Summary: Chapter 35

Harry demands to know where Sirius is. Malfoy asks Harry to give him the prophecy, but Harry refuses to relinquish the sphere, threatening to smash it if the encroaching crowd of Death Eaters attack his friends. Malfoy tells him the sphere contains the story of his scar and explains that only those about whom a prophecy has been made can safely retrieve it. Voldemort could not come himself because the Aurors at the Ministry would have caught him immediately, so they lured Harry here by manipulating his dreams and making him think Sirius was in trouble.

At Harry’s signal, the students use their wands to shatter the rows of spheres. Harry sprints from the chamber, gripping his prophecy. The Death Eaters follow. Hermione is stunned by a Death Eater and falls to the ground. Neville’s nose is broken in the fray. Ron falls under some sort of lunacy spell, and Ginny’s ankle is broken by a Death Eater. Dragging Hermione, they keep moving, but five Death Eaters corner them in the brain room. The brain jar bursts open, and Ron picks one up. Tentacles shoot out and try to strangle Ron. Death Eaters stun Ginny and toss Luna into a desk. Both lie unconscious, leaving only Neville and Harry to fight the remaining Death Eaters. Harry, still clutching the prophecy, runs into the room with the arch. Neville follows, and Lestrange begins to torture Neville with the Crucio curse.

Suddenly, Sirius, Lupin, Moody, Tonks, and Kingsley appear. Sirius yells for Harry to take Neville and the prophecy and run. As Harry attempts to grab Neville, the prophecy slips from his robes and cracks open. Dumbledore appears and corrals the Death Eaters. Lestrange, dueling with Sirius, sends a jet of red light right into his chest, and he falls through the curtains. Harry runs to the arch, but Lupin holds him back. Lupin tells Harry that Sirius is gone.

Summary: Chapter 36

Harry refuses to believe that Sirius is dead. He spots Lestrange and runs after her, vowing to avenge Sirius’s murder. He catches up to her in the Atrium. Harry shouts at Lestrange that the prophecy is gone and that she will have to kill him. Voldemort and Dumbledore appear. Voldemort strikes Dumbledore, but Dumbledore’s bird, Fawkes, takes the blow. Voldemort disappears, and Harry’s scar bursts open. Voldemort uses Harry’s voice to speak to Dumbledore, asking Dumbledore to kill him by killing Harry. Suddenly, Harry feels Voldemort leave his body, and he crumples to the floor. Harry learns that Voldemort had grabbed Lestrange and Disapparated from the Ministry. Cornelius Fudge runs in, confused. He demands to know what has happened, and Dumbledore promises to tell him after he sends Harry back to Hogwarts. Still stunned, Dumbledore gives Harry a Portkey and Harry whizzes back to Dumbledore’s office.

Summary: Chapter 37

Dumbledore meets Harry in his office. Harry is visibly upset about Sirius’s death. Dumbledore tells Harry this pain is his greatest strength. Dumbledore admits it’s his own fault that Sirius is dead because he never told Harry the whole truth about his scar. Dumbledore explains. On the night Harry saw Mr. Weasley attacked, Voldemort figured out that Harry’s scar allowed Harry to be privy to Voldemort’s thoughts and actions. Assuming this connection must work both ways, Voldemort began forcing his way into Harry’s thoughts, which is why Dumbledore ordered Snape to give Harry Occlumency lessons. Voldemort knew the only person Harry would go to great lengths to save was Sirius, so he projected the image of Sirius’s torture into Harry’s mind. Voldemort needed Harry to retrieve the prophecy because he could not risk entering the Ministry himself, and no one else would ever be able to touch it.

When Harry was an infant, Hagrid took him to the Dursleys instead of a Wizarding family because, in order to remain safe, Harry needed to be near his mother’s blood, which came in the form of Aunt Petunia. As long as Harry can still call the place where his mother’s blood dwells home, he is safe. Dumbledore sent the Howler to Petunia to remind her of this bond.

Dumbledore continues his explanation. Sixteen years ago, Sybill Trelawney made a prophecy about a boy who was born at the end of July to parents who had defied Voldemort three times. This part of the prophecy could have applied to either Harry or Neville, who was also born at the end of July to parents who were members of the Order. However, the prophecy went on to say that Voldemort would mark the child as his equal, choosing the boy that he believed would be the most dangerous to him. Dumbledore believes Voldemort chose Harry because Harry was a half-blood, just like Voldemort. But Voldemort only heard the first part of the prophecy. The second part proclaimed that the child would have powers that the Dark Lord would not know, and that either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives. Dumbledore tells Harry that the distinguishing power he has is love.

Summary: Chapter 38

Harry is in the hospital wing with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna. Dumbledore saved Umbridge from the Centaurs, and she is also in the hospital. Harry hasn’t told his friends about the prophecy. He tells his friends he is going to see Hagrid, but instead he sits at the edge of the lake and cries.

Professor McGonagall makes a full recovery and returns to Hogwarts. The day before the end of term, Umbridge leaves the school. Ron rushes off to the Great Feast, but Harry stays behind to pack. Harry finds the wrapped package Sirius gave him at Christmas. He rips the paper off and finds a mirror with an inscription on the back, instructing Harry to use it to communicate with Sirius. Harry shouts into the mirror but receives no reply. Devastated, Harry throws the mirror down, and it shatters. Harry decides to seek advice from a Hogwarts ghost and finds Nearly Headless Nick. Nick explains that not all dead wizards are turned into ghosts. Harry, upset, runs into Luna, who asks about Sirius. Remembering that Luna can see the thestrals, he asks her if anyone she has known has died. Luna says her mother died when she was nine. She tells Harry that the voices behind the curtain at the Department of Mysteries are the voices of wizards who have died. Harry is not sure whether to believe her or not.

