Pretty straightforward:

Why didn't Harry's scar ever hurt prior to him finding out he is a wizard?

Harry's connection to Voldemort was present since Harry was one year old, so why didn't his scar act up prior to his introduction to the Wizarding World?

  • 2
    It never hurt unless Voldemort was close to him before Voldemort's resurrection
    – ZenLogic
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 2:58
  • I think the first time his scar hurt was in Goblet of Fire, and that is after Voldemort got his rudimentary body. Until then, Voldemort was still in spirit form (perhaps posessing other bodies (such as Quirrel) and the memory version (from Chamber of Secrets) doesn't count
    – user13267
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 3:47
  • 5
    @user13267 Wasn't the first time in PS when he thought it was because of Snape, but actually Quirrel?
    – Shisa
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 3:59
  • 1
    In addition to ZenLogic's comment, prior to Voldie hitching a ride in Quirrel just before Harry's Year 1 and gaining access to unicorn blood, he was a formless spirit of very limited power since the Avada Kedavra on Harry failed.
    – Shisa
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 4:03
  • As I mentioned to @iliveunderawesomerock, (I believe it was) Dumbledore indicated that Harry's scar also hurt when Voldemort was feeling particularly murderous or angry, due to the connection between the two soul pieces. Granted, this seems to increase as the series progresses and is more prevalent in the later books. And, yes, I believe the first time his scar hurt was in PS/SS at the welcoming feast; he did indeed think it was Snape's doing. Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 4:21

3 Answers 3


Voldemort was functionally dead.

Throughout the books, we know that Harry’s scar hurts when Voldemort feels strong emotion, or is close to Harry. In a post-Deathly Hallows interview, J.K. Rowling provided a little more detail on exactly where this pain comes from:

The pain he feels whenever Voldemort’s particularly active is this piece of soul seeking to rejoin the master soul. When his scar is hurting him so much, that's not scar tissue hurting him. That's this piece of soul really wanting to get back out the way it entered. It really wants to – it entered this boy's body through a wound, and it wants to rejoin the master. So when Voldemort's near him, when he's particularly active, this connection, it was always there. That's what I always imagined this pain was.

Transcript of Part 1 of Pottercast’s J.K. Rowling interview (December 2007)

Before Harry joined the magical world, Voldemort’s “master” soul was a broken-down wreck trying to possess snakes in Albania. At his rebirthing ceremony in Goblet of Fire, he describes himself thus: “as powerless as the weakest creature alive” and “I remember only forcing myself, sleeplessly, endlessly, second by second, to exist”. Further, it’s hundreds of miles from Harry, and the only emotion it feels is a raw sense of survival.

So two possible reasons why Harry’s scar didn’t hurt before he joined the magical world:

  • Voldemort was just too distant, either geographically or because he wasn’t feeling any strong emotion. I imagine the strong emotion is the master soul “calling out” to the horcrux fragment in Harry, but when it’s weak, it’s harder to do that.
  • Returning to the master soul was undesirable for the horcrux fragment. Why give up a relatively stable and safe existence in Harry’s body to return to the barely-surviving master. Once Voldemort possesses Quirrell and starts to return to life, then this prospect becomes more appealing.

In either case, it comes down to this: Voldemort was effectively dead, so there was nothing to cause pain in Harry’s scar.

  • 19
    Are you sure he wasn't procedurally dead? </K&R> Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 11:26
  • 7
    Or maybe declaratively dead?
    – user11521
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:10
  • When did Voldemort become, then, uneffectingly dead? When was the moment? What triggered Voldemort coming back to life (as it were)? And I'm not referring to Goblet of Fire. :) Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 3:20
  • @Slytherincess Wouldn't that be the time Voldemort started taking possession of a human body? That would be the period just before Harry found out he was a wizard - when Quirrel went to Albania.
    – mustard
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 18:44
  • 1
    @Slytherincess I would say when he started feeling hope that he could do more than merely exist. I don’t have a reference to hand, but he talks in his Goblet of Fire ceremony about losing all hope of returning to life. I would guess the bit of soul in Harry became active when Voldemort’s “master” soul got a bit of hope.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 17:55

Harry's scar only starts hurting when he is around Voldemort. Voldemort wasn't alive enough for him to be disturbed early in the books, before he was properly alive. Remember that Harry's scar doesn't start to "ache", until he is in the direct presence of Voldemort. It makes since his scar first hurt when he was in the Presence of Professor Quirrel.

"I met him when I travelled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. My master showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil... there is only power, and those too weak to understand it... Since then, I serve him faithfully, although I have let him down many times." —Quirinus Quirrell on Lord Voldemort wikia article Quirinus Quirrell

Voldemort was off doing more "important" things than being around Harry.

And, because I can't summon a quote at the moment.

“I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost . . . but still, I was alive.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire goodreads.com

“Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. Some say he’s still out there, bidin’ his time, like, but I don’ believe it.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

He probably wasn't that strong enough. In addition, to being to far away. IIRC, he was at his full strength mostly in the 4th book, since that is indeed when he got his body back.

Also, Voldemort was very far away from Harry. He was at Hogwarts, in a faraway forest, etc. Nowhere near Harry.

You could also say that Harry was protected by his mother's protection and the power of the Privet Drive home, but I don't think so.

This may be slightly off-topic.

Also cosforums.com, they have interesting theories. Its may not be exactly what your looking for, though.

  • You never know what I'm looking for. I happen to like cosforums and have used them as a source here on SFF.se before myself. Don't assume! :) Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 3:18
  • I forgot to mention that IIRC, Harry's scar also hurts when Voldemort is feeling particularly vicious or murderous, regardless of Voldemort's location. I'm not recalling if it was Dumbledore or J.K. Rowling who said this. I think it was Dumbledore. So Voldemort could be quite far away from Harry and Harry's scar might hurt anyway. Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 4:13
  • 1
    I like cosforums better than the HP Wikia, that's for sure! But +1 for effort and a well-rounded post. :) Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 2:58
  • @Slytherincess I just meant that you may not count cosforums as a very valid source, because they are a discussion site and the Wikia is suppose to take from canon. I will edit the post, but I just thought I was getting a little off-topic. No offence meant.
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 7:25

Harry, who was starting to feel warm and sleepy, looked up at the High Table again. Hagrid was drinking deeply from his goblet. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.

It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell's turban straight into Harry's eyes -- and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry's forehead.

"Ouch!" Harry clapped a hand to his head.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, chapter 7, "The Sorting Hat"

The first time Harry's scar hurts is when he's looking at the back of Quirrell's head — directly at Voldemort.

Until that moment, Harry hadn't been in Voldemort's presence since the Killing Curse backfired. And Voldemort had only recently found a host; he had been a shadow of his former self until recently.

So Harry's scar hadn't hurt prior to his introduction to the Wizarding World, because that brought him in close proximity to Voldemort again.

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