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Nie wyrażamy zgody na kopiowanie i umieszczanie naszych ficków i tłumaczeń na chomikach itp.
Ariel & Gobuss
| Chapter 25 Part 1 - "The punishment" |
Beta Reader: Leviosahex
Thank you girls!
25. The Punishment
I want you wanting me
I want what I see in your eyes
So give me something to be scared of
don't give me something to satisfy*
"How could he think that? What had gotten into him? To suspect that me... and Hermione..? That was just sick! How could that even enter his head?" Harry thought, as he walked through the corridors of Hogwarts. "And now I'm late! Just great!"
He should have been in detention with Snape ten minutes ago, but instead, he’d been listening to Ron's suspicious speculations about why he and Hermione had been behaving so strangely recently. Weasley had thrown a bunch of angry accusations at him, without once thinking that it could all just be one big misunderstanding. Harry could still hear his accusatory voice in his mind:
"So why have you been acting so strange since yesterday morning? Why did she go so red when she leant over to you? Why is she now avoiding you? And why does she still blush when you look at her! What happened between you two? Tell me the truth! How could you?! I’m your friend..."
At last Harry had lost his patience and yelled at him:
"You're an IDIOT!"
Anyone would lose it if they weren’t given the opportunity to say something in their defense. Ron just couldn’t accept that things might be quite different from what he was imagining. Finally, Harry hadn’t been able to stand it any longer and had left, slamming the door behind him. He was now so angry he wanted to smash something.
Without bothering to knock, Harry entered Snape's office, and without a word he walked over to a chair, sat down, and focussed his trembling angry gaze on the fire. Severus hadn’t even had the time to put down the book he was reading. However, he raised an eyebrow as if to say something sarcastic about Harry's lateness. However, seeing his fierce face had apparently changed his mind.
"What is it, Potter?" he asked, as he put the book down on the table.
"Nothing," Harry growled. "I feel great."
"So great that a little more of that and you'll make holes in my furniture," the man snorted.
Harry looked at his clenched fists, which were tightly grabbing at the armrests, and quickly removed them, trapping them between his knees.
"It's just... sometimes, some people behave as though their brains have come out of their ears!" he burst out.
"In my opinion, that happens far more often than "sometimes"," Snape replied calmly. Harry looked at him from the corner of his eye.
"I had an argument with Ron and Hermione," he spat. "And all because of our "conversation" during class yesterday. Hermione noticed that I was doing something under the desk, so she looked down and saw... you know what. And now she thinks I am a complete pervert who publicly jerks off. Now she is avoiding me all the time, as if expecting me to be masturbating at every step. And Ron... he noticed her strange behaviour and has begun to think Merlin knows what! He thinks we are together romantically or something. It's simply fucking wonderful!'' he finished, hitting the armrest.
Harry saw Severus cover his mouth with his hand. He could swear that he did it in an attempt to hide the smile that had surely appeared on his face. This wasn’t something to laugh about!
"Well... " the man said after a moment, "for Miss Granger it must have been a really shocking sight. I doubt neither she or Weasley has any idea about such things." Harry felt his lips tremble. No, he should be angry! He couldn't laugh! "Just because she has never experienced it before, she believes that whoever does must be a pervert. You should consider yourself lucky that she has not reported the alarming fact that her best friend has a cock to the Head of your House." At these words, Harry couldn't help but snort. "This is a typical example of pretentious hypocrisy. If it causes fights, you should really look for more tolerant friends, Potter."
Harry nodded, smiling gratefully. He immediately felt better. A small part of his mind noticed that the way Snape's mouth pronounced the word "cock", was so damn... sexy.
"You're right, this isn't a reason for a fight. Tomorrow I'll talk to them and we’ll probably make up," he said quietly.
"And now," Snape continued, "if you are done discussing your friends, maybe you can finally move on to what you have come here for?"
Harry couldn't stop the sharp tightening of his stomach. Severus always got to the point quickly...
"Where are we going to do it today?" he asked, smiling lasciviously.
