Dumbledore’s Ironclad Reason

by Scott Andrew Walker

After reading the greatly renewed discussion on Snape brought about by the essay Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Antagonist, written by the lovely and talented (and not to mention, my wife) Melissa Walker, I have decided to share my own musings on the ex-Hogwarts professor everyone loves to hate.

Generally speaking, most people fall into one of two camps regarding Snape. There is the “”Snape is evil/on Voldemort’s side” crowd who will never forgive Snape for all the torment he’s put Harry through over the years – plus that little Avada Kedavra thing he did to Dumbledore, sending him to his death. (Yes, I know there are those of you out there who believe Dumbledore is alive, but for the purposes of this essay, I’m going to take HBP at face value and leave those arguments for the discussion boards.) Then there is the “Snape is good/on Dumbledore’s side” crowd, who believe Snape is ultimately on the right side because Dumbledore trusted him, or because of some quote from JKR about “redemptive qualities,” or some other mumbo-jumbo… 😉

Well, I fall into neither of these two camps. Like Melissa and BJ Texan, who wrote the essay Machiavelli’s Half-Blood Prince, I believe Snape is truly out for himself. Snape, being a very good Occlumens, has hidden his true intentions from everyone throughout the series (which is why he is so fascinating). But I believe JKR has given us many clues throughout the books as to what the motivations to his actions are.

I think McGonagall best summarizes our collective confusion when she says:

“He always hinted that he had an ironclad reason for trusting Snape..I mean…with Snape’s history…of course people were bound to wonder…but Dumbledore told me explicitly that Snape’s repentance was absolutely genuine…Wouldn’t hear a word against him!” I’d love to know what Snape told him to convince him,” said Tonks. (HBP, p.616)

It all really comes down to trust with Dumbledore. Many people have said that if someone can figure out exactly why Dumbledore trusted Snape they would be able to know exactly which side Snape was on.

I have very strong feelings as to why Dumbledore trusted Snape, and why his trust was “ironclad.”

Based on subtle clues given by JKR, Dumbledore’s steadfastness, and a little imagination on my part, I believe that Dumbledore and Snape had an Unbreakable Vow between them that Snape would do all that Dumbledore asked to bring to pass the permanent fall of Voldemort. I have divided the essay into several sections so that we may be able to understand his motives a little better.

  1. Snape as Student (Love Lost)
  2. Snape as Death Eater (Hatred Found)
  3. Snape as Spy (A Means to an End)
  4. Snape Betrayer (Or Dumbledore’’s Man?)
  5. Snape Victorious (All Obstacles Gone)

Before I go on any further, I would like to state that many of you have come remarkably close to my thoughts in developing my theory on Snape and Dumbledore in the recent threads of discussion on Melissa Walker’s afore-mentioned essay. And I would like to thank Hirayuki (thread #91) and Headhunter (thread #106) for their posts. They weren’t exactly what I had in mind, but both posts were very good and are worth a read.

Snape as Student (Love Lost)

So let’s go back to the Pensieve, and into “Snape’s Worst Memory.” I agree with Hirayuki’s post that the worst part of this memory is not that he was tormented and humiliated by James and Sirius. After all, he willingly went down to the lake and placed himself within eyeshot of them after the exam – giving them an easy target. Why would he do that when there was obviously a history of teasing, taunting, and even dueling between the Marauders and Snape? The answer is Lily Evans. Snape wanted to be close to the water’s edge to be close to her, just as James did.

When Sirius and James begin having their fun with Snape, Lily was the one who came forward and was furious in her defense of Snape. I don’t think she was just being a friendly bystander stopping an injustice, either. I think Lily and Snape had a real friendship, and both of them left this encounter scarred by it forever. But how could these two – one beautiful and popular, the other reclusive and unlikable, both from rival houses – have become close?

