Harry Potter fans love to argue about the relationship between Severus Snape and Lily Potter. Snape’s self-proclaimed love for Harry’s mother became the guiding force of his actions throughout the series, and there was a portion of the book dedicated to seeing Snape’s history with Lily and understanding the moral relativity that exists in even the people we think are clearly good or evil. J.K. Rowling has apologized for cutting out Snape, but what she should apologize for is creating a love story so mired in a man’s inability to see a woman as a human person that none of her readers can agree on whether Snape is a friend, foe, or somewhere in-between.
The love story between Snape and Lily starts out like a Taylor Swift song: a young boy and his neighbor meet in her backyard and fall into a world their families can’t understand. Snape falls in love with his best friend, and she doesn’t notice. Then, things start to get a little Anakin Skywalker-y. Snape turns to the dark side, and his blind faith in the wrong cause leads to him causing her demise. It really is like Star Wars, which is an ironic comparison considering Revenge of the Sith is the worst prequel in recorded human history, and The Deathly Hallows is an intricately thought-out conclusion to a beloved series. Not everything makes sense in Potterworld, though.
Here are the 21 Things That Make No Sense About Snape And Lily’s Relationship.
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21 Snape Called Lily A Slur
Snape was a half-blood, making his allegiance to Voldemort even stranger. Teenage boys are pretty dumb and prideful. Lily standing up to Snape’s bully when he couldn’t and Snape’s insecurities about an attractive, popular boy being attracted to Lily made him lash out at her in a weak moment.
That was a very believable, but even if this lead to the revelation that Snape was too far gone into the Death Eaters, calling Lily a “Mudblood” makes no sense in their relationship. He is half-blood, but also, his insecurities towards her have nothing to do with her heritage. As her best friend, he must have known things closer to home that he could have used to wrongfully attack her, and as an angry, rejected young man, he must have thought things that were more relevant to his issue to mention.
20 … And His Worst Memory Was Of That Moment
Snape has done some horrible things to Lily and to himself, but his worst memory was when he called her a slur. It wasn’t when he decided to join the Death Eaters and actually lost her ,because Snape may still not understand why Lily never returned his affections, nor was it when he betrayed her to Voldemort and caused her demise.
This shows that he fundamentally misunderstood what he needed to atone for, and he cared more about how Lily felt about him than about Lily herself. His regret isn’t that he failed Lily but that he failed to win her, and that is why their love story isn’t really a love story at all.
19 Snape Hated Harry
If Snape loved Lily so deeply for so long, why did he hate Harry so much? Sure, Harry looked and acted like his childhood tormentor (who, for the record, was a teenage boy targeting a bigoted student), but he also looked like Lily and was Lily’s son.
If his love was as true as Snape seemed to think it was, having even the smallest piece of Lily should’ve brought comfort. Instead, Snape seemed to really dislike Harry in spite of secretly helping him and seeing him as his chance for redemption. Why would Snape risk blowing his shot at making things right just because he still didn’t understand teenage boys? Harry would have been more than a reminder of Lily’s choice in James if Snape’s love was more than a desire for proprietary ownership of her soul.
18 Snape Joined the Dark Arts Against Lily’s Wishes
Everyone knew what the Death Eaters were. They were scary, vitriolic demons and Lily knew that. If Snape was trying so hard to stay in her life, choosing a path that actively alienated her was clearly not the correct one.
He also gaslighted her when she tried to show concern for him, turning it into a conversation about James. J.K. Rowling even said that Snape “never really understood Lily’s aversion; he was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater.” He didn’t even really care to understand Lily, he just liked the idea of her.
17 And He Only Left The Dark Arts After Her Passing
Snape only chose to leave the Death Eaters out of guilt. This doesn’t make him less of a classist or a racist, however. He didn’t learn the error of his ways. Instead, he just hurt himself by hurting Lily and went back to focusing on the only thing he’s ever cared about: himself.
Snape had at least three years during which he could have realized it was the Dark Arts keeping Lily far from his life, and he did nothing to change it. He could have left a long time before she passed away if he cared as much as he thinks he does, and he could have tried to mend things, but he again only wanted an idea of Lily, not Lily herself.
16 Lily’s Husband Was Snape’s Bully
Snape and Lily grew apart naturally. Lily chose the path of light, while Snape chose to embrace the darkness. That has its own challenges, but regardless of what happened between the former best friends, it’s hard to believe that Lily would choose to marry the man who tormented her childhood best friend.
Lily had such a strong moral code and had seen James, who did mature as he aged, at his very worst. Although Lily and James didn’t start dating until two years after she ended her friendship with Snape, as their friendship was represented in the books, it seems likely that Lily would have trouble separating James from his past indiscretions and history of bullying.
15 Snape Was Probably The Reason Why Petunia Hated Magic
When Petunia vitriolically refers to “that horrible boy” who hung out with Lily after she discovered her magic, Petunia was probably speaking about Snape and not James, who most fans assumed was the target of her scorn. This is because Snape was regularly at the Evans’ family home.
