Chapter 11 : A Cry in the Night
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A Cry in the Night
Both Severus and Alby had played so hard at the park that they were exhausted. After Ginny had made them a light supper of chicken noodle casserole and some fresh bread with butter, both boys were only too happy to go to bed, and neither of them even wanted dessert. Severus helped Alby into pajamas and then undressed himself. He brushed his teeth and used the toilet and then tumbled into sleep, he even missed the nightly bedtime story Ginny was reading to them. She had chosen one of Harry's favorites, The Children's King Arthur and His Knights, and was currently reading the Tale of Sir Gawain. Severus, whose favorite it was also, just couldn't keep his eyes open, and fell asleep as Ginny begun.
Not long after, Alby too was getting sleepy, and Ginny bookmarked her place and kissed her baby goodnight. "Pleasant dreams, my darling," she whispered as she tucked the covers around him.
She then went over to Severus and tucked his covers about him also and gently kissed his forehead. "Sleep well, Severus." Then she stood gazing at the small boy and smiling wistfully. She hoped that Severus would come to trust Harry and her, and learn that the past would never be held against him and they would always take care and love him like he was their own. Ginny's heart had been stolen away soon after Severus had arrived in their home, and all she wanted now was to just cuddle the five-year-old. But right now Severus wasn't ready for that, he was still shy and uncertain, and knowing what she did of his previous life, Ginny couldn't blame him.
So she contented herself with saying good night and then went downstairs to join Harry in listening to the Wizarding Wireless and eating a bowl of popcorn. They went to bed around eleven and slept deeply until they heard a bloodcurdling scream coming from the boys' room.
Harry sat bolt upright, all the hair standing out on the back of his neck. The next thing he heard was Alby crying, "Mummy! Daddy! I need you! I'm scared!"
Ginny was out of bed before Harry had time to stand up. "I'm coming, baby!"
Harry followed, wondering if his little boy had a bad dream.
But when he got into the room, he saw Alby sitting up, clutching Bucky, tears streaming down his face, and looking over at Severus.
Severus was thrashing about, all tangled in the covers, and it was he who had screamed, for another terrible cry emerged from his throat.
"Daddy, Sev' us screamin'. Make him stop!" Poor Alby was crying, seeing Severus and hearing him was frightening him terribly.
"I'll try, scamp," Harry said.
Ginny had already rushed over to Alby and was hugging and rocking him. "Hush, Alby. Did you have a bad dream?"
"No, Mummy. But Sev'us is. He screamed so loud he woke me right up!" Albys wrapped his arms around Ginny's neck and buried his face in her shoulder.
Harry approached Severus, his heart almost breaking for the boy. He had his own share of nightmares and could only imagine how horrible Severus' dreams must be to make him scream like that. He gently unwound the small boy from the sheets, then he sat down on the bed and gathered the still dreaming child into his lap. "Severus, wake up. You're all right now, son. Severus!" He shook the boy slightly and began rubbing his back. "Come on, buddy, wake up! I'm here, wake up!"
Severus groaned, and then all of a sudden he was awake. He stared at Harry without really seeing him, his dark eyes filled with terror and revulsion. "He . . . he killed them . . . he killed them all . . ." he gasped, choking on a sob. "All the little children . . . and all I could do was watch! I couldn't help them . . . couldn't save them . . . I let them die . . .!" he wailed.
"Shhh . . . it was a dream, Severus. " Harry soothed, knowing all the while that he lied. But he didn't want to scare Alby any more than he already was. He cradled Severus in his arms and carried him out of the room and into his own bedroom. Hopefully Ginny could get Albus back to sleep, but for now Harry would try and calm down Severus, who had been dreaming of his days as a Death Eater.
"It wasn't! And you know it!" came Severus's little voice, slightly muffled from being pressed against Harry's shirt. "It was real! It was real!" he began to cry softly.
Harry sat down with the little boy in the rocker, it was the place he always sat with Alby whenever the child came into their room and woke him crying over a bad dream, which wasn't very often. He slowly rocked back and forth, carding Severus' hair and murmuring, "You're okay, Severus. Nothing like that will ever happen again. I promise." He rubbed small circles on the former professor's back. "It's okay to cry. Go on."
Severus had been trying to cry quietly, for one thing he didn't like to cry, and he had been conditioned not to by his father. But for some reason with Harry he felt unafraid and his emotions were that of a five-year-old. No five-year-old who had seen what he had in his dreams would ever be able to endure it without crying. He put his head on Harry's shoulder and sobbed, the sobs coming faster and harder as he allowed himself to grieve over all the lost children.
For long moments Harry said nothing, just hugged his ward and rocked back and forth, the creak of the rocker a soothing counterpoint to the little boy's sobbing. Severus' cries tore at Harry, he remembered all too well crying like this after the war, over all the people he had lost, but especially the raven-haired child he now held in his arms. Then, Ginny had held him and comforted him. Now it was his turn.
