In the thirty-third chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry must face the tragic and life-shattering consequences of his fight with Voldemort. When he finally uses the Pensieve to view Snape’s secret thoughts, the entire series is rewritten in a new context. Intrigued? It’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 33: THE PRINCE’S TALE
I am utterly confused.
Is it seriously possible that Snape has been hiding some sort of secret that he was waiting to reveal until the last moment? Did he intend for Harry to be the recipient of that secret? Will my mind turn to mush when I find out what it is?
It’s become common now that I don’t get much time to ponder these sort of things while I’m reading a Harry Potter book. These last few chapters have been harder than usual because in between large bouts of action and mind-melting revelations; I’ve had to curb myself from quoting the entirety of the chapter a couple times and I’ve also resorted to jotting down notes while reading so I don’t forget anything crucial.
God, I am so close to figuring this all out. SO CLOSE.
- Harry remained kneeling at Snape’s side, simply staring down at him, until quite suddenly a high, cold voice spoke so close to them that Harry jumped on his feet, the flask gripped tightly in his hands, thinking that Voldemort had reentered the room.
Voldemort’s voice reverberated from the walls and floor, and Harry realized that he was talking to Hogwarts and to all the surrounding area, that the residents of Hogsmeade and all those still fighting in the castle would hear him as clearly as if he stood beside them, his breath on the back of their necks, a deathblow away.
Could this be creepier? I mean...it’s like that moment earlier in the novel where Harry told Hermione he was right behind her while invisible. Though I suppose Voldemort intends to be creepy and unsettling here, so...yeah. There’s that.
- “You have fought,” said the high, cold voice, “valiantly. Lord Voldemort knows how to value bravery.
“Yet you have sustained heavy losses. If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one. I do not wish this to happen. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a loss and a waste.
“Lord Voldemort is merciful. I command my forces to retreat immediately.
“You have one hour. Dispose of your dead with dignity. Treat your injured.
“I speak now, Harry Potter, directly to you. You have permitted your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have not come to me, have not given yourself up, then battle recommences. This time, I shall enter the fray myself, Harry Potter, and I shall find you, and I shall punish every last man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me. One hour.”
Ok, seriously, YOU ARE NOT MERCIFUL AT ALL, VOLDEMORT. But ok, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Who would seriously believe this? I mean, he contradicts himself at the very end. I AM A MERCIFUL LORD BUT OH WAIT I WILL MURDER YOU ALL IN AN HOUR.
- She glanced at Snape’s body, then hurried back to the tunnel entrance. Ron followed her. Harry gathered up the Invisibility Cloak, then looked down at Snape. He did not know what to feel, except shock at the way Snape had been killed, and the reason for which it had been done.
You know, even I don’t know how to feel about Snape anymore. Actually...is it weird that I fear being embarrassed by my supreme hatred of Snape in all my past reviews? I just looked back at a few of them since the beginning of Half-Blood Prince and...wow, I really hated Snape. I think I still don’t like him at all and it’s going to take a lot for me to feel otherwise, but...oh boy. WHY AM I FREAKING OUT SO MUCH ABOUT A GODDAMN BOOK what is wrong with me
- Small bundles seemed to litter the lawn at the front of the castle (?). It could only be an hour or so from dawn, yet it was pitch-black. The three of them hurried toward the stone steps. A lone dog, the size of a small boat, lay abandoned in front of them. There was no other sign of Grawp or of his attacker.
The castle was unnaturally silent. There were no flashes of light now, no bangs or screams or shouts. The flagstones of the deserted entrance hall were stained with blood. Emeralds were still scattered all over the floor, along with pieces of marble and splintered wood. Part of the banisters had been blown away.
The most unbelievable sense of dread came over me when I read this. The battle isn’t exciting or entertaining anymore. It’s real and it had real consequences.
- Ron led the way to the Great Hall. Harry stopped in the doorway. The House tables were gone and the room was crowded. The survivors stood in groups, their arms around each other’s necks. The injured were being treated upon the raised platform by Madam Pomfrey and a group of helpers. Firenze was amongst the injured; his flank poured blood and he shook where he lay, unable to stand.
Oh no. Firenze!!! :( :(
- The dead lay in a row in the middle of the Hall. Harry could not see Fred’s body, because his family surrounded him. George was kneeling at his head; Mrs. Weasley was lying across Fred’s chest, her body shaking. Mr. Weasley stroking her hair while tears cascaded down his cheeks.
Yeah, this is not going to get any easier. At all. I’m heartbroken. I can’t believe Fred is dead.
