He should have told Cho that he really hated that he had to meet Hermione, and even though he did not really like her, he promised to go see her, ugly as she was. Harry protests that Hermione is not ugly. Harry thinks Hermione should write a book about how to understand girls, to which Ron whole-heartedly agrees.
Ron and Ginny are dejected over how bad Quidditch practice was. Ginny, who is playing Seeker, says Angelina was nearly in tears at the end. The Twins comment later to Harry and Hermione that Ginny is an excellent player. Hermione says she has been breaking into the Weasley broom shed and practicing since she was six-years-old. Fred laments that Quidditch was about the only thing keeping them at school. With the Skiving Snackbox line ready to go, they could open a store any time, and they do not need NEWTs to do that.
The following weekend's Quidditch game against Hufflepuff is awful as well, with only two mitigating factors: first, it is short, and second, by dint of her excellent flying, Ginny grabs the Snitch from under the Hufflepuff Seeker's nose, and Gryffindor loses by only ten points.
That night, Harry has his recurring nightmare of long hallways and closed doors; he is awakened by Ron's loud snoring.
The following Monday at breakfast, Harry is surprised by a flock of owls delivering him mail. The Quibbler article was published over the weekend, and the letters seem evenly split between those who think he is insane, and others believing that his story fills the gaping holes in the Ministry's official version. Professor Umbridge is incensed, and immediately gives Harry detention and penalizes him 50 House points, as well as cancelling further Hogsmeade visits. Very shortly, a new Educational Decree appears: possessing the Quibbler is an expulsion offence. Hermione is happy because it ensures the entire school will read it. And it appears the teachers have read it; Harry seems to be receiving extra favors from them. For Harry, the best result is that Cho seems to have forgiven him. Between classes, she apologises for her own behaviour, says how brave he was to give the interview, and kisses him. Harry also sees Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle discussing something with another Slytherin boy in the library. Hermione says they are unable to contradict Harry's claims that their fathers are Death Eaters because they cannot admit to reading the Quibbler without risking being expelled.
That night, Harry has another disturbing dream in which he is Voldemort discussing Bode's death with Rookwood, one of the escaped Death Eaters. Voldemort is angry because Rookwood, who worked at the Ministry before his arrest, told him that the plan to extract something from the Ministry was doomed to fail. That is why Bode fought Malfoy's Imperius curse so strongly. Dismissing Rookwood, Voldemort asks to see Avery, who helped create the plan. Harry wakes up, screaming. Ron asks if there is another attack, but Harry says only the Death Eater Avery is in trouble. Ron wants him to tell Dumbledore, but Harry refuses, saying Dumbledore would not have had him learn Occlumency if he wanted to hear about these things.
Discussing Harry's dream the next day, Hermione speculates that Bode, under the Imperius curse, was being forced to steal the weapon at the Ministry, and, running afoul of the protective spells around it, went insane and landed in St. Mungo's. The healer there had said that Bode was recovering, so the Death Eaters probably killed him off before he improved enough to recount what happened. Harry recalls that Lucius Malfoy was loitering in the Department of Mysteries the same day as his hearing. Hermione guesses that Lucius used the Imperius curse on Sturgis Podmore, which is why he was trying to get through a security door at the Ministry when he was arrested.
Harry continues his Occlumency lessons, but his hatred for Snape prevents him from clearing his mind. Although he is making little progress, on one occasion, he briefly enters Snape's mind using a Shield Charm. The next attempt, Harry again experiences his corridors dream, but when he reaches the door, it is open for the first time. Snape breaks him from the vision, seeming concerned at what is appearing in Harry's mind.
