I don’t have any of the original posts or quotes that went with this, but this has been bouncing around my brain and my Facebook for a while now, and I CANNOT LET IT GO UNDEFENDED. I CAN’T.
So one of my friends on Facebook said (or shared someone who said, I can’t remember) that instead of focusing on “creepy Professor Sneep” and his “borderline obsession with another man’s wife” we should be remembering James Potter’s devotion to his son and family–replacing “Always” with “Until the very end,” which to my memory is what James says to Harry just before the final showdown with Voldy.
OKAY LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS BECAUSE YOU ALL KNOW WHY I’M IN ALL CAPS NOW.
Wheeeeee there is no faster way to make me angry and rage-filled than by insulting or demeaning Severus Snape. As one of the most complex and brilliant characters I’ve seen in a very long time in fiction, I am perpetually fascinated by how he’s slowly revealed, and the manner in which we see his past controlling his present. So let’s recap Severus’ life.
He went to school, a half-blood child from a less than stellar family, and is Sorted into the house where–for better or worse–pure blood is the best and only way to go. He fights his way into being the best he can, finding a particular penchant for potions, so much so that he begins to make notes in his textbook where he has found ways to improve upon the norm. One of his few friends from beyond Hogwarts is a girl who’s willing to look beyond the baseline, someone he met at home: muggle-born Lily Evans. She befriends him when no one else will.
He’s not a handsome young man, with a sallow complexion and limp black hair with a proclivity for looking greasy. He’s not terribly popular. So what happens to unattractive unpopular people? They get picked on by the popular ones. Enter James Potter and his crew, Gryffindor elite. James is everything Severus is not: handsome, popular, talented at sports, and…in the same house as Lily. With Slytherin not known for its love of Muggle-born wizards and witches, and her budding friendship and romance with James lurking at the edges, Lily and Severus have their friendship strains to the breaking point–and past, halfway through their schooling. He joins the Death Eaters, angry at James and his ilk.
Of course, we all know that at the beginning of the first Wizarding War, Snape changes sides and joins the Order of the Phoenix in order to be a double agent. Few trusted him, probably for logical reasons, but he did all in his power to keep Voldemort blind from his duplicity, as well as helping to protect those he cared for. The failure to do such with Lily, despite all the protection believed to be on the Potters and their home, was the final breaking point and Severus devoted himself back to the light, inasmuch as any double agent in fear of murder can.
When Harry appears, looking all the world like his father, it’s no surprise that Severus isn’t going to take well to the boy. But, as we are all reminded over and over again, the boy has Lily’s eyes. And for that, and out of his remaining love for his mother, Severus protects Harry unto the very end, sacrificing his life for Harry as well–perhaps an interesting parallel back to Lily. Severus will always remember his one friend, the one who believed in him when no one else would, the one who he couldn’t save. His Patronus is a doe, and yes, after all this time, he will “always” love her. She’s been one of the few to ever convince him he could be loved as well.
AND YET WE’RE SUPPOSED TO TAKE JAMES OVER THAT. James, snotty arrogant git in school, troublemaker and instigator extraordinaire, whose saving grace is that as he got older, he stood on the side of the light and produced the child who would be marked as the Dark Lord’s equal. Like really, I’m being honest here. Tell me what James Potter did to make himself better aside from being Harry’s father. He had a happy life, which led to him being a happy child with little to ever challenge him in that. Life was easy for James, and he coasted through it with all the joie de vivre that offers. A prophecy comes, his son is a potential target, and he dies valiantly saving–or rather, trying to save–his family. Yes, he stays with Harry “until the very end,” along with Lily and Sirius and…Remus? I think? Yay for him.
One man was fortunate and well-off and well-loved, and did as expected for his entire life. One man was given nothing, fought for everything, and scraped together what little he could to redeem what little he could. Gave all he could give and took what little he felt he deserved, and died protecting the one remaining element of the only friend he truly ever had.
I’m sorry. I cannot believe that somehow James Potter is a better man and a better role-model than Severus Snape. Do I think Snape is perfect? Absolutely not. He makes all kinds of awful decisions and deals with his problems in all kinds of awful ways. But he learns, and he tries, and sometimes he fails but other times succeeds.
Where do we see that with James?
I believed in Severus Snape from the beginning, and until the very end. And I do now…
…and will, always.