Nobody ever asked my birthday

Incomprehension

It was easy to dismiss Ron Weasley, Harry thought. He was the playful, happy one of their trio. He wasn't terribly studious, and was obsessed with a doomed team in Quiddich.

But there were times.

And this was one of them.

Ron took the words right out of Harry's mouth, "I can never tell what he's thinking about, when he puts that formal stiff-face on."

Harry chuckled, saying, "I know what you mean. It hides everything. Is he upset? Hurt? Completely placid?"

Hermione said, "Not that last. He's relying on a ... basic, trained protocol."

Ron and Harry both looked at her.

"He's... better at communicating, normally. He doesn't generally sound like that, right?" Hermione said.

The boys nodded.

"And it's generally safe to assume that he's hunky-dory while playing Quiddich, isn't that so?"

The boys nodded.

"Then this is a learned behavior, designed to wall people out from whatever emotion he's feeling." Hermione said.

Ron asked, "Yeah, but why?"

Harry slowly found his voice, "Because it's inconvenient." In the moment, Harry was back at the Dursleys, suppressing his rage at Dudley having slammed his hand into the hot pan - and the ensuing sizzle. Worse, Vernon had come down looking for bacon.

Ron nodded slowly, "We've seen him angry, and joyous - but only when you'd expect that."

Hermione said slowly, "When his audience expected it."

Harry nodded, "He's playing to the crowd, and when he has a "Bad emotion" he just walls it off." Harry had entirely too much practice with that. But the Dursleys had wanted him silent - Malfoy switched to being the Perfect Pureblood Ponce.

Ron nodded, "Still doesn't mean we know what he means by it."

Hermione said, "You could just ask him, you know?"

Harry spoke up, suddenly vehement, "No, we can't."

Ron continued, "He's right, you know, he'll have been obliviated."

Hermione nodded, "Maybe next time?"

Harry looked at his watch, and said, "He'll be back soon. We'd better get practicing."

Surely enough five minutes later, Malfoy burst into the room, asking, "What did I miss?"

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