Title: To Dream These Dreams

Author: DragonLight

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Pre-slash, Drama

Pairings: HP/HG, HP/SS (Pre-slash)

Summary: Harry comes to terms with what he has learned about his father and Snape - MAJOR OotP Spoilers

Author's Notes: Part of the Post OotP FQF -- After Class Mailing List -- GROUPS YAHOO COM / GROUP / AFTER _ CLASS Challenges: A3- Harry goes to Snape to talk about his father(James) B2- Snape finally becomes the new DADA professor C2- Snape notices the scar on Harry's hand from his detentions with Umbridge and confronts him

about it

Special Thanks to my Beta, Isis.


Harry folded his arms around his upraised knees and stared at the wall. He was sitting on his bed at the Dursleys', as he had done since he returned home two weeks ago. Sure, he would move occasionally, but he always returned to his seat on the bed to stare at the yellowing, empty wall, wishing that his head was just as empty.

This summer hadn't seemed so bad at the train station. It had actually seemed that Lupin, and Moody, and Tonks wanted to know how he was. At least that's how he had taken it at the time. He had thought that's why they insisted he drop them a note everyday of the summer. He had been wrong.

Harry reached out toward his desk without looking. His hand made a grabbing motion, but closed on nothing. He turned his head and spied the sneak-o-scope on the floor not too far away from his bed. He contemplated moving so he could get it, but it was too much trouble. The thing was already broken beyond repair. Ron would be furious when he found out that Harry had taken his anger out on a gift he had bought for him.

Well, what was one more angry person? Harry picked up a scrap of parchment in his hand and glanced at it. He couldn't read it, he had torn it up after reading it through the first time, but he still remembered what it said.

*//We didn't get your missive yesterday. The Order doesn't have someone to go check on you right now. Please send note. – Lupin //*

Not even an "Are you ok, Harry? The Muggles haven't been awful to you, have they?"

It had only been one stupid day. Harry hadn't felt like writing yesterday. And he hadn't felt like writing today. If the Order was worried about him, they could bloody well send someone to check on him because he doubted that he would feel like writing tomorrow either.

But the next day Harry did write. His note was short, but it said that everything was fine, that he had just been upset about 'certain things', and not to bother sending anyone; after all, he knew how busy they all were.

He didn't want to see anyone. He just wanted to be left alone. What was so wrong with being alone? It wasn't like he had anyone close to him anymore. Sirius was dead.

The sneak-o-scope crashed against the wall for what must have been the hundredth time.

"BOY! You better not be destroying that room!"

Harry heard the heavy footfalls of his uncle booming as he climbed the stairs. He just lay back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. 3… 2… 1…

His bedroom door crashed open, hiding the smashed sneak-o-scope and the mark it had left on the wall.

"What do you think you are doing up here?" His uncle's voice came out in an angry hiss.


"I don't see any books. And you aren't allowed to do that … stuff with that… stick…"

Harry just shrugged. He didn't care anymore.

Vernon narrowed his eyes and glared at Harry for a moment before slamming the door shut again. He wouldn't lock it; that would have been something unsavory that Harry could report to those people that had been at the train station. And his uncle certainly didn't want that.

But Harry did.

He didn't know why, but the thought of those Muggles getting their just desserts for the last 14 or so years appealed to him. But would the Order do anything? Probably not. Especially since his aunt and uncle would just say that he had been recalcitrant since he'd returned. And that was true. Not that the Dursleys' stopped him from being so. They just left him alone his room, and rarely said anything when they heard something crash against the wall.

His mood wasn't that much different four days later. Staring around his room, he took in the books that were scattered across the room, after he had tossed them there in order to see what page they landed on, the parchment that was poking out from his desk drawer. He strained his eyes to see if he could find the cap to his ink bottle that had fallen the day before but he had felt like looking for. Instead he had traced the letters on the back of his hand; "I must not tell eyes" was standing out in bright blue ink.

He laid back and put his hands behind his head, breathing in heavily. A fly zoomed near the ceiling and the image of a teenaged Snape casting the killing curse while lying in bed filled his head. Picturing his uncle's head on the tiny buzzing body, he clenched his fist and lifted his hand, copying the movement even though he didn't have his wand. What was Snape thinking about when he hit those flies? His father, godfather? He rolled over, facing the wall, trying to cast the image and thoughts of Snape out of his mind, but failed; his thoughts lingered, though, switching between the awkward teenager and the domineering man.

