The Changeling Hypothesis/Premature Prediction
(Original Redemption scenario iteration, circa Easter, 2005)
According to the original version of the Changeling hypothesis, the nature of the connection which indubitably exists between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort is that from the point that Voldemort’s killing curse rebounded and destroyed his mortal body, Harry Potter has been the repository of Tom Riddle’s soul.
Not merely a portion of it, as turned out to be the case in canon, once we knew about the Horcruxes, but his entire soul.
The “soul” is generally regarded to be the seat of the emotions and of self-awareness. Those who have been administered the Dementor’s kiss have no such awareness, no kind of feelings or judgement and without such self-knowledge are unable to even access their own memories. Nor do they exhibit any signs of their original character. They might as well be Inferi, except that they lack an Inferus’s sense of purpose.
Well, that and that they are, at least temporarily, still alive.
Lord Voldemort should have been aware of this.
However, we have been given no indication whatsoever to lead us to suppose that Lord Voldemort places any particular value upon human emotions. From his statements and those statements of his followers that we have been privy to, it appears that he ascribes to the belief that emotions are the handles that one uses to manipulate other people. One is best off without them, oneself.
The wizard formerly known as Tom Riddle’s chief priority would, therefore, have been to insure that his consciousness and his memories would be preserved and would remain functional, whatever befell his physical body, without any further consideration for his soul.
Therefore, apart from binding his soul to the physical plane, which was necessary to prevent it from passing through the Veil, he paid it no further attention and concentrated all of his efforts upon safeguarding his consciousness, his memories and his self-awareness; hedging them about with whatever immortal qualities and protections he could either steal or create.
Harry, an immature, human entity, seems to have been left with no memory of the event that Changed him, beyond that of his mother’s voice, a high, cold laugh, and a green light.
Voldemort, a mature, composite human/non-human hybrid entity, seems to have been left with only a memory of “pain beyond pain”.
I believed that in Voldemort’s case this was only due in part to the destruction of his physical body. When his safeguards against death were actually invoked by the rebounding curse, it turned out that somewhere in his preparations to protect himself he had made a serious miscalculation. He, of course, did not realize this.
• • • •
For a while after HBP was released I felt just a bit smug about this theory. My original theory was clearly not altogether being supported by JK Rowling, but I had picked up on two of the major issues related to it. And I seem to have gotten those bits as solidly right as anybody is likely to have managed to do anywhere in fandom. But, on the whole, in its original form it wasn’t so much that I was “on the right track”, as that I had somehow hijacked the engine and taken a joyride in it a mile or three down my own track.
With HBP, a major flaw was revealed in my hypothesis. But the underlying premise turned out to have still been remarkably sound, so at that point, the theory was reworked rather than abandoned.
As we get farther downstream from the closing of canon, however, I begin to think that now, some 15 years later, perhaps I ought to seperate out actual attempts to understand and explain the creation of Horcruxes and put them into their own essay, and attempt to focus on the original theory of the Changeling hypothesis, which did indeed very closely resemble the concept of a Horcrux, without actually being one.
Unfortunately, once the concept of Horcruxes had been introduced to canon, it raised the question of; just how does one create a Horcrux? And, also unfortunately, this issue is major enough for it to have hijacked the entire esssay for upwards of a decade.
Those extrapolations are not required here.
• • • •
Let’s get a bit of historical context, here.
My original theory got kicked off when something rather interesting cropped up over on the old HP for Grownups list on AOL about six weeks before the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The traffic on that list crowded me out after the 5th book was released, but I had posted on it fairly regularly up to then.
A member who signed him/herself as The Admiring Skeptic made the observation that the climax of the first four books had all hinged upon a mistaken/false identity.
It should be noted that however accurate this statement may have been, this turned out to be a device which was conspicuously absent in OotP, and remained so ever after, (although if it had actually had anything to do with the plot, the systematic deconstruction of Albus Dumbledore over the course of DHs would certainly have qualified). In its place we had cases of false information, unknown motives and mysterious conspiracies.
However, back in 2003 The Admiring Skeptic proposed that on the strength of that observation, something to do with “identity” was in fact the underlying theme of the series. S/he further proposed that Rowling was steadily building up to a truly MAJOR case of mistaken/false identity as the series’s climax. S/he also made about an 80% convincing argument that this bombshell is emphatically not the tired old Star Wars “I am your father, Harry” retread beloved of some sectors of fanon at that time, but that Harry Potter and Tom Riddle themselves are in fact the same person.
• • • •
In its original form that theory hung upon the claim that Lord Voldemort was attempting to become immortal by wiping out both his own ending AND his beginning in order to reign thereafter as a sort of Dark God. To this end, at some point in the year before his fall, he brought his own infant self physically forward in time to be murdered according to some Dark ritual. The child!Riddle was rescued by James and Lily Potter who, adopted him and transfigured his features to resemble their own in order to conceal his identity. No one else but Dumbledore (and eventually, Voldemort) being aware of the truth.
Like a lot of fan theories, it was way too complex for everyday use, but the reasoning (in its entirety) almost worked. Just... not quite. It also depended far too heavily upon time travel paradoxes which are always unstable, unreliable, and next to impossible to pull off convincingly.
