TITLE: It Won't Kill You
AUTHOR: Haruka Lune
RATING: PG-13/T for language and homosexuality.
NOTES: Written for the Master and the Wolf FQF, Challenge 213) Snape forces a student/students to get Lupin to fall for him.
There is a slight twist at the end of this (okay, a big twist), as is common to most of my writing. It might appear that it doesn't fulfil the challenge because technically the student doesn't succeed, but . . . oh, just read it.
"What do you call this mess, Potter?"
Harry struggled against the urge to say 'I call it your worst nightmare, sir,' and then to tip the cauldron over his most hated teacher's robes. Instead he responded, through clenched teeth, "Basic Dream Potion."
Snape raised an eyebrow, and Harry reluctantly added a "sir" to his last comment.
"I fail to see how you can classify this - this -" Snape ladled up a sticky mass of red that was supposed to be a clear gold water-thin concotion - "Potter, kindly explain how this classifies as a Basic Dream Potion!"
Harry just glared.
"Ten points from Gryffindor, Potter. And I expect to see you after class. Evanesco." Snape Vanished Harry's potion and stalked back toward his desk. Ron muttered unrepeatable things about Snape. Hermione just looked pitying.
It was that annoying all-for-the-best-in-the-best-of-all-possible-worlds look that finally drove Harry to do what he did next.
"If you want to yell at me so badly for messing up under your unclear direction, Professor, then why don't you just do it in front of the entire class like you do to Neville and Hermione, sir?"
The class went completely and utterly silent. They'd never seen anyone sign his own death warrant before. Snape's voice, when next he spoke, was dangerously low.
"Mr. Potter . . . detention. Tonight. My office. Five o'clock. And not a moment later, you understand?"
Harry paused outside the office door, staring down at the watch he'd borrowed from Ron. He wasn't going to be late, but he was damned if he'd give the bastard the satisfaction of being early. Finally the watch beeped and Harry knocked on the door.
He pushed the door open and stared, transfixed. Snape was . . . playing . . . for lack of a better word, with one of the things in jars that normally lined his office. As Harry stepped into the office he replaced it on the shelf behind him and glanced up over Harry's head. "You're late."
Harry turned to stare at whatever . . . he was staring at and found a clock several feet above his head. Five-oh-two. "But my watch says five o'clock, Professor, so -"
Snape ignored him. He appeared to be marking an essay. Was this Harry's punishment, to stand and watch the man correct essays all night instead of going up to dinner?
"I have no time to deal with you, Potter." The threateningly silky voice startled him out of his reverie.
"Er . . . right. Should I come back -"
"And so I am giving you a choice."
Snape looked up and smiled grimly before standing in his slow, overly dramatic fashion and stepping down off the raised platform on which his desk sat.
"Are you completely dense, Potter? I said you have a choice."
"You may complete one full week of detentions."
Or? Harry wasn't sure he liked where this might be going. This, after all, was Snape. Not a man to be trusted, whatever Dumbledore had to say.
"Or . . . "
Harry's shoulder blades began to itch from the irritation of standing so completely still for so bloody long.
"You may convince Remus Lupin to join me in Hogsmeade two Fridays from this coming."
Harry blinked and shook his head. Surely he hadn't heard that correctly. "Wh-wh-what?"
Snape repeated it.
Harry considered. Oh, this was going to hurt. "I'll take the detentions, thanks."
Snape raised an eyebrow.
"By any means necessary" wasn't the Slytherin motto for nothing.
"But - but - sir - that's going to take ages, and I've got homework to finish - "
"You should have thought of that before you chose to disrespect me, Potter. Now start scrubbing." Ah, he thought with an invisible grin of satisfaction, the dreaded Scrubbing-The-Potions-Classroom-Floor punishment. Snape had done it once himself, just to figure out exactly how long it took to produce the desired and expected results without magic. It had taken him four hours, and by the time he was done he wasn't crying, exactly, but tears of pain had insisted on squeezing out of his eyes in protest against his back and knees and arms.
He hadn't slept that night. But it was worth it.
Oh, yes, it was worth it. No student ever scrubbed the floor twice. Once was enough for all of them to stop stepping so severely out of line..
Two hours. Two and a half. And then Potter emptied his scrub bucket, and told Snape he was done.
Snape pulled a white glove from his desk and slid it onto his hand.
He checked the floor.
And then he told Potter to do it again.
Today Potter was fuming. He'd been set one thousand lines. "I will not disrespect my elders." "I will correctly and promptly complete the tasks set me in class." And "I will not talk back to my teachers." One thousand lines. Each.
Around the time he started complaining of blisters, Snape pulled a jet-black quill with a very sharp point from his desk, and threw it down in front of the boy.
Potter turned white.
Snape picked the quill up again and slid it into his pocket. "Be glad I don't feel like being so cruel, Potter."
"Potter, what is this?"
Harry stared into the depths of his cauldron, crawling with cloudy white mist.
"Too hot?" he suggested.
