Nobody ever asked my birthday

Worse than books

Harry Potter had, of late, discovered that being taught Decorum by Draco Malfoy was worse than learning it from books. It had started off promising, at least.

"Let me see those books," Draco Malfoy had demanded. Harry Potter had relinquished them hurriedly - it wasn't like more than one word in twenty was actually sticking in his brain. "Worthless," Draco said to the first one, pitching it over his shoulder. "Ridiculous." He said to the next one, and on down the line, "Exactly how old is this one?"

"Hermione said it dated back to the founding of Hogwarts." Harry Potter chimed in helpfully, wearing a small smile on his face.

Draco Malfoy crossed his arms, "If you did manage to remember a tenth of this material, which I doubt your pea-sized brain has the capacity for..."

Harry nodded, certain that it would take him the entire summer to learn all this.

"You'd come off like a bloody jumped-up ponce!" Draco Malfoy said. Considering, he rubbed his chin, "Which, I suppose, is why I'm here. The Mudblood can manage "prim and proper"... but that's a style that's never suited you."

Harry had to leash his temper, had to. He was supposed to be learning - and Malfoy was hurt, no matter how he was pretending he wasn't. But that word... Harry closed his eyes, and took several deep breaths. It was only remembering Malfoy's response to Snape using it, that truly laid his temper low. Well, that and the guilt that threatened to swamp his little ship of fate entirely.*

Draco's eyes hadn't left Harry, as Harry had struggled, so he opened his green eyes to find those solid-grey eyes staring up at him. Slowly, Draco Malfoy nodded, "That'll do, as a first lesson. Slytherins by nature look for weakness, and a prime weakness for you is your temper. You've had a hundred detentions because you couldn't keep your wand in your pocket... and do you know why that is?"

"Because I care when you hurt my friends?" Harry Potter ground out.

"In legal situations, moving from words to deeds is an escalation. You could have looked for a weakness of mine, instead. With words, not wands." Draco Malfoy looked sternly at Harry (quite a trick, when he was sitting down and Harry was standing up). "They will be coming for you."

"They?" Harry asked, confused.

"Your enemies." Draco Malfoy said, "You have a decent reputation as a Man of Magic, which means that they'll shy away from attacking you with straight power."

"So?" Harry asked.

"You must master your temper, turn it into a strength not a weakness." Draco Malfoy said. "If, that is, you want to survive." Draco suddenly looked more like a Malfoy - mean and cruel.

Draco continued, "You haven't the patience to learn an entire library in a few weeks, so you'd be better served by learning solid, workmanlike defenses against the esoteric."

"The eso-what?" Harry asked, more concerned that Draco was using words that he didn't understand, than about the actual meaning.

"Eso-teric" Draco nearly spelled out, "Unusual, rare - even Dark."

*Have you not read Invictus? Harry hasn't either, but remembers lines from it because it's quoted incessantly.

[a/n: Draco was -supposed- to teach Harry decorum. This is what we're getting.

Reviews? Did you really want a decorum lesson?

Are we actually surprised that Snape-of-all-people gave inappropriate advice?]