Harry blinked. “No.”
“Do you see any alternative?” Snape asked with a sneer. “I can assure you, I find no part of this appealing. I have to put up with the famous, arrogant, untalented Potter,” he spat.
Harry’s eyes narrowed at the insult. “And I have to put up with a Dark Death Eater murderer.”
“I still believe I got the worse end,” Snape said stiffly.
“Humble too,” Harry said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
Snape didn’t reply but took a seat in the chair by the fireplace. “You might as well sit. It doesn’t seem like you are going anywhere,” he said before adding in a low tone, “Regrettably.”
“Look, even if we, somehow, manage to work together, what are we going to do? What’s the first move?”
“I have already taken it,” Snape replied in an inscrutable tone, arms crossed against his chest.
Snape leaned forward. “In order to defeat him, there are certain things that we must find. I have found one of them. Therefore, I have taken the first step. Understand?” he asked, sneering in a way that implied Harry was thick.
“What do we need to find? Where is it?” Harry asked.
Snape’s dark eyes searched him for a moment. “I do not trust you enough to tell you.”
“And I don’t trust you at all.”
“Exactly,” Snape replied flatly. He seemed content to let the matter drop.
Harry sighed in exasperation. “So, what? We going to sit here and do trust building exercises while my friends hold off You-Know-Who?”
“They could go back to Hogwarts,” Snape commented.
“Hogwarts is half run by Death Eaters,” Harry said bitterly. “You know that.”
“Then it is their choice to put themselves in danger. Let them.”
Harry stared at his Professor in disgust. “This is never going to work.”
“But I have to defeat him!” Harry insisted.
Harry growled in frustration. “How can anybody stand you?”
Snape turned his dark eyes upon him. “They don’t. They leave.”
Somewhere, Harry felt a twinge of sympathy that was quickly overwhelmed by his annoyance and hatred of the man. “Well, I’m not. I can’t.”
Snape looked indifferent.
“But we can’t stay here,” Harry pointed out.
“Why not?” Snape asked, staring dully at the flames. His mood seemed to have abruptly changed over the past few minutes. Now, he seemed almost resigned to being forced to work with Harry.
“I found you, remember?” Harry said. “The Ministry knows where you are.”
Snape cursed. “Most unfortunate.”
“Do you have somewhere else we can go?” Harry asked.
Harry hesitated. “Er, yeah.” He didn’t trust Snape enough to let him out of his sight. If he disappeared, Harry would be stuck with no information.
Snape looked deadly. “Yes,” he snapped. “I had wished to avoid it, but yes.” Snape stood abruptly. “We ought to leave now then. I have no idea how long it will be before the Death Eaters get a chance to come after me,” he said bitterly.
Harry stood as well, picking up his pack. Snape fetched his own case and held out his hand for his wand. He and Harry had a momentary stare-down before Harry figured that he would have to give it back to him sometime if this was to succeed. Jerkily, Harry handed Snape his wand. Snape’s face remained blank as he took it and cancelled the anti-apparation spells around the house. They stood facing each other and Snape looked at Harry in disgust.
“Uh... I don’t know where we’re going,” Harry pointed out. He couldn’t apparate without knowing.
Looking as if it took a great deal of physical effort, Snape offered his arm. Trying to suppress his revulsion, Harry grabbed on. They stood there awkwardly for a moment, both looking away before Snape apparated them away.
They landed in the tangled weeds of an overgrown lawn.
“Inside, now,” Snape commanded, thrusting his case at Harry.
Snape raised his wand high in the air, muttering strings of words that Harry assumed were to protect the place. Harry, lugging both sets of luggage, made his way inside the house. It was dark but not simply from lack of lighting. The carpets were black, the walls gray and the lighting dim. Harry stepped in tentatively, floorboards creaking as he did so. He walked down the hallway carefully, passing a doorway to the kitchen along the way.
“Master here?” a voice said behind him. Harry jumped and spun, dropping Snape’s case as he did so.
A scrawny house elf stood behind him, looking old and irritable.
“Uh, yeah, he’s outside,” Harry said.
“Nimby clean quickly then,” the elf said, disappearing with a sparkle.
Harry blinked. He had no idea that Snape had a house elf of his own; from what he could tell, they were reserved for prominent or rich families. With a shrug, he continued on, coming to a stop at the sitting room of sorts. The fireplace had wood in it but was unlit.
