A/N: Just another dream in which Harry is attacked by Voldemort through his scar…

(One-Shot)

Sandcastle

In his sleep, the scar seemed to rend itself apart as Voldemort made his presence known. Harry knew that his feeble efforts at Occlumency would never hold, but he had to try. Voldemort could never find out who his mentor was.

Closing his eyes tightly, he imagined a wall built of the kind of stone that Hogwarts was made of; strong, ancient, full of magic. For a few moments it held, and Harry had hope.

Voldemort gave a high maniacal laugh. "You foolish child! Your pathetic efforts are wasted. Give up now!" He waved his hand and the walls began to break up.

From the top down it seemed as if the stone turned to sand, running down like a waterfall to pile up at the base of the wall.

Harry focused his mind, struggling to imagine the sand becoming whole solid stone again. Streams of it reversed itself, flowing backwards and reforming into blocks.

Voldemort waved a skeletal hand; eyes glowing red, teeth bared. "I order you to stop. I am bored with you and I want this to be over." The sand began to run down again.

Harry thought that his head would explode with the agony. He felt as if his insides were flowing out as the sand flowed down.

Suddenly, Ron and Hermione were there, frantically scooping up handfuls of sand and putting them back on top of stone. Harry could not hear them and they could not hear him, as he yelled for them to be careful; Voldemort was here. But they could not keep up, and the walls became shorter and shorter as they continued to dissolve.

Harry knelt beside them, adding his efforts to theirs. The wall was shrinking rapidly and now the waves of the Black Lake were coming in to lap at the base, eating away at it.

Harry imagined a bucket and tried to make bigger mounds of sand more quickly with it. But the walls were almost gone now, and with the bucket, his work looked like that of a child building a sandcastle at the seashore.

His mentor would be so disappointed. This was a pathetic shield if it could even be called that. A flobberworm could break through this. All that time teaching him and this was the best he could do? He was mortified.

In the seconds which he spent feeling sorry for himself, Voldemort laughed again. This time, a wave of his hand conjured a tidal wave from the Black Lake. It washed over the castle walls and when it rolled back Ron and Hermione were gone. The castle was a pile of wet sand; shapeless blobs barely rising up enough to show that there had ever been a castle here at all.

Harry was on his knees. So this is how it would end; not a glorious climatic battle. No hurling of hexes and curses, flashes of light, and the adrenaline rush of beating back the enemy. Voldemort had simply invaded his dreams and destroyed him by destroying the protective walls in his mind. He gave a ragged sigh, closing his eyes against the coming Avada Kedavra, thinking of the world he had failed to save. Voldemort was the victor.

A strong hand grabbed the back of his collar and hauled him to his feet. Harry wondered why Voldemort just didn't cast the Killing Curse and get it over with.

"Do not let your guard down, Harry! Stand up and fight!" Harry opened his eyes and saw that it was Snape who had hold of him, shaking him by the scruff of his neck. He must have let his hopelessness show because the man bared his teeth and growled into his face. "You will not give up. The walls are solid. He is only forcing you to imagine that they have fallen. Look around you!"

Harry did look around. The wall of stone was standing tall, stretching as high as Harry could see, both in height and width. They were becoming stronger with each passing second. He looked at his teacher, question in his eyes.

"The Dark Lord is a master of illusion. He could not truly break the walls down unless he first made you believe they were already down." Black glittering eyes considered him sternly. "You almost gave up."

Harry shuffled his feet, looking through the walls to where he could see Voldemort waving powerless hands. "I thought I had lost. I thought you would be ashamed of me."

"You must guard against his tricks. You are strong enough to keep him out. If you remember this, I will not be disappointed in you."

They both looked through the now transparent stone. Voldemort was glaring at the one who had turned traitor. Now he knew who Potter's protector was. Now he knew who had never really been a part of his Inner Circle for a long time.

Voldemort's voice was a hiss surging over them as they watched his fury rising. "You had better spend your time saying goodbye, my old friend. Your death is now the price of glory for any Death Eater who brings me your head." In a whirl of black diaphanous robes, he vanished from sight.

Harry looked up at the man beside him. "He knows that you have been helping me. I'm sorry." His green eyes were filled with feelings of horror, wondering at the fate promised by the Dark Lord for his mentor.

Standing stiffly, arms crossed over his chest, Snape answered, "He has suspected for a long time." His black robes billowed around him and Harry knew that this man would stand beside him to the end. He was the foundation of Harry's defenses and he had taught him everything he needed to know. "It is no matter now." He looked up and around at the solid stone that stood guard in front of them. "Your sandcastle is enough to protect us both."

It would have to be.

Finite