Two Voldemorts Are Better Than One
In my last essay, I discussed the plans that Lucius Malfoy and Tom Riddle were cooking up in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Note that in all that discussion, we did not address one important outcome: the resurrection of Tom Riddle.
But there isn’t much life left in [Ginny]… She put too much into the diary, into me. Enough to let me leave its pages at last.” (CoS 313)
This became a moot point when Harry got all stabby with a basilisk fang, but the teenaged Tom Riddle captured readers’ imaginations. It got to the point where Jo addressed it on her website, prior to the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
In ‘Chamber of Secrets’, what would have happened if Ginny had died and Tom Riddle had escaped the diary?
I can’t answer that fully until all seven books are finished, but it would have strengthened the present-day Voldemort considerably.
To my great chagrin, Jo never followed up on this. And I did not see much chatter about it after the books were completed, even though finding out the diary was a Horcrux does not seem to have answered this question satisfactorily. (The best I found was a whack at it by an editorialist named Peter, shortly after Half-Blood Prince was published.)
We are not given any indication that Riddle regaining his corporeal form was in any way part of his original plot. For starters, that’s not how Horcruxes are supposed to work – they keep you alive; they don’t regenerate bodies. If that were an obvious option on the table, Voldemort would have utilized it as such. “Hey, Lucius, if ever I appear to have died, please give this book to a vulnerable young witch or wizard!”
I also think we can rule out the possibility that the newly corporeal Tom Riddle would have fused with Vapormort to create an even more powerful bit of Voldy-soul than before.
‘Isn’t there any way of putting yourself back together?’ Ron asked.
‘Yes,’ said Hermione with a hollow smile, ‘but it would be excruciatingly painful.’
‘Why? How do you do it?’ asked Harry.
‘Remorse,’ said Hermione. ‘You’ve got to really feel what you’ve done. There’s a footnote. Apparently, the pain of it can destroy you. I can’t see Voldemort attempting it somehow, can you?’ (DH 103)
I’m with Hermione on this – neither Tom Riddle nor Vapormort would exhibit remorse sufficient to put their souls back together. In particular, I can’t see Tom Riddle attempting it. The Tom Riddle we see has all the arrogance of youth heaped onto Voldemort’s innate arrogance – he has not yet been humbled by Dumbledore, he has not experienced the excruciating pain of the rebounding Killing Curse, he has not lived a decade as “less than the meanest ghost” (GoF 653). Remorse is off the table.
So what would the fully corporeal Tom Riddle do once Ginny had died? Specifically, what would he do in relation to Vapormort? A fascinating question! I can think of three possibilities but welcome the commenters to offer up their own suggestions!
First, Tom Riddle could have allowed Vapormort to possess him, as the closest thing to them fusing into one. It really depends on how independent of each other mentally Tom Riddle and Vapormort are – if they are cognizant of the fact that they are one and the same, then perhaps Tom Riddle would have been willing to do this. Vapormort’s prodigious skills and half a century of magical knowledge would be a great boon to Tom Riddle. And thanks to the Horcruxes, Tom Riddle wouldn’t have to worry about the possession of Vapormort killing him. This two-faced Voldy approach is very creepy to think about but seems like the “happiest ending” for those two crazy soul bits.
Second, Tom Riddle and Vapormort could have an antagonistic relationship. It’s easy to see Tom Riddle showing contempt for Vapormort. Perhaps he disdains how Vapormort squandered all the hard work and potential Riddle built up. Perhaps, especially if subscribing to the “soul cut in half each time” theory of multiple Horcruxes, he considers Vapormort – about 1% of the original soul – to be a negligible part of himself. Or perhaps he thinks that with Vapormort, it just makes sense to cut his losses.
Point is, if Tom Riddle is unimpressed with his future self, I think the solution for him would be obvious: Turn Vapormort into a Horcrux! With Tom Riddle as the new main Voldemort, he would view Vapormort as totally extraneous, just as Vapormort views the other soul bits: merely something to be used. The best thing for Riddle would be to encase Vapormort in a very glamorous historical artifact, put lots of magical protection around it, and go about his business as Voldemort secure in the knowledge of an additional Horcrux serving to protect him.
But suppose we look for a solution between the two extremes, where Tom Riddle feels no duty to merge with Vapormort but has enough consideration for his future self to help out. Maybe he even thinks that having two Voldemorts running around simultaneously would be a useful thing – two heads are better than one!
Here, I will issue the disclaimer I always do when going into Voldemort’s resurrection: This is not for the faint of heart or faint of stomach! If you wish to avoid the ick factor, stop now or forever hold your peace. Yes, we are delving back into the Nagini/Voldemort thing. Whee!
Tom Riddle would be the able-bodied helper Vapormort needed to transform into Babymort – presumably, Tom Riddle could do just as good a job as Wormtail did, if not better, given his familiarity with the subject. Also, picture Tom Riddle with Babymort in his arms, feeding him with a baby bottle of venom. Adorable? Repulsive? Both? You decide!
But you know where this is going: Babymort needs a biological father. In the actual timeline, I surmise that it was Pettigrew. In this timeline, Babymort’s biological father would be his teenage self. *pauses for readers to projectile vomit all over the screen* So now in addition to the million other disturbing things about this, there’s an incest factor, since Voldemort would be his own father!
This works whether you believe Bertha Jorkins or Nagini was the biological mother of Babymort. If we’re going with Bertha Jorkins, that means Riddle and Vapormort would have needed any old witch for the process. Given Tom Riddle’s often-remarked-upon good looks, and the fact that no witch of childbearing years would recognize him, he would actually have a much easier time of it than Wormtail did.
If the biological mother was Nagini, then it works out even better. Tom Riddle would have surely enjoyed the – ahem – conception process with a giant snake more than Pettigrew did. *shudders*
Whew. Well, that was an innocent question that took more and more disturbing turns as we went on – perhaps that’s why Jo did not address this question in the last 14 years! What do you think would have happened if Tom Riddle had regained corporeal form in Chamber of Secrets? How would he and Vapormort have gotten on? And is there any chance the good guys would have still triumphed? Fanfic writers, start your pens!