Later that night, Harry helped Snape up the stairs, his leg a bit better, but healing slowly due to the magical nature of the the injury.
“You can have Ron’s room,” he said, throat tight. “Here.”
Harry helped him inside, obviously not having to worry about possessions. He had none.
“Well, there you are. I’m two doors down if you need anything,” Harry said, playing host. Seeing no reason for him to stay, Harry turned to leave.
“Harry,” Snape said before he could clear the doorway.
Almost reluctantly, Harry turned back. “Yeah?”
“Thank you,” Snape said with some effort. Looking a bit pained, he continued, “And I apologize. It is my fault that your friends left; I know how much they mean to you.”
“How could you possibly know?” Harry muttered, almost annoyed.
“You never did keep up with your Occlumency,” Snape said simply.
“Right,” Harry replied. “Well, thanks, I guess. It’s not your fault, really,” he said automatically.
“It is and we are both aware of it,” Severus said. “I would have thought Mr. Weasley more loyal to you. He must hate me almost as much as you do.”
“Did,” Harry corrected. “And yeah, it seems that way, doesn’t it?” He paused, searching for words. “Well, at least we killed the cup.”
“Yes,” Snape said, voice distant. “I truly did not think I would make it out.”
“I didn’t think you did,” Harry admitted.
“You were probably glad to be rid of me,” Snape said darkly.
Harry didn’t reply to that. “I lost my invisibility cloak in there.”
“I lost my house and all of my potions,” Snape countered.
“Sorry,” Harry replied.
Snape looked resigned. “A twist of fate.”
“Well, er, we’ll find you something to wear. I think Sirius’s old robes are still in my room.”
“Fabulous,” Snape muttered.
“A twist of irony,” Harry replied in a slightly mocking voice. Snape gave him a look. Harry turned back towards the door. “Er, goodnight then, I guess.”
Harry was halfway out the door before he thought of something that seemed like it needed to be said. Before he lost his nerve, that was. “Severus,” he said hesitantly. “I’m glad you did survive.”
Severus simply looked him, met his eyes, and nodded once. Feeling unnerved, Harry left.
Harry paced his room, feeling restless. It had been a long day and his body was crying for sleep, but Harry’s mind just wouldn’t stop. Ron was gone; his best friend since his very first day at Hogwarts. It didn’t seem real to Harry.
Hermione knocked lightly at the door before stepping inside. Her eyes were red and her hair more disheveled than usual.
“Harry,” she said. “Are you alright?”
Harry shrugged. “You?”
Hermione sighed. “I honestly can’t say I didn’t see it coming. I mean, the look on his face when you came with Snape...”
“So be it,” Harry said simply, sitting down on his bed. Hermione moved to sit next to him, patting his shoulder.
“Just give him some time to cool down and maybe he’ll be back,” Hermione said hopefully. Harry shrugged. “In the meantime, maybe you could tell me what’s going on.”
“There’s a lot to tell. How much time do you have?” Harry asked with a touch of snideness in his voice.
“As much as you need,” Hermione replied, pulling her legs on to the bed more comfortably. “Start at the beginning.”
“The beginning...” Harry repeated, voice distant.
“Well, you set out of here in a rage, all set to murder Snape. What changed your mind?” She added quickly, “Not that I’m disappointed that you didn’t commit murder, but...”
Harry took a deep breath. “Did Ron tell you about my being...bound to get revenge?”
A look of alarm flickered over Hermione’s face. “No.”
Harry fiddled with his hands before shoving them in his pockets. “Yes, well, when I saw Snape kill Dumbledore, I, er, did a bit of unintentional magic. I swore I’d get revenge on Snape, make him feel the pain I was in at that moment. I’d kill him, I figured. I didn’t realize until later that I was actually magically bound. Whenever I tried to leave, to walk away, it kept pulling me back, like an itch under your skin.”
“So that’s why you stuck with him.”
The easy answer would have been “yes”, but Harry figured that if he was going to tell her everything, he might as well be completely honest. “No. I mean, maybe at first, but not after that. I barged into his hideout, ready to kill him but he made me see sense first. He stopped me by saying he knew how to kill Voldemort. Even if it was just a bluff, I couldn’t blow that chance away. You know as well as I that we didn’t have a clue.” Harry paused for a breather. “Since other people obviously knew where he was hiding, we moved, went to Snape’s family home. Gosh, was it awkward.”
Hermione scoffed. “I’ll bet that’s putting it mildly.”
“We argued. A lot. I said some really nasty things, but so did he,” Harry said, thinking back. “Eventually he told me how to kill Voldemort.”
“How’s that?” Hermione asked curiously.
Harry explained briefly about Horcruxes and what they suspected Voldemort’s were. “Your fiendfyre idea was genius.”
Hermione grinned. “Glad to say I helped defeat Voldemort. Go on, then. How did you get the cup?”
“We broke into Bellatrix Lestrange’s manor,” Harry said simply. With a pang, he realized he didn’t know if she was currently alive or dead. “I stole the cup, Snape got caught. Tortured a bit, I think. I managed to break him out and we escaped. I think that was the turning point.”
Hermione blinked at him. “You still hated him at that point, but you saved him? That was very good of you, Harry. I’m proud.”
With a bit of shame, Harry admitted, “It was half because of the spell. Leaving him would have screwed things up for revenge, you know?”
“So anyway, we got the cup back. The next day, I learned some... interesting things about Snape and things really changed,” Harry said earnestly.
“What’d you learn?” asked Hermione.
