Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 116

[a/n: Read the title. Strap in for some fireworks, baby!]

Draco Malfoy was out of Ancient Runes in record time (by virtue of having put his book away five minutes before...), and went straight to dinner, not bothering to put his books away. He ate quickly, if impeccably (manners had been drilled into his head since he was three, thank you very much, he wasn't to forget them for anything), and headed upstairs.

The Room of Requirement - all you had to do was ask for what you wanted, and then do some pacing about while thinking of it.* So, here Draco Malfoy was, specifying exactly what he wanted to see. Namely, a hidden place for him to eavesdrop - and leaving the rest of the room flexible, so that Granger/Potter could specify what they wanted, as well.

Harry was, as usual, running late, so when he sprinted down the hall to the Room of Requirement, he wasn't surprised to see Hermione Granger in there, waiting for him. Luckily for him, she didn't look completely focused on wandless casting.

Instead, she looked like she wanted to talk.


Harry blinked his long eyebrows in what he hoped was a coquettish manner, and asked, "So- how was he? Tell me everything, girl!"

Hermione's jaw dropped open, and acting gay was worth it just for that - it was rare to leave Hermione Granger dumbstruck.

Moments later, she was stomping her foot on the floor, giving Harry Potter a full tackle-hug, gales of laughter streaming out of her, "Of course you'd know! I don't know why I'd imagine you wouldn't!"

Hermione eventually calmed down, dropping her arms and backing up a step, looking down towards the floor. "I want de-tails, Hermione," Harry catcalled.

"He kissed me. It felt... soft. Firm, not gentle, not an air brush." Hermione said, her eyes lost in recalling the moment.

"Um..." Harry said, looking a little weirded out, "We are talking about Malfoy, right?"

Hermione looked up at him, glared, and then nodded. "Yes- Harry James Potter, I am talking about him."

"Did he do anything else? Touch you on the shoulder, pull you in by the waist?" Harry asked gently.

"No - just the kiss." Hermione said, starting to look a little bewildered. "It's just... why would he do that?"

Oh, Hermione, Harry Potter thought, you're adorable, but you are so fucking clueless. Thanks a lot, Malfoy. Harry knew exactly what Malfoy was hoping would happen at this point - Hermione taking things into her own hands, showing Draco Malfoy some sort of sign - but, everyone who wasn't Gryffindor always overestimated Gryffindor courage. And it'd been Malfoy, after all, trying to squelch gossip about it. If he'd wanted to be "for real" out with Hermione... But Harry could see that Malfoy didn't. Malfoy'd decided to indulge himself, and it was coming at the expense of Hermione Granger's sanity. Tentatively, Harry tried to remind himself that a bastard who cared so much for his family couldn't be all that bad... Sadly, such thoughts weren't piquant enough to cut through the rage burning in his belly. Keep it to yourself, Potter, Hermione needs you laughing, not bloodying Malfoy's nose. Taking it seriously is about the worst option.

"Maybe he was just trying to screw with your mind?" Harry Potter said, with a teasing edge to his voice, "Wanted to see you wracking your brains like this? Bastard's not worth it, Hermione, and you know it."

"Harry-" Hermione said, "You knew this was going to bother me, didn't you?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, of course." Harry said absentmindedly, "But not nearly as much as it'd bother Ron, if you told him."

Snorting with laughter, Hermione said, "Yeah, that seems like a spectacularly bad idea."

"Look, just don't let it bother you. Malfoy's a dick, we know that, no need to overthink it."

"And what about you and Ginny?" Hermione asked knowingly, "You certainly seemed to be getting along."

Harry shrugged uncomfortably, "Gin's Gin, isn't she? A bit strong for me, I think."

"Not too spicy?" Hermione said, her teasing smile sheparding an answering one from Harry's face.

"Never!" Harry Potter laughed, then grinned, and looked at Hermione impishly, "Tag! You're the monkey's uncle!"

Draco Malfoy watched as Harry Potter cast a spell without even touching his wand. Pushing his jaw upward, he watched as Hermione Granger returned it, her face cackling with glee. Shite, That was it! Draco thought, They're learning wandless magic. No wonder Granger could only cast when angry.** Draco's mind whirled with the knowledge, trying to slot half a hundred different incidents into the new paradigm.

Un-fortunately, Draco Malfoy was dead certain he wasn't supposed to be watching this. Draco Malfoy knew that the Dark Lord was likely to ask his conception of Potter's fighting strength (in keeping with the years long obsession the Dark Lord had)... and so Draco had thought that he'd just give the Dark Lord what Potter was like during class.

But, this wasn't class. And judging by the skill and power demonstrated in just the last minute or so... The Other Side didn't want this to be bandied about.

Swallowing and preparing to get hexed, Draco Malfoy concentrated on a door in the screen behind which he was hiding.

*Nobody's quite told Draco how the room works, but he's a fair eavesdropper.

**Not strictly true, but close enough.

[a/n: Next chapter should be ... interesting. Leave a review! Fourth chapter today.]