Harry was just throwing the last of his things into his bag when Ron appeared at the door. He stepped inside without a word and shut the door behind him. Harry looked up but did not comment.
Ron stood with his hands in his pockets. “I’ll come with you, mate.”
Harry shook his head, latching the bag closed and hefting it on his shoulder. “No. I do this alone, or I don’t do it.”
“Then don’t,” Ron said simply, blocking Harry’s path to the door.
“I have to,” Harry replied, looking up at his slightly taller friend.
“No you don’t.”
Harry shook his head in frustration. “You don’t understand.”
“How can I not understand?” Ron replied, anger rising. “I miss Charlie just as much as you miss Dumbledore! But I know there’s no use in getting yourself killed before you can defeat You-Know-Who,” Ron said loudly.
Harry let out a sigh. “That’s the Hermione in you talking. I must do this. I’m bound.”
“You’re what?” Ron breathed.
“Bound. By magic,” Harry replied. He added, “It was unintentional.”
Ron blinked at him.
“I can feel it pulling me towards him now. Rather annoying, really,” Harry said with an attempt at flippancy.
“Oh,” Ron said simply, trying to comprehend this. “Then why can’t I come?”
“Because I don’t want you to.”
Ron opened his mouth to protest but Harry cut him off.
“It’s nothing personal; I don’t want anyone to come. I told you, I want to do this alone,” Harry insisted. “Please accept that.”
Ron shut his mouth and Harry gave him a small smile. He clapped him on the arm and walked past him from the room. With heavy steps, Harry wandered downstairs to the door where most of the people staying at Grimmauld place were waiting for him. He looked around at their faces with a heavy heart. Harry dearly hoped that he would see them again. He almost regretted the surge of emotion that had made him cast that spell. If only he had better control over his emotions... Harry shook himself.
“Well, uh, I guess this is goodbye... for a while,” Harry said to the gathered group. “Er, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I’ll send you guys a patronus message when I can.”
Hermione stepped to Harry’s elbow with a doleful expression. “Be safe, Harry. Don’t do anything stupid.” She wrapped him in a tight embrace as others echoed similar sentiments and expressions of good fortune.
Harry looked around at his friends one last time and, after giving a nod to Ron, stepped out onto the landing. A while ago, Shacklebolt had informed them that it was safe for them to use magic, even underage. Apparently, the Ministry, though under the control of Voldemort, had suffered a sabotage on their underage magic detecting equipment. Though not directly stated, it was implied that Shacklebolt was responsible, giving Harry and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army a fighting chance. It was much appreciated. Since then, they had practiced spells that seemed useful, learning both how to apparate and send several different kinds of insubstantial messages.
It was apparation which Harry used now, even though he had absolutely no idea where he was going. The pull of the charm on him was so strong that Harry put his faith in it to direct him to where he needed to be. It was a large risk but at this point, Harry was not keen on playing it safe.
Harry spun on the spot, careful not to leave the step. Feeling his body compressed and then released as he travelled through space, Harry dearly hoped that he would end up, at the very least, whole. With a crack, Harry came to a stop and was forced to stagger to regain his balance. Once he did so, he immediately drew his wand and looked around; habit born of far too many Death Eater ambushes.
With shocking suddenness, a thought crossed Harry’s mind. What if this was an ambush? What if Snape is really here but brought a whole bunch of Death Eaters with him? Harry’s heart raced as he raised his wand higher in the darkness, eyes darting from shadow to shadow. He was lucky that it was dark for he had no idea whether this was a muggle or wizarding part of town and here he was in plain view, hefting his wand.
Some leaves to Harry’s right shifted in the wind and he spun, spells leaping to mind, springing to the tip of his wand. He searched in the darkness but could see nothing but a pile of leaves next to a small house with walls of gray stone. A light was on within but the window was too high for Harry to see through. About to dismiss it, Harry paused. There was something about that house that he couldn’t place. Unable to shake the feeling that this house was somehow important or familiar, Harry crept closer. He raised on his toes to try and see into the window but he was simply too short.
Harry bit his lip and thought for a moment. Pulling one of the twins’ newest creations from his bag, Harry held the glass dome-shaped viewing screen to his eye and used his wand to levitate the artificial Extendable Eye to the very edge of the window. As the picture materialized before him, Harry’s chest seized. It was Snape, that much was obvious. He sat before a roaring fire, thick book open in his lap and stringy hair falling across his face. Harry let the eye fall.
He had found him. He had actually found him. In truth, Harry had been more than uncertain about whether or not his plan would succeed. He certainly hadn’t expected for it to happen this fast. Harry sunk to the ground and shivered. It just now occured to him how powerful that charm must have been to lead him straight to Snape on his first try. He had been gone from Grimmauld place for all of ten minutes and was already faced with task for which he had set out. That much power in an unintentional spell was staggering.
