Which Wizard? – An analysis of R.A.B.

by Grace Li

“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.”
So now that we’ve all (hopefully) finished Half-Blood Prince, it’s time to deal with the person who will most likely play a pivotal role in Book Seven: the mysterious R.A.B., the person who first discovered Lord Voldemort’s secret.

In my evaluation, R.A.B. should be:

1) Dead or presumed dead
2) Familiar with both advanced Dark Magic and Lord Voldemort
3) Familiar with the prophecy
4) Weaker than Voldemort
5) Capable of stealing and hiding the Horcrux
6) Capable of enlisting or coercing an accomplice

The first three criteria come from the note itself: R.A.B. believed that he or she would soon die, knew what a Horcrux was and how Voldemort employed them, and knew that a “match” of some sort would confront them. The last three may take a bit of explaining. R.A.B. obviously thought that he or she was not Voldemort’s match, so therefore he or she is weaker than Lord Voldemort who was, with the exception of Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard in the world. R.A.B., then, would have be a lesser wizard than Voldemort or Dumbledore, but still powerful, clever and brave enough to discover the secret, remove the Horcrux, and hide it long enough to destroy it.

But the last criterion is, in my opinion, the most interesting: R.A.B. could not have acted alone. As we all recall from Harry and Dumbledore’s encounter with Voldemort’s Horcrux, it is impossible to remove the Horcrux alone. R.A.B. must have cast the Imperius curse to coerce assistance or have persuaded another wizard to help stand against Voldemort.

It is now apparent that being R.A.B. is a tall order indeed. That being said, let’s look at a few possible candidates.

I’m quite certain that R.A.B. is a character we have already met, particularly since JKR said in her interview with Emerson and Melissa that she would not introduce any major characters in Book Seven. Shortly after finishing HBP, I went straight to the Lexicon to search for wizards with a surname starting with B, and either first initial R or first and middle initial unknown. I then eliminated wizards without known connection to the Dark Arts or the Death Eaters and came up with the following list:

Sirius’s Grandfather Black (Order of Merlin, First Class)
Mr. Borgin (of Borgin and Burkes)
Regulus Black (Sirius’s little bro)
Bagman Sr. (Ludo and Otto’s dad)

All of these characters have some link, however distant, to the Dark Arts: Bagman Senior was a friend of Rookwood (592, GoF 30), Regulus had a stint as a Death Eater (112, OotP 6), Sirius’s grandpa wasn’t wiped off the family tree (enough said), and Mr. Borgin co-runs a Dark Arts store in Knockturn Alley (51, CoS 4). That being said, nothing in the canon contains ironclad proof for any of these characters being R.A.B., Regulus being the only one with a known and fitting first initial.

We know absolutely nothing about Sirius’s grandfather, other than the fact that he received an Order of Merlin, First Class for “Services to the Ministry,” presumably in the form of a large pile of Galleons (116-17, OotP 6). Therefore, I will skip over him for now and simply consider him a vague possibility, but not a probability.

We begin our evaluation with:

Mr. Borgin

I can hear the skeptical scoffs and groans right now. Believe me, I thought the same thing and almost eliminated him from my list. I believe he is a possible candidate, although not highly probable.

First of all, let’s take a look at the contradictions that punch holes in the theory for Borgin as R.A.B. First of all, he’s definitely alive and kicking. Secondly, he’s probably not familiar with the prophecy, or he at least wasn’t before Voldemort’s first fall. And thirdly, he’s not even capable of standing up to Draco Malfoy or his father, let alone the Darkest Lord who ever lived.

So why do I think he is still possible?

Borgin’s shop is full of all sorts of Dark stuff of questionable origin. Borgin and Burkes is supposedly the largest shop in Knockturn Alley (53, CoS 4) and, it has been well established since Voldemort’s time. This is pure speculation on my part, but with a shop that size and customers such as Mr. Malfoy, it is likely that some of the items in the shop are either Horcruxes or former Horcruxes. As the shop’s co-owner, Mr. Borgin would have to have some familiarity with the Horcrux, among all sorts of other nasty Dark Magic.

Most of Borgin’s clients are probably Death Eaters or Dark wizards and witches anyway. It is also possible that Borgin simply overheard the Death Eaters while they were in his shop or picked some rumors off the street. Keep in mind that he is a shopkeeper, and one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes would be an excellent addition to his collection of goods. Maybe he and Burkes simply became a bit too greedy and curious for their own good and decided to pursue the Horcrux for their own ends.

However, on a different and much more interesting thread of reasoning, let us trace a bit of Voldemort’s past. We know that Voldemort was already considering Horcruxes when he was at Hogwarts, and we also know that he worked at Borgin and Burkes after he left school. It would be highly unlike Voldemort to ask Borgin for help with the Horcruxes, but I’m certain that Borgin might have picked up on some of Voldemort’s interests and talents while he worked in the shop. As for the locket itself, it was not a Horcrux when it was in Borgin’s possession. However, he must have realized that someone was after it when Hepzibah Smith was killed and her treasures were taken. Riddle had visited her not two days ago and, maybe after Voldemort left the shop, Borgin began putting two and two together…

Borgin as R.A.B. poses more questions than it answers, and it stretches canon more than a bit; if he were revealed as R.A.B. in Book Seven, JKR would have a good deal of explaining to do, especially on the fact that he’s still alive. Which brings us to a much more probable candidate…

Regulus Black

A great deal of speculation swirling around Regulus as R.A.B. already exists, and with good reason. He’s good and dead (as far as we know), served Voldemort briefly as a Death Eater, knows a good bit of the Dark Arts, and is definitely much weaker than Voldemort. In addition, he died fifteen years previous to OotP, presumably in 1980 (112, OotP 6). Dumbledore states at the end of OotP that Trelawney made the prophecy sixteen years previous to OotP, probably in 1979 (840, OotP 37). This means that Regulus was alive and probably a Death Eater at the time of the prophecy. It is highly likely that he knew about the prophecy, either from another Death Eater or from Voldemort. Regulus would have had a whole year before his death to process its meaning.

