Theory about Dumbledore in Book 6


"DO NOT READ THIS if you have not finished The Half-Blood Prince"

(I got a complaint from someone who came across this site without having finished the book, so I'm trying to make this site safer for any who find it later. So there will be some scrolling to do.)

scroll a while

it's for the good of all the google nation

but it's not just that some of the details might mess up the book, it's worse than that

because if you LIKE the total bafflement of "what the heck is going on!?," then speculation will be irritating

and I don't mean to irritate anyone at all.

If you haven't read the 6th Harry Potter book, turn back now.

Maybe you shouldn't read this until after the 7th book comes out and you've read THAT one, at which case it will be worthless one way or another, but safer for sure.

Here's a photo of a prairie dog (for the protection of people with page-shaped tall screens):

That prairie dog lived on the NE corner of Tramway and Indian School, in Albuquerque, two years ago; might still!


The next (which was the original) warning.

DO NOT READ THIS if you will be disappointed if it's true.

(go on; get)

If as you read you think of things to add, or arguments against this theory, please write to me:
[email protected]

I don't think Dumbledore is dead; lots of people don't.

With a clue from my friend Jeff, who said that the last part didn't seem like Dumbledore, I re-read it to see who it could be, and I have an elegant theory, which should NOT BE READ by anyone who wants to just wait and see what happens without any weird ideas.

From the point that Harry meets Professor Trelawney outside the Room of Requirement and she tells him that Snape overheard the prophecy to the end of the book, I think Snape and Dumbledore have used polyjuice potion to exchange shapes for the following purposes:


Robyn Coburn posted:

Dumbledore is definitely, and definitively, dead according to JKRowling as seen on this MSN video of a writers’ event at Radio City Music Hall, benefiting Doctors Without Borders amongst other charities.

Scroll down to the Editor’s Picks for the JKR alone segment. She urged everyone to move on, and apologized for spoiling the fun over at

Robyn L. Coburn

. . . . I guess what has me smiling is that although JKR did say, “Dumbledore is dead” she did *not* answer Salman Rushdie’s main question and elucidate whether or not Snape is really evil. That was the neat distraction/sidestep.

Robyn L. Coburn

Someone wrote **=--I needed her to say it absolutely clear: Dumbledore IS dead -=-

Was Jesus dead?
Is Jesus dead?

Until the last book is out, I'm not trusting anything or anyone.


Sandra: I figure she can plainly say "is dead" and yet not keep him dead.

Betsy: I was going to say that anyone who has a phoenix for a pet has a strong possibility of a resurrection story line.

Snape takes Harry off campus when Dumbledore knows Death Eaters will be arriving. Malfoy needs to be prevented from killing Dumbledore. Snape needs to drink the potion that's in the cave so that he can "be killed" in the guise of Dumbledore, and not accidentally be actually killed by anyone else. Death Eaters won't attack Snape (who is actually Dumbledore).

pages and clues:

Just in general, the pamphlet warned of polyjuice disguises, and the potions room had a cauldron of polyjuice potion all made up. It seemed Tonks was using it, but turns out she was just lovesick.

Note came (through Jimmy Peakes; I don't remember anything about him) for Harry to meet Dumbledore as soon as he could.

Just moments later there was a scream and a crash outside the Room of Requirement; Trelawney couldn't get in.

Bottom of page 547 Harry is furious at/about Snape but hasn't said so; "Dumbledore looked more closely at Harry... "What has upset you?" (nothing) "Harry, you were never a good Occlumens—"
That's something Snape knows and cares about more than Dumbledore.

Harry starts the rant about Snape, then "Dumbledore's expression did not change, but Harry thought his face whitened under the bloody tinge cast by the setting sun... " (From there, if it's Snape, makes sense.)

"You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned—" (Harry cuts him off to say Snape IS a good Occlumens, and to ask other questions...)

"Dumbledore drew himself up to his full height."
He usually slouches comfortably. But Snape, on the other hand... that's a posture that's been described of him I think.

