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Chapter Twenty-One: Nightmares

Kibbles was becoming quite a handful. He had grown to the size of a large Irish Wolfhound by now, far higher than Harry's waist, and only Hagrid could control him completely. The dragon seemed perfectly happy to trot around after Hagrid as though he was a puppy, and every night, Hagrid lead him happily into the old greenhouse they'd turned into his kennel. During DA Club, Harry had to teach everybody about dragons and other dark creatures and practices, and so for two or more hours every Friday, he was thoroughly aware of why people said 'never work with animals'.

After one particularly exhausting lesson, he dragged himself back up to Gryffindor Tower, tired, burnt, and very glad it was the weekend. Cupid was sitting daintily on his perch when he got into the dormitory.


"Hiya, Cupid..." He pulled off his robes, hanging them over the end of his bed, tickling the hawk gently under the chin. Cupid cooed and wriggled around like a cat with tuna. Harry couldn't help but smile. Cupid always made him feel better after his exhausting lessons, or chasing a Common Welsh Green around a hall for two hours trying to stop it eating the first years.

"Fwee..." Cupid fluffed up his feathers, tucking his head back under his wing.

"I don't blame you," said Harry, quietly. "I could do with some rest as well."

Cupid made an impatient, irritated little noise from under the mass of feathers. Harry smiled, got changed without annoying the hawk anymore, then pulled back the hangings of his four-poster and got into bed. He was asleep before Ron, Neville, Dean or Seamus came up, lost deep within his dreams. Or rather, his nightmares.

Everything was spinning so fast. Round and round and round, so fast that Harry felt he was going to throw up, but then, quite suddenly, his feet hit solid ground again. He looked around, and saw a cottage in front of him, with a thatched roof, and roses climbing up around the door. It was late evening. And he didn't know how, but somehow, he knew he was home from work after a long day. Sarah would be waiting inside for him with something to eat. As he walked up the path, he wondered how her appointment at St Mungo's had gone, and whether their unborn child was a boy or a girl. He hoped a boy. He'd always wanted a son.

Idly, whistling a song he'd never learnt, he put the key in the door and stepped into his house. "Sarah! Sarah, sweetie, how are you?"

He smiled, taking off his hat and walking down the hall, removing his coat. She didn't answer. Probably having a bath or asleep, he thought, as he opened the door of the lounge and stepped through.

She was there, lying on the carpet, quite still. He frowned. "Sarah? What's wrong?" He threw his briefcase aside and hurried to her side, feeling his hands starting to shake. She wasn't moving. "Sarah... Sarah, talk to me... Sarah! Sarah!" He reached down to touch her shoulder, try to wake her up - and when he did, he felt something warm and wet. He lifted his fingers. Blood ran down them in crimson streaks. "SARAH!!" He pulled her beautiful blonde hair aside, that hair he loved so much. There was a knife in the back of her neck. She was dead.

Tears were starting to roll down his face. "Sarah!! Sarah, wake up... please don't be dead, Sarah... Sarah..." He gathered her into his arms, sobbing and shaking, clinging to her, feeling blood run in gory streams down over his hands. He knew it was too late. She was dead. More and more tears fell down his face, he was screaming, shaking, crying so hard he couldn't think or breathe anymore. He put one hand on her stomach, over their unborn child, still holding onto her as though if he let go it would all be real. But it was real. She was dead.

And then everything started to spin again, faster and faster, she was melting away in his arms and the room around him disappeared. He was whirling and whirling through blackness, until with another hard thump, his legs hit solid ground again.

Everything was darker now. Quieter. His office, at his desk, and he had his crystal ball in front of him. He knew he shouldn't look... but he had to. He reached out, idly, and said in his cold, silky voice, "Aralris." The pearlescent fog within the crystal ball's centre started to swirl, tumbling over and over, and then they parted, as though blown aside by a great storm. He leant closer to gaze deep within the crystal's heart.

There she was... and with him... the church. He had been invited along to witness it all in person, but he hadn't accepted. He knew it would have killed him to see it before his very eyes. But there they were. Oh, she was so beautiful, in a gown of the sleekest silver, with tiny butterflies fluttering around her waist. Her skin was flawless, her raven black hair was so beautifully styled, up in an elegant twist. She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. And to know that the man she stood opposite was the one she had chosen to spend the rest of her life with...

