August Challenge: Snape and His Men

The World of Severus Snape

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August Challenge: Snape and His Men

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My OTP is Snape/Lupin, but as I already wrote a Snupin ship essay a couple of years ago, I won't reiterate all the same points, but will discuss the ship more briefly, take a look at a few other Snape slash pairings, and discuss how my perceptions of Snape slash changed with the release of Deathly Hallows.

I've always been fascinated by Snape and Lupin. As I said in the original essay, they seem like opposites (the sarcastic and bitter Snape vs. the more polite and likeable Lupin), yet at the same time, they have a lot in common, too. They are both Dark creatures in a sense, with Lupin being a werewolf and Snape being a Death Eater, and for those reasons, they are both distrusted by wizarding society at large (with a few exceptions). They also belong to the same generation, and might be able to bond in the sense that they are two of the few left standing among their old classmates: Lupin has lost his Marauder friends, James and Sirius to death, and Peter Pettigrew to the Death Eaters, and many of Snape's old schoolmates are also dead, or are Death Eaters and now his enemies (although they aren't aware of it). They might be able to turn to each other, perhaps grudgingly at first, because no one else knows them as well or can truly understand what they've gone through. I'm aware that it would take a lot of work to get them both to the place where they could actually have a relationship: Snape would have to get over his long-standing bitterness and resentment, not to mention a possible lingering fear of werewolves, and Lupin would have to gain enough strength not to let himself be affected by peer pressure any longer, and more importantly, he'd have to prove to Snape that he's changed. But for me, part of the fun of the Snupin ship is seeing how the characters get to that place. There are some stories that start off with them already in a established relationship, and I've really enjoyed many of them, but the ones that I like the best are the stories that explain how Snape and Lupin managed to overcome their past and get together.

Of course, the Snupin ship seemed more plausible pre-DH, before we learned that Snape loved Lily. Previously, it was possible to speculate that Snape could have been so persistently following the Marauders around and trying to learn Lupin's secret because he had a crush on Lupin. However, we learn in DH that he was trying to persuade Lily that James and his cohorts were dangerous. His love for Lily also puts a damper on things, although it's possible to get around that in fic by saying that Harry misunderstood, and that Snape loved Lily deeply but platonically, like a sister. His fierce rivalry with James, though, seems to belie that theory.

There's also the problem of everyone thinking that Snape is a traitor, and of Lupin being married to Tonks in DH, although he seems so miserable in his marriage that it's easy to argue that he doesn't really love Tonks, but allowed himself to be pressured into the marriage because he fears losing his friends' approval. This seems to be a reasonable conjecture, considering the times that Lupin overlooked the way his friends bullied Snape in school and the way that he was afraid to tell Dumbledore about Sirius being an Animagus in PoA. However, this obviously still isn't conducive to a romantic relationship with Snape (even setting aside the fact that they both die towards the end of DH), unless one wishes to write angsty infidelity fic where Lupin is having a secret affair with Snape behind Tonks's back.

One can go the AU route in fanfic of course, and ignore the more troublesome elements of DH: Lupin and Snape were only presumed dead and managed to survive; Tonks conveniently remained dead, making Lupin a single widower, or she survives and they get an amicable divorce once they realize they aren't suited for each other, or the marriage was a sham so that Tonks (who got pregnant by someone else, maybe an Order member out working in the field) wouldn't have to be an unwed mother. I've seen all these premises in Snupin fic, and several others, handled very well. But going strictly by canon, a Snape/Lupin ship would be highly unlikely.

One could argue that Snape's obsessive love for Lily makes any slash ship--or perhaps any ship period--unlikely. (I say obsessive because he's still devoted to the memory of his first love nearly twenty years later, although I would argue that obsessions stems as much out of guilt as does it from love.) If he really was in love with Lily, then Snape isn't exclusively gay, but that doesn't automatically rule out him taking a male lover; he could be bisexual. I think that a more serious obstacle to any romance is that he feels so much guilt over Lily's death that I think he feels like he doesn't deserve to be happy, and he wouldn't be able to have a healthy relationship until he could get over that guilt. If he survived the final battle with Voldemort (in an AU, or it could be argued that it was never actually stated that he died in DH, only implied, so he could have survived Nagini's bite), then he might be able to feel that he'd finally paid off his debt to Lily by protecting Harry. At that point, perhaps he could begin to start over and live his life for himself, and a romance might be possible.

