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Saturday, November 24, 2012

In Defense of Snape

I just want to start off by reposting a couple of old essays I wrote regarding Harry Potter books.  These are things I wrote a number of years back which I am very proud of, having received a lot of good feedback on them.  =)  I posted them originally on my LiveJournal.  

Here is the first one.  I wrote it shortly after reading the 6th book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  Now that the series is finished, in retrospect, some things I mentioned and speculated upon here have been proven inaccurate.  Still, it is something I would like to share with you.  =)  


'From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork. From here on in, Harry, I may be as woefully wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who believed the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron." 
"But you think you're right?" said Harry. 
"Naturally I do, but as I have already proven to you, I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being — forgive me — rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger."
--Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K.Rowling

Well, that doesn't really sound reassuring, does it? Plus, I realize I should probably examine all six books in order to arrive at more accurate conclusions (or should I say guesses). Unfortunately, that is not feasible at the present time. But anyway, here I go again...

(Oh, by the way, this is quite long. It took me days to get it done. I'd appreciate it if you'll read it through. Thank you in advance. =) )

Selected quotes in blue.
Book and chapter numbers in red.

In Defense of Snape

Analysis and Interpretation

[HBP, ch. 2]

Well, Snape certainly makes a good case against himself. His answers to Bellatrix's questions were quite convincing. It's too good to be just a cover story, right? Therefore, it must be true. Or is it? A cover story, after all, is meant to be believable. Especially so if it's the story one tells to 'the most accomplished Legilimens the world has ever seen'. So, is Snape's story really true? Or is it just a cover?

Snape claims that the Dark Lord trusts him. The other Death Eaters seem to believe this as well, although some (like Bellatrix) thinks the Dark Lord is mistaken. But does Voldemort really trust Snape? Doesn't he maybe have doubts?

Bellatrix asked Snape what information he has provided for Voldemort. Good question. The answer: very little it seems. Snape tells Bella that his information is relayed directly to Voldemort, so we don't really know what exactly they are. The ones that he mentioned were only two things: (1) information that led to the capture and murder of Emmeline Vance, and (2) about Sirius Black. This seems to be very little information indeed. It's been a whole year already. Only two Order members down? And there is even a completely alternative route for the information regarding Sirius - the Kreacher-Narcissa-Voldemort route. So, whatever info Snape 'gave' Voldemort may not really have been vital to Sirius's 'disposal'. But of course, Bella and Narcissa may not know this. Voldemort, after all, does not need to explain himself to his DEs. Bella can not really demand for an explanation. Good for Snape. What about Emmeline Vance? Well, we don't really have any details regarding her capture and murder. It's possible that her death resulted from a miscalculation on her part. Or maybe there was a near-escape here. It may be possible that Snape didn't even give any information to Voldemort regarding her. We don't really know. Maybe Snape is just lucky an Order member died and he can mention it to Bella right now. 

So you see, Snape's 'information' may very well have been unsatisfactory for Voldemort. This could be the reason why Voldemort has sent Wormtail to 'assist' him. Wormtail who, curiously, avoids Snape's eye and has taken to listening at doors lately. (Hmm... I smell a rat!) Could it be that Voldemort is getting suspicious of Snape? Is it possible that Voldemort has sent Wormtail to keep an eye on him? Is this the reason why Voldemort did not see fit to tell Snape of his plan? Because really, contrary to what Snape says, he DOES NOT KNOW the plan.

Snape's job for Dumbledore is 'to find out what the Dark Lord is saying to his Death Eaters' [OotP, ch. 26]. And so Snape goes to work. He must hear what Narcissa has to say. But at the same time, he has to maintain his cover.

"If he has forbidden it, you ought not to speak," said Snape at once. "The Dark Lord's word is law."

But after making sure the coast is clear, he starts bluffing...

"It so happens that I know of the plan," he said in a low voice. "I am one of the few the Dark Lord has told. Nevertheless, had I not been in on the secret, Narcissa, you would have been guilty of great treachery to the Dark Lord."

... to get information out of Narcissa, and even Bella.
From this point on, Snape only gives general statements. He doesn't say anything specific about the plan. All details come from either Narcissa or Bella. When Narcissa asks him something, Snape either (1) says nothing, (2) gives general statements only (repeatedly, I might add), or (3) uses info that Narcissa and Bella had already given.

In this way, Snape finds out that whatever the plan is, it has something to do with Draco. Voldemort has ordered Draco to do something. 

