Dead Dumbledore Definitely Distressing

by Lenius Snoop

In an interview of Daniel Radcliffe by Craig McLean appearing in the Sunday, February 11, 2007 edition of the Observer, Dan is quoted as saying:

Jo came down to the set at one point and I said, ‘Oh hello, why are you here today?’ And she said, ‘Oh I just needed a break from the book, Dumbledore’s giving me a lot of trouble.’ And I said, ‘But isn’t he dead?’ And she said, ‘Well, yeah, but it’s more complex.’

The obvious implication of this exchange is that Dumbledore, though killed by Severus Snape in Half-Blood Prince, will somehow play are role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and that writing the details of this role was proving to be particularly challenging. This begs the analysis: In what way may Dumbledore, incapacitated as he is, directly serve a function in Deathly Hallows? There are a number of possibilities that readily come to mind. By “Dumbledore,” Jo may have been talking about his portrait, newly added to the Headmaster’s office at the end of Half-Blood Prince. She may also have been referring to some persisting influence that Dumbledore may have left behind, like a bottled up, yet unseen memory in need of a trip to the nearest Pensieve. Or any other number of lingering “imprints,” instructions, or objects closely associated with the deceased former headmaster.

Yet still another possibility exists; one that is tantalizingly wicked. Dumbledore may indeed make an important appearance, at least physically. It is a fairly safe bet that at some point near the conclusion of Deathly Hallows, Harry and Lord Voldemort will have an ultimate mano-e-mano, or rather wando-e-wando. The prophecy implies as much. And it is also a safe bet that by the end of book seven, Harry will have gained enough skill and composure to ensure that such a showdown is not decidedly one-sided, as was his brief tangle with Snape at the end of Half-Blood Prince. Let’s size up the opponents.

Harry will probably not be alone. He may be accompanied by any number of allies, at least those who survive up to that point in the story. Assuming Ron and Hermione are not casualties, they’ll be there. Ginny may be there. Hagrid may be there, as he is particularly difficult to kill by magic due to his gigantic heredity. Other characters may be there as well. Anyone from the DA who survives to that point and is willing to face death (particularly Neville and Luna), may be participants on Harry’s side. Additional support may come from the Order of the Phoenix in the form of Lupin, Tonks, Moody, the Weasleys, Kingsley, etc. And let’s not forget non-human potential support from Dobby, Fawkes, Buckbeak, and Grawp, while we’re at it. Any number of these potential allies may not make it to the final showdown due to death or injury, and if Jo was feeling particularly ruthless while writing Deathly Hallows, it may just end up being Harry. But Harry will probably not be completely alone. In fact, this is one strength that Harry possesses that Voldemort does not, he has true friends and works cooperatively with them.

Voldemort will want to finish Harry himself. At the time of the final showdown, he will be, for all intents and purposes, alone. In addition to destroying the Horcruxes, Harry’s side will likely need to decisively deal with the Death Eaters before moving on to finish Voldemort, and this will showcase Voldemort’s true personality. He is largely a coward; a very powerful one, to be sure, but at heart still the just the bully of his youth. Whenever he has faced Harry, as himself, he has done so with overwhelming odds of success. At the end of Goblet of Fire, he sees to it that Cedric is dispatch at once, leaving Harry alone in the midst of an audience of Death Eaters. It is an audience to witness Harry’s destruction, but also an audience at his command if necessary.

At the end of Order of the Phoenix, he again takes the coward’s option, possessing Harry to use as both a weapon and shield against Dumbledore. He fears death, and he fears the prophecy, which led him to believe that Harry has the power to vanquish him. He is thoroughly evil and extremely careful. It is too much to hope that he does not have one last trick up his sleeve, to tip the scales in his favor. He will technically be alone, but not quite. He will have Inferii. But here’s where the speculation takes a decidedly vile turn; they won’t be your run of the mill generic Inferii. They will have been selected by Voldemort such that their very existence is a psychological attack on Harry. At the very least, there may just be a reanimated corpse of Dumbledore. At the extreme end, there may be a gallery of the meaningful dead. This may include anyone who was important, in life, to Harry or for whom Harry may feel a particular responsibility for their death.

Candidates include: as mentioned, Dumbledore, Cedric Diggory, any of his friends who will potentially die during the course of Deathly Hallows, perhaps even James and Lily, if their interred bodies are available for snatching. As for Dumbledore specifically, he would make the most “meaningful” Inferius to serve Voldemort, and his tomb at Hogwarts is probably not so secure that it could not be breached. The most powerful security charms at Hogwarts were placed there by Dumbledore himself, and are presumably gone with his demise. At the end of Half-Blood Prince, the impression was given that Hogwarts is not particularly anymore secure than anywhere else in the wizarding world. It may not even open for students the following year. Certainly Voldemort and the Death Eaters are up to a little grave robbery. Certainly, Voldemort has no problem creating Inferii, the underground lake in Half-Blood Prince, being filled with Inferii made from numerous men, women, and even children.

This is all obviously pure speculation, but it is rather suggestive that Inferi are introduced in the penultimate book of the series, a book which Jo has suggested forms “Part One” of a two-part story arc that culminates in Deathly Hallows. Why was there a need to introduce a new type of “ally” for Voldemort? Surely the various werewolves, giants, Dementors, and Death Eaters provide enough opposition? Is it really only coincidence that a considerable amount of text is devoted to establishing “reanimated corpses forced to do a Dark Wizard’s bidding” in the very book that culminates in the creation of the most prominent corpse of the series to date?