Disclaimer: HP isn't mine.

Okay, so I'm officially addicted to X-Men. Promise me, everyone, that if I ever write an HPX-Men crossover, you will kill me swiftly.

Ahem. Moving on – I'm totally off my weird-humor-fic-kick. Now I've started a weird-angsty-fic-kick. Hope ya'll don't mind too much. And please review.


He doesn't see red when he finally catches up with Professor Snape. Before, back when he was only planning this confrontation, imagining how he'd curse the bastard until he begged, his jaw would tighten until it hurt and his vision would shimmer with a fine mist of fire. But now, now that he's here with Snape…

Harry's never felt such absolute clarity. Like everything's finally fallen into place, all the little jagged jigsaw pieces fitting themselves together to form the only picture in the world worth seeing.

He knows the truth, knows exactly whose orders Snape had been following that night, knows the reasons and motivations and logic behind the Avada Kedavra. Harry's turned everything over in his mind again and again, spent hours working through every inconsistency until it all made a vicious, sharp sort of sense, and he knows where Snape's true loyalties lie.

The thing is, he doesn't care.

Hermione spent weeks trying to get him to talk about it, after they first found out the truth. For a while, Harry was able to fend her off by changing the subject. When she kept pushing (Hermione always pushes, and he wonders sometimes if she'll ever learn that it's sometimes best just to let go), he flatly refused to speak to her until she stopped nagging.

Ron, though, was a bit smarter – the redhead just asked him if there was anything he wanted to say, and listened silently when Harry muttered, "It doesn't matter. It doesn't change anything. Murder's still murder, no matter the justification."

He saw red fire then, and Ron just nodded and left.

But now, staring Snape down in a rickety, cobweb-ridden hut in an out-of-the-way hole of a village, he's filled with absolute clarity, diamond-sharp and sun-bright. There's no red haze anymore, no rage. Just…

Just now. Just this moment. Just faded moonlight through a grimy window, just shadows upon shadows blanketing the corners of the room, just glistening dust motes suspended in midair, swaying with each awkwardly loud exhalation, each jerking, uncertain motion of the two men.

"You killed him," Harry says quietly, his tone a little too strained to be absolutely calm.

"I did," Snape replies with his habitual sneer, but there areno justifications in his beetle-black eyes, no excuses forthcoming.

Excuses would make this easier. Would let Harry hate him just a little more, just enough to…just enough to make him bleed. Just enough to push him back into the flames.

But...murder's murder, no matter what the excuse. And he's not seeing red anymore – he's beyond the red, in the heart of the fire, where reality and knowledge and understanding flicker and dance and burn scorching blue.

Harry swallows, feels his wand hand unclench. "I know why you did it."

"Does 'why' really matter to you, Potter?" Snape asks almost facetiously, a thin lip curling into a poor imitation of a smirk. He doesn't have his wand out, and Harry finds himself wondering if his former professor would even bother defending himself if attacked.

"You're going to leave," Harry says softly, not sure where the words are coming from but too tired to care very much. Too tired, and somehow too old inside to keep up the posturing, the sniping, the hatred. "You're going to go somewhere far away, and you're never going to come back. Because if you do, I'll drag you to the Wizengamot myself, and we've both seen their version of mercy."

"What is this, Potter?" Snape demands in a low hiss, his features frozen into a blank mask. "I - "

"This isn't about you, Snape," Harry interrupts curtly. "I don't care whether you live to one hundred or die tomorrow." He blinks, hesitating, and thinks that revelations should come more loudly, shine more brightly - epiphanies aren't supposed to be quiet. He shouldn't feel like he's saying something he's known all along, deep down.

"This isn't about you," he repeats softly, dust swirling as he speaks. "This is about me not becoming you."

Fire burns you up in the end, Harry suspects. It doesn't matter who set it or how you use it – anyone lost in the red ends up a charred husk.

He doesn't bother taking in Snape's reaction, doesn't really care whether the other man is angry or shocked or offended. "You'll leave," Harry repeats, his voice steely, and he apparates away in a flurry of ash-fine dust.