The man looked at him with inscrutable expression on his face, then raised one eyebrow and curled his lips in a derisive smile, as he explained:
"I meant your punishment for having dared oppose me in class. Write three hundred times: 'I will not interfere in others people's business and I will speak respectfully to my Professor.' Or did you think I'd just forget about it, Potter?" Black eyes narrowed as Snape leaned forward. "Also, at the weekend, you will clean every toilet in the school."
Harry blinked in surprise.
What? But... they had to... Severus had said...
"B-but... " he began, but the man interrupted him:
"You oppose me again already?"
Harry shook his head, feeling the icy wave of disappointment cover his body with goose bumps.
I'll take care of you...
These words had been echoing in his head since yesterday, they had made him look forward to this meeting, but suddenly all of it turned into a fading, distant memory.
Severus waved his wand and a piece of parchment, an inkwell and a quill landed in front of Harry.
"But before you start... " Snape stood, pulled another piece of parchment, and the quill Harry had given him for his birthday, from a drawer, walked over to the Gryffindor and threw the items on the table. Severus then returned to his chair and growled:
"What is this supposed to mean, Potter?"
Harry looked at the parchment, and his eyes widened. In several places the notes written on it were completely illegible because everywhere appeared one word - "Harry". For a moment he stared at the parchment, unable to believe what he was seeing.
"I missed you too, Severus," he replied, smiling broadly.
The man narrowed his eyes dangerously.
"Is this one of your stupid jokes, Potter?"
"No, I just thought that maybe you should get used to my name, so I bought a magic quill which I modified in such a way that it would write my name every time you thought of me. Nice to know that you did, Severus."
Snape closed his eyes as if trying to control himself and not curse Harry. After a moment, he looked at him and said coldly:
"Next time, think carefully before you come up with any other ideas of giving me such a stupid gift. I have never received anything so useless!"
Harry's face suddenly became sad. He quickly looked away and bit his lip, trying to control the unpleasant stinging in his heart.
"I just wanted to give you a surprise," he mumbled. "I didn't know that it would anger you. I just wanted to... " he stopped abruptly, and quickly got up from his chair. "Forget it," he said softly and reached for the quill, but Snape didn't let him and grabbed it first.
"Get back to your seat," he growled.
Harry, surprised, fell back into his chair, and watched as Severus put the quill into the inner pocket of his robes. He wanted to say something, but figured that any comment would end up with just a bigger outbreak of malice on the part of Severus, so he restrained himself. He only smiled slightly and quickly bowed his head to hide it.
"Do you have any more surprises in store, Potter?" Snape demanded.
"Well... " Harry licked his lips and smiled mischievously. "Maybe," he said mysteriously. "You know, I'm pretty good at them. I remember one summer I gave one to my cousin Dudley. He was on a diet, and at nights he always snuck into the fridge. So, I asked Ron to send me some sweets from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, and when Dudley crept into the kitchen again, there was a little surprise waiting for him," Harry smiled vindictively. "His whole face was covered in a rash, and he ran into the dining room screaming like a madman. They locked me in the cupboard for a week after that. They thought that I'd care... " he was quiet for a moment, lost in memories. "But I found the good in that whole situation. At least I didn't have to see his ugly face to the end of the summer. And when they released me, Dudley must have been very disappointed to see me in a good mood. I bet all my galleons that he had probably hoped to see me scared and repentant. But I just stood there and laughed at him," he chuckled at the memory of his cousin, running around the house shouting that Harry had gone mad.
Severus looked at him without a word.
"Fascinating," he finally said sarcastically. "Who would have thought that the Boy Who Lived likes to torment his innocent cousin."
"Dudley certainly isn't innocent. He along with his stupid friends loves to torment others. And if I ever go anywhere near him, he immediately flies to complain to his parents. So most of the time I spend locked in a room or my cupboard, depending on their mood," Harry said casually.
The man watched him curiously.
"Why do they lock you up?"
"I have always believed they do it so they can pretend I don't exist," he said with a pale smile on his lips, which, however, didn't reach his eyes.