Horace Slughorn. The one thing he is known for is identifying students with potential from all the houses and bringing them together in his exclusive Slug Club. Throughout HBP, Slughorn speaks of Lily as one of his favorite students at Hogwarts: “I don’t imagine anyone who met her wouldn’t have liked her” (HBP, pg. 489). We also know that Snape, talented at Slughorn’s own subject, Potions, was one of his favorites. Since they were both favorites, and both in the same year at Hogwarts (presumably), it only makes sense that they spent a lot of time together at Slug Club parties.

In JKR’s interview with Emerson and Melissa, there are two questions that piqued my interest regarding this matter. First question: Was James the only one who had romantic feelings for Lily? Answer: No. Then they discuss Snape and Lupin as possible candidates, and Jo says she really can’t answer and gets them to eventually move on. Second question: Has Snape ever been loved by anyone? JKR’s answer: Yes, he has, which in some ways makes him more culpable even than Voldemort, who never has.

My guess is that Snape fell in love with the one person at Hogwarts who was friendly to him, who stood up for him, who was in the same club as him, etc. Lily may not have loved him romantically, but she probably loved him more than any other person ever has in Snape’s life, perhaps with the exception of Dumbledore and maybe his own mother. I don’t think Lily Evans would be capable of not loving Snape once she became close friends with him. It would simply go against her nature. I’ll bet the love she felt for him was never romantic love, though, just friendship.

Now back to the lake. Snape’s “arch enemies” are taking turns throwing hexes at him, and Lily comes over and tells them to stop. James says he will if Lily will go out with him. Snape gets off a silent Sectumsempra spell against James, which cuts his face open, and Sirius lifts Snivelly up by the ankles, exposing his underpants. Lily almost laughs at this.

Until now, all of Harry’s focus has been on his father since he first saw him in the Great Hall. Harry doesn’t notice Snape’s reaction to Lily almost laughing at him, but I bet it really made Snape angry to see the girl he loves laughing at a prank at his expense. So he reacts by calling her a Mudblood – forever damaging their relationship. This would also explain why Lily reacted so strongly to James when he tried to make Snape apologize. “I don’t want you to make him apologize,” (OotP, p. 648). She wanted Snape to apologize on his own. I’ll bet they had words over this later, but he never did say he was sorry and their relationship effectively was finished.

To hammer the final nail in the coffin, she later starts going out with James and after school they eventually get married. So Snape has one more, one big, reason to add to the list for hating James Potter. He stole the girl he loved.

Snape as Death Eater (Hatred Found)

Why have an infatuation with the Dark Arts all through school if you’re not going to go into the business? We know Snape becomes a Death Eater some time after leaving Hogwarts. Voldemort rises to the fullness of his powers during this time and the war is progressing nicely (for those on his side), and Snape is eager to prove himself and rise in the ranks – or at the very least keep himself in a favorable position with Voldemort.

On Voldemort’s orders Snape goes for an interview with Dumbledore (more on this in the next section) and overhears the prophecy and runs off to tell Voldemort about it.

Here is the conversation Dumbledore and Harry have just after Harry learns that it was Snape who gave the information to Voldemort:

“Professor Snape made a terrible mistake. He was still in Lord Voldemort’s employ on the night he heard the first half of Professor Trelawney’s prophecy. Naturally, he hastened to tell his master what he had heard, for it concerned his master most deeply. But he did not know – he had no possible way of knowing – which boy Voldemort would hunt from then onward, or that the parents he would destroy in his murderous quest were people that Professor Snape knew, that they were your mother and father-”

“He hated my dad like he hated Sirius! Haven’t you noticed Professor, how the people Snape hates tend to end up dead?”

“You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned-”

“But he’s a very good Occlumens, isn’t he, sir?” said Harry. “And isn’t Voldemort convinced that Snape’s on his side, even now? Professor…how can you be sure Snape’s on our side?”

Dumbledore did not speak for a moment; he looked as though he was trying to make up his mind about something. At last he said, “I am sure. I trust Severus Snape completely.” (HBP, p. 549)

From the first paragraph of this dialogue, Dumbledore says, “Your mother and father.” He doesn’t say, “parents.” He also doesn’t say, “Father and mother.” By saying “mother” first, he is naming the person Snape still has feelings for, giving justification for the remorse he felt at her loss. Dumbledore was a teacher when they were students. I am certain he saw how Snape felt for Lily Evans. If Snape could love Lily Evans, that had to go far with Albus Dumbledore. We all know how important love is with him.

