From Chamber of Secrets:

Harry wasn’t listening. He made a grab for the letters, but Dobby jumped out of reach.

“Harry Potter will have them, sir, if he gives Dobby his word that he will not return to Hogwarts. Ah, sir, this is a danger you must not face! Say you won’t go back, sir!”

“No,” said Harry angrily.

What would have happened if Harry had said yes, he wouldn’t go back?

Does Dobby have the power to stop Harry from going to Hogwarts?

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    I don't think promises to house-elves are legally binding. – ibid Apr 8 '18 at 5:06
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    Regardless, Malfoy didn't have anything to do with it. – Harry Johnston Apr 8 '18 at 7:53
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    I don't see how this is opinion based. The question can be reworded to "does Dobby have the power to stop Harry from going to school. – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Apr 8 '18 at 18:36
  • @TheAsh - I think if you remove the three questions and just leave it with "Does Dobby have the power to stop Harry..." it can be reopened. – Tim Apr 9 '18 at 1:50
  • @Tim fixed. mostly. – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Apr 9 '18 at 4:21

Dobby most likely had no power to hold Harry to a promise.

There’s no evidence that house-elves have the power to hold wizards to their word. Their masters can force them to obey by giving them a direct order, but there’s nothing suggesting that a promise to a house-elf is unbreakable or has negative consequences if broken.

It seems likely that the reason Dobby asked Harry to promise he wouldn’t go back to Hogwarts was simply because he trusted Harry would keep the promise if he made it. He had a very high opinion of Harry - he most likely presumed Harry wouldn’t make a promise he had no intention of keeping, and would either make it honestly or refuse to. (There’d still be the possibility of Harry intending to not go back and someone else, like Dumbledore, making him go back anyway, but Dobby might not have considered that.)


Harry could've broken his promise there's nothing legally binding about house elf promises in which case nothing much would have changed, except that dobby and harry might not have been such good friends later in the books.

Harry however does consider himself a man of his word and had he made the promise might well have kept to it. In this case a few things would have changed. Firstly harry would not have been accused of underage magic when dobby later levitates the cake, and he would have access to the letters his friends wrote. He probably would have told his friends about the whole affair, both Ron and Hermione would have then tried to convince him to go to Hogwarts anyway. If he had then things would continue much as normal.

Alternate universe in which harry is totally honour bond and not even the pleas of his best friends could make him brake his word: Ginny retakes the diary from the loo and dies releasing that portion of voldemorts soul, Hogwarts is closed therefore Sirius has a much easier time killing pettergrew. He then probably makes contact with harry.

Hogwarts would of course be closed and most witches and wizards would either go to different schools or the law would be relaxed slightly allowing for homeschooling.

Oh yeah and voldemorts soul fragment probably kills/recruits his main rival voldemort before trying to take over the world, and being beaten by harry (probably at a much later date as let's be honest teen emo voldemort has a lot more work to do than his older self to become dark lord.)

Most importantly of all vernon dursley gets a promotion at his job working with drills.

Crikey I need to go write this fan fiction now

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    I'd love to read that fan fiction, so please leave a link when you're done :D – BMWurm Apr 8 '18 at 17:37
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    Nitpick: I believe the law already allowed for homeschooling. That was only changed when Voldemort took over the Ministry. – Harry Johnston Apr 8 '18 at 23:18
  • But if underage wizards weren't allowed to do magic how was that supposed to work? – Ummdustry Apr 9 '18 at 9:23

Assuming that Harry had foreseen what will happen to himself, and didn't go to Hogwarts that year. Lucius would have snuck the diary on a student's cauldron(may not be Ginny) Remember, out of 7 of the Horcruxes, 6 of them was destroyed because of Basilisks venom.Book 2 is the single most influential event that lead to Voldemort's eventual downfall. If Harry had not meddle with Voldemort's memory, he would have risen from the diary and conquered the world, furthermore the almost dying old voldemort would have found another way to obtain Harry's blood, and he would be truly immortal. You can say Harry saved the world because he had defied Dobby and go to school with his favorite friends.

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