Summary: Dumbledore and Snape have a conversation about Harry. Drabble-ish one-shot. Set during Order of the Phoenix.
A/N: Snape is a Legilimens and an Occlumens. In this story, the Occlumens aspect is more significant. The conclusion that Snape and Dumbledore reach about Harry isn't canon necessarily, but it's an idea that is appealing to me. I'm playing with it in another, longer fanfic and wanted to try it out in a one-shot. Hope you enjoy! Please review!
"How is he doing, Severus?"
Snape stood stiffly before the Headmaster's desk, his arms crossed and his lips thin. Albus merely smiled blandly at him.
"You know as well as I, Albus, that the boy is as incompetent as a garden slug," replied Snape.
The Headmaster's smile dropped a little as he peered over his half-moon spectacles at the Potion's Master. "Harry is not as incompetent as you make out," he whispered, "which I must admit to being tired of telling you. He is not incompetent at –"
"Oh, his raw power is unarguably strong," said Snape dismissively, waving a hand and finally taking a seat in the chair across from Dumbledore. "His utilization of said power is abysmal."
Dumbledore merely looked at him for a moment with his fingers steepled. Then he cleared his throat gently and asked, with that damnable twinkle in his eye, "How is he doing with Occlumency, Severus?"
Snape arched one fine black eyebrow. "His mind is weak, Albus. He seems to not even know how to begin to form defenses. He ignores everything I say and refuses to practice clearing his mind at night like I tell him to." He paused momentarily, and then continued with such a pinched voice that it appeared he was having great difficulty speaking. "However, the boy shows talent at expelling me physically once I have entered his mind."
"He is capable of using spells, often unconsciously, to not only expel me from his mind, but to reverse the process of Legilimency," admitted Snape through clenched teeth, as if every word was being dragged from his mouth.
Dumbledore sat back in his chair. "Is that so?"
"Regrettably," replied Snape promptly.
Dumbledore raised a hand to his beard. He sat there thoughtfully for several long moments with a tiny smile on his face. "Hmmm…"
Snape's lip curled. "I know what you are thinking, Albus, but he simply –"
Dumbledore smiled triumphantly. "He's a natural Legilimens."
"- can't be," concluded Snape. He blinked. "What?"
"Harry is a natural at Legilimency," said Dumbledore. "What were you trying to say?"
"That there is no possible way Potter could secretly be good at Occlumency," responded Snape. He sat back in his chair as well. "Legilimency, however. Now that's interesting."
Dumbledore's eyes glittered. "It would explain why Harry has such a hard time closing his mind. His emotions and thoughts are naturally open so that he can easily receive the emotions and thoughts of others." Dumbledore paused. "Not literally, of course."
Snape nodded. "It makes sense. Potter is quite empathetic."
"So you see, Severus," said Dumbledore jovially. "Harry isn't bad at Occlumency. It is just incredibly difficult for a natural Legilimens to close his mind. When you mix a natural Legilimens and a natural Occlumens, there will certainly be a clash of wills."
Dumbledore appeared very satisfied at having solved the problem. Snape glared.
"You can't expect me to keep teaching the boy now, Albus," he said. "We'll never make any progress."
"Yes," agreed Dumbledore. "The two of you will just keep circling each other. But who else is there to teach him?"
"You," suggested Snape.
Dumbledore waved his hand and laughed. "Couldn't possibly, my dear boy! Harry's mind is vulnerable to Voldemort. You know this."
Snape winced at the name but made no comment.
"You'll just have to carry on," continued Dumbledore.
"It's a bad idea, Headmaster," said Snape.
"It must be done regardless," countered Dumbledore.
Snape rose from the chair. "Fine. I will update you after each session."
"Try not to be too hard on him, Severus," said Dumbledore.
Snape paused as he reached the door. He glanced back over his shoulder, offered Dumbledore a small smirk, and left.
"Right," said Dumbledore. "This should be fun."