Potions and Laundry
"None of us will have much time free at all in the next few weeks," said Remus, causing Snape to finally turn from the fireplace. "Dumbledore will have us all working against the attack."
"We can't do any more against the attack than has already been done," scoffed Snape. "That is, aside from any action taken once the Dark Lord makes his first move."
"One can never be too prepared," contradicted Remus. "It will be good to arrange for as many of our people as possible to be in the castle, to review the Wards in place and to make sure that however few students remain in the Castle for the holiday can be evacuated at a moment's notice."
"I'm sure you remember the activation Spell you were given in case of emergency when you worked at Hogwarts?" asked Snape snidely. "It still exists."
"I supposed as much," said Remus. "And I also suppose that, just as nobody used it when confronted with an escaped convict and a werewolf then, they won't use it confronted with a Death Eater now. The Professors not in the Order will have to be notified that the Spell is to be used the moment anything untoward is noticed."
Snape shook his head. "So that the next time one of my weak-nerved colleagues sees an unexpected shadow he sends all of the students into Fidelius, whence they can only be returned once whoever the poor fool is that Dumbledore's set as Secret Keeper releases them? A Secret Keeper who, I am sure, is the most hard-to-find, paranoid, secretive, and unknown Wizard Dumbledore could think of. Nobody wants to be the one to explain missing children to distraught parents, and you can imagine what would happen if the Prophet realized that Hogwarts had lost the entire student body – "
"The entire student body?" repeated Remus. "Shouldn't only activate for those students within the Castle walls at the time of activation?"
"It would be logical," admitted Snape, "but the exact parameters of the Spell have never been made known, for obvious reasons. All any of us, aside from Dumbledore and whatever idiot is holding the Key, know for sure is that it will, in the event of activation, make the students completely impossible to find until their location is disclosed."
"I'd rather explain that we'd lost the children until the Keeper was found than explain that they'd been slaughtered by –"
"Lupin," interrupted Snape. "In the first place, the Dark Lord will hardly waste his time with students unless they were to be incredibly foolish and attract his notice. Secondly, if we evacuate the students, that happens to include Potter; and if Potter is not there, the Blood Magic will not be activated and Potter will neither be strengthened, nor will he be able to even attempt to harm the Dark Lord and all of our work up to now is wasted. Frankly, I'm willing to accept the danger to the others as a calculated risk, considering what we stand to gain."
Remus gave an exasperated sigh and sank into his chair. "There must be a way to remove the others, though," he insisted. "Even if that requires using a different Spell than is in place or somehow modifying the old one…"
Snape shook his head. "The fewer people that know that the Dark Lord will be attacking, the more likely it is that we succeed, and the less likely it is that some idiot lets it slip. Should he realize that Dumbledore knows his plans the Dark Lord will change them."
"Or," said Philomena, coming into the room, "you could simply close the school over the holiday."
Remus smiled at her. "I thought you went to bed."
"She merely wanted a dramatic exit," said Snape with a smirk. "She's been lurking in the hall."
She gave a careless shrug, "It worked."
"She's right, you know," said Remus. "It would probably make the most sense to simply close the school."
"Hogwarts hasn't closed its doors in over two centuries," retorted Snape. "We'd have to have a reason. And, as I've been telling you, we can't allow them to know the reason."
"So we lie," said Remus simply. "You know how quickly secrets get out at Hogwarts. All we need to do is quarantine Harry – and let slip to, oh, one or two students that the reason he's in the hospital wing is a case of Dragon Pox, and then –"
"An excellent idea," said Snape, suddenly animated. "We would have to be careful, though. Nobody must know that the true secret is that our secret is a lie – which means that as few people are to know as humanely possible. Preferably, not even Potter."
"It'll be rather hard to get him to fake a sickness if he doesn't know he has to, won't it?" asked Philomena snidely.
"With the right Potions he'd have all the symptoms," said Snape, ignoring her. "With a bit of extra work I could even fool Poppy."
"You can't dose the boy without letting him know," objected Remus, scandalized. "That's not Quidditch!"
"Life isn't Quidditch, Lupin," answered Snape, bemused. "Besides, it would be a lesson to him not to take Potions he doesn't recognize – if he swallows my Dreamless Sleep, he'll swallow anything."
Remus shook his head. "I am going to pretend I didn't just hear that. Gods, Snape, that sort of thing can get you sacked!"
