She was having a nightmare, no question about it. She felt cold, and dizzy, and as though she was being pursued by unnamed shadowy creatures; she tried to scream, although the scream was swallowed by her sleeping self -- and then, abruptly, she woke.
She wasn't in bed. Or rather, she was no longer in her own bed, but instead in a large and unfamiliar canopied bed, with heavy damask hangings in dark greens and blues. "My apologies, Miss," came a silky voice behind her, and at that she did scream. "Shh, easy," and she was gathered up into someone's arms, someone who stroked her hair gently until she stopped fighting and relaxed against her will, exhausted. Into the arms of a stranger, she thought dismally, and twisted her head to see her captor.
Into the arms of Severus Snape, her shocked mind registered. No question as to who it was, he looked almost exactly as she had pictured him: craggy face, straight black hair (that was shiny but not disgustingly greasy, just as she'd secretly believed), noble nose, not exactly handsome but not unattractive, really. And a distinct resemblance to Alan Rickman, of course.
"I'm dreaming," she mumbled. "I'm still dreaming. You're a fictional character."
She frowned. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Do you recall the story of Peter Pan? The fairy, Tinkerbell --" he pronounced the name with a distasteful lip-curl -- "was about to fade away into nonexistence because 'nobody believed in fairies anymore.' What you may not know is that it works the other way round, as well." He sat back against the pillows and smiled. "So-called 'fictional' characters may attain life, if enough people believe in them. Which is why I have worked this spell -- not a simple one, I assure you -- to bring you here. I wanted to thank you in person."
"Thank me?" She was thunderstruck. "But I'm just a fanfiction writer. Shouldn't you be thanking your original author instead?"
His lip curled again. "She," he spat contemptuously, "made me ugly. Nasty. Unattractive. A compelling character, true, and enough to make me live in the hearts of many. But you," he said, and his voice softened just a fraction, "are responsible for making me the man you see before you."
"I know you had no idea," Snape continued, "when you began your -- activities, shall we say -- that you would have such influence on a world beyond your own. But because of you, women around the world have reshaped me in their minds, and thus reshaped my existence." His hands went to her shoulders; she gazed raptly into his dark, dark eyes. "I have become tall. Striking."
"Yes," she agreed.
"Mysterious," he said.
"Elegant," she said. Their faces moved slightly closer.
He nodded. "Intriguing." He was almost close enough to kiss.
"Sexy." She closed her eyes.
She opened them again. Snape had moved away again and was regarding her with an apologetic half-smile. "Your fault, you know."
"Oh." She digested this for a moment. "Does that mean that, er, you're not going to thank me, um -- physically?"
He looked at her as though she were a particularly slow student. "I have no interest in women."
"But -- but what about Hermione? I've written you with Hermione!"
"Barely." He shrugged dismissively. "Besides, the sheer number of women out there who believe that I prefer men, in no small part due to your influence, vastly overnumber those who think I'm heterosexual. No matter what you personally might want at the moment."
"Oh," she said again, slumping back into the pillows.
"On the other hand," Snape continued, "you seem to be forgetting that you are dreaming, and in a magical realm besides. Can't you imagine another possibility?" She looked at him uncomprehendingly, and he rolled his eyes. "You and your ilk have written such fanciful things. The dead returning to life. Men getting pregnant."
She shook her head.
He sighed in exasperation. "Men turning into women."
Slowly, it dawned on her. "Women -- turning into men?"
"Full marks," he said, and turned to the bedside table. When he turned back to her, he had a steaming goblet of -- something -- in his hand.
"Drink it all," he said. Her eyes grew larger, but she did as he bade her. It tasted rather unpleasant, which she supposed was because she assumed that all potions tasted rather unpleasant.
Snape regarded her with satisfaction as she changed, her features coarsening slightly, her breasts diminishing, her -- other parts -- oh, this was *weird*, she thought.
"You don't make a half-bad boy," he said, a slight smile on his lips. "Now, then. Top or bottom?"
And as she -- he -- slid into his embrace, she could only think what a wonderful opportunity this was for researching her next story.