Harry Potter and the Red Herring Horcruxes

by Cady McKinnon

Today, our journey starts in a compartment aboard the Speculation Express. We will be traversing across the Thickets of Wildest Guesswork, finally arriving in Illumination City. The goal with this journey is to unearth as much information about Voldemort’’s Horcruxes as possible. When carefully traversed, we will undoubtedly discover overlooked clues, lending themselves to the probability there are fewer Horcruxes than we have been lead to believe.

A word of warning: We will be climbing across multiple book 6 spoilers on this trek. If you have not read the series up to and including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I know two things: 1) You’’ve been living under a rock. 2) Since the train is pulling away from the station, you should depart quickly, while you can still jump onto the platform.

The Speculation Express: A Review of Horcruxes

Ahhh, rolling green meadows and bright blue skies; this part of the country is lovely, isn’t it? Incidentally, the parentheticals throughout this editorial work like Portkeys. They will take you instantly to a reference listing the exact page of the exact book from which the information is derived. By clicking your back button, you’ll instantly return to the exact same spot we left in the thickets.

Our first stop will be the Village of Firm Fact. We should reach it ‘round mid-day. Until then, I have my notes on the nature of Horcruxes, along with some details about Voldemort’s Horcruxes, here for brief review.

A Horcrux is the “wickedest of all magical inventions” (1) according to Magick Moste Evile. Tom Riddle’’s conversation with Slughorn reveals why Horcruxes are viewed in this light: It is necessary to commit murder to create a Horcrux (2). In his eagerness to “conquer death,” Tom reveals a little too much when he questions the number of times one could split one’s soul (“Seven is the most powerfully magical number.”). As Dumbledore points out to Harry, if Voldemort wanted to splinter his soul into seven pieces, the actual number of Horcruxes would be six, with the seventh piece of Voldemort’s soul residing inside his mortal coil (3). (Do you want anything off the trolley? No? Okay, I’d like a Chocolate Frog and a Pumpkin Juice, please. Mmm, thank you). Now, according to Slughorn (Oh good, I didn’t have this card.), Horcruxes function by keeping a part of the soul safe, so that even if the body is destroyed, one does not die. They are made by encasing a torn portion of the soul into an object, which can then be hidden (4). Horcruxes can be used as weapons, as in the case of the diary. Thanks to Dumbledore’s clever investigations, we know four of the items Voldemort chose to use: His grandfather’s ring, Slytherin’s locket, the diary, and Hufflepuff’s cup. Two of these items, the ring and the diary, are no longer Horcruxes(5).

You know, I think the train is slowing down. We must be getting close. I’ll just tidy these notes into my satchel, slip my Frog Card in as well, and we’ll be off.

The Village of Firm Fact: The Ring and the Diary

Welcome to the Village of Firm Fact. I have always loved these squat stone buildings with their wall-to-wall libraries. See those smoke stacks over there in the distance? That’s the Fact-ory, in the center of the village, where they distill all the hard facts. It’s been said just breathing the air here will make one more knowledgeable. No fiction anywhere, though. We’ll spend the rest of the day here, discovering the facts about Voldemort’s Horcruxes, particularly focusing on those that have been destroyed.

We have to whisper in here. The reference witch that runs this particular library makes Madam Pinch look soft as a pygmy puff. Now, about the ring, destroyed by Dumbledore. There isn’t much to know about it. Dumbledore located it in the Gaunts’ ruined hovel. He stated specifically “a terrible curse there was upon it” (6). Dumbledore’s withered, dead hand attests to that fact. The ring is, in fact, no longer a Horcrux. It seems likely that-(“No speculations allowed!”)

Alright! Fine then! I‘ll share that thought with you later. For now, we’ll move on to the diary. Much is known to be fact about this item. Voldemort entrusted the item to the care of Lucius Malfoy, which he then planted upon Ginny Weasley for his own sake(7). Lucius did not know the diary was a Horcrux, only that it would cause the Chamber of Secrets to re-open. There was nothing special about the diary in itself, as compared to other Horcruxes. The diary was without any inherent magical properties of its own (8). It was a plain, thin volume, purchased on Vauxhall Road in London, from what was most likely a Muggle stationary shop (9). The diary is identified as belonging to T.M. Riddle. Without the full spellings of the names, it is impossible to connect the diary to Lord Voldemort through the letters, so the diary could choose to reveal its true identity to those it wanted to (10). The diary was destroyed as a Horcrux when Harry staked it with the Basilisk’s fang (11).