This Adopted!Harry theory, understandably, sparked a lot of discussion and quickly reached the point of inspiring spin-offs. We were soon given the “Harry is Tom’s missing twin” variant. Which does not discernibly improve matters and eliminates the original concept’s significance. I cannot recall if there were any others which were even that coherent.
I found myself exploring an alternate interpretation, which eliminates the time travel paradox by invoking and substituting the ancient and honorable folkloric tradition of the Changeling.
At that time (about May, 2003) it seemed reasonably sound to me. The very fact that we were apparently dealing with a “deathless” Dark Lord was in itself a whopping big clue, suggesting that one might do well to check out the methods used by other deathless evil Enchanters, and suspiciously deathless bad guys in folklore, of which there is no shortage. After my first reading of Phoenix my own variation on the theme still seemed reasonably sound, although the odds that JKR would choose to go there didn’t seem particularly high. But, after a later reread of Phoenix it looked as if I might have dismissed that possibility a little early. Some of the implications in Book 5 (although perhaps not the overt statements) turned out to be surprisingly supportive of that interpretation.
• • • •
In the wake of Half-Blood Prince, it was clear that my reasoning was a bit off.
Still, I did actually hit the target. Just… not in the gold. Clearly, Harry Potter had *not* become the repository of Tom Riddle’s soul. He only had been lumbered with a little piece of it.
My original Changeling Hypothesis had also appeared to have the very real advantage of offering us a welcome explanation to resolve the glaring discontinuity between the glimpse of Lord Voldemort which we were given at the end of Goblet of Fire and all of those earlier accounts of the compelling and charismatic leader that he is presumed to have been before his first defeat in order to have initially won so much alleged popular support, and to have attracted so many devoted followers to his stated cause.
What we were shown in GoF simply does not square with those accounts. The creature we were shown in the graveyard of Little Hangleton is something that no one in their right mind would follow on any consideration whatsoever, apart from that of fear or force.
On this issue, post-HBP it turns out that we seem to have been deliberately led into reasoning from a false premise from the very beginning. For, despite having — over the course of the first five books — repeatedly invited the reader to believe that at one time Lord Voldemort had commanded a wide following and at least some degree of public support, if we accept the “official Riddle backstory” as presented in HBP, Ms Rowling finally made it clear that this could never have been the case. It was an illusion. It had probably always been an illusion.
Whether this was due to a change of intention on Ms Rowling’s part, merely incompetent handling of a perception shared by most of the characters which was always intended to be revealed to be false, or whether it was a case of sheer authorial cluelessness, I cannot say. But the implication was certainly there in the first five books, and it was just as certainly, and conclusively refuted by the sixth. On the subject of Tom Riddle, in HBP Rowling sprung even more of a reversal upon the reader as she later attempted regarding Severus Snape.
And, as with Snape, I thought that this might not be the last such reversal that she intended to spring on us, either.
However, these inconsistencies in the presentation of Tom Riddle and his allegedly vast public support is also peripheral to the matter of the Changeling Hypothesis, and better explored elsewhere. Such as in the character studies related to Tom Marvolo Riddle.
• • • •
The Admiring Skeptic’s premise (that the Harry Potter we know is in fact the same entity who formerly existed as Tom Marvolo Riddle) was an intriguing one, and I quite agree that as the series had gone — up to that point — there had been ample suggestion that JKR could indeed have been building up to some variant of such a revelation. OTOH, there were still a host of niggling details which made that particular Adopted!Harry premise a good deal less than fully convincing.
Therefore, I proposed what I dubbed the “Changeling!Harry” variant:
According to the Changeling!Harry variant, there was no Dark Ritual requiring the dislocation of the infant Riddle from his native time line. One of the major stumbling blocks to the original proposal was its dependence on some form of timeline paradox. Instead, my variant threw the burden of original motivation onto that moldy old fig of Trelawney’s bloody first Prophecy. Which has since been confirmed as having been Rowling’s intention as well. That this Prophecy was ever made at all is what set off the whole sorry business. Or, at any rate, Harry Potter’s part in it.
I’ll admit that I would have just as soon not resorted to this device, since it was already such a fanon cliché. But, given that this particular issue was sprawling in slatternly dishabillé all across the whole question of what Voldemort’s motivation in killing the Potters was, we ignore it at our peril. And, to be honest, it was the endless speculation and discussion of this element by the fans during the “three-year summer” between the publication of Book 4 and Book 5 rather than the attention drawn to it in canon which built the reference up into the monolith of utter tackiness that it was by then.
Not that it isn’t sufficiently tacky at the end of the series, in any case. Because it oh-but-definitely is.
The major departure that what the Changeling hypothesis took from the Adopted!Harry source is that the Potters really did have a son that they named Harry, and that the Changeling “substitution” (actually more like a transformation) took place on the night of James and Lily’s deaths.
