Chapter 1 : Contrition
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It was not raining, not yet, but it seemed as if nature too were holding back, waiting for the crowd to disperse before the dark clouds hovering overhead could unleash their tears. He stood at the periphery of the graveyard, straight and tall. Never before had the graveyard of Godric’s Hollow been so full, and never again would it be. It was said that the people who’d gathered at the graveyard on that leaden November day were united in their grief, but nobody could possibly know that his grief was the most profound.
Gauging by the mere number of people thronging the place, one could’ve surmised that they had come from every part of the country, some to express their grief, some out of sheer curiosity to see the place where Lord Voldemort had mysteriously vanished, and some were there simply because their presence there was mandated.
Minister for Magic Millicent Bagnold was present there, and so were Junior Minister Cornelius Fudge, Ministry bigwigs Barty Crouch, Amelia Bones, Dolores Umbridge, Mad-Eye Moody, Frank and Alice Longbottom, Hogwarts staff and Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. He also noticed that his old friend Lucius along with wife Narcissa were also present – both looking sombre (undoubtedly, the first of the many acts that’d eventually lead to their being exonerated by the Wizengamot), and so were Andromeda Black and her Muggle-Born husband whose name escaped him (and here, he vaguely registered the fact that Narcissa and Andromeda had given each other a wide berth). Remus Lupin, of course, and lastly the unmistakable colossal figure of Rubeus Hagrid, sobbing noisily into his gargantuan handkerchief.
His eyes might’ve settled on each of these figures at some point of time in the previous hour. He saw them, yet not seeing them. He could read the expressions on their faces, yet his mind couldn’t process anything. It was almost as if his mind were divorced from the reality of the present.
To any person in the graveyard, the sight of the tall figure silhouetted in the shadows would’ve been nothing out of the ordinary. On closer inspection, they might’ve been able to see the impassive, sallow face, the straight line of his mouth, the enormous hooked nose that dominated his face and his detached black eyes devoid of tears.
Tears, he felt, were not appropriate. Tears, he’d always believed, were a sign of weakness. He’d seen them as often as not on his mother’s face. His mother Eileen – a powerful witch who’d been many a time reduced to a piteous snivelling lump by his despicable Muggle father. Tears had been one of his but two childhood companions, the less favoured one. How ironic would it be were he to resort to very same tears to give expression to his grief for the loss of his childhood friend, a grief so overwhelming it’d rendered him an empty shell insensate to any feeling but bitterness and remorse.
She’d been his only friend, a friend who’d once loved him expecting nothing else in return. She’d been only bright spot in the bleak horizon of his childhood. She’d introduced him to kindness and friendship and love and innocence. She’d shown him a world where there was only compassion. Her company had been his refuge, the only silver lining. Being with her had been his panacea and going back home after spending time with her had been torture, as though he were opening the door to welcome a cold draught. But now –
Now ... with her gone while he lived ... That he should live, not knowing for how many torturous years, not being able to see her, to speak with her ...
The thought was unbearable to him. He closed his eyes with a deliberate, stressed movement, the pressure within his eyelids helping him to get himself together, if only for a few moments. A biting wind picked up, slashing at the naked skin on his hands, whipping greasy strands of straggly hair off his face. People around him pulled their cloaks more snugly around themselves. He stood still like a man presenting himself for flagellation. The chill was nothing compared to the chill that was knifing at every fibre of his being – a chill that’d nothing to do with the weather.
He wished he were dead. If he were dead, if he’d died in order to protect her, maybe then she’d have forgiven him. Maybe then she’d have been here, at his funeral, maybe she’d have mourned his death. He would’ve been the beneficiary of her tears and her grief.
She’d saved him from the horrors of his life, she’d showed him that there was another way of living, had showed him that there was another world, where pain didn’t exist, a world where people didn’t suffer because they didn’t believe in suffering. That was the world he’d wanted to create for her... Only she’d never given him the chance.
For the most part of the first eleven years of his existence, he’d been a helpless spectator of abuse. He’d seen his mother being beaten up by his alcoholic father. He’d been beaten up several times himself. Had it been wrong, then, that he’d desired for a life where he’d seen himself powerful? He’d not wanted to be weak, he’d not wanted to in the same position as his mother. He’d wanted to be strong, wanted to harness his talent – talent, his sole inheritance – so that no one could tread all over him, so that that no one could threaten his peace. Perhaps that was why he’d been so terribly drawn towards power. Was that wrong?
