Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 173

Harry went to the room of requirement at the end of the day, with Hermione and Ron on either side of him - their petty, merry bickering feeling much more like home than the Dursleys' had ever felt. Harry opened the door to find no one there, and they stood inside, waiting, a good ten minutes. "Ron... " Harry started, and - to his surprise - Hermione interupted.

She said, "Ron, I know Snape said you weren't to teach us anything... but can you at least show us what you've learned?" Harry nearly boggled at this, it was a smooth, easy ploy - scratch his ego before telling him to shove off so they could really practice. If what Snape said was true, Ron wouldn't be able to learn the way they had, so...

"You'll have to cast some spells at me," Ron said, his irrepressible grin peeking out of his serious face.

"Done." Harry and Hermione echoed each other, as their wands were drawn.

Harry cast almost on automatic, letting his feet and his wand and his mouth take over, as his mind was astounded at what Ron was doing. He had to know a thousand different spells, and there was no reasoning, no pattern to his use of any of them. Just what had they been teaching Ron this summer? **

Thursday was the morning that owls came to Hogwarts. Dozens of them, flying from every direction. And they were all school owls. All to the Slytherin table, where the students looked suspiciously pale-faced. Except for Malfoy, of course, his face was always that color. The letters that they bore were wrapped with a single cord, silver and green braided together. Not a sigil, not a seal. Just that simple cord.

Goyle and Crabbe gave small, soft sighs as they read theirs. Millicent gave a grim smile. Malfoy, though, his eyes narrowed, and he shot a venomous glare at ... the Head Table. Specifically, to Severus Snape. Harry's green eyes tracked the blond's grey, finding Snape at the end, his eyebrow raised in a subtle sort of challenge. The Detentions! Harry thought, inwardly exulting to find Malfoy, of all people, getting punished by Snape. From the look on Malfoy's face, the punishment would not be easy.* Nott and Pansy looked irate - ten shades redder than Malfoy ever got, no matter how upset he was. Well, ever since second year, at any rate. Had Malfoy really meant to call Hermione a mudblood?

*Understatement! Care to guess what's in store for Mister Malfoy?

**I had to do something with Ron. The way the books do it, he's cannon fodder at best. More to come, feel free to guess while you can.

[a/n: Harry does actually have a brain in his head. Now, if only he remembers to think. Second post of the day. Write a review, please - they really help with my desire to write. Feel free to leave guesses on what the hell's up with Malfoy, Potter, Weasley, Granger or Snape. Or even Goyle. ]