Title: Stargazing

Summary: The beauty of the night skies, and the story of the spaces between them.

Disclaimer: Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore are not, and never will be, mine. No matter how hard I try that is not going to change any time soon.

Rating: PG (just to be safe)

A beautiful, velvet-black sky, littered with countless blazing stars, reflecting the light of the cold, winter's moon.

As one solitary figure stood, head raised upwards, just watching the sky.

One could spend a lifetime doing just that, studying the heavens, for it was forever shifting, clouds constantly changing, and stars suddenly stirring.

It was this unpredictable temperament that so attracted the dark figure to the skies; you could not hope to foresee its next move.

It was in control.

Its dazzling, yet dark beauty could enchant, while grey, looming clouds could just as easily repel.

That's what the shadowy form liked most; it could keep its distance so effortlessly. And the freedom. The power.

An odd feeling swept through the figure, a sense he could not quite place. Something that had been stirred by the word freedom.

"Out stargazing, are we Professor Snape?"

The voice seemed to glide from nowhere and Severus recognized it instantly, and with that recognition came a different sensation.

A sudden rush of inexplicable anger.

It almost startled him, but suddenly, without warning, Severus wanted to turn and run, he wanted nothing to do with those deep, pitying eyes and that infuriatingly calm, tender voice.

"Oh it is such a magnificent night."

That simple sentence caused such a startling reaction in the Potions Master. It made his blood boil as rage engulfed him.

He had come out here to be alone; he wanted nothing to do with that damned old fool.

Dumbledore had no right to comment on the night Severus had claimed for his own.

Severus was actually trembling now. In the back of his mind he knew it was irrational, but some part of him blamed the Headmaster for everything.

His lack of response was, of course, not lost on Dumbledore.

"You are troubled Severus." He said softly, still watching the stars.

It was not a question.

How dare he make such an accusation?

The dam Severus had kept welled shut suddenly burst. "You presume to know me?" He spat venomously. "To think for me?"

Diamond-blue eyes bored into dark depths, "Severus I-"

"No. I don't care what you have to say!" Furiously Severus spun around, turning his back to the Headmaster.

For a few moments there was silence, then Dumbledore said softly, "Do you know what I love most about the night sky?"

Severus snorted, "How am I to know? The stars, I presume."

"The stars, yes." Dumbledore's voice was almost inaudible, floating upon the night air. "That is what most people would assume. What I enjoy most about the night sky is not the stars, but the black spaces between them. It reminds us all that even in the midst of something cold and dark there will always be light. Always."

Slowly Severus shut his eyes, wishing he could just slip away from the anger coursing through his body.

He hated Dumbledore.

He hated the way the old man looked at him, with all the sympathy in the world.

He hated the way the Headmaster spoke to him, voice tender and patient

But above all else he hated the way Dumbledore cared so deeply for him. It made no sense, but sometimes Severus wished Dumbledore would just stop worrying about him altogether.

That would make things so much easier. That way Severus could just shut himself down. Collapse from the inside out.

Dumbledore would never let him. The Headmaster would stand beside him no matter what.

Yes Dumbledore would protect him. Attempt to shield him from all the harm of the cruel world around them.

But that was something not even the great Albus Dumbledore could achieve.

Severus flinched when a hand was soothingly placed on his shoulder, but he found he didn't even have the energy to pull away. And some part of his mind didn't want to.

Gradually beautiful onyx eyes blinked open, staring upwards at the blurring stars.

Severus knew he could never look at the sky in the same way again.

The daytime would never be as blue, and the night never as hauntingly breathtaking. But he knew the sky would always attract or repel as it desired, it would always be in control.

Already the stars had shifted positions, making the spaces between them even larger. Dumbledore's words drifted back to him.

"What I enjoy most about the night sky is not the stars, but the black spaces between them. It reminds us all that even in the midst of something cold and dark there will always be light. Always."

A sigh of pure exhaustion ran through his body, and the hand on his shoulder increased its pressure ever so slightly.

For a fleeting moment Severus wanted nothing more then to fling himself into the elder man's arms and completely break down, but he quickly forced it away.

Again his weary eyes found the sky, though this time they did not focus on the dazzling stars overhead.

"It reminds us all that even in the midst of something cold and dark there will always be light. Always."

No, not always.

Not for me.

Thank you for reading! I'm not too sure about this one; I was fighting through a bad case of writer's block when I wrote it. Please tell me what you think so I can make it better.