In the book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore is supportive of Hagrid, that Buckbeak is harmless.

Harry and Hermione go back in time using the time turner and reach the point in the past when the ministry executives come to execute Buckbeak. While Macnair is about to come out of Hagrid’s cabin within moments to execute buckbeak, Harry is seen tugging Buckbeak’s rope and is still 10 feet away from the forest to avoid being seen. At that moment Dumbledore is found to interrupt Macnair and make him sign a document. This gives the future Harry time to safe hide Buckbeak.

Footsteps echoed from within the cabin. “Buckbeak, move!” Harry hissed. Harry tugged harder on the rope around Buckbeak’s neck. The hippogriff began to walk, rustling its wings irritably. They were still ten feet away from the forest, in plain view of Hagrid’s back door. “One moment, please, Macnair,” came Dumbledore’s voice. “You need to sign too.” The footsteps stopped. Harry heaved on the rope. Buckbeak snapped his beak and walked a little faster.

It seems deliberate that Dumbledore, who is against Buckbeak’s execution, is bothering about a ministry document, unless he knew that there would be something in the future,around the cabin, that would lead in the turn of the events.

Does anybody feel the same, that Dumbledore knew of the course of events that would take place?

  • I put the quote in a quote block. Feel free to revert if you prefer the code markup, though.
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 9:43
  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/55889/51379
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 9:50
  • 4
    I always got the sense not that he could sense harry but that he had kinda planned this out in advance. Dumbledore tin foil hat
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 10:21
  • I don't recall but did Dumbledore do this both times? Maybe he had no idea about Sirius but could he have maybe wanted Hermione to save Buckbeak nonetheless? Just speculation and not even possible if he didn't do this both times but it's a thought that crossed my mind just now.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 0:43
  • Dumbledore is a smart guy and a wizards' wizard, but I don't think the books describe him as having special senses.
    – Misha R
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 22:33

3 Answers 3


No canon info, but it's definitely implied that Dumbledore somehow knows what's up. Possibly he spotted them and used Legilimency or...? Just general Dumbledore wisdom.

Note, for example, that he also stops them searching the forest.

"Someone untied him!" the executioner was snarling. "We should search the grounds, the forest."

"Macnair, if Buckbeak has indeed been stolen, do you really think the thief will have led him away on foot?" said Dumbledore, still sounding amused. "Search the skies, if you will.... Hagrid, I could do with a cup of tea. Or a large brandy."


If Dumbledore could easily use Homenum Revelio without a wand (mentioned by J.K. Rowling), then he could have done so here too and realized there were two Harrys and two Hermiones and that it must have been under his orders that Hermione was messing around with time outside of classes! Here is the quote reproduced:

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.

So not only does Dumbledore use this spell 'at certain moments', he knows about invisibility cloaks, and had every reason to always be on guard, especially after he saw the diary and knew it was a horcrux that nearly became a living Tom. Remember also that he found/felt a lot of things during the visit to the cave without using a wand.

  • There's a lot of "could" and not much "did" here. This isn't a place for speculation; answers should be backed up by quotes from the canon. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 7:49
  • @ChrisHayes: Did you even read the linked post, which contains an excerpt from Rowling herself about how Dumbledore does use this spell in this way? It is totally in character for him to have the habit of doing so, as well.
    – user21820
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 11:29
  • Again, you're saying he could have done this. It's a world of magic - he could have done almost anything. But there's nothing in this answer to say that he did do this. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 19:00
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    @ChrisHayes: Okay we both agree that answers here need to be backed by evidence, but "evidence" is not the same as "100% incontrovertible proof". If you look around you'll see that many top-voted answers here are far more speculative than mine. So why don't you go around down-voting them all and leaving your comment about "could" there then?
    – user21820
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 1:27

I believe that the title of Headmaster at Hogwarts gave Dumbledore insight and magical abilities that could only be used by the Headmaster. Hogwarts is said to be the result of ancient magic so I imagine it also offers abilities that only the headmaster could use to keep an eye on everything happening at the school. Snape knew Harry was at the school when he was headmaster and we have no idea how he knew this. Everything he did as headmaster eventually led to outcomes nobody could've ever predicted. In the end, Hogwarts gives it's headmasters ancient magical abilities to keep the school safe.

  • Hi. You could lend credence to this answer by editing it to include any relevant quotes from the source material or author. Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 6:34

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