Not that it mattered now.
‘Anyone who knew Lily would know how incredibly courageous she was…’ he heard Alice Longbottom say.
The fools didn’t know what they were talking about! Words would not suffice. How could they utter a few hackneyed words in tribute to her? Words like ‘loyal’, ‘courageous’ etcetera didn’t do justice to her memory. In fact, to him, those words sounded trite and banal. He couldn’t bear to hear those words. He wanted to escape, wanted to get far, far away from the excruciating place.
But where could he escape to? Whenever he’d wanted to escape his parents’ pitiable excuse of a house of squalor and poverty and discontentment, he’d sought her company. But now she was rotting flesh and bones, encased in a wooden coffin and stashed away into the earth.
‘She was Muggle Born, so it is but obvious she’d faced pockets of prejudice. But Lily never let that bog her down...’ Mary MacDonald was now saying.
And would her Muggle world, or the wizarding world she’d chosen to be a part of, have ever allowed him to create that life for himself? Would her world have ever accepted him? How could he be blamed for despising the Muggle world when all it’d given him were pain and misery?
He could’ve never been a part of her world – magical or Muggle. Her Muggle sister had seen him the same way everyone else had, her parents had disapproved of her being friends with him. (He didn’t blame them.) And her magical world... It’d been the same old story. She’d known what Potter and Black thought about him, she’d known that in their eyes, he was lowlier than earthen scum. She’d always known how much they loathed him for merely existing. She’d known how much all her friends had loathed him, how they could never understand why someone as intelligent, charming and good natured as Lily could ever be friends with an oddball like him. Had it been wrong then, to ally himself with the only people who’d accepted him? Had it been wrong to be friends with the only people who’d been willing to be friends with him, the only people who’d ever acknowledged him as their equal? She’d said Potter didn’t use Dark Magic. All very well for Potter, but why hadn’t she understood that Potter had never been the victim, that Potter had never had to bear witness to abuse, to helplessness, to weakness?
A flash of lightning illuminated the sky which had darkened to soot, enswathing the world in colours of slate grey and ash. It still was not raining, as if the ether too scorned the run-off-the-mill words that were being spouted, this time by Cornelius Fudge.
‘The Ministry of Magic salutes the spirit and courage of James and Lily Potter who fought valiantly against terrible power and laid down their lives to protect...’
Power... The thing he’d craved for once, as much as he’d craved for her comradeship. As a child, he’d been dismayed, frustrated and restless to leave, to escape the Muggle world that’d to him stood only for suffering and weakness. There had been times when he’d wanted to run away from home. He’d hated his life, had resented that his mother was so lily-livered, had despised his abusive, layabout father, and furthermore, had hated his own helplessness. He’d not wanted to be so weak again. At school, he’d wanted to be powerful and respected, only to realise that the magical world was in many ways no better than the Muggle world. The same taunts, the same insults, the same nightmare revisited once again. He should have learnt his lesson then that the very fabric of the wizarding society was the same as that of its Muggle counterpart, that wizards were no better than Muggles, and that at the end of the day, wizards were only human and thus not quite insusceptible to human frailties. But he’d been too young, he’d not understood.
He’d, however, taken comfort in the fact that she was his friend and that she’d stand by him, and that’d been enough for him. What had it mattered that the stupid school students hadn’t like him, what had it mattered that hadn’t been popular, what had it mattered that girls hadn’t been prone at his feet? School, he’d believed, would be over in seven years, and then the pranks and good looks wouldn’t help. What would help was power. Yes, he’d believed that power was his for the taking. He had to make sure that nobody could harm the world he’d envisaged creating for him, for them...
Another streak of lightning, this time accompanied by a clap of thunder, the incandescence throwing into clear relief the gaunt planes and crooked nose of Albus Dumbledore’s face. Dumbledore had refused to speak, staring that ‘no words of eulogy’ would ‘be adequate’ to honour the sacrifice made by ‘two brave, brave people.’
