AN: Obviously, neither these characters nor the concept belongs to me; that can be credited to J.K Rowling.
Just a short oneshot to get back into the whole FF thing..
Hope you enjoy, and please review..

His footsteps echoed, pounding on the cold surface of the dungeon's floor. The classroom was empty and silent, but then, even filled with students there would be no sound. He sat down behind his desk, and stared at the room before him. The desks were facing the front, straight, and the stools sat behind them neatly; he knew it would only take a week before the place would closely resemble a landfill, or bomb site. Until he would spend two hours tidying again at the end of the day. He sighed, his long, exhaled breath making a visible wisp of white cloud in the cold air.

He got up, and walked over to the cupboard, to check that the supplies were entirely in order. This was the fourth time he'd checked this week. There was no denying that he was meticulous, and he wanted everything to be in order for the coming year. Teaching a room filled with obnoxious, trivial little brats was difficult enough, and having everything in an orderly fashion made his job a little bit easier. Not that Severus disliked his job, despite what countless students - and teachers - had been lead to think. He enjoyed the power he had when he was at the front of the classroom, and the respect and fear he instilled in his pupils. He loved their silence, and attentive gazes as he passed on his knowledge and information. He liked knowing that he had a role in this world, and that he was making up for mistakes he'd made ten years previously.

Moreso than that though, Severus liked life at Hogwarts. He liked the companionship, and his status among everyone else. He knew he was distant and aloof, but he didn't need to be liked. At only thirty-two, he was head of Slytherin, and a reknowned Potions Master. He was secure in his place in the wizarding world, and the approval of adolescents was irrelevant to him. He hadn't needed such approval when he was one of them, and he certainly didn't need it now. The only approval Severus really cared about was that of Albus Dumbledore; it was something he and the gameskeeper would forever have in common - an undying respect for, and gratitude to the man considered the greatest headmaster Hogwart's had ever seen.

Severus knew that Hagrid had done an important job for Dumbledore over the summer, and not the plot they were all involved in. Severus, too, been a part of Dumbledore's assistance to Nicolas Flamel - but Hagrid had done something else, something seperate from that job. And much as he'd tried to ignore it, Severus's mind couldn't seem to escape from this impending arrival, no matter how he hard to try and hide and run from it.

Tommorow. Tommorow was the first of September, and a train filled with excited, eager students would arrive back at the castle. And amongst them would be one child, one famous child whose existence had saved the wizarding world, and whose existence served as a symbol of Severus' broken dreams. Harry Potter. Harry James Potter. What wizard didn't know that name? But there was nobody to whom it gave such mixed emotions to as it did Severus Snape.

Three months ago had been ten years since the fall of the Dark Lord, since the infant Potter had somehow managed to defeat him. There had been celebrations throughout the country, fireworks and parties, people rejoicing that the war had ended, and the wizarding world was at peace again for an entire decade. Severus had not partaken of the celebrations. It seemed so frivalous, so ignorant of the horrors which had happened,and still haunted so many people.
It was the anniversary of Lily Evans' death, and that was a date on which he could never celebrate.

And now her son was coming to Hogwarts. Had fate not decreed that Severus was to have every desire he'd ever dared wish destroyed, perhaps Lily's son would have been his also. Perhaps she'd still be here with him. Perhaps the mind-numbing lonliness he still felt would be nothing but a product of nightmares. But the universe would always conspire against him, and events hadn't played out like he might have dreamed, and Lily Evans, the childhood companion he would forever love, was forever gone.

Severus sighed heavily, and got to his feet, then opened his own private store-cupboard. He lifted the bottle of firewhiskey from the top shelf. To bother with a glass seemed so unnecessary, and he prised the lid from the bottle without the aid of magic. He drank half the bottle in one go, then set it down on the table, just as the insufferable Argus Filch walked in.

"Severus," he nodded, curtly. "I was going to mop the floors, but it looks like they've already been done.."

"Yes," Severus retorted bluntly, hoping that Filch would just leave. But no, instead the caretaker pulled out one of the stools and sat himself down.

"Drinking, are we, Severus?" he questioned, an eyebrow raised. "The night before term starts again?" He coughed; a wheezy, raspy sound, without moving his hand to cover the spray of phlegm and saliva, leaving Severus feeling more than a little disgusted.

"Well.." Severus managed almost to smile; a malingering, cold twist of his mouth, "You know how the students can be.."

