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.

Chapter 1

Waking Up

He woke up on his own, in a dark room under blankets and sheets that were not his own. Running a dry tongue over his teeth he considered his position. He was grateful to notice that he hadn't suffered the indignity of being undressed. He was still in trousers and his shirt and swivelling his head he could see cloak, robes and waistcoat laid neatly over a chair, resting underneath sat his boots.

Severus couldn't count on his hands and feet the number of times he had woken up in a darkened room that was not his own. Life as a spy for dark lord and the leader of the light tended to do that to a person. A quick movement with the fingers of his left arm and he could feel that his wand holster was empty, which could mean one or several things.

He went through his usual series of checks, which began with a game of what hurts when you move it, followed by a round of can I sit up, and finally a quick burst of can I walk unaided. Each interspersed with various challenges of what can I hear, is there anyone near by, what do I last remember and what will I see out the window when I pull back the curtain – not necessarily in that order.

He quickly established that he didn't have any serious hurts, there was a dull but not unfamiliar ache in his left arm which he quickly disregarded he needed more information before he process that, but still the possibilities spun through his mind; he had been summoned at some point in the recent past, he was about to be summoned, he'd had some kind of an episode, he'd been clawing again or possibly he'd actually just hurt his arm in some way, he felt the old familiar bone weary ache in his left leg and knee, he'd learnt over time to catalogue the variety of pains that his leg put in through and this kind of tired, bone weary ache told him that at some point, recently he'd been in severe pain from his injury and this was the aftershock of this pain. There was also the beginnings of a headache lurking behind his eyes but nothing to concern him yet.

'Next round' he whispered to himself.

Gingerly he pushed the blankets back from his body and eased himself upright, swinging his legs, especially the left one, which he knew could start to cramp violently if he exercised the muscles too quickly or too soon. Sitting upright he took the chance to look more carefully around his room.

Small, his bed was in a corner, to the right of bed stood the chair with his remaining clothes and his boots, looking down he stretched and wriggled his toes, presuming his socks would be found tucked into the boots. The chair stood a little away from a small window, light seeped around the piece of cloth which served as a curtain. Nothing else was in the room, the door sat on the opposite wall to the bed, the far corner. He eyed the door suspiciously as he pushed himself gingerly to his feet. He felt fine, remarkably fine and his knee held. He took a few steps towards the window and pressed himself against the wall as he with one finger carefully tugged back a corner of the curtain, just enough to give him an angle out of window. His eyes squinted at the sudden assault of bright light, soon adjusting he saw a dirty white swirling mist, the colour at odds with the clear, morning sunlight that fell into the room. With a curl of the lip he sharply pulled the curtain to one side, allowing the light to fully light the room.

'Sodding enchanted windows.' He muttered.

Feeling he was better dressed than not, he sat and tugged socks on, then slipped his waistcoat on, before leaning forward to lace up his boots. That done he stood up and eased his black robes over his shoulders and felt much more himself. He strode softly to the door, and knelt down so he was eye level with the lock squinted he could see that the door had been locked. Therefore no point in needlessly rattling the door handle and possibly alerting his captors to the fact that he was awake and up.

Just then 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), he strained, holding his breath and heard a voice, deep, a man's voice say something, 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, so he was flush (well not quite flush, he wasn't that slim) with the door. He listened as the footsteps finished climbing the stairs and paused, he strained, 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.


Preview of Chapter 2.

Albus heaved a heavy internal sigh upon hearing the quiet voice, so clearly laced with pain. He never knew what was worse; the snapping sniping foul mouthed shouting or the quiet submissive 'Sorry Headmaster.' It had taken Albus years to stop him calling him 'Sir'. The submissive nature and title of the words always sent a chill down Albus's spine, something in the word spoke of an expectation of punishment or violence, the words a last ditch attempt to ward off some imagined danger. Again he found himself wondering about what Severus didn't tell him about his childhood, about his adolescent about his servitude to Tom.