Potter had, of course, chosen to fight on Dumbledore’s side. Dumbledore had always favoured Potter: Dumbledore had made Potter Head Boy in their seventh year, a decision which had raised quite a few eyebrows. James Potter had been the school bully, an arrogant show-off who’d strut about hexing anyone who annoyed him, and yet he’d got to be the Head Boy. Dumbledore had always sided with Potter and his friends. Dumbledore had even asked him, Severus, to keep his mouth shut about the werewolf, and Dumbledore had not punished Black for playing the horrible trick which had almost got him killed. Perhaps he should’ve died then, when she’d still been his friend. She would’ve at least shed a few tears for him.
‘I’ve known James for years. We were family friends. James was, as we all know, very funny, helpful, righteous, and one of the bravest persons I’ve ever known...’ Frank Longbottom was heard saying.
Even in death, Potter was hailed as a hero! What right did Potter have to ‘play the hero’ when all their years at Hogwarts, Potter had tormented him, had driven him to the lowest ebb of his confidence, had made him feel as though he’d never be accepted in the wizarding world, had made him experience an alienation so acute he’d made all the wrong choices to belong somewhere? Did Potter think that by openly opposing the Dark Lord, he could protect Lily? Potter had to show off as always, by being the leader, the hero, Dumbledore’s pet who wore his heart on his sleeve.
‘Together, they thrice foiled the attempts of the Death Eaters…’ Hestia Jones said.
He felt as though an invisible hand had clawed at his heart, the tentacles of guilt snaking around him, incarcerating him inside the four walls of bitterness, hatred, remorse and grief. Thrice foiled… thrice defied… If only he hadn’t relayed the prophecy to the Dark Lord, if only he’d bothered to find out whom the prophecy referred to, then she wouldn’t be dead and he wouldn’t have to be a prisoner of his own memories.
He'd been too young, too much blinded by lust for power. Why he’d decided to become a Death Eater: because it’d given him a sense of importance, a sense of belonging. He’d seen the respect the elite group of the Dark Lord's followers commanded. He remembered, as if it were only yesterday, the numerous conversations he’d had with his fellow Slytherin students in the Common Room. Nothing much had been known about the Dark Lord’s past, but they had known that the Dark Lord hailed from a humble background. Severus, like most other Slytherins, had idolised the Dark Lord: a man who, armed with little else but his talent and vision, had opposed the mighty Muggle loving Ministry, a man who’d stood by his convictions and had fought for it. Routinely, the Slytherin Common Room would hear about the magnificent and unprecedented feats the Dark Lord could accomplish. He’d also believed that fear engendered respect, and by joining up the Death Eaters, he’d thought that he’d finally get his due, that he’d be recognised as an able wizard – recognition Dumbledore had never given him. He’d thought that he’d be getting what he truly and rightfully deserved: basic respect. He’d be treated as a human and not like vermin. He’d not be insulted or humiliated. Never again had he wanted to be humiliated – humiliation had cost him a friendship too precious – and for that, he had to make himself strong. Humiliation was what had led him to lose her friendship, humiliation was what had goaded him to say that one word that’d led to the severance of a friendship he so cherished,humiliation had obliterated every ounce of sense and had caused him to call her something he’d spend the rest of his life regretting. His unpopularity, the unfairness of life, of ignorant people who’d laughed at him... He’d wanted to punish them all.
He couldn’t lie to himself. There’d also been a rationale. His choices hadn’t been made for childish reasons. He’d deemed it prudent to ally himself with the Dark Lord; the Dark Lord had been taking over everywhere. The Dark Lord had valued ability, brilliance and talent; all of which, he, Severus, had possessed in abundance. She’d asked him: You can’t wait to join You-Know-Who, can you?¹ She’d been right. He couldn’t wait. The Dark Lord had offered him everything he’d desired for, everything Dumbledore had never given him – power, respect ...
He’d also wanted her. He’d tried to apologise to her, he’d been willing to do anything to atone for one slip of the tongue, but she wouldn’t listen. All of his attempts had been ineffective, but he’d still clung to a tenuous shard of false hope, hoping against hope that, maybe, some day she might forgive him. He’d not regretted his choice, for he’d believed that he was doing the smart thing. But today, as he stood at her funeral, not hearing a word of her memorial service, the overwhelming truth crashed upon him: that he’d never be able to seek her forgiveness again, that he’d never be able to tell her how very sorry he was, that she’d never know that he’d changed, that he’d tried to protect her, that even now, he loved her, loved her more than he’d loved anything or anyone else; he’d loved her and only her, and it would remain so always.
