One Last Memory

by S.P. Sipal

Memories play a key role in the revelation and withholding of information throughout theHarry Potter series. We have memories that are clear, and some that are fogged, memories that are shared, and some withheld, a memory that has been tampered with, and one sucked out of the holder’s body (along with his soul) through a dementor’s kiss. Through it all, the reader learns new backstory that is relevant to the unfolding mystery…and is teased with what is yet to come.

In the course of Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore opens eight crystal bottles of memory (counting Slughorn’s twice). As the thoughtful, wise man he is, Dumbledore proceeds methodically and logically in revealing memories of Tom Riddle to Harry, and thus to the reader. He starts at the beginning, the circumstances behind Riddle’s birth, proceeds through his young years, and finishes with the adult Voldemort returning to Hogwarts to request a teaching position.

All these prior memories build on each other, helping Harry and the reader to understand who Voldemort is and why, as well as presenting the backstory behind Voldemort’’s Horcruxes. We are therefore prepared, with the revelation of Slughorn’’s memory, to understand and accept that Voldemort has killed time and time again in order to create immortality for himself.

With the final bottle opened, the correct Slughorn memory, certain crucial questions result:

  1. What items have been made into Horcruxes?
  2. Where will Harry have to look for them?
  3. How will Harry destroy them?
  4. who will aide Harry in his quest to eliminate the pieces of Voldemort’s soul, and, finally, Voldemort himself?

Dumbledore begins to reveal key elements of these final questions to Harry, but dies before all is divulged. He can no longer share memories to aid in Harry’s quest…or can he?

And now for the very last recollection I have to show you, at least until you manage to retrieve Professor Slughorn’’s memory for us.[1]

This is a very interesting, and somewhat ambiguous, quote. Did Dumbledore mean he had no more memories to show Harry except for Slughorn’s, should Harry retrieve it? Or was Dumbledore saying that he had no more memories to show Harry until after Slughorn’’s? This is a critical distinction, as the latter would mean Dumbledore had at least one more memory up his Pensieve.

As any faithful reader of the series knows, Dumbledore withholds vital information from Harry until the opportune moment for it to be revealed. Usually this opportune moment comes when Dumbledore believes Harry is ready to face the impact of what the information portends.

  1. Early on, Dumbledore did not reveal the prophecy to Harry because he felt that Harry was not yet mature enough to handle the knowledge that he must kill or be killed. Unfortunately, Dumbledore waited too long and the withholding resulted (partly) in the death of Sirius.
  2. Dumbledore has never fully answered Harry’s question as to why he trusts Snape. Have the consequences of withholding this information been too severe as well?

Maybe it’’s not too late to answer this second question. Maybe, just maybe, there’’s a memory which will reveal the foundation of Dumbledore’’s trust. It seems to me, as to a lot of readers, that there is one crucial memory which could answer many questions–one Harry does not possess: Godric’’s Hollow.

At the 2004 Edinburgh Book Festival, in answer to a question regarding why Harry didn’’t see the thestrals at the end of Goblet of Fire, JKR responds:

Harry did not see his parents die. He was one year old and in a cot at the time. Although you never see that scene, I wrote it and then cut it. He didn’’t see it; he was too young to appreciate it.[2]

One thing that is important to take from the quote above is the distinction between the movie and the book. A lot has been made about JKR having a hand in crafting the scene of Godric’s Hollow that appears in the first movie. Yet, here she clearly says that baby Harry was in his cot, not held in the arms of his loving, sacrificing mother as the movie depicts. And that makes a load of difference, as will be explored throughout this editorial.

So, if Harry does not possess a clear memory of the night his parents died, could someone else?

MA: Was there anyone else present in Godric’’s Hollow the night Harry’’s parents were killed?
JKR: No comment.[3]

What a tease! Having an eyewitness is imperative to the story. How else would the wizarding world know so quickly about Voldy’’s demise? Sure, the house being destroyed, the surge of magic used, could have brought in officials from the Ministry of Magic shortly after the attack, after You-Know-Who had disappeared. Evidence could have suggested what had happened, but a crucial piece of information is spread through the wizarding world almost immediately that only, I think, an eyewitness could account for–Voldemort’’s destruction. Otherwise, they could think He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had simply fled the scene of the crime, leaving baby Harry, for some reason, unharmed.

After all, it seems no one else was aware of the prophecy, or at least its content. The public did not know that You-Know-Who felt he must kill a powerless baby. Dumbledore tells Harry in the Weasley outhouse early in HBP that there are only two people in the whole world who know the full contents of that prophecy, and they were standing in that shed.[4] So, if anyone else ever knew the full contents of that prophecy, by HBP they are either no longer alive or otherwise incapacitated. Without an eyewitness, the attack could have seen as directed solely toward Lily and James — successfully completed — with Voldy or his crew of Death Eaters leaving baby Harry as unimportant rubbish.

Another important aspect to note in the Edinburgh quote is that JKR did write the Godric’s Hollow scene, and then cut it. Indeed, she has noted in interviews that she wrote the first chapter of Philosopher’’s Stone numerous times and revised it because it gave away too much.[5] Wouldn’’t you love to see all those earlier drafts? Failing that, perhaps a crystal clear vial of memory, an eyewitness account of what took place that night at GH?

As an author, I can imagine myself early in the writing process, having crafted this beautiful scene that explains everything, and then deciding not to use it, saving it away, stored somewhere as a memory to come into bearing later. At the opportune moment.

But from whose point of view would the scene project? We know for sure of only four people present that night: Harry, Voldemort, James and Lily. James and Lily are dead, their memories along with them. Harry was only one year old, too young to record in a mature way perhaps, and according to JKR, from his position in his crib, did not see his parents die. That leaves Voldemort, but we’ve already seen what he’s willing to share. He’s not going to give up memories of himself at his weakest, and perhaps his most important secret from that night — whether or not he made a Horcrux.

So, we need another eyewitness, someone with a reliable memory. Someone who could illuminate for Harry key septological secrets…perhaps where that last Horcrux is to be found…perhaps why Dumbledore trusted Snape.

Before discussing whose memory could reveal crucial information from Godric’s Hollow, it’s first necessary to understand how anyone could have gotten past the Fidelius Charm inside the Potter home.

Lily Potter, What a Charmer

“Lily, take Harry and go! It’’s him! Go! Run! I’’ll hold him off–”
The sounds of someone stumbling from a room–a door bursting open–a cackle of high-pitched laughter–

As we understand the sequence of events at Godric’’s Hollow so far revealed, having obtained the secret of the Potters’ location from Pettigrew, Voldemort enters James and Lily’’s home. James holds him off and is killed. Lily stumbles from the room, going after baby Harry, who is in his cot.

Imagine yourself a mother with a killer in your house. What would be the first thing you’’d do, if you could? Call for help.

We have seen members of the Order send their Patronus to each other in times of need. Could Lily have sent a Patronus? And if so, to whom?

However, before she sent a Patronus, I think Lily would have to break the Fidelius Charm, if it was not already broken. Many fans speculate that the charm (one based on good faith) was broken when the secret was revealed in bad faith by Pettigrew handing the secret over to Voldemort. If the charm remained in place though, it is quite likely that Lily, the probable caster of the charm, was able to withdraw it as she fled for Harry’s crib.

In HBP, we saw Dumbledore remove protective enchantments in an instant as he and Harry flew into the guarded grounds of Hogwarts. It’s important to remember that Lily’’s wand was good for charms.[7] I can imagine that as she ran for her baby, she first cast a charm to release the broken secret, then sent a distress call to the Order.

So, if Lily had time to cast these two spells, why not simply Apparate out of there? One quick answer is that Side-Along Apparition requires the adult to be holding onto the child, or vice versa. As we already know, Harry was in his cot, not his mother’s arms.

Another possibility is given to us by Dumbledore, when he states that “most wizarding dwellings are magically protected from unwanted Apparators.”[8] I’’d be “prepared to bet — perhaps not my other hand — but a couple of fingers”[9], that in the situation the Potters were living under, their home would most definitely be protected against Apparition. If so, Voldemort must not have Apparated within the house. He had to force his way into the house and up to the second floor (or wherever Harry’’s crib is).