There is another emotion that Snape confided to Dumbledore when he came to tell Dumbledore what he had done by giving the prophecy to Voldemort (more on this in the Snape as Spy section). That emotion is hatred, and it was directed at none other than Voldemort for having killed Lily Potter. From that moment on, I’m willing to bet Snape wanted to do anything within his power to be sure Voldemort was killed for good – to avenge her death. Again, that’s the kind of righteous indignation Dumbledore likes best. After all, isn’t that why Harry wants Voldemort dead? For killing his parents?

Next, I would like to draw attention to the last paragraph of the quoted text above. What is Dumbledore trying to make up his mind about? My guess is that it is about one of two things:

  1. He’s going to answer the question by telling Harry about Snape being in love with Lily. Obviously he decides this isn’t the right time for this, as they are about to hunt down a Horcrux, and opening this can of worms would definitely take Harry’s focus from the task at hand.
  2. More likely, he’s deciding if he should tell him about the Unbreakable Vow he has with Snape. That would settle the question of trusting Snape completely, certainly, but again would open up the gates of too many questions to answer at this time, as they are about leave to hunt down the Horcrux.

So Voldemort has killed Lily, causing Snape to want him dead. Snape is a patient man. If you can be a little patient too, I’ll show you how Snape may achieve this end in the final section of my essay, Snape Victorious.

Snape as Spy (A Means to an End)

I have been thinking about Snape’s role as spy for a while and how it fits into my theory. First let me say that Snape is a master manipulator (or “Spinner”), and is very cunning and patient. I was looking for canon excerpts that may give us some idea of his motivations throughout the series, and I believe JKR gave us a big clue about him in the Sorting Hat’s song from Harry’s first year:

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends
(SS, p. 147)

Snape is the head of Slytherin and, at least in the first book, a symbol of what it represents. So I think the song is describing Snape and giving us a very good clue to what he will be like. It could read, “Snape is cunning, and uses any means to achieve his ends.” If that is the case, consider the “end,” or goal, I have presented in the previous section: killing Voldemort. It is said that one should keep his friends close and his enemies closer. Voldemort’s power is what initially attracted Snape to be a Death Eater. Lily’s murder made Snape calculate a plan to wait for Voldemort to return in order to do him in.

Occlumency has no doubt played a huge part in Snape’s rising in Voldemort’s ranks. It’s very obvious that Voldemort needed to keep a close eye on Dumbledore, and, if possible, infiltrate his ranks. Who better to send, then, to post for a position at the school than Snape, a master Occlumens? Voldemort’s plan would be for Snape to get the job, join the Order, and effectively become a spy, gathering information to bring down Dumbledore.

Imagine the prophecy didn’t happen, and Snape’s plan would be this: He would go to the interview and simply tell Dumbledore he was sent to be a spy, he wants to switch sides and wants to fight against Voldemort. Dumbledore would suggest he continue to play the part, and they would work together to achieve their mutual goal. Snape then becomes a double agent – but more importantly, a top lieutenant for both Voldemort and Dumbledore. So no matter how things turn out in the war, he has taken steps to cover his own back. But the prophecy did occur, sooooo…

There is one more important point to discuss here about Snape as spy that has to do with timing. When Umbridge is interviewing the teachers as the Hogwart’s High Inquisitor, one question she asks everybody is how long they have been a teacher. Trelawney states: “Nearly sixteen years” (HBP, p. 314). This means that Dumbledore took her on once she made the real prophecy about the Dark Lord and Harry (more for her protection than for the love of the subject). When Umbridge asks Snape how long he has been a teacher, the answer is, “fourteen years” (HBP, p. 363). So we know that Dumbledore didn’t hire Snape until about two years after the prophecy.

