The Prince’s Tale

chapter thirty-three of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The trio makes their way into the castle, seeing that Lupin and Tonks are dead – then, alone, Harry heads for the headmaster’s office, where he dumps Snape’s memories into the Pensieve and dives in. There he discovers that Snape had a life-long love for Harry’s mother, Lily; that Dumbledore’s death was planned in advance; and most critically, that a piece of Voldemort’s soul resides in Harry’s scar, and Harry must be killed by Voldemort in order for Voldemort to be defeated.
 

After the Battle, by VivalaVida

The castle was unnaturally silent.


 

by Emily Benson

Mrs. Weasley was lying across Fred’s chest, her body shaking, Mr. Weasley stroking her hair while tears cascaded down his cheeks.


 

Pointless Death, by Sayurikemiko

As Ginny and Hermione moved closer to the rest of the family, Harry had a clear view of the bodies lying next to Fred: Remus and Tonks, pale and still and peaceful-looking, apparently asleep beneath the dark, enchanted ceiling.


 

Harry Potter, by Patilda

The stone Pensieve lay in the cabinet where it had always been: Harry heaved it onto the desk and poured Snape’s memories into the wide basin with its runic markings around the edge. To escape into someone else’ s head would be a blessed relief…. Nothing that even Snape had left him could be worse than his own thoughts.

(by Patilda)


 

The Prince's Tale 1, by gerre

When [Harry] straightened up, he saw that he was in a nearly deserted playground. A single huge chimney dominated the distant skyline. Two girls were swinging backward and forward, and a skinny boy was watching them from behind a clump of bushes.

(by gerre)


 

Spying on Lily, by anguinea

“Lily, don’t do it!” shrieked the elder of the two. But the girl had let go of the swing at the very height of its arc and flown into the air… like a trapeze artist, staying up far too long, landing far too lightly.


 

Little Sev Snape, by rose colligan

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Snape could no longer contain himself, but had jumped out from behind the bushes… “You’re… you’re a witch,” [he] whispered.


 

Look What I Can Do, by Abigail Larson

Petunia’s laugh was like cold water. “Wizard!” she shrieked…. “I know who you are. You’re that Snape boy!… Why have you been spying on us?”


 

A Little Smile, by Vizen

Lily… leaned in toward the boy, and said, “It is real, isn’t it?…
“It’s real for us,” said Snape. “Not for her. But we’ll get the letter, you and me.”

(by Vizen)


 

By the River, by somelatevisitor

“Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?”
Snape hesitated. His black eyes, eager in the greenish gloom, moved over the pale face, the dark red hair. “No,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference.”


 

Severus? by prettyannamoon

“You’ve got loads of magic,” said Snape. “I saw that. All the time I was watching you…” His voice trailed away; she was not listening, but had stretched out on the leafy ground and was looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead. He watched her as greedily as he had watched her in the playground.


 

Sunlight, by pojypojy

“Severus?”
A little smile twisted Snape’s mouth when she said his name. “Yeah?”


 

The Prince's Tale 3, by gerre

Harry looked around: He was on platform nine and three-quarters, and Snape stood beside him, slightly hunched, next to a thin, sallow-faced, sour-looking woman who greatly resembled him. Snape was staring at a family of four a short distance away.

(by gerre)


 

We're Off to Hogwarts, by somelatevisitor

“But we’re going!” he said, unable to suppress the exhilaration in his voice. “This is it! We’re off to Hogwarts!”


 

Part of the Prince's Tale, by Cambryn

“Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?” James asked the boy lounging on the seats opposite him, and with a jolt, Harry realized that it was Sirius.

(by Cambryn)


 

The Prince's Tale 5, by gerre

Harry… watched his mother walk forward on trembling legs and sit down upon the rickety stool. Professor McGonagall dropped the Sorting Hat onto her head, and barely a second after it had touched the dark red hair, the hat cried, “Gryffindor!” Harry heard Snape let out a tiny groan.

(by gerre)


 

Welcome to Slytherin, by Vizen

And Severus Snape moved off to the other side of the Hall, away from Lily, to where the Slytherins were cheering him, to where Lucius Malfoy, a prefect badge gleaming upon his chest, patted Snape on the back as he sat down beside him….

(by Vizen)


 

Hogwarts Years, by somelatevisitor

“I’m just trying to show you they’re not as wonderful as everyone seems to think they are.” The intensity of his gaze made her blush.


 

Young Severus, by LMRourke

Harry doubted that Snape had even heard her strictures on Mulciber and Avery. The moment she had insulted James Potter, his whole body had relaxed, and as they walked away there was a new spring in Snape’s step….


 

Snape's Worst Memory, by MioneBookworm

But Harry kept his distance this time, because he knew what happened after James had hoisted Severus into the air and taunted him; he knew what had been done and said, and it gave him no pleasure to hear it again…. He watched as Lily joined the group and went to Snape’s defense….


 

The Prince's Tale 7, by gerre

Distantly he heard Snape shout at her in his humiliation and his fury, the unforgivable word: “Mudblood.”

(by gerre)


 

I'm Sorry, by Vizen

“I’m sorry!”

(by Vizen)


 

I'm Sorry, by Sarapsys

“I never meant to call you Mudblood, it just -“
“Slipped out?” There was no pity in Lily’s voice. “It’s too late. I’ve made excuses for you for years…. You call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?”


 

The Fall Out, by Patilda

“I can’t pretend anymore. You’ve chosen your way, I’ve chosen mine.”

(by Patilda)


 

The Prince's Tale, by Hannah-Dora

Then a blinding, jagged jet of white light flew through the air: Harry thought of lightning, but Snape had dropped to his knees and his wand had flown out of his hand.
“Don’t kill me!”


 

What Request Could a Death Eater Make of Me? by somelatevisitor

“You disgust me,” said Dumbledore, and Harry had never heard so much contempt in his voice. Snape seemed to shrink a little. “You do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?”


 

Anything, by Sayurikemiko

“And what will you give me in return, Severus?”
“In – in return?” Snape gaped at Dumbledore, and Harry expected him to protest, but after a long moment he said, “Anything.”


 

The Prince's Tale 10, by gerre

Snape… looked like a man who had lived a hundred years of misery since leaving the wild hilltop.
“I thought… you were going… to keep her… safe….”

(by gerre)


 

Remorse, by anguinea

“If you loved Lily Evans, if you truly loved her, then your way forward is clear… You know how and why she died. Make sure it was not in vain. Help me protect Lily’s son.”


 

The Prince's Tale 11

“You see what you expect to see, Severus,” said Dumbledore, without raising his eyes from a copy of Transfiguration Today. “Other teachers report that the boy is modest, likable, and reasonably talented. Personally, I find him an engaging child.”

(by gerre)


 

Snape and Dumbledore, by pojypojy

“And are you tempted to join him?”
“No,” said Snape…. “I am not such a coward.”
“No,” agreed Dumbledore. “You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon….”


 

And My Soul, Dumbledore? by Vizen

Harry seemed to be watching the two men from one end of a long tunnel, they were so far away from him, their voices echoing strangely in his ears. “So the boy… the boy must die?” asked Snape quite calmly.

(by Vizen)


 

Always, by Cambryn

“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”
“For
him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!”

(by cambryn)


 

Snape and his Patronus, by Heather Campbell

Dumbledore… turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. “After all this time?”


 

Snape's Misery, by Jeni Malament

“Always.”


 

The Prince's Tale 16, by gerre

“You will have to give Voldemort the correct date of Harry’s departure from his aunt and uncle’s,” said Dumbledore. “Not to do so will raise suspicion, when Voldemort believes you so well informed.”

(by gerre)


 

The Prince's Tale 17, by gerre

“You will suggest to the Order of the Phoenix,” Snape murmured, “that they use decoys. Polyjuice Potion. Identical Potters. It is the only thing that might work. You will forget that I have suggested this. You will present it as your own idea. You understand?”
“I understand,” murmured Mundungus, his eyes unfocused….

(by gerre)


 

Snape and the Letter, by Katie Hillman

And next, Snape was kneeling in Sirius’s old bedroom.


 

Love, Lily by pojypojy

Tears were dripping from the end of his hooked nose as he read the old letter from Lily.


 

The Letter, by Sayurikemiko

Snape took the page bearing Lily’s signature, and her love, and tucked it inside his robes.


 

The Prince's Tale 20, by gerre

“And you still aren’t going to tell me why it’s so important to give Potter the sword?” said Snape as he swung a traveling cloak over his robes.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Dumbledore’s portrait. “He will know what to do with it. And Severus, be very careful, they may not take kindly to your appearance….”
Snape turned at the door. “Don’t worry, Dumbledore,” he said coolly. “I have a plan.”