It’s possible that James actually only met Petunia once, when the newlyweds had dinner with Petunia and her new beau Vernon, as James didn’t become a large part of Lily’s life until she was sixteen and already estranged from Petunia. It’s weird that Lily would maintain a friendship with Snape after he was awful enough to her sister that it created a wedge in their once-solid relationship, especially if many of his insults were rooted in hatred for Muggles.
14 Snape Was Obsessed With Lily
Lily remained friends with a young man who was obsessed with her for a long time, which is a strange phenomenon in and of itself. Usually, when someone stalks another person at their home and seems to view them as property, it is off-putting and quickly creates distance in the relationship.
Lily’s complete ignorance of the situation only makes it more unusual and could realistically be a willful ignorance in which she chose to ignore the clear signs of an unhealthy attachment out of obligation to their friendship. Lily was the only person who was ever nice to Snape, in his mind at least, and it’s sad that her kind demeanor ultimately caused the relationship that would lead to her passing.
13 Snape Lived In The Muggle World
Snape was a half-blood, like many wizards who live in the Wizarding World. Snape, however, lived in the Muggle world in a toxic family on the wrong side of the tracks and continued to return there whenever he wasn’t at school, much like Harry in the books.
Snape was able to watch Lily from afar and later learn of her magical abilities because he lived in the Muggle world. His hatred towards Muggles comes from this time in the Muggle world, but the Muggle-born Lily was such a formative person in his life and one of the only positive aspects of his childhood, so his decision to focus on the negative aspects of his Muggle upbringing rather than Lily, his obsession, is confusing.
12 Snape Told Voldemort About The Prophecy
Severus Snape is not a dumb person. The Potions professor had his weaknesses, though, including misplaced allegiances, poor social skills, and an inability to properly wash his hair, to name a few. Low intelligence, however, was not one of them.
Regardless of how much he hated James, Snape, being the smart man he is, should have realized that telling Voldemort about the prophecy would endanger Lily, even just by bringing the Order of the Phoenix member into the forefront of the Dark Lord’s mind. If the Order and Dumbledore could figure out that the prophecy might refer to either Harry or Neville Longbottom, Snape should have known as well. This is the action that birthed the plot that runs through all seven books in the series, and it comes from a decision that runs contrary to Snape’s characterization.
11 Snape Only Cared About Lily Because She Was Nice To Him
Most of the confusion surrounding Snape and Lily’s relationship really comes from the fact that Snape’s understanding of it was so skewed from the reality of the situation. His lack of self-awareness led him to believe he loved Lily, but his “love” didn’t come from their compatibility or shared interests, or even from chemistry.
Instead, his supposed love came about because Lily was the only person who would be nice to the strange boy. He continued loving her even after she stopped being nice to him merely out of habit, and his life-long fixation on their relationship is tragic only because it means that no one else in his life was nice to him ever again.
10 Snape’s Obsession Wasn’t Love
People talk about the relationship between Lily and Snape all of the time because Snape “loved” her. The only reason this article exists is because Snape “loved” Lily. All of his actions in the book were explained away as his “love” for her. His motivation never came from anywhere else, as he had no internal desire to bring Voldemort to justice or understand the errors of his ways. Instead, he was only focused on the memories of his love for and betrayal of Lily.
However, he never truly loved her. It’s been alluded to before, but obsession isn’t love. It’s unfortunate and slightly irresponsible that this was never addressed even slightly in the books, and concerning that so many fans don’t see that Snape’s love wasn’t healthy and wasn’t, at its core, actual love.
9 Snape Didn’t Sacrifice Himself For Lily Evans
The purveying belief that Snape passed away for Lily in an attempt to atone for his sins is logically incorrect and makes no sense. Snape passed away to lessen his guilt for a choice that he made that led to her demise.
One Bustle article rightfully characterizes Snape’s love as “self-serving, unwanted, and unrequited,” and Snape’s sacrifice wasn’t for Lily. Like his own selfish “love” for Lily, his sacrifice was a selfish act done for himself. His passing only overshadowed Lily’s hope and strength by making her demise all about him, one of many “racist men who abuse their power” and receive the world’s pity and apologies while their victims get nothing. Even Snape never truly understood what he was losing his life for.
8 Harry Is Alive Because of Snape’s Love For Lily
Everyone knows by now that Snape’s motivation in the books is his remorse for being the instigator behind the chain of events led to Lily’s demise, and the way he tries to redeem himself is by helping Harry survive. Snape’s desire to save Harry is actually redundant, however.
By arguing for Lily’s protection, Snape created the situation in which Lily was able to sacrifice herself for Harry, saving the infant’s life. Lily’s selfless act of love came from refusing to step aside for Voldemort, saving herself, and sacrificing her song. She stepped in the way of Voldemort’s curse, and that decision protected Harry from his inevitable demise. Voldemort would never have given Lily a chance to save herself without Snape’s interference, so Snape had already saved Harry in his infancy indirectly.