Snape wasn't amused.
Harry lost it - again. "Look, can't you even let me try to fix my mistakes? Why do you keep doing this?"
Tense silence reigned throughout the classroom.
"I think an extra detention is in order for this Saturday, Potter," Snape whispered menacingly. "That makes four that you owe, I believe."
Potter stared at the profusion of books around him. Alphabetize them. Sort them by subject, then alphabetize by author's last name.
He was standing in Snape's personal study.
All four walls were full of books.
Floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall books.
Many with very old covers and hard-to-read names.
Some were in languages with different characters Harry'd never seen before.
Snape thought he might have actually heard a resigned sob coming from the boy before he started looking at the names on the spines.
Snape had done this task on his own once before, too.
Potter had a nasty seven hours ahead of him.
"Harry? Harry, are you all right?"
Hermione Granger wasn't sure what she expected - a tense "I'm fine," most likely, or perhaps some threadbare excuse - not enough sleep, worried about homework, or so on.
What she knew she wasn't expecting was for Harry to burst into tears.
"Harry . . . "
"Look, I don't want to talk about it, okay?"
Ron settled in on his other side. Harry looked mortified.
"Look, mate, I think you need to talk about it. I mean, I'm no expert, but I've been timing when you get back to the dorms and - I mean, what did he have you doing for nine hours?"
"Sorting books." Harry sniffled and wiped his glasses on his sleeve.
"Sorting books?" Hermione looked appalled. "Where? Harry, I know you weren't in the library, so what's -"
"He's got this huge study thing in his quarters. Hermione's Paradise, I think they ought to call it," Harry explained, offering a slightly watery smile. "Do you know how many books are in there?"
His friends shook their heads.
"Eight thousand, six hundred and ninety-four. And he's read all of them. There were bookmarks in every single one. And I had to find them and take them out on top of everything else."
Ron looked mortified.
"But Harry, why's he being so hard on you? I mean, criticizing a teacher is always a bad idea, but - "
"He wants me to get Remus to go out with him." The words came out in an unplanned rush.
Perfectly reassuring reaction - proved he wasn't entirely off his head yet. He repeated himself.
Ron was the first to break out of the shock-induced silence. "But, mate, I thought Snape hated Remus. I mean -"
"I thought so too," Harry murmured, rubbing tears off his face and putting his glasses back on. "But I think he's just going to keep coming up with excuses to keep me on in detention until I give up."
Ron and Hermione stared at him, horrified. Harry gave them another watery grin.
"I wouldn't worry too much, you guys. I mean, sooner or later McGonagall's bound to complain that my homework's not getting done because I'm sitting too many detentions with Snape, right?"
"I'm sorry, Potter, but copying your friends' work simply is not acceptable. You'll be sitting detention with Professor Snape."
"SNAPE? But, but, Professor McGonagall, I swear I didn't -"
"Potter, the essays are almost word-for-word exact copies. I doubt if even the Weasley twins could pull off such a feat without committing plagiarism, Potter. Tuesday at eight."
"Ah, Mister Potter. Late as usual."
Harry was not late. He was in fact a full five minutes early. But today, today, he would not rise to the bait. Ron had admitted to copying his own essay, without thinking, so Harry would have something turned in. It had been a nice gesture . . . except for the fact that he now had to scrub the floor of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom without magic. He was on the last half-foot square when Snape, who'd been sitting with his feet propped up on a chair and a book in his hand, chose to stand up and stride away toward the door, leaving a trail of muddy footprints behind him.
This time Harry did cry.
"Right, so, Professor Snape's good qualities, then?"
Harry started in with almost nary a thought. "He's a sarcastic bastard. He's raised grudge-holding to an art form. He acts like a complete drama queen."
"Well, if you wanted his bad qualities to equal out the list, we could add in there that he's got this habit of yawning loudly and making comments about Luna being my girlfriend."
Hermione fixed him with a Patented You've-Done-Something-Wrong Hermione Glare. "Harry, you never told us you were going out with Luna!"
"Er. I didn't?"
"Well . . . "
"SNAPE knew you had a girlfriend before we did?"
"That's just sad, Harry. You know we're your friends, you ought to be able to talk to us."
"Well . . . "
Hermione sighed in a long-suffering manner before looking at the blank parchment in front of her. "Well . . . he's got nice eyes, I suppose . . . " she offered, trying to be encouraging. "And he's intelligent."
"Harry, I asked him if I could borrow a book just so I could find out what exactly that library of his looked like. You said he'd read all of those books. Do you realize those non-English books are in Greek, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Latin, French, and four forms of Chinese? Does that sound like a stupid man to you?"
"No . . . it sounds like a show-off."
Hermione sighed and turned back to her list.
"Excuse me, Potter?"
Harry tried not to rage. "I said I want to know what you're playing at, sir."
Snape closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. "Explain yourself or go away, Potter."
"I want to make sure you're not taking Remus for a ride. He's - well, he's not my best mate, exactly, but he's like family. I'm not going to do anything that's going to get him hurt."
