Severus felt himself smiling; he didn't smile in front of Harry Potter. At least not the true smile he felt now. It was the kind of smile that ached, it was so wide, one he hadn't let himself feel since he lost Lily. He breathed and felt hard wood beneath him. Was he still alive? Still in the boat house? He couldn't be, he didn't feel any pain. His body felt like a child's, and his mind felt fresh except for the mute sting of memories.
He blinked his eyes open and surveyed the room, his head leaning back on what felt like an empty bookshelf. The Potions classroom lay out before him, the crisp dungeon air providing a comfort he hadn't felt since he had shared the classroom with Lily Evans, when they were partners; her hushed giggle as he worked on cutting up an ingredient that wasn't being cooperative.
He narrowed his eyes to slits and shushed her, observing the thing until he turned and let himself smile, soft and small. "I think I know a better way of accomplishing what we need to do, Lily." She grinned and ushered him on with a little wave of her fingers. Severus blinked, wanting to watch her longer, but he turned back to the incomplete potion. Two fingers gripped the bouncing arsehole of an ingredient, and his other hand took the knife and crushed the thing.
It wasn't how the text instructed, but it did them better, at least last time... even he wasn't sure if it would turn out better or not this time. Usually his intuition worked in his benefit, but sometimes it went wrong. It was only an educated guess.
Severus groaned as he sat up in his chair at the front of the classroom, moving to observe his hands and robes. They looked perfectly fine, no blood on his fingers; "Ah," he reached up to touch the spot where Nagini had fatally bitten him-at least, he had to be dead, didn't he? He lifted his fingers to his eyes and turned them around slowly, looking for any blood... nothing.
Footsteps echoed outside of the classroom, gentle yet unwavering; someone was walking down the dungeon hall. Severus got to his feet and adjusted his robes, reaching instinctively into a pocket for a good grip on his wand.
That voice. Her voice. But it couldn't be. Severus loosened his hand, though, waiting as his breath caught in his throat. His eyes betrayed him when Lily walked through the open doorway, exactly how he remembered her. He stood there, wanting to move, unable to move, words erupting in his mind with everything he wanted to say, but his mouth wouldn't work.
Instead, his lips parted dumbly, Severus waited, his hand now lax on his wand as Lily walked in between a row of desks to reach him. When she did, Severus found his voice again; he took a deep breath, took his hand away from his wand and out of his robes to touch one of her cheeks... It was soft, and it felt so real. He almost choked on his own gasp, his voice tearing at the seams...
"You're real," he managed to say, wondering how he could break his mask so easily. It was Lily, it was; he kept repeating it in his head.
She smiled and placed her palm on top of his hand, "I am, Sev." Severus felt it would be too much for him, just... how could any of this be real? He was going to wake up and find himself in Hogwart's bloody hospital wing any minute now, and he'd have to face Harry again, that br--boy that he honestly couldn't face again right now. Not after what he'd given him to see in the pensieve.
He spun around and stalked over to the mirror over the basin where student's washed their hands if they forgot-dunderheads they were-to put on gloves before touching one of the more volatile potion ingredients. He stared at himself in the mirror, his face with less wrinkles, perhaps none at all if he looked close enough; his neck without a snake bite on it, not a bit of dried blood; his hair without the stench of blood at the tips; his eyes pure and wholesome again, something they hadn't been since he had found Lily dead in Godric's Hollow almost seventeen years ago.
Lily... dead... But she was here. He was here. It was obvious, he knew it, but wasn't death supposed to be different? He hadn't really focused much on what the soul meant, what happened afterward-he honestly hadn't wanted to think upon it. Yet Severus had never once thought of this, he could never allow himself such a luxury of seeing Lily again, touching her, hearing her voice speak to him in such a... nice manner again. Not since he had called her that filthy name-
He turned around, face stricken as he remembered, "Lily, you know-"
But she was at his side in a moment, her finger placed over his lips, shushing him. He lowered his gaze at her and for Merlin's sake, he felt like crying again. He steeled himself, though, and waited.
"I forgive you, Sev... actually, I forgave you a long time ago."
Severus didn't know what to think, what to say, what to do-this was real. His reality. Her reality. He looked around the classroom again and smiled as he felt tears brim around his eyelids.
"But that's not how it's supposed to go, Sev!" Lily whispered, grabbing his wrist harshly. Severus hissed and looked over at her.
"Just trust me, Lily, won't you?" he asked, his eyes softening. "Trust me."
She relaxed and shrugged, "All right, but if anything explodes... it's your fault." A mischievous grin crossed her face and Severus sighed, such a Gryffindor. Even though he had wished for her to become a Slytherin... he always knew somewhere that Gryffindor was where she belonged.
He turned back to the cauldron and with Lily's help they finished the potion just in time for Professor Slughorn's assessment. The professor went around the tables, inspecting each potion, his nose crinkling especially so when he looked at Potter and Black's, the idiots. When he came to his and Lily's table, he smiled at them both.
"I'm almost expecting another brilliant potion from you two," he said under his breath as he examined their work. A few moments later, he winked at them, "Just what I thought! Excellent work, Evans, Snape. Five points to Gryffindor and five to Slytherin!"
Severus shared a look with Lily, barely raising one eyebrow in amusement before he felt a paper ball hit his head only to fall onto their table. It peeled open to show James Potter on his broom, waving at him as his stupid messy hair ran wild in the wind, and then the picture changed as James swooped down on an unknowing Severus, sitting beside a tree reading from one of his textbooks. James pulled out his wand and whispered a spell that poured a bucket of icy cold water over Severus's head, leaving him shivering and drenched.
Writing below the drawing said, "Watch out, Snivellus, or maybe not."
He grunted and tore the sheet up with a small wave of his wand, stowing it back into his robes quickly after. Not even giving James the chance to look into his eyes, Severus turned his attention to his book, shutting it and putting it back into his bag before he put it over his shoulder. His hand that lay on the table lifted, brushing against one of Lily's fingers; he kept himself from smiling, but he knew Lily had seen his eyes widen...
"See you later, then?" Severus asked, almost easily able to keep his voice under control now. His fellow Slytherins had helped in that process-he was much better at keeping the mask on now when he wanted, unlike in the couple of years before.
Lily smiled, "Sure, Sev."
Fortunately Potter and his little gang had left already.
This moment hadn't been ruined.
Her arms wrapped around him, her head resting on his shoulder. Severus shuddered, attempting to keep from crying, but what was the point? This was Lily, his Lily. Strangled, soft sobs came from his throat as he gripped at her robes, a mix between beige and brown with a hint of red like her hair.
"Shh, Sev, it's all right," Lily said, raising her head to look at him, bringing a hand up to rest in his hair. He straightened up and let himself smile, holding a hand over the right side of his face; Severus felt his lips stretch to a place that they hadn't in years, because it kept hitting him that his days as a spy were over, his days of hiding and fooling everyone but Dumbledore were gone for good.
His laughter mixed with the tears running down his face; this was home.
1 - Quote taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie