Severus Snape was a character in the Harry Potter books.
Snape had loved Lily Potter and was determined to save her only child, Harry Potter, for who she gave her own life to protect. He and Albus Dumbledore joined forces, and he gave Snape the job of Potions Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was Head of Slytherin House, and eventually the Headteacher. Snape was thought to have betrayed Dumbledore at the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, and was proof to Harry that he had been wrong to trust Snape. Harry found out the truth during the Battle of Hogwarts, when Snape was killed by Nagini on Voldemort's orders.
Harry was determined that Snape should be viewed a hero, ensuring a portrait was put up in the Headteacher's office and commending Snape to be the "bravest man he ever knew".
Snape was born to a pure-blood witch, Eileen Prince and a Muggle, Tobias Snape. He was raised in Spinner's End in Cokeworth. Tobias was neglectful and possibly physically abusive (shaping Snape's behaviour in life), and he and Eileen argued and fought each other. Due to that, Snape began to favour Eileen's side of the family and adopted the name the "Half-Blood Prince". They were poor and Snape was uncared for, so he looked shabby and wore odd clothing.
Snape didn't have any friends, but he found out he was living near the same town of a Muggle-born witch named Lily Evans, who was the same age. He noticed she had wizarding talent and befriended her. He told her about the wizarding world, and he and Lily were soon good friends. He was contempt towards Petunia Evans because she laughed at him and called Lily "a freak". At one point, he told Lily about Dementors and Petunia overheard what he was saying.
Snape saw Lupin being taken to the Whomping Willow one evening, and was curious to know why. He had grown suspicious of what he was getting up to, which was very annoying to Sirius. He ended up telling Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow (by using a branch to tap a knot). Snape decided to check out what he was up to, and was in the secret passageway near the Shrieking Shack, unaware he was heading into danger because Lupin was a werewolf. James found out what Sirius had done, and intervened to pull Snape back. However, he still saw a werewolf Lupin down the corridor.
James had saved Snape's life, a debt he found hard to bear. He was angry at how he could have died because of Sirius, and had thought James was originally involved and just had cold feet. Dumbledore forced Snape to keep Lupin's secret, and he was forbidden to tell anyone what he knew. The incident was a contributor towards Snape's bitter anger towards the group.
First Wizarding War
Snape proved to be a competent at teaching but he was an unfair teacher, and at times he bullied students.
Because he had decided to be a double-agent, he knew that working for Dumbledore was going to look suspicious to Voldemort and the Death Eaters when he was back. He needed to be careful not to divulge any espionage plans he and Dumbledore had to get into Voldemort's inner circle again. Any account of actions he undertook when Voldemort was thought to be dead would one day be told to Voldemort by Death Eaters, and he had to find a way to excuse working for Dumbledore.
He was very successful at not doing anything that Voldemort found suspicious and if anything, he impressed Voldemort because he thought that Snape had done good work getting into Dumbledore's inner circle, expecting it was to spy on Dumbledore for him. Snape was very unkind to Harry, not just because of James but because any sign of kindness would have appeared very suspicious to Death Eaters. Even though Harry was Lily's child and he never lost perspective of that, in Harry's year were the children of Death Eaters including Draco Malfoy. In an effort to not heighten suspicion, he thought being unkind was necessary.
Harry began attending Hogwarts in September of 1991, and had the opinion that Snape hated him ever since he attended the first Potions lesson of the year. Later in the year, Snape was suspicious of Professor Quirrell when a troll broke in the school and he snuck away towards the third-floor corridor. He intercepted him and beat him to the corridor, being bitten by Fluffy in the process. He was wounded and had a limp for a short time. Then when he took a book from Harry for taking it out of the school, Harry went to get it back, and found out that Fluffy had bitten him. Harry instead began to suspect that Snape was the one trying to get the thing Fluffy was guarding.
During the first Quidditch game of the year, Professor Quirrell jinxed Harry's broom and attempted to throw him from the broom. Snape was saying a counter-curse when Hermione Granger saw him and thought he was trying to hurt Harry. Hermione snuck up to the stand the teachers were watching from, knocking Quirrell in the process and putting Bluebell Flames on the hem of Snape's cape. He yelped and then she put the blue flames in a small jar. Even though she was wrong, she succeeded in stopping Quirrell and then she, Harry and Ron thought they had proof that Snape was trying to get past Fluffy and that he wanted to kill Harry.
