Mistaken Identity

Summary: Will the real Boy-Who-Lived please stand up? Snape is convinced that the second Potter twin is the one to worry about. Too bad no one else seems to agree. One-shot.

Warning: Yes, one of those. Sort of parody, and mild humour – not entirely serious, but hardly very funny either.

Severus Snape stormed into the Headmaster's office, his black robes billowing out around him in trademark style, and stopped short. The elderly wizard appeared to be… braiding his beard. And if that wasn't enough, (from Snape's point of view it most assuredly was) he was humming a muggle nursery rhyme as he fixed brightly coloured beads to the end of each twisted strand.

Snape made a strangled noise in the back of his throat, finding himself incapable of speech.

Dumbledore looked up sharply, quickly dropped the beard out of sight behind the desk, and cleared his throat. "Ah, Severus, delighted to see you…"

Snape nodded mutely, eyes straying back to the small dish of beads as he struggled to regain his composure. "Professor, the Dark Lord–"

"Don't you worry, Severus. I'm sure you'll be delighted to know Lily and James should be here soon, and their children. All safe and sound." Snape looked torn between guilt-based relief and disappointment, before deciding Dumbledore's oddly excited expression was a more pressing concern, and put a hand behind his back and crossed his fingers. He would have reached for the firewhiskey, but the situation wasn't quite that dire. Yet.

"So this concerns me how?"

As luck would have it, the previously mentioned family chose that moment to enter; Lily holding a dark-haired baby with jagged gash on his forehead and Potter holding a rather moronic looking redheaded baby. A shame the poor thing (Snape had a hard time suppressing the snort) had obviously got its brains from its father, who was so lacking in that department Snape had once tried to get him legally declared brain-dead. Dumbledore's smile could have put several suns to shame as he promptly pounced and began menacing the dimwit with sherbet lemons.

Snape sighed irritably. "What is this about, Albus, and is it really necessary I stay…?"

Dumbledore looked up, and Snape's suspicions (and apprehension) only increased at the twinkling. "Of course it is Severus!"

James Potter, typically, scowled at him, while Lily (how she could have ended up with Potter was still a mystery to him) smiled apologetically, if weakly, at him from where she cradled the solemn green-eyed baby to her chest. "Severus," Albus interjected, possibly noticing the venom-filled glare he was returning to Potter senior (with interest, naturally). "I have good news."

Snape paled. 'Good news' with Albus could mean anything. Anything. Just rarely, he actually hated being right. He steeled himself for the worst, and wondered if now was the time to break out the firewhiskey.

The twinkling became blinding. "Voldemort is gone!"

He stared, too astonished to even flinch at his master's name. He'd just had a meeting with the Dark Lord, barely an hour and a half ago! That was the entire reason he was here!

Naturally, he quickly deduced what was wrong: Dumbledore had gone mad. … Of course, Albus had always been only just the right side of eccentric… but now he appeared to have hang-glided right over the edge of sanity.

"Albus…" He stopped, unsure as to how to delicately point out to the Head of the Order of the Phoenix that perhaps sugar had affected his mental facilities, and maybe he should lie down before being sent to St. Mungo's…

"Connor here defeated him!" Dumbledore said cheerfully, indicating the sullen, red-haired baby who blinked stupidly at him from the protective circle of Potter senior's arms.

It had to be done, he told himself firmly. "Have you lost your mind?!" he demanded, his voice cracking with desperation. The twinkling (if it was even possible) increased.

"Of course not, my dear boy! You see –" Snape twitched, but reminded himself he still had enough respect for the headmaster not to say that if he called him 'dear boy' one more time he was going to wear his entrails on the outside. Instead, he listened intently as Dumbledore outlined Voldemort's ill-fated attack on Godric's Hollow, and ending with the delighted explanation that 'Nathan here' (Snape decided not to point out that minutes prior he'd been called 'Connor') had somehow reflected the Dark Lord's own killing curse back at him. "And I think you'll find," he continued, leaning forward with one of those small smiles that made him look trusty-worthy, wise and actually interested, "That if you roll back your sleeve, your Dark Mark will be gone, or faded at the very least."

