The crimes against Harry Potter

This post and everything following it is why I started this journey. This is the place where we meet Harry. This is the start of the Philosopher’s Stone. Yet, all the other posts were necessary. We now know about Dumbledore’s character, he is flawed and wanted greatness above everything else in his youth. We now know that he became a teacher and headmaster because he ‘couldn’t handle power and gave it up’. We found a big flaw in Dumbledore’s character that showed that he only puts himself on the line when he has no other choice. He shows up when the consequence of his not going becomes too great. He waits for people to beg him on bended knee for help. It might have been that this flaw is what caused him to make Tom flounder because Tom bowed to no one. We know that however backhanded Dumbledore could have stopped Tom from starting a war, maybe not at eleven if one is against the murder of children (which Dumbledore was in a sense) but surely at 28 when he came to ask for a job. In the last post, we looked at Hogwarts under Dumbledore. The use of slurs and hexes in the halls. The use of dark magic on unsuspecting students and the recruitment between the walls. We talked about James and Lily and how following Dumbledore’s warpath led them to defy Voldemort three times and ended in their deaths. We took a deep dive into the timeline of their deaths, the knowledge Dumbledore held, and what he didn’t. How he put himself above all others. How he sent Sirius to prison without a proper trial on his word and how he intervened with the justice a little boy deserved. Today we are looking at that little boy, at Dumbledore’s failure and most importantly his knowledge of it.

Lily and James’ invisible friends
In the years between being found at the doorstep of the Dursleys and Harry setting a toe into the wizarding world a whole lot happens. Most of which we are never privy to. What we do learn is that Lily and James had friends that survived the war. People who knew them and loved them. We know this because they knew them well enough to have a supplied photo album worth of photos for Harry at the end of his first year. So where are all these people? The people supplying the photos are alive when Harry is eleven so why didn’t they go look for Baby Harry? Why did no one send him Birthday cards? Or presents? Why did no one ever look for Harry? I am not saying all of them should have but isn’t it at least a bit weird that no one did? I can see not feeling you are close enough to look for the child but especially after eleven after you supplied photo’s you could have sent the child a letter surely that wouldn’t be too much to ask. These people knew his parents they knew Harry and Harry was the famous boy who lived. Surely even if it was out of a completely selfish desire. The magical world would have tried. This makes me think they couldn’t find him, that no one knew where he was. Dumbledore never told anyone, he never forwarded any mail, any present, or any cards. He could have we know he could but he didn’t. Isn’t that at least a bit strange? Not letting Harry have any mail might have been to protect Harry. For him to live as a muggle but if that was the case why wasn’t he treated like any other muggle-born? Why was he only sent a letter? But it’s more than that, even when Harry knows who he is. He is never sent any mail not even hate mail. Where is all this mail? Between the murder attempt and Harry reading his letter, he has only been in ‘contact with’ Dumbledore, Hagrid, McGonagall, and Dedalus Diggle (among a few others that stop him on the street) the latter for a very short period of time. It all feels a bit too deliberate to be comfortable. There must be mail because people like Ginny Weasley would have sent him hundreds of letters, so where are these letters? And why did Harry never get them? Because within this fan mail must be at least one letter from James and Lily’s invisible friends. Let’s go back to where it all began that cold doorstep in November.

Harry Potter and the Dursleys
How would you feel if you woke up and there was a child on your doorstep? One you never met, mind you. The baby has a letter with them, explaining that this is your sister’s child who was killed in a war that you didn’t know was happening. You are a muggle that hasn’t seen her sister for years so it’s safe to say you didn’t know anything about any war. The child was the only person that didn’t die and you are the only family that can be its guardian. You have some contact with your sister, you send each other Christmas gifts. You know she has other friends and people around her. It baffles you, that you someone who does not like magic have to take care of this child and protect him from the bad guys who want to kill him. You and your family are now in danger because of this child and the sister you haven’t liked since she was eleven.

I do not like Petunia Dursley, I think she is a vile woman but we are being fair to her by saying that leaving a child on a doorstep is a stupid thing to do. She is his relative, she doesn’t know her sister died and she learns this through a letter. The Aurors didn’t even notify the next of kin that the Potter family was dead. Not only that but James’ family has died and so has Lily’s but this doesn’t mean the child has to go to Petunia. There are so many other family members Harry could have gone to. I said it before and I’ll say it again why is Albus Dumbledore’s choice in the first place? For all the family Harry has we at least know that Dumbledore’ isn’t his family. It makes no sense for him to be the one to dictate everything. Imagine this ‘I was at the scene of the crime first. So, I’ll be in charge it’s ridiculous. If Albus Dumbledore knew Lily and James as well as he wants Harry to believe he would have known that Lily and her sister didn’t get on. He should have at least checked up on Harry but he didn’t. We can put that on his doorstep, you cannot take charge of a child and then put all the responsibility you yourself assigned in the bin while proclaiming you are taking responsibility that is not how it works. In addition, the Dursleys cannot be blamed for not telling Harry about Magic. (They can and should be blamed for punishing him after using accidental magic though). Because imagine telling a little boy he might be a Wizard but there is no way for you to know if he is because you are a muggle. He might be going about at school telling stories and showing things that shouldn’t happen. The reason they want it to be a secret is silly because they are afraid of it nothing more. Yet, magic is supposed to be a secret so they aren’t wrong about that. Petunia at least knows this as she had to keep it a secret throughout her childhood. Petunia Dursley was put into this scary situation and she wasn’t given a choice. Petunia was in low contact with her family for a reason we might find her being scared silly but her whole family was dead before she was the age of 30. It doesn’t matter if magic was at fault or if Lily truly was the golden child. It was how Petunia felt and it was her right to be no contact with her family. Besides she should have been told to her face, that Harry was now her responsibility, she should have also had a person to call upon if she was overwhelmed or if she didn’t know what to do. Petunia Evans might have been a bad person but Harry deserved for her to have all the tools to care for him.

