The Curious Case of Voldemort’s Missing Body

More than a few strange things happened that fateful October night when James and Lily Potter were murdered in Godric’s Hollow. We all know that little Harry Potter became the first, and so far only, wizard to ever survive a killing curse. We also know that Lord Voldemort unintentionally transformed Harry into one of his Horcruxes. Furthermore, we know that Voldemort survived that night because of the existing Horcruxes he had already created. But what we still don’t know is what in the wizarding world happened to Voldemort’s body after he was “ripped” from it that night.

To help us solve this case, let’s review a couple of crucial facts that we do know about the extraordinary happenings of October 31, 1981.

  1. When the curse rebounded on Voldemort, he was torn from his body. This is important because it tells us that he did, in fact, have a physical body and that something must have happened to it after it was separated from that fragment of Voldemort’s soul.
  2. After the attack, both Sirius Black and Rubeus Hagrid can be placed at the scene of the attack.
  3. Neither Sirius nor Hagrid ever mention having seen Voldemort’s body at the Potters’ home.

I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost… but still, I was alive.

There are a few key pieces of information about that night that we do not know, which are going to make solving this case difficult for us, including the following:

  1. We do not know if any of the Death Eaters accompanied Lord Voldemort that night.
  2. We do not know if Albus Dumbledore or a member of the Ministry of Magic visited the scene of the crime after the attack.
  3. We do not know if ripping his soul into so many pieces caused Voldemort’s physical body to become something other than a normal witch or wizard’s body.

Let’s examine a few possibilities, along with the arguments for and against them, to help us determine what most likely happened to Voldemort’s original body.

  1. The Death Eaters took Voldemort’s body from the Potters’ house after the attack. I feel it is very unlikely that Voldemort actually had any of his Death Eaters with him the night he attacked the Potters, simply because none of them ever mention it. The Death Eaters all tend to boast about the rare moments when they felt that Voldemort had demonstrated that he trusted them over his other followers. This is not something they would have neglected to mention. I also feel that it is unlikely that any of the Death Eaters would have gone to collect Voldemort’s body after the fact. From what we see of the Death Eaters throughout the series, it is apparent that most of them wanted to distance themselves entirely from Voldemort after his death. Many went so far as to falsely claim that they had been Imperiused into doing his bidding. These Death Eaters would not have wanted to go to the scene of the attack in case Ministry Officials arrived to investigate. They would have been more concerned with protecting their own skins in that moment than anything else. There is also no evidence to the fact that any of the Death Eaters went to the Potters’ house after the attack that night. Neither Sirius nor Hagrid ever reported having seen them there. And knowing Sirius, he wouldn’t have let them leave without one heck of a fight.
  2. The Ministry of Magic dispatched wizards to collect and dispose of Voldemort’s body. Of the theories I am going to present, I feel that this one is the least likely for the simple reason that if the Ministry had had Voldemort’s body, they would have wanted to share that with the larger wizarding community. Throughout the series, the Ministry repeatedly takes the steps they feel are necessary to ensure that the witches and wizards under their governance feel safe, even when they actually are not. Showing the wizarding world that they had Voldemort’s body would have proved that he was dead, and it would certainly have increased feelings of safety throughout the magical community.
  3. Voldemort’s body simply vanished. There is significant evidence, particularly in HBP, that as Voldemort continued splitting his soul in pieces, his physical body began changing as well. His skin became more translucent. His eyes began to turn red in color. He became less human physically as well as spiritually. Perhaps he was so physically transformed that when the killing curse rebounded on him, his body simply vanished. Perhaps, like Francis the fish, he was there one minute and then “poof!” The greatest evidence against this theory is, however, that Voldemort’s second body does not simply vanish. I know it does in the movie, but that isn’t what we’re discussing here. In the books, Voldemort’s body does not disappear or turn to ash. It remains in a solid, physical state. There is no reason to believe that Voldemort’s second body was any more physically real than his first body was. If anything there is less reason to believe that that was the case since his second body was simply created from a spell.
  4. Albus Dumbledore collected and disposed of Voldemort’s body himself. Dumbledore always believed that Voldemort was not really gone. He knew that Voldemort would rise again, and he certainly did not keep that knowledge to himself. Dumbledore would not have wanted the larger wizarding world to believe that Voldemort was dead. He would have wanted Voldemort’s disappearance to be surrounded by mystery. He would want people to assume that since there was no body, then Voldemort wasn’t truly dead. That way there would always be some who believed, like he did, that Voldemort would return. Those believers would ultimately be more prepared when Voldemort came back to power. Unlike the Ministry, Dumbledore didn’t want people to feel safe; he wanted to actually help them be safe by keeping them wise to the dangers threatening their world. Dumbledore clearly would have had the motivation to hide Voldemort’s body, but would he have had the opportunity? Throughout the books, we come to see that Dumbledore is so well informed of the events in the wizarding world, he is practically omniscient. I would bet my last Galleon that Dumbledore was the first to know about the attack on the Potters and that it was he who told Sirius Black, who as far as we know, was the first person on the scene. Also, have you ever wondered why Dumbledore would have sent Hagrid to collect Harry from the Potters’ house instead of doing it himself? Well, perhaps the answer to that question is that he was busy disposing of a body.

Now, let us come to a conclusion.

After examining the evidence, it is, in my opinion, obvious that Albus Dumbledore did in fact collect and dispose of Voldemort’s first body. He would have had both the opportunity and the motivation. I believe the fact that he did not collect Harry himself is evidence to the fact that he did exactly that. Whether or not he trusted Hagrid with his life, Dumbledore certainly would have rescued Harry from the Potters’ house that night if he had not been doing what he thought would go further in keeping the larger wizarding world safe. The Death Eaters were still at large at that time, so Harry was still very much in danger. Above anyone, Dumbledore would have realized this, and as we see evidenced in DH, the only way Dumbledore was ever willing to put Harry at risk was if doing so was “for the greater good.”

Tell me what you think! Do you agree that Dumbledore got rid of Voldy’s body? Do you think one of my other theories is more likely? Or do you have other theories of your own? Let me know!

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