If you haven’t read Harry Potter books or seen movies, don’t read this. It is a spoiler for what is one of the longest hidden characters in a story. For all seven books and eight movies, Severus Snape was hiding in plain sight, and tricking Voldemort is one hell of a feat.
Snape’s involvement with the Death Eaters
Snape was once described by Sirius Black as a wizard who knew more dark curses when he first came to Hogwarts than half the pupils in their seventh year. He was also in a Slytherin gang that nearly all joined Voldemort after and became Death Eaters.
His natural affinity for the dark arts is not explained, but things like a rough childhood, loneliness, and social rejection have been hinted at by the writer. This was also the reason why Lily Evans had such an impact on him when she came into Snape’s life, like a balm to the wound.
However, despite Lily being there, it still couldn’t sate Snape’s hunger for knowledge and power, which is perhaps why he still deemed himself unworthy of her later. To say that Snape is a complex character would be an understatement, but Snape is one of the most realistically complex characters ever written in literature.
Because of his dark affinity, and some other things perhaps, Snape was a frequent target of the Marauders, which were students from Hogwarts, consisting of Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin, and James Potter. Sometimes, Lilly was the real reason Snape and James were having a go, for they were both in love with her.
How Voldemort seduced Snape into joining
As mentioned, Snape was already friends with virtually all of the Death Eaters, and after Voldemort gathered them all it was easier for the Dark Lord to reach him. However, Voldemort was cunning and waited for the perfect time.
He waited for the problems between James, Lilly, and Snape to escalate and for him to get rejected. He approached Snape at the moment of isolation and when his heart was broken, promising a balm for the wound. He offered comfort, shelter, and a community that welcomed him, unlike the others who rejected him and were nothing but mean to him.
And Snape gave in…
However, Voldemort was not just interested in Snape because he wanted his Death Eater band to grow. He actually had respect for him and high admiration for his talent.
Snape is and has remained an extraordinary wizard who has performed incredible feats of magic during his lifetime, and has managed to deceive Voldemort, who, let me remind you, knows when somebody lies to him.
Why didn’t Voldemort kill Snape with Avadakedavra?
After Voldemort admits to himself that Elder Wand is not truly his, he confronts Snape. He thinks that since Snape killed Dumbledore, Elder Wand was answering to Snape. He then deduces that he has to kill his long-time friend and one of the most faithful servants, as he thought.
However, instead of using Avadakedavra, like he virtually always does, he orders Nagini to bite and kill Snape. This is a peculiar occurrence, and there are two fan theories about it:
Voldemort was afraid that the wand would fail him
Voldemort knew Snape was strong and came to terms with admitting the Elder Wand was not his. So, it could be that he was afraid that the wand won’t kill his master, whom he thought was Snape. Of course, the master at this moment was Draco Malfoy, for it was he who disarmed Dumbledore at the tower before Snape killed him.
Voldemort thought of Snape as his friend
Another fan theory suggests that Voldemort could not perform Avadakedavra on Snape because he was the only one who he ever thought of as his friend. If there was a trace of emotion in Voldemort, Snape could have certainly been worthy of it, in his eyes.
Snape was strong, smart, capable, and, most importantly, Voldemort thought that Snape was loyal to him all these years. So, it may be possible that he didn’t want to kill him. Avadakedavra only works if the intention to kill is genuine, as it is explained several times in the story, so this may be the component Voldemort was missing.
At least not personally….
The reason Voldemort orders Nagini to kill Snape was never revealed by JK. Rowling and never discussed outside the books and the movies. She sometimes sheds light on some other burning fan questions, and she might sometimes solve this one for us. Until then, we like to think both of these could be true.