During Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and Hermione use the Time-Turner to save Buckbean and Sirius. Snape suspects Harry was involved in Sirius’s disappearance. To calm Snape, Dumbledore points out that they couldn't have helped him unless they were in several places at once:

“THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!” Snape howled, pointing at Harry and Hermione. His face was twisted; spit was flying from his mouth.

“Calm down, man!” Fudge barked. “You’re talking nonsense!”


“That will do, Severus,” said Dumbledore quietly. “Think about what you are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward ten minutes ago. Madam Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?”

“Of course not!” said Madam Pomfrey, bristling. “I would have heard them!”

“Well, there you have it, Severus,” said Dumbledore calmly. “Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I’m afraid I don’t see any point in troubling them further.”

Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter 22 (Owl Post Again)

Of course, they can, and Hermione has been doing it all year for her classes.

Were Snape (and the other teachers) unaware that Hermione had a Time-Turner? If they weren’t, then surely Fudge was. McGonagall had to write to the Ministry to discuss it:

“It’s called a Time-Turner,” Hermione whispered, “and I got it from Professor McGonagall on our first day back. I’ve been using it all year to get to all my lessons. Professor McGonagall made me swear I wouldn’t tell anyone. She had to write all sorts of letters to the Ministry of Magic so I could have one.

Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter 21 (Hermione’s Secret)

Surely for anyone who had knowledge of the existence of a Time-Turner, whether they knew Hermione had one or not, Dumbledore's logic would be unsatisfactory?

  • 19
    I think it is entirely possible that Snape knew about the time-turner and could figure out how the two might have done it. But Dumbledores explicit question gave him no option it was like "They would have to be at two places at once, which would only be possible with a secret device you have sworn to tell no-one about". - Dumbledore decided these two would not have to take responsibility there, and Snape although mad accepted his ruling.
    – Falco
    Jul 30, 2014 at 14:48
  • 7
    Though, this now makes me wonder why someone from the Ministry didn't think the Time-Turner could have been involved here - they knew there was one in Hogwarts, and even if Hermione was not personally involved, it could have been unknowingly 'borrowed'?
    – Shisa
    Jul 31, 2014 at 12:40
  • 3
    It's too far-fetched a theory for Fudge and the ministry to consider. The Department of Mysteries is highly secretive and denies their own existence, it could be that Fudge wasn't even told that a student was issued a time turner. We as the reader can make sense of it, but Fudge's and the ministry's view of Harry is as the hunted. The idea of him colluding with a student to turn back time and rescue a supporter of Voldemort would be laughable.
    – Siddhartha
    May 3, 2020 at 2:40
  • 1
    Oh but he did know about it youtu.be/YsYWT5Q_R_w?t=159 ;P
    – Zommuter
    Nov 11, 2020 at 20:38

5 Answers 5


I’ll start with a bit of guesswork about who knew what:

  • I think Snape would have known about the Time-Turner.

    As my answer to How did Hagrid know about the Time-Turners? explains, Hermione’s teachers would probably need to know about the Time-Turner, so that they didn’t ask awkward questions about why she popped up spontaneously in class.

    (Compare with Lupin’s secret about being a werewolf – the other teachers would know so that they didn’t ask awkward questions about his prolonged absences.)

  • I think Fudge may not have known, or has forgotten.

    We know that McGonagall wrote to “the Ministry”, but it’s unclear which officials she wrote to. Even if Fudge was involved in the initial letters (which I find somewhat doubtful), I doubt he’d remember the identity of the student involved. Compared to the relative major problem of Sirius Black and a convicted Hippogriff, a Time-Turner just isn’t at the top of his priority list.

    And he has more than just Hogwarts stuff on his plate. At this point, he’s probably neck-deep in preparations for the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament. Even if he did know once, I think he’s probably forgotten by now.

So why didn’t Snape blow Harry and Hermione’s cover?

I think Dumbledore was actually giving Snape a coded message – it seems obvious to anybody who knew about Time-Turners what’s happened, so Dumbledore is confirming Snape’s suspicions – and telling him not to say what really went on until Fudge has gone. Snape needs to stay on Dumbledore’s good side, so he’s not about to blow it now.

There are several good reasons why Dumbledore would want to keep it a secret (which Snape may have come to independently):

  • Harry and Hermione would be in a lot of trouble if it came out.

    They’ve just freed a mass murderer and a dangerous Hippogriff. At least, that’s how it seems to the Ministry. Harry may have been let off for blowing up his aunt, but this is far more serious. If convicted, both of them would probably be expelled from Hogwarts (at the very least).

    There are plenty of reasons to keep them both out of trouble.

  • It paints the Ministry in a bad light.

    If it comes out that Harry and Hermione freed Sirius and Buckbeak, then the next question is “Why?”. Fudge is weak, and doesn’t like to admit he’s wrong (witness his attitude towards the return of Voldemort), so he may not take kindly to being told that Sirius was innocent.

  • It calls Hogwarts’s management into question.

    Despite assurances that Hermione would only use the Time-Turner for academic purposes, she’s been using it to commit major crimes. What else has she used it for? Although we know that it’s almost all been innocent usage, it will raise awkward questions for the Hogwarts staff.