In this variant, we could take most of Dumbledore’s statements more or less at face value. It was indeed the half-overheard Trelawney Prophecy which set Voldemort on the Potters’ trail. The Prophecy strongly implied that the Potters’ child (or possibly the Longbottoms’) might be the appointed one who would prove to be the answer to this particular Riddle. And, in accordance with tradition, every action Voldemort took to evade his fate has only served to bind him more firmly to it.
If he had left it strictly alone, it might not have come to pass at all.
• • • •
When exploring the implications of the Changeling hypothesis, our first question is: Why on earth did we believe for so long that Voldemort’s curse did not materially affect Harry, apart from giving him his scar?
Because it did affect him. In fact that curse quite obviously affected Harry. It is widely and unblushingly admitted to have affected Harry. By the middle of CoS he had even been shown to have a trace memory of the name “Tom Riddle”. Which sounded familiar to him even though he knew he had not ever heard it before. He is a Parselmouth — like Riddle — despite there being no stated history of this gift in the Potter family tree and his mother, being Muggle-born, is unlikely to have passed it down to him. In OotP we were even finally told straight out that, now that Voldemort is back on the physical plane, the link between them which we have been seeing glimpses of as far back as PS/SS now goes in both directions.
What else did that botched curse do to him?
Is he even the same Harry Potter?
Are you sure? Are they? And even if you, or they, are sure, are they right?
• • • •
Who, after all, really got a chance to observe that infant in the period after the attack, before he was turned over to the Dursleys to raise? And how well did those observers know the Potters’ child in the first place?
Pettigrew had (most probably) snatched Voldemort’s wand, escaped, and was off making his own plans to go into hiding to his best advantage. He only knew that the infant had survived the attack and had been left howling in the ruins.
Sirius got a quick glimpse of the baby, in the dark of night, in the ruins of the Potter house when he turned up soon afterwards and tried to convince Hagrid to let him take the child.
Lupin was out of the loop altogether. If Lily had close friends of her own we did not yet even know who they were (there does seem to have been a Mary MacDonald for one, no idea what became of her), and the child was not entrusted to any of them.
The Dursleys were aware of the child’s existence, but had never seen him. We do not know how closely Dumbledore had been tracking the Potters — who were very young members of the Order — which at that point I still believed had only been formed about the time the Prophesy was made. (Rowling implies not, but has provided us with no viable alternate reason for why Dumbledore would have felt a need to form an Order of his own when the Ministry was already working with him.)
We do know that Hagrid had known the Potters, both as members of the Order and from when they were in still in school, but had he ever seen their son before he was sent to Godric’s Hollow to investigate what had happened?
No, we do not know. Everyone saw a dark haired child with Lily’s green eyes and inquired no further.
Or perhaps not. There is still that “missing” period between the time that the Potters were killed and Harry was left on the Dursleys’ doorstep. Much discussion has been generated regarding Harry’s probable whereabouts during that period. And I think that if my somewhat facetious suspicions about that time gap are wrong, and possibly even if they aren’t, there is still a good chance that for at least part of that time he was under examination at the Department of Mysteries. And we haven’t been told their findings.
Some observations in canon (direct and indirect) for us to consider are;
- Voldemort had already undergone a great many voluntary physical and magical changes from his origins as an apparently normal human wizard. By the time he showed up at Godric’s Hollow he certainly no longer appeared to be completely human. Or perhaps we ought to say, knowing what we know now, he was no longer a “complete” human.
- Voldemort’s attempt to murder the infant Harry Potter established a connection between the two of them. To outside appearances, the result of that murder attempt was that the “Victim” lived while the “Murderer” did not. We have been shown in canon that the connection between them was not broken by Voldemort’s apparent death. It remained intact, open, and by OotP was fully active, and went in both directions. Voldemort allegedly later blocked off the connection from his end through the use of Occlumency. Even later than that, in DHs Harry unconsciously managed to create an override to Tom’s Occlumency, and to reverse the "polarity" of the connection. The actual mechanics of this last event were never satisfactorily explained.
- It was established in PS/SS, and later confirmed in GoF that VaporMort was capable of existing in the stolen bodies of other creatures for limited amounts of time. Even in the unwilling bodies of other creatures that he had taken control over by magical/psychic force. This may or may not be related to his exceedingly well-developed gift for Legilimency, but it deffinitely appears to be a part of his talent for possession.
- It appeared to be established in CoS that at least some wizards are capable of creating something on the order of independently aware and potentially fully-functioning reproductions of their personal “selves”; potentially-incarnate memories. We now know that that particular entity was generated by a fragment of the creator’s soul which had been removed into a Horcrux; and which under certain circumstances might have been capable of taking up a second, independent physical existence separate from its original container.
- Throughout this entire series J.K. Rowling has repeatedly rubbed everybody’s noses in the existence of a poltergeist; an entity believed by paranormal researchers to be generated as a manifestation of the psychic disturbance produced by turbulent human emotions — without ever having existed as an actual, living human being, and consequently, although it must be classified as a spirit, it is not actually a ghost.
- It was stated outright in PoA that a wizard’s body can live without his soul. The dysfunctional condition of those who have been administered the Dementor’s Kiss is due to the fact that their souls have allegedly been eaten. And, consequently, no longer exist in the physical world.
