Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Harry Potter Countdown!

Kayleigh at Nylon Admiral is anxiously counting down the weeks to the release of the last Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part II. Each week she posts about a different topic relating to Rowling's insanely popular series and invites other bloggers to join her. 

This week's topic is one that's close to my heart, more so than any other topic she's covered so far. Today we're all going to be talking about:

"Snape. Snape. Severus Snape."

(Raise your hands if you mentally added the word "Dumbledore!" to the end of that. Click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

NOTE: Here there be spoilers!

Those of you who've been following me for a while will know that Snape has been my favorite character since the first book. I've droned on and on about him at length since I started blogging in March and I've said pretty much all there is to say about him. He's morally gray, which is my favorite kind of character. He and I have a similar childhood, so I identify with him more than the other characters. He's an absolute bastard but he shows repeatedly that he has a heart buried somewhere deep in his chest. Etc. Etc. Etc.

So, what else is there to say about our favorite potions master? I've decided to do something a little unconventional today. After I'd finished reading the series, I was ridiculously unhappy with the way things turned out for Snape and was heartbroken that we'd be seeing no more of him (or the other characters, for that matter). As a writer, I sometimes find that when I'm having writer's block, it helps to write fan fiction. Yes, I know that it's looked down on by a lot of people, but working with other people's characters and developing your own plot and dialogue can be a great way to help work through writing issues without having to worry about creating brand new characters. 

You can see where this is headed, I'm sure. I decided in a moment of "Holy crap, I have no idea where I want my current novel to go!" to start working on the autobiography of one Severus Snape. Lame? Probably. Helpful? Yes. Something I intend to finish some day? Damn straight. Because Snape is such a versatile, shadowy, and down-right awesome character, he's immensely fun to write. Below, you'll find some excerpts from what's being tentatively called The Life and Death of Severus Snape. Some of the text is taken directly from Rowling's novels (NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED!!!! and I don't ever intend for this to leave my computer), but quite a bit of if is just from my (probably deranged) head. All of these excerpts are scenes from the Sorcerer's Stone timeline.

"Draco Malfoy Puts Snape on Edge"