Snape shrugged. "The boy needs sleep and I am willing to bet the fairly ridiculous salary and the pleasure and privilege of being bespattered with the various slimes my students consider potions on the fact that Dumbledore would forgive the means out of gratitude for the ends."
Remus gave Snape a pointed look, which was ignored.
"Actually," said Philomena, "it would probably best if even Dumbledore had no idea. He has the strangest ideas of what constitutes a 'need to know' situation."
"The whole idea is unethical," insisted Remus.
Snape gave a short, sharp laugh. "That's never stopped you before."
"What's father done that's unethical?" asked Philomena, intrigued.
"He used a Boggart to reveal the highly confidential information of the deepest fear of his students, secretly taught a third year a highly dangerous and potentially draining form of advanced Magic, occasionally indulged in dispensing medical treatment, and even exposed them to his Werewolf form."
"I never dispensed any medical treatment," objected Remus.
"You treated Dementor induced depression," insisted Snape.
"I gave them chocolate!"
"I think it's funny you're arguing about that instead of the rest of it," said Philomena. "Honestly, father. A boggart?"
"Snape's reasons for being upset about the boggart have nothing to do with protecting the privacy of his students," muttered Remus.
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Philomena.
Snape scowled deeply and crossed his arms. "If we might return to the subject at hand, Lupin, I believe the best course is to dose the boy, causing the complete evacuation of all students, and as an added benefit, most of the professors as well."
"Wouldn't you want as many professors as possible to stay?" objected Philomena. "Wouldn't that be safer?"
"It would be safer for them to stay out of the way," said Snape. "I will need to stay to brew Potter some … healing …. Potions, Poppy will stay to monitor them, and will be quite handy to patch up any unexpected injuries resulting from this completely convoluted situation, and Dumbledore will stay on because he always does. I'm not sure about Minerva, but, should she stay, she is one of the few who would be a help rather than a hindrance."
"I have rather grave misgivings about the whole thing," said Remus.
"If anybody dies on Christmas, Lupin, I assure you that the most likely candidates are the Dark Lord and myself," said Snape sourly. "The Potter child has an annoying tendency to survive these things – and we've provided him with more protection than he has ever had before."
"But, Snape –"
"Even if it weren't for the fact that this is the course most likely to save the entire world, I'd do it simply for the privilege of being able to see the Dark Lord's face when he falls," said Snape. "It's sure to be priceless."
"I understand that you don't feel comfortable deliberately putting him in danger," said Philomena to Remus. "But isn't it better, since he is going to be attacked anyway, for there not to be too many potentially distracting people there? It may not be fair or very nice to lock him up in a hospital over Christmas, but isn't that better than risking the health of all of the students, or the potential of leaking the information? After all, it's better for him to be attacked now, when you know the when, the where, and the how of it, than it is to risk You-Know-Who changing his plans and attacking him at some point when you are not ready, probably with something you are not prepared for."
Remus sighed. "Look what not telling him our plans did to him last year."
"It would not have happened if Black had followed instructions and stayed in that thrice condemned house," snapped Snape. "But that was all for the best – the experience made the boy grow a backbone and a brain."
"You're completely heartless," accused Remus. "Sirius left because –"
"It was probable even better for Black," Snape went on mercilessly. "Sweet Merlin, man, he spent over a decade in Azkaban! He had no concept of the fact that everything changed while he was there – Azkaban ate away at the only sanity he ever had. All he had when he came out was a mad obsession to keep Potter safe – not to mention that, seeing a he had been in stuck in solitary confinement with no intellectual stimulation, he was still, for all intents and purposes, the same immature, bigoted idiot he was at twenty."
"Nobody else wanted to see it," said Remus morosely. "He … really didn't understand or comprehend how much the rest of us had changed. Of course, I thought, given time … "
"He might have adapted to circumstances given several years," admitted Snape, "but not in Grimmauld, and definitely not in the presence of Potter."
"He shouldn't have had to stay there," sighed Remus. "But we couldn't let him leave… he'd have been caught…"
"Oh, I don't think so," mused Snape. "After all, he managed fairly well the year before, traipsing about in tropical climes. I told Dumbledore as much, but he believed that, due to the risk of somebody using him against Potter, he should be kept where he could not be reached… Didn't work all too well, did it?"
"You don't sound to cut up about it," remarked Philomena.
"I am not going to pretend I didn't hate the man," snapped Severus. "I was merely trying to illustrate the extreme wisdom and happy results of telling people things they needn't know."
