Felix Felicis: Understanding Severus’s Innocence
Among the wild speculations about Harry being a Horcrux, Dumbledore rising from the ashes like his beloved Fawkes, and Ron and Hermione’s blossoming relationship, one subject above all occupies the minds of Half-Blood Prince readers: Severus Snape.
Is he really the murderous traitor his actions make him out to be, or is he, as the new Minister of Magic would put it, “Dumbledore’s man through and through”? There are two basic camps on this one: people who take Snape’s actions in Half-Blood Prince at face value and say, “Hey, he killed Dumbledore, he must be evil,” and those who read deeper, trying to find some hope to cling to in the belief that Severus Snape isn’t such a bad dude after all. I’m of the latter variety, and while I recognize that a lot of people have already made very coherent arguments in Snape’s favor, I’m going to try to add another: namely, that Snape’s innocence can be proven by the use of Felix Felicis. But first, a brief overview of the many reasons I think Snape is innocent.
The scene of the murder, picture it clearly: Dumbledore is weak – dying, perhaps – and needs Professor Snape to cure him. Draco bursts on the scene, talking about killing Dumbledore but never actually doing it, and then a fleet of Death Eaters shows up, followed by Professor Snape.
For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading.
[…] ‘Severus . . . please . . .’
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.
‘Avada Kedavra!'” (595–596)
Well, that seemed pretty straightforward, but for one weird thing: Dumbledore is not the type to beg for his life. After all, “to the well-organized mind,” (and his is certainly well organized), “death is but the next great adventure.” So why would Dumbledore plead if he’s unafraid of dying? Because there is more at stake here than his life.
Dumbledore knows of the Unbreakable Vow because Harry told him (and Snape may have also). He knows that if Snape does not kill him, Snape will die. And if Snape dies, Dumbledore will die anyway because Snape is the only one who can cure him. There’s no point in the two most important Order members dying, so Dumbledore begs Snape to kill him. There’s also the oh-so-important fact that Dumbledore trusts Snape, and if that’s good enough for Dumbledore, it may be good enough for the rest of us.
Still not convinced?
This is where Felix Felicis comes in. We know from Professor Slughorn that the drinker of Felix Felicis will “find that all your endeavors tend to succeed” (HBP 187). We also know that Ginny, Ron, and Hermione all drank Felix Felicis the night of Dumbledore’s death. So when Ron says, “I messed up, Harry,” and tells him how he let Draco and the Death Eaters pass, I wondered, how could something so unlucky happen to the drinker of liquid luck? Hermione joins in, saying that she was stupid not to realize that Snape had Stupefied Professor Flitwick. But for someone waiting to catch Snape betraying the Order, how could liquid luck not help her out? The answer to both of these is that Felix Felicis was working to Ron and Hermione’s advantage.
Dumbledore knew about the Unbreakable Vow and knew that Draco or Snape must kill him in order for Snape to live. He had ordered Snape to kill him when the time arose. This being the case, Snape never betrayed the Order at all. So Hermione wouldn’t have stopped him because he was on her side the whole time. The same goes for Ron; he didn’t stop Draco and the Death Eaters because it would have interfered with Dumbledore’s plan to have Snape kill him.
Maybe that sounds a little far-fetched, but we know that Felix Felicis works, so if Ron and Hermione really did mess up as they say they did, none of it makes sense. So the question is, how much faith do we have in the power of potions? If it’s much at all, we have to trust that Felix Felicis was indeed working its magic to the benefit of all who used it and that their endeavors did succeed.
They wanted to protect their friends from danger, and they wanted to make sure that Snape didn’t do anything he shouldn’t do. And that’s exactly what happened. Dumbledore died for the Order, and to save its most important member, and he did not die in vain. The Half-Blood Prince will continue with Dumbledore’s orders, whether the Order of the Phoenix believes it or not. All manner of theories and observations point to it, and now we have the support of cold, hard logic to defend it. If we believe in Felix Felicis, we can believe only one thing: Severus Snape is innocent.