Nobody ever asked my birthday

Assistant Headmistress McGonagall

"After you, Mister Potter," the diminuitive, stern visage of Prof. McGonagall said.

Harry stepped in the door, and all conversation stopped - except for Hermione and Ron, running at him with the speed of a bullet train. "Um, guys..." Harry said, scratching the back of his neck as he tried to gesture for them to slow down.

They didn't listen, so Professor McGonagall wound up beneath three near-grown Gryffindors.

To her credit, she didn't squawk, or yowl.

"Children!" she shouted, and we rolled off her.

"Stand up," She said as she rose to her feet. The room stood with her, wary and attentive at once.

"As some of you may have surmised, Professor Snape was remiss in his duties last night, during a detention. As such, our beloved Headmaster has taken him to task, not just for his inattentiveness, but also for his treatment of my House. You may, perhaps, notice a difference in his normal bias."

Around her, Gryffindors were giving each other uneasy looks.

"If you do see such, I would strongly urge you to not comment on it. Leave any discussion of this to within Gryffindor chambers. And do not abuse Severus Snape's patience, he has so little of it already." The last bit was said with such a kindly air, it felt like Sprout was there, and not their strict Transfiguration teacher.

"Are we clear?" Professor McGonagall said.

"Yes, ma'am." Hermione Granger responded, her eyes flinty.

Harry swallowed, as Professor McGonagall left.

"Harry!" Hermione said, swinging her arms around him again. The looks on everyone behind Hermione said that they wanted an answer, too. "Why didn't you tell us about this?"

Harry shrugged, "I knew what I did wrong."

Ron said, "Betcha Snape sabotaged what you were working on."

Hermione eyed Harry, "What were you working on?"

Harry shrugged, "Antidote. Snape wanted to see if mine would be more potent if I hissed at it."

Hermione asked, excitedly, "Did it work?"

"It exploded." Harry said, hurriedly finishing, "But not because of that."

"Why wouldn't you tell us?" Hermione asked - she was easily diverted, but like a waterfall, always kept falling.

Harry shrugged, "It wasn't very important, alright? I got splashed, and my clothes disappeared, and I was banished along home."

Hermione said, sternly, "Snape shouldn't have been giving you such hard potions to make."

Harry shook his head, "Malfoy's undoubtedly working on something much harder. He's the one with the Apprenticeship." Harry scratched the back of his head. "Besides, wouldn't it be awesome to take my hissing and actually do something good with it?"

Harry hated having to lie to his friends. It was a delicate balancing act, making sure that Hermione thought he had a Valid Reason, and convincing Ron that Snape was not The Devil Incarnate. He hated... more than the lying, that it came so easy to him.

His friends thought they knew him, and knew him well.

They also thought he couldn't lie.

... that wasn't true, of course.

Harry just hated to lie, so most of the time, it was pretty obvious when he was doing it.

He could do it, though. He could, and would, if there was a reason.

And Harry definitely didn't want to explain to Hermione about prying into Snape's business.

Which is what would come out if he tried to explain an inch about this. Hermione never stopped until she got the full story.

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