Severus… Please…

by hpboy13

“The Prince’s Tale” shows us the progression of the exceedingly complex relationship between Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. However, there is a gap in “The Prince’s Tale,” accounting for the entirety of Harry’s first five years at Hogwarts after the first week. As we know, just because something is happening off-screen, does not mean that it is not significant. In fact, in that gap we find a fascinating evolution of Snape’s relationship with Dumbledore. To examine this in detail, we must harken back to a fateful night in Prisoner of Azkaban, when everyone’s emotions were running very high.

The Matter of Buckbeak

When looking at the climaxes of the Harry Potter books, there is one that I believe has generated more discussion than any other: the end of Prisoner of Azkaban. It takes up a full quarter of the entire book, and is largely viewed as the point where the series grew up. This is also where Jo first introduced us to time travel, something fans have been trying to wrap their heads around ever since. What I’m sure comes as no surprise to anyone is that I am most curious about Albus Dumbledore’s perspective on this.

Many essays have been written about Dumbledore’s seeming omniscience in the end of Prisoner of Azkaban. Fans theorized that maybe Dumbledore has a Time-Turner of his own, which allows him to go back in time to tell himself things, which is frankly a big headache for all of us. I do not subscribe to this view of Dumbledore. I think that he is just incredibly clever, and is always thinking many steps ahead.

First, let us look at Buckbeak’s would-be execution. Dumbledore decides to come join Hagrid for Buckbeak’s execution, he “said he wants ter — ter be with [Hagrid].” (PA328) Is Dumbledore already scheming to send Harry and Hermione back in time to rescue Buckbeak? No. I think that Dumbledore firstly really did want to comfort Hagrid, since he is a sort of surrogate father figure for Hagrid. But also, Dumbledore probably thought that if there were a way to save Buckbeak, it would help for him to be onsite.

Once the Ministry officials arrive at Hagrid’s hut, Dumbledore does not do anything at first other than watch the proceedings. But then, in the nick of time, Dumbledore begins stalling for time just as Harry and Hermione are freeing Buckbeak.

“One moment, please, Macnair,” came Dumbledore’s voice. “You need to sign too.”  The footsteps stopped. Harry heaved on the rope. Buckbeak snapped his beak and walked a little faster. […] Harry could still hear Dumbledore’s voice talking from within the cabin. (PA401)

Does Dumbledore know what it going on? Not necessarily. He does not need to. He knows that there is a certain trio of students who care very much about Hagrid and who have an Invisibility Cloak. He knows that if there were an attempted rescue of Buckbeak, it would have to happen in the short interval between Macnair seeing Buckbeak tied up and all the paperwork being filled out. Therefore, it’s just good sense to delay things a bit and give any would-be rescuers an additional bit of time. So Dumbledore stalls for a short bit of time, just in case. And what do you know, he was right to do so!

“Where is it?” said the reedy voice of the Committee member. “Where is the beast?”

“It was tied here!” said the executioner furiously. “I saw it! Just here!”

“How extraordinary,” said Dumbledore. There was a note of amusement in his voice.

[…]

“Someone untied him!” the executioner was snarling. “We should search the grounds, the forest —”

“Macnair, if Buckbeak has indeed been stolen, do you really think the thief will have led him away on foot?” said Dumbledore, still sounding amused. “Search the skies, if you will…. Hagrid, I could do with a cup of tea. Or a large brandy.” (PA402)

To Harry, and readers who believe in Dumbledore’s omniscience, this certainly looks like Dumbledore knows everything that’s going on. Why else isn’t he surprised? How else would he know to badly advise Macnair to “search the skies”?

Because Dumbledore is exceedingly clever, and a master of deductive reasoning. Like I said, he knows there are three students with an Invisibility Cloak who would very much want to free Buckbeak, and who are the adventurous sort that would attempt to do so. It’s not difficult to deduce that the Trio managed to free Buckbeak in the time that Dumbledore bought them.

Dumbledore is also relying on the Ministry’s stupidity here. In fact, Dumbledore relies on this a lot that evening; he will later deride the idea that “Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once” (PA420) in front of the Minister of Magic, assuming correctly that Fudge would not consider the existence of Time-Turners. If one thinks about it, no thief in his right mind would try to fly away on Buckbeak right after stealing him. The execution was to take place “at sunset” (PA325), so one could still see in the twilight. There is almost no chance that a hippogriff could fly fast enough to be out of the field of vision in a minute. 

Therefore, the logical conclusion is that Buckbeak was led away on foot. Dumbledore realizes this, and banks on the Ministry officials not thinking it through. In their minds, of course a thief would fly away on a stolen flying animal. Dumbledore also realizes that Buckbeak would not be covered by the Invisibility Cloak and is likely still close by. He therefore hurries to get Macnair and company back inside Hagrid’s hut, to give Buckbeak’s saviors more time to get away.

This is such classic Dumbledore! He is certainly having a lot of fun here. In fact, Dumbledore often seems to derive great pleasure in making a mockery of people he dislikes; hold that thought. Dumbledore keeps Fudge and Macnair occupied for the evening, and then all hell starts breaking loose two hours later.

