Severus Snape


Professor Severus Snape (9 January, 1960 – 2 May, 1998) was a half-blood dark wizard, the son of the witch Eileen Prince, and the Muggle Tobias Snape, Potions master (1981–1996), member of the Order of the Phoenix, Defence Against the Dark Arts professor (1996-1997), and Headmaster (1997-1998) of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (which he attended as a student from 1971 until 1978). He played a very important role in both of the Wizarding Wars against Lord Voldemort.


Despite Severus Snape’s wizarding heritage, he was instead raised in the Muggle dwelling of Spinner’s End, which was actually in close proximity to the home of the Evans family. He met Lily and Petunia Evans when he was nine, and fell deeply in love with Lily, becoming a very close friend of hers. In 1971 he began his first term at Hogwarts where he was sorted into Slytherin. Severus became the immediate enemy of James Potter and Sirius Black and was a frequent victim of their bullying. Snape had developed a passion for the Dark Arts at a young age, and had followed the pure-blood supremacists in Slytherin House, despite his own marred pedigree and his love for Lily, a Muggle-born. This put his friendship with Lily under great strain. After leaving school he joined the Death Eaters along with a large group of his fellow Slytherins.

Severus Snape was born 9 January, 1960 to Eileen Prince, a pure-blood witch, and Tobias Snape, a Muggle, making him a half-blood wizard. Severus, whose father was emotionally vacant, began to identify with his mother’s family and created a secret nickname from his mother’s maiden name, calling himself “the Half Blood Prince.” His unhappy relationship with his father may have been the origin of his contempt for Muggles. It is implied that Severus was friendless and uncared for by his parents. This lack of care largely shaped Severus’ unpleasant personality and cruel behaviour later in his life.

Severus’ parents lived in a Muggle town near a river, at a place called Spinner’s End. This was Severus’ home throughout his years at Hogwarts. Spinner’s End, located in Cokeworth, is an area of poverty, with cobbled streets, broken street lamps, disused factories and dilapidated houses. Lily Evans and her family likely lived in the same town, close to Spinner’s End. After watching her for some time, Severus noticed her evident magical abilities and began making friendly overtures. The two bonded quickly and it appears that he was very interested in Lily right from the beginning, which was never returned though she regarded him as a friend. During this time he also developed a strong enmity towards her sister, Petunia. This was most likely because she made disparaging comments about his clothes and residence, but may also be because she was a Muggle.

Information from Snape’s own memories of his first interactions with Lily and Petunia suggests that he was an awkward child with poor social skills. Even when it was important to him to make a good impression, he always seemed to have trouble doing so. Snape’s father did not seem to approve of magic, while Severus expressed a disdain for Muggles, even though, or perhaps because, his father was one. The memories show that both he and Lily had powerful talents for magic before attending Hogwarts.

Severus attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a student from 1971 to 1978, and was Sorted into Slytherin, at that time led by Potions professor, Horace Slughorn. On the way to Hogwarts for his first year, Snape sat with Lily on the train, where they met James Potter and Sirius Black. This hostile first encounter, during which James and Sirius came up with the derogatory nickname “Snivellus,” would set the tone for Snape’s enmity with the two Gryffindor wizards for the rest of his life.

Snape was made a member of the Slug Club, presumably because of his brilliance at potion-making, and Horace Slughorn kept a picture of him as a student, clutching his copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Despite this, Slughorn did not have many hopes for Snape’s future, as his photograph was kept behind many others.

According to Sirius Black, Snape excelled at the Dark Arts from an early age; while still in his first year, he knew more curses and hexes than most of the seventh year students. He reportedly was friends with a gang of Slytherins who later became Death Eaters, including Avery and Mulciber. Severus created quite an amount of spells like Langlock, Levicorpus, Liberacorpus, Muffliato, Sectumsempra, and the Toenail Growth Hex . Other Slytherins that Sirius mentioned as being friends with Snape included Evan Rosier, Wilkes and his cousin Bellatrix Black (later to become Bellatrix Lestrange). Severus also had contact with Lucius Malfoy, who was a prefect during Snape’s first year and who greeted him with a pat on the back when he was sorted into the Slytherin House, suggesting that he treated him kindly at Hogwarts (which could also be a reason why Snape seems to favour Draco Malfoy during his later teaching years). Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew were also classmates of Severus.

James Potter and his group of friends were constantly at war with Snape throughout their school years. Snape’s memories, recorded in the Pensieve, suggest that he was an introverted and studious individual, whereas James was cocky, popular, and athletic. Immediately upon meeting him, Potter disliked Snape for expressing a desire to be in Slytherin. Potter’s crush on Lily and Severus’ close friendship and unrequited love for her also heightened the tension between the two.

One recorded memory in the Pensieve bears witness to James’ bullying of Severus with the spell Levicorpus, turning him upside-down to reveal his underwear in front of many students, including Lily. Lily came to Severus’ defence, but this only made things worse: in a subsequent lashing out at James in an attempt to recover his lost dignity, Severus inadvertently called Lily a “Mudblood.” Lily refused to forgive him for it, even after his desperate apologies. This would forever be Severus’s worst memory.

n one occasion, Severus had noticed that Remus kept disappearing during the full moon, and decided to follow him past the Whomping Willow. This act could have cost Severus his life or his humanity (he could have been turned into a werewolf by Lupin’s bite) had it not been for James. When James found out what had happened, he went after Severus and managed to save him just before he got to the Shrieking Shack while Remus was in his wolf-form. Albus Dumbledore swore Severus to secrecy, but it was clear to Severus the true nature of Lupin.

