These are some of the clues contained in the pages of Harry Pottter and the Half-Blood Prince which support the possibility that Dumbledore is not really dead, and that everything that happened that night was planned well in advance by Dumbledore himself.
Each one of these clues is perhaps, by itself not completely convincing, but if you put them all together…
(Page numbers shown are for US Edition/UK Edition.)
1. Dumbledore’s Big Chill
Harry and Dumbledore are up on the top of the tower underneath the Dark Mark. Harry is wearing his invisibility cloak, Dumbledore ordered him to put it on before they mounted their brooms to ride to the top of the tower. Harry hears footsteps and looks around, but Dumbledore orders him with a gesture to retreat. Harry draws his wand and backs away:
The door burst open and somebody erupted through it and shouted, “Expelliarmus!” Harry’s body became instantly rigid and immobile, and he felt himself fall back against the tower wall, propped like an unsteady statue, unable to move or speak.(HBP pg 584/545)
It’s interesting to note that things are happening so fast, even Harry is momentarily confused:
He could not understand how it happened — Expelliarmus was not a Freezing Charm — Then, by the light of the Mark, he saw Dumbledore’s wand flying in an arc over the edge of the ramparts and understood… Dumbledore had wordlessly immobilzed Harry, and the second he had taken to perform this spell had cost him the chance of defending himself. (HBP pg 584/545)
Why did Dumbledore freeze Harry? Harry was already invisible to their attackers and in no danger.
The only explanation could be that Dumbledore already knew, had already planned, that he would die this night (or appear to die), and not only did he not want Harry to become involved and possibly be injured himself, he needed Harry to be a witness, to be able to tell everyone else what happened.
Dumbledore might have also promised Snape that he would make sure that Harry would not be able to interfere, knowing how Harry feels about Snape and what Snape was about to have to do.
The supposition that it was Dumbledore’s plan to do this all along is supported by the fact that he acted so quickly to do it, almost without thinking, when Draco burst in on the scene.
Harry’s own assumption that the Freezing Charm was done by Dumbledore is supported by the fact the curse lifted when Dumbledore left the tower minutes later.
2. Let’s All Play Dead Together
While Dumbledore is trying to talk Draco out of killing him, Dumbledore proposes an interesting way out for Draco:
“I can help you, Draco.” “No, you can’t,” said Malfoy, his wand shaking very badly indeed. “Nobody can. He told me to do it or he’d kill me. I’ve got no choice.” “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.” (HBP pg 591/552)
Dumbledore then offers to expand his mother in the protection, and even Lucius when he gets out of Azkaban.
This is very interesting, isn’t it? Draco doesn’t take him up on it, but Dumbledore is saying he has ways that could make it appear that Draco died when he really hadn’t. Doesn’t that sound exactly like what we suspect that Dumbledore has planned for himself?
UK Edition Missing Important Text!
The UK edition of Half-Blood Prince is missing some text that is included in the American edition, and it’s text that is very important to this clue!
This is the text as it appears in the UK edition:
“He told me to do it or he’ll kill me. I’ve got not choice.” “Come over to the right side, Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine. What is more, I can send members of the Order to your mother tonight to hide her likewise. Your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban…when the time comes we can protect him too…come over to the right side, Draco…you are not a killer…” Malfoy stared at Dumbledore. (HBP UK Edition pg 552)
But this is the same passage from the American edition (text missing from the UK edition highlighted):
“He told me to do it or he’ll kill me. I’ve got no choice.” “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. What is more, I can send members of the Order to your mother tonight to hide her likewise. Nobody would be surprised that you had died in your attempt to kill me — forgive me, but Lord Voldemort probably expects it. Nor would the Death Eaters be surprised that we had captured and killed your mother — it is what they would do themselves, after all. Your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban…When the time comes we can protect him too. Come over to the right side, Draco…you are not a killer…” Malfoy stared at Dumbledore. (HBP US Edition pg 591)
Both of the ommissions are directly related, they are about having Draco appeared to have died, so it would seem the ommisions are intentional.
