His Heart on His Sleeve: A Conspiracy Theory

The World of Severus Snape

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His Heart on His Sleeve: A Conspiracy Theory

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“Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves… stand no chance against his powers.”
Snape in OotP, XXIV

Over on Deathtocapslock, a comment on the sporking of PoA chapter “Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs” brought up Lupin’s very, um, disingenuous comment attributing the animosity between James and Severus to Snape’s supposed jealousy of Potter’s Quidditch prowess. The commenter asked why (within the motivations of the characters, not the needs of JKR’s plot) no one ever brought up the possibility that rivalry over Lily might have been an issue.

An even bigger hole to be explained is the scene in the Hospital Wing after Dumbledore’s murder.

“And he [Snape] didn’t think my mother was worth a damn either,” Harry said, “because she was Muggle-born…. ‘Mudblood,’ he called her….” (HBP, XXIX)

And no one questioned that interpretation.

Minerva and Remus were all but eyewitnesses to Severus literally camping out, all night if need be, outside the Fat Lady’s portrait to apologize to Lily—risking ridicule from the whole school, hexing from the Marauders, ostracism from the Pureblood supremacists among his friends, and official punishment for being caught out of bounds after curfew (meaning he might also have had his entire house down on him like a ton of bricks, if fifty points was the normal point deduction for being caught in that offense).

So they two at least knew, they had to know, that Severus calling Lily a Mudblood (once) was a mistake he desperately regretted and tried to fix, not the expression of his true opinion that “she wasn’t worth a damn either.”

Unless, of course, they had reason to have forgotten.


Backtrack a bit, and think about who would have known what when about Severus’s feelings for Lily.

“The Prince’s Tale” showed that Severus feared that James was his rival for Lily before SWM. Most likely James adamantly refused to imagine the corollary—though his antagonism for Severus was likely increased by that fear. James certainly would never tell his friends that he took Snivellus seriously as a rival.

All of Lily’s friends, though, knew at least that the two were friends, and probably that he took the friendship more seriously than she did.

After that public vigil outside the Fat Lady, everyone at Hogwarts must have been able to take a pretty accurate guess as to what Severus’s feelings for Lily had been. Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, indeed.

At some point after the rejected apology, Sev must have given up the hope of gaining Lily’s forgiveness. It might not have been that night. They were neighbors; it’s very likely that Sev might have made overtures over the following summer, hoping Lily might have cooled off from her first wrath. But if his overtures were consistently rejected, he most likely would have given up at least by the beginning of sixth year. Teen pride being what it is, once he did give up on gaining her forgiveness he’d have had every reason to pretend that he was over her. And since some of his friends were pureblood supremacists (and as a half-blood he was already on shaky ground with those friends), he’d have strong reason to pretend that he’d never been all that serious about her in the first place. There were other girls, of purer blood, more worthy of him….

And it was in only in seventh year—at least a year later—that James and Lily actually started dating. So there would be no reason for any outsider to connect Severus and James’ continued antagonism to rivalry over Lily. Snape was over her—just ask him!—long before the two got together. He and James had been enemies (for totally unrelated reasons) ever since they met on the Hogwarts Express.

None of this was anyone else’s business anyhow.

Until Snape defected, specifically because of the danger he’d brought on Lily.

At that point, his continued feelings for her became a war secret.

And if there’s anything that Albus Dumbledore demonstrated absolute mastery of, it was keeping secrets.

On Snape’s side, what had previously been a matter of pride became a matter of both his own survival and Lily’s. We saw with the Lovegoods and Malfoys that Voldemort knew how to use people’s loved ones as hostages or objects of revenge, and that he was perfectly ready to control his own followers that way. My own guess is that Severus fed the Dark Lord the line that he wanted Lily to rape her as revenge on James (and on her for rejecting him years ago).

The second-to-last thing Severus would ever want Voldemort to guess was that Lily might really be a useful hostage for Snape’s good behavior. The very last would be that Severus had betrayed Voldemort for Lily’s sake. If Voldemort ever learned that, he wouldn’t hunt Lily to kill her as a minor obstacle. He’d hunt her to make an example of her.

On Dumbledore’s side, a double agent—finally!—among the Death Eaters was an asset not lightly to be risked.

Now, while Severus was just a double agent the only real issue was his Occlumency and acting. The only one likely to betray Snape’s true allegiance was Snape himself.

Eventually, though, Snape was in a more complex situation. When he returned to Hogwarts as Dumbledore’s newest questionable hire, he was a quadruple agent, whom Voldemort thought was a triple agent, whom Voldemort believed Dumbledore to imagine was a double agent. Dumbledore and Snape had fed Voldie the line that Dumbledore accepted Snape’s supposed repentance because of the headmaster’s known weakness: Albus just had to believe the best of everyone, evidence to the contrary.

So the one piece of information that must be kept from Voldie at all costs was that Snape had an actual reason to want to turn to Dumbledore.

Then two things happened. Voldemort killed Lily, and was temporarily vanquished by her. And at some point in the mopping-up operations, Severus was explicitly named as a Death Eater.

Now this was a problem.

Severus was fingered as a Death Eater. Dumbledore went before a secret tribunal and testified that yes, Snape had joined the Death Eaters, but that he’d turned, honestly repented, and become Dumbledore’s spy at great personal risk. Dumbledore even managed to get the proceedings closed so effectively that most even of the Order never found out about all this until years later.

