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Albus Dumbledore: "If I tell to to leave me and save yourself, you will do as I tell you?"
Harry Potter: "I —"
Albus Dumbledore: "Harry?"
Harry Potter: "Yes, Sir."
Albus Dumbledore: "Very good. Then I wish you to go and fetch your Cloak and meet me in the Entrance Hall in five minutes’ time."
— Albus makes a request of Harry[src]

The second skirmish at the Horcrux cave took place in June 1997 after Albus Dumbledore tracked down what he believed to be one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes. This Horcrux was located in a seaside cave, that Tom Riddle had once visited as a boy while living in Wool's Orphanage. He took Harry Potter along with him to find the Horcrux. The cave possessed numerous protective charms and barriers, that were specifically designed to protect Voldemort's Horcrux at any cost.[1]


Background information

Tom Riddle's childhood

Albus Dumbledore: "What is it that you can do?"
Tom Riddle: "All sorts. I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want them to do, without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who annoy me. I can make them hurt if I want to."
— Tom Riddle tells of his use of magic[src]

Riddle as a young boy in Wool's Orphanage

As a child, Tom Riddle and some other children were taken by his orphanage to a place nearby the cave for an outing. He took two children, Dennis Bishop and Amy Benson to the cave and terrorised them to the point that the two children were unable to speak of what happened for a time after it happened. It is likely he magicked their way down to the cave scaring the other children in the process, as the children had no solid proof that they were not going to fall and get hurt. Mrs Cole, the Matron of the orphanage, stated that after the outing Dennis and Amy were never the same.[3]

Setting up the location for the Locket

Lord Voldemort would always remember the act that he had committed there and look on the location with pride. Sometime before or during the year of 1979, Voldemort decided to use to cave to guard one of his seven Horcruxes that he had created, this one being Salazar Slytherin's locket.  He magicked a large number of dead bodies into Inferi and led them into the cave and brew the potion as well as putting all his protective enchantments and possibly adjusting the cave.[4][1][5]

The crystal cave where the Horcrux was kept

When he had completed all his defences, he needed someone to test them on and chose a house elf. Voldemort asked one of his follower's (without telling them what he was going to do with them), Regulus Black to give up his house elf for the time being.  Regulus volenteered his beloved house elf, Kreacher and claimed that it would be an honour serving the Dark Lord. Regulus Black ordered Kreacher to come home when his job was done.[5]

Voldemort took Kreacher to the island and tested the potion on him.  Kreacher suffered the affects of the potion, mental torture, excruciating burning in the insides and dehydration as Voldemort expected. Voldemort now left Kreacher to die on the island or drown in the lake trying to obtain water to quench his thirst but Voldemort in his prejudice against house elves, put an anti-disapparation spell in the cave that didn't work on inhibiting house elf apparation. Kreacher then dissaparated back to his master Regulus.[5]

Regulus Black's attack on the cave

"...he order — Kreacher to leave — without him. And he told Kreacher — to go home — and never to tell my mistress — what he had done — but to destroy — the first locket. And he drank — all the potion — and Kreacher swapped the lockets — and watched... as Master Regulus... was dragged beneath the water... and...."
— Kreacher tells the trio about his time in the cave[src]

Regulus Black's letter to Voldemort

Regulus Black was highly angered to see Kreacher and him treated like that and decided to turn against Voldemort.  He then put two and two together through various hints made by Voldemort that the cave was used to protect a horcrux, which angered Regulus even more.  He didn't tell anyone, letting the secret die with him but planned an attack on the cave to obtain and destroy the Horcrux.  It appears that he believed that Voldemort only had one horcrux and thus believed that destroying this horcrux would render him mortal. Regulus wrote a note to Voldemort which he put in a duplicate locket (vaguely resembling the one which Voldemort had put into the basin which Kreacher had described).[5]

He ordered Kreacher to apparate him to the cave, help him drink the potion and then leave him to die on the island. Kreacher loved Regulus and was reluctant to do so but couldn't disobey a direct order from him.  Regulus went to the cave, drank the potion and was drowned by the inferi while Kreacher appirated with the locket. Kreacher was not made aware of how to destroy the Horcrux and tried in vane again and again to destroy it. Kreacher would keep the locket in Grimmauld Place, the Black family home until it was stolen by Mundungus Fletcher.[5]

