Chapter III - The Green Light of Avada Kedavra
The memories of that Green Lady night were blurry in Harry's mind. However, there was one thing he was sure of: Snape had acted very differently from usual. He had spoken to Harry with admiration and, even more, with deep deference. Had the potion completely altered his personality, his feelings? Harry hadn't felt all that different. He had felt like himself, only more... lucid, more connected to everything around him, more sensitive. And that moment when Snape had held his hand, what was that? Something so intense that it hurt. Could it be only the effects of the potion?
Immersed in doubts, Harry still had to face Dumbledore's Occlumency lessons, which were extremely painful. He felt totally exposed before the Light wizard who, seeing all the misery filling the teenager, seemed to be trying to enfold him in his wise and magnanimous comprehension. However, the old wizard's inherent kindness was hurting Harry, smothering him. And this only made Harry feel even guiltier, even more wrong... and even more rebellious.
If the present was disturbing, it didn't help to think of the future that awaited him. He was fated to be either victim or murderer. The future of the wizarding world was in his hands. And he couldn't even cast an Unforgivable. The worst part was that no one appeared to be concerned about that, in preparing him for the final confrontation. The new DADA teacher was pathetic, ridiculous. Even with his little experience, Harry was sure he knew a lot more than the man did.
All these excruciating doubts led him to take an unexpected decision. One that involved Severus Snape, in whose office he was working that night, trying to decipher Slytherin's Manuscript. "Professor?"
"Potter, that articulation problem of yours is really astounding and seriously irritating. Spit it out."
"Professor, I'd like you to teach me Defence Against the Dark Arts."
A dark eyebrow arched. "What did you say?"
"I'd like you to teach me Defence Against the Dark Arts."
"Potter, I am your Potions teacher. Your Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is..."
Harry cut him off. "I know that. But... I think you're better prepared to teach that course."
Snape's eyes widened. "And just how did you get to this brilliant conclusion?"
"Well... Sirius once told me..."
At the sound of the name he abhorred, Snape's eyes narrowed.
"...that you, when you entered Hogwarts, knew more about the Dark Arts than most of the seventh-years. And you know, Sirius wouldn't acknowledge your merits if they weren't true." Harry wasn't surprised to see his teacher's lips curling in a sneer. "Being a Death Eater..."
Snape made a sudden movement, instinctively seizing his left arm with his right hand. Then he folded both arms over his chest. "Former Death Eater, Potter."
"You know the prophecy, don't you?"
"What is your point?"
"According to the prophecy, my destiny is to either kill or be killed by Voldemort..."
"I have already told you not to say that name!"
Harry pretended not to have heard him and continued. "In this case, isn't it logical to assume that I should learn to defend myself by using the Dark Arts? So I can defend myself from Voldemort? And wouldn't it be for the best if I learned them from someone who knows the subject better than anyone else, and who knows Voldemort's way of thinking and acting?"
"I see, with no small amount of surprise, that unlike obedience to your superiors, logic isn't an entirely alien concept to your mind, Mr Potter!"
Harry rolled his eyes. "So?"
"Will you teach me or not?"
"Potter, what you ask me isn't up to my decision. The Headmaster will not allow it."
"Dumbledore won't allow it? Why?"
"Firstly, he doesn't allow *me* to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts. This is something he has always made very clear. Secondly, he will never allow *you* to be taught the Dark Arts."
"Because... because the Dark Arts are very dangerous."
"Well, and Voldemort, isn't he dangerous?"
"Precisely. There are those who think that the Dark Arts was what transformed the Dark Lord in what he is today. It is a polemical matter. However, in any event, the Dark Arts make possible the creation of... Dark Lords."
"Dumbledore thinks that if you teach me Defence Against the Dark Arts I can be turned into a kind of... Voldemort?"
"It isn't that simple, evidently. You have this irritating tendency to simplify things. Not everything is one-dimensional, Potter. Not everything is either black or white. The fact is that you cannot practice the Dark Arts without collateral damage. The Dark Magic changes the wizard that performs it. It deforms him. It... dehumanises him."
