Harry hadn't realized just how busy his days had gotten, until he finally got a chance to relax. His potions work wasn't due for another three days, and for once, Flitwick and McGonagall had managed to not assign homework at the same time. Furthermore, Snape's homework was apparently confined to some sort of ruddy extra credit, that only people who hadn't gone through the doors had to do. Ron had gone on at length at the unfairness of having homework that Hermione and Harry didn't have. (Harry rather thought Ron was just upset that he had to do an entire 10 page essay On His Own).
Harry'd eaten dinner early, having half-skipped lunch to finish off a 'paper' on Divination. He didn't normally have an appetite like Dudley's...
Hermione had tried to glare him into eating brussel sprouts, but at the point where Harry had started to have his fight each other, Hermione had said that he was interrupting people trying to have a decent dinner. Hearing that, Harry had stood, bowed, and strode back to the common room, letting a soft smile cross his face after he was out of the Great Hall.
In the common room, Harry had a book open, although he was watching a falcon circle the tower. When the common room door slammed open, Harry looked over with concern. There was a third year there, as white as a sheet, with his hands shaking. Harry stood, half-approaching, and asked, "What's wrong."
"S..S...snape!" the third year said, quivering like a leaf.
Harry squatted down, so he was at eye level with the child (I'm extremely glad I'm no longer that size, he thought quietly). "What happened?" Harry said, wanting to pat the kid on the back, but realizing that the kid might react poorly.
"I... I was talking, to a friend. In private. She was just about to finish the one about the Hippogryf and the Wyrm, when Snape countered my spell."
That, was unusual, Harry thought. Most of the time, people eliminated spell energy with Finite Incantem - it was like the rush of stillness after a thunderclap. Countering a spell required knowing exactly what it was, and sending "reverse sound waves" to cancel out the magic. It was both extremely advanced, and a really weird thing to do to a third year.
"Why did he do that?" Harry asked aloud.
"I don't know, but..." The boy fidgeted, suddenly. "He leaned into our, now canceled, privacy bubble, and asked, 'Where did you learn that spell?' " The boy seemed twitchy at this.
"What was the incantation to the spell?" Harry asked.
"Muffiliato." the boy said.
Harry frowned - that was one of Snape's personal spells, one that he'd learned this summer. Not one that Snape, or anyone, really, would teach a third year. "Where did you learn that spell?"
"My third year defense book," the boy said. "Snape's going to want it, isn't he?"
Harry fought back a warm smile, looking serious instead, "Did you tell him you learned it from there?"
The boy shook his head emphatically. "I can't learn defense without my book."
Harry said, "We'll take care of this together. First, can I see your book?"
Shakily, the third year nodded, pulling out his dogeared book. Harry opened it, finding - in Snape's spiky, slanted hand, the notation that this book was Property of The Half Blood Prince. It was kind of relieving, in a way, to see that even Snape could trump up some reason to pretend to glory, when he was thirteen. Properly ridiculous, sure, but relieving.
"Do you need this particular copy, or will any one do?" Harry asked.
"To study? I'd work with any copy." The boy said, starting to twitch again. "But Snape wants to know where I learned the spell..."
Harry considered, for a silent moment, and then flashed a gleaming smile at the boy. It wasn't a nice smile. "You can tell him I taught you the spell, if he asks, alright?"
"You'd do that, for me?" the boy looked up in wonder.
"I'd do it for the book - provided I can get you a newer copy," Harry smiled, "And because you're a Gryffindor and they stick together." Now all Harry had to do was get Hermione to part with her old DADA textbook. Piece of cake.
Suck on this, old man. Harry thought. If Snape wasn't going to talk with Harry, well, then he wasn't getting his damned book back. And he blasted well deserved to not see hide nor hair of it, for putting that poor third year through a near breakdown.
Harry half suspected that he could dance on the Gryffindor Table in a tutu during Breakfast, and Snape wouldn't so much as glance at him.
Either way, today, I win.
[a/n: at some point, Harry's going to notice there's more than one set of handwriting in there...
How'd I do at this? Please leave a review and let me know.
Harry: "Wot? I can be frustrated and pissed off just as much as the next boy. Even when I know it's my fault." *crosses arms* "And there's something called tasting your own medicine, for the master Potioneer"]