Disclaimer: I don't own anything except the plot (or lack thereof!) and errors :D
Summary: Harry has to go back to Occlumency Lessons with Snape. Is it truly a waste of time? How will this change the relationship between Teacher and Student?
Authors pre note! Yay! Hi everyone! This is one of several fics I'm currently working on. This one is flowing better though, so it will probably be finished first. Just a warning, this is a Snape centric fic, and will show quite a bit of his school days. (No, they do NOT go back in time! It's just flashbacks!) No slash planned, but I don't know how it will flesh out as I go along. Literally anything can happen :D And as always, if you like, don't like or have suggestions, please review!
"Harry, I need you to take up Occlumency again." Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, looked unusually stern. His no nonsense tone startled the dark haired youth sitting before him, but the teen simply looked down at his toes. "No quitting Harry. It's important."
The orphan boy looked upset as he brought his gaze back to the aging wizards. "Can I at least have a different instructor?" As the old man began to shake his head, upset became full blown anger. "Why not? Snape hates me! I think he enjoys watching me fail!"
With a troubled sigh, a hand went up, silencing the boy's pleas. "I'm sorry Harry, but the bottom line is that Professor", and he stressed the word, "Snape is the best instructor you can get on the matter." He paused a moment, watching the lad mull that information over in his mind. When it became apparent that it had not swayed his anger, he continued. "You are letting your dislike for him cloud your judgment." His gaze held more meaning, and Harry picked up on it.
"So if you know I don't trust him, why do you make me work with him? Classes I can deal with, but this of all things..! He's a Death Eater! He could be sabotaging my efforts-"
Dumbledore cut him off, "Harry, Severus is a member of the Order."
"As a spy!" he countered. "How do you know he's not working both sides of the fence to his benefit!"
'Working for the Order is for his benefit; and ours.' He thought to himself as he watched the boy begin to pace before his desk. A thin, bony hand reached up to rub the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Harry, I trust Severus with my life. He has more than proved himself loyal to the Order." He shook his head again, deciding not to argue the point. "Please Harry. It's very important that you learn Occlumency, and Severus has agreed to try again. Now I'm asking you to be mature enough to set your misgivings aside and do the same."
Harry felt a little dejected, and it showed on his face. "Fine," he said simply, if a bit aggressively. The Headmaster's tone had stopped further arguing. He had never seen the old wizard look so.. tired, and perhaps a bit put off. It has startled him at first, but his anger had quickly clouded his thoughts. More lessons with Snape during his free time? It was enough to ruin anyone's week!
Many looked up to Harry Potter. He was a hero. Right now, however, he looked anything but. Right now, he was slumped in his favorite chair before the fire in the Gryffindor common room. Though he knew someone was talking to him, he made no attempt to even appear to be listening as he stared into the fire. Truth is, even if he had tried, she would have seen right through it anyway. She always did.
"Are you even listening Harry?" She placed her hands on her hips, waiting for him to respond.
Harry glanced up at her. "Sorry Hermione. My mind was…" He trailed off and shrugged.
Hermione Granger, his bushy haired, know-it-all friend had been trying to explain what he had missed in Defense Against the Dark Arts when he had been called off to speak with the Headmaster. The newest teacher to fill the cursed class was somewhat odd, and Hermione had thought it best to catch him up before he did what the rest of the class had blatantly done, stare.
Figuring that going through it a third time would be just as useless as the first two times, she sighed softly and sunk into a seat on the small couch across from him. In the seat beside her, Ronald Weasley, the red headed third member of the so-called 'Troublesome Trio' frowned and watched his friend worriedly. "You alright Mate? Something on your mind?"
Hermione leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner, just as Ron did. She wanted to know what was wrong as well.
"I have to take Occlumency lessons again." He'd looked back to the flames, as if they held some kind of answer for him.
"With Snape?" Ron asked petulantly.
"Yeah. Can't get out of it, and apparently, he's the only one that can teach me." He smirked, finally looking to his friends. Ron shook his head, but Hermione got that look on her face that said she wanted to say something, but was holding back.
