1 A Conversation

2 Severus Snape leaned back in the overstuffed armchair, adjusting the icepack on his forehead, when Albus Dumbledore entered the staff room.

"Headache again, Severus?" the Headmaster asked, blue eyes shining with concern behind half moon glasses.

Snape barely looked up, grunting a reply, when Dumbledore placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"Just one more period, my friend, and you will be able to crawl into bed and sleep it off."

He squeezed the younger man's shoulder affectionately; if Severus wasn't such a perfectionist, he would not be so prone to headaches. The Potions Master really needed to learn how to relax, Dumbledore thought.

"Do you want to talk about it, Severus?"

"What's there to talk? Longbottom managed to melt yet another cauldron today, inept little sqib that he is. He is going to blow up the school one of those days, Albus. If Potter and his little gang of future Azkaban inmates don't do it with their stupid pranks first. I swear, they are getting worse with every passing year. Even the Granger girl, the insufferable little know-it-all!" Snape ranted. His outburst brought a fond smile to Dumbledore's lips.

"Nice choice of words, Severus", the Headmaster said lightly, taking a seat opposite the agitated youngest member of his staff.

"Ah yes, young Miss Granger. She rather reminds me of a certain other student", the ancient wizard mused. "A brilliant young mind. Studious, bookish, far too earnest if you ask me. A little bossy, perhaps. I believe it was Minerva who called him an insufferable little know-it-all once."

"I don't know what you're talking about", was Snape's stony reply.

"Nonsense, my dear Severus. You know perfectly well what I am talking about. Unless those headaches are starting to affect your memory, in which case I suggest you go see Madam Pomfrey." Dumbledores blue eyes glittered with amusement.

Snape, however, refused to take the bait. Customary sneer firmly in place, he rose and made the icepack disappear with a flick of his wand.

"If you will excuse me, Headmaster, I still have one more class to teach today."

With that, the Potions Master whirled around and made his exit, black robes billowing behind him.

Dumbledore looked after him, resting his chin on steepled fingers.

"Yes, it is truly a shame you never made the kind of friends Miss Granger found in young Messieurs Potter and Weasley. You should have been a Gryffindor, Severus. You would be so much happier today." His smile widened. "Then again, I am not quite sure if Hogwarts had survived, had you been the fourth Marauder."