Year1 summer break
It wasn't peculiar that either of them should find the other at their window on a summer night.
Lily, when she would steal away to Spinner's End, would tap the glass of Severus's bedroom window impatiently, looking over her shoulder with worry wrinkling her features at the sound of stray dogs barking and visages of shadows stretching and yawning in her direction. Inside there was yelling, always some horrible yelling. Sometimes she would see Tobias Snape sauntering through Severus's room, engaged in whatever mental or physical torture struck him the most amusing on that particular night - Lily holds her hand over her mouth on these occasions, her back pressed round the wall of the window, having to hear Severus hit the floor or his belonging go shattering or furniture scraping hard from force. Then she would tap. Quick, urgent, wanting him to see her before she lost her will and fled from the futility of horrors she couldn't change. He would look up from his apathetic flounce across the bed, he would look up while picking up a torn book, he would look up with his bloodied nose and his lanky limbs spread dazed across the floor, and there was always such thankfulness that she had come.
When Severus went to Lily's home he would stare into the window until she noticed him; he would press his hands against the white clapboards of her windowsill and get lost in the hazy warm yellow light from inside, the faint smell of something nice cooking in the family's kitchen. Lily was usually flopped across her bed reading a book, and he could watch her for an hour before she would even noticed him. Sometimes she was at her vanity table, combing out her long red hair or considering her wand or writing madly in her journal with softly changing facial expressions that Severus would watch adamantly. When she would finally notice him (usually by chance glance or because Severus had crunched a stick in shifting around) she would jump, she always jumped, and then she would give him an admonishing look and open up the window and drag him inside by his arms.
"You would't think it was ugly if you hadn't gotten sorted into Slytherin," Lily says, continuing to spin in front of her bedroom mirror, making the cape swish in the air dramatically. The shiny red brocade and rich gold velvet catch the bedroom light in a hazing, twinkling kind of way. Severus turns his nose up regardless, not moving from his hunched spot on the floor by the window.
"I think you'd look better in our house's colors, the red looks wrong with your hair and the gold doesn't really do anything for your skin colour," he grumbles, twirling a piece of torn parchment paper between his fingers.
Lily looks at his reflection in the mirror for a long beat, her expression softening slightly at the ragged edges of his coat and the little stain on the edge of his collar. When he finally looks up and sees her watching him his cheeks go red and he tries to give a kind of indifferent, ugly look, but she just smiles.
"I actually tried on your house colors the other day and I didn't like how they looked.." Severus looks at her again, confused, and Lily's smile only grows as she spins around and drops to her knees and slides a box out from under her bed.
She pushes it across the carpet to him.
Severus goes rigid and his lips go tight in that way Lily recognizes, and she knows he won't open the box himself so she opens it for him and pushes away the tissue paper.
"It was mums idea to buy it for you. While she was paying I tried it on in the store mirror and James Potter and his lott walked by and tried making a smart comment but I told them to go away because they don't know anything, anyway." Her words are a little rushed - she knows Severus is only ever a word or thought away from refusing a kindness. To emphasize it she pulls the sleek green cloak out of the box and pushes it to pool in Severus's lap. "And you can't say no because mum would be so hurt," she adds as he examines it.
He doesn't touch it, just stares down at the silvery lining with his face going hot with embarrassment. Noone else's parents had ever bought him something, especially something so nice, and instead of seeing the kindness in the act he thinks how lowly Lily's mother must think of he and his family. He starts to say it, he starts to speak out as only Severus can, to push warmth away because it was so alien to him, but Lily is already picking the cloak up and wrapping it around his bony shoulders. Her hair brushes his face as she tugs it around him and her smile never wavers. He can smell her on it, like faded lavender. She is standing, grabbing his hands and pulling him up and over to the mirror with her and she smiles to their twin reflection side by side as he sulks.
"The colors didn't do a thing for me but they really do suit you, Sev" she remarks, trying to smooth down the edges of the cloak and scrutinizing the length. "Maybe an inch too long, I was trying to show the seamstress how tall you were but it's hard to be exact in those situations," she continues factually, doing the talking for both of them as he stares dumbly.
"Well don't you like it?" She asks finally, exasperation edging her tone. Severus just shrugs his shoulders hard enough that the cloak falls down on the ground.
"It's fine but I don't need it, mum bought me a winter cloak and really, I think house colors on a cloak are too flashy - that's definitely more of a Gryffindor thing." Her face threatens to stay tough, she has known Severus long enough to know he acts off about niceness, infact, the nicer a person is to him the meaner he gets about it. But Severus continues, trying to add unneeded swagger and spite to his tone.
"But you're a Gryffindor so the whole affair suits you. You really can't understand what it feels like to be Slytherin or how we like to present ourselves, but it's okay, I don't fault you for that, Lily. I accept you the way you are but really, you needn't push your.. fashion sense on me. I don't need it."
