Harry had his first kiss
After a bit of a false start in his previous year, Harry was slightly more successful with girls during Order of the Phoenix. He finally started going out with his crush, Cho Chang! However, like many teenage relationships, Harry’s wasn’t a roaring success. Cho was still grieving for Cedric Diggory – even crying during their first kiss. And the least said about that Valentine’s Day date in Hogsmeade, the better.
The Order of the Phoenix
With Voldemort’s rise imminent, Harry was introduced to the titular Order of the Phoenix. The Order was led by Albus Dumbledore, and last convened during the first wizarding war in the fight against Voldemort. It wasn’t long before Harry met the 2.0 version, and discovered it contained a lot of old friends: Molly and Arthur Weasley, Remus Lupin, Sirius… and some new ones, like Tonks – a chirpy Metamorphmagus – and Mundungus Fletcher, a shady character with a strong odour of burnt socks. Together, they formed quite the ragtag gang.
Number twelve Grimmauld Place
You’ve heard of haunted houses, but inside number twelve Grimmauld Place is a true horror show. Owned by Sirius Black’s family, the dusty dwelling became the unlikely venue for the Order of the Phoenix, with Mrs Weasley making it her personal mission to make it less grotesque and horrible. Due to Sirius’s family’s much darker way of life, the house wasn’t exactly cosy; the walls were mounted with house-elf heads, a screaming portrait of Sirius’s mother was permanently stuck to a wall, and all the while the house-elf, Kreacher, roamed the corridors muttering dark things about ‘blood traitors’ all day long.
Apart from that, it was lovely.
As one of Harry’s best friends, it’s hard to believe we didn’t meet Luna until the fifth book. Despite her late arrival to the story, her earnest and eccentric ways made her stand out as a character and as a classmate to Harry, who befriended her pretty sharpish. Usually equipped with a copy of The Quibbler and a kindly, wistful demeanour, we can’t quite imagine Hogwarts without Luna – who, despite her weird and wonderful ways, was more intelligent and profound than most gave her credit for.
Treacly, saccharine and truly loathsome, Dolores Umbridge was possibly J.K. Rowling’s best-worst creation since slug vomit. As a Ministry of Magic-appointed professor, Harry quickly learnt that her arrival at Hogwarts was purely to keep up the pretence that Voldemort hadn’t returned, and in the most irritating way possible. During her short tenure at Hogwarts, Umbridge caused Harry inexplicable hassle, such as her initiation of the Inquisitorial Squad (essentially a team of Harry’s least favourite people given the power to deduct house points), terrifying detentions that involve scarring ‘I must not tell lies’ into Harry’s hand, and an over-abundance of garish pink outfits – just to really rub it in how grotesque Umbridge really was.
With Umbridge stifling Hogwarts more and more by the day, Harry, Ron and Hermione formed their own, mini version of the Order of the Phoenix: Dumbledore’s Army.
D.A. was a club we’d definitely like to be a member of. It even came with your own coin that alerted you when the army needed to assemble, and an enchanted piece of parchment that, once signed, would hex you if you dared betray the group. The D.A. did a lot of good during its time together, learning everything from standard disarming spells to Patronus charms, meaning we got to see what many other students’ Patronuses were.
On top of everything they learnt practically, there was a real sense of union between the houses in this club (well, apart from Slytherin) and it was heartening to see Harry emerging as a reluctant, yet noble leader.
Fred and George’s exit
As Fred and George often liked to mention, education wasn’t really exactly their thing.
With a booming Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes business bubbling up underneath them, and Dolores Umbridge draining the joy out of student morale, the twins decided to leave Hogwarts – but not without an iconic exit, involving a certain Portable Swamp. With a parting ‘Give her hell from us, Peeves,’ the pair summoned their brooms and flew out of the castle into the sunset, like a proper Hollywood movie ending, leaving Umbridge shrieking angrily in their wake. Mischief managed.
Harry and Snape had never really been bosom buddies, but during Order of the Phoenix they were forced to spend some quality time together, due to Snape being an accomplished Legilimens – someone who can get inside your thoughts.
Their lessons were highly charged and fascinating. Harry was taught how to try to block Voldemort from getting inside his thoughts, but as a 15-year-old boy with a lot on his plate, Harry struggled. A trip inside Snape’s memories showed him that a teenage James Potter bullied Severus as a teenager, and gave us the first proper glimpse that Snape had demons too. Harry realised that maybe Snape had a good reason for not loving his company.
Showdown at the Department of Mysteries
One of the most fascinating areas of the Ministry of Magic, the Department of Mysteries, was shrouded in so many secrets we still don’t quite understand it. All year, Harry found his dreams haunted by ominous black corridors, which quickly turned out to belong to this specific department. The visions eventually lured Harry there with his friends, where some of the mysteries began to unfurl. One room contained an enormous tank of pearly white brains, while another contained a vast number of prophecies made about another witch or wizard. The most bewitching of rooms, however, contained an archway with a tattered veil that seemed to emanate voices that only Harry and Luna could hear.
It was thought the archway was the path between life and death, which Harry learnt first-hand when Sirius was struck by a curse and fell through it. The many secrets of the veil, and the Department of Mysteries itself, continue to mystify us to this day.
Why did Lord Voldemort single Harry out? For five books, this mystery seemed somewhat clouded. It was not until Order of the Phoenix that we realised what a burden Dumbledore had been carrying on his shoulders, and that the rather batty Professor Trelawney (of all people) had predicted the fate of Harry Potter in a pub before he had even been born.
The prophecy was a huge catalyst in Harry’s life, tying Harry and Voldemort together forever with the immortal words ‘neither can live while the other survives’. In one moment, Harry’s path of life lay open before him like a map, and suddenly the likes of Umbridge, teenage hormones and exam worries seemed so small.