Nobody ever asked my birthday

A curious mixture of terror and triumph

Monday Morning.

Harry Potter had gone out for his morning run. Generally, it was a time to think, to improve his muscles, and work on his breathing capacity.

Not today.

Today, Harry had nerves, and the run was a good excuse to tucker himself out. Harry fully intended to keep running until he hit that high, the one that made it feel like every step was on the wind, like you could run the entire day long, and never need to worry about becoming tired.

And then Harry'd do another lap.

By the time Harry stumbled up about a thousand steps to Gryffindor Tower (for once, wishing he was a prefect, for they had a bathroom that was a LOT CLOSER to the ground...), he felt exhausted.

Well, wasn't that what breakfast was for?

A lukewarm shower - the cold was ice this time of year, and Harry was changed and nearly bounding down the stairs. Too tired to bound, really, it looked more like a controlled tumbledown the tricksy steps.

At least he didn't run into anyone.

Harry, for as much as he'd have liked to pretend otherwise, was worried. What if Snape didn't show up? Harry knew Snape was important, but he wasn't sure how highly the man rated in the eyes of Albus "I trust Severus" and Lord V. Harry, actually, wasn't sure if even Bellatrix rated a mention in Lord V's mind...

Harry was quite glad he wasn't sworn to a man such as that.*

Harry pushed open the door to the Great Hall. Steady, his gaze landed on the high table.

Snape sat at the end, a simple plate of light pancakes (no bacon) laid out before him. And black coffee of course.

Harry felt only relief. He had, contrary to general belief, learned from his unscheduled trip to the Ministry on the back of a thestral. Rescuing Snape was not only a fool's mission, it was liable to put Harry himself in grave danger. Not to mention anyone he managed to drag into the mess. Ron still wasn't quite the same.

Harry still wasn't completely sure he wouldn't try to help, if pushed to it. He meant to not push the red button, as the saying goes, but sooner or later, he had the curious feeling, the red button would be getting pushed.

Harry sat at the Gryffindor table, with Hermione bustling in just after (followed by Neville, who was peppering her with Herbology questions). Harry listened, and tried to take the notes in his head that he'd need to actually beat the Herbology test. It was easier this way, sitting back and listening.

Snape's class was... as close to a study hall as one could get, with the teacher still present in the room (marginally better than Binns, Snape may have looked like death itself, haggard and pale, but Binns was actually already dead, so he wouldn't be getting better). Harry finally had his answer, about why Snape had started having 'ordinary' classes. Snape had simply snapped at them to resume from last time, and then had gone to sprawl in a corner, on a hardbacked wooden chair. Harry knew why Snape had chosen the most uncomfortable chair.

It was the same reason Snape had them in his office: the sheer discomfort would keep him awake.

In detention, Snape had liked leaving Potter in his office, sitting there and dreaming about what horrors he'd have to chop, dice or slay.

*Ah, yes! Canon-irony!

[a/n: Snape's not really in shape enough to be standing a full day. Barely keeping his eyes open, and yet managing to pull 'smug' out of thin air. reviews?]