Battle of Hogwarts – 15th Anniversary

On May 2, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts was fought. Each year, Expecto Patronum! honors all the brave men, women, Headmaster portraits, and magical creatures who helped in the fight against Lord Voldemort for the future of the Wizarding World, especially:

  • Harry Potter – who personally faced Lord Voldemort twice that night… and prevailed
  • Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger – who stood beside Harry throughout his Quest and provided much-needed support during the Battle
  • Luna Lovegood – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and helping Harry into Ravenclaw Tower
  • Neville Longbottom – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and slaying Nagini
  • Ginny Weasley – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and giving Harry inspiration
  • The Portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black – for locating Harry in the Forest of Dean
  • Severus Snape – for getting the Sword of Gryffindor to Harry in the Forest of Dean and for using his dying moments to offer the memories that would help Harry to defeat Lord Voldemort
  • The Portrait of Albus Dumbledore – for providing much-needed guidance to Headmaster Snape
  • Aberforth Dumbledore – for helping Harry, the Order, the DA, and many others get in to Hogwarts from the Hog’s Head and for then fighting in the Battle alongside many other citizens of Hogsmeade
  • The Members of the DA, the Order, the Gryffindor alumni, the Slytherins who returned with Slughorn, and the citizens of Hogsmeade – for standing up to fight
  • The Magical Creatures who fought – particularly Kreacher and the House Elves, the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest, and Grawp
  • Minerva McGonnagall, Horace Slughorn, Filius Flitwick – for leadership during the Battle and for directly battling Voldemort
  • Molly Weasley – for destroying Bellatrix Lestrange
  • Hagrid – for being true of heart
  • Peeves and Trelawney – for their unique contributions

And now, we’d like to honor the fallen heroes:

Severus Snape


Credit: Look… at… me by ~FabiolaCapo

Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks


Credit: Remus x Tonks: Pale and Still by ~Kitoky

Fred Weasley


Credit: the death of Fred by *viria13

Plus Colin Creevey and the 50 or more unnamed dead.

Thank you!


We are celebrating the 15th Anniversary with new fanart. If you have any Battle of Hogwarts fanart that you particularly like, you are encouraged to share it in the Comments thread!

Battle of Hogwarts – 14th Anniversary

On May 2, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts was fought. Each year, Expecto Patronum! honors all the brave men, women, Headmaster portraits, and magical creatures who helped in the fight against Lord Voldemort for the future of the Wizarding World, especially:

  • Harry Potter – who personally faced Lord Voldemort twice that night… and prevailed
  • Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger – who stood beside Harry throughout his Quest and provided much-needed support during the Battle
  • Luna Lovegood – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and helping Harry into Ravenclaw Tower
  • Neville Longbottom – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and slaying Nagini
  • Ginny Weasley – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and giving Harry inspiration
  • The Portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black – for locating Harry in the Forest of Dean
  • Severus Snape – for getting the Sword of Gryffindor to Harry in the Forest of Dean and for using his dying moments to offer the memories that would help Harry to defeat Lord Voldemort
  • The Portrait of Albus Dumbledore – for providing much-needed guidance to Headmaster Snape
  • Aberforth Dumbledore – for helping Harry, the Order, the DA, and many others get in to Hogwarts from the Hog’s Head and for then fighting in the Battle alongside many other citizens of Hogsmeade
  • The Members of the DA, the Order, the Gryffindor alumni, the Slytherins who returned with Slughorn, and the citizens of Hogsmeade – for standing up to fight
  • The Magical Creatures who fought – particularly Kreacher and the House Elves, the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest, and Grawp
  • Minerva McGonnagall, Horace Slughorn, Filius Flitwick – for leadership during the Battle and for directly battling Voldemort
  • Molly Weasley – for destroying Bellatrix Lestrange
  • Hagrid – for being true of heart
  • Peeves and Trelawney – for their unique contributions

And now, we’d like to honor the fallen heroes:

Severus Snape


Credit: DH: Look at Me by FrizzyHermione

Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks


Credit: SPOILERS_Lupin + Tonks Ending? by ~endoftheline

Fred Weasley

Weasleys mourn Fred's death
Credit: Fredless by ~balmasque

Plus Colin Creevey and the 50 or more unnamed dead.

