"This is odd, even for Dumbledore," Ron said flatly.
"I know," Harry agreed grimly.
"Best do as the note says, Harry," urged Hermione, sensible as usual.
"Yeah, I know," Harry sighed. He shrugged and picked up his book bag. "See you guys later." He slipped out of the portrait hole, and walked to the familiar corridor on the seventh floor. He quickly strode three times past the tapestry of the dancing trolls, thinking the odd words Dumbledore had set him. The door magically appeared, and Harry pushed his way inside.
Harry stared doubtfully around the room. It didn't look like promising. The room was completely empty. No windows, no furniture. Odd. Harry walked further into the room, his footsteps echoing loudly. "Professor Dumbledore?" he called tentatively.
The door, as if in reply, banged open to announce Snape striding into the room. His glittering eyes took in first Harry, and then the barren room.
"Professor Dumbledore gave me a note telling me to come here," Harry blurted out before Snape could accuse him of something.
"I received a similar note," Snape allowed stiffly. A long pause ensued.
"Did…did your note sound a little…odd?" Harry ventured after a bit.
Snape said nothing. Instead he folded his arms and stared at him impassively, no emotion in his eyes. They waited for the good part of fifteen minutes, Harry shuffling his feet while Snape stood ram-rod straight.
Harry was starting to get seriously creeped out. Perhaps he had misread the note? Harry took it out and scrutinized it.
Please come to the Room of Requirement immediately upon receiving this note.
PS. You need a place for warriors.
Harry had taken that to be the password, but maybe Dumbledore was just being weirder than usual. Maybe he was supposed to meet the professor outside…the note hadn't explicitly told him to come inside the room, after all.
Harry walked towards the door.
"Where are you going?" Snape demanded.
"I'm going to make sure that Professor Dumbledore isn't waiting outside or anything," Harry said, and then quickly grabbed the door knob before Snape could stop him.
The door wouldn't open.
Frowning, Harry took his wand out and did an unlocking charm. When that failed, he tried several others. Then he shoved the door again.
Harry turned back. "It won't open," he explained unnecessarily.
Snape, again, said nothing, but strode over to the door. "Move aside, Potter" he said imperiously, and began his own series of unlocking spells.
Snape, to Harry's satisfaction, couldn't open the door either. The professor pursed his lips alarmingly and glared at the door as though it were Neville Longbottom. Then he whirled around and advanced on Harry.
"Show me the note the headmaster gave you," Snape demanded.
Harry hesitated, but couldn't see what harm it would do at this point, and gave him the scroll. Snape pulled out his own parchment and compared the two. Then, wordlessly, he returned Harry's parchment to him.
"Well, do they say the same thing?" Harry asked, annoyed.
Snape nodded once, curtly. Then he ordered Harry, "Tell me everything you know about this room."
Harry tensed. Did Snape know about the D.A.?
"Today, Potter!" Snape said, moving a step closer to Harry.
"Well," Harry began doubtfully. "Dumbledore first told me about it last year. The Room of Requirement will be whatever you need it to be. If you need to, erm, use the toilet, it will fill with chamberpots. If you need a place to hide, it will give you a broom closet. That sort of thing. The house-elves call it the Come and Go room."
"Is there any way to alter the room once you enter it?"
Harry thought back. He remembered once really needing a whistle during D.A., and then finding one the next second. But he couldn't be sure if the whistle had suddenly appeared, or if it had been there all along.
"I'm not sure," Harry admitted. Then, cocking his head, he looked at the door and fiercely thought I need the door to unlock. He hopefully tried the knob, but it wouldn't budge. Okay…I need something to unlock the door. Nothing. I need the door to unlock for warriors. Nope. Harry shrugged and looked at Snape, who looked back at him with narrowed eyes.
"How many times have you been in this room, Potter?" was Snape's next question.
Harry calculated in his head. "About a dozen times, sir. And," he added, hoping this information would satisfy Snape, "one time I needed a book and suddenly I saw the one I needed nearby. So maybe you can change the room, but we just don't know how to. I used to come here to, er, study."
"You are a terrible liar, Potter" Snape sneered. "If you think I don't know about your little defense meetings with your friends, you are sadly mistaken."
At this, Harry stiffened, panic shooting through him.
"I will not inform Professor Umbridge, and you in return will do something for me," Snape continued evenly.
"What? Sir?" Harry asked, a sinking feeling in his stomach.
Snape merely smirked. Then he pointed to a corner. "For now, sit there and don't bother me. I need to think."
Harry strongly doubted that was the end of it, but he walked to the corner and settled himself into a corner. The stone walls and floor were cold and rough. He pulled out his Charms homework, for lack of any better idea. But he found himself ruminating over Dumbledore's note, instead. A place for warriors? What did that mean? Harry and Snape were both part of the war against Voldemort. Well, Harry was, in any case. Harry felt rather pleased, if Dumbledore meant to call Harry a warrior. Better that than being thought of as a child, a child Dumbledore had been studiously ignoring this year.
But it didn't seem like Dumbledore, to lock Harry and Snape in a room together, if that is what he had done. Dumbledore was usually not that pushy. Did he mean for his warriors to fight each other to the death? Harry sniggered inwardly at that. Probably not. Was this some kind of a test? Was Dumbledore going to send some horrid creature for the two of them to kill? No, Harry decided, the mostly likely explanation was that this was a way to keep the two of them safe from some unknown danger.
