54

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Dumbledore appears at Privet Drive:

A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you'd have thought he'd just popped out of the ground. The cat's tail twitched and its eyes narrowed.

As far as I know, the only ways to travel almost instantaneously in the wizarding world are apparition, portkeys, and floo powder. I think we can ignore floor powder in this case.

In most instances of apparition in the books, there is a reference to a loud "crack" sound:

With two loud cracks, Fred and George, Ron’s elder twin brothers, had materialised out of thin air in the middle of the room. Pigwidgeon twittered more wildly than ever and zoomed off to join Hedwig on top of the wardrobe.

...

And with another loud crack, the twins Disapparated

...

The door slammed shut and at the same moment a loud crack echoed inside the cellar... revealing Dobby the house-elf, who has just Apparated into their midst.

...

But then, with a very faint pop, a slim, hooded figure appeared out of thin air on the edge of the river... With a second and louder pop, another hooded firugre materialized.

...

With a crack like a whip, Dobby vanished.

...

There was a loud crack, and a house-elf appeared.

According to the Harry Potter Wiki:

Apparition can cause an audible noise ranging from a small faint pop to a loud crack that may sound to Muggles like a car backfiring. House-elves may also Apparate but without some of the restrictions that wizards have. For example, they can Apparate inside of Hogwarts and even the Crystal Cave, where powerful enchantments prevent witches and wizards from doing the same. Also, when they Apparate, the sound is mostly a loud crack.

Finally, according to this answer:

Fortunately JKR provided (most probably unintentionally) a nice explanation about how is this avoided - every time someone apparates/disapparates a loud bang is heard. This bang is most probably caused by the air filling in the vacuum when someone disapparates and the air being pushed out when someone apparates.

I can think of 3 explanations for Dumbledore's silent appearance on Privet Drive:

  1. He is sufficiently skilled in apparition so that he does not make any sound. This would invalidate part of the answer to the question linked above.

  2. He was already on Privet Drive and simply deactivated his disguise, which would most likely have been a Disillusionment Charm.

  3. He did not apparate, but used some other form of instantaneous transportation that is not mentioned in the canon.

So, the main question: Why did Dumbledore not make a sound when he appeared on Privet Drive?

  • 41
    Because he's really, really good at it. – Valorum Mar 17 '17 at 15:37
  • 7
    Maybe Dumbledore walked there using an invisibility cloak? – Clint Eastwood Mar 17 '17 at 15:37
  • 6
    The problem with most speculation here is that it ties Dumbledore down to the abilities of other magical folk. Given that his entire character is based around him being one of the most gifted wizards who ever lived, I'm not sure we can speculate based on what happens when other wizards Apparate. Have you any other instances when Dumbledore Apparates and does cause a bang, for example? – DavidS Mar 17 '17 at 16:00
  • 14
    Dumbledore took the Silent Spell feat at level 6. – Mike Kellogg Mar 17 '17 at 20:33
  • 4
    @MikeKellogg That just lets him cast the spell without a verbal component. – Michael Richardson Mar 17 '17 at 20:47
81

I was under the impression that those who were more skilled at apparation could do so quieter and even silently.

Now some instances Rowling may have left out mention of pops/cracks as they did not contribute to the story, or they may have been left out simply because there were none/not audible.

Inexperienced / Low Skilled Wizards

We see those that are inexperienced or weaker apparating loudly:

Fred and George:

'Mum,' said George and without further ado there was a loud crack and Harry felt the weight vanish from the end of his bed. (Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6)

Mundungus:

A loud, echoing crack broke the sleepy silence like a gunshot; (Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 1)

Gasping and spluttering, Mundungus seized his fallen case, then--CRACK-- he Disapparated. (Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 12)

Experienced / Skilled Wizards

While those that are typically more skilled being quieter (or no mention at all of popping/cracking):

Assorted Death Eaters:

The air was suddenly full of the swishing of cloaks. Between graves, behind the yew tree, in every shadowy space, wizards were Apparating. (Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33)

Twycross:

Twycross stepped forwards, turned gracefully on the spot with his arms outstretched and vanished in a swirl of robes, reappearing at the back of the Hall. (Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18)

Narcissa and Bellatrix:

But then, with a very faint pop, a slim, hooded figure appeared out of thin air on the edge of the river.

...

With a second and louder pop, another hooded figure materialized. (Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 2)

Does the above hint that Narcissa, while more reserved, is more powerful than Bellatrix?

Dumbledore and Voldemort

In the Battle of the Ministry of Magic, we see instances of both Voldemort and Dumbledore apparating.

'Don't waste your breath!' yelled Harry, his eyes screwed up against the pain in his scar, now more terrible than ever. 'He can't hear you from here!'

'Can't I, Potter?' said a high, cold voice.

Harry opened his eyes.

Tall, thin and black-hooded, his terrible snakelike face white and gaunt, his scarlet, slit-pupilled eyes staring ... Lord Voldemort had appeared in the middle of the hall, his wand pointing at Harry who stood frozen, quite unable to move. (Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36)

In the passage above Voldemort appears completely silently. There is no mention of a crack or pop, and Harry only realizes Voldemort is present when he speaks.

Later in the same chapter we have,

Voldemort raised his wand and another jet of green light streaked at Dumbledore, who turned and was gone in a whirling of his cloak. Next second, he had reappeared behind Voldemort and waved his wand towards the remnants of the fountain.

...

Voldemort, who vanished and reappeared beside the pool.

...

Voldemort vanished;

...

Then he was gone and the water fell with a crash back into its pool, slopping wildly over the sides, drenching the polished floor.

Again, no mention of any sound being made or any of the characteristic CRACK we see with other practitioners.

