In Chapter 33, Voldemort is back and as terrifying as ever! Let’s go!
Oh man. This is absolutely horrible and wonderful! We’ve heard about Voldemort over the course of four books now, and we finally get to see him in the flesh! He was always this vague threat in the background, something that used to be powerful, had lost that power, and might be finding a way to get it back — and now he’s here! Such a great reveal. I remember the first time reading this. My heart was in my throat the entire time.
Voldemort seems really happy to have a real body again. Wormtail is still bleeding on the ground and that giant snake is also there, slithering around. When Voldemort asks for Wormtail’s arm, Wormtail thinks that he’s going to heal the hand that he JUST CUT OFF, but instead Voldemort wants his other arm. On that arm is a tattoo of the Dark Mark. When Voldemort touches it, Harry’s scar bursts into pain again and Wormtail also cries out. Voldemort muses on how many will return to him, and then turns to Harry.
“You stand, Harry Potter, upon the remains of my late father,” he hissed softly. “A Muggle and a fool . . . very like your dear mother. But they both had their uses, did they not? Your mother died to defend you as a child . . . and I killed my father, and see how useful he has proved himself, in death . . .”
How evil do you have to be to kill your own parent? And how evil do you have to be to call a mother’s sacrifice “useful?” Voldemort continues telling how his mother had died giving birth, but his father had left him behind in a Muggle orphanage. Sure, it’s a tragic story, but that doesn’t excuse all the horrible deeds he’s done since then!
They are interrupted by the arrival of Apparating wizards, all hooded and masked, cautiously looking around and then dropping to their knees to kiss Voldemort’s robes. Voldemort greets them, but also says that he can sense guilt. None of his followers tried to find him. They all believed he had been defeated and was gone for good, claiming to have been forced into his service instead of working for him willingly.
“And then I ask myself, but how could they have believed I would not rise again? They, who knew the steps I took, long ago, to guard myself against mortal death? They, who had seen proofs of the immensity of my power in the times when I was mightier than any wizard living?”
It really sounds like he’s talking about the horcruxes here, and I wonder how many of the Death Eaters truly knew what he had done. We know the diary was one, and that Lucius Malfoy had it in his possession, but he was also pretty flippant about it, handing it over to 11 year old Ginny Weasley. I wonder how much the Death Eaters understood the depths of what Voldemort had done.
Voldemort casts Crucio at the first Death Eater who begs forgiveness. He’s not in a forgiving mood, apparently. He wants repayment for their abandonment, although Wormtail has started to earn his way back. The thing is, Wormtail did not return out of loyalty — he returned because of fear. Still, the fear worked and helped Voldemort return, so Voldemort decides to heal Wormtail’s stump. He gives Wormtail a shining silver hand to take its place.
So let’s see, who all do we have in Death Eater masks, huh? Voldemort names the one he just Crucio-ed Avery. He also addresses Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort is not happy with Lucius, especially since Lucius has spent the last years pretending to be respectable and not trying to find his master.
“My Lord, I was constantly on the alert,” came Lucius Malfoy’s voice swiftly from beneath the hood. “Had there been any sign from you, and whisper of your whereabouts, I would have been at your side immediately, nothing could have prevented me –”
“And yet you ran from my Mark, when a faithful Death Eater sent it into the sky last summer?” said Voldemort lazily, and Mr. Malfoy stopped talking abruptly. “Yes, I know all about that, Lucius . . . You have disappointed me . . . I expect more faithful service in the future . . .”
I get the feeling that Lucius was perfectly happy being an ordinary terrible person without Voldemort being around.
Other named Death Eaters: Macnair (the executioner who almost killed Buckbeak!), Crabbe and Goyle (fathers of the Crabbe and Goyle we know), and Nott. According to Voldemort there are six that are missing. Three are dead. One is too afraid to return. One has left him forever and will be killed. And one, his most faithful servant, has already reentered his service and is at Hogwarts. More deliberate misdirection, and I love it! How easy is it to believe that the Death Eater at Hogwarts is Snape! We already know that he used to be one, and now Voldemort is basically naming him as such! And that’s not even who he’s talking about! It’s so brilliant!
Just as a guess, the one who is too cowardly to return has to be Karkaroff, right? I’m pretty sure it is.
Whoever this servant at Hogwarts is, he is responsible for making sure that Harry arrived at Voldemort’s “rebirthing party.” But how did this all happen? Turns out that Harry’s mother left a special protection on him, some sort of old magic that Voldemort didn’t anticipate. The steps he had taken to repel death had kept him alive when the Avada Kadavra spell rebounded, but only just. He was powerless and unable to use a wand.
“I remember only forcing myself, sleeplessly, endlessly, second by second, to exist . . . I settled in a faraway place, in a forest, and I waited . . . Surely, one of my faithful Death Eaters would try and find me . . . one of them would come and perform the magic I could not, to restore me to a body . . . but I waited in vain . . .”
If you are a Death Eater standing in this circle, how are you not peeing your pants a little right now?
In his weakened state, Voldemort was able to possess the bodies of others, so when Quirrell came upon him in the forest, he used him to gain access to Hogwarts and to potentially steal the Sorcerer’s Stone to return to power. Well, we all know how that turned out.
Wormtail heard about Voldemort’s whereabouts after faking his death and living among the rats. He returned to serve Voldemort, but made the mistake of running into Bertha Jorkins. This was how he found out about the Triwizard Tournament and set his plans in motion. Bertha was also able to tell him of a faithful Death Eater who would be able to help him, but they needed to break a Memory Charm on her to get to the information. After that, they killed her.
Voldemort knew of a spell that would restore him to his old body, since the Sorcerer’s Stone would no longer be available, and he needed the blood of an enemy. It could have been anyone, since he had many, many enemies, but he wanted Harry’s blood so that he would be able to skirt the protection of his mother’s sacrifice. The Hogwarts Death Eater made sure that Harry was entered into the Triwizard Tournament and made sure that Harry would be able to win it, since the Cup was turned into a Portkey. It was a foolproof plan that worked perfectly, and now here we are.
And just in case we wondered how powerful Voldemort is . . .
It was a pain beyond anything Harry had ever experienced; his very bones were on fire; his head was surely splitting along his scar; his eyes were rolling madly in his head; he wanted it to end . . . to black out . . . to die . . .
Here’s the thing, though: Voldemort doesn’t just want to kill Harry. He wants to defeat Harry. He doesn’t want anyone voicing any doubt that Harry is stronger than him in any way. He wants to prove that the fact Harry survived all those years ago was nothing but a fluke. And to do that, Harry will be given the chance to fight back.
“Now untie him, Wormtail, and give him back his wand.”
See you next time for Chapter 34!