Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 76

Harry Potter looked around at all the students. He was glad to see that there didn't seem to be any first years here. That would be all they needed, he thought grimly. Turning to his friends, who were still agog at the sheer number of people, he said, "Come on, let's find Smith." As he turned and started to elbow his way through the throng, he noticed that Malfoy was doing the same - less from seeing Malfoy (who was short enough to be lost in the crowd), and more from seeing the crowd itself part. Slytherins on that side, Gryffindors on this one, Hufflepuffs (and a scattering of Ravenclaws) in the center.

Smith himself looked lost, as Harry approached. Harry suddenly realized, Smith didn't realize how many were coming... Shite, this is more than half the school... Some third year Gryffindors had snuck in, and Harry wanted to haul them out by their robes - suddenly, he remembered Snape screaming at him. Shite, he was not going to act like Snape. Never did Harry any good being yelled at, anyhow - not likely it would work on other Gryffindors.

Harry reached Smith, who was trying to get people's attention - completely futilely, as there were simply too many people, and even though they were trying to be quiet. Hermione and Ron were flanking him - Malfoy had snuck over, completely without his two goons (which wasn't surprising - there they were, slowly nudging Slytherins aside).

They had to act, and reinforce Smith, Harry thought urgently. But how?

With a flick of a wrist, he twisted off his glove, and tossed it on the ground. "Stage," he instructed and Hermione (who was only pretending), and Potter set to work, transfiguring a stage to give Smith more height.

"Megaphone," Harry said shortly, using his other glove. Malfoy, catching on, started to cast a silencing spell that Hermione didn't know - Harry could tell because her eyes sparked with interest. Ron kept busy keeping other people from intruding.

They were ready, Harry thought, as Smith stepped up to speak.

"I would like to extend the hand of friendship to anyone who stands here today. To old friends and new, I welcome you today. This is the start of a select club to teach ourselves defense. If you are not interested in learning, you may step out now. If you are, however, we need you to do two things. First, sign this paper, which will keep ourselves from breaking ranks and squealing to interested parties. And Second, elect the officers from your house. They will take turns training us, so choose wisely."

The paper started among the Gryffindors first, and by the time it was done, there were already a few officers standing and waiting for them. Harry Potter wasn't at all surprised to see Malfoy standing there - he was nearly tops in their grade, and he was known for being malevolent in Defense, when pressed. Goyle, however, was a surprise.

Connor and Boot stood for the Ravenclaws - what few there were. Harry'd almost have expected Chang - but, he noticed as he glanced through the Hufflepuffs, she wasn't even here. Neither was her friend Edgecombe.

Bones and Abbot for the Hufflepuffs, and wasn't that a surprise. Harry'd have expected Smith to take one of the roles for himself; Harry did need to give the pretentious bastard some credit - he'd be far better leading if he wasn't teaching.

Turning back towards the Gryffindors, he found Ron exhorting everyone, "Granger and Potter!" Slowly, started by Neville he thought, they took up the chant. Hermione looked at him, eyes wide, and Harry, gravely, bowed. "At your service." Then they turned towards the stage, hustling over to the other teachers.

"Aren't we going to-" Sue asked.

And Smith responded, "We'll have their names, we can get them those later..."

Draco Malfoy, smirking bold as the day is long, got out his golden galleon (former Edgecombe's), and started flipping it, "Heads." he said after a moment.

Hermione started to take over the conversation, trying baldly to hide her dislike of Malfoy, "What do you want to teach?" she addressed this at Goyle, not Malfoy, and Harry was thankful for that, as Malfoy's insouciant attitude might hide any number of responses.

"What I'm good at." Goyle said, looking her over, "You?"

"Charms, I think." Granger said with a gentle smile.

Goyle looked over at Malfoy, a jerk of his head indicating the blond twit, "He'll take Potions." And Harry had the feeling that since Goyle said it, it was bound to be true.

People were dispersing, after they'd signed the sheet, which had traveled through most of the Hufflepuffs, and was currently traversing the Slytherins. Pansy said cuttingly, "This seems a little obvious, doesn't it?"

Potter, looking up at her, said, "Gotta be obvious or us Gryffs won't get it."

The Slytherins paused for a moment, collectively, seeming to think over Potter making a joke about himself.

Tori Greengrass said, with a small smile, "Knew you weren't as arrogant as ol' Snape says." Which would have been fine, if she hadn't decided to hang herself off Harry Potter like some sort of limp foxpelt.

"Professor Snape," Hermione Granger corrected almost automatically, and Ron smiled at the automaticness.

Harry Potter picked up Tori as if she was five, holding her under her armpits, and sternly said, "Off."

"Potter, you really don't have a lick of manners at all, do you?" Malfoy said, in his usual drawl.

"Nope, fraid not." Harry Potter said affably. He held back the crack about being raised, not in a barn, but a broom cupboard. Even at his crankiest, he knew better than to give Malfoy ammunition.

By this point, everyone had left (even Tori gamboling after her sister), and the paper was down to them. They passed it around, until it got to Malfoy. He was the last person there, and he said gravely, "I'm not signing this. I'll come, but I'm not signing this."

"Why not? Everyone else signed!" Hermione Granger snapped out, hands on her hips in a danger sign that they all knew well.

"Exactly. I'm a Slytherin, you should already know I'm good for keeping this a secret." Malfoy drawled, seeming not to notice the crackles of magic coming out of Granger's hair.

"Malfoy!" Granger snapped, her voice crisp and exasperated all at once, "All the other Slytherins signed!"

"Which is why I don't need to." Malfoy said smoothly, with an unruffled drawl.

Well, Harry thought, this was probably what Snape was talking about, when he said let Draco do as he wanted. Still... there was nothing Harry liked better than giving Malfoy a hard time.

"You say you can keep a secret. We remember first year, when you went squealing to McGonagall lickety-split!" Potter said, his voice mocking.

"That was a Dragon!" Malfoy snapped back, all pretense of equanimity forgotten. "You were three first years!" Harry Potter idly caught the wounded puppydog look that Goyle was giving Malfoy, as if he'd never heard about any of this...

Ron cut in, bless his heart, "I don't trust you."

Hermione concurred, saying, "Neither do I."

Harry Potter eyes gleamed, and he said slowly, "Let Malfoy do as he pleases. I've got a few hexes I've been dying to try on someone... we'll know if you squeal." The last was said smugly.

Smith said grandly, "Then we have everyone. When's the next meeting time, and who's teaching?"

Potter said, more to say something than to win, "Seven o clock Monday Night, and Hermione's bound to have something interesting by then."

Draco Malfoy spoke up, in his soft drawl, "Eight, Monday night" His eyes gleamed a mocking challenge, as he looked towards Granger, "Can you teach the Patronus, witch?"

"Anytime," Hermione growled, seeming to have heard bitch instead of witch. They dispersed, leaving Harry wondering just what Draco Malfoy was planning. Why had he insisted that he not sign?

[a/n: Everything's got a purpose, some have several. Harry's teasing Malfoy because nobody would believe him otherwise.

Leave a review, this is the second chapter I put up today.]