  • 9
    Interesting theory (the Narcissa/Bellatrix example is very good). During the battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore though the pops/cracks could be covered by other sounds (it's a battle, after all). – Matthieu M. Mar 17 '17 at 19:46
  • 3
    I think that this is the correct answer. – EJS Mar 17 '17 at 20:25
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    @MatthieuM. During the actual fight the sounds could be covered (and why interrupt the action with telling readers about them). But I think the strongest evidence (at least in that scene) is when Voldemort appears without Harry realizing it. At that time it is just him and Bellatrix in the desolated Ministry entrance. – ssell Mar 17 '17 at 20:56
  • 10
    "Does the above hint that Narcissa, while more reserved, is more powerful than Bellatrix?" I interpret that scene more of Narcissa trying to leave an area quietly, and Bellatrix hurriedly apparating to follow her. Bellatrix wasn't trying to be quiet - she was trying to follow her sister and tell her off. – NoseKnowsAll Mar 18 '17 at 0:06
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    @NoseKnowsAll: Or it could also be a difference between skill and power. Narcissa could be more skilled and Bellatrix more powerful. – Matthieu M. Mar 18 '17 at 11:14
35

It's not much, but here's something Dumbledore says a bit later:

"All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here."

If he had a "way here", and he "passed" things, then he didn't just Apparate straight from Hogwarts. It could've been a Disillusionment Charm that made him "appear." Or he could have used James's Invisibility Cloak, which I believe he had at the time.

He definitely didn't Apparate there, since, obviously, there would be a loud crack if he did. It's not just that he's super good at Apparating.

  • 22
    "On the way" could have meant that Dumbledore was boozing/pre-gaming at a bunch of parties beforehand, though. Given that he had arranged to meet Hagrid at a specific time he could've Apparated between venues whilst (in his mind) legitimately seeing them as being "on the way" to Privet Drive. – The Dark Lord Mar 17 '17 at 15:53
  • @TheDarkLord Why would he do that? – CHEESE Mar 17 '17 at 15:59
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    Because he likes to party. He's often represented as championing the merits of food, drink, music, laughter, community etc. See his response to Harry saving Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets - this merits a feast! – The Dark Lord Mar 17 '17 at 16:04
  • 3
    +1 for thinking of the invisibility cloak, I had completely forgotten about that. Also for the quote. In regards to your last paragraph, in the wikipedia page on magic, there is a mention of Dumbledore apparating silently. However, they're using this specific incidence of him appearing suddenly and silently, so I don't think it can be regarded as gospel truth canon. – Nannooskeeska Mar 17 '17 at 17:15
  • He didn't need the cloak. He proves it to Harry in book 1. So could incidentally Voldemort. The only reason Dumbledore had the Cloak is to study it since it was a Deathly Hallow. He states this if I am not mistaken in DH. – Pryftan Feb 13 '18 at 23:50
22

Maybe he didn't Apparate.

This quote doesn't state that he Apparated or appeared while spinning, only that he appeared:

A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you'd have thought he'd just popped out of the ground. The cat's tail twitched and its eyes narrowed.

Later in Sorcerer's Stone he tells Harry:

"I don't need a cloak to become invisible," said Dumbledore gently.

Perhaps he simply removed the Disillusionment charm which would have been completely silent. Or as has been stated by Valorum in the comments, his Apparating could be so advanced that he no longer makes noise.

Without a direct quote from JKR we may never know.

  • 1
    "'I don't need a clock to become invisible,' said Dumbledore gently." Thanks for the clarification, Professor. :) – Nannooskeeska Mar 17 '17 at 17:31
  • 1
    That a good point, but I don't think that there is ever a mention of anyone spinning after they appear. Of course when you disapparate you spin "into" the air, but I'm not sure if you come out wherever you're going, spinning. – Nannooskeeska Mar 17 '17 at 17:33
  • That's true. I only meant that there were no additional literary clues. – Bishop Mar 17 '17 at 17:41
  • I fail entirely to see why a clock would help someone become invisible :) – gatherer818 Mar 18 '17 at 2:59
  • 1
    @gatherer818 Then you haven't been in a classroom at 15:31. They just vanish. – bp. May 23 '17 at 7:43
2

Harry apparently thought that Dumbledore made noise when Apparating. From Chapter Thirty-Three of Deathly Hallows:

Any sound of Dumbledore Apparating had been drowned by the sound of the wind in the branches.

If Harry is correct, we might be led to believe that Dumbledore did not Appparate to Privet Drive. It is certainly not unheard of for Dumbledore to travel by means other than Apparition. From Chapter Seventeen of Philosopher's Stone:

"We must have crossed in midair. No sooner had I reached London than it became clear to me that the place I should be was the one I had just left. I arrived just in time to pull Quirrell off you."

Here we see that Dumbledore flew rather than Apparated. (Why Dumbledore didn't Apparate in that instance is a separate question.) In fact, in Chapter Twenty-One of Order of the Phoenix Hagrid explicitly mentions that Dumbledore sometimes doesn't want to Apparate when he goes on long journeys:

“No, no, no,” said Hagrid, chuckling, “tha’s jus’ superstition, that is, they aren’ unlucky, they’re dead clever an’ useful! ’Course, this lot don’ get a lot o’ work, it’s mainly jus’ pullin’ the school carriages unless Dumbledore’s takin’ a long journey an’ don’ want ter Apparate — an’ here’s another couple, look —”

So the simplest answer to why Dumbledore didn't make a sound at Privet Drive would be that he didn't Apparate. A slight issue with this, though, is that the description of him leaving Privet Drive is described the same way as Apparition is throughout the books (my emphasis):

He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.

We would then have to suggest that for some reason he turned on his heel even though he wasn't Apparating, or that for some reason he did not Apparate to Privet Drive but he did Apparate from Privet Drive.

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