Skidding back to Gryffindor Tower, Harry Potter was still riding the high of knowing more than Draco Malfoy did. Oh, for sure, not that the git was all knowing, but he liked to pretend he was - and Harry'd fallen for it, to the sinker really, in second year.
So, it was more than just I know more than you do. It felt a lot like triumph, actually. Harry spoke the password to the Fat Lady, and the Gryffindor Common Room sprawled out in front of him. He was in before he realized -
Realized what looks people were giving him. He stopped dead, blinking behind his glasses. Those were glares, hostile and prickly. People didn't seem to want to say anything to him, not really - just as soon as he caught someone looking, they'd go back to whispering. And it was all whispers, all of a sudden. As if they'd just been waiting on him coming in to gossip.
"Harry!" Hermione said in a sternly loud voice, "Where've you been?" Did Hermione always ask questions like that? Harry thought, wondering suddenly if this was a neatly unplanned punishment for ignoring his friends earlier. If so, he undoubtedly deserved it.
"Yeah, Mate, we thought you might've been kidnapped." Ron Weasley responded, looking a lot more languid about Harry's 'suspicious disappearance' than Hermione ever would. Maybe that was just because Ron figured Harry could outfight most anyone he knew.
"Nah," Harry said, plonking himself down between them. "Bit 'o the other way around." He said softly, in a your ears only tone.
"What?" Ron yelped, and Hermione started to make shushing motions.
"Fill you in later. Where there's fewer..." Harry gestured around him.
Hermione put her hands on her hips, saying sternly, "Don't you trust Gryffindors anymore?"
"As much as I ever trusted Peter Pettigrew," Harry said, his grin turning acidic.
"Later, in the library." Ron said quickly. Harry made to relax with his friends, Hermione with her book and Ron idly twirling a knight as he stared at the chess piece. After a full day spent scrambling to pick up the pieces of what he'd thought he understood - at least a little - and discovering himself still so far from the ring that he couldn't even jump for it? Best time to just relax into some brain-numbing discussion of Quiddich tactics that he'd had memorized since second year. He was pretty good at learning things, if he cared enough, after all. Sadly, it was not to be.
Lavender sashayed over, in that 'she thinks this is hypnotic' swaying of her hips strut. "Where Have you been, Harry?" Lavender asked, her tone more pointed and uncaring than the others. "Have you been... consorting with snakes?" The mocking smile on her face told Harry a lot about her, suddenly. And it raised questions that he'd rather not find the answers to, thanks kindly.
"N...ope," Harry said to her, leaning back against the couch to take comfort from his friends. "My hair always looks like this, honestly." Behind him, he could hear Gin Weasley giggling at the bald truthfulness of the statement.
Lavender sashayed closer, pointing her finger into his chest, "Then why is it that I heard that you asked for Malfoy to join Dumbledore's Army?"
"Oh, that's an easy one," Harry Potter said lightly, "You're hard of hearing, that's all. Haven't I seen you drooling over Ron's Quiddich pictures, despite the fact that he hasn't looked at you once, in five long years of Hogwarts?" Shit, what was he saying? Striking up a catfight with Lavender Brown wasn't a good idea... and bringing up her crush on Ron was a low blow, even for a catfight.
Oh, yes, and of course, Harry's words had just neatly proved Harry wrong, as Ron Weasley was now - five years late - ogling the brunette with her hands on her hips. Which just made Hermione go stiff with suppressed fury.
Shite, Harry thought, I've really screwed the pooch today, haven't i?
"You and Malfoy seem awfully close, don't you?" Lavender Brown said, "Two little pricks who can't tell how to treat a lady."
Harry shifted, pretending indignation, "Hey! Just because I grew up in a barn, doesn't mean I don't know how to treat a lady right." Harry turned a quick smile on Lavender, "Suppose I'll just need to find a proper lady first, right?"
Lavender's face transformed from growing anger into sudden realization, a transfiguration that made Harry's heart sink in dread. "You're in love with Pugface! You are!" Lavender clapped her hands, and Harry balled his fists. He was not going to respond. He was not going to say a word. Talking, when a girl looked like that - so far in love with her idea that nothing could change it.
And then Harry caught the best idea he'd had all day. He stood up, quietly, and walked towards Lavender Brown, his killing-curse green eyes intent on only her - as if the whole gossiping room had been sent to Gehenna, leaving only the two of them standing. "Don't say a word." He whispered to Lavender, before climbing the stairs to his dorm.
Below, he could hear Lavender laughing along with Parvati - probably gossiping about me, Harry thought.
[a/n: Well, there goes any hint of normalcy. Apparently Lavender wanted to be a real character, and I really couldn't turn her down.
Harry's temper isn't the best, we've established that.