Lily looks stuck between hurt and anger and her fists shake a little at her sides.
"Fine," she says with cool indifference, bending to grab the garment and fold it neatly, concentrating on lining the hems to keep from letting hot tears spill down her cheeks as Severus turns away to return to his spot on the floor, the matter closed. She doesn't say that she saved two months of allowance to pay for it herself, or that she had thought about how nice the two of them would look breezing down the halls in matching cloaks (colors aside). His initials are monogrammed on the inside but she folds the cloth doubled over, hiding them, and sticks it back in it's box.
After several more failed attempts to give the cape to Severus Lily means to throw it out but never does, it stays tucked away in it's box in the Evan's attic. It gets handed down to Pentunia when the Evans die (with a considerable amount of other things) and gets pushed into the Dursley's attic. It doesn't get found again until long after the war, when some old grudges have died (with Petunia) and Duddley contacts Harry to give him what he's discovered of his mother's belongings. Most of it has soft sentimental value but the Slytherin house cloak puzzles Harry and he can only think to put it to the side for Albus Severus (who had been sorted into Slytherin only that year, himself). Harry turns the cape over in his hands and finds the monogrammed initials. He smiles at them sadly after a few moments of thought and decides, to himself, to have his sons monogrammed under them.
Year2 summer break
Princess of a flowering empire with her band of Sasanqua blossoms folded into a neat crown, Lily breaks into the familiar alleyway of Spinner's end. It isn't quite night time, but at the peak of sunset with the sky a fired pitch; children still play in the street at the industrial end of the neighborhood with kites casting endless shadows and the jaunty sound of echoed laughter rings down the stone buildings. It feels like a good day to her and she hasn't seen Severus since the beginning of summer break.
She stands on her toes and looks into his window to find him laying in an uncommitted stupor on his bed. The sheets aren't made beneath him and one of them drapes onto the floor and looks wilted and yellow. He stares hard at the ceiling. She makes a mental note to buy him some of those nice stars that she has for her own ceiling, they make listless staring much nicer and Severus certainly does alot of it, Lily reasons. She taps. For a moment she is nervous with two weeks between them but the minute his head snaps in her direction she can tell by his eyes that he is glad she came. He stands with some slow effort and Lily sees his left arm is splint up. As soon as the window is up and he shambles outside the questions come pouring out of her, all of which Severus shrug at.
"I was being clumsy, fell as soon as I got home and mums been worrying me to death about it," he says it a little too quickly, cutting his eyes away for a moment with hair long and slack around his face. To change the subject he appraises her, his eyes lingering on her crown of flowers, and his face takes on a kind of bemused embarrassment for her. She answers by throwing up a hand from behind her back and slapping a crown of matching flowers on Severus. He throws it off instantly, of course, but a healthy amount of small flowers shake off the wreath and tangle into his hair without his immediate knowledge, which makes Lily smile brighter.
"I'm not one of your little girlfriends, you know," he grumbles, worrying his hair behind his ears and fixing her with a serious look. He thinks better of it all, though, and picks the wreath up off the ground where he had thrown it and sits it gingerly on his windowsill before grabbing Lily's arms to tug her back the way she always came, towards the dense woods between their neighborhoods.
"What's with that, anyway?" he asks, little flowers still hanging in his hair that she feels sorry about and begins to pull out as they walk.
"Petunia and I were doing a play but you know how she gets and she started crying because she thought my crown got all the good flowers and ran off, so I thought I'd check on you. Honestly, good flowers, can you imagine? You haven't even sent me an owl this summer and it's unbecoming best friend behavior!"
Severus looks amused enough, he almost always enjoys hearing about Pentunia because it is inevitably a flustering story that makes Lily's cheeks go red, but he continues dragging her by the arm through the thickets, off the main trail they've worn into the meadows by constantly tracking back and forth to one another. She still tries to twist blooms out of his hair even when he finally stops and stoops down.
"I wanted them to be a bit more mature, but this will do to show you," he says, some proudness in his voice. Lily only half hears him, one flower tearing apart and messy petals getting stuck so she stands over Severus and tries to fingercomb his hair for the mess she's made.
"I really am sorry about the wreath, I just knew you'd hate it so it seemed funny at the time but you hair is so thick," she drawls, brushing some of the plumage off his shoulders. Severus looks up at her, grinning a little, and she looks past him to the ground to see what he is so excited about.
"Oh!" she drops on her knees, too, and carefully touches a leaf of the curious, furry little plant - there is a small crop of them growing together, five atleast.
"Are these blackboys? How did they grow here?" Lily asks, dazed, thinking of how rarely the plants grow and how useful they were for advanced potion making. Severus is still grinning, fully now, and Lily looks at him with a screwy expression.
