Disclaimer: I do not own these
characters, settings etc; they, as ever, are the property of JK Rowling. I
offer my thanks to her for creating such intriguing characters and then
allowing us to play with them in this form.
many thanks to my excellent betas, SnorkackCatcher and PirateQueen.
by Helen H
of green. A look of … not tenderness, no, but there was pity, was there not?
Pity, from her, he would have gladly accepted. And then her eyes seemed to
recede from him, and he could not hold onto their light any longer as the
creeping blackness engulfed them both.
then there was only blackness.
was aware of nothing else for a long time. He wondered if this was his form of
existence now: an ethereal consciousness; a lone, disembodied force of
cognizance, insensible, divorced of all physical sensation … Was this an
existence? Or was this Oblivion?
even as he found himself wondering this, he became aware of a familiar pressure
against the base of his spine, and against his shoulders, and he understood
that he was lying on his back. At the same time that he discovered this, he
realised that the blackness that enveloped him was beginning to retreat, and a
fierce, red-orange glow rapidly suffused his vision. Instinctively, he raised
his arms across his face to shield his eyes. Bare arms pressed against his
eyelids. He was naked. He could feel soft grass tickling his legs, a gentle
breeze playing across his skin, the warmth of sunlight… Yet strangely he felt
no concern and no shame for his lack of clothes.
lay there for he knew not how long, basking in the sensation of the sun’s
warming rays, the smell of fresh-cut summer grass, and his own reassuring
solitude. He did not open his eyes; he didn’t dare, lest it break the enchantment.
This was peace. He could not remember experiencing such a feeling before, but
he recognised it nonetheless … He had yearned for it for so long, so very long,
but had never believed that it might one day be his …
gust of wind stirred his hair. He realised that he was curious about his
surroundings now, so he opened his eyes. He blinked in the dazzling brightness
of the sunlight. It took his eyes a few minutes to adjust and find their focus.
Blue sky, daubed with fine streaks of white cloud, greeted him. He raised a tentative
hand to his neck. There was no wound, and no blood, his skin felt smooth and
clean. He pulled himself to his feet unsteadily, his sense of balance still
sluggish, but was surprised to find no stiffness in his limbs. He realised now
that he wanted clothes, and the moment that the thought occurred to him, robes
appeared on the grass beside him. Or maybe they had been there all along, and
he had just not noticed them before.
now, he started to look about him. He was standing in the middle of a wide, grassy
lawn, stretching in every direction, as far as he could see. Despite the bright
sunlight, a strange haziness hung about the horizon, making the edges of his
vista seem blurred and insubstantial, flattening the landscape, confusing his
eyes. What was beyond? He was not quite afraid, yet he was also not sure if he
wanted to find out.
a harsh, metallic creak pierced the stillness. Severus turned sharply and
peered into the bright mist. It came from some way distant. The noise had
formed a slow, grating rhythm now. It was a forcefully familiar sound, but
frustratingly, he could not frame a memory around it, a picture of its source.
He only knew that it was nothing he feared. Boldly, he advanced towards it.
before it came into view, he realised what was making the sound: a swing, a
child’s swing! And then there it was, emerging from the mist, a playground
swing. And sitting on it, dressed in pale blue robes, her long auburn hair
flowing behind her … Lily.
nearly stumbled over his feet in his eagerness to reach her, to touch her, to
make her real. So many times he had seen her thus: a vision, a phantom, a trick
of the light; so many times he had reached for her, only to find his fingers
clasping empty air … But each time, he could never restrain the impulse of hope
and longing that made him want to touch, even knowing it would shatter the
saw him. Her face instantly broke into a brilliant smile. She jumped lightly
from the swing and ran to him, into his arms.
grasped at her, disbelieving. She felt solid, real, as real as him: her hair,
her skin, her face… Looking into those green eyes – so vibrant, so alive - he
could not doubt his own: she was really here, here with him! She looked radiant,
even more beautiful than he remembered. Feverishly, his eyes darted over her
face, greedily drinking in every detail: every freckle, every radial fleck in
her irises, every soft strand of red-gold. He breathed her name reverently.
She laughed and he felt her body tremble with the motion, felt his own heart
explode with happiness. He laughed too, and folded her into a tight embrace,
closing his eyes to inhale her scent, to intoxicate his senses completely.
this Heaven?” he whispered, placing a kiss in her hair.
gave a tinkling laugh in response and pushed him gently to loosen his hold.
“Severus, please …”
he dropped his arms and stepped back, suddenly embarrassed. “Sorry, Lily, I -”
captured his hands in her own and beamed at him. “Don’t be sorry, Severus! He
did it! Harry did it!” she exclaimed excitedly.
gazed at her blankly, not quite comprehending. “Did - ?”
defeated Voldemort! Voldemort is dead, Severus - every last bit of him!
He can’t return – not ever!” She glowed with her happiness.
he repeated, scarcely daring to believe her words. He seized her shoulders and
peered into her eyes, frantically searching her face for answers to the myriad
questions that flooded his mind. “Truly dead?”
then …” His last task, commissioned by Dumbledore … If Voldemort was dead that
meant … He swallowed and tightened his grip on her. “Pot -Harry is … dead
cupped his face in her hands, tenderly. “No, Severus! He lives! He lives!
