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Harry Potter – The Accidental Horcrux
By Michael Daniel


Shortly following the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in the summer of 2005, theories began rising, as theories tend to do, regarding the outcome of the seventh, and final, book in the Harry Potter series. One of the more interesting and controversial of these theories was that Harry, or his mysterious lightning-shaped scar, was a Horcrux.

Initially, I did not believe this theory at all. There were just too many holes that needed to be explained. The evidence supporting the Horcrux theory was that Voldemort transferred powers into Harry at Godric’s Hollow,1 and that Harry shares an unusual connection with Voldemort. Harry is acutely aware of Voldemort’s emotions through the scar on his forehead, and Voldemort is also able to tap into Harry, placing images in Harry’s mind and possessing Harry.2

This last point was most convincing. Prior to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we had witnessed two kinds of possessions. Our first encounter with possession was in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, where Voldemort shared a parasitic relationship with Professor Quirrell.3 Our second encounter was in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Tom Riddle possessed Ginny Weasley through his diary.4 In this instance, Ginny blacked out and was never fully aware of what she was doing.

However, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix we came upon a third form of possession, and we saw it used on not one, but two characters. Harry had a vision in which Voldemort had possessed his pet snake, Nagini, and used her to break into the Ministry of Magic.5 In his vision, Harry wasn’t watching the scene from the outside, but was in the scene as Nagini.

At the final battle of the book, held in the Ministry of Magic, Voldemort also possessed Harry, in the same way that he had possessed Nagini: Harry did not black out as Ginny had, but was fully aware of what was happening but was experiencing unbearable pain.6 Also, in both of these instances of possession, it seems to me as if the thoughts of the possessed (Harry/Nagini) became merged with the thoughts of the possessor (Voldemort). In the other examples of possession we’ve seen, there appeared to have been two separate minds in one body. But with Harry and Nagini, it was more like two minds becoming one. Harry’s thoughts in the Ministry of Magic while he was being possessed seemed more like Voldemort’s than his own. “Let the pain stop,” thought Harry. “Let him kill us … End it, Dumbledore … Death is nothing compared to this …” 7

That doesn’t sound, to me at least, like our favorite hero. It wasn’t until Harry thought “And I’ll see Sirius again” and his heart overflowed with love, that Voldemort left him and he was able to become himself again. This suggests that the Harry-Voldemort relationship is strongly related to the Nagini-Voldemort relationship – if not one and the same.

It was Dumbledore’s revelation that Nagini was quite likely Voldemort’s most recent Horcrux8 that illuminated the significance of this connection. This would suggest that the reason Voldemort was able to possess both Harry and Nagini in the same unusual way was because they were both Horcruxes. However, there is one crucial difference between the possession of Nagini and the possession of Harry – Nagini felt no pain, and yet Harry – and then Voldemort – felt pain. Why is this? Dumbledore explains to Harry that Voldemort could not bear to reside in a body so full of love: it caused him unbearable pain.9 Likewise, I think the extreme pain that Harry felt most likely was caused by being possessed by something so full of hate. It would be a physical representation of the fact that Harry and Voldemort, though sharing blood10 and soul (if Harry actually is a Horcrux), are polar opposites.

Basically, the Horcrux theory depended on one of two scenarios: 1) Lord Voldemort went to Godric’s Hollow with the intention of turning Harry into a Horcrux; 2) Lord Voldemort accidentally turned Harry into a Horcrux. The basis for the first scenario was that Voldemort, believing that everyone shared his opinion that there is nothing worse than death, turned his enemy into a Horcrux so that Dumbledore, and Harry, would not want Harry to be killed. The final result, of course, would be that Harry would prove Voldemort wrong and sacrifice himself. The basis for the second scenario is that somehow Voldemort unknowingly turned Harry into a Horcrux and thus was not aware of Harry being a Horcrux until sometime after his rebirth at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

The first scenario had many problems. One was that at countless times throughout the series Voldemort has tried to kill Harry, which he wouldn’t do if he knew that Harry was one of his Horcruxes. The main problem, however, was that the theory essentially contradicts itself. Voldemort turns his enemy into a Horcrux so that his enemy won’t hurt himself, but yet Voldemort wants to kill his enemy because he is, after all, his enemy.