Voldemort did say, in his taunting of Harry at the end of Philosopher’’s/Sorcerer’’s Stone, that James “put up a courageous fight.”[10] Thus, between Voldemort Apparating outside their home, and James holding him off, Lily, who unfortunately would not have been able to simply Apparate away, did have time to call for help.

The person I believe most likely to have answered Lily’’s SOS is…Frank Longbottom.

Frank Longbottom: Eyewitness to Murder

Frank Longbottom is an intriguing figure in the Harry Potter world. He’’s a character who possibly plays an important role, yet we have never seen him onstage. All we know about him is through the words of others, notably Dumbledore.

Several key elements regarding Frank Longbottom:

  1. Father to Neville, husband to Alice, son to Gran (Augusta) Longbottom
  2. Successful career as an Auror, a Dark wizard catcher
  3. Along with wife Alice, was tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange and her group, using the Cruciatus Curse
  4. Now living in a closed ward at St. Mungo’’s

There’’s an interesting quote from JKR about the length of OotP, which could illuminate point four above:

You need what’s in there if I’m going to play fair for the reader in the resolution in book seven. One of the reasons “Phoenix” is so long is that I had to move Harry around a lot, physically. There were places he had to go he had never been before, and that took time — to get him there, to get him away.[11]

Think about that scene in the closed ward at St. Mungo’s in OotP. What was the purpose of showing this scene? Aside from some light entertainment at hearing about Lockhart’s joined-up writing, and the more pressing point of showing the Devil’s Snare given to Broderick Bode (which was covered in the Daily Prophet article), all we really see is Neville visiting his parents. Actually, we don’’t even see Frank, just Alice.

I believe that one of these places Harry had to go in OotP was St. Mungo’’s. Particularly the closed ward. And the main purpose was for him to see, or not to see, Frank. It is important because Harry may be forced to return to the closed ward in Deathly Hallows.

For support, let’s look more deeply behind the motive that placed Frank and his wife in St. Mungo’s in the first place. Bartemius Crouch in “The Pensieve” chapter in GoF reveals the reasons for the Longbottoms’ torture:

““We have heard the evidence against you. The four of you stand accused of capturing an Auror–Frank Longbottom–and subjecting him to the Cruciatus Curse, believing him to have knowledge of the present whereabouts of your exiled master, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named–”…”
““You are further accused,”” bellowed Mr. Crouch, “”of using the Cruciatus Curse on Frank Longbottom’s wife, when he would not give you information…””

What is even more intriguing than the information revealed in these snippets, is the information we’re not allowed to see. JKR deliberately withholds certain key elements from us:

  1. Why did Bellatrix and her group believe that Frank had “knowledge of the present whereabouts” of Voldy?
  2. What was the evidence given against the four accused in court, offstage, prior to this scene?

Regarding the first question–we know the Death Eaters had spies within the ministry. Karkaroff gave testimony (to save his own hide) of “a network of well-placed wizards, both inside the Ministry and out, to collect information–”[13] and names Augustus Rookwood of the Department of Mysteries as one of those spies. In fact, Ludo Bagman was on trial for passing information to “Lord Voldemort’’s supporters”[14], i.e. to Rookwood.

The Death Eaters had the means to gain intelligence within the Ministry, possibly to know what an Auror was up to on a particular night, to learn their assignments, their stake-outs. There is one very logical reason for the Death Eaters to come after Frank, and not any other of a number of Aurors–they had information placing Frank Longbottom at the scene of the crime. It is entirely possible that Bellatrix hunted down Longbottom because she knew he’d been at Godric’’s Hollow and played witness to the destruction of her master.

They’re saying he tried to kill the Potter’s son, Harry. But–he couldn’t. He couldn’t kill that little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they’re saying that when he couldn’t kill Harry Potter, Voldemort’s power somehow broke–and that’s why he’s gone.[15]

The wizarding world knew immediately–Harry had been the target and Voldemort had been vanquished. These crucial bits of information could have only come by way of an eyewitness, and given the DE’s “marking” Frank Longbottom as someone with knowledge of where their master had gone, I propose that they knew Frank was that eyewitness.

As to question number two above–we never heard the evidence given against Bellatrix and her group, no summary, not one bit of detail. At first this omission seems planned to keep the reader guessing about Barty Jr.’s guilt or innocence, but I believe it might also be critical because of what it would have revealed about Frank. JKR didn’’t want us to know too soon that he’’d been at Godric’’s Hollow.

Why would Frank have been at the Potters’’ home that fateful night? Again, we’re not given a straight answer, but strong clues lie hidden within the text. The paramount evidence: when have you ever known Dumbledore not to have a back-up plan?

  1. Think back to Philosopher’’s/Sorcerer’’s Stone and how many traps Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to pass through to get to the final room with the Mirror of Erised.
  2. Hogwarts has numerous charms placed on it for the protection of the students.
  3. At Privet Drive, Harry is not only protected by the blood shared between his mother and Aunt Petunia, but also by Mrs. Figg and other levels of secret protection that are hinted at by Lord Voldemort.
  4. When Harry is transported by the Order to Grimmauld Place, not only are there numerous members of the Guard to fly alongside him, but there is a back-up Guard should the first all be killed.

Indeed, everywhere we look, Dumbledore employs layers of protection. Surely, knowing the prophecy–and even more importantly, knowing Voldemort has been made aware of the prophecy–Dumbledore would not have left the Potters protected by only one breakable charm. Frank Longbottom could have been in the house prior to Lord Voldemort’s arrival, but more likely, he arrived on the scene during the course of the attack, much as Mrs. Figg did with the dementors and Harry. It is my belief that Frank arrived at the summons of Lily’s Patronus.

Why would Frank be the most likely person to respond to Lily’’s summons?

  1. He was a highly skilled Auror.
  2. He was a member of the Order of the Phoenix.
  3. As he was the father of the other child possibly named by the prophecy, he’d most likely been made aware of the prophecy, at least in part.

We need to keep in mind that prior to the attack at Godric’s Hollow, Dumbledore had already been tipped off (more about this later) that Voldemort had determined Harry to be the child of the prophecy. Neville was off the hook, so his father was at liberty to be the Potters’’ backup.

Readers have been long aware that Neville’’s memory problem may point to a key clue. But perhaps we’ve focused too much on Neville himself having the scrap of information we need. Perhaps instead we should think about his parents, particularly his father.

If we accept that Frank was there that fateful night, how in the world would JKR give us access to his lost memory?

I see three possibilities:

  1. Lockhart showed promise of recovering his memory during the trio and Ginny’’s trip to the closed ward. Even though the Longbottoms were not Obliviated, but rather Crucio’d into insanity, perhaps there’’s hope for their healing as well–either naturally, through time, or through new methods of healing which could include restoration of their memories.
  2. We never saw Frank during our brief visit inside that closed ward. We only saw Alice–and her attempt to pass the infamous bubble-gum wrapper to her son. Perhaps Frank’s omission was hiding his recovery, or even his absence.
  3. My last guess, and my best, is based on a motif we saw rise in importance in HBP–the vial of memory. Morfin and Hokey had been dead for many years (since Voldemort was a young man), so we know Dumbledore had been investigating Riddle and collecting those memories for quite some time. Perhaps he persuaded Frank to share the GH memory with him during that critical time period, after the night at GH, and before Frank was Crucio’d into insanity. If indeed there had been an eyewitness to Godric’s Hollow, Dumbledore would most certainly have interviewed him, and most definitely would have preserved that vital memory.

One thing to note here–in the collection of memories that Dumbledore showed Harry in HBP, at least one of them, Morfin’s, he said he was “very lucky to collect.”[16] According to Dumbledore, “it took a great deal of skilled Legilimency to coax it out of him.”[17] Morfin’s memory was obtained in the last few weeks of Morfin’s life, after he had been living under the dementors’ tormenting presence at Azkaban. Even prior to his time period at Azkaban, Morfin had not been completely sane. And yet, Dumbledore was able to collect this important memory in good shape.

