Author’s Note: I have to thank Athena for the
conversation that took this story in a different direction. Also, her feedback
was extremely helpful. And of course, I have to thank the best beta in the
whole wide world, PirateQueen. Her helpful hints and Britpicks have helped my
writing improve tremendously.
“Love cannot save you from your own
Where Would I Be
If I Didn’t Know You?
Lily watched with pride as a pile of laundry neatly folded
and stacked itself into a basket. After seven months of marital bliss, she
finally felt like she had mastered the magical art of housecleaning. Not having
grown up in a magical household, Lily had had to endure James’s teasing as she
learned various housekeeping spells. She didn’t mind cleaning the old-fashioned
way. She was accustomed to it and at times preferred it to using spells.
However, she’d learned early on in her marriage that the time saved by using
magic to do her daily chores had many… pleasurable benefits.
After a while she figured out that she had been
concentrating too hard. Listening to music as she cleaned seemed to help her
relax enough so that her folded laundry landed in the basket and not three feet
to the left of it. Old soul music yielded the best results. Lily smiled,
watching her socks dance as Aretha Franklin demanded some respect.
With the laundry nearly finished, Lily shimmied her way
across the room to look out of the window of their small flat. A multicolored
sea of umbrellas greeted her eyes as she looked down at the people making their
way up and down the street. It had been a particularly nasty day—cold, wet, and
much too miserable for a Saturday. It was the kind of day that made her want to
curl up under the covers and hide from the rest of the world—everyone but
James, of course. No, James should be curled up with her, warming her body with
He’d been gone for a week and she missed him immensely. She
hadn’t known what to do with herself during his absence. It was heartless of
her to be annoyed that James had chosen to spend some time with his parents.
Neither one of them was in very good health; who was Lily to begrudge her
husband the chance to spend time with his parents during what could be the
final days of their lives? Yet she couldn’t stop wishing that James was
standing there, draping his arms around her as they both watched people going
about their business on the street below.
A sigh born from guilt and longing escaped her as she let go
of the simple white curtains that framed the small window. Lily hated the way she
felt. What she needed was a distraction, since cleaning was clearly not
working. An insistent pounding at the door served this purpose with the added
bonus of scaring her out of her wits.
“Coming!” she shouted as she rushed to the door. Afraid that
she’d been playing her music too loud again, she flicked her wand at the record
player, quickly hushing Aretha’s soulful commands. Lily stashed her wand in the
waistband of her jeans and pulled her t-shirt down to cover it. With her hand
on the doorknob, she began apologizing at once.
“Mrs. Wilkins,” she began, turning the lock on the door, “I
am so sorry about the music. I didn’t think I had it up so loud this time, I
prom—” The ability to form words failed her at the sight of the person standing
at her door. Dripping wet and—judging by his chattering teeth and blue-tinged
lips—chilled to the bone, Severus Snape stood before her.
“I-is he h-here?” he managed to ask by way of greeting.
Still in a state of shock, Lily did not answer. Severus had
not spoken to her since the end of their fifth year; or rather she had
not spoken to him. As she goggled at the man standing at her door, she tried to
think of a reason why he would seek her out. Nothing came to mind.
“How did you find me?” she finally asked.
“W-wasn’t difficult. J-just had to f-find the right p-person
Lily’s stomach lurched at the thought of what method of
persuasion Severus had used and who it may have been inflicted upon. “Why are
you here? And why didn’t you dry yourself off when you came in out of the
He looked down at himself, as if he hadn’t realized he was
soaking wet. When he looked up again his expression was unreadable, though if
she’d been forced to guess Lily would have said it was despair she saw etched into
“I n-needed to see y-you. Is he h-here?” Severus asked
Knowing full well to whom Severus was referring, there was a
note of desperation in his voice that compelled Lily to truthfully answer, “No,
he’s not. You can come in.” Just as he was about to step over the threshold,
Lily said, “Wait!” She checked the hallway to make sure it was empty and pulled
out her wand. With a wave, hot air began to blow from the tip, drying Severus
from head to foot.
“Sorry,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “I’ve just
cleaned up. Come on in.”
Keeping her wand readily available, she stepped aside and
allowed him entrance into her home. A million questions ran through Lily’s
mind, tripping over themselves as they raced to the
fore of her thoughts. Ignoring all but one, she said, “I don’t want to sound
inhospitable, but why are you here, Severus?” She leaned against the door,
folded her arms across her chest, and unleashed what she hoped was her stoniest
expression. “Why not go to one of your other… friends?” Lily hoped she’d
laced the word with enough contempt to let him know she was well aware of the
company he continued to keep.
His dark eyes rested on her wand for the briefest of moments
before scanning the room and looking in every direction but Lily’s. She didn’t
know why, but this irritated her immeasurably.
“I… I had nowhere else to go.”
“Well, why did you have to go anywhere? Why can’t you
just give me a straight answer—?”
“She’s dead,” Severus said flatly, finally locking his gaze onto
Lily’s. “My mother, she’s… dead.”
Lily felt her stomach drop to her knees. She didn’t know
what she’d expected him to say, but it definitely wasn’t that. “Oh, Severus,
I’m so sorry,” she said, crossing the physical distance between them and
throwing her arms around his neck. As the distance of time, mistrust, and
heated emotions began to melt away, a small part of her couldn’t help noticing
how much higher she had to reach to hug him. It was also apparent that he had
no qualms about hugging her back as he had when they were still in school. In
fact, he practically clung to her, as if he was being sucked into a powerful
void and she was his anchor.
“Your hair still smells of vanilla,” he whispered, his hand
slowly inching up the nape of her neck. “Some things never change, do they?”
As he began to weave his fingers through her hair, Lily’s
eyelids fluttered closed of their own volition. Her mind began to journey back
several years to the first time the two of them held each other this way.
