Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 69

Harry Potter strode out of the DADA room, heading up to Gryffindor tower before dinner. He wanted a moment to catch his breath, to feel the wind on his face as he stared out at the Quiddich pitch. Sadly, it was not to be. When he got up there, Ron and Hermione descended upon him almost at once. "Harry, are you okay?" Ron asked, not as worried as he'd have been last year, but still looking pretty flustered.

"Harry, you didn't-" Hermione asked, her hand tugging at his robe sleeve. Harry took one look down at her still-green socks (she was too proud to tell anyone else about not being able to change them back... of course she'd undoubtedly told Ron, but that didn't mean a thing), and waved his wand to change them back. Silently. "Oh, thank you Harry!" Hermione said with a firm hug. Harry'd had trouble dealing with her hugs at first, but a good four and a half years of them had inured him to their strength and suddenness.

Harry let out a long-suffering sigh. Friends were great, and all that, but when he'd really just wanted to get away from everything. Still, they had cared, and so he forced himself to say, "I just had some things to say to our favorite Defense Teacher." Harry paused for a moment, and then said, "Or whatever he's calling it these days." At the end, his mouth quirked, as if he was enjoying a private joke.

"Blimey! Harry, you looked like you were right about to deck him." Ron said, still worried.

"Oh, I won't deny that there may have been loud voices used." Harry said with a sugar-slow grin. "Turns out that sometimes you have to yell to get things through thick skulls."

"Oh, Harry! Please tell me you didn't just..." Hermione said, trying to suppress a fit of girly giggles.

"Of course not," Harry said with a smirk.

"Wait, what?" Ron said, blinking.

"I meant my own thick skull, Ron." Harry said, knowing that his comment wouldn't help the perpetually slow boy.

"Oh, okay." Ron said.

"Still, we're glad to hear you're alright, aren't we Ron?" Hermione said, her last three words pointed completely at Ron Weasley.

"How many?" Ron asked, and Harry blinked. Shite. He was actually... normally... dammit, he wasn't going to say he had detention if he didn't.

"None." Harry shrugged, unconcerned. "Guess he forgot." Harry smirked, then raised his eyebrows, and everyone dissolved into a sea of laughter.

At the end, Hermione said primly, "Well, he's certainly given you enough unwarranted detentions, I guess he owes you one."

Harry shrugged, "Figure he'll just assign it in Potions. I'm always behind there, anyway. You'd think I'd have stopped after my owl, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment."

Finally, Harry was alone, as Hermione and Ron turned back to their usual preoccupations. He excused himself, and raced to the top of the tower, thinking hard on what Snape had assigned him over the summer - splitting his concentration in two - saying one thing and spelling another. It was yet another Slytherin trick - as wily as they come. There was a time that Harry'd have simply assumed that Snape had assigned the impossible, again. But not today.

Today, Harry's wand itched, and he tried thinking of spells that sounded similar. For five whole minutes, and then ten. Shaking his head, he decided this was a Hermione question, and went down to his room to lie on his bed. Tomorrow meant Charms and Transfiguration, and Harry wondered if he should practice them without using his wand. It would certainly be good practice, but it also might be ineffective, and Harry didn't want to seem like he was a goofus.

Everyone else piled into the room a half hour after curfew, and Harry was still awake, quiet, trying to think about whether anything would have changed, if Snape hadn't torn into him the first day of class, his first year at Hogwarts. Reluctantly, as if he was putting down a cherished toy, he had to acknowledge that it wouldn't have changed anything. He'd still have blamed Snape for the Stone (Snape's admittedly villainous air didn't help with that, but Harry'd had decent evidence... even if it had proved inconclusive). And if that was true, well, that meant that Harry might just as easily have started this grudge with Snape, just as Snape had his first year. It felt like something that was bound to happen, somehow. And, perplexingly enough, that made it easier to just let it go.

Now that Harry was observing carefully, he could see that Snape was trying hard to be a good teacher (at least in... Defense). Not that it seemed to prevent him from being harder on the Gryffindors. But maybe, Harry thought, that was just his own bias coming through. After all, Snape could do whatever he wanted to his Slytherins, he was their head of house, and Harry was dead certain that he'd never hear a whisper about it. And he had seen Snape punish Malfoy in class - presumably for inattention to classwork, not hexing another student without permission.

[a/n: I may just skip Thursday and move on to Potions Class on Friday. Otherwise, there'll need to be something about 'Dumbledore's Army' - which I think I'd rather save to the weekend, which is where the action is.]