Dumbledore is running around dealing with Sirius and Snape and all the ensuing mayhem. Let us look at what he knows about Buckbeak. He knows that Buckbeak managed to escape. He knows that the Trio are the most likely candidates to be Buckbeak’s rescuers; in fact, who else would do it? But the Trio has made no mention of Buckbeak, the timing does not really line up, and where on earth is Buckbeak now?

Dumbledore is also trying to figure out a way to get Sirius out of Hogwarts safely and quickly. Apparition does not work. There is likely a guard outside Flitwick’s office, so if one were to get to Sirius inconspicuously, it would have to be from the window. There is also no time, so he will have to rely on Hermione’s Time-Turner. Dumbledore puts two and two together the way only he can, and realizes that he has two refugees on his hands, and one of them can fly. He realizes that if the Trio currently in the hospital wing did not rescue Buckbeak, maybe that is because the time-travelling version did. And that is how he comes up with his brilliant plan to have Sirius escape on Buckbeak, and gives Hermione the slightest of nudges: “you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight.” (PA393)

There is another possibility: that Dumbledore actually sees the time-traveling Harry and Hermione flying on Buckbeak. The timing is such that it could work. We are given that Flitwick’s office is not too far from the West Tower (from where the time-traveling Harry and Hermione run back to the Hospital Wing), that Dumbledore arrives at the Hospital Wing one or two minutes before the time-traveling begins, and that Dumbledore had “just been talking to Sirius Black” (PA390) when he arrives. This means that Dumbledore would be finishing his interview with Sirius moments before Harry and Hermione fly in to rescue him. It is possible that Dumbledore saw Harry and Hermione flying by in one of the windows on the thirteenth floor, but knowing that Harry and Hermione are also in the Hospital Wing, realized that there must be time travel involved in rescuing Buckbeak and Sirius.

Either way, Dumbledore has sent Harry and Hermione off into the past to save the future, and turns around to see Harry breathlessly say, “We did it! Sirius has gone, on Buckbeak….” (PA418) Dumbledore’s plan succeeded! There’s just one loose end…

Dumbledore vs. Snape

Fudge, Snape, and Dumbledore came striding into the ward. Dumbledore alone looked calm. Indeed, he looked as though he was quite enjoying himself. Fudge appeared angry. But Snape was beside himself.

[…]

“Calm down, man!” Fudge barked. “You’re talking nonsense!”

“YOU DON’T KNOW POTTER!” shrieked Snape. “HE DID IT, I KNOW HE DID IT —”

“That will do, Severus,” said Dumbledore quietly. “Think about what you are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward ten minutes ago. Madam Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?”

“Of course not!” said Madam Pomfrey, bristling. “I would have heard them!”

“Well, there you have it, Severus,” said Dumbledore calmly. “Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I’m afraid I don’t see any point in troubling them further.”

Snape stood there, seething, staring from Fudge, who looked thoroughly shocked at his behavior, to Dumbledore, whose eyes were twinkling behind his glasses. Snape whirled about, robes swishing behind him, and stormed out of the ward. (PA419-420)

This is a fascinating passage to read, because the interpretation changes completely based on whether you believe Snape knows about Hermione’s Time-Turner. It could really be either one. Remember how Dumbledore relied on the Ministry’s stupidity to help Buckbeak get away? He does this again, banking on Fudge not realizing Hermione might have a Time-Turner. But why risk it?

If Snape knows about Hermione’s Time-Turner, then Dumbledore is sending Snape a discreet message: stop talking now! By mentioning time travel, which is quite obviously the answer Snape is seeking, Dumbledore would be saying to Snape that there is a lot going on Snape doesn’t realize. Dumbledore would be banking on Snape obeying the unspoken command, and to be fair, Snape does desist immediately after this. There is much to recommend this view on the passage, but I am a detractor.

For me, the problem is that Dumbledore does not know that Snape will obey him. I have written about this scene in one of my earliest pieces, “Snape’s Anger,” and the thesis is that Snape is acting utterly deranged in this scene. Snape is livid, for a host of reasons, and it’s pretty clear Snape has run amok when he starts yelling at the Minister of Magic. I don’t think Dumbledore would trust Snape to be reasonable enough to shut up given a clue from Dumbledore, and would not risk giving Snape the answer to incriminating the Trio, given Snape’s state of mind.

It’s reasonable to expect Snape not to know that Hermione has a Time-Turner. After all, I doubt he would care very much how Hermione maintains her academic schedule, and the only teacher confirmed to know about it is McGonagall. The whole Time-Turner thing seems to be treated on a very need-to-know basis, given that Harry and Ron themselves don’t need to know. This points to Dumbledore: Dumbledore probably realized early on that Harry’s best friend having a Time-Turner might come in handy, and all of Dumbledore’s information concerning Harry and co. is distributed on a need-to-know basis. Snape likely did not need to know, and therefore didn’t. While Snape may have been aware of the existence of Time-Turners in general, Dumbledore banked on Snape not connecting that to the situation at hand.

This echoes Dumbledore’s earlier behavior with the Ministry. Just as he banked on being smarter than the Ministry officials, he is now hoping Snape isn’t as clever as him. And just as Dumbledore was amused when making a mockery of Macnair, he is now “quite enjoying himself” by seeing Snape goaded. And this is because Dumbledore is extremely disappointed in Severus Snape tonight.