(by gerre)


 

about the chapter

 

Prior to the release of Deathly Hallows, a major international bookseller pre-sold copies of the book, and asked each customer to choose a sticker: “trust Snape” or, alternately, “Snape is a very bad man.” No other topic elicited as much conversation among fans, and everyone had a pet theory. With this chapter, however, it became clear that Snape’s story was just never that simple. It is, above all else, a tragedy: Lily Evans has been dead for sixteen years, yet Snape’s unrequited love for her remains his most powerful driving force. Meanwhile her son seems to look and act exactly like Snape’s lifelong nemesis. In some ways Severus stopped growing the day James and Lily were killed; his love and his hates have remained virtually unchanged, and have forced an incredibly complex relationship between Snape and Harry (as Harry is the subject of both extremes). Yet in other ways, Snape has grown immeasurably, deliberately placing himself at the center of the resistance against Voldemort despite being vehemently despised by those he is fighting for, and despite his original reasons for fighting long since having faded away.
 

We will never fully know Severus Snape. But we now understand how he could loathe Harry yet want to protect him; how constant references to his looking into Harry’s eyes were about far more than petty mind-reading of a despised adolescent; how it really did make sense for Dumbledore to trust the man all along. And we can understand why Snape treats Harry the way he does, for when Harry sneaks into Hogsmeade, or frees Sirius Black, or refuses to learn Occlumency, or openly despises the man who is secretly protecting him, Harry is not only acting like James but failing to act like Lily. Of course Snape could never get past that. Yet in the end he was brave enough and noble enough to do the right thing all the same, despite constant outward expressions of disdain in Harry’s direction. He cares deeply about Harry Potter – but he hates himself for doing it. His is quite a story, and not one that those who hear it will soon forget.
 

Some Things You May Not Have Noticed

The revelations of Snape’s memories of course force a second look at virtually every one of his actions that we’ve ever read about. Here are some of the more interesting moments:

  • During Harry’s first few years at Hogwarts, Snape seems to be demanding his expulsion every time he turns around. If he’s trying to protect Harry, why would he want him kicked out of Hogwarts? There are lots of possible explanations, but my favorite is this: Snape knows Dumbledore isn’t going to expel Harry. Suspending him, on the other hand, might just be on the table. And if Harry is suspended for causing trouble – in other words, for acting like James – Snape gets two benefits from it: first, he gets vicarious revenge on all of James’s exploits (that he was clearly jealous of), punishing his son for the same types of things; and second, if the punishments successfully deter Harry from misbehavior, then he’ll be acting less like James in general – and, in Snape’s mind, probably acting more like Lily. This also would explain why Snape makes Harry sort through all of Filch’s records of his father’s misbehavior; he’s giving Harry constant, jarring reminders of the ways in which he’s not like his father, not to mention all of the consequences James faced as a result of being such a jerk. And of coures it perfectly summarizes why Snape always wants to ban Harry from Quidditch – after all, in what way is Harry more like his father (through Snape’s eyes) than when he’s acting as a Quidditch hero?
     
  • Meanwhile, one of the things most infuriating Snape is that while he tries to shelter and protect Harry, Dumbledore seems to be doing the precise opposite, letting the boy get away with everything Why would that be? The clue lies in this interchange:

    “We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength,” said Dumbledore….
     
    [Snape] stood up. “You have used me…. I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter.”

    In other words, Snape wants Dumbledore to protect Harry; Dumbledore instead wants to prepare him. It makes sense, then, that when Harry sneaks into Hogsmeade, or cavorts with Sirius Black, or seems to enter the Triwizard Tournament – and Dumbledore lets it slide – Snape would be furious.
     

  • Occlumency lessons must also have been an interesting time for Severus. He desperately wanted to help Harry; yet he could only give him so much, lest Voldemort read Harry’s mind and see what Snape is up to. Meanwhile, the lessons bring out the worst in Harry, who essentially never tries to succeed and never practices on his own (how like James of him!). And then there’s the fact that eye contact is critical for Legilimency – so the entire time Snape is teaching Harry, he’s having to stare into Lily’s eyes as well. It’s a beautiful metaphor for his entire situation around Harry: trying to protect the boy, without letting Voldemort find out, and all the while overlooking his obnoxious, James-like attributes and having to deal with constant searing reminders of Lily. I bet Harry wasn’t the only one lying awake at night that winter.
     
  • A year later, when Snape flees Hogwarts after killing Dumbledore at the end of Half-Blood Prince, we can see now that his escape is written incredibly eloquently – at first glance it seems Snape is mocking and deriding Harry as he runs from him, yet now we can read between the lines and realize that Snape is not mocking Harry, but taking his final opportunity to teach him. “No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter!” (we’ll see later that Snape is actually above Harry in this respect); or even better, “Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed!” Meanwhile he stops the Carrows from harming Harry as well. It’s impressive how effectively Snape pulls off the double act, and all the more so when you consider the fact that he’s been doing it for years.
     
  • Then by Harry’s seventh year, Snape is headmaster of Hogwarts, and walking an even narrower tightrope. He’s sworn to Dumbledore that he will protect the students, yet he can’t arouse any suspicions from Voldemort or the Carrows regarding his loyalties. And yet despite his oath, we see him desert his post. Why? Think about what’s going through his mind as he duels McGonagall. Snape knows Harry is in the castle (he felt his Dark Mark burn, plus what else would incite McGonagall to attack him?); and as it’s clear that McGonagall and the other heads of houses are taking charge, it’s safe to assume the Carrows have been neutralized. In other words: the students are being cared for. Yet Snape can’t yet reveal his true loyalties; he doesn’t know how the night will end, and the time it would take to make anyone believe him would be valuable time lost in caring for the students. His only choice, then? To abandon his post. And start thinking about how, and whether, to contact Harry.
     
  • Which, of course, is complicated in and of itself. Snape probably just lies low until he’s called by Voldemort, but once he enters the Shrieking Shack, Snape sees Nagini in her enchanted bubble, and realizes he’s got to get in touch with Harry. But suppose for a moment that Harry wasn’t watching, and that Voldemort did give Snape an opportunity to re-enter the battle. How would Snape have delivered this message to Harry? Surely this is something he’s been planning ever since the night he killed Dumbledore, but what could that plan have been? Take him to the headmaster’s office and talk to Dumbledore’s portrait? Disarm him and force him to listen to an explanation? There’s a much simpler possibility, actually. Cast a patronus. And blow Harry Potter’s mind. In a way it’s too bad we never got to see the two of them share this moment, but then, this ending is probably much more befitting of the relationship the two of them have always shared.
     

The Final Word

(Question: “Lily detested Mulciber and Avery. If Snape really loved her, why didn’t he sacrifice their company for her sake?”)
Rowling: “Well, that is Snape’s tragedy. Given his time over again he would not have become a Death Eater, but like many insecure, vulnerable people (like Wormtail) he craved membership of something big and powerful, something impressive. He wanted Lily and he wanted Mulciber too. He never really understood Lily’s aversion; he was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater.”
 
(“Do you think Snape is a hero?”)
“Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero, perhaps. He is not a particularly likeable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity — and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love and, ultimately, laid down his life because of it. That’s pretty heroic!”
 
“The week after I finished the book… I went onto a fan site because I was looking for questions to put up on my Web site, which is sometimes difficult. And I was so heartened to see that people on the message boards that people were still arguing about Snape. The book was out, and they were still arguing whether Snape was a good guy. But that was really wonderful to me, because there’s a question there, was Snape a good guy or not? In many ways he really wasn’t. So I haven’t been deliberately misleading everyone all this time, when I say that he’s a good guy. Because even though he did love and he loved very deeply and he was very brave, both qualities that I admire above anything else. He was bitter and he was vindictive… but right at the very very end, he did… acheive a kind of peace.”
–J.K. Rowling, July 2007 & October 2007
 


97 Responses to “The Prince’s Tale”

  1. The new banner art is beautiful. I loved the artwork in this post so much. I’ve already looked through it 3 times. :)
    I really wish we could have seen Harry and Snape interact when Snape is telling him Everything. I think it would have been a very interesting conversation, to say the least. But I also think there is a very Dumbledore-like influence on how Harry finds everything out. The Pensive approach was perfect.

  2. This is amazing. I think that Snape is possibly the most complicated, and therefore fascinating, characters in the book. Ms. Rowling’s finesse in handling such a complicated person and story astounds me. Wonderful job, Josie, I can’t wait for more!

  3. Snape’s story is so sad. It brings to mind a question.
    What if Voldemort had murdered Snape in the shrieking shack, but Harry was too late to get the memories.
    Seems like a very shaky plan if you ask me.

  4. The art which goes with this chapter is amazing. Like Christa – I have looked at it a number of times – and probably will look again. Snape is a hard man to categorise – is he nice or is he nasty – I think he’s certainly a bit of both mixed up in a very complicated man. But he certainly loved Lily deeply – enough to die for her son! I am just finishing OoP for the umpteenth time, and so only one book to go and then onto DH again – I look forward to that one each time – but then there’s no more – so I have to start all over again. JK certainly know how to write an enthralling story.

