Nobody ever asked my birthday

Acting Clinic

[a/n: second chapter today.]

Severus Snape swept through the classroom, towards the front, where he stood beside his desk and revealed the blackboard - prewritten as always. "We will be starting the Lazarus Potion today. Contrary to common belief, this potion does not actually allow one to return from the dead. Instead, it can rescue someone who has stopped breathing. It is likewise beneficial for those who have been infected by vampirism, though due to its expense and chronic activity, it is far from a cure."

Snape knew, every time he mentioned this potion, that the entire school would be rife with rumors of his own vampirism by the next day. It was at least a better theory than the truth. Or that he actually was a vampire; contrary to common belief, he did in fact harvest his own ingredients.

Granger asked her usual questions. Snape answered them, half the time with a glare. It never did to be too welcoming to Gryffindors, after all.

Snape strode around the classroom, keeping his eye on Granger and Longbottom. It had killed him to say that Longbottom was actually competent at brewing. So, of course, he hadn't said it. The OWL scores spoke for themselves. The boy wouldn't get his NEWTs if he didn't learn under a bit of pressure, but there was time enough for that, Snape hoped.

Snape was cognizant, as he'd been last class, of Malfoy doing his best to take the Mickey out of Potter. The lad was excelling at the art of insults, which was not, contrary to common belief, why Snape let his misbehavior slide. Snape never let anything slide, for to do so in a school was to send the entire thing to damnation itself. Potter had put up with the insults last class with a demeanor that Snape couldn't help but admire.

It had been Snape's plan to ignore them again, and see if they'd both settle into a decent partnership.

Plans, as always, never survive contact with the enemy.

"Your father would be ashamed of you, you realize?" Draco Malfoy said.

"And why's that?" Potter responded.

Snape didn't exactly intend to be listening, but there was something in Potter's tone that any trained teacher would pick up on.

"Both your parents dead, and you haven't done a jot to revenge them, have you now?" Draco Malfoy drawled. It was a low blow, indeed. Snape kept his eyes on Bones and her potion.

"What would you know?" Harry Potter said, his voice breaking.

Snape's instincts had him whirling, wand trained.

To find Potter embracing Malfoy, sobbing into his robes. "What would you know?" Potter said, voice muffled but still audible. Malfoy was awkwardly trying to hug Potter back, looking as if awkwardness were his birthright rather than snobbish noblesse oblige.

Oh. Snape thought, and felt parts of his body relaxing that he hadn't even noticed were tense. So that's it, is it? Snape's black eyes took quick count of the half-dozen students in class that weren't paying attention to their potions. Somehow, Potter had managed a stasis charm on his own, Snape noted quietly. Snape didn't doubt that Potter had shed tears in the past year - but doing it on your enemy's shoulder? Potter was not that unguarded. Snape privately doubted Potter had even cried on his friends' shoulders. And of course, he'd had to tell Granger to cool her heels, or she'd be charging in with a hex, in the Potions classroom.

Potter continued playing it up, starting to sob about never getting a hug from his Mum, about never having a Da come to a Quiddich game (which was moronic, as the only reason Lucius Malfoy was allowed to attend was because he was a School Governor). Save us all from Gryffindors attempting to act - Potter was hamming it up, nearly as badly as Sirius Black would have.

This was an entirely ridiculous scheme (nevermind that Malfoy was buying it, until disabused of such notions), and would be graded accordingly.

Snape sent a wordless Silencio at Potter, which effectively left him dripping snot on Malfoy's expensive robes. "Enough," Snape growled, "If you cannot work together, you will work separately. I look forward to seeing you rise to the challenge of brewing potions meant for pairs, alone." Snape turned around, so he wasn't looking at either Malfoy or Potter, "That goes doubly for you, Potter."

Snape strode back to his desk, and started marking more potions homework. He didn't care if Potter spent the rest of the day silenced. The rest of the class' potions were ruined, and Snape snarled at them as he said, "Get out of my sight!"

Everyone rose as one to leave, and Snape said, in a grave tone, "Except you, Potter."

Harry Potter turned around and tried to give him an innocent, doe-eyed look. Snape, quite fortunately, was quite immune to that one due to overexposure in his bygone youth. "That will be three detentions, for the three potions you ruined today."

Potter, sensibly, did not protest, and left before Snape could assign him more.

[a/n: Someone's not in a good mood, is he? Leave a review?

Yes, the implication that Snape is going to have words with Draco on his inability to distinguish acting from true grief.

In Draco's defense, he hasn't dealt with many grieving people before.]