Narcissa cries her eyes out and pleads with Snape... and then he gives a general statement/bluff that seems to prove that he really does not know the plan.

Looking down into her tearstained face, he said slowly, "He intends me to do it in the end, I think. But he is determined that Draco should try first. You see, in the unlikely event that Draco succeeds, I shall be able to remain at Hogwarts a little longer, fulfilling my useful role as spy."

You see, if Draco indeed succeeds, why would Snape need to stay at Hogwarts? Draco's mission is to kill Dumbledore. Snape's job for Voldemort is to spy on Dumbledore. Why would Snape need to stay at Hogwarts then? To spy on someone who's already dead? 

So far, it has been determined that Voldemort has ordered Draco to do something. But what it is exactly is still unknown. Snape tries to get more information when suddenly Narcissa comes up with...

"If you are there to protect him... Severus, will you swear it? Will you make the Unbreakable Vow?"

... the Unbreakable Vow. Hmm... this could be a problem. But what has Narcissa asked of Snape so far anyway? That Snape look after Draco, that he protect him. That can easily be done. Snape intends to do that anyway, even Dumbledore would want that. And so Snape agrees. Especially before a cackling Bellatrix. Snape must maintain his cover, after all. But then it seems Narcissa has another surprise for him...

"And, should it prove necessary... if it seems Draco will fail..." whispered Narcissa (Snape's hand twitched within hers, but he did not draw away), 

Hmm... this doesn't sound good. But he must continue...

"will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?"

Not good. But there's no way to turn back now. No matter. Perhaps, whatever the mission is, it's not that bad. And he agrees.

[HBP, ch. 3...]

After this, I expect Snape told Dumbledore about 'the plan', about Voldemort ordering Draco to do something, and about the Unbreakable Vow that he had to make. Then Dumbledore did something quite curious - he gave Snape the DADA job - a job which he had refused to give Snape for several years now, a job which he knows for a fact to be jinxed. 

"Oh, he definitely wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job," said Dumbledore. "The aftermath of our little meeting proved that. You see, we have never been able to keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for longer than a year since I refused the post to Lord Voldemort." [HBP, ch. 20]

Now, why would he do such a thing? Giving Snape the DADA job is tantamount to saying 'I expect your resignation at the end of the year. This will be your last year.' Did Dumbledore foresee something? Did he expect something? Or did he want Snape to go somewhere else after this year? Perhaps, the other side? Whatever his reason for giving the job to Snape, one thing is for sure, he expected this will be Snape's last year at Hogwarts.

[HBP, ch. 12...]

And so the schoolyear started, the year progressed, and the necklace incident happened. Harry told Professor McGonagall of his suspicions regarding Draco Malfoy. McGonagall, in turn, told Dumbledore. But Dumbledore didn't seem surprised at all. He just said he will 'take all appropriate measures to investigate anyone who might have had a hand in Katie's accident'. Well, surely, he already suspected Draco at this time.

[HBP, ch. 15]

At Professor Slughorn's Christmas party, Filch brings in Draco Malfoy whom he caught lurking in an upstairs corridor. As it is Christmas, Slughorn lets Draco off the hook.

Filch's expression of outraged disappointment was perfectly predictable; but why, Harry wondered, watching him, did Malfoy look almost equally unhappy? And why was Snape looking at Malfoy as though both angry and... was it possible?... a little afraid? But almost before Harry had registered what he had seen, Filch had turned and shuffled away, muttering under his breath; Malfoy had composed his face into a smile and was thanking Slughorn for his generosity, and Snape's face was smoothly inscrutable again.

Well, Malfoy obviously was unhappy because he was probably on his way to the Room of Requirement when Filch caught him. Staying at the party would be a waste of his precious time. Snape, on the other hand was angry and... a little afraid? Perhaps this is because, at this point, Snape still did not know what it is Draco's supposed to do. He could be afraid of what it might be that he will be forced to do just in case (because of the Unbreakable Vow). He calls Draco aside and interrogates him.

"I'd like a word with you, Draco," said Snape suddenly.
"Now, Severus," said Slughorn, hiccuping again, "it's Christmas, don't be too hard —"
"I am his Head of House, and I shall decide how hard, or otherwise, to be," said Snape curtly. "Follow me, Draco."


