Monday morning dawned gloomy with a trace of rain in the distance, Harry scanned out across the Forbidden Forest, watching the fuzzy shapes of clouds that were dropping rain. This was one of those days he remembered from the Dursleys', when he had longed for sun - just to be outside. Days that he'd spent curled in the cupboard without so much as a book, straining to hear the tele through the closed door. He'd rather have been sweating, doing some honest work on the roses, or mowing the lawn, or weeding. Anything, rather than being stuck inside.
He'd managed to wake up before everyone else, and so, lacking a better plan, he'd changed. Staring outside, he asked himself, Are you a wizard or not?
And so, out he went, into the misty muggy morning. With a simple water charm to repel most of the rain, he had fun jumping in puddles and otherwise acting like he was about five years old.
Hey, he'd never done it the first time, had he? Splashing mud everywhere, listening to the water dripping off Hagrid's hut, just inhaling the deeply wet air. It felt so much more freeing than being indoors.
How had he not done this before?
One of the numerous gates of Hogwarts opened, catching his ear as it gave an unused squeal.*
Harry turned, to see the long, lanky form of Severus Snape entering the grounds. Only...
Snape was leaning his full weight on the door, and it only slowly started to close, his breath coming out in a relieved sort of sigh as his eyes closed. The door closed with an audible shunk.
Which is a good thing, as for a moment, I'd thought of helping.
Snape stood, and tottered like a half-spun top, moving towards Hogwarts castle. It was a far cry from his usual striking glide.**
Not wanting to be caught staring, Harry Potter picked up a stick and started to balance it on his cupped hand, the length of it making it difficult to not have it fall completely off. After Snape had passed, Harry cast a quick Tempus, Time for breakfast! With feet as sure as a mountain goat's, he took off towards a different door than Snape was angling towards.
Harry'd been trying not to question - just observe, use his eyes first, and then his brain. That works, however, only as long as you can observe something. Heading towards the Great Hall, Harry had to wonder, What had happened to Snape? Was Tom Riddle displeased? If so, why didn't Malfoy or Harry know about it?
*Snape's not using the front gates, which are humongous. He's using a postern, which is much more reasonable for one person.
**it's striking, in that it's firm and decisive, but it's a glide - he touches first with his toes, and then with his heels, and always, always as silent as possible.
[a/n: I like this chapter. Harry has to remind himself that he's not supposed to be helping the Head of Slytherin House, not for love or money.
Snape's of course aware that Harry's outside, but doesn't see all that much point to yelling without an audience.