"What?" He asked testily.
"Nothing." She sat back once again and crossed her arms over her chest, intent on not saying. When the pair kept staring at her, it became apparent they weren't going to let it go. Finally, she gave in. "It's just.. You should have kept with it the first time. You knew it was important, but you got frustrated and dropped it. Then look what hap-" She cut off abruptly, and shook her head.
"'And then look what happened'?" Harry filled in for her, his temper flaring. All the sudden, they were all on their feet, Harry and Hermione facing off, and Ron trying to keep them civil. "Are you saying it was all my fault?"
"No-" she started, but he wouldn't let her finish.
"What was I supposed to do? Not care!" He glared at her, and she glared back. The shouting had gained the attention of everyone in the common room, causing all conversations to be silenced as everyone turned to see what was going on.
"Well? What do you mean then!"
"Never mind! You won't listen to anything I say when you're like this anyway!" Without another word, or awaiting a response, she turned and made her way up the steps to the girls' dorm.
Harry turned to Ron, "Do you agree with her?"
Ron wanted to say that he should have tried harder with Occlumency before, but in effort not to take sides, he stayed silent.
Harry took his silence as a sort of rejection. "Fine." He said irritably as he grabbed his school robe and stalked toward the portrait hole. "I have to go. Lessons tonight." He spat the word with such animosity that Ron cringed.
Once Harry was gone, he sighed and headed up the stairs, intent on getting away from the stares of his fellow Gryffindors. Once he was out of sight, gazes started wandering around the room, looking to each other with silent questions. The only answers they had for each other were worried shrugs.
As Harry trudged down the stairs he pulled his robe on. In his mind, he envisioned himself telling Snape how it was going to be, and how the git might respond. The vision didn't go so well. As much as he wanted too, he simply couldn't see Snape react with anything but more hatred and animosity. That didn't help to assuage his anger, though he tried, unsuccessfully to set it aside.
He reached the dungeons, but for once didn't even notice the cold. Without knocking, he pulled the door to Snape's office open and stepped in.
"Close the door." He did so, with more force than he probably should have. Snape looked up from his desk, setting his quill aside. He held Harry's gaze for a moment, and his eyes narrowed.
"Now, now, the two of you need to start off on a better foot than that." Harry turned away from the dark gaze. He hadn't noticed the Headmaster when he came in, and briefly wondered if he had been there the whole time. Well.. he had to have been, right?
"Sorry." He said softly, once again looking down to his feet like a chastised child.
The headmaster smiled, and motioned to the chair next to him. "Have a seat Harry." He hesitated a moment, glancing to Snape. The younger professor was watching him, but looked more detached then he had a moment before. Slowly, he settled into the chair, looking between the two as Dumbledore began to speak again. "That's better." He smiled with a cheeriness the two younger men couldn't even fathom at the moment. "Now then. I know neither of you are very pleased with this arrangement." He looked back to the boy. "Severus has informed me that he won't be able to teach you anything until you learn to trust him. I agree."
Harry opened his mouth to say something, but once again, the old man raised a hand to silence him. "I know that you do not feel that you can. However, the point remains the same. You must. Therefore, for the next week or two, or however long it takes, you will meet after dinner." He waved his hand blithely. "Wherever you wish. I leave that to you. When you meet, you will not only practice Occlumency, but you will converse."
"Converse?" Well, Harry didn't feel bad, Snape apparently hadn't quite caught that either.
"Yes. You will discuss whatever you like. Talk to each other, and find some common ground."
Harry looked to the Slytherin behind the desk. 'Common Ground? With Snape?' "Er.. Professor Dumbledore, I don't think we have anything in common.."
Dumbledore laughed softly. "Certainly you do. Take the obvious, you both attended school here at Hogwarts." He nodded at his own words. "Take that, and work off of it. I want the two of you to think of each other as; well, I won't say friends exactly. As allies; companions. You're on the same side, whether you believe it or not." He directed the last bit to Harry directly. Nodding to himself once again, the wise wizard stood and stepped toward the door. "Tonight, just talk. Get to know each other." Before either of them could protest he was gone.
