Obligatory Disclaimer: I don't own any of this bunch either.

Author's Notes: And now we come to the 3000th review of Chasing the Sun, caught by FionaTyne. She asked for, "Meal time in the Great Hall, story mainly is Snape's internal dialogue. Him essentially being incredibly sarcastic drawing comparisons between the way people eat & what they are like." She also wanted Mad-Eye Moody there, so by default this is set during Goblet of Fire. Yes, it's fake Moody, but none of the characters know that.

This is written in first person as a monologue of our dear grumpy Potions master's thoughts, so the lack of description/dialogue/etc makes it somewhat shorter than usual.

Warnings: Excessive use of sarcasm and a bit of language. Naturally.

"And everyone seems like they're acting a dream
'Cause they're just not thinking about each other
And they're taking orders, which are media spawned
And they should know better, now you have been warned..."
- The Jam, 'In The Crowd'.

Another day lies ahead, full of promise... The promise of really, really irritating me. God, this place looks ghastly; I don't see why the whole castle needs to be covered in glittery crap one minute past midnight every first of December. It's not Christmas for weeks yet.

No, Minerva, of course I didn't sleep well. I don't believe I ever have, and you've surely known me long enough to know better than to try to talk to me in the mornings. Although does it really matter that it's morning if you haven't actually slept? It's more an extension of last night, surely. Oh, who cares, someone pass the coffee before I kill anyone.

Damnit, do not scratch your arm, Severus. It is not itching. It's all in your head. There's barely anything there yet. Don't think about it until you have to.

I wonder who else has realised, though? Karkaroff obviously hasn't noticed yet or he would have wet himself, whimpered at me and run for it. As he should – he'll be in a great deal of trouble when he returns. He should notice any day now, though, it's growing too dark to ignore. I don't believe Dumbledore has told anyone else here yet, either; he must be working on gathering the other Order members first. It makes sense, I suppose. I don't know how many of the others have seen their Marks returning – the only one who might mention it to me is Lucius, and I doubt he'll do that until it becomes impossible to ignore, if he does at all.

Stop scratching. Idiot. Drink your coffee and keep your hand away from your arm. Look at the ugly decorations. 'Tis the season to be jolly, not the season for horrific nightmares, not that I do 'jolly'. Think about the goddamned Yule Ball, I still have to make sure the students who know how to dance show the ones who don't. Hell will freeze over before I do it myself, no matter what the old man says. I refuse to be lectured by anyone who has egg in his beard anyway; that really is revolting. I'll never understand why any man would willingly grow facial hair; the itching drives me mad if I miss a single shave, and as for having a beard down to the waist, well, everything gets caught in his. Small animals would get caught in it. There could well be new species evolving in there.

Stop thinking about things itching. Out, damned spot! Out, I say!

...It's definitely too early in the morning for Shakespeare. And what on earth is that smell? Oh, of course. It's Minerva persisting in eating porridge. I find it hard to think of any Scottish stereotype she doesn't embrace; I'm not sure she even likes it. And I notice Mad-Eye is still obsessively checking every single mouthful of food... Paranoia is all very well, but the house-elves would catch anything before the food gets here. Which doesn't mean I can't add something to his food after it arrives, admittedly, but Dumbledore made me promise not to. I'm surprised it's not in my contract, actually, since I have to make the same promise every year – the Potions master is expressly forbidden to cause harm to the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher under any circumstances unless aforementioned teacher should turn out to be evil and attempt to kill a student. Which, let's be honest, does happen quite often.

Then again, Dumbledore needs me more than ever, now. It's entirely possible that I could poison Moody and get away with it. Now there's a happy thought to bring joy at this festive season.

Incidentally, I can't be the only person who thinks it's a bad idea to have a teacher who can see through the students' clothes, can I? Surely other people think that is inappropriate and extremely creepy. That's an idea – maybe I could have some t-shirts made to wear under my work clothes, calling him a pervert for reading it perhaps, or just swearing at him. Saying all the things I am not permitted to say aloud. And if he comments I can point out that he should not be in a school if he makes a habit of looking through people's clothing. It won't make any difference, but it might be funny.

Note to self, try and fit 'Mad-Eye Moody wears a strap-on' on a t-shirt. Admittedly he won't understand what it means, but it will amuse me, at least.

God, I need more coffee if I've regressed to this level of humour. I suppose I should eat something, but it all tastes like cardboard these days and it will just make me nauseous... At least I'm not obsessed with tea like almost everyone in the Hall, though, I suppose. I don't really understand that particular stereotype. It tastes nice enough, or it did back when I could still taste things properly and wasn't too stressed to care, but it's nothing special.

No, your arm does not itch. Ignore it. Watch the students, the only reason you're even here is to keep an eye on them.

Merlin, this place is packed. I haven't worked out the exact numbers but there must be more than double the number of students here now. And half of them aren't doing anything. As far as I know none of the Beauxbatons or Durmstrang students are being given lessons of any kind. Because what this place really needed was a lot of bored children wandering around; that always ends well.

Most of the male population are still panting after the Delacour girl, I see. I have to admit it was almost Slytherin of them to enter a part-Veela and distract the competition. Personally I don't see what all the fuss is about, but then I was never much for blondes. I wonder if Beauxbatons have an equivalent of Slytherin? I probably should know what their Houses are, but I really can't remember right now, so never mind. Maybe I'll ask Maxime later, I speak decent enough French that she probably won't sneer. Mind you, she can't really help looking down her nose at people, it's unavoidable at her size... I really have not had enough sleep recently.