- Without a word to Harry, Ron and Hermione walked away. Harry saw Hermione approach Ginny, whose face was swollen and blotchy, and hug her. Ron joined Bill, Fleur, and Percy, who flung an arm around Ron’s shoulders. As Ginny and Hermione moved closer to the rest of the family, Harry had a clear view of the bodies lying next to Fred. Remus and Tonks, pale and still and peaceful-looking, apparently asleep beneath the dark, enchanted ceiling.
FUCK YOU, J.K. ROWLING. No. You can’t. You can’t do that. You can’t fucking do that.
Oh my god, well the tears have started flowing again. This is worse than Dumbledore and worse than Sirius and worse than anyone yet. THEY JUST HAD A FUCKING CHILD.
I want you to know I literally slammed the book down here and told my friends that I did not want to read another sentence. I didn’t want a world without Lupin and Tonks. I still don’t. I don’t know if I’ll ever, ever get over their death. It’s so senseless and cruel and HEY ROWLING YOU JUST CREATED ANOTHER ORPHANED CHILD oh god my heart hurts so bad.
But I had to continue, despite how painful it was to read that my absolute favorite character and his wife were dead. I HAD TO PRESS ON.
- The Great Hall seemed to fly away, become smaller, shrink, as Harry reeled backward from the doorway. He could not draw breath. He could not bear to look at any of the other bodies, to see who else had died for him. He could not bear to join the Weasleys, could not look into their eyes, when if he had given himself up in the first place, Fred might never have died...
He turned away and ran up the marble staircase. Lupin, Tonks... He yearned not to feel... He wished he could rip out his heart, his innards, everything that was screaming inside him.
Honestly, I can’t even imagine the guilt and the terror Harry is feeling at this moment. Let’s be honest; I’ve gone through some fucked up shit. But this? Yeah, this is way worse than anything I’ve ever had to face. AWFUL.
- But when Harry burst into the circular office he found a change. The portraits that hung all around the walls were empty. Not a single headmaster or headmistress remained to see him; all, it seemed, had flitted away, charging through the paintings that lined the castle so that they could have a clear view of what was going on.
Harry glanced hopelessly at Dumbledore’s deserted frame, which hung directly behind the headmaster’s chair, then turned his back on it. The stone Pensieve lay in the cabinet where it had always been. Harry heaved it onto the desk and poured Snape’s memories into the wide basin with its runic markings around the edge. To escape into someone else’s head would be a blessed relief... Nothing that even Snape had left him could be worse than his own thoughts. The memories swirled, silver white and strange,and without hesitating, with a feeling of reckless abandonment, as though this would assuage his torturing grief, Harry dived.
Rowling’s deliberate parallel of the vacancy of the headmaster’s office with that of Harry’s heart is goddamn depressing. Harry feels like he’s lost everyone and here, in that office, he sees that those from Howarts’s past have also left as well.
But I digress. HARRY IS GOING TO LOOK AT SNAPE’S MEMORY RIGHT NOW??? Grab your bowl of popcorn, readers, because it’s going to get so fucking real.
- He fell headlong into sunlight, and his feet found warm ground. When he straightened up, he saw that he was in a nearly deserted playground. A single huge chimney dominated the distant skyline. Two girls were swinging backward and forward, and a skinny boy was watching them from behind a clump of bushes. His black hair was overlong and his clothes were so mismatched that it looked deliberate: too short jeans, a shabby, overlarge coat that might have belonged to a grown man, an odd smocklike shirt.
Harry moved closer to the boy. Snape looked no more than nine or ten years old, sallow, small, stringy. There was undisguised greed in his thin face as he watched the younger of the two girls swinging higher and higher than her sister.
“Lily, don’t do it!” shrieked the elder of the two.
HEAD. HAS. FUCKING. EXPLODED. Snape? As a child? Spying on fucking Lily and Petunia????? OH MY GOD THIS IS UNREAL. He knew them???
- But the girl had let go of the swing at the very height of its arc and flown into the air, quite literally flown, launched herself skyward with a great shout of laughter, and instead of crumpling on the playground asphalt, she soared like a trapeze artist through the air, staying up far too long, landing far too lightly.
“Mummy told you not to!”
Petunia stopped her swing by dragging the heels of her sandals on the ground, making a crunching, grinding sound, then lept up, hands on hips.
“Mummy said you weren’t allowed, Lily!”
“But I’m fine,” said Lily, still giggling. “Tuney, look at this. Watch what I can do.” Petunia glanced around. The playground was deserted apart from themselves and, though the girls did not know it, Snape. Lily had picked up a fallen flower from the bush behind which Snape lurked. Petunia advanced, evidently torn between curiosity and disapproval. Lily waited until Petunia was near enough to have a clear view, then held out her palm. The flower sat there, opening and closing its petals, like some bizarre, many-lipped oyster.
