A/N: A little bit of fluff I scribbled last night and finished this morning... I wanted to write about Professor Snape sleeping. So here it is :-)
Logospilgrim, the quiet professor
It was spring, in so many ways. Almost a year after the final battle, Hogwarts had undergone numerous repairs, the most important of which were now completed. Outside the rebuilt stone walls and new windows, the school grounds were covered with grass and a multitude of flowers were coming into bloom.
Some Death Eaters had evaded capture, but they were few of them left. The majority were in Azkaban. Many of Voldemort's followers had been killed during the final battle.
A profound serenity was reigning upon the wizarding world. Even the grief of having lost friends and family was attenuated by Voldemort's disappearance; it was as though people no longer had the strength to suffer, and were mesmerized by the peace that had replaced years of war.
Both the living and the dead were at rest. Pain was laced with a sense of release, of relief and gratitude.
Harry sighed. He had been sitting in a field near the castle with Ron and Hermione; all three of them had been eating sandwiches for lunch and enjoying the mild weather.
"We'd best get back inside," Harry said. "It'll be time for Professor Sinistra's class soon."
His friends nodded, then the three of them gathered their bags and headed for the main entrance.
The hallways were filled with students going here and there, but one area was especially quiet, despite the presence of numerous students who were either sitting alongside the tall windows or walking to their respective classrooms.
The teacher's lounge was located there, and the door was not closed.
Harry couldn't help coming to a halt as he and his friends neared that particular room.
"Do you think..." Hermione said.
"Yeah. It's almost one o'clock. He's there for sure."
The three youths stood in the doorway, and peered inside the teacher's lounge.
At the other end of the room, next to a window, not far from the fireplace where a few logs were burning, Headmaster Snape was ensconced in a high backed green leather chair. His head was turned towards them, and was partly sunken in a pillow. A Slytherin blanket covered him up to his waist; his black robes were pooled at his feet.
He was sleeping.
The Headmaster often took refuge in the cozy room. The sound of the students' footsteps soothed him in a way vials of Dreamless Sleep potion no longer could. Deputy Headmistress McGonagall had told the students so after dinner one afternoon, and warned them to be careful not to make too much noise when they saw that the door to the teacher's lounge was open.
"Headmaster Snape is still healing, and he is exhausted," she had said. "Please help him get rest."
Snape had not resumed any of his functions yet, apart from simply being there at Hogwarts. He didn't speak much, because his damaged throat made it painful for him to talk, but his dark eyes were more expressive than they had ever been.
The first time Harry had seen this was when his professor's memories had poured from him and mixed with his tears in the Shrieking Shack. There had been something else in those dark eyes... Something that could now also be seen in the way Headmaster Snape slept.
Harry entered the quiet room.
Hermione grabbed his arm and whispered, "Harry, what are you doing? You might wake-"
"No, I won't."
"Mate, we're going, uh, to be late for class," Ron said.
Harry and Hermione stared at him, and he gave an awkward shrug. "I know, I just... I'd rather not disturb him, is all," he mumbled.
"I won't be long," Harry said. "You can stay here if you like."
"Right," Ron said.
"I'll go with you, Harry," Hermione said, gazing at the semi-obscure corner where their professor was slumbering.
Snape hadn't stirred. The side of his face that wasn't pressed into the pillow was partly hidden by his hair, and a few strands moved every time he exhaled.
Harry and Hermione approached him without a sound.
As pale as he was now, he looked a thousand times better than he did after Professor McGonagall and Hagrid retrieved him from the Shrieking Shack. For a while, no one had known if he would live or die; he lay in the hospital wing for weeks before he at last opened his eyes again. When that moment came, Harry remembered, McGonagall had gasped, then choked on a sob. She held one of his hands in both of hers, apologizing over and over for how she had treated him following Dumbledore's death.
He had gazed up at her like a man who had awakened from an endless nightmare. His eyes were unfocused, and he shivered from head to toe, a strong smell of ointments and potions wafting from him in waves. Then, he saw Harry standing behind her, and the Headmaster's vision seemed to clear. He drew in a breath and blinked several times. His eyes widened. He attempted to speak, but Harry stopped him.
"Sir... We did it. Voldemort is dead. I know you thought I had to die, and... well, I kind of did... I'm not sure what happened myself, to be honest. I was with Dumbledore, and... my mum was there... Well, I mean, that was before, because of the Resurrection Stone. It's all a bit jumbled inside my head sometimes. Anyway, then I came back, and I killed Tom Riddle. So it's over. It's over, sir. But I never could have done it without you, Headmaster Snape. Thank you, sir. For everything you've done."
