It’s established that you need to mean the Unforgivable Curses in order to use them to full potential. In the 4th book, FakeMoody tells the class that all the students there could point their wands at him and say “Avada Kedavra,” and he wouldn’t get so much as a nosebleed. Similarly, Crucio doesn’t work on Bellatrix when Harry tries it.

At the end of the 6th book, Snape kills Dumbledore with the Killing Curse. Snape says “Avada Kedavra” and hits Dumbledore with the curse, causing him to fall backwards off the tower. Afterwards, Snape and the other Death Eaters flee quickly as the Order is active and fighting their way up.

It was probably difficult for Snape to compartmentalize his feelings enough to correctly use the Killing Curse on Dumbledore. Why didn’t Snape mean it less so Dumbledore would be injured (à la nosebleed) but still alive?

My proposal: Dumbledore could have still fallen off the tower (maybe with some magic like arresto momentum so he didn’t hit the ground*), as the Death Eaters don’t check if he died. The Death Eaters (and Voldemort) would believe Dumbledore was dead. Even if the Death Eaters wanted to take a peek at the corpse, Dumbledore could just act dead.

Then, maybe Fawkes could have come and magicked his body away so no one would know. Everyone would think he was dead, but he would still secretly be alive and fighting the good fight against old Voldy.

I know his life was shortened because of the curse from the ring, but why shorten his life like that unnecessarily when he could have kept living at least a little longer?

*I know Dumbledore didn’t have his wand on him then, as Malfoy disarmed him, but he was prepared to die when this went down. If he had plans to only secretly die, he could have planned ahead of time, prepping for a fall from the tower.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. It's possible to construct all kinds of counter-factual scenarios; this kind of question is inherently opinion-based, since it all comes down to how you pick your scenario and what you expect the outcome to be. I don't know if you'll be able to get an answer to this. – DavidW Mar 18 at 2:53
  • The Unbreakable Vow activates. This kills the Snape. – notovny Mar 18 at 5:00
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    Dumbledore intended to break the power of the Elder Wand through a pre-arranged death, which is why he needed to both die and die specifically by Snape's hand (of course, things went wrong, but that was his intention and should answer your question). – Lt. Commander. Data Mar 18 at 5:45

There are two reasons for this-

  1. Snape had made an Unbreakable Vow to kill Dumbledore in case Draco failed (and Draco wasn't going to do it anyway). Snape was an important piece in Dumbledore's plan, and he wouldn't want Snape to die.

"And, should it prove necessary... if it seems Draco will fail..." whispered Narcissa (Snape's hand twitched within hers, but he did not draw away), "will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?"

There was a moment's silence. Bellatrix watched, her wand upon their clasped hands, her eyes wide.

"I will," said Snape.

Bellatrix's astounded face glowed red in the blaze of a third unique flame, which shot from the wand, twisted with the others, and bound itself thickly around their clasped hands, like a fiery snake.

The Half Blood Prince, Chapter 2: Spinner's End

  1. Dumbledore was going to die by the end of the year anyway; he preferred to die painlessly rather than suffer from the ring's curse.

"It is a miracle you managed to return here!" Snape sounded furious. "That ring carried a curse of extraordinary power, to contain it is all we can hope for; I have trapped the curse in one hand for the time being--"

Dumbledore raised his blackened, useless hand, and examined it with the expression of one being shown an interesting curio.

"You have done very well, Severus. How long do you think I have?"

Dumbledore's tone was conversational; he might have been asking for a weather forecast. Snape hesitated, and then said, "I cannot tell. Maybe a year. There is no halting such a spell forever. It will spread eventually, it is the sort of curse that strengthens over time."

The Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33: The Prince's Tale

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