Fiction Rated: T (Not suitable for children: profanity, mature themes)

Note: I do not own the characters, fictional world, or premise of this fanfic. Written for my amusement only.

Chapter One - Snape's Obsession

Ever since Albus Dumbledore had imparted to Severus Snape what would be Harry Potter's deadly fate, tormenting the teenager had not been nearly as pleasurable for him. In fact, ever since that day, every time the bespeckled young man walked into this classroom, he could not extinguish an odd feeling of guilt that impinged upon his gut, a sentiment that proved itself to be inexorable as time went on, even as he let weeks go by without chastening the troublemaker with his usual rancour. The boy was as brazen and uncouth as ever, wandering about at night, making smart remarks to Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley about his potion master's sour disposition and uncomely appearance, and overall making it sufficiently obvious that he thought far too highly of himself.

Potter had a hero complex; he was quite aware that he was the chosen one. But what he did not know yet was that the price it carried was decidedly death, not an uncertain one, but an ineluctable one. It was that fact that had been making Snape's stomach turn with unusual disquiet throughout that crepuscular autumn of Harry Potter's sixth year. Harry Potter, son of Lily Evans, was going to die. Worse, Albus Dumbledore, the boy's only remaining living mentor, had been counting on sacrificing the boy since even before they had finally told the boy what he was.

What was this? wondered Snape, his usually severe expression slightly faltering, as he watched the first snowflakes of November pass downward through the grey English atmosphere. Was it pity? Had he, as he had previously disallowed to Dumbledore, grown to care for the boy after all this time?

No, "care" seemed too strong a word. Caring was not something that Severus Snape did. Severus Snape did not care.

"POTTER! Twenty points from Gryffindor for your indecent behaviour!" snapped Snape mechanically for the first time in four weeks.

Potter suddenly stopped snogging Ginny Weasley just long enough to see his potions master pass them by on the covered bridge with an equivocal look on his face.

After he was out of hearing range, Ginny let out an uncertain laugh.

"If I didn't know any better Harry, I'd swear Snape is obsessed with you or something."

"WHAT?" Harry rejoined, mortified, "Snape loathes me. The man hates me. What the bloody hell made you think that?"

"It's just," Ginny continued, embarrassed, "he's been following us around an awful lot lately. Ron tells me that he's always staring at you in class too."

"Trying to catch me doing something to take away more points from Gryffindor, I reckon," Harry admitted.

"That's just it," Ginny shifted distressingly, "Ron mentioned...that Snape hadn't taken any points away from you in weeks...until just now I guess. He and Hermione think something is up."

"What are you suggesting?"

"Harry, we think Snape might be thinking of moving on to Phase Two of his plan, so to speak."

"What plan? What's Phase Two?"

"Oh, come on, Harry. Snape's always had it in for you. But he's not just a foul old potions master who happened to hate your father. Harry, he's a Death Eater! It's no secret that he's working for Voldemort. Honestly, you think he could make it a little less obvious..."

"So what's Phase Two?"

"We think Harry...we think he's just about ready to hand you over to Voldemort."

Harry seemed unfazed. It wouldn't be the first time he had acted under the impression that Snape planned to hand him over to "the Dark Lord", as he called him.

But he had to wonder.

"So why isn't he taking off more house points from me than ever then? Why had he just stopped..before um, two minutes ago?"

"Hermione thinks...Ron and I don't agree, though Harry. We think he's just moving on to far more evil ways to get to you, but...Hermione...she thinks he hasn't made up his mind yet. She thinks he might be re-thinking his loyalties."

Harry nodded composedly. Why was it that Hermione's theory did not seem like such of a stretch either?