by Linda Fisher
After reading countless editorials on MuggleNet, I fully realize the depth to which all six “Harry Potter” books have been mined. For a long time now I have been marveling (a bit jealously) at the clever and creative analyses by scores of readers far more perceptive than myself. Imagine my joy when – through a sudden flash of inspiration – I formulated a theory of my very own. Eager to begin my blindingly brilliant editorial, I almost neglected the all-important first step for anyone with a new theory. Screeching to a halt and holding my breath, I googled it. The search results all but screamed at me, “been there, done that.” No matter. I have another theory. I am not googling this one, so my apologies go out to all who have made these observations before me.
There has been much speculation about Voldemort’s Horcruxes – what they are and where they might be hidden. I believe we’re missing an important question: With whom did Voldemort entrust his carefully concealed pieces of soul? I believe the Dark Lord personally hid only one of his Horcruxes – the ring – and delegated the protection of those remaining to his most loyal followers.
According to Dumbledore, Voldemort did not want to wear the ring once it was a Horcrux. Chances are, Voldemort was concerned that if a spell was used to destroy him it might also destroy the ring. He would have wanted the ring far away from his person and cleverly concealed. As Dumbledore told Harry (HBP, p. 504):
He hid it, protected by many powerful enchantments, in the shack where his ancestors had once lived…never guessing that I might one day take the trouble to visit the ruin, or that I might be keeping an eye open for traces of magical concealment.
But I think Voldemort feared that if he were ever reduced to Vapormort*, he would be in no condition to defend his Horcruxes, no matter how well hidden. It would make sense that he would devise a plan to keep each Horcrux carefully guarded. By designating one Death Eater per Horcrux – but not revealing the presence of others – he could ensure that 1) no one person would possess knowledge of the existence or whereabouts of all Horcruxes, and 2) should he be attacked, at least one or more Horcruxes would be keeping a piece of his soul alive until he could regain physical form.
We have known since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that Lucius was in possession of Tom Riddle’s diary. We didn’t know how or why until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore speculated Voldemort willingly assigned the protection of the diary to Lucius (HBP, p. 508):
No doubt he thought that Lucius would not dare do anything with the Horcrux other than guard it carefully, but he was counting too much upon Lucius’s fear of a master who had been gone for years and whom Lucius believed dead. Of course, Lucius did not know what the diary really was. I understand that Voldemort had told him the diary would cause the Chamber of Secrets to reopen because it was cleverly enchanted.
There are two significant things to note in this quote: Voldemort told Lucius only enough about the diary to stress its importance – but not the full truth – and Voldemort assumed that under Lucius’s care, the diary would remain intact while his own immortality would be ensured. He would realize only much later how he miscalculated.
Bella is passionately proud of having been and continuing to be – according to her – “the Dark Lord’s most loyal servant” (OotP, p. 811). While arguing with Snape at Spinner’s End, Bella proclaims that Voldemort “shares everything with me.” She lets slip that “the Dark Lord has, in the past, entrusted me with his most precious…” (HBP, p. 29). Of course, it is impossible to know with what exactly she was entrusted. And, since we don’t know if the what is singular or plural, we don’t know how many. However, considering Bellatrix’s extreme confidence in her high ranking status with the Dark Lord, chances are she was entrusted with something Voldemort said he valued greatly – one of his Horcruxes. I think it is worth noting Bellatrix stops short of revealing exactly what the precious thing was, as if she suddenly remembered instructions to tell no one. But does Voldemort trust her more than his other Death Eaters? Consider what she said during her court hearing (GOF p. 595-6):
[The Dark Lord] will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait! He will rise again and will come for us, he will reward us beyond any of his other supporters! We alone were faithful! We alone tried to find him!
How could she be so certain he would rise again, and why would she go to the trouble of trying to find him? It would appear that Bellatrix knew exactly what she was guarding for her beloved Lord Voldemort. I guess he did share some things with her. But did Bella know there were others?
Although there are theories to the contrary, popular opinion seems to be – and I agree – that RAB is indeed Regulus Black. I’m also pitching my tent in the camp that believes Regulus is still alive. It’s far too much of a coincidence that a man bearing a striking resemblance to Sirius Black “retired from public life” the same year Regulus was supposedly killed by Voldemort’s henchman (OotP, p. 191). RAB is alive and well, living as Stubby Boardman in Little Norton.
This would suggest that J.K. Rowling has Stubby waiting in the wings, ready to prove he wasn’t the only Black with a conscience. Now, big brother Sirius was always eager to think the worst of baby brother, calling him a “stupid idiot” and dismissing his worth to Voldemort. But Sirius had been estranged from his family since he was 16 and would not have been in tune with what was going on in his brother’s life. Sirius used uncertain words to describe his brother’s fate (OotP, p. 112):
He was murdered by Voldemort. Or on Voldemort’s orders, 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.
