When Snape spoke next, his voice was cold as iron, "I refuse to give pointless lessons, Potter."
"Are you saying that I'm hopless?!" Harry projected, his voice still a speaking voice, but with enough air behind it to make the entire stony room ring.
"Would I have taught you this summer if I thought that?" Snape said, his voice still low, soft - and penetrating.
"What's changed?" Harry asked sharply.
"Nothing, on that front," Snape said, turning away from Harry to return to his side of the desk. "Sit down," Snape said, not in the mood to yell at Harry about belting his words, apparently.
"I gave the same instruction to everyone who walked into that room: go all out, to the death." Snape shot a withering look at Harry Potter, "Except you, of course."
"Because I know wandless magic?" Potter questioned.
"No." Snape said softly, "Because you're the only student in the room that I can count to actually do it."
Harry's eyes widened at this. This was certainly not what he'd been expecting.
"Or, perhaps, I should say this. Commanded by someone you trust," The implication that Snape was not to be trusted was clear. Snape continued, "You might be ordered to kill Miss Granger or Mister Weasley. You'd do it, too."
Harry opened his mouth, both in shock, and in impulsive need to deny it.
Snape overrode Harry's objections, "War is rarely pretty. I won't leave behind the lessons of previous Wizarding Wars." Harry considered this, knowing that Snape was a spy. Possibly - probably, had friends on all sides.
And then Snape said possibly the one thing that Harry wasn't thinking of, couldn't, wouldn't have thought of, in a million years. "Albus Dumbledore vanquished his best friend, Gellert Grindenwald. It was only by Fawkes' wing that Grindenwald lived."
"They were friends?" Harry finally managed, his throat running dry from the implications.
"For quite some time," Snape said, his reticence resurfacing.
"You have the makings of a fine soldier, Potter, if you manage to survive your first battle or three." Snape said, and his eyes somehow burnt tired. "A task made easier if the other side underestimates and misjudges you, is it not?"
Harry's eyes widened, "Yes, sir."
"Your fellow pupils from Slytherin House have eyes, Potter, not just poisonous forked tongues." Snape said, smirking, "Do you really think they'd believe my judgement of your capacity?"
"i... I hadn't ... thought." Harry stammered.
"No, you hadn't. Instead, you felt." Snape said, his tone uncompromising, the disdain clear.
"I'm sorry sir." Harry said, having trouble understanding how he was supposed to be sorry for feeling - but feeling it anyway. Bastard.
Snape paused, his eyes arrested, "Your lily - it's now pale pink."
Harry looked down, and then said, despite knowing that Snape didn't, couldn't, care about his feelings. "I'm feeling embarrassment."
"Unless it fuels change, shame is not a tool, but a chain around your neck." Snape said, looking smug. "Fix the problem, Potter."
"Yes, sir," Harry said, leaving out the door. He hasn't, not this whole year, taken me back to Gryffindor Tower. Trust is a sometimes thing.
[a/n: Not every lesson needs to be about Severus Snape. Who does, after all, realize that if Potter wound up killing one of his best friends, and there wasn't a DAMN good reason, someone would wind up murdered.
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