The Last Place He'll Think To Look
An original editorial by Maya
So much to do, and just one book left to do it in. Voldemort made a play for immortality by splitting his soul into seven parts. Six parts went into Horcruxes and one part remains in his body. The most recent mission to retrieve a Horcrux was so dangerous that even the great Dumbledore didnt survive it. All six Horcruxes need to be destroyed before Harry can kill Voldemort. It sounds rather complicated, doesnt it? To give Harry and his friends enough time to deal with the Horcrux issue, Book 7 will need to be huge.
Or will it? JKR has already indicated that Deathly Hallows wont be insanely long -- she doesnt even expect it to be as long as Order of the Phoenix. If she felt comfortable saying that before shed started seriously writing Deathly Hallows, it suggests Harry may not be facing a task as overwhelming as some are imagining. Im guessing that JKR has a plan that allows Harry to take some shortcuts in completing his quest. (And no, Im not referring to theories based on R.A.B. ever knowing there was more to it than the locket or Dumbledore faking his own death so he can sneak around destroying Horcruxes.)
Dumbledore (who, according to JKR, is never very far wide of the mark) suggested that the six Horcruxes are Riddles diary, the Gaunt family ring, Slytherins locket, Hufflepuffs cup, an item that once belonged to either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor, and Nagini the snake. The diary-Horcrux was destroyed by Harry, and Dumbledore destroyed the ring-Horcrux. As fate would have it, two of the four remaining Horcruxes shouldnt be terribly far out of Harrys reach.
Possible Shortcut #1: Is That a Locket in Your Pocket?
Slytherins locket (assuming that it is indeed the heavy locket that none of them could open found in Grimmauld Place in Order of the Phoenix) may already be in the possession of someone Harry knows. Mundungus may have stolen it; it then, may have passed from Mundungus to Aberforth. It is also possible that Kreacher may have hidden it. Any of these possibilities would allow Harry to obtain the locket through either detective work or dumb luck.
Possible Shortcut #2: Creepy Snakes Are Centrally Located
Nagini may be even easier to get at. Voldemort likes to keep her close, and Harry will obviously be meeting up with him again before Deathly Hallows is over. If nothing else, Harry could always let himself be captured after the other Horcruxes have been destroyed. If the Death Eaters bring him to the Dark Lord, they unwittingly bring him within striking distance of a Horcrux.
Possible Shortcut #3: It Doesnt Take a Genius to Stab a Book
Okay, I know what a few of you are thinking: Just because Harry can get to those two Horcruxes easily, doesnt mean that it will be easy for him to destroy them. Look at Dumbledores withered hand! If you are thinking that, youre forgetting some important details. The first is that Dumbledore never claimed destroying the Horcrux was what caused his injury. The ring was magically concealed in the Gaunts house, protected by many powerful enchantments and a terrible curse. Dumbledore does say that a withered hand does not seem an unreasonable exchange for a seventh of Voldemorts soul, but I dont believe he was implying that destroying the Horcrux is what damaged his hand. It was getting past the protections on the ring (the curse, specifically) that hurt him.
This belief is reinforced by what we know from Harrys experience with Riddles diary in Chamber of Secrets. Harry stabbed the book with the basilisks fang, and the Horcrux was destroyed. This was done completely on the basis of Harrys instinct or intuition -- he had never heard of a Horcrux in his second year, and certainly hadnt researched methods of destroying them. The events in Chamber of Secrets strongly suggest that there is nothing inherently dangerous about destroying a Horcrux. Harrys experience with the diary also proves that there is no special spell required to destroy one. Youll recall that the diary had a hole pierced through it and the rings stone was cracked. The key to destroying Horcruxes may turn out to be something as simple as finding a way (magical or otherwise) to open or break the object encasing the soul. Do three determined teenagers need much instruction on how to break things? I expect not.
Possible Shortcut #4: The Magic Number
Its very important to Voldemort that he have a seven-part soul, seven being the most powerfully magic number. He knows that the diary was destroyed, leaving him (he thinks) one Horcrux short of his goal. But I dont expect him to replace that Horcrux, for the same reason he never completed his set of six Horcruxes in the first place. Think back to what Dumbledore told Harry in Half-Blood Prince:
He seems to have reserved the process of making Horcruxes for particularly significant deaths. You would certainly have been that. He believed that in killing you, he was destroying the danger the prophecy had outlined. He believed he was making himself invincible. I am sure that he was intending to make his final Horcrux with your death.
(Half-Blood Prince, page 506, US hardback)
Here we are a decade and a half after that night in Godrics Hollow, and history has repeated itself. Voldemort believes he has the creation of one more Horcrux and the death of a boy called Harry Potter standing between himself and immortality. This time, however, Harrys death would be all the more significant to Voldemort, seeing as how hed failed to kill the kid at least four times now. I think our villain has returned to his old plan -- his final Horcrux will require nothing less than The Boy Who Died.