It is probable that Sirius sold Regulus short, underestimating his brother’s position in Death Eater hierarchy. What was Regulus asked to do?
I expect we all agree that Merope’s locket currently resides either at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, hidden by Kreacher, or who-knows-where after being stolen and pawned by Mundungus Fletcher. MuggleNet readers have speculated Regulus either stole the locket from the cave or played the old switcheroo on whoever had it before it was hidden in the cave. A less common, but plausible idea, is that Regulus had the locket from the start and left it at Grimmauld Place knowing that as long as Sirius was alive, the house would remain free of Dark wizards. What if Regulus – an apple in a pure-blood family tree, descendant of those who supported purifying the Wizarding race, and cousin to Voldemorts right-hand woman – was actually much higher on the Death Eater totem pole than Sirius believed?
Suppose Voldemort entrusted Regulus with the task of hiding the locket, telling him as with Lucius – just enough to convey its significance, but not the entire truth. And chances are Voldemort wouldn’t have said to Regulus, “By the way, I’ve given something else of great importance to good old Lucius, and something else that’s really special to my gal Bella.” So when Regulus discovered the locket was a Horcrux, he believed it to be the only one. This explains the single Horcrux to which he refers in the infamous note Harry found inside the substitute locket.
But if Regulus was given the locket and instructed to hide it in the cave, this suggests that the cavern – its Inferi-infested black lake, the stone basin of green potion, the boat built for one – was readied by Voldemort before Regulus took the locket there. The cave was nearly impossible to reach, so Voldemort could have been fairly certain no one – Muggle or otherwise – would happen upon the chamber. Dumbledore confirmed that the magic he felt at the edge of the lake was classic Voldemort (HBP, p. 563):
Magic always leaves traces…sometimes very distinctive traces. I taught Tom Riddle. I know his style.
I believe Voldemort instructed Regulus to deposit the locket in the stone basin and also ordered him to lock the door on the way out. Regulus would have had no difficulty completing the first part of the task, since Voldemort’s magic was intended to impair someone removing the locket – not stop someone from merely dropping it in. And after the locket was in place, the entrance to the chamber was sealed. Remember what Dumbledore told Harry upon discovering that the passage between the entrance hall and the chamber required a blood payment (HBP, p. 559):
“I said it was crude,” said Dumbledore, who sounded disdainful, even disappointed, as though Voldemort had fallen short of the standards Dumbledore expected.
It wasn’t Voldemort who fell short. It was Regulus who sealed the chamber.
Now we come to my original unoriginal theory. While pondering what the sixth Horcrux could be, I began to examine the chronology of events.
- As Vapormort, the Dark Lord was “powerless as the weakest creature alive, and without the means to help [himself]…he had no body, and every spell that might have helped [him] required the use of a wand…” (GoF, p. 653). He could possess animals and people, but animals’ bodies “were ill-adapted to perform magic” (GoF, p. 654). Between the time he tried to kill Harry and the time Wormtail returned to his master, Vapormort only had the opportunity to possess one wizard – Professor Quirrell. We do not know of any murder he committed through Quirrell, and was incapable of murder at any other time.
- Once Wormtail nursed Voldemort to a “rudimentary, weak body” of his own – an “almost human form” – he was capable of murder and killed both Bertha Jorkins and Frank Bryce (GoF, p. 656). Now, nowhere in the books are we told that a Horcrux has to be created at the same time the soul is ripped apart. I believe at this point, Voldemort decided to wait until he could assess the situation before creating his final Horcrux.
- Through Wormtail, Voldemort would have learned that the diary had been destroyed (remember that “Scabbers” was privy to all conversations between Ron and Harry during that time), that Bellatrix Lestrange was in Azkaban, and that Regulus Black was presumed dead. He had no way of knowing if any of his Horcruxes survived.
- When Voldemort regained his body, he called his Death Eaters to him, took note of their reduced number, reprimanded them for their lack of faith and loyalty, and told them, “I confess myself disappointed.” (GoF, p. 648) He could no longer be sure of any truly faithful followers. (If you’ve been doing the math, you know that at this point I’m one Horcrux shy of the original five. That guardian wasn’t in the graveyard either. More on that later.)
- Voldemort found himself in a tight spot. He planned to battle Harry, and boasted to his Death Eaters: “I want there to be no mistake in anybody’s mind. Harry Potter escaped me by a lucky chance. And I am now going to prove my power by killing him, here and now, in front of you all.” (GoF, p. 658)
- But if his Avada Kedavra backfired again, would there be a Horcrux remaining to save his life? There must have been some doubt in the back of his mind. He had no choice but to create a Horcrux before he took on Harry.
And what is the only thing the Dark Lord created between regaining his body and dueling with Harry? Wormtail’s silver hand. Voldemort could trust none of the Death Eaters present, including Peter Pettigrew. What he could trust beyond a doubt was that Wormtail would do whatever was necessary – as he had proven so often in the past – to protect himself. Beggars can’t be choosers, and Voldemort had no other choice.
