Abomination- complete, just need to edit before I post
Thank you so much for the reviews! Another late chapter, but like I told a reviewer, I would rather be late posting a chapter I'm satisfied with than a rushed one. In the future, I'll try to be more realistic with the dates, but my schedule is somewhat unpredictable. I'm currently editing Abomination, and that will be posted as soon as I finish. I know I promised that a ridiculous amount of times, but like I said before, Always is my priority.
I was a bit wary about this chapter because even though I planned it a while ago, the main event that takes place in it just seemed too sudden to me. I thought about it for a while and I decided that no matter what, it's going to seem sudden, and there's really no way to prepare for it. I hope I wasn't out of character because that was something I really struggled with when writing this particular chapter.
And yes, a certain scene at the very end was unintentionally inspired by a scene in DH Part 1. When I started writing it, I realized it was sounding very familiar and I think I was subconsciously thinking of DH when I came up with the idea.
Snarky64- Thanks for the review and for letting me know about Remus!
MoonHead- Thanks for the review! I know you're a non-James fan, so I'm glad that you approve of how I'm starting the James/Lily relationship. I know I should most likely include more war news, but this story has a war going on for 7+ years. JKR only really wrote about it for three books. I'm doing my best to stretch it out and keep it vague for now so it doesn't get too...tedious. That way, I can focus on the Sev/Lily relationship because there won't be many Sev/Lily scenes after the Mudblood scene. During the sixth and seventh years, and years after, I'll really go into detail. It's funny that you made the environment suggestion because l've been reading Gone With the Wind, and it really made me realize that I should add more description, so thanks again and I'll try to work on that.
Lilysnape77- Thanks for the review! There will be a Sirius/Regulus confrontation in Abomination.
life1428- Thanks for the reviews! I understand what you mean about reading and relating to the characters because I often find myself relating to them while writing. Don't apologize for the long review, and I hope everything works out with your friend.
sparklyscrunchies- Thanks for the review and for letting me know about the typos! I'll fix those as soon as I upload this chapter. I'm also glad you like Regulus because you'll see a lot more of him, especially in the later years.
Happy Camper- Thanks for the review! It is somewhat difficult to write the James/Lily scenes, just because this is a Severus/Lily story. My main struggle is balancing it out and trying not to scare off my S/L readers. Half of this is Lily's story, and explaining how she fell in love with James is a huge part of that, so the difficulty is really doing that justice, especially without turning this into too much of a James/Lily story. I do have a pretty clear idea of how I want their romance to go, the trouble is just making it understandable, especially for Sev/Lily fans. It is easier to write the Sev/Lily scenes just because I'm more acquainted with writing them, but I do enjoy writing the James/Lily parts, even if they're a bit trickier. I actually prefer Lily and James as endgame, but I prefer Sev/Lily's story, if that makes sense. If Severus and Lily had ended up together, I wouldn't have been fascinated by their story and inspired to write it. James, in his own way, just makes the story better/more tragic, and I think it would have been a lot less interesting without him. So basically, I like Lily and James as endgame, but I love the tragedy of Severus and Lily.
The Phoenix's Keeper- Thanks for the review! People have told me that his birthday is January 9th, and while it sort of bothers me because I want this story to be as plausible as possible, my main goal is to follow what was written in the actual books, not what JKR said a few years later.
Anna- I said before that the updates are when I'll most likely post, but nothing is definite. I rather be satisfied with a late chapter than upload a rushed one.
Chapter Seventy- The Woes of the Half-Blood Prince
There was something terrible about waiting.
It hadn't been long since Regulus's sign, no more than a few days, but it was long enough. The Knights of Walpurgis had remained silent, and that was enough to unnerve Severus. Regulus was eager to believe that he had gotten off scot-free, but Severus had a sinking feeling that told him otherwise. From what he understood, the Knights were, in a way, a practice ground for the higher leagues, a way to ensure that the kin of the pure bloods weren't completely green before being thrust into the real world. He had a disturbing hunch that there was a lesson ahead, and that they would all learn it the moment they let their guard down.