On a related note, I dont believe Voldemort will find out that any of the Horcruxes other than the diary have been destroyed until its too late to make replacements. This is more for storytelling reasons than anything -- think of what would happen if Voldemort was continually replacing Horcruxes. If Harry found out about it, he would be chasing down new Horcruxes for the rest of his life. If Harry didnt find out, he would probably fight Voldemort once the original Horcruxes were destroyed only to lose in the end. Even if you like the idea of the villain winning, that doesnt strike me as a very interesting way for it to happen. (I fully expect Harry to be victorious, but on the off chance that Voldemort wins, he may as well win big. Harry never standing a fair chance after an entire books worth of pointless Horcrux-chasing wouldnt prove much.) I think JKR had Dumbledore tell us that Voldemort cant feel it when a Horcrux is destroyed so well have less reason to sit around at the end of Deathly Hallows wondering why the Dark Lord didnt see this one coming.
Possible Shortcut #5: No, Really -- Ron Will Be Useful
Even if everything Ive suggested so far is true, theres still the trouble of the other two Horcruxes: Hufflepuffs cup and the Ravenclaw/Gryffindor relic. Tom Riddle stole the cup at the same time as the locket and presumably acquired the unidentified item later on. Odds are, these Hogwarts-founder-Horcruxes are as thoroughly protected as the Slytherin-Horcrux was. Theyre probably hidden and surrounded by potentially deadly magical traps or safeguards. The magnitude of the challenges that Harry can expect to face was demonstrated by the difficulty Dumbledore had in retrieving the fake locket-Horcrux.
What helped Dumbledore get to the locket? He was a very wise and powerful wizard, and theres no denying that his thinking and magical abilities were a major factor. Unfortunately, Harry doesnt have the luxury of taking the next hundred years or so to get up to Dumbledores skill level. If were looking for shortcuts, it might be more useful to focus on the other reason Dumbledore was ultimately able to pluck the locket from the basin: teamwork. (One alone could not have done it.)
Voldemort is, and apparently always has been, the ultimate loner. He doesnt want friends or equals of any sort, an attitude that is presumably a consequence of his inability to love. As intelligent as Voldemort is in some ways, hes also shown that this is his biggest blind spot. He probably thought his plan to kill baby Harry was foolproof, but he was foiled by a mother refusing to save her own life at the expense of her childs. A normal, loving person could have predicted that Lily would die rather than abandon her baby. That Voldemort would even bother to offer to spare Lily (and JKR has verified that the offer was genuine) demonstrates how his inability to understand love leaves him vulnerable.
Voldemorts blind spot got him again when it came to protecting the locket. He works alone, and he seemed to assume that anyone who might seriously challenge him would likewise be working alone. The protections around the locket Horcrux were nearly foolproof, but he obviously made a huge miscalculation with the boat. If Dumbledore hadnt been able to bring Harry with him on the boat, they wouldnt have been able to get the locket.
Harrys best friends have already indicated that theyll be accompanying him on his quest. Since the three of them make such a good team, theyll be sure to exploit any other loopholes Voldemort may have left open because he didnt take the possibilities of caring or cooperation into account. (And as a bonus: If the remaining founder-Horcruxes happen to be Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, Hermiones much-noted intelligence and Rons much-noted loyalty may somehow prove even more useful than usual.)
Possible Shortcut #6: Last Thing's First
: This editorial was actually submitted before another by the same author, in which Shortcut #6 is morphed into a full theory. Check it out here:The Keys to His Soul
In the cave, Dumbledore explained that Voldemort would have left himself a way to safely pass through whatever obstacles were in place in case he ever wanted to visit or remove his Horcrux. This makes sense. But how did Voldemort plan to do it?
Its been suggested that if Voldemort wanted to retrieve the locket, he could have done it using a method similar to Harry and Dumbledores. Before going to the cave, Voldemort could have kidnapped a Muggle child. The child wouldnt register with the boat and could be made to drink the potion in the basin, allowing Voldemort to remove the locket.
If that was the plan, it would mean Voldemort was being especially careless. He not only forgot to account for the possibility of an underage wizard willingly traveling on the boat, but apparently also ignored the risk of a Muggle child or house-elf unwillingly taking the boat and drinking the potion when forced by an adult wizard other than himself. That runs contrary to Dumbledores suggestion that Voldemort had set other obstacles ahead that only he would be able to penetrate. If the Dark Lord truly does not believe in the distinction between good and evil (as Quirrell claimed), Voldemort should have no reason to think that a person trying to kill him would have a problem with killing anyone else. I tend to think it makes more sense to assume Voldemort completely overlooked the potential to take a second person on the boat, than it does to assume he built it in as a feature and simply trusted that no one else would take advantage of it.
