3

Harry tells Neville to kill the snake, but does not tell him it needs to be done a certain way, or Nagini would not die. Why?

6

The sword was not needed to kill Nagini. We know this is the case because Harry himself as a horcrux "lite" is not invincible.

All horcrux Items that we encountered were indestructible until a strong enough weapon or force was applied.

Examples of this first rule, can be shown by the locket, it cant be scratched or damaged in anyway.

This Indestructibility would have been either applied fully, or not at all to life form horcruxes and since we have multiple examples of harry himself being cut, burned, breaking limbs, stabbed, etc we can assume that Nagini is also vulnerable to this as well.

However since Harry's not a true horcrux, in the sense that the ritual to create a horcrux was not performed, Nagini herself may have additional protection.

But Voldemort was extremely worried about her welfare during the last battle, so he kept her close and inside a magical barrier. A magical barrier against attacks that could destroy her, however, if she were to be as indestructible as say the locket, this protective spell would not have stopped someone with access to the magic used in destroying a horcrux anyway.

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    Harry is not a Horcrux, for the love of Pete! I think it's important to not perpetuate this myth. I know Dumbledore calls Harry a Horcrux in Deathly Hallows, but JKR has said in an interview that Harry was never a bona fide Horcrux, but merely an unintended vessel for a wayward fragment of Voldemort's soul. – Slytherincess Mar 3 '15 at 18:39
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    @Slytherincess Does intention matter, in this case? Not arguing, genuinely asking. Harry might not have been intended to be a horcrux, but would the same rules not apply to him anyway as far as the means of destruction, the effects of his continued existence on Voldemort, etc? – Nerrolken Mar 3 '15 at 18:42
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    @Slytherincess edited, he is now a horcrux "lite". And this is JRK's own fault, since she explicitly stated he was one in the book, and then decided to retcon it in an interview people may or may not have read. and also stated that Quirrell was a type of horcrux even though he was just possessed by a piece of voldemorts soul. – Himarm Mar 3 '15 at 19:09
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    Technically, a fallible character (Dumbledore) said that Harry was a horcrux. He believed it to be true - that doesn't mean that he was right. To be fair, this should have been something that was cleared up later in the books, but wasn't. – phantom42 Mar 3 '15 at 19:46
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    The author is just as fallible. Continuity issues all around. – user16696 Mar 3 '15 at 21:42
2

Two possibilities

1) He assumed Neville would relay this weird bit of advice to Ron and Hermione, who'd be able to make sense of it.

2) To destroy a Horcrux the vessel must be destroyed beyond magical repair. In the case of inanimate objects this requires extreme measures, like Basilisk venom. However, I'm not sure if it's ever specified how a living host works - a person killed by normal means is still dead beyond magical repair. Perhaps Harry interpreted this to mean that the Nagini-Horcrux would be destroyed when Nagini was killed, regardless of how it was done?

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    “[The snake]’s got to be killed. Ron and Hermione know that, but just in case they—” Potentially Neville would have to act on Harry’s information without any help. I don’t think Harry expected Neville to need to consult them before acting. – alexwlchan Mar 3 '15 at 18:47
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    Is there any canon basis for your possibilities? These seem like guesses more than anything. – Slytherincess Mar 3 '15 at 18:47
  • @Slytherincess Well, the reasoning behind possibilty 2 seems straightforward to me, since it quotes Hermione regarding what has to be done to a Horcrux to destroy it. I would be with DavidS here, as Dumbledore basically says as much in HPB (IIRC), when a surprised Harry inquires wether a living creature could actually be turned into a Horcrux. From what Harry heard from Dumbledore (who calls using an animal as a Horcrux "inadvisable") he must have concluded that killing the host, destroys the Horcrux within. Alex already disproved possibility 1. – BMWurm Mar 3 '15 at 20:18
  • @alexwlchan Yeah I largely agree, just covering my bases. I think the second possibility is far more likely. – DavidS Mar 4 '15 at 9:53
  • @Slytherincess More reasoning than guesses, but since this question doesn't have a canon answer (as far as I'm aware) it seems the best we can do. – DavidS Mar 4 '15 at 9:59
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It just occurred to me that when Harry was watching Snape and Voldemort just before Snape died, he tried to think of a curse he could use on Nagini, but knew he would be caught if he missed. So he must have assumed he could potentially kill Nagini without a horcrux. Thus he would not have felt the need to tell Neville to use the sword.

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