Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 26 of 35

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Just Let It Happen

Severus blinked away the sleep from his eyes. It wasn't hard. Any form of sleep had in Azkaban prison was never heavy. With a practiced formality, he got to his feet and methodically checked himself all over, wondering vaguely why he continued to do such an erroneous act every day. As usual, his hands were scraped and bruised, but there was a lump on the back of his head that hadn't been there before and he grimaced as he ran his hand over it. He must have hit his head against the wall at some point during the night, though he did not remember doing so. He shrugged.

As always, Severus then assessed his surroundings. Quite obviously there was a very limited space in which to roam inside his tiny cell—but within days of Severus's occupation of said cell he had soon discovered that every time he woke it was to find himself in a different place than where he initially fell asleep. He also never failed to acquire mysterious injuries during the night—most of which were on his hands and which suggested to him that not only was he sleepwalking, but he must also be beating the walls, maybe shaking the bars—had he been screaming? There was no way to know, but his throat often felt raw upon waking.

For months, now, he had known nothing else. Sleeping, waking, assessing—this was his life—and it was always, always through an ever-increasing haze of unidentifiable pain. He occupied a hellish nightmare, it was nearly unbearable. Unbearable, that is, except for one miraculous, saving grace: Whenever he dreamed, he dreamed. He had never once been prone to night terrors. Not one! Azkaban inmates were always so famed for their dreadful screams in the dark, for losing their minds after reliving the horrors of their own guilt over and over in their subconscious thoughts, mercilessly haunted by the demons of their past whenever they dared close their eyes.

But, Severus, it seemed, was spared this torture. At least, initially. Sleeping had become his solace, not his bane. Whenever he managed to drift out of consciousness (which was very rare; sleep had always been difficult for him, and now it was nearly impossible with so many moans and yells reverberating the walls of his dwelling) he would always find himself somewhere else. He would find himself back in the Pruitt's cottage, with a fire roaring, a light snow pattering against the dark windowpane, and with a sweet-smelling, honey-haired girl at his side as he held her in his arms without any intention of ever letting go. Most surprising of all, they were never surreal or over-dramatic, these dreams. Nothing implausible seemed to take place. This was what gave them such a deep sense of satisfaction, an almost believable comfort and alacrity. It was as though she were really there. She would speak to him, argue with him, slap him, kick him, kiss him, embrace him—every moment of it so real, and every moment of it more precious than... anything he'd ever possessed.

He savored those dreams as best he could. He made love to her every chance he got, ravished her, something he had never been able to do in reality. He took her in every room of that cottage—always so powerful, hungry. He gave it everything he had, for, despite their initial resonance, his dreams were growing weaker, getting shorter with each passing day. Despite everything, despite their importance, the sharpness of his feelings began to lose their clarity, their edge. Upon waking, he was soon struggling to recall what he had once felt, but was unable to remember exactly what it was that he searched for. He knew, in theory, how it felt—he remembered how merely the thought of her had excited such feelings within him as to create an almost unbearable distraction of body and mind, so it was all the more frustrating that he was unable to recall those feelings now. He thought of her, and the fire barely even sparked. Soon, nothing happened at all. In a matter of weeks, indifference began to swallow him. He couldn't remember what in the world could have possibly possessed him to be so overcome; he couldn't even be bothered to spare the energy to pursue the answer. What had all the fuss been about? Why so obsessed? Why so lost in her looks and charms—he couldn't even remember them. He could barely even recall the color of her hair. Honey brown, he would say to himself. Honey brown. Honey brown. But it was useless. All he knew now was cold, hunger, anger—bitter reality. Reality.

As the sun set on his eighty-seventh day in Azkaban prison (though he was unaware of the sun's passage, as he had not been awarded a window within this dank, musty cell), he knew fully and absolutely where he was, what his chances were, and as he stood there gazing into what he saw as an endless expanse of lonely misery stretching out before him until the day he died, he found that his only available option was to accept it. On his eighty-seventh day in Azkaban prison, Severus let go of his dreams. He pulled that ridiculous image of Hermione Granger out of the back of his mind with an almighty yank, and, as unceremoniously as he could, dropped it altogether, resolved never to think of her again. It was so much better to get it over and done with all at once, rather than let it fester and wane, disappear in that slow, painful way. Like a wasting disease.

Severus stretched and then leaned against the wall of his cell, his knees already beginning to tremble. He was too tired to stand up for very long—he was very weak. Most of his time was spent sprawled out on the floor, or curled up in the corner. He'd left his dignity at the doorstep long ago, and so had no more qualms about betraying his weakness.

Of course, who was there for him to betray his weakness to, anyway? The Dementors. No one.

As Severus let go control over his muscles and allowed himself to sink against the wall as heavy and immovable as though he had been cemented there, he thought again about all the information he knew but could not share. Travers. Travers had knowledge of the Dark Lord's whereabouts and status—his location, how many Death Eaters were still under his control—and these were all things that Severus now knew as well. If only he could somehowconvey to the Order this information, that would be enough to go on, to finally get this ultimate battle underway. If only he could let them know—This was the time to strike! The Dark Lord was distracted, frustrated; his minions were running rampant through Britain, attacking Muggles and causing havoc without intelligence or direction. Many of them had already been caught by the Ministry due to the foolishness of their actions, which Severus could damn well attest to, because they were often marched directly past his cell when they arrived.