Remembering the outcome of that embrace sobered her—they were heading into
Drawing herself away from him, she said, “Why don’t you sit
down?” She took him by the hand and led him to the small dining table in the
kitchenette. Severus silently removed his coat, revealing a white shirt and
black trousers. He draped the coat over the back of his chair and took his
Turning to the cupboards, Lily said, “I’ll make some
coffee.” She reached on tiptoe to retrieve two mugs from the cupboard, feeling
his eyes on her as she did so. “I have to warn you,” she said, looking over her
shoulder to see that Severus was indeed staring at her, “it’s instant. I hope
that’s okay.” His eyes had a glazed look to them, and she knew that his mind
was not in the here and now.
“What?” he asked.
Setting about the extremely uncomplicated task of scooping
coffee granules into the two mugs, Lily thought about her unexpected visitor.
The fact that he had risked coming face to face with James told her just how
desperate Severus had been to see her. Despite her angry words the last time
they spoke, it seemed that he still cared for her a great deal. Otherwise, he
would have sought out someone else, wouldn’t he? Of course, he himself had said
that he’d had nowhere—and presumably no one—else to turn to.
Hot water spouted from the tip of her wand into the mugs.
“How do you take your coffee?”
“Of course you do,” she muttered under her breath.
After preparing her own coffee with plenty of milk and
sugar, she set both mugs down on the table and sat across from Severus. As he
slowly reached for his coffee, Lily studied him. The dark circles under his
eyes seemed to intensify the blackness of his irises, causing his eyes to look
even more fathomless and completely devoid of light. His usually straight back
was slumped and made him look boneless like a dark rag doll. She watched him
grimace at his first bitter sip and waited for the inevitable insult that never
The two of them sat there for several minutes—Severus
staring at his mug and Lily silently sipping as she waited for him to speak.
When they were younger there were times when she had to pry information out of
him, often pestering him until he caved in just to be left alone. Lily now
found herself in uncharted waters. Despite the years of estrangement between
them, Severus had willingly come to her this time. Rather than bombard him with
endless questions as she had done in the past, she thought it best to patiently
wait for him to begin the conversation on his terms.
“I found her,” he said, breaking the silence as he gazed
into his coffee the same way a Seer would study tea leaves.
“Yesterday. I found her in her bed. She had died in her
“Had she been ill?” Lily knew his mother had not been very
old, and illness seemed a logical reason a relatively young woman would die in
“No. They transferred her… body to St. Mungo’s to be
examined. She was in good health, but her heart just stopped functioning.”
“Well, do they know why?”
“The healer rattled off a load of technical piffle that
basically meant, ‘We haven’t got a clue.’”
With the life Severus chose to live, there was another
unpleasant possibility. Lily was reluctant to voice it, but she could no longer
avoid the elephant in the room. “Her heart just stopped, did it? I think we
both know a way something like that could have happened, don’t we?”
His head snapped up and he looked stricken, as though her
words had slapped him across the face. She forced herself to look into
his eyes as she said, “Haven’t pissed off any of your mates, have you?”
“Do you think I would be sitting here with you if I thought
foul play was involved?”
Severus was right when he’d said that some things never
change. Lily knew that if he truly suspected someone had used the Killing Curse
on his mother he’d hunt that sorry sod down and strike back at him with no more
thought than swatting at a fly. “No, you wouldn’t. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have
“Don’t apologize. It’s nothing less than I expected.” His
eyes flicked to the slender, innocuous-looking strip of wood that was resting
on the table beside Lily’s right hand. “You know you have nothing to fear from
me, don’t you?” he asked, his eyes sweeping over her face. “You know I’d never
“Do I? Do I really? I seem to recall being very hurt by
something you did to me.”
“I’ve apologized for that! There isn’t a day that goes by that
I don’t regret what I said to you!” Severus cast his eyes toward the surface of
the table, his voice barely audible as he said, “Not one day.”
“You shattered my trust in you. All things considered, you
can’t deny me a bit of security, now can you?”
“I suppose I can’t.” Severus turned slightly, reached into
the pocket of his coat, and withdrew his wand. Lily’s hand immediately jumped
to hers, but she relaxed in an instant. He was gripping the wand by its tip,
presenting her with the handle. “Take it. If it will give you peace of mind and
stop you from looking at me like you expect me to attack you at any given
moment, you can have it.”
Lily stared at the wand in his steady grasp. There was a
momentary battle between her heart and her mind that kept her from immediately
grabbing it. She looked into his eyes, her heart seeing the strange boy who
befriended her years ago, her mind seeing the man who had pledged his
allegiance to… him. She did know that he’d never physically harm
her. Yet try as she might, Lily just couldn’t trust him completely.
As she reached for the wand, she paused. Maybe this isn’t
about me trusting him; it’s about him trusting me. Once she had his wand in
her possession, there was nothing stopping her from restraining him and alerting
the authorities that a suspected Death Eater was in her home. Severus wasn’t
stupid; he had known this was a possibility the moment he’d made up his mind to
visit her. By relinquishing his wand to her, he was leaving himself vulnerable,
a condition that he’d never been comfortable with. With one seemingly simple
gesture, Severus was telling her that even after all the time and distance
between them he trusted her as he trusted no one else.
Lily’s hand closed over the handle of the wand, her index finger
extending along its shaft. As she secured her grip on the wand, the pad of her
finger rested against his. She moved to take the wand from Severus, only to
find that he continued to keep a firm grip on it. It was on the tip of her
tongue to tell him that though she had not asked for his wand it was too late
to renege on his offer. Then she felt his finger lightly brush over hers. In
that fleeting moment, his motive was clear and the scolding died on her lips.
