Chapter 21: A Brewing Storm
The night went on for an extremely long time. Not once did I look up. Not even when Mulciber tried to shake me from a slumber I wasn’t in. When, finally, I did look up, the sun was peeking its bald head above the trees of the Forbidden Forest and my friends’ breathing beat the air in a calming rhythm.
I lay there with my chin in the crook of my elbow, watching the sunrise turn the grounds a sad, washed out pink. Maybe, on a different day, I would have found the colours vibrant and beautiful. But I couldn’t appreciate it. Grief does strange things to people.
Avery stirred slightly and I turned my head as far as I could without moving my stiff body but he rolled over and his breathing became slow and deep once more. My head flopped back to rest on my arm and a bead of sweat rolled from my hairline, down my nose and onto my night shirt. I had had a rough night.
With difficulty, I turned onto my back, clenching my teeth with the effort and breathed in deeply. I wondered how Lily was. I wondered why her eyes were brown. I realised how much I missed the emerald green. I hoped they would return to normal. I hoped she would return to normal.
As bright light filtered through the glass in the window, one by one, my dorm mates stirred slowly and drew in a sharp intake of breath as they woke to a new day. They dressed and made their way out into the Common Room, an unspoken web of agreement not to disturb me spun between them.
After Longbottom had closed the door to the dormitory staircase behind him I sat up and looked around the room. The dorm was in a state of disarray. Night-clothes were strewn over the ends of beds and belongings were spread over the ground. I sighed loudly and pressed my palms into my eyes and looked up again. The room took a little while to focus but after some white lights popped into my vision, I could see clearly again.
I swung my legs over the edge of my bed and stood up. I swayed slightly and clapped my hands to the side of my head then quickly gripped the post of my bed with one hand as I threatened to topple over. Ugh.
I slid my right foot across the floor so that it was in front of the other one and swayed. Then I put my left foot in front of my right and continued to grab my dorm mates’ bed posts for support as I made my way towards the door. I closed my eyes to give them a rest from focussing and my hand found the cool metal of the doorknob. I twisted it, nearly overbalancing myself in the process.
A warm breeze rushed over my face as the air warmed by the fire in the common room escaped into the cold depths of our dormitory. I opened my eyes at the sound of a familiar voice.
‘Severus!’ Lucius Malfoy was sitting on a chair outside our dormitory and pouring over an Astronomy text book. He leant over and retrieved a tray of breakfast from the side of his chair. ‘You’re not going to class today. You’re not even going down to breakfast today.’
‘Why not?’ I asked and my voice came out in a low rasping rumble. I felt dizzy from the use of my voice and I gripped the door frame for support.
‘That’s why.’ He watched me struggling to hold myself upright. ‘Here’s some breakfast.’ He picked up the tray and held it out to me. I looked at him incredulously. He held it there with an expectant look on his face and then realised why I looked like I did. ‘On second thoughts… I’ll carry it for you. How about that?’
I nodded and made my way to a table down in the common room. Malfoy placed the tray in front of me and told me to eat up and that I would feel better when I had put some food into my body.
He was wrong and I ran to the bathroom to throw up the food I had just eaten. When I came back Lucius stood up. ‘You’re just in shock, Snape.’
‘I figured that much.’ My stomach flipped. ‘I want to go and see Lily.’
‘Snape you are in no state to leave the common room.’
‘I don’t care. I just need to see her.’ I needed to see that she was alright. If she died I would lose the only happy part of myself.
‘You can’t! Dumbledore made me promise not to let you out of the Common Room!’
I ignored him and stumbled towards the exit. I felt Lucius’s hand on my arm and I flinched. ‘Oh no. You’re not going anywhere.’ Malfoy’s mouth was close to my ear and he spoke in a quiet menacing tone. ‘Get upstairs. Now.’
I didn’t have a choice. With Malfoy’s help, I made my way back up the dormitory stairs and into bed. As Lucius shut the door with a quiet snap I closed my eyes. A tear ran down my cheek as I fell into blackness.
I woke to the sound of my friends coming in from dinner. They crowded around my bed and talked in hushed tones.
‘He’s still asleep!’ someone whispered.
‘How long has he been asleep for?’
‘Do you think he’s dead?’