Anger, hatred, betrayal, all of it started to bubble up inside him. He'd loved her first. Ever since he first saw her at that cafe when he was just sixteen, he'd known he'd spend the rest of his life loving her and only her. And then... she was stolen from his embrace. Torn away from his arms, and then lied to, over and over. Her new husband would never, ever love her like he had done.

He watched, with furious tears forming in his eyes, as she took the hand of the man before her and said, in that soft voice that always reduced him to nothing but her slave, "I do..."

"No..." he whispered. "No... no, no, NO!! I love you, I always have!! You can't... you can't..." He broke down. This was it. His last chance at the only thing he'd ever wanted, gone. Nobody would ever love him. He'd always thought he was safe with her, but not anymore. Snarling with rage, he lashed out, sending the crystal ball flying across the room. It shattered on the far wall, nothing more than a plume of smoke and shards of glass, and as he slumped to the floor, a broken man, he knew his life had no purpose any longer.

The room started to spin once more, colours and lights and sounds flashing past him in nothing but a blur. He was being lifted again, up, up into the air, and then he fell, twisting through time and space to land once more. He was in a hospital. St Mungo's. He was sitting on one of the horrible, plastic red chairs outside a room he wasn't allowed in, even though inside, she was there. She was dying. He knew nobody could save her, but his child... his last hope. His last chance.

"Mr Alrister?"

He looked up, desperately, seeing a medi-wizard come out of the room. There was blood all down the front of his robes.

"I... I'm sorry..." the wizard said, quietly. "Your wife... there was nothing we could do. The knife curse was too advanced to be reversed."

So she was dead. But... "My baby? What about the baby?" He stood up, going towards the medi-wizard, all his hope and his dreams resting on the man's answer. "Is it... is it still alive?"

The medi-wizard looked at the floor in silence. It was all the answer he needed. His world collapsed around him, right at that point. He'd lost everything. His wife and his unborn child... the only reasons he woke up in the morning. He felt himself break instantly, his heart shatter inside him into too many pieces to ever be counted. This was it. Game over.

Everything was spinning again, round and round, and faster this time. He was flung from St Mungo's, out of his body, across time and space until he landed hard again.

Darkness. It always had to be dark, as dark as possible. They didn't like the light, and if Voldemort's precious pets weren't happy, then somebody was going to end up dead.

He folded his hands neatly behind his back, staying silent. That was the rule. Never speak unless the Dark Lord speaks to you. Voldemort was looking into a room through a window in the wall, his hands resting against the glass, his serpentine face relaxed into fascination and awe at what he was looking at. Harry turned his head to look as well. The room through the window was dimly lit as always, with a red light, so that the keepers could see but their pet was not harmed. A young girl, perhaps not even eight, was crouched on the floor over her latest meal. The man she was feeding on had already been dead when he was flung in there, but freshly killed, so that she could drink his blood and not be ill.

"Isn't she beautiful, Severus?" Voldemort said in a whisper.

He nodded. "Very, my Lord..." he murmured, softly.

Voldemort tilted his head, tracing his fingers across the glass, his eyes full of wonder as the girl's throat worked to drain away the blood from her prey. "So young, so innocent... yet so powerful... so pure... so blood-thirsty. Look at how she holds him, Severus. Not even a live being could escape from such a powerful grip."

"They are fascinating, my Lord," he murmured, as quiet as he could. "A far superior form of life."

"Yes," said Voldemort, softly, a sly smile curling his lips as the girl wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, cleaning her fangs gently. "I knew that you would share my love of such creatures... the power this one girl has could rival ten of the strongest wizards. And she is not even fully-grown yet. Not even old enough to bear children... but when she is..."

Once again, he felt himself being pulled backwards and upwards, lifting straight out of the scene, twisting and turning until with a blaze of harsh, terrifying orange lift, he hit the floor again. He looked upwards, just in time to hear a crack like a gunshot, and the main pole holding up the canvas began to fall. The whole lot was descending, falling, coming closer and closer, flames licking back and forth across the bright colours all turned black from the light of the fire.

He was going to die. But his sisters, his brothers. They could live. There was a chance. The canvas continued to surge down towards them, building speed, the temperature elevating to more than he could stand, but all he knew was that he had to save his family. He leapt sideways, flinging his arms around all of them, shielding them from the flames and screaming at them to run and hide, as the first tongues of flames licked at his back and then the canvas was down, covering him, the burning material tearing into his skin, cooking him alive, his sisters and brothers were screaming, he could feel the heat reaching right inside him.

