Summary: After a particularly rough night of answering letters from the ministry, Severus Snape is worn out and exhausted. He finds comfort in the care of a certain headmaster. Kind of a long one-shot. Meant to be like a father-son relationship. ABSOLUTELY NO SLASH!
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling is the owner of Harry Potter. We will never be the owners, no matter how much the rest of us want to be…
me: I'm glad you thought it was sweet! I thought it was sweet when I read it when I was finally done...
Rosaleen: I am very honored by your compliment! Raven Dancer is one of my favorite authors and has written my favorite Severus Snape story of all time (A Promise to Be Better). I'm glad you liked this story, and rest assured that I am working on another story similar to this, but it will be more within the context of the series. But that's something else...
Little Tigger: Thanks! I'll try to write more sweet stories!
danceingfae: Yes, I also believe that Snape has a softer side to his mean exterior. Only people like Albus (and I was thinking maybe Minerva, too) will ever have the privilage of seeing it!
samson: I also like seeing a father-son relationship between Severus and Albus!
XiaoGui: Thanks for your awesome review! Yes, comfort and caring don't only help victims of torture and depression, but can also be great after a hard day (or night)!
Thanks to all who read and reviewed The Burdens of an Old Headmaster and My Poor Werewolf Child...any comments from readers, both good and bad, are greatly appreciated! I've also posted another story, To Carry You Home...check it out if you have time!
Hey guys and gals! I will apologize in advance: Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape are kind of out of character! There, I said it. I'm sorry if you don't like that, but enjoy anyway!
A Blissful Sleep
Severus Snape sat at his desk, eyes closed, with his head in his hands. He briefly opened his red-lined eyes and stared blankly at the surface of the large oak piece. Sighing, he rubbed his temples as a sharp pain raced up his neck and into his head. His mind and body were ready to shut down.
Getting out of bed that morning had not been a pretty sight. He had been woken up by a sharp tapping on his bedroom door. He had opened his tired eyes to the faint glow of the clock on his bedside table, which said 6:00 A.M. Groaning, he pulled back the covers and rolled out of bed. He slowly made his way to the door, his muscles and joints aching in protest. Upon reaching his destination, he opened the door and his face and neck were hit with the cold, damp air that hung throughout the dungeons, causing him to shiver. He saw that the loud noise was being made by a Ministry owl carrying a thick stack of envelopes. He untied the owl's burden and reached out to bring the bird in, but the owl stretched its wings and flew out of his office, down the corridor, and out of sight.
One look at the parchment stack told Severus that Cornelius Fudge had dug himself a hole, jumped in, and was in dire need of a rope to pull himself out. With a miserable sigh, he threw the thick stack onto his bed. After taking a quick shower and getting dressed, he walked back into the bedroom. Snape glared at the letters, hoping that they would burst into flames and disintegrate. When they did not, he grabbed the stack of papers off his bed and went into his office. He sat down at his desk and began to read the letters, writing a reply to each, stopping briefly for lunch and to use the bathroom. Only after sending a thick stack of replies did he try in vain to force down a very small dinner. Truth be told, he was not very hungry; all he wanted to do was sleep.
There was only one problem: Gathering enough energy to drag himself into his bedroom. He could not see how he would be able to stand up; his tense muscles created a dead weight that he could not will himself to lift. Deciding that he would sleep at his desk, Snape dimmed the lights, if that was possible in the already dark dungeon, and transfigured his high-backed chair into a squashy chintz armchair that one could find in the teachers' lounge. The Potions Master's lean figure sank slightly into the squishy armchair, and he closed his eyes, leaning back with a relieved sigh. Yes, he would definitely sleep here tonight. Why should he move when he could fall into a blissful sleep right here?
Trying to ignore the slowly worsening pain in his temples, he sat there listening to the surprisingly loud silence of his office, his arms resting limply at his sides. He was so tired, he did not even hear his office door open. But he did notice a pair of thin hands slip onto his shoulders, massaging them gently. The thin fingers began to loosen his tense muscles, and he let out the smallest of pleasure-filled groans.