"Well, you remember last term Professor Sprout was growing some things for the ministry and I got that detention with her.." he cuts off for a moment, as if remembering the moment clearly and with great anger at it's unfounded nature. It clears, though, and he continues. "Well, there was commotion in the hallway and she went to inspect it and I remembered the stuff we'd read about blackboys and I recognized them instantly, you know, so I snagged a few seeds off one of the pods while she was out. Planted them the first afternoon I got home."
Lily listens to the story, worrying her bottom lip as it continues, her pleasant expression fading as Severus tells it with glee. More and more the things he gets excited about worry her in this way, and she knows it's a delicate topic to admonish him about.
"Oh Sev, you shouldn't have done that. You know there are some nasty potions that can be made and you could get into so much trouble--"
The proud look on Severus's face vanishes immediatly and is replaced with something resembling bitterness and he struggles to stand with his one good hand on the ground for leverage.
"I thought you wanted to try out that levitating potion-"
"Well I mean I do - I did - but not really - Sev we could get into so much trouble!" she manages, staring down at the crystalized blooms in their juvenile stage.
"Youre worried about the dark art potions though, the banned potions - why does your mind always have to go there with everything I do? I just thought.." He turns away from her, staring off into a grove of teatrees with Lily still kneeling on the ground. She feels bad instantly, and tries to brush some of the dirt of Severus's pants before standing up herself.
"Oh Sev, I know you meant well I just don't want you to risk trouble for some stupid potion I wanted to try, you know in our fifth year we can make it in the classroom and I don't mind waiting, really, I was just talking then-"
She is halfway through the thought when Severus grinds his boot down into the plants, little pops as each of their blossoms break open and lavender tar soaks down into the grass.
"It was stupid, nevermind." He says, finally, breaking off her apologetic explanation.
Sunset has dwindled to a few points of light, stars and planets burning far away on the horizon.
He doesn't tell her how hard cultivating the plants had been, or how he had had to sneak out to tend them several times a day and had gotten caught by his father trying to slip back in, one night, and received the broken arm as penance because the stupid muggle had been in a drunk stupor, again.
Lily continues to play with his hair, reminding him of the way a mother comforts an admonished child, and he slaps her hand away from him finally and trecks back toward his house in the dark. At first Lily hesitates to follow but then runs blindly after him, catching his hand with her own so he can lead them out of the grove.
When they clear out Severus Snape's quarters in Hogwarts three decades later, a trist of Aurors doing the honors because noone quite believes Potter's stories trying to defend the man's ultimate alliances just yet, they scan through piles of old books to determine what can be recycled into the Hogwarts library and what has to be confiscated. One pile is covered in dust and one of the Aurors boredly tips it over to scan the covers lazily. The second to bottom book simply spills open, revealing a flattened wreath of dried flowers held in the pages of an old potions manual. The Auror simply gives it a queer look and tosses the lot of it into the rubbish bin, deeming it outdated without a second thought.
Year3 summer break
"Oh, Severus, come here," Mrs. Evans whispers, gathering the boy into her arms and holding him in a pool of black robes. Lily Hugs him, too, until he politely pulls away from both of them and thanks them for coming. Snape's mother worries her hands together in a large circle of witches and wizards who have come to pay their respects to her late husband and Mr. and Mrs. Evans teeter off to join them after a few more comforting words to the pale little boy their daughter so adores.
Severus stands awkwardly rigid as passing wellwishers continue to patt him on the back in consolation. He looks uncomfortable over the scrutiny the eyes are giving their modest home and he imagines what they are thinking with a snarled lip in their direction. Lily stands next to him and never lets go of his hand. When he pulls it away to shake hands with some towering older gentleman she puts her fingers against his back and rubs it softly. She doesn't expect him to mourn, not in a traditional sense, and she knows the history that had existed between Severus and his father so she knows he doesn't feel it like he should but he has to feel something, she tells herself, and she has to be there for him. She can't even imagine. She can't even imagine.
Over the summer Severus had shot up almost half a foot taller than her, and he looked especially lanky in his formal dress robes, all bones and young boy swimming in their depths. When he pulls away from her and walks into the hallway, away from the crowd, she follows politely. His hands in his pockets he stares at one of the framed photos on the wall; a still shot, because Severus's father hadn't allowed bewitched photos in the home. In it he stands with his son, both looking grave and unhappy. Severus smiles at it and Lily's eyes soften, imagining him lost in some moment of fond recollection. In reality Severus remembers how uncomfortable standing had been for the photo that day, lashes across his back from his father's belt so severe that their outlines had been swollen purple bruises and weeping blisters for weeks. He continues to smile while looking at it, bringing up a bony hand to touch it.
"Who won in the end, I wonder?" he hisses at it under his breath.
Lily steps closer, cocking her head and bringing a hand around him again. "What was that, Sev?" she asks, unsure of what she had heard. He doesn't answer. Instead he turns to look down at her and brings both of his hands to rest on her bare shoulders.
