He Who Must Not Be Named
By Sloan de Forest
Greater and More Terrible
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sibyll Trelawney prophesies (in one of her two authentic predictions) that Wormtail will help Voldemort return to power: “The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant’s aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was.”13 The centaur Firenze also warns of an impending battle written in the heavens, stating that wizardkind is merely experiencing “a brief calm between two wars.”14 All indications point toward not only a battle between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, as we’ve seen previously in the books, but a massive war even more horrific than the one Voldemort initiated the first time around.
Since returning to his full strength, Voldemort has been lying low— plotting, recruiting an army, and preparing a battle plan. Sure, there have been incidents of violence here and there that have made the Muggle news: the murder of Amelia Bones from the Ministry, the mysterious death of Order member Emmeline Vance, dementors breeding around London and a rampage of angry giants made to look like a hurricane, to name a few. However, a full-on war has not yet begun. Breaking his faithful followers out of Azkaban was a good start, but in the words of Sirius Black, “He’s certainly not going to try and take on the Ministry of Magic with only a dozen Death Eaters.”15 No, our red-eyed villain has been acquiring large numbers of witches and wizards, dementors, giants, werewolves, Inferi, and who knows what other motley assortment of Dark creatures willing to do his bidding. His troops have been growing for the past two years, so they could number in the thousands by now.
Voldemort’s first plan after his rebirth was to exploit the “magical window” he and Harry share by tricking Harry into retrieving the prophecy so he, Voldemort, could be strengthened with the knowledge of its entire contents. That plan only resulted in the destruction of the prophecy and the death of Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black. Voldemort then resorted to possessing Harry’s body with the hope that Dumbledore would actually kill Harry Potter— no such luck on that one. The next item on the agenda was to murder Albus Dumbledore, the only wizard he ever feared.16 This execution may not have been carried out exactly as the Dark Lord planned, but the end result was the same: Dumbledore is gone. There is nothing preventing Voldemort from waging an all-out attack on not only his known wizard enemies and Muggle-borns, but on all the Muggles of Britain and eventually the world.
Up until now, we have only overheard vague whispers of how “terrible things happened”17 the first time Voldemort took over. If he will rise more terrible than ever before being defeated, in the final book we will witness the terror first-hand. The giants he has recruited, so vicious they not only kill Muggles and wizards indiscriminately but will even kill each other if left alone together, are likely to be bloodthirsty and ready to murder by now. The dementors who have fled Azkaban to join Voldemort can be fended off with advanced magic, but in great numbers they still pose a severe threat to both wizards and Muggles. To be kissed by a dementor sucks the soul from the body, leaving only an empty shell—a fate worse than death. The Dark Lord has werewolves in his service too, and if Fenrir Greyback is any indication, we will see them leave a trail of mutilated, maimed and cursed werewolves and half-eaten corpses in their paths. Voldemort has already “threatened to unleash [Greyback] upon people’s sons and daughters,” 18 so we can guess that even young children won’t be safe. Voldemort has a lot of havoc to wreak, but he has to start someplace.
One Final Trophy
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is more than just a school. It is a vast and ancient castle tucked away securely from the Muggle world and filled to the brim with magic. More importantly, it is the only place Tom Riddle ever considered a home, being more attached to it “than he has ever been to a person.”19 The odds favor Voldemort returning to his beloved Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows, perhaps even taking it over for his very own. Tom Riddle has always been a collector of trophies and meaningful memorabilia, and Dumbledore believes that he chose his Horcrux objects with great consideration for their sentimental value. What grander addition to his personal collection than Hogwarts itself?
Harry Potter may not even be there when and if the school reopens, but Hogwarts has other benefits for Voldemort that have nothing to do with getting to Potter. Tom Riddle wanted to remain at Hogwarts after graduation to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, but was rejected first by Headmaster Dippet, then later by Dumbledore himself. Voldemort does not like to be told “no” by anyone; though he probably abandoned any desire to teach at Hogwarts years ago, he might want to take over the school just to have the final word in the matter. In the first book, Hagrid gives us a hint that Voldemort may have his sights set on acquiring Hogwarts by force. When explaining to Harry about You-Know-Who’s first reign of power, he says Voldemort “didn’t dare try takin’ the school, not jus’ then, anyway”20 — not while Dumbledore was still the headmaster. The idea seems to have occurred to him, but he may have been waiting all these years for the opportune moment to act. The Sorting Hat also provides some grim harbingers of doom with its new song in Harry’s fifth year.
