The question is kind of in the title. But, to extrapolate:

Why bother with having the whole fake Horcrux? The finale of Half-Blood Prince served many purposes already:

  1. It lead to Dumbledore's death (seemingly not by his design)
  2. Dumbledore's absence allowed the Death Eaters to enter the castle
  3. It explained a lot through Harry and Dumbledore's dialogue
  4. It gave Harry a chance to mature.

Why bother having Regulus take it beforehand? I think it still would've been a very important scene without that extra twist.

What was Rowling's thinking behind doing that? What did the fake Horcrux allow to happen or what did it set up in the novel?

  • 1
    You do know that Dumbledore was already dying, right?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 13:44
  • 4
    It leaves Harry and co with 4 (instead of 3) Horcruxes to hunt in the last book. Four Horcruxes to hunt leaves the trio with a lot more work to do by themselves, without any adult help, and it sets up the pace of DH better. It also contributes to a major portion of the plot development in Deathly Hallows.
    – Anya Mae
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 15:00
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    @vap78 how did you get 11k rep on a site PURELY about fiction with that attitude? Are all your answers "It's a book/movie/tv show/piece of fiction. Anything can happen"?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 9:09
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    Umm? Our disagreements about which site it suits does not make a question "opinion-based".
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 10:43
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    @user1167442 1) He already planned his death with Severus; that it happened that night isn't all that important as it was the end of the year; 2) Sure you could say that. Otoh the fact Draco used the vanishing cabinet in the Room of Requirement means that they would have made it into the castle anyway. You note the Order was there though, right? 3 and 4 seem to not be decent enough reasons as it stands. As for Regulus: maybe because it shows how he cares about his elf and also is disillusioned with the extent Voldemort goes ...continue
    – Pryftan
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 0:20

2 Answers 2


It advances the plot

It was mainly preparation for the seventh book. Slytherin's missing locket plays an important part in the final book of the series. It drives the plot forward: Kreacher's story, the breaking into the ministry, where the trio witnesses the world changed by Voldemort, the effect of the locket on the trio, the conflict caused by it and their efforts to destroy it. For me, those are the best scenes of the seventh book.

There were specific requirements, and none of the existing characters qualified

Okay, but why not use an existing character, and have him steal the locket? We already have enough of them, why develop one we barely heard about till now? Have Severus do it, sometime after the death of Lily.

There are several problems with this. If it was Snape who took the locket, it wouldn't fit into the already established chronology. Snape would have brought the locket to Dumbledore and they would have realized much earlier what it meant. A horcrux, and possibly even more than one. So Rowling needed a free agent. One who:

  • had inside access to crucial information, so a former Death Eater
  • was sharp enough to figure out what the info meant
  • then was capable to steal the locket away from Voldemort
  • but wouldn't bring it to Dumbledore
  • a stranger, but with connections to someone in Harry's environment.

And here we have Regulus' story. A Death Eater no more, but a renegade, trying to correct his mistake, doing his best to get the world rid of the Dark Lord. Having access to information and the brains to analyze it, but yet he wouldn't send Kreacher to the light side with the horcux, as he has no connection to the Order. It's understandable that Regulus would prefer to ask his faithful and obedient elf to destroy it. And he leaves a note in which he explains whose merit really was it. Who eliminated the Dark Lord? Not Sirius' crowd, those people for whom his heroic and loud big brother left the family in a huff, and his presence in Regulus' life amounted to that of a burnt hole in the tapestry, but he, the quiet, obedient Regulus, or rather the mysterious R.A.B, the lone hero. Silly behaviour? Yes, but also very convincing. Regulus at the time of his death was probably still in his late teens and had no one to ask for advice.

Regulus' story is important to bring the author's message across

I am still not convinced. A resourceful author like JKR could have found another way to take away the locket form Voldemort, without adding yet another angsty pureblood teenager to the mix. We already have Draco, right?

