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So, as the title says, does Rowling give us any hints about Snape's true allegiance in Deathly Hallows?

I am explicitly asking about DH, since in the other books we're not thinking of him as the ultimate antagonist, but rather annoying teacher of Harry's, that he has to cope with.

I'm talking about small details, that one would overlook when reading the book for the first time. One example I can think of is when Snape gives Ginny, Neville and Luna the punishment of going into the Dark Forest with Hagrid, for trying to steal the Gryffindor's sword. At first it was just a peculiar, but later it was revealed that Snape actually swore to defend Hogwarts students in Dumbledore's absence. Which makes sense, the alternative punishment would involve the Carrows for sure, and it would be much more severe.

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    I think the example you give is the only one that a first-time reader could, in theory, figure out. There's also the doe Patronus that leads Harry to the hidden sword, but connecting that with Snape isn't actually possible unless you already know the secret – Jason Baker Mar 7 '15 at 18:10
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I can think of four, but they are very subtle, which isn't a surprise since Snape's all about subtlety (“You have no subtlety, Potter,” said Snape, his dark eyes glittering. “You do not understand fine distinctions...).

  1. As the asker and Alex have already identified, Snape's leniency toward Ginny, Luna, and Neville.
  2. Snape somehow did not reveal the location of 12 Grimmauld Place to the Death Eaters. I still don't understand how he pulled this one off since Voldemort and the rest of his DEs definitely knew that Snape had that knowledge.
  3. During the Sacking of Severus Snape chapter of book 7, we are led to believe that Snape wanted McGonagall to turn over Harry to him so he can give Harry up to Voldemort. However, Snape really wanted Harry to tell him the "Prince's Tale," which was everything Dumbledore told Snape to tell Harry at the end.
  4. Finally, in the Shrieking Shack (The Elder Wand chapter) Snape sees Nagini in his protective bubble. This was the telltale sign Dumbledore told Snape to look out for, at which point Snape should definitely tell Harry what he had to do to finish Voldemort. You will remember that Snape was desperate for Voldemort to send him back to fight and to find Harry. Of course, if Voldemort had dismissed Snape then, Snape would have tried to find Harry to tell him what to do to end Voldemort. Alas, Voldy had other ideas.

As I said, these hints are very subtle but certainly there. JK Rowling is a genius.

  • @randal'thor We are talking about during DH, when he was indeed one of the Secret Keepers, after Dumbledore's death. Which meant he could reveal it. – Mermish Essence Mar 8 '15 at 18:37
  • If Snape didn't reveal it, how come there were death eaters stationed outside Grimmauld Place? – rah4927 Mar 9 '15 at 12:03
  • Didn't someone place some kind of extra curse to stop Snape telling? A ghostly Dumbledore or something? Been a while since I read DH. – DavidS Mar 9 '15 at 16:14
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    Oh, and an extremely late in the game hint - Snape's password to his office was "Dumbledore". – DavidS Mar 9 '15 at 16:16
  • @DavidS Good one with the Dumbledore password. A tongue-tying curse wouldn't have prevented him from revealing the location. You really don't even need to say the secret out loud. He could have written it down, or better yet, shown it to them. – Mermish Essence Mar 9 '15 at 18:06
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I can't think of anything.

But I think there are two very small clues worth briefly mentioning:

  • His leniency towards Ginny, Luna and Neville.

    Once you know Snape's true loyalties, this scene becomes obvious. But I think it's too subtle for a first-time reader to notice, because we're given a very plausible reason for his apparent leniency:

    “Snape might’ve thought that was a punishment,” said Harry, “but Ginny, Neville, and Luna probably had a good laugh with Hagrid. The Forbidden Forest… they’ve faced plenty worse than the Forbidden Forest, big deal!”

    Deathly Hallows, chapter 15 (The Goblin’s Revenge)

    We later find out that this isn't the case, but there's no way to tell on a first read. I think you'd be clutching at straws to use this as proof of his loyalties without other evidence.

  • Snape's doe patronus.

    This is a clear reference to Lily, but it would be difficult for a first-time reader to notice.

    However, there was a popular fan theory before Deathly Hallows was published that Snape and Lily knew each other as children, and might have been friends at school. This forum thread lists a lot of the evidence and/or ideas that were used in support of this theory: http://thehpn.net/theforum/showthread.php?tid=118

    If you were completely bought into this theory, then you might guess that Snape was responsible for the doe patronus. It adds a little more weight to the Snape/Lily theory, but I don't think you'd pick it up if you weren't already invested in this idea. And once you have the idea that Snape had feelings for Lily, it's not so hard to guess that his true loyalty is with Dumbledore.

    But I imagine this clue was missed by the majority of readers: most people aren’t heavily involved in fandom, and even those who were could easily have missed it.

  • The asker already identified Snape's leniency toward Ginny, Luna, and Neville in his answer. Snape's Patronus isn't much of a clue since no one would get it, especially people like me who don't read fan fictions. – Mermish Essence Mar 8 '15 at 8:29

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