The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.
It was quite unexpected to have Dumbledore to die that way.
I was mockingly serious about Molly, admittedly, but I didn’t want to be on the ‘Dumbledore dies!’ bandwagon. I read spoilers, see, so I knew before I picked up my copy of the book who died. How? It’s called 6 hours lag time, baby. I logged on, found a HP site I trusted, and went to see who’d done what I always do and jumped to the last bit. Yup, there was the Big D, dead as a doornail.
But killed by Snape? Wow. Didn’t see that aspect of it.
It felt a little contradictory, though. All through the book we’re making Voldemort a (slightly) more likeable character via the memories in the Pensive. At the same time, we’ve spent five books making Snape redeemable. To pitch Snape into the role of whole-hearted, unadulterated evil felt anti-thematic to the progression of Voldemort.
I like the character of Snape. We all knew teachers who were completely terrible people, and yet were very good at their work, this is true. But other than a glimpse of Snape’s memories in the Occlumency classes and again in the Pensive, we never really know why Snape went evil. Now, at the end of the sixth book, we have proof that can not be denied. Snape killed Dumbeldore. Snape is evil. There can be no room for discussion. Or can there?
It would be pity to have him so clearly defined. One can argue that Snape was forced to kill Dumbledore because he took an Unbreakable Vow to do so. No one forced him to take that vow, and while it’s possible Snape was doing it to prove to Bellatrix that he really was as serious about the Death Eating as he’d ever been, it doesn’t seem like the sort of vow one takes on a whim. Still, this can partly be set up for the death of Dumbledore. Snape didn’t really want to kill Dumbledore, he wanted Draco to do it, and as such was trying to help Draco to fail, so that Draco would be out of the picture. Maybe. And one can also argue that Snape had lied to Narcissa Malfoy about ‘knowing’ Voldemort’s plan and was trying to trick her. Again, the fact that he took an Unbreakable Vow, a very serious sort of thing, without knowing the consequences? This is not what a smart person does. And of all things, Snape is very smart.
Is Dumbledore dead? Yes. Did Snape kill him? Yes. These are the only facts we know without a doubt. Having Snape kill Dumbledore makes him, in the eyes of many younger readers, more evil than Voldemort himself.
For all this, Snape remains a sympathetic character. We know now he is a half-blood who came to Hogworts knowing more dark magic than most fifth years, Snape’s family life seems to have been atrocious and abusive (similar to Tom/Voldemort’s perhaps). Snape is also quite inventive, resourceful and, frankly, brilliant at potions. But he wants something he can not have: to teach Defense Against the Darks Arts. Given that Dumbledore says he’d been unable to keep a DADA teacher more than a year after turning down Tom/Voldemort, I would guess that Dumbledore was protecting Snape.
There remain a possibility to the ‘why’ of Dumbledore’s death that can redeem Snape. Most people are going to think that Snape really is a Death Eater and thusly killed Dumbledore, having deceived Dumbledore by the use of Legilimency. But given that Hagrid overheard Snape and Dumbledore “having a row,” what if this was done to destroy Voldemort’s power base. What if this was done to protect another teenaged boy? What if this was done to save Draco?
After all, Snape is forced to kill Dumbledore because Draco cannot do it, and Snape swore an Unbreakable Vow to help Draco and to do ‘it’ if Draco could not. If we are to assume that Draco’s task was to kill Dumbledore, then we could assume that Snape had told Dumbledore of this. Then, to cement his standing in the Death Eater world, Snape would have to step up and do the hard thing: kill Dumbledore. “You agreed to do it, so you will,” said Dumbledore to Snape, and so he did.
In the fourth book, Snape is harsh and unforgiving to the other ‘reformed’ Death Eater, and when the Minster of Magic refuses to believe that Voldemort is back, Snape shoves the smoldering, bright mark of the Dark Lord in his face. While I originally said, when I finished the book, that Snape must be evil and he must have used Occlumency to hide his true nature from Dumbledore, I believe I was wrong. If Snape was powerful enough to obscure the mind of Dumbledore, Harry would have been no problem. After all, Harry is 15 and not all that skilled at the powers of the mind. That Snape did not succeed in clouding Harry’s easy prey of a mind implies that there was no need to. Snape, while a total git, was actually on the side of right.
Snape must have been given a task by Dumbledore, to act again as double-agent, and the only way to fully become the role was for Snape to do something only a Death Eater could and would do. As for Draco, well, he was likely little more than a pawn to Voldemort. A tool to be used and discarded, much like his father had been, and likely as all Death Eaters, even Snape, will be. Of course, Lucius Malfoy also possible pitched one of the Horcruxes, so he would be on the Death Eater Shit List anyway.
It all comes back to the tragic tale of Tom Marvolo Riddle, aka I am Lord Voldemort. The name is as pretentious as one might expect from a 16 year-old boy.
