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Magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable

by David Haber

At the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore describes the life that Peter Pettigrew owes Harry as "magic at its deepest, it's most impenetrable". But who else the in Harry Potter books might owe Harry a life ? And are life and Unbreakable Vows related?

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Reader Comments: (Page 7)

Severus never stopped being a Eater, neither do I think he's ever stopped opposing him either. Sounds strange?

Snape is a Eater. 100%. He clearly showed that when he ed Albus Dumbledore without hesitation (no, I don't support the Dumbledore is not theory, despite the clues). However...

I also do believe that Severus Snape has worked as a spy for Dumbledore throughout all this time. Severus is very good at Occlumency, perhaps good enough to fool both Riddle and Dumbledore.

To whom is he fully loyal? Neither.

Posted by Rane from Sweden on December 20, 2006 05:13 AM

well, to comment on what Rane said just here, i think he has a very good point. it could well be that snape is loyal to neither AD or LV. it might be that he has his own agenda, and is just playing both sides to his benefits.

Posted by Bart v. Dongen from Strijen, The Netherlands on December 21, 2006 02:00 AM

I have to respectfully disagree with what Bart said about Snape playing both sides. I can't believe that Snape could be powerful enough to fool BOTH AD and LV for all of these years w/o somebody catching on. If that were the case, he would essentially have to be more powerful than either one.

Posted by Allyson from Kalamazoo, MI on December 21, 2006 7:58 PM

Allyson - Maybe, maybe not.

Severus is a complex character and Joanne loves playing around with him, tossing him here and there. There's still sides of him we haven't seen yet.

Severus is really good at Occlumency, most likely the best one aside from Dumbledore in Hogwarts (why would Albus appoint Severus to teach Harry if he wasn't the best?).

I believe Remus (or Sirius) says this to Harry when he's talking to them through the fire (book 5):

"Snape knew more curses and jinxes than many of the 7th years when he first arrived at the school"

He's talented. No doubt about it. More talented than Albus Dumbledore and Tom Riddle? No. But keep in mind, Riddle and Dumbledore have lived for much longer. Severus has many years ahead of him, something that Riddle - and obviously Dumbledore - hasn't.

Posted by Rane from Sweden on December 24, 2006 3:37 PM

I agree wholly with almost everything that's been written here. There are so many interesting versions an ideas that it's hard to tell which one Rowling has in mind.

I think that life s are owed to Harry by: Pettigrew, Sirius (although he's ), and Severus. I don't think Voldy has the same connection, but maybe they are connected, just in a different way. First of all, remember the sister wands. That's already saved Harry's life once. Secound of all, Harry's blood runs in Voldy's veins as well - does that mean that they are like blood brothers or something? Maybe Lily's blood can't run in the veins of two people and that's what the prophecy meant all along.

Posted by Diana from Vancouver, BC on December 25, 2006 08:51 AM

I love this theory. For months and months the fact that Peter Pettigrew owes Harry his life has been rolling aroun d in my head along with the fact that Snape owes his life to Harry in some fashion. But the thing is, Snape never really did fulfill the at the Quidditch match in the first book because Hermione was the one who stopped Quirrell from finishing the curse, setting Snapes robes on fire. On the very first page of Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces) in Philosopher's Stone Quirrell says:

"No, no, no. I tried to you. Your friend Miss Granger accidentaly knocked me over as she rushed to set fire to Snape at that Qudditch match. She broke my eye contact with you. Another few seconds and I'd have got you off that broom. I'd have managed it before then if Snape hadn't been muttering a counter-curse, trying to save you." (pg 209 in the british version)

Quirrell only says that he would have managed to get Harry off the broom long before if Snape hadn't been muttering the counter curse.So you see, despite Snape muttering the counter-curse, it was, infact Hermione who saved Harry from Quirrell at the Quidditch match. Which would mean that Snape still has a life- to pay to Harry.

This would, infact mean that two people still have life-s to pay to Harry.

Posted by Paige from Hamilton, Ontario on December 26, 2006 12:07 PM

I don't think that life-s are passed on with blood, but by love. I think that Snape owes James a life since James saved Snape's life. To pay back the life , Snape has to save the life of James or someone that James loved. Since James is , it would seem that the only living people fitting this description are Harry, Remus, and Sirius.

This way, it would actually be "paying back" James. If it were passed by blood, then Peter and Snape could owe Voldemort a life (though the blood was stolen blood, which could be excluded in the terms of a life ). This would lead to counter-s, which would probably cancel each other out and therefore make the whole thing pointless. And if it were pointless, it wouldn't be in the story.

Some may say that Snape could pay back his life to James by saving Dumbledore, but Dumbledore is loved by Harry, not James. I think it has to be a direct relationship.

So why did Snape Dumbledore? I think he did it because he thought that Dumbledore couldn't protect Harry, and he could use ing Dumbledore as a way to secure Voldemort's trust. He could definitely pay back his by slaying Voldemort himself, and to do that he needs to be close to Voldemort. I also don't think Snape likes Voldemort anyway, and secretly wants to do away with him.

