"Well, Potter, Malfoy, I think you ought to be outside on a glorious day like this," Professor McGonagall continued briskly.
Harry did not need telling twice; he thrust his wand back inside his robes and headed straight for the front doors without another glance at Snape and Malfoy.
Malfoy made sure to fix a chilling glare on his sworn enemy's back until he strode well out of sight, before looking up at the two professors, who, he realised, were both staring at him. As his mouth opened however, McGonagall lips thinned, and she raised a stern eyebrow.
His face slightly flushed with anger, Malfoy set his jaw, and abruptly turned, not toward the front doors, but back to his common room.
The professors waited for the inevitable door slam, before allowing themselves to break the silence.
McGonagall allowed herself a small sigh. "If only we could do more than hold back the inevitable."
Snape moved toward the front door, and positioned himself against the doorframe, his watchful eyes gazing down into the grounds.
"Feel free to scorn my fatalism, as usual, Minerva," he growled softly, "but I am merely counting down the days to their exchanging Unforgivables across the battlefield."
McGonagall paled slightly. "I should like to believe that my Gryffindors would not-"
Snape's mouth twitched. "Not all, just one particular Gryffindor. One special case…"
"Surely, Severus-" returned McGonagall briskly, frowning as she joined him at the doorway.
"Surely, Minerva," he returned, fixing her with a chill gaze. "Out of all your students, you should know that Potter is the most likely one to attempt illegal curses."
McGonagall's green eyes looked up at her fellow colleague's face, but she could not find a single trace of amusement. His mouth was grim, his eyes unusually dull, and devoid of the cruel amusement that would often dance in them.
"Were his memories that bad?" she whispered, a chill running down her back.
Snape looked away from her to gaze down to the grounds. "Who am I to be the judge of The Boy Who Lived's memories?" he returned coolly.
Minerva followed his gaze. The student in question had just left Hagrid's hut, and was now stalking toward the lake, oblivious of all that was happening around him. They watched the boy until he disappeared into the shadow of some bushes.
McGonagall pursed her lips slightly in sadness as she watched him. The boy had changed so much in the past year, it was awful. So far away now from the bright-eyed little first year that had caught his first winning Snitch. His beaming smile filling her heart with pride back then, was now set with eerie bitterness and hatred. And how it pained her immeasurably now to see ghostly shadows under the same green eyes.
She glanced up into Snape's austere face. "I'll likely offend you to say this, Severus, but Potter is beginning to remind me more and more-"
"I'd rather not hear what you have to say about Potter, Minerva," cut in Snape curtly. "Particularly if you deem it offensive to me!"
Surprised, McGonagall repositioned her grip on her walking stick. She watched her colleague as his jaw set, and a frown gathered above his stormy eyes.
He had already known what she was going to say, and he dreaded to hear it. McGonagall allowed herself then and there to feel a glimmer of hope. Perhaps something more than tragedy could come out of the recent horror at the Ministry.
"I am sorry, Severus," she replied respectfully, before turning. "I am off to see Albus now. See how he is bearing up."
She was surprised again as Snape made no effort to win their argument with one last acidic word. All the time she took to ease herself up the staircase, his gaze remained fiercely fixed on the grounds. This was not like him.
Harry Potter was not the only one to have changed since she had been away.
Snape stood there for a few more minutes after McGonagall had disappeared. He was glaring, but at nothing. His anger burned alongside his confusion.
No one else would ever notice the significance of it, the biting irony.
Harry Potter was sitting alone on the exact spot by the lake where he'd seen the fifteen-year-old Severus Snape sit with his OWL paper, on that "glorious" sunny day, all those years before.
A/N: I've returned! I am so, so sorry for the whole disappearing from fandom into nowhere thing - the moral for this is: don'tfind yourselfa git of a boyfriend from your own workplace. :o( Anyhow - I hope you liked this, and please review - and comment if you would like me to continue any of my older fics. :o)