Snape felt his stomach growl from hunger, but he didn't want to touch the tray of food that was still on the nightstand. The room was dark, and he didn't want to wake up Weasley. He couldn't stand the boy staring at him while eating. Snape closed his eyes, and tried desperately to fall asleep, but he was unsuccessful.
Ron lay in his bed, eyes wide open too. He wanted to sleep, but didn't feel tired at all. He just lay there, staring into nothingness.
Hours passed, and there was not a sound coming from the room. Both were in bed, staring blankly into the dark air, both wide awake. It had started raining outside, and they could hear a storm approaching.
Suddenly a ray of light flashed, and both saw straight into the other's eyes. Ron flinched, and broke off the stare.
"Er…" he cleared his throat. "I didn't know you were awake." He started looking everywhere else, as if he had been caught doing something he wasn't supposed to.
"Well, I am," Snape mumbled, "And as were you, or so it would seem."
Ron hesitated. "Well, yeah. Apparently…"
Ron was thirsty and really needed to go to the bathroom again. But it was dark, and he couldn't reach any of the lights. Neither did he have his wand, which could really come in handy right now. He hesitated before finally asking his teacher.
"I'm sorry, professor Snape, but can you reach any of the lights?"
"Why?" Snape wondered.
"Er… I don't have my wand, and I can't reach the lights, and I really have to… you know…"
Snape reached out his hand and lit one of the laps next to his bed.
"Thanks," Ron said humbly, and rose from his bed. Carefully he made his way to the bathroom.
Snape took advantage of the fact that the lights were on, and that Weasley was temporarily out of the room. He grabbed a slice of bread from the tray next to him took a bite. It was dry and not very tasty as it had lay there for hours, but still, it was food and he was famished.
He was in the middle of chewing on his second piece as he heard Ron re-entering the room. He stopped chewing immediately and threw the rest of the bread back on the tray.
Ron stopped by a small table with a pitcher of water and some glasses; he poured himself a glass and drank it at once. He refilled it and looked at his professor, who looked like he had frozen.
"Do you want some?" he asked the man, who nodded as a reply.
Ron poured another glass, and walked extremely carefully back to the two beds, concentrating really hard not to fall or spill anything.
He handed the glass to his professor who took it without speaking. Ron put down his own glass, and fell back on his bed.
Again, the two patients were back to staring into the air.
Then Ron decided to go for it.
"Professor?" he asked carefully.
"What?" Snape grunted back. "Do you want to play some chess, maybe?"
Ron expected a tirade of insults being thrown back at him, but it never came.
"I mean, I got this set of wizard chess here, and since neither of us seems to be able to sleep I was just thinking that…"
"Will it stop you from talking?" Snape asked.
Ron didn't quite hear him, but noticed that he had said something.
"I said, will it stop you from talking?" Snape hissed back.
"Sure," Ron replied without thinking.
"Fine," Snape said.
Ron was shocked. Had he actually agreed?
"But you have to come over here. I'm not moving an inch."
Ron grabbed the chair that Dumbledore had placed next to his bed, and shoved it across the floor. Snape moaned loudly, and Ron realized that he was making a racket.
"Sorry," he apologized and went back to get the chess set. He set it up on Snape's bed, and Snape moved the first piece.
They played for a while. Both men impressed with the other's skills. Neither had played against an equally good opponent in a very long time, but neither spoke a word during the game. Not until Ron claimed his victory by "Check-mate".
Snape was staring at the board analyzing where he had gone wrong, and demanded a rematch at once. Ron's lips formed a tiny smile as he set up the board for a new game.
"Chocolate frog?" Ron offered Snape half of the frog Hermione had given him. Snape took the piece of chocolate, and merely nodded as to say thanks.
After several hours, the score was 7-6 to Ron, and Severus Snape was focusing hard not to lose. Neither of them noticed that the daylight was now peering through the windows.
Madam Pomfrey walked through the door around 7 o'clock and found her two patients deep involved in the game.
"Oh, are you up already?" she asked them.
The two wizards looked at each other and just nodded to Madam Pomfrey, then focusing at the game again.
"Well I'll be getting breakfast then. I'll be back before you know it." She smiled widely as she walked out of the room.
Ron and Snape continued playing their game, ignoring the healer completely.
Madam Pomfrey came back into the infirmary pushing a trolley. On the trolley were two trays with food, pumpkin juice and tea, and an old muggle gramophone.
"Well boys, I got this Phomagram, or something, from professor Dumbledore. He thought it would make your day a bit brighter and cheerful."
"Now that is just great," Snape muttered sarcastically.
Madam Pomfrey luckily didn't hear it as she sat the gramophone on one of the tables. She gave the two men their trays, and they decided to put the game on pause for a while to eat while the toast and tea were still hot.
They sat in different beds, eating and drinking without speaking or looking at each other, while Madam Pomfrey was wandering around the room, pulling the curtains and fluffing the pillows on the unused beds. She went over to the gramophone and tried to put on one of the records that Dumbledore had given her.
"Now, wouldn't a bit of music do you good?" she smiled at her two patients and looked back at the gramophone. "Just give me a minute."
She obviously didn't know what she was doing, because after a while, both Ron and Snape sat in their beds, covering their ears from all the scratching and noise that were coming from both the gramophone and Madam Pomfrey.
Ron glanced carefully at his professor and could swear that he saw a tiny smile appear on his face between all the raising of the eyebrows and rolling of eyes. Something the former potions master of course would refuse to ever have done.
After a while Madam Pomfrey had finally managed to get some sort of music come out of the speaker.
"Now this is a man called…" She looked down at the spinning record and tried to read the name. "Dean Martin." She finally concluded before she moved against the door again, and stepped out of the room.
Snape felt dozy after staying up all night and now also full of toast and tea, but there was no way that he would forfeit the game they were playing. He was so sure that this time the victory was his, so he looked at Ron and asked.
"Shall we continue?"
Ron swallowed down his last bit of food, drank the last sip of his juice and nodded.
Ron was once again sitting on the chair next to Snape's bed, both focusing hard on the game. The music in the background wasn't that bad, they thought, but none of them said anything about it.
The game was intense, but finally Ron got a big grin on his face.
"Check-mate," he said, and his Bishop stabbed Snape's King.
Snape moaned. He couldn't believe he had lost. He was so sure this time. He kept looking at the board, almost hoping to see some way that Ron had made a mistake, but he couldn't find one.
Then a new song started playing, and both wizards froze immediately when Dean Martin started singing.
You're nobody 'till somebody loves you.
You're nobody 'till somebody cares.
You may be king, you may possess the world and its gold,
but gold won't bring you happiness when you're growing old.
They looked at each other, both knowing exactly what made the other freeze. Both were reminded of that dreadful evening that started this whole mess.
After something that seemed like hours, Snape whispered so quietly that it was almost impossible to hear, not meeting the boy's eyes:
"You're not nobody, Mr. Weasley. You are somebody."
Ron swallowed a lump in his throat and replied carefully.
"You are somebody, too Professor."
Both knew that this was the closest thing to an apology they would ever get from one another, but both were okay with that.