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Rating: PG-13 for some slightly dark images.
Disclaimer: They're all J. K. Rowling's, and I've got the feeling that she'd have my head for this.
Summary: Severus dreams, heavy on the symbolism. AU.
Notes: Written for the_blank_slate, a multi-fandom RPG where characters are mystically transported to a desert island that has some crazy tendencies of its own. Random items appear of personal significance, the food never runs out in the kitchen, dinosaurs run around part of the island, there is no magic, and strange events like bodyswapping happen every so often. After a very stressful period where it seems as though all his relationships have been destroyed by his own Snape-ness, he dreams. The 'Toby' mentioned in the dream is a young man with whom Snape has an on-again, off-again, turbulant sort of relationship. There's so much more to this little ficlet than that, but it's hard to explain the game's whole canon and Snape's backstory there in this little space. If you're interested in what the dream meant, just let me know and I'll explain it. Originally posted April 2006.
Severus should know by now that his dreams only bring trouble.
In his world, he could stop the dreams from coming. A simple potion was all it would take and then his slumber would be unblemished, untainted by the mutterings of his subconscious.
Here was a different story.
Every night, he fell into a restless sleep, tormented by what his insides felt that he should know, and tonight was no different.
He was seated at the head of a long, low table -- one of the many House tables for students in the Great Hall. His hands were tied behind his back and body bound to the chair, head slumped down between two sloped shoulders. Severus was clad in Muggle clothes, blue and grey and tan, changing every time he blinked. The room was dark save for a lone candelabra at the centre of the table, which flickered in an unearthly wind.
"What are you seeking, my child?" came a booming male voice from the opposite end of the room. The speaker was shrouded in night, invisible from Severus' end of the table.
"I don't know," he croaked hoarsely.
"What are you seeking, my child?" The words rang out again, only this time from a familiar female voice. The flame of the candelabra grew more intense, and a plain looking woman's face flickered in the glow.
"Mother?" He wrenched his head up, straining to see in the darkness.
No reply, just the same phrase. "I ask a third time. What is it you are seeking, my child?" A third voice this time -- young, hopeful, eager. The flame grew higher for a moment, and he saw a shock of blonde hair before the candles went low again.
"I don't know," he replied, pitch raising into a whine.
Suddenly, the bonds holding him to the chair broke, and he tumbled to the ground, now clad in voluminous black robes. The world changed, and he was now sprawled on the floor of the Astronomy Tower, carnage and wreckage around him.
"What are you seeking, my son?" The first voice again, and he looked straight up into the eyes of Albus Dumbledore, whose wand was pointed casually at Severus' chest.
His eyes went wide. "I don't know, Albus." He struggled to stand but found he couldn't; his robes were weighed down with bags of sand. He didn't even have the mobility to contort out of his robes.
Albus morphed into his mother morphed into Toby morphed back to Albus, all in the blink of an eye. "You know, otherwise you wouldn't be here."
Severus closed his eyes for a moment.
Why was he here?
He was here because he had a job to do.
He nodded resolutely, opening his eyes again to stare at his mentor. "I seek absolution. Forgiveness for my sins."
"Then you shall have it, my Severus," a chorus of voices -- male and female, young and old -- replied at once. Albus looked down at him, a twinkle in his eyes, as he said sadly, "Avada kedavra," and Severus went sailing from the tower in a delicate arc.
"Absolution," he said as the wind carried him down, down, down.
"Forgiveness," he said, as the earth opened him up to swallow him whole.
"Beginnings," he said as he landed with a soft oomph on a familiar expanse of beach.
Severus awoke with a start, sitting straight up in his bed. "Damn you, Albus, he muttered under his breath, bringing his hands to his face to hold in an expression of pure anguish.
Dreams, Severus decided, were even more useless when they were trying to tell him something than when they were simply nonsensical drivel.