The Burrow: The Piece Left Behind
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we find out that there is something that can make a wizard immortal, presumably with repeated doses over the course of the time the wizard wishes to remain living. We were also given a clue VERY early in the book, thanks to Hagrid. When Hagrid was explaining to Harry the basics of what happened the night he received his scar, he says something to the effect of “… some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. I don’t reckon there was enough human left in him to die.” We see, also that some wizards have the ability to turn, at will into an animal (Professor McGonagall at the beginning of the book meets Dumbledore on Privet Drive as a cat). We don’t receive a full explanation for this yet until Book 3. We also find out that unicorn blood can sustain a wizard “even if he is within an inch of death, but at a terrible price” (thanks, Firenze, see you in Book 5) and that Voldemort is not above paying that price to survive. Lastly, we find out that LOVE is an incredibly powerful magical force and is the very reason that Voldemort is still alive: the loving sacrifice of Lily to save her son Harry.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we find out a few more details. We find out that it is possible to leave a sort of imprint of one’s self in an object (does a piece of the bestower actually stay there?). We find out that Voldemort was a half-blood and was originally known as Tom Marvolo Riddle. We also find out that it is possible to transfer powers (such as Parseltongue) from one person to another. Toward the very end, we find out from Dumbledore that Tom underwent numerous transformations to become Voldemort.
Very few people know that Lord Voldemort was once called Tom Riddle. I taught him myself, fifty years ago, at Hogwarts. He disappeared after leaving the school… traveled far and wide… sank so deeply into the Dart Arts, consorted with the very worst of our kind, underwent so many dangerous, magical transformations, that when he resurfaced as Lord Voldemort, he was barely recognizable. Hardly anyone connected Lord Voldemort with the clever, handsome boy who was once Head Boy here.” (CoS)
This is the first time we have actual mention of the magical transformations of a wizard, though we learn a great deal more about them in the next book. We also see that Tom Riddle tried to revive himself and regain a body by taking Ginny into the Chamber. It also served as a useful lure to get Harry into the Chamber as well. I would presume that once Tom had a body (had he been successful), he would seek out that part of him that remained after the attack on Harry and somehow reintegrate the two parts to become, once again, a full-strength Lord Voldemort. This is never clearly stated, however, I cannot see Tom Riddle wanting to go through all he had previously (and it may not work out as well the 2nd time around) to regain his strength and knowledge. There is also the matter of what actually WAS left behind after the attack. It is not JUST his soul (or not all of it anyway) because he did not actually die. If he had died but left his soul there, would he not have been a ghost, or perhaps a poltergeist with his temperament? So could a newly reborn Tom Riddle have survived for long without the reintegration? I don’t think so, but again there is no precedence for this, more of a gut feeling.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we find out a great many things about magic, though not too much more about Voldemort specifically. Most important is that we find out there is something called the Animagus Transformation. After successfully performing it, a wizard is able to change from his human form to an animal form (chosen by fate according to the individual’s soul/personality/etc., which should have given James a clue when Peter became a rat) at will. We also learn that it can go terribly wrong and can be very dangerous, hence the ministry keeps a close eye on those attempting the transformation. We also are introduced to Seers and the art of Divination. We find out that many in the wizarding community disregard this entire branch of magic. We learn that Trelawney is the great-granddaughter of a true Seer and that she has made at least one other true prophecy before the night of Harry’s Divination exam and the whole escape of Pettigrew/Wormtail. We also, however, find out that seeing the future is a very murky, hazy, difficult task (of which Professor Trelawney should be a good example). We also learn a great deal more about the developing personalities and backgrounds of all our main characters. Oh, I almost forgot, we also learn that a body can survive without a soul. We learn this as the effects of the Dementor’s Kiss are described.