Mirror Images

Chapter 3

Severus Snape had informed Dumbledore of his sixth sense with Quirrell, just in case. The Headmaster was such a clever man, with a very well guarded mind, that Snape could not tell what he thought of the allegation. He knew better than to think he was being disregarded, even as Dumbledore drew patterns in a shallow sandbox on his desk.

This man had a coolness to him that the Dark Lord had rarely maintained, and he took his time to approach situations. Smartly. And privately, Snape believed if the Dark Lord was marginally more like Dumbledore, he would've been toosuccessful.

His Lord's impatience was the only thing that ever belied his relative youth.

"I may be irritated with the man and that may make me more prone to think badly, as it always does." Snape admitted. "However it remains that his behaviour is arousing my suspicions. Never have I made it secret that Quirinus irritates me, even when he held the Muggle Studies position. Now he incessantly- but also subtly- seems to seek my company despite it. A new development. There are no reasons I can fathom, Dumbledore."

"Of course Severus, I suppose it would be wise to remain alert. If anything shifts in a manner that you find troublesome, do tell." The Headmaster stopped drawing shapes in the sandbox, folding his hands neatly in front of him. "But as I recall, you mentioned another issue at hand?"

"Harry Potter," Snape said quickly, as if he couldn't remove the name from his mouth quick enough.

"You don't say," he lightly raised an eyebrow. "I've heard nothing but good about all the first years- although Neville Longbottom really does seem prone to melting things, and that Seamus Finnigan has a nasty knack for fire."

"He's been acting abnormally as well. I believe he is planning something, or has done something worth investigating."

The Headmaster regarded him without a word.

Snape shifted in his seat and continued. "I don't know precisely- "

"Severus."

"I don't know what he's planning," he stressed. "But it's certainly something. He watches me when he thinks I'm not looking and he looks inordinately guilty whenever I am near. It's suspicious."

Dumbledore tried to suppress a smile. "I don't know many who can withstand your impressive glare without baleful misery, Severus. Your ability to terrify and subdue the students is renowned, as you approach them all with a guilty verdict."

"A stance that only does good."

"For who?" The Headmaster said mildly. "But no matter. You must not be so expectant, children are easily impressed upon. They, once given an expectation, will fulfill it."

"When that boy gets himself into another death defying scenario, Headmaster, I cannot always be there."

"Interesting point."

"He shows defiant attitude," Snape continued, bristling from the brush over of Potter's odd behaviour. "Boundless arrogance, disrespect, and thinks himself above the rules. If you think that not troublesome Dumbledore, I cannot help you."

"Personally I find him to be a reserved, quiet boy. That Ron Weasley does most of the talking." the Headmaster said. "In fact I feel confident in saying he does little to nothing to indicate anything of likes you have implied. The boy is eleven, Severus." He gave a stern look over his glasses. "Should I call the Aurors right now, or wait until the delinquent's twelfth birthday? Give him some time to stew?"

Embarrassment snuck up on the Potions Master. "Headmaster-"

"You are being obvious," the man interrupted. "You are a man of no insignificant intelligence, do not embarrass me by pretending otherwise. This is odd to bring to me, and completely out of your character."

"We all know mine and yours' difference in opinion of my character," Snape said with an empty smile. He nearly found this funny, but not quite. "The boy- I was not advising to have him- he is stubborn!" He snarled. "He is flippant and has no care for the world he has such an important role in!"

"Harry was raised by Muggles. If you find him naturally unfamiliar with the Wizarding way of life, understand that. Again, stop being obvious. You are living in the past, Severus."

"I never stopped," the man hissed before jerkily standing, and defensively wrapping his cloak tight. At the very least with Albus Dumbledore you could be frank, without running the risk of a Cruciatus bout, or better yet, untimely death.

It was a luxury he didn't mind using, and the Headmaster let him leave without another word.

As he made his way down the wide stairs, his morose thoughts were distracted by a group of young boys coated in red and tacky gold-yellow. From the courtyard they were trouping in, and he saw off to the side of the group Potter himself. The others were pushing each other, laughing, but Potter immediately looked up was if sensing the eyes on him.

The boy frowned at him.

"Stop that racket!" Snape barked and the whole crowd jumped. "Get to class!" The Gryffindors scattered with a litany of "Sorry, sir!" "Yes, sir!", sufficiently cowed but sounding quite upset about it.