Harry fingered his wand, trying to find the anger that had filled him not long ago. For some reason, now of all times, it was elusive. Harry began to doubt whether or not he could actually hurt Snape, as much as he hated the man. The spell tugged at Harry’s consciousness like an annoying buzz in his ear. Harry bit his lip. After another moment of resisting, he got to his feet and strode to the door with a purpose. This was what he had set out to do when he dropped out of Hogwarts: to hunt Death Eaters. And of all Death Eaters, this was the one whom he hated the most; the one whom he held a very personal vendetta against. This was the man who killed Dumbledore, the man who destroyed Harry’s only hope of defeating Voldemort, the man who had shattered Harry’s life. Remembering the flash of green on the Astronomy tower not so long ago on Harry’s last night at Hogwarts, he gripped his wand and fired a blasting curse at the door.
With a crash, the door shattered inwards, shards of wood littering the inside of the room in which Snape was settled. Harry charged in without hesitation and aimed his wand at Snape, remembering where he was from his glimpse into the window.
“Don’t,” Harry growled as Snape froze, hand on the way to his wand which was lying on the stand next to him.
Snape slowly lowered his hand to his side and stood facing Harry, hatred obvious on his face.
“How did you find me?” he asked in a low voice.
“That’s not important,” Harry replied. He had Snape in the perfect position for him to take action yet Harry hesitated. He merely stood there, wand pointed.
“Come for revenge, have you?” Snape asked in a bored voice.
“You killed Dumbledore,” Harry accused. “You deserve to die.”
Something flashed in Snape’s eyes but Harry could not read them. Snape sneered. “Once again your Gryffindor instincts have you rushing blindly into that which you do not know.”
“What’s there not to know?” Harry demanded. “You killed Dumbledore. I saw it. I watched you.”
“Perhaps that was the way it was meant to be,” Snape stated.
“Don’t give me that fate crap.”
Snape raised an eyebrow and Harry felt a twinge of annoyance and a fresh surge of hatred at his attitude. “Is fate the only answer? You are fully aware of Dumbledore’s... strange ways.”
Harry scoffed. “What, are you going to tell me that Dumbledore wanted you to kill him?” He let out a harsh laugh.
Harry froze, looking at his former professor in surprise and suspicion. “You’re lying.”
“I am not,” Snape stated.
“How would I know whether or not you’re lying? You obviously fooled Dumbledore all of those years,” Harry snapped, thinking aloud. “I should just kill you now.”
“You would regret it if you did,” Snape offered.
Harry’s eyes narrowed. “Why?” His suspicion was thinly veiled. This was an obvious attempt to get Harry to spare his life, but Harry had caught on to this trick and set his mind against it influencing his action.
“Because I know how to defeat the Dark Lord.”
That was, unless Snape said exactly the thing that would seed doubt in Harry’s mind. Harry drew in a sharp breath. “You’re lying,” Harry accused again.
“I am not,” Snape repeated. “Dumbledore told me everything at the time which we arranged his death.”
Harry looked at him. “Why would he tell you? He had to have known you’re a Death Eater. Why didn’t he tell me?” Harry couldn’t keep the hurt out of his voice and Snape noticed.
Snape paused for a long moment. “I have been a spy for him for years. Why do you think I am hiding here? I certainly do not fear you and your friends.”
Harry wanted to protest but couldn’t deny the sense that made.
“He had planned on telling you but circumstances changed and his death was required earlier than expected. You were there. You know how much warning we had when the Death Eaters invaded. Even I was not informed by the Dark Lord beforehand,” Snape said bitterly.
Harry thought this over, his wand never leaving his target. “Why are the Death Eaters chasing you? You killed Dumbledore, isn’t that a perk in your sick society?” Harry asked, feeling as if he had trapped Snape.
Snape took this in stride and answered, “They became suspicious of me after I refused to give up Grimmauld place.”
Harry’s brow furrowed. “Lupin said you were under an Unbreakable Vow. It wasn’t your choice.”
Snape shook his head. “That was what I told people. The Dark Lord, for one, did not believe me. The Death Eaters tend to believe what he does and thus, I am here. It appears Lupin is a little more trusting.”
Harry stayed silent, trying to find fault with that. His arm was getting tired.
As if sensing this, Snape asked snidely, “Going to point that at me all night?”
Harry frowned at him and spied Snape’s wand on the stand. Keeping his own wand raised the whole time, he went to pick up Snape’s, shoving it into his wand pocket. After a wary look at the dark man, he lowered his weary arm, hoping it was the right move.
“How can I kill Voldemort?” Harry demanded.
“I am hardly going to tell you,” Snape scoffed. Harry’s eyes flashed, feeling he had been fooled. Snape shook his head and added, “If I did, you would kill me. There would be no reason to keep me alive.”
That was a valid hypothesis.
“But you do know how?” Harry asked sharply.
“Yes. You will not be able to do it alone.”
“Then...what?” Harry asked, disturbed and frowning slightly.
Snape gave a half shrug. “As abhorrent as it seems to me, and I assume you will find it equally so, it appears we will have to work together.”