Snape asked Filch to let him know if he heard anyone wandering around at night. Filch heard a book shrieking in the Library and told Snape. They both went looking for whoever had broken in but it was Harry searching for a book about Nicolas Flamel and he escaped using the Cloak of Invisibility. In February, he supervised the next Quidditch game in case Quirrell jinxed Harry for the second time. He then asked Quirrell to speak to him in the Forbidden Forest. He demanded to know whether he had found a way round Fluffy yet, and asked him to think about who he should prove loyal to. Harry heard part of the conversation and thought that Snape was trying to bully Quirrell to steal the Philosopher's Stone for him.
Snape and Dumbledore suspected that Quirrell and Voldemort were involved but it's unknown to what extent. Snape at the time had to be very cunning and be very careful about the wording of everything he said to Quirrell. Even if he thought that Voldemort could not hear him, he had to think of what Quirrell could communicate to him about Snape. Snape later claimed to Voldemort and the Death Eaters that he simply saw a worthless Quirrell trying to steal a coveted object for no apparent reason and that he wanted to stop such a pathetic wizard from succeeding.
Voldemort knew that Snape was a loyal Death Eater in the past, but given the passage of time and Snape's then unexplained post at Hogwarts to work for Dumbledore, Voldemort no longer knew whether Snape would continue to be loyal to him. He decided not say to Snape that he and Quirrell worked together, for fear Snape might have given him to Dumbledore. Snape knew he had to give Voldemort a good explanation when he was back into power. If he was able at that time to claim he simply saw worthless Quirrell and helped Dumbledore in that case to build a trust, it probably helped Snape keep up the appearance of feigning being loyal to Dumbledore. He even said to Voldemort years later that if he had asked him for help at the time, he would have given it and helped him get into power years earlier than he eventually would.
In June 1992, Harry, Ron and Hermione now thought Snape was going to steal the Stone for Voldemort and worked out it was going to be taken that evening (but by Quirrell). However, Harry and Ron told Hermione to watch the staff-room and track Snape if he leaves. He opened the door and saw Hermione, and invented the excuse that she was at the staff-room door to speak to Professor Flitwick. Snape went to get him and Hermione panicked and run away. Harry later found out the truth, and spoke to Dumbledore about how he thought Snape was the one trying to kill him and then steal the Stone. Dumbledore told Harry that he can trust Snape, and of how James had once saved Snape's life.
Chamber of Secrets
In September 1992, Snape found Harry and Ron when they took the Ford Anglia to get to school and shouted at them for having broken the International Statute of Secrecy and causing damage to school property. He had hoped that Dumbledore would expel them and he was not happy when he gave them a warning instead.
In October, he saw the scene when Mrs Norris was Petrified and shocked Harry by saying that he thought he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was not to blame for the petrification. But he thought it was curious that Harry, Ron and Hermione were even in the corridor at the scene in the first place and proposed that he was hiding things. Professor Lockhart wanted to create the Mandrake Restorative Draught but Snape told him that he was the Potions teacher and he would do it. Snape was teaching second-year Potions students when Harry intentionally caused a potion to spill and gave swollen limbs to several students. It was done to give Hermione time to sneak into the private store-cupboard and take ingredients when Snape's attention was elsewhere. Snape had to give students a Deflating Draught and told whoever it was that if he caught them, they would be in a lot of trouble. He looked at Harry when he was saying it, suspecting he was that person who did it.
Snape was asked by Professor Lockhart to help teach a Duelling Club. They showed a duel to the whole club that Snape won by using a Disarming Charm that sent Lockhart flying until he hit a wall. Lockhart saved face by telling everyone he let it happen to show everyone how it worked. They then put the students into pairings, and Snape intentionally separated Harry, Ron and Hermione. He put Harry and Draco together in the hope that he would put up a good fight and defeat Harry. However, the whole club used unfriendlier spells and Snape broke it up by using "Finite Incantatem". Lockhart then called for two students to duel in front of the whole club and wanted Neville and Justin Finch-Fletchley but Snape told Lockhart that Neville was incompetent and suggested Harry and Draco instead. He gave advice to Draco for the duel, who used "Serpensortia" to unleash a snake in the Hall. Snape wanted to get rid of it but Lockhart intervened and used the wrong spell.
The snake then targeted Justin in the audience and Snape saw Harry speak Parseltongue for the first time. He was shocked and he simply vanished the snake. In April, Professor Dumbledore was suspended by the Board of Governors. Draco told Professor Snape he would tell Lucius (who was Head of the Board) that he was the best teacher to be given the role of Headteacher and Snape smirked. In May, a student was taken into the Chamber of Secrets and Professor McGonagall announced the school was going to close down. Snape joined her, Professor Flitwick and Professor Sprout in telling Professor Lockhart they will let him save her because he told everyone he knew where the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets was. McGonagall then sent the Head of Houses to tell their students what was going to happen.
Notes and sources
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 1
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 19
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 11
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 15
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16