Dumbledore was once full of “contempt” for Snape (DH677), but believed that Snape had redeemed himself. Over the last thirteen years, Dumbledore has worked with Snape, taken him into his confidences more than anyone else, and trusted Snape with the all-important task of protecting Harry. At this point, Dumbledore believes that Snape has become a decent person.

Then Snape completely shatters all of that in one night. He shows himself to be cruel, vindictive, and irrational. Snape is willing to sentence an innocent man to have his soul sucked out. Snape appears unconcerned with uncovering the truth, not bothering with finding out about Pettigrew in his haste to fulfill a vendetta. This is the man Dumbledore entrusts Harry’s wellbeing to?Completely unacceptable.

So when Snape continues this pattern of behavior, trying to pin the mess on Harry, Dumbledore does not like Snape at all in that moment. And when Dumbledore does not like someone, he quite enjoys goading them – in fact, I think most of the times we see Dumbledore mentioned as enjoying himself, it’s because he’s taking the mickey out of the Dursleys or various Ministry people. So it is entirely in character for Dumbledore to have some fun at Snape’s expense in this moment.

What is striking is that this move might hurt Dumbledore’s endgame. Dumbledore knows that Voldemort will rise again one day, and when that day comes, Snape would be an invaluable asset. So what possesses Dumbledore to so antagonize Snape?

The answer is Harry, Dumbledore’s big blind spot. Harry is Dumbledore’s weakness; he cares more for Harry’s wellbeing than for the eventualities of war. He says, “What did I care if numbers of nameless and faceless people and creatures were slaughtered in the vague future, if in the here and now you were alive, and well, and happy?” (OP839) Therefore, Dumbledore was willing to antagonize Snape for Harry’s happiness.

Having his godfather around would be the absolute best possible thing for Harry’s happiness. Dumbledore wants to have Sirius around to take care of Harry, to serve as a much-needed father figure. Dumbledore finally has a way of ensuring Harry’s emotional wellbeing, so when Snape threatens that, Dumbledore is absolutely not having it. This is why Dumbledore, rather riskily, sides with Sirius over Snape, and Snape knows this.

The Parting of Ways

This leads to an off-screen estrangement between Dumbledore and Snape. The following morning, Snape “accidentally let slip that [Remus] is a werewolf” at breakfast. (PA423) Snape must surely have calmed down somewhat overnight, so this is a rational act of open defiance against Dumbledore. Snape knows how mad Dumbledore would be if Remus’s secret got out – after all, Snape has been keeping it since he was sixteen. I am guessing that Snape and Dumbledore had a chat sometime between the hospital wing screaming match and breakfast, and that Snape was not satisfied, leading to his outing of Lupin in total disregard of Dumbledore’s orders.

Dumbledore, meanwhile, acts even more drastically: he calls in a new right-hand man. No longer willing to rely on Snape, Dumbledore gets in touch with his old friend Alastor Moody over the summer, and asks him to come to Hogwarts as the new DADA teacher. Moody replaces Snape as the wizard Dumbledore can rely on to watch over Harry, and to help out with things. Sirius assumes Dumbledore called Moody in because Dumbledore is “reading the signs,” (GF226), but I fail to see how the Dark Mark is much more worrying than notorious mass murderer Sirius Black coming after Harry the previous year. Moody isn’t called in for extra protection, it’s because Dumbledore no longer relies on Snape.

The rift between Snape and Dumbledore lasts through most of Goblet of Fire, as expounded on brilliantly by John Kearns in “A Very Bad Year for Albus Dumbledore.” The impostor Moody uses this, and plays off of Dumbledore no longer trusting Snape for his own ends. Snape truly reaches the zenith of his unpleasantness in the fourth book, what with the Veritaserum and Rita’s articles and the comment about Hermione’s teeth. In fact, Snape even hinders Harry when Harry tries to get into Dumbledore’s office (GF558). Snape enjoys irking Harry, but he is intelligent enough to realize that if Harry is trying to see Dumbledore, there is a good reason, and that Dumbledore would be unhappy at Snape’s interference. This is another act of deliberate defiance by Snape, a full year after the events of Prisoner of Azkaban. After all, no one holds a grudge quite like Snape. 

All this serves to reinforce how angry Dumbledore must have been in Prisoner to risk drawing the ire of Snape. Dumbledore reads people better than almost anyone, and he must know how vindictive Snape can be.

Most of Snape’s conflict with Dumbledore happens off-screen, but we are privy to a few moments that clue us in. The most telling of these is Snape’s showdown with the impostor Moody after Harry’s jaunt to the prefects’ bathroom. “‘Dumbledore happens to trust me!’ said Snape through clenched teeth. ‘I refuse to believe that he gave you orders to search my office!’” (GF472) This certainly sounds like Snape is being defensive about a touchy subject, and illustrates the breakdown of communication between Snape and Dumbledore.

