Further reflections spurred by reading The Life and Lies of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore by Irvin Khaytman.
In his Chamber of Secrets chapter, Irvin goes over what it means for Dumbledore that he first realizes during this volume that Voldemort’s Dark Magic included making a Horcrux, and in fact, perhaps more than one Horcrux, “which I do not believe any other wizard has ever had” (as he recounts in HBP).
Even though I’ve known since 2006 that the diary from CoS was Dumbledore’s first evidence that Voldemort made a Horcrux at all, let alone multiple Horcruxes, I never thought about what that meant from Dumbledore’s perspective until now. It took Irvin’s book to make me think about it. I had a series of “ah-ha” moments.
Of course. It must have been huge. It was the last great secret mission of Dumbledore’s life.
OH. Hallows versus Horcruxes, the false dichotomy that Dumbledore set up for Harry in DH, was not Harry’s struggle at all. It was only Dumbledore’s. Harry wouldn’t have been tempted by the Hallows; he never saw himself as a child of destiny. Dumbledore knew himself to be one. It was Dumbledore who, presented with the only artifact that was both a Hallow AND a Horcrux, responded to it as a Hallow and…
OH. Jeez. I never thought until now about why JKR made that one Hallow also a Horcrux, and none of the other Hallows or Horcruxes held that dual role. It was a test. How do you see this object? You were supposed to see it as a Voldemort Horcrux, treat it with caution, strengthen yourself and destroy it. Dumbledore saw it as a Hallow and grabbed for it, his greed overriding a lifetime of wisdom. *loud rude buzzer sound* NOPE. NOT WORTHY. Slow death for YOU, Mr. Dumbledore, sir! Unworthy, unworthy.
He didn’t want the Stone to keep it from others to use for harm. He wanted it for himself, to relieve his guilts and to aggrandize his magical power. WRONG, Mr. Dumbledore. *Horcrux curse explodes*
He was given a bit of extra life, long enough to last out the year, because he was working to impart knowledge to Harry and keep others from harm, not trying to stay alive for his own selfish reasons to outsmart Death. Thanks to the skill of Snape, who has been staying alive for unselfish reasons since Lily and James died.
OH. Wow. Before Dumbledore destroyed the Horcrux with the sword of Gryffindor, did that bit of Voldemort’s soul try to talk to him? What might it have said? How might Dumbledore have overcome it?
*possibly spoilers/speculation about Crimes of Grindelwald movie below*
I think Voldemort, who’s about to be born shortly after the end of the first Fantastic Beasts film, tried to further whatever Dark Magic Grindelwald mastered.
Grindelwald wants to harness the power of an Obscurus, but nobody has successfully separated an Obscurus from its Obscurial and kept it alive, and as we see from Grindelwald’s showdown with Credence in the subway tunnel, it’s really difficult to control a power when it’s inconveniently attached to a living being with their own will. (Like Dumbledore reporting surprise that Voldemort chose Nagini to hold part of his soul. Not optimal.) We also see from that showdown that there’s some sort of super-strength in an Obscurial, since it seemed like the Aurors destroyed Credence, yet he somehow survived. We also know that JKR is presenting Obscuri as a sort of allegory for the power of splitting the atom.
We know that Horcruxes are formed by casting a spell when someone splits their soul by killing another person.
I don’t know if Grindelwald eventually gave up on Obscuri and tried to make a Horcrux, but I suspect that Voldemort studied Grindelwald’s problems with Obscuri and decided that Voldemort, greatest of all wizards in his own opinion, would not outsource this all-important operation but sacrifice part of himself, generate power by splitting a part of himself off his core rather than trying to harness the power of an Obscurus.