Did J.K. include those lines originally, and then decide she had gone too far and made the clue too transparent and obvious? Is it possible she decided to remove them, but the lines got accidentally included in the American edition anyway?
3. Fawkes doesn’t try to save Dumbledore
We’ve seen Fawkes come in at the last moment and save Harry’s life in Chamber of Secrets:
As Harry trembled, ready to close his eyes if it turned, he saw what had distracted the snake. Fawkes was soaring around its head, and the basilisk was snapping furiously at him with fangs long and thin as sabers — Fawkes dived. His long golden beak sunk out of sight and a sudden shower of dark blood spattered the floor. (CoS pg 318/234)
And he also saved Dumbledore in Order of the Phoenix:
… one more jet of green light had flown at Dumbledore from Voldemort’s wand and the snake had struck — Fawkes swooped down in front of Dumbledore, opened his beak wide, and swallowed the jet of green light whole. He burst into flame and fell to the floor, small, wrinkled and flightless. (OotP pg 814/719)
We know Fawkes was nearby the tower, as he shows up after Dumbledore’s “death”. So, why didn’t Fawkes come to save Dumbledore this time?
I think the fact that he didn’t makes it possible to believe that Dumbledore didn’t want his life to be saved, and this supports the theory that it was Dumbledore’s plan all along to “die” up on that tower that night.
4. The Flying Avada Kedavra [Updated 1/10/06]
As soon as I read the description of exactly what happened the moment that Snape killed Dumbledore, little red flags were popping up in my brain, but I didn’t pay attention to them at first. This was actually the very first clue that alerted me to this whole thing.
Every other time we’ve seen the Avada Kedavra performed, the victim simply falls over dead:
He was screaming so loudly that he never heard the words the thing in the chair spoke as it raised a wand. There was a flash of green light, a rushing sound, and Frank Bryce crumbled. He was dead before he hit the floor. (GoF pg 15/19)
From high above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, “Kill the spare.” A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words to the night: “Avada Kedavra!” A blast of green light blazed through Harry’s eyelids, and he heard something heavy fall to ground beside him. Cedric was lying spread-eagled on the ground beside him. He was dead. (GoF pg 638/553)
However, in Half-Blood Prince, when Snape curses Dumbledore with the same spell, Dumbledore violently flies up and away from the tower:
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore. “Avada Kedavra!” A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape’s wand and hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest. Harry’s scream of horror never left him; silently he was forced to watch as Dumbledore was blasted into the air. For a split second, he seemed to hang suspended beneath the shining skull, and then he slowly fell backward, like a great rag doll, over the battlements and out of sight. (HBP pg 596/556)
Why would this application of the Avada Kedavra be so different from every other time we’ve seen it?
Perhaps his spell was different because even though those were the words Snape said, he didn’t perform the killing curse at all. Remember all the importance this book gave to “nonverbal” spells? Perhaps Snape said Avada Kedavra, but the curse he was really thinking, the nonverbal one, was a different curse, one that only made it appear that Dumbledore was dead.
The possibilty that Snape said one curse and cast another nonverbally might not be as likely if we couldn’t recognize the curse that was really cast, but we can! Thanks to Brave Sir Blogger and Lindsay for bringing these passages to my attention:
Both of them swung their wands above their heads and pointed them at their opponent; Snape cried: “Expelliarmus!” There was a dazzling flash of scarlet light and Lockhart was blasted off his feet: He flew backward off the stage, smashed into the wall, and slid down it to sprawl on the floor. (CoS pg 190/142)
Harry made up his mind in a split second. Before Snape could take even one step toward him, he had raised his wand. “Expelliarmus!” he yelled — except that his wasn’t the only voice that shouted. There was a blast that made the door rattle on its hinges; Snape was lifted off his feet and slammed into the wall, then slid down it to the floor, a trickle of blood oozing from under his hair. He had been knocked out. Harry looked around. Both Ron and Hermione had tried to disarm Snape at exactly the same moment. (PoA pg 361/265)
In these examples from Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, different wizards are issuing the Expelliarmus spell with the results being described almost exactly the same way, the victim being voilenty blasted up and backwards. This also happens to be similar to the description of when Dumbledore is attacked up in the tower. So, even though Snape said Avada Kedavra, the evidence from the books shows that the nonverbal curse he cast was Expelliarmus!
