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No one heard the prophecy that night; it smashed during all the commotion. Not even those who were actually there suspected that it said anything about Harry being destined to fight and defeat Voldemort. So how is it that the general public has guessed (mostly) correctly what the prophecy said?


Note: I realize the general public didn't guess everything correctly, so please don't just say "well, they didn't guess everything right".

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    A lot of it was probably just wishful thinking, generalizing off of what was known about Harry’s defeat of Voldemort, as well as the fact that the Death Eaters were apparently trying to steal a prophecy.
    – Adamant
    Oct 10, 2016 at 8:26
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    Snape eavesdropped on Dumbledore and Trelawney and heard most of it when it was first made in the Hogshead pub, if I recall correctly. Oct 10, 2016 at 8:45
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    Snape heard half of the prophecy that a boy born this month shall smite the dark lord. He reported that to Dark Lord. Since most of the death Eaters knew that part, presumably, Darklord himself let it slip to his followers. And later, Snape told Dumbledore that Voldemort thinks its the potter child which lead to Dumbledore hiding the Potters. Afterwards, DL fell and Death Eaters did their best to disassociate themselves from their fascist organization. They may have been responsible for letting it slip to general public, along with members of the Order who must have known why potters hid
    – Aegon
    Oct 10, 2016 at 8:48
  • @Aegon If that's the case, then the general public would've been saying Harry's the chosen one etc. ever since he rejoined the Wizarding World, but they only started saying that right after the attack at the Ministry of Magic, which I find too suspicious and confusing to be a coincidence.
    – RedCaio
    Oct 10, 2016 at 19:07
  • Wow, I read that part of HBP last night and considered posting this question. Coincidence!!
    – ThruGog
    Oct 10, 2016 at 20:27

3 Answers 3

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They Didn't, At Least Not For Sure

Enough leaks sprung from the Ministry that the fight between the DA and Death Eaters centered on the Hall of Prophecy, and it was well known that both Harry and Voldemort were there that day.

Therefore, the (correct) rumormill began to swirl that they were obviously there for a prophecy, and that said prophecy dealt with Harry and Voldemort.

Naturally, in a really, really bad time people will cling to whatever hope there is, and in this case it was the hope that the prophecy was that Harry was 'The Chosen One' to kill Voldemort. They already knew that something was up because Voldemort had, famously, failed to kill Harry. It wasn't a large step from there to assume that maybe Harry's protected by something more than luck.

The REAL details of the prophecy never got out to the public, at least not before Voldemort and Harry had their final standoff at the Battle of Hogwarts.

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They guessed from Ministry sources’ info.

After the break-in at the Ministry, some highly ranked Ministry officials confirmed to the Daily Prophet that when the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord broke into the Ministry, it was centered on the Hall of Prophecy.

Nevertheless, highly placed sources within the Ministry have confirmed that the disturbance centred on the fabled Hall of Prophecy.

Though Ministry spokeswizards have hitherto refused even to confirm the existence of such a place, a growing number of the wizarding community believe that the Death Eaters now serving sentences in Azkaban for trespass and attempted theft were attempting to steal a prophecy. The nature of that prophecy is unknown, although speculation is rife that it concerns Harry Potter, the only person ever known to have survived the Killing Curse, and who is also known to have been at the Ministry on the night in question. Some are going so far as to call Potter the ‘Chosen One’, believing that the prophecy names him as the only one who will be able to rid us of He Who Must Not Be Named.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 3 (Will and Won’t)

From that information, the wizarding community reasoned that the Death Eaters broke in to steal a prophecy (because that’s the obvious reason to break into the Hall of Prophecy). They further guessed that the prophecy the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters wanted was about Harry Potter, likely because he’d survived the Dark Lord’s Killing Curse.

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Nobody knew what the Prophecy meant, however, because Harry survived the Killing Curse (The only wizard ever) from Lord Voldemort, and he has managed to beat him on numerous occasions, they believe that Harry was the only one who could destroy Voldemort.

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