Last October, I received an OWL, and I was beyond excited to open it. I don’t often receive mail, but when I do, it was usually from Bill and all he wanted was money. Sometimes Billie would send me mail too; but she would want more money than Bill. Then there’s Junk; don’t get me started on Junk.
Anyways, I most certainly had never received an OWL before.
“You’re a wizard, Cecil!” I’d been invited to Hogwarts by none other than Minerva McGonagall. I was over the moon and wishing I had a Nimbus 2000.
I sent the headmistress of Hogwarts a text (wizardry is quite verse in technology these days in addition to magic; and Hedwig was busy), to which she replied…
“Congrats! It’s a big day in every wizard’s life.” And so, a party was being thrown.
Her parties are epic, so much so that in fact, Professor Snape tweeted a picture of the cake, stating that it was “amazing”.
If you have never read the Harry Potter books, stop right now. Spoilers. If you have, or have no intention of reading them (a big mistake in my estimation in which case I urge you to pick up the books and watch the movies), read on.
** SPOILERS **
Unquestionably my favourite original series I have ever read, the Harry Potter books and movies are nothing short of brilliant. Over 4,000 pages of text (in the UK version), they are filled with colourful and dynamic and courageous and both heroically good and despicably evil characters. While Harry is most certainly the most heroic, the “Chosen One”, for me personally as I turned each page, the two people I found myself rooting for the most was Snape and Neville, who goes from bumbling idiot to heroic warrior. Through the majority of the series, we never really knew whether Snape allied himself on the side of good or evil.
Professor Snape (and Hans Gruber, the villain of one of my favourite Christmas movies – Die Hard) passed away earlier this year. Whereas so many of the other characters – especially Dumbledore – have many profound quotes attached to them, off the top of my head, I cannot think of a single line Snape spoke in the books that moved me. However, watching Alan Rickman onscreen slowly enunciating Snape’s lines mesmerized me and audiences alike.
I had this feeling Snape was more than who he was (and I thought was pretending to be). Watching the movies as they were released over the years only supported that, as the iconic Rickman played Snape onscreen. He played the character with such unbelievable restraint; viewers knew there was so much going on underneath his skin, behind his words, in what was one of the most nuanced performances in any movie by any actor ever. Snape was a different kind of a hero, holding Dumbledore to his “word, Severus, I shall never reveal the best of you”. No one could have brought Snape to life better. Rickman was Snape.
Ten years would pass from the first movie to the last before what many of us were hoping, that aside from Harry, Snape was revealed to be a hero of epic proportions. And even when we knew it was coming, the reveal of Snape’s heroism still moved me to tears. This brilliant, heroic wizard, on the outside loathing Harry (because he truly did detest his father), in turn detested by everyone around him, actually grew to love Harry, protecting him his entire life (because he truly did love his mother). When Snape said one last time to Harry before his dying breath, “You have your mother’s eyes”, there was not a dry-eye in the house. And no one could have pulled it off the way Rickman did. To this day, it gets me. Every. Single. Time.
Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Snape’s Patronus (“a guardian which generally takes the shape of the animal with whom they share the deepest affinity”) was a doe, the same as Lilly Potter, Harry’s mother. As a boy, Harry could never have known or appreciated the extent of Snape’s heroism. As an adult, however, we would find out the extent of his gratitude, naming his son after the wizard.
“Albus Severus,” Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.” — J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Watching Snape’s story in chronological order, I get a tear every time.
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ALWAYS BE EPIC.