In book 1, we came to know that Dumbledore had gone to the Ministry of Magic and was gone for hours. I mean enough time not just for Quirrell to get into the hole beneath the 3 headed dog and cross the hurdles to reach the Mirror of Erised but also the trio to imitate his actions and do the same - which I am sure must have take hours for combined both. Not to mention Harry even managed to fight with Quirrell and Voldemort before Dumbledore's arrival.

Dumbledore, one of the wisest and cleverest wizard of the age, was not able to comprehend that perhaps the letter from Ministry could be a plot to get him out of Hogwarts (when he very well knows that Quirrell is trying to steal the stone - detailed in Book 7).

While meeting Harry in the hospital ward, Dumbledore told him that when he realized that Ministry hadn't called him so perhaps he was needed more at Hogwarts than Ministry.

Why couldn't he just use one of the faster ways to talk directly to Fudge?

  • Travelling thorough Floo Powder
  • Talking through Fire (like in Goblet of Fire)
  • Apparating outside Hogwarts Grounds and so on..

Why did it take him hours to realize that letter from the Ministry was a hoax and a planned attempt to get him out of the way while the thief try to steal the stone?

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    It probably took a while for the Minister's secretary to locate him, then even more time to work out that the letter was a fake.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 10:32
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    I am sure a wizard like Dumbledore, with his busy schedule and responsibilities on his shoulders, is not likely to sit in chair waiting for hours just to get response from a secretary that the letter was fake! Especially, when he knows what object he has left back at school and there are thieves trying to steal it. A wizard like Dumbledore, who plans things not just months but decades ahead (Harry safety and Horcrux hunting for instance) - It is little difficult to digest he was fooled by a simple letter for so many hours at that crucial juncture!
    – Harry
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 10:40
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    "A wizard is never late, nor he is early..." - wrong wizard franchise, sorry. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 15:54
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    There are directions (for who wants interpreted them that way) that Dumbledore wanted to see Harry's true colors: hp-lexicon.org/2006/01/21/… Dumbledore might already have suspected some kind of trace from Voldemort on Harry if he observed even 1 of the links with him.
    – Thomas
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 15:54
  • "detailed in Book" Can you elaborate? Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 0:25

3 Answers 3


Hogwarts is in Scotland and the Ministry of Magic is in London. While the UK is not a large country, it still takes time to travel that distance using more conventional means.

It's clear that Dumbledore didn't use one of the (near) instant forms of magical transportation - Apparition or Floo powder - for whatever reason. I believe it's stated in one of the later books that he sometimes uses the school Thestrals to travel. Even if he only got halfway before realising he needed to turn back it would take him a reasonable amount of time to do so using the same means; I can't see Dumbledore abandoning a Thestral in the middle of nowhere.

Why would he fall for the letter? We know that it's not uncommon at all for him to receive owls from the Minister, so it doesn't seem unreasonable that he would sometimes meet with him in person, and that he may not see the need to rush there under normal circumstances.

Even under these particular circumstances, he trusted Snape - who he had tasked with keeping an eye on Quirrell - completely, and also seemed rather taken with the brilliance of his own security measure for the Philosopher's Stone. He (I think rightly) believed that Quirrell could stand in front of the Mirror of Erised for days and never manage to obtain the Stone from it, so there wasn't any actual danger that he needed to rush back for (until Harry decided he had to stop Quirrell personally).

Out of universe, it's important to note that we've only been introduced to two forms of transport in the Wizarding world by that point: the Hogwarts Express (which barely counts) and brooms. While readers would likely accept "He's a wizard, he can travel anywhere he wants instantly" introducing that at the end would likely raise questions at a time when there are far more important things for the book to cover.

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    It's mentioned in the books that Apparition can be tiring, and many people find the experience unpleasant. It's also said to be unreliable over long distances, and Scotland-to-London is about as long a distance as you can get in mainland UK. Given that Dumbledore was unaware of the urgency, it seems reasonable that he'd choose a safer and more comfortable mode of transport. Also, noting Dumbledore's intelligence and eccentricity, he may just like long journeys because they give him a chance to think in peace, enjoy the view, etc. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 15:34
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    whom he had tasked with [..] (Sorry, couldn't help myself)
    – Jasper
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 17:06
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    It's also notable that in book seven, there's a line that seems to imply a limit on apparition range. The part where Harry hands himself over to the Death Eaters in the Forbidden Forest, or something like that: he feels Voldemort incoming once (thanks to their link) and is aware that soon he would be close enough apparate (why Voldy didn't just apparate twice in quick succession... well, maybe that's the "it's tiring" aspect alluded to by the earlier comment). This emphasizes that at least apparition might've been even more of a non-option.
    – mtraceur
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 23:06
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    "While the UK is pretty small compared to most countries (or even most states in the US)". The UK is 80th out of 201 countries and is larger than all but 11 U.S. states.
    – isanae
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 0:59

Just a theory.

Could Dumbledore be waiting for things to play out. There are a lot of chess analogies in the book, could he be making a slight sacrificial move in order to do a checkmate on Quirrell.

It certainly seems within his MO, to take such risks to get results. If he had stayed then nothing would have changed, the stone would still be at risk and nobody would be sure who was trying to steal it. By playing along with the ruse of a fake letter he moves the game forward, drawing out the potential theif.

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    Child endangerment? Dumbledore? Never!
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 11:41
  • I agree with Valorum. While it was ok for Dumbledore to give children chances to show their courage - sending kids to fight a deadly plant, a troll (which he didn't know will be subdued by Quirrell), fighting giant stone chess players and making them accidentally drinking deadly potions is something even Dumbledore would not have thought of.
    – Harry
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 13:12
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    I suspect Valorum was being sarcastic - much of the latter books revolves around Harry going through even worse trials than this, with Dumbledore's tacit approval. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 14:00
  • Such as "The Carrows are better in hogwarts torturing eleven year olds than out helping voldy" :D
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 14:43
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    Oh yes definately. But far better for the kids were the Carrows not placed there at all. For the Greater Good (the greater good)
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 15:56

Professor McGonagall says:

"Professor Dumbledore left ten minutes ago," she said coldly. "He received an urgent owl from the Ministry of Magic and flew off for London at once."

So that shows that Dumbledore flew to London, instead of Apparating. Its unlikely that he chose to travel by broomstick, since he's old and they're uncomfortable. He probably took a thestral (possibly in a carriage like how the Beauxbatons delegation arrives), which could easily have taken a few hours - plenty of time for Harry, Ron and Hermione to get through the challenges (I don't think they go at night in the book do they?).

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    What does this add that existing answers don't already cover?
    – amflare
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 17:32
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    @amflare A relevant quotation, which is more than the other two answers have. Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 22:06
  • There's the possibility that flew was not meant to be literal.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 19:05

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