Severus finally stopped crying, and for a moment he just lay against Harry's shoulder, trying to catch his breath. He couldn't remember crying this way in his former life . . . except when he had found Lily's body. His breath hitched and he felt Harry's hand rubbing his back. It felt so very good.
"Do you feel a little better?"
"Yes," was all Severus replied. It was true. He did feel slightly better.
"Good. Do you think you can take a Calming Draught and some Dreamless Sleep for me?" asked Harry softly.
Severus nodded. "But it won't be enough." He told Harry solemnly.
"Because they only mask the memories, they don't erase them," Severus said. He shivered. "I don't want to remember anymore, Harry. Not like that. I want to forget I ever watched innocent little children die." He shifted so he was sitting up and looking Harry in the eye. He had witnessed many terrible things in his time as a spy, but that particular memory was one of the worst. "The Dark Lord . . . he wanted to make an example to everyone of his ruthlessness. So he . . . found a wizarding preschool that contained mostly half-bloods and he slaughtered the teachers and then he . . . lined up all the children . . . and he killed them . . .all of them . . . with lightning, fire, and the Torture Curse. And all I could do . . . was bear witness . . . I couldn't save them . . .and now I hear them screaming in my sleep."
Fresh tears rolled down his cheeks.
"God! Oh God!" Harry cried, his eyes wide, and also filled with tears.
"I need a Pensieve, Harry. I want to get rid of these horrible memories. I don't need them anymore. Please get me one."
Harry had never heard Severus Snape plead for anything, or seen him so depressed and fearful. "I will. I'll firecall Minerva in a few minutes, and ask to borrow the one in her office." He wandlessly Summoned the potions he wished Severus to take, as well as a glass of juice. "Right now, I want you to take these, Severus. You're on the verge of an anxiety attack."
Severus obediently took the potions without whining. Then he held the juice cup with both small hands and quickly gulped it down to wash away the awful taste.
Harry vanished the empty vials and cup and stroked his hand down Severus' hair. "I'm going to put you in my bed for a bit, all right? Try and relax while I talk with Minerva."
Severus just nodded, and blew his nose with the handkerchief Harry gave him. He felt totally worn out from his emotional outburst and also tired, though that could be because of the Dreamless Sleep. Harry set him down in the middle of the bed and tucked a blanket around him.
Then he tossed a handful of Floo powder into his fireplace and firecalled his old teacher. He explained what had happened, and Minerva was very sympathetic and told him he could bring Severus by whenever he wished to rid himself of the terrible memories. Harry thanked her, then turned back to tell Severus the good news.
But Severus was fast asleep on his bed. Harry smiled and went and lay down next to him. Soon he had fallen asleep as well.
In the boys' room, Ginny and Alby had curled up together on Alby's bed and they too slept.
A few hours previous:
Remus had decided to have a little fun with his boys today. He didn't want Sirius to think he was some stodgy old has been that didn't remember how to play with his children. The fact was, he played with Jamie and Teddy all the time, whenever he had free time. Which wasn't much during the school year, but now it was summer.
He had been pondering how to teach Sirius the difference between a practical joke, which was essentially funny and harmless, and the kind of malicious pranks he had played as a Marauder. Finally he decided to play a game with the boys called Prank Wars. It involved using simple friendly jinxes and other joke products, like whoopee cushions, fake flaming dog poo, hand buzzers, sticky slugs, burping powder and so on to prank the other team. The team got points for surprising their opposition or making them laugh. Points were lost if the joke hurt the other team or was in poor was a good way to blow off steam and teach his newest member how to joke around without hurting anyone or seriously humiliating them.
Remus and Sirius were on one team and Jamie and Teddy on the other. They played for two hours, and Sirius had tremendous fun with his brothers and his new "father". He had never realized that Muggle joke products could be so fun. But he also liked the wizarding versions and one of his favorite jinxes was the Tickle Hex.
Sirius was proud when he and Remus were declared the winners, after his Banshee Shriek charm nearly made his brothers wet themselves from shock.
"Did you have fun, scamp?" asked Remus after they headed inside for supper. Tonks was going to be late, she had to stay and write out reports at work.
Sirius nodded. "It was a wicked game, Remus. James would have loved it."
"I did love it," said Jamie, flashing his brother a puzzled look.
"I mean James Potter," Sirius clarified. "He loved to prank people too."
"Is he related to Uncle Harry?" asked Teddy.
"Yeah, he was Harry's dad," Sirius answered.
"Oh, that's cool," Teddy nodded, then asked Remus what they were having for supper.
Remus decided on bacon cheeseburgers and a salad, and ice cream for dessert. None of the boys protested his choice, and even the salad wasn't met with groans, for all of the boys enjoyed eating vegetables, except Sirius hated broccoli.
After supper, Remus told them to play something quiet, as he had to make up a new curriculum for next year's Transfiguration classes. He could have used an old one of Minerva's, but Remus preferred making up his own, as he had a different teaching style than she did.