"You look amazing in this dress, Lil," he whispers. His face is full of dark shadows and behind them they can hear Severus's mother crying. He lets one of his hands drop down the lenth of Lily's arm, skirting it with his fingertips until he is holding her hand. She tries to muster her most supportive smile while watching him curiously.
"Can you believe I'm finally free of him?" Severus asks, taking her hand and bringing it up to his lips, kissing her knuckles gently.
"Oh Sev, it just hasn't hit you yet, you don't know what you're saying," she whispers, stepping closer to him and coaxing his head down with her free hand so she can rest her forehead againt his cheek. Severus keeps her knuckles against his lips, kissing them gently. He kisses down to her wrist.
"I'm free, now, Lily," he continues, his voice absolutely sultry. His mouth opens and she can feel his tongue on her pulse point, letting his teeth scrape her skin. She tries to bring him back by turning his face to look her in the eyes.
"Severus, please," she struggles.
Severus folds down on her, scooping her into his arms and pinning her against the wall; he kisses her hard on the mouth. She fights it instantly but his tongue is already in her mouth and his body covers her. He doesn't force it for long, it is a brief thing born out of excitement and disbelief and the need to share it with someone, the wonder of it jolting through him like electricity.
"Finally free," he whispers against her lips in excitement and he starts to laugh, then, pulling his mouth from hers as she stares at him with a mixture of horror and confusion. He pushes his hair back off his face and burries his whole head down into her neck and hair and he hugs her tight. Her initial distress melts and she finally wraps her arms around him again, letting him laugh against her.
"You're free, Sev," she echoes, trying to push the pecularity of the way the man had died out of her head as she embraces her friend.
Year4 summer break
"It's just so hot in here," Lily bemoans, throwing her head back on Severus's bed. "How can anyone concentrate, how do you read in here?" They had been laying on their sides facing one another on Severus's bed, both reading a different book with their knees lapping together. Lily pushes hair out of her eyes and stretches, causing the tank top to pull up and bare her stomach. Severus's eyes gaze over his book's top and take her in, moving his leg to stay against hers in her new position. She stares over at him and gives him a mourning pout. "Can't we just do a little spell to cool it down in here?" her bottom lip looks soft.
He picks up his wand and moves to flick his wrist but she leaps upright and grabs his hand, laughing, crushing their books beneath her body as she struggles to get his wand from him. "Joking, joking! it's not worth being expelled!!" She gasps in her fit of laughter as Severus continues to elude her grabs - hardly fair with his long arms, pulling his wand farther and farther backwards until Lily is almost laying on him. He finally lets his wrist go weak and she grabs it with triumph and he moves his hands down to her waist, steadying her on top of him and stares up at her.
She traces the wand down his face and continues to laugh lightly, out of breath from the effort and oblivious to the way Severus stares up at her.
He thinks, if she cursed him where he lays, even with his own wand, he'd die happy here and forgive her for killing him.
"I could make a potion that will make you feel cold," he offers, his hands still on her hips. He fights every urge to round them back to her ass. Lily's face lights with mischievous intrigue.
"Could you really, Sev, do you really know how?" she sits up and leans against the wall by the bed, her legs still tumbled in with his, and bites her finger.
Severus sits up as well, smoothing his hair down and pushing himself off the bed to open his closet. Instead of clothing it is stuffled with awkward, lopsided shelving units and bottles full of materials.
"I could have you shaking in your tank top in five minutes," he promises with a threatening tone, picking up two bottles.
Lily claps her hands together in excitement and moves to the edge of the bed to watch him. "Oh Sev, this is fun," she whispers.
Twenty minutes later Lily is shivering hard and wears two of Severus's coats. "This isnt as fun as I thought it was going to be," she cries, her teeth chattering. She pulls Severus's comforter up around her shoulders. It envelopes her with his scent, a woodsy clove smell that gets stronger every year (she's noticed). He sits hunched over a leather bound notebook filled with scribbled potions of his own design. He chews on his quilltip, muttering, scratching something out and replacing it. "I think this potion needs just one spoon of Canna root.." he mutters, trying to figure out why it had been so intense.
Lily sighs and throws the comforter over Severus and pulls him under with her. She is a lumpy bundle of his cheap wool coats but his hands slide under them and find the bare skin of her side as she shakes and they lay face to face. Their noses almost touch and Severus brings his hand up to brush a sleek streak of hair out of her eyes.
"I'm sorry," he whispers, "you weren't supposed to be this cold - it will wear off soon, though," he promises. The comforter blots out most of the overhead light but he can see Lily smile, anyway. Even in a void he could picture her smile clearly.
"My lips feel numb," she whispers.
There had been increased intimacy between them since the previous summer as both of them came around to puberty clumsily in the way great childhood friends do. It was all new to Lily, she was blooming a little later than Severus had but her newfound feelings about almost everything were perplexing. Right now all she could concentrate on was that clovey, smoky smell of Severus - she often wondered if it was his natural scent or if it was some oil he concocted and wore. She feels his hands on her skin in a way that if foreign to her.
