Mundungus1 Fletcher (Mundungus) is a low-life sneak thief. He counts as his friends other thieves and underworld connections, which Dumbledore and the Weasley twins find invaluable. Mundungus is Dumbledore’s friend in low places – he makes it possible for Dumbledore to connect with that element of the wizarding community.
Given that Mundungus ransacked Grimmauld Place shortly after Sirius’ death, just about every fan suspects him of stealing the heavy locket (a likely Horcrux). Mind you, such an action is shockingly reprehensible, but for a guy like Mundungus, who seems to have no concept of ethics, he would figure that Sirius wouldn’t miss a few heirlooms where he was going.
Two critical issues center around Mundungus. The first is the aforementioned possible theft of the Horcrux locket; I will not tackle this issue here. The second, however, is his previous role in the old Order of the Phoenix. This matters because he may have been present at Godric’s Hollow the night the Potters were killed.
Providing A Quick Background of a Shady Kind of Guy
We first hear about Mundungus in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Arthur Weasley (Arthur) refers to Mundungus as trying to hex him while his back was turned during one of Arthur’s nine raids.2 In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he tries to put one over on Percy Weasley by putting in a claim for a 12-roomed tent with en-suite Jacuzzi when he actually slept under a cloak propped up with sticks.3 Obviously Mundungus is, at best, a dodgy character.
At the end of Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore sends Sirius off to gather the “old crowd” 4 for purposes of fighting Voldemort once again. He mentions Mundungus as one of the “old crowd.” Therefore, it is clear Mundungus was either in the original Order of the Phoenix (the Order) or served as one of Dumbledore’s contacts during the first wizard war. It is more likely than not, however, that he was a member of the Order the first time around.
Dumbledore trusted him enough to allow him into the new Order, and gave him the task of guarding Harry with the use of Moody’s Invisibility Cloak. Mundungus, however, acted true to form and instead of keeping an eye on Harry, Apparated to some unknown location to buy stolen cauldrons – a business opportunity too good for him to resist.5
Mundungus returned from buying stolen cauldrons and had the mingled stench of alcohol and tobacco upon his person. In his hands he carried the cloak. He had bloodshot, baggy eyes; long, straggly, ginger hair; grubby hands, and dressed in tatters. Overall, he looked like a baleful Basset hound.6 After Mrs. Figg gave Mundungus the beat-down he so clearly deserved, he Apparated to Dumbledore and told him of the dementor attack on Harry.7 As a result, Dumbledore and the Order quickly took action to prevent Harry’s expulsion from Hogwarts or confiscation of his wand by the Ministry.
Mundungus likely got quite the rebuke from Dumbledore as, according to Hermione, Dumbledore was scary in his anger.8 Nonetheless, Dumbledore still trusted Mundungus to keep an eye on Harry during his fifth year at Hogwarts. Mundungus disguised himself as a witch under a veil to get into the Hog’s Head from which he had been banned.9
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, during the dinner scene at Grimmauld Place, Mundungus casually asked Sirius if the goblets used at dinner were real silver. He even mumbled that it would be possible to erase the Black family crest from the goblets.10 Simply put, as he sat at Sirius’ table, he openly appraised Sirius’ silverware. Clearly, he was calculating another “business opportunity.”
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, on a weekend trip to Hogsmeade, Harry caught Mundungus chatting with Aberforth outside the Three Broomsticks. Mundungus had stolen the Black goblets, which now belonged to Harry, and was trying to sell them. Mundungus ransacked Grimmauld Place right after Sirius’ death and stole anything that looked valuable.11 Perhaps including a certain locket. Mundungus was obviously absent for any lesson involving right and wrong. Still, Dumbledore had enough faith in Mundungus to let him into the old and new Orders.
By the end of Half-Blood Prince, however, it appears Mundungus may have worn out his welcome with and been cut loose by the Order. Mundungus was arrested for impersonating an Inferius during a robbery, which went awry.12 After stealing some of Harry’s inheritance, it seems unlikely that anyone in the Order would go out of his or her way to keep him out of Azkaban by putting in a good word for him – including Dumbledore.
