"Did you actually believe, or are you truly naive enough to think, that children stood a chance against us? I'll make this simple for you, Potter. Give me the prophecy now... or watch your friends die."
Lucius Malfoy to Harry Potter in the Death Chamber[src]

The Battle of the Department of Mysteries was the first major conflict of the Second Wizard War. It took place on 18 June, 1996, after Lord Voldemort lured Harry Potter and five of his fellow members of Dumbledore's Army to the Department of Mysteries, with six members of the Order of the Phoenix later coming to their rescue. In the skirmish, the prophecy was destroyed, Voldemort was seen by the Minister for Magic himself, eleven of the Death Eaters were captured, and Sirius Black was killed by his cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange. The battle resulted in Voldemort's return being made public and the Ministry of Magic finally taking action against his rising power.

Background[edit | edit source]

Prophecy[edit | edit source]

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...."
Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy, concerning Voldemort and Harry Potter[src]

At the height of the First Wizard War, Sybill Trelawney made a prophecy predicting the coming of the only person who could defeat Lord Voldemort. This prophecy was heard in its entirety by Albus Dumbledore and overheard by Severus Snape (who was still a Death Eater at the time). Snape later informed Lord Voldemort of the prophecy, not knowing that the "Chosen One" Trelawney had prophesized would in fact be Harry Potter, the child of Lily Evans (with whom Snape was in love with). When he realized his grave mistake, Snape warned Dumbledore of the approaching danger. On Halloween of 1981, their location was revealed to the Dark Lord, and after killing Harry's parents, he attempted to kill the infant, but the Killing Curse rebounded and his power was broken.

When Voldemort returned in 1995 and failed to kill Harry for the second time, because of Priori Incantatem on this occasion, he became determined to hear the full prophecy, believing it to contain the secret of destroying Harry Potter, a record of which was kept in the Department of Mysteries.[1]

Attempts at theft[edit | edit source]

File:Daily Prophet Azkaban Breakout.jpg

The Daily Prophet announces the Azkaban breakout.

"We have confirmed that ten-high security prisoners in the early hours of yesterday evening had escaped. And of course the Muggle Prime Minister has been alerted to the danger. There is convincing evidence that the escape was engineered by a man who has experienced to escape from Azkaban, notorious mass murderer Sirius Black, cousin of the escapee, Bellatrix Lestrange."
Cornelius Fudge announces the 1996 Azkaban breakout[src]

Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville Longbottom had escaped the Inquisitorial Squad.[2]

Hermione and Harry were covered in blood the fracas in the Forbidden Forest, which lured Thestrals. The six DA members rode them to the Ministry of Magic to try to rescue Sirius Black.[3]

The Battle[edit | edit source]

The Department of Mysteries[edit | edit source]

From left to right: Ron, Luna, Neville, Hermione, Harry, and Ginny in the Department of Mysteries.


Lucius Malfoy confronting Harry and his friends.

The group flew to the Ministry, where they descended to Level 9 and down the corridor to the Department of Mysteries. They found themselves in the Entrance, with 12 identical, black, handle-less doors. When the door behind them closes, the walls spin, and the doors are put in different places. They go through one, which turns out to be the Brain Room, and goes back to the Entrance Room and try another, which turns out to be the Death Chamber. The next door they try won't open by any means of enchanment, but the next room, the Time Chamber, contains the glittering lights from Harry's dreams. Once in this room, they take another door to the Hall of Prophecy,but don't find Sirius there. In the row where Sirius was supposed to be, he spotted an orb with his and the Dark Lord’s names and picked it up. This prompted twelve Death Eaters – Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange, Antonin Dolohov, Avery, Walden Macnair, Crabbe, Nott, Augustus Rookwood, Jugdon, Mulciber, second-in-command Bellatrix Lestrange, and leader Lucius Malfoy – to emerge from the shadows and demand that Harry give them the prophecy.[3]

Battle in the Hall of Prophecy[edit | edit source]

Harry attempts to buy time by mocking Voldemort in front of his Death Eaters and infuriating Bellatrix, yet Lucius stops her from killing Potter, not through defence, but so he can protect the prophecy. In their argument, Lucius and Bellatrix break two prophecies, which turn into wraiths and recite the prophecies which forever remain unheard. Harry still refuses to hand over the prophecy, so Lucius begins to tease him that the prophecy holds the answer to his scar, Voldemort's wishes to kill him, and the cause of the war.

