Second Story of The Senses Vignettes, following Touch
By Alecto Perdita
Beta'ed by Miguel-who-will-get-his-novel-published
Rating: PG
Posted: July 5, 2004
Revised: December 29, 2006
Warnings: Pre-slash, HP/SS
Email: alecto . perdita (at) gmail . com

Harry Potter is the intellectual property of J.K. Rowling, and is being used in this fanfiction for fan purposes only. All situations, opinions and characters not belonging to J.K. Rowling are the intellectual property of Alecto Perdita.

I have been told that a band of hags would be a welcomed change and a more pleasant sight to behold in comparison to me. A particularly agitated Gryffindor, one whose name and face I do not care to recall, told me this after finishing his schooling some years back. The foolish child believed that since he was no longer a student, he was free to say whatever he wished to me without any repercussions. I quickly disillusioned him to that notion. It was well worth the scolding Albus gave me afterwards.

Why must all Gryffindors plague me so?

My mirror makes a clearly derisive noise. I glare at my reflection and it sneers at me in return. I suppose I am somewhat of a horrid image to have to face first thing in the morning. But that means nothing to me. I have no one to share my bed or my life with, and it suits me just fine. I know I am unattractive. Someone with my workload could hardly afford to worry about physical appearance on top of everything else I must attend to. I have already forgone my personal research projects for a year now. Until the Dark Lord should ask of it.

I am well aware of the rumors about me that have circulated this school since I began teaching, and perhaps even in my years here as a student. I could care less what the rest of this imbecilic student population say, claiming to have intimate knowledge of my less than human heritage. I hear it all: "the greasy git," "the overgrown bat," and the rest of the less than intelligent insults they come up with. Only a brain-dead fool would not be able to see I am the most disliked teacher in all of the school. It does not bother me in the least. It is this reputation that keeps those dull-witted children from knocking on my office door every chance they get. I care only to grace my Slytherins with my precious and dwindling free time.

I frown as a sudden thought occurs to me.

For now, I must to honor you with my non-existent free time as well.

I scowl and leave the bathroom. My teaching robes are already laid out at the foot of my bed. Both you and I were quite adamant that Albus be the one to continue your Occlumency lessons after the disaster of your fifth year. We couldn't have possibly continued as we were. I am still disturbed by the memories I extracted and enraged by your invasion of my privacy. Albus would not have it though. The meddling old coot would continue to force us to "play nice" for Morgan knows how long.

I snarl. Once again, my thoughts have come full circle and back to you. Harry-bloody-Potter, our sodding savior-to-be of the world. How blind can the rest of this foolish world be to expect you to single-handedly save us from the dubious mercies of the Dark Lord? I have worked with you, and have acquired the intimate knowledge that you are less than adequate and less than prepared. The Dark Lord would break you far quicker than I ever could.

Morgan knows I've tried to.

Then again, you are not so naive as to be blind to those inadequacies. I will never tell you this, but I was surprised by the unexpected insights you expressed the previous night. You just have to do everything differently, don't you? I hate the ever-growing knowledge that you are more unlike your father with every passing day. Lily lives quite strongly in you. I really must persuade Albus to discontinue these lessons. I cannot continue learning these...facts...about you. I'd much rather cling to those cruel delusions I previously held. These images of you as an abandoned child, unloved and so much like myself... I can do without them. They will only continue to disrupt my "understanding" of and interactions with you.

I glance at the grandfather clock in the corner of my bedroom. It reads, "Time to endure another meal with that dubious lot that is my colleagues." I suppress a snort. Albus does have a most twisted sense of humor. The man tries too hard to humor me at times.

The dungeons are quiet at this time of the day. My Slytherins are quiet creatures, a nature enforced by both personal characteristic and fear of disturbing my peace. Soon after breakfast, these hallways will no longer just be ours. They will be overrun with the other creatures that fail to respect our cunning nature: the lions that roar with nothing but reckless courage, the ravens that hoard their knowledge like the carrion of those who gave us these learnings, and the badgers that work laboriously for simply the mediocre with no great merit to show for their efforts in the end. The time between the end and beginning of classes is the only time that these walls will belong only to us, the serpents that labor in the darkness.

As I climb the stair leading out of the dungeon, I meet with two Fifth Year Ravenclaws, the first of at least a dozen that would attempt to corner me about the Potions O.W.L.s before the week is over. I usually dissuade their kind by Tuesday afternoon, but the routine begins anew at the beginning of every school week, like on this wretched Monday. I deduct five points each for wandering the hallways when they should have been in the Great Hall. They quickly leave me with some not-so-furtive glances backwards.

Before I reached the Great Hall, I apprehended a pair of Second Year Gryffindors attempting to enter the kitchens. I am familiar with this pair. They aspire to be like the Weasley twins; inspired by the spectacular exit those two trouble-makers graced us with last year. I also confiscated a vial of suspicious potion from one of them, who claimed it was a headache cure. Do they seriously think me to be that much of a fool? I am a Potions Master. I suspect the potion is designed for purpose of changing our hair into some ridiculous shades of Gryffindor colors or some other rather overdone prank. I never claimed the two were either clever or creative.

I sweep into the Great Hall from the staff entrance by the Head Table. Albus graces me with that ridiculous grin of his. It is a somewhat disconcerting sight to behold. Minerva acknowledges my presence with the slightest nod of her head. There are times when it is hard to imagine the woman as one of Godric's own, but there are times, like when she defends Potter so fiercely at discussion or staff meetings, that it is not so hard.