"Can I put my lips under your arm? I need to keep them warm" Lily murmurs.
"Are you asking to put your lips in my armpitt?" Severus asks, making the question sound like the tome of disgust.
Lily laughs. She thinks he looks lovely in the low light with his hair wild and she knows he likes her and he is (really) so brilliant, he knows so much about spells and potionmaking and he is the most creative person she has ever met. Without thinking she leans forward and kisses him. Something out of childhood at first, then dissolving into the adult world that pulls her in so quick that she lays a hand flat against one of his sallow, hollow cheeks. Severus doesn't faulter for one moment. He is immediatly kissing her back, pulling her as close as he can get her to his own body and when their hips meet she moans against his mouth involuntarily and pulls him onto her. He settles his weight down and her legs spread around him to make them both more comfortable as he dips his head and kisses her as deeply as he can, breathing hard from the heat that Lily is oblivious to. His hair falls down over her face and he pulls away and stares down at her and god, she loves the way he looks in that moment. Full of intensity and desire and he feels so right.
"You are so beautiful," he whispers, his black eyes glittering, shifting his hips so that she can feel how hard she has made him and she gasps and reaches up and tangles her fingers into his hair and jerks his head back down, his lips smashing against hers a second time.
Severus is the first boy she ever kisses, the first one to tell her she is beautiful in any believable way.
His body shakes and he starts to kiss her jawline. It feels wet and cold and amazing and she shivers under him, relishing the heat of his body pressing her down into the bed. Her hands grasp the back of his neck, pressing him to continue dragging his lips across her throat as she raises her hips up to meet his in a desperate, sudden need.
"I want you," Severus whispers against her collarbone. "Let me have you."
Her head is such a jumble of desire and confusion as they break this delicate balance in their friendship, and then a sudden dread fills her. Their friendship. Their friendship. What would be left for them after this? And if Severus was jealous now (he was, insanley so, about everything) what would it be like when she actually belonged to him in some real sense? How had this all started, how had it escalated so quickly?
'Wait," she whispers suddenly, pushing him off her again. He is panting hard against her and his hands skirt up the sides of her tank top, so close, and he leans in to kiss her again but then he is tumbling off of her and falling on the ground off of the bed, Lily having shoved him off of her uncerimoniously.
'That potion.. did you put something in it?" she asks with a trembling voice, her hair a mess from the comforter and his jackets hanging off of her awkwardly. She has stopped shivering for the moment.
It takes a long minute for Severus to realize what she is asking him and his eyes go up to her in horror and disbelief. "You don't honestly think..." he stands up, still breathing hard and looks down at her crumpled state on his bed. "You think I would.. do you really think..." He sounds utterly bewildered.
Lily starts to feel hot tears form, not sure what she had meant, confused. "I'm sorry Sev, I didn't..I just.. what has gotten into me? It.. I don't understand it.. you're my best friend and friends don't.." She struggles to make sense of it, one shiver running through her with a trill.
Severus's face is dark and disgusted and he throws a hand down his desk, knocking all of the bottles he had made the cold potion with to the ground and shattering them. Lily jumps from the noise. A tangerine fizzle hangs in the air from the awkward combination of ingrediants and smoke hisses off the floorboards like cold ice.
"It can't just be that you want me as much as I want you.. no.. Lily Evans the Gryffindor is above desire," he roars, each word more hoarse. "It has to be that the slimey little Slytherin boy has poisoned her mind.."
Lily has hot trails of tears running down her cheeks, now. "Severus I was just, I've never felt that way before, I didn't mean-"
"GET OUT!" he screams at her. When she doesn't move he grabs her by her forearm and jerks her off of his bed and shoves her toward the window.
She stands, shaking and crying, and finally turns away from him and manages out of the window.
"Sev, you're my best friend," she cries, wrapping her arms around herself.
Severus simply slams the window down and the curtains follow shortly after.
Year5 summer break
Lily had not answered any of his owls. He knows, god he knows it had been unforgivable. Mudblood! - he hates himself more than she could ever hate him. He sits in a hunch over his bed's edge, waiting on his owl to return without a response for the thirty third time this summer. There were only two weeks left until they went back for their sixth year and he couldn't imagine going back and not sitting with her on the train. Not watching her pick through her food at the great feast and gorge on pumkin pasties (god he hated pumkin pasties). There is a small glass half emptied of it's firewhiskey on the bedside table and he picks it up and drains it just as his owl glides down to the window and lands on the sill. He drops his glass and snatches the small rolled parchment out of it's grip so quickly that it squawks in alarm and flutters away.
8PM. Lakeside is all it says in impassionate scroll.