I can’t. I just can’t believe this is happening. Remember when I complained that the Dursley story was unsatisfying? Are we seriously seeing an explanation for why Aunt Petunia hated Harry’s mother so much?? OH MYYYYYYYY GOOOOOODDDDD.
- “How do you do it?” she added, and there was definite longing in her voice.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Snape could no longer contain himself, but had jumped out from behind the bushes. Petunia shrieked and ran backward toward the swings, but Lily, though clearly startled, remained where she was. Snape seemed to regret his appearance. A dull flush of color mounted the sallow cheeks as he looked at Lily.
“What’s obvious?” asked Lily.
Snape had an air of nervous excitement. With a glance at the distant Petunia, now hovering beside the swings, he lowered his voice and said, “I know what you are.”
THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. Snape fucking KNEW Lily Potter? WHY??? How??? HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE????
- “You’re...you’re a witch,” whispered Snape.
She looked affronted.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say to somebody!”
She turned, nose in the air, and marched off toward her sister.
“No!” said Snape. He was highly colored now, and Harry wondered why he did not take off the ridiculously large coat, unless it was because he did not want to reveal the smock beneath it. He flapped after the girls, looking ludicrously batlike, like his older self.
The sisters considered him, united in disapproval, both holding on to one of the swing poles, as though it was the safe place in tag.
“You are,” said Snape to Lily. “You are a witch. I’ve been watching you for a while. But there’s nothing wrong with that. My mum’s one, and I’m a wizard.”
What a fantastic parallel to Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry is confronted by Hagrid and told he is a wizard. Unsurprisingly, though, Snape’s interaction with Lily is much creepier.
- “Wizard!” she shrieked, her courage returned now that she had recovered from the shock of his unexpected appearance. “I know who you are. You’re that Snape boy! They live down Spinner’s End by the river,” she told Lily, and it was evident from her tone that she considered the address a poor recommendation. “Why have you been spying on us?”
“Haven’t been spying,” said Snape, hot and uncomfortable and dirty-haired in the bright sunlight. “Wouldn’t spy on you, anyway,” he added spitefully, “you’re a Muggle.”
Though Petunia evidently did not understand the word, she could hardly mistake the tone.
Oh, so Snape was a total bigot even as a young kid. Awesome.
- There was a little silence. Lily had picked up a fallen twig and twirled it in the air, and Harry knew that she was imagining sparks trailing from it. Then she dropped the twig, leaned in toward the boy, and said, “It is real, isn’t it? It’s not a joke? Petunia says you’re lying to me. Petunia says there isn’t a Hogwarts. It is real, isn’t it?”
“It’s real for us,” said Snape. “Not for her. But we’ll get the letter, you and me.”
“Really?” whispered Lily.
“Definitely,” said Snape, and even with his poorly cut hair and his odd clothes, he struck an oddly impressive figure sprawled in front of her, brimful of confidence in his destiny.
They were friends. THEY WERE FRIENDS. A;LKSDFJAS;LKJF I LITERALLY CANNOT COMPREHEND THIS PLOT TWIST. Why didn’t Snape mention this to Harry AT ANY POINT IN THE PREVIOUS BOOKS.
Now I’m just imagining Harry screaming in the snow during the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!
- “Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?”
Snape hesitated. His black eyes, eager in the greenish gloom, moved over the pale face, the dark red hair.
“No,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference.”
Someone is trying to hide their prejudice! Which makes me wonder...how much of what Snape did during his life was based on this sort of bigotry he held since he was a child? Or was he trying to fit in?
- “How are things at your house?” Lily asked.
A little crease appeared between his eyes.
“Fine,” he said. “They’re not arguing anymore?”
“Oh yes, they’re arguing,” said Snape. He picked up a fistful of leaves and began tearing them apart, apparently unaware of what he was doing. “But it won’t be that long and I’ll be gone.”
“Doesn’t your dad like magic?”
“He doesn’t like anything, much,” said Snape.
Rowling, are you trying to make me feel sorry for Snape? You’re going to have to try much harder than this.
- “Tuney!” said Lily, surprise and welcome in her voice, but Snape had jumped to his feet.
“Who’s spying now?” he shouted. “What d’you want?”
Petunia was breathless, alarmed at being caught. Harry could see her struggling for something hurtful to say.
“What is that you’re wearing, anyway?” she said, pointing at Snape’s chest. “Your mum’s blouse?”
There was a crack. A branch over Petunia’s head had fallen. Lily screamed. The branch caught Petunia on the shoulder, and she staggered backward and burst into tears.
“Tuney!” But Petunia was running away. Lily rounded on Snape. “Did you make that happen?”