Thus far this was, after all, no more than the cover story that Snape and Voldemort had prepared beforehand to hand-feed Dumbledore. The fact that Dumbledore believed it, testified in court to it, and saved Snape’s arse using it, only showed Severus’s success in snowing Dumbledore. If that were all.

But Dumbledore expected Riddle eventually to return. And when he did, he would be stringently evaluating the loyalty of any surviving free Death Eaters. And he must not seriously question Snape’s.

Snape had asked his master, the Dark Lord, to spare Lily.

And Lily was killed.

Sev was a master Occlumens, spy, and actor, but everyone has a limit.

We saw Severus’s grief the night of Lily’s death. The first chapter of PS showed Vernon’s view of the rejoicings in the WW at Voldemort’s defeat. Raise your hand if you think that Severus could, twelve hours after we watched him huddled making sounds “like a wounded animal”, convincingly project the impression that the sole emotion he felt was jubilation at the passing of the Dark Lord.

Mind, if any scions or younger siblings of DE’s among the students (who knew that Snape was a Slytherin and friend of DE’s, if not that Snape was supposed to be one himself) caught sight of signs of dejection in Snape, they might well have attributed it to grief over the loss of the Dark Lord and the downfall of his programme.

And some despondency could always be attributed to seeing some of his closest friends from school being accused of being Death Eaters. How shocking! Snape had never imagined such a thing—could such perfidy be true? And if he were the new head of Slytherin, the blow to his house’s prestige at having a number of former Slytherins outed as supporters of You-Know-Who must have been upsetting.

So some degree of lack of proper enthusiasm could have been excused.

But Snape was at Hogwarts, among people who had known him for seven years. Some of them still remembered that Snape had once been best friends with that girl, whazzername, you know, that Muggle-born who became Head Girl a couple years back, who married well but was unfortunately killed when her baby son, HARRY POTTER, defeated You-Know-Who.

What was her name again?

Minerva, in particular, might remember that earlier friendship when she mused on her newest colleague’s anomalous reaction.

And Dumbledore cannot guarantee that she, or others, won’t subsequently find out some of the closed proceeding’s results.

If Minerva, or anyone like her, ever found out that Snape had actually once been a follower of You-Know-Who—and then considered the fact that You-Know-Who had killed Lily—it wouldn’t require knowledge of any relayed Prophecy to correctly read Snape’s guilt and grief.

And if Minerva, or anyone like her, had known of Severus’s previous devotion to Lily and glimpsed his anguish at her death, and then subsequently learned that Dumbledore claimed that Snape had once been a loyal Death Eater but had turned his coat….

Um, in fact, that Snape had turned his coat at just about the time that Voldemort started specifically pursuing the Potter family, what an interesting coincidence…!

Well. Granger may say that wizards aren’t good at logic, but I think do think that Minerva, at least, could have calculated that sum.

If she were allowed to.

But if she—or anyone—ever figured it out, Riddle might too when he finally returned.

The one piece of information which must be kept secret at all costs if Dumbledore wanted to retain his quadruple agent was that Snape had had a real, burning, reason to want to betray Voldemort.

It is canon that Dumbledore countenances his followers using the Confundus Charm against children in his care (Kingsley against Marietta) and against fellow Order members (Severus against Mundungus).

In fact, he ordered the latter.

So it’s not hard at all to imagine Albus, in November of 1981, calling a private little meeting with Minerva.

After which she didn’t remember noticing anything out of the ordinary about the new Potions Master’s demeanor. She did still vaguely remember something about an insult and rejected apology in Snape’s fifth year, but she was now utterly convinced that the incident had no real significance. Thoughts of Severus and of Lily simply didn’t enter her mind together.

Severus and who?

In fact, if general impressions of Lily became a little blurred in the course of obscuring the spy’s true feelings for her, that would help explain why Minerva never mentioned his mother to Harry.

Repeat as needed with other staff and Order members, as they put themselves in Albus’s hands.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

“And he didn’t think my mother was worth a damn either,” said Harry….

Nobody asked how Harry knew this. (HBP, XXIX)

  • apologies for not being able to reply in a more argumentative fashion. - just here to say i read your post and liked all the details you observed and the logic you applied and your theory. i am already curious to read the comments and views of others on this. this work must have taken a long time so thank you!
    • thanks

      If I agree, I often don't even post to register agreement, figuring that silence gives assent. Which it doesn't, really, online.

      So thanks for bothering, and glad you liked!
  • (Sorry, first posted this reply on LJ instead of IJ)

    >>>In fact, if general impressions of Lily became a little blurred in the course of obscuring the spy’s true feelings for her, that would help explain why Minerva never mentioned his mother to Harry. <<<

    In fact, NOBODY at Hogwarts EVER talks about Lily again. Harry gets to hear from several sources how wonderful his dear daddy was, and we see Minerva reminiscense about the Marauders quite fondly, if somewhat fuzzily (more about that later), but the ONLY one who talks about Lily is Slughorn - who disappeared from under Dumblebore's sphere of influence by the time she died.

    When we, by way of Harry, overhear Miverva talk about the Marauders she recants there shenenigans (to put it mildly - they must've been true horrors) in a faintly endeared way, which just sounds wrong to me. If she was truly the 'stern but fair' schoolmarm she was supposed to be - although, truth to tell, I find that rather hard to swallow since the biggist bullies of the school (Marauders, Twins) thrive under her watch - the Marauders strapazes should've been a thorn in her side. We all assumed that she were fuzzing the past under the motto 'speak no ill of the dead', but it would suit Dumblebore fine if nobody could remember quite clearly what the new Dead Hero, the Father of The Boy Who Lived For Whom Statues Were Erected, true character was like.

