Taste
Fourth Story of The Senses Vignettes, following Smell
By Alecto Perdita
Beta'ed as always by Miguel
Rating: PG-13
Posted: July 21, 2004
Revised: December 29, 2006
Warnings: Pre-slash, HP/SS, meaning possible homosexual relations
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.


Harry Potter's last glorious year at Hogwarts.

Your last year here with us.

It's bound to end in a spectacular explosion of one sort or another. You are Harry Potter. It would be against natural laws if events should go otherwise. You are leaving school and completing your most prestigious education. The Dark Lord continues to move swiftly with determination and without sign of slowing. You and Him are bound to meet on the battlefield for one last duel to be revered in history. So the Prophet would claim.

No matter how the Prophet (little more than a tabloid tampered with by too many parties to count, in my opinion) may speculate about future occurrences, I feel you should not have to face my former master- yet. Little has been done to remedy the inadequacies and gaps in your education. There is not way for you to battle both an army of rather determined Death Eaters and a dark lord.

You would be slaughtered most efficiently if I may say so.

The highest ranking members of the Order of Phoenix appear to be operating under the assumption that you will defeat the Dark Lord. There is the Prophecy (absolute rubbish coming from that bint Trelawney). Albus reassures me that it is of merit, value, and truth. At the very least, I know what the Dark Lord wanted from the Department of Mysteries your fifth year.

Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.

I fear you will be the one on the receiving end of a killing curse should you face my former master.

"Severus, my boy?"

I blink and look over at Albus. How characteristic of me to brood about death over supper.

"Are you alright?" He looks at me with those damn iridescent blue eyes.

"I am fine, Headmaster."

I turn my attention back to my plate. The House Elves work far harder on the Welcoming Feast than on any other occasion. First impressions are always the most enduring. It would not do to leave less than an awe-inspiring impression. They made meals fit for kings, queens, and apparently teenagers as well.

I am not thin without reason. My workload divided between my dunderhead students, the Dark Lord, and the Order of the Phoenix allots me little time to indulge in regular meals. Not that I have ever had the stomach for large meals. The meals the House Elves serve here are far too heavy for my palate. It amazes me how teenagers can seemingly consume so much food with gusto and then still have room for more.

Had I been like that in my youth? I find it too disconcerting nowadays to even think back to those days.

The House Elves do not serve seafood as frequently as I would like. Seafood is far more refreshing and cleaner for my taste. I continue to gaze at my still blank plate. I should eat. Instead I reach for my goblet of water. Just water. Pumpkin juice is far too sweet for my taste. I am surprised when I taste read wine instead.

I stop abruptly and look over at Albus again. The infuriating older man is watching the students but shows no sign of being responsible for my change in beverages. Albus does not tolerate his staff ingesting alcohol in the presence of students. Experience has taught us all otherwise.

Someone must have convinced a House Elf to switch it in his stead.

I automatically look back toward you. Malfoy's former House Elf worships the ground you tread upon. You know of my penchant for liquor. It is one of the few luxuries I allow myself.

You look up, feeling my eyes on you I would like to think, and meet my gaze with something similar to a smile. You are forcing it for whatever imbecilic reason you have embedded in my head. We have had no correspondence over this summer's hols. I had simply left you to practise Occlumency and fend for yourself. You should resent me for abandoning you in the very least.

You rise your glass to me and that parody of a grin widens, becoming the slightest bit more genuine. Without any so much of another indication, you turn back to your meal.

Very well, Potter. I shall accept this token of your esteem. No doubt, you will make your reasons clear later. You always feel the need to.

To my continued surprise, my plate is no longer empty when I look down. A rather delicious dish of shrimp scampi over curried rice lies before me.

I attempt to glare in your direction again. You quirk your head to the side as if to ask, "Do you like?" What are you attempting to accomplish? What do you think you are doing? That is if you care to even think in the first place. You know I despise these games. I have no inclination to "play" with you, Potter.

You wave your fork. "Eat" is the meaning you are trying to convey.

I do. After all, it would be a waste not to. It is my favorite dish. How did you know? It tastes delicious.

