6. Venice: Murano & Burano

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The dream, in the beginning, was benign, even pleasant.

She and Albus were at her cottage playing chess. At some point the scene had melted seamlessly into one of her old dormitory in Gryffindor Tower, although she sensed that she remained her current age. The chessboard had gone, somehow, and he was touching her the way he often did, his fingers dancing teasingly over her breasts, her arms, her neck, then sliding down and under her knickers.

Her climax was near when she felt through the hazy pleasure that his fingers had turned cold, almost painful. She tried to move and found she couldn't.

Albus was holding her down with one arm across her chest and the other hand stroking her cheek, and as she struggled to tell him to stop, she realised that the fingers that touched her below were someone else's. She looked down to see the unnaturally smooth face of Tom Riddle, his dark eyes peering into hers. He leant in to kiss her.

She wanted to scream, to push him away, but she couldn't move, couldn't speak as he pressed his lips to hers. Albus held her, seemingly gently, but it was as if she were wrapped in Devil's Snare, or perhaps Petrified.

The horror of Riddle's mouth on her, his fingers in her, as Albus held and caressed her, engulfed Minerva in panic, making her temples throb and her throat ache with cries that wouldn't come out.

Albus released her, though she still couldn't move. He went to the ledge of what she recognised now as the Astronomy Tower. As she watched, voiceless with dread, he kissed his fingers and held them out to her, as if in benediction, then let himself drop backwards into the sky.

Minerva woke with a gasp, fingers curling out into emptiness, her strangled scream making a hard lump in her throat.

Something stirred next to her, then there was the gentle press of a hand on her hip.

She made a mewling sound, unable to speak, unable even to breathe.


Albus's sleepy voice.

Her chest hitched, and sweet air filled her lungs.

Through the desert in her mouth, she managed to croak out, "A nightmare."

The bed creaked and his arm came around her waist.

He held her as her heart stopped trying to beat its way out of her ribcage and her breathing became steadier.

"Better?" he asked.

"Much. Sorry I woke you."

"It's fine. Do you need anything?"

"No. Go back to sleep."

He tugged her closer, and his warm breath caressed her cheek.

Within minutes, he was snoring softly, and she lay there, keeping as quiet as possible, still on the knife's edge, unable to fall back to sleep.

Even her worst dreams were usually anodyne—quotidian worries amplified to ridiculousness by her subconscious—but this one had been terrifying and so very real.

What had brought it on?

It had been a lovely day. Several lovely days, in fact. And besides, Tom Riddle was gone. Buggered off, Merlin knew where. She suspected that Albus had done something to him to make him retreat, tail between his legs, but she hadn't pressed Albus on the subject, not wanting to give up a moment's more thought to her erstwhile tormentor other than to hope he had gone for good.

Yet here Tom was, haunting her dreams.

She sighed, now more annoyed than frightened, and rolled over. It was some time before she was able to sleep.

Till A' the Seas Gang Dry | Epithalamium #2 | Minerva McGonagallWhere stories live. Discover now