The Owlery is not one of Snape's usual haunts, but in the end, that is where Harry finds him.
His teacher is sitting in one of the window alcoves, ignoring the soft hooting and swooping of the owls, his gaze far away. Harry says nothing but slips onto the stone ledge across from him.
At this movement, Snape seems to come out of his reverie. "How did you know where to find me?"
"This is a good place to come after unsettling scenes with Dumbledore."
"So it is." Snape considers Harry. "Alright, Potter, what happened? The last thing I remember is Dumbledore hitting you with a body-bind curse. Am I correct in assuming that Dumbledore did the questioning and not you?"
"Wonderful," Snape murmurs. "Let me guess: he wanted to verify my loyalties and uncover any machinations I might have in place against him."
"He did not ask about the war effort?"
"No. He was, um, interested in more personal things."
A look of fear flits across Snape's face. "What do you mean?"
"He wanted to know why you hate him and why you haven't forgiven him."
Snape's eyebrows shoot upward. "I see. Pray tell, Potter, why haven't I forgiven him?"
"Quite simply, you don't want to," Harry replies. "Honestly, Snape, you didn't say anything very surprising, the whole time you were out."
Snape looks slightly insulted by this. "Did he ask about you at all?"
"Only briefly. I think this was about you, Snape. Not me."
"Or so the headmaster would have you believe," Snape mutters. "Very clever of him, really. He knew how much he had fallen in your estimation, and so this was his attempt to show himself in a more sympathetic light."
"So it still wasn't about you," Harry says. "Right? It wasreally about me."
Snape glares at him. "Dumbledore succeeded in manipulating you."
"I'm not going to try to convince you that Dumbledore cares about you," Harry says. "It doesn't really matter what I believe, anyway. Not about that. But you know what? I'm glad he brought us back to the Room."
"And why in Merlin's name is that?"
"The Room failed him this time," Harry explains. "You didn't forgive him. And I think he realized that there are some things you can't accomplish through magic or force." Harry leans forward. "He's done, Snape. No more tricks. He's going to leave us alone."
"You are a fool if you believe that."
"Then I'm a fool," Harry shrugs. "Look, time will tell, right? In the meantime, is there really anything more to say about Dumbledore? Haven't we exhausted the subject yet?"
Snape seems shocked by this. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that we can either keep going over what Dumbledore has done to us—all the things he is responsible for, all the things we blame him for —or we can stop obsessing over him and get on with our lives."
"You act as though I can banish him with a flick of a wand," Snape says incredulously. "After all he has done, Potter? You are content to simply let it go?"
"Do you remember when I asked the Room to give you what you deserved?"
"Of course I do." Snape says. "And don't try and change the subject."
"I'm not," Harry insists. "But do you remember the last vision? The one with you all peaceful while you looked at the fire?"
"I believe I called that vision 'laughable.'"
"But that's the fate you want," Harry pushes. "Right?"
"Out of the options the Room presented me, that was one was preferable," Snape allows.
"Well, I don't think you are going to get that fate by talking about how much you hate Dumbledore all the time. That's all I'm saying."
Snape stares at Harry. Then, amazingly, he starts to nod his head. "I cannot deny the logic in that.
"So let's talk about something else," Harry says with a small smile.
Snape rolls his eyes. "Such as? The Dursleys? My miserable childhood? The mistakes I keep making with you?
"So you and I are never going to discuss a painful topic again? That's absurd," Snape snorts.
"That's not exactly—"
"I do not want to go prancing off into the sunshine and rainbows with you, Potter, pretending that the world is all kittens and roses."
"Merlin forbid," Harry gasps, trying not to scream at laughter at the image. "I'm sure we will talk about those things again. I'm sure we'll even talk about Dumbledore again. But—honestly, don't you think we deserve a break? Can't we, you know…do something fun?"
"Fun?" Snape says blankly.
"I know you are unfamiliar with the concept."
"Very funny," Snape says sourly. "What would you suggest?"
Harry opens his mouth, and then closes it, stuck. Hm. Is there anything they can do that won't result in a fight or angst of some kind?
"Not as easy as it sounds, is it?" Snape drawls. Then a different expression flits over his face. "But I have an idea."
He waves his wand in a complicated gesture, and a little wooden box pops into appearance.
"There you are," Snape says, as he said once before. "Take a photograph. Any one you like."
"Do you trust that it isn't a bribe, this time?"
"Yeah, actually I do."
Snape gestures toward the box. "Then pick one. And I'll tell you about it."
Harry grins. "Okay."
He reaches into the box and picks one at random. His eyes go wide as he looks at it.
"Snape," he breathes. "Look at it. How can this be?" He thrusts the photo at Snape, who studies it and then looks at Harry, an identical expression of shock on his face.
The photo is of four people in a forest. A little girl with red hair lies on her back next to a sparkling brook, gazing at the trees above her. Lying on one side of her is a ragged little boy with red trainers. On the other side, a teenager with messy black hair. They are both listening to the little girl as she chatters. A man with a hooked nose leans against a tree, a small smile on his face as he watches the three children.
A/N For those of you who gave up on this story years ago, I don't blame you. For those of you who made it this far...thank you! I hope you enjoyed the ride.