Dumbledore's Man Through and Through

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the theme of loyalty is an important one, and, sadly, it is omitted in the film, for Rufus Scrimgeour does not appear in it, nor do many scenes between Harry and Dumbledore, nor does much of his questioning of Snape's loyalty, nor his disagreement with Ron and Hermione about where Draco Malfoy's loyalties now lie (with respect to the latter the film pretty much tells us flat out what he is doing; a dramatic necessity, perhaps, given restrictions of length, but again, omitting much of Rowling's genius in plotting and in leaving subtle clues and hints for the reader to enjoy and savour).

It is my intention in this post, then, to explore what I believe to be one of the chief themes of The Half-Blood Prince; namely, the theme of loyalty. If anything, of course, Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore is sorely tried more in The Deathly Hallows than in The Half-Blood Prince, but, if loyalty be a virtue, it is one which Harry had to learn as a habit in The Half-Blood Prince (not that he hadn't already demonstrated loyalty to Dumbledore; see The Chamber of Secrets) in order to remain loyal to the Headmaster and carry on the struggle under the most trying and difficult of circumstances in the last volume of the series.

The edition from which I will be quoting is the Raincoast/Bloomsbury edition of 2005. For those of you who wish to read the passages I quote for yourselves but have a different edition of the book, I will include the chapter from which the quotation was taken, using the abbreviation HBP (indicating Half-Blood Prince), followed by the number of the chapter; thus, for example, the first quotation is from the first chapter, and so is noted as 'HBP1'. This form of noting the chapter I am taking from the Harry Potter Lexicon, which is an excellent reference and resource. Needless to say, I will freely discuss what happens in the book, so if you haven't read it, proceed no further.

Scrimgeour is an important character in The Half-Blood Prince, despite appearing in, at most, four or five chapters or so in the book, precisely because of his contest with Dumbledore for Harry's loyalty. Thus it is worth looking at the description of him (from the Muggle Prime Minister's point of view) at the beginning of the book:
The Prime Minister's first, foolish thought was that Rufus Scrimgeour looked rather like an old lion. There were streaks of grey in his mane of tawny hair and his bushy eyebrows; he had keen yellowish eyes behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and a certain rangy, loping grace even though he walked with a slight limp. There was an immediate impression of shrewdness and toughness; the Prime Minister thought he understood why the wizarding community preferred Scrimgeour to Fudge as a leader in these dangerous times. [HBP1, 21-2]
Also worth quoting is something Fudge says before Scrimgeour appears on the scene, just the kind of thing Rowling throws in that one pays no attention to at first:
'I wish him luck,' said Fudge, sounding bitter for the first time. 'I've been writing to Dumbledore twice a day for the past fortnight, but he won't budge. If he'd just been prepared to persuade the boy, I might still be ... well, maybe Scrimgeour will have more success.' [HBP1, 21]
We had just heard (from a portrait on the wall in the Prime Minister's office), that Scrimgeour was finishing a letter to Dumbledore. Were one to consider carefully what Fudge said (which I did not the first time I read The Half-Blood Prince), it wouldn't be hard to guess that 'the boy' Fudge wished Dumbledore to persuade is Harry Potter, but what Fudge and Scrimgeour want Dumbledore to persuade Harry to do is, as yet, unknown (later, as we shall see, Scrimgeour makes a direct appeal to Harry). Anyway, the initial impression of Scrimgeour is, as Rowling writes (from the Prime Minister's point of view) of 'shrewdness and toughness', and his brusque manner in conversation reinforces this impression. At this point, of course, long-time readers of Harry Potter should beware the 'immediate impression' which Scrimgeour makes on them, given that, in virtually every preceding book, someone turns out to be nothing like what we initially thought him or her to be. Even so, it seems that, if anyone could gain Harry's loyalty, an old warrior like Scrimgeour could.

Incidentally, it is interesting that Dumbledore and Scrimgeour never meet each other in person in the Potter books (although outside Harry's experience it is undoubtedly likely that they would have done at some point). The contest between Scrimgeour and Dumbledore for Harry's loyalty will not take place where he is able to see them both together and tell straightaway to whom he should obviously be loyal.