"... cannot afford mistakes, Draco, because if you are expelled —"

Snape and Malfoy start out talking about the necklace incident. What is most interesting is that Snape's concern seems to be on Draco being expelled. Shouldn't he be more concerned about Draco not being able to do what Voldemort has ordered him to do? This is further proof that he really has no idea what Draco's mission is. Perhaps, he didn't think it was as grave as killing someone (particularly Dumbledore). Maybe he thought it was something less serious. Also, it seems Snape is somehow giving more importance to his being a teacher than his being a Death Eater.

Perhaps, some Legilimency is in order. Snape couldn't do it with Narcissa and Bellatrix. They would know what he was doing. But Draco wouldn't know. Or so he thought.

'don't look at me like that! I know what you're doing, I'm not stupid, but it won't work — I can stop you!"
"So that is why you have been avoiding me this term? You have feared my interference? You realize that, had anybody else failed to come to my office when I had told them repeatedly to be there, Draco —"

Apparently, Snape has been calling Draco to his office the whole term. Most probably to find out what he's up to, what the plan is. Because, like I said before, he doesn't have a clue. But remember Snape's job for Dumbledore is to find out what Voldemort is saying to his Death Eaters. He needs to get that information, never forgetting, of course, to maintain his cover.

"So put me in detention! Report me to Dumbledore!" jeered Malfoy.
There was another pause. Then Snape said, "You know perfectly well that I do not wish to do either of those things."

From this point on, he appeals to Draco,...

"Listen to me," said Snape, his voice so low now that Harry had to push his ear very hard against the keyhole to hear. "I am trying to help you. I swore to your mother I would protect you. I made the Unbreakable Vow, Draco —" 

... fishes for information,...

"What is your plan?" 

... proposes to help,...

"If you tell me what you are trying to do, I can assist you..." 

... and emphasizes Draco's need for it.

"You were certainly alone tonight, which was foolish in the extreme, wandering the corridors without lookouts or backup, these are elementary mistakes —" 

But Draco is unyielding.

"I would've had Crabbe and Goyle with me if you hadn't put them in detention!"
"Keep your voice down!" spat Snape, for Malfoy's voice had risen excitedly. "If your friends Crabbe and Goyle intend to pass their Defense Against the Dark Arts OWL this time around, they will need to work a little harder than they are doing at pres —"

Professor Snape, is that you again? (As opposed to Death Eater Snape.)

"What does it matter?" said Malfoy. "Defense Against the Dark Arts — its all just a joke, isn't it, an act? Like any of us need protecting against the Dark Arts —"
"It is an act that is crucial to success, Draco!" said Snape. "Where do you think I would have been all these years, if I had not known how to act?

Well, yes and no. It is an act - for Voldemort. This is part of Snape's cover. But it is also not an act. It is for real. Snape's been using DADA quite a lot recently - helping Dumbledore, treating Katie Bell. And if ever his cover's blown, well, he's gonna need it.

'Now listen to me! You are being incautious, wandering around at night, getting yourself caught, and if you are placing your reliance in assistants like Crabbe and Goyle-"
"They're not the only ones, I've got other people on my side, better people!"

Aha! Information at last. But this is very little. Snape needs to get some more.

"Then why not confide in me, and I can —"
"I know what you're up to! You want to steal my glory!"

Hmm... Snape is getting nowhere. He's getting pissed.

There was another pause, then Snape said coldly, "You are speaking like a child. I quite understand that your father's capture and imprisonment has upset you, but —"
Harry had barely a second's warning; he heard Malfoy's footsteps on the other side of the door and flung himself out of the way just as it burst open . Malfoy was striding away down the corridor, past the open door of Slughorns office, around the distant corner, and out of sight. Hardly daring to breathe, Harry remained crouched down as Snape emerged slowly from the classroom. His expression unfathomable, he returned to the party. Harry remained on the floor, hidden beneath the cloak, his mind racing.

Hmm... still nothing.

[HBP, ch. 17...19]

However, despite this difficulty in getting information, Dumbledore, who is (ahem) blessed with extraordinary brainpower, has deduced what Draco is up to. He has figured out what Draco's mission is - to kill him. Dumbledore discusses the matter with Snape (shortly before the poisoning incident), and they end up arguing. 

