Oneshot. While searching for Voldemort's horcruxes together, Harry is almost killed due to a bad decision on Snape's part. Harry decides that a few changes are due... or Snape is not going to enjoy...
Author Name: Orion Scorpio
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: Oneshot. While searching for Voldemort's horcruxes together, Harry is almost killed due to a bad decision on Snape's part. Harry decides that a few changes are due... or Snape is not going to enjoy the consequences.
Author's Note: Just a onshot I wrote in the aftermath of HBP.
At first glance, the boarded-up windows and the thick layer of dust that covered floor, torn curtains and old furniture gave the impression of a room that hadn't been used in years. However, a closer look revealed footsteps in the dust, as well as two improvised beds consisting of half a dozen blankets. A large bookshelf containing mostly - almost completely dust-free - books on potions covered much of one wall. In the centre of the room stood an improvised table in the form of a door laid on top of two wooden crates, carrying a stack of unwashed dishes and some cutlery. Two trunks sat in a corner.
Abruptly, the tranquility was shattered as the door banged up on screaming hinges. Harry Potter strode into the room, face curiously blank. Both his robes and his face were strained and dirty, and his unruly hair was even more of a mess than usual. A short cut under his left eye had made streaks of blood down his cheek, and one of the lenses in his spectacles had gotten a crack.
Harry was shortly followed by scowling Severus Snape, who carried a Death Eater mask in one hand. His condition wasn't as bad as Harry's, but he still had a black streak on his forehead and his greasy, black hair looked windswept.
"Well, that was really a fine mess, Potter," Snape sneered as he shoved the door shut with a foot. He stalked over to the only chair in the room and sat down. "I doubt even your father could have done it better."
The response he got was not what he expected. Still wearing that same blank look, Harry flicked his wand in Snape's direction - and the ex-Professor's wand flew out his pocket to land in Harry's waiting hand.
Snape bolted up from the chair, surprise written across his face. "What-?"
"Surprised?" Harry asked conversationally. He flicked his wand in the direction of the door, which promptly sealed itself with an odd squelching noise. Turning back toward Snape, he said: "You shouldn't rely so much on Legilimency to predict what your opponent will do. Someone might learn enough Occlumency to surprise you."
Snape's eyes went wide. "/You/ have learned Occlumency? When?"
Harry flicked his wand for a third time, conjuring up a comfortable armchair. It spun around in mid-air for a moment, before landing with a thump. Harry sat down heavily. "I have raided your private library ever since we began searching for the Horcruxes. One of the books I found was about Occlumency." He looked directly into Snape's eyes. "Isn't it odd that I have learned more Occlumency through self-study than I ever did under your tutorage?"
The Potions Master had the grace to blush. He quickly recovered, though. "That's neither here nor there. Give me back my wand, Potter."
Snape's lips drew up in his habitual sneer. "So. Not only have you read my rare and valuable books without permission, but you are also going to steal my wand," he said silkily. "You are truly your father's son, Potter."
"You and I are going to talk," Harry said flatly, as if he hadn't heard a word of what Snape had just said. "Your childish hatred of me almost got me killed today. This can't go on. It's past time you started behaving like a man."
Snape coloured slightly. "Listen here, you insolent little-!"
Outraged, Snape's mouth worked soundlessly for a moment, before he took two quick steps forward and reached for the younger man. Harry aimed his wand at his former Potions-teacher, and a red bolt of light struck him in the chest. It sent him flying backward, landing him in the old chair he had just vacated, which groaned dangerously under the sudden weight. A split-second later, magical rope poured out of the tip of Harry's wand, wrapping themselves around Snape.
Sighing in relief, Harry leaned back in the chair with closed eyes and savoured the silence. Snape had been almost unbearable to live with ever since they began searching for Voldemort's Horcruxes. Until now, Harry had put up with it out of respect of the horrible duty the greasy-haired man had preformed at the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower. He freely admitted he'd had trouble believe Snape's story, until Dumbledore's portrait confirmed it. In retro prospect, asking Snape to kill him and fulfil the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy was exactly the kind of barmy thing one could expect from Dumbledore.
