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At the start of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorceror's Stone Voldemort's Killing Curse backfires

due to Lily's sacrifice protecting Harry from Voldemort.

leaving Harry with his scar

and a loose piece of Voldemort's soul

and Voldemort as a loose soul, self-described as "Less than a ghost". Voldemort was not dead, but had no physical body (until he got better in book 4).

What happened to his body? Did it disappear? Or was it left in the rubble of the house, along side the bodies of James and Lily?

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@DVK that question doesn't address the question here, namely "what happened to the body?". The only mention of that is "his body was destroyed or at least killed," which explicitly avoids this question. – Kevin Jan 10 '13 at 14:54
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The Body was destroyed or removed form the house, and never seen by the ministry.

In book 4 we find out the ministry presumes Voldemort in exile:

The four of you stand accused of capturing an Auror - Frank Longbottom - and subjecting him to the Cruciatus Curse, believing him to have knowledge of the present whereabouts of your exiled master, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

If either party had thought he was dead either the Longbottoms wouldn't have been tortured or that turn of phrase wouldn't have been used.

The only logical conclusion I can come to is that the body was destroyed, either when the house was also destroyed or by someone else shortly after his death.

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There's also Hagrid’s words to Harry in the first book, in the hut in the sea (I think?), where he says something like, “Some say he died. Codswallop, if you ask me.” This supports the supposition that there was no body and no actual evidence that he'd died. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 5 at 0:05

JKR never elaborated on what happened to the corpse, in the books, or any of the interviews based on my searches (admittedly, I didn't check Pottermore).

All we know was that the body was dead, and never mentioned again:

"...Nevertheless, I was as powerless as the weakest creature alive, and without the means to help myself...for I had no body, and every spell that might have helped me required the use of a wand. . . ." (GoF)

There are plenty of fan theories, but none of them have canon confirmation.

The three most popular options are:

  • It was destroyed in the blast that destroyed Potters' home

  • It was found by the Ministry and somehow disposed of (circumstantial evidence of this option is that people celebrated Voldemort's death the next day - and they had to SOMEHOW have known that he was killed, eh? I doubt they would have simply announced his death on a random guess without seeing the body, and there were no living witnesses of the death aside from Harry Potter and in-hiding-assumed-dead-Peter-Pettigrew).

  • Wormtail took care of it (hidden, buried or vanished), at the same time he retrieved Voldemort's wand. (This one seems unlikely, as taking care of a body would require time he didn't have, especially if in a disguise of a rat).

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Here's a good write-up: – DVK-in-exile Jan 10 '13 at 15:38
Thanks! That link gives me the best answer yet! – Jim Green Jan 11 '13 at 13:12

I'm reasonably sure that this question is never explicitly answered either in the books or in the movies. I don't follow any of the JKR fan stuff, so it is possible that she may have said something somewhere - but that strikes me as unlikely.

So, it seems reasonable to guess that "backfire" would mean that Voldemort would have become the victim of his own spell - that his body would have died. All previous victims of Avada Kedavra left a body, so Voldemort's body would have fallen there in the Potter house. Most likely, the body would have been discovered by or turned over to someone from the Ministry of Magic. It would have probably been destroyed, cremated, or buried in an anonymous grave - whatever the MoM does with unclaimed bodies of known criminals.

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No JKR references I'm aware of. May be Slytherincess knows – DVK-in-exile Mar 20 '12 at 20:02

If Scabbers was the one to betray the Potters to Voldemort, and he was there (he did lose a finger), I believe there was a rather weak/loose explaination that he had spirited the body away in The Prisoner of Azkaban. It probably doesn't say, and is just a part that JKK forgot to explain better. But, conjectures nonwithstanding, I think that ratty looking guy (who's name was completely forgettable, evidently) was the culprit of that crime.

So how did rat guy even get to be in the possession of the Weasley's anyhow? Do we start picking up random rats to see if they're wizards?

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There's no indication that Pettigrew was there, and he lost the finger in his confrontation with Black - he cut or gnawed it off himself so there's be evidence of his death. If you are curious about how Scabbers ended up in the Weasley's possession, why not ask a question? – Jeff May 7 '13 at 13:07

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