Disclaimer; I do not own Harry Potter, though I wish I did. It's Rowling's world, I'm just playing in it.

Chapter 21, Occlumency

The hearth in Dumbledore's office flared to life. The old man was hunched over a letter from the Minister who was, as usual, pleading for help. He looked up as Snape and Harry marched from the fireplace, dusting themselves off.

"Severus, Mr. Potter. What an unexpected visit." Dumbledore's eyes peered at them over his half-moon glasses.

"Not unwelcome, I hope," said Snape with a wave of his hand, motioning at the letter before the wizened headmaster.

"Not at all. Please, take a seat."

Snape sat and cleared his throat. Harry, who had been in his own little world, staring at the many delicate things tinkering away in Dumbledore's office, snapped back and took a seat. His face was burning.

"What brings you here, Severus?" asked Dumbledore. "Shouldn't you be preparing for your Monday classes?"

"I've prepared the first few months in advance," said Snape, sitting back and crossing his arms. "I don't leave the future to chance. You should know that."

"Of course," said Dumbledore. "In any event, I think we have not been discussing what it is you came to discuss."

"Obviously, Mr. Potter here does not pertain to my teaching schedule. I've come to get your advice. You know more about arcane magic then I do."

"Arcane magic?" asked Dumbledore, his bushy white eyebrows touching the brim of his hat.

"I want to know how occlumency would interact with Mr. Potter's current predicament. This isn't something that is done every day and I-"

"Occlumency ?" asked Dumbledore, cutting Snape short. "He's just a boy, Severus. What could he gain?"

Harry scowled and looked away from Dumbledore. Snape, feeling rather snubbed by by the old man, chastised Harry nonetheless. "Be respectful, Mr. Potter."

"Sorry," Harry spoke for the first time, averting his eyes.

Snape didn't respond to Dumbledore right away, and found it difficult to put his first session with Harry into words. Instead he turned his gaze to Dumbledore and let flow the memories. Dumbledore shut his eyes as the last of the memory, abridged for time, flowed through his mind.

"Severus," he said, quite uncertainly. "Do you really expect him to understand the methods for training? And even so, at such a young age, it would ruin him!"

"I learned young, and I am not damaged." Snape's voice was turning icy.

"Your circumstances were different," said Dumbledore.

Snape flinched as if struck. Images wheeled in his mind of an older man shouting and throwing things about the house. A woman cowered against the wall, and he, just a boy, huddled in his room, hands over his ears, trying to shut it all out.

Looking as if he were going to be ill, Snape stood and swept Harry up as well, turning him back to the Floo. "Not so different," he shot over his shoulder, sending the mental image of Harry, battered from his encounter, along with the remark.

The hearth flared again, and Snape disappeared along with Harry. Dumbledore rubbed his brow and returned to the letter, ignoring it completely.

Snape and Harry returned to the former's office, stepping quickly to avoid getting caught in the non-magical fire already lit. Snape sat back at his desk, clasping his hands before him and resting his forehead on them.

"Sir?" asked harry, sitting back down, very confused. "What was, um, all that?" He motioned at the fireplace.

Snape inhaled slowly, regaining his composure. "Nothing important." He studied Harry for a long while, before sitting back in his chair and shaking his head. "I don't need the old fool's second opinion."

Harry bit his lip to stop from laughing at Snape calling Dumbledore an 'Old fool'.

Snape thought for a few moments and rubbed his temples. "Who care's what he thinks? "

The hearth glowed green and Dumbledore stepped out of the fireplace. "Quite a lot of people, Severus," he said smiling blithely.

Snape looked like he wanted to toss the old man bodily from the room. "I have asked your opinion, and you have given it. There is no more need for you here."

Dumbledore took a moment to calm himself before sitting next to Harry. Harry wormed in his seat, quite uncomfortable.

"On the contrary, this is a student matter, and I take it with all due seriousness. Mr. Potter would not benefit from occlumency , there's simply no reason for it. If he wants to be more adult, stioicsism would not be what he needs."

"That's only half of the argument," said Snape, sitting behind his desk and looking very tired. "The level of mental control that occlumency would afford him may be able to subvert the damage done."