She is already there when he arrives, sitting calmly at the edge of the lake. She hears the crunch of dead leaves under his uncoodinated feet and turns to watch him with an eyebrow raised. He tries his hardest to look well put-together and not drunk (he's only a little drunk, afterall). He thinks hard about whether he should stand or sit but Lily answers for him by standing and facing him, a few feet between them.
"Severus, you have to stop owling me." She says, finally. She shifts her eyes away and Severus knows immediatly that she really doesn't want to be here. But they'd had tons of fights, hadn't they?
"Look - Lily -" he notices his hands have come up expressivly and puts them back down. "Lily I am so sorry." He cleaves a hand through his hair and pushes it back and takes a step toward her. "You know, I mean you know I don't really think of you like that. You know how I am sometimes.." A long twilight envelopes the tallest treetops as though the world is folding in around them - swallows and martins course, and the lonely call of a curlew sounds overheard.
Lily takes a step back and puts the same amount of distance between them, again. It makes him stop where he is standing, wobbling dumbly, struck by her horror to be closer to him. Fragments from the age of ten in gilded gold frames of the heart shifting and breaking apart expressivly across his face, in his features. The air is heavy with the scent of wisteria growing low on the ground, and the whistle of duck wings against the starlit sky fills the void that begins to spread like blotted black watercolours.
"I told you everything I had to say, Severus, it's not that I am mad at you - I mean this isn't some argument. These are the paths we've chosen to go down and they.. our paths split here."
She is more rigid and resolved than he's ever seen her before and for a moment he can't decide how to say what he wants to say. She is wearing a blue dress. She looks beautiful in blue. It is true that Severus has never had much, but because of what he lacks he values what he has so much more. And she is all of it, all of what there is of goodness and purity and beauty. In his saddest corners he mentally begs Lily not to take this away from him. Lily would point overheard and follow the red-tip robins by fingetip, tracing their forms across the skyline in lazy loops that inevitably led down to Severus's nose and cheeks and, still, her laughter is in his ears from those days she colored the sky across his sweaty skin. The scenes melt and twist into kaleidoscope realities, irish twined vines, pictish coiled snakes: the mist wavers and the sky changes to colorful cottoncandy between long, quiet glances.
He tries to step toward her again and, again, she steps back. He recalls her ice skating on big bear creek in the lemon light of early morning during winter break. Blowing butterbeer malt-bubbles into the air at the Hogshead tavern during trips to Hogsmeade. Long hours across from one another in the library and Lily's fingertips tracing still muggle artwork, 'Botticelli', she would breathe in an intoxicated fashion, causing Severus to look into the faces of dead Saints to see what she saw.
"Lily, I love you.."
"Severus, we aren't friends anymore."
The sentences come together in the air, clogged and messy and equally painful.
Severus continues to wobble where he stands.
"It was an accident.." he whispers.
"No, Severus, it wasn't. And I can't keep trying to change you. I don't want to keep trying to change you."
She looks away, up, to the sagging willows overhead that Severus had once charmed, turning hundreds of leaves into fluttering wings. She smiles for those faint ghosts from what seems like another lifetime.
Severus wilts to the ground, staring impassivly at the lake.
"I'd change for you.." he whispers, softer.
Lily looks down at him, a sad expression on her face. "Change isn't like that, Sev, and you know it. It isn't something you choose ..it just.. exists.."
He doesn't respond. He stares at the lake for long hours, unsure of when exactly she'd left. Unsure of when one day had ended and the next began with the sun spilling over him.
He sits that way, in that spot, willing himself to die in the way pained teenage love sacrifices itself at loss freely, until his owl squawks behind him. It steps carefully and drops a letter, then swoops away again. The envelope is thick, rich vellum and the outside reads Severus. A wax seal for the Malfoy manor seals it, red as blood and crisp. Malfoy had been trying to recruit most of the Slytherin lott to his cause - causes Severus wasn't blind to, certainly, but had been putting off because he knew Lily would just hate his being friends with those people. Maybe that was her point. He had never flinched at their allegiances, he had never thought poorly of what they did - if he had ever pulled away it had been because of Lily. His fists ball in his lap. I don't need her he tells himself, finally feeling cathardic anger beginning to blossom.
Year6 summer break
"I just don't understand why we are here," Narcissa hisses into Lucius's ear. Lucius fixes her with a glazed smile and puts an arm around her thin waist to comfort her.
"Because, my dear, there are still many undecided witches and wizards to recruit and this is the, uhm, perfect place to find them," Behind him his fellows chuckle over the whoops and yelling of the otherwise noisy party. Lucius turns and flicks his hands so that most of them disband, off to scout anyone sitting alone, looking miserable or seemingly in need of a lifestyle change. Only a few remain, Severus among them, and they sit themselves on a couch of questionable quality (Narcissa touches the springy fabric in horror and then looks around in distress which only makes Lucius smile).
