Title: L' Estate di Suicidio
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, and I'm not making any money off of them.
Author's Notes: ARGH! As soon as I finished this damn chapter I started having trouble with ff.net and my computer started being completely annoying. But the chapter is finally here, despite a long case of writer's block and various other complications. Its not great, but it is a transition chapter and I did the best I could with it. Hopefully I won't have any trouble with this chapter not showing up... Thank you to all of my reviewers, and I hope you enjoy the chapter. I'll try to be more timely about the next one, but we all know I say that every chapter and it never happens.
"Professor," I whisper nervously, "I think I've already decided."
"Are you sure, Harry?" Snape speaks softly and he sounds almost frightened. It worries me that I have this kind of power over him. Snape is not supposed to know the meaning of fear. He is supposed to be brave and stoic and completely unaware of any vulnerability he may possess. Snape isn't supposed to be human, it disturbs the natural order of things. All summer long, Snape told me that I was just a kid, that I didn't have to be responsible for anyone but myself, and now all of a sudden I find myself with Snape himself under my power. It is terrifying. I wonder if I should be angry that Snape lied to me, but I don't think it was intentional. Maybe it was wishful thinking on his part, something I certainly can't deny him. I wish too, that I could just be a child. I wish that I could be ignorant and blind and completely unimportant in this war. I want to be just another student, with nothing to do but complete my years at Hogwarts, get a job and start a family. Instead, I find myself with the lives of my classmates in my hands. All I've wanted for as long as I can remember is knowledge, about who I am, where I belong, what is going on in the world around me. Now I have that knowledge and despite all the responsibility it gives me, I don't want to give it up. I don't want to be left behind in this fight, its too personal, too important.
"I'll keep your secret, Professor," I say, with more confidence than I really feel, "I won't tell Hermione or anyone else. But you have to promise me, you have to swear... You are doing all that you can, aren't you? You are pushing yourself as far as you can and using every resource that it is safe for you to use to fight this. I can't accept anything less than that. There is a chance that I am letting my friends die because I have faith in you, and I can't leave this room until I know that my faith is justified."
Snape nods, and I am relieved to see so much understanding in his face. I trust Snape more than I have ever trusted anyone in my life, but this situation has nothing to do with my personal feelings. I don't want him to think that I don't have faith in him, but I need to know that he is doing everything that he possibly can for Hermione and everyone else in danger because I am keeping his secret. Snape beckons for me to follow him back into his private study and swings open the door softly. The room is just as messy as his office was, something incredibly out of character for Snape. Stacks of books and rolls of parchment are everywhere and there is a bottle of ink overturned on his desk. Even his desk chair is covered with books and quills and there is no free space to move around.
"Sorry about the mess, Harry," Snape mutters, "But I know exactly where everything is in here, and I need to be able to get to it quickly. I'm not known for my patience on a good day, when I'm working on a project it gets much worse." Snape flicks his wand and the bottle of ink sits back upright, the contents flowing back into their container. Where there was once a large puddle of thick black liquid, I can now see rows and rows of Snape's hasty scrawl. "Over there," Snape motions, "Are books on the magical theory behind tracking and locating spells. Over there, books on specific potions and spells used to find and track people." Snape points to another corner of the room. "Those are all of the books ever written on biological differences between muggles and wizards. And the rest are just miscellaneous books that I thought might be of some help." Snape waves his arms about carelessly, as if it isn't at all impressive that in just a few days he's managed to gather all of these books and has pages of notes on them strewn about the room.
"Have you found anything helpful yet?" I ask, unsure how to convey my awe at his dedication and passion.
"I'm not sure. Before I can try and counter what Voldemort is doing, I have to understand how he is doing it. I think I have a pretty good background on tracking potions, but I think that there must be some spell work involved as well and I have to learn as much as I can about any possible spells he could be using. Also, there isn't much known about the biology of muggles and wizards, and while I've been trying to familiarize myself with what we have learned in previous experiments, it is possible that there simply isn't enough information published. I think I am making progress, though." Snape's eyes light up as he discusses his work, and I am grateful that he is leading our fight against this new threat. Snape will work until he is no longer capable of doing so. It would not surprise me to find that Snape hadn't slept at all since he realized the magnitude of the new threat, that he has been working every spare minute and not wasting time on those silly little details that keep us all alive. I reach out and lay a gentle hand on Snape's arm and guide him back to the living room, pushing him into his armchair.