"When is the next- ah, what do you call it?" Mulciber demanded suddenly at the Slytherin table, forcing Severus to push away any thoughts of the Knights to the back of his mind. "When we see the-" Mulciber crumpled his face in confusion and lifted his hands over his head as if he were dramatically lowering a hood.
Fortunately, only their little group seemed to be in earshot, but that made their reaction no less severe. Simultaneously, Wilkes and Rosier dove toward him to clap their hands over his mouth, while Avery looked on rather curiously. Severus became extremely absorbed in his dinner plate.
"What is wrong with you?" Rosier spoke in a deadly hiss. "Are you trying to invite Dumbledore to the next meeting?"
"Meeting!" Mulciber crowed excitedly in his customary booming voice. His eyes had lit up as if he had just made an important discovery, and there even seemed to be color in his cheeks, color that emphasized his rare, if not disturbing, delight. "That's it. When's the next one at?"
"Shut up," Wilkes's eyes were darting all around the Great Hall in a fit of paranoia. "Just stop talking."
"Oh," Mulciber said in a loud whisper. "Is it a secret then? I forgot."
Mulciber was forgetting a lot of things. Severus wouldn't have said that his improved Forgetfulness Potion had backfired. In fact, it was quite the opposite. His concoction was doing so well, that Mulciber had become a downright idiot, giving even Avery a run for his money. It would have been amusing, but Severus didn't have the faintest idea of when it would wear off, and it was beginning to make him edgy. He preferred to have all the information, instead of cluelessly waiting in the dark.
"Does he seem...off to you?" Avery muttered to Severus, his eyes still fixed on Mulciber.
Severus gave Mulciber a courtesy glance, only to find that the Slytherin was currently using the wrong end of his knife in an attempt to slice his mashed potatoes. He shrugged. "Not especially."
"Not...stupider?" Avery pressed as Rosier snapped at Mulciber to put down the knife.
Severus found his words humorously ironic and stifled a laugh. "No. Just more upfront about it."
Avery nodded, looking extremely serious, and returned to shoveling down the roasted chicken on his plate. Severus let out a breath that he hadn't realized he had been holding. He didn't want to know what would happen if they discovered he was behind Mulciber's ailing mind.
But even if they did, it was worth it. Lily may have said that she didn't need his protection, but she didn't know the first thing of what some of the Slytherins were capable of. Perhaps that was partially his fault, but Severus didn't especially care. Lily barely came up to Mulciber's chest. The burly Slytherin could have crushed her with his bare hands, at least if he wasn't so partial to the nasty curses that lined the pages of the Restricted Section of the library. Severus would be damned if he didn't do anything to help Lily, and he knew that she would do the same for him.
He knew it far too well, he reflected bitterly, quickly brushing away memories of the times she had stepped in during a humiliation, whether it was Potter and the Marauders, or the Muggle boys in the town square. It wasn't fair that she insisted that she didn't need his protection, but she would never listen when he said the same. He was a Slytherin. He was a Knight. He was willing to bet that he was better off than her and the rest of the glorious House of Gryffindor put together.
Severus knew the truth. Lily still saw him as the useless little boy who met her on the playground with scrapes and bruises. She saw him as weak. Perhaps he had been once upon a time, but not anymore. She would see the truth someday; he would make sure of it.
Until then, there was nothing else to do. Why Lily wanted to see her Gryffindor friends was beyond Severus's comprehension. They most likely did nothing but pine over Potter and his merry little band of imbeciles, when they weren't giggling as if they had been hit too many times with a Cheering Charm. But if Lily wanted to see them, that was fine with Severus. More than fine. He had his own plans, plenty of his own plans, and even if he didn't, they were just a couple of thickheaded Gryffindors. He was Lily's best friend. He was the one she cared about. He was the one who had a Lily smile that seemed especially reserved for him. Not them.
