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Dolores Umbridge: "What Cornelius doesn't know won't hurt him. He never knew I ordered dementors after Potter last summer, but he was delighted to be given the chance to expel him, all the same...."
Harry Potter: "It was you! You sent the Dementors after me?"
Dolores Umbridge: "Somebody had to act. They were all bleating about silencing you somehow — discrediting you — but I was the one who actually did something about it.... Only you wriggled out of that one, didn't you, Potter?"
Dolores Umbridge admitting to having ordered the attack[src]

This attack in Little Whinging occurred on 2 August, 1995 after the Ministry of Magic insisted that the Return of the Dark Lord never occurred, during the summer of 1995.[2] Wanting to discredit Harry Potter, Madam Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge ordered two Azkaban Dementors to Little Whinging in order to silence him.[3] Harry managed to drive the Azkaban guards away with a corporeal Patronus,[2] thus saving himself and his cousin, but was punished by the Ministry regardless.[1]


"You-Know-Who... returned? Preposterous."
Cornelius Fudge's disbelief[src]

On 24 June, 1995, while participating in the third task of the Triwizard Tournament, Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory were transported to the Little Hangleton graveyard via Portkey. Upon landing, the pair drew wands in the face of this new development. Within seconds, Diggory was dead as Lord Voldemort had ordered his servant Wormtail to "kill the spare." Immediately following, Harry was restrained against Tom Riddle Snr's grave while Wormtail used an ancient dark potion to revive his master. With this, Lord Voldemort had returned.[4] He summoned his old followers to the graveyard, where they marvelled at their master's return. Lord Voldemort proceeded to scold each in turn, naming many without fear of these names becoming public as he was certain that Harry would not be alive after that evening.[5]

Harry and Voldemort duelling

In an attempt to prove to his Death Eaters and the greater wizarding world that Harry Potter was not his downfall, Voldemort brashly returned Harry's wand. He then ordered Harry to duel with him. After initially refusing to play along with Voldemort's game, Harry consented and sent a Disarming Charm at Voldemort who simultaneously fired a Killing Curse. The two spells connected, causing a Priori Incantatem effect to occur between the wands of Harry and Voldemort, which few knew were brothers. Harry won the battle of wills and recalled ghastly figures of Voldemort's most recent victims from Voldemort's wand. When told to do so, Harry broke the connection and returned to Hogwarts with the Triwizard Cup and Cedric Diggory's body.[6]

Immediately upon landing, Harry began to tell anyone who would listen that Lord Voldemort had returned. As he was gripping the dead body of a classmate, no one was really paying attention. He was shuffled off to Alastor Moody's office by the impostor Moody, where he was questioned eagerly about the evening's events. Just as Crouch was about to finish his master's work by murdering Harry, Dumbledore burst into the room stunning him. As they watched, the Polyjuice Potion Crouch was using to impersonate Moody wore off. Under the influence of Veritaserum, Crouch gave a lengthy and full confession of the events of the previous year and his role in them.[7] Dumbledore then took Harry back to his office, where Harry gave a full account of what happened in the graveyard. Putting the two stories together, Dumbledore decided that there was irrefutable evidence that Lord Voldemort had returned.[8]

Snape shows the Minister his active Dark Mark

Later that evening, Dumbledore told Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge of what everything that had occurred. The Minister would not believe it and refused to listen to reason. He first questioned the validity of Barty Crouch's testimony pointing out that Crouch was insane. Then he began to make pointed asides to the mental capacity of Harry having read Rita Skeeter's article concerning him in the Daily Prophet. He asked if Harry's account could be trusted to which Harry took exception. Even after being shown Severus Snape's Dark Mark, the Minister in his paranoia refused to concede that Voldemort's return was even possible and took exception to Dumbledore's suggestions on the best way to combat the threat Voldemort presented.[8] Since Fudge, and therefore the Ministry of Magic, refused to believe that Lord Voldemort had returned to power, they began a campaign of misinformation and propaganda to discredit Harry and Dumbledore.[9]

The Daily Prophet against Dumbledore

The Ministry began taking direct actions against Dumbledore. They removed him from the Wizengamot, and he was replaced as Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards.[9] The Daily Prophet portrayed him as alternately a senile old man or a traitorous scoundrel running such headlines as "Dumbledore: Daft or Dangerous?" and many others.[10]