True, it is already evident by the examples of young Severus, Barty Junior and Draco how Voldemort's propaganda affects gullible teenagers who are in search of grand ideas to change the world and prove themselves. So what does Regulus' story tell us that Draco's doesn't about a boy who tries so hard to live up to the expectations of his bigoted family? After all, by the end of HBP we have a fairly good idea of Draco's circumstances and motivations. But Draco (thanks to Dumbledore and Snape) survived the war more or less intact, while Regulus had not. Looking at Grimmauld place with new eyes, through the POV of Kreacher and Regulus gives us a new perspective. We see how the war distorted the lives of generation(s), caused loss of lives, wasted potential and talent on both sides, all because of a twisted creature who spread hate, playing on feelings of prejudice and bigotry hidden in the hearts of people, bringing out the worst in them, just like Slytherin's locket did.

Draco survived, but both boys of the Black family, Regulus and Sirius, are dead.

Torturing the hero

But it's not fair. Hasn't Harry suffered enough? At least let him have the damn locket, to encourage him a bit. Why kick someone who's already down?

Authors usually are very cruel to their protagonists, they challenge the poor souls in every way they can, and JKR is a good example of this: How many deaths Harry witnessed lately? Cedric. Sirius. And now Dumbledore. And Harry is usually there, unable to save them. What's even worse, in Harry's opinion, Dumbledore died in vain, betrayed by a person he blindly trusted, as he was weakened by the enemy's sinister potion. And for what? Nothing. They didn't even get that accursed locket.

It's brilliant. Harry's despair is palpable towards the end of the book so it's even more admirable that he does not give up, but tries his best to complete the mission given to him by Dumbledore.

  • 5
    What i am doing? The last think i should do now is sit and post about HP, i have to leave now, already late but your Q was so interesting.... sorry, i'll finish the A later...
    – user68762
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 15:58
  • Haha! That is the best comment! I can relate. Also, a very good answer (so far?). Thanks!
    – dgo
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 17:26
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    This is a goddamn good answer! It really captures the sense I had through all of the books; that Rowlings genius was really in making every scene worthwhile. Even when employing Deus Ex Machina (e.g. Dobby saving everyone), it is earned. Furthermore, even scenes that are the result of previous scenes have consequences as well, (Bellatrixes wand, Lucious outcast further, Pettigrews semi-salvation, Etc.). I feel that she is an author who doesn't "cheat". Every time tension is resolved, there has been an event earlier that qualifies the saving character for showing up when he/she does.
    – dgo
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 16:26
  • @user1167442 Maybe it's me but I think all good authors do that; for a while I had the thought that 'everything happens for a reason in HP' but then I gave it more thought and it's how it is in every book I've read and I've read a lot. Even in a story that is one book only things happen for a reason and the different parts of the plot all have some reason or sense to them if you think about it. The same is for HP. An example though i don't know if this was her thinking: Sirius's death because Harry had Hermione to bring some sense to in the treatment of elves and the critical Kreacher.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 0:28

What happened after the locket was shown to be fake?

The storyline involving the locket after discovering it was fake led Harry, Ron, and Hermione to find out about the locket from Kreacher, then Mundungus. They next had to go to the Ministry of Magic to retrieve the locket from Umbridge. Then they had to take turns wearing it to keep it safe, which was the catalyst to Ron leaving, because he couldn't handle the locket's influence on him. It then shows Ron's fears before he destroys it.

So, what did the locket being fake contribute?

Tracking it gave a look into how the Ministry ran under control of the Dark Lord.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione needing to retrieve the locket from Umbridge at the Ministry gave a plausible reason within the story for an inside look into how the Ministry was running now that the Dark Lord had taken it over. Once there, they could see how the Ministry had changed, becoming ruthlessly efficient, and having created a Muggle-born Registration Commission to keep track of the wizards born to Muggles. This gives a look into how the Dark Lord's regime would affect the wizarding world as a whole, instead of just Harry or members of the Order of the Phoenix. Seeing how he ran the Ministry showed a bit of how a world under the Dark Lord would look. Having a Horcrux be there provided a relevant reason for them to end up in the Ministry. The other Horcruxes that they were searching for, the cup and the diadem, were at Gringotts and Hogwarts, not the Ministry, and without a plausible reason it would seem odd to have Harry check in on the Ministry or to switch perspectives in the middle of the Horcrux hunt.

Could anything else have served the same purpose?