But then he was being lifted yet again, spinning and spinning, and then his feet hit solid ground. But now he was running. He couldn't stop to look around. All he knew was that it was dark, and cold, and he was being chased. It was going to catch him and kill him.

He screamed, tears pouring down his face, fighting with his legs to run faster, tearing at bushes and trees that got in his way. He was miles from home. He'd never make it. He couldn't run that fast.

"DAD!!! MUM!!! HELP!!!" he screamed, shrieking and crying, hearing it start to run faster and faster behind him, charging through the trees and snarling. "HELP ME!!!!"

He heard it jump, the rush as it soared through the air and then it hit him hard in the back and he fell forward, screaming, knowing he was done for. He was grasped hard by the shoulder, turned over and he shrieked as he looked up into the face of a half-man, half-beast, covered in fur and with rolling, livid red eyes. Claws grabbed his arm, pulled his soft flesh towards its jaw and then those teeth snapped down.

They seemed to melt instantly, and he was pulled up, spun around and then thrown back down to earth once again. He was in the circus tent again. Somebody had dragged him out, but he was burnt too badly to live. His arms and legs didn't feel like arms and legs anymore. They were black cinders, blood on fire. He could hear people screaming, children crying, the horses were screaming too as they were burnt alive, trapped under the big top. A pair of arms flung around his neck and held him tight, sobbing into his ear, and his little sister was shaking. She had been burnt nearly as much as him. She was going to die too. "I love you, Peter, I love you..."

He clung onto her, feeling life slipping from his body. "Don't cry, Jilly... r-remember your promise... I'll see you again..."

She choked, "I promise, Peter...", and then she died in his arms, as life itself was just washed away from her. He closed his eyes, and the last thought he had before he started to spin once more was - "I tried..."

Up, up again, and then being flung back down, faster this time, and he was at home, tucked up in his bed, his teddy clamped in his arms. His mum and dad sat with him. They were crying too.

"It's okay, Remus..." His mother held him tight, enveloping him in her arms. She smelt of freshly baked cakes, as soft as a pile of feathers, gentle and soothing. "It was just a little bite... you'll be okay... I promise..."

He knew she was lying. It was a big bite. The werewolf had nearly torn his arm off. And there was one thing a werewolf bite meant.

The doctor came back into the room, holding a jar full of his own blood that had been tested. The man looked solemnly at Mum and Dad, then said, quietly, "I'm afraid it's bad news..."

"You mean... he's..." his dad said.

The doctor nodded gravely. "He's been infected. He'll be a werewolf for the rest of his life."

As his mother dissolved in tears, and he clung onto her and his teddy, starting to cry, he felt himself being pulled back for the last time. He whirled through blackness, spinning and spinning, faster and faster until -

Harry sat bolt-upright in his bed, shaking from fear. He looked around the darkened Gryffindor boy's dormitory, and let out a sigh of relief, clutching his arms, feeling cold and shivery, as though recovering from a bad illness. It was a nightmare. That's all it was. It's not real. Be calm...

He took a few deep breaths, steadying his nerves, swallowing away the spit that had welled in his mouth. Alrister... and Sarah. Finding her dead. And then Snape, looking down through the crystal ball at the wedding of the one person he'd ever loved. Then Peeves... Peeves dying after trying to save his family. And Lupin, being bitten by the werewolf.

He reached out for his water jug and took a few long gulps. That was probably the worst nightmare he'd ever had. It was horrible, so horrible he couldn't think properly. The darkness just made him remember everything even more, and so he reached across to the lamp, twisting the bottom to turn it on.

He screamed. There was somebody standing at the bottom of his bed, a black figure that rose nearly to the ceiling, with mad, livid red eyes staring at him from underneath that hood. He choked with fear, clawing backwards in bed to get away, looking terrified around at the other boys - they were all dead. He could see the knife protruding from the back of Ron's neck. He screamed, "RON!!!! RON!!!!", but it was too late. Voldemort raised his wand again, pointing it at Harry's heart, whispering, "Avada kedavra..."

There was a flash of green light, Harry screamed again and -

His scream continued as he woke up properly, so scared he couldn't think properly. He was shaking, tears rolling down his face, screaming and screaming. There was a flurry of movement around him and Ron tore back the hangings of his bed, staring at him in horror. "WHAT?! WHAT IS IT?!"