  5. What a huge collection of art, and all of it so gorgeous! Snape is so pitiable… and yet so uniformly horrible in his refusal to love anyone except Lily.

    Laura, I’m sure Snape had a Plan B in the event of his death before he could tell the plan to Harry. We just don’t know what that was. The one thing Snape hadn’t counted on was that he might die in the thick of the battle, and therefore Plan B might be activated too late to be workable.

  6. This chapter is the ultimate turning point. I savored the art as I looked through it. So many beautiful images and so many important moments. Anguinea’s images are so great, especially of Lilly “staying up far too long, landing far too lightly”. LMRourke’s picture of a younger Snape is impressively realistic, and… there are too many to mention, they’re all fantastic. This one must have been a lot of work to assemble. It’s wonderful.

    It’s funny, the moments that stick in your head and you remember as important. Many of mine are up there: the Weasleys around Fred, Snape in his horrible frock, Petunia and Lilly, Dumbledore and Snape on the mountaintop, the silver doe. But some aren’t, perhaps because they aren’t particularly visually promising… for instance:
    Harry’s turning moment of despair and grief at those whose deaths he might have prevented: “The Great Hall seemed to fly away, become smaller, shrink, as Harry reeled backwards from the doorway. He could not draw breath. He could not bear to look at any of the other bodies, to see who else had died for him…”

    The other moment that sticks in my mind is the final seconds of the chapter, when Harry gets out of the pensieve and simply lies (or collapses) on the floor of that same room where “Snape might just have closed the door.” That is so quiet and so resonant for some reason. But it wouldn’t make a very dramatic image, would it? Still, I hope someone has drawn Harry lying on the carpet for the beginning of the next chapter. :)

    I remember when I read this chapter for the first time; I had had to fly down from Ottawa to Boston to go to a youth conference only a day or so after the book came out, leaving my book half read at home (I was sharing it with my sisters). I’d had to leave at the low point after Harry’s wand is broken (suffering bookless hours on the flight, believing that Harry was surely doomed without the phoenix-feather wand…). In the end, I read the rest of the book by borrowing other peoples’ American copies (luckily they abounded at the conference! In fact, the whole con was obsessed and “no Harry Potter spoilers” was one of our week-long rules. A live version of Potter Puppet Pals was performed one night, too). Anyway, I vividly remember reading this chapter, from someone else’s American version, in the middle of the night far from home, and literally gasping aloud when Dumbledore asked Snape “How long do you think I have [to live]?”

    And then, to find out that Harry is a horcrux…

  7. Great post. Loved the artwork, as usual. :)

    Some of the things you pointed out really made me hit myself. Of course Snape always looked into Harry’s eyes to see Lily and not to read his mind! I swear, I am so dumb sometimes, haha. I love seeing the different perspectives though. Obviously, it opens my own eyes a little bit more.

  8. Josie, your point about Snape’s and Dumbledore’s different goals –to protect vs. to prepare– are very insightful and interesting. It’s because of that difference in motivation that we get the strange situation of Snape defending Harry to Dumbledore, saying that ~ “he has been raised like a pig for the slaughter.” When Snape says that, he’s practically voicing Harry’s (and the reader’s) own protest at that point. I wonder when that conversation happened, and how long Snape had to teach and interact with Harry knowing a piece of the Dark Lord’s soul was inside Harry and the he’d have to die? How horrible…

    I’m not sure I agree about Snape caring about Harry but hating himself for it. I think he cared about Harry’s LIFE, and hated having to do so, and acted out his resentment at having to do so by treating Harry terribly. But caring that someone lives isn’t the same as caring about them as a person, is it…? In one way it ‘s more profound, especially actively protecting that life, but in another it’s more basic, less meaningful.

    And I do think, as you suggest, that in presenting it the way she did JK Rowling missed a chance to have some very, very interesting interactions between Snape and Harry. Would Harry have tried to kill Snape, but been stopped in his tracks by the silver doe? Being told he was a horcrux and had to die would have been very hard to bear coming from a man he despised and who despised him. And Snape would have found it very difficult to admit he loved Harry’s mother. He might have been very mean about it simply from his own sense of humiliation at having to admit his deepest feelings; maybe he wouldn’t have admitted them, and yet how else could he have convinced Harry he was telling the truth? Maybe he would have simply given Harry the memories anyway.
    And just imagine if Snape had somehow survived his wounds from Nagini, and the battle after. How would he and Harry have interacted later, Harry having seen his memories? I can’t help but think Snape would be crueler to Harry than ever, out of humiliation, but Harry would have been a lot more understanding, and better able to bear Snape’s bullying… and maybe out of Harry’s understanding, their relationship might have shifted very slightly, maybe some hope for Snape to get out of his emotional stagnation.
    Or maybe Snape would have simply refused to see Harry ever again. Or maybe the fact that Harry did give himself up to die for them all would have redeemed him slightly in Snape’s eyes. I’m sure Snape would be very glad when Harry eventually survives. Who knows….

    I also wonder whether Snape had control over what memories he gave Harry there at the end. To be sure he was thinking of Lilly in those moments, but maybe he did consciously decide he wanted Harry to know the truth about Snape himself. Maybe he was tired of hiding.

  9. hazelwillow: your “tired of hiding” thing makes sense to me. He was, after all, about to die – what point would there have been any more in hiding? Also, this raises another point I thought of -Snape includes the memory of James Levicorpusing him in front of Lily in this collection, whereas two years earlier he hid it from Harry and was furious at Harry having seen it. Perhaps this is another indication of how much he has in his dying moments overcome his bitterness: that which once he wanted desperately for Harry never to see, he is now giving him a refresher course in.

  10. It would have been interesting to see an alternative version where Snape confronted Harry. Even with the patronus I doubt Harry would have believed him at least not for a while. Can you imagine how awkward that conversation would be? “Harry I was completely and utterly in love with your mother but she hated the fact I was up to my neck in the dark arts so she went off with the guy I hated. That’s why I’ve tried to save you but been so horrible to you at the same time. Now Dumbledore told me to pass on a message. You have to go and get yourself killed. Good luck with that.” Ok, perhaps not like that but I feel what we did get was perfect for their relationship and the feel of the story. It would have taken too long for Snape to convince Harry whereas his memories did it instantly. If Harry just had Snape’s word then he probably would have thought it was some sort of trick. The guy who murdered Dumbledore, was Voldemort’s right hand man, is telling him he has to die. Surely he would think it was a trick.

    There has been a lot of focus on Snape, I know the chapter is basically about him, but what about Harry? We have just found out he has to die. The hero we have been following for 7 books and over ten years is going to have to walk to his death! This can’t be right. She can’t kill him off! My mind was going haywire at this point. I would give anything to be able to read it afresh. To get all that uncertainty and fear back. It really was fear. I had grown up at the same time as Harry. He was an important part of my childhood and here he is, about to die.

  11. good point about hiding the Levicorpus-memory, rtozier. I personally believe that Grace has a point in that Snape had to have had a back-up plan for giving Harry the memories, but at the same time, I doubt Harry could have believed Snape in any other way, without Snape dying. The whole DH-book, Harry’s thoughts are filled with hatred for the man who killed Dumbledore, and if he wouldn’t have seen the memories with his own eyes, he would have never believed Dumbledore planned it all, his own death, and Harry’s, especially not when it came from Snape’s mouth. I remember after reading this chapter that I felt so much regret for hating Snape throughout this series, while all the time, feeling so much anger towards Dumbledore. The way he has treated and played with both Snape and Harry made me shudder with rage…
    After reading this book several times I now understand that there was no other way, but still… you have to be pretty cold-blooded to plan all this…

  12. SPOILER ALERTTTTT
    i always found that dumbledore did explain to snape that harry wasn’t actually going to die, but he told snape to make harry think that he had to in order for it to work. so snape didnt give him that part of the memory.
    thats just what i gathered from King’s Cross

  13. Dumbledore’s reaction to Snape’s Patronus is curious: knowing that the Order used Patronus to pass messages between members, didn’t Dumbledore had ever seen Snape’s Patronus before?

  14. Jose Lopes: I believe that what Dumbledore was expressing surprise at was that this was still Snape’s Patronus: “After all this time?” Perhaps he hadn’t seen it in a while; after all, the first war was a long time ago, and the only time Snape is known to have sent the Order a message (end of OotP) Dumbledore was on the run at the time, so maybe didn’t receive it directly. EB: if that’s true, it seems to contradict with Snape being able to get as far as “You have been raising him like a pig for slaughter” and beyond without Dumbledore telling him the whole truth, which raises the question: was that memory staged between Snape and Dumbledore after the fact, for Harry’s benefit? I can imagine Snape being nervous and glancing around the room and Dumbledore saying something to the magical effect of “Stop looking at the camera!”

