12

Did Voldemort ever show concern about the conversation that he had with Slughorn (as a young Tom Riddle) about Horcruxes? Did he ever feel the need to kill Slughorn? Is this the only known conversation Voldemort ever had with someone, on the Dark side or not, about Horcruxes?

There are numerous times that Voldemort has shown oversight - is undervaluing the importance of this conversation another one of those times?

  • 2
    When we first meet Slughorn, he's so paranoid that Death Eaters are out to get him that he's trashed his house and disguised himself as a sofa. I can't remember whether Death Eaters ever actually did try to kill him or not - I'll have to re-read the chapter - but Slughorn certainly thought they might do. – F1Krazy Jan 3 at 16:42
8

It doesn't look like Voldemort ever saw Slughorn's memory as a concern.

As Bellatrix says, Voldemort could probably expect Slughorn not to tell anyone about the memory since he had sworn Voldemort to secrecy himself.

"But all the same, Tom...keep it quiet, what I’ve told - that’s to say, what we’ve discussed. People wouldn’t like to think we’ve been chatting about Horcruxes. It’s a banned subject at Hogwarts, you know..."
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23, Horcruxes).

I think that Voldemort would've assumed that Slughorn would be too ashamed or intimidated to willingly choose to share his memory with anyone. He was apparently correct in this assumption; Harry only acquired the memory after severe coercion (plying Slughorn with liquor etc.). Voldemort's arrogance also lead him to the conclusion that, should anyone come to know that Slughorn knew him during his schooldays, Slughorn would protect him - either out of loyalty or fear.

Moreover, the actions of both Voldemort and Dumbledore indicate that Slughorn was never a viable target because of the memory.

Voldemort never tries to attack Slughorn. Even when he hires a Hogwarts student to try and carry out an assassination, targeting Slughorn never enters into the equation. Dumbledore is the sole target. It's true that Slughorn was given poisoned mead by Malfoy. However, Malfoy was clearly targeting Dumbledore and only saw Slughorn as a middleman.

“I’ve got butterbeer, I’ve got wine, I’ve got one last bottle of this oak-matured mead...hmm...meant to give that to Dumbledore for Christmas...ah, well...” He shrugged. “He can’t miss what he’s never had! Why don’t we open it now and celebrate Mr. Weasley’s birthday?"
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18, Birthday Surprises)

"No harm has been done, you have hurt nobody, though you are very lucky that your unintentional victims survived...I can help you, Draco.”
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 27, The Lightning-Struck Tower).

If Voldemort had viewed Slughorn as a threat of any kind then he would've killed him - either in person or by sending an assassin. After all, Slughorn is presumably a much easier target than Dumbledore, who he was aiming to kill throughout Half-Blood Prince. Yet Voldemort seemingly has no concern in attacking Slughorn.

Indeed, when Dumbledore talks about the idea of Death Eaters visiting Slughorn he envisages them recruiting him, not attacking him.

“So, all these precautions against intruders, Horace...are they for the Death Eaters’ benefit, or mine?” asked Dumbledore.
“What would the Death Eaters want with a poor broken-down old buffer like me?” demanded Slughorn.
“I imagine that they would want you to turn your considerable talents to coercion, torture, and murder,” said Dumbledore. “Are you really telling me that they haven’t come recruiting yet?”
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4, Horace Slughorn).

Slughorn's panicked reaction when he hears Harry and Dumbledore approaching his house may indicate that he is afraid of Voldemort, possibly because of the memory. He does go on the run when he hears that Voldemort is back. Yet there's no indication that Voldemort made any approach to Slughorn after his return and the fact that Dumbledore believed that Slughorn would sooner be turned than killed indicates that he himself believed that Voldemort wasn't likely to kill Slughorn over the memory.

This, I think, is the strongest proof that Voldemort never wanted to kill Slughorn (apart from the fact that he never attempted it). Dumbledore apparently never took any precautions to protect Slughorn. Dumbledore was well aware of the importance of the memory and yet made no attempt to protect Slughorn during the events of Order of the Phoenix.