Thank you!


Still Waiting for Pottermore? – Here’s More DH2

I’ve got about 40 minutes until my potion finishes brewing, so… okay, where were we before I got sucked into Pottermore? As I recall, we were discussing DH2. And I still had a few things left to say.

For me, the movie “worked” all the way up until the final battle with Voldemort. Thankfully, it had worked in a big way to that point from the moody opening, with Snape on the balcony and Harry at Shell Cottage, through the tense conversation with Aberforth, through the the look of heartbreak on Snape’s face when he realizes he must duel McGonnagall (not to mention his quick-thinking in taking out the Carrows and leaving Hogwarts to McGonnagall), all the way through the Battle of Hogwarts, the Pensieve memories, and King’s Cross.

I cried when Hermione blasted Fenrir off the dead body of Lavender Brown, her former rival for Ron’s affections. I cried when Aberforth announced his return to the fight by casting a powerful Patronus. I wept, like everyone else, over the fallen heroes in the Great Hall… and then over Snape’s memories in the Pensieve and Harry’s walk into the Forest.

The first three times I saw the film, though, I did not cry over Snape’s death. I just sat there with my mouth hanging wide open, hyperventilating. Curiously, a few friends who do not like Snape did find themselves crying… and then hated themselves afterward. LOL.

On the fourth viewing, I finally did cry. I think maybe it was because the theater was nearly empty. Snape is the character who resonates most with me, and so his death is the one that is most personal to me. I think I probably just needed some time alone in order to really let loose. And when I finally did, I cried so hard that my eyes were burning with the salt of my tears!

But enough of Snape for now, what I really want to talk about is the big VoldyBattle.

I suppose that any moviegoer would prefer a running-around-the-castle-Wizard Battle over a Harry talk-a-thon. BUT the problem with the sequence for me is that it creates the misperception that Harry could actually match Voldemort in power and skill. I mean… Srsly?

In the book, Harry wins because he understands the situation (the Elder Wand belongs to him) and because he sacrificed his life in the Forest to kill the scarcrux… not because he’s more powerful or more skilled than his antagonist. As a consequence of Harry’s sacrifice, Voldemort really can be killed. All it takes is for Harry to cast a disarming charm at the same moment that Voldemort casts a killing curse. The Elder Wand will do the rest.

Now, none of this is to downplay the significance of what Harry has done. In going into the Forest, he becomes a truly great man, a sacrificial figure, a young man willing to lay down his life in order that the Wizarding World might live. That, imo, is of far more significance than wizarding power or skill.

But the film plays up power and skill – matters in which Harry cannot begin to match Voldemort – and downplays the sacrificial significance of Harry’s walk into the Forest. Though I understand some of these choices from a cinematic standpoint, this is one matter in which I think the film does the book a disservice.

The point is not that Harry wins because he has power. The point is that he wins because he has love.

Well, my potion has finished brewing, and I was supposed to get House points, but the system logged me out, and I didn’t get the points.

(Funny how I never fail to lose points when I melt a cauldron but never seem to gain points when I successfully complete a potion. Argggggg. There’s Beta for you!)

Anyway, I’ve finally said everything I have to say about DH2. So next stop for those waiting is to start in on the Random Re-read. First chapter up is the first chapter in PoA: “Owl Post.” Should be fun!

Waiting for Pottermore DH2: choices, choices, choices

Note: While we wait for the Pottermore email, we continue our discussion of the DH2 movie…

But first… you need to know about the most deeply horrible, astonishingly EVOL poll in the history of humankind:

It’s the Anglophenia Fan Favorites poll, in which we are given the choice of voting between Alan Rickman and Benedict Cumberbatch or between Colin Firth and David Tennant.

