Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 162

Harry at least had honed looking chastized down to an art - even when he didn't feel bad at all. If there was one emotion he could actually act through, it was that one. Belatedly, he put on that look, scraping the ground with his toe. Luckily, people had been facing front, mostly, and so had probably not noticed his rather belated assumption of the pose.

"While I attempt to come up with something that you overachievers haven't already studied, you are to pair off." Snape snapped.

Around the room, pupils swirled - Harry actually hadn't a preference, and thus was slightly surprised when Malfoy wound up as his partner. Ron and Hermione had partnered together and they were both giving him sympathetic looks. As well they might - as 'nice' as Malfoy'd been acting (by which Harry meant that he was sure Malfoy was trying to act nice, he just wasn't terribly good at it. Lack of practice, probably.), he wouldn't go light on Harry. And, in Snape's class? He was likely to go as hard as possible, barring the Unforgivables.

Harry knew a lot of spells, but most of his training on Non-Ministry Approved Magicks was to strike first and get the hell out of the way. That... was probably a bad plan here and now, because most of those 'spells' he didn't want Malfoy - and by extension Tom - to know about. Malfoy had really done them all a favor by showing that Mark.

Of course, it was Harry's job to convince Hermione and Ron that it really was a good thing. He hoped he wasn't misreading the whole situation, somehow.

Snape straightened in front of the class, his notes once more in front of him. His eyes shot rapidfire across the room, seeming to register something with each pause.

"Why did you choose the partners you did?" Snape asked mildly, and some students were foolish enough to raise their hands.

"We're friends." Boot and his friend said. They were close enough to be holding hands, though Harry wouldn't have put it that way to their face.

"Good work ethic." Chang said, looking at Nott as she said it.

"I don't have to worry about messing up his face." Draco Malfoy drawled beside Harry Potter. Harry shot him a startled look, as Draco pretend-pouted, "Someone broke it before me."

There were titters around the room at that - mostly Slytherins, but Parvati had been stifling a laugh too - as if concerned that someone would find her disloyal. After all the times that the Gryffindors had treated Harry that way, he honestly couldn't blame her.

"Today, we will work on teamwork. We shall start small, two by two." Snape purred, "Regrettably, that means that Mister Malfoy will not have the chance to disfigure Mister Potter's face. Today, at any rate." Snape actually managed to sound regretful about that too, though anyone truly looking at him saw the sardonic smirk in his eye.

Snape started calling names. Harry and Malfoy found themselves in the "capable duelers" bracket - along with Hermione and Ron, and very, very far away from Neville and Marietta (how'd that pairing happen? The people nobody would pick?), and Crabbe and Goyle.

If Harry'd been paired with anyone else, he'd have been discussing strategy with them, or at least making snide but accurate comments about other pairings (getting Hermione to laugh in class was always a worthy goal). As it was, they both stood stiffly, warily eyeing each other at periodic intervals - which made them seem like two male cats strutting and about to square off.

[a/n: Heh. Leave it to Snape to subvert expectations. Reviews encourage me to write more.

Second post of the day.]