“No.” He looked both defiant and scared.
“You did!” She was backing away from him. “You did! You hurt her!”
“No – no, I didn’t!”
But the lie did not convince Lily. After one last burning look, she ran from the little thicket, off after her sister, and Snape looked miserable and confused.
Ok, you’re actually trying pretty hard, Rowling. But I’m not sure I understand the point of all this. So Snape knew Lily this whole time and appears to have had a crush on her as well. And......so?
- And the scene re-formed. Harry looked around. He was on platform nine and three quarters, and Snape stood beside him, slightly hunched, next to a thin, sallow-faced, sour-looking woman who greatly resembled him. Snape was staring at a family of four a short distance away. The two girls stood a little apart from their parents. Lily seemed to be pleading with her sister. Harry moved closer to listen.
“...I’m sorry, Tuney, I’m sorry! Listen – ” She caught her sister’s hand and held tight to it, even though Petunia tried to pull it away. “Maybe once I’m there – no, listen, Tuney! Maybe once I’m there, I’ll be able to go to Professor Dumbledore and persuade him to change his mind!”
“I don’t – want – to – go!” said Petunia, and she dragged her hand back out of her sister’s grasp. “You think I want to go to some stupid castle and learn to be a – a...”
HOLY SHIT! Petunia was rejected by Hogwarts. Which explains her intense hatred of her sister and everything magical. It’s why she was so mean to Harry, it’s why she ultimately obeyed Dumbledore, and it’s why she probably married someone like Dursley.
- “ – you think I want to be a – a freak?”
Lily’s eyes filled with tears as Petunia succeeded in tugging her hand away.
“I’m not a freak,” said Lily. “That’s a horrible thing to say.”
“That’s where you’re going,” said Petunia with relish. “A special school for freaks. You and that Snape boy...weirdos, that’s what you two are. It’s good you’re being separated from normal people. It’s for our safety.”
The source of Petunia’s bigotry. Holy god. HOLY SHIT!!!
- “I don’t want to talk to you,” she said in a constricted voice.
“Tuney h-hates me. Because we saw that letter from Dumbledore.”
She threw him a look of deep dislike. “So she’s my sister!”
“She’s only a – ” He caught himself quickly; Lily, too busy trying to wipe her eyes without being noticed, did not hear him.
It’s clear that Snape’s trying not to be an asshole, but I think he’s avoiding his prejudicial thoughts only to impress Lily, not necessarily because he thinks it’s wrong.
- “You’d better be in Slytherin,” said Snape, encouraged that she had brightened a little.
One of the boys sharing the compartment, who had shown no interest at all in Lily or Snape until that point, looked around at the word, and Harry, whose attention had been focused entirely on the two beside the window, saw his father: slight, black-haired like Snape, but with that indefinable air of having been well-cared-for, even adored, that Snape so conspicuously lacked.
“Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?” James asked the boy lounging on the seats opposite him, and with a jolt, Harry realized that it was Sirius. Sirius did not smile.
OH MY GOD BRAIN EXPLOSION IMMINENT.
- Snape made a small, disparaging noise. James turned on him.
“Got a problem with that?”
“No,” said Snape, though his slight sneer said otherwise. “If you’d rather be brawny than brainy – ”
“Where’re you hoping to go, seeing as you’re neither?” interjected Sirius. James roared with laughter. Lily sat up, rather flushed, and looked from James to Sirius in dislike.
“Come on, Severus, let’s find another compartment.”
James and Sirius imitated her lofty voice; James tried to trip Snape as he passed.
“See ya, Snivellus!” a voice called, as the compartment door slammed.
Right from the beginning, James and Sirius picked on Severus. Ok, Rowling, you’re starting to win me over.....
- Lily and Snape were walking across the castle courtyard, evidently arguing. Harry hurried to catch up with them, to listen in. As he reached them, he realized how much taller they both were. A few years seemed to have passed since their Sorting.
“...thought we were supposed to be friends?” Snape was saying, “Best friends?”
“We are, Sev, but I don’t like some of the people you’re hanging round with! I’m sorry, but I detest Avery and Mulciber! Mulciber! What do you see in him, Sev, he’s creepy! D’you know what he tried to do to Mary Macdonald the other day?”
Lily had reached a pillar and leaned against it, looking up into the thin, sallow face.
“That was nothing,” said Snape. “It was a laugh, that’s all – ”
They were friends for years. Not just when they were kids, but for quite some time. HOW DID NO ONE MENTION THIS AT ALL.
- “It was Dark Magic, and if you think that’s funny – ”
“What about the stuff Potter and his mates get up to?” demanded Snape. His color rose again as he said it, unable, it seemed, to hold in his resentment.