Harry couldn't get rid of the image of Ron lying in bed, his eyes open, his mouth wide, the knife digging into his neck. He couldn't stop screaming. He just curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth, tears pouring down his face, shaking so violently that he couldn't feel his legs or arms anymore. He imagined them burnt, blackened and dying and screamed even more.

Seamus, Dean and Neville were awake by now, staring out from their beds. "What's wrong?" said Neville, going pale.

"We need a teacher," said Ron, his voice shaking, "you three stay with him, keep him talking, put some water on his forehead, I'm going to get McGonagall!" He rushed across the room, flung the door open and hurried down the stairs. There was people in the common room below.

"What's going on?" said one of the third years with wide eyes. "What's happened? Who's screaming?"

Ron pushed them roughly aside, heading for the door. "We need a teacher, there's something - " He yanked open the portrait hole, and was about to step out when he noticed the scene outside in the half-darkness. The light of Gryffindor common room crept slowly across the floor, revealing a figure lying on the floor in front of the portrait hole, a huge tapestry lying on top of them. Ron choked.

It was Professor Snape.

"What's going on here?" said a voice from outside, as footsteps approached. Professor McGonagall appeared at the end of the corridor, her hair in a bun, wrapped in a tartan dressing gown. "What's all the commotion about? I don't see why - "

Her eyes fell upon Snape, lying curled under the tapestry, his eyes closed, his hand laying limp across the floor. She put a hand to her mouth.

"Oh my goodness... Mr Weasley, hurry, get to the headmaster's office! The passwood is 'cookie dough' bring him here immediately!" She hurried down the corridor, kneeling down by Snape, clasping her fingers to his neck. "Oh, thank goodness... there's still a pulse..." She looked up. Hermione was hanging out of the portrait hole, her eyes wide with terror. "Miss Granger! Who's screaming?"

"It's Harry, Professor," she said, shaking. "He's just screaming, he won't stop, he won't tell us what's wrong... what happened to - "

McGonagall shook her head, looking down upon Snape's unconscious face. "I don't know, Miss Granger. I don't know."

All of Gryffindor house was awake by now, trying to see what was going on. All of them were pale and frightened. Professor McGonagall got Hermione and the other prefects out to stay with Professor Snape, whilst she hurried inside, rushing up the staircase.

Harry was still sobbing, breathing in only gulps of air, shaking violently. Seamus and Dean were trying to calm him down, while Neville was pinned against the far wall in fear, too scared to do anything.

"Finnigan, Thomas, what's wrong with him?" said McGonagall, crisply, coming over.

"Voldemort," Harry gasped. "Voldemort, he was h-here..."

"It was a nightmare, Potter," said McGonagall, soothingly. "That's all it was. Voldemort is most certainly not here."

Harry shook his head, still rocking back and forth. "Get Sn-snape, and Lupin, and P-Peeves, and I'll p-prove it wasn't just a n-n-nightmare..."

Professor McGonagall glanced at Dean. "Thomas, go to Professor Lupin's office and bring him here. Peeves, we cannot just bring, Potter, he - "

A sudden white mass glided through the far wall, and Peeves the poltergeist appeared, grinning from ear to ear at all the mayhem. "You rang, Madam?" he said, in an oily cackle.

"We will require you for... something, Peeves," she said. "Potter, calm down. It was a nightmare."

Harry opened his eyes, looking out at Peeves, and in a voice racked with tears, he sobbed, "She was c-called Jilly... she was the only one that g-got out alive apart f-from you, the other's all d-died when the c-canvas fell... and you t-told her to r-r-remember the promise..."

Peeves's face fell instantly. He had never looked so shocked in his life as he stared in absolutely and utter abject horror at Harry. "How - how do you know - "

"I was there," Harry sobbed, rocking back and forth, still holding his shoulders as though to keep himself alive. "I s-saw it all... and Lupin, and Snape, and A-Alrister... I saw it... I n-need to t-talk to Professor Sn-snape..."

McGonagall shook her head. "Not now, Potter... come on, let's get you out of here. That's it, careful, we're going to see the headmaster and get you sorted out." She eased him off the bed, though he could hardly walk because of the shaking in his legs. Everytime he glanced at the end of his bed, for a moment, he could almost see that black figure towering to the ceiling, and then Ron lying in bed, with the knife digging into the back of his neck. He shuddered, feeling as though he was about to be sick, as McGonagall, Seamus and Neville brought him down the stairs.

