When the banner unfurled, I knew I had been spending too much time with Severus Snape. I could hear it. In his voice.
It was disturbing, alright?
"Now that you've gotten in, can you get out?
Find your key.
But beware, the egress is not the entrance."
To top it all off, Hermione Granger just started laughing. Like, belly on the floor, wriggling laughter (luckily, she wasn't on the floor). Everyone else in the room stared at her like she was somehow... off. Well, except Malfoy and Pansy, both of whom looked like they desperately wanted in on the joke, and didn't have a prayer in their cold dead hearts of giving up enough pride to ask her.
It was hilarious, well, if you're me, at least. Pride never stopped me from asking a question; wisdom had, once, I vaguely recalled. I think the reason I didn't recall it better was that particular wisdom hadn't resurfaced for a while, and the Dursleys hit hard, and didn't ask questions.
Oh, everyone except those two, me, and Gregory Goyle, apparently (he was farther away from Hermione than I was, so I didn't notice, until...): "Izzat why we've got bread?" Greg asked, his mouth full of bread.
Everyone looked to him (including a still-laughing Hermione Granger, who loved riddles just as much as she loved secrets), and saw behind him, there were loaves of bread. A quick count told me that it was exactly the number of people. Sans one, of course, because Greg had picked one up and was eating it.
"How do you get a key out of bread?" Parvati said, and I spent a good half minute trying to figure out how she got in, before noticing that two of her talon-like nails were scuffed.
Hermione, as always, has all the answers; so, we just had to wait until she stopped laughing. "There's a sucker born every minute." She gasped, and then started laughing again.
Draco Malfoy, of all people, frowned, asking in his usual sneer, "Don't most babies suckle? Even Muggles must drink somehow..."
This made Hermione laugh all the louder.
I was suddenly rather glad that Severus Snape, Potions Master and general dick, wasn't in the room. He'd have blown a fuse at Hermione's untoward laughter, I swear to all that is holy.
About a minute (and another hank of Greg's bread) later, Hermione said, "It's just like King Cake. Except instead of a coin, there's a key."
Draco Malfoy was nodding, "So we need to eat our way to the exit. How plebian."
Pansy Parkinson was in a snit, and she was followed by Parvati, "There is no way I am eating an entire loaf of bread. Just give me mine, and I'll tear through it for the key."
Parvati gave Parkinson a grateful smile, saying, "That's the spirit!"
"Your funeral," Justin the Hufflepuff said, and everyone looked at him with a "why are you interrupting" look.
Severus Snape stood in a room that was conspicuously missing the more talented students. The last door had closed, and here stood the Ravenclaws, along with the less clever students, primarily Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. Along with Crabbe, of course. It wasn't that he wasn't talented, he just preferred to hide it, and Goyle had already put his shoulder through one door. Wise of him, that. Professor Snape wouldn't have allowed the same trick a second time. "You have all failed the assignment." Snape said, "Your homework is to discover at least five ways through the doors. There will be no additional aid from your teachers, so do not clutter up my office hours."
The room seemed restive, particularly the Ravenclaws. They always hated getting poor marks - it was hardly his fault if they lacked creativity, was it? Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a house elf wave a red and blue banner. The banner's out. ProfessorSnape was far more interested in those students with talent. If teaching Potions had taught him nothing else, it was that some students were completely hopeless.
[a/n: Switched to first person for the first bit. It seemed to fit. Snape would kick out the talentless if he had half a chance. Well, if it wouldn't get them killed, at any rate. Ravenclaws, at least, will work harder from being flunked.
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