Nobody ever asked my birthday

With a cheshire grin

With an incident like that, it was no surprise to Harry that he entered the RoR grinning broadly.

He was spoiling for a fight.

Not for pain, nor inflicting pain.

Just... one of those days when everything feels like it's clicked together right. And it looks amazing.

From the instant Draco caught sight of Potter's face, he was on his guard. The sheer level of joyous energy radiating from Potter ought to be illegal. Draco knew it would be harshly punished in the Slytherin Common Room - one should be elegant, composed, and contained.

Potter, at the moment, exemplified House Gryffindor at its finest.

Exactly the time when House Slytherin hated it the most, of course.

Slytherin was inclined towards a sneering chuckle at Gryffindorian antics at the best of times (which was when they were losing the Lions scads of points).

This, though? This level of energy was almost charismatic in its pull.

Well, Draco Malfoy drily informed it, in the confines of his own head, you picked the wrong wizard.

Draco sent a shimmering blue spell towards Harry's feet - who quickly shielded. Unfortunately, not quick enough. the shield shimmered into view around Potter AND the spell.

Then Draco did a dirty trick - he yanked the spell away from Harry - who was already trying to jump Straight Up (acrobatics might be his specialty on a broom, but...).

With the shield still extant, the spell started to zig and zag, flying from one side of the shimmering ball to the other.

Potter screamed when it touched him, as if Draco had used something simply dark. No, he'd used something that was more of his own invention - lust, love, heartbreak, bound into one charm. Hm, Draco thought, it wasn't supposed to cause screaming.

Draco dropped the spell, hoping that Potter would be crying, or seething, or anything other than that gloriously unfeigned true happiness.

It was as if Potter didn't understand what he was doing-

Potter's scream broke - it didn't cut off, but it changed into a full on belly laugh. "That was fantastic!" Harry laughed.

fuck it all.

Even Granger and Weasley gave Potter odd looks as they came in. Did the Terrible Trio truly not know every member's personal business?

It wasn't as though Potter was unhittable in this sort of mood.

No, it was worse.

He was unstoppable.

You'd cast something on him, even Stoneskin, and he'd simply - keep going. It was infuriating, and what was worse, Draco was aware that it was Potter's mood that was causing this.

... and...

Potter was fighting too well. Disturbingly well.

Draco was going to have to fight below the belt. While Granger and Weasley were interacting with Potter, Draco scrawled a short message on two strips of parchment.

Then he grandstanded, striding forward and pushing both Granger and Weasley apart. In the process, he landed both of those strips inside their collars.

Were he looking behind himself, Draco might have noticed them both reading the notes (strategically cued in their hands), Granger's face transforming into a bloodthirsty grin, and Weasley's face looking confused, but still thinking.

"Well, well, well, what the hell are you on?" Draco Malfoy said with a heavy sneer in his voice.

Potter belted out a laugh, "Absolutely nothing at all!"

"You must be taking something," Draco said, sputtering out a laugh, "how else can you be laughing?"

The look Potter shot him was of blank incomprehension.

Draco looked insouciant. Relaxed, casual. It was a practiced look, and he knew he did it to perfection. "People are dying, out there. Screaming, even. Being tortured. And here you sit, doing nothing about it." Draco knew, without looking, that Granger and Weasley were looking at him, a bit warily.

Potter shook his head, in negation. "Not my problem," Harry shot back. "I'm ready. And I'm learning." Potter took a deep breath, almost as if he was meditating. He smiled a cocky smile, and grinned, "Besides, I can already whup your ass."

"That remains to be seen," Draco said, switching fluidly into battlestance.

Draco hadn't been holding back in practice. Holding back implies that you are trying to go easy on someone else. It was a calculated insult, and Draco thought they'd moved past that.

But Draco had placed some limits on his own behavior; so had the others, though probably with less critical reflection. Granger, in particular, with her impulse to be good in the eyes of authority figures, was most likely to have adopted their rules. Weasley seemed like the type to have taken 'fair fight' to mean a particular set of things, and that he'd simply explode if someone used the Wrong Thing. He too thought his rules were obvious.

Potter, though, it was clear, had fairness issues. That lay at the heart of his interactions with Snape, who was prone to picking on the Gryffindor. Any Gryffindor, really, but Potter bore more of Snape's tongue than Dean Thomas did, despite being at roughly the same skill level.

"What makes you so special?" Draco snarled, his wand busy casting and undoing Potter's spells.

Potter even took that with good grace. He raised an eyebrow, and smirked out, "Magic." And then Potter struck.

Draco actually managed to stop thinking about anything except sparring for about the next five minutes. Potter, when he was on, was really That Good. And Draco had never really liked being in pain, or being made to look like a fool.

About five minutes later, they were both breathing heavily, circling around each other. A detente, one easily shattered.

Draco wanted to sigh. He wanted to seethe, or bury his head in his hands. But, fuck, Potter in this type of mood was bloody dangerous.

He didn't have time for any of that.

Slytherins lived and died by their words, by subtle language of the hands or face.

But Draco? Draco was dealing with a Gryffindor.

Almost at an instant, Draco could feel the plan forming around him, like glass armor. Like a coiled snake, Draco struck without a thought.

Potter sent a Stupefy at him, Draco jumped to his side, letting his headlong momentum continue to carry him towards Potter.

Potter sent out an Expelliarmus, and Draco let him take the wand. This plan doesn't require it anyway.

Potter's eyes briefly rested on Draco's wand, nestled in his hand. The next moment, Potter was directing a brilliant smile at Draco.

Who promptly punched Potter straight on the nose.

Potter went down onto his rump (Draco hadn't been running that fast), and laughed warmly.

No. Draco thought, and he dropped an elbow straight into Potter's solar plexus, as they both hit the ground in a tumble of limbs.

Potter was hitting Draco, he was pretty sure - Adrenalin was keeping him nicely numbed. But Draco had never been one for free hits, so he kept hitting Potter, until Potter finally howled, "Malfoy, what the fuck was that for?"

Draco stood, bowed, and said stiffly, "You weren't yourself. Did no one teach you that any emotion, in a fight, can be a weapon? If you do not wield it yourself, someone else will wield it against you."

"Is that what you did?" Potter's green eyes blinked up at him.

"No," Draco Malfoy said, glad that his voice was too steady, "You were wielding it too well."

Draco diverted his eyes to the other two Gryffindors. He found himself relaxing, minutely. Weasley had caught what Draco was doing. Draco wasn't about to be hexed senseless. "Weasley, would you be so kind as to get the Headmaster? I suddenly find myself with a few too many inconvenient memories."

[a/n: Harry was having too much fun. leave a review? This was the chapter that would not end.

Guesses on what Draco told the other two?

Snape is generally so composed... he might have thought to train Potter out of anger, but not how to master joy. Not unless it was shoved in his face, and Potter's scraps with Snape were ... cerebral things.

If Draco had any idea that Snape had trained Potter, he'd be having words.]