Snape Victorious

chapter eight of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry is discovered on the train by Tonks, and then brought up to Hogwarts by Snape, who doesn’t miss his chance to belittle Harry on the way. At school, Harry learns that Snape will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Slughorn Potions – and then talks with Hagrid, but leaves feeling guilty that he’s not planning to take Care of Magical Creatures.

Nymphadora Tonks, by Laurence Peguy

The floor began to vibrate as the engine roared into life. The Express was leaving and nobody knew he was still on it….
Then he felt his Invisibility Cloak fly off him and a voice overhead said, “Wotcher, Harry.”


The New One Looks Weak, by Vizen

“Incidentally,” said Snape… “I was interested to see your new Patronus.”
He shut the gates in her face with a loud clang and tapped the chains with his wand again, so that they slithered, clinking, back into place.
“I think you were better off with the old one,” said Snape, the malice in his voice unmistakable. “The new one looks weak.”

(by Vizen)


Hogwarts at Sunset, by Beeeb

They reached the castle steps at last.

(by Beeeb)


Reveal Your Secrets, by Patilda

“Fifty points from Gryffindor for lateness, I think,” said Snape. “And, let me see, another twenty for your Muggle attire. You know, I don’t believe any House has ever been in negative figures this early in the term: We haven’t even started pudding. You might have set a record, Potter.”

(by Patilda)


Albus Dumbledore, by Abigail Larson

“Now… to our new students, welcome, to our old students, welcome back! Another year full of magical education awaits you.”


The Potions Master, by Abigail Larson

Snape, who was sitting on Dumbledore’s right, did not stand up at the mention of his name… yet Harry was sure he could detect a look of triumph on the features he loathed so much.


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

Snape’s overt malice towards Tonks is rather startling – but even more so when you consider the fact that she just recently became an Auror. Becoming an Auror, of course, necessitates a N.E.W.T. in Potions, which means that Tonks would in fact have sat in Snape’s class for seven years, and without question would have achieved top grades (including an O on her O.W.L.!). It’s been a few years since then, of course, and who knows what has gone on more recently at Order meetings. But you’d still think Snape would be a bit friendlier toward a Hufflepuff who excelled in his classroom.

The Boy Who Lived

I don’t know whether Snape spends any time analyzing Harry’s behavior behind his surface-level read of the boy’s intentions. But if he gives it any thought at all, I can’t help but wonder what the heck he’s thinking. There’s such an obvious contradiction in the things he says sometimes. For example:

“I suppose you wanted to make an entrance, did you?” Snape continued. “And with no flying car available you decided that bursting into the Great Hall halfway through the feast ought to create a dramatic effect.”

Harry wondered whether he could slip his Invisibility Cloak back on, thereby gaining his seat at the long Gryffindor table… without being noticed. As though he had read Harry’s mind, however, Snape said, “No cloak. You can walk in so that everyone sees you, which is what you wanted, I’m sure.”

Whether Snape read Harry’s mind or not, he at least had an inkling that Harry might want to use the Cloak – so why is he seemingly so upset that Harry is wanting to make an entrance? What does he actually think is going through the kid’s mind, and why on earth does it bother him so much?

Something to Remember

So Snape finally got his dream job – teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. And Harry, of course, wonders why. But there’s another question just as big as why Snape finally got the post – which is, of course, if Dumbledore’s willing to let him do it now, why didn’t Snape ever get the job before? Surely Dumbledore’s need to fill the post was no greater this year than it was when Lockhart or Umbridge took the job?

50 Responses to “Snape Victorious”

  1. Excellent as always Josie! Thank you.

    I did wonder too, why this was the year that Snape got the DADA position. Was it because Slughorn would only teach potions? I am interested to see what others think on this one.

  2. After crashing into the Whomping Willow in his second year, Harry and Ron convinced McGonagall to not take any points from them as the term hadn’t yet started and there weren’t any points to take away. Now Snape is docking points so Gryffindor is in “negative figures.” What a jerk.