What did Snape do for that time? I believe Snape used his position as spy to gather information for Dumbledore. Remember, Dumbledore vouched for Snape at the Wizengamot. Let’s look at the Wizengamot examination, starting with Karkaroff, giving names in hopes that he will be released from Azkaban:

“Snape,” he shouted. “Severus Snape.”

“Snape has been cleared by this council,” said Crouch disdainfully. “He has been vouched for by Albus Dumbledore.”

“No!” shouted Karkaroff…”I assure you! Severus Snape is a Death Eater!”

Dumbledore got to his feet. “I have given evidence on this matter,” he said calmly. “Severus Snape was indeed a Death Eater. However, he rejoined our side before Lord Voldemort’s downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk. He is now no more a Death Eater than I am.” (GoF, p. 590-591)

So what was Snape doing for those two years? Dumbledore tells us Snape was “still in Lord Voldemort’s employ on the night he heard the first half of Professor Trelawney’s prophecy” (HBP, pg. 549). Telling Harry he was still in Lord Voldemort’s employ on that night implies that he hasn’t yet become a spy for Dumbledore at the time he heard the prophecy, or else he may have acted differently with the information he overheard while eavesdropping. Also, would Dumbledore believe Snape was on his side if he steals intelligence and takes it straight to Voldemort? I don’t think that would go over well with Dumbledore if Snape was already spying for him.

So how could Snape have “rejoined our side before Lord Voldemort’s downfall and turned spy for us” and still have been in Lord Voldemort’s employ during his downfall? The timing doesn’t work out. I personally believe Snape didn’t switch sides until after the prophecy, after Voldemort chose the Potters. Then he went to Dumbledore. Then Dumbledore stretched the truth about the timing of Snape’s repentance with the Wizengamot to protect him, so he could have a spy gathering information from as many Death Eaters as possible to help gather them up. We’ve seen him do it a number of times to keep Harry out of trouble with the Ministry – and Dumbledore obviously has his own reasons for doing things and he doesn’t always include the Ministry in those decisions.

So Dumbledore vouches for Snape at the Wizengamot, saying that he had previously turned spy for “our side” at “great personal risk.” Then he hires him, first as a spy, for almost two years gathering information for Dumbledore, later as Potions Master at Hogwarts. There, Dumbledore can keep and eye on Snape (and Snape can keep an eye on Dumbledore).

Afterwards the Ministry does its job gathering as many Death Eaters as it can find using Dumbledore’s information he’s gathered from Snape (who doesn’t give away everything – the Malfoys and others conveniently stay out of Azkaban, and they are very close to Snape today). They wait for the inevitable return of Voldemort.

Snape Betrayer (Or Dumbledore’s Man?)

Let’s return to the prophecy: Voldemort takes the partial prophecy, and interprets the information to mean the Potters. We have a general idea about what happens at Godric’s Hollow. Snape is gravely affected when he learns that Lily is killed as a result of the info he gave Voldemort and becomes enraged. Now Snape’s return to Dumbledore is calculated. He knows he must convince him beyond measure he had nothing to do with the Potters’ deaths if he is to get on Dumbledore’s side and gain him as an ally who will help keep him out of Azkaban. His plan would be to express his regret over giving the information that resulted in the death of the Potters. Then give away his past feelings about Lily Evans, and how he never forgave himself for calling her a mudblood when he had feelings for her. He may share some close memories of them with Dumbledore in the Pensieve, and let Dumbledore see their falling out. Dumbledore was a teacher at the school and would know he was sincere. Snape also tells Dumbledore that he wants to avenge the death of Lily Potter and see Voldemort dead.

At this point there are a few things Dumbledore knows for sure, or believes strongly: Voldemort is not dead for good, and will one day return. He knows Snape would make a valuable ally in the fight to bring him down when he does return. He knows what the prophecy says and that Harry has now been marked as the “Chosen One” and will need all the help he can get to defeat Voldemort. He knows Snape is a Death Eater, and was sent to spy on him. Most importantly (at least for Dumbledore), he knows Snape has known love, that he says he’s heartbroken over what’s happened, and if this theory is correct, he now wants revenge on what’s left of Voldemort.