Ignoring the slight shiver that ran down her spine at his
touch, Lily gently tugged the wand again, and this time Severus let it go. She
set it on the table next to hers and looked up at him, waiting once again for
him to pick up the thread of conversation.
“She gave up,” Severus said, looking down at his open palms.
“What do you mean?”
“Do you remember what it was like after my father died?”
Lily nodded. She remembered the summer between their fourth
and fifth years vividly, recollections flitting through her mind like the
scenes of a film committed to memory. She remembered being shocked by Severus’s
indifference at learning his father had drunk himself to death. She remembered
feeling a need to be there for him, holding his limp hand in hers during the
funeral. She remembered seeing his mother, who had seemed to age twenty years
overnight, and thinking that the poor woman must have siphoned Severus’s pain,
compounding her own loss. She remembered not seeing Severus for days afterward,
wanting to help him deal with his loss and feeling powerless because she didn’t
“After his funeral, my mother was a wreck. She would not
take care of herself. She didn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. She would stay in bed
all day, everyday, crying. When he died it was as though she had died along
with him. So I stayed at home. I took care of her when she refused to take care
of herself. I was too scared to leave her alone. I was afraid of… what she
might do… to herself.”
Lily’s eyes widened in astonishment. At the time she’d
thought Severus had just needed a little time to himself to grieve or deal with
his father’s death in his own way. She never could have imagined that he’d been
keeping a suicide watch over his own mother.
“Severus,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper, “I’d
no idea things were that bad, that you thought she might… You never should have
had to deal with that on your own.”
“There was no one else. If I hadn’t done it who would have?”
“I wish you would have come to me.”
“What could you have done? She was too far gone to care for
her own son. I doubt you would have had an effect. Besides,” he said, his dark
eyes latching onto hers, “I didn’t want your holiday ruined because of me.”
“You thought I cared about that? You thought I cared more
about some stupid family trip than I did about you? We were friends! I would’ve
dropped everything to be there for you!”
“Exactly!” he exclaimed, pounding his fist on the table.
Quickly regaining his composure, Severus flattened his hands on the table. “You
might not have cared, but I did. I wanted you to be happy and far enough away
that my family’s misery couldn’t touch you.”
Lily opened her mouth to tell Severus she’d spent the entire
trip worried about him and hadn’t much enjoyed it, but changed her mind. He had
taken on a huge responsibility and shouldered a considerable amount of anguish
all by himself, just so she could have a fun summer holiday. She didn’t want
him to think that his sacrifice had been made in vain.
Severus took another sip of coffee and grimaced again. “You
call this swill coffee?” he asked, pushing the mug away from himself
as though its presence was an affront to his very existence.
There’s the insult I was expecting earlier, Lily
thought. Someone must be feeling a little better. As she gritted her
teeth and briefly wondered why she had invited him into her home, Lily managed
to utter, “I warned you it was instant.”
“At any rate,” said Severus, completely ignoring his
rudeness, “she finally got out of bed a week later. Little by little, she began
to do more and more for herself, but she was never really the same after that.
It was as though she was doing everything by rote. She was doing things because
they were what she had always done—they were routine. I could have been a
strange boarder living in the house for all the consideration she gave me. She
didn’t even come with me to see me off to Hogwarts that September, remember?”
“Yeah, I do,” Lily said, slowly nodding her head. She
brought her knees up to her chest and hugged them, her toes hanging off the
edge of her seat. “I thought it was strange at first, but then I just assumed
that maybe you’d asked her not to come, that you thought the others would try
to use her presence to embarrass you or something.”
“I know. That was what I had hoped you would believe. I
didn’t want to talk about it, any of it. I just wanted to forget it had ever
“So,” he continued, “that is the way things were between my
mother and me. I would come home during the holidays, and we would coexist like
two strangers living under the same roof. I just couldn’t understand why she
reacted that way when he died.”
“Severus, he was her husband! Why wouldn’t she grieve for
“Tobias Snape was a drunk, a bully, and a coward,” said
Severus, his tone as bitter as the coffee. “He was a waste of space not even
worth shedding one tear over.”
“He may have been all of those things and more, but he did
love you and your mother. He worked to take care of his family when he could
have left you both to fend for yourselves.”
“Ah, yes,” he sneered, “you and my mother both shared the
same stupidly optimistic theory that my father was actually capable of caring for
someone other than himself, despite all the evidence to the contrary.”
“When it comes to you I suppose I’ve always been stupidly
optimistic, haven’t I?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Don’t play dumb, Severus, you know full well what I mean.”
“I don’t want to get into any of that. That’s not why I came
“Why did you come here?”
“I’M ALONE!” he bellowed, his chair flying out from under
him as he jumped out of it. Startled, Lily shoved her feet against the floor,
quickly pushing her own chair away from the table, and slammed herself—chair
and all—against the counter behind her.
Bracing his hands on the table, Severus stood over it and
said, “I have no one! I could fall off the face of the earth and there’s not
one person in this world who would care!” He exhaled slowly as he hung his
head, his shoulders slumping as if the last shred of hope he’d possessed had
drifted from him on the current of that expelled breath. “No one… not even
“Severus, that’s not—”
“I had hoped,” he interrupted, “that maybe there was some
trace of what we were to each other...” He drew himself up to his full height
and said, “But you said it yourself. I chose my way, and you chose yours. It
was stupid of me to think that you might be able to see past that. I think it
is time for me to leave now.”
Lily saw his hand reach toward the two wands still lying
innocently on the table. She leapt from her seat and slammed her hand on top of
them. “You can’t leave. Not yet.”
“I have imposed upon you long enough,” said Severus in the
cold, formal manner one reserves for passers-by on the street. “Please give me
my wand, and I’ll be on my way.”
“Stop speaking to me like that!”