‘Two of the bravest persons I’ve ever known,’ Emmeline Vance said.
He remembered his last day at Hogwarts, when he’d last seen her, when he’d last spoken to her...
It was the last day of school, a perfect summer day. The sky, awash in hues of orange, red and yellow, inundated the castle courtyard with its aureate glow. He was standing in the courtyard, where they had always met when they still been friends, where he’d suggested they meet one last time. He’d not spoken to her after the incident at the entrance of the Gryffindor Tower two years ago. She would not even meet his eyes in the corridors or at the Great Hall or in classes. What he’d said was irrevocable! No amount of words could undo the damage that one word had caused.
He knew they would be going different ways from the next day, that they would perhaps never meet each other, and if in case they did, it would be as enemies.
When she arrived their eyes met briefly, and then she asked coldly, without preamble, ‘Joined-up with the Death Eaters, then? Have you already met Voldemort? What’s the matter, Severus – ’ for he’d flinched at the name, ‘ – afraid to hear your master’s name? So tell me, what’s he like, in person? Really as scary looking as people reckon he is?’
‘You must not say his name!’ he said softly, looking down at her face.To any other man (barring maybe James Potter), Lily Evans would not have looked breathtakingly beautiful, but to Severus, she looked flawless. Then he said, more loudly and somewhat petulantly, ‘You... you never used to say that name before.’
‘James calls him Voldemort. He doesn’t like it when I call him You-Know-Who.’
A glacial column of ice wormed its way from his chest to the pit of his stomach. Barely able to keep his voice devoid of venom, he said, ‘Potter is an arrogant fool who – ’
‘Don’t you dare,’ she snapped, her soft features contorted in annoyance, ‘don’t you dare say anything about James!’
It seemed as though a knife had been twisted in his solar plexus. ‘By hollering his plans and ideas from rooftops, Potter’s only jeopardising – ’
‘Like you care what happens to James!’ she snorted, thin lips raised in a mirthless smile, as she turned away from him.
‘I don’t care a damn about him! It’s you, Lily. It’s you who I’m worried about! Potter is an incapable idiot and by trusting him, I believe you are making the biggest mistake of your life.’
‘Mistake?’ she snapped, turning round to face him. ‘The biggest mistake I’ve made is that it took me so long to understand how wonderful James truly is!’
‘Wonderful?’ he asked in a low voice, taking a step back in horror. ‘I suppose this is the same James Potter we’re talking about who used to hex people just for a laugh and who – ’
‘He’s changed,’ she said fiercely, her starling green eyes alight with fervour. ‘He’s changed, I’ve changed; we all have changed in the last two years, Severus! Only that he’s changed for the better, and you’ve changed for the worse. The kind of people you consort with these days! I know it for a fact that you, along with Rosier and Wilkes, met up with Lucius Malfoy last weekend at The Hog’s Head. Lucius Malfoy, Sev? He led the attack against the Muggles in that Muggle village which killed more than thirty people. And don’t you deny it! You know it’s true.’
‘And what about Potter?’ he retorted, knowing fully well that it was an apology of a rejoinder. ‘The lot he consorts with! Werewolves and – ’
‘What James has done for Remus is wonderful,’ Lily broke in. ‘I sometimes crib about the discrimination I face, but I can’t begin to imagine what Remus would have gone through! James has protected Remus, accepted him, guarded his secret, helped him. And what did you do for me? Called me a Mudblood in front of the whole school! You didn’t want to be seen with me by your friends, you pretended that you were friends with me only because you felt sorry for me. That’s what you told your friends, didn’t you? God, how could I have gone so wrong in my judgement?’
She looked away again, in an attempt to hide the pain and despair that were writ large on her face. He stood facing her, not knowing what to say. It was true he’d told his friends that, but he’d lied to them. He could not tell them what she truly meant to him. His friends loathed all Muggle Borns and Lily was no exception. He’d not found the courage then, to tell them that she was his closest friend, and that he cherished her friendship more than he cherished theirs. And now he was left with only contempt for himself.
‘Sometimes I miss you, Sev,’ she said suddenly in a constricted voice, her eyes fixed on some faraway spot. ‘I miss you so much. The Severus I see now is not the boy whom I cared about, whom I loved dearly as a friend. You’re so blinded by your delusions and your fantasies that you don’t understand reality. You want respect and recognition and power, don’t you? But being respected and being feared are two different things, and you don’t understand that.’
