The Significance of Always
Surprise, surprise. Another MuggleNet writer who isn’t a big fan of Severus Snape. Don’t worry – that isn’t really what this article is about…
Because Professor Snape tends to leave such a sour taste in my mouth, it’s kind of excruciating for me to see so many Harry Potter tattoos with the word “always.” It’s in so many pieces of fan art. Don’t get me wrong. They all look great. But it’s referenced by the fandom constantly, and I have a bone to pick: Why are we glorifying Snape’s toxic boyhood obsession?
As we learn in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Snape has known Lily since childhood. When they came to Hogwarts, he got caught up with a bad crowd and got into the Dark Arts. He unceremoniously called Lily Evans a “Mudblood.” His heart was filled with hatred, selfishness, and darkness.
Snape’s father was a Muggle. His mother was willing (and we can assume at some point excited) to marry his father regardless, so it’s safe to infer that Snape wasn’t taught to hate half-bloods or Muggle-borns in his childhood home. Although he was placed in Slytherin, he chose to align himself with the pure-blood supremacists (and we know that not all Slytherins have to end up evil, e.g. Slughorn). And let us not forget: Severus Snape chose to become a Death Eater.
Snape had no desire to leave Voldemort’s side until Lily’s safety came into question. Although in the movie we are shown that Snape begged Dumbledore to protect the entire family, in the Deathly Hallows book, we learn that he only asked for Lily to be saved. Yes, Snape turned around his life to protect her, but he didn’t care about saving the two people that she loved the most: James and Harry. Snape did not see the error of his ways, rather he just wanted the woman that he loved to continue to live. He promised to do anything for Dumbledore in order for Lily to survive. And so Snape’s allegiance changed. Until his death, Snape’s Patronus was a doe – a reference to his love for Lily. We are expected to believe that he has always loved her and has only been protecting Harry despite his hatred for Harry’s father. But Severus Snape is partially, if not fully, to blame for the death of Lily’s husband and – eventually – her own. That doesn’t sound like love to me.
Before his sacrificial death during the Battle of Hogwarts, however, Severus spent years terrorizing students. Neville Longbottom was so terrified of Snape that his Boggart turned into him – his literal greatest fear was his Potions professor. Snape consistently referred to individual Hogwarts students as idiots. He took a personal childhood vendetta and escalated it, attempting to “out” Remus Lupin as a werewolf. He showed a ridiculous amount of favoritism for his own House and a ridiculous amount of prejudice against Gryffindors, especially Harry – all because Harry looked like his father, James, who had bullied Severus as a child.
Now, I’m not saying that James was a great man either. But one might argue that James – who, if you calculate the information that we’re given throughout the series, was probably about 21 years old when he died – matured. He grew up. He got married and started a family. He was in the Order and fought against Voldemort, which ended up getting him killed.
So no, I don’t care that Severus Snape “always” loved Lily.
But like I said, this isn’t another article solely to hate on Snape. I’m writing this to tell you that the only “always” in the series that matters to me is when Harry is going to his death and sees his mother, his father, Sirius, and Remus by using the Resurrection Stone:
Harry: You’ll stay with me?
James: Until the very end.
Harry: He won’t be able to see you?
Sirius shakes his head, gestures to Harry’s heart.
Sirius: No. We’re here, you see.
Harry turns to his mother.
Harry: Stay close to me.
*Full disclosure. In the book, Lily doesn’t actually say anything here, but this is one of those magic movie moments.
If we are going to recognize someone’s never-ending love and sacrifices for the one that they loved, it should be Lily’s for Harry, not Snape’s for Lily. Lily died for Harry. She was just 21 years old, but her love protected him through his first 17 years. She provided the means for Voldemort to be defeated. She was selfless, kind, caring, and sacrificed herself for her child. She was young, but her actions were clear. Unlike Snape, she showed true, pure, unchanging love. Always.