I seat myself at my place to Albus' left. Immediately, the first course of the day's first meal appears before me. The plate of eggs, ham, and tomato is less than appetizing to me at the moment. The English always did make a bloody affair out of breakfast. I find that I rarely have the appetite this early in the morning to even finish the first course. I opt for my cup of tea instead and began to watch the children at their tables.

It is no surprise to see the Ravenclaws carefully brushing the crumbs off their treasured books. The Hufflepuffs are, perhaps, the most dull out of all the Houses. They converse at an acceptable level with little disturbances interrupting their meals. My Slytherins are as they always are. They joke, sneer, and throw the occasional minor curse at the Gryffindor table next to them, which I dutifully ignore. The Gryffindors are loud and boisterous even at this time of the day.

I find my eyes wandering up and down their ranks to finally rest on you and your entourage. You are watching Weasley and Granger bicker with an expression of amusement tainted with the bare hints of jealously. Finnegan shouts something, most likely less than appropriate, and both Weasley and Granger turn as red as the famous Weasley hair. You simply laugh, but that jealous taint only appears to deepen. It's easy to see how envious you are of their relationship. I have seen the fear you try so desperately to hide and it lingers in you despite everything you try to dissuade it otherwise.

You are so fearful of being alone, being left behind by your friends. Alas, it will be a sad and inevitable reality for you. As much as they try to stand by you, they will leave you eventually. Your position in our world will scar and mar you as you never thought possible. They will move on. You will never be able to do so. You will linger and stagnate. If you are to save the rest of us, you will do so at the price of your own being.

What is that Muggle saying? It's lonely at the top, Potter. They worship and love you, but will also turn on you with the slightest provocation. You are forever doomed to be scrutinized by the public eye. Your glory is that blinding. You are much like myself in that sense. We will both never be able to escape the scrutiny of the media. You, the pristine boy hero, and me, the nasty old ex-Death Eater.

I have been staring at you for almost a full minute now. I am not entirely aware of that fact myself until your gaze meets mine. You match my stare for every second. I can see all the emotions flicker through those eyes- Lily's eyes. Habitual hatred and conditioned annoyance are only some what I see now. You are far too open like your mother in that manner. She died as a result, cursed by her emerald eyes. I must say I will not be surprised at all if you should meet with the same fate. As much as it disgusts me, I will try to keep you from such an end.

Your father's actions bind me to your continual survival. Albus, as well-meaning as any man can be in his position, insists upon your safety- our precious weapon-in-reserve. I smirk and an ill expression flies across your features. You try so hard and so unsuccessfully to hide those emotions. Like you yourself said, you are a sorely dull knife, Potter. I have seen you at your weakest and most vulnerable. I have seen you beg and cry. You will never truly realise what sort of ammunition you have provided me with. If I so choose to, I may turn back to the Dark Lord at any moment's notice, and figuratively and maybe literally hand your head to Him on a silver platter.

But I won't.

If only you knew, Potter, how truly dangerous it is for me to be in this castle with you. At any moment, the Dark Lord may demand your head from me, no matter the consequence. Our lessons give us ample time to be alone. I can take you to Him so easily. It would secure my position at His side.

Once again, I will not do so if that time ever comes. I pray to Morgan that time will never demand such a task of me.

Why? Why would I care?

I am bound by your father's deed, your mother's promise, Albus' trust, and my own past sins. The Dark Lord's favour is whimsical at best. I would be a fool to think I could gain it for the long term. Most of all, you yourself have bound me to this servitude.

With those small desperate pleas where you swallow your pride to ask for my help. With that unquenchable thirst for any knowledge of Lily, like that which I witnessed last night. With those little actions that are far more reminiscent of Lily than your father. With those few times when you are less than Harry Potter the Boy Who Lived and simply a confused child on the brink of manhood that neither needs nor wants any name for himself.

I break off my gaze and return my bored expression to my Slytherins. You do not look away so quickly, but when you do, I feel it is in a resigned fashion. I grind my teeth, angered by the surprising lessening of hostility in this recent exchange. You just have to go and change the rules of the game again. I cannot allow you to continue changing the rules that govern our interactions. I can only dread our next encounter in the classroom.

Morgan's Curse!

It's Monday.

I will have to endure the sight of you in my first class of the week, in the Sixth Year N.E.W.T. class you have no right to participate in and would not have- had it not been for Albus' grace and Minerva's persistent nagging. I feel my scowl deepen.

"I am happy with the progress you made last night with Harry, Severus."

I look toward Albus. The surprise is there but well hidden under my mask. To this day, I still have no idea how Albus knows what he does.

"Progress, Headmaster?" I try not to sneer at the old man.

Albus just smiles serenely and bites into a muffin. "Yes, progress, my boy." He brushes the crumbs out of his beard with his thrice damned twinkling eyes still sparkling at me.

I stand and make my way to the door I came through only minutes ago. I clench my hands hidden in the sleeves of my robes. I have lost my meager appetite between the sight of your expressive green eyes and Albus' deceptively omniscient ones. Even as I slam the door behind my exit with perhaps more force than necessary, I can still feel both your eyes on my back.

How I will loathe those eyes when you sit in my classroom in just an hour.

I just wrote this and got it beta'ed today by my wonderful friend, Miguel. I really do appreciate everything you do for me. Hopefully, the idea of this coupling won't squick you too much so I can continued to get you to beta when this is no longer pre-slash. Also thanks to writers like Darkangel Rose, Meri, stellahobbit, others on the snapepotter community of LJ for sharing their awesome writing so I finally got off my ass to finish and post this.

Thank you to everyone who review Touch: Mimiheart, Every Now and Then, diabolicslugs, toamanda, EtherealShadow, Daylyn, Thirteen Ravens, rabidfrog, stellahobbit, and ptyx.

Thanks ahead of time for all reviews!