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Is “Always”, really Snape’s best line?

Check out this amazing article on Severus Snape by my friend Hermione Lovegood. For more of her writings check out her blog - The Daily Quibbler, where she analyzes various books and movies from an unusual point of view. The idea behind the name, as you can see is also derived from our beloved ‘Harry Potter’.

Maybe, few of the most used quotes of all time, from the Harry Potter series is - After all this time? and, it’s apt retort - Always. Deep down, we all know that Severus Snape can beat many great lovers of the fictional world. So, for us Potterheads, “After all this time” and “Always” replaced the magic words - I love you. Because these, more than anything else, reveal the potion master’s heart before our eyes, the heart that was capable of loving forever, loving ceaselessly, loving despite all the hatred he got.

Or do they?

Ever since I first read The Deathly Hallows, I was convinced that these are not the best words to reflect Snape’s heart. So, I began searching, analysing, re-reading the books. And, after a lot of digging, I think I’m finally convinced that I have found out the best line that Snape has ever uttered. So here I am writing to convince you of the same.

Love might not necessarily change a person, but it certainly has the potential to. For instance, it did so to a person whose early life was wrecked by lack of care, excess of bitter treatment, abandonment, and who, despite having better paths, overlooked them drowned in resentment, and could not help himself from descending deep into the dark arts. But at the same time, love cannot change a person who does not know its meaning.

There’s hardly any doubt that despite having a soul, as beautiful as, the wild white flower that blooms in the deepest parts of the forest, he was never the one to open its doors. But then, love came from the overwhelming power of opening those very doors. But when I talk about someone loving Severus Snape, so deeply, that it kindled a thousand untouched candles in every dark passage of his soul, mind, and life, I’m not referring to Lily Evans, but the extraordinary Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

It’s well known that Snape kept on protecting Harry and fighting the battle against Voldemort, out of his undying love for Lily. But, according to me, that’s only partially correct. His love for Lily was indeed eternal, but that was definitely not the most important factor behind Snape’s unshaken resolution. With time, the former Death Eater turned into a man who did not need any promise to drive him on the path of goodness. Snape indeed vowed to protect Harry because he didn’t want Lily’s sacrifice to go in vain. But later, his motive became broader and more enlightened. His character development over the years supports this argument. There are three, very clear examples of this progress.

First, in The Deathly Hallows, we find out that during The Battle of Seven Potters, Snape attempts to protect one of his so-called ”enemies”, Lupin (although the curse made George, ’saint-like’ instead). The mere fact that he buried his childhood enmity against A Marauder and tried to save him, risking his cover, alone, is enough indication of his transformation. Remember, he had no debt to repay this time, like he had when he protected Harry from Quirrell. He saved Lupin for no reason other than the impulse of saving an innocent man. Thus, we realise that his acclimation to killing and murder was long eliminated.

Directly linked with this, is the second example, which we will observe through this excerpt -

’Don’t be so shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?’

‘Lately, only those whom I could not save’ said Snape.

Is it not in sharp contrast with the man, who once, only cared about Lily, and was unmoved by the fact that an infant will also be killed?

And the final nail in the coffin, from ‘The Prince’s Tale’ — The Deathly Hallows -

‘Headmaster! They are camping in the Forest of Dean! The Mudblood –‘

‘Do not use that word!’

It is such an amazing situational irony that Snape(the then Headmaster), who, in his anger, himself used this insulting word on Lily- his love, couldn’t even endure it from a Death Eater anymore.

These examples indubitably clarify that there was more to it than just his love for Lily that went into making Severus Snape, the character we have come to admire. But how were these changes possible? As we have already established, that while his unrequited love and remorse did set him on the path of goodness, that alone wasn’t enough to change him altogether. What actually turned him into an overall good, sensible, and an empathetic person is his association with Albus Dumbledore.

Yes, that’s right, Albus Dumbledore’s presence worked as a true Philosopher’s Stone for Snape. This “greatest wizard of all time” loved the desolate man. In a world where Snape received nothing but distrust, disrespect, and dishonour, Dumbledore was the only person who knew the real Severus. Dumbledore was the only person to acknowledge the goodness within him. And Snape was grateful. Yes, he was grateful to the one person who believed him in the whole world. And naturally, it was very important to him to keep the Headmaster’s trust. Being a gifted Occlumens, he didn’t show it often, but we catch a few glimpses of his heart sometimes. For example, when Mad-Eye Moody(disguised Crouch Jr, to be precise) questions Dumbledore’s trust over Snape, the hooked nose man instantly became defensive –

‘Dumbledore happens to trust me,’ said Snape through clenched teeth. ‘I refuse to believe that he gave you orders to search my office!’

Apart from this extract, there are few words uttered by Snape, which clearly, uncloaks how much it meant for him to let Dumbledore know about the effort he put in his reform. And thus comes the words which I think are more significant than ’After all this time’ and ’Always’. When Dumbledore gave Snape the task of killing him, he told us that he cared for the soul of Draco. And at that very moment, maybe being unable to restrain himself anymore, Snape asked him –

‘And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?’

These words speak more than anything about ’the bravest man’ we know. It speaks of how he had been ceaselessly working to refine his soul from the moment Dumbledore offered an enlightened world for him. They reveal how Snape, at last, got a person in his life whom he could touch with all the unromantic feelings possible between two closed persons. It speaks of the pain of Severus Snape, as well as the love within him. While his love for Lily set him on the right path, the love of Dumbledore was his constant companion on this path.

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