Harry's heart sank as he pursued that line of thought. It seemed much similar to the way Dumbledore always stuck him at the Dursleys for his own good. Did that mean Hogwarts was in danger? Was he going to open the door to find that he and Snape were the last two wizards alive?
Harry jumped up, his heart in his throat. Snape turned his unfriendly black gaze onto him. Harry flushed and looked away, willing his madly beating heart to calm down. Dumbledore wouldn't leave Hogwarts unprotected. He had to trust in the headmaster, and trust that he had good motives for sticking him in here with Snape.
In the meantime, he might as well do his stupid homework. Harry sat back down. Ugh, the stone was uncomfortable. He could feel Snape watching him with those dark eyes, watching him without sympathy. Harry ground his quill into his parchment. I need Snape to stop staring at me.
To Harry's surprise, Snape did.
Maybe you could change things in this room, after all.
Snape began waving his wand and muttering. It looked to Harry that he was trying to conjure something without success. Harry left him to it and lost himself in the world of water charms.
Several hours later, Harry had done all the homework possible with the books in his bag. His stomach grumbled rather audibly. The dinner hour had come and gone, and there had not been a word from Dumbledore.
Harry stuffed his books back in his bag and stood up, stretching. Snape had, sometime during Harry's impromptu study hall, apparently settled himself into another corner, deep in thought.
Snape, too, stood up and cocked his head, as though hit by an idea. "Give me a book from your bag," he growled.
"Why?" Harry demanded, his hunger making him rather aggressive. He wished Dumbledore had sent his stupid note after lunch, rather than before it. Of course, Harry was used to hunger from his time with the Dursleys. But still. It must be eight or nine at night, and he'd only had breakfast all day.
"Because I told you to, you stupid boy!" Snape said, sounding rather cranky himself.
Lips pursed, Harry pulled out a book and thrust it at his professor. Snape snatched it from him and immediately attempted to transfigure it into a key. Harry decided it was a rather good idea, well worth the sacrifice of his Divinations text. But it didn't work, and the book stubbornly remained a book.
"The magic in this room defies all logic!" Snape finally erupted. He threw Harry's book at him, and Harry, Quidditch instincts well-honed, dove and caught it. This was perhaps not the wisest thing to do, because Snape threw him an absolutely filthy look before asking "You have done magic in this room before, haven't you Potter?"
"Yes, loads of times," Harry said carelessly, not seeing the flash of something that ripped across Snape's face. Harry pointed his wand at his book. I need you to become something a warrior would need. To his amazement, the book turned into a blank piece of parchment.
Harry looked up at Snape. To his great satisfaction, the professor looked unnerved, something raw flickering in his black gaze for a moment before he schooled his features.
"What did you do, Potter?" Snape demanded, loathing etched into the planes of his face.
Harry ignored him, thinking hard. Why would a warrior need a blank piece of parchment? Was this a way to communicate with Dumbledore? Was it something like Tom Riddle's diary, a magical artifact that would somehow transport him out of this place? Or was it something else?
"POTTER!" Snape roared, all patience apparently gone. "Answer me now, or it will be detention!"
"I think I'm already in detention," Harry shot back.
Snape, in answer, seized Harry by his arm and roughly pulled him closer. He leaned down, inches from Harry's face, and said in a very soft voice "There's no witnesses here, Potter. Nobody to stop me from doing as I like with you. So I strongly suggest you ANSWER THE QUESTION!"
Harry wrenched his arm out of Snape's grasp and stepped away, a bit unnerved. Once out of striking range, and eying his professor in a different light, he said tightly "I thought to myself 'I need the book to become something a warrior would need.'"
Snape digested this. Then he said in an equally tense voice "Fetch me another of your books."
Harry gave Snape a wide berth and pulled another book from his bag. He offered it to Snape, unconsciously adopting the stance he took when serving Uncle Vernon breakfast. Rather as one would offer meat to a lion. Snape took his Astrology text without a word, and immediately focused on the book. Harry would have bet his Firebolt that he was thinking the same words Harry had.
But the book didn't change for Snape. The potions master stared at the book for a long time, an ugly look flushing his pallid face. Then, with a roar, he threw the heavy book at Harry. This time, however, Harry wasn't quick enough, and the book smacked him sharply in the nose.
Harry grunted and staggered back as he felt blood drip down his face. He gingerly touched his nose. Well, it didn't feel broken. Would his magic work on it? I need my nose to heal. No. I need a healed nose like the kind a warrior would need. Yeah, right. Harry tried several other variations, to no avail. He just needed a hankerchief. Dursley and Uncle Vernon had both broken his nose on multiple occasions, so Harry wasn't too fussed about it. But, still, it really hurt
Harry chanced a look at Snape. His professor was staring at him, an ashen look on his pale face.
Harry pursed his lips, determined not to show Snape any signs of weakness. He marched back to his corner and, for the third time, rifled through his book bag. No handkerchief. Harry finally pulled out an old candy wrapper. I need you to turn into a handkerchief. With a pop, Harry found himself holding a perfectly serviceable one. Why did his magic work sometimes, but not others?
Harry carefully mopped up his blood-spattered face, and then expertly pinched his nose and tilted his head up, waiting for the blood to stop.
He could feel Snape's eyes on him the whole time.