“What’s Potter got to do with anything?” said Lily.
“They sneak out at night. There’s something weird about that Lupin. Where does he keep going?”
“He’s ill,” said Lily. “They say he’s ill – ”
“Every month at the full moon?” said Snape.
“I know your theory,” said Lily, and she sounded cold. “Why are you so obsessed with them anyway? Why do you care what they’re doing at night?”
“I’m just trying to show you they’re not as wonderful as everyone seems to think they are.”
Despite that Snape has a personal interest in demonstrating this to Lily and it’s an ulterior motive, I think it’s important that Rowling made a point to add this to the characters of Sirius, James, and Lupin. It was too easy to hate Snape and cheer on the Marauders and the world simply doesn’t work that way.
- The intensity of his gaze made her blush. “They don’t use Dark Magic, though.”
Touche, Lily Potter. Touche.
- “I didn’t mean – I just don’t want to see you made a fool of – He fancies you, James Potter fancies you!” The words seemed wrenched from him against his will. “And he’s not...everyone thinks...big Quidditch hero – ” Snape’s bitterness and dislike were rendering him incoherent, and Lily’s eyebrows were traveling farther and farther up her forehead.
“I know James Potter’s an arrogant toerag,” she said, cutting across Snape. “I don’t need you to tell me that. But Mulciber’s and Avery’s idea of humor is just evil. Evil, Sev. I don’t understand how you can be friends with them.”
So Snape is clearly crushing on Lily Potter, which makes me think that there’s going to be some sort of revelation about Snape’s treatment of Harry. Obviously, Snape doesn’t end up with Lily; James does. Did he resent this so much that he took it out on Harry?
I’m still confused, though, because Snape obviously holds bigoted ideas and hangs out with some pretty terrible people. DO NOT GET.
- He watched as Lily joined the group and went to Snape’s defense. Distantly he heard Snape shout at her in his humiliation and his fury, the unforgivable word: “Mudblood.”
The scene changed...
“I’m not interested.”
“Save your breath”
It was nighttime. Lily, who was wearing a dressing gown, stood with her arms folded in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady, at the entrance to Gryffindor Tower.
“I only came out because Mary told me you were threatening to sleep here.”
“I was. I would have done. I never meant to call you Mudblood, it just – ”
“Slipped out?” There was no pity in Lily’s voice. “It’s too late. I’ve made excuses for you for years. None of my friends can understand why I even talk to you. You and your precious little Death Eater friends – you see, you don’t even deny it! You don’t even deny that’s what you’re all aiming to be! You can’t wait to join You-Know-Who, can you?”
FUCK. Snape, what are you doing? You know, I honestly feel like Snape may have even had a chance with Lily, but he’s so interested in the Dark Arts and doing evil, terrible things. It’s actually a pretty fascinating character dichotomy and is already helping to explain Snape more than anything before. But why be this way? Why is he so obsessed with evil?
- “I can’t pretend anymore. You’ve chosen your way, I’ve chosen mine.”
“No – listen, I didn’t mean – ”
“ – to call me Mudblood? But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?”
He struggled on the verge of speech, but with a contemptuous look she turned and climbed back through the portrait hole.
She makes a good point. Snape is only apologizing because it’s her. He would never apologize to an actual Mudblood aside from her, would he?
- The adult Snape was panting, turning on the spot, his wand gripped tightly in his hand, waiting for something or for someone... His fear infected Harry too, even though he knew that he could not be harmed, and he looked over his shoulder, wondering what it was that Snape was waiting for –
Then a blinding, jagged jet of white light flew through the air. Harry thought of lightning, but Snape had dropped to his knees and his wand had flown out of his hand.
“Don’t kill me!”
“That was not my intention.”
Any sound of Dumbledore Apparating had been drowned by the sound of the wind in the branches. He stood before Snape with his robes whipping around him, and his face was illuminated from below in the light cast by his wand.
OH SHIT IT’S DUMBLEDORE! Are we FINALLY going to get an explanation for Dumbledore’s inherent trust of Snape?
- “What request could a Death Eater make of me?”
“The – the prophecy...the prediction...Trelawney...”
“Ah, yes,” said Dumbledore. “How much did you relay to Lord Voldemort?”
“Everything – everything I heard!” said Snape. “That is why – it is for that reason – he thinks it means Lily Evans!”
“The prophecy did not refer to a woman,” said Dumbledore. “It spoke of a boy born at the end of July – ”
“You know what I mean! He thinks it means her son, he is going to hunt her down – kill them all – ”
“If she means so much to you,” said Dumbledore, “surely Lord Voldemort will spare her? Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the son?”
