A/N: Disclaimer - I do not own any of these characters, am making no dosh out of it, and am writing purely for my own and other's amusement ;-)

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'Come in.'

As Harry clicked the latch and entered the gloomy office he really hoped Dumbledore wasn't making a mistake. If it hadn't been for all the Headmaster's prompts, he wouldn't have dreamed of doing this anyway.

But if it was the only way forward?

He pushed the heavy door shut and cast his eyes nervously around him. The dungeon office with its curved stone ceiling and flagstone floor was weakly lit and chilly. The only respite from the gloomy grey decor was the rather macabre collection of various brightly coloured liquids and things in jars, ranged around the walls.

In short, the place was just as he remembered it over four months ago - unwelcoming and creepy.

Harry dragged his eyes away from the dusty containers. Because there, on the other side of the room sat the equally unwelcoming and creepy owner of the office. Professor Snape. The man was bent over his desk, frowning slightly at a piece of unrolled parchment in front of him.

Harry watched as Snape turned to scrutinize an open book to his left, before returning back to the parchment and picking up a quill to scrawl a few words, his dark eyes glinting in the torchlight.

The teenager continued to stand there bemused, presuming the professor was just finishing off marking a piece of homework. Even so - it was strange to watch the man when he wasn't busy glaring his daggers of hate at 'Potter.'

Snape looked almost, dare he say it? Relaxed?

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Mostly I like to think I feel nothing. I like to think this is a strength at these times.

I went on for years in an unemotional torpor, cold blooded as any reptile, emblem of my house. Losing myself in brewing potion requests late into the night, drugging myself into a stupor to mute any dreams, lessening the chance of any disrupting my sleep. One pile of marking mattered as little as the next. As long as they gave me my distance, my space, my time for silence after the last bell, I could go on in this way and never be reminded to look behind.

The staff respect my need for silence. They call the dungeons mine – but it is only because no one else cares to teach in them. Down here, there is no way of telling whether it is day or night. Intimidation ensures long hours of uninterrupted, muffled solitude.

Things can be buried as long as there is no visual reminder of it. Things can be left nameless and rotting in the shadows. Disregarded. Cankering.

But only a fool would be stupid enough to forget that nothing – nothing - ever really goes away. Even the seemingly forgotten are only sleeping, like rotting corpses waiting to be dislodged by an unusually high tide.

I had the fortune to mislay such a memory for eleven years. It slept, unprovoked, for over a decade. But now it's September once again, and five years almost to the day. Such as is, this thing came to the surface and by some sort of perverse miracle it repeatedly refuses to sink back down.

And still people choose to willingly sacrifice themselves to the waves of his ignorance, while he rides cork-like atop them.

Now he remains forever within my thoughts, the least thanks to the chain of insufferable incidents last year. The headmaster has no idea what it is to store hour upon hour of unpleasant childhood memories in your mind, accumulating like a noisome scum on a stagnant backwater.

To become the Boy-Who-Lived by vanquishing the Dark Lord, only to become the Boy-Who- Miraculously-Survived-Long Enough-to-Resurrect him. A heroic villain.

A privileged present, but a loser's past.

Perverse indeed.

There are still a few weeks of Summer weather left, so Flitwick tells me. Confining oneself underground for days at a time makes judge of seasons tricky. I used to be able to tell the time of year by the availability of certain potion ingredients, but improvements in cultivation have put a stop to these fluctuations.

Though there is one thing I am constantly aware of and wish I could forget – the school year. And tomorrow is the start of yet another.

Third year Gryffindor/Slytherin first session. I am trying to set the pack of hot-headed brats a particularly demanding task. Even though the idea that a challenge will keep them quiet, is an impossibly vain hope.

I stand up and pace for a short time. As my eyes skim the shelves I notice that something is casting a dark shadow behind one of my larger antique petrified specimen jars.

I snake my fingers past the jars and pull the object out. It is a thin black book, its cover slightly battered, the gilt lettering down the spine almost rubbed away. It was probably pushed down the back by one of the larger journals.

