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Severus Snape v. The Ministry of Magic
A Lawyer's Take on Whether Dumbledore Lives or Will Yet Live

Beyond Hogwarts Guest Article
by J.K. Rich

After reading Book Six in the Harry Potter saga, millions of Harry Potter fans were devastated to learn that after it all—after all the warnings and signs—Severus Snape is, in fact, evil. And, even more devastating—he had ed Professor Dumbledore right in front of The Boy That Lived. Or did he?

Not able to stomach Snape's betrayal and, even more so, Dumbledore's , and only hours after the book's release, hopeful Dumbledore lovers began theorizing that Snape in not evil and ed Dumbledore using the Avada Kedavra (ing) curse, on Dumbledore's own orders. There is only one problem with this theory—it completely conflicts with the doctrine we have regarding the ing curse and cannot be the case.

As an attorney, part of my profession is in using logic to find truth. Using logic here, there are only three possibilities in all of this. The first is that Snape is truly evil and ed Dumbledore using the ing curse, without Dumbledore intending to . Naturally, no Harry Potter or Dumbledore fan can accept this. The second is that Snape is good and could not have ed Dumbledore using the ing curse, which be further explained latter, but ed Dumbledore using a non-verbal curse and Dumbledore is gone forever. The final possibility is that Snape is good, on Dumbledore's side, and used a non-verbal spell either to actually or make it appear like he ed Dumbledore (on Dumbledore's own orders), and Dumbledore is either alive and well or soon be alive again.

Regardless of what proves to be the case in Book Seven, one thing is absolute. Severus Snape CANNOT be good and have ed Dumbledore using the ing curse (even on Dumbledore's own orders), as so many have theorized. To explain this, I quote from David Haber's article on this site titled "Dumbledore Clues":

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)

Bellatrix's statement to Harry is most important. She explains that you have to want to "ENJOY" it. That is—you have to want to enjoy causing the pain and/or the . If Snape is on Dumbledore's side—by definition, he could not have enjoyed ing Dumbledore. If Snape would enjoy doing so—he would be working for the Dark Lord. The argument that if Snape is on Dumbledore's side, he could not have wanted to or harm Dumbledore, is further supported by all of the arguments that we learned about that took place between Dumbledore and Snape through the school year in Book Six. It is very likely that the subject of these arguments included Dumbledore insisting that, if it became necessary, Snape Dumbledore, or, at very least, use extreme and dangerous measures (meaning some spell, potion, or other harmful magic) to make it look very convincing that Snape had ed Dumbledore.

One might ask "why would Snape argue over making it look like he ed Dumbledore so long as Dumbledore didn't actually ?" I think the answer to this is that the measures necessary to make it look like Snape actually did Dumbledore—would be so sever and so dangerous that Snape would resist using such measures. In my mind, this parallels Wormtail's suggestion to the Dark Lord (in Book Four) that the Dark Lord not insist on using Harry Potter to regain a body—but use another instead. In response, the Dark Lord adamantly demands that Harry Potter is the only option. Likewise, I'm sure that Dumbledore adamantly insisted that Snape do as he was told and use the most extreme measures possible to make it look as if he had actually ed Dumbledore. Furthermore, Snape may not have wanted to utter the words of the unforgivable ing Curse while his wand was pointed at Dumbledore. After all, there would be no positive assurance the spell wouldn't work. This result would only be expected and hoped for.

In short, and from what J.K. Rowling has firmly informed us of—Snape cannot be good and have ed Dumbledore using the ing Curse.

Having reached this point—I cannot see that Dumbledore would permit his actual permanent , unless he was convinced that his actual permanent was absolutely necessary to pull off his own plan. The only problem with this is that Dumbledore's actual permanent would have done nothing to further any plan Dumbledore could have spawned. This is due to the fact that it is apparent that the key to Dumbledore's plan (assuming one existed) is not that Dumbledore be in fact, but that Snape remain in appearance to be loyal to the Dark Lord. And, the only piece of evidence that would lend itself to the Dark Lord determining this (Snape's loyalty to him) is whether or not Snape actually used the ing curse on Dumbledore. Imagine the Dark Lord's reaction (whether or not Dumbledore lived) upon learning that Snape uttered the words of the ing Curse, but, in-fact, used another curse non-verbally. The Dark Lord would most assuredly see this as a sign of deception and deceit and Snape's cover would be utterly blown and Dumbledore's plan out the window. Therefore, I believe that Dumbledore would not have elected for Snape to actually him for the simple reason that Dumbledore's actual and permanent would accomplish nothing. All they needed to accomplish was the unquestionable appearance that Snape had ed Dumbledore using the ing Curse.

Of course, all of what I have said presents a problem in the fact that J.K. Rowling has affirmatively stated that Dumbledore "IS DEAD", and that he "NOT PULL A GANDALF". [See the article on this site titled "New Revelations".] Let me be clear here on what I believe regarding these statements. I believe that J.K. Rowling was telling the truth when she made those statements; however, I also believe that J.K. Rowling very carefully and deliberately prepared a pre-though-out canned answer to the inevitable question regarding whether Dumbledore is really . Furthermore, I believe that J.K. Rowling's very carefully pre-prepared answer was prepared such that it would cause fans to believe that Dumbledore is permanently and forever , when possibly he is not permanently. I fully address J.K. Rowling's statements, and my belief as to their meaning, at the end of this article.

