Severus Snape strode through the empty, deserted halls of Hogwarts, returning to his office, where Potter awaited (or possibly slept, it was late at that, and as insensate as he'd been, catatonic did not equate to true rest).
It was strange, Snape thought, to wake up, blinking and bleary eyed, and discover the world had been turning while you were asleep. At least, that was the way it had felt to him, as Dumbledore had calmly asked him, "Do you think I ought to speak with him?"
And yes, it was true that Potter was no longer The Chosen One, and thus Dumbledore's interest would quite naturally wane. But...
There was a time when Dumbledore had never even considered asking what Snape thought of his relationship with Harry Potter. And, to ask it in such a way... to nearly - or maybe actually - hand the decision making off to him...
It was unsettling.
Not nerve-wracking, no. That was reserved for the niggling question (growing larger by the moment, like the worm that ate the WorldTree, bringing Gotterdamerung upon us all) of What had upset Potter so? Had Snape a ready answer, even if it was wrong, the question would have been shoved aside. And, with adolescents, easy answers were often close to hand. But... Potter hadn't a romantic relationship, nor even one "in the offing" nor stillborn even - he'd been granted the chance to take anyone he'd care to ask (and with a ready response of "to keep the Potter Mania at bay"), and he hadn't made any move at all. Nor was this the motion of someone whose interest had been caught by someone already in a relationship. Oh, Snape knew well the indulgent sighs and "woe is me" attitude of the unrequited love, that generally ended up with someone poisoned, or eyes blackened, or other inconvenient departures from Snape's usual day.
Snape sighed, and started again from the top, his feet winding their way unguided back to his office, following routes so well-worn he didn't need to think about them.
An Emotional Storm.
generally caused by unpleasant revelations... And for Potter to be so emotionally guarded, so intent on locking his emotions down...
Snape didn't like it. It didn't fit well with his own model of the boy, and Snape liked to think that he could predict Potter better than Potter knew himself...
Snape stepped back, put a different face on things. What would cause Ron Weasley to act like this? (aside from the lad's lovelife, which was obviously not the issue) Weasley had what Potter lacked - a family. And Weasley might have broken at unpleasant revelations about his parents (were there any, Snape had yet to find them. Molly might be a bull in a china shop most of the time, but she was an honest bull, even as she broke the china). Or possibly about his brothers.
Snape smirked, the look on his face devoid of humor - his eyes cold and dark. That had possibilities, Snape thought, but Potter'd already seen how shiftless his friends could be. And... besides that, Snape couldn't see any possible reason why Potter'd pull punches about his friends' betrayal.* It wasn't like it wouldn't be obvious in the morning - neither Potter nor his friends were accomplished liars, and it only took one side of a broken trust to see the breach.
No, no and no, Snape thought, considering. The Potters were dead, and the Dursleys couldn't possibly have caused this - they'd disappointed Potter too much and too early - any childhood need for approval had been promptly squashed. And the Dursleys' hadn't an owl to write Potter, besides. And if Potter was going to explode about James, he'd probably have done it last year. Might have done, even, Snape thought, whatever had happened tonight had been something extreme. Potter's general bulldogged anger built out of frustration wouldn't have done this...
Snape stopped, cocked his head to one side, as if he was hearing something through the stone walls of the dungeon corridor. Dumbledore... the old goat had always seemed to have a great fondness for the young Potter. If Dumbledore had breathed an improper word, said something he damnedly shouldn't... Snape nodded slowly, his hands curling unnoticed into fists. That, at least, would explain some reticence on Potter's part. Snape took three deep breaths, reminding himself that this was all supposition, and perhaps even less than that.
As Snape's hands loosened, he strode toward his office, feeling on firmer ground. He would do as he usually did - watch and wait. There were times for decisive motion, but they were few and far between. Perhaps, though... Snape let half a hundred paths and thoughts swirl in his head as he neared his office door. It was a good thing nobody dared read his mind, Snape thought with a hidden snarl, They'd drown in the half-done plans and the myriad paths he considered to tread.
*Snape, you're being a blinded idiot.
[a/n: No, of course Snape's not thinking this is about him and Lily. He thinks Potter knows better than to dig through Snape's past.
Snape also would comment, if he did think about that revelation, "So what? I've saved Potter's life how many times, again?"
Do leave a review - this chapter just sort of took on a life of its own. I wanted to show Snape's frustration, and I wound up with him following a false lead.
If you were Snape, what would you do?]