Narcissa lied regarding Harry's life.

Why didn't Voldemort notice?

  • Maybe Narcissa was well-trained in Occlumency, which is possible since her sister actually was (Bellatrix taught Draco). But if that's the case, is there any proof in the books?
  • Maybe Voldemort was not paying attention? Perhaps, Legilimency requires concentration? But I don't think this is the case anyway: I really doubt Voldemort would not pay attention to such important question.
  • Maybe Voldemort was dizzy/ weak from whatever happened when he attacked Harry? Dunno.
  • The Harry Potter wikia on Narcissa basically says the same thing as the first two bullet points in the question, but without references.
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 1:03
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    Obviously he couldn't, or he'd have killed her on the spot, so the answer to the title of the question is a clear "no". Then you asked a secondary question in the body - "why didn't he notice" and provided all the logical answers. I don't think there's much to do to answer this except google for a canonical answer source... Really, if I were to guess, I'd think it was a combination of all three of your suggestions. At any rate, since you provided your own answers, is this really a question? Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 1:04
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    @DavidStratton: I could not tell if my answers were right, therefore, I asked if they were right.
    – Saturn
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 1:09
  • OK. I think all of your answers are perfectly logical. Ten bucks says Slytherincess knows a documented answer. Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 1:10
  • I'm fairly certain legilimency requires active concentration, maybe even spellcasting.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 1:28

4 Answers 4



  • Voldemort didn't understand the power of a mother's love and how it could put a stopper in death (as Snape would say)
  • Voldemort thought himself "most important and precious"; it would not occur to him that Narcissa might value Draco's life more than his.
  • Voldemort never for one second imagined that Narcissa would dare to lie to him.
  • Not understanding he had bound his own life to Harry's when he took Harry's blood with Lily's enchantment to use in the resurrection potion, Voldemort had no reason to think Harry would survive Avada Kedavra. He was overly confident of his omnipotence and woefully ignorant of the power of love and Lily's enchantment.
  • Voldemort was revolted by and feared death; he would not approach a corpse, much less touch one, for the purpose of determining life. He would have wanted to believe Narcissa.
  • Voldemort hurt Narcissa; combined with the hurt and pain Voldemort had caused Lucius Malfoy and Draco, Narcissa may have been so angry that it spurred her Occlumency (if she employed it) to be stronger.

I keep revisiting Voldemort's overall mindset and psychopathy.

But surely if the boy had destroyed any of his Horcruxes, he, Lord Voldemort, would have known, would have felt it? He, the greatest wizard of them all, he, the most powerful, he, the killer of Dumbledore and of how many other worthless, nameless men: how could Lord Voldemort not have known, if he, himself, most important and precious, had been attacked, mutilated?

Lord Voldemort - Deathly Hallows - chapter 27 - The Final Hiding Place

What Voldemort didn't understand is a mother's love for her child. He, as Tom Riddle, was not enough to keep Merope Gaunt's will to live alive. No matter how odious one might think Draco Malfoy is, Narcissa is Draco's mother, and she loves him beyond any measure. Her concern is no longer for Voldemort, the war, the Death Eaters, or her side winning. Her sole concern was for the safety of her child, her only child who, remember, Voldemort sent on a death mission, fully expecting Draco to be killed, in Half-Blood Prince.

I deduce that Voldemort, not understanding love at all, much less the specific love a mother has for her child(ren), never for one second imagined that Narcissa would dare to lie to him about something as hugely significantly as whether or not Harry Potter was alive or not. As noted in the quote above, Voldemort thought himself alone "most important and precious"; therefore, I don't think it occurred to him that another might not feel the same way, that someone else might value another person more than they valued Voldemort. I feel this is highlighted by this next passage:

‘And his knowledge remained woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.'

Albus Dumbledore - Deathly Hallows - chapter 35 - King's Cross

Not understanding that he himself had bound Harry to life when he took Harry's blood (with Lily's enchantment in it) in Goblet of Fire, Voldemort would have had no doubt that he had killed Harry when he cast Avada Kedavra and Harry fell to the forest floor.

‘Think back. Remember what he did, in his ignorance, in his greed and his cruelty.’ [...] ‘Precisely! He took your blood and rebuilt his living body with it! Your blood in his veins, Harry, Lily’s protection inside both of you! He tethered you to life while he lives!’

Albus Dumbledore - Deathly Hallows - chapter 35 - King's Cross

Voldemort was revolted by and fearful of death; he would not approach a corpse, much less touch one for the purpose of determining life. He would have wanted to believe Narcissa when she said Harry was dead.

‘You,’ said Voldemort, and there was a bang and a small shriek of pain. ‘Examine him. Tell me whether he is dead.’

