Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 57

Harry Potter was uncharacteristically impatient. He wanted to fidget, wanted to be up, wanted to be out o' the room. He wondered if Minister Fudge had gone home, or back to the ministry. Ron was still eating, of course, and Hermione had her nose in a book. Luna was holding court (to no one, as usual), discussing Pibbitygibbets, and Harry pretended like he was listening. In reality, his ears were cocked to hear what the crowd was saying.

As was typical, the Slytherins were making fun of Fudge - Harry found himself thinking how he could have done better, and the Hufflepuffs were leaning towards a second year whose parents apparently worked at the Ministry. "Can you believe your parents work for him?" The Gryffindors were merrily ignoring the entire thing except for Creevy, who had deemed Snape's discourse, "cool." The Ravenclaws? Harry's gaze sharpened as he looked sidealong at them. They were busy discussing things on the merits, wondering and talking about the Minister, Severus Snape, and the odds of talking their parents into leaving the country.

This was the havoc that Severus Snape had wrecked. Harry blinked, thinking suddenly that Prof. Snape couldn't, wouldn't have done this on accident. He was far too skilled an operator for that. Ah, there were the Slytherins, boisterously poking fun at Minister Fudge's greed. Oi, was that one suggesting that Lucius Malfoy would make a better Minister? Now there was a disaster in the making, Harry Potter thought, although really, he couldn't see Mister Malfoy putting Umbridge in again. So, maybe only a different disaster, then.

By the end of the meal, half a dozen different rumors had traversed the hall, becoming half crazed indeed in the retelling. Snape was 7 feet tall, Minister Fudge a plump imp, chortling about the end of the world as if it was the second coming (to be fair, Minister Fudge had been chortling at some point, Harry was pretty sure). It was all completely implausible, and that was apparently how the gossips liked it. It seemed like only the Ravenclaws were thinking about what had been said... but even as he thought that, Harry could see, like flickers of light on the water, people's thoughts turning the conversation over in their heads. It was almost like if they didn't look on it straight, they didn't... have to confront - what, exactly?

Harry firmly set the thought to the side, as he saw Zach Smith stand up, chuffily patting his friends on the back. Harry rose too, not seeming to watch Zach so much as move towards the Great Hall Entranceway of his own volition. As he did so, he swore he saw Draco Malfoy's sharp eyes looking at him. He had the disturbing impression that Draco wasn't fooled in the slightest by his facade. Make of it what you will, Harry thought, and without looking, he heard Luna's light steps behind him, barely audible over the schoolyard din.

[a/n: Well? What has Severus done? Harry's got a fly to catch with vinegar. Wish him luck.

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