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The welcoming feast had ended hours ago, the first years had been shown to their homes away from home, the older students had fallen into bed after catching up with their dormitory mates, and most of the professors had decided to call it a night, well aware of the early start they would have tomorrow.
Two wizards, however, had not yet succumbed to the allure of their pillows, and instead met to discuss a worrisome portent. Harry Potter had been sorted into Slytherin.
Severus Snape stood by the fire, watching it's flickering flames, his back to the Headmaster. Dumbledore sat behind his desk, his eyes locked on the back of his colleague, peering over the rim of his spectacles.
'You will remember,' Dumbledore said gravely, 'I have been here before. Tom Riddle showed many of the signs that young Harry has already displayed. Both of them were orphaned early in life. Both of them possessed a dangerous, reckless magical energy and an obsession with theft and destruction of property. This new development has not helped to allay my fears.'
Severus Snape was still as stone, his posture tense.
Dumbledore let out a weary sigh. 'Severus, I know how you feel, but I have been in this position before, and I promised myself I would not make the same mistake I made with Tom Riddle.'
When Snape spoke, his voice was devoid of emotion. 'You would kill the boy?' He laughed, sharp and mocking. 'Or I suppose you would have me do it? He is one of my students now. It would be easy to sneak into his dormitory at night and cast one silent Killing Curse. Is that what you want Albus?'
Dumbledore looked horrified. 'What I want is for Harry to be a peaceful, well-adjusted child. He is not, however, and we must deal with this, but do not think for one second that I want this Severus.'
'Have you even considered the prophecy?'
'Then how can we do it? Even if the boy is destined to become a dark wizard, how can we kill him, knowing he is the only one capable of truly ending the Dark Lord?'
'Prophecies are not set in stone,' Dumbledore explained. 'They are fickle things. I cannot leave it to chance. If we let Harry be, and he does become a dark wizard as I fear, then we will not only have to deal with Voldemort, but him as well. Can you imagine the destruction those two would wreak on the wizarding world? No, Severus, it is best we end it now. Tonight.'
'I won't do it,' Snape said emphatically.
Dumbledore opened his mouth to reply, but Snape cut him off before he could.
'You're being hasty. You think that the boy is too much of a threat, but he is still just that, a boy. We have time. You do not need to make this decision now. Wait. I beg of you. Do not do this thing now!'
'And how long would you have me wait? A week? Two? A year? When do we decide Severus? When it's too late?'
Severus Snape was silent for nearly a minute, his mind a whirl of thoughts. Finally, he spoke, his voice low and resigned. 'A year. Give the boy a year.'
'And if at the end of this year he shows no sign of hope?'
A longer silence. Dumbledore waited. Snape ground his teeth as he spoke, 'we kill him.'