Meanwhile, a more stringent test of Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore consists of an internal battle which he wages over the fact that Dumbledore appears to him to neither heed his warnings about Draco Malfoy nor to explain why he trusts Severus Snape. Harry immediately (and rightly) suspects Malfoy after Katie Bell is injured by the cursed necklace which Malfoy meant Dumbledore to receive, but his suspicions are not well received by the Headmaster upon his sharing them with him:
'Professor,' said Harry, after a short pause, 'did Professor McGonagall tell you what I told her after Katie got hurt? About Draco Malfoy?'
'She told me of your suspicions, yes,' said Dumbledore.
'And do you-?'
'I shall take all appropriate measures to investigate anyone who might have had a hand in Katie's accident,' said Dumbledore. 'But what concerns me now, Harry, is your lesson.'
Harry felt slightly resentful at this: if their lessons were very important, why had there been such a long gap between the first and second? However, he said no more about Draco Malfoy, but watched as Dumbledore poured the fresh memories into the Pensieve, and began swirling the stone basin once more between his long-fingered hands. [HBP13, 244]
As I was re-reading the books, I realised that each time Harry receives word to meet Dumbledore, he comes to the Headmaster's office feeling as though he has greater and greater reason to be resentful of him. You will recall Harry's reaction at their first lesson when Dumbledore informs him that 'it is time, now that you know what prompted Lord Voldemort to try and kill you fifteen years ago, for you to be given certain information.':
'You said, at the end of last term, you were going to tell me everything,' said Harry. It was hard to keep a note of accusation from his voice. 'Sir,' he added. [HBP10, 186-7]
The pattern is as follows: 1) Dumbledore requests that Harry come to his office for a lesson or meeting; 2) something happens that Harry wishes to bring to Dumbledore's attention (in the first instance this is Dumbledore's promise in The Order of the Phoenix to tell Harry everything; subsequently it is events Harry takes part in or discoveries he makes); 3) Dumbledore appears to dismiss Harry's concerns and to command his attention to the task at hand; 4) Harry feels anger or resentment (eventually expressing it); and, most importantly, 5) Harry eventually agrees to give up demanding Dumbledore's attention to whatever it is he has to say (however important he feels it may be), and they get on with doing what Dumbledore has in mind.

It is important to notice this pattern, and important to notice that Harry's decision, his choice, to let go of his own desires to have Dumbledore address Malfoy or Snape, is made, often grudgingly or resentfully, but he makes it all the same, and that Rowling does not draw attention to the choice per se. She does not write anywhere, 'Harry decided to drop the subject and assent to listen to Dumbledore', or anything of the like.

What has this to do with loyalty? Harry's decision to drop Malfoy or Snape and attend to what Dumbledore wants to show him is a choice that reinforces Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore, even though he is often angry with the Headmaster when he makes that decision. Loyalty, in other words, is a virtue that, like all virtues, needs to be learnt if it is to become part of one's character. And, in learning it, one often needs first to be kept in check. In The Half-Blood Prince, Harry frequently assents to Dumbledore's plans because the Headmaster makes it plain in no uncertain terms that he must stop questioning his decision about Snape or what he has done with respect to Malfoy. When his loyalty to Dumbledore is tested several times in The Deathly Hallows, it has become such a part of Harry's character that he does not falter, even though the circumstances testing his loyalty to Dumbledore are much more trying and difficult than those in The Half-Blood Prince.

In many ways, Harry's unrecognised decisions to set aside his own interests in favour of Dumbledore's, no matter how grudgingly or resentfully he makes them, are much more important than his protestations of loyalty to the Headmaster in the face of Scrimgeour's attempts to convince him to work on the Ministry's behalf, to which we now return.