553, at the door, Dumbledore (maybe Snape) says "I would like you to wear your cloak, please." Dumbledore would have just said "Put your cloak on now, Harry, so you won't be seen leaving the building" or some such, I think.

they didn't go into the Three Broomsticks, said they were going to the Hog's Head.
Dumbledore's brother probably works in the Hog's Head. Seems so. "Dumbledore" who was with Harry didn't want to be seen. Maybe he couldn't have passed as Albus in the presence of Abeforth. No reason not to be seen apparating from Hogsmeade, right?

as they jump into the water: "And with the sudden agility of a much younger man, Dumbledore slid from the boulder, landed in the sea, and began to swim, with a perfect breaststroke..."

same page, Harry "saw Dumbledore rising out of the water ahead, his silver hair and dark robes gleaming." (Why so much physical description?)

"Now it is Lord Voldemort's obstacles that stand in our way, rather than those nature made."

Would Snape be better able to discover and countermand dark stuff?

AND... did Dumbledore wait purposely to give Snape his one-year shot at the dark arts class until Harry would be old enough to really need to know? Seems risky, as he's almost died every year...
But the author knew he wasn't going to die and might've saved Snape until year next-to-the-last.

Danielle Conger wrote:

Beginning my re-read, and thought this might be interestingly connected: The first question Snape asks Harry in potions class is what do you get when combine asphodel and wormwood: "For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death." (chapter 8, book 1) Interestingly enough, the second thing he asks about is a bezoar, which we know is what saves Ron's life in book 6. The third thing is wolfsbane, which has to do with Lupin and who knows what else in book 7, considering all kinds of werewolf stuff has been introduced. All crucial potions for the series?

page 559 1/3 way down, he put his uninjured hand inside his robes and took out "a short silver knife of the kind Harry used to chop potion ingredients."

559 2/3 down, "Once again, Lord Voldemort fails to grasp that there are much more terrible things than physical injury." (Maybe making reference to personal remorse, if it is Snape.)

561 Harry asked what about a summoning charm and "Dumbledore" abruptly stopped and suggested he (Harry) do it. Why? Is Snape not good at summoning? Would a "summons" from Snape leave a record? Was Snape only doing untraceable magic (if it was Snape,) in case that room could be checked later for who did what, as they checked the most recent spell done with Harry's wand after the World Cup?

Thoughts after re-reading the beginning: Dumbledore was still at ease with that blackened hand, and was using his wand easily at the Dursley's (pouring drinks, plunking them on the couch like an opening scene of The Simpsons), and the wand use was mentioned several times. And... would it need to be a part of the disguise for Snape to be using Dumbledore's wand?? CAN people use other people's wands very efficiently/normally? The hand would probably have been harder for him to operate. I think I remember from when Harry and Ron went in polyjuice disguise that they had to consciously mimic the gestures and posture of the people they were being or they would act like themselves. So in any case, I don't think Snape-as-Dumbledore could (maybe for various reasons) operate Dumbledore's wand hand very well.
Lupin defended Snape earlier in the book for being the best at potions, and for making his anti-werewolf stuff exactly right and regularly. If that potion was no problem to make, Dumbledore could've done it for Lupin, or Sprout maybe.

"Out of the way, please, Harry."
Dumbledore might've said it more nicely. "Out of the way" has been what Snape has said other times, I think.

568 The message after the examination of the potion was "This potion cannot be penetrated by hand, Vanished, parted, scooped up, or siphoned away, nor can it be Transfigured, Charmed, or otherwise made to change its nature."

That's a lot to know about a potion from a brief examination.

570 Two uses of "did you not?" which seems a Snape phrase-choice.

571 "Harry stared into the whitened face he knew so well..."

After several goblets of the potion, "Dumbledore" sank to his knees and sobbed "It's all my fault, all my fault. Please make it stop. I know I did wrong, oh please make it stop and I'll never, never again..."
"Don't hurt them, don't hurt them, please, please, it's my fault, hurt me instead."
And there's a little more of that kind of response.

When he's collapsed in the street in Hosgmeade Harry says they need to get to Madam Pomfrey, but he says "It is...Professor Snape whom I need." The ellipsis was in there. (He needs Dumbledore if this is the switch, and was too weak maybe to get the name straight right away).

