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Meta: The Importance Of Albus Severus Potter, Or: Harry’S Last And Greatest Protector

Compulsive Repetition And Cycle-Breaking - The Importance Of Albus Severus Potter, Or: Harry’S Last And Greatest Protector

There is a lot of trauma to go around in HP, and tragically (and realistically), it keeps piling on.

Harry is repeatedly orphaned, first from his parents, then from Sirius and Dumbledore - respectively his actual appointed parent figure if anything should happen to his parents, and Harry’s “last, greatest protector” according to his narration of the funeral.

Dumbledore’s formative trauma is his role in his sister’s death thanks to dabbling in Dark magic and the subsequent cover-up, and within his attempt to pay his karmic debt and stop another Dark wizard from taking over, he finds himself endangering god knows how many children under his care: Snape nearly died as a student, and many of the children he watched grow up and then recruited into the OOTP died as well. The seemingly incongruent triumphant look in his eyes when Harry tells him about the blood Voldemort took might be the moment his own pattern breaks for the first time - he is still fighting for the Greater Good, but thanks to his machinations over the years, he had given Harry a chance to survive his part in Dumbledore’s crusade. I think this arc concludes when he fights for Draco’s soul unto death - it serves a strategic purpose to cement Snape’s position, yes, but also, he died having saved a child in his care from the fate that had tormented Dumbledore himself even after an actual century.

Snape’s traumas are many, but the formative one is catalyzing Lily’s death. He then finds himself - again, but worse this time - forced to push the trigger on his only friend’s death. The pain this causes him is evident - he wails like a wounded animal in the immediate aftermath and even risks going to Sirius’s house to find something that would keep him going.

I’d like to propose that Snape might have known that Harry’s best chance at survival - i.e. Snape’s best chance at redemption - would be Harry’s Lily-like self-sacrificing act.

Pensieve memories are unfalsifiable, but there might have been an element of choice in when to end them, and it’s possible Snape always knew he would have to use a Pensieve to persuade Harry to believe him. The conversation that ends in “Always” couldn’t actually have ended like that, because nothing is actually resolved: Dumbledore does not convince Snape that Voldemort’s defeat is more important than Harry’s survival. The height of the conflict between Snape and Dumbledore is the least natural point to end the scene. Tellingly, Dumbledore’s eyes are closed throughout the entire explanation of Harry’s supposed ultimate fate. Snape and Dumbledore were both legilimenses, and legilimency requires eye contact. I strongly believe closed eyes, then, indicate “there’s more”.

“Precisely. If there comes a time when Lord Voldemort stops sending that snake forth to do his bidding, but keeps it safe beside him under magical protection, then, I think, it will be safe to tell Harry.”
“Tell him what?”
Dumbledore took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

This is followed by the explanation, including the dialogue:

“So the boy … the boy must die?” asked Snape quite calmly. “And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential.”

So: Harry must know why he is dying, and it must be done by Voldemort’s hand. Harry must also find out, and then sacrifice himself, at a very specific moment. If the only important thing is “dead Harry,” this could easily be achieved. The specifics are essential.

Dumbledore opened his eyes. Snape looked horrified.

Snape’s admonishment, and the “Always” exchange, follow.

After this conversation occurs, Snape kills Dumbledore, and immediately after that he duels Harry and does not let him come to harm, saying “Potter belongs to the Dark Lord”.

In Dark Lord Ascending, we see that Snape made sure Voldemort would know he alone must kill Harry. I posit that it was not merely Voldemort’s ego, as he could have sent anyone (and indeed he used Narcissa as a human shield to make sure Harry was truly dead). He is uniquely bad at killing Harry. Yet he says:

“But I know better now. I understand those things that I did not understand before. I must be the one to kill Harry Potter, and I shall be.”

This must have come from Dumbledore’s spy, then sitting beside Voldemort as his most valuable servant.

Snape is still capable of producing the Doe Patronus, which represents Lily, and he is still serving Dumbledore despite having been used by him for years at that point.

It might mean that Snape understood that his personal quest for redemption is not as important as the entire world, but this insight is already served by his choice to die, sending Voldemort to battle with a wand that won’t answer to him.

And anyway, if Harry must die, why is it so important that he sacrifice himself willingly? Why is it so important that Voldemort himself do it? A final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort or one of his cronies would have happened at some point, and Harry would have died, and Voldemort’s last vestige would have died with him. Snape was not a stupid man, and not an unquestioning follower. The idea that this is actually rather a strange thing for Dumbledore to insist on must have occurred to him at some point. The self-sacrifice element was Harry’s chance to come back, and this was why giving Harry the memories was imperative. Presumably, this knowledge also made it worthwhile to Snape to explain himself and his actions as thoroughly as he had, because really - only a couple of the memories he gave Harry are strategically important.

Snape dies because of the prophecy he had delivered. Lord Voldermort says:

“It cannot be any other way,” said Voldemort.
"I must master the wand, Severus. Master the wand, and I master Potter at last.”

Snape is why Voldemort is interested in Harry, and he dies for this, and because of this. Voldemort thinks he is due to win at any moment.

But Harry - Harry, who had spared Peter Pettigrew, who had by then amassed so many tragic deaths - can feel pity and mercy, even for Snape. In the shrieking shack, where Harry had proved his mettle once before, Snape is slowly dying and Harry shows his compassion to him, the compassion Snape must have missed so much, lacked so painfully. He gets to look into Lily’s eyes knowing that perhaps he might not have failed her.

He dies redeemed, even - especially - to the boy who was his main victim. Snape had both orphaned him and mistreated him as a student, but he was Harry’s true latest and greatest protector. His pattern is broken, his trauma is resolved, and Lily’s sacrifice is not wasted.

And Harry understands him. Snape’s main victim reveres him, symbolically makes Snape a member of his family who is worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Dumbledore. Harry’s cycle is broken in that he has his own family, he commemorates his dead, and he forgives and understands even the man he had once hated as much as he did Voldemort himself. In Harry, Snape and Dumbledore broke their patterns, and in forgiving them and understanding he has always had protectors, imperfect as they were, Harry breaks his own. That is the true end, why the epilogue works, and the way to get from repeated loss and trauma to “all is well.”

The Gestalt Prince, Krystal and 6 other users have reacted to this post.
The Gestalt PrinceKrystalNaagaYampamWinter's ShadeDark AngelSamUla

Great analysis as usual. Can't wait for more posts from you 🙂

The Gestalt Prince, Krystal and Dark Angel have reacted to this post.
The Gestalt PrinceKrystalDark Angel