R.A.B. – Another Crazy Theory

by Richard of York

Well, the identity of R.A.B. is the big mystery of Half-Blood Prince, and I thought I’d throw a new theory into the ring. Like many people, the Regulus Black theory seems a little too obvious to me. But I would like to suggest that R.A.B. could, in fact, be Horace Slughorn.

I know, I know – he has completely wrong initials. But we all know how Jo likes to deceive us. No one seems to have cottoned on to the fact that the person who wrote that note could simply have been… lying. Why would they do this? Most obviously, to cast suspicion away from themselves and on to someone else. And who better than the conveniently dead Regulus Black, who will never be able to deny it?

With this in mind, I cast around for other people who could have stolen the locket and blamed Regulus. Snape and Karkaroff were two early suspects, but there are many reasons why it couldn’t have been them. But Slughorn – well, look at the evidence. A previous editorial has stated that R.A.B. must:

1) be dead (because the writer of the note seems to have little doubt that he will be)
2) know about Voldemort’s Horcruxes
3) know Voldemort personally

But if the writer is lying only point 2 holds true (although 3 is still quite likely).

Actually the only thing we know for sure about whoever stole the locket, is that he must have:

a) known about Voldemort’s horcruxes.

Apart from Dumbledore, Slughorn is the only person we have met who knows about horcruxes and has guessed that Voldemort probably made one (as evidenced by the fact that he thought he might have ‘done great damage that day’ by telling him).

(b) been sufficiently talented at magic to find the cave and steal the locket.

We know Slughorn is a wizard with ‘considerable talent’. Though he didn’t know of the existence of the cave like Dumbledore did, we know that the ministry can detect magic, and that Dumbledore can sense it when magic has been used in a place. It is quite possible Slughorn could have found the place using this ‘sense’, or whatever technique the ministry uses (and if you happened to be looking for a horcrux, a remote cave that had seen strong magic would look pretty suspicious). He is also extremely gifted with potions. Whoever stole the locket managed to get past the potion surrounding the locket and get out without alerting Voldemort or getting ‘zapped’ by the potion. If anyone could do this, Slughorn could.

In addition, Slughorn knew both Voldemort and Regulus, as he was Head of House for both of them. He probably knew Regulus was a Death Eater. If he didn’t guess while he was alive, then the news probably got out after he was killed. He was an ideal person to frame for the theft.

You may argue that Slughorn seems to be too cowardly to try to steal the locket from under Voldemort’s nose. After all, he hid for a year before coming to Hogwarts. I, however, guess that Slughorn is not the coward he appears to be. As Phineas Nigellus says, Slytherins are “brave, but not stupid.” The defining feature of Slughorn’s personality is that he is cautious. Stealing the locket (out of remorse for telling Voldemort about horcuxes in the first place) and then leaving a note signing someone else’s name is just the sort of thing he would do to cover his tracks. After all, if Voldemort ever discovered the theft, he might well think of Slughorn. Voldemort doesn’t appear to have told even the Death Eaters about his horcruxes (another point which suggests Regulus didn’t do it). Slughorn was the only person who knew about the interest the young Tom Riddle had shown in horcruxes, which makes him prime suspect for Voldemort. But by leaving a note signed “R.A.B.” and hinting things like, “I will probably be dead by the time you read this,” Slughorn cunningly diverts attention on to another person, maybe Regulus, but maybe someone else. It was clever to use only initials, because if it turned out that Voldemort knew there was no way Regulus could have done it, his suspicion would have moved on to another R.A.B., but not Slughorn.

If Slughorn did steal the locket, why didn’t he inform Dumbledore? Well, remember his cautious nature. He doesn’t want to give any incriminating evidence away to anyone, especially if it might get back to Voldemort. And he is still ashamed of letting Voldemort know about horcruxes so he doesn’t want to tell Dumbledore about that. And Dumbledore keeps his cards close to his chest, too. He didn’t tell anyone where he was going when he was absent from Hogwarts. If he had, maybe Slughorn would have told him not to worry about going to the cave that night, because the horcrux was already destroyed.

To be honest, I think this is pretty far-fetched. If Book Seven reveals R.A.B. as Slughorn I will be as surprised as anyone else. However, this theory has fewer holes in it than some I’ve read, and the main point I wanted to raise it that it is quite possible that whoever wrote the R.A.B. is simply lying through their teeth.