    So I put it to you that Dumbles not only confunded staff members - Minerva first and foremost - about Lily and Severus, but also about James. James, the aristocratic layabout, the rich jock who hexed children for fun, who routinely did a spot of 'Severus-hunting', was too stained to become a marble-white Hero to inspire the masses. So he was white-washed by Dumbledore's brush, and it wouldn't need much. Who were to say that James was really a bore and a bully-boy? His victims? Yeah, sure. And be booed down.

    Oh, that must've BURNED Severus. The injustice of it. To see a worthless git become leonized and not even being able to say anything lest the confounded idiots tell him to 'get over a childhood grudge' and not able to enlighten them because that would mess with Dumbles' Big Plan. The only sources that still spoke the truth were Filch's punishment register. But those were gathering dust while spinmaster Dumbledore's 'heroes' got a marble statue. Fame! Flim-flam! Fool's gold.
    • If she [Minerva] was truly the 'stern but fair' schoolmarm she was supposed to be - although, truth to tell, I find that rather hard to swallow since the biggist bullies of the school (Marauders, Twins) thrive under her watch - the Marauders strapazes should've been a thorn in her side.

      Yeah, I always thought that, too. But we see little or no good parenting, teaching, or adult behavior in general in the HP books. There's a tremendous amount of neglect, indifference, and casual cruelty towards kids at one extreme, and obsessive micromanagement (Molly) at the other. There's nobody who's "tough but fair," "loving yet healthily detached," or other positive teaching/parenting styles. So Minerva's poor behavior is of a piece with the other adults in her society. It's a very selfish, predatory universe, particularly towards kids.

      I also agree with your remarks about James. Dumbledore would have been helped in his efforts by people's normal reluctance to say anything bad about the Martyred War Hero Who Died Protecting His Family (TM).
    • An interesting extension of my thesis...

      but I don't think it quite holds water.

      Because James is NOT remembered with unadulterated fondness.

      And he (unlike Lily pre-Slughorn) IS remembered.

      Hagrid and Sirius are the only ones who EVER make a big deal with Harry about remembering James--and Hagrid is clearly incapable of clear judgment, and Sirius is biased.

      NO ONE, ever, comes up to Harry in the Leaky to claim shyly, I knew your father....

      Or at Hogwarts, my dad knew yours....

      Minerva mentions James ONCE to Harry, praising their joint skill at Quidditch. She never even tells Harry that his father aced her own subject, Transfigurations.

      It really seems that what we overhear in PoA is the general opinion: that James Potter was considered a rich, handsome, charming troublemaker. The worst Minerva (who had dealt, from various perspectives, with both Tom Riddle's gang and the Tiwns) had ever encountered.

      When James died actively opposing You-Know-Who, "nil nisi" kicked in, especially as James's son became The Chosen One.

      But it's only Dumbledore (and we know his motives) and to a lesser extent Sirius, and Remus-influenced-by-Sirius, who attempt to persuade Harry that he's fulfillling his father's legacy.

      The Holy Familly has a statue raised to them in Godric's Hollow, true.

      But it's Harry, not Lily and not James,who is adulated.

      However--James hasn't been erased.

      Quirrell and Hagrid clearly show in book 1 that they understand Snape's antipathy to Harry.

      But... Hagrid shows, repeatedly, that he will "diss" others on staff, including his undisputed superiors, when he chooses (Filch, B1, Lockwood, B2, UMbridge, B5). And so will Minerva--while maintaining the most rigorous professional decorum, she undermines Lockwood (B2), Trelawney (B3), and Umbridge (B5).

      Whenever Hagrid or Minerva want to.

      Yet neither will support Harry in "dissing" Snape, EVER, until Dumbledore's murder in HBP.

      And both of them try at first to dismiss Harry's damning eyewitness testimony at the end of HBP.

      Both Hagrid and Minerva showed signs of grieving for "Lily and James" (in that order) in Book 1.

      And neither ever joins Harry in condeming Professor Snape as unreasonabable.

      Yet both are seen condemning other staff members, when they find that condemaation to fit!

      Either they both consider Snape to be reacting reasonably enough in the present (geven the difference between WW norms and Muggle educatonal theories about best practices). Or they both consider that Snape's reacting as reasonably as can be expected given the past: I.e. that both Minerva and Hagrid think that James's mistreatment of Severus was sufficient to EARN Harry's mistreatment at Severus's hands.

      And they trust Severus not to extend the mistreatment past justice, however they (or Severus) define that.

    • If she was truly the 'stern but fair' schoolmarm she was supposed to be - although, truth to tell, I find that rather hard to swallow since the biggist bullies of the school (Marauders, Twins) thrive under her watch - the Marauders strapazes should've been a thorn in her side.

      You know, someone gave James and Sirius all those detentions that got them to use the mirrors and made James unacceptable as prefect. I don't think that someone was Horace Slughorn. It is possible Minerva did try to keep them under control but failed miserably. And then James appeared to have cleaned up somewhere in 6th year (most likely he simply had better ways to cover his tracks, with the map and possibly Peter keeping lookout in rat form), and it seemed like her hard work finally paid off. So when the twins came along she patiently stuck to the same methods.
  • Ach, Rowling. I doubt there is another author whose inattention to hir characters and world inspired more conspiracy theories among his readership.