A wrinkle appeared between Severus' eyebrows, and his eyes narrowed. An embarrassing silence hung in the air. Harry wished he hadn't spoken. He wanted to do somehting to stop the annoying silence. He opened his mouth, but Snape forestalled him. He cleared his throat and said:
"If you are finished telling me about the remarkable vicissitudes of your life, get to work."
"I thought maybe you'd be a little curious... you know... about who I am. Don't you want to know something about me? I'd really like to know what you were like when you were young, what you liked to do, how you studied."
Severus looked at him.
"I was mean, I liked to harass other students, I studied very well. Still have questions, Potter?"
Harry sighed. If Snape didn't want to reveal anything about himself, he would maybe listen to what Harry had to say. After all, as Luna had defined, they were a couple... They needed to become better acquainted. Ignoring the man's impatient gaze, he looked into the fire and said:
"I like to play chess or Exploding Snap. I love Butterbeer. Much more than..." he tried to recall the name of alcohol Snape had recently given him, "... than Martini. You could prepare some Butterbeer for me sometimes. Even better if it's with cinnamon. I noticed that you prefer something a little... stronger, right? For example, that amber stuff... "
"Whiskey," Severus suggested, as though he could no longer listen to a stupid Gryffindor's chatter. "It's called whiskey."
"Really? I gotta try that sometime. I would like to know how it tastes."
"Absolutely not!. You have too week a head for that. Besides, I doubt that you'd like the taste."
"And what about that green stuff?"
Severus frowned, as if he was wondering what "green stuff" Harry meant.
"That’s a pretty name," Harry grinned. "I bet that tastes good."
"Absinthe is a mixture of several herbs, including strongly hallucinogenic wormwood. I doubt you would be able to drink even a sip."
"But you drink it!" Harry exclaimed indignantly. "So it can't be that bad."
"I don't drink it. It's just... Besides, why should I explain myself to you, Potter? I won't let you even touch it."
"Will you let me touch... something else?" Harry asked, his eyes flashing with excitement.
Severus rolled his eyes, but Harry couldn't help noticing the slight smile which he tried to hide.
"What else?" he thought aloud. "Oh, I like to play Quidditch. It's a pity that you haven’t been to many matches recently. By the way, I have never seen you fly on a broom... "
"I don't think you ever will," Severus muttered, frowning.
"Shame... Because it's really fantastic. You can't imagine how it feels when you dive for the Snitch. I feel... free, as if I could do anything. I'm so sure - I just know that I can do it, that I'll catch it, that in one more minute... I'll get it. And when I reach for it, and my fingers tighten around it, and it's quivering, trying to get away... I feel such an explosion. As if everything around, absolutely everything has disappeared and there is only this... heat. I know it already belongs to me, that it will never run away, that no one can snatch it from me. I don't care about people, cheers, applause... I might as well be alone out there. The bottom line is that after all the struggle, the long, tiring chase, and incredible effort... the most important thing... is that in the end... I managed to get it," Harry's eyes sparkled when he spoke, gazing into the fire, but not seeing it. He was imagining that he was on the field, with the wind whipping at his face, and in his hand he was holding a small golden ball. "But you know... all of that is nothing compared to what I feel... when I'm with you," he finished. He didn't know why he said it, but he had to. It was as if the words were flowing out his mouth against his will. "And sometimes when we don't see each other for a long time... I feel as though the Snitch has been taken away from me, and I run... but I can't catch it. No matter how much I want to. I miss you so much then... " he stammered, realizing that he had started to splutter. This wasn't a safe topic. He had to find something more neutral. He cleared his throat and, unable to force himself to look at Severus, continued: "You probably feel the same way when you finish a very difficult potion, right? When, after much effort, you finally manage to do it... you also feel joy bursting inside... don't you?" he completed quietly, and only then did he look at the man.
"It is a satisfaction rather than joy," Severus replied. "Because making a potion is not a chase. Every move, every drop is counted. The most important things are to; focus, be accurate, and to wait until the right moment. It reminds me more of... hunting. Everything has to happen at the right time and in proper proportion, because you know that any wrong move could end in disaster. It is a very long process, an art that requires extraordinary patience. Flying on a broom after a golden ball doesn't require anything other than agility."
