Amidst the ruins of what had once been the Death Eaters' hideout, Harry finally saw the man he hated as much as he hated Voldemort himself. Snape drew his wand. Harry knew Snape would not think twice before casting the Killing Curse; he didn't hesitate either. He gathered all his hate and pointed his wand at Snape. "Avada Kedavra!"
As soon as the blast of green light left Harry's wand, Fawkes swooped down in front of Snape, opened his beak wide and swallowed the jet of light, absorbing the curse. The Phoenix burst into flames and fell to the floor.
Harry looked at Snape, who had conjured some sort of shield and was now putting it to the ground. Snape knelt and touched Fawkes's ashes with a sad, shocked look.
Harry was left stunned and speechless. Fawkes, who was completely loyal to Dumbledore, had died to protect Snape.
"What is it, Potter? Is it more than your pride can bear, having to admit you were wrong about me?"
Harry sighed and wished he could be in a different story, where there would be good guys and bad guys and he would be able to tell which was which just by looking at their faces. But he would have to learn to live with this reality, where Godric Gryffindor's Phoenix sacrificed himself to save a Slytherin bastard.
"You don't expect me to be happy about it, do you?" snapped Harry.
"Never." Snape's voice sounded ironic and sad at the same time. "Your happiness has never been a priority of mine."
"We should leave," said Harry. "If you're really spying for us, Voldemort shouldn't see you talking to me."
"Brilliant deduction, Potter. Perhaps you are not completely hopeless, after all. However, before you go, let me give you a few words of warning." Snape picked up the ugly and frail baby Phoenix from the ashes. "Fawkes went through this painful process in vain. Your Unforgivable damaged one of our most important allies, and possibly your soul - let's hope you can overcome the damage, as the Phoenix does. Don't ever forget what Dumbledore told you: you will not defeat the Dark Lord with Unforgivables."
Harry swallowed hard. He would not bow his head to Snape. But he didn't know what to say.
"Take care of Fawkes." Snape handed Harry the baby Phoenix. "Think about my words. Farewell, Potter."
Snape's parting words echoed inside Harry's mind as he held Fawkes against his chest. A bitter taste came into his mouth. Snape was right, and Harry would follow his advice. But he would never forgive Snape for being right.
Ptyx, October 2006