Just then, on Harry’s signal, the six D.A. members all used the Reductor Curse to smash the shelves of prophecies, distracting the Death Eaters so that they could flee. As they ran, Nott grabbed Harry’s arm, but was stunned by Hermione and subsequently injured by the collapsing shelves. Harry, Hermione, and Neville fled into the Time Chamber pursued by two Death Eaters and seal the door behind them, but then realised they have been separated from the other three.[4]

Pursuit[edit | edit source]

"We'll split into pairs and search, and don't forget, be gentle with Potter until we've got the prophecy, you can kill the others if necessary..."
Lucius Malfoy to his fellow Death Eaters[src]

D.A. members fighting Death Eaters.

In the Time Chamber, Harry stunned one of the Death Eaters pursuing him, Neville, and Hermione and tackled the other when he attempted to use the Killing Curse on Hermione. Neville accidentally disarmed both the Death Eater and Harry, but before the Death Eater could retrieve his wand, Hermione stunned him. He was knocked into a bell jar that made his head turn into that of a baby, and then back into an adult, continuously ageing and de-aeing.

The three then ran into an office of the Time Chamber, where they were struck with Impediment Jinxes by Death Eaters eventually identified as Antonin Dolohov and Jugson. Hermione silenced Dolohov to prevent him from alerting the other Death Eaters as to their location, and Harry placed Jugson in a Full Body-Bind Curse. Dolohov then struck Hermione with an unnamed curse that incapacitated her for the rest of the battle. He broke Neville’s wand and nose and wordlessly threatened Harry, but was distracted by the Death Eater with the baby head, giving Harry the chance to Body-Bind him.

Neville took Hermione’s wand and carried her as he and Harry met up with Ron, Ginny, and Luna in the Brain Room. Ron had been hit by a curse that made him highly confused – possibly the Confundus Charm – and Ginny’s ankle was broken, leaving her pale and in shock. They had managed to get away from the Death Eaters chasing them because Luna used the Reductor Curse on the model of the planet Pluto in the Space Chamber to injure their pursuers. While the students regrouped, the Death Eaters did as well, bringing many of their number out of incapacitating curses.

"Let’s see how long Longbottom lasts before he cracks like his parents…unless Potter wants to give us the prophecy."
Bellatrix Lestrange gleefully threatens Neville with the Cruciatus Curse[src]
File:Battle of the Department of Mysteries 1.jpg

D.A during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries

The group was then discovered by several Death Eaters, including Bellatrix Lestrange, in the circular entrance room with the many doors. They burst into the Brain Room. Harry, Neville and Luna attempted to seal the doors but Death Eaters still managed to get in. Luna was blasted with Stunning Spells. Ron, in his confused state, summoned a brain from the tank and was injured by it as it attempted to strangle him. Ginny was then Stunned. In a desperate attempt to draw the Death Eaters away from his injured friends, Harry sprinted deep into the Death Chamber, where he was cornered by ten Death Eaters. When Neville arrived to help, Bellatrix briefly used the Cruciatus Curse on him in an attempt to coerce Harry into handing over the prophecy.[4]

The Death Chamber Standoff and the Arrival of the Order of the Phoenix[edit | edit source]

Antonin Dolohov and Lucius Malfoy firing curses at Harry and Sirius.

"Get away from my godson."
Sirius Black to Lucius Malfoy[src]

Just as Harry was about to hand the prophecy to Lucius Malfoy, Sirius Black, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alastor Moody of the Order of the Phoenix arrived, and the battle resumed.