The trembling professor's eyes locked with Harry's. For an instant Harry was filled with an agonizing sense of euphoria that made his heart swell so much it felt as though it might burst, and he heard Snape's voice inside his head: I did it.
A tear had rolled down one of the Headmaster's sunken cheeks, and his eyelids shut.
Harry had not really had a chance to speak with him since that day, though Snape had frequently looked at him from the head table in the Great Hall. Once he had been well enough to leave the hospital wing, the Headmaster started eating with the rest of the teachers and students -to the delight of all who had longed for his return.
Snape's health had improved a great deal since Nagini's attack, but he was still frail, and in need of constant rest. Harry could see how true this was as he observed the Headmaster asleep in his chair, illumined by the light coming in from the window. The shadows beneath Snape's eyes had become permanent stains, but his features had softened. The scowls and frowns that had once characterized his expression had faded, like rock smoothed by flowing water.
His right forearm was on the armrest, his other arm folded upon his lap. Although he was dressed in his robes, instead of his boots he was wearing black leather slippers, the tips of which poked from beneath swathes of black fabric. There was a bandage around his neck, though it was mostly hidden by his high collared frock coat, and the fresh scent of an herb based balm emanated from him.
"He looks so peaceful," Hermione murmured.
A faint smile curved Harry's lips. "Yeah."
On the round side table right next to his chair were a few vials of restorative potions, as well as cauldron cakes and a steaming pot of tea. There was also a vase filled with lilies, along with a note upon which was scrawled in clumsy letters, We is loving you Prince Headmaster Snape.
The House Elves had been showering him with affection and attending to his every conceivable need, Harry knew.
"We is knowing what Headmaster Snape wants. He never has to hurt himself speaking, no! We is knowing what he needs," one of them had told him, its small chest puffed out. "We is always watching over him. No one will harm him."
Snape didn't protest or scold them in any way. He responded to the elves' solicitude by inclining his head towards them, which made them weep, kiss his robes and scurry off to sing his praises to anyone who would listen.
Harry was jolted from his thoughts by a rasping sound.
His eyes darted in the Headmaster's direction. Snape was shifting in his seat, and the rasp Harry had heard issued once more from Snape's throat; was he trying to talk as he slept?
Then he sighed, and his eyelids inched open.
Harry was motionless. Snape's gaze settled upon him and Hermione.
"Sir?" Harry whispered. "We didn't mean to wake you... I'm sorry."
"Yes, sir, we're sorry, we really should get to our classes, we shouldn't have come in here," Hermione said.
Snape shook his head slightly. He reached over to the table, and his fingers closed around a vial containing a thick, golden liquid, which he swallowed one sip at a time. He took a couple of deep breaths and whispered, "Mr. Potter."
The Headmaster's voice was so feeble that Harry drew closer; Snape had all but breathed out the words.
"Sir, should you be trying to speak? Uh, I thought you couldn't, um..."
Snape raised one of his eyebrows a little.
"Sorry, sir," Harry said.
The corners of Snape's mouth quirked upwards. Harry's own mouth fell open when the Headmaster extended his arms and placed his hands over Harry's shoulders.
"The Dark Lord did not take you... like he took her," Snape whispered. His eyes shimmered in the firelight. "How I wish... I could bring her back. But he did not take you."
Harry swallowed. "No, sir, he didn't. Thanks to you. She'll tell you herself, someday."
If Harry had not been standing so close to the Headmaster, he might have missed the tremor in Snape's lower lip. Snape's fingers gave Harry's shoulders a light squeeze.
"Off to class, both of you," he said, his voice barely audible. "And Mr. Weasley... hovering over there by the door."
His arms fell away from Harry, and he slumped against the chair.
"You'll be all right, sir?" Hermione asked.
The Headmaster didn't answer; his eyes had already drifted shut.
After a moment of hesitation, Hermione stepped closer and rearranged his blanket. "There," she said, raising it up to his shoulders. "Take care, Headmaster."
He shivered a bit, and nestled in his blanket. Harry pointed his wand at the fireplace. "Conflegro." Bright flames surged from the smouldering logs, and the room warmed by a few degrees.
Snape pushed his head further into his pillow; his sleep deepened.
"See you later, sir," Harry murmured. "I'm glad that he didn't take you either."