A knock sounded on his door, snapping his attention away from the fly and everything it had called to mind. He turned his head to look at the door, but said nothing. His aunt, the only one who ever knocked, would come in on her own if he didn't answer. The knock repeated, but Harry still didn't say anything; it would take too much energy. Energy that he could spend being angry. At what, he didn't know.

The doorknob turned, and a streak of light entered his room along with the quiet voice of Remus Lupin.

"Harry? Are you in there?"

He shifted so his back was toward the wall. Remus came further into the room and closed the door behind him.

"*Lumos*. You know, Harry, it isn't good to be sitting in the dark. Your family says that's all you've been doing."

"As if they care." He swung his legs off the bed so that he was sitting, facing Remus.

Remus wisely didn't respond to that. "You haven't written in three days, Harry. We're worried about you. I got in touch with Ron and Hermione. They say you haven't written them at all this summer."

"It's not like they've written to me, either."

"Well, they have been busy-"

"So have I!"

Remus looked around the room. "So I see. May I sit?"

Harry shrugged a shoulder.

Remus pulled out his desk chair, carefully avoiding placing a leg on any of the books strewn over the floor. "Hmm, what have you been doing?"


"Funny, it looks like you've been brooding to me."

"So what."

"Harry, we cannot dwell on what we can't have. I know that you're hurting. You miss him. I miss him, too."

"Not like I do!"

Remus nodded. "You're right. Not as you do. You miss him like a big brother, or maybe a father. I miss him as a… that's not important."

Harry noticed Remus swallow hard. "As a what?"


"Don't 'Harry' me! He was your friend. Maybe your best friend, but still, that's not like he was --"

"My lover?" The words were whispered, Remus' head turned away, but Harry heard them clearly.


"You heard me."

"You and Sirius were…" Harry couldn't finish. His shoulders sagged and he stared at one of the books scattered across the floor. How could he be angry at someone who was hurting as much as he was?

"Lovers? Gay? What?"

"Both, I guess."

Remus nodded. "We would have told you eventually. It was just that-"

"You didn't know how I would react."

"Exactly." Remus took a deep breath. "I know it must be frustrating here. Not being able to grieve. Having to hide what you are."

"Don't you want to know how I would have reacted?"

"It's not important, Harry. What is important is that-"

"I wouldn't have minded. I think it's good that neither of you were alone in that way. I think it's good that Sirius had someone to love him."

Remus didn't say anything, just looked at Harry.

"It must be really hard for you. And I thought I missed him." Harry sat up on the bed.

"You're taking this very calmly."

"No reason not to. It doesn't really bother me. Personally, I can understand why you wouldn't like girls."

Remus' eyebrows looked like they were going to disappear into his hairline.

Harry felt the need to talk about what happened with Cho last year. He was about to mention how handsome he thought Sirius had been in Snape's pensive, but thought better of it. Those were thoughts that Harry didn't quite feel comfortable dealing with.

Remus and Harry talked late into the night, and eventually Harry started to feel a little better about everything. They stuck to talking about Sirius and school, mostly.

And so started their tradition. Harry would write for the three days after Remus left and then wouldn't for the next three. Remus would come on the sixth day and they would talk. It made them both feel better; Harry was finally able to look at his school books without throwing them across the room.

When his O.W.L. scores came, he was ecstatic to see that he had gotten an 'O' in Defense Against the Dark Arts and amazingly in Charms. And somehow he had managed to get an 'E' in Transfiguration. He had done similarly in Potions, and that had brought him down. After all, he knew that Snape wouldn't let anyone into his N.E.W.T. class unless they had an 'O' on their Potions O.W.L.. Remus had told him there were plenty of other things that he could do and he shouldn't worry about his scores. They were very good. And maybe he should consider something else besides becoming an Auror.

But then everything turned upside down. Harry had planned it so that the three days would end on his birthday. But Remus didn't show up that night, and as Harry looked out at the night sky he realized why. It was the full moon. He wondered who, if anybody was going to come and check on him. Maybe it would be Tonks. That wouldn't be too bad. She was always good for a laugh.


Harry turned quickly from the window at the sound of Snape's voice. He was standing in the doorway, his aunt Petunia a little behind him, glaring.

"Professor. What are you doing here, sir?"

"In your need for attention, you seem to have forgotten to write the missive that allows the Order to make sure that you are indeed safe. Much to my displeasure. Don't think that your little games with Lupin haven't been noticed. Dumbledore seems to want to amuse you, for some reason, and allows that worthless wolf to come and keep you company once a week. However, I will not. Now that I see you alive, I can return to headquarters and assure Dumbledore that you are indeed fine. Goodnight."