“I have – I have asked him – ”
“You disgust me,” said Dumbledore, and Harry had never heard so much contempt in his voice. Snape seemed to shrink a little, “You do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?”
I HAVE NEVER SEEN SHIT GET REALER THAN THIS. Oh my god, what is going on. Is this how Snape won Dumbledore’s trust?
- Snape said nothing, but merely looked up at Dumbledore.
“Hide them all, then,” he croaked. “Keep her – them – safe. Please.”
“And what will you give me in return, Severus?”
“In – in return?” Snape gaped at Dumbledore, and Harry expected him to protest, but after a long moment he said, “Anything.”
What did Snape give Dumbledore????
- “I thought...you were going...to keep her...safe...”
“She and James put their faith in the wrong person,” said Dumbledore. “Rather like you, Severus. Weren’t you hoping that Lord Voldemort would spare her?”
Snape’s breathing was shallow.
“Her boy survives,” said Dumbledore.
With a tiny jerk of the head, Snape seemed to flick off an irksome fly.
“Her son lives. He has her eyes, precisely her eyes. You remember the shape and color of Lily Evans’s eyes, I am sure?”
“DON’T!” bellowed Snape. “Gone...dead...”
“Is this remorse, Severus?”
“I wish...I wish I were dead...”
“And what use would that be to anyone?” said Dumbledore coldly. “If you loved Lily Evans, if you truly loved her, then your way forward is clear.”
OOOOMMMMMGGGGGGG holy shit, have we ever seen Dumbledore this angry???
- “You know how and why she died. Make sure it was not in vain. Help me protect Lily’s son.”
“He does not need protection. The Dark Lord has gone – ”
“The Dark Lord will return, and Harry Potter will be in terrible danger when he does.”
There was a long pause, and slowly Snape regained control of himself, mastered his own breathing. At last he said, “Very well. Very well. But never – never tell, Dumbledore! This must be between us! Swear it! I cannot bear...especially Potter’s son...I want your word!”
“My word, Severus, that I shall never reveal the best of you?” Dumbledore sighed, looking down into Snape’s ferocious, anguished face. “If you insist...”
I am aghast. I can’t believe what this suggests. Was Snape actually...helping Potter? But why was he so mean to him? Why did he bully Harry and his friends?
- Snape was pacing up and down in front of Dumbledore.
“ – mediocre, arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker, delighted to find himself famous, attention-seeking and impertinent – ”
“You see what you expect to see, Severus,” said Dumbledore, without raising his eyes from a copy of Transfiguration Today. “Other teachers report that the boy is modest, likable, and reasonably talented. Personally, I find him an engaging child.”
Dumbledore turned a page, and said, without looking up, “Keep an eye on Quirrell, won’t you?”
WHAT THE SHIT WHAT THE FUCK MY BRAIN
- “Well?” murmured Dumbledore.
“Karkaroff’s Mark is becoming darker too. He is panicking, he fears retribution; you know how much help he gave the Ministry after the Dark Lord fell.” Snape looked sideways at Dumbledore’s crooked-nosed profile. “Karkaroff intends to flee if the Mark burns.”
“Does he?” said Dumbledore softly, as Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies came giggling in from the grounds. “And are you tempted to join him?”
“No,” said Snape, his black eyes on Fleur’s and Roger’s retreating figures. “I am not such a coward.”
“No,” agreed Dumbledore. “You are a braver man by far than Igor Karkaroff. You know, I sometimes think we Sort too soon...”
He walked away, leaving Snape looking stricken.
I love this so much. She is using the Pensieve to fill in the plot gaps from the entire goddamn series. JESUS THIS RULES SO MUCH.
I also enjoy that Dumbledore considers the notion that sorting takes place at such a young age. People can change so much from when there were eleven years old, and I think even our trio exhibits that in a way. (I still do consider them Gryffindors, though some days Hermione is very Ravenclaw.)
- It was nighttime, and Dumbledore sagged sideways in the thronelike chair behind the desk, apparently semiconscious. His right hand dangled over the side, blackened and burned. Snape was muttering incantations, pointing his wand at the wrist of the hand, while with his left hand he tipped a goblet full of thick golden potion down Dumbledore’s throat. After a moment or two, Dumbledore’s eyelids fluttered and opened.
“Why,” said Snape, without preamble, “why did you put on that ring? It carries a curse, surely you realized that. Why even touch it?”
Marvolo Gaunt’s ring lay on the desk before Dumbledore. It was cracked; the sword of Gryffindor lay beside it.
Dumbledore grimaced. “I...was a fool. Sorely tempted...”
“Tempted by what?”
Dumbledore did not answer.
TEMPTED BY THE FUCKING RESURRECTION STONE. Oh my god, it’s all coming together. I don’t know if I can take anymore of this.
