The Burrow: Magic Moste Evile

An original editorial by John de la Cour

Horcruxes and how Lord Voldemort Survived

A Horcrux is a word used for an object in which a person has concealed part of their soul. By committing the act of murder, the killer’s soul is ripped apart, and the wizard intent upon creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage by encasing the torn portion using an unknown spell. One way to put this is that a Horcrux is a spiritual anchor securing one’s soul to the living world, so that if the body is killed, the soul does not pass on to the afterlife or imprint itself onto the world as a ghost but merely remains as its damaged self, ready to seek a new body to exist within. Although there have already been mathematical attempts to determine the fraction of soul remaining within the now-living body of Voldemort, I do not believe the tear of the soul is exactly in half. There is no specific mention of this in The Half-Blood Prince, only that the soul is torn, or split in two, but no specific ratio is given, leaving us free to speculate whether the current Voldemort retains only 1/64th of a soul or some of fraction thereof.

When the Avada Kedavra killing curse rebounded from Harry back onto Voldemort, his living body was killed but the soul, or the remaining piece his body still contained, was anchored to the living world by the Horcruxes. The soul of Voldemort, popularly called Vapormort, was then free to wander the world of the living possessing people and animals while he searched out a faithful follower to help him regain a body. No Horcrux was required to be used in the resurrection of Voldemort at the end of The Goblet of Fire. The seventh piece of soul that was acting on the world as Vapormort was the piece used in the resurrection. The mistake Voldemort made in his original plans for immortality, of course, was to not confide his secret to any of his followers. Upon his apparent defeat at the hands of an infant, the Dark Lord appeared to have fallen and the majority of his followers played “Imperiussed” and went back to their normal lives. Those who did seek him had no clue where to look or the form in which Voldemort would currently be found. We only know of one Death Eater who learned of Lord Voldemort’s secret plan for immortality prior to his defeat, R.A.B., who seemed to know from his note in the fake locket that he would die for his knowledge and betrayal of the Dark Lord.

The Horcruxes of Lord Voldemort

From the memory finally obtained in its full form from Professor Horace Slughorn, we learned that Voldemort was not only interested in the immortality gained from splitting one’s soul, but in the additional protection and possible power gained from splitting one’s soul into the magically powerful seven parts – one remaining in the living body and six stored in Horcruxes. We also learned from other memories that Lord Voldemort liked to acquire trophies from his victims and that these were what he would have used as his Horcruxes. Here, however, as Dumbledore himself stated, is where we leave the realm of known fact and enter the world of rank speculation, and where Dumbledore may have made another mistake. The suspected Horcruxes, according to Harry and Dumbledore in Chapter 23 are (in no particular order):

1. The diary proving Lord Voldemort is Salazar Slytherin’s heir and that it was he who first opened the Chamber of Secrets. Harry destroyed the diary in The Chamber of Secrets.

2. The ring with the Peverell coat of arms belonging to Marvolo Gaunt, Voldemort’s grandfather, and taken from Morfin Gaunt on the night the Riddles were murdered. Dumbledore destroyed the ring prior to the beginning of The Half-Blood Prince.

3. The locket of Salazar Slytherin belonging to Merope Gaunt, Voledmort’s mother, and gained from Hepizbah Smith. R.A.B. stole the true locket with plans to destroy it.

4. The cup of Helga Hufflepuff belonging to Hepizbah Smith. Its whereabouts are currently unknown.

5. The snake Nagini, Lord Voldemort’s faithful pet – pure speculation on the part of Dumbledore. Nagini will most likely be found with Lord Voldemort or in the place he is using as a base.

6. An unknown object once belonging to Rowena Ravenclaw or Godric Gryffindor – also pure speculation on the part of Dumbledore. Its form and whereabouts are currently unknown.