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we see the beginning of the rebirth of Voldemort. There is a great deal of Character development in this book as well. We find out about the three Unforgivable Curses. We learn that Harry, while he does have help, is certainly a formidable wizard for being able to compete in the Triwizard Tournament against three much older students and hold his own. We find out that Voldemort did indeed know about the power of Love, but dismissed it as he always does, thereby miscalculating and causing the spell to backfire and rebound upon himself. Voldemort admits that the spell that rebounded SHOULD have killed him (and who would know more about that spell and what happened that night than he). He states that one or more of the steps he took so long ago to ensure his continued survival must have worked. He also mentioned that he was painfully (I am SOOO glad it was painful) ripped from his body. He mentions the use of unicorn blood (remember that from Book 1) and snake venom in a potion of his own creation which restored him to a rudimentary body (obviously he had a body as he was able to hold a wand). And he describes the potion that enabled his rebirth as an old piece of Dark Magic, requiring three key ingredients. We also see for the first time that Harry has potential BEYOND that of Lord Voldemort (I mean we always kinda knew it had to be, but….). Being as knowledgeable in Magic as he is, Voldemort should have known more about what was going on when the Wands connected than did Harry. And yet, when one-on-one, wand to wand, HARRY was able to, even though he didn’t know why, send those beads of light back into Voldemort’s wand and create the Priori Incantatem phenomenon from Voldemort’s Wand.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we learn about a few other branches of magic, such as Occlumency and Legilimency, which are branches of magic that deal with what we Muggles call “mind reading.” We learn about the many real prophecies that occur and are kept recorded in the Ministry of Magic. We also learn the details of one such prophecy, the one about Harry and Voldemort. And we learn all about what Dumbledore knows for certain about the events that took place the night James and Lily were killed by Voldemort. Again we are reminded of the Power of LOVE, which must be the power that is kept locked in that room in the Dept. of Mysteries. We have seen Time being studied, as well as brains, the planets, and even Death itself. We see an attempt by Voldemort to possess Harry (as opposed to merely planting thoughts into his head as was happening all through the book). And then there was the mysterious instrument in Dumbledore’s office (“Yes, but in essence divided”).
Now that we have a solid background in the wizarding world as created by JKR, we can begin our speculation. It is so hard to speculate on the exact nature of what Voldemort did to prevent his death since there are so many infinite possibilities available to the imagination. Now, if I were a Legilimens, I could read the imagination of JKR and see which possibility SHE prefers, but alas, I am not a Legilimens. After all, what we are really trying to predict, is the inner workings of JKR’s mind and imagination.
I am going to take an educated stab at it, however. I think we can piece together a few things from all these clues to get a reasonable estimation. Obviously, one or more of Voldemort’s transformations did the trick. I think they made him somewhat less than human and possibly bound his soul to the earthly realm. Now, consider also that when a spell is rebounded it is as if the spell was originated from the original target. There is precedence for this in Order of the Phoenix when Harry rebounds the spell at Professor Snape. Had Professor Snape been hit with the spell exactly as he had cast it, well, Snape would have read his own mind (that would have been intriguing). But, it was rebounded as though Harry had cast it, hence Harry saw into Snape’s mind. So the rebound upon Voldemort meant that the Avada Kedavra spell hit him as if it were cast by Harry. That creates a connection between Harry and Voldemort. As Voldemort was RIPPED from his body, perhaps he was about to be absorbed INTO Harry, but struggled to escape and mostly did, but at the same time leaving a small part behind. That small part gave Harry the scar. It gives him the power of Parseltongue. It linked their two minds at times of intense emotion once Voldemort had a body again. It would also explain the cryptic “in essence divided” comment by Dumbledore.
So, If we assume we are correct up to this point, it seems plausible that only Harry has the power to vanquish Voldemort because only Harry has a piece of Voldemort within him. Dumbledore said that it is love that will finally finish Voldemort for good. Perhaps it is love that Harry must use to crush the piece of Voldemort inside him. Or perhaps that piece of Voldemort is just the conduit (like a Floo Network for the soul) to Voldemort and Harry must channel all the love he feels for others, that he feels from his friends, etc. and channel that all through the use of some form of Legilimency into Voldemort through that conduit created by the piece of him inside Harry.
I could certainly see it taking the full two years remaining for Harry to develop the skill and self-control required to perform such difficult magic. Along the way, there will most certainly be many trials and tribulations testing and strengthening his humanity and ability to love.
This is one possible option. I am sure there are MANY others. I will enjoy reading about the other possibilities.