- “You have done very well, Severus. How long do you think I have?”
Dumbledore’s tone was conversational; he might have been asking for a weather forecast. Snape hesitated, and then said, “I cannot tell. Maybe a year. There is no halting such a spell forever. It will spread eventually, it is the sort of curse that strengthens over time.”
Dumbledore smiled. The news that he had less than a year to live seemed a matter of little or no concern to him.
WAIT. WAIT. WAIT. WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK
IS THIS REALLY FUCKING HAPPENING oh my god
- “In short, the boy has had a death sentence pronounced upon him as surely as I have,” said Dumbledore. “Now, I should have thought the natural successor to the job, once Draco fails, is yourself?”
There was a short pause. “That, I think, is the Dark Lord’s plan.”
“Lord Voldemort foresees a moment in the near future when he will not need a spy at Hogwarts?”
“He believes the school will soon be in his grasp, yes.”
“And if it does fall into his grasp,” said Dumbledore, almost, it seemed, as an aside, “I have your word that you will do all in your power to protect the students at Hogwarts?”
Snape gave a stiff nod.
I want you to know that, even reading this a second time, I have goosebumps. I cannot believe this is real. I cannot believe I was so goddamn wrong. Holy shit, guys.
- “All the same, try. I am concerned less for myself than for accidental victims of whatever schemes might occur to the boy. Ultimately, of course, there is only one thing to be done if we are to save him from Lord Voldemort’s wrath.”
Snape raised his eyebrows and his tone was sardonic as he asked, “Are you intending to let him kill you?”
“Certainly not. You must kill me.”
WHAT THE HOLY SHIT JUST HAPPENED. My brain has fucking turned to mush. SNAPE WAS ORDERED TO KILL DUMBLEDORE BY DUMBLEDORE HIMSELF.
- “Would you like me to do it now?” asked Snape, his voice heavy with irony. “Or would you like a few moments to compose an epitaph?”
“Oh, not quite yet,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “I daresay the moment will present itself in due course. Given what has happened tonight,” he indicated his withered hand, “we can be sure that it will happen within a year.”
“If you don’t mind dying,” said Snape roughly, “why not let Draco do it?”
“That boy’s soul is not yet so damaged,” said Dumbledore. “I would not have it ripped apart on my account.
Cannot. Process. Brain. Overload.
- “And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?”
“You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,” said Dumbledore. “I ask this one great favor of you, Severus, because death is coming for me as surely as the Chudley Cannons will finish bottom of this year’s league. I confess I should prefer a quick, painless exit to the protracted and messy affair it will be if, for instance, Greyback is involved – I hear Voldemort has recruited him? Or dear Bellatrix, who likes to play with her food before she eats it.”
His tone was light, but his blue eyes pierced Snape as they had frequently pierced Harry, as though the soul they discussed was visible to him. At last Snape gave another curt nod. Dumbledore seemed satisfied.
“Thank you, Severus...”
Everything is finally starting to make sense. A really MESSED UP sense, but the pieces are finally coming together.
- “In looks, perhaps, but his deepest nature is much more like his mother’s. I spend time with Harry because I have things to discuss with him, information I must give him before it is too late.”
“Information,” repeated Snape. “You trust him...you do not trust me.”
“It is not a question of trust. I have, as we both know, limited time. It is essential that I give the boy enough information for him to do what he needs to do.”
“And why may I not have the same information?”
“I prefer not to put all of my secrets in one basket, particularly not a basket that spends so much time dangling on the arm of Lord Voldemort.”
Also, Snape, you seriously know like everything at this point. Calm down, dude.
- “And you do it extremely well. Do not think that I underestimate the constant danger in which you place yourself, Severus. To give Voldemort what appears to be valuable information while withholding the essentials is a job I would entrust to nobody but you.”
“Yet you confide much more in a boy who is incapable of Occlumency, whose magic is mediocre, and who has a direct connection into the Dark Lord’s mind!”
“Voldemort fears that connection,” said Dumbledore. “Not so long ago he had one small taste of what truly sharing Harry’s mind means to him. It was pain such as he has never experienced. He will not try to possess Harry again, I am sure of it. Not in that way.”
And now the Occlumency lessons have been explained, and so has Harry’s connection with Voldemort, particularly why Harry can see into Voldemort’s mind but not vice-versa.
I think this is my favorite Rowling Info Dump of all time. OF ALL TIME.
- “After you have killed me, Severus – ”
“You refuse to tell me everything, yet you expect that small service of me!” snarled Snape, and real anger flared in the thin face now. “You take a great deal for granted, Dumbledore! Perhaps I have changed my mind!”
