Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling; various publishers including, but not limited to, Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books; and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

A/N: Here ya go! Another chapter recently beta'd by the fabulous Aurilia.

Chapter Three: Snape

The first few days of class, Harry and Ron were late twice; once to transfiguration, and once to herbology. After being late the second time, Harry mentioned to Ron that they should spend a couple of hours each night exploring the castle, at least until they had a better idea of where everything was. Neville, Dean, and Seamus soon joined them.

On Friday, Harry took a seat in the Great Hall between Seamus and Dean and across from Ron and Neville. "What we got today?" he asked between bites of sausage.

"Double potions with the Slytherins," Neville replied, looking at the schedule.

"Isn't that Snape fellow the head of Slytherin house?" Dean asked, pouring some honey into a bowl of oatmeal.

Harry nodded, "Yeah, he is. Wonder what his classes will be like?"

Ron shuddered melodramatically, "Fred and George said he's the absolute worst teacher here, that he favors the Slytherins and hates Gryffindors so much that he'll take points for breathing."

"Somehow, I doubt that," Harry said. "He's not the most likable guy I've met, but he didn't seem all that bad. Could ya pass the syrup?"

Neville handed the small syrup pitcher to Harry. "I don't know about any of this. I just wish we had Herbology again today."

"That's just 'cause you like plants too much, Nev," Harry teased. "You remind me of my friend A.J. She's got a thing for plants, too. Mom loved it when she found out, though. Mom knows a lot about plants, says she learned it from her mom, an' 'til A.J. showed an interest, I though Mom was gonna try an' cram all her knowledge inta me."

The boys laughed a little and finished their breakfasts. Luckily, their explorations had paid off, and they located the potions classroom without too much difficulty. It would have been creepy enough just by virtue of being in the dungeons, but the creepy factor had been multiplied tenfold with the addition of slimy things floating in jars. Harry was pretty sure the one was a fetal pig – they'd dissected one in his TAG class the year before.

Like the rest of the teachers, Professor Snape began by taking roll-call. He paused when he reached Harry's name. "Ah… Mr. Brewer. Our new… celebrity." Alarmed at his tone, Harry reached out with his empathy. He was glad to see it was actually working like the book had said it should. The professor was slightly amused, and had a hint of a mischievous tint behind his scowl.

Draco Malfoy and his goons sniggered behind their hands and Harry suddenly realized that Professor Snape was playing some sort of elaborate game. There's more goin' on here than I know 'bout, Harry thought while Snape finished roll-call.

"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion making," he addressed the class at large. "As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death. That is, if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."

Total silence followed this speech, which Harry was pretty sure the professor gave to all his first year classes. He shot a reassuring look at Ron. Ron merely looked a little confused and slightly intimidated. Hermione, who was sitting just in front of Harry, was on the edge of her seat. Since Harry had yet to pull back his empathy, he could tell she felt insulted by the professor's assumption that she was a dunderhead.

"Brewer!" Snape said suddenly, causing no few of the students to jump. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Harry cast his mind back over to reading the potions books during the summer. "I think it's a sleeping potion, sir, but I don't recall which one." Hermione's hand was in the air even before Harry had finished his answer.

The corner of Snape's mouth twitched almost imperceptibly. Harry felt that Snape was impressed that he'd managed to remember as much as he had. "Correct. It is known as the Draught of the Living Death. If one drinks it, their heartbeat and other vital signs slow to the point where only a highly-trained mediwitch is able to detect that they are, indeed, still among the living.

"Next question, Brewer. Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"

Harry knew this one! In fact, the professor had shown him how to collect bezoars from his goat while he was visiting over the summer. "The stomach of a goat, sir," he replied, "It's an almost-universal anti-poison." If he wasn't already sure that the professor was playing with him, that question would have cinched it. He still didn't know why, and made a mental note to ask when class was over with.

"Showing off, Brewer? Fine," Snape's scowl deepened, and had Harry not been continually using his empathy on the professor, he would likely have been a little nervous at the expression. "What are the differences between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

It took all of Harry's acting ability to keep his grin from surfacing on his face, he'd not even had to learn that one from the books! His mom had taught him about monkshood. "You mean aconite, sir? Last I checked, they're the same plant." Several of the students tittered at that, however Snape wasn't pleased. At least, he didn't appear pleased, though Harry felt approval aimed his direction by the potions master.

"Two points from Gryffindor for your cheek, Brewer, though the answer is correct," Snape looked around the room. "Well? Why are none of you taking notes? And put your hand down, infernal child." The last comment was aimed at Hermione, who lowered her hand as if slapped.

The rest of potions class didn't go much better than the first portion. In Harry's opinion, Professor Snape was being unreasonably harsh to the Gryffindors, in addition to being overly lenient to the Slytherins. They were assigned to work in pairs on a simple potion to cure boils. Snape stalked around the classroom while they weighed dried nettles, crushed snake fangs, and stewed horned slugs. He criticized nearly everyone, Slytherin and Gryffindor alike, but no harsh words were aimed at Draco Malfoy. Harry wondered why. He was still using his empathy to track the teacher, and could tell that Snape wasn't really any happier with Malfoy's potion than he was with Hermione's.

