Disclaimer: Not mine—all JKR's, and, in this case, WB's; appropriate lines from the OotP film.
Author's Note: After a 3am Order of the Phoenix watch with a few of my good mates, Snape's pyjamas (or lack thereof) became a big topic of discussion. Why? I don't know. It was three in the morning.
Anyway...this is what might have happened after the film version of OotP after Harry has his vision about Mr. Weasley, though I've brought in a few details from the books and mangled it from there. :) If you can forgive the slight twist of canon...enjoy!
EDIT 11 AUGUST: Thank you very much to my reviewers; apparently there's a glitch which both prevents me from accessing them on this site and from replying to them via the reply link in the email. Regardless, I have read your reviews and am very appreciative of them, and will try to reply to you individually as soon as possible. Thank you again!
"LOOK AT ME!"
Minerva supposed it was lucky that she was so tired and confused, or else Mr. Potter would have been receiving a very stern telling off from her. No one spoke to the headmaster that way—especially a student—but a reprimand seemed to be the farthest thing from Albus's mind as he stared at Harry curiously. Perhaps emboldened by this, Harry continued, though his voice was suddenly coloured by the fear and doubt that clouded Minerva's mind as well.
"What's happening to me?"
If only we knew, thought Minerva sadly. Being woken by an ill student was never enjoyable, but this night brought grim news indeed. If Harry was telling the truth—and he probably was, judging by Albus's reaction—he had just seen an attack on a friend and Order member as it happened from miles away. Surely that wasn't...well, natural? Albus, however, didn't share anything he might have been thinking, but continued to stare keenly at Harry over his spectacles.
Albus, say something, you're scaring him, Minerva begged silently—and then jumped as a low voice spoke from behind her.
"You sent for me, Headmaster?"
Severus. Dear Merlin, but that man had a gift for sneaking up behind people; she hadn't even heard him open the door to the office. She half-turned to shoot him an annoyed glare, but quickly glanced down in embarrassment. Whereas she had clearly just been roused from sleep, Severus looked as alert and immaculate as always in his high-collared robes; she didn't want to think how ridiculous she would look glowering at him while she was still in her dressing gown, her black hair in a dishevelled plait.
Albus's frown lightened somewhat at Severus's appearance. "Severus. I'm afraid it can't wait."
Minerva had no idea what he was talking about, but Severus did not look happy. He nodded once, jaw clenched, and headed back towards the door. "Come, Potter."
Harry hesitated; Minerva winced as Severus grabbed him by the arm in a fit of impatience and dragged him from the room. Their footsteps faded quickly, and Albus cleared his throat to address the other occupants of his office.
"I believe it is best to send you to Grimmauld Place—it is closer to St. Mungo's, in any case, and will be easier for your mother to meet you there," he said kindly, glancing over the four silent Weasley siblings in the corner. "I will send your things along shortly."
Slowly, the heads of tousled red hair nodded, and Minerva watched as they disappeared into the fireplace one by one. Albus stood motionless for a moment, staring at one of his strange silver instruments; then, apparently satisfied, glanced up again.
A portrait of a sallow-faced wizard snapped to attention for the second time that night. "Yes?"
"No doubt there are those at the Ministry searching for an explanation for Arthur's presence...if you can, tell them I will be there within a few minutes."
Everard nodded, walked out of his frame, and vanished; Minerva stared up at the now empty picture for a moment before she realised Albus was calling her.
"Minerva—I've got to go; if they have a chance to ask too many questions before I get there, it will jeopardise everything—wait for Severus and send Harry to Grimmauld Place when they return."
Her mind teeming with questions, Minerva nodded and settled herself in one of the armchairs by the fire; too much was still uncertain, and she would likely be informed as soon as possible. A moment later, Albus stepped towards the hearth, wand at the ready and travelling cloak billowing, and vanished into the flames.
She sighed and glanced around the office for something to do while she waited; a few of the portraits hastily pretended to be asleep when her eyes fell on them, but she ignored the feel of their stares and summoned a volume from the bookcase instead. A cup of tea, a drop of brandy to calm her nerves...there was nothing left to do but wait.
Merlin, where is everyone? she thought, as the words on the page blurred for the fifth time. Fascinating as she found New Theories of Human Transfiguration, her worry over Arthur and his family made her restless, and she couldn't shake the feeling of foreboding every time her mind wandered to Harry and Severus. Leaving the two of them together doing who-knows-what probably wasn't one of Albus's better ideas...she jerked upright in her chair as she realised she had dozed off during her ruminations.