Thus, long before Godric’s Hollow, Dumbledore was already piecing together what Voldemort was up to with his Horcruxes. Dumbledore may not have yet known that You-Know-Who was forming a plural number of them, but he knew he was up to something.

If Frank ever possessed a memory of Godric’s Hollow, I believe it has either already been recovered and bottled, or will be recovered by Harry and his friends in Deathly Hallows.

One question remains, however–if Frank was at Godric’s Hollow that night, and witness to Voldemort’s attack, why did he do nothing to stop it? Maybe he wasn’’t alone. Enter…

Professor Severus Snape

““Professor……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.””

At this moment, this pause in the exchange between Harry and Dumbledore, it seems that Dumbledore seriously pondered whether the timing was right to truly answer Harry’s question, perhaps whether to uncork that final memory. A memory that would very possibly reveal the truth about where Snape’s loyalties lie.

Snape’s loyalty has been the million Galleon question that has kept fans speculating since the release of HBP–well, actually since the very beginning. Why did Dumbledore trust Snape, and was he correct in doing so?

Severus Snape was indeed a Death Eater. However, he rejoined our sidebefore Lord Voldemort’s downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk.[19]

In order to understand what Dumbledore initially saw in Snape, I think we must review some key elements about this peculiar friendship:

  1. Snape had been a Death Eater, perhaps one of Voldemort’’s inner circle.
  2. Snape had overheard at least part of Trelawney’’s prophecy, and understood the Dark Lord intended to kill a baby because of it.
  3. Snape had a fascination for the Dark Arts, was adept at potions, and may have already acquired his skill at healing Dark wounds.

When Harry asks Dumbledore why Snape had cared for Katie Bell after she touched the cursed necklace, Dumbledore replies, “Professor Snape knows much more about the Dark Arts than Madam Pomfrey.”[20] Without a doubt, Snape seems to be the go-to wizard for any sort of Dark Arts-related healing. Remember how he healed his own leg after Fluffy’s attack? He was also the man Dumbledore most wanted to attend both of his Horcrux wounds. And we must definitely not forget how he healed Draco after Harry’s infamous Sectumsempra attack.

But, how was that initial “return to the Light” contact made between Snape and Dumbledore? Snape has been confirmed as the DE who overheard the prophecy in the first place. He is also the most likely suspect for having later tipped Dumbledore off to the Dark Lord’s determination of Harry as the child of the prophecy.[21] Dumbledore never confirms this, but does give a hint:

You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned–[22]

Given such an incredible opportunity as having a Death Eater present himself to Dumbledore, wouldn’t it seem reasonable that Dumbledore would have Snape spy on his former master not only to learn inside secrets, but also to obtain any possible evidence regarding the Dark Lord’s experiments with immortality? After all, who would be better equipped to investigate the possible Horcruxes than a former Death Eater, someone with inside knowledge of the Dark Lord, a skilled Legilimens, and a man who very much fancied the Dark Arts himself?

Dumbledore said of the Morfin memory: “I was able to secure a visit to Morfin in the last few weeks of his life, by which time I was attempting to discover as much as I could about Voldemort’’s past.”[23] Before Snape presented himself to Dumbledore as a repentant Death Eater (some time between Trelawney’’s prophecy and Godric’’s Hollow), Dumbledore had already begun investigations into Voldemort’s past and collecting key memories (see memory chart in Appendix).

I believe that when Snape came to Dumbledore with the tip-off, Dumbledore extended his trust to Snape only so far. He decided to test Snape and assigned him a task in which he could do no harm to the Order, and if he were true, could potentially provide a huge service. He thus asked Snape to investigate and follow the Dark Lord to discover what he could, if anything, about what Voldemort was doing to ensure his immortality.

I also believe it was in this role of a “tail” that led Snape to Godric’’s Hollow, following Voldemort’’s trail. And it was here at Godric’’s Hollow that Snape would show in action where his true loyalties lay–and earn the unwavering trust of Dumbledore.

(Please note, I do not think Dumbledore ever revealed everything he knew about the prophecy and the Horcruxes to Snape. But, in my opinion, Dumbledore eventually confided more to Snape than to anyone else–except possibly Harry. It is for these confidences, along with Snape’s own knowledge of the Dark Arts and the Dark Lord, that Snape’s assistance will be invaluable to Harry in Deathly Hallows.)

One intriguing question which JKR posed recently is:

Why did Dumbledore have James’ invisibility cloak at the time of James’ death, given that Dumbledore could make himself invisible without a cloak? There IS a significant – even crucial – answer.[24]

Although Snape could continue his role as a Death Eater and spy on the normal DE meetings without a disguise, he could not appear as himself to investigate Voldemort’s Horcruxes, a secret which Voldemort kept from even his most trusted “friends.” In order to aid Snape in this extra bit of sleuthing, I believe Dumbledore lent him James’ invisibility cloak.

As Snape had been the most likely candidate to tip off Dumbledore, and thereby James and Lily, to Voldemort’s plans for Harry, I believe James would have been more than willing to lend his valuable invisibility cloak to Dumbledore for his former enemy to use in spying on Voldemort. Indeed, we have seen such a situation used in Harry Potterbefore, with Mad-Eye lending his cloak out to various members of the Order–such as Mr. Weasley the night he was attacked by Nagini.

Yes, I know. Snape was not hiding under the invisibility cloak at Godric’s Hollow. JKR has already Avada Kedavra’d that theory. But that does not mean Snape was not using it on his way to the Potters’ home.

Here is where I leave “the firm foundation of fact,” or reasonable deduction, and we journey “together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.”[25] In other words, I’’m about to get highly speculative. But please bear with me; I think you will see how it all fits together in the end.

Imagine, if you will: Snape has been following Voldemort on Dumbledore’s suggestion in order to find out what he can about the possible Horcruxes. On this particular Halloween night, Voldemort’s trail leads Snape where he’d hoped not to follow: Godric’s Hollow, and the home of Lily Potter. But Snape’s hidden under the invisibility cloak, and to leave its protection would mean to announce to the Dark Lord that he’s been trailing him (not too closely, of course), and would certainly mean instant death. When, suddenly, in front of him, Frank Longbottom Apparates outside the Potters’ door. Snape throws off the invisibility cloak and rushes after Frank into the Potter home as if he’s pursuing Frank rather than Voldy.

There must have been a moment of surprise, when Frank enters with Snape on his heels, a stand-off in which Snape is able to murmur to the Dark Lord that perhaps he doesn’t want to do off with the Mudblood just yet. Snape’s too smart to appeal to any soft-side the Dark Lord does not possess.

We know that once Voldemort comes face to face with Lily, he gives her the choice of stepping aside, saving her own life. Truly this is a choice that no mother would take, but it does allow for some time, for some give and take. JKR places significance in Lily being given a choice; the important question we now ask is why.

There can be only one reason why a psychopath like Voldemort would allow someone standing in his way to live, and no, I don’t think it was because Snape asked his master to save his one true love–not directly anyway. Lily possessed something Voldemort needed. And Snape, who had known Lily in school, studied or competed with her in Potions, and possibly hidden a tendre for her underneath his sneering exterior, had followed her career enough to know what she’d been doing since she left Hogwarts.

Maybe, just maybe, she worked in the very room which had for so long intrigued Voldemort, to which he had not yet acquired access–no, not the Hall of Prophecy, but the room behind the locked door in the Department of Mysteries. It has long been speculated, and I believe rightly so, that Lily was an Unspeakable (interesting how that title seems to mirror Voldemort’s He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named), and she knew a secret which Voldemort would surely die (or not die) to obtain, one that must relate to the key to immortality–a secret we’ll discuss more in the next section.

Frank, either not in Dumbledore’s confidences enough to know that Snape had switched sides (or distrusting Snape and not understanding that the only way Snape could try to save at least one life was to appeal to Voldemort’s most fervent desire) yells “traitor” and begins a battle with Snape. As we have seen with Mad-Eye, an Auror will not so easily as Dumbledore place trust in a repentant Death Eater.

