Chapter 3 : I Don't Know What I'd Be Without You
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At times, though, Snape’s explosive temper flared, usually while patrolling at night or while conversing with a fellow colleague. It fell to either Professor McGonagall or even Dumbledore himself to correct such situations provided that all limbs and appendages had not been changed or gone missing.
Lydia hadn’t been seen for awhile but one Wednesday morning, over breakfast, Snape happened to overhear snippets of conversation between McGonagall and Hagrid over the coming weekend’s events. Quidditch practice for Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, for they were playing the following weekend; some odds and ends concerning the grounds and Transfiguration necessities; and Lydia coming back for a weekend sojourn. Although he gave no indication that he heard the two, he decided, against his better judgement, to take Lucius’s advice and try to talk with her.
That night, he sat in his office with the engagement ring in his hands. Reasons for not working out their issues ran through his head competing with the reasons for why he should continue their relationship. He was deathly afraid to talk with her; Lucius had been correct in stating that she could give and take anyone’s temper since hers matched her father’s. But, he did love her and he also cared for her and respected her. Then again, he preferred his cold, unfeeling self to what he felt when he was with her. But is all that enough to end a relationship or to keep one going?
He remained preoccupied for the rest of the week. He didn’t take away points from Gryffindor on Thursday for Neville’s exploding cauldron nor when he found Ron Weasley and Harry Potter roaming around the castle that night without any teacher’s approval. He constantly paced his office as well as his classroom and chose to skip meals in order to contemplate his dilemma.
Friday came and Snape seemed to be in a near catatonic state. He entirely forgot to teach his Potions classes and instead allowed the classes to do whatever they pleased. While he sat at his classroom desk and stared at it, cauldrons went zipping by over his head and all sorts of debris were bewitched to explode or grow in size. At the end, he even dismissed any idea of assigning homework. No matter which house a student was in, all agreed that it had been an actually fun Potions class.
He joined the school for dinner and was surprised to find that Lydia had arrived at some point during the day. He sat as far from her as was possible, not wanting her to get too upset over him. She spent the entire time talking animatedly with Dumbledore, McGonagall, and at times, Hagrid; probably over what she had been doing for the past few weeks. She acknowledged his presence with swift glances in his direction but never held his gaze for very long. Quietly he ate, rehearsing to himself what he wanted to tell her. It was to no one’s surprise that he was the first professor to leave the Great Hall after dinner was finished.
That night, he fussed with his clothes and hair in front of his bedroom mirror for a few minutes before grabbing the ring and placing it in his pocket. He then left the dungeons and proceeded towards Lydia’s assigned bedroom. He walked by rote, his mind still working around his problem. Passing the Prefect’s bathroom he caught the sound of someone humming inside. Gritting his teeth and stopping, he thought, Why must Miss Granger be like Potter and Weasley!? He moved his wand from his pocket to his hand before placing his other hand on the door. Whispering, “Pine fresh,” he pushed the door open.
Slinking inside, he hid himself in the shadows, watching as a young woman with white alabaster skin tested the temperature of the water in the gigantic bathtub. She seemed to deem it satisfactory because she took her clothes off and nicely folded them, leaving them on one of the benches that lined the room. Sitting on the bathtub’s sill, she began to take out the barrettes holding her midnight-black curls up in a tight ponytail-bun. Once that was finished, and keeping her back to him, she slid into the warm water.
To his surprise and anxiety, the woman was Lydia. He remained watching as she swam to the other side of the tub and turned around. He bit back a gasp; her shoulders were covered in bruises, a fading, gruesome burn ran down the side of her face and a nasty cut sliced down her neck. What caught his attention even more were her eyes, they were red-rimmed from crying and even now, she raised a hand to wipe away a tear. She leaned her head back to cradle it against the side of the tub and sighed.
Gathering his strength, he approached the side of the tub and sat on it. Quietly, he uttered, “Lydia?”
Immediately her head came up and she glared at him. “What do you want?” she snarled.
