The Sacking of Severus Snape

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Chapter 30 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Sacking of Severus Snape← Chapter 29 | Chapter 31 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Pain explodes in Harry's scar, and he finds himself on a rocky outcrop under a cliff. Good, he thinks, they have the boy. A loud crack brings Harry back to himself as Luna stuns Alecto Carrow. The noise awakens the Ravenclaw students, and Harry dives back under the Invisibility Cloak with Luna. Students begin milling about, frightened by finding the unconscious teacher on the floor. Outside, in the hall, Amycus, is frantically calling for Alecto, worried that the Dark Lord has been summoned without Harry Potter having been captured. Amycus is heard ordering Professor McGonagall to open the door. Inside the common room, they find the unconscious Alecto. McGonagall is surprised that Harry Potter may be there and that the Dark Lord suspects he might attempt to break into Ravenclaw Tower. Amycus, fearing Voldemort's wrath if Harry escapes, says he will pass off the alert as a school prank and punish a few students. When McGonagall objects, Amycus threatens her. Harry steps out and slams him with a Cruciatus curse, lifting Amycus' writhing body into the air and crashing it through a bookcase. Harry understands now what Bellatrix Lestrange had meant when she once said a person must actually mean it for an Unforgivable Curse to work. An astonished McGonagall thanks Harry for his gallant effort but urges him to flee the castle quickly. He refuses, saying there is something he must do. He asks about the Diadem, but McGonagall says it has been lost for centuries. Harry is stymied; the Diadem was his most likely candidate for the final Horcrux, and nobody knows where it is. Amycus stirs, and McGonagall casts a binding spell on him and his still unconscious sister. Voldemort's rage overtakes Harry—the Dark Lord has discovered the Locket is missing from the sea cave. Returning to himself, Harry updates Professor McGonagall and says he must find something hidden in Hogwarts before Voldemort and his forces arrive. McGonagall replies that she and the staff will defend the castle for as long as possible while Harry searches. Harry tells McGonagall that students can be evacuated through the tunnel to the Hog's Head Inn. Voldemort will only be concentrating on Hogwarts, not Disapparating students in Hogsmeade village.

Harry and Luna hide under the Invisibility Cloak as McGonagall casts three cat Patronuses to summon the other Heads of House. They run into Snape in the hall. He continually darts his eyes about, perhaps detecting Harry there. When asked what she is doing there, McGonagall claims she heard a disturbance. She is evasive when asked about Harry, then slashes her wand. Snape, quicker, deflects her charm. They duel fiercely, magic so quick Harry has never seen the like. Professor Flitwick and Sprout come running to McGonagall's aid with a huffing Slughorn lagging behind. Outnumbered, Snape dashes into a deserted classroom where a loud crash is heard. Pursuing, McGonagall screams, "Coward!" Uncloaked, Harry and Luna rush inside, startling the other professors. Snape has leaped out the window. Harry thinks he must be dead, but McGonagall bitterly comments that, unlike Dumbledore, Snape had a wand and has learned a few tricks from "You-Know-Who". Harry sees a large, bat-like figure soaring across the school grounds. Slughorn finally enters, and McGonagall informs him that Snape is taking a "leave of absence." Harry slides into Voldemort's mind again and sees an Inferi-filled lake. Voldemort leaps from the boat in a murderous rage — he is headed for Hogwarts.

McGonagall orders students to be sent to the Great Hall, then tells Slughorn the time has come for Slytherin to choose sides. The professors set defensive charms and spells around Hogwarts, though they cannot fend off Voldemort indefinitely. Harry asks Flitwick if he might know where Ravenclaw's Diadem is, but Flitwick says no one in living memory has seen it. McGonagall enchants the school's statues and suits of armour to help defend the castle and orders Filch, who is ranting about students being out of bed, to summon Peeves the Poltergeist.

When Harry and Luna return to the Room of Requirement, Harry is shocked and dismayed that even more people have arrived, including Lupin, Shacklebolt, Oliver Wood, Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, Bill and Fleur, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Fred alerted Dumbledore's Army, and they in turn summoned the Order of the Phoenix. As younger students are being evacuated, Ginny, who wants to fight, is arguing with her parents to stay. Percy suddenly arrives and loudly apologizes to his family for being a deluded idiot and Ministry pawn; the Weasleys immediately forgive him. Looking around, Harry wonders where Ron and Hermione are. Ginny, who has been ordered to remain inside the room during the battle, says they are attending to something having to do with a bathroom, leaving Harry puzzled. His scar sears again, and he is gazing at Hogwarts through huge iron gates. Nagini is draped around his shoulders. Voldemort has arrived.

Analysis[edit]

As the story reaches a critical stage, time is running out; Harry is desperate to find the Ravenclaw Horcrux, and Hufflepuff's Cup must still be destroyed, though Harry still has no idea how to eliminate either Horcrux. Ron and Hermione, however, may have some idea regarding this, which might explain their sudden and mysterious absence. Voldemort and his forces will soon arrive at the castle, and Harry is at a loss as to where to search or if the Diadem is even the actual Horcrux. The final Horcrux being hidden at Hogwarts is fortuitous; it is a place Harry knows better than anywhere else, and at least as well as Voldemort does. Probably only Dumbledore and the Weasley twins know it better. This homecoming also infuses Harry with a much needed boost of strength and confidence that a less familiar locale would be unable to provide. And though Harry has no idea where the Diadem might be hidden, if it is at Hogwarts, his knowing many castle secrets will help narrow the search. Also, Harry's return not only puts him in a familiar and comforting setting, but it reconnects his alliances with old friends and other supporters, who immediately flock to Hogwarts upon hearing he has arrived. If Harry is to succeed, he must rely on everyone's help. We see, however, Harry's dismay when the Order of the Phoenix arrives; again, he feels that he is endangering his friends, unable to see that they are at risk in any event. Harry fails to realize that he has little responsibility or control for his friends' arrival, merely being the banner which people choose to follow. This is their battle as much as it is his.

