Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 58

Harry lept through the halls, glad that Snape was still... wherever he had gone, as he had quite the temper about running in the halls (quite the temper about most things, really). He ducked down a few side passages, took a few shortcuts (getting dust all over his robes), and with a bit of grace, he was standing about fifty paces in front of where Zach Smith ought to materialize.

Any.

Time.

Now.

In the meantime, Harry took slow deep breaths, drawing on something that he had relearnt at Snape's elbow - to be able to fight, you needed to be able to breathe. Not that this was a formal duel, or anything.

There! Zach Smith was waltzing down the hall, talking to Justin about something silly that Hannah had done in Herbology. Remembering back to that blasted Pensieve memory, Harry Potter traipsed out of the side passage, trying to look every inch his father's son, with all the arrogance of breeding - and the bigger arrogance of the Boy Who Lived.

Harry knew he'd managed decent like, when he saw the flash of suppressed hatred in Zach's eye. "Smith, my good man, thank you so much for taking over for me! I wouldn't ask, but I've got so much to do - Quidditch is just heating up, it is! I'm sure you'll do just fine in my shoes, don't you dare worry a whit!" Without waiting for Zach to say a thing - he was redfaced infuriated, anyways, it would take him a while, sure as it often did Ron when Malfoy was on a mean streak, Harry Potter strode out, turning around a corner.

It was only at that moment, as Harry was congratulating himself, that he realized he had no bloody idea where Luna Lovegood was.

Around the corner, Luna's clear and icy voice rang out, with a trace of warmth in its usual vapidity, "He's right, you know."

Harry pictured Zach Smith wheeling to glare at Luna. It was easy to picture his reactions, they really were quite a lot like Ron's.

"If you don't want to be living in Potter's shadow..." Harry could almost hear Luna pursing her lips, "How about doing something bigger than what he's done?"

"Bigger than... what Potter managed last year?" Zach Smith, not terribly imaginative under the best of days, asked uncertainly.

"Sure! You know, he never did manage to get any Slytherins to join..." Luna trailed off uncertainly.

Zach Smith's assent sounded just like he'd just nodded, "No, he really never did."

"Hey-" Here Harry pictured Luna grabbing Zach's arm, "Wouldn't it just get Potter's goat if you invited Malfoy to join?" Zach Smith let out a low chuckle, and Luna continued, "You are in charge now, aren't you?"

Harry felt an icy chill at exactly how easy Luna had pulled the whole thing off. He had the funny suspicion that even if he'd managed to convince Hermione, that she'd have had a lot more trouble getting Zach to go along. Harry didn't want to think about it, but he could, and so did, see Hermione flirting it up with Smith, just to convince him that he'd win the girls' hearts by being braver than The Chosen One. Luna didn't need such manipulation. She just laid the points down, and Smith drank them like he was dying in the desert. As Harry trundled his way back to his common room, he found himself wondering if Draco Malfoy would have taken the same bait... Snape'd know, but did Harry dare ask Snape?

[a/n: Well? How do you think Harry's done? Luna is, as usual, wielding her vapidity like a weapon. Zach knows that she's friends with Potter, but isn't at all bothered by that, his pride overcoming any trace of concern about duplicity.

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