8

This question explains why the Ministry didn't look into the death, but it doesn't explain why Dumbledore didn't collect any evidence to disprove the official story or to aid in his fight against Voldemort. The most obvious path would be to extract Harry's memory of Cedric's death during the scene where Harry tells him what happened in the graveyard. This has the following clear advantages:

  • Dumbledore gets very good intel on Voldemort's means of resurrection. This solves much of the plot of book six two books early.

  • It's good intel on what Death Eaters are and aren't active, including any new and unknown ones. Knowing what your masked enemy looks and sounds like is always good and it's yet more evidence against previously trialed and cleared Death Eaters. For all Dumbledore knows, there could've been something really helpful like an unknown new nine-legged Death Eater.

  • The memory would've showed an accurate depiction of very dark magic. As it is very unlikely that Harry knows of this magic (and memory-tampering tends to be obvious), it gives strong evidence that what he saw wasn't a delusion. Even with this question considered, it immediately puts a massive hole in Fudge's explanation that Harry is insane.

  • Dark magic leaves traces. The memory gives the location of the resurrection and therefore a very good place to investigate. Again, this would give evidence that Harry is not delusional.

  • It's plain and simply more evidence that Voldemort is back.

So, why didn't Dumbledore do it? Even if he didn't think it would persuade Fudge, I've given at least three good reasons why he should look anyway.

7
  • 1
    @Shreedhar It's a good start, but it doesn't explain why Dumbledore didn't even look. Many of my points are useful even if they're not for the purpose of using against Fudge.
    – J. Mini
    Aug 25 '20 at 12:12
  • 1
    "memory-tampering tends to be obvious" - Citation needed.
    – Valorum
    Aug 25 '20 at 12:27
  • 1
    "Dark magic leaves traces" - Traces that only Dumbledore seems to be able to identify
    – Valorum
    Aug 25 '20 at 12:28
  • @Valorum - the memory tampering being obvious is shown in book 6
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 25 '20 at 13:28
  • 2
    @NKCampbell - Dumbledore notes how crudely it was done, that even a child like Harry can spot it. The implication is that it could be done much better
    – Valorum
    Aug 25 '20 at 13:42
10

Severus Snape and Memory Charms

So firstly any evidence collected by Dumbledore via Harry's memory is not going to convince Fudge, the Ministry, or the wider wizarding world. Those that believe Dumbledore/harry don't need it, and those that don't won't believe it. We know Fudge et al wouldn't buy it, because Fudge is paranoid (to the point of harming his own cause) about Dumbledore wanting to take his job. So why wouldn't the rest of the Ministry/normal wizards not believe?

Because the wider wizarding world, those that didn't believe Dumbledore/Harry in the books, would not have been swayed because Dumbledore is the Greatest Wizard of the Age. All Fudge/the Ministry would have to do is go "Of COURSE it looks like a real memory, Dumbledore did the Memory Charm!" Or "Of COURSE Harry can accurately describe the dark magic, Dumbledore told him/modified his memory such that he can give accurate descriptions!" Then everyone nods knowingly and, very proud that they've seen through Dumbledore's underhanded scheme, goes on with their day.

So the only real question is why Dumbledore didn't get Harry's memory for his own intelligence. The reason is that he has Snape. Yes I know Snape wasn't there, bear with me. Dumbledore believes Harry, and trusts Harry to tell him the truth as accurately as possible. Yet even so, there's a limit to what Harry can tell him with regards to hand gestures or minutiae of incantations. Heck, even the memory may not show clearly the details required. BUT Dumbledore has Snape, who he also trusts unreservedly. Snape arrives two hours after the event, and is taken back into the Death Eaters. He has the PERFECT cover to ask a load of questions to everyone surrounding the events of Voldemort's reincarnation about the details of said reincarnation. Indeed, if he's supposed to be a fanatical adherent it would probably come off as pretty weird if he didn't try to get every "glorious detail" of his Lord's return.

Between Harry's recollection and Snape's intelligence gathering Dumbledore likely felt there was nothing more to gain from re-examining the matter via a memory of the events, especially if Harry and Snape's stories corroborate each other.

Conversely, Dumbledore could have been worried about false intelligence from re-living the memory via pensive. Harry's recitation of events could be true in broad strokes, but Voldemort is a skilled and subtle wizard. Maybe Harry's memory of the event would show some piece of intelligence too subtle for Harry to have realized its importance, yes. But that subtlety could itself be a trap. We know Dumbledore (and indeed anyone) could tell that Slughorn's memory-mod was a shoddy job concealing something. But we have no idea what a high-grade version would look like. Perhaps Voldemort was capable of creating seamless modifications? Or the smaller the "edit" the harder to catch. It seems within the realm of possibility anyway.

