Remarks throughout Order of the Phoenix seem to suggest that the Order of Phoenix members took turns to guard the Department of Mysteries, though unbeknownst to the Ministry. Arthur Weasley was bitten by Nagini during one such duty.

A previous question explained that the Ministry was empty when Harry and friends arrived because it was night-time and the security guards were dealt with by Death Eaters.

But why wasn’t there an Order member guarding the Department of Mysteries that day? Had one been on duty, an alarm would have been raised when Harry and friends arrived.

  • I must be missing something. How is this question any different than the one you linked?
    – phantom42
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 19:18
  • 2
    @phantom42 I think this question is asking about the unofficial guard from the Order, as opposed to security hired by the Ministry, but I’m a bit unclear as well.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 19:23
  • @alexwlchan In the quote about the lack of guards in the other question, I always understood Harry to be referring to any/all guards - Ministry and Order.
    – phantom42
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 19:29
  • It's been a long time since I read OotP. Could it be that after Arthur's injury it was a position few wanted to take?
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 19:32
  • 1
    @MacCooper: I skimmed the book after reading the question, and I can’t find any mention of guard duty after that. Doesn’t mean nobody did it, of course.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 8:56

2 Answers 2


There were very few members of the Order that could have been called for such a duty in the "Order of the Phoenix" at that time and the Order was probably talking of their plans and deciding how they should go about guarding the Ministry. Because their ranks were very low.

Also, Dumbledore might have decided to give up protecting the prophecy as it was not worth it and due to their ranks being very small, almost impossible.

No one was there, because:

  • They were regrouping
  • They didn't expect a surprise attack
  • They were low on trusted personnel
  • They didn't expect trouble

Everyone during the events acted like they were sorta calm. That leads me to believe that everybody was calm, because they had no idea of what was going on. They must have thought that the Ministry was safe during that time, possibly due to something Snape or someone heard, but nevertheless everybody seemed calm.

"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.

Meaning he wasn't worried before.

"Alastor Mood, Nymphadora Tonks, Kinglsley Shacklebolt, and Remus Lupin were all at headquarters when he made contact...

And they certainly didn't seem that worried. They were at the headquarters instead of guarding.

Another thought

The ministry was in the between times for a member of the Order to go check on it. And that is why no one was there, because they didn't get there in time to cover for the others. They had few members so the ones that were taking shifts didn't have enough time, between other duties, and so there were gaps between shifts. And that is why no one was there.

They were low on personnel

Well from taking a tally of all of the "Order" members it says that they were all elsewhere or incapacitated.

And Harry thinks explicitly that there is no one that he can call to help him.

pg.730, Chapter 32, Out of the Fire

There was nobody left to tell. Dumbledore had gone, Hagrid had gone, but he had always expected Professor McGonagall to be there, irascible and inflexible, perhaps, but always dependably, solidly present....

Professor McGonagall — laid up in a hospital wing.

pg.730, Chapter 32, Out of the Fire

"I need to see Professor McGonagall," gasped Harry, the breath tearing his lungs. "Now... It's urgent...."

"She's not here, Potter," said Madame Pomfrey sadly. "She was transferred to St. Mungo's this morning. Four Stunning spells straight to the chest at her age? It's a wonder they didn't kill her."

  • Molly Weasley — at home or with Arthur

  • Arthur Weasley — convalescent

  • Dumbledore and Hagrid — gone:

pg.723, Chapter 31, O.WL.S

"At least they didn't get to take Hagrid off to Azkaban," said Ron. I'spect he's gone to join Dumbledore, hasn't he?"

"I suppose so, said Hermione, who looked tearful. "Oh, this is awful, I really thought Dumbledore would be back before long, but now we've lost Hagrid too..."

Because remember Dumbledore went into hiding in "Order of the Phoenix".

Snape — At the school. Doing professor duties or whatever.

Then on pg. 830, Chapter 37, The Lost Prophecy

"Kreacher told me last night," said Dumbledore. "You see, when you gave Professor Snape that cryptic warning, he realized that you had had a vision of Sirius trapped in the bowels of the department of Mysteries. He, like you, attempted to contact Sirius at once. I should explain that members of the Order of the Phoenix have more reliable methods of communicating than the fire in Dolores Umbridge's office. Professor Snape found that Sirius was alive and safe in Grimmauld place.

"When, however, you did not return from your trip into the forest with Dolores Umbridge, Profesor Snape grew worried that you still believed Sirius to be a captive of Lord Voldemort's. He alerted certain order members at once."

Dumbledore heaved a heavy sigh and then said, "Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Kinglsley Shacklebolt, and Remus Lupin were all at headquarters when he made contact...

You could think this

Why didn't someone else come? There had to have been more members.

Because maybe the Order only trusted a few people for that particular job. And they wanted to make sure that the job was done right and it might have done more harm than good to allow someone who works with Voldemort to work for them.

Also, the Ministry might have not allowed them to protect the prophecy.

Among their goals was to obtain a record of the prophecy concerning Voldemort and Harry, which was kept in the Department of Mysteries. The Order kept guard on the area, but were hampered by the Ministry's lack of cooperation.


There are very few people in the Order at this time because the Ministry is denying Voldemort is back, is another possibility. In HP6, it might be easier for them to recruit.

If the Order and the Ministry had had a better relationship, the Order would have had more people to send. pg 67 HP5 chapter 'Number 12 Grimmauld Place' Hermione says 'some of them are working on recruiting more people to the Order'. This would have been extra difficult in 5 due to the Ministry's corruption. also, pg 70 HP5: George says: 'Charlies in the Order too but he's in Romania. Dumbledore wants as many foreign wizards brought in as possible, so Charlie's trying to make contacts on his days off.' pg 85 Bill, Mr. Weasley and Lupin discuss whether goblins might help the Order/anti Voldemort movement.

pg 95 Sirius says: Tonks and Arthur would lose their jobs at the Ministry if they recruited there.

So clearly they want more people, but are hindered by various political obstacles.

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