My son lives!” The smile which lit her features was one of such unbounded joy
that he could not doubt the truth of her words, yet …
– how?” he managed to stammer, confused. “Dumbledore told me that Harry needed
to die in order to complete …” Even as he said it, he realised his error: when
had Dumbledore ever given him all the facts?
he did. When he understood what he had to do, when he had watched your memories
--” She gathered his hands in hers again and raised them to her lips. “Thank
you,” she mouthed, the words lost in her throat. She took a steadying breath
before she continued. “By allowing Voldemort to kill him - Voldemort,
who had Harry’s own blood – my blood – running through his veins - the
fragment of Voldemort’s soul which clung to Harry’s was destroyed. But Harry’s
own, pure soul was unharmed by Voldemort’s Killing Curse, and he was able to
return to the Living and resume the battle.”
widened in disbelief, he gaped stupidly at her, still struggling to process her
words. It was too much to take in all at once. The boy, it seemed, had survived
Voldemort’s Killing curse for a second time. Did he have some special
magical powers that allowed him to repel or resist the Killing Curse? Never in
the history of wizards had anyone possessed such an ability. How was it
possible, then, that Harry Potter did? Too many questions. He shook his
head. One question, however, was more pressing.
so he – killed - the Dark Lord?” he asked. Even if Potter had an
extraordinary talent for surviving the Killing Curse, he could scarcely credit
that the boy had the power to kill the Dark Lord; ‘mediocre’ he had
called him, and he believed it still.
was killed by his own arrogance and ignorance,” she answered, a sneer in her
voice, “not by Harry. Voldemort killed you to acquire mastery of the Elder
Wand, but he didn’t realise that you had never been its Master – that
dubious privilege went to the boy Draco Malfoy, who Disarmed Dumbledore on top
of the Astronomy Tower before you arrived …”
did not finish her sentence and he was grateful for it.
he repeated sharply. “Draco was the Master of Voldemort’s wand?” Despite
himself, a laugh escaped his throat. “But Draco has been using his mother’s
wand since Easter, when Potter stole his wand and – and …”
said Lily, nodding encouragingly, her eyes wide and bright.
mind reeled. “Then…”
was the master of the Elder Wand! Ever since he overcame Draco and snatched his
wand, Harry has been the true master of Voldemort’s wand!” She laughed. “Oh,
it’s beautiful, isn’t it? Don’t you see, Sev? Voldemort faced Harry with his
super-powerful Deathstick – but the wand obeyed Harry, and Voldemort was
killed when his own Killing Curse rebounded on him – again!”
this time for good? He truly is dead?” he demanded urgently, fighting to
process everything she was telling him. Voldemort had been killed by his own
parts of Voldemort’s soul remain. Harry and his friends destroyed them all.”
… this is good news,” he murmured. Finally, he allowed himself to believe it.
and sit down, Sev,” said Lily softly, close to his ear. She placed a hand to
his elbow and led him over to the swings, lowering him gently into one of the
seats. The swing creaked as she sat down in the seat next to his.
did not raise his head before he began to speak again. “Most of my life, I’ve
been working for this … ever since that moment when I realised he was after you,
Lily … Knowing that it was my information that sent him to your door …
I’ve never forgiven myself, Lily, never …
placed a hand lightly on his shoulder. “I forgive you, Severus. I
forgave you long ago. And you looked after Harry. You helped him. He never knew
until it was too late. He can’t thank you, but I can.” She covered his hands
with her small, pale one. “Thank you, Severus. You’ve been so brave.”
words from her! How he had longed to hear them! He had never needed any other
form of recognition from anyone else; not from Harry Potter, and not even from
Dumbledore. Lily’s approval was the only one that mattered. “I did it for
you,” he managed to choke out. “Dumbledore said it was the best way to honour
your memory, and your sacrifice.”
was. The best way: protecting my son.”
heard the quiver in her voice and when he looked up he was not surprised to see
her eyes glistening brightly with tears.
never loved anyone else, you know,” he blurted. Immediately, he felt a sting of
shame. He did not want to burden her with the responsibility for his own
misplaced feelings; they were his alone to bear. He had never blamed her for
not returning his affections, and he didn’t want her to think that he did.
gave his hands a gentle squeeze. Her smile was pained. “I know. And I am sorry
for it, Sev. I wished you could have -” She stopped herself and sighed sadly.