Earlier I wrote that there is, as it were, a contest between Scrimgeour and Dumbledore for Harry's loyalty, but it becomes quite clear where Harry's loyalties lie before long. But to begin with, it is at least plausible that Harry might have chosen to help the Ministry. He is in any event curious about the reported conflict (HBP3, 43-4) between Dumbledore and Scrimgeour:
'Sir, I saw in the Daily Prophet that Fudge has been sacked ...'
'Correct,' said Dumbledore, now turning up a steep side-street. 'He has been replaced, as I am sure you also saw, by Rufus Scrimgeour, who used to be the Head of the Auror Office.'
'Is he ... do you think he's good?' asked Harry.
'An interesting question,' said Dumbledore. 'He is able, certainly. A more decisive and forceful personality than Cornelius.'
'Yes, but I meant -'
'I know what you meant. Rufus is a man of action and, having fought Dark wizards for most of his working life, does not underestimate Lord Voldemort.'
Harry waited, but Dumbledore did not say anything about the disagreement with Scrimgeour that the Daily Prophet had reported, and he did not have the nerve to pursue the subject, so he changed it. [HBP4, 62]
Another indication that Harry has not yet settled firmly on Dumbledore's side is his continued desire to be an Auror:
Harry looked back down at his [OWL] results. They were as good as he could have hoped for. He felt just one tiny twinge of regret ... this was the end of his ambition to become an Auror. He had not secured the required Potions grade. He had known all along that he wouldn't, but he still felt a sinking in his stomach as he looked again at that small black 'E'.
It was odd, really, seeing that it had been a Death Eater in disguise who had first told Harry he would make a good Auror, but somehow the idea had taken hold of him, and he couldn't really think of anything else he would like to be. Moreover, it had seemed the right destiny for him since he had heard the prophecy a month ago ... neither can live while the other survives [italics original] ... wouldn't he be living up to the prophecy, and giving himself the best chance of survival, if he joined those highly trained wizards whose job it was to find and kill Voldemort? [HBP5, 102]
But the news of Stan Shunpike's arrest, most of all, dispels any illusions Harry might have had about Scrimgeour.
Hermione... unfolded [the newspaper] hastily and scanned the front page.
'Anyone we know dead?' asked Ron in a determinedly casual voice; he posed the same question every time Hermione opened her paper.
'No, but there have been more Dementor attacks,' said Hermione. 'And an arrest.'
'Excellent, who?' said Harry, thinking of Bellatrix Lestrange.
'Stan Shunpike,' said Hermione.
'What?' said Harry, startled.
' "Stanley Shunpike, conductor on the popular wizarding conveyance the Knight Bus, has been arrested on suspicion of Death Eater activity. Mr Shunpike, 21, was taken into custody late last night after a raid on his Clapham home ... " ' [italics original]
'Stan Shunpike, a Death Eater?' said Harry, remembering the spotty youth he had first met three years before. 'No way!'
'He might have been put under the Imperius Curse,' said Ron reasonably. 'You never can tell.'
'It doesn't look like it,' said Hermione, who was still reading. 'It says here he was arrested after he was overheard talking about the Death Eaters' secret plans in a pub.' ...
'It sounds like he was trying to make out he knew more than he did,' said Ron. 'Isn't he the one who claimed he was going to become Minister for Magic when he was trying to chat up those Veela?'
'Yeah, that's him,' said Harry. 'I dunno what they're playing at, taking Stan seriously.'
'They probably want to look as though they're doing something,' said Hermione, frowning. [HBP11, 208-9]
'Has it been busy at the Ministry?' [asked Harry.]
'Very,' said Mr Weasley. 'I wouldn't mind if we were getting anywhere, but of the three arrests we've made in the last couple of months, I doubt that one of them is a genuine Death Eater - only don't repeat that, Harry,' he added quickly... .
'They're not still holding Stan Shunpike, are they?' asked Harry.
'I'm afraid so,' said Mr Weasley. 'I know Dumbledore's tried appealing directly to Scrimgeour about Stan ... I mean, anybody who has actually interviewed him agrees that he's about as much a Death Eater as this satsuma ... but the top levels want to look as though they're making some progress, and "three arrests" sounds better than "three mistaken arrests and releases" ... but again, this is all top secret ... ' [HBP16, 310]
The following day, Christmas Day, brings Rufus Scrimgeour himself and the first test of Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore, which I will quote in full (more or less) and at length. Most of the ellipses are original; those indicating editorial cuts will be marked by brackets.
Rufus Scrimgeour paused in the doorway, leaning on his walking stick and smiling as he observed this affecting scene.
'You must forgive this intrusion,' he said, when Mrs Weasley looked round at him, beaming and wiping her eyes. 'Percy and I were in the vicinity - working, you know - and he couldn't resist dropping in and seeing you all.' [...]
'Please, come in, sit down, Minister!' fluttered Mrs Weasley, straightening her hat. 'Have a little purkey, or some tooding - I mean -'