By their seventh year, James had grown out of his immaturity and arrogance to the point that Lily agreed to start dating him, even though he never grew out of his hatred for Snape — according to Sirius, Snape had always been a “special case” with James. Lily ended up falling in love with James, which only strengthened Severus’ hatred of his rival.

Severus Snape was a brilliant wizard, even in his childhood years. It was apparent through the notes and scribbles in his Potions textbook that he made time during classes to invent curses, charms, and brilliant potion innovations, while simultaneously learning the required textbook lessons.

Severus Snape’s potions textbook contained a few spells which he specifically took credit for inventing: Levicorpus, which grabbed the victim by the ankle and dangled them upside-down, and Sectumsempra, which caused slashing cuts which bled extensively, guided by hand gestures on the victim. Levicorpus somehow escaped from Severus’ secrecy, and became very popular around Hogwarts towards the end of his fifth year at school. Some other spells are Muffliato, which filled the ears of anyone nearby with an “unidentifiable buzzing sound”; Langlock, which affixed the victim’s tongue to the roof of the mouth; and a hex that caused toenails to grow at an unnaturally fast rate. Snape’s book later fell into the hands of Harry Potter in 1996. Harry used the Half-Blood Prince’s tips and earned praise with that year’s Potions master, Professor Horace Slughorn. Harry considered the Half-Blood Prince to be a better teacher than Snape, unaware at that point that Snape was the Prince in question.

The potions textbook has an inscription indicating it is Property of the Half-Blood Prince. Hermione Granger’s research revealed that Prince was the maiden name of Snape’s mother and so the nickname was revealed to be a combination of his mother’s maiden name and his blood status. This nickname was apparently a secret, as Remus Lupin did not remember it ever being used publicly by Snape.

Severus Snape eventually joined the ranks of Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters, and was the spy responsible for informing Voldemort about the prophecy foretelling his downfall.

In early 1980, Snape eavesdropped on an interview for Divination Professor between Sybill Trelawney and Albus Dumbledore at the Hog’s Head Inn. In the course of the interview, Trelawney prophesied that at the end of July, a child would be born who would cause the destruction of Lord Voldemort (which prompted Dumbledore to hire her, partly for her own safety). At that time it was not clear who was meant by the prophecy. Two children of prominent wizarding families were born that year at the end of July: Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Dumbledore reported at the Wizengamot trial of Igor Karkaroff that Severus had come to him and explained that he had been the one to overhear the prophecy, and reported it to Voldemort. However, Snape did not hear the entirety of the prophecy, as the barman caught him eavesdropping and threw him out.

Severus suffered terrible remorse when Voldemort decided that Harry Potter was the subject of the prophecy, and that Lily was now in danger as a result of his actions. He begged Voldemort to spare her in exchange for the lives of her husband and son. But knowing that he could not leave Lily’ safety in question at the hands of someone who could turn back at his word on a mere whim, Snape also approached Albus Dumbledore, who initially thought that Severus came with a message from the Dark Lord for him, to ask for his help in saving Lily; he begged Albus to hide her, along with her husband and yet-to-be-born son if he had to. Dumbledore agreed, but insisted that Severus serve him as a spy among the Death Eaters. Severus secretly defected from the Death Eaters and joined the Order of the Phoenix, under Dumbledore. When Voldemort went to kill the Potters, he did give Lily a chance to step aside, but when she did not, he killed her anyway. When Severus learned of Lily’s death, Dumbledore persuaded Snape to help him protect Lily’s son, Harry, reasoning that it was the best thing he could do for her.

Snape then dedicated the remainder of his life to protecting Lily Potter’s son, Harry Potter, the boy who was often said to strongly resemble James, the very man he detested. Distrusted for his past as a Death Eater by those on Albus Dumbledore’s side, and hated by other Death Eaters for living as Dumbledore’s stooge for 10 years, Snape continued living on to complete Dumbledore’s plan to protect Harry and defeat Voldemort.

Severus Snape applied for the position of professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, acting under Voldemort’s instructions. The timing of this application is of interest. Severus’ application came after Sybill Trelawney’s prophecy, but before the Potters’ deaths (31 October, 1981). It may be that Voldemort specifically sought a spy who could tell him about students from the Hogwarts records of all magical births.

Snape was not given his requested position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, but rather the position of Potions master and head of Slytherin House, following the retirement of Horace Slughorn in 1981. Following Voldemort’s fall, Snape made no attempt to find his master, for he, like other Death Eaters, thought Voldemort was dead, and he could use Dumbledore’s protection to avoid being sent to Azkaban. This brought him later into conflict with more hard-line Death Eaters like Bellatrix Lestrange, but Snape was forgiven by Voldemort, because he could provide him with thirteen years of information on Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix.

As a teacher, Snape was a ruthless disciplinarian, with little patience for foolishness, yet effective in his job and well respected by other professors. His deep understanding of potion brewing, as shown by his expert concoction of Wolfsbane Potion, transformed the knowledge of potions from mere chemistry to an art.

Harry Potter became a student in Snape’s classes in 1991…

Severus Snape

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