It's a Matter of Trust
An original editorial by Nicoletta
Question by Ali: Why, specifically, does Dumbledore trust Snape?
Answer from JKR: ...I shall merely say that Snape has given Dumbledore
his story and Dumbledore believes it.
A question that has been burning in Snape-lovers and Snape-haters alike: why
does Dumbledore trust Snape? We can't give an answer; at least, we can't give
an exact answer. One can always speculate.
The best place to start is, of course, Snape's past. From Harry's experience
in Occlumency and from the Pensieve, we know quite a bit about Snape. We know
his past was not the happiest, he had his fair share of enemies, and he was
quite lonely. Snape was an angry teen and, most likely, for many reasons.
If his childhood did reflect his decision to become a Deatheater, a sample
piece of evidence is:
'... a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired
boy cried in the corner.' (pg. 592 of OotP, US version)
That excerpt was when Harry had an Occlumency lesson with Snape and somehow
broke into his thoughts. This evidence suggests that Snape had an abusive father.
Maybe the abuse was mainly directed to his mother, however, Snape could have
received some of it as well. From this, inner turmoil and all that good stuff
could have been born and maybe Snape became a Death Eater to escape his pain.
But, let's get back on topic. Why does Dumbledore trust Snape? Well, after
Snape had been a Death Eater, something must have happened; something so horrific
or life-altering that Snape would seek Dumbledore's aid.
There are quite a few points in the books where Snape has said that Dumbledore
trusts him. And the way he says it, for example, in Harry Potter and the Goblet
of Fire, pg. 472: ' "Dumbledore happens to trust me," said Snape
through clenched teeth...' Let me remind you he's talking to 'Moody'. He
says it through clenched teeth, almost like the fact that Moody doesn't trust
him and Dumbledore does is just... well, it makes him angry. Dumbledore's trust
means a great deal to Snape, and this is clear. If Snape's intentions were insincere,
I doubt that someone basically insulting Dumbledore's judgment of himself would
irk him in any way.
We also can conclude that Snape began teaching at Hogwarts when Harry was one
year old (pg. OotP, US version.) However, pre or post Voldemort's killing spree
on the Potters is uncertain. Perhaps this has something to do with why Dumbledore
trusts Snape. If Snape had come to Dumbledore before the incident, to warn him,
Dumbledore might have trusted Snape for the information he gave. Dumbledore
would definitely be more inclined to trust Snape.
But what If he came to Dumbledore after Voldemort killed the Potter's? Chances
are, because Snape was a Death Eater, he already knew about this and he knew
why Voldemort had to kill them. So I think it is safe to assume Snape went to
Dumbledore before the Potters were murdered. Remember how Snape always feels
so obligated to James. My thinking is: Snape went to Dumbledore before Voldemort
killed Harry's parents. It would make so much more sense.
Summary: Something happened in Snape's life to make him want to escape his
grief and join the ranks of a Death Eater. When Harry was a tot, Snape found
out that Voldemort was going to kill the Potters and about the prophecy. So,
Snape went and told Dumbledore, gaining his trust and with it, a burden. Dumbledore
trusts Snape because of Snape's honest turnabout. JKR has also said herself
that she doesn't believe anyone was born evil, so there is some good in Snape,
as we should well know by now.
So there's a brief theory on why Dumbledore trusts Snape. However, we'll never
know how it really went down until Mrs. Rowling tells us herself. (Which hopefully