During his days at Hogwarts, Severus Snape loathed Harry Potter’s dad, James. When Harry Potter came to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1991, Snape immediately disliked the boy.
However, Snape was loyal to Albus Dumbledore, who secretly pulled the strings regarding Harry’s ultimate showdown with Lord Voldemort.
Since protecting Harry early in the boy’s school career was on Dumbledore’s mind, did Snape also follow suit?
Severus Snape acted like he never cared for Harry Potter, but since he was loyal to Dumbledore, his loyalty extended to Harry. Snape never blatantly protected Harry, he indirectly protected him from adversaries. While Snape may have cared about Harry, there is also reason to believe he didn’t.
- How Did Snape Treat Harry at Hogwarts?
- Did Snape Protect Harry?
- Did Snape Care About Harry?
- Why Did Snape Protect and Possibly Care About Harry?
- Did Snape Care About and Protect Other Hogwarts Students?
How Did Snape Treat Harry at Hogwarts?
Severus Snape was the Potions Master at Hogwarts and the Head of Slytherin House during Harry Potter’s first five years at the school. During Year 6, Horace Slughorn took over as Potions Master while Snape achieved his dream of teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.
When Harry first caught Snape’s eye during the Start-of-Term Feast in Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone, he believed the professor did not like him, which was confirmed when the two met in Harry’s first Potions lesson.
Snape liked to insult Harry and often compared the boy to his father, James. He often took points from Gryffindor if Harry attempted to retaliate, which was the case when Harry talked back to him during a Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson in Half-Blood Prince.
There were multiple reasons why Snape hated Harry, but between Books I through VI, we believed the only reason was the professor’s childhood rivalry with James.
As we later found out in Book VII, Deathly Hallows, there were deeper reasons, which we will explain later. But first, let’s answer the two burning questions: Did Severus Snape protect Harry? If so, did he care about Harry?
Did Snape Protect Harry?
We first suspected that Snape was trying to kill Harry in Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry’s broomstick tried to throw him off during a Quidditch match.
Hermione Granger took it upon herself to set the hem of Snape’s robes on fire to break the curse Snape supposedly tried putting on Harry’s broom. However, she also knocked over Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Quirinus Quirrell, who was the real culprit.
While it seemed like Snape was trying to bully Quirrell into helping him steal the Sorcerer’s Stone, the opposite was true. As we saw in a flashback scene during Deathly Hallows, during Chapter 33, The Prince’s Tale, Dumbledore ordered Snape to “keep an eye on Quirrell.”
Therefore, Snape followed the Headmaster’s orders, and the Potion’s Master’s threats were nothing more than an attempt to deter Quirrell from trying to get the Stone.
During Chapter 17, The Man With Two Faces, Quirrell revealed that Snape was trying to protect Harry during the Quidditch Match. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger believed Snape muttered a curse at Harry, but he was really muttering a countercurse.
Snape Protected Harry Throughout the Series
Severus Snape is often viewed as the anti-hero in Harry Potter since he always came across as antagonistic. Even after Quirrell revealed Snape was protecting Harry in Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry still did not fully trust the Potions Master, despite Snape’s actions proving otherwise.
We later saw Snape look as though he were protecting Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban, when he attempted to apprehend Sirius Black and Remus Lupin inside the Shrieking Shack.
Snape indeed wanted the two to be sent to Azkaban, or in Black’s case, subjected to the Dementor’s Kiss. This action would have been his way of seeking revenge for how Black and Lupin (to a lesser extent) helped James torment him. But the Potions Master still put himself between Harry and Sirius, the latter of whom he still believed to be a notorious mass murderer.
Snape indirectly came to Harry’s aid in Order of the Phoenix when Harry told Snape, “He’s got Padfoot.” This was code for Harry telling Snape that Lord Voldemort was holding Sirius hostage. Or so Harry thought, as the Dark Lord was merely manipulating the boy’s mind…
While Snape appeared to shrug off the plea, he only did so to keep Harry’s revelation from Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and Hogwarts Headmistress Dolores Umbridge.
As later revealed, Snape immediately alerted the Order, which explains why they showed up at the Department of Mysteries. By this point, Snape, who was at least tolerant of Sirius, even recommended for Harry’s godfather to stay behind, despite the latter insisting otherwise.
Snape Protecting and Helping Harry in Deathly Hallows
By the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows rolled around, Snape had the entire Wizarding World convinced that he was aligned with Lord Voldemort after he murdered Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
Unbeknownst to Harry until Chapter 33, The Prince’s Tale, Snape had acted on Dumbledore’s orders when he killed the Headmaster.
Since Dumbledore suffered from a flesh-eating disease that was slowly killing him, he was going to die anyway, and he even asked Snape to kill him.
