Things That Make You Go “Hmmm…”

by RJ Lupin’s Kat

“Where to begin?” I ask myself upon looking at the screen before me, nearly void of lettering and meaningful phrases. “The Beginning” is typically the logical answer, but to do so would take far too much time and mental capacity, neither of which I have in excess these days.

In summary, I just wanted to bring up a few points that either I have missed others stating themselves, or in truth no one has shouted out to everyone, “Hey, did you notice…?” Primarily it is a single cryptic point, but there are related issues I simply want to reinforce as well.

First, a preface, if I may. My one and only brag: before HBP was released and everyone was guessing who the Prince was, I immediately said, “Severus Snape” — gut instinct, if you will. Past that, I’’m not much on predictions, but over my many years I’’ve acquired an understanding of human nature. More on that later.

My primary subject — the main issue that made me go “hmmm” — I noticed upon my first perusing of Half-Blood Prince, directly upon reading the passage. Upon finishing the book, I added even more to my stash of conspiracy theories. Now, having finally finished my first re-read (hangs head in shame for such tardiness), I am shocked at never noticing anyone bringing this information up. Now, please forgive me if it is merely an oversight, as I cannot read every editorial posted. If I have simply overlooked such, let me know. Otherwise, on with the theory……

Madam Pince. A seemingly background character, lurking in the ancient tome-ridden library at Hogwarts for these past six novels. But is there possibly a greater significance to her presence? Might she be……

In the library, when Hermione and Harry are discussing Romilda Vane’’s obsessive interest in Harry, they hear Madam Pince lurking around the nearby bookshelves:

They waited, and a moment later the vulturelike countenance of Madam Pince appeared around the corner, her sunken cheeks, her skin like parchment, and her long hooked nose illuminated unflatteringly by the lamp she was carrying.
(U.S. Ed. HBP: pg. 307-308; U.K. Adult Ed. HBP: pg. 288 )

Vulturelike? Long hooked nose? Sound familiar?

Continuing in the same passage, upon seeing Harry’’s (read: Snape’’s) Advanced Potions-Making text, the reserved librarian goes into a tizzy:

“–what have you been doing to that book, you depraved boy?…Despoiled! she hissed. “Desecrated! Befouled!”…She looked as though she might have a seizure…”

Now, I’’m obsessive about not writing in books — I’’ve even photocopied pages from college texts that I was supposed to write in just to leave them pristine — but even I wouldn’’t go into such a fit over a seemingly “normal” textbook having been written in. Her actions were just as incensed:

…as she lunged at it [the text] with a clawlike hand…[Harry was] tugging it out of her grip.

Honestly, is she that fanatical over someone else’’s, as Harry had stated, book having been written in? Not unless her reaction was one of recognition…

And if she recognized the book, it could be that “despoiled, desecrated and befouled” could be in reference to the spells and potions, and not the excessive ink on parchment itself.

My very first reaction upon reading this was not that she hated the scribbling, but that she recognized the book, and it sent her into a panic. But I wasn’’t sure how she recognized it until we learned later in the book:

The picture showed a skinny girl of around fifteen. She was not pretty; she looked simultaneously cross and sullen, with heavy brows and a long, pallid face…[she was] Eileen Prince…
(U.S. pg. 537; U.K. pg. 502)“Eileen Prince once own[ed] the book…she was Snape’’s mother!”
(U.S. pg. 637; U.K. pg. 593)

Any of this starting to make you ponder, make you go, “hmmm?”

Bear with me a moment longer. Madam Pince’’s physical descriptions sound quite like another dark, flying creature-esque character we know: our own batlike Professor Severus Snape. She had a bit of a conniption over said professor’s old text book. She also seems as reclusive and secretive as our dear double-agent. Professor Snape, whose mother was a Pince — er, Prince. Too close for comfort for me.

Mother, aunt, sister…all plausible at this point. Perhaps a link as to why Albus Dumbledore trusted Severus so emphatically?

So there, my big conspiracy theory. Consider it as you will, at your leisure. I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks.

Now, without getting into the melee of pro- vs. anti- Snape believers, there are a few interesting, side-note matters I wanted to bring up regarding Severus.

First, was it merely a coincidence that Harry wound up with his professor’’s old textbook? When Slughorn was procuring temporary texts for Ron and Harry during their first class of N.E.W.T. Potions:

Slughorn strode over to a corner cupboard, and, after a moment’’s foraging, emerged with two very battered-looking copies of Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage, which he gave to Harry and Ron…
(U.S. pg. 184; U.K. pp. 174-175)

“After a moment’’s foraging…” Did it really take him that long to grab two old books, or was he being particular about one of the copies? McGonagall had already informed him that Harry would need a book.

Remember, Slughorn was Head of Slytherin House as well as Potions instructor when Severus attended Hogwarts. As Hermione states:

“Slughorn would have recognized [Snape’’s] writing at once.”
(U.S. pg. 638; U.K. pg. 595)

Did Slughorn intentionally give Harry this copy? He crowed about how talented Severus was, so he would undoubtedly recall seeing similar “unusual” results from potions that did not quite follow textbook examples. Slughorn, in reviewing Harry’’s Potions talent to professors Trelawney and Snape:

“I’v’e only ever taught a few with this kind of ability, I can tell you that, Sybill — why even Severus — …never had a student produce finer on a first attempt, I don’t think even you, Severus–“
(U.S. pg. 319; U.K. pp. 298-299)

He would have known Severus’’ work. Hmmm…

Throughout HBP, Professor Snape is STILL teaching Harry, perhaps more effectively than ever before. Not in DADA, but in potions, spells and, most importantly, reminding him of the skill he needs to defeat Voldemort. Like him or not, Severus Snape is a talented wizard who is figuring strongly into Harry’’s education. Again, he is STILL teaching Harry.

