Co-Written with stormypup

Disclaimer: A large part of the first chapter is taken straight from chapter 25 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and belongs to J.K. Rowling, as does a good portion of chapter two. These have been modified by the authors to fit with the challenge. Chapter three onward was written solely by the authors using JKR's characters.

A/N: This was written for the Written for Wave XII of the Harry/Snape fqf fest. This fanfiction is a complete work (25 chapters in all) and shall be updated every Weekend between Friday and Sunday. I'd have to throw much love and many sugary sweets at my beta-reader, NSW, who put up with our horrible all-nighter grammar skills.

Chapter One

Chapter 25- The Seer Overheard pg. 548-549 (Half-Blood Prince)

"Professor Snape made a terrible-"

"Don't tell me it was a mistake, sir, he was listening at the door!"

"Please let me finish." Dumbledore waited until Harry had nodded curtly, then went on. "Professor Snape made a terrible mistake. He was still in Lord Voldemort's employ on the night he heard the first half of Professor Trelawney's prophecy. Naturally, he hastened to tell his master what he had heard, for it concerned his master most deeply. But he did not know- he had no possible way of knowing - which boy Voldemort would hunt from then onward, or that the parents he would destroy in his murderous quest were people that Professor Snape knew, that they were your mother and father-"

Harry let out a yell of mirthless laughter.

"He hated my dad like he hated Sirius! Haven't you noticed, Professor, how the people Snape hates tend to end up dead?"

"You have no idea of the remorse Professor Snape felt when he realized how Lord Voldemort had interpreted the prophecy, Harry. I believe it to be the biggest regret of his life and the reason that he returned-"

"But he's a very good Occlumens, isn't he sir?" said Harry, whose voice was shaking with the effort of keeping it steady. "And isn't Voldemort convinced that Snape's on his side, even now? Professor... how can you be sure Snape's on our side?"

Dumbledore did not speak for a moment; he looked as though he was trying to make up his mind about something. At last, he spoke. "Harry, I believe it is time for some truths to be revealed."

"Blinky!" Dumbledore called and a house elf appeared with a pop.

"Yes Headmaster Dumbledore sir, how can Blinky be helping you?" the elf asked, bowing at Dumbledore.

"Would you please find Professor Snape and ask him to come to my office?" he asked, smiling pleasantly.

"Yes sir, right away sir," Blinky said, and with another bow and a pop, was gone.

Dumbledore returned his attention to Harry. "Would you care for some tea while we wait?" he asked, smiling.

Harry scowled, and folded his arms across his chest. "I don't see why he needs to be here, sir."

"Patience, Harry," said Dumbledore as he conjured a tea tray out of thin air. Harry clenched his jaw and looked at the sleeping portraits of the previous headmasters.

"I still don't understand, Professor."

"And therein lies the problem, Harry," Dumbledore said, pouring a cup of tea and passing it to Harry before pouring his own.

"No doubt Professor Snape is going to be quite vexed at my decision, but I see no way around it," Dumbledore said, staring into his tea. "This cannot continue, there is too much at stake," he said, so quietly it was almost as though he were talking to himself.

He looked at Harry, his eyes intense. "Harry, I will have you word that nothing, not a single word, of what is said in this room tonight will reach the ears of another living soul. Not Miss Granger, nor Mister Weasley," he said grimly. "The fate of all depends on it."

Harry took an unintentional step backwards as if making to flee the office. But he nodded curtly and kept his ground. Too much was riding on this now and he wasn't leaving until all his questions were answered.

"I promise, but I tell Ron and Hermione everything, sir, why can't I-"

"No!" Dumbledore sat angrily, getting to his feet. Using his good hand, he leaned on his desk, his eyes boring into Harry. "No one, Potter," he said, his voice leaving no room for argument. "If you cannot make this promise to me now, then it saddens me to say that we are done here tonight," he said, leaving the threat to hang heavily in the air.

Harry's eyes widened minutely. He immediately dropped all his arguments in face of being forcibly removed from the office. There had been very few times when he had seen Dumbledore look at him with such annoyance.

"I'm sorry, sir," he apologized. He still didn't understand what was so important that he couldn't even tell his friends but he wouldn't push the topic and he wouldn't tell them. Something about the stern gaze the elderly man was fixing him told Harry he would be found out.