"Well — I jus' heard Snape sayin’ Dumbledore took too much fer granted an maybe he — Snape — didn’ wan’ ter do it any more —"
"Do what?"
"I dunno, Harry, it sounded like Snape was feelin’ a bit overworked, tha's all — anyway, Dumbledore told him flat out he'd agreed ter do it an' that was all there was to it. Pretty firm with him. An' then he said summat abou’ Snape makin' investigations in his House, in Slytherin. Well, there's nothin' strange abou' that!" Hagrid added hastily, as Harry and Hermione exchanged looks full of meaning. "All the Heads o' Houses were asked ter look inter that necklace business—"
"Yeah, but Dumbledore's not having rows with the rest of them, is he?" said Harry.

You see, that fateful agreement, the Unbreakable Vow, has left Snape with only three options: (1) to let Draco kill Dumbledore, (2) to kill Dumbledore himself, or (3) to break the Unbreakable Vow and die. Surely, Dumbledore, whose top priorities include the safety of his students, would not want Draco to become a murderer. That brings Snape's options even further down to two - kill Dumbledore himself or die.

Now, apparently, from the argument that Hagrid overheard, Dumbledore was taking something for granted, something that Snape didn't want to do anymore. So, what is it that Snape didn't want to do anymore? Die? He didn't want to die anymore? Why? How many times have Snape died before? Was he tired of dying that he didn't want to do it anymore? Erm, no. That's not it. So, is it that Snape didn't want to kill anymore? Hmm... that could be. Actually, it fits.

Being a Death Eater, I expect Snape has killed before, or at the very least, he has used Unforgivable Curses before. So, one would expect that he'd have no difficulties doing the same again. This is something Dumbledore could easily have taken for granted.

So, apparently, what is it that Dumbledore wants Snape to do? If and when the time comes that Draco confronts Dumbledore to kill him, Snape must step in and do the deed himself. A request that I expect, Snape continued to resist. (More on this later.)

What is very interesting about all this, in addition to Snape apparently not wanting to kill anymore, is that it seems he would much rather die than kill Dumbledore. Curious thing really, coming from a Death Eater.

One last thing Hagrid overheard was something about the investigations in Slytherin house. Perhaps Dumbledore was telling Snape to wrap up the investigations quietly. After all, he didn't want any word to get to Voldemort that he may be suspecting Draco of anything.

[HBP, ch. 25]

And so the schoolyear went on until... that fateful night.

Dumbledore has found a Horcrux and summons Harry so that they can retrieve it together. On the way to Dumbledore's office Harry encounters Professor Trelawney who was apparently thrown from the RoR after hearing someone whooping. Harry persuades Professor Trelawney to tell Dumbledore about it. But on the way, he learns some devastating information regarding Severus Snape. He confronts Dumbledore, telling him that Snape and Malfoy were up to something right under his nose. But Dumbledore trusts Snape completely and dismisses Harry's allegations. They leave Hogwarts to retrieve the Horcrux.

[HBP, ch. 27]

When they return from retrieving the Horcrux, Dumbledore is very weak because of the potion he had to drink. Harry says he'll get Madam Pomfrey, but Dumbledore insists on Professor Snape. At this point, Dumbledore wants Snape to treat him, make him better.

But then, Madam Rosmerta comes along and points out the Dark Mark that has appeared over Hogwarts. This concerns Dumbledore. They set off at once for the castle on Rosmerta's brooms. When they get to the Astronomy Tower, and see that no one's there, Dumbledore instructs Harry to fetch Snape. Perhaps Dumbledore thought it was not yet too late.

But then, Draco Malfoy shows up. Alas! It is too late. This is the moment Dumbledore hoped would not come, or at least, would not come YET. He freezes Harry (who is under his Invisibility Cloak) to prevent him from doing anything rash. {idea from someone somewhere on LJ, I think; will credit when (or if) I find the post where I got it from; if I don't find it and you know the idea's yours, then thank you! and I agree =) }

According to Draco, there are Death Eaters in the castle that night.

'forgive me ... where are they now? You seem unsupported."
"They met some of your guard. They're having a fight down below. They won't be long... I came on ahead. I - I've got a job to do."

Of course, Dumbledore already knows what Draco's job is.

"Well, then, you must get on and do it, my dear boy," said Dumbledore softly.
There was silence. Harry stood imprisoned within his own invisible, paralysed body, staring at the two of them, his ears straining to hear sounds of the Death Eaters' distant fight, and in front of him, Draco Malfoy did nothing but stare at Albus Dumbledore who, incredibly, smiled.
"Draco, Draco, you are not a killer."

Very good. Draco does not seem to have the (uh) 'killer instinct' in him. Very good. There may be hope for this boy yet.