  15. Probably my favorite chapter in the books. Great art. I particularly like Rose Colligan’s piece of Snape before he’s so twisted and shattered. I agree Jo’s portrayal of him as a child (mostly unloved and stuck between feuding parents) and youth (as he tries to find an identity — and chooses the wrong one) is realistic and moving.

  16. really interesting takes on this chapter.
    but i have to seriously disagree with that harry-like james/vs, harry like lily.

    in two different ways:
    1. if harry was saving sirius, refusing to learn oclumency,etc is like james- you’re making it seem like a bad thing- which those things like wanting to save sirius was not bad, and it sounds like something lily would do as well.
    not to mention Rowling herself has said that Harry had his emotions too close to the surface, and that’s how he was as a person. as opposed to Snape who could block his emotions (showing his love for lily) or Malfoy,
    voldemort obviously was an expert on it.
    so unless harry had managed to block his emotions entirely, he would have never learned oclumency properly. the only time he did was out of grief for dobby because voldemort hated positive emotions.
    not to mention Snape Was a horrible oclumency teacher- struggle of double agent or not.

    2. by implying harry acting like james (sneaking around, wanting to save sirius,etc)= james is a bad person- someone not to be like
    that’s generalizing him
    yes, james was not a saint in that he was bullying snape and was cocky. those were his not-admirable-not to take after traits. but harry was not either of those things. if he had bullied others then yes, he was like the bad side of james
    but he didn’t.

  17. Beautiful artwork for an amazing chapter. Thanks, Josie.

  18. I second Billie. Magnificent art; my favourite has to be pojypojy’s picture.

    The artwork has really made me realise the impact of Snape in this chapter. I am a visual person and the pictures have helped me realise the impact the chapter was meant to have.

    Good work, Josie Kearns.

  19. The pictures are just amazing! I was in tears by the time the pictures over ‘Always’ reached my view. Beautiful artwork!!!!!!!!!:)

    Everything written about this chapter by Kearns is incredible. I love the idea of Snape being a complicated character. As for him having flaws, i actually found him to be a pretty innocent person. I suppose i just held hope for him, a little like how someone might in reality. His love for Lily, though, seems infinite. It’s really beautifully written. I really wouldn’t try and join in over whether or not he’s innocent…it was just my perspective when i was reading the book. I love Snape’s character and i’m glad that my ‘naive’ thoughts of him being a good person (incapable of ‘killing’ Dumbledore) were something that i held on to even when my dearest critic tried to show me differently. Amazing chapter!

  20. Alex- I agree that it’s often implied that James was somehow a “bad person” aside from being an immature teenager. I found it a bit disappointing that we never really got to know a more positive side of him. Although from the viewpoint of someone a few days away from graduating high school, if he managed to grow up by the time he finished school, then he was far ahead of quite a few people I know.
    The thing that mostly strikes me about this chapter (although I might be alone in this) is the exchange between James, Sirius, Snape, and Lily on the train…I don’t recall eleven-year-olds being quite that witty!

  21. I think my favorite piece of artwork in this chapter is the first one, of the broken and damaged Hogwarts. That’s just so sad!

    Honestly, I was just so confused as to what to think after this chapter. I thought Snape was evil…but now it turns out he’s on the right side, but is still a despicable person. Reinforced by Dumbledore’s point that he’s willing for James and Harry to die, as long as Lily is okay. Meanwhile Dumbledore, the paragon of all that is good and pure, is suddenly a Machiavellian figure who “raised Harry up for slaughter.” I’m amazed that in one chapter my image of Dumbledore can just crumble around me. But his treatment of both Harry and Snape is unforgivable.

  22. I remember George Lucas once saying something along the lines of “Star Wars could have been named The Tragedy of Anakin Skywaker”. Well it seems to me that Harry Potter could have been named “The Tragedy of Severus Snape”. It’s curious… the 4 main like *powerful* characters in the series are Harry, Dumbledore, Snape and Voldemort. Voldemort is pure evil, he has no redeeming qualities. And Harry is effectively pure good (at least, in this comparison). And just like “the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters”, Dumbledore and Snape seem to now be in this curious middle place. There’s Dumbledore, who just like hpboy13 said, has always been the stereotypical Merlin/Gandalf old wise wizard archetype, and now has actually been revealed to be playing everyone like a puppetmaster; using Snape’s love to make him risk his life and do Dumbledore’s will, and as Josie has mentioned often (such as in his essay on PS), making Harry’s school years an education in a lot more than poor Harry bargained for!
    And then there’s Snape. I admit, I cried a lot after I read this chapter. I’m personally a sucker for love, and come on, we all know what it’s like to love someone and to have them leave you for someone else. (If you don’t, consider yourself lucky :) ). I was right there, feeling everything Snape felt, thinking of all the times when I had wanted someone like Snape wanted Lily, and the pain, the pain of her rejection, and then her choosing someone else, someone who was an a**hole and whom you hated, and then to have her die… it’s torment. Some of my friends love Snape because of this; as in, they harbour no ill will towards him, because of his sad past. But in the other 6 books, he for me was the personification of every teacher who abused their position and bullied students. Have you noticed? Those who are bullied bully. Snape his whole life felt ashamed and was mocked and bullied, so he in his position of power mocks and bullies others. I have to conclude that he is a truly despicable person because of this. No, he may not be “evil”, just like most people in the world aren’t evil as in they don’t go round killing people; but you can still get people who just bully and abuse others. He’s had a terrible life, but that gives him no excuse as a rational mature adult to take it out on his students. So yeah, when these friends (mostly girls in love with him :P) tell me how wonderful they think he is, I remind them of all the sh*t he has put Harry through. In lots of cases, the ends *did not* justify the means, in my humble opinion.

  23. AndreRhineDavis: no, the ends don’t justify the means as far as Snape’s bullying is concerned, but I still feel enough empathy towards him to posthumously forgive him his transgressions. If he were still alive it would be offering up the opportunity for him to be forgiven i.e. by stopping being such a jerk. I don’t despise him, I don’t even despise his actions; I condemn them. As for “consider yourself lucky”, personally I feel that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, and also better than what it was compared to on The Big Bang Theory, which I won’t repeat in this medium. :) As such, Snape had good things in his life too.

  24. Dumbledore was manipulative, but did he really have a choice? He did groom Harry to die in the fight to kill Voldy, but it seems to be that he did not have a choice. Once Voldy marked Harry, it was probably clear to DD that Harry was the key to a complete and final victory over Voldy. With something of that significance, he could not just come out and tell Harry the whole story in his first year at Hogwarts; it would have been too much to take.

  25. alex, in response to your “James as bad person” comment: perhaps I should have clarified this a bit as I was writing, but I was trying to think of him from Snape’s perspective. To Snape, I believe that everything you said is absolutely true – and I very firmly believe that he would see every negative trait of Harry’s as coming from James, and every positive trait as coming from Lily (after all, he held Lily on a pedestal just as high as his regard for James was low). From a less biased perspective, of course this isn’t true. From what we hear – though unfortunately we hear it more than see it – James turned out to be an outstanding person, deserving of Lily’s love, a very good father, and was held in very high regard by members of the Order. We hear less of Lily’s flaws because we hear less of her in general, but surely Harry has inherited some of those as well. But I’m pretty sure Snape wouldn’t see it that way, and that’s what I was trying to get across.

    AndreRhineDavis and lexicon6, don’t forget that Dumbledore wasn’t using Snape quite as much as it seemed to Snape (though arguably, he was manipulating him even more). Just like Dumbledore knew that Harry had to let Voldemort kill him, he’ll admit in a couple of chapters that he also knew Harry would survive the curse. The problem was that *Harry* couldn’t know that, so neither could Snape. So there’s an irony in the fact that Dumbledore was protecting Harry just the way he’d always led Snape to believe – but had to basically tell Snape that he was double-crossing him in order to achieve that end. After all, when Harry dies, he tells Dumbledore he “meant” to let Voldemort kill him, and Dumbledore responds that that “will have made all the difference.” Unbelievably manipulative, but he was at least telling Snape the truth, even if Snape couldn’t know that. :-P Puppetmaster, indeed.

  26. rtozier: in response to your question that arose, remember, snape is a phenomenal actor as we’ve seen in front of voldy. but that’s not really what i was getting at, i was more thinking that dumbledore told him AFTER the memory, so that snape’s reactions had been pure and honest and gave harry the severety of the situation.

  27. Great conversation about Snape. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts!

    Loved the artwork. Glad that so many of my favorites were included (somelatevisitor, gerre, prettyannamoon) but loved the “new” artwork, too; especially anguinea, Patilda, and Jeni Malament. Thanks again, Josie, for taking the time to hunt them down, get permission to repost, and set up this website.