Teddy suggested they play Gobstones, and they spent the rest of the evening playing a game similar to marbles, except when you lost, the stones would spit a disgusting liquid at you.
When the clock on the mantle struck nine, Remus came into the bedroom and told the boys to get into pajamas and get ready for bed. There were the usual protests at first, but they stopped when he told them if they didn't quit whining, they'd be cleaning the basement tomorrow and not going to Diagon Alley with him.
Jamie and Teddy fell asleep right away and they slept like the dead. But Sirius was too keyed up to sleep and he remained awake, recalling all the outrageous pranks he used to pull with James and Peter and Remus. He tried to figure out if they had been practical jokes or not, but he was starting to get tired. He felt his eyes close.
He dreamed he was running down the hill from the Shrieking Shack, chasing Moony, in his dog form. All of a sudden Moony vanished and he was surrounded by an icy cold familiar chill. Dementors. They were all around him, their black shrouds whipping about in the freezing wind they always conjured, their skeletal hands reaching for him.
He could feel himself freeze, as they drew near, and began sucking out all of his good memories, leaving behind only hopelessness and despair. He struggled to run, but his feet were frozen to the ground and all at once he was back in a cell in Azkaban and a Dementor was slowly sucking his magic away and he screamed and screamed . . .
Remus came racing into the bedroom when he heard Sirius yelling, "No-o-o! Dementors! Get away from me!"
He didn't know how in Merlin's name Teddy or Jamie could sleep through that, but they didn't even stir.
Remus, wearing only his pajama bottoms, came and picked up Sirius and hugged him. "Siri, it's all right. You were having a nightmare. But you're safe now." He Summoned a towel and used it to dry Sirius' hair, it was all sweaty. He patted the frightened boy on the back. "Easy. Easy. You're safe. Nothing can get you here."
Sirius was shaking and he clung to Remus and cried a bit.
"What did you dream about?" Remus asked.
"I . . .first I was chasing you and then the Dementors came and I . . . I was back . . . in Azkaban and one was hovering, read to suck out my soul. They were always there . . . watching, waiting . . .you can't imagine how horrible it was . . .I always felt like a Christmas ham . . . they never slept, they just hovered and waited and they were soulless and hungry . . ." Sirius cried. He had always done his best to never dwell on his time in prison, but sometimes, like tonight, the memories crept out and he had screaming horrific nightmares. He'd had them at Grimmauld Place and sometimes the only way he could fall back to sleep was with a shot of firewhiskey.
Remus continued to hug him and rub his back. "I know. I'm sorry, old friend. You have some awful memories inside of you, don't you?" He felt Sirius nod against his chest. "Maybe you should think about putting some of them into a Pensieve ? Harry suggested it last time he visited. He said Severus was probably going to do it. Why don't you do it too?"
Sirius scowled. He wanted to tell Moony that he didn't want to do anything that Snape did. But then he recalled how hair-raising the nightmare was and he really didn't want to be afraid to go to sleep again. "All right, Moony." He agreed, sniffling. He didn't really like the idea of anyone being able to view his memories. He was as brave or braver than Snape. He wondered what sort of memories Snape wanted to put in there. Some of the drunken depraved orgies he'd participated in as a Death Eater? Meetings where he had tortured people under the bidding of his master? Whatever it was Sirius was sure Snape wanted to get rid of them to hide the truth—that he had liked being a Death Eater. Then once Harry learned the truth, he would get rid of Snape, like Sirius had told him to in the beginning. Snape wasn't part of their family, he never had been, and Harry shouldn't waste his time trying to reform a Death Eater. But he mentioned none of this to Remus. "When can we do it? Tomorrow?"
Remus nodded. "If you like. I'll take you over to Hogwarts after I speak with Minerva." He peered down at his new son and smiled. "Can you fall asleep on your own or do you want some warm milk and honey?" Laced with a Sleeping Draught, he thought. Sirius had always hated taking potions.
"Milk , please."
"Wait here." Remus set Sirius back on the bed and went to make the drink.
Sirius wrapped his arms about his knees and waited, he was wide wake now . He looked at his sleeping brothers and thought they must be deaf or something to sleep through all the fuss he'd made. But in a way he was glad, he didn't want them teasing him over a nightmare.
Remus gave Sirius the warm milk laced with a Sleeping Draught and soon after taking it, Sirius fell asleep again. He carefully tucked the covers up and whispered, "Sleep tight, scamp."
Then he returned to his own bed and Dora, who was sleepily waiting up for him to tell her what had happened. Remus slid into bed and put his arm about her. "Sirius had a nightmare. Well, it was more of a memory about his time in Azkaban."
"The poor kid!" Dora said sympathetically.
"Yeah, I know. I'm going to set up an appointment with Minerva to use her Pensieve tomorrow morning. Then maybe he'll get some peace." Remus said, rolling over and kissing his wife.
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