Harry hesitated. “I don’t think I should say.”
Hermione nodded. “I understand. So from then on you guys stopped hating each other?”
Harry shrugged. “I almost walked out, almost left. But then we realized that the cup had been making me angry. Well, at least that was part of the reason. After that, we didn’t argue quite so much and I got him to call me ‘Harry’ instead of ‘Potter’. I’m even allowed to call him ‘Severus’,” he said smugly.
Hermione looked at him in astonishment. “You’re joking.”
“Yep,” Harry said with a grin. He continued his story. “After you told us fiendfyre would do the trick, we made some preparations to contain it. It was all ready to go when I got a vision that Bellatrix and the Death Eaters were at the house, about to break in. We got out of there, exchanged a few nice curses with them. The cup fell, rolled out of reach. It was a suicide mission to go get it so Snape cast fiendfyre, forced me to leave,” Harry said, voice taking on a detached quality. “I watched it burn from the outside, the house, that is. Everyone inside it. I thought Snape had died.”
“And you were sad,” Hermione said softly with what seemed like sudden realization that it was the truth.
Harry nodded, admitting it. “But then he was there. Nimby had brought him out. And then we came here.”
“Nimby?” Hermione asked. “Who’s that?”
“Snape’s house elf.”
“Where is she now?” she asked, looking around illogically.
Harry blinked, remembering. “That’s right, we sent her here but told her to stay out of sight.” He called out, “Nimby?”
With a pop, he materialized. “Mr. Harry called?”
“Just making sure you were here,” Harry replied.
“How are you, Nimby?” Hermione asked, brows knitting together in worry. “Were you hurt?”
Nimby shook his head, long ears flapping. “No, ma’m. Nimby just fine.”
“But are you happ-”
“Hermione,” Harry cut her off. “Now isn’t really the time.”
Hermione frowned but nodded.
“Nimby, you can do whatever you want,” Harry said. He trusted him far more than he trusted Kreacher. “As far as I’m concerned, you’ve earned all the leisure time you want.”
“Nimby will be in the kitchens, sir,” he squeaked.
Harry smiled. “Okay, I’ll tell Snape.”
He disappeared with another pop. Hermione shook her head.
“What?” Harry demanded.
“Nothing,” she insisted. “It’s just...this is all so strange, you know? I would never in a million years have guessed things would end up like this.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah. I know what you mean. I feel the same way.” He paused. “Do you think we can convince the others that Snape is alright? I mean, I think they stayed on my word alone, not because they really believe he’s helping us.”
“Your word is worth more than you’d think,” Hermione assured him.
“Not to Ron, apparently,” Harry muttered.
Hermione looked away, her eyes suddenly watery.
“Sorry,” Harry replied. “I, uh...”
“It’s alright,” Hermione said quietly, swiping at her eyes. “We were fighting a lot lately anyway.”
Trying to distract her, Harry asked, “So what’d I miss on the DA front?”
Hermione composed herself and replied, “You know that warehouse Dean and Seamus went back to check out?”
“Yeah,” Harry replied, prickling at the names. “Did they find something?”
Hermione nodded. “They found some remains of a Death Eater hideout. Just trivial bits, really, but it was enough to get everyone stirred up. A couple more ‘sightings’ came in. The usual, you know, vague, highly improbable, but with you gone, everyone was less organized. I tried to reign them in, but they don’t listen to me the way they listen to you,” she said, looking at him with large eyes. “They jumped on leads that fell through. Everyone was disappointed, obviously, but no one was hurt. That’s what started the fighting. Tempers ran high, and, well, we have a large number of Gryffindors. Or we did, anyway.”
Harry sighed. “I kind of wish I didn’t have this responsibility,” he said in a resigned way.
Hermione patted his shoulder. “You know, we do have an adult among us now.”
Harry gave her a look. “Yeah, like anyone is going to listen to Snape. He’ll never be able to get them to trust him.”
“He got you to,” Hermione said, standing. She gave his shoulder a light squeeze. “If you need anything, I’ll be downstairs.”
Harry nodded. “Thanks, Hermione. For everything.”
Hermione smiled at him and left.
Harry looked around his room, realizing that it was just as he left it. He had claimed Sirius’s room for himself because, despite the pangs of sadness it inspired, he couldn’t bear to have anyone but himself in Sirius’s room. Moving to the closet, Harry pulled out a few robes that seemed to be in decent shape, as well as socks and underwear in bright Gryffindor red and gold. He grinned lightly. Snape would be thrilled. Tossing them in a pile on the chair next to which he stood, Harry changed into some fresh clothes that he had left behind.
As he went to toss his dirty robes into the hamper, Harry realized rather suddenly that there was something still in his pocket. He reached inside and pulled out the two frayed sections of gold ribbon. Harry tossed his robes down and fingered the ribbon. The one thing that had survived from Snape’s house, save the clothes on their backs. Harry wasn’t sure if the ribbon was important, and he was quite sure Snape wasn’t sentimental, but Harry set the ribbons on Snape’s pile of clothes anyway.
Exhausted, Harry curled up into his bed and tried to sleep. It did not come easily, for every time Harry closed his eyes, all he could see and hear were the flames of fiendfyre and the screams of the Death Eaters.
AN: Come on guys, I really need you to vote in the comments of the Writing Games!! The more votes I get, the faster I'll post! Seeing as I'm in the lead right now, I got this chapter ready for you. I might need some inspiration *cough* votes *cough* for the next one, though... Please, please vote! Kreacher's French Onion soup for anyone who does :)