(And if you're thinking of pointing out that I didn't follow the rules exactly, remember that I am a Rebel Who Cannot Be Tamed.)
Character: Severus Snape
Title: Better Late Than Never
Line: "You don't say? The suspense is killing me....
Better Late Than Never
Harry hesitated before tapping on the heavy door. He waited, and had turned to leave, when the latch finally clicked and the door swung open to reveal Snape at his desk, hunched over an intricate arrangement of colored stones and shards of glass.
"Enter. Oh, it's you, Potter," he said, giving his familiar disdainful look, as if Harry we eternally coated in stinksap. "Shouldn't you be celebrating with your little friends?"
"No," Harry said. "Well, yes, but there something I need to tell you first. Sir." Although Harry had imagined this moment repeatedly, his mind went blank. He knew what he wanted to say, but he hadn't got how to start. A bead of sweat trickled down his temple as he realized Snape was staring at him, an eyebrow cocked in annoyance.
"Well?" Snape said, the ice in his voice turning Harry's flush to chills.
"I don't know how to begin," Harry said. "I…" Words failed him a second time.
"You don't say. The suspense is killing me…" Snape said dryly, turning back to his desk. "I'm sure it can wait, but I can't."
"No!" Harry said, snapping Snape's attention back to him. Before the expected reprimand followed, Harry pushed on.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, Sir," he said. "But I can't wait. I've waited too long, and that's part of the problem. You've said things about my father and how he was, and I never believed you. I thought you were just trying to make me angry. But I've learned more about him, and I've seen…. Anyway, you said my father was arrogant and I always thought you were wrong, but you weren't. He was young… No, I don't want to make excuses for him. I can see why you hated him. And why I bring up hateful memories. I wish I could do something to change the past, but I can't. I came here to say that I was wrong. He became a good man, but while he was here at Hogwarts, he was a troublemaker. He was a show-off and arrogant. And he was beastly to you. You were right. I know that now."
An odd expression had formed on Snape's face, unlike anything Harry had seen before. The sneer had all but vanished, and Snape's eyes were penetrating into Harry's as if he was really seeing him for the first time. Harry swallowed, hard. The easy part was over, now to the difficult task…
"Yes," Snape said, drawing out the sound as if he, for once, had no idea what words should follow. "Well, then. Manfully conceded, Potter. Now, as I am in the middle of a rather delicate…"
"Please, Sir, there's another thing," Harry said, afraid that the icy Snape would return.
"I know that since I came to Hogwarts, I haven't thought much about you. I mean, I haven't thought about what it's been like for you with all that's happened. It can't have been very easy, with me getting so much attention and always reminding you of my father. I've thought you were just a horrid person. But you left the Death Eaters and joined the Order. I hadn't considered how hard that would be, or how dangerous. Or what that says about the kind of person you really are. I know you didn't do it for me, but you've helped me a lot." Harry swallowed at the lump in his throat.
"I don't think I can ever truly thank you enough for all you've done. But…" Harry drew a deep breath, and let the words tumble out. "Thank you, Professor Snape, for doing a counterspell when Professor Quirrel was trying to jinx me off my broom. For pushing me to do better so I wouldn't give up. For teaching me Occlumency. For saving my life, repeatedly. For risking yours, and joining the Order and helping me when Dumbledore asked even though you hated me, and for everything else. I owe you a lot, Professor, and I don't know how I could ever repay you in any way. But I wanted you to know I'm grateful."
Harry stopped, not knowing what to expect. Snape was staring down at his desk where his hand had scattered the stones and glass. His hair fell across his eyes, blocking Harry's view.
A long moment passed, and Harry wished Snape would say something, even if it was some of his usual sarcasm. When Snape spoke, however, it was completely without acrimony.
"You are full of surprises, Potter," Snape said quietly. "You are indeed not your father. I must remember that." He began carefully separating out the stones on his desk.
"Now, if you're quite finished, I'm afraid I have to start over with this."
Harry shifted, uncertain, waiting for something, but he wasn't sure what. Snape finally looked up at Harry, his dark eyes uncharacteristically sympathetic.
"Go on. I'm sure they're waiting for you," he said gently.
"Yes, Sir. Thank you, sir," Harry said, and turned to go, pulling the heavy door closed behind him. Just before the door clicked shut, he heard Snape mutter:
"And I don't hate you, Potter."
Standing in the empty hall, Harry felt the heaviness in his chest lift away, replaced by a rush of giddiness. With a lightness of heart that could surely lift his feet off the stone floor, Harry ran, laughing, through the echoing halls to rejoin the party.