But I mean...
If you haven't read the books, you've seen the movies.
A world in black and white.
Snape was one of the most infamous Death Eaters during Voldemort's three year reign of terror, serving as one of Voldemort's most accomplished spies, as well as the Death Eater who told "He-who-must-not-be-named" about the prophecy that would lead to his demise.
After Voldemort's failed assassination of Harry Potter, Snape would seemingly which sides, pledging allegiance to the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore.
For the next decade, Snape would begrudgingly slave away as the Potions Master and head of the Slytherin house, until 1991, when the boy who lived began attending his school.
Over the next 5 years, Snape would humiliate and harass the young Harry Potter, picking him and his friends out for punishment at every opportunity.
Every year, Snape would be suspiciously close to several failed attempts by the Death Eaters to bring Voldemort back to life, each time, proving not to be the real bad guy.
That is, until the end of his fifth year as a teacher, when Peter Pettigrew and Barty Crough Jr. managed to trick Harry Potter and finally resurrect the Dark Lord.
The year after that, as a group of Death Eaters managed to sneak into Hogwarts through one of the vanishing cabinets in the Room of Requirement, and cornered both Harry and Dumbledore at the top of the astronomy tower. When Snape finally showed up, he briefly paralyzed Harry before killing Dumbledore, despite his pleading for help.
The year after that, with the majority of the Order of the Phoenix in hiding, Severus appointed himself the headmaster of Hogwarts. As headmaster, he was able to keep a close eye on whoever may have been loyal to Albus, as well as having the Sword of Gryffindor, a weapon capable of destroying horcruxes hidden in the seemingly unbreakable Gringotts Bank.
Finally, when Harry returned and, with the help of the heads of houses, confronted Snake, he was forced to retreat back to his master, who was preparing to attack.
Of course, Voldemort being Voldemort, he turned on Snape when it became convenient.
The Dark Lord was under the impression that since Snape had been the one to kill Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower, he would be the rightful owner of the final Deathly Hallow, the Elder Wand. He was wrong, of course, as Draco had been the one to disarm Dumbledore.
It's pretty cut and dry, right?
Severus Snape was a coward who always did what was convenient to him. He was a creep, a bully, and worst of all, a traitor.
Outside of Voldemort, Snape may have been the most evil wizard to ever live...
Or... So it would seem.
For some of you, everything I just said will ring true.
You'll remember the Snape you were groomed to hate in almost all of the Harry Potter movies, and even a few of the books.
You'll remember how he would go out of his way to antagonize poor Harry and his friends.
You'll remember that when poor Neville Longbottom was asked what scared him the most, he didn't say Voldemort, he didn't say basilisks, he said "P-professor Snape."
You'll even remember that the greasy snake was the one who killed Dumbledore.
It's hard to have any sympathy for a guy like that...
This article isn't called "Scoundrel Snape"
As the beloved Sirius Black once said, "Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are."
I've told you the story that's easy to read.
I've told you the story that I think an unfortunate percentage of the fans believe pretty wholeheartedly.
Let me tell you another story.
Let me tell you the story that I think J.K. Rowling wanted you to know.
Severus Snape was born in a bad suburb of Cokeworth, England on January 6th, 1960 to parents Tobias and Eileen Snape.
Eileen was, if unspeakably plain looking, an exceptionally talented wizard, while Tobias was a mere muggle.
It's believed that Eileen and Tobias fought for a great deal of Severus' youth, including verbal and physical abuse.
As is the case for any child that is raised in such an environment, Severus was not well cared for, and was often seen wearing "ridiculously mismatched clothes that were far too large."
As an awkward, introverted kid, Snape obviously didn't make friends very easily.
That was until he met a very kind girl named Lily Evans, who also happened to be a witch.
Lily was very kind to Severus and became his first real friend, and in his heart, much, much more.
Lily would become the best part of Snape's life until he finally left for Hogwarts in 1971.
It was on the Hogwarts Express that Snape had his first encounter with Sirius Black and James Potter.
It was a very rough conversation for Severus, as the two pure-blooded wizards picked on him.
James was very proud, perhaps to the point of arrogance as he declared his interest in being sorted into Gryffindor just like his father was.
"Gryffindor! where dwell the brave of heart! Like my dad, got a problem with that?" James boasted.