Tonks fired a Stunning Spell at Lucius Malfoy giving Harry and Neville enough time to escape from Lucius, but Harry was then grabbed from behind by Walden Macnair. Neville jabbed Hermione's wand hard into the eyehole of the Death Eater's mask, making him release Harry with a "howl of pain". Harry stunned him, only to be cornered by Dolohov, who had defeated and injured Moody. Dolohov hit Neville with the Tarantallegra curse and used the same curse he previously used on Hermione on Harry, though most of the harm was blocked by Harry’s Shield Charm. Before he could attack again, Sirius slammed into him and the two began to duel. Harry hit Dolohov with a Full Body-Bind Curse and Sirius ran off to duel Bellatrix, who had just defeated Tonks. In the meantime, Kingsley was duelling Rookwood.

Once again, Harry and Neville tried to escape, but were stopped by Malfoy. Harry passed Neville the prophecy and then used an Impediment Jinx to knock Malfoy back. Before he could attack again, Remus jumped between them and told Harry and Neville to get the other D.A. members and leave. As they tried to do this, the prophecy fell through Neville's pocket and broke.

File:Photo 49.jpg

Bellatrix casts the curse that knocks Sirius to his death.


Bellatrix Lestrange - The Battle of the Department of Mysteries

At this moment, Albus Dumbledore arrived and most of the fighting stopped, and the Death Eaters that saw him arrive attempted to flee in fear of duelling him. Dumbledore quickly rounded up numerous Death Eaters, but Bellatrix and Sirius were still dueling. Bellatrix used a curse to knock her cousin into the Veil that separates the world of living from that of the dead, killing him. Remus prevented Harry from jumping after Sirius, telling him that his godfather was dead.[4]

Sirius is killed by Bellatrix Lestrange.

Bellatrix Lestrange: "Come out, come out, little Harry! What did you come after me for, then? I thought you were here to avenge my dear cousin!"
Harry Potter: "I am!"
Bellatrix Lestrange: "Aaaaaah…did you love him, little baby Potter?"
— Bellatrix taunts Harry about her murder of Sirius[src]

Harry pursued Bellatrix and attempted to use the Cruciatus Curse on her in retaliation for her murder of Sirius. He only caused her a brief moment of pain, however, as he was unable to summon enough malice to make the Unforgivable Curse successful. Bellatrix attempted to curse Harry, but they were interrupted by the arrival of Lord Voldemort.[5]


Voldemort and Dumbledore duelling.

Duel in the Ministry Atrium[edit | edit source]

Dumbledore: "It was foolish to come here tonight, Tom. The Aurors are on their way."
Voldemort: "By which time I shall be gone, and you will be dead!"
— Dumbledore and Voldemort face off[src]

Voldemort attempted to hit Harry with the Killing Curse, but the blow was prevented; Dumbledore arrived and animated a golden statue to cover Harry and shield him from the curse. He animated the other statues from the Fountain of Magical Brethren to immobilise Bellatrix and warn Ministry officials. Voldemort and Dumbledore dueled, Fawkes taking a Killing Curse for Dumbledore at one point; as a phoenix, the curse caused him to burst into flames and instantly to be reborn.

Throughout the battle Dumbledore dominated marginally despite outlining his peaceful intentions whilst Voldemort, fuelled by rage, struggled to penetrate Dumbledore's defencss whilst suffering against the latter's own stream of assaults.

Voldemort briefly possessed Harry, hoping that Dumbledore would sacrifice the teenager in an attempt to kill him. However, as Harry dwelt on his grief for his late godfather, the power of his love forced Voldemort to release him. Voldemort took Bellatrix with him as he fled, but not before he was seen by Ministry officials, including Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge.[5]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

"Merlin’s beard – here – here! – in the Ministry of Magic! – great heavens above – it doesn’t seem possible – my word – how can this be-?"
Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge’s reaction to seeing Voldemort[src]

Minister Cornelius Fudge sees Lord Voldemort.

Of the twelve Death Eaters who broke into the Department of Mysteries, all of them but Bellatrix Lestrange were captured and sent to Azkaban. They failed in their aim to seize the prophecy made about Harry Potter and Voldemort, but Dumbledore would subsequently tell Harry of its content and importance[1].