The second scenario had one major argument against it. It is widely believed in the Harry Potter fandom that Dark Magic cannot be performed accidentally, and since the Horcrux is considered extremely dark magic11 it follows that the Horcrux spell could not be performed accidentally. This belief is founded on two particular quotes from the books. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mad-Eye Moody (or rather Barty Crouch Jr.) said: “Avada Kedavra’s a curse that needs a powerful bit of magic behind it—you could all … point [your wands] at me and say the words, and I doubt I’d get so much as a nosebleed.” 12 There is also Bellatrix Lestrange’s quote from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix regarding Unforgivable Curses: “You need to mean them … You need to really want to cause pain—to enjoy it—righteous anger won’t hurt me for long.” 13

This was the main argument making me not believe the Horcrux theory. However, these quotes actually merely imply that Dark Magic can’t be performed accidentally. What they actually show, is that advanced magic (whether dark or light) has to be focused. In other words, it can’t be performed unintentionally – a subtle yet significant distinction.

Also, upon closer inspection of the books (particularly Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), I came upon strong evidence that suggested the existence of an accidental Horcrux – other than Harry or his scar – that already existed in the canon.

First however, it actually has been proven that magic can be performed accidentally without the performer even being aware that it is possible to do it. For example, when Harry was a child – before he even became aware of the wizarding world – he performed very advanced magic without even realizing he was doing it. Most notably was the time when a pack of bullies was harassing him and he Apparated himself onto the roof of the school.14 Apparition is such an advanced form of magic that students are not allowed to perform it until they turn seventeen,15 and yet young Harry was able to Apparate without any negative side effects when he was just a child – a feat he could barely accomplish even later as a teenager.16 Harry also magically re-grew his hair over-night after a particularly nasty haircut from his “beloved” Aunt Petunia and made the glass at the Zoo’s snake exhibit disappear.17 And of course, there is also our much beloved example of Harry accidentally “blowing up” Aunt Marge.18

It is also hinted that Tom Riddle was able to perform very complex magic before his awareness of the wizarding world. The torture of his fellow orphans19 suggests that he was using the Cruciatus and even the Imperius curses on them even though he did not yet know the incantations for the curses – or that magic existed at all. It is also likely that he Apparated himself and the two orphans to the cave where he tortured them.20 Dumbledore’s explanation of Tom climbing down the cliff with the orphans has always seemed highly implausible to me, and Dumbledore himself admitted that it was merely speculation.21

Now, this is where we see a crucial difference between Tom and Harry. Harry, when faced with a magical phenomenon such as this, overlooks the obvious and keeps going on with his life. Whereas Tom becomes obsessed with it, studies it, and masters it. So, even though they both had performed complex magic before Dumbledore or Hagrid approached them, Tom was already a very powerful wizard for his age when Dumbledore came to him, whereas Harry was “just Harry” when Hagrid approached him.

So, let us now examine what it was in these instances that allowed Harry and Tom Riddle to perform highly advanced magic accidentally. The key word is “accidentally” rather than “unintentionally”. Magic can be performed by accident, but it cannot be performed without intent. When Harry was being bullied, he had a strong, overwhelming intent to get away, so he subconsciously Apparated himself to the top of the school. I believe that before he knew he was a wizard, Tom Riddle had a strong, overwhelming intent both to prove himself superior and to receive the adoration he never was able to receive from his mother. But the second of these two desires was never fulfilled. His rage over this fact allowed his other need, the need to be superior, to prompt his power-hungry lust for controlling other people. This is how he discovered his ability to cause pain in others, and the pleasure it gave him was the only salve to his rage.