'No, no, my dear Molly,' said Scrimgeour. Harry guessed that he had checked on her name with Percy before they entered the house. 'I don't want to intrude, wouldn't be here at all if Percy hadn't wanted to see you all so badly ...'
'Oh, Perce!' said Mrs Weasley tearfully, reaching up to kiss him.
'... we've only looked in for five minutes, so I'll have a stroll around the yard while you catch up with Percy. No, no, I assure you I don't want to butt in! Well, if anybody cared to show me your charming garden ... ah, that young man's finished, why doesn't he take a stroll with me?'
The atmosphere around the table changed perceptibly. Everybody looked from Scrimgeour to Harry. Nobody seemed to find Scrimgeour's pretence that he did not know Harry's name convincing, or find it natural that he should be chosen to accompany the Minister around the garden when Ginny, Fleur and George also had clean plates.
'Yeah, all right,' said Harry into the silence.
He was not fooled; for all Scrimgeour's talk that they had just been in the area, that Percy wanted to look up his family, this must be the real reason that they had come, so that Scrimgeour could speak to Harry alone.
'It's fine,' he said quietly, as he passed Lupin, who had half-risen from his chair. 'Fine,' he added, as Mr Weasley opened his mouth to speak.
'Wonderful!' said Scrimgeour, standing back to let Harry pass through the door ahead of him. 'We'll just take a turn around the garden and then Percy and I'll be off. Carry on, everyone!'
Harry walked across the yard towards the Weasley's overgrown, snow-covered garden, Scrimgeour limping slightly at his side. He had, Harry knew, been Head of the Auror Office; he looked tough and battle-scarred, very different from portly Fudge in his bowler hat.
'Charming,' said Scrimgeour, stopping at the garden fence and looking out over the snowy lawn and the indistinguishable plants. 'Charming.'
Harry said nothing. He could tell that Scrimgeour was watching him.
'I've wanted to meet you for a very long time,' said Scrimgeour, after a few moments. 'Did you know that?'
'No,' said Harry truthfully.
'Oh yes, for a very long time. But Dumbledore has been very protective of you,' said Scrimgeour. 'Natural, of course, natural, after what you've been through ... especially what happened at the Ministry ...'
He waited for Harry to say something, but Harry did not oblige, so he went on, 'I have been hoping for an occasion to talk to you ever since I gained office, but Dumbledore has - most understandably, as I say - prevented this.'
Still Harry said nothing, waiting.
'The rumours that have flown around!' said Scrimgeour. 'Well, of course, we both know how these stories get distorted ... all these whispers of a prophecy ... of you being the "Chosen One" ...'
They were getting near it now, Harry thought, the reason Scrimgeour was here.
'... I assume that Dumbledore has discussed these matters with you?'
Harry deliberated, wondering whether he ought to lie or not. He looked at the little gnome prints all around the flower-beds [...] . Finally he decided on the truth ... or a bit of it.
'Yeah, we've discussed it.'
'Have you, have you ...' said Scrimgeour. Harry could see, out of the corner of his eyes, Scrimgeour squinting at him, so pretended to be very interested in a gnome that had just poked its head out from underneath a frozen rhododendron. 'And what has Dumbledore told you, Harry?'
'Sorry, but that's between us,' said Harry.
He kept his voice as pleasant as he could, and Scrimgeour's tone, too, was light and friendly as he said, 'Oh, of course, if it's a question of confidences, I wouldn't want you to divulge ... no, no ... and in any case, does it really matter whether you are the Chosen One or not?'
Harry had to mull that one over for a few seconds before responding.
'I don't really know what you mean, Minister.'
'Well, of course, to you [italics original] it will matter enormously,' said Scrimgeour with a laugh. 'But to the wizarding community at large ... it's all perception, isn't it? It's what people believe that's important.'
Harry said nothing. He thought he saw, dimly, where they were heading, but he was not going to help Scrimgeour get there. The gnome under the rhododendron was now digging for worms at its roots and Harry kept his eyes fixed upon it.
'People believe you are [italics original] the Chosen One, you see,' said Scrimgeour. 'They think you are quite the hero - which, of course, you are, Harry, chosen or not! How many times have you faced He Who Must Not Be Named now? Well, anyway,' he pressed on, without waiting for a reply, 'the point is, you are a symbol of hope for many, Harry. The idea that there is somebody out there who might be able, who might even be destined [ditto], to destroy He Who Must Not Be Named - well, naturally, it gives people a lift. And I can't help but feel that, once you realise this, you might consider it, well, almost a duty, to stand alongside the Ministry, and give everyone a boost.'
The gnome had just managed to get hold of a worm. It was now tugging very hard on it, trying to get it out of the frozen ground. Harry was silent so long that Scrimgeour said, looking from Harry to the gnome, 'Funny little chaps, aren't they? But what say you, Harry?'
'I don't exactly understand what you want,' said Harry slowly. ' "Stand alongside the Ministry" ... what does that mean?'
