Nobody ever asked my birthday

Master Snape

Draco Malfoy disappeared hurriedly down the corridor. Meanwhile, Pansy Parkinson turned to her Housemaster, and addressed him formally. Harry was completely unsurprised to see that her 'flirty vivaciousness' had been dropped like yesterday's fashion. "Master Snape," She said, "I was wondering if I might ask you to give us a moment of privacy?" That formality, Harry thought, was more than Draco generally used - more than any of the Slytherins he'd ever heard use.

Snape nodded, "So long as I am included in the privacy. I have a duty to chaperone unattended and unmarried children." Harry gulped at that last word, it meant bad things, as far as he was concerned.

Pansy said, "Of course, Master Snape." Her smile was perfectly polite and perfectly fake, as if drawn on a porcelain doll with blood-red lipstick.

Snape flourished his wand into a series of spells, that was so well practiced even the words seemed to flow together. This was not, Harry thought with some alarm, the series of spells Snape used when Harry was in Snape's office.*

"It is done," Snape said firmly.

"Thank you, Master Snape," Pansy said, before smiling sweetly - the sweetness of a drugged rose, Harry thought with a shiver, "My parents inform me that you have received a letter from them. May I know the contents of it?"

The letter! Harry had put it away under his pillow,** and forgotten about it. Leave it to Hermione to give him enough books that he forgot about something important. Well, actually the books were from Malfoy's recommendations, but Hermione had gotten them for him. With more than a bit of chagrin, Harry pulled the only-slightly-crumpled letter out, and tried to salvage the situation, "We can open it together." He tried a hopeful, bedraggled grin.

Pansy gave a stomp of her foot, and snapped, "You were supposed to open it when it arrived. Leaving it until later is nearing an insult. And you don't want to insult my family."

Harry hurriedly tore into the letter, "We send our congratulations on your engagement to our daughter." Harry read, "It's signed by Mr. and Mrs. Lukas Parkinson."

Pansy gave an uneasy half-smile, the first real betrayal of her true feelings. "At least we aren't married," she said with a shaky laugh. "For your sake."

Harry's spine stiffened, "I'll clear this up, as soon as I'm out of the infirmary."

Snape said sternly, "That you will not do, Potter. Your first steps out of the infirmary will be towards Potions Class this Friday, and I daresay you wouldn't like the punishment if you turned another of my lessons into a fiasco."

With parted lips, Harry looked over at Snape, then reconsidered. "I'll clear it up as soon as I'm able, then. Lunch or dinner, your choice."

"Dinner is the time for serious announcements, Potter," Pansy said firmly.

"If you two are quite done with all the adolescent drama, I have had my fill of playing nursemaid to idiots and ingenues." Snape drawled.

"Oh, please, Master Snape," Pansy said, directing a suddenly very real smile at her head of house. "You know I'm a femme fatale."

"Along with half my Slytherins." Snape said in his usual purr, before dropping the wards.

*It's actually a lower form of security than what Snape uses when Harry's around. Currently, this is 'general purpose' security, that shields a conversation as it's primary objective. The wards up around Snape's office do a lot more, and with a lot more venom if pressed. "Trapped with the Potions Master" might sound scary, but "Trapped with the Dark Arts Specialist" is actually a problem. Were I writing canon, if Harry knocked Snape out in Snape's office/classroom, Harry wouldn't be able to leave until Snape was functional again.

** This is pretty standard behavior for kids who've suffered from particular forms of abuse. Plenty of kids hide food. Harry, here, hides something he thinks someone else might steal. This behavior is not exactly helped by a certain Ron Weasley's willingness to read over Harry's shoulder.

[a/n: femme fatale and ingenue are drawn from Muggle cinema. It's been nearly a hundred years since they were coined, and in All That Time, some Slytherin heard it second or third hand from a Muggleborn. They're not particularly ignorant, so much as they are close-minded. They would never see cinema, but adopt the terminology. Review?]