  28. Great artwork, Josie!

    In many ways, I think that Dumbledore was as much a victim of the Voldemort as Harry and Snape. Considering what most people thought of DD, he was under a lot of pressure to always do the right thing for the wizarding world “for the greater good.” Maybe, in some ways, he was trying to make up for the evil he almost helped to bring on their world if he had not gone against Grindewald. I found JKR’s revelation of Dumbledore’s life to be as tragic, even worse, than what happened to Snape. Yes, he did use Snape but somebody had to stop Voldemort and it is clear that DD cannot do this on his own. He employs not only Harry and Snape, but the Weaseleys, Hermionie, Lupin and many others to bring the Dark Lord down. What I find most amazing is how they are all so willing to trust Dumbledore. Harry probably would have never reached this point without their support and unfailing perseverance in this incredible mission DD has set them on. It would be interesting to view this from the average witch or wizard of the day: “Well Potter came thorough again. Wonder what Dumbledore did this time.?”

  29. Wow Josie! Over 40 beautiful pieces of art and thoughtful analysis as always. It keeps getting better and better!

    @ Alex – It’s important to remember that Josie was writing about Snape’s perception of Harry, which was skewed by both Snape’s perception of James (the boy who he saw as a reckless rule breaker, self-aggrandizing attention seeker and defiant challenger of authority) and Snape’s perception of Lily (the girl who he viewed as perfection). I don’t think Josie is saying that James’ behaviour was necessarily bad, but rather Snape perceived everything James did in a negative way (from being a Quidditch hero to masquerading around at night with the Marauders). However, the example of Harry freeing Sirius is tricky, and I think you’re right in saying that Lily would have acted in the same impulsive “James-like” way once she realized Sirius’ innocence (assuming that we’re talking about rescuing Sirius from the Dementors in PoA and not Harry & friends storming the ministry in OoTP).

    On another note, I don’t think we should be too hard on Dumbledore. Snape made his own bed when he decided to become a Death Eater, and later disclose Trelawny’s prophecy to Voldemort. Snape repented of his actions to Dumbledore once he realized that he had put Lily in danger, but unfortunately it was too late to prevent the consequences of his choices. Dumbledore offered forgiveness and gave Snape his unerring trust as he coached Snape to make better choices from then onwards. It’s argued that Dumbledore manipulated Snape into helping to protect Harry, but wasn’t Dumbledore just showing Snape how to be the best version of himself (with Dumbledore promising that he would never divulge “the best” about Snape)? As for Harry, we should remember the “gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes” from the end of GoF and trust that Dumbledore has the best understanding of what is to come.

  30. Oops… I guess I left my screen open for awhile before typing and didn’t see Josie’s response…

  31. Ohhh, this is my favorite chapter in the entire book! It came as such a surprise to me the first time I read it, and now I catch glimpses of it throughout the series.
    As always, the artwork is excellent. I really like pojypojy’s picture of young Snape and Lily, and patilda’s picture of “I can’t pretend anymore. You’ve chosen your way, I’ve chosen mine.” is wonderfully expressive.

  32. Guys, I think you’re making a mistake here – you’re saying that Dumbledore “knew Harry would survive” and was just playing mindgames. But Dumbledore says himself that he wasn’t sure about this. After all, Harry and Voldemort ventured into magic hitherto unknown to others, and no one could be sure of how things would work out. So Dumbledore still wanted Harry to sacrifice himself, he was just hoping that it would all work out okay.

  33. Favorite chapter in the entire series <3 The artwork was absolutly gorgeous. (:

  34. Hey, thought this would be appropriate to mention here: on the new episode of Snapecast (http://snapecast.com/2011/06/01/snapecast-episode-41/) the HP Companion gets several shoutouts around 1:11 and 1:31 when they interviewed me. Hopefully this’ll bring some more Snape fans to these discussions!

  35. I must add my voice to the many who’ve praised the artwork and the comments: thank you, Josie.

    Re Snape’s possible back-up plan, in case he couldn’t tell Harry in person or in Pensieve what he needs to know: let us assume that Harry, in that alternative universe, goes back to Hogwarts and up to the Headmaster’s study. Why not? Dumbledore wouldn’t be asleep, or faking sleep, and perhaps Snape’s own portrait would be there by then. A conversation between those two pictured Headmasters would be all Harry needed … but the Pensieve plotline is clearly superior in how it respects Snape’s privacy and dignity – imagine what Phineas Nigellus would have snorted under his breath! – quite apart from the heightened intensity of the storyline.

  36. But Deborah, why would Harry go to the Headmaster’s office in the middle of the battle? That seems like the last place he should be hanging out while Hogwarts is under siege. However, I would love to hear Phineas’s commentary on the Prince’s Tale, lol!

  37. The beginning of this chapter always makes me cry. Tonks and Remus were some of my favorite characters from when they first appeared, and it made me sad, because I wanted to see how their life would go, where they would go. I know they were sacrificed for the sake of the book, but still……

    I also wanted to say that I think the artwork was spot on for this chapter. Everything was exactly the way I pictured it.

  38. @ hpboy13 – You’re right that Dumbledore could not have been 100% sure that Harry would survive Voldemort’s killing curse, but Dumbledore had guessed (it seems from the first moment he learned of it in GoF) that Voldemort’s act of taking Harry’s blood would tie Harry to life while Voldemort lived. It was a guess and a hope, but as Dumbledore later says, “my guesses have, usually, been good.” And really, Dumbledore’s guess here is on par with Harry’s guess at the end of the book when he “yelled his best hope to the heavens.” Neither Dumbledore nor Harry could be completely sure that Harry would survive in either case… but using their understanding and experience of magic, continued in hopeful confidence anyway.

    As an aside, what do people think: Did Snape set “Dumbledore” as the password to the Headmaster’s office? Or did someone else create an overriding password? Or is other magic at work here? I like the idea that it was Snape…

  39. Andrea, much as I would love for Snape to have set that password, it’s not feasible – he had to keep his cover in front of the Carrows, so setting Dumbledore as the password would not have worked. Instead, I think it is the school’s sense of loyalty to Dumbledore – just like the Head’s office recognized that Dumbledore was the true Headmaster during OotP and sealed itself against Umbridge, I think it understood that if Harry was seeking Dumbledore he was trying to help the school. It’s odd, but in a way the office is almost portrayed as sentient in these books.

  40. hpboy13 (love your handle, btw!), in that office he could potentially access the combined wisdom of the head teachers for centuries. And in that alternative universe, there would still be the Waiting-For-Harry truce, so it wouldn’t be in the middle of a battle exactly, though still in the midst of the war. He’d appreciate advice and reassurance, and might also like to run the Elder Wand scenario past Dumbledore, just for confirmation of his theory.

    I like your point about the sentient office, too. So much high-level magic has been done in there over the years, it’s not surprising that some of it has been absorbed into the room itself. The Room of Requirement is astonishingly sentient, after all – why not other rooms?

  41. This chapter has one of the best lines of Snape ever: “Would you like me to do it now? Or would you like a few moments to compose an epitaph?” I hope this one would not be cut from the movie…

  42. Yes, Jose — also one of my very favorites!

  43. I find it quite easy to imagine Alan Rickman saying that, now that you mention it. I hope it’s in also.

  44. Many of us have a lost love from childhood, or a past sweetheart or very good friend that has since died, and that is why this chapter is so precious to many of us. Snape’s love for Lily, symbolized by his doe Patronus, stayed with him until the end. Many of us have someone from our childhood or youth who is no longer with us, but whose imprint is deep within our soul. Snape’s love for Lily fuel nearly all his actions.

    What a dilemma for Snape, to see in Harry both the dear friend he lost and the nemesis who won her! Snape hates Harry for reminding him of James and yet loves him for being Lily’s son. Harry is also a constant reminder of Snape’s personal failure. As one “fanfic” song puts it, “You could’ve been Harry’s dad!”

    I love the illustrations here. Too bad no one drew that precious little moment when Petunia Evans (Dursley) wrote to Dumbledore begging to be admitted to Hogwarts! I don’t blame Petunia for wanting that for herself; it’s too bad she got all bitter about Lily’s gifts.

    The story of Snape and Lily, and of the Maurauders, deserves a movie of its own. I know, I know…it sounds exploitative, but since Harry and his friends are playing out the scenarios started by his parents’ generation, it might be fun to see the “prequel” as its own story, don’t you think?

  45. I have to agree with Melanie. A prequel movie would be in order. I hope J.K. Rowling does seriously consider writing at least a screenplay for a film about Snape’s life. I once read a fan fic on fanfiction.net called “Severus Snape Revealed”. The author of this did a fabulous job of writing about Snape’s life from birth to his adulthood. I hope J.K. might consider doing her version.

    Thus this brings up my question to you guys, how do you feel Snape’s life would have changed if he were born to more caring and loving parents more along the lines of a “James and Lily”? In that fan fic I mentioned before I believe (I haven’t read it a while) if I’m right the author wrote that Snape was an accidental birth which I’ve always thought and I feel Rowling also tried to put across by showing his parents as neglectful and non-loving to him; ultimately treating him as garbage. By dressing him in their own hand-me-down clothes and him seeming to be malnourished. Not saying all parents of non-planned children are neglectful and non-loving, but this is the in between the lines message I got will reading the story.

