Nobody ever asked my birthday

Softly Sleeping

Severus Snape was woken out of a sound sleep with his left arm burning. With a curse, he rustled under his pillow, pulling out the death eater robes, and, taped under his bed, the Death Eater mask, silver-white and cold. He threw on the robes, concealing the mask until he was out of Hogwarts.

His mind scrambled for what this could be about, in particular, while he strode up the dungeon corridors. In his warm baritone, he sang:

I walk a lonely road

It's the only one I've ever known.

Don't know where it goes

But it's home to me and I walk alone.

For once, Snape's incautious feet fell like those of elephants, booming as he strode at full pace, faster than most trots, his death eater robes whirling behind him. And Lucius wanted to know why my teaching robes were linen. Silk will always remind me of death, and never my own.

Snape heard the soft yelp of Fang as he walked past Hagrid's hut, heading towards the Forbidden Forest. In the night, caressed by the blue moonlight, Snape thought of it as a peculiar sort of home. Like the kind with a dozen knives in the kitchen, well sheathed in a knife block.

As soon as his feet passed the wards, he apparated away with a crack. Up in a tower, someone softly lit a candle.

Snape kept his mind repeating the song inside his head. It was a useful concentration-piece, a focus. Lucius was there, of course he was, it was his house, and Lucius wouldn't miss an audience for the sun and stars. Lucius was attended by his normal gaggle of followers - people too green to know his nature, for the most part. Lucius was like Lucifer, silvertongued and superficial. He'd just as soon throw someone to the wolves (werewolves in this case), as he would rescue them.

Severus Snape knew the meaning of charm, and even used it on occasion. But here, he preferred to contrast himself with Malfoy. His allies (never followers) knew him as a right devil - word the contract just right, and Snape would stick to it. The foolhardy Death Eaters died early, and the brash ones (like Bellatrix) thought they could stand by themselves. But the ones with an air of caution, of menace, of studious standoffishness - they stood with Snape.

The door to the Dark Lord's throne room opened, beckoning them inside.

Harry wakes up from a dream - straight into a vision.

All around him, death eaters in masks kneel. The lowest ranks press their heads to the floor, while his Inner Circle kneel to one knee, as is their right. "What news do you bring me, my loyal followers?"

Harry shakes himself out of the frame. He is not Lord Dark Lord. This is not him.

Then comes panic. The sheer and utter terror that Riddle's gonna feel him, gonna turn around and strike him down - would that drive him crazy? harry's not sure. He thinks his brain goes white.

As his brain lifts out of the peafog, eh's suddenly getting an inspiration. If he doesn't want to be there, he can always hide in the mazy fog.

What am I doing? Harry thinks, cross with himself. He goes back to being a cloud - except, better than that, a glass pane, over the sky.*

Harry was breathless, cold - but watching, listening. Like the man in the moon.

Harry heard Lucius Malfoy's low and steady drawl - which somehow came across as much more masculine than Draco's ever did, no matter that the man was an absolute poppinjay. "I have had limited success at subverting and swaying the Aurors," Lucius said, "But I have some promising news about the Magical Creatures department. Apparently they can track all the halfbreeds and werewolves."

"Increasing surveillance by the hated Ministry might turn more to our side," Lord Riddle said.

Lucius bowed, "I shall see it done."

*Potter flies. I acknowledge that this is a silly metaphor for someone who is indoors. Potter thinks in outdoor terms (or in closet terms).

[a/n: Some might say it's pretty dumb to be watching.

What do you think Snape might say?

Yanno, after the heart attack?

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