HP Theory -- Snape: The Last Marauder

I'll be seeing the very last Harry Potter movie tomorrow (well, technically Friday, but 12:04 still feels like part of tomorrow!) with my girl Disdainbrook, and we decided to commemorate the series that so many of us grew up with with a pair of HP theory posts. You'll probably want to start with Kaitlin's post about the nature of sorting, and then come back here to check mine out for a little HP Theory 201. I'll wait! (If the text-heavy isn't really your style, check out the Hogwarts house inspired outfits I created in honor of Deathly Hallows part 1!)

One of the things that English majors and fangirls alike love to do is imagine "what if" scenarios. By taking what we know about a story and using that to twist it, think of something different, you can learn so much more about it. In English majordom, this is all very academic and rooted in literary theory and usually has words like "exemplify" and lots of footnotes. Luckily, this isn't academia, this is fandom, so it's all just for funsies.

Image via fanpop.com

So, if we believe that the Sorting is primarily based on choice (which I think Kaitlin pretty clearly proves), it stands to reason that Snape could just as easily been a Gryffindor. Lily would have been sorted before him, and his passion for her is what drives him throughout the entire series--it's not hard to imagine that he would have wished more fervently than anything to be sorted into the same house as she was. Peter Pettigrew is in no way shape or form a Gryffindor (seriously, he seems to be a clear case of sorting for narrative ease, which is just lazy), so we'll dispense with him. His role in the Marauders, the toady, the fanboy, would be easily filled by Snape.

After all, our bitterest hatred is often reserved for those we're most jealous of. If he was placed in the same dormitory as James Potter, slept next to him, ate with him, studied with him...it's possible that the hatred we saw would have instead blossomed as admiration for a boy who was handsome and carefree, as Snape would have wanted for himself. Being close to who we want to be is the next best thing, right? Plus, with Snape's obvious innate talent for magic--his prowess in potions and especially his gift for developing his own spells--he could certainly win the admiration of a pair of pranksters like James and Sirius. And Lupin, we know, had no special animosity towards Snape. They could have been friends.

The subject of Lily is really where this alternate timeline becomes interesting. The text says that Lily and Snape fell out over his interest in the Dark Arts. As a Gryffindor with other (presumably more light-hearted) outlets, would they have been able to develop their friendship into the more romantic relationship Snape longed for? Or, when all of his energies and yearnings for acceptance and adequacy were not focused on one single woman as his symbol of goodness, would his obsession with her have dissipated, allowing them to be true friends?

Let's assume for the sake of canon that James and Lily are meant to be together and would get together, even in this shifted universe. That's a pain and a betrayal of a whole different kind for Snape; this time, it's his friend (and in many ways his ideal self) "taking" the object of his affections from him. He would be expected to stay quiet, even congratulate James in his pursuit of Lily, all the while lusting after her. Would he be self-possessed enough to make his conflict known? The Snape we know is an intensely private person, and for all that he is entirely (I would argue) driven by selfish wants, he keeps these wants to himself. (Note that in this context, selfish is not necessarily a negative thing. Only that past any desire for good, evil, knowledge, whatever, Snape is propelled by his self, his own personal desires.) He wouldn't necessarily know how to move out of the supporting role in the Marauders, where he's expected to be a yes-man for James and Sirius, the "leads."

But if our Gryffindor!Snape was pushed this far, perhaps as far as the canonical Snape was, he could not go the same route as canonical Snape. He doesn't have the Dark Arts knowledge that his Slytherin self had, none of the Dark connections...in short, he would be lost. Of course, I would hope that his interactions with lively people (especially Sirius Black, who I think would have an important lesson for Snape about separating yourself from your heritage and being your own person) would make recognizing that Lily never felt the same way he did easier and give him the ability to move on.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this theory! Kaitlin and I have talked about it a million times, and it's great to hear new perspectives. Other points of interest: If Gryffindor!Snape was as skilled at Potions as his canonical self, could he have brewed a Wolfsbane potion for Lupin that would have eliminated the need for the Marauders to become Animagi? If not, what Animagus form might Snape have taken? If Snape was a Marauder, it can be assumed that Peter Pettigrew would have taken his place in Slytherin--how would that have affected him?

I know this is a bit of a departure for FK, but hey, it's Harry Potter. Also, my Sock Dreams giveaway deadline has been extended to midnight tonight (CST). You've still got a chance to win the $20 giftcard!

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