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Chapter 1 : A Moment In Time
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Fasten seat belt. Place key in ignition and turn. After placing foot on brake, shift from Park to Drive. No, not the gas, the brake. Gently ease up and lightly press down on the gas. Dealing with cars was usually like this – just run through the routine in your head and no one gets hurt. But seriously? Muggles could come up with something less complicated and dangerous for transportation.
Growing up with a Muggle for a father had its benefits, however hard I may try to suppress the memories. The bloody fool gave me his name, and that was more than enough to be getting on with. Around people who didn't already know me, I rather liked to don my mother's name, which made me feel less like a Muggle. Perhaps having a Muggle for a mother wouldn't have been so bad, I'd at least have had a respectable wizard's name to my person – but no, my mother had to go and marry the first bloke she crossed paths with. An accountant. A stupid, angry, poor, good-for-nothing dunderhead.
I like to look at the bright side, however. At least I have a better time getting on with cars. I've had to deal with Muggles my whole life. The drunk who lived on the family room couch was actually stuck up enough to think that he was better than me, and therefore found it in him to force me to blend in with his society. He was actually embarrassed of me. Of what I am. It was purely out of the goodness of my heart that he wasn't murdered in his sleep. One word and the Death Eaters would move in for the kill, that's all it took. I could probably just snap my fingers and somebody would pop up at my side ready to kill someone for me. Anyone who looked at one of us cross eyed... Well let's just say you don't want to go looking at a Death Eater, whatever your intentions may be. But I find it more satisfying to simply not mention Tobias Snape. He doesn't deserve my hatred. He doesn't deserve anything at all.
As I sat at the Muggle stop light, I watched the sun sinking on the horizon. It was a blinding, vivid orange. I could have put the shade down, but a part of me was fascinated by its beauty. It held a certain allure that kept me transfixed; its spell was both great and haunting. Everything around me was a haze when I looked at the sun, just a blur in the peripherals.
A honk from the car behind me brought me out of my reverie. Ordinarily I may have found myself losing my temper at the stupid, impatient Muggle, but somehow I was just too tired to react at all. I simply drove on. The Dark Lord could have forced me to dance across the street in my under pants; I would do it without complaint, because I was simply too worn down and exhausted to care for anything. Dignity didn't matter. My happiness didn't matter. Nothing mattered. As I see it, in the long run, what difference does it make if one little person in the midst of billions doesn't find happiness? No one cares. That's why I don't.
I knew the turns like the back of my hand since I had driven this route countless times. I knew where the potholes were, the bumps in the road, where to slow down for patrolling law enforcers, where to speed up when no one was watching. It was quite silly to take the precaution of Muggle transportation when my time was so short to begin with. I had two hours. Two hours when Voldemort thought that I was meeting with Dumbledore, two hours when Dumbledore thought I was meeting with Voldemort, and two hours that James Potter was at work and Lily Potter was at home. One fourth of that time was wasted on the journey there, and another fourth squandered on the journey back, which left one hour in between, one hour with Lily.
I drove across the wooden bridge with ease, deftly braking as the small village of Godric's Hollow slowly took over my surroundings, indicated by a small brick wall bearing the village name in shimmering brass letters. Closer and closer I came, winding my way through the narrow dirt lanes, until finally I came to a halt at her house. I pushed my foot on the brake, shifted into Park, turned off the ignition and exited the car, squinting as the last sliver of the sun on the horizon shone in my eyes just beyond the little cottage. Lily was sitting on the porch.
“Hi,” she said quietly. Neither of us smiled when we finally found each other's eyes. The days of smiling were a swiftly fading memory.
“Hey,” I replied. “Nice jack-o-lantern.”
“Thanks. Carved it myself.” There was a very long, chilled silence. We simply sat there, side-by-side, both looking off into the distance at the cool night. The trees swayed gently as the crescent moon gleamed amidst a perfectly clear sky, the red and orange leaves fluttering to the ground. Just six months prior we had sat on this very porch, but under quite contrasting circumstances; there had been smiles, laughter, a friendly embrace. We had reminisced about old times and the hour slipped by faster than trickling water.
Next to me, Lily shivered.
“Here, take my cloak,” I said, quickly removing it and placing it around her slightly hunched shoulders.
“No, no, we can share it,” she said, a flicker of a smile playing across her face, one that nearly reached her eyes.
“I can't share my cloak with you. Either take it or don't.”
