Harry walked down the stairs with heavy steps. It seemed as if the weight of the world pressed on his shoulders as he stepped into the kitchen and saw Snape sitting in his usual spot, reading the paper. He had no idea of the inner turmoil writhing within Harry.
Harry sat down and a plate of food materialized in front of him. For the first time in a while, Harry had no appetite.A few times, Harry almost said something to draw Snape’s attention but he lost his nerve at the last moment. Eventually, after a virtual eternity, Snape seemed to realize that the silence from Harry’s side of the table was odd. He lowered his paper and peered at Harry.
Harry’s heart quickened and a cold sweat broke out on his forehead.
“Are you ill?” Snape asked, looking at him oddly.
“I have to tell you something,” Harry blurted, entirely without tact.
Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes, fearing that Snape might be using legilimency. For some reason, Harry felt like he should hear it from Harry’s lips rather than his mind. “I looked in your Pensieve.”
There was dead silence. The ticking of a clock somewhere in another room was the only sound to be heard. Frightened by the lack of reaction, Harry snapped his eyes open.
The look on Snape’s face was beyond description. In going utterly blank, it managed to convey a certain horror, betrayal and underlying, deep-seated anger. “What did you see?” he asked in a carefully controlled voice. Harry sensed that rage was teetering on the brink of Snape’s control. Harry wondered how long it would keep his balance.
“I- uh, Lily mostly-”
Snape’s eyes flashed dangerously. Without allowing Harry to explain further, he delved into Harry’s mind, seeing for himself the compromised memories. When Harry was released from the quick and angry barrage, Snape stood abruptly and strode to the window. Perhaps it was Harry’s imagination but he was almost radiating anger. Or at least that’s what he assumed it was.
“You know, then.”
Harry was silent for a moment. “Know what?” Know about his love for Lily? Know about Dumbledore’s planned assassination? Know what?
Still facing away, Snape said in a tone that Harry least expected. “I would not have had you find out like this.” In a lower, barely distinguishable tone, he added, “Rather not at all.”
Harry sat in stunned silence. The anger seemed repressed for a moment. What was going on here? “I’m not sure we’re on the same page here.”
Snape spun, eyes wild, a loss of control that Harry had never seen Snape experience. “How can you sit there so quietly? I would have expected you, of all people, to be raging at me.”
“You pretend that you don’t know that I am responsible for killing your parents? That I was the one who told the Dark Lord of the prophecy?” Snape asked, a raw pain in his eyes.
Woah. Harry hadn’t seen that one coming. He looked at the man across the room in a new light. Harry had always thought him evil but before it had been purely out of ignorance and prejudice. But now... It hadn’t been Pettigrew, not really. Without Snape, there would have been no need for a Secret Keeper. It was Snape who had taken his mother and father from him. It was Snape who had destroyed his life, who had stuck him with the Dursleys. It was Snape who Harry should be irrevocably angry at, but at the moment he looked so...undone.
Snape had collapsed into a chair, large hand rubbing his forehead with a distressed look upon his face. Harry had gone from thinking that Snape was actually good just moments ago, feeling guilty about him, even, to learning that he deserved every ounce of hate.
“You. It was you who destroyed my life,” Harry said in a hard tone still permeated with shock.
Snape looked at him, eyes widening and realization dawning. “You didn’t know. Oh Merlin, you did not notice...”
“No, but I know now,” Harry said, anger rising. “How could you? I thought you loved her!”
A look of horror crossed over Snape’s face. “I did. I swear I didn’t know that the prophecy was about your family. About her.”
“And that makes it better? You would have easily turned in some other family, destroyed another life?” Harry demanded. His face contorted into a grimace. “Here, for a little while, I was thinking that you weren’t so bad. After seeing those memories-”
“Which you had absolutely no right to invade and I am very angry with you about,” Snape inserted, gaining a bit of his usual temperament back.
Harry waved him off. “Like I care. For a moment, you had me convinced. I saw those memories and felt sorry for you. I was going to apologize but now I’m not. Really, I’d like never to see you again as long as I live.”
