Author's Note: Excerpts from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, pg. 604.

Snape closed in, his pale face suffused with hatred. He looked down on Harry Potter where he lay, as wandless and defenseless as Dumbledore had been.

"Kill me then," panted Harry, who felt no fear at all, only rage and contempt. "Kill me like you killed him."

"You had as much of a hand in his death as I did," Snape seethed.

"What?" gasped Harry, staring up at the dark-robed man standing over him, whose wand was pointed at Harry's chest.

"Did you or did you not make him drink poison this evening?"

"I... but... he made me! He made me promise…" Harry said, his voice trailing off.

"He made me promise too," Snape sneered.

Harry stared, wide-eyed. "He made you promise to kill him?" he whispered.

"To cast the killing curse, yes. Just as he made you promise, Potter, to make him drink that lethal potion."

"But... how… " Harry paused, suddenly suspicious. "How do you know about the potion?"

"Because I brewed it years ago," Snape snapped, anger and regret darting across his pallid features. "And that potion would have caused a very painful death, I might add."

Harry paled and struggled to push himself into a sitting position.

Snape held his wand steady. "He told no one everything, Potter. Not even you."

"But he trusted you," Harry countered.

"As much as he trusted anyone, yes," Snape intoned.

"I still hate you," Harry said, his voice laced with bitterness.

Snape quirked an eyebrow. "I assure you the feeling is mutual."

The two of them held their ground, staring evenly at each other. The cool evening air stirred around them. Students had begun to spill out of the castle.

"What happens now?" Harry asked.

"We each have our roles to play," Snape murmured. "I assume Dumbledore left you a mission?"

Harry nodded. "And you too?"

Snape's mouth twisted. "Of course."

They gazed at each other in silence, bitterness and resentment replacing open hostility.

Snape lowered his wand. "I don't want to see you again, Potter," he said coldly. "Don't give me a reason to curse you—now or in the future."

"Same goes for you," Harry replied.

With a flick of his wrist, Snape silently summoned Harry's wand and threw it to him. "Don't make me regret this, Potter."

Catching his wand in surprise, Harry watched as Snape stalked off in a flurry of billowing black robes. Harry looked around: at the castle, at the place beneath the astronomy tower where he knew Dumbledore's body lay motionless, at Snape's retreating figure. "I guess this really is good-bye then," Harry muttered, getting to his feet.

There was, after all, a battle to be fought—and won. And it was all starting; right here, and right now.