If Harry had managed to get out of the Astronomy Tower to wake up Snape, was Harry still supposed to watch Snape kill Dumbledore?

Half-Blood Prince chapter The Lightning-Struck Tower

“Go and wake Severus,” said Dumbledore faintly but clearly. “Tell him what has happened and bring him to me. Do nothing else, speak to nobody else, and do not remove your cloak. I shall wait here.”

“But —”

You swore to obey me, Harry — go!”

So Harry is supposed to

  1. Somehow run through the gauntlet of fighting in the corridor at the foot of the stairs under the cloak.
  2. Wake up Snape who slept through the appearance of the Dark Mark.
  3. Accompany Snape back to Dumbledore through the same gauntlet of fighting.

Then what? Harry still ends up watching Snape kill Dumbledore?

  • 3
    I think Snape would tell him to stay in his office. Which he would not have done, he would have gone fighting with his friends I would say. Then he might witness Snape getting through that protection only Death Eaters could do, which is still not that odd. But that's hard to say because in 'your story' the battle might have been totally different than it was now. What I'm trying to say, if he would have gone down, he would not have come back up again (before it's too late).
    – Don_Biglia
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 8:29
  • 2
    I dont think snape would want harry to stay at his office if thats what happen . Because if he wanted it to look real and not fake, he might want harry to see that. It needs to be told to everyone that he killed dumbledore. There should be a witness
    – Fadh Nhz
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 9:18
  • 1
    Why was the witness necessary? And specifically Harry?
    – Don_Biglia
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 14:33
  • Witness is necessary. Consider this a real life story. Nobody will trust you if you just say Snape killed dumbledore when you never even seen it. Its not just to make a story line good or dramatic, its also to make it more sense. Harry is good as witness as he is (duh) the main character and people started to believe Harry after The Order of phoenix
    – Fadh Nhz
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 17:15
  • Snape doesn't need a witness. In a world with Pensieves and Leglimency, all he has to do is tell Voldemort he killed Dumbledore and let him look for himself. Word will spread from there. Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 8:16

3 Answers 3


Well, like they say in Potter-verse, Dumbledore was the wisest of all. He did want Harry to watch Snape killing him. I could not dig up any canon reference as to why did he want Harry to see him die, but some possible reasons I can come up with are-

i. To witness the "murder" event - Dumbledore may have wanted Harry to know how he is murdered (more specifically BY WHOM). So when the time comes Harry will realize that the Elder wands allegiance is with Draco and NOT WITH SNAPE (as mistaken by Lord V.).

ii. To ensure Snape's cover & act as a witness - The Elder wand was NEVER the key to defeat Voldemort. The only way was for all the horcruxes to be destroyed and Harry also sacrificing himself to Lord V only. Thus, Voldemort will become a mortal who can be killed by any wizard strong enough (here Elder wand can come into play). But like Dumbledore said, Harry must know about this at an opportune moment, and only Snape was to be the one to tell him. So, it was very very very important for Snape to stay with Voldemort and work as a double agent. When Harry saw Snape killing Dumbledore, he became infuriated, and during all later meetings he even dueled with him, thus reinforcing Snape's image as an obedient servant in Voldemort's mind. Further, making Harry a witness for the act will forever cement Snape's image to all. So, Harry will also act as a very reliable witness if someone is to divulge his thoughts via Legilimency.

iii. To save him from getting hurt in the crossfire - The Death Eaters were very 'pumped up' after entering Hogwarts, and in the heat of the battle might have caused harm to Harry. (As evidently shown by Bellatrix and her eagerness to kill Harry, only to be saved by Snape saying "No one is to touch the boy"). Hence, Dumbledore knew it was better to keep Harry with him or Snape.

  • 2
    But Dumbledore had no idea that the allegiance of the Elder wand would lie with Draco after his murder.He wanted the Elder wand to lose all its powers,but his plan backfired,not on himself,but on Voldemort.Also,Harry would believe in the guilt of Snape any day,whether he witnessed Severus murder Albus or not.The third one makes more sense,but does not explain what would happen after Harry fetched Snape.
    – rah4927
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 9:49
  • 1
    Throughout the sixth book,Harry is seen to be finding out evidence against Draco and Snape.Right before their adventure in the cave,Harry shouted at Dumbledore saying that Snape and Draco were planning something right under their noses.Also,remember that Harry had just figured out that it was Snape who sold out his parents to Voldemort.So bitterness against Snape would totally be justified,whether Dumbledore trusted him or not.
    – rah4927
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 10:21
  • 2
    @rah4927 ... do you believe that Draco could have disarmed The Most Powerful Wizard of the time without him allowing it? I believe this was all planned out by Dumbledore. There were too many moving parts for him to not have it planned to the nth degree, with contingencies for each and every step along the way. Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 12:50
  • 6
    @Paulster2 Of course. As I've said elsewhere, Dumbledore is Batman.
    – KSmarts
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 14:46
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    Correct me if I am wrong but in the book, Bellatrix is not the want to attempt to kill/take Harry. It was unnamed Deatheater. Movies are a whole lot different story. Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 17:50

I disagree with the basic premise here - that Dumbledore was fetching Snape to have himself killed. I don't think that was the plan at all, for several reasons (I don't have the book with me so no quotations, but if you've got any throw em in!)