"Severus, you look like you're enjoying yourself," Lucius croons with the same silky smile. Severus repsonds by smiling weakly and the girl hanging off of him repsonds by licking his neck and sliding her hand along his thigh and he wonders, briefly, if it would be an insult to Malfoys apparent kindness in having found this gem if he pushed her backwards by the face to get her bloody away.
"What about your classmates, who is here that we should be interested in?" Lucius continues, scanning the packed, smokey room.
Severus tries to sit up but the girl hangs her weight on him so he has to, as politely as he can, take her hands and put them back on her own person before he clears his throat and tries to speak over the noise.
"Notts, I think Notts is interested. That's him over by stairs," Severus points.
"Well go and get him, man," Lucius says incredulously, shooing Severus on like a dog. He complies happily, pulling his limbs out of the medusa's grip and striding through the familiar faces of his yearmates who give him queer expressions. He could sympathize with Narcissa - this was hardly where he wanted to be himself - his sixth year had avoided these people as much as possible and, instead, found refuge in correspondence with Malfoy and in the assurance that there was a place for him outside of Hogwarts.
Notts is pleasant enough and toddles off to join their little group eagerly. Severus gives him a moment to make his own introductions, looking around the room unhappily, when he sees her. He knew he'd see her. This was her kind of thing, wasn't it? She is leaning against the far wall with flanks of her insufferable Gryffindor trooped around her and in the middle with her, leaning into her and talking softly an inch from her mouth, James Potter. Severus hasn't spoken to her since the previous summer but had heard the rumors like everyone else, James Potter. He doesn't know why it bothers him now, he had seen them slagging around together all year, had watched them passing notes in tranfiguration, had felt the icy shift of her eyes anytime she found Severus watching her. He had responded with advanced curses on anyone who touched him - anyone who looked at him wrong. He'd gone from the quiet butt of jokes to a hot, angry teenager who begged for an excuse. Most of the loyal old Gryffindor left him alone, now, the rumors of his holiday break retreats and exploits drifting through the halls as hot and heavy as James Potter and Lily Evans getting caught snogging.
James leans in and Lily laughs and their lips brush. Severus swallows, he can hear it in his ears. Lily closes her eyes, a soft doe-like picture of compliance. He will look back, unable to explain why or how, but his feet carry him through the throngs. Severus has never thought much of physical altercations - both because they seemed poorly muggle and inadequate for any self respecting wizard - and because he wasn't overly athletic or capable. But an alarming ringing is growing in his ears and the edges of his vision threaten to blur with tunneling as he pushes into their circle and Black is saying something immediatly and James turns to look at Severus with a nonchalant grin and Severus wants to feel James Potter's face break under his own hand.
It's his glasses that break in the blow, the glass cuts both the dip between his own eyes and Severus's knuckles and immediatly Severus knows it is stupid because James has him in a headlock before Severus even realizes what he's done and Black is yelling something close to his face. Just like old times, Severus thinks. And now..
"Stop it right this minute!" Lily screams next to them and to Severus's surprise he feels James arm go slack immediatly. He pulls away and looks at her softly, his face bleeding, and Severus grinds his teeth and goes for his wand. Then it is Black, Black's fist in Severus face and immediatly he tastes blood. Lily Almost throws herself on Black's back, grabbing his arm as it cocks for a second punch and she is saying something that Severus can't hear for the ringing in his ears. Blacks elbow catches Lily in the nose, and in the slow motion of his immense regrets Severus watches her stumble backwards, blood pouring out of her nose as her hands come up immediatly. Then it is Potter grabbing Black, screaming at him and throwing him against a wall and all Severus can do is watch in horror as several of Lily's friends produce tissues and crowd around her and James breathes ragged, staring at Severus with all the hatred in the world. Severus's wand hangs limp in his hand.
"Haven't you made her miserable enough?" Potter asks him, Black's shirt still balled in his fists, and Black stares at him in disgust as well. Everyone begins to stare at him, Lily being led away towards the kitchen. Severus reels. He hadn't elbowed her in the face.
"Oh baby, you're bleeding," a girls voice says silkily and her hands are back on Severus and she fixes the group of sneering Gryffindor with a dirty look as she turns Severus away from them and starts crooning in his ear. "You're shaking.." she whispers in surprise, taking his wand out of his slack hand and tucking it into the top of her lowcut shirt. Everyone is looking at him and his date tries to comfort him, still shooting nasty looks. "Come on, Lucius thinks it's time you met him."
Severus makes a great effort to turn his head back - Black and Potter are talking together, their attention off him, but behind them Lily is in the open kitchen doorway, staring after Severus while holding a damp cloth to her nose.
