Nobody ever asked my birthday


[second post of the day]

Harry wasn't early to class for once. He didn't want to stand out, and he wasn't quite sure why.

Of course, there had been times when he hadn't wanted to stand out - it was more his policy than otherwise, really.

So why, with Snape of all people...had that changed?

Harry set the matter aside, merging into the flow of students into the classroom, and finding a blank expanse of wall (even when it was crowded, people stood closer to the center, with their friends.). He chose to try something different - he wanted to loosen up, to have his muscles warmed up for Defense Class.

This time, he was trying to do it quietly. subtly. He couldn't help but feel like his muscles were twitching - like a horse trying to twitch off a fly. It was a silly thing. But if someone had his robe off, they could see what he was doing, and what was the point of that? Harry frowned, I need to get better at this.

"Class is now in session," Snape intoned, rather surprisingly appearing behind the podium. For a man who liked such showy entrances...

Snape stalked the informal aisles, stopping before Susan Bones, "Does it not bother you that you didn't notice me? That, when I showed myself, you simply stood there?"

Susan Bones blinked, as if confused at being asked any question. "Of course it does, sir. Closing the barn door doesn't catch the hippogriffs." Her chin jutted up, as if daring Snape to disagree.

"You will work on this in your spare time?" Snape said, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

"House Hufflepuff, sir," Bones responded, "We won't shirk."

Snape nodded gravely, "See that you don't."

Snape wheeled, and somehow managed to address the entire class from near the center of the room. "Earlier in the year, I began our study of blindfighting, the art of the dagger in the dark, the wand without wizard. Have you kept up with your training?"

No one responded, and Harry thought that this, unlike most of the nonverbal casting they'd worked on, hadn't actually been reviewed out of class.

"Potter - on the dais." Snape snapped.

Harry sprung onto the dais, landing more like a frog than a person.

Malfoy laughed at that, even as Harry stood up and sent his best glare at Malfoy.

Snape had taken a stave, and was drawing a circle around Harry. "This will be the dueling circle. It will allow the rest of you to see, while we remain in darkness."

There was a low murmur that echoed through the classroom. It held tones of interest and nervousness alike, with more than a few brushes toward suspicion.

Snape stepped into the circle, and said, "Nox."

Harry stowed his wand. It wasn't like he'd know where the floor was, in about ten seconds, so why have something so fragile out and ready to break?

Snape's voice sounded from just behind Harry's ear. "Stand as still as you can, and do just what you're told."

Harry was suddenly sure that this wasn't how Defense class was supposed to go, even with Snape teaching. Perhaps especially then. Still, he grit his teeth, and tried to not ask What the hell is going on?

Snape's fist slammed into his back, and Harry bit back a scream. He'd managed to not scream under the Cruciatus, for a while at least. He wasn't about to scream here, in front of classmates.

The hail of blows continued, like fire exploding from various portions of Harry's body - the pain seemed to flow from one place to another. At least Snape wasn't laughing. Harry'd always hated Dudley's enjoyment, more than the bruises.

This felt like more than bruises, though.

The last thing Harry felt, inside the circle, was Snape grabbing his hand, and yanking. Harry fell on the hand, which was actually outside the circle. Snape's heel came down directly over the palm, and as the scarskin on the bottom tore, Harry screamed.

The entire class stirred (even the Slytherins, mostly, though Theo had somehow managed to keep his composure), but in the end, did nothing.

Snape moved his foot off Harry's hand, grabbing Potter by the wrist and hauling him upright. With his wand, Snape banished the circle of darkness, leaving a blank space in it's wake.

"Drink this," Snape said, offering Harry Potter a potion.

Harry studied the potion, for a brief second, watching the rainbows play over its midnight surface. I've never seen this potion before. Then, with a mental shrug, he drank. The potion seemed to bubble within him, little tingles of electricity flowing over Harry's body.

Harry heard Snape ask, "Can anyone tell me what I did wrong this class?"

He tuned out, after that, as he'd just realized something - his left hand worked, again. Harry spent the rest of class staring down at his hand, in wonder, as he moved it freely. He'd burnt the palm badly as a child, and just gotten used to how badly it had healed. He hadn't been able to straighten his palm in years... That wasn't the only thing Snape had fixed. Not that that was surprising, Harry thought. He'd seen me naked while we were training - because it wasn't like we weren't going to bathe for a month!

Harry left the Defense classroom as quickly as his short legs would carry him. His friends came after, Hermione finally pinning him - but at least he was away from the Slytherins.

"Harry, what was that about?" Hermione said, sounding legitimately angry, "It sounded like he was torturing you."

"Mate," Ron said, "What a git, am I right?" Ron sounded more like he trusted Harry to tell him if it was awful. Harry wasn't sure why that was - maybe Lockhart? Harry wasn't one for talking about troubles, generally...

Harry's face split into a twisted sort of smile, and he just kind of shook his head, "You could call it Snape saying thank you, for that prank I pulled on Friday."

Ron shrugs, "Funny way to say thanks, I guess."

Hermione seemed to bite back a retort, and then said, more calmly, "I don't think he means a 'nice' thank you. He means payback."

Harry didn't bother correcting her.

"Dead Handy," Neville Longbottom said, finishing retelling the story of Defense class.

Ginny Weasley got to her feet, "Try Peruvian Darkness Powder! Can't be dispelled, good for at least ten minutes. And my brothers sell it for next to nothing."

Ginny and the rest of the Gryffindors hadn't noticed, but Harry had - the other tables had been listening. Harry had a sudden suspicion that the Twins were about to be inundated with owls, ready to trade galleons for safety. Remembering his own parents, Harry could sympathize.

Shoving a sandwich into his mouth, Harry said, "Gotta go!" and headed for the owlry, already composing the letter in his head.

[a/n: Three guesses as to how much of this Snape predicted. That potion doesn't work on old wounds, by the way - you have to break things open to fix them. Brutal, but way more effective than anything else.

Reviews keep me writing!

Harry has no idea how much that 'twisted smile' of his looks like Snape's. Let's keep it that way!]