It is during this struggle between Frank and Snape that Voldemort offers Lily her version of “better save your own life and join me”[26] as he does to Harry inPhilosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone. Lily refuses, just like her son almost eleven years later. Voldemort attempts to kill baby Harry, but Lily throws herself in front of the curse.[27]And…well, we all know what happened then.

Meanwhile, in the stunning moment that follows this remarkable occurrence, Snape manages to gain control over Frank, possibly through a spell like Petrificus Totalus. I imagine that Frank had suffered some wounds due to the battle and was weakened.

For me, this guesswork gets us to the crucial point in answering the question–why would Dumbledore trust Snape? However, to understand the evidence answering this question we must first dip a bit into the deep well of Egyptian mythology, from which I believe JKR draws quite heavily.
Isis and the Secret Name of Ra

Now the important thing about Harry’s mother, the really, really significant thing, you’re going to find out in 2 parts…you’ll find out something very significant about her in Book 5, then you’ll find out something incredibly important about her in Book 7…both of them are very important in what Harry ends up having to do.[28]

This something “incredibly important” about Lily still to be revealed, I believe, would have been demonstrated in the missing Godric’s Hollow scene. As discussed, Lily possessed something that Voldemort needed her alive to obtain. Knowledge. And there is only one thing that Voldemort truly cares about–eternal life.

To get an idea of what connections Lily may have had to eternal life, we must look to the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis. Isis was a mother goddess greatly renowned for her magical skills and honored as the purest example of a loving wife and mother. She gave birth to Horus, who was destined to avenge his father’s murder at the hands of his evil uncle Set.[29] When Set attempted to murder the baby Horus, Isis saved her son by healing him from a lethal scorpion sting. In fact, the tiet, an amulet also known as the “Knot of Isis” or the “Blood of Isis,” was a sign of eternal life or resurrection.[30]

There is one very appealing story of Isis that I think reflects directly on Lily’s secret–Isis and the Secret Name of Ra. According to an ancient Egyptian myth, Isis desired to know the secret name of the great god Ra. She forms a clay snake and leaves it on the path Ra is to pass. The snake bites Ra, who calls for help from among all his children. None have the power, or knowledge, to heal him. Isis claims only she can release the poison, but she requires payment from him first–Ra must reveal to her his secret name. He does so only with the condition that she share it with no one else but her son Horus, and binds the promise with Horus’ eyes.

These selections come from the beautiful verses which make up this well-known (to ancient Egyptians) myth. To them it was revered as a spell to repel poisons:

Now Isis is a wise woman,
more rebellious in her heart than a million men,
more choice than millions of gods,
more to reckon than millions of spirits.
She was ignorant of nothing in heaven and earth like Ra,
maker of what is under the earth. The goddess
she decided in her heart
to know the name of the noble god.

Here we have Lily, the charming, witty, intelligent woman who everyone, including Slughorn and James (and possibly Snape), seemed to have adored.

After being bitten, Ra laments:

I have many names, many forms…
My father and my mother told me my name
and I hid it from my children, in my body
to prevent it happening that a male or female magician strike against me.

Sounds remarkably similar to Tom Riddle creating the secret name of Voldemort, which wizards and witches will fear to speak, and thereby hiding his birth-name and his humble early years, which could, as Dumbledore hoped, provide insight to his vulnerability.

Then said Isis to Ra:

‘Tell me your name, my divine father
A man lives when called by his name.’

Ra tells her many euphemisms for his name, but not his secret, divine name. Finally, Isis beseeches:

‘Your name is not among those you have told me:
tell it to me.
The poison leaves a man when his name is pronounced.’

Dumbledore (Hermione in the movie) insisted, ““Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.””[31]

Ra, in agony, tells Isis his secret name, with the exhortation:

If it happens as the time of the desire going out to you,
tell it to the son, Horus,
when you have bound him by an oath of god,
the granting of the god his two eyes.’
The great god raised up in his name
to Isis great in words of power.
‘Fail, scorpion, go out from Ra,
eye of Horus, go out from the god,
Burning of the mouth,
I am the one who made you, I am the one who sent you,
Fall to ground, poison,
I have power, see the great god has raised up in his name.
Ra lives, the poison has died.

Let’s see, we have a secret name of a divine god, snakes and poisons, and the son, Horus, binding of his two eyes. Which all translates into Harry Potter language as: Lily was a very powerful, charming witch who had knowledge beyond the ordinary, most probably the very secret work that went on behind the locked door in the Department of Mysteries. She guarded knowledge that Voldemort wanted desperately to obtain, one he believed related directly to obtaining immortality. She also possessed a strong love for her son which led her to make a willing sacrifice and save his life. And by willingly shedding her own blood, she left her son with a protective amulet in his skin…his very own Eye of Horus.
The Eye of Horus

In Egyptian mythology, Isis’ husband, Osiris, the god of the underworld, represents the deceased pharoah, whereas their son Horus, prince of the gods, god of the sky, is the embodiment of the living pharoah. Horus is a god symbolized by a falcon, or, as Horus of Edfu, by a winged solar disk or a lion with the head of a hawk.[33] Sounds a bit like our Gryffindor Seeker, doesn’t it?

Horus’ uncle, Set, killed Osiris to gain control of Egypt. After Set tried to kill Horus, and Isis restored her son to life, Horus began an epic battle to avenge his murdered father and finally defeated Set. However, during the course of the battle, Set tore Horus’ left eye out. It was restored with magic by the god Thoth and became the magical Eye of Horus.

Sometimes, when he strained his memory during long hours in his cupboard, he came up with a strange vision: a blinding flash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead.[34]

As has been repeated over and over in the series, Voldemort’s Avada Kedavra did not kill Harry due to his mother’s protection, thus making him The-Boy-Who-Lived. However, it seems highly likely that the blinding and burning sensory images Harry retains point to some serious initial damage. Maybe he was even blinded.

This theory may truly be going out on a Whomping Willow limb, but I’ve always wondered if the incessant repetition of Harry having his mother’s eyes was a literal thing–Harry truly has Lily’s eyes. What if he was blinded by the Avada Kedavra, and Snape did an emergency “transplant” or switching spell? However, I can think of no purpose for Harry to have Lily’s eyes in this manner…unless it allowed Lily to watch over her son from behind the veil.

The Eye of Horus is thematically related to the concept of the “third eye,” associated with visions and out-of-body experiences, and Harry has definitely experienced those. Although many believe all possess a third eye, it is only Seers who have developed the ability to use theirs.

JKR has hinted that the location of the scar is more important than the shape. “The shape is not the most significant aspect of that scar, and that’s all I’m going to say.”[35] The location, on the forehead, could mark it as a third eye reference.

Many fans have long hoped (along with Harry) that Sirius was carrying his magical mirror when he fell behind the veil in the Department of Mysteries, thereby enabling Sirius at some point to communicate with his godson from the Otherworld. But, what if his “mother’s eyes” could act as a two-way mirror? Maybe all along Harry has possessed the ability to communicate with his mother, and simply not understood it. After all, in his skepticism regarding Divination, and his abhorrence of Occlumency and Legilimency lessons with Snape, Harry has never seriously pursued development of his “inner eye.”

However, before this Whomping Willow limb belts me one, let’s move to safer ground.

The Eye of Horus was an amulet of healing and resurrection. One of the most revered and powerful amulets in ancient Egypt, the Eye provided protection from evil. It was a symbol of royal strength and assisted in the rebirth of the deceased.[36].

The healed eye, known as the wedjat, was also the symbol for the return of order after chaos. “The Eye of Horus is the greatest gift of all, and it constitutes the quintessence of gifts.”[37] Harry Potter readers can definitely see how this gift, in the form of Harry’s scar, was celebrated among the witches and wizards as the sign of delivery from Voldemort’s reign of terror.

The Eye of Horus is the granddaddy of apotropaic amulets, meaning a talisman thatturns back harm or evil. In fact, the eye amulet was so popular it spread throughout the region and the centuries, morphing and adapting to various cultures, but always retaining the staring single eye. It is truly very old magic.

