The Sugar Quill
Author: A_Wash1979 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Awakened Sleeper  Chapter: Chapter 3: Wake Up
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Chapter 3

“Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens.  The sleeper must awaken.”

-- Frank Herbert

 

Chapter 3

Wake Up

 

Severus opened his eyes.  There was darkness all around him.  In every direction he turned, there was oppressive darkness.  As his eyes became accustomed to it he could make out shapes in the distance.  Trees, Severus thought to himself.  I’m in a forest, but how did I get here?  He continued to look around, trying to see if there was anyone else in this strange place.  “Hello?” he called.  “Can anyone hear me?”  The only answer he received was the sound of his own voice reverberating throughout the forest.  Severus could not see anyone else, but he knew someone was there.  He could feel someone watching him.  He could feel eyes watching his every move.  Watching…and waiting.  A wave of panic washed over him.  It felt as if the darkness was beginning to seep into his mind…into his body…into his soul. 

 

He began to run at breakneck speed.  He did not know where he was running to.  All Severus knew was that he had to get away from the overwhelming darkness that threatened to consume him.  His lungs could not get enough air, but he ran.  His heart was beating so fast, it felt as though it would burst inside his chest, but he ran.  As he ran, he could still feel the eyes watching him.  Out of nowhere came a disembodied, hysterical laugh that seemed to surround him.  The laughter sounded familiar to him, as if it belonged to someone he knew.  He stopped abruptly and called out, “Who are you?  What do you want from me?”

 

After what seemed like an eternity, the voice answered, “You know who I am, Severus.  You can’t run from me.  You can’t hide from me.  Wherever you go, I’ll be there.  I’m always with you, and I always will be.”  The maniacal laughter started again, and just like the darkness, it seemed to penetrate his mind.  He could hear the laughter echoing in his head. 

 

Severus dropped to his knees, and covered his ears, attempting to block out this aural violation.  “STOP IT!” he screamed.  At once, the laughter stopped, and there was silence.  Severus let his arms fall by his sides, and as he did so, he felt something slash at his wrists.  The voice returned, only this time it was whispering.

 

“You can’t get rid of me, boy.  I’m in your blood.”  Severus looked down at his arms in horror.  A dark, viscous fluid was slowly bleeding from his slit wrists.  He reluctantly touched the fluid, and rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger, feeling the gritty texture.  He brought his fingers to his nose, and as he did, a wave of nausea hit him.

 

His fingers smelled of dirt.  He was bleeding mud.

 

“I’m the dirt in your blood; the grit in your soul, boy.  You’ll NEVER be rid of me…son.”

 

Severus sat bolt upright in his bed, careful not to scream or cry out. Even in his semiconscious state he knew better than to display any flaws or weaknesses that could later be exploited by his fellow Slytherins.  He absentmindedly began rubbing his wrists as he tried to remember the details of his latest nightmare.  Severus reached over to his left, frantically fumbling for his wand, which was sitting on his nightstand.

 

Lumos,” Severus whispered the moment his fingers gripped the wand.  A small beam of light emerged from the tip of his wand.  He made sure his dark green bed curtains were closed, so he would not wake his roommates.  Once his eyes adjusted to the light, he opened the drawer of his nightstand and pulled out what appeared to be an old tattered Potions book titled Lethal Potions and Antidotes.  He tapped the book and muttered, “Libellus manifesto.”  The title of the book melted away and the words The Private Journal of Severus Snape appeared in its place.  Severus then reached into the drawer once more and withdrew a Muggle ink pen that he used when he didn’t have the time to bother with ink and quill.

 

I have to write it all down while I still remember it.  Severus feverishly wrote the details of his recurring nightmare in his journal.  Ever since his first year at Hogwarts, this nightmare had occasionally haunted him as he slept.  Lately, the frequency of the dreams had increased, and the content had changed slightly.  During the summer, he decided to record the nightmares in his journal, so that he could try to make sense of them.  My wrists were never slit before; why did it happen this time? Severus mused to himself.  I didn’t slit them myself, so who did? Who would want me dead? No…who do I think would want me dead?  Then Severus remembered the cold voice that he’d heard in his nightmares so often.  The same voice he’d heard yelling at his mother year after year.  The bitter voice that had threatened him so many times in his young life.  My father, Severus thought with disdain.  It’s always his voice I hear.  Will I ever escape him?

