Nobody ever asked my birthday

Shadows of the Past

It was Friday morning.

Severus Snape was doing his best to consume a suitable breakfast.

Out of the corner of his eye, he couldn't help but notice Potter, his lean arms around Granger and Weasley, pulling them in close. They were whispering.

Oh, joy, Snape thought with fullest sarcasm. And right before Potions too. Whatever can they be up to? Snape's body seemed utterly convinced of implausible things - such as the Golden Trio deciding to prank him. He didn't actually think they were that daft. However, something in how they were sitting, in the sidekicks' rapt attention to Potter, reminded him of James.

His body was quite content to be uneasy, running on fifteen-year-old heuristics, nevermind that the circumstances no longer existed.

He wasn't even tempted to eavesdrop. Whatever was going to happen would happen, and Snape sincerely doubted that he'd need to interfere. Want to? Oh, yes - it was as if his students had no concept of how much it drove him to distraction when people wasted classtime. Unlike the rest of the courses, it was actively dangerous to practice Potions without a teacher - he'd only granted dispensation to Malfoy so he wouldn't have to babysit Goyle and Crabbe himself.

No Slytherin was going to achieve a Troll on his Potions grade.

There were standards.

Leaving his breakfast significantly unfinished (Pomona sniffed at him as he passed), Snape headed down to his Potions classroom. As usual, he didn't actually go into the Potions classroom. No, he sat in the room across the hall, and used a few discrete charms to observe the goings-on. He didn't trust the little beasts to not blow themselves up if they weren't observed. Still, he'd found that animosities were far less distracting in class if they were expressed before class. Provided they weren't expressed in loss of eyes, hands or ears, all of which would interfere with Proper Potion Methods.*

Snape saw Potter entering the classroom, and he narrowed his eyes, eager to see just what calamity awaited his own entrance.** Potter did nothing, that Snape could see, other than occupying a different table than his two mates.

Draco Malfoy and the Slytherins entered as a group, with Draco Malfoy taking the seat beside Potter. Snape slightly frowned at this - he'd intended last class' switcharoo to punish Potter, but hadn't particularly planned on pairing him again with Malfoy. Perhaps Snape would have chosen Nott, whose temper was prodigious when roused. It was perhaps fortunate for all of Hogwarts that he was generally only angered over poorly done schoolwork, particularly in group projects.

The Ravenclaws entered as a group as well, busy talking about unicorn hairs and their effects on wandlore. Snape tuned them out - although quite a few Ravenclaws liked pranks, they wouldn't pull one unless they were certain of getting away scot free. It was the point, after all, in their minds, to not get caught - to demonstrate their intellectual superiority over others. They tended to pull fewer pranks as a result.

Ernie McMillan and Susan Bones strode into the room - Susan was a middling potioneer, but only wanted it to become an Auror like her aunt. Ernie was one of those strange Hufflepuffs who liked Potions purely because it was hard work.

That was the last of them, Snape thought, as he strode towards his classroom, flinging the doors open in a precisely timed move that had them clanging against the stone walls, and then snapping shut without breaking the doorframe. There had been, and there would be, times that Snape couldn't manage the finesse to shut and lock the door, either with magic or with his leaden limbs. Managing a flat out barge into unlocked, unlatched doors at a precise rhythm was far easier.***

[a/n: Please leave a review? What do you think Potter will do? Expect another chapter today with the conclusion. Snape gets twitchy too, though he hides it better.]

* Reference to Catch-22, and the use of copper cables to improve marching discipline. Snape likes precisely that sort of dark humor.

**Snape doesn't think his entrance is overly dramatic.

***Yes, Snape finds his entrances inelegant. They are.