On the other hand, the only way to get at Harry was through the press. The Prophet set out to make Harry unbelievable. In the paper, he was portrayed as a lying, attention seeking, thrill-junkie with a death wish who loved being famous, and would do anything to gain more attention. According to Dolores Umbridge, many in the Ministry were talking about silencing Harry, but none acted.[3] She decided to take it upon herself to silence and discredit Harry once and for all, thus sending two Dementors after him in August.[3]


"'Don't kill Cedric!' Who's Cedric — your boyfriend?"
— Dudley Dursley[src]

Soon after the events of 24 June, Harry returned to the Dursley family's home at 4 Privet Drive for summer vacation. He began having dreams about that night often exclaiming in his sleep and began roaming the streets of Little Whinging in an effort to remove himself from the Dursleys' presence. He soon began to feel isolated and alienated from everything as he was getting little news from his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, who he thought seemed to be together without him. As a vent for his frustrations, he took to teasing his cousin Dudley Dursley and vaguely threatening him with magic.[2]

Dudley and his gang

On the hottest day of the year, 2 August, Harry had spent the day out of 4 Privet Drive roaming the streets per usual. That evening he camped out in his Aunt Petunia's flower bed listening to the television for the slightest bit of news about Lord Voldemort. He heard someone Disapparate, and pulled his wand out, standing up to find the source of the noise. His aunt and uncle soon shooed him away, and Harry went to a park in Magnolia Crescent, along the way Harry began thinking that maybe he was just so desperate to feel connected to the wizarding world that he read too much into the cracking noise.[2]

These thoughts were followed by ones of his alienation. He was roused from his reverie when he overheard Dudley and his gang after beating up a ten year old. Harry was tempted to pick a fight with Dudley, but he decided to heed Sirius Black's advice and kept his nose clean. Harry pointedly thought Sirius himself would not have taken the same course of action. When his friends left, Dudley met up with Harry, and they began walking home. After Harry began teasing Dudley, the latter began to provoke Harry about his nighttime moaning. Realising that he must be talking in his sleep, Harry became increasingly defensive and soon pointed his wand at Dudley, but did not aim a spell at him.[2]

"But he fell silent. He had heard just the thing he had been dreading. There was something in the alleyway apart from themselves, something that was drawing long, hoarse, rattling breaths. Harry felt a horrible jolt of dread as he stood trembling in the freezing air."
— Harry detecting the Dementor's presence[src]

Harry Potter using a Patronus to drive away the Dementors

While Dudley was shouting for Harry to put his wand away, the night suddenly became dark, cold, and quiet. Recognising the signs, Harry asked Dudley to shut up so he could listen for their approach, but Dudley continued to shout away believing Harry to be causing the darkness and the misery surrounding him. Hearing what he feared, Harry shouted for Dudley to shut up once again, but before he could finish the sentence, Dudley had hit him, knocking Harry to ground and separating him from his wand.[2]

— Harry Potter trying to save Dudley from suffering the Dementor's Kiss[src]

Dudley began to blindly head directly for the Dementor. Harry, on the other hand, was groping around on the ground for his wand. Instinctively, he said, "Lumos," and his wand lit inches from his hand. When he rolled over, he felt the presence of a second Dementor approaching him from behind. He tried to fend it off, but its power was draining Harry. He was consumed by thoughts of Voldemort and of death. As the Dementor took hold of Harry and forced him against the wall, it tried to administer the Kiss that would end him and Dudley, Harry thought of Ron and Hermione. Filled with this happy thought, Harry searched for breath enough to shout the incantation. He produced his stag Patronus and drove the Dementor off him and away from the alley.[2]

"An enormous silver stag erupted from the tip of Harry's wand; its antlers caught the dementor in the place where the heart should have been; it was thrown backward, weightless as darkness, and as the stag charged, the dementor swooped away, batlike and defeated."
— Harry banishing the Dementors with the Patronus Charm[src]

Harry turned to look for Dudley and the other Dementor. After running a few steps, he saw them. Dudley was on the ground with the Dementor atop him. While under the influence of the Dementors, Dudley saw himself for what he really was - a cruel bully. Unable to defend himself, the Dementor was lowering its head and nearly kissed him. Harry summoned the stag which was cantering around behind him and ordered it after the Dementor atop Dudley. With both Dementors gone, the warmth, light, and noise returned to the night.[2]

