In the King's Cross exchange(let's assume it was real), Dumbledore says that Harry has a choice to either get back or "board a train" and "move on".

If the snake were dead before Voldemort cursed Harry, we know for sure the curse would have killed them both. But Voldemort didn't die, and so, neither did Harry.

But did he actually have a choice in this situation? Voldemort "tethered" him to life while he lived, so wasn't it impossible for him to move on?

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    If the snake were dead before Voldemort cursed Harry, we know for sure the curse would have killed them both. ---- we know nothing of the sort
    – user46509
    Jan 21, 2016 at 14:09
  • @Radhil Not in the opposite case. He couldn't choose to die if Voldemort made sure of his survival(unknowingly).
    – cst1992
    Jan 21, 2016 at 15:52
  • Actually, it's impossible for Voldemort to kill harry. He also cannot kill anyone harry cares about. It's the same magic that Lilly used to save Harry during the First Wizarding War. The power of her love made him invunerable to his killing curse because she gave her life for him. The same deal happened with Harry, he gave his life so that the people he cared about wouldn't be killed, and thus, Voldemort cannot touch them. This is addressed in the books far more clearly. Jan 21, 2016 at 17:01
  • @Radhil the tether is to Voldemort, no nagini. Dumbledore wanted all the horcruxes destroyed before Voldemort could die, including Nagini.
    – user46509
    Jan 21, 2016 at 17:34
  • @AncalagonTheBlack Nagini is one of the Horcruxes. She didn't need all the others destroyed before she was killed; she was just the hardest to get to, being closest to Voldemort.
    – cst1992
    Jan 21, 2016 at 18:12

2 Answers 2


Well having read the seventh book several times, my understanding of the situation is this:

  • There were two souls within Harry; his own pure and complete and a part of Voldemort's soul that latched onto Harry when he survived Voldemort's Killing Curse as a baby.
  • As long as that soul stayed in Harry, Voldemort would not die.
  • In the forest, Voldemort directed a Killing Curse at Harry, without knowing about the part of his soul in him.
  • The Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra) kills the victim by destroying his/her soul. Hence, there is no other fatal injury caused by the curse. Just a bruise where the curse hits the victim.
  • So when the Killing Curse hits Harry, its a choice between which soul survives and which gets destroyed, Harry's pure unblemished one, or Voldy's fragment.
  • If Harry had chosen to move on, I believe his body would still be alive in the form of Voldemort's unintended Horcrux. So there would be two Voldemort's walking and talking, except one would be using (and in complete control of) Harry's body.

But as @cst1992 mentioned in the comments to the question, there is also the matter of the Elder Wand, which cannot kill Harry. Obviously the wand recognized that there was a fragment of another soul, apart from his own, within Harry's body and would have killed only that fragment. That choice between the two souls would only happen if Voldemort had used any other wand, apart from the Elder Wand.

There's also this business of Harry being tethered to life as long as Voldemort lives since Voldemort took Harry's blood during his resurrection to a full-bodied being.

So technically, Harry couldn't have "moved on" at all, since his soul was not harmed (and could not be harmed) in way at all.

I believe, in King's Cross, Harry's mind was clearing itself of Voldemort's soul and was able to think and reason clearly, without any worry or guilt or emotion to cloud his thoughts. There is no real new information which comes out. It's just Harry deducing everything for himself, with his image of Dumbledore helping him out. Which is why Dumbledore says :

“My dear boy, I have no idea. This is, as they say, your party.”

Of course, as to the existence of a "King's Cross",

“I think,” said Dumbledore, ”that if you choose to return, there is a chance that he may be finished for good. I cannot promise it. But I know this, Harry, that you have less to fear from returning here than he does.”

When Dumbledore talks about "returning here", maybe Rowling intended to show all magical folk go to their own "King's Cross" upon their deathbed.

P.S: Maybe we Muggles go there as well. There's no way of finding out for real of course!

  • Excellent answer. +1. I'm skeptical about the bruise, though, as it only happened to Harry the first time. The next time there was no wound; only pain at that spot. Also, on inspection, the three Riddles were not wounded at all, just dropped dead, and the magical world knew they were killed by the "perfect" Avada Kedavra curse.
    – cst1992
    Jan 22, 2016 at 5:24
  • Yeah the bruise was just speculation. All other times Avada Kedavra has struck, there's no commentary on any bruises, only talk of the person not being alive anymore. Jan 22, 2016 at 5:52
  • I think it's safe to say that a rebounding killing curse leaves a scar (not sure which bruise you're talking about?), but a successful one goes right through and leaves no mark or trace. There is also no indication that the Elder Wand could not kill Harry—it certainly could. At the end, when Harry doesn't want it to, it flies towards the master it would not kill; but in the forest where Harry fully intended to die, it would have killed him if it hadn't been for the double soul and tethering business. Mar 27, 2016 at 10:13
  • Also, I think you're misreading the “return here” bit. At least I've always read “here” to mean “in this case/situation” here (<-- like that one), that is, “You have less to fear here from returning”. Mar 27, 2016 at 10:16
  • @JanusBahsJacquet In the beginning of Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan), just as Harry returns to consciousness, it says ` Every inch of him ached, and the place where the Killing Curse had hit him felt like the bruise of an iron-clad punch.` Now while there is no examination of said place of impact, we can assume there might be some sort of bruising to cause the ache. Mar 28, 2016 at 7:38

I think it was Dumbledore's way of reminding Harry that, in the end, it is our choices that define us. For the same reason the sorting hat put Harry in Gryffindor even when it saw the heir of Slytherin sitting inside of Harry - Harry was choosing not to follow that path.

When Dumbledore wanted Harry to understand where the source of the power of the prophecy lay, he was adamant that Harry understood that even if he, Harry, had never heard the prophecy, because of mitigating events, Harry would have wanted to be the one to finish Voldemort. Riddle was held sway by the prophecy, not Harry.

It is the same with the choice to continue 'on', or return to finish Voldemort. Dumbledore knows Harry's character. He knows that Harry would feel that he HAD to return and finish it out of a sense of obligation, being that he was the 'Chosen One'. But, again Dumbledore wanted to remind Harry that he did have a choice in the matter and that he could essentially 'board a train' and continue on to the 'next great adventure'.

It is another testament to Harry's character that he chose the harder path and returned to finish the fight.

  • My question lies a level below that. I am not asking "Would Harry choose to move on? I'm rather asking COULD he. I am thinking he couldn't, even if he had wanted to. The argument If Harry had chosen to move on, I believe his body would still be alive in the form of Voldemort's unintended Horcrux. So there would be two Voldemort's walking and talking, except one would be using (and in complete control of) Harry's body. is a valid one, but still, the Elder Wand won't kill its own master.
    – cst1992
    Mar 27, 2016 at 7:26
  • I understand your question. But, my point is that nothing would be able to tether Harry's soul here once he had made the choice to go on. His body would remain, and Voldemort's piece of soul might be able to use it, but Harry would cease to exist on this world's plane. The soul is the true essence of an individual. The body is only it's house.
    – Jinoshio
    Mar 27, 2016 at 7:47
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    @cst1992 I don't believe there is any evidence that the Elder Wand won't kill its own master if the master wants it to. Possibly really in any situation where it gets the chance. If it were a general refusal, Harry would never even have made it to King’s Cross: Voldemort’s killing curse would simply have killed the fragment of his soul in Harry's body and Harry would have been immediately unharmed. The fact that King's Cross happened means that the killing curse hit both souls in there equally, and a choice had to be made. Mar 27, 2016 at 10:19

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