7. Lord Voldemort himself contains the seventh part of his soul and is not an actual Horcrux.

From Harry and Ginny’s description of their experiences with the functioning diary, and from the description of the encounter with the form of Tom Riddle in the Chamber of Secrets, I believe Dumbledore was able to come to the correct conclusion that the diary was a Horcrux containing a portion of the soul of Lord Voldemort. From Dumbledore’s own experience in obtaining and examining the Peverell coat of arms ring, I believe he was able to come to the correct conclusion that the ring did contain another part of Lord Voldemort’s soul. From the memories Dumbledore obtained from meeting the 11 year old Tom Riddle at the orphanage, from the diary’s false recount of the capture of Hagrid, from Lord Voldemort’s attempts to remain at Hogwarts as a teacher, and from the house elf Hokey, I believe Dumbledore was correctly able to conclude that Lord Voldemort’s fixation with Hogwarts, its history and founders, would make the locket of Salazar Slitherin and the cup of Helga Hufflepuff excellent possibilities as Horcruxes. This leaves two Horcruxes about which Dumbledore could only speculate.

Of the remaining missing Horcruxes I believe the snake Nagini is possible. Dumbledore had speculated that Lord Voldemort saved the creation of a Horcrux for significant murders and objects of personal importance, and had saved his last for his murder of Harry Potter, the child Lord Voldemort had concluded was prophesized to be his own downfall. Having failed to perform this murder left Voldemort one Horcrux short of his seven-part soul when he began his quest to be returned to his body. Possibly deciding he could not wait for his next attempt on Harry to complete his plan he could have used Nagini as a Horcrux when he murdered Frank Bryce at the beginning of The Goblet of Fire, ensuring that he was at what he thought would be his most powerful form when he was returned to his body. As we do not know the spell used to create a new Horcrux or the power required, we cannot discount that the partially regenerated form of Lord Voldemort had the power; he had the power to kill Frank Bryce, after all, with Avada Kedavra. This, however, is pure speculation on the part of Dumbledore, and cannot be taken as absolute fact. If Nagini is in fact a Horcrux she will be found either in with Lord Voldemort during the final battle or in the place the Death Eaters are using as a base of operations that Harry will have to find in his search for the other Horcruxes and for Lord Voldemort himself.

The last Horcrux is the most unknown and will be the final one Harry will probably have to find and destroy before he seeks out Lord Voldemort, as the snake Nagini will probably be in the presence of Lord Voldemort when Harry finds him. Dumbledore speculated that Lord Voldemort would have sought a powerful magical item that had once belonged to one of the other founders of Hogwarts – Rowena Ravenclaw or Godric Gryffindor. There are several possibilities that have to be considered here. There are only two known relics of Godric Gryffindor in existence – the sword and the Sorting Hat – and no known relics of Ravenclaw. Seeing Dumbledore’s final meeting with Lord Voldemort in the Pensive, there has been speculation that the sword or hat was turned into a Horcrux at this time, but we as yet have no proof of this. Harry, however, may have one possibility based on his plans for the final book. At the end of The Half-Blood Prince Harry states that his plans are to return first to Godric’s Hollow where it all began and to visit the graves of his parents. There has always been speculation that the Potters are descended from Godric Gryffindor and that his parents hiding from Lord Voldemort in Godric’s Hollow gives credence to this. It is possible that Lord Voldemort was seeking both the object belonging to Gryffindor and the sixth victim to create the Horcrux at the same time, but the problem with this idea is that the murder he intended to use to create the Horcrux – Harry – did not occur and that Vapormort would not be able to cast the spell to complete the process in his vapor form even if he gained the object. We can only speculate that research performed by Hermione in the final book will uncover an object of Ravenclaw’s that may have vanished mysteriously between Lord Voldemort leaving school and the attempt on Harry’s life. But again, we can only speculate.

There is another possibility, though, that would be characteristic of J.K. Rowling’s habit slipping a subtle hint about something of great importance into the text of a previous book. In Chapter 13 we meet the 11-year-old Tom Riddle as he learns from Dumbledore that he is a wizard, just as Harry had done from Hagrid at that age. Furthermore, Dumbledore uses this memory to impress upon Harry the idea of Voldemort keeping trophies of his victories over others. On page 273 of the Scholastic American Edition of The Half-Blood Prince we see the objects already collected by Tom: “a small mess of everyday objects: a yo-yo, a silver thimble, and a tarnished mouth organ among them.” At the end of the same chapter, as Harry leaves for bed, he stops and comments that the Peverell ring was gone but that he expected to see a mouth organ sitting in its place. With J.K.’s penchant for slipping us subtle hints, it is very possible that the mouth organ could be Voldemort’s first trophy of his use of magic to gain power over another, or the only one he kept from his childhood experiences before he learned he was a wizard. Dumbledore told the young Tom he would know if he did not return all of the stolen items to their rightful owners, but this one could have been returned and bought back, making Tom its rightful owner and both satisfying the requirements of the spell Dumbledore obviously placed upon the objects and allowing Voldemort to keep his first trophy. Again in Chapter 23, Harry was disheartened at speculating what the other Horcruxes could be. “And they could be anything?” said Harry. “They could be old tin cans or, I dunno, empty potion bottles…” But Dumbledore reminded Harry that although those objects were common to portkeys, Lord Voldemort “liked to collect trophies.” It could be that the mouth organ Harry saw in Dumbledore’s memory, more commonly known as a harmonica in America, is the missing Horcrux that Harry must seek, and Lord Voldemort could have used the murder of Moaning Myrtle to create it.