 

For a split second Severus thought about telling someone about the nightmares, but who would he tell?  Naturally, he had acquaintances within Slytherin House, but he would never willingly share any of his vulnerabilities with them.  His journal was his only emotional outlet, and he guarded it closely.  The journal never left his sight, and his concealment charm ensured that his deepest, darkest secrets wouldn’t be read by anyone.

 

Once he completed his latest entry, Severus closed the journal, tapped it with his wand, and whispered, “Libellus obscuro.” The journal looked like an old library book once again.  Severus placed the book back in his drawer and reached for his watch.  Six o’clock.  There’s no point in trying to go back to sleep now.

 

*~*~*~*

 

As part of her daily routine, Lily stood at her bedroom door, impatiently waiting for Cressida to finish applying her make-up.  “Cressa, would you hurry up, please?  I would like to make it to breakfast sometime this year!”  As usual, Cressida was using Muggle make-up, so it always took longer for her to get ready in the mornings.

 

“Lily, Lily, Lily.  When are you going to learn?”  Cressida stood before her mirror carefully applying mascara.  “There is an art to applying make-up.  It takes time to look like it didn’t take time to apply it!”

 

Lily rolled her eyes heavenward.  “Well, of course it takes time when you insist on doing it the Muggle way!”  Lily never made a big fuss about her appearance.  She felt that she looked just fine with a clean face and clean hair.  Lily stomped toward her bed and grabbed her book sack.  “You know, it would be nice to be able to walk to breakfast with my best friend instead of always meeting her in the Great Hall.”  She trudged back to the door and called over her shoulder, “I’ll see you there.”

 

“OK.  Right,” Cressida replied distractedly.

 

 Lily gently tugged at her locket and thought of her best friend as she made her way to the Great Hall.  Lily knew she should be used to Cressida’s obsession with Muggles.  Most of the time, it was amusing and completely understandable, given Cressida’s family history.  When she was eleven years old, Cressida’s father and her eldest brother, Christopher, had had an explosive argument.  Soon, hexes started flying between the two of them.  One of the hexes hit her father in the eyes, and he lost his eyesight.  Out of shame, Christopher moved away and decided to live as a Muggle.  Cressida, who had been closer to Christopher than any other member of her family, had not seen him since that day.  When she received her Hogwarts letter later that summer, Cressida had vowed to learn any and everything she could about Muggles, so that one day she could find her brother and live with him.  Lily understood why Cressida was so keen to experience life the Muggle way, even if no one else did.  But in the mornings, it was extremely inconvenient.

 

She was abruptly brought out of her reverie when she collided with something hard.  As Lily looked around and saw books strewn everywhere, she realized that she had actually collided with a someone, not a something. 

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry!”  Lily bent down to help retrieve the scattered books.  “I wasn’t paying attention…”  Until she found herself looking into a set of harsh, black eyes, it had never occurred to Lily to find out who she had practically mowed down.

 

“When you were given a pair of eyes, I assume they were designed to do something other than to just be green,” said a sneering Severus Snape.

 

Lily stood up, those green eyes shooting daggers at Severus.  “You needn’t be so nasty about it!  It was an accident.  Besides, it seems to me that if you had been using your eyes, you would have simply moved aside.”

 

Severus returned the severe glare that he was receiving, as he shoved his books back into his book sack.  “Why should I be bothered to move aside for you?  Just because you Gryffindors behave as if you own Hogwarts, it doesn’t make it so!”

 

Lily’s mouth dropped open in disgust.  “Oh, that’s rich coming from a Slytherin!  You lot act like you own the world, and everyone else is here to serve you or something.”  Suddenly, Lily grabbed Severus’s arm and pulled him aside.  “Actually, I’m glad I ran into you.  I wanted to talk to you before Potions anyway.”  She took a deep breath, as if she were bracing herself, and continued

 