Harry looked back to his 'companion', who just stared back silently. At least he wasn't glowering at him like he did in class, or sneering like just about every other time Harry could think of. "Eh.." He knew he had to make the attempt. "So.." He just didn't really know how.
"If you have a question Potter, spit it out."
Question! That was a good idea. Snape gave him the opening, so he decided the best thing to do was just go for it. But what question? Oh, well, Dumbledore had given them a starting ground. He thought about it for a moment. Common ground? Well, everyone at Hogwarts seemed to remember their first day. For most of the students, it seemed to be one of the most memorable days. As good a place to start as any he supposed. "What was your first day at Hogwarts like? The train, and seeing the school for the first time?"
The dark haired professor sat back in his chair and took a deep breath, mulling the question over. Albus was really calling in the favors for this one. It seemed a rather; harmless question he supposed. Closing his eyes, he thought back to his first day. It had been quite some time since he had thought about those days. Usually he tried to forget. Slowly, he began. "Before I tell you anything, you have to agree that anything said here will remain between you and me. You will respect my privacy, and I will respect yours." At Harry's nod, he continued. "I arrived a bit late for the train. Not late enough to miss it, but enough that I had to search for a compartment."
As he pulled his trunk down the isle, he glanced into each compartment as he passed. Every one of them appeared to be full. Friends were enjoying the company of friends, old and new. Dejectedly, he trudged along, trying to find one that wasn't so lively, since it was apparent he wasn't going to find an empty one.
As he looked into another compartment, he felt someone plow into him. He lost his balance and fell back onto his trunk, causing the cage containing his owl to jostle a bit. The snowy owl screeched unhappily and ruffled it's feathers.
"Well, well, if it isn't Snivelus Snape." Rubbing the sore spot on his back where it had struck the corner of his trunk, he looked up at the sneering face. Sirius Black. Mentally, he cringed. He had run into Sirius on various occasions, parties their fathers had drug them along too, and other such things that Severus would have liked to forget.
"Black." He said as a dodgy sort of greeting, slowly getting back to his feet and pulling his trunk back to the side of the aisle, as to allow others to pass.
"What's the matter Snivelus? No friends to save you a seat?"
The shorter boy glanced around, trying to devise a way out of the situation. He knew, from those previous occasions, that the best way to deal with Sirius was to simply get away from him. Out of sight, out of mind.
"I'm talking to you, y'know."
He looked back to the other boy. "I know, I simply do not care." He pushed past his personal bully and ran into another boy, one he didn't recognize.
"Problem Sirius?" The new boy looked at Severus, and back to Sirius, who had turned to box him between them.
"Snivelus is always a problem James."
Severus glared at the new boy he now had a name for. "If you will excuse me James, I would like to find a place to sit." He knew it was hopeless; it was, after all, an apparent friend of Black's.
James smirked, and pressed against the side of the aisle with an overt flourish. "Please, be my guest." He said, his voice filled with mirth.
Perhaps there was hope for this 'James' yet! But, judging by his tone, probably not.
"Aww, you're letting him get away!" Sirius complained, giving his trunk a kick as he pulled it away.
"Let him go, we have to get back to the others before the snacks come around." They continued talking as they headed off in the opposite direction.
Ignoring them, he continued on, and finally found a compartment that was nearly empty. Only one person occupied the space. He sighed and opened the door slowly before stepping in partially. "Do you mind if I sit here?" he asked, motioning to the seat across from her.
"No one else is." She, he devised by the voice, answered. Taking that as a yes, he pulled his trunk into the compartment and closed the door. He stashed his trunk on the shelf and set the owl cage on the seat next to him.
When he was settled, he took the time to look at the girl across from him. She didn't speak again, and she was covered with a black cloak that hid her face in shadows. He glanced at the insignia on the breast of the covering. "You're in Slytherin House?"
She didn't move, but answered softly. "Second year." There was a drifting silence before she spoke again. "First year are you?"
He nodded, and silence reigned in the cabin.
