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Could the Dementors’ Kiss destroy a living Horcrux, like Harry? Lupin explains the Dementors’ Kiss to Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban:

‘They call it the Dementors’ Kiss,’ said Lupin, with a slightly twisted smile. ‘It’s what Dementors do to those they wish to destroy utterly. I suppose there must be some kind of mouth under there, because they clamp their jaws upon the mouth of the victim and – and suck out his soul.’

Harry accidentally spat out a bit of Butterbeer. ‘What – they kill –?’

‘Oh, no,’ said Lupin. ‘Much worse than that. You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you’ll have no sense of self any more, no memory, no ... anything. There’s no chance at all of recovery. You’ll just – exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone for ever ... lost.’

Prisoner of Azkaban - Page 183 - British Hardcover

Subsequently, Dumbledore tells Snape in The Prince's Tale in Deathly Hallows:

'On the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort’s soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself on to the only living soul left in that collapsing building.

Deathly Hallows - Page 550 - British Hardcover

I noticed that it says the portion of Voldemort's soul latched onto Harry's soul, but it does not specify in canon that the two souls assimilate one another, as opposed to co-existing (aside from Dumbledore saying, 'To speak of one [Harry] is to speak of the other [Voldemort].')

When delivering the Kiss would a Dementor be able to tell there was a portion of another person’s soul along with the victim’s own soul? If not -- based on what we know about the Dementors’ Kiss, Horcruxes, and the soul from canon -- could the Dementor destroy the Horcrux portion of the soul while leaving the victim’s original and untainted soul untouched and intact? Or would both portions of both souls be sucked out by the Dementor?

From the King's Cross chapter in Deathly Hallows we know it is possible for the Horcrux portion of attached souls to be destroyed while the other part lives. Based on what we know from canon could the Dementors' Kiss be a means of destroying a Horcrux?

Related question HERE. (What effect would the Dementors' Kiss have on Voldemort prior to the destruction of his Horcruxes?)

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I don't know, are souls destroyed by a Dementor? Digested? Stored? – AncientSwordRage Jan 11 '12 at 20:37
In the first section I quote, Lupin points out that Dementors utterly destroy their victims and that the soul is gone forever. – Slytherincess Jan 11 '12 at 20:49
If you don't know a quote that answers this, who else would? – sbi Jan 13 '12 at 8:03
@sbi - I never ask a question I already know the answer to. Everyone here knows exactly as much about the Dementors' Kiss and Horcruxes as I do :) – Slytherincess Jan 13 '12 at 16:16
I'm gonna say that the Dementor's Kiss is a piss-poor way of getting rid of a Horcrux. It's not like Dementor Bob will suck out the Horcrux and be all, "Huh. I'm full." No, he'll just nom the rest of you as well. – Steam Oct 17 '12 at 14:19
up vote 14 down vote accepted

I'm going to go with yes.

First, evidence that the soul would be (effectively) destroyed comes from Lupin's quote:

your soul is gone for ever ... lost

Now, the question is whether the dementors could suck the foreign soul out:

they clamp their jaws upon the mouth of the victim and – and suck out his soul

Now, I'm going to go (a bit) out on a limb and say the Harry in the King's Cross Station chapter was really just his soul. The fragment of Voldemort's soul was there just as Harry was. So I'd say that the two souls inhabit the body in the same manner and so can be removed in the same manner. We know a dementor can suck out the primary soul within a body, so I think from this we can infer that a dementor could in fact extract the fragment of Voldemort's soul from Harry, destroying the horcrux.

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Great, now all Harry has to do is find a friendly and cooperative dementor to help him extract the foreign soul without harming him :) – Voldemort Jan 16 '13 at 4:00
I laughed. Not sure if it was because of the comment, or because of the name of the person who commented it xD – Oak May 10 '14 at 23:04
This answer is missing a very crucial point that, in my view, causes it not to actually answer the question as asked, namely that Harry was not a Horcrux. The bit of Voldemort’s soul that was in Harry had just ‘latched on’; it hadn't been Horcrucified in, as it were. I agree completely that a Dementor could quite easily have sucked out the piece of Voldemort’s soul that Harry's lugging around; but that doesn't necessarily mean it could have done the same to an actual Horcrux. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 22 at 18:13

In HP and the Deathly Hallows, when Hermione is talking about means of destroying a Horcrux, she says the following:

"It has to be something so destructive that the Horcrux can't repair itself."

And then she also states

"Our problem is that there are very few substances as destructive as Basilisk venom, and they're all dangerous to carry around with you. That's a problem that we're going to have to solve, though, because ripping, smashing or crushing a Horcrux won't do the trick."

Now, as you have quoted Lupin

"I suppose there must be some kind of mouth under there, because they clamp their jaws upon the mouth of the victim and – and suck out his soul."

If we can assume that sucking the soul is somewhat similar to it being ripped out from the body, then we can say that the Dementors' Kiss will not destroy a Horcrux.

