Author's Note: Enjoy, everyone! This was inspired by an email a friend sent to their professor. Takes place during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Enjoy! ~ RK

Sluggish Memory

Harry stared at the infamous shelf of Professor Slughorn's prized former students, and could not help the question that slipped out when he saw a picture of his mother, the professor and some other boy, who looked vaguely familiar. "Professor," he said, getting the man's attention. "Who is that boy?"

Slughorn walked over to stand beside Harry and squinted at the photo that Harry was pointing at hesitantly. He smiled as he recognized one of his favorite students, and one of his best potions students. The picture moved to show the young redheaded Gryffindor smile prettily as she raised a tiny potions bottle. Haryy recognized it.

"Do you always give Felix Felicis as a prize?"

Slughorn nodded. "Very tricky to make."

"Like Draught of Living Death."

"Yes. And your mother, Lily, lovely Lily, and that young man were the very first pair to get it right…though he missed class the very next day. Strange." Slughorn got a strange expression as his voice trailed off.

"And…" Harry continued, having a sneaky suspicion as to the young man's identity with each passing moment, even though his face was never angled to the camera, "who is that young man, sir?" He watched as his mother – as a teenager – playfully shoved the stringy-haired Slytherin boy next to her, before flinging her arm around his shoulders and plastering him to her side. She must have said 'smile' to the boy, just before she looked straight at the photographer and smiled widely. The boy, meanwhile, tried to grin, but it turned out to be more of a grimace and he ducked his head in either embarrassment or shame.

Harry turned to Professor Slughorn and saw that he had a peculiar expression on his face. Like an amnesiac who was remembering only half of a memory. "Strange," Slughorn repeated.

~X~X~X~X~X~

He looked up from his desk at the sound of the knocking on his office door. "Come in." When a student of his own House – one of his very talented students – peered around the door, he recognized him immediately. "Severus, my boy!" The teenager nodded to his teacher as he came into the office. "Are you alright?"

The boy shook his head, gestured to his throat, and shook his head again. Slughorn nodded in understanding. "Lost your voice?" Severus shook his head. "Ah, a curse, then." A nod. "What can I do for you, my boy?"

Without any prompting, the young Slytherin came right up to Slughorn's desk, and held out a piece of paper. Slughorn took it and unfolded it, quickly reading it.

Professor Slughorn,

Due to unknown factors, I almost passed out today, and therefore had to go to the Infirmary instead of class today.

~ S. Snape

Slughorn refolded the note as he focused on the boy again. "Don't worry, my boy!" He got up and clapped a hand on his shoulder, nearly sending him to the ground. He steered him back towards the office door as he kept talking. "I'm sure you'll be able to catch up in no time. No potion is too challenging for you, now, is it? You or your partner, for that matter! She'll let you know what you missed, I'm sure!"

With no further ado, Slughorn half-shoved him out of his office…

…unintentionally, right into a young girl's arms.

"Oh! So sorry!"

She ignored the professor. "Sev! I was looking everywhere for you! I'm sorry they were such toerags to you and did that. But! I think I came up with something to undo it!" Slughorn ignored the fact that his Slytherin student was blushing almost as red as her necktie, while she pointed her wand at his throat and said a spell that none of them had heard before. His throat glowed white for only a moment before she asked anxiously, "Well? Did it work?"

He cleared his throat and then hoarsely replied. "Thank you."

Her smile was radiant.

Slughorn silently closed his office door and left them to have a moment. He sensed great potential there, and they were only in the beginning of their fifth year.

~X~X~X~X~X~

"Professor?"

The sound of Harry's voice brought Slughorn back to reality. "Oh, that, Harry. He was your mother's…best friend." His expression twisted into something of displeasure. "Shame, really. I thought they would've gotten much closer than that." Then, Slughorn walked away from the shelf.

Harry stared at the photo a moment longer to see the boy finally raise his head and try to smile again at the camera at his mother's gentle urging. Lily laughed, then leaned her head on his shoulder, looking extremely satisfied that he'd managed to work up a smile. He returned the gesture and leaned his head contentedly onto hers.

Despite the unusual expression, and with a mixture of confusion, fascination, and horror, Harry suddenly recognized his professor.

Severus Snape.

End Note: Harry didn't recognize Snape right away because his face wasn't visible in the picture, in case it wasn't very clear. Hope everyone enjoyed this. Leave a review and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading! ~ RK