"I don't care! Dumbledore made me head of the Order whether you like it or not!" Harry shouted.
"And Dumbledore assigned me those tasks and missions, whether you agree with my methods or not!" Snape growled.
The pair stood facing one another across the table in the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place, hostility cracking in the air like electricity. Harry had his hands planted firmly on the tabletop, leaning over slightly to enforce his point. Snape stood rigid, arms crossed across his chest. Harry shook his head and sighed.
"I can't have a Death Eater--"
"--representing the Order any longer. It's not good for our image, it's not good for our cause."
Snape narrowed his eyes in suspicion, voice low and dangerous. "What are you saying, Potter?"
"I'm saying that you're no longer useful to the Order," Harry said grimly.
"No longer useful--!" Snape exploded. "What--"
"You're relieved of your duties, Snape!"
Harry's voice echoed in the sudden silence of the kitchen. There was a roaring in his ears, a rushing of blood and a pounding heartbeat. He briefly closed his eyes, focusing on steadying his breathing and reigning in his anger. When he opened his eyes again, Snape was no longer looking at him. He was gripping the edge of the table, knuckles white, eyes downcast. Harry observed a multitude of emotions play across his former professor's face. Shock, anger, denial, disbelief, hurt, despair, fear, guilt... acceptance.
Shakily, Snape straightened. His features were hard as they ever were, a resignation in his gaze. "Then I shall take my leave."
Harry glanced sideways. Now that he had his temper in check, practicalities floated to the forefront of his mind, such as how was he going to replace the Order's only spy? He wondered if he'd spoken too rashly, but he was too stubborn to admit fault, especially to this man. Instead, he just muttered, "Good riddance."
With far too much calm, considering the heated argument just minutes before, Snape withdrew his wand from his sleeve. Instantly, Harry had his own wand brandished at the man, expecting a duel, but Snape didn't even acknowledge Harry's offensive stance. Instead, he closed his eyes and pressed the tip of his wand into the dark fabric covering his chest, just above his heart.
Quick as lightning, Harry intercepted the Killing Curse and an instant later, Snape's wand had been flung across the kitchen. Snape himself was propelled back by the force of Harry's spell, and presently he lie crumpled on the tile floor.
Oh god oh god what have I done? Harry rushed forward and crouched down beside the older wizard. Snape looked around dazedly for a moment, black eyes finally making contact with green, then widening in a mixture of horror and shame. He hung his head, hiding behind those curtains of long black hair.
Remorse washed over Harry. He didn't know what Dumbledore was thinking, leaving him as head of the Order upon his death! He wasn't ready for such a responsibility! He knew now that Snape had only been acting on Dumbledore's own orders when he'd killed him, he knew now where the man's true loyalties lay, but he still harbored feelings of animosity toward him that hadn't dissipated upon the revelation of this information. Knowing the gritty details of what the spy had been up to, he'd been sickened. Some part of him knew that this was war and in war there were sacrifices and casualties and sometimes the ends justified the means. That it was all for the greater good. But he'd also felt a righteous fury at just what lengths Snape had been willing to go to maintain his cover as a "loyal" Death Eater, and he wanted no part in that. But Merlin, he didn't wish the man's death! He'd just been angry, that was all. It had been a horrible mistake.
"Hey," Harry began, unsure.
Snape didn't answer.
He tried again. "Hey. Sn-Professor? Snape!"
"Leave me!" Snape hissed. He jerked his head up to issue a glare and in that instant, Harry's wand was leveled at his forehead.
The professor's eyes became glassy and unfocused and Harry sat back on his heels, sighing in relief. A moment later, Snape's hands moved to cradle his head and he uttered a low moan.
"What--Merlin, what happened?" He took in the room. "Potter? Explain."
"Uh..." Shit! Harry hadn't thought this far ahead. How was he going to explain the skip in time? He noticed Snape fumbling around in his robes, clearly looking for something. "What are you doing?"
"Headache..." he mumbled. "Where is that bloody headache po...tion." Accusing eyes snapped up to Harry's face, anger smoldering in their depths. "Potter," he began, deathly quiet. "I am a Master of the mind arts. Sudden disorientation? Headache? I recognize a memory charm when I encounter one... especially one as poorly applied as this! What did you do to me?"
"I-I can't tell you!"
"You will tell me, Potter!"
"No! If I told you what you can't remember, that would defeat the purpose, wouldn't it?" Harry laughed weakly, trying to ease the tension, but Snape merely glared in return. Harry released a heavy sigh, not seeing any way out of the situation he'd created. "Okay, look. I...I made a mistake. Said something I shouldn't have. I didn't mean it. Honest. And, well, you had a bad reaction."
Snape snorted. "A bad reaction? Surely, after all these years, you've become accustomed to my temper?"
"No, professor, it wasn't that. It was...much worse. You wouldn't understand..." Harry deflected.
Snape rolled his eyes dramatically. "Oh yes, I, Severus Snape, know nothing about making mistakes and saying things I didn't mean. Until you tell me, Potter, I will operate under the assumption that you did, in fact, confess your undying love to me and--"
"You--you tried to k-kill yourself!" Harry glanced away, not willing to meet his gaze. When he finally looked at the man, he was still and white as marble.
"What...what did you do?" he whispered faintly.
Harry shook his head. "It doesn't matter now. What matters is... is this. Professor, look at me." Snape made eye contact with him, uncertainty plain on his face. Harry took a breath. "I want you to listen to me carefully. You have a very important role in the Order. What you do is... invaluable. No one else could do what you do. We don't always understand, but we appreciate it. You are needed."
Harry stared intently into his black eyes, willing his words to sink in. The spy nodded wordlessly and looked away.
"Snape, you are... wanted."
His eyes widened in surprise but he otherwise betrayed no emotion. Realizing they were still seated on the floor, Harry hauled himself to his feet and offered a hand to help Snape up as well. He took it, and in a moment both wizards were once again standing in the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place. For a moment neither said a word. Then, Harry broke the silence.
"Professor, would you like some tea?"
Surprised once again, Snape nodded. Harry smiled turned to the cupboards, rummaging around until he'd produced a tin of English Breakfast and a tin of Earl Grey. He set the kettle on the stove and waited for it to boil, occasionally glancing at Snape to make sure he was still there, heart still racing from the near-miss with the professor's life. When the tea was ready, he brought two mugs to the table and sat across from him. For perhaps the first time in their long history, the two wizards chatted amiably.