Even if we believe that Harry should be at the Dursleys in the first place (which I for one do not) there is no reason to just put him on the doorstep and just leave him there (especially overnight, also stupid, he might have died from hypothermia). It was Dumbledore who decided that Harry should be with the Dursleys, that he would be protected there. That the best place for Baby Harry would be with his Aunt and Uncle he has never met. Putting the financial and emotional strain on a family that did not want him there in the first place (again it doesn’t excuse anything but explains some). When we first read the story, we think that it’s because there is no one else but this is not the case as we later learn. So yes, leaving Harry at that doorstep and never properly explaining anything to two people who do not harbor any love for the child’s parents? That’s wrong and it’s Dumbledore’s decision. Especially if we think about the absolute distress this child must have been in for months seeing a murder take place, being in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people. For those reasons alone we know it wasn’t the best place for Harry.

The neighbor who didn’t care
I know the argument. Harry had to be and stay at the Dursleys to be protected from the death eaters. But… Sirius could have left to live in the muggle world, he could have gone to another country be it far away like America, or closer like France. He didn’t have any friends as no one cared to get him out of prison. No one would be looking for them and Sirius or any other wizard could protect baby Harry with magic. Petunia and Vernon Dursley couldn’t have protected him even if they had wanted to. Which brings me to Arabella Figg. She is, on my list and it’s not a good spot. This woman has lied to Harry since he was a child, not only that but she was aware of the abuse and didn’t do anything. She is one of the truest villains of the story. Maybe she did tell someone about the abuse. Maybe she told the person who put him there. Who was that again? Right Albus Dumbledore. But if she did tell him, he didn’t do anything and she in turn never cared enough to follow up. It’s strange isn’t it, to be so neglectful to a baby. This woman knows the magical world, she knows Harry is mistreated. She either doesn’t care or Dumbledore doesn’t care and she does not care that he doesn’t. Nothing stood in her way of going to the aurors, to ask for inquiry. She could send an anonymous owl. There are a hundred things she could have done to help a defenseless child being abused but she did none of them. She even deliberately made Harry’s time at her home not very fun, she has excuses for this of course but there all stupid. She had unrestricted access to this child for hours at a time and she did nothing to help him. Harry being 6 onwards could have understood that he should not tell his ‘family’ what it was like to stay at Mrs. Figg’s house.

The Muggles
The most interesting thing about Harry ‘fighting’ for the side of the muggles is that he meets one nice muggle throughout the whole series. Not only in the books but in the movie as well. In the first book he meets a nice girl at the ice cream van at the Zoo who asked what he wanted before Vernon could pull him away. In the movie, he meets a girl at a coffee shop at the tube who he stands up due to the arrival of Dumbledore and she is pretty nice (it’s the half-blood prince, film 6). How do we know this is the only nice muggle he has met? He has no friends at school due to Dudley, his muggle life in the summer remains very small he is at home or the park alone. He has been abused all his life and the teachers and neighbours didn’t care enough to call the authorities so they aren’t his friends. We can safely say that this boy never met a nice muggle in his life, except for that one girl at either 11 or 16. We know about seventeen years of his life and he meets one nice muggle. I’m sorry but if he wasn’t dragged into this war we might have had a whole other story. Dumbledore is lucky I suppose that Harry has such strong morals.

It’s hard I think to explain fully the absolute horror that is the Harry Potter books. Abuse is played for comic relief (hitting someone with a frying pan is common in older cartoons). All of it is more of a joke and it tapers off as well in later books. It might be because of the threats made against the Dursleys or the earlier perceived threat of a one-the-lose murderous Godfather. I think if I am honest that the author wrote herself into a bind. The book plays out in the 80’s and came out in 1997. Back in the day society thought differently about mental health and abuse. There wasn’t as much awareness about mental health back in the day. If we turn the clock back far enough, teachers used to strike their students it’s unheard of today and will result in a teacher being stripped of their license and probably sent straight to jail. We can talk long and short about it but Harry was abused. I can give an example of Harry being used to ‘periods of starvation’, being locked in with bars on the window and locks on the door. Or the fact that this boy’s bedroom was a closet under the stairs. He didn’t have his own clothes but wore his cousin’s hand-me-downs. Now second-hand clothes aren’t a bad thing and of course, families do what they have to do. But such families don’t have two empty bedrooms or give their own child 36 presents for their birthday. That last thing alone is serious emotional abuse. Not only that but Harry isn’t told anything about his family and he is told they died in a car crash. They didn’t have to say anything about magic for him to be told. Your parent died by an unknown killer in your house and he didn’t interact with you. A bit of a lie sure but not all the way. It would be a muggle version of events if you will. Harry could have been very afraid of cars and the road with this lie for no reason. Especially because he clearly walks to school as is common, it’s simply cruel.

