In Chapter Twenty-Seven of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Fudge lists the people that Dumbledore would have to overcome to escape:

“So,” sneered Fudge, recovering himself, “you intend to take on Dawlish, Shacklebolt, Dolores, and myself single-handed, do you, Dumbledore?”

In Chapter Twenty-Eight the immediate aftermath of this event is described, but now there is an additional person that Dumbledore had to overcome:

The notices had gone up all over the school overnight, but they did not explain how every single person within the castle seemed to know that Dumbledore had overcome two Aurors, the High Inquisitor, the Minister of Magic, and his Junior Assistant to escape.

The Junior Assistant is, of course, Percy Weasley. He was not mentioned by Fudge because he had left the room already:

Percy dashed from the room, slamming the door behind him, and Fudge turned back to Dumbledore.

Is the statement in Chapter Twenty-Eight therefore an authorial mistake? Or is it perhaps deliberately inaccurate in order to make the point that even though everyone knew, they actually didn’t really know? Or is there some other resolution for this discrepancy?

1 Answer 1


A detail like this wouldn't necessarily be preserved by spreading gossip.

There were very few people in the room to observe the exact order of events, but from outside anyone might have seen who emerged from the headmaster's office and when:

  • Percy left first, taking his notes and probably heading to the owlery.
  • Next was Dawlish, "followed closely by Kingsley and Umbridge", searching for Dumbledore.
  • McGonagall escorted Harry and Marietta out, concluding the chapter, and leaving Fudge alone with the portraits.

Only a very few minutes would have separated all of these departures. After Percy left, the conversation moved quickly to the point where Dumbledore, under attack, destroyed the office. A very fast discussion between him, McGonagall, and Harry, then he departed as the others woke, whereupon they immediately dashed out to search for him in the castle. After "a long and painful silence" and some pointed exchanges between Fudge and McGonagall, at which point there was no remaining urgency in the situation, McGonagall, Harry, and Marietta left the office.

It's reasonable that gossip would have circulated as to exactly who entered the office and who left, but how would anyone have known that Percy's departure was (a few moments) before the confrontation and Dumbledore's flight? It's not a detail that would be memorable. Even if someone outside the headmaster's office did notice a gap between Percy's departure and Dawlish and co.'s (all of them in a hurry, even if Percy wasn't searching for Dumbledore like the others), they might not have thought it worth remembering or noting when recounting the story to others.

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