“Like what? Like a stranger? It’s not as if we’re friends
anymore, Mrs. Potter. You have made that abundantly clear.”
Lily could feel the prickly tingle in her eyes, that
accurate, fool-proof indicator that tears were soon to follow. Blinking to
stave off the inevitable, she said, “I’m sorry, Severus! I’ve tried to just
forget all the pain you caused me, but I can’t! I want to help you deal with
your loss, but at the same time there’s a part of me that wants you to hurt. It
wants to lash out at you and cause you the same pain that you inflicted on me
all those years ago.”
Her vision began to blur, and she gave up, closing her eyes
to let the pooled tears slide down her face. “I’m a terrible person, and I’m
sorry. If you want to leave, I can’t force you to stay.” Lily used the back of
her hand to wipe the tears off her face. “But I wish you would.”
“I don’t see why I should,” Severus muttered, casting his
eyes elsewhere to avoid her gaze. “You don’t care about me.”
“But I do care, Severus! I’ve always cared!”
“DON’T LIE TO ME!” he screamed, still refusing to look Lily
in the eye. “Do not stand there telling me things you think I want to hear just
to assuage your own guilt!”
“That’s not what I’m doing. I-I can prove it to you.” Lily
picked up her wand, pointed it toward her bedroom, and said, “Accio chest!”
Within moments an intricately carved wooden chest about the size of a breadbox
soared into the room and landed on her outstretched hands. She shifted the
chest under one arm, walking over to Severus and grabbing his hand.
“Give me a few minutes more, and listen to what I have to
say.” Lily began walking toward the sofa, tugging his hand when he remained
immobile. “If you don’t like what I have to say, you can leave, all right?” She
pulled again and this time Severus followed, both of them taking care to step
over his long forgotten chair. When they reached the sofa, they both sat down,
sinking into the plush cushions.
“Do you remember this?” Lily asked.
“Of course I remember it,” Severus said, irritation causing
his voice to raise slightly, “it’s your treasure chest. I always wondered what
you kept in it. When we were children, I would’ve given anything to have had a
half-hour alone with it.”
“You know the things that are inside this chest are very
important to me and very personal. I’m not about to show you everything inside
it, because there are things in this chest that have nothing to do with you.
But there are a few things I think you should see.”
Lily set the chest on her lap and tapped its clasp, silently
unlocking it. She pushed back the lid and pulled out an envelope, slightly
yellowed with age. Placing the envelope on Severus’s lap, she said, “You should
know what that is. I’m sure you kept yours, too.”
Severus ran his fingers over the broken wax seal. “Your
first Hogwarts letter.”
“I didn’t keep it for the obvious reasons. Well, I did,”
she said, rolling her eyes, “but there was another reason I kept it—a more
important reason. When Professor Dumbledore came to explain everything to my
parents, when he put that letter in my hand, I knew in that moment I could
trust you, Severus. Everything happened just the way you said it would, and I
knew then that you were really my friend.”
Lily didn’t dare look at him because she knew she’d lose her
nerve if she did. She reached back into the chest to pull out another folded
piece of parchment. “Here,” she said, “take a look at this. But be careful when
you unfold it, the creases are worn from being refolded so many times.”
She watched as Severus carefully unfolded the parchment. His
hands were trembling, telling her that he knew exactly what he would see when
the parchment was opened.
“My sketch,” he said, his fingers lightly tracing the
outline of a portrait of her he had drawn their fifth year. “You kept it?” He
looked at her with confusion in his eyes, strongly
reminding Lily of that little boy she met by the swings all those years ago.
She looked down at her hand-drawn doppelganger sitting by
the lake on a blistery autumn day, tugging a locket back and forth along its chain.
“I’ve taken that picture out countless times and wondered where you were… what
you were doing… if you were safe. You don’t draw anymore, do you?”
Severus slowly shook his head. “Not since… I had no one to
show them to. You were the only one who ever saw them.”
“I’ve got one more thing to show you,” Lily said, carefully
refolding the parchment and placing it and her letter back inside the chest.
“Remember the locket I was wearing in that drawing?”
“Of course I do. It was the locket you gave to Petunia, but
she sent it back to you with that letter.”
“Yes, that letter. The one where she said I was a blight on the family tree and not to write to her ever
again. I wore that locket around my neck with that letter tucked inside of it,
subconsciously punishing myself for being who I am… until I got so angry with
you that day fourth year.”
“You threw it at me,” Severus said, the cock of his eyebrow
cracking his sullen expression. Lily bit back a smile; she had forgotten that
he did that, usually when he thought someone was being less than honest, but
occasionally when he was amused.
“And you kept it. You transfigured the engraved ‘P’ on it to
an ‘L’ and returned it to me for Christmas. One of the best Christmas gifts
I’ve ever received.” Lily reached into the chest and withdrew the locket. Light
glinted off its polished surface as she draped it over Severus’s open palms.
“It looks brand new.”
“I take it out and clean it regularly. I…” Lily whispered,
“I wore it on my wedding day.”
Severus snapped his head up to stare at her. “How did you
“It was my something old. To this day James thinks my great
grandmother gave it to me. I feel guilty every time I look at it, but I can’t
bear to let it go.”
“You’ve kept all these… mementos all this time?”
“Yes,” she answered, her fingertips lightly grazing his palm
as she picked up her locket. She gently placed it back inside the chest and
closed the lid. “I’ve kept them safe in this chest.”
Severus cocked his eyebrow again, this time as an act of
incredulity. “He has never tried to find out what is inside?”
“No, James hasn’t. I told him I’d turn him into a
cockroach and crush him under my foot if I ever found out he’d tried to open it.”
Smirking, she smugly added, “That threat was a powerful motivator for you too,
as I recall.”
