Title: Pandora's Gate
Author: Raven Dancer
Rating: PG-13

summary: Fred and George discover a new incantation.

Professor Binns delivered his lecture on the 1654 conclave to a sleepy group of 7th years. Not that it bothered him. It was preferable than lecturing to an awake group any day. If they were awake they'd ask questions. Questions required answers. This used up his precious time. Time he'd rather spend lecturing the finer points of the 1654 Conclave.

He'd already lost nearly five minutes due to the Beasley twins. Or was that Teasley? No matter. Suffice to say the window had to be opened to air out the latest of odiferous bombs the infernal children had developed. Didn't bother him, being a ghost, but the rest of the students turned a peculiar shade of green before the smoke fully cleared.

Still, adjustments had to be made so he shortened a bit here and there to accommodate the time lost. A shame, really. History was utterly fascinating; death had not stopped him from his need to share it in its entirety. Unfortunately, very few students shared that view. Come to think of it, no student shared that view.

So he clipped a bit of the descriptions of the incantations that had been presented. He simply described Pandora's Gate as a portal to the dream world. And the subsequent presentation on Clyven's Theory of Splinching was fairly well known and didn't bear repeating past noting it's title. He pressed on describing the delegates' choices of furnishings and atmosphere in more detail.

Somehow the entire class made it through the entire 80 minutes without rioting. After nearly 7 full years of Binn's lectures they were nearly comatose as soon as they sat down in the ghost's classroom. As they stretched and collected their bags, Fred leaned over to his brother.

What was that gate all about then? he asked quietly.

Pandora's Gate? I don't know. Didn't he say something
about dreams? A portal? George replied.

Let me ask him, and Fred zipped up to the front of the room and conferred with Professor Binns.

Professor, what exactly was Pandora's Gate? Fred asked politely. Binns looked down at him a bit confused. Normally no one pursued any point from his lectures.

Pandora's Gate? It is reputed to be an opening to the
dream world. I don't recall the incantation being performed
since the 1652 Conclave. It's was rather difficult and the
outcome wasn't particularly positive, if I recall, which he did, mostly negative outcomes as the one wizard nearly went crazy after returning from the gate. He wasn't able to mention this as Fred thanked him warmly and turned to leave. Shrugging, as much as a ghost could, Binns returned to his room and his dusty volumes to prepare for the next lesson.

It was all Fred could talk about for the rest of the day. A dream gate! It would be wonderful to be able to go into the dream world and experience some of the things he'd dreamed. Although he was a little sketchy as to what exactly his dreams were, George thought.

What if it were a nightmare? asked Angelina, would
you want to go into one of your nightmares?

asserted Fred. Anyway, Binns didn't mention
nightmares, only dreams. I bet we can control what
dreams we'd see, he rushed on excited.

I don't know, Fred, this is pretty bizarre, even
for you, his brother cautioned.

Well, we can at least research the gate, can't we? I
mean, what's the point of being able to access the full
library? As 7th years they could go into the restricted section. It was pretty boring for the most part, although some of the books were great, full of gruesome details of nasty potions and incantations. They'd gotten some solid ideas for their line of gags from there.

Ok, we'll look, Angelina grudgingly agreed, but if it's
dangerous, we're just looking, ok?

answered the twins together.

As it progressed, it was Fred who did the research and nosing about, having to go through many dusty volumes of old history. It was hard reading, so much translation was needed to read the old style writing; some in latin on top of it all. Fred realized he'd been lucky the conclave had been held in England otherwise all the reports would have been in German or French or some other language impossible for him to read. Latin he could almost manage.

After over a week of searching he finally found a passage written about the gate. It was difficult to decipher, the pages old and brittle, but he did find the incantation with a list of ingredients that needed to be brewed. He copied this out exactly as it appeared and put away the book.

I wonder if Snape knows about this gate, muttered Angelina as she peered over the list.

agreed George, I mean, it involves a potion and
he does know that field pretty well.

He might. Do you want to go ask him? Fred asked rolling his eyes. They were suppose to check with him when they worked on brewing their potions for class. Plus they ran their other ideas past him as well, since he could spot a problem quickly. After they nearly killed him earlier that year they had agreed to show him all their work. He'd agreed not to tell anyone about their ideas before they were patented.

Naw, this isn't like a new potion, said George, it's old
and it's been tested. Let's see if we can get the
ingredients and find an old classroom to work in.

You want in, Angelina? Fred asked politely. She looked from brother to brother.

Sure, why not? Let's wait til Friday night so we don't
have to be up early for class or quidditch practice, she agreed. The twins found a lot of fun things to do and she didn't want to miss this dream' gate.

It took a little longer than they imagined; requiring a trip into Hogsmeade to buy a few items. At least none of the ingredients raised suspicion. The cauldron was easy as was finding an old room. They went down into the dungeons and discovered a perfectly dusty old room to perform the incantation. Using a marking charm to keep the room in place they put all their things inside and locked the door.

