Questions and Answers: A Harry Potter Fan-Fiction Story

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: A HARRY POTTER FAN-FICTION STORY

By BlueWater5

Word Count:  5187

Rating:  PG for off-scene violence

Summary:  When Professor Snape and Harry Potter find themselves in the infirmary at the same time, the resulting conversation gives Harry much to think about.

Image result for hospital wing hogwarts

Harry knew he had made a mistake – a major mistake – a split second too late.

The day had started off well. A look at the house counters at breakfast confirmed that Gryffindor was still 76 points ahead, and this close to the end of the year feast meant that the other houses had practically no chance of catching up. Only one quidditch game was left, and he had confidence that his house was going to beat Hufflepuff, which would only increase Gryffindor’s lead. Summer was coming up too quickly, but at least it would his last at the Dursleys and then he could get on with looking for horcruxes. Altogether, it was a fine day. It was a forgotten piece of parchment which changed everything.

“Guys – I’ll catch up with you in the great hall,” he called to Ron and Hermione as he finished frantically digging through his bag. “I forgot my charms homework. I need to grab it.”

“Don’t take too long, mate,” Ron responded as he and Hermione stayed with the crowd heading towards lunch.

Harry rushed back up the stairs. The homework was right where he remembered putting it the night before, on the nightstand next to his bed. He had finished it late that night before, too occupied with a game of wizard chess to do it any earlier. It wasn’t his best work, he knew, but it was good enough.

He stuffed the parchment into his bag and raced back down the stairs and down the halls. As he turned the corner into the corridor leading to the great hall, he bumped into someone and sent him flying. He was about to automatically apologize when he saw who it was.

“So, Potter,” Malfoy sneered as he stood up with his wand in his hand, “assaulting a prefect in the hall. Let’s see, points, detention, maybe expulsion – my, you’re in trouble, you are.”

“Stuff it, Malfoy,” Harry snarled. He found he had automatically pulled his wand out too. “It was an accident.” He made himself point his wand down and walk by Malfoy. “I’m sorry I bumped into you, OK?” He forced himself to turn away and continue to the great hall.

Malfoy’s voice stopped him before he reached the open door, beyond which he heard the noises of lunch in progress. “No, it’s not OK, as you put it.” Malfoy grabbed his arm. “You think you can get away with -“

Harry pushed his arm away. “Look, it was an accident and you know it.”

Malfoy just stared at him. “I don’t think so. You don’t get away that easily.” He started to raise his wand.

Harry grabbed Malfoy’s wrist before he could fully point his wand at him. The other boy jerked his arm back and the two began to tussle. Harry started to fall and pulled Malfoy down with him. Rolling on top of Malfoy, Harry hit him in the chin. Malfoy’s head hit the floor.

It was at that moment that Harry realized he had made a major mistake. He felt his stomach sink. He reached out to help Malfoy up when he felt someone grab his arm. “My, my, my, Potter,” he heard a familiar, silky voice say. His face went white. Even before looking up he knew he was in major trouble. “Brawling like a muggle. I think a hundred and fifty points should teach you a lesson.” He looked up and saw Snape’s face staring at him, and, behind him, through the open doors, what seemed like the entire student body as well as the head table looking at the scene. The Head of Slytherin turned his attention to Malfoy. “Are you all right?”

Malfoy grabbed his head and moaned. “No, professor,” he said theatrically. “I believe I have a concussion.”

Snape nodded and turned to Harry. He pulled Harry up to his feet. “Make that two hundred points.” He looked around, scanning the crowd. “Mr. Crabbe, Mr. Goyle, please assist Mr. Malfoy to the infirmary.” Turning back, he added, “Potter, you have two weeks of detention with me, starting tonight.” He spun around. “This is not a show,” he said sharply to the silent audience. “Either finish lunch or move on.” The students turned back to the tables and began excited conversations. Reluctantly, Harry made his way to the Gryffindor table. Keeping his head down, he found his way to his usual seat.

“Harry, what on earth were you thinking?” Hermione whispered. “Malfoy attacked me!” Harry responded back, loudly. “But you were the one who punched him out!” Dean said coldly. “Two hundred points! Blimey, you just cost us the cup!” “I didn’t punch him out!” Harry replied heatedly. “You know Malfoy! He was faking it! He …” Seamus cut him off. “All we saw it that you were on top of him and punched him out. Thanks a lot for single handedly putting us into last place.” After that, no one spoke to him. Thinking about what they would say if they did speak, Harry found he didn’t mind.

