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Back to school - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Back to school
HBP ends on a note that leaves some contradictory structural cues about Harry's return to Hogwarts in the fall. On the one hand, Harry's pretty definitive about what he means to do, and it would be really bad practice to have him definitely state a course of action only to be talked out of it in the beginning of the next book. On the other, Hogwarts is the emotional and magical power center of the series, and for the series to end in a different location would be equally unbalanced.

So, I've been thinking.

First, I don't think there are many ways structurally around having the final confrontation at Hogwarts. JKR might have chosen to ignore structure in the last book, but in HBP, she goes out of her way to draw the main issues of the saga--Voldemort and his war--directly into Hogwarts mythology. If Harry weren't to return in book 7, then the book 6 information would probably have led away from Hogwarts. Perhaps they'd learn that Voldemort was creating Horcruxes out of famous Muggle landmarks, or that he was making them like Portkeys, scattered around the country and unidentifiable. Instead, for the first time, we learn that Tom has a fixation on objects identified with all four Hogwarts founders. We learn that he wanted the DADA position because it would get him back in. And we learn that he cursed that position out of spite when Dumbledore refused to hire him.

All of these things tie Harry's war closer to Hogwarts, and there was no purpose to adding them other than to do so. So I think, in whatever capacity, Harry will end up back at Hogwarts.

But he's said he won't.

And you can't have the hero run around saying, "Oh, don't mind me, I don't really mean what I say."

So here are some ideas about how Harry might end up back at Hogwarts.

  • Changes his mind. This would be bad, but who knows? People have mental hiccups sometimes. But I don't think so. What would be the point of going back to study for his NEWTs when he knows there are Horcruxes to find and all the momentum of the story is leading there? That said, Harry still has things he needs to learn magically (like how to detect spells, as he'll need to be able to do this in order to find the Horcruxes), so hopefully he'll at least have some study time in the book. And, I don't know, a teacher...?

  • Is talked back in a different capacity. McGonagall, feeling the need to keep the school open and wanting to keep Harry from running all over the country, convinces him to come back and help get his fellow students prepared by teaching DADA. This, of course, would be a death sentence. ;) Seriously, I can't see it happening, though it would be an interesting approach.

  • Uses it as a study base. McGonagall gives him free rein at the library, to get any information he needs for the fight. He's in and out a lot.

  • The school is closed, and the Order uses it as headquarters. This strikes me as pretty reasonable, actually. HBP ended with the possibility of the governors closing the place down, and the teachers accepting that it might happen. Because of its defenses, it's a strong place to have a headquarters. Voldemort launches an attack, and Harry defeats him there.

  • The school is closed, but Harry has to go there to destroy Horcruxes. Hey, they're school-affiliated, why wouldn't they be hidden at the school?

  • The school is open... until Voldemort takes it. Over and over, it's been stressed that Tom wouldn't attack Hogwarts because he feared Dumbledore. Dumbledore is dead. If I'm Voldemort, I'm thinking the time is now ripe for a takeover. That might even be why he determined that Dumbledore needed to die just now. This could be a spectacularly horrible event, if the school is open when it happens, and it could have a high body count. Even if it's not, though, and he only catches maybe McGonagall, Firenze, and Sybill up in her tower, Harry would still have to take the fight to Voldemort there at the castle. This is my favorite scenario, because it would make use of all the things Harry has learned in his playtime years (secret routes in and out, the Invisibility Cloak, getting around the creatures in the forest, etc), but is it too easy a call?

  • He doesn't go back at all, despite the structure. I wouldn't find this satisfying because of the way the series is set up, plus the amplification of the school's importance in book 6, but far be it from me to assume anything is totally and absolutely impossible.

That's all.


41 comments or Leave a comment
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miss_daizy From: miss_daizy Date: August 9th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
The trio travels the country destroying horcruxes. The last horcrux is to be found at Hogwarts and the final battle with Voldemort takes place there, probably within seconds of the destruction of the final horcrux (not necesarily at Harry's hand?). At least that's how I see it as likely to play out.
frenchbraider From: frenchbraider Date: August 9th, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd go with the Horcurxes being hidden at Hogwarts theory. Since we know that a few of the Four Founders' possessions have been used to contain pieces of L.V.'s soul, it would only make sense that at least one would be stashed at the school. Besides, Hogwarts is-or was-one of the safest places in the wizarding world, even more so than Gringotts. L.V. would probably take advantage of that.
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: August 9th, 2005 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I vote for the study base. That is the one that has made sense to me since I finished reading the book. We do know Hogwarts will be open, since Jo says there will be a new DADA teacher. What if it's Harry?
katiemorris From: katiemorris Date: August 9th, 2005 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
When did she say there would be a new DADA teacher? Got a link?
gehayi From: gehayi Date: August 9th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the school will be taken by Voldemort, because that sets up a two-pronged battle: Harry going after the the Horcruxes, and Voldemort consolidating his position. To complicate matters, I think that Voldemort should have hostages--some kids, some teachers, and some of the people from Hogsmeade. some could be physical hostages. Others could be Imperius'ed to die if Harry got past them.

