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The Flaw in the Plan

- Chapter 36

"He is dead!"
-- Narcissa Malfoy

DH36: The Flaw in the Plan

Both Harry and Lord Voldemort regain consciousness in the Forbidden Forest. Harry pretends to be dead. Narcissa Malfoy is ordered to check on Harry. She sees that he is alive, but quietly asks him if Draco is alive. Harry tells her that her son is indeed alive, and she tells Voldemort that Harry is dead. Hagrid is forced to carry Harry’s body up to the castle, where Voldemort displays him to the defenders of the castle in an attempt to break their will to resist. Neville Longbottom confronts Voldemort, and refuses to join him. Voldemort hits him with a Body-Binding jinx and puts the Sorting Hat on his head. Voldemort declares there will be no more Sorting at Hogwarts and set the Hat on fire. Neville pulls Gryffindor’s sword out of the Hat and kills Nagini when Voldemort is distracted by the arrival of the centaurs. The battle resumes, and Voldemort is finally defeated by Harry.

Calendar and Dates

Still in the small hours of the same morning as the previous chapter.

Interesting facts and notes

'You see?' screeched Voldemort. 'Harry Potter is dead by my hand, and no man alive can threaten me now! Watch! Crucio!'

More shades of the Stone Table sequence in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, except that Voldemort had enough sense to wait until after his enemy was safely dead (supposedly) to make showy gestures like this.

what sounded like hundreds of people came swarming over the out-of-sight walls and pelted toward the castle, uttering loud war-cries.

And as long as I'm on the subject of scenes that remind me of other scenes from some of JKR's favourite books, this reminds me of the arrival of the eagles at the Battle of Five Armies in The Hobbit - an army of unexpected help arriving at the last moment in a desperate battle.

'Snape's Patronus was a doe,' said Harry, 'the same as my mother's

I'm willing to take Harry's word for it that Lily's Patronus was a doe, and it certainly fits with what we saw earlier in the Pensieve (i.e., Snape conjuring his own Patronus to make the point that what he did was done for Lily's sake), but I don't recall that it was previously stated outright that Lily's Patronus was a doe.

try for some remorse, Riddle...

As Hermione learned from Secrets of the Darkest Art (DH6), this is what would be necessary for Riddle to put his soul back together again.

Exceptional character moments

Molly Weasley's duel with Bellatrix. Bellatrix is too arrogant to take Molly seriously.

Tom Riddle, who doesn't understand love well enough to avoid making mistakes in handling the Malfoys and Snape, let alone to understand Harry or Albus Dumbledore.

Harry asking Voldemort to have some remorse.

Harry giving up the Elder Wand.

Memorable lines

Hands, softer than he had been expecting, touched Harry's face, pulled back an eyelid, crept beneath his shirt, down to his chest and felt his heart.

Still feigning death on the ground, he understood. Narcissa knew that the only way she would be permitted to enter Hogwarts, and find her son, was as part of the conquering army. She no longer cared whether Voldemort won.

"Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?"

"'NO!' The scream was the more terrible because he had never expected or dreamed that Professor McGonagall could make such a sound."

"'You show spirit, and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.' 'I'll join you when hell freezes over,' said Neville."


"'You - will - never - touch - our - children - again!' screamed Mrs Weasley."

"'No, he was cleverer than you,' said Harry, 'a better wizard, a better man.'"

"'Severus Snape wasn't yours,' said Harry. 'Snape was Dumbledore's, Dumbledore's from the moment you started hunting down my mother."

"You're right. But before you try to kill me, I'd advise you to think about what you've done... think, and try for some remorse, Riddle..."

"'So it all comes down to this, doesn't it?' whispered Harry. 'Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does... I am the true master of the Elder Wand.'"

"Oooh, look, a Blibbering Humdinger!"

"Really gives a feeling for the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn't it?"

"But Harry had eyes only for the man who stood in the largest portrait directly behind the Headmaster's chair. Tears were sliding down from behind the half-moon spectacles into the long silver beard, and the pride and the gratitude emanating from him filled Harry with the same balm as phoenix song."

"A wise and courageous decision, but no less than I would have expected of you."

"Quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."

Words and phrases

DH 36 — The Flaw in the Plan
Abbreviation DH36: The Flaw in the Plan
Canonicity Primary Canon


Narcissa's lie to Voldemort is, I believe, one of the most surprising and one of the greatest moments in the series. She is a pure-blood witch. She, along with her husband, her sister Bellatrix and her son, had chosen to join Voldemort. But Narcissa has now seen what a world ruled by Voldemort could be like. The Malfoys did not gain anything from the rise of Voldemort because of Lucius's mistakes. Narcissa became at risk of losing what she cared for most, her son. When she tells Voldemort that Harry is dead, Harry believes it is because she no long cares who wins. I'm not sure if this is true. I think she has decided that she does not want Voldemort to win. Voldemort attempted to have Draco killed. Draco had been tortured and abused by him. True, Narcissa knows she can only go back to the castle as part of the victory parade, as it were. But she must also have realized that by allowing Harry to live, she was choosing a side. If Narcissa had told Voldemort that Harry was still alive, Voldemort may have succeeded in killing him. Harry at that point was basically alone with dozens of Death Eater surrounding him. Even Harry couldn't have escape death then. With Harry truly dead, Narcissa would have join the very real triumphant party carrying the body of Harry. Narcissa chose to keep Harry alive and by doing so, she chose to fight against Voldemort. She joins the lists of brave mothers, Lily, Molly, Andromeda, and Nymphadora, whose loves for their children drives them to fight and overcome evil. --C.M.

Related images:

Neville slays Nagini Molly Weasley killing Bellatrix Lestrange.    

Pensieve (Comments)

Tags: bravery chaos choices clever cloaks death deaths despair gratitude grief heroes love motherly love mourning murder Narcissa Remembrall noble peace pride protection remorse spirit stag stone wandlore wands wisdom

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The Harry Potter Canon