"Understood, sir." Harry crisply responded back.
At this point, Harry had something he wanted to ask - that'd been curled up inside his brain (thankfully) until now. And yet, he didn't know quite how to phrase it. So, Harry sat there, thinking.
"Well? Out with it, Potter." Snape demanded.
"Why'd you force Hermione Granger to steal the books? You know if you asked her to, she'd have read whatever you thought was best." Harry inquired cautiously.
"Of course she would have," Snape said with a snort, "Her incessant pursuit of myriad veins of knowledge was never in dispute."
"You... You wanted her angry." Harry advanced.
"Not particularly." Snape sniffed, "What I wanted, and what I got, was one Hermione Granger that no one is going to dare cross."
Harry simply looked at Snape.
"How often does your friend Weasley shrug off Granger, when she says you really ought to study?" Snape inquired, "For that matter, how often do you?"
Harry's face twisted into a scowl, "Often enough to regret it now."
"Exactly." Snape sniffed, "So, a righteous, sanctimonious Hermione Granger - one willing to bestow dire consquences if ignored - was precisely what your little study group needs."
"How are you constantly one step ahead?" Harry nearly whispered. It was, in a way, nearly awe-inspiring. The level of careful, meticulous manipulation to get Hermione Granger to the point where she was fire and fury...
"It helps when no one else even realizes there's a game." Snape said. "You'll find the game increases dramatically in complexity with more players."
"Now, as to your detention..." Snape drawled, and Harry suppressed a groan. "I will be creating four potions of extreme volatility and contagion."
"Contagion?" Harry Potter prompted, as he'd never even heard the word used with regard to potions.
"Put the brewing of two of them too close together, and they'll explode." Snape said, leaning over Harry Potter.
"Oh." Harry said in a small voice. He was always learning things, even if they weren't always pleasant ones.
"I will be completing one in each tower of Hogwarts." Snape said, "You will be pulling live cattails from the Lake and bringing them to me. You will do so as quickly as possible, and without casting a single spell while holding them."
"But... but won't I get... everything... muddy?" Harry stammered, a bit conflicted about telling Snape the obvious hole in argument.
"You'd better be quick enough to avoid Argus Filch, then, hadn't you?"
Snape's smug look was mocking, as Harry Potter said gloomily, "Yes sir."
"Don't think I didn't notice you panting after your laps." Snape said smoothly, before turning and heading up to check on his potions.
Harry, glumly, headed outside to the Black Lake. His clothes were going to be ruined. It was easy enough to clean dirt off, but this was muck and this was stink.
Up and down and Up and down, and Up and down, with those cattails trying to curlaround his arms, again and again and again. Every step a squelch, with sounds of splurt splort splat as gobbets of thick black mud dripped onto the floor at random intervals.
[a/n: Second post today. What is Snape up to. Up Next: Argus Filch and the Avuncular Severus Snape. (yes, I have to get the big words out now, before Harry tries to use them) Reviews delight and make me write!]