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Severus Snape: Innocent or Incomptetent?

By Ana

" 'Severus, please...' Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore. 'Avada Kedavra!'"

I'm sure you all were just as shocked to hear those two chilling words as I was when my eyes first drifted across that line. My very being, at that moment, loathed Snape with all the feeling I could muster. But after turning the last page of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, my mind began wondering. And before I knew it, I stumbled across the idea that maybe, just maybe, Snape is not evil after all. Now before you all pelt me with hexes and jinxes, let me present my evidence to you. First of all, we never did find out why exactly Dumbledore trusted Snape. He told Bellatrix in Chapter 2: Spinner's End, that he had told Dumbledore a cracked story of how sorry he was, and how he intended to mend his ways. But what if Snape was simply saying that to throw the Death Eaters off his back? Whatever happened, I think it took more than just a badly told story to make Dumbledore trust Snape. Second of all, I believe you'll all agree when we turn to the fact that Dumbledore was not afraid of death. Indeed, in countless occasions he reminded us that there are 'far worse things than death', and the fact that Voldemort didn't believe that was his greatest mistake. So, why, then, was Dumbledore begging? I think you'll recall this excerpt:

"But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly. 'Severus…' The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading."

Why was Dumbledore begging? Certainly not for his life, because he did not fear death. No, I believe that Dumbledore was begging Snape to sacrifice him, to kill him. Dumbledore had given Harry all the vital information he needed to proceed to destroy Voldemort. There was little left for him to do when living, and after all, Snape was supposed to act evil, wasn't he? And Snape and Dumbledore did stare at each other for a few moments, and as we all know, both are accomplished leglilmens. They might have been communicating in those short moments before Dumbledore's death. I believe Dumbledore knew he was going to die eventually, and if he hadn't died, Snape or Malfoy would have.

Another piece in the puzzle that points towards Snape's innocence is a bit farther back along the books. In the end of the Goblet of Fire, during the meeting with the death eaters, Voldemort states this about a certain missing death eater (hint, hint: SNAPE): "One, who I believe has left me forever… he will be killed, of course".

Snape was not killed when he returned, because he explained everything to Voldemort. But Voldemort is rarely wrong; it is curious that he fell so easily to Snape's story of regret.

Of course, killing Dumbledore when he was on his side mustn't have been easy. Snape had to kill his own superior, and then still face Harry calling him a coward, which justifies his expression of 'as much pain as [Fang] stuck in [Hagrid's] burning house behind him. Come to think of it, why didn't Snape simply finish Harry off right then? Why did he keep on blocking Harry's spells until, at last, he lost his patience when being called a coward? I think that there are some definite surprises about Snape in store for us in book seven. It's also very Jo-ish to turn us all against Snape, and then have him not turn out to be evil at all.

Another piece of evidence suggests, again, Snape's evidence. When at his house, Snape told Bellatrix that he knew of the Dark Lord's plans. Why, then, was he questioning Malfoy around the time of Slughorn's Christmas party? Didn't he already know the plan? And why, when the Death Eaters attacked the castle, was he found to be asleep in his bed!?

I conclude that although Severus Snape is bitter, grimy, and infuriating, he may well be still on the side of the order. And this complicates things, because the order see Snape as Dumbledore's horrid murderer, and never learned the true story of why Dumbledore trusted Snape. They certainly won't welcome Snape back with wide open arms, and thus have even less information about Voldemort's plans. Of course, there is always the possibility that Snape may not be a double- (or triple or quadruple) agent, but simply working for himself. You never know.

"I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death - if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."

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