"Greetings, Master Snape," Professor Flitwick said in his high pitched voice, that was nonetheless trying for "cool and collected." To Harry's ear, it fell dramatically short.
"Greetings, Master Flitwick," Snape said, and Harry wondered suddenly if everyone was a master (Hermione'd only mentioned Snape, but she'd know. Why didn't he? That seemed like something moderately important...). "To what do I owe the pleasure?" Snape's voice dripped acid.
Harry pictured Snape looking around the Headmaster's Office, as Snape said, "All the Ravenclaws at once? This looks to be something that their Head of House could resolve, certainly?" Snape said cuttingly. "Some intrahouse argument?" Harry mentally populated the Office with at least the sixth years, and probably the seventh and fifth years as well.
Chang, unwisely, spoke up, "We're united in this, sir. Our dispute is with you."
"Re-ally?" Snape said in a singsong voice, "I can't imagine why you'd have a dispute with me."
Professor Flitwick spoke up, "You offered extra credit to Hermione Granger. My Ravenclaws would like an equal opportunity."
Snape snorted, looking a bit smug, "Did I? That's odd, I do not recall." Harry could picture Snape looking smug at this, and realized (as he'd made sure to remember the exact wording) that Snape hadn't... quite... offered to give extra credit to Hermione. Harry nodded slightly at this, thinking that it was clear that Snape was Up To Something.
Harry pictured Snape striding around the room, and turning back to the Ravenclaws, as Dumbledore watched, quietly interested. Snape continued after a pause, "Gentlemen, I am not in the habit of offering extra credit for the purposes of wasting your time, as other professors do so often."
"If-" Snape said, the emphasis landing heavily on the word, "I have not offered you extra credit, it is because in my judgement, your scores are contingent on your talent and determination. That is to say, I will offer extra credit when someone's detrimental scores do not reflect their true abilities."
Harry heard the slight ruffling of robes, students shifting uneasily on the other side of the room.
Snape said, quickly - as if he was interrupting someone about to speak - "Your scores in my Potions class are coherent with my estimations. However," Snape said, pausing, "There are three of you here whose scores in my other class leave something to be desired. I believe I can see my way to providing you extra credit, if you'll make it worth my while." Snape paused, and said smoothly, "That goes for any of you. However, this is a limited time offer - if you are interested, see me before Monday."
The Ravenclaws shifted uneasily. They had come prepared to yell, Flitwick had come with arguments - and here Snape had neatly sidestepped them, and even offered them extra credit. The fact that he'd never done so before... well, he was certainly doing so now.
"If that will be all?" Snape asked abruptly, taking advantage of the general confusion. Dumbledore nodded (Harry assumed, as that question could only have been for the Headmaster), and Snape whirled into the floo.
Hermione made to open her mouth, and Snape - dark eyes boring into hers - ran a finger along his lips.
From the other end of the floo, Boot said, "Canny bastard. Didn't even bother telling us who needs the extra credit."
Haworth said, "I'm one of them. Never did do well on the written tests. Decent on the practicals though."
"Who's up for some extra credit?" Chang asked, and there was a round of murmured assent.
Snape brought his hand down on the mantle with a crack, breaking the connection. Turning towards the two Gryffindors (only barely beginning to process that Snape had just blatantly eavesdropped in front of them), Snape said mildly, "It is sometimes more effective to have a malfunctioning floo, rather than one in precise working order."
Harry just nodded, staring at Snape, whose expression was unreadable - again.
"As for the two eavesdroppers that I've caught in my office," Snape said, his voice taking on elements of parade snap. "Detention is in order." Snape pulled two pieces of chalk from the desk, and threw them at Granger and Potter. Harry Potter easily caught his, but Granger's wound up on the floor, broken in two pieces. With a heavy sigh, Snape stood, walking towards her. He passed her a new, straight piece of chalk, then bent and picked up the two white pieces on the ground. He popped them into his mouth, and began chewing.
Hermione was fighting the urge to ask a question - Harry could tell, despite not having her in his cone of vision - she was practically vibrating.
Snape gave them a heavy nod as he swallowed, "Third floor corridor, left side, inside the armor's chest. Mark when you would like detention, at least a day in advance. If I am detained or have other business, I shall cross it out."
Hermione just looked at him, somewhat confused. Harry, understanding that Snape had decided that Private Potions Lessons were a ridiculous cover when the Gryffindors were obviously up to Out-Of-Bounds Missions nearly constantly, smiled thinly. Better to give us 'movable detentions.'
"It goes without saying, that you will not bother me during office hours. Ever. Again." Snape said the last two words as he leaned over both Potter and Granger, and Harry fought the urge to salute.
Hermione responded with a weak, "Yes sir."
"Dismissed." Snape said, and Harry walked out of the... without having done a thing. Which, of course, he thought with a sinking heart, just meant he'd have to go back. Again.
[a/n: Twice was one time too many.
Questions resolved in this chapter merely lead to more questions, I fear.
So keep reading! And leave a review, a question, or an answer!
"Why is Snape doing this?" is less important than "WHAT is Snape doing?"
Also, if you missed it, I put up two chapters yesterday.]