Why did it matter that things between them still weren't completely normal? That the distance between them seemed to lessen only slightly after Lily's grand outburst? It was Hogwarts, where tensions ran high and wizarding war headlines lined the Daily Prophet. Things could hardly be expected to be completely normal. Once they were back home, away from the wizarding world, away from any interfering Gryffindors, Severus knew that things would return to the way they had been before.
He just had to be patient.
With that thought, Severus stole a glimpse of the Gryffindor table, his eyes instinctively moving toward Lily, not unlike a moth to a flame. She was not giggling with Marlene McKinnon, nor was she gazing after Potter like he half-expected her to be.
She was looking at him.
Their eyes locked, and Lily smiled, his smile.
Unthinkingly, Severus half-smiled back.
A hand on his shoulder brought him back to reality. Severus almost let a nasty retort slip through, but in the nick of time, he saw that it was Professor McGonagall. Somehow, in that moment with Lily, he hadn't noticed the Slytherin table fall silent.
"Professor Dumbledore would like to see you in his office," McGonagall said, her voice clear and crisp. Severus glanced at Mulciber and clamped his mouth shut. If Dumbledore wanted him, then he very well couldn't not go, but it wouldn't do the decrepit fool any good. He couldn't prove that it was him who tampered with Mulciber's pumpkin juice.
As Severus stood up, he could feel almost the entire Great Hall's eyes on him, including Lily's. He acted as if he saw none of it, and without a word, he followed McGonagall, his eyes fixed on severe bun at the back of her head.
"You don't have to take me there," Severus said brusquely once they were out of earshot. "I know the way, Professor."
He bit back the harsher 'remember' that he was so tempted to say. He knew it was foolish, that he shouldn't have expected anymore from a Gryffindor, least of all the Head of House, but the tiniest sting of betrayal remained. If there was any teacher that he thought could withstand the Marauders, it had been McGonagall, and she had failed.
But to his surprise, McGonagall didn't turn around or even reprimand him for his poisonous tone. She merely continued on her way, and only spoke to utter the password, 'licorice wand'. After the gargoyle had sprung to life and the staircase had at last came to a unceremonious halt, she finally acknowledged him.
"I believe you can manage the rest, Mr. Snape."
Her voice was not unkind, and she spoke in a manner that Severus couldn't quite understand. It was only then that he began to consider the idea that he was not there because of Mulciber after all.
He should have been relieved, but instead, blood began to pound in his veins, his heart hammering against his chest in painful repetition. Not knowing, Severus decided, was far worse than knowing.
It only took the sight of Dumbledore at his desk for an unwanted chill to ripple down his spine, followed by the immediate sensation of déjà vu, a sensation that he strongly disliked. Everything seemed to be as it had been the night of the full moon. The delicate silver instruments were arranged on the polished mahogany as they had been before, stacks of parchments lay untouched beside a handsome quill, and the phoenix looked as if it hadn't even twitched a feather in Severus's absence.
"Severus," Dumbledore greeted him, and Severus couldn't help but notice while the ancient wizard's spectacles sparkled, his eyes did not. On the contrary, he looked rather grim, the only stark difference in the room.
"Professor," Severus couldn't quite manage the sarcasm that the word in his mind demanded. He was too busy being consumed by a new fear. What if Dumbledore had proof that he was connected to the Knights? What if it was all over before it had really begun?
"Did you enjoy your supper?"
The question took Severus by such surprise that it took a moment for his annoyance to sink in. After annoyance had struck, the simple pleasantry took on an entire new meaning, and Severus couldn't help but wonder if Dumbledore was making a connection to the Last Supper, implying that it was his last supper at Hogwarts. Did Dumbledore even know who Da Vinci was? Severus didn't care if it was rude and ignored the question altogether. If he was about to be expelled, he saw no point in delaying it. "Why am I here?"
For the second time, Dumbledore did not resemble the great wizard that was on everyone's lips. Instead, he looked like a very tired and very old man. He looked human. He took his time to answer, enough time that Severus was about to repeat the question in fear that the headmaster hadn't heard him.
