Death Eaters do not dream. Dreams are, by nature, things of hope and of happiness and the Dark Arts strip that from a person, filling the places were silly things like hope and happiness once resided with an unfathomable anger and hate. Death Eaters are shells of the people they once were, shells filled with darkness and a desire to cause pain. A desire to maim. To injure. To murder. To destroy. Death Eaters do not dream. They are incapable of the humanity required for such folly.
However, spies do.
When Severus Snape fell asleep on the night of August 2nd, 1995, he was not expecting to dream. In fact, he had taken a Dreamless Sleep potion to ensure he didn't. So to say he was surprised when he did indeed dream was an understatement.
A little boy, no older than five years old, stood on a stool in front of the stove. He was carefully flipping bacon and Severus noticed, without some small amount of astonishment, that the boy didn't even flinch as hot grease splattered his arms, causing them to be blotchy and painful looking.
The boy continued cooking the bacon, and Severus idly noticed that his clothes were obviously many sizes too big for the boy. They must have been hand-me-downs. Severus didn't dwell on it much, it was common for young children to receive hand-me-downs from their older siblings.
Then his eyes landed on the boy's unruly black hair. Familiar unruly black hair. Severus felt his stomach drop an inch or two inside him.
Then a woman stormed in, tall, skinny and blonde, with an abnormally long neck. Severus saw her face in profile and his stomach dropped a little bit more.
It dropped like it was filled with lead when she grabbed the boy by the collar and screamed at him for burning the bacon and Severus caught a flash of green eyes and crooked glasses.
As he watched, his stomach felt like it made its new home in his feet when Petunia Dursley grabbed the hot frying pan full of grease and bacon and hit a five year old Harry James Potter in the head with it.
The boy crumpled to the floor, motionless and Petunia dropped the pan back on the stove top and walked away, leaving the child unconcious on the black and white tiled kitchen floor.
Then Severus was watching a slightly older Harry, around 7, running from what looked like a blonde baby whale and his posy. Unfortunately, Harry took a wrong turn and he was trapped at a dead end.
Severus was forced to watch as the scrawny child was beat by four boys much larger than himself.
Then Severus was standing in the driveway of Number 4 Privet Drive as Dudley Dursley stepped on his cousin's ankle. The crack made Severus wince in sympathy. He watched as Harry dug his fingernails into the pavement so hard they bled and a small cry came from the small boy. Petunia came out of the house and made a show of helping the boy up and helping him hobble inside. Severus looked on in horror when, as soon as the door closed behind them, she carelessly threw him into the cupboard under the stairs and locked it.
He could hear Harry's soft cries through the door and felt his perception of the Golden Boy crumble. This wasn't the life of the pampered, spoiled boy Severus thought Harry James Potter was. This wasn't the picture-perfect, doting family he expected. Severus felt anger welling up inside him at the injustice. No child should be treated the way it seemed Harry Potter was. If he ever got his hands on Petunia Dursley, she would be very sorry indeed.
The scene changed again and he was an unwilling witness to a fat lump of a man with very little neck throw Harry, now old enough to have been attending Hogwarts, against a wall. Severus heard the poor boy's head connect and Harry leaned against the wall, dazed.
Severus's blood ran cold when he saw Vernon Dursley take off his belt. It felt like an eternity, standing there, watching the repetitive motion of Dursley drawing his arm back and then pulling down with enough force to break the skin of Harry's back. Severus desperately wished he could something, anything, but he was unable to interfere and the visions refused to relinquish their hold on him.
Once Vernon had his fill, he roughly grabbed Harry by the arm and dragged him up the stairs, throwing him into a room, first door on the right, and slamming the door shut, locking the six locks on the outside. The boy had been silent throughout the entire ordeal.
Once again, the dream shifted. Now Severus was looking into the eyes of a fourteen or fifteen year old Harry Potter as he was once again beaten by his uncle. Vernon Dursley was drunk, slurring his words and not very steady on his feet. Harry already had a split lip and a black eye, then Vernon hit Harry in the side of the head and grabbed the boy by the throat, pulling him along to the back door. Lightning flashed, illuminating the yard through the glass sunroom. Rain beat down on the glass as Vernon threw open the door and shoved Harry through it. Harry stumbled and fell. He wasn't quick enough in regaining his footing in the wet grass as his uncle lumbered out after him like an angry bull.
Lightning flashed once again as Dursley kicked Harry in the ribs and Severus was sure he heard something crack.
Vernon grabbed the boy by the throat again and dragged him across the yard. He threw Harry hard against the wall of the garden shed. As Harry lay in the mud, with the breath knocked out of him, Vernon leaned down and yelled, "I want you out of my house, freak! This is all your fault, you and your…kind!" With a parting kick to Harry's abdomen, Vernon Dursley waddled back into the house.
Severus watched as Harry slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position, wincing. He leaned his head against the wall of the gardening shed, rain dripping into his eyes.
Harry James Potter said next shattered any remaining misconceptions Severus Snape had of the boy.
Severus had to struggle to hear it over the thunder and the sound of the rain but hear it he did.
The exhausted, broken boy whispered one word.
A single word and Severus felt himself coming undone at the seams.
A single, whispered, "Please."