Their session is interrupted by someone frantically screaming in the entrance hall. It is a hysterical Professor Trelawney, who has just been fired by Umbridge and ordered to leave Hogwarts immediately. Parvati and Lavender are seen lamenting the Divination teacher's sacking, and, despite her mild dislike of her, Professor McGonagall turns up and consoles Trelawney. Dumbledore then intervenes, and although he is unable to reverse Trelawney's dismissal, he tells Umbridge that it is within his power to allow Trelawney to remain in residence at the castle. Dumbledore also tells her that he still has the authority to replace Trelawney with his own appointment, and, to Umbridge's outrage, he introduces the Centaur, Firenze, as the new Divination teacher.
Skeeter's article in the Quibbler may have changed many peoples' opinion about Harry and Dumbledore, although others remain unconvinced that Voldemort has returned. Umbridge is not only outraged, but she realizes the story will garner support for Harry while further eroding her power and the Ministry's official stance. Her attempt to ban the story from Hogwarts only ensures that it will be read by even more students, and lends credibility to Harry's claim about Voldemort. Her previous Educational Decree prohibiting faculty and students from engaging in personal conversations, and this one banning simple possession of a magazine, shows her increasing desperation and paranoia, and will only create further solidarity and opposition against her. Dumbledore does little to interfere with Umbridge's antics, perhaps knowing that she is her own worst enemy and will likely self-destruct given enough time. However, he intervenes to prevent Umbridge from ousting Trelawney from the castle, and further infuriates and undermines her authority by appointing the Centaur, Firenze, as Trelawney's replacement. We have already heard her speaking with almost unveiled hatred against "half-breeds" like Hagrid, and it is certain that Dumbledore is aware that Umbridge considers Centaurs to be of the same ilk.
Hermione is correct that Umbridge's banning the Quibbler will absolutely ensure it will be read by the entire school. Human nature is such that any attempt to withhold information by authorities will only increase curiosity about it and the desire to access it. Umbridge's high-handed treatment of the school's occupants, staff and students alike, made her a prime target for rebellion. That said, even without the decree, the article would be read and discussed, as Umbridge's attempts to bluster away the truth have highlighted voids in her stories, which Harry's interview fills.
Meanwhile, Harry continues to struggle with Occlumency, although it may be his resistance to learning it that causes him difficulties. One must also assume that this is partially due to the teacher assigned to him. Snape can seldom resist an opportunity to needle Harry, and if Snape's teaching methods are to be trusted, the process' first step is to clear the mind of all emotion, something that appears to be nearly impossible for Harry in Snape's presence. Not only does Harry fail to understand why he must study Occlumency, he actually prefers knowing what Voldemort is thinking. However, Harry fails to consider that the connection between him and Voldemort could be a dangerous two-way path, something Dumbledore already suspects.
It seems odd that when Harry's vision becomes more detailed and focused, Snape prevents Harry from seeing what is inside the now-open door. Snape may know what is in there, but wants to prevent Harry from seeing it. Harry, of course, has no idea, either what is behind the door, or why his dreams are being repeatedly impelled down this particular hallway.
Harry's "dream" on the Monday night is quite plainly something else entirely, like his earlier witnessing of the attack on Mr. Weasley. We now perceive that Podmore's arrest and imprisonment, and Bode's insanity, were side effects of a plan that Voldemort had put into motion to retrieve an item from the Ministry. Voldemort learns here that this plan will be ineffective, and that a new one will have to be devised. Readers may want to see if they can figure out what the new plan will be; there is one, very thin, clue appearing already in this chapter.
- Whom does Dumbledore hire to replace Trelawney and why? What is Umbridge's reaction?
- What is Hermione's theory about Bode?
- What are the after-effects of Skeeter's article in The Quibbler?
- Why might Umbridge want to banish Trelawney from the school in addition to sacking her?
- Why does Dumbledore insist that Trelawney remain in the castle after Umbridge fires her?
- Why would Umbridge ban possession of The Quibbler? What prompted this latest Decree?
- Is banning The Quibbler an effective measure? Why or why not?
- Why does Snape break off Harry's vision during Occlumency just as he is about to enter the open door? What could be behind it and why wouldn't Snape want Harry to see it?