There are other important things to note about the diary. These deal with the manner in which the diary interacted with people. Ginny panicked when she discovered she had left “her” diary at home on their way to catch the Hogwarts Express (12). There are several times during her first year when she is described as being “sickly” or “tired,” “jumpy,” “nervous,” or even “exhausted.” She attempts to tell Ron something, which Percy (the Egomaniacal) brushes to the side as being about him (13). Through her use of the diary, Ginny became possessed by Voldemort. In her own words, Ginny says “I couldn’t remember what I’d been doing for hours at a time. I’d find myself somewhere and not know how I got there” (14). She asks Harry if there are “…big blank periods where you don’t know what you’ve been up to?” (15). When she becomes suspicious, Ginny rids herself of the diary by throwing it into Moaning Myrtle’s toilet (16). She then steals the diary back when she realizes it has fallen into Harry’s hands (17). (Muffliato! There. Maybe now that batty old witch will stop eye-balling us.)

Anyway, while in his hands, Harry felt compelled to look through the diary, despite the fact he believed the book to be blank (18). By sheer accident, Harry discovered the secret of the diary; that by writing on the pages, it would write back (19). The diary engages in lying and deception, misleading Harry to believe Hagrid opened the Chamber of Secrets half a century earlier (20). More interesting are the things Tom Riddle had to say to Harry in the Chamber of Secrets, about how he was able to leave the diary in the first place. Tom states:

“Ginny…opened her ear and spilled her secrets to an invisible stranger…Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted…I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew powerful, far more powerful than little Miss Weasley. Powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her…But there isn’t much life left in her…She put too much into the diary, into me. Enough to let me leave its pages at last.”

Oh no! Just when we were getting to the good part; they’re closing! These facts are important, I’m certain of it. Ginny’s experience provides insight on how Horcruxes work, so (Replicatus!) we’ll pack copies of these facts into my satchel, along with my notes. Tomorrow, we set off, bright and early for the Moors of Misty Musings.

I’ve secured lodgings at the Now-You-Know Inn. If you’re up for a bit of entertainment, the restaurant is hosting Charlie Comment, the wizard comedian. He bases all his comedy on Muggle books called encyclepedias. It’s an absolute riot what Muggles think they know. Do you want to go?

The Moors of Misty Musings: Mystery Horcruxes and What Voldemort Knows

I told you not to drink that sixth Butterbeer. I told you we’d be up early, leaving for the Moors. No, no, you have to drink all of it. It takes the whole Bitter Root potion, otherwise you’ll just stay queasy. Come on, get up. Up-Up-Up! The sooner we get to the Moors, the better you’ll feel.

Step carefully, here. The ground is soggy from all the rains. No, the rains don’t cause the mists, they’re here all the time, swirling about, day and night. Not a fun place at night, but during the day, they can be quite stimulating. By the way, how’s your head? Better? Keep breathing deeply. The mists are known for their restorative properties. This looks like as good a spot as any, so I’ll just spread out this blanket. (Impervius!) Now, we just lay back, nice and dry, and begin our musings about the Horcruxes we think are still out there.

According to Dumbledore, these Horcruxes are supposed to be either an item of Ravenclaw’s or an item of Gryffindor’s, and Nagini (22). Hmm, Dumbledore can’t even speculate on how likely it is that Voldemort found an item of Ravenclaw’s. Ravenclaw is the house that prizes intellect and learning. It is also the house of inventors and inventions. If Rowena Ravenclaw was an inventor as well as a teacher, it’s believable she would have more instruments than most other wizards, and, since most experimental instruments are metal, there is a good chance a larger percentage of her instruments might have survived through the ages than those of the other Founders. The higher the number of personal artifacts, the higher the probability one survived for Voldemort to lay hands. The opposite seems to hold true with Godric Gryffindor, though.

