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Chapter 17: Twilight
DISCLAIMER: I own that which J.K. does not.
I know this is ending sooner than one might have expected, but honestly, this is how I planned it. I think this is a rather important chapter though. I hope you like it!
And please do review, I would so appreciate it.
Title and Summary song:
“Twilight” by: Vanessa Carlton
I just didn't know that I might
Peel away and choose
To see with such a different sight.
We never dared addressed that night. We never spoke of either of our vulnerabilities, or how we both wanted something that could never be. He would never have Lily. And I would never have love.
I never wanted to fall in love with Snape, and I hadn’t. As damaged as I was from my relationship and betrayal with Julien, I could never see myself ever falling in love again. I didn’t trust anyone. I couldn’t.
The whole point with my offer to Severus was a contingency plan. In the event that either one of us needed someone in our lives, we always knew that we’d have the other one to take care of us. I could never actually foresee needing anyone, but it seemed that Snape had always been close to the level I was on. Neither of us lived behind any veil and we knew how people truly operated. To be honest, I liked having someone around who saw things sort of the way I did.
But maybe I was wrong. Maybe there were some residual feelings for Severus that weren’t just “kind of friendly”. Did I love him? I highly doubted so. But there was some sort of attraction there. Some kind of weird sexual tension in our arguments, our cynicism, our suffering. Although I couldn’t tolerate people who wallowed in self-pity twenty-four hours a day, there was something grotesquely romantic about the two of us. It was hideously perfect.
I know that I spent most of my time denying anything that countered my opinions. And it’s not as though Severus and I were “made” for each other. I wasn’t meant for anyone. That much had always been obvious to me, especially after my bout with Julien.
My confusion went unspoken. There was no one to talk to. So as graduation neared, I counted the days until I could get out of this hellhole and live with Lucida.
Through numerous letters, Lucida and I had decided that I would stay with her and her husband in Nice until I got on my own two feet. I was excited for the new kid, although I wasn’t really a “OMG a baby!” type of person, it was cool that the Black family was still branching out, and this time, it was going the right direction.
I think that both my sister and I were so excited was because we could give this baby everything that we didn’t have. Like love. This kid was going to have parents that loved him or her and an aunt that was going to absolutely dote on him/her. I know it sounded really mushy, but it was true. This kid was going to be loved, damnit.
“We’re leaving this place tomorrow.” Severus’ nonchalant comment broke the peace. We were in the courtyard at twilight, sitting on a bench and watching the world. We’d been there since early dusk, studying the sun as it slid beneath the curtain of trees which made up the Forbidden Forest. The sky had turned from a bright, dazzling blue to a rich dusty rose and then to the impending cobalt blue of the night. It was cliché and cheesy to say that I loved watching the sunset, but true nonetheless.
My favorite was counting the stars.
As Hogwarts was out in the middle of bleeding nowhere, the sky at nighttime was endless. Every star, every galaxy was on display to curious eyes. I hardly remembered any of the names, having slept through most of my years in Astronomy, but the basic ones I could point out. Quietly to myself, I would name them all under my breathe, as if afraid the stars would hear me.
The secrecy of the universe was what fascinated me most. I was insignificant. Merely a dust particle flying in a breath of wind. It wasn’t the alien nonsense and other planets that sparked my curiosity. It was just how small the world made me feel. For such a proud person, it was nearly impossible to deter my arrogance. But when I looked at the stars, I was humbled and thankful, knowing that I meant nothing.
“I’m aware.” I answered, my eyes searching the abyss of constellations in hope of finding a familiar face.
“You’re going to France.”
“And you’re joining Voldemort.”
I felt the silence as Severus’ discomfort simmered. Though I was turned from him, I knew his eyes were narrowed and his posture had become rigid.
“Yes.” He said through clenched teeth.
“Your lack of enthusiasm is promising.” I mused. My voice was soft, as it always was in the presence of stars. Inexplicably, I always thought I would disturb the stars in their slumber if I spoke too loudly.
“What does that mean?” He snapped. I was not picking a fight; my tone had been entirely calm and non-confrontational. Severus didn’t seem to catch my mood.
“If you were so excited about it you wouldn’t get so offended.”
“I’m not offended.” He countered, his voice still louder.
“And I don’t go about bragging because most people don’t exactly receive it well.”
I did not respond for a few moments. Of course I had something to say back, but did I really want to unravel this whole yarn again? It seemed wrong to prod Severus like this when this was our last night at Hogwarts. But I couldn’t help but hope that he’d see the stupidity in being a Death Eater. And so, I continued.
“If you’re worried about people not receiving it well then maybe you shouldn’t go through with it.” I replied simply, turning to him. The stone bench was uncomfortable beneath me, but I ignored it. Severus rested his forearms on his thighs, clasping his hands and staring down at the cobblestone. If I didn’t know better, he could have been praying.
“It’s what I want to do.” He said finally. I cocked my head to the side, trying to get a better look at his face. All I could see was a shadow the sliver of the crescent moon cast.
“I’m sorry.” I said quietly. Severus’ head quickly lifted up to look at me, as though he didn’t quite believe the words I said, “I’m sorry that you are still warring with that other half of you.”
“That’s not what this is about.” He retorted.
“That’s exactly what it is about.” I countered.
He promptly stood up and began to pace.
“Tell me, do your future comrades know that you’re half Muggle?” I inquired. Severus flinched at the fact; I was one of the few that knew of his bloodlines, and now he was resenting that.
“He has nothing to do with his.” Snape hissed, I shrugged.
“He’s your father. He’s got everything to do with this.” I stretched my legs on front of me, still sporting my nonchalant attitude. I think this only infuriated him more, “Does he know that you’re joining a band of evil wizards hell-bent on destroying his kind?”