The Eye still exists in various incarnations even today. It is very popular throughout the Middle East, especially in Turkey where it is known as nazar boncuk. (There is an interesting “Curiosity” comparing the nazar boncuk to Mad-Eye Moody’s eye in Wizarding World Press’ Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter (Analysis of Book 5), p. 25).

Disks or balls, consisting of concentric blue and white circles (usually, from inside to outside, dark blue, light blue, white, dark blue) representing an evil eye are common apotropaic talismans in the Middle East…in some forms of the folklore, the staring eyes are supposed to bend the malicious gaze back to the sorcerer.[38]

In Turkey you will still see many young children with a nazar boncuk pinned to their clothing, placed there protectively by their loving mothers. With her sacrifice, Lily effectively pinned a boncuk, an Eye of Horus, to Harry. Her willing blood sacrifice acted as an amulet turning back the malicious curse onto the one who cast it.

Another interesting similarity–when a nazar boncuk has done its job, it cracks. A cracked eye amulet is a symbol that a curse has been repelled. Just like Harry’s cracked forehead.

A Dittany of Love, Snape’’s Moment of Choice

So, there baby Harry lies in his cot, with a dead mother and a cracked forehead. I think we have tantalizing images of what could have happened next in the “Sectumsempra” chapter of HBP.

Snape had burst into the room, his face livid. Pushing Harry roughly aside, he knelt over Malfoy, drew his wand and traced it over the deep wounds Harry’s curse had made, muttering an incantation that sounded almost like song. The flow of blood seemed to ease; Snape wiped the residue from Malfoy’s face and repeated his spell. Now the wounds seemed to be knitting.

Snape says:

“There may be a certain amount of scarring, but if you take dittanyimmediately we might avoid even that…come…”[39]

I think JKR considered it crucial for the reader to see Snape healing a serious, bloody wound that possibly could leave a scar with phoenix-like song because we will see it again in the Godric’s Hollow memory. In my theory, Snape, on hand after the infamous backfired curse, bends over baby Harry, knitting the baby’s wounds, acting immediately to prevent too much blood loss, but, without dittany handy, unable to prevent the scarring.

It’s interesting to note that dittany, mentioned as early as Philosopher’’s/Sorcerer’’s Stone on p. 229, is a perennial plant native only to Crete, where its native name, eronda, means love. “It is thought that wild beasts used to eat it to help them heal themselves when injured by hunters.”[40]

There’s that love and healing theme again…and in Snape’s hands. What if Snape healed Harry’s wound just above his eyes, perhaps even the eyes themselves if there had indeed been blindness? Just as Thoth did to Horus.

In my opinion, there could be only one truly compelling reason for Dumbledore to place such unwavering trust in a former Death Eater–because in a moment when Snape could have chosen incredible personal gain, he turned his back on his dark history and acted in a way that was of benefit to others. In other words, if Snape had been at Godric’s Hollow and witnessed the demise of Voldemort, if he’d been a true Death Eater, he would have acted in one of two ways:

  1. Acted immediately to bring Voldemort back to life and thus earning his master’s eternal gratitude and top lieutenant post, or
  2. Used his proximity and knowledge to claim Voldemort’s place of power. In other words, he could have picked up the “Gurg’s helmet” and crowned himself Voldemort II.

Snape did neither. He did not destroy baby Harry, but healed him instead.

It was then, in this moment of true loyalty to Dumbledore’s side, that Snape, in his moment of need, brings Fawkes to his side. Snape uses the phoenix, able to carry immensely heavy loads, to airlift the injured but conscious Frank back to Dumbledore. Frank, possibly now seeing and understanding Snape’s loyalty, relates what occurred at Godric’s Hollow to Dumbledore, who immediately sends Hagrid out to collect baby Harry, and sets in motion his plan for protecting the boy. (Of course, this whole vision is all highly speculative).

Hagrid reports to Dumbledore in the first chapter of Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone:

“…house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin’ around.”[41]

Avada Kedavra would not destroy a building. But five battling wizards could (count them–James and Voldy, Lily and Voldy, Snape and Frank). Witness the destruction at the Ministry of Magic during Dumbledore and Voldemort’s battle. Or Snape could have destroyed parts of the house to cover evidence–and not necessarily from the Muggle police or the MoM. Snape may have acted immediately to hide crucial clues from the Death Eaters, who would surely come sniffing around as well.

We’ve already seen from canon how Bellatrix and her group were doing their best to track their vanished master. Maybe, just as Pettigrew had destroyed a whole street to hide the fact that his body was not present, Snape destroyed parts of the Potter house to hide one that was–Voldy’s. In this manner he could possibly hinder the Death Eaters from seeing their Dark Lord’s body, knowing he was dead, and following his bodyless soul.

Hagrid never mentioned seeing Snape at Godric’s Hollow (to Harry at least) for several reasons, I believe.

  1. Dumbledore probably asked him not to, and Hagrid can keep some secrets,
  2. Hagrid did not see him as Snape was off securing Voldemort’s body, or
  3. Snape was hidden under the Invisibility Cloak as he feared a reaction from Hagrid similar to Frank’s.
  4. And let’s not forget the big one–it would give too much of the plot away too early.

Keep in mind, the Potter home was not totally destroyed, and Snape is not the nurturing type. Just as Snape would never wear a turban[42], he’s not going to sit there and cuddle baby Harry either. Having sent for help, healed Harry’s wounds and assured he was in a safe enough place (and maybe put a silencing charm on him to boot), Snape would be off doing something more important.

We are never told what happened to Voldemort’s body. At the end of HBP, Harry alludes to his parents’ bodies when he mentions visiting their graves in Godric’s Hollow. But no mention is given anywhere in the series (at least as far as I can find) about Voldemort’s. In GoF, Barty Crouch, Jr. transfigures his dead father’s corpse into a bone and buries it in Hagrid’s garden. In HBP, Slughorn transformed himself into a chair and hid amid the self-inflicted destruction of his home. In a similar manner, Snape could have hidden the body of Voldemort by transfiguring it into something that would not be detected in the semi-destroyed Potter house.

A couple of unanswered questions are left:

  1. Why didn’t Snape collect Voldemort’s wand?
  2. Where did Snape go after this?

Regarding Voldemort’s wand, we know that Pettigrew ended up with it, and it’s reported that JKR said he hid it during the years he lived as a rat.[43] A true but weak Death Eater, Pettigrew had been waiting outside for his master to do his dirty deed. Unnoticed by Snape as the rat he was, Wormtail scurried through the rubble and collected the wand as a life-insurance policy. He was not strong enough to try to claim power for himself, so instead opted to use the situation to his own advantage. After all, who knew when a wand of such power would come in handy…especially should its owner return.

As far as where Snape went after this–I wonder, is it possible to track a bodyless soul? Could Snape have acted so quickly in getting Frank off, healing Harry and then leaving him behind so as to follow Vapormort? Is this how Dumbledore received the information he alludes to years later that Voldemort was hiding out in the woods of Albania?[44]

Before we move on, however, let’s ponder one last supporting thought. In this scenario, Frank Longbottom, in his distrust of Snape, albeit well-meaning, prevented Snape from saving Lily’s, and possibly Harry’s, life. Snape, being the loyal but thoroughly nasty person that he is, forever blamed Longbottom, and thus endlessly tortured Frank’s son, Neville, in Potions. Snape’s motto seems to be “like wizard, like son.”

I believe I have presented a plausible chain of events for how Godric’s Hollow played out. Still, it’s mostly guesswork. For support, I point to the analogies provided between my scenario and scenes that have occurred in the course of the six books.

Still, there’s something missing in all this guesswork. The heart of the matter. What exactly did Voldemort hope to obtain from Lily? What knowledge did she possess?

The Eye of Horus contains further clues, especially when considered alongside Golpalott’s Third Law and Quintessence: A Quest.

