Author's Note: This story was written for the Potions and Snitches 2012 Prompt Fest. Prompts: blood-curdling screams, soggy socks.

Special thanks to my wonderful beta, SocksForDobby.


Snape seized Harry by the arm and yanked him into his office, slamming the heavy wooden door behind them. He shoved him into a student desk chair and Harry winced as his elbow hit the corner.

He was dripping wet; from the droplets forming at the ends of his hair, down to the blood stained socks, soggy in his shoes.

Snape loomed over him, seething. "What was that, Potter?"

"It was an accident!" Harry insisted, his heart pounding rapidly.

"No, it was not!" Snape's every word was like a hammer coming down on the head of a nail. "Foolish, yes, but when you injure someone in a duel that is no accident."

Sectumsempra – for enemies

The scribbled words appeared in Harry's mind and he felt a terrible sense of guilt overwhelm him. Yes, he had meant to cause Malfoy harm. But he hadn't intended to... he didn't want the other boy...

Harry hung his head. "I didn't know what it would do," he said softly.

"What was that?" Snape leaned closer, so that Harry could smell the man's breath.

"I said, I didn't know what the spell would do," repeated Harry more loudly, turning his face away.

Snape exhaled and took a step back. "I underestimated you. You are a bigger fool than I ever realized."

Harry's temper rose up again and he clenched his fist around the handle of his wand, but Snape only laughed a cold, contemptuous laugh.

"Go ahead. Use some of your dark magic skills and curse me. You're simply dying to. I can tell by the way your hand is twitching. Go on." The man raised his empty hands in a surrendering gesture. "Do it."

Harry's wand arm shook as he fought for control. Oh, how he hated Snape. He hated him for making his life miserable. He hated him for goading Sirius into leaving Grimmauld Place. He hated him for standing there now with open hands, taunting him to do something Snape knew Harry never would.

Releasing a shuddering breath, Harry let his wand drop to the stone floor and he sat back down at the desk.

He couldn't recall ever standing up.

Snape smirked. "I knew you couldn't do it. Jinxes and hexes are all good fun, but when it comes to dark magic and causing real harm, you don't have the nerve. And just think, our fate lies in your hands," he sneered. "Harry Potter. The blessed Chosen One."

"I didn't ask for that!" Harry slammed his fist into the desk, ignoring the pain that went through his knuckles. "That stupid name! I didn't ask for any of this! I don't want it!"

"No one asked you what you wanted!" Snape turned on his heels and strode over to his desk. He came back with a blank sheet of parchment and a quill, slapping them down in front of Harry. "We are in a war, and like it or not, everyone has a part to play. Write the Headmaster's name down."

Harry blinked. "What? Why?"

"Write it."

Harry did.

"Now describe him," said Snape, crossing his arms over his chest. "What is the Headmaster's role in this war? Write it down."

Well, that was easy. Harry scribbled down the word Leader.

Snape leaned over his shoulder. "Correct. Professor Dumbledore is undoubtedly the leader of this insanity. But all great leaders share one common shortcoming. What is that?"

Harry stared down at the parchment, quill ready, but with no answers. He tried to think back to his history of magic lectures, but he couldn't even recall any great leaders' names; much less their shortcomings.

He shrugged at Snape, feeling an eerie sense of déjà vu as he said, "I don't know, sir."

"Mortality, Potter," growled Snape, snatching the quill away from Harry and writing the word Mortal. "Albus Dumbledore, in all his great power and wisdom, is not invincible. Sooner or later, he will die. Do not take his presence for granted."

Harry stared at the miserable new word. He thought of Dumbledore's black and withered hand and looked up at Snape in horror. Surely he couldn't mean...

But Snape had moved on. "That idiot, Weasley; put his name down."

Harry wrote Ron's name down reluctantly, not sure he wanted to hear whatever Snape would have to say about his best mate. Beside the name, he went ahead and wrote Friend.

Snape rolled his eyes. "How touchingly sentimental. But that's not enough. What is his value to you in this fight?"

Harry thought for a moment. Ron was loyal and would do anything for Harry. His temper got in the way sometimes, but Harry had no doubt that in the end, Ron would always be there. They would fight together until the end. Whenever the end was.

Beside friend, he scribbled, Loyal.

Snape took the parchment, wrote something, and then handed it back.

Soldier.

"Weasley is your fighter. But you cannot depend solely on him. When the going gets tough, when things become too difficult, he may very well desert you. So you depend on Granger for guidance. She is your advisor. Listen to what she says."

Snape's voice had taken on an urgent tone unlike one Harry could recall hearing before. He put Hermione down on the list and Snape prattled on. The list grew.

Lily – martyr

Muggle-borns – victims

Lupin – collaborator

Ministry – puppets

Malfoy – outcast

"What?" Harry sputtered. "No. If anyone has been an outcast in this school, it's been me. Especially after last year! What's Malfoy got to complain about?"

"Draco Malfoy's beliefs are unpopular with the majority of the school." Snape's lips curled into his familiar sneer. "I know you think the world revolves around how much your peers like you, but there are others facing challenges here too."

Harry snorted and crossed his arms. "If Malfoy is having problems being a Death Eater, then he deserves every bit of it. Why should I care?"

Snape looked for a moment like he wanted to snatch Harry's parchment from him. Instead he went back to his desk and returned with a Pensieve in hand. He placed it on Harry's desk.

Harry's posture stiffened and he leaned back.

"It is for those you care for the least that you should watch the closest," Snape murmured, holding his wand to his temple. He dropped the extracted memory into the basin. "The world is going to hell and when it does, everyone is going to turn to you. You will need to have the answers."

"Just because of this stupid scar?" Harry's hand flew up to his forehead and he rubbed at it vigorously. "I don't know enough about anything. Why does it have to be me?"

"Because you are their saviour, Potter. The Chosen One. The Messiah," Snape hissed, leaning in towards Harry. "You will utilize every bit of information you have about the people you know and you will lead these people to victory because you have to."

Snape was talking about someone strong and brilliant. Someone like Dumbledore. Harry shook his head. He couldn't be that.

Snape seized him by the arm. "This is war, Potter! There is only one thing you need to know."

He shoved Harry down into the Pensieve and Harry found himself standing in the middle of a full blown magical battle. Wizards surrounded him, fighting one another in blinding flashes of light. Too much was happening too fast for Harry to recognize any one person in the panicked crowd. But even through the flashing, running, and blood curdling screams, he couldn't help but take in the piles of dead bodies littering the ground. These witches and wizards had not died peacefully and the horror was still visible on their bloodied faces.

Harry turned aside and retched.

There was a tug on his arm and he found himself standing in the office once again.

"People die in war. Your job is to keep the body count down." Snape shoved the list of names into Harry's hands and went back to his own desk. "You are dismissed."

Harry wiped at the vomit around his mouth and swung his bag over his shoulder. With a grip on the door handle, he paused and looked back at Snape.

"What about you, sir? What word describes you?"

Snape did not look up from the stack of papers on his desk and after a brief pause, he said softly, "Liar."

The End.


This brief story was inspired by the Harry Potter music video, "The War" by agentofCHAOS13x on YouTube. Also the 30 Seconds to Mars song, "This is War".