Snape covered his eyebrows with his hand again, and said succinctly, "You may convey my explanation to Miss Granger." With a quiet sigh that made his shoulders shake, Snape said, "Her questions will undoubtedly be better formed and easier to answer for your help, and the time to consider what aspects she truly doesn't understand."
"Could I...?" Harry Potter asked, not halfway through the question before Snape's glare cut him off.
"No." Snape said, his voice cold as fallen snow. "Acting, I find, works best when there's an element of truth to it. If there were no just reason for me to be upset with Miss Granger, then where would we be?" Snape's eyes danced with dark humor. "You, on the other hand, I never need extra reason to inflate my fury." Snape said, turning away, "All I need to think about is you flying across all of Muggle England and Scotland, in a flying Muggle Car!"
Harry Potter, blushing, looked down at the floor, fighting back a smile. That really had been irresponsible of him... "If you had been in charge, sir, would you really have had us expelled?"
"Presumably," Snape growled. Just listening to Snape was enough to send his heart pitterpatter - Harry well remembered what the threat of being expelled had felt like, and to hear that Snape really would have... Still, Harry thought, he had known it was wrong, and an epic violation of rules that were meant to keep the entire Wizarding World safe (as well as the Muggles unobliviated...). Snape wasn't criticizing at him for ... even Sirius Black, and that was a wonder in of itself.
Snape continued, in a lighter tone of voice, continued, "I don't make it a general habit to be lax in discipline." Snape knit his hands together, starting to pace again, not saying a word. "As you are apt to cause just as much trouble whether someone is keeping an eye on you or not, I would have found some way to get you readmitted, of course." Snape looked over his shoulder at Harry Potter. "Eventually." Harry really had to wonder exactly what kind of punishment Snape would have devised, if he'd been Headmaster. Bearing in mind that his authority ended at the castle gates.
"Would you have made me into a caretaker, like Filch?" Harry hazarded, not quite looking at Snape as he did so.
"No..." Snape said in that molasses dark way of his, where the word just oozed out of his mouth, slow as golden syrup. "We already have a caretaker after all. I'd have found something worse. I doubt that Hagrid would say no to an assistant. How would you fancy mucking out stalls for a year?" Snape said, his dark eyes glimmering with acid amusement.
Harry Potter stared at Snape, somehow surprised and yet not surprised. It was both a harsh punishment... and something that seemed predictable for Snape, who had assigned him cauldron scrubbing whenever he had a detention. That was odd. Because it was something Harry would have expected... Harry'd gotten... well, used, to Snape over the summer being a little different from how he acted as a Potions Teacher. Here, at least, was something that Snape actually believed in. Harry should have known, too, after all those miles of running - miles that Snape had run alongside Potter, making Potter hate every single burning breath - as Snape made it all look easy.
[a/n: Hermione is a good kid, it shouldn't be surprising that Snape has to work to sound mad at her.
At some point, it's no longer wise to ask "is this part of Snape's plans" and instead to ask, "which plan is it a part of? and is it a backup plan?"
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