Chapter One

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Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter books, and I make no money of this story or any other fanfiction I have or will write.

The Dark Lord's return caused many things to change. One of these was, of course, Snape's spying duties. Surprisingly, Snape did not feel too bad about going back to the crazy man with an unhealthy interest in Potter.

For the past fourteen years, he had been unhappily teaching children who nearly peed their pants at the sight of him. It was about damn time something happened in his miserable life besides grading papers.

"I'm sorry, Severus, but we both suspected his return could not be postponed long," Dumbledore had said after the Dark Lord's return. "You knew your freedom wouldn't last long. If it was in my power, I would do anything to keep you away from him, but we need you and your skill."

Snape had nodded. Yes, he would play an important part in the war to come. Even if being the Order's spy meant constant alertness, and regular nightmares, at least he was needed.

A soft snort came from the dreary hallway. His thoughts sounded like they were from some sentimental Hufflepuff, or worse-a Gryffindor.

One thing remained the same through these hectic and worrying times: Snape still stalked the halls of Hogwarts. Some large clock in a classroom he was passing rang twice. It was officially two in the morning.

To anyone without experience, it seemed unlikely that any student would be awake during the early hours of the morning.

With tests and teachers to put up with during the day, and most of them being teenagers, the students knew sleep was vital to their daily lives-and to their survival should the Potions Professor find some fool asleep in his class.

The names the students called Snape, at least the ones he knew of, did not perturb him.

In fact, he would have loved to hear any student mock him; the possibilities for detention were endless. The dungeon floor did look grimy of late, and everyone knew that the only way to get in between the crevices was with a toothbrush.

Snape's eyebrow twitched with grim amusement.

He was the nasty old Potions Professor who was despised by many, but for reasons he was proud of.

Sometimes, one had to create fear first to get respect. Fear is nothing more than a perverse form of respect, and while the students did not respect him (except for some Slytherins), most of them feared him, even Potter to some extent.

The unmistakable sound of shoes from the landing below made Snape look down the stairs. With a smirk, he recognized that another student had decided that sleeping was beneath them.

Unsurprisingly, he saw a head of messy hair go around the corner of the hall that went under the stairs. He was momentarily disconcerted to discover that he'd seen a head-but no shoulders to connect it to.

Eyes narrowed in suspicion, Snape cast an invisibility spell on himself and descended. He doubted Potter would run if he saw his dreaded professor, but the spell helped him stay undetected for as long as he liked.

Snape liked to stay unseen and unheard when he spotted students out of bed. Although most of them were just wondering around without reason, others, like Potter, were out to cause chaos.

Even if the trouble was not caused on purpose, as the Headmaster had told Snape several times, 'it's not the boy's fault, Severus.' Snape scowled and went down the last few stairs to the third floor landing.

He rounded the corner; maybe he should put this in a Pensieve to let the man see how his sweet little boy really acted around school when he thought no one could see him....

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