This probably doesn't make sense, though.

Posted by Phillip from Marina, California on December 27, 2006 12:10 AM

I think Snape is loyal Dumbledore. I love the theory that AD AND Snape have a life . I though this all along. Why elese would AD call for Snape at the end of The Half Blood Prince? I think he knew he was weak and he wanted Snape to help him. Now here is a theory of mine. Did Snape actually him? Is it possible that Snape spilt his soul ONCE? SO that he could help Snape and Harry in the 7th book to destroy LV.

Posted by Cindy from Griffin Ga. on December 28, 2006 2:54 PM

Ultimately, yes I believe that Snape deliberatly ed Albus Dumbledore but I doubt that he'd make a Horcrux out of it (if that was what you were talking about)

The of Albus Dumbledore , of course, be mentioned several times through DH (book 7, start abbreviating it already) and most likely play the role as Riddle's cue to go out and do exactly as he pleases. However, I doubt that Albus return in some, other than through the portrait in the Headmasters office.

The little ones decide the outcome of this...

Posted by Anonymous on December 29, 2006 05:56 AM

How can an Unbreakable Vow be broken?

Snape's twitching suggests that he knows he not have to keep at least this part of the Unbreakable Vow. I'd guess also that he knew he would be expected to make this Vow so this would not have come as a surprise to him. It can't have been just to do with the form of words used at the time - too much co-incidence. So Snape was somehow protected from the consequences. How?

Because he had previously made another Unbreakable Vow that conflicted with it.

Think about it. If you make two conflicting Unbreakable Vows it can't be the last one that wins (as then the first one wouldn't be Unbreakable), so it must be the first.

So Snape had an earlier Vow - probably with Dumbledore. Bet that is why Dumbledore trusts him so much.

Posted by Paul from Weston-super-Mare,UK on December 30, 2006 01:10 AM

Snape is by far the most fasinating character. He is one of my favorites, but only b/c deep down i feel he's still good.

What if DD and Snape made an unbreakable vow very long ago (maybe even soon after Snape expressed his remorse about james and lily's s---after all he tells DD that he can no longer trust Voldy b/c he ed Snape's true love). Perhaps the vow was meant for Snape to be loyal to DD forever no matter what, to protect Harry at all costs, and DD when the time comes. (By the way, who was Snape and DD's bonder? That would be interesting---you do need a bonder, don't you? Bet they would have some info.)

Anyway, when narcissa arrives Snape doesn't mind making another vow b/c he already has a plan w/ DD. He knows the first plan is always the dominant plan. It only makes sense that way.

I really think DD planned for Snape to him w/in the year---he new the Defense against the Dark arts teacher can only stay around for a year. Whether DD comes back or not (i hope he does in some form), Snape is now free to get closer to Voldy and when the times comes for Harry to Voldy, Snape be there to assist or sacrifice himself. It may only be right at the final moment that Haryy realizes that snape was truly good.

About life s. There are alot of people who owe their life to Harry. Most of the Weasly's...Pettigrew...Fleurs sister...any others? Don't know what this mean for Harry, but he have alot of suporters. Pettigrew probably need to for Harry (OK, that's just me hoping).

Posted by Heather from New Jersey on December 30, 2006 7:30 PM

Who was the Bonder for Snape and Dumbledore?

Who do we know that was around at the time of Lily's and James' s and has consistently told Harry (because he knows!) that Snape can be trusted? It's Rubeus Hagrid.

So why hasn't the notoriously loose-tongued Hagrid told Harry this? Because an Unbreakable Vow actually binds two people - but not the pair you would expect: the Vower to keep the vow and the Bonder to silence. This makes some sort of magical logic, as if a Vow got known about the person making it could be manipulated/threatened in all sorts of unpleasant ways.

Now, this raises a new question I hadn't thought of before. What is the role of the third person - the one the Vow is made to? In the only example we've seen, Snape is the Vower, Bellatrix is Bonder - but what does Narcissa bring to the party? I know she asks for the Vow, but why does she need to take part in the spell?

Three possibilities spring to mind, any of which could be relevant(or, of course, completely untrue!):
(1) that no Vow can last forever, and a Vower is released from their obligation on the of the Vowee
(2) that only the Vowee can release the Vower from the Vow
(3) perhaps most interesting - that it is the Vowee's knowledge of a breach of a Vow that triggers the penalty, so that if the Vowee is mistaken or misled about the outcome the Vow penalty not take effect.

Interesting plot possibilities in all three I think.

Incidentally, it seems likely that V has Unbreakable Vows with all of his followers. Although he is not the crispest cookie in the pantry this would seem a sensible precaution to take. Which explains why it is so hard to infiltrate his ranks, and suggests that it is some deep conflict between his Vow to V and his life to James that has enabled Snape to be (if you like him) or be used as (if you don't) a double-agent.

So the next question is - what does it mean to break alife and what are the consequences if you do?

Any ideas folks?

Posted by Paul from Weston-super-Mare, UK on December 30, 2006 11:19 PM

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