Snape looked at Potter, his dark eyes faintly disbelieving. Potter wanted all the answers, and without having given Snape much more than a fragile reed to hang, well, anything on - schemes or hopes or plans. "Perhaps, with all the information, I might be able to offer some guidance."
"What do you need?" Direct and straight to the point, Gryffindor.
"What exactly caused your emotions to spiral so? It is unusual to see you so discombobulated." Snape said, his eyes showing the dark glint of curiosity.
Harry Potter nodded - a short bob of his head, "Yeah." Oh, how eloquent these Gryffindors be.*
And then, something odd happened. Potter's jaw jutted forward, his beryl eyes glinting like stones.** Snape recognized that look - it was so quintessentially Gryffindor it made his teeth ache***. It was the look Lily had had when she didn't want to say something. Lily'd plant her feet in the ground, and wouldn't be moved. Not that Snape couldn't talk her around... eventually. But it had always taken time...
Locking up his impatience (which shouted at him to shake the answer right out of Potter), Snape looked again at Potter. There was something about that look... It niggled at Snape, like something just on the edge -
Abruptly, his mind caught up with itself. That jutting jaw and grim eyes was the spitting cousin to a look that Malfoy had had on his face... after the debacle at the Hall of Mysteries, when news had been scarce, and Malfoy had feared Lucius sentenced to Azkaban without even a show trial. It was the look of a child battening down the hatches to avoid an explosion - hoping that the ship would contain the press of feelings.
Snape wrestled, then, with the unfamiliar thought that Potter might actually be right to withhold information. Nobody wanted the Dark Lord summoned to Potter's mind twice in one night. And if Potter was stuffing his emotions into a locked chest...
Then Snape ought not to try Legimancy. Too much risk of tugging at the wrong memory.
Worse, Snape knew he'd be bothered by this mystery until he thoroughly understood it. As if I needed one more thing to think about!
"At this time," Snape said softly, "It would not be a good idea to verify whether this so-called defense of yours was a fluke. You are to treat it as such."
Snape studied Potter, thinking what he should really say - wondering if saying anything would cause Potter to explode like a bomb. Snape looked Potter up and down, and said shortly, "We will talk later. I must report to Dumbledore. Stay here for now." Snape hoped that Potter would merely conclude that Snape was reporting Potter's own experiences, and not another holiday at the Dark Lord's.
*Play off shakespeare - "Oh what fools these mortals be."
** Beryl is the mineral. Emerald (and aquamarine) are the "precious" form. Never say that Snape actually refers to Potter as being precious.
*** Not from sweetness, no. from the strain of grinding his teeth.
[a/n: Originally, Snape was going to answer a lot more here. Apparently, he's choosing not to poke the very bristly bear. Discretion is the better part of valor, and all that rot.
Which just means that he's going to keep his eyes peeled for an opportunity
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re: chapter 260 reviews: folks who were thinking corrosive - that's acidic. Acids lead to an instant pain, bases tend to leech away at your fats, only feeling pain much later. It's a much more subtle and insidious taint.]