Throughout the series, readers of Harry Potter encounter some of the most intriguing magical artifacts, creatures, spells, and potions.
One of the most memorable, the Amortentia potion, first appeared in The Half-Blood Prince. Amortentia played a brief role in which Hermione was able to secure the approval of Professor Slughorn.
For the readers, learning about the potion did something else. It gave us more insight into the desires of our favorite characters.
What Does Amortentia Smell Like?
In short, Amortentia smells like the things we love most. Sometimes, that smell is linked with the person we love. In the book, this fondness is described as “attraction,” as in, what smells are most attractive to the person, even if they are unaware of it.
Here are some of the things the characters smelled in their first encounter with the potion.
- Freshly-cut grass
- New parchment
In the book, Hermione didn’t reveal the third thing she smelled. Later, in an interview with JK Rowling, that scent was identified as Ron’s hair. As a side note, in the movie, Hermione states that the third smell is Spearmint toothpaste.
There are two possible theories as to why toothpaste is something she is attracted to. One theory, the more probable one, is that her parents are dentists and she associates it with them.
Another theory links the smell to an earlier interaction with Ron in the burrow in which he points out that she has toothpaste on her mouth. While not canon in the book, this does seem like a likely attraction for her.
- His mother’s cooking
- Hermione’s perfume
The smells Ron experienced, more than giving us insight into his character, reinforce what we already know. Ron is a great character, but he’s not overly complex. Food, family, and friends are his greatest pleasures and priorities. And that’s why we love him.
What Does Harry Smell in Amortentia?
The things characters smell say a lot about their personality. For Harry, his list of attractive smells is no different.
- Treacle tart
- The burrow
- A flowery smell
When Harry first smelled the “flowery smell” he could only pin it down as originating in the burrow. He later realized the smell was Ginny’s.
As for the other things, it’s fun to wonder why treacle tart is his favorite. Treacle tart is a favorite for many in England, but Harry probably didn’t have many opportunities to eat dessert while living with the Dursleys. Perhaps that’s precisely why, though.
The burrow? That one’s easy. The burrow is where his family is and was one of his greatest sources of joy throughout the seven years readers knew him as a student at Hogwarts.
What Would Amortentia Smell Like To Voldemort?
Theorizing what Voldemort would smell might look different depending on whether you believe he had any humanity left in him. At different stages of his life, he might have been attracted to different things.
Tom Riddle might have smelled:
- Dusty library books
- Slytherin common room
- Snake pheromones
In his later years, after graduating from Hogwarts, his tastes might have changed as he accrued more power and Horcruxes, losing a bit more of his soul after each passing year.
Lord Voldemort might have smelled:
- Acrid sweat and fear
- The Chamber of Secrets
First, what Voldemort wanted most was immortality, and controlling and killing others got him there. It’s certain that he probably enjoyed the experience of exerting this power and the effects it might cause, hence the smell of fear.
Second, Voldemort had a confusingly human relationship with Bellatrix in which a daughter was conceived. Bellatrix was perhaps his most loyal follower and the means through which his blood was kept alive in his daughter.
Third, many of Voldemort’s motivations and schemes were centered around the Chamber of Secrets, first attempting to open it on his own, then attempting to open it through Harry using his diary.
What Does Snape Smell in Amortentia?
There is no scene in canon in which readers get insight into what Snape would smell in Amortentia, but given what we know about his character, we can probably make a few guesses.
Snape might have smelled:
- The potions storeroom
- Dusty corridors
- Lily’s scent
- The grass by Black Lake
As for the first item, Snape always had a knack for potion-making. His talent was enough to get him noticed by Professor Slughorn as a student. He likely came to love the smell of his ingredients and the solitude of the storeroom of which he had complete control.
Second, aside from Lily, Snape didn’t have friends. He was a bit of a loner, but Hogwarts was equally a home to him as it was to Harry and Voldemort, given his unfortunate home life. He might have liked the smell of the isolated chambers and corridors of his home.
The third is obvious. Lily was his primary motivation for everything he did, so much so that his Patronus was molded after hers. Her scent definitely stuck with him throughout the remainder of his life.
Finally, Black Lake is a fairly Slytherin-associated landmark of the school, being that the common rooms are located underneath it. If Snape liked fresh air and reading, it’s fun to imagine him next to the lake with a textbook.
For the readers, Amortentia is a powerful insight into the deepest desires of our favorite characters.
While it’s unfortunate that we have so few interactions with Amortentia in the books, it’s still fun to imagine what our favorite characters might have smelled in the most powerful love potion in existence.