Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 263

Snape watches, as Harry Potter stares into nowhere - not, as before, because he wasn't aware of his surroundings, but because he's remembering.

"I was... upset. No, no that's not it. More than upset." Harry's green eyes look up at Snape, who holds himself in a controlled parade rest - by sheer force of will retaining the pretense that enables Potter to report, rather than think. Snape wants to crouch down, meet Potter's eyes dead on, and see.

"I was... everything, all of it, all at once. All the feels, cascading through me." Harry said, his voice sounding leaden. Snape's eyes tried to find, in Harry's face, what had caused it. Almost unnaturally, his face is still, only his mouth moving - as if his whole face had been dipped in wax.

"The Dark Lord described it as a deluge." Snape said dryly, sounding unimpressed.

"It ... was a lot, hot cold, bright and dark." Harry shook his head, "I could have handled it if I was just angry." Snape heard the ring of truth in that statement. What had caused this major malfunction? Snape thought with irritation. Of Course, The Dark Lord wants to know. Hell, if Albus heard a whiff of this, he'd want to know too. And that would be all Snape needed at this point, faked sorrow and understanding at how he couldn't possibly be expected to pry something out of gritted Gryffindor teeth.

"The Dark Lord only put up minimal shielding," Snape sneered in sympathy, "I wouldn't want to be bothered by adolescent angst, either." Of course, that is my other job, hated as it is. Snape thought grimly.

Harry looked at him, and seemed to shrink, somehow, pulling back inside himself.

Cursing at himself, Snape cracked, "Go on."

"I... I felt him, trying to worm his way into my mind." Harry said, his voice carrying an undercurrent of a very un-Gryffindor fear. Not that I'd feel much better, Snape thought wryly, If the dark lord was invading my undefended mind.

"And?" Snape said, demanding with the question, letting Potter choose what he told.

"I..." Harry sits there blinking, vaguely staring into the distance, "I was curious. I wanted to know..." Snape was once again left pondering how in blazes this child had managed to convince the Sorting Hat that he would be a good fit for Gryffindor. "Charge Ahead" Gryffindor - Snape's mental image was of Sirius Black, unreasonable and doggedly determined, "Blow it to Pieces, and then Ask Questions" - Alastor Moody for that one, though really half the Auror Corps fit the mold, after he'd trained them.

Harry hung his head, "I don't think I got much out of it, really..."

"What happened?" Snape asked, rapidly discarding any concept of interfering with Potter's line of thought.

"I... wasn't interested in my memories... I was interested in him..." Harry said, almost stuttering. "My mind chose the landscape - unconsciously, you know." Yes, I do know, that's a novice mistake...

Harry swallowed a gulp. "It was a big, open grassy field - my memories were in the grass, I remember that part - they weren't important, though."

"I had all my attention focused on him, and- I was a dog, sir. A big, black, curly-haired dog." Oh, the gods are laughing now. Snape bit back his sarcastic wit, and waited.

"He was... he was a ball." Harry said, his voice cracking into small hoots of laughter as he spoke - the edges of hysteria starting to creep back in. "I was playing chase with it." Harry looked up at Snape, his glass green eyes wide, "I don't think he liked it, much."

Lord Voldemort has always liked being in control, so, no, I don't think he liked it very much. Snape bit back any words.

"I threw him in a circle of stones, so the grass wouldn't burn." Harry said, "And then I coughed up some fire, and he left in a puff of smoke." Oh, how appropriate. And they tell me this boy is a wizard.

"Then what happened?" Snape rapped out.

"I came back to myself," Harry said, "Was me again, not just the part of me that wanted... that."

Harry looked up at Snape, who's surprised to not see a shred of distrust, "You know occulumency. You'd be able to tell me what I just did. And... I ought to report interactions with the Dark Lord, sir. That hasn't changed."

Snape gave a nod of acknowledgement, trying to work out for himself why Potter had been near comatose when he'd arrived.

"You weren't there, sir." Harry Potter said, "And then it hit me - I'd had the Dark Lord in my mind." Harry started rocking again, and Snape was about to grab his chin and force him to make eye contact, when Harry Potter asked, "What do I do? Sir, what do I do now?"

[a/n: Harry tried to do what he was supposed to. It was thinking that got him into that state, and he'd been given enough time to wall out everything, in order to just think on the ramifications.

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Next chapter: Snape would really like to know what adolescent hiccup caused this.]