Chapter 1 : Circumstance
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Knowledge is power. Also, it’s energy.
It roars and tears at the walls of the soul that confines it, aiming only to break free. Possibly even needing to break free and knowing nothing except that one drive. But the selfish soul contracts against the pain and keeps the fire hidden, suffocating the flames only to keep them safe.
A powerful wizard never lets go of what he knows. He never allows the truth to escape into a crude world. Such a man would never let anything transform his knowledge into something unrecognizable. No, he endures the torture as the flames wind their murderous arms around his soul. Slowly, they eat their way to his mind.
Knowledge is his burden.
Every single person he had ever met is bellowing in those flames somewhere, a fleeting impression of smile, a glance, a couple of words that never meant anything.
A body can crumple and rot but none of that carries any significance if maybe, just maybe, its image might live on in the darkness of somebody else’s secrets. The world is quick to forget, yes, but a tortured mind does not easily let go.
When we take our last breath, we do not pray for forgiveness or count regrets. Instead, we beg for one last chance; the one in a million chance to haunt the dreams of a mind feverish enough to turn us into something beautiful.
* * *
She will go down in history as a mother and a wife. The gentle waves of her ginger hair and the energy of her bright green eyes will always constitute the face of ultimate feminine power, the embodiment of love.
The world will never know.
It will continue making up a radiant idea of Good and it will push it onto a perverted, ever so tragic pedestal. The ever unattainable power of love. Blasted, lying love…
What is this love? Is it something torn from a woman, a sacrifice for humanity?
Lily Evans wasn’t the type. The mother type. That was never her face.
His eyes blankly rest on the shifting lines of a photograph meticulously cut out of the Daily Prophet. It’s just a family. So classic: A man, a woman, a wailing infant cradled in their arms. A collective human dream.
But his dream is different.
For some reason, all he can remember is a strand of her hair caught in the rough bark of the tree. The midday sun shines through the thin, almost translucent orange lines. All he wants to do is free them, but he is terrified of moving a single muscle.
“We simply must get revenge!” she is saying. “They are just a group of arrogant, rich, spoiled brats! And they will only stay that way if nobody challenges them.”
Her hands are gesticulating wildly. Lately, she has taken to clenching her fingers like claws when she is angry. He loves it. She has morphed from an excited little girl into an incontrollable animal within a mere five years, with him.
“Sev?” she repeats, tearing the boy back to the excruciating immediacy of her presence.
He remembers to breath. “It’s almost too easy,” he sighs, leaning his back against the tree.
“Well if it’s so easy, we have to do it! Who else, but us?” she exclaims.
“A simple prank won’t do,” Snape condescends. He focuses his eyes on a group of first-years playing by the lake, straining to forget about how close she is sitting to him, how their knees are almost touching. “We need to show them real magic.”
“Yes! That’s good, you know why?” she agrees, “Because they seem to think they are the best in absolutely bloody everything. We can out-do them in technique any day. We won’t even need to try…”
“We just need to lure them in-”
“I can do that,” she states matter-of-factly, “I can get the Potter boy to go anywhere, really. It’s almost pathetic how he follows me around.”
A dull pang pierces Snape’s stomach at her words. He turns to her and their eyes lock. It’s a brief moment, just a split second, but he can only remember it as a fierce battle of wits. In his mind, it lasts forever. Had he known that she was slipping away? Maybe not. But now, every time he replays this memory, his insides turn. He must have known.
“Wonderful! It’s settled then,” he asserts. “Have you looked at my new spell? We need something they won’t know about.”
She smiles. It’s a strangely hungry smile. “The blood spell? Yeah, I worked out a counter spell to it, just in case.”
She pulls out a crumpled piece of paper and hands it to the pale boy next to her.
“Sectumsepra,” he reads aloud, relishing in the sound. It is a beautiful piece of magic, his newest creation. An elegant, cruel little curse.
“Vulnera Sanentur should restore the blood,” she explains, leaning in. Her hair brushes against his cheek. It sends a shiver down his spine.
He had never thought that a girl like Lily, someone so lucky and loved, would share his obsession with power. But there they were, plotting in plain sight.
As time tends to do, the memory of that day had become faded, some colors exaggerated and others changed altogether. But nothing could alter the fact that he knew her, and he was the only one who ever did. She was not a wife, not a mother. Never was she the gentle, loving hand of justice. Lily Evans was like him.
In his darkest moments, Snape digs up his secrets und goes over them, again and again. She becomes brighter, glowing with a ghostly light. She died for love, he reminds himself. She didn’t just fall limply to the ground the way all the others did. She left with a bang.
She showed them.
The thought makes him smile, every time. But if he isn’t careful, her other faces tear through the fabric of his memory.
It’s graduation. She is laughing, far away on stage. Then she throws her hat at the row of Professors behind her and runs down the aisle between the tables, her eye-brows raised and her eyes shining with unparalleled happiness. She’s grinning uncontrollably, channeling the exhilarating freedom felt by the entire 7th year. A blasted star, everybody’s favorite little bundle of joy.
And Snape? He is skulking in the shadows, clenching his diploma and massaging his stinging left forearm. By then, he had already sold his soul. And, to him, Lily Evans was already dead.
Even the strongest find themselves looking for somewhere to place the blame. And the smartest know to search for it in circumstance. The Dark Lord did not kill Lily Evans. Snape’s betrayal didn’t kill her, either. He knows that her actual path was much more ordinary and banal than the trajedy surrounding her memory.