Harry busied himself with examining the many pickled and bottled things lining the walls of Snape's office. He felt like a third wheel, but didn't want to interject. He had lost all thread of the conversation until Dumbledore turned to him and asked, "Well, what do you think, Mr. Potter?"

"Oh, um, I dunno," said Harry sheepishly. "I don't really know what you're talking about, I mean, sir," he added, looking down.

"I wouldn't expect you to, Mr. Potter," said Dumbledore. "Occlumency is a very obscure branch of magic, certainly not one we teach here regularly."

"Have you heard of Meditation, Harry?" asked Snape, ignoring Dumbledore.

Harry thought for a moment, and shook his head. "I don't think so, sir."

Snape tapped his fingers for a second before continuing. "It is the practice of obtaining mental control by shutting out emotions and the physical world. In a way, this is the same as occlumency . It will allow you to reign in your emotions whenever you feel things are going out of control. You would be able to make more rational decisions under duress. The biggest advantage of Occulomency, for Wizards, in any rate, is that you will be able to shut others out of your mind. Perhaps, you can shut out whatever is making you speak parsletounge."

"I hadn't thought of it like that," said Dumbledore, who was thoroughly ignored.

"But, if it'll help, then what's the problem?" Harry asked, looking, for the first time in a long time, very hopeful and excited. "Sir," he added, bowing his head and blushing.

"Well," said Snape, rubbing his chin. "It may make you a stranger to your peers. Practicing occlumency would make you less like your friends. The longer you do it, the harder it is to find emotion at all. Laughing becomes harder, and sometimes nearly impossible. You would eventually become removed, totally, from your emotions. It has never been practiced by anyone younger than fourteen. And your case makes this especially strange. I don't know how the trauma would interact with your training."

Harry sat back to digest all this and Dumbledore, perhaps sensing the humor in his situation (Being treated like a misbehaved student by Snape) raised his hand to speak. Snape regarded him with a cold look but inclined his head, indicating that he was no-longer ignoring the Headmaster.

"It may be possible that occlumency in it's truest form may be, as the Muggles say, over-kill, Severus," he said plainly. "Perhaps a lighter version could be used in Mr. Potter's case. Something more akin to the discussed Meditation. This way, Mr. Potter would not lose himself to stoicism, and could still manage his mind."

Snape rubbed his goatee'd chin in thought. Perhaps it was as simple as that. Suddenly, he felt guilty. Why had he railed so hard against Dumbledore? Maybe, he thought, feeling as thought a lead weight were settling in his stomach, he wanted Harry to be more like himself and less like his father. He rested his elbows on his desk and his head in his hands, trying to figure it all out. Finally, he sat up and looked at the boy with green eyes and decided.

"I suppose that is a good compromise," he said, the word sounding foreign to his own ears. "I will have to devise a new training method instead of the current one, though, and that may take some time."

Harry chewed on his lip, but didn't speak. It was nagging at him that he hadn't even been asked if this was the course he would wish to peruse. As though his mind had been read, and it had, Dumbledore turned to him, smiling.

"So, Mr. Potter," he said, crossing his legs like a man about to discuss business. "Does this sound agreeable to you?"

Harry sat for lack of words for a moment and suddenly realized that it did sound good to him. His only objection had been that no one was consulting him about it.

"Oh, er, yes, sir," he said, blushing and looking down.

"Well, that settles it, Severus," said Dumbledore standing and turning to the fireplace. "If you'll excuse me, I have to reply to the letter Minister Fudge has sent me. The poor man is at his wit's end. I also need to arrange the Halloween feast." He said this last bit with a twinkling in his eyes, directing it at Snape.

Snape's face twisted into a small scowl. Dumbledore knew he hated Halloween.

AN: HOLY HECK! Where have I been? I dunno! Do you know? It's been too long, folks, and I'm sure you'll agree. HOPEFULLY, this chapter has met your quality demands and reading needs. It's been rewritten no less than forty times. I am not joking. Forty freaking times. 'Bout drove me insane, but here it is at long last. So, you all can drop your Pitch-forks and Map-Quest directions. Updates may be spotty, but I really don't think it will be too long between them. Give me an Inch and I take a couple of Light-years. And maybe a Parsec or two.