He closed the door behind him and fell back heavily against it. His body slid, limp and lifelessly, into an inky pool of robes. There was no movement for several more minutes, and silence was sustained until the barest of sobs could be heard emanating from the crumpled mass. Somewhere, Severus Snape was crying.


"Before we go," said Hermione cautiously, as she noticed the tension in Harry's body, "Harry, I don't mean to upset you again, but we need to recover Snape's textbook."

"Hermione, enough about Snape —" started Ron.

"No, she's right. There might be something in there, something I've missed," said Harry determinedly. "He's not going to catch me unawares again."

"But we have to be quick," interjected Hermione, before Harry could dwell in his hatred. "The Hogwarts Express is leaving in less than an hour." The trio quickly made their way to the seventh floor where they paced back and forth three times thinking, "I need the room where the Half-Blood Prince's Potions textbook is hidden." The door appeared and they entered.

"Wow," exclaimed Ron as he saw the enormity of the room and the multitude of items in it. Hermione had paused beside him in awe as well. Harry, having already seen this place walked straight ahead with a single purpose, saying, "This way." His two friends followed him further in. He noticed that the Vanishing Cabinet that the Death Eaters had used to enter Hogwarts was gone, impounded by the Aurors, he surmised. Finally, he brought them to the cupboard with the tiara-ed bust sitting upon it. It was there that his resolve failed him. All of a sudden, he couldn't bear to see the book again.

"It's in there," he said and pointed at the acid-burned doors. Stepping forward, Hermione opened the cupboard and retrieved the copy of Advanced Potion-Making from behind the cage. She held it carefully in both hands and examined it at arm's length before cradling it close to her chest.

"All right, Harry, we can go now," she said while she put one hand on his shoulder. The tension left his body then, and he led them back out of the Room of Requirement. Since Ron was also ahead of her, neither of them noticed the small bottle that she stealthily picked up from the heap of many and slipped into her pocket on their way out.