Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 12

Basking on the couch in feigned stupor, Harry's not-so-tired eyes slid half shut - noting as they did that the twins were whirling their way upstairs, the conversation as usual carried on half silently, in a code that the twins only knew - and used primarily for pranks.

What was Snape thinking? Harry had thought at first, watching him - and he swore that Snape had said something to Lupin using his long fingers before they had stepped through the floo. This had all the hallmarks of a trap - but who was the trap's jaws poised to spring closed around? Thoughts swirled in Harry's head, and he faintly thought he understood - he felt the pieces configure themselves to leave the smallest gaps. Snape wouldn't choose something that would cost him credibility. He wouldn't like to seem foolish... And therefore the play he was making was likely true as a Slytherin could make it. While a Slytherin could come up with thousands of plans, eventually he had to execute one.

Lifting his eyelids with careful slowness - Harry had had plenty of experience with being utterly exhausted, it was an easy act to pull off, he asked, "Anyone want to bet on the outcome?"

By the time the twins bounded down the stairs - hefting sacks jiggling suspiciously, though Harry thought that what was attached to their belts was likely to wreck more destruction, Harry called out laconically "I've got fifteen galleons riding on you! Don't let me down"

"Flattered we are" Gred said, "But you needn't worry" Forge continued, "We've got this one." And they both gave a broad wink, "in the bag!"

The wait was horrible - at least for most of the young people waiting at Grimmauld Place. Harry Potter was unconcerned, and looked like he was drifting off to sleep, remembering the discussion he had had with the Potions Master yesterday.

He had woken at dawn, and found the Potions Master leaning over him, as he rolled away, grabbing for his wand in a panic. "No training today, Potter." The grin on Snape's face was fearsome. "Or rather, it's a different sort of training I have in mind..." Snape's drawl was practically a purr, and Harry had to suppress a shiver of fear. Whatever happens, he's NOT going to kill me! I hope. Harry simply looked at him, letting the attentive silence answer Snape's unasked question with its own patient curiosity. "Today, we'll train your mind, not your body." Harry suppressed a sigh - he had gotten rather good at training his body. This was likely to be unpleasant, if not exactly painful.

"Have you any idea what I've trained you to be, these last two months?" Snape said, his body still looming over Harry even as Potter stood to loose attention - parade rest, the muggle world would have termed it.

"An Order Member?" Harry asked, choosing the safe answer rather than anything else - because he truly didn't have another answer.

"A safe answer, but wrong. You've been trained to be a hero" - no one but Snape could twist that word into a foul travesty of what any Gryffindor would have used it as - "-and a distraction. There's a reason for every spell I've taught you, you know." And Harry found that he really did know - finding the aggressiveness inherent in his training.

"You haven't trained me a bit to work as part of a team, sir."

"You surprise me, Potter. Showing signs of a brain?"

"You want me to fight like a tornado - spinning against everyone around me."

"Almost. Like wildfire - carving a path of destruction through your foes. Whatever you do, Potter, do not stop and fight. I haven't given you any tools for that - strike, and dodge and strike again - each time a new target."

"And when the targets vanish before my eyes?"

"Turn and carve a path anew. If you see someone who you can't help but stand and fight - turn aside. If you do that, you very well might live to talk about a battle or three."

"And if my shield falls?"

"You fall with it, of course. Disillusion yourself if you can on the ground, otherwise, play dead - and spot out your foes. A Patronus or five may turn the tide."

Harry had studied Snape then, the proud, smug man with a mind as twisted as a maze, and eyes as sharp as a knife.

"I don't have any choice, do i?"

"Any choice you have, you've already made, hero."

[a/n: I swear I meant to get to the fighting. Any bets on who bet against the twins?

Gotta lot more flashback to go! Did anyone think that this was what Snape was preparing Potter for?

Reminder: this Snape isn't soft in the slightest. He's aware that Potter was abused as a child, but didn't feel compelled to intervene.

Write a review, if you please - and if you don't please, write a guess!]