In that case, it could be argued that he would find it easier to take a male lover than a female one. As I argued in my essay about Lily, I believe that Snape's love for her was so deep because she wasn't simply a girl that he liked; she represented an ideal that he desired, perhaps the comfort and safety of a loving family, something that he seemed to lack. By the time their friendship irrevocably breaks up over the "Mudblood" insult, they appear to have been growing apart. It's possible that if there had been no Voldemort and no war, and therefore no murder of Lily, that they might simply have grown apart and gone their separate ways. Perhaps Snape would always have been a little wistful about the loss of his first love and childhood friend, but knowing that she was alive and well, he might have been able to go on with his own life and fall in love with someone else. But she died young, and in that case, it's all too easy to put the loved one up on a pedestal and remember only the good things about them and forget about their faults. I think that he idealizes Lily so much that it would be hard for another woman to take her place. So perhaps, in some ways, it might be easier for Snape to have relationships with men, since he would be less likely to compare them directly to Lily.


Snupin is my favorite, but of course I'm quite aware that Snarry is one of the most popular HP slash pairings. To be honest, I don't normally care for it much myself because the power imbalance of a teacher/student relationship makes me uneasy. (Just my own personal tastes, of course, and no offense intended against any Snarry shippers.) If Harry is an adult and no longer a student at the time that the relationship begins, then it doesn't bother me, and I have read a few of these that I liked. However, even though it's not my cup of tea, I think that the Snarry ship takes on some interesting complications in light of what we learned in DH. How would Harry feel about being in a relationship with Snape, knowing that Snape had been in love with his mother? I think he'd have to wonder if Snape really loves him, or if he's just using Harry as a substitute for Lily. Maybe Snape isn't sure himself. Maybe he was initially drawn to Harry because of Harry's connection to Lily, but eventually comes to love Harry for himself. But how does he convince Harry of his sincerity? It seems like there are a lot of fascinating possibilities to explore.


Snape/Lucius is another Snape slash pairing that I've seen a lot of. They have much more in common than Snape and Lupin, both being Slytherins and Death Eaters, and they seem to share a friendship, so if you take it a step further, they could become lovers. (And there are, of course, all those fanfic cliches about Death Eater orgies and Slytherin orgies in the dungeon.) It still seems plausible from what we learn in DH: in the Sorting scene in The Prince's Tale flashback, we see that Lucius welcomes young Severus into Slytherin. It would be easy for a lonely, unhappy boy who was raised in a poor Muggle neighborhood to be charmed by the acceptance of an older, wealthy pureblood student. And perhaps Lucius saw the great potential that Snape had--as a student, he's already creating his own spells and improving on the textbook potion techniques--and was attracted to that potential. Maybe there's a genuine respect and attraction between them, or in a darker, more twisted relationship, Lucius could have seduced Snape in order to ensure his loyalty and/or draw him into the Death Eaters. Although if there wasn't some element of genuine friendship between them, I don't think that Snape would have been so quick to make the Unbreakable Vow for Draco's sake.

Of course there's an obvious complication to the ship: Lucius is married to Narcissa. So personally, I don't read much Snucius because I usually don't care for infidelity fics. (Again, just my own personal tastes.) But there are still ways to get around that. Lucius and Narcissa could have made an arranged, loveless marriage for the sake of family alliances and having a pureblood heir, but Lucius is having a passionate affair with Snape on the side. Maybe Narcissa doesn't know, or maybe she and Lucius have an agreement that they can each seek lovers for their own pleasure as long as they're discreet about it. Or maybe Narcissa gets in on the action and they have a threesome! And of course, in an AU, Narcissa could either die or divorce Lucius.

However, after reading HPB and DH, I'd be less inclined to believe in a cheating Lucius, since there seems to be a strong bond between the Malfoy family. Most of Narcissa's efforts are focused on protecting Draco, but I do believe that she and Lucius love each other as well. Still, anything can happen in fanfiction.


There are many other Snape slash ships out there--I'm sure he's been paired at least once with just about every male character that appears in the books, but those are the three that I'm most familiar with. I'd just like to end with some comments about the "forced marriage" theme topic which was suggested for next month's challenge, "Severus and his women." Forced marriage is a fairly common theme in Snupin, and I believe in Snarry as well. In Snupin, it's usually something along the lines of the Ministry declaring a law that werewolves will be executed/imprisoned/enslaved unless they are married to a witch or wizard who will take responsibility for them. For some reason or other, this responsibility gets thrust upon Snape. For Snupin or Snarry, it's a convenient way to bring together two people who dislike or even outright hate each other in canon, since it solves the problem of why they would get together in the first place. Which makes it sound like an easy way out, but I've seen a number of really well-done fics that believably show how the two newlyweds gradually come to respect, like, and eventually love each other. Variations on the forced marriage theme that I've seen in Snupin are fics where Snape is on a type of parole or probation imposed by the Ministry, and Lupin agrees to take responsibility for him, or fics where either Snape or Lupin have been severely injured in the war, and the other agrees to or feels obliged to nurse the injured party back to health. Again, the forced time spent together allows them to see a different side to each other and allows romantic feelings to develop.
  • Thoughtful coverage of the topic. I'm sure it's no surprise to admit that many of the things that draw you to snupin are the things that also attract me.