          I’ve heard students say that I don’t walk, I stalk. Whether or not that’s true, I could feel myself stalking into my classroom that Friday. It was, I knew, my first lesson with Potter and I felt particularly moody. The idea of Lilly’s son being in my general vicinity was like a dagger being thrust into my heart. In fact, as I came to his name on the roll I felt a twinge of pain and I couldn’t stop myself from a little unpleasantness.
            “Ah, yes,” I said softly, “Harry Potter. Our new—celebrity.”
            Pushing aside the urge to snap out at him, to demand to know how he could have the audacity to sit there looking out of those eyes, her eyes, not knowing the battle that was raging inside of my head, I continued down the roll, then looked out at the first years.
            “You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making,” I began, staring them down, measuring them up. “As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses.” Here I stopped and let my words sink in. As I had expected, no one seemed very impressed by what I’d said, but there was the slightest glimmer in a few of the students’ eyes. “I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death—if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”
            There was a ringing silence. I saw Potter exchange a glance with a boy that I would have pegged as a Weasley even if I hadn’t seen his name on the roll. It was, I decided, time to see what the Potter boy was made of.
            “Potter!” I snapped. “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
            His confusion was palpable. Another glance at Weasley, then one at Hermione Granger, whose hand had shot up out of nowhere.
Oh no, I thought. A know-it-all.
            “I don’t know, sir,” he said finally.
            I felt my lips curl into a sneer. “Tut, tut—fame clearly isn’t everything.” I paused. “Let’s try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”
            Several students snickered and Granger’s hand shot even higher into the air, but Potter just looked down at his desk and repeated, “I don’t know, sir.”
            “Thought you wouldn’t open a book before coming, eh, Potter?” Then, “What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?” I was, I knew, enjoying this too much.
            “I don’t know,” he admitted, glancing again at Granger. She was standing up, practically jumping up and down in an effort to get my attention. “I think Hermione does, though, why don’t you try her?”
            “Sit down!” I snapped at Granger. “For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Sleeping Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite.” I glared at him then snapped, “Well? Why aren’t you all copying that down?” I looked at Potter, saying loudly enough for everyone to hear, “And a point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter.”
            I strode up the board, flicked my wand, and watched as the directions for a cure for boils swirled out onto it. “Pair up with the person you are next to,” I said, “and carefully follow these directions. I cannot stress enough the importance of strict adherence to what is written up here. To not do so could be dangerous—even deadly. You may begin.”
            I had expected the first years to be incompetent—they always were—but it pained me to see so many mistakes being made with the easiest of directions. “Not crushed finely enough,” I told a Slytherin boy. “I think you’ll find that’s too much dried nettles, Finnigan.”
            Draco Malfoy caught my eye and as I looked at his friend Goyle’s completely wrong potion—“That ingredient isn’t even on the list!”—he said, “Father says to say hello, Professor.”
            “Does he now?” I replied, staring down into the depths of his cauldron.
            “Oh yes. He says that you two are old friends.” There was something shrewd and calculating in his look. I could tell that he, like Potter, had not fallen far from the proverbial tree.
            “And what else does he say, Mr. Malfoy?”
            He shrugged but it was too forced to be casual. “Not much, really.” I started to walk away but stopped when I heard him say, “Only that he would hate to find out that you and I weren’t getting on well. He’s very protective of me, Professor.” I could feel his eyes boring into the back of my head. “Very protective.”
            I swiveled around to face him again. “I see. Well, Malfoy,” I said over the chatter of the other students, “this looks perfect. Just perfect.” I hoped that my voice didn’t sound strained. “If everyone could look over here at the way Draco has stewed his horned—”
            I was cut off by a loud hissing noise that was coming from the same cauldron as clouds of foul green smoke. All over the room people were leaping onto stools to get out of the way of the potion leaking out of a melted cauldron, eating the soles of shoes. A fat Gryffindor boy—Nathan? Neville?—was moaning in pain as boils popped up all over his body.
            “Idiot boy!” I rushed over and cleared away the potion with a wave of my wand. “I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?” The moaning continued and I pointed to his partner. “Take him up to the hospital wing.” Potter and his friends were sitting next to the mess and I must admit that I took my anger over Malfoy’s words and the potion fiasco out on them. “You—Potter—why didn’t you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he’d make you look good if he got it wrong, did you?” Before he could sputter an answer I added, “That’s another point you’ve lost for Gryffindor.”
            My face burning with rage, I wiped the directions off the board and slipped out of the room and into my office, not daring to look back at Malfoy or The Boy Who Lived. 

"Lucius Malfoy Makes It Worse"

