AN: I don't own Harry Potter, I'm just tweaking with the characters a little :D I make no profit out of this. In addition, I'm only 13, so I'm no professional, but reviews are very much appreciated! :^)
It was a cold winter morning.
Severus unceremoniously made his way down the "crystal" blanketed path. Snowflakes gathered on his traveling cloak, seeping into the fabric.
Albus suggested that he take a walk down to Hogsmeade and keep an eye on the students.
Of course, he did not wish to do it, but whatever Albus "suggested", usually had to be followed. He claimed that it would calm Severus' nerves and the anger that had seemed to accumulate inside of him the past couple of weeks.
As he began his walk, he was determined to despise every moment of it, but as he reached the midpoint, most of his anger had diminished. He was growing tired, and the snowy trip became rather appealing. It was calm and silent, except for his feet crushing the icy particles beneath him.
As he neared the village, he saw a few third year Hufflepuffs laughing and rolling in the snow, their clothes covered in white flakes.
'Wasting their lives,' Severus mused, fully aware that he was just being an old grouch. His childhood held some unpleasant memories, and he did not plan on going back to them anytime soon.
He snuck a quick, final glance at the children before he continued his way into the village. Perhaps, a butterbeer or a fire whiskey would be ideal at the moment to relax him. If he was lucky, he'd let his guard down, sinking into a few care-free hours.
No, it really wasn't a good time to be drinking. He'd come on Albus' orders, and he doubted the headmaster would be pleased with his actions.
Instead, he decided it might be better to just stalk in the bookstore for a while. It was warm there, and he needed to pick up a few things.
Then again, he could just roam town terrorizing any mischievous students with his demeanor (which seemed to be the much more "fun" option). However, this was overruled as well, since he was doomed to catch a cold as it was, and the last thing he needed was Pomfrey fussing over him. He wasn't a student anymore, but his former teachers still treated him as such. He was among the youngest of the staff, which he was always reminded of.
He'd somehow managed to survive the trip (much to his displeasure). He did however, take points from Gryffindor on two occasions, and awarded 20 points to Slytherin for ratting out the Gryffindors. Ah, some things never changed.
He hoped he would not forget that he gave the Weasley twins detention. Somehow, they always seemed to trick their way out of scrubbing Hogwarts medals and trophies with Filch. It seemed that this time, Severus had no choice, and would have to sacrifice his own time, to assure the Weasleys would "think twice", before spiking love potion in Filch's tea. He'd been following Trelawney for days.
When confronted by Trelawney, he swore he did not have anymore antidote in stock and would brew some "as soon as possible".
Of course he had had plenty in his inventory. That would teach her to stop predicting his death! Ha! She'd seen the grim at least once a week in his tea leaves, and each time it was more rubbish than the first.
The journey back to the castle nearly drained Severus. He was exhausted beyond belief, which was very strange for him. He supposed he was getting old. Blimey, even Albus didn't get this tired after a walk to Hogsmeade and back.
Regardless, he pushed his way into the entrance hall, shaking off the snowy residue on his cloak. Next, he made his way to Albus' office, since he had requested that he report back to him.
He whispered the password, "Lemon drops", and watched as the gargoyle shifted and turned aside. Without another word he dragged himself up the stairs, hearing the "clank" of the gargoyle returning to its place. When he entered, Albus was at his desk. He immediately noticed Severus.
"Ahh, Severus, have a seat," he ushered, the blue eyes twinkling at the black.
Soundlessly, Severus obeyed and sat across from the desk, almost slouching from fatigue.
Albus scanned his form before speaking, "I trust your walk went well?"
Snape snarled in response, causing Albus to smirk, "You really must get out more. You seem to hideaway in your private chambers and lab during most of the days. Either that, or you're having students serve detention."
Severus did not respond, to tired to come up with a remark.
"Hmm, I sense something is out of order, Severus. Is anything troubling you?" Albus pressed on, peering over his glasses to meet Snape's eyes more fully.
"No, not at all. I can not fathom how you came up with that conclusion."
Albus smiled, "I suppose I'm losing my touch.." A few moments of silence passed before he gave his dismissal, "That is all, Severus, thank you."
Snape gave a curt nod and stood, sweeping out of the room and back into his chambers for the rest of the day.
Ugh, those rotten, disease-spreading, parasites, and their germ infested bodies.
He knew he was sick from the moment he had opened his eyes. Everything felt cold and clammy, yet his skin was radiating heat. He also knew that it was the fault of those bratty children that he was ridden with this plague.