After allowing himself a few more minutes of relaxation, he grudgingly opened his eyes and sat up. Snape had given up struggling and was now glaring daggers at Harry. Ignoring him, Harry rose and walked over to the bookshelf. He found what he was searching for between Po//tions Moste Anciente and /The Supremacy of the Dark Arts/.
"Hello, Harry," the smiling portrait of Dumbledore said as Harry held it up. "I heard everything. May I assume that Severus has been stunned or otherwise incapacitated?"
"I'm afraid so," Harry smiled back. He walked over to the improvised table and put the portrait down, letting it lean against the stack of dishes so that Dumbledore could see Snape. Upon catching the attention of the portrait, Snape mouthed the words 'help me' at it.
"Harry, I think it would be best if you-" Dumbledore's portrait began.
"Please, Headmaster," Harry interrupted. "Let me handle this."
To Harry's mild surprise, Dumbledore merely arched his brows and didn't insist. Harry sat back down in the armchair.
"Snape, I am now going to remove the silencing charm and the ropes. If you try to shout, berate me or use force, you'll find yourself in the exact same position you are now. And no, you are not getting your wand back just yet." Harry flicked his wand, and the ropes vanished.
The fuming ex-Professor gave Harry a hateful glare. "What's the meaning of this?"
"Do you know the contents of Trelawney's first prophecy?"
"Of course I do," Snape said sourly.
"Then you agree that your actions this evening almost cost us the war?"
Snape looked like he had swallowed a bucket-full of Dumbledore's lemon drops and didn't reply. The silence between them stretched out for a few minutes, before Harry tried again. "Snape-"
"All right!" Snape barked. "I made a mistake. There, has your Gryffindor-pride been satisfied, now?"
Harry shook his head and massaged his temples. "No, Snape. I am most definitely not satisfied. You know what kind of role I have to play in this war, and yet you listened to your hate rather than common sense. Because of that, I was almost slaughtered by Death Eaters when I came out of the cave. This can't go on any more. Either you get a grip or I'll leave."
"What a wonderful little fantasy," Snape sneered. "You'll never find the remaining Horcruxes without me."
Harry's eyes flashed. "Perhaps, but if you can't rein in your stupid hatred, I'll have no choice but to try. You've never been able to control your feelings toward me and my father, and your efforts at teaching me has suffered accordingly. This time, however, I was almost killed because of you. Since I am the only one who can kill Voldemort, I can't take the chance it won't happen again. So what is it going to be, Snape?"
Snape glared at him. "Even for a Gryffindor, you have a lot of nerve demanding that I stop hating you after everything you have done."
"/I/ have a lot of nerve?" Harry demanded incredulously. "You abused the power you had over me for six years and did everything you could to make me miserable, solely because my last name is Potter! You couldn't even push aside your hatred long enough to teach me something as important as Occlumency!" In a harsh whisper, he added: "All that was of course after you told Voldemort about the Prophecy - oh yes, I know about it."
Snape had gone white with shock at the last revelation. "Did Dumbledore tell-"
"No, Severus," Dumbledore's painting interjected quietly. "Harry discovered it himself."
Harry rose from the armchair, teeth bared in a snarl. "I have every reason in the world to loathe you until the day I die, and yet I was willing to push that aside and cooperate with you. Unfortunately, you chose to wallow in your hatred and self-pity instead of meeting me halfway. I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything else from a twisted old man who gets a kick out of bullying children."
Harry apparently hit a nerve, because Snape shot to his feet. "You spoiled, arrogant, attention-seeking brat! I will not stand for this insolence!"
"Then you should sit down," Harry said, giving his wand a warning flick. Snape's normally sallow face was flushed with anger, and for a moment he seemed to be on the brink of attacking Harry physically. However, after a few seconds of glaring death and murder, he slowly sank back down in the chair. Harry retook his own seat. Closing his eyes and breathing in deeply, he went through an Occlumency-exercise in his head. With a tremendous effort he cleared his mind of thoughts and emotions, ruthlessly severing all emotional ties to memories of Snape's abuse.
Opening his eyes again, he met Snape's hateful eyes without flinching. "Suppose there's only one way to do this," Harry muttered and tossed Snape's wand back to its owner. A surprised Snape reflexively caught it in the air. "I'm not a good enough Occlumist to stop a determinated Legilimency-attack. So go ahead, Snape. See for yourself how spoiled I am."