The knock on the door broke the tension in the air. Dumbledore sat heavily in his chair, knowing that the fight with Harry was nothing compared to the wrath of Severus when he informed him of his decision.

"Come in," he called tiredly.

Severus Snape stepped through the door, looking irritated. His irritation turned to outright anger when he saw Potter sitting there.

"You asked to see me, Headmaster?" he said, closing the door and scowling at Harry.

Dumbledore smiled at Severus and conjured another chair. "Thank you for joining us, Professor Snape," he said, motioning to the chair. "Please, sit."

Still scowling, Snape took the chair, scooting it a few inches away from Potter. Whatever the Headmaster had to say, Snape was fairly certain he didn't want to hear it. Nothing that had come from Dumbledore's mouth in the last year had been pleasant, especially for him.

Harry's eye twitched when the Potion Master spoke. He just wanted to wrap his hands around the man's throat and choke him. If Dumbledore wasn't in the room with them Harry wasn't sure what he would have done.

Instead, he fixed the headmaster with a glare that could rival Snape's.

"Well, he's here now," Harry practically spat with frustration.

Snape's head snapped around, his eyes boring into Harry's. "You insolent --"

"Enough!" Dumbledore cried angrily, slamming his good hand on the table. The witches and wizards who had been dozing in the portraits jumped, joining their colleagues in watching the spectacle in Dumbledore's office.

"This has gone on quite long enough! Harry, you will show Professor Snape the respect he is due," he warned angrily.

Snape's look of triumph was short lived. "And Severus!" Dumbledore said, turning his glare onto Snape. "You will not goad the boy."

Snape began to protest almost immediately. "Headmaster! I must insist that --"

"No, Severus," Albus said, his voice cold, "I must insist!" he said, staring the man down. With a final scowl at Harry, Snape folded his arms across his chest and glared at Dumbledore.

Harry was stuck at a crossroad. Part of him wished to spit out that the greasy bat didn't deserve even a smidge of respect, but that side was easily quelled.

"Yes, sir," he ground out. But he wouldn't apologize, not today, not ever, no matter what he found out. There was nothing that Snape could tell him that Harry would believe at face value.

Dumbledore took a calming sip of tea. There were so many things he wished he could have done differently...but there was no time for self-pity. There was too much still to be done.

"Harry, as you know, my hand was damaged when I destroyed Marvolo Gaunt's ring," he said, directing his attention to Harry. "While Professor Snape was able to slow the progress of the curse, there is nothing on earth that can completely halt its affects. As such, I have grown progressively weaker," he said, for once, allowing Harry to see how truly exhausted he was. "I am afraid, that I haven't much time left, not nearly enough to see you through what must be done."

His eyes softened as he looked at Harry. "I know that I have let you down in many ways Harry," he said tiredly, "but I hope that you know that I have always tried to do what is in your best interest."

Harry felt stranded. He knew Dumbledore was old, he had seen him looking careworn before but it was nothing compared to now.

"No," he said in disbelief. There was no way he was going to accept the fact that Dumbledore was dying. "Sir, why are you saying this?"

Dumbledore smiled gently at Harry. "Because Harry, you must know what is happening, and you must be prepared. I am dying. There is no cure and no way around it, and that is a fact that must be faced."

Harry sunk down in a chair that suddenly materialized behind him. He shook his head even as Dumbledore's voice repeated in his head. 'I am dying. There is no cure and no way around it...'

Harry let out a bark of hysterical laughter, ignoring the rooms other occupant for the moment. His anger had abated, but it was overwhelmed by shock and horror.

"How long?" he asked tremulously.

Dumbledore sighed and leaned back in his chair. "I cannot give you an exact time, Harry, but I can tell you that the curse is progressing faster, the affects becoming more devastating which each day that passes. However, I am not dead yet," he said, smiling at Harry.

"As it stands, the only people who know of the true nature of this curse are now sitting in this room," he said, looking between Snape and Harry.

Snape's body was rigid and he was staring at the desk in front of him, not meeting the Headmaster's eyes. Dumbledore had been his salvation, and his anchor, and though he'd had time to accept it, he still didn't want to believe that anything could bring the man down.

"Sir?" Harry questioned, stealing a quick glance at the Potion's Master. The bastard didn't even look like he cared one whit about the news. Harry's anger flared for a moment before cooling. "Why did you order Sn- Professor Snape to come here?"