Then they go into a rather lengthy and circuitous discussion about ways and means (how Draco managed to let DEs into the castle, who Draco's accomplice in Hogsmeade was, how he communicated with Rosmerta), about knowing what Draco was up to, about Snape keeping an eye on him, about that night. So lengthy, in fact, that it seems to me Dumbledore was waiting for something. Snape, perhaps? And every now and then, Dumbledore tests Draco and points out that Draco really could not kill him. Finally,...

"There is little time, one way or another," said Dumbledore. "So let us discuss your options, Draco."

... Dumbledore brings up Draco's options. You see, at this point, there are no complications yet. All Draco needs to do is take heed of Dumbledore's advice.

"Come over to the right side, Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine. What is more, I can send members of the Order to your mother tonight to hide her likewise. Your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban... when the time comes we can protect him too... come over to the right side, Draco... you are not a killer..." 

And he was about to...

Malfoy did not speak. His mouth was open, his wand hand still trembling. Harry thought he saw it drop by a fraction- 

... when all of a sudden...

But suddenly footsteps were thundering up the stairs and a second later Malfoy was buffeted out of the way as four people in black robes burst through the door on to the ramparts. Still paralysed, his eyes staring unblinkingly, Harry gazed in terror upon four strangers; it seemed the Death Eaters had won the fight below.

... complications burst through the door.

After Dumbledore exchanges a few, er, pleasantries with the DEs, Snape arrives.

but at that precise moment the door to the ramparts burst open once more and there stood Snape, his wand clutched in his hand as his black eyes swept the scene, from Dumbledore slumped against the wall, to the four Death Eaters, including the enraged werewolf, and Malfoy.

Dumbledore and Snape have discussed this situation before. Or should I say they have argued about it before, with Snape showing considerable resistance to Dumbledore's request.

The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading.

Will Snape give in now?

Snape said nothing, but walked forwards and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed.
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.
"Severus... please..."

Will Snape do as Dumbledore asked - to do something he does not want to do anymore?

Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.
"Avada Kedavra!"

Yes, he does.

A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape's wand and hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest. Harry's scream of horror never left him; silent and unmoving, he was forced to watch as Dumbledore was blasted into the air: for a split second he seemed to hang suspended beneath the shining skull, and then he fell slowly backwards, like a great rag doll, over the battlements and out of sight.

One curious thing though. I had the impression that the Killing Curse resulted in instantaneous death. Frank Bryce was dead before he hit the floor [GoF, ch. 1], Cedric had a look of surprise on his face[GoF, ch. 32]. Why then did Harry's scream of horror not leave him? Why was he still silent and unmoving after the curse hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest? Shouldn't the Freezing Charm have lifted immediately? Later, of course, Harry reckons it was horror and shock that was paralyzing him. But I can't help but wonder if Dumbledore died not of the Killing Curse, but of the fall. He fell (wandless and weakened) from the highest tower of the castle, after all. 

Of course, one could argue that Snape has been on Voldemort's side all along. Let us then consider his choices once again. (1) Let (or make) Draco kill Dumbledore. (2) Kill Dumbledore himself. (3) Break the Unbreakable Vow and die. 
If Snape was indeed afraid of death, in the same way the other DEs and even Voldemort was, then the third choice (break the vow and die) would not have been a choice for him at all. He would only have the first two to choose from. But why would he choose to kill Dumbledore himself? Why not let Draco do it? That is, after all, Voldemort's orders. And 'the Dark Lord's word is law'. Why would he risk incurring the Dark Lord's wrath by doing the deed himself? Of course, Snape is a 'superb' Occlumens; he can probably get around this problem very easily. But why risk it? Why not egg Draco on until he does the deed? Why not force Draco to kill Dumbledore? It's what the Dark Lord wants, after all. And I repeat, 'the Dark Lord's word is law'.

[HBP, ch. 28]

And so then, Snape runs off with Malfoy, and tells the other DEs to leave as well. Harry catches up with them on the grounds by Hagrid's hut.

Harry tore past Hagrid and his opponent, took aim at Snape's back, and yelled, "Stupefy!"
He missed; the jet of red light soared past Snape's head; Snape shouted, "Run, Draco!" and turned. Twenty yards apart, he and Harry looked at each other before raising their wands simultaneously.

But no matter how hard Harry tried...