The evening comes to an end more quickly than I expect, not that I do not appreciate the quick passage of time. The students spill out of the Great Hall and into the corridors. For the first time in all my years of teaching, I feel compelled to exit through the two main doors. The First Years appear lost and awe-struck under the guidance of the older year prefects. Granger and Weasley are gathering some of the newly-dubbed Gryffindor. Not an intelligent looking one in the whole lot. You are nowhere in sight. You have most likely returned to your rooms with your mates. I quickly pass by Draco lording over my new Slytherins.

I stop by my office before I go to address the new additions to my House as I do every year. I whisper the password- Emerald- below my breath and the door swings open. I stop. A strange sensation washes over me. I can feel the intent of eyes watching. After a quick glance around, I do not see anyone. I truly have become paranoid in my current occupation as a spy.

My office is dark. I do not bother to summon light. I will be out in a matter of seconds. I pocket my reply to Lucius' earlier letter. I will have to owl it after I have finished with introductions and all those other pleasantries.

Lucius' letter is disconcerting to me. The Dark Lord wishes to initiate Draco and others in his year into the fold this October- Halloween to be exact. Such an event usually takes place at the end of a school year. To move up such an event is just another indication that my former master is mustering all possible force for one final assault.

On Hogwarts.

On you.

I lock and re-ward the door behind my exit. The Slytherin Common Room is just a short walk down the hallway for me. I prefer to have my office close by my students. I believe the proximity allows them to feel as if they can confide in me if need be.

"Lineage."

The blank stone wall slides to a side.

"Professor?" Pansy Parkinson greets me solemnly. "Draco has all the new First Years together. The other Years have gone to their rooms."

I nod and step into the Common Room. The room is warmer than expected for one situated in the dungeons. Draco bows slightly to me as I approach. It pains me to say it, but I have no idea how to deal with Lucius' son anymore. The boy has given little indication that he may break away from his father's teachings. I will not be able to save him. He will almost invariably follow in his father's path.

I turn my attention to the new Slytherins. Most of them appeared properly and politely bored. I know they are hiding whatever insecurities behind that mask. Sixteen years of teaching children has given me an understanding of their habits and temperaments far better than any comprehension I believed myself to possess in my youth.

There are only sixteen of them this year. During the Sorting Ceremony, I noticed larger numbers were delegated to all other three houses. Contrary to popular belief, the Slytherin House has a number of muggleborn children. However, that is not the case this year. Any muggleborn child that may have been sorted into my House has been assigned to a second choice among the other three. It goes far beyond the integrity of their rightful placement. Muggleborn children cannot possibly survive in my House in the political and social climates of today.

These children, these pureblood children, regard me with some familiarity. Most, if not all, know of me from their parents and siblings. In the next seven years, they will know me as their teacher, a confidant, a surrogate father, and if the misfortune should behold us all, a comrade under the command of the Dark Lord. The latter thought weighs heavily on my shoulder as my mind drifts back to the letter hidden in the fold of my robes. It leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth to even think about it.

My speech is terse and concise. Though I may favor my own House over others, I have little desire to spend the entirety of my night with these children. Emphasis is placed on the rules of the House and the curfew that I strictly enforce. They listen without as much as a peep. Good, they're a quiet group this year.

I leave them to the care of the prefects. I need not worry about the prefects bullying the new First Years. They know better, lest they incur my wrath as a result. As Slytherins, we are all one family. We have enough strife with the other Houses for there to be more within our ranks.

The walk up to the Owlery is a long and silent one. The children are too busy catching up with their friends as to the happenings of their hols and the First Years do not know nearly enough of the castle to break curfew and explore. Not everyone is as audacious as you.

I send my letter to Lucius off by way of one of the brown school owls. I can only agree with the Dark Lord's intent. I will not be able to dissuade Draco, Vincent, Gregory, and the others Slytherins of your year to choose the path of Light. There is no future for any of us. I have always known defeat to taste this bitter but have never quite acquired the taste for it.

"Sir?"

I turn around to find you.

"What are you doing wandering the corridors, Mister Potter? Ten points from Gryffindor."

You bite your bottom lip, as if to keep from protesting. Let us see how long before your impertinent tongue speaks without restraint.

