rabbit: (confiscating Jinx's copy of Constantine) "Stop that, you're scaring the children. They'll all have nightmares."

Jinx: (steeples fingers and grins): "Yay!"


Chapter 2

Lucius Malfoy found himself Utterly Unable to fall asleep.

After an hour or so of tossing and turning, he found himself clinging to his twisted, silken sheets and a theory: All this appalling wakefulness might be due to my current existence within a fever-dream. After all, you can't fall asleep when you're already asleep, can you!

After ten minutes' more consideration of this possibility, Lucius was grinding his teeth and absolutely certain that since this was actually Sev's demented dream, there was No Good Reason Whatsoever why everyone else shouldn't be able to Get Some Sleep.

Malfoy bundled himself into an extremely fluffy, black bathrobe and matching slippers, all Morriswrought with hand-embroidered dragons. After a few tries, he found his way out of his very expensive bedcurtains and waded out of their trailing velvet folds. He shook out his white-gold hair and sleeked it back afresh, before restraining it once more within a ribbon of black silk. Imperiously lifting his pointed chin, he strode across the room to Snape's bed, whence a flickering light could be glimpsed through the gaps in the dusty and somewhat mothgnawed curtains.

(No. It's not that sort of dream.— rabbit)

Lucius hauled back the drapery and was confronted by a wall of books.

Presumably in reaction to their looming O.W.L.S., Sev had gone squirrelly and gathered all the tomes he could find and made himself a snug den wherein he could hide away until the winds changed.

Lucius paced around the bed, searching for a sufficiently large gap in all that formidable knowledge. Eventually he found a crawlspace, which Sev must use during trips to the washroom. Frowning, Malfoy wormed his way carefully through the bricklaid tomes until, tousled and somewhat agitated, he found himself kneeling amidst rumpled quilts in what seemed a very small space almost completely filled by an outsprawled and black-pyjama'd Severus Snape, who had his overlarge nose buried in a book.

(No, it really ISN'T that sort of dream. -- Jinx)

Sev was reading by the light of the Blazing Budgerigar, which was preening itself upon his shoulder.

Lucius glared at the bird, and demanded testily, "Why doesn't it ignite your hair?"

Sev mumbled absently around the quill clenched in his teeth, "It would never do me any harm." He frowned at his book, shook his head crossly, and made an impatient notation in the margins of the text.

Lucius glared around at the forbidding assemblage of facts surrounding them, and shivered with a sudden and unpleasant sense of occupying a dim, padded cell. He said slowly, "I know your clothing and personal effects are fireproofed... but what about all these books?" He added more sharply, "I inquire only because that bird's blazing."

Sev shrugged dismissively and muttered, "If they can't withstand the harsh light of Truth, they're no real loss."

The bird chirruped emphatically, and winked at Lucius.

Malfoy pointedly ignored this and said lightly through bared teeth, "I thought you hated animals."

"I do." Snape looked suddenly furious, and frankly demented. Malfoy wished dearly that they weren't in such close and nigh-inescapable quarters as Sev spat venomously, "I utterly dislike sheep, I eschew three-headed dogs, and I'm now thoroughly convinced that the only good thing about hippogriffs is that they may be served with either a red or a white wine if unexpected company calls."

After a very long silence, Malfoy ventured, "So why keep the Burbling Briquette with you, night and day?"

"It's the only friend I've got," sighed Snape.

This was inarguable.

And now Sev was looking as bleak as a seashore in January, and gloomily gathering more books onto the stack at his elbow, with the methodical impulsiveness of a chipmunk collecting seeds.

The bird began singing, with all the vigor and truehearted optimism of a plucky, red-haired orphan perched on FDR's desk.

No one was going to get any sleep if this continued and Lucius veritably shouted in protest, "Don't be silly, Sev! We're your friends!"

The ensuing gelid silence was interrupted only by a cricket's conscientious chirruping somewhere high amid the rafters. The bird and Snape both stared at Lucius, with inscrutable shoebutton eyes.

Malfoy breezed on with a cocktail party host's Gracious and Attentive Interest, "So! Does your incendiary little intimate have a name?"

"Lucky Strike," answered Snape dryly.

Malfoy's brilliant smile slipped.

This was A Bad Sign. Sev never named his ingredients.

There was another chill silence, interrupted at last by the bird's cheeping and the skritching of Snape's quill.

Lucius ventured a bit frantically, "Look, maybe all this is my fever-dream! I might have, you know, been overcome by fumes from one of your... more elaborate experiments, and for all we know I'm lying unconscious in the Hospital Wing!"

"No," Snape informed him leadenly. He peered through tangles of greasy hair at Lucius and explained glibly, "You are currently hidden away in Azkaban, keeping your bleached-blond head down and praying it'll stay atop your shoulders, since you were foolish enough to try disposing of evidence whilst attempting get even with Arthur Weasley... and so ineptly caused the destruction of a piece of the Dark Lord's very soul."

Snape drew breath only to add, "Narcissa's hysterical, of course, tediously so... and Draco is an ungrateful brat who's got a promising future as a human shield."

He bared his teeth in something that was not really a smile, and opined, "All this while we've suspected that the family name Malfoy hinted at a certain... tendency, shared by your kin, to disregard all others whilst striving with predatory tenacity for success." Snape chuckled like a clogged brook, and shook his head, pronouncing, "Now we all know it's a warning that your family can't be trusted with the least little thing."

"Your family tree's rotting in the middle of a miasmatic swamp," Lucius sniped, "in case you've forgotten. And God only knows what's tangled in the branches."

Snape glared at him, and abruptly grabbed a small, battered book and stashed it inside his pyjama shirt as he snapped, "At least my family tree doesn't epitomize the delicate culmination of bored socialites' fussy little efforts in topiary self-expression."