So why couldn't Snape be used to sort out these subtleties as well? Snape can ask general questions about Voldemort's revival, but pointed questions about specific details are always tricky for spies. For example, let's say that Voldemort HAD modified Harry's memory a bit, to show Voldemort wearing a purple ring during the reincarnation process. (Yes that seems like an obvious thing but I can't think of something truly subtle atm) Harry doesn't mention it because he's essentially Muggle-born and doesn't think it's worth it. So Dumbledore uses the Pensieve to re-watch the moment and sees the ring. Seems important to him. Voldemort is very talented, Dumbledore doesn't catch the memory mod. So Snape comes back, tells what he learned. Dumbledore asks about the ring. Snape's sources didn't mention a ring, but he also wasn't asking specific questions about what Voldemort was wearing as accessories. Snape goes back and brings up jewellery in his next conversation with Voldy/a Death Eater. Snape is caught as a spy and executed, because Voldemort knows the detail is only something Dumbledore would notice while watching the modified memory. Or Snape is used as a double-blind and is told some mumbo-jumbo about it being Real Important, which he then tells Dumbledore and wastes Dumbledore's time. Spying ain't easy, and it's much safer to ask "tell me what happened, spare no detail!" than "hey did this One Explicit Detail occur?"

Or it's not something that can be easily double-checked by Snape, like a certain hand gesture even an attentive Death Eater might have missed. Then Dumbledore has no way of verifying whether it was true or false. Which makes the intelligence suspect. So why waste time gathering problematic intel, when there is good and corroborated intel? Sometimes it's better to only have half the story but that half be 100% right than 100% of the story but have no way of knowing what's true or not.

TL/DR

Anything Dumbledore finds can't be used to convince people, because Dumbledore's rep as a powerful wizard would let Fudge easily play it off as a lie. Anything Dumbledore could have found out in the memory for his own gain could be more accurately obtained/corroborated via Snape, or would be of suspect veracity because of the potential for memory modification.

1
  • 1
    If Dumbledore was concerned that Voldemort modified Harry's memory, that would make Harry's recounting of events suspect as well.
    – Alex
    Aug 26 '20 at 0:25
10
  • No evidence gained in this way is going to persuade Fudge, since he does not want to believe, and Dumbledore already believes Harry.
  • Seeing how the resurrection was happening, and where, doesn't seem like it is very relevant to the plot, as no Horcruxes are involved.
  • Dumbledore already has a double agent installed (Snape), and the active Death Eaters aren't really a surprise anyway.

So, it's not clear what Dumbledore could really gain here.

3
  • I cannot say if point # 2 is relevant but 1 and 3 are right on the mark. +1
    – Shreedhar
    Aug 25 '20 at 13:43
  • @Shreedhar I included #2 because the question mentions something about knowing more about the dark magic used in the ritual, which is, as far as I remember, relatively pointless knowledge beyond that Harrys blood was used. But rereading the question, this point was more regarding Harry credibility, so you are probably right. I'll leave it in there though, it doesn't hurt too much.
    – kutschkem
    Aug 25 '20 at 13:47
  • Voldemort goes in to great detail about what life was like after dying the first time. It's unlikely that Harry's recount of the events will contain all of this, but if the earlier pensieve memories in the book are anything to go by, his memory will. Still, fair points.
    – J. Mini
    Aug 25 '20 at 14:33
0

The memory would've showed an accurate depiction of very dark magic. As it is very unlikely that Harry knows of this magic (and memory-tampering tends to be obvious)

We don't necessarily know that this is the case. We've only seen one instance of memory-tampering, and Dumbledore says that Slughorn's was "crudely done."

"As you might have noticed," said Dumbledore, reseating himself behind his desk, "that memory has been tampered with."

"Tampered with?" repeated Harry, sitting back down too.

"Certainly," said Dumbledore. "Professor Slughorn has meddled with his own recollections."

"But why would he do that?"

"Because, I think, he is ashamed of what he remembers," said Dumbledore. "He has tried to rework the memory to show himself in a better light, obliterating those parts which he does not wish me to see. It is, as you will have noticed, very crudely done, and that is all to the good, for it shows that the true memory is still there beneath the alterations." (HBP: "A Sluggish Memory")

And then calls it "a travesty" of a recollection.

"Professor Slughorn is an extremely able wizard who will be expecting both," said Dumbledore. "He is much more accomplished at Occlumency than poor Morfin Gaunt, and I would be astonished if he has not carried an antidote to Veritaserum with him ever since I coerced him into giving me this travesty of a recollection." (HBP: "A Sluggish Memory")

I think the impression is that it is possible with finesse to forge a memory that could fool others, but Slughorn did a very poor job of it.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.