In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there is a sound that comes from the feet of the Death Eaters when they are meeting at Malfoy Manor.

At these words, seemingly in response to them, a sudden wail sounded, a terrible, drawn-out cry of misery and pain. Many of those at the table looked downward, startled, for the sound had seemed to issue from below their feet.

I have always assumed the sound to come from Professor Burbage. Voldemort even says:

“Wormtail,” said Voldemort, with no change in his quiet, thoughtful tone, and without removing his eyes from the revolving body above, “have I not spoken to you about keeping our prisoner quiet?”

Due to him looking at Burbage while speaking to Pettigrew, I've always assumed "our prisoner" was referring to her.

However, Professor Burbage is stated to be above the table, not below it.

As their eyes grew accustomed to the lack of light, they were drawn upward to the strangest feature of the scene: an apparently unconscious human figure hanging upside down over the table, revolving slowly as if suspended by an invisible rope, and reflected in the mirror and in the bare, polished surface of the table below.

Therefore, what was the sound coming from below the Death Eaters' feet?

Is it another prisoner in the basement making the sound? Perhaps Ollivander?

  • 5
    is there any reason to think it isn't the prisoner known to be down there, later revealed to be Olivander?
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 19, 2019 at 22:32
  • See my comment below as to why I think it seems out of character for Ollivander to be the one making the noise. Nov 19, 2019 at 22:40
  • Lucius and the other Death Eaters tortured a Muggle family (including children) for fun in Goblet of Fire. It wouldn't be out of character for the Malfoys to keep their basement stocked with Muggle captives for sport and practice.
    – Gaultheria
    Nov 19, 2019 at 23:45
  • "I have always assumed the sound to come from Professor Burbage".Why? When you already seem to know "However, Professor Burbage is stated to be above the table"?
    – user13267
    Nov 20, 2019 at 6:18

3 Answers 3


I think the very next paragraph makes it clear that it was not referring to Burbage:

”Yes, m-my Lord,” gasped a small man halfway down the table, who had been sitting so low in his chair that it had appeared, at first glance, to be unoccupied. Now he scrambled from his seat and scurried from the room, leaving nothing behind him but a curious gleam of silver.

Given that Wormtail has just been rebuked about a prisoner making noise, it seems clear that he now went to take care of the prisoner. The prisoner is thus clearly elsewhere.

As for who the other prisoner was, we can probably safely assume that it was Ollivander. We know that Ollivander had been held as a prisoner in the cellar of Malfoy Manor at the time:

"There's no way out, Ron," said Luna, watching his fruitless efforts. "The cellar is completely escape-proof. I tried, at first. Mr. Ollivander has been here for a long time, he's tried everything."

And we don't know of any other prisoner that Voldemort was keeping there at the time.

There is, perhaps, another clue that the prisoner is Ollivander. Note the opening of the quote you cited:

At these words, seemingly in response to them

What were "these words"? They were the following:

"I have been careless, and so have been thwarted by luck and chance, those wreckers of all but the best-laid plans. But I know better now. I understand those things that I did not understand before. I must be the one to kill Harry Potter, and I shall be."

Why would someone specifically cry out in response to these words? Well, for Ollivander it perhaps makes sense. At this point Voldemort is introducing the topic of the mistakes that he has made and the information he has procured to correct his mistakes. Much of that information was gleaned via torturing Ollivander. Thus, Ollivander may have been particularly distraught at that point.

Of course, this assumes that Ollivander would have been able to hear what Voldemort was saying from his place in the cellar. We do know that later in the book, Harry was able to hear what was happening above when he was in the cellar:

Harry could feel her digging at the rope's tough fibers to work the knots free. From upstairs they heard Bellatrix's voice.

"I'm going to ask you again! Where did you get this sword? Where?"

Granted, Bellatrix was probably talking significantly louder than Voldemort, but it doesn't seem unreasonable that Ollivander could have heard Voldemort from the cellar.


Voldemort does absolutely use the word "prisoner" when referring to the wailing coming from below them. The only logical answer is the Wand maker Ollivander, since he was the only one in the cellar at the time. Luna was kidnapped on the train while she was headed for home during the Christmas holiday. So it couldn't have been her wailing.

  • Could you edit in some quotes to back this up? Where does he mention prisoner, for example? Do you mean the quote given in the question itself?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 8, 2020 at 6:47

Voldemort never said it was a prisoner he was trying to keep quiet, he used the word "guest." From what I've been reading, during his time of scheming, Voldemort and Bellatrix had an affair and had a child. So, when the assumed baby cry happened, everyone at the table looks down, but the scene focuses on Bellatrix and her husband. So, assuming this is true, I believe it was their daughter who cried out in the basement.

  • 4
    Why would a baby be making "a sudden wail sounded, a terrible, drawn-out cry of misery and pain"? Especially if it is likely to being looked after?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 12, 2020 at 10:36
  • 1
    The question includes a direct quote from the book in which Voldemort clearly says "prisoner" and not "guest" (I don't have my copy of Deathly Hallows to hand to check whether the quote is accurate). Furthermore, the cellar is visited later in the novel and there is no mention of an infant being down there. This would be an extremely clever foreshadowing of Cursed Child if it were true, but I'm afraid you're going to need to produce more evidence to prove that it is true.
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 12, 2020 at 10:37

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