It was in those moments, as their hooded eyes and gnashing teeth bore down on him as they passed, that he realized how surrounded he was by enemies, how dearly those on both sides of his prison walls wanted him dead. He had no allies! None. Any second if a Dementor decided to swoop down upon him and suck out his soul for no authoritative reason, there wasn't anyone to give a damn! Not the Ministry, not the Wizarding population, not the Death Eaters (and certainly not their Master). Dumbledore would mourn him, Severus thought. Perhaps. But such was his life and the way he lived it, that Severus was never, never entirely sure that this pledge of friendship was out of true devotion to him as a person, or simply to him as a spy. Or for some other reason he had yet to uncover.

But Hermione Granger would care, wouldn't she? He didn't know, quite frankly. It struck him that he could never truly be sure—how could he? She was long gone from his life now and he had heard nothing from anyone for so long. How was he to know she hadn't already shut him from her mind (like he had tried to do with her) and moved on with her life? Perhaps she was already happily ensconced in the arms of that harebrained Weasley. Smiling. Laughing. Perhaps she had already forgotten him.

Certainly the Order seemed to have done so. Those people, that "devoted" group of comrades he had so pledged his life to help and protect had simply left him here to rot. He might as well be dead, honestly. …Except for the fact that he knew where Voldemort was. He knew where to go and how to strike, and yet it was all for naught!

If only he could tell his story. If only there was someone to tell his story to. Someone to believe him. It wasn't possible, but he wanted to allow himself the hope that it was.

Why hadn't Dumbledore sent word? Why had there been… nothing… for so long? Quite obviously Severus didn't expect them all to gear up, suit up, and storm the prison, winning him back his freedom in a blaze of triumphant glory—but was lifting a finger in his defense entirely out of line?

Severus Snape did not mind being hated. He minded being ignored.

It was a very long and painful hour before sleep finally claimed him again—even then it was still weak and restless. He felt removed from his body enough for time to pass quickly, but he was every second aware of where he was. The hard stone against his side and his shoulder and his cheek, the deeply profound frigidness in the air, the snorts and sniffles coming from the cell next to his, the screams raining down from some poor bastard on the floor above, the pitter-patter of… paws…

Severus jerked fully awake as something small and wet touched him abruptly on the tip of his nose. It was another nose, an animal's nose.

It was very dark. The only light to see by came from the torches hanging somewhere on the walls outside his cell. But his eyes had long become accustomed to his environment, so when he found himself face to face with his new visitor, he knew precisely, immediately who it was.

A loud pounding developed in his ears, like drumbeats, and all at once, the world came to a screeching, shuddering, bone jarring halt. As the breath left his lungs, he managed to gasp out one word:


Severus felt his heart all but explode, so overwhelmed with unfamiliar emotions, sharp, intense. He was instantly trembling, sick with wonder and apprehension. A heavy red haze had begun to form somewhere behind his eyes. "Granger, what the hell are you—"

Granger made a sharp hissing sound and Severus instantly snapped his mouth shut, the red haze growing stronger than ever. He realized at once that the haze was fear.

Hearing the unmistakable swish of cloaks, Severus then felt the inevitable pain in his gut increase double fold as two hooded Dementors glided as smooth as glass into view outside the bars of his cage, the edge of their garments sweeping lightly over the stone floor. One continued forward out of sight, but the other hung back, looming, quiet and ominous by the padlocked door, it's breath rattling.

Granger sat still as stone close beside Severus's right elbow. Severus averted his eyes from the Dementor, using his peripheral vision to keep track of its movements as it turned to look at him. He felt his heart beating so strongly inside his chest, his veins pulsing wildly with hot, thick, living blood through every inch of his body. He tried to calm himself—the Dementor was sensing his excitement. It was curious, intrigued. It must have felt his emotions and undoubtedly it hungered greedily for them. After all, most of the captives it currently guarded were, at best, half dead already, therefore offering poor fodder for a meal. Then, of course, there was the presence of a new soul in the room that had piqued the Dementor's interest… Surely that was not so uncommon, Severus tried to reason. Azkaban had rats a plenty, and a rabbit was not so much bigger than that…

Severus got hold of himself. It had been a long time since he had last needed to do so, but Severus knew how to handle this. He had spent every waking moment in the Dark Lord's presence under similar peril; the key was to keep it secret. Now, just as he had then, he bent every ounce of will he possessed into wiping clean his thoughts, banishing all notion or awareness of Granger's arrival from his head, slowing down his heart rate and allow only that dull, vacant, endless despair to once again fill his mind and soul.

The Dementor took in one more enormous, wheezing breath, paused, and then glided away—silent as snow on a winter's night.

But it didn't go far, maybe only a few cells down, for the frosty fear it emanated had not entirely receded.

Severus turned his head a fraction of an inch to stare down at Granger's small, furry silhouette. His eyes were wide and unblinking, his jaw clenched so tightly he felt like his teeth might shatter. Alright, then, he thought wildly. Alright. No talking. No talking. What is she doing here? How did she get here? WHAT THE HELL IS SHE DOING HERE?

