Chapter 24 Summary
Harry Potter finally finds an oddly happy Kreacher in the attic of Grimmauld Place. It is Sirius who seems to be in a foul mood more often now, mostly because all of his Christmas house guests are about to return to Hogwarts School. It doesn’t help Sirius’ mood that Professor Snape arrives to speak directly with Harry.
It turns out that Dumbledore has ordered Snape to give Harry lessons in something called Occlumency, which is supposed to help Harry shield his mind from Voldemort’s mental attacks. Because of Snape’s usual condescending attitude, Sirius thinks that Snape might use these lessons to cause trouble for Harry.
There seems to be some truth to this in that Snape tells Harry that he has to hide his Occlumency lessons from his classmates by telling them he is taking remedial potions (a true insult to Harry’s intelligence). Sirius threatens Snape as a result. Harry is just about to jump between the two of them when Mr. Weasley arrives at Grimmauld Place completely cured of his Voldemort injuries.
Harry and his friends return to Hogwarts on the Knight Bus, but not before Sirius gives Harry a strange package that is supposed to contain a method for Harry to contact Sirius in case Snape does cause problems. Before Harry enters Hogwarts, Lupin reminds him to listen to Snape because learning the skill of Occlumency will help in Harry’s protection.
Sure enough, Professor Snape is less than thrilled to have to teach Harry Occlumency. In fact, Snape begins the first evening Occlumency lesson by insulting Harry’s potion skills. Harry is quite confused about why he must take these lessons. He thinks any connection he has with Voldemort has already proved useful because it saved Mr. Weasley from certain death by snake at the Ministry of Magic. Snape insists that particular night in question is the very problem: that is the night when Voldemort also realized that he and Harry share this connection.
Harry learns that the key to Occlumency is to empty the mind of all emotion. Snape gives Harry no other instruction except to try to get Snape out of Harry’s mind once Snape yells the incantation.
Harry is ill prepared for what happens next. Snape penetrates Harry’s mind quite easily, first seeing the death of Cedric Diggory in the graveyard and then seeing the hall from the Ministry of Magic. Snape is especially concerned at the Ministry of Magic vision, and he insists that Harry try hard to banish those thoughts.
Harry is absolutely exhausted after these two mind-penetrating exercises and somehow ends up on the floor both times. Professor Snape insults Harry’s Occlumency abilities and insists that Harry empty his mind of both thoughts and emotions before bed each night.
Back in his Gryffindor bedroom, Harry is plagued by his scar hurting once again and knows that, this time, Voldemort is full of joy. Occlumency seems to be doing no good at all.