Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 196

Harry watched as the room spun on, towards the middle of the square and then out to the edges again, turn left, turn right. Every so often, someone would mess a step, hit someone else's foot, and then there'd be someone jumping on one foot. Without hearing Snape's voice again, all Harry could do was watch, and try and take notes. He first noticed that the stinging hexes were actually doing less damage than male clumsiness (the clumsy girls, even Bulstrode, were too light to actually break bones). Then he tried, as he bowed to Goyle and then to his opposite - to see who was casting.

The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were easy to spot - because when Snape spoke into their ears, they lept into the air, half of the time. The Slytherins were the best at hiding their wands in their sleeves (or, like Harry, using wandless magic). Ron couldn't keep a straight face to save his life, and it lit with unholy glee when he was asked - to shoot Nott, of all people. He must think that Nott was behind that stinging hex. How will he feel when he figures out it was me?

Hermione was doing better, and Seamus and Dean didn't seem to be thinking much of anything - including the hexes. Neville Longbottom was bearing up under them etter, but he was still having trouble getting used to Snape. When it was his turn, he turned ashen grey. Crabbe looked delighted to be dancing with Davis, and that was true even when the hexes started flyng. Parvati and Lavender were making a game out of dodging the hexes, it would seem - a quick glance at Snape's piercing eyes told Harry that Snape was well aware. Though, truth be told, Harry couldn't have told whether Snape approved or not. Unlike Harry Potter, Snape might have merely concluded that it wasn't worth haranguing the "brainless twits" over a game that was only working two times out of three.

Or he might have approved. Harry did not know, and he forced himself to keep that level of understanding. Not knowing, itself, was a powerful place to be, if an indecisive one. It was standing behind the hedgerow at school, listening for Dudley or Piers - knowing they could explode out of either side - or through the hedge, or over, or occasionally and stupidly under the hedge. And he had to be ready. So he had listened.

It was Ron Weasley who said something first, "Hey, we're nearly done with our midday meal," His face getting brighter red as Snape turned his coal-dark eyes on him, "Class was supposed to be over an hour ago at least!"

"For those of you who are not blind, you will note that I have made arrangements for our peculiar circumstances. The headmaster has graciously given permission for the house elves to create this more festive repast." With a gesture, Snape silenced the music, "You may all partake in the feast."

Ron was the first person to the table, of course, dodging between Crabbe and Davis. It would have been hilarious, if Harry hadn't nearly accidentally glanced over at Snape, who for once wasn't looking smug. That alertness made Harry's danger sense tingle. What's he done? Harry thought, and then - the twins flashed into his mind, in all their technicolor glory. Oh, Harry thought, and suddenly wished he'd remembered to bring along some dragonhide gloves.

As it was, if he didn't trust Snape to not have dosed everything... he'd have to bluff his way out. Instead of heading towards the table, he shifted away from it, dancing lightly on his feet in a way that he'd never managed with a partner, his closed mouth humming a weird gypsy tune. He faced the hungry class, now devouring the cream puffs and trifles, the salsa and everything else.

"What's wrong?" Goyle asked from beside Harry's shoulder. Harry had to quell the urge to jump - only mostly successfully. And then? Then he didn't want to give away too much information...

"I forgot my dragonhide gloves." Harry said. Goyle, in response, looked down at his feet for a long moment, before looking up at Harry's green eyes. "Ah." Goyle said shortly, "You won't want to stand over here too long."

Harry nodded in silent assent, before moving off to talk with Neville and Hermione. Malfoy, as expected, had taken the opportunity to flee as far away from his 'dance partner' as possible, and Harry didn't blame him. Malfoy ought to feel fortunate that Hermione hadn't decided the middle of a class was the perfect time for an interrogation. Harry himself would have been hard pressed to not start something like that, if he'd been the victim of Malfoy's bizarre behavior (which Harry thought he understood, if slightly disapproved of).

Harry didn't make it over to the Gryffindors. Instead of colorchanging, everyone in the room turned black and white - and then they all discovered, as they exclaimed, that they sounded like they spoke perfect Queen's English.

"Everyone who has suffered a grievious and unexpected accident this class period will be receiving a zero on their Potions Pop Quiz." Snape said, his robes rustling as he spun around the room. His long nose pointed down at some of his Slytherins, as he said scathingly, "You should be ashamed of yourselves. Even Potter knows not to eat before testing it. Has your hunger so sapped your wit?"

"Hard won experience, that." Harry said, thinking back to Hagrid.

Snape continued as if Harry hadn't said a thing, and maybe the sharp-eared teacher really hadn't heard. "If you have not yet done so, you should read ahead in Most Potente Potions to the section on powders, poisons, and other unsavory traps." Snape smirked, as he said, "Unfortunately, you are all confined to this room until you can either remove the deletirious substance, or it fades on its own. Wouldn't want to give the younger students any ideas."

Harry Potter, one of two people in the room not affected, quietly took a few steps towards the door, hoping to get out before lunch was entirely done.

"That means you too, Potter. Reversals are almost as important than not getting dosed in the first place."

Harry suppressed an aggrieved sigh, as he sank down onto his heels, too tired really to put much effort into removing unknown substances from his peers.

[a/n: Snape never did say what his pop quiz was on, did he?

He really wasn't trying to make this all that difficult either.

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I tried to clarify what it looks like in the classroom, as one of the reviewers had seen it significantly differently than I had. They're supposed to be dancing while hexing, but few can actually pull that off successfully.]