    Besides Slughorn Lily is only mentioned by Ollivander, who remembers her wand (this reminds me of a Snarry fic where due to side effects of a complex protection by Dumbledore and Harry keeping Voldemort's wand in his home nobody but Severus can remember who Harry is; Ollivander still recognizes his wand and knows to whom he sold it, but can't recognize Harry himself), by Hagrid - always in tandem with James and is mentioned by several characters in POA in the context of discussing the events leading to the Godric's Hollow attack - again either as 'the Potters' or as 'Lily and James', and by Sirius and Remus in OOTP in the context of the discussion of SWM. They mention her disapproval of James' bullying, James hiding the continued bullying of Severus from her and the timing of her and James' dating.

    Hmm, by the time of the confrontation in the Shrieking Shack in POA Sirius did not get a chance to be affected by your proposed memory modification, unless Dumbles bothered to go to Azkaban to apply the spell (but not ask him about the Fidelius business). Yet he doesn't bring Lily up either.
    • That Sirius doesn't mention the friendship between Sev and Lily doesn't surprise me. Sirius is not the kind of person who would believe that 'a girl like Lily' (ie: pretty, 'perky' and Gryffindor) could ever truly have cared about 'a piece of slime like Snivellus' (ie: homely if not straight out ugly, dirt poor, bookish and above all, *Slytherin*). The idea that Snivellus could ever have been James' rival would seem ludicrous to him. Because he doesn't believe it, it wouldn't register on his tiny mind. Anything to the contrary he would explain away as 'that slimy git was trailing after Lily all the time, wanting to get into her panties', or something like that.

      Not only is Harry and Hermione Rowlings' self-inserts, but Sirius also, because that spin on things is exactly what she is, if not outright, subconsciously trying to sell her readers, which dimishes an already sloppy, choppy and badly written tale even further.

      But back to the theory that Dumbles confunded certain key persons to hide Sev's and Lily's early friendship (however one-sided - Lily certainly doesn't sound as if she cares over much about Severus, but she still, at the age of fifteen, keeps him dangling with promises that they are 'best friends', so the friendship can't have been a figment of Snape's imagination)
      Sure, Olivander mentions Lily's wand, but confunding people of Sev and Lily's friendship doesn't mean erasing all memory of Lily, the Mother of The Boy Who Lived. It merely lets people remember her in a rather vague way and prohibits people from thinking to much about her exept in the most abstract of ways.

      How well would Olivander have known her? He would've seen her when she was eleven and bought her wand from him, and that would be it. Maybe she bought her wand together with Severus, maybe not. Even so, it wouldn't be all that difficult for Dumbledore to confund Olivander a tiny teensy bit. Dumbledore gave Olivander a Fawkes feather for Harry's wand, after all, and we are never told when he did this. Would Dumbles not have asked Olivander, after Voldie Death I, what the core of Tom Riddle's wand was (so that Olivander learns then and there who Voldemort truly was, a piece of information that is NOT common knowledge) only to return a few days later with a second phoenix feather. A little prodding about 'poor Lily' would show Dumbles exactly how much or how little Olivander knew about Sev and Lily and the gift of another feather would be the perfect opportunity for a bit of foolish wandwaving...

      Why am I trying to make sense of these stupid books?!!

      Anyway, it remains idiotic that in such a small community that is the WW, where everyone is related in some way with everyone else, and everyone goes to the same school so whole generations know eachother 'back from school' even when they aren't related (I still say that Dumbledore's removal of Slughorn and shoehorning in of Severus was part and parcel of his plan to scapegoat the Slytherins. Slughorn and Slytherin was essential for muggleborns to slide into wizarding society, but with his removal and the scapegoating, that gate was closed to muggleborns, which didn't do them a favour at all, but I digress) In a society where everyone knows everyone else, it's extremely strange that nobody, *nobody* came forward to talk to the Boy Who Lived over his parents/mother. Didn't she have friends at school? Wasn't she that perky Head Girl? Why don't we hear anything about her? Why is she such a non-person? Because Rowling is a shitty author, yes, but still, if we want to make sense of these books, the idea that the existance of Lily had been preserved in public memory whilst her likes, dislikes and sheer personality had been fuzzified to hide politically sensitive information isn't so strange...
      • (Anonymous)
        Interesting theory - however, I'm not positive it's needed to explain what happened to Lily's 'school friends'. The Lily we see in canon is a bit self-righteous, but also ready to blame others when things go wrong. I'm not sure that I believe she made a very easy friend. I can easily see her losing her school friends one at a time, just because they weren't as likely to do what SHE wanted and give in to her way of thinking.

        We saw how Sev had to work to keep her happy and we know James worked at hiding things from her that he thought she would dislike. I can see how once the closeness of dormlife was gone (and so the need for continuing good relationships) that her friends might just drop away for various reasons. Probably just once last disagreement too many, where she put the blame on something they did.

        And there's always the fact that she was in hiding for so long.

        I find it interesting that in bk1, Vernon is reluctant to bring up the subject of Lily to Petunia. It sounds as if he thinks it will hurt Petunia if he does. I tend to think she just kind of disappeared without warning or explaining anything to Petunia. I often wonder whether that was the real reason for Petunia's hatred of the wizarding world - that Lily had finally vanished into it without explaining why.