That evening, after spending two hours dicing flobberworms, Harry miserably sat down next to the fire and pulled out his assignments. Everyone except Ron and Hermione avoided him like he had something contagious. Hermione, buried in her own homework, said hello and then bent her head back down so she could continue reading. Ron, though, looked up. “Hey, it’s not hopeless. Look, I’ve been doing some calculations. We just have to win by 274 points on Saturday. The way things are calculated, that will give us the 124 house points we need to be back on top.”

Hermione looked up. “I wouldn’t cut it so close, Ron,” she said. Ron nodded. “OK, make it 300 points. You just have to wait until we’re 150 points up to catch the snitch.” Harry nodded wearily. “Got it.”

The morning of the match there was little wind. Clouds were patchy and every now and then there were dazzling flashes of bright sunlight. The game began.

Hufflepuff put up more competition than expected. Gryffindor had a hard time racking up enough points to allow Harry to catch the snitch. Just as they would start to pull ahead, Hufflepuff would manage to score several times. He tracked the snitch as much as he could without being obvious about it, but only to make sure the Hufflepuff seeker wasn’t near it. When the Hufflepuff seeker did go after the snitch Harry would fly between her and it until she lost it. The Hufflepuff team quickly caught on to the Gryffindor plan and went all out to score while redoubling its effort to catch the snitch.

At last Harry heard Luna, who was commenting, announce a score of 380 to 230 and he began to look earnestly for the snitch. Just as he was about to catch it, Hufflepuff scored, and he pulled back, blocking it so the Hufflepuff seeker missed it too. That occurred twice more.

Finally, Harry saw snitch as the score was 510 to 360. He raced towards it. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a bludger heading about to intercept him. He felt time slow down. He knew he’d be hit if he continued on his path, but he’d be able to catch the snitch first. If he didn’t catch it now, the Hufflepuff seeker, coming from the other direction, would be able to do so. It was his fault Gryffindor was down in points, and his dorm mates were still barely speaking to him. He had to make up for his stupid punch at Malfoy, even if the Slytherin had deserved it. Knowing it was now or never, he ignored the bludger and reached out. Just as he caught the snitch, the world went black.

He woke up in the infirmary. When he groaned, Madam Pomfrey came over. “Awake finally, are you Mr. Potter?” she smiled. “Good. You’ll need to spend another night here, but you’ll be fine.”

“Did we win?” Harry asked.

Madam Pomfrey nodded, but her smile faded. “Why you and your classmates are willing to knock yourselves out for a mere game I have no idea, but yes, you won. Your teammates are very happy with you. I, of course, am not. You received a serious concussion from the bludger and several broken bones when you fell.”

Harry settled back into the pillow. He’d had broken bones before. No matter what Madam Pomfrey thought, it was worth it. When his house mates arrived that afternoon, they made it clear that they felt the same way.

Harry drifted in and out of sleep that day. As the only patient, he quickly became bored once his visitors had returned to their tower. Towards evening, he heard the floo in Madam Pomfrey’s office. Curious, he waited to see who had arrived. Instead, he heard the familiar voice of the Headmaster.

“Poppy, please prepare for a meeting,” the professor said in an unusually solemn voice. Madam Pomfrey’s voice sounded equally solemn. “Yes, Headmaster. I’ll be prepared. I have one other patient, Mr. Potter.” Harry heard the floo die down and Madam Pomfrey laying out medical potions. Then she came back to Harry with one of the vials in her hand. “Here, Mr. Potter. I want you to take this dreamless sleep. It will help you recover quickly so you can leave first thing tomorrow morning.”

“I don’t need it, Madam Pomfrey,” Harry responded. “I feel fine.”

“Take it, Mr. Potter,” the healer responded sharply, “I want you to sleep until morning.” She put it on the nightstand. “I’ll be back to check on you later.” She pulled some privacy curtains around him.

Harry nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” He looked at the vial and then put in in the drawer of the nightstand next to the bed, intending to take it later. However, he drifted off to sleep before he could down the potion.