But Snape parried the curse, knocking Harry backward off his feet before he could complete it; ...
"Cruc-" yelled Harry for the second time, aiming for the figure ahead illuminated in the dancing firelight, but Snape blocked the spell again. Harry could see him sneering.
"No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter!" he shouted over the rushing of the flames, Hagrid's yells, and the wild yelping of the trapped Fang. "You haven't got the nerve or the ability -"
"Incarc-" Harry roared, but Snape deflected the spell with an almost lazy flick of his arm.

... he couldn't get a spell to hit Snape.

"Blocked again and again and again until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!" sneered Snape, deflecting the curse once more.

Perhaps he should listen to his professor just this once?

But before he could finish this jinx, excruciating pain hit Harry; he keeled over in the grass. Someone was screaming, he would surely die of this agony, Snape was going to torture him to death or madness-

Harry thought it was Snape who was using the Cruciatus Curse on him, but...

"No!" roared Snape's voice and the pain stopped as suddenly as it had started; Harry lay curled on the dark grass, clutching his wand and panting; somewhere overhead Snape was shouting, "Have you forgotten our orders? Potter belongs to the Dark Lord - we are to leave him! Go! Go!"

Harry is determined, however.

Harry uttered an inarticulate yell of rage. In that instant, he cared not whether he lived or died. Pushing himself to his feet again, he staggered blindly toward Snape, the man he now hated as much as he hated Voldemort himself -
Snape flicked his wand and the curse was repelled yet again; but Harry was mere feet away now and he could see Snape's face clearly at last: He was no longer sneering or jeering; the blazing flames showed a face full of rage. Mustering all his powers of concentration, Harry thought, Levi-
"No, Potter!" screamed Snape. There was a loud BANG and Harry was soaring backward, hitting the ground hard again, and this time his wand flew out of his hand.

But Snape manages to stop even nonverbal spells midway.

Harry had dived for his wand; Snape shot a hex at it and it flew feet away into the darkness and out of sight.
"Kill me then," panted Harry, who felt no fear at all, but only rage and contempt. "Kill me like you killed him, you coward -"
"DON'T -" screamed Snape, and his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning house behind them - "CALL ME COWARD!"
And he slashed at the air; Harry felt a white-hot, whiplike something hit him across the face and was slammed backward into the ground. Spots of light burst in front of his eyes and for a moment all the breath seemed to have gone from his body, then he heard a rush of wings above him and something enormous obscured the stars. Buckbeak had flown at Snape, who staggered backward as the razor-sharp claws slashed at him. As Harry raised himself into a sitting position, his head still swimming from its last contact with the ground, he saw Snape running as hard as he could, the enormous beast flapping behind him and screeching as Harry had never heard him screech -
Harry struggled to his feet, looking around groggily for his wand, hoping to give chase again, but even as his fingers fumbled in the grass, discarding twigs, he knew it would be too late, and sure enough, by the time he had located his wand, he turned only to see the hippogriff circling the gates. Snape had managed to Disapparate just beyond the school's boundaries.

Well. Interesting action-packed sequence there. =)

Now, let me just direct your attention to that last spell Snape did, where he slashed at the air and 'Harry felt a white-hot, whiplike something hit him across the face and was slammed backward into the ground'. That's like a slap across the face, or a punch. Why is that? Is this what you'd expect from an enemy? Is this what you'd expect from a Death Eater? I'd expect an Unforgivable Curse. Well, maybe not a Killing Curse. After all, 'Potter belongs to the Dark Lord', right? But really, why not a Cruciatus Curse? Why not even just a Sectumsempra? Snape had no qualms using this invention of his before. (Remember Snape's Worst Memory? [OotP, ch. 28] I believe this was the spell he used on James. Not as extensive as the effect on Malfoy when Harry used it, but enough to produce a gash on the side of James's face and spatter his robes with blood.) And it won't kill Harry. The Dark Lord will still have the pleasure of doing that. So why? Why just a big magical slap in the face? Why?

And as for the 'DON'T CALL ME COWARD!'. Well, I don't really see how Snape is a coward. And after what he just did - doing what Dumbledore asked even though he'd rather not - I could understand why Snape would be furious.

(More on this later.)

[HBP, ch. 29]

In the hospital wing, Harry confirmed that Dumbledore was dead, and told everyone that Snape was the one who killed him. Everyone was quick to believe that Snape betrayed them. Understandable really. Seeing as Dumbledore never told anyone his reasons for trusting Snape.

Professor McGonagall was blaming herself because she was the one who sent for Snape. 