Snape lifted one eyebrow.

"Don't go. Stay, for a minute." At Snape's glare Harry hastily added on "please, sir."

"And why would I want to do that?"

"I wanted to talk to you." And at that moment Harry knew it was true. The things he had seen in his professor's mind as well as in the pensive had bothered him and made him curious about him. And about his father. Many of Remus' stories about when they were younger had been about pranks they had played on Snape. Whenever Harry asked what Snape had done to them, the look was one of confusion, as if Remus didn't understand the question. And Harry, not wanting to destroy the somewhat livelier atmosphere, hadn't the heart to question him further.

"How awful for you, Potter. Prepare yourself for disappointment, then. I have no intention of talking to you." Snape started to turn around but stopped at Harry's quiet words.

"All right, then. Goodbye, sir."

"No fit of temper that you haven't gotten your way?"

"No reason, sir. I expect that you wouldn't want to talk to me, especially after the way that Sirius and the rest of the Marauders treated you. You must be glad that he's dead."

"That mutt deser-"

"No, my father."

Snape turned and glared at Harry's simpering aunt before slamming the door shut. In two quick strides he was standing over Harry, looking down at him with the utmost contempt. "Your father-"

"My father was a conceited prick, as far as I've heard." At Snape's startled look Harry continued. "But he was still my father, and I'll kindly ask for you not to insult him since he cannot defend himself or his actions. Sir."

"You'll kindly ask?"

"I'm not my father, no matter how mu…" Harry took a deep breath, "much Sirius wanted me to be."

Snape just glared at him.

"I know you hated them, and if I was in your place, I'd hate them too, but they're dead. Don't you get that? They're DEAD."

"As touching as your sorrow is, Potter, I do not-"

"You don't want to hear about it. I know." Harry turned his back to his teacher. He didn't know what had possessed him to ask that he stay, to talk to him. Curiosity about his father, maybe. A hope that Snape would tell him that his family, his real family, hadn't been as horrid as the pensive and Remus had made them out to be. "Just go."

"As you wish." Snape mock bowed in his direction and turned on his heel. The door slammed behind him as he left.

Three days later, Harry still hadn't written to the Order. He had received some birthday greetings from his friends – Ron's had been late – but they had seemed half-hearted at best. Even Hagrid's hadn't been filled with the usual cheery greetings and odd present. The odd present had been there, a genuine piece of a Chimera egg, but the cheery birthday greetings had been noticeably less cheery.

His door swung open at six in the evening as it usually did, but for the first time since Remus had started visiting, Harry didn't want to talk to him. The sight of him would not cheer him up. The visit from Snape was still running through his head, and it was bothering him more than he thought it should.


That voice. He had hoped that he wouldn't have to hear that voice until he returned to Hogwarts. "Where's Remus? Sir."

"Not that it's any of your business, but he had some work that he had to do for the Order."

"If it's not my business then why tell me? Sir."

"He requested that I inform you of his reasons for not being able to come and talk to you tonight."

"Why you?"

"Aren't you just full of annoying questions? Because the Headmaster requested it."

"Did he also request that you be nice?"

Cold silence was his response. He finally turned to look at the professor. He was dressed in muggle clothes, his hair pulled back from his face although it obviously hadn't been washed. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his eyes narrowed with an angry glint.

"Why send anyone to check on me at all, sir? The wards on this house should keep me safe. Dumbledore said they were tied to my aunt."

Snape's glare had gone even colder. "Headmaster Dumbledore, boy. He deserves your respect. Some members of the Order seem to think that you are worth their concern."

"But I'm not worth yours?"

"Quite right."

Harry felt his chest clench tight at the casual admission. He shouldn't care that Snape could care less about him, he had expected as much, after all. "I see."

"I don't think you do, but then again I think you see little at all. You understand nothing-"

"Stop! I hear about my insufficiencies all the time. I don't want to hear it anymore."

"-nothing about the world around you-"

"Stop it!"

"-though your understanding of some things far surpasses your age level. Not that I should expect a sixteen year old to understand things he has never seen or heard of before." Snape leveled a rather blank stare at him. "Do not interrupt me again, Potter."

"I'm sorry, sir."

Snape glared at the small desk chair before pulling it out and moving it to the other side of the room. He sat down stiffly, his arms still crossed over his chest, and one ankle resting on the opposing knee.

