Nobody ever asked my birthday


[This chapter is inspired by an Altered Carbon episode. Do check out that series.]

Harry Potter came back from his morning run sweaty and a bit chilled. It was growing colder, and soon he'd have to figure out whether it was worth becoming an icicle, or if he'd rather do stairs in the castle instead. Harry thought he preferred the stairs, but then felt a sudden qualm. Why would he want to do what was easy, rather than what was hard?

Mornings were peaceful things, even at the Gryffindor table - because most of the Gryffs were night owls. Harry heard a spirited debate on the Third Principle of Edwina Lovechild going on at the Ravenclaw table, but from this distance, it was like a babbling brook. They weren't really going at it anyway, it was just the fun of countering each other's arguments, truth be told. All for the glory of the mind!

Harry was rather glad he wasn't in Ravenclaw. It was rather early for all that, he thought.

Hermione was busy studying - not for Defense, but for Charms. Harry leaned over, "Do we have a test this week?"

"No, next. Still, if I get this right now, I won't be worrying about it the whole day." Hermione said crossly. Harry leaned back and grinned.

Down the table some, Ron and Lavender were flirting with food, which was fine, although Harry really didn't want to see it up close. Hermione always said Ron's manners were atrocious, and Harry figured they must be, because she certainly didn't complain about his! And Harry Potter hadn't been taught at all!

Neville was talking with some younger years (Harry thought Romilda might have been trying to flirt with him, but Neville wasn't at all interested).

Harry stood, casting a quick tempus. Halfway through breakfast. Well, he wanted to see what Snape's classroom was like. Even if it was bare, he could get started warming up. He didn't want anyone to think he was a slob, or a duffer. Particularly at defense.

Inside Snape's wide classroom (it was five times the size of his Potions Classroom, and that was already double-wide because of the cauldrons), there were a dozen doors, set up in a 2 dimensional array. It was odd, too, as they had hinges but no supports.

Magic was often odd that way.

Harry strode up to one, turning the handle; contrary to common expectation, the door did not turn with it. Instead, he heard a click, and he carefully swung it open. It looked as though the walls were invisible, but as Harry walked through the opening that the door had formerly been in, he kept his arm wide, so that his palm would hit the wall. The wall stubbornly refused to make contact - completely insensible.

Harry turned around, and closed the door. What else was he going to do, anyway?

He started stretching, using a mirror charm to practice defending against his own spells. This was predictable, for about the first minute. Spells flew at the same speed, which wasn't quite instantaneous, but was close enough. Then he started the mirror wiggle-waggling, and it was a good deal tougher. Harry fell into a rhythm, and the challenge was mostly putting up his own shield as quickly as possible. If you kept the accents the same, Harry found, you could clip off the word - make it faster, the gleaming translucent silver of his shield spell snapping up quicker and quicker.

He hadn't realized that anyone had entered, until he heard the sardonic clapping of Severus Snape. "Doubtless it took you ages to learn that petty trick." Harry wanted to boil at the insult - he hadn't had anyone to practice with (as usual, he'd never seen a mate at the Dursleys'), so he'd made do. Harry rather abruptly came to the conclusion that his rage was both well deserved, and better off being shown than stuffed deep in his belly. If looks could kill, Harry's might just have lit Snape on fire.

Snape pretended to take no notice of Harry's glare, as he continued, his voice rapping for attention, "Class, if you will please direct your attention to me, and not the show-off in the center of the room?"

[a/n: anyone got ideas on what I'm doing here? Leave a review anyway.]