He snorted. “The only reason that so-called threat ever had
any affect was because I thought you’d irrevocably turn me into some Kafkaesque
monstrosity, not because I thought you could successfully do what you claimed.”
“Either way it scared your sorry self straight, didn’t it?
Well, that day anyway.” Lily couldn’t resist taking the mickey out of him like
she’d done so many times during their childhood. She moved the chest to the
coffee table and twisted on the sofa so she was facing him. For the first time
since Severus had arrived, there was the barest trace of a smile around the
corners of his mouth.
Taking his hands in hers, she said, “Listen to me, Severus.
Even after all this time you know me well enough to know that I’ve never been
the type of person who tells others what they want to hear. I wasn’t lying when
I said that I still care about you. Even though we stopped being friends,
there’s always been a part of me that cares for you… and worries for you... and
prays for you. The part of me that’s you will always be here.” She lifted their
joined hands and placed them over her rapidly beating heart. “Always.”
There was an unfamiliar sparkle of moisture in his eyes. Tears.
In all the time she had known Severus, she couldn’t recall ever seeing him cry,
not even when his father died. Lily wondered if he had yet shed any tears for
How presumptuous, scoffed a small voice in her head
that sounded very much like Severus. Did it ever occur to you that the tears
in his eyes are for his mother? A wave of guilt washed over Lily,
and she realized that she was still clasping his hands against her chest.
“Now,” said Lily, dropping his hands as if they had burned
her, “you never finished explaining what you meant when you said your mother
Severus folded his hands in his lap, his eyes now desert
dry. “When I found her, she was in bed surrounded by pictures of her and my
father together when they were young. This sounds completely asinine, but I
think she willed herself to die.”
“It doesn’t sound asinine at all,” Lily said. “You said that
she was never the same after your father died. Her heart was broken.”
“I cannot understand why she didn’t just… end it all sooner!
If she was just going to give up, why do it now?”
“Maybe she held on as long as she did for you, Severus.
Maybe she wanted to make sure you could take care of yourself before she…” Lily licked her lips, finding it hard to say, “…before
she decided life wasn’t worth living anymore,” out loud.
“Last week, I was beginning to think that maybe she was
getting better, that she was finally beginning to move on.” His wry, humorless
chuckle filled the air between them. “We actually had a real conversation,
although looking back on it now it seems as though she was putting her affairs
“What’d she say?”
“She apologized to me,” Severus replied. “She said it was
her fault my father was the way he was. She didn’t tell him she was a witch
until after they had already married. According to her, that’s what led him to
drink—his inability to understand our world and knowing that his inadequacies
would hinder his ever being a part of it.” He leaned over, resting his forearms
on his knees. “She also apologized for not being stronger. She admitted that
she should have taken me and left him, but she couldn’t. She… loved him too
“It sounds like she wanted to you understand him… to forgive
Severus slowly turned his head to look at her, his eyes cold
and hard. “That will never happen. Nothing and no one forced him to live his
life the way that he did. He chose to drink himself into oblivion instead of
facing his problems head on. He was weak.”
Choices, Lily thought, sighing. We are who we
choose to be. She wondered if Severus was really listening to what he was
saying. If not for the alcoholism and weakness, he could have been talking
about himself. Thinking it best to keep this thought to herself,
Lily continued to listen silently.
“There was something else she said. She said the Prince
family, her family, was cursed.”
“Er, literally or figuratively?”
“Mother said several generations of Princes have had a
proclivity for being… doomed when it comes to matters of the heart, or as she
put it, for falling in love with the wrong people. At the time I was certain
she meant it in the figurative sense, but now,” he murmured, his eyes searching
her face, “now I’m not so sure.”
Lily’s eyes widened and her hand went to her mouth, covering
it in shock. Severus had all but admitted to being in love with her. She’d
always suspected as much, but to hear him almost say it made it shockingly
His sudden determination not to look at Lily let her know he
was aware of his slip of the tongue. He stood and said, “I have to go.”
Lily swiveled, kneeling on the cushions and leaning over the
back of the sofa to watch him walk to the kitchenette to pick up his wand.
“Severus, are you in l—”
“There are arrangements that must be made,” he said,
interrupting her as he righted the knocked over chair and picked up his coat
which had fallen with it. He kept his back to her as he swept the coat around
his shoulders and shrugged into it, tucking his wand in a pocket. “I cannot
stay here any longer. Good-bye, Lily.”
She wasn’t aware of leaving the sofa. One moment Lily was
watching Severus walk toward the door, and the next moment she found herself
standing behind him, gripping one of his arms as his other hand grasped the
doorknob. Before he walked out the door and out of her life forever, she had to
“Do you love me?” she demanded. Lily watched his back rise
and fall as he took deep, shuddering breaths. She could not see his face; she
hadn’t a clue, not an inkling of what was going on in his mind. Relaxing her
grip, Lily slid her hand down his arm and grasped his hand, lacing their
fingers together. “Please… just tell me.”
Severus slowly turned around, his head bowed. With her free
hand, Lily tipped his chin up until she could see his pale visage. There were
tears in his eyes again, but this time a lone prisoner had managed to escape
its dark prison and was sliding down his face. She brushed the tear away with
her thumb and cupped the side of his face. He covered her hand with his own,
slowly brought it to his lips, and placed a single kiss in the palm of her
“Yes,” he whispered against her palm, “so much so that I am
consumed by it. I’ve tried to forget you, to replace you, but I can’t. I wake up
alone everyday, and my first thoughts in the morning are always of you. As sure
as I am standing here I know that my last thoughts this side of the veil will
consist of the same.”
Releasing her hand, Severus lowered his forehead until it
was resting against her own. Lily could feel the trembling in his hands as he
lifted them up to cup her face. His hair was a heavy black drape enclosing
their faces, blocking out everything except the new reality that she might just
be in love with two men.