"Why are you still here?"

"The Headmaster seemed to think a little visit would do us both a world of good."

"His words?"

"Indubitably. However, he also thinks that furthering your lessons in Occlumency would help also."

Harry's head snapped up.

"And it pained me to tell him that I would not, under any circumstances, continue those lessons."

Harry returned his gaze to the floor. Now that he no longer had the Occlumency lessons with Snape he understood how important they were. If he had taken his lessons seriously the first time around, Voldemort would never have been able to dupe him into leaving school grounds and going to the Department of Mysteries. Sirius would still—

Thoughts like those helped no one.

He looked up at Snape. "I understand, sir." After taking a deep breath he continued, "I wanted to apologize for my behavior. I was out of line. I had no right-"

"Damn straight you had no right!"

Harry focused on the older man's face; it was more devoid of color than usual and there was an angry glint in Snape's eyes. He swallowed, and then bit his lip, staring intently at his hands, trying not to look at him.

"I don't suppose you have learned your lesson about prying into other's affairs."

Harry didn't want to tell Snape that it hadn't been the first time that he had nosed around in someone's pensive. He thought it best to stay silent.

"I didn't think so." Snape brushed a piece of lint off his trousers. "As for your Occlumency lessons, the headmaster will see to them when you begin your classes at the start of term."

"I understand, sir."

"Good. If that is all, I believe-"

"What did you ever do to my father and his friends? Why did they hate you?" Harry had lifted his knees up on the edge of the bed and rested his chin on top of one. This was the only person who could answer the question that had been nagging at him since he had seen Snape's memory in the pensive.

Snape breathed in heavily, before narrowing his eyes and looking at Harry in an appraising manner. "I existed."

"There must have been more to it than that."

"Well there wasn't. Not that it's any of your concern, Potter."

Harry's lips tightened and he glared. "He was my father. I think that it is my concern. Don't I deserve to know what type of person my father was?"

"Listen to those who liked him, Potter. You won't like what I have to say about him." Snape turned and started out the door.

Right before it slammed shut behind him, Harry murmured, "But I'm afraid that your opinion of him might be the one that's right." And right before the door shut he thought he saw Snape pause for a moment and glance over his shoulder toward his room.

It had probably been a figment of his imagination.


*// … records indicate that you have expressed an interest in becoming an Auror. Suggested N.E.W.T. level courses are: Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, and Transfiguration. These are, of course, the bare minimum. You are eligible to take the following N.E.W.T. level courses: Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Potions, and Transfiguration. Please indicate which classes you would like to take this coming term. We expect your return owl no later than…//*

Harry blinked a few times before looking at the list of classes again. It hadn't been his imagination; he had been accepted into N.E.W.T. level Potions. Snape had let him in without an Outstanding on his Potions O.W.L.

His exaltation only lasted a few moments, however. It occurred to him that this had most likely been Dumbledore's doing. Trying to make up for last year, or some such nonsense. He could even hear the Headmaster's voice.

"Come now, Severus. The poor boy will, in all probability, die while attempting to defeat Voldemort. If he wants to become an Auror, we should support him as much as we can."

Harry crushed the letter in his fist and clenched his teeth. He hated it. Absolutely hated it. The stupid prophecy. Dumbledore. Snape.

Stupid, scornful Snape. Snivellus. No. Harry would not call him that, even in his head. It wouldn't be right. He wasn't James, he wasn't his father. He hated what the Marauders were. They were bullies and he had had enough of those growing up. He was better than that.

Harry sighed and lay back on his bed. He wouldn't deal with those thoughts now. Right now he had to decide which classes he was going to take next term. He fell asleep staring up at the ceiling.


Harry stared at the front of the classroom; it wasn't as bright as he was used to. For some odd reason the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom had been moved to a little-used corridor off of the first floor near the entrance to the dungeons. This couldn't forebode well for the new Defense Professor.

Harry kept telling himself that no one could be as bad as Umbridge. Not even Snape, no matter what Ron said. He glanced over at Hermione. She smiled hesitantly at him before looking around the classroom again. Well, it was a very small class, no more than 10 students.

"Where's Ron?"

"He's not taking it."

Hermione's forehead creased. "Why not?"

"Said that he didn't make it in."

"I thought he said he got an 'E' on his O.W.L."

"He did."