"I believe I made my motives perfectly clear when I first offered you this choice, Potter."
"I just know Slytherins too well to think you've not got an ulterior motive, with all due respect, Professor."
Snape sat up again and sighed. He could feel a headache coming on. "If you want the honest truth, Potter, I get rather tired of being the only male under eighty years of age in this building, and the only teacher under fifty years of age. It does become monotonous. The first time Lupin taught here I refused his offer of friendship, and learned to regret it. If he could hold an intelligent conversation with me - as he is more than willing to do with everyone else - instead of constantly apologising for everything he does and says and has ever done and said down to being born, I don't think I would mind having someone with whom to hold a civil conversation."
Harry bit his tongue to keep from pointing out that Snape really hadn't done anything to make the situation better, and instead queried, "So what exactly do you expect me to do? I mean, I don't think 'Hey, Remus, Professor Snape wants to go out with you' is going to get a very warm reception, you know?"
"I know that I expect you to use proper English in my class, Potter, and that I expect you to be creative. I know why you were placed in Gryffindor, Potter. It is because you lack the subtlety required to complete delicate tasks, scorning that method in favor of charging ahead like a mad bull in rut."
Harry snorted. Snape raised an eyebrow.
"Just because I make an analogy involving an animal, Potter, that does not mean that you are required to act like said animal."
Harry tried hard not to snort again. "Yes, sir."
"Go on. Get out of here. I have work to do."
Just as Harry walked out of the room, Severus fingered a bottle full of rich, bronzy liquid on his desk.
"Harry, if we get caught and expelled because of you I swear I'm going to -"
"Hermione, will you just shut up before we do get caught?"
"Ron, that was my foot!"
Harry had been on his way out the portrait hole when he was waylaid by his friends, who'd noticed it opening entirely on its own. After yelling at Harry for sneaking out way after curfew, Hermione slipped under the Invisibility Cloak with him to aid him in the mission she still didn't know the end of. Harry'd considered it better to keep them in the dark, at least at first. Finally they stopped in front of a forbidding door.
"No way, mate, we are not breaking into Snape's office."
"Ron, you idiot, I saw the bottle on his desk. We've got to have it. It's some kind of mild love potion, I know it - I looked it up. Hermione, stop looking at me that way. Gryffindor vs. Slytherin is on Saturday, and if I don't get Remus out with Snape on Friday I'm not going to be in the game on Saturday, see? I mean, what's the worst that can happen? Remus goes, he has a miserable time, and says he doesn't think it would work out, right? No harm done."
"So why did you drag us along?"
"You wanted to come with me!"
"Yeah, but if I'd known -"
"Will you two be quiet? I've got it open," Hermione hissed, "no thanks to you . . . hurry up, Harry, we've only got about five minutes before he gets down here to find out what happened . . . "
Harry slipped out from under the cloak. Quick as thinking, he slid into the office, plucked the bottle of bronze liquid from the desk, and replaced it with a decoy bottle Hermione had made. Hurrying back out the door, Harry dived under the cloak just as footsteps echoed in the last stairwell. Unable to move for fear of attracting attention, the three could only sit and watch with baited breath as Snape, wearing nothing but a pair of black flannel pajamas stared suspiciously down the corridor before entering his office. Harry cast a Silencing Charm on Hermione, who was trying very hard not to laugh over Snape's nightclothes ('Girls,' Harry thought). Finally finished if not satisfied, Snape left the office and resealed it.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione took off like lightning as soon as he was gone.
"Right, so . . . two drops should do it, Harry, why am I telling you this? I'm not doing this! I'm not going to -"
"Hermione, SHUT UP!"
Professor Flitwick looked mildly alarmed as Harry's tea saucer, which should have been growing wings, zinged across the room and hit Dean Thomas squarely in the face.
"Hello, Harry, lunchroom too noisy?" Remus greeted his favorite student as he scrawled an 'E' on some O.W.L. student's essay.
"Er, yeah. I just kind of . . . you know . . . well . . . " Harry tried to pull off a good explanation and failed.
Remus just smiled at him. "Tell you what, if you want to run down to the kitchens and get some sandwiches, we can eat up here, does that sound good to you?"
No, not really, Harry thought. At least he could have told Snape he'd tried and failed if Remus hadn't . . .
Harry left the room, certain he'd never felt quite this low in his life.
In a mostly darkened sitting room, two men sat before a crackling fire. One had his head on the other's shoulder. Both were sipping mugs of some kind of sweet, milky beverage.
"You know, that really wasn't very nice, Severus."
Severus granted a half-smile to the tawny-haired man sitting next to him. "He'll never talk back in class again, though."
"You're going to give him a lifelong burden of guilt over something he didn't even start."
"He'll get over it."
"What was in that bottle he put in your office?"
"And what was in the one you meant for Harry to pick up?"
Severus actually laughed that time. "Remus, don't you know beef broth when you taste it?"