My earlier theory about them wanting to be gone when death eaters came isn't good, because "Dumbledore" says, when Rosmerta shows them the Death Mark is over the school, "We need to return to the castle at once."

Their plan didn't include the thought that anyone would be killed, and Snape-as-Dumbledore knew the faculty or Order of the Phoenix needed help. But he wanted to keep Harry safe, still... And if he were to collapse and revert to his Snape form that would quite botch the plan, so he needed to be where Dumbledore-as-Snape was.
When they're on the brooms:
"Harry glanced sideways at Dumbledore, ready to grab him should he fall, but the sight of the Dark Mark seemed to have acted upon Dumbledore like a stimulant: He was bent low over his broom, his eyes fixed upon the Mark, his long silver hair and beard flying behind him on the night air."
The combination of the world "stimulant" and yet another physical description seem good clues.

Now a confusing point. On the tower, "Dumbledore" says "Go and wake Severus. Tell him what has happened and bring him to me. Do nothing else, speak to nobody else, and do not remove your cloak." If they switched, would the real Dumbledore be in Snape's room? MAYBE their joint intent was to keep Harry safely in Snape's room, far from all of it, but then he wouldn't witness the "death."

Malfoy seems under an enchantment to keep talking, on the tower. “Dumbledore” closed his eyes again and nodded, as though he was about to fall asleep. “…of course…Rosmerta.” He was reading Malfoy’s mind (Snape’s best thang). Malfoy was answering questions “as though he was compelled to keep talking.”

When Malfoy says he got the idea of poisoning the mead “from the Mudblood Granger”: “Please do not use that offensive word in front of me” which would make more sense coming from Snape (who is drugged by the potion into the deepest remorse) than from Dumbledore.

Draco COULD have “killed” him (tried to), because he wasn’t actually going to die anyway because of the potion from the cave. He says “Draco you have had several long minutes now, we are quite alone, I am more defenseless than you can have dreamed of finding me, and still you have not acted…”

If that is Snape, then he’s safe from the potion that won’t let him die, and if Draco THOUGHT he killed Dumbledore, he would have completed his oath. That would’ve been good for false confidence in Draco and Voldemort. So even though Dumbledore-as-Snape had to pretend to finish Draco’s deed, Snape-as-Dumbledore was safe from death.

“No harm has been done, you have hurt nobody, though you are very lucky that your unintentional victims survived….I can help you, Draco. He cannot kill you if you are already dead. Come over to the right side, Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine.. . .Nobody would be surprised that you had died in your attempt to kill me. … your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban….when the time comes, we can protect him too. . . “No, Draco… it is my mercy, and not yours, that matters now.”

If that is Snape, then Snape is showing mercy to Harry AND to Draco AND to Dumbledore all at the same time, and his mercy IS mattering, and saving all their lives.

When false-Snape appears it says "Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face." What is etched into his face is not of the moment. When Ron and Harry were polyjoiced into Crabbe and Goyle, they had the facial expressions of the host bodies. Not their words, and not their posture, but expressions, I think so.

That potion was not making him feel good, and he did NOT want Malfoy to "do the deed" because there is advantage in letting Malfoy stay clean. Snape won't die, but he WILL be out of the current situation and of his emotional exhaustion.

What has Avada Kedavra done before? Not thrown people in the air, I don't think. So Snape-as-Dumbledore is presumed dead (doesn't look dead, when Harry sees him later, except for the odd angles of limbs, but limbs can be easily repaired). A wordless spell was thrown and the words were only for show. You have to really mean "Avada Kedavra" ("The false One Eye Moody told them in class that you have to do the Avada Kedavra spell with all your will, if not, you'll only cause a nose bleed...:)").

"Harry felt as though he too were hurtling through space; it had not happened....It could not have happened." (And I don't think it did.)

Harry “had to get to Dumbledore and he had to catch Snape. . ..Somehow the two things were linked. . . .He could reverse what had happened if he had them both together.”

Numbers-from-folklore time: Three and Seven:

1. Harry paralyzed one deatheater on the tower (petrificus totalus)
2. and then Fenrir in the corridor below (petrificus totalus)
3. and Aycus who was fighting Ginny (impedimenta)
He ran the big blond one off, who had been fighting McGonagall, but didn’t floor him.