  3. Wow, I’m pleasantly surprised at how many updates we’ve had since your return, Josie. Thanks again for all your hard work and for gathering all the beautiful artwork (Abigain Larson’s Dumbledore is one of my favorites).

    I’ve never put two-and-two together about Snape being Tonks’ teacher at school and that she would have had to have top Potions marks in O.W.L.s. It does make you wonder if he’s ever nice to *anyone,* doesn’t it?

  4. I feel that Snape getting the DADA job is part of Dumbledore’s big picture plan. Dumbledore knows that the job is cursed, as we find out in the seventh book. Dumbledore needs Snape to stick around which is why he doesn’t give him the job earlier. But now Dumbledore needs Slughorn at Hogwarts for reasons that will reveal themselves later in HBP. So for Slughorn to come he has to teach potions and Snape has to teach DADA.

  5. @David

    …and remember the last Chapter of OoP, where Snape had caught Harry threatening Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle with his wand and also intended to dock points from Griffindor, but couldn’t in the first place, because Griffindor was totally out of points. He would probably have given Harry a detention instead, would McGonagall not have interfered.

  6. I agree with Nell. The reasons that Snape HAD to have the job was that 1) Slughorn had to be back at Hogwarts and (I assume) wasn’t qualified for anything besides potions (or wouldn’t come back to teach anything else) and 2) Dumbledore knew that he would be dead by the end of the year one way or the other and wanted to position Snape for the Headmastership thinking that the ministry would give Snape the job anyway when he was gone. Maybe the gratitude he would feel towards Dumbledore would temper his innate Slytherin ways!

  7. I agree with Nell, i.e. 1) the job was cursed and 2) this year he needs Slughorn and Slughorn teaches potions. Great to have so many new chapters!

  8. You guys are forgetting that Harry wants to be an Auror, something that would not happen with Snape as Potions teacher because Harry did’nt get Outstanding in his OWL, but Slughorn accepts students with Exceeds Expectations. This way Harry can proceed with the required subjects and attempt to become an Auror.

  9. I’m not really surprised that Snape is rude to Tonks, even though she must have done exceptionally well in his classes. I mean, he’s never been nice to Hermione, has he?
    Also, how DID Tonks do well in potions? She’s a complete clutz, the poor girl!

  10. Even before other, more notable Patronus revelations come about, Snape’s nasty little comment made me wonder (like many other readers) what form Tonks’ Patronus used to take. I always imagine that it was something incredible docile, like a butterfly or finch or something. I’m sure the deeper implication is that a Patronus that changes shape to reflect an unrequited love is weak. Snape’s dialog tends to be pretty witty, though, so I can’t help thinking that the surface meaning (that is, the visual form of her old Patronus makes a *werewolf* look weak in comparison) is relevant too. Maybe I’m thinking about this too much, but if Tonks’ old one had been something typically considered ‘weak,’ that’s double cruelty points for Snape. ;)

    Relatedly (and spoiler-y), I wonder if Snape’s overly insulting words towards Tonks come simply from the fear of potential empathy… People tend to hate their own “flaws” more than any other character defects when they see them in other people. Tonks showing up with her new Patronus might have been threatening to our belovedly insecure Potions -er- Defense Against the Dark Arts Master.

  11. (Mild spoiler) I assume that Snape’s hostility toward Tonks is an extension of his dislike of Lupin.

  12. i agree with Billie. He hates Lupin so much, wouldn’t he hate anyone who loves Lupin? even if he like that person before the time?

  13. Jose, I agree that was JKR’s motivation for giving Snape the DADA post. I should have been clearer I was agreeing that that was Dumbledore’s motivation. :)

  14. Eliza, I know Snape is mean to Hermione, but I always assumed it was because she is Harry’s friend – he doesn’t show any overt animosity (that we see) toward Hufflepuffs. But Billie, a great point about Lupin. I hadn’t thought of that, and it particularly explains his needling her over her Patronus changing form. It also says that she is “shocked and hurt” at his remarks – so perhaps he did treat her nicely in the past, but now the Lupin thing has gotten in the way. Brilliant!