I can’t be in love with two different people, she
thought, enjoying the feel of his cool hands on her face all the while. Things
like this only happen in smutty romance novels! They don’t happen to normal
people like me, do they? Of course they don’t. This is platonic affection that
I’m feeling for him and nothing more. I’m just a little confused right now,
Severus lifted his head and looked into Lily’s eyes, holding
her gaze as though the secrets of the universe could be found within their depths.
All of her rationalizing ceased.
“When I found her dead,” he said, stroking her cheekbone
with his thumb, “there was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be than with
you. If I didn’t know you, if you had never been a part of my life, I do not
know where I would be right now or what I would be doing. I know you will never
care for me the way I care for you, but right now I feel as though there is at
least one person who cares whether I live or die, even if only for a while.”
Severus leaned closer to her, and Lily’s pulse quickened in
anticipation of the kiss that was sure to follow. She felt his moist, warm
breath on her lips as shallow pants issued forth from his mouth, and she
wondered why he had hesitated before making his final move. Was he trying to
torture her, hoping that her expectation would drive her to the brink of
madness? Maybe he was giving her an out. He had made his choice, and now he was
waiting for Lily to make hers. He was waiting for her to initiate the
kiss rather than passively accepting his advances. Perhaps he wanted the
assurance that this was something they both wanted. In that moment, Lily
realized she did.
Hoping her actions would be a balm to his grieving heart, she closed the virtually nonexistent space between
them and seized his lips with her own. For a moment his hold on her face
tightened, expressing to Lily his surprise at her decision. Then his fingers
relaxed and slid up into her hair, sending ripples of pleasure from her scalp,
down the length of her body, and all the way down to her bare, red-tipped toes.
When they were younger, Severus had never been one to do
anything half-heartedly. Lily had always admired his all-or-nothing approach to
his studies. As he deepened their kiss, she was pleased to discover that this
attitude applied to his other endeavors as well. This man needed no wand to
conduct magic. There was magic in his words… in his lips… in his hands. Magic
that was now telling her that she needed to get closer to him. She wrapped her
arms around him and squeezed him tight.
This is definitely not platonic affection.
Lily surprised herself by actually forming a coherent thought through the haze
of desire that was rapidly saturating her mind and body.
“Insatiable,” Severus murmured between kisses.
“Who’s insatiable?” Lily managed to utter on a moan. She
playfully tugged on his bottom lip with her teeth, releasing it as she asked,
“You or me?”
“I am,” he said, pulling back to explore her face with his
eyes. “I have hungered for you, thirsted for you for so long. Now that I have
had a sip of you, I want more. I need more. I feel as though I’ve been
drinking ocean water. The more of you I drink in, the harder it is to slake the
thirst.” His dark eyes locked onto hers as he said, “I need more of you, Lily.”
She knew exactly what Severus was asking of her. He was
giving her another out. Lily had no delusions that he was doing this out of
respect for her marriage. No, this was for him and him alone. Without saying it
explicitly, he was telling her that if they were to continue beyond this point
there would be more than a few forbidden kisses between them. All or nothing,
Lily knew that the choice she made in that moment would
affect her entire future, but it wasn’t a choice she was making for herself—she
was making it for him. There was no one else in all of Creation that could ease
his pain but her. She leaned forward to kiss his temple and whispered in his
ear, “Then drink your fill, Sev.”
“Say it again,” he said, his voice a deep rumble in his
“Not that… the last part.”
Leaving a trail of little kisses from his ear to his mouth,
Lily pulled back and smiled. “Sev.”
Without warning Severus spun the both of them around, and a yelp
escaped Lily’s throat as he slammed her back against the door. Desire—now
spiked with fear and adrenaline—coursed through her body and left her teetering
on the precipice of ecstasy. Lily closed her eyes, reveling in it. If this was
what it was like to walk on the dark side of life, she could understand why so
many—why he—had succumbed to it.
Finding her hands and linking them with his own, Severus
slid her arms up the door and over her head as his mouth lavished her neck with
passionate attention. Lily was unaccustomed to this newfound sense of reckless
abandon, and a nagging little voice of reason was fighting to be heard.
“Can’t…” she said, biting her lip in frustration. She was
trying to form thoughts into words, but the link between her brain and her
mouth was weakened each time his teeth scraped across the delicate skin of her
“Can’t what?” Severus said, pausing as he shifted his mouth
to the other side of her throat.
“You can’t… can’t mark me… can’t leave marks, Sev.”
“Use a spell… a glamour.”
Oh, right. Witch. With that final thought, Lily
mentally smacked that pesky voice into a corner. She knew what she was doing
was wrong, so very wrong, but this was what he needed from her and she refused
to feel guilty about it.
Feeling air on her neck, Lily opened her eyes to see that
Severus had abandoned her throat and was now feasting his eyes on her lips.
“What are you waiting for?” she asked, her chest rapidly rising and falling
with every shaky breath she managed to take in.
“You know what I’m waiting for.” His lips curled into a
smirk and her stomach flipped. How she had missed that smug expression.
“Kiss me,” she commanded, gasping as he crushed his mouth
against hers so hard she knew that her neck would not be the only part of her
body to be marked by him.
Lily longed to touch him, to feel his body underneath her
hands. She tried to free her hands from his grip, but he held them tighter in
response. She arched her back off of the door, desperate to feel more than just
his lips and hands on her body. Lily could feel a grin in his kiss as he held
his body just out of reach.
He’s teasing me, she thought savagely. He wants me
to beg. I’ll just have to show him I’m not the begging type. Just as
suddenly as Severus had pinned her against the door, Lily hooked her left leg
around him and yanked him forward with all her might, forcing a surprised grunt
out of him in the process.
