Nobody ever asked my birthday

Dreams spiral like stars in the sky

Harry woke the next day to run. Circling Hogwarts was different than running from Dudley - he'd always needed to be aware, because sometimes Piers was hiding somewhere, or Chuck or Mark, on occasion. And the older boys would trip him just on general principle.

So it wasn't that he was unaware... but here, there was a certain sense of peace and quiet, even if Snape might jump out of a bush at any moment. Harry wished he would, but it was a futile wish, and Harry knew it from the start. You didn't get anything from wishing, life had taught him that.

So he sent is feet plunging on, while he spun thoughts out like spirals of stars, glimmering on the midnight blue velvet of his mind.

It was one thing to have the motive. Motives were cheap, Harry'd found. Oh, how he'd wanted the Dursleys to like him. Hadn't ever really helped, truly. They'd just gone on hating him. He'd been a lot younger than he was now when he'd ripped the desire to be cared for right out of his chest.

Harry would, hopefully, have the method - he knew he could count on the twins, as much as anyone could. They owed him, already. But they weren't exactly the most methodical experimenters... Perhaps he'd have had a quicker answer if he'd simply have asked for something to cause an insatiable appetite? Live and learn, Harry thought, his body beginning to burn.

The opportunity? That would be substantially more tricky. Harry continued his next circuit, his mind on Cloying Clods, not the clods on the ground. He was lucky he didn't trip to be honest.

It was Thursday, Snape thought his eyes raking the Great Hall. His eyes caught Potter's, sharpening as they raked over the boy. Harry Potter's eyes looked down nearly immediately. Not a glare then, but an inquisitive look Good. Let him question all he likes, just keep his bloody mouth silent or I'll stitch it together with unicorn tails, so help me God.

Snape's eyes kept moving, resting briefly on Granger and the boy Weasley. They were behaving as usual, so it was probably safe to assume that Potter had gone back to his usual form.

Snape's eyes flicked over the Hufflepuffs, finding the usual Smith's pomposity, and Ernie's effervescent rolling of the eyes. If I could ever manage to be so pleasantly sarcastic... Snape thought with a petty jealousy.

The Ravenclaws were in fine form today - arguing over whether the world was actually flat or round. Snape knew the Muggleborns had the right of it, but it would hardly do for him to chime in, now would it? Some secrets were better off hidden - at least that was how the proverb was writ. Snape had amended that to Keep all secrets that ye may, for time is still a flying. And all the secrets you speak today, tomorrow will see you dying.

Snape's eyes scrutinized the Slytherin table - the only one he was quite allowed to look at so closely. Not that Minerva or Pomona would say a word - they'd learned the hard way that Snape intervened. Or, Snape thought charitably, they'd simply learned that he'd brook no opposition to simple nosiness. When Pomona had first raised an objection, Snape had simply said, "It's my job to know about all the petty little schemes the students are brewing. Or have your wits gotten so befuddled with age, that you've forgotten your duty to those who might ensnare themselves like a cat in a ball of yarn?" Pomona had sniffed, said "Well, I never! The cheek on you is appalling!" and had stalked off. But she'd never harangued him about his observations again. Occasionally, he'd have a word with her - about a particularly puissant Hufflepuff (any other kind was no trouble at all), that was bothering one of his Slytherins. And she listened, and to the extent teachers could, intervened. Perhaps a class project, or a prefject position - something, anything to steer a Hufflepuff away from a Slytherin who was becoming Bothered.

Malfoy looked tired, and Snape suppressed a vicious little smirk. Of all the things to come out of this merry farce of a year, Draco Malfoy was entirely too caught up in schemes to be at loggerheads with Harry Potter. And vice versa.

Snape had too many other irons in the fire to spend his time acting as nursemaid to two boys who really ought to know better.

Rivalries were one thing, but they ought to end at the Quiddich Pitch, not be carried throughout the school year and used to exude testosterone at a rate heretofore unheard of.

Hermione had finished her reading at breakfast, and so as she sat down for lunch, she was pleasantly surprised to see Harry was back. He'd been... off. Not "bad" off, just ... sort of missing. Hermione ached to figure out what was going on, but she didn't have any clues at all, other than Harry having disappeared. Generally when he was up to something mischevious (and thus worthy of "don't tell Hermione"), Ron would be involved, and she knew how to milk Ron.

[a/n: Up next, recruitment. Leave a review, please?]