    As far as Snape goes, my assumption was that he got the job this year (and Slughorn got the Potions job this year) because this is the first year that Dumbledore doesn’t anticipate Snape’s needing to stick around once the year is through – more or less what several others have touched on already. But I didn’t want to put that spoiler on the page. ;)

  15. what i like about that chapter is a twist we didn’t expect what we get is a tonks/snape scene and the latter uses an opportunity to punish harry
    yes it’s brillient that snape finally gets his dream job what’s brillient about that scene is that when you read the scene when dumbledore announces who’s going to teach what and snape gets the job you think about what’s going to happen that happens with every chapter of course but with this particular scene the chapter speaks your thoughts because you probably think the same things that the text says when you read the scene especially when everyone whispers “potions”? constantly

  16. Inky Squirrel – J. K. Rowling mentions in an interview somewhere that Tonks’s Patronus used to be a ferret. :-)

    There was only ever one part of the Harry Potter movies that I wished had happened in the books and that was Luna Lovegood finding Harry under his Invisibility Cloak. I just find it as a funnier explanation for him being found. “Your head is full of them.”

  17. One of the very few plus points about Snape’s status as a double agent is that he can indulge the unpleasant side of his personality. In order to look convincing to Lord V and the gang, he’s got to do what he’d like to do anyway: be nasty to the less competent, the less unpopular, the less male. He’s so brilliant in so many ways, it would be easy to despise mediocrity. He’s … not exactly likeable, unlike Lily, so he’d fight any instinct he might have had to like nice people; and having been rejected by the only girl (only person, maybe?) he’s ever loved, why would he look with any favour on females (who might be like Lily) or indeed males (who might, equally, be like James, Sirius and Lupin)?

    This puts Tonks, poor woman, at a threefold disadvantage. She does drop things, she’s attractive and lovable and very fem, and at this point she’s deep in unrequited love, a subject on which Snape is a reluctant expert. What a relief for him to be able to look like 100% Voldy’s man and enjoy being nasty to innocent victims, also known as horrid little ordinary people, at the same time!

    Not wishing to idealise Snape, who is a sh*t and a half … but I sometimes wonder if his nastiness isn’t a vote of confidence in the innocent and the ordinary, in an inverted way. Without the aid of the most competent wizard available, who is actually working against them with at least one hand, they come out on top after all, in the end.

  18. Nicve thing about unrequited love, Deborah! I hadn’t seen it that way…
    About Snape using a contradiction, I don’t think that he cares. It’s obvious he’s comparing Harry’s lateness with James, though he now knows that Harry himself would rather dissapear under his cloak, heving been around the boy for 6 years. It’s actually quite funny, because he actually points out that Harry is different from his father. Though that doesn’t mean that he forgives Harry for having James as his father…

  19. Thinking on what everyone has posted: I think one reason Snape is so mean to TOnks is because he’s sort of relishing that she is facing unrequited love-same as he did. He’s so bitter about never winning Lily’s love that when he sees how devastated Tonks is (and has probably watched her falling in love with Lupin at Order meetings) that he sort of enjoys her despair. When Tonks was at school, he was probably quite indifferent to her-he is not one to really compliment anyone except maybe his own house.

    Another reason I think Snape hates Harry so much is that Harry represents all that Snape never got to have. I think it’s beyond his hatred of James, although that does count for quite a lot. Harry shows Snape every single day what he never had. Snape most likely knows about the protection Lily gave her son when she died, and that contributes to his bitterness as well Then every time he looks into Harry eyes, he sees the love of his life’s eyes. We see in this book how much Harry’s eyes startle Slughorn, so imagine how Snape feels every time he looks into Harry’s eyes. It must hurt Snape so much to look at Harry: he looks almost exactly like his worst enemy, but with the love of his life’s eyes-what excellent writing by JKR. BTW-I am no fan of Snape! Just thinking about how well thought out this entire series is.