Golp-a-lott of Quintessence

There is another element to the Eye of Horus which is a bit more difficult to understand, but holds intriguing possibilities for the Harry Potter fanatic. The six parts which made up the Eye of Horus were used as mathematical symbols to represent decreasing fractions progressively halved (1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64). Each of these Eye symbols and fractions also represented a sense (smell, sight, thought, hearing, taste, and touch respectively). The six parts together embodied a whole, a complete–except that they total 63/64, missing one small fraction, 1/64.

There was an esoteric meaning associated with this missing fraction. “The eye is the part of the body able to perceive light, and is therefore the symbol for spiritual ability.”[45]The missing fraction of the eye represented a magical element supplied by Thoth, which cannot be quantified, but without which nothing, and no one, is complete.[46].

Because this missing magical element is so important, JKR left us two direct clues within the HBP text–Golpalott’s Third Law and Quintessence: A Quest.

In HBP, Golpalott’s Third Law is a potions’ law that Harry, and many readers, find quite difficult to understand.

Hermione recited at top speed: “Golpalott’s-Third-Law-states-

Then Slughorn clarifies, somewhat:

“…which means, of course, that assuming we have achieved correct identification of the potion’s ingredients by Scarpin’s Revelaspell, our primary aim is not the relatively simple one of selecting antidotes to those ingredients in and of themselves, but to find that added component which will, by an almost alchemical process, transform these disparate elements–”[47]

What all this means is that there’s an intuitive, almost alchemical knowledge which comes to bear in creating an antidote to a blended potion. Secret knowledge of an important missing element, so to speak.

“By an almost alchemical process”–alchemy, another system of beliefs and imagery which JKR draws on quite a bit, is the process of transforming base metal into gold and the creation of the Elixir of Life. However, there was also a strong spiritual element to alchemy (present from its earliest roots in Egyptian mythology) which was the process of transforming the believer’s earth-bound soul into eternal spirit–what some would today call enlightenment.

Of course, fans of Harry Potter are all familiar with the alchemy allusions in the first book, as Harry sought to keep Voldemort from obtaining the Philosopher’s Stone. Threads of alchemical analogy run throughout the series with many fine editorials already covering that topic. There is one hint, though, in HBP, of an important alchemical concept that I think relates directly to the Eye of Horus and Golpalott’s Third Law. Quintessence.

In Chapter 15 of HBP, “The Unbreakable Vow,” Harry, while trying to avoid being dragged into Ron’s grumblings against Hermione, is reading a book for Charms,Quintessence: A Quest. I believe this is a very sly reference from JKR, to reinforce the Eye of Horus analogy and the stated Golpalott’s Law. Just to make sure we get the point.

Quintessence is an alchemical term for the mystical fifth element. Earth, air, water, and fire are the traditional four elements which make up everything that exists. In Harry Potter, JKR has confirmed that each Hogwarts House represents one of these elements: Earth = Hufflepuff, Air = Ravenclaw, Water = Slytherin, and Fire = Gryffindor.[48] But there is a fifth element, quintessence, which I think plays an even stronger role in the series, indeed is the embodiment of Harry’s personal quest.

The Quintessence is the fifth element with which the alchemists could work. It was the essential presence of something or someone, the living thing itself that animated or gave something its deepest characteristics…It can be thought of as the ethereal embodiment of the life force that we encounter in dreams and altered states of consciousness. It is the purest individual essence of something that we must unveil and understand in order to transform it.[49]

Essentially, quintessence is spirit, it is soul.

Let’s see, here we have a charm reference (quintessence), a potion reference (Golpalott’s), and a Harry analogy (Eye of Horus)–all of which point to a missing esoteric element, the embodiment of spirit, of soul…of love. United, the three point to a key Lily clue.

Throughout Half-Blood Prince we have heard over and over how talented Lily was at potions. From the very beginning, since Harry obtained his wand from Ollivander, we understood that Lily was quite gifted at charms. Surely Lily would have understood Golpalott’s Third Law and that elusive quintessence. Is it possible that she passed this understanding on to her son, though he has not realized it yet?

For Harry, quintessence is the missing element he must understand in Voldemort if he is to transform him, to defeat the Dark Lord. Even more importantly, quintessence is Harry himself. It is the part of Harry he must know and understand more completely if he is to have the power to do what he has been called for, and accepted, as his prophecy.

Brew the Eye of Horus, Golpalott’s Third Law, and quintessence together and you have a very strong clue JKR has given us toward Deathly Hallows.

Harry, and Horus, and Horcruxes…Oh My

We know that in Deathly Hallows, Harry, along with the help of Hermione and Ron, will embark on a search and destroy mission to hunt down Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. Harry’s going to need all the help he can get to determine what and where the remaining pieces of Voldemort’s soul are, as well as how to destroy them without destroying himself.

He will also need to learn quite a bit about trust in order to accomplish this mission–trust of his own inner abilities, and, I believe, trust of Snape. As presented under the “Professor Severus Snape” section, Snape is the most likely person (now that Dumbledore is gone) to have the knowledge, experience, and skills Harry needs in order to defeat Voldemort. Forcing Harry to come to terms with Snape may in fact be one of the main reasons behind JKR doing away with Snape and Harry’s intermediary, Dumbledore (besides the fact that the old wizard always bites it; it’s a “hero’s journey” rule).

Think back to the last item we discussed regarding the Eye of Horus. The Eye is divided into six measurable parts (based on decreasing divisions of 1/2) where each part represents a portion of the human that together make up the whole: taste, touch, thought, sight, hearing, smell, as well as that seventh elusive spiritual element. Now, remember the Horcruxes we are sure of so far, and those Dumbledore felt fairly confident about: the diary, the ring, Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, and possibly Nagini.

Let’s see–thoughts are recorded in a diary, a ring is worn on fingers which touch things, a locket holds something you can look at, you can drink (taste) out of a cup, and Nagini, well, snakes are known for their keen and unusual sense of smell. In fact, in the CoS book as opposed to the movie, after Fawkes blinded it, the basilisk had to sniff Harry out. Coincidence?

Then consider this other Horus-related coincidence: the ankh is another ancient Egyptian symbol that is seen quite often held in a god or goddess’ hand, sometimes held toward the mouth of the deceased as it bestows life. The ankh is a cross with a loop at the top and it represents resurrection, eternal life. It was also known as the “key of life” and among earlier Egyptologists as the “cross of Horus.”[50] Could Horcrux be a wordplay on “cross of Horus?”

If we believe the Eye of Horus offers us some insight toward finding the remaining Horcrux, then Harry must look for an item that represents hearing. Florean Fortescue disappeared near the beginning of HBP, believed to have been “dragged off”[51] by Death Eaters. This most likely would have been after Voldemort discovered, with anger “terrible to behold”[52] that one of his prior Horcruxes, the diary, had been destroyed. Could Fortescue have been taken to prevent information regarding another Horcrux leaking where it shouldn’t?

Many fans have already made a link between Florean Fortescue and the Fortescue portrait of a prior Headmaster which hangs in Dumbledore’s office. Many fans have also already connected Florean Fortescue’s wide knowledge of “medieval witch burnings”[53]as a mark of a possible Ravenclaw, perhaps even a descendant. And the Fortescue who hangs in Dumbledore’s office, corpulent and with a red spotted nose, sitting on a throne-like chair[54], has been seen to use an ear-trumpet upon occasion. An item for hearing.

Of course, I don’t think a Horcrux would be made out of a portion of a portrait, but it could be made out of the real item–if it were still in existence and handed down to a family member who, oh, I don’t know, owns an ice cream parlor located a side street and few doors away from Borgin and Burkes where Tom Riddle used to work, maybe.


Eye of Horus part Corresponding Horcrux Location
Thought Tom Riddle’s diary Left with Lucius, ended in Chamber of Secrets
Touch Peverell ring Remains of Gaunt house
Sight Slytherin’s locket Voldy placed in cave, last seen in Grimmauld Place
Taste Hufflepuff’s cup Possibly in Chamber of Secrets
Smell Nagini ?? or snuffbox With Voldemort/with George
Hearing Ravenclaw ear-trumpet Don’t know
Spirit/Love (or lack thereof) Voldemort Wherever he is

Note: I have serious doubts that Nagini is a Horcrux. I find it interesting all the same that even if she is not, she still embodies the characteristic of smell, which the other Horcrux in her place would have as well. I’ve got my eye, or should I say nose, on that silver snuffbox that bit Sirius and which George pocketed.[55] The only problem I see with the snuffbox as a Horcrux is that we don’t yet know of any connections it has to the Founding Four or any other significance to Voldemort.