"You're here, Severus," Dumbledore began finally, his voice heavy. "Because I received news today. Unpleasant news. It pains me to say this, but I've always believed in matters such as this that it's best to be direct."
This was it. He was about to be expelled. Severus braced himself, but his eyes told another story. They were glaring at Dumbledore, daring him to announce the verdict. It wasn't over for him, not by a long shot. He would find another way to be someone.
"Your mother has passed on."
It took a seemingly endless amount of time for the words to sink in, but once they had, a bleak comprehension struck a stillness through Severus's bones. Everything in the office seemed to fade except for Dumbledore's echoing words, and gradually, the glowering black eyes lost their light, dimming into something more vulnerable. He felt a sudden lump lodge in his throat.
Eileen hadn't been the ideal mother. What she had been could hardly be called a mother. Severus had always known that. What he hadn't known was that there would be unfathomable pang in his chest when he found out she was gone, a feeling of inexplicable grief.
But he couldn't crumble now. He refused to. If he fell to pieces now, he was paranoid that he would never be able to pick them up. He struggled to ignore the images that were flooding his mind, images of Eileen handing him the pouch of coins to buy school supplies, of Eileen telling him that he was still a Prince, even with his father's blood, and instead, Severus stared into Dumbledore's pitying blue eyes and focused on the hatred he felt, boiling inside him. He didn't need anyone's pity, least of all Dumbledore's, and for that, he hated the ancient wizard more than he could ever have thought possible.
"It was him, wasn't it?"
He emphasized the word with more loathing than he knew he felt, refusing to even utter the title aloud. He was willing to bet that Dumbledore knew about his family life, and from the way those penetrating blue eyes were absorbing him now, it was undeniable. Of course, Severus didn't know how much Dumbledore knew, but he was certain that he knew enough to know that Tobias Snape was no more a father than Eileen Prince had been a mother. Tobias had killed any chance he would have had of a normal life, of a happy life, and now he had killed Eileen.
"Not directly," Dumbledore said quietly. "She took too much of a Sleeping Draft."
She had finally given up after all. Severus was startled. Not by the news, but by his reaction. Unconsciously, he had been expecting it. He hadn't known he had been expecting it until that very moment. Every year, she had seemed to crack and splinter just a bit more, and with the memory of her dead eyes planted firmly in his memory, he wondered how she had lived as long as she did.
"Even in death, those we love, those who love us, never leave-"
"Don't," Severus cut Dumbledore off abruptly in a voice colder than he had ever heard himself speak. "Don't.
"Don't." Severus said again, and already, the coldness was thawing, giving way to a smoldering anger, its flames swallowing him and threatening to burn and destroy everything in sight. Anger at Tobias for being a monster, anger at Eileen for abandoning him, for never being there in the first place, and most of all anger at Dumbledore.
Severus hadn't chosen his parents. He hadn't asked for a monster for a father. He hadn't asked for a ghost for a mother either. He had never asked for anything. He had never stood a chance; he had never had a choice, just as Dumbledore had claimed Lupin hadn't. Yet Dumbledore had never stepped in for him. No one had stepped in for him.
No one had stepped in for Eileen either.
Severus's voice was rising, and he fought fiercely to keep it steady, but it was futile. No longer did he sit still. He couldn't have been still, even if he wanted to. He was trembling from the swell of emotions he had constantly tried to forget existed, but could never quite manage. "You don't know how it was, what she went through. What we went through. Don't give me rubbish that she loved me. She loved no one, except my dad, and he killed her. He destroyed her."
He was vaguely aware that he was shouting, but Dumbledore made no mention of it, made no attempt to calm him down. He only continued to watch Severus with a silent understanding that infuriated Severus all the more. The professor may have known all the facts, but that didn't mean he understood. He couldn't. He hadn't grown up in Spinner's End. He hadn't seen his mother fade before his very eyes. He most likely had had a blessed childhood, praised from the moment he said his first spell, not unlike a certain Potter. He probably had been a top Quidditch player too.