It seems Dumbledore operates in a similar manner with those he trusts and I suspect his long-held flaws regarding trust play into that. It’s practical not to confide all your secrets in one person, but there comes a point when it simply doesn’t make much sense, on a friendship level, to openly hide so much about yourself.
- “Harry must not know, not until the last moment, not until it is necessary, otherwise how could he have the strength to do what must be done?”
“But what must he do?”
“That is between Harry and me. Now listen closely, Severus. There will come a time – after my death – do not argue, do not interrupt! There will come a time when Lord Voldemort will seem to fear for the life of his snake.”
“For Nagini?” Snape looked astonished.
“Precisely. If there comes a time when Lord Voldemort stops sending that snake forth to do his bidding, but keeps it safe beside him under magical protection, then, I think, it will be safe to tell Harry.”
“Tell him what?”
WHAT???????? WHAT IS THIS I DON’T GET IT.
- “Tell him that on the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort’s soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself onto the only living soul left in that collapsed building. Part of Lord Voldemort lives inside Harry, and it is that which gives him the power of speech with snakes, and a connection with Lord Voldemort’s mind that he has never understood. And while that fragment of soul, unmissed by Voldemort, remains attached to and protected by Harry, Lord Voldemort cannot die.”
No. NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. NO NO NO NO NO NO.
I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS. Do you realize that prediction I made at the end of Half-Blood Prince was a goddamn joke? I just thought it was a silly thing to say because CLEARLY HARRY COULDN’T DIE.
Oh my god, what the fuck.
- “We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength,” said Dumbledore, his eyes still tight shut. “Meanwhile, the connection between them grows ever stronger, a parasitic growth. Sometimes I have thought he suspects it himself. If I know him, he will have arranged matters so that when he does set out to meet his death, it will truly mean the end of Voldemort.”
Dumbledore opened his eyes. Snape looked horrified. “You have kept him alive so that he can die at the right moment?”
“Don’t be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?”
Harry Potter was kept alive by Snape and Dumbledore so he could sacrifice himself to save the world. It’s very Christ-like and, even as a stone cold atheist, I totally love it. I mean...it makes sense that the story would go this way, wouldn’t it? It’s the ultimate sacrifice for a boy who has grown to be a pretty selfless man.
God, it’s so depressing to think about. Jesus.
- He stood up. “You have used me.”
“I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter – ”
“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?”
“For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!”
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe. She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.
THE SILVER DOE. IT WAS SNAPE. Oh my god, his Patronus represents his unrequited love for Lily Potter. MAY MY HEART SHATTER INTO A TRILLION PIECES.
Snape told Voldemort about Harry’s departure from Little Whinging. Snape accidentally cursed George’s ear. Snape Confunded Mundungus to get him to suggest using the Seven Potters.
It was Snape. IT WAS FUCKING SNAPE. Oh my god.
- And next, Snape was kneeling in Sirius’s old bedroom. Tears were dripping from the end of his hooked nose as he read the old letter from Lily. The second page carried only a few words:
could ever have been friends with Gellert Grindelwald. I think her mind’s going, personally!
Lots of love, Lily
Snape took the page bearing Lily’s signature, and her love, and tucked it inside his robes. Then he ripped in two the photograph he was also holding, so that he kept the part from which Lily laughed, throwing the portion showing James and Harry back onto the floor, under the chest of drawers.
The rest of the letter. The rest of the photography. (That’s actually pretty creepy, isn’t it? Snape essentially severing the photograph to keep the part he wants, right? But his relationship with Lily wasn’t ever that normal anyway.)
- “Good. Very good!” cried the portrait of Dumbledore behind the headmaster’s chair. “Now, Severus, the sword! Do not forget that it must be taken under conditions of need and valor – and he must not know that you give it! If Voldemort should read Harry’s mind and see you acting for him – ”
“I know,” said Snape curtly.
He approached the portrait of Dumbledore and pulled at its side. It swung forward, revealing a hidden cavity behind it from which he took the sword of Gryffindor.
“And you still aren’t going to tell me why it’s so important to give Potter the sword?” said Snape as he swung a traveling cloak over his robes.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Dumbledore’s portrait. “He will know what to do with it. And Severus, be very careful, they may not take kindly to your appearance after George Weasley’s mishap – ”
It was all set-up. It was all carefully manipulated. Snape was actually doing good (well, some good) the entire time.
I am in shock.
- And Snape left the room. Harry rose up out of the Pensieve, and moments later he lay on the carpeted floor in exactly the same room Snape might just have closed the door.
Snape is dead. He died to save Harry’s life, to save the entire world from Lord Voldemort.
And Harry Potter is going to die. Harry Potter is going to die.
Good fucking god, what just happened?