'Oh, well, nothing at all onerous, I assure you,' said Scrimgeour. 'If you were to be seen popping in and out of the Ministry from time to time, for instance, that would give the right impression. And of course, while you were there, you would have ample opportunity to speak to Gawain Robards, my successor as Head of the Auror Office. Dolores Umbridge has told me that you cherish an ambition to become an Auror. Well, that could be arranged very easily ...'
Harry felt anger bubbling in the pit of his stomach: so Dolores Umbridge was still at the Ministry, was she?
'So basically,' he said, as though he just wanted to clarify a few points, 'you'd like to give the impression that I'm working for the Ministry?'
'It would give everyone a lift to think you were more involved, Harry,' said Scrimgeour, sounding relieved that Harry had cottoned on so quickly. 'The "Chosen One", you know ... it's all about giving people hope, the feeling that exciting things are happening ...'
'But if I keep running in and out of the Ministry,' said Harry, still endeavouring to keep his voice friendly, 'won't that seem as though I approve of what the Ministry's up to?'
'Well,' said Scrimgeour, frowning slightly, 'well, yes, that's partly why we'd like -'
'No, I don't think that'll work,' said Harry pleasantly. 'You see, I don't like some of the things the Ministry's doing. Locking up Stan Shunpike, for instance.'
Scrimgeour did not speak for a moment, but his expression hardened instantly.
'I would not expect you to understand,' he said, and he was not as successful at keeping anger out of his voice as Harry had been. 'These are dangerous times, and certain measures need to be taken. You are sixteen years old -'
'Dumbledore's a lot older than sixteen, and he doesn't think Stan should be in Azkaban either,' said Harry. 'You're making Stan a scapegoat, just like you want to make me a mascot.'
They looked at each other, long and hard. Finally Scrimgeour said, with no pretence at warmth, 'I see. You prefer - like your hero Dumbledore - to disassociate yourself from the Ministry?'
'I don't want to be used,' said Harry.
'Some would say it's your duty to be used by the Ministry!'
'Yeah, and others might say it's your duty to check people really are Death Eaters before you chuck them in prison,' said Harry, his temper rising now. 'You're doing what Barty Crouch did. You never get it right, you people, do you? Either we've got Fudge, pretending everything's lovely while people get murdered right under his nose, or we've got you, chucking the wrong people into jail and trying to pretend you've got the Chosen One working for you!'
'So you're not the Chosen One?' said Scrimgeour.
'I thought you said it didn't matter either way?' said Harry, with a bitter laugh. 'Not to you, anyway.'
'I shouldn't have said that,' said Scrimgeour quickly. 'It was tactless -'
'No, it was honest,' said Harry. 'One of the only honest things you've said to me. You don't care whether I live or die, but you do care that I help convince everyone you're winning the war against Voldemort. I haven't forgotten, Minister ...'
He raised his right fist. There, shining white on the back of his cold hand, were the scars which Dolores Umbridge had forced him to carve into his own flesh: I must not tell lies. [Italics original]
'I don't remember you rushing to my defence when I was trying to tell everyone Voldemort was back. The Ministry wasn't so keen to be pals last year.'
They stood in silence as icy as the ground beneath their feet. The gnome had finally managed to extricate its worm and was now sucking on it happily, leaning against the bottom-most branches of the rhododendron bush.
'What is Dumbledore up to?' said Scrimgeour brusquely. 'Where does he go, when he is absent from Hogwarts?'
'No idea,' said Harry.
'And you wouldn't tell me if you knew,' said Scrimgeour, 'would you?'
'No, I wouldn't,' said Harry.
'Well, then, I shall have to see whether I can't find out by other means.'
'You can try,' said Harry indifferently. 'But you seem cleverer than Fudge, so I'd have thought you'd have learned from his mistakes. He tried interfering at Hogwarts. You might have noticed he's not Minister any more, but Dumbledore's still Headmaster. I'd leave Dumbledore alone, if I were you.'
There was a long pause.
'Well, it is clear to me that he has done a very good job on you,' said Scrimgeour, his eyes cold and hard behind his wire-rimmed glasses. 'Dumbledore's man through and through, aren't you, Potter?'
'Yeah, I am,' said Harry. 'Glad we straightened that out.'
And turning his back on the Minister for Magic, he strode back towards the house. [HBP16, 320-6]
One of the reasons I have quoted this passage at such length is because I believe it is some of the best writing in the Harry Potter canon. Scrimgeour's speech about Harry's heroic stature providing hope and deliberately vague request that he 'stand alongside the Ministry' is a piece of political jawing that is in its own way as insidious - and as powerfully written - as Saruman's speech to Gandalf about the 'new Power' with which they should join forces in The Lord of the Rings. Scrimgeour, of course, is no villain, but his speech is insidious in the same way that Saruman's is, albeit subtler and briefer, because both are disingenuous. It is carefully crafted, with its appeal to hope, but you can sense that Scrimgeour is trying to put one over Harry.

