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Professor Severus Snape (9 January, 1960) was a half-blood wizard who was the son of the witch Eileen Snape (née Prince) and Muggle Tobias Snape. He attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a student from 1971-1978 and was sorted into Slytherin. He was also member of the Order of the Elementals and played a very important role in both of the Wizarding Wars against Lord Voldemort

Severus Snape was raised in the Muggle dwelling of Spinner's End, which was in close proximity to the home of the Evans family, though in a poorer area. He met Lily and Petunia Evans when he was nine, and fell deeply in love with Lily, becoming a close friend of hers. In 1971 he began his first term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he was Sorted into Slytherin House. This put him in the same year as his one love, Lily Evans, but unfortunately for him, in rival houses. Severus became the immediate enemy of James Potter and Sirius Black and was a frequent victim of their bullying. Snape developed a passion for the Dark Arts at a young age, which increased as his desire for revenge grew stronger. Snape became involved with the bullies in Slytherin House, many who were pure-blood supremacists. This put his friendship with Lily, a Muggle-born, under great strain, until it was eventually broken in their fifth year. In an attempt to win back Lily's affections, Snape joined the Death Eaters along with a group of his fellow Slytherins.

Severus was made a member of the Slug Club, presumably because of his brilliance at potion-making, and Horace Slughorn kept a picture of him as a student, clutching his copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Despite this, Horace did not have many hopes for Severus's future, as his photograph was kept behind many others.[1]

Shortly before Lily Evans was murdered by Lord Voldemort, Snape changed sides and became a member of the Order of the Elementals and double agent during the Second Wizarding War. With tremendous difficulty, Snape prevented Lord Voldemort from learning the truth about his loyalties. Despite the opinions of most others including Harry during his early life, Albus Dumbledore trusted Snape for reasons that were kept between them both until their deaths.


Childhood (1951-1962)

Lily Evans: "Doesn’t your dad like magic?"
Snape: "He doesn’t like anything, much."
— Severus and Lily discussing his family[src]

Severus Snape was born 9 January, 1951 to Eileen Prince, a pure-blood witch, and Tobias Snape, a Muggle, making him a half-blood wizard. Severus, whose father was neglectful and possibly even violent, began to identify with his mother's family and created a secret nickname from his mother's maiden name, calling himself "the Half-Blood Prince." His unhappy relationship with his father may have been the origin of his disdain for Muggles. It is implied that Severus was friendless and uncared for by his parents. This lack of care largely shaped Severus's bitter disposition and cruel behaviour later in his life.

Severus grew up at Spinner's End, a shabby suburb of Cokeworth. This area of town was near a dirty river and full of dilapidated houses, disused factories and broken down street lamps. Through the rest of his life, Severus continued to return there when he was not at school. The young Severus is depicted as being unwashed and wearing ill-fitting clothes "that were so mismatched that it looked deliberate". As a child, Severus was neglected and his parents often fought with one another. He could not wait to leave for Hogwarts at the end of the summer.

Lily Evans and her family lived in the same town, close to Spinner's End. After watching her for some time, Severus noticed her evident magical abilities and began making friendly overtures. The two bonded quickly and it appears that he was very interested in Lily right from the beginning, though she only regarded him as a good friend. During this time he also developed a contempt towards her older sister, Petunia. This was most likely because she made disparaging comments about his clothes and residence, but may also be because she was a Muggle.

Information from Severus's own memories of his first interactions with Lily and Petunia suggests that he was an awkward child with poor social skills. Even when it was important to him to make a good impression, he always seemed to have trouble doing so.

Hogwarts years (1962-1969)

James Potter: "'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad. Got a problem with that?"
Snape: "No. If you'd rather be brawny instead of brainy —"
Sirius Black: "Where are you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?"
James Potter, Snape, and Sirius Black on the Hogwarts Express[src]

Severus attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a student from 1962-1969, and was Sorted into Slytherin House, at that time led by Potions master Horace Slughorn. On the way to Hogwarts for his first year, Severus sat with Lily Evans on the train, where they met James Potter and Sirius Black. This hostile first encounter would set the tone for the antagonism between the three of them for the rest of his life.