Plot to murder Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore: "Draco, Draco, you are not a killer."
Draco Malfoy: "How do you know? You don’t know what I’m capable of, you don’t know what I’ve done!"
— Draco Malfoy trying to kill Dumbledore[src]

Over time Albus Dumbledore came to suspect Voldemort had created Horcruxes. In 1993, he received proof of his theory when Harry Potter described the way in which Tom Riddle's diary, which was subsequently turned over to him, acted and set off to find and destroy them all. When he found Marvolo Gaunt's ring in the Gaunt shack, he realised that one of the Deathly Hallows, the Resurrection Stone, was set in it, and temporarily forgot that the ring was a Horcrux.[6]

Dumbledore asking Snape to kill him, so Draco Malfoy does not have to

He placed it on his finger hoping to see his sister, father, and mother in order to ask forgiveness for the mistakes of his youth. His hand was cursed horribly, but thanks to his own prodigious skill and Severus Snape's good timing, the curse was stopped for the time being. Dumbledore knew that he would eventually die, and he and Snape set up a plan for Snape to kill Dumbledore. This would accomplish several ends: not harming the soul of Draco Malfoy, whom Dumbledore assumed (quite rightly) Voldemort was using to punish the Malfoy family by ordering Draco to kill him, and cancelling the powers of the Elder Wand. Severus Snape objected and in the end relented.[7]

Narcissa asks Snape for help at Spinner's End

Draco Malfoy's mother and aunt the latter being one of Voldemort's most trusted servants, however, went to see Snape in his home, not knowing that Severus Snape was a double agent to Dumbledore (and that he had been ordered by Dumbledore to kill him anyway). Narcissa, like Dumbledore and Snape suspected that Draco Malfoy was being ordered on this nearly impossible task as a punnishment to his family, and knew that Voldemort would punnish the Malfoy's should Draco fail. Bellatrix thought otherwise, saying that her sister should be honoured Draco was given such a task. Snape made Narcissa an Unbreakable Vow, promising that he would help Draco whenever needed and do everything in his power to keep him safe. If Draco should not succeed, Snape would fulfil the task himself.[8]

Katie being subjected to the curse on the opal necklace in Hogsmeade that was meant for Dumbledore

Draco attended Hogwarts as usual and began plotting against Dumbledore, not knowing that the latter was dying and actually knew of the attempt on his life.[2] He thought that if he could fix the Vanishing Cabinet in the Room of Requirement, he could bring Death Eaters into the school. It took him most of the year to do so, and at times he was worried that it would not work. As such, he put Madam Rosmerta under the Imperius Curse. He made her give Katie Bell a cursed Opal necklace, cursing Katie and not getting anywhere close to Dumbledore,[9][2] and poisoned mead, for Horace Slughorn to give Dumbledore for a Christmas present. This too did not reach Dumbledore, instead it was consumed by Ron Weasley who would have died if it was not for the quick work of his friend Harry Potter.[10] Dumbledore went about the whole year not taking action on Draco as he knew that he would be punished by Lord Voldemort should Voldemort find out.

Harry and Dumbledore's private lessons

Albus Dumbledore: "So, Harry. You have been wondering, I am sure, what I have planned for you during these — for want of a better word — lessons?"
Harry Potter: "Yes, sir."
Albus Dumbledore: "Well, I have decided that it is time, now that you know what prompted Lord Voldemort to try and kill you fifteen years ago, for you to be given certain information."
Harry Potter: "You said, at the end of last term, you were going to tell me everything. Sir."
Albus Dumbledore: "And so I did. I told you everything I know. From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork."
— Dumbledore introducing the nature of his private lessons to Harry[src]

