Dursley Dynamics: A Death Theory

by Angela Goff

JKR has indicated very clearly that we can expect more deaths in Books 6 and 7. Death theories abound, of course, but I think there is one very plausible death theory that I have yet to see make the circuit, so I will make a case for that person’s death here.

I am speaking, of course, of Vernon Dursley.

Consider this: if dementors can swoop upon Harry in the middle of Magnolia Crescent, and Dobby can Apparate unbidden into Harry’s bedroom, then other magical creatures or persons could also enter Number Four Privet Drive. Dumbledore’s explanation to Harry, after all, specifies that:

“While you can still call home the place where your mother’s blood dwells, there you cannot be touched or harmed by Voldemort.” – OotP, pg. 836

The implication is that “you” (that is, Harry) cannot be “touched or harmed” while he is with the Dursleys. It doesn’t exclude the possibility of a Death Eater, dementor, or other threat entering the house; nor does it negate the possibility of someone else dying in a Voldemort-related attack.

We know that Voldemort can’t touch Harry while he’s at the Dursley’s because of the covering of his mother’s blood, which also resides in his Aunt Petunia. This would also be true for Dudley who, as Petunia’s biological son, would have that same seal of protection. Uncle Vernon, sadly, is entirely out of that particular loop.

I imagine, however, that if Uncle Vernon did die, it would be during Book 7 – although Book 6 may prove me wrong. Even if he doesn’t die, his state of uncovered vulnerability makes him an open target for a physical attack that could result in an injury serious enough to land him in St. Mungo’s. (Remember, they do occasionally accept Muggles under special circumstances, see Ootp, pg. 490)

“But Vernon also calls home the place where [Harry’s] mother’s blood dwells,” I hear you say. Before you shrug this off as a far-fetched idea, consider what a Vernon Dursley death (or life-threatening, magically induced injury) would do.

We know from Aunt Petunia’s slip-up in OotP (pp. 31-41) that she knows a lot more about the wizarding world than she lets on – even to Uncle Vernon, it would seem. JKR even admits on her website that Dumbledore’s howler refers to his last letter to Petunia alone, and that there were others before that one. This would indicate that Petunia actually has a considerable amount of first-hand information of the wizarding world, not just snippets of gossip she gleaned from eavesdropping on her sister’s conversations with James.

But how long did it take for this insight into Petunia to surface? Five whole books, all of them with lengthy Dursley-infested scenes. In fact, when the threat of dementors and Voldemort’s return jolted Petunia into a couple of revealing comments, it shocked more than just the readers. Harry, Dudley and Uncle Vernon were completely floored, too. The key name in that previous sentence, of course, is Uncle Vernon.

Petunia has been married to him for years, and it appears she hasn’t peeped once about her knowledge until the opening pages of OotP. Even when she does say something, even Uncle Vernon – her own husband – cannot get anything more out of her (pp. 40-41). Maybe they had a talk after the boys were in bed, but judging from her reaction in the kitchen – I don’t think so.

JKR has said – in a combination of straight answers and tantalizing hints – that by the end of the series we will know all we need to know about:

  1. Harry’s family’s history
  2. What Petunia knows about the wizarding world
  3. What Dudley heard/saw when the dementors attacked him

So how is she going to tie all of this into the story? Well, the facts about Harry may be easily accessed through someone in the wizarding world, or even another sojourn through Dumbledore’s pensieve (though I don’t expect another one of those). But items 2 and 3 are not kept in a pensieve, a magic mirror, or the mind of any wizard/witch Harry may know or yet meet. Those two facts must come exclusively from the Dursley side of the coin.

This means, at some point, Petunia must tell all that she knows. But if she’s been married to Vernon for 16 to 17 years at the least, and his first realization that she actually knew anything about the wizarding world was pg. 31 of OotP, then what on earth could make her long-standing pride collapse so that she divulges everything she knows?

It would have to be a massive catalyst to loosen her tightly reined tongue. A huge catalyst. And the only event powerful enough (that I can see) to bring such a confession about would be for the danger to finally hit home – to hit her family.

Again – the Evans bloodline protects her, Harry and Dudley. By Dumbledore’s statement and by implication from the OotP text, they cannot be touched. So..

Farewell, Vernon Dursely. Rest in peace. (P.S. As much of a jerk that he is, I really do hope I’m wrong.)