"That’s not true," Harry was indignant. "It needs an extraordinary patience, too. Besides, that’s not what matters most here. The most important thing is the feeling that comes when it's over. It's impossible that you don’t feel any joy when you finally manage to brew a potion correctly after several months of hard work, where every mistake could end very badly."
Severus looked at him for quite a while before replying:
"It all depends on the type and purpose of the potion. When I finish brewing another healing potion for Pomfrey, it's hard to feel anything but tedious satisfaction."
"And how long does it actually require to make the most difficult potions?"
"A long time, Potter. I am sure you would manage to catch your golden ball several thousand times."
Harry widened his eyes.
"Really? So long? Longer than the Polyjuice Potion?"
Harry thought about it for a moment. He recalled the potion he'd seen in Snape's secret laboratory, and wondered if it was one of these...?
"And... " he stammered. "Are you brewing a difficult potion just now?"
Severus' expression changed. Suddenly a fervent glint appeared on his face.
"Yes," he said quietly.
Harry felt cold. He felt as if a cold wind was blowing through the room, and yet that was impossible. He was surprised at the reaction his question had elicited.
"And... how long will you brew it?"
The glow in Severus' eyes dimmed for a moment, and a shadow crossed his face. He turned his head toward the fireplace, and looked as though he was thinking about the answer. Finally, after a few moments of tense silence, he replied:
"As long as I have to."
Harry frowned. It was a strange response... He wanted to ask something more, but he could see from the Potions Master's face that this subject had come to an end. Suddenly it became uncomfortably cold. He didn't know where this impression had come from, but he really didn't want to continue feeling this way. He breathed deeply and tried to recall the carefree smile on his face, and frantically searched for something more neutral and safe.
"Aside from me, do you sometimes talk to anyone else? You know, about trivial things – such as your well-being, or what’s happened to you on any given day, or about "what idiots the first-years are, and who accepted them into the school''?"
Severus gave him a long, inscrutable look.
"I don't like anyone, Potter. No one likes me either, so to whom and about what would I speak? Besides, I believe that it is not only the first-years that are idiots in this school."
"I like you," said Harry quickly. "So, you can talk to me about anything," he smiled.
"Really? Even the use of leukocytes from Erumpents' blood in the production of experimental detox potions?"
Harry's lips had already reacted spontaneously and were going to form the question "what?", but at the last moment he managed to stop himself and instead he said:
"Sure. As soon as you give me some time to read several books on leukocytes, Erumpents' blood and detox potions," he lost the battle with his mouth, which stretched into a smile.
Severus lifted his eyebrows slightly. He looked as though he wanted to say something, but instead he closed his mouth and just shook his head.
"So back to the topic... " Harry said suddenly. "I often talk to Ron. Hermione can't talk about anything other than lessons. But Ron is cool, in spite of everything. Recently he told me that he'd seen Milicente Bulstrode and Cormac McLaggen slip into Proffesor Sprout's greenhouse, and after some time they’d run out, screaming, trying to tear the Lapient leaves from themselves. Both were the half-dressed. Apparently they had decided to join our Houses in a friendly... embrace," he chuckled and glanced at Snape, who looked like he wasn't amused. He looked rather like someone who had just remembered the names and was now devising a painful punishment. "Then, there's Luna. She is really very cool when you get to know her better. Oh,… in fact... she wasn't my girlfriend. We were only pretending so that everyone would leave me alone. I hope you don't mind... " Snape's face was like a stone mask - if stone could radiate derisive boredom that is. "Oh, and sometimes I talk to Ginny.. She is also pretty cool. Just a little too much... " he stopped suddenly, noticing the dark eyes that Severus pierced him with. They shone with a very dangerous suggestion that if Harry didn't shut up, then something very bad would happen to him. He bit his tongue, realizing to whom and about what he was talking, and quickly changed the subject. "And about studying... my favorite subject was once DADA, and I always eagerly look forward to a History of Magic, because it was a very nice change. Binns can lull to sleep the whole class. But now... " he smiled. "...now my favorite subject is Potions. You know, I think it's really fascinating."
Snape's eyes lit up with amusement.
