"Lily! I am most disappointed in you!" Slughorn said upon seeing the odd concoction swirling inside Lily's cauldron.
"Professor, I am so sorry! I honestly don't know what's wrong with me," she said, frustration and embarrassment painting her cheeks a deep shade of magenta.
"This is not the first time it's happened, though. You were top of the class, Lily, and one of my favorite students. What has happened to you?" the professor demanded disappointedly as he laid a hand on her shoulder.
"Oh, I don't know! I kept studying hard, but it just doesn't…work anymore."
"Well, you will have to do better than that, if you want to pass your N.E.W.T. exams. If your potion making skills do not improve, then I'm afraid I will have no choice but to fail you."
Lily bowed her head in silence, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. As the rest of the class made their way towards dinner, she was left in the dungeons, her hands firmly gripped on the edge of her cauldron.
"Hey, Lily! Are you coming or what?" Potter asked as he stopped in the doorway.
"Uhm…you go ahead, I'll be with you in a second," she responded with a forced smile.
"Can't pay attention in class, Evans?" Severus asked mockingly as he gathered his belongings.
"Oh, shut up!"
"That's rude. I could help you, you know."
Her eyes lit up, and she raised her head to look at him.
"Yeah, sure. I'm not saying I'm going to do it, though. Simply stating that I could," he added laughing.
The light fell off her face, and her eyes narrowed in frustration.
"You are such a…"
"That's probably one of the worst ways to ask for help."
"I'm not asking for your help, you prat!” Lily snapped angrily.
"Suit yourself, Mudblood," he replied as he made his way towards the exit.
He turned to face her, a placid look on his face.
"I…I need you to help me. I'm going to fail Potions if you don't," she said in a strangled voice.
"What are you willing to give in return?" he asked, raising his eyebrow.
"Oh, just forget it! I'm sorry I asked!" she spat furiously.
"I was just kidding, Evans. I can tutor you if you want. For free," he added.
"Why?" she asked after a few moments.
"Are you trying to make me change my mind? Because if you are, you're on the right track."
"No, no, I'm sorry. Thanks," she said after a short silence.
As he made his way towards the exit, he stopped in the doorway and, without turning to face her, added:
"Let's just get one thing clear, though, Evans. This doesn't make us friends," he sneered.
She rolled her eyes, but gave him a small smile.
He remembered that day. Every single detail, every single word they'd exchanged. It was the sweetest mistake he'd ever made. But it was a mistake. He'd broken his vow – he'd allowed himself human contact and emotion, and the worst part of it all was that he'd allowed it with the most unlikely person. A Gryffindor, and a Mudblood.
Rumors spread around the school soon enough. Reaching his ears and making his stomach churn. Lily Evans had agreed to go out with James Potter. Hogwarts' sweethearts. He hated her for that. But even more, he hated to admit that they were perfect together.
He stood still, watching the cold walls of the dungeons and listening to the cheers and laughs erupting everywhere around the castle. People were saying their goodbyes – to their friends, to their classmates, to their teachers…to the school. To the home that had kept them safe for the past seven years. They were heading for a cruel world, where everything would change. And they were making the most of their last night here.
Yet, he had nothing and no one to say goodbye to. He was leaving nothing behind. There was just one thing this school had given him, other than pain and suffering – knowledge. And that was something he was taking with him. Severus wasn't ready to admit that there was in fact a person he would've liked to say goodbye to. But he didn't have to, because she came to him and knocked on the door.
She was wearing an apricot colored dress Potter had given her on her anniversary. Her neck and ears were adorned in silver, and in the dim light of the dungeons, her engagement ring shone unusually bright. By God, she was beautiful!
And she was marrying James Potter.
"Can I come in?" she asked in a sweet, pleasant voice.
"Can I say no?"
"You make it very difficult for people to be nice to you sometimes."
"I don't need politeness, Evans."
She closed the door behind her as she entered, and sat on a stool. Her eyes followed Severus as he skimmed through the pages of a book, looking particularly absorbed. Perhaps too absorbed.
"This is your last night here. Don't you want to make the most of it?" her silent question made his eyes stop their scrutiny.
"I could ask you the same thing. Shouldn't you be at the party, drinking Butterbeer and depicting stories with your awesome friends?" he asked, mockery obvious in the tone of his voice.
"Do you want me to go?"
'No, I don't,' the thought shot through his mind.
"I quite enjoyed the silence."
"You hesitated," she observed.
He sighed in annoyance, more at himself than her.
"What do you want, Lily?"
The girl gasped, and her green eyes widened. Seeing the smile blossoming on her face, he knew he'd made a terrible mistake. And it was too late to take it back.
"You called me Lily."
"I should've known better."
"Why do you always have to act so insufferable?" she asked, the smile now replaced by a frown. "This might be the last time you're ever going to see Hogwarts, and you're sitting alone in the dungeons."
He narrowed his eyes at her.
