Aberforth Dumbledore is the owner of the Hog's Head pub in Hogsmeade and the brother of Albus Dumbledore, with whom he had an uneasy relationship. He was a member of the original Order of the Phoenix, though his appearance at meetings wasn't common. Aberforth also joined the Order again when Albus brought it back after Voldemort's return. The Death Eaters were seemingly unaware of his being a member.
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When Rubeus Hagrid came under attack by Rita Skeeter, who wrote an article about him in the Daily Prophet about his giantess mother, Albus Dumbledore refused to accept Hagrid's resignation. To cheer Hagrid up about his family background, Harry Potter mentions his connection with the Dursleys. Albus joined in, saying how his brother Aberforth was prosecuted for using 'improper' charms on a goat. The papers all told the story, but Aberforth apparently acted as normal with his head held high. Though Albus adds as a joke that he is not entirely sure his brother can read so it might not have been bravery.
In the school holidays Alastor Moody shows Harry a photograph of the original Order of the Phoenix, including Aberforth. The occasion of that photograph was the only time that Mad-Eye had met him. He describes him as a 'strange bloke'.
When Hermione Granger encourages Harry to form a secret Defence Against the Dark Arts club, which their teacher, Umbridge, would not approve of, she picks the Hog's Head as a good place to hold a meeting with those who were interested in joining. This was the first time they went into the Hog's Head and the first time we see Aberforth. Her reasoning was that as it was not usual for students to go there and it was much quieter, so there was less chance of Umbridge hearing about it. As Sirius points out later on, the more crowded Three Broomsticks would have meant their meeting was less likely to be overheard. As it was nearly everyone else in the pub was eavesdropping, one of whom (Mundungus Fletcher) reported to the Order, and another (Willy Widdershins) reported to Umbridge.
When Harry first sees Aberforth, he is unaware of his identity, except as the barman of the pub. Harry thinks he looks vaguely familiar, but does not make the connection with his resemblance to his brother or with the photo he'd seen months earlier. He seems grumpy at the sight of so many customers in his pub. Inside of which there is a lingering smell of goats.
Harry sees Aberforth buying something from Mundungus Fletcher in the street of Hogsmeade outside the Three Broomsticks. This later proved to be Sirius' mirror, one of a pair that could communicate with each other. Mundungus had stolen it from Number 12, Grimmauld Place.
During the year Albus would show Harry memories relating to Tom Riddle, also known as Voldemort. One of them showed Voldemort applying to him for the post of Defence Against the Dark Arts. In the meeting Riddle was surprised at the level of his intelligence. Albus knew more than he thought about his doings. One particularly unpleasant revelation was that he knew the Death Eaters that had accompanied Voldemort to Hogsmeade and who were waiting for him at the Hog's Head. When Voldemort comments on Albus' omniscience, he simply replies that he is friendly with the local barmen, hinting that Aberforth had informed him.
When Harry is talking to Divination Professor, Sybill Trelawney, he discovers from her that when she made the Prophecy that led Voldemort to hunt him and his parents it had been at the Hog's Head. Severus Snape had been the Death Eater to overhear the Prophecy and report it to Voldemort. It was only thanks to Aberforth, who caught Snape whilst listening at the door, that Voldemort never heard the Prophecy in full. He was not able to stop Snape from reporting what he did hear to his master, though.
When Harry is packing what he is going to take with him when leaving the Dursleys for the last time, he come across the fragment of the mirror that Sirius had given to him. As he holds it he thinks of Dumbledore, meaning Albus Dumbledore, and for a moment sees a flash of blue which he believes is an eye. However as Albus Dumbledore is dead, he dismisses what he saw.
During the wedding of Fleur and Bill Weasley Harry hears from Ron's aunt Muriel that Aberforth blamed Albus for the death of their sister, Ariana. She said she had overheard Bathilda Bagshot telling her mother that during Ariana's funeral, Aberforth had gone as far as breaking Albus' nose and that Albus didn't defend himself. Elphias Doge, who had been defending Dumbledore, couldn't deny that this had happened.
When Harry, Ron and Hermione are captured and taken to the cellars of Malfoy Manor, out of desperation Harry looks at the shard of mirror again and sees the blue eye. He asks desperately for help, saying where they were. Moments later Dobby the house-elf appears to help them out. Tragically Dobby dies before he is able to tell Harry who sent him.
After the trio successfully break into Gringotts Bank to steal a Horcrux, Harry sees through his connection with Voldemort's mind that the final one is at Hogwarts. He immediately travels to Hogsmeade, despite the knowing the danger of his entering the magical world whilst being Undesirable Number One. They Apparate under the Invisibility Cloak in the street and let off a Caterwauling Charm, attracting the attention of Dementors and Death Eaters. Harry's stag Patronus Charm fends off the Dementors, but puts them in greater danger from Voldemort's followers.
Fortunately Aberforth quickly calls them into the Hog's Head and manages to convince the Death Eaters that the Patronus was his goat, as he was putting out his cat. He claims his pub's role as a place where they can traffic illegal poisons and potions as protection against them. They then let him off and stop searching for Harry. Aberforth is quick to scold Harry for coming to Hogsmeade at all, but Harry is more interested in his eyes, recognising that it was Aberforth all along who had been in the mirror and who had sent Dobby. It is also then that Harry realises for the first time who he is.
It was then that Aberforth decides to talk about his past. Harry had the feeling that he might never have spoken about it before. He told the trio about his sister, Ariana and how she had died (see 'Family' below). He continues to try and dissuade Harry from the mission his brother had given him, however when Harry was not moved he decided to help him into the castle. He tells them that the portrait of Ariana that he has in his room opens into a secret passageway leading to the Room of Requirement. Ariana's portrait brings Neville Longbottom, who shows them the way in.
