Chapter 61 : Choices
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Harry brought Ginny and the children to see the triplets and Hermione the next day. Alby seemed glad to have some new baby cousins, especially boys, and said at least Indi would have another girl to play tea party with. Severus thought the babies were cute and calmly held baby Harry while Rose held her little sister Mina and Alby had Freddy. Severus remembered how proud he had felt upon finding out Alby had been named for him, and supposed Harry must feel the same way about his namesake.
Ron was pleased as punch, since triplets were a rare thing even in the wizarding world and no one, least of all Hermione, had known she would have them. Molly was quite happy to finally have a namesake also, and when Bill and Fleur came over to see them with Vickie, Fleur revealed she was now pregnant as well. Clearly, the Weasleys were growing by leaps and bounds.
Severus still hadn't resolved things between him and Lily, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to just forgive and forget. He'd done that once, or tried to, and look where it had gotten him. Now that he had allowed himself to be angry over Lily hurting him that lifetime ago, he found he wasn't ready to let go of his resentment. Not yet. Nor was he sure how long it would take him to get past it. He had buried the hurt under a mountain of guilt and told himself he deserved everything she had done to him. For years, all throughout his adult life, he had believed that to be true. It was only now, during this second chance, that he saw that while he might have deserved some blame for Lily abandoning him, he did not deserve it all. His second chance had revealed to him that she was not perfect either, and he no longer held her up on a pedestal as he once had. She had reason to be angry with him that day, but by rejecting him and not forgiving him for what had been a passionate mistake, and then by taking the side of the bullying Marauders over her best friend, and not listening as he attempted to explain what he needed to do to survive the Death Eater presence in Slytherin, she had torn him apart, and left him vulnerable to dark influences. He'd had a choice, but so had she. And both had made bad choices.
Severus knew he had the right to feel betrayed and angry, but he also hated hurting Lily with his coldness. Yet he could not seem to help himself. Could he still be her friend with this between them? He resolved to ask Harry about it as soon as he had the opportunity.
His chance came that afternoon. Ginny was taking a nap, as was Indi, and Alby and Rose were playing over at the Burrow. Harry was in his study, trying to put together a different curriculum for Defense for next term, one that involved more practical dueling for the older students. He was busy scribbling on a piece of parchment when Severus came into the room.
"Harry, can I talk to you?" He still felt awkward calling Harry anything other than his name, and had resolved to only call Harry "dad" for certain times, like on his birthday and Christmas, saving it for special occasions, so it didn't lose its meaning. Plus, if he and Lily ever got together, it would be horribly awkward to call her son "dad".
"Sure, Sev. What's up?" Harry asked, setting aside his paper.
Severus sat in a chair next to the desk that he pulled up. "I was wondering . . . what if you . . . have a problem with someone and don't think you can forgive them for something?"
"Does this have to do with something Sirius said or did to you?"
Severus didn't answer, preferring to let Harry draw his own conclusions. He didn't want to mention that he was angry with Lily, because even though he loved and trusted Harry, Lily was still Harry's mother, and even though he'd never known her as such, a man still loved and remained loyal to her. And he was afraid Harry would feel compelled to take her side.
When Severus didn't answer right away, Harry said, "Well, I can see where you'd have a hard time forgiving Sirius for the hell he put you through in your past life. It's sort of the same problem I had forgiving Draco for what he did to me and my friends."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "How did that happen?"
Harry thought a moment. "Well, you'll need to remember that I sort of felt about Draco the way you do about Sirius. Draco was a rotten pain-in-the-ass to me for years and he also teased and hurt Hermione, Ron, Neville, and even though it wasn't quite as bad as what Sirius did to you, I was still angry and resentful over it. Even when the war ended, and I came to realize that a lot of Draco's bad behavior was due to him trying to impress Lucius and the other Death Eaters, I was still angry and unwilling to forgive him. And it wasn't so much for myself, but for others he had hurt."
"So what did you do?"
"For a long time, years in fact, I didn't do anything. Meaning I avoided him and Tori like they had the plague. I talked to him only as necessary when Hogwarts was being rebuilt, and I wasn't very nice to him at all. Then I started teaching Defense and he was the potions professor. So we got thrown together a lot as colleagues. I couldn't avoid him anymore, the way I'd been doing, it was impossible. I saw him everyday, both in and out of the classroom, at staff meetings, at dinner. And slowly I started to see that he'd changed from the spoiled nasty brat he used to be. He was different, he'd grown up and he loved Tori like I loved Ginny. Oddly enough, that was one thing we could talk about—our wives and our relationship with them."