Also, regarding locations of Horcruxes, surely one of them will be found in the Chamber of Secrets, probably buried beneath the floor between the feet of Slytherin’s statue, right where Ginny lay as an X marking the spot. If there is a Horcrux buried within the Chamber, my guess would be Hufflepuff’s cup, as it was one of the earliest collected that hasn’t already been located, and Voldemort would have had it when he came sniffing around Hogwarts as an adult.
A wizard as smart as Voldemort would be aware that Horcruxes can be destroyed, especially when a man has many enemies. For someone as obsessed with ensuring his immortality as You-Know-Who, at some point he’d realize that he’d need a backup. Perhaps Voldemort was looking for fail-proof magic beyond the Horcrux, insight he did not understand, powers that would guarantee him eternal life even if his Horcruxes failed.

It is possible that Voldemort’s final quest, past the knowledge of creating Horcruxes, even past the most powerful number to ensure success, was that elusive final element. He sought that indefinable seventh power which made the whole Eye complete, the alchemical intuition in Golpalott’s Third Law–he sought quintessence.

Voldemort believed, because of Lily’s work in that locked room in the Department of Mysteries, because of her skill as an Unspeakable, that Lily had the knowledge, the final piece he needed to ensure his immortality, and for it, he was willing to spare her life. But she refused. She refused him the knowledge, because to give in to him would completely contradict the source of her knowledge.

“There is a room in the Department of Mysteries,” interrupted Dumbledore, “that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all.”[56]

For that final protection, the final safeguard for which Voldemort was so vainly searching, the quintessence was, yes, you guessed it…love. Pure and simple. Pure as a mother’s love laid down in simple, yet enduring, sacrifice. In love we are immortalized, because it is through those who love us that we will live forever. Without love, one is already dead.

Those who have never loved, have never truly lived. What Lily understood so instinctively, and what she passed on to her son, was the ability to love, a “magic” of which Voldemort knows not.

Voldemort could never claim the healing, whole properties of love, because he was never loved or loved others. And so, not only will he die without benefit of that final element, the loving protection of the Eye of Horus, he will remain The-Man-Who-Never-Truly-Lived.

“I know!” said Harry impatiently. “I can love!” It was only with difficulty that he stopped himself adding, “Big deal!”…
“So, when the prophecy says that I’ll have ‘power the Dark Lord knows not’, it just means–love?” asked Harry, feeling a little let down.
“Yes–just love,” said Dumbledore.

When Harry questioned, scornfully, that the greatest power behind that locked door was love, that the power he possessed which Voldemort knew not was merely love, he echoed many readers’ doubts. Surely there’s something better, something stronger, something more complex that will defeat the most powerful Dark wizard in a hundred years. But, via Dumbledore, JKR answers simply, no.

Harry has not yet perfected his own ability to love. He must look at Snape with new eyes, past Snape’s imperfections, which really are quite nasty, to a person who, for better or for worse, has chosen the side of the Order. When Harry can join forces with a man he despises (who also possesses the knowledge and skills needed to aid Harry in destroying the Horcruxes), only then will his love be strong enough to vanquish the Dark Lord. At the end of HBP, the biggest thing standing in Harry’s way is not the Half-Blood Prince, but Harry himself, his hatred of Snape.

Only when Harry can forgive Snape will his power of love be strong enough to vanquish the darkest wizard who never lived.


What Happened at Godric’’s Hollow, my best guess:

  • Voldemort arrives at Godric’s Hollow.
  • The Fidelius Charm is broken, either by the fact that the secret was revealed in bad faith, or that Lily, the caster, withdrew it.
  • James sends Lily to get Harry and tries to stop Voldemort.
  • James puts up a good fight (which slows Voldemort down) but is killed.
  • Lily runs for Harry, who is in his crib, sending her Patronus SOS to the Order.
  • Frank Longbottom arrives in answer to Lily’s Patronus.
  • Snape, who’s been following Voldemort, throws off the invisibility cloak and appears to be pursuing Frank.
  • Snape asks Voldemort to spare Lily’s life, on the grounds that with her skills or knowledge of the Department of Mysteries she can be of benefit to Voldy.
  • Frank cries foul and battles Snape, while Lily battles with Voldemort.
  • In the course of the battle, Voldemort offers Lily her chance to work for him, which she rejects.
  • Voldemort Avada Kedavras Harry, Lily throws herself in front of her son and is killed. The curse rebounds off Harry and destroys Voldemort.
  • Snape petrifies Frank, immobilizing the Auror basically as Dumbledore did to Harry–making him an eyewitness but unable to participate.
  • Snape heals baby Harry’s wounds and seeks to hide evidence from the Death Eaters.
  • Snape’s show of loyalty to Dumbledore brings Fawkes, who, able to carry immensely heavy loads, carries the injured/immobilized Frank to Dumbledore.
  • Snape borrows James’ invisibility cloak in order to trail Vapormort (possibly).
  • At some point in the next few hours/days, Frank is attacked, Crucio’d into insanity, and his memory lost to others.

Note: This chain of events is a memory we could possibly see from Dumbledore’s point of view, as we saw Trelawney’s giving the prophecy. Dumbledore may not have had time to bottle the memory from Frank that Halloween night, but could have, in reflection years later, safeguarded his own memory of Frank’s initial report. We’ve seen evidence of Dumbledore bottling his own key memories as the last memory presented to Harry, the one of Voldemort returning to ask for a position, was in a bottle when Harry arrived.

Or the memory could be presented from Snape’s point of view. JKR said that Snape had given Dumbledore his story and Dumbledore had believed it.[58] “Given him his story” could also mean given him his memory. Just the act of giving this memory would have been a huge show of loyalty because it helped the Order so much. Snape would have been one of the few who truly knew that Voldy was alive somewhere in the world.

Personally, I still believe the strongest point of view to present the memory from, and therefore the most likely, is Frank Longbottom’s. From Dumbledore’s POV we would only see Frank’s report, not the actual action. And from Snape’s there’d be that element of distrust, the possibility that Snape could have tampered with his memory, but more adeptly than Slughorn. Thus, if this memory exists, I believe we will see it from Frank Longbottom’s POV.

One last question to ask: If Dumbledore possessed such a memory, why keep it secret? I think the answer has several parts:

  1. Dumbledore is feeling his way through these questions regarding the Horcruxes as well. He is not a god. He is putting his facts together, swishing his Pensieve, and learning along with us in HBP as never before. Perhaps Dumbledore did not fully understand what this final memory contained either.
  2. Dumbledore never wanted it to get out among the other Death Eaters that Snape was at Godric’s Hollow when Voldemort was destroyed, thereby putting Snape’s cover/life at risk. Remember, too, that it took Harry a very long time to obtain Slughorn’s real memory. By the time Harry obtained it, there was very little time left.
  3. The only thing I can imagine worse than watching your parents die, is living with that memory, replayed endlessly in your mind. I believe that Dumbledore, in his great love for Harry, spared him this agonizing, torturous memory until he absolutely had to, and until he felt like Harry was ready. Unfortunately, Dumbledore’s end came before this revelation. After Harry’s able to sort through the anguish the memory entails, he’ll find a key clue to what occurred that night, one that will be the final clue he needs to defeat the Dark Lord.
  4. One last possibility for Dumbledore withholding this memory could be that it revealed elements about the final Horcrux which Dumbledore felt Harry was not yet prepared to accept.

