By James Hibberd
April 07, 2020 at 05:14 PM EDT
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J.K. Rowling can still devastate us with just a couple of sentences.

The Harry Potter author tweeted a tribute to late Severus Snape actor Alan Rickman on Tuesday.

First a fan wrote: "Tonight in Italy they air 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 2'. As always, I'm NOT ready to say goodbye to Severus Snape. Thank you @jk_rowling for this unique character and for convincing Alan Rickman to portray him - we had the perfect Severus Snape."

Credit: Murray Close/Warner Bros.

To which Rowling shocked the fan by replying with a memory from seeing a rehearsal of her hit Harry Potter sequel play: "In Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, Snape makes his first appearance with his back to the audience," she tweeted. "At the dress rehearsal I saw him in his long black wig & my eyes filled with tears because, for a split second, my irrational heart believed when Snape turned round, I'd see Alan."

Rickman, of course, played the nefarious-seeming potions professor across all eight Harry Potter films. He was on Rowling's original short list to play Snape and was one of the few actors in the film series who was able to chat with the author about his character's future in the books. "He knew very early on that he'd been in love with Lily," Rowling said in 2007. "We needed to have a conversation early on. He needed to understand… where this bitterness towards this boy — who's living proof of her preference for another man — came from. He was the only person who knew that for a long, long time."

Rickman died of pancreatic cancer in 2016.

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