Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 83

The entire Great Hall was in an uproar over lunch, with Malfoy and the twats parading around, looking down their noses at everyone.

Which, Harry supposed, was nearly normal, by now. Malfoy'd been doing it last year too.

That didn't halt Harry's train of thought, of course. How - were- What was going on? Were Malfoy and Snape in cahoots? If so, what the blasted hell was their game? What exactly were they playing at?

Harry refused to think that Malfoy was just trying to get three quarters of the upperclassmen in trouble. Even for a guy who liked to dream big, that was getting a trifle ridiculous (more on the lines of Fred and George, whose maycap mayhem was impish instead of the deviltry that Malfoy liked to wreck).

Malfoy, of course, was looking pompous and grandiose. Snape was merely looking smug, as he ate a light salad for lunch. Snape's Ravenclaws were looking stuffy and officious, as if they'd just been promoted to The Latest Coming of Percy Weasley.

The Gryffindors were looking mutinous, though their grumbles really weren't to the point of anyone actually harrassing Malfoy, let alone throwing a punch. Still, Harry thought, it was with a bit of relief that he saw Malfoy exit the Great Hall. Malfoy was the type of irritation that couldn't stop being irritating. LIke a burr, under a horse's saddle or stuck in your fingertips, it was all ridiculous.

Classtime was boring, as usual. Harry knew he wasn't naturally studious (though he seemed better at picking things up by blind luck than Ron, who seemed perpetually on the edge of failing most subjects), but this was a bit different. His mind swirled with different thoughts, going over patterns and questioning ... well, everything. Any way you wanted to cut it, he was in the middle of a Slytherin scheme. Worse, he wasn't quite sure whether he was ensnared in it or not. And... even if he was caught, was that a good thing? Harry'd spent all of last year trying to do something, after all - here, at least, he was in the middle of something. Productive? Unproductive? At least he was moving. Probably not in circles, either.

It was late in the day, and Harry'd had to use the Marauder's Map to even figure out where Malfoy was. He was up on the seventh floor - somewhere near the room of requirement. Maybe he was trying to figure out how it worked? At any rate, it was certainly a more convenient place for Harry's upcoming interrogation than the library. Or a random broomcloset. That might prove awkward if they were seen... Harry'd had enough of first years going all goggle-eyed at him - when he was a first year himself!

Slipping on his invisibility cloak, Harry considered what to do as he walked. Finally, he nodded to himself. It was a solid plan. Up by the room of requirement, he paced three times, asking wordlessly for what he wanted. He then opened the door into a moonlessly dark expanse, stepping to the side effortlessly and nearly silently.

Malfoy, who had also been walking around, stopped and looked at the newly found open door. He peered in, cautious to a fault, and Harry held his breath. Finally, Malfoy mustered the courage to step inside. Two steps into the inky blackness, and Harry tipped his fingers out, grabbing the door and shutting it. He knew without thinking that the door had locked behind him.

Harry blinked, for a moment, confused as to why Malfoy wasn't saying a word - then abruptly realized that Malfoy was looking for his wand, and didn't want to draw trouble before he had it ready.

Harry tried for a deep voice, "Welcome to the Chamber of Horrors." as he flicked on a light switch.

Draco Malfoy appeared, looking hunched and hunted, whirling nearly instantly as Potter started to speak (mostly spoiling the effect of the room, to boot). And there was a look on Malfoy's face that Potter hadn't expected to see - it was pure relief. Momentarily, Potter tried to make himself not feel guilty for what was coming next.

[a/n: Is everyone liking Harry's perspective on this? I'm almost done with the "oh, god I need to set up Everything!" bit. Might taper off in writing about this until later. Push hard on something else.

Still annoyed with the reviewer who thinks Harry trusts Snape (and, worse yet, is depending on him). Putting a bit more explication here on why Harry's, well, doing anything that Snape asks. Harry's always shared that propensity to be a bit stir crazy... so, having Stuff To Do given to him by a Serious Adult (*cough* not Sirius)... well, it's at least doing something.]