Severus Snape had lost the trail. It was another day in these accursed woods, and they hadn't actually gone towards Hogsmeade. Worse, he'd found canid tracks covering theirs. There were many magical creatures that were canid in descent, and nearly none of them were harmless.

With neither of the boys having wands, this wasn't merely dangerous, it was deadly.

Severus Snape, as he sat down to sleep, knew that there were towns about, that weren't Hogsmeade. And he'd have to check each and every one before he could ... give up.

No, giving up was unthinkable, for quite a number of brutal reasons. No, were he to give up, Severus Snape would have to fade away, weaving himself back into Muggle society as unobtrusively as he'd left. It would be child's play.

It would also not be enough, not when the Dark Lord emerged from wherever he was hiding.

Severus Snape had vowed to be ready, though...

And if that vow made him into a Muggle, well, so be it. There were traps aplenty that didn't require an iota of magic. He'd already devised plenty, and just lying here, he thought again of a few more, wishing idly for parchment to take notes.

He lay out the map, again, with a muttered curse, using the scrying stone, spun around the map in a circle under his palm. As always, it pointed in a direction vaguely like Hogwarts, before falling back to vaguely under his hand, the magical signatures disappearing again.

Unlike the last few times, Severus Snape fell back on his haunches in thought. He'd taken it as a sign that their lives were in mortal danger... and yet, improbably, they were still alive. He hoped, at least, that they weren't ghosts, tied to the land.

... both of them?

Very, very cautiously, Snape began to hope that his search wouldn't be in vain.

[a/n: Snape is not having a good time of things, no. Leave a review?]