The silence surrounding them was deafening, oppressive. As close as she was, Severus could just barely hear her breathing. It was rapid, erratic, short, yet oh so quiet. She was terrified.

(Which was all well and good because he damn well felt the same!)

Neither of them moved for several long moments, aware all the time of the nearby Dementor and what possible terror may await them if they were found out. Then, very sharply, very deliberately, Granger shook her head from side to side. She stopped and stared at him through the darkness.

Severus stared back, his pulse beginning to quicken again. What did she want? What was she trying to say to him? What the bloody hell could she—

Again, Granger shook her head, more firmly this time, and then stared at him once more, her big golden eyes wide and shining, telling him that what she was doing was deliberate, telling him to pay attention.

Her head, he thought. Something about her head. Why does she keep shaking her head? What did he need to know about…

And then he understood.

Her mind. She meant her mind. She wanted him to use Legilimency!

Brilliant girl!

At once Severus crouched down on the ground as low as he could, bracing himself firmly with both palms on the stone floor for balance. The important thing about wandless Legilimency was to first establish a strong foundation, a strong connection to the outside world and to yourself in connection to that world—or else it was all too easy to lose yourself in another's thoughts, perhaps indefinitely.

Severus gave her no warning, there was no time. He uttered no sound or spell, but instead, in the flick of an instant, dove ruthlessly, without restraint, deep into her wide open mind.

Immediately, Severus felt only one overwhelming emotion: Blind terror.


The pit of Severus's stomach fell away and he lost control for the briefest of moments, returning back to his own body.

Ever since Black's escape four years previously, in addition to the Dementors, the Ministry now employed trained Wizard guards to watch over select floors of Azkaban prison. These guards were, of course, protected around the clock by strong, unyielding Patronuses, and so their jobs were not necessarily dangerous or demanding—but they were meticulous sons of bitches, and did their jobs well. They were always keeping a close eye on their most loathed prisoners. Severus, suffice it to say, was very high on that list, which meant that he was "checked on" almost every hour on the hour to ensure that he hadn't somehow managed to escape—or even if he did, that the alarm was raised immediately.

Granger squeaked anxiously, jolting Severus back into action. He once more tore into Granger's thoughts, merciless in his efforts to understand. But it was far too chaotic, confusing. Every time he somewhat managed to grab something, it slipped away. It was like he was trying to grab water with his fist. She didn't know what to offer him, her thoughts were in too many different places at once. They were getting nowhere!

Severus took a deep breath. Give me a picture, he told her, as calmly as he could manage. We don't have time to go through it all step by step, I don't have time to look around, you're just going to have to put it all together for me. Give me a picture—the whole picture. You understand? The whole picture. Do it now!

She couldn't do it.

Hard though she tried, Severus could feel her falling ever faster into frustrated disarray. Such a feat would have been difficult in prime conditions anyway—but here, in the throes of panic and danger, it was near to impossible.

Okay, Granger, that's enough, that's enough—we'll have to do it another way. Brace yourself. You won't like this

And then, as quickly as he could, Severus mentally threw out his arms and swept everything, all at once, in one enormous collective heap, from her mind and into his. Even braced as he was against the ground, Severus swayed dangerously on all fours. Granger let out a whimper, hear ears twitching wildly. But a moment later it was over. Severus blinked. He knew the entire plan now, all of it, the whole picture. It took a moment for him to sort it out amidst the whirling threads of Granger's thoughts, but he worked quickly, and he didn't let his anxiety overtake him.

Then his head was clear, and he knew what to do. Severus reached out and slipped a necklace from around Granger's head, up over her ears, and then tucked it as far into his sleeve as he could. Hanging upon the necklace was a small pouch containing within it two bottles of freshly brewed polyjuice potion. It was imperative they stayed hidden. He would need them later.

Severus jumped as a loud metallic clang announced the opening of a door somewhere down the cellblock. This was followed immediately by several footsteps and the murmur of voices.

GO! Severus yelled into Granger's mind, his muscles tight, his arms screaming to enfold her in his protection rather than send her out once again into the world so defenseless and alone. I UNDERSTAND WHAT TO DO! I'LL BE READY FOR YOU, NOW GO! RUN! RUN!

Granger paused for only the merest fraction of a second, with her front paw raised in preparation to flee, her honey hazel eyes boring into his, bright and feverish with such fear and affection for him it simply made him ache.

My God, he thought to himself, so struck was he by the magnitude of graceful determination pent up in that one little body.

My God.

How he admired her.

And then, with just a flicker of whiskers and a flash of her white cotton tail, Hermione Granger was gone—through the gap in the bars of his cell and down the hall, past the hovering Dementor, as fast as her four paws could carry her.

Breathing heavily, heart hammering, shaking from head to toe, Severus once more curled up on the stone floor, his arms cradled against his chest, feeling the pressure of the tiny pouch tucked inside his sleeve and preparing himself. Preparing to wait. Wait for morning. Wait for his grand escape.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 26 of 35

<< Previous     Home     Next >>