*Written prior to The Deathly Hallows. The reference to the Newsletter, I believe, if I remember correctly was one on MuggleNet. Also, I have not maintained the LiveJournal, and do not know if it is still active, even though it was mine, so the link to it might not work, but this ‘story’ was written concerning my views into the character of Severus Snape.
Professor Severus Snape is indeed an enigma of what one could call, ‘mass proportion’. He is indeed a Death Eater, that much is clear by his attitudes toward most as well as the things he has done.
However, I must say that JK Rowling has left us with quite a puzzle. Is Snape good, or is he evil? This question could probably be debated far into the future, even after book seven comes out, revealing all.
Severus has done both deeds of good, and deeds of evil. Personally, I think he is just misguided. We know next to nothing of his childhood, save what we learned of his mother in HBP, and his experiences at Hogwarts as a student as previously stated by Elawyn in Snape has a Purpose! from the August newsletter.
We do not know what Snape’s mother raised him to believe in. If I remember correctly, his father abandoned or abused them, so there is no telling how such treatment would effect the beliefs of his mother, and those that she instilled in him. Perhaps she encouraged him to join Voldemort.
Also, it has been mentioned that it was the way Snape was treated in school, that pushed him to seek acceptance and belonging. Voldemort may have despised his Muggle background, as Snape possibly could have. However, they were the same. Both had Muggle fathers, and witches for mothers. This could be why Snape is part of Voldemort’s inner circle.
We also have to remember however, that the test for his loyalty was to obtain the position of DADA teacher in order to recruit more Death Eaters, and upon over hearing Trelawney’s prophesy - or rather, part of it, returned to report his findings to Voldemort.
Another thing that we must remember is that James saved his life, thus he owed him a Wizard’s Debit. He could have hated James for this for more than one reason. Some possibilities are: Severus thought that James was in on the ‘joke’ as well. He was angry for being indebted to someone that was so rotten to him, like a slave; OR, that he did not believe Voldemort would actually kill James and Lily, and blamed himself for their deaths, hating the fact that James died before he had repaid his debit.
I cannot post it here, because it is a adult fic, but I am currently working on a piece that looks at this last possibility. If you are of age, and wish to read it, it will soon be posted to my Live Journal, . I believe that this last possibility could have driven him back to Dumbledore, seeking help. Also, because it was Voldemort’s desire to attempt to procure followers, or weaken the defenses of the Light through the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, he denied Snape the position as a precaution. He could have trusted Snape like he told Harry, but he also could have still had his doubts, or known that Voldemort could possess people, and thought it best to place Snape at another post in either case.
In all of this, if Severus was indeed remorseful concerning the deaths of James and Lily, he could have taken it upon himself to look out for Harry while Dumbledore coerced him into spying. He would then be forced to act like a right bastard to Harry once he was sorted into a house other than Slytherin, in order to protect his cover.
There is of course one final thing that we haven’t looked at... and that would be the Poly-Juice Potion... do we really know that it was Snape who killed Dumbledore? I say not. The Poly-Juice Potion is supposed to be this big, bad, evil potion - why have we only seen its use twice, once in Goblet of Fire with Barty Crouch, and once in Chamber of Secrets with Ron and Harry trying to discern who the Heir of Slytherin was. I just find it odd that we have only see two instances where this potion is used when Voldemort has a Potions Master at his disposal, and could possibly already suspect him as a spy, or is merely using him for his own, personal gain.... Not at all unlikely in my opinion.
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