The painting of Dumbledore spoke up quickly. "Harry, I don't think this is necessary."
"Oh, but it is, Professor," Harry said, never taking his eyes from Snape. The former Potions-teacher's face had closed down completely, giving no clue to what he was thinking. "You can start with searching for memories of where I used to sleep, before I got my first Hogwarts-letter."
Again, the silence stretched out between them. Snape made no move to use Legilimency and just stood there, staring. Finally, anger again crept into Harry's eyes. "What's the matter, Snape?" he snarled. "Afraid you'll find something that conflict with your comfortable worldview?"
Slowly, Snape raised his wand to aim it at Harry. "Legilimens."
Harry made no effort at Occlumency. The anger over how his own relatives had treated him blazed clearly in his mind, providing a path directly to the memories Snape looked for.
"Up! Up! Get up!"
Harry awoke to his Aunt's insistent rattling on the door to his cupboard. "I'm awake," he said blearily.
"Then get out! Dudley needs his breakfast!"
Still groggy with sleep, he sat up and absently brushed away a few spiders that had crawled onto his chest. He had long since gotten used to them. The cupboard under the stairs was full of spiders, and that was the only place in the house his relatives would let him sleep.
Suddenly something banged against the door. "Stop lazying about, boy!" Uncle Vernon bellowed. "It's time you earn your keep!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Harry said and began putting on Dudley's old cast-offs.
The memory ended and Harry suddenly found himself back in the armchair, breathing hard. Snape was staring at him, still with the same unreadable look. Harry averted his eyes and ground his teeth audibly. He hated those memories and he was ashamed that someone else had seen them. That it had been Snape almost made him physically ill. "Again."
A tiny pause. "Legilimens."
They were having breakfast the day before Christmas. Dudley was chatting excitedly with his mother about the presents he was sure to receive the next day. Uncle Vernon was reading the newspaper, occasionally giving Harry a dark scowl. Harry made a mental note to hide his blanket inside his too-large jumper, in case the Dursleys decided to chuck him out of the house proper for the duration of the holyday, rather than just lock him up in his cupboard-
The memory ended abruptly and it took a moment for Harry to regain his bearings. He looked at Snape, and finally there was an actual expression on his face. The eyes of the older man had grown slightly wider, as if even his Occlumency-talents couldn't quite hide the disbelief he felt.
Harry clenched his hands until his knuckles turned white. He felt horribly violated, unclean. Telling himself that it was necessary to allow Snape to see those memories only made it worse. Trembling with barely suppressed rage, he rose from the armchair and hissed, "I spent ten years in that cupboard, Snape. I was basically their house-elf." Suddenly his face twisted into a mask of dark fury so terrible it rivalled anything Voldemort could do. "AND YET YOU DARE CALL ME SPOILED, YOU BASTARD!"
Snape actually flinched from the outburst. Harry took several deep breaths and forced his rage down, squashing it ruthlessly under an iron heel. Back in control of himself again, he looked directly into the eyes of Snape. "Can we agree that the Dursleys didn't spoil me, or do I have to show you a few more memories?"
Distaste appeared on Snape's face. "Not by your Muggle relatives, no," he grudgingly admitted. "But if you are fishing for sympathy you might as well give up. For six years the faculty on Hogwarts has given you special treatment and put you above every other student-"
"Absolutely and totally incorrect," the painting of Dumbledore stated quietly. "With one single exception, every recorded rule he has broken as either been in defence of himself, another student, or Hogwarts as a whole." Dumbledore peered at Harry over his half-moon spectacles. "There was that unfortunate business with the flying Ford Anglia, but that was dealt with accordingly."
"Hogwash!" Snape exclaimed. "Don't you see that every last one of his little adventures added to the boy's fame? And every time you rewarded him for it, thus encouraging more reckless behaviour! It started with Quirrell and the Philosopher's Stone, and you rewarded him for that. Potter followed up with the Chamber of Secrets and the Basilisk, and you rewarded him for that, too. And let's not mention the Triwizard Tournament!"
