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Last time I did this, it was to argue that Remus was evil, and that was Moony’s fault as well.

The following contains references to all five books, and under the cut is an extract from JKR’s website and an analysis of the American cover of HBP that may be construed, for the very paranoid, as spoilers. You have been warned.

This sacrifice turned out to be vitally important, for it was the ancient magic of this act that protected the child. When Voldemort's Avada Kedavra curse hit Harry, the protection of Lily's sacrifice made the curse rebound onto Voldemort, who was all but killed. The curse left a curse scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on Harry's forehead.
- from the Harry Potter Lexicon.

Recently, I asked my friends list why they thought Voldemort was "killed" that night in Godric's Hollow. (Or at least, injured enough to need to possess animals and disappear for about ten years.) The answer was basically the same as what the Lexicon has to say. However I believe that this is another example of fanon, fandom and the movies digging into the perception of canon.

Dumbledore says: “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realise that a love so powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, not a visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed and ambition could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.” [PS/SS.]

However I do not believe that this “marking” is why the curse injured Voldemort – nor indeed that is the true reason the curse rebounded and set the prophecy in motion in the first place.

So what was the real reason? Dumbledore says “We can only guess… we may never know.” [PS/SS.] JKR says “for some mysterious reason, the curse didn't work on Harry.” Dumbledore is unsure about it for so long in the books – surely the solution of Lily dying for Harry would have been obvious from the very first? Voldemort, too, is confused as to why the curse rebounded and killed him.

It is Harry who makes the assumption that fandom believes as fact. “No-one knows why you lost your powers when you attacked me,” said Harry abruptly. “I don’t know myself. But I know why you couldn’t kill me. Because my mother died to save me.” [CoS.]

Riddle muses on this, believing that it was just pure luck. However numerous interviews from JKR state that this is not the case at all; that Harry is an exceptionally powerful wizard who is growing into his powers, and that Voldemort's non-death is important to the future plot.


The first question that I have never been asked—it has probably been asked in a chatroom but no one has ever asked me—is, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” Not, “Why did Harry live?” but, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” The killing curse rebounded, so he should have died. Why didn’t he? At the end of Goblet of Fire he says that one or more of the steps that he took enabled him to survive. You should be wondering what he did to make sure that he did not die—I will put it that way. I don’t think that it is guessable. It may be—someone could guess it—but you should be asking yourself that question, particularly now that you know about the prophesy.

So I’m not going to guess. Suffice to say, whatever it is didn’t show up in the Priori Incantatum in GoF. However I believe we are going to find out in Book Six.

You see, the cover shows Dumbledore and Harry peering into a Pensieve that is lighting up the room with green. We found out quite a lot about Pensieves in OotP, not the least that when entering someone’s memories, the person in the Pensieve can hear and see things which may not have been seen or heard by the person whose memory it is. The best example of this is Harry listening to MWPP joking around in Snape’s Worst Memory, despite the fact that Snape does not seem to be aware that they’re there, or watching what they’re doing.

JKR states on her website that Harry never saw Voldemort kill his mother or father because he was in his cot. So my theory is that in HBP Harry will use Dumbledore’s Pensieve to examine his one-year-old memories for a clue to exactly what happened between he and Voldemort on that night.

I believe they will begin to find out why Voldmort was able to survive the rebounded Killing Curse – perhaps by putting some of himself into Harry through his scar or eyes? Whatever the case, the entire house was destroyed but the two wizards, one the (second?) strongest in the Wizarding World and the other a baby, survived – and not because of Lily’s counter-curse.
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May 2011

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