Only Harry Potter stood still a moment longer, his frown darkening before he too disappeared into an adjoining corridor.

The arrogance of a child, so proud- thrilled really, to show disobedience. What a remarkable example of immaturity. I know better than most, Potter, that you are partial to the devious. I will not allow you to run these halls.

With this silent vow, he continued to his own office... ignoring the sneaking tendril of concern, overwriting it as mistrust.

Harry was sure that no one in the world had worse luck than he did.

Today was Halloween, which was normally a holiday that lots of boys and girls liked. Harry never felt much about it because he'd never been allowed to go trick or treating like Dudley. He didn't really understand the concept- it was a tradition from the United States that involved knocking on people's doors and demanding sweets.

He frankly thought it was the perfect holiday for his cousin.

But this was his first holiday in the magical world of magic, and the feast looked absolutely magical. No really, it did. There were enchanted carved pumpkins that would growl menacingly or hiss and spit seeds, and the candles were of black wax that burned orange. The array of themed foods had lively bits to them that Harry didn't feel like questioning.

He'd been nearly certain the bats chittering and swooping up and down the tables were real, and then he saw Percy Weasley catch one and rip it's wing off with his teeth. It made a very suspicious crunching sound and a shriek of despair, but the Prefect looked unbothered.

Weird.

But all of this wonderful stuff was not what made Harry so sure he had terrible luck. It was the fact that he couldn't enjoy any of it, because he found out that wizards and witches don't celebrate Halloween- only muggles do.

"Blimey, what'd you think?" Ron said through a chicken leg. "This was the night you did it! You-Know-Who finally gone."

Harry felt first uncomfortable that they were all celebrating his abilities as a murderous baby, and then totally awful as he realised what it meant.

His parents had died today.

Harry had never know that, and everyone was having a grand party about the dark wizard who died. Not the people who died fighting him, like Harry's parents. They seemed to have fallen to the wayside.

So when Quirrell ran in a tizzy into the Great Hall shouting about a troll, Harry was glad to have a reason to leave the feast.

"Wait-" He tugged Ron's arm.

"What?"

"Hermione," Harry said urgently. "She doesn't know."

They shared a look of consternation, before making a break for the girl's bathrooms.

If Harry thought he had bad luck on Halloween, he was certainly about to have it proven.

"Urghhh, troll boogers." Someone laughed at that, nervous and high.

Those completely inappropriate words came from a bathroom without a door, just down the hall. Snape, McGonagall, and Quirrell had made good haste to dash over- McGonagall entering first. Not necessarily because she was faster but, well, it was the girl's bathroom.

His eyes were drawn first to the prone form of the mountain troll. Laying amongst rubble and with its thick ribs rising and falling faintly, he saw that it was unconscious, but alive.

A cursory look at the room revealed nothing more than the obvious destruction weld. Water was spurting from smashed pipes and bits of sink and toilet were everywhere. The cubicles had been crushed.

The two boys standing together looked a little tired, but not worse for wear. Their robes were filthy and ripped, but not their arms or legs or faces. An odd relief spread over Snape as he catalogued no injuries, miraculously.

They only looked nervous when Minerva demanded an explanation.

"It was my fault."

Severus gaped at Granger, who crawled out from beneath the sinks to take the blame.

What in Merlin's name could she be talking about? What could explain this away?

He glowered while Granger credited Potter and Weasley with making the best of a bad situation. They'd become trapped in the bathroom after they'd come to get her after the feast, and the boys fought back. She looked confident... which was the first sign she was lying. The girl was mess, still shivering from the attack. But suddenly as these words flowed out, she looked like all was well.

But then what was she hiding? There was indeed an unconscious mountain troll, three times the height of a man, and three unharmed first years.

Whatever else they were obscuring, these children had defeated a strong, magically-resistant creature.

Normally, Snape would have strongly disputed Minerva's lenient deduction and assignment of points. But he was too shocked to protest, and he let the matter slide. He stared at Potter and Weasley, grudgingly impressed by the boys' achievement. The children left, followed by Minerva. Snape glared at Quirrell and stalked out. If his suspicions were correct, the bloody idiot had let that creature into Hogwarts. He could bloody well get rid of it on his own!

