J.K. Rowling confirms that Dumbledore knew the destroyed diary was the remains of a Horcrux;

JKR: "In essence divided," exactly, the "essence" being the soul. So Dumbledore knew all along that he must have- well, he suspected until Chamber of Secrets, and then at the point where he saw what was clearly the remains of a Horcrux, in other words, the diary, he thinks, "Okay. There you go. And not only has he definitely done it, but he's got to have more than one, because he's treated this one very casually."


Yet Dumbledore allows Harry to take this very dark magical artifact and return it to Lucius Malfoy (in order to free Dobby):

‘Professor Dumbledore,’ he said hurriedly, ‘can I give that diary back to Mr Malfoy, please?’

‘Certainly, Harry,’ said Dumbledore calmly. ‘But hurry. The feast, remember.’

Harry grabbed the diary and dashed out of the office.

Chamber of Secrets - page 248 - Bloomsbury - chapter 18, Dobby's Reward

Why did Dumbledore allow Harry to take the Horcrux before he had fully examined it, especially as Dumbledore knew it was a Horcrux? The Peverell ring had a lethal curse placed on it for anyone who tried to put the ring on. Why didn't Dumbledore check the diary for additional curses or Dark Magic before giving it to Harry? I would have thought Dumbledore would have wanted to keep whatever Horcrux relics he found.

Also, do we know what happened to the diary after Harry gave it back to Lucius Malfoy and Lucius threw it aside? Are there any instances in canon that place the diary back in Dumbledore's hands?

  • Lucius threw the sock aside, not the book. "Mr Malfoy ripped the sock off the diary, threw it aside, then looked furiously from the ruined book to Harry." Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 11:01

4 Answers 4


Dumbledore is pretty much one of the smartest, most cunning wizards around.

  • Even without the Legilimency, he probably figured out WHY Harry wanted to do this. Remember, he's one of the rare Wizards who DOES see and "know of" house-elves. He explicitly criticizes Voldemort for that, and he was the one telling Sirius to stop mistreating Kreacher.

  • And even if he didn't, he was willing to trust Harry's brain, instincts and courage in pretty important things (like thwarting Voldemort at the end of Year 1). It was 100% obvious that Harry had a plan, so why stop him when he's likely to succeed?

  • 4
    I think you make the most important point of all -- Dumbledore trusts Harry. And, IIRC, Dumbledore felt Harry had earned all the opportunities he had to fight his own battles. :) Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 16:46
  • If there might be curses on it, why would it matter if he knew what Harry wanted to do with it, or he trusted Harry?
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 6:59

Why did Dumbledore allow Harry to take the Horcrux before he had fully examined it, especially as Dumbledore knew it was a Horcrux?

No further examination was necessary:

  • Voldemort gave the diary to Lucius (Dumbledore knew that). So it made no sense to put a curse on it (why curse whoever is supposed to take care of your diary? ;D)

So if the diary has no soul and no curse, it is quite useless. What the heck - let Harry do whatever he wants with it. I doubt that Dumbledore would care about keeping relics... sure, he kept the ring, but he knew the ring was also a Hallow.

Also, do we know what happened to the diary after Harry gave it back to Lucius Malfoy and Lucius threw it aside?

I don't know about that, but:

  • If Filch took it, he probably just threw it away along with all the garbage. I don't think that Dumbledore expected Lucius to throw the diary inside the castle (hey, Dumbledore pretty much lives there)
  • If an elf took it, he would probably give it to Filch. And then it goes to the garbage.
  • If a student took it, then they probably threw it away immediately: It was an empty old book. With a hole. And blood.
  • Or the student would have kept the book had they known the story about Harry's fight against the Basilisk. However, I think that no one knew very well those details anyway. Either that, or it was way too early for anyone to know about what was going on.
  • 4
    I dunno, if I found a book lying in the hallway with a hole through it, covered in blood, I would absolutely take it back to my dormitory to check it out. Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 15:51

There are a couple questions in there... For the one about why Dumbledore let Harry have the diary:

  • Harry had already handled and interacted with the Diary. Ginny had handled it and interacted with it even more. As Harry says in Deathly Hallows, "the bit of Riddle in the diary tried to kill me," but if there'd been any quick-acting curse as there was on the ring, it would've already hurt or killed Harry and Ginny long before the scene you're quoting.

  • Dumbledore's pretty sharp (oh, yeah, and an accomplished legilimens), so he probably had a good idea of what Harry was planning.

That leads into the last question: a quick "accio" (since the diary was no longer a horcrux) and Dumbledore would have the diary back in his office, where Harry sees it in the last movie.

  • From everything we saw during Harry's Occlumency lessons with Snape, I don't think even an accomplished Legilimens can go around delving into other people's minds without them knowing it's happening. Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 10:49

Dumbledore let Harry take the "dead" Horcrux because there was no other use for it anyway. It couldn't even be used as proof that the diary once had any magical power. When Harry explains to Lucius Malfoy (in front of Dumbledore) that he believes Malfoy himself had placed the diary in Ginny Weasley's possession, Malfoy replies: "Prove it." To which Dumbledore adds, "Oh, no one will be able to do that. Not now that Riddle has vanished from the book." The diary, at this point, was just a piece of junk. It would have made a better Portkey than a specimen for experimentation. Dumbledore had gleaned everything he needed to know about it from Harry's story, that it might have been a Horcrux. So Dumbledore just let Harry have it.

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