Nobody ever asked my birthday

An owl at the dinner table

Harry Potter had raced through Thursday - paying attention this time as if the hounds of hell were breathing on his neck.

(Okay, more like if Snape was breathing down his neck. Harry figured Hounds of Hell probably just wanted a nice steaky).

Nerves shot through him, tingles and spikes of excitement that wanted to twist his stomach, but weren't quite that long.

Harry had trouble keeping still, and had to resort to opening up the box of Do Not Think About's.

Do Not Think About

Cedric

Sirius

Mum

Da

There were other people in that box, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, Dudley the doofus - but he never wanted to think about them again, if he could help it. They weren't sad memories, they were aggravating realities. And ones he'd probably be stuck dealing with, again, despite the fact that he would be an adult mid-summer.

He kept his mind on the sad, as if sweet strains of black music were wrapping around his heart.

It worked, somewhat.

He paid attention in class, somewhat.

By the end of class, he was darting outside, not to get a drink, or anything, really, other than to stretch his legs.

That was the thing about Do-Not-Think-About's - when you really didn't want to think about them, they vanished from his mind like wisps of fog before summer sunlight.

Harry would have thought that his friends might have worried about him - and maybe they did, but somehow he didn't think so. Hermione could care less, so long as his homework got done (and done right). She hated being bothered by him and Ron, but... was flattered when she was asked, as well. And Ron? Ron was currently wrapped around Lavender Brown.

Harry didn't need eyes to see that, he had his nose. Every night Ron came home reeking head to tail with her perfume.

He showed up to dinner like clockwork, and that was good enough for everyone, it seemed. Luna sent him a wave as he sat down, and Harry wondered what she was planning. She'd done something with the mistletoe, with the holly, with all the garlands she'd wrapped everywhere. Harry vaguely hoped it wasn't poisonous, whatever she'd done.

A single solitary owl winged over the Gryffindor table. Hedwig.

"Girl, what are you doing here?" Harry cooed, knowing that everyone was watching him, but not especially caring. Hedwig was his friend, and deserved a good scritch behind the ears. And a double-helping of bacon.

He gave her both of those before even looking at the parchment on her foot. It was gayly striped in red and green, which made Harry blink. At Hogwarts, where people wore House colors like muggle urchins wore gang colors, it was rare to see something this... flagrantly unaligned.

Harry opened the paper (glad that, for once, Ron was at the other end of the table - he'd have read over Harry's shoulder) - inside was an emoticon.

o^-^o
-HH-

The twins were here.

Harry stood and strode out of the Great Hall, leaving his entire dinner barely touched. He didn't need to look to know that the entire hall was watching his exit. He especially didn't need to look to know that Snape was watching his disappearance - Snape's eyes had a way of itching, when they were drilling into the back of your head.

The twins were here, a day early. Surely they wouldn't want to sleep in Gryffindor? Were they just here to plot, and gallywag back to Hogsmeade? Sleep at Madame Rosmerta's?

The twins, of all people, knew they needn't tell him where they were. He found the nearest alcove that he dared (he knew, without question, that someone would be following him, so he concentrated on giving them the slip by descending to the dungeons and resurfacing near the Front Coatroom, which made a great place for plotting mischief.

They were at Hagrid's Hut.

That at least made sense.

[a/n: The twins don't like to be predictable. And yes, an adolescent boy receiving an untimely owl, and leaving his dinner behind, is worthy of speculation. That he wasn't seen heading to the Headmaster's office, or his Head of House's, will also be discussed.

Review!

The original of this had Ron telling Hermione where Harry was, as Draco enters the RoR. I figure this works better.

There are wards for Hogwarts. Other than that, anyone willing to walk through the Forbidden Forest can enter. That most adults do not often enter, is easily understood, as "They're busy doing Real Jobs."]