The reason for her sudden awakening quickly became apparent. There was another rap on the door, a muffled curse, and then Severus was in the entryway, tugging Harry behind him. His eyes swept the office and found Minerva; after a moment, he frowned.
"Where is the headmaster?"
"At the Ministry," Minerva answered calmly.
"And you haven't heard anything about—"
"No." She glanced at Harry; the poor boy looked positively knackered. "Are you quite done with him, Severus? Any news of Arthur will likely reach headquarters first."
Severus nodded, but he scowled at the top of Harry's head. "I've taught him all I can, for now," he said with a very faint sneer, and Minerva shot him a warning look. He was the only one that ever dared to insult one of her lion cubs in front of her, and she was having none of it tonight.
"And what, pray tell, were you teaching him?"
"Occlumency," said Severus carelessly, "or, at least, attempting to. I daresay he is rather lacking of sufficient focus at the present time." He shot another glare at Harry, but the teen, too busy yawning, didn't notice.
Minerva did. "I can't imagine why," she said coolly. "He's exhausted. If you're through with him, Severus, let him go...here, Mr. Potter, I'm to send you to Grimmauld Place."
She made sure he pronounced the address carefully as he threw a handful of Floo powder into the fire; after a minute or so, a large, silvery dog appeared in the middle of the office, nodded once, and dissipated.
Well, at least the boy is in safe hands, thought Minerva doubtfully. Though as to whether Arthur will be all right... Feeling as though it would be churlish to leave before Albus returned, she went back to her book. It was only a few minutes later, after hearing another sigh, that she noticed Severus was still in the room.
"Severus, I—" She stopped, watching his half-turned back from where he leaned on the mantel, his black robes pooling at his feet. Robes...? Suddenly, it clicked. "You haven't slept at all tonight, have you?"
It was more a statement than a question, and one which Severus did not answer with anything more than an annoyed glance in her direction. She winced upon studying his face—the circles around his bloodshot eyes were so dark compared to his pale skin that he might have blackened them in a fistfight. He snorted at her scrutiny.
"I was brewing potions for the dispensary," he mumbled finally. "Among...other things."
Minerva knew it would be useless to ask him to elaborate. "Well, you can sit down, at least. I've no idea when Albus will be back."
"Minerva, if I sit down, I shan't get up again," he said wearily. "I can't afford to—" He broke off suddenly, his hand going immediately to his left arm as he muttered a string of obscenities. Minerva raised an eyebrow at his language, but her heart skipped a beat in worry; that gesture could only mean one thing...
"He's calling," said Severus unnecessarily. "And he's...happy...about something...I dare not refuse a summons. Tell Albus."
He stepped into the flames, and was gone. Minerva sighed. This night was not going well at all.
Minerva started awake again at the ringing crash and a man's swearing, her bleary eyes adjusting to the dim office. "Severus?"
Her colleague glanced around at her, stumbling slightly; it appeared that he had not come out of the fireplace carefully and tripped over the poker stand. "You're still here? Why isn't the headmaster back?"
"No idea," replied Minerva, stretching. "He must be having a bit of trouble—it's been a busy night."
"Morning, you mean," Severus snorted. "It's half past five."
"Exactly," said Minerva. "You look dead on your feet. Go to bed."
"What I have to tell Albus cannot wait."
Minerva eyed him warily. "What's happened?" Horrific images floated through her mind, pictures of Order members, dead, or the Ministry close to Voldemort's grasp at last...
Severus cast a longing glance towards the other chair beside the fire; then, apparently losing the battle with his self-restraint, sank into it gracelessly. He massaged his temples for a moment before answering.
"Potter's dream was not so much a vision as an unintentional intrusion into the Dark Lord's mind—they are connected somehow, perhaps by the scar, I do not know...apparently Potter has been experiencing flashes of the Dark Lord's thoughts all year. He was ignorant until tonight. Potter managed to penetrate deeply enough so that he became aware of the connection—and, while initially furious, came to realise it could be used against Potter."
Minerva stared at him in alarm. "You don't mean—he can see what Potter's doing? Whenever he wants?"
"I don't know," Severus snapped. "I haven't had the chance to study the connection; I've never seen anything like it before. I only know that if Potter doesn't learn to shield his mind soon, the Dark Lord will have ample opportunity to take advantage of it."
