Recap / Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince C 23 Horcruxes

As with the books before, there is going to be a chapter where Dumbledore Explains It All. This time, it comes unusually early.

Harry returns that night and learns from Nearly Headless Nick that Dumbledore has returned. He races to Dumbledore's office, with the memory of Slughorn. Dumbledore congratulates Harry for obtaining the memory and they begin watching it in the Pensieve.

The memory scene starts off the same way as the tampered memory did. However, in the first part of the memory that Slughorn had previously tampered with, instead of saying "You'll go wrong boy," Slughorn goes on to predict that Riddle will become an eventual Minister of Magic. Then we get to the second part that was previously tampered, when Riddle asked what Horcruxes were. This time, instead of shooing off Riddle, Slughorn is seen answering his question.

Slughorn explains that how a Dark wizard can become near-immortal by splitting his soul and storing a fragment of his soul in a safely-hidden object called a Horcrux. This requires him to commit an act of murder. If a wizard with a Horcrux is physically killed, he will not die fully but go into a part-life state, much like what Voldemort had after first failing to kill Harry. Riddle asked what would happen if a wizard split his soul into seven pieces. Slughorn is shocked by the idea. Riddle leaves, and a fleeting expression of triumph can be seen on his face.

Dumbledore and Harry exit the pensieve. Dumbledore explains that the diary Harry destroyed four years ago was a Horcrux. It was proof that Voldemort had split his soul, but Dumbledore was suspicious. Whereas a Horcrux is supposed to be a safeguard for a fragment of the soul, Voldemort clearly intended the diary to be used to open the Chamber of Secrets. By doing so, he was putting it at risk of getting into someone else's hands and being destroyed (as happened). It suggested to Dumbledore that Voldemort may have made multiple Horcruxes, something that no other Dark Wizard has ever done. After Voldemort's return, Harry reported that Voldemort had said he had "gone further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality", which seemed to confirm Dumbledore's theory.

Harry asks why Voldemort didn't seem to want to use a Philosopher's Stone instead of Horcruxes. Of course, he had tried to use a Stone five years earlier. This would have at least brought him out of the part-life he was living in at the time. But Dumbledore believes that Voldemort would not have liked the idea of being dependent on the Stone's Elixir in order to stay immortal, so he used Horcruxes instead.

The memory suggests Voldemort split his soul into seven by making six Horcruxes. All must be destroyed before Voldemort can be properly killed. So far, two are gone: the diary and Marvolo Gaunt's ring. Dumbledore explains he destroyed it during the previous summer holidays, and that he had his hand blackened by a curse in the ring that almost killed him. Four Horcruxes remain. Dumbledore suspects that Voldemort would want to have used objects with a prominent magical history, and notices that a few important magical artefacts disappeared around Voldemort. His guesses that the four remaining Horcruxes are:
  • Slytherin's locket, stolen from Hepzibah Smith
  • Hufflepuff's cup, also stolen from her
  • An object related to Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. Probably Ravenclaw, as the only known surviving object of Gryffindor's (his sword) remains safe.
  • The snake Nagini, given how much control Voldemort has over her. Unlike the others, it was probably made in haste while Voldemort was still waiting to be returned to full power.
Voldemort apparently doesn't seem to notice when a Horcrux is destroyed. If all of them could go, he could be killed, but even that would be difficult. Harry can't see what sort of power he has over Voldemort.

Dumbledore explains that Harry's one power over Voldemort is his ability to love. Harry has difficulty understanding this. Dumbledore explains that it has meant that Harry has never been tempted to join Voldemort's side, despite being able to see into Voldemort's mind (it also stops Voldemort from being able to use the connection the other way round). Dumbledore also says that the Prophecy is irrelevant. Harry and Voldemort are not going to confront each other Because Destiny Says So. They already have underlying motivations for wanting to kill each other.