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At the start of DH, Hermione tells Harry and Ron that she modified her parents' memories.

"I’ve also modified my parents' memories so that they’re convinced they’re really called Wendell and Monica Wilkins, and that their life’s ambition is to move to Australia, which they have now done. That’s to make it more difficult for Voldemort to track them down and interrogate them about me – or you, because unfortunately, I’ve told them quite a bit about you.

Assuming I survive our hunt for the Horcruxes, I’ll find Mum and Dad and lift the enchantment. If I don’t – well, I think I’ve cast a good enough charm to keep them safe and happy. Wendell and Monica Wilkins don’t know that they’ve got a daughter, you see." (DH)

So why would Hermione consider this necessary?

  • The Death Eaters are mostly purebloods who don't (want to) know much about the Muggle world. Even the halfbloods like Voldemort himself or Snape are probably out of date with modern life, so they would find it difficult to locate Hermione's parents, unless they had their address from the school or ministry records.

  • Her parents use a different name.

  • Her parents are on a different continent.

  • Her parents are not protected by that memory modification. If the Death Easters, against all odds, manage to find them, they won't believe them that they don't know about her daughter, and probably torture them to get the truth out, or just for fun.

  • What could her parents really tell Voldemort about Hermione or Harry that is not already known, unless she told them about the Horcrux mission?

  • The memory modification is supposed to be reversible. Voldemort even managed to recover the memories from Bertha Jorkins that Crouch wanted to remove permanently. So why does she think that if Voldemort manages to find them, he won't be able to lift the enchantment?

    Since comments raised the question whether Voldemort would be able to lift the enchantment, here the part where Barty Jr. talks about Bertha

    "Yes," said Crouch, his eyelids flickering again. "A witch in my father’s office. Bertha Jorkins. She came to the house with papers for my father s signature. He was not at home. Winky showed her inside and returned to the kitchen, to me. But Bertha Jorkins heard Winky talking to me. She came to investigate. She heard enough to guess who was hiding under the Invisibility Cloak. My father arrived home. She confronted him. He put a very powerful Memory Charm on her to make her forget what she’d found out. Too powerful. He said it damaged her memory permanently." (GoF)

    Although her memory is supposed to be permanently damaged, Voldemort still manages to extract the information from her.

    My master had found out that I was still alive. He had captured Bertha Jorkins in Albania. He had tortured her. She told him a great deal. She told him about the Triwizard Tournament. She told him the old Auror, Moody, was going to teach at Hogwarts. He tortured her until he broke through the Memory Charm my father had placed upon her. She told him I had escaped from Azkaban. She told him my father kept me imprisoned to prevent me seeking my master.

Therefor this memory modification doesn't protect Hermione's parents, and it doesn't protect the trio. Why did she do it anyway?

  • 3
    So that if they get caught, they won't be able to identify any of the places they went with Hermione? Her plan largely relies on apparating to obscure places that she knows from her childhood – Valorum Sep 25 '18 at 18:07
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    It's not really her plan, she just does it when she doesn't have time to think of something else. Still, Voldemort could have lifted the enchantment and have access to the information. – QuestionAuthority Sep 25 '18 at 18:11
  • I suspect you're over-estimating Voldemort's powers. Don't forget that even Dumbledore and the entire Ministry were unable to overcome some of the memory wipes that have occurred as a result of Lockhart's interference. – Valorum Sep 25 '18 at 18:14
  • @Valorum I added the quotes regarding Bertha Jorkins. It was within Voldemort's powers to break the Memory Charm on her. That doesn't mean that Bertha was sane after that, probably quite the opposite. – QuestionAuthority Sep 25 '18 at 18:32
  • As a followup, I seem to recall JKR relating after the fact that Hermione successfully went after her parents and restored their memories, yes? – VBartilucci Sep 26 '18 at 19:40
12

You must not have children of your own yet. The number one thing parents do is worry about their children, no matter how well they believe they've raised them. By not remembering that they have a daughter, they won't go through the rest of their lives with the emotional distress of not knowing what happened to their daughter, or even worse, knowing that she's now dead.

Wiping their memory of her was the kindest thing Hermione could have done for them.

  • 1
    I've been also thinking in that direction, but it's not the reason she gives. – QuestionAuthority Sep 25 '18 at 18:34
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    It would not only prevent them from emotional distress, it would prevent them from trying to find Hermione, or a way to contact her. They might not succeed, but such efforts just might expose them to Voldemort. Worse, if Hermione was actually using places she remembered from her childhood as the trio's hiding places, the parents might succeed, and Voldemort might follow them. – RDFozz Sep 25 '18 at 21:20
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    @QuestionAuthority, it is the reason she gives, or one of them - "well, I think I’ve cast a good enough charm to keep them safe and happy". – Harry Johnston Sep 26 '18 at 3:48
  • @QuestionAuthority I feel like that part of the reasoning is more or less implied. It's a bit like someone telling you why they like a particular food, and neglecting to mention that it prevents starvation. – Misha R Sep 26 '18 at 6:10
  • @MishaR Food prevents starvation, but that is just a reason to eat, not a reason to like a particular food, or any food. – QuestionAuthority Sep 27 '18 at 16:37
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I see two good reasons for the memory modification mentioned in the quote.

  1. so that they’re convinced they’re really called Wendell and Monica Wilkins

If Death Eaters are looking for Hermione's family, just about the only information they have to go on is their names. By forcing them to assume new identities she makes it a lot harder for anyone to track them down.

  1. If I don’t – well, I think I’ve cast a good enough charm to keep them safe and happy.

Hermione is preparing for the possibility that she will die. If she does die, her parents will be grief-stricken. Losing your only child is a pretty devastating blow. Hermione wants to save them from this pain and grief so she enchants them so that they won't remember that they have a daughter – thus, if she dies there will be no grief and pain for her parents.

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She did it to protect them. She erased herself from them completely so that Voldemort and the death eaters would have no reason to even go after them. Yes they could torment her parents but the reality is that if they don't know anything about her whereabouts then there's nothing they could get out of her. She would allow her parents to start a new life on a brand new continent away from all the magic and craziness that came from having her as a daughter. It was a way to remove them entirely from the situation. Also so that if she died searching for the Horcruxes or even fighting Voldemort then they wouldn't be affected by it. It was a way to cut all ties between them and the magic world. Allow them to be muggles.

  • As a practical thinking Sith Lord, you should know that the idea of giving Voldemort no reason to go after them would only work if Voldemort both knows that the memories are modified and doesn't think he can overcome the modification. I already pointed out that they don't know details about her whereabouts, so they couldn't tell anyway. I can understand her not wanting her parents to worry about her, but that's not the reason she gives, it's more of an afterthought, if she dies, her parents will never miss her. – QuestionAuthority Sep 27 '18 at 5:49

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