Mundungus’s recurring presence in the series is a sign of his importance. He was referenced in Chamber of Secrets long before we really meet him in Order of the Phoenix. This early conception by Jo Rowling and the fact that we know for sure he was part of the “old crowd” indicates he may have played a more fundamental part of the story than we currently know. He is also comic relief in the story. Though I personally find his hijinks reprehensible, it is still humorous to most readers and this could be a distraction from his later importance in the story; perhaps being one of Jo Rowling’s famous red herrings.
What Was Dumbledore’s Plan for Protecting the Potters?
Jo Rowling has told us a critically important question to consider is why Dumbledore had an Invisibility Cloak as he did not need one to become invisible. On her website (under the heading NAQ, which stands for Never Asked Questions) she says:
Why did Dumbledore have James’ invisibility cloak at the time of James’ death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak?
Prior to posting this I had a quick look on-line, and realised that some fans have been speculating about this question. However, nobody has ever asked me about it, and they really should have done. Just to allay the fears of the justifiably suspicious, this isn’t what we in the know call ‘a Mark Evans situation.’ There IS a significant – even crucial – answer.13
It seems unbelievable that, once Dumbledore knew of the Prophecy, the only safety measure he took to protect the Potters and the Longbottoms was to suggest the Fidelius Charm. No, Dumbledore would have done a lot more than that. He likely added alarms such as an Intruder Charm, jinxes, and hexes to trip up potential Death Eaters. Naturally, there would have been charms to make the Potter home in Godric’s Hollow unplottable. But, nothing works as well as a human guard to keep an eye on things. For this, James’ Invisibility Cloak would have been invaluable. I suggest that this is the answer to the Never Asked Question.
Dumbledore would never require any of the Order members to take on a slew of Death Eaters or Lord Voldemort on his or her own. Had Death Eaters or Lord Voldemort come to Godric’s Hollow, the Order member on guard duty would have alerted the other Order members and together they would have been the first line of defense. The guard could either Apparate directly to Dumbledore or use his or her Patronus to alert the Order. Once the alarm was raised, the Order would converge on Godric’s Hollow and either defend the Potters or give them enough time to escape.
You might think there would be more than one Order member on guard duty, but that is not necessarily so. This was not a large group and they were protecting more than one family. The Longbottoms were in need of similar protection. It would have been unconscionable for Dumbledore to leave them unprotected given the Prophecy could have applied to Neville as much as Harry. That would have split the Order members and they had other things to do during the first war. Remember, in Order of the Phoenix, they performed individual guard duties over both Harry and the prophecy.
So who was the guard the night the Potters were killed? Of course, almost any Order member might have been under the Cloak that night and it is impossible to eliminate all of them from consideration. Surely if it was someone that knows Harry well, such as Arthur or Lupin, they would have mentioned witnessing the murder of Harry’s parents. Because Jo feels this question is so important, it seems it must be someone that we have met, someone from whom information could be gleaned but who has not yet had the opportunity to reveal it. On her website, Jo Rowling shot down the idea of one particularly greasy-haired professor being under the cloak.14
One possibility is that this person was Aberforth Dumbledore. Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about this character (which likely means Jo will surprise us with him in Deathly Hallows). Because he is Albus’ brother it is possible he can become invisible without a cloak, though this is pure speculation.15
In all likelihood, if there was an Order member at Godric’s Hollow that night, hiding under James’ Cloak, my money is on Mundungus. We know Mundungus used Moody’s Invisibility Cloak to perform guard duty over Harry in Order of the Phoenix.16 Perhaps tailing Harry around Privet Drive was not the first time Mundungus had guard duty over a Potter family member. After all, he is just the type of character that might be harboring unrevealed knowledge of something important to Harry. And we already know Harry will probably be hunting him down to find the missing locket Horcrux.
If he was on guard duty the night the Potters were murdered, then more questions follow: Did he leave the Potters unprotected; did he Apparate back to Dumbledore; or did Voldemort somehow disable him?
