The Living Dead: Why Regulus Black Faked His Death

by Maggie B. 

““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.””
-Sirius Black, OotP, U.S. edition, pg. 112

It is with the words above that I set the tone for this editorial and with Dumbledore’’s already much-dissected words below that I base my thoughts.

““He cannot kill you if you are already dead. Come over to the right side, Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine.”
-Albus Dumbledore, HBP, U.S. edition, pp. 591-592

With this editorial, I intend not to try and “prove” a theory, but merely to get you all thinking about an option I do not believe we have touched on before. With that said, let us begin.


THE LIVING DEAD: Why Regulus Black Faked His Death

Though I believe we can credit Snape for mentioning it once or twice, it is Horace Slughorn who first gives us a glimpse into a potion that I think will come to have great significance — The Draught of Living Death. After all, JKR, as clever as she is, is always dropping us marvelous little hints that seem insignificant at the time, but later inflate into fully developed sub-plots. It is with consideration of this fact that I find it extremely hard to believe that the Draught of Living Death will remain in relative obscurity.

So how will this potion Apparate in Book 7? I have three immediate thoughts:

  1. Malfoy: Draco needs to be hidden. Although he found a way to get the Death Eaters into Hogwarts, we must remember that this was NOT his assigned task. His task was to kill Dumbledore and, at this, he failed miserably — not once, but three times.
  2. Snape: Assuming Snape is still on the side of good, we must take into consideration that Voldemort never actually expected Snape to kill Dumbledore. After all, why would he? He never would have ordered him to do so, and he never would have known about the Unbreakable Vow made with Narcissa. Plus, now that Snape has inadvertantly severed his ties to the Order (does the name “Severus” mean something more now?), he is no longer “useful” to Voldemort because he can no longer provide inside information on the Order.
  3. Regulus: The last (and my favorite) option, is our long dead friend, Regulus Black. For knowing VERY little about him, Regulus is already one hell of a character. Although Sirius mentions his younger brother became a Death Eater, we must remember he ALSO mentions that Regulus didn’t know what he was getting into when he joined. Sirius goes on to explain that even his famously Dark parents had second thoughts about Voldemort, claiming: ““They got cold feet after they saw what [Voldemort] was prepared to do to get power.”” (OotP, pg. 112)

So why do I think Regulus faked his death? I’m getting to that.

Let me first state that I believe the Malfoy/Snape options to be far too obvious. This is not to say that they won’t employ the use of the Draught. I simply think that the Draught will bring about a bigger plot twist than we originally thought.

I also believe that JKR wanted her devoted readers to pick up on the possibilities associated with the Draught (via Dumbledore’s words to Draco) and fully expected us to entertain the idea that Dumbledore could have faked his own death (which, of course, we did). I also think she likely realized that this distraction would throw us off track.

OK, so back to my point. Why do I think Regulus faked his death?

After Karkaroff’’s body is discovered beneath the Dark Mark, Lupin marvels at how long he was able to stay alive after leaving the Death Eaters. He compares him to Regulus, saying that Regulus “only managed a few days as long as I can remember” (HBP, pg. 106). But let’’s think about this for a second: If leaving Voldemort means certain death, then wouldn’t faking your death be the best way to avoid it?

Before I move on, let me just address one thing.

One recent editorial mentioned the possibility that Regulus switched the locket BEFORE it was deposited in the cave. It’s a great theory, and one I actually took to heart for a few days…until I really spent time mulling it over. And here is where I found the flaw:

If the locket was switched before it was deposited in the cave, this would have had to occur in 1 of 3 scenarios:

  1. Voldemort takes the faux locket to the cave and deposits it without realizing it’’s fake.
  2. Voldemort gives the real locket to a Death Eater to deposit, Regulus switches them at some point, and the Death Eater deposits it without realizing it’s a fake.
  3. Voldemort gives the real locket to Regulus to deposit; Regulus switches them before he deposits it.

The first is clearly not even an option. There is no way Voldemort could be tricked so blatantly.

The second isn’t really that viable either. Remember, Dumbledore tells Harry, “”Do not forget that Lord Voldemort believes that he alone knows about his Horcruxes”” (HBP, pg. 569). Now, I suppose Voldemort could have assigned the task of hiding the locket without actually explaining its true purpose (as he did when he gave Lucius the diary), but even if a Death Eater was trusted with such an important task, it was likely that the Death Eater chosen was an intelligent one — someone who would notice the difference between the real and the faux locket.

As for the third option — would Voldemort trust an 18-year-old Regulus with a task this important? Doubtful.

Which means… Regulus had to have switched the locket after it was deposited inside the cave. And if this is true, then we know that Voldemort has absolutely no idea that his locket Horcrux is missing. Seems blatant enough, right? Sure. But humor me and take these next obvious statements into consideration.

The fake locket with Regulus’’s note was still in the cave, untouched…and the real locket was (as of Book 5) lying around unguarded in 12 Grimmauld Place. If Voldemort had discovered Regulus’s actions, he would have either rushed to the cave to see if his precious Horcrux was safe and/or searched the obvious locations as to where it could be (i.e., 12 Grimmauld). Yet, he does neither. Which begs the question — Why then, was Regulus killed? And by whom?

As logic (and typical mortality) would have it, Regulus had to have been killed after he switched the lockets — supposedly because he no longer wanted to be a Death Eater. But consider this: If Regulus had been having second thoughts about being a Death Eater for a while (or at least long enough to find out about the Horcrux AND plan to destroy it), I’m pretty sure our accomplished Legilimens, Lord Voldemort, would have sensed his apprehension…and I highly doubt that an 18-year-old was an accomplished enough Occlumens to lie to Voldemort.

So how about this? Perhaps Regulus “died” before he switched the lockets. Perhaps, knowing that he was facing certain death at the hands of Voldemort, he decided to fake his own. Then, with the Death Eaters (many of whom were his family members) sure of his demise, he would be able to go after what he believed to be Voldemort’s only Horcrux.

Now, does this mean he is still alive? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he is alive and in hiding. Maybe the retrieval of the locket destroyed him. Who knows? However, I would like to leave you with a few bits of information to think about.

First, no one has ever mentioned any concrete facts about Regulus’’s death. Only Sirius and Lupin mention his death and neither seem quite sure of the details. Sirius even mentions that he was only able to piece together a story after Regulus died.

Second, according to the Black family tree tapestry, Harry notes Regulus’’ date of death as “”some 15 years, previously”” (OotP, pg. 112). Since Harry is indeed 15 at this point, this means that Regulus died around the time Harry was born…or, more importantly, around the time the prophecy was made.

Third, doesn’’t all of this kind of make you wonder how that two-way mirror may come into play? Can’t you just see Harry looking into it and being startled to see someone who looks much like Sirius looking back at him?

OK, maybe I’’m getting a little too excited on that last one…