However, once the impostor Moody is unmasked and Voldemort revealed to have risen again, Dumbledore and Snape quickly reconcile. In fact, we witness this reconciliation without realizing it. Snape, in an uncharacteristic move, immediately brushes the grudge aside, and follows Dumbledore’s instructions with nary a snide comment. (GF680) Dumbledore, realizing the point of contention, asks Sirius to come forward in Snape’s presence; this is Dumbledore silently challenging Snape as to whether Snape can put aside his hatred of Sirius. And then Dumbledore says the words Snape has been waiting to hear all year: “I trust you both.” (GF712) It is at this moment that Dumbledore and Snape are reconciled.

Mindful of this, Dumbledore’s instructions to Snape are far politer than those for everyone else. He issues no-nonsense commands to everyone else, but to Snape he says, “Severus, you know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready … if you are prepared …” (GF713) Dumbledore is rarely so delicate in moments of action, so this is noteworthy for showcasing their newly mended relationship.

We see their relationship is back to normal in Order of the Phoenix, because Snape actually accepts Dumbledore’s assignment to teach Harry Occlumency. While the idea of humiliating Harry on a regular basis probably holds some appeal to Snape, spending more time with Harry is not something Snape wants to do. If Dumbledore had asked Snape to teach Harry Occlumency in Goblet of Fire, I don’t believe for a moment that Snape would have agreed to. But now Dumbledore trusts him enough to ask, and Snape attempts to oblige, until his and Harry’s enmity proves too great. This brings us to the next memory of “The Prince’s Tale,” where Dumbledore trusts Snape enough to ask Snape to kill him.

As a sort of epilogue, I’d like to posit that the Sirius Black incident was what Snape thought about when killing Dumbledore. Bellatrix told Harry, “You need to mean [the Unforgivables]!” (OP810) When Snape kills Dumbledore, “there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.” (HBP595) Snape has reason to hate Dumbledore. I think he called forward all the lingering feelings of resentment after the debacle three years ago, as well as all the anger at what Dumbledore now demanded of him – becoming a pariah among wizards. Snape was more than capable of mustering up enough anger to kill Dumbledore, after all the ups and downs of their relationship over the previous years. So perhaps in some twisted way, Dumbledore’s antagonizing of Snape ended up servicing his grand plans after all.

 

Ever wondered if Harry Potter qualifies as a feminist text? Or whether Ron or Hermione was a better friend to Harry? Pull up a chair in the Three Broomsticks, grab a butterbeer, and see what Irvin has to say on these contentious topics!

36 Responses

  1. CCHP says:

    In regards to what Dumbledore knew or didn’t know about Buckbeak’s prospective rescue, isn’t it much more likely that–instead of him having made an array of consecutive assumptions that all turned out to be right–he planned on suggesting the time-turner in the future and thus knew that Harry and co. would be on site? That would better explain the seemingly premeditated stalling.

    • hpboy13 says:

      I dunno, to me planning on changing time seems like a bigger leap of logic than the small consecutive leaps of logic I outlined. Dumbledore even says “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.” Making assumptions about what will happen, and then planning on changing that, seems out there.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • CCHP says:

        A fair opinion. However, “very difficult” businesses is pretty much where Dumbledore tread. That quote might support the premeditation theory more than it detracts from it. Worth noting is the fact that the whole plan wouldn’t have even been hatched yet. He just would have thought about instructing Hermione to save Buckbeak. Only later does the closer-to-present Dumbledore find out about Sirius’ innocence, and then add that part to his instructions. Thus, Dumbledore in Hagrid’s Hut would have only been stalling knowingly on behalf of Buckbeak, if true.

        In any event, nice read.

        • hpboy13 says:

          If you are going to assume that tack, I would extend it further. I think Dumbledore was very happy to have the Time Turner around, and had it in the back of his mind as Plan B for anything going awry during the year. However, time is not to be meddled with, and I can’t see Dumbledore planning in advance to solve things through Time Travel. So while the thought doubtless presented itself to it, I still believe that Dumbledore did not actually plan on using the Time Turner until things got completely out of hand with the Sirius thing. After all, it was not strictly needed for Buckbeak’s rescue – all the Trio would need is the Cloak and good timing.

          But this is why I love debating Dumbledore’s plans – there are so many different ways of looking at them!

  2. Miss.X says:

    But did Snape knew that Sirius was truly innocent by then? Wasn’t he unconscious when the truth came out? To me is pretty clear he didn’t know, his crazy reaction shows that he still considered Sirius guilty. Plus I really hate when you treat Remus as this special snowflake that did no wrong, you see what Snape did (telling his house about Remus being a werewolf) as some silly act out of spite when Snape has more than one reason to do what he did, first of all Remus forgetting to take his potion endangering the people around him. He also kept important information to himself when everyone thought Sirius was guilty. Stop putting all the blame on Snape, everyone is guilty of something from Sirius to Remus and Dumbledore. Reducing everything to silly grudges is pointless.

    • CCHP says:

      If Snape didn’t know that Sirius was innocent before his incarceration (he probably did for a number of reasons, not limited to the fact that he was a Death Eater and knew just how close James and Sirius were), he certainly did after overhearing this conversation in the Shrieking Shack. He was blinded by hatred and would go to any extent to get back at Sirius for contributing to the misery that was his adolescence. Furthermore, Sirius–as a proxy of James–served as a reminder of Snape’s loss of Lily to James.

