The dementors were coming on fast, seething malice and cold, frigid hostility. Why the Ministry ever had the idea of using them as guards for Azkaban he could appreciate, but not tolerate. Did they really think they would be able to control them? Not even the Dark Lord had fully succeeded at that.
Five. There were five of them, sucking the life out of everything in their path, feeding on the anger, the fear, drawn to him with ravenous hunger. Five, and he, Snape, was charged with rounding them up and ensuring they returned to Azkaban. Five of them, and they were now surrounding him, drawing on his rage and apprehension, waiting greedily for his weakness, his final moments to come before they could fully feast.
And still, he waited.
He hadn't cast a Patronus since…well, since she had died. He hadn't been able to bring himself to do it, knowing the pain it would cause him, the pain he'd been living with since he could not remember when.
The dementors were closing in, extending grey, scabbed hands in his direction, their rattling breath growing loud and excited in his ears…
Closing his eyes, he thought fiercely of her, her face filling up every corner of his mind, her eyes shining bright green back at him—
The silver shape erupted from the tip of his wand, bounding after the dementors, chasing them away before cantering easily, gracefully back to him.
She was still the same, same as always, her form perfect, every move the pure embodiment of elegance, of beauty. The silver doe now stood directly in front of him, regarding him evenly with her large eyes like liquid moonshine, a rare peace stealing through him.
He reached out to touch his hand to her velvet muzzle, and she disappeared.
But not before he could imagine seeing eyes of green smiling at him like so many years before.