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Specifically, I'm thinking of the Deathly Hallows and their age.

I have a vague memory of either Ron or Hermione commenting on it being unusual that Harry's Invisibility Cloak has worked so well for so long, that the magic normally fizzles out after a few years, once the heard the story about the Deathly Hallows.

What I don't remember was how specific it was to that type of magic.

Should the magic used in creating it have worn off over time? Offhand, all I can think of that couldn't have been renewed regularly are the horcruxes and their protections - which may have just been powered by the piece of soul in them.

If it should have worn off, did (at least one of) the creators of it figure out how to make the magic permanent, like the Deathly Hallows are?

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There seem to be two sides to this coin, there are some examples of magic wearing out after a period of time, and several examples of magic not wearing out after a period of time. The Marauder's Map seems to fall into the latter of these categories, presumably lasting for generations to come.

Examples of magical items that wear out after a period of time include:

  • Most: Invisibility Cloaks
  • Some: Wands (see Ron's borrowed wand from Charlie).
  • Most: Brooms (see school brooms, and again the Weasleys)
  • Special cases: Professor Slughorn tells Harry that when Lily Potter died, the enchanted fish that she gave him as a present also vanished. Additionally, when Dumbledore dies, the spell that he has on Harry also stops. This does not seem to be the case with the Marauder's Map however, as it is still working at the end of the series (according to JKR) despite all of its creators being dead.

Despite these examples though, the majority of items seem to maintain their spells, and in fact quite a lot of items seem to increase in magical power with age, kind of like aged wine:

  • Most: Cursed/Dark items seem to last an exceedingly long time, if not indefinitely. Indeed Burgin and Burkes operates by collecting and selling nefarious and ancient items. Further evidence towards this is that Bill Weasley works as a curse-breaker in ancient Egypt, breaking curses from ancient tombs. These cursed items also seem to increase in magical power as they age, or at least the implication in the books is that "ancient curses" seem more potent than more recent ones.
  • Some: Potions have the quality of increasing in potency the longer they are left. (The obvious example is the love potion meant for Harry that Ron drank).
  • All: Goblin-wrought items seem to have properties that make them near indestructible. In fact there are several examples of indestructible Goblin-Wrought items: the Sword of Gryffindor, and the Goblin-Wrought Helmet that Hagrid gave to the giants. Goblin-made items are also said to "imbibe only that which makes them stronger", meaning that again we have an example of items that with age, will increase in power.
  • Special Items:
    • The Sorting Hat seems to be very ancient with the appearance of great wear, but it seems doubtful that it won't last for a very long time still.
    • The Mirror of Erised again seems to be a very ancient magical device.
    • The Sorcerer's Stone also presumably would have lasted a long time had it not been destroyed, as it granted "imortality" to the drinker.
    • Arthur's Ford Anglia, while not a perfect example, does indeed last for quite a while, and one could even argue that the way that it seems to develop a "consciousness" is evidence towards its magical properties increasing.
    • The Deathly Hallows - These magical items also seem to maintain their spells, until destroyed at least.

All of the above has simply been evidence towards varying degrees of magical "wear-ness". We've seen items fade over time, but most items seem to maintain their spells until destroyed, or until disenchanted.

We know that the Marauder's Map lasted long (relatively) after all of its creators were dead (as JKR has said in an interview that Harry's son James had nicked it from him and was using it while he attended Hogwarts). We also can suspect that the creators intended for the Marauder's Map to continue to be used by individuals after them. This may not be obvious, but since they require the user to "solemly swear that they are up to no good", and declare when their "mischief" is "managed", it seems likely that they intended that the Map be able to be used by other "mischievous" students.

As such I think it is safe to assume that the Marauder's Map falls into the category of magical items that maintain their magic, presumably indefinitely.

  • Definitely much more thorough.. And although I could nitpick apart most of it, the school brooms (completely forgot about them) and Sorting Hat (didn't think of since I tend to consider it sentient, rather than a magical item) are definitely reasons for the answer to be "no". +1, and I'll accept soon unless someone else comes up with something better. – Izkata Aug 21 '12 at 22:53
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    I think the bit about Frances the fish given to Slughorn by Lily was created solely for Half-Blood Prince the movie. – Slytherincess May 1 '13 at 6:18
  • Could also include the Sticking Charm (used on some portraits and photographs). – Möoz Apr 10 '14 at 22:35
  • Maybe brooms, wands, etc. wearing out is planned obsolescence. – immibis Jan 17 '16 at 0:47
  • Is it just me or are we all forgetting that "The Deathly Hallows" cloak that Harry owns, is a part of "DEATH's" actual cloak. He is an immortal being with immense powers, don't think he wears just normal silk. It will have to take an extremely powerful wizard to even scratch the cloak much less destroy it. – Johan Pretorius Apr 21 '16 at 7:56
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Most magic that isn't instantaneous is permanent. Disillusioning and similar spells (usually used in the creation of invisibility cloaks) is the exception - these spells have to constantly adjust and interact with living creatures. A spell that, for example, expands the inside of a Muggle car is comparatively simple - the car simply has more room inside.