According to Sirius, Severus excelled in the Dark Arts from an early age. At the age of eleven, he knew more curses and hexes than most of the seventh year students. He reportedly was friends with a gang of Slytherins who later became Death Eaters, including Avery and Mulciber. Severus was credited with creating a good number of popular spells like Levicorpus, Liberacorpus, Muffliato, and curses like Langlock, the Toenail Growth Hex, and his signature curse, Sectumsempra. Other Slytherins that Sirius mentioned as being friends with Severus included Evan Rosier and Wilkes. Severus also had contact with Lucius Malfoy, who was a prefect during his first year and greeted him kindly when he was Sorted into the Slytherin House. Most likely the two had good rapport at Hogwarts (which could also be a reason why Narcissa Malfoy trusted Severus to take care of Draco Malfoy and why he seemed to favour Draco during his later teaching years). Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew were also classmates of Severus.

James and his group of friends were constantly at war with Severus throughout their school years. Severus's memories, recorded in the Pensieve, suggest that he was an introverted and studious individual, whereas James was arrogant, popular, and athletic. Immediately upon meeting him, James disliked Severus for expressing a desire to be in Slytherin. James's big crush on Lily, and Severus's close friendship and unrequited love for her also heightened the tension between the two.

One recorded memory in the Pensieve bears witness to James bullying him, turning him upside-down to reveal his underwear in front of many students, including Lily. Lily came to Severus's defence, but this only made things worse: in a subsequent lashing out at James in an attempt to recover his lost dignity, Severus inadvertently called Lily a Mudblood. Lily refused to forgive him for it, even after his repeated apologies. This would forever be Severus's worst memory. It was seen by Harry whilst in the Pensieve.

Severus noticed that Remus kept disappearing during the full moon and once followed him past the Whomping Willow (after being tipped off on how to do so by Sirius Black) to confirm his suspicions. This act could have cost Severus his life or his humanity (he could have been turned into a werewolf by Remus's bite) if it had not been for James. When James found out what had happened, he went after Severus and managed to save him just before he got to the Shrieking Shack while Remus was in his wolf-form. Albus Dumbledore swore Severus to secrecy, but the true nature of Remus was clear to Severus. By their seventh year, James had grown out of his immaturity and arrogance to the point that Lily agreed to start dating him, even though he never grew out of his hatred for Severus — according to Sirius, Severus had always been a "special case" with James. Lily ended up marrying James, which only strengthened Severus's bitterness towards him.

Half-Blood Prince

"This book is property of the Half-Blood Prince."
Ginny Weasley reading the inside cover of the book[src]

Severus was a talented wizard even in childhood. It was apparent through the notes and scribbles in his potions textbook that he made time during classes to invent curses, charms, and clever potion innovations, while simultaneously learning the required textbook lessons.

Severus's potions textbook contained a few spells and curses which he was credited with inventing: Levicorpus, which grabbed the victim by the ankle and dangled them upside-down, and Sectumsempra, which caused slashing bloody cuts (guided by the wand gestures of the caster, like a blade/sword) which bled extensively. Levicorpus somehow escaped from Severus's secrecy, and became very popular around Hogwarts towards the end of his fifth year at school. Some other spells were Muffliato, which filled the ears of anyone nearby with an unidentifiable buzzing sound and another hex that caused toenails to grow at an unnaturally fast rate.

Magical abilities and skills

"Snape knew more curses when he arrived at Hogwarts than half the kids in seventh year."
Sirius Black describes Snape's proficiency for the Dark Arts[src]

Severus Snape was an extremely powerful and very knowledgeable wizard, showing proficient talent in many different areas of magic — he had an encyclopaedic knowledge and proficiency in potions, was incredibly talented in Legilimency and the only Death Eater capable of producing a Patronus Charm.

