Disclaimer: never did and never will own it. J.K. Rowling does.
Spoilers: Order of the Phoenix
~ What Dreams Tell ~
A scream rent the silent night air, startling the young lady in the Head Girl’s room awake. Eyes rapidly scanning the room, she searched for the source of the banshee howl. Seeing nothing moving within the room, she gently nudged her companion. Screams in the night were not unusual at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—what with the large population of ghosts and other fantastical beings, but something about this one made her tremble with fear. The one sharing her bed was still sound asleep. He made a sound very much like a sigh and shifted position, but other than that showed no signs of stirring.
“Wake up!” Hermione Granger said, poking more firmly.
His eyes finally opened, and he opened his mouth as if to speak. The scream was heard again and she realised several things at the same time. First it came from her room, more precisely from the man by her side. Secondly, he had not been asleep, but he was trying to stay still, fighting against the pain wrenching his body.
“First things first,” she thought.
She took her wand and cast a Silencing Spell on her room. There was no need to wake up the whole school, especially to find Professor McGonagall rushing in here. She refused to imagine the face of her Head of House when seeing who was sharing her bed.
She turned to the man beside her and leaned toward him.
“Severus?” she asked gently.
He groaned in pain. His Dark Mark was burning hot. His whole body was trembling violently and she could hear his teeth grinding as he tried to swallow back the screams.
“I should warn Dumbledore or Madam Pomfrey,” she thought frantically.
But she didn’t move and gathered him in her arms. She felt his Dark Mark under her fingers, swollen and pulsing a strange life. She grabbed her wand and whispered:
The mark on his arm was of a bright red and she felt like killing Voldemort with her bare hands for causing Severus such pain.
“I thought he couldn’t reach you in Hogwarts,” she whispered. “I thought you were safe here.”
He didn’t answer but as his eyes bore into her, she could figure the answer by herself. Obviously Voldemort had found a new way to torture him. He tried to turn away, still mindful of her even in his state, but she wouldn’t let him.
“Stop being noble. You can scream, nobody will hear you. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Part of his control snapped and he writhed in her embrace, letting groans of agony escape from his throat. She tightened her arms around him and began to murmur spells, trying to ease his pain. But there was nothing to be done, she could see it as her spells seemed to have no effect whatsoever. His Dark Mark swelled more and he was trying to clutch his arm – or claw at it – except that he was too weak to do so.
“Severus,” she pleaded desperately, “hold on, please, please…”
He looked at her, his lips only moving with the little noises of pain he couldn’t repress, and she screamed her denial as his body went stiff in her arms.
A scream rent the silent night air, startling the young lady in the Head Girl’s room awake. She didn’t need to search around her for the source of the banshee howl. She sat abruptly in her bed, shivering. The scream had been hers, or rather, it had been the echo of the one that the Hermione of her so vivid dream had cried out. She wrapped her arms around her knees, pulling them against her chest. It had been a dream, just a dream, but she could still feel his body in her arms as whatever new torture Voldemort had come up with robbed him of his life.
She took her head in her hands.
“Think, girl!” she rasped. “It was just a dream, alright? Now, why on earth would you dream of Professor Snape of all people?”
No matter what her mind was telling her, she couldn’t get rid of this vivid impression of him in her arms and the loss she had felt when she had realised he was dead. Angry with herself, she stood up and paced nervously in her room, a sleepy Crookshanks following her with his lazily blinking eyes.
“That’s it!” she exclaimed, frustrated, rolling her eyes. “I think I’m Professor Trelawney now and that I have premonitions! Why not having the Inner Eye, while I’m at it?” she concluded sarcastically.
She forced herself to sit down on her bed and pet Crookshanks who began to purr in appreciation.
“I can’t believe it,” she groaned only minutes later. “I can’t get it out of my head.”
She stood up and, sighing, slipped on her robes on her nightgown, carefully tucking her wand in her pocket.
“Alright, I’m going to look for Professor Snape at… 2:30 in the morning, not having the faintest idea where he might be – except that he’s probably in his bed, sleeping peacefully, contrary to a crazy girl who believes she’s the new Seer of the decade… I’m pathetic. But, as one said, better sure than sorry.”
She put on comfortable sleepers and slid out of her room.
“Naturally, I don’t have Harry’s cloak,” she grumbled to herself. “Alright, here’s the plan: I avoid Filch and try to get caught by Professor Snape, if only to be sure he’s alive. If it fails, I just have to get caught by Filch near the dungeons.”
