Not Bad Enough had four sections -- an overview of the history of legal classifications of curses, and a section each on pain curses, command curses, and death curses. There were apparently many of the former two, but very few of the latter, with the Killing Curse being the only unblockable and instantaneous one. Harry enjoyed the overview chapters, but found the detailson early pain curses disturbing. He skipped ahead to the command curses that preceded the Imperius Curse. Harry had always thought that all command curses were legally classified as Dark Arts, but the book outlined two that remained in restricted public use: the Binding Oath, itself a descendent of the Fealty Spell; and the Testimony Spell. One legally distinguishing aspect to both these spells(never, Harry noted, classified as either curses or charms) was that both left the subject aware of the effect.
When the book got to casting specifics for the Fealty Spell (as compared to casting specifics for the Binding Oath), Harry found himself listening anxiously for Snape's return. He wasn't sure he was supposed to be reading books with details on Dark Arts, however engaging and historicallyinformative. Guiltily, he took the book and moved into his bedroom, where he would have plenty of warning if Snape returned.
The enchanted window was displaying a red and purple sunset when Harry heard the outer door open and close. Harry tucked the book behind the cushions of his window seat, and rubbed at his eyes. His room had grown dark since he started reading. After a minute of tryingunsuccessfully to make the room come into focus, Harry remembered he had taken off his glasses to read. His headache was gone. Reluctantly, Harry put the glasses on again, and the room became somewhat less blurry.
Harry poked his head into the kitchen just in time to see Snape scanning the room from the parlor door.
"I'm here," Harry volunteered.
"Good. Have you had dinner?"
"We weresupposed to eat with the others, you know." Snape smirked. "Good to know I wasn't the only one who missed it. I'll call the kitchens."
Then talked over dinner, but of simple things: Snape told Harry that he had adequate stores of Camilla's Bruise Salve and the Ignatios Pain Killing Potion and was hoping to make some progress on Calming Draughts, which were fairly quick, that evening, so hecould work on Dreamless Sleep, which was quite complicated, the next day. He did not mention what he had said to Harry while they were outside. Harry told Severus that if he removed his glasses for reading, his headache went away. He did not mention that he had been reading one of Snape's books. At several points during the dinner, when Harry was lifting his fork or his glass, he saw Snape's eyes dartto the flash of torchlight caught by a pentagon-cut emerald, but neither of them ever mentioned the ring.
After dinner, Snape stood up and stretched. It was an unguarded motion, perhaps the first, Harry reflected, that he had ever seen from the Potions master. He felt oddly honored. Perhaps I am just ignored. Perhaps he is just treating me as if I am not here.
"Would you be interested inhelping again?" Snape asked, disinterestedly. "For the benefit of that mangy wolf, perhaps? I need to finish these in time to do the Wolfsbane Potion."
"I wouldn't mind helping again," Harry answered, ignoring the cut at Remus. He stood also, and followed Snape to the door. "I like having something to do."
"Really? I never would have guessed, from the state of your homework."
"Ah, but during theschool year, there's so much to do. I can rather pick and choose, can't I?"
"You're lucky I let you into Potions this year, Potter. Your O.W.L.s were borderline."
"But you needed someone to insult. I understand."
When Snape whirled on him, Harry grinned disarmingly, and Snape, with a satisfied smirk, turned away and lengthened his stride.
And for the first time, Harry thought, we did that...