"My, aren't we easy to please this evening?"
Snape smiled. He knew that voice. It belonged to his mentor. A wizard thought to be the greatest of the age, perhaps even all time. A wizard said to be the only one the Dark Lord ever feared. A wizard that taught him that his life mattered to others, even if he himself did not think it mattered. A wizard that had been ostracized by most of the Ministry of Magic until very recently, due largely in part to that sorry excuse for a Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. It was the voice of Albus Dumbledore, a wizard that Snape could call his friend. Sighing, he answered, "Yes, I suppose I am."
"I didn't see you at dinner. In fact, I don't think I saw you at all today. Where were you?"
"I was up here, answering fan mail," said Snape.
"You were what?" asked Dumbledore.
"It appears that Minister Fudge and those other idiot department heads were in a little trouble during their last meeting. Well, perhaps more than a little; it was more like a giant hole. I was just supplying those losers with some answers so they don't get all stressed out over all the work they have to do this summer because of the Dark Lord's return." It felt good to vent out some of his stress. He had always found it very easy to talk to Dumbledore, who was like the kind father that Snape never had, and never would have.
"I should have known," sighed the headmaster. Shaking his head at Fudge's unfortunate uselessness, he began to knead in earnest. "Were you able to give the Minister his answers?"
"Oh, yes. I really hope he has fun reading them. He asked for very extensive and detailed responses."
"What did he want to know?"
"Well, he – "
Snape flinched and let out a pain-filled groan. One of Dumbledore's skinny fingers had prodded a particularly tense knot in the Potions Master's left shoulder. That knot had been bothering him for quite some time now, and he had felt the intense burst of pain when it was touched.
"Sorry, Severus," said Dumbledore, quickly.
"'S all right," he mumbled. "It's not your fault, anyway. That spot has been bothering me for awhile now."
"I see. Want me to get rid of it for you?"
"If you don't mind."
"Of course not. Now, sit tight; this might hurt a little."
The thin fingers began to knead vigorously at the stubborn knot. This sent a giant wave of pain down the left side of Snape's back, and it felt as if his muscles were slowly being pulled apart. The Potions Master scrunched his already closed eyes as he fought the urge to cry out. Despite this pain, there was something about the rhythmic circles that the fingers were making that was very comforting. It was clear that Dumbledore would have been a very good Healer if he had chosen to go into that field. After some time, the tense muscle began to loosen, and the pain no longer came in giant waves. "Is that a bit better?"
"Yes," groaned Snape weakly. "Although, I think my left arm is going to be numb for about a week."
Dumbledore laughed. "Oh, well, I highly doubt that. I know it's probably still throbbing, but your arm should be fine when you wake up tomorrow morning. As for that knot, I might have to work over that stubborn thing again tomorrow."
"All right, then. Thanks," he whispered, closing his eyes again as Dumbledore moved on to another tense region in the Potions Master's shoulder.
"No problem. Now then, what did the Minister want to know?"
"Oh, the usual. You know, names of Death Eaters, information that could help stop any of Voldemort's future plans, casualties during the Death Eater's battle with you in the Death Chamber. Things I would have found out at the last few meetings."
"I really don't see how that dunderhead ever became Minister of Magic."
"He was very good when he first started the job."
"Oh sure, look at what he's done to the Ministry!"
"True; he has proven most uncooperative as of late."
"See why people wanted you as Minister of Magic?"
Dumbledore squeezed Snape's shoulders firmly, causing the Potions Master to wince. "My place is at Hogwarts."
"Of course it is."
"And do you see, Severus, why Cornelius needs you?"
"Fudge doesn't need me, nor does he want me," said the Potions Master, bitterly.
"Regardless of whether or not he wants you, he still needs you. If he finds out anything about Voldemort or the Death Eaters, it's from – "
"Yes, but who do I get my information from?" This question was met with silence, but they both knew the answer. "You are a valuable source for the Ministry. You know that, Severus."
"But – "
"You are also very important to me, child," Dumbledore interjected. "I want you to be here when we defeat Voldemort. Then you can live freely. No one deserves a happy life more than you do, Severus."