Once Dumbledore's Army hears that Harry has returned, they excitedly give out the call that they are going to fight (without Harry's approval). All those who hear about it Apparate into the Hog's Head, to Aberforth's irritation. According to Fred he was ready to turn in for the night when reams of people kept disturbing him. When a fight becomes inevitable after Voldemort threatens the school, Harry informs Minerva McGonagall of the secret way out through Aberforth's pub, which they use to evacuate students who are not allowed or willing to fight.
During the Battle of Hogwarts, Aberforth joins in the fight. He suggests that they use the Slytherin students that are relatives of some of the Death Eaters outside as hostages. Harry stamps on this suggestion, saying that it wouldn't stop Voldemort and that his brother would never have done it. Augusta Longbottom seals the pub behind him. Shortly afterwards Aberforth is seen approving of Ginny Weasley's jinxing abilities and is the one to inform an anxious Tonks that he had last seen Remus Lupin duelling Antonin Dolohov (who was the one to kill Remus in that battle). During the final part of the battle Aberforth successfully Stuns Augustus Rookwood.
Portrayals within films
...a grumpy-looking old man with a great deal of long grey hair and beard. He was tall and thin and looked vaguely familiar to Harry.
When Aberforth was younger he looked a lot like his brother Albus. They both had the same piercing bright blue eyes. Once Aberforth broke Albus' nose they looked less alike, though.
He is described as quite rough and uneducated, often seen as grumpy and resentful. He did not like the way that his brother manipulated others and the way people believed that Albus was a saint. He did not restrain his anger when he was younger and was quick to lash out. Later in life he was better able to keep quiet, leading few people to realise his relation to Albus. Those that did know tended to forget and not count him when thinking of those who knew Albus. Aberforth believed in being realistic and when it seemed that the war against Voldemort had been lost he counselled against risky moves against him.
Aberforth often seemed not to care about those around him and tried not to show his softer emotions, however he was capable of great affection, most particularly for his sister Ariana. He was able to look after her and willing to sacrifice his own education to take care of her. He took in Neville when he was in need and liked Dobby the house-elf, and was sorry to hear that he had died. Like his brother he was consumed with guilt after Ariana's death, not knowing whether he had been the one to kill her.
He also seems strangely obsessive with goats, though perhaps it is best not to know the exact nature of this obsession. We never hear Aberforth himself refer to it.
Magical accomplishments and skills
According to Sirius Black, Aberforth has a long memory. He did not do as well as Albus at school and preferred to fight without the use of a wand. Apparently Albus could destroy Aberforth in a magical duel easily. However Aberforth is able to produce a corporeal Patronus Charm in the form of a goat.
- A portrait of his sister, Ariana, which can open into a secret passageway that leads to the Room of Requirement in Hogwarts.
- Sirius' mirror, one of a pair. If you speak the name of the person holding the other mirror you can communicate with them.
When Ariana was younger she was attacked by young Muggles when they saw her practising magic. She tried to never use her magic again but she couldn't get rid of it and it drove her mad and exploded out of her uncontrollably at time. Percival Dumbledore found and attacked the children that did it and was locked up as a Muggle-hater, never telling the authorities why he had done it. The family were worried that Ariana would be locked up in St Mungo's if her condition were discovered. So they moved house to Godric's Hollow and hid her. Ariana loved Aberforth and according to him preferred him over his brother. He was good at calming her. However when he wasn't around she accidentally killed Kendra Dumbledore.
Albus Dumbledore, who had a bright future from his successful time at Hogwarts and was on the verge of touring the world, then had to settle down to look after Ariana whilst Aberforth was at Hogwarts. When Gellert Grindelwald moved in next door with Bathilda Bagshot, he neglected her in his delight in his new friend. Aberforth confronted Albus and Grindelwald about their scheming and grand plans. It turned into a duel, upsetting Ariana. Neither Aberforth nor Albus knew who did it, but one of the three of them accidentally killed Ariana.
Aberforth blamed Albus and his friendship with Grindelwald for her death, punching his nose at her funeral. Albus went on to become Headmaster at Hogwarts, refusing the post of Minister for Magic, still regarded as a great man by the public. The brothers had a cold relationship, however Aberforth did join the Order of the Phoenix, which Albus formed to fight Voldemort. When Voldemort applied for a job teaching at Hogwarts Aberforth told his brother about the Death Eaters in his pub and stopped Severus Snape when he eavesdropped on his meeting with Sybill Trelawney. Aberforth joined the second Order of the Phoenix after Voldemort's return in 1995, though we do not see any contact between him and his brother. Albus is killed by Snape on his own orders in 1997.
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In popular culture
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J. K. Rowling was asked in 2007 what exactly Aberforth did to the goat to be prosecuted. Below is a transcript of the interview:
Q: In the Goblet of Fire Dumbledore said his brother was prosecuted for practicing inappropriate charms [JKR buries her head, to laughter] on a goat; what were the inappropriate charms he was practicing on that goat?
JKR: How old are you?
JKR: I think that he was trying to make a goat that was easy to keep clean [laughter], curly horns. That's a joke that works on a couple of levels. I really like Aberforth and his goats. But you know Aberforth having this strange fondness for goats if you've read book seven, came in really useful to Harry, later on, because a goat, a stag, you know. If you're a stupid Death Eater, what's the difference. So, that is my answer to YOU.
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 24
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, OotP 9
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 J. K. Rowling, OotP 16
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, OotP 17
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, OotP 27
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, HBP 12
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, HBP 20
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, HBP 25
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, HBP 30
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, DH 2
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, DH 8
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, DH 23
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 J. K. Rowling, DH 28
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, DH 29
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, DH 30
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 J. K. Rowling, DH 31
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, DH 36
- ↑ The Leaky Cauldron fan website, J. K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall