(spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
It had been many years since the Hat settled its brim around the curves of this head, felt the bursting currents of these thoughts. “Why, young one, what a pleasure. Not so young, now. And a good deal sadder and wiser, I see.”
Cliché-ridden piece of cloth. The accompanying image was a very rude one.
The Hat smirked. It was rare that it spoke with humans who were not in a state of awe. “Clearly, the pleasure is all mine, Headmaster. Though I begin to wonder if I sorted you in haste. Gryffindor might have benefitted from your store of courage.”
The mind dismissed this; he was growing impatient. The Sorting is tomorrow. Take care that you do not sort any half-blood child into my House. And please control yourself--I cannot guarantee your safety if you persist in singing what will undoubtedly be viewed as sedition.
“Bold, and offensive.” The Hat sighed, knowing as well as the asker why such terms were emphasized. “None but the Four ever gave me orders, and I rarely obeyed them. Who do you think you are, Headmaster?”
The answer was wry. A concerned citizen.
“Hmm, yes.” More to it than that, even had it not been privy to . . . certain conversations. “And a keeper of secrets.”
Even from you? The longing it had seen in this child years ago was still there, the craving to do something better than all others, the leaping blaze of hope that he might have succeeded.
The Hat never lied. “Even from me, crafty one.” The boundaries of Occlumency were unfamiliar but not unrecognizable. Were it Sorting him again, were there need to breach those walls, it could be done.
But it was not necessary, and this was a gift it could give truthfully enough. "I stand by what I said the first time we met.” The Hat could feel Severus Snape waiting for the answer, and the dread in it reminded him of another child. “You’ve done extremely well in Slytherin.”
The mind went quiet then, and the Hat settled into its place on the shelf. It was good to know when a Sorting proved itself, and this one, more than most, gave it a great sense of purpose fulfilled. “You’d be pleased,” the Hat murmured, speaking to the shadows of the two, one in silvery green, the other in red gold, who had first laid their charms in its weave. “Both of you, at owning such a one.”