The cabinets allowed objects placed in one cabinet to appear in the other. The passage was successfully used to transport several Death Eaters from Borgin and Burkes into Hogwarts School, hence commencing the Battle of the Astronomy Tower.
The Vanishing Cabinet was obviously not known for the danger it represented, as neither the headmaster nor the caretaker removed it from the premises. Though they knew it was a Vanishing Cabinet, no one seemed to know it was linked to a second cabinet in the shop of Borgin and Burkes.
1992-1993 school year
When Harry accidentally arrived to Borgin and Burkes via Floo Powder, he hid inside the Cabinet without fully closing the door, to avoid Borgin, Lucius, and Draco Malfoy. Draco nearly opened the door but was beckoned to leave with his father before that could be accomplished.
1995-1996 school year
In 1996, Fred and George Weasley shoved Graham Montague headfirst into the Cabinet on the first floor of Hogwarts when he tried to take points away from them. Montague eventually escaped (by Apparating) and was found in a toilet's u-bend by Draco Malfoy, who summoned Professor Snape for help. Montague nearly died in his escape attempt, and revealed the previously unknown powers of the Cabinets to Draco.
1996-1997 school year
- Dumbledore: " [...] so tell me, while we wait for your friends... how did you smuggle them in here? It seems it has taken you a long time to work out how to do it."
- Draco: "I had to mend that broken Vanishing Cabinet that no one's used for years. The one Montague got lost in last year."
- Dumbledore: "Aaaah. That was clever... there is a pair, I take it?"
- Draco: "The other's in Borgin and Burkes and they make a kind of passage between them."
- — Draco talking to Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower[src]
Draco used what he learned about the Cabinet's powers to his advantage. When Lord Voldemort commanded Draco to assassinate Albus Dumbledore, Draco decided to use the Cabinets to allow Death Eaters into the castle to assist him. The Hogwarts Vanishing Cabinet was later moved to the Room of Requirement, where Draco would spend the entire school year in repairing, after coaxing Borgin with death threats for instructions and assistance; he also ordered Borgin not to sell the counterpart Cabinet in store, and just keep it safe.
Repairing it seems to be very difficult and taxing on Draco's behalf, as he became increasingly neglectful in his schoolwork, duties, and activities, with him even losing confidence in success from time to time in that he attempted other crude methods of assassination that failed. Working off of Borgin's instructions instead of allowing the proprietor see the damage first hand also hampered the progress, as Borgin mentioned earlier. However, he eventually succeeds in 1997, and allowed a group of Death Eaters — Alecto and Amycus Carrow, Corban Yaxley, Thorfinn Rowle, Gibbon, and Fenrir Greyback — to enter Hogwarts from the Borgin & Burkes Vanishing Cabinet, in order to accomplish his mission. The fact that the cabinets were able to grant the Death Eaters entrance into the castle despite the otherwise impenetrable defences horrified the wizarding world at large, as this meant that there is no longer anywhere safe from Voldemort.
1997-1998 school year
During this school year, it is unlikely that the Death Eaters used the pair of cabinets to enter the school because it was already under their control. During the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998, when Vincent Crabbe released Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement, it was likely the Vanishing Cabinet was destroyed, along with many other artefacts hidden there.
The two objects are large black cabinets, though the one in Hogwarts is described as being both black and gold. The cabinets are described as very valuable.
As an Entryway to Hogwarts
One of the things that is stressed over and over is that Hogwarts is "unplottable", that it cannot be put on a map, and that wizards and witches cannot apparate to or within it. Additionally, both in Harry's third and sixth year it is mentioned that there are spells preventing entrance via any means save the gates, which are guarded by Dementors in Harry's third year, and by locks that can be opened only by professors in his sixth. Much of the action in Harry's third year involves the secret ways in and out of the castle, and many got the impression that all such passageways are known and have been given added protection since.
The Vanishing Cabinets are a way around this protection that has not as yet been guarded against. Another aspect is that one can apparate while inside, disregarding of any protective spells of the area, as Graham Montague managed to escape the limbo of the two Cabinets via apparation and back into Hogwarts.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Draco tested the progress of repairing the broken Cabinet, he placed an apple and later a bird into it; both times, the Cabinet was not fully repaired, when the said object was sent to the Cabinet at Borgin and Burkes and back, the apple was missing a moderate chunk, while the bird died. Also, he required the incantation/password, Harmonia Nectere Passus, to activate the Cabinet's powers.
- In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book, the Hogwarts Vanishing Cabinet is described as being large and coloured black-and-gold.
- The Vanishing Cabinet is replaced by a Crushing Cabinet in the film and video game adaptations of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as the Borgin and Burkes cabinet had yet to be identified as a Vanishing Cabinet at that time.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only) (First identified as Hogwarts-Borgin and Burkes Vanishing Cabinet pair)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s))
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7