Snape scowled and rubbed self-consciously at the place where the Dark Mark had been branded, ignoring with practised ease the glare and hissed insults from Potter's direction.

Now Severus Snape was hardly an idiot. To be a Slytherin required cunning, and intelligence enough to use it appropriately (the Crabbe and Goyle lines being obvious exceptions). And Snape could tell that there was something simply Not Right in the way it was automatically assumed the red-haired twin was the 'Boy Who Lived' as the Headmaster had cheerfully called him. Not when, to Snape, every sign pointed otherwise, to the silent, black-haired baby who was watching him steadily and with far too much seriousness for a toddler. It was time to put that eidetic memory to good use.

"Am I the only one here blessed with a modicum of intelligence?" he demanded rhetorically. Dumbledore's twinkling eyes became set on 'slow and painful death'.

"Why, whatever do you mean, dear boy?"

Snape cringed, but gathered up his Slytherin dignity. "I mean," he said stiffly, averting his eyes before he really was blinded, "That you can't possibly believe such idiocy? The green-eyed boy, surely, is the one you mean?" He waved a lazy hand at the aforementioned baby, this Harry, who was the only one not taxing his mental facilities trying to understand how Severus could reach such a conclusion. Well, the other twin wasn't either, but Snape put that down to a complete lack of brain cells in the first place, rather than actual understanding.

"No, no, no, de-Severus," Dumbledore corrected, possibly noting the homicidal glint in Snape's eyes at the beginning of 'dear'. "Wherever did you get that idea? All the signs point to Hayden over there."

"And what, pray tell, are those signs?" Snape inquired silkily, one eyebrow raised in just the right manner to make a first-year faint, reduce a seventh-year to tears, and send a teacher scurrying for cover.

"Why, the Dark magic residue."

"Which was all over the house, and strongest on… Harry, is it?"

Dumbledore hummed absently, clearly utterly oblivious to what had just been said. "Yes, his name is Harry… and the scar is obviously another sign."

Evidently Snape's infamous 'must you be so stupid?' glare was failing. Better upgrade to glare number 2: 'if you don't find the braincells soon, I'm going to end up doing something that will get me sacked'. "Your precious redhead is unscathed."

"Harry's is most likely the result of a piece of falling ceiling rubble."

...'I'm this close to force-feeding you something most unpleasant'. "A piece of falling debris would not make a perfect lightning bolt scar and besides which, the ceiling was untouched."

"Then he was magically inferior to his brother – " Dumbledore turned his gaze upwards for a moment; Snape interpreted the gesture to mean 'forgive me, Lord, for putting it in such blunt terms'. "Or else he was protected by his brother's own magic and body."

'Good thing for you the Unforgivables are illegal'. Never had Snape more fully supported the Dark Lord's blasé attitude to the use of the Cruciatus Curse. "They were in separate cribs. In separate rooms. At different ends of the house."

Dumbledore blinked. Lily and James cooed delightedly at the redhead baby (Harry having been placed on the floor to occupy himself by drawing a rather unflattering picture of Voldemort in the dust). Snape sneered.

Unfortunately, Dumbledore began talking again. "Totally irrelevant, Severus. Now, of course you know that the Prophecy mentions 'power the Dark Lord knows not', which is obviously love –"

"Excuse me? How can you be so certain?"

Dumbledore surveyed him with what Snape realised, in a moment of betrayal as keen as a Cruciatus, was pity. "Why, of course it is. What else could it be?"

"Something useful?" He snapped bitterly, glancing back down at Harry, who rubbed out Voldemort's face and began replacing it with one a little more human and overlaid by a lightning bolt. Fortunately, Severus did not believe in omens.

