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Would the Horcrux cave potion have killed Dumbledore if:

Snape hadn't?

Kreacher survived the potion:

‘There was a b – basin full of potion on the island. The D – Dark Lord made Kreacher drink it ...’ [...] ‘Kreacher drank, and as he drank, he saw terrible things ... Kreacher’s insides burned ... Kreacher cried for Master Regulus to save him, he cried for his Mistress Black, but the Dark Lord only laughed ... he made Kreacher drink all the potion ...'

Deathly Hallows - page 160 - Bloomsbury - chapter 10, Kreacher's Tale

Kreacher crawled to the lake for water and was dragged under by the Inferi who lived there, and Disapparated from the cave back to number 12 Grimmauld Place, per Regulus Black's instructions: ‘Master Regulus told Kreacher to come back,’ he said.

What I'm interested in knowing is whether Kreacher survived Voldemort's potion because he was a house-elf and house-elf magic is different than wizarding magic, or if he survived drinking the potion because while it was a devastatingly horrible potion to drink, it was not lethal -- not lethal to either house-elves or wizards.

Therefore, I'm wondering if

Snape had not killed Dumbledore after Dumbledore and Harry arrived back from the Horcrux cave

whether Dumbledore would have ultimately died from the Horcrux potion?

An answer in the spirit of canon would be very welcome.

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    I think this is covered by Dumbledore's comments about how V wouldn't want to kill anyone who found the cave right away. I always assumed he'd want to do the killing himself ie the potion wouldn't kill anyone who drank it. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Dec 23 '12 at 3:01
  • Would you be willing to make it into an answer? I don't remember that bit about Voldemort, but it sounds interesting. – Slytherincess Dec 23 '12 at 4:19
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    Dumbledore wasn't dying because of the potion. He was dying because of a cursed ring, if I remember correctly. – vsz Aug 27 '15 at 15:25
  • If so Kreacher wouldn't be alive, would he? Unless of course you consider that Dumbledore might have been too weak to get water or if he did he'd be too weak to fight off the inferi. But he had Harry there and there was enough time for him to recover enough to protect against the inferi. As vsz says the death would have been from something else namely a certain curse which Severus contained for a while. As for Kreacher he probably would have died (water, inferi) IF he HADN'T had the ability to return to his master (who had told him to return) and so in a sense the house elf magic DID save him. – Pryftan Jul 13 '17 at 15:59
  • @Pryftan - Kreacher and Dumbledore are not of the same species. What kills a House-Elf might not kill a human, and vice versa. So the question still stands. – Slytherincess Aug 22 '17 at 6:09
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At the entrance to the Horcrux cave, Dumbledore says:

"The idea ... is that your enemy must weaken him- or herself to enter."

Then, when they're discussing the potion in the basin:

"But what if -- what if it kills you?"

"Oh, I doubt that it would work like that," said Dumbledore easily. "Lord Voldemort would not want to kill the person who reached this island."

and:

"I'm sorry, Harry; I should have said, he would not want to immediately kill the person who reached this island," ... "He would want to keep them alive long enought to find out how they managed to penetrate so far through his defenses ..."

and:

"Undoubtedly," he (Dumbledore) said finally, "this potion must act in a way that will prevent me from taking the Horcrux."

I can't recall anything offhand that addresses the issue of how Voldemort expected to be notified of someone getting into the cave, but I think the quotes above make it pretty clear that the potion was supposed to seriously incapacitate whoever drank it, but not kill them.

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I agree with Ward's conclusion that the potion is not meant to kill the drinker especially given the evidence of the other 2 victims of the potion. However, i think Dumbledore is wrong on his assumption of WHY the potion will not kill him.

Lets investigate, first we have Dumbledore's comment.

"Oh, I doubt that it would work like that," said Dumbledore easily. "Lord Voldemort would not want to kill the person who reached this island."

Showing that he doesn't believe the potion is meant to kill the drink, here i think most of us agree that the intent is not for death via the potion.

Here is were i think Dumbledore's conclusions are slightly off.

"I'm sorry, Harry; I should have said, he would not want to immediately kill the person who reached this island," ... "He would want to keep them alive long enought to find out how they managed to penetrate so far through his defenses ..."

While The potion does seem to incapacitate the drinker, it also has another side effect, making the drinker incredibly thirsty. The cup/potion itself does not appear to allow any liquid into the victims mouth, unless its from the lake.

What do we know about this lake? Its filled with Inferi.

What do these inferi do when you drink from the late? immediately attack and kill you.

“Kreacher needed water, he crawled to the island’s edge and he drank from the black lake . . . and hands, dead hands, came out of the water and dragged Kreacher under the surface. . . .”

We see Kreacher was attacked an dragged under the water by the inferi.

And he drank — all the potion — and Kreacher swapped the lockets — and watched . . . as Master Regulus . . . was dragged beneath the water . . . and . . .”

Regulus, while not specifically stating he drank from the lake, he most likely did because of his thirst, and was dragged into the lake by the inferi.

instinctively, the only way left to get water, because Volde- mort had planned it so . . .

He flung himself over to the edge of the rock and plunged the goblet into the lake, bringing it up full to the brim of icy water that did not vanish.

“Sir — here!” Harry yelled, and lunging forward, he tipped the water clumsily over Dumbledore’s face.

It was the best he could do, for the icy feeling on his arm not holding the cup was not the lingering chill of the water. A slimy white hand had gripped his wrist, and the creature to whom it be- longed was pulling him, slowly, backward across the rock.

As Harry states, he knew instinctively what Voldemort had done, made it so you had to drink water from the lake, the water that activated the inferi, to attack and kill you. Which shows intent of death via inferi, and not the potion, which would not keep the person who found the locket alive long enough for Voldemort to question them, as Dumbledore suspected.

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