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In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a bunch of the Order of the Phoenix members show up to escort Harry to the Burrow. The rationale behind this was that they couldn't use the Floo Network, they couldn't Apparate, they couldn't use a Portkey, and Harry still had the Trace on him. Thus, they were all going to fly away, and have six decoys plus the real Harry Potter.

What I don't get is this: Why didn't Harry just put on his Invisibility Cloak and walk out of range of the charm, and then Apparate away? He's largely undetectable under the cloak, and as long as he were to get out of range of the Floo/Apparition restrictions, he could've met up with a couple of Disillusioned or invisible Order members and been on his merry way. Why didn't he?

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    That plan does seem kind of odd in retrospect. Assuming something prevented the invisibility cloak from being a viable option, why not just put Harry on the motorcycle with Hagrid and have the 12 mages fly a defensive grid around him? – Xantec Apr 2 '12 at 20:02
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    @Xantec the answer to that is they didn't want to expose which safe-house they were fleeing to, so they wanted to lay some false trails. From HP7: "Maybe they won't know which of the twelve secure houses I'm heading for at first, but won't it be sort of obvious once fourteen of us fly off toward Tonks's parents'?" – Dave DeLong Apr 2 '12 at 20:07
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    They needed seven Potters because they didn't have enough people for eight Potters. – Tango Apr 2 '12 at 22:40
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    Worth pointing out that (as Tom Riddle says) "7 is the most powerful magical number." It's a nice parallel, that - splitting Harry into seven Harrys, just as Voldemort wanted to split his soul into seven pieces. – Jeff Apr 3 '12 at 13:42
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    @Jeff whoa that's brilliant. But technically shouldn't there have been an eighth Potter? ;) – Dave DeLong Apr 3 '12 at 15:02
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Deathly Hallows indicates that the Seven Potters wasn't the first plan to escort Harry away from No. 4 Privet Drive.

[...]Hagrid said, “All righ’, Harry? Ready fer the off?”

“Definitely,” said Harry, beaming around at them all. “But I wasn’t expecting this many of you!”

“Change of plan,” growled Mad-Eye [...]

Deathly Hallows - page 45 - US Hardcover

The Seven Potters was Dumbledore's plan. He told Snape the true date that Harry would be moved from Privet Drive, so that Snape could pass the information along to Voldemort. The goal was to keep Snape's cover intact, Harry safe, and Hogwarts out of the control of the Death Eaters (the Carrows), and Dumbledore condoned this. He instructed Snape to Confund Mundungus Fletcher and feed the idea of the Seven Potter to Dung, and to plant the idea of Dung suggesting the Seven Potters plan to the Order of the Phoenix.

You will have to give Voldemort the correct date of Harry’s departure from his aunt and uncle’s,” said Dumbledore. “Not to do so will raise suspicion, when Voldemort believes you so well informed. However, you must plant the idea of decoys; that, I think, ought to ensure Harry’s safety. Try Confunding Mundungus Fletcher. And Severus, if you are forced to take part in the chase, be sure to act your part convincingly. . . . I am counting upon you to remain in Lord Voldemort’s good books as long as possible, or Hogwarts will be left to the mercy of the Carrows. . . .”

Now Snape was head to head with Mundungus in an unfamiliar tavern, Mundungus’s face looking curiously blank, Snape frowning in concentration.

“You will suggest to the Order of the Phoenix,” Snape murmured, “that they use decoys. Polyjuice Potion. Identical Potters. It is the only thing that might work. You will forget that I have suggested this. You will present it as your own idea. You understand?”

“I understand,” murmured Mundungus, his eyes unfocused. . . .

Deathly Hallows - page 688 - US Hardcover

Edited to Add: Harry was sixteen on the day the Order moved him to the Burrow. Apparition requires a wand. If Harry had Apparated without a license, using his wand, he would have tripped the Trace because he was under the age of seventeen. Remember, Harry turns seventeen while at the Burrow. The decision to take Harry from Privet Drive before he was seventeen was a risk, because the moment Harry left the Dursleys' home without the intention of ever returning or considering it home, Lily's protective enchantments broke.