Ms. Figg after the Attack

Just afterward, Arabella Figg, Harry's cat-loving neighbour arrived at the scene. Harry hurried to hide his wand, but as he was putting it away, she shouted, "Don't put it away, idiot boy," much to the surprise of Harry. She escorted Harry and Dudley back to 4 Privet Drive ranting on about the sneak thief Mundungus Fletcher, who was supposed to be watching over Harry, but had left when he found a good business opportunity to buy stolen cauldrons. The going was slow as Dudley refused to move himself and Harry was left to carry the much larger boy back home. She told Harry that he was being followed and that Dumbledore was afraid that something like this might happen. Harry was incensed at the news he was being followed, but Mrs Figg had no more answers for him and left him with Dudley at their doorstep.[1]


"Dear Mr Potter, We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past nine this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle. The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling on your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand. As you have already received an official warning for a previous offence under section 13 of the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic at 9 A.M. on August 12th. Hoping you are well, Yours sincerely, Malfalda Hopkirk"
— Malfalda Hopkirk[src]

After they entered the house, Harry tried to explain what had happened. Dudley claimed Harry had caused the pain through which he went. He told his parents that Harry had pointed his wand at him. Harry conceded this point but continued to claim innocence. Whilst doing that, the Ministry sent him an owl expelling him from Hogwarts. Harry immediately felt as though his world had fallen apart and was of full mind to leave the Dursleys in order to prevent his wand from being confiscated, going as far as to threaten his Uncle Vernon with magic. Arthur Weasley, then, sent an owl telling him to stay in the house and wait for Albus Dumbledore to sort things out with the Ministry but not to surrender his wand for any reason.

Harry's letter from Mafalda Hopkirk in response to the underage magic he performed

After thinking on his situation for a moment, Harry sat down and began, as calmly as possible, to explain everything to the Dursleys now that they were listening. He explained the owls, but when he began once again to deny hurting Dudley, Dudley spoke up claiming that Harry was responsible. When Dudley could not find the words to express how a Dementor attack feels, Harry supplied them. Vernon jumped on Harry for causing such pain to his son, but when Harry explained what Dementors were, his Aunt Petunia piped up supporting Harry's story, shocking Harry into silence. Another owl arrived with a letter in which Harry's expulsion was withdrawn, instead ordering him to attend a disciplinary hearing on 12 August, for using a Patronus Charm "in the presence of a Muggle," therefore, breaking the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.[1]

Desperate to escape the Dursleys, Harry began to head for the stairs. He was forced to turn around when his Uncle Vernon demanded to know what happened to his son. As Harry was once again telling the story, another owl rocketed into the room. Harry pulled off the letter reading it was from Sirius. Again, it said nothing praising him for fighting them off, but only to stay in the house. This incensed Harry even more, because he felt that they were scolding him for saving a life. After trying to reason out why Dementors would be in Little Whinging, Uncle Vernon told Harry to leave the house believing that Harry was endangering his family, but Dumbledore sent Aunt Petunia a Howler reminding her of the promise she made to take care of her nephew.[1]

"So silly of me but it sounded, for a moment, as though you were suggesting that the Ministry had ordered the attack on this boy."
Dolores Umbridge to Albus Dumbledore, during Harry's trial[src]

Dumbledore at Harry's hearing

On 12 August, Harry's disciplinary hearing took place in old Courtroom Ten in the Ministry of Magic. In an attempt to further discredit Harry, Cornelius Fudge changed both the time and location of Harry's hearing hoping he would miss it. Fudge also changed its format to a full criminal trial in front of the full Wizengamot. Dumbledore's intervention as defence advocate and the testimony of Mrs Figg saved the day for Harry. He was acquitted on all charges and allowed to return to Hogwarts, but when Dumbledore left without having said a single word to Harry throughout the proceedings, this did nothing to alleviate Harry's feelings of alienation and anger which would haunt him the entire 1995–1996 school year.[11]

Behind the scenes


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 2 (A Peck of Owls)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 1 (Dudley Demented)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 32 (Out of the Fire)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)
  6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)
  7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)
  10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) - Chapter 5 (The Ministry of Magic)
  11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 8 (The Hearing)