"I knew Eileen Prince," Dumbledore said in a tired voice causing Severus to jerk his head up. "I knew her for the seven years she was here. She may not have made the best choices, and she suffered for those, immensely, but she was a mother, Severus. Despite her pain, she cared-"
"Cared?" Severus said incredulously. "She could barely even look at me."
"And did you ever wonder why?" Dumbledore asked simply.
"Because she never loved me," Severus meant it as a sarcastic reply, but the truth struck him harder than he had anticipated, and it came out far weaker than he had intended.
"It's because of that that I am quite certain she did," Dumbledore said gently. "She loved your father. You admitted as much yourself. But as much as she loved him, he caused her a great deal of pain. You're a product of that love and that pain. Because of that, I believe that she could not help but care for you."
"You don't know anything," Severus hissed, pouring every ounce of venom he could into his voice, waiting to see the wizard's reaction, wanting to see him fall apart, just as he was about to. "You knew my mother, and you did nothing, but for that werewolf, you risk everything. Everyone talks about how great and powerful you are, but you are nothing but a hypocrite."
But the reaction he received was not the one he had desired.
There was no sharp reply or even a flash of anger. A fleeting shadow had crossed over the old headmaster's worn features, with only a glimmer of sadness remaining in his eyes.
"I never claimed to be great."
Severus could say nothing, but continued to eye him with unspeakable hatred.
"If you ever are in need of my help," Dumbledore said softly. "You only need to ask."
"Your help?" Severus spat out, finding his words again at the outrageous suggestion. "The last time I went to you for help, you ended up blackmailing me to save a werewolf, the very werewolf that nearly killed me. I almost die, and all you care about is that Potter saved the day. You care about no one unless their colors are red and gold. Why would I ever ask you for help?"
Dumbledore only watched him with those sad blue eyes.
"Even if I lost everything," Severus said coldly. "I would never ask you for help. Never."
He didn't wait for Dumbledore to dismiss him. He didn't even wait for his words to register. Everything was a blur, a red angry blur, as Severus leapt to his feet, rage blazing down the back of his neck in a stifling heat. While doing so, his elbow carelessly knocked down one of the many mysterious objects that lined the headmaster's desktop, but Severus didn't even grant it a second glance.
Even when he stormed back into the airy halls of the third floor, the suffocating heat didn't leave him. Severus was struck by a sudden urge to destroy it, to destroy everything. He wanted to tear the paintings from the walls and hurl them onto floor until the canvas splintered. He wanted to yank down the intricately threaded tapestries and trample them until they were indecipherable. He wanted to topple over the many suits of armor that lined the corridor. He wanted to-
Severus went rigid at the unexpected sound of Lily.
"Sev!" Lily spoke again urgently. "Are you all right? What happened?"
Severus looked at her. He took in the delicate features that made up the familiar face. The small, straight nose, the full lips that always seemed to be curved up with a hint of a smile, the normally laughing green eyes, the green eyes that had never known what he had always known. They had never felt the anger that he felt now, never had the hatred that he knew would never leave him, never experienced the loss that he feared would haunt him forever. They knew nothing but happiness, and the realization caused something inside him to snap.
"Sev, you're scaring me." The eyes were crinkled in concern now. "Did he expel you? We can fight this. We'll go up to Dumbledore's office now and…"
Lily was tugging at his arm, but her words went unheard. And suddenly, inexplicably, Severus broke. He pushed her away.
"Leave me alone."
He didn't scream the words. Instead they came out in a lethal whisper that somehow, made it all the worse, and the second he saw the shock and hurt in those green eyes, he felt a flicker of regret among the flames of rage.
He couldn't see Lily. Not now. Not when everything was falling apart in a senseless mess. He had been so sure that he was no longer weak, but underneath that anger, he was just that and nothing more. Unable to look at those eyes a moment longer, Severus swept away, deaf to any reply that she had made.
It was about to rain.