“Well then, he’s ahead of the game, isn’t he?”
“WOULD YOU SHUT UP?!” He finally lost control and screamed in my face. I lowered my head, staring at the ground as he panted in rage.
“Shh...you’ll wake the stars...” I whispered, but the words were caught in Snape’s new-found fury.
“Why are you doing this?” I finally asked after a few moments, the serenity all lost from my tone. Now, I was fully earnest in my voice, letting Severus know that this was not what I wanted for him.
He was silent and I took that for his refusal to answer.
“This won’t make her love you.” I said. He turned, the moonlight showing the pain on his face.
“I know. I can’t make her love me. It is lost.”
“So this is your alternative? Killing that which you cannot understand?” My voice rose and my brow furrowed.
“What is there to understand?”
“They’re people too!” I stood up, finally finished with his bias. We stood, our chests nearly touching as I turned my face up to meet his, “This is murder. Killing Muggles because your father didn’t love you and killing Muggleborns because Lily doesn’t love you doesn’t justify it.”
My eyes bore into his, midnight blue into pitch black onyx. I refused to let this go. My breath was ragged from my shouting and it mixed with Severus’ own enraged panting. With each inhale my chest would lightly press against his and I could feel the hammering of his heart out of sync with mine. That’s how we were and were always going to be: out of sync.
No matter how stubborn we were, or cynical or offensive, Severus and I were two different people. The difference now became obvious; I was stronger than he was. I was able to resist the temptation of proving myself to everyone, that had been a barrier I’d jumped long ago. But now as we were head to head, I realized just how weak and powerless Severus really was. Unfortunately, I could not help him.
I calmed down, taking a step back from him. He still stood rigid, ready to defend whatever argument I could conjure. But I was finished, defeated. This was a battle that I could not win, though I knew I was right in trying to fight it. This was something he had to find out on his own and I resented the fact that it was such a perilous task.
“I’m sorry that you’ve been blinded by such a poisonous mistake.”
“It’s not your decision to make.” He replied stiffly, a muscle in his jaw twitching. I nodded, allowing him to bask in my defeat. I bowed my head, now feeling utterly helpless.
I looked up, searching his eyes as my own became glassy. I would not cry as it would do no good. Grabbing his hand, I clenched his tightly in a sign of friendship. If Severus had been confused by my actions, he showed no indication.
Standing on the tips of my toes, I brought my lips to the hollow of his ear, feeling him shudder at the warmth of my breath. I closed my eyes as two tears rolled down my cheeks, one of which falling onto Severus’ neck. I heard the gentle ‘shh’ of the twilight breeze and whispered to him,
“I can only hope that when the time comes, you will make the right decision.”
I pulled back, but kept close. I saw the desperation hidden behind the cold mask he always wore. Without thinking, I hovered nearer to him until our lips met for a few fleeting seconds.
We said nothing as the kiss ended. His eyes searched my face, trying to find reason in my actions and words, but I was blank. There was no hidden meaning, there were no tricks. The trails left by my tears had dried and there was nothing left to say.
I turned around and walked away, leaving Severus alone in the courtyard.
It was raining on my final departure from Hogwarts. In the morning, I woke up to an overcast sky, threatening rain all through breakfast. The Great Hall had been lively; younger students chattered happily about their summer plans, exchanging addresses for mail and visits while the seventh years either cried or boasted about what they were going to do with their lives. All the way from the other end of the Slytherin table, I could hear Julien de Pontius bragging to Marlow Starling and his other followers about how he was inheriting all of his money and was simply going to vacation in all eight of the mansions, beach houses and châteaus they owned for the rest of his life. I drowned his loud bragging out by faking a coughing attack and dropping some silverware on the floor.
To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to do for income. I certainly couldn’t live off of Lucida for the rest of my life and I was positive I would get nothing from my parents. I didn’t really care to be anything important; I heard kids all over discussing careers as Aurors, Healers and the like. Personally, I didn’t want that kind of responsibility. I was even considering taking on life as a Muggle completely. All I needed was a job, it didn’t matter whether they paid me in galleons or pounds, as long as it was legal tender.
By the time all of the students and crying seventh year girls had made it to the station for the Hogwarts Express, the sky had opened up and let fall a torrential downpour. Boys cursed the mud on their shoes while girls tearfully sobbed that the sky was “crying with them”. I thought it was a mess and wanted to get on the damn train as soon as possible.
As I seated myself in the last compartment in the caboose, next to the window of course, I studied the bleak picture of Hogwarts. It didn’t feel right, leaving the school that had, more or less, been my home for the last several years. Especially in such a state. I wasn’t really used to seeing the castle as a dark and foreboding beast in the background of a storm. Hogwarts had always been a secret haven for me, a hiding place that I could stay in for nine months to avoid being in the Black household. As much as I had always complained so about school, I felt a twinge of nostalgia as the train began to move, the castle an impenetrable sentinel in the background. I never even realized that I had at last left the beacon of security known as Hogwarts behind until it was long out of sight.
The compartment door entered but I didn’t even bother to acknowledge whoever was disturbing my internal struggle. There was really only one person it could be after all.
Severus took his usual seat across from me, beside the window. He didn’t say anything and I felt no need to break the silence. There was nothing else to be said.
As the train picked up speed and the rained splattered harder against the windows, blurring out the gray scenery, I finally allowed myself to gaze across the compartment at my companion. He was facing me, indicating that he had been staring at me the entire time, but looked as though he were going to remain mute.
I sighed, turning my eyes back to the passing images and uttered the words that I had secretly feared for so long,
“So this is goodbye.”