With these words, Harry stormed off to his room, wondering at how everything had turned around yet again. All in the course of an hour. Would he ever be sure of what was coming in this house? Harry longed to leave, longed to just grab his things and return to Grimmauld place rather than stay in the same building as the murderous traitor. But Harry knew he couldn’t. If nothing else, the spell would prevent it. If nothing else... There was something else holding him back, Harry knew, but he had no desire to pinpoint it at the moment. He slammed the door unnecessarily.
Only then did Harry realize that he never received the punishment that he had expected upon leaving his room.
Severus put his head in his hands and sighed. Well that had gone horribly wrong. On one hand, he was dreadfully angry at the boy. Those memories were intensely private and Severus was a private person. He certainly did not appreciate the violation. And yet Harry had attempted to apologize, or at least admitted his guilt. How could Severus condemn him when he had done such a terrible thing himself? If it had not been for the guilt that Severus had felt at causing the death of the Potters, he probably would have kicked the boy out then and there. Even so... But before he worried about punishing Potter, he would have to, dare he think it, get him to forgive? Asking for forgiveness went against everything that Severus knew, stood for. And why should he apologize when they were both in the wrong? Maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe he would let Harry leave. That would be the easy thing to do.
Harry had changed his mind. Screw the spell, he couldn’t stay here. Trunk packed, Harry lugged it down the stairs, not caring the slightest about the cracks it might have made in the wood as it bounced off of each step. At the bottom, he pulled it towards the door with purpose. That was, until Snape stepped out in front of him.
Harry stopped dead. “Move out of my way.”
“Not until you give me the cup,” Snape said, eyes straying to the bulging pocket of the robes that Harry wore.
“I’m not giving it to a traitorous git like you,” Harry spat.
“And I am not allowing it to leave this house, especially in the hands of an insolent child like you.”
“I’m not a child,” Harry growled.
“I am not a git,” Snape responded in kind.
In another situation, this might have been amusing. Glaring, Harry and Snape stood facing each other, neither moving. For several long moments, they remained like this until Snape finally spoke.
“Give me the cup, Potter, and you can leave. You can go back to your little friends, fighting Death Eaters when they stumble across your path. I will attempt to do your job and destroy Voldemort,” Snape said snidely.
Harry shook his head. “No. You tell me what I need to know and I’ll go do this myself.”
Snape scoffed. “As if you could have a prayer of succeeding. No, I have more experience, more intelligence, and frankly, more sense than you. It should be me. Give me the cup.”
Harry took a step back. “No. I am the Chosen One.” This drew a sneer from Snape. “I am the one the prophecy says has to do this. You won’t succeed. It should be me. Tell me what you know,” Harry said, trying to come across as authoritative.
“I will not,” Snape said in a voice that left no room for argument. “It seems we are at an impasse.”
Harry couldn’t argue with that, as much as he wanted to. Maybe he just wanted to argue about something.
“Perhaps we could both apologize to each other and dismiss this whole situation,” Snape suggested after a moment of thought. It seemed as if he had to force the words from his mouth.
“Apologize to you when you killed my parents?” Harry asked, shock blatant.
“Apologize to you when you viewed my private memories?” Snape returned.
“An apology wouldn’t bring my parents back.”
“Must I point out that had you respected my boundaries and my privacy, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Snape said dryly.
“You would,” Harry pointed out cruelly.
After a hesitation where Harry wondered if Snape would snap, he replied, “Fair enough. Is it a deal then?”
“No other options?”
“If you have an alternative, then by all means, go ahead,” Snape offered with a light sneer.
Harry thought for a moment but came up with nothing. “Fine.”
“Fine,” Snape replied, sounding difficult.
Neither wanted to go first. They stood awkwardly until Harry said, “You first.”
“Very well. Mr. Potter, I apologize for being the cause of your parents’ deaths, however unawar-”
“No disclaimers, just apologies,” Harry stipulated.
With a deepened glare, Snape restarted. “Potter, I apologize for being the cause of your parents’ deaths.”
“And for ruining my life...” Harry prompted.
Snape scoffed. “Your miserable life is hardly my fault.”
Harry shook his head. “You’re wrong. By giving Voldemo-”
“Don’t say his name!”