Lily drew her knees up to her chest, hardly aware that she was shivering from the chill that haunted the air. It may have been cold and eerie, especially without the usual students chattering about as they adjusted their telescopes, but the Astronomy Tower was oddly comforting. It was almost like being in the clearing, but the clearing held too much Severus.
The Astronomy Tower was a place of her own.
It was as if she had discovered a new place altogether. She had never really looked at the Astronomy Tower, not with the others there. Her eyes had almost always been on her parchment, and whenever she looked up at the heavens, she had always looked without seeing, before methodically writing it down. Without moving bodies to fill up the space, the circular room danced with shadows with each passing cloud, darkness disguising the timeworn stone and the spidery cracks in between in a blanket of black. But without the clouds, when the sky was clear, the room was bathed in starlight, glistening in such a way that it reminded Lily of the silver doe.
The silver doe. It felt so long ago. Lily could remember how she had argued with Severus during that first year, insisting that she had seen such a creature. He had believed her in the end. It had been a simple time then. They had believed each other, and that had been the end of it.
Lily was beginning to wonder if the silver doe had existed after all.
She remembered seeing it. Just as she remembered that simple time with Severus. But both memories seemed impossibly distant, incredibly unreal. That part of her life seemed like a fantasy, a dream that she had finally woken up from. Now she was in the real world.
Hogwarts may have been a far-off place that sheltered them from the war, newspaper headlines and scraps of parchment their only connection to it. But even though the days of Muggle disappearances and nights of Voldemort recruiting seemed to be in another world entirely, that didn't keep its blood from trickling into the world of Hogwarts. Slytherins and Gryffindors had never been the best of friends, and Lily doubted that Blaine Mulciber had ever been an angel to begin with, but what had begun as childish rivalry had cooled and hardened into something darker.
Lily wasn't completely oblivious. She had noticed how the word 'mudblood' was increasingly hissed in the halls. She had seen how the harmless little jinxes from first year had leapt to spells found only in the realm of dark magic. The real world was harsh. Blood mattered and friendships ended. Wars were fought and people died. It was cold and it was cruel, but it was real.
"It is real, isn't it?"
"It's real for us."
Severus hadn't lied to her then. Hogwarts was real, just like the war, just like them. But back then, Lily hadn't known what real was.
Real was when the moment ended, and seeing the expression in those dark eyes as he snapped at her, Lily was almost certain that it had. In that moment, he hadn't been Sev, or even Severus. He had been just another Slytherin, one that she had never seen before.
She hadn't even been able to summon her former strength. She had been too stunned. Severus wasn't the perfect best friend, but he was hers, and his behavior had been ridiculous, even for him. He was a hypocrite with a tendency to be overprotective and overbearing, but he wasn't cruel. Not like them. Not to her.
He had promised that he would make more of an effort, and Lily hadn't expected him to keep it forever. She just hadn't expected him to break it so soon.
There was a creak and Lily tore her eyes from the sky in alarm, desperately hoping that it was not the Bloody Baron, who she had heard, lurked up in the Tower more often than not. But ghosts didn't creak, and Lily relaxed, assuming, rather hoping, that she must have imagined it.
But the floorboards groaned again, as if insisting that she hadn't.
Lily's muscles tautened, and for the first time since arriving, the Astronomy Tower felt as sinister as it looked. She couldn't move, nor could she look away from the door and the thin line of light that appeared just below it. She sat there, frozen and waiting in the darkness. Was it just her imagination or could she hear the ominous rattle of the Bloody Baron's chains nearby?
The door opened, and Lily sprung into action, seizing her wand just in case it happened to be one of the many monsters that she was dreaming up in her mind. But to her immense relief, it was Severus. The relief lasted only a split-second, and once his earlier words had sunk in all over again, Lily straightened up, doing her best to appear intimidating and untouchable. After all, she had found the Astronomy Tower first. He was the one intruding.
But as she searched his face, she could feel her resolve slowly begin to disintegrate, revealing a new layer of confusion. She didn't understand. She didn't understand how he could change so quickly. One day he was swearing that they were best friends, the next he acted as if he despised her. Surely even the Slytherins couldn't have held that much power over him.
