(HBP, ch.30)

"I'm going back to the Dursleys' once more, because Dumbledore wanted me to," said Harry. "But it'll be a short visit, and then I'll be gone for good."

Dumbledore wanted him to go back to the Dursleys' to keep the protection going between years*, but the protection was going to be gone in a couple weeks anyway, after which they'd have to go to great lengths to extract him safely as or before the protection broke (OK, the original plan wasn't quite so involved or dangerous). It seems like an awful lot of trouble for the extra week or two, which, unlike other years, would not have a lasting effect (keeping the protection going til the next year). Why not just keep him safe at the Weasleys' or another OotP hangout for the extra fortnight and save the trouble?

*: I'm not quite sure why Dumbledore wanted that anyway, it seems self-perpetuating to me. But that's another question.

  • 3
    I've always wondered this too! I just supposed the answer was that JKR wanted an excuse to write a thrilling broom chase sequence.
    – Dason
    Feb 12, 2012 at 6:39

3 Answers 3


Death Eaters could have, presumably, Traced Harry before he turned 17 since Thicknesse was already in their control all summer. So OotP would have the SAME problem (as far as getting him safely to a secure location) as they did when they got him on 17th birthday earlier that summer.

So their choice was:

  • Move Harry right away.

    Pros: Less time for DEs to prepare. But as noted, they didn't realize just HOW prepared DEs will be

    Cons: Less time to magically safeguard Burrow and any mid-points, and prevent escape. E.g., based on how few times they are used, making Portkeys doesn't seem a terribly frequent and easy thing to do.

    Additionally, ANY travel and moving Harry was risking him doing some magic, and that would have activated the Trace.

  • Move Harry when they did

    Cons: DEs had more time to prepare. But remember that OotP didn't anticipate just how much they would be prepared.

    Pros: OotP had more time to prepare the safehouses etc... Remember - this was JUST after they lost Dumbledore, AND Voldemort was exerting his power, Sirius' house was no longer safe, so they were stretched pretty thin.

  • 1
    They actually moved him at least 4 days before his birthday (night of the 26/27 if JKR consulted a calendar, or possibly a week before). And Thicknesse wasn't under their control until less than a week before they moved him. (Ch.6&1, respectively)
    – Kevin
    Feb 12, 2012 at 14:30

Apart from the obvious broom-chase sequence (and the necessity of having a confrontation for the wand to do it's golden non-intentional magic) there seem to be two places that are sufficiently safe for Harry to stay for longer periods:

the castle of Hogwarts and the house where his mother's bloodline continues to dwell, the Dursley residence. (Hogwarts due to ancient magic, Dursley's due to his mother's sacrifice)

Anything else could possibly be scouted or infiltrated by ministry officials or even Deatheaters, since protective charms (as demonstrated by the "taboo" later in book 7), however well-performed, can be broken. Since that had to be obvious to Dumbledore, his suggestion of Harry living with the Dursleys seems to be spot on.


I'm not 100% sure where it states in the book, but the extra magical protection that Dumbledore had put in place over the Dursley's house would work until Harry was 17. I think this is explained by Dumbledore to the Dursley's when he visits. (I don't have a copy of the books to hand at present).

Therefore as long as Harry could call No. 4 Privet Drive 'Home' he had the protection that Dumbledore had put in place.

In the 7th book, when Harry and the Dursleys' left Privet Drive, it was no longer 'home' to Harry and therefore did not provide the protection, hence them leaving at the same time.

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