Although Harry has used the Cruciatus curse before, this is the first time it has worked effectively for him. He recalls Bellatrix Lestrange once telling him that the conjurer must actually mean it in order for an Unforgivable curse to work properly, that righteous indignation is not enough. Previously, Harry only halfheartedly cast the Cruciatus curse (on Bellatrix Lestrange), unwilling to inflict pain and suffering on anyone, even a hated enemy. Now, however, Harry uses it to protect someone he cares about. And considering its effect on Amycus Carrow, this time, Harry obviously meant it.

Knowing Snape's skill at Legilimency, it is hardly surprising that he seems to be looking around for Harry. Snape likely perceived Harry's presence under the Invisibility Cloak. This skill likewise may be helping him deflect the magic McGonagall is throwing at him, though it is equally possible that McGonagall, knowing his ability, is using Occlumency, as much as she is able to, to block Snape's probes. We have no way of knowing how skilled McGonagall is in this particular branch of magic.

Some readers, sharing the Twins' views, may have felt that the Weasley family was better off with Percy having chosen his own course; others, echoing Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, may have been dismayed at his estrangement. Most will, however, be pleased by his reunion with his family, particularly since he seems to have acknowledged Fred's pungent analysis regarding his recent behavior. The reunion's timing is probably chosen to avoid the heartbreaking spectacle of brother fighting brother, while retaining the suspense surrounding Percy's having inadvertently chosen the Dark side heightened to the last possible moment. Percy's estrangement was a minor side plot, but it clearly needed resolution before the family was completely torn apart, and this seems an appropriate way to resolve it.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Review[edit]

  1. Why would McGonagall engage Snape in a duel rather than merely saying she does not know where Harry is? Could she have defeated him without help from the other professors?
  2. Why is Voldemort in a murderous rage? Where is he when Harry "sees" him?
  3. Why is Harry now unsure that Ravenclaw's diadem is the Horcrux? Is there any evidence that another Ravenclaw artifact exists?
  4. What does McGonagall mean when she tells Slughorn it is time for Slytherin to choose sides? Do they?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why is this the first time the Cruciatus curse has worked effectively for Harry?
  2. What caused Percy's turnaround? Why did it take him so long?
  3. Which bathroom might Hermione and Ron have gone to? What task could have sent them there?
  4. How could so many Dumbledore's Army, Order of the Phoenix, and former Hogwarts students be able to enter Hogsmeade village without being detected by Death Eaters and the Dementors?
  5. How are the Hogwarts students to be evacuated by disapparating from the Hog's Head when it was stipulated two chapters earlier that disapparition from the town is impossible?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

The bathroom Ginny Weasley is referring to is actually Moaning Myrtle's lavatory, which readers should remember contains the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and that only someone speaking Parseltongue can open. It is unknown yet why Ron and Hermione would have gone there, or if they could open the Chamber, but this will play a significant role in the next chapter.

Snape's behavior when questioning McGonagall in the hallway, as discussed above, strongly indicates that he knows Harry is nearby, hidden under his Invisibility Cloak. Snape, of course, should be able to detect Harry using Legilimency. It is still unknown, however, that Snape is Dumbledore's secret ally, and he would do nothing to interfere with Harry's mission. In light of this, it is probable that during his and McGonagall's fierce duel, even though both are powerful wizards and skilled duelists, and McGonagall would probably kill him if she could, Snape is defending himself while doing nothing that would harm her or Harry, finally fleeing before the encounter turns deadly.

Professor Flitwick's comment that no one in living memory has seen Ravenclaw's Diadem will prove to be untrue, as it has actually been seen quite recently, though without either we or the person holding it knowing what it was at the time. However, Flitwick's words will act as a useful trigger for Harry, setting a train of thought in motion that results in Harry finding the Diadem.

A very interesting point is touched on by one editor: how can the students Disapparate from Hogsmeade? For that matter, how can Dumbledore's Army members Apparate in, as they have been doing? Aberforth has said that Harry, Ron, and Hermione should wait until dawn, and then Apparate away and hide in the mountains. While he never explicitly says so, he strongly implies that Apparating out of Hogsmeade is impossible. In this case, perhaps, Harry may simply have made a lucky assumption. Clearly it is possible to Apparate into Hogsmeade, as he has done so. Perhaps he simply assumed that it would be similarly possible to Apparate out, and missed Aberforth saying that it could not be done. As the author never tells us, we can only speculate; but it is possible that when the evacuation starts, Voldemort has already lifted the anti-Apparition spells on Hogsmeade to allow his troops free movement. If so, this is a major stroke of luck for the Hogwarts forces; they would have been unable to evacuate the non-combatants otherwise. Also, just as Voldemort and his forces are able to eventually penetrate Hogwarts' defenses, it may be possible that with sufficient numbers, and the need for concealment no longer in force, the Order of the Phoenix is able to break Voldemort's protective spells.

A similar question that arises is, what about those students who are still unable to Apparate? There are wizards, we are told, who never Apparate, despite being fully grown or qualified, because of the Splinching risk. So quite possibly, in order to accommodate those Death Eaters who were unwilling or unable to Apparate, Voldemort might also have released any restrictions on the Floo Network. This, then, could be used in conjunction with side-along Apparition, and possibly emergency Portkeys delivered to the evacuation site to transport students.