Nobody ever asked my birthday

Burning off some energy

Harry woke earlier than normal, that Saturday. It was false dawn, the time when there was barely enough light to see - where even a candle would shoot your vision to shite. He woke, and he dressed, and he ran.

There would be an Order Meeting today.

The first Order Meeting he'd attended, he'd felt optimistic about.

The second one, he'd just felt a growing sense of rage.

Today, he was going to sit there, and let the folks in charge be in charge.

Clearly Dumbledore knew more than he often let on, and don't forget Snape was working with him.

Harry was going to have to sit through another round of people arguing that Snape was a Death Eater, which had to be positively ridiculous, even if Harry had thought it likely as a first year. These were adults, they ought to know better. Snape couldn't be trusted. Well, if you didn't trust him, have done and stop listening. Better yet, find better sources.

Harry was not going to yell this at people. Not even quietly suggest it.

Which was why he was going to stumble into the Order Meeting as exhausted as he could possibly, possibly be.

Order Meetings weren't about planning for current flghts, apparently, they were about looking into the future, heading off problems that might come to pass.

Harry would work better if he was exhausted, so he was going to do triple his training regimen.

And hope I don't drop off in the middle of the meeting. Outta ask Ron to kick me if that happens.

With a sweaty heave of a breath, Harry started his second lap around the castle. If a third didn't work, he'd start the stairs.

And maybe he could take a spin on the Pitch, assuming Slytherin wasn't using it. True, he wasn't playing for Gryffindor this year, but messing around during Slytherin practice would be a good way to take a bludger to the face. 'on accident.'

Harry wasn't early to the meeting this time, or at least not as early as he'd been. Snape was there, with his guard up - seriously, did he ever let his guard down? And, if he did, would it be a good thing? Vernon Dursley was a mostly decent bloke who minded his manners - except while drunk, or when dealing with his 'unwanted houseguest' Harry Potter.

With Snape? You could practically see that he carried stones. Or crosses, perhaps. If Snape let his guard down, there was a strong likelihood everything nearby would end up broken.

Harry knew Snape had anger issues, had always known, really. Of course, when Harry was a firstie, he'd thought that Snape shouting meant Snape was mad. He'd come to know otherwise, but that just meant that Snape put a lot of weight and discipline behind binding his anger tight, and releasing it slowly. Revenge is a dish best served cold - that sounded like a Slytherin motto, and not just for Snape.

Harry found a seat, discretely away from Snape (who was standing, more leaning against a shadowy corner - Snape was so tall it was conceivable being in normal chairs hurt.).

Moody arrived, full of piss and vinegar, doubt and paranoia. As usual, directed completely towards Severus Snape - who was never one to turn away from a scrap. Had he ever done so? Even when he knew my mum...

There were some things Harry didn't want to think about, and that was one of them. So, he harshly curbed his thoughts, directing them back to the ongoing confrontation. Lupin had slunk in at some point, as had Neville and Fred and George.

No wands had been pulled, yet, but it was a close thing. Snape was currently walking Moody through a routine about shaking pursuit, and Moody had snapped back at him that "Yer gettin' too good at that, you natty bastard."

Snape had smirked back, "Did you want me good, or did you want me dead?"

"I think I might have preferred both, truth be told." Moody said, just as Dumbledore strode through the door.

Dumbledore looked faintly disapproving of Moody, but he often did that. What startled Harry was the sudden twinkle in Dumbledore's eye. "Alastor, what have we said about wishing death on our allies?"

"Don't do it in front of you, sir." Moody snarled, sitting down in a sprawl - a blatant mimickry of relaxation. Every muscle of his was tense.

And so the meeting started.

Neither Moody nor Snape did a damn thing through the first half of the meeting. They didn't move as much as a muscle. It wasn't quite a staring contest, their focus was clearly on other things.

Well, in so far as you really wanted to know the gossip of St. Otterly Catchpole, which Molly was relaying in full detail.

Nobody had told him the meetings were so damned boring. He wouldn't have pressed so hard to join if he'd known.

What was the point of sitting here, when you could be training?

Molly finally fell silent, and Snape stepped into the breech, taking up a position flanking Dumbledore as he began to talk. "There are stirrings, at the Ministry." Distantly, Harry felt Shacklebolt and Tonks tense - this was a deliberate besmirching of their capabilities, and no matter how deserved it was, it had to sting.

"The Dark Lord seeks power, as he always has. He turns towards the ministry, and as his gaze falls upon it, loyalty itself shakes." Snape's dark eyes raked the room, "Who are you loyal to? Beyond all else? Is it the people at this table?"

Harry could feel heads nodding. He, himself, didn't move.

This had the subtle feeling of a trap - and it was that which prepared him to watch what came next.

Snape moved, like a dark flash across the room, in seconds having Remus Lupin at wandpoint.

Remus gulped, smiling weakly.

Dumbledore made as if to speak, but Snape cut him off before he could start, "Who here would die for the wolf?"

Harry could feel the question hang on the air. "I would," Tonks said. "As would I," Vance said. Further voices piped up.

"Who here would die for him, if The Order said otherwise?" Snape spat.

"I would," Minerva McGonagall said firmly, "My duty's more than a member of the Order. He was my own, and lions protect their cubs even when grown."

It was a good answer, and Harry wanted to smile, but he didn't think Snape was done making his point.

"And there you have it, gentle ladies and men - the downfall of the Order." Snape was smug, bowing to them all.

"What do you mean?" Albus asked, managing to be gently chiding about it.

"If you cannot put loyalty to the Order above all else, above your family, above your friends, above your professorial duties - these are all weaknesses." Snape said, at last removing his wand from Remus' throat.

"Now, perhaps you will not, in the heat of the moment," Snape gestured, his robes whipping around him, "Doom the entire order simply because of one person."

Snape's voice got quiet, that peculiar talent of his that made people listen all the closer, "The ministry has no such battlefield cameraderie. To them, it's just a job. Compare that to their families. Is it so unlikely their loyalty might falter."

Hufflepuff to the max, Tonks said, "Yes, dammit! I know what's right, and though I might do stupid sometimes, I don't do wrong often."

Snape bowed, "You may be a fool, but you're an honest fool. Damned by your principles. Not everyone holds truth and justice as the highest virtues."

Molly said, "You mean Slytherins."

Snape said, "Or Ravenclaws, or even some Gryffindors. At any rate, it doesn't matter how many, all he needs is a handful. And there are many workers at the Ministry."

They actually didn't discuss how to prevent V from capturing the ministry. Instead, after Snape left, Harry was treated to a whole lot of stuffing, without any bear.

He left as disillusioned as he had entered, if not moreso.

[a/n: Hopefully I have the weeks right. Next weekend Snape should be "off to help a sick relative"

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