In fandom terms, that translates:

Professor Snape (or Colonel Brandon/Alexander Dane/Hans Gruber/ Sheriff of Nottingham) VS. Sherlock Holmes.

and…

Mr. Darcy VS. Barty Crouch, Jr. / The Tenth Doctor

Yikes! Those are choices that really hurt – probably at least as much as the choices the filmmakers had to face in translating the second half of Deathly Hallows to the screen.

Choices that hurt

Let’s say you’re doing a book that fans are passionate about. There are moments that fans have been dying to see…

Fred’s death, for example. Or Snape’s loss of Lily’s friendship. Or Dumbledore’s backstory. Or Snape saving Lupin’s life and telling the portrait not to say “Mudblood.” Or Harry taunting Voldemort with Snape’s true loyalties and giving Riddle one last chance at remorse.

But you’ve got this other audience to account for… the audience that never reads the books and only sees the movies and that could care less about the intricacies of wandlore.

How do you make a movie that gives the book-fans enough of what they want to see and is still comprehensible for the movie-only fans? That’s the dilemma that the filmmakers were faced with. And they left every single one of those “dying-to see” moments out… yet managed to leave most fans feeling satisfied.

Let’s talk about a few of those choices…

The Mudblood Incident

One of the key complaints I’ve heard from one small corner of the fandom is that the film’s portrayal of “The Prince’s Tale” makes Severus Snape look like an innocent victim by failing to present the “Mudblood” incident or its aftermath.

Okay, I personally wanted to see this material on the big screen, but after giving it some thought, I realized that it presents a devil’s snare of potential difficulties. Here is what I wrote about it on the CoS forum:

I would have liked to see them include the “Mudblood” incident too, but in thinking it over, I realized that its inclusion is fraught with all sorts of potential difficulties for other characters – difficulties that I doubt the filmmakers wanted to unleash, particularly given the raw emotional power of Rickman’s overall performance.

As soon as Rickman’s Snape starts showing the depth of his pain, he’s got the audience in the palm of his hand. If the pain had started sooner, beneath the portrait of the Fat Lady [when Lily cut off their friendship], it could have swayed movie-only audience opinion in directions that the filmmakers would not have wanted – like against Lily, for instance. That wouldn’t be fair, since he used the word [Mudblood] on her, but film is an essentially emotional medium, and film audiences love redemption stories – especially when a character is in love. Film audiences generally want to see all but the most monstrous characters given a second chance after they’ve blown it in a big way.

In that context, the filmmakers probably made the right decision to cut the incident. They could not really tell which character(s) would get hurt the most by showing it, and filmmakers like to know exactly what audience impact will be.

There are additional problems with its inclusion as well. David Yates used a portion of SWM (“Snape’s Worst Memory”) in the OotP movie, but he did not incorporate the “Mudblood” incident. Adding it for DH2 would require re-shooting the earlier scene or working some digital magic to insert Lily into it. And that, of course, would mean casting a third actress to play Lily’s part – and getting Alec Hopkin (Teen Snape) back to utter the unforgivable word. (ETA NOTE: The additional material with a third Lily that was originally shot for OotP and then cut would not help since Harry is in the frame – in completely the wrong clothes and without all of the battle grime and gore that we see in TPT).

In addition, I think that the complaint that the exclusion of the Mudblood incident makes Snape look like an innocent victim is a product of very short-sighted thinking. What is most visually striking about the incident (and film is a visual medium) is watching James Potter and the Marauders launch an unprovoked attack on Severus Snape. In all likelihood, including the incident in the film would make Snape look even more like a victim.

Little James is puckishly cute as he runs through the halls tipping over his “victims'” school books.

This James, though, is hardly “cute” as he attempts to remove “Snivelly’s trousers”:

I would humbly submit that the filmmakers just didn’t want to go there with James, particularly given that they will later need to present him sympathetically in the Forest… and there’s really very little story to get the movie-only crowd to buy in to that sympathetic portrayal once the filmmakers re-unleash SWM. It’s hard enough already for many book readers to make the leap of faith into believing that James simply changed, and book readers have information that the movie-onlies don’t possess.

The choice the filmmakers made, then, was to make nobody look very much like the victim, and nobody look very much like the perpetrator. For purposes of the film, it was probably a wise choice.