    So what are your thoughts? Would Snape’s whole personality and likeness changed if his parents were more loving? Would Lily have married him? Would he have been in Gryffindor? Would the prophecy ever exist as the result? Would Voldemort have taken over the Ministry man years earlier? Would Snape ever have worked at Hogwarts? Etc…..

  46. Wow- loved the pix on this one! Some really good stuff out there! The pix made me cry…
    I’ll go back and read the rest of the comments but want to add some of my thoughts now, having just read the post.
    – I think, given H’s feelings for Snape, the only way there was any hope of H believing what Snape could have had to say was the way that it happened. H really did hate him. I don’t think he could have been forced to listen (really listen and believe) Snape. I, too, would like to have seen what S had in mind for that!
    I really like the part at the end from JKR- I think all of us are a little bit like this. I can think of at least one thing I did to a friend at about the age Snape and Lily were that must have hurt my friend just as much as S hurt Lily. And it was because I was insecure. JKR really hit the nail on the head with that. (OK- maybe not everyone is like that but I’d bet a lot of people are.)
    Now- on to the comments!

  47. @Andrea (up quite a ways now)- really enjoyed your take on the whole thing. I’ve always loved that gleam in DD’s eye at the end of GoF.
    The thing about Snape that applies to us is we make mistakes and sometimes they are major. We can be sorry and apologize and truly change and repent (if you will) but that does not change the thing that’s been done. So, Snape did make his bed and he’s dealt with the ‘lying in it’ from that time on. Which is really quite remarkable. I hated Snape throughout the first 6 books but realized at the end of HBP that the only possible way for the whole thing to work was for Snape to be the most amazing double-agent of all time. DH was a real treat partly because of the brilliance of Snape’s character.
    re the password to the headmaster’s office- I think it’s some sort of higher magic, too- like was mentioned when it sealed itself against Umbridge.
    I think DD was pretty sure Harry would survive the curse. It was love all over again and doing something for simple unselfish reasons, for no self-gain at all. DD wasn’t 100% but he was probably 99.9% sure. Also liked what was pointed out that he couldn’t let Snape know because he couldn’t tell Harry at all. H had to do it for the right reason. In the end, DD really does construct his life around ‘for the greater good’- which really isn’t such a bad thing. I love him from start to finish.
    As far as the James-Harry/Lily-Harry thing- this kind of thing has always been one of my favorite parts of literature and in life. You can’t draw perfect parallels in life but it can really be helpful to take 2 opposing points and then wade through a story or a situation or history (or whatever) and find the things that fit into each of the 2- Like Josie did with Harry and his parents. It’s not perfect and can’t be… but it’s definitely something fascinating to wrap your mind around!
    @Melanie Lee- well I definitely think Snape could have been totally different had his parents been different towards him. On the other- look at Petunia (Evans), look at Draco Malfoy. Just having loving parents doesn’t make a person good. We still all make our own choices. It’s an interesting thought and one I haven’t spent much time on.
    And- since this is a pensieve chapter- I posted this question at the very end of the discussion on the chapter back in HBP where Harry and DD visited Hepzibah Smith in the pensieve- it seems to me that there is a goof there- this was the house elf’s memory but they were able to see stuff that happened in the room while the elf was not in the room. Is that possible? In a pensieve memory to see what’s happening someplace other than where the person whose memory it is happens to be at the time? (I posted my Q months after the post was put up so have never received an answer. Sorry to post it here but I’d really love to hear some thoughts on this. Thanks!)

  48. Ann, to build on your Dumbledore remarks… Yes, he definitely acted “for the greater good” with a clear-sighted view of what that “greater good” really meant. What we have to remember is that he sacrificed his own life when the right time came. He only demanded of Snape and Harry what he was willing to do himself.

  49. @Grace- exactly, which is why I have no quibbles at all with Dumbledore’s character. Really- when I started reading the first book, I had no idea whatsoever what was in store!

  50. I understand why Lilly did & said what she did, but I wish she had forgiven Severus. Maybe he would not have joined the Deatheaters.

  51. @Ellenh
    So true. I think Lily was too touchy over Snape. I think she just made thinks worse by rejecting Snape. Bad enough Snape was already having a rebel stage in his teenhood, but that was the straw that broke the camels back.

  52. @PotionsMaster I think you’re being too hard on Lily. I got the impression that Snape had tried and tried her patience and that the Mudblood incident was the last straw for her. She said “I’ve made excuses for you for years”. Clearly he had been acting like an idiot for years. Lily had been a saint to put up with him for as long as she did. It must have been hard on her seeing someone she was friends with descend into the dark arts and not being able to stop it. She tried but it got to the point where she knew she wasn’t able to do anything. Perhaps she thought washing her hands of him would make him realise the consequences of his behaviour. However, I definitely don’t think you can call Lily too touchy over Snape. She had put up with his behaviour for years before the Mudblood incident.

  53. Amy, well put. Lily didn’t break with Snape because he called her a Mudblood – she broke with him because of the person he had become, and it all came to a head when he called her a Mudblood. That’s not a simple matter of forgiveness. Years later I doubt she thought about the Mudblood thing, so much as she sat thinking, “what a shame that that was the person he made himself into.”

  54. Well, i’m very sad that the Harry Potter companion only has a chapter to go. It’s been very fun being a part of it since the book held so much meaning to me and had so many notions in it that i thought were beyond just Hogwarts and HRH.

    Thanks, Josie Kearns for making this site and introducing me to a new dimension in reading literature.

    Amy: for some reason i have found myself loving Snape’s character. So when you stated that ‘she had put up with his behavior for years before the Mudblood incident’, i couldn’t help but see that i should stand up for him.
    In his last dying moment, Snape had the chance of revealing something he had only revealed to one other person: Dumbledore. And we know that Dumbledore is no fool. We get to see that he has been watching over Lily’s son while having to deal with Hogwart students, possibly teachers, not liking him. We see his intentions as well as the acts that were only open to Dumbledore. Maybe the relationship with Lily was not meant to be, but we certainly get to see that Snape was a good person…the only one person knowing who he really was being Dumbledore and, eventually, Harry. You may even choose to see that through Harry, that others as well (Hermoine, Ron and the DA) would get to see who Snape really is as well because Harry would eventually talk to Hermione and Ron. He really was troubled during his days at Hogwarts and probably even later. It was unfortunate that it took Lily’s death to either change his ways or show Dumbledore who he really was (and have Dumbledore aid him) through his undying love for Lily and what he does by putting his life on the line to protect her son.

  55. @Edt, I think what you are saying actually supports my view. You said that it took Lily’s death to change his ways. This is the key point. He was an idiot before Lily died. He was up to his neck in the dark arts and only realised what had happened to him when Lily died. It made him realise what he had become and he vowed to protect her son. He became a good man (if you ignore the bullying of students) after Lily’s death but he was an idiot before that happened.

  56. Amy: Lol, on calling him an idiot…there are far worse names:) i guess it is the best word to describe whom he was. I’m glad, though, that when he was going through that phase that he was still capable of loving Lily although he ends up ruining that relationship.

  57. (and i don’t mean that in a patronizing way)

  58. It doesn’t sound patronising at all. I spent a while thinking what to call him and thought idiot summed it up pretty well lol

  59. Maybe this has been said before, but I wanted to share my thoughts.

    I’ve always loved how much this chapter revealed about Snape. He is such a tortured soul, and we finally get to understand a little bit about how his mind works. What struck me most though, is the memory that Harry has seen before. Whilst learning occlumency with Snape in Order of the Phoenix, Harry sees what he thinks is Snape’s worst memory. But the reason that it is Snape’s worst memory is not the fact that James made fun of him. It’s Snape’s worst memory because it is the day he lost Lily. Up until that point, he may have had a chance with Lily, but when he called her Mudblood, that seemed to be the last straw for her. He still loved her, but she gave up on him. Perhaps that’s what drove him even more into the dark arts.

  60. @Bethy- good point about Snape’s why that was Snape’s worst memory. It gives his character more depth- it was the worst because of the loss of love and not because of childish boyhood pranks. Hadn’t really thought about that!

  61. @Bethy
    Yeah, I have to agree. Snape’s mind was always slightly fragile. This just pushed him even further into the dark arts. I know we are talking about the books, but when they did this scene in the film they cut out the “mudblood-calling” part; thus now making it seem as though it was the bullying that made it the worst memory. Wonder how they will correct this in DH part2? But back to the book; I feel Snape was probably practically kicking himself after this incident. He was the cause of his loss of Lily. That’s why I tend to feel sorry for him just as Edt said a few comments ago.

  62. i love snape so much! It’s so touching about the whole James vs. Lily thing. Snape must have been horribly confused on everything. ‘To like or not to like, that is the question’. Even though Snape has done horrible things, he remains one of my favorite characters because hs mixed up “good” balences all of his mistakes.

