Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 160

By the time Harry Potter got to the Great Hall, nearly everyone was seated, including Professor Snape. Harry's eyes had immediately shot to the High Table as he entered, and he had to fight not to blaunch.* Snape looked nearly skeletal as he sat there, his parchment-colored skin stretched over bone as if he was just seconds from death.

What. The. Hell. Had. Happened? Harry thought, half upset, half bewildered, and a good deal terrified.

A good deal quieter than Harry normally was at breakfast-time, he approached the Gryffindor table, angling absentmindedly towards Hermione and Ron... His eyes remained on the High Table, taking in with some confusion the completely self-assured and not at all worried Albus Dumbledore. Most of the other teachers seemed to be going about their own business, but unless he was mistaken, he could have sworn he saw McGonagall shooting Snape some rather worried looks. Almost as if she doesn't know what's going on...

Harry hurriedly jerked his attention away from the High Table, seating himself with a jaunty laugh (oh, all right, he was a horrible actor, and his wry chuckle seemed like ash in his throat). Slyly, he glanced quickly at the Slytherin table, breathing out a sigh of relief when he saw that Malfoy wasn't looking directly at him. It took him a few seconds to think - he wouldn't be looking directly at me, would he? Not if he didn't want me to know he was staring...

Which, when you think about it, brought up all sorts of wonderful "then why was he..." questions, because for as often as Harry'd stared at Malfoy, the blond twit had been staring back. Across an entire room of people. Being rather obvious about it.

Harry jerked his mind away from that line of thought (better thought about later, if ever), and nodded at Hermione, who was saying (as usual), "You guys really need to study more."

"I'll meet you at the library after class." Harry said, somewhat unprompted.

Hermione smiled victory, and Ron moved on to complain about the sheer amount of homework they had due.

Harry wasn't listening to the well-worn argument. Instead, he was casting wary glances up at the High Table. Snape was picking at his food ... strange, he seemed to be eating less than a tenth of the food on his plate... Harry was suddenly, quite vividly, reminded of when he'd done the same. It had been after a full week of no food at the Dursleys. Oh, they'd given him water, and occasionally a juicebox, but nothing to eat. Unfortunately for them, starving makes uncontrolled magic more likely, not less. But, Harry thought, who could have been starving Snape? The usual candidate for "something has gone wrong in Harry's Life", Tom Riddle, wasn't a candidate. His punishments tended towards the backbreaking. Excrutiating pain, malevolent glee. Leaving someone to rot in a cupboard wasn't his style at all.

Harry rather belatedly realized that he didn't know Snape's eating habits at all. For all Harry knew, this was Snape's usual custom, picking at his food until it was time to leave. However, Harry Potter didn't think that Snape, of all people, would be so wasteful.

Snape seemed unconcerned by his appearance - but that wasn't unusual in the slightest.

Still, Harry Potter hoped that Malfoy wasn't carrying tales about this to his father. At this point, Snape didn't seem like he could adequately defend himself against a fly.

*The actual word is blanch, but it's pronounced differently, so I'm keeping the phonetic spelling.

[a/n: Harry has scented a Mystery! Good job, Harry!

Reviews are sought and welcomed.

Anyone got any guesses as to what Snape's been about?

Anyone betting that Harry's next action is to ask Dumbledore? Snape?

Second chapter of the day (though I hate to post it, last one was a great cliffie).]