He awoke, realizing that he must have drifted off. He wasn't sure how long, but the last vestiges of daylight were sliding away. He looked back to his silent companion. She had a book open on her lap, her fingers sliding over the open pages. Taking a closer look, he realized there were no words on the page, only a series on raised bumps. 'Braille?' He thought to himself. He'd never heard of a blind witch or wizard, since there were ways of correcting such a problem. "Are you blind?" He asked softly, not wanting to interrupt her reading, or offend her.
Her soft laughter caught him by surprise. "Not exactly." Her other hand appeared, a slim black wand held within her pale fingers. With a slight flick of her wrist, the lights in the cabin went out. She then stood and pulled the cover down over the windows. He couldn't see as she sat back down, but his eyes adjusted and he could somewhat see her in the darkness as she pulled the hood of her cloak back, and then pulled something off her eyes. 'Dark glasses?' He was confused, but curious, and continued to watch. After a moment, she opened her eyes, and two silver specks glowed softly at him from the shadows, as cats' eyes would.
His own eyes narrowed in confusion, and she somehow could see this. "Some people run, screaming in terror. It made for an.. interesting first year."
He racked his brain for a moment, before he realized what he was seeing. "Eye of darkness.." he murmured softly, transfixed on the silver as it bobbed slightly with her nod. He thought for a moment, trying to recall what he knew of such a phenomena. He frowned again. Eye of darkness was a blatant display of dark magic, and thus, banned magic. While he certainly didn't mind it, as his family had studied such magics for more generations than he cared to count, he wondered how she had ever gotten into school. Eye of Darkness wasn't something easily hidden.
She seemed to notice his distress. "So you know something of it hmm? It's ok. Not everything is told in books. My grandfather cast Eye of Darkness on himself. The books are right, in the respect that once cast, you can't get rid of it. What they don't say is that it passes down the generations. My father had it too, and neither of us asked for it."
She put the dark glasses back on, and began to pull the hood of her cloak back over her head. It hit him that she was going to turn the lights back on for him. "You don't have to do that. It is more comfortable for you in the dark?" She nodded slowly. "Then you can leave it. I don't mind the dark."
She smiled softly, and pulled the glasses off again. "Thank you." She offered a hand. "Raven Umbrae."
He smiled softly, taking the offer. "Severus Snape."
"Umbrae! The new Defense instructor's name is Umbrae!" Harry interrupted. Snape glared. In the telling of his story, he'd forgotten who he was speaking to, and thought he had perhaps told too much. But the boy seemed to be listening at any rate.
"Yes.. It is not a coincidence. Don't interrupt."
"Yes sir. Sorry sir." He grinned somewhat sheepishly as Snape gave a mental sigh.
He narrowed his eyes. "Perhaps that is enough talk for the night-"
"Please go on. I won't interrupt anymore." The poor boy was starved for any story that might contain his parents. Besides, Snape was being rather open, and he was sure that it might not be the case next time around.
The older man released a long breath and continued his story.
As the train pulled to a halt, students were hurrying to get their things together. Raven pulled her trunk down off the shelf after placing her book back into her backpack.
Severus waited for her to finish before pulling his own trunk down, and readying to leave the train. She didn't say a word as they filed out onto the platform and she headed off toward the carriages. He frowned as he turned to say goodbye when he heard the call for first years. She was already gone, and he wasn't sure what to think of it.
"C'mon Snivelus, you're holding up progress!" A hand struck him hard on the left shoulder, almost pushing him forward. Severus gave a mental cringe. Black had gained two more toadies since they're 'run in' on the train. The four boys glared at him, and he briefly wondered what the other three hated him for, then dismissed the thought. Black hated him for seemingly nothing, he was certain he could sway his friends to do the same.
"You are aware that you could step around me, or is your Neolithic brain too slow to grasp that concept?" He smirked and slipped off into the crowed headed for the docks before Black or his pals could do anything else to him.
