The Serpent in the mirror

Author's Note: I'm trying to get more into the Slytherin mind, and using Severus as my viewpoint… This is a series of semi connected one shots. One prompt for each of the five senses. A sort of a companion to "Doe in the Walls" but not necessary reading for that piece.

Prompts: for the future chapters

1 Scent: The First Lesson, loss

2 Taste: (subject pending)

3 Touch: Rejection, Evasion

4 Sight: Reflection, Balisk

5 Sound: Memory, history repeating itself

They weren't … inhuman. Inhumane, yes, but not inhuman.

The child cried in his arms, shaking and shivering as the first pangs of homesickness took hold, and though none would believe, none would accept, he followed the old route. As he'd done so tentatively his first year, the motion made familiar with all the years thereafter, he wound his arms about the child's shivering frame, and waited. Listening to the half choked whimpers and words spaced throughout, he did not bother to decipher the syllables, simply let them linger on his ear and waited.

The words, he'd learned long ago, didn't really matter, it was all the same.

I miss it…

The familiar…

The way home looks, the way it tastes, it's subtle melodies…

Sensations distant, half forgotten, it was more the realization of what was forgotten that triggered this … fit… than true missing.

You lose something for coming, ambition has its cost.

First Lesson, hardest learned, quickly past.

So this serpent cried into black robes, small hands fisted, sniffling and whimpering. Those fists went slack as the miasma of acid and exotically foul ingredients that had seeped into his Head of House's robes assaulted the child's nostrils.

Like all the others… (so much so he nearly smiled, but he never smiled, such indulgence was beyond him at this moment and in all others) a sniffled snort was prelude to the tearing away. The boy looked up; the man looked down, a tense moment passed.

Swiping at his eyes, the boy swallowed, his throat quivered, his face twitched with the spasms of restrained sobs, the child was fast reddening in a familiar, droll, manner. Tipping his head, almost smiling, Severus simply pulled a familiar square of white from up his sleeve.

"Wipe your face boy."

An offer made, an offer accepted.

With shaking hands the young Slytherin took the tissue and applied it to mending the no color paths etched across his face. When the child started to dab at the greenish drizzle starting from his nose did the Professor look away. He never recalled their names, only viewed the children through shades of disinterest and pragmatism. He might say their names (or familial names, as formality and station demanded) and recall their linage (death eater children or not was about as far as he took it) but one and all, none had inspired true remembrance.

When they left these halls they were... for him… forgotten.

As was he to them, surely.

"Jus' not fair…" A sniffle. "I.. I want…"

To be here and home, to have both worlds at once. He nodded, knowing, and his knowing summoned a thin grin on the child's part. Hmm, too comfortable that gaze. Too trusting.

Too Gryffindor

Best to amend that.

Face forming a familiar frown, Severus met the boy's blue eyes, almost glowering. Not quite, but almost. The child stiffened, showed some spine, as was proper for a son of the Serpent. Satisfied, Severus looked… not away, but almost.

"What brought this on?" He drawled boredom incarnate.

"In…" Near tears, doggedly not considering the boy, Severus never saw the brightening about the child's eyes, the near liquid glistening. "In the Great Hall… they were… making cookies, chocolate chip, jus' like mum usta make at..."

Ahh, well that explained enough.

Nodding Severus straightened, pulled back even as the boy (nameless, ever nameless, faceless save in his suffering were a few predominant features stood out, more tormented then the rest) smoothed his robes.

"Th..Thanks S..Sir."

A snort, casual cruelties gathered on his tongue, absent venom. He forged the offering though, swallowing the bitter mass whole with a grimace.

"Spare me your adolescent melodrama and get back to the hall. And don't make it habit to storm off alone." Snape grumbled. "Gryfindors are not known for their kindness for lone Serpents."

A blush surely, a nod certainly. Not looking, merely expecting, Severus waited.

And got what he expected, as always. "Yes sir."