7 Snape Didn’t Want Anyone To Know About His Love For Lily… But He Alluded To It When He First Met Harry
The first question Snape asked Harry in potions class seemed like a random quiz intended to embarrass him: “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” A Tumblr user who somehow knows Victorian Flower Language discovered that asphodel is a lily that symbolizes demise and regret, and wormwood means absence and bitter sorrow.
If someone adds asphodel to wormwood, it would mean “I bitterly regret Lily’s passing.” This meaning was lost on the room of oblivious first years who probably didn’t even know what fennel was, let alone the intricacies of Victorian Flower Language. However, the characters he was really hiding the truth from, such as the Death Eaters (one of whom had a son in that very class) and other professors, easily could have the same niche language skills.
6 They Had The Same Patronus
A patronus reflects the user’s innermost soul. Lily’s was a doe, while her husband’s was a stag, a perfect companion to the doe. Harry’s was also a stag, reflecting his love for both of his parents and his enduring connection to them. Snape’s patronus was also a doe. This demonstrates the difference between James’ love for Lily and Snape’s.
James loved Lily and grew with her to become her perfect companion. If Snape loved Lily, he would have done the same. Instead, he was obsessed with her and his patronus became a monument to her loss. What gets even more confusing is the fact that Snape never had to use his patronus in front of Death Eaters who knew Lily and could have figured out his loyalty. Secondly, other characters in the Potterverse didn’t have patronuses that echoed their lost loved ones.
5 They Were Much Younger In The Books
Lily passed awya when she was 21, which meant that she became pregnant when she was around the age of 19. Snape was the same age as Lily, making him 31 at the start of the series and 38 when he passed away. This reframes all of the immediate mental shortcuts that fans take when thinking about the relationship timeline for Lily and Snape.
For example, Snape and Lily must have only been friends until they were sixteen years old at the latest, since they had been estranged for at least five years at the time of her demise. It’s bizarre that Snape didn’t try to do anything to repair that relationship during that time and was still obsessed with her to the extent that he would pick a fight with the seemingly all-powerful Voldemort.
4 Snape Was At The Potter Home In Godric’s Hollow
The first issue with this movie-only canonical addition is the timeline and motivation behind Snape’s appearance at the Potter home on the night of Lily’s passing. He could have been checking in, or he could have known she was gone and had to see for himself as a morose stage five clinger. He could even have intended to find Voldemort there, but at that point, it was all moot. Nothing he could have done there could erase his mistake.
Meanwhile, he left Harry crying in the crib alone. There was no shock on his face at finding the alive child, and Harry’s uncanny ocular resemblance to Lily apparently didn’t spur him to help the poor kid before everyone else got there. Also, speaking of the Order of the Pheonix, did he just happen to conveniently leave before they arrived? The timeline makes little sense, and Snape’s motivation makes little sense.
3 Why Was Snape Watching Lily In The First Place?
This one really needs an explanation. The books say that after watching Lily for some time, Snape realized that she had magical powers. The series even said that he would hide in her bushes to watch her, which begs the question: why on Earth was this child skulking around in her backyard? This is not normal behavior, even for a lonely kid with no social skills.
There are no details about why he started watching her in the first place, how she reacted when she realized that he was watching her, or how long he was just lurking and watching what seemed to be a random Muggle girl whom he had no idea would eventually develop powers. Why was no one concerned about this?
2 Snape Didn’t Realize The Prophecy Could Refer To Harry
There were only two children who could have been the subject of the prophecy that led to Lily’s demise. It’s been established that it’s very strange that Snape would be thoughtless and foolish enough to think that Voldemort wouldn’t possibly harm Lily in this situation. Snape was surprised when no one else was, and the fact that Voldemort even entertained the idea of sparing Lily is out of character for the Dark Lord.
Every aspect of that chain of events, from Snape telling Voldemort in the first place to this instance of every character involved having strange impulses to act outside of their clearly outlined personality, makes no sense. Snape’s massive oversight here is just yet another thing that doesn’t add up.
1 Snape’s Dream Job Was Being A Defense Against The Dark Arts Professor
Snape was obsessed with becoming the Defense Against The Dark Arts professor because he didn’t know that the position had been cursed. At first glance, of course, Snape would want to help students defend themselves from the thing that drew him into the darkness and ruined his life.
Considering his obsession with Lily, however, he should have wanted to become the Potions professor. Potions and the Slug Club were two of the things that kept him and Lily together and thing they truly shared. His desire for the DADA job doesn’t add up. If he was so obsessed with Lily, it makes sense that he would instead want to spend all of his time thinking of this hobby that they shared and reminiscing about the good times.
Are there any other things about Snape and Lily’s relationship in Harry Potter that don’t add up? Let us know in the comments!
Fan art by Frodobolson72, MarinaMichkina, and Ngaladel.