He looked away, for those words were agonising, for he felt as helpless as she. No, it was she who didn’t understand! She didn’t understand that nothing, absolutely nothing, could be gained by opposing the Dark Lord. It was only a matter of time before he took over the Ministry, Gringotts, The Daily Prophet ...
Her voice had been so soft it almost sounded like a plea to him. He turned about and faced her and his breath was caught in his throat. She must have taken a couple of steps towards him when he’d not been looking for she was very close to him now, too close. He could see the specks of brown and black in her brilliant green eyes, her hair exactly the colour of the crepuscular sky, the sparsely scattered freckles on her pert nose, the soft, thin lips... she’d never looked more beautiful to him.
‘Sev,’ she said, taking a deep breath, her green eyes boring into his black ones searchingly. ‘The next time we meet, if we meet as enemies – ’ and she broke off here, looking away, not able to bring herself to ask him what she’d in mind. She took another breath, and he could see the effort it’d taken her to look into his eyes again. She continued, ‘The next time we meet... Would you, barbarically and without any pity, just as how you would’ve killed loads of other people before that... would you kill me the same way too?’
It was the tormented cry of a desperate man, a cry full of anguish. It was a cry of denial, a cry of terror. Inadvertently, his hands had clasped her frail shoulders in a vice-like grip, as if merely holding her would chain her to him, would prevent her from walking away from him.
‘Sev,’ she implored, prising his hands off her shoulder, taking them into her own and grasping them tightly, as though by holding his hands she could rescue him from the chasm of darkness he’d descended into. Her lachrymose eyes fixed on his, she pleaded, her voice a mere whisper, ‘It’s never too late! Give it up, Sev! It’s not worth it. Don’t do it, please don’t!’
He clenched her hands more firmly, impervious to the pain in his fingers caused by something hard. As he looked at her now, he felt he could give up anything, everything for her. She was all he needed, and nothing else. And here she was begging him, telling him it wasn’t worth it. She was right, it wasn’t worth it. The tears she was dangerously close to shedding weren’t worth it. She should not be crying! She was always so strong, so brave. He could not stand to see tears in her eyes... Wrenching his eyes from hers, he looked down at their interlocked hands: her small, pale hands encased in his sallow ones, a refulgent diamond ring adorning her ring finger...
A paroxysm of horror and denial surged through him. It was as if his blood, his innards, his everything had frozen into ice. He stared at that ring, not quite believing what he was seeing. It couldn’t be true... it couldn’t!
He was convincing himself that his eyes were not functioning properly. He closed his eyes, surely believing that what he’d seen was some trick of the light, that when he would open his eyes again, he would only see her naked fingers, fingers sporting no eyesore. But the sight remained unchanged when he opened his eyes, and he grappled with the sight his eyes were presenting him with. It cannot be true, he repeated to himself again and again. Lily... his Lily could not be... He could not even imagine it! No, it could not be true.
It is true, the logical, rational part of his mind informed him. She’d been going out with Potter for months now. She would not hear one word against Potter. She’d defended Potter to him merely minutes ago. He’d seen them himself in the corridors, holding hands. He’d seen them at the Gryffindor table, where they ate together. He’d seen her laughing like a child with gay abandon at Potter’s jokes. He’d seen them together in Hogsmeade. He’d seen them together by the lake, in deserted corners of the school grounds. It was true!
It isn’t over yet, he told himself, grasping at straws of delusion. He looked up at her again. A rivulet of tears had slithered down her cheeks. Her upper lip was pressed tightly against her lower one in an effort not to cry. ‘Lily,’ he moaned. Tears were pricking at his eyes too, and he’d to blink several times to keep the tears at bay. ‘Lily,’ he said again, urgently, ‘it’s not too late. Leave him, Lily.’ He was repeating her words to her almost verbatim. 'Don’t do it, please don’t!’
Tears were now freely falling from her eyes, splattering their interwoven fingers with briny droplets. ‘I c-can’t!’ she said, shaking her head and choking on her words, ‘I love him, Severus!’
It was the last memory he’d of her. No sooner had she said those words than he’d relinquished his grip on her hands. Bitterness and hatred had seized him and had wrenched him away from her. The one shining moment when he’d seen things in the rational context had vanished, leaving him to feel embittered and cheated then, and now numb, remorseful and full of hatred for himself...
