On top of the Astronomy tower, Harry Potter sat down and tried to imagine Minerva McGonagall telling him about his Mother. She'd only said a few things, none of it... really real. She'd mentioned friends, yes, but when it came right down to it, how close could they have been? Harry'd never seen any of them in his life. He figured that Hagrid had tried to write to them, but looking down at the picture album, Harry couldn't really see any pictures from when his Mum was younger than fifth year.
Had Snape been her only real friend?
Harry could see his Mum, who everyone said was lively and vivid, stubbornly clinging to a friendship that wasn't winning her any friends in her own house. Harry knew he was stubborn like that too, that someone who did him right would be rewarded, if he could at all swing it.
Harry let out a bolt of lightning, thrusting his wand up towards the sky. It was just a symbol of how angry he was, seething really. He wanted to go and yell at Professor McGonagall, who he'd always trusted to be fair and honest.
Why had she lied to him?
She didn't need to tell him, not really, that it was Professor Snape. Harry'd asked about his Mum, not about her friends. Just hearing that she was friends with a Slytherin would have been enough. That alone said she was worthy of the House of Lions.
Loosing lightning apparently started thunderstorms, Harry thought wryly, as the November rain poured down on him. He let his tears fall, letting them be swallowed by the cold flagstones.
As he turned to head inside, well past curfew, he could see McGonagall, in cat form, watching from inside, out of a skylight.
"Mister Potter, have you had enough fresh air?" she said to him, as he tried to close the trapdoor, bringing in enough water that they both made wet footsteps as they went down the stair.s
"Yes, Professor," Harry said, blushing a bit in embarrassment. He'd been thinking such nasty things about her, and here she was waiting for him, watching to make sure he wasn't doing anything irresponsible, and having the good grace not to mention his tears.
Tuesday Evening, Draco Malfoy was heading back to the dungeons, all worn out from playing Tag with the Gryffindors.* He was trying to dodge the lily-loving flocks of girls (and, strangely, now boys) that kept on trying to get him to pick them up. As if Draco would reward such cowardice, he smirked.
From behind him, he heard the slightest whisper of a shoe-clad foot on stone. Instantly, he ducked into a nearby alcove, hoping that he hadn't been spotted by whichever girl was wandering this time of night.
Instead, Snape came out of the darkness, into the moonlit alcove, "Mister Malfoy, I was hoping to speak to you." he said gravely.
"Of course, sir." Draco Malfoy said.
As they proceeded downstairs, Snape said snidely, "I hope you are enjoying the fruits of your little prank with Potter."
Draco Malfoy sighed, well aware that Snape knew it hadn't gone as planned, "Not really. It didn't go as planned."
"That would be an understatement," Snape said, smirking and looking smug. Which was ordinarily a look Draco liked to see on the old potions master - but this time, well, Snape was laughing at him. And potter, but that went without saying.
Snape and Draco traded other gossip on the way downstairs, discussing prospects without directly mentioning names or allegiances. Draco was pessimistic about Bones, but figured Hopkins was a decent backup. He didn't see anyone in Gryffindor, but Snape shook his head, "Parvati will come along with Padma if you time it right."
At last, they reached the Potion Master's Office, Snape opened the door and Draco waltzed in.
Snape closed the door, and Draco only realized something was wrong when Snape didn't immediately stride over to his desk. Draco restrained himself from whirling, instead looking back to see Snape's unique blend of air and water spells to ensure privacy. Draco instantly knew this was serious, and grew wary. What could be more serious than what they had just been discussing?
Snape, at last, returned to his desk, standing behind it rather than sitting down. "Draco, over the weekend, you mentioned that you'd had a bet with Potter."
"I did, sir," Draco Malfoy said, fighting back the concerned crook of his eyebrows. He was instantly curious about why Snape was taking a personal interest. He couldn't already know, could he?
"What was the nature of said bet?" Snape asked.
"Potter had heard, somewhere, that you had a friend in Gryffindor, of all places," Draco smirked, "The bet was on whether or not that was true."
Snape's eyes seemed, for a moment, to go completely dead, as if he was thinking deeply behind thickly occluded shields.
Then his eyes sharpened, as he asked calmly, "I suppose you asked your mother?"
"Of course, sir," Draco Malfoy said, and couldn't resist probing, "Should I have come to you first, sir?"
Snape sighed, pulling his hair out of his eyes, "No, asking your mother was fine. I don't suppose she told you anything?"
Draco's eyes sliced thin, for a brief second. He doesn't want me to know, and mum didn't want me to know... "No, the note was directed to Potter, who told me I'd lost the bet." Draco turned doe-innocent eyes towards Snape, and asked, "I don't suppose you'd tell me, would you sir?"
"You know me better than that," Snape said, in obvious dismissal. Draco's eyes found Snape's body suspiciously still, and Snape was normally a silent and still person. Something about how he was sitting there, reminded Draco of a crouching feline, ready to spring.
[a/n: And the Penny drops. You'll understand why Draco isn't in trouble in a bit...]
*Wizarding tag uses stinging hexes.