Weasley Loss and Gain

Some book fans are angry at not seeing Fred die. And one big question many fans have asked is, “How the heck did Percy get there?”

That’s a good question! But there are actually other people whose return is a bit confusing – for instance Cho Chang (what’s she doing there in the Room of Requirement when she graduated the year before?) and Luna Lovegood (how’d she get there ahead of Harry, when she’d last been seen at Shell Cottage?). In the case of the Ravenclaw girls, my assumption is that they are there mainly to answer Harry’s question about the lost diadem. And yes, they are supposed to be there, even if the film never quite lets us know how they arrived.

Percy, though, has one of the book’s more dramatic entrances into the Room of Requirement, and we never see that drama in the film. I do think, though, that the filmmakers’ decision (while perhaps making Percy’s sudden appearance confusing for book fans ) actually makes matters less confusing for the general movie audience. Percy’s estrangement from his family has never become an overt plot point in the films. We do see Percy doing Ministry duties at cross-purposes to Harry and Dumbledore, but that’s about as far as that subplot goes. And let’s face it, without the subplot, many movie-only fans probably don’t really remember who Percy is anyway.

So, that nixes Percy’s big entrance because the big entrance would simply not make sense. And sorry, but if we nix Percy’s big entrance, we also nix witnessing Fred’s death. Yeah, we could still see Fred die, but we wouldn’t see it in the context of his welcoming Percy back into the family and later Percy throwing himself on Fred’s dead body.

If we remove Fred’s death from the context of Percy’s return, we may as well see Fred lying already dead in the Great Hall. And that is the choice the filmmakers made. Rather than go for overkill by showing Fred die on the screen and then show his family mourn, the filmmakers went the more subtle route of showing him already dead, surrounded by his family.

Whether we actually see Fred die or not, this scene still has tremendous emotional impact. I have not gotten past it once without breaking into sobs.

Dumbledore’s Backstory

King’s Cross is a big disappointment to many people. The wandlore, the backstory, Dumbledore’s remorse – all of it is missing.

Most of the essentials, though, were presented in DH1. And when the filmmakers decided (ACK!!!) to negate Grindelwald’s big moment of defiance and remorse, they couldn’t exactly go deeply into the Grindelwald plot in King’s Cross. In fact, I predicted in November that this would happen.

At least Ciaran Hinds’ fabulous performance – bringing to life Aberforth’s hundred years of bitterness – implicitly verifies the depth to which Albus Dumbledore had sunk in his youth. If we want to know more detail about the manner in which Albus’ choices sacrificed his sister’s life, we can always consult the books – or at least the nearest Potter fan. :)

Honestly, though, I did miss the King’s Cross wandlore. I suppose I experienced a bit of it vicariously through the interaction between Harry and Ollivander at Shell Cottage. But after all we’ve seen of the wand, would it truly have been too much information for the general movie audience if Harry had briefly discussed the Elder Wand with Dumbledore?

Well, at nearly 1500 words, this post has now gone on too long (thanks for making it this far with me!). So  I think I’ll devote my next DH2 post entirely to the element I missed the most… and why I think it made sense for the filmmakers to cut it.

Until then…

The Remorse of Gellert Grindelwald

The 3-Way Duel between Albus Dumbledore, Aberforth Dumbledore, and Gellert Grindelwald that left Ariana dead
Credit: the fatal duel by *LoonyL

Well, I didn’t have nearly as dramatic a DH1 experience as Last Muggle did. No exploding cameras, no evacuated theaters, nothing! Actually, it was pretty uneventful.

We got into the theater with plenty of time to spare. We found great seats. And we saw pretty much the entire movie. Okay, I missed a couple of minutes during the camping sequence, right after the splinching scene, but thanks to the complete and utter normalcy of my viewing experience, I’ve had a couple of days to contemplate the film at my leisure.

I’ve been planning to look at several scenes in some detail, but I decided to devote this particular post to the one that really really bothered me in this otherwise EPIC WIN film… the scene in which Voldemort seeks information about the Elder Wand from Gellert Grindelwald.

