I KNOW! I KNOW! Why Voldemort Didn’t Die

by Robbie Fischer

It came to me as I was reading Eric Holleman’s excellent editorial on Mythology, Voldemort, Love, and the Final 2 Books, which continued spinning out one of the main threads in fan speculation about how Harry does Voldemort in. As the theory generally runs, something about the force behind the locked door in the Department of Mysteries (presumably Love) proves to be Harry’s final trump card, which he deals against Lord Voldemort either by one possessing the other or by Harry learning to love Tom Riddle and teaching Tom to break free of the Voldemort persona.

It’s a nice theory. But frankly, folks, I’ve had it spotted as a red herring for a looooong time. At best, it’s only scraping the edge of what could be the real answer. Only, I didn’t come up with anything better until Holleman made an innocent remark about the Holy Grail. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I kid you not, I actually screamed, “I KNOW! I KNOW!” – just like Harry did when he recognized the door to the Department of Mysteries that he had been dreaming about.

It’s been right under my nose, people. One of the first books I reviewed for the Book Trolley is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I think the key to Voldemort’s hope for immortality – and his undoing – lies in this book, which has much in common with many a classic legend, fairy tale, and myth. This could be the key to why Voldemort didn’t die when he first tried to kill Harry, and if so, there’s only one way Harry can destroy him.

In Howl’s Moving Castle, the wizard Howl makes a pact with a fire demon (also known as a fallen star). The dying star gets a lease on life, and in return, the wizard gets an all-but-limitless source of power. But there is a cost for both of them. The star is enslaved until the wizard knows true love, and this is made nigh unto impossible because the wizard’s heart is removed from his body and becomes the ever-burning coal in which the star resides.

This kind of idea occurs several times in the writings of Diana Wynne Jones, as well as the works of E. Nesbit (see “The Magician’s Heart” in The Magic World), and others. By some Dark Magic, a wizard (or witch or other magical being, such as a djinn or a demon) can remove the heart from his body and still live. His heart may be transfigured into some other object and hidden in a clever or secure place. Then, as long as no one finds his heart, the wizard (or whatever) is invulnerable, even immortal. But if another person gets hold of the heart, that person holds said wizard (or witch, etc.) completely under his power.

So here’s my big theory, everybody…

Way back when young Tom Riddle was going through his various vile transformations on his way to becoming Lord Voldemort, he discovered an ancient magic to remove his heart and transform it into something nearly indestructible. Something that could be hidden away for a long, long time – perhaps forever. Something that wouldn’t attract the attention of a thief, that wouldn’t be spotted as something desirable or powerful, but that nevertheless would not be casually destroyed or recycled. Something like, say, a big shooting marble that looks like a scarlet eyeball, an ironwood carving of a coiled snake, a plain polished stone set in a brass ring, etc.

Then this object would be put in a place where no one would think to look for it, as far from Voldemort as possible, where no one seeking his undoing will think to find it… such as a bucketful of marbles buried under a cobblestone in Diagon Alley, the top of a carved wooden bedstead in the Slytherin boys’ dormitory, the finger of the statue of Lachlan the Lanky, etc.

As long as no one destroys this object, Voldemort will live and nothing you do to him can destroy him – not even a killing curse, though it may compromise his physical existence a little bit. But if this object is destroyed – crushed, shattered, melted in fire, or whatever – then Voldemort, wherever he is and whatever he is doing, is dead meat.

The key to Voldemort’s immortality, then, is to turn his heart into such a thing that no one will guess what it is, that no one will even associate with Voldemort, and that is not likely to be destroyed. Perhaps a side effect of this Dark Magic is that Voldemort is unable to love or even understand love.

Therefore, the key to Voldemort’s undoing is as simple as figuring out where he has hidden his heart and gaining control of it. Whoever gets hold of that object, Voldemort can do nothing against him, but becomes in effect that person’s slave. That person could use Voldemort as a source of vast, evil magic power, like the djinn in Castle in the Air or the demon in Dark Lord of Derkholm – becoming potentially an even worse villain than Voldemort himself. Or that person could simply destroy the heart-object and Voldemort would be SOL. Or that person could command Voldemort, on pain of death, to put his heart back in his chest and become like the rest of us: mortal, able to love, and no more powerful than any other exceptionally adept wizard. Of course, this would be quite risky. Would you take a Dark Lord at his word? But of the three options, I think this is the one that Harry might do.

And in a way, this theory goes right back to Erin’s (and many others’) theory: Harry gives Tom Riddle his heart back and thereby vanquishes Lord Voldemort.

Gulp. I don’t know about you, but I’m so excited by this theory that I’m afraid it might be true. Part of me hopes that I’m a mile off. Whatever you do, JKR, don’t blink. I really, really, really don’t want to know yet! But if you think about it, this could be the obvious answer to the obvious question that none of us noticed or asked!

Robbie “Hoping-I-forget-all-about-this-idea” Fischer