Snape thought about the headmaster's words. He found that they filled him with a great happiness, even a glimmer of hope for the future. He wanted to be here when the Dark Lord was destroyed. He wanted to be a free man that did not have to worry about war. At that moment, he knew that everything would turn out all right because the side of Light had Albus Dumbledore. In addition to this small hope, he thought about the headmaster's last words. You are also very important to me, child. Such praise from a man that Snape he looked up to, loved, and trusted caused the Potions Master to blush furiously.
Dumbledore smiled to himself. I guess that settles the matter. "Well, anyway, I'm going to have to ask you a very important question." He adopted a very serious 'I'm the headmaster' tone, but Snape could tell that his mentor was still playing, just as a father would play with his son.
"Is it about who won the Quidditch World Cup of 1976? Or perhaps the result of mixing wormwood with armadillo bile?" asked Snape, playfully.
Dumbledore smiled. That's the second time Severus has cracked a joke in the last ten minutes. He must be really tired. "Unfortunately, no."
"Well then, fire away."
"How long have you been down here?"
The Potions Master sighed. "I have no idea."
"Oh, come on, Severus; you must know. Or at least have some idea."
"Well, I woke up at six. And I sent the replies to the Ministry about, say, twenty minutes ago."
This response was met by silence, a silence that lingered throughout Snape's office until it was broken by the headmaster. "Severus," said Dumbledore slowly.
"Are you telling me that you have been down here, writing replies to the Ministry, for nearly fifteen hours?"
Snape opened his eyes and looked at the clock. It read 9:36 P.M. Closing his eyes, he let out a sigh. "Yes, I suppose I am."
"Severus, are you crazy?! Have you had anything to eat today?"
"I had lunch."
"What about dinner?"
"Tried to eat."
"Couldn't do it. Too tired."
"Well, why don't you go up to bed, then, child?"
"Can't. Too tired."
Snape's office door burst open at that moment, and the Ministry owl that awoke him that morning swooped in, dropped a parchment envelope on the large oak desk, and flew off just as quickly as it had come, the door shutting behind it with a snap. "Oh, not another one!" cried Snape.
The Potions Master sighed and, against his better judgment, picked up the envelope. Slowly ripping off the seal, he found that the envelope contained only a small piece of parchment. It was another letter from the Minister and his cronies.
Dear Professor Snape:
We would like to thank you for your quick and speedy response to our letters. The information that you sent us in your report was most useful when explaining what went on with You-Know-Who and his supporters after the incident in the Department of Mysteries. Many unanswered questions pertaining to post battle events and You-Know-Who's plans were finally able to receive an answer. We are most appreciative.
During our council meeting, however, we found that there were still a few unanswered questions pertaining to the actual confrontation in the Department of Mysteries and the Ministry of Magic. The council members and I request that you and Headmaster Dumbledore write the Ministry a full account of what happened. Please send your reply by return owl as soon as possible. We thank you for your cooperation.
Cornelius Oswald Fudge
Minister of Magic
Snape sat there in silence, staring blankly at the parchment. The letter was very short, but he knew that it would take them all night to write an extensive report on the events that took place. Just thinking about completing such a task when he was already exhausted caused the Potions Master to groan miserably.
"What is it?" asked the headmaster.
Not wanting to have to think about what the letter said, he handed it to Dumbledore. The fingers that were massaging is left shoulder were lifted, and the letter slipped out of his hand. Then the fingers on his right shoulder tapped him. "Put your head down."
The Potions Master immediately obeyed, figuring that it might ease his headache. He rested his right cheek on the smooth oak surface, his arms flung limply around his head. The throbbing in his temples decreased slightly, and he closed his eyes, his mind beginning to drift. Then a thin hand slipped onto his neck and began to knead gently.
Oh, that did it. He would have to fall asleep, right here, right now, at his desk. The gentle circles being rubbed into his neck were threatening to push him into that blissful sleep he so wanted. His throbbing headache was diminishing at a much faster rate, and he felt himself sink a little deeper into the chintz armchair as his entire body relaxed. He lay there in silence until his mentor breathed the smallest of laughs. "Well, this shouldn't be too hard."
