"Sir, there was something I had wanted to ask you..." Harry Potter said, sounding the least bit uncertain.
"Go on," Snape said, and there was something in the lack of impatience that impelled Harry to, indeed, keep talking.
"I convinced Zach Smith to take over the ... study group," Harry was convinced that Snape surely knew what it was called, but it didn't seem quite so dignified saying it to the Head of Slytherin House. "I did so by appealing to his pride. He's so convinced that he'd do a better job than me, that he leaped at the opportunity."
"Potter, that's not a question." Snape said.
"No, sir, it's not. It's just... I had wondered... would Draco Malfoy have reacted the same way?" Harry Potter asked, fighting to not shift back and forth on his feet like a silly first year.
"Yes, and no." Snape said shortly, pausing a moment before continuing. "Pride wouldn't have been the reason Malfoy would have accepted. No, he'd have moved for status, and status alone."
"What's the difference?" Harry Potter asked quietly.
"Pride, at least the way Mister Smith has it, is internal. He believes, and thus does things that will further his belief in himself." Snape said.
"And Not Malfoy?" Harry Potter asked.
"No." Snape said, turning the word into five unendingly slow syllables. "He wishes to be seen as your equal, if not your superior. So, he would have accepted because it would be you implicitly acknowledging that he stood on the same level as you."
"I'm not sure I understand." Harry Potter asked, and Snape sighed.
"Have you never, ever wanted someone to think something in particular of you?" Snape asked
"I've wanted Hermione and Ron to think me a good friend." Harry said promptly, before flushing, somehow knowing that wasn't the right answer to say.
"You abjectly humiliated yourself in front of the Dursleys." Snape said, "To prove yourself lower than them in their eyes." Snape said, "That's the key, in their eyes. Malfoy wouldn't have accepted because of his own prideful bearing. But he would have accepted to have others look up to him."
Harry Potter nodded, quietly. Not in a million years would he ever understand these Slytherins. He wasn't sure why he tried, really. Couldn't really help himself, he supposed.
[a/n: I had this scripted to be asked ages and ages ago. Not sorry it didn't fit, but it's been (vaguely) on Harry's mind.
Second post of the day, leave a review.]