The Phoenix Files: Folder #10: Severus Snape (Part Three)

By Christopher Stephen

Hi everyone. This is going to be my last entry for the File of Severus Snape. You will all, of course, have the opportunity to add your own ideas and thoughts after I re-open the Folder (well after the publication of HBP). Today, we’re going to discuss Snape’s magical abilities and the way they can affect the final war between Voldemort and Harry.

The bottom line is we don’t know much about Snape: which side he’s really on, who he’s spying for and against, what secrets he may be holding. What we do know, however, is that he is an excellent wizard (he’s a teacher at Hogwarts, I mean, that’s a giv— well, there was Lockhart…).

“I am Snape, the Potions Master.” — Potter Puppet Pals.

We know that Snape is the professor of Potions at Hogwarts, and we know he’s pretty darn good at making them. The Wolfsbane Potion, for instance, that he made (reluctantly) for Lupin during Harry’s Third Year, was very complicated. Lupin said there weren’t many wizards up to the task of doing it – though that could simply be because they don’t like werewolves. Still, Veritaserum and other powerful potions are not simple to make.

So Snape knows how to make great potions – so what? Well, in the Potterverse, potions often allow drinkers to do things they are unable to do with charms and other branches of magic (or simply makes it easier). For example, the Polyjuice Potion’s effects are unable to be replicated (though a Metamorphmagus like Tonks could probably come pretty close). Harry and Company brewed a Shrinking Solution that, instead of making the drinker smaller in size, seemed to take a few years off its life (Trevor the Tadpole).

Using this knowledge, Snape might be able to “put a stopper in death” for Harry, Dumbledore, or even himself. It is possible that he already has used his knowledge of potions to his advantage in the spy game.

Snape also has continually applied for the Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) professor position, though his knowledge in this area is somewhat less extensive. He incorrectly tells Lupin’s class in PoA that kappas are found in Mongolia (when it is a Japanese water demon, according to Fantastic Beasts). We do know from Sirius and Lupin, however, that Snape knew a bunch about the Dark Arts before he ever came to Hogwarts – even more than some seventh years! It seems Snape might have come from a family even more Dark than Sirius, perhaps more Malfoy-like than Black-like. Police and detectives often use the phrase “think like a criminal” to help solve crimes. Similarly, having Snape on the “good” side will benefit Dumbledore and Harry because he knows what is going on inside their twisted minds.

Finally, Snape is a skilled Occlumens, and is at least capable of Legilimency (Lcy). This is the main reason why Snape’s true loyalties are impossible to determine. With his mastery of Ocy, he can block out skilled Legilimens such as Voldemort (and presumably Dumbledore). Hence why “Lord Voldemort always knows.” His skills at Lcy and Ocy are probably one of the main reasons he has survived over ten years as a double-agent. In the future, however, it is possible that these aptitudes may be discovered by Voldemort (if they haven’t been already), and that could put Snape in very mortal danger (“unless he can turn into a bat or something”).

I know Part Three was short, but so is the amount of time before the release of HBP! I look forward to joining thousands of you in reading it on Sunday, July 17, 2005. Have a great week.

Keep your eyes open for TPF #13, that of the Half-Blood Prince!!

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at christopherstephened at hotmail dot com. Hate mail? E-mail me using the Feedback form for “Hate Mail.” Thanks for reading TPF!!