Fade to Grey
by marianne le fey
A/N - Just a few notes about canon before we begin. This story follows the books up until the epilogue of Deathly Hallows - in fact it could even be read assuming that the epilogue will still take place, but I rather hope not. However, this story should be considered AU after the Half Blood Prince as, for the plot to work, we are following Severus' timeline as it was established in this book, before "The Prince's Tale" in book 7 went and fiddled with it. Basically, the Shrieking Shack/werewolf incident occurs in Severus' sixth year, not his fifth.
There will be other bits that may feel like deviations from canon, but, rest assured, there is an explanation for them!
Huge thanks go to heartmom88 and ofankoma for their help throughout.
It was a rushing, whirling sensation unlike anything she had ever felt before.
Caught in a riptide, she was being dragged inexplicably away, her feet sucked from underneath her, no longer certain which way was up and which way was down.
Her breath burned in her chest, and bright spots exploded in the oppressive darkness. Time had lost meaning. Panic threatened to drown her.
Unable to catch hold of anything in order to save herself, her mind clung to the one fact it knew to be unassailably true: something was terribly, terribly wrong.
Suddenly, she was free.
Released so quickly that she staggered, falling to her knees. A new darkness began to descend, this one shifting and weightless. She collapsed fully, only dimly aware of pain as she grazed her face against the warm tarmac. The smell reminded her of long, hot summers when she used to walk home from school, grass stains on her skirt, and her knees or hands grazed from falls in the playground. She thought she might be smiling.
The world shimmered and began to recede. She struggled to keep her eyes open, struggled to raise herself from the ground, but her body listlessly refused to obey.
She was sinking fast.
Dimly, she became aware of a voice, questions aimed at her. She struggled against the darkness, wanting to respond. She was good at questions, good with answers. She forced herself to focus, to reply.
Her eyes briefly lit upon a familiar face, and she immediately felt her panic recede. He looked stern, but then, he always looked stern. He might be angry with her, but she was safe now. He would look after her.
Somewhere a tiny voice reminded her that he had always looked after her, even against his better judgement.
Finally, her reticent mind supplied a name.
"Snape," she murmured, glad to have solved at least a small part of the puzzle.
The questions suddenly ceased, only to be replaced by harder ones, one she could barely understand. There was a second voice now, one she didn't know.
Realising she had allowed her eyes to drift shut once more, she summoned her dwindling strength to focus on those addressing her.
Instantly, she was aware that something was wrong. The man was tall, but he was also broad. He had a large, hooked nose, but his hair was cut short. His features were too blunt, and, now that she listened carefully, she realised his accent was blunted too, his voice lacking its normal richness.
She recoiled, seemingly into herself.
She sank backwards into darkness, and this time, no voice called her home.