But how do you believe Snape? You don’t. So I believe Dumbledore did what he had to do under the circumstances: he makes an Unbreakable Vow with him – and knowing Dumbledore, it was bulletproof, and didn’t take into any regard his own safety over the greater good.

So the vow puts Snape under oath to do anything and everything within his power to:

  1. Bring to pass the permanent fall of Voldemort.
  2. Do anything and everything Dumbledore asks of him to this end.
  3. Protect students and teachers from death until #1 is completed.
  4. He must disclose his actions as a Death Eater to Dumbledore.
  5. And so on.
  6. This Unbreakeable Vow is, in McGonagall’s words, “iron-clad,” and it covers every possible base. Unfortunately, though, Dumbledore prioritizes his own life rather low in comparison to other things such as Harry’s life, students’ safety, and the greater good. The vow makes no provision for Dumbledore’s own life, but it does provide that it remain until the end of Snape’s life. (Make note: No where in this agreement does it require or imply that Snape have any altruistic, noble or loyal feelings. He must act in every way loyal to Dumbledore, but he may feel any way he chooses. So he must act in a manner that proves he is Dumbledore’s man until he has fulfilled the terms of the vow, but in his heart, mind and motivations he may not actually be Dumbledore’s man.)

    Dumbledore, in his very annoyingly noble way, places less value on his own life than on mean-spirited snotty ferrets. He believed to the very end that Draco could be redeemed and tried to talk him out of his “task” at the top of the astronomy tower. When time ran out, and Snape found Dumbledore, Draco and the Death Eaters at the top of the tower (with Harry watching under his Invisibility Cloak). Here is what is said:

    “We’ve got a problem, Snape,” said the lumpy Amycus, whose eyes and wand were fixed alike upon Dumbledore, “the boy doesn’’t seem able–”

    “But somebody else had spoken Snape’s name, quite softly.


    The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading.

    Snape said nothing, but walked forward and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way… Snape gazed for a moment a Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.

    “Severus…please…” (HBP, p. 595)

    Remember, these books are from Harry’s perspective, and the interpretation of events described are Harry’s. What I mean is this: Harry heard a quality in Dumbledore’s voice that he accurately surmised as pleading. Thus “Dumbledore was pleading,” is Harry’s interpretation of the softly spoken, “Severus…” JKR doesn’t use these emotions unintentionally, so we are all accurate in agreeing with Harry that Dumbledore was pleading with Snape, but we assume what it is he is pleading for. We may assume he is pleading for help, or for his own life. I think what he is pleading for is Malfoy’s life.

    Dumbledore was aware of the vow Snape made with Narcissa, as his own vow with Snape would require its disclosure. This is why Dumbledore was so insistent that Harry get Snape when they returned. If Dumbledore’s death couldn’t be prevented that night, Dumbledore wanted to be sure Malfoy wasn’t the one pulling the trigger, allowing him to be redeemed. Remember, Dumbledore knew Malfoy had been trying, unsuccessfully and half-heartedly, to kill Dumbledore all year. I’ll bet Snape had a standing order to pull the trigger himself if it meant preventing Malfoy from doing it, and there was no other way out. Dumbledore did not want Draco to become a murderer that night, or any night for that matter. Not as long as he was alive to stop it.

    Additional evidence for this theory is the conversation Dumbledore and Harry have right before they leave for the cave. See how their conversation goes:

    “Do you wish to come with me tonight?”

    “Yes,” said Harry at once.

    “Very well, then: Listen.” Dumbledore drew himself up to his full height. “I take you with me on one condition: that you obey any command I might give you at once, and without question.”

    “Of course.”

    “Be sure to understand me, Harry. I mean that you must follow even such orders as ‘run,’ ‘hide’’ or ‘go back.’ Do I have your word?”

    “I — yes, of course.”

    “If I tell you to hide, will you do so?”


    “If I tell you to flee, will you obey?”


    “If I tell you to leave me and save yourself, will you do as I tell you?”



