Nobody ever asked my birthday

Wouldn't know the first thing

Severus Snape paced his potions lab, which was nothing new.

What was new, was that nothing was brewing.

Lucius Malfoy had come to Hogwarts.

He was there to negotiate, in public.

Anyone he might need to talk to, presumably, he could call back to Malfoy Manor.

So, it meant something, that he was laying his cards down for others to see.

Somehow, Snape doubted his dear old friend was here to see yours truly. For one thing, he'd have engaged Snape at the earliest opportunity, knowing Severus' tendency to disappear into brewing and be nigh unreachable for hours on a Saturday afternoon. (His coffee addiction generally prompted at least a brief stint at the High Table before he began brewing).

Severus Snape wanted to know everything about what Lucius Malfoy was up to (and, particularly, not about what Filius was up to, which was rather obvious. He always needed some tzotchki or another for his classes. Snape's requests were routinely more expensive, but got approved far more often. The firewhiskey Snape used to dissolve the red tape seemed to work better than Filius' logic. Imagine that.)

Snape's smugness was shortlived, because his curiosity rose like a cobra in his mind.

Was this for Albus Dumbledore's benefit? Snape thought not, but Lucius Malfoy had charmed spots off a salamander once (they had been burning bits of paint that he'd used for cufflinks for a time). It was not out of the question that Lucius might attempt to switch sides - but, at any rate, a public appearance with Dumbledore was hardly the way to do it. It was a sure ticket to torture if caught - and not even Lucius was malevolent enough to wish his own wife tortured insane. Bella might actually pull that off too.

It might be for the ministry's - Lucius wanted always to be known as a powerbroker, and making deals at Hogwarts fit that role to a T. He was one of the Governors, after all - not even Albus could deny him entry, though he certainly could follow Lucius around like a lost, very over-eager puppy - and make any prospects for negotiation shrivel accordingly. Snape had only seen Albus do that once, quite early in his tenure. Lucius had taken the point, and, before His Rise, had only used Hogwarts for the most delicate of negotiations, with hostile parties that did not believe Lucius could be approached without violence. As most people who knew Lucius knew that he regarded violence as an in extremis ploy only, these meetings were few and far between. The last had been an encounter with Augusta Longbottom, a formidable woman whose wandwork was only matched by her temper. Slow to rise, but prone to explosions.

It was probably, in part, for the Dark Lord's sake. In that, Lucius would be demonstrating his worth. The Dark Lord dwelled under a self-imposed house arrest - he could not emerge and make deals nor appearances without ruining his current scheme.

For what little it was worth, Snape sympathized with Lucius - the new minister had dramatically trimmed Lucius' influence in the ministry. He was undoubtedly scrambling to show he was still of value.

All of which was rather beside the point, which was that Snape wanted to know exactly what Lucius was up to.

Burn Potter and his inane stupidity! Snape thought crossly. He'd be the perfect choice. Everyone expects him to go haring off after Death Eaters and information. Snape wasn't desperate enough to use a tool that couldn't be trusted not to slice off his hand. Potter was a blade with no hilt and no sheath, to wield him was to come away as bloodied as your opponent.

Granger? Certainly not. She might actually ask Lucius what he was doing, and lord only knows what he'd say.

His Slytherins knew better than to ask. Lucius was a shark, and they were myriad minnows.

[a/n: Yes, of course he wants to know!

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