Slughorn eyed Dumbledore balefully for a moment, then muttered, “I haven’t given them the chance. I’ve been on the move for a year. Never stay in one place more than a week. Move from Muggle house to Muggle house — the owners of this place are on holiday in the Canary Islands — it’s been very pleasant, I’ll be sorry to leave. It’s quite easy once you know how, one simple Freezing Charm on these absurd burglar alarms they use instead of Sneakoscopes and make sure the neighbours don’t spot you bringing in the piano.”
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4, Horace Slughorn).

Slughorn has to spend his life on the road. Dumbledore could've offered him the protection of the Order if he'd wanted. Yet he leaves Slughorn very much to fend for himself. Slughorn was on his own throughout Order of the Phoenix, leaving the crucial information of the memory seemingly undefended. Dumbledore must have been confident that Voldemort wasn't going to target Slughorn or he would've offered him protection a year earlier. (It's true that Voldemort was operating in the shadows that year so assassinating Slughorn may have been risky. Nevertheless, it would surely have been a risk worth taking if the secrecy of the Horcruxes was at stake).

When Slughorn does belatedly decide that he would benefit from Dumbledore's protection it is again a lack of loyalty to the Death Eaters which he thinks may make him a target, not the memory.

“Well, yes, it is true that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has never sought a fight with Dumbledore,” he muttered grudgingly. “And I suppose one could argue that as I have not joined the Death Eaters, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named can hardly count me a friend...in which case, I might well be safer a little closer to Albus...I cannot pretend that Amelia Bones’s death did not shake me...If she, with all her Ministry contacts and protection...”

It therefore seems likely that Voldemort deemed that Slughorn would never disclose the memory to anyone, and acted accordingly by leaving Slughorn alive. Dumbledore did believe that Slughorn would share the memory under the right circumstances but judged correctly that Voldemort wasn't a threat to Slughorn because of the memory (even if he might have wanted to recruit Slughorn for other reasons).

Voldemort never discussed Horcruxes with anyone other than Slughorn. He gained most of the information which he needed about Horcruxes from books and only approached Slughorn because he wanted to know what the books wouldn't tell him - what would happen if you made more than one Horcrux.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Tough decision but I am giving the check mark to this answer. I had forgotten the Slughorn Death Eaters storyline and it does reveal a lot between the lines. Two great answers though. – atw Jan 23 at 21:27
12

Slughorn also wanted to keep the secret.

The Dark Lord wouldn’t have had much reason to be concerned about Slughorn telling others that Tom Riddle had asked him about Horcruxes, since Slughorn told him to keep it quiet - Slughorn didn’t want anyone finding out that they’d talked about Horcruxes any more than the Dark Lord himself did.

“Of course,’ he muttered, ‘this is all hypothetical, what we’re discussing, isn’t it? All academic …’

‘Yes, sir, of course,’ said Riddle quickly.

‘But all the same, Tom … keep it quiet, what I’ve told – that’s to say, what we’ve discussed. People wouldn’t like to think we’ve been chatting about Horcruxes. It’s a banned subject at Hogwarts, you know … Dumbledore’s particularly fierce about it …”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

Because it was a secret conversation, the Dark Lord had no reason to think that Dumbledore would suspect that Slughorn had any information on his Horcruxes. Additionally, when he realized his Horcruxes were in danger and Harry sees his thoughts, the Dark Lord suspects only Dumbledore and Harry - he does not consider Slughorn possibly being involved.

“Alone amongst the dead, he stormed up and down, and they passed before him in vision: his treasures, his safeguards, his anchors to immortality – the diary was destroyed and the cup was stolen; what if, what if, the boy knew about the others? Could he know, had he already acted, had he traced more of them? Was Dumbledore at the root of this? Dumbledore, who had always suspected him, Dumbledore, dead on his orders, Dumbledore, whose wand was his now, yet who reached out from the ignominy of death through the boy, the boy –
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 27 (The Final Hiding Place)

Therefore, he didn’t seem to suspect, and had no particular reason to, that Slughorn had any involvement.

