Thank you very much. You may hold the rest of your applause; I know I wasn't your first choice for a speaker. In fact, I am a bit at a loss to guess who would have invited me, since I was not a member of the Slug Club as a student and never particularly friendly with Slughorn as an adult. I can only presume that someone on the nominating committee must need a favor of which I will be notified later.
I suppose that those of you who are in attendance want to hear a dramatic story about how I returned from the dead, as popular legend maintains. This is, of course, nonsense. I find it insulting to have it suggested that I would have created a Horcrux or left myself so unprotected in death that any passing wizard could have created an Inferius of me. The truth, as you should all realize, is that I never died. Wipe that disappointment off your pathetic faces. Yes, you, young lady in the third row -- were you a Hufflepuff? No, I don't remember you, but it's obvious from your befuddled expression.
Before I go any further, let me add that if you are one of those people who believe that I have no business being alive after what I've done, you may as well step outside for a smoke right now. I have no intention of listening to hecklers or making myself suffer just to console you. What makes you think that you're any better than myself? When you think about it, wasn't there something more you personally could have done during the war to help defeat the Death-Eaters?
You -- that's right, in the back in the vomit-green dress -- I see you shaking your head. Don't plead ignorance with me. Even if you were unaware of the events at Hogwarts or in the Ministry of Magic, you must have seen the ugliness and distrust among people at that time. Wasn't there a moment when you should have been more helpful to a neighbor or more compassionate to a stranger? Yes? Then you have no business judging me, particularly since you can't possibly know the whole story.
I've brought some items that I thought might be of interest. The first few are souvenirs of this club's own namesake, Horace Slughorn. A package of Honeyduke's chocolates that I confiscated from a student planning to use it as a bribe. Very well, call it a gift if you prefer. This bottle...ah, but do you know why it is important? This bottle has a refilling charm on it cast by Potter himself to get Slughorn drunk. Isn't that anecdote in the infamous Potter biography? And here is what's left of the false Felix Felicis that I produced for him. Hmm? No, it produces the same pleasant sensations but doesn't affect the user's luck in the least. Anything that happened that night was entirely coincidence, or else someone else's carefully plotted design.
What's that? Oh, you believe you do know the story because you read the exclusive bits that made it into The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler. Or you read one of the other books: Longbottom's very biased autobiography and the Parkinson girl's self-indulgent tell-all. We all believe we know something, don't we? Raise your hand if you think you understand my role in Albus Dumbledore's death. Yes? And how I felt about Harry Potter's mother, and my impoverished childhood in Spinner's End? Come on, get those hands up! You, in the first row in the Gryffindor tartan...have too many weekend Quidditch matches ruined your arm-raising muscles?
Just as I expected. Well, I have news for you. Even if you've read the entire bestselling series about Potter -- the one that was made into the overlong film series with myself played by a man old enough to be my father -- you are aware of only bits and pieces of the truth. Surprised?
The truth is that I killed Albus Dumbledore without any secret communication via Legilimency nor any expectation that I would be absolved from beyond the grave.
The truth is that I made life at Hogwarts as miserable as I could for The Chosen One, not because I had any secret message or teaching to impart, but because I couldn't stand watching that arrogant boy strutting around the school as if he owned the place.
The truth is that I was not in love with Lily Evans. Nor, to address some other popular rumors, nor did I have a long-standing affair with Narcissa or Lucius Malfoy. And I certainly did not have an unrequited crush on either the odious Sirius Black or his cowering younger brother.
The truth is that I sensed the Dark Lord's presence, even when most of the Death Eaters had denied and renounced him, and that sense shaped most of my adult decisions. Once I became aware that...oh for Merlin's sake, would you put your hand down! If you wanted to ask questions you should have shelled out the favors for a more desirable seat. Is that you, Granger, there in the back? Oh, I see -- just another would-be know-it-all. Very well: I'll take questions. It may be easier to address some of the misconceptions about me out there if I know what they are.
Yes? How did I return from the dead, he wants to know. Have you listened to a word I've been saying? Repeat after me: "Severus Snape was never dead." There, now you can tell all your friends that you heard it directly from the source. Don't tell me that you all took the word of Potter's abysmal biographer? I suppose you also believe that he had a monster in his chest from the sight of the Weasley girl kissing a fellow student...
