Albus Dumbledore liked his office. He was surrounded by old friends and familiar objects. He could bounce ideas off of former Headmasters for advice when need be; they provided him with different perspectives, chided him when they felt he was going about his job improperly and encouraged him when the days seemed dark.
Summer was the worst. Hogwarts seemed empty without children roaming its halls. Granted, the staff needed the break just as much as the students did, to visit with family and rest their own minds. Still, Albus was never happier than he was on the first of September each year.
Tonight, he was anxious, more so than usual. The summer had been unusually quiet, which was not unexpected. He knew that Tom Riddle was probably regrouping after his failure at the Ministry of Magic. But he also knew that Tom was clever . . . and always had more than one plan. Albus suspected tonight might be the night that Tom would make his next move.
Unfortunately, he was not disappointed. Late in the night, the staircase began to spiral, and he could hear heavy footfalls making their way towards him. A dark-haired figured appeared in the doorway shortly after.
"Severus. Come in. Sit, and have some tea."
"Thank you, but no, Headmaster. There's no time for pleasantries."
"Ah. It has finally come to that, then?"
"Yes, Albus. There is no other way around it."
"Very well. We will take care of it on the morrow. He will be in Diagon Alley then. Now, please, sit and have some tea. It will do you good."
Snape obeyed the Headmaster reluctantly.
A/N: Many thanks to my betareader, Lucyjekyll, for her outstanding efforts in helping me to prepare this fic for posting.