‘Hello,’ I echo.
‘Can you hear me?’
The decidedly male voice is deep, clear and precise. Yet its beautifully enunciated words are clipped, the epitome of formality.
‘Yes, I can hear you,’ I reply firmly.
‘You know who I am?’
‘Of course!’ I respond immediately, inflicting an element of surprise easily into my unspoken words. There is no mistaking those distinctive vocals of his.
‘I want you to do something important for me,’ the voice inside my head informs me, without ceremony, and typically straight to the point.
I try to suppress a smile on the outside. Inside, I answer sharply, ‘Yes.’
‘Please pass a message to Dumbledore for me. Tell him I’m OK. I’ll need someone to cover my classes for a couple of days, but I’ll be back soon to resume my duties.’
‘OK,’ I answer. ‘But tell me something ...’
‘Are you truly alright? You’re not hurt or in trouble or anything? You’ve been missing for days, and we’ve all been worried about you.’
‘No, I’m not hurt. I’m fine.’
The silent minutes clumsily tick past.
‘But thanks for asking,’ he finally adds.
‘Why have you chosen now, Severus?’ I question. ‘You’ve never communicated with me before, yet you must have known that I possessed the gift.’
I can almost see his shrugging shoulders before he answers, ‘I guess I’ve not needed you before. But right now I’m being watched. The Dark Lord is near.’ (He says the last part in a near-whisper, sending gentle shivers around the contours of my heightened body.)
‘Dumbledore needs to know that I’m still alive and well, and I have no other method to tell him that can remain undetected.’
‘I see,’ I say. ‘Consider it done, Severus. And please,’ I ask sincerely, ‘stay in touch. Let me know you’re safe.’
‘I will,’ he replies earnestly.
I start to walk in the direction of the Headmaster’s office, the pile of unmarked essays left on my desk, forgotten for now.
My own thoughts return to my mind again, unheeded now, swirling around like a prevailing mist and settling in a familiar pattern. But, before I can reach the south side of the castle, where Dumbledore resides, they’re interrupted again.
‘By the way, Aurora ...’ It’s the first time he’s used my name.
‘You’re welcome,’ I respond automatically, shocked by the sudden sincerity in his manner – he’s never shown me anything more than polite indifference before, despite our mutual comradeship as colleagues and Order members.
I think he’s truly gone now, but, suddenly:
‘By the way, you’re very beautiful you know. I’ve wanted to talk to you – properly I mean – for ages, years in fact ... I’d really like to get to know you!’
Where did that come from?!
I’m too stunned to respond with anything more than a surprised outer smile. Inside I just mutter, ‘Thank you. I’d like that too ... Take care, Severus,’ I add, before I know for sure that he’s gone.
My smile broadens. Somehow I feel sure that this new and secretive method of communication between us has opened up a whole new world. The prospect seems excitingly enthralling.
Hurry back safely, I say to myself, in a separate undisclosed thought. And I notice that my steps, leading me to Dumbledore, have suddenly become lighter, with a definite happy spring in them.
It’s as if some unheard voice is silently guiding me.
(A/N: I wrote this the other day as a means of trying to counteract the severe on-going tinnitus I have inside my head 24/7, and which, after nearly 30 years, I am well and truly sick of. After having just recently seen Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, in which Alan Rickman voices the caterpillar, I remembered why I love his voice so much! I therefore tried to picture a telepathic communication, with Severus Snape/Alan Rickman’s silky tones to the fore – I can envisage that as being a much more pleasurable experience to be forced to constantly listen to!)