Then there was physical abuse, he was chased in a tree by a dog and his cousin used to beat him up so frequently that they called it a game and named it. We don’t know exactly what went on in that house for 10 years but in the words of Albus Dumbledore: “Five years ago, then,” continued Dumbledore, as though he had not paused in his story, “you arrived at Hogwarts, neither as happy nor as well-nourished as I would have liked, perhaps, yet alive and healthy. You were not a pampered little prince, but as normal a boy as I could have hoped under the circumstances.” (OOTF: 37,771) That I think says enough. Dumbledore knew he was abused but he turned a blind eye. Harry was ‘small and skinny’ so the whole ‘healthy’ thing is turning a blind eye especially coupled with not as well-nourished. There is no such middle ground if you are not well-nourished you are not healthy. He also wasn’t happy but that didn’t matter to Dumbledore for the six summers that would follow. At the point of these observations when Harry was eleven Dumbledore and everyone with eyes knew he was abused but no one cared enough to help Harry. But that obviously doesn’t work because then at 15 Harry would think on these words, become independent, and maybe even defiant so…

Dumbledore decides to address the abuse the night Harry leaves. When he only has one more summer in that horrid house. Because of course, he has to go back. But why does Dumbledore help Harry now? Harry feels good about this and thus about Dumbledore. The crisis of a deviant Harry averted. I mean before the summer he was quite angry with Dumbledore, right? But now today he is a hero standing up for Harry (HPB: 3, 46). He does it now when say it with me: When it doesn’t matter anymore. Once again stereotypical Dumbledore swooping in when it doesn’t matter anymore but making people feel like it did. All to be once again be hailed as a hero.

Make no mistake Harry is abused because Harry at 15 says ‘She doesn’t love me. She doesn’t give a damn’. Imagine being so cruel to think this is alright. To not even for a second think you effed up big time. Harry believes rightly so that his primary caregiver doesn’t love him and what does Dumbledore do? He does nothing because he doesn’t care. Because he says “But she took you,” Dumbledore cut across him. “She may have taken you grudgingly, furiously, unwillingly, bitterly, yet still she took you, and in doing so, she sealed the charm I placed upon you. Your mother’s sacrifice made the bond of blood the strongest shield I could give you.” (OOTF: 37,769). And that might have been enough for magic but it wasn’t right and it wasn’t enough for 15-month-old Harry. A Harry who lost everyone he ever knew, who was aware enough of the murder of his mother to still dream about it ten years later. In fact, Harry is so happy at Privet Drive that it takes him two months to describe living at Hogwarts as “felt more like home than Privet Drive had ever done” (PS, 10, 183). He is seriously surprised he gets presents for Christmas (PS: 12, 214), we know Dudley gets presents if only Harry was famous enough to get presents without costing the Dursleys a single penny. But of course, those presents never arrived at Harry’s house so he went his life without. Which is once again abuse and this time it’s all Dumbledore’s fault. But thank goodness he isn’t a pampered prince. I mean being hit over the head with a pan and sleeping in a cupboard is much better. Albus Dumbledore clearly doesn’t understand the effects abuse can have on someone nor does he care to find out. He also doesn’t seem to realize that there are more options than being abused or being a pampered prince. Or he does understand and know but doesn’t care enough about Harry to make his life a bit better. But of course that would make him even more awful than he already is.

It took me a long while to gather my thoughts and write them down. There is no excuse for abuse and it makes me furious to even think about. It’s interesting how Dumbledore in the books is viewed in the context of the story. And how we as the reader view him. I have seen it has gotten better but a lot of people still go to war for him so to say. It’s a painful window into the way we treat authority figures in our lives and what they get away with. Abuse is never okay, sending someone back to a place to be abused isn’t alright. It wasn’t alright in 1981, it wasn’t okay in 1997 and it sure isn’t okay today. Petunia Dursley never wanted to care for Harry Potter, Sirius Black wanted nothing more than to care for Harry Potter. But Albus Dumbledore decided what he wanted was more important than anything and anyone else so he kidnapped a child and dumped him on a doorstep in November. He then turned his back on the child for ten years and every summer after that for the rest of his life. You can love Dumbledore all you want but there is no excuse to make this right. Turning a blind eye to abuse isn’t alright and there is no excuse in any world to make it alright. No blood wards would be worth the physical and emotional well-being of any child but a 15-month-old who witnessed a murder and saved the world specifically. If we take these ten years of Harry Potter’s life starting on the first of November of 1981 and ending the day before he gets his letter in 1991. We know one thing, Albus Dumbledore is the villain of this story.


Read the rest of the series:
Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3

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