Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 195

Hermione Granger spoke up, suddenly, without waiting to be called on. "Dancing teaches agility, and it teaches reading your partner." Harry barely forestalled a wince (though he saw by Goyle's glance at him that the larger bloke had caught it anyway).

"A bit forward, but true, from the feminine perspective." Snape drawled, spinning around, until his eyes caught out Neville Longbottom.

"Longbottom?" Snape drawled, and it was just slightly shocking to hear Snape not actively peeved at even having to address the clumsy boy.

"I'm... I'm not sure, sir." Neville said, trying not to fidget.

Snape went around the room, and Harry belatedly began to wonder if Snape was just trying to make the boys look like fools, as none of them were answering the question correctly.

With a deep sigh, Snape finally said, "The dance leader, as opposed to the follower, must provide cues. This is not an equal partnership, but one where one party steers and guides... and the other dances exclusively backwards." Snape looked them all over, "You would be well advised to learn how to waltz, if you hope to learn how to dodge hexes. Certainly, your ability to dodge your partner's feet leaves everything to be desired."

Snape again snapped his fingers, and the whole room began to dance again.

This was a far simpler dance than the waltz, so, in retrospect, Harry shouldn't have been so surprised... But the first time he felt a stinging hex, and realized Snape was on the other side of the room... He whirled, out of step with the music, and saw Malfoy smirking, victoriously.

From two inches behind his ear, Snape said curtly, "Dance, Potter." Despite the manifest fact that Snape was on the other side of the room. That hadn't even been the first hex thrown, Harry belatedly understood, recalling Lisa howling and jumping on one foot.

In silence, or nearly - softer than a whisper.

Play the game, Harry told himself, as he continued to move with Goyle. The dance must go on.

Harry wasn't surprised when Snape's voice was at his ear again, "One stinging hex, to the Weasley's bottom." Harry fought not to blaunch, and realized that he'd be the least likely to be identified, since he didn't even need to use his wand (which was in his left hand anyway, as he was the follower at the moment). Still, to do that...

"Now." Snape snapped, and Harry instinctively buckled, his red stinging hex hitting Ron on the bottom, with enough pain that he was hopping while trying not to land on his partner's feet.

Harry found himself wondering if Snape was ever expecting a dance to turn this violent - if people would hide their wands and hex their enemies, all while donning the clumsy facade of politeness. Or was this how every Death Eater Gala went?

The music continued, and Harry spun on.

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Snape does not like people talking without being called on.]