  20. All right, here’s a potential theory for Snape’s treatment of Tonks. It’s one that just struck me, so it’s not entirely well thought out.

    First off, notice what he calls her. Nymphadora. He refers to almost everyone by their surname, so either he’s being incredibly petty (she doesn’t like her first name and WANTS to be called by her surname) or he likes her. She was an outstanding student, she’s talented in other ways, she’s got a sense of humor, etc. etc. She might have been a favored student and he a favored teacher.

    And let’s look at Tonks’ reaction to Snape’s comment. Shock and anger. Snape was belittling her patronus, her unrequited love… but wait. He KNEW about her unrequited love? He recognized the werewolf as Moony? How much contact has he had with Tonks since this started, to realize what was going on?

    Is it possible that Tonks actually told Snape herself? As a favored teacher of hers, perhaps she still looks up to him a bit for advice and such things, and yes, he is an unpleasant man, but not if you get to know him. So back before she turned mousey and her patronus changed, she asked for his advice. He was, after all, one of Remus’ classmates at school. Maybe he knew something about Remus that could help her pursuit. And Snape tried to discourage her. He thought that was that, but now that he’s seen her again, seen what a mess she’s become over Remus, seen her patronus (and if he already knows she’s in love with Remus, it’s easy to identify her werewolf as that werewolf in particular). Snape knows what unrequited love has done to him, and he isn’t a heartless man–Lily was his friend for so long, he had to have SOME sort of heart. The thing is, Snape has no experience caring for people. It’s been a long time since Lily, and he’s hidden his heart behind walls of malice and spite. He wants to warn Tonks away from her unrequited love, but he does not have the people skills. So he tries in the only way he knows how to relate to people–he insults her patronus, insults her beloved, insults her love. And he does so with great malice (can’t forget Snape is exceptional at making people think he’s on one side or the other. Malice he can do easily) to impress upon her the seriousness of what he’s saying. This isn’t a light jab between friends, this is important. Remus is a mistake.

    Of course, Tonks, who DOES have people skills, doesn’t take it that way. She takes it at face value, shocked and angry that Snape, someone she had always been on good terms with, had been so cruel to her.

    And on a completely unrelated note, on the next page, Harry knew that Snape had come to fetch him for the few minutes when he could needle and torment Harry without anyone listening. But Snape was quiet for quite a bit of the walk; Harry was simply hating him for the events of last year, and furthermore, Snape was probably sent by Dumbledore to make sure everything really was okay. I doubt he would have volunteered to leave and be late for the feast himself, especially when this is the year he finally became the DADA professor.

  21. Ooh, thanks Roonil Wazlib. Not exactly a baby chick, but still. ;)

    Something else that occurred to me; does anyone find it particularly observant of Harry to pick up on Tonks being lovesick rather than blaming herself for Sirius’ death? None of the kids have been in the order meetings like Molly and Snape, so I can’t expect them to be very knowledgeable at first, but I’m kind of impressed that it’s Harry –rather than, say, Hermione, who diagnosed and explained Cho’s unhappiness in fifth year– who figured it out. He’s never been through that pain himself, but he saw Cho struggle the previous year, and seems to have gained some understanding.

  22. Harry’s insight in general is developing in this book. He realizes that Draco has become a Death Eater, which Hermione, Ron, and Mr. Weasley are not willing to consider. I think his increased insight in this book serves to prepare us for his remarkable flashes of insight in book 7.

  23. By the way, Harry’s insight is a lot better than mine. In spite of all the broad hints, I never figured out why Tonks was so unhappy until the reason was spelled out in chapter 29. :-)

  24. Sorry to be nitpicky (if that’s the word) and off topic, but it bothers me that the first picture doesn’t show Tonks depressed, as she should be at this point.

