In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book, Severus says:

But never - never tell, Dumbledore! This must be between us! Swear it! I cannot bear... especially Potter's son... I want your word!

Dumbledore replies:

My word, Severus, that I shall never reveal the best of you?

Dumbledore asked Severus to protect Lily's son, (this is Severus's response) so I'm guessing this is the "best" of him? Instead of making a whole new question about the same subject, can anyone confirm this, if not tell me what the "best" of Severus is? He also said, "especially Potter's son," can anyone include why he said this as well in their answer?

Anyway, why did Severus not want the best of him revealed? And what is the "best" of Severus?

  • 9
    He has a reputation to maintain after all ...
    – user16696
    Dec 28, 2014 at 7:09

3 Answers 3


The best of Severus is his love for Lily - he loved her, truly and honestly, even after she'd rejected him and chosen James. It's in keeping with Dumbledore's belief that Love is the most powerful magic that he should respect the value of Snape's unrequited love for Lily.

But that love was unrequited, and rejected, and lost out in favor of... James Potter. Is it surprising that Snape would not want his weakness, his love for Lily, to be revealed to her son by the man who wooed and won where Snape failed? He doesn't say "especially Harry," or "especially Potter," he says "especially Potter's son."

Snape doesn't do it for Harry, he does it for Lily:

'For him?' shouted Snape. 'Expecto Patronum!'

From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: she landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

'After all this time?'

'Always,' said Snape.

To have this revealed would be to expose his weakness and his loss. To love after there is no hope of return? To love when spurned in favor of someone who you revile? To love the memory for years after loss? To love despite all that is a terrible, terrible weakness. A hard enough one for Snape to bear, even without it being revealed.

  • 19
    I might also add that the revelation of Snape's love of Lily might also cast suspicion on his level of loyalty to Voldemort.
    – phantom42
    Dec 28, 2014 at 2:53
  • Overall, he didn't want his love for Lily to be revealed, because he didn't want people to think that he had failed? (more or less; for people to laugh at him?) That he failed, and that James won Lily? And the best, being that Snape actually had love inside of him?
    – Jake
    Dec 28, 2014 at 20:58
  • 1
    Yes, the best was that he had that love inside of him. I don't think he feared being laughed at, or his failure being shown - both those things happened in his life often enough. He didn't want to expose what were intense personal feelings (most people don't!). He didn't have Lily, she never loved him in return, all he had was his love for her. It was for himself that he wanted others not to know; to leave for himself the privacy of his exceptional feelings.
    – gowenfawr
    Dec 28, 2014 at 21:15
  • related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/30544/…
    – Ender
    Dec 28, 2014 at 23:17
  • Not to mention that Voldemort's connection to Harry meant that he would have had to be kept in the dark regardless, lest Snape be found out. Dec 29, 2014 at 3:07

It was because of his hatred.

Snape loathed James. The handsome, popular pure-blood who tormented him and still managed to steal away the woman he loved. That any part of James Potter (even his son) might like him, might feel indebted and try to be kind or even befriend him, Snape could not stand that.

But even more so, Snape hated himself. He rejected his Muggle half, and he betrayed the woman he loved twice. He pushed her into the arms of the person he hated most. That any part of Lily Evans (even her son) might pity him, might forgive him, Snape could not stand that.

Ultimately, Snape was punishing Harry for being James son, and himself for Lily's death.


Revealing how he felt about Lily, might expose him and her to more danger from Voldemort. He had to hide so many feelings in order to be a good double agent.

Has anyone ever loved so deeply and they didn't want others to know? I've known that feeling.

He was loyal and I don't think that he wanted anyone to know that about him. He didn't want to acknowledge that he ever was capable of love.

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