    They looked at each other for a moment.

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Very good.”

    Note how closely it resembles the verbage of an Unbreakable Vow. The difference this time, though, is that Dumbledore knows Harry’s heart and that he can take Harry at his word, whereas with Snape trust is doubted because his heart is unreadable (he is a very good Occlumens) and therefore must be bound.

    Snape Victorious (All Obstacles Gone)

    So Snape kills Dumbledore because ironically his own vow with Dumbledore required it if circumstances were dire enough. I am guessing the vow also has other provisions, as I alluded to earlier. For example, Snape’s unwillingness to do any real harm to Harry throughout the books, and even going out of his way to protect him extends even after Dumbledore’s death to their duel at the end of HBP. Why didn’t Snape do anything that would cause lasting damage? Why didn’t he finish him off and go back to his Voldemort a double hero? Why did Snape instantly put a stop to the Crucio put on Harry by one of the other three escaping Death Eaters (sure, he claimed he was to be saved for the Dark Lord…)? I think the real reason is that the vow was still binding him to protect Harry from real harm until the ultimate task is complete.

    So if the vow binds Snape to protect Harry, it may also bind him to help Harry insofar as they work together toward the destruction of Voldemort. Snape knows that Voldemort has marked Harry as the “Chosen One.” While Snape may hate and despise Harry for reasons left alone in this article, he knows that if he is going to succeed in his goal of bringing down Voldemort, he is going to have to help Harry get the job done.

    I am guessing he will continue to play both sides: On the Dark side, he will have gained many supporters after killing Dumbledore, by :proving” which side he’s really on. And he will have gained considerable favor with the Malfoys, who have a lot of influence. As the good guys go, instead of being Dumbledore’s spy, he’ll end up working directly with Harry. Impossible, you say? How would Harry ever believe that Snape is still working under Dumbledore’s orders, and willing to cooperate with Harry to defeat Voldemort?

    I speculate that the answer lies in the one person alive who knows about the vow between Dumbledore and Snape. Aberforth Dumbledore. I believe he served as their Bonder in the Hog’s Head. I am guessing Dumbledore left some memories for Harry to discover and he will learn of the existence of the vow. He’ll learn that Aberforth served as Bonder for Dumbledore and Snape, thus Harry will learn about the details about Lily and revenge and everything.

    Harry may actually seek out Snape to ask for his help when he runs into one dead-end after another while searching for Horcruxes. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures. But he will finally have some understanding from Aberforth about Dumbledore’s trust in Snape, even if he does still hate him.

    Amongst the Death Eaters, Snape grows in status not only among the Malfoys, who owe him for saving Draco’s life, but among others as well for being the wizard to do what Voldemort could never do: kill Dumbledore.

    Remember what the Sorting Hat has to say about Snape, uh…I mean, Slytherins again? That those “cunning folk will use any means to achieve their ends.” To this point in the story Snape has played his cards brilliantly. He has been protected by Dumbledore when it mattered. He has been able to be close to both top dogs after Voldemort’s return to power. He has been conveniently able to avoid almost all the fighting in the war because of his dual agency, and having to “maintain cover.” Basically he has really spun a very clever web for himself.

    What was all of this for from the very beginning for Severus Snape? Before the vow…before the curse-that-went-bad…before falling in love with Lily Evans…when he decided to immerse himself in the Dark Arts? It was about power. Snape wanted power then and has wanted it ever since. That’s why he became a Death Eater. That’s why he has aligned himself the way he has with the people in his life. That’s why he chose to be close to the leaders of both sides of the war.

    So Snape will, in my humble opinion, be there when Harry and Voldemort pair off for the last time (along with Harry’s supporting cast, and a small army of Death Eaters as well). The Horcruxes are all destroyed (most likely with Snape’s help, that very convenient spy) – perhaps all except the snake. Voldemort is soon to be mortal once the snake bites it, only he doesn’t know it. Harry and Voldemort square off, and when it’s over Harry is left standing.

