Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 86

It took his friends a while to stalk up to corner him in his dorm. Harry thought this was probably a combination of Ron's essential laziness and Hermione's nearly inhuman curiosity, and not merely a reaction to seeing Harry's temper. At least, he hoped they weren't hiding downstairs, "letting him cool off." He did not want to be in the least like his Uncle Vernon, and even Aunt Petunia had stepped lightly when he was in a temper.

Ron came upstairs, sitting on his own bed (Harry was in his own, having picked up a book at the sound of Ron - he'd actually been working on spelling without wand or word), and saying, "Well, mate... if you're going to study, why not do it in the Library?" Ron smiled that goofy grin of his, and Harry mentally nodded - that wasn't the look of someone at all afraid of him.

"Yeah, that sounds about right. Anymore studying in bed and I'll just nod off to sleep." Harry said with a smile, gathering a few books, "Charms tommorrow, I suppose." Ron nodded, and before Harry had the time to think of it, they were out and down at the library itself.

They ambled in, trying to do their best to not look like they had secret information. They had a lot of practice at this guise, after all. Ever since first year, they had nearly always known something that everyone else didn't. So they continued through the library, trying to ignore the studied distraction of the Ravenclaws - who were so defiantly NotLooking at the Gryffindors that it screamed totally eavesdropping.

Harry Potter sat at a back table with a sigh, enjoying being out of sight of most of the other students, even if that made it potentially easier for them to eavesdrop. He hadn't seen a Slytherin in the library, so he assumed they were having some sort of meeting.

"So, what's going on?" Hermione asked, her chocolate eyes bubbling with curiosity. No wonder she was so good at potions.

"Well, I'm still not really sure..." Harry began, knitting his hands in his lap.

"Why'd you stop me from smashing a good one in that git's smug, smarmy face?" Ron asked, his voice brimming with anger.

"It wouldn't have done you any good, you know," Harry said with a sigh, "Snape was watching, and we'd all have lost points."

Ron grinned, "Sure, but I'd have felt better."

"That's not the point, Ron -" Harry said, feeling obscurely like Hermione, "The question is why he hasn't turned us in already..."

Hermione bounced in her seat - "That's actually a good point! We know Snape and Malfoy are thicker than thieves, so why hasn't he gotten you in trouble yet?"

Harry sighed, "Well, for one thing, Malfoy wasn't asked by me to join, you know... and Smith has been running the day-to-day..." Harry started, before looking at the truly worshipful faces his friends were turning towards him.

"Yeah but you -" Hermione said, as Ron said simultaneously, "He can't really think..."

Harry shrugged, saying, "Honestly, I'm not sure I care. He's keeping the study group a secret."

"How can you not care?" Hermione nearly hissed, her "it's a library" manners keeping the sound from being a shriek. "he could turn us in at literally any time!"

"Well, yeah, he could, but then he'd have to answer how he found out..." Harry Potter said with a cruel smile. "And there's plenty of people who'll tell Snape that Draco was at the original meeting."

"But- but- they can't tell! That's in the contract!" Hermione said, just a bit aghast at the thought of someone breaking their word.

"Only if they signed," Harry said with a bit of a smile, "And we make sure that the littlest didn't get a chance, now didn't we?"

"Damn straight," Ron said, unaware of how much he sounded like a gunslinger, "They'd just get themselves hurt."

"I don't trust Malfoy farther than I can throw him," Harry said.

Hermione interrupted, "Which isn't that far, he's still bigger than you." Ron snorted a laugh, and Harry colored red.

"Whatever's really going on," Harry said softly, "I don't understand it yet. And I don't want to touch it until I figure it out."

"Because you don't want to break it?" Hermione asked, just as softly.

"Because, when I break it, I want to break it right." Harry Potter said, finding Malfoy's words walking straight out of his own mouth. Still, they were true enough, in this time and place. He was still bewildered about what exactly was going on.

Tommorrow. Answers.

[a/n: The golden trio does have to have some time to talk to one another. Harry's not been deliberately leaving them out - much.

Apologies if you're getting impatient, I'm setting up for a few different plays here.

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