“Incendio,” Harry muttered and fire sprang to life.
Harry looked around the room in the fresh light. A coating of dust was over everything, presumably why Nimby was hurrying to clean up. Harry wandered over to the mantle, moving closer to study the few picture frames. On each side of a bowl of Floo powder was a silver rimmed picture frame. Harry blew away the cover of dust from the one on the left to reveal a wizarding photograph of a much younger Snape with a small redhead girl. Lily. Harry watched as they laughed together and Lily tossed her hair over her shoulder.
“What are you doing?” a dark voice snapped.
Harry spun around, facing Snape who was almost livid.
“You have no right to touch that,” Snape growled, moving to the mantle. He took down both picture frames and put them in his pocket.
“Sorry,” Harry said, trying not to sound afraid. In truth, there was almost no one more intimidating than Snape.
Snape lowered his voice, making him sound even more dangerous. “Let us get this one thing clear. This is not your house. You are not to touch anything. You are not to go in rooms with closed doors. You are NOT to make yourself at home.”
Harry gulped and nodded. With an intense look, Snape swept away. Harry’s heart calmed as Snape walked over to an end table and ran his finger across it. It seemed as if the elf had used his magic without Harry noticing for Snape seemed to approve.
“Nimby,” Snape barked.
With a pop, the tiny figure appeared. “Welcome, Master.”
“Mr. Potter here will need a room. Maybe one of the small ones on the second floor. You will also have to start cooking meals again.”
“Yes, sir,” he squeaked. “Should Nimby call Mr. Potter ‘master’, sir?”
“NO,” Snape snapped.
Nimby flinched. “Nimby sorry sir. Nimby will go now.” He disappeared.
Harry and Snape stood for a moment in silence.
“Was that really necessary?” Harry risked asking. “He was just trying to be helpful.”
“Well he wasn’t,” Snape replied, moving to pick up his case.
“What is this place?”
Snape didn’t answer for a long minute. “My parents’ house. I inherited it but haven’t set foot inside since I was eighteen.”
Harry stayed quiet and Snape unlatched the case, setting it on the low wooden table in front of the couch. He opened it with careful hands and an intent expression. Harry could see over the edge and found it lined with potions bottles, ingredients and other small packets. All of it was covered in a thin film of red. Snape reached in and picked up the neck of a bottle, framed with jagged glass at the broken edge.
Harry swallowed as Snape looked at it, then at him. The silence was as jagged as the glass shards in the case.
“This was not broken when I packed it,” Snape stated, looking at Harry.
“Er...” Harry trailed off, thinking back. “I, uh, dropped it. Nimby said something from behind and I was startled.”
Snape’s expression turned stony. “This potion takes over six months to brew. It was my only bottle.”
Harry winced. “Sorry.” He had come to confront Snape with such a cocky, confident attitude but now it was like he was back in school. And Snape was more frightening than ever.
“Go to your room.”
Harry’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding.”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?” Snape asked dryly.
He didn’t. “You can’t order me to my room like I’m five.”
“You had a room when you were five?” Snape asked with a sneer.
The chilly silence in the room let it be known that he had gone too far. The hatred that had, for the moment, faded, came back in full force.
“How dare you?” Harry breathed harshly.
“If you don’t like my rules, then leave,” Snape said, not seeming to realize how badly that had cut Harry. Maybe that was his intention. And now, he knew how sensitive Harry was to the topic. Harry had just handed him a new weapon.
Harry turned on a heel, storming from the room. In the hall, he paused between the hall that led to the outside and the stairs going up. He could leave. It wouldn’t be so hard. He could leave and forget that Snape ever existed. As if. Just thinking of leaving brought back the itch in his mind that had faded.
So Harry thought of staying and the irritation faded. Did that mean that by staying, he could get revenge? What, kill Snape in his sleep? It was a possibility, but one that Harry really didn’t want to entertain. Harry had never killed anyone, not really. He didn’t count the Tom Riddle apparation or Quirrell/Voldemort as a person. Could he even do it?
Harry pushed that to the side of his mind and focused on the issue at hand. He supposed he would stay and see how things played out. The pull was simply too much to resist. Harry turned and stuck his head back in the room in which Snape was located.