He frowned inwardly he had managed to catch himself before he slipped up too badly. There were some things he'd rather not face and Dumbledore's wrath was one of them. Harry didn't like angering him; Snape on the other hand was a completely different story.

Snape's gaze darted to Harry then to Albus. It was a good question, though he would never admit it to Potter. Why was he here?

As if reading his mind, Dumbledore nodded at Severus. "I'm certain that Professor Snape is asking himself the self the same question," he said, smiling at Snape, whose lip curled in irritation.

"There are things that will forever remain between Professor Snape and myself," he said, looking pointedly at Harry. "And unless he himself chooses to tell you -"

"Not likely," Snape scoffed, sneering at Harry.

"- Then they are things you will just have to learn to live without knowing, Harry. However, there are matters that are my secrets to tell, though Professor Snape will no doubt disagree."

Dumbledore looked at Snape, whose eyes were beginning to widen with comprehension. "Professor Snape has taken a vow, under duress, that should the need arise --"

Snape shot to his feet. "You will not tell him," he hissed, slamming his hands down on Dumbledore's desk.

Harry jolted at Snape's fit of rage. The git could be awfully frightening at times and this was one of them. What was Dumbledore about to say that caused the man to react so violently? Something about a vow. But vows were made all the time and not kept so why was this one so important.

Harry knew he was about to wade into murky waters but he had to know. If Dumbledore thought it important enough then he would treat it with as much respect as he could muster. That was considering it was about Snape and not really the old man himself.

"A vow, sir?" He ignored Snape's murderous glare in favor of watching Dumbledore before him.

"Severus, the boy must know," Dumbledore said calmly, quite familiar with Snape's bouts of rage. "It is time for us all to look at the big picture," he said, getting to his feet and placing a hand on Snape's shoulder.

Dumbledore waited until Snape looked at him, their eyes locking before he continued. "I'm am sorry, Severus, but it is time," he said softly.

Snape whirled around, breaking Dumbledore's grip on him and began angrily pacing the confines of the office. "And I have no say in this?" he asked, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides.

Dumbledore watched him sadly. "I'm sorry my boy, but not this time," Albus said gently.

Snape stopped at the mantle and braced his hands against it, staring into the fire, his knuckles turning white as he gripped the marble.

"Harry," Dumbledore said, returning his attention to Harry, "there are things in motion, things that I cannot give you full details about, however, the day may come that, for the greater good, Professor may be forced to kill me himself, and has given me his vow that he will do so," he finished.

"HE'S GOING TO DO WHAT?!" Harry shouted, leaping to his feet. "Have you finally gone barmy! No offense, sir, but that is the single most stupid thing I have ever heard in my entire life!"

He glared at Snape's turned back with a look of disgust. "Snape, you agreed to this!?"

Snape's teeth clenched at Harry's outburst. He wanted to grab the brat and throw him against a wall. Fearing that if he looked at him, he would do just that, Snape continued staring into the fire.

"I'm afraid I didn't give Severus much choice," Dumbledore said, walking around his desk to stand beside Harry. "Harry, you must understand," he said, forcing Harry's attention back to himself. "I am dying, nothing can stop that now, and nothing good can come of that. However, if Professor Snape were to end my life himself, think of the advantage it will bring to our side. Professor Snape will solidify his place in Voldemort's inner circle, virtually guaranteeing that he will be there to help you when the time comes," Dumbledore said reasonably.

Harry backpedaled rapidly as his brain came to a screeching halt. He pinched his arm and scowled. Yes, that did hurt. His eyes boggled as he took a few hesitant steps towards the door.

"I am not hearing this," he reassured himself. It didn't matter to him that Snape's position with the Dark Lord would be solidified. It didn't matter that Dumbledore had forced the matter either. "This is not happening, I am not hearing this," he repeated for good measure, looking at the surrounding portraits for help but none was forthcoming.

Snape was seething. Did the foolish boy honestly believe he wanted this?

"Harry, you must understand the sacrifice Professor Snape is making for all of us," Albus began, but Snape cut him off.

"As if Potter can understand anything!" Snape spat, turning so quickly his robes snapped. "You are wasting your time Albus," he said, glaring daggers at Harry. "And mine."

Harry barely registered Dumbledore's answer before Snape made a comment.

