Disclaimer: I do not own any character, subplot, curse, etc. previously written in the Harry Potter Series. They belong to J.K. Rowling and her publishers.
The end of the war had changed people.
The Gryffindors beamed at him while he sat near the fire. The Hufflepuffs randomly hugged him as he ate in the Great Hall. The Ravenclaws consistently gave him a collection of all their notes from class at the end of each day. The Slytherins cringed as he walked by in the halls.
Professor McGonagall, the model of propriety, sporadically gave him points for no reason. Professor Trelawney, the lover of despair, predicted great happiness and wealth in his future. Professor Flitwick, the lord of studiousness, gave him no work every other period.
People acted weird.
Harry himself shriveled into a skin of his former self. While outwardly he smiled and carried on with the wild parties in the tower, internally he was a swill of depression and loss.
Sure, he loved the freedom. He no longer had to worry about Voldemort endangering his life (the remaining Death Eaters notwithstanding). He had a prophecy dictating his life no more. He could now have normal and healthy relationships with his peers and entertain thoughts of the future. But he lost something.
He lost his purpose. What was he to do now that the prophecy was complete? What reason did he have to go on? No one except Harry knew of his self-doubt and turmoil. People were happy.
Well, everyone except Snape.
Harry had actually improved his potions skills; however, that made little difference in the classroom. Snape remained belligerent and snide throughout every class period. The professor seemed to take extra care to make deprecating remarks about the quality of his potion, the shabbiness of his clothes, the unkemptness of his hair, and the single tea stain on the lower left hem of his cloak.
Hermione claimed that eventually Snape would recognize that he was heroic for defeating Voldemort. Ron claimed that Snape just had one too many sticks up his behind to be anything but the Greasy Git. Dumbledore had yet to discuss the dilemma with him, but Harry saw the looks of disappointment the headmaster shot at Snape during dinner. Through all of this, Harry had to admire Snape's remarkable ability to ignore everyone else's opinion of his cruel behavior.
Eventually Harry decided that there was nothing to do except employ his greatest talent—muddling through the adversity. But this didn't mean that he sat quietly in his seat and just took the verbal flogging. Harry grew evermore defiant and more daring with his retaliations.
With every meeting, tension grew between the two. The headmaster made an announcement—well out of Snape and Harry's hearing range—that students should run away if they saw Snape and Harry in the same room. Students and teachers alike followed this advice religiously.
The 7th year potions class had more "sicknesses" than previously seen in any class. Madame Pomfrey calmly accepted them into the quiet of her infirmary without questions.
The fights became so common that people within the castle discovered a pattern. Snape always initiated the confrontation. It came in the form of a condescending remark, sneer, or even lift of the chin. Harry would then invariably launch some form of retort and things would steadily descend into near violence.
Everything came to a head in potions class. For the first time in several months, every student was in attendance. Snape struck the directions for the complicated potion onto the chalkboard and set the class to work. The room was more silent than the interior of a buried coffin. Every fourth or fifth second, a student would glance between Harry and Snape. Neither had acknowledged the other in over five minutes. All seemed well.
Then Snape glanced at Harry.
Harry stiffened, as if he could feel Snape's eyes on his back. Harry's head swiveled and their eyes met. For a brief moment, the class froze. None cared that several of their potions were now ruined. They prepared themselves to run. But they waited too long.
"What do you want?" Harry snapped at Snape. Snape just glared in response.
"Only the socially obtuse would ignore the proper form of address to a superior." Snape seemed smug.
Harry shot out of his seat. "Socially obtuse, am I?" He drew his wand out of his sleeve and actually shot a curse at the professor. The class watched in utter horror as the Jelly-Legs Jinx slammed into Snape, square on the chest. Snape quickly cast the counter curse and launched himself at Harry. For the first time in living memory (which is quite long considering Nicolas Flamel's age) a student and a professor dueled on castle grounds.
Needless to say, Dumbledore was hardly impressed. As soon as word had reached him, he dashed to the dungeons only to find Harry and Snape still in the heated duel which had escalated to near lethal curses. The rest of the potions class hid under or behind anything that could give them any sort of protection.
"ENOUGH!" Dumbledore thundered. Harry and Snape both halted in shock. Both had forgotten others were in the castle. "Everyone who has been hit by stray curse report to the infirmary immediately," Dumbledore spoke evenly. "Mr. Potter and Mr. Snape, report to my office. I will deal with you both after I attend to your victims." At least Harry and Snape had the decency to appear abashed.
Never before had the headmaster's office seemed so dark and hard. The plush chair defied appearances for the two offenders, becoming stiff and uncomfortable. They both sat rigid and still, awaiting judgment.
When the headmaster entered an hour later, he only looked at them both, pivoted on his heels, and left. They both correctly assumed that he meant for them to follow. The headmaster strode to a familiar wall and paced three times. A dark, wood door appeared and the headmaster swiftly went inside.
When Harry and Snape entered, they saw two wooden chairs facing one another near a warm fire. Dumbledore stood before them both with his hand extended.
"Give me your wands."
Neither Snape nor Harry could argue. As it was, they both would need to look for new lodging soon, so what was the harm in being agreeable to the headmaster.
Dumbledore left them in the room. Neither knew for how long. They sat in the chair in silence. Both would glance at the other, never catching the other's eye.
"Why?" Harry thought he sounded child-like and immediately regretted speaking. He picked at the fuzzies on his uniform in an attempt to distract himself from what was sure to be a snide remark.
"Potter." Harry braced himself. "You are a hero."
In that moment, Harry understood. No one saw that Harry felt bereft of purpose—except Snape. He saw that Harry needed an adversary. Someone to fight against. Someone to compete with. Snape had offered himself up for the job.
They stayed inside the room for the rest of the afternoon. They emerged in time for dinner, not a single hair out of place.
No one in Hogwarts knew what exactly had gone on in that room. Not even the headmaster. There was much speculation, but no facts save two. One: before, Snape and Harry had been exceedingly hostile. Two: after, Snape and Harry exchanged banter—almost fondly.
That finishes my first ever attempt at FanFiction. It was inspired by a sudden image of Harry picking the fuzzies off of his uniform under the stern gaze of Severus. It sort of gained a life of its own...
Any and all criticism is welcome, just know politeness is valued. If you don't care for it fine, but do not make your objections any less than they are by being unpleasant.