She patted his hands before withdrawing her own. “But, it’s no matter now.”
he agreed bleakly.
sat for some moments in silence. He twisted his hands through the chains of
the swing, felt the cool, hard metal press against his flesh; the asphalt felt
rough and crumbly beneath his bare toes. Eventually, he lifted his head. He
surveyed his surroundings with an air of detached interest.
is this place?” he asked, narrowing his eyes.
inclined her head. “Look around you. What do you see?”
there are the swings, of course, and, if I’m not mistaken, that --” he
pointed towards a tall form assuming shape a few feet from them “– is a
children’s slide …” It was now most definitely a slide. He gestured in the
other direction. “And there is a roundabout. Using my astounding powers
of deduction, I’d say we were in a children’s playground.” He frowned. “It
looks very like…” He trailed off as he scanned the skyline for the distinctive,
saw it now. A wry smile curled his lips. “Like the playground in Crompton Park. You remember?”
smiled. “Yes, I remember.”
there were …” He stopped. He had been going to say ‘trees’, but now as he
looked again, he realised that he had been mistaken. There were trees
dotted about the landscape: a flank of tall, leafy elms which lined the path
from the gates on Arkwright Street; the clump of trees and bushes which hid the
canalside from view; the magnificent horse chestnut that he and Lily had
plundered for conkers in that glorious Autumn before they left for Hogwarts for
the first time, before they were Sorted into different Houses and set on their
different, fateful paths …
here?” he demanded irritably.
shrugged. “You were happy here once, I suppose.”
frowned as he considered this. Crompton Park … where he had first laid eyes on
Lily; where he had first recognised in that fascinating girl the same magical
traits which he possessed and which set them both apart from the Muggle world
that surrounded them; where they had come to talk about magic and Hogwarts and
the wizarding world, and to escape from her jealous, interfering sister and his
parents’ constant fighting. All his memories of Crompton Park were wrapped up
I suppose I was … when I was with you.”
answering smile betrayed a little wariness, he thought.
so this is to be my Eternity, then?” he said bitterly. “Blasted Crompton Park, of all places! Will you stay with me?” In his abruptness, it sounded more
like a demand than a request, but the anxious, pleading look he turned on her
belied his tone.
lowered her head. “I can stay with you for a while … I can visit you, and I
will, I promise … But I can’t stay with you for ever, Sev. You understand?”
eyes brimmed with her apology, and he despised himself for forcing it from her,
for needing her so. He had no claim on her, had never had any claim on
understand,” he replied coldly. “You belong with Potter, I suppose?” His tone
was accusatory, though he had not intended it. Potter. Even after all
this time, even here, his rivalry with James Potter provoked a twisted feeling
of envy and loathing he could not restrain.
met his eyes with a steady, patient gaze. “He’s my husband and I love him. Of
course I belong with him. But there are others too. I have my parents here, and
many of my friends. Too many … This war …” she finished sadly.
think you loved me too, once,” he muttered, just audibly. The bitterness was
gone, but he could not disguise the regret, hollow and self-pitying. He
voice was soft. “When we were children, Sev, I loved you then. But I loved you
as a child loves: innocently. Those times are long gone. Too much has happened
in between. I’m sorry.”
sighed. She didn’t actually sound sorry, and he realised that he did not want
her to. It was all gone now. What was the use in raking over the hurt again?
she began again, “I doubt you’ll be stuck in Crompton Park for Eternity, not if
you don’t want to be. I’m sure there are other places you would like to visit,
real or imaginary, and other people you would like to see?”
nodded. “I should like to see Dumbledore … There is a lot I need to say to him,
and I still have so many questions. And – and my mother,” he added awkwardly.
am sure you will meet them soon,” she reassured him.
what do I do now?”
closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, tilting her face to the sun and letting her
long, auburn hair drape down her back like a silky curtain. “Oh, I don’t know…
Maybe just sit back and enjoy the sunshine?”
the sunshine?” he snorted.
she laughed. “Come on! Let’s swing!” She dragged the swing back and
pushed off the ground. “Feel the wind in your hair, Sev! Remember what it felt
like when we were little?” She tossed back her head and laughed playfully.
“Come on, it’s fun!”
was impossible to resist, as ever. Resignedly, he pulled back on the swing and
let go, rising slowly. Even though he knew there was no one to see him but her,
he could not shake off the feelings of self-consciousness. But he could not
draw his eyes from Lily, her hair trailing behind her like the fiery tail of a
phoenix as she pitched earthwards again, then launched herself with exuberant
abandon into the blue sky once more. In spite of his reluctance, a shout of
laughter escaped his chest. He had forgotten how much fun this was.
you remember that trick I used to do to freak Tuney out?” she called to him.
Yes!” he answered, as he heaved on the chains to pull himself higher and catch
going to do it again, watch me!” A peal of laughter. And then she let go. He
watched her leap, graceful and serene, and then soar, her arms outstretched
like the wings of a bird.
without thinking, he followed.
world slowed. For a long age there was only sky. And then a jumble of limbs and
robes and auburn hair, a blur of green …
* * *
two children tumbled to the grass in a tangled, laughing heap. For some time
they could barely move for laughing so much. Eventually, still reeling, the
black-haired boy staggered to his feet, and turned to help his little friend to
her feet. The girl lying sprawled across the grass, waiting to catch her breath
as she recovered from her fits of laughter, looked up at the boy with her
brilliant, grass-green eyes. Giggling still, she took his hand and let him tug
her to her feet. Then together, hand-in-hand, they ran towards the canalside:
two children, uncorrupted by the adult world, still immune to its influences
and blissfully ignorant of the roles destiny would thrust upon them … Two
children, playing in the park on a beautiful summer’s day.