The Order of the Phoenix suffered the loss of Sirius Black as well as several injuries. Mad-Eye Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, and Kingsley Shacklebolt were all injured, but recovered. Ginny Weasley’s broken ankle and Neville Longbottom’s broken nose were quickly repaired by Hogwarts nurse Poppy Pomfrey, and Neville eventually got a new wand. Ron Weasley had welts for some time from the brains that grabbed him, but they faded with time and treatment. Hermione Granger had to take ten potions a day to treat the curse she was struck with, which might have been fatal had Antonin Dolohov been able to speak it alou, but made a full recovery.

File:Daily Prophet Voldemort Returns.JPG

The Daily Prophet confirms Voldemort's return.

Harry felt great grief and guilt over the death of his godfather, blaming himself. But Ron and Hermione were there when he needed them to help him to come to terms with Sirius's death. It was mentioned that Ron was there to comfort him in his period of mourning more than anyone else. He was also angry at Severus Snape for what he perceived as only belatedly assisting Harry and the Order, and at Dumbledore for not telling him about the prophecy ahead of time. He was also upset to learn that he must be the one to kill Voldemort.

After the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, the Ministry of Magic was forced to admit to the public that Dumbledore and Harry had been right all along, and that Voldemort had returned. Dolores Umbridge was removed from Hogwarts and Dumbledore was reinstated as Headmaster, as well as in all his other positions. The ineffectual Cornelius Fudge was soon replaced by the more proactive Rufus Scrimgeour as Minister for Magic.

This battle marked the beginning of open war in the wizarding world.[6]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

The film version of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries differs significantly from the novel. Namely:

File:Lucius Smashed Prophecy.jpg

Lucius accidentally smashes the prophecy.

  • The D.A. members are pursued mostly within the Hall of Prophecies, do not split up, and use mostly different spells — for example, Luna Lovegood uses a verbally-incanted version of Levicorpus against a Death Eater.
  • Ginny Weasley's ankle is not broken.
  • Neville Longbottom's nose and wand are not broken.
  • Ron Weasley is not cursed to be disoriented or injured by brains.
  • Luna Lovegood is not stunned.
  • In the Death Chamber, all the D.A. members but Harry Potter are captured and held at wand-point by Death Eaters.
  • Death Eater Travers is added to the battle holding Ginny Weasley hostage.
  • Rabastan Lestrange, Rodolphus Lestrange, Avery and Nott are unidentified. (It is possible Richard Trinder played Rodolphus, however it is unknown who played the other three.)
  • Bellatrix Lestrange does not use the Cruciatus Curse on Neville.
  • When the Order of the Phoenix arrives, Sirius Black punches Lucius Malfoy in the face.
  • Lucius, rather than Neville, accidentally smashes the prophecy orb.
  • Bellatrix knows the prophecy is smashed rather than not knowing when she plays with Harry in the Atrium saying he has it before Voldemort tells her the truth after appearing.
  • Harry duels alongside Sirius against Lucius Malfoy and Antonin Dolohov non-verbally, but he is not taught to do non-verbal incantations before sixth year.
  • Sirius calls Harry "James", a slip of the tongue, referring to his friendship with Harry's father.
  • Bellatrix abruptly kills Sirius with the Killing Curse, which then pushes him into the Veil, rather than with an unknown curse during a duel.
  • Albus Dumbledore appears in the Ministry Atrium after Sirius's death rather than in the Death Chamber before Sirius dies.
  • Bellatrix escapes by using the Floo Network as soon as Dumbledore arrives, instead of Disapparating with Voldemort after his duel with Dumbledore.
  • It is Harry's love for his friends and godfather, rather than his grief over the latter's death, that frees him from Voldemort's possession.
  • Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna are in the Atrium when Voldemort flees the Ministry.
  • While filming this scene, Helena Bonham Carter accidentaly ruptured Matthew Lewis's eardrum by sticking her wand in his ear.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

File:Half-Blood Prince opening.gif

Harry Potter and Prof. Albus Dumbledore in front of wizarding world media just after the battle in the Department of Mysteries.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 37
  2. Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 33
  3. 3.0 3.1 Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 34
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 35
  5. 5.0 5.1 Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 36
  6. Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 38
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