  • Flying: Severus was capable of unsupported flight. The only other known wizard that was able to do this was Lord Voldemort himself (who is likely to have passed down this skill to Snape personally). In 1997, he used this skill to escape from Hogwarts after his duel with Minerva McGonagall.
  • Love: Severus was one of the only people in Voldemort's inner circle who was capable of feeling unconditional love. He fell in love with Lily Evans as a child and maintained his devotion until his death. Despite their differences in beliefs about many things, Severus felt nothing but absolute love for Lily even though she never extended her reciprocity beyond friendship. Snape was devastated by Lily's death and spent seventeen years in constant danger in order to protect Lily's son and ensure that her sacrifice was not in vain. Indeed, Snape's Patronus was a doe, just like Lily's, showing that his love for her was far stronger than his loyalty to Lord Voldemort. Snape was the only Death Eater who was able to cast a Patronus.
  • Dark Arts: Severus had a passion for the Dark Arts from a young age, and was especially talented with curses, or so some believed. According to Sirius Black, Snape was "up to his eyeballs in the Dark Arts" when he was at school. However, they had an age old rivalry which could have influenced Sirius's words. During his schooldays, he invented numerous spells, mostly curses, hexes, and jinxes. It is unknown if he was aware of the existence of Horcruxes or Voldemort's employment of them as he never mentions them.
  • Potioneer: Severus was extremely adept at potion-making and worked as the Potions Master at Hogwarts for about 15 years. His prowess at potion-making extended beyond simple execution from recipes. When he was still only a student, he would alter official instructions with his own variations, which usually resulted in quicker and more efficient results. He was capable of brewing highly complicated potions such as Veritaserum and the Wolfsbane Potion. Snape was also able to identify Polyjuice Potion by smell and produce fake Veritaserum that seemed real enough to fool Dolores Umbridge.
  • Occlumency and Legilimency: Snape's unerring ability to conceal his thoughts and feelings from external penetration proved to be crucial for him. For seventeen years, he managed to hide facts from Lord Voldemort such as his remorse for Lily Evans's death and his secret alliance with Albus Dumbledore; it was his mastery of hiding his mind that made both sides distrust him. Snape was also skilled at Legilimency; Harry Potter often felt as if Snape had the ability to read minds even before learning what the art was. Snape used Legilimency on Harry constantly while attempting to teach him Occlumency in their private lessons. Since Voldemort was considered history's greatest legilimens and was unable to ever read Snape's mind, despite being in the same room with him on many occasions, Snape could be history's greatest occlumens.
  • Transfiguration: Severus was skilled in Transfiguration, being able to conjure objects and animals, and Transfigure elements into other objects with apparent ease. He could also vanish objects as seen when he vanished Harry Potter's Draught of Peace potion in 1995[2]
  • Charms: Snape could use charms without fail, such as levitation, disarming, shields, vanish potions, the incredibly difficult Patronus Charm, and he was able to write instructions on a blackboard with a single flick of his wand.
  • Duelling: Although he rarely appeared in any known duels Snape was shown to be a very capable duellist. He was able to block the spells being fired at him by the extremely powerful witch Minerva McGonagall (who was capable of duelling Voldemort along with Kingsley and Slughorn) during their brief duel, though was forced to flee by the arrival of the other Heads of House. He assisted in a duelling club in 1992 with Gilderoy Lockhart, defeating him with a single spell, though, as Lockhart was an unskilled wizard, this was not such a great achievement. Snape also easily blocked all of Harry Potter's hexes during his escape from the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, using Legilimency to read Harry's attempted moves and countered them all before they could be cast. Severus participated in the Battle of the Seven Potters, joining the Death Eaters's side (though secretly attempted to protect the Order). Contrary to the vicious duelling styles of other Death Eaters, Snape preferred using defensive spells and only used aggressive magic when facing a weak opponent, such as Lockhart, or when his foe grew frustrated and started making mistakes.
