In all of the previous books, Harry has faced the villain in the climax alone. The prophecy, which Voldemort believes in and is trying to fulfill to his benefit, states “neither can live while the other survives.” 1 In order to follow the pattern J.K. Rowling has established in the previous six books and to fulfill the prophecy, I believe Harry will battle Voldemort alone at the end of Book Seven. In order to transport Harry to the battle and to ensure he encounters Voldemort without the aid of Ron, Hermione, the Order, or Dumbledore’s Army, I believe Harry will find a Horcrux which also acts as a Portkey to transport him to Voldemort’s location. I believe the Portkey-Horcrux is Hufflepuff’s cup due to Rowling’s practice of recycling concepts and her previous employment of a two-handled cup as a transportation device.
Why Does Harry Need to Encounter Voldemort Alone?
In each of the previous books, Harry, Ron and Hermione all begin the journey together but the trio is whittled down to just Harry by the time he encounters and battles whomever or whatever must be faced in the climax of the book. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry does not fight Voldemort. Instead, he saves himself and Sirius from Dementors, fights the Death Eaters, and confronts Snape, respectively.
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry is forced to confront Quirrell and Voldemort alone because Ron is knocked out during the chess game and Hermione returns to get help following the Potions task.2 In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry faces Tom Riddle alone after Hermione is Petrified and Ron is waylaid by the cave-in resulting from Professor Lockhart’s failed Obliviate spell.3 In Goblet of Fire, Harry and Cedric touch the Triwizard Cup, transporting them to Voldemort’s location and after Cedric falls victim to the Avada Kedavra curse, Harry must fight Voldemort alone.4
J.K. Rowling stated on her website that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is essentially the first half of a story that culminates in Book Seven.5 Thus, I believe it is imperative to the storyline in Book Seven – and to be consistent with the prophecy Voldemort believes in – that Voldemort (alone) must kill Harry (alone) or vice versa. Ron and Hermione cannot and will not be present for the final battle between the two. What better way to isolate Harry and force him to battle Voldemort alone than to send him via Portkey to Voldemort’s side without the aid of his two companions?
Why a Portkey?
Dumbledore states over and over that Voldemort has “pride” and “belief in his own superiority.” 6 When Dumbledore and Harry look for the locket, the boat that carries them across the lake limits how much magical power can travel across, rather than how much weight or how many people.7 This was intended, I suspect, to increase the likelihood that anyone hunting Voldemort’s Horcruxes who was actually powerful enough and capable of destroying them and defeating Voldemort would have to do so alone. That would test the hunter’s powers and skill against those of Voldemort, who believes himself to be the most powerful wizard in the world. Voldemort hates to think he has anything in common with others,8 and he would want to prove his superiority one-on-one. What better way to ensure that the person holding the Horcrux acts alone than by transporting him or her to Voldemort’s side alone? Certainly the person would not be prepared to meet Voldemort face-to-face and duel. Anyone aiding the person who touches the Horcrux would have no idea where the transported person went and could not interfere, just as Dumbledore could not follow Harry and Cedric to the graveyard in Goblet of Fire. While Voldemort might be caught off-guard, I’m certain he would believe he could regain his composure before his opponent recovered from the shock of coming face-to-face with the most feared wizard of all time, and Voldemort could easily best that person in a duel.
I am sure Voldemort would not expect he would be reduced to a spirit and then a baby-like creature for so long when he created the Horcruxes. He thought he’d be invincible due to the existence of his remaining Horcruxes and could easily duel if he were confronted by someone arriving on his doorstep holding one of them. Before he killed the witch or wizard holding it, he could learn who found his secret Horcruxes and why the person was attempting to destroy or tamper with them. After all, it wouldn’t be very smart for Voldemort to leave his Horcruxes hidden for all those years and not have any way of knowing if they’re safe or if they have been destroyed. Many people have theorized that Voldemort told five different Death Eaters about one Horcrux apiece in order to protect his secret Horcruxes, but look what Lucius Malfoy did with his diary soul piece. By making one of the Horcruxes a Portkey, Voldemort could find out if someone is destroying or tampering with his Horcruxes and he can double-check the others to see which are left untouched. This is in line with Dumbledore’s statement to Harry that Voldemort does not really have friends or trust Death Eaters with his secret – the existence of, locations of, and protections surrounding all of his six Horcruxes.9 Unfortunately for Voldemort, if he searched for the Horcruxes after meeting the person holding the Portkey-Horcrux, he could find that several of the Horcruxes have been destroyed already.
Another clue that one of the Horcruxes might be a Portkey is this discussion between Dumbledore and Harry in Half-Blood Prince regarding what kinds of objects might be Horcruxes:
“And they could be anything?” said Harry. “They could be old tin cans, or, I dunno, empty potion bottles....”
“You are thinking of Portkeys, Harry, which must be ordinary objects, easy to overlook. But would Lord Voldemort use tin cans or old potion bottles to guard his own precious soul? You are forgetting what I have showed you. Lord Voldemort liked to collect trophies, and he preferred objects with a powerful magical history. His pride, his belief in his own superiority, his determination to carve for himself a startling place in magical history; these things suggest to me that Voldemort would have chosen his Horcruxes with some care, favoring objects worthy of the honor.”
