Nobody ever asked my birthday

A fine vintage

Snape strode into the Great Hall for morning's meal. McGonagall was there, and she twitched her lips at him, for a brief second. She didn't need to smile, just the briefest of acknowledgements.

Potter arrived shortly, looking the worse for wear after last night's... detention. Snape's vindictive mouth wanted to twitch at that thought. Potter set about eating, with the casual "nearly enough manners" attitude that Snape knew would have gotten him detentions in any other house. Ravenclaws were punctilious, Hufflepuffs would want to help, and Slytherins would not stand for someone disgracing their house. Gryffindor had larger problems than Potter's manners, anyhow. The Weasleys' manners were atrocious. Snape caught himself, and thought, Ronald Weasley's manners were atrocious. I am not Lucius, unable to distinguish the redheaded brood.

Speaking of Lucius, his son was doing an admirable, if undeniably futile, job of restraining his curiousity.

Neville Longbottom walked into the Great Hall, his spine straightening as he looked at the High Table. Looked, lo, at Severus Snape. His hatred is such a fine vintage, Snape thought wistfully, would that my conduct in Potions could inspire him to anything more than utter mediocrity.

Hermione Granger entered the Hall next, her eyes brimming with questions - and a fury hotter than Lily's had ever been. And Lily had had quite the temper.

Potter, what did you tell them, exactly? Snape wondered. It had been years since he'd had to worry about the Gryffindor Host... but a thin thread of doubt slithered up his legs to wrap around his liver.

Ron Weasley got a full step closer to Snape than the rest of them - one furious stomp.

"Ron," Hermione Granger said, bringing the redhead to heel.

Draco Malfoy watched that too, his eyes wide, flicking over to Snape, doubt and concern etched deep, and then masked with indifference that was entirely undone by his paying attention.

Throughout this, Potter hadn't behaved as if anything was the least bit strange, or wrong. Even though he'd somehow managed to sit beside Romilda Vane and a crowd of third year students had crowded around him.

Snape wanted to crane his head - such apathy for his surroundings normally meant that Potter was working on schoolwork that he'd forgotten. Perhaps, Snape thought maliciously, if it's for my class, I shall give him a pass.

The entire Gryffindor table was fulminating - except Potter, who seemed... hungry.

Minerva was shooting Snape increasingly irritated glances; so, Snape stood to leave.

She'd no sooner stood to follow, than Hermione Granger swottily asked, "Deputy Headmistress, if I might have a moment of your time?"

... it was a very good thing that Snape was not just a Potions Master, or his job might be at risk. Hermione Granger, prefect, was invoking a higher authority.

[a/n: Potter is being oblivious. Snape... not so much. He savors the hatred the Gryffindors are dishing up.

And, no, Hermione is not waiting for Potter to give his usual excuses. Though, in this case, she really should have waited.

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