Nobody ever asked my birthday

No Plan

Harry Potter ran and continued to run, as he went around Hogwarts. It was quite a bit more boring than if Snape was there. Harry wondered, grimly, if Snape would ever be there again. He focused his breathing on his steps, and started to think through his research, each page the equivalent of ten paces.

Harry Potter came to breakfast Monday morning, nearly in the exact middle of breakfast. He spared the high table one glance - enough to confirm that Snape was there, looking just as emaciated as predicted.

Harry dug into his food with gusto, nodding vigorously whenever someone tried to involve him in conversations he didn't care about at this moment.

He still had more to read. He had the glimmer of an idea, but he had to find facts before he could make plans. His mind was more on those notes up in his room, those fantastical letters.

Harry stole one glance up at the High Table as he left, relieved to see that Snape had not managed to fall over, or otherwise look completely wasted. The man looked like a wraith already. Harry would have considered offering to help, except that would actually count as suicide. Harry was not looking forward to Defense - he well knew what it took to be professional while teaching (though Harry had to concede he often wasn't, himself) - and Snape was looking spectral as it was. (Harry was briefly distracted by the idea of a rainbow shining through Professor Snape, before his horrified brain told him to leave the Great Hall while he was still able to walk).

Snape's slitted eyes burnt black, as he looked at himself in the mirror. He was gaunt - emaciated. Absently, he tugged at his robes, muttering, "Poppy's always on me to lose some weight." Poppy had never said any such thing, and tended to press more food on him than he was capable of eating (at least it wasn't the "Home Cooking" of Molly Weasley). Snape sat at a table in his private quarters, eating a simple breakfast of salsa and chips. It was the most he could stomach, and it made his hair glint with sweat.

Snape strode into the Great Hall with an odd premonition - something had changed. Ever disciplined, Snape sat stiffly and poured himself some black coffee. Then he let his eyes rake the Slytherin table - Malfoy was boasting, but that was nothing new... At the Ravenclaw table, Cho Chang and Terry Boot were having a civilized argument. If only my house would be content to argue with words alone. Normal. Snape's eyes barely glanced at the Hufflepuff table - it had been years since chance came from that quarter. Snape's eyes reached the Gryffindor table. Specifically, Potter, who had managed to sit at the most crowded part of the table, yet didn't seem to be listening to a single word anyone said. Being Gryffindors, they hadn't noticed the difference. Snape sent a whitehot glare at Potter, as he continued to watch - Potter was eating quicker than usual, which meant that he had something on his mind.

It was only after Potter left that Snape realized Harry had only looked his way twice. That was disturbingly eccentric.

Minerva kept looking at Snape, whose eyes were well past scalding hot, as they glare down at Potter for most of dinner. If this didn't resolve itself soon, she was going to have to step in herself. The lot of the assistant headmaster. Fixing all the petty little fights.

[a/n: Up next, Defense class and the rest of the day.]