This particular talent for “taking possession” of others was shared by the Diary revenant in CoS. Voldemort is also stated as having “possessed” the snake that bit Arthur Weasley despite his having already reincarnated himself into a functioning simulacrum by that time. This and his last ditch effort to possess Harry and use him as a hostage during the battle of the Atrium at the end of OotP confirms that this was not an ability which was unique to his disembodied state, and that even after he was back in a physical body of his own, this ability had been retained. He was capable, in short, of maintaining a psychic connection with two host bodies at once. We do not know what becomes of the simulacrum while Voldemort is possessing a victim.
In order for this last to have taken place, two murders would have been required. One to split the soul prior to putting the fragment into the Horcrux, and one to enable the fragment to escape this external housing and reincarnate itself by stealing the life force of a second victim.
Such entities we are given to understand are NOT common, and are not merely very Dark magic, but are an abominable perversion of both magic and nature, in fact, tantamount to blasphemy.
• • • •
Which, at long last, finally brings back us to the Changeling Hypothesis. It has seen a bit of evolution since its inception in 2003, and it no longer marches with canon at all, but, then, by this time full canon-compliance is no longer a requirement for viable theories.
The premis is: Harry, an immature, fully human entity, seems to have been left with no conscious memory of the event that Changed him, beyond that of his mother’s screaming and a green light. Voldemort, a mature entity with an already deeply compromised soul, seems to have been left with only a memory of “pain beyond pain”. I believe that in Voldemort’s case this was only due in part to the destruction of his physical body.
In the original iteration of Changeling hypothesis, my contention was that by the miscalculation of choosing to preserve his life experience, rather than his soul, Voldemort’s soul was stripped of all its experience by the rebounding curse, and that the memory, self identity, and self-awareness of Lord Voldemort were spun off to exist independently as VaporMort. Essentially this was the “residue” of all his first life.
But that his soul, now stripped of all of its first life’s experience and effectively returned to its original state, transmigrated to the nearest living body available to give it shelter, using the connection provided by the curse as its anchor. That, in short, Harry Potter became the repository of Tom Riddle’s soul. That Harry was double-souled, and consequently now had all the qualities needed to “vanquish” the residue of Lord Voldemort.
Also that “inheriting” a new identity and growing up as Harry Potter constituted Tom Riddle’s “second chance.”
Clearly, according to canon, this interpretation of the matter is wrong.
But not altogether forgotten.
• • • •
The greater part of the pain of his destruction was due, not to his mere removal from a physical body, but to the forcible dividing of his very soul, stripping it of its life experience, along with all of the immortal, non-human qualities that he had been at such pains to acquire. It was these non-human, non-mortal qualities which survived in disembodied form, controlled and directed by Riddle’s conscious memories and “Self” identity. These (predominantly adult) memories retain a tenuous connection to the underlying magical and temperamental qualities of the original human “soul” which had once informed the original, human, Tom Riddle. But they do not really control it, and it does not control or support them.
In this sundering, the stripped soul, was left bereft, without a physical housing or any significant residue of the life experience which it had once possessed. The result was very much as though it had been returned to its original, newborn state.
• • • •
The imprint of a soul which informs a ghost is able to sustain itself because it retains the self-awareness of its former existence to hold it together and the personality and memories of it’s former identity to give it shape. If Lord Voldemort’s preparations had not included a miscalculation, the destruction of his physical body might have resulted in a very powerful and self-aware ghost which could possibly have continued to direct his followers even from a disembodied state and would have needed only to instruct those followers to build, or provide it with a simulacrum in which it might have easily have re-housed itself to facilitate a “return”.
The stripped soul, however, now possessing neither self-awareness nor developed personality to give it form, nor memories to guide it, and which, moreover, was barred from passing through the Veil, could not properly “die”. Nor would it have been capable of sustaining itself on its own. It must find itself a shelter and sanctuary.
This almost entirely reverted (but fully human) psychic entity which, for convenience sake, we will regard as the “soul” of Tom Riddle, complete with all of the fundamental magical and temperamental qualities with which he had been born, but without conscious memory of its former life, ripped from the no longer altogether human body and stripped of its non-human and non-mortal acquired qualities, instinctively used the only connection accessible to it, the connection established by the curse just cast, transmigrating into the nearest living human body available to it, where it melded with the soul of the original infant Harry Potter, who it would appear was a compatible temperamental and magical “match”, even if not identical in every respect. It was probably this compatibility that had prompted the Prophecy demons to toss out a Prophecy linking them in the first place.
— Thus creating a composite but fully human hybrid entity which now possessed the inherent qualities necessary to destroy the still conscious and potentially animate “residue” of Lord Voldemort, in accordance with the Trelawney prophecy.
• • • •
Well, that was the original hypothesis. Obviously, this no longer plays. But, let’s follow this line of enquiry up its dead end and see what develops further:
Both souls are now harmoniously contained within one physical body, that of the young Harry Potter who has no conscious memory of this point of joining. The Harry Potter that we know has developed as a fully human, but composite, hybrid entity.
