Vessels of Evil
By Donna Hosie
Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup
As previously stated, this cup was taken from an elderly witch called Hepzibah Smith. Now Smith is an extremely common surname in Britain and therefore any connection to another witch or wizard with that name is a little tenuous, (remember the mention of Mark Evans and the theorists linking him to Lily?—Jo joked on her website about having to flee the country after that incident!).9 However, in order to track down these Horcruxes, we need to explore as many of these links as possible.
In Harry’s year at school is a Hufflepuff boy by the name of Zacharias Smith. He is a reluctant member of the D.A. (Dumbledore’s Army), in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and manages to upset Ron, Fred and George during their first meeting in the Hog’s Head. Now the surname Smith could be a coincidence, but these are witches and wizards we are talking about and the gene pool is very small. It is entirely plausible that Zacharias is a relative of Hepzibah and therefore knows about the cup.
The location of the Horcruxes is vital and it is worth revisiting here what Jo has previously said about the four founders being linked to the elements.
It is the tradition to have four houses, but in this case, I wanted them to correspond roughly to the four elements. So Gryffindor is fire, Ravenclaw is air, Hufflepuff is earth, and Slytherin is water, hence the fact that their common room is under the lake. So again, it was this idea of harmony and balance, that you had four necessary components and by integrating them you would make a very strong place. But they remain fragmented, as we know.10
Jo’s use of language is usually deliberate and it is telling she used the word “fragmented” with regard to the Houses. A Horcrux is a fragment of soul. Could the location of the Horcruxes relate to its corresponding element? For example, the locket which belonged to Salazar Slytherin had been hidden in a cave by the sea. Harry and Dumbledore had to cross water to reach where they believed it was placed and it had even been hidden in a liquid. Helga Hufflepuff is related to earth and therefore, should we be looking to the earth for the location of the cup? There are a couple of locations that spring to mind. One is Gringotts Bank, located in Diagon Alley. The vaults there go deep underground and are allegedly guarded by dragons. Could Tom have hidden the cup in a vault or even deeper than the vaults? That lover of dragons, Hagrid, may yet get up close and personal with the animals he so longs for if this proves the case and Harry takes him along for help. Another possibility is Hogwarts itself. As we saw in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and also Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, there are chambers hidden deep under the castle—could Tom have hidden this little cup here?
This brings us to Nagini, Lord Voldemort’s faithful snake. Nagini is first introduced to us in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Her milk is used to feed Lord Voldemort before his re-birth, and they communicate with each other using Parseltongue, snake language. Dumbledore believes Nagini may have been used as a Horcrux because Lord Voldemort likes to keep her close and he has an unusual amount of control over her. The snake is also symbolic of the Slytherin connection.
If Nagini is indeed a Horcrux, how can Harry destroy her? To get close to Nagini would mean getting close to Lord Voldemort, so perhaps Harry is going to have to rely on someone who is already close? Perhaps someone like that treacherous little rat, Peter Pettigrew?
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry saves Pettigrew’s life and that creates a life debt. At some point, this life debt is going to have to be repaid and that will now almost certainly happen in Deathly Hallows. Pettigrew has a powerful silver hand; it can crush twigs into dust. Could this hand be Nagini’s, and ultimately Voldemort’s, downfall?
We have already seen Harry destroy one serpent, the basilisk, in the Chamber of Secrets book. To do this he used Gryffindor’s Sword. A relic of one Hogwarts founder being used to destroy the possible Horcrux of a descendent of another founder would be symbolic indeed and Harry would surely have no trouble getting back to Hogwarts to retrieve the sword, if that was what was needed. Indeed, the sword resides in the headmaster/headmistress’s office where the portrait of Albus Dumbledore now hangs. How Potter fans would dearly love another exchange between Harry and Dumbledore before this series ends.
An Item Belonging to Either Rowena Ravenclaw or Godric Gryffindor
Which brings us to the most ambiguous items in the Horcrux hunt—something that was owned by one of the two remaining Hogwarts founders, Godric Gryffindor or Rowena Ravenclaw. Rowena Ravenclaw is barely mentioned throughout these books, and certainly not in the way either Slytherin or Gryffindor are. As a result, there are few canon facts to go on when searching for that elusive possible Horcrux, so we have to look a little deeper.
One theory links the Horcruxes to the reading of the tarot cards. The four suits of tarot are Cups, Swords, Pentacles or Discs, and Wands or Rods. Matching that up with known founders’ relics would give us Cups for Hufflepuff, Swords for Gryffindor, Pentacles/Discs (the locket) for Slytherin, and Wands/Rods for Ravenclaw. If the relics of the four founders follow the tarot suits pattern, the important relic from Ravenclaw would be her wand.
But where on earth is Harry going to find the wand of a witch who existed over one thousand years ago? Well, let us think back to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the first time Harry went to buy his wand. As he drew close to the wand shop, he saw peeling, gold letters which read “Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.”11 He also saw in the shop window a single wand, which lay upon a faded purple cushion. Ollivander’s wand shop pre-dates the creation of Hogwarts by some years. Is it possible that a young witch called Rowena purchased her wand from Ollivanders, and after her demise, the wand went back to their possession? Again if we link the theory of the elements relating to the location of the Horcruxes, one could argue that this location represented Ravenclaw’s element of air, as the wand was in the open for all to see.
Ollivander has disappeared from Diagon Alley in Half-Blood Prince and his shop is boarded up. His whereabouts are unknown and so Harry does not know whether he disappeared of his own accord, or whether Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters got to him first. The best clue is the fact that there was no sign of a struggle and so one must hope that if this wand does turn out to be a Horcrux, then Ollivander will be able to help Harry retrieve it.
Wands are easily broken, as Ron Weasley could testify to after the unfortunate incident of crashing his father’s car into the Whomping Willow tree in Chamber of Secrets! However, if Ravenclaw’s wand is a Horcrux, will it take more than snapping it to destroy the Horcrux? The diary Horcrux was destroyed by stabbing it with a poisoned basilisk fang. Again, as the maker of fine wands, perhaps Ollivander knows how to “un-make” them?
Godric Gryffindor’s artifacts are a little easier to track down and we know of two of them; the Sorting Hat and his ruby-encrusted sword. Both of these are easy to trace as well, as they both reside in the headmaster/headmistress’s office in Hogwarts.
The Sorting Hat is used to place new Hogwarts students into their House: Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. It is used on the opening day of term and sings a song to the students. It has used this occasion to forewarn of danger and it is capable of holding conversations with students. In the Chamber of Secrets, it told Harry he “would have done well in Slytherin.”12 The Sorting Hat clearly has a mind of its own, and as Jo herself stated with regard to the rumor that the Sorting Hat is a Horcrux: “No, it isn’t. Horcruxes do not draw attention to themselves by singing songs in front of large audiences.”13 Hurrah, that is one object out of a million that Harry can actually discount!
With regard to the sword; this came to Harry’s aid in the Chamber of Secrets; he used it to destroy Salazar Slytherin’s basilisk. As Dumbledore later said, “Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat, Harry.”14 Tom Riddle, later to become Lord Voldemort, was not a true Gryffindor; he couldn’t be further away from that ideology if he tried! Tom is a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin and therefore a true Slytherin. One could even imagine the sword burning the hand of Tom if he tried to touch it. So again, although it is possible the sword is a Horcrux, it is unlikely.