Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 186

Harry sat in an unused classroom, his map in hand, his cloak safely stowed in a pocket. He was so focused on the entranceways - he knew of several, though he'd have a hard time thinking who could possibly be entering under the Black Lake, that he didn't hear the door open.

"What are you up to now, Potter?" That shrill, grating voice could only be Pansy Parkinson.

He barely stopped himself from hiding the map, simply rolling it up so she wouldn't see what he'd been reading. "Research."

"With what, a scrap of parchment? Are you inventing everything you're studying?" Pansy said, and Harry suddenly felt that would have been a good idea. Pity he was such shite at lying.

"Alright. I was just thinking..." Harry Potter said.

Pansy Parkinson abruptly shut the door, and sat on the teacher's desk, her legs swinging, "Well, I'm bushed, so why don't you tell me about it?"

"I know." Harry Potter said agreeably.

"Wait, that was you? Why were you even there?!" Pansy said.

"How did you -?" Harry started to ask, changed his mind, and said, "No, of course it wasn't me."

"You're ruddy shite at lying, Potter." Pansy said, her legs swinging and hitting the desk with hard, ringing thunks. "Either get better at it, or give it up. Besides, if the shoes fit..."

"Huh?" Harry Potter asked.

"You, Idiot Extraordinare, went wading through mud, in an invisibility cloak." Pansy looked at him and Harry looked back, until she finally snapped, "You left footprints."

"Oh. That was dumb, wasn't it?" Harry asked, grinning abashed. He'd never been afraid to laugh at himself.

"Extremely," Pansy drawled in a move Harry was suddenly sure she had copied from Draco Malfoy.

"Why are you here, anyway?" Harry Potter asked, trying not to make himself sound completely accusatory. He belatedly figured that it about half worked.

"I wanted to ask you about magnetism. But apparently you're too busy thinking..." Pansy said.

"Yes, you really should come back later." Harry said, using his bright green eyes to conjure the most perfectly innocent and not sarcastic look on his face. It rarely worked, but Harry had learned at a young age to try it anyhow. Nothing worked well at the Dursley household. He found himself wondering if anything worked well at the Parkinson's house.

"Well, fine then." Pansy said, turning her nose up with a sniff, and headed away, shutting the classroom door behind her.

Harry Potter unfurled the map quickly, and saw three names he recognized in the Hogwarts main Entranceway. With a simple shrug of his cloak, he was quickly heading out of the classroom, paying no mind to the "invisible person opens door" dilemma. With those three together... he knew exactly why Snape had assumed he'd be up to something tonight.

"Mr. Malfoy, as I'm sure you are aware, you are no longer a member of the Board of Directors. You are not entitled to visit Hogwarts as you please, and you most certainly do not have the professors at your beck and call." Minerva McGonagall ground out, her thinlipped straight posture showing anger, but Harry thought that glimmer in her eye was more satisfaction, at being able to vocally dress down the known Death Eater who had almost killed a good few of her students.

"I am perfectly aware of that, Professor." Lucius's melodic voice rang out, "And I assure you that I have no complaints about your teaching methods or style."

Professor McGonagall at this point huffed dryly, as she hadn't been asking that question at all.

"Has my old friend been troubling you?" Severus Snape said, emerging from the dungeons with his usual flair.

"Au Contraire," Lucius said, turning towards Professor Snape, "She has been troubling me. And I do so hate it when you call me that. It makes me feel threadbare and motheaten, you know." Only Lucius Malfoy could say such things in a tone of such perfect equanimity that you weren't sure what, if any of this, he meant.

"Then allow me to escort your presence out of my colleague's careful hands." Severus Snape said, his manner just as precise as Lucius'. The only difference was that his words purred, while Lucius' drawled, just like his son's.

Both Lucius and Snape headed downstairs, presumably towards Snape's office. Harry followed, heart in his mouth, trying to be as quiet as possible. He couldn't help but remember every single time Snape had caught him - even under the cloak. It didn't make it any less scary, even if Snape had as good as told him to do this. He could still, very easily, be doing not what Snape wanted or expected. And, despite everything, Snape would take abnormal satisfaction in punishing him if he'd pushed one toe out of line.

Luckily, Lucius spoke up not twenty feet from the Main Entranceway, jolting Harry out of his quiet thoughts, "I must say," Lucius drawled in his customary icy tones, "Hogwarts has never seemed more halycon. Were those suits of armor in the entranceway actually shining?"