"Is that what you think of me? You think I need your pity or compassion?"
"I just wanted us to part on friendly terms."
He abandoned the book, throwing it on the nearby desk, and sat on the stool furthest from her. Lily shifted, and came closer to the edge of her own stool.
"We have never been, nor can we ever be friends. So if that's what you're here for, you can forget all about it, Evans," he spat.
"Friends are the most important possession one can achieve throughout life."
"Been listening to Potter's ramblings, have you?" he sneered. "I don't need friends."
"And who's going to save you when you fall?"
"I'm beyond saving," he said quietly.
Her green eyes searched his for something that could make her understand what he'd meant. But his secrets were safely locked in the darkness of his ebony eyes. Then again, perhaps he'd underestimated her, he thought as he saw her glance towards his left arm. She looked like she was trying to see beyond the black and emerald robe. And the disappointment in her eyes told him she'd understood.
"How did you know?" he asked in a small voice, avoiding her gaze.
"Sirius told me about them. His cousin has one," her voice shook.
"His brother does, too," he said, and couldn't keep his lips from curving into a slight smile.
Lily gasped in horror, and a hint of disgust darkened her eyes, which remained fixed on his arm. Disbelief was etched all over her features, mixed with an ardent desire to understand, to find a reason or an explanation. He couldn’t tell whether it was her piercing gaze or what was underneath that really burned his arm. Still, she seemed to think silence was the best choice.
"He'll kill all who oppose him,” Severus answered placidly to her silent question. “And he'll start with Muggle-borns and blood traitors,"
"There's nothing Dumbledore can do about it, don't you see?" he yelled, and her frail frame shook a little. "He'll have you murdered. All of you. And Dumbledore can do nothing to stop him," his voice trailed.
"And just what do you suggest?" she asked, anger raising in the volumes of her voice. "Join him and become a murderer?"
"If that's what it takes to survive, then yes. Power comes at a cost, Evans."
"Power?" she laughed ironically. "This isn't power! It's cowardice! Don't do this, Severus, please!"
Involuntarily, or maybe not, her delicate hand curled into a fist.
"What the hell do you care about my life, anyway? It's my decision, and it's final!"
Silence fell between them for a moment, and he took the time to glance upon her features. He noticed her flaming, luxurious red hair, falling in curves around her shoulders and framing her pretty face, her bright green eyes, filled with life and kindness, the apricot colored dress that outlined her wasp-waisted build and feminine figure, her rosy cheeks and the sweet scent of lilac that seemed to follow her everywhere. She was a beautiful angel, but much too young, or maybe too stubborn, to understand that some things are meant to happen.
"I don't want to face you on the battlefield," she whispered, pulling him out of his reverie. "I don't want to have to point my wand at you. I don't want to have to…"
She stopped, and silver pools erupted from her grass green eyes.
"Kill me?" he offered. "You'll do it when the time comes."
"I am not a murderer!" she cried, as her eyes rose to defy him again.
"You don't have a choice. If you don't kill me, I'll kill you."
"No," came her quiet whisper. "No. There must be some way we can all get along…"
"There is no other way. We belong in different worlds."
The look on her face made him want to break the contact their eyes had held. But breaking contact meant losing the battle. She forced him to look at her, holding his gaze so tight that hurt. She silently pleaded for him to look at her, to listen to her, to understand what she was saying. To understand that she did care.
"There's only one world, Severus."
He smiled sadly, and finally let his gaze wander away from her.
"A beautiful idea. Utopist and surreal, but beautiful. Once this night is over, once we step foot out of Hogwarts, there's no turning back. As of tomorrow, we are enemies."
He could feel her eyes burning into him. He could feel her mouth opening to argue, he could hear the nervous shifting of her dress. And when she spoke, her voice was shaky.
"Then we have nothing more to say to each other."
Lily disappeared through the door, without looking back. For a second, he foolishly thought she was coming back. For just one second, one small second spent in a stupid fantasy, where she was no longer engaged to James Potter, no longer a Gryffindor and a Mudblood. Just Lily. But in the end, he was grateful she hadn't come back. Some things were just meant to be, and it was beyond cynical for him, of all people, to deny that. This was, after all, meant to be their last goodbye.
A/N: Hello everyone! This is my second one-shot, and my first attempt at writing Snape. So, how did I do? Reviews would be much appreciated. I know this story needs improvement, especially in the description area, since they're very scarce. I will try and improve it over time, but for now, this is all I have. I tried really hard to come up with a good title, but this clichéd one was all I could find, sadly.
I'm used to writing dialogue with - (dashes) instead of "" (commas), but since everyone found it confusing, I decided to try and replace the dashes with commas. I'm not really sure if I've done it correctly, so if you spot any mistakes, please point them out.
I really hope you enjoyed reading the story, though, and please don't forget to leave a review, even if it's just a very short one.
Credit for that amazing banner goes to Violet. She is a brilliant artist.
Much love, CJ
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