  25. Mickey, it bothers me too. But I really needed a picture of Tonks, and of the 3,000,000 or so Tonks portraits I’ve seen, I have yet to see a single one with hair that isn’t a bright color. Ultimately I decided I preferred the picture (the most muted hair I could come up with) to leaving the gap in the story.

    For what it’s worth, I make about 5-10 decisions like this per chapter. But if all the drawings were perfect canon, it would mean I had drawn them all, and NOBODY would want to look at THAT website. ;)

  26. I agree – Snape was given the DADA position primarily because he was now expendable and it was time to hasten his exit from Hogwarts.

    Eliza, Tonks is most clutzy when she’s nervous (she falls over umbrellas when Lupin’s around; she makes noises in her final tracking exam). If she were a competent potioneer, she might be quite confident and smooth-moving in the potions laboratory.

    And, yes, Snape needles Tonks because he is outraged that anyone could love Lupin, and it’s obvious from Order meetings and her new Patronus that she does.

    Roonil Wazlib, nice work on the ferret – I didn’t know. I wonder what that means, given her first cousin also has ferrety connections? The Patronus takes the form of one’s Protector. For Harry, it’s his father; for Hermione, it’s Ron; for Snape, it’s Lily (his moral protection as she was his only avenue of love); for Luna, it’s the moon’s animal, the hare; for Tonks, it’s become Lupin. So how is the ferret related to her OLD protector? Something in the Black family??

  27. Hermione about Dumbledores hand: “It looks as if it’s died.” She has no idea how right she is.

  28. Snape most likly gets rude over patronus because he veiws Remus as weak so since her patronus reflects Remus it is also weak in his eyes

  29. Here’s something that struck me this time…why is Harry so upset that he is on the Hogwarts Express heading back to King’s Cross? I mean, yes, he’s been beat up and he’s been frozen in place. But a skilled wizard (Dumbledore, if not McGonagall, etc.) could come and pick him up by side-along apparition in a second. He wouldn’t have to ride all the way back on the train.

  30. Anna, I agree. And we don’t know how long Draco’s curse would have lasted, but it certainly would have worn off well before the train got back to London. That’s an all-day trip. Once he was able to move again, he could have gone up front and spoken to the driver or the lunch lady, who could have sent a message to Hogwarts. But Harry is angry, frightened, humiliated, and in pain, so in the few minutes before Tonks shows up he’s not thinking very clearly.

  31. Spider, I don’t know if I agree with your whole theory, but I definitely think that at least part of what Snape was doing was trying to warn Tonks away from loving Lupin. In some weird way.

  32. Jennifer C.- Good point about how Harry being a constant source of torment for Snape because of his outward resemblance to James (a constant source of torture to Snape during their school years, which are undoubtedly the years that tend to shape us as adults) and his eyes, which are Lily’s eyes. I’ve noticed in the books how eyes are a recurrently important feature in many of the characters. This scenario Rowling’s cooked up about Harry looking exactly like James, but having Lily’s eyes is brilliant. It makes you feel kind of sad for Snape because imagine how that must feel: You’ve got your old school bully back in the form of his son, but it’s also the love of your life’s son and her eyes are watching you.

  33. Snape being DADA teacher makes sense: The job is jinxed, so that’s why Dumbledore mrefused him the job (partially). Since he would be going anyway, why not give it to him?

  34. ———-Spoilers are here————

    @Snape’s rudeness to Tonks: 1. He probally was fine with Tonks prior to her loving Lupin. He HATED the marauders and seems to hate those who are associated with them. 2. People hate the things they see in themselves. He loved Lily and didn’t receive her love. He sees himself in Tonks. 3. Snape just enjoys being an a**. Plain and simple.

