Severus Snape strode through the dark halls of Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry. It was way beyond curfew and after the horrible day he had had, he was desperate to deduct some points. prowling towards the Gryffindor dormitories - because surely there was some stupid lion outside- Severus halted as he heard sniffling noises coming from one of the classrooms. Disillusioning and silencing himself he was about to open the doors when he heard footsteps coming in his direction. Cautiously, he stood close to the wall to prevent himself from being knocked over by the intruder.

To his immense surprise (note the sarcasm) and sorrow (sincerity), it was none other than Harry-James- bloody-Potter. Severus couldn't ignore the pain that shot through his heart when he saw the boy. Dumbledore had just informed him of the boys' fate and Severus loathed the fact that the boy he had protected for the past five years was going to die. But then again, Severus thought, the boy had gone through so much, maybe it was for the best that he would finally be with his parents.

Looking at the boy -no, young man, Potter hadn't been a boy ever since he had watched Diggory die - Severus noted some stark changes between the boy who stood in front of him and the eleven year old boy who he had first seen in the great hall. Potter had definitely grown taller, almost touching Severus' 6'2 now, his shoulders had broadened and his face had matured into that of a handsome young man's', Severus noted with a strange warm feeling filling up his chest. However, the feeling vanished a second later when he saw Potter's eyes - older, more tired, sorrowful and hardened; not something that should be on any sixteen year olds face, let alone his sixteen year olds face. He couldn't help but mentally stumble when he noted the use of the possessive. But he couldn't deny that a small, selfish part of him wanted Potter to remain alive. No, he Severus Tobias Snape absolutely did NOT care about Harry Potter.

After having convinced himself of this fact Snape noted Potter's slight grimace when he reached the door of the classroom, as well as the righteous anger that flashed through his eyes before he managed to calm down.

Taking a deep breath Potter opened the door of the classroom and followed the sniffling sounds, with Severus as his silent, invisible shadow. Snape watched and followed as Potter navigated through the old benches silently before he descended a flight of stairs and came across a weeping Hermione Granger.

Sighing Snape followed Potter silently and stood in front of the two troubled teenagers as they sat down on the steps, and prepared himself for a long bout of teenage angst. He expected Potter to apologise in that arrogant manner of James Potters' and then blame the whole thing on Granger. What he didn't expect was Potter sitting down next to Granger and offering her a shoulder to cry on - which she gladly accepted.

"It hurts Harry" Granger sobbed into his shirt.

"I know, I know. " Potter murmured into her hair, drawing her close when another sob wracked through her frame.

"how . . .how does . . . it feel when . . . you . .hic. . . see Ginny with Dean?" Granger stammered, sniffling.

Snape watched as Potter didn't outwardly react but the slight tightening near his eyes, which Severus would have missed had he not been a spy, gave him away. Severus felt an intense pain go through him when he realised that Potter too, was in love with a girl who loved someone else; he didn't want Potter to go through all that sorrow. He hoped the boy would tell her before it was too late,

"I have no idea what you're talking about" Potter replied.

"Oh please Harry, you are my best friend. I've seen the way you look at her" Granger scoffed.

A bittersweet smile twisted Potter's lips.

"Yeah, I do imagine you have" he said

Snorting Granger said, "you sound like Snape"

"I always said the man has style" Potter retorted and Snape couldn't help but smirk. Potter was acting very Slytherin and he was secretly pleased that someone acknowledged his style.

For a second there was silence before Granger asked, "who are you and what have you done to Harry Potter?" and just like that the two of them were laughing. Severus felt a foreign warmth go through him when he saw ha-no Potter laugh.

"So how does it feel?" Granger asked again once they had both regained their composure.

Potter stared at her for one long minute before replying, "it feels just like this"

"How do you put up with it?" Granger asked desperately.

"How I put up with it won't help you Hermione, you will have to find a way for you to put up with it." Potter replied refusing to meet Granger's eyes.

"How do you put up with it Harry?" Granger asked determinedly.

Potter sighed. "I put up with it Hermione because I know that getting involved with Ginny will just put her in danger. Everyone I care about dies! Sirius, mum, dad, Cedric . . . hell!" Potter said his carefully calm demeanour cracking slightly," I might not even survive the war! I couldn't hurt Ginny like that. I put up with it Hermione because I know that that's whats' best for her, because, because im so scared. im scared that I'll wake up one day and see that Ginny's dead, that everyone I care about is dead because of me. there's no one I can turn to Hermione, because im so terrified that they'll die too. no one who loves me 'Harry' and not the 'chosen one' and doesn't end up dead in a year!"

"oh Harry" Granger said before she hugged him.

As Severus stared at the teenager in front of him he felt the same strange feeling that enveloped him in Dumbledore's office as he was told the boy's fate, envelop him again, and suddenly he identified it. It was a mix of pride, sorrow, protectiveness, worry, a lethal anger towards all those who had hurt him, and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . love. was this how being a father felt?

Dumbledore's ominous words echoed in his head once more,

"The boy must die, the dark lord must himself do it."

"Don't tell me now that you have grown to care for him?"

Staring at Harry, Severus felt tears pricking his eyes as he realised that he did. He did care for Harry James Potter, the son of his beloved flower, Lily Evans-Potter. His son in all but blood.

But that wasn't what made despair and a crippling sorrow well up in his frozen heart; it was the knowledge that just like his flower, he was going to lose his son too. That once again, he would be powerless to stop a loved one from dying.

And for the first time in fifteen years, Severus Snape wept.