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I'd like to know exactly how a person would successfully ask Hogwarts for help.

In Chamber of Secrets Dumbledore assures Harry that Hogwarts will always provide help to those who ask for it; later in the story Harry, wearing the Sorting Hat, asks for help and the Sorting Hat gives Harry the Sword of Gryffindor.

‘However,’ said Dumbledore, speaking very slowly and clearly, so that none of them could miss a word, ‘you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.’

Chamber of Secrets -- page 195 -- Bloomsbury -- chapter 14, Cornelius Fudge

Is the Sorting Hat a necessary proxy in order to ask Hogwarts for help? Or if Harry had not had the Sorting Hat in the Chamber of Secrets, would Hogwarts have provided assistance in a different way? Or would it vary from person to person?

The Basilisk had swept the Sorting Hat into Harry’s arms. Harry seized it. It was all he had left, his only chance. He rammed it onto his head and threw himself flat onto the floor as the Basilisk’s tail swung over him again.

Help me ... help me ...’ Harry thought, his eyes screwed tight under the Hat. ‘Please help me!’

Chamber of Secrets -- page 235 -- Bloomsbury -- chapter 17, The Heir of Slytherin

How is Hogwarts alerted that someone needs help? Is the Sorting Hat required to ask for and receive assistance from Hogwarts?

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The answer is kind of in the first quote:

‘However,’ said Dumbledore, speaking very slowly and clearly, so that none of them could miss a word, ‘you will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.’

Dumbledore specifies that help will always be given as long as there are those loyal to him at Hogwarts. The school itself isn't (so far as I know) sentient and able to help; it's the people inside who will always be there to help. You need only to ask.

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    I always took the events in the second quote as a lucky turn for a kid still new to the magical world - that the Sword of Gryffindor was somehow tied to the Sorting Hat (did it also belong to Gryffindor?). – Izkata Jun 10 '12 at 2:33
  • It did, yes -- the Sorting Hat was Gryffindor's hat. Another quote that I was contemplating, but thought I should exclude for the sake of brevity, was Snape providing, via Hogwarts, the Sword of Gryffindor to Harry in the Forest of Dean. But I wasn't sure if that was too much of a stretch. I almost did this question as "is the Sorting Hat sentient?" Because it must somehow receive and act upon information. :) – Slytherincess Jun 10 '12 at 3:10
  • @Slytherincess Again, that would be the denizens of the castle (Snape and the headmasters' portraits) being there to help. Although I suppose since the headmasters' portraits are extra special, you could make the argument that they're part of the castle... If anything, I'd consider that to be the best support for evidence that Hogwarts itself is capable of giving help. – Izkata Jun 10 '12 at 3:24
  • @Izkata "help will always be given as long as there are those loyal to him at Hogwarts" - it appears to me that two part of the sentence in the original quote are logically unrelated. Note "you will also find". It's true that the sentence doesn't say it is 'Hogwarts' that gives the help. – n611x007 Jun 19 '12 at 13:01
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In DH chapter 30, Professor McGonagall animates the statues and suits of armors in Hogwarts and calling them to defend Hogwarts:

‘Hogwarts is threatened!’ shouted Professor McGonagall. ‘Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!’

If the statues have a duty to the school, then I count this a way for Hogwarts to provide assistance. The sorting hat is not involved here. Peeves also fights in the Battle of Hogwarts, which I would also consider as Hogwarts giving assistance.

Besides these, notice how loyal the portraits are the the school. Besides the portraits of headmasters mentioned above, consider the portrait of the Fat Lady who did not let Sirius Black in the Gryffindor common room even though her canvas got slashed and she had to run away, or Ariana's portrait calling Neville in DH chapter 28.

  • Peeves also comes with the building (see scifi.stackexchange.com/a/16635/4918 ). Thus, when Peeves helps in the Battle of Hogwarts, you could also consider that the school helping, just like when the suits of armor spring into life. – b_jonas Jan 24 '14 at 14:54
  • You've also got the room of requirement, and probably lots of other specific little things. – Kevin Feb 29 '16 at 7:41
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Old question (the perils of the "related" bar), but I thought there was rather a nice quote worth adding, of where help is given at Hogwarts without the sorting hat being present.

(Context, Padfoot has just dragged Ron into the tunnel behind the Whomping Willow)

'If that dog can get in, we can,' Harry panted, darting here and there, trying to find a way through the vicious, swishing branches, but he couldn't get an inch nearer to the tree-roots without being in range of the tree's blows.

'Oh, help, help,' Hermione whispered frantically, dancing uncertainly on the spot, 'please ...'

Crookshanks darted forwards. He slithered between the battering branches like a snake and placed his front paws upon a knot on the trunk.

Abruptly, as though the tree had been turned to marble, it stopped moving. Not a leaf twitched or shook.

'Crookshanks!' Hermione whispered uncertainly. She now grasped Harry's arm painfully hard. 'How did he know -?'

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - p.246-7 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 17, Cat, Rat and Dog

Now I dunno whether you would count this as Hogwarts giving help, clearly its Crookshanks who does the helping, but I've always interpreted it as being part of Hogwarts' magic.

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