Nobody ever asked my birthday

If only in my dreams

If you have not re-read the last two posts, you WILL want to.

That evening, before the sun was even properly below the horizon, Severus Snape heard a knock on his door. Was that Warrington, in trouble again? Or had Parkinson 'lost a nail' again? At least Goyle and Crabbe had finally stopped being bribed to come stand in Snape's office. It never kept the others out of trouble, so it had been a stupid thing to persist. At some point, Snape had wondered whether someone had found a kindly bone in their body, and was trying to give Goyle and Crabbe some pocket change.

No. Snape thought, looking at Potter at his door. Only Potter was blitheringly stupid enough to prance around the Slytherin Dungeons, without someone waiting for him. That was the point of detentions - Snape knew when someone was due, and if they were more than a few minutes late, Snape would find them. And tear them into pieces if they'd only been late because of inattention, but that was life. Was Potter shifting his feet? Nerves were not what a sane child would show to the Head of House Slytherin.

Snape caught back a sigh, and intoned simply, "In."

Potter entered, and before he could turn around, Snape sent a wordless command to the door, slamming it behind the boy. Who Jumped. Ah, what petty amusements...

Snape turned, and returned to his desk. He sat with care, soundlessly. Then he looked up at Potter, who was still fidgeting. Oh, how despicable - a child without the self-discipline not to fidget. Or the respect to not waste his time.

"Well?" Snape asked at last, his impatience curt in his voice.

"Happy Christmas," Harry Potter said, extending his hand. In it, was a tassled bookmark, with a hologram of a unicorn, of all things.

A Hologram?! Snape snatched the blasted thing from Potter's hand, barely glanced at it before tossing it on the desk. "It's a rare student that thinks to give me anything except misery. Should I tell you what I told Granger, her first year? No bribes will change your grade except to lower it." Snape's dark eyes studied Potter, "No, I suspect that's inappropriate. You've never cared half as much about your grades as she has."

Harry Potter looked at Snape, through inscrutable green eyes. Lily had never been that emotionless, not in all her life. The thought gave him a pang, probably in his liver.

Snape scoffed, "What, did you expect a thank you?"

Harry Potter responded, "No, sir. I didn't know what to expect."

Arching an eyebrow, Snape asked, "What sort of Slytherin would I be, if I didn't think a gift came with strings attached?" They always did, and were all the worse when the giver didn't realize what the strings were.

Harry Potter slitted his eyes, as if he was looking for the Snitch. "I wasn't intending there to be strings..." he said uncertainly.

Gryffindors don't think unless you make them. Snape asked, "Intentions matter far less than actions."

"Yes sir," Harry Potter growled out.

Better not to push. "What strings have you attached with this gift?" Snape inquired, his manner hawkish.

*Snape's joke is that Greeks thought feelings lay in someone's liver, not their heart. Yes, he's witty in his own head.

[a/n: Parkinson plays at being the girly girl. Everyone knows better than to bother Snape about petty girly things. Please leave a review!]