After Voldemort's fall, the wizarding world erupts with joy. People seem to have forgotten that
a beautiful, redheaded witch lost her life, evidently protecting her son, according to Dumbledore.
Snape spares barely a thought for James, or for the Longbottoms, who meet their fate shortly
after the Potters were killed. In fact, he loathes the Longbottom brat as much as the Potter boy.
So much trouble these two boys have cost him! And he is bound to Potter's son forever now. At
least he isn't bound to Longbottom, he thinks maliciously. That is one baby he doesn't have to
care or worry about. But he doesn't forget Lily, nor does he let go of the Unbreakable Vow. He
knows that Lily carefully bound him to her son for life - even in the event of her own death.
Dumbledore tells him that Harry is well protected for the next ten years, by Lily's special
sacrifice and abundant love. Lily's love goes beyond the specific sacrifice at the fatal moment
in Godric's Hollow. Her love protection began when she demanded protection from Snape, not for
herself, but for her son. This mysterious love-induced protection will keep Harry safe for now.
With Voldemort defeated, what Severus must do now is reestablish himself as a respectable member
of society. His commitment to Harry will come later. Of course, Dumbledore already fears a
Horcrux, perhaps more than one. He also fears that Voldemort is not gone for good, but he doesn't
share this with Snape.
Things aren't easy for Snape. He is branded as a Death Eater. Many want him dead. He is hated
by the other Order members, who mistrust and avoid him. Only Dumbledore stands up for him, and
he cannot help but know that even Dumbledore's trust is based on the Vow, and not any real belief
in Snape. Then again, Snape himself doesn't know what to think of his own behavior and situation.
He is cleared of all charges, and there is no doubt that it is Dumbledore's doing. Snape sees
the difference between Voldemort and Dumbledore. If he had betrayed the Dark Lord the way he
betrayed Dumbledore, he would not be alive. Yet Dumbledore has secured him his freedom and a job.
Snape isn't sure what to think of Dumbledore. He is grateful for the good fortune he has found
with the Headmaster, but dubious about Dumbledore's openness and ability to forgive. Is it a
sign of strength or weakness? Severus is undecided.
As much as he has always hated Sirius Black, even Snape is shocked that it was Sirius who betrayed
the Potters. It goes to show that he was right about the traitor all along. He feels a perverse
sense of justification for all his years of hatred and resentment, and he hopes that Black rots
in Azkaban. He sees Sirius as the reason that Lily died, and his hatred for Black takes on a new
level of vitriol, even worse than his schoolboy hatred. The subject of Sirius Black is the one
thing that can threaten Severus Snape's austere control. He loses all sense of reason when Black
is mentioned. His hatred is absolute.
His teaching years are not exactly what he might have hoped for. Each year, the DADA professor
seems to leave for some unknown reason. Each year Severus applies for the post and each year he
returns to his Potions classroom disappointed. The students are more foolish than ever. The job
is cushy enough... He is safe from most resentful and suspicious eyes. He is well fed and
relatively safe. But he is not finding that power and respect that he always longed for.
He uses the small empire of his classroom to force others to bend to his will. He has control
over the students, and this he loves. It is the first time in his life when he is the one meting
out punishments and rewards, and it gives him satisfaction and an outlet for his fury and
frustration over the outcome of his life so far. For ten years, he slogs through his daily
responsibilities, trying to be grateful for what he has, and also venting his anger and
disappointment on every poor student to cross his classroom threshold.
He is in contact with Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, who also escaped retribution for their
contributions to Voldemort's cause. In fact, Snape is seen as particularly clever by the Malfoys,
for having not only escaped Azkaban, but also "duping" Albus Dumbledore.
It is Lucius who first brings up the fact that, like his own son, Draco, the Potter boy will
soon start Hogwarts. Snape must keep close watch on him, says Lucius. He might be a very great
Dark Lord himself. If so, he'll need proper control by the right people at an early age. Draco
is encouraged to get to know and befriend him, to encourage the boy to seek his destiny in
Slytherin. Snape's insides twist in a way that they haven't since Lily's death. His Vow is
about to be re-ignited. Who will this boy be, to whom he is bound for life, against his will?
At the welcoming feast that September, Snape is talking to the annoying and obviously incompetent
new DADA professor when he looks across the room and sees James Potter. His stomach seems to
drop to the floor. He stares, an old hatred forming itself in his heart. The boy looks at him
and from across the room he sees Lily's vibrant eyes, reminding him of his Vow. His hatred swells
up and almost overwhelms him. He looks away as the boy continues staring at him.
What sort of punishment is this? He must protect the son of one of his worst enemies, the exact
image of the father who used to torment Severus and who was the cause of countless humiliations.
And, in case he should forget, or decide that nothing in life is worth bearing that sentence,
Lily's eyes will find him out in the person of her son, and torment him further, reminding him of
The Sorting Hat takes a long time. Snape thinks... perhaps... perhaps if he is sorted into
Slytherin... That would certainly support the idea of his dark powers. And Snape himself could
exert more influence over the boy... But it isn't meant to be. After long consideration, the
Hat shouts, "Gryffindor!" And Harry hurries to his new housemates to the sound of thunderous
applause. Snape's insides are turning again, but this time it is resentment, not conscience,
that is stirring him.
He follows Lucius' advice, though and tries to assess this brat. He soon deems (though unaware
of or unwilling to see his own prejudices) that Harry is average or even below: a nobody. Not
worth saving, not worth sacrificing for... and completely Snape's responsibility. His outrage
over his duty to Harry results in even more vile abuse of poor Neville, who has the misfortune
not to be the subject of an Unbreakable Vow on Snape's part.