"I didn't know you were here," Severus said at last in what Lily supposed was an attempt of an apology. His awkwardness was now visible, destroying the impassive ice in his eyes. He ducked his down, as if unable to meet her eyes. "I'll go."
And that was when Lily saw something that she couldn't understand how she had missed before. Severus didn't hate her. He was upset. It troubled her, how quickly she had assumed he had, how she had expected he had. Part of Lily wanted nothing more than to place her hands on her hips and to demand for him to tell her what was wrong. But the better part of her knew Severus. If something was bothering him, truly bothering him, he would have to tell her on his own terms. An order would only receive sullen guardedness and a cold retort. A careful plea was the solution.
"Sev," Lily said softly, her bright green eyes earnest as she tilted her head imploringly at him. "Can you please tell me what happened? If you've been expelled, we can fix this-"
"I haven't been expelled," Severus said curtly.
"Oh," Lily let out the breath that she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
"My mum died."
The ice had returned. He said the words carelessly, in a cold manner that would have shocked anyone, that would have had most raising their eyebrows in disapproval. Anyone except Lily. She knew better, and beneath the fierce glare in those coal black eyes, she could see something else, faint but certain, and she knew that Severus was hurting.
"Oh, Sev," Lily didn't know what to say, what she could say. Instead, she simply wrapped her arms around his stiff frame. At first, he seemed to grow even more rigid, but slowly he relaxed, and Lily could feel his arms tighten around her. He buried his face in her mess of red curls and there was the sound, low and hoarse, of a muffled sob.
Never before had Lily seen Severus Snape cry. She had seen him with a black eye, bleeding knees, and the most gruesome of bruises. She had seen him being pushed around by the Muggle boys, and she had seen him fight back and lose. She had always been the one to cry, never him. She had felt each and every scrape as if they were her own, and even though it had never been her blood, Severus had been the one to comfort her in his usual grudging way, every time.
And now, he was turning to her.
Lily didn't dare speak. She knew if she did, it would make Severus all too aware of the moment, and she feared he would go running out the door. There was more than one question nagging her mind, but she wouldn't allow herself to ask them.
Finally, they broke apart and Severus stood back, rather awkwardly. He lowered his head, purposefully causing his limp locks of hair to come forward, acting as a shield for his red-rimmed eyes.
"I shouldn't care," Severus whispered almost forcefully, as if trying to convince himself.
"Of course you should," Lily said gently. "She's your mum."
The 'was' lingered between them, but neither dared to correct her words aloud.
"Lily," Severus spoke in a voice that was similar to his usual, but not quite there. "About earlier…"
But Lily was already shaking her head. "Forget it."
"I didn't mean-"
And she did know. Perhaps there was a ticking clock on their friendship, but standing there in the Astronomy Tower, not even inches away, it was so easy to forget. The rain had just begun to fall, and listening to the comforting pitter-patter against the stone, Lily forgot all about moments.
"Do you remember when we danced in the rain?" Lily asked suddenly, a faint smile touching her lips. A cool breeze swept through the open space, sending droplets flying their way. Her cheeks were moist from the drizzle, but she didn't move to dry them. Her eyes were only on Severus.
He nodded tightly.
They stood there in silence, watching the billowing clouds gather and thicken in the darkening heavens. The stars were hidden, and no longer did bright silver flood the room. Only a weak light from the moon remained, partially obscured by the blanketed sky, but refusing to be fully dimmed.
"Yeah?" Lily glanced back at him. Strands of ebony clung to his damp face, his complexion undeniably alabaster in the lighting. Without the curtains of hair to veil his features, his eyes looked suddenly enormous, the intensity burning quietly in the coal black even greater than usual. He no longer resembled the Severus that walked with Slytherins, and instead, he looked very young, as young as the Severus she had seen when she had first approached Spinner's End.
"I don't want to lose you too."