This Friday lookout dreams! gloated George.

Did you ever work out if you can control what dream
you want to enter? asked Angelina.

Not really, replied Fred, although I'm sure it's not
a problem.

That was a problem. Really.

Severus Snape woke with a jolt. Something was not right. He could feel it. His skin was crawling. What was wrong?

Throwing on robes Snape left his rooms and followed the feelings of dismay. It was strange to feel all the fear and sadness roiling in the atmosphere. Definitely stronger as he went down the hallways toward the old rooms that weren't in use.

He walked by one door and realized that the unsettled waves were coming from inside. He pushed into the room and found Fred Weasley and Angelina Johnson. There was a cauldron simmering on the floor near the wall. The wall........

What is going on? he growled.

Several floors up and a tower over Albus Dumbledore had the same feeling crawl over him. He looked about but none of the wards or protectants were activated. Yet the feeling didn't diminish. He pulled on his robe and started down his stairway.

As he made his way towards the dungeons (something drew him down) he wondered if something had happened to Snape. Turning a corner he nearly ran into Remus Lupin.

What's going on, Lupin asked, eyes alert.

Not sure, but something seems to have happened in
the dungeons.

Do you think Severus was brewing something? Lupin nervously queried.

I don't know any more than you, Remus. Let's get
down there and find out, and the older wizard took the lead down the ancient stairs into the dungeons.

First, Snape's rooms were empty, although it looked like he'd gotten up not too long ago and was in a hurry. Not in the lab or office, either.

I think it's this way, Lupin moved down the hall towards the part of the castle no longer used.

I feel it, too, Dumbledore said uneasily. Together they walked down the dark hallway, torch light far and few between until they reached an open doorway with light spilling out of it. Pushing in they found two students, a cauldron, and a huge black vortex spinning lazily on the far wall.

The vortex neither drew them closer nor repelled them. It simply was. The two students stood huddled together against the far wall watching it.

Weasley? Fred? Lupin asked, priding himself he could tell the twins apart.

Dumbledore called to the girl. Both students looked at them and suddenly sprang forward, not stopping until each was holding on to one or the other wizards' arms.

Professor Lupin, Headmaster, it's been nearly 10 minutes
since he's gone in and George has been gone nearly
thirty, began Fred in a rush.

Professor Snape said to close the vortex if he didn't
come back in half an hour, added Angelina quickly.

Dumbledore shushed them both.

Exactly what have you done? he asked firmly.

We opened Pandora's Gate, Fred said weakly. We heard
about it from Professor Binns and thought it would be
fun to go into it, visit our dreams.

We didn't know it opened up bad dreams, said Angelina miserably.

We got the incantation out of an old book and brewed the
potion. It was all very easy once we had it lined up, Fred continued.

George wanted to go first and neither of us argued
the point. It seemed so dark to us, but George wanted
a go, said Angelina, shaking.

He was gone nearly twenty minutes when Professor
Snape came in. He looked everything over and said he'd
go get George if he could. That we should close the
vortex if he didn't get back out, Fred added.

What the hell is Pandora's Gate? asked Lupin, rather taken aback by the rush of conversation.

It's a portal into the world of dreams, said Dumbledore.
It is a dark spell, and if you go inside you experience
your dreams awake. Generally the strongest dreams,
fearful, dark dreams. It was first opened nearly five
hundred years ago and it drove one wizard insane. It was
banned at several conclaves and finally by most of the
wizarding world. He looked at the two students gravely.
I don't recall it being opened in decades, no one has
ever found a use for it.

All four sets of eyes returned to the slowly spinning blackness.

Fifteen minutes, said Fred softly, fifteen minutes left.

Dumbledore shook off the young man's grip and approached the vortex. Lifting his wand he lit it.

he called, and the wand lit up brightly. He moved the light around the vortex, clockwise, then counterclockwise.

SEVERUS? COME BACK TO ME SEVERUS! he yelled into the void. It swirled, small sparkles accentuated the surface.

It's not done that before, Angelina whispered to Lupin and Fred.

there was pain in that voice now as the Headmaster called again. The ripples of light flashes continued. The wizard stepped to one side, judging the distance across when the vortex bulged out momentarily, then sucked in for a few nerve-wracking seconds, finally bursting out, sending a dark figure tumbling across the floor.

Snape cursed the students for pulling this stunt. He cursed himself for walking into the vortex. If he'd truly been the bastard they all believed him to be he'd never had done it. What was one less Weasley in the world? Weren't there 6 or 8 others? But he wasn't a bastard. He knew that deep inside. So he entered the portal fully aware of what it was and what lay inside.

