"Severus, accompany me," Minerva said in her crisp, no-nonsense tone.
Snape knew that tone, and, while professional, it generally meant You are in deep trouble, Mister.
At least Minerva had waited until he was out of the Great Hall, Snape thought with a sigh. That had been enough of a burden on her curiosity, he supposed. Snape futilely protested, "If you will give me a moment, I have other obligations."
Minerva's look said, I know you, as she responded, "If you're asking, they aren't that pressing." She knows as well as I do that I prioritize. If the Dark Lord was calling, I would answer, permission or no. Some things are too important for basic manners. I suspect by the time this encounter is concluded, I may have preferred the Dark Lord's scrutiny.
"They will be, if unattended," Snape said, well aware that leaving Harry Potter waiting in front of Snape's office was a disaster in the making. Particularly if one of his more prickly Slytherins decided it was part of another prank.
"If you demolish the dungeons with a potion, I will eat my hat, and then we'll rebuild them." Minerva said. "You will not get out of that office for bad behavior."
"Nor will I for good behavior," Snape intoned.
"As if you knew such a thing," Minerva sniffed.
As they ascended another flight of stairs, Snape realized, We're going to Dumbledore, aren't we? Oh, frabjous joy.** Snape steels himself for more lemon drops and twinkling. Always with the twinkling.
Despite his growing concern and curiosity (which resolved into What have I done now?), Snape forbore to ask Minerva what was wrong. Her back was too straight, and her heels clicked on the ground. Gryffindor, that meant. Old battleaxe on the warpath because of one of her cubs.
Potter, Snape thought, rapidly putting the pieces together.
As they ascended the stairwell to Dumbledore's office, Snape did some calculations. When he stepped into Dumbledore's office, he breathed a sigh of relief. No Granger, good. That makes this hearsay at best.***
Dumbledore's eyes still twinkled when they looked disappointed. Minerva seated herself in front of Dumbledore.
Snape, in response, strode over to his 'usual corner' (he hated sitting, in general, and his long legs never fit Dumbledore's chairs, which were designed for misbehaving children). "Well?" Snape snapped.
"What were you thinking?" Minerva said. "This soddin' mess twixt you and Potter has to end, Severus Snape!"
Snape shrugged, inarticulately, "It is hardly my fault the boy scarcely considers destruction of an entire class worth of Potions to be a minor hindrance to his plans."
Dumbledore looked up at him, "Severus..."
Minerva sniffed, "I do not doubt you had provocation, Severus, or we'd be throwing you out on your head, the divvil take ye and make ye a mummer."
Minerva must be upset. She never uses Scotch otherwise, and certainly not in front of Albus. Snape stood, tall, no longer leaning against the wall behind him. Minerva's neck curved so she could see behind herself to look at him. "What exactly do you find so outrageous?"
Minerva sniffed, "My third period Transfiguration class claims that you assaulted Harry, brutally, in front of an entire year's worth of students."
Snape smirked, "And, because they were not minded to intervene, they decided to foist their complaints off on you?"
Minerva crossed her arms, "They aren't Gryffindors, Severus. I wouldn't expect them to be Lions, and you shouldn't, either."
Snape responded rather laconically, "It's been my general impression that I cannot count on even the Head of Gryffindor House to be a lion."
Minerva stood, and if Snape hadn't been behind her - and still speaking, he thought she'd have belted him - below the belt.
"Minerva McGonagall, you might have asked me for an explanation. In my office, or yours. There was never any need for Albus to mediate, was there?" Snape's long stride sent him circling the older witch. "Better, you might have asked Potter." Snape could almost feel Minerva's eyes sharpen on his back, like claws just pricking the skin. That's right, old witch.
Albus, unfortunately, picked that moment to interrupt, "What a capital idea!" he laughed. "Minerva, why don't you fetch Harry down?"
Minerva was halfway to the door, before Snape discretely coughed.
"What is it, Sev?" Minerva snapped. She knew how much he hated that nickname, and was trying to get under his skin. It was an admirable effort - for a Gryffindor.
"Perhaps it might be better if I brought him here?" Snape said, crossing his arms.
"Figuring to change his mind about what happened?" Minerva said, her hands coming to rest on her hips, "Don't think I'll give you the chance!"
Snape's eyes were cool, "I thought I might save your old bones the climb. Potter's waiting on me for a detention."
Minerva's eyes flecked with slight remorse. She knew what havoc a Gryffindor in the dungeons could wreck and wrack. "Then we'll both go." she announced.
Good as I'm going to get.
** Frabjous is in the dictionary? Damn, but doesn't that miss the point?
*** Hermione, if she was reporting this, would have insisted on staying as a witness (both for testimony, and to see the proper punishment). That she's not there means Snape has a lot more latitude, if he needs it.
[a/n: Your thoughts? I'll probably put up the second part later today. Reviews, as always, keep me writing!]