Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 48

Harry and Ron raced to the Great Hall, Ron's stomach growling on the way. It wasn't uncommon for them to do this - but today lent a particular urgency to Harry's steps. He wanted to race through dinner, and go outdoors. It wasn't a sure thing, but Neville often liked to talk with Sue when he worked at the Greenhouses. And Hannah liked long walks around the lake, so that would be another thing to observe (it was startling how much Harry didn't know about people, and how much he could pick up, simply by keeping an ear out.)

As Harry went outside, 'hoping to put a bit of work in' on his project for Sprout (he was taking Herbology, and half asking himself why - but it was important. Of course, they said that about potions, as well, and Harry'd had no luck finding any applications for that, ever. Maybe if he asked the twins they could expound at length on what made Potioneering a useful discipline).

From high above, dark eyes followed the movements of the children like ants below him. Professor Snape was, contrary to most people's expectations, enjoying the brisk wind on top of the Astronomy Tower, bracing his arms on the parapets, and leaning backwards, his eyes trained on the children. He could see Bones and Longbottom meeting up - and there was Potter, unexpectedly - he was nervous. Professor Snape smiled a cruel smile, enjoying the rare expression on the often arrogant boy. Well, that was what school was for, wasn't it? Trying new things, and learning new ways of thought.

Harry found himself skipping stones, all by his lonesome until, unexpectedly, a seventh year Ravenclaw joined him. Harry didn't say a word, but the companionship made him feel less lonely all the same. His green eyes watched as Neville and Susan parted, and Susan hurried over to Hannah, who gave her friend a hug. Harry wasn't sure what that was about, but carefully curbed his curiosity. Unlike what certain people said about him, he didn't have a yawning gaping need to know everything about everyone. Just the important stuff.

Harry's eyes were drawn, briefly, to the Slytherin team heading off the Quiddich pitch. He hoped that he'd at least see Hannah agree... but that was looking less likely, particularly with Malfoy at the head of the sweaty, smelly team. Still, Harry wasn't about to leave, to back away. That, too, would be a problem. He was a Gryffindor, and wasn't about to cower away from ten people who nearly certainly weren't about to bash his face in for no reason at all.

Harry threw another stone into the water, and Malfoy breezed past. Harry wrinkled his nose at the pungent aroma, evidence that Malfoy had been pushing himself hard. Better prepare for a doozy of a match, Harry thought, as he bent down to pick up another stone. Someone - probably either Goyle or Crabbe, they looked nearly identical except for the hair, the big lunks - pushed Harry, and he wound up tumbling into the water.

Harry had only moments to think, as he erupted out of the water. His hands (arms really) were cupped, and he wound up splashing both of the lads with a considerable quantity of water. Only after he was done did Harry fling his glasses back on, staring then at the blurry figures in front of him. He wasn't sure if they were offended, upset, or just trying to work out why he'd done it. In retrospect, it did seem like a silly thing to do.

"That water can't possibly be good for your hair." Malfoy drawled, looking impatient. "Lets find you both some soap, and you can scrub the mud out." Malfoy turned about, and led his team onward.

And that was the odd thing, Harry thought later. Malfoy hadn't given his normal smirk. Besides, what redblooded (or blueblooded, he idly supposed in Malfoy's case) boy turns down a splashfight?

[a/n: well, that happened. Apparently just having Harry watch other people do things was boring, so it got a bit more lively.

What is Draco up to, I wonder? Leave a review, folks!]