It wasn't really a land of dreams, no matter what the old texts said. It was not even an alternate universe, although some wizard/philosophers had argued that point vehemently over the years. It was a void that needed filling. He had ascribed to the theory it caused nerve endings in the brain to fire that hadn't fired for years causing a variety of memories to come to the forefront of thought. Why these buried memories were almost always fear-filled didn't concern him at the moment. They just were.

He had studied the portal as a student here. He had the advantage of being able to read several more languages than these students. He'd researched it for fun' actually. Something an aspiring death eater would do and it impressed Malfoy's little band greatly. They never tried to open it, of course. It would have served no purpose at that time. But it was fodder for late night discussions as a retaliation piece.

Now he was inside it, searching for a young man who'd nearly killed him once. He'd already walked through (these were images and had no substance) Albus being tortured twice. That was nearly enough to send him screaming out of the portal only because he remembered those dreams quite well. Too well.

He'd just stumbled through an old remnant of his childhood, a disgusting piece involving his father and the closet when he saw a huddled figure; one that looked fairly substantial.

he called, his voice vibrating in his head. That would shake loose some bad dreams for certain he thought miserably.

The young man flinched, but stayed curled up tight. Right. He probably figured spectacularly in many of Fred's dreams, come to think of it. He was feared by a lot of the students and he decided George feared him, too.

gods, he hated the deception he had to keep up for all these years. Very few people knew who the real Snape was. Possibly only Dumbledore, actually.

Kneeling, he touched the trembling body.

George? It's all right. It's me, Professor Snape. I'm
real and I'm going to help you, he tried to soothe the young man.

a weak reply. Then suddenly the entire body launched into him grabbing and holding on for dear life. He could feel George starting to cry.

sshh, it's ok, George, he managed, remembering how he'd been comforted by Dumbledore on several occasions.

It's going to be ok, we're going to leave now. Just
stand up, that's a boy, and walk with me, he managed to pull the shaking student upright and begin to move. He glanced around. His father stood shaking his fist at him on one side. Towards his left was another memory starting to firm up, one he certainly did not want to view. He realized this was a real memory, not a dream. Something that confirmed his firing old nerve endings theory. He shoved the introspection aside, glad George was unable to see his pain. The whip would start soon.

he heard his name as from a great distance and forced himself to open his eyes once more.

come back to me, he heard Dumbledore's voice. What was that way over there? Through his twisting body hanging from, no, he couldn't voice that, even internally.

Light. A warm light. He pulled on George and started to walk through the whipping post on to the light and Albus's voice.

The figure stopped rolling when it hit the far wall with a thud. It resolved into two persons. The one burrowed into the robes of the other. Snape lifted his head.

Close the portal, he rasped then turned all his attention back to the shaking, crying child in his arms.

George, you're safe. You're back. The dreams are all
gone now, he began to rock back and forth, continuing to soothe the distraught young man. Lupin and Dumbledore closed the vortex and discarded the cauldron's brew.

It's going to be ok. Well, except for the detention which
I'm going to give all three of you. But in light of what you've
just gone through it won't be so bad, a small sobbing chuckle managed to come through.

N-nothing can compare, he choked out, still holding on tightly to the one person he'd never considered a savior.

The rest of the people in the room came closer, wanting to see their friends and family were all right. If Fred and Angelina hadn't been so frightened they would have been flabbergasted by Snape's comforting George.

Now, you need to go have some hot chocolate. A big
mug. And possibly some of that chocolate cake you
students seem to dote on. Then up to Madame Pomfrey.
Ask her for a dreamless sleeping draught. OK? You'll
sleep very well and have no dreams, Snape kept rocking.

No dreams? came the thin, frightened voice.

No dreams, George, I promise, said the Potions Master firmly. He carefully unwrapped him from his robes and stood up slowly. He hurt in places he didn't know he still had.

Fred, take care of him tonight. All three of you see me
tomorrow after lunch, he growled a little more, don't
try to wake me early!

Dumbledore said, take them to the kitchens and
be sure they all eat too much chocolate. Then all three
should have some help sleeping tonight, ok? The students all nodded in agreement and allowed Lupin to herd them out of the dungeons. The door closed and thinking he was alone, Snape slid back down onto the ground, drawing his knees up tight to his chest.

gods, that was the worst thing that'd happened to him in a long time. He had be so frightened, thoroughly frightened, because he knew what was going to happen to him. He wiped at his face and realized he'd been crying all along, too.

Someone else needs some hot chocolate, I believe, said an incredibly calm voice at his ear. Snape looked up into the blue eyes.

I can handle this, Headmaster, he said shortly.

I know you can, Severus, but I can't, replied the older man.

Come with me, I happen to have a fresh pot waiting on
my table. I think I even can scare up a piece of divinity
for you. Snape felt himself pulled up off the cold floor.

Warm arms surrounded him and he buried his head in his friend's shoulder.

It's ok to cry, Severus. It's ok.

Receiving permission, he did.