Got nearer to Draco and “Snape” and tried “Stupefy,” but missed. “Run, Draco!” (Dumbledore-as-Snape said)
Harry tried “Cruc—“ but it was “parried.” (#1)
“Cruc—“ “but Snape blocked the spell again. (#2)
“No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter! You haven’t got the nerve or the ability.”
“Incarc —“ but [Dumbledore-as-Snape] “deflected the spell with an almost lazy flick of his arm.”(#3)

“Fight back!” Harry screamed at him. “Fight back, you cowardly—“

Tried two more, back to smaller curses, Stupe— and Impedi— (#4, #5) with “Snape” saying he’s NOT a coward. If Snape saved Harry from Voldemort when he was a baby, and Dumbledore knows that, then Dumbledore would be truly offended on Snape’s behalf.

When someone DID hit Harry with a blast of something, “Snape” yelled “No!” and the pain stopped “as suddenly as it had started.”

“Septum—“ (#6) [Dumbledore-as-Snape] flicked his wand and the curse was repelled yet again; but Harry was mere feet away now and he could see Snape’s face clearly at last: Rage…

Harry thought, Levi— (#7, the first wordless one)

“No, Potter!” and there was a loud bang, Harry soared backward, hit the ground, and his wand flew out of his hand.

This paragraph confuses me: “You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them— I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you’d turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don’t think so…” Is Dumbledore saying what he thinks Snape would say?

Harry’s taken a dive for the wand but “Snape” caused it to fly away out of sight. All the wand work in that scene is effortless and reminded me of the scene at the Dursleys early in the book when Dumbledore is setting people on the couch and serving drinks with the slightest wand flicks.

Harry called him a coward and gets “DON’T CALL ME COWARD!”

Neither Snape nor Dumbledore was a coward at that point, and neither wanted to hurt Harry, but Harry was endangering them both by stalling the escape and endangering their rescue of Malfoy. If I'm right, Snape has suffered for fifteen years now, and been loyal to Dumbledore, and though Dumbledore can't tell Harry all that yet, he's probably not in the mood for Harry to attack Snape directly or indirectly. Cathyn wrote: "When you mention the parts about Dumblodore-as-Snape turning aside Harry's spells, you leave out that he's doing it with wand flicks, Dumbledore's trademark."

For this to work, Harry has to really believe that Dumbledore is dead. Both Dumbledore and Snape know that. They know that Harry can be read, and especially can be read by Voldemort. That’s where anyone who is good with Legimancy can check to confirm: Harry. And the intensified love he has for Dumbledore (“dumbledore’s man”) will strengthen him.

Hagrid seems sure that Snape wouldn’t kill Dumbledore. Probably Hagrid knows Snape saved Harry, already as a baby, but that’s a secret Hagrid MUST keep or Snape is in danger. Harry says he saw the murder. Hagrid “shook his head; his expression was disbelieving but sympathetic…”

“What musta happened was, Dumbledore musta told Snape to go with them Death Eaters,” Hagrid said confidently. “I suppose he’s gotta keep his cover.”

If Dumbledore-as-Snape is going with the death eaters, that
1) keeps Snape’s cover
2) gets Dumbledore off campus before the potion wears off
3) possibly can get Dumbledore into the death eaters' meeting place

“Even as [Harry] stared wordlessly at the place where he thought Dumbledore’s body must lie…” the verb choice is interesting. It's where Harry THOUGHT it must lie, doesn’t say “where Dumbledore’s body lay” or “where Dumbledore had fallen.”

609 “Dumbledore’s eyes were closed; but for the strange angle of his arms and legs, he might have been sleeping.” Harry straightened his glasses and wiped a trickle of blood from the mouth with his own sleeve. “Then he gazed down at the wise old face and tried to absorb the enormous and incomprehensible truth: that never again would Dumbledore speak to him, never again could he help. . . .”
But we know that arms and legs can be rebuilt.

