Nobody ever asked my birthday

A little risk

Snape smirked, deep in the annals of his mind. It was both kind, and self-interested, of the Malfoy boy to worry about his dear Housemaster. Snape wouldn't have had it any other way, of course. He hastened, quicker now that he needn't slow down for a gangly teenager - he'd had years to learn how to use his height most effectively. His pace was, accordingly, groundeating. He ducked out a very simple passage in the dungeons - it led, not to Hogwarts' grounds, but out into the Forbidden Forest.

And it had only taken a spot of bribery to forge it. The trick was knowing what a sentient castle would want.

Outside the wards, Snape took a deep breath, his manner no longer as smug as it had been with the boy around. His mouth curled into some strange semblance of a soft smile, now that there was no one around to see. What was life without a little risk?

Harry had strode back to the Gryffindor common room (and the shower) after Practice. He was still feeling warm, even this late into the night. Everyone in the dorm was asleep, except Neville, who hadn't shown up yet.

Ah! there he was! Harry thought with satisfaction.

"Hey, Neville?" Harry asked.

Neville, predictably, jumped - and fell into his own bed, which was a stroke of luck. If he'd fallen hard on the floor, the other boys might have woken, after all. "Sky and stars, Harry, you startled me!"

"Sorry," Harry said, ducking his head. Then, quietly, he lifted it, "How long has Snape been giving you detentions?"

Neville flushed, in the dimly lit bedroom, and then looked up, meeting Harry's eyes boldly, "How many times have I blown up a cauldron?"

"Why didn't you mention it?" Harry said, It would have been nice to have some company for the griping. There was only so much sympathy a man could take.

"Well, Professor Sprout proctors mine." Neville said, "And all I do is read the book again. And again, and again."

Harry nodded, "Hermione would just say that you should have done that before class, wouldn't she?"

Neville nodded, "And it wasn't like I lied to you! After detention, Professor Sprout is always doing something interesting, and she doesn't mind an extra pair of hands."

Harry nodded, "That's probably how Snape convinced Sprout to take your detentions."

Neville chuckled, "That scheming bastard..."

"Are you really surprised?"

"I suppose not."

Which just left the question of Ginny.

Draco Malfoy had a dream that night, of dark blue and pure black tendrils intertwining, wrapping around something that he couldn't quite make out. He could, however, see that they were contending for that thing. And, he wasn't sure who he wanted to win.

He woke in the middle of the night, sitting up straight to meditate - only to come to the disquieting conclusion that he'd been dreaming about his father and godfather. It was certain that they pretended to be foes, despite being 'old friends.' However, Draco had to wonder why he would be upset with either of them winning... They both liked him, well enough, didn't they? And even if not, Draco himself was the heir of a Noble House, so...

So why had he cared so?'

[a/n: Up next, "He looks pretty spry, considering..."

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