R.J. Anderson (rj_anderson) wrote,
R.J. Anderson

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So there it is, and there we are...

Well, lizbee, Melanie a.k.a. DrummerGirl, and anyone else I've forgotten who attempted without success to persuade me of the virtues (or at least the plausibility) of a certain ship over the years... I repent in sackcloth and ashes.

Based on Part III of the Leaky Cauldron/MuggleNet interview with JKR, it looks like you were right, and I was wrong. And I admit that freely and without bitterness.

Those who remember my old posts to the Snapefans Yahoo!Group back in 2001-02 will remember how vehemently I was opposed to the idea of Snape/Lily, and how strongly I argued against it, feeling it was a loathsome cliche to which JKR would surely not stoop. Of course, I was operating on the assumption (as were a lot of people at the time) that James and Lily had been fast friends, and then boyfriend/girlfriend, practically since they arrived at Hogwarts and so any idea of Snape/Lily would necessarily involve Poor!Pathetic!Snape crushing on James Potter's girl from afar, and hating James primarily because he was Lily's boyfriend. After all, at that point all we knew of Lily was that she was beautiful and self-sacrificing, and all we knew of James was that he was well-liked and popular. I could not imagine any scenario in which Lily might have been close to Snape, except out of some cloying pity or else in an effort to make James jealous, and both ideas made my skin crawl.

But who could have foreseen the revelations of OotP, much less HBP?

Finding out that the hatred between James and Snape had arisen at Hogwarts as a result of James's spiteful bullying and Snape's retaliations, and had nothing whatsoever to do with rivalry for Lily, certainly made the idea of Snape/Lily more bearable. Especially once it became clear, thanks to the "Snape's Worst Memory" scene, that Lily had loathed James and attempted to defend Snape (however unwelcome, from Snape's point of view, that intervention on her part may have been).

And now we have pharnabazus's theory, which I think very likely, that Snape and Lily worked together to develop the potions and charms that Harry found scribbled in the "Half-Blood Prince"'s old textbook (which Snape must have bought second-hand, like the books we see at Spinner's End) and that when Hermione said she thought the handwriting was a woman's, she was really not far off the mark. Lily may have been the one responsible for noting down the discoveries that she and Snape made, and it may have been her skewed sense of humour that led her to nickname Snape the Half-Blood Prince, rather than any Riddleesque conceit on Snape's part about his bloodlines (after all, it was purebloods who were the elite under Voldemort, not half-bloods, and would Snape really have been that proud of being the son of the Hogwarts Gobstones champion? But I can easily see Lily being amused to find out that Snape was a "Prince").

So, if Snape and Lily were friends and co-conspirators long before James came on the scene, and it was only after the breakup of their friendship (recorded for us in "Snape's Worst Memory" -- I can easily imagine that Lily's pride would not have allowed her to reconcile with Severus after he'd called her "Mudblood" in public) that Lily began dating James, then most of my original objections to the Snape/Lily scenario are removed. I still don't foresee myself writing it as a grand romance -- especially as I don't really think it was, or at least hadn't yet got to that point -- but I can accept it as an important part of Snape's background, and something which helps to explain both Snape's instant hatred of Harry (talk about mixed feelings -- the brat looks like the long-hated James, but something deep down in Snape probably also felt, 'This could have been my son, if I hadn't screwed up everything by driving Lily away") and his genuine horror at learning that reporting Trelawney's Prophecy to Voldemort had resulted in the Potters' deaths. James, feh -- but Lily --!

Not that I believe, even now, in LOLLIPOPS as such -- I don't think that Snape's bitterness and misanthropy are wholly or even mostly explained by his thwarted passion for Lily Potter. Not that the latter isn't a contributing factor, especially considering his particularly venomous attitude to the Marauders and Harry, not to mention Neville. Digressing a moment to talk about Neville, what do you bet that in the years after Godric's Hollow Snape tried to console himself that the mistake was Voldemort's more than his, that Neville and his parents were the ones Voldemort should have gone after, and left James and Lily alone? If so, when Snape finally got Neville in his class, the boy's persistent magical incompetence would have hit him like a slap in the face, because every failure on Neville's part would make it that much more blatantly unlikely that he had been the Chosen One. Then again, it could simply be that seeing Neville reminds Snape of the whole horrible prophecy scenario, and that in the unreasonable emotional way that people sometimes do, he hates Neville for reminding him of his own most terrible mistake. (I'm not saying Snape's attitude to Neville is in any way reasonable or justified, mind. I'm just saying it doesn't come completely out of left field.)

Anyway, back to LOLLIPOPS. I don't think it was Love of Lily that Left Ire Polluting Our Poor Severus, because as I said before, he hated James for his own sake, long before James/Lily materialized. I think Severus had quite enough Ire of his own, thanks to his upbringing and the way he was picked on at Hogwarts. You don't develop something like Sectusempra to use on your enemies (as Snape does on James in OotP) without having a fair bit of Ire behind you to begin with.

I am reminded of the conversation between Cameron and Stacy in the season finale of "House", where Cameron asks Stacy what House was like before the infarction that ruined his leg, and Stacy pauses and then says, "Pretty much the same." You can tell Cameron's been entertaining romantic notions that it's only pain and disability that make House the cranky, sarcastic misanthrope we all know and love, whereas Stacy's experience of House both pre- and post-infarction tells her (unless she's lying to put Cameron off, but I can't see why she'd bother) that the cynicism, bluntness and arrogance are genuine House traits, not just symptoms of his chronic pain. In other words, don't get any goofy notions about changing him, Cameron, even if you think he'll let you get close enough to try -- what you see is who House is. And I think the same is true of Snape. He would never have been a charming, sociable man, even if he'd never lost Lily; he would always have been wary and defensive, and not suffered fools gladly, and been apt to make cutting remarks, and if the young Mr. and Mrs. Snape had ever been socially accepted it would have been on Lily's account, certainly not because of Severus.

Anyway, even if having been loved does make Snape more "culpable" in JKR's view, there is a part of me that is absurdly pleased with the idea. At least it's now established that it is possible for someone to love him, or at least was possible once upon a time (and since I don't think he's changed that much over the years, I would stick with the "is" myself). And, it seems, Snape is (or was) capable of loving as well, judging by JKR's deliberate evasion when questioned about his feelings toward Lily. In short, the idea of Snape romance is not dead as some have insisted -- it's just not conventional and it's not of the hearts-and-flowers variety. But then, it never was.

Oh, and on another positive note, JKR has now unequivocally stated that Pensieve memories are reliable -- indeed more reliable than memory. So to all the people who insisted that the Marauders could never possibly have behaved as badly as Snape remembers, and that Snape must have done something we didn't see to provoke James's attack -- ha ha, na na na na boo boo, pffft.

And now that I have impressed you all with my maturity, I shall wander off and work some more on my fic.
Tags: characters, hp, snape, snape/lily, theories
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