"It happened because we didn't tell Harry that – "
"It happened because we told Black what was going on in the Ministry," snarled Snape. "If we had not, he would not have insisted on coming along, insisted on proving to the world just how much long imprisonment effects even the most basic reflexes."
"That's harsh, even for you," said Remus. "After all, it's not as though it was the stunner that killed him, who'd expect to – "
"The rest of us would expect it," said Snape. "The rest of us knew what we were doing. Black was a liability."
Philomena coughed. "You two have drifted fairly far from the original point of this conversation."
Snape nodded and gave Remus an evil smile. "So, Lupin," he said, "do you want to do this my way, or do you want to risk the chance of some friend of yours who thinks he knows what he's doing pulling a page from Black's book and killing himself trying to rescue the boy? Shall I flip a coin?"
"I think I understand why nobody likes you, now," sighed Philomena. "There's absolutely no need to twist things like that."
"It's not my decision," snapped Remus. "It ought to be Harry's."
Snape shook his head. "If he's allowed to decide what's done with him, then his friends ought to be allowed to decide as well, and I'm sure you won't want them decided to watch his back, would you? You know very well that if we tell him, he tells his whole ever-so-secret student organization, and we'll have just what you want to avoid – a lot of overly eager, overly vulnerable, overly self-confident teenagers running about and looking for a battle to die in. But I suppose if their right to make stupid decisions trumps their safety…"
"How about you two make a compromise?" suggested Philomena. "Let Snape go ahead and fill Potter up with Potions, and you get to tell him after all extraneous and potentially dangerous or vulnerable people are locked out of Hogwarts because of danger of infections."
"If it makes you feel any better," said Snape, "you can pretend that you had just found out and were telling him immediately. No need to let him know you had any hand in it – Circe, why am I even trying? I should just cast Obliviate and get back to work."
"I know it's not ethical or very nice," said Philomena, "but, frankly, I think it solves a lot of problems at once. And besides, you still have a month to think of something else."
Remus gave an exasperated sigh. "There's no point in arguing with me," he said. "Seeing as I'm in absolutely no position to stop him, anyway."
"You could tell the Headmaster," suggested Philomena.
"That wouldn't get me anywhere," Remus sighed. "He'd probably think it was a good idea. And if anything went wrong his excuse would be that he's an old man that makes many mistakes…"
"That is one of his more annoying lines," agreed Snape.
Remus sighed. "It does make sense, and it will probably work, but…"
"You don't want to feel guilty in the event that it goes wrong," said Snape nastily. "If it will do your conscious any good, you can always insist it was all my fault. Everybody else does."
"Who says what was your fault?" asked Remus, distracted.
"Oh, haven't you noticed?" asked Snape with a false lightness. "I'm responsible for every odd death in the Order."
"Is that what 'everybody else' says," asked Philomena, "or is that what you think they should say?"
"Oh for Merlin's sake you foolish girl," snapped Severus. "Spare me your gibberish."
"I have an idea," said Remus, suddenly animated. "All we have to do is make Harry think he thought it up by himself. That'll be easy – all it would take is for him to overhear a conversation where someone expresses concern over the safety of the other students, and the other regretfully points out that the last time the Hogwarts was closed was due to the Dragon Pox epidemic of 1235…."
"There wasn't a Dragon Pox epidemic in Hogwarts," objected Philomena.
"Harry wouldn't know," dismissed Remus. "He leaves that sort of thing to Hermione. And he won't tell Hermione because he knows she'd stay if she knew what was going on, and that she could be hurt because of him if she did stay. So – "
Philomena gave a short laugh, "You realize that you just did exactly as you're suggesting. I mean, you only like the idea now that you've rethought it out yourself."
Remus gave her a mock glare. "Really, though," he said. "I think it wouldn't be too hard to do…"
"Except that Potter couldn't fake his way into the Hospital Wing on his own," Snape pointed out.
"He could if he knew which Potions he had to steal from your stores in order to do so," returned Remus. "If he overheard somebody describing the symptoms in all their gory detail… Everybody knows where you keep all those tempting appearance-altering Potions … "
"That is a deliberate teaching device," Severus put in. "They want the Potions because they cannot have them – and because they want them they're inspired to brew them illegally. Which is the only way on this good little green planet one could possibly get them to practice. And of course giving them Detention gets me the elbow grease needed to clean up after the first years…"
Philomena hid a smile.
"Think about it, Severus," said Remus. "You get the castle emptied, and to laugh at everybody who believes the fakery, I get Harry's safety in a way that won't have him hating us all forever, and Harry gets the blessed illusion of being able to fool all of us."
