Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 252

Snape snapped his fingers again, and there was a second picture, on the other side of him. This one looked cruder, with less finesse but no less hatred. This man had clearly been silenced, his face still there, but his scalp peeled clear off, the red shock of hair hanging by one thread of skin. He was silently screaming. Below, his lung whistled, punctured through by a stout stick. His heart hadn't been touched, but there were lines of silver thread wrapping around the aorta. His guts hadn't been touched, but his arms and legs had been mutilated - bones removed, somehow, leaving the entire arms and legs flopping back and forth as he struggled.

Harry was bent over before he'd really thought about it, the acrid burn of vomit rising though he'd long since finished evacuating breakfast. Now it was just acid. One thought ran through his head, something Malfoy had said ages past, "You can tell by his red hair that he's a Weasley."

Severus Snape, Potions Professor, was a bloody robot, Harry thought, glaring up at him as he stared the room down. Oddly enough, it was the Hufflepuffs glaring at him.

Snape wasn't one to tolerate insolence. He leapt off the dais, landing soundlessly, as he stalked closer to the glaring Hufflepuffs - Bones and Abbot foremost among them. His mouth quirked into a satisfied smirk, "The door's that way. Anyone who leaves today will get a zero on your assignment." Snape had reached the Hufflepuffs while talking, and proceeded to lean over them, his head bending on his neck to seek out each Hufflepuff's eyes in turn. "But if I were you, I'd keep walking. Take a zero for the year." Snape's mouth curled into something more than a smirk and less than a smile - a cat's look of disdain, perhaps. "Walk over the ocean, and just keep going. I can't tell you how far to go, but if you decide to leave, I suggest you stay moving."

For once, Harry badly wanted to see Snape's eyes - he thought Snape was being truthful, but with how collected the man was, it was often hard to tell. Harry thought Snape'd have the mocking glint of truth in his eyes, and not the sardonic laughter of someone who knows that the more he talks, the less the people in front of him will do as he says.

Snape turned around, raising his voice to a common talking range (easily heard in the dead silence, as most people averted their gaze from the photographs). "I call this A Portrait of Two Enemies. You may thank your Ministry's Auror Department for clearing this evidence from their stockpile, so that I might use it here today." Snape cast a glance across the children in front of him, the way a fisherman casts a line. "I wonder, does anyone recognize these fools?"

Goldstein, from near the back, fairly shrieked, "How could you tell who they were! The one guy's not got his face on, right?" The childish objection sent a ripple of nervous laughter through the crowd.

After that, it was plain that no one was going to have the bullocks to answer the question, so Snape continued, "This occurred in the last Wizarding War. Otherwise, it would have made the papers for months, and no one would have 'forgotten' about it." Snape strode towards his dais, still talking, "This is the legacy of one Fabian Prewitt, felled in an ordinary battle, by an ordinary Avada Kedavra." At this point, Harry could feel people around him shifting uneasily.

"His brother," Snape said, nodding towards the spotted man. "Gideon Prewitt, who loved him well, took exceptional offense that his brother had been killed - so easily," Snape's voice was mocking, short stacatto tones, "And by a Malfoy no less."

"He bided his time, through battles and the tide of the war turning this way and that. But when the Dark Lord's forces were at an ebb, and his great shadow lifted to penumbral darkness, he struck." Snape looked up, not at anyone in particular, his gaze seeming to pin something that no one else could see against the far wall. "Bold, brave Gryffindor, striking the Evil Jean Malfoy, asleep in his bed." Snape's eyes did gleam, then, with a darkling humor.

"The aurors found him days later. Still alive, still screaming." Snape said.

"My father had three brothers. All dead in the War." Draco Malfoy said, simply. Harry found it odd how lifeless Malfoy sounded, as if all his color had bled away in a massive downpour.

"Your eldest uncle felt responsible, I'm sure, for the crack in the wards that let Prewitt through. He fell like a scythe on Ottery St. Catchpole, a place heretofore untouched by the war."

Harry could hear Ron Weasley breathing, it was so loud. It was also through his nose, as Ron ground out, "That's why our house is called The Burrow. It's halfways underground so that it's easier to conceal. The only safehouse that survived."

Harry caught the widening of Malfoy's eyes, the sudden spark of interest.

"Marc Malfoy didn't come for anyone but Gideon - everyone else died a quick, merciful death." Snape said, his voice hypnotic, like a low melody. "But you can see how Gideon died, screaming for anyone to help him, but denied even the slightest mercy."

Snape's eyes seemed to lash out, as he said, "An enemy is intent on making you scream your ruddy way down to Hel's own lair, and doesn't care if he damns himself to do it. In war, plenty of people will be after your head. An enemy is after your soul." Snape looked around, "But by making an enemy, you've probably already damned it yourself."

Harry had been so busy following Snape, that he hadn't noticed both Malfoy and Ron getting a space drawn around themselves, as nervous people sidled out of the way. If this was what happened when you made an enemy of their family... Well, maybe it was just best not to risk it.

[a/n: Neither Ron nor Draco had actually been made aware of the full story. Just listened a bit to their parents talking ill of the other family, and picked up on what to think.

Snape doesn't peel bandages off slowly, he rips them off.

Leave a review? What's Snape's goal with this?]