In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, did Dumbledore know that Draco Malfoy was assigned by Voldemort to kill Albus Dumbledore?

Did Dumbledore know that Draco Malfoy placed the poisoned mead in the wine, and did he know that Draco Malfoy placed Madam Rosmerta under the Imperius Curse, which placed the Imperius Curse on Katie Bell, in attempt to deliver the cursed necklace to Dumbledore?

If Dumbledore knew all this, why didn't he ban Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle from returning to Hogwarts?

Why didn't Dumbledore ask the Ministry to arrest Draco Malfoy at the first place?

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    I upvoted the question but I think you should format the question by providing context. As of now, it is a block of questions that is quite difficult to read. – Taladris Oct 18 at 1:58
  • I flagged as Too Broad. While these are related questions, I believe this question needs some serious work to pull out the primary question that you want answered. As of now, it's kind of a mess... – kuhl Oct 19 at 13:24

did Dumbledore know that Draco Malfoy was assigned by Voldemort to kill Albus Dumbledore?

Yes. As we see in Snape's memories at the end of Deathly Hallows Dumbledore spoke about it with Snape before the school year even started:

"I refer to the plan Lord Voldemort is revolving around me. His plan to have the poor Malfoy boy murder me."

Did Dumbledore know that Draco Malfoy placed the poisoned mead in the wine, and did he know that Draco Malfoy placed Madam Rosmerta under imperius curse, which placed imperius curse on Katie Bell, in attempt to deliver the cursed necklace to Dumbledore?

He knew that Malfoy was behind the poison and the necklace, as he mentions this to Malfoy right before he dies:

“Oh yes, I do,” said Dumbledore mildly. “You almost killed Katie Bell and Ronald Weasley. You have been trying, with increasing desperation, to kill me all year. Forgive me, Draco, but they have been feeble attempts. ... So feeble, to be honest, that I wonder whether your heart has been really in it.”

As to how he knew this, there are several possibilities.

  • Malfoy was the obvious suspect.
  • Snape who was stalking Malfoy on Dumbledore's orders might have told him.
  • He might have believed Harry's accusations.
  • Dumbledore in general knows most of what goes on.

He apparently did not know, though, that Madam Rosmerta was under the Imperius Curse (or else he was a really good actor), as he only figures this out in the conversation with Malfoy right before he dies:

But you must have had an accomplice, all the same ... someone in Hogsmeade, someone who was able to slip Katie the — the — aaaah

Dumbledore closed his eyes again and nodded, as though he was about to fall asleep. “... of course ... Rosmerta. How long has she been under the Imperius Curse?”

“Got there at last, have you?” Malfoy taunted.

If Dumbledore knew all this, why didn't he ban Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle from returning to Hogwarts? Why didn't Dumbledore ask the Ministry to arrest Draco Malfoy at the first place?

Dumbledore was trying to protect Malfoy. From a conversation with Snape (in Snape's memories):

Scowling, Snape said, “The Dark Lord does not expect Draco to succeed. This is merely punishment for Lucius’s recent failures. Slow torture for Draco’s parents, while they watch him fail and pay the price.”

“In short, the boy has had a death sentence pronounced upon him as surely as I have,” said Dumbledore.

From his last conversation with Malfoy:

“I haven’t got any options!” said Malfoy, and he was suddenly white as Dumbledore. “I’ve got to do it! He’ll kill me! He’ll kill my whole family!”

“I appreciate the difficulty of your position,” said Dumbledore. “Why else do you think I have not confronted you before now? Because I knew that you would have been murdered if Lord Voldemort realized that I suspected you.”

Essentially Dumbledore had to pretend that everything was fine, for Malfoy's sake. However, so as not to put other people's lives at risk he enlisted Snape to keep an eye on Malfoy (again, from Snape's memories):

“Good. Now then. Your first priority will be to discover what Draco is up to. A frightened teenage boy is a danger to others as well as to himself. Offer him help and guidance, he ought to accept, he likes you —”

“— much less since his father has lost favor. Draco blames me, he thinks I have usurped Lucius’s position.”

“All the same, try. I am concerned less for myself than for accidental victims of whatever schemes might occur to the boy. Ultimately, of course, there is only one thing to be done if we are to save him from Lord Voldemort’s wrath.”

So in short, from Dumbledore's perspective actively preventing Malfoy from completing his mission was not a viable option, while at the same time letting him continue was not such a big risk. Indeed, in the end nobody (besides Dumbledore) came to much harm because of this, as Dumbledore himself told Malfoy:

No harm has been done, you have hurt nobody, though you are very lucky that your unintentional victims survived. ... I can help you, Draco.”

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    Snape telling him seems the most obvious choice given the Unbreakable Vow he made when talking with Draco's mother at the start of the book. There was no way he didn't know what Draco was tasked with. – JTPenguin Oct 18 at 10:58
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    I would add that it would be out of character for Dumbledore to punish someone for what they have not done yet. I think Dumbledore gave Draco a chance to realize himself he was not a killer instead of starting to treat him as an enemy even before Draco has done anything wrong – Shana Tar Oct 18 at 11:55
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    Also: If Dumbledore knows that Voldemort wants Malfoy to kill him, he can keep watch for attempts to kill him by Malfoy. If he expels Malfoy, he might not find the replacement killer until it's too late - so long as it is "Malfoy's Op", the other Death Eaters and their children will not interfere, as that would mean crossing Voldemort. (Offering or being asked by Malfoy to help is still fair game though). Plus, stopping him from attending Hogwarts before the first attempt would tip Voldemort off to Dumbledore having a spy in his ranks. – Chronocidal Oct 18 at 13:09
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    @ShanaTar: That is surely incorrect. The very act of sending the cursed necklace and the poisoned wine to Dumbledore is already wrong. What Dumbledore does is not because he thinks Draco has not done wrong yet, but because he knows mercy. – user21820 Oct 18 at 13:10
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    @GoodDeeds That was a ruse by Snape to get the two to tell him more. – Darkwing Oct 18 at 13:31

Also, Dumbledore strongly believed in redemption. "Deadly Hallows" gives the background: he himself trod close to the edge of evil. As he states in HBP, he knows that Draco is not a killer at heart; he not only wants to protect him from Voldemort's wrath, but he is, in my opinion, holding out hope that, like himself in his youth, and like Snape, Draco is salvageable. As for Draco's later moral character, who knows? But it is clear that, if it were not for Narcissa's love for Draco, Harry would not have been able to triumph in the end. Dumbledore is presented as immensely wise and knowledgeable (and, yes, rather manipulative)... and his decision to keep Draco at Hogwarts proves to have been the right one.

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