    In the wake of DH my denial of the book's conclusion is wearing thin with me - although I still love snupin, the exclusivity of that as my only ship has faltered, and I'm increasingly drawn to snarry. However, the fics I enjoy all feature an older Harry, some years after the books.

    • Thanks! I agree that DH did make it a lot harder to make the Snupin ship work in canon context. I felt like Remus really took a step backwards in character development, more towards the guy who was afraid to stand up to James and Sirius. I don't know if it's because of DH or just because I'm growing more open-minded, but I've been growing more open to reading Snape and Lupin in other pairings. They're still my OTP, though, and in my own little "official" fanon-verse, they'll always be together. ^_^
  • I think Snupin was among the first non-canon ships I read, back in the day. Definitely the first I read where the people being paired were two that are portrayed as hating each other in canon. I can see how the two of them have a lot in common, however the more I think about Remus' behavior in canon the less I like him and the less I can find it believable Severus might like him - unless Remus starts taking responsibility for managing his condition and behaving more responsibly, growing some spine in general. In a fic where both of them survived the war I can see them eventually getting together, but not before much change.

    As for other slash fics, I find Snarry very attractive to read because it is an opportunity for Harry to see canon events from a different POV and for Severus to show his caring side openly.

    Severus/Lucius - since Draco was conceived in late 1979 there is also the possibility to fit that ship in before Lucius married Narcissa, if one insists.

    I agree Severus has been paired with almost any canon character, male or female on either side of the war. In addition to the above, of the slash pairings I think Draco, Regulus and for some reason Sirius are high in popularity. I have also seen interesting possibilities with Bill. For a while I sought out Severus/Albus fics (there weren't many of them around) but by the time Albus became canonically gay I could no longer stand him and the only way I can see this pairing happening is in a dubious-consent situation with some Stockholm Syndrome. While I can believe that of Dumbledore I'd rather not see Severus in such situations.
    • I love my Snupin, but sadly, I have to agree that Lupin really needs to grow a spine. In Book 5, he talked about regretting his past behavior, so I was hopeful that he'd learned from his mistakes, but in the end, it felt like he took a huge step backwards in character development by Book 7, as I was saying to Red Day Dawning in the comment above. Most of the Snupin fics I like show a Lupin who's grown a lot stronger than the one we see in canon, so I guess it has to be AU to really work.

      Maybe I have to try reading more Snarry. It's far from canon, but I really loved "Home Fries Nazi." ^_^

      Other pairings: Draco and Regulus seem like compatible pairings; I've read some good Severus/Sirius fics, but as with the Snupin, the author has to really work to resolve their issues, unless it's just hate-sex.

      I know there's a Snape/Dumbledore category on Ink Stained Fingers, though I don't read that pairing, so I'm not sure how many fics there are. Theoretically, I could see Snape with the kindly, compassionate Dumbledore that I thought existed early in the series, but I agree that the pairing takes on a much darker tone with the manipulative Dumbledore of DH--I don't see any way that such a relationship could be healthy or loving.
  • Snape and his Men/ Snape and his Women

    About Snape and Lupin being opposites…

    One thing that seems to stand out as a difference between the slash and het fanfic I’ve read: you’ll see the occasional slash rarepair (Snape/Slughorn, Snape/Flitwick), but I’m not sure I’ve ever read a slash Snape/OFC. Most of the Snape slash I’ve read is Snarry, followed by Snupin, with Snape/Draco, Snape/Lucius, and Snape/other Marauders following very distantly behind.

    Whereas het Snape/OFC pairings are numerous—possibly more numerous than SS/HG, certainly far more frequent than Snily and Snuna. (I’d count Bohemian Spirit’s Charity as an OFC here, since JKR gave her no more than a name and six grudged words of dialog.)

    Maybe it’s just my reading, and what people here on Snapedom rec. But if there’s a real difference, part of it seems to be that in a lot of the het fics, the relationship is Snape’s comfort or reward for his previous tribulations. (See Whitehound’s “Lost and Found” and “Sons of Prophecy” for SS/HG and SS/OFC examples; while writers such as Bohemian Spirit and Mary Johnson are totally upfront about wanting their fics to give Snape the fulfilling life that they think he merited that JKR denied him, and a fulfilling life naturally includes people, including a lover/spouse, who value Severus for himself.)

    Whereas in a lot of the Snarry and Snupins, the focus is on Snape’s reconciliation with his erstwhile enemies. (This can be an element in the SS/HG ones, too—but much less so, as Hermione’s animosity against Snape—and vice versa—was never so strong as with Snape/Harry or Snape/Marauder pairings.)

    In a lot of Snarry and Snape/any Marauder (or any Weasley) pairing, there’s a strong Pride-and-Prejudice theme—that a strong sexual attraction can force the characters to work past their initial unfavorable impressions. (At first “he looked at her only to criticize. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying…”)

    Or, of course, all those forced-marriage fics!