"No, if you'd rather be brawny than brainy-" Snape retorted.
"Where are you hoping to go, since you're neither" Sirius had snorted.
At the sorting ceremony, Snape begged to get sorted into Slytherin, just so he could get away from his new rivals, but much to his chagrin, Lily joined James and Sirius in Gryffindor.
Time passed as Snape found a sense of family among Slytherins, who, if different, at least accepted him.
James and Sirius, joined by Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin, would continue to harass Snape for the duration of his time at Hogwarts, often using spells that he had invented against him. At the most innocent, they would just mock his greasy hair and studious habits, and at the worst, Sirius intentionally sent Snape to the Shrieking Shack, where he knew Lupin would be a ravenous werewolf.
On one such instance, Lily actually tried to interfere with James' bullying, but after James finally let up, Snape was so embarrassed that he called Lily a "mudblood," forever severing their friendship.
Finally, in their last year together at Hogwarts, Lily and James started dating and any hope Snape ever had was dashed.
After Hogwarts, Snape stuck around with the only people who had ever accepted him, the elitist pure-bloods of Slytherin.
Unfortunately for Snape, that meant joining Voldemort as one of his despicable Death Eaters.
It's unknown just how much evil he did as a member of the death eaters, but it's obvious that it was bad enough for him to be among Voldemort's most trusted subjects.
The most notable of his achievements as a Death Eater was delivering Professor Trelawney's prophecy of Voldemort's demise to the dark lord. The prophecy foretold that the child born at the end of July would have the power to defeat Voldemort.
As he learned that Lily's child was due to be born at the end of July, he was overwhelmed with remorse.
He begged Voldemort to spare her and the child and Voldemort promised that he wouldn't as long as she didn't get in the way. Severus didn't believe him, so he turned to the only man he thought could help, Albus Dumbledore.
He begged Albus to hide her, even if it meant hiding James and the baby, and Albus said that he would, but only if Severus served him as a double agent.
Obviously, Albus tried his best, but Voldemort found them... and probably didn't try his best.
Voldemort was made aware of the Potter's location by Peter Pettigrew and he killed James and Lily. He attempted to do the same with Harry, but the promise he made to Snape, as well as the sacrifice of his parents, made the spell backfire and hit Voldemort.
Distraught, Snape went to Dumbledore, lost and heartbroken.
The Hogwarts Headmaster convinced Snape to stick around Hogwarts because not only would Voldemort return, but he would come after Harry, and if Snape really had loved her, he would protect her child.
For ten years, he taught at Hogwarts under the guise of a cowardly death eater who went into hiding. For ten years, he played the part that Albus Dumbledore told him to play.
He never strayed from the cold, ruthless disciplinarian that "resented Hogwarts and his students" so that when Voldemort returned, he could make amends and become a double agent again.
And then it happened.
In his 11th year as a teacher, a young boy with messy brown hair and a peculiar scar showed up in the great hall.
From the moment he saw Harry Potter, Severus Snape must have felt conflicted.
The silent, but powerful guilt, because if he hadn't given the prophecy to Voldemort, Lily would have been saved.
The stinging regret, because if he hadn't been so proud as a youth, he might have never lost Lily.
The burning resentment, because this boy looked identical to the man who had tormented him all those years ago.
And a haunting longing, because he only needed to see those brilliant green eyes to remember just how much he had loved Lily.
Throughout Harry's years at Hogwarts, Snape would often play the part of the "red herring."
No matter what happened, Harry and friends always assumed it was Snape who was pulling the strings, when in all reality, I don't know if anyone else did more to help Harry.
In a quidditch match during Harry's first year, Professor Quirrell attempted to kill Harry, Snape uttered the counter-curses, even taking over as a referee to make sure it didn't happen again.
Snape pretended to be out of the Veritaserum potion so that Dolores Umbridge could not interrogate Harry.
Even though Snape pretends not to understand what "They've taken Padfoot" meant in Umbridge's office, Snape did in fact alert the Order of the Phoenix and do literally everything he could've to prevent Harry from traveling to the ministry.
Snape kept a close eye on Harry despite his conflicted feelings.
His behavior towards Harry has always been a bit of a mystery.
Was it personal or was it to protect Harry?