Quite possibly, the reason Dumbledore chooses to keep Trelawney at Hogwarts — affirmed somewhat by an exchange between Dumbledore and Harry in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — is that were Trelawney to fall into Death Eaters' hands, they would attempt to extract the Prophecy revealed towards the end of this book, and thus learn its "missing" second half. Whether or not they succeeded in retrieving the prophecy, Trelawney would be unlikely to survive the attempt. Dumbledore's line in Chapter 20 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is as follows: "Between ourselves, she has no idea of the danger she would be in outside the castle. She does not know — and I think it would be unwise to enlighten her — that she made the prophecy about you and Voldemort, you see."
It is possible that the interview's overwhelming popularity may be the reason that the Quibbler runs stories about Harry that are counter to the official Ministry line in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Remembering that news about Harry so hugely outsold stories about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, the editor may have decided that articles about Harry, being equally counter to the Ministry as his more sensational pieces but significantly more popular, would make for a more profitable paper. Rita Skeeter had previously mentioned that all newspapers, including the Prophet, write stories to sell papers. While the Quibbler may have been created as a public service, it is a safe bet that the windfall resulting from the publication of Harry's interview will have given its editor a definite impetus towards printing more stories about him.
Harry's dream here marks Voldemort's changing strategy to retrieve the Prophecy. As noted, Voldemort discovers that his plan cannot succeed and that he must devise a new one. Rookwood revealed that only the people named in a Prophecy are able to remove it from the shelf without being driven mad, as Bode was; as only Harry and Voldemort are named in this prophecy, one of them must physically remove the Prophecy from its shelf. (Though the prophecy was made by Trelawney in Dumbledore's presence, the book remains mute on whether they would be able to touch the prophecy without being driven mad.) Voldemort has become aware of the connection between himself and Harry, and now devises a plan to lure Harry to the Department of Mysteries by means of that connection. He will gradually lead Harry mentally further into the Hall of Prophecy until he is able to show Harry where the Prophecy is stored, and then will fabricate an event to force Harry to that location. It is interesting how quickly this plan is put into play: in the Occlumency lesson of this chapter, we already see that the door has opened, an indication that Voldemort is pulling Harry deeper within his mental picture of the Department.
We note in passing that it has been some time since Rookwood escaped from Azkaban – the breakout was in early January, shortly after Harry's return to school, and this chapter covers the few days after Valentine's Day, February 14th. While some of this time will have been spent in getting back up to speed with Voldemort's plans and society in general, it will have also been necessary for Rookwood to build up his courage. He has bad news for Voldemort, who is known to punish the messenger, sometimes fatally. We see here that Voldemort apparently uses this as something of a premeditated control mechanism; he expressly states that Rookwood has nothing to fear this time. But there is a question that remains unanswered, based on what we learn about how Voldemort runs his organization. In a later book, Snape says that Voldemort deals harshly with those who reveal his plans, even if only to other Death Eaters. How did Rookwood learn of the plan to capture the Prophecy from the Ministry?
We also note that while Harry's romance is presumably progressing, with the reconciliation with Cho in this chapter, there will not be any mention of its progress until the final breakup two chapters (and probably two months) ahead. We surmise that the author's reason for eliding the ongoing romance is that a relationship that is proceeding smoothly makes for boring reading; it is only friction that makes for interest. Having Cho be in a different House also makes it easier for the author to minimize the need to write about it, as does having her be in a different year. As we will see in a later book, a romance within Gryffindor house will be mentioned repeatedly as it will be carried on in the common room, while Harry and Cho must meet outside of class time and away from their respective Houses, and so will be less visible to others in the story. It is, of course, possible, though unlikely, that Harry and Cho don't actually rekindle their romance, but we believe that Cho is still attending sessions of Dumbledore's Army during the upcoming interval. At the very least, there must be occasion for brief, though offstage, snogging sessions after DA meetings. This does bring up one additional question: is part of the motive for betrayal of the DA simple jealousy?