"I fail to see how Barty Crouch Jr. adding my name to the Goblet of Fire was my fault," Harry said icily.
"Quite," Dumbledore agreed. "Saving the life of Ms Weasley and killing the basilisk is undoubtedly one of the greatest services anyone has ever done to the school. Punishing Harry because he had to break rules in order to do so is beyond foolish. And as far as the Philosopher's Stone is concerned; I wanted Harry to meet Voldemort. He shouldn't be punished for complying with my wishes."
Snape gave Dumbledore a look of startled disbelief. "You wanted the boy to meet the Dark Lord? Whatever for?"
Instead of the portrait, it was Harry who answered. "Professor Dumbledore figured I had a right to meet the man who murdered my parents," he said as he sat back down.
Dumbledore's expression grew pleased. "When did you realize it, Harry?"
"Right after you left me in the hospital wing," Harry said with a smile. "The protections surrounding the stone were far too simple. Fluffy? You knew I was friends with Hagrid, who - bless him - can't keep a secret to save his life. The Devil's Snare and Snape's Potions-riddle? You knew I was friends with the most intelligent witch to set foot in Hogwarts in many years. Flitwick's flying keys? Well, all modesty aside, I am rather good on a broom. McGonagall's chessboard? You knew I was friends with a chess-genius. Quirrell's troll? We had already handled one.
"Besides, you already had the perfect solution; there was no way Quirrell or Voldemort could ever have gotten the Stone out of that mirror."
The proud look on Dumbledore's face delighted him. "Very good, Harry. You are entirely correct."
Snape looked from Dumbledore to Harry and back again. "You- you planned it? Great Merlin, Albus! The boy might have been killed!"
Harry's smile vanished. "You are not in a position to talk," he said coldly.
Snape had the decency to blush. "Don't you sit there and tell me that no one has ever given you special treatment!" he snapped.
"Of course not," Harry said calmly. A flicker of surprise passed across Snape's face but was quickly gone. "I suppose I've been given special treatment several times. At least once by the Minister of Magic, no less. The point is that I have never wanted it." He leaned forward and looked directly into Snape's eyes. "And I challenge you here and now to validate the truth in that statement with Legilimency."
Snape stiffened in his chair and said nothing.
"Do it, Snape," Harry said quietly. "I never wanted my fame. I'd much rather have my parents back. If I could, I'd give away my scar and my fame in a heartbeat. I don't want to be the Boy-Who-Lived, I want to be just Harry." Suddenly he detected subtle probing at the very edge of his mind. "Ah, I see a Legilimens' lie-detector abilities are making itself known. Tell me, what did you find?"
Snape averted his eyes. His jaw muscles worked, but didn't say anything for several minutes.
Anger crept back into Harry's mind. Here he had practically bared his mind and soul to a man whom he hated nearly as much as Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, and now that man didn't want to believe him?
"You're a hypocrite, Snape," Harry snarled. Snape looked up sharply, outrage on his features. "How can you speak of arrogance, when you simply assumed I would be a carbon copy of my father? Isn't that arrogance in its purest form?"
Snape blanched at those simple words. "I didn't- It was your behaviour-"
"/What behaviour?/" Harry shouted and leapt to his feet again. "You loathed me before the first time I as much as opened my mouth in your presence! What behaviour are you talking about?"
"Harry-" Dumbledore began, but Harry ruthlessly bullied on.
"What did you tell me during my fifth year, Snape?" Harry snarled. "That fools who wallow in sad memories stand no chance against Voldemort's powers? Isn't that what you have done your entire adult life? You have spent fifteen years wallowing in self-pity because of what my father did, and others have paid the price!"
If Snape had been pale before, he was ashen now. Harry gave him a look of supreme contempt. "Even though you are an Occlumist, you still can't control yourself - because you don't want to! I was almost killed today, because of that!"
Harry sighed heavily, suddenly exhausted from the intense negative emotions that had raged in him. "I see I'm getting nowhere. I'll leave now - the hypocrisy in here has fouled the air."
He turned around, swishing his wand, and the blankets that made up his bed packed themselves in his trunk.
"You can't leave, Potter," came Snape's hoarse voice from behind him. "You won't get past the wards surrounding the Dark Lord's Horcruxes without my help."
