Eclipse of the Soul is a completed work, but I can only manage to post about one chapter a day (there are about 22 in all). This saga is a Snarry but it takes a little while to get there as I wanted to develop Harry and Severus' relationship as realistically as possible (on the premise that the journey of hatred to love doesn't happen overnight). All rights belong to JKR and the gang. Thank you for stopping by, SHaria.

A Chance Encounter

The din of merriment from the celebration in the Great Hall echoed in the nearby areas of the castle, but on the third floor, at the end of a long corridor, it was blessedly silent.

After having made the mandatory appearance at the Leaving Feast, Severus Snape went to Professor Vector's office to leave a note regarding their planned tandem classes for the following school year.

He finished his note and tossed the quill on the desk, leaned back in the old creaking wooden chair and sighed as he reflected upon the school year that had just come to a close – and what a year it had been, intolerably long and infinitely frustrating.

Snape thought about all that had taken place: the interference by the Ministry and how Dolores Umbridge had wracked havoc upon the lives of the students and Professors but the Fates had taken care of the matron toad, using the Centaurs as their tool to deliver justice. That small victory was sweet and Severus indulged himself with a smirk of satisfaction. But his smile vanished as his thoughts moved onto the other individual who had been visited by the three ladies of destiny, Sirius Black.

That death left Snape at odds. To some degree he felt vindicated for a past injustice but at the same time he felt disquieted. For even though the cruel trick that Black had played on him all those many years ago warranted justice, death seemed to be a rather heavy price to pay.

Snape then considered the fiasco that had just transpired at the Ministry. Potter had raced off like a typical Gryffindor - all courage and no forethought. The mutt had been no better. Both he and his godson, with their foolish recklessness, had played right into the Dark Lord's hand.

The boy had always vexed Snape; even so, the fact that the brat had witnessed this death had left a small bit of pity in the strangled heart of the Potion Master.

His mind moved on to what was undoubtedly the most unbelievable event of all - the possession.

What must it have felt like, Potter's connection to the Dark Lord? And what insights might he have gained? And the fact that he survived intact, of course 'intact' could only be considered in relative terms. Yet still, Snape was greatly intrigued and perhaps a bit envious. If so much enmity didn't exist between him and the boy, he would have entertained the thought of asking the young wizard to describe his impressions and recollections.

The sudden intrusion of voices from the adjoining room disrupted Snape's musings. He recognized the participants in the conversation and closed his eyes in dread. DearMerlin,not...him.

The door that separated the office from the classroom was ajar and Snape pondered what he should do, close it or move closer to get a better look? He settled for staying seated and listened.

"Anyway - it doesn't matter - Sirius won't care if it's unusual, he'll come back, I know he will!

"He will not come back. He will have ... gone on."

"What d'you mean, 'gone on'? Gone on where? Listen - what happens when you die, anyway? Where do you go? Why doesn't everyone come back? Why isn't this place full of ghosts? Why - ?"

"I cannot answer."

"But you're dead, aren't you? Who can answer better than you?"

"I was afraid of death," said Nick. "I chose to remain behind. I know nothing of the secrets of death, Harry, for I chose my feeble imitation of life instead. I believe learned wizards study the matter in the Department of Mysteries …"

"Don't talk to me about that place!"

"I am sorry not to have been more help. Well ... do excuse me ... the feast, you know..." **

Snape closed his eyes and wished he'd not heard this conversation. The timbre of the dialog and the desperation in Potter's voice had disrupted the quiet placidity of his previous musings. Even so, the intensity between the young wizard and the ghost sparked the spy's curiosity, so he stood and moved silently toward the door.

The unnerving sight that greeted him convinced Snape that he should have stayed seated at the desk.

Potter stood motionless on the opposite side of the room as he stared fixedly at the place in the wall through which Nick must have just disappeared. His obvious devastation was displayed with blatant clarity in the look on his face. After a moment, his entire frame began to shake as he succumbed to his grief and sank to his knees.

"Sirius, I'm so sorry," the boy cried out. "I never should have ..." He tried again, "It was all my fault that …" Harry's sobs made it nearly impossible for him to speak.

He cried for the longest time. At one point, he reached out his hand to better support himself as he trembled with grief but the instant he touched the classroom wall, the castle began to shake.

Snape's eyes widened with astonishment that a mere touch from Potter's hand could cause Hogwarts to shake on its very foundation. But even more remarkable was the casual manner in which the boy withdrew his hand to end to the tremors, as if this were an everyday occurrence.

Harry continued his mournful lament for Sirius: apologizing, expressing all they could have shared, and giving voice to all the 'what ifs'.

Eventually his crying ceased and, after what seemed like an eternity to Snape, he stood and made his way to the classroom door, wiped away his tears and assumed a determined expression.

The classroom had been his only private place to mourn, to be just Harry, who missed his Godfather terribly and berated himself for the horrible mistake he'd made. But now he had to lay down his anguish, leave his humble sanctum and return to the school, return to being the 'Boy Who Lived'.

Harry wrenched open the door, squared his shoulders and quickly departed the classroom.

Snape stood in place as he stared across the now empty classroom.

For some reason, this incident disturbed him more than he cared to acknowledge. He had always assumed that the smug expression Harry wore was one of defiance, but he had been wrong. He now understood that it was a shield, a barrier of sorts, worn like a suit of armor to protect what was apparently a vulnerable and injured young man.

And as Snape stared at the now empty room, memories of his own childhood and of someone very dear to him started to surface in his mind. He hadn't thought of Rosa in many years and the emerging image of her face caused him to tremble.

"No!" he called out. "I will not think about these things!"

He pushed the unwanted memories and awareness back down to that little dark corner of his soul, where he had kept it buried for a long, long time. Then, after a few steadying breaths, Severus walked out into the empty classroom and gazed at the spot where Harry and the ghost had been.

For all his years of spying, the conversation between this teenager and ghost had unsettled him, far more so than any interaction with his fellow Death Eaters or even the Dark Lord himself.

Author's notes:

***Direct quote from pages 861-862 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (American edition).