Severus Snape had thoroughly had it with playing 'wait and see.'
Draco Malfoy, as expected, had spun a righteous tale in the Slytherin Common Room of having been hoodwinked by the Weasley Twins - through their agent Potter. It had gotten more elaborate in the telling, until it was Draco who had suggested the 'obvious in hindsight' ruse to get the Twins into the room. He wasn't stupid enough to claim Potter kissing Parkinson was his idea - he'd pinned that on Potter's obviously inferior (Gryffindor) improvisational skills.
At dinner, Draco Malfoy had behaved as if the sword of Damocles itself hung over his head.
Parkinson had glared at Potter, who continued to look baffled. Perhaps at some point someone ought to clue him in? Depend on Draco to do it, Snape firmly decided.
It had been a relatively peaceful night, only two Slytherins had shown up at his door - the first, his head prefect, had a troublesome situation involving The Missing Hairbrush. It wasn't so much that any of the third year girls cared about the hairbrush, but the mere thought that they had a thief sleeping amongst them? They were behaving like chickens. Snape had pulled out a well-worn book of tales, and opened it to Bluebeard. "Read them this, before they go to bed. At the end, remind them that they may be sleeping near a thief, but that is far more reassuring than sleeping beside a murderer." And Snape himself would check on the 'Nightmare Ward' before the morning light.*
Perched atop the high North Tower, Snape watched Potter round the castle. Some subtle part of him wanted to set a few traps - just to keep Potter wary, of course. Dumbledore would never forgive Snape if he hurt the wretched boy. Well, in a permanent sort of way, at any rate. Non-permanent bruises could be passed off as training, or at worst, discipline. Snape knew all about these sorts of excuses, and could only hope he was wielding his power more wisely than those who came before him. Slughorn's example would certainly stand as case closed - Snape knew he'd done better for his students than that slug. Snape still hadn't fixed Emma's scars. She preferred to pretend to be mad, rather than curl into herself as adults stared, and nosy Hufflepuff children hurried up to ask if it hurt. Of course it hurt, every single day.
Snape was rather pleased that Potter hadn't attempted to apologize with words. Snape had heard his father say the same apologies so many times, he no longer had much truck with words. You either changed, or you didn't. Potter had clearly noticed Snape's disappearances (the wonder was that he hadn't belligerently barged in before now), but, instead of investigating, and making a ruddy, obliviated nuisance of himself, he'd found a problem that he could solve - and neatly, at that.
Snape would have a five year supply of that sweet before the end of the week. Assuming the Weasleys were reasonable fellows, of course. He'd have it cached in a dozen different places around the castle and in the Forbidden Forest. If you were going to be prepared, you might as well prepare for more than one contingency.
It was still before breakfast, and Snape had already eaten about a day's worth of food. The twins had sung like canaries, and had been willing to donate a few more sweets to Order Business. Snape still didn't want them to know how many he wanted, but just six would have him shipshape this month.
Snape sat behind his desk in his office, waiting for Draco Malfoy to appear. As prefect, Draco would see that Snape wanted to see him - before he'd even left his bed. Snape had placed a small, green-and-silver flecked chit on a silver cord at the top of one of the four posts, right where Draco would see it.
He'd know why he'd been summoned, too, no doubt.
With a knock, Draco Malfoy entered, responding gracefully to Snape's belted and blaise "Enter." He sat gracefully, straight-backed on the hard wooden chair in front of Snape's desk. Snape's chair behind the desk looked, to all appearances, like it was leatherbound and stuffed. That was a careful illusion, of course. Snape liked his seat firm as the students sat. He wasn't a man for relaxation, even in his own office.
"Was that fiasco in my Potions class your idea?" Snape asked, as he laced his hands together, leaning forward above them.
"No, sir," Draco Malfoy said, just short of snorting, "No plan of mine would involve the Weasley Twins. There is simply no way that I could guarantee that they would do as told." That response told Snape more than Draco undoubtedly thought it did. Malfoy was on one level or another jealous of the Twins' ability at stealthy reconnaissance, and would have used them in a heartbeat if they could only be trusted - and had even considered ways to bind them to himself. That was futile, as Snape well knew, though he'd long had a quiet rapprochement with the Twins. They didn't act up in Potions Class (which would be deuced dangerous, even if they weren't touching the cauldrons), and he didn't demolish their irregularly occupied potions lab. The scent alone had told him where it was, from the first day.
"Potter's then." Snape said, after letting Malfoy squirm long enough.
"Yes, sir, though I've said loud and long that it was the Twin's idea and fault." Draco Malfoy reiterated.
"You'll deal with Potter in your own time, no doubt." Snape said, the very picture of confidence.
"Of course, sir. Perhaps sooner, since he had the clueless clumsiness to kiss my former betrothed."
"Don't disgrace your House with fighting in the halls, no matter who is the cause." Snape cautioned.
Draco nodded. Time would only tell whether he'd follow the instructions, but at least he'd heard them.
"I need you to take two messages to the Weasley Twins." Snape said, leaning forward again.
"First, if they are willing to act like responsible adults, and give me the list of which students have procured goods - legal and not - from them, they will have one day's detention with Filch. If they are not going to act like responsible adults, I'm certain Filch will take great pleasure in hanging them from their wrists in the dungeons for a week. Perhaps he or I will remember to free them at the end of the week, you never can tell." Snape enjoyed using his voice and unaffected manner to intimidate, and he could count on Draco to use enough of the emphasis that the Twins would get the point.
"Second, I want a fifty percent cut of any proceeds that they make while purveying their wares inside the castle or on Hogwarts grounds. You may tell them, though you didn't hear it from me, that I'll be splitting my take with Filch. We can even call it hazard pay. They can bill our cut as 'Free Advertising,' if they'd prefer."
Draco nodded, looking solemn. No matter how amusing or vindictive Malfoy felt, he'd keep it professional.
Unless, of course...
Snape said, "I want you to make it hurt." That was, after all, why Snape had given these demands to Malfoy and not Potter. Malfoy would deliver them with the same polished arrogance that he always used. It was virtually guaranteed to set the Weasleys off, in anger if not in vengeance. He hoped the Twins knew better than their youngest brother.
* This is a sound based ward, designed to warn Snape of impending trouble, either nighttime fights or nightmares.
** Snape has some latitude based on the Unbreakable Vow he took to Dumbledore. It's not the one in canon.
[a/n: Back to the Slytherins. Because scheming is fun. Do you want to see what kind of escapades the Twins are getting up to? Leave a review!]