As anybody who has read the series knows (and if you haven’t read the series, be warned that there are spoilers ahead): Gellert Grindelwald is the former “Most Dangerous Dark Wizard of All Time.” He was defeated by Albus Dumbledore in 1945 (as Harry learns from a Chocolate Frog card on his first trip on the Hogwarts Express).

Of course, the Dumbledore-Grindelwald story becomes much more complex when we reach DH. These two great Wizards were not merely adversaries. In youth, they were close friends (for a couple of months) before a three-way duel with Aberforth killed Dumbledore’s sister.

Dumbledore, we learn extra-canonically from JKR, was actually infatuated with Grindelwald during that time and was briefly seduced toward Dark Magic through that infatuation. The two young men sought the Deathly Hallows (the subject of The Tale of the Three Brothers), with Gellert having a particular fascination for the Elder Wand… which he stole from the wand maker Gregorovitch and which Dumbledore won from him in the legendary duel of 1945.

Because of the Grindelwald revelations in DH, Harry is put in the position of having to come to terms with Dumbledore’s past. He must recognize, as Sirius told him 3 years earlier, that the world is not divided up into “good people and Death Eaters.” Good people can have dark pasts. And apparently, even people who have committed dark horrors can find even a moment of light.

In the book, Voldemort visits Gellert Grindelwald (now an old, skeletal man) at Nurmengard prison:

Grindelwald: So you have come. I thought you would… one day. But your journey was pointless. I never had it.

Voldemort: You lie.


“Kill me, then!” demanded the old man. “You will not win, you cannot win! That wand will never, ever be yours – ”

And Voldemort’s fury broke: A burst of green light filled the prison room and the frail old body was lifted from its hard bed and then fell back lifeless, and Voldemort returned to the window, his wrath barely controllable.

So Book!Grindelwald taunts Voldemort, rather than betray Dumbledore and the Wand. Or as Harry tells his deceased former mentor:

“Grindelwald tried to stop Voldemort going after the wand. He lied, you know, pretended he had never had it.”

Dumbledore nodded, looking down at his lap, tears still glittering on the crooked nose.

“They say he showed remorse in later years, alone in his cell at Nurmengard. I hope that it is true. I would like to think he did feel the horror and shame of what he had done. Perhaps that lie to Voldemort was his attempt to make amends… to prevent Voldemort from taking the Hallow…”

“… or maybe from breaking into your tomb?” suggested Harry, and Dumbledore dabbed at his eyes.

You know, I was looking forward to watching the one decent, courageous moment in Grindelwald’s life be realized on the screen.

So what did the filmmakers do? They had Grindelwald give up Dumbledore as owner of the Elder Wand, and even reveal the Wand’s location in Dumbledore’s tomb. And then they had Psycho Killer Voldemort leave him in peace!

Logistically, yes, we do need to know why Voldemort goes to Dumbledore’s tomb. We do need to know why he finds the Wand there. But having Grindelwald reveal Dumbledore’s ownership of the Wand is not the only way to accomplish that. In fact, here’s a scenario that would accomplish the same thing without violating Grindelwald’s character arc:

Grindelwald: Kill me, then! You will not win, you cannot win! That wand will never, ever be yours.

Voldemort: Dumbledore! He took the Wand, didn’t he, when he locked you up in here! You’re protecting him!… Avada Kedavra!

Why is this so important when the Dumbledore backstory is largely missing from the movie? Well, for starters, Dumbledore’s backstory probably won’t be missing from DH2, where we can learn more from his brother Aberforth and the King’s Cross sequence.

But even more significantly, Grindelwald’s refusal to help Voldemort plays into the entire redemption theme of the series… and into the whole question of remorse.

The “R” word is huge in DH. Dumbledore experienced remorse after the death of his sister. Snape experienced remorse after the death of Lily. And seemingly, even Grindelwald – a man who went much further down the dark path than either of these two men – was sufficiently remorseful to protect Dumbledore and the Wand.