        Buy we can see from Lily's letter to Sirius that Petunia had still been in contact post-Hogwarts. There's the vase that was sent for Christmas - an adult gift to an adult sister (even if she didn't like it much) But something that I can see as something Petunia would think was a nice present. And they were not so separated yet that Vernon wasn't aware of Harry's name. He probably never met the child before, but he must have been informed of the birth.

        But then we hear that Sirius was the ONLY choice for 'godfather' and that there wasn't a 'godmother' choice. That the christening was a shushed up affair. Apparently neither Petunia or Vernon were even invited to Harry's christening and certainly none of Lily's old school friends. I personally believe they went into hiding while Lily was still pregnant - altho' I know many disagree with me.

        Anyways - I can see a LOT of hurt feelings over the hiding of the Potters - especially since it certainly cannot be mentioned that they have done this because their child is in danger (altho' I am not convinced that THEY knew the reason/prophecy). Now IF they keep being attacked in hiding, then one-by-one Lily's friends are left out of the 'hiding' info ('cause you know it just could not be a Marauder). But I bet that whomever was still friends with Lily by the time she went into hiding, quickly narrowed down to Order Members only and then to Marauders only.

        This doesn't explain Minerva or the other teachers - so you might be right. However, I've always seen Minerva as particularly 'hands-off' when it comes to her house. But your idea has merit. I'll need to think more on it -- Hwyla
        • we know James worked at hiding things from her that he thought she would dislike.

          To be fair, though, Lily was quite right to dislike the things James was troubling to hide from her. It's not that she was disapproving of perfectly innocent stuff just because she didn't think it was good enough or whatever. I don't think that part says anything about Lily being a difficult friend (or girlfriend).
      • "it's extremely strange that nobody, *nobody* came forward to talk to the Boy Who Lived over his parents/mother. Didn't she have friends at school? Wasn't she that perky Head Girl? Why don't we hear anything about her? Why is she such a non-person? Because Rowling is a shitty author, yes,"

        I found it bemusing that Harry himself never really asked about his mother. I mean, if he'd been raised by resentful relatives for as long as you can remember, you'd think he'd want to find out as much as he could about his parents.

        But it's not until he spies on SWM that he even bothers to ask Sirius and Remus about his father. I wonder if he was happy just to accept the standard line by people like Hagrid that James was a nice guy, a bit wild. But what about his mother? Did he have NO interest in her whatsoever?

        We're not even told if he asks about his ancestors: did he have living grandparents or other relatives on either side? Of course, he probably knew about the Evans side through his aunt, but I doubt she'd enlighten him about the Potter side at all.

        Not only aren't we told, but Harry doesn't even seem to be bothered to find out. Which to me always seemed very odd.

        • Yeah, I always thought that was very strange, too. I think that's one reason many people find Harry a weird character and/or are made uncomfortable by him. He just doesn't act normal. Nearly everybody has some curiosity about their families. If, as you point out, the circumstances in which they were raised were very negative, that gives them a very strong motivation to find something positive to counteract the bad things they heard and experienced. Particularly after finding out his parents were war heroes who died saving him, you'd think Harry'd be thrilled to know everything he could about them. He could go on a "quest within a quest" to learn his history.

          Now, I realize that Rowling didn't want to reveal too much about his parents because she was holding back Big Revelations to spring on the reader in future books. The easiest way to keep the reader from finding out things was to not allow her characters to ask questions she didn't want answered at that point in the story. But it makes for a distorted main character and constitutes lazy writing, IMO.
          • Yes. Harry is perhaps the most passive and incurious protagonist I've ever encountered. He's only curious about things 1) that are directly relevant to exposing the plot Rowling has set up (i.e. poor writing) and 2) that seem to have the possibility of proving something bad about someone he hates (e.g. proving Snape really is evil because he's after the Stone).

            Harry is a plot device. He's a blank slate for the reader's projection (more than is normally the case, that is) and a passive vehicle for Rowling's plot.
            • What is really scary is that Rowling has said (in an interview) that Harry is her self-insert ("she would've been Harry if she had been a boy")

              What does this tell us about Miss Rowlings?
              • I'll leave Rowling with her own words to explain why she relates to a protagonist who is often blank, incurious, unthinking, narrow-minded and quick to judge.

                Er, I'm afraid I sometimes judge the series harshly because it's quite hostile to academics and critical thinking in general, so it treads on my professional toes a bit. But really, Rowling often leaves more than enough rope to hang herself in interviews.

                (Although hasn't she said that she is/has as her self-insert Harry, Hermione AND Dumbledore? What to make of THAT? It's possible she's talking out of her arse, of course, that would not be new.)
      • (I still say that Dumbledore's removal of Slughorn and shoehorning in of Severus was part and parcel of his plan to scapegoat the Slytherins. Slughorn and Slytherin was essential for muggleborns to slide into wizarding society, but with his removal and the scapegoating, that gate was closed to muggleborns, which didn't do them a favour at all, but I digress)

        Yeah, please do digress. What exactly do you mean by this? Slytherin was already in disgrace before Severus took over as Head of House because of its association with Voldemort and the DEs. It's true a young, poor, former DE wouldn't have had the political and social clout of Slughorn. However, I don't remember seeing evidence that Sluggy went out of his way to slide muggleborns into wizarding society. He seems to have promoted whichever students were the most talented, most likely to succeed, who made him look good, who curried favor with him, and whose future success would most probably provide future gain for him. Blood status doesn't seem to have come into his calculations one way or the other.
        • I may be recalling this incorrectly, but wasn't Cresswell (the only muggleborn with a career we know of) one of Sluggy's? That blood status didn't come into it with him is rather the point - whatever the views of blood status with Dumbledore's circle and Gryffindor house, the general view in society seems to be rather more muted in truly accepting muggleborns (even if it's not openly said by everyone that they are thought inferior). Plus, since the WW seems to run on an old-boys' network system, muggleborns are disadvantaged from the start by a lack of connections. And the Gryffindors are not depicted as being particularly good networkers; it's very individualistic there with at best small groups of friends. Having a well-connected patron who DOES NOT CARE about blood is the muggleborns' best shot - with Sluggy they actually have a chance at establishing the connections they need.