He struggles for over three and a half years between his innate hatred for Harry and a desire to
cause him every bit of difficulty and pain that he can, and the unwilling but necessary
interventions when Harry is in danger, or when Dumbledore deems it is so. Snape comes to his aid,
resentfully, when required. And each interaction only hardens his hatred. Still, Lily's eyes
continue to remind him of his vow, and he is not ready to part company with life yet. He does
what he must, and looks forward to the day when Harry is a grown man, out of Hogwarts and,
hopefully, out of Snape's life.
Sirius' escape at the end of Harry's third year is almost too much for Snape. Not only is Black
alive and free, but also he has attached himself to Potter, and the stupid boy has aligned
himself with Snape's worst living enemy.
But at the end of Harry's fourth year, Snape knows that something even more major is happening
regarding the Dark Lord. Dumbledore is cautious, and Snape clearly feels his Dark Mark tingling...
sees it getting clearer. Karkaroff knows it too. Snape is careful, as always, and waits to find
out what will happen, refusing to give in to panic. As usual, Harry is up to things that he will
not tell anyone about. Snape hates this about the boy. How is he supposed to protect him, when
Potter is always out of bounds, and the Headmaster allows him to get away with it? Since Potter
arrived at Hogwarts, Snape finds himself up at all hours of the night, patrolling hallways and
trying to keep tabs on his ungrateful young charge. It's simply untenable.
Still, year four is a relief. That horror, Moody, is here and seems eager to take over Potter's
protection. Snape is only too happy to oblige and distances himself as much as possible. Still,
when his boomslang skin goes missing, his suspicions are aroused, and no one will listen to him.
His nerves are strained to the limit while he awaits the outcome of this seemingly endless second
coming of the Dark Lord. Then he feels it, during the third task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament -
the Dark Mark burns hot, and he knows... Voldemort is back. He cannot get to Dumbledore now, and
he doesn't dare leave the grounds and Apparate away to Voldemort. He waits, strain nearly
tearing him apart.
Then Harry and Cedric appear, and pandemonium breaks out at Hogwarts as it becomes clear that
Cedric is dead. As Snape and the other teachers attempt to keep order on the grounds, Dumbledore
suddenly yells for Severus and Minerva. Harry is missing. Dumbledore has called for Moody, but
he is also missing. The Headmaster knows that something is very wrong, and tears off with
Minerva and Severus on his heels. They all hear Crouch, Jr.'s Veritaserum-induced confession,
and there can be no more room for doubt. Voldemort is back, and Severus has disobeyed a direct
order to return to his side. He is now a marked man. And with Voldemort back, Harry's life will
be in ever more grave danger.
When Dumbledore asks him to go back into Voldemort's service, Snape feels somewhat sick, not to
mention resentful. Like so many, he believed that his former master was long gone. While his
life was hardly perfect, it was, at least, relatively danger-free. Now, he must Apparate to the
Dark Lord - late - and take the consequences. Dumbledore speaks of 'asking' Severus to do this,
but they both know Severus has very little choice in the matter. He is sworn to obey Dumbledore.
He bites back what he would like to say when asked to forgive and forget with Sirius, and strides
off to his fate, which he knows will be unthinkable unless he can do a very convincing job of
He comes up with a plausible story for Voldemort - mostly the truth, which helps give it
believability. He was caught with Dumbledore, as everyone awaited the end of the tournament.
He couldn't suddenly run to Hogsmeade and Disapparate without losing his cover. And if, as he
sincerely hoped, the Dark Lord had risen again, he would need Snape safely placed with Dumbledore
more than ever. Snape uses Occlumency, Voldemort accepts his story, and Snape is, once again, a
The following year is fraught with complications. Voldemort is obsessing about the Prophecy, and
blaming Snape for not hearing it correctly. Snape reminds him that he only heard part of it,
before being taken away. Voldemort wants the rest. They will go to the Hall of Prophecy and
steal the Ministry record. Snape dutifully reports this plan to the Order, which goes into
action to protect the Prophecy. The wizarding world ignores Voldemort's return, Harry is getting
harder and harder to control, and Snape knows there is a lot that Dumbledore doesn't tell him
either. Life has, again, escaped his control, and if there is one thing that Severus must have,
it is control.
By the end of the year, Snape is exhausted from his careful compartmentalizing of stories and
excuses (including navigating Ministry Toady Umbridge), and from the strain of trying to teach
hopeless, unbearable Potter to close his mind. But he's still in one piece and so is Harry. Yes,
there is a scare when Harry doesn't come out of the forest. He waits and waits, hoping to
question the boy further. He is certain that he has understood Potter's mangled message. But
Black is fine, safe and sound as usual, in #12 Grimmauld Place, while everyone else risks life
and limb for the Order. When the sun goes down and Harry is still not back, Snape begins to
realize that others are missing too... Longbottom, the Weasleys, Lovegood... and Granger, who
went with Harry into the forest. Surely, they could not have found a way to leave the school?
That would not be possible for a bunch of fourth and fifth year students. He hasn't heard
anything from Voldemort either, which is very disconcerting. If there is a plan, he is unaware
of it. Finally, he gives in to his suspicions and contacts Order members. Dumbledore orders him
to stay put. This is impossible! How is he supposed to protect the boy if he can't go along?
He does as he is told, and things work out better than he could have hoped. Potter is saved by
Dumbledore, Voldemort does not hear the Prophecy, and Black is killed. Jackpot. Snape finishes
Harry's fifth year exhausted, but hopeful that he can continue his ruse and survive.