Rowling also excellently includes appeals to the senses. While Harry and Scrimgeour talk, we see with them the gnome rooting for worms. Rowling draws our attention to the gnome at those times when it would occur naturally if we were having such a conversation ourselves, which is during pauses while first Harry and then Scrimgeour think of what to say.

The handling of so lengthy a dialogue is in this passage is much more skillful than that of many other dialogues in the Harry Potter books, for here Rowling here eschews what is, it must be said, her habitual overuse of adverbs. In describing the manner in which Harry and Scrimgeour talk, she employs adverbs and adverbial phrases only to the extent, I believe, that they convey best the nuances of their conversation. The one stylistic lapse, overall, might be said to be the near-cliché, 'They stood in silence as icy as the ground beneath their feet', but it is at least apt. Nor is the dialogue overdramatic; there is no shouting, for example, written entirely in capital letters. Neither Harry nor Scrimgeour say anything which is 'out of character' for a sixteen year-old boy or the Minister for Magic; say, rather, that Harry sees through Scrimgeour's 'politeness', for he understands, as the reader is meant to understand, that Scrimgeour is putting on a bit of an act.

To return to the visual setting for a moment, I am about to indulge in what may be eisegesis, but, if you recall what I had to say about wizarding gnomes in my post on The Chamber of Secrets, I would go so far as to say that, by placing Harry and Scrimgeour's conversation in the Weasleys' garden, Rowling is alluding to the distinction between appearance and reality which was raised in the original appearance of 'real' gnomes, an allusion which I believe gains more credibility when said distinction is raised by none other than Scrimgeour himself: 'But to the wizarding community at large ... it's all perception, isn't it? It's what people believe that's important.' That said, it would be going to far to hold that there is any significance, say, to the gnome's digging for worms beyond its role as a visual element.

Harry's rejection of Scrimgeour's appeal seems easily made, and to an extent it is, but Harry is able to make the decision to reject Scrimgeour's idea, and what it would signify if he went along with it, because of the wisdom he has gained from his experience. 'You never get it right, you people, do you?', he says; meanwhile, he, Harry, has got it right (at least, more than Scrimgeour has).

Anyway, the test of Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore ends with Harry accepting Scrimgeour's taunt, that he is 'Dumbledore's man through and through', as true. Although Scrimgeour tries once more in The Half-Blood Prince, at Dumbledore's funeral, to get Harry to fall in line, we already know that there is no question that he will fail.