The path down the dungeons proved to be disappointingly easy. She didn’t hear the slightest sound and certainly not a silky drawl threatening to take points from Gryffindor for being out after curfew..
“Now, where is Professor Snape when one needs him?” she muttered.
She was at the door of the Potions classroom and she hesitated. Surely the man wasn’t there in the middle of the night? But still, there was this nagging feeling in the back of her mind, begging for just a glimpse of him. She would even welcome the idea of losing points if only to hear his voice.
Shrugging to herself, she carefully eased the door open, making sure the hinges didn’t creak. Her breath caught when she saw the dark silhouette kneeling on the ground, a long hand clutching the desk. He’s alive, she thought at first, feeling relieved. Then she examined the scene a little better and revised her opinion. He was indeed alive, but he wasn’t in good condition. Taking a deep breath, she stepped in the classroom and came by his side. She knelt by him, slid her head under the crook of his arm and wrapped her left arm around his waist. He still smelled of sandalwood – she knew it enough from class – and she almost wanted to close her eyes and breathe deeply because it was the scent of a living man… She bit her lower lip and concentrated.
“Lean on me so you can stand up,” she whispered.
“Miss Granger,” he croaked, “go back to your room before I take so many points from Gryffindor that you won’t be able to win the House Cup for the ten coming years.”
She couldn’t believe she was smiling like a loon and replied softly:
“Yes, Professor. After I helped you.”
She helped him to seat in his chair and he leaned in it, looking at her.
“What are you doing here at this hour?” he asked, his eyes narrowing.
She inwardly braced herself. This was when the situation was getting awkward – well, more awkward.
“I had this nightmare…” she began, unsure of what to say. “You were dying in my arms,” she added in a whisper.
“I would have thought it would be a dream for you, except the ‘in your arms’ part… though this part would be a dream for me,” he muttered.
She looked suspiciously at him, not really believing the last words she thought she had heard.
“What happened to you?”
He sighed heavily.
“I’m useless now. They know I’m a spy for the Order.”
“So they tortured you…”
“Cruciatus, as usual,” he said, trying to shrug, but failing. “I Apparated before they could finish me and then I Floo-ed here. Now, tell me your nightmare.”
“You should be resting,” she said firmly.
He cocked an eyebrow.
“I didn’t ask for your advice, Miss Granger.”
She willed herself not to blush as she related him her nightmare, carefully avoiding his eyes.
He was definitely smirking at the end of her tale.
“Miss Granger, if I remember correctly, you have no gift at all for Divination.”
“Then may I know why you decided you had to make sure I was alright?”
She met his eyes.
“The feeling of loss was unbearable, sir.”
She saw a strange gleam in his eyes and wondered about it. Maybe he needed a potion to relieve himself of the pain. She was about to go to his storeroom when his hand closed on her wrist.
“Don’t go just yet, Miss Granger,” he said, his eyes now feverish. “You wouldn’t want me to hurt myself while trying to reach my bedroom now, would you?”
She shook her head and, silently, offered him her shoulder to lean on. She followed his lead, taking little steps as he was leaning more and more heavily on her.
“Do you know, Miss Granger,” he said, out of breath, as they reached his bedroom, “that they say that dreams express buried or repressed feelings?”
She didn’t answer, leading him to his bed.
“The thing is,” he continued, “I would rather prefer for your dream to stop before I die.”
“So would I, sir,” she mumbled. “I didn’t want you to die in the nightmare, sir.”
“But you wanted to wake up next to me, Miss Granger?” he asked, his breath hot on her cheek.
She felt her face burn and refused to answer. He sat on the bed, never releasing his embrace on her shoulders, then lay down. A slightly stronger tug from him and she stumbled on the bed next to him, his arm snaking around her. With a satisfied sigh, he buried his face in her neck and closed his eyes. Surprise made her stiffen before she slowly relaxed, unable to deny him a little comfort.
“I’m in for a surprise tomorrow,” she thought as she instinctively closed her arms around him. “He’s obviously not himself and when he recovers tomorrow morning, he will keep his promise about the House points.”
“Count on it,” he murmured against her throat and she realised she had spoken aloud.
“I don’t care,” she said fiercely. “You’re alive, it’s all that matters.”
“Good,” he replied with a low chuckle, gently nuzzling her neck.
She closed her eyes, breathing in his scent, feeling safe, and smiled as she leaned her cheek against the top of his head. Sleep overtook the two in the bed.