In book 5, the Order of the Phoenix, when Harry is captured by Umbridge he tries to tell Snape that Voldemort has Sirius at the Department of Mysteries. Snape supposedly plays dumb with Umbridge and then immediately goes to send a message to check on Sirius. In the meantime, Harry (and friends) travel to London by flying. The book indicates that this takes several hours.

Yet even so, the members of the Order arrived way after Harry. So, are we to believe that it took Snape several hours to message the Order about this? Or that it took them hours to figure out that Harry had gone to the DoM, even after having told them that he'd seen Sirius being tortured there?

Personally, the only reasonable explanation I can even imagine is that Snape took his time passing along the message, or at least the part about Harry having disappeared from Hogwarts. Why did he do that? Did he want Harry to die or what?


2 Answers 2


You're forgetting the intervening period in the Forbidden Forest.

Harry didn't warn Snape and then immediately fly off to London. When he first left the castle, he was going with Umbridge, and Snape probably spent some time assuming that they were still together. There was no clear moment when Harry "disappeared from Hogwarts". As Dumbledore said afterwards:

"When, however, you did not return from your trip into the forest with Dolores Umbridge, Professor Snape grew worried that you still believed Sirius to be a captive of Lord Voldemort's."

He wasn't initially worried about Harry. After the cryptic warning, Snape checked headquarters to ensure Sirius was safe, and then perhaps gave no further heed to the mistaken warning. Only after some hours did he realise that Harry might still think Sirius was captive and, in true Harry style, might have taken matters into his own hands and gone to London on a foolhardy rescue mission.

  • Thanks to answerers on another question for the exact quote I needed.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 8:42
  • 2
    That explains a delay, but I find it strange for it to have been such a long delay. Snape has spent a lot of time complaining about Harry, especially how reckless he is, yet does not care about how much time he spends in the Forbidden Forest (a known dangerous location), nor does he care to keep an eye out for if they return from the Forest. Still find it strange
    – Anju Maaka
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 9:14
  • @AnjuMaaka he'd have to be keeping an eye in order to realise that they hadn't returned.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 9:53
  • 2
    @Anju Does Snape even know that Harry was in the Forbidden Forest? When he left him, he was in Umbridge's office. All Snape knew was that Harry was in Umbridge's captivity, which is also dangerous but hardly something Snape or the Order could come charging in to rescue him from.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 9:55
  • @OrangeDog Yes, and if he was keeping such an eye on the Forest he should have been able to conclude that something happened after an hour at most, but if I remember correctly it took them 3-5 hours to fly to London. You don't just start at a forest for 3+ hours without doing something.
    – Anju Maaka
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 10:22

I love all the explanations. I don't remember it that well. But just thought I'd make the point that Snape is a double agent, and as such has to keep both sides thinking he is working for them. Dumbledore was I think aware of his true loyalties, but Harry is kept in the dark. If there was a delay it might have been because Voldemort would have twigged that it was Severus that stopped Harry from taking the bait.

  • 4
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. If your answer is "to make Voldemort think he was loyal" then you should state that more clearly and explain how delaying the message helps this. Presumably even if he were loyal to Voldemort, he would be trying to hide that so he wouldn't want to risk being caught openly helping him.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 13:39

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