If the school is taken by Voldemort, then this also gives Peter an opportunity to help Harry. Remember, Peter helped make that map, and as the smallest animal of the group, he was probably the one who scouted out most of it. After all, he could get into places that a stag, a bear-like dog and a boy werewolf couldn't. I daresay that Peter knows a fair number of passages that Harry doesn't.

I'd like that. It would tie in the Marauders (and link present-day Peter to the past one), and would allow Peter to help Harry invade or escape or whatever by Peter being his normal, sneaky self.

I'm also hoping that Peter will put that silver hand to good use and die saving Harry from Fenrir Greyback.

A lot in Book Seven hinges on how effective Voldemort is. He needs to be diabolic--brilliant, powerful, shrewd, terrifying. This should be his finest hour. It would make his downfall so much more spectacular.

Whether or not she can pull this off, I don't know.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 9th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Those are more reasons I like the scenario, but I'm going to back away from it before I get too attached. ;)

I also hope Peter dies saving Harry, though I'd love Remus to strike the killing blow on Fenrir. Maybe they can kill him together--Remus refers to all of their problems befalling them because of his lycanthropy, so maybe all the Marauders have a score to settle with Fenrir Greyback.
eir_de_scania From: eir_de_scania Date: August 9th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whatever we guess, Book VII will prove us wrong ;-P (Well, at least I said Mr Lion-face was a new character-HAH!).

But Harry needs knowledge, and what better place to find it than in the Hogwarts library? Where Hermione can help him find the right books. As adults studying for their NEWTs I suppose they have a rather free run of the restricted section anyway.

Or the school is really closed down...
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: August 9th, 2005 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Pardon me, I'm thinking as I type

Besides the Harry-focus, think of the rest of the trio.
Ron stated that she they will follow Harry (the Dursleys are in for a rude surprise). They're a group. If Harry teaches DADA, what will Hermione & Ron be doing?

No, they're not going to become students next year. Given the difficulty we've seen of classes and the importance Hermione places on test scores, they can't skip in and out of class as they'd need to.

I vote for using Hogwarts as a study base (while other students continue to take classes) or the school being closed.

After they finish the horcrux hunt (assuming they survive) I imagine Hermione going BACK to Hogwarts to get her NEWTs, though I don't necessarily see Ron or Harry doing so.

If the school is closed, you're going to have most of the same students returning with Hermione, which opens the door for an eighth book.
If the school stays open, Hermione would be with Ginny's class while the rest of their agemates go off in their own directions.

So I guess that leaves "Uses it as a study base."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 9th, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Pardon me, I'm thinking as I type

If the school is closed, you're going to have most of the same students returning with Hermione, which opens the door for an eighth book.

Not really--once Voldemort is defeated, there's really no more story in this arc. If Hermione goes back to school (and/or Ron and Harry do), that's great, but would probably just be covered in an epilogue ("Hogwarts re-opened the next year, and they all got Outstanding NEWTs in everything, and later went on to...").
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: August 9th, 2005 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
One more thing about Voldemort taking the school. Has anybody really explored the Chamber of Secrets since Harry exposed it? What other treasures might be down there?
katiemorris From: katiemorris Date: August 9th, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I was thinking the same. I think the last, or next to last, Horcrux might be in the Chamber of Secrets. Secrets in the plural, remember. I don't think we're done with Moaning Myrtle either. I'm glad Harry is going to Godric's Hollow though - it's time we saw that. But I figure, even if he doesn't go back full-time to Hogwarts, the school is going to play a big part in the final book.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 9th, 2005 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Shrieking Shack is also physically connected to the school--I wonder if it will come back--and protected by a living element at the school.

