I’m refilling the well at the moment, which means I get to do things like go out for coffee and the latest Harry Potter movie. My muse is fed by decaff lattes and boy wizards. Well, actually, to tell you the truth, I’m not so into Harry himself. The HP franchise has given me lots of scope for odd crushes through the years. I’ve gone on record saying I fancy the Weasley twins. (Double yum, though by the way Bill Weasley is really seriously super-hot in the latest film.) I have also fancied Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory (before he was Edward Cullen) and David Tennant as Barty Crouch (before he was Dr Who). I have also suddenly discovered a whole new appreciation of Lucius Malfoy, now that he’s an alcoholic ex-con.
But when I get right down to it, the Harry Potter experience is all about Professor Severus Snape. (Warning—there are some Snape spoilers to follow, if you haven’t read all the books yet.)
Quite aside from the fact that Alan Rickman is sex on legs, it’s the character of Snape who gets me, especially in the last few novels of the series. I love the underdog. I love the bad guy who is really a good guy. I love the tormented genius struggling between his good and evil natures, the honourable man who keeps his word no matter how he’s tempted—and for Snape, keeping his word means that he has to do some truly horrible things. He has to be hounded and villainised by everyone he respects. He has to protect the boy who by nature, he should despise. He has to take the gravest risks of not only his life, but his soul. He has to keep his true thoughts and feelings hidden from absolutely everyone in the world.
And he does it all for love. Unrequited love.
Yup. Snape rules. He’s even better than Dumbledore, in my opinion, because Dumbledore manipulates Harry and everyone else. Snape just does what he has to do. He gets the job done. And he hates it, he moans and broods and gives out detentions, but he does it because he knows it’s right.
I never found the Harry Potter books to be particularly subtle in their plotting or characterisation. But Snape is the exception. Re-reading the penultimate book in the series this week, I could really appreciate how J. K. Rowling leads Harry, and therefore the reader, to believe the worst of Snape, when in fact his actions have another, wholly different interpretation. And though Alan Rickman is hardly in the first part of The Deathly Hallows, the ambiguity is written all over his face.
What does this have to do with romance? Well, I’m always interested in what makes a hero. And Snape is a certain kind of hero, a kind that appeals to me a lot. In a romantic novel he’d wash his hair more frequently, of course, and he’d get the girl in the end. Or maybe not. Because a tragic hero is wonderful, too.
(And having taught school for ten years, I can also really identify with grumpy teachers.)
Come back on Sunday to chat with Anna Louise Lucia, who also has an unhealthy obsession with Severus Snape, though I'm not sure how she feels about the Weasley twins.