The Two-Way Mirror #6: Voldemort and Fawkes

By Daniela

Two passages strike me as oddly similar:

“Fawkes swooped down in front of Dumbledore, opened his beak wide, and swallowed the jet of green light whole. He burst into flame and fell to the floor, small, wrinkled, and flightless.”
~ 815, OotP “The thing Wormtail had been carrying had the shape of a crouched human child, except that Harry had never seen anything less like a child. It was hairless and scaly-looking, a dark, raw, reddish black.”
~ 640, GoF

Like Fawkes, whose adult body burns and returns to being a baby when hit with the Avada Kedavra curse, Voldemort also lost his old body when he was hit by his own Avada Kedavra curse, and with time and snake milk, he grew to look like a “crouched human child . . . dark, raw, reddish black.” A rather repulsive baby, not unlike Fawkes’ babyhood: “Harry looked down in time to see a tiny, wrinkled, newborn bird poke its head out of the ashes. It was quite as ugly as the old one” (264, CoS). Dumbledore appears to agree: “‘He’s really very handsome most of the time, wonderful red and gold plumage'” (264, CoS: nice colors…).

Fawkes is the only being we have seen who attains by nature something close to immortality. When he gets old and burns up, he returns to being a baby that will grow again into a full-fledged bird.

The Avada Kedavra curse with which Voldemort directly hits Fawkes in the Ministry of Magic does not kill him!

The curse does not annihilate Fawkes. It destroys his outer shell, but allows the essential part of him to survive. Sound familiar?

I wonder, therefore, if Voldemort’s survival of the Avada Kedavra curse has something to do with the fact that the curse was performed with a wand that contained a feather from Fawkes’ tail.

One possible merry-go-round logic: suppose there is something special about Phoenix feathers. What if something happens when a Phoenix feather is directed against a Phoenix feather which prevents death of the holder of a Phoenix feather? So Voldemort could not be killed with a curse originating from a Phoenix wand because he was still holding a Phoenix wand, and Fawkes could not be killed by the Phoenix wand because he is a Phoenix – something like the idea that two wands with the same core cannot work against each other.

Or maybe there is some other special quality to Phoenixes and those connected with them. Dumbledore is a master of the uses of magic animals. He discovered the 12 uses of dragon blood. In Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore lists the “uses” of a Phoenix: “‘Fascinating creatures, Phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing powers, and they make highly faithful pets'” (264, CoS). But maybe, ironically, Dumbledore may have missed something about Fawkes or Phoenixes in general?

Something in the connection between Voldemort and the Phoenix has not yet been fully explained. Is it purely accidental that Voldemort has such a wand? The wand chooses the wizard. We don’t know why in the world the Phoenix feather (Fawkes’ at that) would choose Voldemort (or Tom Riddle). The twin wand chose Harry seemingly not because of who Harry is but because of his connection with Voldemort, but we can be sure the wand chose Voldemort/Tom Riddle because of who he is.

Unless there is something prophetic about Phoenix feathers as well, and the Phoenix wand chose Voldemort in order to defeat him… but then why save him once?

The connection between Voldemort and the Phoenix worked against him when his wand connected to Harry’s in Goblet of Fire. Fawkes worked against Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets. In that book, Tom underestimated the Phoenix entirely. How could he have been so out of touch with the bird’s powers? Wouldn’t you think he’d do a lot of research on a practically immortal being just because he is so interested in immortality?

Did the Phoenix connection help Voldemort survive once? And will Fawkes play a role in the future defeat of Voldemort?

Or was “immortal baby Voldemort” just a bad parody of “immortal baby Fawkes,” like the Baby Death Eater in the Department of Mysteries, transformed by the time bubble, is the parody of a baby, or like Bellatrix Lestrange is a bad parody of a mother: “‘The little baby woke up fwightened and fort what it dweamed was twoo,’ said the woman in a horrible, mock-baby voice” (782, OotP).

Oh, babyhood and motherhood: where will it lead us in the book? What to do with all these eggs lying around? Will we ever see a Phoenix egg? How about the egg from which Norbert came out, or the golden eggs beside the real gray ones under the dragons in the Triwizard tournament, or the bird’s egg inside the time bubble that itself resembles an egg that eventually transforms a Death Eater’s head into a baby’s head, or the hypothetical egg from which the Basilisk came, or the Chimaera egg that Hagrid would like to come by? Didn’t the warm glass globe in which the Prophecy was held also seem to be an egg in an incubator? It was so warm… And doesn’t the snitch resemble something between a bird and an egg?

The figure of the baby itself started the whole series: Harry as a baby, saved from the ashes of his real home, brought to 4 Privet Drive.

Some of the mysteries of life remain to be solved…