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I like your answer a lot! I think where my question comes in is regarding the ripping/sucking of the soul. Would it not depend on what is done with the ripped or sucked-out soul? One can rip their soul by murder, but they don't have to make a Horcrux. They could live with their torn soul inside. Or they could make a Horcrux, which is a protective vessel. When a Dementor sucks out the soul it destroys the victim; somehow the Dementor is digesting the soul and its appetite is insatiable, which suggests Dementors don't store souls in reserve to feed on later. Thoughts? :) – Slytherincess Jan 13 '12 at 16:13
Correct, it would matter what is done with the ripped out soul.. I think that when the soul is ripped out by the dementor it doesn't eat it.. I think it sucks the soul and sets it free.. So the soul is probably floating somewhere and not truly destroyed – Sriram Krishnan Jan 30 '12 at 7:10
@Slytherincess no the victim is not 'destroyed' they become comatose, as far as I can tell. And we don't know what dementors do to souls when they're nomed. We don't even know where in a person/horcurx the soul is, and it may not even be retrievable in that manner. – AncientSwordRage Sep 8 '12 at 23:19

‘They call it the Dementors’ Kiss,’ said Lupin, with a slightly twisted smile. ‘It’s what Dementors do to those they wish to destroy utterly....suck out his soul.'

See the bold line, here. While it's true that a Dementor won't necessarily be attracted to a Horcrux (for a Horcrux is a piece of soul that does not have happiness for a Dementor to drain), that doesn't necessarily mean that a Dementor wouldn't be capable of doing so. It's not impossible to negotiate with a Dementor; we know this already, because of the way the Ministry negotiated with the Dementors to get them to guard Azkaban. If we assume that the Dementors are sentient enough to be negotiated with in the same way in the case of Horcruxes, then if one gave a Dementor the incentive to perform the Kiss on a Horcrux (for example, the reward of however many criminals in Azkaban, perhaps, as an example only), then I find it quite plausible that the Dementor's Kiss could be performed and could result in the death of a Horcrux.

We must examine the workings of a Horcrux itself, of course. A Horcrux relied on its physical form to survive; without it, the Horcrux would die. If you recall:

I could run you through and through with a sword right now, and your soul would still be completely intact.

Thus meaning, if a Horcrux was provided with a secondary form to attach to after its first form was destroyed (as one did, when Voldemort's body was destroyed when Harry first defeated him), it's /possible/ that it would then take that form. This means that a Dementor could, potentially, play host to a Horcrux, in the same way that Harry played host to a Horcrux. A Horcrux is different to a soul in that it is only a piece of a soul; that means that we must question if a Dementor, after absorbing a soul, makes it so that the Dementor itself becomes a kind of Horcrux for the person whose soul they absorbed.

If a Dementor could become a form of a Horcrux for any person that it destroyed, that would mean that all of the prisoners the Ministry had a Dementor perform the Kiss on are still anchored to the world, half-alive, because the Dementors are acting as the bodies for those peoples' Horcruxes, when in reality their Horcruxes give a soul that is completely whole, meaning that they're extensively completely themselves inside a Dementor, trapped inside the Dementor's body. But let's not get into that possibility.

Another relevant quote from Lupin:

'....And your soul is gone for ever ... lost.’

This means that the souls have disappeared from the Earth forever. It's impossible for them to come back. So most of what I just typed above is completely wrong, according to this quote. Then again, Lupin could be equally wrong, for all we know. However, if the soul is completely gone and disappears after a Dementor performs a Kiss on it, then I find it quite possible - likely, in fact - for a Dementor's Kiss to be lethal to a Horcrux.

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I certainly don't think Harry would be game to try.

It's open to much speculation, but I would say if a dementor got hold of Harry and tried to Kiss him, both Harry's soul and the bit of Voldemort's would be sucked out and destroyed.

However, remember that Dumbledore's plan was for Voldemort himself to try to kill Harry, and for Harry to willingly sacrifice himself to that end. By offering himself as a sacrifice, Harry re-charged the bond tying him and Voldemort together through Harry's blood and the magic Lily used to protect him, thus tying Harry to life while the bit of Voldemort's soul was blasted away.

If a dementor had Kissed Harry, or if Harry had died any other way, then yes the Horcrux would be destroyed. But Dumbledore's plan, despite all appearances at the time, was to de-Horcrux Harry WITHOUT killing him.

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Right, I'm totally aware of Dumbledore's plan -- my question was more along the lines of magical theory -- If X happened, what would Y be? I wasn't suggesting that Harry voluntarily submit to the Dementors' Kiss to try and rid himself of the Horcrux. :) – Slytherincess Jan 11 '12 at 20:57
"Dumbledore's plan... was to de-Horcrux Harry WITHOUT killing him" And the Dementor's kiss doesn't kill. Problem solved. – Kevin Jan 11 '12 at 21:14
Right, I understand that, but my question isn't about killing Harry or anybody else. It's about the effect the Dementors' Kiss would have on a Horcrux contained in a living person, Harry or otherwise. I have edited the title of my question for clarification. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. :) – Slytherincess Jan 12 '12 at 14:22

This would certainly be a very risky way to destroy a Horcrux. For one thing, I don't think that anyone's going to be able to fool a dementor into Kissing an inanimate object, like the other Horcruxes, (Gwid made a good point there) so this is probably only something that could be used on animals, magical creatures, and humans. There is, of course, the fact that you can't really control a dementor...but fiendfyre is cited as a way to destroy Horcruxes, and Hermione says that she would never have suggested they use it because of how difficult it is to control--we see how well that worked for Crabbe. You'd have to be able to speak Parseltongue to control a Basilisk, and I guess there really isn't a way you could "harness" the ability of a dementor to suck out a soul the way they are able to use to detatched Basilisk fangs.

