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The Mystery of R. A. B.

by Kirstie E.R.

I was devastated by Dumbledore’s death. I personally did not believe any of the rumors that were going around that Dumbledore would be the one to die in Book Six. I thought it would be too early for him to die, but alas, it seems I was wrong, and Harry is now going to face the most challenging year of his life. With Dumbledore’s death, Harry has been given plenty of problems to solve on his own, including a new mystery that will be key to his future: who is R. A. B.? There is not much to go on, but we already see by the end of HBP that Harry is working on finding out who took the real Horcrux. The only clues we have for this mysterious character are in the note he left us (609, HBP):

 

“To the Dark Lord
I know I will be dead long before you read this
but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret.
I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can.
I face death in the hope that when you meet your match,
you will be mortal once more.
R. A. B.”
There is not very much information to go on except three abbreviated letters, and as Hermione has found out, they do not seem to offer much insight as to who the person is. It seems as if we are given another situation that is similar to Nicolas Flamel, except in this case we are trying to find out who the person is, not what they did.

When I read this note, it struck me as odd because I got the feeling that it was a note that belonged to the past and the future (let me explain before you think I’m crazy). R. A. B. starts off the letter in a way that makes it sound as if he has been dead for a long time: “I know I will be dead long before you read this…” The letter reminds me of the way a will would be written – the writer almost trying to offer comfort to those who he left behind after he or she died, except this letter wouldn’t bring comfort to the intended reader. The writer also seems to assume that this note will not be read for a long time. At the same time, this letter offers enormous insight into the future in that the writer seems to have some knowledge of Harry and the prophecy. Because of the way the letter sounds, it seems reasonable to conclude that this note was not written recently but some time ago, yet at the same time it seems to have knowledge of the prophecy. My guess is that it was written shortly after Professor Trelawney gave the prophecy about Voldemort’s vanquisher approaching.

There are four criteria that I think our R. A. B. has to fulfill:

1) he has to be dead – the writer seems to have little doubt that he will be2) he knows about Voldemort’s Horcruxes

3) he knows Voldemort personally

4) he knows that someone will come along to finish off Voldemort – this person does not seem to be trying to kill Voldemort himself because he leaves the job for one other person: “I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more.” The person is obviously trying to help the person who is going to fulfill the prophecy.

Now that I have laid out the criteria I believe our mysterious R. A. B. has to follow, I will state who I believe the person is: Regulus Black, Sirius’ younger brother. I know the initials do not match up exactly, but we have not yet learned for certain the middle name of Regulus Black. The first and last initials match perfectly, and he is the only character we have been introduced to who could have the initials R. B.

Of course, initials are not a lot to go by, so it might help to reiterate what we know about Regulus Black, but it should be noted that all we know is what Regulus’ brother Sirius tells us, and that Rowling does not always have her characters tell us the full truth – rather, sometimes it is just their speculations. What does seem factual about Regulus is that he was younger than Sirius, that he became a Death Eater, and that he was killed fifteen (now sixteen) years ago. The rest that we know about Regulus is Sirius’ speculation:

“No, he was murdered by Voldemort. Or on Voldemort’s order, more likely, I doubt Regulus was ever important enough to be killed by Voldemort in person. From what I found out after he died, he got in so far, then panicked about what he was being asked to do and tried to back out. Well, you don’t just hand in your resignation to Voldemort. It’s a lifetime of service or death.”
(112, OotP)

What I think happened to Regulus is very close to what Sirius said. If Regulus had deserted the Death Eaters and Voldemort, then he would surely be expected to die soon. Regulus probably knew that the Death Eaters or Voldemort himself would kill him soon (my guess is that it was the Death Eaters who did it). It seems true that Regulus did abandon Voldemort when he learned what was really expected of him, but it should be kept in mind that this is Sirius’ speculation. I think it is possible that, since Regulus was killed around the time the prophecy was given, he heard about it and started to waver in loyalty.

From what Voldemort says in the graveyard to his Death Eaters after his re-birth – “And I asked myself, but how could they have believed I would not rise again? They, who knew the steps I took, long ago, to guard myself against mortal death?” (648, GoF) – it seems likely that some of the Death Eaters knew that Voldemort might have made Horcruxes, but it is likely that they did not know how many. With these pieces of evidence it is easy to see how Regulus Black is probably the mysterious R. A. B.

1) He has to be dead.
Regulus died sixteen years ago as of HBP, and if he knew he would be killed for deserting Voldemort, that is likely why he thinks he will “long be dead” by the time the note is ever read.2) He knows about Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
From what Voldemort has said, it seems possible that Regulus could have found out about the Horcruxes.

3) He knows Voldemort personally.
If he was a Death Eater, he certainly would have known Voldemort personally.

4) He knows that someone will come along to finish off Voldemort.
If he happened to hear of the prophecy, he would know that there would be someone in the future to contend with Voldemort.

I think Regulus probably had more courage than Sirius gave him credit for. I have a feeling that Regulus found himself in a situation similar to what Draco Malfoy got himself into in HBP. Regulus probably did get scared, but unlike Draco, he refused to do what Voldemort was asking him to do and actually tried to help the future vanquisher destroy Voldemort. It takes a lot of guts to go against Voldemort, and I have a feeling Regulus knew he could never hide from Voldemort, and if he was going to die, he did not want to do it cowardly but was going to try to do something that would be devastating to Voldemort. Sounds a bit like his older brother, doesn’t he?

After reading Rowling’s books for years we know she is sneaky in the way she hides information. She often introduces important concepts or characters in an offhanded manner that makes them appear as if they are not of much importance, yet a book or two later we find out that there is something significant about a single innocent looking remark. I think it is likely that Harry will come to figure out who the mysterious R. A. B. is through either Sirius’ house or Kreacher; both of which he has conveniently inherited. I think that Harry will again find help in a person that he was not expecting.