"The false One Eye Moody told them in class that you have to do the Avada Kedavra spell with all your will, if not, you'll only cause a nose bleed...:)" [Sandra note: And Harry wiped a trickle of blood from "Dumbledore's" mouth with his own sleeve.]

Harry needs to absorb that idea so strongly that he’s exuding it.
Harry's belief is the strongest part of Dumbledore’s disguise.
Those who can read Harry WILL try to read him, and if he doesn't believe Dumbledore is dead, Dumbledore will not be safe.

A friend sent me your! On the idea of who might be in on the switch, I think R.A.B is Sirius' brother who "died" behind the some point in one of the earlier book. (If I have time to look back, I will send you book and page# later.) Possibly he is not dead and has been watching over and assisting as well with horcruxes, etc. The polyjuice theory sure would explain alot.

Just a thought.

I found what made me think Sirius' brother was involved. In Order of the Phoenix, page 111-112 Sirius talks to Harry about his family and the history of his brother Regulus. It never mentions a middle initial so I could be way off but it was the first thing to come to me when I read Half Blood Prince and they discovered the note. I am not sure why Regulus stuck in my head in the first place??

[About the locket and note from R.A.B.:] “Harry neither knew nor cared what the message meant. Only one thing mattered: This was not a Horcrux. Dumbledore had weakened himself by drinking that terrible potion for nothing. “

But I think Snape drank the terrible potion for the purpose of being deathproof long enough for Dumbledore to save Malfoy (and himself, and Snape, and Harry).

“The Gryffindor rubies glistened on the floor like drops of blood.” That might have been the Gryffindor Horcrux.

When Harry heard the Phoenix song he felt it was “his own grief turned magically to song.” Maybe it was. Maybe it was Harry’s grief/love that made Fawkes sing, if there was no death.

Tonks says “But Dumbledore swore he was on our side! I always thought Dumbledore must know something about Snape that we didn’t…” (That Snape saved Harry, maybe.)

McGonagall: “He always hinted that he had an ironclad reason for trusting Snape… Dumbledore told me explicitly that Snape’s repentance was absolutely genuine.”

Harry tells them two things he knows: That Snape passed on the info that made Voldemort go after his mom and dad, and that Snape had called his mother a mudblood (“He didn’t think my mother was worth a damn either…”)

Dumbledore had told McGonagall he would be gone a few hours and for them to patrol the corridors. But he didn’t tell them how the death eaters could have entered. Maybe he thought the DA would be guarding there? Maybe he didn’t know?

If Dumbledore-as-Snape stupefied Flitwick and sent Hermione and Luna in there to check on him, it was probably to keep them all safe and out of the battle.

The tower door was blocked so no one else could get up there, probably for the safety of the plan. Dumbledore-as-Snape could get through but no one else, so he’s probably the one who blocked it. He was trying to keep students out of the fight, and to keep too many people from being on the tower where they had to “kill Dumbledore” and make Harry believe it and not have anyone screw that all up, or get hurt.

Hagrid reported to McGonagall that he had “moved him” (Dumbledore). Maybe Snape could have made a dummy body, or something, and taken off. Hagrid's reference was usually "Professor Dumbledore" in full, not even just "Dumbledore." To use the flat "him" makes more sense if he's being careful to use something that could apply to either Dumbledore or Snape. It's also Hagrid's habit to say things accidentally, so "him" is the safest choice of words, and keeps it true and honest.

Dumbledore in his portrait was sleeping, looking peaceful and untroubled.

There were moments when Harry still found it difficult to believe that Dumbledore had really gone: “Admittedly he had not, as he had with Sirius, looked desperately for some kind of loophole, some way that Dumbledore would come back.”

Harry was feeling some pity and compassion for Malfoy and didn’t believe he would have killed Dumbledore.

Hagrid was carrying “what Harry knew to be Dumbledore’s body” (the author's phrase). What Harry thinks he knows is what will be an important “truth” for a while.

At the funeral Harry is thinking of what Dumbledore told him about fighting evil, and he “saw very clearly” how people who cared about him had in turn stood in front of him:

“and finally Dumbledore, all determined to protect him…”
But that was Snape protecting him on the tower, and maybe also in line right after mother/father.

