Nobody ever asked my birthday

Do toads return to Hogwarts?

Snape stirred, deep within his rooms. He was tired as the dickens, but he stirred nonetheless. Were those fireworks? In the Slytherin dungeons?

Silently, quietly, he prayed that it was not so. That the toad Umbridge had not returned to Hogwarts.

Sense returned to him slowly, as he had to concentrate on his own heartbeat to keep it humming. Oh, that's right, the Defense Association...reborn.

Snape mentally recalled that his chambers were warded to allow sound to penetrate, but not to leave again. He figured that sounded odd from the outside, and perhaps ought to test it himself, someday soon.

It sounded like the hounds of hell were baying outside his door. The sound resolved a bit more, into the combined howls of Ginny Weasley and Pansy Parkinson.

Snape closed his eyes, not to sleep, but to decipher the meanings. There was the sound of pounding feet, and more officious ones. Draco Malfoy, for one, spouting off about the rapscallions that dared to set off fireworks. And then pointing the Inquisitor Squad onto a path. Snape knew what he was doing, the treacherous bastard. A slow, lazy half smile dawned on Snape's face.

They'd report at the Room of Requirement, Snape knew, and he was going to enjoy every detailed description.

It was a shame, Snape thought that he didn't have anything in particular he wanted to procure from the Ravenclaws. That would be just the excuse he needed to schlep the stairs. And suddenly, Snape smiled. It was always nice when plans came together with a mere thought.

Snape strode upward as if he really were a wraith, passing unhindered between fireworks, paint spells, and other explosive distractions. That would be the Gryffindors, he presumed. The Ravenclaws had gone with a rather more surrealistic bent, which Snape found a good deal more clever and devilish tricky to not react to. He knew the floor was still there, even if his eyes insisted he was now walking on the ceiling. Even if his feet could boot the sconces near the top of the room. Steady on. The Hufflepuffs' madness wasn't a drain on Snape - he figured they'd gone for the simple route, like their totem animal.

Harry was wide awake now, looking mildly horrified at all the property damage that the Defense Association had managed to produce. Harry hadn't... hadn't thought they'd go that far. Filch was going to have a fit. If Harry could wave a wand, and fix all of it...

Well, really, why not?

Harry thought of the Jetsons, a television show that had been banned because Uncle Vernon couldn't stand anything strange. He conjured a small sponge, and told it, the way he'd seen Luna, "Clean this up."

The sponge, predictably, just sat there.

Maybe he needed some cueing? Maybe he should just go to the DA and ask her?

He wasn't looking forward to admitting to Hermione that he'd just forgotten to tell her. She wasn't likely to be pleased.

Taking a deep breath, he soldiered on, reminding himself that Ginny and Pansy in a catfight was both:

1) Fascinating to watch


2) To be prevented at all costs, due to the definite emergence of blood.

Inside the Room of Requirement, the mood was celebratory, with Hermione taking advantage of everyone's happy gregariousness to pick their minds about what they'd done. Harry's eyes quickly found Pansy and Ginny - who were laughing together, "Did you see his face?" Harry really hoped they weren't talking about him.

Harry listened intently, not contributing much. Of course, since everyone seemed to think they'd already told him (they had, he hadn't listened), they were eagerly babbling to each other, mostly across house lines, as it seemed there had been more coordination than he'd expected.

"Hey you lot, I thought that was a real fight," Harry said, making his way over to Pansy and Ginny.

"I'll do you one better!" Ginny said, guffawing, "Malfoy thought I meant it when I threw myself at him."

Pansy shrugged, "Distracting Draco is a little like throwing gold around a niffler. He's likely to run after anything that's not nailed down."

Harry frowned, slightly, "He's no thief..." with a considering tone.

"No, he's just spoiled. What he wants, he gets." Pansy said.

"Not always," Harry said firmly.

"He got you, didn't he?" Pansy said, smirking. And that was something Harry suddenly didn't want an answer to.

Harry, in the end, simply shrugged.

Pansy smirked at Ginny, "Boys!"

Ginny responded back, "Emotional range of a teaspoon!"

Harry responded, "Hey! That was Ron!"

Ginny spat back, "And it's you, when you start acting like my youngest brother!" While the wording was true, it made Ron sound like he was younger than Ginny. Which Harry often felt was true.

Hermione was still writing, and Harry walked close to the Slytherins, interested in hearing what their reports would be. Other than Pansy, they'd apparently just used House Privilege and the canny ability to dodge the Ravenclaws. Apparently Malfoy was extending them courtesy he wasn't giving the other houses.

Then something happened that surprised Harry. Goyle smiled his molasses smile, and said, "Not that I haven't come up with a few things we haven't used yet."

This was going to be good, Harry could tell.

[a/n: Goyle's a slow thinker - not the best thing, but far from the worst. He plays up looking stupid. Nobody expects nothing from the stupid. Leave a review?]