Calming the Fires by ficexchange
Merry Christmas, amethysth!
With much force, Harry kept flipping the pages of his and formerly, the Half-Blood Prince’s Potions book. To Hermione and Ron this would have been a part of Harry’s daily routine of obsessing over the Prince. However, Harry was not paying attention to the book, his dormitory was pitch dark and therefore, he was unable to read. After the troublesome events of the day, Harry was unable to sleep. While the other four boys slumbered soundly, Harry’s mind kept racing with ideas about how Malfoy was connected to the Katie Bell and the cursed necklace incident. There had to be some way of explaining how Malfoy made that necklace come to Katie. It didn’t help that Hermione and Ron had feigned deafness when he had factored in Malfoy in Katie’s attack.
Unable to contain his anger at his friends’ lack of support for his theory, Harry decided to divert his mind from the day’s events. Harry conjured some light with his wand before directing his attention to the Prince’s book. As he was flipping pages now with care, his eyes caught the words Levicorpus on one of the pages. The day’s events had completely made him forget his demonstration of the Prince’s spell on Ron followed by his conversation with Hermione. Hermione had disapproved of Harry’s demonstration of the jinx and referred to its use by Death Eaters during the Quidditch World Cup. As much as that memory made Harry uneasy, he was confident that the Prince was above such use of the jinx. He, like Ron, found the use of it a bit of a laugh. Hadn’t his father used it for a bit of a laugh? However, the memory of how his father had humiliated Snape made Harry uneasier. Why did he find the Prince’s spell harmless and amusing if he found its use by his father unacceptable?
For first time ever since he acquired the Prince’s book, Harry found it as frustrating as Hermione and Ron’s feigned deafness. He decided to go for a walk to clear his mind. With the Marauder's Map and his Invisibility Cloak, Harry set for the dark hallways.
With the lack of run-ins and narrow escapes with Filch or a professor, Harry was convinced that he was the only person awake in the whole castle. On the map, everyone was stationary. All the professors were in their quarters and students in their dormitories sleeping. Even Filch was sleeping. With confidence, Harry put the map in his pocket and exited the seventh floor en route to the Astronomy Tower. This walk seemed to have improved his mood -- that is, until he reached the Astronomy Tower.
In the pitch darkness, he collided with someone. Panic washed over him. His panic didn’t end when the person shed light from his or her wand on his face.
“Well, well. Potter out of bed, breaking rules, how expected?” sneered Snape.
To avoid making matters worse, Harry kept his silence. An argument with Snape was the last thing he needed. Bloody coincidentally fantastic, Harry thought sarcastically. He thought he could have never hated anyone, even Malfoy, with the extent that he hated Snape at the moment. Snape had been the bloody reason he was standing before him. If it wasn’t for Snape’s worst memory, Harry wouldn’t have felt unpleasant about James. That memory kept bothering him, especially now with fresh additions to it, one jinx, Levicorpus, used both by James and Death Eaters. He couldn’t forget that memory, but could he at least escape it? With renewed hatred, Harry glared at Snape.
Unbeknownst to Harry, Snape had employed Occlumency to find out what he was up to.
“Just like you father. Useless. Nosy. Arrogant. A wonder how your mother decided to live with him.”
Snape’s words hit hard. It made Harry acknowledge the thoughts he had refused to. Could he ever reconcile with how his father had been? Now, more than ever, Harry felt the paternal absence. Snape could accuse James as he pleased and Harry couldn’t reject it because unfortunately he didn’t know what to believe about his father. He could never fill that emptiness he had felt ever since he had known himself. It angered him that he had to endure paternal absence. It angered him the James wasn’t going to defend him. Unable to contain himself, Harry yelled, “Don’t you dare talk about my father or mother!”
“You dare talk to a professor in that insolent manner Potter,” sneered Snape.
“You don’t know a damn thing about them!”
Snape raised his wand to Harry’s eyes only to find hurt in those green eyes. To Harry’s surprise, Snape turned his back to Harry and without further insults, hissed in a low, angry voice, “Get out!”
Harry didn’t need telling twice. Something strange had passed between him and Snape that Harry himself could not understand. Was that Snape regretting his words? Or was that pity? Whatever it was, Harry thought that Snape dismissing him without further argument was the kindest he had been to Harry.
Upon entering the Gryffindor common room, Harry threw himself on one of the couches in front of the fireplace. Due to the dying fire, the common room was cold, but Harry was too engulfed in his thoughts to feel the cold. His mind kept racing with Snape’s words, Snapes’ worst memory, and Snape’s humiliation at the hands of James. What bothered him the most about Snape’s words was that they voiced his thoughts about Lily’s relation with James, those thoughts he had pushed aside and refused to acknowledge for the past half year. Some things were best not known. For Harry, that was James’ arrogance and immaturity and Lily’s derision for him. It didn’t help matters when Hermione had pointed out that the jinx James had used on Snape was the one Death Eaters had used on innocent Muggles at the Quidditch World Cup. Was James different from them?
The sudden burst of the fire in the fireplace interrupted his thoughts. Harry calmed the fire with a flick of his wand. A thought occurred to him. Hadn’t Ron argued that there was a difference between how he had used the jinx and how the Death Eaters had? His father had used the jinx for a laugh as Ron had pointed out unlike the Death Eaters.
The fires burst again, this time threatening to spread outside the fireplace.
James had been different. He had changed. He had helped the Order. The arrogant and immature boy had raised a helping hand to those less accepted by the magical world.
That was all that mattered as Harry raised his wand to calm the fires for the last time that night.