“Oops. But anyway, by giving Him the prophecy, you forced me to fulfill it. Plus there’s no way you can argue that my being stuck with the Dursleys wasn’t your fault,” Harry pointed out.
“Hm. Well then, I apologize for ruining the life of the Chosen One,” Snape said snidely.
“Do these have to be sincere?” Harry asked, being difficult.
“I apologize for ruining your life,” Snape said, giving Harry the darkest look he had ever elicited from his Potions Master.
“Thank you,” Harry said stiffly.
“And now you.”
“Oh, right. Severus Snape,” Harry said formally, “I must express my deepest apologies that I tried to verify that you weren’t trying to kill me like you killed my-”
“Sincerity, Potter,” Snape snapped.
Harry cleared his throat. “Right. I apologize for looking in your Pensieve. It was very intrusive of me and I’m sorry. Good?”
“Adequate,” Snape replied dryly. “May I see the cup now?”
Harry backed up defensively. “No.”
Snape’s brow furrowed. “Why not?”
“You killed my parents, you murderous-”
“Did we not just clear this up?” Snape asked, obviously confused. He eyed Harry’s pocket, clarity dawning. “Potter, give me the cup.”
“Then place it on the floor,” Snape said irritably. “Put it on the table, I do not care. Just get it out of your pocket.”
Harry looked at Snape suspiciously. “Why?”
“Remove it and we will talk about it.”
Harry reached his hand into his pocket and withdrew the bundle of cloth. Unwrapping it, he revealed the shiny golden cup that held so much importance for reasons unknown. Something stirred in Harry as he looked at it. He looked up at Snape.
“Stay away from it,” he snapped, raising his wand as Snape stepped forward.
Snape held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Put it on the floor.”
Harry looked at the cup one more time but did as Snape asked. The cup sitting a few feet away now, Harry felt lighter. His soul eased and he blinked as if coming back to reality.
“Wow,” he breathed, looking at the cup from a safe distance. “What is that thing?”
“In time, I will explain it.”
Harry nodded, accepting this without protest. Suddenly, he remembered some of the things he had said both earlier and just now. “That’s been in my pocket since we got back. I said some things-”
“Do not concern yourself with them.”
Harry looked at him. “I don’t think I meant all of them. Some, certainly, but not all. I’m sorry.”
“It matters little,” Snape said dismissively.
“Not to me. I feel bad,” Harry insisted. “Listen, I believe that you didn’t mean to get my parents killed. Not that that makes it any better, but it’s enough that I don’t want to rip your head off anymore.”
“A good sign,” Snape stated dryly.
“I’m not sure I can completely forgive you,” Harry continued, “but can we at least call a truce?”
“I believe we already have.”
“I wasn’t in my right mind,” Harry said, offering his hand. “Shake on it?”
Snape eyed Harry as if seeing him for the first time. He accepted the handshake, then glanced at Harry’s trunk. “This means you are staying then?”
Harry shrugged. “I guess. We’ve still got to do something with that cup, don’t we? When are you going to tell me what it’s about?”
“Since it seems you refused breakfast, I will ask Nimby for an early lunch. Perhaps you could take your trunk back upstairs and we will talk when food is ready.”
Harry nodded. “Okay.”
Lifting his trunk with magic this time, he was more careful not to ram it into things on his way down the hall. Just before he turned to go upstairs, Snape called to him.
“I do truly regret that I was the cause of your parents’ deaths. Both of them,” Snape said with an unusual sincerity.
Harry nodded. “I know.” He turned back to the hall, then paused, glancing over his shoulder. “And I think you can call me ‘Harry’ now.”
Harry could have sworn he saw Snape’s lip twitch. “Noted,” he said.
Harry grinned lightly and headed upstairs, feeling more at ease than he had in days, probably because the cup was out of his pocket. He wondered if he really would have left. Snape’s argument had been good and had Harry been in his right mind, he would have seen its sense almost right away. Harry knew he wouldn’t have left. Somewhere inside him, whether the spell or something independent of it, was a sense that Harry had been looking for a reason to stay.
AN: Please comment and let me know what you think! Am I going in a good direction with this?