Harry Potter: Dumbledore Used A Horcrux To Threaten Slughorn Into Submission

Harry Potter: Dumbledore Used A Horcrux To Threaten Slughorn Into Submission
Image credit: Warner Bros.

Albus Dumbledore had a specific reason to keep wearing the cursed Gaunt’s ring.


  • Dumbledore needed Slughorn to return to Hogwarts to retrieve the original memory about the latter’s discussion with Tom Riddle.
  • The Headmaster wore the Gaunt’s ring that Riddle used to wear and showed it to Slughorn, silently indicating the danger he was in.
  • Harry’s presence wasn’t needed to convince Slughorn to return; it was needed to help Dumbledore avoid the serious talk with Slughorn then.

When Albus Dumbledore embarked on a journey to recruit Horace Slughorn, he knew it would take more than sweet words to convince the stubborn old man to return to Hogwarts. But Harry Potter wasn’t the only ace up the Headmaster’s sleeve: The Boy Who Lived was a carrot, but the stick was also there, as a threat.

Dumbledore Needed Slughorn Back At Hogwarts

After the Ministry finally acknowledged Lord Voldemort’s return, the latter stopped hiding. The attacks on Muggle and wizarding families alike became more daring and ruthless, and no one felt safe; that specifically transferred for everyone who was related to the Dark Lord’s past. More specifically, his return terrified Horace Slughorn.

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Albus Dumbledore didn’t wish for his former colleague to die, but he would not have embarked on the quest to find Slughorn if he didn’t have his reasons. He needed Slughorn’s true memories about the latter’s fateful Horcrux discussion with young Tom Riddle — and for that, the Headmaster needed to protect the Potions Master.

But Horace Slughorn has always been a stubborn old man, and a scared one, at that. He was terrified of openly siding with Dumbledore by returning to Hogwarts, afraid of attracting Lord Voldemort’s wrath, and the Headmaster knew it. That’s why when he came to convince Slughorn, he came prepared — in more than one way.

Dumbledore Exaggerated Harry’s Role In Convincing Slughorn

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As the Hogwarts Headmaster explained to The Boy Who Lived, his presence at Slughorn’s place was needed to entice the Potions Master to come teach at Hogwarts to add Harry to his “collection.” That was the truth, but not the entire truth: realistically, Dumbledore didn’t need Harry Potter to convince his former colleague.

Harry was the carrot, and a big one at that; but the stick Dumbledore carried was a lot bigger and scarier: “Harry noticed a ring on his uninjured hand that he had never seen Dumbledore wear before. <...> Slughorn’s eyes lingered for a moment on the ring too, and Harry saw a tiny frown momentarily crease his wide forehead.”

For their meeting with Horace Slughorn, Dumbledore wore the Gaunt’s ring, and he made a point of showing it to the Potions Master. Slughorn knew the ring — he saw Tom Riddle wear it. Slughorn knew Dumbledore had seen the edited version of his memory about the Horcrux discussion where Tom Riddle wore that ring.

The moment the Potions Master saw the Gaunt’s ring on Dumbledore’s hand was the moment he realized the seriousness of the situation and the danger he was truly in; the Headmaster didn’t have to spell it out loud, and it remained an unspoken threat. Harry’s presence merely allowed Dumbledore to avoid having a candid discussion with Slughorn while still making his point crystal clear.

The fact that even after that, it took months to convince Slughorn to give up the real memory only shows how petty and cowardly he was, but that isn’t news to us.