"This all seems sensible in wartime," Hermione began, "But, we aren't at war!"
"Or at least, the Parkinsons don't want to admit to their knowledge." Harry chimed in.
"Traditions, once set, tend to wither and fade." Snape said, starting to pace again. "In this case, the marriage agreement via a kiss has weakened to a betrothal."
Snape spun, his dark eyes raking over them, "Or that's what they'd have you believe. In reality, it lies somewhere between a marriage and a betrothal." Snape's dark eyes fixated on Potter. "You handed the Parkinson's the rest of your life, on a silver platter."
Harry gulped. It was true, which made his stomach twist.
Hermione said, "But they chose not to force him!"
"No," Snape said, oozing the word out slowly, "They chose not to pick the losing side."
Harry blinked, thought a moment, and spoke up, "They - they don't know, do they?"
Snape shook his head, slowly, "They may still believe you are the Chosen One, Potter. They may not. Leave it as a question that you might someday find the answer to. You are widely seen as Dumbledore's protege, even without the improper accolades. It is not a stretch, nor a spurious conclusion, to believe that you will fight against the Dark Lord."
Harry nodded, somberly.
"They choose to take the less restrictive version of the covenant you pledged." Snape's eyes were on Harry again, and they burned.
Harry swallowed down a gulp. Covenant?
"To do otherwise, would tie their hands. And Slytherins do so prize their flexibility." Snape's eyes had softened, as he turned away from talking about Harry Potter's stupidity.
Hermione demanded, "You mean they won't choose a side?"
Snape shook his head, slowly, "I mean that they have one daughter. and her marriage would make their choices rather obvious."
Harry thought he understood Snape, for once - the Parkinsons were dealing in mights, and coulds, and dids that weren't viewed by most people. If they did Voldemort a large favor, and did the same for the Order, well, they could have both sides in their pockets. For a while, at least. And if one side or the other found out, they could always sway away from that side.
"They will chose both sides, if they can." Snape smirked, "Only open warfare will stop them from succeeding."
Harry remembered, suddenly, being small. Not wanting to get squished between Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Pansy had always hung on Malfoy's arm, but... that in of itself showed that her family wasn't on equal terms with him. Not with her acting like such a yes woman. Harry frowned, recognizing that he'd have to throw out a lot of uncharitable thoughts about Pansy Parkinson - she was clearly not a vapid, fainting woman. So why had she pretended to be such?
[a/n: Bets on whether Harry asks Pansy about this?
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