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While answering another question I mentioned the love protection spell from Harry's mom, which got me thinking, since this spell is so unique and no one understands it, does that mean not a single person in the entire history of wizards is known to have died for someone because of love and then have created a protection spell for that person? No parents, spouses or really close friends in the history of everything self-sacrificed for a loved one?

Did JKR create a loveless universe, where love was as miraculous and rare as the fact that Harry is the only person to survive Avada Kedavra?

  • I would prefer some answer referencing canon or an interview with JKR – Sydenam Jan 7 '12 at 11:23
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    I think an answerable question would be "Has anyone else used love in a protection spell?" Otherwise the answer is a little too subjective. – AncientSwordRage Jan 7 '12 at 11:33
  • Even Ron Sacrifices his safety right off the bat in the very first book. It must be very specific to Avada Kedavra and it truly be a sacrifice all the way -death of the one you protect or death of yourself and nothing in between rather than a lack of love in the universe. – balanced mama Jan 23 '13 at 1:44
  • The protection Lily gave Harry stemmed from an ancient bit of magic. Assumedly, not many people would have known about it. – Möoz Apr 10 '14 at 22:03
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UPDATE - I have found a much more definitive JKR answer as to why Lily’s protection was so unique:

TL;DR - because Lily was given an explicit choice.

ES: This is one of my burning questions since the third book - why did Voldemort offer Lily so many chances to live? Would he actually have let her live?
JKR: [silence] Can’t tell you. But he did offer, you’re absolutely right. Don’t you want to ask me why James’s death didn’t protect Lily and Harry? There’s your answer, you’ve just answered your own question, because she could have lived and chose to die. James was going to be killed anyway. Do you see what I mean? I’m not saying James wasn’t ready to; he died trying to protect his family but he was going to be murdered anyway.

MA: So no one - Voldemort or anyone using Avada Kedavra - ever gave someone a choice and then they took that option [to die] -
JKR: They may have been given a choice, but not in that particular way.
(Src: “The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part One,” The Leaky Cauldron, 16 July 2005)

ORIGINAL ANSWER

The reason why the situation with Harry being protected this way being rare and unknown can be explained by 3 factors:

  1. Harry’s protection spell was VERY VERY specific:

    • Someone who loved him sacrificed their life to protect his

    • The resulting spell was able to protect specifically against that attacker

    • It is extremely likely that the 2 persons must be blood relations (which is why Dursley home is where Harry must live to be protected). - so, romantic love is out of the question.

    • It’s also, as Jeff’s answer noted, logically sound to require that the target is someone defenseless, and can not fight back or escape after the first murder and before the attacker attacks them - meaning a small child as the case with Harry, or they are incapacitated by other attackers (which means they can’t survive due to not being protected from those OTHER attackers).

    As Jeff noted in his answer, given the small size of Wizarding community and relative infrequency of attempted murder therein, having all 4 of those conditions happen at the same time is likely not all that frequent of an occurrence.

  2. And even when/if it DOES happen, it’s likely to remain unknown. Harry’s case was special because:

    • He survived the first attack.

    • He didn’t escape from the second attack before it happened (meaning was a small child or incapacitated/restrained).

    • His attacker died from the Avad Kedavra rebounding. It’s not stated anywhere that the protection extended is explicitly designed to kill the attacker - the fact that the bounce hit Voldemort may very possibly have been a freak accident.

    • There were no other attackers to finish the job.

    • Due to the fact that his attempted murderer was a major league Bad Guy fighting a war, he was found by the rest of Order of Phoenix and the survival became known.

    In a random attempted murder situation, the protected person would either be hurt/killed by accomplices, or, if there were no accomplices and the person survived (and if a child didn’t starve to death afterwards), surely nobody would ever believed their word and take them as a lunatic (if they were an adult); or they wouldn’t even know what happened to tell them if they were a small child.

  3. And even when/if it DOES happen, and is known, it’s likely that very few people would know enough about ancient magic (like Dumbledore did) to actually correctly attribute the results - witness that everyone other than Dumbledore had no clue whatsoever as to why Harry survived both Voldemort’s attack and Quirrell’s attempt. This doesn’t necessarily address the rarity of people known to survive Avada Kedavra, but worth noting anyway.

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    There is one other key point to point #1 that you missed. The person who died to protect another must have not had to die. – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 7 '12 at 15:21
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    @Pearsonartphoto - Hm. I thought that this was included in semantics of "sacrificed". – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 7 '12 at 15:29
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    I'm not sure how related this is to the specific implementation of the enchantment Lily granted Harry in her selfless choice to die rather than let Voldemort have a go at her infant son, but it was Voldemort himself who marked Harry as his equal (rather than Neville Longbottom), which bound the prophecy and was the motivation behind Voldemort's desire to kill Harry. I wonder if this in any way influenced or helped to strengthen Lily's enchantment. Unrelated, but Barty Crouch Jr./Moody said in Goblet of Fire that Harry is the only known survivor of Avada Kedavra. Anyway, +1. – Slytherincess Jan 7 '12 at 15:38
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    @Slytherincess - Being that it was Barty, I'm not inclined to take that at 100% face value :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 7 '12 at 15:57
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    Wrong about the blood relation, the same thing works in DH when Harry sacrifices himself for the fellow students. – orion Mar 11 '15 at 10:27
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No, I'm sure that others HAVE died for their loved ones. Harry was likely a special case, though - for one, he was an infant. There is NO purer love in this world than that of a mother for her child. Love between adults is a many faceted thing, complex and deep. There are layers, doubts, waxing and waning.

It's like comparing a layer of scales to a thick hide - one has dozens of seams, the other is continuous.

It's also likely that very few wizards have ever tried to use Avada Kevada on infants.

Ergo, it could simply be that this exact situation hadn't arisen previously. Alternatively, it is possible that previously the Dark Wizards involved had recognized the protection given and had someone else strike the killing blow - Big V is frequently said to have a massive blind spot for magic he's not skilled with - he simply dismisses it. If the other person involved was an adult wizard, the loved one's sacrafice may have frequently given them time to strike back, or Apperate away, or any of a dozen other methods to avoid being hit by a killing curse.

In short, this question can only be answered speculatively (unless J.K. has spoken up) but the things that need to be considered are:

  1. truly selfless love is rare

  2. people who will murder a child in its crib are rare

  3. wizards who have just had someone they love die to protect them are unlikely to stand immobile while another curse is fired

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    "unless J.K. has spoken up" - she did. Just pasted the JKR quotes into my answer :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 17 '12 at 9:52
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    On #2. I suppose that's true though obviously there is infanticide. Or in another story a certain old, wretched creature doing worse than killing a baby. But +1 simply for the first paragraph; it's not always the case but when a mother loves their child - or even a child - you'll seldom find stronger and maybe even equal love elsewhere. – Pryftan Aug 5 '17 at 22:58
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It's also noteworthy that Voldemort had already torn his soul into fragments. This "super love shield" may not be effective against someone with a complete (albeit malicious) soul.

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    No. If Voldemort didn't have Horcruxes he would have died and Harry would still have survived. He even says this in Goblet of Fire to his Death Eaters. And it's implied elsewhere. – Pryftan Aug 5 '17 at 22:59

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