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22 Revelations About Snape And Lily’s Relationship


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Summary

  • Snape’s hatred towards Harry in the
    Harry Potter
    series was fueled by his unrequited love for Lily, which he couldn’t move on from due to guilt. This adds complexity to Snape’s character and explains his treatment of Harry.
  • Snape’s loyalty to Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix was a result of his guilt over Lily’s death. He chose the double life to redeem himself and help take down Voldemort.
  • Despite Snape’s redemption arc, his treatment of Harry and obsession with Lily aren’t excusable. Lily only saw Snape as a friend, and his refusal to respect her boundaries shows his unhealthy fixation.


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The Snape and Lily twist was one of the greatest shocks that the Harry Potter series had to offer, but new knowledge of that relationship gleans further insights. Snape’s hatred of Harry is an essential element of the overall story and Snape’s character. It fostered confusion among audiences and readers about Snape’s true loyalties and made his silent heroism all the more surprising. Only Alan Rickman knew of this twist before the final Harry Potter book hit the stands, leading to some intriguing acting choices.


While many things don’t make sense about Snape, numerous mysteries were resolved when it was revealed Snape was Lily’s childhood friend, was deeply in love with her, inadvertently orchestrated her death, and turned spy for the Order of the Phoenix as penance for his crimes. The films don’t offer a lot of information about Snape and Lily, and some of the finer points about their friendship come through subtextual information. There’s more behind the iconic phrase “Always,” and even more people didn’t know about Snape and Lily.


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Severus Snape Complete Life Timeline: Tragic Origin, School, Voldemort & Harry Potter

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Harry’s Presence Tortures Snape

Harry Potter Reminds Snape Of Lily

Snape seeing Harry for the first time in Sorcerer's Stone


From the moment Harry meets Snape at only 11 years old, it’s abundantly clear that the potions master doesn’t like him. Harry doesn’t understand why Snape is so awful to him, and this unearned ire causes viewers to sympathize with the innocent first-year student without questioning if there’s something else going on beneath the surface. It’s not until the final moments of the last movie that everything becomes clear.


Though Snape and Lily were only friends, Snape was in love with Lily and couldn’t move on because of his guilt. Through his memories, it’s revealed that he was worried about Harry’s future when Lily and James died and that he was afraid of seeing Harry when he was old enough to attend Hogwarts. He can hardly bear to see Harry daily, being reminded of Lily and everything he lost, especially considering that Harry had the same eyes as his mother. Still, it’s no excuse for how he treats the young boy who has also lost so much.

Snape Is Unable To Move On From The Past

Snape Can’t Forgive Himself

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape Using His Wand in the Potions Classroom


Something that Harry Potter fans know about Severus Snape from the books is that he is constantly living in the past. Snape struggles to let go of the past, which is obvious in Snape’s constant comparisons between Harry and his father, his unmitigated hatred toward Lupin, and his mistreatment of Sirius when the two are operating in the Order together. Grief and mourning are normal and healthy, but even Dumbledore is surprised to learn that Snape still loves Lily “after all this time.”


While it’s truly unknown how a later in life Snape and Lily conversation would’ve played out, if Lily could speak to Snape, she probably would have wanted him to be happy, and, if that meant moving on, then she would have advised him to try. Instead, Snape harbors his feelings for her and tends to his guilt and grudges in a very unhealthy manner.

Snape Chose The Double Life Because Of Lily’s Death

Snape’s Love For Lily Led His Decisions

Snape looking forlorn in the Deathly Hallows


Throughout the series, it’s unclear who Snape supports — Voldemort and the Death Eaters or Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix. The reason Snape and Lily ended their friendship was his moving to the dark side. He spreads his devotion between both light and dark, but, after he kills Dumbledore, it’s revealed this was all arranged. After Lily’s death, Snape firmly makes up his mind that he won’t support Voldemort, and he wants to stop him. He goes to Dumbledore, and Snape becomes a spy.

Snape’s Redemption Isn’t Entirely Admirable

Snape Isn’t A Pure Hero


No matter what reasons Snape has for behaving the way he does, it doesn’t excuse his behavior. Not only does he bully Harry and try to make his time at Hogwarts miserable, but he also tries to turn Harry against his father. He often bad-mouths James because he got everything he wished for himself. There’s no denying — not even Harry could deny it — that James and Sirius mercilessly bullied the potions master at Hogwarts.


Perhaps there’s truth to Snape’s complaints, but James must have had redeeming qualities for Lily to love him. Still, his redemption arc doesn’t excuse or explain his appalling treatment of Harry.