          It's not that he FAVORS them, it's that he offered them a real, stable link with key sectors of wizarding society they would not have otherwise had.
        • >>>.I don't remember seeing evidence that Sluggy went out of his way to slide muggleborns into wizarding society. He seems to have promoted whichever students were the most talented, most likely to succeed, who made him look good, who curried favor with him, and whose future success would most probably provide future gain for him. Blood status doesn't seem to have come into his calculations one way or the other. <<<

          And this is a bad thing how?

          More to the point: the Head of Slytherin was decades long the talentbroker of the WW *and he didn't care about blood status*. So for decades, fifty years or more, the Head of Slytherin, I repeat, the *Head* of *Slyterin House*, was instrumental in getting talented kids to mingle with the equivalent of the peerage of the WW and he got them in touch with influential people who could get them good jobs, wether those talented kids were pureblood, halfblood or muggleborn.

          Was Slyterin already in disgrace before Severus took over? How many people knew that Voldemort was once Tom Riddle, former Head Boy, Slytherin alumnis? Apart from play-it-close-to-the-chest Dumbledore? And who is to say that the first DE's of the seventies were all Slytherins? Quiet a lot of them were, since we hear of a few, but remember, by that time Severus has turned coat and he is getting information to Dumbledore (and from Dumbledore to aurors like Moody). Since the DE's were all masked and since Severus, as a former Slytherin, would know the voices and body language of his former housemates best of all, wouldn't it stand to reason that he would pick out the ex-Slytherin DE's better from a bunch of cloaked and masked men than that he could pick out an ex-Ravenclaw or Gryffindor?
          We know of at least two Gryffindors who were DE's (or at least in Voldie's pocket); Wormtail and whatshisname, the ex-Quidditch player.

          So, what do I mean with my accusation that Dumbledore, by getting Slughorn out and Snape in, tried to scapegoat and weaken House Slytherin?
          Well, Slughorn had clout, and influence, and people who backed him up and cared about him, thought well of him, feted him. In short, Slughorn was an independant player. Dumbles likes his chesspieces to be totally under his control. So he frightens Slughorn into hiding and put a very, *very* young Snape in his place. Unprecedented, I'm sure, such a young, inexperienced Head of House. As good as I think Snape is as a potions teacher, he is hardly in Slughorn's league when it comes to Head of House duties. What's more, he can't ever be, since he is totally under Dumbledore's thumb.

        • Aside: Look at what happened with Draco and the unbreakable vow. Snape has to present to his House the face of a secret DE, because some of them have parents who are DE's or DE sympathisers (those are among other Houses as well, but Snape is Head of Slytherin). So when Draco gets the order to kill Dumbledore and let DE's into the castle or else his parents are snake-dinner, he has nobody to confide in. He thinks his Head of House is a loyal DE (this plays into Dumbles' hand). Oh, he talks a good show about 'stealing glory' (which is exactly what I would've told my Head of House if I thought him to be a loyal DE. No way would I say, "I don't want to do this" or "I'm scared", because I would think it would all go back to Voldemort and then my life and my parents lives would be over) And Snape has no way to help Draco. He has to watch as this kid gets deeper and deeper in the shit, and he, the boy's Head of House, must *encourage* him on his way to ruin because Dumbledore has ordered him to 'play his part as DE teacher'. And Draco is just *one* of the dozens of children that he gets to influence over the years. A Head of House is in locis parentis nine months of the year. Children look up to their parents and parental figures, and try to emulate them. The sentiment that 'all Slytherins become DE's' to be a selffulfilling prophecy if you put an ex-DE as Head of House amd tell him to play the part of loyal DE

          So, Snape is in a double bind; in order to be a good spy, he has to play the role of loyal DE to the children in his care. He has to *encourage* them when they display tendencies to Voldemort-worship.

          At the same time, we see that Slytherin has become unpopular. Is this because of Voldemort? Really? We see that Lily, James and Sirius believe that 'all Slytherins are evil DE wannabees', and so does Ron Weasley, but how representative are this children? They all end up in Dumbledore's personal sphere of influence. They all become Order members. Does Dumbledore select children who are prejudiced against Slytherin or does he, gently and subtly, with the same slow poison as he poured into Harry's ears over the years, poison the minds of the most gullable, the most gung ho thrillseekers, the most simpleminded?
          Ah, that is the question.

