Author's Note: Whooot! I told you I'd do this one eventually, and here, after so much time you may have given up hope, it is!
It may take me a little bit to really get back into this world, which is part of what this chapter is about.
This chapter has a lot of paraphrased and summarized bits from the actual book, as well as some lines which are copied verbatim. That is necessary to set it up, as I am still keeping everything as canon as possible besides what is necessarily changed by the alternate events of the story. It does assume that you know all the other stuff that goes on that I just gloss over or don't mention. Basically, if it isn't mentioned as changed, assume it happened more or less the way it did in the books.
The formatting of the narrative will be a little different for this installment. Time won't exactly move linearly the whole time. The best way to see what I mean is just to read. So…read! ;)
Disclaimer: It may have been a while, but I still don't own Harry Potter.
Chapter One: Betrayal
It had not happened.
"We've got a problem, Snape."
It could not have happened.
There had to be some mistake.
Please, let it have been a mistake.
The scene kept replaying itself in his head as Harry sprinted through the corridors, dodging flying curses and bodies, his trainers slick with blood, following his Potions master.
It didn't make sense. Dumbledore couldn't be dead. Snape couldn't have killed him. Snape was ontheirside. He was a double agent, he was really working with the Order, with Dumbledore. With Harry. He clenched his fists and willed his legs to move faster. He would catch up to Snape and demand an explanation. Surely the man had one. He had to have one. Because if he didn't…that would mean that everything, the entire past four years, had been a lie.
Harry was outside now, tearing across the inky grounds. The night air ripped at his lungs and he stumbled, caught himself, and ran on. His chest was on fire as he sprinted past Hagrid's cabin, where Hagrid himself was trying to stop the Death Eaters from escaping through the gates.
Something hit Harry in the small of the back and this time he did go down. He hit the ground and lights danced before his eyes; he could feel blood spouting from both nostrils. Lurching to his feet he pointed his wand toward the brother and sister Death Eaters advancing on him and shouted, "Impedimenta!" Miraculously he hit one of them and they fell to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs. Without waiting to see what happened to them Harry continued after Snape.
"Snape!" he shouted at the retreating figure. "Snape!"
"Turn back, Potter!" Snape yelled.
"No!" Harry shouted after him. "What are you doing? !"
"What does it look like, Potter?" snapped Snape in a voice he hadn't used with Harry in years.
"But you're not really a Death Eater!" he said desperately.
"Are you sure about that?"
Harry stumbled as though he had been physically struck. "Tell me you didn't mean it!" he yelled, clutching his side. "Tell me he's not dead!"
Snape stopped and turned to face Harry. "He's dead," he said harshly. "And I assure you, I meant it."
"Because," sneered the Potions master, "a good servant always follows his master's orders."
"It's not true!" shouted Harry.
"Use your brain, Potter," Snape snarled. "What do you think is true?"
Harry let out a bellow of pain and rage and pointed his wand at Snape. "Stupify!"
He missed; the jet of red light soared past Snape's head; Snape shouted, "Run,Draco!" and turned.
"No!" snarled Harry, charging after them once more. "Cruc—"
But Snape blocked the curse and Harry found himself knocked off his feet once more. Behind him Hagrid's house had gone up in flames. Not even bothering to stand fully, Harry stayed on his knees and tried again.
Snape parried the curse again, sneering.
"No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter! You haven't got what it takes—"
"Incarc—" Harry roared, but he was again deflected.
"Turn back, Potter!" Snape yelled again, grabbing Draco and running toward the gates once more. "Give up! You have no chance!"
"Fight back!" Harry screamed at Snape's retreating back. "Fight back you cowardly—"
"Get out of here, Potter!" shouted Snape roughly. "And stop talking about things you don't understand!"