At this point, it should be apparent what I believe happened to Dumbledore. I believe that Snape is good. One further evidence of this—in addition to all the other evidences discussed on this site—is when Harry is chasing Snape and Malfoy down the lawn of the castle after Snape seemingly ed Dumbledore. Harry repeatedly kept trying to use unforgivable curses on Snape and/or Malfoy. In response, Snape foiled all such attempts and once stated "No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter!" If Snape is evil, it is likely that he would revel in Potter using an unforgivable curse, which would assuredly land him in Azkaban, which would render him utterly unable to assist the Order of the Phoenix in fighting the Dark Lord and would cause him to be utterly defenseless against attacks against him from the Dark Lord. It is most likely that the meaning of Snape's statement is that he would not permit Potter to throw away his ability to assist the fight against the Dark Lord and/or remain alive himself. Though Snape is seemingly a snake of a person—he is yet intelligent and understands that Harry Potter must survive in order to successfully bring the Dark Lord down.

It should further be apparent that I believe not that Snape faked Dumbledore's —but rather actually caused his with a combination of a non-verbal spell in conjunction with the tremendous fall from the uppermost tower in the castle.

The question here becomes—why—if Dumbledore's actual permanent is not key to any plan Dumbledore could have cooked up (as I stated above), why would Dumbledore permit his actual being caused by Snape? The simple answer to this question is two part: Dumbledore's actual was necessary to fool the Dark Lord, and Dumbledore's is not permanent.

We know that Voldemort has always feared only one wizard—Dumbledore. Why is this? He is seemingly the only wizard or witch more magically and personally powerful, knowledgeable, or intelligent than the Dark Lord. With this—consider what Voldemort accomplished in relation to . He figured out how to cheat , but by avoiding altogether, not through coming back from after having d. If it holds that Dumbledore is, in fact, more magically and personally powerful, knowledgeable, and intelligent than the Dark Lord—would it not make sense that Dumbledore would one up Voldemort by finding a way to cheat —even after he had d?

We have been repeatedly, constantly, and continually indoctrinated by J.K. Rowling through the Harry Potter books that the cannot come back from the , which I call the " Doctrine". In response to this indoctrination and as it applies to Dumbledore's , I think J.K. Rowling "doth protest too much." In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Queen Gertrude speaks these famous words in response to another character's repetitive statements of loyalty and love for her first husband. In other words, the Queen is saying that she doesn't believe what the other character is saying because the other character is trying too hard to be convincing by the use of repetitive statements. In the case of J.K. Rowling repeatedly teaching her readers that the cannot come back from the —I believe that she has purposely and intentionally built up a belief in the Doctrine, which Dumbledore (as the most powerful wizard or witch of all time) shatter by coming back from the .

Though the Doctrine may have been true in the past—it is only true until proven wrong or until a witch or wizard finds a magical way around it. Consider the fact that until Nicholas Flamel invented the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, it was not possible for a witch or wizard to remain alive indefinitely without drinking a Unicorn's blood, which causes a witch or wizard to have only a cursed or a half life.

Though the Doctrine has likely been true up until this point, we now have a new and distinguishable possibility. This is that Dumbledore (the most powerful and gifted wizard or witch of all time) found measures, steps, or actions that can be taken prior to that allow a witch or wizard to and then return from . In this, Dumbledore have maintained his status as the most powerful witch or wizard of all time, as well as his status as being more powerful than the Dark Lord.

Finally, I now explain all of this in relation to J.K. Rowling's comments that Dumbledore is and that he not pull a Gandalf.

If the theory explained above, or something similar, is the case—J.K. Rowling would, in all truth, be able to claim that DUMBLEDORE IS DEAD—because he is. However, this does not forestall the possibility that he won't return from the . Furthermore, this fits with Rowling's comment that Dumbledore won't pull a Gandalf. Consider what occurred to Gandalf. He never d. He fell and fell along with the fiery beast. Then he battled the fiery beast for what seemed ages and eons, but was eventually victorious in the battle and then transcended to another plane of existence. In short, Gandalf never d and never came back from the . It only appeared to his companions that he came back from the . Therefore, if Dumbledore comes back from somehow—he not have "pulled a Gandalf."

If what I suggest comes true—Dumbledore have gone one step further and have conquered from the other side of 's veil—something that no other literary hero, save possibly Jesus Christ himself, has accomplished. Thus we see a true Christ like character in Dumbledore.

Of course, I could be miles off.

J.K. Rich grew up in Billings, Montana, is married and has three children. He has Juris Doctorate (Law) and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. He has been a Harry Potter fan since just after Book Two in the Harry Potter story was published. He became a fan (against his own will, at least initially) due to his nieces' and nephews' incessant ratings and ravings that the Harry Potter books were the best books ever written and that even someone like him, meaning an adult, would love the books. He read the books to prove them wrong--but was proven wrong himself as he became instantly addicted.

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Published April 28, 2007

This article is Copyright © 2007, J.K. Rich, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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