    What you said—part of the appeal “is seeing how the characters get to that place” where they can be lovers.

    And if you look at the gen Snape/Harry fictions on Potions and Snitches, which are certainly also fics about “Snape and his Men (or Boy)”, most of them are driven by the need to have those two enemies reconcile somehow. Snape-adopts-Harry, Snape-is-really-Harry’s-father, Snape-becomes-Harry’s mentor, Snape-rescues-Harry-and-they-both-have-a-change-of-heart….

    Whereas I don’t think I’ve read any slash versions of “Light Between the Cracks,” or many slash post-DH Snape-gets-a-nubile-young-lifemate-as-a-reward-for-his-courage fics (though some of the Snacos, and the Snarrys that gloss over how they actually got together, might qualify).

    What I’m saying is: if JKR had written a reasonable reconciliation between Severus and Harry and/or Severus and the last of the Marauders, there’d be a lot less Snarry and Snupin out there in the fanfic universe. And if she’d ever given Severus any reward at all for his lonely courage, there’d be a lot less het with OFCs or Hermione.

    But she didn’t, and so there is. Our gain, I guess.
    • Re: Snape and his Men/ Snape and his Women

      Thanks for those interesting observations about het vs. slash! I had never really thought about it before, but you're right, I haven't seen many Snape/OMC fics--the only one I can think of offhand is A Gift of Light by Josan. Well, I've seen the occasional Snape/OMC side pairing in Snupin, where Snape has a lover before he gets together with Lupin, or maybe they have a threesome with some hot guy, but it's only a secondary pairing and the main focus was on the Snupin.

      Maybe that's partly why I like slash so much, because I love those reconciliation type fics--even though I don't ship Snarry, I like seeing Snape and Harry come to some sort of reconciliation. I do eventually want Snape to be rewarded in the end with a loving relationship (or at least finding some peace and ease from his bitterness in a gen fic), but I guess there's something about the inherent conflict leading up to the reconciliation that appeals to me.

      And good point about the lack in canon inspiring more fanfiction. I'll have to keep that in mind the next time I complain about Deathly Hallows! ^_^

      Anyway, thanks again for your insights--your comments would make a great entry for the "Severus and his women" topic, too.
    • Re: Snape and his Men/ Snape and his Women

      I don't agree. Remus married Tonks, but there's still lot's of Snape/Remus stories out there. If there was a reconcilliation, I think it would be celebrated more.
      I know I would be jazzed that my OTP was canon! I'd have a lot more art to do!
      • Re: Snape and his Men/ Snape and his Women

        Sorry, I was unclear. WE (the readers) are the ones who want reconciliation--I'm saying that's the attraction behind a lot of Snarry and Snupin. JKR didn't give it to us--if she had, and had done a plausible job, much less fanfic.

        But reconciliation can only occur where the primary conflict is. For Harry, with Snape (who, we're told, Harry hated worse than arch-enemy Riddle); for Severus, with the Marauders (Harry, for him, is their echo--one of the challenge of Snarry fictions is to turn Harry into more than not-James and not-Lily for Severus).

        What JKR gave us instead of any reconciliation?

        For Snape, an echoing void, begging to be filled.

        For Lupin?--Tonks is clearly, overwhelmingly, dimiinished by her obsession with him. The Tonks of HBP is lesser, magically and emotionally, than the Lupin-free Tonks of OotP.

        As for Lupin--he accepts Tonks's interest under duress (social pressure plus overwhelming emotional travail), takes the first possible opportunity to ditch her, and considers the possibility of reproducing with her nearly as unfavorably as Voldemort does.

        JKR never gave Tonks anything to celebrate. Or to reconcile.

        Tonks is in the horrible position of being Remus's ultimate fallback: 'Since I can never have what I want, or what I want next, or what I want to want, or what I could contentedly settle for, I might as well dredge up the sludge of what might be theoretically possible, and settle for the best of that."

        How does it feel, to be the fifth-best to anything actually desired by one's beloved?

        You're starting, really, to make me feel for Tonks. Which JKR hadn't managed to make me do.

      • Re: Snape and his Men/ Snape and his Women

        I have to admit that for myself personally, I'm less inclined to write fic about a pairing if they already have a loving and satisfying relationship in canon--maybe because I feel like canon did it so well that I don't have much to add. Unresolved issues tend to inspire my muse more by making me wondering what would happen if things took a different direction than canon, and of course there's a certain amount of wish fulfillment in wanting to see two characters that I like get together, and to give Snape and Lupin the happy ending that they didn't get in canon.

        That said, I think it would be awesome if Snape/Lupin was canon! ^_^ (And I would love to see the art you would do for that!)
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