Then there is the question as to whether or not the soul of the carrier who has been made into a Horcrux, like Harry, would lose their soul or that of the Horcrux. I would say that Harry's soul and Voldemort's soul fragments are separate, not merged, because Dumbledore says that part of Voldemort's sould "latched itself on to" Harry', would Harry's sould or Voldemort's go first? That's where there's really the risk...does Harry have a "primary" soul and then a "secondary one"? Maybe since Voldemort's soul latched onto his own, it's sort of like that one is "on the exterior" in a manner of speaking, and it would be destroyed first, being why Voldemort was able to remove the Horcrux part of Harry without killing and damaging Harry and his soul. But, this could have only been because it was Voldemort killing Harry and Harry sacrificing himself. Then again, Avada Kedavra shouldn't destroy your soul at all, so that must have been a special circumstance. Which leads us to what's unique about the dementor's Kiss.

I would have to go with what Lupin says, asserting that the dementor's Kiss destroys a soul, and it is then lost forever. This sounds pretty much like what you want to happen when you destroy a Horcrux. The dementor doesn't release the soul so it's floating around somewhere, it completely gets rid of it. So that means that the dementor's Kiss should, in theory, be able to destroy a Horcrux. The risk is whether or not the dementor would destroy a living Horcrux before the soul of that living thing, and then, anyway, there's nothing to stop the dementor from going on to suck out the second soul, too.

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In the books, there are two opposite ideas outlined:

  1. Soul retained, if sb dies ("taking a train" to afterlife or becoming a ghost)
  2. Soul (fragment) destroyed, if the horcrux holding it is destroyed (opposite to living container)

Unfortunately, Rowling makes a contradiction:

Ron: "Isn't there any way of putting yourself back together?"

Hermione: "Yes, but it would be excruciatingly painful."

Harry: "Why? How do you do it?"

Hermione: "Remorse. You've got to really feel what you've done. There’s a footnote. Apparently the pain of it can destroy you. I can’t see Voldemort attempting it somehow, can you?"

And Harry to Voldemort:

try... be a man... try for some remorse. It's your one chance. It's all you've got left.

How on earth can Voldemort's soul be put back together, if all his horcruxes are destroyed, thus also the soul fragments in it?

The only plausible explanation is that the pieces aren't lost forever, they are just hiding somewhere in an 'outer void' out of Voldemort's reach, until he shows remorse.

Lupin about dementor's kiss:

You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no...anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just — exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever... lost.

So, I think if dementor sucks a soul out from a person (or a living/not-living horcrux I think, if it would want to, cause its still holding a piece of soul), it goes to a similar 'outer void'. If it is the same 'void', then Voldemort could still repair his soul, after dementor has sucked all the fragments out of the 7 horcruxes, by showing remorse. But if it is another 'void', then the fragment really is 'lost forever'.

What I would have done if I were Dumbledore, is that when I find a horcrux, then let a dementor suck the soul fragment out, thus the item itself is retained (don't have to physically destroy it). Of course I wouldn't trust it to do it on Harry, cause what's an angry severed soul next to a happy whole one.

If the kiss would be performed on Voldemort, then it could be even better fate for him that he finally experienced: we don't know if his soul fragment would suffer in that 'void' [but probably would, because a soul fragment without body always seems to experience pain - be that when floating around in Albanian forest, or eternally suffering in King's Cross limbo; the pain is reduced when it finds a host - mouses were bad; snakes better, because he understands them; Quirell even more better, but still weak (had to drink unicorn blood); and painless when in its own body]*

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If used on Harry, the Kiss would suck out his soul and the fragment of Voldemort's attached to it. But if Voldemort made a horcrux out of a living being--which he did--then the Dementor's Kiss would suck out Nagini's soul and not Voldemort's. The Kiss does not harm the body of the Kissee, just the soul. The Voldemort inside horcruxes depends on the body, just the soul.

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Do you have a reference for this? Some passage in a book, or a quote from an interview or something? – phantom42 Aug 25 '15 at 13:42

A dementor might be able to suck the soul out of an inanimate object like the locket, or nagini, but remember during the book, when he's searching for the horcruxes, the dementors are on Voldemort's side; they wouldn't willingly destroy their boss, would they?

No. So the idea that the horcrux would be destroyed by a dementor is ridiculous and unlikely. Unless there are rogue dementors loyal to the original ministry. So the entire idea that a dementor would destroy a horcrux is almost impossible. Therefore this entire question has no meaning unless your asking it for educational purposes.

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