“Let’s just lay it all out on the table, right here, right now.  I don’t like you; you don’t like me.  You don’t trust me, and I certainly don’t trust you.  What I do trust is your Slytherin-fed ego.  I’ve watched you over the years.  You take a tremendous amount of pride in your work.  I may not like you very much, but I do respect your work ethic.”  Lily angled her head and studied him for a moment.  “When we received our assignment, I was worried that you might do something to sabotage me and my work.  I’ve had time to think about it, and I’m not worried about you doing anything to ruin me anymore.  You’re not as thick as some of your housemates.  Your ego wouldn’t allow you to be connected with anyone who might make you appear to be incompetent.”  Lily was still holding Severus by the arm.  Her grip became vise-like as her voice took on a dangerous tone.  “If you don’t trust anything else I say to you this year, trust this: I feel just as strongly about my work as you do about yours.  I promise you that I will always work to the best of my abilities, I will not do anything to compromise your performance in Potions, and I don’t expect you to do anything to compromise my performance, either.  Have I made myself clear?”

 

It took a lot to shock Severus Snape.  He had never seen this side of Lily Evans before.  The contempt in her voice would put Salazar Slytherin himself to shame.  With wide eyes, he looked down at the delicate hand with a death grip on his arm.  “Abundantly,” Severus murmured.  “Now may I have my arm back please?  You’re cutting off the circulation, and I will need to use it today.”

 

Lily’s demeanor changed instantly.  “Oh…sorry!”  She hastily removed her hand.  “As long as we’re on the same page, we shouldn’t have any problems this year, should we?”  She gave him a nervous smile and said, “I suppose I should be heading down to breakfast now.  I’ll see you in Potions.”  She whirled around and left a dumbstruck Severus Snape behind her.

 

Hell hath no fury like the wrath of Lily Evans, Severus thought to himself as he rubbed his very sore arm.

 

*~*~*~*

 

With a new understanding, Lily and Severus began their second Potions class together.  They both sat silently while they waited for Professor Slughorn to give them the potion that they would be working on this semester.  Severus sat up straight in his seat, arms folded across his chest as he waited.  Lily sat with her elbow on the table, propping her head up, and drumming the fingers of her free hand in an erratic, staccato rhythm.

 

“Would you mind terribly not doing that?” Severus hissed.  “Five minutes ago, that incessant tapping was merely an annoyance.  In those five minutes, it has evolved from annoying to maddening, and is now on the brink of becoming extremely infuriating.”

 

Lily peered at Severus as she continued to tap.  “I tap my fingers when I’m bored.  Since you’re obviously not going to engage in conversation with me, I’ve got to occupy my time somehow.”  She rolled her eyes and sighed.  “And would it have killed you to simply say, ‘Please stop?’  You really enjoy hearing yourself speak, don’t you?”

 

“Enjoy hearing myself speak?  Oh, I’m sorry.  You must have me confused with one of your little Gryffindor friends.  Potter and Black are sitting in the back of the room with the other dunderheads.”  With a saccharine smile on his face, Severus turned to look at Lily.  “Please stop,” he said with the same nauseating sweetness in his voice.

 

“No problem.”  Lily sat up and turned to look at him.  “So, what do you want to talk about?”

 

“I never said I was going to talk to you.  We don’t have anything to discuss unless it has something to do with Potions.”

 

“Oh, come on!”  Lily surveyed the classroom.  “Professor Slughorn has only given out half the potions, and it looks as though we’ll be receiving ours dead last.  And if you’re worried about your standing within Slytherin, no one is watching us.  They’re either busy beginning to work with their potions, or they’re bored out of their minds, like me!  We’re going to be working together all year; we might as well get to know each other.  That’s what the Professor wants, isn’t it?”

 

Severus studied Lily for a few moments.  She does have a point.  I’m just as bored as she is.  Besides, I might learn something useful.  “Alright, then.  What do you suppose we should talk about?”

 

“Well, since you don’t think we have anything else to discuss, why not discuss Potions?  How far ahead have you studied Advanced Potion Making?”

 

Severus eyed Lily curiously.  “Why do you assume I’ve studied ahead?”

 

Lily gave him a lopsided grin.  “Because you wouldn’t be as good as you are if you hadn’t.  I know from experience.  For instance…”  She quickly produced her own copy of Advanced Potion Making, quickly thumbing through the pages.  “…when making the Draught of Living Death, do you prefer cutting your sopophorous bean, as the textbook suggests, or crushing it?  I’ve found that crushing the bean produces much more juice than cutting it does.”