"It isn't your fault, Minerva," said Lupin firmly. "We all wanted more help, we were glad to think Snape was on his way...."
"So when he arrived at the fight, he joined in on the Death Eaters' side?" asked Harry, who wanted every detail of Snape's duplicity and infamy, feverishly collecting more reasons to hate him, to swear vengeance.

Harry wanted to know every detail of Snape's duplicity and infamy. He wanted more reasons to hate him. But did he find any? Did he discover any additional misdeed Snape had done? Consider the following:

"So if Ron was watching the Room of Requirement with Ginny and Neville," said Harry, turning to Hermione, "were you - ?"
"Outside Snape's office, yes," whispered Hermione, her eyes sparkling with tears, "with Luna. We hung around for ages outside it and nothing happened.... We didn't know what was going on upstairs, Ron had taken the map-----It was nearly midnight when Professor Flitwick came sprinting down into the dungeons. He was shouting about Death Eaters in the castle, I don't think he really registered that Luna and I were there at all, he just burst his way into Snape's office and we heard him saying that Snape had to go back with him and help and then we heard a loud thump and Snape came hurtling out of his room and he saw us and - and -"
"What?" Harry urged her.
"I was so stupid, Harry!" said Hermione in a high-pitched whisper. "He said Professor Flitwick had collapsed and that we should go and take care of him while he - while he went to help fight the Death Eaters -" She covered her face in shame and continued to talk into her fingers, so that her voice was muffled. "We went into his office to see if we could help Professor Flitwick and found him unconscious on the floor... and oh, it's so obvious now, Snape must have Stupefied Flitwick, but we didn't realize, Harry, we didn't realize, we just let Snape go!"
"It's not your fault," said Lupin firmly. "Hermione, had you not obeyed Snape and got out of the way, he probably would have killed you and Luna."

Well, that might be a little too much. But just for the sake of argument, let's say Lupin's right. Why then would Snape stupefy Flitwick? Why not kill him right off? Why did he tell Hermione and Luna to look after Flitwick? Why not kill them right off? It's very possible he did all these to keep them out of harm's way. {once again: idea from someone somewhere on LJ, I think; will credit when (or if) I find the post where I got it from; if I don't find it and you know the idea's yours, then thank you! and I agree =) }

"So then he came upstairs," said Harry, who was watching Snape running up the marble staircase in his mind's eye, his black robes billowing behind him as ever, pulling his wand from under his cloak as he ascended, "and he found the place where you were all fighting...."

But contrary to what Harry expected, Snape didn't stop to fight alongside the DEs, he just ran past, up into the tower. And he did the same thing when he came back down - he just ran past - out onto the grounds. 

So, what additional misdeed of Snape's did Harry find? None, really. In fact, from beginning to end of Snape's involvement in all this, he was only on the offensive thrice: (1) The Killing Curse on Dumbledore. (2) That big magical slap across the face that Harry got. (3) The Stunning Spell on Flitwick (which is arguably protective). He never engaged any of the Order/D.A. members in battle. He just ran past them, leading Draco and the DEs out of the castle. The only person he engaged in 'battle' was Harry. And aside from the slap in the face, all his spells then were defensive, even protective (stopping the Cruciatus Curse on Harry). Is this really what you'd expect from someone working on Voldemort's side? 

So, the million-dollar questions are:

Why did Dumbledore choose to die? 
Why did he trust Snape completely?

Although Dumbledore is known for giving people second chances, I do not believe that trust is something he gives lightly.

"Didn't you tell them, sir, what he'd been like when you met him at the orphanage?" asked Harry.
"No, I did not. Though he had shown no hint of remorse, it was possible that he felt sorry for how he had behaved before and was resolved to turn over a fresh leaf. I chose to give him that chance."
Dumbledore paused and looked inquiringly at Harry, who had opened his mouth to speak. Here, again, was Dumbledore's tendency to trust people in spite of overwhelming evidence that they did not deserve it! But then Harry remembered something....
"But you didn't really trust him, sir, did you? He told me... the Riddle who came out of that diary said, 'Dumbledore never seemed to like me as much as the other teachers did.'"
"Let us say that I did not take it for granted that he was trustworthy," said Dumbledore. "I had, as I have already indicated, resolved to keep a close eye upon him, and so I did. I cannot pretend that I gleaned a great deal from my observations at first. He was very guarded with me; he felt, I am sure, that in the thrill of discovering his true identity he had told me a little too much. He was careful never to reveal as much again, but he could not take back what he had let slip in his excitement, nor what Mrs. Cole had confided in me. However, he had the sense never to try and charm me as he charmed so many of my colleagues.
 [HBP, ch. 17]

Why then did Dumbledore trust Snape completely?

