In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Snape says:

“You know I’m hiding nothing, Moody,” he said in a soft and dangerous voice, “as you’ve searched my office pretty thoroughly yourself.”

Moody’s face twisted into a smile. “Auror’s privilege, Snape. Dumbledore told me to keep an eye —”

“Dumbledore happens to trust me,” said Snape through clenched teeth. “I refuse to believe that he gave you orders to search my office!

Therefore, why didn't Snape question Dumbledore why he let "Moody" (Crouch Jr.) search his office?

We know he had the opportunity to speak to Dumbledore privately (and was on close enough terms with him to be able to ask if he gave "Moody" the order since they were discussing his Mark) around this time. From The Prince's Tale in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

A whirl of color, and now everything darkened, and Snape and Dumbledore stood a little apart in the entrance hall, while the last stragglers from the Yule Ball passed them on their way to bed.

“Well?” murmured Dumbledore.

“Karkaroff’s Mark is becoming darker too. He is panicking, he fears retribution; you know how much help he gave the Ministry after the Dark Lord fell.” Snape looked sideways at Dumbledore’s crooked-nosed profile. “Karkaroff intends to flee if the Mark burns.”

“Does he?” said Dumbledore softly, as Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies came giggling in from the grounds. “And are you tempted to join him?”

“No,” said Snape, his black eyes on Fleur’s and Roger’s retreating figures. “I am not such a coward.”

Obviously, there is an out-of-universe reason for Snape not asking Dumbledore, as Dumbledore would've then realized "Moody" was an impostor before Rowling wished to reveal this to the reader.

However, is there an in-universe reason Snape never asked Dumbledore?

  • 2
    In any answer it is worth remembering that Moody was kidnapped by Barty Crouch before he (Moody) took up the position of DADA teacher. All the time we think we are dealing with Moody we are actually dealing with Crouch. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 12:47
  • Since Moody is infamous for his paranoia and hatred toward Death Eaters, notably those who got away, it would perfectly be in character to search Snape’s office without an actual permission. That wouldn’t indicate that Moody was an impostor, in fact, proving the absence of a permission wouldn’t gain anything to Snape. He could leave a note of protest and Dumbledore would tell Moody to not do it again and that’s it. But Moody wouldn’t do it again anyway.
    – Holger
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 13:46

6 Answers 6


It's entirely possible that Dumbledore did in fact ask "Moody" to keep an eye on Snape.

Dumbledore (and Snape) have been conducting an ongoing campaign to maintain Snape's status as a credible "double agent" and part of any such campaign would be using any opportunity to create doubt about Snape's true status, even among people like Moody who are supposed to know it. Asking "Moody" to keep an eye on Snape creates just enough doubt, without creating an open conflict, to do the trick.

If everyone around Dumbledore became completely convinced that Snape was one of the good guys, that impression could never be contained within the walls of Hogwarts. It would make it that much harder for Snape to resume his role in Voldemort's camp when that (inevitably) became necessary.

  • 13
    @JimmyVailer a fake case of "lady doth protest too much" probably.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 1:46
  • 8
    @JimmyVailer Maybe Dumbledore did it without letting Snape know about it? Harry's pensieve view of Snape and Dumbledore's interactions in Hallows make it clear that Dumbledore wasn't always 100% forthright about the subtleties of his plans. But Muru's answer is also possible. And in all the books it's clear that Snape never liked the other members of the OOTP very much, and quarreled with them often; whenever he thought or imagined he had a grievance.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 2:04
  • 1
    @muru That would make sense if there were witnesses other than Filch. It wouldn't make much sense for Snape to express mock outrage if "Moody" and Filch were the only ones to witness it. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 2:44
  • 20
    One of the principles of a good cover story is that you should stick to it as much as possible, because you never know who's listening. Hogwarts doesn't lack for prying eyes - hundreds of curious students, rival teachers, house elves, ghosts - who might overhear a supposedly private conversation. Snape and Moody would be wise to carry on the charade even if they were both supposed to be in on it.
    – Cadence
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 10:58
  • 4
    @JimmyVailer Snape is a highly talented undercover agent who has publicly used Dumbledore's trust in him to avoid prison. During the year he would have felt his mark being set off and may have been taking steps to create credibility within the Death Eater ranks without making himself the target of the Ministry. It is therefore entirely possible that the outrage is an act.
    – 520
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 22:38

There is no reason to think that Snape did not ask Dumbledore about it, but "Moody" never claims that Dumbledore ordered the search. "Moody" only says that the headmaster has asked him to keep an eye on things while he is there at Hogwarts.

Snape probably already knows perfectly well that Dumbledore would not have ordered a search of his office. What he is really protesting against is that "Moody" has apparently decided to go rifling through the rooms of another staff member on his own initiative (Auror's privilege, "Moody" calls it*). Snape arguably has pretty good reason to be indignant, since "Moody"—who is his colleague, not his superior in any way—has been violating Snape's privacy.

*If taken literally, this "Auror's privilege" could suggest that Wizarding Britain is actually a fairly nasty surveillance state—something that some other events might also point to.