Even the title of the chapter this all takes place in is suspicous, “The Lightning-Struck Tower”. Even though this is the name of the ominous tarot card that Trelawney was worried about back on page 543/507 in chapter 25, is it possible that J.K. is hinting here that the spell was not Avada Kedavra, but some other spell that had lightening-type effects instead?
5. Don’t Point That At Me Unless You Mean It
Several times in the course of the Harry Potter books, J.K. has told us that the Avada Kedavra is not a curse you can make lightly.
In Goblet of Fire, the fake Mad Eye Moody tells his DADA class:
“Avada Kedavra’s a curse that needs a powerful bit of magic behind it — you could all get your wands out now and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt I’d get so much as a nosebleed.” (GoF pg 217/192)
And in Order of the Phoenix, we learn more about Avada Kedavra when Harry tries to curse Bellatrix:
Hatred rose in Harry such that he had never known before. He flung himself out from behind the fountain and bellowed “Crucio!” Bellatrix screamed. The spell had knocked her off her feet, but she did not writhe or shriek with pain as Neville had — she was already on her feet again … “Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy?” she yelled. “You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain — to enjoy it …” (OotP pg 810/715)
If Snape was really working on Dumbledore’s orders to make it look to the world as if Snape had killed him, even if he had used the real Avada Kedavra, if he had not really meant it, if he really didn’t want to kill Dumbledore, then isn’t it possible that the curse didn’t kill Dumbledore, but only injured him badly?
6. Fawkes’ Lament
Directly after Dumbledore’s murder, as everyone assembled in the hospital wing, Harry tells everyone Snape did it. He stops, overcome with emotion, and right then, something very important happens:
Madame Pomfrey burst into tears. Nobody paid her any attention except Ginny, who whispered, “Shh! Listen!” (HBP pg 614/573)
Everyone was there, Ron and his parents, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks. Yet it is Madame Pomfrey who J.K. tells us is struck by this turn of events. Continuing:
Gulping, Madame Pomfrey pressed her fingers to her mouth, her eyes wide. Somewhere out in the darkness, a phoenix was singing in a way Harry had never heard before; a stricken lament of terrible beauty. (HBP pg 614/573)
J.K. spends another paragraph on how the phoenix song echos their grief, but while doing so mentions:
Harry felt, as he had felt about the Phoenix song before, that the music was inside him, not without … How long they stood there, listening, he did not know, nor why it seemed to ease their pain a little to listen… (HBP pg 615/573)
And then McGonagall enters, changes the subject, and the phoenix song is forgotten.
Many minutes later, after all the retelling of the night’s affair, J.K. mentions Fawkes is still at it:
They all fell silent. Fawkes’s lament was still echoing over the dark grounds outside. (HBP pg 621/579)
…but Harry’s thoughts move right on to other things, like wondering where Dumbledore’s body is now. Many minutes later still, as this meeting breaks up and Harry is following McGonagall up to what is now her office, J.K. interjects:
The corridors outside were deserted and the only sound was the distant phoenix song. (HBP pg 625/583)
Whatever it was he was doing, Fawkes was working hard at it, and not giving up. Yet we are supposed to believe, as in the title of this chapter, “The Phoenix Lament”, that it is only Dumbledore’s pet echoing everyone’s grief?
Are we so easily to forget that phoenix tears have powerful healing powers?
Significantly, it is the healer, Madame Pomfrey, who is brought to tears by the phoenix song. She knows the healing power of the phoenix well. She gulps with eyes wide. She recognizes something special is going on.