Deathly Hallows - chapter 36 - The Flaw in the Plan

Voldemort hurt Narcissa physically. Coupled with what Voldemort had done to Lucius Malfoy and Draco and physical pain, Narcissa may have decided to employ Occlumency. The only issue I have with the Occlumency theory is a skilled Legilimens can tell when someone is blocking them out via Occlumency.

'[...] don’t look at me like that! I know what you’re doing, I’m not stupid, but it won’t work – I can stop you!’

There was a pause and then Snape said quietly, ‘Ah ... Aunt Bellatrix has been teaching you Occlumency, I see. What thoughts are you trying to conceal from your master, Draco?’

Deathly Hallows - chapter 15 - The Unbreakable Vow

I tend to think that Narcissa was not employing Occlumency.

I think that Narcissa acted on impulse, that it wasn't something she even thought about doing until Voldemort hexed her and told her to go check Harry for signs of life. Between where she was sitting and the time she reached Harry's body (probably mere seconds) she decided that if Harry were alive, and could confirm Draco was alive as well, she would lie to Voldemort. When she did, Voldemort did not sense it was a lie for the reasons outlined above, nor did he try and check whether Narcissa was lying or not.

Yet another example of Voldemort ignoring the obvious in favor of what he valued.

  • 4
    You wrote, "Voldemort had no reason to think Harry would survive Avada Kedavra" - Why would he bother to ask it, then? I think he actually had every reason to think that Harry Potter may somehow -still- be invincible. Harry did survive all of Voldemort's deathly attacks for years, either "direct hits" or others. Since Voldemort made a series of Horcruxes, and, failed to kill Harry in a series of most serious attacks (made by the "most powerful wizard of all time"!), it's logical to think that Harry may have a series of anti-death protections, just like him. Add prophecy.
    – n611x007
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 20:33
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    @naxa a series of protections? On a boy? When the great Voldemort has masterfully countered his puny mother's 'love', the only thing that ever dared to stand in his way? Impossible! He merely checks for completeness, to verify the answer he already knows to be true!
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 23:02
  • Voldemort is also a skilled Legilimens, yet he's never found out that Snape lied to him about his loyalty. What the talk of Snape with Malfoy demonstrates is that Snape, being unable to find something he was interested in, simply replied to Malfoy's exclamation of "I can stop you!". Moreover, his knowledge that it was Bellatrix who taught Malfoy Occlumency may be the result of overcoming Malfoy's efforts, so Malfoy may just be not too proficient in Occlumency.
    – Ruslan
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 18:49
  • The only issue I have with the Occlumency theory is a skilled Legilimens can tell when someone is blocking them out via Occlumency. I disagee - maybe a skilled legilimens can detect amateur occlumency, but my headcanon is that skill in occlumency would persuade someone of an alternate reality, disguising the truth rather than simply concealing it. Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 19:48

I almost feel like he was so certain of Harry's death that he didn't send Narcissa to check for confirmation. He sent her as a show, to prove his power. Her saying, "he's dead" would be something for him and his followers to revel in. To make it real. To reiterate his power.

I doubt he checked her using Legilimency. He probably didn't find it important enough to focus on. His certainty was his downfall. The boy was truly dead, he'd done it himself; why should he take the time to check if Narcissa was lying? Why spoil the moment with using a lie detector on her?

Again, just my opinion. Often those in positions of power can get such a swelled head or so drunk on said power/success, they can make fatal mistakes.


I spoke in another answer about why Voldemort's spells, such as the full Body Bind curse, didn't work properly at the end of the book.

Perhaps none of Voldemort's spells worked properly, from the moment of Harry's sacrifice onwards. That would mean that even if Voldemort attempted Legilimency on Narcissa, the spell wouldn't have had enough effect for him to detect anything. Perhaps he tried, didn't detect anything, and assumed he was still tired from his collapse; but since Narcissa said he'd won, he didn't worry about it.

This involves some speculation, of course, but that Voldemort's spells didn't work properly after Harry's sacrifice is fact, shown in the book and later explained by Harry.


Snape explains some of the workings of Legilimency the first time he teaches Occlumencey to Harry. One of the things he says is:

"Time and space matter in magic, Potter." Eye contact is often essential to Legilimency."

So as long as Narcissa hadn't made eye contact with Voldemort while announcing Harry's death, Voldemort would likely not have been able to tell that she was lying.

Of course, if he really wanted to he could have forced her to make eye contact and then asked her again. However, that is already going quite far for simple confirmation that the Killing Curse worked. Moreover, it would probably have made him look weak and afraid. And there was always the possibility that even if he would force her to make eye contact she could employ Occlumency, so it wouldn't necessarily even help him.

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