Harry was just about to give in to his curiosity, consequences be damned, when clouds of acid green smoke and a loud hissing filled the dungeon. Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus' cauldron into a twisted blob, and their potion was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in people's shoes. Within seconds, the whole class was standing on their stools while Neville, who had been drenched in the potion when the cauldron collapsed, moaned in pain as angry red boils sprang up all over his arms and legs.

"Idiot boy!" snarled Snape, clearing the spilled potion away with a wave of his wand. "I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?" Neville could only whimper in reply. "Take him to the hospital wing," Snape spat at Seamus before rounding on Harry and Ron. They had been working at the table next to Neville and Seamus. "You, Brewer, why didn't you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he would make you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That's another three points you've lost for Gryffindor, and I expect to see you after class."

More certain than ever that Snape was up to something, Harry closed his drooping jaw with an audible click and ground out a suitably angered, "Yes, sir."

Ron looked as though he wanted to argue with the potions master, but Harry caught his eye as the teacher stalked away. "Don't, Ron. Something's going on. I dunno what, but I intend ta find out."

Ron nodded, "If you say so, Harry. Don't worry too much about the points. It's less than Fred and George lose in any given day from any of the teachers. I don't think anyone else in the house will even notice the difference."

In truth, the house points were the last thing on his mind. He and Ron returned to their potion, finishing it up and bottling it. They had just finished cleaning up their workstation – not that there was a whole lot to do, as Harry had been cleaning up as they worked, just like any time he helped his mom or cooked – when the bells rang to signal the end of class. Ron and Dean paused at the door long enough to give Harry sympathetic glances before heading for the Great Hall and their waiting lunch. When they were safely out of earshot, and the classroom suitably empty, Harry spun on his heel to face Snape. "Pardon the language, sir, but what the hell is going on?" Harry didn't shout it, but it was a near thing. "You're up ta somethin' an' it involves that Malfoy boy, I know it."

Snape calmly sat on the edge of his desk, looking through the bottles of potions that had been handed in. He nonchalantly aimed his wand at the door and murmured an incantation Harry couldn't quite hear. "Indeed, Mr. Brewer, I am, as you so aptly put it, 'up to something.' Firstly, though, I had a question for you: Why are you not in Slytherin where you belong?"

Harry snorted, "I belong there 'bout as much as sunblock belongs on a bat. I mean, you know Draco, right? Runty little weasel, spouts off at the mouth to folks he ought not ta?"

Snape shrugged, "Perhaps you have a point, though I was unaware one could tell the Sorting Hat 'no' to the house in which it wished to place a student."

"Mayhap no one thought ta argue with it before," Harry replied, leaning against one of the work tables. "But you were 'bout ta explain what was goin' on in class…?"

"Indeed." Snape sat the bottle he was inspecting down on the tray on his desk. "What do you know of the Dark Lord?"

Harry sighed, "More than I want to – hell, you an' Dumbledore were who told me 'bout him, iffen y'all forgot! – but I 'spect it's less than I'm gonna end up with. You don't think he's really gone for good, do ya?"

Snape merely shook his head. "No, Mr. Brewer, I did not forget and I do not believe he is 'gone for good.' However, it is not simply an assumption or conjecture on my part. There is evidence he was not banished for good, if one knows where to look."

"Why're ya tellin' me?" Harry asked, honestly curious. "I know that somehow I was the reason behind him disappearin', but…" Suddenly the prophesy from his father's letter surfaced in his mind. He sat down, rather heavily, on a nearby stool. "It's 'bout that prophesy, ain't it?"

Snape's gaze narrowed at the question, "How do you know about that?"

Harry took a deep breath and slowly released it. "When Mom an' Uncle Dave took me ta Diagon, we went ta Gringotts, an' I signed a bunch of paperwork namin' Mom an' Dad as my guardians. We got to visit one of the vaults, an' I found a really cool trunk. It had this room inside it, an' sittin' on the desk was a letter from my father. The prophesy was one of the things he talked 'bout."

Snape raised a hand to his temple as though he had a headache. "Yes, the prophesy does have something to do with what I wanted to discuss, but you were not to have known about it…" he trailed off. "We will speak again, Brewer, once I have thought this through some more. Go to lunch."

Rather disappointed that none of his questions had been answered, Harry headed to the meal. When Ron asked him what the 'slimy git' wanted, Harry quickly made up a story of being lectured for showing off and inattentiveness to his classmates, mentally thanking the professor for the plausible and ready-made excuse.

A/N2: Thanks for taking the time to read this figment of my rather quirky imagination. It makes me feel better to know that it's at least a little enjoyable for others.