Severus Snape was the Potion’s Master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and he immediately disliked Harry Potter. However, Snape protected Harry on several occasions, despite the fact he was not related to him, nor did he even like the boy.
Therefore, because of Snape’s actions, you may be wondering the true reason why he was protecting Harry.
Severus Snape loved Harry Potter’s mother, Lily, and that love never wavered even after Lily severed her friendship with him. Lily married James Potter, Snape’s adversary, and they had Harry not long after. Snape, despite not being related to the boy, would protect Harry on numerous occasions.
Who Is Harry Potter’s Dad?
In the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone entitled “The Boy Who Lived,” we learned that Harry Potter’s parents were Lily and James Potter and that Lord Voldemort (Tom Riddle) murdered them before he attempted to kill Harry.
Between 1971 and 1978, James attended Hogwarts where he was sorted into Gryffindor House and formed a gang known as the Marauders with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail).
While at Hogwarts, James was a popular student who played for the Gryffindor Quidditch Team, and in his seventh year, he became Head Boy. However, James was not a model student and became a troublemaker who often spent time in detention with Sirius. So, he didn’t mature until later in his school career.
James, despite his popularity, was also a bully, playing pranks on other students, and he even went as far as to hex unsuspecting students. This was something he did to Snape quite often, such as during a flashback sequence in Order of the Phoenix.
Despite this behavior, James eventually grew out of bullying and started dating Lily in his seventh year. The two married and joined the original Order of the Phoenix in their war against Voldemort.
They had Harry on July 31st, 1980, shortly after Sybill Trelawney made her First Prophecy at the Hog’s Head earlier that year.
Severus Snape, a Death Eater at the time, was secretly listening and heard the first part of the prophecy. The innkeeper, Aberforth Dumbledore, discovered and forced Snape from the premises, but the Death Eater nonetheless delivered what he heard to Voldemort.
Voldemort believed the prophecy referred to Harry, which caused him to seek out the boy and his parents. On October 31st, 1981, Voldemort found and killed James and Lily, before he failed to kill Harry.
Who is Severus Snape?
We first met Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the Potions Master who favored students from Slytherin House and Harry.
Early on, we thought that Snape hated Harry for no reason. But we soon discovered that the Potions Master held a heated rivalry with James when they attended Hogwarts, something Albus Dumbledore revealed in Chapter 17 of Sorcerer’s Stone.
However, we found out in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that Snape and James weren’t so much rivals. Instead, their relationship involved James bullying Snape just to entertain his friends and classmates.
This was a revelation because it was also shown that Lily Evans, Harry’s mother, disliked James, demanding that she leave Snape alone.
Despite Lily’s attempted rescue, Snape stressed he didn’t need a “Mudblood,” to help him. The use of the slur toward Muggle-borns severed what we thought at the time was at least a cordial friendship between Snape and Lily.
Why Did Severus Snape Try to Protect Harry in Sorcerer’s Stone?
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we learned that James, despite his constant bullying of Snape, saved Snape’s life at school.
During Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius told Snape to turn a knob to shut off the Whomping Willow, a violent tree that attacked anyone who went near it. But if someone turned the knob, the tree would go docile and lead to a secret passageway.
Snape turned the knob and ventured down the passageway, only to glimpse Lupin, who suffered from lycanthropy, in his werewolf form toward the end of the tunnel. James pulled Snape away, and his life-saving actions meant that Snape was magically bound to owe James a life debt.
We Believed Snape Protected Harry Because of His Life Debt to James
Since Snape could not repay James because the latter died in 1981, we believed his death was the only reason he decided to protect Harry. This was the narrative throughout the first six Harry Potter books, but everything changed during Chapter 33 of Deathly Hallows entitled “The Prince’s Tale.”
In this chapter, we learned that Snape was in love with Lily from the first time they met two years before their Hogwarts days. Lily and her sister, Petunia, grew up in Cokeworth, the same town that Snape grew up in.
Despite their falling out, as shown in the flashback in Order of the Phoenix, Snape never stopped loving Lily. So, when he realized Voldemort believed Trelawney’s prophecy referred to Harry, he turned to Dumbledore for help to hide Lily.
Dumbledore agreed, but only under the stipulation to conceal James and Harry, too. Despite the arrangements, Voldemort still found their hiding place thanks to Lily and James’ Secret Keeper, Wormtail, revealing their location.
Snape’s Love For Lily Motivated Him to Protect Harry But Snape Is Not Harry’s Dad
In The Prince’s Tale, we also learned that from the day Harry attended Hogwarts, Snape was looking out for him. And this continued throughout the series and Deathly Hallows.
For example, when Harry believed Snape was jinxing his broom during the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin match, Snape was really muttering a countercurse. We later found out that Professor Quirnius Quirrell was the one responsible for conjuring the curse.
During The Prince’s Tale’s flashback scenes, Dumbledore asked whether Snape grew to care about Harry. The latter responded by conjuring a Patronus in the form of a silver doe, which was also Lily’s Patronus.
While individuals conjure a specific animal when they cast a Patronus Charm, the animal can change if they feel a strong bond with someone. Since Lily’s was a doe, it also became Snape’s Patronus animal because of his love for her.
Therefore, Snape continued to do everything in his power to protect Harry because he was Lily’s son, even if he wasn’t even related to the boy. Sure, Harry reminded Snape of James, and Harry also served as confirmation that Lily chose another man.
But in the end, it didn’t matter to Snape, who, even long after her death, had Lily’s best interests at heart. Ultimately, Snape died protecting Harry in May 1998, just as Lily had in October 1981.
Snape Is Not Related to Harry
Severus Snape is not related to Harry Potter, but he did know Harry’s mother, Lily, since before they were students at Hogwarts. Snape developed romantic feelings for Lily the second he saw her, and they continued long after Lily severed friendship ties with Snape.
Lily married Snape’s school rival, James Potter, and they had Harry on July 31st, 1980. However, Lily only lived for another 16 months before Lord Voldemort murdered James and her, but he was unable to kill Harry.
Because of Snape’s love for Lily and his loyalty to Albus Dumbledore, he protected Harry during the boy’s school career and he even indirectly led him toward Gryffindor’s sword on Dumbledore’s orders.
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.