Death’s Dominion: The Hints and Clues, Part One

Hi, all! A couple people expressed interest in the various hints and clues to the “mystery” in Death’s Dominion, the deception that Minerva planned and executed. So here is the first installment. Some of these “hints” are very oblique and some less so, and I have likely missed some of them.

These excerpts are from the Prologue: And the unicorn evils run them through, Chapter Three: Heads of the characters hammer through daisies, Chapter Four: Though they be mad they shall be sane, and Chapter Five: With the man in the wind. I have tried to give sufficient context for the hints so that you don’t have to go back and reread the entire chapter (unless you want to!). The significant lines are in yellow-orange and any additional notes are in pale blue.

If you haven’t read Death’s Dominion and plan to, I suggest that you skip reading these, as there are spoilers, though I’ve tried to avoid coming right out in the notes and revealing the complete deception. If you haven’t read it and don’t plan to, it will be of no interest to you.


Prologue: And the unicorn evils run them through

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.


Here, the title of the story is “Death’s Dominion,” and repeated through the poem is the line “And death shall have no dominion.” The poem is read at Albus’s funeral and interment.


Chapter Three: Heads of the characters hammer through daisies

. . . Harry hurried down the stairs, almost tripping on his shoelaces and coming to a sudden halt when he saw who was waiting for him.

“Professor McGonagall! What are you doing here? And what are you doing dressed . . . like that?”

Minerva was carefully dressed in a blue Muggle skirted suit, a classic style, but clearly not of recent purchase, and was carrying a blue handbag. Her companion, standing in the shadows behind her, was wearing a grey fedora and a long, unbuttoned, rumpled grey raincoat, under which he wore a drab mouse-grey suit, a wrinkled white shirt, and a dull blue tie that seemed to suck up what little light there was in the dimly lit front hall.

“We have come to remove you from this house, from your . . . family home,” Minerva said, looking around her with distaste, “a bit early.”


This is a kind of “reverse clue,” very oblique. Robbie dresses dully, almost to the extreme; Robert Crouch was known for wearing earth colours and dark hues, but here, the drab and almost dishevelled garb is a strong contrast to any eccentrically bright or dapper clothing.


. . . “Yes, you will be taken to safety. And then Dudley can return to being himself all of the time,” Minerva replied. “We will continue to have someone watching the house, however, and if there is an emergency, you may be moved sooner.”

“But . . . but . . .” Harry was flabbergasted.

Need-to-know, Harry,” the older wizard said gently. “We arranged this before you left school. If we hadn’t managed this, we would have had to think of a different plan. Possibly kept you away altogether, as unsafe as that might have been. Drink up, now, both you boys.”


Again, a very subtle hint. Robbie speaks to Harry familiarly and avuncularly, though he’s known him only a short time.


. . .  “We don’t want anyone else to see it, though. Put it under your shirt, Potter.” She turned to Robert. “Run up and let the bird out. Tell her to go to Hogwarts Owlery and that Harry will be along later.”

The grey-eyed wizard slipped past Vernon Dursley without even looking at the man, then he turned, looking back at Harry. “Where are the photos, Harry?”

“Under a loose floorboard in my room. In an album,” Harry replied.

Minerva sighed, but said nothing as the wizard disappeared up the stairs.


Again, just a subtle hint: Robbie appreciates the importance of the photo album to Harry, something that Robert might not be expected to understand.


. . . “We are going to London and staying the night at Grimmauld Place,” McGonagall said. “Then tomorrow, we are proceeding to the Weasleys via Portkey. I am as yet undecided whether you are to come with us or await our return. I dislike the idea of leaving you there on your own. For your safety, not because we do not trust you.”

Harry nodded. “But what about the wedding? Bill and Fleur . . . they already postponed it twice. That’s next week. Everyone will be there.”

Minerva looked back at the older wizard, who nodded at her.

“Everyone will not be there, Mr Potter – and before you interrupt with protests, allow me to inform you that the bride and groom will also not be in attendance. Apart from Robert and myself, only Arthur and Molly Weasley are currently aware of this, so you are not to share this information with anyone, do you understand, Potter?”


Here, we see that Minerva is checking for Robbie’s opinion or agreement. Given Robert’s presumably recent membership in  the Order of the Phoenix, it would be unusual for Minerva to base a decision about what to tell Harry on Robert’s agreement.


Chapter Four: Though they be mad they shall be sane

. . . She shook her head, poured herself some tea, and then continued. “Harry could also very well believe that I was trying reverse psychology in order to persuade him to abandon his quest until after his NEWTs. I was surprised that he returned to Hogwarts at all, to be quite frank, but he insisted to me that there was something of importance he had yet to accomplish at Hogwarts. I rather doubt, however, that he has even attempted whatever that may be, but he will not tell me any more about it. Our conversations have been most unproductive. I have indicated that the Headmaster entrusted me with certain secrets regarding his mission, but even after I had named the key element of his primary search, he would not speak with me about it. He will not tell me what he is doing or where he is going; when I offer the assistance of the Order, he insists he must continue on his own – in which he is correct; in the end, he must go on alone – but he is taking this belief to an extreme. In our conversations last winter, the Headmaster and I discussed the necessity of creating some delays in order that the final encounter not come before Harry is fully prepared; however, it appears that our tactics have become somewhat too successful, yet it is now too late to change them. And if we were to tell Harry what we have done in order to . . . pace his progress toward that crucial moment, he would not believe either of us, of that I am completely certain. The only person he may have believed about it was the Headmaster, and he is . . . unavailable.” Minerva grimaced as she pronounced the peculiar euphemism. “Harry may have resented the manipulation, but he would have believed him. He will not believe me. And he certainly would not trust your participation in the plan.”