Also, J.K. goes out of her way to point out the healing qualities of the phoenix song, Harry feels it inside, the way he did last time he was healed by one, and most importantly, it seems to ease their pain!
From these passages, it certainly seems that J.K. wants us to know that Fawkes is doing some healing! Perhaps Fawkes is not powerful enough to bring someone back from the Avada Kedavra, but what if Dumbledore was not really hit by an Avada Kedrava, and instead hit with half a spell, or a spell to make him appear dead (as explained in the clues above)?
7. Anyone Seen Dumbledore’s Wand Lately?
At the very begining of the big scene between Draco, Dumbledore and Snape, one of the first things that happens is Dumbledore loses his wand:
The door burst open and somebody erupted through it and shouted, “Expelliarmus!” … by the light of the Mark, he saw Dumbledore’s wand flying in an arc over the edge of the ramparts … (HBP pg 584/545)
But where is his wand now?
We know a wizard’s wand is very important to him, and a wand that belonged to a wizard as powerful as Dumbledore would be a very important item to know the whereabouts of, something you wouldn’t want falling into the wrong hands.
This clue might not mean as much if we didn’t know the customs of wizards in such occasions, but we do! Five chapters ago, when Harry and Slughorn were consoling Hagrid over the death of Aragog, Hagrid and Sluggy sang a song about a wizard called Odo, and Sluggy sang the lines:
And Odo the hero, they bore him back home,
To the place that he’d known as a lad,
They laid him to rest with his hat inside out
And his wand snapped in two, which was sad. (HBP pg 488/456)
But as far as we know, they didn’t snap Dumbledore’s wand in two. After the scene at the top of the tower, Dumbledore’s wand is simply never mentioned again.
Is it possible that Dumbledore’s wand is missing because Dumbledore still has his wand, still needs his wand, because he’s not dead?
8. No Body, No Crime
The last time we really saw Dumbledore’s body was when Harry is kneeling over it shortly after he has been killed by Snape the previous day.
Now, we see Hagrid carry the body of Dumbledore into his funeral, but it’s covered:
Hagrid was walking slowly up the aisle between the chairs. He was crying quite silently, his face gleaming with tears, and in his arms, wrapped in purple velvet spangled with golden stars, was what Harry knew to be Dumbledore’s body. (HBP pg 643/599)
We never really see Dumbledore’s body at the funeral. How do we know it was there at all?
9. Caution: Dumbledore Is Flammable
As part of the funeral service, a fire ignites around the body of Dumbledore, and when it subsides, his body is encased in a white marble tomb.
Again, we don’t see the body, either before or after the fire.
But more importantly, no one lights the fire, it just happens on its own. A body bursting into flame on its own. That sound like anyone we know? We’ve seen Fawkes do that several times now in the course of the Harry Potter books, and you know what happens to Fawkes after every time it does.
Earlier in the book, we saw several instances where Dumbledore uses fire, an important aspect of the symbol of a phoenix. When he first meets Tom Riddle in the orphanage, to demonstrate he’s a wizard, he sets Tom’s wardrobe on fire. And he conjures fire to protect Harry and himself from the infiri in the cave.
And after all this, in case we didn’t get the allusions to a phoenix, J.K. reminds us just in case:
White smoke spiraled into the air and made strange shapes: Harry thought, for one heart-stopping moment, that he saw a phoenix fly joyfully into the blue, but next second the fire had vanished. (HBP pg 645/601)
All these clues seem to suggest that if Dumbledore really did die, he has the ability to be reborn out of the ashes of his death, either under his own power, or with the help of the healing powers of Fawkes.
Besides, even if Dumbledore’s body was there when it erupted into flame, we know that doesn’t mean anything to a wizard!
Non-magic people (more commonly known as muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very good at recognizing it. On the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever. The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation. (PoA pg 2/7)
So, who do they think they were fooling at the funeral?