Looking at him, Lily couldn't help but wonder if there was hope for them after all. They couldn't possibly end. Perhaps they wouldn't always be the nine year olds they had always been, but that didn't mean they wouldn't be together. They were Severus and Lily, Lily and Severus, and the world would have been a twisted place if they were broken apart.
Maybe they weren't as young as they had been before, but Lily was struck by an urge to pretend to be. She took his hand, similarly to how she had done three years before, but instead of her playful demand, her voice was a quiet plea. "Dance with me?"
For once, he didn't protest. It hadn't begun as a dance. Not really. They were barely swaying, a far cry from the last time. But as the seconds ticked by, the closer they became toward that Severus and Lily, the Severus and Lily that Lily wished with all her heart they could be again. But time had aged them, just as the overhanging war had. This time, there was no careless spinning or laughter rolling down their cheeks, but as the rain grew heavier, their motions became lighter and Severus less reluctant. He twirled her, and when Lily came whirling back, she could almost swear that she saw a new spark in his eyes.
But it had faded as quickly as it had come alive. They slowed down, but surprisingly, Severus didn't leap back immediately as Lily half-expected him to. She rested her head against his chest. He was solid, as solid as he usually felt, but she wondered if he was breaking inside. Automatically, Lily thought back to her own mother. At the prospect that there would be a time that she wouldn't see Bryony's warm smile, Lily felt something form in her throat. She stiffened, and Severus must have sensed it, for he released her and she could feel the chilly air rush all around her.
At the sudden awareness of their previous position, Lily felt an unexpected warmth rise in her cheeks, even more conspicuous in the frigid tower. To her horror, she realized it was a blush, and quickly she looked away, thankful for the shadows. She couldn't understand why she was blushing. It was just Severus. They had shared hugs and held hands a million times, most likely even more, and while he had always been rather strange about it, Lily had never been shy. Hugs between friends were only natural to her.
And then she remembered the glint in his eyes the day she had confronted him, and she shifted her feet uncomfortably at the memory. He had been so intense then, so possessive. It was almost as if he had been jealous. But it was Severus. He didn't have much, but what he had, he tended to be possessive of. It didn't mean anything, Lily decided, and it certainly didn't mean what she had heard Petunia say before. Severus didn't care about her that way. The idea that Severus Snape fancied someone was mad. It was absurd. He was Severus.
And as for her blush, she was most likely coming down with a fever. He was just Sev, her best friend Sev, and there was the end of it.
Relieved that she had reached a verdict, Lily stole a glance at him, and her awkward thoughts were forgotten. He wasn't facing her. He had moved, and his thin hands were clutching the railing tightly, ghostly white in the darkness. Lily studied his profile and was overcome by a wave of affection for the gangly figure that had stuck by her side throughout the years, and a final wave of pain for his sorrow, that stayed with her and tore at her heart.
"I love you, Sev," Lily said softly.
He turned around quickly and when his dark eyes met hers, there was a glimmer that took a hold of her heart again.
"You're my best friend," Lily said, venturing near the railing rather timidly. Once she was beside him, she gripped the cool metal, her hand only inches away from his. "…And I know that doesn't mean much right now, but you'll always have me. And I know things are a mess, but it will get better. Everything will be okay. It might not seem like it, but it will be. Really."
She didn't know if those were the right words to say. She didn't know if there were any right words to say. But she did know that she wanted Severus to know that he wasn't alone. To know that he was loved.
Wordlessly, Severus moved his arm and rested his hand over hers. It was one of the rare occasions that he initiated contact, but Lily understood. The motion said everything he wanted to say but couldn't.
And for the rest of the time they stood there, neither said a word. The only sound came from pouring rain, and Lily found that she didn't mind sharing the Astronomy Tower after all.
Again, I hope I portrayed Severus's reaction accurately. I've never lost a parent, and writing this chapter was really something I struggled with because I can't imagine going through that pain. Severus's relationship with Eileen made it even more complicated, and I couldn't decide if was realistic for him to cry or not, but in the end, I kept it in.