Severus Snape woke up to a world of pain, bright lights, disgusting scents, and sounds louder than the roar of a dragon right in his ears. It was too much to deal with all at once. All he could do was curl up and whimper and hope to Merlin that it ended soon.
He thought he felt a touch to his shoulder, but everything was so painful that he could only shy from it. There were voices and they sounded so very loud. He covered his ears but it didn't help at all. His head pounded.
There were hands upon him, pulling his hands from his face. He fought but then they pried his mouth open and he nearly choked on a mint flavored liquid poured down his throat. The taste! It was just as overwhelming as the rest of it. He cried and struggled as another potion went down, then another. He lost count but it didn't matter. Soon enough, he fell into oblivion.
Severus didn't know how much time passed. He wavered in and out of consciousness. Each time, his senses screamed at him, but they dulled slowly off. It seemed like years had passed before he opened his eyes and managed to keep them that way.
The hospital wing was familiar, of course. One didn't have enemies like James Potter and Sirius Black without ending up there often, especially when most of the Quidditch team took their sides. Severus slowly sat up and held his head as it began to ache again. The pain didn't burn like fire, but it was still annoying.
He was the only one there, thankfully. Severus wouldn't have been able to bear letting someone see him so weak, and it was weakness he felt permeating his entire body. His limbs felt heavy, leaden, and his head felt full of cotton, as did his mouth. He found a glass of water sitting at his side table and quickly grabbed it, only to have it drop from his weakened fingers. The glass clattered against the floor and Severus winced as the sound bothered his tender ears.
He shifted, shoving his weak legs over the side of the bed and moving to bend and grab the sodding glass, when another sound caught his attention. He tilted his head, frowning a bit. Footsteps, the shift of clothing, as if right next to him. He jerked straight and ignored the way his head swam with the movement. The door to the infirmary opened and Madam Pomfrey entered, but there was no one else. Had he really heard her...?
“Mister Snape!” she called and he flinched, hands going reflexively to his ears. Damn it, why was she so loud? Madam Pomfrey rushed immediately to his side with a sympathetic look on her face. “Oh, you poor dear. Just a moment.”
She hurriedly fetched a potion and he took it without even thinking. Within a few moments, his senses began to dampen. Light and color didn't seem quite so bright, sounds so loud, smells so strong... He could still smell the light touch of lilacs in her perfume, along with sugar and bread from her last meal, still hear her heartbeat slow and steady in her chest.
“What...what happened?” His voice sounded hoarse and used and he touched his throat with a grown.
“Oh, child,” Pomfrey murmured, brows drawing upward with utmost sympathy. Severus frowned at that expression and a slow panic began in his chest.
She bit her lip, worrying her hands. “We'd better wait for the Headmaster. I've already sent for him.”
Dumbledore? What would they need him for? The panic went up a notch as he broke into a cold sweat. What could possibly be wrong with him that would require Dumbledore...? Severus swallowed quickly. Oh Merlin. He was going to die. That had to be it. He was going to die.
He didn't want to die.
Pomfrey fussed over him a bit, then went off to do something. Severus hadn't been listening to her. He didn't care. As soon as she was gone, Severus struggled to his feet and pulled the sheet over his shoulders. He stumbled for the door on weak, clumsy feet, barely managing to bully his worn out body into motion. The door closed quietly behind him and he fled into the halls.
If he didn't hear it, it wasn't real. He didn't want to die.
Hand on the stone walls to keep him steady, Severus held the sheet tightly in his other and just walked. He had to get far enough that he wouldn't hear it. If he didn't hear it, it wasn't real. Barely one corridor later, he was shaking so hard that walking straight became a herculean task. Thank Merlin everyone was in class. If they saw him like this...
Somehow, Severus managed to get outside. He wasn't even sure why he wanted to be there, but the sun shown down and warmed his skin, bright as it was. Dropping down on the last step, Severus leaned against the stone railing and closed his eyes. The warmth helped his speeding heart and shaking body. Somehow. He didn't feel better, but at least he wasn't shivering.
What had happened to him...? He couldn't remember getting hurt. The last thing that was clear in his thoughts was Sirius Black's gloating face. Severus felt his chest clench at that image. Sirius Black. He hated him. He hated him so very much... Black had to be involved in this, in why he was going to die. That stupid git, it had to be his fault!
I don't want to die.
Sirius Black had killed him. Somehow, it was rather ironic and a little sad. He couldn't say he was surprised. Some of the pranks they'd pulled on him through the years, one's he'd pulled... The real wonder was that none of them had died before this.
It still made him angry. There was so much he had to still do. Become a potions master, maybe an Auror, find something that his father could be proud of him for doing, something that his mother would acknowledge.... Get the girl.
Severus swallowed thickly. The girl. If he died, what would happen to Lily? She hadn't spoken a civil word to him in nearly a year, but he still watched her. He still loved her. He would protect her to the end of his days (especially from that sodding James Potter) but was the end of his days so close...? He couldn't die until he'd reconciled with her! Even if Lily never loved him back, if she would just look at him again! Talk to him again.
Chest clenching, Severus dropped his head against it and closed his eyes tightly. He felt weak, so very weak, like at home when he wasn't able to filch enough food from the cupboards and his mother had forgotten him again. But it wasn't just hunger. It felt as if his body was trying to shut down around him.
He didn't want to die but it didn't seem to be his choice.
Severus blacked out and when he came to, he was in the hospital wing again and Albus Dumbledore looked down at him sorrowfully.
“Language, Mr. Snape,” Dumbledore replied quietly. His face lacked the usual soft look and twinkling eyes. He knew it. He was going to die.
“How long do I have?” Severus asked. His throat still hurt and his voice sounded so meager. As weak as the rest of him.
“Nothing. What happened?” What did Black do to me?
Dumbledore sighed and seemed to shrink and age in seconds. Severus almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
“I'm afraid it's a little complicated,” the headmaster began.
Dumbledore actually hesitated. He looked at Severus over the rims of his half moon glasses for a long for moments. “You were attacked by a werewolf.”
Well. That hadn't been what he was expecting. Severus rested back more firmly against the pillow, staring up at the ceiling. A werewolf..?
“It's understandable that you don't remember much about it. Most don't. And most don't survive after the..” The Headmaster trailed off, but Severus wasn't really listening anyway. So, Black had managed to sic a werewolf on him? Imaginative. More innovated than he thought Black was capable of. But how had he managed to lure a werewolf close enough to him? Or maybe it had turned on him too. Ha, wouldn't that be great?
“Is Black dead?”
“Pardon?” Dumbledore looked startled.
“He lured the werewolf, right?” Severus looked at him again, oddly calm for one who was about to die. “He's too stupid to have made sure it couldn't turn on him.”
“No, Mr. Black is fine.” Dumbledore sighed. “He didn't lure the werewolf to you, my boy. He lured you to it.”
Oh. That made sense. He felt rather stupid for falling into Black's trap, but it still made sense. Now Black must be crowing for having tricked him so well. Stupid Gryffindor bastard.
“I don't understand, Mr. Snape.”
Severus just frowned at him, rather annoyed. “How long until I die? I want to know if I have time to finish my homework.”
Dumbledore said nothing at first. He stared at Severus and it seemed something should have been hilariously funny, but neither of them laughed. Neither of them moved. Not even the warm sunshine streaming in through the windows could comfort them.
“You aren't going to die, Severus,” the Headmaster said very, very softly. Severus knew that tone. He knew it meant something utterly horrible, worse than death. And the fact that Dumbledore had used his first name... “You received a wound from the werewolf. A bite.”
He wanted to die.