Ah, yes – that pesky unaccounted-for sixth Horcrux. I admit this is where my “Death Eaters as Guardians” theory begins to fall apart. I have searched every book for every scene in which Snape was even remotely involved. He is a man with few belongings. There doesn’t seem to be anything remarkable about the contents of Snape’s house at Spinner’s End. And unless Voldemort made a Horcrux out of Rowena Ravenclaw’s pickled brain or Godric Gryffindor’s marinated entrails, nothing sticks out in Snape’s office either. But the loose ends all point to Severus Snape being the final guardian. Let me explain.
Harry’s business with the Malfoys is done. In CoS, he thwarted Lucius’s attempts to discredit Arthur Weasley and remove Dumbledore from Hogwarts while also managing to free the Malfoys’ house-elf. In PoA he foiled Lucius’s attempts to kill Buckbeak. Harry was also instrumental in exposing Lucius as a Death Eater and landing him in prison. As for Draco, by the end of HBP, Harry actually felt sorry for him (HBP, p. 640):
He had not forgotten the fear in Malfoy’s voice on that tower top, nor the fact that he had lowered his wand before the other Death Eaters arrived. Harry did not believe that Malfoy would have killed Dumbledore. He despised Malfoy still for his infatuation with the Dark Arts, but now the tiniest drop of pity mingled with his dislike.
With Lucius in Azkaban and Draco in hiding, I’m guessing their major contribution to the series has been made.
Bellatrix Lestrange is another story. Both Harry and Neville have some pretty major bones to pick with her. There will be a showdown, and I bet it will culminate in the destruction of a Horcrux.
It is definitely time for Regulus Black to come out of the woodwork. We know where the locket was last seen, but we don’t know if it is still a Horcrux or if Regulus succeeded in destroying that piece of Voldemort’s soul. Besides, J.K. Rowling can’t keep killing off people Harry loves without giving him at least one new friend.
Wormtail also has much yet to do. As Dumbledore told Harry, “Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt.” (PoA, p. 427) If I am right, Pettigrew’s hand needs to be destroyed. Wormtail has sacrificed his hand twice already. Not only is three a magic number but three times is a charm. That hand is going to come off again. What remains to be seen is if Wormtail will make the sacrifice to save his own life yet again or finally redeem himself and do something for the greater good.
Finally, there’s Professor Severus Snape. He is the only other character in the series with whom Harry needs resolution. And Snape’s got a lot of explaining to do. Here is what I believe to be Snape’s story:
- Voldemort trusted Snape enough to make him a Horcrux guardian. My guess is, Snape has or had one and – like Lucius – did not know what it really was.
- Snape was in love with Lily Evans. This has been discussed in other editorials and explains some of Snape’s continued hatred toward James Potter – because he won Lily. But why does he hate Harry? Every time Snape looks at Harry, he sees the face of a man who relentlessly humiliated him and then married the only woman who showed him any kindness – the only woman he ever loved. But Snape also sees Lily’s eyes – a constant reminder that he caused her death by revealing the prophecy to Voldemort.
- Snape spent the past fifteen years living with that guilt and guarding Harry’s life at all costs because of it. Dumbledore knew this, which is why he trusted Snape implicitly. In fact, he specifically kept Snape at Hogwarts to ensure Harry’s protection. This was why he wouldn’t give Snape the cursed DADA position – he needed Harry to be protected for more than one year. Dumbledore believed that Lily’s death was indeed “the greatest regret of [Snape’s] life,” and came very close to telling Harry that when asked: “‘How can you be sure Snape’s on our side?’ Dumbledore did not speak for a moment; he looked as though he was trying to make up his mind about something. At last he said, ‘I am sure. I trust Severus Snape completely.’” (HBP, p. 549)
- J.K. Rowling is beyond amazing with plot complexities. She has invested too much in Snape’s character to end book 6 with exactly what we’ll be thinking about him at the end of book 7. Snape might be a right foul git, but he’s not evil.**
In her interview with Melissa and Emerson, J.K. said that what is between Harry and Snape now is even more personal than Harry and Voldemort. Whatever happens next between the two is going to be huge. I believe there’s a big fat redemption scene coming in book 7 that involves Snape, Harry, and the unaccounted-for Horcrux.
The thing I like about theories is that they’re so often wrong, and I completely understand that come 2007 (I hope, I hope, I hope), my opinions could be filed right up there with “Snape is a Vampire.” I just hope this editorial shows MuggleNet readers yet another way to look at Harry’s forthcoming adventures.
*I don’t know who originally coined the name Vapormort, but I must say – brilliant! Thank you from all of us who needed to borrow the word – there is just no better.
**I swiped “right foul git” from the GoF movie. I love it and use it every chance I get.