      • Walpurgis says:

        No, he didn’t know. Snape was knocked out for the entire Peter reveal. If we take the part of the scene where the door randomly opening and Snape entering the Shack, then this was what he heard:

        – Lupin telling the Trio he’s a werewolf and that Snape was making the Wolfsbane for him

        – Sirius, Peter and James all became unregistered animagi so they could keep Remus company, and they ran around the school grounds while Lupin was in werewolf form

        – The tale of the Marauder’s Map

        – Lupin admitting that he hadn’t told Dumbledore that Sirius was an Animagus, hence betraying his trust

        – Lupin plays down the werewolf incident as a mere prank

        At no point does Lupin say that Peter was Scabbers, that Sirius was innocent, or that Peter was guilty. So Snape legitimately believed that Sirius was guilty of selling out the Potters, being a mass murder, and going after Harry. He was knocked out for the entire “Peter was the Secret Keeper” speech. Even Dumbledore said to Harry and Hermione that “Sirius has not acted like an innocent man”…because breaking into Hogwarts twice, attacking the Fat Lady, standing over a student’s bed with a knife, and (accidentally) mangling Ron’s leg is pretty shady. And when regained consciousness from being knocked out, he had a bleeding head wound and saw Harry, Hermione and Sirius all unconscious some feet ahead. Snape had very good reason to think that Sirius was guilty, because Sirius looked and acted guilty.

        Also, the Death Eaters did NOT all know each other. Voldemort kept his followers compartmentalized, which was why they made Death Eaters name each other during trials. If Snape had known that Peter was the one betraying the Potters at the time of his defection (which was well before the Potters died) then he would have told Dumbledore, seeing as how he was already risking death torture by switching sides.

        • CCHP says:

          Good points. Forgot he got knocked out before. I still disagree, however, that Snape’s actions were predicated on vengeance for selling out the Potters. First, when Harry asks if the prank was the reason Snape hates Sirius, the eavesdropping Snape says “that’s right.” Second, if Snape were truly interested in catching the Potters’ true killer, he would have agreed to bring Scabbers up to the school as Sirius, Lupin, and Hermione all pleaded with him to do. Surely a captive Sirius was not a threat to escape while walking up the lawns. Third, he treats Lupin with equal animosity (maybe more) as Sirius. Finally, Lupin asks: “Is a schoolboy grudge worth putting an innocent man back inside Azkaban?”

          I would also contend that as a close associate of Lucius Malfoy, whose wife knew that Black was loyal to a fault, Snape may have suspected Sirius’ innocence a) in this domain and b) via Lucius’ status in the close inner-circle of Lord Voldemort.

          • Walpurgis says:

            Scabbers/Peter had run away by the time Snape regained consciousness, and when Snape woke up he had a head wound while Harry and Hermione were lying a few feet away from him. That did nothing to make Sirius look innocent for him, on top of all Sirius had done through out PoA. From Snape’s perspective, he was going up against a mass murderer and his accomplice who was about to turn into a werewolf. I do think that Snape wanted Sirius to be guilty, however. And I think his reasons were a combination of Sirius’s treatment of him, thinking that Sirius was guilty for selling out the Potters, and Sirius’s actions throughout PoA which would make him look guilty even to the neutral person.

            Draco clearly believed that Sirius was the one betrayed the Potters in PoA, and if he got that info from Lucius then that’s what Lucius believed as well. There’s really isn’t any evidence suggesting that Snape suspected Sirius was legitimately innocent. Many people found it hard to trust anyone in the First War, and literally anyone could be a suspect. In the First War, Sirius thought that Lupin, his close friend, was a spy. Why would Snape give Sirius the benefit of the doubt when they mutually loathed each other? Just to be clear, I’m saying that Snape legitimately believed that Sirius was a former Death Eater/the one who sold out Lily, and while he was somewhat irrational in his behavior in PoA, he still had VERY good reasons to believe that Sirius was guilty.

            Snape and Sirius absolutely hated each other, but in OotP Snape helps protect Sirius by giving Umbridge the fake Veritaserum when she tries to interrogate Harry about Sirius, lets Dumbledore know that Umbridge was trying to find out about Sirius, and checks up on Sirius to make sure he’s not being tortured in the Ministry. If Snape wanted to screw over Sirius simply because he hated him, he could have done so at any point during OotP, yet he takes several measures to protect him.

          • Miss.X says:

            Indeed.

          • CCHP says:

            Snape defended Sirius in OOTP and beyond for the same reason he didn’t kill Pettigrew once he found out he was the true “rat” (after returning to LV at the end of GOF). He put the plan above himself. If his only motivation was getting revenge for Lily, he would have killed Pettigrew not fearing his own demise at the hand of LV.

            As for Draco, we should entertain the notion that Lucius was not entirely honest w/ his arrogant, big-mouthed son who might let something slip, implicate Lucius as someone who knew something he could not possibly have known if he were innocent, and disturb a very satisfying status quo.

          • Walpurgis says:

            Even then, there’s literally nothing suggesting that Snape knew Sirius was innocent, however much he hated him and for whatever reason.

            Snape didn’t know that Peter was the spy in the First War. Snape risked death and torture by defecting from the Death Eaters in order to save Lily, and spied for Dumbledore months before the Potters were killed. If he knew that Peter was the spy, there’s no reason he would have kept it to himself. He was willing to risk everything to save Lily, why would he provide cover to Peter, or whoever else was endangering her safety?