Snape & Lily Were Neighbors

This Is How Their Friendship Developed

A Child Severus Snape as He Meets Lily in Harry Potter


Snape and Lily were best friends at Hogwarts, but they met before that. As shown in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the two were originally neighbors, with Snape hailing from the wrong side of the tracks. As per his memories, he had a crush on Lily long before they formally met.


This is even more apparent in the book, but nonetheless, it adds another layer of dynamic and suggests that they see one another more often than what’s depicted. Petunia even accused him of spying on them when the sisters played together. When Lily found herself accidentally practicing magic, Snape emerged, and the two soon became friends.

Lily Only Ever Saw Snape As A Friend

The Attraction Was Always One Sided

Lily Evans and Severus Snape as Children in Harry Potter


As much as people romanticize Snape’s infatuation with Lily, the fact she did not love him back romantically is ignored. The fact Snape and Lily were only friends, and she only saw it as such, reveals a lot about his refusal to respect her boundaries. It seems his love was an ongoing obsession with her that lasted long after her death. This is supported by his sullen insistence that James was to blame for everything wrong. Had he mourned Lily and moved on without holding on to his grudges, it would have been much more palatable.

Snape Taught Lily About Magic Before Hogwarts

Snape Was Instrumental In Lily’s Skills

Young Snape and Lily lying on the grass in Harry Potter


One of the most interesting things about the Snape and Lily relationship was that Snape was to Lily as Hagrid was to Harry, as it was Snape who taught Lily all about Hogwarts and the Wizarding World. Lily hails from a family of muggles and never knew that the Wizarding World existed until Snape explained things to her. He was her first wizarding friend and her introduction into the magical world that became her home.


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Like Harry, she entered the world with no knowledge about magic, believing it to be pure fantasy, and Snape educated her about the ins and outs of what it means to be a witch. Lily was often hailed as one of the brightest witches of her age, and some of that may be due to the knowledge she received from the bright yet sullen half-blood prince.

Snape Never Insulted Harry About His Mother, Only His Father

Snape Only Ever Hated James Potter


As Harry’s professor, Snape takes merciless enjoyment in tormenting the Boy Who Lived, mocking everything from his fame to his scar. One of Snape’s favorite jabs to make was regarding the arrogance and insufferable nature of Harry’s father, James — and that Harry was just like him. Harry had no way of knowing his father was a rival of his first-year potions master, and, even if he had known, it wouldn’t have made it any more bearable for a young boy who barely even knew his parents.


Upon a rewatch or a reread of the Harry Potter series, audiences immediately notice that Snape only ever targets Harry’s father, never saying a word about Lily. Snape never insulted Lily in front of Harry, which is a huge clue to the Snape and Lily relationship, and foreshadows why he bothered to ever help the boy in the first place.

Snape Only Cradles Lily’s Body In The Movie

Snape Only Cared About Lily’s Death

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape Holding Lily Evans in Harry Potter


Audiences may not know that Snape did not arrive at the Potters’ home in Godric’s Hollow in the book, which means the Snape and Lily scene where he cradles Lily’s body is only in the film, making Snape appear sympathetic. It also calls into question what he did with Harry. He doesn’t raise him or deliver him to the Dursleys. It’s possible he helped in some other way. While the clip focuses on his regret, it uses Lily’s death to develop his character. It adds a level of affection the book version of Snape doesn’t have.

Lily Is A Part Of Snape’s Worst Memory

Lily Still Haunts Snape

Snape's memories of James and friends tormenting him in Harry Potter.


While it’s never expressly stated, the Snape and Lily relationship is key to understanding why the memory Harry views in the pensieve in Order of the Phoenix earned the moniker of Snape’s “worst memory.” Though she may be the love of Snape’s life, Lily also remains a big part of Snape’s worst memory, though her role in it was cut from the feature films. When he recalls being bullied by James and the other Marauders, Lily is right there in the background and comes to his defense.


Throughout their relationship, she’s either defending James or awkwardly asking Snape not to blame him for it. However, there are times when she defends Snape, which may be even more humiliating for the young Slytherin. Toward the end of the memory, Lily comes to Snape’s defense, and he rebuffs her and calls her a Mudblood. This is effectively what ended their friendship for good, as revealed in the books, which is why it’s Snape’s worst memory, not that he was being bullied.

Lily Was The Reason Snape Protected Harry

Snape Felt He Owed Lily After Her Death


For years, Snape spends endless amounts of time secretly protecting The Boy Who Lived while also despising him, going as far as bullying him in class and grading him poorly. For Harry to name his child after Snape, he had to admire the man, and much of that admiration comes from the realization that Snape was protecting Harry all along.