He limped back to his House to check on his Slytherins, taking his time settling the anxious teenagers. They were instructed to enjoy the feast contained to the common room, and if anyone left, the consequence would be dire. He was glad to learn no one had gone for a jaunt in his absence. Until the dormitories quietened, and the festivities settled, Severus could be found in his private quarters.

If he was needed in emergency, the Prefects knew what portrait to alert.

After locking his door, he shuffled into his tidy lounge and eased himself into the worn leather chair by the fire.

Snape lifted his robes gently and examined the gruesome ashes on his leg. He grimaced, summoning some salves to ease the throbbing and stinging. He'd already stemmed the blood circulation but not permanently. He knew that was a matter of a healer, like Pomfrey. For now he would leave it be because he was stubborn, and didn't wish for a student to come across him in the hospital wing. Rumour of him being not entirely impervious would spread like wildfire.

He sighed heavily.

He had warned the Headmaster, hadn't he? That boy was up to no good. Nothing good could come from an attitude like his.

Raised by excessive adoration, tales of his own exploits greatly exaggerated- it was bound to lead to dangerous behaviour.

Severus Snape was rarely ever wrong.

"Hey, Hermione?" Harry called after her. She stopped on the girls' dormitory stairwell.

"Yes, Harry?"

"That was seriously awesome, what you did. Don't know what McGonagall would've done if she'd known me and Ron went in after the troll." Hermione flushed.

"Well you did it to save my life," she said shyly, coming back down the stairs to him. The fire was low but still burning as ever in the common room, giving it a warm glow. The rest of the House was bustling about, or half unconscious in a food coma. Ron had completely disappeared up to the dorms, looking to get Scabbers. No one had thought to ask them where they had been- yet. "I couldn't let you get in trouble for saving my life. What if you couldn't find a teacher fast enough?"

"Glad we did, um- that we lived and all. That you didn't die, and that we're all good now." Harry looked at her earnestly. "Ron didn't mean to be such a prat, honestly. He just forgets to think sometimes. Actually pretty often. But he's a cool guy, you'll get on."

"That'd be nice," she said slowly. "And you and I, we're friends now, right?"

No one had ever asked Harry that before. Technically he considered Ron to be his first ever friend, but they'd never talked about.

"Yeah," Harry said. "Yeah, definitely."

Hermione gave a very strong smile. "If you don't mind terribly, we could stay down here and eat together."

"Sure," Harry went to get some plates as Hermione secured a small couch just big enough for them to squeeze onto. It was more of an armchair, but it was a very big one and they were very small.

"What're you reading?" He asked politely, although he wasn't too interested. It was just that it seemed to be the only thing the girl did, and he didn't know what else to say. Weren't they supposed to be eating together? Why was she reading?

"I'm not reading," she said, but flushed again. "It's my diary, I like to write things down every day, especially if something important happened."

"Oh," Harry was embarrassed he was wrong. "That's, um. And today, especially? Lots to write down today."

"Oh yes," she said, dipping a quill in an inkstand on the side table. "I'll start eating in just a moment, but I want to do this while the memory's all fresh."

"Does it help?" Harry asked curiously. "When you write stuff down, does it help you remember or something?"

Hermione put on a thoughtful face. "Sort of. It's most useful for understanding stuff about yourself, and the things that happen to you. It's also helpful when you need to go back to something that's happened before, or a specific moment you can't really remember."

"I guess that's pretty cool," Harry said, completely truthfully.

She gave him a sideways look, but eventually seemed to take him at his word. She started frantically scratching at the journal with her quill before absentmindedly saying, "You know, you should try it."

"A diary?" Harry said skeptically. "I think that's for girls, isn't it?" Hermione huffed, but saw Harry didn't sound condescending, only confused.

"You don't have to call it a diary," she said. "You can call it whatever you like... journal, or um, a log."

"A log?"

"A log, like a thing that you fill out," she said.

"Scabbers' been hiding in the fifth year's dorms," Ron said grouchily, having approached from behind. "Missing Percy, it seems."

"Hi, Ron," Hermione said, considerably more timid.

"Hey, Hermione," Ron said offhandedly. "Can I have your biscuit, Harry?"

"This is the last biscuit."

"I'll just levitate it, then-"

Harry lunged away from the other boy, wide grins on all three of their faces- the girl curled on the armchair, too.