          By getting rid of Slughorn, Dumbledore not only opened a way to shoehorn his pet-DE into an important slot, and used him to create the image of 'future DE' nest (or at least prologated that image and impounded it), but he also got rid of the *positive* face of Slytherin. The face of the old blood families that are open to new blood, the face of *meritocracy*.
          • It is indeed often very difficult to tell what the general wizarding attitudes towards muggleborns and Slytherin are, because our perspective is from within the stronghold of pro-muggleborn and anti-Slytherin sentiment, via a very incurious and unobservant protagonist with decided biases that are rarely pointed out as *biases* rather than objective truth by the text. From the few clues we have, I rather think that the Gryffindor-Harry view tends towards one extreme of the range of views present within wizarding society, rather than representing the social default or centrist view. The very fact that families like the Blacks and Malfoys are socially influential and respectable (no matter how much Rowling tries to paint them as bribing their way in everywhere) points to this.
            • It is very hard to say what general attitudes are, even in Harry's generation. Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws support the Gryffindor Quidditch team against the Slytherin - is it because Slytherins are unpopular or because of their previous long string of wins?

              Ernie is protective of Justin in COS, but in GOF when the Hufflepuffs think Harry is an attention-seeking cheater they join forces with Slytherins in the 'Potter stinks' campaign. Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws join the DA in OOTP - is it because they believe Harry, seek to fight Voldemort or simply because they want a better training in DADA than they can get with Umbridge? I don't see evidence that Slytherin House is unpopular with Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff until at least the end of GOF except for the unpopularity that derives from repeated success, regardless of how students feel about blood status.
              • (Anonymous)
                Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws support the Gryffindor Quidditch team against the Slytherin

                Yes, but after checking the books, I don't think that that lasts throughout all seven books. Obviously, there were no games in book 7, and the Tri-Wizard Tournament meant none in book 4, either.

                In OotP, *Luna* clearly supports Gryffindor in the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin game, with her lion's head hat, but I just skimmed through that game, and we don't hear about anyone except Gryffindors, Slytherins, and Luna.

                In HBP, we have:

                One end of the stadium was solid red and gold; the other, a sea of green and silver. Many Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws had taken sides too: Amidst all the yelling and clapping Harry could distinctly hear the roar of Luna Lovegood's famous lion-topped hat.

                Point one: "many" Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, not all.

                Point two: only Luna is specified as having taken Gryffindor's side.

                In terms of specific people, we've got the Ravenclaw Luna for the Gryffindors, and the Hufflepuff Zacharias... not especially for the Gryffindors, although not especially "for" either side.

                There is also:

                Ron saved goals with apparent ease. [...] the crowd greeted a particularly good save with a rousing chorus of the old favorite "Weasley Is Our King"

                We have no idea who's singing. It could be just the Gryffindors, but even if it isn't, it could be that the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were showing their appreciation of a good play, more than taking a particular side.

                So, that's all we see after book 3, during the Gryffindor-Slytherin games. Maybe there are other comments not at the games; I dunno. But it looks like the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws cheered Gryffindor against Slytherin until they won the Cup in book 3, and then didn't care so much.

                • "One end of the stadium was solid red and gold; the other, a sea of green and silver. Many Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws had taken sides too: Amidst all the yelling and clapping Harry could distinctly hear the roar of Luna Lovegood's famous lion-topped hat."

                  Point one: "many" Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, not all. "

                  Just to digress OT for a second: this is a point that I have always had trouble with since reading it the first time in the series. Considering that there were only around ten children per year multiplied by seven maximum at Hogwarts, then Gryffindor and Slytherin had only about 140 children between them. Hardly "a sea" as Rowling described! A mob of seventy kids at one end and seventy kids at the other does not a sea make, imo! And that's not taking into account the however-many-there-were that make up a Quidditch team, and so were not in the stands.
                  • It's the usual problem Rowling has with the number of students who attend Hogwarts. She said she assumes about 1500 students. This shines through in the mass scenes (Quidditch, exams etc.)
                    I personally agree with your 280+ from the evidence in the books, e.g. number of staff, students to be named and the total number of British wizards JKR mentions (3000). How could 3000 (adult) Western European wizards and witches produce so many children? BTW Hogwarts is still a public boarding school. The 1500 students JKR imagines, probably from her own experience at a state comprehensive, are simply not manageable. At my comprehensive school we had the same number of students with more than 100 teachers and still class sizes over 30.
                  • It works better if you assume birth cohorts were exceptionally small at the end of the war and extremely large afterwards. It is canon that there were over 100 students taking OWLs with Severus. So Harry's year and Ginny's year would have 40 students each, the next one, with the beginning of recovery at the tail end of the year, would have, say 50 students, followed by years of 150-200 students (post-war baby boom). The years above Harry's would have the usual 100 students per year. Using these numbers in OOTP there would have been 630-730 students at Hogwarts. (Don't ask how the teachers managed larger cohorts.)

                    Note that the oldest baby-boom students would be 4th years at the time of the battle, the same age Ginny and Luna were during the DOM battle. One could imagine any number of them sneaking back from the Hog's Head to participate in the battle to add to the number of defenders.
                    • We are having this discussion every now and again, haven't we? Of the over 100 students in the great hall with Severus one half might be taking NEWTs, which is still a bit more than in Harry's times, but not too many to stick to about 40 - 50 per year.
                      The spectatator crowds at Quidditch matches can be easily explained otherwise. It's Quidditch! Assuming that the Hogwarts' cup is the one and only amateur Quidditch event in the country which going by the information from QTTA seems reasonable to me, we can add students' relatives, press, devoted sports fans and professional league observers to the number of students. And a good number of them will be taking sides of their former house or their children's team.
                      • Only those who got Es and higher on OWLs could continue for NEWTs, so NEWT students would be fewer than half. In Harry's year out of 40 students 25 (or maybe 26 if we include Hannah who left early in the year) qualified for the NEWT lessons in 6th year. And you still have to explain the number of Thestral-drawn carriages, which matches the higher number of students. (Or heck, how could there be 13 professional Quidditch teams.)
                        • Only those who got Es and higher on OWLs could continue for NEWTs, so NEWT students would be fewer than half.

