Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, never have, never will do!

Severus Snape had been alone for a long time. He tried to tell himself he preferred his own company, so much so that this thought had become the norm when he was sitting alone in his office marking essays or eating lunch at the staff table, not communicating. He discouraged any thought, any fleeting fancy that he wanted something, someone more than he could understand. For that was his downfall; his inability to loose control. Most of his students thought that his cold indifference was his selfish disposition, his fellow teachers thought it was his thirst for learning that kept his nose in the textbooks and out of other's business or 'foolish concerns' as he put it. Only Albus Dumbledore saw through his hardened demeanour, only he could tap into Snape's mind, know the man behind the mask. Maybe that was why he hated the old fool so much. But even with all these flaws, these cracks in his defensive outer-shell, it was he, Severus Snape that found himself sitting in the Headmaster's office like a reprimanded schoolboy, wondering what the topic of this meeting would be.

The wizened old man strolled in, a powerful air about him, one Severus would never be able to achieve, as intimidating as he was perceived.

"Ah, Severus. So glad you could make it," he sat at his desk, facing the Potions Master.

"Yes. And your reason for calling me here is…" said Severus sharply.

"I wanted to discuss your application for the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, again. I'm afraid I simply can't post you, you see you are too valuable as a Potions Master; I just wouldn't be able to replace you." As a highly intelligent man Snape picked up on the double meaning on the seemingly innocent phrase.

"Replace me?" he snarled.

"Well, this is what – the sixth Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher we been through? Quirrel – dead, Gilderoy – hospitalised, Remus - " Snape smirked, but the headmaster continued, apparently noticing Snape's curling lip, "well, you know well enough why he cannot return." Dumbledore said severely.

"You, like most others are afraid the position is jinxed?"

"Not jinxed no, it just seems that since the arrival of Harry Potter, we seem to be going through Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher's like nobodies business, and you not being one of Harry's favourite teachers would be an obvious target. Not that I'm implying that Harry Potter has been attempting to be rid of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher's."

Snape gritted his teeth. Potter. He hated that boy – loathed him. Just like his father. Yes James. Snape cringed. An egotistical, self-absorbed imbecile if he ever saw one. His arrogance, his looks, useless waste of –

"Severus?" Dumbledore surveyed the man over his half-mooned spectacles, that annoying twinkle glinting in his bright blue eyes.

"Yes, whatever headmaster," agreed Severus, reasoning that the old fool was probably rambling about some new joke shop and if agreeing would get him out faster, that's just what he'd do.

"Well I'm glad you back the idea, I must say I was rather dubious as to whether you'd participate. Very well, that is all then," Dumbledore inclined his head towards the door, signalling for Snape to leave, but he was already there. Severus wrenched open the door and practically threw himself down the spiral staircase.

Positively fuming, he had hardly realised that today was the last day before he had to start teaching 'this generations youth'. Yet another year wasted on their incompetent minds. At the top of the marble staircase he stopped abruptly as below him raged a sea of black-hatted students, filing into the great hall. He inhaled deeply, drawing himself up to his full height and he stormed through the students.

"Hello Professor!" chirped a 17-year-old Hermione Granger. Though she was no longer the bushy-haired chipmunk bobbing excitedly up and down in her seat, hand in the air waving it around frantically whenever he asked a question, he still couldn't suppress casting her a withering glance before continuing into the Great Hall and up to the teachers table. He pulled out his chair roughly and sat down next to Professor McGonagall. He glared at the Gryffindors, all so "brave", foolish more like. Could it be "bravery" that ruined his life and turned him into a selfish, lonely old man? No. There was only one he could blame for that.

The headmaster who had slipped in unseen, stood up and a hush descended on the hall.

"Good day and welcome back!" Ha. Good day. Snape couldn't think of one single thing that was good about it "Before we tuck into our delicious feast, I would like to let you all know that, after discussing it with the teachers, we will be taking part in something very exciting, but of course, all in good time!" he tapped his nose conspiratorially. Snape sniggered; exciting to that old fool probably meant a new flavour of Berti Bott's bean! "Well, tuck in!" the golden plates magically filled with food, but Severus was hardly hungry; his thoughts in Dumbledore's office had brought back some painful memories.