Dereliction of Duty or a Successful Guard?
Come on, you know deep down inside you suspect that, if Mundungus had guard duty that night, he likely went off with the Invisibility Cloak to pursue more lucrative opportunities. Pettigrew with his own rat contacts might have given Mundungus a really hot and profitable tip. After all, Pettigrew has a talent for manipulation and misinformation. It would not be hard for the rat to talk Mundungus into it. Mundungus showed us in Order of the Phoenix that he would always place profit over duty at the drop of a knut.
But would Dumbledore have allowed Mundungus to return to the Order if he left the Potters unprotected? True, Dumbledore trusts where no one in their right mind ever would. But would dereliction of duty, which led to the death of James and Lily Potter, be something even Dumbledore could forgive to the point where he would allow Mundungus to watch over the last remaining Potter?
Dumbledore was not a naïve fool. Had Mundungus left the Potters unprotected that night, Dumbledore might have forgiven him. But Dumbledore would not trust Mundungus enough to have him watch over Harry years later. So, if he was indeed guarding the Potters, he must not have abandoned his post. But if Mundungus had been able to Apparate for help when Voldemort arrived at Godric’s Hollow, then surely Order members would have quickly arrived to assist the Potters. As this did not happen, we must assume that he was unable to carry out his duty as a guard.
What Would Lord Voldemort Do?
As I mentioned above, Dumbledore probably placed anti-Apparition protections on Godric’s Hollow. Notice in Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry relived the memory of that night, he hears a voice he believes is James' say: “Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off–” 17 James was surprised to find Lord Voldemort got through and into the house. The Potters did not think to Apparate, use Floo powder, or use a Portkey to escape. This implies they could not have done so.
Therefore, even though Pettigrew betrayed the location of his friends, the Dark Lord still could not Apparate directly into the Potters’ home – nor could the Potters use Apparition to escape. As such, Lord Voldemort would need to enter the house in a conventional manner, but would need to preserve the element of surprise to kill Harry.
Given that Pettigrew was a member of the old Order, he would have known of many of the additional safeguards implemented by Dumbledore. Certainly guard duty would require coordination between the Order members. Pettigrew would have been around for many of those meetings (the rat!). He would have given Lord Voldemort the benefit of all the information that he learned about the Potters and the measures taken to protect them, i.e., protections placed upon and around the house, including a watch guard. Even if Pettigrew did not speak of the protections on the house, surely Lord Voldemort would sense the presence of a witch or wizard hiding under an Invisibility Cloak as Dumbledore sensed the presence of the entrance to the cave in Half-Blood Prince.
Why not kill the watch guard rather than disabling him or her? While there are other explanations for why Lord Voldemort would not kill the guard that night, the most likely reason is that he wanted a witness to his act. The fact that the house was blown to bits18 would provide the ability for a guard, frozen outside the building under an Invisibility Cloak, to witness the events that occurred. Perhaps Voldemort blew the front of the house apart for the guard to provide an account of his victory to Dumbledore. Lord Voldemort is arrogant. He fully expected to kill Harry that night. His ego would want the world and Dumbledore to know what he had done. Disabling the person under the Invisibility Cloak, rather than killing the person would ensure Dumbledore knew Lord Voldemort prevailed. The Dark Lord could never resist wiping Dumbledore’s eye with Harry’s murder.
In Order of the Phoenix, Hermione thought Lucius Malfoy randomly cast the Imperius Curse while inside of the Ministry. Malfoy did that to catch anyone who might be under an Invisibility Cloak and so caught Sturgis Podmore.19 Upon arriving at Godric’s Hollow, it would have been a simple matter for a wizard of Lord Voldemort’s caliber to cast a blanket spell to disable anyone under an Invisibility Cloak. Given the powerful nature of Lord Voldemort and the expanse of his knowledge, it would also be possible for him to actually “see” someone like Mundungus under an Invisibility Cloak and to disable the guard. If Voldemort was accompanied by one or two Death Eaters, then he would have had one of them take care of the Potters’ guard.