“I’m going to my room but not because you ordered me to,” Harry said petulantly.
“Believe what you wish,” Snape said dismissively.
“Really, it’s bigger than that,” Harry replied, feeling stupid. Snape didn’t seem to care. Harry shrugged and headed up the stairs. Several closed doors were on the right and left and Harry headed for the single one that was open. Nimby was inside, tidying up.
“Room is ready mas- Mr. Potter,” Nimby said, looking down and wringing his hands.
“Thanks, Nimby,” Harry replied, dropping his pack on the floor.
Nimby’s eyes got wide. “No need to thank Nimby,” he squeaked before disappearing abruptly.
Harry frowned at the strangeness of all of this but shrugged and went to close the door. The sun was just beginning to come up and Harry could see horizon’s glow through the small window on the wall. The bed was small and with a dark gray comforter and green sheets. Typical. Harry threw himself on the bed, glad that he was short enough to fit comfortably. He crossed his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling. This was not going as planned, not by a long shot.
Harry lay that way, thinking, for a long time. Eventually, as the room got brighter, Harry got up. Figuring that he ought to send a message to his friends, he pulled out his wand and cast a patronus. The stag stood in the center of the small room, taking up almost a quarter of it.
“I’m fine and safe, I hope. There’s been a change of plan. Tell the Order NOT to go after Snape.”
He flicked his wand and the stag cantered away, hopefully towards Grimmauld place. Harry slumped back down on the bed, feeling no desire to unpack. He was specifically told not to settle in and, though he disliked rules, Harry had no inclination to disobey this particular one.
A knock sounded on the door and Harry turned. “Come in,” he said flatly, hoping it wasn’t Snape.
It was Nimby. “Master says it's time for breakfast.”
“Okay,” Harry replied, wondering what food they would have. Over at Grimmauld place, the food was scant and not particularly appealing. Kreacher had long since disappeared and no one knew to where. Harry followed Nimby down the stairs, watching his floppy ears bounce with each step.
Harry wandered into the kitchen and stopped, finding Snape at the table. It just now occurred to him that he might be forced to make conversation. Snape looked up at him, then back down at his newspaper, not saying a thing. Harry pulled out a chair and sat as Nimby came in with a large tray of eggs, toast, and bacon. Harry waited for Snape to finish before he served himself and then they both ate in silence. Even though Harry didn’t want to make conversation, the silence was still awkward.
When Harry finished, he wasn’t sure what to do. He certainly wasn’t going to ask to be excused but it seemed...odd somehow to just get up and leave. Harry looked over at Snape who was staring at him intently and jolted. He met his gaze for a moment before deliberately getting up and pushing in his chair.
“We must plan our next move and get this partnership over with as soon as possible,” Snape stated.
“Right,” Harry replied. “Are we capable of sitting down and having a civilized conversation?”
“I do not know. Are we?” Snape asked snidely. “We could always stand.”
Harry breathed out in frustration. “See? That’s the thing. You’ve got to stop with your stupid sarcasm.”
“My ‘stupid sarcasm’?” Snape asked slowly. “Very intelligently worded.”
Harry balled his fists and forced his annoyance down. “How about a truce?”
Snape fingered his glass. “A truce?”
“I’ll cooperate with you, you cooperate with me. You won’t insult me,” Harry said.
“Why?” Snape asked. “You would cooperate with me either way.”
“Sure thing, Snivellus.”
Snape’s eyes flashed. “Fine. We’ll give it a try, no more.”
“I have some things to do,” Snape stated, standing. “Go keep yourself occupied for an hour. Do not touch anything.”
Harry rolled his eyes. It was a start.
AN: This is the last chapter before the first round of The Writing Games closes (on Sunday)! Therefore, be sure to favorite if you want to get your "vote" in! As it stands, Hunt You Down is in the lead but there are a couple others that are getting up there... *fingers crossed*
Be warned: If I get eliminated, this movella might end! If you don't want that to happen... you know what to do :)
EDIT: The first round now closes on the 23rd! And it seems that I am not allowed to post another chapter until the second round D: But in the meantime, I'll get some good stuff ready for you :)
AN #2: Sorry guys! I have had a chapter ready for a few days now and I'm dying to post. Unfortunately, I can't until The Writing Games gives me leave to... I promise that as soon as they say I can, I'll get a chapter out!