I also believe that the death of Tom’s mother and the absence of her in his life had an extreme impact on his psyche, as it would on anyone. I believe her death, and the fact that she was unable to prevent it magically, led to his obsession with death. Subsequently, his frustration at not being able to overcome death is what led to his sadistic desire to control others, to prove himself superior. If he can’t prove himself more powerful than death, he can prove himself more powerful than everyone else. Notice how within minutes of learning that he was a wizard and that at least one of his parents was probably magical as well, he came to the conclusion that his mother could not have been magical for if she had been she never would have died and left him alone.22 I suggest that it was at this moment that Voldemort began to be born, for I believe it was this epiphany that began Tom’s life-long quest to become immortal. Using his powers of manipulation, he bends other people to his will to provide him with the necessary façade that will enable him to pursue his quest. I think this knowledge is crucial, for without it, we and the entire wizarding world would be under the impression that Voldemort’s sole motivations are his desire for power and his hatred for Muggles and Muggle-borns. However, with our full understanding of Tom Riddle the boy we can see that, once he discovered he was a wizard, Voldemort’s hunger for power and acts of hatred were merely tools to manipulate his followers so that he could achieve his primary goal of immortality.

Thus, I propose that when Tom killed the last of his family, his emotions were soaring and out of control. For the past several years, his obsession with becoming immortal had been boiling underneath the surface. Again, his frustration at not being able to conquer death led to his resolution to conquer life – by taking life away. Thus, I believe that when he vented this frustration by killing his family, the underlying current of his lust for immortality surged to the surface and he unwittingly turned the nearest object to him into a Horcrux.

Forty years later, when Voldemort attacked baby Harry and the spell rebounded on him, he once again was overwhelmed by his desire to become immortal. In the split second after the curse rebounded, he would have been confused – most likely he would have thought in that split second that despite all his efforts, he had been killed. He would have then come to the conclusion, in those few moments before he realized that he was still spiritually connected to earth, that his Horcruxes had failed him. This unbearable urge to never die surged through him and he unwittingly turned the nearest thing to him into a Horcrux – baby Harry.

It was the careful examination of all of these examples that led me to the realization that it just may be possible to “accidentally” create a Horcrux. But, that was just speculation, until I realized the evidence had been sitting right under our noses. The evidence for this theory is in the books. Or more accurately, the book.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we unknowingly came in contact with our first Horcrux. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore revealed that the diary that Voldemort had used to possess Ginny Weasley had been a Horcrux.23 It wasn’t until I closely examined this Horcrux that I realized there was something abnormal about it. The diary did not act in a way that a Horcrux should act.

From what we have learned in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, there is primarily one important factor that defines an effective Horcrux: it must hide the soul fragment in an object.24 We have also learned from the Rumors section of J.K. Rowling’s official website that it is important for the Horcrux to be inconspicuous, as her explanation for why the Sorting Hat could not be a Horcrux is because “Horcruxes do not draw attention to themselves.” 25 The purpose of creating a Horcrux is to anchor the soul to the earth after death of the body. However, the diary Horcrux took on a mind of its own, drew attention to itself, and even tried to regain physical form.26 This is not what a Horcrux should do.

It seems as if at the time of the creation of the diary, Tom Riddle, in his uncontrollable lust for immortality, created a stronger Horcrux than usual. In fact, it was so strong that it took on a life of its own. Riddle’s intense desire to live was passed on into his Horcrux, spawning in the Horcrux itself an intense desire to live. My guess is that, as he was an orphan, the diary was probably one of Tom’s few possessions. He probably carried it with him at all times, especially if he had written secrets in it that he wouldn’t want others to discover. Soon after, he began to notice that the diary was behaving strangely; it would be writing back to him and seemed to have a piece of him inside of it. I believe that after Riddle realized what he had done, he saw the benefit of using it as a weapon to reopen the Chamber of Secrets and then proceeded to find out what it was exactly that he had done and see if it could be duplicated.

In the Horcruxes chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Riddle seemed most particularly interested in finding out from Slughorn if it would be possible to create more than one Horcrux – which suggests to me that he had already created one at that time; one that was abnormal and was better suited as a weapon than an actual Horcrux, thus his desire to create more. The fact that he didn’t know how to create one – as illustrated by Slughorn reprimanding him for asking what the Horcrux incantation was27 – also strongly suggests that the first Horcrux was accidental. It was this epiphany, coupled with the previously mentioned examples of advanced accidental magic that led me to the realization that the diary was quite likely accidentally turned into a Horcrux.

