I've always had a slight suspicion that Dumbledore might be an animagus, but I doubt it though. If he were, I doubt that Fawkes would play such a prominent role.
As for Dumbledore, I’m going to play Devil's Advocate a little here.
I still believe the theories which I posted, but I can’t help but wonder if those same clues that I picked up on could actually be proof that Dumbledore isn’t coming back. Here’s why. These books are kids books. Yes, adults are equally in love with them too, but still, they’re kids books. And kids books share the common trait of teaching lessons. I wonder if, perhaps, Dumbledore’s death is such a lesson. In OotP, when Sirius died, the reader experienced it through Harry. We saw how Harry reacted; his disbelief, hope that it wasn’t real, gradual acceptance, coping with grief, etc. I wonder if that was “Death Lesson 1.” Now, with Dumbledore’s death, (Lesson 2) the reader experiences death for themselves. Where before we lamented for Harry and his pain, we now lament at our own sense of loss. And all of Rowling’s clever little clues, giving us hope that this isn’t real, may simply be a way of creating that feeling of disbelief in the reader, just as Harry felt it for Sirius. “No, he’s not dead! Look at this!”
So, I have to wonder if this is all Rowling’s way of teaching kids about death, and loss. With the funeral, the way her descriptions pulled you in so that you felt that you were there, experiencing it, feeling it; and now the long, slow path of acceptance, it definitely seems plausible. I hope that this isn’t true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is.
Oh, and Neph, you know I lurve you too babe!