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Dumbledore was looking for Voldemort's Horcruxes throughout Harry's 6th year. But he never took Harry on other occasions. However, he took Harry along to the Sea Cave.

My question is, did Dumbledore know that there was a need of more than one wizard in the cave? Or was it just because Dumbledore knew he had very little time left and he wanted to give Harry some live experience of hunting Horcruxes?

  • 2
    In addition to @Olorin's answer: During his numerous trips throughout the school year Dumbledore was merely looking for the cave, he hadn't actually found it yet, nor any other Horcrux hiding place. So taking Harry before would have been merely a nice field trip. – BMWurm Aug 10 '17 at 8:06
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    There's no way Dumbledore could have known about all the traps beforehand, yet taking Harry allowed him to perfectly circumvent them, namely the problems of the boat and potion, requiring exactly two wizards, only one of which can be above the age of 17. It seems oddly convenient, but maybe that's just bad writing. – DisturbedNeo Aug 10 '17 at 9:12
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    Well, the book is not called "Dumbledore and the Deathly Hallows", is it? – Damon Aug 10 '17 at 14:21
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Harry himself asked if he could tag along

“And if you do,” said Harry quickly, “can I come with you and help get rid of it?”

Dumbledore looked at Harry very intently for a moment before saying, “Yes, I think so.”

“I can?” said Harry, thoroughly taken aback.

“Oh yes,” said Dumbledore, smiling slightly. “I think you have earned that right.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

From that exchange we can see that because Harry asked to come along, Dumbledore agreed to bring him to The Cave. Harry wasn't present when Dumbledore went off to find Marvolo's Ring, and therefore he didn't have the opportunity to ask beforehand.

In the same chapter where Dumbledore gives his consent, Harry has shown Dumbledore Slughorn's real memory, allowing Dumbledore to confirm the number of Horcruxes Voldemort has. All thanks to Harry. He had earnt that additional right to hunt Horcruxes with Dumbledore.

Dumbledore might have foresaw Harry's usefulness

Dumebledore taught Tom Riddle. He "knew his style" and presumably his brutality as well. He knew Voldemort would have put traps to prevent a single person acting alone from reaching the Horcrux.

“This is merely the antechamber, the entrance hall,” said Dumbledore after a moment or two. “We need to penetrate the inner place. Now it is Lord Voldemort’s obstacles that stand in our way, rather than those nature made.”

[...]

“Magic always leaves traces,” said Dumbledore, as the boat hit the bank with a gentle bump, “sometimes very distinctive traces. I taught Tom Riddle. I know his style.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

So he would have made an intelligent guess of the methods Voldemort would have used to prevent people from reaching his Horcrux. In this case, it would be:

  • The "Boat" trap:

    Voldemort underestimated youth - he would not have cared about the weight, but rather about the amount of magical power that crossed his lake. Harry tagging along would not have triggered the boat trap at all.

  • The "Potion" trap:

    Was this why he had been invited along — so that he could force-feed Dumbledore a potion that might cause him unendurable pain? Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Dumbledore wanted to give Harry more "experience" in dealing with Horcruxes

Up till then, Harry only had experience with one other Horcrux: the Diary. By retrieving (and possibly destroying) another, Harry would feel more confident that he would be able to find Voldemort's other Horcruxes. We see that Harry is exhilarated from retrieving the locket Horcrux:

“We did it, Professor!” Harry whispered with difficulty; he suddenly realized that he had a searing stitch in his chest. “We did it! We got the Horcrux!”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

(Unfortunately this exhilaration didn't last for long, but it gave Harry the confidence that Voldemort was not unstoppable).

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    I think the pause after Harry asks him is telling. He hadn't considered taking Harry until Harry asked him (remember Dumbledore likes acting independently and secretively where possible). When he did ask him, Dumbledore thought for a minute before effectively saying, "Sure, I guess you can come". I think the other reasons listed are legitimate but that the main point is the first one. Harry asked, Dumbledore said yes (and wouldn't have proposed it otherwise). – The Dark Lord Aug 10 '17 at 10:12
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    I think the last point is perhaps the most important, Dumbledore knew he wouldn't be around much longer and Harry would have to find the Horcruxes by himself. This would likely be the last chance to show Harry what he would be up against (they can't all be basilisk controlling memories after all). – Lord Jebus VII Aug 10 '17 at 15:04
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The answer of Olorin is quite good, but it does not really answer the question "why the cave".

Yes, it is true, that Dumbledore took Harry with him because he asked. But he took him to the cave because he was almost sure, that there was a Horcrux in that cave:

And then Harry remembered why he had been eager to come to Dumbledore’s office in the first place.
‘You’ve found one? You’ve found a Horcrux?’
‘I believe so.’
Rage and resentment fought shock and excitement: for several moments, Harry could not speak.
‘It is natural to be afraid,’ said Dumbledore.
‘I’m not scared!’ said Harry at once, and it was perfectly true; fear was one emotion he was not feeling at all. ‘Which Horcrux is it? Where is it?’
‘I am not sure which it is – though I think we can rule out the snake – but I believe it to be hidden in a cave on the coast many miles from here, a cave I have been trying to locate for a very long time: the cave in which Tom Riddle once terrorised two children from his orphanage on their annual trip; you remember?’
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 - The Seer Overheard

To answer your other question: I don't think, that he expected to need Harry. Further in the next chapter he sais something, that makes me think he did not expect to really need Harry:

‘The protection was … after all … well designed,’ said Dumbledore faintly. ‘One alone could not have done it … you did well, very well, Harry …’
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 - The Cave

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