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First, I understand that Voldemort wanted to use the Stone to restore him to normal life. But what I don't get is - why does he want to use the Stone for that?

He had a wizard servant at his disposal, like he had with Pettigrew later, and he had his Horcruxes in place. Why did he bother with the Stone? He could just have made Quirrell perform Pettigrew's job without the need to move to Hogwarts, which would eliminate all the risks of being discovered that would bring.

Since Quirrell met Voldemort on a journey, he could just have never returned from that journey and most (with the possible exception of Dumbledore) might just suspect some tragic accident; so that way of resurrection could be performed in complete secrecy - while dwelling in Hogwarts, with hundreds of wizards and witches (most underage, but including several skilled teachers and Dumbledore) seems much more risky to me. Why did Voldemort take that risk?

Two unconvincing ideas I had:

  • The reason could be that there was no way to get hands on Harry. However, as Voldemort mentions to his Death Eaters after his resurrection, he could have used any wizard or witch that still hated him. True, he would not have the special effects of Harry's blood, but that's also true if he had used the elixir.

  • Quirrell might be unable to perform the ritual. That seems unlikely, since Quirrell isn't depicted as a great wizard, but neither is Pettigrew, who's an awful wizard and could do the job.

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    Maybe he thought the ritual was risky. After all, he once already followed unchecked instructions written in a book to achieve immortality, and what was the result? A pathetic shadow-form blown by the wind screaming all the way to Albania. The stone is neat, and judging by Nicholas Flamel & wife it works – user68762 Sep 6 '17 at 22:11
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The ritual was his backup plan, after he knew he couldn't get the Stone.

The Dark Lord's original plan, and the plan he preferred, was to steal the Philosopher's Stone. He only decided to use other methods after he knew there was no chance that he could get it.

“There was no hope of stealing the Philosopher’s Stone any more, for I knew that Dumbledore would have seen to it that it was destroyed. But I was willing to embrace mortal life again, before chasing immortal. I set my sights lower … I would settle for my old body back again, and my old strength.” - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

It's clear he considered the Stone, which also provides immortality, to be superior to other methods of restoring himself that didn't assure him immortality.

Also, he was stronger and more able before the ritual than when he was possessing Quirrell.

Even using unicorn blood, while possessing Quirrell, the Dark Lord was very weak.

“I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost … but still, I was alive.” - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

Before he did the resurrection ritual, he had already regained some of his strength and was in a rudimentary body of his own, as opposed to needing to rely on possession. He and Wormtail used a potion with unicorn blood and venom from Nagini (a type of snake he might not have had access to while in ghost form possessing Quirrell) to strengthen him and give him his own form, though not a full one.

“However, he was the able-bodied servant I needed, and, poor wizard though he is, Wormtail was able to follow the instructions I gave him, which would return me to a rudimentary, weak body of my own, a body I would be able to inhabit while awaiting the essential ingredients for true rebirth … a spell or two of my own invention … a little help from my dear Nagini’ – Voldemort’s red eyes fell upon the continually circling snake – ‘a potion concocted from unicorn blood, and the snake venom Nagini provided … I was soon returned to an almost human form, and strong enough to travel.” - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

He was then stronger, could wield a wand, and had his own form that could be placed in the cauldron to return him to a proper body.

  • But... Why... ? – TGnat Sep 7 '17 at 1:44
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    @TGnat The Philosopher's Stone assured the Dark Lord of immortality, something the resurrection ritual did not. He tried to steal the Stone because he considered it the best way to achieve what he wanted - certain immortality. – Bellatrix Sep 7 '17 at 2:55
  • +1. This also explains Big V's later obsession with the Deathly Hallows. As he couldn't cheat death using the Philosopher's Stone, he moved on to plan B -- cheat death with the Deathly Hallows. – tonysdg Sep 7 '17 at 2:58
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    @tonysdg Voldemort had no plans involving the Hallows. He wanted the Elder Wand, because he believed it was more powerful, and would get past the Twin Core issue. But it is made apparent that he isn't even aware of the other Hallows, nor using them. His Horcuxes are his method to Cheat death, and they're (until late in Deathly Hallows) still in tact – DariM Sep 7 '17 at 5:04
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    From the last quote, Voldemort also says that the rebirth rituals required "a spell or two of my own invention". He doesn't state when he created those spells (or how much time it took him), so it's perfectly possible that, at the time of Harry's first year, the ritual wasn't possible at all, because of the missing spells. – frollo Sep 7 '17 at 16:41

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