Tuesday, Harry had tried to slip off after dinner, but Ron and Hermione had practically frogmarched him to the Room of Requirement, Hermione all piously saying, "You can't possibly have something more important than your own safety."
Harry spent two flights of stairs and an entire floor pondering how, or if he really should, explain to Hermione that Helping Snape was a better method of looking out for his current safety. Snape had been acting mean as a wolverine lately, but that was... not all that out of the ordinary.
The more pressing problem was that Snape was mad. At him. Harry wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't hung upside down in the Great Hall, his entrails spilled out for everyone to see at breakfast. Oh, and he'd still be alive, of course, though dying and they wouldn't be able to save him.
Harry didn't think he deserved that. Mostly. It got harder to be confident about that when he thought of what the Dark Lord had requested of Snape - and how Snape wouldn't so much as listen to one word from Harry's mouth. If the Dark Lord hurt Hermione... or Ron. Harry wasn't sure what he'd do, but he had a vague feeling that he'd probably regret it afterward. Aunt Petunia had always said that blood was the worst thing to get on clothing. He doubted even a house elf could get out a good sat bloodstain.*
They were in the room of requirement before the Sword of Damocles fell.** Hermione turned to Harry and said, "Alright, out with it. What's been eating you so bad you couldn't be bothered to tell me about the latest Interesting Objective for DA?"
Harry, startled, looked back and forth between Ron and Hermione. There was literally nothing that he could say that would get both of them on his side. Well, when all else fails, improvise. "I've been working on something..." he said, drawing upon his embarrassment at being forgetful to look convincingly abashed.
Ron said, "So? Out with it..."
Harry fidgeted, "It's kind of a secret." He tried looking earnest, "A good one, though! I promise."
Their wry looks at him suggested they didn't believe him.
"What kind of a prank is it?" Ron asked.
Harry had a starburst of inspiration. Unlike the normal lightbulbs, it took him a few moments of blinking to set the idea straight. "It's something to memorialize Padfoot. He wouldn't want me crying over him, now would he?"
His friends shook their heads, Hermione smiling softly, as if she might just cry.
Harry continued, "I'll even tell Hermione if you want. Ron, you'll like the surprise more if you don't hear." Which was true, of course, but hardly honest. The honest response was that Ron would want to join in, and that would spike the whole plan. There was no way a plan that involved Ron Weasley was getting at all close to Severus Snape. Nothing against Ron, of course, but Snape knew better.
Hermione gave Harry a bright smile, and he took them over to a pair of seats with a teaset inbetween. He cast a quick silencing spell - at the first syllable, Hermione had looked up, excited - she'd apparently not learnt this one before. Although, since Harry had had it from Snape, he wasn't exactly surprised.
Harry and Hermione sat down. "There's no way to break this easy," Harry paused a moment, looking around. Meanwhile, Hermione had leaned forward, her eyes as bright as they were when she opened a new tome. "I'm going to prank Snape."
Hermione's eyes got big. "Harry! Why would you Possibly think that's a good idea?"
Harry scratched his head, and said, even softer, "You've seen how he looks lately, yes?"
Hermione nodded tentatively. "Something's wrong." she said softly.
Harry nodded, "Well, it strikes me that what's worse than looking like death warmed over is Feeling like death warmed over."
Hermione said, "And this is why you want to prank Snape?"
Harry nodded, firm.
Hermione said, "I really don't think this is a good idea. He's prickly at the best of times."
Harry shook his head, "You will. I just know it."
Draco Malfoy darted in, slamming the door behind him.
Hermione asked, "Having trouble?"
Draco said, "Just the usual. The life of a minion is fraught with those who take offense at your superiors."
Ron and Harry burst out laughing at that, and the shy smirk that Draco gave them was Harry's proof that Malfoy really had meant to make fun of himself.
[a/n: Review? I love reviews!]
*stains fix if you let them sit. Harry's past-tensified the sit, and then turned it into an adjective. Harry doesn't know many words. He's quite willing to make them up, however.
**Rocky Horror Picture Show. As weird and oddball as that movie is, there's not much magic. This is what happens when Dudley falls asleep on the sofa and leaves the TV on.