  63. @ann: I know it’s considerably late, but one of my thoughts about the Hokey’s memory is that house elves are always somewhat aware of what their masters are doing–especially in their own home. I understand it to be part of the magic that house elves use/have.

    Obviously not cannon, but it made sense to me. :)

  64. @Natalia- thanks. Hadn’t considered it from that angle. :)

  65. Snape was redeemed in my eyes with this chapter. It doesn’t erase the bad things that he did his love for Lily was very admirable. Rowling was right when she wrote that love is a powerful thing. Snape could have been the best and most loyal Death Eater but because of his love for Lily, his heart urged him to do what is needed of him to defeat LV.

  66. @ann- I agree that pensieve stuff gets a little messy. Remember when Harry saw Snape’s memory of OWLs and James’s bullying? Even though Harry kept within sight of Snape, I don’t think Snape could hear the marauders talking when they were outside. So, how could Snape remember what he could not hear? I think the rules of the pensieve are very loose.

  67. Wow, just wanted to say that the artwork for this chapter is extraordinary! All of the pictures are wonderful, and I really enjoyed looking through them!

  68. For Snape’s back up plan I think you need to look at what was going through Snape’s mind as he was dying; he was worried that he had failed Dumbledore and he wanted to remember Lily. If Harry had not been there to collect the memories I think he would of sent a patronus, allowing Snape to die thinking of Lily, the doe, and to pass along Dumbledore’s instruction to Harry, something along the lines of when you survived as a baby you became an object carrying a fragment of Voldemort’s soul (It would have to be phrased like this because if I remember correctly Snape never knew about Voldemort’s horcuxes). Harry could well have undrstood and believed it as his last reaction to the doe was that it wasn’t dark magic. The sad point being Harry would never have known the best of Snape, the living Dumbledore promised to never reveal it, so I doubt the portrait would have!

  69. I really enjoyed the artwork and comments on Snape!! Hats off to Jo for creating one of the most intriguing characters literature has ever had.

    On a side note, did anyone else notice the “I heart RL” in Katie Hillman’s picture of Sirius’s room? I think maybe someone was hoping for a little more than an innocent bromance between Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. :)

  70. It’s interesting that two times in this chapter, when Dumbledore asks Snape for his word, he gives an ambiguous nod. Then Dumbledore says “you gave me your word” but it was only a nod. Does anyone think this is significant or am I just reading too much into it?

  71. @Timbus- Could he have been referring to a conversation we’re not privy to?
    Maybe Dumbledore ‘read his mind’? ;)

  72. Timbus, we could also take a page from McGonagall’s book – “Well, usually when a person [nods] their head, they mean [yes]. So unless [Professor Snape] is using a form of sign language as yet unknown to humans -”

    I think we might be reading too much into it. ;)

  73. This was probably the most emotionally satisfying chapter for me…. I think that, partially because I was thirteen when I read the final book in the series, there was never so much as a doubt in my mind that Dumbledore would have had a good reason for all his actions, that the trio would survive whole for the most part. And so when Fred or Dobby died it was all the more shocking for me. But reading Snape’s story was sucha *different* experience because I was truly ambivalent about Snape all the way up to the last book. So when I encountered this chapter, I had to read it over, just to fully absorb the impact, the beauty implicit in Snape’s action of protecting the product of his worst nightmare – the child of Lily and James. It was fairly hard for a thirteen year old to read and understand, but that’s why Snape, for me, is the most complicated, well written character in the series – because everything he does leads up to this chapter while building up this ambiguity that surrounds him.

  74. This chapter also puts an entirely new perspective on Dumbledore’s death in the Half-Blood Prince. Rowing sets up the exchange between Dumbledore and Snape in Dumbledore’s final moments to give the impression to those witnessing the event that Snape betrays Dumbledore. This “betrayal” is especially touching when Dumbledore says “Severus… please…” (595). However, given the new information given to us in this chapter, we can safely make the connection that Dumbledore is not asking Snape to help him by saving his life–he’s asking Snape to help him by killing him. Likely, Dumbledore knows that Snape still has some reluctance to the idea of killing him.
    I can’t help but wonder what exactly is going on in Snape’s head. Rowling writes “Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face” (595). Harry assumes that this is hatred for Dumbledore although a better guess might be that Snape is revolted at what he is about to do. This is a man he has trusted for so long and now he’s about to kill him? I can’t blame him for being more than a little upset by this.

  75. I think I found the deaths of Tonks and Lupin the most shocking thing, but I realised that Lupin had to die or he could not have formed part of the Maurauders guard of honour when Harry goes to the wood. (With the faithful Lily replacing the faithless Wormtail.) And Tonks would not have wanted to survive Lupin. Ok she’d had a baby and you might expect that Teddy would come first, but Tonks is a professional fighter – an Aurer – so when the chips are down she choses to go and fight with her lover and her comrades leaving her baby with his gran. Sound a modern dilemma, doesn’t it ?

  76. I just have to say, the Fat Lady has overheard quite a lot in her time. What if Harry had ever stopped to actually have a conversation with her? (She tries all the time) “Oh, yoooooour mother… the THINGS I could tell you about yoooooooour mother… You know Professor Snape, of course…”

  77. I think it’s hilarious to think about Snape being in the headmaster’s office this whole year, getting advice from – , plotting – or just casually hanging out with Dumbledore’s portrait (the man he has killed in the previous year).
    Like, when they first meet: “Nice one Sev, straight at my chest!”

  78. @Mike — My friends and I have a running joke about that, in which Dumbledore (in a voice a la Potter Puppet Pals) bothers Snape the entire time. “Severus, I’m bored. Can’t you do something more interesting? You’ve been just sitting there writing for four hours! Why don’t you try dancing! Severus?” “Severus, I’m hungry. Can’t you paint in some cake for me?” “Severus, paint me a portrait of Grindelwald, won’t you? I want to hang out with Grindelwald. Severus…!” etc.

  79. @hazelwillow haha, dumbledore can be so annoying when he is 2-D :-).

    But this also raises a lot of questions:
    How and when are these portraits made (before or after someone dies)?
    How does DD’s portrait know all this stuff?
    Is DD involved in making it?
    And most importantly, doesn’t everyone want to be made into a portrait after he/she dies? It does make the death of a person a lot less tragic, because that person wouldn’t be with us “just” metaphorically, but quite literally. Even though Dumbledore can’t actively protect him anymore, he is still able to talk and give advice to Harry.
    On the other hand, just like the ones brought back with the resurrection stone, the portrayed would be separated from the living “as by a veil”. You wouldn’t be able to touch or physically interact with them and they could start to hate you for giving them an eternal, boring, two – dimensional live. It would eventually drive people mad, which is a scary thought.
    Considering this, most people (me included) probably wouldn’t want to have talking portraits of their deceased loved ones hanging in their house after all. Maybe this kind of magic is reserved only for the most important or wise members of the wizarding community (like the headmasters of Hogwarts), or the ones who think that their wisdom is too important to die with them (like Sir Cadogan or Gilderoy Lockhart) :D.

  80. First – Tonks and Lupin. Just…*sniff*. I was shocked when they died. I hadn’t seen it coming at all, though, in retrospect, perhaps I should have, given that Teddy parallels Harry. Teddy gets to grow up in the sort of life Harry should have had. But Lupin is one of my favorite characters in this series – such a beautiful, tragic man whose happiness is always short-lived. The silver-lining here, I suppose, is that his happiness is now eternal, united with his wife and his friends.

    I had long believed that Snape loved Lily, but the idea they were friends – BEST friends – completely blew me away. The few memories we get here are just a small sample of the years between them. They didn’t live very far apart, so they probably spent holidays and summers together. If Gryffindor and Slytherin had potions together (as they do in Harry’s time) and given both Snape and Lily’s abilities in the subject, they must have been partners. It makes me wonder why no one ever mentioned it. Obviously, others in Gryffindor knew about it, if Lily had to defend him to her friends. James, who teased Lily because he liked her, and Sirius, who just inherently hated Snape, would had to have noticed if Snape and Lily were always working together. Perhaps Sirius, even as an adult, didn’t want to sully his friends’ memories by associating them with Snape anymore than he had to, therefore never thought to tell Harry?

  81. Hands down, the best chapter ever! Since the first book, Snape has always been the character I was most intrigued with. The good and the bad about him seem to mix well and form a character that I (and I bet most of us too!) don’t quite know what to make of. Was he good or bad? Or was he somewhere in between? What in the world is causing him to act in such manners?