"Indeed," Filch nodded, and added almost angrily, "Those Weasley twins...Frank and John? I'll be ready to hang them before the month is out.." Severus rolled his eyes, he'd been forced to hear one of Filch's rants against the Weasley twins too many times before. Filch didn't appear to notice this, and he continued, "Yes, I've been planning some awful detentions for those brats already.. Something tells me they won#t have turned over a new leaf over the Summer.." He chuckled to himself, as Severus swallowed another mouthful of firewhiskey. Argus paused, and frowned, "I heard that Harry Potter is starting this year?"

Severus nodded, confident his expression revealed no emotion on the subject. "Yes, he'll be joining us for his first year tommorow."

"I'll bet he's as bad as the rest of them," Filch said, his voice thick with resentment. "Probably worse. An arrogant, spoiled brat with misconceptions of how great he is. There's no way fame can have been good for the boy.."

Severus felt an urge to argue with Filch, to defend Lily Evans' son. "He grew up with muggles," he said, slowly. "Didn't know he was a wizard, let alone that he was famous.. He'll be like every other bewildered mud- muggle born. I think he needs to be treated exactly the same as the rest of them..." He polished off the last of his firewhiskey, trying to remember what he could of Petunia Evans, Lily's jealous, bitter sister...The boy couldn't have been treated favourably by her... He stood up. "Well, Argos, as much as I enjoy our conversations, it is getting late, and I have an early morning.." And with that he left.

His room, too, was located in the dungeons, but he ensured the fire was always lit, and the room was warm. He liked his room to be comfortable, he liked having his own private space. Once again, he found his mind drifting uncomfortably back to the subject of the first year due to arrive tommorow. Lily Evans' son; a link to the girl he continued to love. But so too was he Potter's son, and a link to the man he would always loathe, even in death. Dumbledore had told him of the boy's upbringing, how the muggles had resented his presence in their family, the abuse he'd suffered at their hands. Petunia must be just as he could remember, still angry that she wasn't a witch. He thought about the boy - Harry. He was an orphan. 'I wonder if he misses his parents,' Severus thought, and then realised that of course the boy did. And he drifted off to sleep with the thought that Harry Potter would be the one person who would share in his grief for Lily Evans...

The Great Hall was filled with the sounds of a couple of hundred pupils, excited by their return after the Summer. Their innane, mindless chatter grated on Severus almost as much as the presence of Madam Norris in the castle. He sat at the the front of the hall, staring down at the the four tables ahead of him with contempt. Beside him sat Professor Quirell, returned to Hogwarts after several years, complete with a turban and the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts. Severus didn't trust him, not one bit, a concern he'd already expressed to Dumbledore. His anxieties were cast aside, and Severus knew there was no way he would ever voice the real reason for his suspicions... How could he ever explain to anyone that whenever he was in Quirell's presence, he felt a curious tingling sensation where the faded tattoo on his arm lay..?

There was a sudden silence in the hall - the first years were to be sorted. Severus looked down at them.. The impossibly pale haired boy had to be Lucius' son, and the ginger one a Weasley. The boy on the end bore a striking resemblance to Pericles Goyle - at any rate he seemed of much the same stature. And then, Severus saw him. Facing away from him, and talking to the Weasley boy was a mass of dark messy hair, on a thin, scrawny body, and there was no mistaking the fact that this boy had to be the son of James Potter. And the boy turned around, it was like seeing his adversary all over again, there was Potter, staring right at him. Severus tried to hide his fury, but he hadn't imagined how much the boy would remind him of his tormentor.

Except for one thing. In the briefest second when they'd made eye-contact, he'd seen Lily's bright green eyes staring up at him, and Severus knew that no matter how much he resented Potter, there would always be that loyalty there.

Severus watched attentively as Potter placed the Sorting hat on his head, he noticed those eyes flicker over to the Slytherin table, and how the boy muttered something under his breath. Was Lily's son about to placed in Severus' on house? He wasn't sure if that was the outcome he wanted. But no, barely a few seconds later the Hat shouted out, "GRYFFINDOR." Of course the son of Lily Evans and James Potter would be in Gryffindor. The son of Lily Evans and James Potter. There names were forever linked in Severus' head. The one he'd loved, and the one he'd loathed. And he despised this Potter too, this miniature version of his father. But as he saw Lily behind Potter's eyes yet again, Severus made a promise, both to himself, and to Lily. "I'll protect him," he vowed. "I'll do what I can to look after him. For you, Lily."

For Lily. Everything Severus would do was for Lily.

Thanks for reading!