Nobody ever asked my birthday

The Bastard

Snape had finished eating, finished even twiddling his fork around. He stood, vanished the plate, and retreated back into a long shadow in the corner. He put that there himself, damn his rotting hide, Harry thought with some amusement, hadn't realized that was intentionally put.

Snape started a lonely melody -

Home is behind
The world ahead
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadow
To the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight

Mist and shadow
Cloud and shade
All shall fade
All shall fade

Harry hadn't ever thought about Snape singing before, not really. He was a hard man, with armor made of shattered glass. He didn't seem the type. And yet, listening to the song, Harry found it fit. Snape had a voice that was like molasses while singing - not particularly deep, but well flavored, and dark as anything. It held a surprising amount of warmth, too. Rough shod, a bit like a hug from Hagrid. And wasn't that a thought.

Snape seemed out of smugness, just tired, leaning against the wall, as if everything was just a bit too much to bear. "Attending these meetings is like dancing without a partner. Not nearly as effective, and I still have to watch for punches. If there's one thing to be said for the Dark Lord's service, at least there I have dance partners!" Snape sniffed nearly soundlessly, "Still, I suppose there's something to be said for Gryffindor muddle-headedness. They'll dog through, long after everyone else is rotting in their tombs." Snape shrugged, almost awkwardly - which just brought home the fluidity that Snape had made his own. "After all," Snape's mirth seemed broken, like a shattered windshield, as if another strike would send glass everywhere. "There's always another Gryffindor."

Harry had a sudden, disquieting thought. Is he talking to me? Or is he just talking to himself? Harry didn't want Snape to know he was there, observing. It felt ... invasive. Like Snape had been willing to let down a shield or two, just for the price of no one looking. I hope he doesn't know I'm here.

Dumbledore came in, just then, before Harry'd properly had time to consider coming out. Properly had time to consider if the old spy had known he was there, and had decided to be talkative. The uncertainty twisted in Harry's guts. "Severus, come have a seat at the table! Would you like a lemon drop, or some tea?"

Snape said curtly, "You never have the tea I like." Without changing his position at all, Snape said, "I'll stand. I'm comfortable here."

"Oh, well, if you insist." Dumbledore said, "Only I did conjure this table, and these chairs, and it would be such a shame..."

"There's always one less seat, and you know it."

Dumbledore sighed, "Only at your insistence. You always conjure your own..."

Snape smirked, the look in his eyes like icicles dripping wet, "That way I can be sure you haven't... done anything."

Dumbledore looked at Snape, in the shadows where he was difficult to get a read on, "I've done too much in my long life. Many things I'd rescind, if given half the chance."

Snape smiled, a smirk that grew to fill his face. "Fewer things than I have, I'd wager a griffin on it."

Dumbledore chuckled, "I'd take your money, and you know it. How many regrets do you have, of things not done on my orders?"

Snape said quietly, "Why, those are the only things I regret." It was strange, to hear a knife being wielded so skillfully, in Snape's own hand. You'd have expected it to come out in a fury, or be a pointed observation, or something designed to hurt. It wasn't. It was a simple statement of fact, and that made it hurt all the worse.

Dumbledore didn't show it, his poker face rivaled Snape's when he needed it to - and didn't it say something, that Dumbledore didn't want to admit that Snape's words hurt?

Hermione and Neville came in next, Neville excitedly laying out some plants. They seemed unaware of Snape, and Harry thought there was good odds of Neville overturning his chair when Snape made his presence known.

[a/n: Snape's song, is of course from Lord of the Rings, a series that Harry's never read. In a story where the prophesized one is trying to destroy a nearly all-powerful Dark Lord? It seemed appropriate.

What do the readers think? Did Snape know Harry was there? Was Snape trying to hurt Dumbledore?

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