He must’ve been occupied with his past memories for quite a while, because when he opened his eyes, he realised that he was the only one in the graveyard. Everyone else had left. Finally the moment. It still was not raining though.
Silently, almost ghost-like, he glided forwards, and he’d barely taken a couple of steps when he stopped in his tracks.
He’d been wrong in thinking that he was the only person in the graveyard. In the diminishing light, he could see the silhouette of a figure moving slowly towards the grave of Lily and James Potter. It’d grown so dark that he could barely see the shape let alone recognise who the person was. By the looks of it, it was a man. Who could it be?
He cast a Disillusionment Charm upon himself, blending inconspicuously into the background. He was about thirty yards away when he realised who it was: it was Remus Lupin and he was alone. How unusual to find Remus Lupin alone! At school he’d always been seen with his little group of friends.
Anger and hatred bubbled inside him at the sight of the solitary figure of Lupin. The urge to curse Lupin to smithereens was overwhelming. Two of Lupin’s friends – Potter and Pettigrew – dead and one in Azkaban for betraying his closest friend, for betraying her! Surely, Potter’s decision to make Black his Secret Keeper. Severus had no difficulty in believing that Potter, in his arrogance and in his blind faith in his worthless friends, would’ve made Black the Secret Keeper. This was the fate of the self-christened Marauders, the dratted heroes. Their friendship had been legendary at school, and now, scattered to the four winds.
He gripped his wand tightly to get a grip on himself. How stupid, how naive could she have been, to be fooled by Potter’s outward show of valour and gallantry! It is as much Potter’s fault as much it is mine that you are dead. And for that, I will never forgive him, just as how I will never forgive myself.
He stood there, unseen by Lupin, as he watched Lupin stop at foot of the grave. Lupin stood looking at the headstone, and from the distance, he couldn’t make out whether Lupin was crying or not. After a few minutes, Lupin waved his wand conjuring a wreath out of thin air and laid it atop the heap of flowers many others had brought. And then, with one last look at the grave Lupin turned back and made his way slowly towards the kissing-gate, his hands stowed in his pockets, his head bent low.
It was not until he was entirely sure that Lupin had left the church that he stepped out of the shadows. A gust of nippy air greeted him, the tall birch trees lined at the edge of the graveyard protesting miserably against the gelid caress of the wind, the eerie rustling of the leaves of the trees audible even over the howl of the wind. He pressed ahead, almost wraith-like, the hem of his robe grazing the ground, his feet carrying him towards his destination: a rectangle of freshly dug earth sheathed in layers ruddy soil.
Thunder growled and as the tenebrous clouds snapped, the first drop of rain fell upon the soil. The ferocious wind had scattered the flowers that’d lain on the grave asunder. Within minutes, rain was plummeting down in torrents, spattering his robes with speckles of damp mud, the aroma of wet earth filling his nostrils. When he reached the grave, he looked at the marble headstone. By the looks of it she and Potter must have been buried together, for the headstone bore two names. He was grateful it was raining, because the left side of the headstone was splattered with mud. All that was visible was her name, along with her birth and death dates.
And suddenly, it struck him with insupportable, agonising absoluteness – the truth that Lily Evans was dead, that he’d never see her again, that she’d exist only in his memories from now onwards, that he’d have to live with his regret and remorse all his life.
His knees buckled and he sank to the ground, his fingers digging into the soil, the colour of which reminded him terrifically of her hair. She lay there, under that carpet of burgundy soil, having laid down her life to protect her son. Tears were splashing down on the grave along with the rain, as both man and the heavens cried, mourning the loss of a woman who was good and kind and generous, saluting her indomitable spirit and sacrifice, a sacrifice which, he’d ensure, would not be in vain. It was his promise to her.
Dec 8, 2008: 1 Quoted from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, UK edition, chapter 33 (The Prince’s Tale), page 542. I am not entirely sure whether I have done justice to Snape or not, but this is the closest I will ever get to writing anything about Snape. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you liked it :)
May 17, 2010: My first ever fic on the archive. I'm not proud of it at all, loathe it, as a matter of fact. It's soppy and just horrible. Thankfully, I don't write this way anymore. Thanks again for reading this. :)