I think it's properly "horcruces," as "index" becomes "indices," but JKR used "horcruxes," so I guess we're stuck with it. She also, shudder, used "Patronuses" instead of "Patroni."
From: nothing_gold Date: August 9th, 2005 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Don't forget though that JKR said in the Mugglenet/TLC that in HBP she'd written her last game of Quidditch. So that meant to me that Harry won't be attending school there at the least. With the plot JKR has set up, Harry can't stay at Hogwarts as a student. There's no point to it, especially now that Dumbledore is gone. Now I'd be surprised if he doesn't end up at Hogwarts somehow, because it would indeed throw the whole series off.
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: August 9th, 2005 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Quidditch quote means almost nothing -- if Hogwarts is open, I'd expect it to be on a stripped-down, emergency footing, with frills like athletics cancelled. Heck, they cancelled the entire season for the Triwizard Tournament in fourth year, and that was an event that involved only a handful of students.

Personally, I think Harry is going to try to strike out on his own, screw up a few things during the summer and realize that he's in over his head, and then return to school. He's going to be much, much better equipped to defeat Voldemort if he gets his education under his belt first, and I'd expect him to get that through his head eventually.
From: magnolia_mama Date: August 9th, 2005 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think Harry will return to Hogwarts as a teacher, since Rowling has specifically said that one of his classmates, someone we wouldn't expect, will become a teacher there. However, what do you think of Voldemort returning to Hogwarts not just to take it, but to take over? As you pointed out, Voldemort wanted the DADA position and was refused, and both Tom Riddle and Harry think of Hogwarts as their true home. With Dumbledore out of the way and no one able to say no to him, I can almost see Voldemort getting a perverse thrill out of installing himself as headmaster.
texasmagic From: texasmagic Date: August 10th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)
...both Tom Riddle and Harry think of Hogwarts as their true home.

Setting up a "there's only room for one of us in this school" showdown.
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: August 9th, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that Harry will probably use it as a study base, whether or not it is open, and that the final battle will probably take place there.
merlinssister12 From: merlinssister12 Date: August 9th, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Harry will return to Hogwarts. I think it will be Lupin, and not McGonagall who talks him into it, I see a deep and meaningful conversation between the two at Jame's and Lily's gravesite. I think Harry wants to be an Auror too much to give up his education. I do however think that, since he will be of age by the time school starts again that he will be in and out of Hogwarts far more often looking for the Horcruxes. Not all of them after all are at Hogwarts, the locket, unless it has been moved, is at Grimauld Place, and the snake is with Voldemort, it will probably be the last to go. I think Voldemort will attempt to take the school, but I also think it will take him a little while to realize his horcruxes are being destroyed one by one, he has no more spies, that we know of, at the school any longer.
eir_de_scania From: eir_de_scania Date: August 10th, 2005 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
A deep and meaningful conversation between the two Very British characters Remus and Harry? I don't think so... :-D
caitie From: caitie Date: August 9th, 2005 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps this is a little too video-game esque, but I was thinking that perhaps the introduction of the two other wizarding schools in GoF wasn't just a one-book plotting device. I believe JKR said we would see more of Victor Krum, and I was expecting it to be in HBP. But since we didn't, I'm wondering if we'll see more of him because Harry might travel to Durmstrang? And perhaps Beaubaxtons as well? And then also Hogwarts? It seems fairly certain he will have to return to Howarts for at least one horcrux, whatever happens.

I don't know. Just an idea. :)
From: psalm_27 Date: August 9th, 2005 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
My thought was that the Order would use Hogwarts as their Headquarters. Its seems the most logical way to get Harry back there without him going back on his word at the end of HBP.

I do like your theory with Voldemort taking over the school. Logically it would follow after he had DD killed. The fact that Harry would then be able to put to use all the things he's learned in the previous books seems like a nice way to sum up the series and bring it to a climatic end.
From: hplurker Date: August 10th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Here via the snitch.

There is a good possibility that one of the Horcruxes is in Hogwarts - either in the Chamber of Secrets or in the third floor girls bathroom. Voldemort may have come back to Hogwarts to seek a job from Dumbledore in order to drop the Horcrux. Surely he knew that there was no possibility of Dumbledore hiring him as a teacher. So he must have had another reason. Dumbledore says as much in the memory but (if I remember correctly) Voldemort avoids the question.

If this is true then Harry and his companions will have to come to Hogwarts to destroy at least one Horcrux. Other than that, it may make sense for them do a certain amount of research in the library. As others have pointed out, Hogwarts can also work as a base - whether it remains open as a school or not. So over all I am sure we will see Hogwarts a lot in the next book.
From: tunxeh Date: August 10th, 2005 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
There is a good possibility that one of the Horcruxes is in Hogwarts - either in the Chamber of Secrets or in the third floor girls bathroom.

Don't forget the room of requiring-a-place-to-hide-stuff.
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