A Summary of Memories:

Christmas Break

Groupings Who’s Memory Scene/Action Purpose Date**
1 Bob Ogden, Department of Magical Law Enforcement Visit to Gaunt family hovel to notify Morfin of his upcoming hearing To see Voldemort’s parents, the situation of his birth, the two Horcruxes (Slytherin locket and Peverell ring) 1925
2a Caractacus Burke, co-founder of Borgin and Burkes Buying the locket off Merope To see the locket ended up at Borgin and Burkes and how bad off Merope had become 1926
2b Dumbledore Visit to Tom Riddle at the orphanage To see how he terrorized other children, scorned death, his penchant for secrets and privacy, and collected trophies, among other traits of his personality 1938
3a Morfin Gaunt Morfin’s encounter with Tom Riddle To see how Tom came into possession of the ring, apparently murdered his family and neatly placed blame on his uncle; also Dumbledore’s skill at obtaining difficult memories 1943
3b Slughorn’s tampered memory In Slughorn’s office with Tom Riddle and friends To show Tom Riddle with Marvolo’s ring; to start the thread on Horcrux, giving Harry, Hermione, and Ron time to investigate it and see how almost nothing is written or known about Horcruxes 1943
4a Hokey Don’t know Voldemort’s obsession with collecting remnants of the Hogwarts Founding Four; how he obtained Slytherin’s locket and another possible Horcrux (Hufflepuff’s cup) 1947
4b Dumbledore (ten years after Hokey’s) Voldemort requesting a position at Hogwarts Voldy’s interest in Hogwarts as a place to find or place more Horcruxes (which will give Harry a reason for returning there inDeathly Hallows); to explain how the position of DADA instructor got cursed, and to show Voldemort appearing less human, meaning he’s already formed several Horcruxes. 1957
5 Slughorn’s correct memory In his office with Tom Riddle and friends To show the magical #7; also discussion afterward revealing Horcruxes used as a weapon as well as a safeguard 1943

**These dates supplied from the Harry Potter Lexicon’s timeline
Dumbledore’’s Ladder:

JKR is well known for her wordplay. Who can forget the famous anagram inPhilosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone that transformed “Tom Marvolo Riddle” to “I am Lord Voldemort”? And who wouldn’t put it past the queen of homophones and alliteration to try to slide another one by us? With her adept use of portmanteaus (words formed by the blending of two other words) she has been compared to Lewis Carroll.

One word game Lewis Carroll created was the “word ladder,” in which you start with one word, and by successively changing one letter at a time, keep forming new words. For example, you can turn a hat into a jar just so: hat – bat – bar – jar.

What would this have to do with Harry Potter? I may be totally off-base here, but I’ve always felt JKR was trying to give us a key clue in the dream Harry has after Dumbledore’s death:

…his dreams were thick with cups, lockets and mysterious objects that he could not quite reach, though Dumbledore helpfully offered Harry a rope ladder that turned to snakes the moment he began to climb…[59]

This dream feels so strongly like Dumbledore is trying to offer Harry one last bit of help from beyond the grave. And that dangling ladder just screams “clue.” What if the rope ladder is actually a word ladder we are to climb to get one more hint? And what if JKR already gave us a start and the first rung with the snake imagery? The snake that is uppermost in Harry’s mind at this moment, is Snape. Thus, the word ladder could possibly go somewhat like this:



The clue then would be that to find out something about Snape, look in or beyond the grave. Quite an appropriate hint for a run-up to a book named Deathly Hallows, don’t you think?

Whose grave should Harry consider? Well, my guess would be either Harry’s parents’, Voldemort’s (if one exists for his former body), or the Deathly Hallows as the land of the Underworld itself.

To take this discussion a bit deeper, the ladder was an amulet in ancient Egypt which represented the journey, or portal, between the land of the living and the land of the dead.[60] The amulet was placed inside the mummy “to enable the departed to travel quickly to the regions of the blest.”[61] Horus stood on the living end of this ladder and Ra on the other.

Furthermore, another amulet of two fingers is associated with the ladder. The two fingers was symbolic of “help, assistance, and benediction, typified by the two fingers extended by Horus to assist his father in mounting the ladder suspended between this world and the next.”[62] We’ve seen those two fingers before, on the remaining good hand Dumbledore was willing to bet.

Could Harry’s dream provide a key clue to the next book, Deathly Hallows? Will Harry climb that ladder and journey through the land of the dead? I believe so, but to explore so fully will be the topic of my next editorial.

    • Just as I don’t think we’d ever see a direct reference to Isis, Horus, or the Eye of Horus in Harry Potter, neither do I believe a word ladder such as the one above would appear. It’s not like the Tom Riddle anagram. Clues like this I believe are planted as subtext, to keep the reader entertained and following the trail of clues. I wonder how many other word ladders can be made out of Snape or snake?
    • For readers interested in learning more about JKR’s complex use of wordplay, check out Wizarding World Press’ Ultimate Unofficial Guides to the Mysteries of Harry Potter. Galadriel Waters and her HP Sleuths are on the trail of quite a few.
    • Egyptian Mythology is a complex subject as the myths and beliefs were developed and changed over thousands of years. Most of the myths and legends exist in multiple forms. What I have presented here are versions of stories that relate directly to Harry Potter.
    • Text bolded in quotes are mine to highlight items of interest.
    • One last fun clue: Remember how Fawkes healed Harry’s basilisk bite through his tears? Well, the “tears of Horus” was another term for the Elixir of Life, considered to have magical, healing powers as well.[63]

About the author: S.P. Sipal is a professional writer who also happens to be a Harry Potter fanatic. One of the authors published in the Mugglenet/Wizarding World Press fanbook, The Plot Thickens, her essays included “Chamber of Thoth” and “Geomancy and Alchemy Gems in Harry Potter.” She will be presenting a workshop, “Writing with Magic (for Muggles),” online in March and in April at the Jambalaya Writers Conference at Nicholls University in Louisiana. You can reach her through the comment trail, her website at, or e-mail at spsipal at yahoo dot com.


[1] Dumbledore, HBP, p. 412 Bloomsbury, p. 440 Scholastic



[4] HBP, p. 78 Bloomsbury, p. 78 Scholastic


[6] POA, p. 240 Scholastic

[7] SS, p. 83 Scholastic

[8] HBP, p. 62 Bloomsbury, p. 60 Scholastic

[9] HBP, p. 472 Bloomsbury, p. 505 Scholastic

[10] SS, p. 294 Scholastic


[12] GoF, p. 594-595 Scholastic

[13] GoF, p. 590 Scholastic

[14] GoF, p. 592 Scholastic

[15] Prof. McGonagall, SS, p. 12 Scholastic

[16] HBP, p. 340 Bloomsbury, p. 363 Scholastic

[17] HBP, p. 344 Bloomsbury, p. 367 Scholastic

[18] HBP, p. 513 Bloomsbury, p. 549 Scholastic

[19] GoF, p. 591 Scholastic

[20] HBP, p. 243 Bloomsbury, p. 259 Scholastic

[21] POA, see p. 204 Scholastic

[22] HBP, p. 513 Bloomsbury, p. 549 Scholastic

[23] HBP, p. 344 Bloomsbury, p. 367-368 Scholastic

[24] 9/13/06

[25] HBP, p. 187 Bloomsbury, p. 197 Scholastic

[26] SS, p. 294 Scholastic





[31] SS, p. 298 Scholastic



[34] SS, p. 29 Scholastic


[36] and



[39] HBP, p. 489 Bloomsbury, p. 523 Scholastic


[41] SS, p. 15 Scholastic



[44] CoS, p. 328 Scholastic


[46] and

[47] HBP, p. 351-352 Bloomsbury, p. 374-375 Scholastic



[50] p. 20, The Cross: Its History and Symbolism; George Willard Benson, Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2005.

[51] HBP, p. 104 Bloomsbury, p. 106 Scholastic

[52] HBP, p. 474 Bloomsbury, p. 508 Scholastic

[53] PoA, p. 50 Scholastic

[54] OotP, p. 724 Bloomsbury, p. 821-822 Scholastic

[55] OotP, p. 108 Bloomsbury, p. 116 Scholastic

[56] OotP, p. 743 Bloomsbury, p. 843-844 Scholastic

[57] HBP, p. 476 Bloomsbury, p. 509 Scholastic


[59] HBP, p. 593 Bloomsbury, p. 636 Scholastic