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So, here's the hypothetical: if a wand is targeted at its owner (particularly using the Avada Kadavra or any spell that is insta-kill), will it kill the owner? And, if not, would it backfire upon the wielder to a certain extent or not at all? One of the main reasons I ask this is to understand the exact reason as to why Harry managed to stay alive when Voldy tried to kill him in the Forbidden Forest. I do know that the main canonical argument is that it was due to Harry having Voldemort as a semi-horcrux, but some also give the fact the Elder Wand was Harry's some credit as well. So to what extent does a wand pointed at it's owner have?

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  • Ron eat slugs'd himself with his broken wand.
    – Valorum
    May 9, 2020 at 22:03
  • True, but it wasn't necessarily lethal, and perhaps him being the owner could have caused something different as well. And, I would like to think that's a special case due to the obvious malfunctioning state of his wand.
    – John Lucas
    May 9, 2020 at 22:56

2 Answers 2

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Using a wand to cast a spell at the wand's owner may have limited results.

‘You see?’ screeched Voldemort over the tumult. ‘Harry Potter is dead by my hand, and no man alive can threaten me now! Watch! Crucio!’

Harry had been expecting it: knew his body would not be allowed to remain unsullied upon the Forest floor, it must be subjected to humiliation to prove Voldemort’s victory. He was lifted into the air, and it took all his determination to remain limp, yet the pain he expected did not come. His glasses flew off and he felt his wand slide a little beneath his robes, but he kept himself floppy and lifeless, and when he fell to the ground for the last time, the clearing echoed with jeers and shrieks of laughter.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - chapter 36 - The Flaw In The Plan

In this quote we can see that the Cruciatus Curse was able to lift Harry in the air, although Lord Voldemort was using the Elder Wand, currently mastered by Harry, to cast it (though the expected pain did not come).

A wand may harm its owner to an unclear extent.

Voldemort is also using the Elder Wand - the wand that is really Harry’s. It does not work properly against its true owner; no curse Voldemort casts on Harry functions properly; neither the Cruciatus curse nor the Killing Curse. The Avada Kedavra curse, however, is so powerful that it does hurt Harry, and also succeeds in killing the part of him that is not truly him, in other words, the fragment of Voldemort’s own soul still clinging to his. The curse also disables Harry severely enough that he could have succumbed to death if he had chosen that path (again, Dumbledore says he has a choice whether or not to wake up). But Harry does decide to struggle back to consciousness, capitalises on Lily’s ‘escape route’, and pulls himself back to the realm of the living.
What exactly happened when Voldemort used the Avada Kedavra curse on Harry in the forest?

This makes it clear that it's not a simple case of "always fail or backfire", and that it's possible for a wand to harm its owner to some extent. However, it also seems to imply that most spells don't harm Harry due to the wand's true allegiance, and only something as powerful as the Killing Curse is able to injure him.

Do note that what occured when Lord Voldemort cast the Killing Curse on him in the forest is seemingly a combination of the two factors (Lily's sacrifice staying alive in Voldemort, and the Elder Wand being mastered by Harry), and it's never been outright stated if the Elder Wand being loyal to Harry would be sufficient enough on its own to protect him that night.

These kind of things have been described as un-scientific:

It is important to state that I always saw these kinds of magic (the very deepest life and death issues) as essentially un-scientific; in other words, there is no “Elder Wand + Lily’s Blood = Assured Survival” formula.
What exactly happened when Voldemort used the Avada Kedavra curse on Harry in the forest?

Also, (to my knowledge) we haven't seen any other examples of this, so it's unlikely you're going to get a more specific answer in regards to how much a wand can harm its owner. But from the second quote it does seem like a wand will harm its owner less, but sufficiently powerful spells may harm the wand's owner anyway, though to a lesser extent than they would normally. However, it's likely that this heavily depends on the circumstances and aspects such as the wand's loyalty, and isn't just dependant on one factor.

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According to what is known about wandlore in the Harry Potter franchise, the belief is that "the wand chooses the wizard". Harry Potter overpowered Draco Malfoy during the escape from the Malfoy Manor by taking his wand, and in doing so, the Elder Wand (which he won by disarming Dumbledore) changed allegiance over to Harry. Wands will not harm the wizard or witch it has chosen, but it will either backfire on the user or the spell cast will not have any effect on the one it recognizes as its true master.

Potential Spoilers Ahead

‘You still don’t get it, Riddle, do you? Possessing the wand isn’t enough! Holding it, using it, doesn’t make it really yours. Didn’t you listen to Ollivander? The wand chooses the wizard ... the Elder Wand recognised a new master before Dumbledore died, someone who never even laid a hand on it. The new master removed the wand from Dumbledore against his will, never realising exactly what he had done, or that the world’s most dangerous wand had given him its allegiance ...’ Voldemort’s chest rose and fell rapidly, and Harry could feel the curse coming, feel it building inside the wand pointed at his face. ‘The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy.’ Blank shock showed in Voldemort’s face for a moment, but then it was gone. ‘But what does it matter?’ he said softly. ‘Even if you are right, Potter, it makes no difference to you and me. You no longer have the phoenix wand: we duel on skill alone ... and after I have killed you, I can attend to Draco Malfoy ...’ ‘But you’re too late,’ said Harry. ‘You’ve missed your chance. I got there first. I overpowered Draco weeks ago. I took this wand from him.’ Harry twitched the hawthorn wand, and he felt the eyes of everyone in the Hall upon it. ‘So it all comes down to this, doesn’t it?’ whispered Harry. ‘Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does ... I am the true master of the Elder Wand.’ A red-gold glow burst suddenly across the enchanted sky above them, as an edge of dazzling sun appeared over the sill of the nearest window. The light hit both of their faces at the same time, so that Voldemort’s was suddenly a flaming blur. Harry heard the high voice shriek as he, too, yelled his best hope to the heavens, pointing Draco’s wand: ‘Avada Kedavra!’ ‘Expelliarmus!’ The bang was like a cannon-blast and the golden flames that erupted between them, at the dead centre of the circle they had been treading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air towards the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last. And Harry, with the unerring skill of the Seeker, caught the wand in his free hand as Voldemort fell backwards, arms splayed, the slit pupils of the scarlet eyes rolling upwards. Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snake-like face vacant and unknowing. Voldemort was dead, killed by his own rebounding curse, and Harry stood with two wands in his hand, staring down at his enemy’s shell.

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  • But was it not so that the main reason Harry won the final duel was because his wand had both Harry's amazing courage and the skill that it had absorbed from Voldemort that one night in Goblet of Fire? I do think that the Elder Wand wouldn't have killed Harry, although this may not be the best example. More depth may be needed, but as a recent user, not too bad. Thanks for the answer!
    – John Lucas
    May 9, 2020 at 23:02

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