Gryffindor prized courage above all things, and it seems likely he was a man of action. Thus his only remaining possession, the only one capable of enduring for a millennia, is the ruby-encrusted sword Harry used in his battle against the Basilisk. Dumbledore says, with utmost certainty, it is the only known relic of Godric Gryffindor (23). This item rests in a glass case in Dumbledore’s office, which, like most things at Hogwarts, probably has protective enchantments coating every square inch of it. This leaves a couple possibilities opened.

  1. Voldemort may have located an item of Gryffindor’s here-to-fore unknown.
  2. Voldemort may think he’s located such an item, when the item is actually fraudulent.

Voldemort would have done Legilimency on whoever he purchased (or stole, you’re right, good point) the antique from. But that would only tell Voldemort if the person who had the item might be lying to him. It would not tell Voldemort whether that person had been lied to or not. Think about it. It’s possible to get items bearing the crests of the Great Founding Four even in the Muggle world, of all places.

(Oh, it’s absolutely true, though not widely known. It’s a little shop called Allivan’s. Hear the Ministry gave up on trying to contain that bit of the wizarding world. Now they just opt to control it. So far, most Muggles, including those shop owners, are buying the tale these are fictional children’s stories.)

What’s that? Oh, right! Wait — what was I going to say in the library in the Village of Firm Fact? Oh yes, I remember now. I don’t think Voldemort knows about the ring being destroyed. Snape, in his discussion with Bellatrix and Narcissa, says only that Dumbledore suffered from the effects of a curse because his age made him slow. Snape glossed over what Dumbledore had been doing at the particular moment he needed to move so quickly (24). It may be that Snape doesn’t know about the Horcruxes and therefore does not know what caused Dumbledore’s injury. It is also just as likely that Snape does know about the Horcruxes, yet does not wish to incur Voldemort’s wrath by announcing to him another bit of his soul has been destroyed. Snape would have learned this from Lucius Malfoy, for it is the only way Dumbledore could have gotten a description of how Voldemort reacted to the loss of the diary(25). It is not difficult to imagine Voldemort punishing Snape for the loss of this Horcrux, even if there were nothing Snape could have done to stop it. Either way, it boils down to the same thing: Voldemort does not know the ring is no longer a Horcrux. This lack of knowledge on his part could only be advantageous in the end.

Oh, and I don’t think Voldemort knows the locket has been removed from the cave, either. It seems so likely, in fact — the last living person in that cave was the mysterious R.A.B., whom so many speculate to be Regulus (Alphard, after his uncle?) Black — that it’s unofficial canon (26). Harry and Dumbledore discovered a locket with a note inside, left for Voldemort. Had there been no locket there, or had that locket or the note been on the ground, covered with the dust of many years, it would be believable that Voldemort had discovered his locket was missing. But they were not. They were left as R.A.B. meant for them to be found. There is also the distinct lack of any noted rampage by Voldemort, before the Potters’ deaths, in which Voldemort was searching for all the lockets in the land, looking for his lost soul. Voldemort would surely have gone in search of the locket, had he known it had been taken. Harry is now faced with the task of such a search and there is strong evidence the locket is closer to home than Harry may think.

Literally, closer to home. Harry now owns the Black family home, which the kids of the Order spent most of a summer making fit for human habitation (27). (Quite a few things lived there, just not necessarily things one would want to meet in a dark alley.) Among them, Kreacher, whose blind loyalty to his former masters may have saved Harry a big headache (or created one, depending on how you view it). Kreacher spent his time that summer “rescuing” the items of the Black family legacy as they were being tossed out. It is specifically stated that a heavy locket, which could not be opened, was thrown into a trash bag on the same day Kreacher was active doing these things(28). I’ll bet you a round of Butterbeers the locket will be found among Kreacher’s possessions.

Oh, no! Sorry. I forgot. I guess you wouldn’t want to take that particular wager, would you? Give it a while, I’m sure you’ll be able to stomach the thought of Butterbeer again someday. Also, I think it’s getting dark, and we don’t want to be here at night. But it’s hard to tell what time of day it is, the Mists diffuse the light so. I think that’s our cue to pack up and head up the Mountains of Misdirection.