The diadem being at Hogwarts brought Harry, Ron, and Hermione to Hogwarts where the final battle would begin soon after, so its location was significant to the plot. The cup could have possibly been moved to the Ministry, with only the Gringotts break-in (a fairly unimportant piece of the plot) being removed, but then there would have to be a different yet still plausible explanation for how one of the Dark Lord's Horcruxes ended up in the Ministry - a place he had no personal connection to and would likely not have stored one of his Horcruxes on purpose. Having Regulus, who had been a Death Eater so would have inside knowledge, switch out the locket for a fake explains how someone would have found out about the Horcrux, been able to get past its protection, and switched it out. This also explains why something the Dark Lord would have guarded could have ended up at the Ministry, without him suspecting it was gone.

Its effects caused tension and infighting for Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Having to take turns wearing and guarding the locket had a negative effect on them, causing them to fight and creating friction between them. This tension causes Ron to leave, and he blames the locket's effects specifically for why he couldn't stay. Ron's departure gives us a chance to see how his absence affects the other two, especially Hermione, which also shows her feelings about him. When Ron returned, the locket then exposed his fears before he destroyed it with the Sword of Gryffindor, causing Harry to reassure him that he has no romantic interest in Hermione, and making it clearer that Ron was the one she'd end up with.

Could anything else have served the same purpose?

Probably, but not easily. Having them actually wearing the Horcrux gets it as close as it possibly could be to them, so that they also don't look too "weak" by being influenced by it. The locket was also the only Horcrux still active that could be reasonably worn (unless they were going to take turns wearing a tiara on their head during the Horcrux hunt - which would take away from the seriousness of the situation), so for having a Horcrux cause tension between the three of them, the locket was likely the easiest choice. In addition, having the tension caused by a Horcrux as opposed to them just being on edge largely absolves them of the responsibility for their behavior, keeping their personalities fairly untarnished, while still giving insight and developing the relationship between the three of them.

Less important: it gave Ron a chance to destroy a Horcrux.

Nagini was killed by Neville, Hermione stabbed the Cup with a basilisk fang, Crabbe accidentally destroyed the diadem, and the ring and diary had already been destroyed.

Could anything else have served the same purpose?

Yes. Ron could have possibly been given the diadem to destroy instead, without much difference. The characters who were intended to have the honor of the significant act of destroying a Horcrux still would have, and all that would need to happen is the diadem didn't end up destroyed in the fire.

It furthered our knowledge of Kreacher and explained Kreacher's loyalty to Regulus.

Having the locket be a fake set up Harry, Ron, and Hermione having to talk to Kreacher. They learned about the locket from Kreacher, and his story helped show that there are other house-elves unhappy with their lives, and Dobby wasn't as much of a rare case among them as Ron and Harry had previously believed. It also made Kreacher a more sympathetic character than he was before. Without this additional information, Kreacher would have remained a pest.

Could anything else have served the same purpose?

Yes, none of this by itself was particularly important to the plot. Regulus himself wasn't a unique character. Sirius Black had already been an example of how a child growing up in a pure-blood family can reject their family's beliefs, and Severus Snape was a former Death Eater who changed his mind and later chose to turn against the Dark Lord. Draco was another example of a young boy who came to regret joining the Death Eaters. The only part of his story that wasn't in anyone else's was that he considered his family's house-elf as a person worthy of equal treatment. His story does serve to explain Kreacher's actions, and also gives some support to Hermione's positions on house-elf treatment. In addition, this was part of how Harry was able to win Kreacher over, though his support isn't particularly significant to the plot.

  • 2
    Two of the events you have mentioned - 1. Tension between Ron, Harry and Hermione, and 2. Ron getting to destroy a Horcrux, could both have been achieved if they'd retrieved the original Horcrux from the cave and had failed to destroy it, and also had failed to find out how to destroy it, before Dumbledore died. As it happened, they realised that the Horcrux was fake only later, and Dumbledore was dead before passing on the knowledge of how to destroy Horcruxes.
    – Anya Mae
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 8:09
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    Apart from furthering the plot of the last book, I think it is also worth mentioning that Dumbledore having failed in retrieving one Horcrux, and being fatally injured by another, shows the trio (and the readers) the prospect of finding and destroying Horcruxes as a daunting and seemingly impossible task. (If Dumbledore died doing it, what chance did three teenagers have?) It makes the last book more thrilling, and the trio's accomplishment a much huger deal.
    – Anya Mae
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 8:15

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