A Shifting of Perspective by Athena Keating-Thomas
A/N: The flow of sentences may seem a little odd as it isn't strictly narrative. I'm writing this from Snape's perspective (and occasionally Harry's) and as such will be flavored by their thoughts on things. Hopefully it will still flow enough to enjoy. The breaks in the story aren't exclusively for plot reasons, but for traveling from Snape's to Harry's perspectives. Ergo one of the reasons for the title. ;)
Thanks again to LilyDaja for being the Beta for my story! Forgive me; I made one change and a small addition, but kept your changes and advice in mind. This will likely remain a one-shot story.
Response to HPSS Gen Fest Challenge #59: Severus catches Harry lurking around Knockturn Alley.
* * * * *
As Severus Snape emerged from the floo at the Leaky Cauldron, he could already sense the unique emanations of Diagon Alley. Following them through to the back wall behind the pub, Snape smoothly lifted his wand, tapping automatically on the bricks to let him in.
Promptly he secreted his wand back into his sleeve even as the Diagon Alley entrance began to reveal itself; he disliked allowing the general public to see where he kept his wand, and it was always safer to have his hands empty of anything threatening. Most people tended to avoid him; but a few, especially where he was going, used any excuse to begin a confrontation.
Picking his way through the crowd, Snape again muttered dire curses under his breath at those responsible for his stock running out of a few of his more vital (and more illegal) ingredients. Hence this required extra trip to procure them elsewhere. Knockturn Alley wasn't his most favored of locales, but as he needed the ingredients for a potion that Voldemort demanded he make immediately, time was something he could not afford in waiting for mail owls to deliver an order.
Fortunately, his trip to the Knockturn Apothecary went smoothly and he left the shop with a small bag settled comfortably within an inner pocket of his robes. Also fortunately, it seemed that Knockturn's more aggressive inhabitants had other things with which to occupy themselves.
Unfortunately, one of Knockturn's current inhabitants was a young man with messy dark hair and glasses; an inhabitant which looked suspiciously like one troublesome Harry Potter.
Growling to himself, Snape also noted that Potter was foolishly peering into the window of a shop. A shop that was known by the regulars of the Alley as the place that innocents were lost in, only to be found later sold in many of Knockturn's stores; usually in many different pieces. Frequently in the Apothecary which Snape had just departed.
Unsurprisingly, Snape saw that the Alley's other shoppers were studiously avoiding Potter, averting their gazes as they went about their business. And here the foolish boy was taking this as his due and thought it nothing unusual. He should know better. Hagrid had mentioned to Snape that Potter had been found in Knockturn once before, and he was hardly being left alone then.
Rather than having to deal with Albus' disappointment, Snape quickly made his way to Potter and grabbed the back of his cloak, pulling him away from the shop and off balance enough to then take a hold of his collar. Seeing no need to do away with his irritated growl, Snape put it to good use as he started to drag Potter towards Knockturn's exit. "Potter! I imagine you think you have a good reason for being here. No doubt investigating the shady dealings of Knockturn Alley so that you might put a stop to them single-handedly."
* * * * *
After his initial startled exclamation and struggle to get away, Harry identified Snape and started getting angry. "No!" he protested. "I was just trying to-"
"I would suggest you remain silent, unless it is your wish to broadcast your business to the Alley in general." His grip still firmly on the boy's collar, Snape hissed the warning in Harry's ear as he bustled him along.
Harry sputtered his anger further but otherwise fell silent and tried keeping his feet. To his surprise, he found it wasn't at all difficult despite the pace that Snape was setting as they emerged from Knockturn and set down along Diagon Alley proper. It was quite amazing really. The grip Snape had on his collar was keeping him from falling while managing to keep him from choking on the front of his own shirt. Likely the Git had lots of practice doing this in all his years of teaching, Harry thought uncharitably to himself. All he'd wanted to do was to take a minute away from the Weasleys to find some source material for next year's meetings in the Room of Requirement. Instead he found himself snagged up like a wayward kitten.
He remembered Umbridge's interrogation of Snape during class last year; he'd filed away the replies and remembered being amazed that Snape hadn't taught the woman a lesson. Instead, Snape had restrained himself and replied almost mildly (for him). At the time he thought it was out of concern for his teaching position at Hogwarts.
Even now, although he still felt hatred and anger towards Snape, he knew that more than likely Snape had restrained himself to preserve his position as a spy for Dumbledore. If Snape had been fired... well, he was certain there would be hell to pay. He'd have a lot of trouble reporting back to Dumbledore, he'd have to find some excuse to give Voldemort so he could leave... heck, if Voldemort didn't trust Snape anymore, he might even kill him. It certainly seemed as though Snape would have been in deep from what Voldemort said that night in the cemetery...