We also found out in The Prince’s Tale that when Snape took part in the Battle of the Seven Potters, he was once again doing so to protect Harry. During the fight, Snape acted like he was fighting the Order but instead secretly attempted to take out Death Eaters.
One of his most lethal spells, Sectumsempra, inadvertently hit and severed George Weasley’s ear. However, this action further proved to the Order that Snape was a Death Eater.
Also, in Deathly Hallows, Snape indirectly led Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor’s whereabouts in the form of his silver doe Patronus. The sword, which Harry first used to kill the basilisk in Chamber of Secrets, had the power to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
Not only was Snape protecting Harry, he also gave him the means to bring down Voldemort. And he did all this while posing as one of the Dark Lord’s right-hand men.
Did Snape Care About Harry?
The books contain many scenes that imply Snape never cared about Harry. For example, in Order of the Phoenix Dumbledore made a mistake and believed it was a good idea for Snape to teach Harry Occlumency, which is the ability to conceal one’s thoughts from another.
Predictably, Snape gave off the impression that he was weakening Harry, often pushing the boy past his limits. He also refused to give Harry Occlumency lessons after Harry discovered through a memory the extent of how far James went to torment him during their school days.
Despite Snape’s purported neglect, he may have cared about Harry since the first time they formally met in Sorcerer’s Stone. During Harry’s first Potions lesson, Snape asked Harry a question that the boy could not answer.
The question was, “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
In the Victorian Flower Language, asphodel holds a significant meaning defined as “My regrets follow you to the grave.” It is also a genus of lily, which also happened to be Harry’s mother’s name.
Wormwood also contains symbolism, mainly sorrow and absence. Combining the two meanings, many have taken this to mean, “I bitterly regret Lily’s death.”
Why Did Snape Protect and Possibly Care About Harry?
While we didn’t know it at the time, J.K. Rowling may have been giving us a huge clue during Philosopher’s Stone when Snape uttered his first question to Harry.
Snape grew up in Cokeworth, not far from Lily and Petunia Evans, Harry’s mother and aunt, respectively. He met them two years before Lily and he started at Hogwarts, and he fell in love with her almost immediately, something that continued long after Lily’s death in October 1981.
While Lily never returned Snape’s feelings, they were best friends during their formative years at Hogwarts. Snape, however, also became friends with many Pure-blood supremacists during this time, which led to friction with Lily, who was Muggle-born.
This friendship was ultimately severed in their Fifth Year when Snape called Lily a “Mudblood,” a derogatory term for Muggle-borns. Snape tried to win back Lily’s forgiveness, but she instead went on to befriend and later marry James.
Lily and James had Harry in July 1980, and the boy symbolized that she chose someone other than Snape. However, Harry was also Lily’s son, it was enough for Snape to not only protect but also to care about Harry.
We saw this confirmed during the flashbacks in The Prince’s Tale when Dumbledore admitted Voldemort had to kill Harry if the Dark Lord was to ultimately be defeated. This led to an angered Snape uttering his famous, “raising him like a pig for slaughter” line.
Dumbledore asked if Snape ever grew to care about Harry, and the latter responded by conjuring a Patronus Charm in the form of a silver doe, which was also Lily’s Patronus.
While it’s never confirmed that Snape cared about Harry, he still, even a decade-and-a-half after Lily’s death, loved and cared about Lily. So, he was protecting Harry for her, even if he never grew to care about Harry.
Did Snape Care About and Protect Other Hogwarts Students?
Harry wasn’t the only student Snape protected, as when he became Headmaster for the 1997-98 school year, he tried to protect all of Hogwarts’ students from the Carrows, who served as his Deputy Heads.
During this time, Snape was posing as a Death Eater, but in the fight against Voldemort, he continued to communicate regularly with and take orders from Dumbledore’s portrait, and even those of other former Headmasters, like Phineas Nigellus Black.
One example of Snape protecting other students occurred early in the year, when Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood were caught trying to steal what they thought was the Sword of Gryffindor.
Snape caught and gave them detention, but instead of subjecting them to torture, as was school policy at the time, he instead sent them to serve their attention with the gamekeeper, Rubeus Hagrid.
Snape was never open about the lengths he went to protect Harry, to the point Harry never knew the Potions Master was protecting him.
While Snape acted as though he did not care for Harry, he ultimately cared for him because, although the boy symbolized Lily chose another man, he was still Lily’s son.
Out of his love for Lily, Snape cared about Harry, going as far as to conjure a silver doe to guide the boy when Harry was out hunting Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
Todd Wahlstrom is a creative and analytical freelance writer and life-long Star Wars fan who has expanded into writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has written about recent shows such as The Mandalorian and Andor and classic topics like Darth Vader, the Jedi, and Boba Fett. His recent articles include the MCU’s Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. Todd is the author of a non-fiction book, holds a Ph.D. in history, and enjoys hiking, running, and reading about science.