Lucius stared at him, all that long and illustrious way down his fine, patrician nose.

The book Sev had hidden beneath his shirt tumbled onto the bedcovers. Snape grabbed it and concealed it behind his back, grumbling under his breath as he snugged it into the waistband of his trousers.

Lucius inquired lightly of the Disheveled Wretch, "I don't suppose it bothers you in the least that you're Raving."

"Not here, no," Snape answered tightly. "That's the whole point exactly. It's only what one should expect during forced recovery from a hippogriff attack." He shuddered, then smiled abruptly with only half of his mouth as he realized, "Now, that's something I have in common with Draco... which might actually give us a talking point, if he doesn't just flee screaming when next he sees me..."

Lucius, who was considering fleeing screaming himself if Sev didn't start making an ounce of sense sometime soon, demanded, "Exactly how long will this nonsense go on?"

"Oh, I'm sure it'll seem just endless," sighed Snape. "Our little misadventures always do, when I'm drugged right out of my mind and all and sundry are dragged along for the trip."

"Delightful," opined Lucius, so dryly the syllables risked ignition by the burbling bird.

The book Sev had concealed fell onto the bedcovers. He grabbed for it but Lucius was closer, and snatched it up.

"Advanced Potion-Making," Malfoy read from the cover. "Didn't you outgrow this text years ago?"

Snape strangled out, "It has sentimental value."

"Oh, yes... I gave it to you when we were First Years, and we needed some Disingenuous Distillation to complete a project," Lucius reminisced, and frowned. "I still wonder sometimes whether all those test doses we slipped into Pettigrew's pumpkin juice hadn't some unexpectedly lasting effect." He shrugged that off as Someone Else's Problem and opened the book to its title page, which he had neatly inscribed: Remember to use your powers for good— but what good are unused powers?

Malfoy chuckled fondly. "If this book could talk... "

Snape went chalky and grabbed the text. He could not quite keep ahold of it somehow and Malfoy yanked it back beyond the pallid swot's reach, holding it over his head and asking bewilderedly, "What's got into you?"

"About a pint of Wrings-It-Out-of-You Remedy," groaned Snape, who was staring appalled at the tattered text. He jumped as if pinstuck and yipped, "I feel all at odds and so I was checking my notes on that brew, Luke, I really need that book back now," he insisted urgently.

Malfoy, wary that this night could get Even Worse, flipped through the pages until he found the receipt. Snape's handwriting all but obscured the printed words, like kudzu veritably overwhelming less ambitious flora. "What's all this nonsense about a Half-Blood Prince?" he wondered. "And why are you taking that into account," he asked more slowly, "in your modifications of the ingredients list?"

"I'm anemic. I'd really like that book back now, Luke."

Malfoy recommenced flipping through the pages, starting to snigger derisively as he discovered more of these Delusions of Respectability. He murmured interestedly, "So this is what goes on inside that greasy head of yours. What a peculiarly warped sense of entitlement you've cultivated." He just had to laugh. "What on Earth would you be a prince of?"

"Bloody darkness," clipped Snape, and swiped the book back. He looked furious.

Lucius only laughed again, as at a puppy trying to undo a bootlace. "You really are thoroughly delusional."

"Hence our otherwise inexplicable presence here," Snape growled impatiently.

"Oh, right, yes, which brings us back to the purpose of my little visit to your Cozy Bed," said Malfoy keenly.

(No, it STILL isn't THAT kind of dream. - rabbit and Jinx.)

"I don't seem to be able to sleep," Lucius explained tightly. "I suspect you're the cause of this."

Sev gazed at him guardedly.

Lucius went on, "I was wondering what we might do to ameliorate our situation."

(Look, we can't help it, when Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape wind up in bed together, they just talk like this, okay? -rabbit and Jinx, splashing Godiva Liqueur over half-pint helpings of raspberry sorbet.)

Lucius sighed, "Since this is your fever-dream, it seems I can't rest while you're wakeful. I wondered if you might have any useful suggestions to resolve this dilemma?"

Snape murmured abstractedly, "Well, there are quite a number of varying factors influencing my predicament, but really there's nothing to be done until the potion completes its work." He shook his head, a bit dazedly. "Really, no one should ever take a dose that strong, but there's just No Time for anything subtler-"

"Oh, leave off, you're beginning to Italicize," Lucius interrupted impatiently. He suggested keenly, "I don't suppose you'd have the grace to simply faint."

"I've already done that, that's why we're here," Sev explained testily.

"So you're lying senseless somewhere, and I can't sleep 'til you wake up."

"That's one way to look at it," Sev allowed.

Malfoy thought this over carefully and asked, "What if you were to... fall into a deeper sleep?"

"I'd be in a coma."

Lucius brightened, declaring, "You were in a coma last time, and everyone got enough sleep."

"And more than enough sheep. Yes, I remember."

Malfoy let this marvel pass unremarked, instead seizing the battered potions textbook. He looked steadily into the Blazing Budgie's beady little eyes, intoning, "This is for our own good." As the bird ducked, he hauled off and smote Snape right across the forehead with the much-abused tome.

Sev keeled over obligingly.

The Incandescent Irritation started to sing again, all the while scribing vivid spirals as it circled anxiously above Snape's bestilled form.

"Good night, Sev," Lucius said conclusively, and pried the book free of Snape's hair so that the deranged swot might be comfortable enough to sleep 'til dawn.

Malfoy crawled out of the overcrowded bed with some difficulty, and strode back to his own lushly appointed four-poster as if nothing untoward had happened. Looking forward to the commencement of classes on the morrow, he snuggled back into his silken sheets and hugged his overfluffed pillow close, and settled thus to The Sleep of the Just and the Righteous.