Not wanting to think about that any longer, Harry abruptly tried distracting himself with his current surroundings. Watching the shops of Diagon Alley as they passed them, it occurred to Harry to wonder where Snape was taking him. Harry opened his mouth to ask the question, but looking up at Snape's grim visage disabused him of that idea quickly. The Weasleys would be worried at his disappearance during their shopping trip, but he was sure everything would be sorted out with some effort. At the very least, if he went missing, the Weasleys would be sure to notify Professor Dumbledore.
On impulse, Harry tried something he wasn't sure would work, but it just might grant him at least a small amount of insight. Still working to keep up Snape's pace, Harry just managed to reach inside his robes and slip his wand into his hand. Making an effort to clear his thoughts, Harry succeeded only through sheer determination. He pointed his wand under his arm and behind him at Snape, whispering, "Legilmens!"
Harry was suddenly thankful for the support at his collar when the sudden rush of emotion and thought alien to his own flowed over him. Behind him, Harry heard Snape's breath catch and Harry had the sense of a sudden migraine which throbbed at his temples. Glancing surreptitiously behind him, he saw Snape lowering his free hand as though catching himself about to press his fingers at the bridge of his nose and preventing himself from doing so.
The pain slowly faded, allowing Harry to sort through the snapshot of thought and emotion he had received during the second of surprising contact. Taking advantage of Snape's continued physical guidance, Harry let his body go on autopilot while his immediate attention faded from the world around him to focus inwards...
* * * * *
There were voices familiar to him...
//"What were you thinking, Headmaster? You chide me for showing favoritism to my Slytherins, yet you have the gall to pull something like this off?"
"Now, Severus, what I did was for the best of those involved. Those children deserved a moment's happiness after so bravely defeating the challenges we set on the Stone. And Harry-"
"Yes, of course, and Harry; you were quite unfair and all for the sake of *Potter's* son. You feel he deserves happiness. Does that mean that my Slytherins do not? That all of their work and determination should be disregarded at your whim? Have you any idea what you have just done to destroy the Houses' points system? It is highly unlikely that those of my house will have any confidence in the fairness of it again. The system means nothing if at the end the standings are changed with such... such... *unfeeling* abruptness."
"Unfeeling? I hardly think that-"
"I'm being open and honest with you, Albus; you always tell me to not hide my thoughts from you. Now please shut up and listen to them for once."
" ... "
"Thank you. Now you are quite aware of the delicate balancing act required of me. The children of Slytherin must have *someone* that they can trust. Someone they feel won't disappoint them. Someone looking out for *them* for once, instead of being motivated by the desire for power or for wealth like many of their parents... for increasing the aims of someone else and using them, instead of allowing them to be what they should be - Children!
"They are not Dark Lords in development, yet they are branded as such by most simply for being sorted into Slytherin. Innocent eleven year olds are frightened when the Sorting Hat is removed from their heads, and students in other houses *hiss* at them in condemnation. Is it no wonder that they stick to themselves, slow to trust anyone that is not of their 'blood'? Hogwarts is supposed to be a haven for all of our students, not a place of disappointment and a loss of innocence and hope."
" ... I did not know you felt that way, Severus. In consideration of these things, I believe I should make some additional announcements come next school year. Hmm... what are your thoughts on beginning a new Inter-house Dueling club?"
* * * * *
Coming back to himself, Harry found himself with mixed feelings, all of which belonged to himself this time. His hatred for Snape was still present, but he found that it was somewhat faded. The revelation of Snape's protectiveness for the Slyth- ... for his House's children ... well, it was surprising; even a bit warming. He imagined the firm grip still impelling him on his path along Diagon Alley being used to encourage and comfort the youngest of the students... guiding the older ones to make their own decisions instead of mindlessly obeying their parents and joining Voldemort, all without giving his own position away.
They reached the archway to The Leaky Cauldron and were promptly admitted. Snape's grip let up only a little, becoming a heavy hand on Harry's shoulder as they entered the bar and walked to the fireplace.
Snape took down the jar of Floo powder and held it out to Harry. "Hogwarts- Professor Snape's office," he instructed. Harry glanced up at Snape and offered him a small grin, enjoying the surprised look on the older wizard's customarily harsh features. Taking a pinch of the powder, Harry murmured, "Thanks."