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Harry Potter the Mediocre Dunce

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"You are a mediocre dunce," Snape explained. "Oh, that felt so good to say. Potter is a mediocre dunce... Delightful."

"Em, professor, I'm right here?"

"Yes. Of course." Snape straightened his collar. "Where else would you be, you... student?"

"You were going to call me a mediocre dunce, weren't you?"

"I most certainly was not!"

"There was a telling pause, sir. Wasn't there, Hermione?"

"...Well, yes, I suppose there was," Hermione admitted.

"There was not."

"Was to." Hermione clamped her hand over her own mouth, clearly appalled that she had just sassed a teacher.

Snape looked gobsmacked too, as if his whole worldview had been upended. "Would you care to repeat that, Miss Granger?" He asked, his voice silky smooth.

Hermione shuddered. "Sir."

"Yes?"

Righteousness as clearly warring with her desire to please her teachers. Harry was certain that she would come through it the end.

"Sir?"

"Yes, Miss Granger?" Snape asked testily. "Unless you are answering my question-"

"But I will! I promise! I just wanted to ask you... are you saying that Harry isn't an awful dunce? Or an irredeemable dunce? Just... mediocre? Because thats actually not too bad. In fact, it feels like a strange sort of compliment to me."

"What did you say?" Snape roared. "Are you saying that I called Potter competent just because he's not entirely useless? That is ridiculous! You're ridiculous!"

"Yet you didn't deny it," Hermione said smugly. "Thus, I agree Harry. He was going to call you a mediocre dunce. and you should be proud of that." And with this, she turned on her heel and walked out as proudly as if she had convinced Snape to free his house elf and join SPEW.

And better than all of that was Snape's bugeyed wide-eyed glare at Hermione's retreating back as she went.

Glorious.

"If it's any consolation, sir," Harry said cheerily, "any mediocre dunceness I have must surely be entirely due to your unflinching support."

He took his leave before Snape shook himself out of his stupor. Harry went back to the Common Room, laughing all the way.