The waters grow a bit muddier with our last two criteria. According to Sirius, Regulus “got in so far, then panicked about what he was being asked to do and tried to back out.” (112, OotP 6) He also describes Regulus as his “idiot brother.” (111, OotP 6) This description does not bode well for our theory; R.A.B. needs to be powerful enough of a wizard to steal the Horcrux, but also brave enough to face death. Regulus sounds like neither, but we are learning this from Sirius’s perspective, which is likely biased.

Sirius describes his brother as “soft” and “idiot,” (111, OotP 6) NOT as “evil.” Regulus was probably easily brainwashed by Voldemort and his parents, but not an evil person at heart. Sirius seems to think Regulus lacked nerve, but I’m inclined to disagree: Regulus was a Death Eater and therefore must have known the penalty for deserting Lord Voldemort. He must have known that he was well marked for death.

As for discovering Voldemort’s secret and stealing the Horcrux, think of the nature of 12 Grimmauld Place. The house has all sorts of Dark objects there, and I’m inclined to think that there are a whole lot of books dealing with the Darkest of magic stashed somewhere in that place. There were probably even more books in the house before Voldemort’s first fall. Regulus was a Death Eater, and according to Voldemort himself, the Death Eaters knew the steps he had taken toward immortality (648, GoF 33). Regulus would only have to find the Horcrux and gain an accomplice. As far as his accomplice is concerned, we have a few options. He could have Imperiused someone, but I think not. In my opinion, he either used Kreacher to help him drink the potion, or he drank the potion himself and had Kreacher take the locket. Harry is now Kreacher’s master, and if Regulus really did use Kreacher, Kreacher could prove priceless in the search for Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes.

Well, if Regulus really is R.A.B., where is Slytherin’s locket? Regulus would have to hide the locket long enough to try and destroy it, and where other than 12 Grimmauld Place? Sirius’s father “placed every security measure known to Wizard-kind on it.” (115, OotP 6). And most interestingly, while Harry and company are cleaning out Dark junk in the house, they discover a “heavy locket that none of them could open.” (116, OotP 6) Interesting? Yes. Unfortunately, that locket was probably thrown out with the rest of the stuff from the Black family cabinets, which means that we’ve got no idea where it is now. Perhaps Harry should start trawling through wizarding landfills? Or maybe, just maybe, Kreacher actually managed to steal back something of value?

Or maybe that locket is just another piece of Black family stuff, and R.A.B. is actually…

Bagman Senior

Ah, Ludovic Bagman’s father… where do I begin? After our treatment of Regulus, it seems almost superfluous to consider anyone else. I had intended to simply write off Bagman as I had Sirius’s grandfather, but I had a sudden brainwave through a mouthful of Caesar salad at dinner and decided it was too good to scrap, despite our lack of canon knowledge about him.

Here is all we know about Mr. Bagman, as told from Ludo’s perspective:

“‘Old Rookwood was a friend of my dad’s… never crossed my mind he was in with You-Know-Who!'”
(592, GoF 30)

So Bagman Senior and Augustus Rookwood were friends, and Rookwood turned out to be a spy for Voldemort within the Ministry. Now comes the interesting bit: Rookwood worked for the Department of Mysteries (590, GoF 30). As we all know, the Department of Mysteries studies all sorts of things: time, death, brains, love… considering the Ministry’s involvement with Dementors, it is very possible that Department of Mysteries also studies souls, which would lead us to… Horcruxes.

Rookwood may have also known about the prophecy after working for both Voldemort and the DoM, and he might have let something slip to Bagman Senior. I can’t say much more about Bagman Senior, given how little we know about him, but the idea is certainly interesting. If Bagman Senior is dead, it leaves the Slytherin Horcrux, if it still exists, in the possession of either Ludo or Otto Bagman. Ludo fled the goblins (732, GoF 37), and we haven’t got a clue where he is. However, Mr. Weasley helped Otto out of a spot with an unnaturally magical lawnmower (61, GoF 5). Perhaps Otto owes Mr. Weasley a favor… in the form of a certain locket?

This is only my speculation: I can’t prove that any of these wizards are definitely R.A.B: I simply think that Bagman Sr., Regulus, and Borgin are a bit more likely than the rest of the wizards on my original list, which included Basil, Binns, Wizard Baruffio, Mrs. Bones, Bradley, Rudolf Brand, Blotts, and Bozo. Here are the wizards I believe could be R.A.B., in order of probability:

1) Regulus Black
2) Bagman Senior
3) Mr. Borgin
4) Sirius’s Grandfather (again, a vague, distant possibility)

But let’s not forget what I personally find just as interesting as R.A.B: whoever R.A.B. is, he or she HAD to have had an accomplice to steal the Horcrux. R.A.B. may be dead or missing, but who’s to say that the accomplice isn’t?