He opened a drawer idly, noticing empty sweet wrappers belonging to the recently deceased Albus Dumbledore, and slammed it shut again with a pang of regret. Damn the old fool and what he had made him do to win this war. His eyes flicked up involuntarily to the ex-headmaster's portrait, but to his relief he wasn't there. Probably meddling in some other poor fool's life, he thought with a snort.
His eyes scanned the office. There was the myriad of tiny silver instruments along each work surface: the now-empty perch that once belonged to Fawkes, the phoenix, the rows upon rows of books piled high on the bookshelves, and, he noticed with a curious expression, the ragged old Sorting Hat.
Like all pupils of Hogwarts, Severus had never forgotten a single word the Hat had spoken to him all those years ago when he'd finally been Sorted into Slytherin. The Hat had deliberated for some time before making its decision, telling him he would have made a worthy Ravenclaw and, to his disgust, a formidable Gryffindor. It was only when the younger Severus had told the Hat angrily that there was only one house that would recognise his skills and talents, and he belonged to the house of his ancestors, that the Hat conceded and placed him in Slytherin. How much different would my life have been, had I been in another house, he pondered, still gazing at the Hat.
Acting on impulse, he stood and strode towards the shelves in swift, long strides. He grabbed the Hat roughly, looking closely at its frayed and ripped seams, before placing it over his head. The Hat was far smaller than it had felt on his eleven-year-old head and fitted snugly. He scowled, waiting for the Hat to speak.
"Well, well, well…" said the Hat, a slight mocking tone to its voice. "Is the head of Slytherin really doubting his position within this most noble and esteemed of houses?"
I want to know why you put me in Slytherin, if you thought I should have been in another house, Snape thought fiercely.
"Because you asked me to," replied the Hat simply.
Really? That's all? Snape felt somehow let down. He was expecting a tirade about the blackness of his heart or some other speech of his evil nature.
"Of course. It is your desire that truly defines who you are… and you desired to be Slytherin. Although, not now, curiously…"
Snape stayed silent, heart racing. He waited for the Hat to continue.
"No, nowadays your loyalty, courage and diligence overshadow your eagerness to prove yourself and gain power. In fact, I'd say there is only one house for you now..."
Snape held his breath.
"You belong in… HUFFLEPUFF!" the Hat yelled, before bursting into peals of guffawing laughter.
Snape wrenched the Hat off his head, threw it to the floor in anger and stamped on it with all his might.
Bloody thing isn't getting a song this year, he fumed before storming out of the office.
A/N: This was written in response to a conversation I had with Morgaine, who inspired this. I hold her completely responsible!