"Protego!" Harry yelled as he felt Snape probe into his mind. "Protego!" Yet he may as well have been shouting in Pig Latin for all the good it did.
"Useless, Potter, as usual." Severus Snape stood at ease before the Gryffindor, seeming to almost enjoy himself as he sifted through Harry's surface memories. Quidditch matches, exams, the Granger brat droning on and on… his Aunt and Uncle. "Such a mundane mind…" he delved deeper, violating. It was easy, like sinking into butter. No resistance whatsoever. Images darted past – growing more personal the longer he pushed.
Harry, weeping alone as a child. Burning with hatred of the young Malfoy, of Snape, The dark lord, of himself. Rocked with anger at his murdered parents for leaving him. Being struck down by the great hand of his uncle and a thousand petty injustices. Watching Sirius die.
"No!" Harry's cry broke into his perusal of the young man's pain and passion. "Stop! PROTEGO!" This time Severus felt a slight push. It was weak, like a child demanding something of his mother. Laughable.
"Almost," he taunted.
He saw Harry's flesh split by Wormtail's knife, Diggory collapsing in a lifeless heap. Deeper still – Images of his late parents, loving Sirius as a father, feelings of guilt, knowing, knowing that he'd killed his own godfather- Then suddenly, a most intense surge of rage. Almost a solid wall in Severus' path.
Harry collapsed onto his knees with another, desperate,
"GET OUT! PROTEGO!" At last, and most unexpectedly, Snape was expelled. He stumbled back a fraction in surprise at the sheer force thrown up in his face. Potter was kneeling on the ground, head hanging, hand braced on the stone floor as if he'd spent everything to achieve the eviction. "Get out… out out out…" his voice was weak, thick with pain, harsh from shouting and exertion.
"Get up, Potter. You are not a child." 'Child' Severus spat out like a mouthful of poison. "Again."
Harry stared up at the dark figure, exhausted, but furious beyond anything he'd ever felt before. Any angrier, and his vision would surely go red. Their eyes met for only a moment, but it was more than enough fir Snape to recognize the absolute, overwhelming hatred in Potter's eyes. The emotion was hot and deep like a fissure in the earth.
Severus cleared his throat. "Again, Mr. Potter." He raised his hand to begin again, but before he'd even parted his lips for the incantation, Harry had shouted at him, brandishing his wand like a sword.
"Legillimens!" In an instant Harry was swamped by foreign memories, thoughts, and emotions, and Snape, shocked at Harry's sheer audacity, took all of a quarter minute to expel the brat. It was plenty of time, however, for Harry to become entirely disquieted.
Nearly every memory, every tableaux that flashed by…was of him.
Harry, sifting powder into a cauldron. Harry, sitting at the Gryffindor table. Harry, sleepily turning the pages of a book in the library. Harry, playing Quidditch, laughing, bleeding, flying. Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry.
Harry, still kneeling on the unforgiving stone, toppled backwards as he was thrown bodily from Snape's mind, landing hard on his hands. The potion's master loomed over him, looking far too calm considering what Harry had just done. That, more than anything, made Harry's skin prickle in fear.
"I think, Mr. Potter," Snape said coolly, "that we are done for tonight."
"Yes. Yes Sir. I'll – I'll go then." Harry scrambled to his feet, snatched his bag hastily from the desk, and practically through himself from the room in his rush to escape.
"That's fuckin' weird, mate," Ron said.
"Well, I mean, He does see Harry rather often, doesn't he?" Hermione reasoned in response, not looking up from her planner, in which she'd been meticulously recording her reading schedule for the better part of an hour.
"Yeah, but why's he been watching Harry eat and practice Quidditch and what else…"
"Harry is the savior of the wizarding world, Ron. I'd wager a lot of people've got him on their minds."
"It's just creepy that's all I'm saying." Ron grumbled, giving up on his reading. Harry just hummed in response. "I mean, a bit suspicious don't you think?"
"Ron, you know what Dumbledore said – "
"Yeah yeah I know 'Snape has more than redeemed himself.' Still."
"One thing that's really bothering me…" Harry started, not really listening to the pair at all.
"What, mate? More than Snape stalking you like some sort of freaky –"
"Ron!" Hermione cut off what was sure to turn into a bit of a tirade. "What's been bothering you, Harry?"
"It's just that – " he leaned toward them conspiratorially. "Well, before every lesson I'm sure he puts some of his thoughts away into a pensieve. He must think I don't know what it is. And… well what if…"
"He's hiding something from you!" Ron chimed in excitedly.
"Ron, I'm sure it's just personal memories he's putting away."
"C'mon, Hermione at least see the possibility that he's got some sort of secret about Harry locked away in that greasy head of his," Ron insisted. "Who knows what the git's got hidden in there." He shuddered. But Harry had already tuned them out. He'd made up his mind. He had to know what was in that pensieve. That, one brief look into Snape's mind had him wanting to see more. He wanted… he needed to know.
Severus could hardly believe what had just happened. It must have been Potter's absolute rage that had given such a novice attempt at Legillimecy such force. The strength of the boy's presence in his mind… he shouldn't think of it. Better to reconsider his earlier decision to keep… certain memories apart from his mind only during Potter's hours of practice. Perhaps he should remove them entirely… for safety's sake.
He moved over to the cabinet which held his most useful possession: the pensieve.
'Fortunate,' he thought as he poked through the shimmering memories in the stone vessel, accounting for each one, 'that Potter is too poor a student to know what a pensieve is.'
"Harry this is not a good idea." She'd been saying that for nearly a week now.
"Lay off him, Hermione! I for one want to know what Snape's been hiding. Maybe we'll find out once and for all what side he's on!"
"We know what side he's – "
"Guys!" Harry cut them off. "Look, I didn't ask you to help me, so just let me do this. Slytherin's got Quidditch practice right now and Snape is always there watching. It'll be fine." Hermione shot him a disapproving look, but mercifully didn't say another word.
"Go get'em mate!" Ron called to him as Harry turned to go, swinging his cloak about his shoulders and disappearing.
He met no major problems on the trip down to the dungeons, and technically he would have been totally entitled to be roaming the halls even if he'd been visible. It was early evening, and a time when, though all students were allowed to be up and about, most were relaxing in their common rooms digesting their dinners, getting a start on homework, or socializing with their housemates.
The potion's classroom was unlocked and deserted. Snape's office was, of course, locked, but responded very well to Sirius' lock-picking knife.
"Well," he said, inside the familiarly dank and sinister room. "That was easy."