A private lesson with Dumbledore, Harry about to view a memory in the Pensieve

Knowing that he had little time left, Dumbledore began giving Harry Potter private lessons in Harry's sixth year. The object of which was to teach him about Voldemort, his past, his Horcruxes, and his way of thinking, so that once Dumbledore inevitably died, Harry would be able to continue the hunt for Horcruxes and destroy them all. They began the first Saturday after the new term started at Hogwarts. In their first lesson, Harry and Dumbledore viewed Bob Ogden's memory by use of Dumbledore's Pensieve. From this memory, Harry learned of the family roots of Tom Riddle, the House of Gaunt on the magical side and Tom Riddle Snr on the Muggle side. He also learned of the final two heirlooms of the long impoverished Gaunt family, Salazar Slytherin's locket and Marvolo Gaunt's ring, the mental instability of Riddle's magical family, and Merope Gaunt's use of a Love Potion to ensnare Tom Riddle Snr.[11]

Tom Riddle's gang in a memory seen in the Pensieve

On a Monday a little over a month later, Harry and Dumbledore had their second lesson. This time they ventured into one of Dumbledore's own memories. While watching the boy, Tom Riddle, as he learned he was a wizard, they gleaned many pieces of information including, his thoughts of death as being a human weakness, his like for gathering trophies, his dislike of having a common name, his enjoyment of solitude and his preference for acting alone most likely stemming from being raised in an orphanage, and his measure of control and intent when using his magic. They discussed the end of Merope Gaunt's life in London and the pawning of the Locket.[3]

After the Christmas holidays, the lessons resumed. In their third lesson, Harry and Dumbledore witnessed Tom Riddle discover his heritage and blood status. After the brief memory, they speculated on what happened and came to the same conclusions. Tom Riddle stunned his uncle, stole his wand and used it to murder his muggle relations, the Riddle family. He then replaced the wand, implanted false memories in Morfin Gaunt, and stole Marvolo Gaunt's Ring from him. They also viewed the falsified memory of Horace Slughorn, and Harry was assigned to obtain the real one. Before he left, Harry and Dumbledore also talked about Riddle's "friends" which reinforced their idea that he was a loner.[12]

Horace Slughorn giving the memory that allowed Harry to defeat Lord Voldemort

By mid-March Harry had yet to obtain the real memory from Professor Slughorn, for which he was chided by Dumbledore at the outset of their fourth meeting.[13] In another odd memory, Harry and Dumbledore visited the home of Hepzibah Smith. There, they watched as Tom Riddle, the poor assistant from Borgin and Burkes, learned of the existence of Helga Hufflepuff's cup and Salazar Slytherin's locket. They discussed her mysterious death just days later, making the assumption that Riddle stole the two valuable items.[14]

They also watched another of Dumbledore's memories, in which Voldemort came to ask for the Defence Against the Dark Arts professorship.[14] They discussed the possibility that Voldemort wanted to search the castle. A few weeks later, Harry obtained the memory under the influence of Felix Felicis. Late that night, he and Dumbledore delve into the memory. They discover that Lord Voldemort planned on making seven Horcruxes and that he most likely made them with those priceless items he had stolen. They discussed how big a job remained for them, and Dumbledore promised Harry that he could accompany him if he were to find another.[6]

The skirmish

"The wandlight had slid over a fresh patch of water and showed Harry, this time, a dead man lying faceup inches beneath the surface, his open eyes misted as though with cobwebs..."
— Harry looks at an Inferius in the lake in the Crystal Cave waters[src]

One evening in June 1997, Harry Potter was summoned to Dumbledore's office as Dumbledore had found the location of a horcrux. Along the way, he ran into Sybill Trelawney who had just been unceremoniously thrown out of the Room of Requirement. From her, he learned that Draco Malfoy had completed his mission and that Severus Snape had been the Death Eater who eavesdropped upon Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy. In a huff, Harry questioned Dumbledore who did not wish to speak on the matter. When he was sent to retrieve his Cloak of Invisibility, Harry told Ron and Hermione everything, gave them the Marauder's Map and his Felix Felicis, and ordered them to watch the castle.[4]