Had Mundungus been frozen under the Cloak, he would have been powerless to Apparate for help until the events played themselves out. Once Lord Voldemort’s spell backfired and he was reduced to vapor, the spell on Mundungus probably would have lifted. Mundungus could Apparate to the Order’s headquarters and Dumbledore would take the necessary steps to secure Harry’s care until his start at Hogwarts.
How Does This Impact Deathly Hallows?
So, why is this so important to Deathly Hallows? The events at Godric’s Hollow and other details pertaining to the Potters’ deaths remain shrouded in mystery. After six books, we are left wondering: what other protections may have surrounded the Potters; how Lord Voldemort got past these protections; what methods the Potter’s used to fight him; who (if anyone) accompanied him; why Lily did not have to die; why Dumbledore trusted Snape’s claim to feel remorse over their deaths; how anyone could know where Godric’s Hollow was without knowing Peter Petigrew was secret keeper; how Dumbledore found out about what happened to them quickly enough to send Hagrid to fetch Harry; and whether Harry is one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. How can Harry learn all this? He was only one year old and while he has some memories of the murder, there is not enough there for him to have a real recollection.
We have seen a lot of usage of the Pensieve and bottled memories. Dumbledore used the Pensieve extensively in Half-Blood Prince to understand Tom Riddle. Dumbledore told Harry he spent a great deal of time retracing Lord Voldemort’s steps and acquiring those memories.20 His focus was the acquisition and application of information and he took great pains to prepare Harry for what was coming. Harry was left without one glaring memory which involved Voldemort; the one in which Voldemort murders the Potters.
For Deathly Hallows, therefore, Harry needs to understand his parents and their murders. There is one way that all these questions could be answered; if a person was frozen under James’ Invisibility Cloak at Godric’s Hollow, this person could provide a Pensieve account of events. In this case, Dumbledore would surely have viewed a memory of the event. If he did, then he did not tell Harry. Dumbledore might have chosen to keep a memory like this from Harry if he felt it would be too difficult for Harry to witness. Witnessing the murder of one’s parents would be terrible and Dumbledore was prone to protecting Harry from that sort of trauma.21 Also, whatever Dumbledore knew about Snape, he chose in Half-Blood Prince to keep it to himself, this implies that it is personal.22 Though Snape was not, himself, under the cloak at Godric’s Hollow, he may have either come with Voldemort or arrived afterwards. Therefore, Mundungus may have witnessed the reason for Dumbledore’s trust in Snape. If Dumbledore felt this reason was too painful or personal, he might have kept it from Harry.
Perhaps those who knew Godric’s Hollow was the location of the Potters’ hideout had a note written by Pettigrew that told them where the house was. It is possible that none of them recognized Pettigrew’s handwriting to realize Black didn’t write it. One can imagine Lord Voldemort Apparated to the street outside the Potters’ home on Halloween night 1981 and cast the Petrificus Totalus spell on Mundungus as he hid under the Invisibility Cloak. Then blew the front off the house to get to the Potters, ensuring his witness had a clear view of the scene as it unfolded.
The memory could then show what methods James and Lily used to fight Lord Voldemort. Possibly Lord Voldemort would reveal why he was willing to give Lily a choice himself, in his own words. Perhaps Lord Voldemort performed some actions that related to the creation of or hiding of a Horcrux.
Lord Voldemort may have brought Snape with him to Godric’s Hollow.23 But any memory of Snape’s behavior would have to be ambiguous, i.e., show something Dumbledore would interpret one way and Voldemort another, to ensure the trust of both through the series.
