Short of time travel, Horcruxes remain one of the most perplexing parts of Harry Potter’s world. They’re the very vessels that kept Voldemort alive after his Avada Kedavra curse, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend a good portion of Deathly Hallows trying to destroy them. Yet we know little about them—the knowledge is forbidden, divulged in secrecy and shame by Horace Slughorn, and impossible for Hermione to research until she summons Albus Dumbledore’s books on the subject.
Given their mysterious and dark nature, the idea that Voldemort wasn’t the only person with Horcruxes has persisted with some fans over the years. But the latest person suspected to have created a Horcrux will definitely make some of us look at the series in another light.
On Tumblr, user marauders4evr posited back in June (in a theory that resurged thanks to Bustle) that Fawkes is Harry’s accidental Horcrux, which he created in the process of killing the Basilisk in Chamber of Secrets. She believes that Harry’s soul, which had part of Voldemort’s soul latched onto it after the killing curse cast on Harry rebounded on Voldemort, was unstable and split after he killed the Basilisk. Harry’s split soul then latched onto the closest living thing at the time, which was Fawkes as he used his healing tears on Harry’s wound.
“And we know that Harry’s soul has always been unstable,” marauders4evr wrote. “That’s why the Dementors affected him more. That’s why he kept having weird dreams wherein he saw into Voldemort’s mind. That’s why his scar hurt whenever Voldemort was nearby or angry or existing or…you know that part was never clear. But the point is that we know that Harry’s soul is corrupted. So much so that I think it’s safe to say that it’s splintered, splintered enough that after murdering a snake in cold-blood, a part of it flies off and attaches to Fawkes.”
The theory sheds a new light on other parts of the series, such as why Harry is so drawn to Fawkes in subsequent books and how Harry ultimately survives Voldemort’s second killing curse in Deathly Hallows. And given that Fawkes constantly dies and is reborn from the ashes, it could mean that Harry might be immortal.
It might sound familiar for some fans, because it’s an offshoot of another theory that Dumbledore made Fawkes into a Horcrux. Rowling debunked it in May and called the idea “strangely upsetting.”
The idea that anybody believes this is strangely upsetting to me. https://t.co/G4RlSB9kEI
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 4, 2016
But how possible is it?
For one, if Fawkes is a Horcrux he definitely isn’t a true one. According to J.K. Rowling in a 2007 PotterCast interview, “I think, by definition, a Horcrux has to be made intentionally,” and that entails a process so grotesque that Rowling’s editor “looked as though she was gonna vomit” after hearing it. Whatever that process entails—some believe it involves cannibalism—didn’t take place when Harry killed the Basilisk or the night Voldemort was defeated.
Voldemort’s soul was so damaged and unstable when that happened—having made five Horcruxes before Oct. 31, 1981—that it split again and latched onto Harry, the only living thing in the room at the time. As far as we know, according to Rowling, Harry “was not contaminated by carrying this bit of parasitic soul” and there’s no apparent indication that his soul was unstable when he killed the Basilisk. Of course, given that Tom Riddle was starting to gain a corporeal body at the time, it’s possible that might be different if Voldemort completed the transformation. Considering the atrocities Harry’s been through since, killing a Basilisk that was trying to kill him and nearly killed several students probably doesn’t seem as soul-crushing.
(An alternate universe in The Cursed Child, while published after the theory came to light, also suggests that when Voldemort killed Harry, he stayed dead.)
We can only imagine that, if Harry had created a Horcrux by accident he would’ve been horrified. Just picturing the possibility has messed with how we view the Boy Who Lived.