"Really?" the man asked, and the corners of his mouth twitched slightly.
Harry leaned forward and continued:
"Yes. And you know what? I don't know how I couldn't see it before. All those ingredients that pass through my hands... I touch them, caress them with my fingers, mashing, crushing or squeezing juice out of them... " he saw Snape bite his lip. "...It really is very interesting. Then there is the cauldron which you have to watch so it won't reach boiling point and explode..." Severus undid the button at the collar, and Harry smiled to himself. He was surprised that he could talk about it in such an ambiguous manner. "But that's not all. There is also the Potions Master who teaches us, and although almost all students are afraid of him, I think he is excellent in his field," Harry felt his cheeks flush.
The man opened his mouth in surprise, but soon mastered his expression, and leaned back in his chair, His intense gaze burnt into Harry. The boy cleared his throat, embarrassed, and tried to quickly change the subject, but suddenly he heard Snape's soft voice:
"How much do you like your Potions Master, Potter?" he asked, with that wonderful smirk on his face. Harry widened his eyes, unable to believe that Severus had just asked him that and that he seemed to want to continue their little game. How should he answer? How much he liked him? That couldn't be described...
He felt his heart start to beat faster. He frantically searched for an appropriate answer, but nothing came to mind. And the worst of it, was that Snape really seemed to be interested in what he would say. Harry looked down and stared at his knees. He imagined that Snape wasn't there. That there was someone else sitting across from him. Luna, for example. If she asked him this question. What would he say?
He reached deep inside himself, remembering every Potions lesson, and all the feelings that seemed to burn in many different colors, intertwining with each other. He allowed his mind to drift to through every memory and his heart took control of his body. He closed his eyes. He saw the potions classroom. And he saw… him.
"So much... " he said in a slightly trembling voice, "...that when he sits at his desk, marking essays, I can't stop watching him over my cauldron. I know I shouldn't interrupt my work, I know that I have to brew a potion, but I can't take my eyes off him. So much... that I start counting the minutes until he stops and looks at me. And when he does, for that one moment I forget we are in class, and only think about how hard I am. I only think about my desire. So much... that once I manage to look away and turn back to my potion, I suddenly realize that I don't know what ingredient I have in my hands, which one I should add next, and in general, I forgot what potion I'm brewing. I can only think about how much I want to look at him again... " he opened his eyes and breathed deeply. Was that silly? Did he manage to convey what he felt? "Very much," he finished softly, as if these two simple words could encompass all of his emotions.
He dared to look at Severus and almost choked. The man sat motionless, staring at him with a look of astonishment on his face and this incredible... warmth in his eyes. Harry realized that he was holding his breath and his heart leaped. What he saw in those black eyes was almost like... tenderness. Sharp features softened. On normally clenched lips he could see... a smile. Not mocking, not taunting. A real smile. Light and warm, one that suddenly made everything look so... impossibly beautiful.
Harry blinked a few times, as if trying to convince himself that what he saw wasn't an illusion.
"Then you must be very careful, Potter," Severus finally said. "If you're so interested in your teacher, you may finally... fail."
"I'll take my chances," he said quietly, looking straight into Severus' eyes. It seemed, that for a split second, everything stopped. Harry didn't know which one of them looked away first. He only knew that his mouth had once again taken control and had begun to speak against his will, as though it wanted to fill the silence and get rid of this strange tension at any cost.
"I might fail any subject anyway. I'm not as good as Hermione. I don't absorb knowledge so quickly and I have problems with concentration, but when I really want something, I can do it. Like my last paper in Potions... I worked so hard and spent a lot of time on it. But of course I had to make a mistake and screw everything up. There is nothing I can do well," he sighed. "Maybe next time... " he stopped, seeing Snape rise from his seat and walk to the shelf. He took out a piece of parchment and placed it on the table, then sat back in his chair. Harry looked at the parchment, and his eyes widened. Before him there lay... his essay. An essay that should be rotting on the bottom of the pile by now. All the creases had been smoothed out, and at the bottom there was a visible 'Rating: Exceeds Expectations.'
