Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 182

Harry had made his way hurriedly back to Gryffindor Tower, somewhat surprised to see that Ron wasn't waiting for him. He'd always seemed convinced that Snape would eat Harry or something. Then again, with his temper, it was an actual possibility... Or so Harry'd thought, last year and before. Given that, was it any wonder that his friends felt similarly?

Hermione was... waiting for him in the Common Room - by which Harry meant that she'd fallen asleep with a book in her lap, "Hermione," he said softly, shaking her shoulder and watching her curly locks ripple with the motion.


"Time for bed."

"Oh, good." Hermione said, snuggling back into the couch.

Rolling his eyes, Harry shook her a bit harder, and Hermione blinked awake. "Oh, there you are! I must have fallen asleep or something."

"Let's get to bed. Detention was exhausting." Harry said gently.

"What did he have you do?"

"Fetch-n-carry from the Black Lake, as you can see." Harry looked down ruefully at his still muddy shoes. He'd known how to fix his robes to stop dripping, but the boots themselves were being stubborn.

"Hmm..." Hermione said, stretching back into a yawn. "I think I know a spell for that..." About five spells later, the boots were gleaming.

"I can always count on you, Hermione!" Harry said, grinning. "Now, off to bed."

"Oh, you!" Hermione said, stomping her foot with a trace of a grin.

Harry Potter was up at the crack of dawn, remembering the spell that had finally worked for Hermione, and casting it on his boots three times until he had the motion exactly right. Then it was his invisibility cloak, and down the stairs to the Slytherin entrance to the dungeons. Not that he was standing at the entrance - he'd found a nice alcove, because he absolutely wanted to see their faces when the Slytherins saw the mess they had to clean!

As if on cue, Severus Snape's voice echoed down the hallways, "You will all be assigned a wing, a tower, or in Draco Malfoy's case, the owlry. Cleaning will be done without magic, no exceptions."

Snape swept up the stairs without pausing (understandably, as he'd seen the fetid, stinking mud the night before), but Pansy's face was a treat. She'd been coming up the stairs with a steely look in her eye, grim and steady at once. When she saw the hall, she shrieked, a high pitched noise that made Harry's ears ring. "What's wrong?" Goyle asked, shouldering Pansy slightly aside, his jaw dropping open at the sight. "Thought we were cleaning Hogwarts, not my barn." Goyle muttered, hurrying along to catch up with Snape, not minding his boots in the slightest as they were neatly encased in the stinking, sucking mud.

But the best part was Draco Malfoy, who was in the midst of rolling his eyes at "Pansy's Dramatics", when he saw the hallway. His eyes bulged out, making him look like some sort of pale white fish, his mouth opening, in fact, precisely like a fish. In a small voice, Draco Malfoy said, "And I thought the Owlry was bad..."

Theodore Nott came up with a smirk, that only widened as he looked at the thin sea of mud. "Told you he was more upset than he was lettin' on."

Crabbe came up next, shouldering past both Theo and Draco, grunting agreement with Theo's commentary.

Daphne didn't say a word, her face simply froze as she looked at the muck. She stepped like some sort of prancing horse, trying to take the fewest steps and step the highest to avoid getting her robes dirty.

"I should have worn old robes, shouldn't I?" Tracy said, with a sigh.

"I did," Draco Malfoy said, "Then again, I knew my punishment." Draco set off in the strangest gait Harry'd seen yet, a sort of precise jumping that was designed to be light and quiet - and, more importantly to the notorious peacock, not splash mud everywhere.

Harry was as quiet as a mouse until all the Slytherins were away, listening until Snape's voice faded in the distance - he was assigning people sectors and towers.

And then Harry laughed loud and long, savoring the expressions as if they were sweet ice cream melting on his tongue.

[a/n: Yes, Harry isn't immune to gloating. Now, what has Harry forgotten about?

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