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There's been something I've been trying to get my head around ever since I first read Deathly Hallows. When Dumbledore asks Snape if he has grown to care for Harry, Snape shows him his patronus in answer (doesn't he also say "always?"). I know this is Lily's patronus, but how does this relate to how Snape feels about Harry? It's not that I'm questioning whether Snape cared for Harry, because I believe that he did, I just don't get how Snape is using his patronus to answer Dumbledore's question about his feelings for Harry, since the doe could just be about Lily. Thanks! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Kdua100 (talkcontribs) 22:21, 12 April 2009.

“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?” “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.”

Snape's 'him' is italicized, and then he produces a Patronus the same of Lily Potter's. This indicated that Snape cared for Lily, and cared for Harry because Lily would have wanted it. 

Then, Dumbledore asked, "After all this time?"

I think he was asking whether Snape had this Patronus for the 17 years Lily was dead, whether it changed, whether his loyalty to Lily ever wavered.

"Always," Snape responded. Snape has cared for Lily since knowing her. 

I actually think that the Patronus was used as a way not to answer Dumbledore's question. In the scene, Snape had just learnt that Harry would have to die for Voldemort to be defeated, and that Dumbledore had known this all along. Snape, distressed by this revelation (the text describes him as looking "horrified"), had harsh words for Dumbledore:
"I have spied for you, and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter –"
"But this is touching, Severus," said Dumbledore seriously. "Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?"
"For him? shouted Snape. "Expecto Patronum!"
Rather than answer Snape's accusations, Dumbledore spun things back on Snape, effectively dismissing everything he had said. So, in a way, the Patronus was simply tit-for-tat — Dumbledore refused to answer Snape's accusation, so Snape refused to answer Dumbledore's. But more than that, I think Dumbledore hit a raw nerve. I agree that Snape cared for Harry, despite having an intense personal dislike for the boy, but I think that this was the last thing he wanted to admit to Dumbledore (or, moreover, himself). In Snape's mind, revealing his true feelings to Dumbledore would probably be equivalent to handing Dumbledore yet another weapon with which to manipulate him, so I think he summoned the Patronus to distract Dumbledore from making any further inquiries involving Harry. The Patronus seemed to prove, beyond question, that Snape only cared for Lily.
However, this is just my own interpretation, and may not be how Rowling intended the scene to be read. Starstuff (Owl me!) 02:12, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't think Snape is using the patronus to answer Dumbledore's question about whether he cares for Harry. I think he casts it to contradict Dumbledore when he says that Snape has grown to care for Harry. He casts the Patronus to show Albus that he still loves Lily, and that he is doing it all for him, that's also why there are the italics. Margiechocoholic 13:15, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

So, after he conjures the patronus, why does he say "always" if he doesn't mean that he cares for Harry as well as Lily?

I think he is showing Albus that he still loves Lilly, by showing him his patronus proves that, therefore he cares for Harry. Also, Harry's patronus is a stag, Snape's a doe, each are one half a a whole so to speak. Therefore his answer is plain and simple. Yes, I care for the boy. This is only my opinion though. - Becksibee_From_Gryffindor

It's interesting how in the Harry Potter books, expressing loyalty to someone has very real, tangible results. This seems to be a recurring theme:

  • When Harry, in the Chamber of Secrets, declared his loyalty to Dumbledore, Fawkes came to Harry's aid (carrying the sword and hat).
  • When Severus, in the Headmaster's office, declared his loyalty to Harry and Lily, he conjures a full, corporeal Patronus to go help Harry. The patronus later directed Harry to the same sword.

I'm sure you can find other examples of tangible, efficacious loyalty.


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