Another bit of evidence about the special nature of the diary is in its protection, or lack thereof. Dumbledore’s hand was almost fatally injured when he destroyed the ring Horcrux,28 yet Harry suffered no ill effects from destroying the diary. There are two possible explanations that I see for this anomaly. One explanation is that Harry suffered no ill effects because being a Horcrux protects him from the other Horcruxes’ protections. Another explanation is that the diary, being accidentally created, was not as well protected as Voldemort’s later, more refined experiments in Horcrux creation. I personally prefer the latter because that would make the destruction of the remaining Horcruxes almost too easy if all Harry had to worry about was tracking them down.

In any event, protection of the Horcrux is still an important factor to Voldemort. He has been meticulously careful with protecting all of the Horcruxes we have seen thus far with complex spells and booby traps that require one to sacrifice their strength to get to the Horcrux – much like the Jigsaw killer in the Saw movies. Well, all of the Horcruxes so far except one – the diary. It is almost as if he considers it unworthy to be compared to his other Horcruxes and has turned its weaknesses into its strength – using it as a weapon instead of a Horcrux. In fact, Dumbledore himself has some very interesting comments that support that theory. “If he intended the diary to be passed to, or planted on, some future Hogwarts student, he was being remarkably blasé about that precious fragment of his soul concealed within it. The point of a Horcrux is … to keep part of the self hidden and safe, not to fling it into somebody else’s path and run the risk that they might destroy it—as indeed happened.” 29

I compare his attitude toward the diary to Victor Frankenstein’s attitude toward the creature. Victor, embarrassed and terrified by the crudeness of his creation, cast the creature carelessly into the world. However, had he continued his experiments and perfected the “art” of creation so that his future projects would not be as hideous and crude as the creature had been, I am sure that he would have treated those creations with the love and adoration that he never gave the creature. With the diary, it seems to be a similar scenario. As Voldemort perfected the craft of creating a Horcrux, it seems that he gave his later, perfect, experiments the care and protection he considered unworthy of the diary. Yes, to an extent he protected the diary by entrusting it to Lucius Malfoy, but clearly that was not a very efficient protection as Lucius – in a selfish effort to discredit Arthur Weasley and get him off his back – handed the diary right to Ginny Weasley, the sister of the best friend of Voldemort’s arch nemesis, Harry Potter. Ultimately, Lucius basically handed the diary to Harry himself.

Now, for my proposed timeline of events. Chronological events suggest that the first Horcrux Voldemort made was the diary. The Tom Riddle encased in the diary was sixteen,30 which strongly suggests that Voldemort was around that age when he created the Horcrux, and is also approximately around the time that he killed his father and grandparents.31 To me, it suggests that Voldemort had accidentally turned his journal into a Horcrux at the time of killing his father and grandparents. Think back to how Harry and Tom react to mystery – Tom would become obsessed with finding out what he had done. He might have done some research in Knockturn Alley prior to returning to Hogwarts, asking the right questions to the right people. He might have even asked teachers subtle hints that might have led him in the right direction. In any event, it seems that by the time he approached Slughorn he already had a pretty good idea about what a Horcrux was, and was merely seeking confirmation and to see if it would be possible to create more than one Horcrux – seeing as his first was too strong for its – or rather his – own good.

All that was left was to learn the spell. He couldn’t learn it at Hogwarts, for there was only one textbook in the library that mentioned Horcruxes – and briefly at that – and asking any teachers would be too risky.32 He might have continued his research while working at Borgin and Burkes. Perhaps it was during his ten years abroad33 that he learned the spell.

In any event, he returns to Hogwarts after ten years and attempts to get a job – at this point he has definitely created more Horcruxes as the physical effects of removing his soul are starting to manifest themselves in his appearance.34 Without being fully aware of Riddle’s true motivation, but suspecting there was something else under the surface motivating Riddle, Dumbledore denied him this opportunity, thus leaving him with the diary, Slytherin’s ring,35 Hufflepuff’s cup,36 the locket37 and the fraction in his body.38 Years later, Dumbledore deduces that what Riddle really wanted was two more objects that he could turn into Horcruxes – an object of Ravenclaw and one of Gryffindor. 39 He was two Horcruxes short of his goal.