One explanation of this is that Snape entered the scene after Lord Voldemort did, perhaps even after the Potters had been murdered.24, 25 If Snape intended to save Lily and not James, for whatever reason, he might have reacted physically to Lily’s death. Mundungus may have witnessed Snape expressing an emotional response that looked as though he either loved Lily or simply cared that it was his fault the Potters died; if this was after Voldemort’s defeat than Voldemort would not know this, but Dumbledore would. It might be a very compelling reason for Dumbledore to trust Snape; it would have appeared he rushed to the scene to save the Potters and that he was remorseful at their deaths. Please note that though Dumbledore could have been right in this interpretation of such an action, it is also possible that he misconstrued Snape’s response in some way. The point is that Dumbledore might have chosen not to share this knowledge of Snape’s behavior with Harry to avoid showing him the memory of the death of his parents.
What is the Answer to the NAQ?
Given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak, why did he have James’ Invisibility Cloak? To answer this question (Jo’s question), we can say that someone, probably Mundungus Fletcher, was hiding under that Invisibility Cloak when the Potters were killed and he then gave it to Dumbledore when he no longer needed it. A person hiding frozen under the cloak at Godric’s Hollow could tell Harry about the sequence of events immediately before and after the murder of his parents, and from this person readers could learn the answers to a slew of questions. The best way to get this information would then be to use the Pensieve to view the memories of the person hiding under the Invisibility Cloak. Mundungus, who deals in information, would gladly give up such memories in exchange for Harry helping him out of Azkaban. Thus, it is my opinion that there is one person who can complete Harry’s education on the actions of Voldemort and Snape the night of the murder. That person is Mundungus Fletcher.
1. From Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: “Mundungus” a modification of the Spanish word for tripe–mondongo; also means a foul-smelling tobacco. Given that he has a stench about him of burnt socks, his name really fits. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
2. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 34.
3. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 151.
4. Ibid., 713.
5. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 22-23.
6. Ibid., 22.
7. Ibid., 23.
8. Ibid., 64.
9. Ibid., 370.
10. Ibid., 83.
11. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 246-47.
12. Ibid., 457.
13. J.K. Rowling’s Official Site, “Extra Stuff.”
14. Ibid., “Rumours.”
15. birthday twins, “The Amazing Invisible Dumbledores.”
16. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 22.
17. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 240.
18. Ibid., Philosopher’s Stone, 16.
19. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 588-9.
20. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 504.
21. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 826-39.
22. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 358-9.
23. Remember, Jo only said Snape was not under the Invisibility Cloak, she did not deny his being at Godric’s Hollow. Depending on what Snape was doing within the memory, it would shed light on Snape’s loyalty.
24. Another example is that the memory might show Snape coming to Godric’s Hollow to purportedly keep an eye on Pettigrew–who might have lied about delivering the Potters to Voldemort. Once the guard was immobilized, Snape could appear to Dumbledore to plead for the Potters while Voldemort interprets the pleas as an exhortation: “Remember, my Lord, what I have told you about the Potters!” Such a statement to Dumbledore would mean Snape pleading for the Potters, i.e., there is no need to kill them. That same statement to Voldemort, however, would mean Snape reminding Voldemort that James and Harry were threats who should die while Lily should be spared and recruited.
25. Yet another possibility is that Snape is out for Snape. He craves glorification and is driven by vengeance. He wants the fame of defeating Voldemort. To achieve that glory, he systematically eliminated or profited from the elimination of anyone he thought might stand in his way, up to and including Dumbledore. Those steps began with the elimination of James–regardless of any “life-debt” owed. Which served his need for vengeance relating back to his worst memory. James and Sirius are dead. Lupin was outed as a werewolf and becomes a social pariah—as good as dead.
Birthday Twins. “The Amazing Invisible Dumbledores.” Scribbulus 18, The Leaky Cauldron. Member of the Floo Network. /features/essays/issue18/amazinginvisibleDD.
J.K. Rowling’s Official Site. “Section: Extra Stuff NAQ.” http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/extrastuff_view.cfm?id=23 (accessed 28 April 2007).
———, “Section: Rumours.” http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/rumours_view.cfm?id=46 (accessed 28 April 2007).
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, s.v. “mundungus.” http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/mundungus (accessed 28 April 2007).
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.
———. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
———. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
———. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003.
———. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
———. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.