Look at the Hufflepuffs fawning over Diggory. They're treating the boy like a god. The badgers don't often get a chance to shine, I suppose, and even this got overshadowed by the sodding Gryffindors just like everything else does. Diggory is good, I suppose – not much at Potions but his spellwork seems decent enough. Certainly nobody from Slytherin is good enough, not from this current crop, much as I hate to admit it, and frankly I'm astounded any of them bothered to enter.

My money is on Krum, personally. There's a reason Durmstrang wins more often than either of the others. They get taught this sort of magic far more thoroughly. At least, my money would be on Krum, but if I was a gambling man I'd have bet on Potter. I think I may believe Dumbledore when he says he doesn't know who entered the boy, and I believe the boy can't have entered himself – although I'm sure he wanted to – but there is no way in Hell the old man won't rig things to let his pet win. I don't know what the second task is but the final one is pretty nasty and under normal circumstances a fourteen year old boy wouldn't last ten minutes.

I personally don't think it's a good idea to let the supposed saviour of the wizarding world wander unsupervised around a maze full of things that want to eat him, especially when he always seems to find trouble at the end of the summer term, but nobody ever listens to me.

What's going on with the Ravenclaws? Oh, it's just Lovegood. Spreading strawberry jam on her bacon. Of course. That girl really is not normal. I wish I could work out how she managed to make the entire class see visions of the giant squid last year, those fumes sound like they would have been a lot of fun had I not been busy trying not to let them all pass out. I might have to find those essays of hers that I copied later, they're always good for a laugh and God knows I could use one.

At least the Slytherins are behaving. Well, if you can call Crabbe and Goyle shovelling a week's worth of food down their gormless faces 'behaving'. I used to be truly proud of my House, but this current bunch are a complete disgrace. I'm sure Draco's still sulking because I told him his badges were childish. That boy needs a good hiding if you ask me; Lucius and Narcissa have spoiled him. And all the older girls seem to be starving themselves to prepare for the ball – well, except Parkinson and Bulstrode, anyway. Good grief.

None of Draco's year look particularly worried, though, nor do any of the other sons and daughters of... my old associates. It doesn't seem as though any of them have been warned about their fathers' Marks coming back yet – no, leave your arm alone, it doesn't hurt yet. I suppose that's a good thing, but it's not really going to make much difference in the long run. None of them have any reason to choose Hogwarts and Dumbledore over their families and him when he returns. The old man has done nothing to keep them loyal and still shows such an obvious bias against the House of the Snake... history repeating itself, I suppose.

Minerva, if you even think of commenting on how many cups of coffee I've drunk this morning I will not be responsible for my actions. Yes, of course I know how strong I've made it and how much sugar I've added. Leave me alone.

Good grief, have none of the Gryffindor boys been taught to eat with their mouths closed? They should be lined up at a trough rather than sitting at a table – some of them can barely hold cutlery. Most of them should know better, especially the Weasley boys – I can't think that Molly never taught them any manners. Oh, do stop glaring at me, Granger. I suppose I deserve it, really, though – I'm hardly in a position to mock anyone else's teeth, am I, and even I admit I went way too far. I should be thankful she didn't tell anyone else what I said... Minerva would skin me alive if she found out I made one of her favourite cubs cry. I didn't actually intend to say it aloud, but there's nothing I can do about it now – I did take points off Draco for it afterwards, and since she seems to have taken the comment to heart and got them fixed properly anyway it hardly matters. My temper is going to be the least of everyone's problems soon enough.

And there's Potter. Dumbledore's golden boy, the shining star of Hogwarts. If there is a god, he's got a sick sense of humour, making the brat look identical to James except for the eyes. I'm getting very, very tired of it hurting every time I lay eyes on the little bastard. I'm getting tired of everything he touches turning to gold, too – he definitely gets that from his father. The boy can do no wrong and he'll come out of this with barely a scratch and a heap of gold and fame, I'll bet the sparse contents of my bank account on it. I don't bloody care if he didn't actually cheat the Goblet, it's certainly not hurting him much so far, is it?

Dumbledore keeps asking me if I know who did it. I don't know why he expects my answer to change – I haven't got a bloody clue, but even if I did, I'm hardly going to tell him, am I? I suspect he thought it might have been me, at first, even if he didn't dare say so; now the Mark's coming back I think he is even more suspicious because he obviously doesn't know which side I'm going to pick. You'd think it would occur to someone as smart as he is that if I'd wanted the boy dead all I had to do was keep my mouth shut fourteen years ago and not warn the old man, wouldn't you? Or let Quirrell jinx him at the Quidditch match, or simply poisoned him in a lesson and walked away. I've had hundreds of chances to kill the brat or let him die. I wonder how many times I'll have to resist the urge before people will start to believe maybe I don't actually want him dead?

How can children make this much noise when most of them have their mouths full? If I'm going to have a headache this bad I would have liked to have earned it with some heavy drinking the night before. At this rate I'm going to have to take some pain relief before my first class, which is always a sign of a bad day ahead. Still, at least I don't have the fourth years today. I really don't think I can cope with Longbottom melting yet another cauldron – even I don't know how he manages some of them – and the rest of the class are all sulking adolescents who get on my last fraying nerves.

There might be another war coming, and I might well die slowly and painfully within the next year, and I'll spend the remainder of my sorry existence being suspected and distrusted by absolutely everyone just for a change... but at least I'll never have to be fourteen again, thank Christ.

This threatened to turn into angst on me at one point, but I managed to hold it back. Isn't he just bitchy in the mornings?