It was two days later, and Potter was puffing up a hill when Snape sent him a gift-wrapped hex, which he, of course, dodged. Straight into a tree. .Ow. No use thinking that he'd show some compassion, it's Snape, for goodness sakes! Snape had continued running, and Potter doggedly got to his feet, knowing there'd be hell to pay if he didn't catch up before the lap was over.
Coming down the hill on the other side, Potter was blindsided by an acidic hex, bubbles springing up over his left arm, as he fell, his mouth open in a silent scream. Muttering to himself, he cast the mending charm, and was gratified to see most of the physical damage fading. The pain, however, had left afterimages in his vision, and he really didn't want to be running with white ghosts dancing in front of his eyes - he was liable to hurt something, and that would impede his actual training. Potter's eyes widened, as he pulled a desperate ploy out of nowhere. "Snape, sir, what are you hiding? What do you know, that everyone else doesn't?"
As hoped, Snape strode out from behind the tree he had been using to screen his presence. He looked furious, but as that was nearly normal, Potter didn't pay it much heed. "Have you never heard the saying, Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead ? If I wanted to tell you, I would. It's no use asking me to change my mind." By this point, Potter had gotten to his sore feet. Swaying, he shook his head to at least clear his vision. It helped... a little. He didn't say a word as Snape continued in his easy lope, though Harry was certainly quite jealous of the older man's long stride. Why did I have to be so short?
Snape's nostrils flared with displeasure, as he looked down at Potter. "Cast the spell I taught you this morning." Snape said. Potter made to get wearily to his feet, when Snape drawled, "You can cast as well on the ground as standing, I trust." Potter looked at him carefully, mistrustful of this unexpected kindness, "Yes sir." Wearily, he performed the spell - a chained matrix between an absorbent shield, and a silent alarm spell. Snape nodded curtly as Potter performed the spell properly the first time. It was the closest thing to approval the mordant man seemed willing to give.
"Sit up, Potter." Snape said, and launched into a lecture. "It has long troubled me that the Patronus spell is taught in the Defense against the Dark Arts curriculum. Teaching it there encourages lazy thinking, and leaves the exploration of the spell to only the most inquisitive of pupils. Tell me how you think the spell works, Potter."
Harry Potter had learned a thing or two about dealing with Snape. Unlike Moody, he was patient - up to a very brief point, so Potter spent a moment gathering his thoughts. "It's a spell more done by the mind than by magick, sir. It binds your happiest memory into a form where it can protect you from the influence of Dementors."
"You prove my point so aptly, Potter." Snape said, his mouth slightly softening from its usual hard line. "A patronus has many uses, from casting light (a remarkably inefficient use), to providing an unhittable distraction, to sending messages to your allies or enemies." Harry Potter looked at Snape, glad for once that this wasn't technical enough that he wanted parchment for notes.
"Any happy, joyous, gleeful memory will do. Taught in Defense against the Dark Arts, people are encouraged to turn to their happiest memory, which is well and good when you are defending against Dementors. But it's hardly the only way to use the spell." Snape purred, "Allow me to demonstrate."
Snape's dark wand moved in the intricate pattern for the Patronus spell, and before them stood a silvery doe. "My happiest memory comes from when I was nine. Simple, childlike joy tends to be most people's happiest memory." Shrewdly, Snape studied Potter a moment, before continuing, "You may find your happiest memory when you first discovered magic was real, or when you first saw Hogwarts for the first time." Harry knew it was neither of those, tainted by fear or preoccupied with other things. No, for him it would be his first flying lesson, diving for Neville's rememberall - outrage and indignation tossed aside by the sheer joy of flight, with just a dash of righteousness.
"Serenity will serve as well, in a pinch." Snape said, as he summoned a different patronus - a wispy bat.
"Triumph - pure triumph, untainted by malicious intent," Snape said, as he summoned a white tiger, the black stripes making it half-invisible.
"Protectiveness, unselfish and true." Snape said, summoning a mongoose. He laid down a hand, and the mongoose curled up his arm. "The spectral animals move as real animals would - have you noticed?" Snape's voice was unaccustomedly soft, almost as if he didn't want to scare the patronus. "This one, for example, can dig - the bat can, of course, fly adeptly."
"You will need to learn to cast quite a few patronii, Potter. Take some time tonight and tomorrow, and we shall see what you've accomplished. Make sure you know your memory thoroughly, don't muddle it with two or three."
Snape cast again, his patronus a dog - wait, Harry squinted - was that a Grim? He looked askance at Snape, who smirked, "And that's one that you're too young for yet." With a wave of his wand, Snape set off at a steady lope - and Harry followed a moment later.
What could he possibly mean? It took him three strides before it hit him - sex. But, um, why would Snape say that he was too young for sex? Harry took another twenty strides while pondering that one. Oh, he doesn't want to... "Yes sir, definitely too young for that." Potter said crisply, and Snape sent him a sly glance.
Snape responded in that purr of his, "A good thing too, I don't think I could possibly explain the questions a Gryffindor might dream up."
The thought of Snape sitting him down for a talk on the birds and the bees was equally appalling to Harry. Quietly, playfully, Harry Potter said, "I think I'd have trouble understanding the subtlety of a Slytherin anyway, sir." To this, Snape snorted.
"As your father is unlikely," Here Snape's mouth quirked, "to be of much assistance, you might try asking Mr. Weasley. He's certainly given the talk to enough Gryffindors, I doubt you could ask anything that would surprise him."
"I might take that advice, sir." Harry Potter said, thinking that locker room chats were good enough about a lot of things, but perhaps an adult perspective might provide a different view on things. If nothing else, it couldn't hurt.
[a/n: Snape helping obliquely. Yes, he's a teacher, he's found 12 year olds in broom closets before. Both Potter and Snape are aware of this.
Snape doesn't particularly mind quoting Benjamin Franklin in front of Harry Potter, as he is certain that Potter's not read enough to realize that Snape was quoting a Muggle.
An explanation of the memories Snape has:
Doe - first meeting Lily.
Bat - sitting on a large rock by the Black Lake, at night, gazing out over the mirrordark waters.
Asshole Tiger (no, really, it's a mythological character) - one of the better pranks he played on the Marauders. Most of his memories of pranks are unsuitable, of course, but that one was simple, sheer fun.
Mongoose - Him casting the counterspell at Harry's broom, first year.
Grim - my authorial joke about the "little death" that is slang for orgasm. Snape gets the reference, and finds it just as humorous as I do.
Writing a Snape that didn't take an interest in Harry Potter when he discovered abuse during those Occlumency lessons, means writing a more jaded person - someone who's seen enough people come out of troubled homes that it didn't really bother him nearly as much as Potter's arrogance.
Enjoy, folks, and write a review!]