Pulling his lips free from her, Severus returned the wicked
grin that Lily was giving him. “Point well taken,” he rasped and released her
Lily wasted no time in helping him shed the black coat that
he was still wearing and freeing his shirt from the waistband of his trousers. She
ran her hands underneath his shirt, sliding them up his stomach and over his
chest. “Let’s take this to the sofa, shall we?” she suggested, draping her arms
around his neck.
Severus hitched up her other leg and hefted her up in
response, eliciting a shriek from Lily in the process. He carried her over to
the sofa and sat down so that she was now straddling his lap.
Things progressed rather quickly from that point. Before she
knew it her t-shirt had been thrown over the back of the sofa, and Severus had
pushed one of her bra straps aside so he could focus on her bare shoulder. His
grip on her body was still firm—controlling and possessive—like he was marking
her as his and his alone. His touch was nothing at all like her husband’s,
which was passionate but gentle. There was selflessness in James’s touch, as
though his own pleasure was heightened by giving instead of taking.
James, she thought and her body tensed. From the
moment she decided to kiss Severus, Lily had been careful not to think her husband’s
name. Now that she had, she could see his laughing face in her mind’s eye. What
the hell am I doing?
Severus leaned back against the cushions and frowned.
“You’re thinking of him, aren’t you?”
“I love him, Severus. I can’t do this to him. I can’t—” Her
voice broke as shameful tears welled up in her eyes.
For a moment Severus said nothing. He simply stroked his
hands back and forth over the worn denim covering her thighs. Even as she sat
there feeling guilty about betraying her husband, she wondered how the same
action would feel on her naked skin. Lily knew she should still his movements,
but she didn’t.
“You know I will not force you to do anything you don’t want
to do,” he said, his voice deep and soothing. Severus stopped his hands. “But
if we are to go any further, it has to be just you and me. Not you, me, and him.”
The two of them sat there staring at each other for a minute
or two as Lily tried to make a decision. She loved James and if he ever found
out about this it would devastate him. On the other hand, this was probably the
last time she would ever see Severus; she wasn’t naïve enough to believe that
any of this meant he would stop living his life the way he had chosen to live
it. She knew they would never see each other or speak of this encounter again.
“I knew it,” Severus spat. Apparently he had taken the heavy
silence between them as a bad sign. He began to remove Lily from his lap, but
she pushed him back against the sofa and slowly began unbuttoning his shirt. He
grabbed her hands, impeding her progress. She looked up at him and saw his
black eyes widened in shock.
“Why?” he asked, visibly confused by her decision.
Lily pulled her hands away from his, pushed his hair back
from his face, and placed a kiss on his forehead. “Before you walk out that
door, before you leave me forever, I want you to know that you are loved. I
want you to know that even though we may not ever see each other again, you’re
not alone in this world. If you die tomorrow, you will be mourned and you will
She hugged his head to her chest and kissed his forehead
again, whispering, “It’ll be all right,” when she felt beads of moisture
rolling down the top of her breast and into her bra. In that moment, time
ceased to have meaning. As they sat there holding each other, they had no past
or future—their present was the only thing that mattered.
A knock at the door made both of them jump. Severus quickly
clamped his hand over Lily’s mouth, holding his index finger up to his own
lips. Maybe she will leave, he mouthed, clearly
thinking it was a neighbor at the door. The next minute seemed to last an
eternity. Just when the two of them were about to relax, there was another
knock, this time accompanied by a male voice saying, “Lily, are you there?”
Lily pulled Severus’s hand away and mouthed, Sirius! Horror
caused her eyes to stretch to their limits.
“Yeah!” she yelled, “I’ll be there in a minute!” She jumped
out of Severus’s lap and began a frantic search for her t-shirt.
“Did you know he was coming?” hissed Severus as he followed
behind Lily, snatching his coat from the floor and digging through the pockets
for his wand.
“I forgot!” she hissed back, wildly shoving her shirt over
her head. “What are you doing?”
“I am preparing myself for the inevitable moment when he
bursts through the door!”
“Um… Lily,” called Sirius’s muffled voice from the other
side of the door, “are you okay?”
“I’m fine! Just a minute!” she answered, pushing Severus
toward the bedroom door. Turning her attention to him, she whispered, “He won’t
burst through the door. He learned that lesson the hard way. A few months ago
he walked in on James and me… polishing the coffee table, so to speak.”
Severus grimaced in response to her euphemism. “I could have
lived the remainder of my life without that visual, Lily—AAAHH!” Lily covered
his mouth as he clamped his own hand over his left forearm. A quick succession
of emotions passed over his face—fear, annoyance, and something else Lily
couldn’t quite place.
“Lily, what’s going on?” Sirius sounded like he might indeed
burst through the door if she didn’t let him in soon.
“Nothing! I hit my elbow on the doorjamb! Severus,” she
said, lowering her voice again, “what’s wrong?”
Severus reached up and touched her face. “I love you, Lily
Evans.” He pulled her into him and kissed her. Lily could feel every emotion he
was carrying in his heart in that kiss. For a moment, the world fell away and
it was just the two of them, sharing this bond together. Then he pulled away
and the moment was gone. “I will always love you. Never forget that.”
“I won’t,” she replied, irritated that this delay would
cause Sirius to become even more suspicious. “Now get in the bedroom and keep
Severus swept into the bedroom without another word, closing
the door behind him. Lily sprinted over to the kitchen table and grabbed her
wand. Moving over to the sink, she flipped her hair over the basin, pointed her
wand, and quietly muttered, “Aguamenti!” A jet of water softly ran over
the length of her hair much more quietly than running the tap would have. She
quickly wrung the excess water from her hair and finally made her way to the
“Sorry,” she said breathlessly as she opened the door and
let Sirius in. “You caught me as I was stepping out of the shower.”