  • Spell creation: As a student at Hogwarts, Severus was very inventive with new spells. Some of the spells he created were Sectumsempra, healing spell Vulnera Sanentur, Langlock, Muffliato, the non-verbal Levicorpus and its counter-curse, Liberacorpus. The last two somehow became common knowledge around the school. It is unknown what thoughts and techniques Snape put into his creations.
"BANG! Thin, snakelike cords brust from the end of Snape's wand and twisted themselves around Lupin's mouth, wrists, and ankles"
—Snape conjures ropes non-verbally[src]
  • Non-verbal and wandless magic: Snape was skilled at using non-verbal spells, from the most basic uses (such as instruction-writing on blackboards and cleanups) to the most advanced (such as combat curses). Snape was also skilled at performing wandless magic, such as rope conjuring, counter-jinxing and memory extraction. (Although memory extraction does not require explicitly the use of a wand, relying instead on direct eye contact, conjuring and counter-jinxing are more often depicted to take place with the help of a wand.)
  • Logical thinking: Snape's logic and deductive reasoning skills were such that he helped protect the Sorcerer's Stone by creating an obstacle, which was based on logic rather than magical skill. According to Hermione Granger many powerful wizards have a blind spot in regards to logic.
  • Flying/Quidditch: As well as being capable of unsupported flight in his later days, Snape was at least an able flier on a broomstick, and sure enough in the rules of Quidditch to take over the position of referee at least once. However, in one of Snape's memories, Lily was laughing as he attempted to mount a bucking broomstick, so perhaps he wasn't always a good flier. He likely tried to acquire this skill in his youth in an attempt to impress Lily and to out-do his rival, James Potter.
  • Poetry: A skill that Snape possessed but did not make very much mention or display of, Snape was capable of fluidly crafting his words in a way that could often befuddle the reader. His only known composition was the logic puzzle that he used as part of his defences of the Philosopher's Stone. Since this poem showed Snape's logical thinking, it was obviously one of his own creation. Snape's other possible works, if they exists, remain unknown.
Order of the Elementals
Albus Dumbledore
Douwe Posthuma
Commanders of the Order of of the Elementals:
Carole Dunbar | Garrett Douglas | Joshua Dunbar | Severus Snape
Important members of the Order of the Elementals:
Finn Hudson | Brody Hudson | Patrick Dunbar | Liam Dunbar
Original members of the Order of the Elementals:
Alastor Moody | Amir Haddad | Andy Payne | Brett Talbot | Chris Martin | Derek Hale | Dobby | Gabe Howell | Hugo Howell | Jack Dawson | James Corden | Jerry Russo | Justin Russo | Lise Howell | Melissa McCall | Minerva McGonagall | Nate Kulina | Oliver Tate | Pomona Sprout | Quinn Fabray | Reggie Mantle | Rose Dewitt Bukater | Stefani Germanotta | Sue Sylvester | Tristan Milton | Vanessa Hudgens | Whitney Houston | Zac Efron
Order of the Elementals allies:
Hudbar's Army | Hogwart's staff | Archie Andrews | Carl Howell | Cedric Diggory | Drogon | Filius Flitwick | Firenze | Garrick Ollivander | Grawp | Hannah Abbott | Helena Ravenclaw | Horace Slughorn | Jackson Whittemore | Kreacher | Lee Jordan | Luna Lovegood | Mr. Westenberg | Mrs. Westenberg | Misha | Muriel | Nearly-Headless Nick | Neville Longbottom | Oliver Wood | Olympe Maxime | Sybill Trelawney | Ted Tonks | Theo Raeken | The Fallen Fifty | Viktor Krum | Winky
Other affiliations:
Forbidden Forest Centaur colony | Dunbar family | Headless Hunt | Hogwarts Hippogriff herd | Hogwarts house-elves | Hogwarts | Hudson family | Ghosts | Hogwarts Staff |
Hogwarts students | Hogwarts Thestral herd | Ministry of Magic | Giant colony (Karkus's control)
  1. Mentioned on the Half-Blood Prince script released on the Warner Bros. Awards website
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix