Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of J.K. Rowling’s work
Laid in Earth
When I am laid, am laid in earth,
May my wrongs create no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me! but ah! forget my fate.
--From Henry Purcell’s “When I am Laid in Earth”
He did not expect to see her there, there of all places. At his father’s funeral. Perhaps in passing one day, he would catch only the whisper of her red hair in Diagon Alley. Or see her as a ghost that haunted the perpetual puddles that corrupted the lanes of Spinner’s End. Or see her, always, forever, at night, when he did not dream save for the empty, possessed thoughts between the wakeful and sleep.
But she came to his father’s funeral. A man she had not known. A son she said she hated. And that James Potter wasn’t with her, as he had been at their graduation from Hogwarts last month, as he had been when they boarded the scarlet train for the last time and Lily disappeared into his compartment.
Snape had heard that Potter had proposed to her that day, and yet now he saw no ring on her finger. Her hands were mercifully bare. Ivory when the sun hit them, because the day of his father’s funeral was bright.
Black coats and veiled hats smudged the world like charcoal. And in the tiny corner of the cemetery, an uneasy truce was struck between the living and the dead.
The shift from light to dark was sadder to him than the death of his father, a man who rarely set foot in his own house except to steal money from his wife’s purse. Unlike most of the mourners, Snape did not cry at Tobias’s funeral.
And neither did Lily. But she was in mourning.
When his father was locked in a cheap, plywood casket and lowered into the earth, Snape became the scornful son. He looked across the grave and in the solemnity of the moment, he found Lily’s face.
She did not flinch from his gaze.
But she did arch her right eyebrow. The expression was thoroughly uncanny, quite like the one she wore when they were children still. An expression that had faded when she went to Hogwarts and sat at the Gryffindor table and smiled keenly instead of just raising her eyebrows.
Snape had waited years to see that look again and now he had it, across the grave at his father’s funeral.
And then it was over. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Snape could already hear the churning of shovels in the soil. The mourners filed out of the cemetery.
On the winding paths that led to the turn of the century gates, Muggles unwittingly mixed company with wizards. It made for a parade of uncertain ceremony, Snape decided. He waited back by the gate, pretending to shake hands, to accept the comfort so freely given without consequence and thought to the actual depth of grief. He waited until the last elderly couple filed out and then Lily was behind them.
When she shook Snape’s hand, reassurance swept through him as a tidal wave and he drowned in it. She was not wearing a ring.
Lily did not tell him that she was sorry for his loss. She knew that he hated his father and she knew that he wouldn’t cry because he couldn’t. Snape never cried.
Instead, she said, “You need to go help your mother, Sev.”
He looked over his shoulder and saw her on the arm of her brother-in-law. Eileen Prince-Snape was a marble statue of a woman, a shell, perhaps, housing vital organs and blood, but not life.
And he had Lily standing beside him. Lily Evans who lived and breathed and had come to his father’s funeral.
“I heard James Potter proposed to you on the last day of school,” he said. Snape had always been bold and he admired himself for it. It was a quiet gift he could to give himself, praise for a well-turned phrase or solid sentiment.
Lily did not seem to notice. “We’re too young to get married,” she replied. But her answer left him uncertain.
For the first and only time in his life, Severus Snape did not trust her. “That’s smart of you,” he told her. “You were always sensible, Lily.” He wanted to touch her on the shoulder, but did not.
Restraint was another gift he possessed. Denial. And the pain still cut into him. Deep. Deep. Where he could bury it.
But he could not disguise his curiosity.
“Why did you come?” he asked her.
She squared her hips. They were standing on uneven ground, the cobblestone path having been misused for years, trod on by foot and hoof and wagon wheel. Snape wondered if she was uncomfortable in her high heels. Lily had never dressed like that before she started dating Potter.
Snape had never asked her to.
“You didn’t come to pay your respects,” he continued. She had not known his father. Had only heard stories. Had seen him passing under the window of her house when he went to work in the mornings. But she did not know him.
She only knew Snape…or she had.
To his surprise, Lily smiled. “I know you would have done the same for me, Sev.”
“But you wouldn’t want me to.”
There was hurt in her eyes. Fresh. And Snape realized suddenly that he had wounded her. Reproach darkened his mind and soul and left him standing in the baking sun, sweating in his black coat and wishing, perhaps, that he were dead.
“I’m sorry, Sev,” Lily said suddenly. She was businesslike. Indifferent. Using the same tone of voice and manner that she employed to dispose of James Potter, when he was still just an annoying prat and not her boyfriend. Not the man she loved.
Her words were slow and rhythmic. They were strings plucked on a baroque guitar accompanied by the swaying tremolo of her resolve. She was faltering, being near him. Here, at his father’s funeral.
“I have to go,” she said. And then she touched his wrist. Once. Her right eyebrow danced up her forehead. “Goodbye, Sev.”
He let her go. And a week later, he saw the announcement in the Prophet. Lily Evans and James Potter. Engaged to be married.
Snape wasn’t sure if he hated her for it or not. She had lied to him, but she had also tried to save him.
But even Lily Evans couldn’t save the soulless.
After her wedding and after he had joined the Death Eaters and become a traitor and a spy and bound for the Ninth Circle of Hell, Snape would remember the last time he saw her alive. At his father’s funeral. Across the grave of a hated man.
And that day, amongst the dead and damned, he had found heaven, as it would only ever exist for him.
Author’s Note: This one-shot was written for Round 3 of the TGS Writathon. I’ve always wanted to write a Snape/Lily story, although this piece turned out to be much more over-the-top than I expected. As always, if you have a free moment, please leave a review. I would love to hear from you.