Note: I do not own anything other than the story line and my own thoughts. Yes, some ideas may not seem original, but that doesn't seem to be something new in fanfiction. Writing that is in italics is parselspeech. If any other distinctions become needed I will make a note of it. I started writing this out of boredom and it took four pages before typing handwritten. I hope you enjoy and I will continue it as soon as I can.
'He can't be that bad or he wouldn't be a teacher.' Harry took a deep breath and took a hold on his courage. It wasn't long since Halloween and things weren't going as well as he had hoped. Ron had turned into a bully since the train; it had nearly gotten a classmate killed. On top of that behavior he didn't seem to care about his school work, which meant Harry had little time to get better grades than Ron. While Hermione was now a friend, she had some serious problems. She wasn't as helpful as she thought, quite possibly due to her belief that books held the answer to everything. If that wasn't enough she also seemed to worship those in authority, which was downright annoying. 'I mean, even I know not everyone, much less every adult, can be trusted. So far, I haven't found even one that could be.'
What Harry had failed to realize as he walked was just how close he had been to the dungeons when he got lost in thought. His original path had been the potions classroom in hopes of Professor Snape being there, but he now found himself lost in the depths of the castle. He stopped and took a look around, hoping in vain that he would recognize something. As he gazed around he heard a faint hiss that was nearly too quiet to make sense of.
"What is this? A little lion among the snakes?" A man in a portrait seemed to be speaking with a bit of a hiss. As the man saw Harry frown in confusion at the words and not the language he looked directly at the boy. "Oh my. My, my, my. Does the little lion understand old Salazar? Well child, do you understand me or not?"
'Hmm, what should I answer? This does seem like a portrait of Slytherin. He could tell me where I am.' He sighed and nodded his head slowly. "Yes Sir, I understand you. May I ask where I am? I got lost on my way to find Professor Snape." He looked hopeful up at the portrait as he waited for a reply. He wouldn't be averse to begging if it would help him find his way back to relative safety.
Salazar looked the child over slowly. He looked like a Potter, yet he seemed too small to be – at least – 11 as his robes and house crest showed. He tilted his head, considering the boy and his options. 'Odd, I'd swear he has my eyes. Come to think of it, I don't recall any potters with hair quite that dark. If wonder if there might be some distant relation.' He gave a gentle smile to the boy. "I don't have any paintings to move through in this area or I would lead you out of here. However, I can go to a painting in Professor Snape's office and let him know where you are. If you can wait here I can go tell him to bring you back to the safety of the castle proper. Would that be alright young one?"
Harry nodded quietly as he moved to sit with his back to a wall to wait. Honestly, he knew the professor would lead him back even if he took points or assigned a detention. He was scared where he was and the professor could lead him back to safety. 'Surprising how the thought of being around Professor Snape can make me feel safe. Maybe I can find an adult to trust after all.'
Severus Snape sat at his desk just staring at the papers he should be grading. The last Halloween was stuck on his mind. He had been angered that his snakes were sent to where the troll should have been; even Sprout hadn't been too thrilled about sending her puffs even half that distance into danger. What really got to him though was the fact that Lily's son had been in so much danger while he had gone to try and keep anyone from getting the stone. 'I may think the boy looks like Potter Sr., but something doesn't seem, well quite right with him. He doesn't even look like an 11 year old should; too short and too thin for his age. And those eyes! Lily's eyes… the boy had her eyes.' He sighed; it was a bit too late for any kind of friendship to even form between them now. The way he had been told – ordered – to treat the boy had caused so much damage. He held his head in his hands, letting out a small whimper. 'Damn Quidditch! Damn it to hell!' he had been so close to losing Lily's boy he just couldn't handle it. He tugged on his hair and took a deep breath. When he looked up he caught Salazar staring at him from the only painting allowed in his office. He raised an eyebrow questioningly and waited a moment. "Well Sal, what is it you want? Must be something." Oh how this talk would change so many things.
'Odd, I've never seen Severus actually upset before. Well, aside from when Lily died anyway. Should talk a bit then before sending him to the Potter child.' Salazar sent him a small frown. "What is wrong child? You seem upset?" It was hard to watch Severus hurt so visibly. The man was always so in control of his feelings that he showed so few, most of what he did being an act, or from utter annoyance.
"I was thinking of Lily's son Harry. He was attacked protecting a girl who I think is a friend now. There was an attack by a troll on Halloween and somehow that led to him going to a girl's bathroom and knocking out a troll. Then days later he gets cursed while riding his broom in a damn Quidditch match of all things. I barely kept him on his broom. I promised Lily I would protect him and I can't seem to do that right. I'm failing Lily and her son…" He took several deep breaths to try and calm himself; after all, getting upset wouldn't do any good at all.
"I wonder if there was more between them than I thought." He switched back to English and looked to Severus. "Well, Severus I can see why you would be upset. However, I don't think things are quite as bad as you think them to be. You still have a chance to protect him from more than you know if what I suspect is true. The boy is lost at the moment, but safe where he is. I will tell you where to find him but we need to do some talking first before I tell you where he is. So just sit back down and take some deep breaths, he isn't hurt or in any immediate danger." He took an absent breath – not that it mattered being a portrait – while thinking about where to start. He smiled at the worried look on Severus's face. Yes, things would work well.