Warning: This question contains spoilers for Harry Potter 7.

"Hide them all, then," he croaked. "Keep them safe. Please." "And what will you give me in return, Severus?" "In in return?" Snape gaped at Dumbledore, and Harry expected him to protest, but after a long moment he said, "Anything."

Why would Dumbledore ask Snape for something in exchange for Dumbledore saving the Potters? Dumbledore also wants them alive, especially after hearing the prophecy. Was it a test to see if Snape really does love Lily and truly changed sides? If so, Snape could easily be lying, since he's a skilled legilimence.

Also: What did Dumbledore actually ask Snape to give in return?

1 Answer 1


Dumbledore might have been a jolly old friendly man on the surface but his history tells a different story (Him wanting to subjugate muggles together with Grindelwald for example). He had little issues with using others as pawns in the game, and such less then ideal traits never vanish completely no matter how much he has changed(Even near his death he still used Harry as a tool against Voldemort).

And when he made the deal, Snape was in a position to give something Dumbledore needed, information. Because at the time it seemed that Voldemort was on a winning streak and Dumbledore and his allies placed all their faith in the prophecy of the boy who would defeat the Dark Lord. And although protecting the child and it's parents were in the best interest of Dumbledore anyway, Snape was in a state of fear of seeing the woman he loved die and therefor easily manipulated. Dumbledore, being the less then perfect person, exploited this moment of weakness to turn Snape in to a spy (He was one of the rare few in Voldemort inner circle) giving an edge in the war they desperately needed.

So what Snape gave in return is volunteering to become a double agent against a person who would most likely give the most horrible death he could imagine to a traitor...not a light risk to take.

  • 1
    So you're saying Dumbledore didn't really care for Snape but used him in his moment of weakness?
    – MBEllis
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 11:08
  • 1
    @MBEllis There is no evidence that Dumbledore cares for anybody, except maybe his sister. He may claim to care, but his actions speak louder than his words.
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 11:21
  • @RalfFriedl So you're saying he doesn't care for Snape? I find that hard to believe. Dumbledore's a pretty selfless man. He found Hagrid and Lupin a job, even though nobody else would take a giant or a werewolf. He always keeps an eye out for Harry. Saying Dumbledore doesn't care is quite a statement. Can you somehow prove it?
    – MBEllis
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 11:38
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    @MBEllis he might care a great deal...but the strategist in him might overwhelm his feelings. Take Harry, he clearly cares about the boy...yet like Snape stated Dumbledore was willing to use him as a pig for the slaughter... Also concerning Hagrid, Dumbledore knew Voldemort would comeback, having Hagrid work as a form of ambassador (like he did when Dumbledore was recruiting an army) might prove fruitful. A General might care deeply for his soldiers...but in the end he does have a war to win.
    – A.bakker
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 13:43
  • @MBEllis I'm saying there is no evidence that Dumbledore cares for anybody. He found Lupin a job when Dumbledore needed someone for the job. Having Hagrid's gratitude is useful for him, and somebody has to do the job anyway. He keeps an eye out for Harry, because Harry has a role to play.
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 15:28

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