The door in the back of the room slammed open, and Snape made his way to the front of the room. Harry felt his heart drop down into his stomach. "You are all here because you have somehow managed to pass your O.W.L. with an Outstanding. How some of you," Harry felt Snape's gaze land on him, "managed to accomplish such a feat is beyond my understanding." Snape looked around the room. "I think that it would be best if we went over what is expected from you for this class.

"Mondays will be dedicated to theory, Wednesdays to learning the practical applications, and Fridays will be to testing you on both theory and application. Also on Wednesdays you will be expected to turn in a four to five foot essay on the theory we cover on Monday. This paper should be more in-depth than what is covered in class; therefore, if you do not know how to get to the library as of yet, I suggest that you ask Miss Granger for directions after class."

Harry glanced at Hermione, who was cherry red, before turning to face the front of the room again.

"This class is for advanced students and I will not tolerate any slacking off. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Professor."

"Monday theory lessons will follow this model: the history of what we're studying, the explanation behind the defensive tactic, usually a spell, and then why this works. In order to understand the subject material you are expected to have the pertinent chapters of your book read before class.

"The last thing that you should be aware of is that during theory lessons there will be no wands out. Put them away."

The whole class hesitated before complying.

Harry finished scribbling down everything that Snape had said. There was no telling what would happen in this class. Defense might be his best subject, but with Snape as a teacher Harry hoped that he wouldn't fail.


After Defense Against the Dark Arts, Harry and Hermione sat down on either side of Ron at lunch. He glanced at them before looking back at his plate. "So, how was class?"

Hermione looked away, and Harry found himself wishing that she'd answer. It was always much easier to deal with Ron being mad at anyone other than him. He couldn't very well tell Ron that he had found the lesson fascinating, learning the theory and history behind the Patronus Charm.

"Snape's the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor." It was still the truth, and something that Ron wouldn't mind hearing.

As evidenced by the grin that covered his face a second later. "Don't feel nearly as bad about not getting in. Being an Auror isn't worth putting up with Snape."

Midway through lunch Ron was tugging on his sleeve to get his attention. "Do you think there's a chance that we can pick up with the DA again this year? I talked to Dean, and he wanted to keep up with Defense and all, even though he didn't get into the N.E.W.T. level class either. Just in case You-Know-Who… well you know."

Ron had been whispering, but Harry felt himself being stared at by every member of the DA that was in Gryffindor. "I'll try." He leaned closer to Ron so that no one could hear his next words. "I won't know if I'll have time until after I talk about my Occlumency lessons with Dumbledore."

"Got it. So what did Snape do to torture you today?"

"Patronus. And we have a five foot essay due on Wednesday." Hermione buried her nose back into her Charms book after answering.

Ron elbowed Harry in the side. "Bet he told you how you had it wrong all the time, huh?"

"Something like that." Hermione gave him a look, and Harry averted his gaze. Snape hadn't really done anything. Other than ignore him for the whole period. Why shouldn't he just let Ron think that the class was unbearable?


"I'm glad that you could join me for tea this evening, Harry." Dumbledore waved him to the seat in front of his desk. "There are quite a few matters I think that we need to discuss."

Harry nodded and accepted the teacup and saucer that was hovering in front of him. "My Occlumency lessons, Headmaster?"

"Among other things." Dumbledore took a bite out of his biscuit. "Now, I understand that Mr Weasley was curious about some extra tutoring in Defense."

"Yes, sir."

"I trust that you'll be a good friend, Harry, and help in whatever way you can."

"Yes, sir." Well, that answered his questions about the DA. He would have to find time to fit that in.

"One more thing before we discuss your private tuition, Harry."

Harry tilted his head to the side. "What's that, sir?"

"I'm afraid that I have not been able to get the ban prohibiting you from playing Quidditch lifted. I'm sorry, Harry."

He swallowed. "Can I keep my Firebolt, at least?"

"Of course, of course. Now I will be trying to get it lifted so that you'll be able to play next year. And since I doubt that you want to get out of practice you can always ask the new Gryffindor captain if he'll let you practice with the team. The only thing you can't do is play in the official games."

Harry nodded. "And who's the new captain, sir?"

"Why, Mr Weasley."

He was happy for Ron, he was. It had to be something else that was making him feel like he had just been punched in the stomach. Something else entirely.

"As for your Occlumency lessons. I'm afraid that I can only teach you so much, Harry."

This was it. Dumbledore was going to tell him how Snape had to teach him, but refused, so they were just going to let Voldemort kill him little by little, and get everybody else killed in the process because he was an idiot who couldn't keep his nose out of other people's business.