The Mountains of Misdirection: Mother Nagini and Other Red Herring Horcruxes

I’ve never looked onto the moors at night. I never knew the mists gave off a silvery soft glow like that. Still, I’m glad we’re a few hundred feet up rather than wrapped in those mists, otherwise our pleasant musings would’ve turned into nightmares. We’ll camp here tonight, enter the mountains proper tomorrow. I’ve brought marshmallows. They’re a Muggle treat that’s absolutely divine roasted over a fire.

Careful now- huh-. The rocks are- huh- loose here. I think- huh- we’re about- ahuh ahuh- halfway up. We’ll just- ungh- take a break- huh- on this little outcropping here. Catch- ahuhahuh- our breath.

Earlier you questioned why Nagini didn’t come up yesterday in our musings. And I wondered that myself. I think I know the answer. We were musing about Horcruxes. She wouldn’t come up if…well…if she weren’t a Horcrux.

Dumbledore said Nagini would be a poor choice for a Horcrux, because she can think and move (29). But there’s a more compelling reason not to turn Nagini into a Horcrux. She’s mortal. Voldemort has to know that if she were to die, so would the bit of soul she housed. Yes, I’m aware Harry saw Arthur’s attack through Nagini’s eyes, but Voldemort just took possession of her during those few moments of time. True, Voldemort’s miniscule modicum of affection towards her indicates something makes her important to him, more so than any of his pet Death Eaters. There is a plausible, if disgusting, explanation for it though.

Nagini is Voldemort’s Mum. His new Mum, that is, and responsible for giving birth to the thing described as being “hairless and scaly-looking, a dark, raw, reddish black” creature “about the size of a child with a flat, snake-like face and gleaming red eyes” (which I shall here after refer to as Snake-Baby Voldy) (30). This description of Voldemort leaves little doubt his mortal coil at this moment is snake flesh. He got that snake flesh from somewhere, and as sickly twisted and repulsive an idea as this is, a snake seems just the critter Voldemort would choose from which to be born. There’s another indication Nagini is Voldemort’s new Mum: Voldemort instructs Wormtail tomilk Nagini, because he will need feeding in the night (31). Snakes are reptiles; they do not have mammary glands. It is impossible for Nagini, as a snake, to produce milk(32).

However, this is not impossible if Nagini is an Animagus witch whom we’ve only ever seen as a snake. An Animagus doesn’t just mask its appearance with the illusion of an animal, they actually become that animal, biologically speaking. If a pregnant witch transfigured herself into a snake, she wouldn’t give birth as a mammal. Rather, she would lay eggs as a reptile. And if a Basilisk can be born from a chicken egg hatched under a toad, then Snake-Baby Voldy could be born from a snake egg. The biological mechanics of this are as fascinating as they are disturbing. (I don’t even want to begin to contemplate on a new father for Snake-Baby Voldy.) So, why don’t we just leave that there for now, and set off — or rather, up — again, shall we? There’s still an awful lot of mountain to climb before we get to the Caves of Conjecture.

Huhahuh- Not. Far. Now- uhnh. We’re. Nearly a- huh. There. Phewww! I wanna catch my breath. Let’s just hang here for a moment. Wait, do you hear something? Kinda like the drummer for the Weird Sisters is inside the mountain and banging her heart out? Listen. You can feel the rocks vibrate everywhere you touch them. The whole mountain is vibrating and it’s getting louder…now it sounds like a train is chugging our way.

Oh no! The mountain is starting to shift! Hang onto something! The mountain twists like a many-layered top! A many-layered top — it’s a Mug- — nevermind! Just hold on tight as you can!

It’s okay, you know. The mountain’s stopped moving. You can let go of my waist now. I need to restore the circulation to my lower extremities. I need it to figure out which side of the mountain we ended up on. There’s a ledge a few feet above us now, it just sort of slid into place. This is why they’re called the Mountains of Misdirection. Different layers of them twist, turning around a central core. Generally it only happens when our thoughts are way off track on something, but I can’t think of what that might be. Hmm? Of course, we could have brought brooms. We could summon them now. But where’s the fun in that? We’ll just pop up onto this ledge here. I’ll get our bearings and we’ll see if we can’t figure out why the mountain moved.