Oh, know the perils, read the signs,
The warning history shows,
For our Hogwarts is in danger
From external, deadly foes 21
Voldemort and his army could certainly be described as deadly foes, but what will they do at Hogwarts if they take it over? Will they attack students and staff alike, ruthlessly kill whoever stands in their way and use the castle as a base of operations, or will they attempt to hold the students hostage with the Imperius curse so that Voldemort will have an impressionable crew of young minds ready to be brainwashed? To be a leader requires an ever-growing cadre of new followers. Or perhaps he wants to be in control of the fates of hundreds of children as a way of avenging his own miserable childhood. After all, he tried to control the other orphans at the orphanage, but could only do so much back then. If he takes over Hogwarts, he would have his own version of an orphanage with himself as the supreme ruler commanding their total obedience.
Another lure for Voldemort would be the Chamber of Secrets, built so many years ago by his favorite ancestor Salazar Slytherin. One of the high points of Voldemort’s life must have been discovering the entrance and opening the chamber for the first time, thereby having his fate sealed and his destiny for greatness confirmed in his eyes. Furthermore, the name of the large underground vault suggests that it may house more than one Dark secret waiting to be discovered.
Potter Belongs to the Dark Lord
Whether Voldemort and his cronies strike Hogwarts first, invade the Ministry of Magic, or set a hundred dementors loose at Bill and Fleur’s wedding, one thing is for sure: Voldemort’s main goal in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be to kill the Potter brat. He keeps trying and failing, becoming more frustrated and determined with each attempt. Since that first fateful incident, Voldemort has tried trickery, bribery, possession, and a face-to-face duel to rid himself of The Chosen One to no avail, so what will he try next? It seems his lack of an attempt on the life of our hero in the sixth book was the eerie, quiet calm before the storm. Harry will come of age officially in July and the magical protection Dumbledore placed around him “will cease to operate the moment that Harry turns seventeen.”22 In other words, all bets will be off. Is Voldemort waiting for that moment to strike?
The Dark Lord will certainly take on Harry himself. He has sent others to do the job before and he seems to be itching to get the thing done himself and make sure it’s done right. He already knows his wand will not be able to harm Harry if Harry uses his wand at the same time, though he may not know exactly why. Ollivander is missing, so it’s possible Voldemort may have pried the truth from the wandmaker; the secret that his and Harry’s wands are “brothers”— the only two in existence containing a feather from Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes. The Dark Lord may even have found a way to use this knowledge to his advantage by now. If not, he will need another method of destroying Dumbledore’s Man.
He might try to set Nagini on Harry, but this would be a risky move. Nagini is a snake, and Lord Voldemort is not the only boy in town who can talk to snakes. Since Harry is a Parselmouth too, might he have some sway over Voldemort’s familiar? This may be a key question to ask, considering the first piece of magic we ever see Harry perform involves communicating with a python. Snakes have long been thought to symbolize immortality, such as the nagas—female Hindu demigods who take the form of large snakes. Could this legend hold a clue that Nagini is a particularly powerful horcrux? If so, Harry’s ability to speak to her might serve as another factor in the Dark Lord’s defeat.
Another scenario involves You-Know-Who trying to exploit his and Harry’s mind connection again with Legilimency, but even a psychopathic creature of habit like Voldemort would be loath to try a plan that failed to work before and that Harry has obviously caught on to. The most likely scenario is that Lord Voldemort will want to dispose of his nemesis quickly, publicly, and by any means that will ensure his complete demise. He used Harry’s blood to be reborn, so he must believe it gives him a special protection against his enemy. He not only created six different Horcruxes, but hid them all carefully with elaborate magical traps. He knows that one is gone, the diary, but most likely believes the other fragments of his soul to be safe. Dumbledore has destroyed the Gaunt family ring, so there are only four left at this time. The Dark Lord’s ego and delusions of grandeur will lead him to boldly crave an audience for the final showdown; his confidence that he will be victorious will lead him to underestimate his opponent once again. What he may not guess is that Harry has a few tricks up his sleeve.