Snape opened his eyes. "Are you kidding? An extensive report like this will take all night to write!"
"Yes, well, perhaps I should tell you why I came up here."
Dumbledore reached into his robes, pulled out a large parchment envelope, and slipped it into one of Snape's hands. The Potions Master stared at it for a moment and, upon realizing what it was, his eyes widened. "Is this what I think it is?"
"Do you think that it is a report on the events that took place in the Department of Mysteries and at the Ministry?"
"I'm assuming it is."
"Well, then you're right."
"But how? When? Did you write this?"
"But headmaster," said Snape, shocked. "This must have taken you hours to write!"
"Well, I suppose it did," said Dumbledore, with a smile. "I expected the Minister to ask for a report on the events in the Department of Mysteries, so I decided to write one in advance. But that's just a copy. I have the original for my personal records, just in case I have to copy it again."
"And you dare to chide me for answering my fan mail!"
"Well, I didn't wake up before sunrise! And I'm not the one suffering from extremely tensed muscles!" said the headmaster in a would-be-stern voice.
"Believe me, if I had had a choice, I wouldn't have woken up at six. As for the 'suffering from extremely tensed muscles' part, we both know that you are as well; you just won't admit it."
Dumbledore laughed. He has me there. "Oh, all right then. I admit it. But you really need to get to bed."
"No; I already told you, I'm too tired."
"Oh, come on, Severus! You'll sleep much better if you do!"
He sighed. "All right, then."
The hand slipped off the Potions Master's neck. Dumbledore hoisted him up and led him into his bedroom. After shutting the door with a snap, he asked, "Is there anything you want before you go to sleep, child?"
"No, I think I'll just take a shower."
"Very well, then. I have to run down to the Hospital Wing to check on some people, but I will be back up shortly."
And with a small snap (compliments of the door), he left the room.
Snape pulled out a black long-sleeved sleep shirt and sleep pants and stepped into the bathroom. He twisted a few of the jewel-encrusted taps that encircled the showerhead, causing a lavender scented flow to spew out. He stood under the flow for nearly ten minutes, letting the warm water wash over his tired figure. After turning off all the taps, he got dressed in the now steam-filled bathroom.
After throwing his towel down the laundry chute, Snape opened the bathroom door and stepped into his bedroom, silently shutting the door behind him. He was instantly met by a much cooler atmosphere than the one in the bathroom, and he shivered, sinking onto the cold stone floor in front of the bathroom door. It's so cold, he thought miserably.
Moments later, Dumbledore came back, closing the bedroom door behind himself. Spotting the trembling figure on the floor, he strode quickly over to the Potions Master. Kneeling next to him, he lifted Snape's chin, and he stared back at Dumbledore with glassy black eyes, his body still shivering violently. When he touched the Potions Master's forehead, the headmaster found that Snape had a fever. My poor child; you're getting sick, he thought, sighing.
Standing up, Dumbledore reached out and lifted Snape up by the elbows, guiding him towards the bed. He folded back the sheets of the Potion Master's bed, which had been made by the house elves earlier, and helped him slip his trembling figure under the warm covers. The Potions Master was covered in warmth up to his neck, and he sighed as his trembling ceased instantly. "Thank you," he said.
"It is I who should be thanking you, child, for writing all those responses to the Ministry," said Dumbledore, pulling up a chair to the Potions Master's bedside.
"But – "
"Oh, all right, then," he said, pushing Snape's shoulder down so that he was lying on his stomach. "You're very welcome, Severus." His hand slipped back onto Snape's neck, continuing the gentle rhythmic circles.
The Potions Master closed his eyes and sighed happily. "And you are most welcome."
Snape's head sank into the pillows, and his entire body went limp under the thick blanket as he began to relax again. The combination of the warm blanket and the massage was what pushed him over the edge, and he finally fell into a blissful sleep.
Thanks for reading! Please review!