Obviously, what Harry learns about Dumbledore and Snape is most significant to his understanding of the transformative power of remorse. Yet he also learns along the way that even Grindelwald – the former “Most Dangerous Dark Wizard of All Time” – was able to turn back at least just a little… and in the face of death. Gellert Grindelwald, in his last moments, performed one small act that showed his remorse.

I personally would not underestimate the significance of Grindelwald’s act for the DH plot. Given that Harry had discussed it with Dumbledore only an hour or so earlier, it is highly likely that the remorse Harry saw in the old man served as one inspiration for the moment of mercy he offered to Voldemort – giving the Dark Lord himself one last chance at remorse.

By having Grindelwald show the opposite of remorse, though, the filmmakers violate the character’s story arc in a rather profound way and undermine a key theme of the series.

So tell me… if it was so easy for me to figure out how to get Voldemort to Dumbledore’s tomb without violating Grindelwald’s character, why was it seemingly so hard for David Yates and Steve Kloves?

Battle of Hogwarts Anniversary

On May 2, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts was fought. Today we’d like to honor all the brave men, women and magical creatures who fought Lord Voldemort for the future of the Wizarding World, especially:

  • Harry Potter – who personally faced Lord Voldemort twice that night… and prevailed
  • Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger – who stood beside Harry throughout his Quest and provided much-needed support during the Battle
  • Luna Lovegood – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and helping Harry into Ravenclaw Tower
  • Neville Longbottom – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and slaying Nagini
  • Ginny Weasley – for keeping Dumbledore’s Army alive and giving Harry inspiration
  • Severus Snape – for giving Harry the memories in his dying moments that helped Harry defeat Lord Voldemort
  • Aberforth Dumbledore – for helping Harry, the Order, the DA, and many others get in to Hogwarts from the Hog’s Head and for then fighting in the Battle alongside many other citizens of Hogsmeade
  • The Members of the DA, the Order, the Gryffindor alumni, and the citizens of Hogsmeade – for standing up to fight
  • The Magical Creatures who fought – particularly Kreacher and the House Elves, the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest, and Grawp
  • Minerva McGonnagall, Horace Slughorn, Filius Flitwick – for leadership during the Battle and for fighting Voldemort
  • Molly Weasley – for destroying Bellatrix Lestrange
  • Hagrid – for being true of heart
  • Peeves and Trelawney – for their unique contributions

And now, we’d like to honor the fallen heroes:

Severus Snape


Credit: DH: Look at Me by FrizzyHermione

Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks


Credit: SPOILERS_Lupin + Tonks Ending? by ~endoftheline

Fred Weasley

Weasleys mourn Fred's death
Credit: Fredless by ~balmasque

Plus Colin Creevey and the 50 or more unnamed dead.

Thank you!


And not to kill the somber mood, but here’s a Battle of Hogwarts tie-in that I wrote for my entry in the Second Task in the Quest for the Hallows contest. It made it to the Final Round: Fifth Place Overall and Fourth Place in the Best HP-Related Story category.

‘He Has Her Eyes, Precisely Her Eyes’

In Defense of Albus Dumbledore, Part 2

(continued from Part 1)

In Part 1, we looked at Dumbledore’s dealings with Severus Snape when Snape wished to exchange the life of the mother for the lives of the father and the son. Let’s continue with another scene from “The Prince’s Tale”:

The hilltop faded and Harry stood in Dumbledore’s office, and something was making a terrible sound, like a wounded animal. Snape was slumped forward in a chair and Dumbledore was standing over him, looking grim. After a moment or two, Snape raised his face, and he looked like a man who had lived a hundred years of misery since leaving the wild hilltop.

“I thought… you were going… to keep her… safe…”

“She and James put their faith in the wrong person,” said Dumbledore. “Rather like you, Severus. Weren’t you hoping that Lord Voldemort would spare her?”

This scene probably takes place about a day after the opening of the first book. Dumbledore has already delivered Harry to the Dursleys, and has presumably joined in the celebrations following Voldemort’s fall. But for Severus Snape, there can be no celebration.