Everybody in the common room surged forward, asking questions. McGonagall waved them away, moved Harry over to an armchair by the fire and sat him down. "Just breathe, Potter. Relax."

Peeves swooped down after them, and several people screamed, moving away from him, but for once, he didn't seem interested in scaring them. He glided over, hovering behind McGonagall, still staring suspiciously at Harry with narrowed eyes. "What does he mean, he saw it?" he said to McGonagall.

"He had a nightmare, Peeves," she said briskly.

"It wasn't a nightmare!!" Harry shouted. "It was real, it all happened!! I need Professor Snape!!"

Ron clambered through the portrait hole, followed by Seamus, Professor Dumbledore and Lupin. The headmaster looked very serious, but Lupin just appeared confused.

"What's happened, Minerva?" he said.

Ron rushed over to his cousin, grabbing his wrists, "Harry? Mate? You okay? What happened, what was it?" The rest of the house all moved forward, wanting to know, but Peeves lashed at them and they all shrunk back to let Dumbledore and Lupin through.

Harry was about to start telling them what happened, when he saw out of the corner of his eye, Hermione and the other prefects levitating an unconscious Snape into the common room. Harry's eyes widened in terror. "What happened?"

"He is alive, Harry," said Dumbledore. "A tapestry seems to have fallen on him at the most inopportune moment. He shall be fine within a few hours." He crouched down, staring seriously into Harry's eyes. "I need you to tell me what happened, Harry, and no detail is insignificant."

Harry heard his lips starting to talk as McGonagall shooed the curious Gryffindors away, though he didn't remember wanting to say the words. He told Dumbledore about falling asleep, being Alrister coming home from work and finding his pregnant wife dead on the floor, then Snape looking down at a woman getting married and knowing his life had no purpose, then Alrister being told his child was dead and Voldemort with the little vampire girl. He looked up at Peeves, and the story of the poltergeist's death came bubbling past his lips, and then to Lupin, and how he was bitten and told he would always be a werewolf. Then the worst part came. He told Dumbledore about thinking he'd woken up, and seeing Voldemort at the foot of his bed when he turned the light on, and Ron dead with the knife blade sunk into his neck. When he was finished, they all looked as scared as him. Lupin moved forward, and put his arms around Harry. Harry just wept into his shoulder.

"Lord Voldemort appears to have given you this nightmare, Harry," said Dumbledore, quietly. "A collection of the worst memories of people around you. I presume Harry's details were correct?" he added, looking around at Peeves and Lupin. They both nodded. "Though do not worry, Harry. It was all a nightmare. All in the past."

"What about the end part?" said Harry, shaking, still clinging onto Lupin.

"It was a nightmare," said Dumbledore again.

Hermione and Ron both moved forward and hugged Harry as well. He just sat still, weeping, as all three of the people embracing him tried to calm his nerves. But everytime he was calm, that image of Voldemort standing at the foot of his bed came back into his head, and he shivered again.

Dumbledore stood back silently and watched for a few moments, before he said, "I will kindly ask everybody except Harry to leave the room. I must talk with him in private." McGonagall nodded, and went to levitate Snape out, but Dumbledore added, "I'm sure that Severus is not in a state to eavesdrop, Minerva. Leave him, if you would."

Hermione kissed Harry on the cheek, and Ron gave him a last supportive hug before they left after McGonagall. Lupin murmured, "You'll be alright", then left too. Peeves was already gone. Dumbledore shut the portrait hole and the doors to the dormitories, then stood by Snape on the floor and raised his wand. After a few precise words, Harry saw Snape's eyes flutter, he groaned softly and then woke up with a shiver. "Potter!"

"Calm down, Severus. Harry is here." Dumbledore beckoned to Harry, and he got up shakily, crossing the room to Snape's side. Dumbledore looked down on his Potions master. "What happened?"

"I..." Snape looked around vaguely at the Gryffindor common room, frowning, trying to remember. "A cold flush woke me up from my sleep. I thought nothing of it - they're not unusual. Potter has a lot of nightmares." He furrowed his brow thoughtfully, frowning at the ceiling. "But it continued, repeatedly. I decided that I might as well check on him just to make sure he wasn't being murdered in his sleep. I found the portrait to Gryffindor Tower, and was just arguing with the painting to give me entrance when..." He shook his head.

"A tapestry fell on you," said Dumbledore, quietly. "I believe Mr Ronald Weasley found you lying underneath it outside the portrait hole."