From counter-cursing Quirrell to feeding Voldemort false information, Snape worked hard every day to ensure Harry’s safety, perhaps more than any other individual. Even as Voldemort seemed to be winning and Dumbledore passed on, Snape maintained his secrecy and devotion to the child he’d helped become a target, compromising his safety to ensure Harry’s, something that never would’ve happened without the tragic Snape and Lily relationship.

Snape & Lily Stayed Best Friends Until Fifth Year

Snape & Lily Never Broke Until Late In Their School Careers

Young James and Lily Potter at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


Snape and Lily were inseparable friends who only parted ways in their fifth year when he took a turn down a dark path, opting to pursue the Dark Arts against her wishes, calling her a Mudblood in front of everyone when she came to his aid, and effectively aligning himself with the growing crowd of young Death Eaters. Though Lily and James didn’t start dating until 7th year, that may also be the year Lily responded favorably to James’s advances.


That’s a long friendship to discard after so much time invested in one another, which points not only to how seriously Snape must have taken the Dark Arts but also how strongly Lily objected to them. Friends typically don’t give each other ultimatums, but, in the case of good versus evil, one might see why Lily cut off someone who was once so dear to her.

Snape Tried To Get Voldemort To Spare Lily

Snape Wanted To Save Lily From His Dark Master

A teenage Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.


As soon as Snape discovers that the information he passed on to his beloved Dark Lord led to the woman he loved, he begs his master to spare her life. This, ironically, is the moment that saved Harry’s life, where Lily chose instead to sacrifice herself to protect her infant. It does cast a darker shade on the Snape and Lily dynamic, however, that Snape was willing to see her husband and child dead if it meant he could have her.


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Snape’s request, although ultimately ignored by Voldemort, is important not only because it points to how much he cares about Lily, but that, in those few seconds, he also inadvertently helps to save Harry’s life, because if Lily wasn’t given the option to save herself, the curse wouldn’t have rebounded. It technically wouldn’t count as a “sacrifice” if Voldemort was already planning to kill her anyway, so Lily’s choice to die made all the difference.

Lily Married Her Best Friend’s Bully

James Potter Was Always A Bully To Snape

James and Lily dancing together from Harry Potter


When Harry discovers that James is just as arrogant and mean as Snape had claimed, it’s a little startling, to say the least. This revelation is something that Harry wrestles with in Order of the Phoenix, but isn’t explored in the film. Throughout the books, the differences between James and Snapes’ upbringings are stark and made wholly clear. James grew up in an affluent and loving home, whereas Snape lived surrounded by poverty and abuse.


Hogwarts is essentially a high school populated by teens, but, after only seeing James as a seemingly responsible adult, it’s jarring to see him as a silly teenager. Perhaps Lily eventually knocked some sense into her future husband, but it doesn’t change the fact that she married the person who bullied her best friend. It also seems that Snape never lets go of his bitterness about his youth, and his inability to move on is a key element in the Snape and Lily relationship.

Snape & Lily Were Both Aces At Potions

Snape & Lily Had A Lot In Common


If audiences wonder why Snape and Lily were friends at all, especially given her kindness and his cruelty, they can look beyond the proximity of being neighbors and recall that both Hogwarts students were fantastic at Potions. Snape, the famous Half-Blood Prince, created many amazing potions of his own, in addition to tweaking existing potions to improve them.


Horace Slughorn, who adored Harry’s mother, frequently and fondly recalled Lily’s extraordinary potion-brewing abilities as she, too, was an honorary member of the Slug Club. Perhaps they had Potions together, and maybe they even helped one another in their shared interest.

Snape Wouldn’t Take No For An Answer

Snape Was Obsessed With Lily

Young Lily and Snape chatting in Harry Potter


More troubling aspects of the Snape and Lily relationship come from Snape’s clear feelings of ownership toward her. Not only did Snape ignore that Lily didn’t return his feelings and resent her choice after he was emotionally abusive to her, but he also blamed James for his behavior. This lack of personal responsibility is an unfortunate cliché that may have been a factor in Lily’s unwillingness to reciprocate Snape’s advances.


There are more key conversations between Snape and Lily in the books that aren’t in the films that support this. For example, in one memory Harry views, Snape and Lily are talking, and he mentions that James “fancies” her, but Snape won’t “let her” before Lily rightfully cuts him off. Perhaps because of incidents in his final years — from being borderline coerced by Dumbledore to obviously living a miserable double agent life — he was still miserable that he’d never “gotten” Lily, whom he mourned even after he sold her out.