  • 5
    On that last point, Moody is a retired Auror, so presumably he wasn’t acting on any actual legal privilege. More likely he meant Dumbledore granted him a bit of leeway given his past status, and not the law. Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 22:27
  • @TenthJustice Unless they keep that privilege while retired, which would be even worse :D There are some precedents of services that "never end" and instead of being retired, you're essentially "on call". A master auror such as Moody might very well be kept in reserve, for use in emergencies.
    – Luaan
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 8:05
  • Pseudy-Moody would not be the first law enforcement official claiming powers that were never granted.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 1:46

The paragraph you quoted exactly does not exclude the possibility that Snape did and it did not have any effect. Read carefully: Moody says:

to keep an eye...

Then he is interrupted by Snape. If Snape asked Dumbledore whether he asked Moody to keep an eye ON HIM then Dumbledore would for sure have refused and probably asked Moody.

But Moody could say something along the lines:

I never wanted to say „an eye on Snape“, but you (Dumbledore) asked me to keep an eye on Harry and as I do not trust Snape I searched his Office.

That would have been plausible as it is a known fact, that the other aurors and members of the Order of the Phoenix never trusted Snape as Dumbledore did.

And the same reasoning even would hold if Moody really said that Dumbledore told him to observe Snape and Snape asked Dumbledore.

Dumbledore would have assumed that the reasoning for Moodys lie simply is his mistrust in Snape and NOT that he is an imposter: Moody (the real one) does not always act rationally and this behavior would be well within the bounds of his personality.

  • 5
    This is speculation about what a character could have said. It is not a real answer.
    – user89104
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 3:56

I would argue that Snape would not question Dumbledore about this because he was afraid of the answer. Had Snape asked Dumbledore why he Moody search Snape's office, the response might very well have indicated that Dumbledore did not in fact fully trust Snape.

Snape has gone through a tough experience where his true loyalties are doubted by many other characters, on both sides. The only person he thought he could depend on was Dumbledore, who apparently had accepted Snape's contrition and trusted his declaration of loyalty. When the highly respected Auror tells him straight out that Dumbledore doesn't trust him, and does in such a confident manner such as to make it unlikely that he is entirely making it up, Snape is presumably emotionally shaken. He probably begins to think that Dumbledore doesn't really trust him that much after all.

At this point Snape has two choices. HE can either confront Dumbledore or not confront Dumbledore. If he doesn't confront Dumbledore he can just tell himself that Moody is lying, or there was some kind of mistake/miscommunication, and thereby retain the vestiges of hope that there is still at least one person in the world on his side. If he does confront Dumbledore he risks the possibility that Moody was telling the truth and Snape will then be unable to pretend that everything is good.

If we look in Deathly Hallows we can find some evidence of Snape's insecurity on this matter. In Chapter Thirty-Three we find the following:

“Information,” repeated Snape. “You trust him... you do not trust me.”

“And why may I not have the same information?”

“Yet you confide much more in a boy who is incapable of Occlumency, whose magic is mediocre, and who has a direct connection into the Dark Lord’s mind!”

“You refuse to tell me everything, yet you expect that small service of me!” snarled Snape, and real anger flared in the thin face now. “You take a great deal for granted, Dumbledore! Perhaps I have changed my mind!”

Note also that Snape does not say "I don't believe". If he was actually confident that Dumbledore would not have authorized the search then we might expect him to say that. Instead he says "I refuse to believe". This sounds more like he is somewhat in denial. He won't ask Dumbledore whether the search was authorized, because he doesn't want to believe that it was authorized.


“Dumbledore happens to trust me,” said Snape through clenched teeth. “I refuse to believe that he gave you orders to search my office!”

As Snape says, he simply doesn't believe that Dumbledore has let Moody search his office. Asking Dumbledore about it would therefore be pointless. Snape's outrage is because Moody has interpreted the instructions to "to keep an eye—” as giving him the right to search Snape's office, a right that Snape clearly thinks he doesn't have.

We also don't actually know the end of that sentence. "To keep an eye—”... what?

  • This was my understanding, as well.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 12:54
  • The Phoenix order has not been assembled yet, so Moody and Snape weren't knowing teammates that time.

  • Snape plays double agent for years with only one knowing his true motives - Dumbledore. They both knew that the war has not been decided but actually just put on hiatus. They both knew that reopening the war is nigh and that there might be sleeping agents.

  • Snape is also a man of strong emotional control. There are only two circumstances shown he lost his temper:

Death of Lily and his own death.

This put together, Snape plays the double agent role in the favor of Death Eaters and his reply to Moody is part of that role. Any display of warm relations between Snape an Dumbledore may raise suspition to Death Eaters. Thus Dumbledore sending Moody might have been part of the disguise plan or Moody's inspection would be a sign of an intruder in Hogwarts.

When they were discussing the marks, the now-happening rise of Voldemort's powers were of higher priority than assuring the Moody's visit was part of the plan.

All the books are written strongly from Harry's point of view with very limitted backstory. He actually might have asked Dumbledore. But considering how busy both of them were at the time, so how little time they have to meet casualy yet very privately, he may have asked too late.

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