  • I agree with you. But a couple comments: 'so he may not take kindly to being told that Sirius was innocent'. Clearly that's exactly what he did but then Severus had assured the Minister that they had been Confunded. 'Although we know that it’s almost all been innocent usage, it will raise awkward questions for the Hogwarts staff.' Frankly I think all uses are innocent: they saved an innocent man from a terrible fate and while Voldemort would return as Wormtail escapes Dumbledore rightly says that he wouldn't want a servant owing Harry a life debt (and this helped save Harry in Malfoy Manor).
    – Pryftan
    Sep 18, 2017 at 21:51
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    Of course Fudge also acts even more belligerent and obstinately refuses to believe Voldemort is back and that Sirius is innocent in GOF (plus having a libel and slander campaign against Harry and Dumbledore about Voldemort) so that's even more evidence of his attitude toward the reality that Sirius is innocent. And as Sirius notes (I think he noted it) Fudge was there at the scene first. But yes I'd say weakness is a big part of why he's afraid to admit the truth: afraid to the point of letting a lot of bad things happen. Fear can do a lot of harm if it consumes you as I'm sure you know.
    – Pryftan
    Sep 18, 2017 at 21:55

I don't think Snape knew. He may not have any reason to know. Hermione isn't in his House so he doesnt need to know from that angle. Her time Turing doesn't affect his class because he teaches a Core class which everyone in 3rd year has to take, so the schedules wouldn't be devised to put a subject that only some students take at the same time as a class every 3rd year has to take. They scheduled the Picked-up Courses with other Picked-up courses to make sure they don't clash with Core Subjects like Potions, Transfiguration and Charms, If you notice in the scene Hermione hits Malfoy, they have just finished Care of Magical Creatures, Hermione was supposed to turn back time to the begining of that class and do one of the other courses, then go to Charms, but the Malfoy thing got her distracted and she missed Charms. So since Hermione isn't in his house, nor does her time turning affect his class, I don't think McGonagall told him, it just wasn't necessary for him to know.


It seems that Fudge and/or Snape did figure it out. In a comment in Chapter Twenty-Seven of Order of the Phoenix Fudge says:

“Yes, do let’s hear the latest cock-and-bull story designed to pull Potter out of trouble! Go on, then, Dumbledore, go on — Willy Widdershins was lying, was he? Or was it Potter’s identical twin in the Hog’s Head that day? Or is there the usual simple explanation involving a reversal of time, a dead man coming back to life, and a couple of invisible dementors?”

This would seem to be a reference to the events at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, as that is the only time Harry time travels in the series.

It is not clear where Fudge got this idea from. It doesn’t seem that he figured it out himself, because in context he is saying that he doesn’t believe it. It is possible, though, that Snape figured it out and told Fudge.


We have a few options.

  1. Snape did not know of the time turner, which is very possible, as the less who know about it the better.

  2. Fudge may have known, but he is shown as an idiot through the entire series, and he also didn't suspect Harry anyway. He's also slightly prejudiced against Muggleborns and he may not have even known who Hermione was OR that Hermione was the one that got the time turner. (Governments have a lot of paperwork and this wasn't his department anyway.)

  3. If Snape knew of the time tuner I'm sure he put it together later, but at that exact moment his rage was so high that he wasn't thinking clearly which is very unlike Snape. so we can give him a lapse in reasoning due to the amount of anger he was having.

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    oh my, I just realised, Snape was so mad at Sirius in this book because he thought he was to blame for Lily's death. It never occurred to me at the time of reading POA...
    – ZenLogic
    Jul 30, 2014 at 13:29
  • Snape most possibly knew about the time turner: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/64381/13716
    – user13267
    Jul 30, 2014 at 13:30
  • @ZenLogic Surely that's how it was for everyone :) After all we didn't know the truth. And while I would be highly impressed if anyone put together his questions to Harry in PS suggesting his bitter regret for Lily's death I somehow doubt anyone did (and certainly they couldn't prove it one way or another so might as well imagine that someone did; actually I saw it suggested on Harry Potter wiki before it was noted on Pottermore so maybe some did or thought about it later for the purpose of writing about the possibility).
    – Pryftan
    Sep 18, 2017 at 21:57

Firstly, it wasn't too obvious that Hermione was in multiple places in the school year. She was careful and hiding it very well.

Secondly, Hermione's Time Turner was a secret. If Professor Snape knew about the time turner, he probably wasn't allowed to tell about it.

Recall how Professor Snape knew that Professor Lupin was a werewolf, but was sworn by Dumbledore never to reveal that. Professor Snape had let this secret on, telling to the Slytherin students. This led to Professor Lupin being unable to continue his Hogwarts carrier. Professor snape could get away with this, because his position was important enough.

But revealing two important secrets of Professor Dumbledore at the end of the same school year would have been too much even for Snape, and it might have made Dumbledore really angry at him. Do you recall what it's like when Dumbledore is really angry? It happens only once throughout the whole series, at the end of Goblet of Fire when he discovers the impostor teacher. You don't want to be on his wrong side at such a time.

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