            Also, Snape didn’t set up events so that Sirius would be sent to Azkaban. Voldemort killed the Potters, Sirius figured that Peter ratted them out, and went on his OWN accord to hunt down and murder Peter. If Sirius had successfully committed the “murder he was imprisoned for” (in his own words), he would have ended up in Azkaban anyways for killing the ONLY person who knew for sure that Sirius was guilty at that point. Sirius could have avoided Azkaban altogether if he had just gone to Dumbledore to explain what happened, yet he went on to hunt down the only witness to his own innocence. When Sirius went to Azkaban, EVERYONE with the exception of Peter (who knew the entire story) thought that Sirius had legitimately betrayed the Potters. Hence, Snape also believed that Sirius betrayed the Potters/was a Death Eater and unlike Lupin/Dumbledore/anyone who was Sirius’s friend, Snape didn’t have to suffer any cognitive dissonance in believing that Sirius was guilty.

          • CCHP says:

            We are distancing ourselves from the point a little bit. My main argument is that Snape’s fury in this scene is spurred on by his childhood rivalry w/ Sirius and the prank…as is explicitly mentioned in the CANON multiple times and is not speculative.

            However, you are right that up to this point I have thought that Snape was at least unsure if Sirius was guilty, something I am reconsidering based on your argument. Thanks for arguing with civility. Not sure why the others were hostile, but I guess that’s the comments section for you.

          • Walpurgis says:

            My apologies, I thought you were arguing that Snape knew that Sirius was innocent and was still willing to have him sent to Azkaban/get the Kiss, as some fans seem to believe. My argument is that whether Snape was rational or irrational in his hatred against Sirius, he still honestly believed that Sirius was guilty and had no good reason to believe otherwise. Snape wasn’t willing to let Dementors Kiss an “innocent” man, he was willing to let them Kiss a man he truly thought was guilty. And I’ve stated before, even though his behavior in PoA was counter productive he still has very good/rational reasons to hate Sirius (part of them being Sirius’s treatment of him/the Prank). He wasn’t the only one with counter productive behavior either. Sirius and Lupin were going to kill Peter in front of three kids even though Peter’s witness was their best chance at Sirius’s freedom. They essentially prioritized their revenge (becoming killers in the process) over Sirius’s freedom until Harry talked them out of it. No adult, Snape, Sirius or Lupin behaved well in the Shack scene, and yet Snape gets disproportionate criticism even though he had the most valid reasons to Sirius and Lupin were guilty.

            I might be going off topic a bit now, but I doubt Snape hated Sirius enough to have him killed or Kissed regardless of whether he thought Sirius was guilty. I’m sure he didn’t mourn Sirius’s death in OotP, and Sirius wouldn’t have mourned Snape’s death if Snape died before him. Canon does indicate that Snape doesn’t seem to want any more deaths on his conscience (“Lately, only those whom I could not save” when asked how many people he’d seen die, trying to save Lupin in the Battle of Little Winging, JKR’s tweet about how Snape “died to save the Wizarding World”). Not wanting to have blood on his hands isn’t the same as being upset if Sirius dies, just that he will protect Sirius (or Lupin, or anyone else that he hates) if it is in his power to do so.

          • hpboy13 says:

            It’s a bit late at night to get into this debate with detail, but two things: First, I’d like to thank you guys for keeping it civil. Second, from the perspective of someone who does not like Snape, one of my biggest issues with his actions was when he says “Maybe the dementors will have a kiss for you too.” to Lupin. Even allowing for all the hatred and assumed betrayal between Snape and Sirius, condemning Lupin to losing his soul for (at worst) abetting a criminal is messed up.

            However, I most applaud the following comment from Walpurgis: “No adult, Snape, Sirius or Lupin behaved well in the Shack scene.” Too true – the kids acquitted themselves much more admirably than the grownups in this scene (and in the series in general).

          • JohnHousecat says:

            “Even allowing for all the hatred and assumed betrayal between Snape and
            Sirius, condemning Lupin to losing his soul for (at worst) abetting a
            criminal is messed up.”

            Yet you’re not considering the entire context. The WHOLE picture, not just the immediate circumstances.

            Step into Severus’s shoes. Here, at the beginning of the year, you have Professor Snape. All we know through Harry’s rather unreliable narrative is that Snape is a big douche of a teacher who has it out for him. But what were Professor Snape’s true concerns? Severus did not offer a “new” memory for us to see for Harry’s Third Year in “The Prince’s Tale”, but we can deduce from everything in canon that Severus was ~just a little worried~ for Harry’s safety that year, and he became worried the moment Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban. ~Everybody~ believed Sirius to be guilty of betraying the Potters to Voldemort, including Lupin. From Severus’s point of view, we have a mass murderer on the loose with the knowledge that said mass murderer was Harry’s godfather (if Fudge knew that Sirius was Harry’s godfather, there is no reason why Severus wouldn’t have known). We have said mass murderer ~breaking into the Gryffindor dorms with a knife to hack/slash at…? Everyone assumed, Harry, but instead Ron got the full-on scare. We have Severus watching Remus outright LIE to his and Harry’s faces about the Marauder’s Map (he knows it’s a lie because he knows that the names on the map were the Marauders’ nicknames for each other; but apparently he did not know that the three were Animagi). He’s making an extremely hard to make potion for a person he doesn’t trust at all–why?