"I'll teach you everything I can, Harry. But there will come a point when I won't be able to teach you what you need to know. Professor Snape has agreed to take over at that time."

Harry blinked. He couldn't have heard right. "And when will that be, sir?"

Dumbledore sighed. "I can't tell you that, Harry, because I don't know myself. It all depends on you."


"On how hard you apply yourself. Now. I expect you to try your hardest. Professor Snape and I are teaching you this to protect yourself from Voldemort."

Harry nodded; he had brought up another good point. "Professor?"

Dumbledore gestured, giving him permission to continue.

"Should I not call Voldemort by his name? Professor Snape said that you were powerful enough to say his name, but that… I don't know, I don't think he ever told me why, just that normal wizards shouldn't."

"Professor Snape has many demons, Harry. You can choose either to say it or not to while in his presence. But you must understand this, Harry." Dumbledore looked him hard in the eye. "You are strong in your own right, and it is in your future to face him. If you fear him, then you will not be able to face him and defeat him."

Harry heard the unspoken words. *And you will die.* He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. He had a lot to think about.


"Potter, stay after."

Harry stopped packing his bag and looked up. Professor Snape was no longer looking at him; he was writing something down in a ledger on his desk. He couldn't remember doing anything that could deserve detention, but then again this was Professor Snape, the most unjust teacher in the school, especially to him. Harry stopped that train of thought. It wasn't true. He was just getting back at his father. Stupid pranks, stupid mean idiots.

When the room finally cleared, Harry approached the desk.

"I expected better from you, Potter."

Harry had to bite back the words, "who doesn't." That would only get him detention with Filch scrubbing out bedpans without magic or cleaning some other filthy corner of the castle.

"As much as I dislike Lupin, for obvious reasons, I do trust his opinion on Defense spell casting. I know, as does everyone else who knows you, that you are capable of casting a fully corporeal Patronus on demand. What happened today, Potter?"

Harry bit his lip. It had been harder to cast the charm with Snape there than it had been in the past, but he knew that wasn't what the professor was talking about. He had had a much harder time finding a good happy thought.

"I cast it more than all the others."

Snape looked at him, his face devoid of all emotion. "But the others have not been performing the spell since they were thirteen."

"Well then, perhaps I'm just not happy enough." That's it, the stupidest thing he had ever said. He could see Snape filling out the detention form now.

"Sit down, Mr Potter."

He sat.

"Tell me, do you know why most grown wizards have trouble casting the Partonus Charm?"

Harry shook his head. Remus had told him that, but the reason hadn't been in any of his research and he had never bothered asking why.

"It's relatively simple. Adults make connections between memories and things that children don't"

Harry nodded his understanding.

"Now tell me, what have you used to focus on in the past?"

He shrugged. "Flying for the first time, sir."

"Does that still work?"

Harry thought about it for a minute before he answered. "No, sir."

"Any reason in particular why not?"

He was silent, not knowing quite what to say.

"Look at me, boy!" Harry's head shot up, and he found himself staring into Snape's black eyes. "Why?"

He said the first thing that came into his head. "Because I can't play Quidditch anymore."

Snape nodded and leaned back into his chair. "Precisely. That memory is tainted by something negative. Again, Mr Potter."

There was no need to ask what he meant by that. "The time Hagrid told me I was a wizard and was going away to school."

Snape said nothing; it was obvious that he was waiting for the rest.

"Finding out I was a wizard was good, at first. I realized that I wasn't just a freak and that the things that were happening to me happened for a reason. But then I got saddled with the Boy-Who-Lived nonsense. Everyone is always looking for the worst things. I hate it."

Harry didn't look at him, but he could feel Snape staring at him, analyzing what he had just said. "Acceptable."

"And what does this mean, sir?"

"It means that you'll need to find an unadulterated happy memory before your practical on Friday, Potter."

Harry sighed and stood up to leave. Halfway to the door he stopped. "Professor?"

"What is it, Potter?"

"I talked with Professor Dumbledore the other night. He said that I could choose whether or not I want to say Voldemort's name in your presence." He saw Snape stiffen. "He also said that if I fear his name, I fear him, and that I won't be able to defeat him." He saw the same connection he had made the night before in Snape's eyes. "So I hope you don't mind if I call him Voldemort, sir. I don't want to fear him."

And he thought that Snape just might have heard his unspoken words. "I don't want to die."