Disclaimer: I do not now, nor ever will, own Harry Potter, its characters, or its ideas. If I did, then I would have much to say about the direction Harry and Severus's relationship is to take. Alas ::sighs dramatically::, that happy power belongs to J.K. Rowling and not me.


A/N: This story has no relation whatsoever to my other story When Paths Cross, or my series In A Heartbeat. It is, however, NON-SLASH, like the other two, and assuredly AU. There will be no mention of Sirius Black, and other characters like Professor Minerva McGonagall and Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, have a very small part to play. Hermione, Ron, and Ginny have a somewhat bigger part to play, but this will mainly focus on Harry and Severus. I hope you enjoy it!



.:When the World Stands Still:.

By Sentimental Star

Chapter I: All Fades to Black

(Dungeon Corridor, Just After Easter Break)

"Something is going to happen. I'm just not sure I want to know what that something is," Hermione Granger advised her two best friends darkly as they headed to Gryffindor Tower from Double Potions in the dungeons, their last class of the day. "They all sense it."

By "they" she meant the teachers at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. For the better part of the week, all the Professors, including Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, had drifted about as if shadows, worry lines creasing their faces.

"And as if that weren't enough," Ronald Weasley added, "Snape's acting as balmy as Dumbledore!"

Which was true. Where he enjoyed spiting Gryffindors in his classes, Hufflepuffs, even Ravenclaws, he, for the past couple of days, had completely ignored his students. Even those in his own House! Just today, in fact, he had made no movement, spoken not a word where he sat at his desk, as his N.E.W.T. level classes piled into the dungeons. His obsidian eyes did not register the teenagers as they entered, not one. Except Harry Potter.

When the famed 'Boy-Who-Lived' entered, his dark orbs had abruptly seared with a startling alertness, tracking the sixteen-year-old until he sat in his seat. He barely managed to tear them away from the boy, just enough to instruct the class in what they were to do. Then he went back to brooding.

"Snape?" Hermione responded. "Ron, all of the teachers have been acting strange!"

The red-haired boy scowled slightly. "I know that, 'Mione. But Snape and Dumbledore, even more so. What I want to know is why Snape kept looking at you as if he expected He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to jump out and attack you, mate."

Harry, who up until this point had said nothing, now raised his head and gave a weak smile. "If you wouldn't mind, guys, I'd rather not think about it."

Much of this landed on his shoulders---actually, the entire Fate of the wizarding world depended on that. And the Prophecy. One which stated that he was to be either the Victor . . . or the Victim. He had told his friends this at the end of the summer when he was at last allowed to return to the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix a week before school at Hogwarts started. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore's underground resistance, as it were.

All of the Order members knew of the Prophecy, including Snape. And now all the Weasleys and Hermione as well, even Percy, who had apologized to his parents sometime at the beginning of the summer.

"Sure, mate." Ron's voice drew Harry back to the moment as his best friend shrugged easily. "Too dark for my tastes, anyway."

The other teenager, in spite of himself, felt a small grin tugging at his lips. Ron would never change.

The grin only widened as he received Hermione's rather distracted reply, "Of course, Harry." Just by looking at her, the two boys could tell she was not satisfied with letting it drop. Once she was interested in something, she kept at it until it was answered to her satisfaction. Even if she claimed she would much rather not know.

None of the three noticed Severus Snape, Head of Slytherin, silently watching their journey from the entrance of his classroom, his usually severe face suffused with worry. His obsidian eyes rested on one of them in particular---the one in the center of the trio with a lightning bolt-shaped scar.


A/N: I know, I know, it's a bit short, shorter than any chapter I've written, but I thought it best to break up the story this way (it would be over twenty pages otherwise!). All the other chapters will vary in length from short (though, probably not this short) to much longer. I'm posting the chapters altogether, so I won't be writing any more Author's Notes unless I have something I want to say about the chapter. Please R&R!