Nobody ever asked my birthday

Oh, boy, Not Again!

Hogwarts finally had something to gossip about that wasn't about Harry, or his friends, or even people he'd cared about. Harry cared so little about it, he hadn't even bothered figuring out which House it was about. Maybe someone had the ability to fart puce, and that had occupied all the attention of the entire school.

Harry didn't care. It was nice to savor freedom at breakfast, it happened so rarely. Instead of picking at his food, Harry dove in with a will, idly trying to match Ron in volume, if not speed. There was no way he was keeping up with Ron's speed. Hermione looked at both of them over her book, before - Harry could see the wheels turning- deciding it wasn't worth asking about.

Neville had no such wisdom or compunctions. "Quite an appetite there today, eh Harry?"

"Ymnfl!" Harry said, talking through what he was eating, and making sure to smile without showing any teeth - or more importantly, food.

Harry was good at learning from others; Dudley and Ron shared unfortunate table manners, although Ron was less prone to tantrums.

Hermione suddenly took her book and shoved it to one side, "Neville, come look at this!"

Harry felt inexplicably shut out at that, a sharp pang of loneliness. He knew he wouldn't have felt that if it had been Ron she was talking to.

Still, out of curiosity, and only a little of that utter lonely, Harry craned his neck to see what Hermione was showing off.

Snapdragons and their breeding with manticores to create blast-ended skrewts.

Harry had to smile, because that was just Hermione. Who else got such simple, pure joy out of learning? Well, maybe that was why she was showing it off to Neville - they had since sparked up an animated discussion.

Harry leaned back, no longer feeling lonely at all.

Naturally, it was just then that he looked at Professor Snape, whose dead eyes were thoughtfully watching the Slytherin table.

And just like that, Harry was in a bad mood again.

[Harry says tantrums. I say histrionics. I like my word better, but alas, Harry doesn't know it (Yet another indication that Snape's been going light. 'adolescent histrionics' sounds like something he'd say to pooh-pooh some drama).

Reviews make me happy! reviews mean more story!

As to the anon reviewer who asked "Is Hermione oblivious, or does she have a good poker face?"

Given that Draco's kissed her (for a happy memory, no less), she's not oblivious. Harry told her to let it go for now (which Draco overheard), so both Hermione and Draco are trying to ignore the elephant in the room. That being said, it wouldn't be Hermione if she wasn't sparking it off with Draco like she often sparks with Ron. The chemistry may be there, but ... it's not a "they must have feelings for each other" sort of dealio. And if they both work really hard at not seeing the obvious, it can pass under the bridge.

Ron is about the only person who's oblivious to Draco/Hermione chemistry. Because he's Ron, and because there's Lavender Brown.

Should the reader who commented on chapter 40, on Snape's drawl being "out of character" - you can pretty much replace drawl with dryly. I use drawl as a type of speaking, and it's quite possible to drawl while being precise and spur-shiny. Besides, Snape's always seemed to be more of a feline underneath it all...]