Maybe Snape was irritated with Sirius not only for being a friend of James’s but for getting all the godfather attention when Snape did the work to save Harry, but was unable to say so to Sirius or to anyone else who didn't already know.

What I don’t know:

Were there earlier switches? Not that I’m thinking of.

When and how did they or will they switch back?

Who’s in on this who could provide something as a body for the funeral? Madam Pomfrey? Professor McGonnagall ? Hagrid, maybe. Hagrid is a good secret-keeper. All of them are.

In the next book, if all this is so, we’ll get to know how real-Snape escaped and how/where Dumbledore-as-Snape reverted to himself.

Was James possibly cruel to Dumbledore too, or was Dumbledore just calmly aware of the degree of cruelty inflicted on Snape, and impressed that Snape still saved James’ son even though he had lost Lily to James?

NOT MY WORDS OR IDEAS FROM HERE DOWN (unless comment & specified):

Diana Jenner wrote:
I found another weirdness to add to your list (as I re-read it *again*, sparked by your theory page) pp. 262-263: as Harry and "Dumbledore" prepare to enter the Pensieve to relive the meeting of Dumbledore and Tom Riddle, there is NO description of "Dumbledore" removing the memory thread from his own head (or a bottle for that matter) and placing it into the bowl -- the previous memory, about the necklace sale, comes from a bottle (bottom p. 260-Dumbledore poured the fresh memories into the Pensieve and began swirling the stone basin once more between his long-fingered hands)

The lack of mention of the silver threads has me veeeery suspicious :) I'm loving your ideas and am sharing them with as many people as I can, restoring *some* kind of faith in the saga.

Found something here:

Snapes greatest secret?

I believe I may have figured out Snape's greatest secret. It is a secret that explains everything: why Snape hates Harry Potter (above and beyond the fact that Snape hated his father), yet risks his life to save him, why Snape wants the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, yet never gets it, why Snape is utterly trusted by Dumbledore, and why Voldemort believes he can steal the power of Harry's mother's love by stealing Harry's blood.

I believe that Snape already saved Harry's life - when he was one year old. I think Snape defeated Voldemort.

Snape was spying for Dumbledore before the defeat of Voldemort, and kept his cover well enough that they could actually send him back in after Voldemort's return, to spy again in book five. However, this isn't enough to explain why Dumbledore is certain that Snape couldn't be a double agent, or willing to switch sides again, all by itself. There has to be more.

My theory comes in part from Snape's first introductory statements to his students in Book 1: "....I can teach you to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death...." I believe that Snape, knowing that Voldemort was after Harry Potter, offered to create a protective potion, by brewing Mother's Love. He may have offered this to stop Voldemort, to show up James Potter, and possibly because he loved Lilly. His potion infused Harry's mother's love into a powerful anti-curse enchantment, which settled into Harry's blood (as potions are known to do).

Snape wants recognition. He wants fame. He wants to let the entire world know that he, and he alone, has stopped the unstoppable curse. HE DEFEATED VOLDEMORT. Yet, he toils in ignominy, as a teacher of Potions, hardly the most respected of the Arts. To protect the secret of Snape's incredible achievement, Dumbledore won't even let Snape teach Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Then comes Harry Potter. Son of the hated James Potter. And HE GETS ALL THE CREDIT.

HE'S "The Boy Who Lived". HE'S famous. HE gets all the credit for stopping Voldemort, when he didn't do ANYTHING AT ALL. HE gets to break the rules, is beloved by half the wizarding world, is seen as a savior. And all that fame rightfully belongs to Snape.

And Snape? He gets NOTHING. He can't even teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, thereby showing that he at least an expert in this prestigious area of expertise. Even to this day, people still accuse him of being evil, of continuing to work for Voldemort. Even that ungrateful Potter boy suspects him of being Voldemort's ally. And he can't even tell them the truth. In his own mind, at least, he is the greatest defender against the Dark Arts in the world, possibly even greater than Dumbledore himself, and he gets no respect for it at all.

AKA David Nasset, Sr.
Geek Prophet to the Technologically Declined

\ I don't know who made this gif.
If anyone knows, please let me know so I can put a credit.
It's pretty wonderful.