"Sir," Harry Potter began, "I believe I've made some progress on the task you assigned me over the summer.
"Demonstrate it, then." Snape said, as Potter's eyes clouded over in confusion.
"Oh, no sir, not that task. The one about the Defense Study Group." Harry responded. "It starts with me talking with Hermione, and getting her to talk with Neville, who has had a crush on her for the longest time..."
"I have little patience for adolescent drama in the best of times, Potter." Snape drawled.
"Yes, sir, I'll keep it brief." Harry Potter said, "Neville, who is study partners with Susan, can get her to talk with her best friend Hannah, who can just ask Zack Smith to head the Defense Study Group. And, because he wants to impress her, he's likely to agree."
"How will you convince people that you aren't interested in leading?" Snape asked coldly.
"Because I'm not. Sincerity is a virtue, is it not?" Harry Potter said ascerbically, and Snape muffled an appreciative snort.
"Perhaps only to Hufflepuffs." Snape said dismissively.
"Which is exactly why I'm suggesting it. Quiddich takes up enough of my time that it's a convincing line, anyway. Maybe I can be captain this year?" Harry Potter asked, not exactly waiting for a response. "Still," Harry Potter said, frowning pensively, "I haven't been able to come up with anything to do with the Slytherins..."
"We'll get to that in a moment. First, is there some reason you are set on Mister Smith?" Snape asked.
"Yeah, because he's likely to take it on, just out of jealousy of me." Harry Potter said resolutely.
"You do realize that you're going to need to find something better than that, to convince people to ask him." Snape said with a smug look on his face, "He has, or so I'm told, quite the reputation as a markedly unpleasant and obstreperous person."
"Not that you'd know anything about that, sir." Harry Potter said, pausing to think, "I think I can get Hermione to push for it - for him. After all, she can be much more interested in the Study Group than I am. Everyone will believe that." Harry paused again, sensing the impatient gleam in Snape's eyes, then continued, "And Hermione can make sure that we split teaching duties, so that it's not just Smith teaching us what he knows."
"Will you take a turn at teaching?" Snape asked, wondering.
"Yeah, if there's enough other people. Don't want to stand out too much." Harry Potter said.
"Words I thought you incapable of speaking." Snape said smugly, entirely too pleased to take credit for Harry's humility. "As for the Slytherins, the first person that must be dealt with is Draco Malfoy."
Harry Potter merely nodded. Draco Malfoy, while not the most senior of people in Slytherin House, had enough wealth and influence to be a powerful decisionmaker. "But, sir! - I don't know how to convince him!" Harry spat his frustration like nails, his composure cracking under the repeated strain of nothing works.
"Ah." Snape said, letting the word fall into the air, until Harry gained back a reasonable facsimile of his composure. "That doesn't matter."
"What?" Harry Potter asked, as Snape leaned back, crossing his legs, "How can that not matter?"
"Because if he decides, himself, to say yes, then you've won." Snape paused for a blink, "And if he does not, then you'll be dangling the opportunity in front of the next Slytherin. Opportunists all, they won't be able to say no to an opportunity that Draco Malfoy himself decided to spurn. Your task is to find three Slytherins that will serve your purposes. Run your selection by me first."
Harry Potter considered this, at last whispering, "Slytherins really are ambitious."
"Yes, Potter. Sometimes to a fault." Snape said. "Now, get out of here before your friends become convinced I'm using you for a blood ritual or something."
Harry Potter stood, and leapt out of the room, feeling grateful and satisfied - and very, very quick to leave.
[a/n: Well? I had something else in here that Snape was going to say, but this whole thing flows far better without it. School of Hard Knocks it is! Haha!
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