The love that lasts the longest is the love that is never returned.
~ William Somerset Maugham
This quote is an amazing inspiration for plots and subplots, and I’ve found an instance of it in so many novels that I’m not bothered to start keeping track. My personal favourite would be the subplot that contributed to the main story in one of the most successful series of novels in the recent turn of the century. Of course, I suspect that all of you could guess it, and you’re probably right – I’m talking about Severus Snape from Harry Potter.
In Harry Potter, Harry Potter is, obviously, the main character and the character with the most development. To me, though, Professor Snape is probably the most well-written character in the series. Honestly, like J.K. Rowling intended, he was that one teacher you have that was just a jerk for absolutely no reason at all, picking on some students and favouring others, then, BOOM, in the seventh novel, suddenly, he’s not the basic asshole you thought he was, no, he was a walking, talking, breathing tragedy that started with a tragedy and ended as one.
His story was arguably one of the most pathetic ones – growing up in a broken family and given a break in the form of a school with magic, before falling in love with his friend, a muggle-born that his house will not allow him to love, then pushing her aside with his own hateful words when she tried to defend him and watching her fall in love with the person who bullied him, probably the one person he truly hated. And, subsequently, having her die, leaving him to watch her son grow up without her, only ever able to see that this was James Potter’s son, not his.
But this is the power of unrequited love, is it not? Unrequited love is, as William so aptly put it, the love that is never returned, and it is as long lasting as it is strong. Lily never returned Snape’s love. She probably had never realised that he had been in love with her in the first place. She was, after all, happily married to James, with a son. And yet, when she died, Snape undertook one of the most dangerous roles in the war, being a spy that worked for the Order of the Phoenix, for the sake of a woman he loved, a woman who had a marriage and a son with someone else. A woman who had been dead for more than a decade when Voldemort returned, a woman for whom he was still willing to go back under for.
To a rational person, this is just illogical. The lady is dead, gone, there is absolutely no reason to do this for her, not when she would not be here to appreciate it. All that aside, how is this worth it? To love and give, with nothing given back to you in return, to hurt and fight, for someone who stopped fighting for you. That is love, though, and love in itself is irrational, illogical. Love makes people do crazy things, it can make you great, although it can also destroy you.
And with that, I would also like to tell you that it is not a good idea to fall in unrequited love with someone else. I mean sure, it sounds romantic, however, while it is entirely true that it is romantic to read about this type of love, it is indeed a great basis for a story, it is not at all romantic if it happens to you in real life. Even if all the sources I have tells me that no one can help themselves when they’re falling in love with someone. I’m telling you this: People can rationalize the irrational and explain the unexplainable. It’s not impossible to fall out of love with someone. And even if it was, well, then make the impossible possible! I have faith that you could make that happen.