The next day, all Hogwarts students board the Hogwarts Express. Cho walks by, and Harry does not meet her eyes. He tells Ron that nothing is going on with Cho anymore, and Hermione gently informs him that Cho is now dating Michael Conner. The news doesn’t bother Harry. When the train pulls into Kings Cross, Harry sees several members of the Order waiting for him. Lupin spots the Dursleys, and Moody, Tonks, and Mr. Weasley insist that they treat Harry fairly while he is home for the summer. Moody tells Harry that if he doesn’t hear from him for three days in a row, he will send someone to check up on him. Ron and Hermione promise to see him soon, and Harry heads back to Four Privet Drive.

Analysis: Chapters 35–38

After months of meeting in secret and practicing spells only on each other, the D.A. finally faces the ultimate test: the students are left alone to fight off a dozen angry Death Eaters. While wounded, frightened, and outnumbered two to one, the students’ training clearly pays off, and the group performs admirably, showing much courage and skill in the face of real and immediate danger. Given that the Ministry of Magic was steadfastly opposed to the students learning any kind of practical Defense Against the Dark Arts, it is painfully ironic that the students must use Defense skills learned in secret in order to protect the property of the Ministry. Given the contents of the prophecy, which could have applied to either Harry or Neville, it seems fitting that, at the final battle at the Ministry, Harry and Neville are the ones left to guard the prophecy.

Though the prophecy does not reveal too much new information for Harry, it does clear up a number of significant details. For the first time, Harry understands why he must spend his summers at Four Privet Drive. As Dumbledore explains, as long as Harry spends at least part of the year with his Aunt Petunia, he is shielded by her blood, which contains the power of his mother’s sacrifice. Dumbledore once told Harry that Harry’s scar was infuriating to Voldemort because it represented total and unconditional love, something Voldemort was incapable of feeling. Now, his mother’s love and blood live on, in the unlikely form of Aunt Petunia. Even though Lily Potter is gone from Harry’s life, she has left her son a priceless legacy, and it is easy to assume that this shield, like Harry’s scar, angers Voldemort tremendously.

For Harry, the massive and unexpected power of his bond with the Dursleys is the ultimate irony. Before Hogwarts, Harry had known only the Dursleys’ version of family, which was based, in large part, on criticism and exclusion. The Dursleys found unity by joining together to deride and exclude Harry, which, undoubtedly, only aggravated Harry’s already tragic loss. The home where Harry feels safest, Hogwarts, is actually where he is most vulnerable, and he must continue to call Four Privet Drive “home” in order to ensure his own safety. Even though Harry is disappointed to learn of this link since it means he must continue to spend most of his breaks with the Dursleys, he is happy to finally understand why Dumbledore has always insisted on his timely return to Four Privet Drive.

Harry’s passionate search for Sirius demonstrates what Dumbledore soon confirms is true: Harry’s heart is both his ultimate weakness and his greatest strength as a Wizard. Dumbledore says that Harry’s heart is the one thing that separates him from Voldemort. He considers Harry’s heart and his capacity for love to be his ultimate power. However, Harry’s strong and uncompromising heart also guarantees that he feels things deeply, and Harry, plagued throughout his life with loss, finds the grieving process extraordinarily difficult. Sirius’s death is a devastating blow, and in the pages that follow his murder, Harry again appears as very different young man. He is sullen and highly introspective, avoiding his friends and refusing to partake in the Great Feast to close the school year. Sirius was the closest thing to real family Harry ever had, his last real connection to his mother and father. Now, Harry is left only with the dreaded Dursleys, who have never treated Harry with any kind of respect or love.

Unlike the death of his parents, who died when Harry was still an infant, Sirius’s death is a tremendous and instantly palpable loss, made worse by the fact that Harry feels at least partially responsible for it. Harry didn’t adequately hone his Occlumency skills; he was tricked by Voldemort; and, in rushing off to the Ministry to save Sirius, he ultimately led Sirius to his death. Even when Lupin and Dumbledore tell Harry that Sirius is gone for good, Harry cannot stop pursuing him. He screams into the mirror Sirius gave him, eventually breaking it in frustration, chases down Nearly Headless Nick, and tries his best to believe Luna’s assertion that the voices behind the curtain are the voices of the dead.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix closes on a subdued and vaguely uneasy note. Voldemort has not returned to full power, but he has not been destroyed, either. Many of his Death Eaters have been corralled by Dumbledore and returned to Azkaban, but Bellatrix Lestrange has escaped unharmed. Sirius has died, and Harry is having trouble accepting the finality of his death. Now, still in mourning, Harry must return for another awful summer with the Dursleys. Over the course of the novel, Harry makes many rash and misinformed decisions and has had to suffer the consequences of those decisions. Making mistakes and dealing with them is an integral part of the learning process, and as Harry begins another summer stifled at Four Privet Drive, he teeters precariously on the awkward ledge between childhood and maturity.