Minerva's question died on her lips, replaced by a frown at his tone. Severus seemed to realise the harshness of his voice and sighed, staring at the toe of his boot.
"Sorry," he mumbled sullenly, and Minerva was irresistibly reminded of the clever Slytherin boy that had once waved his wand too vigorously in her classroom. She blinked to clear the image from her head and fiddled with the end of her plait.
"I understand," she said quietly. "Now, Severus, really, go to bed—"
"What part of 'no' didn't you understand the first time?"
It was quite extraordinary, really, Minerva marvelled to herself, seeing this grown man behaving like a spoilt child who'd been sent to bed early. Especially when it's so obvious he wants and needs the rest, she added, again worrying at his shadowed eyes and pale face.
"I can tell Albus what you've learnt just as easily as you can. You don't need to wait up for him."
"No, you can't," Severus shot back. "I didn't tell you everything, and I don't plan to. And as long as we're speaking about people that don't need to wait up..." He gave her a pointed look.
Minerva glared half-heartedly. "If you think I'm going to be able to sleep without hearing whether Arthur's all right..." she said meaningfully. "Besides, I've already gotten a few hours of sleep, unlike someone else I know."
"Doesn't matter," said Severus, abruptly sullen again. He fell into a moody silence, refusing to meet Minerva's eyes, so she shrugged and returned to her book. Stubborn git.
She didn't know how long she sat there, staring at the words on the page as they slipped past her comprehension (in fact, she was quite under the impression she had dozed off again). At Fawkes's quiet keening, however, she came to herself and stretched, looking around at Dumbledore's phoenix.
"What is it?" she murmured to him. "Albus still not back?"
Fawkes trilled softly and ducked his head, prompting her to pet his glossy feathers. She did so absently, staring around the dark office once more. Severus, for all his willpower, had finally crashed in his chair; he was slumped over the armrest at an awkward angle. Well, that at least settled whether Albus was back...he wouldn't have let them sleep here when there were things to discuss...
As if in answer to her thoughts, a flash of green momentarily lit the office; Albus stepped out of the fire at long last, looking absolutely exhausted but pleased. He brushed the ash off his cloak, glancing once at Severus's inert form, and raised his eyes to Minerva.
"I take it Harry arrived safely at Grimmauld Place?"
"Yes," said Minerva quietly. "Is...is Arthur...?"
"In St. Mungo's, of course, but stable. The healers told Molly he will make a full recovery."
Minerva shut her eyes in relief. "Thank goodness. Albus, I was so worried..."
"I know," said Albus gently. "Now, if I may ask...what is Severus doing here?"
"Waiting for you. You-Know-Who summoned him not five minutes after he finished with Harry—he wanted to tell you the details of the meeting himself."
"Indeed," muttered Albus, a slight frown creasing his forehead again. "I don't suppose he would forgive me if I just let him sleep?"
"I certainly wouldn't," Minerva snorted. "That can't be comfortable."
Albus stared back at Severus again, regret clouding his light blue eyes. "No, I suppose not," he admitted, and then shook himself. "Minerva, I'm sorry; I should let you get back to bed. I can't thank you enough for what you've done tonight."
It hadn't been much, in her opinion, but between the good news of Arthur's condition and relief at finally getting some more sleep, she didn't argue. "Goodnight, Albus," she said kindly, then paused at the door. "And, if you wake him, tell Severus from me that he should take better care of himself. This is the first sleep he's gotten all night."
Cheeks slightly pink, Minerva started down the stone staircase. She could feel Albus's amused stare all the way out into the hall.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Who in blue blazes is calling at this time of night? Not another student? She rolled over, groggily reaching for her glasses on the bedside table. "What is it?"
It was, to her momentary relief, not another ill student—she wasn't sure how kind she could be during a second night of interrupted sleep—but the feeling was short lived. Pomona Sprout was at her office door, wearing a bathrobe and a thoroughly disgruntled expression.
"Pomona? What are you doing here?"
"Nothing I consider necessary, believe me," Pomona said briskly, "but the 'High Inquisitor' insists, so here we are."
The words took a moment to register with Minerva's brain, and then she shook her head. "Oh, no. Whatever it is, it can wait till morning. A later hour of the morning."
"No," said Pomona more urgently. "Minerva, I'm serious. She's got us all out of bed—if you're not there, you know she'll make a fuss about it. Just put on your dressing gown and let's go."
