In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after Harry kills the Basilisk, one of the Basilisk's fangs becomes impaled in Harry's arm. Tom Riddle, who is still a memory from the diary Horcrux, mocks Harry and tells Harry he is going to die, and that Tom Riddle is going to watch. Fawkes comes along and heals the Basilisk wound with his tears. It appears, then, that Tom Riddle decides to kill Harry himself:

‘Phoenix tears ...’ said Riddle quietly, staring at Harry’s arm. ‘Of course ... healing powers ... I forgot ...’

He looked into Harry’s face. ‘But it makes no difference. In fact, I prefer it this way. Just you and me, Harry Potter ... you and me ...’

He raised the wand.

Chamber of Secrets - page 237 - Bloomsbury - chapter seventeen, The Heir of Slytherin

In chapter fourteen of Goblet of Fire, The Unforgivable Curses, Barty Crouch Jr as Mad-Eye Moody tells the fourth years that Avada Kedavra is a curse that requires "a powerful bit of magic behind it."

How could Tom Riddle, a memory, perform Avada Kedavra?¹ Yes, he uses Harry's wand to rearrange Tom Marvolo Riddle to I am Lord Voldemort earlier in the chapter, but there's a huge difference between rearranging letters and Avada Kedavra. Can a memory hold magic powerful enough to cast Avada Kedavra?

¹ The implication is Avada Kedavra. I seriously doubt Tom Riddle was about to cast Tarantallegra.

  • 9
    Riddle was becoming more and more solid as the chapter wore on. At that point, it is possible Riddle was real enough to cast it (or was being ambitious and trying to cast too early). EDIT: had some more regarding not using Imperius on Ginny (suggesting he can't do magic as pure memory) but then realised he needed some way of becoming solid again and that was Ginny. I suppose what I'm left with is: perhaps memory cannot but Riddle still could have, on account of being more real.
    – Mac Cooper
    May 5, 2014 at 15:40
  • I suspect if Avada Kedavra the only way to kill a wizard!
    – Tom Lynd
    May 5, 2014 at 15:52
  • 1
    @MacCooper - Can you tell me exactly where in the book it definitively states at what point Tom Riddle was "real" enough to cast magic? Regarding Imperius, I believe Tom controlled Ginny through possession, IIRC, because in Order of the Phoenix, Ginny points out to Harry that besides him, she is the only person to have been possessed by Voldemort. :) May 5, 2014 at 20:14
  • I was gonna say he can't do wand magic as a memory because he possessed Ginny instead of Imperiusing her but then I remembered he needed Ginny to become real so Imperiusing her wouldn't have helped (you remember correctly).I cant say when he was real enough: but he was growing more real. I can't answer the question, but I hoped to give a little bit of info that could help: he was growing more real and attempted to use a wand, not right away IIRC but after a while: this suggests there was a point where he was real enough, but isn't proof of it :) (Rowling should make a stackexchange account)
    – Mac Cooper
    May 5, 2014 at 20:43
  • 3
    already discussed and answered here
    – Mani
    May 6, 2014 at 4:35

4 Answers 4


It's not just a memory. Remember, the diary is a horcrux - it contains an actual fragment of Voldemort's soul, and it was implied by 'Tom Riddle' that, had it absorbed a bit more of Ginny's essence, it could have returned in full power.

  • 7
    Exactly. He was absorbing energy from Ginny. May 5, 2014 at 16:25

Yes the memory (Horcrux) can cast the killing curse.

As we know, the last part of the Voldemort gets the least amount of soul. The diary gets half of the original.

The story Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire begins in the Muggle-occupied village of Little Hangleton, many decades ago, around the Riddle House. Frank Bryce is still working as the groundskeeper where Voldemort is plotting his next plan with Peter and Crouch Junior.

Frank sees a fire flickering in one of the rooms and goes over to investigate; he thinks it is a couple of boys who regularly disturb him. Inside, he overhears Wormtail and Lord Voldemort planning to capture Harry Potter with the aid of a reliable servant. Voldemort, Frank learns, also plans to reward Wormtail for his help in capturing Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry of Magic employee who Voldemort extracted information from before killing. Frank is then discovered by Voldemort's snake Nagini. He stands up to Voldemort, but is horrified upon seeing Lord Voldemort. Voldemort then casts the Avada Kedavra curse.

So even a part of the soul can cast spells, but in the Chamber of Secrets he didn't; reasons are given in the answers to this question.

  • 5
    Is there canon evidence that creating multiple Horcruxes splits the soul unevenly? It makes sense from a non-magical standpoint - each division is 1/2, then 1/4, then 1/2^n... But from a magical perspective, would the Horcruxes "even out" the fraction of soul they contained when a new one was created?
    – Doresoom
    Jul 18, 2014 at 13:56

Tom Riddle didn't explicitly say that he was going to use Avada Kedavra. I presume there are other ways to kill. Intense pain may cause death which may be achieved by Sectumsempra, the Cruciatus curse etc.

Moreover Tom Riddle was technically more skilled at dueling than Harry who was a mediocre wizard (at the age of 12) compared to Riddle. I am not sure if Harry would have been able to resist longer had Tom Riddle used the Imperius curse (which would make him do anything), Wingardium Leviosa (levitate and drop), Incendio (burn him to death) etc. as Harry didn't know that many counter spells at that time.


Complete Souls are not required for magic.

Recall that creating a horcrux splits the soul in half each time. Voldemort split his soul multiple times; the diary receiving the largest part (1/2), Voldemort ending up with the least (1/26 ~6%).

Logically if pre-'Boy who Lived' Voldemort can cast Avada Kadavra on Harry and his family, so must the diary be able to.

  • does making a horcrux split your soul in half?
    – Himarm
    Jan 31, 2016 at 2:47
  • @Himarm that's my assumption
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jan 31, 2016 at 9:47
  • you assume a soul have a finite size.
    – dna
    Oct 19, 2017 at 11:22
  • @dna you assume they don't
    – AncientSwordRage
    Oct 19, 2017 at 16:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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