Petunia Knows About Lily’s Relationship With Snape

Snape’s Obsession Was No Secret

Petunia and Lily Evans as Children in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


Though it’s a quick moment, there’s a shot of young Petunia in Snape’s memories that he gives to Harry. She’s wary of him, perhaps knowing he’s of magical descent, but she’s also jealous Lily is going away to become a witch. In any case, Petunia warns Snape away and wants him to stop spending so much time with Lily. Perhaps Petunia is upset about losing her sister, and she’s upset that her already limited time with her is being taken up by Snape’s visits. The Snape and Lily relationship gets more attention in the books.


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Petunia’s a much bigger part of it. After the three meet, Petunia later confronts Snape and Lily in the forest which ends with Snape “accidentally” using his magic to cause a tree branch to fall on her. One key thing even book fans may have missed is that when Petunia explained what Dementors were to Harry in Order of the Phoenix, she claims she heard Lily and “that awful boy” talking about them. Many assumed Petunia meant James, but she was talking about Snape.

Snape Chose The Dark Arts Over Lily

Snape Turned Dark Because Of Lily’s Rejections


No matter how much love there was in the Snape and Lily friendship and all he did for her, from protecting her child to sacrificing his life to serve the Order, he still ultimately chose the Dark Arts over the woman he loved. This is a point of division among fans, but the reality is that he’s a complicated and flawed man who reflects true humanity. However, one can’t deny the fact that he chose darkness despite Lily’s warnings.


When he’s still young, he follows the convoluted path of many Slytherins by becoming a Death Eater and supporting Voldemort, furthering his divide from Lily.

Dumbledore Only Trusted Snape Because Of Lily

Dumbledore Used Snape’s Grief

Snape treating Dumbledore's hand in Harry Potter


Harry questions Dumbledore’s trust in Snape, but it is actually because of the Snape and Lily relationship that Dumbledore fully trusts his spy. Dumbledore, a character just as flawed and human as Snape, used his love for Lily to make Snape a ready double agent for the Order of the Phoenix. However, this secrecy was all at Snape’s request, as Dumbledore was even confused as to why Snape didn’t want people to see the “best of him.”


Had Harry known why Dumbledore trusted Snape so completely, it likely would have made him hate the man even more — at least, until he became fully aware of the professor’s sacrifice.

Snape Hated Lily’s Family

Petunia Hated Snape

Young Petunia looking angry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


While it’s clear that Petunia doesn’t like Snape, it’s not quite as clear how he feels about her in the films. Likely a result of her jealousy, Petunia would taunt Snape and Lily, demanding that Lily not be Snape’s friend. Snape, who found Petunia and presumably other Muggles (and Squibs) repugnant, given his propensity for the Dark Arts, despised her and advised Lily to not care about what her sister thought.


While the films cut Petunia’s big Wizarding World secret, the books explain that she was desperately jealous of the pair. Snape’s hatred toward Muggles probably also stemmed from his dynamic with his father, which was abusive.

Snape & Lily Have The Same Patronus

Snape & Lily Share Magical Signs

Severus Snape's Patronus in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1


In the Wizarding World, sharing someone’s Patronus is as sure a sign of love as anything. Though Lupin’s Patronus is unknown, Tonks’ was a wolf, which says something about their bond. The same is true of Snape and Lily, who are does. James’ Patronus is a stag, which he shares with Harry. Thus, all four of them — Harry, James, Lily, and Snape — share the same Patronus. This is ironic, as it also means that Snape’s Patronus was not only the same as his bully’s, but it was the same as Harry’s, as well.

The Last Thing Snape Saw Was Lily’s Eyes

Snape Saw Lily In His Death


The Snape and Lily relationship is a tragic one, and Snape’s dying words to Harry only highlight his sorrow. As Snape lies dying from Nagini’s fatal bites, he gives Harry his final memories and says his final words: “Look at me.” It may be confusing at first, but audiences have to remember one very important detail — Harry had Lily’s eyes.


Everything about Harry’s appearance came from James, except his green eyes, which were said by everyone Harry encountered to be the same as Lily’s. In essence, Snape’s dying wish was to look into Lily’s eyes one final time before he passed on in Harry Potter.

  • Harry Potter Franchise Poster

    Harry Potter

    Created by:
    J.K. Rowling

    First Film:
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

    First TV Show:
    Harry Potter

    Cast:
    Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Richard Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Alfred Enoch, Harry Melling, Gary Oldman, Robert Pattinson, Warwick Davis, Oliver Phelps, James Phelps, David Bradley, David Thewlis, Katie Leung, Jason Isaacs, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jamie Campbell Bower, Timothy Spall, Robbie Coltrane, Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Johnny Depp, Mads Mikkelsen

    TV Show(s):
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    Character(s):
    Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Rubeus Hagrid, Dobby the House Elf, Draco Malfoy, Sirius Black, Ginny Weasley, Voldemort

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