"What are you waiting for? Return to your room."

You shake your head. "Sir, it's not past curfew yet."

I glare. "How did you find me?"

You smile that little smile of yours. You draw a fold of parchment out from under your cloak. I recognise it to be the parchment that insulted me in your Third Year. "Take it if you like, sir. I doubt you'll be able to get it to work though. I just wanted to talk to you and thank you, Professor."

"Thank me, Potter? I believe you are overdue for a visit to Madame Pomfrey. You are thanking me? Your nasty git of a Potions teacher and the man you blame for your godfather's death?" I sneer as you wince.

"No argument there," you mutter. "About the first thing. Not the second though. I don't blame you for Sirius' death."

I snort.

You frown up at me and lean back against the wall next to the door. "Okay, but not completely at least."

"And what could you possibly be offering your gratitude for?"

"For teaching me Occlumency, for helping to make me less vulnerable towards Voldemort," you ignore my snarl at the mention of my former master's name. "For not treating me like a hero, for saving my life. A number of things, I guess. I just thought it was about time I did that."

"Is that the reason for your spectacle in the Great Hall today?"

"Yes, I had Dobby arrange it for me. And it wasn't a spectacle. I was quiet about it. Did you like it?"

"It was passable."

Your smile widens just a bit. I do not know why that grin of yours is so disconcerting. You never smile at me. Now that I think about it, I do not believe I have ever seen you truly smile at anyone or anything in that way there is a hint of soft light in your eyes. "I'm glad. I had a lot of time to think about things this summer. Voldemort isn't going to wait much longer. He's coming for me, isn't he? I won't live to see the end of this school year."

You are still smiling. Albeit sadly, but nonetheless still smiling.

"Perhaps even as early as this Christmas. You are right. The Dark Lord has been carefully planning for your demise."

You shiver and move to my side by the window. You reach out to a white owl, your owl, and it nips your finger. I stare at you and you stare at it. "Do I really have that little time left?" you don't wait for me to answer. "Strange, I should be afraid but I'm not. I'm almost glad it's finally ending. The nightmares and the whole Boy Who Lived rubbish. I think I'd rather be the Boy That Failed instead."

My mouth dries as you speak. I will never call you an optimist. No, you have seen too much in this life to ever be one. You're far more of a realist, but listening to you now, you sound even too pessimistic to my ear. Your words anger me most of all. Everyone has placed their hope and faith in you- and I cannot see for the life of me why at this moment- and you are ready to surrender without ever trying.

You selfish little sod.

You selfish inconsiderate self-centered little brat.

"I suggest you throw yourself from this tower now and spare us the task of mourning over your useless existence later." I really feel as bitter as I sound.

Your head shoots up and glares at me. I know you wouldn't be able to resist that habit for long. Nothing is ever simple between us. I do believe that that each of us makes it so. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me, Potter. I would rather you die now and show the world what a pathetic excuse of a wizard you truly are. The rest of the world is waiting for you to save it and you are giving up before you even start. You have just wasted all of our time for the last seven years."

"Is that all I am? A tool to defeat Voldemort." Those eyes narrow with familiar suspicion.

I laugh. You are such a foolish boy at times. I could say you suffer from delusions of grandeur or persecution, but that would be untrue. It is not you who suffers those ailments, but our world. Everyone sees you as either the hero or the figure-head of the enemy. Except for me. You would do best to remember that in the future- that is if you ever reach that epiphany.

"No need to attempt to act the fool, Potter, you do the real one well enough. You know exactly what you are in this war. Do not prove me wrong on my assessment of your lack of naivety now."

"You're such a bastard."

"Your observational skills are as sharp as ever."

"I hate you."

"Could you possibly be anymore childish?"

"Dammit! I was trying to be nice. Why do you have to make everything so bloody difficult?!"

"I am not ready to see you die just yet, Potter!"

Everything falls silent then. You look up at me with those emerald eyes. Both of our chests are heaving with heavy breaths. We are far too easily incensed in each other's presence. How did we ever make it through two years of Occlumency lessons, much less seven years of Potions?

"What did you say, sir?" your words are too quiet for my liking. I can tell you have some ridiculous notions working its way through your head.