He felt his temper beginning to rise. He growled back, “Nothing,” producing a stalemate of glaring before Lydia started facetiously taunting him, “Are you here to condemn me for now sleeping with Lucius? Or, heaven forbid, Hagrid?” She turned her back to him again and concluded, “I mean, I know your reason has left you, so why else would you be here?”
She was baiting him; a Riddle trait that she could use better than even her father. Clenching his hands into fists, he struggled to remain calm. It seemed that if she wasn’t going to be any help to this apologizing session, then he would have to do it by himself. He hated the idea of that since he never felt comfortable having to do something himself. But since I started this, I guess it’s up to me to make things right, if I want them to be right. Taking a deep breath, he said in a calm but shaky voice, “No, I’m here to apologize.”
Lydia’s eyes widened. Normally her insulting response would have had Snape screaming at her and stamping out of the bathroom. But, this unnatural tactic of his unnerved her and she closed her mouth against the insult that had been on her lips a moment before. Instead she gazed up at him, a puzzled expression coming to her face.
Snape continued, “Lydia…I…” it was hard for him to continue, seeing how he normally was not like this. He could feel his anger rising and the headache he was causing himself trying to keep it down wasn’t helping things. He tried again, “I…jumped to conclusions about that whole thing.”
She raised one eyebrow. “Jumped?!” A snort of laughter ensued, “More like turbo-charged yourself there,” she sarcastically added.
He gritted his teeth. He wanted nothing more than to grab her and shake her, all while yelling anything and everything at her. A little more heat entered his statement that he said next, “Well…you didn’t help either.”
Cocking her head to one side, Lydia pursed her lips and quietly acquiesced, “You’re right, Severus. Nor did I help much later on. But neither did you.” She sniffed and his eyes, which had been focusing only on the water in front of him, swiveled around to meet with hers.
Something within him loosened and he closed his eyes as a rampant of words escaped him. “Lydia, I’m sorry! I don’t know what else you want! I couldn’t stand having you gone; don’t you realize that!? Believing I’d never see you again or have you in my arms; I need you…I…I.” The torrent of words spent, he sat in silence not daring to open his eyes.
No sound came from Lydia. Snape took that as reason enough that she did not want him back and stood up to go. He was halfway to the door before he heard a small, tear-strained voice call to him, “Severus.”
Looking back, he saw Lydia sitting on the edge of the tub, tears streaming down her face. His stomach leapt into his throat; she was so beautiful but blurry. With a start he realized that his eyes had filled with tears. Scared he turned away from her and continued to move towards the door.
“Severus, please.” He stopped. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have become so defensive. Severus, please turn around, please.” He didn’t, instead he looked steadfastly at the door. Silence stretched on before she broke it with the soft uttering of, “I love you Severus.” He heard her begin to quietly sob.
I love you, she had said it. He let the words wash over him. Before he even knew what happened, he had covered the distance between himself and Lydia. Not caring that his clothes became wet, he took her in his arms. Lifting her newly tear-stained face to his, he brought his lips to hers. Deeply kissing him, she wrapped her arms around his neck while he wrapped his around her body, molding themselves to each other to hold their kiss longer. He reluctantly broke them apart but was immediately seized into another kiss. Within that kiss, he knew that all was forgiven.
Breaking apart, Lydia sniffed and looked at him playfully, “Now Severus, take those clothes off and join me. This should be a fun night.”
Snape nuzzled her neck and lightly bit his way up to her ear. “Well, there is one more thing I need to ask you,” he seductively whispered.
“Oh, what is it?”
Standing straight, he reached into his pocket and brought out a box. Going down on one knee, he opened it. The diamond ring twinkled in the low lighting of the bathroom. “I ask again; Lydia Riddle, will you marry me?”
“Well, now let’s see about this. First…” she toyed with him. Kneeling in front of him, she replied, “My answer hasn’t changed from the last time you asked.”
Slipping the ring back onto her finger, he took her into his arms and kissed her long and hard, bringing them both to the floor.
“Now, now Severus; the water is still warm and I came in here to take a bath.” Tugging on his clothes, she added, “Now take off those clothes and let me show you how much fun water can be.”