So a very straight forward question. We know very well that breaking the unbreakable vow leads to one's death, but I've got a specific question:

What would happen if the vow taker declines to accept the term while taking the vow?

It would be much better if you submit any reliable source in the answer. Anyway I didn't find anything related to this even on Pottermore.

  • Do you mean something like crossing your fingers while making a promise?
    – Joe L.
    Feb 5, 2015 at 18:47
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    @JoeL. It's about Harry Potter's unbreakable vow
    – Saharsh
    Feb 5, 2015 at 18:51
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    As far as I know, you either accept the vow with all of it's terms, or you don't accept the vow at all. You can't kinda-sorta accept only the parts of the vow that are convenient for you. It's like being sworn-in in a court room - you either swear to tell the truth, or you refuse to swear in at all (in which case you get jailed for contempt of court). There's no provision for "I swear to tell the truth, unless I feel like lying".
    – Joe L.
    Feb 5, 2015 at 19:24
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    what term are they declining to accept, while still taking the vow? the vows are very specific, their arnt like i vow to do XYZ, its i vow to do X. snape took 3 distinct vows, should he have declined 1 nothing would happen, as the spell is enacted upon acceptance.
    – Himarm
    Feb 5, 2015 at 19:24
  • @Himarm that might be a good answer for this if you can provide more details to backup the statement that there was 3 distinct vows.
    – Zoredache
    Feb 5, 2015 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


Probably nothing would happen.

Below is the passage in which Snape accepts the three “terms” of the Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco. Notice how there's a “tongue of flame” for each term of the Vow. This tongue seems to be magically binding Snape to the Vow, and he seems to be accepting each part separately: at least, he’s bound by it before being asked about the other parts. Were he to decline one part of the Vow, his declaration to uphold the other two parts wouldn’t be affected.

Here we go:

Narcissa spoke.

“Will you, Severus, watch over my son Draco as he attempts to fulfil the Dark Lord’s wishes?”

“I will,” said Snape.

A thin tongue of brilliant flame issued from the wand and wound its way around their hands like a red-hot wire.

“And will you, to the best of your ability, protect him from harm?”

“I will,” said Snape.

A second tongue of flame shot from the wand and interlinked with the first, making a fine, glowing chain.

“And, should it prove necessary… if it seems Draco will fail…” whispered Narcissa (Snape’s hand twitched within hers, but he did not draw away), “will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?”

There was a moment’s silence. Bellatrix watched, her wand upon their clasped hands, her eyes wide.

“I will,” said Snape.

Bellatrix’s astounded face glowed red in the blaze of a third tongue of flame, which shot from the wand, twisted with the others and bound itself thickly around their clasped hands, like a rope, like a fiery snake.

Half-Blood Prince, chapter 2 (Spinner’s End)

IANAML (I Am Not A Magical Lawyer), but it certainly reads like three separate Vows. Ergo, accepting or declining any part would have no effect on the others.

  • 1
    dam beat me by a 1 min.
    – Himarm
    Feb 5, 2015 at 19:49
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    I'm reading the quote above and I have Alan Rickman's voice running through my mind, lol! Not really pertinent to the answer, but funny nonetheless. Feb 5, 2015 at 22:29

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