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Dumbledore knew the first part of the Unbreakable Vow between Snape and Narcissa because Harry overheard Snape and Draco's conversation and later reported to him during their private lesson. But did he really know that Snape also promised to "carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform"? In other words, did Dumbledore know that Snape had to kill him, otherwise Snape would die? I'm not sure about this because in the Deathly Hallows Dumbledore seemed to ignore the fact that Snape would die if he wouldn't kill him. When Snape questioned Dumbledore why he didn't trust him, Dumbledore replied:

You gave me your word, Severus. And while we are talking about services you owe me, I thought you agreed to keep a close eye on our young Slytherin friend (UK edition, p550)

This conversation actually happened in the Half-Blood Prince, and it was overheard by Hagrid, who accidentally revealed the secret to Harry on Ron's birthday, March 1. Since Snape's Vow had been made during the previous summer, it was made before the conversation.

Suppose Dumbledore was quite aware of the full details of the Vow, he would have told Snape "You should carry out the deed or you'll die". It was somewhat strange for him to remind Snape of his "services" and Draco while Snape was perfectly aware of all the dire consequences.

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It's possible Dumbledore knew. During his many conversations with Snape, Snape may have disclosed he had made the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy and J.K. Rowling just didn't show that on page:

Dumbledore listened to Harry’s story with an impassive face. When Harry had finished he did not speak for a few moments, then said, ‘Thank you for telling me this, Harry, but I suggest that you put it out of your mind. I do not think that it is of great importance.’

‘Not of great importance?’ repeated Harry incredulously. ‘Professor, did you understand –?’

‘Yes, Harry, blessed as I am with extraordinary brainpower, I understood everything you told me,’ said Dumbledore, a little sharply. ‘I think you might even consider the possibility that I understood more than you did. Again, I am glad that you have confided in me, but let me reassure you that you have not told me anything that causes me disquiet.’

Half-Blood Prince - pages 335-336 - Bloomsbury - chapter 17, A Sluggish Memory

Canon doesn't tell us if Dumbledore knew Snape had vowed to "carry out the deed the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform". Further, it's not implicitly stated that Dumbledore knew that Snape had agreed to put up his own life in order to complete Draco's task to kill Dumbledore.

Deathly Hallows doesn't pinpoint the date that Snape and Dumbledore had the conversation where Snape agreed to Dumbledore's demand that Snape be the one to kill Dumbledore, which was totally separate from the Unbreakable Vow. The conversation takes place on the night Dumbledore mortally wounded himself by putting on the Peverell ring Horcrux, which triggered a fatal curse. Snape was able to trap the curse temporarily in Dumbledore's hand, but they both knew it was a matter of time before Dumbledore would suffer a protracted and painful death. I tend to think this conversation occurred prior to Snape making the Unbreakable Vow, because he suggested Dumbledore go ahead and let Draco kill him -- would he have done this if the Vow had been made?

‘If you don’t mind dying,’ said Snape roughly, ‘why not let Draco do it?’

‘That boy’s soul is not yet so damaged,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I would not have it ripped apart on my account.’

‘And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?’

‘You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I ask this one, great favour of you, Severus [...]’

Deathly Hallows - page 548 - Bloomsbury - chapter 33, The Prince's Tale

So at this point, I don't think Dumbledore knew about the Unbreakable Vow because it hasn't been made yet. I do not find Dumbledore to be indifferent to Snape; I find that he is merely suggesting to Snape that only Snape can reconcile in his soul whether killing Dumbledore under the circumstances he is facing would be an act of murder or an act of mercy, and he is allowing Snape the choice to consider it as an act of mercy.

As for the strangeness factor, well, Dumbledore was a strange guy. Who else would give a dinner speech consisting only of "Nitwit! Oddment! Blubber! Tweak!"?

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Dumbledore told Snape in his office that Snape had to be the one to kill him as he didn't want Draco's soul damaged by murder! Plus he was dying anyways from trying on the resurrection ring while it had a horecrux in it! As for the unbreakable vow! That was the perfect way for Snape not to reveal his allegiance to Dumbledore and remain in Voldemorts good graces, but yet to continue spying for the order of the Phoenix! Also Dumbledore did not want his body desecrated by the Deatheaters!

  • Welcome to SFF:SE. It would be helpful if you could provide appropriate passages from the books. – Praxis Feb 23 '16 at 19:14
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    Also, why do you end every sentence with an exclamation mark? Are you really that excited about it? – Rand al'Thor Feb 23 '16 at 19:24

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