           “Severus, I see you are well.”
            I could feel the blood pulsing through my veins, my heart beating wildly against my chest. He never came to me here in my office. He also never paid social calls. Nothing good could come from this meeting.
            “Lucius,” I said, hoping my tone didn’t betray the anxiety that I felt, “to what do I owe the…pleasure of this visit?”
            I looked up briefly from the copy of The Daily Prophet I had been immersed in to see him gazing absentmindedly at the jars on my shelves. He had always been an imposing figure. His proud manner had once enthralled me and I had spent my years at Hogwarts adoring him. Now, however, I found myself merely hoping that he would leave and never come back.
            “It’s my son, Draco,” he said.
            I set the Prophet aside. “Ah, yes. He’s quite the promising potions-maker,” I lied.
            Lucius’ head swiveled around and his grey eyes pierced me. Still I did not look at him.
            “Is he now?” he asked smoothly. “Well, that’s just…wonderful.” He settled into the chair in front of my desk. “Unfortunately that is not what I’ve come to discuss. Or, really,” he corrected, “that is only part of it. Are you, by chance, familiar with the name Galena Malfoy?”
            “No, I can’t say that I am.”
            “How about Trevor Black?”
            “By last name only,” I admitted, not entirely sure where this conversation was headed but knowing that I probably wouldn’t like it.
            “Malachi Forge? Joshua Tibbert? Christiana Stone?” At each of these names I had shook my head but, rather than being displeased, Lucius’ thin, cold smile grew at each sign of my ignorance. “Just what I wanted to hear, Severus. You have not heard of these people because they are unimportant. They are nonentities. They, in short, do not matter.” He leveled his gaze on me and I made the mistake of looking up at just that moment. Our eyes met and I was caught in his serpentine stare. “Do you catch my meaning?”
            “I’m afraid I don’t,” I said, trying to look away. It was a lie, but I wanted to hear it from him. I wanted him to openly admit to what both he and his son had hinted at.
            “Don’t play dumb with me, Severus. I’m certain that Draco has spoken with you.”
            “Draco,” I countered, “has done little more than insinuate. Which, I might add, is what you’re doing right now.”
            Lucius leaned forward and gripped the edge of my desk. “Draco is my only child, one of the last of the Malfoy line. His mother and I both feel as if he is destined for greatness—and we want you to help him achieve it.”
            I stood up, almost knocking over my chair in the process. “Lucius, if you think for one moment that I’m going to play into your delusions of grandeur—”
            “It’s very simple,” he interrupted, acting as if nothing had happened. “All you’d have to do is help him along, make sure he’s doing his best…tutor him if need be.”
            “As if I haven’t got enough to deal with already.”
            “Yes,” he said, his voice barely a whisper. “I can see how very trying it would be to sit in Dumbledore’s pocket and plot against every fool he hires for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post.”
            “You’re being unfair.”
            “I’m being unkind. There is a marked difference. Don’t forget that I sit on the board of directors, Severus. This is merely an inconvenience. I am capable of much, much worse.”
            It was not an empty threat. He knew that to get me fired would be the worst possible thing he could do. This was my home, my life. It was the only way that I could fulfill my promise to Dumbledore.
            The choice was mine to make. I could take the brave route and stand up to him, refuse to give in to his threats. Or I could take the safer route—the cowardly route—and do whatever he asked of me.
            I didn’t speak for quite a while. Instead, I weighed my options, carefully considering both. Did I really think myself capable of defiance? No. But, was I willing to allow myself to become the guardian of yet another brat—yet another reminder of my past?
            “Will you give me some time to think about it?” I asked.
            “Is more time really necessary? I mean, I’d think that your choice was clear.” He smirked. “Or were you thinking of doing something noble?”
            The truth was that I had been thinking of doing something violent…like punching him.
            “Your job or your pride?” he said, then added maliciously, “Not that you’ll have much pride once you’ve lost everything.”
            Again I forced the urge to hurt him down. I thought hard about this. There really wasn’t an option, I conceded. The way was clear.
            Reluctantly, but with my head held aloft, I said, “Draco will live up to your expectations, Lucius. I swear it.”

Okay, so they're a bit long, but I liked them both and couldn't choose between them. I really like the idea that Snape only helped Draco as much as he did because he was afraid of Lucius. He could have ruined Snape several times over with everything that he knew about him and I never saw any real reason why Snape would have been so openly on Draco's side. I also just like the idea that Snape was being forced to help both Harry and Draco, mortal enemies since the day they met. It adds even more tension to an already tense story line.



  1. I love them! I especially love how in the first one just by extending the conversations we already know we get so much more of the story (or what could have been the story) and all these added complexities and dimensions. I'd love to read other bits you've read!

  2. Also, Harry Potter Harry Potter Oooh, Harry Potter Harry Potter yeah, Harry Potter Harry Potter that's me!

  3. Glad you liked them! I couldn't resist filling in the rest of his life, especially since I truly find him to be a much more interesting character than Harry. By the time the sixth book rolled around, HP had become about Snape for me. And after book six, he was all anyone talked about anyway. :)

    No matter how many times I watch that video, it never stops being funny. LOL