When he awoke again it was dark. He could tell from the way the blanket was tucked around him that Madam Pomfrey had been by. Feeling fine, he decided he didn’t need the sleeping potion. Then he realized what had woken him. It was the sound of the floo. “He’s back,” he heard the Headmaster say, “I’ll be right down.” “I’m on my way,” Madam Pomfrey responded. Harry wondered what that was about when he heard the doors to the infirmary open and close; it sounded like Madam Pomfrey had left the clinic.

Harry pulled out the potion from the nightstand. He’d had enough sleep. He decided to put it back on Madam Pomfrey’s desk. Pushing his way through the privacy curtains, he made his way to the healer’s office. He had just put the vial down when he heard voices coming closer.

“Oh, Merlin!” he thought. He knew he was supposed to be asleep. He dove under the nearest bed.

A minute later he realized his mistake. The doors to infirmary opened again, and he felt a weight press upon the bed above him. He saw Madam Pomfrey’s ankles and shoes and heard her mumble to herself. Harry felt a spell surrounding the bed. Then she spoke to the patient. “Report or healing first tonight, Severus?” she asked.

“I need to see the Headmaster first, Poppy,” Harry heard Snape say, though his voice sounded weary. Harry’s body went cold. He wouldn’t put it past Snape to put him in detention all of his seventh year for eavesdropping on him like this. At the same time, he felt a twinge of curiosity. Snape sounded off somehow, like he was having trouble controlling his voice. Harry wondered what had happened to the greasy git.

Harry heard the door open again and footsteps approached. “Severus. It’s good to have you back,” he heard the Headmaster say. “Poppy said you needed to talk to me before she saw to you?” Harry bit his bottom lip to keep himself from groaning. His future if he was discovered was looking blacker and blacker.

“Yes, Headmaster,” Snape responded. Pomfrey huffed and Harry heard her footsteps fade away. Next he heard Professor Dumbledore say in a gentle voice, “Allow me, Severus,” and then an incantation.

“Are you sure you’re up to giving a report, Severus?” asked Professor Dumbledore gently. “You look terrible.”

Harry heard Snape take a deep breath. “Two things you need to know tonight. First, you must strengthen the protective wards on Potter’s house.” Harry sucked in his breath then covered his mouth with his hand. “The office at the ministry has been infiltrated,” he heard the Potions Master continue. “The Dark Lord knows whatever they do about the wards.”

Harry heard a slight creak. It seemed like the Headmaster had sat on the bed next to Snape. There was a pause. “Not unexpected,” he heard the Headmaster say. “I have some plans I can put into effect tonight. You said two things?”

“There’s going to be a raid in Surrey next weekend,” the professor replied. “More than a demonstration. The Dark Lord wants revenge for the auror attack on the death eaters two weeks ago.”

Harry heard a creak and saw Dumbledore’s feet as he stood up. “Thank you Severus. I’ll start plans in motion. I’ll get Poppy now. I’ll be back down later, once Poppy has had a chance to start to heal you.”

Harry followed Dumbledore’s feet as they left the infirmary, and Pomfrey’s feet as they approached the bed. He heard the sound of vials being placed on the nightstand.

“How many times and how long?” he heard Pomfrey ask. Snape seemed to understand the question.

“Four times. One and a half minutes, two minutes, one and three quarter minutes and two and a half minutes,” Snape responded in a flat voice.

Pomfrey sucked in her breath. “Seven and three quarter minutes total. Severus, you’re lucky to be conscious.”

Harry wondered what they were talking about. He heard Pomfrey give Snape several vials. The professor had mentioned the wards on Privet Drive to the Headmaster even before he had let Madam Pomfrey give him healing potions just so Professor Dumbledore could immediately make back up plans for his – Harry’s – safety. But Snape hated him! Confused, his mind raced even as his body was frozen with fear of being caught.

Perhaps a half hour passed with Pomfrey alternately by the bedside or in her office. Harry decided to wait until the Potions Master was asleep and then sneak back to his own bed. He heard the doors open again and saw Professor Dumbledore approach the bed. “I’ve set things in motion. How are you feeling now, Severus?”

“Better,” responded the Potions Master dryly.

Pomfrey stepped away and walked back to her office.

The Headmaster sat back down on the bed. “Anything else you want to let me know tonight?”

There was a pause. “The Dark Lord has begun recruiting for next year.”

“Who, Severus, and who can we save?”

