Why expose an entire squadron of witches and wizards on what was apparently a very dangerous mission flying across the British countryside ...?
In Chapter 3 of Order of the Phoenix, when Harry is being rescued by the Advance Guard, Rowling writes:
‘How’re we getting – wherever we’re going?’ Harry asked.
‘Brooms,’ said Lupin. ‘Only way. You’re too young to Apparate, they’ll be watching the Floo Network and it’s more than our life’s worth to set up an unauthorised Portkey.’
‘Remus says you’re a good flier,’ said Kingsley Shacklebolt in his deep voice.
Harry is a good flyer, that’s true. But canon does present us with a better option for moving one single underage wizard between rural Surrey and a square near King’s Cross in London: Side-Along Apparition. After all, that’s what Dumbledore uses in book six. Why expose an entire squadron of witches and wizards on what was apparently a very dangerous mission flying across the British countryside and Greater London when just one person could have whisked Harry away? If they would have used Side-Along Apparition, the Dursleys wouldn’t even have to be lured away. It could have been “Apparate into Harry’s bedroom, grab Harry, and Apparate out.”
The reason, of course, is that Rowling simply hadn’t invented Side-Along Apparition yet. She did so when she was writing the next book and she needed to find a way for Harry and Dumbledore to travel around Devon in the middle of the night. I guess the image of Harry and Dumbledore riding off to visit Slughorn on brooms didn’t have the right, well, gravitas or something.
Now in Book seven, Harry leaves Little Whinging one last time. And at this point, Rowling HAD invented Side-Along Apparition, so she had to make sure she eliminated that possibility. So we learn that the Ministry has made it illegal to Apparate in or out of Privet Drive. That makes it necessary for Moody’s grand decoy plan to be put into action, and personally, I’m glad it was, if for no other reason than that scene was an absolute delight to watch it in the film.
More than anything, it’s always interesting to notice as we read the books those passages where we see the author’s creative process at work.
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