"And then it still took awhile—several months, even a year, for me to start thinking about talking about the past, and what really bothered me. When we finally talked, it was good several years after the war, and once I'd gotten everything out in the open between us, I realized I could move on and have a friendly relationship with him. Because he'd changed and so had I. And some things I said to myself, were meant to just be accepted and moved on from. But it took me a long time, Sev. It didn't happen overnight. And I think the same thing is true of you and Sirius. He hurt you terribly all those years ago, and not just once or twice, but for seven years. You can't just forget about it or forgive it, even though he's changed now. You have the right to be angry for what he did to you."
"So then . . . you don't blame me?"
"Blame you? Hell, no. I was the same with Draco . . . and Dudley too, now that I think on it. If you think when he apologized to me it settled all scores, think again. It took me a long time to forgive him too, and he knows it. Give yourself time, Sev. Part of the healing process is allowing yourself time to feel all those things you suppressed over the years in your last life. You don't have to forgive Sirius all at once. I don't expect that and neither should you. Maybe you can start by forgiving him one thing, or putting one thing behind you and moving on. Then eventually you can do that for more things. It might take you years, but his persecution of you wasn't done in one day either. Does that help any?"
Slowly, Severus nodded. Perhaps there was hope for him and Lily yet. After all, Draco and Harry had become the most unlikely friends. So had Harry and Dudley. He knew part of this second chance was redemption for the mistakes made in their old lives. So eventually he would let go of his resentment and anger and move on. Just not yet.
He left the study and went to play with Shadow for an hour. Just being with his familiar made him calmer and happier than he'd felt in days. The little fox had that effect on him. As he played with Shadow and stroked her velvet fur, he thought about his relationship with Lily. He could see now that it hadn't been one where both were equal. A part of him had always considered her better than he was, the poor ragged child dressed in hand-me-downs from Spinner's End, while she was pretty and loved by everyone. It had been easy to shoulder all of the blame for her rejection, because he'd always seen himself at fault. But no longer.
Now, with this Lily, things were different. He was different. And so was she. She might be the pampered Malfoy heiress, but he was no longer unloved and unwanted. He belonged, and had a family who loved him always, as he'd never had before. That made all the difference.
Harry was right. He needed to give himself time.
Two weeks passed, and Severus wrote brief notes to Lily in his journal. He didn't say much, but at least he was communicating with her.
Finally, one day Ginny went shopping with Astoria and took Indi with them. They left Severus and Alby with Draco and Remus, to play with Cory, Sirius, and Lily. Teddy and Jamie were at Quidditch practice. Alby and Cory ran off right away with Sirius, who changed into Padfoot, to play by the koi pond, totally oblivious to the tension between the two former best friends.
Severus hesitantly approached Lily and gave her a half smile. "Hello, Lily."
"Hello, Sev. Are we friends again?" she asked worriedly.
"Yes, but . . . I want you to know that I . . . still have trouble forgiving you for what went on the last time. I want to be your friend again, but . . . you need to give me time to forgive you."
"How much time?"
"I don't know. Maybe a very long time. Can you understand that?"
Slowly, she nodded. "I hurt you too badly for you to just forget about it. Or forgive me because I'm not the same person I was. That's okay, Sev. I never forgave you in my first life. That was my mistake and maybe I need to work on doing that now. After all, the reason we were both given this chance was to redeem ourselves from the mistakes of the past. So . . . take all the time you need. I won't bring it up again until you're ready to talk about it. But . . . I still want to be your friend."
She held out her hand.
He gently clasped it. "So do I, Lily. And more than friends this time. Equals. Maybe more than that too . . . someday."
Their eyes met.
"Me too. I'd like that," she said simply. She knew that some things in this life were set out for them, but not every choice could be spelled out and no one could tell them how to feel when twists and turns arose in their path. But that was all right. This was a second chance, to make new choices, better choices, and learn from the mistakes of the past. She knew they would be tested and tried before they found their own happy ending.
But one thing would still be the same, and for that, Lily was grateful. She would still have her best friend, Severus Snape, beside her, come hell or high water. For now, that was enough.
Clasping his hand, she led him from the manor, and they raced across the grass, hand in hand, as they had done so long ago. In their footsteps echoed the past they had both lived, and the hope for a better future tomorrow. Soon they joined Alby, Padfoot, and Cory, their tension forgotten, and began to play like the children they were, taking refuge in the moment, though a part of them never forgot they were not, and never would be, like the others. They were the UnVeiled, given a second chance to change their lives for the better, and who knew what tomorrow might bring?
A/N: So we come to the end of this part of the tale. Don't worry, I will be doing a sequel called UnVeiled 2: The Hogwarts Years, since I felt it needed a book all its own. I just don't know when because I'm still working on several other stories, like Common Interests and Lily' Defender, as well as my Once Upon a Time series The Gold Standard and Yours, Mine, and Rumplestiltskin's. Hope you all liked this one and please leave me a review. Thanks for all your support, I appreciate it!
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