I wipe the dust off the cover and feel a tingle of familiarity brush my spine. This book is mine. Was mine, in my youth. I stare at it, unblinking as memories coil in the shadows, wary of coming forth.

I seat myself at my desk once again. The lesson plan stares blandly up at me – I snap the parchment shut in one movement, it can wait until later.

Laying the book flat upon the table I stare at it long and hard before I finally decide what to do. I slide a finger cautiously under the cover. The binding creaks as I open it. Inside the paper is yellowed and faded, and smells musty.

I read the words as I used to, slowly, and with deliberation.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images...

I pull a fresh scrap of parchment from a drawer as I read. At first I can't seem to recollect any of the words. And then, all at once, a few lines arrest my attention.

Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair Spread out in fiery points Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.

In one moment something long buried comes to light. I welcome the feeling, for I remember why I used to like these words. I have to confess that I like them still. Some pages crack loudly as I turn them, some pages make no protest as they are already loose. I only pause to make brief notes.

'What it that noise?' The wind under the door.

There is a low rapping sound. It takes me several seconds to realise that it is someone knocking on my office door. I curse under my breath before asking them to enter. I am distantly aware of them standing there quietly, and am vaguely impressed. I'm sure they will wait until I have finished the second part.

'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember 'Nothing?'

Are you alive, or not?

I pause. Damn this Muggle poet; whoever he was, he understood what it was to live through dark times. The only Muggle poet I have read, and the only one I believe I ever will.

I read on. There are many Muggle references that I am still ignorant of - I prefer it this way.

When Lil's husband got demobbed. Demobbed? My curiosity begins to irritate me. I write it down. Perhaps I will look it up some –

Merlin – the eyes!

I hastily snap the parchment shut, feeling a wholly unpleasant chill shoot up my spine. It takes a fair effort to keep the hand that is holding the quill from quivering.

The brat of the boy is in my room! He is in my room and he has been watching me all this while!

"You...dare to step back in to my office, Potter?" I hiss, feeling initial shock being rapidly replaced by anger. 'Getting stupider by the year, perhaps?"

Potter shivers slightly, his gaze wandering about the room. He still wears his hair James Potter style, but his body looks noticeably thinner than last year. It may just be the candlelight, but his face appears gaunt, and his eyes also seem much more intense than usual. Maybe he has just grown, but I never recall his father being this thin.

"I - but Dumbledore-"

'Dumbledore knows exactly my feelings on the matter!' I snap, standing up to ball my hands into fists on the desk. "And I want you out-"

Potter flinches slightly. "He - I would like to resume-"

"Silence!"

'-Occlumency. Professor Sir,' he adds hastily.

Is he mocking me? I take a deep breath and grind my teeth. I feel the unpleasant memories being dredged up once again. Not just my memories – but his memories also. They always seem to accompany mine now, and occasionally infuse with my own in a most disturbing manner like they did last year. Now sometimes I honestly believe a dog did chase me up a tree. Maybe one did.

So the damage has been done. I hope Dumbledore is satisfied.

I stare at the boy. Though his eyes seem glassy, they still glare at me with a deep silent malice. I match it unflinchingly with one of my own.

Did I really teach him this?

I believe not.

Ironic that the person who Potter hates the most likely understands him more than his dear Godfather ever did.

But then again, Black never knew like I do that his Godson was meant for Slytherin, never knew he was capable of casting Unforgivables.

Potter is not the only one who has been thinking a lot over the Summer.

"Maybe I can resume the lessons."

Potter's shocked look inevitably causes me some amusement. I try to halt the smirk rapidly creeping across my face. I have the upper hand here, and am not going to delay in using it.

'After all, with you turned sixteen, aren't we both responsible adults now?'

He hadn't expected that. The boy opens his mouth repeatedly like a goldfish, but unsurprisingly nothing intelligible comes out. As I move to the old lesson position and draw out my wand I can't help noting that the boy's movements remind me of a nervous House Elf's. Obviously he still hasn't practiced clearing his mind, or he wouldn't look so damned worried.

'One two three -'

I smirk as I watch his knuckles go white from gripping his wand.