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Harry Potter and Severus Snape's private lessons

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Harry and Snape's lessons
Class information
Professor

Severus Snape

Required textbooks

None

Required equipment

Wand

"The curse that failed to kill you seems to have forged some kind of connection between you and the Dark Lord. The evidence suggests that at times, when your mind is most relaxed and vulnerable - when you are asleep, for instance - you are sharing the Dark Lord's thoughts and emotions. The headmaster thinks it inadvisable for this to continue. He wishes me to teach you how to close your mind to the Dark Lord."
—Severus Snape to Harry Potter in January of 1996.[src]

A short-lived series of private lessons took place after Christmas in the 1995–1996 school year, during which Severus Snape attempted to teach Harry Potter the skill of Occlumency. The lessons began under the insistence of Albus Dumbledore, who believed that Harry's mind was vulnerable to an attack by Lord Voldemort, and so the class was designed to give Harry protection from this type of mind invasion.

Overview

Lessons were given once a week, under the guise of Remedial Potions. This was to prevent other people from finding out about Harry and Voldemort's connection in the minds (or as the Ministry put it at that time, Harry seeing things), least by of all Dolores Umbridge, much to Harry's discomfort. Snape made it clear that everybody who seen Harry in Potions class could not deny that he needs remedial help. Dumbledore himself refused to teach Harry for the fear of leaving an opening for Voldemort to attack the headmaster, though Snape took it as the headmaster has the right to delegate less-enjoyable tasks to other teachers.

Under Snape's tutelage, Harry repeatedly had his mind attacked in order to train him. Snape also ordered Harry to empty his mind every night as practice. Unfortunately, due to the mutual animosity between the teacher and student, Snape was unkind and discouraging in his methods despite his own mastery of the skill, while Harry did not take Snape's lessons too seriously, and neglected to practice. Coupled with Harry being emotionally open at all times, the lessons did not progress much, with only rare instances was Harry able to resist, if only briefly.

Cancellation

The lessons were ultimately cancelled when Harry saw a memory of his father hanging Snape in the air by his ankles and was caught by the Potions master. Snape was so furious at Harry that he threw the boy out of his office and forbade him from ever returning. Despite Sirius Black and Remus Lupin's insistence for Harry to continue, it was never followed through. Harry was ultimately left open for Voldemort's deceptions.

Impact

As Harry was an emotional wizard, he was never able to master Occlumency as a skill. However, he was eventually able to gain a degree of control over the unique connection he shared with Voldemort by focusing on feelings of grief or love, such as those inspired by the deaths of Sirius Black or Dobby.

Behind the scenes

  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, Snape teaches Harry a different spell other than Occlumency in these lessons. In the console and PC versions, it is Focus, while in the handheld versions, it is the Imperius Curse. Despite this, however, he still appears to be using Legilimency to penetrate Harry's mind during these lessons regardless.

Appearances

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