[…] “So, the other Horcruxes?” said Harry. “Do you think you know what they are, sir?”
“I can only guess,” said Dumbledore. “For the reasons I have already given, I believe that Lord Voldemort would prefer objects that, in themselves, have a certain grandeur. I have therefore trawled back through Voldemort’s past to see if I can find evidence that such artifacts have disappeared around him.”
“The locket!” said Harry loudly. “Hufflepuff’s cup!” 10
Rowling chooses her words carefully. I think Harry is on to something when he suggests typical Portkey objects. But, as Dumbledore points out, Voldemort wants his Horcrux objects to be “worthy of the honor.” 11 However, Dumbledore doesn’t say that one of the “worthy” objects can’t also be a Portkey. While Dumbledore says Portkeys “must be ordinary objects, easy to overlook,” 12 the Triwizard Cup is the best example of a Portkey which is not in the least an ordinary object but is equally easy to overlook as a potential Portkey.
Among other protections, I believe Voldemort made one of the Horcruxes a Portkey designed to instantly transport anyone who touches it to Voldemort’s side, like the Triwizard Cup and somewhat like the Dark Mark branded on the Death Eaters. I find it interesting how the Dark Mark works. Harry is told over and over again in Apparition lessons that you must concentrate hard on your destination.13 If Death Eaters are to Apparate to Voldemort’s side when he touches the Dark Mark one of their arms, they must have some way of knowing where they’re headed, or the Dark Marks must instead act like Portkeys to a destination determined by Voldemort when he touches one of them.
Portkeys are reasonably easy to make and, unlike underage magic, apparently are not very well regulated by the Ministry. Fudge gets upset when Dumbledore creates a Portkey for Harry to use after the battle at the Ministry,14 but the Ministry doesn’t seem to find out about the one Dumbledore created for Harry and the Weasleys to take to number twelve Grimmauld Place right after Arthur was bitten by the snake.15 If Umbridge could have busted either Dumbledore or Harry for an illegal Portkey, I’m sure she would have done so. The point is that Voldemort could have made his Horcrux into a Portkey without the Ministry being aware of it.
A final reason one of the Horcruxes needs to be some kind of transport device (which I believe is a Portkey) is that J.K. Rowling needs a device to allow Harry find Voldemort for the final battle. There has to be some kind of face-off in the end so that Harry can destroy the last piece of soul still residing in Voldemort. The Portkey solves the problems of either having Voldemort choose the time and location by finding Harry for the final battle or Harry having to chase down Voldemort. Unlike Dumbledore, Harry has no spies telling him where Voldemort will be hiding out at any particular time. I believe J.K. Rowling will make the Portkey the last Horcrux Harry finds (with the possible exception of Nagini, which Harry may find with Voldemort) so he has already destroyed the other Horcruxes and is ready for the final battle.
Why Only One Portkey?
While Voldemort could have made all of his Horcruxes into Portkeys so that whenever one was touched, the person would be transported to Voldemort’s location, I believe he would make only one Horcrux into a Portkey. I believe this for several reasons.
First, as Harry’s and Dumbledore’s experiences with Horcruxes thus far have demonstrated, each Horcrux has very different protections surrounding it. The diary contained Tom Riddle’s memory, capable of taking over the reader/writer, and was also protected by virtue of the fact it was hidden in Lucius Malfoy’s house, presumably among other objects. The locket in the cave was protected mainly by its obscure location. A person searching for and obtaining the locket would also have to find and penetrate the hidden door, get past the Inferi in the lake, and drink the potion. The ring was protected by, at the very least, some type of hex that caused significant damage to Dumbledore’s right hand. Thus, Voldemort has increased the odds of protecting each of his Horcruxes by forcing a person tampering with the Horcruxes to get past numerous, complex spells and other protections rather than the same protections for each one, which could be learned with the first Horcrux and easily gotten past for each of the remaining ones.
Second, it would be unnecessary to make all of the Horcruxes into Portkeys if Voldemort hid the Horcruxes with different Death Eaters or asked the Death Eaters to find a protected location for the items. If a Death Eater and his or her family were around the Horcrux frequently (for example, if it was stored in a secret compartment under the living room floor at the Malfoy residence), it would be more likely activated by accident.
Third, Voldemort has a dangerous amount of pride. Voldemort very likely thought it impossible that another witch or wizard would learn of his six Horcruxes, determine their locations and penetrate the protections surrounding them. In fact, unless a person were to search back through Voldemort’s past and speak to just the right individuals (many of whom are now deceased), there would be no way someone could learn of all of the Horcruxes and accurately guess where they are hidden. Thus, it would be unnecessary to transform each Horcrux into a Portkey.