“Oh, you didn’t have to rush to get dressed on my account,”
he replied, reaching out to give her a hug. “Answering the door completely
starkers would’ve worked just fine for me. Ow! Or not!” Sirius rubbed the spot
on his arm where Lily had just punched him. “All jokes aside, didn’t I tell you
I would be here around 4:30?”
“You did, I just forgot.” Lily walked to the sofa and began
fluffing the cushions, behaving as though nothing was amiss. However, her heart
sounded like a bass drum in her ears; she was sure it would give her away any
“I hope you’re not trying to spruce up for me. Your time
would be better spent drying your hair.” Lily looked up in time to see Sirius
grinning from ear to ear. “The drowned rat look doesn’t suit you.”
Lily narrowed her eyes at him as she replied, “I’m laughing
on the inside, Sirius. Really.”
Casting his eyes toward the kitchen table, Sirius asked,
“Had some company today, have you?”
The deafening rhythm in her ears sped up as Lily looked at
the two abandoned coffee mugs on the table. Silently cursing herself for
neglecting to obliterate this damaging evidence, she walked over to the table
and said, “For someone who says I don’t need to tidy up you certainly have no
trouble pointing out my messes.” She grabbed both mugs and poured the
unfinished coffee down the drain. “Mrs. Edison stopped by earlier, and we had a
nice chat over coffee.” I have got to get him out of here!
As if picking up on the fact that Lily wanted him gone,
Sirius said, “So, what is it I’m here to pick up exactly? James was a bit
stingy with the details.”
“Oh,” Lily replied as she washed out the mugs, her edginess
making her momentarily forget to use her wand instead. “When she heard they
weren’t doing so well my mum made a quilt for James’s parents. She just
finished it yesterday, so he wasn’t able to take it with him.”
“Mrs. Evans is a class act. It’s no mystery where you get it
from,” said Sirius, inadvertently making Lily feel
slimier than bubotuber pus. “Well, I’d better get going. I’m supposed to be
helping James cook dinner this evening, and if I’m late he’ll start without me.
I don’t think I need to tell you how big a disaster that would be, so if
you’ll just tell me where the quilt is I’ll get it and be on my way.”
No, Sirius, the real disaster would be letting you get
that quilt. Lily turned away from the sink, nervously drying her wet hands
on her jeans. “I’ll go get it for you,” she said, taking steps toward the
“No,” Sirius said, stepping in front of her and intercepting
her path. “You’re going to dry your hair and t-shirt before I see more
of you than I saw the day I… er… interrupted you and James. I’ll go get
the quilt. It’s in the bedroom, right?” Not waiting for an answer, he took long
strides toward the bedroom.
He was already to the door when Lily protested, “No, Sirius,
“Blimey!” she heard Sirius call after he’d stepped into the
Anticipating the worst, Lily raced into the bedroom,
withdrawing her wand on the way. The sight she saw as she stepped over the
threshold was a bigger shock than what she expected to find. Sirius was
standing there with the quilt in his hands, and Severus was nowhere to be seen.
He’s left me. Forever.
“This is beautiful, Lily,” Sirius said, marveling at the
quilt. He ran his hands over the intricate pattern of tessellated flowers of
varying shades of blue. “Muggles never cease to amaze me. Lady Dee will love
it,” he said, using his affectionate nickname for James’s mother. “Blue is her
“I know,” Lily said absently as her feet guided her to the
padded bench which sat at the foot of her bed. Sinking down on it, she realized
the passionate kiss and declarations of love Severus had bestowed upon her mere
minutes ago had been his farewell to her, and she had been too stupid to see
“Lily, what’s wrong?” Sirius placed the quilt on the bed
with care and knelt in front of her. Frowning, he said, “You look like you’ve
lost your best friend.”
She closed her eyes, a hollow, melancholy laugh erupting
from her. “You have no idea how true that is.”
“You miss him, don’t you?”
Lily simply nodded. She knew Sirius was speaking of James,
yet her heart was so twisted and confused she didn’t know whom she was
referring to—her husband or Severus.
“You’ll see him again soon,” Sirius said, giving her hand a
“Will I?” she asked, angry with herself as tears welled up
in her eyes.
Sirius stood up and placed a quick peck on the top of her
damp head. “Course you will. Won’t you be joining us tomorrow?”
Lily took in a deep breath, blinking away the tears. “Yes, I
will. It’s dumb, me being so emotional over this.”
“I told James it was a bad idea to leave you here by
yourself for so long. With everything that’s going on right now, I knew you’d
be worried about him. But he insisted, the stupid git.” Sirius picked up the
quilt as he added, “I’m going to let him know just how stupid he is when I see
“No, don’t do that,” Lily pleaded. “Just tell him I miss
him… and love him.”
Sirius bowed reverently as he backed out of the bedroom.
“Your wish is my command. I’ll let myself out. See you tomorrow, Red.”
“Later, Black,” she answered, a wisp of a smile flitting
across her face at the familiarity of their banter. She listened as the
annoying brother she always knew she never wanted opened the front door and
left her alone with her guilt. The silence enveloping her was less than golden.
With only her own dark thoughts to keep her company, the silence was a rusty
nail tortuously being pounded into Lily’s brain. She sat there staring at the
same spot on the wall as the dimming of the evening sky left her shrouded in
The title of this story is from the song “Where Would I Be (The Question),” by
Kindred the Family Soul. Just in case you were wondering, I decided that James’s
mother should be named Deirdra. If you liked what you read and would like to
know when I've uploaded a new story, stop by my LiveJournal from time to time
for updates (http://yemeron.livejournal.com). Reviews are love! J