What did you say? His wife? You must be joking. Did the books actually say that? Of course I didn't read the things; I'd rather have swallowed hemlock. Someone here surely brought a copy of one of them, hoping for an autograph on one of the dreadful illustrations. I've been told that the portrait of me described in the words of those pages is even less flattering. Thank you -- pass it up here. Where? Oh, I see it. "Five Potters?" I don't suppose Miss Weasley is here tonight, which is a shame. I expect that she would hex someone for turning her into someone's compliant little wife. Even Skeeter knew that girl's reputation. And who wrote these biographies of Potter? Not someone with any other wizarding biography credits, you will note. Do these initials stand for "joke"? Oh, then perhaps someone who trained under Skeeter at the Daily Prophet. As if Ginevra would give up being a Weasley to take any man's name!
Let me see...hmmm...Merlin's balls, an entire series of books such as these...bloody hell! Lily clinging to her father's arm and whinging, Albus terrified of ending up in Slytherin. At least it's obvious that whoever wrote this didn't spend much time observing Potter's children. Excuse me? Yes, Potter's and Weasley's, but that doesn't mean they got married. You can't think that after such an isolated childhood, Potter would have wished the same upon his own offspring.
But this final chapter makes everyone he knows sound like a bunch of Weasley stalkers. Like those girls who used to write to Charlie as their last hope of marrying into the family. Teddy didn't go out with Victoire because she was a Weasley; he went out with Victoire for the same reason as any straight teenage boy. Haven't any of you seen Victoire? All her great-grandmother's Veela attributes have been amplified in that one. If girls excited me, I'm sure I'd want to go out with Victoire too.
Oh, please. With everything else that's been written about me, am I to understand that nobody mentioned the fact that I was queer? I thought everyone knew that, no matter how much money Potter spread around discreetly to try to keep his private life private. My invitation to speak here came to Grimmauld Place, so somebody must have known. Were you all assuming that I owed Potter some grand debt that kept me turning up at his home out of obligation?
Rubbish. I never owed Potter anything. I was delighted to retain my independence until the arrogant boy offered me his arse, and then it wasn't attachment that made me accept, but an ill-timed rebellion on the part of my libido. I assure you that I grew attached to the arse long before I grew attached to the little prick attached to it.
No, for Merlin's sake, I am not suggesting that Potter has an undersized penis! Don't you dare go around reporting that I said such a thing. What I meant was that throughout his school years, Potter behaved like a little prick. Trying to compensate for a lack of substance with a big wand and flashy tricks. Don't these books give you some indication? Hmm...no, I see, the usual Potter worship. If only Malfoy had followed through on his promise to write a tell-all instead of devoting all his attention to spawning. This series is apparently based on Potter's testimony before the Ministry, written as if the writer had been in the Shrieking Shack with us! Look at these illustrations!
I could not testify at the time because I was still officially wanted for the murder of Albus Dumbledore. Not to mention by the ungrateful parents of a few dozen Hogwarts students whom I'd been unable to shield from the Carrows. It was Granger's idea to pretend that I was dead until my name was cleared. At the time it made sense for me to lie low until I had recovered from the snakebite. Did anyone actually report that I had died? Look here, even in this book -- Voldemort claims that he killed me, but then, Voldemort believed he had killed Potter, too. Imbeciles.
I can see I'm going to have to explain everything. I don't want the children coming across rubbish like this and thinking there's any truth in it. I've just flipped past an appalling scene with Tonks and although I don't much care if Teddy Lupin thinks his father was a sniveling coward, he deserves to think better of his mother. Of course Tonks was an acceptable Potions student -- do you think I would have allowed her to take the NEWT and become an Auror otherwise? Did you expect me to hold a press conference on each rare occasion when I gave a student an O?
You, there, take your smirking face and leave the room if you're going to attribute lewd meanings to everything I say. I suppose you all would have expected me to hold a press conference announcing that I wasn't dead. Anyone with one iota of intelligence would have known anyway. Is there a portrait of me in the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts? Did you ever learn where I was buried? And all the books from Spinner's End were sent to Grimmauld Place...
Oh, I see. You want to hear about my sexual escapades. Excuse me? Must we speak in soppy generalities? Yes, I suppose Dumbledore would have called it love, but "love" was a word that Dumbledore loved to toss around whether or not it was warranted. At any rate it was sponge baths and hand jobs for the first several weeks, not anything more. I'd been bitten by a poisonous, cursed snake! Why don't we speak instead of how I survived? I got the idea from a Muggle treatment that Arthur Weasley received at St. Mungo's. I'd watched Voldemort kill enough people with that snake to have a pretty good idea what he had in mind for me when he decided that I was no longer useful.