“Fine,” she said with a mock-angry glare, wrapping it tightly around herself. “But you'd better not forget it when you leave.”
“I've already had to buy a new one. Remember? You 'borrowed' one from me before. You might as well just keep it, it really doesn't matter to me anyway,” I said, and again we found ourselves in utter silence. This time I chanced a look at her out of the corner of me eye. She too was looking at me, and then we both smiled in spite of ourselves.
“Remember when you first told me about Hogwarts?” she said.
“I do,” I said, leaning back from my seat on the ground to the bottom step just behind me. I stretched my arms out as I surveyed the night sky. I couldn't bring myself to look into those green eyes as we talked.
“It's beautiful, isn't it?” she said, looking out at the barely visible stars.
“Hmm...” I replied. I looked at my watch and saw that I had twenty minutes left. The thoughts that had been burning just out of reach on the drive over suddenly tumbled out of my mouth. “Why do I keep coming here?”
Lily looked at me, her eyes suddenly narrowed and calculating. I knew that it would be cowardly to look away, but her eyes made everything so much more real. I couldn't back away, not now.
“Don't you remember?” she said. Her voice wasn't angry or accusatory, but more pressing and urgent. She wanted me to understand. She wasn't upset with me, just desperate that I understand something that made no sense at all.
“All I remember is you saying that you had two hours in your schedule and that you'd like to see me every now and then.”
“Exactly,” she nearly pleaded, the vitality smothering her tone. “We're friends. I can't just let you disappear into the woodworking.”
“But this – ” I said, gesturing unnecessarily between the two of us, “this doesn't make any sense. Why are we friends? We can't be just friends. This is either something more or something less. It doesn't make any sense. I shouldn't be here. I don't belong here.”
“If you don't want to be here then you should just go,” Lily said tersely.
“You know I want to be here... That's what makes this so difficult. I've tried to leave you so many times, tried to be over you. I can't just – just cut you out.” My mind usually struggled for the adequate words to express a meaning, but somehow the situation made me lucid, and I didn't have to work for words at all. They just came tumbling out as if they'd been there all along.
“You know...” Lily said at last. “Truth be told, I feel like I've been kind of selfish. Asking you to come see me and all. Part of me knew all along that it wasn't right, that it was doing more damage than good.”
“Selfish, indulgent, not much difference between the two. Indulgence isn't so bad when it's only once in a while,” I said quietly. This time she gave me a genuine smile that would stay with me forever. We both stared into each other's eyes, and I just memorized her features. I didn't know if I would ever see her again, and the thought was terrifying. Just then, a soft crying rent the silence of the night. She continued to look into my eyes and I wondered what she saw in them.
“Your baby's crying,” I said.
As I drove home, my mind was in a haze, but this time it wasn't from staring into the sun. I rolled down the windows and let the wind play across my face, breathing it in and listening to the tires as they glided across the pavement. The only other sound in the distance was that of a hooting owl.
Nothing could have driven that memory out of my head. I doubted even a memory charm in which all my other memories were lost could've made me forget. I forced myself to etch every detail into my mind, from the lopsided grin of the jack-o-lantern to the way her eyebrows crumpled guiltily. I, who knew intimate details of the power of Occlumency and Legilimency, knew that no one could separate me from the events of that night, for I would share it with no one in all my days.
Somehow the drive cast an eerie feeling over me, one that lessened the stress of everything that lay ahead. Dealing with Voldemort and Dumbledore took the utmost caution, for both would instantly see right through me were I to falter even the slightest bit. They too knew Occlumency and Legilimency quite well. But my feelings for Lily were locked so well within me that I doubted very much it would be a problem. Neither of them need ever know how I had spent that single hour of my life. I had merely gone for a drive.
She had stood up and looked reluctantly through the window to see her son awake in his crib. She had then turned back to me with her mouth slightly open, not knowing what to say.
“It's okay, go,” I had willed myself to say. The last thing I wanted was to cut our time short, but she had a family. She had a life to return to, and that life didn't include me. Her eyebrows fell guiltily.
“Your cloak,” she had said, stepping closer to me and draping it over my shoulders. I felt the warmth of her hands even through several layers of fabric, and I felt as they gently slid off my shoulders. The feeling, however, remained.
“You can keep – ”
“Severus Snape, I'm not about to steal your cloak. Who knows, maybe you'll find someone else to give it to.”
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