A coughing fit immediately escaped from the Potion Master's mouth. He wasn't usually very prone to illness, but he caught his fair share of head colds throughout the year. If it wasn't for the ridiculous dunderheads he was forced to teach, his illness count might be a lower. Well, that's what he wanted to believe anyway. There wasn't a chance that he'd admit to his faults for not wearing a warmer cloak.
Wherever he had received this ailment, he still felt miserable. On the other hand, he always felt pretty miserable, but this was a much more different type of misery.
'Oh, and just wait until Minerva comes to scold me for being late for breakfast,' he mused, sinking even more deeply under the warm comforter of his bed. He was shivering, yet pearls of sweat were beginning to form at the nape of his neck. He had possibly 10 minutes to get up and assume his usual demeanor, then drag himself into the Great Hall for further scrutiny.
His colleagues certainly worried about him. Whether it was because he was one of the youngest professors or because of his former "career choice", he wasn't sure. It seemed as though they expected him to break down from everything that was going on around him. That was impossible, for he would never, ever, crack. He knew how to clear his mind of every emotion…
That didn't mean it never returned…
Rather hastily, he swung the covers back and stormed out of bed, searching for his teaching robes and cloak. It was drafty this early December morning and he was not about to let his condition worsen because of a few gusts of breezy winds. After getting dressed and casting a basic cleansing charm on himself, he left the warmth of his quarters, and the presence of his all-too-inviting bed, making his way into the Great Hall.
He entered unnoticed by the students, (as usual) since they never did dare to look him in the eyes. Then, he made his way to the head table, taking his routine seat to the right of Dumbledore, with Minerva placed (quite inconveniently) beside him.
Severus' breakfast consisted of tea, and a small piece of toast with jam. He desperately tried to ignore the watchful, eagle eye of Minerva, which was growing more difficult by the grueling seconds.
Suddenly, a new voice rang out from amongst the table of professors, and was sounded in his direction.
"Severus, my boy!" Dumbledore greeted timely, "How are you this fine morning?"
There was something in those eyes, that was beginning to become very irritating. Those blue, twinkling orbs knew all to well of what was being concealed, and Severus couldn't help, but feel like a young Slytherin student again.
"Fine, Headmaster," He replied gruffly, chin downward, and his voice hollow. It would be a challenge maintaining a firm voice during his classes.
Dumbledore smiled again, obviously filled with amusement, "I hope you don't mind, Severus, but I need to have a word with you in my office after breakfast."
Merlin, he knew. Severus knew Albus would notice immediately, but he didn't think Albus would be so concerned with the matter. He must have thought the ailment was more serious if he wanted a word about it. Well, he didn't have much of a choice now.
"Of course, Headmaster," he acknowledged, giving a jerk of the head.
Therefore, 30 minutes before his first morning class, Severus proceeded to Dumbledore's office, still managing to terrorize a few first years along the way.
"You wished to see me, Headmaster?" The words rolled bitterly off his tongue. He was in a foul mood already and the last thing on his agenda was to be scolded about his unhealthy habits.
"Severus, I hope you don't mind if I ask again, is there anything troubling you?" Albus asked softly, offering a lemon drop during the process.
Snape politely refused. He had never taken a lemon drop once from Albus, but the man always offered, whether it was to annoy him or some secret depth of hope that he'd finally accept was entirely a mystery to him.
"I must assure you, Albus that I'm-"
"I do not think you are fine, Severus," Albus interjected, already knowing what Snape was going to say. Denial was always his solution.
"You might recall that I am a Potion's Master, and it is all too easy for me to obtain some Pepper-Up," Snape insisted churlishly.
"Then why haven't you taken some yet? If I might add, I don't think Pepper-Up will do this time."
"And since when did you become a qualified healer?" Severus growled.
Albus no longer smiled, but only looked at Snape with deep concern, "I think we both know a visit to Madam Pomfrey is in order, dear boy."
"Don't call me that," Severus snapped.
"I can escort you if you wish," Albus suggested.
"My next class is in-" Severus glanced at his watch, "Twenty minutes. I have to get going. I'll go before lunch if you insist."
"You needn't worry about your lessons. Go to her now, Severus, and I shall know if you take a detour instead," Dumbledore warned.
Snape scoffed and stood, "I plan on attending my classes today, Albus," he added as a final note before walking out and making his way off toward the hospital wing.
He hesitantly walked to the entrance. Madam Pomfrey was sitting at her desk, sorting through various papers when she noticed him standing at the doorway.
"Severus?" she inquired softly, "What can I do for you today?"