Yes, back row, I can't hear you...did sex play a role in my recovery, he wants to know. Have you ever had sex, young man? Then I imagine you don't know that sex can play a positive role in one's well-being even if one does not know sex magic.
Foolish boy, I didn't need sex magic to bind Potter to me. Potter's Gryffindor loyalty is celebrated as though Potter had invented loyalty, is it not? Before I returned, he held some absurd notion that I had sacrificed everything for him. Even Potter wasn't thick enough to believe I did it all for his dead mother. He probably harbored some notion that I'd always found his strutting and tossing his hair about sexy.
Pardon me? I most certainly did not! He was underage! I never touched a student. You can't possibly think that Dumbledore would have kept me on the faculty of Hogwarts if he thought I was taking advantage of children. Who? Rumors about me and Draco Malfoy -- oh, please. I'd been wiping that boy's snotty nose since he was a mewling infant. I saved him because Dumbledore had instructed me to and because I knew it would give Lucius and Narcissa a more compelling reason to follow my lead than anything the Dark Lord had to offer them. Did you people really believe Draco's overfed arse had anything to do with it?
Very imaginative, I'll grant you that. I'll wager that not even the author of the official Potter books came up with anything like that. What else? Why would you want to see the scar?
You must be joking. A vampire? That's how you thought I survived? Here, look. As you can see, the puncture wounds are clearly from a serpent. Have they stopped teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts altogether at Hogwarts? Then you should be able to tell me, immediately, three reasons why I could not possibly be a vampire as I stand here speaking to you. Daylight is one. These small signs of aging you have detected are another -- here, hand me that mirror, can you see? As for the rest...no, the clasp is not silver, but surely you've learned that those legends about vampires or werewolves and silver have been debunked. Does that book contain accounts of Lupin shrinking away from the dining table? If it were so simple to kill a werewolf, I assure you that the day he arrived to teach at Hogwarts, I would have plunged a fork into the back of his hand.
By all means, tell me what you wondered. Oh, for...! Anyone who thinks I harbored secret lusts for a werewolf is in need of a visit to St. Mungo's. We were not lovers. We were not even friends -- I convinced him to leave Hogwarts! Yes, I did tell the students he was a werewolf, but after that incident at the Shrieking Shack, can you blame me? I had been diligently brewing the Wolfsbane potion for him for months, and he couldn't even be bothered to swallow it in his haste to rush out and embrace his very, very good friend Black. Hmm? Draw your own conclusions about those two.
There, you see, now you've got me talking about sex again instead of what I meant to be talking about. You see why I've resisted speaking publicly? Even a supposedly friendly audience such as yourselves cannot be trusted to pay attention to the topic at hand. What was the topic at hand? The power of love, was it not? One of Albus Dumbledore's most beloved subjects, at least among those few with whom he chose to share his wisdom personally...sit down, I wasn't privy to the sordid details of his relationship with Grindelwald, and if I had been, I certainly wouldn't be sharing them here. You all know that it was Dumbledore's contention that Potter was saved as an infant by his mother's love. As an adult...
I don't know that I would say his capacity for love is any greater than anyone else's. He can be just as petty and prejudiced and spiteful as the next person. Does he love me? You would really have to ask him that. As for whether he's ever said it to me, that is not your business. I've already admitted that he saved my life, is that not sufficient? Well, yes, I did save his too.
I can understand your interest -- from what I understand, students are woefully unprepared in the study of Defense Against the Dark Arts -- but I'm afraid I've no interest in returning to teaching, at Hogwarts or anywhere else. Surely you realize that I only remained for so long to keep an eye on Potter and maintain a position of use to the Dark Lord? It certainly wasn't any desire to teach sniveling children how to brew potions. I'm afraid I am better suited for working alone.
What's that? Certainly, the Ministry has greater need of me. I'm the only one they've got who can produce effective antidotes to the newly designed poisons that Muggles keep putting into the food and water supplies of their cities. Besides, most of them are aging and they prefer to come to me with their discreet requests for diet supplements and marital aids than risk Knockturn Alley's shady suppliers. Some of the people in this very room. You, behind the girl in green, aren't you the son of...
Oh, I'm being signaled that our time is up. How disappointing for all of you. Enjoy your banquet...no, I'm afraid I won't be staying. I'm sure the food is delicious but I have a delectable feast of my own waiting for me at home, and he becomes concerned when I am late. Thank you for the honorarium -- I shall purchase a very fine bottle of wine with it. Good evening.