All In Our Places With Bright Morning Faces

Snape had cause to be grateful to Ronald Weasley and his strategic abilities. Once he had stopped cursing Fudge as a traitor and a bastard, the young man had laid out the three most likely scenarios for the afternoon, then proceeded to plot exactly how to counter them all. He and Harry worked smoothly over a map of the castle, discussing vantage points and potential ambush sites.

"I trust you are not planning an assault on your colleagues, Mr. Weasley?"

"No. It's not their fault that Fudge is a murdering bastard," Ron said evenly. The six drops of Calming Draught that Snape had introduced into the pitcher of pumpkin juice had obviously worked to good effect. "But I need to assume that he will have ordered them to search the castle and to arrest Harry. So we need to place some harmless binding or sleeping spells here," he pointed with a nibbled quill, "and there. It's not like this lot is dumb enough to eat a couple of floating cakes packed with Sleeping Draught." The grin he exchanged with Harry was pure Boy and it recalled the past to Snape with a hiss. For a moment, he itched to take points.

He manfully restrained himself and said only, "Perhaps some Blind Alley Binding spells would be useful then. We could keep them harmlessly Confounded for several hours that way, no matter their intentions toward Mr. Potter."

"We might be able to pass them off as more of the castle's eccentricities," Ron said thoughtfully.

"And the Headmaster could swear under Veritaserum that he had done nothing to hinder the search," Harry commented. Severus wanted to sigh at the blind adoration the boy had for Dumbledore, all the while knowing that he himself was just as guilty as Potter. He, too, wanted to protect his mentor.

"Is there any chance you could get yourself assigned to the Minister's detail, Weasley?"

Ron shook his head. "None. Everyone knows Harry and I are best mates. Even if Fudge wanted me along for the media splash it'd make, I kind of shot my mouth off in the tea room. Told everyone who'd listen that Harry wasn't responsible for the cock-ups. And I might have gone a little bit mad when he got poisoned." He ran a hand through his hair and grinned ruefully. For the first time, Snape could see what the Granger chit saw in him. "No way Fudge'd trust any Weasley along on this one. Except Percy." The twist to his lips as he spat his brother's name showed what he thought of that.

Harry put an affectionate hand on Ron's shoulder.

"I don't think you should go back to work today, Weasley. As usual, your precipitate temper has made you conspicuous. If I am correct, you might find yourself sharing office space with Mr. Braisethwaite."

"Ugh. Not a nice thought, that." Ron was surprisingly unruffled by Snape's smirking jibe. "Guess I'd better get started on those spell traps, then." He rolled up the map and picked up his wand. "Maybe you two should get dressed, eh?" His knowing leer made Harry blush. "And take a bath, Harry-mate. You stink."

With a final smirk at Snape, Ron left. They could hear his tuneless whistle as he went down the corridor.

"Well," Harry said uncertainly, still flushed with embarrassment. Snape drifted over to stand beside him.

"It is the first time, I believe, that I have ever agreed with Ronald Weasley," he said absently running his fingers through Harry's tousled hair.

"Hmm?" Harry purred, eyes closing.

"You stink."

And before Harry's squawk of protest could manifest, Snape swiftly kissed him then turned him around and shoved him toward the bathroom. The outraged yelp he received in return for the swat on Harry's rump was all he could have hoped. The green glare promised revenge a thousandfold before the bathroom door closed on his young lover.

Ministry mayhem, a little applied potion testing, some confounded Aurors and the splashing of his lover in the bath; the day was showing a lot more promise than it had when he had first awakened. He squelched the impulse to whistle and went to dress.