Serverus took the time to glance around at his fellow first years as they waited to be called for sorting. Many of them looked excited or anxious. Severus only felt sick to his stomach. His father had made it quite clear that he would be very disappointed if he didn't follow in his footsteps and get into Slytherin.
Fortunately, Black had already been sorted, so he couldn't add to his anxiety. There had been little hesitation when the hat had sent him to Gryffindor.
He stayed as far away from Black's new gang as he could.
Though he wasn't paying much attention to the actual sorting, he knew several of his father's friends' sons had been sent to Slytherin. He looked up as Lucius Malfoy was called. The hat had hardly touched his platinum blonde hair before shouting "Slytherin!"
Lucius he knew, they had been playmates before his mother died. After her death, his father had ended such things, telling him he needed to grow up. After that, he had only seen Lucius in passing.
He followed is former friends progress as he made his way to the Slytherin table. Looking down the length of the table, he looked for a glimpse of Raven, but everyone was moving around too much, and he couldn't see.
Two more boys were sorted to Gryffindor. Peter Pettigrew, a small frightened looking boy he had see following Sirius and James around on the platform from the train, and James Potter himself. So now he had a surname to tag to the boy.
"Severus Snape!" He looked up at the Witch who had called his name, then slowly made his way to the front of the thinned group. He sat down upon the stool, and pulled off looking indifferent to the whole process even though his mind was in turmoil.
"Hmmmm…." A curious humming buzzed in his head. "Bravery calls for Gryffindor," the hat began.
Panic stuck him at the mere thought, his father would surely kill him if he was sorted into the complete opposite house!
"Yet Wisdom speaks of Ravenclaw," it continued, unperturbed by his swirling thoughts. "A cunning also speaks to me, worthy of sneaky Slytherin.."
His heart was racing. He was almost certain his brain was sweating.
"But which to send you of the three?" There was a pause as it seemed to mull the decision over. "Hmm, yes, a bloodline strong and pure makes me sure from here in, that you should be in Slytherin!" Though most of what it said was only to him, this last was shouted aloud to the hall. He released the breath he hadn't been aware he was holding and slid off the stool to take his place at the house table.
He received a nod from Lucius as he sat at the end of the table, and a few pats on the back by some over exuberant housemates.
Harry frowned as he listened to the recounting of the sorting ceremony. He wasn't sure what to think of Snape having Gryffindor qualities. Ravenclaw, he could perhaps see, but he had always thought of the dark professor as the epitome of Slytherin.
Snape sneered at Harry's dilemma. "Never would have guessed hmm? Just remember Potter," He paused, and leaned over the desk a bit, looking frightening enough to make some students cower; not Harry, of course. "Just between you and me."
He nodded slowly in return. "Yes sir."
Looking somewhat satisfied, or as close to satisfied as Snape ever got, he waved him off. "We are finished for the night. Return on Thursday, 8 o'clock sharp."
"Yes sir." He looked a bit upset as he gathered himself and slipped quietly out the door. That certainly wasn't what he had been expecting for the first lesson. Then again, he never thought he would have to.. exchange stories with the snarky professor either. Harry wondered what he would ask of him. But then, the 'between you and me' went both ways, so he was confident that anything he told him in that confidence couldn't be repeated.. Did it also mean that if he asked him about some of the things they'd done.. that he couldn't punish him for them now, since he had no way of proving those past transgressions? Time would tell he supposed.
Back in his office, Severus simply sat there, staring at the vacated seat before him. He hadn't told Potter everything that he'd remembered, no, his story was quite sparse compared to the vision in his mind. He hadn't told him much about Raven, he'd said nothing of her ability, though in his mind, he could remember every detail of that day.
"Damn you to hell Albus." He murmured softly, without much conviction. He knew what the old man was trying to do, and he didn't appreciate it much. He did, however, understand why he was doing it. Albus was like a father to him, and had confided in him that he saw Harry almost as a grandson. The thought had made him cringe mentally at the time, but he could see why the man felt that way. Potter was infectious with his boyish charm, and 'good intentions'. Severus sighed to himself as he gathered his things and headed for his quarters, this had certainly given him much to think about, and remember.