                          Minor subjects (Muggle studies, Care of Magical Creatures) or lenient teachers might accept all pass grades; we only know for sure about McGonagall and Slughorn. So less than half, but still adds up to about 100 within the general lines of mathematical precision used in the books. LOL, not yours or mine.

                          Or heck, how could there be 13 professional Quidditch teams.

                          How long can you play Quidditch? They are wizards; professional keepers or chasers may well play until they're 50.

                          6 students per carriage? The minimum of 280 students need 47 carriages. 50 students per year need 59 carriages. This is an awful lot and slowly moving down a winding path makes an endless row.
                          • The first-years go by boat, however. Just for accuracy's sake.
                          • The 25 (or 26) students in Harry's DADA class in 6th year at least all passed the OWL ("I am surprised so many of you scraped an OWL in this subject" - while Crabbe and Goyle have to take a remedial class because they failed). But in any case, at a time of open war only 62-63% of the students take the advanced DADA class. I doubt it was a higher proportion in the 1970s. So if the *over* 100 students in Severus' OWL exam were around, say, 130 there could have been some 80 OWLs students and 50 NEWts students. etc. Or over 100 students taking OWLs and over 60 students taking NEWTs at a different time.

                            6 students per carriage? The minimum of 280 students need 47 carriages. 50 students per year need 59 carriages. This is an awful lot and slowly moving down a winding path makes an endless row.

                            Harry sees 'at least a hundred' in POA. Only for students in years 2-7. (And possibly excluding students whose families live in Hogsmeade.) Also a hundred in GOF.

                            Rowling went back and forth on her numbers in interviews, but as she said, that's not the way she thinks.
                            • I think we agree that Rowling's 1500 students are out of the question; more than 200 carriages and 400 thestrals. The books say Hagrid keeps a small herd of thestrals; 400 + reserve/untrained and foals is anything but small.
                              The real number can't be deduced on the books. It's my personal decision to assume that Harry is as bad at maths as his creator and gets estimations horribly wrong. Yours is different because you set other prorities. BTW many RL people won't be able to pinpoint the difference between 50-60 carriages or ~110 and are more likely to say more than a 100, when they seen an incalculable lot. To take it as flints for me is the easiest way to live with some of the oddities. The characters are sloppy not the writer ;).
                  • Point one: "many" Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, not all. "

                    And it doesn't say those that took sides all took the Gryffindor side...
                • (Anonymous)
                  Actually, it's funny... I just checked the Gryffindor-Slytherin games in the other three books, and the other houses don't actually show support for Gryffindor in the first book, either.

                  They do in CoS, and in PoA, when it's the game that determines who wins the Cup, they even have banners and stuff, but not in PS/SS.

                  To me, that makes it sound even more like it's all about seeing Slytherin lose the Cup to break their winning streak. The first year, they didn't know that Gryffindor might stand a chance, so they didn't have any reason to root for Gryffindor in particular.

                  (Er. Did Slytherin have a winning streak with the *Quidditch* Cup? I know that they won the *House* Cup seven years in a row, and as of PoA, *Gryffindor* hadn't won the Quidditch Cup in seven years (according to both Wood and McGonagall), but neither of those facts actually means that Slytherin won. Is there a more definitive statement that I've missed? Although considering how the Quidditch Cup earns points towards the House Cup, I suppose that it's likely that Slytherin won both.)

        • Slytherin was already in disgrace before Severus took over as Head of House because of its association with Voldemort and the DEs.

          Canon is iffy about this. On the one hand we have Lily convinced Severus and his friends are itching to join You-Know-Who, on the other we have Arthur telling the kids that nobody knew whom to trust and whom not to and Sirius telling us that Bellatrix managed to talk her way out of Azkaban before attacking the Longbottoms and Lucius getting off with his Imperius plea. If it was so obvious Slytherins were in Voldemort's circle of influence why was it so hard to know whom to suspect? Why was there so little evidence against DEs? I don't think Slytherin House was in disgrace with the larger wizariding society until actual trials came along.
  • "Lather, rinse, repeat," eh? Is that a pun about brainwashing? : )

    This would also explain why everybody seems to have found it so easy to believe the worst of Severus when he became Headmaster: It was because Dumbledore had watered down or removed their memories of him being funny, affectionate, playful, generous, etc. All of us would appear monstrous if we were judged only by our worst behaviors.
    • a pun on brainwashing...

      Yep, glad you enjoyed it.

      More seriously, once we let it fully register that Dumbledore is, like Barty Crouch Sr., willing to use Obliatus and Confundus against his own supporters--only for the Greater Good, of course--where do we think he drew the line?

      That he used them on Minerva and Remus is supposition; that he supported their use on Marietta and Mundungus is canon. So he was guilty of using mental control spells; the question is how often and to whom.

      And yes, he might--or Severus might, at his urging--have used them to blur memories that would lead his colleagues to question Severus's loyalty to Riddle.

      My reason for supposing it more likely that Albus got his own hands dirty on this issue is that he was in a much better position to memory-charm the Order and staff than Severus was--especially in VoldWarI, when Severus wasn't even an official Order member.
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