How could Voldemort's soul survive in Harry's body as a Horcrux for 17 years, when Lily's protection stopped Quirrell from being able to touch him while being possessed by Voldemort?

  • Why do you believe that Voldemort's soul survived in Harry's body as a horcrux?
    – Martha
    Jul 7, 2017 at 16:58
  • Wasn't Harry the final horcrux Martha? Jul 7, 2017 at 17:01
  • @Martha - there was a fragment which was pretty widely discussed in the finale of Deathly Hallows, whether it "counted" as a Horcrux has been debated, but Dumbledore certainly believed it would function like one. So yeah.
    – Radhil
    Jul 7, 2017 at 17:03
  • 2
    @MagikarpMaster No
    – tobiasvl
    Jul 7, 2017 at 19:07

3 Answers 3


Please note the following answer is speculation based on the available material.

It is worth noting that the protection spell, whilst powerful, was not one of the stated ways that one could destroy an horcrux. It was a powerful protection spell, and capable of causing Voldemort great harm, but it was never described as being capable of destroying an horcrux.

Additionally, it is worth noting that according to JK Rowling, Quirrel was a "temporary" horcrux. With that in mind, it is safe to say that he was not a full horcrux, nor was he granted the typical protections that an horcrux has. This can serve to explain why Harry was able to kill Quirrel, but was unable to destroy other horcruxes with his bare hands.

With all this in mind, it is entirely possible that the part of Voldemort's soul that was trapped in Harry spent 17 years in unending agony.

Again, this answer is not explicitly supported by the canon, but the evidence we have available certainly does not rule out this possibility.

  • 4
    Harry was not a "full" horcrux either. And he didn't have the typical protections of other horcruxes. But I like the explanation that the part of Voldemort's soul trapped in his body spent 17 years in unending agony.
    – user85637
    Jul 7, 2017 at 17:39
  • Following the same logic, the part of Voldemort's soul in his regenerated body, should also be tormented since he used Harry's blood to regain his body, and imbibed Lily's protection through it.
    – user85637
    Jul 7, 2017 at 17:45
  • Harry did not have the typical protections of other horcruxes, but he did have the protection of Lily's protection spell. He was the thing that the spell was protecting, so it would be weird if it harmed him. Furthermore, the point of using Harry's blood was so that Voldemort would not longer be harmed by the protection spell, but there is no reason to assume that the soul fragments in the horcruxes would also gain this newfound immunity. Jul 7, 2017 at 18:40
  • Harry didn't kill Quirell
    – user13267
    Jul 10, 2017 at 9:42
  • Didn't Quirell die for Harry's touch? It's been a while since I read the book but I am almost certain that that is what happened. Jul 10, 2017 at 10:21

Lily's protection only caused agony, not outright destroy the person as per https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/7956/20672:

So I see two important points here. First, Harry didn't so much physically destroy Quirrell as cause him unbearable agony. And yes, I remember that this caused physical burns on Quirrell, but I don't think it would have destroyed him to the extent one would have to on order to destroy a horcrux.


And consider the part of Voldemort's soul that was inside Harry. If any of the horcruxes would have been destroyed by Harry's touch, would have been that one.

As per @Magikarp Master's answer, it's possible that part of the soul was in agony the whole time, although Voldemort himself didn't notice it (he didn't feel the destruction of the diary either). That piece of the soul definitely seemed to be suffering when described in Deathly Hallows:

All was hushed and still, except for those odd thumping and whimpering noises coming from somewhere close by the mist...


He recoiled. He had spotted the thing that was making the noises. It had the form of a small, naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed-looking, and it lay shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuffed, out of sight, struggling for breath.


He was distracted by the whimpering and thumping of the agonised creature behind them and glanced back at it yet again.


Harry’s touch wasn’t lethal to the Dark Lord - it was just painful.

Touching Harry didn’t kill the Dark Lord, nor was it impossible for him to touch Harry. It causes extreme pain, but is possible and not instantly lethal. Quirrell is physically able to grab onto Harry’s wrist - the sacrifice protection doesn’t actually stop Harry from being touched by the Dark Lord or those he possesses.

“Harry sprang towards the flame door, but Voldemort screamed, ‘SEIZE HIM!’ and, next second, Harry felt Quirrell’s hand close on his wrist.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)

Though touching Harry when possessed by the Dark Lord causes Quirrell extreme pain and burns, it is possible for him to do it, and neither he nor the Dark Lord immediately die from the effects of it. Quirrell died from the burns that he got, not just from touching Harry.

“Quirrell rolled off him, his face blistering too, and then Harry knew: Quirrell couldn’t touch his bare skin, not without suffering terrible pain – his only chance was to keep hold of Quirrell, keep him in enough pain to stop him doing a curse.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)

When the Dark Lord was sharing Quirrell’s body, touching Harry caused Quirrell burns, which then resulted in his death. Harry’s touch isn’t likely to kill a soul piece. Furthermore, the soul piece isn’t a human body, so couldn’t get burned in the same way, and may not even be able to feel pain. The protection wouldn’t have destroyed the soul piece, because all it does is cause the Dark Lord or whoever he possesses extreme pain on touching him, it doesn’t destroy them outright, so wouldn’t destroy the soul piece in him either.

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