Dumbledore gaining passage to the inner cave

Before they left, Dumbledore made Harry swear to obey any order given him, regardless of his feelings about said order. Setting off from Hogwarts in the evening, Dumbledore and Harry appeared to head for the Hog's Head. Instead, they Apparated to just outside a cave by the sea, being unable to enter directly due to its protective enchantments. In order to reach the cave, they had to swim through the swirling waters among the rocks. Once inside, Dumbledore attempted to locate the Horcrux's second line of defence. He spoke in a whispered tongue that Harry could not understand. He found a hidden doorway which only opened when it received an offering of blood. Dumbledore commented that he found this step barbaric and well below the standards he thought Lord Voldemort should have.[1]

Dumbledore after finding the magically concealed boat

They next found themselves in a chamber containing an underground lake, with a solitary island at its centre from which a faint green light was visible. After a failed attempt by Harry at Summoning the Horcrux, Dumbledore located a carefully concealed boat that would allow them safe passage across the lake. During the crossing, Harry learned another of the Horcrux's lines of defence; the lake was filled with Inferi, which would attack anyone who touched the lake's water. Dumbledore instructed Harry on the use of fire as the weapon of choice against the Inferi, should it become necessary, as Inferi feared both light and warmth.[1]

Albus Dumbledore: "I can only conclude that this potion is supposed to be drunk."
Harry Potter: "What? No!"
Albus Dumbledore: "Yes, I think so: Only by drinking it can I empty the basin and see what lies in its depths."
Harry Potter: "But what if — what if it kills you?"
Albus Dumbledore: "Oh, I doubt that it would work like that. Lord Voldemort would not want to kill the person who reached this island."
— Dumbledore and Harry discussing the Emerald Potion[src]

Dumbledore bent over the basin with the Horcrux Potion

Arriving at the small island, which was about the size of Dumbledore's office, they found a basin filled with glowing green potion. This last defence could not be touched, parted, or scooped out physically, neither could it be made to change magically; someone would have to drink it to obtain the Horcrux that lay within. Dumbledore ordered Harry to help him drink all of the potion, no matter what effects it caused, even if Harry had to force it down Dumbledore's throat. Harry was initially reluctant to cause his mentor such great pain, but when Dumbledore reminded him of his promise, he relented. Dumbledore drank and experienced intense stomach pains, dehydration and saw visions that mentally tortured him. Harry later thought that Dumbledore saw the duel between him, Aberforth and Grindelwald and Ariana's death, feeling extreme guilt. Harry managed to get the potion down Dumbledore's throat.[1]

When they finally finished the potion, Dumbledore fell unconcious but when revived by Harry, asked for water. Harry attempted to conjure water for Dumbledore with the Water-Making Spell, but this proved ineffective as the water disappeared before Dumbledore could drink it. This being another defence designed by Lord Voldemort. In desperation, Harry filled a cup with water from the lake.[1]

"It was the best he could do, for the icy feeling on his arm not holding the cup was not the lingering chill of the water. A slimy white hand had gripped his wrist, and the creature to whom it belonged was pulling him, slowly, backward across the rock. The surface of the lake was no longer mirror-smooth; it was churning, and everywhere Harry looked, white heads and hands were emerging from the dark water, men and women and children with sunken, sightless eyes were moving toward the rock: an army of the dead rising from the black water."
— The Inferi army rising from the waters to attack Harry[src]

Dumbledore warding off the Inferi

As he splashed it on Dumbledore's face, Harry felt something ice cold on his arm and saw a disgusting hand and the Inferi climbing up from the lake. Harry panicked and attempted to fight back with a multitude of spells and curses, including the Impediment Jinx, Full Body-Bind Curse, the Incarcerous Spell and Sectumsempra, but none of them worked since the Inferi were too numerous and could not feel pain. He was overwhelmed and dragged under. Dumbledore, having regained consciousness, created a ring of fire around them that repelled the Inferi. He pocketed the Locket and drove the Inferi back into the lake while he and Harry escaped in the boat.[1]

Dumbledore and Harry leaving the Cave

Noticing that the fire was costing Dumbledore all his strength, Harry supported him once back ashore. When they reached the right place, Harry used a small cut on his arm to reopen the hidden doorway. As they proceeded, he was increasingly worried about Dumbledore's weakened state as he helped Dumbledore back to the rocks outside the cave, and he sought to reassure his headmaster. Once among the rocks, Harry Disapparated them back to Hogsmeade.[1]

