The Ministry of Magic
Synopsis by Maureen Knight
Notes and links by Michele L. Worley
U.S. hardcover edition: pages 121 - 136
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 112 - 125
U.K. paperback edition: pages 138 - 154
Timeframe: Thursday, August 12,
In which Arthur Weasley takes Harry to the Ministry of Magic
for his scheduled hearing and Harry gets a look at the Ministry building
and the setup of its offices.
Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:
This chapter is the largest single source of information about the
organization of the Ministry of Magic, as of the release of HBP.
The blank picture on the wall sniggered again.
We need to be a bit more careful,
[Scrimgeour]'s been asking Kingsley and me funny questions...
The hearing's on my floor, in Amelia Bones' office.
She's Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement
and she's the one who'll be questioning you.
Regarding the floorplan, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement
has her office on the same floor as the rest of the department employees,
rather than (to name one possibility) being on a separate floor with other
heads of department.
The procedural question is of great interest, since due process of law
in the wizarding world seems quite fragile during the years of the wars
against Voldemort. For the sake of discussion, I am going to assume that
Arthur's information about where Harry is to go and who is to question
him come from his knowledge of standard procedure in such a case.
Harry has received a prior warning from the Improper Use of Magic Office
(in CS2). His current troubles arise from
being accused of a second, and more serious, offence. (Note, by the way,
that no mention is made of the possible presence a representative of the
Improper Use of Magic Office on this occasion,
which might have been expected.)
The expected procedure on this occasion is that the underage wizard
will appear for his disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic, but
that it will not involve a trial by jury or by a panel of judges. Instead,
he will appear before the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement
to be questioned in her office, rather than in a courtroom. (As we will
see, however, the expected procedure is not that which will be followed.)
The law's on your side. Even underage
wizards are allowed to use magic in life-threatening situations.
Something very cold trickled down
the back of Harry's neck; for a moment he thought someone was putting a
Disillusionment Charm on him again...
another four...and another two...
Every few seconds a witch or wizard would emerge from one of the left-hand
fireplaces with a soft whoosh; on the right-hand side, short
queues of wizards were forming before each fireplace, waiting to depart.
Visitor to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and
present your wand for registration at the security desk, which is
located at the far end of the Atrium.
All proceeds from the Fountain of Magical Brethren
will be given to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
If I'm not expelled from Hogwarts, I'll put in ten Galleons,
Harry found himself thinking desperately.
A badly shaven wizard in peacock-blue robes looked up...
It would be quite interesting, given later events, to know if this wizard
has just begun his working day, or if he's on the night shift and is just
about to go off duty. His poorly-shaven appearance might be due to either.
From the timing of Perkins' announcement later on, it is very near eight
o'clock when Arthur and Harry pass through security, probably just before
the hour since the journey from the Atrium to Arthur's office takes a little
time. If the wizarding shift system resembles that in the
Muggle world, Eric is probably the
night-shift watchwizard, and will go off-duty when his relief shows up.
The wizard held up a long, golden rod, thin and flexible as a car aerial,
and passed it up and down Harry's front and back.
Harry produced his wand. The wizard
dropped it onto a strange brass instrument, which looked something like
a set of scales with only one dish. It began to vibrate. A narrow strip
of parchment came speeding out of a slit in the base.
Thank you, Eric.
We thought it was a bog-standard chicken until it started breathing fire.
Looks like a serious breach of the Ban on Experimental Breeding to me.
The Ban is also mentioned in FB, as a number
of the more exotic entries therein are living proof of why the Ban was
written into law in the first place (forbidding the creation of new species
of magical creatures).
I'd be interested to know why Draco Malfoy doesn't seem to have tried
to take the easy way out of Blast-Ended Skrewt lessons, when he could have
just written to ask Lucius (or his mother, for that matter) to report Hagrid
to the Department for a possible violation of the Ban. He shouldn't have
needed Rita Skeeter's interest to prod him into getting a clue...