"You heard me perfectly clear. Do not make me repeat it."

"No, I didn't." your eyes are defiant now.

"Very well," I bend over slightly. You will always be short. You will never be as tall as your father. "I have invested far too much of my time and energy to keep you from getting yourself killed whether it be by fault of your own stupidity or a vengeful dark wizard to allow you to become suicidal now."

You blink as the words sink in. I wait for the comprehension to shine through in your eyes.

"Why?"

"I would never waste my time on something I deem to be completely useless and devoid of merit."

You can take whatever meaning out of that statement as you will. I will not let a seven year effort on all of our part go to waste just yet. I fold my arms across my chest and wait for your next move. I truly despise this game we are forced to play each time we are in each other's presence. It has always been a constant power struggle between the two of us.

"Thank you."

How can two simple words from you appear to be so possessing of meaning? Maybe it is because of the fact that I rarely hear sincere gratitude from anyone other than Albus and Minerva.

I am still hovering over your form. You blink and continue to stare up at me. Neither of us moves. If one of us should move, we would have to resume our routine of norm. I cannot remember when I ceased to want to fight and torment you at every turn. It could not have possibly been too long ago.

"Snape."

This is what it comes down to. I am stripped of my titles and position, like you. I am only Snape when I am with you. Just as you are simply Potter in my presence. Just as I never saw you as anything more than a lost boy, you have never seen me as anything other than an embittered old man. The situation has always been that simple when we are together.

You reach over to touch my face. When did our relationship begin to change into something more? More than just bitter enemies or student and teacher. Your hands are cold. I am reminded of the hands of those on the brink of death. Would it be of any meaning to you if I tell you that I would know the feel of the hand of a dying man? Your hands are calloused from Quidditch and the housework you perform under the watchful eyes of your uncle and aunt. What a scandal it would be if the world discovered the near abusive conditions you lived under all your life.

"Let go, Potter."

"No."

Your hand rearranges the grip on my cheek to my chin. I can feel the bare hints of nails digging into my skin. There is much strength in your beguilingly thin arms. You lean forward, pulling my face down to yours.

What the bloody hell do you think you are doing?

"Potter-"

"Just shatup for once."

Our breaths mingle in the crevice between our lips. Your eyebrows are screwed and your face is drawn into an expression of intense concentration. I have never been this close to you. I can see the minuscule mole just under your left eye. Who else knows of its existence? You move ever closer.

My hand reaches up automatically and closes around your throat. You freeze and finally stop. My grip tightens and your hand on my chin answers in kind.

"Kindly desist, Potter. Or I cannot be held accountable for my actions."

You brush your tongue across your lips and shiver in response.

"Fifty points from Gryffindor for assaulting a professor."

You glare at me with those bright green eyes. The insistent hatred you harbored in the emerald of your eyes are now gone. Perhaps it has been fading all this time, but I simply didn't care to or want to take note of? There is an emotion I cannot name swimming in those viridian depths.

I push you back and your hand falls away from my face. I have not released your neck just yet. You stare up at me, stripped of everything but your clothing. I can feel your breath- your life- rushing up your throat in swallow gasps. I let go abruptly. I have held on far too tightly and for far too long. I have left my mark.

Touch me again not, Potter.

"You best leave before you lose your House more points, Potter."

You blink. I believe you expected to elicit some more passionate response from me. I will not give you that satisfaction. I will not allow you to see just how you have thrown my world off its axis. I cannot afford to encourage those ridiculous notions in your head. I cannot.

You look pass me. "Bye, Hedwig."

You turn and walk away without another glance back. Your damned owl hoots and clucks at me. I glare at it and then at the door you have just retreated through. The infuriating owl almost appears to smirk at my situation. It hops off to the feed without as much as another acknowledge. Even your damn bird irks me.

I had expected a more passionate response on your part as well. Why do we always overestimate each other so? You are a determined lad if nothing else. Your father's stubborn temperament- no, bullheadedness- is the one quality that you inherited in plentiful amounts.

I imagine that if I had allowed you to continue, you would have tasted of abandon. I will not encourage you in your perversions however. No matter how much that small part of me wants it.


One more sense to go...

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