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The Prince's Tale

- Chapter 33

-- Severus Snape

DH33: The Prince’s Tale

Lord Voldemort tells his fighters to return to him. Voldemort asks Harry to meet him in the Forbidden Forest within the next hour or he will join the battle and kill everyone who tries to conceal Harry. While everyone goes to the Great Hall, to mourn the dead and treat the wounded, Harry heads towards Dumbledore’s office (He passes the bodies of Remus Lupin, Tonks and Fred Weasley as he goes). Using the Pensieve, Harry learns of his mother’s childhood friendship with Severus Snape. Harry sees that Snape’s worst memory is when Snape called Lily a mudblood. Snape later begged for her forgiveness, but Lily refuses realizing that they have chosen different paths. After Snape overhears the prophecy and tells Voldemort its contents, he realizes that Voldemort intends to kill Lily, James and their son. Snape begs Albus Dumbledore to protect Lily and says he will do anything in return. After Lily is murdered, Dumbledore tells Snape that he needs to help protect Lily’s son because Harry will be in great danger when Voldemort returns. Harry sees Dumbledore confide in Snape over the years. Harry finds out that Dumbledore had less than a year to live when he was murdered; Dumbledore had tried on the Resurrection Stone/Gaunt’s Ring which had a deadly curse on it. Dumbledore tells Snape he knows Voldemort has ordered Draco Malfoy to kill him, but Dumbledore asks Snape to be the one to do it. Then Dumbledore gives Snape a final order to fulfill. Dumbledore tells Snape that he will need to give information Harry when Voldemort keeps Nagini at his side. He tells Snape that when Voldemort killed Lily and James, a part of Voldemort’s soul split from rest and attached itself to Harry; As long as Harry lives, Voldemort cannot die. Snape is horrified by Dumbledore’s deception, saying he thought they were keeping Harry alive for Lily.

Calendar and Dates

The present day action of the chapter takes place on the same night as the action of the preceding chapter.

From the gravestone in Godric's Hollow, we know that Lily Evans Potter was born on 30 January 1960, so she would have gone to Hogwarts for the first time and been Sorted in September of 1971.

Interesting facts and notes

Snape looked no more than nine or ten years old

Since he was Sorted in the same year as Lily, and she was born in 1960, that would make this about 1969 or 1970.

the younger of the two girls

So Lily was younger than Petunia. Since Lily was born in January of 1960 (DH16), the latest possible date for Petunia's birth would be in the early months of 1959.

They live down Spinner's End by the river.

So the town in which the Evans family lived is the same in which Snape lived. On Pottermore, Rowling names this town as Cokeworth, the same town where the Dursley family spent a miserable night at the Railview Hotel, trying to escape the letters from Hogwarts.

Petunia, hiding behind a tree

So now we know where Petunia had heard of Azkaban and the dementors when she mentioned them just before Harry's fifth year, and it would seem that 'that awful boy' was not James Potter after all (OP2).

a thin, sallow-faced, sour-looking woman who greatly resembled him

This would be Eileen Prince Snape, Severus' mother.

"I saw his reply. It was very kind."

And this explains when and how Petunia had previously corresponded with Dumbledore - he was Headmaster by this time, then.

he couldn't believe a Muggle could have contacted Hogwarts, that's all! He says there must be wizards working undercover in the postal service who take care of -

Very interesting. Perhaps such wizards intercept correspondence with a Hogwarts address. Or perhaps Petunia managed to find out how to do this when her parents were contacted about her sister?

'"Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!" Like my dad.'

So Harry is a third-generation Gryffindor on his father's side.

Harry watched Lupin, Pettigrew, and his father join Lily and Sirius at the Gryffindor table.

So this settles it - Pettigrew was a Gryffindor who went bad.

Lucius Malfoy, a prefect badge gleaming on his chest

So Lucius would have been in his fifth, sixth, or seventh year at this point in order to be a prefect.

I detest Avery and Mulciber!

Igor Karkaroff was to name Mulciber as a Death Eater years later during his trial (GF30) while Avery was one of the Death Eaters who attended Voldemort's rebirthing party (GF33).

D'you know what he tried to do to Mary Macdonald the other day?

If this is the same Mary that Lily refers to later on, she seems to have been a Gryffindor (see below).

'I only came out because Mary told me you were threatening to sleep here.'

So Mary is another of the girls living in Gryffindor Tower, since Lily spoke to her before coming out.

Keep an eye on Quirrell, won't you?

So this conversation (since Harry is already a student) is taking place sometime during Harry's first year.

His right hand dangled over the side, blackened and burned.

So this conversation is taking place after the end of Harry's fifth year but before Dumbledore's visit to Privet Drive.

'Tempted by what?'

Dumbledore must have recognized it as the Resurrection Stone he had sought so long.

accidental victims of whatever schemes might occur to the boy

Such as Madam Rosmerta (placed under the Imperius Curse), Katie Bell (who almost died), Ron Weasley (likewise), and very nearly Horace Slughorn, not to mention everyone who fought the Death Eaters during the battle of the Tower.

Exceptional character moments

Petunia Evans, later Petunia Dursley, who wanted to go to Hogwarts and couldn't, and felt that Lily and her friend were spying on her and making fun of her.

Severus Snape and his enduring love for Lily.

Dumbledore and how he used Snape and Harry for the greater good.

Memorable lines

"Would you like me to do it now?" asked Snape, his voice heavy with irony. "Or would you like a few moments to compose an epitaph?"

"as surely as the Chudley Cannons will finish bottom of this year's league"

"Or dear Bellatrix, who likes to play with her food before she eats it."

"I prefer not to put all my secrets in one basket, particularly not a basket that spends so much time dangling on the arm of Lord Voldemort."

"So the boy ... the boy must die?"

"You have kept him alive so that he can die at right moment?"

"I have spied for you, and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter-"

From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: she landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office and soared out of the window. 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.

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced

DH 33 — The Prince's Tale
UK Edition DH33, pp. 659-690
US Edition DH33, pp. 529-553
Abbreviation DH33: The Prince's Tale
Canonicity Primary Canon


This chapter is an excellent display of J.K. Rowling's talents. Her ability to give so much meaning in one word is extraordinary. "Always" will forever hold an important place in the hearts of Harry Potter fans. "Always" sums up Snape's character; He has always loved Lily and after her dead, his action were always influenced by her memory.

In fact, "Always" pretty well sums up the entire series. Love will always prevail; Love is always stronger than hate; Evil will always be overcome. Harry will always fight to protect those he loves; Hermione and Ron will always be by his side. "Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it" and "Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." -- C.M.

Related images:

Snape and Lily by the Fat Lady portrait.            Harry pouring a memory into the pensieve. Tonks and Lupin lie dead in the Battle of Hogwarts. Fred Weasley dies. Harry by the pensieve. Dumbledore's hand after touching the horcrux ring. Lily Evans and Severus Snape.

Pensieve (Comments)

Tags: anger anguish answers betrayal blood bodies brave bravery choices cold culture (Wizard) dead emerald fear grief growing Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry hatred Hogwarts procedures horror jealousy loss love memories mercy mourning muggle-born play questions regret remorse rivalry shock spying trust used voice

Editors: and

The Harry Potter Canon