18

During the eventful night at the end of the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry, Ron and Hermione simultaneously cast the Disarming spell at Snape from the Shrieking Shack, sending him flying back and knocking him out.

Hermione rightly observes: “We attacked a teacher. . . . We attacked a teacher . . . ,” and that “Oh, we’re going to be in so much trouble —”

However, events so transpire that Snape was to arrive the triumphant at the school holding the others (except Lupin) bound. But he then tells the Minister who arrives for Sirius that the trio had been Confunded by Sirius, effectively saving them of the charge. This could be seen as a concession in the light of his sense of double triumph, of having done a good job of cornering a most wanted criminal, meriting the Order of Merlin, and of having his 'sweet vengeance' on his arch-nemesis Sirius by showing him his way to peril

But hereafter events transpire in even more unexpected and strange ways that Harry and Hermione manage to let Sirius escape (almost about the same time) leaving no clue as to anything. We know that this caused a severe disappointment for Snape. When Dumbledore also managed to acquit Lupin, he must have been beside himself, for as Lupin said,

"That was the final straw for Severus. I think the loss of the Order of Merlin hit him hard. So he — er — accidentally let slip that I am a werewolf this morning at breakfast."

Now the question is why didn't he implicate the trio now on the charge of attacking him at the Shrieking Shack? That was all he could do now, and Dumbledore could not have easily interfered here, as their wands would have told the truth, via Priori Incantatem. And the Confundment theory was propounded by himself, and could as easily be withdrawn at will.

That Snape recognises all possibilities is beyond doubt as he had said as early as from the Shrieking Shack, “Miss Granger, you are already facing suspension from this school."

So, why did Snape not go on to get them punished, even expelled?

He tells Bellatrix in Half Blood Prince (at Spinner's End) that "I have done my utmost to have him thrown out of Hogwarts, where I believe he scarcely belongs", but the question is, was he telling Bellatrix the truth, or did he really want Harry to be protected inside Hogwarts, besides sincerely wanting him alive?

  • 2
    I'm a little confused about what you're asking. Are you asking why he said they'd been confunded in the first place? Why he didn't change his statement when Sirius escaped? Both? – Anthony Grist Jun 9 '14 at 10:47
  • All three of them definitely attacked Professor Snape on purpose and he knew it as well. Then why didn't he try to get them expelled on the grounds of attacking a teacher when he was trying to save them from a werewolf and an escaped convict - I think that is his question – user13267 Jun 9 '14 at 13:09
  • @AnthonyGrist Yes, the second is what I'm asking. The first could be attributed to concession in the light of his triumph, as mentioned in the question. – N Unnikrishnan Jun 10 '14 at 10:21
11

Snape is deeply conflicted about his feelings towards the son of his school days chief tormenter on one side and the unrequited love of his life on he other. He wants to keep Harry safe for Lily's memory but sees a lot of James in him at the same time. She was the reason he left Voldemort. He knows Harry will be safest in Hogwarts because he will be aware of Dumbledores concerns that Voldemort could still be out there. His threats and attitude toward Harry is an instantly emotional reaction which is tempered over time and I think deep down he would not follow through and actually see Harry put in danger. He also is perhaps going to feel pretty foolish at being overpowered by students so there is possibly a lot of pride going on there as well.

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    I like the point about pride. Add that to the fact that among the students concerned is the son of his school-days rival. The father beat you, the son beat you...Snape is an interesting character but that just sounds...totes loser. XD – VoldemortFan Feb 8 '15 at 11:15
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    Indeed ... Snape is one of the most wonderful and deeply conflicted characters in, well, any writing for a long time. The subject of this particular QA is but one manifestation of this incredible literary device. The whole of Harry Potter is really about Snape. He lived a whole life based on one moment .. he lived a whole life based on one love, if you will. – Fattie Mar 7 '16 at 15:40
17

By the time Snape got hold of them, they were already injured, unconscious, almost attacked by dementors and very vulnerable in the Forbidden Forest. So he took them to the hospital wing. Moreover, by the time Harry and others gained consciousness in the hospital wing, they were already surrounded by other teachers and the Minister, who were thinking Snape was the one who saved them. So it's also a matter of personal reputation for him, which was why he didn't punish them outright. He would rather appear as a hero in front of the Minister for fighting back a werewolf and apprehending a dangerous loose criminal, than punish children when they were so weak and injured. He also had an explanation for their behavior by this time, that they had been confunded while in the Shrieking Shack (so they seemed to think Peter Pettigrew is alive and Sirius Black is innocent).

  • Snape believed that Harry was in danger, like Fudge did at the Leakey Cauldron. Besides Snape was concentrating on Sirius and Lupin. – user35971 Oct 8 '15 at 3:53
9

In his attempt to defame Sirius and making the case against him even more concrete, Snape had also said this to Minister of Magic that the trio had actually started believing the convict murderer and as per Snape's words, the trio were under Imperious curse casted on them by Sirius. This conversation happened when Ministry had recaptured Sirius and the trio was lying in the Hospital Wing.

Snape knew perfectly well that he can play only one card. Either blame the trio for attacking him or blame Sirius by telling the minister that he had casted an unforgivbale curse on the trio. Snape thought the latter was a better option and will ensure Dementer's Kiss to Sirius and opted for it. Little did he knew that Harry would go back in time to release Sirius :)

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    this is the correct answer with one exception. Snape himself stated (explained away) the reason the trio is defending Black is that he (Black) had them Confunded - not Imperiused - but, more than the other answers, this hits the textual nail on the head that Snape thought them under Black's control and not acting or thinking on their own – NKCampbell Oct 25 '17 at 14:09
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    @NKCampbell I'm not convinced that Snape actually believed they'd been Confunded. It's an easy way to explain their belief that Sirius is innocent, which means there's no reason to take anything they say on that topic seriously. Snape seemed to hate Sirius more than he hated Harry (though possibly not as much as he hated James), so I can easily see him letting Harry off if it guarantees Sirius receives the Dementor's Kiss. – Anthony Grist Oct 25 '17 at 17:16

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