Severus Snape: What It Means to Love

Professor Severus Snape went from one of our most loathed characters, a character Harry, Ron, and Hermione couldn’t stand, to one of the most loved. Harry even names one of his children after him. (Definitely didn’t see that one coming upon reading Book 1.) But why?

Most of us, especially avid rereaders of the series, should be able to answer: Love. But I want to dig a little deeper here. Love is a main theme of the books, but as readers, I feel we experience that transforming love like no other in our own change of feelings for Snape.

My view of Snape changed upon his death, upon entering his mind and learning “The Prince’s Tale.” Snape, for all he did wrong to Harry, loved. He loved with such power and force that he was able to lay aside his hatred for James Potter – the boy who won Lily Evans from him – and die to save the son who looked exactly like James (except for the eyes).

Wait. Hold up a minute. Did I miss something? (Anxiously riffles through Deathly Hallows.) Snape died for Harry?

Yes.

The moment Dumbledore died, Snape had no obligation to keep his promise to protect Harry. His secret love of Lily had gone with the man he made the promise to. It was his love of Lily that kept him to the promise he had made to Dumbledore – to protect Harry at all costs. His love for Lily drove him to ensure Harry received the real sword while keeping it from Bellatrix’s vault. His love for Lily drove him not to change his loyalty for Voldemort’s sake, for his own well being. And when he died, he had no obligation to pass on the memories to Harry. He died for Harry – his enemy – by dedicating his life to keeping him safe because of his love for Lily.

That is what it means to love. That is the power of love. Love changes us. Love changed Snape from Death Eater to saver of lives- all lives.

He saved Hermione, the Muggle-born, in Half-Blood Prince by keeping her from the fight in the castle. He saved Draco by killing Dumbledore, and became an enemy to all those who had become his friends. And he saved Harry by defying the master he originally chose over Lily – his plans to become a Death Eater are what spurred Lily to end her friendship with him for good.

Snape became the wizard we love, who even Harry loved, because of the woman he loved – the woman who also gave her life for Harry and defied Voldemort.

Love, especially sacrificial love, is a magic that even Muggles are capable of. It is living, and even dying in extreme situations, so that others might have a better life.

Martin Luther King, Jr. lived and died for all races to stand side-by-side in equality. President Lincoln lived and died to end slavery. And those of Christian faith believe Christ lived and died for everyone’s freedom from death.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

– Jesus

Lily did it. James did it. Dumbledore did it. Fred did it. Lupin and Tonks did it. Harry did it. Snape did it.

Love has the power to change everything if we will first let it change us.