            Because in the past–and this is NOT about a “grudge”–when it came down to Remus doing the right thing versus covering for his friends, what did he do? He covered for his friends. Thus, Severus is worried about that, too, since he’s got Harry’s life to worry about and if this lovely ex-“passive” bully of his is again, covering for his friend (which he WAS), then there’s a serious freaking problem with Remus. If he was covering for his friend and trying to get him into the castle–remember, Severus did not know it was all Pettigrew’s fault AND he couldn’t have known whether Sirius and Remus had been working together in the first place all of those years ago–you best know that under the circumstances of what ~he knew~ (and what MOST people knew), a Dementor’s Kiss for selling out Lily to Voldemort would’ve been an appropriate suggestion for him to make. (As for all the quotes about Severus freaking out over Sirius’s escape and saying it was Potter–it WAS Potter [and Granger], but the first thing on Severus’s mind is that Potter somehow facilitated the escape of the man who betrayed Lily to Voldemort. From his POV, he’s got every right to be pissed. Dumbledore, on the other hand, believed the kids/the truth and ALSO didn’t want the innocent to be punished for something they didn’t do, and would’ve explained things out of Fudge’s presence…to try and quash Severus’s anger/frustration.)

            “Too true – the kids acquitted themselves much more admirably than the grownups in this scene (and in the series in general).”

            How can you say this when Harry went into Hogsmeade when he was told he couldn’t go? One of the huge themes explored in this book/Book 3 ~revolves around rulebreaking~. It’s where we learned of the Marauder breaking the rules. We watched Harry do it constantly with the Invisibility Cloak. They weren’t even allowed outside when they went to go see Hagrid after Buckbeak’s failed appeal.

            The kids (with the exception of Hermione) constantly disobeyed the rules and disrespected Professor Snape. That it’s so subtle that you can’t even recognize it demonstrates the actual care you took in reading canon before writing something like that. In that scene, *the kids knocked Professor Snape out*. And what did it earn anybody? The “truth” sure, but then it allowed for Pettigrew to manipulate Harry, telling him that “James wouldn’t have wanted him dead”…which, we should be able to surmise after reading the entire series, is untrue. James would’ve behaved like Sirius did; they were ~that~ close, that harsh and “cruel”…James would’ve certainly been the first (along with Sirius) to raise his wand and give Pettigrew a flash of green light between his watery eyes. It also earned them Pettigrew’s escape.

            But of course, there would be no fun story of the Dark Lord’s return if Pettigrew ~didn’t~ escape and was blown into oblivion by his former friends…so that is moot. What I’m trying to put forth is that not all of what Professor Snape was is unjustifiable/unjustified. To demonize him via the scenes in Azkaban is extremely unfair, since he was working to keep his long lost love’s child alive in the presence of idiots.

          • arithmancer says:

            It is an interesting fact that you can check for yourself – nowhere in the Shack scene does Snape confirm his feelings are spurred by the “prank”. This motivation is ascribed to him by others, who do not know him well, and most importantly, do not know his history with Lily and the Prophecy.

          • HPLover says:

            I would really like it if everyone stopped referring to Sirius sending Snape down the Whomping Willow to a hungry, dangerous and volatile werewolf as a “prank” but rather attempted murder or almost manslaughter. I don’t think almost killing someone at 15/16 is a prank at all and that the fact that you would use such a word just makes Snape seem petty (which it isn’t) and devalues the experience he went through when he really does a very good, and importantly, a legitimate reason for hating Sirius besides the whole betraying the Potters and resulting in Lily being killed.

      • Miss.X says:

        Oh yeah you are one of those who think that Snape knew the truth about Sirius and Peter and never said a thing, sure that totally make sense. Anyway, from PoA “‘Severus, you’re making a mistake,’ said Lupin urgently. ‘You haven’t heard everything – I can explain – Sirius is not here to kill Harry –’. From Snape’s reaction is pretty clear he want Sirius dead not because of a “silly grudge” but because he though, like EVERYONE ELSE (included his best mate Lupin, Dumbledore etc. – all people who knew Black much better than him) that Sirius was guilty. I honestly can’t believe there’s people who think Snape knew everything when we know that not all death eaters knew each other, Karkaroff himself said so during his process when he never mentioned Peter either. But go and and keep thinking that Snape behaved the way he did with poor and innocent Sirius and Remus because of a silly school grudge.

        • CCHP says:

          Weirdly volatile. Just an opinion. Not really what I was saying either.

          • Miss.X says:

            Sorry what were you saying then? To me it looked like “Snape knew the truth, probably he always did, and wanted Sirius dead just because of the way he and his friends treated him while in school and not because he is convinced like everyone else that Black betrayed the Potters and is – in part – responsible for Lily’s death”. Forgive me, I’ve probably I’ve misunderstood you then…

          • JohnHousecat says:

            Don’t worry, you’re not blind, just being hoodwinked like most people confronted by people who are intent on demonizing Severus despite what canon says.