"Snape," repeated McGonagall faintly, falling into the chair. "We all wondered... but he trusted... always... Snape... I can't believe it...."
"Snape was a highly accomplished Occlumens," said Lupin, his voice uncharacteristically harsh. "We always knew that."
"But Dumbledore swore he was on our side!" whispered Tonks. "I always thought Dumbledore must know something about Snape that we didn't...."
"He always hinted that he had an ironclad reason for trusting Snape," muttered Professor McGonagall, now dabbing at the corners of her leaking eyes with a tartan-edged handkerchief. "I mean... with Snape's history... of course people were bound to wonder... but Dumbledore told me explicitly that Snape's repentance was absolutely genuine-----Wouldn't hear a word against him!"
"I'd love to know what Snape told him to convince him," said Tonks.
"I know," said Harry, and they all turned to look at him. "Snape passed Voldemort the information that made Voldemort hunt down my mum and dad. Then Snape told Dumbledore he hadn't realized what he was doing, he was really sorry he'd done it, sorry that they were dead."
 [HBP, ch. 29]

Oh, Harry, Harry. *sigh* Sometimes I really don't like the way Harry puts two and two together. Although, I'm happy to note he's getting better. But sometimes, such as in this case, he misleads (unknowingly, I'm sure).

They all stared at him.
"And Dumbledore believed that?" said Lupin incredulously. "Dumbledore believed Snape was sorry James was dead? Snape hated James...."
 [HBP, ch. 29]

So now, everybody thinks that Snape passed Voldemort the information that made Voldemort hunt down James and Lily, and then when they died, Snape went to Dumbledore and said he was sorry. But was this really the case?

Dumbledore's statement earlier (which incidentally was cut off abruptly by Harry) was actually:

"You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realised how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the greatest regret of his life and the reason that he returned -" [HBP, ch. 25] 

Do you see the difference? The remorse Dumbledore was talking about was felt by Snape not after the Potters had died. He felt it after Voldemort interpreted the prophecy. There is a huge difference. I don't know how long the time gap was between these two events (Voldemort interpreting the prophecy and killing the Potters). But there was a gap there long enough for someone (one of Dumbledore's 'useful spies') to tip him off so that he could alert James and Lily and advise them to go into hiding [PoA, ch. 10]. And I'm pretty sure that someone was Snape. See the difference now? Dumbledore did not trust Snape just because he was sorry James (and Lily) had died. Dumbledore trusts Snape because he actually tried to prevent their deaths.

Now, why did Dumbledore choose to die? 
Why didn't he just let Snape die by breaking the Unbreakable Vow?

"Why can't I drink the potion instead?" asked Harry desperately.
"Because I am much older, much cleverer, and much less valuable," said Dumbledore.
 [HBP, ch. 26]

Perhaps, just like the case with Harry, Dumbledore thought he was much less valuable. Perhaps he felt Snape's role was more important than his. 

In that case, what is Snape's role?

To answer this question, I'd like to go back to an earlier one. Why did Dumbledore give Snape the DADA job? Did he want Snape to go somewhere else after this year? Perhaps he wanted him to go back to Voldemort.

But why would Dumbledore want to send Snape back to Voldemort?

To stand alongside Peter maybe.

"Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt.... When one wizard saves another wizard's life, it creates a certain bond between them... and I'm much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter."
"This is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable, Harry. But trust me... the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew's life."
 [PoA, ch. 22]

After all, Snape still owes a life debt to James. Perhaps since James is dead, he owes this debt to Harry?

I don't know how it would work exactly. This is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable. But maybe, just maybe...

'I was supposed to be waiting up here when you got back, only your Phoenix lot got in the way..."
"Yes, they do that," said Dumbledore.
 [HBP, ch. 27]


And at the end of all of this, I feel I have to say (just like the quote in the beginning) that this could all be just me and my cheese cauldron, I mean, wishful thinking. The biggest potential disproof, of course, is JKR's statements which, to tell you the truth, I can't quite decide how to interpret. I could try to examine all her previous interviews as well to see if that will help me at all in this matter. But can I really, honestly, expect that I'll be able to do that? When I don't even think I'll be able to reread all the books at this time? (The answer is no.) So there. This is what I have for now. 

Thank you so much for reading! =)

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