Harry whirled around. "Then what do you suggest?" he demanded, harshly. "You have become more of a danger than help."
Snape put his thumb and forefinger on the bridge of his nose and massaged it for a few seconds. "I suggest you stay here," he said with a sigh, "and I'll try my best to put the past behind me."
The sneer Harry wore wouldn't have been out of place on Snape's face. "In other words, you are going to try to act like an adult for the first time in your life."
Snape opened his mouth to deliver an angry retort, but Dumbledore spoke first. "Harry!" he chided, looking surprised at Harry's remark. "Severus is willing to put aside his differences and give you a chance!"
Harry looked at the portrait dispassionately. "So what? It's the chance he should have given me more than six years ago. Am I suppose to cry from joy, now that he has decided in his eternal wisdom that I am worthy of being treated as something else than James Potter's brat?" The comment was laced with enough sarcasm to poison a hardcore cynic.
Dumbledore's shoulders slumped. "No. I suppose not. But still, it is a chance."
"I know." Turning toward Snape, he said: "Does putting the past behind you include letting my father rest in peace?"
The ex-Professor glowered at him. "Have your feeble little mind conveniently forgotten that your father and Black attempted to murder me?"
"I suppose you are referring to the incident with Remus?" Harry asked with a long-suffering sigh. He walked over to the armchair and seated himself. "Let's try to reason it out, then. How close was Sirius to Remus when they attended Hogwarts?"
"Close," Snape said with a scowl.
Snape rolled his eyes. "Not as close as Black and your father, but still nigh inseparable."
"How would Remus have felt if he woke up after the full moon, and found your mutilated corpse beside him?"
Snape stiffened in his chair. For all his faults, Snape didn't lack intelligence. He knew exactly where Harry was going. "Horrible," he said after a moment.
"He would have been absolutely devastated," Dumbledore elaborated. "The Board of Governors would have forced me to expel him. And you know the penalty for a werewolf-murderer; death."
"So the question is," Harry said quietly, "do you really think Sirius would have done that to Remus, just so he could get revenge on you?"
"What kind of question is that?" Snape snarled. "That's exactly what he did! Perhaps they weren't as close as everyone thought."
"Or perhaps it was the rash actions of a schoolboy who didn't think things through," Dumbledore said. "Although a fine student, Sirius could be something of a loose cannon."
Snape rose and paced around the table to stand facing away from them, hands tucked behind his back. "I didn't believe that explanation twenty years ago, Albus. I don't believe it now, either."
"Because you /don't want to/," Harry said flatly. Snape twitched, but didn't turn around. Harry sighed. "Be that as it may, Sirius and my father are /dead/. What's the point in hating them anymore?"
Snape didn't say anything for a few, long moments. Finally, he scowled at Harry over his shoulder. "You know, logical reasoning like that is not something I've come to associate with you, Potter."
Harry shrugged. "Told you I've raided your library. One of the books I came across was /Logic and Its Use in the Wizarding World./"
Snape blinked in surprise and turned to face Harry fully. "You read /that?/"
"Well, ever since we found Slytherin's locket, I haven't had much else to do but to read and practice magic."
"I suppose that's also the explanation behind your new skill in non-verbal magic?"
"Yes." Harry paused slightly. "And you are trying to avoid the subject of this conversation."
Snape gave him an unreadable look. "This... isn't easy for me, Potter. I find myself in the unenviable position of having to re-evaluate many of my fundamental beliefs about you."
"Don't give me that!" Harry said coldly. "If I can ignore every crime you have committed against me and try to cooperate with you, then you can damn well meet me half-way!"
Snape sighed and rubbed his face with a hand. He looked back up, and a look of determination appeared his face. "I'll try," he said curtly.
Finally, Harry allowed himself to relax into the armchair. Part of him didn't want to believe any promise from Snape just on general principle. Another part, however, acknowledged that Snape was far too proud to indirectly prove that a mere Gryffindor had better control over his emotions than Snape himself.
"Marvellous!" Dumbledore's portrait said, eyes twinkling. "Severus, may I make the suggestion that you teach Harry the finer parts of Occlumency?"