It seems that, even with magic, nothing is free - the power it takes to camouflage someone who is under one of the invisibility spells seems to degrade the spell over time. Similarly, an invisibility cloak that is struck by a curse can be damaged, and the damaged area no longer provides invisibility.

Harry's cloak is special, being a Hallow. The enchantment placed upon it is very powerful, making the cloak invisible effectively forever, and it seems to be resistant to at least some spells. I doubt that it would resist if any of the serious wizards had tried to damage it, but it is obviously resistant to simple wear & tear.

The Marauder's Map, however, does get damaged. It is showing wear and tear, and looks very raggedy. It's also considerably less complex than an invisibility cloak - it simply maps the insides and grounds of the castle (not easy, since it's unplottable, but not a difficult piece of magic) and displays the locations and names of the inhabitants. It's just speculation, but I would assume the map simply relays the information, which is gathered by a spell cast over the castle & grounds itself (James & crew could have done this intentionally, so that their spell would be refreshed whenever the Unplotting spell was). I'd be interested in seeing if the map would work if you were a significant distance from the castle.

So, in short, the Map is completely unrelated to the Hallows, excepting in that they are both rather cleverly constructed. And there's no more reason that the map's magic should 'wear off' than there is reason for the Weasley's car to suddenly lose the extra space.

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    I think it is about the power taken to maintain the spell, against the original power. For the Hallows, the power was immense, so there was no notable degrading. For the map, the power needed to maintain was little, so there was no substantial degrading. At least not that we know of - it may have originally been more powerful in ways that are not mentioned. – Schroedingers Cat Feb 14 '12 at 16:03
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    It's the nothing is free part that gets me. The spell that makes the inside larger than the outside could wear off in a few years, and have to be renewed/refreshed, we just never saw it in the book. Is there a source somewhere (a line in a book I'm forgetting, a Rowling interview, something?) that actually says most non-instantaneous magic is permanent? – Izkata Feb 14 '12 at 23:58
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    Don't have a book on me, but didn't Harry watch Ginny's dot on the map while they were off searching for Horcruxes (Which would mean it would work a long way from the castle)? Or am I just trying to make Harry into a creep? =P – Windle Jun 12 '12 at 16:47
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    @Windle - That happened. – Dason Aug 21 '12 at 20:12
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Did they rediscover magic that had been forgotten for ages? No. I gave this answer to my own question asking what kind of magic was used to create the Marauder's Map, and I'll leave it here. It's new information from Pottermore (5/1/13)

According to J.K. Rowling on Pottermore, the following type of magic was used to create the Marauder's Map:

The magic used in the map's creation is advanced and impressive; it includes the Homonculous Charm, enabling the possessor of the map to track the movements of every person in the castle, and it was also enchanted to forever repel (as insultingly as possible) the curiosity of their nemesis, Severus Snape.

POTTERMORE - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Book 3 - Chapter 10
HARRY POTTER WIKIA - Marauder's Map - VERIFIED

The magic was advanced and impressive, but J.K. Rowling doesn't seem to suggest it was a rediscovered form of magic that had gone overlooked for eons, that was then used to create the Marauder's Map. Nor should it be considered impervious. Invisibility Cloaks can lose their powers (the Hallow cloak is "of a uniquely durable nature" but it is not said to be indestructible - see The Tale of the Three Brothers in Tales of Beedle the Bard).

Should the Homonculous Charm have worn off? That information isn't available; J.K. Rowling doesn't expound on what type of magic the Homonculous Charm represents, except to say that it is a tracking charm. It's possible the magic of the Marauder's Map might have eventually worn off. After all, if a Hallow can possibly lose its magic, a map certainly might as well. I'll reiterate: It's possible. I'm not saying it's definite.

There is magic that may not fade due to time alone: The Unbreakable Vow; some forms of Transfiguration; binding magical contracts (the Goblet of Fire/Triwizard Tournament); entrail-expelling charm (presumably this would be permanent); Avada Kedavra (fairly obvious); Evanesco (vanishing charm); the Fidelius Charm (possibly); the Geminio Curse (causes objects to multiply when touched) ... etc. See The Encyclopedia of Spells at the Harry Potter Lexicon for more ideas.

As we don't know if the magic in the map is indestructible or impervious, it cannot be said that the magic in the Marauder's Map is permanent.

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