There is not much that hasn’t already been written about my next fictional friend. It was easy for me in my head and heart to come up with what I wanted to say, but what I wasn’t expecting was just how hard it was going to be to put into written words what he means to me. Hence the break in my blogging (well, that and the winter Olympics)!
I have been a Harry Potter fan from day one. I pre-ordered the books, waited in line for my copies and devoured them on the spot. I have read them over and over to myself, we have read them out loud as a family, I even have electronic copies of the series on my smartphone. I carry an HP-inspired tattoo that I hope someday to turn into a nice cuff, weaving together several of my favorite themes of the series. I am also geeky enough that I listen to HP themed rock bands such as Riddle TM, The Remus Lupins, The Whomping Willows and Swish and Flick (just to name a few).
Chapter 7, page 126, Severus Snape entered my world with his greasy black hair and hooked nose, and my life has never been the same. What was it about this man that drew me to him? Perhaps it is me asking what I don’t know, perhaps always trying to see the good in everyone, but with book one I just knew that Severus was more than what we were seeing on the surface.
So full disclosure, my obsession with Snape runs deep. People who really know me know it is not a joking matter with me. It has gone so far as to be gifted his wand and a life-sized cardboard cutout. One January 9th (Snape’s birthday), my family threw Severus a surprise birthday party with decorations, cake, and even invited guests. When I got home that night-SURPRISE! I have one friend who refers to him as my fictional lover. I’m okay with that because I do love him, always.
It is now difficult to separate the book character from the brilliant work of the late Alan Rickman. They are woven together into eternity being one and the same. When Mr. Rickman died many of us felt the loss of Professor Snape all over again. Yes, he was a fictional character, but the life lessons that many of us credit him are very, very real. Some lessons like:
It is ok that people don’t like you: Snape was an easy character to hate, from the first time he is introduced. From his description to the way he treated the trio (Harry, Hermione, and Ron), his character was written to misguide us, to put mistrust in him, the reasons behind these choices, of course, become apparent in later books. To put this Snape lesson in other words, “what others think of you is none of your business”.
Loving after Heartbreak: Snape loved Lily and she rejected him for James. Snape made mistakes, big mistakes, even putting her family in danger, but he did everything in his power to protect her. The scene where he is cradling Lily’s body still makes me cry. Nowadays it seems that after a breakup there is SO much hate. Snape shows us that if you truly love someone, you won’t be consumed by hatred when things don’t work out.
How about don’t judge a book by its cover or not all Slytherins are bad: Stereotypes run rampant these days and it is easy to put people (and wizards) into groups based on one trait. Severus was an intelligent, ambitious, clever, caring, giving, loving man, who made the ultimate sacrificed for the woman he loved, protecting her son.
It is never too late to do the right thing: Once again, JK Rowling wrote the character where he had made some big mistakes. Snape spent the rest of his life making amends for them. Risking his own life to make right. This is a running theme in any religion, in any heroes story, and it is one that we need to humble ourselves to honor.
Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes: throughout the books, we see brave acts, some small acts of Neville trying to stop the trio from leaving the common room. To those who gave their lives during the final battle (wiping tears thinking of Remus and Tonks holding hands). People thought Snape was a coward, it is revealed that he was anything but. Harry goes so far as to call him the bravest man he ever knew.
My list goes on and on. Loyalty, that heroes can hide in the most unlikely of places, forgiveness, patience and hard work will pay off (but often goes unappreciated), that sometimes words are not needed and that true love lasts a lifetime.
There will never be another Alan Rickman or another Severus Snape, but hopefully, there will be many more fictional heroes we can learn from and carry with us…