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Although the reader is initially meant to believe otherwise, Snape essentially helps Harry and directly fights Voldemort's return in book 1 by opposing Quirrel's actions.

How could he justify this to Voldemort when becoming one of his followers after his return? And why would Voldemort believe whatever explanation he gives, since surely returning must have been his top priority at the time?

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marked as duplicate by Jason Baker, Ward, CHEESE, Matt Gutting, Null Mar 24 at 18:46

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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I hope there's a user named Snape and he comments: "Do you really think that the Dark Lord has not asked me each and every one of those questions?" – Krumia Mar 24 at 7:40
    
@mikeazo I don't think it's the same question, although closely related. I asked how Snape would have explained himself, not why Voldemort didnt suspect him of doing so (which he probably did). – Numrok Mar 24 at 17:26
    
@Numrok, true. The accepted answers are pretty close to the same. – mikeazo Mar 24 at 17:35
    
@mikeazo true too :) – Numrok Mar 24 at 20:25
up vote 71 down vote accepted

Snape answers this, and many other questions regarding his DE activities, at the beginning of HBP, when Bellatrix accuses him of disloyalty.

"Do you really think that the Dark Lord has not asked me each and every one of those questions? And do you really think that, had I not been able to give satisfactory answers, I would be sitting here talking to you?”

(snip)

“I think you next wanted to know,” he pressed on, a little more loudly, for Bellatrix showed every sign of interrupting, “why I stood between the Dark Lord and the Philospher's Stone. That is easily answered. He did not know whether he could trust me. He thought, like you, that I had turned from faithful Death Eater to Dumbledore’s stooge. He was in a pitiable condition, very weak, sharing the body of a mediocre wizard. He did not dare reveal himself to a former ally if that ally might turn him over to Dumbledore or the Ministry. I deeply regret that he did not trust me. He would have returned to power three years sooner. As it was, I saw only greedy and unworthy Quirrell attempting to steal the stone and, I admit, I did all I could to thwart him.

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How does this explain protecting Harry during Quidditch? Did Voldemort just never learn it was Snape performing the counter-curse? – Keen Mar 23 at 20:20
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Quirrel knew, he says so in his final moments, so Voldemort knew too. He says something like 'If Snape wasn't doing counter curses I would have killed you there. Which would probably not be true, he later gets saved once falling of his broom by Dumbledore. – Don_Biglia Mar 23 at 20:32
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Snape protecting Harry in Quidditch can be answered because a) it's his job (he needed to keep this cover) and b) if he believed Voldemort would return, he would surely know that Voldemort would want to kill Harry himself. – ThruGog Mar 23 at 21:36
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@Numrok We go back to: Snape can happily deny he realised Quirrell was paired with Voldemort. Snape could simply suggest that for all he knew, a teacher was trying to kill one of the students, and that was that, and Snape was preventing it, as any teacher would reasonably do. What more was there to do? It's not Snape's job to assassinate Harry. – doppelgreener Mar 24 at 2:33
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@doppelgreener hits the nail on the head with his last sentence there. It's not Snape's job to assassinate Harry. Snape is not Bellatrix - he doesn't fanatically hold on to Voldemort after V is "killed". He's not Malfoy - he doesn't try to pretend he never gave up hope. Snape is brave enough to straight up admit to Voldemort that he'd given up on him and moved on, and as such had no reason to let Quirrel kill Harry. I suspect this pragmatism/bravery is the reason Voldemort respects - as much as he can respect anyone - Snape. – DavidS Mar 24 at 11:43

Besides Snape's answer to Voldemort, there is also a hint as to how confusing things had been for Death Eaters after Voldemort vanished, and many thought the boy who lived could have been a new dark lord. There was a quote from the books implying this:

"I should remind you that when Potter first arrived at Hogwarts there were still many stories circulating about him, rumors that he himself was a great Dark wizard, which was how he had survived the Dark Lord's attack. Indeed, many of the Dark Lords old followers thought Potter might be a standard around which we could all rally once more. I was curious, I admit it, and not at all inclined to murder him the moment he set fool in the castle."

-- Severus Snape, HP and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 2

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I think I found the quote you were looking for. – Rand al'Thor Mar 23 at 18:06
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That's it, thanks! :) – Ram Mar 23 at 19:13
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@randal'thor I wasn't going to put an edit in for a single word, but you put 'fool' instead of 'foot'. – Trasiva Mar 24 at 15:37
    
@Trasiva He set a fool in the castle - a fool by the name of Ronald. – Rand al'Thor Mar 24 at 18:52
    
@randal'thor I'll be damned. You win...again. – Trasiva Mar 24 at 20:43

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