An example of the actual process might be comparable to that of a botanist’s grafting of an experimental hybrid onto a closely related, but more hardy, root stock. [Note: all infants begin with an inherent temperament. The individual’s actual character develops later. The Tom/Harry hybrid’s “character” has developed as an integrated corporate entity.] It is tempting to wonder whether this sort of a grafting would have “taken” at all with Neville Longbottom.
The composite entity which we know as Harry Potter, however, unlike the former Tom Riddle, retains the original Harry Potter’s deeply internalized experience of 15 months as a loved and wanted child, with all of the emotional strength and normal early development that this entails. And which by the time of the combination/incorporation had already established a very different, and much more resilient sense of “Self” than that which the young Riddle had developed under the institutional-style of care of the orphanage in which he was raised. It is these memories which the introduced soul has used as a base, in the absence of its own. The stripped soul, being essentially that of a newborn was subordinate to the original soul of Harry Potter. In that regard the two did not operate in concert.
Consequently the infusion of the original Tom Riddle’s underlying temperament — which had not yet developed the sociopathic pathologies of even a slightly older Riddle — and Riddle’s magical qualities served only to enhance rather than to divide or undermine the Potter child’s very similar fundamental temperamental qualities and potential character.
The present Lord Voldemort, consequently, does not have possession of his own soul. He bound it securely, prevented it from passing through the Veil at his first “death,” and, not regarding it as being of any value, effectively threw it away. Whereupon it passed into the keeping of Harry Potter.
Who was — until that point — deeply loved. And knew it.
• • • •
Unfortunately, from the night that Tom Riddle’s soul passed into the keeping of Harry Potter, Harry became as unloved as Riddle had always been. Harry, however, at 15 months of age had already learned that vital first lesson of bonding with those who tended him. And he had learned it very well.
For Harry, the abrupt transition from his parents’ loving care into the grudging hands of his Aunt Petunia ought to have struck him as a profound betrayal and loss, one that could have fully justified a descent into grief, fury, and crushing despair. We are given no indication that anything like this ever happened. Something therefore sustained Harry through this dreadful “passage”.
To the soul of Tom Riddle life in Petunia Dursley’s keeping would have seemed nothing out of the ordinary. It is not impossible that to Harry the vague “presence” of that second soul which took these changes of circumstance in stride, with neither terror nor feelings of betrayal might have served as a stabilizing, if somewhat dampening influence.
In return, as nature abhors a vacuum, to the Riddle soul, which had been stripped of all memories of its own former life and any true sense of “self”, Harry’s sharp memories of warmth, love and joy in his parents’ care might well have served as an anchoring point enabling its emptiness to assimilate something of the outlook of an emotionally healthy infant who has successfully taken the first steps toward normal human interaction. These memories would certainly have given that soul a clear impression of an emotional landscape which was true, appropriate, and desirable that would have enabled it to establish a functional template of how things “ought” to be, and against which its established patterns of reaction to a landscape, such as the present one, of cold necessity and grim endurance would have finally become identifiable as something else altogether.
In short, it was a true symbiosis of mutual benefit to both parties, and it served them well over the following 10 years, throughout which the two souls became ever more closely entangled, sharing the single identity of Harry Potter. And neither could have told you which was the original, nor where one left off and the other began. In fact they were ultimately no longer even aware that they were two, and not one.
• • • •
From the vantage point of the end of September, 2006, we were invited to suspect that this issue might be resolved by the “Never-Asked-Question” of why Albus had custody of James Potter’s invisibility cloak, when he did not need a cloak to be invisible. I was inclined to decline that invitation.
It was as yet unclear whether Rowling would claim that this was indeed the issue which the answer to that question would resolve, but it really didn’t look like it to me. We have no reason to connect the mystery of the reason Albus had the cloak to the mystery of what happened at Godric’s Hollow, apart from the fact that it was James’s cloak. And if James agreed to loan Albus his cloak then the reason for the loan may have been over something else altogether. Certainly over someplace else altogether.
But as to the central issue; that of the Changeling Hypothesis, Albus does drop hints. Even the fact that he was able to state with confidence from the outset that Voldemort was not dead is a strong suggestion that he knew perfectly well that there was at least one Horcrux already in the equation by 1981. The list of means that a wizard can use to ensure a degree of immortality has got to be even shorter than the list of what monsters are stone-turners.
That Dumbledore was aware of something of what had taken place at Godric’s Hollow is suggested by his description, back as early as the first book in the series, of the late Professor Quirrell “sharing his soul with Lord Voldemort”. And Harry’s descriptions of what he had experienced through that scar, even in his first year, must have made Albus suspicious of the nature of that scar. For that matter, we even get a hint that Dumbledore was probably suspicious of the nature of that scar as early as the opening chapter of PS/SS.
Harry Potter, however, unlike the former Tom Riddle, retains the deeply internalized experience of 15 months as a loved and wanted child, with all of the healthy early emotional development and ability to form attachments that this entails. And which by the time of Riddle’s attack upon him had already established a very different, and much more integrated and resilient sense of “Self” than that which the young Riddle had developed under the institutional-style of care of the orphanage in which he was raised. (Leaving completely aside the possibility of outside tampering and interference by 3rd-parties.)