Did he act the way he did towards Harry because of his conflicted emotions or because he had to keep playing the part? Multiple times, Death Eaters had infiltrated the school, and could've told Voldemort if Snape had been playing favorites.
Professor Quirrell, Peter Pettigrew (though Snape believed Sirius Black was the traitor), Barty Crouch Jr, Lucius Malfoy, Igor Karkaroff, or maybe even people under the Imperius curse.
Maybe a bit of both?
A relationship that I don't think anyone looked into as much was that of Snape and Neville Longbottom.
Neville was also born at the end of July that year, and had Voldemort gone after him, could've been the Chosen One.
I wonder if Snape was so hard on Neville because he had to be or because he partially blamed Neville for not being chosen so Lily may have lived.
While Harry and Dumbledore were off hunting Horcruxes, Snape was doing his best to keep an eye on Draco, who had to kill the headmaster or he would die, while keeping what Dumbledore was doing under wraps.
Things came to a head at the top of the Astronomy tower however, when Draco successfully smuggled Death Eaters into Hogwarts and cornered Dumbledore.
Knowing that Draco had no choice, Dumbledore begged Snape to kill him, as to save the young boy's soul and life.
Snape hesitated but eventually gave in, taking Dumbledore's life.
With Dumbledore gone, and the Death Eaters taking over the ministry of magic, Snape took his place as the headmaster of Hogwarts.
However, it wasn't a power trip.
Snape took the job so he could protect the students, and continue to take orders from Dumbledore's painting in his office.
When Harry Potter returned to Hogwarts in search of Horcruxes and the sword that could destroy them, it was Snape who cast his Patronus, a doe, like Lily's, that lead Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor.
Desperate for power, Voldemort killed Snape, falsely believing he would become the rightful owner of the Elder Wand.
But as Snape lay dying, he gave Harry a few tears, tears that held all the truths he had been keeping from Harry his whole life.
While not as canon as the books, this does sum it up pretty well.
The Story of Severus Snape.
Severus Snape was a kid who never quite fit in.
He never got any breaks.
He never got unconditional love.
He never got to be with the only person he ever loved.
And despite being an incredible wizard and potion-master, he was only ever mocked for his abilities.
He was so desperate for love that he fell in with the only people who accepted him.
He was so insecure and lonely that he did terrible, awful things just to feel like he belonged.
And at the end of his rope, he tried everything he could to protect a woman he loved from afar.
When that wasn't enough, he committed his life to protecting the boy that she loved.
He gave everything, even his life.
I didn't say that Snape was perfect.
I didn't even say he was a nice guy.
And I certainly didn't say that all of the wrongs he committed were justified or forgiven.
Snape's story is not a cheesy "coming of age" tale.
Snape's story is one of sadness, fear, love, heartbreak, and redemption.
The similarities between Voldemort and Harry Potter's upbringings are well documented, but I'd like to take a second and compare Harry and Snape's childhoods.
Neither of them grew up in a happy or healthy home.
Neither of them were accepted by kids they grew up around.
Neither were nurtured or taken care of.
Both made their first friend with another wizard/witch.
Both begged to get into their perspective house based on an interaction they had with somebody from another.
I think what honestly separated the two is that while Snape was buried underneath his fear, Harry was skating on innocence and pure curiosity.
Snape was more corruptible because he had never fit in anywhere else before. He got around those Slytherin's and they harped on his insecurities and filled his head with all sorts of Death Eater BS. I think Harry was a little less broken when he entered Hogwarts. I think having wide eyes and an open-heart helped Harry make friends and distinguish between right and wrong like Snape never got the chance to do.
While not quite "the boy who lived," it's important to remember that Snape was still just a boy at one point.
A boy born without love who made all the wrong choices, but did every single thing he could to make up for it. A boy who was more exceptional than he ever knew who just wanted to belong.
A boy who did whatever he could to make up for past sins and to protect someone he didn't even know.
A boy who loved.
What do you think?
Um, not to be "that guy" but...
Dumbledore trusted Snape literally until the moment he died (and perhaps beyond, depending on what the wizarding afterlife is really like) and Harry Potter, the one guy who had more right than anybody to hate Snape named his freaking kid after him. So... You're entitled to your own opinion, buuuuuuuuut I'm in some pretty solid company.