Nobody ever asked my birthday

Eminence Grise

[a/n: second post of the day]

Severus Snape sat at the High Table as usual, watching the miscreants, louts, and the precious few attentive pupils return from holiday. He sat in his usual position, at the far end of the table. It was a nice perch, perfect for people-watching. As Master of Slytherin House, inspecting the students for unwise machinations was part of his job, after all. He didn't need the status that a Hufflepuff might ascribe to him for sitting himself at Dumbledore's left hand. It was enough that he had Dumbledore's ear. They rarely spoke in public, in fact - it would do neither's reputation any good. Severus Snape was the ultimate Eminence Grise - the teacher who was officially nothing more than a noted academic. In actuality, he had Albus Dumbledore's ear (far more so than Minerva, who rarely had an idea that Albus hadn't had already), and that could change the world. Albus Dumbledore had a dozen titles, but what mattered more than all of those was his influence and kindly demeanor. Things that Snape could never pull off.

Let Dumbledore tell Fudge to pull Umbridge back, persuade Dumbledore to think it was his own idea to leave Hogwarts. Scheme, always crafting a plot behind the scenes. Pull strings that the actors don't even know exist.

The rumor had been that Snape wanted the Dark Arts job; a rumor actively crafted to avoid the alternatives. Everyone knew Slytherins were powerhungry - and Snape couldn't have Lucius thinking that he wanted to supplant Dumbledore as Headmaster (that would have necessitated a years-long campaign to dissuade his 'old friend'; a campaign he simply didn't have time for).

His eyes combed past the oldest of the Slytherins, taking in Draco Malfoy's strained face (only apparent in how half-hearted his smirk looked). The boy with a double life, and a dual existence. It was good for him, character building as Snape's father would have said. Though Snape's own father would have despised the lies and considered them cowardly. Personal growth was different for Slytherins, and always would be.

Eyes looked back at him from the Slytherin table, and Snape did not pause to study them. All the better that they knew he was watching. He was their Housemaster, and it was right and proper for him to do so.

His eyes looked over the Ravenclaw table, carefully concealed disgust buried deeply in his heart. Cowards, who would flee from battle, one and all. Except, strangely, Luna Lovegood - who looked like she'd just float through the battle, quelling rage and anger and even determination. Let her sing, and like a sylph, she might just end the war. Snape smirked at his whimsical thought - sheer rubbish, and he knew it.

With a talent he'd honed as a student at Hogwarts, Snape looked at Harry Potter out of the corner of his eye. He was entirely unsurprised to see that Potter was gormlessly looking at him. Probably inspecting how skeletal I look... Snape pointlessly groused. Potter had a sort of intensity, far more than simple curiosity. Snape would find his next contact with the boy illuminating, no doubt.

The Hufflepuffs were too preoccupied with rejoining the Sett to truly care to look at the teachers. Well and good, Snape's duty was to look for the half-made glance, the shy smile, or even the sly jest.

What was it with adolescents, that their love lives intruded so on his peace of mind?

Oh, right, Snape thought, The poisons, the duels, and the hair-pulling.

[a/n: Snape's not just a teacher. He's a Housemaster. What do you think Snape and Harry's 'reunion' is going to look like?

No, Harry won't notice the things Draco's Housemaster sees about the poor boy.

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By the way, I managed to tug a short story "Never Prank Snape" out of my increasingly elaborate backstory between Snape and the Weasley Twins. Have a look at my main page, and remember to review!]