… his eyes were fixed upon the coiling snake in its enchanted cage. "No, my Lord, but I beg you will let me return. Let me find Potter."
"You sound like Lucius. Neither of you understands Potter as I do. He does not need finding.
"Potter will come to me. I know his weakness you see, his one great flaw. He will hate watching the others struck down around him, knowing that it is for him that it happens. He will want to stop it at any cost. He will come."
-from, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows
Severus Snape woke in a cold sweat as tendrils of his nightmare clung to him like an unwanted paramour. He rubbed the cobwebs from his eyes, his neck and then he leapt from his bed and swiped at his bare arms, chest and legs to completely rid himself of the images from his nightmare.
His hand gripped gingerly around his throat. It ached. As if that bloody serpent had actually hit him!
Blood. His blood. There had been so much… so… damned… AUGH!
With that cry Severus sprinted into his bathroom, turned the faucet of the shower to cold, and then he painfully immersed himself in the icy drops that quickly numbed his skin. A few minutes later the images were still strong, heavy, and much too real for him. He pushed out of the shower and returned to his room.
Severus cursed (in several languages) as he glared at his bed and its rumpled black, satin sheets. As he closed his eyes and Nagini struck him again, he opened them. There was no help for it. He dressed, and then left his quarters.
"Severus! I found him! Headmaster! Minerva!"
The voice, somehow familiar, edged like an unwilling knife through his consciousness. A moment later a cool, dry hand brushed over his cheek and then his forehead.
"Severus, my boy?" A gentler, older voice. A voice that he hated for its incessant kindness, and a voice that condemned at the same time it cared.
"Can you stand, my boy?" asked the Headmaster softly.
His joints ached from the cold in the dungeon but his energy was returning with a vengeance. As the Headmaster helped him to his feet he pushed away. Blinking, he then realised that two other Gryffindors were staring at him with evident concern: Minerva McGonagall and… (gods teeth!) Remus Lupin.
"What are you three doing in my bedroom?" he grumbled. He tried to straighten his robes and glowered at the wrinkles that held on stubbornly.
"You're in the depths of the dungeons, my boy," Albus corrected gently. Severus' stiffened in sudden anxiety.
"You've been absent, Severus," Minerva replied with a soothing touch to his forearm.
"Absent." Severus resisted rolling his eyes in apparent dismay.
"You have been missing, my boy," the Headmaster said as he touched the younger man's shoulder and eased him into a walk. "For three days."
"And, you, Lupin. What are you doing here?" demanded the Potions Master as he glanced to the wizard on his right.
Minerva was walking slowly beside Remus and repressed a smirk as he stepped just a tiny bit closer. "I am here to help look for you, Severus. What have you been doing down in this part of the dungeon?"
Severus glowered. He was not entirely sure why he was so far into the dungeons that he had vanished for three days. The last he recalled was walking into his sitting room in order to try and shake his nightmare from his memories. He had tried to Occlude it but that had strangely failed him.
The Potions Master slowed his walk as he poked figuratively into the remnants of his nightmare towards a mental hive of angry bees. The memory of the nightmare was fading, and it was no longer helpful to him to draw the nightmare forward.
The young wizard's knees buckled as the memory of that dark Halloween nearly five years ago rose up into the forefront of his mind like a vengeful wave overwhelming all his senses. Albus could not keep Severus from collapsing so he offered what support he could by sliding down to the floor with him.
Caught by the woven tendrils of his mind Severus witnessed what he had never seen but knew of; the deaths of the Potters. He heard Lily plead for the life of her child, he saw the light - not the green of Avada Kedavra but a light that graduated through colour as a sunset would. If possible, he fell within his mind as the magical sunset cascaded over him.
"Love… protection… Lily gave her son the last of all that… she was…" Severus muttered as old grief swelled within his heart and throat.
"Severus!" Albus stroked the sallow cheek, the smooth, dark hair. His voice crooned in order to bring the man back from the past. "Come forward, my son. It's fine. I am here with you. Come back, Severus."
The Potions Master rapidly lifted his head as he blurted, "He's dying! Albus, Harry is dying!