‘He’s not dead you idiot!’ somebody hissed loudly.
‘Maybe he’s enchanted.’
I opened my eyes, stretched and yawned.
‘Oh thank god!’ Longbottom exclaimed. ‘We thought you were dead!’
‘No we didn’t!’ Mulciber said harshly. Then, turning to me he continued. ‘He thought you were dead.’
I managed a weak smile.
‘How are you feeling?’ Avery asked me sympathetically.
‘I’ve never been worse.’
‘Okay…’ he said, unsure of what to say.
They busied themselves with getting ready for bed and turned the lights out. Soon, the only sound I could hear was their slow rhythmic breathing and the sound of crickets and cicadas yelling and swearing in their prime hour outside the castle.
Everything was quiet.
I swung my legs over the side of my bed, relishing in the excited jolt my stomach gave as I pictured what it would be like to talk to Lily alone in the hospital wing.
Having been bedridden all day, I now felt up to walking. I put on my school shoes with my pyjamas still on and I walked out of the dormitory and down the stairs and out of the common room.
I stopped before ascending the dungeon stairs and my eyes gravitated towards the door at the end of the corridor. Behind this door, a scrabbling noise could be heard for the Death Eater was awake. Bellatrix Lestrange was the reason for so many things happening this year. I wondered why Dumbledore insisted on having her locked up. Who cares if she goes back to Voldemort? She won’t be much help to him in this state anyway.
I shrugged and walked up the stairs to the Entrance Hall. I made sure the coast was clear before continuing up the grand staircase to the hospital wing corridor. It was dark and quiet behind the door so I pushed it open, flinching as it creaked loudly.
Lily was the only one in the hospital wing as Madam Kendle had gone to bed. Lily was lying on the bed next to the wall that was furthest from the door.
I crept closer to her bedside and touched her hand. She jolted awake and looked around wildly for her disturber.
‘Lil! It’s me!’ I hissed.
‘Sev?’ she whispered.
‘What are you doing here?’ Lily’s voice sounded angry.
‘Madam Kendle will catch you and you will be in SO much trouble!’
“I don’t care. I just needed to see you and know if you were okay.”
‘I’m fine! Now go away before you get caught out of bed after hours!’
‘Severus! What are you doing in the hospital wing?’ My stomach flipped and I jumped as a loud voice sounded behind me.
I turned as lights came on in the room. Madam Kendle was standing in the doorway to her quarters wearing her night dress and her night cap.
‘I – I –’
‘Visiting your friend?’
I nodded sheepishly.
Kendle strode over to me. I stiffened as she walked behind me, expecting her to grab my arm and steer me out of the room but instead she pulled out two chairs next to the bed and sat in one. She gestured for me to sit down in the other so I sat down slowly, expecting a trick.
Kendle looked at me expectantly. Her face was a vision of guilt and distress. Lily was looking from me to the teacher incredulously.
‘Well, why are you here boy?’
‘Er… I suppose I just needed to know that Lily was alright… And…’
‘And what, Sev?’ Lily asked innocently.
‘The other day… Lily’s eyes were brown and not green…’
Lily gasped. ‘You noticed…’
‘There is a simple explanation for that.’
‘There is?’ I asked, confused. ‘Is she possessed? Oh please tell me she’s not –’
‘No she’s not possessed, Snape! How could you think such a thing?’ Kendle asked incredulously. Lily looked confused.
‘What does possessed mean?’
‘Lily you know what possessed means!’ I felt weak with relief and tense with worry. I turned back to Kendle whose eyebrows were creased with guilt and worry. ‘Then what’s wrong with her eyes?’ I asked.
‘Memories make your eyes brighter, or, for people with brown eyes, darker. As memories are erased, your eyes grow paler until they turn an ugly, unnatural brown.’
‘Don’t interrupt, Sev, she’s not finished,’ Lily told me.
I nodded to Madam Kendle to show her that she could continue.
‘Professor Dumbledore gave me an order to erase the memories of the night you both suffered concussions and Infirmos and Regina were possessed.’
‘What happened to them?’ Lily asked. ‘Are they ok?’
I looked at her incredulously until I remembered she had something wrong with her head.