“From my house, Mr. Crabbe and Mr. Goyle cannot be saved. They are too eager. Even though Mr. Malfoy is already committed to service, he is not as eager as his father – he’s seen too much. He’ll follow the Dark Lord’s orders, but won’t take any initiative and may hesitate before carrying orders out, which will give us an edge. I believe I can keep Mr. Nott and Miss Parkinson out of the Dark Lord’s control. From Ravenclaw, Mr. Medcomb and Miss Quimbley may already be in too far, but Mr. Badmore, Mr. Boots, and Miss Orvitch can be saved. From Hufflepuff, Miss Naver’s family ties to the Dark Lord are too strong, but the families of Mr. Tetchley and Mr. Underbrush are less loyal and so they are under less pressure.”

“I’ll alert their heads of houses so they can take appropriate actions. Anyone from Gryffindor this year?”

“No. The Dark Lord is too concerned anyone from Gryffindor has been in too much contact with Mr. Potter. He’ll seek information from them, but doesn’t fully trust them.”

Harry bit down on his fist. He’d never trusted Slytherins, but to hear that other houses had students who supported Voldemort was startling. And how dare Voldemort think that anyone from Gryffindor would be on his side. Then he remembered Pettigrew. He grew cold.

The conversation above him had paused, but then he heard the Headmaster speak in a gentle voice. “Is it time to pull you out, Severus? You haven’t said what brought you to Voldemort’s attention tonight.”

“No, I’m no more under suspicion than ever before.”

“Then why were you subject to the cruciatus for over seven minutes? You haven’t been that much of a focus for months.”

Harry bit his lip so hard from trying to keep from making a sound that he could taste blood. The earlier conversation suddenly made sense to him – the professor had been subjected to the cruciatus curse multiple times while he was collecting information for the Order.

“When they were talking about the plans to attack Privet Drive, Lucius made the mistake of bringing up Potter’s attack on Draco last week. He foolishly thought that bringing up another reason for him to hate Potter would ingratiate himself. Instead, the Dark Lord condemned him for not teaching his son how to win in such a situation.”

“And you, Severus?”

Snape dryly continued. “As Draco’s head of house, of course I was considered just as much to blame for Draco’s lack of education in defense. Both of us were punished for such a lack. The Dark Lord decided to allow Bellatrix to do the honor of teaching us a lesson. Unfortunately, he then got distracted so Bellatrix continued a bit longer than I think he originally planned. He seemed almost regretful, though – he kindly allowed us to be pulled from the circle so we didn’t need to stand for the rest of the meeting.”

Harry felt sick. Professor Snape was lying on the bed above him because he had punched Malfoy. All he had received was detention and house points which he had been able to make up. He had thought it was unfair when he had been punished; now he felt he had deserved worse.

The bed creaked.  “Severus, perhaps it is time to consider pulling out.”

“Do you have alternate sources of information in place?”

There was no response. “In that case, Headmaster, I will continue.”

“It breaks my heart when I see you like this, Severus.”

“And yet you would damn my soul?”

“Your soul is not damned, Severus. You have done more than enough to make up for past mistakes. You need not do more to save it.”

“Perhaps not my soul, then, but you know my heart breaks just thinking about what you ask me to do.”

The Headmaster’s voice grew hard. “You are the only one who can do what I ask. Are you trying to get yourself killed before you fulfill my request? Is that why you insist on going back?”


Snape sounded chastened. “No, Albus. I will keep myself alive to follow your directions.”

Professor Dumbledore’s voice once more became gentle. “Thank you, Severus. I know I can count on you.” The bed creaked again as the headmaster stood up. “You need to rest now. Accio, sleeping draught.” A bottle flew into his hand. “Here, Severus. We will speak more in the morning.”

A moment later, Harry saw Professor Dumbledore heading away from the bed and heard the door open. He waited until the sound of Snape’s breathing told him he was asleep. He then started to crawl out from under the bed – only to hit what seemed to be a solid wall. He felt out with his hand. Merlin! Some sort of ward was around the bed and he was trapped until it was taken down. He crawled back so that he was once more completely under the bed. He’d just have to wait until morning.

Several hours later, Snape woke up. Instinctively, he used all of his senses to determine his situation. He recognized where he was, but something was off. Paying closer attention, he felt a presence under the bed. He carefully reached for his wand, left under the pillow as always, and pointed down. “Petrificus totalus!” He heard a thump. Ignoring his screaming muscles, he rolled off the bed, keeping his wand pointed under it. He made out a form, and summoned it to him. “Potter! Enerviate!” he snarled, then grabbed the whelp by his neck and pulled him upwards. He dumped the brat at the foot of the bed and glared.