Return to Hogwarts

Albus Dumbledore: "Severus... please...."
Severus Snape: "Avada Kedavra!"
— Dumbledore asking Snape to kill him, his last words.[src]

The Dark Mark over Hogwarts

Once back in Hogsmeade village, Madam Rosmerta alerted Dumbledore that the Dark Mark was hovering over Hogwarts. This seemed to invigorate Dumbledore. She lent Dumbledore and Harry two broomsticks, and they flew back to Hogwarts, Dumbledore lifting the protective enchantments cast over Hogwarts so that they could enter at speed. While they were flying, Harry could not help but worry for his friends that he had asked to watch the castle. He worried if it was his fault that someone had died again. When they arrived atop the Astronomy Tower, no one was there. Dumbledore needed help quickly, and Harry wanted to go get Poppy Pomfrey, but Dumbledore asked specifically for Severus Snape.[2]

Battle of the Astronomy Tower

"I've got to do it! He'll kill me! He'll kill my whole family!"
— Draco Malfoy attempts to kill Albus Dumbledore.[src]

The mark was there, because, Draco had finally fixed the Vanishing Cabinet and introduced Death Eaters into the school. However, the Death Eaters met resistance in the form of members of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army and fighting broke out. The Dark Mark was not placed above the Astronomy Tower, because they had killed someone; it was a trick to lure Dumbledore back to the school faster. However, Death Eater Gibbon was killed accidentally by Thorfinn Rowle and Bill Weasley was also brutally attacked in the fighting by Werewolf Fenrir Greyback, even though it was a not full moon. As such, Bill would not ever be a full werewolf, but would have some wolfish tendencies such as a taste for raw meat.[2][15]

Snape casting the curse that ended Dumbledore's life

When they heard footsteps, Dumbledore ordered Harry, who was wearing his Invisibility Cloak, away from the door and put a Full Body-Bind Curse on him when the attacker burst through the door. Draco disarmed Dumbledore, but did nothing else but talk as the time ticked by. While standing atop the tower, they discussed how Draco had almost killed two other innocent students over the school year and that Draco was not a killer. Other Death Eaters soon joined Draco atop the tower, but nobody did anything, as it was Voldemort's order for only Draco to kill Dumbledore. Snape soon joined them, and killed Dumbledore with the Killing Curse after the latter begged him to end it.[2]

Snape duels Harry

Freed from the Body-Bind, Harry pursued Snape through the chaos of battle. He finally caught up with him around Hagrid's hut. He repeatedly cast spells at Snape, but they were all deflected by the more powerful wizard. When Harry attempted to use Sectumsempra, Snape revealed that he was the Half-Blood Prince, jinxed Harry so that he could not respond, and escaped with Draco via Apparition beyond the Hogwarts gates.[2]


Walking back from Hagrid's Harry tried to tell him what had happened, but Hagrid refused to believe him. When they reached the spot where Dumbledore's body lay, Harry broke down next to it and refused to move until Ginny Weasley lead him away. While he was there, Harry noticed that the locket they had obtained from the cave was not Salazar Slytherin's. The "Horcrux" was a fake. Finding a cryptic note inside from an "R.A.B.", Harry kept the locket, not because it was valuable, but because of what it had cost to obtain it.[2]

Albus Dumbledore's funeral

Dumbledore was laid to rest on the grounds of Hogwarts School. The ceremony was attended by numerous witches and wizards including many from the Ministry of Magic that had not particularly cared for Dumbledore such as Dolores Umbridge. During the ceremony, many tributes were paid to the great wizard and he was encased in a White Tomb. Afterward, Harry made plans to eliminate the remaining Horcruxes, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger vowed to accompany him.[16]



Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 (The Cave)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 27 (The Lightning-Struck Tower)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 (The Seer Overheard)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 10 (Kreacher's Tale)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 2 (Spinner's End)
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 12 (Silver and Opals)
  10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18 (Birthday Surprises)
  11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  12. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 22 (After the Burial)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
  15. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 28 (Flight of the Prince)
  16. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)