If we rule out his using a Muggle child or some similar unwilling accomplice, that still leaves us with the original question. How did Voldemort plan to retrieve that locket if it became necessary? Get ready -- this is the part where we stomp right through the thickets of wildest guesswork and sit down to have a tea party in the briar patch of inductive reasoning.
While Hepzibah Smith was showing Slytherins locket and Hufflepuffs cup off for Tom Riddle, she mentioned that both items supposedly had all sorts of powers. She didnt know what the powers might be, however, because she always kept the relics safely tucked away. (If she were alive today, I bet shed be the kind of person who never takes action figures out of their original packaging.) Tom, being a bit more inquisitive than Hepzibah, may have decided to learn more about the special powers each item possessed. Suppose he found out that one of the cups powers had to do with what happened when you filled it up with liquid. Perhaps it neutralized poisons or made whatever was put into it disappear. Voldemort could have used such a magical property to allow himself to safely remove the potion from the basin in the cave -- one relic to help him get to another. Use any cup but Hufflepuffs, and you get the full effect of that awful potion.
Of course, Harry has already emptied the basin in the less pleasant way. How does any of this cup business help him? It doesnt, unless we take it a step or two further.
Lets suppose the mystery Horcrux is something that belonged to Ravenclaw. (It doesnt really matter who it belonged to, but itll be easier to explain this theory if I can use some definitive labels.) If Hufflepuffs cup and Slytherins locket have special powers, Ravenclaws relic probably does as well. Just as he made the deadliest obstacle protecting the locket easy to bypass if he used the special properties of the cup, Voldemort could have made the deadliest obstacle protecting the cup easy to bypass if he used the special properties of Ravenclaws relic. But now were out of Horcruxes. So what could Voldemort have used to bypass the deadliest obstacle protecting Ravenclaws relic?
Think about the night Voldemort first attacked Harry. As I mentioned earlier, Dumbledore believed that Voldemort was planning to make his final Horcrux with Harrys death. We cant know for sure, but it seems reasonable to guess that Voldemort had located whatever item he wanted to use to create that last Horcrux before he attacked the Potters. Since this happened in Godrics Hollow, lets say that Voldemort found a Gryffindor relic after all. (Again, it doesnt really matter whose it was.) So, we can continue our pattern by suggesting that the Ravenclaw relic had already been hidden, and that Gryffindors relic could be used to access it without dying.
Using this system of needing one founders relic to access another would allow Voldemort to collect that group of Horcruxes rather efficiently, as long as he did it in the proper order. At the same time, those Horcruxes would remain relatively secure from outside attack. What are the odds (in Voldemorts mind, anyway) that someone could figure out that he made multiple Horcruxes, locate their hiding places, get through all but the final protections, realize that it takes one Horcrux to get another, and be lucky enough to find the Horcruxes in the correct sequence? Not to mention that person would also have to find the ring and diary Horcruxes, which were protected in ways totally unconnected to the methods used to hide the founders objects. It was all part of yet another of Voldemorts nearly foolproof plans. It would have worked out so well, if only it hadnt been for that pesky little rebounded curse...
During the time when Voldemort was less than the meanest spirit, its unlikely that he would have had any way to reclaim that relic of Gryffindors that never became a Horcrux. So what became of it? Harry is planning to visit Godrics Hollow -- maybe hell stumble across something there. He could either find the relic itself, or information that leads him to it. Once hes got Gryffindors relic, he just has to be lucky enough to discover where Ravenclaws relic is hidden before he discovers where Hufflepuffs cup is hidden. (Hey, its a 50/50 chance. It wouldnt take that much luck.) If Harry and his friends can figure out that they need to use Gryffindors relic to help them, they should be able to collect Ravenclaws relic. Ravenclaws relic will likewise help them collect Hufflepuffs cup. Put all these items together with Slytherins locket, and voila! The Hogwarts Four are reunited, and Harry and his friends arent even a little bit dead.
Possible Shortcut #7: Destiny May Not Exist, but Authors Do
JKR has said that Deathly Hallows will be a torturous and winding journey for Harry, and I dont doubt her. At the same time, it wouldnt make sense for the task of destroying the Horcruxes to be impossible. After all, how many chapters can she fill by repeating Harry still had no idea where to look for Horcruxes" or "what to do if he found one over and over?
Heres what it all comes down to: if JKR wants everything about the Horcrux hunt to fall into place for Harry, it will. Hes bound to discover clues when he needs them, find help where he needs it, and be lucky when luck is the only thing left that can save him. The challenges he faces will be just difficult enough to meet the needs of the story, but no more difficult than that. Each Horcrux will be in the last place Harry thinks to look, but that doesnt mean his quest will require turning over every rock in the wizarding world. Its like that old saying: you always find what youre searching for in the last place you think to look -- because then you've stopped looking for it.
Posted by: Amy