Chapter 1 : Forgive Me
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“James would have never saved me from such a deadly inferno as Harry saved Draco,” Severus thought.
Lost in his thoughts, Severus did not notice a woman standing right in front of him. He walked right up to her, lost his footing and was just about to hit the ground when she reached out and caught hold of him.
“Severus….be careful!” she exclaimed, still holding on to his hand. Severus looked up to thank her for breaking his fall.
“Thank you…” he started, but stopped short when he looked up at her. He had seen those eyes just moments ago.
“Lily!” he whispered. “After so long…”
Lily helped Severus back on his feet and smoothened his robe. “Yes. We have met after a long time,” she said. “Let’s take a walk.”
Severus nodded in agreement. “Where are we?” he asked her, looking around.
“Afterlife,” Lily replied. “It appears differently to each one of us. What does it appear to you?”
Severus hesitated. “The farm. Where we first met,” he finally replied.
“Strange,” Lily whispered. “Same as mine.”
Severus was surprised but didn’t show it. “So where are the others?” he asked.
“Others?” Lily asked, her eyes glinting with mischief.
“Oh! You know,” Severus said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. “James, Sirius, Dumbledore…”
“Here and there,” Lily replied airily. “Remus is here too.”
“Lupin is dead?” Severus was incredulous. He was aware that the battle at Hogwarts was still raging on but he least expected Remus Lupin to perish.
“Yes,” Lily replied. “Tonks too. Sad, isn’t it? They just had a baby.”
Severus merely nodded.
“So…”Lily started but stopped short when she saw someone approaching them.
“Hey there!” a cheerful voice called out. “Hogwarts looks much better now!”
“Fred Weasley,” Severus muttered. “Such a tragic loss.”
“Oh! Professor Snape,” the smile on Fred’s face vanished but returned almost instantly when he saw Lily. “And you must be Lily. Harry’s mother.”
“That I am,” Lily replied. “Thank you for looking after Harry, Fred. And don’t worry,” Lily added, grinning. “Severus will not bully you any more.”
“Stop it, Lily,” Severus muttered, digging his toes into the ground. Fred’s face broke into a smile and both he and Lily looked at Severus, clearly enjoying themselves.
“I’m sorry for giving you such a tough time, Professor,” Fred said finally. “We were all mistaken about you.”
“That’s all right,” Severus said, patting Fred on his shoulder. “And I owe you an apology too. For being so nasty. Didn’t mean to.”
“Forget about it, Professor,” Fred grinned. Just then, Lily cleared her throat audibly. Both the men jumped. They had clearly forgotten about her being in their midst.
“We have a lifetime for a cosy catch-up, Fred,” Lily said. “Now go. You will find James, Sirius and the others a little further down from here.”
“Others?” Fred looked curious. “Who all are there?”
“You won’t find out if you continue standing here and chatting with us,” Lily replied, clearly irritated.
“Okay, I’m off,” Fred grinned mischieviously. “See you soon, Lily. Professor.”
“Call me Severus now,” he called out, exasperated. “I’m no longer your professor.” But Fred was already out of earshot.
“So, Professor Snape,” Lily turned to him, grinning.
“Not you too, Lily,” Severus warned.
“Why not?” she asked. “Thought you enjoyed being one. And oh! Headmaster too!” Lily was enjoying herself.
“Never,” Severus said, vehemently shaking his head. “I never enjoyed being a professor. Nor a headmaster. I had to be nasty to the students when I didn’t want to.”
“But Harry?” Lily asked. “He’s my son. Why were you so horrid to him?”
“I’m coming to that, Lily,” Severus said. “Harry was the only reason I stayed back at Hogwarts as a professor. To keep him safe. To protect him. The night you were killed,” Severus paused, the thought clearly painful for him. “I asked Dumbledore to hand over Harry to me. I would have taken better care of him. Better than your sister and her husband. But he insisted on leaving Harry in the care of Petunia and Vernon. He told me the reason for doing so, but still. I would have preferred Harry to be with me instead. I would have prepared him for his future and not hidden any information from him as your sister did. When he came to Hogwarts, I wanted him to get sorted into Slytherin. I wanted him to be close to me. I wanted to protect him in every possible way.”
“But you hated him,” Lily repeated.
“I never hated him, Lily,” Severus said, firmly. “How could I? He has your eyes. But it was Dumbledore who told me to be strict with him. He had predicted accurately that Harry will perform extraordinary feats of bravery. He did not wish for Harry to get carried away by his success. I worked as a double agent for Dumbledore and Voldemort not because they told me to. But because I loved you. And I was shattered when I lost you. But when I heard that Harry survived, I decided to do anything to keep him safe. He was the only reminder of you I had.”
Lily was stunned. “I’m sorry, Severus,” she whispered, looking down at her feet. “I’m sorry for ruining our friendship.” Tears rolled down her cheeks as she looked up and met Severus’ eyes. “Will you forgive me?”
And, as her green eyes met the black, she knew that she did not need to hear his answer.