Potter started to scoot backwards, but hit the wards. “I’m sorry professor! I didn’t mean to be here!” He looked terrified.

As the adrenaline left his system, Snape felt the calming potions once again take effect. He sighed and got back into bed. The imp would have to be obliviated, of course, but he’d have to wait for more of the potions to leave his system or he’d risk damaging the idiot’s mind. “You can’t leave now, Potter. The wards are up,” he growled. Harry started to rise when Snape raised his wand again.

The professor sneered. “Relax, Potter. You’re bleeding, probably from hitting your head when I immobilized you. I need to stop the bleeding.”

Harry nodded, but only because he saw no choice. He remained tense while Snape incanted a spell, and relaxed as the professor once again lowered his wand.

“Why are you spying on me, Potter?”

“Really, I’m not sir! All I wanted to do was return the sleeping draught to Madam Pomfrey’s desk, but then I heard the doors open. I knew I shouldn’t have been out of bed so I hid here. No one ever uses this bed as far as I know – at least I’ve never seen it used. But then they brought you here and I was stuck! I tried to leave, but couldn’t! Professor, you have to believe me!”

Snape gave him a sharp look. “I don’t HAVE to do anything, but what you describe fits in with you previous activities. It also explains why I’m awake now – usually I’d be asleep until morning, but when the headmaster accio’d for the sleeping draught yours must have been closer so I received a smaller dose than normal.” He glared at Harry. “Nonetheless, you probably heard many things you shouldn’t have heard.”

“I won’t tell anyone, sir!” Harry said fervently. They sat in silence for a few minutes while Snape stared at Harry, assessing his sincerity. Harry sat under his gaze, growing uncomfortable with the silence. Finally, his curiosity outweighed his fear of angering Snape further. “Sir, why do you do it?”

“Imprecise as always. Do what, Potter?” Snape asked sharply.

“Go back to Voldemort. It sounded like you end up here often, though I’ve never seen you.”

Snape was able to hide the shudder that he always felt when he heard the Dark Lord’s name. “The wards currently around this bed keep it looking empty and prevent from any sound from the area from being heard.” The professor looked at Harry’s empty hands. “Where is your wand?”

Potter looked uncomfortable. “On the nightstand.”

“Fool! Never leave your wand behind!”

“Well I wasn’t planning on using it!” Harry responded heatedly.

“Don’t you know by now that events can change plans in a moment? Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, tuck it away on you so you don’t have to go back for it if the need does arise.”

“Oh.” Potter looked chastened. Then he returned to his previous thought. “But why do you do it, sir?”

The professor realized that if he said nothing Potter would probably harp on the question. Talking to him at least passed the time. “For the eternal glory and the chance for a crowd of hundreds to cheer as the Order of Merlin First Class is awarded.” He chuckled darkly. “Close your mouth, Potter, or you’ll catch flies. I know very well that no one will name their child for me after this war is over.” He looked at Harry curiously. “What keeps you motivated?”

Potter looked startled at the question. “I have no choice. A prophesy says I have to be the one to finish off Voldemort.”

“Don’t say his name, Potter!” Snape growled. “In any case, prophesies are notoriously ambiguous – you and the Dark Lord have been coexisting in this world for almost 17 years now. Will knowledge of such a prophesy really be enough to keep you going if you ever do get the opportunity to approach the Dark Lord?”

Harry looked down. For some reason, the darkened room gave him the courage to speak his secret. “I’m afraid, professor. I’m just 16,” he whispered, just loud enough for Snape to hear.

The Potions Master sighed. He didn’t like being Potter’s confidant, but for some reason the boy was confessing his fears to him. Too much depended on the teen in front of him to allow him to lose whatever confidence he had. “Being afraid of approaching the Dark Lord is in fact an intelligent response, Mr. Potter.”

“You’re brave – you keep going back to face Voldemort,” Harry murmured as he continued looking at his hands. “I just don’t know if I can do it even once. I’m in Gryffindor – I’m the one who’s supposed to be brave!”