This is a delicate moment in Snape’s story. The consequences he tried to escape by turning to Dumbledore in the first place have now hit him full in the face. He is already at Hogwarts, already a spy, already starting to turn his life around. But now disaster strikes. Lily is dead. He sounds like a wounded animal, and Dumbledore looks grim. If Dumbledore mishandles the scene now unfolding in his office, Snape can be lost forever.

But Dumbledore knows his man. When Snape tries to blame Dumbledore for not protecting Lily sufficiently, Dumbledore – correctly – throws it right back at him, making Lily’s death a question of choices, not his personal omnipotence or lack thereof.

As always, our choices define us. James and Lily made a bad choice. Severus made a bad choice. At the point where those two sets of bad choices intersect, Lily Evans died.

The scene continues:

Snape’s breathing was shallow.

“Her boy survives,” said Dumbledore.

With a tiny jerk of the head, Snape seemed to flick off an irksome fly.

“Her son lives. He has her eyes, precisely her eyes. You remember the shape and color of Lily Evans’s eyes, I am sure?”

“DON’T!” bellowed Snape. “Gone… dead…”

Oh boy, this is where some Snape partisans really lose it. In the alternate Potterverse they’ve constructed, Dumbledore is callously taunting Snape so that he can find a way to make him “useful” to Dumbledore. In the comments to the Snapedom essay “You Have Used Me: Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore, Betrayal and Trust,” bohemianspirit writes that “one of the worst examples” of Dumbledore’s “callous disregard for human feeling” is the “horrible, horrible way he taunted Severus with, “Remember Lily’s eyes, Severus?”

In that corner of the Potterverse, Dumbledore is a master manipulator who has zero concern for any other person, just so long as he gets what he wants. He manipulates Severus into doing his will, manipulates Potter into doing his will, and it matters little to him what damage he causes in the process.

It’s a view that listens only to Aberforth’s bitterness (and Snape’s complaint that Dumbledore used him) – and listens not at all to Dumbledore in King’s Cross. In short, Dumbledore is a bit of a sociopath. Any tears he may have shed or self-doubts he may have expressed over his failings are irrelevant, as are any conclusions Harry ultimately draws. Dumbledore, in these fans’ view, is only about lies and manipulation.

But “callous disregard” is not the only way to read the exchange. As Katie Sullivan writes:

[Dumbledore and Snape] both had felt the temptation of the Dark Arts; Snape followed that path much farther than Dumbledore did before realizing the terrible price such magic exacts, but they both were, in a sense, recovering addicts. I think that, as much as Snape’s deep love for Lily, was the reason for Dumbledore’s unwavering trust in him.

Bingo!

Listen to the language Snape uses to answer Bellatrix in the “Spinner’s End” chapter of Half-Blood Prince:

Bellatrix: While I endured the dementors, you remained at Hogwarts, comfortably playing Dumbledore’s pet!

Snape: Not quite. He wouldn’t give me the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, you know. Seemed to think it might, ah, bring about a relapse… tempt me into my old ways.

Snape uses precisely the language of addiction and recovery. If we tease out the analogy for the scene in Dumbledore’s office, Snape is newly recovering from his fall into the Dark Arts, while Dumbledore has had a much, much longer period of recovery. And like a newly recovering addict’s counselor, Dumbledore does not gloss over attitudes that could cause Snape a relapse… or worse, drive him to suicide. Instead, he has the unmitigated gall to call Snape on them! He again uses tough love.

When Dumbledore tells Snape the single piece of good news in this tragedy – that the boy lives – Snape treats the news as if it’s an “irksome fly.” He appears to regard the boy as an usurper, alive while Lily is dead. It is precisely at this point that Dumbledore draws Snape’s attention to the fact that the boy is not an insect to be brushed off. He is a child, Lily’s child. He has precisely her eyes.

Dumbledore is not callously taunting Snape. He’s acting as a conscience, putting a human face on Harry for Snape, a human face that Snape needs to see. Significantly, at the end of his long and perilous journey, Snape finally will acknowledge, in his last breath, that the boy does indeed have Lily’s eyes.

(continued in Part 3)