The Hunt for the Horcruxes

In the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series, the trio will search out the final four Horcruxes and destroy them before Harry hunts down and kills Lord Voldemort. It seems clear that the missing locket was stolen by Regulus Alphard Black, was the locket found while clearing out the sitting room in Order of the Phoenix, and is either hidden in Kreacher’s room, was stolen and sold by Mundungus Fletcher, or was thrown out. The trio will remember this when discussing the details of the missing Horcrux he and Dumbledore failed to find and return to 12 Grimmauld Place in search of it. They will either find it there or Mundungus most likely sold it to Borgin and Burkes, where Harry will either steal it or buy it back. As the secret keeper of the Order of the Phoenix is now dead, we can assume that Severus Snape will reveal its location finally and that the trio will encounter one or more Death Eaters there as well – most likely Bellatrix Lestrange who Harry will defeat in revenge for Sirius. Harry will also seek out the secret base of the Death Eaters, hoping to find additional Horcruxes, the snake Nagini, and the whereabouts of Lord Voldemort for the final battle.

Now, although Harry stated at the end of The Half-Blood Prince that he was not returning to Hogwarts for his final year of education, I think it is the most logical place to start the search (after Bill’s wedding and his summer visit to Godric’s Hollow) for the other missing Horcruxes. Hermione will point out to Harry that he cannot forget that he will have a long life after he defeats Lord Voldemort and will require his education, but also that the best place to search for the identity of the Ravenclaw or Gryffindor Horcrux would be Hogwarts. As we learned in The Half-Blood Prince, the Hogwarts library contains old copies of The Daily Prophet and this is where they will seek out stories of an object of one of the founders that may have gone missing in relation to a mysterious murder sometime between Lord Voldemort leaving Hogwarts and the first attempt on Harry’s life. Furthermore, the best place to find information on the founders and their known surviving relics, besides Hogwarts: A History, which Hermione knows by heart, would be the library and headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. We know that Lord Voldemort maintained a fixation with the school of magic, the only home he, like Harry, ever loved. It is possible that Lord Voldemort hid one or more of his Horcruxes in the school itself. If he did turn the mouth organ into a Horcrux with the murder of Moaning Myrtle, he could have hidden it within the Chamber of Secrets itself. Also, the last time Dumbledore met Lord Voldemort when he came to apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, it is possible that he detoured to revisit the Chamber of Secrets and could have hidden any of his Horcruxes there, too. We must also consider the Room of Requirement’s “I need a place to hide something” form that Malfoy used for his repair work on the vanishing cabinet and that Harry used to hide his Half-Blood Prince copy of Advanced Potion Making. We have no proof that Lord Voldemort knew of the existence of the Room of Requirement, but we don’t know he didn’t. For all of these locations within the school, the remaining members of the D.A. will be a valuable tool to assist Harry in his search. Therefore, Harry and the trio will in fact return to Hogwarts either under the guise of students in their 7th year or with the permission of the new head-master or -mistress, who will most likely be Minerva McGonagall.

With at least a couple of years now remaining before the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga is released, we can only speculate as to how J.K. Rowling will resolve the questions of the hunt for the remaining Horcruxes, the forms they will in fact take, and how the final battle between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort will play out. I have given you my ideas on the Horcruxes, their forms, and some possible locations where they may be hidden, and if I am correct, then Harry will get his chance to complete his N.E.W.T.’s and apply for his job as an Auror after marrying Ginny (they have to get back together after all!). But this isn’t an essay on shipping…