His mother was abused by her father and brother, tricks a man into marrying her and then when she stops with the magic, he leaves. It’s worse than what happened to James and Lily, frankly. Young Tom couldn’t catch a single break. His father didn’t want anything to do with him, and Tom knows he’s ‘special’ and ‘different.’ While JKR tries to pull back and point out things like Tom liked to nick things and was suspected of abusing his powers, she remains careful to note how alone Tom is in the world. There has never been anyone for him but himself, and even the presence of the kind Dumbledore does nothing to make him feel cared for.
Kind Dumbledore may be incorrect. When Harry is introduced to magic, it is by the bumbling, caring Hagrid. Harry is, at that point, ill-cared for, mistreated, abused by his cousin, and essentially the Cinderella. For all his abuses, though, Harry retains hope in the world and is able to, borrowing Dumbledore’s term, love. Tom also had within him the potential to be similar. Perhaps it’s that Tom was smarter than Harry and was able to discern his true nature without verification (though we know that Hermione is possibly the most brilliant witch in ages, and even she didn’t know she was a witch until the letter came).
Harry wanted to be normal, to be left alone. Conversely, Tom wanted to stand out and to be someone. But what happened at the orphanage to Tom to turn him into something so filled with hate he could not bear to trust even his most loyal sycophants? In a case of nature versus nurture, Voldemort is plainly cast as the Harry who might have been. Slytherin’s blood may be the cause of that, but Harry has some Slytherin inside him as well (Parseltongue is the key there). The Dursleys, while vain and pompous, are not evil and yet they suffer from the greatest sin of all: selfishness. Still, within Petunia one sees the seeds of humanity, in that she allowed Harry to remain with her, even for a day, and showed him some thinned out version of love. If not love to Harry, than to his mother and Pentunia’s sister. That Harry’s grandparents are never spoken of implies that they are dead, and one might suspect Voldemort killed them to ensure no more wizards came from that line. No doubt the Dursley blood is Muggle enough to drown out any potential the Evans family had, though why was Petunia not killed as well?
Why did Dumbledore treat Tom differently than Harry? Did he see Harry as a method by which he too, like Slughorn, could redeem himself from his mistakes with Tom? Indeed, the parallels between the Potter series and Star Wars (and thusly many other actually good stories), abound. It’s easy to see Dumbledore as Obi Wan, having created a monster with Tom/Voldemort and a hero with Harry.
In the fifth book we saw Harry at his worst. In the sixth book, we see him not at his best, but at a place where he gains the abilities to rise up and do what is right. Harry gives up his home, Hogwarts, and his girlfriend, Ginny, to do the right thing and stop Voldemort. By keeping his friends, Hermione and Ron, he separates himself further from the isolated anger that enveloped Tom Riddle and created of him Lord Voldemort. While Harry doesn’t want to bring more people into a fight he knows will end with pain, I suspect that in the latter half of the next book, Ginny, Neville, Luna and other members of the DA will come forward by their own volition (or perhaps the threat of a Bat-Bogey Hex by Ginny) to fight alongside Harry. Alongside those DA students we’ll find the teachers we love, including Snape, and possibly Draco.
Dumbledore trusted Snape for the selfsame reason Harry could not. Snape told Dumbledore that it was he who knew of the prophecy and he who told it to Voldemort. It’s Snape’s fault that Voldemort went after Harry’s parents, by that regard, and Harry is right to be angered by that. However, it’s also Snape’s fault that, perhaps, Voldemort did not have the full information of the prophecy. Snape may have held information back, or had his own memory tampered with so that even the skilled Occlumentist of Voldemort would be unable to divulge the truth. Perhaps it was even Dumbledore himself who changed Snape’s memory. Still, it’s most likely that Snape swore an Unbreakable Vow to Dumbledore to do all in his power to aid and assist the Order (or something similar).
We must also remember that Severus Snape is both a Legilimens and an Occlumens. Being a Legilimens means he can read peoples’ minds (Voldemort has the ability to know when someone is lying to him, and this is shown in the sixth book when he attempts it on Dumbledore). Being an Occlumens means Snape can defend himself against a Legilimens. In fact, Snape is said to be better at Occlumency than Voldemort is at Legilimency. It’s possible, indeed, that Snape is clouding the minds of both Voldemort and Dumbledore. At the same time, we have proof in the sixth book that Voldemort and Dumbledore are at some sort of even level when it comes to those skills. Young Tom Riddle was unable to make Dumbledore tell the truth, and twenty-something Voldemort was also seemingly unable to read Dumbledore’s mind. We can guess, based on other information regarding Dumbledore, that he is indeed a better Occlumens than anyone else, and thus can defend himself against the Legilimency of Voldemort and Snape.
, which is how he has survived in his difficult role of spy among the Death Eaters for so long
The best evidence of Snape’s good intentions are that he refused to let anyone kill Harry. One might argue that Voldemort really did just want to save Harry for his own, but there’s no proof in that. The prophecy states that, yes, one must die at the hands of the other, but certainly Snape could have severely weakened Harry and made him easy prey. Voldemort was willing to kill Harry as a baby, he should have no compunctions against killing him as a wounded young man. Instead, Snape leaves Harry unhurt and alive, while whisking Draco off to parts unknown. Draco lives for the same reason Snape must: they are needed.