After a while he realized that his mouth was wide open. He looked at Snape with disbelief. The man's face was as calm as ever.
"So you checked it out... " a joyful smile appeared on his lips. "Oh, Severus... Do you really think it is so good? I really tried."
Snape frowned, clearly annoyed.
"If this stupid smile doesn't disappear immediately from your face, we can quickly restore your previous assessment, Potter."
Harry quickly hid a smile, but he couldn't stifle the flame of joy dancing in his stomach. Abruptly, he rose from his chair, circled the table, and knelt in front of Severus. He put his arms around the man’s waist and pressed his face into his chest.
"Thank you," he said quietly, smiling to himself. He heard the man's strange shallow breathing and his heart beat, and felt the coldness of his body. He missed all of this so much... His robes smelled of bitter herbs. He had probably just brewed some potion. But this was nothing new, he always brewed potions... Harry pressed harder to him, snuggling his face into the black, rough cloth. Darkness enveloped him. Quiet and pleasant. And - despite everything he felt - warm...
For some time there was silence, but after a while, the gentle, warm breath and heartbeat were pierced by Severus' cold voice:
"I gave you work to do, Potter. Have you forgotten already?"
Harry muttered disconsolately, raised his flushed face and looked straight into narrowed eyes.
"You know that... that I have a match soon? That means that we won't be able to fuck for a while. Because I won' be able to sit on a broom... " the unspoken request hung in the air.
Severus raised an eyebrow.
"In that case, I will have to cancel your detentions for some time, Mr. Potter."
"Very funny," he mumbled. "We can always talk to each other."
Snape gave him a mocking look, but Harry ignored him.
"Will you come to the match to watch me?" he asked hopefully.
"I will be extremely busy at that time."
"Pity," Harry growled, getting more and more upset. But then a thought came to him. "Or maybe that’s for the better, because if you did come, I wouldn't be able to concentrate on catching the Snitch, and we would probably lose."
Snape looked at him thoughtfully.
"So maybe I will think about it."
Harry hid a smile, again pressing his face to the rough robes.
"Can you now return to your seat, Potter, and finally deal with what you have to do?" Harry heard the gruff voice over his head, and winced. Of course he wanted to be close to him and hug him, and not sit and rewrite the same sentence three hundred times. Just a little more... just a little. However, he rose from his knees and straightened. For a moment he stood and looked only at the man, but then something took control of him and told him to lean forward, put his arms around Snape's neck and gently kiss him on the cheek.
He breathed in the usual smell of herbs and musk deep into his lungs, sighed, and stepped away. He didn't look at the man's face when he turned to go back to his seat, but he could feel the man’s intense gaze follow him.
He picked up the quill and looked at the parchment lying before him. He couldn't bring himself to write even one word. His thoughts still hovered around Severus. He lifted his head and saw that the man was now holding a book. Harry strained his eyes to read the title:
Usage of Dark Magic in...
Snape bent book down a little, and Harry didn't have time to read the rest. His heart pounded. He recalled the titles from the Restricted Section, and that every one of them had turned out to be completely useless. But Severus... He would know what was worth reading. Maybe he could even help him... Harry had so many questions. Who should he go to? Tonks? She would immediately ask why Harry was interested in the Dark Arts. He knew that Snape had already declined, but if he could skilfully lead the conversation... he might learn something that would help him.
"Is that a book about Dark Magic?" he asked, interrupting the silence prevailing in the room. Severus looked up.
"How did you guess, Potter?" he snorted. Harry knew that he was severely testing Severus’ patience, but he needed to learn something!
"I've heard... Moody told us in the fourth year about Unforgivable Curses. He said that to cast them, you have to really want to. And that none of us would be able to do so. Is that true just for the Unforgivable Curses, or is it the same for all curses, even the simplest ones?"