 

For the second time in one day, Severus was shocked.  This girl actually knows what she’s doing.  I thought it was a fluke, but she has talent.  Severus quickly recovered.

 

“I crush them, naturally.  Of course, the key to producing the Draught of Living Death is stirring the potion properly.  If you stir according to the textbook, you’ll be stirring all day waiting for the potion to become clear.”

 

Lily nodded her head in agreement.  “I know!  I worked out that if you add a clockwise stir after every seventh counterclockwise stir, you get the desired results much sooner.”

 

Professor Slughorn picked that precise moment to arrive at their table.  “Oh, splendid!  My two star pupils engaging in profound academic conversation!  I toyed with the idea of pairing each of you with students whose grades could benefit from your influence.  But the opportunity to pair the two most brilliant minds I’ve encountered in all my years of teaching was just too good to pass up!

 

“Now, then, I’m sure you want to get started.  I’ve given everyone else potions that I plan on mentioning in class this term.  If they listen, take notes, and pay attention to the potions that I’m going to teach them, they should be able to figure out what potions they have, and how to reproduce them.”  Professor Slughorn began bouncing on his feet in excitement.  “But I felt I needed to make the project more challenging for the two of you.  You are completely on your own.  I won’t be making reference to the potion I’m about to give you at any time during the term.  I will only say this: this potion takes a while to brew, so time is of the essence if you want to be able to reproduce it before the Christmas holidays.”  Professor Slughorn produced two vials that were filled with the same silver potion.  “You each get your own vial.  I fully expect you to work together on this project, but if you need to work separately, you’ll be able to.”

 

As Professor Slughorn walked away, Lily muttered, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he wanted us to breed or something.”  She quickly glanced at Severus.  Through the curtain of lank, black hair, she could’ve sworn she saw the corner of his mouth twitch a bit.

 

*~*~*~*

 

Nothing pleased Sirius Black more than watching a good plan come to fruition.  Coming up with a good plan was great fun, but watching it play out and unfold was the best part.  All summer he’d tried to think of a way to help James get Lily Evans’s attention.  He’d finally decided that a classic approach would be the best way for James to interact with Lily – James asking Lily to tutor him in Potions.  It was so simple; Sirius had literally kicked himself for not thinking of it sooner.  Now, because of Professor Slughorn’s crackpot idea, Sirius would have to rethink his plan.

 

If his best mate’s less-than-cheery disposition was any indication of what his sixth year would be like, Sirius would have to modify his plan quickly.  Several times during the duration of Potions class, Sirius caught James watching Lily and Snape at the front of the classroom.  To Sirius, James seemed to be a ghost of his former self.  He’d looked beaten; whipped even.  Usually, they’d pull a couple of pranks, and Prongs would be as good as new.  Today, James had looked as though the whole world could have come crashing down around him, and he wouldn’t have cared, or even noticed for that matter.  It had truly been a sad sight to see.

 

Now, Sirius lay stretched out on the sofa in front of the common room fireplace, completely alone.  Everyone else was in the Great Hall eating dinner.  Sometimes, Sirius would eat early so he could have a little time to himself.  He often came up with the best plans that way.  When he heard someone coming down the stairs, he quickly picked up the book he’d been reading earlier and pretended to read.  Experience had taught him that nothing said “Shove off” better than holding a book in front of your face.

 

Sirius Black did not have much experience with Cressida Corwin.

 

A Lycanthropic History of Man by Ulrich Rawlings.  Hmm…didn’t we work on werewolves in Defense Against the Dark Arts last year?  I distinctly remember a question about them during the O.W.L. exam last June.”

 

“You know, when most people – sane people – see somebody reading a book, they tend to leave that person alone,” Sirius murmured.  “Why don’t you try it?”

 

Undeterred, Cressida sat in one of the armchairs in front of the fireplace.  “Sanity is overrated.  Insane people have more fun.”  She swiveled around so that her legs were hanging off of one of the arms of the chair.  “They talk to people who aren’t there.  They hear things no one else hears.  They get to run starkers through the streets, holding salamis, and screaming ‘Free the Meatpeople! Free the Meatpeople!’  I’ll have to try that sometime.”  Sirius peeped around the side of the book to see Cressida grinning at him.