Wow. Look how far up we are. We can see the whole of the thickets here. Okay, there are the smoke stacks from the Fact-ory. They were due west of us, but now they’re a bit south. And I think that’s the Speculation Express just pulling back into the Village of Firm Fact. That’s a north-south track there. The Caves of Conjecture aren’t much further. As they are at the summit, they stay pretty much in the same spot. By the by, just what were you thinking right before the mountains started vibrating?

Wait. What did you say? Did I just hear you ask about the evidence pointing to Harry as a Horcrux? Are you completely nutters?

There is no way Harry could be a Horcrux. Dumbledore clearly states that no part of Voldemort can exist inside of Harry (33). It causes Voldemort too much pain. More to the point, Voldemort, on the night of his return, told his Death Eaters that he couldn’t even touch Harry that night in Godric’s Hollow, because of the magic that protected him (34). If he couldn’t touch him, how could he turn him into a Horcrux? Any part of Voldemort that wound up inside Harry would have disintegrated just like Quirrel did. The night Dumbledore took Harry to the Dursleys, he confirmed to McGonagall that Voldemort’s “power somehow broke” (35).

It is more likely that a piece of Voldemort’s powers — rather than his soul — lodged itself inside Harry’s head, in the form of the lightning bolt scar. This is the mark that makes Harry Voldemort’s equal. With that mark comes Harry’s ability as a Parselmouth, and a portion of Voldemort’s Legilimency skills (36). These abilities were not transferred in whole, but in part, which is why Voldemort still speaks with snakes, and still leafs through minds like they’re the latest copy of the Quibbler.

There is a rather significant, if confusing occurrence in Dumbledore’s office after Harry witnesses the attack on Arthur. Dumbledore activates a small silver object with is wand. A stream of smoke emerges, then forms a snake. The snake splits in two, at which point Dumbledore mutters “but in essence divided” (37). The only context under which this bizarre event makes sense, is one in which Dumbledore is trying to determine exactly what happened in Godric’s Hollow. Dumbledore was trying to determine how Voldemort’s power broke; it, in essence, divided. But only Voldemort’s abilities transferred, not the skill. Harry has the raw talent, but he has not put in the effort to develop these talents to the same level as Voldemort. Out of spite for Snape, Harry didn’t apply himself to practising Occlumency, yet Voldemort was “more knowledgeable than half the [Hogwarts] staff” because Voldemort did practice (38). Still, in terms of what he was born with, Harry has been raised to a higher lever, ability-wise, by Voldemort’s attack on him as a babe. Receiving Voldemort’s broken power is not the same as receiving a bit of his soul. Of all things in this world that Voldemort could turn into a Horcrux, Harry is not one of them. Lily’s love protects Harry from that.

Which is what makes Dumbledore’s reaction to finding out that Harry’s flesh had been used to recreate Voldemort so interesting. For a moment, just a moment, Dumbledore’s eyes flash with triumph (39). This confuses. If Voldemort now has the ability to touch Harry, to kill him, it seems contradictory Dumbledore would feel triumphant at this moment. Upon deeper thought, however, using Harry’s blood logically goes even further to make Harry and Voldemort equals. Voldemort sets store by the prophecy even though he doesn’t understand it (40). Quite by accident, Voldemort’s actions allowed Harry to absorb the particular abilities of Parselmouth and Legilimency, but, quite intentionally, Voldemort received the particular protection Harry has — the protection of his mother’s love. They are now equals in terms of ability and protection, all through Voldemort’s actions. Dumbledore is absolutely right in the fact that love is more powerful than anything Voldemort understands. That small amount of love, absorbed from Harry, may prove to be the seed of Voldemort’s undoing. Therefore, Dumbledore’s flash of triumph at learning that Voldemort absorbed that which is capable of ultimately destroying him, makes complete sense.

Come on, we’ve strayed from our target of Horcruxes, and now we’ve got to move quick. I don’t like the looks of those clouds, they’re dreary and coming in fast. The Caves of Conjecture aren’t far. Inside them, we find a short-cut to Illumination City.