Snape put his head to one side, considering. "It would have to be our conversation," he said, at long last. "I don't want to bring in a third party."
"Oy," put in Philomena. "What am I? Two point five?"
"Which means I need an excuse to go to Hogwarts," mused Remus.
"Do you really need one?" asked Philomena. "Only Harry needs to see you there, and he won't be able to ask you why you're there without revealing that he was evesdropping…"
"He'll need an excuse for Dumbledore," said Snape. "Preferably something that seems completely obvious and self-explanatory so that he doesn't have to talk to you – have I mentioned you are a terrible liar?"
"In that case I'll just stop by on Sunday to pick up the Wolfsbane," said Remus.
"Finally, being a Werewolf comes in handy," said Philomena. "Call the Daily Prophet."
Harry Potter slid through the extremely narrow passageway, inching slowly, ever so carefully, towards the exit. "Not again," he moaned to himself, as he heard some part of his much-abused uniform tear. "Blast it…"
Finally he reached the end of the passageway, which opened into a large cavern, with a long drop to the floor of it. Fortunately, the floor was covered in a cushioning mass of the largest assortment of black clothing items Harry had ever seen in his life, swimming in a pool of steaming water. "Damnit," he cursed, staring at the soapy mess. "I'm late!"
A warning gurgling noise caused him to look back through the passage he had come from. Turning back to the cavern, Harry squinted into the darkness, finally making out the rough steps on the other side of the pool, leading up to a passage out.
Pausing to make sure the sticking Charm on his glasses was in place, Harry took a deep breath, and jumped.
A stomach churning moment later, he fought his way to the surface and took a few gasping breaths before beginning to swim.
Fighting his way through the many floating robes wasn't easy, and Harry found himself wishing he had never started on his hair brained quest in the first place.
"Sir!" squeaked a voice from the steps. "Sir is being in a bad place. If Sir is staying longer here, he is being drownded, and Mipsy is being in trouble. Mipsy is in charge of making sure nothing alive is being in the laundry when Gadny is turning on the water!"
Harry didn't answer until he managed to grab hold of the first step and haul himself out of the water.
"Students isn't being allowed in the laundry," said the House Elf, wringing her hands. "Students isn't laundry."
Harry spat out a mouthful of soapy water. "I was hoping to get through here while it was still dry," he gasped, scrambling up the steps, his soggy robes squishing noisily against the stone.
"Why is sir being in the laundry?" asked the Elf, once Harry had hauled himself to the top step and into the passage. "Sir must be knowing that the Elves is brining him his robes when they is being finished…"
"I was looking for somebody else's robes, though," admitted Harry, pulling out his wand and casting a drying charm on himself.
A roar of water interrupted them, and Harry winced as he saw the passage he had dived from a moment ago transformed into a roaring waterfall. Soon, the pool was a rising, bubbling, steaming whirlpool.
"Merlin," said Harry shakily. "Hogwarts will never cease to amaze me… Nippy did say that the passage was the machine, and not to the machine, but…. Wow."
"Sir is knowing Nippy!" squealed the House Elf, and Harry noticed for the first time that she was wearing a rather confusing garment made out of labels. "Sir is being Nippy's boy? Sir is the Potter?"
Harry nodded. "I would appreciate it if you didn't mention to anybody how close I came to drowning in the washing…. "
Mipsy nodded so fast that Harry had to catch her to prevent her from falling over. "Is the Potter needing anything? Mipsy is doing everything for the Potter!"
"Well," said Harry, following her bouncing excited form down the passage, which grew slowly narrower and narrower. "The only reason I just went for a swim was because I was trying to find something that belonged to Snape…"
Carefully, Snape poured the salamander saliva into the Potion he was working on, which gave a satisfying hiss. He was beginning to regret using Malfoy's laboratory. Although the equipment was far better than that which he had at Hogwarts, Malfoy's laboratory happened to also contain Malfoy, whom Snape was finding increasingly irritating.
"You simply must admit that with the situation as dicey as it is, you'll need to take a few security precautions," Malfoy said as he snatched the empty cruet from Snape's hand.
Snape gave him an irritated glare, reaching for the stirring rod. "Oh, I don't know," he said. "The situation seems fairly stable to me – the Dark Lord attacks Hogwarts at Christmas. If we're lucky, he eliminates Dumbledore in anger when the Blood Magic fails to trigger the explosive end of the Potter boy. And, if we're extremely lucky, the Potter boy will get angry enough or lucky enough that he offs the Dark Lord for us. At which point there really isn't much in the way of our little triumvirat."
