When Snape climbs the steps up to the Astronomy Tower in Half-Blood Prince (The Lightning-Struck Tower chapter):

But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly. "Severus..." The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening, Dumbledore was pleading.

And then

“Severus . . . please . . .”

Was this to keep up the illusion, or was there unfinished business, the plan was not ready that night? Did Dumbledore not want Harry to see?

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    I guess my question is, have you read the 7th book yet? Because that pretty well answers your question. Mar 20, 2014 at 22:23
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    Specifically see ch. 33 of the 7th book, "The Prince's Tale."
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 20, 2014 at 23:05
  • I have read the book, but was just wondering why it seemed as though D was begging and it all seemed to be scary.
    – Möoz
    Mar 21, 2014 at 0:22
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    I suspect it's because they feel that you either did not do the research (read the 7th book where it's explained) or because they feel you have not adequately explained why that canon explanation does not satisfy you. Personally, my viewpoint (not enough substance for an answer) is that Dumbledore was also in unimaginable pain, dying from the curse on the ring and weakened by the potion, and fearing that, in this time of physical weakness, he'd lack the strength to continue on. He's pleading for Snape to end his pain.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:47
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    Dumbledore saying "Please" was actually the hint that made me figure out that Snape was on "our" side long before book 7 was released. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
    – George T
    Aug 4, 2014 at 7:48

5 Answers 5


Snape was Dumbledore's double agent from the beginning and the plan was for Snape to kill Dumbledore (who was dying anyway) to prove his loyalty to Voldemort, which would result in him getting closer. Snape was against this plan but had reluctantly agreed. When the time came for Snape to actually kill Dumbledore he hesitated, which is why Dumbledore pleaded with him. Not to spare his life, but to do his part in the plan and kill Dumbledore.

  • I see. So it wasn't that D was scared of the plan happening in that moment, it was that he wanted to make sure S held up his end by actually carrying out the task.
    – Möoz
    Mar 21, 2014 at 0:23
  • Yes, and like this, all the others thaught, D pleaded to S to survive, it was the perfect plan ;)
    – ReeCube
    Mar 21, 2014 at 13:45
  • Did Dumbledore fear death? May 2, 2014 at 6:10
  • @AwalGarg - No. Did you read my answer? May 2, 2014 at 6:45
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    @AwalGarg He didn't fear death. He even tells Harry that to the well organised mind death is the next adventure. Wasn't this in PS even? I seem to recall that and it makes sense because after the PS was destroyed a certain very old couple would die. He also tells Voldemort that there are worse things than death but of course Voldemort disagrees on that.
    – Pryftan
    Jul 23, 2017 at 0:10

The other answers here aren't wrong. But they don't contain the (whole) correct answer. Namely:

Dumbledore was scared of Greyback.

This is what causes Dumbledore to plead with Snape. He knew that he was going to die one way or another. He had embraced death and wasn't scared of it. But he was worried that he might die at the hands of another Death Eater (like Greyback) who would cause his death to be drawn-out and traumatic.

"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 to you, Severus, because death is coming for me as surely as the Chudley Cannons will finish bottom of this year's league. I confess I should prefer a quick, painless exit to the protracted and messy affair it will be if, for instance, Greyback is involved - I hear Voldemort has recruited him? Or dear Bellatrix, who likes to play with her food before she eats it."
His tone was light but his blue eyes pierced Snape as they had frequently pierced Harry, as though the soul they discussed was visible to him. At last Snape gave another curt nod.
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33, The Prince's Tale).

Note that Dumbledore wants to avoid pain and humiliation and is specifically worried about Greyback and Bellatrix. When he's disarmed on the Astronomy Tower Dumbledore knows that his time must be up. Either Snape will kill him or one of the other Death Eaters will. Bellatrix isn't there to do it but, as he had feared, Greyback is.

"Is that you, Fenrir?" asked Dumbledore.
"That's right," rasped the other. "Pleased to see me, Dumbledore?"
"No, I cannot say that I am..."
Fenrir Greyback grinned, showing pointed teeth. Blood trickled down his chin and he licked his lips slowly, obscenely.
"But you know how much I like kids, Dumbledore."
"Am I now to take it that you are attacking even without the full moon now? This is most unusual...you have developed a taste for human flesh that cannot be satisfied once a month?"
"That's right," said Greyback. "Shocks you, that, doesn't it, Dumbledore? Frightens you?"
"Well, I cannot pretend it does not disgust me a little," said Dumbledore.
And he raised a yellow fingernail and picked at his front teeth, leering at Dumbledore.
"I could do you for afters, Dumbledore..."
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 27, The Lightning-Struck Tower).

Dumbledore was brave enough to stand up to Greyback. He wasn't going to betray his fear openly in front of the Death Eaters. But that doesn't mean he wasn't scared. He is unarmed and defenceless. Greyback is demonstrating his very real desire to rip him to pieces. That's not a pretty death, as Dumbledore himself says in the earlier quote. Although he also cared about saving Draco's soul, as Dave Johnson says, he is really speaking out of self-interest here. Snape is his one way out of a grisly, painful death. Yet Snape was unwilling to kill Dumbledore - perhaps out of love/respect for Dumbledore and perhaps because killing someone is simply a big deal (Snape has to summon the will to go through with Dumbledore's request). So Dumbledore pleads with him to keep his word and finish him off - knowing the fate that awaits him if Snape should fail.

  • 4
    Good point, additionally, Greyback could have thrown a spanner in the works by not killing Dumbledore, but turning him.
    – Möoz
    Jan 12, 2017 at 19:19
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    @ Mooz If he could be turned he would become a powerful ally... Probably more powerful than Luke tbh. Dumblewolf is a scary notion. Although wouldn't the curse have killed him anyway? Jan 12, 2017 at 19:28
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    'knowing the fate that awaits him if Snape should fail.' And the fate of the school and the world because Severus wouldn't be the most respected by Voldemort. I also think that this has something to do with what Hagrid tells Harry: overhearing Snape and Dumbledore arguing because Snape didn't want to do [what he agreed to do] any more.
    – Pryftan
    Jul 23, 2017 at 0:14

It was revealed that the plan the entire time was for Snape to kill Dumbledore, because Dumbledore was foolish when handling one of the Horcruxes, and thus dying anyway. Having Snape be the one to kill Dumbledore ensured that Voldemort would trust Snape that much more.

Also, more specific to the question, Dumbledore was pleading because above all else, Dumbledore did not want Draco to be the one to kill him. Dumbledore very much believed that Draco could be saved, and knew that killing someone fractures your soul. In fact, that is specifically what must be done to create a Horcrux:

By an act of evil -- the supreme act of evil. By committing murder. Killing rips the soul apart. The wizard intent upon creating a Horcrux would use the damage to his advantage: he would encase the torn portion. ...


I think that Dumbledore said "Snape, Please" since he wanted him to carry out the effect and make an effect that made even Harry think Snape was evil. What do you think?

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    Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Can you provide any sources for your answer?
    – Edlothiad
    Apr 29, 2017 at 20:42

Dumbledore was actually telling Severus to go along with the plan, that is, killing him and thus gaining Voldemort's trust.

Saying "Severus... please", was Dumbledore pleading to him, like: "Snape, you gotta do it."

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This seems to be exactly the same as a previous answer. Is there anything you can add to make this a better answer?
    – DavidW
    May 23, 2019 at 19:43

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