Harry saw the interest on the man's face, as if he had touched on a subject that was worth his attention. Severus looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, then put down his book, folded his hands and said:
"Dark Magic is governed by the same rules as any other kind of magic. To cast any spell, even as simple as Lumos, you have to want it and focus your thoughts. In this aspect they don't differ," Harry noticed that whilst Severus spoke, his face had changed. He appeared to be completely absorbed in what he was saying. "Curses are usually extremely difficult and complex, and therefore require much greater focus. Just as, for example, the Patronus Charm. To perfom it, you must strongly desire it. The only difference is the nature of the spell cast. When you use a curse aimed at hurting someone, you have to ask yourself a fundamental question: do you really want to hurt someone? If you are unable to do so, you will never be able to cast it properly. Therefore, you see, it is not about any specific requirement…, only about your soul. Whether you want to harm someone."
"So it's true... " Harry seemed to be deep in thought,"To cast a curse, your soul has to be riddled with evil?"
"Why would you think that?"
"I... I read it somewhere."
For a moment the man scrutinized him with a watchful gaze.
"Since you are unable to stop yourself from stealing books from the Restricted Section... "
"I wasn't stealing!" Harry clung to the word.
"... try at least to take those that have scientific value, and not nonsense written by practitioners of black magic who lived hundreds of years ago and couldn't distinguish their own reflection in a mirror from that of their enemies. There are many fairly good books written on Dark Magic."
"For example?" Harry asked quickly.
Severus looked at him mockingly.
"Trying to be devious, Potter?"
Harry bit his lip. There were no point in trying to approach Severus.
"Well, how do I know which books are good? Nobody has told me," the Gryffindor said firmly, with a clear focus on the first word.
"That is because Defense Against the Dark Arts is taught by a pink haired, clumsy ignoramus, that is an Auror as much as McGonagall is a Veela. And in the classroom, instead of studying real Dark Magic, you only learn how to defend against Gryndilows or Manticors."
"That’s not true!" Harry exclaimed indignantly. "Tonks is a thousand times better than Umbridge. Maybe not as good as Moody or Lupin, but I think she’s a really great teacher. She recently told us about the most dangerous curse that Voldemort uses which isn't included in the list of Unforgivable Curses. We've also learned lots of defensive spells."
Severus snorted softly leaned back in his chair, and narrowed his eyes dangerously.
"Defensive spells? Don't make me laugh, Potter. Rather than prepare you for war, you are only learning how to repel an attack and hide behind the backs of others. You won't defeat the Dark Lord by casting Expelliarmus or hiding behind a Protego. They should have included the teaching of curses that can do much more than just stun your enemy for very short period of time into the curriculum a long time ago. But of course Dumbledore would sooner suffocate in his beard than ’poison; your ‘innocent souls’, and that's why you have no chance against the Dark Lord and his army.”
"Well, why don't you want to teach me? If you think we should be able to cast a curse, why can't you train students who want to?" Harry asked, thrusting a hard look at the man.
"Because your beloved Headmaster won't allow it, Potter."
"He doesn't allow you to fuck students either, but you do," said Harry before he could bite his tongue. Snape's eyes flashed dangerously.
"Watch your tongue, Potter," he snapped angrily. Harry took a deep breath, trying not to pay attention to the man's eyes which were flashing at him dangerously, and continued, but much quieter:
"We can do it in secret. Last year, along with several other students, we created a group which we called "Dumbledore's Army". We practiced in the Room of Requirement and... " he broke off, seeing mocking look that Snape was hammering at him. "What?" he asked.
"This is something new. The Boy Who Lived is willing to have a secret from his beloved Headmaster, and taint his innocent little soul with the Dark Arts, even if it may result in the expulsion from school and being sent to Azkaban."
"Ever since you've put your hands on me, I'm not so innocent... So what's the difference?" said Harry, looking into Severus's eyes. Snape frowned, but didn't respond. He watched Harry as though assessing him. The boy wanted to escape his gaze, but he didn't, although it took a lot of will power to tolerate it. After several minutes of tense silence, Severus leaned back in his chair turned his gaze to the fire and said quietly:
"I will think about it."
It wasn't a promise, just a possibility, but Harry still had the impression that he'd conquered a mountain. He could hardly stop a cheerful smile from appearing on his lips. He cleared his throat and said:
"Anyway, my soul is not so innocent. Last year I cast the Cruciatus at Bellatrix. I mean, maybe it didn't quite... come out as it should have. But I was very close. I hesitated. I wanted it, but something stopped me."