Upon returning to Hogwarts after the Christmas holiday, Harry reports his meeting with the Minister for Magic to Dumbledore:
'The Prophet is bound to report the truth occasionally,' said Dumbledore, 'if only accidentally. Yes, that was why we argued. Well, it appears that Rufus found a way to corner you at last.'
'He accused me of being "Dumbledore's man through and through." '
'How very rude of him.'
'I told him I was.'
Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. Behind Harry, Fawkes the phoenix let out a low, soft, musical cry. To Harry's intense embarrassment, he suddenly realised that Dumbledore's bright blue eyes looked rather watery, and stared hastily at his own knees. When Dumbledore spoke, however, his voice was quite steady.
'I am very touched, Harry.' [HBP17, 334-5]
No sooner has Harry touched Dumbledore's heart with so earnest a declaration of loyalty than they row (as it were) over Harry's concerns about Snape and Malfoy, of course, but that is one of the excellences of Rowling's writing; Harry, after all, is a sixteen year-old boy.

Finally, one of the fruits of Harry's choice, made over and over again, to be loyal to Dumbledore, in the face of, first, what appears to be cutting indifference to his own concerns, and then having to follow what appears to be an insane order, is that he becomes aware of Dumbledore's loyalty to him. This is best exemplified by two quotes (with which I shall end this essay) which may be said to serve as book-ends (the first is found in HBP4, 59; the second HBP26, 540), the latter of which, because of its allusion to the former,being one of the most moving passages in the Potter canon:
'Keep your wand at the ready, Harry,' he said brightly.
'But I thought I'm not allowed to use magic outside school, sir?'
'If there is an attack,' said Dumbledore, 'I give you permission to use any counter-jinx or -curse that might occur to you. However, I do not think you need worry about being attacked tonight.'
'Why not, sir?'
'You are with me,' said Dumbledore simply.
... Harry guided his headmaster back around the lake, bearing most of his weight.
'The protection was ... after all ... well designed,' said Dumbledore faintly. 'One alone could not have done it ... you did well, very well, Harry ...'
'Don't talk now,' said Harry, fearing how slurred Dumbledore's voice had become, how much his feet dragged, 'save your energy, sir ... we'll soon be out of here ...'
'The archway will have sealed again ... my knife ...'
'There's no need, I got cut on the rock,' said Harry firmly, 'just tell me where ...'
'Here ...'
Harry wiped his grazed forearm upon the stone: having received its tribute of blood the archway reopened instantly. They crossed the outer cave and Harry helped Dumbledore back into the icy sea water that filled the crevice in the cliff.
'It's going to be all right, sir,' Harry said over and over again, more worried by Dumbledore's silence than he had been by his weakened voice. 'We're nearly there ... I can Apparate us both back ... don't worry ...'
'I am not worried, Harry,' said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. 'I am with you.'


  1. Just stumbled upon this. You have given it a great amount of thought. I liked the read.

  2. Really fascinating post, I think one other character other than Harry whose loyalty comes into play in both this book and the Deathly Hallows is Ron. As we see from his fear to play Quidditch, Ron lacks confidence in himself and Rowling cleverly depicts this lack of confidence in his work (quidditch and his studies) and romantic life, Ron obviously feels something for Hermione as we see by his jealousy of her and Krum's relationship but rather than overcoming his fears and insecurities and admitting this, he chooses to "snog" Lavender Brown. Ron chooses the easy option rather than facing his fears and telling Hermione how he feels.

    “I never promised Hermione anything,” Ron mumbled. “I mean, all right, I was going to go to Slughorn’s Christmas party with her, but she never said… just as friends… I’m a free agent…”

    This fear and insecurity is paralleled in Ron's ability to play Quidditch, as we see through his lack of confidence making him angry and "as touchy and ready to lash out as the average Blast-Ended Skrewt" (what a great simile!) However, Harry apparently placing some Felix Felicis in his drink skyrockets his confidence and allows him to play extremely impressively. Here, Rowling plays with the idea of reality and fantasy and how beliefs can alter our actions positively, even with a simply belief that he is more lucky, Ron has the ability to play better despite there being no real change in him.

    This confidence and self-esteem issue also comes into play in the final book in the series where Ron leaves his friends, his view that he is less than them and his jealousy leads to him leaving them (along with the horcrux intensifying these feelings). However, his loyalty appears to be what makes him return. Despite his negative feelings towards his friends in the short-term, he realises he cannot be without them in the long-term. In other words, Ron is Harry's man. Through and through.

    1. Thanks, and that's a very good point - Ron's crisis of loyalty to Harry does stem from his insecurity and jealousy, as you say. His unwillingness to back Harry in The Goblet of Fire is another example.

      I enjoyed your thoughtful reply!


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