The first words that came to Minerva's mind at this were not the sort that she'd let anyone hear her using, so she kept her mouth shut as she strode alongside the Head of Hufflepuff to the Entrance Hall. Filius, Severus, and a very irate-looking Poppy Pomfrey were standing as far from Umbridge as politeness would allow; Minerva noted, through frequent mental repetitions of "cow," that Severus was once again the only one fully dressed. Dear Merlin, man, do you ever sleep at all?
"So sorry to disturb you all," said Umbridge, in a voice which clearly implied the opposite, "but it occurred to me as I was lying in bed that we have not taken any measures to ensure that the people staying in the castle are approved to be staying in the castle."
"Meaning?" asked Poppy impatiently.
"Well, it seems like a rather significant breach in security," said Umbridge, widening her eyes innocently. "If, for instance, there are students here that should not be, or students elsewhere when they should be here..." She gave a delicate little shudder. "That seems a rather good cause for concern, does it not?"
The part of Minerva's brain that had been seething ever since being awakened finally snapped. "What could possibly make you think we'd be concerned about this at two in the morning, Dolores?" said Minerva coldly. She ignored the stares from her colleagues and fought a smirk at seeing the affronted look on Umbridge's face. "The list of students staying is very small. Checking to see if they are here is a task that can wait until morning—"
"If the list is so small, it won't take you much time to check," interrupted Umbridge.
"That is not the point," said Minerva through gritted teeth.
"Then what is the point, Minerva?" Umbridge's voice was low and very dangerous, considering it was coming from someone in a garish pink dressing gown.
Having gained some semblance of control over her temper, Minerva did not reply immediately; rather, she considered just how many things she could call Umbridge without getting sacked, decided the list was disappointingly small, and elected to wait. Oh, the day you're leaving, Dolores...
Umbridge took her silence for lack of argument and cleared her throat. "Very well, if you've no more questions, go ahead and check your Houses; report to me when you've finished. Poppy, how many are in the hospital wing at the moment?"
Minerva did not hear Poppy's reply as she turned and stormed up the steps. Albus was definitely going to hear about this...She knew very well how many students were in Gryffindor Tower at the moment. Four. The same four that put their names on the list—no more, no less. Whatever circumstances kept them at Hogwarts over the holidays were unfortunate, she mused; the rest of her lions had at least had the sense to get themselves out of Umbridge's grasp for a few weeks.
After barely poking her head into the dormitories to confirm what she already knew, she headed back downstairs to deliver her report and then hopefully get back to bed. She did not count on Poppy catching her arm, although considering it was just as she was about to recite certain insults to Umbridge anyway, Minerva thought it was probably for the best.
"Are you out of your mind?" said Poppy quietly, once they were out of earshot.
Minerva sighed. "No. No, I suppose not...I'm just tired. I've been tired. I was up all last night as well, and considering how I get around her—" She shrugged. "I'm sorry, Poppy. I'm all right. I'll let you get back to sleep."
"Not at all," said Poppy graciously, "though I'm waiting for Severus first. I've been meaning to have words with him."
"Do you really think that wise at this time of night? Mind you, he was awake almost all yesterday as well..."
"That's precisely what I mean," said Poppy, frowning. "You've seen him, Minerva. He's killing himself. It's my responsibility to make sure he gets some sleep before we're short a Potions Master."
"That'll make his day," Minerva muttered under her breath. Unwilling as she was to remain awake, she thought it best to stay to supervise; there was no telling how Severus would react to Poppy's fussing. He was extremely irritable about it at the best of times, but in his sleep-deprived state...
They did not have to wait long. Straight-backed as ever, although perhaps a bit more stiffly, Severus swept over to Umbridge just after Filius and Pomona had waved goodnight. As though disappointed she had not been able to catch anything out of order, Umbridge soon followed; Severus stared after her for a moment with an expression Minerva could not read before making to head back to the dungeons.
"Severus?" Poppy called quietly.
"Yes?" The mask he had presented to Umbridge was gone, replaced with a very cross expression indeed. Minerva fingered the handle of her wand for a moment before telling herself she was being foolish.
Poppy grabbed Severus's arm as though she did not notice his annoyance and steered him towards the hospital wing. "I have a few things to discuss with you. As does Minerva."
"Yes," said Poppy simply, and Minerva couldn't help but wonder how she managed to be so polite and still get her way. "Now."