1) Dumbledore didn't "plan" his death in any detail - it was something to be done as a last resort, to spare him from Death Eaters, or to protect Malfoy (and his hand obviously). It was NOT something that was simply to be done on a whim whenever Death Eaters were around, but a final gambit to be used when there were no other options left.

2) Dumbledore was greatly weakened by the potion. Remember, the trap was designed to completely incapacitate a wizard, allowing either the Inferi to drag them under or Voldemort to return to investigate. It's doubtful that any wizard other than Dumbledore could have performed magic AT ALL after drinking the potion, never mind the powerful spells he used.

3) Dumbledore would not have left the students to the mercy of the Death Eaters. His death could be carried out in a myriad of other ways that didn't involve Greyback stalking the halls of Hogwarts.

So why, then, was Harry instructed to fetch Snape on their return? Simple - for the same reason Dumbledore ran straight to Snape the LAST time he returned to the castle, gravely wounded by Dark Magic after investigating a Horcux. He needed Snape - the only man in Hogwarts he truly trusts - to help heal him.

Even more than that, Snape is his inside man - if the Death Eaters are attacking Hogwarts, Snape is the most useful source of information in the castle, the BEST way to figure out what's happening and how to proceed.

But then, of course, the weakened Dumbledore senses Malfoys arrival and realises that this is no longer an option. This has changed EVERYTHING. Malfoy is on the Death Eaters side - if he has arrived the others must be close behind. So what are his options?

Disarm Malfoy - we don't know he had the time to spin around in his weakened condition. Even if he had, he's risking starting a potentially lethal duel between Malfoy and Harry. AND if this is successful, he still has more Death Eaters approaching, who are older, fiercer, and more skilled (especially when they pass the cry that Harry Potter is in the tower!). It's unlikely that they can fight their way out. And if they DID, Malfoys life is forfeit.

So no, disarming Malfoy isn't an option for all sorts of reasons. The only thing he can do is hide Harry and see how the situation plays itself out. This is why, as soon as Snape enters the scene, Dumbledore begs him to kill him. Best possible outcome, given the unfortunate circumstances. I think from the moment he Petrified Harry, he had accepted his likely fate, but not before.

NOTE - One of the other posters has suggested that Dumbledore wanted Harry to see his Death to tip him off about the Elder wand. But this wasn't Dumbledores plan. Dumbledore intended the wand to die with him (since he asked Snape to kill him the wand wouldn't count this as a "defeat"), allowing it's power to be broken. This is another indicator that what happened in the Tower was Dumbledore being forced to think on his feet.

  • "I think from the moment he Petrified Harry, he had accepted his likely fate, but not before". Dumbledore was already a dead man, and he knew it. Remember the curse in his hand. It was going to kill him within the year.
    – tilley31
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 17:50
  • 1
    But the dark mark had been cast above the astronomy tower.So Dumbledore knew that the death eaters were inside Hogwarts.So why does he call Snape for help then?It would jeopardize Snape's cover,and Snape's cover is more important than Dumbledore's life.I still can't see the reason behind Dumbledore calling Snape.
    – rah4927
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 10:58
  • tilley31 - Sorry, I should clarify. I meant the had accepted he would likely die in that tower. I completely agree he'd already accepted his death at some point that year. rah - He knew Death Eaters had been (probably, remember Snape could cast the mark) inside, but not when, or why, or how many. Snape would know. Snape appears to be the most powerful healer when dealing with Dark Magic, especially given the secrecy necessary. Who else would Dumbledore call if not him? Plus he's an excellent double agent, no doubt Dumbledore trusted him to improvise if he was caught (which is what he did!)
    – DavidS
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 12:26
  • @rah4927 No, he knew that someone who knew how to cast the Dark Mark was inside the castle. He did not know whether it was a trick or not. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 21:43
  • tilley's point is, there's several quotes from the final book (Snape's memories, to be precise) that detail that Dumbledore had been planning to be killed by Snape on that very day, and that plan had been set in stone for pretty much the entire year.
    – Egor Hans
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 16:37

Just throwing in my 2 cents...

In book 5 or 6 (somebody please correct me), Harry is taking Occlumency classes after hours with Snape to shield his mind from the connection to Voldemort through his scar. The classes are not a success.

This isn't said in the story (so shouldn't be accepted as an answer) but I believe Snape reported to Dumbledore how poorly everything went and Dumbledore decided to have Harry witness the event because Harry not knowing the true loyalty of Snape while seeing and, more importantly, believing that Snape killed Dumbledore would only reenforce the lie of Snape's loyalty to Voldemort if he should try to read Harry's mind.

  • 1
    I believe Harry's lack of success in Occlumency is mentioned in Deathly Hallows chapter the Prince's Tale. Snape's memory of his conversation with Dumbledore “Yet you confide much more in a boy who is incapable of Occlumency, whose magic is mediocre,..."
    – tls
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 8:21

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