"You know, when I said I had to know you were doing something, I didn't mean you had to do everything. Isn't anyone helping you with this?" Snape looks outraged at the mere thought of asking for help.
"Who can I trust with this, Harry? Dumbledore knows, of course, but he is taking care of every other possible detail, he can't afford to spend time on this." Snape stretches back in his seat and holds back a yawn.
"What about Professor McGonogall? You told me that you trust her, and she would want to help. She won't forgive you if you don't let her work with you, and I know you would benefit from having her perspective on this." Snape looks at me incredulously, as shocked as I am that I am telling him how to delegate his work. I'm hardly the take-charge type, but when people I care about are being hurt- whether its by someone else or by themselves- I am not afraid to act. It is the same impulsiveness that has gotten me in trouble time and time again, but right now, I know I'm right. Snape will be useless if he doesn't share his burden, and Professor McGonogall is the perfect person to share the responsibility with.
"Are you saying that you won't keep this a secret unless I tell Minerva what is going on and let her help me?" Snape's disbelief is almost funny, but the situation squashes any urge I might have felt to laugh.
"When I said I had to know you were doing everything you could, it wasn't a joke, Professor. We will all be better off if Professor McGonogall is included in this." I make myself respond with more firmness than I feel. I am, after all, challenging the authority of my professor and a man I greatly respect. Snape looks at me with some surprise.
"You're serious, aren't you? Listen, Harry, I don't have any problems with telling Minerva about this situation if that is what you want, but we need Dumbledore's clearance. I'll go speak to him later tonight. Anyway, that isn't why I wanted you to come and talk to me today, is it? How are you feeling? Are you okay?" Snape's voice is filled with concern and I smile. Even when he is loaded down with work and obviously very stressed, he is still concerned with my well-being.
"I'm fine, sir," I answer softly. I don't really think I'll get away with such a short answer, but its worth a shot. After all, Snape is under a lot of pressure and the last thing I want to do is add to that. I'm almost as tired of this argument, continually circling around in my head. he's too busy for me, he won't care, I don't have a right to demand his attention. I'm so sick of my own whining, its become almost intolerable.
"Harry, you aren't fine, and we both know it. You watched a little girl being subjected to the cruciatus curse in addition to feeling the effects of the curse yourself. You were forced to explain exactly what happened to Dumbledore, placed in Poppy's overeager hands and then told some rather traumatic news. You aren't fine and I won't for a second accept you lying to me." Snape has certainly regained his authority. I shrink away from him a little. I don't want to think anymore about the upcoming battles, or the battles I have already witnessed. I don't want to give Snape a detailed report on my self-disgust issue of the day. I want to go to bed and pretend that nothing is wrong. I'm good at that, I'm good at pretending that I am normal and that I fit in. Its probably my only real skill. But there I go, whining again.
"I'm tired, Professor, and so are you. I'm going to go back to the dorm and take a nap or something. We can talk about this later." I stand to leave but Snape jumps up in front of me.
"If you are tired, you will sleep here. You will not leave this room until we have this discussion, and frankly, I don't trust you alone right now. Do you want to go to sleep and put this off or talk to me now?" Snape narrows his eyes and gives me the evil professor look that no longer has much of an effect on me.
"I'm going to sleep. See you in a few hours." I keep my voice slow and even and refrain from stalking out of the room. I flop down on my bed and close my eyes. I'm behaving like a child, but I don't care. I'll talk to Snape later, if he insists, but I've had too much heavy discussion for now. And later, I will have to face Hermione, knowing that I have a secret that could cost take her life. Maybe Snape is right not to trust me now