On second thought, Minerva realised that Poppy was merely being clever. She refused to elaborate until they were all in the hospital wing, cutting off Severus's best escape route and leaving him with no choice but to listen if he did not want to appear rude. But then, does he care about that? Minerva thought suddenly, considering the lateness of the hour; she fervently hoped the answer was still "yes." She was not at all up for a row with Severus tonight.
Her heart sank at his first, rather annoyed words. "If this is about the potions, I can tell you now I've got most of them done and I was in the middle of the last batch when Filius knocked..."
"No, this isn't about the potions," said Poppy soothingly, "although now you mention it, I could use some more burn salve...but I don't want you to even think about starting it now," she finished, suddenly stern. "In fact, I'd rather like to know why you were in the middle of brewing something at this time of night."
Severus stared between her and Minerva, evidently confused. "It needed to be done," he said finally. "What does that have to do with—Minerva, what's this about?"
"You," she answered quietly, upon seeing Poppy's brows drawing together.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Severus, you didn't get any sleep last night, and now you're doing the same thing—"
"Your point being...?"
"Oh, for heaven's sake," Poppy snapped. "Severus, look at yourself. You can't keep doing this—you need rest!"
Severus hesitated, and Minerva allowed herself to hope that they might be getting through to him, but then his stubbornness won out again. "I have no choice. I will not shirk my responsibilities to sleep when I can do without. Now, if that is all, I'll bid you a good night."
"Severus, wait," said Minerva, moving to intercept him as he turned to leave, and hoping he wouldn't take it the wrong way. Although she would never admit it, she was sure he could draw his wand faster than she could.
"No, that is not all," Poppy said briskly. "You're staying here tonight, so you can get some real sleep."
"I most certainly am not staying here."
"Don't argue with me, Severus," said Poppy, looking rather dangerous; Minerva fingered her wand again. It was, she mused, either about to get very ugly, or Severus was going to—Never mind, she thought. I can't see him letting Poppy push him into this.
To her very great surprise, however, Severus ceased his outright refusal, though he sneered at the striped pyjamas Poppy pulled from the closet. "I am not wearing those."
"Well, you're certainly not staying in what you're wearing, either." Poppy raised an eyebrow and deftly charmed the pyjamas black. "Better?"
"Not really," Severus muttered, but he took them anyway. Minerva smiled slightly as he glared at her, his cheeks reddening.
"Something wrong, Severus?"
"For heaven's sake, if you expect me to wear these, at least turn away," he snapped.
"Oh, get a grip," said Poppy loftily. "It's not like she's never seen you naked before."
Minerva opened her mouth to protest, but smiled instead when she saw Poppy was joking. Severus, however, blinked and looked up at her, his face quickly draining of colour.
"You've seen me naked?"
He sounded so sincerely horrified, Minerva had to laugh. It was so rare to see him embarrassed... Stop it, Minerva, he's so tired he's not thinking straight at the moment... "No, Severus, she was kidding. You'll have to forgive her sense of humour; it's not nearly this scandalous at a godly hour." She made sure he registered her words before dutifully giving him his privacy.
"Really, Minerva, you give me too much credit," said Poppy, though she sighed. "Oh, we've got to go to bed...I refuse to make bad jokes all night..."
"Thank God," said Severus, failing to stifle a yawn. He did not protest as Poppy pushed him onto a bed, but still stared with distaste at his attire as he pulled up the sheets.
Minerva shook her head. Once again he resembled the sulky young genius he had been over twenty years ago. "Really, Severus, I think you can cope with those for a night."
He scowled. "I never wear pyjamas."
"You should try it more often; I assure you you're quite dashing enough given the circumstances," Minerva teased gently, but at his tired snort in response, she grew sober once more. "Really, though, I expect to see you in them the next time we're both up at two in the morning; it'd be nice to know you're getting some sleep—"
"Then let me get some sleep," said Severus, smirking slightly, "and stop going on about pyjamas I am likely never going to wear again."
Minerva smiled and made her way to the door. Her job here was done. "Goodnight, Severus."
The dry, sarcastic dismissal was just like him, but Minerva let it go without comment. It was late, she wanted nothing more than to go back to bed, and she was already planning a trip to Hogsmeade tomorrow. She allowed herself a smirk as she climbed the staircases...she knew exactly what she was going to get Severus for Christmas this year...
If he was lucky, they might even be black.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading! Comments welcome, as always. :)