The Dark Lord likely never spoke of them otherwise.

There are no other known conversations that the Dark Lord had with anyone else, none are mentioned in the books or as additional information. Further, it seems unlikely that he had any other conversations about Horcruxes that are never mentioned. Other than asking Slughorn years ago as Tom Riddle, it seems that the Dark Lord never spoke of Horcruxes, including among the Death Eaters. When he summoned them to the graveyard, he only says that one of his experiments had worked.

“I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost … but still, I was alive. What I was, even I do not know … I, who have gone further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality. You know my goal – to conquer death. And now, I was tested, and it appeared that one or more of my experiments had worked … for I had not been killed, though the curse should have done it.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

Even Lucius, who was entrusted with guarding a Horcrux, was never told what it actually was.

“No doubt he thought that Lucius would not dare do anything with the Horcrux other than guard it carefully, but he was counting too much upon Lucius’s fear of a master who had been gone for years and whom Lucius believed dead. Of course, Lucius did not know what the diary really was. I understand that Voldemort had told him the diary would cause the Chamber of Secrets to reopen, because it was cleverly enchanted.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

He also went to check on and increase the security of his Horcruxes alone when he suspected they were in danger.

“But to be sure, to be utterly sure, he must return to each of his hiding places, he must redouble protection around each of his Horcruxes … a job, like the quest for the Elder Wand, that he must undertake alone …”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 27 (The Final Hiding Place)

Though Regulus realized that the Dark Lord had created Horcruxes, J.K. Rowling explained in an interview that he figured out oblique hints from the Dark Lord - the Dark Lord never told him.

James Farrell: Voldemort never told anyone about his horcruxes, so how on earth did regulus black discover his secret

J.K. Rowling: Horcrux magic was not Voldemort's own invention; as is established in the story, other wizards had done it, though never gone as far as to make six.

J.K. Rowling: Voldemort dropped oblique hints; in his arrogance, he did not believe anybody would be clever enough to understand them.

J.K. Rowling: (He does so in the graveyard of Little Hangleton, in front of Harry). He did this before Regulus and Regulus guessed, correctly, what it was that made Voldemort so convinced he could not die.
- Bloomsbury.com (July 30, 2007)

Therefore, it seems very likely that the Dark Lord never spoke of Horcruxes to anyone, including his followers.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Brilliant answer which I will probably accept but what is another life to Voldemort? Albeit "magical blood". – atw Jan 3 at 17:12
  • 2
    @atw That’s exactly it - he gives the teachers a chance to surrender, including those obviously against him, and Slughorn is a pure-blood and more manipulable than many of the others. “I know that you are preparing to fight.’ There were screams amongst the students, some of whom clutched each other, looking around in terror for the source of the sound. ‘Your efforts are futile. You cannot fight me. I do not want to kill you. I have great respect for the teachers of Hogwarts. I do not want to spill magical blood.” - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts) – Mal Jan 3 at 17:34
  • 5
    Um, Voldemort doesn't have any qualms whatsoever in spilling magical blood, when he thinks it's necessary or useful or he's in a rage or he just feels like killing somebody. That about “great respect for the teachers” is clearly just something he said as propaganda. Voldemort never showed any real respect – except maybe for Salazar Slytherin, and in a sense for Dumbledore. – leftaroundabout Jan 4 at 0:34
  • @leftaroundabout The Dark Lord is willing to kill when necessary, useful, or out of rage, but he does indeed consider it important to preserve magical blood as his intention is to build a society with wizards as the ruling class. He and the Death Eaters express the intention of preserving magical blood several times throughout the war (though they do sometimes spill it anyway). While it is unlikely that he truly respected the teachers, he likely wanted to avoid killing them if possible. – Mal Jan 4 at 2:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.