"But you... you're on the side of the Light."
"Am I? Do you trust me?"
"Me? Well, Dumbledore does."
"Dumbledore isn't perfect. Sometimes he makes mistakes, doesn't he?"
Harry thought about the sequence of Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers that had been hired by Dumbledore: Quirrell hiding Voldemort under his turban; Gilderoy Lockhart, a complete fraud; the fake Moody... He remembered the previous year, when Dumbledore had confessed to Harry he had made a mistake by not telling him previously about the prophecy, and remembered all that useless commotion over the copy of the prophecy that was kept in the Department of Mysteries of the Ministry of Magic, and how it had resulted in Sirius' death. "Yes, but..."
"Furthermore, I also managed to win the Dark Lord's trust..."
Harry shivered. "Er... What are you trying to prove?"
"Me? Nothing. I merely asked if you trust me. Your old, sadistic, greasy, loathsome Potions teacher. Former Death Eater, traitor to all causes, king of the second chances. Head of Slytherin, enemy of the Gryffindors. Be honest. A few days ago you were blaming me for the death of your godfather. You hate me, just as much as I hate you."
"One more reason for you to be my tutor. It will be easier to cast an Unforgivable against someone I despise so deeply."
Harry faced him defiantly. For a few dreadful moments, neither of them said a word. Eventually, Snape spoke between gritted teeth, in an even lower tone, "Do you want to learn the Dark Arts from someone you don't trust? Don't you have any notion of the danger? You are indeed a perfect Gryffindor..."
"Not Dark Arts; Defence Against..."
"Nonsense. How would you learn to defend yourself against something when you don't know what it is? In order to learn Defence, you need to learn the Arts, there is no alternative. The rest is rubbish."
"Like our Defence Against the Dark Arts classes here at Hogwarts?"
"Don't you put words in my mouth, Mr Potter. The Headmaster has his reasons to act this way. The fact is that he doesn't want me to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts."
"If he allows it, would you teach me?"
"That's a totally irrelevant question, since he won't."
"What if I manage to persuade him?"
"The Golden Boy thinks he can get everything, hmm?"
"You've said yourself that I always manage to break the rules and get away with it... If I manage to convince the Headmaster, will you teach me?"
"You're annoying me so much that you might deserve the answer you're trying to drag out off me. Just don't complain later if my words hurt your precious ears! It would be too risky for me to teach the Dark Arts. Because Dark Magic is... alluring. Because... you don't know the feeling of having someone under your power, with no restrictions... to put someone under Imperius... or to be able to annihilate them with an Avada Kedavra. You don't know how intoxicating it is, the green light of Avada Kedavra, Mr Potter..."
The hair on Harry's nape bristled. He shuddered, remembering the scene of the death of his parents. The green flash, his father's screams, then his mother's..."
"Did you... feel pleasure... with the Avada Kedavra?"
Green and black eyes fought a silent battle. "I know it's not easy for you to hear this, Potter. But it's the deepest truth. That is why the Dark Arts are so dangerous: because they're fascinating."
"But then... why have you come to Dumbledore's side?"
"Perhaps, deep down, I wasn't the monster you think I am. Perhaps I still had a bit of a conscience left. And perhaps I noticed, albeit belatedly, that it was insane. Do not believe, however, that renouncing the Dark Arts was easy. Even today I must control myself so I..." Suddenly, Snape seemed to realise he was going too far. He let the sentence die, and faced Harry sharply. "I don't know why I'm telling you all this. After all, I guess you already have the answer to your question."
Harry stood up, indignant. "How do they expect me to defeat Voldemort then?" The images of Sirius, Cedric, his parents, of all Voldemort's victims glided before his eyes. "And how many people will die until I find out how to defeat him?"
Snape was on his feet too. "Stop thinking of yourself as the world's saviour, Potter! That delusion of grandeur of yours will be the Order's doom someday! Sit down and go back to work."