…[Harry] was still having difficulty with nonverbal spells, something Snape had been quick to comment on in every D.A.D.A. class. On the other hand, the Prince had proved a much more effective teacher than Snape so far.
(U.S. pg. 239; U.K. pg. 224)

Hold onto that point of Snape’’s concerning nonverbal spells.

Harry points out to Hermione:

“I’’ve learned more from the Half-Blood Prince than Snape or Slughorn have taught me in–“
(U.S. pg. 305; U.K. pg. 286)

When faced with possibly losing his precious Prince version of his book to Snape, Harry wonders:

Would [Snape] confiscate or destroy the book that had taught Harry so much…the book that had become a kind of guide and friend? Harry could not let it happen…He could not…
(U.S. pg. 525; U.K. pg. 491)

I wonder — would Harry ever, in the future, show that kind of protection for the actual guide/instructor who taught him so much? Severus Snape himself, that is?

Even Ron states:

“He was a genius, the Prince.”
(U.S. pg. 539; U.K. pg. 503)

And finally…remember that point about Snape fussing over Harry’s ability to use nonverbal spells? He really does want him to learn that skill; he was not just sneering to sneer (though, yes, it is in his nature to do so).

“Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!” [nonverbal spells and Occlumency! What Severus has tried to teach him!] sneered Snape, deflecting the curse once more.
(U.S. pg. 603-604; U.K. pg. 562)

Severus does not attack Harry; in fact, he does as little as possible to defend himself, even defending Harry from another Death Eater’s Cruciatus Curse. He barely touches Harry, until the latter says the one wrong thing — he calls Severus a coward. We all have our breaking point. But even then…

To finish up my notations on Severus, I’’ll briefly return to my previous statement: I’’ve acquired an understanding of human nature. No, I don’’t know everything, but experience has taught me much. Obviously, I could be quite wrong, but I believe Severus is a torn, battered man. No, he is not pleasant, and he definitely has a prejudice of which he cannot let go, but do I believe he maliciously killed Albus Dumbledore? No.

Again, I do not want to get caught up in the argument over this, and will try to restrict myself to just a couple of points. Whatever the deal between himself and Professor Dumbledore, I believe Severus was following orders from the headmaster when he used the Avada Kedavera. Someone had pointed out that he was disgusted at having been forced to sever his soul by the murder, at having to kill the only one he truly respected and the only one to have truly given him a chance; I think they’re right. But whatever the full reason, there was dialogue to which no one but the two professors were privileged, up there on the Astronomy Tower that fateful summer night.

“…Dumbledore was pleading…Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.”
(U.S. pg. 595; U.K. pg. 556)

Gazed, my friends. As we were all reminded several times just chapters before this scene and only pages afterwards, Severus and Albus were both skilled Occlumens and Legilimens. I have a feeling there was a brief but distinctly commanding discussion via Legilimency here. Perhaps Albus reminding Severus of his role, of his promise; perhaps, to do what was necessary for the good of the Order, to end Albus’’ suffering, to save the plan? Complete speculation as to exactly what he was reminding him, but I thoroughly believe the Legilimency was there, and within it the order from Albus to kill him. Hmmm.

To wrap all this up, my miscellaneous interesting tidbits to point out…Upon these, I welcome all suggestions and thoughts as to what anyone else thinks.

  1. The picture in the Muggle Prime Minister’’s office, the one who had “a soft cough…froglike little man.” Any relation to Umbridge?
  2. Severus’ hand twitched when Narcissa led into the promise of Severus carrying out Draco’’s task, should he fail. Did he know what the task was (or part of it) from Dumbledore? Or did he know simply it was going to be something he didn’’t want to do? Or perhaps, had he been forced at another point to enter into such an Unbreakable Vow (as stated in another excellent editorial)?
  3. Slytherin’’s ring has the Peverell coat of arms on it. Why Peverell?
  4. If Severus created the Levicorpus spell and wrote it in his Sixth Year textbook, how did James use it against him in their Fifth Year? Perhaps he had the text and was studying it for years beforehand (as it was his mother’’s)?
  5. Will Eldred Worple become a factor in book 7, as he offered to write Harry’’s biography?
  6. Luna’’s Rotfang Conspiracy…bringing down the Ministry through Dark Magic and gum disease. Perhaps a way for Muggles to get into the fight (i.e. Hermione’’s dentist parents?) (I’’m just waiting for Luna’’s strange stories to have some bit of truth to them.)
  7. Hepzibah Smith…any relation to Zacharias Smith, making him an heir of Helga Hufflepuff? (Rowena’’s heir being Luna and Godric’’s being Harry? Totally wild and fanciful speculation on the last two.)
  8. Wording being what it is for JKR, Albus states that he is confident that the only known relic of Gryffindor remains safe. Keyword: known.
  9. Felix Felicis takes six months to brew. Perhaps they should get a start on it, eh?
  10. Dumbledore to Harry regarding Snape: ““I believe it [how Voldemort interpreted the prophecy that Snape told him] to be the greatest regret of his life…”” (U.S. pg. 549; U.K. pg. 513). Was Severus in love with Lily? Or was another child or mother affected? Remember, JK said on her website that Severus did not have a daughter; she did not say he did not have any children.

Okay, my speculation is done, for the time being anyway. Though long and digressive, the main point I wanted to make was that regarding the possible relation and, thus, importance of our rarely seen librarian. I have a feeling family trees will play a substantial role in the final installment of our family-deprived hero. Possibly? Hmmm…

Comments may be sent to sonofarathorn at bigfoot dot com.