Chapter 18 Summary
The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
Feeling sad and full of despair at the loss of his wand (especially because he has now lost the protection of the “twin cores” that his wand shared with Voldemort’s own wand), Harry tenderly saves the broken pieces in his moleskin pouch from Hagrid. His sadness turns to anger against Dumbledore who, Harry thinks, should have told him everything. Harry is also dealing with some hidden anger toward Hermione for accidentally and fatally damaging his most precious possession, even though it was in an attempt to save Harry himself.
Hermione hands Harry a book called The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, which Hermione managed to take from Bathilda Bagshot’s house before the chaos erupted. The book, written by the infamous Rita Skeeter, contains some interesting information: the identity of the thief. The person who stole the item that Voldemort wants is Gellert Grindlewald himself, the very dark wizard that Dumbledore himself would become famous for killing. Further, Gellert Grindlewald wasn’t always a dark wizard. In his earlier years, he was simply the nephew of Bathilda Bagshot and was expelled for exploits at Durmstrang, after which he became fast friends with Albus Dumbledore.
Confusing Harry and Hermione more is Skeeter’s report of a fight at Ariana’s funeral where, Skeeter asserts, Ariana may have been a victim of Dumbledore and Grindlewald fighting about Muggle inferiority. In fact, Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, breaks Dumbledore’s nose at Ariana’s funeral. Aberforth was convinced that Albus Dumbledore was ultimately responsible for Ariana’s death.
Another interesting fact is that this particular chapter of Rita Skeeter’s book is called “For the Greater Good,” which is precisely the phrase that became Gellert Grindlewald’s motto as he seeped further and futher into hatred for Muggle-kind. Neither Grindlewald nor Dumbledore admit to this brief friendship with each other as they grow to become sworn enemies (ending in Dumbledore taking Grindlewald’s life).
Harry and Hermione are taken aback by all of this information and wonder if they should continue to trust everything that Dumbledore taught them. Hermione tries to convince Harry that Dumbledore really loved Harry. Harry says, "I don’t know who he loved, but it was never me. This isn’t love, the mess he’s left me in.”
Harry and Hermione spar verbally over Dumbledore. Harry is losing faith in the one great wizard who always gave him just advice. Hermione firmly remains on Dumbledore’s side as she allows Harry to take the next watch.