"Yes, that would be entirely due to my House." Severus Snape purred, "I find serving detention without magic has a certain tendency to increase the intellectual perseverance of even the most spoiled of pupils."

"Sev, what did they do?" Lucius Malfoy asked, his voice conveying a humor that seemed almost foreign.

"I put two mice in front of the cat, and the cat just sat there." Snape said, shortly, "The goal was for them to catch both of the mice."

"I really think that you may have set that goal a trifle high. They are students, after all." Lucius Malfoy drawled.

"With only a little time left, I might add," Snape said darkly, "Would you like to see the Owlry? Your son has done a most excellent job of cleaning up after the avian residences of this august institution."

Lucius Malfoy sputtered at this, face actually slightly reddened, before he intoned, coldly, "I hardly think that will be necessary."

They went a good room's-length before Lucius spoke up again. "Really, Severus, did you have to break my toys? Didn't you ever learn to share?" Hearing that, Harry Potter mentally added a point on Snape's total, for bearing the silence better. Still, Lucius clearly had something on his mind.

"Of course not, Lu," Snape purred, "And I hardly think your superiors would approve of your toys."

"Are you trying to insinuate that you did me a favor?"

"Oh, I'd never hold you to the obligation," Snape said in a voice filled with dark humor and good cheer, "After all, what are friends for?"

"Ah, yes, and here I thought you were just lonely and in need of fine company." Lucius Malfoy said.

"The latter moreso than the former. I trust you'll tell me if you find any?" Snape commented, his voice dry.

"Any company at all would be better than what you're stuck with at this venerable, even antiquated institution." Lucius Malfoy said.

Biting down on his tongue, Harry couldn't stop the quip from ringing in his head - you were the one directing the curriculum. If it's antiquated, it's your doing.

"Oh?" Snape replied, his voice wry.

"The students - as dire as always?"

"Of course. Or, in some cases, worse." Snape said darkly. Harry couldn't stop a shiver from running up his back. Something in how Snape said that.

"Ah, yes. I've heard the sixth year Gryffindors are something else." Lucius Malfoy said. "Anything I'd find of interest?"

"There is nothing new under the sun." Snape intoned, almost piously. Then he turned a furious sneer on Lucius, who nearly took a halfstep back at the vividly gruesome sight. "That boy, that arrogant boy - you don't need to meet him, just picture James Potter, and add even more arrogance, if you can believe it."

Harry's wandhand had tensed at the word boy, an instinctive response born of hatred and a desire to see Uncle Vernon pay. Harry had felt the anger wash over himself like a tsunami, and held firm to his position. That was also, he thought, coming to be instinct. At the speed of thought, he drained all that surging water from his core. This was Snape, he thought, and then thought again. Hang a sec, Harry Potter thought, Snape never calls me boy. It's Potter, or You, or occasionally, Mister Potter. Harry shook his head, continuing forward along the dungeon corridor, with every step becoming more convinced that That couldn't be right. So, Harry thought, what was it, if not that? And, suddenly, Harry had it, -Snape had known how much he hated that name. Sanpe had known. So, he was trying to anger me. Why?

"How's he adjusting to his new status - Yesteryear's Savior, that is...?" Lucius asked.

"Poorly." Snape said, his heels clicking on the floor, "But enough about my misery..."

Snape and Malfoy had by this point reached Snape's office. They entered, shutting the door. Harry, still under his cloak, moved forward, getting close to the door, thinking about how he could get in the door, half convincing himself to not even try. His eyes had been peeled to the doorjamb, so when his eyes traveled up the door towards the mantle, he was shocked to see, "Go Away, Gryffindor." written in Slytherin green.

Well, that settles that, Harry thought, heading up towards his bed. He did wonder what sort of classified, "Not for Harry's Eyes" information they were discussing. Hell, Snape might have decided that Harry's listening ears weren't needed if all they were going to do was drink firewhiskey and bitch about the Dark Lord Voldemort.

... for that matter, Snape would be right!

[a/n: There's stupidity, and then there's inane stupidity. Harry's growing out of the second.

Saturday is over! Do leave a review. Oh, and, how well do you think Harry's done?

Yes, Lucius Malfoy isn't in prison, even after that stunt at the Ministry. Some people are slicker than water. This'll be part of the reason Draco isn't madder than hell at Harry Potter.

As to why Harry hasn't commented about that? Well, Lucius has been mostly laying low (still being influential, but who wants to be on the front page?). And Harry's had better things to be watching than the Daily Prophet.

... Snape never does anything without a reason. There's often several reasons, and you can see a few skeins here if you care to look.]