The Homenum Revelio spell could have revealed Harry's presence to the Death Eaters, if they had formed a perimeter around Privet Drive to monitor Harry's movements, even if he were under an Invisibility Cloak and that would have left Harry quite vulnerable.

Invisibility Cloaks are not, generally, infallible. They may rip or grow opaque with age, or the charms placed upon them may wear off, or be countered by charms of revealment. This is why witches and wizards usually turn, in the first instance, the Disillusionment Charms for self-camouflage or concealment.

Tales of Beedle the Bard - page 163 - US Collector's Edition

Why didn't the Order use Disillusionment Charms to get Harry out of Privet Drive and to the Burrow? I don't recall any instance in canon (and correct me if I'm wrong!) where Harry casts a Disillusionment Charm on himself. However, in Order of the Phoenix, Moody places a Disillusionment Charm on Harry in the chapter The Advance Guard, so it's unclear why they could not have employed this on top of or in lieu of the Seven Potters. According to Moody, Harry's Invisibility Cloak would have come off during the flight if he rode a broom while wearing the cloak.

‘Disillusionment Charm,’ said Moody, raising his wand. ‘Lupin says you’ve got an Invisibility Cloak, but it won’t stay on while we’re flying; this’ll disguise you better. Here you go –’

Order of the Phoenix - page 53 - British Hardcover

The Disillusionment Charm does not create invisibility (except for Dumbledore; see Tales of Beedle the Bard, page 163) but rather allows a witch or wizard to blend in with his/her surroundings, like a chameleon:

Harry looked down at his body, or rather, what had been his body, for it didn’t look anything like his any more. It was not invisible; it had simply taken on the exact colour and texture of the kitchen unit behind him. He seemed to have become a human chameleon.

Order of the Phoenix - page 54 - British Hardcover

I suppose I would ask Why not a Disillusionment Charm, rather than the Invisibility Cloak? Further, we don't know exactly when the Taboo was placed on Voldemort's name. Harry, not afraid to say 'Voldemort,' might have uttered the word at the wrong place and time, which would have led the Death Eaters right to him, cloak or no cloak. The breaking of Lily's enchantment was a big vulnerability for Harry.

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    Great points, but the following is irrelevant: "They may rip or grow opaque with age, or the charms placed upon them may wear off". This only applies to "usual" invisibility cloaks, not to Harry's. – Hendrik Vogt Apr 3 '12 at 10:21
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    @HendrikVogt -- I'm not sure that's exactly so. JKR writes: True Invisibility Cloaks, though rare, exist in this world of ours; however, the story makes it clear that Death's Cloak is of a uniquely durable nature. Through all the centuries that have intervened between Beedle's day and our own, nobody has ever claimed to have found Death's Cloak. JKR indicates that Harry's cloak -- presumably Death's Cloak -- is exceptionally durable. She does not state that it is impervious or indestructible. Page 163 in Tales of Beedle the Bard, if you want to check it. :) – Slytherincess Apr 3 '12 at 10:42
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    I haven't got a copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard, so I'm bound to books 1-7. Maybe "may rip" could still apply, but don't think that "grow opaque" or "charms wear off" would be something Harry (or Moody) would have to worry about. However, I realize only now that at that point noone (except the dead Dumbledore) knew how exceptional Harry's cloak was. – Hendrik Vogt Apr 3 '12 at 10:56
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    A thing that puzzles me a bit: In Deathly Hallows, Xenophilius says: "Ah, but the Third Hallow is a true Cloak of Invisibility, Miss Granger! I mean to say, it is not a traveling cloak imbued with a Disillusionment Charm, or carrying a Bedazzling Hex, or else woven from Demiguise hair, which will hide one initially but fade with the years until it turns opaque. We are talking about a cloak that really and truly renders the wearer completely invisible, and endures eternally, giving constant and impenetrable concealment, no matter what spells are cast at it." ... – Hendrik Vogt Apr 3 '12 at 10:58
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    I checked the transcript and here's what it says: Angela Morrissey: Why is it that albus dumbledore can see harry under his invisibility cloak at certain moments? (during the series is the cloak only infallible to those who do not own a deathly hallow). J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore, who could perform magic without needing to say the incantation aloud, was using ‘homenum revelio’ - J.K. Rowling: – the human-presence-revealing spell Hermione makes use of in Deathly Hallows. // You changed the wording -- that sentence in the parentheses is a question, not an answer. :) – Slytherincess Apr 3 '12 at 17:58
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The main problem with using the Cloak is twofold:

  • The only way the good guys can know Harry's status is Moody's false eye.
  • Harry must be alone for a reasonable amount of time.