    Thankfully, we finally see some light shed upon him in this beautifully-versed chapter. As a huge sucker for romance, my heartstrings were tugged to their limit upon seeing (and finally knowing) what clearly motivates Snape behind all of his mysterious deeds. LOVE. And in a way, this is what clearly makes Voldemort different from Snape; while the former is driven by his hunger for power, the latter redeemed himself by his undying love. Yet, his grave mistakes, both as a professor and as a person, wouldn’t surely be easily forgotten by many. His means might be erroneous, yet his heart was set in the right place. In all ways, I can see Jo’s viewpoint – that Snape is a hugely flawed person, and yet I had come to love his character all the more for it. ;)

  82. So how many people were surprised when the “awful boy” whom Petunia overheard talking to Lily about dementors turned out to be Snape rather than James? I know I was.

    Other moments that stand out to me in this chapter:

    Petunia writing to Dumbledore, begging to be admitted to Hogwarts. Puts her story in a new light.

    Snape begging Dumbledore to promise never to reveal his oath to protect Lily’s son, to which Dumbledore replies “My word never to reveal the best of you?”

    Snape asking Dumbledore if he’d like time to compose his epitaph.

    Snape’s disgust over Harry being raised as a pig for the slaughter.

  83. @Todd: I wasn’t surprised, because I’d heard the theory of the “awful boy” being Snape, but I was of the opinion that it was James. :)

  84. Snape reminds me so much of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights isn’t even funny.

    Both are considered great tragic/anti-heros.They both fall in love with their best friends as children. They were both outcasts and hated by their love ones sibling/siblings. Both Lily and Cathy died young, not long after having children. Both Snape and Heathcliff never get over the love of their life’s death and both linger on the time spent with them. Lily and Cathy marry men hated by the man who love them. Both men were bullied as children and then become bullies and become hardened as they age. Both men despise the children of the ones they love, and both have their mothers eyes. Both men died thinking of the woman they loved. Both men died without seeking redemption for their deeds (however Snape has more redeeming qualities then Heathcliff)

    I loved this chapter in the book, and I also loved this scene in the movie. I loved the book representation better however I sob horrible when I see Snape in the movie holding Lily’s body :(

  85. Since Snape is half-blood, why the mismatched clothes?

  86. Jeremy – I always assumed the Snapes were not very well off and hand-me-downs were all they could afford. From all descriptions, Spinner’s End is pretty run down. Snape’s parents don’t seem quite the type who would properly care for their son, and it’s possible Tobias was abusive.

    All around, not a happy situation.

  87. I do not like Snape for many reasons. He is, as Jo said, a bully. He is hateful to Harry just because of Harry’s father–Snape is brave, but just because he was on the right said doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a manipulating bully. All those things are still true about Snape. His love for Lily doesn’t give him an Out-of-Jail card. He was brave, but he was still a bully and very mean to Harry.

    Although, I do like Snape as a character. I love how if you are an HP fan, you either love Snape or just don’t. The Prince’s Tale turned many people over, and it did for me, too–for a while, at least. Then I reread the books and I realized how mean Snape was to Harry. It just wasn’t fair at all.

  88. I cant stand, severus cries. it’s killing me :(

  89. pojypojy’s picture of Snape crying as he reads Lily’s letter breaks my heart.
    I read my first HP book in 2009 after being badgered for many years by my grown son to read these books, read these books. (My church had been dead set in the opinion that these books were a pathway to Hell.) I knew early on that Snape loved Lily and remember many times my son kept trying to convince that he was more snake than Snape but like Dumbledore, I trusted Snape.
    I only regret I wasn’t here while this forum was active; I’ve read all the pages & feel like these people are friends and I will miss their voices.
    Josie, saying just “thank you” seems shallow for all you did on this site. You created a masterpiece also

  90. Fav chapter in the entire book! Except maybe the flaw in the plan. THe artwork is fabulous!!!! Gosh, but trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Snape is actually good is really hard. After almost seven books you’d think that We’d be used to the surprises that J. k. ROwling is so good at delivering, that we’d be used to the way everything connects to something else so perfectally, but it still BLOWS my mind. Harry Potter is my Safe Haven from the world, and will continue to be it, even if I’ve read every single one a million times.

  91. I am a very late comer to the Harry Potter phenomena. I am grateful beyond words that I did decide to pick up the books one day and become a part of the HP world (or, rather, allow it to become part of me). This particular chapter, for me, is one of the greatest pieces of literature I have ever read.

    Many of these pictures brought me to tears. JKR created such an enigma in Snape. I will revist this site many times throughout my subsequent readings of the books, to better appreciate the deeper meanings and admire the creative representations on exhibit here. Thank you so much for an amazing site!

  92. @zack

    Harry is not a saint in the books. He often pulled many, many things that would have got any other student at least a suspension or expulsion. Also, most Gryffindors do seem to get away with more then others as we see in cannon.

    Snape is an emotionally stunted man who never got to mature. First at home, then school, now under dumbles (who always reminds him of lily when he wants something) he’s got no chance to get over it or mature. Also, who taught him to teach? In IRL before you teach you have to be taught to teach. You can’t just jump into it and do it. Plus he’s an introvert and a genius. People like that don’t tend to make good teachers. (there are always exceptions) he’s teaching a class he knows doesn’t give a shit, he’s teaching well below his skill level and every time a student fucks up something he most likely considers easy (like something most would find difficult) it most likely drives him up a wall. That class, hell the school, is not a place he should be because its just making him more angry and preventing him from maturing.

    Snape is mentally like a 19 year old boy. He’s rational (sometimes), he’s smart, he’s cold, calculating, precise, and bitter. But he’s never going to be able to deal with people or emotions like a proper (this can be debated) adult is expected to do. he’s also a shit teacher.

    His memories show a sad life. Tom and Harry were abused but…there were differences to the equation. Tom was a psychopath because he was conceived thanks to a love potion he was charming and smart and manipulated people with ease. He became lord voldy.

    Harry was abused but he got friends, he got leniency in school from other teachers and most often dumbles (I have a million examples to prove this), he’s got his fame, his quidditch, and again his friends. He eventually matured because he was able to thanks to many factors. He became a hero.

    Then there was snape. Abused as well but only had one friend, then none. Neglected and possibly emotionally or physically abused at home, bullied and almost killed at school by the ‘good side’ then as an adult, made into a spy, a teacher (which I’m sure he hates), and juggles more responsibility and work then the other teachers (again I can prove this), and he has no friends. There is no room for maturity, the environment is toxic to him, its filled with reminders and such. I admire the fact that he went back to help the ‘good side’ who abused him so and didn’t really show him anything out of contempt and abuse. He became a hero as well. And no, the Slytherin ‘friends’ didn’t really come off as friends, it seemed to me that they were using him for his brains and knew they could use his shit self esteem to there advantage (Alan says snape adult and child has quite the low self esteem)

    It really goes to show how small things or factors in a persons life can change how they end up. Does his past excuse his shit behavior? No. But it explains it.

    Loved the chapter and great job.

    And I’m sorry if this seems like a debate, cus it’s not. I’m just giving my two cents.

  93. Its a very striking line in this chapter when one of the old headmaster portraits,Phineas Black, reports to Snape that Harry and Hermione are in the Forest of Dean, giving Snape his opportunity to pass the Sword to Harry.

    Phineas refers to Hermione as the ‘Mudblood’ girl, and Snape reacts furiously to this, admonishing Black for using that disgusting word. This illustrates how the memory of using that word himself is still so raw to him.

    But I also like to think that it does demonstrate a maturing and development in Snape’s ideals and outlook, and that at the end he does come to consider all those ideas of pure blood supremacy and dark arts as foul and evil

  94. I wonder if Harry ever mentioned Snape to Petunia.

  95. The look on Petunia’s face when/if she found out that Severus was one of Harry’s teachers; PRICELESS!!!

  96. Lovely thread Josie. I can tell a lot of love and care has gone into deciphering and breaking down these wonderful books.

    Re: Snape- It must have been extremely hard for Snape, to simultaneously protect and hate Harry so vehemently. After all; whenever he saw Harry, he would be constantly reminded of how Lily had loved and chosen another man over him; and that definitely has to sting!

    I just love it, how J.K. keeps her characters true to themselves throughout her novels.
    Snape’s grudge for James and love for Lily held strong, until the very end. Because that was esencially Snape; a man who despised Harry for not being able to stifle his emotions, while being a slave to his own feelings the whole time!
    Maybe, that is one of the reasons why Harry erked him so much. Perhaps, Snape could see his own flaws mirrored in Harry?
    It reminds me of how he thought Tonk’s patronus was weak;)

  97. Lovely discussion. Everyone has say what I wanted to say already!
    These scenes in the movie saved the films for me; I was getting fed up with the way they were chopping & changing. Then they did this bit and. I. Started. Bawling. I actually like how the movie added things like Harry’s Sorting…. It emphasised his eyes again and gave it a nice touch.
    I remember this moment reading the book clearly. I was just so shocked. In books 1-5 I disliked Snape being mean to Harry, especially since most teachers I knew were nice! From the end of six to this chapter in seven, I hated him. Then this chapter happened and knocked me for six! Snape was on the Light side…and he loved Lily!!!

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