Severus glanced at him from the corner of his eye.
"And you think you would be able to do so now?" he asked mockingly.
Harry bit his lip.
"I am no longer the same person I was years ago," he said quietly, then looked at the man. "You have changed me." Severus snorted and looked into the fire again. "I know that now I would succeed. After all, you said that you only need to really want to... to hurt someone," he looked at his hands. For a moment he thought he saw traces of blood on them, but he knew it was just an illusion. "And I do want to." He sensed Severus' eyes on him, but didn't raise his head. He clenched his fists and quickly sent away the images that were attempting to break into his mind, and a sudden thought struck him. "You know... I wonder... " he looked up again and fixed his eyes on the Potions Master who was staring at him attentively. "When you're with Voldemort, and when he tells you to do all these... things... I mean, throwing various curses... You said that to cast them, you have to really want to. So how do you...?" he stopped, seeing a sudden flash in man's eyes.
It wasn't a pleasant glow. It reminded him of a cold light. With a touch of green.
Comprehension pierced Harry.
Snape's lips curled in a dark smile.
"Are you surprised, Potter?"
Harry held his breath, feeling his face flush. His stomach dropped. Before his eyes flashed an image of Severus, standing in a circle, surrounded by tall, dark figures, their faces hidden behind masks that shone like white porcelain. Severus casting the Cruciatus again and again on blurry bodies that were writhing on the ground. His hand firmly holding his wand, his eyes - hidden behind his mask – were insensitive, without compassion or remorse. He blinked several times, trying to chase the image away, feeling his heart beat faster and faster. He looked in disbelief at the man sitting opposite to him and shook his head.
"Why not?" Severus asked, mockingly.
"Is this... Does this mean that you... you like that? You said that you must really want it. Do you really...?" he stopped when Snape leaned towards him and narrowed his eyes.
"What I like, what I have to do, and what I want, are completely different things, Potter."
Harry frowned, trying to understand.
"But do you...?"
"The human mind is really a very interesting tool. You can use it well, if you know where the lock is, and how to open it. When you do so, you are able to do anything. You can force your mind to do things which, in theory, you should never be able to do. For example, kill a man. Or become attached to him emotionally. Or to hate him. This is control. Something you have never been able to master, despite all my efforts. You can't close your mind even for a moment. Others can read it as though it was an open book. I do so almost all the time."
Harry remembered how much Occlumency lessons with Snape had cost him last year. He remembered the taste of bitterness, when, despite many attempts, he couldn't resist Severus, who without any remorse had penetrated his mind.
A sudden, uncontrollable thought went through Harry's head:
Well, actually little has changed. Except now he easily penetrates somehting else...
"So, in every situation you can always, control yourself?" he asked, looking at Severus in disbelief and with deep admiration. "That’s really... Incredible," he mumbled.
The man seemed to be surprised by what he saw in Harry's wide eyes. He had probably expected to see anything from fear to dislike, but certainly not... a kind of admiration.
Harry was really impressed. He couldn't imagine such a life. Always in control, always having to be focused... unable to afford even a moment to take a breath. He couldn't concentrate in class, let alone... Wait a minute... Something didn't fit... Severus couldn't control himself when…
"Wait," he said, when the man leaned back and looked into the fire again, "you can't always control yourself. Last time you just exploded with rage during class. You were furious. I remember it. And always... always when we do it... you are not usually in control then."
Snape smiled his most sarcastic smile.
"You haven’t understood a thing I have just told you, Potter."
He frowned. What didn’t he understand? He understood perfectly!
"This conversation has been a total waste of time. And you should have been doing what I told you to do a long time ago! If you think that by chattering you'll manage to avoid your detention, you have gone far beyond the bounds of mere stupidity!" Severus growled, picking up a book. "So get to work if you don't want a more painful punishment!" after he finished speaking, he looked at his book and began reading.
Harry's stomach sank. He lowered his eyes and looked at the parchment lying before him. He knew that the conversation was over and that he wouldn't be able to draw another word from Severus no matter what he did.
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