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I've been re-reading this passage from the Half Blood Prince, and I'm just not too sure what Dumbledore did to get Mrs Cole to let her guard down around him, and am quite confused as to what Dumbledore did in general.

Apparently Dumbledore thought so too, for Harry now saw him slip his wand out of the pocket of his velvet suit, at the same time picking up a piece of perfectly blank paper from Mrs. Cole's desktop. "Here," said Dumbledore, waving his wand once as he passed her the piece of paper, "I think this will make everything clear." Mrs. Cole's eyes slid out of focus and back again as she gazed intently at the blank paper for a moment.

But what was on the paper, if anything? Alternatively, did Mrs Cole just accept magic happened in front of her but not make a big deal out of it? Or did he discreetly cast a spell on her as her eyes slid in and out of focus?

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    "i'm just not too sure what Dumbledore did" - Magic. – Rand al'Thor Apr 14 '16 at 15:37
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    @Randal'Thor but did he bewitch the paper, or did he bewitch her? It bugs me because I don't know what spell he could have used, maybe confunding or did he fill in the paper. – user3564421 Apr 14 '16 at 15:45
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    The implication is that he confounded/confused her with the wave of his wand, so that she saw whatever she needed to see on the blank paper. – DavidS Apr 14 '16 at 15:46
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    To elaborate on the psychic paper from Doctor Who, its mechanism is that the paper stays entirely blank, but the viewer sees whatever they will find most reassuring and comprehensible (usually, credentials explaining the Doctor as some kind of known and authorised visitor). But the Doctor doesn’t directly choose what the viewer sees — he usually doesn’t even know, and this is often exploited for comic purposes. The scene with Dumbledore seems consistent with a magical version of the same effect; so it’s quite conceivable that no-one besides Mrs Cole knows what she read on that paper. – PLL Apr 15 '16 at 12:47
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The paper was entirely blank. From the very quote that you gave:

Apparently Dumbledore thought so too, for Harry now saw him slip his wand out of the pocket of his velvet suit, at the same time picking up a piece of perfectly blank paper [emphasis mine] from Mrs. Cole's desktop.

and

Mrs. Cole's eyes slid out of focus and back again as she gazed intently at the blank paper [emphasis mine] for a moment.

He almost certainly used the Confundus Charm on her, since the Imperius Curse is Unforgivable, and this seems consistent with the effects of Confundo seen elsewhere, which make the target highly suggestible:

“But you’ve just done that!” said Hermione in Bellatrix’s commanding, arrogant voice. Travers looked around, eyebrows raised. The guard was confused. He stared down at the thin golden Probe and then at his companion, who said in a slightly dazed voice,

“Yeah, you’ve just checked them, Marius.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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    The focus is also mentioned in The Prince’s tale near the end of Deathly Hallows: ‘(…) Try Confunding Mundungus Fletcher. (…)’ Now Snape was head to head with Mundungus in an unfamiliar tavern, Mundungus’s face looking curiously blank, Snape frowning in concentration. (…) ‘I understand,’ murmured Mundungus, his eyes unfocused … – chirlu Apr 14 '16 at 17:40
  • You sort of made it seem like the OP didn't know the paper was blank (it's in the title). I interpreted him as asking 'what could only Mrs Cole see?' – Insane Apr 16 '16 at 13:38
  • @Insane i thought it was blank xD and dumbledore magicked something onto it, but we didn't know what it was. but guess it was always blank and she was just confunded – user3564421 Apr 18 '16 at 7:32
  • Yeah, she was Confunded and imagined that she saw something. – Adamant Apr 18 '16 at 7:33
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My personal interpretation is there never was anything on the paper. It was merely a prop he used to take her attention off him, and also to give the appearance everything was normal for any possible observers, so that he could cast a spell on her unnoticed to make her compliant, such as confundus. Her eyes sliding in and out of focus were the only visible effects of whatever spell he had cast.

  • Also helps with the setup where a confounded person would "wake up" to themselves holding a blank piece of paper.. and thus likely to go along with the situation in order to avoid making themselves look like a fool (assuming they forgot being given the paper a few seconds ago due to the charm) – user2813274 Apr 15 '16 at 12:04

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