Consequently the infusion of a bit of Tom Riddle’s magical qualities served only to enhance the abilities of, rather than to divide or undermine the Potter child’s fundamental temperamental qualities and potential character
That an individual’s soul is the seat of their feelings explains Harry’s residual connection to Voldemort’s emotional state. As well as the fact that — even once Harry was aware of it — Voldemort could still manage to waltz in and out of Harry’s head undetected, as he did off and on throughout the whole of Year 5. It would appear that Harry may share a similar underlying temperament to Tom Riddle’s original source “template” (without sharing Riddle’s sociopathic personality disorder). This similarity may have contributed to Harry’s initial confusion as to which of the emotions he was experiencing were not really his.
And it should be remembered that Harry only definitely identified those feelings which leaked through to him over the connection at long distance while Voldemort was otherwise occupied, as not being his own. When Voldemort’s consciousness was also present, Harry was unable to distinguish between his own feelings and those of his “passenger”.
This hybridization may explain Harry’s resistance to Voldemort’s magic, since he is using some of what was once Voldemort’s own power to resist him. But I had begun to suspect that this issue could be more related to the notorious “gleam” of triumph in Dumbledore’s eye when Harry described Voldemort having used his blood to create the simulacrum.
I have always believed that Voldemort introduced a paradox into the equation when he chose to use Harry Potter’s blood to build that simulacrum. And that it was one which had probably not worked to his advantage. The protection which Lily Potter placed upon Harry was established at the cost of her life’s blood. (Metaphorically, that is. She was killed by a curse. The curse did not literally shed her blood.) Her blood, which is to say Harry’s blood relationship to her, protected him from his enemy. In whatever form in which that enemy might personally attempt to attack Harry, his enemy could not touch him.
Voldemort’s use of Harry’s blood to create his simulacrum did indeed serve to reduce, although not eliminate that particular prohibition. But I think that perhaps the blood tie did NOT serve to work around the protection that Albus had layered on top of Lily’s, which was based upon it, and for which Albus might well think he had reason to feel a flash of triumph; in which Harry is protected from Lord Voldemort so long as he is in the company of his blood relations, and can call the home of Lily’s blood relations his own. This protection would run out upon his attaining his majority, but it would continue to protect him until then.
Lord Voldemort’s simulacrum nevertheless bears a close blood relationship to Harry Potter — as he had fully intended. Consequently, it also bears a close blood relationship to Lily. The simulacrum, therefore, is one of Harry’s “blood relatives”. Until Harry attained his majority Lord Voldemort could not kill him.
The tug of war with the brother wands in the Little Hangleton graveyard ultimately went in Harry’s favor. And it turned out that we hadn’t heard the last of that, either. Although the end result was exceedingly poorly and incompletely explained. In GoF, none of Voldemort’s AKs connected; even though Harry was already injured, and had a game leg, he managed to dodge all of them. The echoes from the Priori Incantatum gave Harry advice and assistance enabling him to escape. A great golden statue intervened when Voldemort attempted to kill him in the Atrium in OotP, and when Voldemort attempted to take possession of him he ran into something that he absolutely did not expect, and barely escaped without being captured, himself.
Harry might as well have been given a two-year’s dose of Felix Felicis where Tom Riddle was concerned. Until he turned 17 and shook the dust from the Dursley’s home from his feet, Voldemort simply could not kill him. And even killing the Horcrux might not kill Harry — so long as it was Tom himself who did it.
But Voldemort could still hurt him. Terribly. That gleam of triumph did not last long.
And the possibility that Harry might be able to shed the unintentional Horcrux without having to die himself, was not proven.
• • • •
With Harry Potter’s return to the wizarding world, however, it became almost immediately evident that there were serious disadvantages to the incorporation of two separate entities into one. When in proximity with the still active psychic “residue” of the Riddle soul’s former additional components it became vulnerable to the original entity’s emotional pull, producing physical pain and resulting in erratic episodes of psychic “leakage”. These exchanges continued to plague Harry Potter since that date and now that the original identity has managed to reincarnate itself into a functioning simulacrum, the connection appears to run in both directions. In addition, Harry’s ingrained reluctance to involve or to depend upon others which he owes in part to the coping patterns of the Riddle soul has reached the point of being as much a hindrance as a help.
The “double wills” may not invariably operate in concert either. In fact, in Phoenix we were given at least two, and possibly more occasions where Harry effectively heard himself telling people information that he had not intended to reveal, or casting spells without consciously choosing to do it. It is heartening to reflect that on most of these occasions this turned out to be the very best thing he could have done under the circumstances. Although whether this influence was due to the “Tom” fragment, or a harbinger of the sort of warping of the universe around Harry Potter that so marred the course of DHs, we cannot yet be sure, for although Voldemort was able to see and hear what Harry saw and heard, and to sense Harry’s emotions, if the connection worked for him the way it worked for Harry at that point, he had no actual access to Harry Potter’s thoughts.