 

Sirius went back to his book.  “Do you want something, or are you just being irritating for the fun of it?”

 

“Yes.”  Cressida giggled as she swung her legs around, jumped out of the chair, and moved Sirius’s legs out of the way.  “Budge up, Sirius!  You don’t own this couch, you know.”  Grudgingly, Sirius moved over so Cressida could sit next to him.  This was the first full view Sirius had gotten of Cressida since she entered the room.  As usual, she was wearing Muggle clothing.  She had on a black t-shirt that looked a size or two too small.  Emblazoned across the front of the shirt was a pair of big red lips with a big red tongue sticking out.  His eyes traveled downward to see that she was wearing a pair of jeans that were snug in all the right places, and began flaring out at the knee.  What do Muggles call them?  Ding bells?  Bell tops?  Oh, yeah!  Bellbottoms!

 

“I’ve got a proposition for you, Sirius,” Cressida said, bringing Sirius back to the conversation.

 

“Oh, really?”  Sirius draped his arm over the back of the sofa.  “Last I heard you were propositioning that seventh year Ravenclaw bloke who plays keeper for their Quidditch team in a closet on the second floor.”

 

For an instant, Cressida’s smile wavered, but she recovered quickly.  “I didn’t know you were interested, Sirius.  Unfortunately for you, it’s not that type of proposition.”

 

Sirius stared at Cressida as if he were trying to figure her out.  “Now, you’ve piqued my interest.  What is this about?”

 

Cressida curled her legs underneath her.  “Well, it’s simple.  We have a mutual problem.  We need a mutual solution.  I’ve been watching James since last year.  He’s infatuated with Lily, isn’t he?”

 

Sirius knew that Lily and Cressida were joined at the hip.  This could be interesting.  But don’t look too eager!  “Maybe.  Maybe not.  What business is it of yours?” 

 

“It’s none of my business.  Not my business at all.  It’s just that I think they would make a great couple, even if Lily says he’s an immature git.”

 

Sirius turned to face Cressida.  “She thinks he’s an immature git?  This conversation is useless if that’s the case.”

 

Cressida sighed.  “You boys never listen.  You never read between the lines.  I said ‘Lily says he’s an immature git.’  I didn’t say she thinks he’s an immature git.”

 

“So?  What’s the difference?”

 

Cressida pulled her chopsticks out of her pocket and began pinning her hair up.  Sirius caught the faintest trace of a pleasant, flowery scent as she did so.

 

“OK, Sirius.  I’ll go slowly so that you can understand.  The thing you have to realize about Lily is that she knows bullshit when she sees it.  All the things that you and James do to look cool, it’s all for show.  Lily wants someone real.  Someone genuine.   Lily has called him all sorts of things over the years, and not without good reason, mind you.  Let’s face it; you two have done some pretty stupid things.  But, I digress.  The reason she said all those things is because she knows that James can do better.  That he can be better.  Trust me, she likes him.  She wouldn’t have wasted her breath saying all those things if she didn’t.”

 

“So, you think that James stands a chance with Lily?”

 

Cressida rolled her eyes.  “Haven’t you been listening?  Yes!  So the question is what are we going to do about it?”

 

Sirius quickly revealed to Cressida his original plan involving James asking Lily to tutor him in Potions.  “Well,” said Cressida, “it’s simple.  And it’s a classic.  However, with this new project Slughorn has you all working on, she may have extra studying to do.  I’ll bring it up to her and see what she says about her schedule.”  Cressida stood up and stretched her arms above her head.  “In the meantime, tell James to cheer up.  He usually looks quite sweet, but lately he just looks bloody awful.”

 

Sirius chuckled and shook his head.  “Hey, before you go…what the hell is that on your shirt?”

 

Cressida looked down at the big red lips and tongue on her shirt.  “The Stones?  You don’t know about The Rolling Stones?  Oh, you poor, poor boy.  Such a sheltered pure-blood childhood you’ve had.”  She leaned over and purred, “I’ll have to educate you sometime.”  With that, she turned around and sauntered back upstairs, knowing that Sirius was watching her every move.

 

I wonder what the lesson plan will be.  Nothing pleased Sirius Black more than watching a good plan come to fruition.

//
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