    Now there are a bunch of Death Eaters who are sure to end up in Azkaban unless they find someone willing to lead them out of the mess they are in, and Snape sees his opportunity to finally slide into the position he’s craved his entire life – the power position. With Voldemort gone, who better to take his place, in their eyes, than the wizard who killed Dumbledore?

    Obviously, I don’t believe Snape will actually win in the end, and there are a lot of supporting characters who will play key rolls. Wormtail has a life debt to repay, for example, and he is in a key position to “save” Harry (if that’s what repaying the debt will take). Obviously he is close to Voldemort (in rank, helping him return to power), and he has been “assisting” Snape. So his role will be critical either way.

    Some Final Thoughts

    To wrap up this essay, I’ve tried to think of some objections to my theory (or sub-theories) that an Unbreakable Vow exists between Dumbledore and Snape.

    I just don’t buy it. Dumbledore wouldn’t make an Unbreakable Vow with Snape because it’s below him. If Snape really had good reasons to believe to come to Dumbledore to begin with, Dumbledore should have had equally good reason to trust him without a UV.

    That’s possible. But the real reason for the vow is to defeat Voldemort. And Dumbledore knows he isn’t going to be the one to do it, Harry is. Dumbledore has to depend on allies to be reliable at the end when Harry needs him most. We cannot forget Snape’s outstanding ability to hide his thoughts and make his actions completely unpredictable. As a double agent spy, what other method of magic, potions, spell, contract, etc. exists that would allow Dumbledore to ignore the past and completely and absolutely trust Snape? Unless there is something that JKR hasn’t introduced to us yet, the Unbreakeable Vow is the only type of contractual agreement (magical or otherwise) that would give Dumbledore that certainty.

    There’s no way Snape loved Lily.

    I would urge you to reread the Chapter “Snape’s Worst Memory” from OotP. Why would this be Snape’s worst memory? Does anyone reading this possibly believe that this is the first, or even the worst, encounter between Snape and the Marauders that resulted in Snape getting teased and humiliated? Then what makes this encounter with them so bad? I think Snape could care less about this particular encounter with them. I also don’t think that Lily standing up for someone getting picked on is out of the ordinary either. I believe what is out of the ordinary is his reaction to Lily, as I addressed in the Snape as Student section.

    JKR was asked by Emerson in their July 16, 2005 interview, “Was James the only one who had romantic feelings for Lily?” She answered: “No. She was like Ginny, she was a popular girl.” That doesn’t mean necessarily Snape was in love with her, but remember who head of Slytherin was at the time: Slughorn, who really liked Lily, and who has a lot of influence over Snape. I bet a lot of those feelings rubbed off on him.

    There’s no way Lily loved Snape.

    I agree 100%. It seems to me that Lily was the type of person who was kind hearted and loved everybody. I do think she loved Snape, maybe the way you love your best friends, but she had no romantic feelings for him.

    How could Snape make an Unbreakeable Vow with Narcissa if he had a UV with Dumbledore?

    There wouldn’t be any problem with a person having an Unbreakable Vow with more than one person so long as one vow doesn’t cause the person to break the other. If that would occur, the person under both vows would die upon completion of the conflicting vow.

    The Vow Snape made with Dumbledore, I am certain, put him under oath to protect Hogwarts’ students. So when Narcissa asked Snape to take the vow to protect her son, there was no conflict with Snape’s first vow with Dumbledore.

    I’m sure you’ll all come up with many more objections, but this is long enough as it is. My goal in writing this essay was to explore some of the motivations behind one of the series’ biggest mysteries: why Dumbledore trusts Snape. I hope that I have given some credible evidence that supports the idea. I realize that one has to make some creative attempts to predict future events when writing an essay like this in order to draw conclusions.

    Many of you may think that all I have done here is rehash old ideas in this essay. It may be true that much, if not most, of the topics I have discussed in this essay has been discussed in other editorials and in discussions. I believe what I have done differently to those old ideas is to look at them from a unique perspective. Whether you like or hate the ideas I have put together here, I hope I have helped you think about things a little differently than you have about the relationship between Snape and Dumbledore.