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"The Unbreakable Vow is a spell where a witch or wizard makes an oath to another. If the terms of the oath are broken, the person who breaks it will die."
— Descripton[src]

An Unbreakable Vow (incantation unknown) was a type of binding magical contract cast between two parties,[1] that if broken by either party, would result in the imminent death of whoever broke the contract.[2]


"A thin tongue of brilliant flame issued from the wand and wound its way around their hands like a red-hot wire."
— The light of the spell after the first clause[src]

The two parties had to be kneeling or standing opposite each other and clasping each other's right hands. A third party held their wand, standing quite close to the pair holding hands, and placed the tip of their wand onto the linked hands, acting as the witness. Then, the first would ask a certain number of vows of the other, whereupon each time the second accepted a term, a thin stream of fire would be emitted from the witness's wand, weaving around the hands of the pair taking the vows. Upon the vow being completed, if the one who accepted the terms broke any of them, they would die.[1]

The spell itself appeared to be fairly advanced, as it seemed to not be used very often (and not just for obvious reasons) or lightly and only in strict matters of confidence, therefore it should not have been invoked between the underaged.[1][3] However, since Fred and George Weasley were noted to be capable of doing it with Ronald Weasley at such young ages of about seven, seven, and five, respectively, it can be argued that the spell was not that advanced.

Known uses


Sometime prior to 1901, Yusuf Kama made an Unbreakable Vow with his father where he promised to track down and kill the son of Corvus Lestrange in retaliation for taking Yusuf's mother away from them. This vow, however, turned out to be null and void, as the child he thought was his intended victim turned out to be someone else entirely, and the person whom he had sworn to kill was already long dead.[4]


"Fred and George tried to get me to make one when I was about five. I nearly did too, I was holding hands with Fred and everything when Dad found us."
— Ron Weasley's brother's attempt to make a vow[src]

In either 1985 or 1986, Fred and George Weasley attempted to convince their then five-year-old brother Ron to make an Unbreakable Vow with them. They were in fact poised to do so, with their wands out, holding hands and ready to cast the spell when their father discovered them. It was described as the only time he was as angry as his wife, and it is said that he did something to Fred's left buttock leaving it never the same again; luckily however, their brother Ron was left unhurt, although he remembered the incident at least eleven years later.[2]

At some point between 1984 and 1990, Jacob's sibling offered to make an Unbreakable Vow with Chiara Lobosca to ensure they would never betray her. Recognising that they would die if they break the Vow, Chiara refused and opted to trust them.[5]


Narcissa Malfoy: "Will you, Severus, watch over my son, Draco, as he attempts to fulfil the Dark Lord's wishes?"
Severus Snape: "I will."
Narcissa Malfoy: "And will you, to the best of your ability, protect him from harm?"
Severus Snape: "I will."
Narcissa Malfoy: "And should it prove necessary... if it seems Draco will fail... will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?"
Severus Snape: "I will."
— Severus and Narcissa's vow[src]

Bellatrix sealing the Unbreakable Vow between Narcissa and Snape

In the summer of 1996, Severus Snape made an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy, the wife of Lucius Malfoy. Their bonding agent was Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa's sister and a Death Eater. He promised to protect Draco Malfoy from harm and guide him whilst he attempted to perform the task the Dark Lord had asked him to do: to kill Albus Dumbledore.[1][3]

Snape was actually a double agent working for Dumbledore, who requested Snape to kill him anyway to spare him of a painful and humiliating death. When Draco could not bring it in his heart to kill Dumbledore despite having the opportunity with the latter cornered and wandless, Snape fulfilled the vow with Narcissa to kill Dumbledore himself, simultaneously fulfilling his promise to Dumbledore of a mercy kill, sparing Draco of having to do so under duress.[6]


Gareth Greengrass: "You make an Unbreakable Vow that you'll help Cereus. Then and only then will I tell you everything I know about The Unforgivable and how you might be able to end the Calamity."
Harry Potter: "An Unbreakable Vow?! That's your condition? You may be willing to put your life on the line for your daughter, but to ask me to risk mine too...? A smart witch or wizard would never agree to this."
— Harry makes an Unbreakable Vow with Gareth Greengrass[src]

Gareth Greengrass was eventually taken into custody by Harry Potter for his involvement with The Unforgivable and the Calamity, but remained tight-lipped until Harry rose the issue of Gareth's daughter. It was discovered that Cereus Greengrass suffered a blood malediction. Gareth and Harry formed an Unbreakable Vow, sealed by Constance Pickering, whereby Harry would find a cure for Gareth's daughter and in turn Gareth would help Harry uncover the identities of The Unforgivable. Harry visited St Mungo's and placed a large donation, securing special care for Cereus. By the time he returned, however, Gareth Greengrass was dead.[9]

See also

Behind the scenes

  • It is unknown if this spell has an incantation; although the bonding agent has to hold their wand to the participants' hands, it would seem at first as though the vows themselves may have been the incantation. However, it is also possible it was merely cast non-verbally.
  • In the sixth film, the three rings of fire appear all at once, rather than appearing individually whenever a term is accepted. Whether or not more rings would appear if there were more terms to the vow remains unknown. They also leave a mark on the skin once they disappear.
  • Several fans of the series have proposed to their significant others by cutting out pages of the book down to the chapter titled "The Unbreakable Vow", hiding an engagement ring inside the cutout, and giving it to them.
  • J. K. Rowling jokingly made a "unbreakable vow" with Twitter user @maruaders that she would retweet one of his posts for her one thousandth tweet. She ended up upholding this vow.[10]


Notes and references