A/N: Harry sixth year, after OotP. H/G, R/Hr, PG-13 rating.
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Albus Dumbledore sat at his desk and contemplated his thoughts swirling in his Pensieve. They looked particularly stormy today as he worried about the path his plans were taking. There were so many things that could go wrong.
He was waiting for his friend. He considered the man a friend, although he was difficult to get close to. Dumbledore sighed. The man had traveled a difficult journey, and although Dumbledore had good news for him today, the journey was about to get more difficult.
A quiet knock came at his door. "Enter, please," Dumbledore said, putting his Pensieve aside.
Severus Snape entered the room and stood respectfully in front of the desk. "You wanted to see me, Headmaster?"
"Yes, Severus," Dumbledore said, smiling at Snape. "Thank you very much for coming. Please sit down."
"How may I be of service?" Snape could not keep the curiosity out of his voice as he took a seat.
Dumbledore paused, gathering his thoughts. "I have been surreptitiously observing young Mr. Potter."
Snape waited silently, his face a mask.
"I believe his adult powers have begun to manifest themselves. I have run a few subtle tests, and the results concern me," said Dumbledore.
"Is he not what you expected? Prophecies have been known to be wrong before," Snape said smoothly, failing to keep the sneer out of his voice.
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "No, Severus, you misunderstand. I find myself concerned because his powers are growing at an alarming rate. With all the events of the last year, combined with his normal puberty, I am concerned that he will not be able to control them."
Snape eyes narrowed, his mind calculating. "How does this concern me?" he asked quietly.
Dumbledore smiled. "That brings me to the second order of business. Severus, as you well know, I have been reluctant to give you the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. I am certain you have guessed that my reluctance has been due to putting you too close to the, er, temptations of the subject. However, we do not live in normal times, and the students must be prepared for the coming war. In short, I need you to teach your best subject.
"Congratulations, and I hope you will accept this new post." Dumbledore waited for Professor Snape's response.
Snape looked stunned, but recovered quickly. "Thank you, Headmaster. I accept the position."
"Excellent!" Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled. "A toast to your new position," he said as he pulled out a bottle and two glasses.
They drank the toast silently. Snape began to get up, but Dumbledore stopped him. After a pause, Dumbledore said, "Severus, I must warn you not to take Mr. Potter lightly. He is our only hope for defeating Voldemort. It is imperative that he learns to control his emotions. I would never presume to tell you how to teach your classes. I will only suggest that you handle him a bit more… delicately than perhaps you have in the past."
Snape's face closed down, and he made no comment.
Dumbledore grew pensive, as he laced his fingertips and gazed over the steeple at Snape. "Severus, I predict that sometime this year, his powers will surpass even my own."