Clearly this isn't the best plan - yes the Cloak is good, but it's not infallible, and leaving Harry alone for probably at least five or ten minutes is not something the hyper-paranoid Moody would want to do.

2

The way I saw it when I read it was that they used the decoys to a) hide where the safe house would be and b) to confuse the Death Eaters and split them up, thus making them easier to defend against.

As for just using the Invisibility Cloak to sneak away, I suppose the most reasonable answer has already been given: Moody and the others would not want Harry being alone for any length of time. Plus, as far as I remember, Hermione was the only one of the three able to Apparate anyway.

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    Actually, Harry was able to Apparate by the time of the Seven Potters. In Half-Blood Prince Harry side-Apparates Dumbledore to Hogsmeade from the sea cave where they retrieved the fake Slytherin locket Horcrux. Dumbledore was too weak after drinking the Horcrux potion to Apparate, and Harry had to be the one to do it. And he did -- inexpertly, but successfully nonetheless. See the first page of chapter 27 -- The Lightning Struck Tower. :) – Slytherincess Apr 3 '12 at 13:31
1

It's possible that DEs had the Privet Drive surrounded with some sort of detection charms that would be able to warn them if Harry left the house on foot. But I'm not aware of authoritative in-Universe reason for why they chose the Seven Potters flying plan.

  • Uncertainty and doubt as far as where Harry was going. What I always wondered though is why they didn't just kill all the Harry lookalikes. Why would Voldemort be against that? It makes no sense to me whatever other than it would sort of break the story utterly. – Pryftan Dec 21 '17 at 17:18
  • @Pryftan - because that would risk real Harry, they don't know which one he is. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 21 '17 at 18:18
  • Yes. And do they really care? They want the real Harry dead and Voldemort doesn't care who or what is hurt as long as Harry is killed. Let's remember he killed enough to have an army of Inferi. Hardly worried about murdering others. He murdered after interrogation, getting bad news and for no reason at all. So the idea that they would risk the real Harry I fail to see being relevant. When I say all the Harry lookalikes I mean every single Harry including the real Harry: which is what Voldemort wants (though by his own hand). – Pryftan Dec 21 '17 at 21:45
  • @Pryftan - Voldemort very explicitly wanted Harry killed BY HIMSELF (as you saw when DEs who found real Harry via Expelliarmus disappeared, instead waiting for V.) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 21 '17 at 22:46
  • Yes. My point is he could have killed them all (operative word being 'he'). I didn't mean that his Death Eaters would do it; I meant he could have finished them all off (at least in his mind he could have) but he didn't for whatever reason. – Pryftan Dec 21 '17 at 22:51
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While Harry may have been able to apparate as a sixteen year old, remember that both he and Draco were too young to take the lessons in HBP because they had summer birthdays and didn't fit the age criteria. Therefore while he is able to apparate in a time of crisis, he isn't trained enough to be able to reliably (and safely) apparate every time. Also it is mentioned that the Ministry had a mole who was a Death Eater, and Harry still having the trace on him would mean that it would pick up if he tried to travel using any form of magic.

0

I think the main reason is that Harry Potter was safest as being visibly Harry Potter. Remember they wanted to capture him, not kill him and if I recall correctly Moody even says to Dung that he's safer taking the Polyjuice Potion and pretending to be Potter than being himself.

  • Problem with that theory is Voldemort was there: Voldemort even said he has to be the one to kill Harry and he had every intention of doing so that very night (quite the opposite of capturing him); this is when they also learn he could fly unaided. Voldemort was informed who the real Harry was after he disarmed Stan Shunpike (was that the surname? I think so) - knowing he was under the Imperius Curse and being honourable/respectful of life - but Harry's wand defeated the wand Voldemort 'borrowed' from Lucius. At that point they made it to the safe house and Voldemort had to leave. – Pryftan Dec 21 '17 at 17:21

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