Severus snorted. “His trust in me, ironically, is lower than it was when the Headmaster was here.” As much as he disliked using euphemisms for the word “dead,” Severus disliked even more causing Minerva pain, and as she never referred to Dumbledore as dead, he would avoid reminding her of what she no doubt felt keenly her every waking moment. “I think that even the suggestion that I was involved in creating a set of roadblocks for him to overcome would raise his suspicions of you. But I do not understand why he has isolated himself from you and from the Order.”


Minerva attempts to be truthful whenever she can as far as possible.


“. . . Hermione seems to have the greatest ability of the four to actually look at all of the facts before them, sift them, weigh them, and make determinations about their relative veracity or utility. We had hoped to be able to make use of this ability, but something has changed in their dynamic. Although we knew that Miss Lovegood might be a factor to consider, neither the Headmaster nor I realised the extent to which she would become involved in their plans. She has become a wildcard, but I fear that trying to interfere with the group and with her involvement would have worse consequences than allowing events to play themselves out. Albus always assures me –” Minerva stopped, catching herself, then swallowed before continuing, “He always assured me that events will unfold so that Harry will have his final encounter with Riddle and be in a position to overcome him. And yet . . . it is so important that he achieve certain other goals before that time comes. We thought we were helping him do that . . . now I am not so sure.”

“The fact remains that Potter must not continue to come and go as he has,” Severus answered. “He is at his most vulnerable each time he leaves and each time he returns. Here he is safest, but I believe we are agreed that it would serve no purpose for him to remain here in what is, at best, temporary shelter, while growing no closer to achieving what he must prior to his encounter with the Dark Lord. I have little faith in his skills at this point, and I do not see how he could possibly defeat the Dark Lord, but I do not believe that further training would be sufficiently effective in what little time we have left, and any training would be moot if he did not first accomplish his other goals.”

Severus had forgotten the presence of the third party, sitting there silently in the corner of the gloomy sitting room, like a bizarre chaperone, and he startled to suddenly hear his voice.


Here, Minerva catches herself and corrects herself, and then there is Robert, again hanging out in the shadows as he so often does in the story.


Chapter Five:
With the man in the wind

. . . Despite their rocky introduction in the Headmaster’s Office on his arrival the previous January, the older wizard had been civil to Severus. Robert Crouch had originally come to assist the Headmaster and his Deputy during the former’s final illness, and, from all accounts, he had been a surprisingly effective Transfiguration teacher even under the circumstances that had brought him into the position with Minerva’s elevation to Headmistress following Dumbledore’s death in March. Severus had also heard no criticisms of the wizard as a Defence teacher this year, either, even though he questioned his Slytherins closely. It even irked him that the man appeared to have no favourites and treated the Slytherins just as he did all the other students. In fact, the annoying former apothecary seemed to have an uncanny knack with the students, knowing how to treat each of them in order to get their best work and their best behaviour. What was most irritating, however, was the way in which he had insinuated himself into the Headmistress’s life. Severus felt there was something unsavoury there, irrespective of the fact that the two had known each other for more than four decades.

The man slunk about the castle, too often appearing in the shadows behind the Headmistress, always seeming to speak in a near-whisper, and seemingly incapable of any emotion stronger than mild amusement. Severus could not imagine how this person could possibly teach Defence Against the Dark Arts – and certainly not as well as he himself had the year before. Yet his Slytherins had no complaints whatsoever, and that was perhaps the most suspicious thing about him of all.


Odd that Robbie should have such a knack with the students when he’s new to teaching, new to Hogwarts, and new to the individual students, but he seems to know them. He is also unusually close to Minerva.


This is the first installment of hints and clues. I’ll post another at some point when I have a few minutes. Chapter six, of course, was absolutely rife with them!

5 responses to “Death’s Dominion: The Hints and Clues, Part One

  1. There has got to be an ironic punchline in there somewhere! “Walkin’ after midnight” perhaps?

  2. Or just plain “Crazy”!

  3. OK, that one too. I hadn’t planned on going there…but it is a good song, isn’t it? 😛

  4. I think you should have a contest. Now that we’ve had a sample of what you consider “clues”, let us all re-read looking for them. We could each compile a list saying where they are and whether they are a Class 1–direct (such as Minerva referring to Albus in the present tense) or Class 2–oblique–such as the ones about Robbie’s behavior being too familiar give the short time he’s been known to harry.

    The person who gets the totals closest to you wins a date w/ the OC of their choice, err, I mean a 1-shot….

    Deadline would have to be at least a week from now b/c I’m going off the net for 4 days starting tomorrow….. 🙂

  5. I’m glad you love it. 🙂

    Your idea is interesting, though I don’t think that it’s quite practical, given the length of the story and the fact that I haven’t even highlighted all of them — and some of the hints are very subtle and cumulative. However, I think that with some alteration, I might be able to come up with another game, and a similar prize. 😉 And I’ll make sure that you can play!

    Have a good trip!

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