Harry Potter couldn't quite quelch the sinking feeling as he strode into Snape's office. It was a small, cramped place - more from the oddities clustered everywhere than from actual lack of space. There was an aborted fetus, eyeballs of all sizes, even what looked to be a cow's head, shorn of it's skin, eyeball half deflated*. All manner of grotesqueries and horrors. Knowing Snape, Harry wouldn't have put it past him to have 'decorated' his office simply to discourage 'idle conversation.' Of course, he was a potions master. Perhaps Hermione would be able to look at the whole place, and tell exactly what Snape was insinuating with his parts collection. Did that eye just wink at him? Harry shook his head, closing the door.
"Yes, Potter?" Snape's voice slid like silk on smooth stone, the expectancy turning it into a soft garotte, ready to strangle him if he didn't get a move on.
"What exactly are you planning?" Harry asked, surprised at his own tone - it was wide-eyed disbelief. Not anger, not exasperation, just a steadied curiosity, backed with a subtle demand.
"Indoor voice, Mister Potter. Unexpected, but welcome." Snape looked smug, but then again, he nearly always looked smug, even - like now - when he was scowling. Still, his eyes said a different story - the lightness in their dark depths hinted at a deeply buried amusement. "As to your question," Snape said, knitting his fingers together, "Rather a lot of things. I'm afraid if you want specifics, you'll have to be specific in turn."
"Why the Inquisition Squad?" Harry asked, glad to hear his voice level and flat.
"How else do you have an illicit club, except by making it so?" Snape said, and continued, "You do know the rules for student clubs - they require a teacher to supervise."
Harry's eyes widened. Snape wasn't ... putting it on him, for not having ... asked? Shite, he was! "But... you could have..."
Snape's response was a mocking smirk. Harry's eyes narrowed, as he continued his runaway train of thought, "And you didn't. You wanted an illicit club - why?"
"You may consider that a homework assignment, Mister Potter." Snape said mildly, his voice warm with smugness and tinged slightly cold with reproof, "If you can come up with five reasons by the end of the month, I will tell you mine."
Harry wasn't quite sure what to do with that. The point of asking questions wasn't generally to be told to 'think harder' and 'find your own solutions,' was it?
"Why doesn't Malfoy know that you're playing both ends against the middle?" Harry Potter said.
Snape smirked, "He doesn't need to know, of course. You'll find there's very little reason to tell people things if you can predict how they'll react without them."
"Provided you like the way they'll respond, given incomplete information." Harry said dryly.
"Quite." Snape said.
"You knew he'd join!" Harry said, shaking his head, "And here I spent hours trying to figure out what to do about the Slytherins."
"Thought experiments are a useful exercise in many subjects." Snape said, leaning back in his chair and raising his arms to knit his hands above his head. "No Slytherin turns down a chance to be included in a secret lightly."
Harry said softly, "Like dangling catnip in front of a cat."
Snape nodded, and then drawled, "If there's nothing else pressing, I believe you have some summer homework assignments to complete."
Harry nodded, said, "Yes, sir," and started to work. It was incredibly difficult to think one thing, and do another, but if Harry concentrated on only spelling half the word, he could say a longer spell than he actually cast. In battle, this wouldn't last two uses - but Harry'd learnt that battles were quick and brutal things, and that any advantage could save your life.
Two hours later, Snape drawled, "Your detention is over, Mister Potter." He paused, his inky eyes appraising Potter, before continuing, "Although I did want to request that you persuade someone to teach that illicit club the Patronus spell in the next week or so..."
Harry thought about that, nodding, "Teach the Patronus - it's one of the few "harmless" battle spells, isn't it? A good one to reinforce cooperation, particularly when someone's going to be paranoid that anything that gets taught will be used against them."
Snape nodded, "Not only that, Potter, but it's also a blazingly strong Light spell. Many will recognize, if only by spell, that people they previously thought were 'probably evil' have at least a pearl of goodness in them."
Harry had to fight back a snort at Snape using that metaphor. "And it'll make the Slytherins feel behind - I've already taught it to the DA." Harry offered, and Snape nodded his understainding, "Which will just make them work the harder." Harry nodded decisively, "I'll see it done."
Harry stumbled out of Snape's office, bone-weary. He made it out of the dungeons without incident, for which he was very glad, as he couldn't have stopped Crabbe from cursing him. He was asleep before he hit his pillow in Gryffindor Tower.
*saw one of these at the meat market when I was eight.
[a/n: Fixed the last chapter. Divination was meant to have some lines, dammit!
Second chapter posted today. Please read the last one...
Any questions? Leave a review. ]