Why Did Voldemort Die and Harry Potter Didn’t?

And what was the pitiful dying thing at the train station?

Don’t feel bad you didn’t understand this, lots of people didn’t. It didn’t have anything to do with the Elder Wand or the other hallows. It had to do with horcruxes.

Firstly, remember how a horcrux works. They’re a little bit of your soul trapped inside an object. As long as any bit of your soul resides on earth, you cannot die. Of course, continued living with a partial soul is something no sane person would think is worth it.

Now, this whole chain of events which concludes with the fight between Harry and Voldemort towards the end of Deathly Hallows really starts way back in the first book. Dumbledore tells Harry that his Mother sacrificed himself for him. We later learn that her love protection lives on within him, in his blood. He is protected as long as his mother’s sacrifice lives within him.

Then later, in Goblet of Fire, Voldemort, in his arrogance, makes a terrible (for him!) mistake. When he took Harry’s blood inside his new body, Voldemort extended Harry’s mother’s love into himself. He became, for all intents and purposes, a horcrux for Harry, because even if something happens to Harry, as long as Voldemort’s around, Harry’s protection from his mother lives on.

But at the same time, don’t forget, we’ve also learned that Harry was also a horcrux for Voldemort, made one inadvertantly the night Voldemort tried to kill Harry with the Avada Kedavra when he was a baby. When the AK backfired, a piece of Voldemort’s already badly damaged soul attached itself to Harry. That’s why Harry survived the AK, when no one else has done so, before or since.

So, they’re horcruxes for each other, neither can kill the other.

Also, remember Harry has destroyed all of Voldemort’s intentional horcruxes but one, the one inside the snake Nagini.

OK, so, now, here is the progression of what happens the night of the final battle between Harry and Voldemort:

  1. There is a horcrux for Voldemort inside Harry. Voldemort cannot die as long as Harry is alive. Harry knows this, and that’s why he sacrifices himself to be killed by Voldemort, so that, if someone does in Nagini, Voldemort will no longer be immortal.
  2. Harry allows himself to be “killed” by Voldemort.
  3. But a horcrux for Harry is living on in Voldemort, so Harry does not die. He goes and visits with the image of Dumbledore instead.
  4. But the horcux for Voldemort living inside Harry is now dead. Voldemort has killed this when he “kills” Harry. This is the disgusting pitiful thing dying in the scene with Dumbledore and Harry in what appears to be a train station. Harry is not dead, realizes his work is not finished, and goes back to earth.
  5. Neville Longbottom, in a rush of Gryffindor bravery that we always knew he had, kills Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor. With all of his horcruxes gone, including the unintentional one inside Harry, Voldemort is now mortal.
  6. So, now, in their final battle, since Voldemort is now mortal, Harry can kill Voldemort, which he does.

We argued for years about the true meaning of “One cannot live while the other survives.” Turns out, JK meant it literally. Both had to die for Harry to live and the world to be free.

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David Haber
David Haber

D.S. Haber (known to his friends as Dave) is a professional muggle computer programmer and web designer and lives in Los Angeles. He is proud of the fact that he is a new-blood wizard with no (apparent) previous magical blood in his family. His favorite Quidditch team is the Falmouth Falcons, who's motto is "Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads." He is also a West Ham United (Hammers) fan.

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