Dumbledore did not deign to respond. "The power the Dark Lord knows not is love," he said firmly, tone brooking no argument (though Snape bared his teeth in rather animalistic snarl in protest). "And Jerry's hair is red, which is widely recognised to be associated with love –"

"You're going to choose the saviour of the wizarding world based on hair colour?!" Snape bellowed, causing the portraits to awaken with startled cries, the Hat to fall off the shelf, Fawkes to rise into the air with a startled screech and Potter and Lily to glare at him. The 'Dunce Who Lived' looked annoyed at being upstaged in tantrum stakes, and Harry startled, ruining his picture.

"Of course not," Dumbledore said serenely. "So you see, Harry can't be the Prophecy child…"

"What? You didn't explain anything!"

"Weren't you listening, Severus?"

Snape inhaled sharply, and refrained from announcing what he dearly wished he could say. Probably something along the lines of 'I am never going to get over the embarrassment of belonging to the same species as you', an announcement which would scupper any chance he may have had at ever getting that Defence Against the Dark Arts post he so coveted. He was certain that at this point he could quite possibly descend to calling the Headmaster several highly opprobrious epithets, if he didn't firmly believe vulgarity of such a manner was beneath him.

The last hope inside that this was some elaborate ruse, a sleight of hand to provide the real power with the drive to succeed, vanished. Dumbledore truly believed…

It was a lost cause, he decided, and stood, casting one last glance at the green-eyed baby before stalking out of the door.

The Hat murmured 'I quite agree with you, Severus,' as he passed it, and 'that blasted bird', as Snape was wont to call the phoenix, trilled its agreement, looking quite annoyed at its master's blindness. This was far from reassuring – things had to be bad for the Light side if a hat and a flaming chicken were able to see the blatantly obvious when the leader of the Light's forces couldn't.

It was all going to come back and bite him in the arse, he just knew it. Fact one, passing over a powerful child for a mediocre younger brother was going to be galling for the elder Potter.

Fact two: it would undoubtedly make him resentful and bitter to be so neglected, thereby increasing the likelihood of being easily tempted by the Dark Arts.

Fact three: abused and/or neglected children often ended up in the house of serpents, their desire to survive teaching them cunning, and their need to prove themselves worthy increasing their ambition. The Dark Lord was the perfect example.

Conclusion: he was going to have a Slytherin Potter.

He whimpered at the mere thought.

Never mind how easy it would be for the Dark Lord. V-vo- the Dark Lord would take mere seconds to realise a) the green-eyed twin was more powerful and b) it would be insanely easy to entice a neglected child to the Dark.

Snape made a mental note to completely switch his faith to the Dark Lord if said embodiment of evil ever caught sight of the soon-to-become neglected Potter twin. The Dark Lord had been crucio-happy, true, but at least most of his plans failed from the lack of intelligent servants rather than by virtue of the fact they were written on a sugar-high.

Oh, there were some difficult decisions ahead, that was for sure. Continue supporting the Light, even though their leader should have been placed in St. Mungo's years ago? Or go back to the Dark, with the liberal dosages of Cruciatus and the pureblood mania that would kill Snape himself if he wasn't so darn good at Potions (thank fu-God)? Risk his integrity as Head of Slytherin (the only integrity he had) by continuing his vendetta against Potter through one of his own students? Or perhaps let it go (i.e. reserve it for the other one) and teach this invaluable child who had the misfortune to share Potter genes everything it needed to know. If no one was going to appreciate the boy but him… he would have the greatest hold on the boy. And just imagine all the ways that could be used. He could have James Potter foaming at the mouth!

His face fell as he hit on a significant snag in the proceedings. No boy, however magical powerful he may or may not be, was going to be able to match up to the years of intense… extracurricular… magical learning in as many varied subjects as the Dark Lord. Supposing he somehow managed to keep up with advances in the Dark Arts and other areas while bodiless? The disparities would be even bigger then.

"The world is doomed," he muttered out loud, ignoring the wary glance sent his way by Trelawney, the new Divination teacher.