The Caves of Conjecture: Quirrel’s Horcrux and Other Overlooked Clues

Ulgh! We’re drenched. (Ignitius!) Ahh, that’s better. This is a Drying Fire. We’ll be snuggly warm before we know it. I think we got here just in time. The worst of it’s about to rage out there. Yes, these are the Caves of Conjecture. No, they’re not much to look at, and most who travel this way often overlook them, taking the long route to the city. But listen. Hear that? No, those aren’t spirits. The caves aren’t haunted. Those whispers are our subconscious thoughts, slightly magnified. They get louder the closer we get to what our subconscious is trying to tell us. Once the knowledge in the back of our heads becomes conscious thought, the whispers stop and a gate to the city appears. What we’ll find here, if we listen carefully, are clues about the Horcruxes that have been overlooked.

My notes and the copies we made from the village are already dry. This, more than any other, is the time to read them over. Hmm…this is interesting, about Ginny and the diary. It’s easy to see now, the similarities between the way Ginny behaved and the way Quirrel behaved. After all, they were both possessed by Voldemort.

Both of them were described, throughout their year of possession, as becoming increasingly tired, sickly even (41) (42). Both of them were having the life force drained from them. But Ginny only got possessed because she “poured out her soul” into Riddle’s diary (43). So, how did Quirrel end up being possessed?

Quirrel found a Horcrux.

He must have. There’s no other explanation for how Voldemort ended up in the back of his head. Alright, let’s not jump to conclusions, but look at this from the beginning.

The night of Godric’s Hollow, Voldemort was “ripped from [his] body…less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost…[yet] still alive” (44). He waited for one of his “…faithful Death Eaters [to] find [him to]…come and perform the magic [he] could not to restore [him] to a body” (45).

Voldemort goes on to detail his existence, stating, “I was as powerless as the weakest creature alive…I remember forcing myself, sleeplessly, endlessly, second by second to exist. I settled in a far away place, in a forest…Only one power remained to me. I could possess the bodies of others. I sometimes inhabited…snakes…[but] my possession of them shortened their lives. None of them lasted long” (46). Voldemort was bound to the earth only because of the Horcruxes he had successfully created before hand. (Yes, the whispers are getting louder, we’re onto something here.)

Since Voldemort still had his ability to take possession of others, one wonders why he chose to settle far away, rather than seek out a Death Eater, and, at an opportune time, possess that Death Eater long enough to create a body for himself. Perhaps, he could not do this.

After Sirius’s death, Nearly-Headless Nick states he chose a feeble imitation of life (47). We learn from Snape that a ghost is the “imprint of a departed soul” (48). But Voldemort stated he was less than a ghost. In fact, the description Voldemort gives implies he existed as pure consciousness, separate, yet connected to the soul, or in Voldemort’s case, a bit of soul, much like a balloon bobbing on a string tied to an anchor.

In the case of the balloon of Voldemort’s consciousness, the anchor would have been the Horcruxes. It seems reasonable his consciousness could have traveled between the anchors, but not anywhere else, which is what makes Voldemort’s next statements so crucial.

“A wizard — young, foolish and gullible — wandered across my path in the forest I had made my home…he was easy to bend to my will…he brought me back to this country, and after a while, I took possession of his body.”

We know the wizard Voldemort refers to here to be Quirrel, but it’s the last part of this statement which provides the most crucial insight.

Voldemort’s statement, his distinction between being brought back to the wizarding world and then taking possession leaves little doubt that Voldemort traveled first as a Horcrux, then as a…parasite (for lack of a better word).

It’s very easy to picture Quirrel, making his way through the forest, knapsack containing some basic supplies and his wand, strapped across his back, a large walking stick in his hand, helping him to traverse the ground. Let’s say he paused for a break on an old fallen log. Compelled, the way Harry was compelled to look through a blank diary, he looks down, and catches a glint of metal. He reaches for it, curious, only to behold in absolute wonder a cup bearing the Hufflepuff crest. Surely, this belongs to another wizard who has passed this way, he would have told himself. Surely, the owner would want it back.

But it’s such a lovely cup…and how is the owner to be located? With this thought, he would have pocketed the cup, firmly intent on keeping it as a prize from his travels, perhaps never suspecting the cup actually once belonged to Helga Hufflepuff.

