There was something important about hearing his name, his first name spoken out loud. If only he could remember why.

'Severus.' A voice spoke. A soft voice. In the tone, a warning telling him not to panic. The tone heard but not heeded, he stood up.

'Sit down Severus.' The voice continued. Commanding but gentle it washed feelings of both safety and fear over him. The two conflicting emotions swirled around his mind, dancing around his already muddled thoughts when a third, stronger feeling burst in, causing his chest to tighten and his breath to quicken. The overarching, all consuming feeling of guilt pervaded his mind.

Safety, fear and guilt. All from one soft voice, that spoke his name. Why was it important that his first name was spoken?

'No.' He growled out in response. 'I have to go.' He stumbled backwards away from the table. Refusing to turn and face the voice, his eyes looked downwards, flicking from his black robes, to his hands, to his feet, the chair and then the floor.

The voice spoke again, 'Where do you have to go?' it asked patiently. He would not answer that question. Feeling an answer growing on his lips he clamped them tightly shut. He didn't know the answer, he didn't understand the answer but he knew that there was one and he knew that he feared it and that somehow his traitorous lips would speak it and betray him.

'Where do you have to go?' The voice repeated, nearer this time. The voice of a stranger yet familiar. Simultaneously distant yet near in his thoughts. He could not, he would not put a name to it. If he turned slightly, or swiveled his eyes just a little or pushed his hair back he knew he would see the face and knew he would know the voice. So he squeezed his eyes tightly shut. Drawing shallow shuddering breaths his right hand clutched spasmodically at his left arm, fingers clasping and then releasing over and over, nails scratching and digging. He could not wait, he needed to move. A gasp left his lips as, upon forcing his eyes open his vision swam and the room tilted suddenly. Releasing his arm both hands reached out and grasped the back of the chair he had recently vacated. He tried to focus on his hands, forcing his eyes to look at his knuckles as they turned white against the wood of the chair.

The voice spoke again.

'Severus...Please sit down.' Still calm but now with a slight plaintive, pleading quality to its tone. At this a memory suddenly burst into his mind. A brief, sliver of a memory but bright and garish. The sweet acidic smell of lemons invaded his mind, he felt nauseous and he felt anger, the feeling swelling up in his chest and finally bursting out from between his lips.

'No! Don't patronise me.' He spat. 'I have to go, I always have to go!'

'No Severus. You don't have to go.' It replied, oh so quietly.

'Yes. I need to go. It stops when I go.' He whispered, bent over the chair for a minute, head spinning. Then abruptly he pushed away, staggering back a few paces, clattering into a large object behind him, which wobbled slightly and then steadied, a tinkling of crockery and glass accompanying the movement. His eyes searched the room looking for an exit, but all they found was the gaze of another set of eyes. Pale, watery blue. Eyes that knew him, eyes that he knew.

The world, his world crashed.

And strong arms grabbed him, as he staggered. Guiding him down as he slumped and hit the object behind and slid towards the floor. He squeezed his eyes shut as he felt warm hands tilting his head back telling him to drink up, reassuring him as he shied away that it was safe, just a potion to help him sleep, one from his own storerooms. And he did, trusting the voice whether it was friend or foe to send him into oblivion as the last thing he heard was his name, his first name, spoken aloud, and that was important.


Preview of Chapter 1.

...he heard a creak, ears straining, pulse rate up slightly he listened, it sounded like a door opening, somewhere in the building, it sounded like a floor below (he was on an upper floor, therefore out of this room his first priority was to head for some stairs). Straining his ears and holding his breath he heard a voice, deep, a man's voice say something, and then another voice replying, fainter than the other, higher in pitch but still a man's. A small click, the door shutting again? And then footsteps, footsteps of someone slowly, but steadily climbing stairs. He glanced around the room again and again saw nothing to help him, the hinges for the door hung of the left side meaning the door would open onto the wall, leaving no space even for a spy of Severus' lean figure to hide. He chose instead to press himself up against the wall to the right of the door. He listened as the footsteps finished climbing the stairs and paused, ears still straining he heard nothing, then the footsteps took up again, moving towards him, they paused outside the room, he could hear someone fumbling with cloth, with heavy robes he thought and then the sound of a key being inserted in the lock...