Now, jump ahead 30 years. Voldemort has learned of the prophecy and has marked Harry as The Chosen One. He goes to Godric’s Hollow with the intention of killing Harry and creating another Horcrux. It is unclear at this point how many more Horcruxes he has come up with, but the point is that he was about to make one more, with an object we are unsure of. Somehow – possibly from Lily’s protection – the Avada Kedavra rebounds and hits Voldemort, destroying his body, but his soul is grounded to Earth by the remaining Horcruxes.

Taking into consideration the possibility that the diary had been created by accident forty years earlier, it is also thus possible that in this moment of extreme desperation Voldemort accidentally created a fifth Horcrux – Harry or his scar. Voldemort’s body destroyed, he retreats to Albania and lives in exile for ten years. He then makes several attempts to bring himself back to full power, but each time he is thwarted by Harry. Then Wormtail returns to him and gives him the opportunity to create a new body. He then turns Nagini into a Horcrux, probably using either the death of Bertha Jorkins or Frank Bryce. Then, using Harry’s blood, he returns to full form and power.40

Now, this is crucial: Voldemort is not yet aware of the connection he and Harry share. Harry is aware of the dreams he has been having, but Voldemort is not. It is not until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that Voldemort becomes aware of this connection. It is my belief that he suspected what this meant, but could not prove it. This is quite possibly why he took the risk of making the appearance at the Ministry of Magic: to see if he could possess Harry in the way he possesses Nagini. He found that he could possess Harry, but as soon as Harry’s love for Sirius swelled over him, Voldemort could not stand it anymore.

Voldemort’s theory proven, but his cover broken at the expense of it, he retreated and closed his mind to Harry, for fear of the repercussions. He instructed his Death Eaters not to kill Harry, under the pretense that he wanted Harry for himself, which is why Harry was not killed during the raid of Hogwarts.41

This explains the connection between Harry and Voldemort. This explains why the diary was such an abnormal Horcrux. This also explains why Voldemort would try to kill Harry before Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but not in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; he was not aware of the connection before the “test” in the Ministry, but was aware of it afterwards.

This is of course, just a theory, but it is a theory that answers most, if not all, of the questions involving Harry’s bizarre connection to Voldemort and the mystery of his lightning-shaped scar.

So, as we see, there is evidence hidden within the canon to suggest the possibility of Harry or his scar being a Horcrux. How we each read that evidence is, of course, up to interpretation. But as we see, canon does suggest the possibility of this theory, plus strong foreshadowing through the six existing books, so it is a possibility that can’t be fully ignored.

Notes

1. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 333.

2. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 827-44.

3. Ibid., Sorcerer’s Stone, 293.

4. Ibid., Chamber of Secrets, 310.

5. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 462.

6. Ibid., 816.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 506.

9. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 844.

10. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 642.

11. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 498-9.

12. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 217.

13. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 810.

14. Ibid., Sorcerer’s Stone, 25.

15. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 66.

16. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 385.

17. Ibid., Sorcerer’s Stone, 24, 28.

18. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 29.

19. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 276.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid., 556.

22. Ibid., 275.

23. Ibid., 500.

24. Ibid. 497.

25. J.K. Rowling Official Site, “Rumours: The Sorting Hat is a Horcrux,” paragraph 2.

26. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 313.

27. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 498.

28. Ibid., 503.

29. Ibid., 501.

30. Ibid., Chamber of Secrets, 312.

31. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 363.

32. Ibid., 381.

33. Ibid., 440.

34. Ibid., 441.

35. Ibid., 216.

36. Ibid., 440.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid., 503.

39. Ibid., 505.

40. The Harry Potter Lexicon, ”Timelines: Lord Voldemort.”

41. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 603.

Bibliography

The Harry Potter Lexicon. ”Timelines: Lord Voldemort.” Member of the Floo Network. http://www.hp-lexicon.org/timelines/timeline_voldemort.html.

J.K. Rowling Official Website. “Rumours: The Sorting Hat is a Horcrux.” http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/rumours_view.cfm?id=43.

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.



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