            “If Snape didn’t know that Sirius was innocent before his incarceration, he
            certainly did after overhearing this conversation in the Shrieking
            Shack.”

            That is was CCHP wrote. The fact is that he did not overhear anything that would’ve proven Sirius innocent because he was unconscious. And that ~fact~ is what is often ignored in arguments about How Evil and Loathsome Snape Was.

          • CCHP says:

            Yeah I forgot. Walpurgis reminded me. The rest of what you wrote is most certainly wrong. I think Snape is the best character in the series.

          • JohnHousecat says:

            What YOU wrote is what was at issue. Don’t ever brick wall your arguments…that’s a tactic of cowards who can’t bring themselves to admit they’re wrong.

            And I too am a Snape Defender/fan, and merely mentioned this: “And that ~fact~ is what is often ignored in arguments about How Evil and Loathsome Snape Was” because it’s what the Marauderfen and Snape Haters always say…that he’s evil, loathsome, abusive, cannot be redeemed, etc. But it’s those same people who believe in the complete Evil of Snape who also constantly reinforce faulty canon, i.e. “Snape overheard that Sirius was innocent”, etc. I can’t stand it when people can’t comprehend what they’re reading and then take their distorted perceptions into arguments about a character.

          • CCHP says:

            If you think that I can’t admit when I’m wrong, I advise you to scroll up about three inches. Time-stamp should show that it happened well before your psychotic rant. Please look into ad hominem fallacy.

            Sorry author for playing a part in this argument, but I think anyone who reads this can see that I was trying to express an opinion and got lambasted for it.

          • CCHP says:

            I was reminded by Walpurgis that he did not hear the conversation. My main point was that Snape’s motivation to prosecute Sirius was based above all else on his hatred for the Marauders, and that he likely was not certain if Sirius was guilty.

          • Miss.X says:

            I’ve pointed out about Snape being unconscious when the truth came out in my first post… anyway, you keep thinking that Snape probably knew but canon say otherwise and honestly I don’t know what else to add. Personally I think that his main motivation was the fact that he thought Sirius caused the death of Lily (I mean, just look at his deranged reaction!) , surely the fact that he was also part of the group whom relentlessly bullied him in school and played that funny “prank” on him didn’t helped. But I think Lily’s death was *a bit* more meaningful to him… Walpurgis has been much more eloquent than me about the whole discussion anyway.

          • CCHP says:

            You did point it out; can’t really say I was wrong in any other way haha. We are allowed to disagree.

      • The Half Blood Princess says:

        Reread that conversation, we specifically see where Snape comes in, as a door mysteriously opens, and from there to when Snape reveals himself, they don’t say anything about Sirius’s innocence. I’ve checked.

    • The Half Blood Princess says:

      We know that, but does DD? And even if he does, maybe he isn’t being entirely rational either.

  3. arithmancer says:

    The author has forgotten a scene of “The Prince’s Tale” which occurs during the Yule Ball in Book 4. In it Snape shares with Dumbledore his intention to return to Voldemort, and Dumbledore comments on his courage, implying he ought to have been Sorted into Gryffindor. Hardly the complet disharmony and lack of trust that is suggested by the essay…

    • hpboy13 says:

      Touche – that scene is all of three paragraphs long, I just completely skipped by it. However, a closer read of those paragraphs does not discount my theory. They are speaking, certainly, but it reads as distant to me; just two colleagues brusquely discussing business. The fact that Snape does not tell Dumbledore about Moody searching his office proves that they still are not on good terms over a month after the Yule Ball. But good catch!

      That section is also one of the passages I most dislike in the series, since Dumbledore (through whom Jo often speaks) dismisses Snape as a good Slytherin, saying that any halfway-decent person in Slytherin clearly doesn’t belong there. So maybe I subconsciously chose to not acknowledge it. 😉

      • Iðunn says:

        To be fair, I don’t think that’s what Dumbledore means when he says he should have been sorted into Gryffindor. Going back to Voldemort to help Dumbledore’s cause is not a mere “halfway-decent” thing to do. It’s a selfless act of extreme bravery the very definitions of a true Gryffindor. He never said that he didn’t belong in Slytherin.

  4. Vespera says:

    Severus is so underappreciated in the books. I would love to read the entire saga from his point of view. Go Severus!!

  5. Meg says:

    All very interesting. The main issue I see with your theory is the idea that Snape, as one of Hermione’s teachers, wouldn’t have been aware that she had a Time-Turner. It can’t have escaped the notice of Hermione’s teachers that she was taking every single subject offered by their colleagues. Teachers often chat with each other about gifted students, and one remark in the staff room about Hermione’s performance in their class that day would tip off the colleague who had had Hermione in class at the same time, the same day. Given that Hermione’s classmates also noticed her impossible schedule, they could have commented on it in class, which would have put the teacher in an awkward (and, from the Ministry-imposed secrecy point of view, dangerous) position – unless the teacher had been prepared for questions on Hermione’s odd schedule, and was prepared to diffuse the situation.

    • hpboy13 says:

      Given that Snape did not at all care for Hermione, and was not a particularly friendly guy to begin with, I find it plausible that he wouldn’t discuss her with other teachers. But yeah, it could go either way.