Nobody ever asked my birthday

Bonfires and Vanities

It seemed like everyone else had changed before descending to the bonfire (or ascending in the Slytherins' case).

Harry didn't mind not having changed (his non-school clothes were overly large), though he hoped he didn't look the part of the prat, like Malfoy did, strutting around with his medallion on. The Ravenclaws were doing it too, so at least Malfoy wasn't so gauche as to do it alone.

Wow. Had he really fallen so far as masturbation jokes?

There was food, and drink, a bit of music (someone had scraped together a guitar and a flute).

Harry was quite surprised to find he liked it - a lot.

Most of the time at Hogwarts, he was at purely Gryffindor parties, and they were pandemonium incarnate. Well, granted a lot of that was the Twins doing, but when you have everyone brave enough to think they're the Life of the Party, well, it's a recipe for noise so loud that nobody could sleep, even if they didn't want to party.

... which had been Harry, some of the time. He couldn't even skulk up to his room and try to sleep.

No, it had been craziness and zaniness, and a whole bunch of madcap plans and ideas.

In five years of twin induced madness, it was a wonder that nobody had capered down to the Slytherin dungeons and painted the snake Red and Gold (of course, they'd have to find the snake first, but employing time-tested Gryffindorian methods, they'd simply dye every animal they saw, until by process of elimination...).

Gryffindor parties made for fun stories, afterwards, along the level of "do you remember when Seamus stuck himself upside-down to the ceiling and started turning piroettes?" Everything always seemed hilarious, and tended to grow crazier in the telling. There was always some new elaboration... Hmm, Harry thought, I've never actually heard of one of these stories told about Hermione...

Harry himself leaned back against a tree, half lit by the firelight.

People were casual here, not manic like the Gryffindor parties, but also not... like the Yule Ball. Everyone had been Dressed Up there, and that had put undue pressure on everyone and everything. Particularly the boys, in some sense - they didn't much like the idea of Playing Dressup. Harry blinked, shifting himself into the position of, of all things Pansy Parkinson. He pictured her being upstaged and outstaged by Hermione Granger of all people - to the point where her own date (Malfoy) hadn't recognized Hermione Granger, his ... nemesis? Whatever you wanted to call it (Harry was certain that if he asked, he'd get a full list of three syllable words).

It had been stiff, and formal, and nobody had relaxed the entire night.

Lavender and Ron were making a spectacle of themselves - which would have been fine, Harry thought, if it didn't look like their public displays of affection were getting Pansy's nose seriously out of joint.

Harry was about to work himself into standing up (He was comfortable, for once!), when he remembered that there were solid reasons he shouldn't interfere. So thinking, he leaned back against the tree again.

[a/n: up next: The unsurprising surprise. Guesses welcome, reviews always appreciated!]