Snape grunted as he walked over to his chair and sat back down. "The method he uses to clear his mind is crude, but it works. The first step would be to refine it, then work on practicing Occlumency while being distracted." His eyes took on a far-away look as he considered. "A few advanced duelling-techniques would be useful as well. Maybe..." He trailed off as he suddenly saw Harry fiddling with what looked like a Muggle combination-padlock, before pocketing it. "What was that?" he asked.
"A padlock," Harry said, and tried to look innocent.
"Yes, I saw that," Snape said with narrowed eyes. He didn't need Legilimency to realize something was up. "Why were you playing with it?"
"There is a Protean Charm on it," Harry explained. He pointed his wand over his shoulder and unsealed the door. "When I change the numbers on my padlock, the numbers on its twin also change. I just sent the all clear signal."
"And who, if I may ask, has the other padlock?" Snape asked silkily.
"Ron and Hermione," Harry said cheerfully. "They've been tailing us ever since you contacted me."
"Well, Potter," Snape sneered. "Just as you show a glimmer of hope, that glimmer vanishes. What kind of idiocy possessed you to think that this was a good idea?"
"For starters, Ron and Hermione would have tried to follow us anyway. We might have been able to shake them, but then there's no telling what kind of danger they'd end up in. At least this way, I'd know when they'd be in danger and not. Besides," Harry smiled coolly, "Hermione is the most intelligent witch I have ever met, and Ron is one of the very few people in the world that I'd trust with my life." He stared directly into Snape's eyes. "They're part of this, whether you like it or not."
Snape rolled his eyes heavenward. "A /fait accompli/, then? Well, I suppose I don't have any real choice but to-"
There was a knock on the door. "Come in," Harry called.
The door went up and three people entered the room catiously; Ron, Hermione and - to Harry total surprise - a petite redhead he knew very well.
"Ginny!" he exclaimed. "What in the nine hells are you doing here?"
"Nice to see you too, Harry," she said sweetly and walked over to give him a kiss on the cheek.
"But what are you doing here?" he said, agitated. "You're supposed to be safe at the Burrow!"
Ginny's only response was to plop down in his lap, slide her arms around his neck, and catch his lips with her own in a hard kiss. Harry's arms flailed around for a couple seconds, before he gave in to the inevitable and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer.
Snape rolled his eyes. "Oh, for heaven's sake," he muttered.
Harry never knew how long the kiss lasted, but when they finally broke off they were both flushed and breathing hard. Ginny's cheeks had a rosy flare to her cheeks, but she remained sitting in his lap and gave him a challenging look.
"Um-" Harry gave himself a shake. "Uh, Ron?"
"She used a Disillusionment Charm on herself and followed us on a broom," Ron said quickly.
Hermione looked smug. "I told you she'd find a way."
Harry frowned at Ginny. "Look-"
No one ever got to know what Harry was about to say, because Ginny decided to silence him again with a new kiss. This time she slid her tongue inside, drawing a surprised and delighted moan from Harry.
"Stop that!" Snape complained. "It's nauseating to watch!"
They broke apart a few moments later, panting for breath. Ginny rested her forehead against his shoulder.
"Um, are you going to kiss me every time I try to convince you that you should go back to the Burrow?" Harry asked weakly.
"That's the plan," Ginny said, somewhat breathlessly. Harry seriously considered arguing further for that reason alone, but he suddenly remembered that he was in the same room as her older brother (who was looking away with a pained expression), a snaky ex-Professor (who looked queasy) and a former Headmaster (whose eyes twinkled stronger than in a long time).
"Well, I- I suppose you can stay," Harry muttered, rather embarrassed.
He could feel Ginny grinning. "You assume you have a choice," she said.
"So, what did we miss?" Ron said impatiently. He hesitantly turned around to face them, as if not entirely sure it was safe to watch. "Why did you tell us to come when Snape is still here?"
"Snape just agreed to let the past be past and actually teach me stuff," Harry said, gesturing toward the former Professor. "Like Occlumency and duelling."
Ron snorted. "Yeah, right. And you just saw You-Know-Who dancing in a pink tutu. So what did we miss?"
As always, thanks to my fateful betareader: The Phoenix King