• • • •
And, finally, I thought that this reading might also explain something of the 2-dimensional, “cartoon” character of the restored Lord Voldemort. For all that he had managed to create a living replica of his previous body, his entire “Self”, already severely compromised by the underlying sociopathic personality disorder, did not inhabit that body. We are now given to understand that with the creation of each Horcrux, the human soul was diminished. He was quite literally a “fragmented” personality. What we were observing was very much akin to an embodied memory without a human heart. It’s reasoning displays a consistent lack of connection with human experience or responses and its emotions are simple and rather crude reactions to an intellectual reading of the situation, rather than authentic emotional responses. They are memories of emotions, distorted and erratic. That he was lacking any authentic emotional connections in his speech or actions could also explain the hollowness of his performances which reflected nothing of the charisma and power that they must once have displayed in order to enthrall most of his schoolmates and his instructors. The current Lord Voldemort was quite literally “not all there”.
But still powerful.
And still exceedingly dangerous.
And much trickier to get rid of than an enemy that one could simply kill.
• • • •
In 2003, at the end of the original Changeling hypothesis essay I listed the three steps that would seem to need to be taken in order for Harry to permanently rid the world of Lord Voldemort as:
He has to destroy the simulacrum which Voldemort caused to be created at the end of GoF.
He has to destroy the “evil memory” which controls and drives the simulacrum. Essentially he must eliminate the “Lord Voldemort” entity (or VaporMort, as it was presented at the beginning of the series).
And, finally, he must release Tom Riddle’s soul and send it through the Veil.
Not necessarily in that order.
And although, over the course of the series to that date we had been given a couple of simple solutions (simple, but not easy) which might accomplish the first two list items above, we were still left asking how on earth is Harry supposed to release a soul which the Changeling hypothesis contended is so fully entangled with his own that it has become a part of himself?
In fact, to be safe, after HBP had been added to the equation, I thought he should probably neutralize that particular “evil memory” of his enemy before he destroyed the simulacrum. For with the probability of the 6th Horcrux (i.e., the Harrycrux) still being in play at the final confrontation, we could no longer safely assume that destroying the simulacrum would at the worst case merely revert Voldemort to VaporMort. It seemed entirely possible that to destroy his current hosting body now will merely launch Voldemort into a battle to posses Harry’s, despite the pain which that would invoke.
But, however difficult it might be, Harry must release the final piece of Tom Riddle’s soul, the one in his own custody, and send it beyond the Veil.
So long as Harry Potter is carrying around a fragment of Tom Riddle’s soul in his forehead, he can never truly be free of the persistent, recurring memory of Voldemort. The “last” Horcrux simply cannot be destroyed as long as the 6th Horcrux continues to anchor it this side of the Veil. Voldemort would continue to live as long as Harry does.
• • • •
On Voldemort’s end it seems also clear that he must personally destroy Harry Potter if he is ever to be able to function again as a “complete” entity. If anyone else should manage to kill the boy, the human soul that was once Tom Riddle’s is so entangled with that of Harry Potter that it might, despite his measures to attain immortality, be carried through the Veil with it and permanently lost.
However, it is also clear to the reader that Voldemort is not aware that he does not have possession of his own soul. Nor does he realize that if he does succeed in murdering Harry and recovering it, he will be recovering a soul that understands itself to be Harry Potter.
This will hardly work to Lord Voldemort’s advantage. His soul has undergone considerable transformation since it was last in his keeping. For the past 15 years it has been living the life of Harry Potter. Harry’s reality, perceptions and objectives are by now far more “real” to it than those of the former Tom Riddle — which it does not truly remember. And, having incorporated the infant Potter’s memories, it knows what love is, now; even though it has personally experienced little of it. It accepts the existence of love as an act of faith, and it is no longer the soul of a sociopath.
I am no theologian. I do not go searching for Christ figures in children's’ (or anyone else’s) literature. But it looks an awful lot to me, as well as to much of the fandom, that Rowling may have handed us one after all. She certainly was determined to strike poses in public which implied that she had.
And at this point in the story that figure is not Harry Potter. To this point in the story Harry is standing squarely in the position of the soul in need of salvation. Which, in accordance with all conventional Christian doctrine, has already been provided, and now must be embraced.
And, in a very real sense, so is Tom Riddle.
• • • •
An infant simply does not consciously choose whether or not to bond with its caretakers. It just does so. This is the first step of all human interactions and it is virtually a biological imperative. It simply happens — unless that infant is somehow prevented from taking that crucial step.
Clearly if what Rowling tells us is literally true, there had to have been something in Tom Riddle’s earliest experience which prevented him from ever having the faith necessary to form a connection with the people who were responsible for his welfare. This took place at so early an age that it is not something he can justly be held to be responsible for choosing.
But, having been denied the experience of bonding with any other person, at the point that it was essential to his future development to do so, he became incapable of ever living what anyone could call a “normal” human life. Tom Riddle must answer for his own actions, certainly. But it sounds as if he was set loose into the world unequipped to make proper choices. If the soul is the seat of the emotions, then he was emotionally crippled well before reaching an age of accountability.
