In chapter 23 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Snatchers catch Harry, Ron and Hermione. The Snatchers are looking for Muggle-borns. Hermione says her name is Penelope Clearwater, Percy's girlfriend.

"Who are you, girly?"
"Penelope Clearwater" said Hermione. She sounded terrified, but convincing.
"What's your blood status?"
"Half-Blood" said Hermione.
"Easy enough to check" said Scabior.

Penelope was attacked together with Hermione in Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets. Hermione should know she was Muggle-born.

"That Ravenclaw girl - Penelope Clearwater - she's a prefect. I don't think he thought the monster would dare attack a prefect."

So why does Hermione even bother with such a lame lie? So might as well as admitted she was Muggle-born​.

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    Better to be thought to be a random runaway than a comrade of public enemy number one
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 11:48
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    @Valorum Well that's still a stupid thing to do, since the snatchers handed the muggle borns straight to the death eaters. What you said explains why she didn't say she was Hermione, not why she said she was Penelope.
    – MBEllis
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 12:07
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    Do you have any quotes or evidence to support your assertion that Penelope Clearwater is a muggleborn, and not a half-blood? Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 12:12
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    The assertion that Penelope is Muggleborn because she was attacked with Hermione seems suspect at best. Hermione could have easily been the target - and that would make more sense, since we know she was Muggleborn and her being attacked would personally be a much larger blow to Harry - and Penelope was simply caught up in it. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 12:58
  • Other than quoting the original wording, what research have you done? Failing that, why are you not offering for consideration at least one interpretation of your own? Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 0:45

3 Answers 3


Without much warning, she's asked for a name and gives one which is real, but not strongly linked to Harry. There's a chance of getting away with it, if the Snatchers don't check too carefully.

She has four options:

  • Claim to be pure blood - but this is a relatively small group, they know each other, and high risk of being caught out rapidly, if not immediately.

  • Claim to be a Muggle - instant target.

  • Claim to be Muggle-born - again, instant target.

  • Claim to be a half-blood - until Scabior says that's 'easy enough to check', there was a chance that this would be a status low enough to be looked down on and dismissed, without anything more than some verbal abuse along the way. She didn't know for certain that the name she gave could or would be checked to confirm her blood status. In a selection of bad choices, it was the one that gave her the best chance.

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    Five (admittedly dumb, but as per the OP's rationale): say she's Hermione Granger and get them all taken to Malfoy Manor an hour earlier. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 16:28
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    True - I had assumed we had gone past 'honesty is the best policy' and she was looking at alternatives!
    – Michael
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 16:42
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    @marcellothearcane From memory, there was no guarantee they would be bringing in Harry and his associates alive. Voldemort didn't know Harry was part of his Horcruxes, and I think it wasn't until later that he put the word out to take Harry alive. And even then, he didn't care about Ron or Hermione.
    – Graham
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:16
  • @Graham I think Voldemort had made it pretty clear to the death eaters (and friends) that he alone was to kill Harry. See the fight in the department of mysteries (the one with Lucius), and the battle of the seven Potters. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:20
  • @marcellothearcane He wanted to take down Harry as a demonstration of his power, so he would probably have been deeply pissed off. It doesn't mean he wouldn't have accepted it happening. Their whole time on the run (the "camping trip from hell" :) is characterised by the Death-Eaters showing up to attack them each time, and they don't seem to be noticeably holding back. And Ron and Hermione were fair game from first to last.
    – Graham
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:39

Penelope‘s blood status is not known.

Tom Riddle said that Ginny set the basilisk on four Mudbloods and the Squib’s cat. Three of the Mudbloods are for certain Colin Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and Hermione Granger, as their blood statuses are explicitly mentioned. The other two victims were Penelope Clearwater and Nearly Headless Nick, but it is not clear which one of the is the fourth Mudblood he is referring to.

“Haven’t you guessed yet, Harry Potter?’ said Riddle softly. ‘Ginny Weasley opened the Chamber of Secrets. She strangled the school roosters and daubed threatening messages on the walls. She set the serpent of Slytherin on four Mudbloods, and the Squib’s cat.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)

However, the main target of that basilisk attack was Hermione, because Tom Riddle knew he would be able to trap Harry much more easily if one of his best friends was attacked.

“So the foolish little brat waited until your dormitory was deserted and stole it back. But I knew what I must do. It was clear to me that you were on the trail of Slytherin’s heir. From everything Ginny had told me about you, I knew you would go to any lengths to solve the mystery – particularly if one of your best friends was attacked.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)

Nearly Headless Nick was also attacked alongside a confirmed Mudblood, Justin Finch-Fletchley, so it is also unclear whether he was intentionally targeted or not. From the information given in the books, it is not clear what either of the remaining two basilisk victims’ blood statuses are, so it is not possible to know whether Penelope was a half-blood or if Hermione did not match the name she claimed was hers with the correct blood status of its true owner.

But anything is better than the truth.

However, even a bad lie is still less likely to get Hermione in trouble than the truth of her identity. Hermione had a bounty out on her capture. Her name and picture were in the Daily Prophet, where she is described as the Mudblood traveling with Harry Potter.

“’Ermione Granger,”’ Scabior was saying, ‘“the Mudblood who is known to be travelling with ’Arry Potter.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)

Even claiming to be someone who was also actually a Mudblood would be better than the truth that she was the Hermione Granger wanted for traveling with Harry Potter, whose capture was highly desired.

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    Nearly Headless Nick the fourth mudblood, instead of Penelope? That's a weird theory. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 22:19
  • @leftaroundabout I’ve seen it mentioned on websites that discuss Harry Potter before that it is not clear which of his victims Tom Riddle was referring to and that it could be him. It would seem more logical for the fourth Mudblood to have been someone alive before the attack, but Penelope was also in the way when Hermione was targeted and her blood status is never mentioned. So it should not be presumed to be her. Nearly Headless Nick would have been at Hogwarts when Tom Riddle attended Hogwarts, so Tom may have known his blood status and held opinions on him since then.
    – Obsidia
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 1:01
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    It doesn't make much sense to attack a Ghost, considering that they don't have any blood in them to make them mudblood and what not. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 5:33
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    Of course Tom could have known him if Harry knows the Bloody Baron. But overall, it doesn't make sense to attack a ghost Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 7:34
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    @TheMadHatter: Most racial purity laws in history weren't based on any objective scientific facts anyway; ghosts of mudbloods could easily still count as mudbloods. Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 4:59

Penelope clearwater is a half-blood, not a muggle-born. So therefore, it would be better if Hermione said she was her. Also Hermione was wanted and if she said "I'm Hermione Granger", they would have brought her to Malfoy Manor straight away.

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    As per my comment on the other answer do you have any evidence to edit in to back this up?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 7:24

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