    (Edited by moderator for language and politeness 9/5)

  35. Not sure if someone mentioned this but didn’t Dumbledore appoint Snape as the DADA professor because Harry couldn’t take his Potions class without an O on his OWLS, but he could take Slughorn’s class. Wasn’t Dumbledore helping Harry achieve his dream of being an Auror? That’s how I always saw it.

  36. Hmm. I’m pretty sure by now you should realize that Snape is not a friendly person. And regardless of whether that person used to be in Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Gryffindor, their probably going to get smack from him.

  37. @ the boy who lived-part: I think Snape knows deep down that Harry isn’t a show-off and really wants to hide under the cloak. However, that same cloak and Harry’s appearance do make him look like another raven-haired nemesis of Snape. . .

  38. There is a quote by Harry in this chapter: “Personally, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for another death.” Be carefull what you wish for Harry.

  39. Hmm, regarding Snape’s new DADA post.. I think that maybe it was kind of a reward for Snape’s loyalty, among other things. I mean from the memories, we know how hard it was for Snape to agree to kill Dumbledore, so I think Dumbledore was recognizing that and finally letting Snape teach DADA.

    But of course Dumbledore has his other reasons as well, such as Slughorn.

  40. Nat, two other reasons: Slughorn and the fact that Dumbledore knows he’ll be dying this year, so will no longer need Snape’s services as a spy. I think the main reason Snape hasn’t been allowed to teach DADA in the past is because of the curse on the position. Dumbledore needed Snape at Hogwarts.

  41. Josie, oh I’m definitely not not disagreeing with that. Dumbledore and his plans. (:

    But I think I worded that wrong. I meant that Dumbledore probably didn’t factor that into his decision per se, but I like to he would have recognized it as a sort of unintended reward for Snape.

    I guess I might just like to think that Dumbledore wasn’t all maniplulative and plotting. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean he is a genius, but maybe he was also trying to be kind.

    Does that make more sense? I guess it’s not very important, just a small thought I had while rereading. I’m just fascinated by Dumbledore and Snape’s relationship.

  42. Oh I meant to say that “I like to think he would have recognized…” I left out a word, oops!

  43. Did anyone else notice that snape is rude to tonks about her patronous as it takes the form of someone she loves, but snape himself has a patronous that does the exact same? Maybe instead of empathizing with tonks, snape (being snape) chooses to ridicule her instead because it reminds him of his OWN loss?

  44. spunky, I love that point, I’d never thought of it before. It makes Snape’s comment that Tonks’s patronus looks “weak” especially interesting – really, a werewolf in the form of the person I love is weak? How about a doe in the form of the person you love who died over a decade ago, jerk?

  45. @spunky: excellent point! It reminds me of the bully mentality–mock your own weakness in others to hide it in yourself.

  46. (SPOILERS)
    About Snape finally teaching DADA, Dumbledore knows that this is his last year at Hogwarts (as he’s going to die). He also knows that as soon as that happens, his students are not going to be safe anymore. They need to be trained, and who would know more about what they’re going to need to be trained for than the Dark Lord’s most trusted Death Eater?

  47. I think it says something about Snape that Harry is escorted to the school BY AN AUROR, with BLOOD ALL OVER HIS FACE, and Snape sneers that he wanted to make an entrance. And takes points. And is quite obviously not sorry that Sirius is dead. How can you love this guy?

  48. On Dumbledore’s withered hand: I’d heard before I began reading “Half-Blood Prince” that somebody important would die in the book, and the hand was one reason why I suspected that it would be Dumbledore. It was a big surprise when I read “Deathly Hallows” and discovered that it was even more of a death-omen than I’d thought!

  49. I think Dumbledore had a shrewed idea of Voldy’s curse on the position after all these years of 1 year tenures of DADA teachers. I think Snape got DADA job this year because Dumbledore knew he had one year to live and Snape had to be the one to kill him. So he could give this role to him.

    I wonder what is Snape teaching in DH??

  50. I don’t think Snape taught anything during DH; he’s Headmaster! Dumbledore didn’t have any formal classes, either. :)

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