"I'm afraid the Dark Lord's anger will be taken out on the first available breathing body," said Malfoy, slamming the cruet onto the table. "And, I'm equally afraid that, considering it is Hogwarts we're talking about, the next available person will be … you."
Snape shrugged, as he began to stir in precise figure eights. "I doubt that. Who's to know how the Dark Lord will react when Potter fails to die? Or, for that matter, how Potter will react… should things go as they have in the past, then I believe that we'll be treated to rather a show – blood, Curses and Unforgivables flying about in the air, until the Dark Lord either wins or gets out while the going is good."
Malfoy sneered. "He's going to be angry when he doesn't succeed. He could go on a rampage."
Snape withdrew the rod and watched carefully as the Potion dripped from it back into the cauldron, gaging how well the saliva had worked as a thickening agent. "Somehow that idea is not altogether unappealing. There is an extraordinarily large concentration of people I rather dislike at Hogwarts. It would spare me a good deal of Poisoning later on… Hand me those Lacewings, will you?"
"For Merlin's sake," said Lucius, his irritation beginning to show. "I don't understand what you could possibly have against leaving Hogwarts for Christmas!"
"Oh, nothing," said Severus easily, taking the lacewings himself. "I just have something against spending it in your Manor."
"What's the matter with my Manor?" demanded Malfoy.
The corner of Snape's mouth twitched slightly as he sprinkled the lacewings into the brew in a perfect pentagram. "You've appalling taste in drapery."
Malfoy set his jaw. "The drapes can't possibly be as horrendous as to make you choose to spend Christmas with children or a raving megalomaniac!"
"Which one are you?" asked Snape almost flippantly, turning up the flame under the cauldron with a careless flick of his wrist, which he automatically shielded from view with his body.
"Not that kind of 'or'," snarled Malfoy.
Snape shrugged indifferently. "And besides, I was looking forward to finally being rid of your sycophant son for a few precious weeks."
Seizing the chance to change tactics, Malfoy stepped around the cauldron in order to be in Snape's field of vision. "Come to think of it," he said, trying to sound off-hand, "Narcissa did say she wanted him to stay in the castle over the holiday."
"My, maternal affection," said Snape. "Doesn't even put her murderous schemes aside for the holidays."
"Murderous… what are you talking about?" demanded Malfoy, distracted.
"Oh, come, come," said Snape dismissively. "I must have mentioned it before – it's obvious that Narcissa thinks you'll not be with us very long, and, should that not happen before your son reaches majority… did you know she was looking for a replacement husband?"
"Don't be ridiculous!" snapped Malfoy, his voice a trifle higher than usual. "Narcissa wouldn't – "
"Oh she would," said Snape with an evil smile. "In fact, one of the reasons I'm refusing your oh-so-generous invitation cum assassination attempt is that I simply cannot abide the idea of her trying to seduce me during the few precious weeks when my time is my own."
"Who would try and seduce you," sneered Malfoy.
"Your wife, as I've been saying," said Snape, knowing that the easiest way to get rid of Malfoy was to imply that he was not in control of his family. "She implied the other day that she wanted me to fall into her lap."
"When could you possibly have seen her?" scoffed Malfoy, one hand clenching and unclenching by his side.
"Oh," said Snape, as the potion finally swallowed up every trace of the lacewings. "She came to Hogwarts – upset about some letter the boy sent her."
"He doesn't send his mother letters," scoffed Lucius.
"Next you'll tell me she doesn't send him sweets and other indulgences more fitted to a boy half his age," returned Snape.
"First you say she wants to kill him," said Lucius, "now you say she's spoiling the boy. Make up your mind."
Snape smirked as he twirled a silver stirring rod between his fingers before beginning to stir the potion in an intricate pattern. "You know 'Cissa. She always has a plan B, the old harpy."
"Don't call her that," snapped Malfoy, rapidly losing his cool.
Snape's left eyebrow twitched. "What, harpy or 'Cissa?"
"See here, Snape," snarled Malfoy. "I let you use my laboratory, I take you into my confidence, offer you a third of Britain and – "
"And I refuse to come and spend Christmas with you," finish Snape. "I'm sure you're heartbroken."
"Damnit, Snape, give me one good reason why you don't want to," snapped Malfoy.