"You're forgetting everything I taught you about Occlumency!" said Snape, deflecting the curse once more. "Keep your mouth shut and your mind open! One of these days your luck is going to fail you and you are going to find yourself dead! Now come!" he shouted at the huge Death Eater who was currently fighting Hagrid several feet behind Harry. "It is time to be gone, before the Ministry turns up—"
Harry's curse was cut off by a wave of pain more intense than anything he'd ever felt in his life, except perhaps when Voldemort had actually touched him, only this wasn't just in his scar, but throughout his entire body. He fell to the ground, writhing; he was going to die…
"No!" he heard Snape's voice cry, and the pain ceased as suddenly as it had begun, leaving Harry limp and panting on the ground. Snape was still shouting, something about orders, but Harry's brain was still too muddled with pain and grief to comprehend. What he did understand was that Snape was trying to leave again, and Harry had to stop him. In that instant, he cared not whether he lived or died. Pushing himself to his feet he staggered blindly toward Snape, the man who had taken him under his wing, the man who had risked his life to protect him, the man who had made the time he had to spend with the Dursleys as brief as possible, and had made that brief time more bearable than Harry had ever thought it could be, the man who had taught him how to brew potions, had taught how to block his mind from Voldemort, had taught him the some of the most advanced things he knew about Defense Against the Dark Arts, the man who had taught him what it felt like to be cared for and loved… The man he now hated as much as he hated Voldemort himself—
This curse, too, was repelled. Harry was by now mere feet from Snape; he could see the man's face clearly for the first time since the tower. He was no longer sneering or jeering; his face was a combination of rage and something unreadable. Mustering all his powers of concentration, Harry thought, Levi—
"No, Potter!" screamed Snape. There was a loud BANG and Harry found himself on the ground again; his wand flew out of his hand and landed useless several feet away. Hagrid and Fang were yelling and yowling nearby, the flames crackling around htem, but all Harry could see was Snape looming over him.
"You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? You think I do not know how to counter them? Have you not yet learned to learn from your mistakes? No!" Snape shot a hex at Harry's wand, which he had made a grab for, and it disappeared into the darkness.
"Kill me then," panted Harry. He was too full of rage and hurt for there to be any room for fear. "You've been working for him the whole time! I trusted you and you lied to me! I should have known, there were so many signs! Hermione told me not to trust the person who had written those spells in that book! You bastard! Kill me like you killed him, you coward—"
"DON'T—" screamed Snape, and his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as Fang, stuck in Hagrid's burning house behind them—"CALL ME COWARD!"
He whipped his wand through the air and Harry was thrown backward so forcefully that he lost all sense of direction. He heard but did not see a screech and a rush of wings above them as Buckbeack the hippogriff rushed at Snape, slashing him with his claws. By the time Harry's vision had cleared and he had managed to regain his feet Snape and the other Death Eaters had fled beyond the gate and Disapparated.
The rest of that day went by in a blur: finding Hagrid, going back to the castle, reading the note inside the locket and realizing that the horcrux that Dumbledore had died to help him obtain was a fake, and explaining again and again and again that Dumbledore was dead, that Snape had killed him, that Snape had killed Dumbledore. Snape whom he had trusted, Snape in whom he had confided, with Snape whom he had even lived briefly before it had become too dangerous to the man's "work for the Order", Snape whom he had come to think of almost as a father, whom he had repeatedly defended to his skeptical, disbelieving friends. Snape had lied. Snape had betrayed them. Snape had, all along, been working for Voldemort.
AN: And that was Chapter 1 of Coming to Understand! I hope you enjoyed it. I know it wasn't particularly long, but it needed to end there. This story will now be part of my update cycle, which means that it will be updated roughly every two weeks (?) give or take (probably give) a few days. I'd really like to know that this sequence/universe/whatever still has readers, so please review if you have anything at all to say, even just a word or two (though longer reviews are even more awesome ;) ) Thank you!
Also, this is completely un-fanfic and un-Harry Potter related, but I have posted an online audition for the GleeProject. Okay, so so have many, MANY other people, but why not, right? It can't hurt. If you're interested in seeing (and liking) it it's on the GleeProject website under the username Snake-Queen. I know this pretty much does away with any anonymity I have on here, at least for anyone who view the video, but the thing's online for anyone who wants to to see anyway, so…
Check it out?