"Well, maybe if you pulled that giant stick out of your arse Professor and tried to explain to me what the hell is going on, I might understand something!" Harry seethed. His eyes flashed angrily as he rounded on his potions professor. "Perhaps I don't understand how someone supposedly smart falls in with the wrong crowd! Maybe there's the smallest chance that I want actual answers for once and not half-truths and riddles!"

The last bit was aimed mainly at Dumbledore even though he was still glaring daggers at Snape. Harry knew he had to calm down before he did something incredibly stupid like hexing his professor to hell and back.

Snape saw red. Before he knew it, he had Harry by the front of his robes and was holding him up against the wall. "You will not speak to me this way, Potter," he hissed, spittle flying from his mouth.

"Severus!" Dumbledore cried, using all his strength to pull Snape off of Harry. The two men stood glaring at one another as Dumbledore sagged against his desk.

"Unacceptable," Dumbledore said tiredly. "You are both acting like children and I will not have it!" he finished, his voice rising.

Harry growled low in the back of his throat and shoved himself forcefully away from Snape. Dumbledore's words rolled over him and while it served to stop his immediate need to kick Snape in the balls it did nothing to stop the rage that coursed through him.

Dumbledore was disappointed in him again and he found himself really not caring one lick if he had upset the old man all his thoughts all his energy was focused on giving Snape the ugliest dirtiest look he could muster. He was too riled to even say anything in retort.

Snape turned on Dumbledore. "I did not ask for this, Albus!" he said through clenched teeth. "I warned you not to tell Potter, that it would change nothing," he ground out. "Tell him what you will, but I will not sit here and be insulted by him any longer," he spat, and with a final glare at Harry, swept from the room, the door slamming behind him.

Shit. Harry deflated the moment the door shut. He sunk back down into his chair and buried his face in his hands. He was no better than Snape was. And there was no amount of apologies he could give that would make what he just said and did forgivable. No, Dumbledore would be right to be disappointed in him. Harry was disappointed with himself.

"Sir," he said quietly, hunching forward on his chair. "I'm sorry. I just. Sn-Professor Snape just makes me so..." He grunted wishing he could formulate a correct opinion on his feelings towards the overgrown bat.

"Angry?" Dumbledore supplied with a sad smile. "Professor Snape is certainly not the easiest man to get along with," Dumbledore said, moving around his desk to sit heavily in his chair.

"Oh Harry," Dumbledore said, still looking sad. "I wish you could understand the sacrifices Professor Snape has made, particularly for you," he added and held up his hand to forestall Harry from speaking. "The number of times he has saved you, and protected you," he said, sighing.

"No matter," Dumbledore said, shaking his head. "There are many things I wish I could tell you, but as I said, they are not my secrets to tell. I can only ask, once again, that you trust me, and my decision, even if you do not trust Professor Snape. I trust him with my life, Harry. Not only to save it, but to take it, which is a decision I wish on no man, not even Professor Snape."

Harry really wanted to nod and get this conversation over with, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Because to be honest, he didn't want to understand. He didn't want that knowledge that everything he held dear could easily be scattered to the four winds.

In theory, he understood perfectly what Dumbledore's trust in Snape meant and what it meant to be told this, but in practice, Harry wasn't sure he could trust himself to not stop Snape from killing the old man.

The problem with speaking with Dumbledore was he always left having more questions than answers. He didn't want to understand what it meant that Snape had saved him, because if he let himself think about it, he would discover it was true. He wanted to continue to live with blinders on, he wanted to go about thinking Snape was the Death Eater scum of the Earth. He didn't want to place the man in any other role.

But Dumbledore was looking at him expectantly and Harry knew he had to say something, only, for the first time that meeting he found himself clueless as to what to say. Saying he understood would be the easiest answer, but Dumbledore like Snape was an accomplished Legilimens and would probably be able to tell he was lying in a heartbeat.

"I wish I understood better, sir," Harry mumbled folding his hand in his lap. "I wish I understood why, but I...I trust you."

Dumbledore smiled sadly. "Professor Snape is you best asset for finding the remaining Horcrux when I'm gone, Harry and I can only hope that you will let him help," Dumbledore said, and sighed deeply.

"Which leads me to the original purpose of our meeting tonight," Dumbledore said, his smile returning. "I believe that I have located another Horcrux."

A/N: The Next Chapter will most likely be updated Friday. Hope you enjoyed this one!

Please Review. Constructive criticism is welcome.