Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 77

Harry Potter had woken in a good mood, for once. No nightmares, and the day was brilliantly blue - that Scottish autumn weather when everything turned crisp and your body itched to stalk, to dance, to hunt.

Harry was down to breakfast quickly, eating as deftly as he could (which while better than Ron, still resulted in crumbs down his robes). Ron and Hermione joined him, with Gin and Neville sitting across. "Anything interesting happen over the weekend?" Neville asked, his knowing eyes flicking up at Potter's face.

Harry simply shrugged, saying "Oh, the usual." And, depressingly, it really was the usual. Conversation turned then to Quiddich, and whether Harry could play (and if not, if Gin could give Malfoy a run for his money - from the bared grin on her face, she seemed reasonably confident of the answer).

Up at the High Table, Snape was eating in his usual morose fashion (not an early bird, Harry had noticed his first year, and that had certainly not improved over the past few years).

The Ravenclaws were discussing something, passing parchment back and forth, heads bent over something.

Zach Smith was trying to command attention, but it didn't seem to be going well. It was almost as if he'd wanted to make a formal pronouncement about something, but the rest of the Hufflepuffs had decided that he was not to be paid attention to. Sort of like a Yellow and Black Percy Weasley.

And, for a change, before Harry had gotten around to staring at the Slytherins, it was time to head down to... Snape's new class. Yes, that sounded better than whatever Snape had decided to call it. Wartime Survival Lessons - well, that was at least pithy. If Harry didn't value his life more than his schooling, he might actually suggest something like that to the infamously prickly Slytherin.

Harry Potter wasn't the first person in the door for class (he never was that early), but he was earlier than most - even Hermione waited for Ron, so they were late showing up. The Slytherins, always early risers, trickled in at around the same time Potter did. Hesitantly, he stood behind them, listening avidly while trying not to look like he was eavesdropping. From the sidealong looks Flint kept shooting him, Potter was doing a miserable job.

Still, granting the idea that they knew they were being observed, it was pleasant - in a strange sort of fashion - to be ignored. To listen to people squabbling, thinking, petty powerplays and reinforcements, without feeling a compulsion to intervene. Harry Potter thought about that a bit - why, and when had it become his problem if the Gryffindors were fighting?

With a sigh, he shoved his hands in his pockets. He just plain didn't like it when people were upset at each other, and so he had a strong tendency to slam skulls until people remembered that they could smile at each other. Blinking, he remembered how Snape had been behaving at Grimmauld Place. With a strong shake of his head, he discarded that as a potential method. No way he was going to get everyone upset at him just to make them make peace with each other. No, that wouldn't fit at all. It'd just leave him miserable. Unlike Snape, Harry actually cared about having friends (and Harry found his mind wandering, again, to how Snape could have managed to have a friend in Gryffindor, particularly as it seemed that the bastard didn't particularly like friends in the first place).

Hermione and Ron showed up, muscling (as much as was needed, the Slytherins parted like water) over to him. "Hey, Harry!" Ron cried, tossing an arm over Harry's shoulder. With this much boisterous noise, the Slytherins (already divided) drifted off, and Harry felt a pang of sadness, as he shifted into... friendly mode. "Whatcha studying, Hermione?" he asked, leaning over her short shoulder to see. Dark and Bright in the Animal Kingdom the title read, and he saw that she was looking at werewolves, of all things.

"I just don't know what he's going to want us to know..." Hermione muttered.

"Well, you could just ask him what textbooks to read," Harry Potter said with a jaunty glimmer in his eye.

Hermione's bright gaze flicked up at him, "I'll do that. Thanks Harry." Before burying her nose back in her reading.

The class was nearly all assembled. Snape wasn't there yet, but that was normal. Harry's gaze swept the attending, finding the other Gryffindor girls looking inattentive, but the Hufflepuffs, in general, looking wary and cautious. There's a lesson there, Harry thought, but why is it from them? What have they seen about Snape that the rest of us haven't?*

*No, Snape has not been rescuing Hufflepuffs in his spare time.

[a/n: Yes, there's a reason Harry's thinking so much about Snape's Gryffindor friend. Give it time.

Will post another chapter later. Maybe two.]