Each passing summer has added cracks and character to the Evans home. It feels familiar, standing in the waning yellow light of her bedroom window. It makes him feel young. All of the old posters have come down and there are stacks of brown boxes piled ceiling-high filled with her belongings - ragged editions of Keat's poetry and innumerable blue dresses and boxes of faded, laughing photos from her happy life. Lily is taping another box and a record plays some soft song that mingles with the sound of twilite in Severus's ears. Her hair is tied back in a sagging ponytale and she wears a loose sweater and shorts and she looks the sight of an adult. Severus wonders if he has changed so much - he still feels bony and pale and his hair is still the same length it's always been. He feels as though he doesn't change the way other people do. Once he might have counted his constance a proud point but as he ages he feels unsure a person was meant for just one kind of life.
Hogwarts is behind them, now, and he knows that they will live vastly different lives. He doesn't suppose he will ever see her again after tonight. He hopes he doesn't. With an old familiarity Lily glances out of her window and sees him. Her face doesn't change - she doesn't even move, at first. And then, slowly, with hesitation, she slides the window open and sits down on the floor to look at him. Her hands hang loose on the carpet, treaded with it's own memories of stains from muddy, dirty shoes clamoring inside - one particular rainstorm and Severus blinded with water, but that was a lifetime ago.
He isn't sure if he should wave or say hello or .. he doesn't know why he is there.
Her eyes drift over him, standing in the dark, and she smiles softly imagining that small boy in his ragged coats and bright eyes and all of the summer nights she had dragged him inside to listen to music and read books beyond their years. She wonders if it was her fault. She had hoped ending their friendship would bring Severus back to her fully, in the way he had once been. That he would understand where she was coming from, finally. But he had stayed his course as unswaying as he had ever been. Maybe she couldn't fault him for being himself, maybe she had been the naive one.
Her eyes drift down to his right arm, covered by a long black coat sleeve, and they stay there steadily. Tears exist, but they do not come this time - they've come too many times before. She wonders if Severus can imagine how many nights James has had to hold her and tell her to be strong.
Severus shifts his weight at her knowing look, tugs the sleeve down further, consciously. Her eyes come back up to his face.
"I'm moving into The Orders house tomorrow, Sev." She says. The familiarity of the shortened name strikes her, seems odd finally. That was a name for another time. "Severus," she corrects.
He knows. The Order was a high watch factor among the Death Eaters. He had seen her name as a current applicant the week before.
"Tomorrow we are enemies, you and I." Her voice is far away, thinking of the things she knows about the pale boy standing in front of her. Of the hidden Dark Mark and what a wizard had to do to get the Mark from him. She might have felt pity but .. seeing Severus's name on the Orders list... something final had died, whatever she had spared to feel for him in the future. But that is what Severus had wanted, wasn't it? What could he have hated more than her tides of pity after their friendship had ended? He had wanted her to hate him if she wouldn't love him. He was always curious with his absolutes. But she had loved him. She had. In her own way.
The inside wall by the window has a large gouge in the sheetrock that Lily fingers reflectively. Pentunia had thrown one of Lily's porecelain figuerines at the two of them as they sat huddled under a blanket with cookies and a flashlight and told one another ghoststorries with the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling shining through. She had been so jealous of what Lily and Severus had had.
"I'll never be your enemy, Lily," he whispers.
She smiles. The war is coming. She wonders if she could revisit the past if she would hear it beating with Severus's heart.
When they had gotten to those lanky, awkward ages they couldn't be close enough. The hot stick of summer nights wrapped in close to one another, Severus's hands always touching her, his fingertips hesitant and respectful. She knows now he'd have never drugged her - had known it the second it had slipped out of her mouth that night. She regrets how naive her maturity had been in coming, how her pride had kept her from admitting it, and how stubborn Severus had been to forget it. She knows that some things were as much her fault as his. She knows she had ruined some trusts.
She knows, too, that it's time to say goodbye.
"Goodluck, out there, Sev." She uses the shorthand version for swollen bruises and dirty knees, for his fingers wound into hers during so many years of their lives. For all of the detentions he had served to sneak out of the dungeons and meet her when she needed him. For their secret languages (entire notebooks filled with words only the two of them would understand). For sweaty skin and book clubs and the Yuletide Ball that Lily had forced him to attend with her (and, really, he was a terrible dancer). Because they had loved one another the same, in the end, but it wasn't enough.
Severus stares at her without wavering.
The Dark Mark burns in his skin and he knows he is being summoned.
"If I could do it all again, differently.."
"Lily, honey, an owl just came from James!" her mother calls from somewhere deep in the house. Lily glances backwards.
Severus touches his wand against the mark and is gone when she turns back around.
Lily rests her head on the windowsill, picking at the peeling paint. The last colors of the sky travel: amber, rose, gold. The memory of them stretches out, somehow, until it is the country all around, vast and empty, echoes in courtyards and shadows on walls. Through the years it drifts, fading, fighting extinction, the two of them laughing together in the tangles of time. Important things reduced down to a few inky drops in a pensieve for others to figure out, and learn from, and reconcile.