Snape was startled at the complement though his face didn’t show it. “Potter, look at me!” the professor demanded. He waited until the boy was looking him in the eye. “Bravery is not doing something when you’re not afraid. Does it take bravery to go to your tower at night? Bravery is being afraid and still doing what needs to be done. You should be afraid when you face the Dark Lord – he is a powerful wizard. Without fear, you’ll be foolish. Fear will keep your senses sharp so that you can take advantage of every weakness presented. But it will work only if you have a cause. So I ask you again, why do you fight?”

“I hate him! He killed my parents and Sirius.”

The professor nodded. “Hate is a valid emotion. It certainly works for the Dark Lord.”

“I’m not like him!”

“I didn’t say you were, Mr. Potter, but if you plan to approach him with hate in your heart then you will be the same in that way, at least. Are you sure it is hate that is driving you? Do you just seek revenge for the deaths of those you loved?”

“No! I don’t want anyone else to be hurt! And if I don’t stop him, he’ll just keep hurting and killing people!”

“Why do you care, though, Potter? What difference is it to you if your friends are hurt or killed?”

Harry looked confused. “What do you mean, Professor? I don’t want them to get hurt – I love them!” His face reddened. “I don’t mean …”

The potions masters noticed his expression. “As you yourself pointed out, Mr. Potter, you are sixteen. When you think of love, you think of it in one way. Tell me, what is love?”

“What do you mean? Everyone knows …”

“Is the love between a parent and a child the same as that between a long time couple or that between siblings? Or friends?”

“No … “

“So what do you mean when you say you love your friends?”

Harry was bemused. “I care for them! I don’t want them to die!”

“Good, Mr. Potter. Continue.”

Harry thought a few seconds. “I would do anything for them.”

“Would you die for them if necessary?”

Harry felt a chill. He gave his professor a defiant look. “Yes.”

“That is what makes you much different than the Dark Lord. He does something only if it benefits him in return. He does not expect others to act any differently. That is a weakness that can be exploited. If you keep those you love in mind as you approach battle, it will give you the courage to continue forward and do what needs to be done.”

A look of understanding crossed Harry’s face. “That’s what the Headmaster meant!” He thought a few moments and then looked the potions master in the eye. “Why do you fight, sir? What keeps you going back?”

Snape looked at him carefully as he formulated a response. “I know better than almost anyone else what the world would be like if the Dark Lord wins. No one deserves such a world. Not you, not my snakes or the other students at this school, not the muggles who have no idea what is happening around them, not even the witches and wizards who close their eyes to the danger or expect others to fight their battles.” He carefully watched Harry until the boy nodded.   

The Potions Master thought over the conversation. Obliviating always carried the risk of deleting too much. Having had time to cool down since discovering the boy under the bed, he decided that if the Gryffindor were ever captured, having Voldemort learn of this discussion would be among the least of his worries. “Now, get to your own bed, Mr. Potter.”

Harry looked confused. “Sir, but the wards?”

Snape smirked. “Do you really think I would allow myself to be trapped? The wards can be taken down and reinstalled by me as well as the headmaster and Madam Pomfrey.”

Harry felt stupid. Of course. “Yes, sir.” He waited until his professor motioned with his wand and then carefully took a step. When he was not knocked down, he continued towards his own bed. When he looked back, the cot behind him looked empty. Mulling over the conversation, it took him awhile to fall asleep.

The next morning, Harry awoke eager to head back to the Gryffindor tower. After breakfast, his friends came, and when released by Madam Pomfrey together they made their way out the door. As he left, he saw Professor Snape in the healer’s office along with the Headmaster. When he and his friends turned the corner, he grabbed Ron’s arm.

“Hey, I forgot a card I’d placed in the nightstand drawer. I’ll catch up with you in just a moment.”

“Sure, Harry! Don’t take too long! See you in a bit!”

Harry turned back. He paused at the door of Madam Pomfrey’s office. He thought about the conversation last night. He took a breath and knocked at the frame of the door. When the three looked at him, he took another breath. “Professor Snape?” He paused. The potions master gave a short nod of acknowledgement. “Thank you, sir.” Knowing that he was setting himself up to be embarrassed, he stuck out his hand.

As Professor Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey looked on bemused, Snape gave a ghost of a smile. He approached the student. “Bravery,” he said so softly that only Harry could hear. He grasped Harry’s hand in his own and gave a brief shake. “Good luck, Mr. Potter.”

Harry nodded and deliberately kept his steps slow until he was out the door of the infirmary. Then he raced to catch up to his friends.

 

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