Snape turned his eyes to Harry. "What was the cause for alarm, Potter?"

"I... it was..." said Harry. It was hard to explain. "I fell asleep and Voldemort got into my mind... he... he made me relive the worst memories of the people around me... I... I saw you. And the little vampire girl. And that woman getting married."

Snape's eyes flashed softly. He turned his head away for a moment, and moved to sit up, but then gave a cry of pain. Seething, he gripped his right arm, face tight with agony. "My arm..."

"Broken?" said Dumbledore.

Snape nodded vaguely. "Most likely."

"Harry, I would like you and Professor Snape to both go to the hospital wing," said Dumbledore. "Madam Pomfrey will be able to fix you both up."

Harry got up, and helped Snape to his feet. He reached out to take Snape's uninjured arm and steady him, but Snape said vaguely, "Get off, Potter,", and Harry let it drop. They left Gryffindor Tower, and Ron looked as though he wanted to stay with Harry, but Dumbledore called them all in and sent them to bed. Harry murmured, "Night," to Ron and Hermione as they passed, but that was about it.

Snape and Harry proceeded to the hospital wing. Harry was numb with shock and emotional exhaustion from everything he'd seen, and so Snape had to explain to Madam Pomfrey what had happened. She gave them both beds, sent them to lay down and went to find the equipment needed to repair Snape's broken arm.

Harry didn't know what to say. He just laid in his bed, staring at the ceiling. He quite wished that Ron, Hermione and Professor Lupin were still with him. He needed somebody to talk to, though Snape didn't seem to be in a good mood at all. Harry knew he couldn't fall asleep now. He didn't think he'd ever fall asleep in the dark again. He felt like a child who had had a bad dream, and wanted nothing more than to run to their parents' room and sleep cuddled up to them.

He wrapped his arms around his shoulders, gazing down the ward, at all the empty beds. Maybe Voldemort was sending him nightmares as a sign. A warning that he wouldn't be dormant forever. Even the memories of Quidditch weren't enough to soothe his fright, and all he could do was lay still, watching Madam Pomfrey fixing Snape's arm, telling him to have some rest, then bustling off.

Snape glanced across at him as she disappeared into her office. "Potter."

Harry looked back at him. "What? Sir?"

"You look troubled."

"I am troubled." He sighed softly, pulling the covers up around his neck. "I don't want to go to sleep. It... it was just that..."

Snape nodded. "I... I understand, Potter. Try not to dwell on it."

"That's your answer to everything," said Harry, glumly.

"It's worked for me for thirty-six years," said Snape, vaguely, rolling over in his bed. "Some things are better not thought about."

Harry looked down into the sheets, thinking. "Professor?"

"What, Potter?" Snape yawned.

"How long ago was that memory about the vampire girl?" said Harry.

Snape didn't answer for a moment, then said, "Two years."

"So... she's about ten now."

"Eleven. Why, Potter?"

"I was just... trying to work out how long we've got left," said Harry, quietly.

"As I said, Potter. Try not to dwell on it."

Harry wasn't very comforted by this. He watched Snape for a moment, thinking of something, and then he said, "Why was it those four people? Why you, Lupin, Alrister and Peeves?"

Snape answered, in a calm way, "Those people have a great effect on your life, I expect."

"Peeves?" said Harry, raising his eyebrows.

Snape smirked slightly. "Tell me, Potter, the next time somebody offers you a trip to the circus, what is your initial reaction going to be? Or the next time you see a clown?"

Harry fell silent for a moment, then murmured, "Yeah... but... you can't go back to Voldemort now. He knows you have a great effect on my life. He knows you're loyal to Dumbledore."

Snape shook his head. "No. I know the curse he must have used to send you those nightmares. It's a fairly simple one, but marvellous effective. He won't have seen what you were dreaming about."

"How do you know?" said Harry. "How can you be so sure? What if he can?"

"I just know, Potter," said Snape. "I've seen that curse work so many times. I can recognise it in an instant."

"Where have you seen it at work?" Harry asked, desperate to know how reliable Snape's reassurance was.

Snape looked up at the ceiling, his eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "It works best when performed by a wizard skilled in legilimency. The Dark Lord does not involve himself in such trivial things, and so asks another Death Eater to take the matter into their hands."

"You," said Harry, quietly.

Snape turned away. "Go to sleep, Potter."


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