"Albus sent me-" he was not able to finish his statement, because within a second, Madam Pomfrey reached up and palmed his forehead.
"I thought you looked ill at breakfast this morning," she sighed, "You should have come as soon as you were feeling ill!" she admonished, then pointed to a chair next to her desk, "Have a seat."
"Really, Poppy, it's just a-"
"Oh, hush," she sighed, then ran a diagnostic spell through him. He sat silently for a few moments, a tingling sensation taking over his body, then Poppy lowered her wand, before giving her verdict, "You've caught yourself quite a bad case of the wizard's flu. Follow me."
He followed her down a hall and over to a long row of beds up against the wall. He realized he was in the faculty ward. Madam Pomfrey walked up to the first bed and motioned him to lay down.
"No, Poppy. I'll go back to my rooms and get a potion. I really mustn't miss my-" Severus began.
"You'll listen to me if you wish to be out of here in a few days," Poppy warned.
Severus huffed and sat down on the cot. It was awfully soft and warm, and he was so tired and cold. His achy muscles relaxed as he sat, but he refused to lie down.
"Severus," Pomfrey scolded, "Do not make this difficult. I know you hate being here, but you're running quite the fever, so it wouldn't be wise to send you back to your own chambers to rest. Just a day or two, I promise," she bargained, and Snape grudgingly agreed.
With one flick of her wand, Severus' clothes were switched with the usual hospital wing pajama attire. He finally laid down and watched as the covers levitated and tucked in around him up to his neck.
'Merlin, it feels so good to be in bed.'
Madam Pomfrey handed him two potions, and he quickly drank them, feeling his temperature climb down, causing more sweat to form on his skin.
"I'll inform Albus. Rest well, and I'll check on you in a bit," she finished, patting his leg soothingly before gathering the empty vials, and silently making her way back to her desk.
Maybe he'd rest for just for a few minutes and not a second more!
'Just… a… little while…' he brooded.
Within that "little while", his head lolled to the side, and Severus Snape was fast asleep.
He dreamt of yellow grass fields. He was a young boy again, playing tag with Lily, and as she ran, her red hair swung from side to side. Her laugh rang through his ears, and once they had grown very tired, they fell to the grass, panting and rolling onto their backs. The sun shone in their faces, and they watched as it lowered itself in the sky.
"How many more days until we go off to Hogwarts, Sev?" Lily asked, her hands folded over her abdomen as she admired the setting sun in the pale, pink sky.
He smiled when she said her nickname for him, "16 days."
"I can hardly wait!" she exclaimed joyfully, excitement pulsing through her so strongly, that Severus could almost feel her heart beating against his, as if they were bonded together.
"Me too," he replied sheepishly.
"Do you think one day we'll be big, powerful wizards? We'll change the whole world!" Lily giggled.
Severus caught glance at the young girl, she was still looking at the sky. "Maybe."
"You're my best friend, Sev."
"You are too, Lily."
This was becoming repetitive.
"Yes, Lily?" he sighed.
"Can you promise me something?" she grinned, turning to face him again. Her emerald eyes sparkled.
"Anything," he said firmly.
"Promise we'll be best friends forever, no matter what?"
He looked at the now golden-red streaked sky, unaware of all the things he would encounter during his lifetime, then back at Lily, her eyes blinking expectantly at him.
"Yes, I promise."
He woke drenched to the bone in his own sweat. He still felt feverish, but his temperature had come down somewhat. He replayed the memory of Lily in his mind, then blinked as the hospital wing lights struck him. The clock read noon, meaning he'd woken up just in time for lunch.
He had missed his morning classes, and allowed himself to fall asleep.
This was terrible.
Not a moment too soon, Madam Pomfrey came in, a bowl of chicken broth in her hands. When she noted that he was awake she smiled, "Good afternoon, Severus. Eat up, if you want to get well."
It was at this time that he noticed his throat had become more sore, and his eyes were sensitive to even the dimmest of lights.
"You'll feel better tomorrow," Poppy assured, helping him sit up.
He nodded, and croaked, "Thank you."
"Don't think I can't practically see the steam coming out of your ears. Someone is covering your classes, so don't make a big fuss over it."
Severus sighed, taking a spoonful of chicken broth.
On the other hand, some things did change, but he knew he'd have to go on.
If only he'd said the words he wanted to say. If only he'd spoken when the moment was right, but he'd keep going for her and for her son, he owed her at least that much.
And he was confident that they'd see each other again someday.
Somewhere amongst the setting sun.