Maybe it wasn’t this simple. Perhaps there was a teasing scent of magic, which lured Quirrel into counter-charming the area where the cup had been secreted away, an easily breeched defense designed to give the impression of strong protective enchantments. Since Voldemort waited on his “faithful servants” to find him, it seems logical some of his Horcruxes would have been easy to find, as compared to the ring or the locket. Voldemort would not have hidden it too terribly well.

Or perhaps Voldemort provided hints and clues, which led Quirrel to the cup. He did say Quirrel was easy to bend to his will. Oh, it could have been another item, but the cup makes sense. A forested hiding place for the Hufflepuff Cup underscores the association of that house to the element of earth, just as a wet cave as a hiding place for the locket underscores Slytherin’s connection to the element of water. On a journey through the forest, one would get thirsty, and a cup is an added convenience, so why not put it where it could be found? Horcruxes appear to transfer their stored soul by way of those items being used.

So, for the rest of his journey, Quirrel would have had a lovely chalice with which to point his wand at and cry “Aguamenti,” then drink his fill, never suspecting as he did so, he was drinking, in small doses, a bit of Voldemort’s soul. Maybe it was even more sinister than that; maybe the cup filled to the brim whenever Quirrel was simply thirsty, inviting him to drink. Regardless of the mechanism, there is little doubt in my mind Quirrel found this Horcrux when he went abroad in the year before Harry’s first at Hogwarts. It seems likely a thorough search of any items Quirrel, after his demise, left behind at Hogwarts will result in the cup being found, yet no longer a Horcrux.

There is more to be gleaned here; I can still here the voices. Let’s look at the differences between Tom, who appeared out of the diary, and Voldemort, who appeared out of the back of Quirrel’s head.

The most immediately notable difference is age. Both of them took shape after draining large quantities of life force from their hosts. Young Riddle, however, intended to kill Ginny, while Quirrel, being a willing host, was to be kept alive. All of Ginny’s life force would have been needed for the generation of a new body, but with Quirrel, only enough was needed to form a face. The smart parasite does not kill its host unnecessarily. Voldemort need only have seeped into the rest of Quirrel over time, eventually gaining full use of his body, and Quirrel would have slowly disappeared, absorbed into Voldemort. There is something to be said for the fact that Voldemort would have been able to walk away from the diary, leaving it behind as nothing more than a book, carrying the bit of soul from that diary in the new body. (Can you hear me over the voices okay? Good, ’cause they are quite loud now.)

The diary was unique in that it was intended to be a weapon and calling card, linking Voldemort to Salazar Slytherin. It, unlike any of the other Horcruxes as far as we know, was the only one that contained a memory. Voldemort referred to the Horcruxes as “his experiments” to the Death Eaters in the graveyard (50). It’s doubtful then that Voldemort knew the diary was capable of creating a second version of himself. It seems unlikely Voldemort would have wanted to create a younger, more powerful Tom Riddle who could vie with him for domination. The Tom who emerged from the diary was an unintended side effect of Voldemort’s experiments, and not likely to happen with any of the other Horcruxes. This side effect, however, provides clues as to the nature of the necessary components for resurrecting someone using a Horcrux.

In order to resurrect someone using a Horcrux, it takes a significant life force (provided by Ginny) or a powerful incantation, as seen after the end of the Triwizard Tournament, to create a body, some soul, even a small amount, to power that body (contained in the diary) and a consciousness to animate the body (also contained in the diary, in the form of a memory). In the case of the cup, Voldemort’s consciousness — or Vapormort, as he is sometimes called — was all that was left of him after Godric’s Hollow, and worked its way into Quirrel, along with the soul contained in Hufflepuff’s cup. He siphoned off Quirrel, eventually gaining control of not only Quirrel’s mind, but his body.

When only the consciousness inhabits the body of another through possession, that consciousness uses up the life force of that creature exponentially in support of both consciousnesses; the host and the parasite. Eventually Quirrel would have faded, leaving behind only Voldemort in Quirrel’s body. To all known knowledge, there are no other Horcruxes with memories also stored inside, so each Horcrux, to be used to regenerate Voldemort, would have to rely upon Vaportmort as the consciousness for that body. No other one is available.