While Voldemort would understand the reasons not to turn all of his Horcruxes into Portkeys, he is also very clever. He would know it would be useful to have a backup plan in case his Death Eaters screwed up (like Lucius Malfoy being so lax with the diary). In line with his habit of not truly trusting anyone, including his Death Eaters, having one Horcrux acting as a Portkey would give him the ultimate protection by relying on himself and his status as a greatly-feared wizard to protect the Portkey-Horcrux rather than merely trusting his Death Eaters to apply sufficient protections on the Horcruxes. Thus, I believe it would be wise for Voldemort to protect only one of his Horcruxes with a Portkey enchantment.
Why the Cup?
The Triwizard Cup apparently has two handles, like a trophy, rather than like a single-handed mug: “When [Harry and Cedric] had reached [the plinth on which the cup stood], they both held a hand out over one of the cup’s gleaming handles.” 16 Hufflepuff’s cup is described as having a similar appearance: “a small golden cup with two finely wrought handles.” 17 The fact the Triwizard Cup was made into a Portkey is what first gave me the idea that another two-handled cup also could be used to transport Harry to Voldemort’s location.
Harry will undoubtedly have many jinxes, curses, and hexes to overcome to obtain the cup. Hepzibah Smith described to Tom Riddle years ago that the cup is alleged to have many powers, though she had never tried to discern what those were.18 I am certain Tom spent a significant amount of time after he stole the cup determining exactly what powers it holds and what types of protections, if any, he wanted to add to it once it contained a portion of his soul. Making the cup a Portkey once it was in its hiding place would guarantee its safety until a person activates the Portkey. Like the locket, hidden in the cave and surrounded by many magical protections, Hufflepuff’s cup is very likely hidden from passers-by and protected by various safeguards. Thus, whoever found Hufflepuff’s cup must have been searching for it, and would almost certainly already know it was a Horcrux. That would make it impossible for anyone to just stumble upon it. Thus, using the cup as a Portkey would allow Voldemort to discern who is attempting to tamper with his Horcruxes.
Rowling often introduces a concept to the readers in one book and repeats the concept in later books. Sirius appeared to be the first prisoner to break out of Azkaban, but unbeknownst to the wizarding world, Barty Crouch Jr. broke out first. The Marauders were unregistered Animagi; Rita Skeeter was later found to be one as well. Harry, Ron and Hermione used Polyjuice Potion in their second year to go undercover; Barty Crouch, Jr., used it in their fourth year while masquerading as Professor Moody; and Crabbe and Goyle used it in their sixth year while posing as young girls guarding the Room of Requirement. Many potions, as well as the bezoar, were introduced to readers in Snape’s first potions class and later were expanded upon in Half-Blood Prince. Rowling has repeated the Portkey concept as well. Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys used a Portkey to get to the Quidditch World Cup. Later the same year, Harry and Cedric unintentionally used a Portkey to get to the graveyard where Voldemort was waiting. The following Christmas, Harry and the Weasleys used a Portkey to get to number twelve Grimmauld Place after learning Arthur had been attacked by a snake. Finally, Harry used a Portkey after the battle at the Ministry of Magic to return to Dumbledore’s office. Just because the Triwizard Cup was the first Portkey that sent Harry to Voldemort’s side doesn’t mean it was the first magical cup to be transformed into a transportation device. By repeating concepts introduced in previous books, Rowling quickly explains the situation to her readers without having to give a lengthy explanation of a new concept. This device also allows readers to get a sense of consistency in the magical world – just like in our Muggle world, people commonly utilize the same ideas and practices they or others previously employed. I believe Rowling has given us enough evidence in the previous books that Hufflepuff’s cup may be a Portkey that sends Harry alone to his final confrontation with Voldemort.
In sum, Harry needs to be transported to Voldemort’s location after he has destroyed the other Horcruxes (with the possible exception of Nagini). He must, both to follow Rowling’s pattern of Harry reaching the book’s climactic moment alone and to fulfill the prophecy, battle and defeat Voldemort alone. Rowling has already introduced the concept of the Portkey, its usefulness and the ease with which one is created. She has also demonstrated a tendency to repeat in later books a concept introduced in an earlier book. Although Voldemort may have entrusted some of his Death Eaters with Horcruxes, if he turned one Horcrux into a Portkey, he ultimately would be notified of someone finding and tampering with his Horcruxes and could defeat the person in a duel before checking on the status of his other Horcruxes. Therefore, among the other protections surrounding the cup, I believe Voldemort made Hufflepuff’s cup a Portkey which ultimately will transport Harry to the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort.
1. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 841.
2. Ibid., Sorcerer's Stone, 284-87.
3. Ibid., Chamber of Secrets, 303-4.
4. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 635-69.
5. Rowling, “Progress on Book Six.”
6. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 504.
7. Ibid., 564.
8. Ibid., 277.
10. Ibid., 504-5.
11. Ibid., 504.
13. Ibid., 384-86.
14. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 818.
15. Ibid., 474.
16. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 634.
17. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 436.
J.K. Rowling Official Site. “News: Progress on Book Six.” http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/news_view.cfm?id=62 (accessed 4 October 2006).
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
———. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
———. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
———. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books,2003.
———. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books,1999.
———. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1998.