The Sorting Hat said, again, that all four houses must come together for there to be victory. Draco and Snape (and Slughorn, perhaps) are our key representations of House Slytherin, and as such we must assume they will band together with Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw beside brave Griffindor.
What is to come is obvious. Harry must collect the Horcruxes and destroy them in order to defeat Lord Voldemort. At least one, the ring, is already destroyed. Of the Horcruxes, given that the Sorting Hat keeps saying that the Houses need to band together, it makes sense that Voldemort would use an item from each House to cement his power and his safety. Seven being a big number to Wizards, we can also safely assume that Voldemort has seven Horcruxes. We know that one was the diary of Tom Riddle (seen and destroyed in the second book), and another was the ring of Marvolo Gaunt (seen and rendered powerless by Dumbledore in the sixth book). That leaves us with five.
Many people have suggested that Harry is one, and that’s why his blood was needed for the ritual in book four. Dumbledore and Voldemort make it clear that the blood was needed to permit Voldemort to touch Harry. Part of the spell Lily cast was what allowed Harry to burn Quirrel/Voldemort in the end of book one, and thus would have been a huge advantage when Voldemort attempted to kill Harry later. While Harry has recieved some of Voldemort’s abilities due to the botched Avada Kedavra when Harry was a baby, the possibility that Harry contains part of Voldemort’s soul and is a Horcrux seems to be the edge of reason.
It’s possible that Harry being a Horcrux is why Snape didn’t kill him in the sixth book. While at first this appears likely, the prophecy seems to contradict. Clearly we are told that “either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.” If Voldemort killed Harry, he would be killing a part of himself. It is possible that there is a spell to remove a Horcrux from an item, but as Gaunt’s Slytherin ring shows, the Horcrux tends to continue to exist once it has lost it’s power. Harry, if he were a Horcrux, would likely be left alive.
Also contradicting this is the fact that Dumbledore believes Nagini, the snake of book four fame, to be a living Horcrux. This is evidenced by Voldemort’s great control over the snake. Voldemort did show amazing power over Harry in books four and five, but he was forced to use the Imperius Curse or Legilimency. Also, Harry was very much aware of these things being done to him, so it would be nigh impossible for Voldemort to secretly use Harry. Of course, Harry will likely spend a lot of time now practicing Occlumency. Lacking the easy control over Harry is one of the bigger indictors that he is not a Horcrux.
The seventh Horcrux is most likely to be Voldemort himself, which leaves us with three. Using information gleaned from the Pensive, we can safely suspect the cup of Helga Hufflepuff is one and the locket of Salazar Slytherin another. The last item has been speculated to be of Rowena Ravenclaw or of Godric Gryfindor. Because Voldemort does not trust Gryfindor, for much the same petty reasons Harry and his friends distrust Slytherin, it’s possible he chose to overlook Godric’s items and fixated instead of Hufflepuff. This could explain why the Sorting Hat encourages the Houses to band together, for it may know a flaw in Voldemort’s plans.
We already know that the Slytherin locket Harry and Dumbledore found was a false locket, and was stolen by R.A.B. This is probably Regulus A. Black, Sirius’ younger brother who had been a Death Eater, turned from the path and was killed for it. Though why he did not sign his name, I don’t know other than to confuse the reader. It’s possible this is the locket no one was able to open (in book five) and it’s either still at House Black or was nicked by Kreacher or Mundungus Fletcher. Either way, Harry will have to use Kreacher to help him get it back.
There’s probably another at Godrick’s Hollow, or possibly a clue for where one is. This is a literary give-away, as we know Harry, Ron and Hermione will be going there after Bill and Fleur’s wedding.
Who will die in the end? Snape, most certainly. If he’s really a white hat, he’ll die because he’s a hero. If he’s a Death Eater, he’ll be killed. Of the others, I suspect miscellaneous students will die, people we’re not invested in. But to bring the point home, Rowling must kill of some more of our beloved characters. At least one Weasly we know and like must die (Fred or George, likely not both, or even my ace in the hole, Molly) to make us ache once more at the end of the novels. Percy and Charlie are dark horses and would be cheap shots, since neither of them are loved. Mad Eye Moody will surely die, and perhaps a teacher we’ve known longer (Flitwick or Hagrid) as well. Hagrid’s another dark horse, since I think Grawp will be the reason the giants don’t attack. Similarly, Lupin (and possibly Bill Weasly) will be the reasons the werewolves are held at bay, and they too will live. If Mundungus has the locket of Slytherin, he will probably die, and it’s likely no matter what that Kreacher will die as well (Dobby I predict will become Harry’s House Elf).
That Voldemort and Tom Riddle die is also a given. Harry is our hero and he will live, but Voldemort must be first turned into Tom Riddle again (by destroying his Horcruxes) and then Tom must be killed as well. Likely Harry will use Avada Kedavra, since that’s how his parents were killed. There remains the possibility that Harry’s ability to love will make it impossible for him to kill Voldemort.
That is, of course, another essay.