Said another way, the consciousness and the soul can exist without a body, but a physical form is required to bind them both together. The soul, inside the body, generates the necessary energy to sustain the consciousness. A snake would not be able to generate a sufficient amount of energy to support a wizard consciousness, thus a snake would be tapped dry quickly. A normal life span of a few years would be reduced to a few weeks.

Think on it. Voldemort existed as a consciousness, a will to be, to exist. Nagini, as his new Mum, provided him with a body, and a source of nourishment. It would have been necessary to support that body with some sort of soul or it would have been an inanimate pile of dust. Thus for Wormtail to have created Snake-Baby Voldy before the Quidditch World Cup, he would have had to have a bit of soul. He would have had to tap another Horcrux in order to do it, but which one and where it was is open to all sorts of speculations.

Listen. Hear that? It’s stopped raining. The whispers of our subconscious minds have ceased because they’ve been heard. Ah, and there’s the Golden Glowing Gates appearing now at the back of the Caves. They are the entrance to Illumination City. After you.

Illumination City: Our Journey Done

Sleep well? No, the city never stops glowing, but it grows on you after a while. I have half a mind to retire here, the happy golden glow is so cheerful. No, not here on the platform waiting for the train back to London, you prat!

I can’t wait to get back and tell everyone we’ve found what we set out to find when we boarded the Speculation Express. Granted, Harry will still have to locate all four items and make sure they are destroyed. This is speculation, after all, but it seems likely there is less Voldemort in the world than we’ve been thinking, less darkness, anger, and fear.

And love, that power which resides in an everlocked room inside the Department of Mysteries, which permeates through Harry’s very being, shines even brighter, a beacon of hope; at once a promise made to eliminate not only Voldemort, but all he represents, and that promise fulfilled.

To paraphrase Dedalus Diggle, that is reason for us all to celebrate.


A quick note about the references: Standard abbreviations apply for the book titles. “H” refers to hardcover, while “P” refers to paperback. All references are for those versions published in the USA. Be sure to click on the back button to return to where you left off.

(1) HBP, H, pg. 381

(2) HBP, H, pp. 497-498

(3) HBP, H, pg. 503

(4) HBP, H, pp. 497-498

(5) HBP, H, pg. 503

(6) HBP, H, pg. 503

(7) HBP, H, pg. 508

(8) HBP, H, pg. 504

(9) COS, P, pp. 230-231

(10) COS, P, pg. 314

(11) COS, P, pg. 322

(12) COS, P, pg. 66

(13) COS, P, pp. 285-286

(14) OOTP, P, pg. 500

(15) OOTP P, pg. 500

(16) COS P, pg. 230, 311

(17) COS, P, pg. 239, 313

(18) COS, P, pg. 233

(19) COS, P, pg. 240

(20) COS, P, pp. 241-247

(21) COS P, pp. 309-313

(22) HBP, H, pg. 506

(23) HBP, H, pg. 505

(24) HBP, H, pg. 31

(25) HBP, H, pg. 508

(26) HPB, H, pg. 609 and Lexicon: Search RAB

(27) OOTP, P, pg. 68

(28) OOTP, P, pp. 116-117

(29) HBP, H, pg. 506

(30) GOF, P, pg. 640

(31) GOF, P, pp. 6-7

(32) GOF, P, pg. 7

(33) OOTP, H, pg. 844

(34) GOF, P, pg. 652

(35) SS, P, pg. 12

(36) OOTP, P, pg. 842

(37) OOTP, P, pg. 470

(38) OOTP, P, pg. 589 and HPB, H, pg. 495

(39) GOF, P, pg. 696

(40) HBP, H, pg. 512

(41) Ginny: COS, P, pg. 157, 185, 271, 285

(42) Quirrel: SS, P, pp. 70-71, 122, 228, 246

(43) COS, P, pg. 310

(44) GOF, P, pg. 653

(45) GOF, P, pg. 653

(46) GOF, P, pg. 653

(47) OOTP, P, pg. 683

(48) HPB, H, pg. 460

(49) GOF P, pg. 654

(50) GOF, P, pg. 653