So is it really an appropriate example of Divine Justice to destroy this soul for the virtually inevitable results of developing a defect over which it had no choice? A defect so fundamental as to render him incapable of comprehending the true meaning or purpose of any social contract? Is the damage to such a soul irreparable? Is there no possibility of healing?
The only thing that could conceivably have saved Tom Riddle would have been to get him out of that environment and into one where he could learn that basic first step of human relationships, to “bond” with his caretakers, before it was too late. That did not happen. Tom Riddle never learned to love another creature. And if no one ever loved the infant Tom Riddle it was not because he didn’t deserve it.
Under the reasoning of the original Changeling Hypothesis, The life of Harry Potter has constituted Tom Riddle’s “second chance”. The essay entitled ‘The Premature Prediction’ explored a proposal of a “spirit quest” which I thought might conceivably occupy a component of the climax of the final book in the series. Originally this quest was proposed as something on the order of the following:
• • • •
Harry finally confronts Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries. The trio has decided that they must get the Locked door open, in the confrontation they are pursued into room of the Veil. Voldemort behaves in his characteristic taunt-then-attack mode. Harry defends himself and somehow manages to destroy the simulacrum.
And, as in the Battle of the Atrium, he immediately finds himself pitched into a struggle with Lord Voldemort for the possession of his own body.
He throws himself through the Archway in order to take his enemy down with him, and to make his death count for something. Thus embarking on that spirit quest. If Rowling decided to use Harry’s prior performance with Pensieves as foreshadowing, he will not fall all the way through the archway and his friends will be able to pull him physically back through the Veil itself. He will be deeply comatose, but not actually dead. His friends, however, are unable to wake him.
• • • •
Beyond the Veil, Sirius Black, either as man or dog is waiting for him and serves as his guide. In the spirit realm the Voldemort entity can exist independently — probably in VaporMort form. It finds itself unable to retreat back through the Veil to the physical world.
Enraged, it dogs Harry’s progress and settles in to hunt him.
Harry will certainly meet his father on this quest. James will be of some assistance, and may be able to give Harry needed information, but he will not be able to rid Harry of the VaporMort entity which is hunting him. James will send them in search of Lily, who after all did manage to defeat Voldemort the first time.
As Harry and Sirius travel on, Harry will eventually have to start questioning how and why Voldemort is still hunting him when both of them are *dead*. Harry may encounter others who have died in the war by that time, (Dumbledore? Pettigrew? Quirrell — who might well thank him for delivering him from bondage?) but this part of the sequence will not be drawn out unduly.
Ultimately they will make their way to Lily and Harry will at long last have to face up to, and fully understand, and finally accept — instead of just take for granted — the love that saved him. And has gone on saving him.
And at that point Voldemort will make yet another attempt to overpower him.
During this final attack, Lily’s “lesson” will engage, confrontation will become transformation, the two souls will finally become disentangled and Tom Riddle, who by this time has grown into a variant aspect of Harry Potter will utterly repudiate the false Lord Voldemort, banishing him forever.
And will then beg mercy and forgiveness from Lily who ultimately has saved him as well as Harry. If Rowling decides to play the reincarnation card (highly unlikely, I know) Lily may well turn out to have been Tom’s own mother in a previous lifetime.
Elements of this rough template are actually from a work by C. S. Lewis. But they aren’t from any of the Narnia books, they are from Lewis’s last adult novel, ‘’Til We Have Faces’.
Towards the end of this resolution, overwhelmed by the power of the transformation, disoriented by the separation from his “other soul”, and blinded by the light that surrounds him, Harry stumbles through a door into a mercifully dim hallway. It was only locked from the other side. (And those rooms in the DoM are a right warren, all running into one another behind the scenes.)
...Thereby bringing with him/releasing The Power to permanently rid the Potterverse of the Dementors. Which it does, quite handily.
If Harry’s body was recovered from the Veil, he now wakes.
Tom Riddle remains behind in the spirit realm, perhaps in hope of a more appropriate resurrection one day. And so does Sirius Black, who would also rather take the chance of a whole new life someday than to attempt to return to the one which he made such a monumental botch of. Particularly given that any friends of his still among the living have all moved on without him. If Rowling decides to play the obvious parallel card it will be discovered that Harry’s quest has taken exactly three days and three nights.
The rest of the ending was pretty much as stated in the remaining essays posted elsewhere in the collection.
• • • •
Well, that was the original theory, as of the end of OotP. Back when I still took Rowling’s apparent hint that there was due to be some sort of a Christian theme to the resolution of the adventure at face value.
Unfortunately, imho, it turns out that Ms Rowling seems unable to draw a distinction between Christian symbolism and Christian content.
On the strength of having had the whole later part of my theory shot out from under me only three months after I first posted it I was still a little miffed to see it go. But as I say in the sidebar, I had never actually expected for it to turn out to have been altogether correct, in any case.
• • • •
However, my own tendency to look for patterns then had me wondering whether — if the “Lord Voldemort” that we were now forced to consider is, in fact, not much more than an embodied evil memory — we might have already been shown an appropriate means to neutralize and disarm him, buying us time to figure out how to deal with that 6th Horcrux.
A lá Gilderoy Lockhart, perhaps?