"Aside from peace and quiet, diverting suspicion, and a chance to watch a momentous event in history first-hand?" asked Snape rhetorically, slowly adding ammolite dragon scales. "It would be suspicious if I left Hogwarts for Christmas for the first time in twenty years; also, it would make denying my involvement with you, in the unlikely event that our plans fail, ever so much more difficult."
Snape watched the scales melt into each other until they formed a slightly opaque shell over the potion which bulged and cracked ever so often to release the heat which had built up beneath it. "Quite frankly, Lucius," he said, "it is also most advantageous for you."
"If it were most advantageous for me for you to stay in Hogwarts I would be arguing that you stay in Hogwarts!"
Snape finally turned away from his work and faced Malfoy. "The problem with you, Lucius," he said with an evil smirk, "is that you always assume that everybody else is slightly stupid and just waiting for you to plan things. Do you think that I am, or even Dolohov is, naïve enough to believe in your little triumvirate? If you are crafty enough to plan to join forces with your strongest allies until you can take over the world, and then murder them one by one to gain complete control ... don't you think the idea must have occurred to us as well?
"I've already told you that it won't be my head on a platter when this is over," he continued, smirk replaced with a dangerous glare. "Don't be so foolish as to believe that I have no intention for your head to be there."
Malfoy took an involuntary step backwards.
"Of course," said Snape, with a sudden smile, "we're getting ahead of ourselves. After all, it's only the sixth of November! It doesn't make sense for any of us to go about killing each other until after the blood magic experiment... After all, if the Potter boy does not eliminate the Dark Lord, we will be obliged to – it would be invoneniant to be without allies in that contingency, would it not?" Snape's predatory grin widened. "All that being said, can we simply agree on no further assassination attempts before the Christmas attack?"
"The trouble with you," countered Malfoy, once he'd recovered his voice, "is that you think you're somehow immune to everything, that you can say what you please to whom you please, that you will always win and somehow slither out unscathed."
Snape raised an eyebrow. "There's no sense in threatening, now. You will need me alive – either to eliminate our Lord or Dumbledore, perhaps even Potter. I need you for the same reason, and Dolohov if things go wrong and we need someone to blame..."
For half a breath, Malfoy merely stared. Suddenly, he threw back his head and laughed. "I should have known you would calculate every risk," he said. "I may have a use for you after all."
Harry had followed a very eager Mipsy through several damp, twisted passages smelling faintly of detergent, and had finally arrived in a small alcove which overlooked the room Harry had been looking for all along: the sorting chamber.
It was a vast room, for a House Elf, but average sized by human standards, designed for the impossible task of sorting thousands of items of laundry owned by careless adolescents and over-worked staff members.
There was a wall, appropriately colored, for each house, each wall lined with nine shelves which, as Mipsy had explained, were one for each year, one for staff, and one for 'Unexplainables'. Each shelf was divided into cavernous drawers, neatly labeled with the name of the student or staff member, or, in the case of 'Unexplainables' with symbols only a Laundry Elf would understand.
Harry watched from above, marveling at how the House Elves directed the flow of laundry to press and fold itself and then fly neatly into place as the drawers automatically slid open to receive them, all without having to personally touch a single sock.
"Sir is needing to be very fast if he is wanting to be taking something before it is drawer-ed," said Mipsy. "The drawers is sending things back to closets and trunks, they is slamming slow fingers."
Harry nodded, and focused below him at the Slytherin eighth shelf, where Snape's drawer was easily found near Sinistra's, and several apparently unused, unlabeled ones. Slytherins, it seems, did not tend to go into teaching.
He scanned the flying laundry like he would scan the Quidditch pitch for the Snitch, leaning over the edge, waiting for an item to come close to Snape's drawer. Finally, in the tumbling mass of robes and socks, he saw a set of handkerchiefs detach themselves, fold and zoom in the right direction.
Quick as lightning, he grabbed them a split second before they would have landed in the drawer, which snapped smartly shut as Harry nearly overbalanced. Quickly righting himself, without need of Mipsy's panicked grab for his ankle, Harry quickly pocketed his prize.
Hopefully, he thought, as he followed a chattering Mipsy back through the twisted maze of laundry chutes, the Protection Spell he had found would do the trick. Ever since Snape had applied the Blood Magic protection to his glasses, Harry had felt the nagging desire to repay him for it.
"Damned life debt loop," he muttered to himself, as he finally eased himself through a pipe back into the Gryffindor Common Room. "Well, at least now I know where my odd socks get to."