Lily’s death came from normality. Convention swallowed up the fiery, uncontrollable teenager and cultivated her, turned her into a giggling fiancé and then a dutiful mother.
Snape is a trained Occlumens. He knows how to control a mind, first and foremost his own. He never lets a single stray thought wander in that direction. But, what if. What if.
No. He stops himself.
A story is a story. Hers ended early. She had stepped away from the path of greatness, only to be regurgitated by history as a symbol. Just a dead girl that died for your sins.
Sometimes, circumstance has a name. In this case, its name was Harry Potter.
* * *
"I don't need help from a filthy little mudblood like her!"
The sentence echoes in Snape’s mind. It is decades later and he has learned not to blush at the memory. Now, he finds himself feeling a surge of bitter pride. That day, he had fallen into his rightful place. He hadn’t known to appreciate it then, but he had been set free. The doubt would come much, much later. Back in fifth year, he was liberated from the burden of going against the tide. He wasn’t friends with a Gryffindor anymore and he wasn’t doing anything different from what was expected of him. Suddenly, he found he could be the greasy-haired, Dark Magic obsessed Slytherin creep with impunity.
Snape can’t help but wonder if Lily had felt the relief as well. All he knows is that she had been the first to grow tired of explaining their friendship.
The day by the lake hadn’t been the day it all ended, he reminds himself. The crucial moment had been a couple of days before the incident, when she failed to show up to carry out their plot of revenge.
Whatever he had suspected about Lily’s evolving affections before, it all caught up with him that night. Snape puts his hand over his forehead and tries to reconstruct the pounding in his temples as he sought her out and followed her into a dark hallway.
She doesn’t notice him yet and keeps walking, slowly, as if everything is as usual. Snape quickens his pace. His hand is clenching his wand. Trembling, he flicks it at the wall. Some automatic, minor spell springs to mind and a few bricks fly off. The crash is oddly satisfying. He does it again and a portrait topples off the wall.
She turns around.
“Why?” Snape calls out. He flicks his wand at the wall again, this time jerking his entire arm as if swatting an invisible enemy. Some more bricks crumple to the floor.
She closes her eyes briefly.
“What do you want to hear?” she whispers. They are facing each other now. He is still trembling with anger, but his knees are ready to give away any moment.
“I waited for hours…” he mutters, stepping closer.
Lily is against the wall now, her eyes cast down. She cannot even face him.
“WHY?” he yells, slamming his fist against the wall to the left of her head
Somewhere in the back of his feverish mind, Snape observes that she is holding her ground well - too well. He knows that she will never tell him. Sometimes, when he remembers this moment, she disappears entirely and he is just hitting an empty wall. At other times, he dares take that one last step closer until his nose is almost touching her forehead. He doesn’t even know what he is trying to do, but she doesn’t budge and waits, patiently. He can hear her calm, stable breaths.
“You betrayed everything,” he mutters.
But she remains silent. The same silence haunts the maze of his memories. It is the silence of inevitability. In a way, it is the silence of surrender.
As Snape walks away, something stirs in her and she calls out after him. It’s a feeble excuse and they both know that their conversation is over, as is their friendship.
“I just didn’t think we should go after them, alright? They aren’t that bad, you know…”
Severus Snape guards his memories with a jealous passion. It’s his secret, for he is the only one who knew Lily Evans. Not the mother or the wife, the Auror, the Prefect. His Lily was a wild flame, a girl that refused to be anything, for anyone. She fought against convention as long as she could. He doesn’t blame her finally for caving in.
* * *
Death is the ultimate equalizer. Once we cease to be, we are at our most vulnerable and we can only hope that, should there be anything left of the days we spent on this Earth, that it reflect who we were. We hope that those we encountered would never settle for the easy way out by recalling only the roles we played.
When I was alive, I struggled to be a good person. And now, I find that the only reality left of me is in another’s pain.
Every collision carries a trauma. Connecting to another human being can only happen by force, after which neither will emerge unaltered. It so happens that some collisions are more destructive than others.
As I wander through his memories, I know that there are times when he detests me. I could loosen my grip on his mind, of course, and set him free. But he is all I have left, and I will live on through his suffering until he takes his last breath.
As he stares into the eyes of my son, he remembers a fictional girl. She is innocent and impulsive, and she can be anything and everything I never dared. As fate would have it, it is only this obsessive and cruel mind that could transform me into something truly beautiful. Kept safe by his turbulent longing for the light, I can remain forever young.
Soon, his heart will stop and his mind will fade away. And then, we will perish together.
Well, I suspect that if you've read this far you either had to or you, like me, enjoy a portion of extreme angst once in a while ;)
I never thought I would write anything about Snape and Lily, because that sub-story is just so incredible in the books - I wouldn't dare temper with it.
But, then this happened! I hope to not have offended any fans of either of the characters. If I have, I am terribly sorry and I understand.
Personally, I have never been a big fan of Lily's and I like Snape way too much. So this is a biased view on their frienship. I always hated how Lily is just the dead mother. Makes me think of the fridge stuffing trope! So this story was intended to give her a life outside of being the perfect mother and girlfriend while simultaneously explaining how Snape and Lily could have been friends for so long without, as I got from the books, Snape having to pretend to be someone else when he is around her.
If you recognise some loose similarities to Wuthering Heights and Teenage Dirtbag, they are deliberate and I wouldn't dream of under-representing the influence. Both romances are, I find, fitting and equally tragic (although one is clearly on a different literary calibre as the other :P)
Oh and: reviews are what I get up for in the mornings! No pressure ;)