The phrase 'bog-standard' is an odd one, one which appeared in British
vernacular in the 1980s seemingly out of nowhere. It means 'common and
ordinary." No one is really sure where the phrase came from.
Level seven, Department of Magical
Games and Sports, incorporating the British and Irish Quidditch League
Headquarters, Official Gobstones Club, and Ludicrous Patents Office.
Level six, Department of Magical Transport,
incorporating the Floo Network Authority...
From Remus' remarks earlier (OP3) and from
later events, the Floo Network Authority has the ability to monitor the
network, and can eavesdrop on conversations therein, much as
Muggle telephones can be wiretapped.
...Broom Regulatory Control...
Since Portkeys (according to Arthur Weasley in
GF6) are often made from items
that look like rubbish, and since there are restrictions on enchanting
Muggle objects for fear of their falling back into Muggle hands at some
future date, it seems reasonable that objects enchanted to function as
Portkeys should be kept track of.
...and Apparition Test Center.
...several paper airplanes swooped into the lift...
they were a pale violet color and he could see MINISTRY OF MAGIC
stamped along the edges of their wings.
"Just Interdepartmental memos."
Level five, Department of International Magical Cooperation,
incorporating the International Magical Trading Standards Body...
...the International Magical Office of Law...
...and the International Confederation of Wizards, British Seats.
Level four, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures...
...incorporating Beast, Being, and Spirit Divisions...
...Goblin Liason Office...
...and Pest Advisory Bureau.
providing assistance with serious Bundimun infestations of wizarding
dealing with serious infestations of Chizpurfles
the Ghoul Task Force (possibly)
maintaining a pack of a dozen albino bloodhounds, to deal with Nogtails
Level three, Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes...
...the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad...
...and Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee.
Level two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement...
...including the Improper Use of Magic Office...
...and Wizengamot Administration Services.
Those are enchanted windows; Magical
Maintenance decide what weather we're getting every day.
We had two months of hurricanes last time they were angling for a pay rise...
"A regurgitating toilet?"
I've just sent an owl to your home but you've obviously missed it -
...an urgent message came ten minutes ago -
It's the Potter boy's hearing - they've changed the time and venue -
- it starts at eight o'clock now and it's down in old Courtroom Ten -
If you'd missed it it would have been catastrophic!
The wizarding world, on the other hand,
does not seem to operate this way.
"Aren't - aren't you coming with -?"
"No, no, I'm not allowed."
Characters introduced in this chapter:
(previously mentioned in CS3 and
(no surname given) Bob
(unnamed) witch, an Auror with an eyepatch
(unnamed) witch, plump, carrying a smoking goblet
(unnamed) wizard, an Auror with a ponytail longer than Bill Weasley's
Characters returning in this chapter:
(present but asleep behind her curtains)
Black, Phineas Nigellus
(present but neither named nor visible)
(attended the Quidditch World Cup)
Weasley, Molly Prewett
Characters mentioned in this chapter:
Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:
Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:
Exceptional character moments:
In Tonks' opinion, Amelia Bones is fair and can be expected to give
Harry a chance to present
Molly, fussing over
Harry's breakfast, clothes, and
hair before he leaves for the hearing.
Remus, seeking to reassure
Harry through cool logic by
reminding him that he has a right to use magic in self-defence.
Sirius, seeking to reassure
Harry by promising to go after
Amelia Bones if she doesn't acquit him.
Arthur, throughout, looking after
Harry as though he were one of his
own young sons in trouble.
Arthur's erratic grasp of the
correct words for describing Muggle concepts (ironic, given his job). He
corrects Kingley's use of "firelegs" when Kingsley meant
"firearms", but he himself later used "pumbles" to refer
to "plumbers" in conversation with
Arthur's and Kingsley's little
charade about how Arthur just
doesn't seem to be assisting the hunt for
Sirius Black properly, and how
Kingsley isn't reading Arthur's
reports carefully enough.
Links and Resources:
The action of this chapter takes place on Thursday, 12 August
We know that it was a Thursday because the previous evening was said to
have been a Wednesday (OP6).