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- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows spoilers follow : Dumbledore had been afflicted by a powerful curse cast on the Gaunt ring, one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, prior to the start of Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. Although Snape's knowledge of the Dark Arts enabled him to slow the spread of the curse, the curse would have ultimately killed Dumbledore within a year. Dumbledore, aware that Voldemort had ordered Draco to kill him, asked Snape to kill him instead as a way of sparing the boy's soul and of preventing his otherwise slow, painful death. Although Snape was reluctant, even asking about the impact of such an action on his own soul, Dumbledore implied that this kind of mercy killing, or killing "by request", would not damage a human's soul in the same way murder would. Snape simply agreed to do as the Headmaster requested. -- 01:12, September 5, 2009 (UTC)
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