Hermione fidgeted, something Harry vividly remembered from her first year. Harry thought, I wonder if she always does that when she's lying? Thinking back to Umbridge, Harry concluded, No, it's only when she cares about her reputation. Harry blinked, and wondered, How do I look when I lie? More importantly, who can I get to tell me?
At last, Hermione spoke up, and when she did, it was clear that her lie was going to be broad and sweeping. "Harry had started showing Ron and me how to conjure Patronii..." Hermione frowned her "I was struggling with schoolwork" frown. "It was difficult. I wasn't getting it." Hermione said that last bit with a level of viciousness that Harry associated with the desire to dissect one's enemies.
Snape stood, still as stone, just listening to the lie.
Hermione frowned, tapping a finger on her chin, "I think it was the third time we were practicing, that Malfoy waltzed in, all full of himself as usual." Shite, that's bloody clever! Telling him about the Other study group, the one she's allowed to mention to anyone!
Snape asked simply, "Did you not put up a privacy charm? Patronii are personal things, after all."
Hermione said, "With that badge he wears," Carefully not calling it Snape's fault, "Malfoy thinks he can disregard such pleasantries." The emphasis placed on the last word to signify that it had taken a good deal of effort to unravel the charm.
Harry said, "Wouldn't leave, neither. Said he wanted to see what was so hard." Harry fought himself out of making a pose, instead just firming his jaw, "I called his bluff, sir. If he was so high and mighty, let's see him pull it off."
Hermione smiled a thin satisfied smile, "He couldn't do it, sir."
Harry said, "It's supposed to be about a happy memory, sir, isn't it? Well, I told everyone about my happiest memory-"
Snape lifted an eyebrow, "And that helped?"
"Not a jot, sir." Harry responded, his mouth quirking into a small smile.
Hermione said, "But, sir, if you don't have happiness, why not try to make happiness?"
Snape gave Hermione a look. "That's a child's game. Adult problems aren't so easy to set aside."
Harry thought, And what does that say about Malfoy, that he can cast a Patronus? Hades below, what does it say about any of us?
Hermione nods, thoughtfully. "Childish or no, we were playing around, goofing around, trying to find some happiness, something silly or ridiculous or - he kissed me, sir, I know he did!"
Snape looked at her, saying simply, "Your veracity is less at issue than his, I believe?"
Hermione nodded, emphatically. "It was practically just a peck on the lips, sir. And then he's saying, moments later, that 'No one's to talk about what they've done or seen here.' " Hermione twisted her hands together, and said, "I just don't know what he was thinking!"
Snape stroked his chin, frowning for a moment, "Have you considered that he wasn't?"
Hermione asked, "Wasn't what?"
Snape said, "Wasn't thinking." put in such a tone that he made it perfectly clear Hermione should have gotten the point.
Hermione said, "What - but - how?!"
Harry was abruptly glad she hadn't gestured that, as she'd have probably knocked over a cauldron or two in her confusion. "It'll sound silly," Harry interjects - because he'd rather be the one talking about boys' urges, rather than The Potions Master Snape, "But hormones."
Hermione turned slowly towards Harry, with a dangerously angry look in her eye. Tell her Malfoy wasn't playing, and you get an explosion?!
Harry hurried to prevent impending disaster, "I don't mean that he'd have done it to anyone, of course. It's just - your cat Crookshanks jumps for birds even when there's a screen between them, doesn't he?"
Hermione nodded slowly, her rage easing with the continual balm of Harry's words.
"Well, if a boy likes a girl, it can be like that. Desire, urges - wanting to do wildly inappropriate things." Harry said.
Snape nodded, "And that was quite an inappropriate act." He let it sit there, "Even if in the hypothetical situation you are describing, Mister Malfoy would most certainly not have admitted fault."
Hermione straightened, slightly, and tried to look Snape in the eye. His extra foot on her made that difficult, of course. "Are you-?"
Snape nodded, "When you give me a puzzle, and the pieces don't fit, you are lying." Snape paced, a quick three steps away from them, and three back. Shite, shite, shite.
As he returned, he spoke, "Mister Malfoy would never have called it inappropriate in front of your 'Golden Trio.' "
Harry asked, "and why not?"
"You lack the context to have understood his comment." Snape said simply, "You might have taken it as a slur against your friend - or any number of wildly divergent interpretations." Snape shook his head decisively. "No, that is a comment he would have made in front of Purebloods."
"What does it mean, sir?" Hermione asked.
"Are you familiar with the posting of the banns?" Snape asked instead.
Hermione nodded, "I am."
"They were done in a churchyard. Marriages are done in public places." Snape said, "Wherever Mister Malfoy was, it was considered a private place. Within such a venue, it is substantially more appropriate to ask for privacy."
Harry said, "So he didn't want people spreading tales?"
Snape nodded, "A bit more than that. If it's not to count as marriage - or even betrothal, Mister Malfoy is essentially saying that the kiss was an indiscretion."
"Why-?!" Hermione said, her hands balling into fists, "Is he treating me like some sort of floozy sir?!"
Snape said sternly, "Such action likely has saved your life, Miss Granger."
Harry looked up at Snape sharply. "Her life?" he heard his voice squeak, and did not feel shame.
Retreating a step to see them both with his sharp eyes, Snape said, "What do you think a Death Eater would say to her kinsman who would pledge his troth with a Mudblood?"
"Avada Kedavra." Harry said grimly.
"That's right," Snape said simply. "Mister Malfoy's actions have as much as stated that he is interested in you - though that is not a fact that will be bandied about. It is, on some level, a light claim."
"Like she belongs to him?" Harry said, starting to fall out of shock and into outrage.
"Precisely so," Snape said, "Most adolescent wizards will choose their friendships over fighting over a witch."
"We aren't talking friendships, though!" Hermione said, putting her hands on her hips.
Snape purred, "No, but we are talking the Malfoys. Were any other wizard to have done such - to another witch, perhaps, it might have precipitated some sort of competition."
"What's so special about the Malfoys?" Harry asked.
"What's so special about the Blacks?" Snape shot back, mockingly.
All the more galling because Harry didn't have the answer.
Snape paced around them, "The Blacks are, as a family, known for madness and irrational behavior. The Malfoys are known for being mean, and unwise to cross. Taken together, his kiss has given you a small measure of safety, from some of the vices that Death Eaters are known for."
And if that wasn't the most delicate way to say rape, ever...
"Thank you, sir." Hermione said, sounding chastened.
"I'm not done," Snape said. "Potter, these books will be your detention. Finish them over the weekend. At your leisure." Snape let out a dark laugh, as he unveiled a stack of books as high as Harry's torso, clear up to his neck!
Hermione looked like she wanted to pounce the books.
"Yes, Miss Granger, you may read the books as well."
Hermione sent Snape a blinding smile, "Thank you sir!"
Snape's eyes seemed to soften with a particularly dark brand of humor, that didn't seem like it included either of them in the joke. Those books can't be good... Harry thought with some trepidation.
[a/n: Surely you were expecting some books, Potter?
What are your thoughts on this chapter?
Malfoy was rather desperately trying to call something back that he REALLY shouldn't have done.
Malfoy is one of the most impulsive Slytherins, even if he's better at controlling himself than first year.
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