As ever, standard disclaimers apply.
Margaret Sellinger expected to see something identifiable as a manor house. She did not expect to see nothing but countryside. She spun about in place then swore angrily. "What is this? Where is the manor?!"
Her companion silently lifted a hand to point toward a rolling knoll.
"We see nothing there."
"Beyond," the voice rasped weakly.
Margaret almost berated him when she remembered that many (and especially disreputable) wizards warded the areas about their homes to stave off unwanted... guests. "Walk. Lead us there."
Obediently, her wizard weapon strode forward unmindful of the rough ground tearing up the soles of his feet. But the closer to the knoll they got, the more reticent she felt. As if she'd left something undone; something important... But there was nothing more important than destroying the Purebloods! She growled to herself as she fought this feeling.
And then they crested the knoll and the stately manor rose majestically into view. "Halt." She growled. "Recall the wards placed as protections. Lead us through them. Disarm them. Let no signal of our coming reach the residents of this place."
She heard him begin muttering and then he began moving again, not in a straight line, but edging this way and that into a copse of trees, skirting a hedged garden. He constructed a convoluted path through the fine manicured greenery until a towering wall of brambled ivy stood between them and the fortress within. She followed at a distance of about six feet behind him.
"Margaret Alice!" A familiar raspy voice called out from back the way she'd come. "Don't! Not this place! It's all traps, you'll be killed!"
She spun about and saw Alastor and his younger but greying companion coming toward her. "The worst of the Death Eaters lives here!" She growled. She narrowed her eyes and brought out her weapon of last resort; a Muggle pistol. "Stay back. I am an excellent shot." She knew the older wizard would know what kind of weapon she carried, and from the expression on his younger companion he did as well. With half an ear she kept track of Snape doggedly making his way through whatever traps were laid upon the ivy covered wall, his muttering a constant drone now.
"Fine destroy a house. But Malfoy isn't there." Moody insisted.
"What, at work is he? Works for the Ministry for Magic, doesn't he? He'll come as soon as he feels his wards falling and his home under siege. He'll come and he'll die."
"I doubt it. He's with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and they are at Stonehenge."
"Liar! And why should you care?"
"You aren't a murderer yet."
Margaret laughed. She hissed into the mike, "Take down that wall, now!"
This time there was no initial implosion. There was a terrible rumble and then an explosion. Chips of stone and shattered plaster flew everywhere, carrying along in the shock wave bits of torn greenery. She felt the myriad stings as she was bombarded by the flying debris. "Contain it!" she screeched and instinctively spun around to see what Snape was doing. But he was on his knees, barely conscious, a bloodied mess and the wand forgotten on the ground. She raised her gun. "I am Control! You have failed!"
The two wizards had broken into a run as soon as she'd turned away. When she lifted her weapon both men knew there was nothing else they could do but run and acknowledge the futility of it. They were too far away.
He lifted his head toward Her, glazed eyes dark and dead looked at her. Short blonde hair. Recognition bloomed at last. No!
A sudden wash of wild magic erupted from within him and drove itself madly at his tormentor. "No!" It would have been a scream if he'd had the voice for it. The magic exploded in brilliant blue-white intensity.
And faded. Remus heard both his own and Alastor Moody's curses as they each fought to regain their sight. At last, though it was mere moments, the world settled back into what it had been. No roar, no thunder, no flares of light. But Margaret Alice was gone... and Severus Snape had collapsed backwards and now lay supine, vacant eyes staring sightlessly up into the Autumnal sky.
"Severus? Severus, Can you hear me?"
The universe emerged with discomfiting urgency. Sounds pummeled his ears and a cool touch danced across his face. But he could see nothing. He groaned, only in part to find out if he even could.
"Severus, drink." An unfamiliar, gentle, voice urged. Then something touched his lips and instinct took over. His mouth opened so he tried to swallow the cool fluid that flowed in lest he drown first. It hurt, stung his throat and the roof of his mouth and burned in his stomach. He turned his head away from the offensive onslaught. His head was lowered onto soft pillows though until that moment he hadn't realized he was being propped up. He welcomed the relief of enfolding oblivion.
"Severus, dear boy, please try to wake up." Another voice. He almost answered but it was too much and the embrace of nepenthe smothered him once more.
He floated through limbo without destination, without cognizance, without sense. Until he realized he had a self. Then the comfort of nonexistence was shattered and he was lifted to a sharp reality of sense. Mostly pain. He moaned and tried to force his eyes open. He was successful, much to his own dismay as overwhelming brightness thrust a lance through his eyes and into his brain. "He's oversensitive to light," a woman's voice said from nearby.
Someone else spoke a quiet spell and the light was dimmed.
"Severus, dear, can you hear me?"
He carefully blinked a few times before trusting that he would not be blinded again. A face came into view and the blurred features slowly came into focus as he peered intently at it. "Molly," he rasped. "Tea..."
Someone chuckled and he laboriously turned his head in that direction. A youngish wizard looked back at him, a tentative smile on his face.
"Yes. Do you recall your own name?"
He grimaced. It was there somewhere. "Severus." He had to think quite a bit more but the people staring at him were silently patient until he came up with, "Snape."
Several days later, he was sitting up in bed, reading. Not all his memories had returned, but his biting wit and sarcastic manner were beginning to make occasional appearances, especially when his body reminded him that he was still ill. He was clearly frustrated, both with himself and his wretchedly slow recovery. But suddenly all that agony meant nothing as his arm began to burn with a searing pain. The shock of it had him cry out before he realized it and that brought a half dozen people running into his room.
He looked up at them and focused his wide-eyed gaze on the eldest of them. "Albus," he gasped with raw pain and awful horror, "I am your spy and I have a job to do. He is calling for me."
Next: Book II, Dance at the Edge of a Precipice