Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 221

Harry Potter lay down, sprawled on the ground in a most undignified fashion. He'd stopped thinking, in fact, falling back on older skills. Listening, hearing, watching... and seeing.

Harry Potter had never been particularly sly, nor deceitful, nor particularly ambitious. Which left one thread out of place - why had the Sorting Hat tried to put him in Slytherin?

His eyes drifted over to Draco Malfoy, running along the boy he had to admit he didn't know nearly as well as he'd have insisted just a few months ago. For all the time he'd spent glaring over at the arrogant boy, he hadn't tried to... see.

What was the similarity?

What pulled Greg Goyle to Slytherin? Severus Snape? Tom Riddle himself?

And then it clicked, the knowledge slotting into his head just as if it had always been there - which it had. He just hadn't let himself see it. Too busy trying to be a Gryffindor, he supposed. To have friends, to be liked.

For the moment, he let those thoughts drift away from him.

Just be.

It was a quiet state, a level of meditation that might have some potential for...

Just be, he thought again, more firmly.

Just be.

And then, as everything resolved into crystallic perfection, he spoke. "I heard a rumor a while back..." He let the story lie fallow, the potential hanging like a cloud so low it was fog.

"Oh?" Malfoy responded, his face deliberately not showing the interest that he most surely had. Harry knew how Malfoy'd respond if he didn't care. That's nice, Potter. Malfoy'd drawl, Turning into a gossipy old maid?

"About Snape." Harry Potter said, "I'd like to know the truth."

"I'm sure you would," Malfoy said, balancing on an elbow, "What makes you think that I know?"

"I don't think you do,really." Harry admitted, "But you can find out."

"I can do many things, Potter," Malfoy drawled, his pace deliberately slow, almost tantalizing. "What makes you think that I'll do this for you?"

"For me?" Potter said, chuckling, "No, you'll do it for the knowledge itself, I think." Harry let his mouth slowly smile, turning into a grin.

"And if you're asking me to just hunt after lies?" Malfoy said skeptically.

"Then I'll pay a forfeit." Harry responded. "Your choice, nothing illegal or that will absolutely get me thrown out of school."

"Lotta leeway in that," Malfoy said, his eyes staring upwards, but flashing greedily, "If I asked you to plant a swamp in the middle of the Great Hall?"

"A good prank," Harry affably agreed, "I'd do it, of course."

Malfoy's answering smirk was almost all the acceptance Harry needed. But he willed himself to stay quiet, to wait until Malfoy put it into words. "Okay, what's this rumor?"

"I heard that Professor Snape had a friend who was in Gryffindor." Harry said, doing his best to sound, if not idle, at least not very invested in the whole of the question. It had been driving him up the wall for ages, but he devoutly couldn't bear if Malfoy knew that. What sort of Death Eater had that been? It boggled the mind to think of someone from Gryffindor, home of Sirus Black and James Potter, having the black bollocks to hang out with Severus Snape. It was the sort of thing that Harry needed to know. Snape was a scholar, as much as he was a Potions Master - was that what had gotten him a Gryffindor friend?

Malfoy snorted, "Is your source at all credible, Potty? Because that sounds incredible."

"The best." Harry responded, and knowingly let Malfoy reach the conclusion that it was McGonagall.

"I'll ask around." Malfoy said, his knowing smirk flashing into a smug smile. "Be prepared to pay up."

Harry laced his hands behind his head, in an impression of nonchalance that he didn't feel, "Oh, I will."

[a/n: When Harry's out of options, he turns to his Slytherin side. It's actually a lot better developed (and fully featured) than his Gryffindor side.

Can you guess what sets Slytherins apart? Write it in a review, if you like.]