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Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. By the book's timeline, it's been nearly two decades since Voldemort and his Death Eaters faced off against Harry Potter and everyone who took the side of good. As has become an annual tradition, J.K. Rowling has once again taken this anniversary as an opportunity to extend an apology for the loss of yet another beloved character.
This year, J.K. Rowling apologized for killing Severus Snape in Deathly Hallows.
(Oodles of major Harry Potter book spoilers ahead!)
Known to Harry Potter fans for many things -- Potions Master, former Death Eater, eventual Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, secret spy, Voldemort Betrayer and Half-Blood Prince -- Severus Snape spent the bulk of the Harry Potter series sneering at Harry, but by the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we learned that, in addition to resenting Harry for his resemblance to his greatest school tormentor, James Potter, Snape also vowed to help Dumbledore protect Harry in preparation for Voldemort's eventual defeat. Snape may have once been loyal to the Dark Lord, but he never got over losing his former friend Lily Potter, and from that point on, he sought redemption for his part in the Potters' deaths. That meant turning spy against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and also having to be the one to "kill" Dumbledore.
Snape lost his life during the Battle of Hogwarts at the hands of Voldemort -- or more specifically, the fangs of Nagini, Voldemort's snake. When Voldemort believed Snape was master of the Elder Wand, he decided his presumed-to-be-faithful supporter was a liability and set the snake upon Snape.
Snape died, but not before offering up his memories to Harry. In his dying breaths, he gave Harry the information he needed to defeat the Dark Lord. To Snape's credit, giving up such personal memories proved his dedication to the cause, as it's highly unlikely Snape would've really wanted Harry to know the depth of his feelings for Lily Potter. Despite his love for Lily, Snape never developed any fondness for (or trust in) Harry Potter, but he was willing to share his most private and painful memories with Harry if it meant seeing Voldemort defeated.
Snape wasn't the best human being. He made mistakes. Who knows what terrible things he did as a Death Eater, really. But he never had an easy life, and in the end, there was good in him. He proved to be one of the most valued characters in this series. Even Harry came around to appreciating the Potions Master, naming one of his and Ginny's sons Albus Severus.
By the book's timeline, May 2, 1998 was the day the Battle of Hogwarts took place. As mentioned, on this day, J.K. Rowling acknowledges her part in the death of a different character. On the 16th anniversary, she admitted she hated killing some of her characters. On the 17th anniversary, J.K. Rowling apologized for killing Fred Weasley. Last year, for the 18th anniversary, she confessed when and why she decided to kill off Remus Lupin.
This year, J.K. Rowling shyly apologized for Snape, then seemed to brace herself for the backlash. We have no doubt that J.K. Rowling is all too aware of how much fans love Snape, and how heartbreaking his death was. That said, while some fans love Snape unconditionally, others may not feel the same warmth and fondness, given his demonstrated flaws over the course of the series. And the fact that he was once a Death Eater, obviously.
Love Snape or not, he was a great character. Easily one of the best in the books. And with that, we raise our wands to Severus Snape, for his redemption, his loyalty and his sacrifice.