Madam Kendle continued as though she hadn’t heard. ‘But when we tried, we found that both of you had put up walls around the memories to protect them. I was following strict orders, you see.’ Her gravelly voice broke slightly. ‘So I was forced to try to break down those walls.’
‘That sounds painful,’ I said simply. ‘But why can I still remember everything?’
Lily was silent.
‘Severus, your walls were much too strong for an ordinary witch like me to take down. When you were examined closely, we found that you were actually subconsciously performing a type of Occlumency.’
‘It’s a type of learned magic that helps you protect your mind from invasion.’
‘Oh. My mother taught me how.’
Lily was silent.
‘Lily, yours were strong, but not strong enough. We broke down the walls and succeeded in erasing the memories.’
Lily was silent.
‘We –’ Madam Kendle’s eyes welled with tears. ‘We created a domino effect; her memories began to erase themselves one by one.’
‘No,’ I whispered.
‘I don’t think she can remember anything except for people’s names now and who they are to her,’ Madam Kendle choked on the end of her sentence.
‘But – why wouldn’t she tell me?’ I whispered feeling like my heart was breaking all over again. ‘You’ll be able to fix her won’t you?’ Tears pricked the corners of my eyes and my throat burned with unsaid words.
Madam Kendle sighed. ‘No. I won’t be able to. Basically, if we don’t get her help, all of her memories will slowly disappear until she can’t remember anything at all. How to feel, how to move, how to breathe…’
Instead of feeling upset, my chest swelled with rage. SHE DID THIS TO HER! SHE DID THIS AND SHE WON’T EVEN TRY TO FIX IT! But I didn’t yell. I waited as I saw that the professor had more to say.
‘I will be sending her to St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries tomorrow morning. Early. They’ll be able to fix her. Her memories should be restored by the end of term which, if I remember correctly, is in a couple of days.’
I made a sound that I had never made before. It was a cross between a shaky sigh and a groan. ‘Oh my god!’ I exclaimed in a whisper. ‘You nearly killed me!’ And then I laughed. I never thought I’d laugh again but I laughed.
Madam Kendle was encouraged by my overjoyed face and suddenly looked happy that she had cheered me up and confident that she was in the right. ‘And we have cured anything else that could possibly be wrong with her! Her brain damage and everything!’
Lily was silent.
Lily was silent.
‘I think it’s time for you to go, Severus.” Madam Kendle’s face had fallen back into a vision of guilt and distress. I turned back to Lily and saw her moving her mouth in what looked like painful circular motions. She looked confused and scared. ‘It appears Miss Evans has forgotten how to talk.’
My recent euphoria drained from my face along with any colour I had managed to recover while I was laughing.
Madam Kendle was off her seat and herding me towards the double doors.
‘Off you go! She’ll be off to St Mungo’s in the morning. Get some sleep! You look like a walking hell.’
She pushed me out into the corridor and shut the doors promptly behind me. I paused and then turned around to stare at the doors in bewilderment. It all happened so quickly.
I made my way back down the stairs and caught my reflection in the knee deep water pooling out of Professor Gibliry’s office. Wow. I do look like a living hell.
I made my way slowly over to the door and turned the knob. A wave of water flooded out. It knocked me off my feet and with a swooping sensation in my stomach, I was swept away down the corridor.
My head was pushed under the surface and I tried to breather but got a lungful of water. Then and there, I thought I was going to die.
Spluttering and drowning in the darkness, I floundered around trying to find something to grab onto something – anything. My hand found an object and, with a mental cry of happiness, used it to push myself to the surface. I gasped as my head came above the water and drew in a huge lungful of air. My hands slipped slightly on the slimy object and I cried out in surprise as I was pushed under the raging torrent again. I grappled with the waves but I kept being swept down the corridor.
My muscles began to ache and my chest screamed for air. My hair was waving everywhere and my eyes stung from opening them underwater. I felt my eyes begin to close with fatigue and my head cracked against a wall. Suddenly, just as I had given up hope of ever breathing again, my back slammed into something hard and the water evened out. I found my way to the surface and gasped and retched wondering how I had gotten out of that situation.
I was starting to cheer up and wonder why there was so much water in Professor Gibliry’s office when I saw something that made my heart stop in my chest.